Easy peasy. That is what this breakfast is. After a fun girls trip to Miami, I made a big batch of pumpkin chia pudding so the morning of my re-entry would go just a little bit smoother. I liked it so much that I’ve made it my breakfast every day this week.
Backing up a little bit…so I went to Miami this past weekend for the first time ever. I had no idea it could be so much fun! I went with a great group of girls (my soon to be sister-in-law was one of them), and we had the best time. I will be returning again for sure…maybe for my 40th birthday next year?? Anyone want to join me??
Any time I travel, I lose control over what goes in my food. Because I’ve been eating healthy for so long now, my body craves fruits, veggies, nuts, eggs, fish, etc. and I pretty much continue to eat that way even away from home. But when I’m on vacation, I’m on VACATION! I make it a point to try new foods and enjoy those foods I don’t eat every day, especially desserts, and I do so completely guilt free. Adopting a healthy diet will never last if you try to do it 100% of the time. I shoot for eating the healthiest foods 90% of the time and allow myself to have a little FUN the other 10%. Food is a big part of life, and I do not want to miss out. Vacation always comes to an end, and I will be back at home eating my kale in no time at all.
After a weekend as enjoyable as the one I just had, it always feels good to get back home and do a little mini cleanse. Chia seeds are an effective detoxing food. Each of those little bitty seeds swells up and absorbs anything in its path while passing through my digestive system, acting like a little vacuum or broom, ridding my body of toxins along the way. Plus, chia seeds contain lots of valuable nutrients and electrolytes, and because they are also soluble fiber (meaning they absorb water and liquid), they move slowly through my digestive system, promoting hydration and helping my body retain those electrolytes.
When I got home on Sunday night, I made a basic chia pudding. I combined 1/3 cup of chia seeds with 1 cup almond milk (coconut milk works too) in a sealed container. I love these glass containers I picked up from The Container Store. I have a ton of them and use them to store all of my nuts and seeds in the fridge. Nuts and seeds go rancid within a few months, so because I usually buy them in bulk, it’s important to refrigerate or freeze them.
The next morning, I combined the chia pudding with a can of organic pumpkin (in a BPA free can), pumpkin pie spice, and English toffee stevia in the small Vitamix container. I blended the ingredients together in the Vitamix to make a creamy pudding. This recipe makes about 4 servings, and the pudding stays good when stored in the fridge for about 4 to 5 days.
I chose to sweeten the pudding with stevia (a super sweet herb from South America) to minimize sugar (even natural sugar) upon returning. Whenever I travel, sugar seems to be my main indulgence, so after coming home, I’m ready to break away from it. Stevia is a smart choice because it has absolutely no sugar, not even natural sugar. In fact, it has no calories at all! And there’s even more good news. Stevia goes further to actually benefit your pancreas help your body regulate blood sugar.
As toppings, I chose a honeycrisp apple and walnuts but feel free to shake things up and get creative with your toppings. Here’s a few ideas for inspiration: berries, banana, pear, peach, plum, mango, pineapple, figs, mandarin oranges, pistachios, slivered almonds, coconut ribbons, pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs, sesame seeds, pomegranate seeds, raisins, dried cranberries, dried mangoes…and the list could go on…
- ⅓ cup chia seeds
- 1 cup almond or coconut milk
- 1 can organic pumpkin
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 2-4 droppers of English toffee stevia
- 2 apples, chopped
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- The night before, combine chia seeds and almond milk in a sealed container and put in the refrigerator.
- The next day, combine chia pudding with the can of pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and English toffee stevia in a Vitamix, and blend until smooth.
- Divide pumpkin chia pudding into 4 bowls, and top with chopped apple and chopped walnuts.
Ugh. It’s allergy season, and it seems like everywhere I go people are sick. Sneezing, coughing, miserable. As a life long sufferer of seasonal allergies, I know that spring and fall are the worst times of year – when pollen counts are the highest. Spring is notorious for tree pollen and in the fall, it’s ragweed. Seasonal allergies leave you with chronically inflamed sinus cavities, itchy eyes, drainage, and a nagging cough.
Since cleaning up my diet, I’ve experienced relief from my allergies I never thought I could. They aren’t completely remedied – certain times of year I can tell my body wants to rev up and fight for no reason – but there is no comparison in how I used to feel to how I feel now.
If you’ve read anything about me on my blog, you know that I truly believe food has the power to heal and drastically improve how you feel. Food is information that actually communicates with your genes and influences your gene expression. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet gives your body nutrients that provide information so your body can accomplish necessary processes that reduce overall inflammation. For example, omega 6 fatty acids tell your body to ignite an inflammatory response, necessary to initiate healing when you are injured or sick, and omega 3 fatty acids tell your body to calm down and decrease inflammation.
Those of us that suffer from seasonal allergies have an immune system that recognizes various pollens in the air as foreign and potentially harmful, stimulating the processes necessary to take care of these threatening particles. Basically, our bodies immediately call all the troops into battle to fight and protect the body. During peak allergy season, our bodies are constantly in contact with these pollens, so our bodies are in a constant state of inflammation – in full attack mode all the time. When our bodies are perpetually inflamed, we feel sluggish, foggy-headed, and just plain yucky. Plus, inflammation puts us in a weak and vulnerable state, susceptible to other opportunistic viruses, bacteria, and fungus.
So how can we use food as information to tell our bodies to stop the inflammatory process? Eat those foods that provide nutrients that communicate to our bodies to calm down. An anti-inflammatory diet is really very simple looks like this: eat all of those natural foods that are not processed or packaged like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, pasture-raised eggs, wild fish, and naturally raised meats.
One example of an anti-inflammatory meal is this curry salmon salad. It’s quick and easy to make, and I can double the recipe to feed our family more than one meal.
I started with two 6 ounce salmon fillets – seasoned them with salt and pepper and then baked them at 325 degrees for 17-19 minutes. Do not over bake or the salmon becomes dry. I chose wild salmon from Alaska, which is rich in anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids in the most easily used form for our bodies – DHA and EPA. After the salmon fillets cooled, I used a fork to break up the fish.
Next I made an easy homemade mayonnaise with eggs from chickens fed an omega-3 rich diet. Packaged condiments are notorious for containing hidden sugar and gluten (which both promote inflammation), so I find it healthiest and freshest to just make my own most of the time. My favorite homemade mayonnaise recipe is from Mark’s Daily Apple: Homemade Ghee Mayo.
I chopped some purple onion, celery, and purple grapes to go in the salad. All three of these have anti-inflammatory nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, quercetin, and sulfur.
Spices with a kick are a potent decongestant, so whenever my allergies or a cold is flaring up, I liberally add them to my meals. Anyone who likes spicy foods knows they stimulate those mucous linings to break up and release, relieving congestion. Curry is a spice blend that originated in southeast Asia and usually contains mustard seeds, coriander, cumin, red chili powder, and turmeric (which is famous for its anit-inflammatory effect) and sometimes ginger, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, cardamom, and fennel too.
I combined the salmon, onions, celery, grapes, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, curry powder, slivered almonds, and a little sea salt in a medium sized bowl. After stirring the ingredients together, I served the curry salmon salad over a bed of spinach.
- 2 6 ounce wild salmon fillets
- ⅓ cup homemade mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- ¼ cup chopped purple onion
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 cup halved purple grapes
- ½ cup slivered almonds
- salt to taste
- Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper, and bake at 325 degrees for 17 - 19 minutes.
- Let salmon cool, transfer to a bowl, and break up fish with a fork.
- Combine salmon and the remaining ingredients in a medium sized bowl, and stir together.
- Serve over a bed of greens or wrapped in a lettuce leaf.