Posts Tagged ‘chia seeds’

Healthier Holiday Baking

 

What’s the holiday season without cookies, cakes, candies and other unhealthy treats!  Baking holiday goodies is part of the tradition, and a perfect family activity. While I totally believe in a little splurging, there are healthy baking substitutes where no one will know the difference.  I’ll skip the tip about substituting black beans and dates in place of chocolate when making brownies!  (However, if it sounds appealing, email me and I’ll send you the recipe – my husband loves them!)

 

Supermoist banana and almond cake.

  • Use coconut oil in all recipes calling for butter, shortening or vegetable oil.   It’s an ideal all-purpose cooking oil and has 100% less cholesterol than butter.   It contains the same medium-chain fatty acids found in mother’s milk essential to optimum health and disease prevention.
  • Olive oil is a good cooking oil too and makes a delicious, guilt-free dessert.
  • Substitute flours made from nuts and healthy whole grains, like almond meal walnut meal or quinoa, considered one of the world’s healthiest foods due to its high nutritive value, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  Nuts are super high in Omega 3’s, the right fats your body and brain needs.
  • For recipes calling for peanut butter, try healthier almond butter instead.
  • For a more nutritious sweetener, use honey, agave, maple syrup, molasses or organic cane sugar instead of refined white sugar.
  • Use almond milk instead of cow’s milk.
  • When baking with chocolate, try chocolate with at least 60% cocoa powder– it’s healthier and rich in cancer-fighting anti-oxidants.  Organic is preferable too!  (Cocoa powder is chocolate pressed free of the fat of cocoa butter.)
  • Moisten cakes and cookies with applesauce, mashed bananas or pureed pumpkin for extra nutrition.  Add nuts, dates, and other dried fruits to your baked goods.
  • Nutrient-rich chia seeds are a good thickener and make a yummy pudding!

Feel a little better indulging this holiday season with some of these baking tips.  Email me your healthy ideas too!  Have fun!

 

Listed below are three simple recipes for healthier holiday treats.

 

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

INGREDIENTS:

2/3 cup regular olive oil, plus more for greasing (don’t use extra virgin)

6 tablespoons good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

1/2 cup boiling water

2 teaspoons best vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups almond meal (flour) or 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

pinch salt

1 cup superfine sugar (or organic can sugar)

eggs

1 X 9-inch springform cake pan

 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease the pan with a little oil and line the base with parchment paper.

Measure and sift the cocoa powder into a bowl or pitcher and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, chocolaty, just runny, paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool a little.

In another smallish bowl, combine the almond meal (or all-purpose flour) with the baking soda and pinch of salt.

Put the sugar, olive oil, and eggs into the bowl of a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment and beat together vigorously for about 3 minutes, until you have a pale-primrose, aerated, and thickened cream.

Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture, beating as you go, and when all is scraped in, you can slowly tip in the almond meal (or all-purpose flour) mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and the very center, on top, still looks slightly damp. A cake tester should come up mainly clean but with a few sticky chocolate crumbs clinging to it.

Let it cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, still in its pan, and then ease the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula and spring it out of the pan. Leave to cool completely or eat while still warm. Delicious with ice cream too!

 

Coconut Cookies

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups grated or shredded coconut, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 1/4 cups coconut oil, 3 eggs, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix together flour, coconut, baking powder, and salt and set aside.  Blend coconut oil, eggs, sugar, and almond extract.  Mix wet and dry ingredients together.  Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.  Flatten balls to about 1/2 inch thickness.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until pale tan. Transfer to wire racks to cool.  Each cookie contains 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil.

 

Date Balls

Simple to make and just as satisfying as a usual holiday cookie, date balls are perfect to bring to a party.  They are a great energizing snack too!

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups raw almonds
6  dates
1 – 3 teaspoons vanilla extract (add 1 tsp at a time until there is a light vanilla flavor)
1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional to roll balls in after; sesame seeds are good too)

DIRECTIONS:

In a food processor outfitted with an “S” blade, or a heavy-duty blender, process almonds until coarsely ground. Add the dates and extract and process until mixture sticks together. Form the mixture into tablespoon size balls and roll in coconut or sesame seeds.

From deliciouslivingnutrition.com.

For more green living tips, go to greenwithbetsy.com.

 

 

 

Have You Become a Chia Head?

Chia Pet Sequence

Chia Pet Sequence (Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall)

 Remember the chia heads and pets that were popular several years ago?  You planted chia seeds in a doll planter and grass grew on top of the head. Well, it turns out that the same chia seeds are a very beneficial dietary supplement!

Chia seeds are a sacred Aztec and Mayan seed and have been a staple in their diet for centuries.  Native to South America, chia seeds are rich in   nutrients and anti-oxidants.

English: Chia (Salvia columbariae) seeds Franç...

There is much talk today about the importance of Omega-3 fatty acids in one’s diet.  I like getting Omega-3’s from a variety of animal and plant sources and chia seeds are one of the richest plant sources of Omega-3 essential fatty acids, specifically alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA).  Omega-3’s reduce inflammation and high cholesterol, help support normal cardiovascular function and enhance cognitive performance.

Many people’s diets are low in fiber.  Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber with 10 grams in only 2 tablespoons, or one-third of the daily recommended intake.  Fiber is essential to support normal functioning of the digestive system and can help lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation.

Chia seeds are also rich in antioxidants with more antioxidant activity than blueberries. Antioxidants help protect the body from free radicals, aging and cancer.  This high antioxidant profile gives chia seeds a long shelf life; they can last almost two years without refrigeration.

Chia seeds are also high in minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and manganese.  They can be digested whole and do not need to be ground to obtain their nutritional benefits.

Another important benefit?  Chia seeds are gluten-free and gluten allergies are a growing problem today.   My husband has even noticed his hair has become fuller after adding chia seeds to his diet.

How do you eat this nutritional powerhouse?  I add them to my smoothie in the morning, but you can sprinkle them on yogurt, cereal or even in salads.  They can be added to baked goods or simply enjoyed as a snack.   Chia seeds are satiating too due to their high fiber content, protein and gelling action when mixed with liquids.  My smoothie holds me easily until lunch. One tablespoon daily is the suggested serving. You can buy chia seeds at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and natural food stores.    photo-1

So become a chia head – you’ll be healthier for it!

Information compiled from: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/top-10-health-benefits-chia-seeds-6962.html and spectrum essentials.

 

START YOUR DAY WITH AN ORGANIC SMOOTHIE

One of the most nutritious and convenient breakfasts is a delicious organic fruit smoothie.   The Department of Health recommends that we get at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, which research proves reduces the risk of heart disease and some cancers. With a smoothie you can almost get your full day’s requirement in one serving!

Start with 16 ounces of a liquid in your blender.  I prefer a combination of almond milk and kefir and/or yogurt for the calcium and probiotics. You can also use cow’s milk, soy milk, rice milk, hemp milk, 100% fruit juice or water for the liquid.  Experiment with different kinds to see which you like.

Image by Digital Wallpaper

To the liquid, add 2 -3 scoops of protein powder like whey, and then whatever fruits you like.

For the fruit, I start with a banana for the consistency and the nutritional value. In addition to the potassium, its natural sugars give an instant, sustained and substantial energy boost. Avocado is a delicious and healthy thickener as well.  I then add about a cup or more of blueberries or strawberries and pineapple bits (or whatever fresh fruits I have on hand).  Blueberries are powerful anti-oxidants, but make sure you use organic since all berries are heavily sprayed with pesticides. Pineapple is high in Vitamin C, A and manganese and good for arthritis, bones and joints, and indigestion.

Finally, I supplement with hemp, chia seeds, and fish oil for a super source of fiber and Omega 3 fatty acids.  You can also use flax seed powder or oil, another good source of Omega 3.   Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid necessary for our brains and skin and an all around must for good health.

Blend the ingredients for a minute or two and enjoy your delicious, nutritious and easy meal setting you on your way to optimum health for the day. With its abundance of fresh fruit, summer is a good time to get into the smoothie habit.  (The rest of the year use frozen fruit).  Be creative – you’ll feel great!