Thursday, August 21, 2014

Classic Vanilla Chia Pudding.

Most likely you've seen and heard about all the hype surrounding chia seeds. And most likely you've seen a gazillion recipes for "chia pudding." And... if you're like me, you wrinkle your nose and think sarcastically "really, how can THAT be good?!" Well this food craze wasn't going away, and I decided to stop being a baby and to stop saying "eww" inside my head when I hadn't even tried it. (You know that if you're a foodie, that's rule #1: Don't knock it till you try it). So I sucked it up and haphazardly threw some chia seeds in my smoothie bottle, poured in some vanilla, some this and that, enough liquid that looked appropriate, shook shook shook shook, and left it in the fridge to do it's thing.

Now I can easily say that the jokes on me people. The next morning, as I pulled the chia goo out of the fridge, I was skeptical. But I dipped my spoon in anyways and took a bite. My brain exploded. Holy cow how is this good?! This tapioca-like substance is SOOO not tapioca-like at all. I think I proceeded to eat half the batch I made right then and there. But then I showed restraint, because I knew I'd want some more yumminess later.

Ever since that fateful day, where I felt both like a Queen (hey hey, this girl tried chia pudding and LIKED it) and like a fool (this idiot waited too long to make omg-delicious-pudding), I've been experimenting with my own chia recipes. It is a little bit of a science and an art. You have to combine the right ratio of liquid to chia in order to get the right consistency. The right consistency may be firm after it has set overnight, or it maybe slightly more runny after setting overnight. But the best thing is, you can choose the texture of your pudding! See my tips after the recipe for getting this part right.

I've made this stuff with herbal coffee and coconut milk (divine), with coconut milk and vanilla (divine divine), and also with raw milk and vanilla (the recipe you see here). I like this recipe because it's the easiest of all, and it literally takes 1 minute to make. Have your roommate/partner/spouse come into the kitchen and time you. Real food doesn't have to take forever to make.

A couple notes, the quality of the liquid which you use as the base of your pudding makes the biggest difference here. In all the test-runs in my kitchen I've always used black chia seeds from my local Whole Foods or other awesome grocery store here in Seattle, so I can't speak for the other varieties of chia. But I do know that whatever milk you use DOES make an incredible difference. The milk I used here is pure, raw, organic, grass-fed milk from happy cows that live 3-4 hours away from where I live. Local stuff. And in other recipes that I'll share with you down the road (I promise), the coconut milk I used is very high quality, literally 100% coconut milk, NOT from a can. I personally think the canned stuff just tastes, well, canned, so I avoid it at all costs. And I know I am going to get questions about almond milk or rice milk or whatever milk suites your fancy and whether you can sub those in. You can, but it may make slightly different pudding. For instance, raw grass-fed milk has a much higher fat content than say rice and almond milks, (which are mostly just water by the way), so the end result has slightly lucious creaminess to it, and therefore milk alternatives like almond and rice probably will not. But really, this recipe is so versatile, and sure to please anyone in your family.

Someone obviously ate some already ;)

Classic Vanilla Chia Pudding.
     makes one pint mason jar nearly full

    1 + 1/3 cups  organic, grass-fed, raw cow's milk (goat or coconut would be great too!)
    1/3 cup  whole black chia seeds
    ~2 tsp  vanilla extract

To make your pudding:
  1)  Grab a clean mason jar with a tight fitting lid.
  2)  Pour your chia seeds into the jar.
  3)  Add milk; add vanilla.
  4)  Screw on lid and shake shake shake.
  5)  Put jar in fridge and go do something for 5 minutes. Come back, shake shake shake. Return to   fridge, come back a few minutes later. Shake, shake, shake. Repeat.
  6)  Let puddin' do it's thing and get all yummy overnight.
  7)  In the AM, scoop out about 1/4 cup and eat on top of yogurt, with berries and cinnamon.

Getting the texture right: Now I know that pudding is like brownies (cakey or fudgey?) and smoothies (thick or thin?), everyone has their own opinion about the perfect texture. This recipe features a pudding that holds together but is not either super firm or very runny. My advice? Start here. If you want the pudding a bit more thick, add a Tbsp of chia seeds and give it time to absorb into the liquid. After a few hours, if it's still too runny, add more, but please know that as this sits in the fridge it does get progressively (just slightly) less runny and a bit more firm as it continues to sit. If you like your puddings more runny, just add 1-2 Tbsp less chia, give it time to sit (4+ hours, overnight is best) and then see where you're at. Overall, very forgiving and you can adjust from there. But in general it's good to have a baseline recipe, and then you can easily switch up some of the ingredients to make it more interesting.

On a non-recipe note, I have been trying to enjoy my summer since it's post-basic science Boards! I am still in classes though, so even though I haven't been doing much studying (me need break) I haven't been sharing my new recipes with y'all. I've got a bunch of them on Notes on my iPhone, and I really need to get cracking, buckle down and make some of these babies and take photos of the yumminess and then share them with you!

Thanks for sticking around even though my posts are less regular as they used to be. Med school kind of re-prioritizes your life.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Grain-free Unsweetened Paleo Banana Bread.

I've been wanting to share this recipe with y'all for too long. Banana bread is one of my all-time favorite things (which is no secret, see below for more banana-centric recipes), and for a long-time I've been elusively searching for and experimenting with the perfect-for-me banana bread recipe. Two years ago I created my delicious grain-free unsweetened primal pumpkin bread, and I love that recipe so much that I believed it had to be possible to morph it into a banana bread instead. After a few different tries, what I'm sharing with you now is a paleo banana bread recipe I am most proud of :)

Grain-free Unsweetened Paleo Banana Bread.
    makes one standard loaf

    1 cup  blanched almond flour
    1/2 cup  organic coconut flour
    3 happy eggs - mine were large
    1/2 cup  coconut oil - mine was soft
    1 1/2 cups  mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large)
    1 tsp  baking soda
    1/2 tsp  unrefined sea salt
    1 Tbsp  raw apple cider vinegar
    1 tsp  ground nutmeg
    1 Tbsp  cinnamon
    2 tsp  vanilla
    20 drops  clear stevia

To make your banana bread:
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2) Pour all ingredients into a high speed blender (Vitamix!)
3) Blend briefly until incorporated.
4) Pour into a glass, standard loaf pan, that has been greased with coconut oil, and floured with coconut or almond flour.
5) Bake for about 20 minutes, check on the bread and maybe rotate the pan, and bake for another 20-30 minutes depending on your oven. Let bread cool in the pan, then carefully turn out and slice. Store it in the fridge, or the freezer! But most likely your family will gobble it up in no time!

And now, I invite you to explore my other banana lovin' recipes!

Banana Bread Muffins

Grain-free Zucchini Bread


Banana Macadamia Nut Muffins

Almond Butter Banana Blueberry Muffins

Grain-free Post-surgery Banana Bread

Grain-free Almond Banana Waffles

Grain-free Unsweetened Banana Cake

My Original Banana Cake

Fruity Vegan Oatmeal Bake

Enjoy your banana bread. It's great spread with some almond or peanut butter or slathered with some juice-sweetened black raspberry jam :) YUM. Or even butter, if you're so inclined.

And I know the pictures aren't super great. It's been really hard to adjust to all the poor Seattle lighting!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Paleo Chocolate Sauce or Ganache.

(Hello everyone :) I am alive! I've been busy (with medical school), but here I am again!)

Sauce or ganache? Why the fuss?

Well, technically, this is a "ganache" recipe... since ganache is composed of melted chocolate + cream (coconut milk here), which makes it spreadable and allows it to just barely harden into a lovely smooth chocolate experience.

Chocolate sauce, on the other hand, tends to be more of a more syrupy/sugary composition that is perfect for drizzling. Chocolate sauces commonly include corn syrup, or a simple syrup, which gives it a characteristic sweet smoothness that holds its shape when swirled and twisted on a spoon (and on top of your ice cream!)

This recipe rides in the middle. Best of both worlds, I'd say :)

And it's paleo, primal, gluten-free, soy-free, and barely sweetened (my favorite). Which by default makes it amazing. Obviously.

Paleo Chocolate Sauce.
    makes enough for a crowd, or some for one and enough for later!
    Time to prepare = < 10 minutes

    3 oz  unsweetened Baker's chocolate* - or 3 oz of your favorite
    8 oz  unsweetened coconut milk - this one is my favorite**
    1 tsp to 1 Tbsp  runny honey*** (or more to taste)
    splash  vanilla
    dash  unrefined sea salt
    stevia drops - (optional and to taste)

To make your chocolate sauce:
  1)  In a double boiler, or a heavy bottomed pan, add chocolate chunks, coconut milk, honey. Heat on medium / medium-low until chocolate is melted. Whisk whisk whisk until smooth and entirely incorporated.
***To measure out the honey in this recipe, I usually stick a regular eating teaspoon into the honey, to get it moderately coated, and then place it into the chocolate sauce pan; I am estimating this is about 2 tsp to a whole tablespoon of honey. Feel free to use more if you want more sweetness.
  2)  Add vanilla extract, stevia (if desired) and salt. Whisk again. Taste. Add more stevia or honey if desired.
  3)  Enjoy! Dip in some strawberries, apple slices, spread on unsweetened pumpkin bread use to make into chocolate bark, use it as cake frosting (pictured); or put in a jar to use on ice cream! This sauce can do anything! Stored in the fridge this should last 1-2 weeks.

*I used the old size Baker's chocolate squares which I stocked up on right after they changed / halved the sizing of their packages.
** This brand is 100% coconut milk, and I can get it locally (if you're in Seattle, look at Central Market or PCC) for a great price (and no yucky canned coconut milk flavor!)

PS. I am now officially a third year medical student! I finished second year today. This will be a busy summer, as I am taking classes, starting clinic, and taking BOARDS in August, but you should hopefully hear more from me! I've got some recipes I've been meaning to share you guys. I hope to have some more time to get you some more yummies :) I know I've been completely MIA, and I appreciate my readers who still subscribe and share and benefit from my recipes!

PPS. The first picture is this chocolate sauce over my favorite grain-free gluten-free chocolate cake! (The sauce has harded at this point, and is exactly like a ganache!) I halved the ingredients to the cake and topped it with chocolate sauce, for a yummy dessert that is only minimally sweetened. The second picture is this chocolate sauce after being made, so it is still warm and in "sauce" vs ganache form. I love how versatile this recipe is!

Happy Day!