3 of a Kind: Creative Chia Pudding

Chia has come a long way since its time sprouting out of pet-shaped planters. Those tiny little seeds — packed with fiber, protein, calcium and Omega-3s — have become a healthy homemade go-to, but restaurants are sprucing up the Latin American superfood, going beyond the basics to include creative puddings in inspired flavors.

Horchata Chia Pudding at Seed + Salt, San Francisco 

After discovering that many chefs rely heavily on sweet ingredients like dates and agave to flavor chia, Seed + Salt went for a less sugary version inspired by the Mexican drink. It’s now the most-popular breakfast item on the menu. The high-protein pudding has a base of horchata and is topped with a mixture of cinnamon, nuts, goji berries and coconut, which add both texture and flavor.

Blueberry Chia Pudding at Zeal Food, Boulder

Zeal uses the tagline, “We’re about to detonate your taste buds with awesomeness!” which might make you wonder just what else is going into the pudding. When Chef Wayde Jester initially experimented with chia, it reminded him of his mother’s tapioca pudding but “with a superfood wallop.” His resulting chia pudding is offered both for breakfast and as a dessert. Both are made with almond milk, vanilla, agave nectar, cinnamon and nutmeg, with a nut crumble on top.

Maple Chia Pudding at Chaco Canyon Cafe, Seattle

At this mini-chain of organic cafes, chia appears throughout the menu as a thickener for dressings and baked goods, but the pudding puts chia center stage. Their breakfast pudding is made with chia seeds in a base of hemp and coconut milk, sweetened with maple syrup. It’s topped with banana, almonds and coconut flakes. The dish has flavor and health benefits. Chef Lois Rivera says, “There's protein, good fats, fiber and energy to get you going, and just enough sweetening to make it really enjoyable.”

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