Papaya Coconut Chia Pudding

Papaya Coconut Chia Pudding, a healthy vegan and gluten-free breakfast with a touch of the tropics l

I’ll be honest, chia seeds are one of those superfoods I have to nudge myself to eat. With each spoonful, I remind myself, “Fiber. Protein. Omega-3 fatty acids. All nine essential amino acids.” While chia seeds are flavorless, it’s the texture that takes some getting used to. These little seeds expand and swell when placed in liquid, soaking up to ten times their dry weight. They transform into little gel-like globules, which makes consumption a bit of a slippery endeavor.

To get past the texture, I pair the chia seeds with my favorite fruit and fixings, adding both flavor and a burst of color to the “pudding” that forms when chia seeds are soaked in almond milk. With summer on my mind, fresh papaya and coconut shreds bring a touch of the tropics to this healthy Papaya Coconut Chia Pudding.

Papaya Coconut Chia Pudding, a healthy vegan and gluten-free breakfast with a touch of the tropics l

The base of the pudding consists of unsweetened almond milk, freshly cubed papaya, unsweetened coconut shreds, real maple syrup, and vanilla paste. Vanilla Paste is one of my new favorite ingredients, which is made by scraping out the inside of a whole vanilla bean.

The flavor is much more potent than vanilla bean extract. You can order it online, or purchase it from a specialty kitchen store such as Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table. I recently stumbled upon it at my local grocery store, Stop & Shop, in the baking aisle.

I use vanilla paste often in baked goods, but it can be used wherever you want amped up vanilla flavor (imagine it in a glorious vanilla bean ice cream!)

Papaya Coconut Chia Pudding, a healthy vegan and gluten-free breakfast with a touch of the tropics l

Papaya, when ripened, is brilliantly orange and very tender. I love it for both its color and mellow sweetness. After pulsing the fresh fruit and other base ingredients in a blender, the chia seeds are stirred in to soak up all the beautiful liquid. You can chill the mixture overnight, or for two to three hours prior to serving. I whisk the pudding occasionally to break apart any chia seed clumps that may have formed. It’s amazing how much the consistency changes in a short amount of time!

To serve the chia pudding, I garnish with additional papaya and coconut and a sprinkle of cinnamon, but you can certainly add granola, too. With its gorgeous colors, this chia pudding is a beautiful addition to Mother’s Day brunch (and a good conversation piece!) It can also be stored in a small container for an on-the-go breakfast or snack.

Papaya Coconut Chia Pudding, a healthy vegan and gluten-free breakfast with a touch of the tropics l

I would love to hear your thoughts on chia seeds and chia pudding. Are you a fan? What is your favorite way to prepare chia pudding or use chia seeds?

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Papaya Coconut Chia Pudding
Prep time
Total time
Chia pudding with fresh papaya, unsweetened coconut, and almond milk. A tropical, healthy breakfast filled with fiber and protein.
Serves: 4 servings
  • 1½ cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1½ cups cubed fresh papaya (plus additional for garnish)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes (plus additional for garnish)
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste or vanilla extract
  • ⅛ cup real maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup chia seeds
  1. Combine all ingredients except the chia seeds in a blender, pulsing into smooth.
  2. Pour blender contents into a large bowl and stir in the chia seeds. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. Divide the chilled and thickened pudding into four bowl, garnishing with additional papaya and coconut flakes, if desired.

This post has been shared on Allergy Free Wednesdays hosted by Real Food, Allergy Free,  Waste Not Want Not Wednesdays hosted by The Frugal Farm WifeGluten-Free Fridays hosted by Vegetarian Mama, and I’m Lovin’ It hosted by Tidy Mom.

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    • says

      Oh you do! Papaya is one of my favorite fruits. My husband and I ate it every day when we were on our honeymoon in Fiji. I love the super rich orange color, and it isn’t super sweet so you can eat A LOT of it, ha :)

  1. says

    I can’t believe I have been such a slacker on the chia pudding bandwagon..I have some manila mangos….breakfast tomorrow I think!! SO pretty!

    • says

      I just got my act together with chia pudding, I was a slacker for a loonngg time, haha. So glad I got into it, though. So healthy and you can do so much with it flavor wise. Mangos would be amazing with chia pudding, love that idea!

  2. says

    It totally agree with you on the chai seed pudding front – it’s delicious, but yet I find myself kind of forcing it down (though this recipe might just change my ways!!) So odd, because I’m not a person that tends to have food texture issues. I DO love mixing chia seeds into more sneaky places tho – smoothies, oatmeal, etc.

    • says

      Papayas are heavenly – they are really easy to cut and prepare from the whole fruit…but for an quick and easy method, Whole Foods often has papaya pre-sliced in to-go containers!

  3. says

    This is gorgeous! I love that you blended so many flavors into the chia seed base, I’m sure it thickens it up a bit too :) Vanilla bean paste is a heavenly ingredient, I would throw it in everything if I could afford it! Pinned!

    • says

      Thanks, Natalie! Yes, the base gets nice and thick, I could have stopped there and had the base as a smoothie! Vanilla bean paste is so wonderful, it helps feed my obsession with vanilla mmmm.

    • says

      I know, isn’t it just a great way to start the day?? My husband loves it for breakfast, too. I make a big batch that lasts us a few mornings. It’s perfect in little to-go containers for work.

  4. Dana @ IveGotCake says

    Very nice Steph,
    I don’t often play with chia seeds either but this is something I can easily do, thank you :)

  5. says

    I do have to get some chia seeds and try this. I keep putting it off but I do need some variety for breakfast. They sound so nutritious I will just have to get some.

    • says

      Let me know what you think when you try them! You can also add them to other breakfast foods for additional nutrition boost. I sprinkle some on top of my oatmeal, add to smoothies, pancakes, etc. They’re flavorless so they can be added just about anything!

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