Thursday, January 9, 2014

Piña Colada Chia Pudding

A couple days ago, my brother-in-law cheekily suggested that Will and I use our new virtual reality goggles to escape this arctic blast and head to the beach. After a wry and dismissive laugh, I moodily wished that virtual reality could whisk me away from this freezing cold. Yet the idea of the beach lingered, and before I knew it I craving sun and sand and tropical flavors.

Enter piña colada chia pudding.

So this isn't a piña colada in the strictest of senses. You know, it's missing the whole rum thing. That doesn't make it any less delicious though. Healthier? Yes. Less intoxicating? Absolutely. But less tasty? No way.

After all, the combination of pineapple and coconut is a classic for a reason.

So let's address the other key ingredient in this "pudding": the chia seeds.

I first heard about this Aztec "superfood" in a non-chia pet capacity almost 2 years ago. Though a little dubious of eating something I had formerly associated with fro-ing houseplants, I ordered a bag. 

Neutral in flavor and packed with nutrition, including high amounts of omega-3, these little seeds are now regularly tossed into my green smoothies and overnight oats. They occasionally get transformed into "pudding" too.

If you've never heard of chia seeds before and are curious how they could transform into a pudding, it's because when left to soak for awhile, they absorb their surrounding liquid, swelling and creating a gel. The result is reminiscent of tapioca pudding, so if you have texture issues, chia pudding might not be for you. Personally, I love the gelatinous little seeds.

The chia seed's ability to gel can also turn fresh fruit into "jam," something I plan to test come springtime. Vegans also use chia seeds as an egg substitute in baked goods. It's quite the little multitasker!

This pudding is so refreshing -- it isn't terribly sweet and is healthy enough to have for breakfast, an afternoon snack, or a light dessert. Enjoy.

Piña Colada Chia Pudding
Adapted from Skinnytaste's Mango Coconut Chia Pudding 

I really like using Greek yogurt in chia pudding. It creates a thicker, creamier pudding than when I use all milk. Feel free to play around with the ratio of yogurt to milk to create a thinner pudding.

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 10 minutes; Inactive Prep Time: 4 hours

1 cup lite coconut milk
1 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon agave nectar, or honey
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup chia seeds
2 tablespoons sweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups pineapple, diced (use fresh or frozen - not canned)

In a large bowl, whisk together coconut milk, yogurt, vanilla, agave nectar, and salt. Once combined, stir in chia seeds, coconut, and pineapple. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

When ready to serve, divide into 4 bowls. Garnish with extra pineapple and coconut if desired.

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