Sunday, April 25, 2010

Why Chia?

This weekend has been a blur of activity.  Actually, the last week has been a blur, really.  Cassie and Nathan were in a big play Friday and Saturday, so I was quite busy finishing up costumes and carpooling.  Today there was a big banquet for Girl Scouts, where Cassie received recognition for earning her Silver Award.  It has all been very exciting, but I can honestly say that I am more than ready for things to calm down, so I can get back to cooking, blogging, and starting my garden.  I can't go another day, however, without blogging about something, so here is a subject that I have been getting a lot of questions about lately.

Oh, yeah.  On a side note, my birthday was yesterday, and my personal chef wonderful son, Elijah (12 years old) made me breakfast.  How sweet is that?  I just had to include that in my post today since I didn't have a chance to do it yesterday (too busy with the kids' play).  Here is a picture of my wonderful birthday breakfast (Actually, it's my husband's plate since I had already eaten mine before I thought to take a picture!):

How thoughtful was that?  Happy birthday to me! :-)

Now on to the subject at hand:  chia seeds.  I have had quite a few people ask me these questions over and over again, and no wonder.  Chia seeds haven't been in the limelight very long.  Even though ancient peoples used chia seeds for a power food, they have been largely unknown as such by people in our country until very recently.  So here are answers to some of the questions I have been asked.

Are these chia seeds related to the chia pets?  I instantly can hear, "Ch-ch-ch-chia!" ringing in my head.  Yes, they are one and the same.  In fact, you can sprout your chia seeds to make nutritious sprouts for your salads and sandwiches.  You can also use them to refill your chia pet if you want to.

What do chia seeds taste like?  Chia seeds are very mild in flavor.  I can barely distinguish any flavor at all--especially if I mix them with other things (like vanilla almond milk).  They pretty much pick up the flavor of whatever you put them in.

What can you do with chia seeds?  You can use chia seeds as a thickener.  You can grind them into flour using a coffee grinder, and use the flour in your baking (though you may need to increase the liquid in your recipe).  You can make puddings and thicken your smoothies with chia seeds.  You can make refreshing beverages with chia seeds.  You can make chia gel and add it to your salad dressings, condiments, and other things in order to stretch them farther or to add nutrition.   Chia seeds soak up and retain a lot of liquid, so when you eat them dry, you should make sure you drink a lot to prevent the seeds from taking moisture from your body.  When you take them with a lot of water or juice, they are a great way to hydrate yourself.  One note to add is that when you heat up chia seeds, the live enzymes get killed, as with all living digestive enzymes in foods, so eating them raw will give you the most benefits.  A lot of people add chia seeds to their yogurt or their oatmeal.  If you want to add them to your oatmeal, you could make your oatmeal as usual and then add some cool water with your chia seeds or make chia gel ahead of time and add it.

What are chia seeds similar to?  Chia seeds are very much like flax seeds when it comes to their nutritional value, except they are very stable (don't go rancid).  Chia seeds contain more calcium and provide more energy than flax.  They provide more dietary fiber and less fat than flax.  They also provide a balanced ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs.  They also contain a lot of antioxidants, whereas the flax seeds don't have any.  Chia seeds help regulate blood sugar levels, enabling diabetics to keep their sugar levels from spiking as much.  They slow digestion of carbohydrates and can aid in weight loss by making you feel full longer.

Why are chia seeds so healthy?  This question is partially answered by my answer to the previous question.  On top of that information, I will add that chia seeds are a good source of protein and contain calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, vitamin C, vitamin A, and many of the B vitamins.  Chia seeds are a great source of antioxidants, amino acids, and essential fatty acids.

Do you have any recipes for using chia seeds?  I am currently coming up with recipes.  Right now, I have 3 recipes for chia seed pudding on my blog.  I have a recipe for meat loaf that I am currently perfecting (almost done) that uses chia seeds.  I am also working on a Chocolate Rum Raisin Pudding using chia seeds that I blend in the blender until smooth.  I plan on coming up with many more recipes over the coming months that I will be sharing.  In the meantime, you can find lots of recipes online.  Just do a google search.  There is also a good book, The Magic of Chia, that you can find on for a decent price.  I plan on ordering that book soon.  I am interested in looking at the many recipes included in it.

How much does chia cost?  Is it expensive?  There seems to be a wide variety of prices on chia seeds.  I was recently disappointed to find that our local health food store is trying to sell chia seeds for over $30.00 per pound!  I found chia seeds on for $4.59 per pound, with free shipping!  I have found the seeds for many prices in between, but Amazon is the cheapest.  Considering that a small amount goes a long way, I feel that it is a decent price to pay.  I believe the price will probably lower as chia seeds become more and more popular.  Incidentally, if you purchase the seeds through amazon for that price, you have to buy a 5 pound bag of them.  You can purchase a smaller amount, though the price will be slightly more per pound.  Just do a search on amazon for chia seeds.  Even with the slightly higher per pound price, it may still be cheaper than at your local store.

You can find more information and a few recipes on chia seeds here:

The Chia Cheat Sheet and 10 Recipes

The Secret of Chia:  An Interview with James Scheer
Herbs are Special:  Chia
The Raw Food World:  Chia

Disclaimer:  I have included links in this post that will take you to several places where chia seeds are being sold.  I am including them only because there is valuable information on those sites that you may be interested in.  I am in no way advertising for these particular companies, and I am not making any money from them.  The information you will find at these places can also be found in The Magic of Chia book as well as other websites and/or books, not just sites that are trying to sell a product.
Do a google search for chia seeds and you will find a lot of information and recipes.

That's it for now.  I will continue to update this page as I find new interesting information.  Does anyone have any questions or comments?  Please ask your questions or leave comments in the comments section under this post, and I will respond as soon as I can.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cinnamon-Raisin Chia Pudding

This morning's breakfast was a variation of the Chia Pudding recipes I've done so far.  This time, I used Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk, vanilla stevia, cinnamon, and raisins, and I heated it in the microwave for a minute because I was freezing and just wanted a comforting, warm breakfast.  Those of you who really know me know that I am not a big fan of cooking in the microwave, but once in a while I succumb to my desire for something warm, fast, and easy.  This morning was one of those times.  Anyway, I discovered that heating the pudding up gets rid of most of the slight "crunch" that the chia seeds seem to have, even after they sit and soak all night in the fridge (not that I dislike the texture of the other puddings, because I do love them).  I really loved the texture of this pudding.  It kind of reminds me of tapioca pudding.  The flavor of this pudding is reminiscent of traditional rice pudding.  I'm sure you could heat this up on your stove instead of the microwave, which is what I will probably do in the future when I make it (dislike the microwave).

Cinnamon-Raisin Chia Pudding
2 Tbs. chia seeds
1/2 c. Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk*
13 drops NuNaturals Alcohol-Free Vanilla Stevia
handful of raisins
dashes of cinnamon, to taste

Whisk together the chia seeds, milk, cinnamon, and stevia.  Stir in the raisins.  Heat in a microwavable, glass bowl for 1 minute, then allow to sit for maybe 10  minutes (or heat up on the stove just until hot, then allow to sit).  The pudding will finish thickening and will cool to an "eatable" temperature.  Taste and add more cinnamon or stevia, if desired.

Personally, I don't mind these chia puddings raw and cold.  The slight "crunch" of the seeds just adds texture to me, but I know some won't like that (like my daughter, Cassie), and I think it's better to eat chia seeds warm than not at all even though I know that cooking them probably decreases the nutrients a little bit.

*Sometimes I like to add an extra tablespoon or two of almond milk.  It provides a "softer set" pudding than this recipe normally makes.  To make this raw, you can substitute any homemade nut milk you would like.

Monday, April 12, 2010

"Cheeze" Sauce and Chicken and Broccoli Casserole (DF)

Breakfast this morning was a bowl of Mesa Sunrise flakes with vanilla almond milk, a dash or two of cinnamon, raisins, and some cut-up dried apple pieces.  It was so good.  The combination of cinnamon with the vanilla almond milk reminded me of those sugar-filled cinnamon cereals you buy in the store.  The kids also ate some fresh fruit.

This morning was a nice, relaxed morning for me.  I spent some time on the computer and just making sure the kids were on track with school.  Then I came up with some ideas for tonight's dish-to-pass dinner at Boy Scouts.  I always have a hard time deciding what to make for these things since I know that many people don't want to eat the foods that we eat, and I feel like I want to make something that everyone will like.  To make things even harder, we had to bring a main dish as well as a side dish, and I had to take Moriah to Girl Scouts for a couple of hours, leaving little time to be creative and cook something awesome afterward.

I decided that the best thing to do would be to make a casserole of some kind, and since I already had some cooked chicken breasts and some broccoli, I figured it was time for me to create a nice "cheeze" sauce that I could use to bring it all together with some rice into a chicken/broccoli casserole.  This is something I have been wanting to do for a long time and have been putting off because I just didn't feel like I was at a point of knowing my dairy-free ingredients enough to create something delicious with them that would be a suitable substitute for cream soups and/or sauces.  However, I do feel confident now, and fully ready to embark on such a journey.  Let me tell you, my family is soooo glad I did!  This has got to be the best dairy-free cheezy saucy stuff I have ever had.  You can adjust the thickness and use it as a light sauce or a thicker sauce.  You can use it as a substitute for those canned cream soups in recipes.  You can flavor it with different herbs, garlic, etc.  You can use it to make cream of whatever soup.  This is going to be so versatile.  Tonight I used it to make Chicken and Broccoli Casserole, which I served with Honey Gingered Carrots.  Even Nathan loved it!  (My only thought of improvement with the casserole was to make sure I add enough of the sauce because the rice absorbs the liquid as it bakes, and I like my casseroles saucy.  I tried to make this adjustment in the recipe listed below, but you will have to gauge it for yourself, whether or not it's saucy enough for you.  Perhaps put a little less rice in it to begin with and then add more rice until it is the consistency you like.  It's very versatile for you to make changes as you see fit.)* 

Dessert was Gluten-Free Betty Crocker Brownies, which I made after we got home from the dinner.  Hey, I'm not perfect.  Sometimes I use mixes, like when it's 7:30 at night, and everyone around us at the dinner was eating chocolate cake and brownies, and I know I don't have time to bake brownies from scratch before the kids have to be in bed!

"Cheeze" Sauce 
1 (32 oz.) carton unsweetened MimicCreme*
5-7 Tbs. sweet rice flour (depending on how thick you want your sauce)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 onion
5 Tbs. nutritional yeast
2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1 Tbs. raw apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs. tahini
2 t. salt
1 t. curry
1/4 t. pepper
1/4 c. Earth Balance

Blend 1 cup of the MimicCreme with the garlic, onion, yeast, vinegar, tahini, salt, curry, and pepper until smooth.  Pour the rest of the MimicCreme in a medium saucepan.  Whisk the blender contents into the rest of the MimicCreme and continue to whisk over medium heat for about 10 minutes to thicken and get rid of the raw flour taste.  Stir or whisk in the Earth Balance until melted and well mixed.  Taste your sauce.  Does it need anything else?  What are you planning on putting it in?

*MimicCreme can be found at our local Down to Earth health food store.  Our Wegmans carries the sweetened version, but not the unsweetened.  The sweetened version can be used in place of cream in making homemade ice cream!  For those of you who don't live in my area, check your local health food stores and/or Wegmans.  Perhaps your Wegmans has the unsweetened MimicCreme.  Also, you can order it online or through your local food co-op.  I know it's cheaper through my food co-op than at the store.

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole (DF)
4 chicken breast halves, cut in small, bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 lbs. broccoli florets
1 batch "Cheeze" Sauce

dashes of celery salt
1/4 - 1/2 c. blanched almond flour
3 c. uncooked brown rice, cooked in rice cooker with 1 bouillon cube and 5 1/2 c. water

Mix the chicken pieces, florets, rice*, and cheeze sauce in a big pan, then spread it in a cake pan or casserole dish.  Lightly dash some celery salt across the top, being careful not to use too much since it is strong.  Sprinkle blanched almond flour on top.  Cover and bake 30 minutes, then uncover and bake 5 more minutes.  Try putting together the ingredients and freeze it.  Thaw and bake it when you need it.

*Update 4/27/10--I will be making this casserole by keeping the rice separate from now on.  I will mix the sauce, chicken, and broccoli, baking them with the bread crumbs on top.  Then I will put rice on each individual plate, topping it off with the chicken and broccoli casserole.  This will prevent the rice from soaking up all of the sauce.
Note:  There are variables in this recipe, like the size of the chicken breast halves, if you are using frozen florets, if you use white rice instead of brown, etc.  You will have to gauge whether or not you have enough sauce for all the rice, broccoli, and chicken you intend to use.  You may want to set aside a couple of cups of the mixture before you add the sauce, and then just add as much of the reserved mix as you want.  You want the casserole to have enough sauce because as it bakes the rice will absorb some of it.  If you want to make a little more sauce, you could just add a little unsweetened rice milk and a little more sweet rice flour, but you might need to add a little more of the seasonings, as well.
                                           Mmmm.  Brownies!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Pizza Tonight!!

Today was a pretty low-key day spent cleaning and organizing my kitchen.  Cassie and Nathan had history play practice while Elijah and Moriah spent their day playing and watching movies, enjoying their spring vacation.  We have been so busy lately that we decided that tonight would be family night.  Tonight was also pizza night.  We rented a movie to watch with the kids, and then we watched Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution (anybody else out there like this new show?).

We all decided a couple of weeks ago that it would be nice to have specific dinners on specific days of the week.  I think things are so hectic in our lives that it's nice to have something "set" to count on, so the kids decided they want Friday nights to be "Pizza Night" and Monday nights to be "Fish Night."  It sounds like something fun to try, so we're doing it for now.

Using Sarah's GF Whole-Grain All-Purpose Flour Mix and slightly altering a recipe from King Arthur Flour for gluten free pizza crust, we have a winner here, folks.  My family loves this recipe, enough to eat it every Friday night!  First, check out these cool pictures.  Moriah and Elijah got so excited, asking if I would please post pictures of their personal pizzas tonight.  For your viewing pleasure, we have:
Moriah's personal pizza, featuring black olive "glasses" and "nose," zucchini "eyes," and a pepperoni "mouth."  She said, "Look, Mommy, I made you!"
 Then we have Elijah's creative masterpiece.  Pepperoncini peppers for "eyes, nose, and mouth" and sun-dried tomatoes for "ears and a chin!"  He also used black olives, pepperoni, and mozzarella cheese.
Finally, there's mine.  I used sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, zucchini slices, and pepperoncini peppers.  I topped it all off with dabs of my Dairy-Free Cheeze Dip I didn't use the chopped chiles, to make it less "nacho" flavored for the pizza).  Mmm.
The other kids are too old to think it's "cool" to play with your food and post pictures of it on Mom's blog!

Gluten-Free, Whole-Grain Pizza Crust  (serves 4-6, makes 1 pizza 10" to 14")

1 1/2 c. Sarah's GF Whole-Grain All-Purpose Flour Mix
2 Tbs. blanched almond flour
1 Tbs. sugar or honey
1 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
1 t. xanthan gum
1 1/2 t. instant yeast
1 c. warm water
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. dried basil

First, thoroughly mix all the dry ingredients except the yeast in your mixer bowl.  If you are using honey instead of sugar, add it to the liquid ingredients in the next step.  Then, mix your liquid ingredients along with the yeast and 1/2 c. of the dry ingredient mixture in a small bowl.  You don't need to mix this hard, just enough to get the yeast spread around in the liquid.  Let your liquid mixture sit until it is all foamy (up to 30 minutes). 

Using your stand or electric mixer, beat the liquid mixture into the dry, adding it in small amounts and mixing until it's all mixed in.  Beat on medium-high for 3-4 minutes.  The texture of your dough will not be like traditional pizza dough.  It's not going to be springy.  It will be kind of sticky-gooey.  Leaving the dough in the mixer bowl, cover and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.

Next, dip a plastic spatula/scraper in a bowl of water, and use it to scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a parchment lined cookie sheet or pizza pan.  You can try oiling your cookie sheet, but it has been my experience that oiling just doesn't keep the dough from sticking enough for us.  In fact, I line my cookie sheets with parchment paper almost every time I bake because of the tendency for gluten-free flours to stick. Note:  My kids like it when I divide the dough into personal pizzas, with their own little cookie sheets.

Continue to dip your spatula in the water as needed to keep the dough from sticking to it as you spread the dough to the desired shape and thickness.  We prefer thinner crust, so we spread it to about 1/4" thickness.  Allow your crust to sit and rest another 15 minutes, uncovered this time.  While your crust sits, preheat your oven to 425 F.

Bake your crust to set it.  This can take up to 10 minutes, but it all depends on how thick your crust is and how big your pizza(s) is/are.  For instance, if you are doing personal pizzas, it might not take as long since they are much smaller than one big pizza.  Our crust is usually pretty thin, so it takes around 8 minutes, but it takes a little less time if we are doing personal pizzas.  If you make a really thick crust, it might take longer than 10 minutes.  You'll have to look at it and kind of see what you think.  Is it firm enough to put your toppings on without making it gooey?  You don't want it completely done, yet, either.

Take your crust out of the oven and put your toppings on.  Bake it some more until the dough is done and the toppings are cooked to your liking.  Again, it depends on the thickness of your crust, the size of your pizza(s), and the toppings you have put on.  This can take 8-15 minutes.

Take your pizza out of the oven, cut it with a pizza cutter, and serve.  Enjoy!

We always double this recipe since I have 3 teenagers at home.  We never have leftovers!

What about you?  Do you have any weekly or monthly family meal traditions, some set schedule that helps your life be less hectic?  Leave a comment, if you do.  Tell me about it.

Strawberry Banana Protein Shake (DF)

Since Nathan is so underweight, we are trying to help him gain weight and grow by adding protein to his diet.  It does seem to be helping, though I have noticed that he is making himself eat more food in general on his own, since he has been concerned about being so much smaller than his friends.  He has gained 4 lbs. in the last month.

In my efforts to increase protein in Nate's diet, I have been making protein shakes for him.  Being a woman, I am always thinking chocolate, but he informed me the other day that he is getting too much chocolate and wants another flavor.  I thought these shakes would taste nasty, but I was pleasantly surprised that they are quite good.  In fact, I made enough shake for all of us to have some with our lunch today.  This version is what I made for me and the other kids.  Nathan's was made with 1/2 a can of Thai Kitchens Coconut Milk plus some water instead of the cashews and water. (I have also been increasing the fats in his diet.)  Nathan is my pickiest eater, and he does like these protein shakes.

Strawberry Banana Protein Shake
2 c. cold water
1/2 c. raw cashews
4 Tbs. Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro 50 protein powder
7 pitted dates
2 frozen bananas
6-8 large frozen strawberries
vanilla stevia to taste (I used 14 drops.)

Blend the water, cashews, protein powder, and dates until smooth.  This may take a minute or so depending on your blender.  Add the bananas, strawberries, and stevia, blending just until smooth and thick.  If you would like yours thicker, you can add more fruit.  If it's too thick, add a touch more water just to get it going.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Vanilla Chia Pudding (DF)

Thursdays are usually my busiest days, and today was no exception.  I got up early and had to run to help at our local food co-op this morning.  I didn't have much time for breakfast, just enough time to through together this Vanilla Chia Pudding.  I loved the Snickerdoodle Chia Pudding so much I decided to try vanilla, and it is so easy to make.  I just made it in one of those Pyrex dishes with a lid and took it with me to eat when I felt hungry.  Averie also makes several great chia seed puddings and recipes that spurred my interest in trying it.  My recipe is similar to hers but with different sweetener since I don't like agave.

Vanilla Chia Pudding 

2 Tbs. chia seeds
1/2 c. sweetened vanilla almond milk*
NuNaturals Alcohol Free Vanilla Stevia to taste

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and let sit for 1/2 hour.  You can put in fridge or eat now.  Enjoy!  Note:  The longer you let it sit, the thicker it will get.  I usually make this pudding at night and refrigerate it until breakfast the next morning.  I love eating chia pudding for breakfast!

*This makes a pretty thick pudding.  I usually add an extra tablespoon or so of the almond milk to make it a little "softer set."  Also, you can use unsweetened vanilla almond milk and use the vanilla stevia or some regular stevia and a little vanilla to sweeten and flavor it.  To make this raw, you can use any homemade nut milk you would like. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Dairy Free Nacho Cheeze Dip

Here's an extra recipe for today.  I've been trying to perfect a dairy-free cheeze substitute recipe, and I have finally perfected one.  My family is so excited about this dip.  Everyone loves it, and it really does taste cheezy!  I made some today and added a can of chopped chiles for nacho cheese dip to go with tortillas.  Averie has some nice dairy-free cheeze recipes on her blog that helped inspire this recipe, along with other recipes I have come across online that gave me the courage to try this.  

12/29/10--I just edited this recipe because over time I have made some slight changes.  I doubled the amounts I originally posted because I always have to double it anyway.  It keeps in the fridge for probably 4 days or so, though it never lasts that long for us since it gets eaten fast!  I also have started using a small can of sliced jalapenos as well as the can of chopped chilis, and I added 1/4 t. of McCormick Spicy Chili Powder.  If the jalapenos add too much heat for you, just use 2 cans of chopped chilis instead.  To make this recipe raw, you can use a fresh, de-seeded jalapeno pepper instead of canned chilis and jalapenos.
                                           Check out the cheezy goodness!

DF Cheeze Dip
2 c. raw cashews
1- 1 1/2 c. cold water
3 Tbs. lemon juice
6 Tbs. Nutritional Yeast
2 Tbs. tahini
1 1/2 t. paprika
1 Tbs. salt 
1 1/2 t. onion powder
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. spicy chili powder
1 small can chopped chiles
1 small can sliced jalapenos

Soak the cashews in clean cold water for an hour or two.  Then drain and rinse them.  Blend all the ingredients in your blender.  I don't have a Vita-Mix, so it takes a little more water for me to get the blender to work it.  I just stand over the blender and add a touch of water, maybe a tablespoon at a time until I see the dip start churning in the pitcher.  If you have a Vita-Mix, you won't have to use as much water.  Just use as little or as much as your tastes desire.  I have made this dip without soaking the cashews first, using a little more water in the recipe.  It still tastes good, though the texture is not as creamy.  Don't use the soaking water in your recipe.   

This makes about 3 c. dip.

Sarah's GF Whole-Grain Sandwich Rounds

This week starts the big cram for the kids' homeschool co-op history play.  Cassie and Nathan are participating in the grand event this year, so I have been busy with a lot of sewing (history costumes and also 12 dance skirts for Moriah's dance team) over the last couple of months.  I only have 2 costumes left to make, and then I have all the little stuff to do (button holes, buttons, trims, etc.).  I am so glad it's almost done.  The play is in 3 weeks, so the kids will be having practices a lot more than usual.  This week they'll practice 2 days, 4 hrs. each practice.  Next week they'll practice 3 days, 4 hrs. each practice, and the following week they'll practice every day, 5 hrs. each day, culminating with the play Friday night and Saturday afternoon.  Then they'll have a showing the following Saturday, as well.

Also, with Elijah's baseball practices starting up this week, things are going to be very hectic.  That being said, I will have little time to do a lot of cooking.  To start things off well, I decided to make some sandwich rounds.  I have a dozen hard boiled eggs just waiting to be turned into egg salad, and I have canned tuna for those who prefer that.  This sandwich round recipe comes from my sister, Sarah.  These are whole-grain, so they are heavier than white bread.  They kind of remind me of some of the whole-grain breads I used to eat that I really loved.  They weren't light and airy.  They were substantial and filling, as well as delicious.  I shaped these buns into flat (maybe 1/2" thick), round discs.  They turn out similar to the sandwich rounds that you see in the stores now.  These make delicious and filling sandwiches, and my sister says she likes to toast them like English muffins, as well.  I haven't tried them that way, yet.  I can't stop eating them as sandwiches!  I make 22 sandwich rounds with this recipe because I make them fairly small (they are filling), but you can make them a little bigger if you like.  I will be making more either tomorrow or Friday, so I can freeze a bunch.  Sarah freezes them whole and thaws them in her wide-slot toaster before slicing them.  I will probably slice them before freezing since I don't have a toaster and don't like to use the microwave too much. These sandwich rounds are not all crumbly like some other gluten-free breads I have tried.

                                          (Please excuse the fine china!--Look at the texture!)

Sarah's GF Whole-Grain Sandwich Rounds
6 1/3 c. Sarah's GF Whole-Grain All-Purpose Flour Mix
6 Tbs. evaporated cane juice
5 t. xanthan gum 
2 Tbs. instant yeast
3 t. salt
1/3 c. + 3 Tbs. egg whites (OR 2 eggs + 2 egg whites)
2 1/4 c. club soda or water, warmed (or seltzer water)
2 t. raw apple cider vinegar, warmed with the club soda
1/2 c. light-tasting olive oil (I used regular pure olive oil)

Turn your oven on warm and turn it off just before putting the rounds in to rise.
Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In your mixer bowl lightly beat the eggs.  Add the warmed club soda mixture, vinegar, and oil, beating until mixed.  Slowly pour in the dry ingredients and beat on medium speed until it forms a smooth dough, then beat on high for 2 minutes.  Dip a spatula in water and scrape 1/2 of the dough onto a counter that has been dusted with brown rice flour.  The dough will be sticky, so you should flip it over a couple of times on the floured counter, lightly covering the surface of your dough with rice flour.  Pull off a piece of dough maybe a little larger than a golf ball and a little smaller than a tennis ball (bigger if you want large sandwich rounds).  Pat it into a round, flat disc about 1/2" thick, or thicker if you want your rounds to be thicker.

                                          (Before rising)

Place the disc on a parchment-lined cookie sheet (or greased cookie sheet) and put in your warmed oven to rise for 45 minutes.  Pull out the rounds and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
                                             (After rising)

While your oven is preheating, brush the tops of your rounds with olive oil, or spray with olive oil.  Bake for around 20 minutes, until internal temperature is 205 degrees.  My sister checks hers with a meat thermometer.  I don't bother checking.  Mine still turn out fine.  Cool on wire racks.  

Dinner tonight was egg salad sandwiches (a real treat since I rarely bake bread), DF Nacho Cheeze Dip with organic yellow tortilla chips, and fresh fruit.  Yum!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lori's Snickerdoodle Chia Pudding (Dairy-free)

Yesterday was a good day for me.  I started out working on a post for another blog I write along with my husband, Chuck.  (The post is not up, yet, because Chuck is adding to it.)  Then, I took Moriah to see Alice in Wonderland.  She has been waiting to see it for such a long time.  She really enjoyed her time with Mommy, and the movie was great, too.  I rested for awhile after getting back home (Eating movie theater popcorn and drinking soda does not agree with me.) then I heated up some leftover Taco Soup, added some cooked long grain brown rice and tortilla chips, and voila!  Dinner was served.  Then Elijah and I headed out to go shopping for baseball stuff.  He needed cleats, a new water bottle, and some other things.  (I am thinking of stopping at Wegman's today to pick up some coconut water, the best sports drink around, so he will have something good to drink after practice tonight.)

When I got home with Elijah last night, I decided to try making some pudding.  I have been working on pudding recipes for a few days, trying to come up with the absolutely perfect dairy-free chocolate pudding recipe ever.  I am still working on it, but I have had enough chocolate pudding for now and thought something else might be refreshing.  I have been following a recipe blog the last few months, and I noticed that the blog's owner, Averie, does a lot of dairy-free pudding recipes of her own that look quite interesting.  I had heard chia seeds were very good for you and purchased some back in January.  One of my goals for this year was to try cooking with them.  They have been sitting in my cabinet for months, waiting to be tried.  (I said they look interesting, not exactly appetizing.)

However, I kept reading peoples' reviews of Averie's puddings and decided I just had to try my own.  Thus, my Snickerdoodle Chia Pudding recipe was born.  It's very similar to Averie's basic recipe, but I used honey and cinnamon.  My family loves cinnamon, so this was really refreshing to us.  I don't normally share recipes so soon after trying them, however my picky boys both tried my pudding and absolutely loved it, asking for some more in the morning.  I decided to make everyone their own bowl of it for this morning.  Pudding for breakfast?  Maybe...if it's chia pudding!

Lori's Snickerdoodle Chia Pudding
2 Tbs. chia seeds
1/2 c. sweetened vanilla almond milk*
1 Tbs. honey, to taste
vanilla flavored stevia, to taste
1/2 t. vanilla
1/4 - 1/2 t. cinnamon, to taste (1/2 t. was too much for kiddos' tastes.  They prefer closer to 1/4 t, though 
                  I liked 1/2 t.)

Mix all of the ingredients together using a whisk to incorporate everything completely.  Let it sit for 1/2 hour on your counter, then stir it again, cover, and put it in your fridge to finish thickening up and get cold.

*Sometimes I add an extra tablespoon or two of almond milk.  It provides a "softer set" pudding than this recipe normally makes.  You can use unsweetened almond milk and then just use vanilla stevia to sweeten, if you desire.  Also, to make this raw you can substitute any homemade nut milk you would like.

You can eat the pudding after 1/2 hour on your counter, but it will thicken even more if you give it some more time in your fridge.  I ate my first batch about 1 1/2 hours after mixing it up.  This recipe is for 1 person.  I bought some of those little Pyrex bowls with the plastic lids just for the purpose of making individual pudding cups for everyone, since making pudding seems to be my thing right now.  They're perfect.

I didn't have any stevia for this recipe (I accidentally left it at my sister's house last month.), so I made it with  honey.  It was great.  I will be picking up some more vanilla-flavored stevia today, so when I make this pudding in the future, I will use 1 Tbs. honey, 1/4 - 1/2 t. cinnamon, and some vanilla stevia to sweeten it even a little bit more.  Then it will be perfect for us.  If you don't have stevia, you can just use honey and maybe add a little more than what the recipe calls for, according to your taste.

Click here and here for some more information on chia seeds and some extra recipes.

So what about you?  Do you have a favorite flavor for pudding?  A favorite dairy-free pudding recipe to share?