Chia pudding isn’t just a healthier alternative to tapioca, it’s better and easier to make. My son who won’t touch tapioca pudding eats this, and my husband and I prefer it. I’ve only been making chia pudding a few weeks and we’ve already had it three times.
Certainly there’s no contest between tapioca and chia nutritionally: chia seeds are packed with protein, fiber, antioxidants, and omega three fatty acids, whereas tapioca pearls are pure starch. Chia is a traditional food with a long history of use in Mesoamerica. Chia seeds are pricey but a little goes a long way: this recipe uses only 1/3 cup and serves three or four. The cheapest places I’ve found for chia seeds are Trader Joe’s and in bulk at my local food co-op.
I’ve used coconut milk, but you could certainly make this pudding with other kinds of milk. With coconut milk, natural brands like Thai Kitchen or Native Forest are thick and high quality without added whiteners, gums, or stabilizers, and in the case of Native Forest, the can is BPA-free. Blackberries make a beautiful garnish because their deep purple goes so well with the dark chia seeds (I used blackberry honey, too) but substitute your favorite berry or sweetener of choice at will.
A lot of chia pudding recipes are no-cook, but I found that at least when using coconut milk I needed to heat it a little to dissolve the coconut fat and make it smooth (perhaps if I lived in a warmer climate this wouldn’t be an issue). I experimented with the proportion of chia seeds to coconut milk and found, like Carrie Vitt of Deliciously Organic, that I prefer about 1/3 cup of chia seeds per 1 1/2 cups of coconut milk (the amount in a typical can).
I gave this recipe Middle Eastern touches like cardamom, rose water, and a chopped pistachio garnish. I’ll have to try other possibilities like a simple nutmeg and cinnamon spicing, but I like it this way enough that I haven’t gotten around to that!
- 1½ cups natural coconut milk (the amount in a can of Thai Kitchen or Native Forest coconut milk)
- 4 Tbs. natural honey or other sweetener such as maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp. vanilla
- ½ tsp. cardamom
- 1 tsp. rose water
- ⅓ cup chia seeds
- ½ cup blackberries or other berries
- a few tablespoons pistachios, finely chopped
- In a pot, combine coconut milk and honey.
- Heat and stir just enough to melt the coconut milk smooth and warm and integrate the honey into the milk.
- Turn off heat, add vanilla, cardamom, rose water, and chia seeds.
- Pour into dessert glasses.
- Leave glasses at room temperature for at least two hours to give the chia seeds time to absorb liquid and soften. If you are going to leave the chia pudding a long time, like overnight, you can put it in the refrigerator for food safely, but bring it back to room temperature before serving.
- Garnish with blackberries and finely chopped pistachios.