This whole late/slow adopter thing isn’t always a bad thing. Take for example the trend of egg white omelets. Need I say more? Yuck! Sometimes (real) food trends, although well intentioned, go horribly wrong.
With that said, today, I’m sharing my take on a food trend that’s been around for a couple of years now: chia pudding.
And while this is definitely a trendy new food idea, the ingredients used aren’t anything new–meaning they’re just good, real, natural ingredients that generations before us used to nourish their bodies. It just took a very creative person to put the ingredients together to create something called, chia “pudding”.
Can I just stop here and climb up on a soapbox for a minute? Yes? Oh good, it was coming…
Aren’t real ingredients amazing? Oh the possibilities! What are the possibilities with processed food? Nothing! A Pop Tart can only ever be one “food”… a Pop Tart. Berries, milk, chia seeds, maple syrup, and vanilla extract can become a great many (good and nourishing) foods.
If you’re new to the chia pudding idea, here’s what you need to know…
Chia pudding is made with milk (such as: nut milk, coconut milk, or cow’s milk), chia seeds, and natural flavorings (like berries, honey, cinnamon). When chia seeds come in contact with liquid, they swell–it’s their natural response–which takes a basic liquid from watery to more gel-like. When the chia seeds are swirled into milk, the end result is a thick, gel-like food that reminded the original creator of this trend of, pudding.
Now, let me just stop right here to make a quick note. Chia pudding definitely isn’t the pudding from my childhood, but then again, the pudding from my childhood was exactly real either (Hey, it was the ’80s and ’90s.). Chia pudding definitely has a different texture than a traditional pudding, but don’t knock it (like I did) until you try it.
I like to add a bit of extra dazzle to my chia pudding by placing frozen berries at the bottom of my storage jar and then pouring the prepared pudding mixture over the top. The end result reminds of a fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt (yep, another memory from my childhood). Maybe I should call this, “Very Berry Fruit-on-the-Bottom Chia Pudding”? Cue the waiting room music. I’ll be right back to fix that title…
I don’t find that chia pudding fills me up as a meal, so I generally enjoy a pudding early in the morning before a workout (when it’s still too early for a full breakfast), in the afternoon as a snack, or in the evening as a dessert. The pudding needs to be prepped in advance, which means there’s usually one jar waiting in the fridge for me (or another family member) to enjoy whenever we need something light and slightly-sweet.
Very Berry Fruit-on-the-Bottom Chia Pudding
A quick, simple, and naturally-sweetened chia pudding with berries on the bottom. Prep this in advance and store it in the fridge for a quick breakfast, snack, or dessert.
- 1/2 cup frozen berries I prefer mixed frozen berries
- 1/2 cup milk such as: a nut milk, coconut milk, or dairy milk
- 1/2-1 tsp sweetener to taste, pure maple syrup or honey (optional)*
- 1/4-1/2 tsp vanilla extract to taste
- 2 TB chia seeds
Place the frozen berries in a medium-size bowl. Allow the berries to defrost until they're slightly soft. Mash the berries with the back of a fork.
Place the mashed berries in the bottom of a mason jar (or storage jar with a lid). I use an 8-ounce mason jar. Keep in mind, this recipe makes one jar of pudding. You'll want to double or triple the recipe, using multiple jars if you want more pudding.
Using the same bowl, whisk together the milk, sweetener (if using), and vanilla extract. Finally, whisk in the chia seeds.
Pour the chia milk over the berries. Place the lid on the jar, and then place the jar in the fridge. Allow the chia seeds to set, which turns the milk into a pudding-like consistency. This can take about three hours, although I highly recommend letting the mixture rest overnight for the best results.
Serve the pudding cold. Optional: Top the pudding with additional frozen (defrosted berries), sliced bananas, coconut or toasted coconut, granola, or nut butter. Or, just enjoy the pudding as-is.
*If the milk is already sweetened (such as a cashew milk or almond milk that's already sweetened with dates or maple syrup), then you're welcome to skip the sweetener. I personally skip it since I find the berries are naturally sweet and, when they're mixed with the pudding, the mixture is sweet enough for my taste.
I purchase frozen mixed berries from the store, which are used in this pudding and in our smoothies. Feel free to make your own blend of mixed berries with any berries in your freezer, or stick with just one variety (just strawberries or blueberries).
This is a very berry pudding recipe, but I think you could also do the same thing with frozen mangoes. I bet that would be an amazing chia pudding with a very tropical flavor. Chia seeds don't gel with an acid like citrus, so using pineapple or citrus fruits probably aren't good options.
Costco is definitely the cheapest source for chia seeds.
The berries don't come in contact with the chia milk mixture in this recipe, so they don't gel or develop a pudding like texture. The milk is the only part of this recipe that will thicken. If you mix the berries with the chia milk ahead of time versus doing a fruit-on-the-bottom pudding, you'll probably need more chia seeds.
If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #LIVESIMPLYBLOG. I'd love to see what you make!
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