A high-quality, plant-strong, fuelling breakfast certainly needs to be balanced and source energy from complex carbohydrates (i.e. whole grains, fruit, vegetables), protein (i.e. nuts, seeds, nut/seed butter, high-quality protein powder) and high-quality fat (i.e. avocado, nuts, seeds, coconut oil, flaxseed oil).
Even more ideal is when a breakfast can largely be prepared the night before, with the finishing touches added the morning of! Cue this Maple-Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding, with limitless options for toppings so that no two servings need ever be the same!
When chia seeds are left to soak in liquid, they soften and expand as they absorb the moisture of the liquid. As such, the mucilage in this plant food (a naturally-occurring substance in numerous plants that is soluble fiber) yields a mucilaginous (thick and gooey) texture that is soft and slippery upon consumption.
Chia seed is a source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Fiber is critical for the body but is not a nutrient that is digested by the body. Soluble fiber dissolves in water. Therefore, it has the ability toattract water as it moves through the Digestive System, yielding a gel-like, mushy material[i]. Soluble fiber also has the ability to attach to cholesterol, to help transport it out of the body[ii]. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water as it moves through the digestive tract. It supports cleansing of the digestive tract and helps to negate constipation by keeping material moving[iii]! It also serves the purpose of bulking up stools, so as to prepare for optimal elimination by the body[iv].
In the event you are challenged by digestive (including autoimmune) difficulties, chia seeds have the potential to aggravate such difficulties. To learn more about this factor, here is an article I came across in my research! That way, you may process with caution based on your individual circumstances, unique needs and knowledge of your body's sensitivities.
Maple-Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding
Yield: ~4-6 servings
Prep Time: ~5-10 minutes (+ chill time in the refrigerator)
3 cups unsweetened almond milk (or nut/seed milk of your choice)
1/2 cup chia seeds
2 tbsp. pure, maple syrup (can use raw, unpasteurized honey as an alternative)
1 tsp. vanilla extract (non-alcoholic, if possible)
Nuts (i.e. walnuts, pecans, raw almonds)
Seeds (i.e. hemp seeds, raw pumpkin seeds, raw sunflower seeds, sesame seeds)
Unsweetened, shredded coconut
Fresh or frozen fruit (*take some frozen fruit out the night before and let it refrigerate overnight to thaw out a bit; a great strategy during the winter when such foods aren't in season!)
1. Measure the almond milk, chia seeds, maple syrup and vanilla, combine into a mixing bowl. and whisk to combine. *The ingredients will only combine so well given the chia seeds have not softened and expanded yet, so don't be alarmed if the chia seeds clump together!
2. Cover and set inside the refrigerator. Stir shortly thereafter, to help prevent the chia seeds from clumping. Let chill overnight (I find minimum 12 hours is ideal), stirring periodically, when possible, to faciliate a continued mixing of ingredients as it sets.
*With this most recent batch I made, I actually let it set for 48 hours, as I was particularly pleased with the texture and consistency after this duration of time. It is an individual preference, so please let it set for as long as is pleasing for YOU!
*Upon testing the consistency, you may certainly add in more chia seeds (to thicken) or more milk (to thin), as desired!
3. Spoon into a small bowl and garnish with nuts, seeds and/or fruit, as desired. The batch will remain good for consumption for approximately 3-5 days, as long as it is sealed and refrigerated in an air-tight container.
About Chia Seeds...
Chia seeds are powerhouses! Based on the details below, you can see why they're often referred to as a "Superfood"!
Key nutrients include a variety of vitamins and minerals: several B vitamins (B1 - Thiamine, B2 - Riboflavin, B3 - Niacin, B5 - Pantothenic Acid, B6 - Pyroxidine and B9 - Folate), vitamins A, C and E, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc[v]
They contain saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, providing a rich source of high-quality, dietary fat to support all body systems[vi]
They are a good source of protein, in consideration of their size[vii]
They are a concentrated source of the polyunsaturated Omega-3 fatty acid Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA); an essential fatty acid that must be obtained from the diet because the body is not able to produce it on its own[viii]