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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Today I have for you another yummy dish that I have done a little “Kitchen Improv” on. This is a recipe that I found in Better Homes & Gardens April 2015 issue. It also plays on the theme for this month of our listing of seasonal veggies and for this recipe, I am highlighting dark leafy greens!
Now, most people don’t get too jazzed about dark leafy anything but I will tell you, this salad is tasty! My husband even loved it! Here is what you will need:
Leafy Chick Salad
1 package of extra firm tofu, drained well and cut into cubes
1 15-16 oz can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
2 slices of bacon, chopped
2 cups of loosely packed fresh greens (I used collard greens), julienned
1 cup of roma tomatoes, quartered (can use grape tomatoes as well)
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil + 2 teaspoons
1 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
4 ounces of feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons of calamansi vinegar (can use red wine or champagne vinegar instead)
Salt and pepper
The original recipe called for Farro instead of tofu so you can use that if you prefer it. I cannot eat farro so opted for tofu instead. Take the tofu out of the package and squeeze between two paper towels to make sure and get all excess moisture out. Cut into cubes, season with a little salt and pepper. Salute’ in a non-stick pan with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and fry until all sides are a little crispy then set aside on a paper towel to drain any excess oil.
Remove the stem from your greens and then stack the leaves on top of one another Roll the leaves up into a cigar-like form.
Julienne the greens with a sharp knife and put into a bowl, set aside.
Take the chopped pieces of bacon and cook them in a pan until the pieces are crispy and drain on a paper towel to remove any excess grease.
In a large bowl, mix your vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic and whisk until incorporated. Add in the chickpeas, greens, tomatoes, bacon and feta and toss until the dressing has coated all ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!