A few years ago I, along with everyone else I know who’s ever used a treadmill, read a book called “Born to Run“ by Christopher McDougall which examined the running techniques of the Tarahumara people, who can run forever without stopping or eating or wearing shoes. The book’s popularity resulted in two trends: (1) barefoot running shoes with individual toe tubes that make people look like amphibians, and (2) the exultation of chia seeds as a pop-superfood.
While the book was good, it didn’t quite inspire me to run barefoot or carry a sack of seeds in my sports bra. But then something wonderful happened, and that thing was chia seed pudding.
I realize it’s probably existed for eons — particularly since “chia” is the Mayan word for strength — but I’m convinced that “Born to Run,” with its tale of runners subsisting on chia alone for endless miles, brought this faux-dessert into our cultural fold, where it now lines the shelves of upscale bodegas and juice bars in the form of the conveniently packaged Chia Pod.
After my first few Chia Pod encounters, a novel cup or so no longer sufficed. Sure, I was fully sated, but I wanted more pudding. Ideally a vat of pudding, because it’s pudding, and it’s delicious. So I looked up some recipes and learned that chia seed pudding isn’t even cooked; it just happens. You mix a few ingredients, do something else for a bit, come back and that’s IT. Which means that enchantingly textured nectar is basically always within reach. And, should one decide to branch out from cinnamon vanilla, there are endless flavor possibilities. Last week I made a grapefruit and coconut milk based pudding with honey basil simple syrup to drizzle on top. You know how long that took? Ten minutes.
And there are health benefits, too. Chia seeds have 11% of recommended daily fiber per ounce, 8x’s the amount of Omega-3s in salmon per ounce, 3x’s more calcium than milk per ounce, protein, antioxidants…blah blah blah. Here’s the pudding recipe:
You will need: 1 cup of nut, coconut or dairy milk, 3 tablespoons of chia seeds, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1/2 a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, honey or maple syrup to taste (a tablespoon or so), and a pinch of salt to bring out the flavor.
1. Mix the chia into the milk.
2. Add everything else. Depending on what kind of milk you’re using, you may want to add some maple syrup or honey.
3. Stir, refrigerate, stir some more.
Four hours later, chia seed pudding will have happened. If it’s too thick, mix in more liquid, if it’s too thin, add more chia. If the little chia balls don’t delight you, blend before refrigerating (and try half a banana for smoother pudding).
Or, you know, just use your man friend’s.
Balls, that is.