Lately, I've been thinking about dairy.
It's one of my favorite categories of food, for one. I've only ever met one single kind of cheese that didn't do it for me (the raunchiest of bleus), and if a recipe contains the words au and gratin, particularly in that order, I always always do a double take, reading through it, savoring the thoughts of heavy cream laced with Gruyere. I've even gone so far to joke that I'm a 'cheese whore'... hey baby, I'll do anything for a wheel (of course, I'm kidding... or am I?)
But, now that my days are chock full of nutrition speak, and I'm rediscovering what a truly healthier life entails, the notion of a dairy-soaked existence isn't quite as glamorous (insert image of cheese whore) as it once seemed to be.
In case you're out of the 'food system loop', so to speak, there's a hot debate about the importance of dairy to maintain a healthy diet. The USDA claims that we should be drinking milk and eating ice cream for strong teeth and bones. But the USDA caters heavily to the dairy industry, so what fool would trust those 'facts'?
The reality is that many, many peoples on this Earth have lived long, healthy lives with little or no dairy in their diets at all. And then there's the relatively large percentage of folks who can't digest dairy products (my Sweets, for one) or have allergies or sensitivities to them. Will they be toothless with hip fractures by the time they're 35 if they don't chug 2% on a daily basis?
What about questions of production? Hormones, antibiotics and other unseemly additions to the dairy stream that may (probably) or may not (once again, according to the industry that wants to make $$) have a negative impact on human health.
In my opinion, the negatives of dairy outweigh the positives, although I assure you that flavor and enjoyment are heavily weighted on the plus side. So in honor of this newly validated opinion, I'm experimenting with a dairy-free life.
It's not an easy task, and I haven't been able to turn down every single opportunity to sample the creamy, French brie or decadent, butter toffee in the break room at work. First it's happening at home. I'm trying out new recipes that sub things for milk, and I even made my own cashew cream (recipe to come!).
As part of my new lifestyle, today I want to share this dairy-free faux pudding. I won't lie and say I put my creative pants on for this one... it's adapted from a recipe on the Trader Joe's bag of chia seeds. It turned out to be a rich, nicely textured dessert (thanks, Joe) with the double bonus of both coconut and chia (good fat + lots o' fiber!).
Next time I'll portion it into small tumblers or wine glasses... it doesn't take much to fill you up! Enjoy!
Coconut Chia Pudding
1- 15oz. can coconut milk or cream
1/4 C. chia seeds
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (to taste)
2 T. honey (or to taste)
- Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Pour into small drinking glasses or bowls and cover with plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.