Mango Yogurt Chia Seed Pudding

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Until recently, I just couldn’t understand the hype around chia seed puddings. I’ve loved using chia seeds for making overnight oats for years, but chia seed pudding had always seemed rather boring and bland to me. And many recipes include the addition of sugar or some form of sweetener, which I try to limit in my diet. However, a few weeks ago I stumbled across a recipe with no added sugar and bold flavor. Since chia seed puddings are quick and easy to make in advance and store well for about five days, I am now hooked and have started to experiment with recipes for them on my own. I’ll share my favorite one with you at the bottom of today’s post, but first let’s talk about why would you want to eat these seeds anyway and what makes them so unique compared to other seeds you may already include in your diet? I’d often heard them referred to as a superfood, but after reading a bit more about them I now fully understand why.

 

Why eat chia seeds?

Despite the fact that they are relatively new to being seen regularly in your grocery store isle, chia seeds have been used as a food source for a very long time. They were a dietary staple for the ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures and were noted for their ability to provide sustained energy. These tiny little seeds are jam packed with nutrients, fiber and antioxidants. Just one ounce (or roughly two tablespoons) of chia seeds contains the following:
  • 11 grams Fiber (42% of daily recommended allowance)
  • 4 grams Protein
  • 9 grams Fat (5 grams of which are omega 3)
  • 18% RDA of Calcium
  • 30% RDA of Manganese
  • 30% RDA of Magnesium
  • 27% RDA of Phosphorus
  • 0 Sugar
They also contain trace minerals including zinc and copper and according to some studies are a complete protein (containing all nine essential amino acids that cannot be made by the body itself). In addition, chia seeds are high in concentrations of multiple antioxidants - in fact they are one of the most antioxidant rich foods you can eat. Antioxidants are compounds found to help your body defend against the cellular damage caused by aging and environmental pollutants. While I found many articles touting that chia seeds contain a higher level of antioxidants than blueberries (which are known to be at the top of the list for fruits and vegetables), I couldn’t find a source that listed the actual amount of antioxidants they contain. So I guess I’ll just mentally add them to the list of foods high in antioxidants and leave it at that.  Their high soluble fiber content is thought to help lower LDL cholesterol and slow digestion. This slowing of the digestive process aids in preventing blood sugar spikes and potentially allows you to feel “full” longer. Fiber also helps feed the friendly bacteria in your intestine which are so important for maintaining good gut health.  The high level of plant based omega-3 fatty acids help protect the heart and reduce inflammation in the body. It is important to note however, that chia seeds are high in the the omega-3 fatty acid ALA which is considered by many scientists to be inferior to the DHA source found in fish oils. This is because it is necessary to convert ALA into ELA or DHA to be used by the body for anything other than energy and the conversion process is rather inefficient in humans. For this reason it is recommended that those on a plant based diet should supplement with a source of ELA or DHA, typically found in fish oils. The calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and protein found in chia seeds support strong bone health. When compared gram for gram, the calcium content is even higher than in dairy products, which makes it an excellent source of calcium for people that don’t eat dairy.   

Other Interesting Chia Seed Facts

Given all these benefits and the fact that it is so easy to make a chia pudding or add them to a smoothie, soups or stews, chia seeds are worthwhile to include in your diet if you don’t already. If you are new to chia seeds, moderation is key when first adding them to your diet due to the high fiber content. Eating too many at once could cause some digestive discomfort if you are not used to this much fiber intake. Most people won’t have any issues beginning with 1 tablespoon per day. Note that it is also recommended to increase your liquid intake when adding more fiber into your diet and you only want to eat them after they have been soaked in a liquid. I’ve often wondered if you need to grind up the seeds in some way to get all these benefits. I was happy and surprised to find when researching this question that the surface of the seeds breaks apart easily when exposed to moisture in such a way that they can be absorbed and digested well in their whole form. Another unrelated, yet positive fact about these seeds is that they can be stored in a cool dry place without refrigeration for 4-5 years. Wow! Chia seeds can often be used as a substitute for eggs in some baked good as well. When mixed with liquid they absorb the fluid and take on a gelatinous consistency. It seems crazy, but they can actually absorb up to 10 times their weight in liquid. To use them as an egg replacement, simply mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water. Let them sit for at least 5 minutes and then this can be substituted for 1 egg in your baked good recipe.  

Mango Yogurt Chia Seed Pudding Recipe

  •  2 cups frozen or (1 cup fresh) Mango Chunks

  • 1/4 cup Greek Yogurt

  • 3 Tablespoons Chia Seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla

  • Fruit to garnish (strawberries, bananas, blueberries etc.)

 

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Puree the mango chunks in a food processor or blender. (Note that you can substitute peaches for the mango chunks if you prefer, which is a delicious alternative when fresh peaches are in season. The color stays a bit brighter when using mango, but either tastes equally sublime.)

 

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You now have to decide if you want to add the yogurt in layers in parfait cups or take the easier route and blend it altogether. While the layered look is quite pretty, I have to say that I prefer blending the yogurt in, not only for ease but also because it gives the pudding such a luscious creamy flavor and texture. If you are going with the pretty layered option, blend in the vanilla with your mango puree next. Otherwise add both the vanilla and the greek yogurt and give the mixture another whirl.  

Transfer the purred mixture to a bowl and stir in the chia seeds. Then simply begin layering the chia seed mixture alternately in parfait glasses with your fruit of choice or layer alternately with fruit and yogurt until you fill up the parfait glasses. This recipe will fill roughly 2 medium size parfait glasses. It is best to let these sit for at least 10 to 15 minutes before eating them to let the chia seeds swell, but if you are going to eat them at a later time, be sure to leave sufficient room in the glasses so that you can cover them with plastic wrap or beeswax wraps before storing them in the refrigerator. These are also nice to take for an easy addition to a meal on the go, in which case I’d suggest storing them in small mason jars instead of parfait glasses.

Please let me know in the comments below what you think if you give this recipe a try and I’d love to know if you have any favorite chia seed pudding recipes of your own to share.

 

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