Have you heard about chia? These little seeds—the same ones used to grow the grass-like "hair" in those infamous Chia Pets—are all the rage in the food world. Not only are they fun to cook with, but they're also a good source of the plant-based form of omega-3 fatty acids, the nutrient found in fish that is good for your heart, brain, skin and more.
Here's what you need to know about chia seeds before you toss them into your next recipe: They absorb a lot of liquid. Like, a lot. Once you combine them with a liquid like water or milk, they take on a somewhat gelatinous texture like something you've never experienced before. That's what makes chia so much fun to cook with. You can use them to thicken oatmeal or smoothies, as a vegan replacement for eggs (but that's a topic for another post), and, in one of their most popular uses, as the star ingredient in a chia-based pudding.
Here's The Smart Girl's Guide to Going Vegetarian's Chia Power Pudding (found on page 223). It's intentionally simple, designed for you to customize to your liking by adding fruit, spices like cinnamon or nutmeg, or other flavorings like vanilla extract or lemon rind. Let us know how you like it, and of any delish variations you try.
Chia Power Pudding
Makes 1 serving
1/2 cup vanilla coconut milk (or another nondairy milk)
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 pinch salt
Mix ingredients together in a small bowl. Whisk once every 5 minutes for 15 minutes so seeds begin to absorb liquid evenly. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or at least 5 hours. Serve plain or dressed up with add-ins like chopped strawberries, cinnamon, cocoa powder, shredded coconut or lemon rind.