You can have your decadence and chia seeds too!

My first foray into the world of chia seed pudding was a touch to ambitious, like attempting a swan dive when all I had done was a splash inducing cannon ball. Despite my seemingly crunchy food habits, I had not yet acclimated my taste buds to the slightly nutty essence of chia seeds, nor their inherent sliminess; the raspberry chocolate pudding was a throw away disaster. For months the package of chia seeds sat untouched, until I got the courage to try them again by adding them to green smoothies.  Soon I was finding excuses to add a pinch here and there, when last week I decided it was time to try out the pudding again. You know, get back on the horse. It needed to be the healthy, but still naughty tasting, a pudding that felt like a decadent dessert, but could also be eaten in the morning, for it’s never too early for sweets.

First I needed a good base: something thick and substantial. I set about making chia gel which consists of 1/3 a cup of chia seeds and 2 cups of water. Chia seeds like liquid. Once submerged the seeds bulk up and slowly start excreting a gel. If you are on the fly you can make chia gel in 15 minutes, but it’s best to let it sit for at least two hours. The cool thing about chia gel is that you can keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three weeks—no rush to use it! It also starts to lose the nutty flavor (which is great for me) and starts to smell slightly sweet.

After I had my gelatinous base, I started to think of all the great things that go into a pudding. There is the richness, but also the creaminess. A duh: bananas and peanut butter. My secretly healthy, but delicious tasting pudding baby was conceived.

PB & Banana Chia Pudding (2 hearty batches)

½ cup of Chia Gel

2 Tbs of Peanut Butter

1 Sliced Banana

1 Small Capful of Vanilla Extract

A Couple Dashes of Cinnamon

Place all the ingredients into a food processor. Checking every so often on the banana slices, blend until you’ve reached a smooth consistency. Let it sit in the refrigerator for up to 1 hour to allow the flavors to incorporate and settle.

Filled with healthy fats (peanut butter), fiber and potassium (banana), and omegas (chia seeds), this treat is also the gift that keeps on giving. Much like flax seeds, chia seeds encourage (no, practically enforce) you to drink water, which in turn keeps you even more dehydrated and less bloated. I finished up the pudding before I went to work and easily drank a 32 ounce bottle of water. Honestly, how could it get any better?

Peel Away ❤ Jocellyn

What Can I say? I’m the Miami Heat of Cooking!

Yesterday I cooked. Furiously. I came back from 8 hours of multitasking on 2 photocopy machines—I could live without ever seeing the button “properties” again—and needed to calm down. For the most part, the kitchen is generally my safe haven. The sun was still out, so as someone who’s working on their food photography skills, I jumped into action. I managed to take most of my photos before it got dark, and I tinkered around with the poor man’s photo shop (Picasa) to get some editing ideas. A fun and delicious evening. Hints and tips are welcome!

We’ll start at the end. Yesterday I felt like eating dessert first. I found a really awesome recipe on Pinterest a few weeks back for raw vegan chocolate mousse (there are so many floating around with varying ingredients) and decided that just had to happen. If you haven’t ever had raw vegan chocolate mousse…you just have to. That’s it. End of  story. It’s so decadent and not that bad for you, which are all good things in my book. Technically this particular mix isn’t 100% raw vegan (it’s more like 98%) because we use honey, which some vegans do not eat because it may harm bees, but it’s pretty darn close. If you want to go the full monty, soak some Medjool dates (or any dates, I suppose, but you can find those at a local co-op) in water for at least 2 hours and that will be your sweetener. At the last moment, sprinkle some berries on top and enjoy. I took the pictures in a pretty cup, but I’ll be honest and let you in on a secret. I actually ate some of it out of the food processor. Blade and all. My justification: it saves on dishes!

I won’t lie. The banana is mildly suggestive. PG-13.

My personal favorite!

 

I then decided my night needed a more visceral angle. My response was to grill up some red meat. Now when I take the time out to buy steak, which only happens once or twice a month, I go all out on the prep. Maybe it’s a rub, or a glaze, or both, but I very rarely slap it onto the grill and say “there.” My delicious mousse needed an equally delicious mate. I married my love off all things balsamic and coffee rubbed (although I don’t actually like to drink coffee) and found this delicious recipe. I only had plain balsamic and olive oil, but I used the other spices. Trust me, I don’t have flank steak money (a close cousin to McDonalds money), but I was able to turn this okay cut of meat into something delicious. For a side I made something I call: lazy man (or woman) “guac”. Slice up ½ an avocado, ½ a Roma tomato, and sprinkle with garlic sea salt flakes. No need to mash (unless you want to.) Bon appe-yum-yum. Note: I took this photo so you could have an idea of what I was eating. It got a little dark out by the time it was all said and done.

 

And finally, to tie everything together, I decided I needed a stiff drink. During my last week at Goodwill I bought a Cocktail book, which has proved to be most useful—or perhaps most wallet breaking, as time goes on.

My SAT reading comprehension skills are really coming in handy.

I guess we shall see. I found a recipe for a frozen daiquiri, so I made one from scratch and not that bottled stuff! I admit, it was a little strong, but prepared drinks aren’t necessarily something you should guzzle down. Nope, they need to be savored. Raw vegan chocolate mousse? Well, that’s another story. A very messy story.

 

Peel Away ❤

Jocellyn

Chia Take Two

Several months ago I did a video about my obsession with trying new things. I enthusiastically jumped on the Chia Seed bus and got off a stop later. Ugh. The taste was so unsavory. So nutty. Which, I admit, was what the packaging said, but I didn’t expect it to be that bad. Fast forward to now, and with moving in and buying a new bed I haven’t had the money to buy an abundance of fruits and veggies for juicing, and I didn’t have any spinach to make a nutritious green smoothie—bananas, water, and raspberries seemed a little lackluster.

Hankering for something to kick start my system, (I’m still feeling like I’ve had the rug pulled out from under me since the dairy incident) I unearthed the bag of chia from the dark confines of the cupboard. “You better be worth it, Chia seeds, because this is the last banana,” I’m pretty sure I said out loud. I blended together a banana, water, handful of berries, and a tablespoon (the recommended dosage) of chia seeds. Chia seeds expand in liquid, so I let my drink settle in the refrigerator for 15 minutes while I went about making dinner.

It didn’t smell nutty, so I took a tentative sip. Deliciousness from the Aztec running gods.  Chia, I guess you weren’t so bad after all…in small tablespoon doses. What else could I do with these delicious, tiny seeds? I decided I was going to make some chia pudding—a popular way to consume chia—but my way, not using the directions that had let me astray months back. The outcome was delicious, so I bring you the recipe. As usual, I sort of throw things together depending on how much flavor I want, so besides a few measured out ingredients, feel free to guesstimate depending on your taste buds (and how much nutrition you are going for!)

Jocellyn’s Snappy Chia Pudding

(or)

(Insert your name) Snappy Chia Pudding.

Chia Seeds

Water

Vanilla extract

Raspberries (fresh or frozen)

Cocoa Powder

Cinnamon (Whenever I use cinnamon I think of that Apple Jack’s commercial with the Rastafarian cinnamon stick that skateboards and says “here I come I am cinn-a-mon”)

In a small bowl put in 1 tablespoon of chia seeds. Add in 3 tablespoons of water and swirl together. Place in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes. The longer you leave it the more water will be absorbed, but for this treat 15 minutes is just fine.

While this is going on grab a handful of raspberries. If you are new to chia seeds, and not sure how you’ll like the flavor, add in a few more raspberries for good measure. If they are fresh, awesome. If you be a broke person like me then microwave some frozen ones for 1 minute.  Sprinkle some cocoa powder over the raspberries. I didn’t use a measuring device for this. In fact, I couldn’t even give you a ball park estimate of how much (or little) I used. Let your at-the-moment taste buds be your guide. Set aside.

After 15 minutes, take the chia gel out of the refrigerator and add in a small amount of vanilla extract. Mine comes in a tiny jar, so I used one capful of the equally tiny top. Don’t go to crazy with this stuff.

Combine the forces into one bowl and mix together, ensuring you don’t get a huge chunk of chia. Add a little sprinkle of cinnamon and voila! You now have a seemingly indulgent, but healthy treat.

Peel Away & Enjoy ❤

Jocellyn

Fuel the Body. Feed the Soul.

I know my way around a spoon…

This is a phrase I used in a previous post and something I believe in strongly. Your body needs the proper mix of vitamins, nutrients, calories, and foods to run properly. This is of the utmost importance, however that doesn’t mean what you eat needs to be “bland.”

Last week I stumbled upon this really cool blog called The Pescetarian & the Pig. Pescetarianism (forgoing meat but eating seafood) was a lifestyle I followed for 11 months. I’ve strayed away from that, but as summer rolls around I find myself wanting to eat less meat, so I was more than excited to see some tasty pesco recipes to reignite my tastey-buds.

Note: Yes, a diet is like a romance. You need to add some spark every now and then, lest it fizzle!

Although I didn’t use the scallop recipe on the blog, I was inspired to go out and buy some for tonight’s dinner. Purchasing jumbo scallops is not something to be taken lightly, as they are pretty expensive buggers (16.99/lb!) I mixed and matched ingredients until I came up with a recipe that not only sounded tasty and clean, but also had overlap with what I was already buying. I revised this recipe to suit my needs. I seared some scallops—yes, I got to use some ghee!—and laid them over a “salad” of segmented grapefruit, Roma tomatoes, scallions, lime juice, and a dash of hot sauce, with some salt & pepper to taste. The dish was filling, yet light, and extremely flavorful. It was well worth the money, and the cheap bottle of white wine we bought, because the standard glass of milk just doesn’t cut it when you’ve put time and money into an elegant meal.

El “salad”

Thankfully, as stated above, the meal was light enough for us to squeeze in a delicious dessert, which I’ve been waiting to concoct for a few days. As you may know, I love Tara Stiles, and when she started her Tara Eats blog I practically fainted. There was finally an easy way for me to follow her delish & healthy recipes! A recent recipe piqued my interest (and belly.) Plus it was simple, and simple and measurement free is the surest way to my heart. Oh, what a pain it is to wash all those measuring cups and spoons!

“Check out the recipe (Scroll down a smidgen!)

You’ll need

1 small-ish dark chocolate bar (thanks Heather Berger for the birthday gift!)

2 handfuls frozen organic blueberries

1 banana

A sprinkle of cinnamon

Now What

Combine chocolate and berries in a sauce pan

Simmer

When all melted and gooey combine banana

Melt some more

Stir continually

Serve it up with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top

Makes 2 servings”

Homemade Double Boiler. 100% necessary for melting chocolate!

A pinch of salt to bring out the flavor of the chocolate! Try it sometime.

 

 

If this isn’t a prime example of feeding your soul then I don’t know what is! So, here’s the deal. You can feed your soul with takeout, ice cream pints, Reese’s Cups (guilty as charged…Like, death row guilty), or you can make desserts/treats like this. Berries are still healthy, dark chocolate (in moderation) is great for you, and bananas are just delicious goodness. You end up making a completely decadent dessert without really sacrificing much in the health realm, and your taste buds aren’t the wiser. And even if the recipe you try out isn’t healthy, I think there is something to be said for making a treat yourself. You’re putting time into it, and  interacting with your food beyond scarfing it down. And I like to think you burn a few calories going the few feet to the fridge and stove…yeah? No? haha. Just kidding! But you get what I mean.

How do you fuel your body and feed your soul?

Peel Away ❤

Jocellyn

I scream, you scream, we all scream for raw vegan ice cream!!!

I don’t care that winter is nipping at my heels up here in VT, because I’m still going to be making ice cream. I find ice cream to be a food group people either love to a point of unhealthy obsession or simply dabble in. Living in VT means swearing your allegiance to Ben & Jerry’s. They’re the iconic ice cream company that created Cherry Garcia and more recently Schweddy Balls, along with several other flavors. What tasty calorie and sugar-laden treats. And then there are the “creemies” (Vermont-speak for soft serve ice cream) that stand not so erect in the summer heat; ah, delicious. But should we become so complacent with these treats? Can we not make our taste buds go “woo hoo!” and our intestines go “thank you”? I know for a fact that we can, and it doesn’t involve buying the low-fat, high sugar brands companies are hocking at us.  It’s time to push those sleeves up, break out the appliances, and prepare our taste buds for ultimate tantalization!

This past summer I discovered the joy of raw vegan ice cream. For every really hard-core never stray from the most natural raw vegan guru on Youtube, there are 10 more who lead perfectly healthy lives that have no qualms about having a little (sweet) fun in the kitchen. What I love about making your own “ice cream” (it really isn’t ice cream because we won’t use cream) is that it is fast, simple, healthy, and just as decadent as the brands we’ve become accustomed too. My first foray into these scrumptious treats was with avocado & coconut. I enjoyed it—still do – but lately I’ve been craving something naughtier, and thus the peanut butter and banana ice cream was born!

What you’ll need:

–          Food processor. Only use a blender if you’re fortunate enough to have a really powerful one like a Vitamix or Blendtec and want to make a big batch

–          3 really ripe bananas. Throw them in a drawer for a few days to speed up the ripening process. If you have an apple throw it in as well, as apples make other fruits ripen faster

–          2 Tablespoons of all natural peanut butter

–          2 Tablespoons of cocoa powder

–          Patience: it takes awhile for a banana to freeze!

Note: All these amounts, besides the bananas, can be tinkered with to your liking. Use more or less of either to get the taste you desire the most. You can also taste-test during the mixing to see what you want to add more of.

Directions:  Slice the bananas, put them on a plate, and pop them in the freezer. Make sure you slice and then freeze or else life will be very miserable. I froze my bananas for about a day. If they chill that long then let them sit out for 15 minutes before you throw them in the food processor. If you only have them in the freezer for 6-8 hours then don’t or else your ice cream might get a little soupy.  After you’ve gotten them off the plate (you might need a knife to slide them off) put them in the food processor with the other ingredients. If your appliance is really struggling you might want to add a spoonful of yogurt (if you don’t mind it being a little non-vegan) or a splash of almond or rice milk. The bananas will first hit a crumbly state (remember those awesomely overpriced Dippin’ Dots?) and then it will become creamy like ice cream. Scoop it out. Place it in a bowl. Share with a friend for guilt free pleasure. This is just as decadent as store bought ice creams without all the additives, preservatives, and sugar. Go us!

 

Now peel away those banana peels and get to scoopin’

Jocellyn

 

Ps: In all honesty I think the most fun I have with this blog is making up the “peel away” phrase at the end 😉