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.
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
- 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk I used soymilk but any plant milk will do
- 1/2 teaspoon double-strength vanilla extract or 1 tsp. regular strength
- 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
- sweetener of choice to taste (I used 2 scoops of KAL pure stevia powder)
- 3 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1/2 to 1 cup raspberries cherries, or other fruit, plus additional for garnish
- Place the milk, vanilla, and cocoa into the blender and add sweetener to taste (about 2 servings worth). Blend until cocoa is completely incorporated.
- Pour milk mixture into a bowl and add the chia seeds. Stir well, making sure that all the seeds are moistened. Leave out on the counter and stir periodically (about every 15 minutes or so), breaking up any clusters that form. Allow it to stand until the pudding has thickened and all liquid has been absorbed, at least an hour.
- Refrigerate. Just before serving, stir in fruit. Serve topped with additional fruit.
Nutritional info is approximate.
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.
There’s a sugar-free version of Apple-Pumpkin Delight at the end of this post.
You can substitute stevia in either of these microwaved baked apples recipes and also bake them in the oven if you prefer.
There’s no sugar or other sweetener in this heavenly ambrosia.
Sweetened only with fruit juice, you and your kids will love these little fruit gels.