5 Ingredient Chia Seed Vanilla Pudding

Holy crap, I’m finally doing it. I’m posting a dessert recipe. Don’t get too excited, this is really not all that great. BUT, it is really easy to make. The only thing is- you kind of have to like tapioca pudding (the texture) in order to like it.

photo (17)

Sorry there are no better pictures of the actual pudding. I took about 45, in every different light possible, but it just didn’t show up right.  

A little back story.. I went grocery shopping on Tuesday night and as I wandered around Safeway, I found so many paleo treats! I get so excited seeing our regular grocery stores having more and more paleo goodies. I have resisted buying Nutella every single time I have shopped, mainly because I’m pretty sure TJ would eat it all. But when I was buying peanut butter this week, I noticed jars and mini packets of Justin’s Butters. I have bought these once before when I was at Homegoods because there was a pack of 6 maple almond butters for like $2.99. At Safeway, ONE pack of chocolate hazelnut butter was $1.29. I still bought 3 of them because I wanted to give it a taste.photo 1 (19)

Turns out, I think I’m allergic to hazelnuts. My tongue got itchy, my lips swelled up, my throat felt tight. It was real cute. I compared the ingredients of the chocolate hazelnut butter to the maple almond butter that I had gotten the week before and the only thing really different was hazelnut. As TJ pointed out, Nutella hasn’t given me the same reaction, so he assumed it couldn’t be hazelnuts. I decided to do a little research and this is what I found:

Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Blend Ingredients: Dry Roasted Hazelnuts, Dry Roasted Almonds, Organic Evaporated Cane Sugar, Organic Cocoa, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Palm Fruit Oil, Natural Vanilla, Sea Salt.

Here are all the ingredients in Nutella: Sugar, Palm oil, Hazelnuts, Cocoa, Skim Milk, Reduced Minerals Whey (milk), Lecithin as emulsifier (soy), Vanillin: an artificial flavor.
Justin’s lists hazelnuts as its first ingredient. Nutella lists sugar. Problem #1. Plus, Justin’s was much more grainy and no where near as smooth as Nutella is. My conclusion is that Justin’s contains a lot more actual hazelnut, and it was most definitely the hazelnuts that caused the problem for me. That kind of sucks, but it’s good to know!
Another thing I found at Safeway that day was Chia Pods. They were pretty cool little individual servings of chia puddings. I chose the vanilla bean flavor because vanilla is awesome. The ingredients were incredibly simple: just coconut milk, vanilla bean paste and chia seeds. However, one little pod was $3.29. What in the hell? I bought one with the intention of trying it, but I kind of hoped I wouldn’t like them because that price is really steep. And then it hit me: I can make these myself. Duh.
First things first: would I even like them? I’m not about to make something at home if I’m not even going to like it. So I had one for dessert and I have to admit, I was kind of let down. The smell when you open them is absolutely ;heavenly, but the flavor doesn’t really match the smell. To be honest, I almost think it needed more sugar.  There are VERY few times you will ever hear me saying that.
So last night I decided to experiment a little bit and attempt to make my own chia pudding. The really cool thing about chia seeds (other than their pretty awesome health benefits) is that they turn to gel when they’ve been soaked in a liquid for a little while (hence my tapioca pudding reference earlier). I have to admit, the final product was pretty damn good. The texture and consistency was completely different than the chia pod I tried, but I’m ok with that.
Fair warning: this ingredient list contains quite a bit of sugar. Yes, its natural sugars and nothing processed, but it is still sugar. Like I always say: sugar is sugar no matter how you consume it. Your body is going to process it all the same. Are these better than eating a Jell-O pudding? Yes. Are they better than eating 5 cookies? Duh. But they are still a dessert and should be treated as such.
1/2 cup almond milk (I actually used vanilla almond milk to give it an extra vanilla kick)
1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp honey or natural maple syrup. I think this can be eliminated, but I used it this time to make sure it was sweet enough. Next time, I will probably do without.
1/4 cup chia seeds
Put the first 4 ingredients in a blender or food processor and quickly blend it all together. Its all liquid, so it won’t take more than about 15 seconds. When I tried it after blending it, it tasted kind of like melted whipped cream. Yum. Then add your chia seeds and mix everything together with a spoon. Put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to let the chia seeds become gel-like. I left mine overnight.
When I tasted it this morning it had a much more whipped texture to it (possibly because I used my food processor to blend it) and it tasted just like a light vanilla pudding with a slight crunch (the seeds will do that).
***You can really make this 1,000 different ways. Replace the almond milk with coffee and make a coffee pudding. Add cocoa powder instead of vanilla extract (or in addition to) and make it chocolate. Add fruit! The possibilities are endless!***



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