I’m not sure it would have been his personal request but this is how we decided to start Father’s Day in our home.
A cool and refreshing lemon pudding that’s tasty enough to enjoy for dessert – any time of day! My husband is a big fan of citrus puddings, jams, jellies, tarts and desserts generally, so it seemed fitting to celebrate his day with this little spin on traditional pudding.
[Sidebar: when I mentioned to my husband that my friend Sandra (oooh that Sandra…) whipped up a batch of homemade fudge ice cream for her husband on father’s day, my hubby’s response was that he still liked my chia pudding best — smart man].
Our eldest son, a distance runner, introduced me to Chia Fresca about five years ago when he was 11-years-old. He had just read the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall which explores the world’s greatest distance runners and their secrets to success.
There is a passage in Born to Run dedicated to the wonderful power of iskiate– otherwise known as chia seed. The author speaks at great length about the nutritional value of chia and its long history as a revered, sacred food in Mexico.
“Chia was once so treasured, the Aztecs used to deliver it to their king in homage. Aztec runners used to chomp chia seeds as they went into battle and the Hopis [tribe] fueled themselves on chia during their epic runs from Arizona to the Pacific Ocean.”
After reading this passage, my son promptly grilled me about chia seed and then politely requested (or something like that) that we procure some on the double. And so a chia tradition was born in our home.
[Sidebar 2: Unlike the other 3 members in this family, I am not a natural runner (no matter how much chia I might consume). I bump and grind and fight for every inch. I also come with a long and well-practiced list of excuses should anyone care to listen to them. But the person who quietly listened and still managed to motivate me to get out there and prepare for my first 10K almost twenty years ago now, was my husband. On the days when I really (really) didn’t want to go out and join the jolly fellow on his regular runs, he would simply say “we’ll just go for ten minutes. If you’re done after ten minutes, we’ll come back, no questions asked.” Of course, every runner knows that getting out the door is the toughest part. Once you’re out there, it’s never ten minutes. Like I said, smart man].
This is the same patience, gentle persistence and wisdom he has brought to raising our sons. He’s our guy and he’s pretty awesome.
- 1 cup milk variety of choice
- ½ cup unsweetened plain Greek yogurt (I typically use 2% fat)
- 4 generous Tbsp chia seed
- juice of one lemon
- zest of one lemon + more for garnish
- 4 Tbsp honey or pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp pure lemon extract, optional
- raspberries and basil or mint for topping, as desired
- In a generous sized mixing bowl, combine: milk, yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey or maple syrup and lemon extract if using. Add chia seed and whisk ingredients well before carefully transferring the pudding into serving dishes of choice.
- The recipe renders approximately 2 cups/500 mL of pudding so you can divide into two, 1 cup/250 mL portions or four half cup/125 mL portions, as you wish.
- Cover the puddings with wrap and carefully place in fridge for at least 15 minutes before enjoying (See Notes on pudding texture and appearance below).
- Just before serving top the puddings with additional lemon zest (if desired), berries and a sprig or two of basil or mint.
Chia Seed: Chia seeds offer plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, antioxidants and an impressive array of minerals. Unlike flaxseed, chia does not have to be ground to be bioavailable (ie: to be absorbed and usable by the body). Chia is also highly 'hydrophilic' meaning that its seeds absorb water/moisture beautifully to create a mucilaginous gel that's ideal in desserts, puddings and jams. Flaxseed has a similar nutrition profile to chia (with slightly less fibre, omega-3s and minerals per serving) but flaxseed has the added benefit of containing lignans - plant compounds believed to be protective of breast health - which chia does not. Chia is more expensive than flaxseed but due to the highly concentrated nature of its nutrients on a gram per gram basis, a small amount of chia goes a long way. You can find chia seed at any health food store and many larger grocery stores.
Pure Lemon Extract: Pure lemon extract is a great way to intensify lemon flavor in desserts - it is simply lemon concentrate that does not contain any added sugars. I find the juice and zest from the lemon combined with the honey/maple syrup just the right combination for my taste but, if you want a slightly more pronounced lemon flavor, this is a great option.
Pudding Texture & Appearance: The longer you allow the chia to sit in the pudding mixture, the more moisture it will absorb, the larger and more visible the chia seed granules and the more set/thick the pudding will become. A 15-30 minute sit should give you some nice gelling but more of a milky texture (a bit reminiscent of tapioca pudding). A two hour or more sit (you can leave it over night to enjoy the next morning/day) will deliver a thicker texture while bringing more visibly large chia seed to the surface, so you can decide on the texture and appearance you prefer.
Make-Ahead Option: You can make the chia pudding the evening before, store it covered in the fridge and enjoy it the next day.
Cheers to all the great Dads, role models and mentors in our lives, past and present. You make a huge difference.