If you’re anything like me than you associate chia seeds with those funny terra-cotta animals covered with sprouted greenery called Chia Pets. Come on, I know you remember those. Maybe you even had one. Was it the pig, the bunny rabbit, the garden gnome, or maybe something fun like Bart Simpson or Garfield? And how about the jingle that went with the Chia Pet commercial? Cha..cha..cha..chia! How could you forget. Well, at some point someone discovered that chia seeds are good to eat. Really good to eat in fact. According to nuts.com chia seeds are high in Omega-3s, help reduce blood pressure, and control blood sugar levels, among other things. The really cool thing about chia seeds is that they absorb liquid and create a kind of chia-gel that helps with hydration and makes your body feel fuller faster. It’s this quality that makes chia seeds perfect for pudding. It’s simple- you mix chia seeds with the milk product of your choice- be it almond, coconut, soy, rice, or just plain old cow milk- stir, chill, and before you know it you have a thick, tasty pudding. Pretty amazing if you ask me. We’ve been eating chia seeds sprinkled on our morning yogurt for quite a while now, but this was my first time delving into the world of chia seed pudding. It couldn’t have been easier and I can’t wait to experiment with this recipe and try some different versions.
The idea to make chia seeds pudding all started with these huge blackberries that I picked up at the farmers market last week.
I was going to attempt for the third time to make No Bake Orange Cream Tartlets with Mixed Berries from the Oh Ladycakes Blog. I love the look of these no-bake tarts filled with coconut whipped cream and piled high with fresh berries. The problem is that despite my best efforts, I simply cannot get the coconut milk to whip up properly. About a month ago I tried twice and gave up both times in frustration after whipping for what seemed like a ridiculous amount of time, and ending up with milk no thicker than when I started. I really wanted to make these tarts though,and for about half a second I was tempted to try again. But then I came to my senses. Instead I decided to use the coconut milk and make chia seed pudding as a substitution for the coconut whipped cream. I worked perfectly except that chia seed pudding is not nearly as pretty as coconut whipped cream. The dark seeds give it a funny, bumpy texture. But trust me- it tastes fantastic.
Oh, and those dark red bits in the pudding- those are cherries. How did those get in there you ask? Well it all started with raspberries. You see I wanted to go raspberry picking but when I arrived at the pick-your-own farm it was closed. Boo, how sad for me. Okay, plan two. I would buy some raspberries from the store. So I went to the Good Food Store here in Missoula where I was sure they would have some pints of local raspberries that I could pretend I picked. Except they didn’t. The raspberries were the same Driscoll’s brand grown in California & Mexico that all grocery stores sell in those tiny containers for like a million dollars. Since I already had both blackberries and blueberries from Montana, I really didn’t want to add raspberries from out of state, or out of country, to the mix.
Luckily I found something better. Cherries! Montana apparently grows some really tasty cherries. These come from the area around Flathead Lake which is only an hour north of Missoula. If I can’t have local raspberries, than cherries are an excellent substitution. I decided to put the cherries in the pudding rather than on top. The idea was to incorporate some cherry flavor and color into the pudding. In retrospect I probably should have purred the cherries in the food processor because the chopped cherries didn’t give me the pink color I was looking for.
After making the pudding I got to work on some super simple no bake tarts. Crushed graham crackers, butter, sugar, and a dash of cinnamon all mixed up and spooned into tart pans. A quick press with the fingers and into the freezer to stiffen up for an hour.
After the pudding and tarts had chilled for awhile it was only a matter of spooning the pudding into the shells and topping with fresh berries.
I think I’ve confirmed it. Chia seeds are good for pets and pudding.
Cherry-Berry Chia Seed Pudding Tarts
Inspired by No Bake Orange Cream Tartlets with Mixed Berries by Oh, Ladycakes
Makes: 6 4-inch tarts, or 1 9-inch tart
1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk
3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup seeded, chopped or purred cherries
12 graham crackers
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
10 tablespoons butter, melted (use vegan butter or melted coconut oil as a vegan option)
2 cups fresh berries
1. Make the pudding. In a medium bowl combine the coconut milk through cherries. Mix well so all the chia seeds are submerged in the liquid. Cover and place in fridge for about 1 hour.
2. Make the tarts: Place the graham crackers in a sealable plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Place in a bowl and add the sugar, salt and cinnamon. Pour the melted butter over the top and mix well.
3. Press the graham crackers mixture into 6 4-inch tartlet pans, or 1 9-inch tart pan. Place in the fridge to firm up for at least 1 hour, or the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
4. Remove the ingredients from the fridge and spoon the pudding into the tart pans. Top with fresh berries.