What should you do when you don’t like chia pudding?
As versatile as it is, not everyone’s going to like the texture of chia pudding. This popular snack/dessert/breakfast item is made when chia seeds are hydrated with various flavored liquids and put in the fridge. Because of the seed’s super high soluble fiber content, they’re able to absorb 9 times their weight in liquid, and hold it on the outside of the seed shell in a drop of gel. Get enough of this gel together, and you’ve got a thick pudding. It can be flavored with almost anything from your favorite fruits to chocolate, peanut butter, coconut, cashew and much more. Of course, many of the pudding types are attractive to look at in food photography, so you’ll see them all around the web and on blogs and pin sites too.
But what if the texture’s just not for you?
Of course, since chia is a seed, the pudding, when made normally, will be ‘pebbly’ in texture. Not everyone’s going to like that. Then, soluble fiber can have a ‘gelatin’ like feel, as in it’s always wet and a little slippery. So if you try the pudding, and just can’t get past the texture because it’s too reminiscent of tapioca dots, can you still enjoy the health benefits of chia seeds?
Many photo blogs would have you think that pudding is the only way to go with chia, but once you see what else it can do, you never need to see that texture again. There are several basic non-pudding applications for chia, each of which you can get a brief overview of with this article.
First: Replacing butter or oil in baked recipes
In many baked recipes like cookies, cakes, non-yeast breads (ex. Banana bread), bars, brownies and more you can replace about half of the butter or oil with chia gel and the recipe will bake the same, look the same and taste the same, but have half the fat. Because the seeds are evenly distributed in the baked goods, you won’t notice they’re there.
Second: Replacing an egg in some baked recipes
Does your recipe need 1 egg? You can generally replace an egg in baked recipes (that don’t rely on whipped egg whites or similar) with an equal amount of chia seed gel. Because an egg is generally a binding ingredient, and chia gel is a fiber product, it can bind too. It’s a good way to make some recipes vegan/vegetarian and tends to work better than a “flax egg” since chia produces more gel than flax does. (Again, you won’t notice the seeds)
Third: Flavor blender / dressing helper
When chia produces gel, it can mix flavors together, sometimes concentrating them. This is a great solution for healthier make-at-home dressings. Make salad appealing, fun, and preservative-free when you mix up a myriad of your own dressing flavors with chia. Citrus and spice with a few fruits among the greens or honey and lime for picnic fruit salad. Most dressings mix up in minutes in a simple measuring cup, so you’re not missing out when you skip the store bought bottle.
Fourth: Smoothie helper
Smoothies are great because unlike juicing, they keep all the fiber from the fruit where it belongs: in the drink. However, they can be a calorie catastrophe if you’re not replacing a meal, but adding to it, or if you’re blending nothing but fruits.
When you put chia seeds in a smoothie, you’ll feel full longer because the fiber helps slow down the conversion of carbohydrates into sugars. Insoluble fiber also takes up space in the digestive system (while helping to move food smoothly through it) which also contributes to feeling satisfied. The other benefit here is the healthy omega-3 oils in chia unlock several vitamins in fruits and vegetables (fat soluble vitamins) commonly found in smoothie ingredients. Again, because you’re drinking a thick smooth beverage, there’s no seed texture to be had here, either.
Fifth: Burger binder
Bored of plain old burgers? You can add a variety of great mix-ins and seasonings to the meat when you pair it up with some dry chia. The chia absorbs moisture and helps burger patties cling together while you customize the taste. It also adds fiber where there ordinarily wouldn’t be any. Because there’s not a huge quantity of seeds mixed in, you won’t know they’re there.
Are these all the things you can do with chia that don’t involve pudding at all?
Certainly not! There’s loads more ways to use it, and loads more benefits it has for you. There are way more ideas and recipes than can fit into one article. Eggs are good protein in the morning; but they’re a fiber-free food. How to get protein and fiber at once? A sprinkle of chia in the scramble or the omelet will do quite well. Let your taste be your guide as you look for recipes that involve chia. The internet is an endless resource of creative non-pudding examples to try for free, and they’re generally just a search away. There’s no reason to let the proliferation of pudding put you off of these super seeds when you know all the fun, healthy and easy alternate uses.