Archive | May, 2014

HOMEMADE CHIA PODS: VANILLA CINNAMON, CHOCOLATE & BLUEBERRY (GLUTEN-FREE, DAIRY-FREE, & VEGETARIAN)

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Have you heard of Chia Pods? They’re these cute little things that look like yogurt, but they’re actually a chia seed pudding. A coworker of mine had them and I was intrigued, since chia seeds are the current “it” food and I’ll try anything to create an easy healthy eating habit that I can actually maintain. Okay, it might’ve been the really cute packaging (that little orange spoon in the lid!) that caught my eye but still. The healthy factor still stands. I hunted the Chia Pods down at our local Fresh Market, but YOWZA. I was kind of taken aback by the price. They run $3-3.60 per pod here in Columbus, depending on where you shop. I used to think the Fage Greek yogurt w/ honey thingies were expensive at $1.50 a pop, but I think I eventually just got used to the price. Is $3/pod not that bad and I’m prematurely freaking out b/c I’m an occasional cheapskate? Maybe? But I tried one anyway. I thought “I’ll try it, see how I like it, and if I’m obsessed then I’ll figure something out.”

Well, I tried it. It was good. I wasn’t like OH MY GOD I’M IN LOVE but I was in love with the healthy aspects of this little thing. Chia seeds are packed with Omega-3s, and according to the company’s website, one pod contains your daily recommended dose of Omega-3’s. Take that! That’s pretty awesome. Plus, there’s fiber and protein. The other thing I love? They’re made with simple, real ingredients. SO SIMPLE, in fact, that I saw the side of the container where the ingredients were listed and thought “Really? That’s it?? Hell, I could make this myself.” So I did just that. I can’t remember if I did it that night or the next day, but I knew I had chia seeds sitting around, some almond milk in the fridge, and really, everything else on top would be a bonus.

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I started out slow. I used 1/4 cup chia seeds and slowly added liquid. First 1/4 cup almond milk, then I let it sit. A few minutes later, I had a cemented lump of chia. Not what I was going for. Bring on another 1/4 cup of almond milk…then another 1/4 cup… and pretty soon, I was at just over 1 cup of almond milk. A sprinkle of cinnamon, a little honey, and by golly, it was actually really good. I even added a 1/2 tsp of instant coffee, being inspired by the Coffee Bean flavor of Chia Pod. I divided the mixture into little jars and let them gel overnight. The next day, I had a pretty satisfying chia snack that’s an awesome copycat of the store-bought Chia Pod. After making the first batch, I tested my next versions, refined the proportions, and had a recipe for chocolate and blueberry chia puddings.

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While these things still aren’t “cheap,” (because chia seeds are kind of ‘spendy) they are a lot more sensible on the pocketbook, especially if you have 15 minutes in your schedule for prep. And yes, they really do only take about 15 minutes—amazing, right? I have three recipes for you. I like to think of the Vanilla Cinnamon as a good “base” recipe (minus the cinnamon, if need be) if you want to play around with flavor variations. Feel free to experiment and figure out other combinations!

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::: VANILLA CINNAMON CHIA PUDDING POD :::

Yield: 3 – almost 4 oz (just under 1/2 cup)

• 1 cup + 2 tbsp vanilla-flavored almond milk (Note: if you want to use unsweetened or “original” flavored almond milk, just increase the amount of honey you use)
• 1/4 cup chia seeds
• 1 1/2 tsp local honey
• 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Pour almond milk into medium bowl. Sprinkle chia seeds into almond milk, stirring well. Add honey and cinnamon, stirring for 1-2 minutes to make sure everything is incorporated. Let sit for 5 minutes, to allow chia seeds to start the swelling process. Pour mixture into a large measuring cup and pour into 4-oz mason jars. You will yield 3 jars that are just slightly under 1/2 cup in volume. Let jars sit several hours or overnight before eating. 

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::: CHOCOLATE CHIA PUDDING POD :::
Yield: 3 – almost 4 oz (just under 1/2 cup)

• 1 cup + 2 tbsp vanilla-flavored almond milk (Note: if you want to use unsweetened or “original” flavored almond milk, just increase the amount of honey you use)
• 1/4 cup chia seeds
• 1 1/2 tsp local honey
• 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Repeat same process as above, replacing cinnamon with cocoa powder.

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::: BLUEBERRY CHIA PUDDING POD :::
Yield: 4 – almost 4 oz (just under 1/2 cup)

• 3/4 cup blueberries (about 115 g by weight)
• 1 cup + 1/4 cup vanilla flavored almond milk (Note: if you want to use unsweetened or “original” flavored almond milk, just increase the amount of honey you use)
• 1/4 cup chia seeds
• 4 1/2 tsp local honey

Puree blueberries in food processor, adding almond milk. Pour mixture into medium bowl. Sprinkle chia seeds into blueberry/almond milk mixture, stirring well. Add honey, stirring for 1-2 minutes to make sure everything is incorporated. Let sit for 5 minutes, to allow chia seeds to start the swelling process. Pour mixture into a large measuring cup and pour into 4-oz mason jars. You will yield 4 jars that are just slightly under 1/2 cup in volume. Let jars sit several hours or overnight before eating.

I know, they look pretty weird. They look like funny little fish eggs or frog eggs or whatever you want to call them. The texture is jiggly and hilarious, but promise me to just give it a chance. I don’t eat tapioca pudding but supposedly they’re kind of like tapioca pudding. They’re smooth, but ever so slightly crunchy. I mean, for the health benefits and simple ingredients? How can you NOT give them a whirl??? Make yourself a batch and let me know what you think. And better yet, try your own variation and share what you created!

CURIOUS TRAVELER SHANDY

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I’m not a big beer person. I mean, I like beer just fine. When it’s football season, sure. Hand me a cold brewski (does saying “cold brewski” make me incredibly uncool??? #rollingwithit). But even then, I’m more likely to have a bottle of wine in tow. Most of the time, I ignore it. I just don’t care. I want wine, whiskey, or gin. When summer rolls around though, and all those lighter, crisper, citrus-y summer beers come out, I get a little excited—I’m not going to lie. I love a cold glass of Goose Island’s Sofie—it’s so tart and bubbly, like a beer champagne. Dogfish Head’s Festina Peche??? Yessssss SO GOOD. And now there’s a new fave in our hearts. A little guy called Curious Traveler Shandy, from Traveler Beer Co. Curious Traveler is America’s first craft/artisinal shandy! Cool, huh? It’s a wheat ale brewed with fresh lemon and lime for a powerful-but-smooth, citrus-y, lemonade-y beer hybrid.

Image via travelerbeer.com

We first tried it at a local tap room in our neighborhood, Zauber Brewing. Short story: Zauber brews their own beer, but due to certain restrictions, the amount they can brew is super limited for the time being, and therefore sells out super fast. This was one of those times—the only beers on tap were everything but their house brews. That’s fine by me, because that led to us trying Curious Traveler on draught (accessorized with a rather delightfully handle, I might add!). It’s been love ever since. We took home a small growler that day. The other thing I love about this beer is that the ABV is only 4.4%, which to me means I can drink it for awhile on a sweltering hot, summer day without getting knocked over the head with a sneakily super strong beer, like some craft beers tend to do. As you all know, we like our strong drinks! But when the heat is on and the sun is out, it’s nice to have something a little lighter if you’re chillin’ at a barbecue. A girl needs to maintain, you know what I’m sayin’?

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There are a few more flavors in the Traveler family, two of which are summery: Illusive Traveler, a grapefruit shandy, and Time Traveler, a strawberry shandy. I don’t care how girly these beers sound, I am psyched to try them and so is George. I’m 99.9% sure we’re going to try hunting one down today, and if not today, within the next day or two. I’m dying for the Illusive grapefruit shandy. I love—nay—I adore grapefruit, and anytime something is grapefruit-flavored my taste buds immediately send a “OOH OOH!!!! ME! ME!” signal to my brain. I can’t help it anymore, so I just embrace it. But if we only come across the strawberry Time Traveler Shandy, I’ll be just as thrilled!

When we find our next Traveler companion, we will be sure to report back! In the meantime, do yourself a favor and hunt down these shandies down. Give them a whirl, and let us know what you think. Better yet, tell us this—what’s your favorite summertime brew that we should try?