Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!

As a child, 1982 was the year I yearned for a Chia Pet. I wanted the ram. I didn’t even know what a ram was, but I wanted it. It was the commercial that won my heart, with it’s catchy tune and fancy time-lapsed photography. Who knew that 30 years later, Dr. Oz’s team and even Nuts.com (one of my favorites) would be all over their nutritional benefits.

Chia seeds (‘chia’ is actually Mayan for “strength”)–which were used widely by the Mayans and Aztecs as early as 3500 BC to increase stamina and energy–are a SUPER superfood because they have a crazy high amount of nutrients for a crazy low amount of calories. And unlike chia’s friend the flax seed (also a Super), they don’t have to be ground to reap the benefits.

Chia seeds are high in:

  • Soluble fiber: the one responsible for lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, filling you up, and keeping you full for a scarily long amount of time. It absorbs 12 times its own weight in 5 minutes. Take THAT, “Grow Your Own Boyfriend“!
  • Calcium: 16% of your daily requirement per ounce (2 tablespoons), which is 3 times the amount you’ll get from dairy foods
  • Omega-3’s and Omega-6’s: Chia is a more concentrated source of skin- and heart-healthy essential fatty acids than salmon
  • Protein: 6 grams per ounce (2 tablespoons)–that’s similar to meat, but it’s a seed!

So how do you eat them? How DON’T you eat them is more the question! You can literally toss a tablespoon or two into anything. They’re tasteless and simply contribute a fun, crunchy texture to your food. Here, I added them to a dessert and a pina-colada-type smoothie with only positive feedback. Here are 40 more ideas. Chia Cheers!

Chia Blondie Ingredients

Chia Blondies
Makes 16 small squares or 9 large squares

1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 flaxseed meal
1/2 cup filtered water
1 15.5-ounce Trader Joe’s Blondie Bar Baking Mix (or other blondie or brownie mix that bakes in a 9″ X 9″ pan)
1/2 cup melted Earth Balance margarine
1 medium zucchini squash (green or yellow), shredded
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Soak chia seeds and flaxseed meal in water in a medium bowl for 5 minutes, until a thick gel forms.

Stir remaining ingredients into chia flax mixture until well mixed.

Spread mixture into a lightly greased 8- or 9-inch square or round baking pan.

Bake for 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Feel your cholesterol dissolving, one bite at a time.

Chia Blondies, made with green zucchini

Nutrition Info Per Small Square (1/16th of recipe): 178 calories, 9 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 1.5 g polyunsaturated fat, 1.5 g monounsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 232 mg sodium, 39 mg potassium, 22.5 g carbohydrate, 3.2 g fiber, 13.3 g sugar, 2 g protein, 5% vitamin A, 1% vitamin C, 2% calcium, 6% iron.

Nutrition Info Per Large Square (1/9th of recipe): 317 calories, 15 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 2.5 g polyunsaturated fat, 2 g monounsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 412 mg sodium, 68 mg potassium, 40 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 23.5 g sugar, 4 g protein, 10% vitamin A, 2% vitamin C, 4% calcium, 10% iron.

What the critics said:
Bitchin’ Husband: “If I have a second, will my hair grow green?” (Ha ha, Funnyman)
6-Year-Old Daughter: “Two more please!”
4-Year-Old Son: “Mom! You never gave me dessert!” (Trying to get another)
2-Year-Old Son: “I not like this.” Two minutes later: “Why you eat my dessert?!?!”

Chia Colada

Chia Colada
Makes 3 1-cup servings

Chia seeds are rich in soluble fiber, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, & help to lower cholesterol, blood pressure, & promote heart health. Salud!

¼ cup chia seeds soaked in ½ cup filtered water for 5 minutes
1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1 banana
2 cups refrigerated coconut milk
(or 1 cup canned coconut milk plus 1 cup water)

Blend and do the hat dance.

Nutrition Info Per 1-cup Serving: 202 calories, 10 g total fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 20 g carbohydrate, 10 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 8 g protein, 11% vitamin A, 52% vitamin C, 15% calcium, 34% iron.

Fiber Sans Veggies

Is it possible? The following combo comes up all too often: The desire to get healthy challenged by an extreme dislike for veggies. It’s possible that the right veggie experience just hasn’t happened yet. But until then–and also handy to know when your favorite veggies are out of season–here are a handful of ways to get closer to your 40-gram daily fiber goal without veggies in the picture:

Breaking Down the 40-Gram Goal:
10 grams of fiber per meal (3 of those) + 5 grams of fiber per snack (2 of those)

  • 1 slice high-fiber bread: 6 grams fiber
    So? A whole PB sandwich meets your meal-time fiber goal
  • ½ cup cooked beans or lentils (legumes): 7 grams fiber
    How to Eat? Add to pasta sauce, soups, and stir-fries, and blend into dips
  • ½ cup bran cereal such as All-Bran: 10 grams fiber
    How to Eat? Add to non-dairy yogurt & trail mix
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal (like Bob’s): 4 grams fiber
    How to Eat? Add to anything, such as soy yogurt, fruit salad, dips, cereal, smoothies…
  • high-fiber snack bars: 9-12 grams fiber each; Gnu Foods are the best and have 12 grams fiber each
  • 1 cup berries: 8 grams fiber (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, chopped strawberries)
  • ½ cup oat bran (similar to Cream of Wheat, my fave TJ’s seen here): 7 grams fiber
    How to eat? Microwave it with cinnamon, Truvia, dried fruit, nuts, and a dash of unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • And if you can resort to veggies (encouraged), try the highest fiber ones such as sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, broccoli, eggplant, and parsnips which have 7-8 grams fiber per serving

Happy fibering!

Eggless French Toast that Crushes It

French Toast for Gods and Goddesses

And we’re back! Apologies for the hiatus…  Life got hyperbusy in selling and then buying a new house. ‘Tis tough to sell and then refind the perfect bitchin’ kitchen!

So this recipe has become a twice-a-week staple chez “under contract.” It’s from SKINNY DISH!, but if you don’t have the book, you have got to at least have this one in your arsenal. French toast was originally created as a way to revive old, stale bread (more on its origin here), and I like to think that this cholesterol-free, soluble fiber-full version is not only effective in helping you conquer life with ease and grace, but also a way to revive old, stale breakfasts.

French Toast for Gods and Goddesses
Makes 6 slices (about 3 servings)
Prep and cooking time: 30 minutes

Traditional French toast can be loaded with calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol, weighing you down as you’re taking names and organizing galaxies. Enjoy this cholesterol-free, lower-calorie version, and rule the universe with grace and ease. This recipe uses grapeseed oil for pan-frying because it has a high smoke point—meaning it takes a lot of heat for it to burn. You will add less oil and fewer calories to get the same crispy toast effect.

1 ¼ cups (10 oz) vanilla soy milk, or other non-dairy milk
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp flaxseed meal (ground flaxseeds), or Trader Joe’s (or other) Just Almond Meal
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp sugar
3 Tbsp grapeseed oil
6 slices of whole wheat bread

1 Whisk milk, flour, flaxseed meal, cinnamon, and sugar together in a mixing bowl until well-mixed. Pour into a pie dish, or 9-inch square or round baking pan.

2 Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Dip each slice of bread into the milk mixture on both sides and place in the skillet. Reduce heat to low, and cook until golden brown, about 20 minutes total, flipping every few minutes to prevent sticking.

3 Serve with pure maple syrup, agave nectar, powdered sugar, or nothing at all.

4 French Toast should be eaten immediately or can be frozen for up to 2 months and toasted for a quick breakfast or snack any time.

NUTRITION SNAPSHOT
Per slice: 195 calories, 10 g total fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 150 mg sodium, 21 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 6 g protein, 2% vitamin A, 0% vitamin C, 10.5% calcium, 6% iron

Gluten-Free Version: Use gluten-free bread and almond meal in place of flour

Let’s have a toast for toast!