Penelope’s Kitchen: Discovering chia seeds

PENELOPE MOORE PHOTO | Chia pudding with banana and mango.
PENELOPE MOORE PHOTO | Chia pudding with banana and mango.

Over the past 16 months, I have attempted to replace lifelong food staples in my diet, including wheat, sugar and animal dairy. Overall, it has been successful, although finding appetizing alternatives for favorites has been a challenge.

For years at breakfast I ate yogurt or cottage cheese. I tried coconut milk yogurt but didn’t enjoy the texture, and trying to find plain coconut yogurt was not easy.

Then I discovered chia seeds, known as one of nature’s superfoods, which are from a plant grown in the desert in Mexico. They are high in nutrients and low in calories. Chia seeds possess more protein than other whole grains ­— one tablespoon is equivalent to the protein of one egg. They are high in soluble fiber content, rich in omega 3 fatty acids, help regulate cholesterol and provide energy. They are available at many area stores, including the IGA. Although a one-pound bag of seeds can cost between $8 and $10, it can make 40 servings of puddings.

The pudding has a creamy consistency and texture similar to tapioca. Easy to prepare, nutritious, delicious and versatile, chia seed pudding will be a morning favorite in your household.

Chia pudding with banana and mango

Serves 4

1/4 cup chia seeds
2 cups unsweetened almond milk (you can also substitute coconut, soy, cashew or regular milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons agave or other sweetener (stevia or honey)
Dash of salt

Put chia seeds into a sealable container. Add milk, vanilla, sweetener and salt.

Cover container and refrigerate overnight.

Stir before serving. Add fruits or nuts as desired.

A ripe banana added during preparation creates a wonderful banana pudding, but I use whatever fruit is on hand; one of my favorites is mango but orange or grapefruit segments can also be used. Adding 2 1/2 tablespoons of cocoa powder will create a satisfying chocolate pudding and a teaspoon of lavender also creates a delicious variation.