My Chocolate & Almond Chia Pudding is the perfect way to start the day, it's not just yummy it's so good for you. Chia seeds are a fantastic source of fibre, protein, antioxidants, iron, calcium and omega 3 fatty acids (our bodies can't make omega 3 so it's important to obtain it from the food we eat). I top my puddings with vanilla coconut yoghurt, almonds and strawberries or chopped toasted almonds and cacao nibs. This pudding also works well as a chocolate dessert or treat.
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Add the chia seeds, almond butter, cacao powder, maple syrup and vanilla to a medium bowl. Use a fork to push the ingredients through the chia seeds, making sure to break up any lumps of almond butter and cacao powder as you mix.
Pour in a 1/4 cup of the coconut milk and whisk it through well using the fork. Set aside for 15 minutes to absorb the liquid. Whisk in the remaining cup of coconut milk and place in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight while it gels.
When ready to serve, divide the pudding between 2 glass dishes or jars and serve topped with your favourite toppings.
Store covered in the fridge for up to 4 days.
These little seeds absorb 9-12 times their weight in water and are excellent to add as a thickener to sauces and fruit spreads. They can also be used as an egg replacement in muffins and cakes (1 tablespoon chia seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons of water). Chia seeds can also be used to make delicious chia puddings for breakfast or desserts. There are many health benefits of chia. It is the richest plant source of Omega 3 fats, dietary fibre and protein. Chia seeds are also packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, amino acids and fatty acids.
Almond butter may also be called almond spread. It is finely ground down almonds to a texture resembling a paste. In my cookbook I have a recipe for roasted almond butter, which has extra flavour due to the roasting and a little organic salt added. If purchasing a commercial almond butter in a jar, make sure it's 100% almonds.
Raw cacao powder and cocoa are made from the same source but are so different. Cacao powder is raw, unsweetened and in it's natural state, it has a stronger flavour and you would use less than cocoa powder. It is so good for you; high in dietary fibre, iron and is a good source of magnesium and antioxidants. Cocoa has been heated and processed, the high heat when processing kills all the minerals and vitamins.
Maple syrup is an earthy, sweet tasting amber liquid that is produced by boiling down the sap of maple trees. Use organic 100% maple syrup which is a natural food sweetener, not a flavoured maple syrup. Pure maple syrup contains a decent amount of some minerals, especially manganese and zinc, some traces of potassium and calcium but it does contain a whole bunch of sugar. I try to reduced the amount of sweetness in each recipe to the lowest possible without compromising taste. Feel free to adjust to your liking. I use maple syrup in place of raw honey when I don't want the strong honey flavour coming through in a recipe. I have paleo cookies and desserts in my cookbook made from whole food ingredients with natural sugars but please don’t overindulge. Use as a treat only for special occasions.
Use an organic vanilla extract (not an essence) or vanilla powder. Vanilla makes a big difference to the flavour of a recipe, I recommend keeping to the quantities I have stated in a recipe. I prefer Madagascar pure vanilla extract manufactured by ‘Simply Organic’ and for powder, Vanillamax 100% pure, finely ground Madagascar vanilla beans produced by Bulletproof.
I use this extensively throughout my recipes; from soups to dinners to desserts and cakes. I think it is the best dairy-free alternative. It gives so much flavour and creaminess to a wide variety of dishes. See coconut milk recipe on page 299 of The JOYful Table cookbook. If purchasing in the can read your labels, even some organic brands contain gums and thickeners, choose full-fat not low-fat versions. I use Honest To Goodness organic cream 400ml and Ayam which isn't organic but has no additives or thickeners and is much creamier and thicker than other brands (that's why I love it), it comes in 400ml, 270ml and 140ml size cans.
Almonds have 240mg of calcium in 50gms, as much as is found in 200ml of milk. Nuts are a great protein snack. Eat them raw or activated and it's best to avoid store bought roasted nuts that have been cooked in canola, sunflower or similar vegetable oils. When ground finely almonds make a wonderful nut meal/flour for grain-free baking.