A couple of weeks ago, I won a “Freaky Fruits” giveaway from Melissa’s Produce on Google+. The bounty they sent was so gorgeous that I had to create a sweet, healthy recipe to accompany the vibrant fruit. And thus, this breakfast-worthy, dairy-free vanilla chia pudding recipe was born.
I was actually a bit leery of using chia seeds in a recipe like this one, but this blended vanilla chia pudding is surprisingly delicious. Though the texture looked slightly odd to me, it is smooth and perfect to taste. To keep the appearance more on the vanilla side, I used white chia seeds. The more common black chia seeds will provide the same flavor, but the final result may look a little less attractive.
Of course, you can use whatever fruit you desire – fresh berries and melon in summer, citrus in cooler months. But why not throw an exotic fruit into the mix to really take this dairy-free vanilla chia pudding delight up a notch? All but one of the fruits pictured was new to me, so I thought it would be helpful for other curious minds if I shared my notes on each of these exotic Freaky Fruits (starting from the top down in my vanilla chia pudding parfait pictures):
Buddha’s Hand – Looking somewhat like a yellow octopus, this monstrous fruit is actually citrus. But unlike lemons or limes, it is all zest and pith. You can literally grate the whole thing, and freeze excess for later use. The flavor reminded me quite a bit of kumquats – much less tangy then lemon, but still notably pungent. I blended some Buddha’s Hand zest into the vanilla chia pudding for a subtle boost, and sprinkled some on top – more for a finishing touch than anything else.
Tropical Dragon Fruit – The beautiful pink (or white) flesh tastes every bit as good as it looks and could be my new favorite fruit. The tiny little seeds within are edible, just adding a wee bit of crunch, and the flesh pops out of the shell like a dream. Honestly, if you can locate it, this Freaky Fruit takes my dairy-free vanilla chia pudding recipe to the next level.
Papaya – This was the one that I had tried before. On its own, I find papaya to have a little bit of a “skunky” taste, for lack of a better word. But in fruit salad, it melds rather nicely and looses its odd edge (I believe I sampled the Caribbean Red papaya in this recipe). Not to mention, the orange flesh is radiant. Because of its soft texture, papaya (or frozen papaya chunks) also make a good substitute for bananas in smoothies.
Cherimoya – The flesh of this green-skinned fruit is actually milky white in color and has both a taste and texture that I would liken to a cross between a pear and a pineapple. Pleasant, but I did find the large seeds to be quite the nuisance and difficult to work around.
Cactus Pear – Unlike ordinary pears, the flesh of this fruit is a bright, warm red hue and is dotted with sizable, yet edible crunchy seeds. I found the seeds slightly off-putting, but overall enjoyed the gently sweet flavor and how easily the flesh peeled away from the skin.
Special Diet Notes & Options: Vanilla Chia Pudding
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, optionally vegan / plant-based, vegetarian, optionally paleo, and generally top food allergy-friendly. Simply choose the sweetener that works best for you.
And this vanilla chia pudding with amazing exotic fruit nourishes my body so that I can stay healthy through the holidays! Aside from food, I’m also joining the Holiday Sweat Challenge.
- Place the coconut milk, water, chia seeds, vanilla, zest, and salt in your blender, and whiz until relatively smooth.
- Blend in sweetener, to taste, and then blend in water, as desired, to thin the consistency.
- If desired, let the mixture chill for a couple of hours or overnight, it will thicken.
**Raw honey (paleo), agave (vegan), maple syrup (adds a maple-y flavor), or plain sugar all work great, but to keep the added sugars down, I use 1 tablespoon honey + 20 drops vanilla stevia.