Meet our newest culinary friend: chia seeds! For a family following a special autism diet, we cannot help but love these crunchy seeds, that are as versatile as they are jam-packed with nutrients.
We use them as an egg replacement in our oh-so wholesome sweet potato pizza crust. Lately, chia seeds have also been working hard for us as the main ingredient in this super-easy, absolutely delicious chocolate pudding.
Here’s what makes our pudding “autism friendly”:
- It includes all organic ingredients.
- We choose full-fat coconut milk (64% fat!) to make the pudding extra creamy, rich, and filled with… calories. Yes, that’s right. It can be hard to get calories into a person on a strict autism diet. We certainly have that challenge with our slimly-built daughter. This pudding is a perfect place to splurge on calories. If you want a lower calorie pudding, you can replace the coconut milk with an organic hemp beverage, or with another dairy-free beverage.
- Agave syrup is used as a sweetener in this pudding, instead of honey and maple syrup. Honey is extremely high in phenols/salicylates, which some individuals with autism have problems with. As far as maple syrup goes, we’ve observed that our daughter gets hyperactive when she has it, so we avoid it. For more on sweetening options, read Holistic Nutritionist Véronique Vanderlinden’s comments below.
Enjoy the pudding as is, with the small, crunchy chia seeds going “click”, “click” as you devour it as a breakfast treat, snack or dessert. Or use a food processor to achieve a smooth consistency, if that’s your preference. You might want to add a little more sweetener and coconut milk to blend the ingredients in the processor.
Why don’t you give it a try?
Here are some quick nutritional facts about chia seeds and sweetening alternatives from Holistic Nutritionist Véronique Vanderlinden:
– Complete protein: contain all nine essential amino acids, making them one of the few non-meat, non-dairy full protein sources.
– Rich in omega 3 fatty acids (polyunsaturated fats), excellent for brain development (DHA) and as an anti inflammatory agent (EPA). They’re good for mood balance since fat will help stabilize your blood sugar. Healthy fat sources, like chia seeds, slow the rate at which you absorb sugar, helping your body stabilize your blood sugar (less mood disturbances).
– High fibre content (dietary fibre): great to balance insulin levels (stabilizing blood sugar) and to promote regular (AND HEALTHY) bowel movements.
– Coconut sugar (organic): this sugar has a lower glycemic index score because of its fibre content. This fibre will, again, slow the rate at which the glucose is absorbed, keeping both your blood sugar and your mood stabilized (less chances of feeling “hangry”).
– Agave Nectar: this sweetener also has a very low glycemic index score. In comparison to regular cane sugar you would only use 1/3 cup of agave for every cup of white sugar. This “syrup” has been used for wound healing thanks to its antibacterial properties. Lastly, it contains inulin (dietary fibre) which is great for blood sugar balance, and to increase the absorption of certain nutrients (calcium and magnesium, to name a couple).