The ‘I don’t eat breakfast’ breakfast

Chia seeds are nutritional powerhouses, packed with plant-based protein, fiber, calcium and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY KELLIE HYNES

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Chia seeds are nutritional powerhouses, packed with plant-based protein, fiber, calcium and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY KELLIE HYNES

I would eat weekday breakfasts if breakfast occurred at a more relaxed time, like 10 p.m. Instead, I run morning marathons in 100 meter dashes: brushing hair, locating baseball gloves, and packing lunches until the last child is shoved out the door. (Dear Husband Bob avoids eye contact and high-tails it to a magical place called The Office, where conference tables sprout bagels, and no one waits until the carpool arrives to look for their shoes.)

I start my workday once the house empties, occasionally fantasizing about breezy mornings with the Brazilian diplomat I dated 25 years ago. I used to think the organized chaos worked for everyone, except, possibly, Eduardo, who may not appreciate my energy stalking him at such an early hour. But I’ve gained weight, because apparently skipping a meal does not mean I can graze for the next 14 hours with impunity. If I’m going to successfully corral my calories, I need a breakfast that is healthy, tasty, and above all, so simple that I can make it in my sleep. Friends, that breakfast is chia seed pudding.

You may think, as I once did, that chia seeds are only utilized in follicle-challenged pottery. On the contrary, they are nutritional powerhouses, packed with plant-based protein, fiber, calcium and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. In fact, chia seeds are so nutritionally dense, legend suggests a mere tablespoon of chia seeds could fuel an Aztec warrior for an entire day. I just need to feel full until lunch, and I don’t usually engage in hand-to-hand combat, but if I could survive on a tablespoon of bird food, I wouldn’t be in this pickle. Instead, I bought some chia seeds from the bulk foods section, poured them into a Mason jar full of milk, and tossed it into the refrigerator in anticipation of the next morning’s pandemonium.

The Mason jar is my vessel of choice, thanks to its tight-fitting lid. Chia seeds tend to clump; shaking them in a secured jar prevents them from clinging to the sides like middle schoolers at a dance. And when I’m eating on the run, an 8-ounce jar fits perfectly in my car’s cup holders. If Mason jar-dining is too Pinterest-perky for you, feel free to whisk the seeds and milk together in a nonreactive bowl, then cover it with plastic wrap before refrigerating.

The kind of milk you use is a personal preference. I experimented with four different kinds: skim and 2 percent cow’s milk, as well as almond and coconut milk. The only milk that I believe deserves a hard pass is skim — it tasted too watery, and the seeds made it an unappetizing gray color. If you are concerned about calories, I suggest coconut milk. Use the coconut milk from the carton in the refrigerated section, not the full-fat canned variety in the Asian food aisle. Coconut milk has only 45 calories per cup — about half the calories of skim. And its gently sweet flavor is particularly palatable first thing in the morning.

Once your chia seeds are suspended in milk, the real magic begins. Chia seeds are hydrophilic. It’s a big word, best untouched until you’re wide-awake, that describes how the seeds absorb 10 to 12 times their weight in liquid. They become soft and chewy, rewarding your mouth with a happy little “pop” in every bite. The seeds also develop a gel-like coating, like being wrapped up in their own personal gummy bears. This coating is what gives your milk its tapioca-ish texture. Unless you don’t like tapioca, in which case I would say the texture compares favorably to a slightly lumpy Snack Pack. Sprinkle your chia seed pudding with some of the beautiful berries that are currently in season, and you have a Goldilocks breakfast (not too big, not too little, just right) with 10 grams of protein and 24 grams (24!) of fiber.

If you’re someone who has texture issues with pudding, you will get the same nutritional benefits by adding chia seeds to any liquid, say, juice or kombucha, and drinking it right away. You can also add chia seeds to a smoothie, but that requires knowing where your blender is, which I think is an awful lot to ask of someone in the morning. In every case, these super seeds make breakfast easy — easy to make, easy to eat, easy to clean up — for all of us morning warriors.

Chia Seed Breakfast Pudding

Go ahead, make multiple jars at once. This protein- and fiber-full breakfast will keep for up to three days in the refrigerator.

1/4 cup chia seeds

1 cup unsweetened vanilla coconut milk

1 tablespoon fresh berries

Place the chia seeds and coconut milk in a cup-sized canning jar. Seal the jar tightly with its lid, and shake vigorously until no clumps of seeds remain. Refrigerate overnight, or for a minimum of 3 hours. Serve cold, garnished with berries. Serves 1.

Per serving: 329 calories (percent of calories from fat, 52), 10 grams protein, 30 grams carbohydrates, 24 grams fiber, 20 grams fat (10 grams saturated), 4 milligrams cholesterol, 58 milligrams sodium.