As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m trying to include chia seeds in various aspects of my diet. I turned to good ol’ Google to search for a muffin/bread recipe that used chia seeds and came across a recipe on a fantastic blog Peas and Thank You (apparently she has a New York Times bestseller book – do I live under a rock or something?). The thing I liked most about the recipe was it called for ingredients I had in my pantry already – bonus! The recipe also called for coconut oil, another item I’m trying to incorporate into my diet more – double bonus!
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup unbleached organic flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/3 cup coconut oil
2/3 cup agave nectar and/or maple syrup
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tbsp lemon extract
1 tbsp lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 325F.
Zest one lemon and then squeeze out the juice. Combine the milk and lemon juice and set aside
In a large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and chia seeds.
Measure out the coconut oil into a glass measuring cup – if it is still in a solid state, place the measuring cup in a warm water bath to liquefy it.
Mix in the coconut oil, agave/maple syrup, applesauce, vanilla extract, lemon extract and lemon zest into the milk mixture.
Gently stir the liquid ingredients into the flour mixture until it is just mixed. At first, I thought it wasn’t going to be enough liquid for the flours, but it does come together pretty quickly.
Line or grease your muffin pan and fill each cup 2/3 full.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes – I tested mine at 20 minutes with a toothpick and it came out clean.
If you’re a fan of lemon poppyseed muffins – this recipe is a fantastic alternative.
I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions because they seem to have a lifespan of approximately 31 days, if not shorter. But this list below are things that I’d like to permanently incorporate into my diet, and I’m going to use the start of this year as motivation to find creative ways to use them.
Chia seeds - yes, these are the same seeds that I spread across my turtle Chia Pet my BFF gave to me in elementary school. Chia seeds are the highest plant based source of Omega 3s. They are also high in dietary fiber and protein. One benefit to chia seeds over flax seeds is that you don’t need to grind them – flax seeds are difficult for the body to digest, so they are best used ground. I’ve added chia seeds into my granola recipe and have some great Lemon-Chia Seed muffins baking in the oven right now.
Turmeric - you would think that being of Indian descent, that turmeric would be a part of my daily diet – think again. Turmeric has great anti-inflammatory benefits, is a natural pain killer and a great liver detoxifier. Turmeric has also been found to be a great herb to assist in balancing hormones. I’ve seen folks buy turmeric in pill or tea form, but if I don’t manage to include turmeric in at least one of my meals during the day, I opt to mix 1/2 tsp in a bit of warm water, and drink that instead. You could probably opt for a much tastier alternative by trying out this Golden Milk recipe.
Coconut Oil - even though this oil is extremely high in saturated fat, its structure does not raise cholesterol in the same manner other saturated fats may. Coconut oil stimulates metabolism and improves thyroid function – both of these have shown to be an aid in reducing body fat. There is still a lot of research to be done on this fat, but in an almost vegan diet, I feel that it is essential to find quality fats to include in my every day meals.
Dandelion - bitter greens are generally great liver detoxifiers. Our liver has a pretty big job to do with regards to keeping our hormones balanced and in check. I try to drink a dandelion tea at least three times per week – my favourite brand is Chartreuse Organic Dandelion Detox Tea. I’ve also used dandelion greens in some salads and stir-frys, and also manage to get some dandelion into my diet from my favourite coffee substitute, Dandy Blend.
Dried Legumes - I used to always have a supply of canned legumes in my pantry, but after I use up everything that is in my pantry now, I will make the switch to dried legumes only. The recent research on BPA in the lining of canned items has had me wanting to make a change. The change should really be quite simple – it is just a matter of being more organized in planning my evening meals so I remember to soak the legumes the night before (an important step to reduce the phytic acid in the beans – phytic acid reduces the body’s ability to absorb nutrients). I came across this article that describes how to freeze your own cooked beans – I’m not sure I’m organized enough to do this, but it is a great tip if you’re short on time.
Nuts and Seeds - I have started packing a small pill box full of almonds to eat every afternoon at work (I choose not to keep a large jar of almonds at my desk in fear of finishing them all in one sitting). I also include pepitas and almonds in my weekly batch of granola. I love the taste of walnuts in my veggie burgers, and will try to incorporate that more often. I think that between walnuts, almonds, pepitas, flax seed and chia seeds, I’ll have enough variety in my diet.
Protein Shakes - I sometimes tend to get a bit sloppy about watching my protein intake, especially when I start working out. I’ve decided to have a protein shake at least 4 to 5 times per week to make sure I’m covered. My favourite vegan protein shake is the Nikken Kenzen Body Balance Meal Replacement, but it is quite pricey (but in my opinion, the only pea protein I can actually drink without gagging). I’m also a fan of Tera’s Whey organic fair-trade protein powder, and they now offer a Goat’s Whey protein as well, which I’m planning on trying.
I’d love to hear from you on what changes you’re trying to make to your diet this year. May 2012 be a year of health and happiness for you!
Guess what we’ll be eating more of this week? You got it – soup! I’m thinking the leeks and broccoli from this week’s delivery will go great in a Cream of Broccoli soup.
I’ve been using carrots when making a carrot and lentil soup – a great dinner option that also tastes great served over brown rice if you have leftovers (easy peasy lunch idea!).
I’ve been wanting to have quesadillas for a while now – we used to have them all the time, but they haven’t been in our regular dinner rotation for a while. I think tonight’s dinner will be a kale and sweet potato quesadilla with avocado on the side.
I’m finally starting to enjoy this season’s apples – I’ve been packing one as an afternoon snack every day. I keep an apple slicer at my desk, which makes it easier to ensure I make time for a nutritious afternoon snack.
The last item this week was red onions – kinda boring but oh so good in just about anything!
I’ve been on the hunt for a pizza dough recipe that uses 100% whole wheat, instead of most multigrain crusts which always have a significant quantity of all purpose flour. I keep all purpose flour around for baking cakes and cupcakes, but for every day meals, I choose not to use it as it tends to wreak a bit of havoc on my stomach (sorry if that was TMI).
I finally came across a recipe that seemed worth trying – no fancy techniques or extra effort and pretty similar to what I would do to make a standard pizza crust at home. As an added bonus, this recipe included adding ground flax seed as an option – an easy way to include flax into your diet. This recipe made two 14″ thin crust pizzas.
3 1/2 cups 100% whole wheat flour and approx 1/2 cup for dusting
2 teaspoons of honey
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of table salt
1 tablespoon of active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water approx 110 degrees
3 tablespoons of ground flax seed (optional)
Dissolve the honey into the warm water in a medium sized bowl.
Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water. Set your timer for 10 minutes (if the yeast is active, it will foam up in 10 minutes).
Once the yeast is ready, mix in the oil and salt.
In a wide, shallow bowl, mix the flour with the ground flax. Slowly pour in the water and knead the dough into a ball.
Cover the bowl with a towel, or instead, cover it with an inverted pizza pan (which is what I chose to do).
Place the bowl in a warm area for a couple of hours to allow it to rise. My oven has a bread proofing setting which worked wonderfully. I’m sure you could warm up the oven to its lowest setting and then turn it off and use the residual heat to proof your dough (make sure you allow enough time for the oven to cool so it doesn’t cook the dough.
I kept the toppings on the pizza fairly standard (mushrooms, green peppers, onions, olives, spinach) because the goal was to actually test the pizza dough recipe. The crust was definitely heartier and heavier than the usual all purpose flour version, but I’ve grown to like the texture of whole wheat foods and actually prefer them to heavily processed wheat. I personally think this recipe is best suited to a thin crust pizza, but you could definitely try making a regular crust with it as well.
One thing I did splurge on was using Spring Hill garlic cheese curds along with mozzarella cheese on the pizza, which worked wonderfully! These curds are so delicious that it is going to be quite tough to not snack on the remaining cheese in a single sitting.
This week, I decided to add shallots into my delivery – they make such a great addition to homemade salad dressings. Since I no longer buy store-bought salad dressing for anything, it is good to have all the basics available in my pantry. Ingredients I always have on hand include brown mustard, organic lemon juice concentrate, capers, shallots, Veganaise and olives, along with any herbs I may have in the garden (dill, oregano, rosemary, mint, basil).
I also added red kale – it is such a beautiful deep purple in color and looks beautiful in the lentil and carrot soup simmering on the stove right now. I also have a new found fascination with cauliflower – but not to make Aloo Gobi – I still can’t bring myself to enjoy that dish.
Broccoli, celery and apples completed this week’s delivery – the fall season just snuck by me and before I knew it, it was December already – I feel like I have so many types of apples I need to enjoy before the season is over.