Vanilla Chia Pudding

When I saw beautiful pictures of chia puddings on Pinterest, I kept saying to myself, there’s no way I’m spending time to create puddings for breakfast until I looked up one recipe… I couldn’t believe just how easy and least time consuming it was and now my family has chia pudding three times a week for breakfast!

If you have never made this before, start off very simple. As you go, I’m sure you will get creative and create dozens of chia pudding recipes of your own. Here I would like to share a very simple vanilla chia pudding. Please do be sure to share your favorite ways of having chia in your meals!

All you need for this pudding is:

Two heaped tablespoons of chia seeds

A cup of almond milk (the lightly sweetened one if you like)

A few drops of natural vanilla extract

Method: Add all three ingredients together into a bowl, stir well and leave it in the fridge over night for a delightful breakfast of chia vanilla pudding! The chia will expand 8 to 10 times its size overnight and make a pudding with jelly like consistency. Be sure you are not duped by artificial vanilla “flavor” available in the market. This kind is not grown on a plant, but is manufactured in a laboratory.

Some of the variations I make are

Adding cinnamon and cocoa nibs to the pudding just before eating

Adding fruit preserves or fresh fruit and substituting almond milk for coconut water or fruit juice with no sugar added (The featured picture has preserved berries on top and my kids love the taste and flavor)

Adding roasted nuts and dry fruits

Adding drinking chocolate mix

My favorite part of making this breakfast is that it takes only five minutes the previous night and all you have to do in the morning is grab it and enjoy! Who doesn’t love a time saver like this for busy mornings!

Spicy Hot Chocolate

Winter is almost arriving at our doorstep, its chilly outside and all I want is something warm and comforting in a cup, hopefully a spicy hot chocolate and to huddle with a blanket and book in my reading nook. I look in my fridge and the only warm-able beverage I see is almond milk, so ok, almond milk it is. I’m gonna make a steaming cup of my favorite hot chocolate.

October is non GMO month and the five ingredients I’ll be using in this hot chocolate recipe are non GMO, organic and I’m sure fair trade too.  My cocoa powder says non GMO and Fair Trade, and so does my almond milk. The other ingredients are certified organic.

So here we go, I warmed up my lightly sweetened vanilla almond milk just short of a boil and in my cup I have one-eighth tsp each of cinnamon, cayenne pepper and ginger. Well, actually that is all there is to it, can’t be simpler J ! I will now pour the almond milk over the ingredients in my cup and stir and enjoy! Hmmm… the aroma is beckoning and driving me crazy! I can’t wait to get to the bottom of this cup!

And to my reading nook goes my hot chocolate along with a blanket, my pup (well, she is a five year old Boston Terrier who goes by the name of Paro-Ariel), and a book that I’m in the middle of reading. I’ve read horrors, thriller, and fantasy books with vampires and demons, but none have given me the nightmares that this one does. “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova is a compelling literary parable of the century depicting Dr Alice Howard’s internal chaos as she receives a devastating diagnosis, early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Well, getting back to the recipe I intended to share, for traditional recipe followers, here it is!

 

Spicy Hot Chocolate
Serves 1
Perfect when the weather starts cooling down for the winter
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. Lightly sweetened vanilla Almond Milk (Organic, Non GMO, Fair Trade) 1 cup
  2. Organic Fair Trade Cocoa Powder – 2 tbsp.
  3. Cayenne Pepper 1/8 tsp
  4. Ground ginger 1/8 tsp
  5. Cinnamon 1/8 tsp
Instructions
  1. Warm up the almond milk on stove top and bring it to just short of a boil. Do not boil it. Combine all other ingredients in a tall mug, pour the hot nut milk into it, stir and enjoy!
  2. Note: Your cup will not burst into flames like the picture above, the featured picture was just a manipulation to depict heat and spice.
  3. If you are combating inflammation, cinnamon and cayenne pepper are good agents that help out. You can also add some turmeric for extra inflammation fighting boost. Hope you enjoy a good book with that hot chocolate!
Notes
  1. Great tip: Turmeric is a great ingredient to add if you like the flavor in your hot chocolate. Makes an excellent inflammation fighter!
I Heart Soul Food http://iheartsoulfood.com/

Vegan Butternut Squash Soup for Thanksgiving

Butternut squash soup is always a must for Canadian Thanksgiving Dinners. The turkey can be cancelled… LOL

I’ve made this soup over the years using several different recipes and this year it looks like we are going to make it all vegan. My other recipes in the previous years included addition of heavy cream or toppings of sour cream or chopped and sizzled crisp bacon. Well, I’m not a vegan, but I thought I would like to try the vegan style this year. Made this yesterday and was simply nom nom yumm… My family certainly wants me to repeat this performance for Thanksgiving dinner.

My favorite season has always been the fall. All those fall colors and the peace and quiet around when the children in the neighborhood have all gone back to school, steady humming of a breeze or wind, gentle rustle of leaves as they fly around on our concrete driveways… I love embracing each season, especially the fall. During the fall, go camping or cottaging in the colorful countryside, eat fall vegetables, say hello to pumpkins and squashes, pick apples, make pies, savor each day while slowly settling down to winter and hope that winter this year is not going to be as bad as the last one. Ah.. the dreams and wishes go on, life goes on…

And back to thanksgiving, I have an elaborate menu planned. This year I have decided to forgo the turkey and instead embrace a sea food theme with  a lot of fall vegetables. Oven baked, foil wrapped red snappers, baby scallops in garlic butter sauce served over spaghetti squash (the meal is still grain free), butternut squash soup, pan roasted fall vegetables, pumpkin spice smoothie and a crust-less apple crumble for dessert. Well, the dessert unfortunately is not grain free, but has oats in it. So here goes the recipe for butternut squash soup!

Butternut Squash Soup for Canadian Thanksgiving
Serves 4
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Prep Time
40 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Prep Time
40 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Ingredients
  1. 2lbs Butternut Squash – (Contentedly serves my family of four)
  2. 2 cups organic vegetable broth (well, remember to keep it Non GMO)
  3. 2 cups filtered water
  4. 1 medium sized onion
  5. Olive Oil – 3tbsp
  6. Turmeric – ¼ tsp
  7. Cinnamon ¼ tsp
  8. Nutmeg ¼ tsp
  9. Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. I like to do this the previous day: Pre-heat the oven to 375° F and throw that squash in for 40 minutes. At 40 minutes let the squash cool in the oven or put it in the fridge overnight.
  2. When you are ready to make the soup, think of the wonderful thanksgiving we are going to have, cut open the squash and remove the core. You might want to save the seeds to roast for a snack.
  3. Then scrape the meat of the squash into a blender and puree it until you get a creamy texture.
  4. Peel and dice onion. Add olive oil to a large pot. Heat up oil and add onions. Saute onions for about 4 minutes until onions are clear.
  5. Now pour the vegetable broth and water into the pot along with the pureed butternut squash. Add the spices, salt and pepper to the pot. Put on medium heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  6. Garnish with dry cut herbs and fresh ground pepper and serve. Roasted pumpkin seeds, squash seeds or sunflower seeds added as garnish gives the soup a nutty crunch.
I Heart Soul Food http://iheartsoulfood.com/

Roast Beet and Apple Salad with Grilled Chicken

Before I tell you about my roast beet and apple salad, let me tell you a bad secret… I have hated beets for a long time… I can say almost all my life. That probably could be because, coming from tropical country, I have always been fed every vegetable with a lot of hot spices, a ton of onions, garlic, cumin and coriander. You see, beets, carrots and sweet potatoes are sweeter vegetables that should never be eaten with hot spices… But that’s just a piece of my opinion.

Two years ago, I remember a good friend of mine talking about roasting beets, squash and sweet potatoes in the oven while something else was cooking or baking. Although not for the love of the vegetable, I decided to give it a try. Because I always hunger for new experiences in the kitchen, this was a “project”.

The beets I roasted looked so heavenly beautiful, I couldn’t help falling in love with this delightfully purple vegetable! Ever since, roasted beets have been a part of my family’s meals. Just a year ago I tried some roasted beets in this beautiful salad and when I saw how my family loved it, I have made it at least a dozen times. The kids seem to lick their plates clean when I make this one. So now I would love to share it with you!

The recipe you see below, normally fills up two adults and two kids and we never have any left overs. All you need for the salad is:

  1. Two large beets
  2. Two medium apples
  3. A cup of crumbly goat cheese (or substitute this for feta cheese if you don’t like goat cheese or eliminate this if you follow a vegan or paleo diet)
  4. Half a cup of chopped roasted pecans or walnuts
  5. 2 naked chicken breasts grilled with just salt-and-pepper and cooled (No bread crumbs or batter on the chicken)
  6. A fruity vinaigrette dressing, I use this one: Sugar Free Salad Dressing (3 Pack) Sweet Vinaigrette, Sweet Mustard and Citrus Ginger (Sugar Free Dressings, No Carb Dressings, Fat Free Dressings, Diabetic Dressings, Gluten Free Dressings, Vegan Salad Dressing, Vegetarian Dressing)

Well, this is not a salad that you whip up in a jiffy. I roast my beets a couple of days in advance and put it in the fridge along with the aluminum foil cover.

  • Give the beets a good scrub, chop off the head and tail and wrap them tight in an aluminum foil. Throw it in the oven whenever you are cooking up a casserole or baking something. The beeps can cook in temperatures between 360°C to 400°C for 20 to 40 minutes. I never attach hard and fast rules for roasting beets. Let them cool in the oven for a few hours before you put them in the fridge.
  • When you are ready to make that salad, start with grilling the chicken first. Once done, put that chicken aside to cool.
  • Chop the beets to look like a little wedges. Throw the beets into a mixing bowl, add a dash of the vinaigrette dressing, mix well and distribute into plates. If you want this salad to look good, spread out the beets on the plate like a layer.
  • Now chop the apples to look like little wedges, throw them into a different mixing bowl, add some of that dressing, mix well and layer it on top of the beets on to the plates.
  • Now sprinkle some roasted nuts and some crumbly cheese and serve the salad with chopped chicken on the side! This salad is best served like revenge (Cold, LOL)

Viola! Tell me if that salad doesn’t fly fast!

A Hearty Green Pea Soup

A hearty green pea soup is exactly what I would love to start the season with! Whoever said vegans don’t get enough protein weren’t thinking right. Because these green peas can pack a punch and deliver most beneficial nutrients. Green peas are very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. And they are also a good source of Protein, Vitamin A, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Thiamin and Manganese.

Green peas are considered to be an environmentally friendly food because pea crops are known to provide the soil with important benefits. They take nitrogen gas from the air and convert it into more complex and usable forms, increasing nitrogen content in the soil making it more fertile. Once peas are extracted, the plants easily crumble down and mix with the soil fertilizing it even more.

The best way to enjoy peas is if course to eat them raw. They are great in school lunch boxes or as healthy office snacks. With the soup season coming up, what I have here is my most favorite lightly cooked, delicious vegan pea soup… that is if you eliminate the yoghurt. I hope you enjoy it just as much as my family does.

You will need:
2 cups fresh shelled or frozen peas
2 cups vegetable stock (low sodium, organic)
1 cups filtered water
½ an onion
A few sprigs of cilantro to garnish
A few sprigs of mint leaves
A few sprigs of parsley
¼ cup fresh chives, chopped (for garnish)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
A dollop of yoghurt or sour cream if you are quasi paleo

And here is how you make it.
Heat the coconut oil in a saucepan and gently sauté the onions until they become transparent. Add the vegetable stock and water and bring it to a boil. Add the peas and cook for a maximum of three minutes. Fresh peas might take two extra minutes.
Switch off the heat, add the rest of the ingredients except the cilantro and yoghurt. Once it cools a little blend the soup in a blender in two or three batches and puree it until it reaches a creamy texture.
Now go ahead and serve into bowls and garnish it with cilantro and the dollop of yoghurt. I go with anything that stimulates my creativity. Like I love throwing in toasted almond slices, herbs, a sprinkle of cayenne pepper, toasted pumpkin seeds or caramelized onion. Don’t forget to comment if you made it or have a different version!