Dessert Today: Chia Pudding

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chocolate-chia-puddingChia seeds come from a flowering plant in the mint family called Salvia hispanica that is native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. Chia seeds were considered a staple food of the Aztec people, who would say that one small serving was all a person needed to run for a day. Chia is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, antioxidants, and both soluble and insoluble fiber. Here are three other reasons to try this nutty-flavored seed.

1. Balance sugar levels: Studies have shown chia to be of benefit in controlling type 2 diabetes. As a high source of fiber, it helps regulate blood sugar and insulin release by slowing digestion, therefore preventing the sugar “spikes” that are common after meals.

2. Weight loss: There is also evidence that chia, in conjunction with exercise, aids in weight loss, as it keeps individuals feeling satisfied longer and therefore decreases total caloric consumption.

3. Decrease inflammation: Chia seeds have also been shown to reduce inflammation (it decreases C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation in our blood) and decrease blood pressure. It also has blood-thinning effects, making it useful in the treatment and prevention of atherosclerosis, stroke and heart attacks.

Chia seeds can be made into an nourishing dessert, such as this omega-3-packed chocolate chia pudding, which combines chia seeds with cocoa and coconut milk.

Chia Pudding

• 1 1/2 cups unsweetened plain coconut milk
• 1/3 cup chia seeds
• 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 2 Tbsp maple syrup or agave
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1/8 tsp salt
• 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut chips or shredded coconut
• Fresh seasonal fruit, for serving

In a large bowl, whisk together milk, chia seeds, cocoa powder, maple syrup, vanilla and salt until combined. Set aside for 30 minutes and whisk again before transferring to an airtight container. Refrigerate for at least 5 hours, or overnight.

In a skillet, toast coconut over medium heat until light brown. Blend chilled chia pudding until smooth and pour into bowls. Serve chilled, garnished with toasted coconut and fresh fruit.

Photo from here, with thanks.

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