Cold and flu season is in full force this year and it does not seem to be ending any time soon. Whether you turn on the news, go to social media, run into friends, or get a call from family, the topic of colds, flu, and feeling ill is going to be seen or heard. Luckily, I have yet to get sick this year (knock on wood). It is a great achievement considering I have Crohn’s Disease, which automatically puts me at a disadvantage in the fight against germs due to a weakened immune system. I attribute my ability to avoid illness to my healthy diet and lifestyle. I initially learned about nutrition in culinary school then again when I went back to school for my medical degree. Pair that with many years of research about my disease and I have learned a great deal about nutrition and how to naturally prevent illness and disease.
The first step is to understand the immune system/gut connection. A lot of people are unaware that about 70% of your immune system is in your gut. In your intestines there are hundreds of billions of bacteria living there. Most of the bacteria is good while some of it is bad. Once the bad bacteria begins to outnumber the good bacteria, that is when your immune system gets compromised and you are at more risk to get sick. The good news is you can have a lot of control over the ratio of bacteria by ensuring there is more good bacteria (aka probiotics) than bad bacteria. Now this does not mean I am recommending you run out and buy a probiotic supplement. You have many opportunities throughout the day to feed your gut immune-boosting foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, yogurt, spices, fresh herbs, and this easy and indulgent chocolate chia pudding.
Although a sweet and delicious dessert or snack, this pudding contains a quadruple threat of four specific ingredients (kefir, cinnamon, honey, cocoa) known to either feed the good bacteria or directly increase its quantity. Fermented foods like kefir are naturally rich in probiotics. Cinnamon, honey, and cocoa are all rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties. These properties help build up your immunity by lowering the release of arachidonic acid from the membranes that surround the cells. This process also helps lessen inflammation, which is the leading cause of many chronic health problems and diseases. If you want a sweet treat that will also benefit your health, give this easy pudding recipe a try!
Easy Chocolate Chia Pudding
- 1 cup Plain 1% Kefir
- ¼ cup Chia Seeds
- 1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
- ½ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
- 1 tbsp. Unsweetened Dark Cocoa Powder
- 2 tbsp. Raw Honey
- Dark Chocolate Chips; for topping
- In a medium bowl combine the kefir, chia seeds, vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa powder, and honey. Cover and refrigerate overnight (or for at least 12 hours).
- When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator and spoon into small bowls. Top each bowl with a few dark chocolate chips and serve.