Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia! I have very fond memories of the adorably lame Chia Pets – which apparently you can still purchase in even more creatively-formed sculptures, like Barack Obama and Scooby Doo!
But now, Chia has a more health-related meaning to me, thanks to Chia Seeds, which offer a range of health benefits. I actually don’t know if you can harvest the seeds from the plant shaped like our current president, but you can definitely buy them at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods for the awesome benefits.
Chia seeds are known to:
- Lower blood pressure and cholesterol
- Provide protein – in higher percentages than other seeds and grains
- Contain antioxidants
- Add fiber to your diet
- Provide a heaping portion of Omegas – 1 tbsp of the stuff has 2.9g Omega-3, and 1g Omega-6
- Stabilize blood sugar
Because Chia seeds do not have a strong flavor – they are just slightly nutty tasting – they can be added into meals and snacks you already eat to give you all of the health benefits without major impact to the food. You can sprinkle them in yogurt, add them to smoothies, or top a salad with them.
Here, though, I made the Chia Seeds the main event. This recipe was adapted from the one on the back of my Chia Seed packet, and couldn’t be easier! With this pudding, the Chia seeds soak up the coconut milk, expanding into little bubbles that give the pudding the consistency of tapioca. This can be eaten as a dessert or snack – but to be honest, it’s probably going to be my breakfast tomorrow! Hey, at least it’s not ice cream…
1/4 cup Chia Seeds
1 cup coconut milk
3 heaping tbsp cocoa powder
2 ripe bananas, mashed
2 tbsp honey
- Combine all ingredients, stirring well.
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours until pudding is thick and Chia seeds have expanded.
Resources: What’s Cooking America, EatRight.org
I like to think of Portobello mushrooms as the steak of the vegetarian world. These mushrooms are thick with a meaty texture and, unlike other mushrooms, they can stand on their own as a complete meal. Or, you can serve them as a hearty side dish or slice them up in a serious salad.
Portobellos can seem a bit intimidating because you clean them differently than other vegetables. This is how I prepare them:
- Remove the stem by simply pulling it out with one hand while gently gripping the cap with the other hand.
- Scrape out the gills on the underside of the mushroom with a spoon. The gills are safe to eat, but tend to have a slimier flavor and lead to ‘dirtier’ looking dishes.
- Use a damp paper towel to wipe down the entire mushroom.
There are some great YouTube videos showing the step-by-step process, too. It only takes a few minutes, I promise!
Why you should eat mushrooms: The benefits
- A Portobello mushroom has about as much potassium as a banana.
- They’re chock-full of antioxidants – and don’t lose their cancer-fighting power when cooked, so you can enjoy them however you like them!
- They also don’t lose their minerals and nutrients when cooked – which include niacin, selenium and copper.
- They’re delicious.
Balsamic Roasted Portobello Mushrooms & Red Peppers with Feta and Avocado
4 Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and gutted as described above
1 red pepper, cut length-ways into four large slices
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp chopped garlic
1/4 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp thyme
Crumbled Feta cheese
1/2 avocado, sliced, to garnish
- Marinate the mushrooms and peppers in the olive oil, balsamic, garlic, rosemary and thyme for at least one hour (but no more than six or the mushrooms will break down).
- Preheat the oven to 400° F.
- Place mushrooms and peppers on an oven-proof pan and cook for about 20 minutes. You will notice that the mushrooms bleed out much of their moisture – this is normal.
- Sprinkle feta cheese on each mushroom – I like to put the cheese on the underside of the mushroom to make use of the natural cup shape.
- Once cheese is melted, serve. Place one piece of pepper on the bottom, followed by a Portobello and garnished with avocado slices.