Friday, April 27, 2012

Chai Chia Pudding

I know, I know, chia puddings are all over the internet these days. But for good reason. The truth is, we need as many reminders as possible to amp up our Omega-3 consumption, and chia seeds are a great way to do it. Not to mention delicious. This essential fatty-acid is almost lost in the typical American diet, and our bodies truly suffer as a result. Omega-3's are pivotal in healthy brain function, growth and development,  as well as our ability to fight inflammation and ward off chronic disease. 

Here is the catch, there are a few forms of Omega-3's. DHA and EPA are found exclusively in cold water fish (anchovies, sardines, salmon, tuna etc.), while the form ALA is found in plant sources, such as flax, chia and hemp seeds, walnuts and leafy green vegetables. If consumed through plant sources (ALA), the body needs to convert the fatty acid to DHA and EPA, which most healthy bodies can do efficiently. However, if the systems are compromised or the resources are already being used to fight disease, it is often recommended to concentrate on the readily available forms found in fish sources. 

As you all know, I love dishes that can pass as breakfast or dessert, and this is one of my favorites. The ample spice mix gives it an Indian twist, which adds flavor interest as well as digestive power. Additionally, using cinnamon and coconut give the illusion of sweetness while actually lowering blood sugar levels. Pretty nifty. Everything is super flexible in this recipe, so feel free to cater it to your taste and pantry. In the batch pictured above, I threw in some roasted butternut squash (think pumpkin pie) that was in the fridge, and left out the syrup, for a breakfast version. Definitely helps start the day off right. 

Chai Chia Pudding
Serves 6

2 cups soy/almond/coconut milk
2/3 cups chia seds
3 pitted medjool dates
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8  tsp. cardamom
a dash of nutmeg
1/8  tsp. ground cloves
1 inch piece of ginger
1-2 tbs. maple syrup (to taste)
dash of sea salt
2 tbs. toasted coconut flakes
Goji berries for garnish (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a high-powered blender and process until smooth. Taste, and adjust sweetness with more syrup if needed. If you would like a stronger chai flavor, add additional spices to taste. Garnish with goji berries if desired

Relax. Eat Well.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Latin Quinoa with Lime Dressing

Sometimes grain salads can be a bit too heavy for me, which is why I often turn to quinoa for my whole grain needs. Light and fluffy, it always feels fresh and summery, regardless of the weather outside. I like the citrusy punch of the limes in this dressing, along with the earthy spiced undertones, and plenty of fresh vegetables. The olives add a saline touch, which offers punctuated flavor with limited salt. 

Quinoa has come into the spotlight in the US in the past ten years, despite its ancient roots in Incan land. Technically a seed, it is actually a close relative of both spinach and swiss chard, with quite an impressive nutritional profile. Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids, which is rare in the plant world. High in magnesium and manganese, quinoa has been shown to ease migraine headaches, relax blood vessels and promote cardiovascular health as well as offer antioxidant protection. 

One of my favorite things about quinoa is it's quick cooking time: about 15 minutes. If you set it to soak overnight, it will take a few minutes off the stove, and leave it even easier to digest and assimilate. During the winter, I love to cook quinoa with amaranth to make a breakfast porridge. It is also wonderful with loads of cumin, cilantro and corn as an alternative to Dirty Rice. Really, it is hard to go wrong.

Latin Quinoa with Lime Dressing

Serves 6 as a side


1 cup quinoa
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tsp coconut oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bunch chard, cut into bite-sized pieces, dice stems
1 red bell peppers, diced
1/2 cup green olives, roughly chopped
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup dried currants

1 1/2 limes, zest and juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped


Place the quinoa in a pot with 2 cups of broth or water. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Cover and let cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Transfer to a large bowl to cool. 

While the quinoa is cooking, heat the oven to 200 and place the pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet.  Lightly toast in the oven for about 15 minutes.  Set aside in a bowl.

In the meantime, heat a large pan on medium heat and add the coconut oil. Add the onion and sauté until tender. Add the garlic and chard, including the chard stems and sauté for another minute, adding a little water if necessary, until the chard is soft. Remove from the heat and add to the bowl of quinoa.

Add the red bell pepper, green olives, cherry tomatoes, and currants. Lightly toss together.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the lime zest, juice, cumin, and coriander. Add the olive oil a little at a time, while whisking to emulsify. Add to the quinoa and toss gently to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and mix in the cilantro and pumpkin seeds before serving.

Relax. Eat Well.