Packing & Snacking: Coconut Chia Pudding

Coconut_Chia_Seed_PuddingHave you tried this before? (Chia seed pudding – Not the packing, remodeling, and moving at 30+ weeks pregnant – I don’t recommend that for sane people.) If you’re a pudding person, believe in powers of the mighty chia seed, or want a science experiment of making a seed turn to jello – check out how easy this is. I like the taste and texture, and the polka dots, and the Omega 3′s for my preg brain.

DSC_0540I’ve tested this with several types of milk, and in many different ratios of liquid to chia seed. The healthy fat content in the light coconut milk works best, imparts the best flavor on the plain chia seeds, and keeps a creamy, jello-y texture for the longest period of time in the frig. This pudding is a breakfast, snack, or dessert kind of thing.

Packing up the computer now!…

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Coconut Chia Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 13.5 oz. can light coconut milk (unsweetened, with as few added ingredients is best)
  • 1/3 cup raw chia seeds
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt (I’m into the White Mountain Whole Milk Bulgarian yogurt lately)
  • sweetener of choice (a teaspoon or two of honey or maple syrup works well)

Directions:

Place all ingredients into a medium size bowl, whisk well, the seeds like to form packs. Cover and refrigerate overnight. To serve, stir pudding to break up any pods of chia seeds, and top with whatever you fancy! Lasts several days in the frig.

 

Warrior Tabbouleh Salad

When it comes to prepping meals for the week, I can’t be bothered to be that organized (unless I accidentally have leftovers that turn into something that works for the next couple days).

The past couple weeks I’ve stumbled in to large batch ‘cooking’  (loose term because this particular recipe requires zero stove or oven time). Necessity is definitely the mother of invention prepping meals for an easier week ahead.

Toubbouleh-Herbs

The days lately are full of new things like lesson planning & teaching a Healthy Kids after-school program, more doctor appointments than I’ve attended in my entire life combined, driving back and forth and around the city again to the house we’re renovating in order to make selections and meet contractors, deliver lots of tile and paint and diagrams of where this vanity should start and that wall color should stop. It’s a wonderful time full of creativity, anticipation and of many ounces of half-calf iced coffee that get me through the third trimester tiredness (they’re not kidding about that by the way).

Tabbouleh Warrior Salad

This Warrior Tabbouleh Salad is more hearty & energy-giving than the classic because of the protein and fiber in the chickpeas and farro. It can surely be a meal, and gets better in the frig as it marinates.

Clean Tip: Farro is an ancient grain (fed to Roman soldiers for endurance) that is low in gluten and higher in protein and antioxidants than similar grains like rice. There is a certain type of complex carbohydrate in farro that stimulates the immune system and helps regulate blood sugar (keeping us fuller, longer). In my opinion, farro is the most satisfyingly tasty rice-like grain out there.

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Warrior Tabbouleh Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked Italian Farro
  • 1 cup tomato, diced small
  • 1/4 small red onion, diced small
  • 1 large bunch parsley leaves chopped finely, approximately 1/4 cup packed and heaping (no such thing as too much)
  • 1 small bunch mint leaves chopped finely, approximately 1 packed and heaping tablespoon
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive (or more to taste)
  • plenty of salt and white pepper to taste

Directions:

Throw all ingredients into a bowl and combine. Plenty of salt and pepper is a must! Serve with a sprinkling of your favorite crumbly cheese if you have some hanging around (goat’s milk feta on mine).

Napa Recap!

What started out as an educational-slash-foodie trip to the Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives Conference for me (birthday/Christmas gift from Tim), morphed into a work-slash-play-slash-”babymoon” for Tim and me when we realized this might be our last getaway for a while. We left Austin in the middle of a house re-model, another house newly on the market, our family business relocating and under construction… and unexpectedly had one of the best trips ever.

A recap from our food filled vacation, plus recommendations below.

NapaRecap_HealthyKitchensHealthyLives

A dietitian friend told me about the conference that spurred on this trip, Tall Tim talked me in to attending, and I talked him in to joining me.

(If you are interested to know more, The Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives Conference is put on by the Harvard School of Public Health and held at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, California near Napa. The conference presents the latest nutrition research by the Harvard researchers themselves, and trains chefs/educators on healthy cooking techniques. The majority of folks that attend are physicians and Registered Dietitians, with a few Health Coaches and educators in the mix like me. The conference sells out, so watch for the 2015 dates and reserve as soon as possible if interested.)

We talked about re-visiting Northern California before we ever left. Considering that most of my time was spent at the conference, we didn’t get to fit everything in, but here are our highlights worth considering yourself:

  1. The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) – A constant flurry of student chefs, teaching chefs, the historic building, the herb gardens, the aromas coming from every different kitchen… if you appreciate anything culinary, you will find something to love about this place. Tours and shopping available if you are just stopping through.
  2. Tim discovered real fast that the little town of Calistoga where we stayed was known for Hot Springs – it seems fitting to enjoy a spa treatment of some sort while in the Napa Valley, and Golden Haven Hot Springs & Spa provided that for my guy while I was conferencing.
  3. Our first and last stop on the way in & out of the San Francisco airport was Tartine Bakery. The pastry chef, Chad Robertson, is a James Beard Award Winner that is after my own heart – baking classic french pastries and incorporating ancient grains in his recipes; this bakery has the most decadent croissants in the same pastry case with ancient sprouted grain breads that change daily. Check out his James Beard nominated cookbook Tartine Book No 3, and see his contagious passion for bread in this short documentary. Chad, if you can hear me, open a bakery in Austin! I will measure flour, sweep the floors, anything.
  4. There were over 300 recipes presented/demonstrated/fed to us over the weekend at the HKHL conference. This Avocado Panna Cotta was so unique and beautiful, a favorite of Tim’s, and a sneak peak of some of the recipes I would be criminal not to share with you soon.
  5. The vineyard scenery on the drive up and down Highway 29 (the road connecting much of wine country) is a vacation in itself. We had time to visit one winery, Frogs Leap, and enjoyed a beautiful tasting on the back patio of the Vineyard House which was designed like something out of a House Beautiful magazine. I took pictures of everything, including the inside of the women’s restroom, and am awaiting a reply email regarding the paint color used on all the interiors. I could have moved in.
  6. It was an enormous treat to attend a cooking class taught by a CIA chef/professor focused on cooking with fruit from around the world. You can attend classes at the CIA with out attending a full conference – check here for weekend classes.
  7. The Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives Conference presenters and workshops were a collection of Who’s Who in nutrition research and Hot Topics in healthcare and healthy cooking. So much rich and relevant information was presented, but the stand outs for me were a keynote address by Dr. Walter Willett (a leading researcher/champion of the Nurses Health Studies, only the largest & longest nutrition study, ever), Top Chef Masters’ Suvir Saran’s workshop on cooking with herbs and spices, and the Culinary Institute’s Registered Dietitian and nutrition professor Sanna Delmonico’s session on Helping Parents Raise Healthy, Happy Eaters.
  8. The food in the Napa Valley is exceptionally well done, and I recommend every single place we ate – all suggestions from friends with great taste: The Girl & The Fig (French, country style food in Sonoma), Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch (farm to table in St. Helena), Mustard’s Grille (American fare in Napa, lemon meringue pie, oh my), Gott’s Roadside (fancy burger joint, several locations in the valley). You need a reservation for all except Gott’s.
  9. We did the obvious musts on the way in and out of San Francisco and were glad we did – Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory, and an unplanned lunch on Fisherman’s Wharf at Crab House that we are still talking about. Musts at Crab House: crab chowder, whole roasted crab, and crab & shrimp Louie salad. San Fran is a walkable city, so you can believe that your indulgences are earned like we did!

Kefir Oat Pancakes with Berry Syrup

Every once in a while the stars align on a weekday morning; Tim doesn’t leave the house in the wee hours and just the right ingredients are in the frig to make a real breakfast. Those mornings are the best. Something about a good breakfast with your guy before the workday begins.

kefir-breakfast

The kefir in these pancakes provides a tang like buttermilk, but with the added bonus of probiotics that are great for gut health.  (I wonder if the probiotics lose some of their power in the cooking process? Tell me if you know!)

Fluffy, slightly sweet, a light crust on the top… I may never use another pancake recipe again. This mix is worthy of putting in a mason jar and giving as gifts. You would have to make the recipient promise to use kefir as the liquid because it’s creaminess puts them over the top.

Clean Tip: Kefir is a fermented milk product that tastes similar to yogurt. Try using kefir if you have digestive issues or while taking antibiotics. The probiotics help regulate the healthy bacteria in our guts easing digestion, and replace some of the good bacteria that antibiotics remove. Look for plain kefir (no added sugars or flavorings) and add your own sweetener if needed – mix in honey or fresh squeezed orange juice, or even blend some banana and cinnamon into your drink. The fuller fat kefir options you can find the better!

kefir-pancakes-afterSo much for leftovers.

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Kefir Oat Pancakes with Berry Syrup (makes 8 pancakes)

Pancakes:

  • 1 cup whole wheat, or gluten free flour of choice
  • 1/2 cup (heaping) rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut sugar (or whatever sweetener you prefer)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup kefir
  • 1/3-1/2 milk or water
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter or coconut oil (plus additional for cooking)

*Extras that work well in the mix – 1/4 teaspoon almond extract or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Syrup:

  • Heat 2 parts chopped and/or slightly mashed berries with 1 part maple syrup. Allow to cool and thicken slightly before serving. Serve on the side as the water in the berries can make your cakes soggy.

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together kefir, eggs, and melted butter. Add dry ingredients to the wet and stir just until moistened. Add an additional 1/3 to 1/2 cup milk or water to thin the batter as desired. Do not over mix, or your pancakes will lose their fluff.
  2. Heat a large skillet or griddle to medium heat. Lightly butter the skillet for each pancake. Using a 1/3 cup measurement, drop batter in skillet and cook until pancake reaches desired coloring (2 to 3  minutes). Flip pancakes and cook until browned. 

*I have made these several times now, and can vouch for both using left over batter kept in the frig AND freezing the cooked pancakes for later use (pop them in a toaster and place on the “defrost” setting to re-heat).