Tag Archives: fruit

Finding the Right Ratio: Basic Chia-Yogurt Mix

1 Oct

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I publicly announced my dabbling with chia pudding over the summer. Even though I adore chia seeds sprinkled in smoothies and oatmeal and baked goods, for a long time, I could not bring myself to adore chia pudding. Finally, after gleaning through what seemed like a zillion different variations on chia pudding and nixing the few not-so-great combos I tested at home, I found my go-to ratio that I truly do adore:

2 tablespoons chia seeds to 2/3 cup yogurt-water mix (a heaping 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt + a scant 1/3 cup water)

I think the yogurt is really key. The thickness of the Greek yogurt provides a nice consistency, and the water loosens things ever so slightly. Mix everything in a jar the night before. The next morning, spoon the mixture into a bowl (or keep in the jar for an on-the-go breakfast) and add toppings! Coconut chips, granola, fruit, and nut butter are my go-to’s.

The berries in the picture above were frozen and I heated them in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Sometimes I toss the berries in when they are still frozen. Different strokes.

Last month, I attended an acai bowl class at Sweetgreen taught by Ksenia of Breakfast Criminals. Her class inspired me to start “decorating” my breakfast, and I definitely feel more excited about eating when my bowl/plate looks colorful and pretty.

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I have been eating variations of my Basic Chia-Yogurt mix for the last month, at least two or three times a week, so I can now say that this ratio has been well-tested and given my seal of approval.

Sometimes I use a mix of chia, buckwheat, and hemp seeds instead of plain chia seeds. Change it up. Use the Basic Chia-Yogurt Mix as your starting ratio, then add in whatever looks good.

Basic Chia-Yogurt Mix

serves 1

The night before, mix together in a jar:

2 tablespoons chia seeds

heaping 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt 

scant (aka slightly less than) 1/3 cup water

Stir, let it sit for 5 minutes, then stir again and place in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, either keep the chia-yogurt mix in the jar, or pour it out into a bowl. Sprinkle in your favorite fruity/crunchy/creamy toppings. I like a sprinkle of each of the following:

granola // coconut chips // fruit (fresh, frozen, or dried) // nut butter 

Blueberry Compote (with gin!)

1 Sep

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David Lebovitz said I should put gin in my blueberry compote. So I did.

In the headnote of his recipe, Lebovitz writes, “…Gin’s herbaceous flavor does indeed marry nicely with blueberries–it can hardly be tasted once cooked, but somehow it just rounds out the blueberry notes…”

I was immediately sold. I took out a saucepan, set it on the stove, and proceeded to make what is now my favorite fruit-based “condiment” of the summer (I imagine another similar summer berry, such as a blackberry, could be substituted for the blueberry).

Cooking the blueberries helped bring out that intense deep blue color and concentrated the flavor, giving off a quintessential blueberry smell. The texture of the berries changed, too, leaving the sometimes-mushy consistency of a fresh blueberry behind and highlighting a blueberry that bursts and oozes a juicy filling instead. Nature’s gushing candy!

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Toss blueberries in a pot with a little sugar and a little gin and cook the mix for just a few minutes until the blueberries soften and begin to release their juices. 

That’s the shorthand version of the recipe. 3 ingredients. 1 pot. 5 minutes.

Serve chilled, room temperature, or slightly warm. I have been enjoying the compote with a generous scoop of plain yogurt, and spooned atop pancakes. It would also pair well with: oatmeal, ice cream, cake, nut-butter toast.

Blueberry Compote (with gin!)

from David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert; makes about 2 cups

*When I made the compote, I had slightly under 2 cups of blueberries. I ended up eyeballing the sugar and gin to about 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 heaping spoon of gin. If you feel comfortable eyeballing to taste, go for it. The proportions listed below are the original ones used in Lebovitz’s book.

  • 2 1/2 cups (12 ounces/340g) fresh blueberries (or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup (50g) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) gin (I used Hendrick’s Gin)

Combine the blueberries, sugar, and gin in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the berries just begin to soften and release their juices. Remove from heat and let stand, uncovered, and let cool to room temperature. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar, if desired.

Storage: This compote can be stored in a jar or tupperware the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  This compote is actually better when prepared a day in advance, which gives it time to thicken nicely.

Variation: If you do not want to use gin, you can substitute water and a good squeeze of lemon juice.

Yogurt Chia Parfaits

1 Aug

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I bought a 24-pound watermelon. Luckily, I purchased this fruit-the-size-of-a-small-child at my corner store, so I only had to carry the monster up one block. Yes, I know that smaller watermelons exist, but I wanted and I needed and I had to have a watermelon at that very moment when I walked by the store.

Besides munching on cold melon cubes right from the fridge, I am brainstorming creative ways to use my giant watermelon stash. Watermelon shrub is currently fermenting on my counter. My new smoothie crush involves frozen watermelon cubes, frozen banana chunks, milk, vanilla, and matcha green tea powder. I made No-Cook Watermelon Tabbouleh Salad and enjoyed it for dinner and lunch for a few days. The recipe is from the quarterly nutrition newsletter that I edit, The Grapevine. Find the recipe on page 19. 

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Watermelon is the epitome of a cool, juicy summertime treat. And that is just what I have been craving lately, something cool and refreshing. Since we “eat with our eyes,” it is important that my meals have lots of color in them. Watermelon’s bright pink color pairs so nicely with green foods. Notice the green cucumbers in the above photograph, and the green chia pudding in the photograph below.

These pink and green Yogurt Chia Parfaits are both fun to look at and fun to eat! Plus, chia seeds, yogurt, and watermelon are all very hydrating foods. These parfaits require a little bit of prep work, but once you have a jar of chia pudding, a container of plain yogurt, colorful fruit, and some homemade or store-bought breakfast cereal on-hand, you should be ready to roll.

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I discovered two lovely blogs this summer that both happen to be raw and vegan. Laura Miller of Sidesaddle Kitchen and Gena of Choosing Raw. Good inspiration for staying cool and creative in the kitchen.

Laura’s recipe videos are both hilarious and delicious, and her produce portraits are stunning. I made her chocolate pudding with avocado this summer, and it was a big hit around here. I also made her buckwheat breakfast cereal, which I love and highly recommend as a cereal alternative. Remember to buy raw or hulled buckwheat groats because the roasted buckwheat groats (aka kasha) have a completely different flavor and cooking requirement.

While I adore chia seeds in moderation, chia pudding has always irked me a little, with all of those tiny gummy seeds. But, since I had a few samples of matcha powder sitting in my cupboard untouched for the last six months, Gena’s matcha green tea chia pudding looked like a good way to conquer my chia pudding fears and simultaneously use up some matcha powder (the matcha powder is also good in watermelon smoothies).

I took Laura’s buckwheat breakfast cereal and Gena’s matcha green tea chia pudding and turned them into a semi-vegan, healthy, and colorful mini meal. The yogurt in these Yogurt Chia Parfaits can easily be omitted or substituted for some sort of frozen banana smoothie to make this vegan friendly.

To layer the parfaits, begin with a layer of fruit (I use a mix of cubed watermelon and quartered figs), a layer of plain yogurt, a layer of chia pudding, and a layer of buckwheat cereal mixed with granola. Repeat the layers for a full parfait. No need for exact measurements, just spoon out the layers to your liking.

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Matcha Green Tea Chia Pudding

from Choosing Rawmakes enough for about 4 parfaits or 1-2 servings of straight up chia pudding

I found the consistency to be a little too liquid to eat on it’s own, so I would add a touch less milk or even a scoop of yogurt to thicken it if you are going to eat it as is. Keep the portions below if you are adding this to a Yogurt Chia Parfait. 

  • 1 cup low-fat milk (I used regular, feel free to use non-dairy milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon matcha green tea powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon agave or maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds

In a blender, combine the milk, matcha powder, vanilla, and agave and blend for a few seconds until thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture over the chia seeds and stir to combine. Stir again every few minutes for the next 15 minutes. Then allow the mixture to sit for at least 1 hour (or overnight, in the fridge). Stir the mixture once more, and serve.

This chia pudding will be best within 4-5 days. Keep it in the fridge.

Yogurt Chia Parfaits

I am not giving exact portions here because you can layer these as you like. If you want more fruit, use more. If you like more chia pudding, use more. etc. etc. I like to use plain yogurt because there is already some natural sweetness in the fruit, and both the granola and the chia pudding have a little sweetener in them. 

  • Seasonal fruit-I used a mix of fresh, quartered figs and cubed watermelon
  • Plain low fat Greek yogurt- I like this brand lately
  • Matcha green tea chia pudding
  • Granola and/or homemade crunchy buckwheat groats cereal

Layer all ingredients into jars (I just use old jam jars). Begin with a layer of fruit, a few spoons of yogurt, a few spoons of chia pudding, and a layer of granola or buckwheat groats cereal. Repeat. I usually can only fit two layers into my jars.

I like to make these a day or even two days ahead. If they sit for longer, the granola may get soggy. A great on-the-go breakfast or snack!

Drink Up! Green Smoothie

2 Jul

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Well I finally gave green smoothies a whirl at home, and…they’re great!

I first started adding just a small handful of baby spinach into a smoothie, but now I’ve expanded to kale and purslane.

A few weeks ago, I got a deal at the farmer’s market: two huge bundles of greens for $5. I bought collards and kale. I cooked the collards, and used some of the kale for salads.  I washed, de-stemmed and tore the remaining kale leaves into pieces and stuck them in a ziplock bag in my freezer (my friend Brianna gave me that genius tip!). Now I have a cold green leafy veggie in my freezer for when the smoothie pangs hit (I would imagine that frozen kale is easy to toss into a soup or pasta recipe, too).

Having frozen smoothie ingredients on hand  (i.e. chopped kale, chopped banana, frozen fruit) is key to keeping things cold. Sometimes I add ice at the very end to get the smoothie extra cold, but it is not always necessary.

If you are wary of the greens, don’t worry because you can’t taste them, especially if you use strong fruits like banana or mango and a nut butter like peanut or almond. The greens just make the smoothie turn, well, green.

Tip: blend the greens with the liquid first. Get it really nice and blended before adding in the remaining fruits and accouterment. This helps decrease the leafiness of the greens. I just use a regular blender.

A half portion of this smoothie fills me up in the morning when I drink it with coffee. I also make the full serving for a light lunch before a workout. Experiment with different greens and fruits and add-ins like chia seeds. Have fun, stay cool, and drink up!

Drink Up! Green Smoothie

Makes 1 large portion, or 2 small snack-size portions

1 cup of greens (I used 3/4 cup frozen kale and 1/4 cup fresh purslane)

1 cup liquid (I used 3/4 cup low-fat milk and 1/4 cup Greek yogurt)

1 heaping cup of fruit (I used about 1 cup frozen banana pieces and 1 poached fig)

1 heaping tablespoon nut/seed butter (I used peanut butter, but almond butter is great in smoothies, too)

optional: Ice

optional: a sprinkle of chia seeds (I didn’t use any in this smoothie because purslane is high in omega-3 fatty acids)

Blend the greens and the liquid in the blender. Get it nice and blended, may take 1-2 minutes. Next, add in the fruit and the nut/seed butter and the chia seeds (if using). Blend again to incorporate. If you want the smoothie extra cold, add in a few ice cubes and blend again. You can top the smoothie with extra chia seeds if you like.

 NOTE: The full recipe, if you use nut butter, could add up to 350-400 calories, making this smoothie more of a mini meal than a snack. 

Earl Grey Spiced Fruit Compote + A Fun Compost Workshop With Seniors

22 Mar

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After months of planning and a handful of snow-day cancellations, this morning I helped Project Director Chris Pawelski, Ed.D conduct a “composting and healthy snacks” session for seniors with mild memory loss in conjunction with The Memory Tree Program, Teachers College, and the Morningside Gardens Co-op.

The Memory Tree is New York City’s first program devoted to people with mild memory loss, and their family and caregivers.

This morning’s session was the beginning of a series of “Going Greener” workshops, continuing a previous project about nutrition, cooking and farmer’s markets. “Going Greener” came about as a way to learn how to keep the world healthy, seeking out composting operations in the community.

In short, we kicked off the first session with the idea that if everyone could start saving just one thing, it would help reduce waste and contribute to the idea of composting and giving back to the earth. After watching a video of how a local family organizes their food waste, we were inspired to designate a special bin where everyone could drop their used tea bags. Throughout the next few weeks, we will document how many tea bags we collect altogether.

Sometimes just starting with one small change makes a big difference.

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I prepared a snack for the group to complement our “save your tea bags” theme: Ellie Krieger’s Earl Grey Spiced Fruit Compote. The recipe involves heating water with tea and honey, and adding in dried fruit, cinnamon, and a squeeze of lemon. A very simple recipe that requires little effort–just measure, dump, and simmer (need a knife just to cut a lemon wedge).

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Throughout the “Going Greener” journey, we will encourage the seniors to share and document their experiences through picture-taking and media, so we provided digital cameras today for them to take pictures of the recipe ingredients, the finished recipe, and each other! Can’t wait to upload all of their pictures, but for now I am sharing my pictures.

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Each participant received their own easy-to-follow copy of the recipe so they could see how it was made, and maybe even make it themselves at home.

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Who knew dried fruit could be so gorgeous?! Even though it is technically spring now, the New York fruit season is not quite ready. The markets are still heaping with end-of-season apples and there is not a berry in sight yet. Until the spring fruit arrives, this spiced fruit compote is a great way to pack it in.

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During today’s session, we served the compote with plain Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of granola. Water with lemon wedges for a refreshing beverage. I was impressed that everyone gobbled down the compote, and there were even requests for seconds!

Leftover compote is excellent atop pancakes, stirred into oatmeal, or spooned over a simple cake. Feel free to mix up the dried fruit, and add nuts or a splash of alcohol (rum, bourbon…) for a little kick.

Thanks again to Ellie Krieger for a great recipe.

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Krieger says, “Tea and dried fruits rank among the most powerful of beauty foods. They contain concentrated amounts of compounds that protect the skin from sun damage, and they are linked with less skin wrinkling as we age.”

Earl Grey Spiced Fruit Compote

adapted from Ellie Krieger’s Weeknight Wonders

serves 4

3 tablespoons honey

1 Earl Grey tea bag

1/2 cup dried apricots

1/2 cup pitted prunes

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 large lemon

1 cinnamon stick

optional: 4 whole cloves

Bring 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in the honey, then immerse the tea bag in the water. Add the apricots, prunes, raisins, the juice from the lemon, the cinnamon stick, and if using, the cloves. Return to a boil.

Lower the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 4 minutes. Remove the tea bag, then continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid thickens to a loose syrup, about 8 minutes more. Remove the cinnamon and cloves and discard (or compost!). Allow the compote to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Serve with toppings. I like a dollop of yogurt and granola, or instead of syrup atop pancakes!

The compote will keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Nutrition per 1/3 cup serving (without toppings):

Calories 190; Total Fat 0g (Sat Fat 0g, Mono Fat 0.0g, Poly Fat 0.1g); Protein 2g; Carb 52g; Fiber 3g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 10mg

Good source of: Fiber, Potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin K

Quick Whole Wheat and Oat Pancakes for 2

16 Feb

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I don’t really care about Valentine’s Day, but I do care about pancakes!

I can whip up a small batch of pancakes on a weekend morning in no time. Most days, I like a sweet and carb-filled breakfast (oats, cereal, toast, fruit…). These Whole Wheat & Oat cakes make the morning extra special and sweet, but still manage to pack in some healthy ingredients to start the day.

The recipe below is my idea of a perfect portion for 2.

I folded in some Qi’a cereal mix (you could also use chopped nuts or chia/hemp seeds) into my batter, and I loved the slight crunch they provided.

I’m the kind of lady who likes to eat a little of everything, so pile as many toppings onto my pancakes as I can–fruit, jam, syrup, nut butter. All so delicious, I can’t just pick one!

If you are looking for a slightly lighter “pancake” for 1 that packs more of a protein punch, check out this recipe.

Whether you’re a V-day fan (raspberry jam on top makes these ‘cakes festive) or a just a pancake fan, or both, get out your skillets and spatulas and start flipping. You won’t be disappointed with the end result!

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Quick Whole Wheat & Oat Pancakes for 2

adapted from Cast-Iron Skillet Blueberry Pancakes

serves 2 (about 3 pancakes each) **if you want more, double the recipe or triple it, etc…

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup rolled oats

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1/2 cup buttermilk (I used 1/2 cup 1% cow’s milk + 1 teaspoon cider vinegar)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

optional: 1 tablespoon chia seeds or Qi’a cereal mix

1 tablespoon of butter, divided, for frying the pancakes

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, vanilla extract, and chia/Qi’a seeds, if using.

3. Pour the wet mixture into the dry, and whisk until just combined. Let the mix sit for 5 minutes while you heat your griddle or cast-iron skillet.

4. Heat the cast-iron skillet over medium to get it warmed up, about 1-3 minutes. Drop in a small amount of butter, enough to coat the skillet. I used a 1/4 cup measure to portion my pancakes. Drop the batter into the hot buttered skillet (I dropped 2 pancakes at a time). Let them cook for about 2 minutes, flip, then cook about 2 minutes more. Re-butter the skillet as needed and cook the remaining pancakes the same way (they will start to cook quicker now that the skillet has been on for a while, just keep an eye out).

Enjoy with your favorite toppings.

Fig Season is here!

23 Aug

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Figs, oh glorious figs! End of summer/early fall is the typical season for fresh figs. Too bad they aren’t usually sold at the farmer’s markets in New York City. One of these days I’ll have to befriend a Brooklynite with a backyard fig tree.

Figs are perfect sliced in half and enjoyed raw, but there is so much you can do. Below I found some fig-sparation from around the web. What do you like to do with figs? Has anyone dried drying them or making jam?

I planted this fig tree at my parents’ house over 5 years ago. Unfortunately I never seem to be back home when the figs are ripe.

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A Sweet Spoonful’s Fresh Fig, Fennel, & Dark Chocolate Ice Cream

The Kitchy Kitchen’s Fig + Brandy Clafoutis (figs pair so well with booze!)

David Tanis’s Baked Figs and Goat Cheese (I love that he uses the fig leaf, too!)

Delightful Crumb’s Honey Lavender Poached Figs

Shutterbean’s Fig & Olive Oil Cake

Not Without Salt’s Fig and Melon Salad

A Stack of Dishes’s Boozy Fig Onion Jam with Bacon

My go-to fig galette: Take dough and roll it out. Spread the bottom of the dough with jam. Top with fresh sliced figs and sprinkle with a dash of sugar. Fold up the dough into a rustic shape and brush with egg and a touch more sugar. Bake until golden.

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