Chia seeds—the same magical things that turn sculpture pets into overgrown, sprouted topiaries (ch-ch-ch-chia!)—have found themselves in the health limelight in recent years. Packed with fiber, omegas, potassium, and magnesium, the superfood seeds are great for boosting energy, improving endurance, and even helping regulate digestion.
And while it’s simple to toss them in smoothies or on top of salads, we prefer adding them to recipes that taste like dessert (but are secretly super healthy). And don’t worry, they won’t make you sprout plants from unexpected places.
Photo: Simple Roots Wellness
Creamsicle? More like dreamsicle. Sticking to five simple ingredients (and optional toppings), this is a recipe you can pull together in a snap—plus, you likely have all the materials on hand. Simply mix 'em together, pop in the fridge, and top with as many crunchy additions as desired. (We love toasted coconut flakes, pecans, and dried cherries.)
Most of us are used to sniffing lavender, not eating it, but the buds are the perfect complement to blueberries in this sweet pudding. While this one will require a little extra prep work to infuse the coconut milk with the flower, it's so worth it when you wake up the next morning and dive in.
Put a little zing in your step with this ginger-citrus pudding. The orange juice and zest pair beautifully with ginger, but we really love the addition of goji berries, which may help protect against the flu.1
Then there's the crunchy green pistachios for a little more fiber and protein.
- Exotic berries as a functional food. Lasekan O. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care, 2015, Jun.;17(6):1473-6519.
No matter the time of year, get a beach-like feeling with this pineapple pudding. With just four ingredients—chia seeds, protein powder, pineapple, and almond milk—it's the epitome of easy. Use your favorite vanilla protein powder and canned pineapple if fresh is out of season.
Rather than topping your breakfast with berries, purée almond milk and strawberries in the blender for intense berry flavor throughout your pudding. Mix it with chia plus honey for extra sweetness and vanilla for a little extra something.
If pomegranates only make it on your radar around the holidays, it’s time to start chowing down on this pudding. The vanilla base is terrific by itself, but adding fresh pomegranate seeds brings about a pop of color plus antioxidants and fiber.
PB&B fans, you don't need bread to enjoy this perfect flavor pairing. Peanut butter brings almost 5 grams of protein to a serving, plus the recipe makes enough for six and lasts for a week in the fridge. What are you waiting for? Make this and you don't have to worry about your a.m. meal for days.
This “cheesecake” is loaded with some serious protein thanks to cottage cheese. It's also crazy creamy too. Topped with fresh strawberries, it’ll satisfy your sweet tooth anytime of day.
Photo: The Roasted Root
This is more dessert than breakfast since it's boozy, but there's nothing wrong with that! Prepare basic chia seed pudding, then top with caramelized bananas and spiced rum maple syrup. Talk about a happy hour.
Only three ingredients comprise this sweet, refreshing pudding. This recipe’s yummy as is, but it’s easy to customize with a different fruit or a topping of crushed nuts. Raspberries are high in fiber, so this one's filling too.
You say parfait, we say par-tay (in your mouth). Add diced fresh mangoes to a base made with coconut milk, chia seeds, shredded coconut, and maple syrup. With a boost of antioxidants, enough fiber to keep you full for hours, and a taste that rivals fro-yo, you may just ditch store-bought yogurt parfaits for good—a blessing for both your health and wallet.
Sometimes classic (and simple) is best. Mix your seeds, milk of choice, and vanilla, plus sweetener (if desired). Let it all sit overnight, then top with whatever berries you're in the mood for. All are good sources of anthocyanins, which may protect against diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
Much as we love it, chia seed pudding can fail to satisfy since it's just, well, mush. Top it with soft berries and crunchy pieces of almonds, however, and you have plenty more texture and oomph. As with all of these recipes, this is great to make in a mason jar so you can easily transport it to work.
This pudding kicks things up a notch by being served warm. Even better: It’s ready to eat in less than 10 minutes. Simply warm up the milk (let it simmer, not boil), stir in the chia seeds, let sit, and top with apple slices, coconut flakes, and cinnamon. Tip: Sauté diced apple with cinnamon and a teaspoon of maple syrup for an even more pie-like meal.
Greek yogurt makes everything better, no? Here it makes for rich, thick pudding that's spiked with maple syrup for a classic a.m. taste. Sure, it's not pancakes, but who has time for that on a weekday?
Get the taste of a cocktail sans alcohol with this creamy pudding. Sautéing coconut flakes and pineapple in a smidgen of brown sugar and butter is a must for even sweeter fruit and more flavor. Make this one for dessert or a late-night treat.
With lemon and a sprinkle of fresh mint, this pudding may have enough zing to wake you up without any coffee. And it has Greek yogurt for extra protein power, keeping you full until lunchtime.
Photo: Natural Chow
We love when simple recipes result in big flavor. What we love even more: Recipes you can make ahead of time and eat on the go. This pudding recipe marinates in coconut milk overnight and is topped with fresh pomegranate seeds, semi-sweet chocolate (we prefer dark varieties), and shredded coconut in the morning. Talk about a meal worth waking up for!
Sorry Girl Scouts, but there’s a new mint chocolate in town. Chocolate chia pudding is layered with a whipped mint coconut cream for a yummy, healthy treat. Be sure to use full-fat coconut cream; low-fat versions won’t thicken up.
It's not quite the same experience as biting into a candy bar, but the flavor is all there—and from only four ingredients! Using dark chocolate almond milk means you don't need to add cocoa power or sugar, while the roasted coconut flakes and nutrient-dense almonds give these the crunch and flavor you’d expect. Buh-bye, candy aisle.
Adding cayenne powder and cinnamon to this chocolate pudding ups its spiciness factor—and its antioxidant properties. Try this pudding when you’re feeling extra sassy. Blending it after letting the seeds soak overnight makes for a super creamy consistency.
If Reese’s has taught us anything, it’s that PB + chocolate = love. Get the two flavors in this easy-to-make pudding. Medjool dates add sweetness and fiber, and peanut butter (or your favorite nut butter) gives the pudding just the right hint of nuts without overpowering the chocolate.
Use this recipe as a chocolatey pudding base. If you don’t mind a chunkier pudding, there’s a version for that. If you like your pudding more like buttah, you can have it that way too. Then let you taste buds and imagination run wild as you add your favorite toppings.
If you find yourself drawn to the freezer night after night, it might be time to replace an ice cream habit with a healthier chia pudding one. This rocky road-inspired treat combines peanut butter (use the real stuff rather than the powder for more flavor), cocoa powder, almond milk, and almighty chia seeds for a dessert you can feel good about polishing off in one sitting. When’s the last time you said that after a pint of Ben and Jerry’s? (Go ahead and add a few mini marshmallows on top for the real deal.)
Why drink your coffee when you can eat it? This mocha mix is delicious and healthy to boot. We love using cacao nibs in place of cocoa powder here; you’ll get a slightly bitter, chocolate flavor, and potential powers to fight against diabetes and heart disease.1
- Chocolate consumption and risk of diabetes mellitus in the Physicians' Health Study. Matsumoto C, Petrone AB, Sesso HD. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 2014, Nov.;101(2):1938-3207. Cocoa and heart health: a historical review of the science. Pucciarelli DL. Nutrients, 2013, Sep.;5(10):2072-6643. Anti-Oxidative Polyphenolic Compounds of Cocoa. Nabavi SF, Sureda A, Daglia M. Current pharmaceutical biotechnology, 2015, undefined.;16(10):1873-4316.
Why save dark chocolate and raspberries for Valentine’s Day when you can eat them every day? (Bonus: This recipe is way healthier than the average holiday indulgence.) Simply mix melted dark chocolate with coconut milk (or any non-dairy milk), blend raspberries and another cup of milk with the chia seeds, layer the two mixtures, and top with grated chocolate and fresh berries. Now that’s what we call romance.
Other Amazing Flavors
Photo: I Heart Eating
Think 50 Shades of Grey is seductive? Try smelling a freshly baked cinnamon bun. Made with loads of cinnamon, brown sugar, and butter, the sexy (smelling) buns are hard to resist—but unfortunately they're not the healthiest treat. When that sweet tooth comes a callin’, opt for this pudding recipe instead, which uses maple syrup and agave as natural sweeteners and cashew milk as a creamy base. It even has a sticky pecan topping.
This super simple pudding tastes just like coconut cream pie and requires pretty much no prep work. Grab four ingredients—chia seeds, vanilla, coconut milk, and honey—set in the fridge, and top with coconut flakes before serving. Good enough to be dessert but healthy enough for a grab-and-go breakfast? Perfect.
Pressed for time before your next dinner party? Serve this pumpkin pie pudding instead of the real thing. Trust us, it’s just as good! Chia seeds soak overnight in almond milk and then, before serving, are mixed with pumpkin purée, pumpkin pie spice, and maple syrup. It’s pretty much autumn in a mason jar. Garnish with your favorite sliced, toasted nuts.
Try saying chai chia 10 times fast. And while you’re at it, give this simple recipe a go. Inspired by one of our favorite tea drinks, it’ll satisfy those sweet cravings without resulting in sugar overload. Bonus: It’s made with the real stuff (cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, and black pepper) and topped with whipped cream.
It’s amazing what a filling breakfast only four ingredients can create. Sweeten your chia seeds and almond milk with maple syrup, then let them get cozy in the fridge until they reach a pudding-like consistency. In the morning, roast walnuts for just a few minutes till they’re lightly toasted. (Worth the few minutes, really!) Sprinkle those bad boys on top for healthy fats and enjoy.
Greens are finally getting the attention they deserve. From green smoothies to zucchini-infused baked goods to good ol’ pudding, it’s safe to say veggies taste good in almost anything—and this recipe is no exception. With a base made of banana, Greek yogurt, almond milk, spinach, and chia seeds, plus a fresh berry topping (granola tastes great too), you’ll have a perfectly balanced breakfast of carbs, antioxidants, protein, and fiber.
Cancer-fighting matcha is super trendy—and super tasty. Simply sprinkle some powder into your pudding for an earthy (but not “I'm eating grass”) note. And really, can you resist that bright green color?
This pudding has a leg up on the average pumpkin spice latte. Not only does it taste as good as the Starbucks stuff, but it’s also a full breakfast. Coffee wakes you up, full-fat coconut milk provides healthy fats, and you get a little bit of veggie from pumpkin purée, plus a touch of protein from the seeds.
Most cake batter isn't gluten-free and vegan, but this one is certainly worth a try (and may cause you to quit your boxed-batter habit for good). Sweetened with dates, maple syrup, and vanilla extract, and bulked up with almond butter, oats, and chia seeds, this pudding makes you feel like every day is your birthday.
If you love green juice, you'll love this! What’s spookiest about the chia pudding isn’t the color or how easy it is to make; it’s how nutritious and delicious it is. The hemp powder brings omega-3 fatty acids, while wheatgrass (that's right—it's not just for shots!) has high levels of phytonutrients.
Because you can never have too much pumpkin, we had to add this to the list. Full-fat coconut milk makes it decadently rich, then almond butter drizzle takes it over the top. But not really because it's all made from healthy plant foods with just a touch of maple syrup (which you can omit, if you wish).
Originally published February 2015. Updated October 2015.