This past weekend I devoted a whole glorious hour to sitting in the sun catching up on my favorite food blog, Coconut and Quinoa. Coconut and Quinoa is the lovely space created by renowned natural foods chef Amy Chaplin. Amy’s blog resonates with me because like me, she grew up heavily influenced by her parents approach to food. They were organic gardeners, and the veggies that graced their dinnertime plates, were ones that they had grown themselves. This intimate connection with the ingredients she uses is so present in all her dishes.
Though at a certain age I rebelled against the way in which I was raised by drinking soda at my best friends house and pretending to enjoy the occasional fast food meal, as the years have gone by I’ve found myself returning to the ideals that my parents instilled in me. Such as: finding a harmonious balance with nature by recognizing seasonality of foods, delighting in simplicity, and fostering an involvement with the foods that fill my tummy. i.e. seeking knowledge of where they came from and the process by which they find their way to my plate. This is why you can now find me foraging for dandelion greens of my own volition, or making desserts with 100% plant based ingredients, such as the pudding recipe down below.
Ironically, the lessons of my childhood are much like the basic tenants of the local foods movement that has swept the nation in the past few years, even organic farming is quite in vogue! I have a deep appreciation for parents like mine and Amy’s who were so radically ahead of the times and who pioneered a path for my generation’s dedication to food consciousness.
Though there’s an abundance of recipes on Coconuts and Quinoa that I’m itching to try, Amy’s recipe for chia seed pudding seemed the perfect warm weather treat–and boy was I right. They say the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The fact that I can’t stop eating this is proof enough of it’s deliciousness. The pudding is entirely plant based, deriving it’s creaminess from cashews, it’s sweetness from dates, and its flavor from a generous amount of fresh vanilla bean. It’s at once light and refreshing yet still rich and decadent. The best part is that it is so healthful that you feel fantastic after you’ve eaten it and not like someone whose just indulged in dessert.
Chia seeds are known for their incredibly high levels of omega-3’s. The word chia is derived from the Mayan language, meaning “strength,” and Aztec warriors are said to have relied on chia seed to boost energy and increase stamina. The tiny seeds boat a nutritional profile similar to that of flax seeds, and are a rich source of fiber, which is why they swell when combined liquid. They are often recommended to people trying to lose or maintain their body weight, as they keep one full for long periods of time due to the amount of liquid they retain. It’s for that same reason that they are also very hydrating, making them a perfect choice for athletes or anyone looking to add a powerful nutritional boost to their diet.
I urge you to try this recipe and also to spend some time browsing Coconut and Quinoa. Both will be rewarding.
½ cup chia seeds
1 cup cashews, soaked in filtered water for 2 to 8 hours
4 cups filtered water
7 Medjool dates, pitted
Pinch sea salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder
2 tablespoons coconut butter (I skipped this ingredient but I’m sure it would make the pudding even creamier!)
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean
Fresh berries to serve
Place chia seeds in a medium size mixing bowl and set aside.
Strain cashews and rinse well. Place in an upright blender add 4 cups of filtered water, dates, salt, cinnamon, coconut butter and vanilla extract. Remove seeds from vanilla bean (if using) and add to the blender, place pod in bowl with chia seeds. Blend on high speed for 2 minutes and pour into bowl with chia seeds and vanilla bean pod, whisk well. Let mixture sit for 10 to 15 minutes, whisking every few minutes to prevent chia seeds from clumping, pudding will thicken fast. Place in the fridge and chill for 1 hour.
Remove from fridge, whisk. Remove vanilla bean pod (if using), serve chilled topped with berries and a drizzle of raw honey.
Stored covered in a glass container in the fridge, chia pudding will keep for up to 5 days.
Serves 4 to 6.