Raw Chia Pudding

Okay – let’s get this over with. All together now, “Ch… ch… ch… Chia!”

Now that we got that out of our systems, let’s look at the amazing little chia seed. A superfood, these beauties are believed to have been a staple in the Aztec and Mayan diets. Just 2 tablespoons provide 6g of fiber and are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids – an important detail for vegetarians. They have advantages over the flaxseed (another omega-3 choice of vegetarians) since chia seeds do not have to be ground up for the body to absorb their benefits. They also provide protein, as well as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc. They help the body balance blood sugar levels making them beneficial to diabetics. They are also great if you’re on a diet (and who isn’t) since they absorb moisture and expand in size giving the body a nice full feeling. That said, you should make sure you stay properly hydrated when using chia.

They have a light, nutty taste – very neutral in flavor – so they can be added to just about anything: cereal, oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt, salads…whatever you like. They can also be ground up and used in baking.

For many raw recipes, like a pudding, they are usually made into a gel first before being added to the other ingredients. Some use the gel in place of eggs when baking.

Here’s my recipe for a sweet treat that tastes amazingly like rice pudding – without the starch, the dairy, and the processed sugar. This is a delicious alternative and so nutritious it can be a meal (sometimes it’s my breakfast).

Raw Chia Pudding

Mix Chia Gel and Vanilla Cream Sauce together (recipes below) for an amazing treat. You can also just soak the chia seeds in almond milk (preferably raw) and vanilla with whatever sweetener you prefer. But if you have the time, make it with the Vanilla Cream Sauce – you won’t be sorry.

Chia Gel

2 Tbl chia seed

About ¼ cup of water, maybe a little more – you want the chia seeds to have enough water room to expand properly

Mix together and let sit until the mixture expands and becomes gelatinous – this will only take about 10-20 minutes.  Chia seed gel keeps well in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks, so make more and you will always have some on hand.

Vanilla Cream Sauce– recipe taken from Jennifer Cornbleet’s book, Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 people – by the way, I’ve substituted raw honey/maple syrup/stevia for the agave nectar that the original recipe calls for. )

1 cup soaked raw cashews (soaked for about 2 hours, rinsed)

¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons water

2 Tablespoons (or less – adjust to taste) – pure maple syrup/raw honey (or small amount of other sweetener like stevia -adjust quantity according to the sweetener you use)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract – the pure kind, not artificial – or seeds of 1 vanilla bean

Place all ingredients in a blender and process on high speed until smooth. Chill for at least 30 minutes (if you can keep from eating the whole thing right then and there).  Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Will keep for 5 days (trust me, it will be all gone before that).

By the way, cashew cream (vanilla cream sauce) is delicious with berries, especially strawberries. A great alternative to the various dairy creams out there.

The chia seed is making quite a comeback.  Everything I’ve read about chia is all good – no downside whatsoever. It’s been talked about on Dr. Oz, the Today Show, Dr. Andrew Weil’s website among other places. There are many other recipes out there as well on other blogs.  I recommend that you explore ways to include this little food that packs a powerful nutritious punch to your daily diet.


Raw Oatmeal with Superfoods

Raw Oat Groats

As I continue to add a variety of more raw foods to my diet, I continue to search for breakfast options that go beyond eating only fruit or green smoothies. During the winter months, I always loved making cooked steel cut oats. To shorten the cooking time in the morning, I would put the oats in a pot with water and let it sit overnight. The oats soften and voila! – they cook up in no time.  That led me to search for ways to have raw oatmeal using soaked oats. As I searched the internet, the recipe I liked the best was one by Angela Stokes Monarch.

I use her basic recipe, which includes the soaked oat groats (not rolled oats- these are the oats used for the steel cut variety), raw honey, lucuma powder (a low glycemic sweetener made from a fruit that grows in Peru), maca, cinnamon, and water. I add other superfoods like hempseeds, bee pollen, and chia seed gel, which is simply chia seeds in water. The Chia seeds soak up the water like a sponge in a matter of minutes. This gel can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. I’ll blog more about Chia in upcoming posts.

Here’s what I do:

I place about a ½ cup of organic oat groats in water to soak overnight. The next morning, in a blender I add:

the oat groats, rinsed after soaking

about 2 TBL of Chia seed gel

1 tsp lucuma powder

1 tsp raw honey

1 tsp maca powder

1 TBL hempseeds

½ tsp bee pollen

a bit of cinnamon

enough water to blend to desired consistency. This will be about ¼ – ½ cup of water. Add water slowly so you don’t add too much or the oatmeal will become watery.

You can top the oatmeal with extra cinnamon, sliced banana or apple, berries – whatever you like. You can buy oat groats in bulk at a ridiculously low cost. They are high in both fiber and protein. This is a really filling breakfast that will power you up till lunch. I love it!

Going Green

The book that started it all...

My first introduction to the concept of an all-raw diet came about 11 years ago when I was working for Barnes & Noble Distribution. The office was abuzz about a new book that had just arrived. That book was Juliano’s “RAW – The UNcook Book.” It was filled with beautiful images of foods that I couldn’t imagine weren’t cooked.  I was intrigued and bought a copy.

I was always interested in healthy eating, but this took things to a whole new level.  I had been a vegetarian for most of the previous decade.  I tried going vegan, but that lasted about a week.  To be honest, these recipes intimidated me. The lists of ingredients  (some I had never even heard of) were lengthy, with recipes of some of the ingredients on other pages of the book.  I had good results with a few of the simpler dishes, which required either juicing or simple assembly.  I ordered a dehydrator, but it mostly sat unused.  I had no clue how to approach this new way of eating.

Fast forward to a couple of years ago, and I was willing to give it another try.  By then, there was so much more information available.  I knew this wasn’t going to be something I would accomplish overnight – if ever.  But I figured that adding more raw foods, which are truly 100% natural and unprocessed, had to be a good thing.  I don’t remember how I learned about green smoothies, which are just blended leafy greens and fruit, but the thought of not having to clean that annoying mesh screen of a juicer every day really appealed to me.  Also, you keep the insoluble fiber that gets lost when you juice.  So I blended my very first green smoothie consisting of spinach, an apple, a banana and enough water to get the consistency I wanted.  I couldn’t believe how good it tasted. You can easily get 3-5 servings of fruits and greens in one smoothie, which comes out to anywhere between 20–32 ounces depending on the amounts of ingredients you use.

Got Green?

The basics of a green smoothie are listed below. Try to use as much organic produce as you can afford. If greens make you cringe a bit, I would recommend that you begin with more fruit to start so you can get used to tasting greens this way. By the way, there is tons of info out there on the green smoothie. Explore and have fun!

Base – about a cup of water (you can use fruit juice if you like, but I prefer water)

Leafy Greens – I love using romaine, spinach, green/red leaf lettuce, and tender spring greens. They are a bit lighter in flavor.  As you progress, you can add the stronger greens like kale and collards.

Something for creaminess – Banana, fresh or frozen, or ½ an avocado

Other sweet fruits –cored but unpeeled apples and pears, peaches, berries (you can use frozen), mango, pineapple, oranges – whatever you like.

Sometimes I add a little Stevia for extra sweetness.  You can also blend in ice if you like. The simplest green smoothie consists of romaine, bananas and water.  So simple and so good.

Green smoothies opened a door for me.  My odyssey continues and I’m happy to report that I’m no longer intimidated by Juliano’s book.