Tag Archives | Vanilla

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. 

— • — • —

::: 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.

— • — • —

::: 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! And wait always remember to get guided with your health by visiting this site www.neuropathyhelp.co.

MILKSHAKE MONDAY: BARELY BOOZY HOMEMADE SHAMROCK SHAKE

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Does anyone else have fond memories of Shamrocks Shakes or is it just me? You know, the McDonald’s pastel green, mint-flavored shakes that pop up in March in honor of St. Patrick’s Day? I can hear you now, “Ohhhh yeeeaahhhh…those things…” For some reason I loved them when I growing up. It’s not like I’m an especially huge fan of mint-flavored sweets but the idea of them just makes me all smiley.

The story behind the Shamrock Shake is actually pretty awesome! The shake was created as a promotional item to raise money for charity. Philadelphia Eagles tight end Fred Hill had a daughter suffering from leukemia, and after seeing all of the families who travelled to visit their young, sick loved ones but had no place to stay, Hill and other team members decided that something had to be done to raise money to fix this. Thus, the seasonal shake was added to the menu and the first Ronald McDonald House was built from the profits. Cool, huh? Talk about “pimpin’ joy! You can read all the details here on Irish Central. (Also, if you’re confused about this “pimpin’ joy thing, it all started with the Bobby Bones Show out of Nashville. You can read more about the awesome movement here. #pimpinjoy)

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Image via Irishcentral.com // Image by McDonald’s. I’m lovin’ it.

The last time I got a Shamrock Shake it wasn’t quite as magical as I remember, unfortunately. They’re in the new (i.e. not circa 1989) McDonald’s clear cups and it was marbled in color because the green minty flavoring wasn’t mixed in that well and it was just such a bummer! And is it just me, but does its green color look a little weirder than it used to? It was my first Shamrock Shake in YEARS and here it was, all its magical glory stripped away. Le sigh. It’s all about the presentation, people!

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This year, this girl’s doin’ it for herself.

Ice cream. Milk. Creme de menthe. Bada bing, bada boom! I chose to use creme de menthe as my mint flavor because I have it in my cabinet. Yes, it’s that cut and dry. Also, I didn’t think straight up peppermint extract would do the trick because the shamrock shake is NOT just straight, clean, peppermint flavor. And it’s not really straight spearmint either. So what do you do? Other references online mention using mint syrup, like a coffee-flavoring. If you want to go that route, go ahead. But we’re more likely to use booze (hello, creme de menthe in hot cocoa is kind of awesome) so c’est la vie. It’s also what supplied the green coloring, as our creme de menthe is the bright green stuff, as opposed to the colorless kind. If you want to pump up the color, add a few delicate drops of green food coloring.

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: : : BARELY BOOZY HOMEMADE SHAMROCK SHAKE : : :
• 2 1/2 cups vanilla ice cream
• 1 1/2 TBSP creme de methe
• 1/2 cup milk
• 1/4 TSP mint extract (whatever you have—peppermint, spearmint, etc. It’s just a light dosage to pump up the flavor)

: : : For Sprinkle Rim & Garnish : : :
• 2-3 TBSP chocolate syrup
• 3 TBSP sprinkles
• whipped cream
• cherry or raspberry (I had raspberries so there you go)
• cute straws are a bonus!

1. Place all ingredients in pitcher of blender.

2. Whiz blender for a few seconds, just enough to get everything well-mixed but not overly runny.

3. If garnishing, skip to next steps. If not, pour into glasses and enjoy!

If garnishing…
1. Place chocolate syrup on shallow dish, like a saucer for a teacup. Place sprinkles on second shallow dish.

2. Dip glasses in chocolate syrup, then dip in sprinkles. Carefully turn glasses over so sprinkles stay in place.

3. Carefully pour milkshake mix into each glass. You did it without making a mess? Yay! Good job!

4. Top with whipped cream and cherry or raspberry. Grab a few straws. Cheers!

The painful part of talking about McDonald’s milkshakes is that it makes me want the fries. That is something I haven’t indulged in in…well…a really long time. Dang. Distract yourself, ML. Think about puppies. Rainbows. Salads taste just like french fries (yeah, right).

On another note, how do you guys feel about a semi-regular milkshake feature? Because doesn’t Milkshake Monday feel like a good way to brighten up a case of the Mondays?? What do you think? Are you into it? Or not at all?