Chocolate Chia Pudding and Other Sugar-Free, Flour-Free Desserts

by on January 23, 2012
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Chocolate Chia Pudding with Raspberries

I come from a long line of dessert lovers. When I was growing up, my family ate dessert every night after dinner, and my parents still end each day with a bowl of ice cream (though my mother opts for an artificially sweetened one now). It’s a hard habit to break and one I’m afraid I’ve passed down to my daughter. But our typical dessert isn’t ice cream or even Soy Dream but fruit, plain and simple. Of course, if sugary vegan goodies are around, we’ll jump on them like a pack of starving dogs, which is why I try to keep them out of the house entirely.

Keeping the sugary stuff out of the house has been even more important since I resolved at the beginning of the year to cut out sugar and flour and increase the amount of vegetables I eat. If you’ve been following my KISSS plan, you know that I outlawed not just refined sugar but also dried fruit, such as dates. I’m going to say something that may be heresy to most proponents of unprocessed vegan diets, but I believe that dates, date sugar, and date syrup, especially in the large amounts that some recipes use, are only slightly less unhealthy than white sugar. Sure, dates contain vitamins and minerals and some fiber, but they are still a very concentrated form of sugar. If you’re like me and trying to eliminate your sweet tooth, moving from white sugar to date sugar isn’t going to stop your cravings.

The same may also be said for sugar-free sweeteners like stevia, the super-sweet extract of the stevia plan that many of us use instead of artificial sweeteners. There’s a lot to be said for giving up all sweeteners cold tofurky, but to be honest, I haven’t done that yet. I have been weening myself off the stevia, decreasing it a little all the time to gradually train my taste buds to like food less sweet. I’ve also been “keeping it simple” and eating fruit for dessert, with one exception–this pudding.

Chocolate Chia Pudding with Raspberries

One day I got the craving for a chocolaty dessert and was tempted to make my standard fat-free chocolate pudding. But that recipe uses cornstarch, a processed food that I’m trying to limit, so I decided to go with a more natural option. I’ve had chia pudding before and like it because it gets its thickness through the gel that forms naturally when liquid is added to chia seeds. Chia seeds have lots of health benefits: they’re high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which most of us are deficient in, and contain good amounts of fiber, protein, calcium, and antioxidants. Unlike flax seeds, chia doesn’t need to be ground in order for its nutrients to be used by the human body, and when the seeds are hydrated, they retain a bit of crunch in the center. If you like the texture of tapioca, you’ll probably like chia pudding.

The first time I made this pudding, I wasn’t sure what ratio of chia to liquid to use, so I consulted an expert, Choosing Raw. Check out all the delicious chia puddings that Gena has created there! One more note about chia: You can buy either white or black. They taste the same and have the same nutritional benefits, but the white look a little better in light-colored dishes, so that’s what I normally buy. The last time I was shopping, however, the white chia cost nearly twice as much as the dark, and I couldn’t bring myself to pay more for basically cosmetic reasons. In chocolate pudding, the dark seeds blend in, but if you’re hoping to make other flavors of chia pudding, you may want to splurge on the white seeds.

Here’s the recipe. Be sure to look under it for more sugar-free, flour-free dessert ideas.

Chocolate Chia Pudding with Raspberries

More Sugar-Free, Flour-Free Desserts

Many of the dessert recipes on this blog either are sugar-free or can be made sugar free just by replacing sugar with stevia. The difficulty with using stevia is that all brands have different levels of sweetness. I advise using a pure stevia extract and adding it to taste.

Almost Instant Frozen Fruit YogurtIt’s so easy to make sugar-free frozen desserts at home. Try this frozen yogurt, Ridiculously Easy Pineapple Sorbet, Strawberry-Banana Sorbet, or a sorbet made simply by freezing persimmons.

Apple-Pumpkin DelightThere’s a sugar-free version of Apple-Pumpkin Delight at the end of this post.

Baked Apples Two WaysYou can substitute stevia in either of these microwaved baked apples recipes and also bake them in the oven if you prefer.

AmbrosiaThere’s no sugar or other sweetener in this heavenly ambrosia.

Fruit Gel BabiesSweetened only with fruit juice, you and your kids will love these little fruit gels.

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{ 71 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Marian Hamilton January 23, 2012 at 11:39 am

AWESOME ideas! I’ll add this post to my Recipe Box too – and try some of the dessert recipes ASAP! xxooxx

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2 Archana January 23, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Now that I know the Indian equivalent of the word chia I can try this out. Thanks,

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3 Monica January 23, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Susan, is there any reason you don’t add the chia before it goes in the blender?

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4 Susan Voisin January 23, 2012 at 1:00 pm

That’s to keep the “tapioca-like” texture. I haven’t tried it blended, though it should gel as well or better.

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5 ann January 23, 2012 at 1:08 pm

I need to try this one. I love both chocolate and tapioca. (In fact, that’s what I though it was when I first looked at the photo.) This might fix my craving for both.

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6 ann January 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Update: I used Vanilla soy milk (it’s what I had on hand) and added another tablespoon of chia seeds. (After 2+ hours it still wasn’t thick.) I’ll definitely be making this again.

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7 Martina January 23, 2012 at 1:09 pm

I don’t think i can get chia-seeds that easily, is ist possible to use flaxseeds instead?

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8 Susan Voisin January 23, 2012 at 1:16 pm

To make flax pudding, you have to grind the flaxseeds, but it should work the same. Recipes I’ve seen use about 1/4 cup ground flax per cup of liquid.

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9 Martina January 24, 2012 at 3:22 pm

thank you! I’m eager to try this recipe, so i will settle with the flaxseeds for now, but i’ll keep my eyes open for chia – thanks for introducing a new ingredient to me :)

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10 Laura @ Gluten Free Pantry January 23, 2012 at 1:15 pm

I think I am going to make this dessert for lunch-YUM! I am crazy about chocolate and chia so together in a pudding–oh yes please!

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11 Kathy January 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Oh thank you thank you! I’ve been doing Eat to Live since Jan 1 (trying to lose DD2′s babyweight, and it worked so well for DD1). I’m nursing two kids though and nursing just makes me craaaaaave sweet stuff. I can’t wait to give this a shot!

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12 Janet January 23, 2012 at 1:47 pm

How big is your scoop for stevia. Mine didn’t come with a scoop.

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13 Susan Voisin January 23, 2012 at 4:15 pm

My scoop is 1/32 of a teaspoon, but all brands of stevia vary in strength, so what works for me won’t necessarily work for you. Just start off with very little and add more until the milk is to a sweetness you like.

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14 wendy (healthy girl's kitchen) January 23, 2012 at 1:53 pm

We all must have chia on the brain. I just posted a vegan overnight oats post last night singing the praises of chia seeds. I haven’t made Chia Chocolate Pudding yet, but it’s only a matter of time! I had never even seen or heard about white chia seeds until you mentioned it here, so the color never bothered me about my dark ones. I heard they now sell them at Costco! Whoa, the world is changing!

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15 JayKayTee January 23, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Really at Costco. Shoot, I could sprout my sofa :o)

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16 JayKayTee January 23, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Do you have a more specific measure for the sweetener? Say for agave nectar or basic white sugar?

I wasn’t aware that there are white chia seeds.

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17 Susan Voisin January 23, 2012 at 3:07 pm

It really depends on how sweet you like things. Add as much as you would for, say, a cup of hot cocoa. With either sugar or agave, I would guess at least 2 tablespoons, and for people like me who like things very sweet, maybe even 4.

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18 Karen January 24, 2014 at 8:03 am

Just saw this and know it is an old post. Had to comment though. 2 Tablespoons of sugar per cup is a lot in my opinion. I make hot chocolate with 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder and 1 cup unsweetened soy milk, heat together stirring to break up the cocoa lumps, add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract when hot. Plenty sweet for me.

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19 Susan Voisin January 24, 2014 at 8:15 am

We’re all different, Karen. I like things very sweet and wouldn’t be able to taste the sweetness of one tablespoon of sugar in a cup of cocoa. That’s why I don’t use sugar and stick to stevia, which is calorie-free and super concentrated.

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20 moonwatcher January 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Hi Susan,
This looks great–I look forward to giving it a try, though I’ll probably do it with carob instead since the chocolate tends to do a number on my nervous system.

I really appreciated this post and thought I’d “weigh in” about how sugar, and dates, have effected me. My situation is different, since I’m not actively seeking to lose weight and don’t need to. But the sugar, for anyone dealing with something like fibromyalgia, or chronic pain, is a trigger for inflammation, I’ve found. Especially anything granulated. Last April I decided to stop using granulated sugar altogether, and also agave. Although not granulated, it seemed also to bother me since it’s very sweet. I began substituting date syrup for agave in small amounts in dressings, etc. I still also can use maple syrup in small amounts.

Even though I still do eat some gluten free flour products (like my buckwheat pancakes), I limit how much I have, because as you’ve pointed out many times, flour and sugar together are a dangerous combination. Instead of using an equal amount of date syrup in a recipe, I just bake less, and when I do bake, I try to do things like follow Cathy Fisher’s lead on straightupfood blog for my treats. This may not be in line with what some of you are trying to do, but I just wanted to chime in that less dates and date syrup is good, and lots of it may just put one in the same category of “too much.” Maybe it helps that I’m a cheap skate, too–at nine bucks a bottle or whatever it is, a little at a time is “enough.” I often have a date or two for “dessert.” But over time, I notice I’m not using as many of them as often, and the date syrup lasts a long time. But it did help me transition off the agave and the granulated sugar to use it, though I never used it in high amounts that appear in some recipes. I knew that would just be too sweet for me—and too expensive! lol And stopping the sugar helped the fibromyalgia pain spectrum calm down significantly. Like night and day almost. So that’s another reason to avoid sugar, should it apply.

My only regret about seeing this recipe is that in the last couple of days I ate the very last of my frozen raspberries–they would have been great with this pudding!

Thanks for more great tips, another good recipe, and luscious photos, too–

xo

moonwatcher

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21 Sarah February 1, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Just a sideline suggestion. With “Eat to Live” I had my second major life-changing health breakthrough. My first was when I was healed from my chronic pain through the treatment approach of Dr. John Sarno (“Healing Back Pain”) and Dr. David Schechter (mindbodymedicine.com). You might check these resources out. If you’d like to communicate further, let me know. I wish you all the best!

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22 Prathiba @ Vehemently Vegan January 23, 2012 at 3:28 pm

This is a great idea! I love chia puddings! I actually have started using them as dessert too. It’s healthy but creamy and sweet. So, it definitely fits the bill.

Also, I agree with you about the dates. They are essentially sugar. I do use them from time to time, but definitely something to avoid with the KISSS plan.

Great post!

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23 Sue Flood January 23, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Thanks for this. It looked so good I made it this evening. I didn’t have unsweetened soy milk, but I did have some chocolate almond milk I purchased for my son. It’s delicious with the black raspberries I picked up over the weekend. I’ll make this again.

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24 Rachel January 23, 2012 at 9:00 pm

The couple of times I’ve tried to make chia puddings, they have failed to thicken. Sadly, this has made me go back to the conventional custard with a starch thickener. But after seeing such beautiful results here, I am inspired to try once again! Thank you :)

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25 luminousvegans January 23, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Chia seeds…I’m so glad to see these popping up everywhere. I have a list of chia pudding recipes I want to try and am adding this to it :)

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26 Northwest Herbivore January 23, 2012 at 11:13 pm

I know what’s going to help me through tomorrow afternoon at work! It’ll be just the thing with the bananas I bought tonight. Thanks for posting this.

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27 My Recession Kitchen January 23, 2012 at 11:37 pm

I love tapioca, and this is a much healthier substitute. I’m going to try this!

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28 Rachelle January 24, 2012 at 10:27 am

I made this last night and it was really good. I used chocolate chai rice milk and truvia. Thanks!

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29 Titti January 24, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Hi Susan! What a beautiful blog!! I’m italian and vegan!

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30 Art Moskowitz January 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Stevia is not the same as sugar free substitutes as it doesn’t have an impact on your glucose level.

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31 Gena January 24, 2012 at 8:30 pm

I am so delighted with the looks of this pudding!!! I am a veritable chia fanatic, and this is a tasty looking specimen :)

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32 artha January 24, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Reading about the health trends that have come and gone over the past 30 years has really made me wonder if even the mass exodus from sugar will soon become a thing of the past with the emphasis somewhere else. I say this because every trend seems to make sense at some point, and there is more and more research coming out lately saying that we need sugar to process other nutrients and for our bodies to run efficiently. Breast milk for example, a good example of a complete food, is quite full of sugar. It seems the problem always comes around to abuse of a good thing. I’ve decided to stick with sugar. :) I’ll choose it wisely (what is provided in nature all around us, fruits – especially dates and date syrup :) ) and I’ll use it as part of my diet, not all of it. It’s worked nicely for me for years!

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33 Sarah, Simply Cooked January 25, 2012 at 6:46 am

I wholeheartedly agree about giving up sugar. The issue is with the amount of all types of sugar we eat. I gave up sugar completely for several months and now I eat one or two pieces of low-sugar fruit a day, and that’s it. (And I still eat cake on my birthday and anniversary.) I have tried hard to change my taste for sweet things and so I’ve avoided artificial sweeteners as well. I think, what’s the point of learning to love less sweet things if I tease myself with artificial sweeteners? It’s been hard – especially at first – but I can see that I have made progress.

I finally found chia seeds today at a speciality store here in Hong Kong so I am excited to try them out! Thanks for the inspiration. And good luck with your admirable goal of quitting sugar.

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34 Jasmine January 25, 2012 at 3:35 pm

I love your blog, you inspired me to start my own blog about vegan life. I would really appreciate it if you could take a look.
Thanks,
Jasmine

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35 Elizabeth January 26, 2012 at 2:23 am

EASY! I will try it, but with carob powder!

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36 veganisme January 27, 2012 at 1:45 pm

I made this tonight with my new Vitamix (yay–replacing one I had to get rid of in a move), and it turned out great. It was pretty much gelled while still in the blender, though I was able to pour it out nicely. I used date sugar…something I had never had before. Wow, the date sugar is delicious and it is totally not something you would want to get if you had issues with sugar…it is like regular sugar only tastier… So…definitely something to use infrequently. This recipe, on the other hand, goes on the frequent list. Thanks!

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37 Laina January 27, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Hi Susan,
I’m so behind on posting comments. ;-( This is so delicious. I made it with agave because I’m not fond of the taste of stevia. I used a TB of agave and it’s perfect. Thanks for another delicious recipe! :-)

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38 Natalie@fitjamericangirl January 27, 2012 at 7:58 pm

I still haven’t tried chia seeds. This looks like the right way to give them a try.

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39 steve January 29, 2012 at 9:43 am

I am gonna try this and I hope this doesn`t taste anything like strawberry faluda. I mean it is a great drink but its not my taste. will post results.

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40 Jen in Co January 29, 2012 at 5:34 pm

I have made this a couple times now and it is the perfect antidote to a chocoholic’s craving. Adding a dash of cinnamon is divine.

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41 Jacqui January 30, 2012 at 8:45 am

I am enjoying this as part of my breakfast right now.. yum! I have had a bag of chia seeds for a couple weeks now, and wasn’t sure what to do with all of them.. now I know. I used 3 drops of stevia extract for mine.

I am new to your site, and just starting to play with a vegan diet. I have already pinned a lot of recipes to try!

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42 Heather @ Better With Veggies January 30, 2012 at 10:14 am

I love chocolate and chia together, what a great way to have a treat but still have all the superfood goodness of chia to add a little balance.

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43 Mansi January 30, 2012 at 3:49 pm

That looks wonderful. we make Tapioca pudding in Indian cuisine, so I can relate to its texture. Thanks for the wonderful advice about staying away from all forms of sugar:)

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44 Linda January 30, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Great sub for chocolate pudding. Added strawberries and when you consider the health benefits of chia seeds, this is a winner!

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45 Becky January 31, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Tried it and it was great! Even my kids who don’t like tapioca liked it. My husband wouldn’t even give it a try. Could be that my description (words like “slimy” and “gloppy”) was the turn-off. I have to confess I described it that way so he wouldn’t want any since I’d already sacrificed some bites to the kids!

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46 Kathleen @ KatsHealthCorner January 31, 2012 at 6:11 pm

This is SO cool! What an amazing recipe! :D

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47 Rachel February 3, 2012 at 3:01 am

awesome recipe and ZYVIA has added it more awesomeness with its natural sweetness and healthiness.

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48 lea February 5, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Susan,

The chia pudding looks great! I was inspired by another of your recipes today : the Balsamic Fudge Cookies- and made it into Chocolate Balsamic Hummus! I’m really feeling great without the sugar and flour.

Lea

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49 laurie February 6, 2012 at 1:28 am

thank you for the no flour, no sugar recipe!! I am addicted to sugar and flour and joined a support group that addresses this (food addicts anonymous). So this recipe is a perfect alternative!!

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50 Susan February 12, 2012 at 3:23 pm

This is a delicious recipe – my friends and family loved it. Along the way I hit two bumps:
Firstly, I *did* put the chia seeds into the blender along with soy-milk, etc. Unfortunately, some seeds clumped together on the bottom, inside the blender. They were mega-hard to get out! I highly recommend waiting to add the chia seeds.
Secondly, for whatever reason (maybe because I doubled the recipe?), though the mixture had thickened quite a bit by the end of an hour, it wasn’t close to being jelled enough to be called a “pudding.” Since I’d promised ‘pudding’ to guests and needed to have everything done faster, I went ahead and treated the mixture like a more traditional pudding – heating and stirring it in a saucepan, cooling it, adding the fruit and then chilling it. It still took a couple of hours until it fully chilled after jelling. But at least I had it that night! I noticed, looking at other on-line raw chia recipes, that overnight jelling in a refrigerator is normal. The result was delicious, so I will definitely chill it overnight next time.

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51 Anna February 15, 2012 at 10:02 am

So so SO happy to see this. I really love chia puddings, and am just about to start Lent (I’m giving up flour and sugar) so it’s great to see all the recipes that follow this post.

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52 Jessica February 17, 2012 at 10:10 pm

You have finally convinced me to order chia seeds! I placed the order immediately after reading your post. I can’t wait to try this pudding, it looks so amazing, light and chocolatey.

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53 Julie February 20, 2012 at 11:00 pm

I have made this twice now. My husband loves it. I made it once according to your recipe. The second time, I used half soy milk, half silken tofu. We found that the tofu blend gave thicker results. Thanks for the recipe!!

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54 megan February 21, 2012 at 3:14 pm

i love this website because im doing a project where you have to pick a topic and make a delicious meal while keeping that topic in mind…. example health, enviroment or what i am doing vegan, thank you for making this wonderful site to help me choose.
~M

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55 Caterina March 18, 2012 at 9:39 am

I am trying to avoid sugar as well, and this recipe is exactly what I was looking for! I am totally trying it tonight!
By the way, do you know if it would be possible to substitute sugar, agave syrup or maple syrup with all-fruit jams, mashed bananas, pureed prunes or applesauce in baked goods? I have never tried to bake anything, but I need to learn because I can’t find store-bought baked goods made without white flour, margarine and refined sugar… Thank you!

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56 michele April 4, 2012 at 8:11 pm

I would be interested in a substitute for sugar and the applesauce sound good.

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57 Ninufar April 4, 2012 at 10:43 pm

I haven’t tried this pudding specifically, bc my tummy doesn’t always deal with chia seeds very well, but as far as sugar subs in baking:

mashed bananas and unsweetened applesauce both work rather well, so long as you’re not expecting identical flavor & texture to the original recipe. I sometimes find it helps to take the baking temp down slightly and bake a little longer. (I often bake “muffins” in a glass pan w/a lid, bc leaving out most or all of the fat can also make the top dry.)

The good news is that the same subs (banana, apples, prunes) all give a nice rich texture w/o fat while also lending a sweet taste. Prunes go best (imnsho) with carob or chocolate recipes; applesauce is least sweet but least noticeable.

Certain cake-like textures seem impossible w/o refined sugars, but I’m playing around with some of the black-bean “brownie” recipes and finding some leads there (once again subbing, usu soaked prune mash for agave syrup).

I also find that if I substitute a naturally sweet-tasting flour (e.g. chestnut fl, mesquite powder, or buckwheat fl) for 1/4 C of whatever original flour is called for, it adds interest. (The first two are verrry spendy by the pound, but I like ‘em.)

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58 Gwen April 16, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Delicious! Kind of like a chocolate tapioca pudding. A keeper!

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59 Benjamin August 13, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Hello! I have been reading through some of your recipes and thought they sound amazing… However, just on a cautionary note, you would do well to limit the use of the words “sugar-free” when the item contains fruit. While you have not added any sugar, it is not technically sugar-free unless it has absolutely no form of sugar in it. I would not personally take issue with it, but would prefer that you don’t get in trouble with people who would =).

Sincerely,
Another health enthusiast with a sweet tooth ;)

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60 Susan Voisin August 13, 2012 at 8:19 pm

I appreciate the suggestion, but except perhaps for nuts, all vegan foods contain some sugars, so no vegan recipes could ever be labeled sugar free!

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61 Tracy August 13, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Hi, this looks awesome! maybe this will be obvious once I buy the stevia but two scoops equals….?
Thanks!
Tracy

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62 Chris August 15, 2012 at 12:36 am

Hi -

First, thank you for all the recipies! LOVE!!

Did I do something wrong? The pudding thickened and tasted delicious, but the chia seeds were still “crunchy.” I guess I half expected them to be all absorbed into the liquid to make a smooth and creamy yet thick texture, but I don’t really know how they could be. Maybe if you blend it again after letting it set for awhile?

Thanks again!

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63 Radhika Sarohia August 17, 2012 at 6:00 am

I keep seeing these seeds at my local market, but I actually had no idea what they were (I are clueless:p)
Next time I shop I will buy some and try making this pudding, thanks for the recipe :)

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64 Kate Hutchison September 5, 2012 at 6:42 am

This was the best vegan dessert I have ever had! It was the first time cooking with chia seeds and it was such a great combinations with the raspberries stirred through. I used unsweetened almond milk and it worked a treat. Thankyou so much for introducing me to such a great ingredient – i will definately be using it more often in my cooking.
:)

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65 debalou3 June 15, 2013 at 8:07 am

I had never had chia seeds until this week when a co-worker was doing a demo…. she did it with sweetened almond milk and had also added raisins….it was like tapioca pudding which I love and have been missing since I started the Eat to Live program. Can’t wait to try this, in fact as soon as I hit submit I am heading to the kitchen to make it.

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66 Debbie July 12, 2013 at 8:26 pm

This was wonderful and hit the sweet tooth spot…I didn’t have any fruit in the house to add so I added a little cinnamon and cayenne…so good!!

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67 bonnie September 5, 2013 at 10:21 am

Yet another impressive recipe, Susan! This is really easy and delicious. It’s going to be in heavy rotation in my home.

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68 Val January 24, 2014 at 8:13 am

Hi Susan – We are not fans of fruit with chocolate (except for bananas). Do you have any suggestions for making this work without fruit? Would ground nuts work? Thank you.

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69 Susan Voisin January 24, 2014 at 8:20 am

Could you use bananas? The fruit is there for flavor, which nuts could give, but without the “bulk” of the fruit, I’m afraid this dessert wouldn’t be as satisfying.

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70 Miri January 26, 2014 at 8:01 pm

If i ground the chia seeds will it be smooth and creamy ? or should I leave them whole? Thanks

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71 Vegan Grammie Annie June 9, 2014 at 9:18 pm

Hi Susan,
I made your Chocolate Chia Pudding for supper tonite and it was easy to make and delicious. I served it with fresh raspberries and my husband who misses all the desserts I used to make said that it is definitely worth making again. So, thank you.

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