Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

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In the category of breakfasts that verge on desserts, chia seed pudding is one of the healthiest options, if you can get past its slightly odd quality. When I think of chia, I inevitably think of Chia Pets (ch-ch-ch-chia!). But it turns out that, in addition to sprouting verdant faux-fur, the seeds are a good source of fiber, omega-3, calcium, antioxidants, and protein. Ancient Aztecs and Mayans used to eat them for their "magical" energy-boosting properties. Also, because the seeds absorb about ten times their weight in water, they're a perfect thickening agent for a nutrition-packed pudding.

I tried making my first batch of chia seed pudding this weekend, and I was surprised at how simple it was to prepare: just mix together the ingredients and refrigerate overnight. It's difficult to describe the texture -- it bears a faint resemblance to tapioca, with a little more crunch. After a few bites, I was hooked. I followed this Food Network recipe almost exactly, though I'd recommend halving or eliminating the maple syrup at the end; in-season strawberries are sweet enough! 

Ingredients

1 cup vanilla-flavored unsweetened almond milk
1 cup 2% Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons of maple syrup (+ 2 optional teaspoons for strawberries)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 pint strawberries

Instructions

1) Whisk the almond milk, yogurt, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and salt in a bowl.
2) Whisk in the chia seeds.
3) Let the mixture stand for 30 minutes.
4) Give the mixture a quick stir and refrigerate overnight.
5) Slice the strawberries. (Optional: stir with 2 teaspoons of maple syrup.)
6) Spoon the pudding into containers and top with the strawberries.

The recipe serves 2-4; from my experience, it made a hearty breakfast for two, with no leftovers to spare. There are plenty of chia seed pudding recipes out there, so experiment away.