RECIPE: Dairy-free pudding is sweet dessert without the guilt

This rich chocolate pudding gets its creamy goodness from chia seeds, not dairy. Kellie Hynes for The AJC
This rich chocolate pudding gets its creamy goodness from chia seeds, not dairy. Kellie Hynes for The AJC

Credit: Kellie Hynes

Credit: Kellie Hynes

I find it difficult to talk to my teenage daughter about healthy eating. I know she is bombarded by body-conscious messaging every time she glances at her cellphone. I know that the amygdala in her 15-year-old brain lives in fight-or-flight mode, so if I say, “Don’t eat chips before dinner,” she hears “You are a hideous monster.” I know that words carry weight, because my own mother told me the cream cheese on my bagel was making me fat, and here I am writing about it 35 years later.

I discussed how to discuss food with other mothers of daughters. We agreed that we would give up all of our internal organs to ensure our children don’t think about their diets the way we obsess about ours. Then we wondered how much weight we would lose if we gave up all of our internal organs, and I think that’s a pretty clear indication of where the problem lies, folks.

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So here’s my plan: Nutrition information is offered strictly as data. For example, “Eggs have 6 grams of protein each. An omelet will help you stay full today.” But I don’t judge what’s on her plate and, just as importantly, I don’t lament what’s on mine. I keep the house stocked with nutritious snacks. I normalize meals that are full of lean protein and colorful vegetables. And instead of villainizing sweets, my daughter and I make chia seed pudding together.

This yummy dessert is rich and velvety and oh so chocolatey. It contains no white sugar, just honey, or maple syrup if you are vegan. And it’s full of fiber, protein and magic. When the microscopic fibers on the outside of the chia seeds soak up the oat milk, they transform from seeds floating in liquid into a creamy, tapioca-like treat — no cooking necessary. If tapioca isn’t your favorite texture, you are welcome to give the pudding a second whirl in the blender to make it smoother. Or freeze it for an hour to make a dairy-free version of soft-serve ice cream. Then grab spoons and dig in with gusto, because a healthy relationship with food, and each other, is oh so sweet.

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The recipe for this rich chocolate pudding doesn't call for white sugar; instead, you use honey, or maple syrup for a vegan version. Kellie Hynes for The AJC
The recipe for this rich chocolate pudding doesn't call for white sugar; instead, you use honey, or maple syrup for a vegan version. Kellie Hynes for The AJC

Credit: Kellie Hynes

Credit: Kellie Hynes

Dairy-free Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup honey (substitute 1/3-1/2 cup maple syrup for vegan pudding)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups unsweetened oat milk
  • 1 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint
  • Combine the cocoa powder, honey and vanilla in a blender on low speed. With the blender running, slowly add the oat milk. Pour the mixture into a 3-quart nonreactive bowl. Whisk in the chia seeds. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. If the chia seeds clump together, whisk until separated and chill again until the pudding is the consistency of tapioca. Serve chilled, garnished with raspberries and mint. Keeps in the refrigerator for 3 days, and can be frozen for up to 3 months. Serves 6-8.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving, based on 6: 290 calories (percent of calories from fat, 39), 9 grams protein, 39 grams carbohydrates, 18 grams fiber, 14 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), no cholesterol, 75 milligrams sodium.

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