Strawberries and Cream Chia Pudding Parfaits layer ripe strawberries with a healthy, creamy pudding that’s full of antioxidants, Omega-3s, calcium, protein, and fiber with the pleasant texture similar to tapioca.
I’ve been seeing chia seed recipes pop up for years now, but I haven’t delved much into cooking with them until recently. Because Chia Pet. Why in the world would I want to eat anything that is perhaps best known in pop culture for sprouting “hair” on terracotta sculptures? In my mind, chia seeds served as an integral component for kitschy home decor, but not so much as a source of sustenance. Who eats houseplants, anyway? Then I did some research.
Chia seeds are tiny black seeds from the salvia hispanica plant, which is genetically linked to the mint family. Considered an ancient grain, chia seeds were an important dietary staple of Aztec and Mayan cultures. In the ancient Mayan language, the word chia translates to “strength” for their nutrient dense ability to sustain the energy and endurance of the warriors. Chia seeds are also tiny and not as prone to spoilage as other seeds, making them ideal for Mayan warriors to carry to refuel on long expeditions.
One ounce (2 tablespoons) of chia seeds packs a nutritive punch with 138 calories, 11 g of fiber, 4 g of protein, 18% of the recommended daily amount of calcium, loads of vitamins, antioxidants, and more omega-3s than salmon. The majority of carbohydrates in chia seeds come in the form of soluble fiber. In short, chia seeds provide a powerhouse of nutrition with few calories and a neutral taste.
Another neat fact about chia seeds is that when soaked in liquid, the seeds absorb moisture and become gelatinous in texture. The behavior properties of chia seeds make them a natural choice as a thickener for beverages, puddings, desserts, and baked goods. I can’t help but love anything that is full of nutrients and can be easily morphed into something healthy that tastes like dessert!
Strawberries and Cream Chia Pudding Parfaits layer ripe strawberries with a no-cook creamy pudding that’s full of antioxidants, Omega-3s, calcium, protein, and fiber with the pleasant texture similar to tapioca.
My attitude toward healthy eating it that I want to eat real food that is minimally processed with the fewest ingredients possible. Some of the recipes I that I saw for chia puddings had ten or more ingredients. Oh come on, people! Five ingredients is all it takes to make this simple, healthy snack.
Many base recipes for chia pudding call for plant based milks and honey sweetened plain yogurt. I’ll be honest–plant based “milks” kind of freak me out. I can’t get past the fact that plants aren’t mammals and therefore don’t lactate or produce milk. You don’t get much more minimally processed than milk that comes straight from the cow and is then pasteurized and bottled with no other ingredients or stabilizers. Plant based milks just don’t live up to that standard. I mean, if plant based milks are your thing, that’s cool and the gang. We can all still get along. I’m just saying that for our family, we prefer the moo juice so this recipe was developed using dairy products. I can’t speak to how plant based milks will perform in the recipe, but you’re welcome to give it a try!
I also use vanilla yogurt rather than using plain yogurt and adding honey because it’s just easier to buy the yogurt ready to go. Besides, the vanilla yogurt has less grams of sugar in it than if I were to add a few teaspoons of honey to the mix. I’m practical (re: lazy) like that.
The resulting Strawberries and Cream Chia Pudding Parfaits are thick, creamy, and lightly sweet. As the parfaits garner most of the sweetness from the ripe, juicy strawberries, be sure to use the best strawberries available. If you want a sweeter, more dessert-like parfait, add a teaspoon or so of sugar to the sliced berries to amp up the sweetness even more as the strawberries macerate in their own juices.
All of my boys eat these Strawberries and Cream Pudding Parfaits. I doubt that they realize that what they think is dessert is actually good for them. Son #1 has taken to eating a parfait before soccer practice to give him a boost of protein and energy to sustain him through the next two hours of physical exertion. He loves the parfaits so much that he actually makes them himself, and experiments with different fruit combinations to layer throughout. When a teenage boy is motivated to make parfaits on a regular basis, I know that the recipe is a winner!