This is an excellent overnight easy chia seed pudding recipe that is delicious and simple to prepare. The result, a silky chia seed pudding bursting with the sweet and tart flavour of pomegranates and with the addition of some ‘perfumy’ rose petals you create a beautiful middle eastern chia seed pudding that can be served up as a nutritious plant-based breakfast, dessert or snack. Simply prepare a vegan/plant-based milk blended with fruit and nectar to give sweetness then mix in the chia seeds and simply leave in the fridge overnight.
Chia seeds are popular and are being used more and more in our foods but for some they are still a bit of an enigma. The reason for this is that they were only really introduced into European cuisine at the end of the 20th century and because of this they are still regarded as a novel food and nutritional studies have not been thoroughly undertaken to determine their full health benefits for long term consumption, although preliminary studies have shown encouraging results. For most they just simply haven’t been around long enough to be classed as a staple.
What is chia?
Chia has been grown for many years but primarily in is native South America. It is a flowering plant called ‘Salvia hispanica’ which is from the same family as mint and more commonly known as chia. They are cultivated for their small edible mottled black seeds which as an ingredient has varied uses. It’s perfect for overnight chia seed pudding recipes like this one.
What is chia used for?
There are a few reasons why chia continues to grow in popularity and it is down to the different ways you can add them into your diet. More and more they have been added into our everyday goods such as breads, breakfasts cereals and grain bars and added as a topping for healthy smoothies and yoghurts. It would be this reason that they are commonly added to “health foods” that they too have the banner of a “health food” over them too. Saying that they do have an impressive list of health benefits too.
Chia seeds are also hydrophilic, which means that they draw water out of the air and food. Salt and sugar are also hydrophilic and a good example of seeing this happen is when you sprinkle sugar on fruits to turn them mushy as with a traditional compote recipe.
Chia seeds, when soaked in liquid can absorb up to 12 times their original weight which means that when added to a flavoursome liquid such as a plant-based milk (as with this easy recipe) they turn it into a gelatinous chia seed pudding. The seeds can also be ground to a gel and used in very much the same way as aquafaba (chickpea water) that is used in plant-based cooking to bind foods which would normally be done using an egg.
Chia seeds and health benefits
Chia seeds are high in essential fatty acids known as omega-3s
The body needs essential fatty acids (also known as polyunsaturated fats) as it cannot make enough to supply our needs by itself, therefore they must come from our diet. The other essential fatty acids are omega-6s. The names of these acids simply describe their molecular makeup where the first double bonded carbon to carbon links are situated in the chain, this then affects the molecule’s shape and function and how they are processed in the body. Omega-3s are mainly derived from nuts such as walnuts, flaxseed and (chia), and oily fish. These fats are incredibly good for your heart and ease inflammation in the body. Omega-6s which are mainly derived from vegetable oils often have a bad reputation for health as the body can convert some of these fats into other kinds that are the building blocks that cause inflammation (a precursor to chronic diseases) However whilst over consumption of omega-6s can cause health issues the body can convert much of it into healthy fats, the key is to balance both types of omega-3s and omega-6 rather than reduce the amount omega-6s consumed.
Why are fats good or bad for you?
Quite simply put, different fats have differing effects on health. Even though the fat molecules are very similar with carbon atoms bonded to hydrogen atoms the differing amounts of hydrogen affect the overall functions of the fats massively.
Polyunsaturated fats: have the least amount of hydrogen bonds, these are healthy fats and include omega-3s and omega-6s from nut and plant bases.
Monounsaturated fats: have double bonded carbon atoms which differ slightly from polyunsaturated fats but still make them liquid at room temperature, these fats are also healthy and especially olive oil which can be evidenced through a Mediterranean diet which sees people living some of the longest and healthiest lives on the planet.
Saturated fat: which comes from meat and dairy and coconut oil is saturated with hydrogen atoms. These fats, when over consumed are known to cause inflammation in the body.
Trans fats: are the unhealthiest fats and have been hydrogenated to give them a longer shelf life. These fats are mainly used in commercial and processed foods. Replacing these fats with polyunsaturated fats such as nut and grain oils, fish oils and in this case chia seeds is a good way to stave off chronic illnesses caused by inflammation.
Chia is good for bone health
Chia seeds also contain a high amount of calcium which is important for bone health. Only around 30g of chia will contain around ⅕ of your recommended daily intake of calcium. So it is a great source of calcium for someone who doesn’t consume dairy.
Chia is high in antioxidants
The beneficial fats in these seeds are also protected by a large amount of antioxidants in chia. The effect of this when we consume foods that are high in antioxidants are that they help fight oxidative stress caused in our body by free radicals which are negatively charged molecules in the body formed after we metabolise food that cause damage at a cellular level.
Chia is high in fibre
The carbohydrate content of chia seeds is almost entirely fibre and with about 40% of its entire weight being fibre means it is one of the most fibre rich food stuffs in the world. This means it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels nor requires insulin to dispose of it. Fibre is essential for a healthy gut and helps ferry toxins out of the body.
Chia is high in protein
Protein is vital to repair and maintain the body. Proteins are made up of amino acids and chia contains a healthy balance of amino acids. Intake of plant-protein is essential when you don’t consume animal proteins such as meat dairy and eggs and with all the hormone content and unknown genetically modified food introduced into animal proteins it is wise to follow a predominantly plant-based diet to maintain health whilst either battling or trying to stave off chronic disease which have associated links to diet.
When substituting plant proteins for animal fat proteins, it has been researched to have an decreased impact on cardiovascular illnesses and heart attacks as well as preventing a fatty liver and chia is an easy seed to introduce into your diet.
Chia seed puddings
As chia seeds expand up to 12 times their original weight when soaked they can absorb many flavours to make fantastic chia seed puddings. The texture is thick with a jelly like yoghurty viscosity not too dissimilar from a blancmange.
The flavour in this chia seed pudding recipe comes from the fruit or flavouring blended with the liquid. With this recipe we have used oat milk for the rich texture and flavour but alternatively you could use any of your favourite plant-based milks such as:
Almond milk for a sweet nutty flavour, it is low in proteins but actually very high in calcium.
Cashew milk, rather like oat milk, is creamy but contains a high amount of lutein which is very good for eye health.
Rice milk has a flavour you would associate more with rice pudding which works for flavour however most of the nutritional has been removed as the rice husks themselves have been removed.
Soy milk is full of protein and phytonutrients such as isoflavones that are potent antioxidants that could fight cancers. Although one of the healthier choices, flavour does play a big part in puddings and perhaps alternatives work better.
Why pomegranates in this easy chia seed pudding?
The main flavour comes in this pure plant-based chia seed pudding recipe from pomegranates, which themselves are full of healthy polyphenols (plant compounds). Two in particular called punicalagins and punicic acid are potent antioxidants with as much as three times the potency of green tea and make up most of the health benefits of this truly remarkable fruit. Among its benefits include:
Anti-inflammatory effects that have been researched to battle breast cancer and prostate cancer
Reducing high blood pressure known as hypertension to prevent heart attacks and strokes etc.
Treating fungal infections
Reducing pain from arthritis
Reducing bad cholesterol
Improving your memory as inflammation can be one of the precursors to Alzheimer’s disease.
These health benefits make pomegranates one of the most healthy foods on the planet.
Other flavours you might like in this chia seed pudding
Chia seed pudding is such an easy dish to prepare, all you need is your favourite flavour, your favourite milk and some chia seeds. You can sweeten with agave, date nectar or honey, all you need is a little patience to wait overnight or at least for a couple of hours.
Blending milks with flavour is really a milkshake, so why not add chia seed to your favourite such as banana, vanilla, or strawberry or go wild with protein bars, coffee, cherry or matcha. The choice is yours but follow the easy chia seed pudding recipe below to show you how to do it.
Have you made this chia seed pudding with pomegranate?
We’d love to see your chia creations! Please leave a comment below, share or tag using @anticancerkitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #anticancerkitchen.
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- 1 cup or 250ml of oat milk or any other plant-based milk
- The seeds of a whole pomegranate, approximately 3/4 cup or 150g. (To de-seed, run a knife around the tip and pull it out, score down the sides with a knife to create 4 or 5 segments, pull apart, separate the seeds from the flesh and reserve).
- 1/2 tablespoon Agave syrup
- 4 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1 tablespoons rose petals (optional)
Combine the plant-based milk with 1/2 a cup of the pomegranate seeds (reserving the rest for later) with the agave syrup and process in a blender for 2-3 minutes.
Strain (important step) through muslin cloth or strainer to remove the solids into your cups.
Add the chia seeds and rose petals (optional) and stir. Leave for 20-30 minutes then stir again. Leave overnight or for a minimum of 2.5 hours.
When serving, garnish with the remaining pomegranate seeds and rose petals (optional).
How to make chia seed pudding with pomegranate - step-by-step guide