Basic Chia Pudding Recipe

Chia Pudding

Recently, I bought a ton of chia seeds for a fantastic price at a local grocery store. I remembered seeing chia puddings all over the place online: on Pinterest, blogs, FoodGawker, etc. I’d been wanting to try it again since I’d tried it once before and it wasn’t great.

There are tons of chia pudding recipes out there, but the most basic recipe I love came from the My New Roots cookbook. I’ve changed it up a bit, so here’s the recipe I use. It serves two.

Version 1: Basic Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

2-3 tablespoons chia seeds

6 tablespoons milk of choice

1 cup yogurt (plain regular or Greek)

Sweetener of choice (such as 5 dates)

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 frozen banana or other frozen fruit (such as cherries)

Version 2: Basic Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

2-3 tablespoons of chia seeds

6 tablespoons milk of choice

1 tablespoon vanilla

Additional spices such as: cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice

Sweetener of choice (dates, agave nectar, maple syrup)

Directions: 

For both: Except for the frozen fruit, add the remaining ingredients into a bowl with a good fitting lid. (I also like to use a mason jar.) Place in fridge overnight. In the morning, blend with frozen fruit until smooth and creamy. (It might be thicker or thinner depending on the amount of liquid you used. If you used the full 6 tablespoons, it might be on the thinner side.)

Energy Ball Recipes

EnergyBall Recipes (1)

I’ve wanted a food processor for years, but every time I decided to go get one, something told me no.  I would put the food processor back on the shelf and walk away. I have done this at least four or five times a year.

And yet, I’d see recipes for energy balls, nut butters, hummus, etc., and try them in my low-powered blender. The outcome was OK, but not great.

But about a week ago, I was blessed with a food processor from my boyfriend’s sister. I couldn’t believe it! I finally had one!

Yesterday, a chocolate craving hit me around 2 p.m. and I decided that after going to the store, I’d use my food processor to make the energy balls I’d been dying to make for years now and have them turn out correctly. (Most energy ball bases, I’ve noticed, are made with dates. Dates in a low-powered blender? Not good. Here’s a trick I heard but haven’t actually tried if you want to make them in a low-powered blender: soak the dates to soften them. I’ve read anywhere from 15-30 minutes will do.)

After seeing so many energy ball recipes, you can build your own easily. It goes a little like this:

Base. Something sticky. Ideas:

  • Dates
  • Agave Nectar
  • Maple Syrup
  • Nut Butter
  • Honey

Fillings. Any combination of the following (but the possibilities are endless!)

  • Nuts (Almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, pistachios)
  • Seeds (Pumpkin, sunflower)
  • Nut butters (Almond, Peanut Butter)
  • Oats
  • Dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, currants, cherries)
  • Chocolate (Cocoa powder, chocolate chips)
  • Canned Pumpkin
  • Coconut

Flavorings and Spices. This is where it gets really fun. Try

  • Crushed Peppermint Candies or Peppermint Extract (holidays)
  • Pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, and cinnamon
  • Vanilla extract
  • Coconut extract

Phew! Those are a ton of combinations, but again, the possibilities are endless. Play around with the ingredients. Don’t be afraid to get creative.

I made two versions yesterday:  A chocolate date ball adapted from one of my favorite recipes from Chocolate Covered Katie’s cookbook, and a No Bake Cookie inspired one.

And boy, did the energy balls turn out EXACTLY how I wanted them too! They were creaming, not too sweet, and stuck together perfectly.

Version 1: Chocolate Coconut Energy Balls

This recipe was adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie’s recipe for “Anytime Fudge Balls” from the Chocolate Covered Katie Cookbook. (Please go buy it! It’s amazing and a wonderful healthy dessert cookbook. I look through it at least once a day.)

9 pitted dates

½ cup slivered almonds

1 tbsp cocoa powder

2 tbsp dark chocolate chips

Unsweetened flaked coconut

¼ tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp agave nectar*

Pinch of salt

  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until crumbly but stick together when you ball it in your hands by making a fist.
  2. Roll into balls, try not to eat them all, refrigerate.

Version 2: Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip, Coconut, Oat Energy Balls

9 pitted dates

Heaping ¼ cup crunchy peanut butter

½ cup old fashioned oats

2 tbsp semisweet chocolate chips

¼ cup unsweetened flaked coconut

¼ tsp agave nectar

  1. Pulse in food processor until crumbly but sticks together when you ball the mixture in your hands by making a fist.
  2. Roll into balls, try not to eat them all, and refrigerate.

Small Kitchen Cooking: Poached Eggs Aren’t Terrifying [Recipe]

I made poached eggs on Sunday morning because I was tired of seeing so many gosh-darn delightful looking recipes and me being to scared to try them. I don’t know about you, but I’ve stayed away from attempting to make poached eggs because I’ve heard how intimidating it can be.

But this morning, I cracked open one of my cookbook essentials, Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything,” and got to work. And it wasn’t terrifying. I used a 1 cup measuring cup and cracked each egg in there, using the cup to place the eggs into the water, one at a time. And then I turned on the timer and waited for 5 minutes.

But that was it.

Nothing to it.

The result? Well, I will admit, I don’t think I added enough water to my saucepan, because the eggs had no white tops! It was kind of cute, actually. Despite their missing tops, the poached eggs were everything I’ve heard they are: silky, smooth, and light. Gorgeous to look at, and delicate to eat. I savored every moment. And now I don’t think I’ll ever look at fried or scrambled eggs the same way again. I’ll always be left with this sinking feeling of “if only I had poached eggs.”

Believe me, they’re worth trying. They’re not terrifying. Just go out there and try it.

Next on my list of intimidating foods I’ve avoided making? Souffle. I have no plans to make it anytime soon.

Happy Tuesday! What’s your favorite way to have poached eggs? I had mine over hashbrowns, sauteed bell peppers, and sharp cheddar cheese.

Here’s another way I want to try them:

Arugula, Asparagus, and Poached Eggs

Gratitude is the Attitude

It’s November, and I’ve been noticing on my social media feeds a rise in posts about what people are thankful for. I love the idea of sharing something everyday that we’re thankful for, no matter how big or how small.

Gabrielle Bernstein has a great quote about gratitude in her book, “May Cause Miracles”: “Gratitude creates a domino effect of love.”

I know that when I’m feeling down, stressed, panicked, rushed, irritated, or just not feeling “OK,” I’ve been forcing myself to remember gratitude. To be thankful for the small things. I’m thankful for my beautiful apartment, my loved ones, but I’m also incredibly thankful to the pen that doesn’t run out on me, or being able to have the time in the morning to write this post. When you set your mind to being thankful all the time, it’ll leave you feeling less panicked, stressed, or irritated, even if only for a minute or so.

Today, I’m sharing my gratitude for yoga and my breath. I’ve been trying to sit in stillness each morning to center myself before heading into my work day, and I’ve noticed that with yoga and focusing on my breathing, I feel stronger and more confident.

I’m also thankful for chai lattes, which basically captures the entirety of the holidays and places it in a single cup of steamy tea with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Mmm.

I found this coconut chai latte last night from Oh She Glows and it’s my inspiration for this morning’s chai latte. And sometimes, I like to make my chai lattes more chilly (yes, even in winter) and I make this chocolate chai banana smoothie.

French Toast with Toasted Pecans, Banana, and Strawberries

One of my favorite breakfast foods is French toast. It’s so simple to make and easy to dress up. And it’s even more delicious when you’re having it for dinner, right? 🙂

French Toast with Toasted Pecans, Banana, and Strawberries
Serves: 2-3 people

1/4 cup chopped pecans
5 strawberries, sliced
1 banana, sliced
4 eggs
1/4 cup milk (almond milk or other alternatives will work here too)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg (or eyeball how much you want if you’re grating it yourself)
1 tsp vanilla
6 pieces whole wheat bread
Syrup

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pecans onto cookie sheet, place in the oven. Set a timer for 4 minutes and make sure to stir the pecans around every 2 minutes.
2. Mix together egg, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla into a flat dish or wide bowl. Set aside.
3. Take out pecans from oven.
4. Heat up a skillet on medium heat.
5. Dip both sides of bread into the egg mixture and cook in skillet until brown on both sides.
6. Once you’ve finished all six pieces, put your syrup in a microwave-safe container and heat for 15 seconds.
7. Top your toast with toasted pecans, banana, strawberries, drizzle on the syrup and enjoy!

Now that’s how breakfast for dinner is done. 🙂

Small Kitchen Cooking (SKC) How-To: Iced Hazelnut Mocha

Hi, everyone! I’m starting a new series for my recipes called “Small Kitchen Cooking,” (for short, “SKC”) and I thought the perfect way to start it off would be with one of my favorite things in the entire world, coffee.

Now, I do believe that a great cup of coffee from a coffee shop is worth it. But we don’t want to do that everyday, and when you find out how easy it is to replicate those drinks at home, why not try it?

And believe me, this hazelnut mocha is easy-peasy.

Iced Hazelnut Mocha

Ingredients:
1/2 cup strong coffee or 1/2 cup regular coffee (see note below)*
2 ice cubes (see note below)
1 tablespoon hazelnut syrup (you can find these in the coffee aisle at your local grocery store)
1 tablespoon chocolate syrup
1/2 milk of choice (I use 1%)
Container with an air-tight lid

Directions:

1. Pour coffee into a coffee mug. Add ice. Set aside.
2. In the container, add in the hazelnut and chocolate syrups, along with milk.
3. Pour the coffee into the container.
4. Put on the lid, and shake. Shake, shake, shake! (For about 20 seconds.)
5. Pour into tall chilled glass.**
6. If you’re feeling particularly springy or summery, use a straw with an umbrella. Enjoy! 🙂

Notes:
*To make the strong coffee, here’s how I do it with my basic 12-cup coffee maker: Fill water up to the four-cup line. I add one scoop of coffee (I use a 1/4 cup) per two cups. For strong coffee however, you’ll need to add two scoops per two cups. This means for four cups of coffee, you’ll need four scoops. This is optional. The strong coffee will give the drink a stronger flavor.

** Tip for chilling the glass: place two ice cubes into the glass you plan on using for the drink. Remove ice before pouring in coffee.

I hope you enjoy this and try playing around with it too! Tell me what kind of iced drinks that you like to order in coffee shops, but would like to make at home (or have made at home). I’d love to know! Also, if you’re a tea drinker, try out this iced green tea with apple juice recipe.

Happy Monday!

~Ashley

Happy Valentine’s Day

Things I’m loving today:

This Twitter party today at 2:30 p.m. EST from Operation Beautiful.

This recipe for calzone hearts.

This card.

This song by Colbie Caillat.

Here’s something to remember for everyone:

Find something in every day that makes you smile, even just once. Capture that memory somehow. And remember it. No matter what day it is.

Today I’m thankful for all of the people in my life who love me, and I extend that love back to all of them.

And a little shout out to my boyfriend. 🙂

I hope you all have a wonderful day. I plan on eating plenty of chocolate.

So, here’s the question for the day:

Candy hearts: Love ’em or hate ’em? 😉

Happy Valentine’s Day!

~Ashley