Have you heard of Chia Seeds? These are tiny little seeds that are native to South America. They have been part of the Aztec diets for centuries. Chia seeds are a “superfood” that you can easily add to your diet. They do not have much of a taste and offer many health benefits.
The Benefits of Chia Seeds
Omega-3 fatty acids – Chia seeds are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s help reduce inflammation, and can help lower triglycerides and blood pressure
Protein – These tiny seeds are packed with protein with 2g of protein per tablespoon.
Fiber – One tablespoon contains 4g of dietary fiber. This is a great way to get your digestive system moving.
Antioxidants – Chia seeds are reported to have 3x the amount of antioxidants than blueberries!
Aide in weight loss – Chia seeds can hold 9-12 times their weight in water, making them help you to feel more full.
What do I do with them?
Add them to any food you cook:
Put them in your drinks
Some people enjoy drinking chia seeds with the gel coat on the outside. You can commonly find chia seeds in Kombucha, a fermented sweet tea that you can find at your local health food store.
Add them to your smoothies
Where can I buy Chia seeds?
– Wholefoods, sprouts, or any other health food store. They should be located in the vitamin section.
My son’s second birthday party was this past weekend, and whereas in the past I would use an occasion to feed other people as an excuse to break the rules and revert to conventional foods (sugar, white flour, fried appetizers, etc.), lately I’ve found it easier and easier to create healthier alternatives and show the people I love just how far you can go with whole foods and clean ingredients. These are some of the tips I’ve put into practice and some of the recipes I made this year, which I’m sure would vary greatly just compared to what we served last year.
1. Don’t forget your fruits and vegetables. If you’re having a tailgate party, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to serve pizza and fried chicken wings. A child’s birthday doesn’t need to equate to Goldfish crackers and chicken nuggets, either — you can think outside of the box OR go back to old standbys, like fruit salad as a side and a crudites platter as an appetizer. There’s no reason to ignore basic nutritional necessities when party planning. After all, these are people you care about! Show it. We ate both of these during our weekend festivities, and I made the dip for the veggies myself.
2. If entertaining stresses you out and the last thing you want to do is add another “burden” to your to-do list by cooking something fresh, pick a recipe that you can make ahead! Even if you just shave off a few steps (like preparing a spice rub a few days before or marinating meat several hours ahead of time), it will make a difference in your mood. Not running around like crazy can make entertaining much more fun! Look for recipes that specifically state that you can make or freeze the food ahead of time, or put two and two together by reading through the steps yourself and calculating how you can save time and hassle on party day. You do NOT need to resort to convenience foods if you give yourself enough time and plan ahead! (I even get all of my ingredients and utensils out ahead of time so that when I do start cooking I have my mis-en-place perfectly organized with time to spare.)
3. Birthday cakes do not have to come from a bakery or a box. I made Deliciously Organic’s coconut cake (in a Mickey Mouse mold, mind you) and frosted it with a mix of heavy cream, maple syrup, mango puree for Mickey’s face and VERY minimal sprinkles for his red tongue and black (chocolate) ears. We even tried the recipe ahead of time to make sure it was delicious, it fit the mold and I could decorate it without it looking like ET instead of a mouse. I was met with success at each step, and I’m convinced it’s because I planned ahead and chose something healthy and sensible that I could stand behind proudly when serving.
4. If your guests offer to bring something, take them up on their offer — and ask them to bring something you’d prepare yourself, like a green salad or side. This is another way to save yourself some time in the end, and with just a little guidance (tell your guests what you’re serving so what would pair well with the menu) anyone who is respectful of your wishes will show up with a sensible and tasty dish.
5. Keep the drinks to a minimum. If you’re not used to stocking sugary sodas, don’t buy them just for a party. The same goes for syrupy mixers and pre-made cocktail blends — if you wouldn’t buy it and drink it yourself, why serve it to your guests? Offer a few simple options like red and white wine, light beer and dark beer and call it a day. If anyone is disappointed with the selection, it’s perfectly acceptable to state the obvious: We don’t drink Coke, so I don’t keep it in the house. Sorry!
There’s always room to improve — I would still make a few tweaks for next year — but overall the party was a great success, people raved about the food and there were very few leftovers (although we did enjoy them and I polished off the last bit of cake just yesterday). And, of course, most importantly, the kids ran around like crazy, we all had fun. All the invited guests but 1 were able to make it, and I think also because of all the planning we did, cleaning up was a cinch. When you plan and execute from a thoughtful place, it shows in many ways.
I’ve just enjoyed my first “real” vegetarian meal, and although I was almost too stressed out to enjoy it (due to work!), it was super good and can be completely modified to your liking!
Bean Griddle Cakes
Full List of Ingredients
1.5c canned cannellini beans
Scant cup organic heavy whipping cream, plus 2T skim milk
Scant cup whole-wheat flour
Table salt and fresh ground pepper
PAM Organic Canola Oil Spray
Toppings of your choice (see below)
Heat the oven to 250 degrees.
Spray a large skillet with PAM, and heat over medium-high heat. Mash the beans with a potato masher; stir in cream, milk, egg, oil and flour. Season it with salt and pepper. The mixture should look just like pancake batter (maybe a little lumpier), so add more milk if you need to thin it out or more flour if it’s too runny.
When the pan is just about smoking hot, drop in the batter in healthy quarter-cup measurements; you can probably cook about three at a time in one skillet. Flip the batter just like you would pancakes — when you start to see a few bubbles rise to the surface. Each cake should cook for about 5 minutes total; keep them warm in a 250-degree oven while you cook the rest of the batter in batches. Makes about 9 cakes; serves 3-4 people.
Here comes the fun part! Are you a pesto fan, perhaps? Have a jar of salsa you’re dying to get rid of now that you’ve given up chips? Break out whatever it is your pretty little heart desires, and dab a little bit on top. My wife even made hers into a sandwich! (Looked a little heavy to me, but whatever floats your boat!) If I’d had it in the house, my vision was to plop a few cakes on some mixed organic spring greens and crumble over top an ounce of goat cheese — with or without a delicious, light balsamic vinaigrette.