A Tiny Seed that Packs a Nutritional Punch

chiaseedsIf you’re looking for ways to boost the nutritional value of your diet without necessarily disrupting it too much, try chia.  For my clients who are not already eating chia seeds, they will frequently react with surprise, and I can understand why.  It took me some time to get past the idea of the chia pet and onto the seeds as the superfood that they are.

Salvia hispanica is a flowering plant related to sage that is native to central and southern Mexico.  The seeds are gray or brownish red and a white variety can also be found under the name of Salba.

By adding just one ounce, or ~2 tablespoons of chia seeds per day to your diet, you’re getting 11 g of fiber, 4 g of protein, a healthy dose of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, and high levels of calcium, phosphorous, zinc, and manganese; all for about 130 calories.

When added to a smoothie or bowl of oatmeal at breakfast, they’ll help balance your blood sugar and keep you satisfied until lunch.  You may be wondering how these tiny little seeds can keep you satiated.  The secret is in their ability to absorb many times their weight in water–keeping you full longer.

Although they’re digestible in their raw dried state, soaking them ahead of time will produce a gel that can be added directly to smoothies or dishes for thickening.

In a glass jar, simply add 1 part of seeds to ~8 parts of filtered water.  Combine and refrigerate for several hours.  To use, add a heaping tablespoon of the gel/seed mixture to smoothies, juices, dressings and sauces.

For a quick breakfast to take on the go, add 1-2 T of dried seeds and a sprinkle of cinnamon to 8 ounces of almond milk.  Soak overnight in the fridge and drink in the morning.   I’ve also ground them in a coffee grinder and used the powder in granola recipes.

chiapuddingCraving something in the afternoon?  Try a chia seed pudding.  This is something you can mix up the night before or in the morning and let it thicken in the fridge during the day:

1 c almond or other milk

¼ c chia seeds

1T unsweetened cocoa powder

1 t vanilla

1 T real maple syrup

½ t cinnamon or other spices

Mix the ingredients in a blender or shaker cup.  Pour into a glass bowl or jar and refrigerate for two hours or until thickened.  Garnish, if desired, with fresh berries or chopped nuts.   Makes 2-3 servings.

Noodles with No Carbs!

If you’ve been cutting back on starches like pasta and bread, here’s a noodle to try that’s gluten-free, starch-free, and for the most part, calorie-free.  At this point, you’re probably thinking, huh?  How can a noodle be calorie-free?

shirataki noodles

Shirataki noodles are made from a tuber called devil’s tongue yam or elephant yam that is composed of mostly water and a soluble dietary fiber called glucomannan.  The noodles are formed through an extrusion process, so they’re 100% yam.  There is also a variety made from tofu that has 3g of carbs and 5 calories per serving.

The noodles shown here come packaged in liquid and should be drained and rinsed.  The directions on the package also say to boil them briefly in water to remove the bitterness, although I didn’t find it necessary.   Like tofu, the noodles are flavor-less and will take on the flavor of the dish and I found that they have the texture of a very tender cellophane noodle.

shir noodles and veg

The other night, after draining and rinsing the noodles, I sautéed some Vidalia onion, thin slices of green cabbage, and Shitake mushrooms, then added the noodles along with Tamari (a wheat-free soy sauce), fresh ginger, and some toasted sesame oil.   The result was a quick, easy, really tasty and surprisingly filling dish!!  I’m thinking the noodles would work well as a last minute addition to soups too.

shir noodle dish

Shirataki noodles are found in the produce section of most grocery stores and run about $2 for an 8-ounce package.  My word of caution for them is that because they’re not a major nutritional source, it would be best to eat them sparingly, rather than make them a staple in the diet.   For a noodle craving, though, I believe they’ll do the trick…

Simple Holiday Eating Strategy and Grain-free Cookie Recipe

The holidays are just about here and we all know what that means!  You may be surprised to find out that I don’t go crazy worrying too much about what I’m eating at holiday parties.   I eat clean most of the time and over the holidays, I will prepare what I consider healthy dishes, but I do enjoy indulging a bit, because life is meant to be pleasurable!  With that said, I focus on eating what I like rather than trying to eat everything and I pay more attention to how I’m feeling so that I don’t overdo it and feel terrible later.   And I return to my typical diet afterwards without feeling like I’ve missed out on anything.

Last week, I found this cookie recipe online and simply worked with what I had to try these out.  I consider these indulgent and at the same time, on the healthier side and if you didn’t say a word to your guests, I bet they’ll love them!  What I love about the recipe is that it’s super simple to prepare.  One bowl, less utensils, and no mixer necessary; the batter is ready in a snap.

Compared to the original recipe, I used shredded coconut rather than flour, although you can also grind coconut in a high-speed blender or coffee grinder to make it fine.  I cut back on the amount of sugar because I also added raisins, which are sweet too and I found these plenty sweet for me.  I also added a little water because I used a dry sugar and I used olive oil.  You may be thinking it’s a strange choice for a sweet cookie, but I didn’t find that at all.   Hope you give them a try.

Finally, I want to wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving!  If you focus on what you have to be grateful for and enjoy everything the day has to offer, you may find yourself very well fed with less calories : ) 

 

Grain-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 c almond flour

2 T unsweetened, shredded coconut

1/3 c coconut sugar

½ t sea salt

½ t baking soda

1 T vanilla extract

½ c olive or coconut oil

2-3 T water

1/3 c each dark chocolate chips and raisins

In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients together then add the vanilla, oil, and water.  Mix well.  The batter will be much less ‘doughy’ than traditional flour-based cookies.  After folding in the chocolate chips and raisins, use a small cookie scoop to drop 1-2 teaspoons full of batter onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.  Press the batter down to form round discs.  Bake at 350°F for  ~10 minutes.  Resist the urge to dig in for a few minutes while they cool.  They’ll hold together much better that way.   Makes about twelve 3” cookies.