Chia seeds gelatinize liquids, turning them into a kind of pudding.
Why would anyone eat tapioca pudding when they could have chia seed pudding instead?
Frankly, I could go the rest of my life without eating tapioca – also known as “frog spawn” in some circles because of its gooey little balls of texture. It comes from an actual plant – who knew? – but as far as nutrition goes, it’s pretty starchy. One cup (of tapioca pearls, not the pudding) has 544 calories and 134 carbs, with less than a gram of protein.
Tapioca pearls are tiny balls of starch extracted from the Cassava root.
Chia seeds, on the other hand, are a nutritional powerhouse food, touted as a source of energy among the Tarahumara “running people” in Christopher McDougall’s book, Born to Run.
We’ve had some around the house for a while, but I’ve only used them in their seed form. Turns out if you stir them into a liquid – in this case, almond milk – the tiny seeds soften up and convert the liquid into a gel.
Some runners use a homemade chia gel in place of energy gels. I don’t care for goop on the run myself (I prefer honey balls). But the chia pudding in neurologist and author David Perlmutter’s Grain Brain Cookbook sounded like a major upgrade from the tapioca pudding I remember from my childhood. And I have to say, it was actually fairly tasty, even if it does look somewhat similar to tapioca.
Raw Chia Seed Pudding
Chia seeds are pretty normal looking in their dry state. I used 1/4 cup in my most recent half-batch (just in case I eat the whole thing)!
2 cups almond or coconut milk (we used almond)
2 Tablespoons almond butter (I used 2 T. of PB2, a dehydrated peanut butter powder, instead)
1 T. stevia (I used one packet)
1 t. almond or vanilla extract
½ cup chia seeds
Stir the powdered ingredients into the milk, then add the chia seeds and refrigerate overnight to allow the seeds to soften and thicken the pudding. Top with blueberries, if you like.
Note A: This recipe is supposed to make four servings, but since I’m the only person who eats it at this point I prefer to make a smaller batch so that if I’m tempted to eat the whole thing (duh!), it won’t be such a calorie hit.
Note B: The recipe in the book calls for almond butter and recommends running the concoction through a blender. Since I used powders I just stirred it with a fork and it turned out fine, but if you use a nut butter you might want to go with a blender.
Nutrition information (per ¼ batch serving, as made per the original recipe using almond butter): 160 calories, 14 carbs, 9 grams fiber, 5 grams protein, 10 grams fat, and 2 grams sugar.