A long time ago, one of my academic acquaintances made a remark that has since stuck with me. I knew you were really a grad student, he said, when you stopped blogging regularly. At the time I laughed,
perversely somewhat proud that life had swallowed me whole I had become a full-time academic. Later, the comment gave me serious pause. Why should grad school get all the fun, or at the very least, all my writing energy? And yet how couldn’t it? At this point, I started to find polished, professional-looking grad student food blogs uniquely irritating, second only to certain cherished sites that made the eventual, yet still utterly betraying turn into marriage plots (“I’ve been waiting a long time to introduce you to X….” “X approves of this dish…” “Reader, I married him.” UGH. Unless you are the totally badass Charlotte Brontë, please never, ever use this last line.) But that’s a subject for another post.
Now, I am interested in the inbetween of being a grad student and food blogger (and I should also say, cook), and the various strategies, compromises, and creative means one employs to be both. Sometimes that means not writing about literature, or not writing about food; sometimes that means doing both and feeling that awesome warm fuzzy feeling of cross-disciplinarity (and not just feeling fuzzy, a less desirable side effect). Recently, it’s meant choosing familiar or time-economical recipes. And with this particular recipe, it meant multitasking, leaving things be, and then deciding to feel okay with the result, which was a bit soupier than I wanted it to be.
The good enough student blogger / blogging student. I think I’m down with that. Now, onto pudding.
Though chia has been in vogue ever since the Chia Pet, touting the seeds as a healthy food is a relatively new foodie phenomenon. If you look at the stats, they seem worth the hype: full of omega-3s, protein, fiber, calcium, iron and magnesium, you really can’t go wrong. There also seems to be some spurious weight-loss claims around chia seeds, with various websites suggesting that they expand in your stomach so you seem more full (which is sketchy. Like, Alien sketchy).
But hey, sprinkling chia seeds on your oatmeal or in smoothies seems easy enough, one of those inobtrusive healthy things to do. It was the pudding concept that was most suspicious to me, at least until, in the name of being an adventurous food blogger, I tried a version at Pure Fare. It was extremely (and surprisingly!) delicious, made with coconut milk and topped with thick layer of crunchy coconut flakes, which made for a great texture contrast to the tapioca-like pudding. Looking into pudding recipes, I found it couldn’t be easier — mix, shake, and cool overnight.
And it’s good. It’s really good. If you like tapioca pudding or bubble tea, you’ll recognize its textural pleasures immediately; if you like vanilla pudding or ice cream, I bet you’d love it as well. It’s substantial, sweet, and goes down easy. Now that I’ve made a soy milk version, I think I prefer the richness that (full-fat) coconut milk provides. I’d also fiddle with the proportions, as I noted below. All in good time. Plus, I got to eat pudding for breakfast, which just takes the cake! (Unless you are lucky enough to have cake for breakfast, in which case, fancy you, I suppose you win.)
Chia Seed Pudding (original recipe here)
- 1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp dry chia seeds (in bulk at Whole Foods, in bags at Trader Joe’s, and probably online)
- 2 cups soy, coconut, or almond milk (can sub one cup yogurt, I think) — reading other sites’ recipe ratios (1 cup for 2.5 tbsp, for example), I glugged in about 1/2 cup more, which
was a mistake lead to a somewhat soupy, but still delicious final result.
- 2 tbsp maple syrup or other sweeteners
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (might just try 1 next time)
- pinch salt
Put all ingredients in a bowl and whisk thoroughly. Alternatively, put all ingredients in a large lidded jar that you can conveniently shake.
Stir/shake the pudding off and on for the first 30 min (or a bit less), to avoid all the seeds clumping at the bottom. (A trick I learned from this blog.)
Refridgerate overnight or for at least four hours. The seeds should plump up and absorb the liquid, resulting in a nice thick pudding or crème consistency. (UPDATE 6/9/14: Over the last few days, the pudding has substantially thickened!)
Magic! Top with fruit, nuts, compote or jam, coconut flakes, etc. Whatever your heart desires! It’s ambivalent love at first bite (slurp).