“Have you heard of chia seeds yet?” asks Chef Jen Wanous. “They might ring a bell if you remember the once-popular Chia Pet, where the chia seeds sprout and grow into cute pet-plants. Now chia seeds are hitting the market as the next big superfood.”
Chef Jen is a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute and brings her Michelin-star experience working in such restaurants as ABC Kitchen, Anissa, and Prune. As a personal chef, she offers family-friendly farm-to-table meal deliveries in New York City.
“Like their superfood cousin, the flax seed, chia seeds have a high omega-3 content, which is an important fatty acid that reduces inflammation in blood vessels, protecting against diseases like arthritis and heart disease,” Chef Jen says. “Take away the kitschy clay pot pet, and chia seeds are decidedly less fun, even with the health benefits … but that’s what chocolate is for.
“Like chia seeds, chocolate also comes from a seed: the cacao seed,” Chef Jen continues. “In its pure form, chocolate is a superfood too. Cacao is rich in two groups of antioxidants in particular, flavonoids and polyphenols, both of which are seen to protect against heart disease. Pure chocolate, or cacao powder, is bitter in its original form. The good news is that you don’t need all the eggs, butter, cream and sugar to make chocolate taste good. You just need to creatively combine it with some superfoods.
“When going dairy-free, one has to think outside of the box to achieve the familiar textures that dairy offers. Chia seeds can miraculously hold up to 12 times their weight in liquid when soaked. This makes for a gelatin-like effect, which is useful for mimicking the texture of pudding.
“The last ingredient in this superfood recipe are cherries,” Chef Jen says. “Cherries are summer’s sweetheart fruit. They are ripe when picked and promise a sweet seasonal treat. They are available for only a month-long window in late summer, so grab them while you can. A superfood in a small package, cherries are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber.
“Here is a simple recipe that combines a seasonal summer fruit, cherries, with other superfoods – chocolate and chia seeds – to make for a creamy and cool summer treat. Cha, cha, cha, chia pudding!”
Equipment needed: blender
1 can or 13.5 ounces coconut milk
3 tablespoons cocoa powder, unsweetened, non-alkalized
2 tablespoons chia seeds, ground
2 tablespoons maple syrup or agave syrup
½ cup cherries, pitted, roughly chopped
1. In a blender, combine the first four ingredients. Blend on medium speed until well incorporated.
2. Pour mixture into serving bowls, top with chopped cherries, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
If you don’t have cherries you can try a berry like strawberry, blueberry or raspberry instead.