I’m a guy who’s normally pretty into the liberal, ultra-green, natural, organic, whatever stuff, but only as far as what I’m eating still tastes good. I’m pretty liberal, I know that global warming is a real thing, organic produce does honestly taste better to me, and I don’t mind paying a couple more bucks to make sure that the cow or chicken lived a decently nice life before it eventually died to fulfill its’ inevitable fate. However, I’m not vegetarian, I still eat fast food from time to time, and I don’t subscribe to any diet except just trying to not eat nothing but potato chips and cake all day. My wife and I cannot actually subscribe to anything too terribly vegetarian or vegan, because she’s a type 1 diabetic (that’s the one you’re born with). Vegan food normally tends to replace the meat products with carb-heavy things, which is the death knell of diabetics.
Anyway, this aesthetic especially applies to coffee shops, which Europeans and hipsters refer to as café’s before rolling their eyes at me. But I think coffee shop works well. You know what I want from a coffee shop? A great fucking cup of coffee. I want the caffeine to feel good and I want the coffee to taste good. If I’m hungry, I may want some pastries, but generally I want something like a sandwich, a quiche, or one of those amazing fresh baked loafs stuffed with meat, cheese, and other wonderful things like what the Edwin’s mom makes for my favorite coffee shop of all time (which I’ll probably write about at some time), Edwin’s Coffee & Tea. This is why I stick to coffee shops that stick to perfecting the art of great coffee and don’t play on current trends or try to be hip and niche.
This guy’s too ironic to care about coffee
So, I say this because I was at this local café near my home called Shine café in Sacramento, which specialized in being a healthy, organic, natural, etc. café. That means, yes they have coffee, but that’s beside the point because if you’ve got a weird super “healthy” or “super-natural” diet, they’ve got something for you. Honestly, I only mention the name of the café, because the café is actually pretty good and the coffee I had was actually pretty decent and well crafted. Well, there’s also the fact that my brother’s girlfriend is a co-owner of the shop, and that was really the only reason I was there. Oh yeah, and there’s the reason that I brought this up in the first place, they turned me on to Chia pudding.
When I went to this café, I had only a vague notion of what to expect, but considering that this girl had turned my brother on to a whole bunch of crazy health foods, brain food smoothies, and odd healthy experiments (he is a man who, besides being fed dinner by our mother as a child, has otherwise eaten nothing but fast food, ramen, and mac and cheese for about 15 years), I decided I was going to go experimental and take my chances that it would actually taste good. For some reason, on this day I was feeling like something dairy-ish. Maybe sweet. Probably a parfait. On their menu were two parfait options. One that sounded like a standard yogurt parfait, but with Greek yogurt. The other was a parfait made with something I’d never heard before: chia pudding.
I do know a little bit about Chia. As I mentioned before, I work for a place that constantly bombards me with information about new products and natural food trends. I knew that chia seeds were some new crazy superfood trend like so many before it. I knew that someone somewhere had said that there was a lot of benefits to chia seeds. But frankly, I never gave a shit. What the fuck am I going to do, eat seeds with milk like a bowl of Grape Nuts? Spend a bunch of time and effort baking chia seeds into muffins or something? Who knows how they taste? Maybe baking the seeds will release some sort of toxin or something. All these questions are of course within the reach of a quick internet search, but like many of my current age peers, I save my internet searches for things I actually care about, like porn or figuring out what the person on the podcast I listen to looks like.
But anyway, since I had committed to being experimental, and there was a vague reference to chia pudding being kinda tapioca-like on the menu, I decided to order a cup of it along with my mocha. And then my wife ordered a plate of almond waffles and immediately made me feel like a fool. A few minutes later, I received a parfait cup with a substance that kinda looked like the stuff in the bowl to the left with some blueberries, blackberries, and whipped cream on top. I looked at what I beheld in front of me. I looked at the waffles my wife was thoroughly enjoying, and I sighed in despair. But I manned up and took a bite.
And I was blown away. It was good! It really did remind me of tapioca. It had that distinct vanilla flavor, the goopy bubbles that vaguely look like fish eggs but are fun to chomp on, and a sweetness that was light but exemplified by the wonderfully clean taste of local berries. I let my wife try it, and she was also surprised. I then finished the rest of the cup, had a great conversation with my brother, and then went on to do the other things we were doing that day. Meanwhile, my wife was plotting to learn how to make chia pudding, while casually mentioning to me.
So if you prepare it well, it tastes good. So what?
Well, since my wife is a food nut (I think this is a symptom of having any condition that limits you on what foods you can have), this idea of figuring out how to make chia pudding lasted longer than the 30-minutes that it took me to forget about it. So on the sly, she was looking up recipes.
At the same time, my test results came in from a kidney stone I recently had and finally passed after 3 weeks. Turns out, it’s a fairly normal kidney stone, made up of various carbon and calcium-based compounds (which is a good thing). On the recommendations e-mail I got, it told me to increase my fluid intake (by that they mean water, not sodas or alcohol. I asked.), but also increase my calcium intake. It’s true, since my wife and I started trying to limit our carbohydrates for her health (and for mine), I haven’t been eating a lot of good sources or calcium (we barely ever drink milk, and it’s normally almond milk, and while we do eat salads, I typically avoid the things that are really good sources of both calcium and the nutrients you need to utilize it). Well, lo and behold, next time we go to the grocery store, my wife was looking at chia seeds while I was looking at the cottage cheese. Moments later, she ran over to me, threw a bag of chia seeds in the cart, and proceeded to tell me that chia seeds are a great source of calcium. Alright, alright. We’ll try it and see how our experiment goes.
So we did. Turns out, making chia pudding is really similar to making tapioca pudding. You put in seeds, add in almond milk, add your flavor, stir it up, and let it sit in the fridge. Actually, making tapioca is harder. Also note, I’ve never found a recipe for chia pudding that uses cow’s milk, and while that may be because there’s something about plant milk that’s better for making pudding, I firmly believe that it’s because nobody expects anyone but vegans to eat this stuff. But damn it, you should. Here’s why:
Chia seeds are really REALLY good for you
So, not only are Chia seeds a great source of calcium (a serving contains 18% of your daily required amount), but it’s actually chock full of great nutrients that we humans need and may not necessarily get from other foods.
Manganese and Phosphorous: Chia seeds are great sources of these important nutrients, which prevents osteoporosis, helps your body utilize other nutrients your bones and teeth need, and even help the body utilize protein to manufacture skin cells and muscles cells.
Omega-3: I know you’ve heard a great deal about how Omega-3’s are supposed to be sooo good for you. Well they are. They help unclog your LDL cholesterol ridden blood vessels, increase the “lubricant” of the body that is HDL cholesterol, prevent blood clots, and even help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s. But typically the best source of Omega-3’s come from fish. Well, if you don’t like fish, know that chia seeds are actually chock full of Omega-3’s. A one-ounce serving contains nearly five grams of Omega-3s
Protein: For many people like me, protein is not an issue. People like meat. But, vegetarians and vegans do not like meat. This is why almonds and flax seeds were popular food trends for a while. However, in addition to having the ingredients that help your body utilize protein, chia seeds also have a lot of protein on their own. That same one-ounce of chia seeds contains 4.4 grams of protein. Furthermore, many traditional protein sources like nuts and beans lack the additional nutrients your body needs to take full advantage of the protein, requiring you to add other food to the mix. But, with the chia seed’s blend of vitamins, minerals, and protein, the chia seed is actually a complete protein. That’s all just to say that the complete protein that chia seeds provide will actually give you a natural energy boost for your day.
Eat Less, Be Healthier: I know you eat too much. Most of you are American. Of course we eat too much. Because we don’t care about nutrition. We care about being full. Well, Chia seeds have lots of great anti-oxidants and amino acids, including the legendary tryptophan. This chemical works similarly to how it does with Turkey. When you feel sooo full at the end of that meal, it may be because you ate way too much, but it might also be because this chemical is regulating your appetite and making you feel fuller, faster. I don’t personally subscribe to the theory that tryptophan makes you tired, since I’ve heard it be disputed time and time again (I think it has to do with carb overload, but that’s just me). But regardless, tryptophan has been found to actually improve sleep patterns and even improve mood. Any hey, having tons of anti-oxidants and amino acids will also keep you healthier and prevent you from getting sick. So even if you’re already super healthy and shit, you’ve got that too.
Prevent Diabetes, Poop Better: Chia seeds also have a lot of good stuff that helps with diet and digestion. These seeds are a great source of fiber, which is not only good for your digestion, but as any diabetic or person living with a diabetic knows, also limits the impact of carbohydrates on your body. Foods these days are typically over processed, chock full of complex carbohydrates like starches, and fiber is unfortunately absent from most of them. The thing is, fiber cuts down the amount of insulin that the body has to use in order to process carbohydrates, helps the body to process carbohydrates more efficiently, and limits the amount of carbohydrates that inevitably turn into fat because you’re too lazy to get up and exercise. If you are American, like me, you need to be eating crazy crap tons of fiber. As I have learned in the 10 years my wife and I have been together, Americans subsist almost entirely on carbohydrates, and eating fiber will actually help equalize the impact. Beyond that, fiber has the somewhat more obvious impact of helping your digestion. Fiber literally forms the shape and consistency of your poop. Liquid-ey and inconsistent poop is all due to a lack of fiber.
Chia seeds don’t taste like much but they do taste great
Yes that does make sense. Chia seeds are a lot like chicken or tofu or vodka. They don’t taste like much on their own (the reason vodka tastes so terrible is because you’re literally getting no flavor except for the taste of alcohol). But they all absorb the flavor of whatever is put into them. Well, the exception to that is chia seeds. In reality, they amplify the flavor of anything you put in them. That’s why, when you notice chia pudding recipes (I’ll link to a few at the end of this), you’ll notice there isn’t a lot of flavorful things being put into it. Besides chia pudding, you can actually put chia seeds in almost anything and increase the flavor by quite a bit. But, I find that I do need either some honey and jam, or some vanilla extract, in order to truly enjoy chia pudding. But the great thing is that if you’re super health conscious, you can actually just eat straight chia pudding with no additional flavor, and it’ll be like eating something that tastes like nothing but feels like tapioca. Tasting like nothing is way better than tasting like crap and having to mask it.
Almond milk is also really REALLY good for you
I wouldn’t recommend switching your entire milk input to almond milk, since there are some very valuable things about cow’s milk that help us out that aren’t included in almond milk. However, almond milk is actually pretty damn good for you and for those who are unable to have dairy or have special dietary needs, almond milk is almost a perfect replacement. In fact, almond milk takes all the benefits that chia seeds provide and either adds to them or completes them.
Chia seeds promote healthy cholesterol levels. Almond milk has no cholesterol, since it’s a plant based milk, and no sodium.
Chia seeds help regulate blood sugars and process carbohydrates effectively. Almond milk has very little carbohydrates, so letting the chia seeds give you the most impact for the rest of your meal.
Chia seeds are a great source of calcium. Almond milk is also a great source of calcium, but also vitamin D and E. Both these nutrients aid the body in utilizing calcium.
Chia seeds help your body create skin and muscle tissue using protein. Almond milk contains riboflavin and iron, which help your muscles utilize energy to grow and repair (the combination is great for people who work out).
Try it out. It’s great.
Unlike a lot of articles that look like this one, you might be wondering if this is sponsored. I do work for a natural food distributor. Nope, no sponsorship. I’m getting no money for this shit. I do it because I have a weird sense of fun. This site is all about me putting up shit that I found awesome so that you can know what’s awesome too. And besides, I’m an office junky that does spreadsheet crap, I’m not any sort of management, and we distribute to grocery stores. I don’t give a fuck if you personally take my advice.
But damn it, chia seeds are freaking amazing. And chia pudding is a really friggin easy and tasty way to get some in your mouth. And you can play around with the pudding and flavor it in so many ways. Since standard chia pudding has no flavor and since chia seeds amplify whatever flavor is put into them, the combinations are practically endless. It’s not that you have to completely change your diet to incorporate chia pudding either. Both chia seeds and almond milk are generally shelf stable, so you can make a giant batch of it and it will last for months. Add a dollop of it next to your English muffin or cereal in the morning. Add some berries to a cup of it and have it alone for breakfast, like I did that one day. Sweeten it up a little more than usual and add some whipped cream for a tasty and filling desert.
And in case you don’t like that whole searching the internet thing, here’s a few good recipes to try out.
2 cups milk
2/3 cup chia seeds
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons raisins (optional)
Combine milk, chia seeds, sugar, and vanilla extract in a bowl; let sit about 10 minutes. Stir the mixture, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 8 hours to overnight.
Top the pudding with coconut and raisins to serve.
Simple Chocolate Chia Pudding
1 cup: almond milk
2 tablespoons: chia seeds
1 teaspoon: cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon: cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon: maple syrup
1 Mix all ingredients together. Chill in the fridge at least four hours. I usually chill overnight. (You might want to stir after the first hour just to make sure there aren’t any clumps.)
A great recipe for the morning for breakfast. Very similar to what I had at Shine. This can probably be a breakfast on it’s own. Since the site goes into great detail about exactly what I’ve already told you, I’m posting the recipe below (which is like a 10th of the way down the incredibly scroll-heavy site).
Superfood Triple Berry Chia Pudding
Servings: 2 • Size: about 1 cup • Old Points: 2 pts • Weight Watcher Points+: 2 pt
Calories: 110 • Fat: 5 g • Carb: 12 g • Fiber: 7.5 g • Protein: 4 g • Sugar: 3 g
Sodium: 64 mg • Cholest: 0 mg
- 1 cup unsweetened almond/coconut milk beverage (used Almond Breeze)
- 3/4 cup fresh blueberries, blackberries and raspberries
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
5-6 drops Nu-Naturals liquid stevia (or sugar/honey to taste)
Combine the Almond Breeze almond-coconut milk together with the chia seeds and fruit in a glass jar with a lid. Cover and shake well, set aside for 15 minutes. Give it another good shake then refrigerate overnight or at least 5-6 hours.
Our Most Recent Chia Pudding
I’ll just finish up with the most recent experiment we tried. We ended up making a small batch, so this can be upscaled with the demand. This is entirely un-scientific by the way, but it ended up tasting good, so whatever.
1 cup of Almond milk (unsweetened)
3 tablespoons of chia seeds
1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of the jelly or jam of your choice (we used blackberry pomegranate)
- Mix the ingredients and stir until the honey and jam or jelly is incorporated
- Stir three more times over the next 20 minutes (every 5 minutes)
- Refrigerate for at least 5 hours (overnight)