If you're a chia newbie, you're probably shaking your head right now, wondering why people keep making food out of weird seeds. I don't think the Man initially did cartwheels when I told him we were having chia pudding for breakfast, but despite his skepticism, his jar was empty and he was smiling after about three minutes, so I guess he overcame his initial doubt. Despite their odd appearance, chia seeds have been gaining a lot of popularity as of late, and for good reason. They're quite nutritious, and really useful in the kitchen!
The chia plant is actually in the mint family, and as you can see, its seeds readily absorb liquid and become nice and plump. I add a tablespoon of chia seeds to the blender jar for thick, silky smoothies, and I obviously make puddings out of them too. They don't taste like anything on their own (nope—not minty at all), so they make a great canvas for other flavors, plus they're high in antioxidants, protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. And while I don't believe that any single food is the miracle cure, chia seeds would be a great addition to one's diet.
This recipe is perfect for breakfast, a snack or dessert. I prepared it last week while doing some recipe testing for Foodstand's No Sugary Breakfast Challenge, and had to use some serious self-control to leave the jar in the fridge for breakfast. (But I managed. I was feeling particularly strong-willed at the time.) Regardless of whether you eat it for breakfast, as a snack, or for dessert, you do need to let the mixture sit for at least 6 hours to thicken into a "pudding," so be sure to plan ahead. (And then hide it in the back of the fridge so you don't accidentally devour it in the meantime.) Assembly only takes a minute.
Using mashed banana sweetens this pudding wonderfully—no need for any added sugar, which is one reason why I love it so much. A little cinnamon, vanilla extract and sea salt rounds out the flavors, resulting in one of the sweetest, creamiest vegan treats that's actually nutritious and so easy to make. Another perk: jar recipes make great portable breakfasts you can eat on the go, if you tend to have a morning time crunch.
You can top this pudding with anything you like, but I prefer sliced fruit and toasted nuts for some additional flavor and crunch. For those of you already familiar with overnight chia pudding, I hope you enjoy this no added sugar variation. And for those of you thinking this pudding looks and sounds crazy, I urge you to give it a try. I mean, Jell-O looks like technicolor slime but somehow it became America's favorite wiggly treat, and chia's actually good for you!
BANANA CHIA PUDDING
- ½ ripe medium banana, mashed
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- A pinch of sea salt
- A small splash of vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- ¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
- Sliced strawberries (or banana, peach, etc.)
- Toasted pecans (or almonds, walnuts, etc.)
Combine the mashed banana, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, chia seeds and almond milk in a jar. Shake until combined, or whisk together with a fork. Screw on the jar lid, and refrigerate overnight (or for at least 6 hours). Top with sliced fruit and nuts.