Maple Fig Chia Seed Pudding

Yesterday was magazine day! Call me old school, but I love coming home to these glossy pages. Browsing magazines with a glass of wine = ultimate indulgence.

magazines

Recently, I picked up some chia seeds at Marshalls on the cheap. I tend to be a toe dipper when it comes to the latest healthy food fads, but chia seeds have been calling my name. They’re a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, contain 18% of the daily amount of recommended calcium, and give you super human powers contain a good amount of protein. But don’t take my word for it, Dr. Oz says they rock, so it must be true!

My mission: turn Fall into a chia seed pudding. (Turns out when you mix them with liquids, they create a gel like consistency, much like tapioca pudding.) So I consulted one of my favorite books for a little inspiration…

Flavor Bible

Multi-tasking at it’s finest: researching flavors while icing my knee!

I’ve been having a bit of a flirtation with figs every time I go to the store or farmer’s market. I am not a fan of fig newtons at all, I think they’re pretty gross, but these weird little fruits have been enticing me with their odd shape and murmurs of sweet/savory flavor possibilities.

And so, a pudding was formed.

Maple Fig Chia Seed Pudding

Maple Fig Chia Seed Pudding 

  • 1 cup Coconut Dream Milk (or liquid of your choice)
  • 4 figs
  • 1 to 1.5 Tbsp maple syrup (adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon  (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp chia seeds
  • toasted walnuts for garnish (optional)

Directions: Combine figs and coconut milk and blend until smooth (I used an immersion blender, but either kind would work).

Add in the maple syrup in increments, blending and tasting as you go. Some varieties of figs are sweeter than others, so you may need less sweetener in the long run.

Add in 1/4 tsp of cinnamon and blend, if desired. This tastes great without the cinnamon, but the aroma of the cinnamon really makes it smell and taste like Fall to me.

Once you’ve combined all ingredients and are satisfied with the flavors, add in the chia seeds and blend. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, and stir. Let sit for a few more minutes, stir again. This to avoid the gel-like chia seeds clumping together to create a weird consistency.

Once you’ve stirred a few times, let the pudding sit for 30-60 minutes before eating (or overnight if you plan on eating it for breakfast). I stuck mine in the fridge because I love cold pudding, but if you were going to eat it soon, it could also hang out on the counter for a bit.

When I was ready to eat, I topped with a bit of toasted walnuts because I love nuts.

Maple Fig Chia Seed Pudding

Serves 2 breakfast-sized portions or 4 small snack-size portions.

Enjoy!

Always, Sierra

What’s your favorite flavor of pudding? I love a good home-made banana pudding! And by home-made I mean jello haha.

New to making chia seed pudding? Check out this post.

Chocolate Cherry Banana Recovery Smoothie

I’ve never been able to trust cherries. They look so plump and red and juicy, beckoning me to taste them. And when I do? Nothing but a mouth full of tartness when I wanted sweetness. Little hussies.

So, a couple nights ago, when the Mr. talked me into trying some, I had my doubts. I had been burned before, you know? Only they were tasty! And when I got home from my run yesterday afternoon I knew they were just begging to be used in a smoothie.

Ingredients: gathered.

Chocolate Cherry Banana Smoothie

Combine the following…

15-20 cherries

1/2 a banana

1 tsp cocoa powder

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

Almond milk to desired consistency (not pictured)

A touch of vanilla extract or sweetener if you like

…and blend! (Anyone else too lazy to remove stickers from their kitchen appliances?)

Chocolate Cherry Banana Smoothie

If I have it on hand, I’ll throw in baby spinach, chia seeds and/or flax-seed, but even without those trendy ingredients this smoothie is tasty.

finished product

This is the extent me staging food pictures: take them by the front door because that’s the only place that gets natural light in the evenings. Don’t judge.

The ingredients in this smoothie make it a great choice for a recovery snack after a tough workout. Antioxidants in cherries have been shown to have anti-inflammatory benefits by reducing levels of nitric oxide, and have even been shown to help those suffering from arthritis. A recent study suggests that bananas are as beneficial as consuming sports drinks during workouts. Even if you think that’s pushing it, bananas are rich in potassium, a mineral that athletes naturally deplete while sweating. Low levels of potassium can lead to muscle cramps and blood pressure issues, which does not sound fun at all. And, of course, the protein in Greek yogurt makes it a great choice for a recovery smoothie. By sticking with plain Greek yogurt, you’re avoiding all the extra sugar in flavored varieties and getting your carbs from the whole fruit instead.

The recovery powers work especially well when you prop your feet up and watch one of your favorite guilty pleasures.

Smoothie and Extreme Makeover Weight Loss

Always, Sierra

What fruit do you have a love-hate relationship with?

Favorite smoothie ingredients?

Do you have a guilty pleasure TV show?

No-Bake Cherry Almond Coconut Energy Bar Recipe

One of my goals this year is experimenting in the kitchen with the idea of food as fuel. I’m asking my body to do things it’s never done (hill repeats, intervals, moving faster than a snail’s pace) and I’d like to make sure I’m doing everything I can to help it succeed. I’m not a picky eater, I like to stuff my face with all the food, but unfortunately not all the food makes my body happy.

I thought I’d start my experimenting with something that sounded simple, and it doesn’t get much simpler than no-baking. After researching online and finding endless possibilities, I decided to throw something together with what we already had on hand: dried cherries, dates, shredded coconut, flaxseed and almonds.

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1. Spread the almonds out in a single layer, and toast at 350F for 12-15 minutes. When they’re done, the almonds will get darker in color, and smell toasty and delicious. (Sidenote: that’s my expensive pizza stone I bought right before the Mr. and I got off our our homemade pizza kick #failsauce)

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2. While the almonds are toasting, combine the dried cherries, dates, coconut flakes and flaxseed in a food processor.

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3. When the almonds are toasted, remove and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Add them to the food processor.

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4. Start processing!

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5. Realize that you crammed the food processor just a little too full, and remove half of the mixture. Continue food processing in batches, a few minutes for each batch. Keep an eye on the dried fruit as it tends to clump together. The consistency of the mixture will become slightly sticky with small bits of nuts. It’s okay if some of the bits are larger than others, because all the bits are delicious.

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6. Line a pyrex dish or baking tray with parchment paper, and empty the mixture into the tray. Press the mixture down flat, creating a level layer.

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7. Chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. I left them in for 2 hours and they came out firm and easy to cut. I portioned them into 16 small squares, and promptly popped one  in my mouth. I was not disappointed…tasty!

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8. I portioned out half for the freezer, and half for the refrigerator. I put parchment paper between bars to more easily separate them and grab individual bars as needed. The longer they’re out of the fridge before you eat them, the gooier they’ll get.

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What I’d do differently: Find a way to work more protein into the bars. Add more flaxseed, probably a 1/2 cup total. For a stronger coconut flavor, I’d up the amount of shredded coconut to a 1/2 cup.

When I’d eat these: During a hike, before or after a long run, as a snack when I’m craving a large cookie, on a random Tuesday afternoon. The dried fruit puts them on the sweet side so they also work as a healthier dessert option.

Cherry Almond Coconut Energy Bars

Ingredients

  1. 1 cup dates, pitted
  2. 1 cup dried cherries
  3. 1 cup almonds, toasted or raw
  4. 1/4 cup coconut flakes, sweetened or unsweetened per taste
  5. 1/4 cup flaxseed

Toast almonds. Combine all ingredients in food processor. Process for 2-5 minutes, until consistency is sticky and well mixed. Press mixture into a parchment-lined tray, creating a level layer. Chill for 1-2 hours, cut into desired portions and enjoy!

Nutrition Info for 1 bar, 16 servings total (using online calculator): Calories 130, Fat (g) 5.9, Carbohydrates (g) 18.25, Protein (g) 2.8

Always, Sierra

What’s your favorite brand of energy bar?

Do you ever make homemade ones?

Quick Dinner Recipe: Build Your Own Wraps

I love to dance around my kitchen with a glass of wine cook. Sometimes I spend hours in the kitchen, dirtying all the pots and pans, creating a masterpiece of a meal with an interesting and complex favor profile, worthy of judgment by any Chopped chef. 

And sometimes I’m so hangry I just want food in my stomach as quickly as possible.

hangry

{source – my bearded pigeon etsy shop}

When I’m focused on making a speedy meal, I worry less about putting together a “composed” dish, and more about making sure I’m getting a good balance of carbs, protein and healthy fats. (I’ve been told I over think things once or twice.) Build your own wraps are a great way to do this and a fun way to be creative in the kitchen.

1. Take stock of whatever veggies you have, and chop ’em up.

veggies

I had zucchini, carrots, onion and red bell pepper. Turns out a red bell pepper is just a green bell pepper that has had time to fully ripen. Being ripe makes red bell peppers sweeter and a thousand times more delicious, and explains why the green ones cry at night when no one’s looking.

2. Heat olive oil in a pan on medium-high, and saute veggies, five to ten minutes. Season with salt.

veggies1

veggies2

I went with two pans to saute in because I had so many veggies and I didn’t want to overcrowd my pan. Overcrowding can mean steamed mushy vegetables instead of lovely sautéed vegetables with a bit of color on them.

This is a great place to add variety. I kept it simple by seasoning with a little salt, but feel free to get jiggy with it. Other ideas: sriracha, red pepper flakes, cumin + nutmeg, herbs de Provence, fresh herbs, etc.

3. While the veggies are sauteing, gather your sides and start building!

toppings

Two wraps for me because I like to eat all the things. I used blue corn and flax seed tortillas, and spread one with Sabra Hummus, and one with a quarter of an avocado.

guac 

Next, lay down a bed of spinach, or any greens, and top with a protein of your choice. I added half a leftover chicken thigh and half a hard-boiled egg on each. You could also use tofu or tempeh.

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4. Check on the veggies, which should be done by now. Combine them in one pan to let the flavors mingle for a minute, especially if you got fancy with the seasoning.

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5. Pile on the veggies and you’re done! I like to stuff my wraps so full they can’t actually be wrapped. The tastiness will not be contained!

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Don’t want tortillas? Try using quinoa, brown rice, or a baked sweet potato as a substitute.

And that’s a wrap! (Come on…you knew it was coming.)

Always, Sierra