Guest Blogger & Pumpkin Spice Chia Pudding [Recipe]

Happy Thanksgiving! Like most Canadians, I typically spend this weekend eating lots of foods among family or friends (for me the terms are a pretty much synonymous).  Generally, our plates are full of roasted or steamed root vegetables, peas, sauerkraut (growing up in Nova Scotia it was always Tankcook), mashed potatoes, and turkey (nowadays I swap out the turkey for homemade chickpea patties or a bean-based casserole).  Of course, there always has to be pumpkin, usually a pumpkin pie.  Keeping with the theme of friends, family and pumpkins, I invited my long time friend Heather to contribute one of her fantastic fall recipes. And yes, it includes pumpkin. 

Although Heather's been working in the financial industry for most of her career, she's one of the best home chefs I've had the pleasure of knowing. Her meals are always beautifully plated and full of flavour. Not only is she a great chef, but she's a foodie and is always in the know of food trends. Her trend spotting ability also applies to health products and health foods.  Naturally, we always have lots to talk about. 

As you may remember, I've written about chia in the past, and just to give credit where credit is due, it was actually Heather who first told me about these nutrient dense seeds. Years ago, I remember her talking about chia puddings and to this day, she's still making these puddings and coming up with new and creative recipes. In her post below, Heather shares her recipe for Pumpkin Spice Chia Pudding.  Read on and enjoy!

Guest blogger, Heather

Photo courtesy of Katia Pershin.

Photo courtesy of Katia Pershin.

‘Tis the season: pumpkin spice muffins, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice everything. For some reason in the fall, I have a tendency to rebel against the pumpkin for a few weeks, but inevitably give in by Thanksgiving weekend. 

I’m a bit of a creature of habit. I actually don’t get bored by eating the same things over and over (and over) again. Lunches and dinners are varied, but my morning always begins with a smoothie, and rarely a day goes by where I don’t have hummus and celery sticks or Mary’s crackers for an afternoon snack. 

One of my habitual morning treats is chia pudding. I tend to make it year round, and I change up the flavours depending on the season. Last week, for the first time, I tried a seasonal autumn version by adding some pumpkin and spice. 

Chia seeds are a superfood that supplies a lot of bang for your buck. They are high in fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and protein. They’re also loaded with antioxidants, and very easy to add to your diet! Pumpkins aren’t so shabby either, with one cup providing well over your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, and like other bright orange vegetables, are full of beta-carotene. Their fibre content keeps you feeling full longer, and they’re high in vitamin C. Don’t throw away the seeds, either—those delicious, snackable pepitas are full of tryptophan, an animo acid that produces serotonin, a mood booster. 

Just one warning about the Pumpkin Spice Chia Pudding: it ain’t pretty. 

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PUMPKIN SPICE CHIA PUDDING

Makes approximately 6  to 8 servings.  

Ingredients:

3 cups of pumpkin purée
1/3 cup of chia seeds
2.5 cups of unsweetened almond milk
4 Tbsps pure maple syrup
1.5 Tbsps pumpkin pie spice
1 to 2 tsps cinnamon

There are two different methods of making this, depending on where your pumpkin purée comes from. I’ve tried it with both canned and roasted pumpkin. 

Roasting your own pumpkin version: 

Use one small pie pumpkin, cut it in half and remove the seeds. Rub a little bit of coconut oil on to the inner pieces before placing the halves (skin side up) on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, then bake for 30 minutes at 400°. 

Once the pumpkin is cooked and cooled, the skin should come off easily. Then place the pumpkin flesh in to a blender or food processor with one cup of the almond milk and blend until smooth. 

In a mason jar or BPA-free plastic container, mix the chia seeds with the remaining almond milk and maple syrup. Then add the purée a cup at a time, and mix well with a wooden spoon, and continue with the recipe below. (This version, in my opinion, is much better tasting than the canned pumpkin version. Don’t forget to reserve the pumpkin seeds for roasting!) 

Canned pumpkin version: 

In a container with a tight-fitting lid, like a mason jar or BPA-free plastic container, mix the chia seeds, almond milk, and maple syrup, and shake until combined. Add the purée a cup at a time, and mix well with a wooden spoon.  (It will be very liquidy, but once the chia seeds start to absorb the almond milk, it will become much thicker.) 

Now that you've combined your purée, chia seeds, almond milk, and maple syrup, add the spices and mix well again. 

Put the jar or plastic container in the fridge overnight. By morning you will have a thick, slightly lumpy, superfood pudding, ready to eat for a healthy breakfast or snack. The seeds don’t break down, but rather expand with liquid, so the texture is reminiscent of tapioca. And like I mentioned above, this recipe would never make the cover of a food magazine; she’s no supermodel. Just remember, it’s what on the inside that counts!