chia is a wonderful thing

I’m obsessed with making chia seed pudding.  (I know, I’m a little late to the party.)

It is seriously perhaps the easiest treat to whip up, and it’s packed with nutrition.

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I got started on the chia kick when I had a delicious chia seed pudding with blueberries from Kornerstone Cafe and Juice Bar, here in East Aurora. Ever since, I’ve been making them in pint jars and having one every few days.

I typically buy unsweetened vanilla almond/cashew milk, in which case I add 1 T of maple syrup to 6 ounces milk.  Recently, the co-op was out of the unsweetened variety, so I bought the original version (which has sugar) and omitted the maple syrup.  While the bag of chia seeds claims you only need 2 T of seeds to 6 ounces water, I found it didn’t gel enough.  I increased it to 3 T seeds to 6 ounces liquid and it turned out perfectly. (I also found other sources online who use the 3:6 ratio.)

One thing I did find was that MY chia seed pudding didn’t seem to ‘gel’ quite like the commercial varieties (those I’ve seen in stores, cafes, etc..).  Yes, my pudding gelled well and had the right consistency.  However, the seeds didn’t ever seem to swell or get as translucent as others I’ve seen.  This was especially true when I made the chia cherry jam.  Not a complaint, simply an observation.

I think what I love the most is that I’m having a really nutritious treat when I’m eating chia seed pudding.  For one serving, I’m getting approximately 240 calories (180 in seeds, 60 in almond milk), 9-12 grams protein, 15 grams fiber and 7.5 grams omega-3 fatty acids. That’s a great mid-afternoon snack!

 

siggi’s recipe contest: blueberry lemon cheesecakes

I’ve been eating siggi’s yogurt for awhile now, since it’s one of the few with very little added sugar and high in protein.  Most of the time I use plain and add my own fruit or granola, but their flavored yogurts are delicious!  I LOVE the orange & ginger flavor the best, and their pumpkin during the fall.  So good!

Siggi’s is Icelandic-style yogurt, called ‘skyr.’  They use a whopping FOUR times the amount of milk for each cup of yogurt, which their gives it a very thick texture and more protein.

When I found out siggi’s was holding a recipe contest for dietitians, you can bet I was super excited and couldn’t wait to enter.  I even had to fudge a little on my ‘no-added-sugar’ challenge since the recipe is due April 30.

I really wanted to make something unique (i.e. not a smoothie) with the yogurt, and was waffling between a baked item (like a muffin) and an Indian-inspired yogurt dressing for chicken when Andrew gave me the idea for cheesecake.  (Not sure why–he doesn’t even like cheesecake!)  Because siggi’s values real, simple ingredients and limiting added sugar, I attempted to make a simple (i.e. no bake), healthier (enter the yogurt) cheesecake without a lot of added sugar.  It’s just sweet enough to feel like dessert, yet tangy and light enough to be kind to your waistline.

Anyway, after a huge fail for the first version, I hit a home run with my second go-around.  A big THANK YOU to the Nyes, who served as my taste-testers!

Please note this recipe uses a variation of the cherry-chia jam I posted recently, so be sure to make the jam before you want to make and assemble the cheesecakes!

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Individual Blueberry Lemon Cheesecakes

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes plus 3 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Blueberry Jam:

1 C frozen blueberries, thawed

½ C pineapple juice

1 T chia seeds

Heat blueberries and pineapple juice over low heat and use a potato masher to crush fruit. Simmer 5-10 minutes. Mix in chia seeds and pour into a glass jar. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Crust:

¾ C pretzel ‘crumbs’

3 T butter, melted

1 T sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

Mix crumbs, butter, sugar and cinnamon together. Immediately add 3 T of crust to each ramekin and tamp down.

*For a crisper crust, bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. (Note: If using glass jelly jars, bake in a water bath to prevent glass from cracking.)

Filling:

4 oz siggi’s plain yogurt

4 oz cream cheese, softened

2 T honey

1 package unflavored gelatin

1 C boiling water

3 T lemon juice

zest of ¼ lemon

Empty gelatin packet into a glass measuring cup, pour in 1 cup boiling water and stir until gelatin has dissolved completely. Let stand 5 minutes. Mix yogurt, cream cheese, honey, lemon juice and zest in a large bowl with a hand mixer or in a food processer until well combined. Pour in ½ cup of the gelatin and mix until smooth.

To assemble:

  1. Cool crusts in ramekins/jars if pre-baking.
  2. Spoon 2 T of blueberry jam onto each crust and spread to cover completely.
  3. Ladle approximately ½ cup cream cheese mixture into each ramekin/jar and refrigerate 3 hours to set. Top with additional jam or blueberries as desired.

Disclaimer: siggi’s does not know who I am, nor am I being sponsored or reimbursed for this post.

#cookingwithsiggis #contest

 

who knew it was quinoa?

No one!

Would you believe me if I told you that at one point I had upwards of TWENTY different kinds of flours in my freezer?  (Thank goodness for extra freezer space in the basement.)

It all started with Good to the Grain, a cookbook that features multiple grains/flours, such as oat, amaranth, corn, buckwheat, etc…  The book came out in 2010, before these flours were available in most grocery stores, and I remember placing a rather large order with Bob’s Red Mill to get the lesser-known varieties (teff, kamut) shipped to my door.

Over the years, the amount of baking I’ve done has decreased for multiple reasons, including time constraints in my schedule, ascribing to a more ‘paleo’ style diet (no grains) and a desire to be healthier overall (decreasing added sugars). However, I really love to bake and do still indulge in both decadent treats and healthier baked goods from time to time.

I’m getting off topic.  Quinoa.  Back to quinoa.

ANYWAY, I’ve been experiencing an on-again, off-again push to–once and for all–use up all those alternative baking flours that are taking up space in my freezer and keep my collection limited to those flours used most often in paleo-style baking and that yield a good product.  The ‘baking-with-ancient-grains’ ride has been fun (and informative!), but I’ve gotta simplify.

Quinoa flour, which boasts it’s own chapter in Good to the Grain, has a strong flavor of…dirt.  I said it. In addition to the fiber and protein quinoa flour adds to your product, it also adds a certain ‘earthiness’ that’s hard to disguise. I’ve made quinoa-beet pancakes, quinoa-pumpkin pancakes and many other things and I can still taste the flour a bit more than I’d like, and I’m pretty accepting of less-than-perfect products.

So when I spied the recipe on the back of the bag for chocolate cupcakes, I realized I’d been going about this quinoa flour thing all wrong.  I needed an equally strong flavor to balance out the quinoa!  (Apparently, beets aren’t strong enough.)  CHOCOLATE.

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Bob’s Red Mill Sour Cream Fudge Cupcakes

Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
    Place the butter and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder. Sift together the sugar, quinoa flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the cooled cocoa mixture, egg yolks, vanilla and sour cream and blend well. Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold into batter.
  2. Spoon into a muffin tin lined with paper cupcake liners. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
    Makes 12 gorgeous cupcakes.

I actually ended up making these cupcakes twice in one weekend–once to bring to a friend’s house, topped with Ina’s Chocolate Frosting, and another batch to my sister-in-law’s house for the Super Bowl, topped with this peanut butter frosting from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

I was shocked at how well the cupcakes turned out!  Not a hint of quinoa flour at all!  (Not that it’s all bad, but you’ve gotta know your audience with some of these ‘healthy subs’ and believe me when I tell you I faced two tough crowds this weekend.

So, moral of the story: give quinoa a try!  Just make sure to throw in a little chocolate, too.