Monday, September 09, 2013

Banana Maple Walnut Chia Pudding

Banana Maple Walnut Chia Pudding
I know I'm totally late to the Chia Seed Party, but I am SO glad I finally got here. The price of these little gems has been the only reason I failed to add them to my basket at the local health food store once I learned of their many delicious uses and praised health benefits. According to WebMD, 

'Chia seeds are an unprocessed, whole-grain food that can be absorbed by the body as seeds (unlike flax seeds . One ounce (about 2 tablespoons) contains 139 calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams fat, 12 grams carbohydrates and 11 grams of fiber, plus vitamins and minerals.  

Some claim that they're good for weight loss since they stave off appetite, plumping up in the belly, making one feel full.  I'm more interested in their health benefits aside from that. Chia seeds are full of fiber and Omega-3 Fatty Acids. As someone who suffers from hypertension, anything that helps with heart health is a welcome addition to my daily meals. Omega Fatty Acids promote brain and heart health, helping to maintain healthy cholesterol and blood sugar, and promote healthy digestion. Sounds good to me!
Our eldest kitty, Coda*, not exactly happy to share the counter space.
 My most recent trip to the health food store allowed for a little splurge so I knew just what aisle needed a visit. I opted for the Garden of Life brand as it's Organic and I got the most for my money compared to my other options without having to buy a ton. I wanted to try them out first before committing to a really large quantity. I also like that this brand is certified organic, and carries Vegan, Kosher, Non GMO, and GF and sustainable organic farming support labels.

My original idea, when I heard of the tiny seeds tendency to plump up and create a gelatinous ball around the seed, most like you'd find in a tomato, was to use in salad dressings. Some of my favorite, go-to vegan homemade dressing pack a punch of flavor, but are a bit on the thin side.

Once I got them home, though, I couldn't wait to try them out. I put a tablespoon in some blueberry lemonade and stirred now and then for ten minutes. While they did plump up and give me reason to chew a bit before swallowing (I enjoyed this a lot, actually), the ten minutes was not enough to suspend them as I've seen in many a post about the popular drink, the Lemon Chia Fresca. They did not impart any new flavor that I could distinguish, but I really loved the texture.

Still not having baked my oats for the week, I decided a breakfast pudding would be my next way to enjoy the chia seeds. Wanting a flavor similar to what I eat every morning, I mashed some banana, added almond milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and a pinch of salt, stirred and refrigerated overnight.
Just lookit all those plumped up seeds. Yum!
The results? Amazing, creamy pudding with tiny little pearls of texture that I can only liken to tapioca, which I also love. I ate them with crushed walnuts and a tiny drizzle of pure maple syrup. Loved it. I will say, though, that after eating what should be one serving of this pudding, I wasn't full. I drank a full glass of water and ate a plain piece of whole grain toast. Then I promptly ate the second serving of chia pudding. Yum. Now I'm stuffed. Live and learn! So while I'm about to get in the kitchen to make baked oats for the next eight breakfasts, I will also be mixing up some more of this pudding to eat as a dessert or for a between meals snack. 

Banana Maple Walnut Chia Pudding
serves 2

2 overripe bananas, mashed
1 c. unsweetened non-dairy milk (I use Almond)
3 T chia seeds
1 good pinch cinnamon
1 good pinch of nutmeg (I microplane whole nutmeg nuts)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
walnuts, crushed, for topping
1-2 tsp maple syrup, for drizzling

In a medium to large bowl, thoroughly mash bananas to a paste. There will be some smallish lumps. That's ok. Whisk in almond milk, chia seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and pinch of salt. Cover, and refrigerate overnight (or at least 8-12 hours). When ready to serve, divide into two smaller bowls and top with walnuts, drizzle with maple syrup.

I love that the flavor is reminiscent of banana nut muffins without filling myself full of some sort of bread. I can imagine the texture may not be pleasing to everyone, so I would recommend blending the whole pudding until smooth if things like Tapioca are not appealing to you.

*Coda is our eldest of our five remaining kitties. Just before the Cap'n and I were married in '97 we moved back to FL from the frigid Northeast. Cooped up in a tiny apartment with our first kitty rescue, Table, we both were working full time at whatever jobs we could get. One day while working at a balloon and party store, the Cap'n called me and said, 'You have to come get our new cat'. 'What? What's wrong with Tabes?', I asked, fearing he'd gotten out of the apartment and was hurt or had been lost. 'Just come, it's not Table' was the only reply I got. I left work early and drove over to his job which was situated next to an emergency vet clinic. Inside, in a large dog cage, was the tiniest black kitten with the biggest ears and bluest eyes I'd ever seen. She was purring so hard it made her whole body vibrate. I was told that as a four to five week old black kitten, if no one adopted her she would likely end up euthanized as fall in a college town is a bad place to be an orphaned infant feline. I had no carrier but scooped her into my arms and drove home with her curled up and shaking on my chest. At one stop light, just as it turned red, something spooked our poor girl and she raced down my body and under the break peddle. Unable to stop in the usual way I let off the gas and pulled the emergency break. I am happy to report that the car stopped, the kitty was safe, and my transmission didn't take a nosedive for being so mistreated. whew!  As a kitten, she loved to play hide and seek. she would jump out at us, rearing up on her hind legs, front paws up in the air like only tiny kittens can do, from any corner or dark spot she could crawl into, and we'd know it was 'game on'. We would hide and she would slink around looking for us. She knew where the mousies were kept and learned to open the drawer for herself. Funny, I never could get her to learn to clean up. :)  Since, sweet Coda/Codabear/CoCo has been through knee surgeries for a wayward patella, IBS (she's a very skittish soul), lots of moves, and more new furry family members and foster siblings than she ever wanted. She gets her own room and the run of the house when other cats are safely tucked away to spare her any extra anxiety. She loves only the Cap'n, me, and our daughter and basically wants nothing to do with anyone who isn't about to feed her. She's so very sweet to us though and lets us hold her like a baby and nuzzles me up under my chin, drooling and pointing those pretty doe eyes my way. She lives on lots of wet cat food, love, and the desire to outlive any other feline who has the audacity to reside here, and I feel so lucky that this tiny little beauty has been a member of our family for so long. 


Unknown said...

Totally LOVING your blog! Mind if I link up and visit often!? Let me know - swing by my place when you have a chance!

LOVE your cat! So precious!

Susan G said...

I love chia! love that gelatinous texture, with the little crunch as an afterthought.

J said...

Chia seeds are awesome; I always toss a scoop in my cereal. I'll definitely have to try this pudding sometime; it looks great!
Sweet little Coda; what a nice story. :)

Claryn said...

I, too, was regrettably late to the chia party! I haven't made chia pudding as such this way, but I've definitely made overnight oatmeal with chia, banana, walnuts, and maple syrup, and it's definitely one of my favorite flavor combos. Highly recommended! (Also, I really love the story about your sweet cat friend!)

Don't Get Mad, Get Vegan! said...

Claryn, I was thinking that oats would be a great addition. Maybe that would mean one serving would actually fill me up! ;)

Dawn said...

Oh, I want that. Adding to my list of things to visit after mofo.