First of all, can I get a “Go State!” from all of my Iowa State fans out there?! Woot woot! I have to admit, I’m not a sports fan. at. all. But, Iowa State is my alma mater and if I’m going to cheer for any school, it’s going to be that one.
Ok, enough about sports. That was plenty for me. In other news, how was your weekend?! I had a fun and much needed girls’ getaway weekend with my two closest and dearest friends from college—Sarah and Alex. Sarah and I met the first day we arrived to Iowa State; we were assigned as random roommates at Iowa State and it could not have been a better fit! We hit it off immediately and were roommates for all four years, making several good memories together along the way. Let’s just say, unlike many people in college, we both had a great roommate experience during college! We were so similar in almost every aspect, that we were (and still are) often mistaken as sisters—I’ll take that as a compliment!
Alex and I met at a cross walk on campus during the first weeks of college our freshman year. As we awkwardly waited for the cars to pass, one of us asked, “How many people, do you think, have died at this cross walk?” First of all, who starts a conversation with that?! And second of all, how was the other person not freaked out by this question and not running in the opposite direction? Looking back on this now, I’m pretty sure nobody has died at that cross walk. Well, we kept talking as we (safely) crossed the road and continued until we reached our dorm, which happened to be the same one. No matter how randomly we met, I’m glad we did. My college experience would not have been nearly as entertaining without her. Oh, and I think we’ve both improved our conversation-starting skills. :)
Sarah, Alex, and I all live in different parts of the Midwest now, so we met up at Sarah’s parents’ house, which was a good, central spot for all of us. They live in Northeast Iowa, tucked away among all the trees, curvy gravel roads, and corn fields. Just the drive alone was relaxing enough for me. Getting back to gravel roads, driving through several small towns, and being surrounded by countryside reminded me of my life growing up in Northwest Iowa.
Despite frigid weather, the three of us had a great time catching up, walking around downtown in small-town Iowa and going through shops, staying warm by the fire, playing card games, and cooking together.
For lunch on Saturday, we ate at a great café downtown called Water Street Café. It was attached to a food co-op and most of the food served was locally grown and made from scratch daily. Talk about delicious! It was a quaint café with unbelievably friendly service, too. I hope to make it back again!
In my effort to expand my friends’ culinary horizons, I brought along my Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding for them to try for dessert. I had promoted chia seeds for their nutritional benefits to Alex earlier this month and thought this would be the perfect way for her to try it out risk free. I think Sarah and Alex were both a little skeptical at first, but being the great friends they are, they dug in anyway. Turns out they liked it! (Would I ever steer them wrong?!)
Maybe I should explain this a little bit first. Yes, they actually are the same chia seeds from the chia pet commercial we all know and love from the 90’s. But don’t go running off yet! They’re a grain similar to flaxseed, which you may be more familiar with. Unlike flaxseed, which you have to grind up to get the beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids stored inside, chia seeds can be eaten unground. Plus, chia seeds have higher amounts of the Omega-3 fatty acids, as well as more fiber than flaxseed and is a great source of calcium and protein.
All that to say, it’s packed with the good stuff we need. The Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation, improve cholesterol levels and heart health, and may also help with brain and memory health. So don’t be afraid of it just because it has the dreaded term “fat” in it! It’s the good fat that we should be getting more of.
Chia seeds, when eaten dry, are similar to a poppy seed in taste and are dense, small, and crunchy. I always tell clients that they’re great added to smoothies, yogurt, cereal, or salads; it makes for an easy way to add some extra fiber and healthy fats into our meals and snacks! What’s unique about chia seeds is that when soaked in liquid, the seeds soak up the liquid and become plump and soft, similar to tapioca pearls (just think of them doing that in your stomach; that’s why they’re so great at making you feel fuller longer!). Which finally brings me to my Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding. It really is just like chocolate tapioca pudding. And the best part? (Besides it being a sneaky way of eating something healthy with your dessert.) It’s so easy to make!
To make it, all you do is mix together cocoa powder, brown sugar, and a little granulated sugar together until smooth and clump free.
Add in some chia seeds and mix them into the cocoa powder mixture.
Pour in some skim milk and stir to combine.
Let it sit overnight in the fridge and you have chocolate pudding in the morning!
It’s amazing how much liquid the chia seeds soak up and that it actually really tastes like pudding! The chia seeds have such a mild flavor that you don’t taste them at all; it’s just the texture you notice. Sarah and Alex both approved of the pudding and agreed it was like tapioca pudding. Philip and I have been enjoying this as our after-dinner dessert, too. This particular recipe has no added peanut butter to it (shocking, I know!), but I have added a half tablespoon in the past, creating a mild peanut butter flavor. I think some Nutella added in would also be very tasty!
So you see, it’s already been friend- and husband-approved. How bad can it be? Give it a try and let me know what you think! If anything, try adding the dry seeds to your smoothies and salads to get an extra nutritional boost in your day.
Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
Yields 4 servings (about 1/2 cup each)
- 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 1 cup skim milk
- Berries for garnish, optional
- Mix cocoa powder, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together in a small bowl; stir until no lumps remain. (I use the same container I plan on storing the pudding in so there is one less bowl to clean up)
- Add chia seeds to the mixture and stir until combined.
- Pour milk into the bowl and stir to incorporate.
- Cover the bowl and refrigerate for two hours or overnight.
- Stir once more after chilling, divide into serving cups, and garnish with raspberries or any other fresh berry. Enjoy!