If you are anything like me, I was a little hesitant to try chia seeds a few years ago as all I knew of “chia” anything was the commercial for the Chia Pet I saw on late night infomercials. Well, chia seeds have come along way and these teeny seeds are huge in the area of nutrition as they are full of super nutrients like potassium, fiber, magnesium, protein, calcium, manganese, phosphorus and Omega-3 fatty acids!
Chia seeds come from the Salvia Hispanic plant which is native to South America and is related to the mint plant. Chia means strength in the Mayan culture and that is so true of this little seed based on its health benefits.
An extra bonus is that chia seeds are considered to be a whole grain and are typically grown organically, they are gluten free and usually non-GMO.
What can you do with chia seeds? Well, I started to sprinkle them on my salads and to incorporate them into my homemade gluten-free breads. They are also great in muffins and you can either add them to other seeds like poppy or sunflower seeds or use the as a substitute. They are great to add to smoothies in the morning as they help to thicken your smoothies and shakes and they are great for making pudding. I love pudding and since I began making my own dairy-free/gluten-free pudding, this one is really easy to make and very versatile. I found this recipe on allrecipes.com you can add just about anything to the recipe that you like to give it really flavor and interest. I adapted this recipe to be dairy-free but the original recipe came from sjeffery8045:
Berry Chia Seed Pudding
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I used Silk Coconut Milk)
1 cup vanilla fat-free yogurt (I used Blueberry Coconut Yogurt)
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup fresh blueberries (can use any fruit you like)
1/4 cup toasted and chopped almonds
Whisk milk, yogurt, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, vanilla, and salt together in a bowl until blended; add the chia seeds, whisk to incorporate and then let the mixture set for 30 minutes.
Stir the chia seed mixture to redistribute seeds that have settled throughout the mixture. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate 8 hours to overnight. Top with fruit and nuts/seeds of your choice and you can even drizzle with more honey or syrup but I feel it is sweet enough already for most. ENJOY!
This morning I had the opportunity to speak to a local Women’s Club about Clean Eating and why it is important for overall health and wellness.
You have probably heard the term Clean Eating as it has become somewhat of a new trend among celebrities and others, much like going gluten free did a few years ago. Clean eating is really a very simple concept and an easy one to follow as you do not have to count calories or order special packaged foods, in fact, all of that is discouraged when you eat clean!
Clean Eating really means that you “crowd out” all processed foods by adding in fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fish and healthy fats. Sounds pretty easy, right? The reason that there is such a focus on clean eating is that many processed foods are pre-packaged for convenience so that they have a long shelf life and can be prepared quickly. Often times, they contain large amounts of hidden sodium, sugar, artificial ingredients and low food values which are always bad news.
Healthy statistics support the need for better nutrition and eating habits when you see the statistics and risks of having a poor diet:
* 160 million Americans are overweight or obese
* More than 1/3 of kids and teens are considered overweight or obese
* Over 29.1 million Americans have diabetes (8.1 million of those folks have not yet been diagnosed)
* More than 86 million Americans (over the age of 20) are pre-diabetic
* The 7th leading cause of death in this country is diabetes
* By 2050, if the trend in the US continues, the number of people with diabetes will double or triple!
So, it is crucial that everyone makes the effort to focus on better eating habits and better nutrition. Clean Eating can help to reduce risk and to prolong your life. Here is what else Clean Eating can do:
* Increase your energy level by providing lots of nutrients and vitamins
* Leads to weight loss
* Improves mental health
* Helps you to sleep better
* Puts you in a better mood/mental state
* Leads to a longer life (for more on this, read Blue Zones by Dan Buttoner)
What are the Principles of Clean Eating?
* Buy whole, fresh foods – those that occur in nature and not in a manufacturing plant
* Cook for yourself – you will have better nutritional value from your food and you control whats in it
* Eliminate refined carbs and sugar
* Eat smaller meals more often to stabilize your blood sugar
* Aim for lean proteins, good fats and complex carbs at each meal
Additionally, here are some other helpful tips you can follow:
* Shop the perimeter of the grocery store for the best whole food options
* Sit down to eat – turn off the television, cell phone and focus on your meal and family
* Drink more water
* Eliminate gluten and dairy
* If you cannot pronounce it, don’t eat it!
* Focus on eating the RIGHT foods for your body and not calories
In keeping with the theme of Clean Eating, I took with me to my presentation a delicious batch of
Gluten Free, Dairy Free Berry & Oats Breakfast Cookies. I found this recipe a while ago but am not sure where. Here is the recipe:
3/4 cup gluten free one-to-one flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup soy margarine (I use Earth Balance) softened
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups gluten free oats
1/3 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries (can also use dried blueberries or other dried fruit)
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the first 5 ingredients together to blend. Add in oil, margarine, eggs, honey and vanilla and then mix by hand or with a standing mixer for about 1 minute. Add in the oats, about 1/2 cup at a time and mix well. Fold in the nuts and berries until well incorporated.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and then place a 2 tbsp ball of dough onto the sheet pan and space them evenly (they don’t spread much). Bake for 12-14 minutes. ENJOY!
For more information on Clean Eating, feel free to contact me at email@example.com
It has been a while since I have posted a recipe as I have been caught up in some other projects the last couple of months, so I am sorry to have been a slacker on that front! Today, I needed to make something for my husband to take to work to a Thanksgiving Potluck Dinner they are doing for the staff tomorrow. In addition to my famous Spinach Balls, I was to make a dessert and decided on a pumpkin cookie.
I’m not one to create a lot of recipes on my own but I love to modify others that I find to make them gluten free and dairy free. This recipe I found on Allrecipes.com and this was developed by Gina. I made it with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Baking Flour and with organic coconut milk (instead of regular milk) and Earth Balance spread (instead of butter). I hope you love them!
Iced Pumpkin Cookies (made gluten free/dairy free)
2 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Baking flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Earth Balance soy spread, softened (can use real butter)
1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons coconut milk (can use real milk)
1 tablespoon melted Earth Balance
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Allspice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt; set aside.
In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls; flatten slightly.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool cookies, then drizzle glaze with fork.
To Make Glaze: Combine confectioners’ sugar, milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter,allspice and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add milk as needed, to achieve drizzling consistency.
The cookies are light and airy and have a subtle pumpkin flavor to them. Can leave the icing off completely if you want to eliminate that sugar element as they are delicious naked and would be great with a hot cup of tea! ENJOY…
I’m excited to share with you a great resource in the Houston area that I was not familiar with and the great news is that it is a bakery! How awesome is that?
Recently, there was a thread on our neighborhood Next Door app that and it was a lady looking to find a gluten free/allergy free bakery in the area for some children in her class who had allergies. She likes to celebrate each child’s birthday by brining in treats and needs to accommodate allergies that a couple of new children the class have. People were offering suggestions of local merchants who did gluten free cupcakes but not other allergies, and then Liberation Gluten Free Bakery came up!
Now, I am not a huge sweet eater, however, I occasionally like to bake something for either a meeting I’m going to or a party or family gathering I’m hosting at the house. I can usually make something that tastes ok but a baker I am not. Savory dishes are my deal but I am not patient enough to measure things properly as you need to when baking.
The owner of Liberation GF Bakery, Angela Winston, was kind enough to agree to talk with me today about how she started the bakery and why. Her start came from necessity as her son was diagnosed with allergies to dairy, soy and wheat. They discovered his allergies about 13 years ago as an infant when he was suffering with eczema, dermatitis and various infections.
I know how difficult it was to manage my diet when I was diagnosed with celiac so I can only imagine how much more challenging it is for a mom to manage their child’s condition at school, events or at a friend’s house. Angela mentioned an occasion when she and her son had gone to a friends house and her son was given a Ritz cracker and had a pretty significant reaction to it. An episode like that would certainly make you want to create your own treats to send along with him the next time he goes to visit a friend.
As she experimented with recipes and perfected them she decided to make a go of it by producing gluten free and allergy free items for others to enjoy as well and that was when Liberation GF Bakery was born about four years ago. She offers muffins, cookies, cupcakes and cakes that you can special order and tell her what allergens to avoid. Her menu list of items is expansive and includes things like Rich Chocolate Cake, Lemon Lavender and Hummingbird Cake. Delicious!
We talked about the challenges both children and adults can face when they have food allergies and I mentioned going to a local women’s group meeting and they serve refreshments and food at the meetings. For the first couple that I attended, there was literally nothing I could eat that was offered. I started to bring gluten free/dairy free muffins and they were a hit. Turned out that a few other ladies were also gluten free and/or dairy free and never really said anything so as not to be a bother. Angela said that sometimes “You feel you can’t eat well when you can’t have certain things and that is not the case.” She is totally right, especially now with places like Liberation GF Bakery who can do the baking for you. I’m lucky enough to be able to sample her goodies next month and cannot wait to try them.
So, if you are in the Houston area and need to find gluten free and/or allergy free baked goodies, contact Angela at www.liberationgfbakery.com. ENJOY!
In my never ending search for healthy foods and snacks, I have discovered a new one that I am totally obsessed with….Chickpeas!
Chickpeas, also known as Garbanzo Beans are members of the legume family. Legumes also include beans, peanuts, soybeans (also one of my favorites) and lentils. Good news…garbanzo beans have some great health benefits when you consume them regularly and here is how you will benefit by eating them.
Garbanzos contain about 15 grams of protein and, since it is a legume, it is a great source of vegetarian-friendly protein! They are a source of incomplete protein though so you will want to eat them in addition to eating other proteins like nuts, whole grains, eggs and meat (if you are not vegetarian) so your body will get enough amino acids to feed your body’s tissues properly.
Also good for colon health, garbanzos have a good amount of dietary fiber. This is important because it will help to control your blood sugar level, it helps to slow down digestion and helps to keep you regular. I like the fact that it helps to control blood sugar levels since I was recently diagnosed as pre-diabetic and look for all of the foods that won’t give me a big blood sugar spike. A cup of cooked garbanzo beans will give you about 12.5 grams of fiber which is half of the recommended daily intake for women.
Good for both brain health, protection against genetic mutations that may cause cancer development and helpful for bone development, these little nuggets are loaded with both folate and manganese. Manganese is also important to maintain your metabolism as it carries out a chemical reaction that is an essential part of the metabolic process. Folate, also known as vitamin B9, helps with new cell growth and is an important component for pregnant women for healthy baby development.
Garbanzos are versatile as well. If you don’t want to mess with soaking them and cooking them yourselves, you can find them canned and they are easy to then sprinkle onto a salad, incorporate into Indian dishes like Chana Masala or put them into some soup. What I did for today’s post was make a crunch snack out of them.
4 cups of dried chickpeas
2 tablespoons of fine sea salt
2 tablespoons of cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon of Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning
3 tablespoons of olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Soak the garbanzo beans in cool water overnight. Drain and rinse them then add to a pot full of water. Bring water and beans to a boil and then reduce to simmer and cover. Let cook for 2 hours. Drain the beans and put into a mixing bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over the beans. Take all the seasonings and mix them together in a separate bowl. Sprinkle the seasoning mix over the beans to your desired seasoning level. Spread onto a cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes. Stir them up and turn them over so they will cook evenly. Increase the temperature to 400 degrees and bake for another 45 minutes or until they start to get a nice crunch to them. Remove from the oven and let them cool. Store in an airtight container.
Eat them as they are for a great snack or sprinkle them onto a salad! You have a healthy, crunchy, spicy snack that provides great flavor and energy. ENJOY!
So last night, I was in the mood for a light and delicious dinner and was kind of crazy Chinese food but was way to lazy to go and pick it up (our neighborhood has NO delivery food service, can you believe it?) I know, it is weird.
So, I took at look at what I had in the fridge and pantry and decided on Chinese Corn and Mushroom Soup!
It was flavorful and comforting but still light enough for a hot summer evening. I hope you will try the recipe and let me know how you like it!
Chinese Corn, Shrimp and Mushroom Soup
6 cups low-sodium organic beef broth
1/2 pound of large shrimp (de-veined, and peeled)
1 large can of Chinese baby corn nuggets (or regular and just cut up yourself)
1 large can of straw mushrooms
1 can of diced water chestnut
1 bundle of asian rice noodles (I used the Haiku brand and the bundle is about 38g)
1 tablespoon of minced ginger (I like a lot of ginger but you can use a teaspoon and be fine)
1/4 cup of Tamari
1/4 cup of GF Mongolian BBQ sauce
1 tablespoon of siracha sauce
1 bunch of scallions (use white and light green diced small and add to pot) greens for garnish
Bring the broth to a boil. Add in the corn, mushrooms, scallions and water chestnut to the broth. Add in the ginger, Tamari, BBQ sauce and siracha and stir until well mixed. Reduce heat to medium and add in the noodles. Allow the noodles to cook in the broth for approximately 3 minutes or until they are tender. At the same time you add in the noodles, add in the shrimp. Taste and decide if you need to add any salt or more Tamari or siracha…totally depends on your palate.
Sprinkle the green diced scallion on top of the soup when you serve it. (I took the photo before I put the scallions on which is why you don’t see them…sorry!)
If you want the soup to be a bit more hearty, you can add in some firm tofu or if you don’t like shrimp you can substitute chicken or cup up pieces of fish. I would cook those ahead of time and just add in at the end to warm them up. ENJOY!