Chia Pudding Breakfast Bowls

By Ann Fulton

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This low-sugar alternative to the popular acai bowls takes just a few minutes to make and offers a deliciously filling start to the day. The concept is similar to stovetop oatmeal or overnight oats, as you can top and customize to taste.

This nutrient-dense alternative to the popular acai bowl takes just a few minutes to make and offers a deliciously filling start to the day. The concept is similar to stovetop oatmeal or overnight oats, as you can top and customize to taste. The unadorned pudding is good enough to enjoy as a satisfying snack or wholesome dessert, too.

 

 

 

 

 

Chia seeds. They have a reputation for being a superfood, which is all well and good. But what does that really mean? And importantly, do these little black seeds actually taste good? 

To answer the first questions, “superfood” is a marketing term for food believed to deliver health benefits resulting from an exceptional nutrient density.

Ounce for ounce, chia seeds are, in fact, one of the more nutrient-dense foods. A one-ounce (28 gram) serving of chia seeds contains 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat (5 of which are omega-3s), and roughly a quarter to a third of the recommended daily allowances for calcium, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorous.

But what will all that filling protein and bowel-regulating fiber do for us if the bag of chia seeds sits on the shelf because we’re not sure what to do with it-or if what we do with it doesn’t taste very good?

I am happy to report that (odd as it may sound to some) this chia pudding solves those dilemmas. 

My introduction to chia pudding came years ago while on summer vacation. I noticed people streaming out of a bustling little cafe with colorful bowls rimmed with all sort of toppings.

With their deep purple color, some of the bowls were clearly açaí bowls, which were fairly new on the scene at the time. When I looked at the menu, however, I noticed bowls with cheeky names like Trailblazer, Electric Mermaid, and Kowabunga, many of which were chia pudding bowls. 

The first bowl I tried, topped with bananas, blueberries, granola, and melted peanut butter was so satisfying that I went back the next day. When I got home from vacation, I set my sites on replicating the recipe. (This is the bowl I created then. ⇩⇩)

This low-sugar alternative to the popular acai bowls takes a just few minutes to make and offers a deliciously filling start to the day. The concept is similar to stovetop oatmeal or overnight oats, as you can top and customize to taste.

While working with the nutrient-dense chia seeds as I was planning future content for Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health a few months ago, I revisited my recipe and also made a similar version that, Cheryl, one of the hospital’s dietitian’s has long enjoyed. 

Over the period of a month or so, I fiddled with the recipe, fine-tuning the amount of seeds, and the ratio of milk to yogurt. I ate the recipe for weeks on end, never tiring of it. One batch provided breakfast for three days, and when it was gone, I’d quickly whip up another. Never did I tire of it…and it’s still on the morning rotation!

Beyond the speedy prep, the recipe is easy to adjust and customize to personal taste. It may be enjoyed plain, but I find that a new toppings increases my satisfaction and turns the pudding into a meal I truly look forward to.

A sprinkle of granola, nuts, and/or seeds provides welcome crunch, and a variety of fruit supplies added flavor and vibrant color. Over the seasons, I’ve enjoyed these bowls with a variety of berries, sliced bananas, chopped persimmon, peaches, and pomegranate. 

This low-sugar alternative to the popular acai bowls takes a just few minutes to make and offers a deliciously filling start to the day. The concept is similar to stovetop oatmeal or overnight oats, as you can top and customize to taste.

A drizzle of melted peanut butter is my favorite finishing touch…

This low-sugar alternative to the popular acai bowls takes a just few minutes to make and offers a deliciously filling start to the day. The concept is similar to stovetop oatmeal or overnight oats, as you can top and customize to taste.

…but you could certainly skip the peanut butter. Pomegranate seeds have been a recent favorite addition.

 

If you like the idea of topping with melted peanut butter, here’s what I do: 

Scoop a few tablespoons into a microwave-safe ramekin and then warm on high for 20 seconds. Stir and then microwave for 20 seconds more. This will yield a consistency that’s easy to drizzle. When cool, I simply cover the dish and do the same thing the next morning, refilling with another spoonful of peanut butter as needed. 

Almond butter or another nut or seed butter of choice may be certainly be used instead. 

This low-sugar alternative to the popular acai bowls takes a just few minutes to make and offers a deliciously filling start to the day. The concept is similar to stovetop oatmeal or overnight oats, as you can top and customize to taste.

Think of these bowls as a make-ahead alternative to stovetop oatmeal, only served cold like overnight oats. Enjoy plain like tapioca pudding, or do like I do and add assorted toppings for a creamy, crunchy, super satisfying meal.

Chia Pudding Breakfast Bowls
Yield: 2 to 4 servings
This low-sugar alternative to the popular acai bowls takes just a few minutes to make and offers a deliciously filling start to the day. The concept is similar to stovetop oatmeal or overnight oats, as you can top and customize to taste.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (240g) fat free vanilla yogurt
  • 1-2 tablespoons (20-40g) pure maple syrup*
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
  • A pinch (⅛ teaspoon) salt
  • 5-6 level tablespoons (60-72g) chia seeds**
  • 1 cup (240ml) unsweetened vanilla or original almond milk (could sub milk of choice)
  • Optional toppings: granola; fruit like berries, sliced banana, chopped peaches, persimmon, pomegranate; melted peanut butter*** or nut butter of choice; nuts or seeds; toasted coconut
Instructions

In a medium bowl, stir together all of the ingredients until blended. (Tips: I like to add the milk last, in two additions, as it makes it easier to incorporate the yogurt into a smooth mixture. Also note that if you walk away after adding the chia seeds and without stirring, the seeds will clump as they soften and thicken. This, however, is the trait that makes the pudding work!)

Cover the pudding and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. (Helpful hints: Once thickened slightly, I like to distribute the pudding among bowls for ease the next morning. I make 3 bowls. Once topped, it’s a filling amount for me. Plan on 2-4 bowls depending on appetite. The recipe may be doubled and will keep for at least 5 days in the refrigerator.)

When ready to eat, top the individual servings with fresh fruit, granola, nut/seeds, and/or nut butter of choice. The cold pudding has a consistency similar to tapioca and may also be enjoyed without toppings.

 

Notes

*Precise amount of maple syrup will depend on personal preference and variety of yogurt used. Once thickened, you may taste and adjust as desired.
**The amount of chia seeds may be adjusted to create preferred thickness. I like the higher amount, but the first time you may wish to start on the lower side. Once the pudding has thickened, you may stir in more chia seeds if desired. Conversely, if the end result is thicker than you’d like, simply add a drizzle or two of milk until thinned to your liking.
***To easily drizzle peanut butter (or another nut/seed butter of choice) without having to stir in additional ingredients, scoop a few tablespoons into a small, microwavable bowl and microwave, uncovered, on full power for 20 seconds. Stir and microwave on full power for 20 seconds more. Stir and drizzle immediately.

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Nutritional stats using 6 tablespoons chia seeds:

  • 2 hearty servings: 266 calories, 15 grams fat, 1.5 gm saturated fat, 2 mg cholesterol, 237 mg sodium (that’s high for sodium-I suggest not adding salt), 27 gm total carbohydrate, 15 gm dietary fiber, 14.5 gm protein
  •  4 smaller servings: 135 calories, 7.5 gm fat, 1 gm saturated fat, 119 mg sodium, 14 gm carbohydrates, 8 gm dietary fiber, 7 gm protein

With toppings:

  • Sprinkle of granola: adds 14 calories, negligible fat, 6 mg sodium, 2 gm carbohydrates, 0.3 gm protein
  • 2 Tbsp blueberries: adds 10 calories, 1 mg sodium, 2.5 gm carbohydrates, 0.5 gm fiber
  • 2 Tbsp pomegranate: adds 20 calories, 1 mg sodium, 5 gm carbohydrates, 0 fiber
  • Drizzle of peanut butter: adds 50 calories, 4 gm fat, 1 gm saturated fat, 40 mg sodium, 1.5 gm carbohydrate, 0.5 gm fiber, 2 gm protein
This low-sugar alternative to the popular acai bowls takes a just few minutes to make and offers a deliciously filling start to the day. The concept is similar to stovetop oatmeal or overnight oats, as you can top and customize to taste.

This was my chia pudding breakfast on a recent Sunday morning, where I used my homemade chunky granola and added chopped persimmon to my other favorites toppings. 

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Comments

    1. Ann Post author

      So happy these were a hit with your family, Dustin. Thank you for taking a moment to comment. (I just ate one, too, by the way!)

      Reply