I am so pleased to introduce you someone who has inspired me over the last couple of years. She continues to wow me with her vast knowledge and introduces me to knew amazing superfoods and recipes to go along with them. Shelley Alexander is a holistic chef, certified healing foods specialist, author of Deliciously Holistic, blogger, and owner of the holistic health company, A Harmony Healing in California. Shelley loves to eat and cook with amazing superfoods, and seasonal, locally grown, organic foods from the local farmers’ markets. Shelley is a member of Slow Foods USA, Village Green Network, and Women of the Green Generation. Connect with Shelley online on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.
When my lovely friend France asked me to share a fall recipe on her blog while she and Joshua go on vacation, I was truly honored and happy to do so! I knew I had to come up with something really yummy and healthy to share with all of you! As a holistic chef, I adore making recipes that provide fantastic health benefits and delicious flavor in one package. My Pumpkin Chia Pudding with Maple Glazed Walnut Coconut Crunch meets that criteria, and it’s one of those tasty desserts you will want to make again and again.
If you’re like me, you can’t resist a delicious dessert to finish your meal with. Sometimes, I even eat dessert first, especially if it involves dark chocolate! Pumpkin is truly one of my favorite squashes and I can’t get enough of it when it comes in season. Roasting pumpkin brings out a rich, caramelized flavor and creamy texture that just begs to be used in this chia pudding.
I make chia puddings all the time and two of my favorite recipes are lemon blueberry chia seed pudding and banana coconut chia pudding. Chia seeds are great for using in puddings because they are hydrophilic and have the ability to absorb up to 9-10 times their weight in liquid which will help thicken your puddings without cooking or using other thickening agents like cornstarch. This ability also makes chia seeds extremely hydrating and filling at the same time. I like to grind my chia seeds before using them in this recipe so that the texture is smooth and creamy. If you leave the seeds whole, you will have a texture similar to tapioca.
If you have never tried chia seeds before, you’re in for a treat! Chia seeds are so versatile because they have a neutral flavor that is easy to use in all sorts of recipes like puddings, smoothies, jams, energy bars, and cookies. In this recipe they blend seamlessly with the roasted pumpkin, sweet orange juice, maple syrup, and spices to create a luscious dessert that you can also enjoy for a snack too! Since I like to have a contrast in textures, I added an addicting walnut and coconut crunch that is glazed with cinnamon, vanilla, and maple syrup. You can enjoy the pudding with or without the crunch but I personally like it with the crunch!
Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are an amazing superfood! In the Mayan language chia stands for strength. Chia seeds are rich in protein, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, and fiber which are all important for helping detoxify the body and keep it strong. Chia seeds also help maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, along with protecting the body from free radicals and degenerative diseases. These tiny seeds are truly a healthy addition to your diet.
Now that you know why you should be eating chia seeds, let me show you how to enjoy them.
Pumpkin Chia Pudding with Maple Glazed Walnut Coconut Crunch
Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free
Makes 4 cups
- 4 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1 cup organic coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 7 tablespoons organic maple syrup-grade B
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon unrefined sea salt (I used Himalayan sea salt)
- 2 cups homemade pumpkin puree* or 15-ounce can organic unsweetened pumpkin puree
Instructions for Pumpkin Chia Pudding
1. Place chia seeds in a blender or spice grinder and grind into a powder.
2. In a blender add coconut milk, orange juice, maple syrup, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, sea salt, ground chia seeds, and pumpkin puree. Blend until smooth and creamy.
3. Pour pumpkin chia pudding in an airtight container with a lid, cover and refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight. Serve pudding topped with the maple glazed walnut coconut crunch.
For Maple Glazed Coconut Crunch
- ¼ cup organic maple syrup-grade B
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup raw walnut halves
- ½ cup unsweetened large coconut flakes
1. Preheat oven to 325˚ F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Place maple syrup, cinnamon, and vanilla in a small bowl and whisk with a fork to combine. Add walnuts to the bowl and stir to coat them completely with the syrup. Scoop walnuts out of bowl and spread out on the baking pan.
3. Add coconut flakes to the remaining maple syrup mixture and stir to coat the coconut completely with the syrup. Spoon coconut onto the baking pan next to the walnuts and spread out on the baking pan.
4. Place the coated walnuts and coconut in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring several times while baking until the walnuts and coconut are lightly brown. Remove from the oven and let cool. Walnuts and coconut will become crunchy and dry as they cool. Serve on top of pumpkin chia pudding.
*To roast a pumpkin and make pumpkin purée
For this recipe you can use fresh pumpkin that is roasted or substitute canned organic pumpkin purée. To roast the fresh pumpkin, choose a small pumpkin not larger than 3 to 4 pounds in size. Wash outside and remove the stem. Split the pumpkin in half lengthwise. Remove all of the seeds and stringy parts. Lightly drizzle the flesh with melted coconut oil or clarified butter and place cut side down on a greased or non-stick baking sheet. Roast at 375° F for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the pumpkin. The pumpkin is done cooking when the skin and flesh of the pumpkin is tender when pierced with a fork. Remove flesh from the pumpkin skin, puree flesh in a blender or food processor, and use in this recipe. If your pumpkin purée is watery, drain in a fine mesh strainer for about 30 minutes before using in this recipe.