Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

Picture of Chocolate Chia Seed PuddingChia seeds…love them or hate them, they are packed full of micro-nutrients. While chia seeds are a relatively new food to the United States, they sustained ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures for generations. In fact, in the ancient Mayan language, the word “chia” literally translates to “strength”. How great is that? Food should make us strong. And stable. And restore our vitality. And be genetic building blocks to produce other, stable, strong, healthy, whole, and vital offspring. According to the USDA, this is how a single ounce of chia seeds help keep folks healthy today:

  • Fiber: 11 grams.
  • Protein: 4 grams.
  • Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are Omega-3s).
  • Calcium: 18% of the RDA.
  • Manganese: 30% of the RDA.
  • Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.
  • Phosphorus: 27% of the RDA.
  • Decent additional amounts of Zinc, Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Potassium, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and Vitamin B2.

So, why are we not eating chia seeds by the handful?

First off, they’re seeds. They are tiny and get stuck in your teeth and taste like seeds. Not like pumpkin seeds, which are pretty flavorful when roasted. These taste…earthy. Earthy isn’t bad, it’s just not always palatable as a stand-alone flavor. Chia seeds also absorb liquid, which makes them challenging to chew. The good news is, they are very easy to add to salads, side dishes, main dishes, drinks and desserts. They quickly take on the flavor of other foods they are prepared with, and trade in their earthy flavor without any resentment.

My favorite vehicle for this nutrient-dense food is a no-cook, dairy-free pudding. It’s so simple, ridiculously satisfying, easy to prepare, and appeals to many palates. My dad loves tapioca pudding, and I originally created this for him. My young nieces also like it, so I consider this a multi-generational food win. It is also easy to mak

Ingredients:

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 
1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/4 cup high quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 
1/4 cup coconut crystals or other low-glycemic sweetener
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 
1 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 
10-15 drops vanilla stevia (optional)

Directions:

  1. Mix everything together until well-combined.
  2. Chill for 2-3 hours, or up to 4 days.

Alternate Preparations:

*You can omit the chia seeds. Of course, then this will just be Pudding, not Chia Seed Pudding.  If you do omit the seeds, also omit the almond milk.  Chia absorbs moisture and thickens things up, so your pudding won’t hold up otherwise. It will look more like cold, chocolate coconut soup.

**You can also put the pudding in popsicle molds, which is delicious and will last much longer.

Charlie Brown Bars

Picture of Charlie Brown BarsI am not a morning person.  And I know roughly 97% of America can relate.  I’m usually a give-me-coffee-so-I-can-be-human kind of girl.  No, that’s not entirely true.  The complete truth is, I literally stumble around for the first 15 minutes I’m awake.  (I once tripped getting out of bed and fell into my open closet, then managed to knock the sliding closet door off it’s hinges as Itried to get up.)  So, after I stumble dazedly about for a bit, THEN I get my coffee and become human.

Making breakfast is a struggle for me.  I used to grab a protein bar or piece of toast with some peanut butter on it and eat it on the way to work.  Then I stopped eating protein bars and bread.  Then I had a kid and had even less energy to put toward breakfast. I’m not so keen on trying to make breakfast when I can barely function as it is.  What to do, what to do…

Oh, I KNOW!  Eat chocolate and peanut butter.  For breakfast.  (And although I think cold breakfast is generally not the best option, I think not eating at all is much worse.)

Apparently, these are called Charlie Brown Bars (maybe because of the peanuts?), but I’ve been making them for ages.  I saw them on display in the fancy dessert case at a certain store that sells “whole foods”, and guess most of the world eats them for dessert.  To each their own.  The great thing about it is you can use whatever nut or seed butter you like, and eat them whenever you want.  They are packed with fiber, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and calories, so you might have to watch your serving size.

*Please note due to the coconut oil, these bars need to stay cold or they turn to mush.  Delicious mush.


Ingredients for Bars:

  • 
1 1/2 cups nut or seed butter (no sugar, unsalted is best)
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup unsalted nuts or pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 3/4 cup coconut crystals or erythritol (I prefer to powder mine in a coffee grinder first)
  • 
1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 30 drops liquid stevia
  • Pinch of salt
cinnamon to taste

Directions for Bars:

  1. In a small saucepan, melt nut butter and coconut oil together over low heat, then add vanilla extract and stevia
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine nuts, seeds, coconut, erythritol, and cinnamon and mix
  3. Pour melted coconut oil and nut butter mixture into bowl, and mix with a non-stick spatula until combined
  4. Spread mixture into 9×13 pan and refrigerate for 2-3 hours (or until very firm)

Ingredients for Chocolate Topping:

  • 3 oz 90% cacao chocolate
  • 
1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 15 drops stevia

Directions for Chocolate Topping:

  1. Melt chocolate and coconut oil in your home-made double boiler
  2. Add vanilla and stevia
  3. Once melted and stirred well, pour into the pan of chilled nut butter mixture
  4. (Optional and delicious step: Spread a layer plain nut butter over the pan first, then pour your chocolate over it.)
  5. Allow to harden in the refrigerator for an hour, then cut into serving sized pieces and store.

Brown-Butter Apple Crumble

Pic of Brown-Butter Apple CrumbleWhen making sweet treats, I typically aim for three things:

  • Layers of flavor
  • Great texture
  • Easy to create

While this recipe certainly aces the first two criteria, it does require a bit more time, focus and effort in the kitchen than I typically like to spend.  I save this recipe for birthdays, holidays, or when I really want to impress someone…so, approximately twice a year.  Probably less now that I have a toddler and NOTHING gets done in a timely manner anymore.  Okay.  Ever.

If you’re willing to take the time, this is definitely worth the effort.

Ingredients for Brown Butter Apples:

  • 
5-6 apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick.  I suggest using a tasty apple like Gala or Honeycrisp.
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 
1 tsp cardamon

Ingredients for Crumble:

  • 
3/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 
1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2-3 Tbsp coconut crystals or other low-glycemic sweetener
  • 
2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 
1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 
1 tsp cinnamon
a sprinkle of nutmeg
pinch of salt

Preparation for Apples:

  1. Brown the butter in a small sauce pan. Be sure to watch it closely. The difference in a lovely rich nutty flavor and the acrid burnt taste is just seconds apart. If you’re unsure how to make brown butter, here is a video.  :)
  2. In a large skillet on medium-high heat, sauté apples with butter, ginger and spices until apples are slightly tender.
  3. Add vanilla extract and honey at the very end of cooking process and mix thoroughly.
  4. Transfer apples and any remaining butter sauce in the bottom of the pan to a glass baking dish.

Preparation for Crumble:

  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  2. Melt butter and stir in vanilla extract and honey.
  3. Pour butter and vanilla mixture over the dry ingredients and mix with your hands.
  4. Sprinkle over the top of apples and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Serve with 1 part heavy cream and 1 part marscarpone whipped together with a dash of vanilla and stevia or honey.

Bieler’s Broth (Stable Table Style)

Photo of Beiler's BrothOne of my very first questions for new clients is “What do you eat for breakfast?”. They will often tell me they eat a green smoothie made from frozen berries, leafy greens, almond milk, etc. This is SUPER HEALTHY, right?

Eh. Kind of.

In theory, yes, green smoothies are full of fresh, healthy foods. However, smoothies are typically higher in sugar and are very cold. Yes, COLD. And do you know what our bodies hate? Cold breakfasts. In fact, this is the first piece of advice I give my clients: EAT A HOT BREAKFAST. Or at the very least, make it warm.

Why is a hot breakfast so important?

Imagine a campfire. You wake up, you build a fire to get warm, make your food, etc. You don’t typically need much heat during the middle of the day, unless it is very cold outside. You eat simple foods that probably don’t require cooking. In the evening, you build the fire back up again, making it roaring hot and make your dinner using the flames. The flames slowly wane and die out and as you get sleepy and go to bed. You wake up in the morning to ashes and maybe some smoldering embers. You then rebuild the fire and the cycle starts all over again.

Your digestive system is like that campfire. It needs warmth in the beginning of the day, for the flames to be built up deliberately so it can do the important job of digesting your food and converting it into the vital nutritional building blocks your body needs to function well. Pouring a cold smoothie on that fire would not only extinguish whatever smoldering embers remained from the night before, but would also make it nearly impossible to get a new, roaring fire going for the day. It would take a lot of heat, extra wood, and very careful, intensive tending. So, using this idea, a cold smoothie, (or even cold water or juice), first thing in the morning doesn’t make for a happy digestive system. In fact, it puts the fire out.

One of my favorite breakfasts, (besides cookies), is this green soup. Before I got pregnant and became a milk machine, I ate green soup every day for several months in the morning. Full of green veggies and fortifying chicken broth, it provides the perfect start to my day. Easy on the digestive system, it is incredibly warming. It’s also wonderful as a snack, or add a scoop of cooked quinoa or some shredded chicken for a heartier meal. If you want to boost your greens, add a handful of spinach, swiss chard or chopped kale. If you’re breastfeeding, be careful with this, though. Because of the cilantro and parsley, it can lower milk production. You can make it without the herbs and use greens instead. It isn’t quite as tasty, but it’s still satisfying.

To be clear, this recipe is not the traditional preparation of the soup. Bieler’s broth was meant to be cleansing, so the original recipe uses water instead of broth, and definitely doesn’t add the healthy fat of pastured butter or ghee. With this preparation, you still get all the cleansing benefits, but you also receive some vital nutrients that are easy to skip during the day. Like BUTTER.

Ingredients:

  • 4 zucchinis (about 1.5 lbs), sliced
  • 
5-7 stalks of celery, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 
1 lb string beans with ends snapped off
  • 2 small carrots, chopped (optional)
  • 
1 small bunch cilantro
  • 
1 small bunch parsley
  • 2 quarts of chicken broth (also, it’s easy to make your own broth)
  • 
2 Tbsp ghee or pastured butter (optional)
  • 
1 tsp cumin (optional)
  • 
Pink Himalayan Rock Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Put zucchini, celery, string beans and carrot into pot with chicken broth.  Cook until bright green, then remove from heat.
  2. Ladle cooked veggies and broth with parsley leaves into blender in small batches, and blend until smooth, or use an immersion blender and blend in the pot.
  3. Heat blended soup on medium low and add ghee, cumin, coriander.
  4. Salt to taste.  Eat immediately and refrigerate leftover soup for up to 5 days in tightly sealed jar.