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.
It’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.
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.
laurieFebruary 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!!
SusanFebruary 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.
AnnaFebruary 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.
JessicaFebruary 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.
JulieFebruary 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!!
meganFebruary 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.
CaterinaMarch 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!
micheleApril 4, 2012 at 8:11 pm
I would be interested in a substitute for sugar and the applesauce sound good.
NinufarApril 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.)
GwenApril 16, 2012 at 5:15 pm
Delicious! Kind of like a chocolate tapioca pudding. A keeper!
BenjaminAugust 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 =).
Another health enthusiast with a sweet tooth 😉
Susan VoisinAugust 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!
TracyAugust 13, 2012 at 8:56 pm
Hi, this looks awesome! maybe this will be obvious once I buy the stevia but two scoops equals….?
ChrisAugust 15, 2012 at 12:36 am
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?
Radhika SarohiaAugust 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 🙂
Kate HutchisonSeptember 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.
debalou3June 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.
DebbieJuly 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!!
bonnieSeptember 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.
ValJanuary 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.
Susan VoisinJanuary 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.
MiriJanuary 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
Vegan Grammie AnnieJune 9, 2014 at 9:18 pm
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.
ArienOctober 29, 2017 at 6:56 pm
Hi, I tried this using Equal but the pudding didn’t thicken. It was still tasty (Well, as iced cocoa with chia seeds) but the seeds were more or less the same size as before – and I left it in overnight. Any idea what I did wrong?
Susan VoisinOctober 29, 2017 at 7:06 pm
I’ve never had that happen! If you’re willing to try again, try warming the milk up just a little bit.
Ruth KnoxJuly 1, 2019 at 12:47 pm
Creamy chocolate decadence! I cannot believe how good this is.