For a tasty way to get your chia fix beyond a smoothie, try a pudding.
Chef Joel Hough of Il Buco Alimentari on Great Jones Street has a chia pudding with almond milk on his new breakfast menu.
"When we started to look at breakfast and what we can offer that's healthy and different -- I drink chia at home, and I drink almond milk at home," Hough says. "We're not the first person doing chia pudding, of course, but we figured let's try it out."
Almonds are a good source of protein and fiber, as well as vitamin E and potassium. Hough soaks Avola, a Sicilian variety he gets at SOS Chefs or Buon Italia, overnight with dates, which provide natural sweetness -- no processed sugar is used.
"They rehydrate and swell, so the cells of the nut expand a bit. I think it improves your yield, and you get more nut flavor out of it," says Hough, who sometimes does a double batch -- making almond milk and then soaking almonds in that -- to intensify the flavor.
Once soaked, the almonds are pureed and then strained with a coarse strainer, like a china cap, to remove the pulp. They're then strained again using a fine strainer, like a superbag, to get a smoother milk.
To assemble, the almond milk is poured over chia seeds, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, set for three to four hours and served with seasonal fruit; the restaurant is currently doing strawberries. You can also serve with agave on the side for added natural sweetness.
The initial process is involved, but you can make a batch of chia pudding to have for a whole week. Four or five ounces is enough for a serving.
"It's a breakfast dish that is filling, but still healthy," Hough says. "It's a nice way to start the day."
Il Buco Alimentari’s chia pudding
1 cup almonds (with skin on)
3 cups filtered water
3 pitted dates
Pinch of sea salt
To begin, soak the almonds in the water with the dates and a small pinch of sea salt in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours (24 is preferred).
After soaking, blend on high for one minute until smooth. Strain through a coarse strainer pushing the milk through with a spatula. Then pass through a fine strainer again pushing all the milk out with a spatula.
Portion the chia into 4-6-oz. cups (like a water glass), filling the chia about halfway up the glass. Cover with the almond milk by one inch and allow to set for 3-4 hours in the refrigerator. Serve with agave and fresh, seasonal fruit.