With the end of the school year rapidly approaching, life has been hectic to say the least. I’m a special education teacher the end of the school calendar is always crammed full of time-consuming progress reports, standardized testing and other wrap-up activities.
Needless to say, “stress” is a word that describes my current M.O. (modus operandi). Being the foodie I am, food is typically what I turn to in times of stress. Comfort foods, specifically...Which I guess is why I'm here in the first place.
Stress, especially recently, has given me a bit of a sweet tooth. I try to stay away from refined sugars, so you can imagine my predicament when all I wanted last week was banana pudding! I'm talking the creamy, home style stuff chocked with vanilla wafers and whipped cream. Empty calories galore. So, on my way home from work, I ducked into a little bakery and bought myself a generous helping.
Yes, it satisfied my sweet tooth—for the moment anyway—but I can’t say it was worth it from a blood sugar management perspective. I knew nothing about that delicious pudding was good for me! And the end result? A nice, high blood glucose reading of 280 to slap me back into reality. And, as if the empty calories weren’t bad enough, I miscalculated the carbs, too!
That night, I took to the kitchen in an attempt to find a much healthier pudding recipe! The inspiration for this recipe came from one I attempted to make several years ago, the flavor was great but the final product didn’t resemble anything remotely related to pudding. It was way too soupy. This recipe contains two mashed, ripe bananas to help with the consistency. The bananas have a wonderful natural sweetness, there’s no need to add a ton of honey.
Each serving of this pudding contains a half of a banana; this boasts high levels of potassium as well as vitamin B-6. The potassium in bananas can help alleviate muscle cramping after workouts, and that B-6? It not only lowers the risk of heart disease but is also very important in the production of two essential neurotransmitters—seratonin and dopamine—both of which are necessary for communication within your nervous system.
The basis of this pudding, chia seeds, take on a very different texture when they've been soaking in a liquid overnight. Chia seeds go from little seeds that resemble poppy seeds, to little gelatinous pods that are likely to remind you of tapioca. One single ounce serving of chia seeds boasts 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, 30% of your recommended daily value of manganese and magnesium, AND 27% of your recommended daily value of phosphorous! That's a ton of nutrients in one little punch! Chia seeds are also extremely high in omega-3 fatty acids, these are the good fats that are known to lower your risk of heart disease and improve cholesterol levels.
Cacao Not Cocoa
The cacao powder used for the chocolate flavor in this recipe is considered a superfood. Cacao powder, not to be confused with cocoa powder, is the rawest and purest form of chocolate. Cocoa is heavily processed and strips away nearly all of the beneficial antioxidants that cacao powder contains. Cacao contains almost 4 times the antioxidants as processed chocolate. Look for cacao in powder form at your local healthfood stores, Whole Foods, or on Amazon. I love to add it to smoothies, and it gives a fabulous flavor to this pudding, as well.
For the recipe, click here.
For illustrated directions, see below:
Begin by mashing your bananas until they have reached a soupy consistency. This will help to sweeten the pudding and thicken the consistency of the pudding.
To this mixture, add your almond milk, cacao powder, honey, vanilla extract, and salt. Using a whisk, mix your ingredients until the cacao powder has incorporated into the liquids. This mixture should still have a very soupy consistency.
Add your chia seeds to the mixture, and using a spatula fold it in until well incorporated. Your end result should look like a very soupy brownie batter.
Separate the pudding into 3/4 cup servings, this should make 4. I store mine in little mason jars but it can also be stored in air tight tupperware. The pudding will need to be refrigerated at least overnight, but I think the consistency is best on the 2nd day. This can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Top with 1/4 cup of sliced strawberries before serving.