January 22nd, 2013

Easiest, no-cook Coconut Chia Pudding

OneHungryMama no-cook coconut chia pudding

I’m a little late to the party, but officially obsessed with chia seeds. And with Downton Abbey, too, for that matter.

I resisted both for a while. In both cases, my reasoning—part skepticism, part rebellion against their popularity—unraveled after just one try. Chia is pretty damn cool: it is nutritious, works as a killer substitute for egg in my waffles (recipe coming soon!) and just plain makes me feel good. Downton Abbey is also pretty damn cool: rich and layered, dramatic and well acted. My life is anew with both. I look forward to starting my day with chia (blended into my smoothie) and ending it with an episode (or two) of Downton. Pathetic? Perhaps, but I’m feeling energetic and highly entertained, two of my favorite things.

Thank you ch-ch-ch-chia and Lady Mary.

This recipe, a no-cook pudding made by mixing a few ingredients in a bowl and letting chia seeds do their thing, is a revelation. The texture is similar to tapioca pudding, but it has way less added sugar, way more nutrition (chia seeds are packed with amino acids and are a complete protein!) and—the best part—is way easier to make.

I’ve made three big batches of this pudding since developing the recipe and have served it at breakfast, as part of the hungry boy’s school lunch and for dessert. I love this stuff and can’t wait to experiment with it more. Using cow’s milk? Coconut water? The possibilities are endless!

Have you ever made a chia pudding? If so, do tell! What ingredients did you whisk together?

Coconut Chia Pudding
(can be shared with kids 6+ mos)
Makes about 2 cups of pudding

2 tablespoons honey or agave
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk*
4 tablespoons chia seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

1. Put honey or agave in a small bowl and add a few drops of water. Whisk to thin the texture. If your honey is very thick or has crystalized, you may even want to heat the honey/water mixture to dissolve the sweetener.

2. Add thinned honey, coconut milk, vanilla almond milk, chia seeds and cinnamon, if using, to a medium bowl. Whisk until thoroughly mixed. Cover and place in refrigerator overnight or for at least 4 hours, until the mixture has a pudding texture. Serve cold. Store pudding in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

* Note: To make this nut-free, simply substitute unsweetened vanilla soy milk for the almond milk or double the coconut milk. If you choose the latter, add pure vanilla extract to taste to get a bit of vanilla flavor.

25 Responses

  1. Kate says:

    These look amazing! I have a giant bag of chia seeds that I bought to use in overnight oats. The fam were not fans of that experiment. Anyway, to clarify the coconut milk that the recipe calls for: is it the real deal coconut milk that comes in the can in the ethnic food section? or is it the coconut milk found next to the almond milk? Until last week, I would have instantly grabbed the canned variety, but obviously, my faith has been questioned.

  2. One Hungry Mama says:

    Hi @Kate – I’ve tried both types of coconut milk and both work. I prefer the kind in the carton (next to the almond milk), but I tried the canned stuff b/c I know it’s more common for people to have on hand. I just had to whisk a little more to smooth out the few clumps of creme that came out of the can.

    Let me know when you try this!

    (And what happened with the overnight oats with chia—that sounds like such a good idea!!)

  3. Susan says:

    How do you get unsweetened vanilla almond milk?

  4. One Hungry Mama says:

    Believe it or not @ Susan, I’ve seen it at every place that I’ve seen Almond milk! It’s hard to see on the package—all the almond milk cartons look the same—but close inspection will show that some of the vanilla almond milk cartons are “unsweetened.” Blue Diamond is not my favorite, favorite brand overall, but I find that it’s the easiest one to find in unsweetened vanilla. Check out this link and, in the picture, look at the banner across the top of the front of the package:
    http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Diamond-Almond-Unsweetened-Vanilla/dp/B004I47R6Y/ref=sr_1_5?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1358879197&sr=1-5&keywords=unsweetened+vanilla+almond+milk

    And, if you really can’t find unsweetened vanilla, my second choice would be plain unsweetened and then add vanilla. This allows you to control the sugar. My last choice would be to use vanilla, but then taste the mixture *before* you add the honey or agave and only sweeten as necessary. (It doesn’t have to be pudding consistency for you to taste for sweetness, just take a sip and you should be able to tell.)

    Hope that helps.

  5. Kirsti says:

    I’m enjoying this now as I type. It’s funny that I searched “coconut chia” and you posted this two days ago. Perfect.

  6. Kate says:

    You have created a monster. This pudding is so magically delicious. My kids (almost 4 and almost 2) loved it. They had some for their afternoon snack (with strawberries, people) and asked for it again that evening for their “bessert.” I made it with the canned variety of coconut milk and it was indulgent. I will try it with the refrigerated coconut milk for an “everyday” type snack. I love that this is dairy-free! Thank you sharing a wonderful recipe.

  7. Magically delicious is the perfect way to describe this, @Kate! I’m so glad your family is digging this. I got an email from someone who told me that they’ve already adapted this using chocolate coconut milk (the kind in the carton) and a few drops of pure peppermint extract. They said that it was amazing. How genius to use extracts?! There is more experimentation to come. I’ll post some of the best results. Let me know if you try variations, too.

  8. Jordan says:

    Hmmmm…I’ve tried to make this twice and both times, it never firmed up?!? Still soup-y 24 hours later….
    The first time I just covered the bowl with tin foil and thought that was my mistake, but the second time I put the mixture in a pyrex dish with a sealed lid. Is there such a thing as “bad” chia seeds?!? Any thoughts/tips would be appreciated.

  9. @Jordan that’s so odd! This has never happened to me and I just did a search to find very little info about why this might happen. I read something that suggested that your seeds might be stale (my first thought), but then read another thing about how chia seeds don’t really go stale. You might want to test your seeds with just water. Try putting 1/2 cup of water and 1 1/2 teaspoons chia seeds in a mason jar, seal and shake vigorously. Let that sit int he fridge. This should start turning into a gelatin like substance within 10-15 min. If not, try adding more chia seeds—maybe another 1 tsp—shake again, let sit for another 10-15 min. If this doesn’t do the trick, I’m stumped. If it does, try the pudding again, this time adding extra seeds.

    In case you’re interested in my (nerdy) thinking: the gelatin that forms around the chia seed connects with the gelatin formed around the other chia seeds around it which is what suspends them/makes a pudding like consistency; my thinking is that adding more seeds increases the density and likelihood that you’ll get it to be like pudding.

    Or you can just buy some new seeds and try again. LOL. I hope this helps!!! :-)

  10. Jordan says:

    Ok! Will give it a shot…stay tuned. :)

  11. Jordan says:

    SUCCESS! Believe it or not, I think it was something with one of my milks?!?! After your email, I bought some new chia seeds from a different store and gave it another shot. Again, no luck. Soup. I pretty much threw in the towel on this recipe. Then today, I was at a different grocery store and bought some “toasted coconut” almond milk. Used the same chia seeds as before (and same honey) and its only been in the fridge for 20 minutes, but I can already tell its working! Hooray!!!! I had originally purchased Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk and Unsweetened Coconut Milk. It seemed one of those two milks was the bad seed. Pun intended. :)
    Thanks! Next attempt, Spinach Almond Pesto…..

  12. jehanara says:

    Hi I just came across your blog and found it quite interesting. I don’t have kids yet but I am getting excited with all the recipes. I have not even gone through most of the blog yet:) Anyway, quick question, I plan on buying chia seeds and was wondering where else can I use them. I will try the pudding but I do not want to buy a whole bag and then not know what to do with it. I look forward to everyone’s suggestions.

  13. Heather says:

    Jehanara, I use chia seeds in kale and berry smoothies.

  14. Sharlene says:

    My chia seeds all sunk to the bottom even after the 24hrs. I poured the whole thing into the blender and mixed it. Now the pudding is perfect. So yummy!

  15. Sharlene: this happen to me with my last batch. I didn’t whisk the seeds in as much as usual. I think that you have to mix and mix and mix with a whisk until the seeds look well coated and evenly incorporated in the milk before you seal up and let sit in the fridge.

    Anyway, when it happened to me, I just whisked the pudding before serving. It didn’t break up all the clumps, but it did mostly, more evenly distributing the gelatinous clumps (not appealing descriptions, but the right way to explain it, right?!). It evened out the texture. Sounds like your solution worked, too! So glad.

  16. Chia pudding is my new fave, too! I’m making a Middle-Eastern style version with canned coconut milk (Thai Kitchen brand), honey, rosewater, and cardamom, topped with berries and slivered pistachios. I keep hearing from everyone how good Downton Abbey is but haven’t watched it yet!

  17. One Hungry Mama says:

    That sounds amazing, Mary! I love rosewater and cardamom together. The flavor profile reminds me of this Baked Plum Custard with Rosewater and Pistachios (http://onehungrymama.com/2012/08/baked-plum-custard-with-rose-water-pistachios/). I think I’ll have to try your version of chia pudding. Thanks!

  18. Lorrie says:

    Do you have any nutritional facts about this recipe (ie:Calories/Fat/fiber)? I’m doing WW and always looking for a sweet treat that won’t eat up my points for the day!

  19. Hi, Lorrie. Sorry that I don’t have that info. This post by my friends at The Kitchn provides links to sites where you can easily calculate the info yourself. Be sure to check the comments for suggestions, too.

    http://www.thekitchn.com/how-can-home-cooks-calculate-n-91782

    Hope this helps!

  20. Kathleen says:

    My chia pudding comes with a story….I had a bag of chia seeds and was experimenting with them in smoothies and stuff…totally loving them mind you…. until one day I grabbed a bag of raw cashews thinking I was going to make homemade cashew butter….soaking the nuts over night seemed at the time just a silly fussy step so I dumped the bag into my blender and let ‘er rip…it didn’t look like cashew butter! So, I Googled cashew milk…added a little water, blended more, and then strained the result through cheese cloth. I ended up with a mass of moist pulp and almost a quart of sweet lovely cashew milk. What to do? Chia pudding to the rescue! I put 2 Tablespoons of chia seeds into 1 cup of cashew milk and just let it sit overnight….SUPERYUM!!!! (On a side note about the cashew pulp, I made thumbprint “cookies” from just the pulp, baked until golden, and filled with jam..again…SUPERYUM!!!

  21. One Hungry Mama says:

    I love that story, Kathleen! Especially how you used every last drop of your cashew experiment!! Sometimes the best recipes come out of accidents.

  22. Sarah says:

    I just mixed done of this up to try with my twin boys (9 months) and their big sister (5). I’ve never used Chia, agave or coconut milk before so it’s a true experiment. It looks very liquid but have popped into the fridge anyway. I’m not familiar with cup measures (I’m from the UK) so I just guessed the amount of coconut milk (canned kind). I went for 400ml of liquid overall does that seem like too much? I’ll wait 4 hours and and see how it turns out (not looking very promising atthe moment). how

  23. So, Sarah, how’d it come out?! I know it doesn’t look promising at first (that’s normal), but hopefully it came out delicious. It’s pretty straightforward. Let me know.

  24. Sarah says:

    Wow I’m super slow to realise you replied (this is what’s happened to me since I had twin babies). It just needed longer to thicken up overnight. The babies liked it. My daughter and husband were not as keen they wanted something with a stronger flavour. I’ve tried using the Chia since mixed in with fruity cinnamon porridge (babies loved it) and mixed with yoghurt and fruit which me and my daughter likes. Will keep experimenting! Am wondering about milled Chia seeds and what I could use them for (will see if I can find a little packet to experiment with)

  25. Chia is amazing! It has a really good slimming effect.

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