Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

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In the category of breakfasts that verge on desserts, chia seed pudding is one of the healthiest options, if you can get past its slightly odd quality. When I think of chia, I inevitably think of Chia Pets (ch-ch-ch-chia!). But it turns out that, in addition to sprouting verdant faux-fur, the seeds are a good source of fiber, omega-3, calcium, antioxidants, and protein. Ancient Aztecs and Mayans used to eat them for their "magical" energy-boosting properties. Also, because the seeds absorb about ten times their weight in water, they're a perfect thickening agent for a nutrition-packed pudding.

I tried making my first batch of chia seed pudding this weekend, and I was surprised at how simple it was to prepare: just mix together the ingredients and refrigerate overnight. It's difficult to describe the texture -- it bears a faint resemblance to tapioca, with a little more crunch. After a few bites, I was hooked. I followed this Food Network recipe almost exactly, though I'd recommend halving or eliminating the maple syrup at the end; in-season strawberries are sweet enough! 

Ingredients

1 cup vanilla-flavored unsweetened almond milk
1 cup 2% Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons of maple syrup (+ 2 optional teaspoons for strawberries)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 pint strawberries

Instructions

1) Whisk the almond milk, yogurt, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and salt in a bowl.
2) Whisk in the chia seeds.
3) Let the mixture stand for 30 minutes.
4) Give the mixture a quick stir and refrigerate overnight.
5) Slice the strawberries. (Optional: stir with 2 teaspoons of maple syrup.)
6) Spoon the pudding into containers and top with the strawberries.

The recipe serves 2-4; from my experience, it made a hearty breakfast for two, with no leftovers to spare. There are plenty of chia seed pudding recipes out there, so experiment away. 

A Spring Salad

After promising myself to eat a lot more variety and a little less of my favorite pasta, I decided to try this spring salad recipe on Urbanara's Journal. It calls for a rainbow of veggies I don't incorporate often enough in my diet -- zucchini, asparagus, radishes -- as well as whole grains and a sweet, citrusy kick.

This salad will give you a huge boost of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Just take a look at asparagus: it's in season right now and loaded with vitamins A, C, E and K as well as folate and, surprisingly, protein. 

I followed Urbana's recipe with a couple of modifications: I substituted red peppers for red onions and cracked wheat for bulgar.

I also made the orange vinaigrette according to the recipe, using orange juice, apple cider vinegar, olive oil and honey. Many say that asparagus and apple cider vinegar prevent bloating, so eating a salad like this is good for your tummy, inside and out. I'm not complaining! Here's a shorthand version of the steps:

1. Cook 1/2 cup of grain and blanch the asparagus. 

2. Slice all of your veggies and mix them with the corn and grain. I julienned the zucchini using a vegetable peeler.

3. Make the dressing using 1/2 cup orange juice, 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar, 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tbsp. honey and a dash of salt and pepper. Drizzle on the salad, toss and serve. 

This salad is proof that it's possible to cook quick, healthy meals on a budget. I made a huge batch that served three people; all of the ingredients were organic and totalled to just $10.

Have a go-to healthy recipe? Please share!

Food Shopping

Transient

Given how much I love cooking and eating, it's no surprise that I also love shopping for food. Though I'm not a picky eater, I try to be selective about what I buy and enjoy the whole process of exploring the aisles and trying new things. I know I'm not the only one (just search "food haul" on YouTube... you've been warned)!

Yesterday I went shopping to get ingredients for a unseasonal dish: matzo ball soup. The flu has hit my nearest and dearest, so I decided to whip up a huge batch. Is it weird that I consider this a comfort food? (Slightly less weird if I told you I have Jewish ancestry?) A few more ordinary items in my grocery bags: Swiss Müesli (a breakfast staple), sugar plum tomatoes and fuji apples (delicious snacks), two varieties of Theo Chocolate (the best chocolate ever, as I've told you before; I chose salted almond and spicy chili), and tulips (just because). Also, I couldn't resist stopping in the beauty section of Whole Foods, where I picked up the Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Cream, and though I have yet to perfect the method (it says "press and roll?"), I'm liking it so far and will keep you updated!