The Salted Caramel Chiacinno and Other Creations from the Chiaverse

About 22 grams of sugar and 8 grams of fat less than its Starbuck’s counterpart.

January 19, 2021. Dear Daughters, now that we have all the holiday cooking out of the way, it’s time to get back to some healthier cooking. What better way to start than with the most important, and most neglected (at least in our house), meal of the day- breakfast.  Chia seeds, which have been around since 3500 BC, but didn’t became all the rage until relatively recently when it was “discovered” that they could magically and easily transform into a pudding, are a great start, along with coffee, to a healthy breakfast. I could go on about the health benefits of chia seeds and coffee, but why listen to me when you can read about that from a source you’re not likely to question as much as your Dad- like Harvard and Time Magazine. As an added bonus- just think of the time you can save by having your breakfast and morning coffee in just one cup! A word of warning, however- be wary of adding too much sugar to your Chiacinno or any of the other chia puddings so you don’t offset the natural, nutritional benefits from the chia seeds and any other healthy ingredients in your breakfast or snack pudding.

Chia pudding also couldn’t be simpler- for an 8 ounce serving, just mix 1/4 cup of black or white chia seeds into 1 cup of pretty much any flavorful liquid, cover and let it firm up overnight in the fridge! And when I say, “pretty much any flavorful liquid”, I mean pretty much any flavorful liquid- I used this ratio to make puddings out of oat milk, 1% chocolate milk, latte, decaf coffee, English Breakfast Tea, mango smoothie, OJ (with a shot of vodka), apple juice and Fruity Pebble Skim Milk!  The pudding also keeps well, so make it ahead for the entire week. I won’t even get into what fun you can have with Chia Pets, if you have leftover seeds!  

The Flavorful Liquids!
The Flavorful Puddings!

I will admit, the texture of chia pudding might not be for everyone- like the one of you kids who made a gagging sound whenever I mentioned I was working on a post for chia pudding and ran away whenever I tried to give you a sample. On the other hand, the rest of the family enjoys the delicate crunch of the seed with every bite of the luscious pudding and we happily downed several servings of the variety of puddings I made for this post. It does help the texturally challenged to blitz the pudding mix up in a high powered blender, but a power blender and its mess is a big investment of money and time for a college student, so it’s probably not worth it.

Salted Caramel Chiacinno

Prep Time: 10 minutes, with a hands off overnight chill

Cook Time:  0 minutes

Servings: 4-6

Make Ahead:  5-7 days


  • 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons black or white chia seeds
  • 4 cups strong black coffee
  • 1/2 cup cow or plant milk (I used skim cow milk)
  • 1 cup of nonfat, plain Greek yogurt or vegan yogurt
  • caramel sauce, as you wish (optional- we’re trying to stay healthy, remember?)
  • 4-6 pinches of flaky sea salt

Helpful Chia Pudding Ratio:  1 tablespoon chia seeds: 1/4 cup creative and flavorful liquid. Note- less seeds will give you a looser pudding and more seeds will give you a firmer pudding if you want to tinker.


Tasty Pudding by Miles Davis, which you can check out on’s Official Cook and Playlist on Spotify, is the perfect accompaniment for this recipe.

  1. No Clumps!  For the coffee pudding, mix 3 cups coffee and 3/4 cup chia seeds in a bowl. For the latte pudding, in another bowl, mix 1 cup coffee, 1/2 cup milk and 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons chia seeds. You can mix in some sweetner to each, but I didn’t. To promote an even distribution of the seeds, stir each mixture from time to time, over 5 minutes, breaking up any clumping as you go- I used a chopstick for this. Cover each bowl and chill overnight in the fridge.
  2. Layers of Flavor.  Layer coffee pudding, latte pudding and more coffee pudding (about 3 ounce-2 ounces-3 ounces) in each serving cup and top with a few tablespoons of yogurt, a drizzle of caramel sauce (a teaspoon has 3-4 grams of sugar) and a pinch of flaky sea salt.

Full Disclosure. I used homemade whipped cream and too much caramel sauce when I made the pudding in the picture above, but sometimes, a Dad will be a Dadwe just can’t help it. If you ever do this, treat it as a dessert and not breakfast.


Look at all that pudding!

You know how dads like to tinker- with their cars, their thermostats, their kids’ lives, etc., so I just couldn’t help myself when it came to this recipe and, before I knew it, I had 6 more puddings on top of the Chiachinno! It really wasn’t all that much work since it’s basically the same recipe with different flavorful liquids and garnishes. So, without further ado, here they are, with a bit of commentary and ranked from my favorite to least favorite (I won’t say worst, but you be the judge)!

#1. Tie. The Chiacinno. (Pictured Above). Really, what’s better than having your morning coffee and breakfast in the same cup? Now, you have to like a bit of bitter in your morning, which I do, because the bold and robust coffee flavor and pop of yogurt is just that, but in a good way! This also makes an excellent dessert if you swap out the yogurt for whipped cream and add more caramel sauce. PS. I have you girls to thank for getting me to enjoy coffee without cream or sugar because when you started sampling decaf at ages 9 and 11 you shocked me and many others by taking it black right from the start! Ever since then, I didn’t see how a big ol’ Dad could take cream and sugar in his coffee while his delicate and wonderful, little daughters drank it black.

Looking a bit more patriotic than I intended and I also don’t know why the pic is so skinny- oh well.

#1. Tie. The Parfait. This is my go to, weekday, chia pudding choice. Low in sugar, since I typically use skim milk, don’t add sweetner to the milk and use fruits- strawberries, blackberries and raspberries- that are also lower in sugar. Check out this chart, if you want to stay away from fruits that are high in sugar. I also add a bit more crunch with sliced almonds on top.

Look at those colors- too bad most of them are artificial

#2. Fruity Pebbles Milk. This is sure to be controversial, but hear me out. I will not attempt to argue that this is healthy, even if I did use skim milk and, at about 12 grams of sugar per cup, it has less sugar than a cup of mango smoothie (28), apple juice (24), OJ (23) or chocolate milk (20). It is, however, fun, tastes good and has a crunchy garnish that is a great contrast and compliment to the pudding and that’s what got it here! If you’re wondering how to make cereal milk, just crush up a cup of Fruity Pebbles and mix it with about 1.5 cups of milk in a bowl, let stand for 20-30 minutes and strain. Don’t worry, I don’t plan to eat it much or ever again (I actually had never bought a box of Fruity Pebbles until I thought of this recipe), but it was just too good to pass up. Full Disclosure- the milk, “naturally” a pale, peach color, was amped up for this photo with some pink food gel- oh, the nasty, little secrets of a food blog!

This is the pudding that surprised me the most, since I made it more for Tea Drinking Mom than Coffee Drinking me and I ended up liking it even more than Mom. Did I mention, Mom really liked the Chiacinno too- aren’t we adorable?

#3. English Breakfast Tea with Papaya. I will definitely be making this again- experimenting with different tea and fruit combinations. The tea has no sugar, but I supposed you could add honey and lemon (and even milk) if you liked that sort of thing, and papayas are relatively low in sugar.

You should really check out blood oranges if you haven’t already!

#4. Orange Juice with Blood Orange. I am a big fan of blood oranges and the orange flavor in the pudding was a nice compliment, even if the color of the pudding was more brown than orange.

If I didn’t know better, I would think there were chia seeds in the kiwi.

#5. Mango Smoothie with Kiwi. The way the seeds of the kiwi mimic the chia seeds bumps this just ahead of the next pudding. The tart bite of the kiwi was also a nice contrast to the sweet, mango flavors that came through very nicely from the smoothie.

Apple on apple.

#6. Apple Juice with Granny Smith Apple. Very similar to the mango smoothie in that the pleasant bite of the Granny Smith was a nice contrast to the sweet, apple flavors in the pudding.

#7. Chocolate Milk. This was so underwhelming, even after I added a few teaspoons of cocoa powder to boost the chocolate flavor, that I forgot to take a picture of it.

Looks like sludge, tastes like sludge.

#8. The Vegan “Jello” Shot. This was not good, but since I don’t like you kids drinking all that much, I’m glad. It also wasn’t much of a shot at 7 ounces of OJ to 1 ounce of vodka for 4 shots. I wasn’t sure it would set up with the alcohol, but it did- although it was a little looser than the other puddings. It was also messy because when I tried to down it, half of it shot into my mouth, while the other half clung to the shot glass just long enough to drop on my face a few seconds after that.

Keyword: chia seed, vegetarian, vegan option, healthy breakfast, healthy snack

© 2021 All rights reserved.  Dad’s Dinner Diary

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