Simplifying home cooking makes eating at home more convenient, nutritious and economical. It can be lip-smacking good! When one dish can last for several meals and is portable, what is there not to like! This is simple, nutritious food good for any time.
All that chia “pudding” means is chia seeds soaked in a liquid. It is not a dessert, though it can be served as such with the fruit compote. I soak chia seeds in warm unsweetened soy milk ( and I really cannot stomach soy milk by itself). There’s no taste of soy milk. A splash of rose water or orange extract elevates this for me, but it is optional. Sometimes I add it, sometimes not. I serve it with a fruit compote made from frozen fruit which is always consistent, available, and relatively precise. The pudding itself is bland, tasteless. In the summer, a heap of fresh fruit with a little drizzle of agave syrup or honey is perfect.
When I took this pudding to my pottery class, everyone said the consistency was different from what they make—creamier, more heft. The reason is that all the recipes I have seen online soak the seeds in cold milk, whatever milk is preferred (regular, soy, coconut, oat, almond, rice, hemp, macadamia nut, cashew milk). Coconut milk does make it much richer, much more caloric, and sky-high in saturated fat. Warming the liquid to a little warmer than body temperature hydrates the seeds much better, more evenly, and all the way to the center. They bloom. The thickening happens in minutes, not overnight. This is what makes my chia seed pudding different.
We love the pudding with a mixed berry, mixed berries with cherries, sweet red cherry, or a peach compote. The fruit is cooked with a touch of honey, or agave syrup, or brown sugar. Just one tablespoon for a pound of frozen fruit. So there is very little added sugar. Of course, more can be added to taste. Berries and cherries marry well with rose water. Cherries do well with almond extract as well. And peaches with almond extract are perfect—in fact, frozen peaches need it! As I am not a member of Costco, and it is too far from me, I buy my frozen fruit from Trader Joe’s. The price is much better than the local grocery stores. Chia seeds too are from Trader Joe’s though I sometimes spot bags at Indian grocery stores that are priced better.
Both the pudding and the compote are perfectly good for 5 days covered in the fridge. So like overnight oats, I only need to make this every 3-5 days depending on whether it was eaten as breakfast or lunch, or both…and maybe dessert or snack. The compotes are also delicious with overnight oats, on their own, with ice-cream, cake. I cook two pounds of fruit for 1 cup of chia seeds.
We always have a bowl of compote in the fridge. And there is not much effort involved in making it.
Ingredients for chia pudding:
1. 1 cup chia seeds
2. 3 cups unsweetened soy milk (or a milk of your choice—the ratios may change a bit depending on your liquid)
3. Splash of rose water (optional)
1. Pour milk in a shallow, microwave proof bowl and heat it for 1 to 2 minutes, till it is slightly warm. Dip your finger in and feel it!
2. Sprinkle in the chia seeds and mix thoroughly with a fork or whisk, making sure there are no clumps. Break them up. Cover and wait 10 minutes. Then mix it up again and it should have thickened considerably. It will get a little more thick as it cools. So see what consistency you like. If it is too thick, add a splash of milk and whisk it up. If too runny, into the microwave it goes in 15-30 second increments, depending on your bowl and microwave. Do not cover it.
That’s it. Cover the bowl and chill it unless you want it right away at room temperature. I like mine thick, not solid, not loose.
Preparation and cooking time: 5 minutes. Serves 6-8 depending on what size meal, snack, dessert
Ingredients for berry/cherry or mixed berry compote:
1. 2 pounds of frozen mixed berries/cherry berries, dark sweet pitted cherries, blueberries and raspberries combined (any combination is fine)
2. 2 tablespoons of agave syrup or honey or brown sugar (or to taste)
3. 1/2 teaspoon agar agar flakes or granules or corn starch (you may need to adjust this depending on how much liquid the fruit releases and how thick or thin you like it—I like mine chunky and the liquid to thicken to the consistency of slightly thick honey). If using corn starch, you have to make a slurry—mix the corn starch in 1 tablespoon cold water till smooth)
Splash of rose water (optional)
1. Add the fruit to a heavy bottomed pan and heat on medium low heat with the lid on to save time. Do not crank up the heat and burn the fruit at the bottom while it is frozen at the top! Then remove the lid after 5 minutes so the juices do not overflow and make a mess.
2. After 7-8 minutes, check and see if the fruit is swimming in liquid. Add the honey, the agar agar (or corn starch mixed till smooth in a tablespoon of cold tap water. Cook away, uncovered for another 5-7 minutes till the liquid reduces to become syrupy. can always add a bit more agar agar or corn starch depending on thick it needs to be. It will thicken a bit more as it cools. Add the splash of rose water, if using.
3. Turn off the stove, wait for the fruit to cool and transfer it to a bowl that can be covered. Chill and enjoy!!
Cooking time: about 15 minutes. Serves 6-8.
Ingredients for peach compote
1. 2 pounds of frozen peaches
2. 2 tablespoons of agave syrup/honey/brown sugar
3. Splash of almond extract (we like a good amount so the flavor really comes through—3/4 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon)
1. Dump the frozen, sliced peaches in a heavy skillet with a lid or a pan. Heat covered on medium to medium low heat (you do not want to burn the fruit at the bottom and have it frozen at the top). Peaches take longer than berries to soften, so give this 10-15 minutes depending on your fruit, pan, stove. The peaches will release liquid and start softening. Check on the peaches after 10 minutes, and keep an eye on them till they release their juices. Then uncover the pan so the juices do not overflow and make a mess. Continue cooking on medium low heat till the fruit has softened so that it can be mashed.
2. Add the sweetener, and see if the fruit is tender enough to mash coarsely with a potato masher or a fork. Fork is more work, but works. If the fruit is not cooked through, let it cook some more on medium low heat. Then coarsely mash it—it will be slightly chunky. Add the almond extract and stir well.
3. Turn off the stove and let the compote cool in the pan before transferring to a bowl that can be covered and chilled.
Now: Take equal amounts of chia and fruit compote, sprinkle some nuts if you like, and silently savor each mouthful.
Cooking time: about 20-25 minutes. Serves: 6-8
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