Recently, my dad has become a bit of a health freak. We’re talking a green smoothie drinking, powdery herbal supplement adding, vegan everything eating, grade A health freak. This is the guy who taught me about Animal Style at In-N-Out and will share an extra-large Casa Bianca sausage and garlic pizza with me and almost finish it. So when I went back home to L.A., recently, I was not exactly pleased to find that the only food in our fridge was kale, carrots, spinach, almond milk, flax seed, and maca powder. On top of that, the kitchen where I grew up making Magic Spoon Cookbook recipes and eventually starting the Pantry Raid, was a giant gaping hole of nothingness.
I’ve been told that kitchen renovations are everyone’s nightmare, and let me tell you, that’s not far from the truth. The dining room and kitchen had merged into one, resulting in what looked a lot like the aftermath of a major natural disaster, topped off with a thick coat of dust.
My father, the optimist that he is, took this opportunity to embrace his inner health-extremist by acquiring one of those fancy Vitamix blenders. All of a sudden, all that yucky “food” in the fridge made sense. On my first morning in L.A,. I woke up early thanks to jet lag. At a loss for what to eat for breakfast, I wandered around the dining room/kitchen in search of some sustenance. As I scavenged, I daydreamed about my breakfast the day before – The Allstoned Sunrise at Refuge Café in Allston, MA. The only healthy thing about this cheesy, eggy, bacony, breakfast sandwich smothered in siracha mayo is the multigrain bread, and I’m totally okay with that. (side note: after posting a photo on Instagram of my breakfast captioned "Allstoned Sunrise," I realized that non-Allstonions would not understand the reference to Refuge's menu and I immediately felt poster's remorse). Frustrated by the lack of carbohydrates and pork products in the fridge, I was beginning to lose hope.
Then, I found my dad’s stash of chia seeds, which had been one of my favorite snacks back in elementary school. Call me a hipster, but I was eating chia seeds way before they were cool. If you haven’t already been inundated with chia seed everything (juice, bread, smoothies [ahem, dad]) then the buck ends here. I guarantee that after reading this post, you’ll see chia seeds popping up left and right.
Because my dining room/kitchen was literally barren of all foods that aren't smoothie appropriate and I was in no mood for one of Dad’s chartreuse blended beverages, I poured a handful of seeds into a red solo cup and ate them on their own.
Not only is this not a very filling breakfast, but it’s rather boring…especially when you had a bacon, egg, and heart attack sandwich the morning before. While chia seeds are packed with Omega 3’s, protein, and tons of fiber, they don’t taste like much. Leave a few in your mouth for a moment though, and they form a jelly-like coating that tastes a little like watermelon.
During this visit to L.A., I became more and more inundated with my dad’s healthy attitude. I was coerced into drinking one of his smoothies most mornings and I probably ate bacon only once, if that.
Back in Boston, I was stocking up at the grocery store when I happened upon some chia seeds (surprise, surprise!). There had to be a way to incorporate these yummy seeds into my diet that didn't involve green sludge or solo cups. What I came up with was Chia Seed Pudding.
With a slight crunch and a tropical coconut essence, this pudding is simple, but delicious. The seeds, which jellify when left to rest, will thicken the coconut milk and lend to it an interesting texture.
This pudding is great for breakfast, dessert, or a quick pre/post workout snack. The protein from the seeds will give you energy and the coconut milk, while high in saturated fat, provides a number of great nutrients like potassium.
This recipe is a blank slate, so feel free to experiment by adding ingredients such as lime zest, cocoa powder, or substituting almond milk for coconut milk. I topped mine with fresh blueberries, which translated into a delicious breakfast parfait. Let me know what you try!
Ingredients (approx. 6 servings)
1 can light coconut milk (14 fluid ounces)
½ cup chia seeds
1 tablespoon honey
1. In a medium sized mixing bowl or Tupperware, combine coconut milk, chia seeds, and honey and, using a wooden spoon, stir vigorously.
2. Cover and place in fridge for at least one hour.
3. Remove from fridge, stir vigorously and serve cold with fresh blueberries.