Oatmeal season will return before we know it, but this summer, I’ve been enjoying smoothies for breakfast, as have my kids, who have finally started to grow tired of cereal. We throw in yogurt and whatever fruit we have on hand, and I always sneak in some chia seeds or even a handful of spinach or kale. As long as there are blueberries in the mix, the kids can’t distinguish the dark flecks of ingredients they think they don’t like.
But what if chia seeds became the star of the show? I’ve written before about how much I enjoy the texture of these little seeds, which release a kind of gel when they are soaked in liquid. But when you puree them in a blender, they lose some of that spherical shape, and the texture gets a little lost in the smoothie.
Anita Cheung, the blogger behind fearlesscaptivations.com who posts to Instagram as @wanderlustanita, shared this photo of a chia pudding last week that left me craving strawberries and coconut milk for breakfast. Cheung has been participating in the Whole30, a monthlong effort to cut out grains, dairy and sugar from your diet, and she said that though she successfully cut added sugar, her sweet tooth stills nags her from time to time.
She soaked chia seeds in a combination of coconut and almond milks and served the resulting pudding with slices of organic strawberries, whose flavor, she notes, cannot compare with conventionally grown strawberries.
Her dish made me think about this spin on chia pudding from “Green Kitchen Smoothies” by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl (Hardie Grant, $20). The authors mash berries — any berries — with desiccated coconut, which is shredded unsweetened coconut that has been even further shredded and dried. You could use regular shredded coconut or pulse coconut in a food processor a few times to make the pieces even finer.
If you can’t wrap your head around eating chia seeds, you could use old-fashioned oats instead, but try the chia seeds. They are inexpensive when you buy a cup of them from the bulk section at the grocery store and pack even more of a nutritional punch, with fiber and fatty acids, than oats.
Chia and Raspberry Pudding
This raspberry variation of a chia pudding is simple, satisfying and very delicious as a breakfast or snack. You could even serve it for dessert if you sweeten it slightly by blending dates with the milk. It is also perfect as a quick, on-the-go breakfast to keep in the fridge. Add whatever toppings you prefer. We like to add some nut butter as it balances out the sweet and tangy fruit flavors.
— David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl
1 cup raspberries or other fresh berries (or frozen and thawed)
3 Tbsp. desiccated coconut
3 Tbsp. black chia seeds
1/2 tsp. ground vanilla or vanilla extract
1 cup plant milk of choice
For the topping:
A scoop of hazelnut or almond butter
Chopped kiwi or additional fresh berries
Fresh mint leaves
Put the raspberries in a bowl and mash them with a fork. Stir in the coconut, chia seeds and vanilla and then pour over the milk and mix until well combined. Stir every now and again for the first 10 minutes to prevent lumps from forming.
Set aside to soak in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight. The pudding is ready when the consistency is thick and jellylike.
Spoon into two medium-size glass jars or a large one. Cover with a layer of nut butter and finish with the fruit, a few mint leaves and a sprinkling of hemp seeds. It can keep for a couple of days in the fridge (without the toppings), if unopened. Serves 1 to 2.
— From “Green Kitchen Smoothies: Healthy and Colorful Smoothies for Every Day” by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl (Hardie Grant, $20)