Breakfast. As stated in my Cooking Cure Breakfast post, Breakfast is possibly my favorite food, but I really don’t eat it enough, especially not during the work week.
Guys, low carb breakfast is hard! I could get up and cook myself eggs, but it takes time that I don’t afford myself in the morning. I have sometimes successfully left the house with fruit and nut butter, or even eaten it before I leave, but not often enough. Try as I might, I have wracked my brain for low carb work week breakfast alternatives, but I am clearly way too trained that bagel = breakfast despite not having eaten an actual bagel in about 2 years (Reality check: wow, really? Yep.).
I was at a loss for how to continue the cure, until Mr.S and I went to Costco. As usual, I had to go through almost every aisle just in case there was something new and because what else do you do when you go to Costco and have nothing to do except walk around and browse? Maybe it’s because I had the cure on my mind, or maybe I read something at some point that influenced my attitude, but despite the fact that I have passed them by with casual dismissal for months, this time I stopped in front of the chia seeds and actually looked at them. I picked up the package, looked at the fat and protein content, looked at the carbs vs. fiber content, and did the math. Virtually zero net carbs, good protein, high fat. Previously keto-me would have been jumping up and down with revelation. Now-me calmly placed them in the cart with a questioning eyebrow at Mr.S and went on through the aisles wondering what exactly I would do with them.
Turns out I would make breakfast with them.
The first morning I took my little half-pint mason jar, filled it with seeds and topped it with almond milk and skipped off to work. This was a mistake. Although I knew that chia thickened in any kind of liquid, I didn’t quite realize how long it took to thicken the way that I wanted it to. Chia the morning of? Awesome for smoothies I bet, but not so much as if chia is the star of the show. So I kept the jar at my desk til around lunch time, shaking the jar every 30 minutes or so to check the consistency. It was ready around lunchtime. It was also delicious.
The almond milk (I use unsweetened vanilla) lends just the right amount of flavor and the chia has a great consistency that somehow reminds me of bubble tea, but which is also something all its own. It has a great mouth feel to it and I was instantly convinced of it’s versatility, going so far as to declare to my friends that it was my new go-to breakfast.
I am still convinced of it. Like panna cotta, it seems to be a great base to almost every flavor, but I have also come to realize that you need to be careful with the method in which you add the flavor. You cannot just add cocoa powder to make it taste like chocolate pudding instead. At least not while it’s cold. Remember this!
Anyway, lesson learned on both counts, the next time I tried it, I set it up the night before. Word to the wise, don’t just prep it and toss it in your fridge. For the first 10-15 minutes you’ll want to stir or shake it occasionally otherwise the chia will float to the top or bottom and stick together, which is not what you want. This worked way better than prepping it the morning of and I just had to throw it in my bag and go.
As the title implies there are two ways to prep chia pudding. They both work exceptionally well and both will allow you to mix in pretty much anything you like. So enjoy experimenting and tell me what you try!
- 3 Tablespoons Chia Seeds (may vary based on brand/quality)
- 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (you're welcome to use coconut, regular milk, or cream as it suits you)
- Spoon 3 tablespoons of chia seeds into a container. I use a 1/2 pint (1 cup) jar for my breakfast portion.
- Add 1 cup of milk and stir or cover and shake. It's probably easiest to add the sweetener at this point, but you may also add it after the pudding has gelled.
- Stir/shake the mixture every few minutes for the next 10 or so. Typically I busy myself in the kitchen with other tasks while I'm waiting. The reason for this step is that as the chia starts to gel, it will try to stick to itself and to the top or bottom of your container. It won't be a disaster if you forget, but you'll spend some time de-clumping before eating and it might not gel as nicely.
- After about 10 minutes, if you haven't already covered it, do so and pop it in the fridge. You'll want to leave it for at least 8 hours. Typically with this method I just leave it over night and grab it as I go out the door to work.
- When ready to eat, this is when you should add your mix ins and sweetener if you haven't already. Stir it in, mash them up a little, whatever suits you, and enjoy.
- Spoon 3 tablespoons of chia seeds into a pan and add a cup of milk. Turn the heat up to medium high.
- Heat, stirring occasionally, until you see small bubbles start to form, but do not let it boil! Once you see those bubbles forming turn the heat down and stir.
- Shortly you should see the chia start to gel. Like a lot of gelatinous foods this will happen suddenly and quite quickly, so be ready to stir in earnest when it thickens up.
- Once the chia is thickened, pull the pan off the heat. This is the point where you can add your sweetener and your mix ins. You can also add them during the thickening process, but I find it easier just to add them in after while the pan is still hot. If you need your sweetener to dissolve a little or if you are adding cocoa, turn the burner to low and stir until incorporated before you take the pan off the burner.
- Pour into containers and serve.
Optional Sweetener to taste: powdered, liquid (not honey), or granulated sweetener will likely work best with the cold method. Personally I like a little maple syrup. Honey is great for the warm method, but for the cold it will harden before you can mix it in well, although honey simple syrup might do the trick.
Optional mix ins: I'd suggest fruit of any kind, but softer stuff like berries or bananas probably works best texturally in my opinion. Shredded coconut is also great especially toasted. Cocoa makes a great addition, but I learned the hard way that it won't mix into the cold version. Be warned!