Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding

Sometimes during the hectic holiday season, we forget to take care of ourselves. We forget to make time for the things that are important to us, and get wrapped up in balancing holiday preparations, year-end work projects, and the usual plague of household chores. The past few weeks have been a bit more difficult to balance as Michael focused on defending his thesis (success!) and I had a number of work projects dividing my time unevenly. Last week I opted to postpone this blog post in favor of a little self care; working late always makes me want a relaxed evening by the time I make it home.

Pumpkin Chia Pudding {{Baking Bytes}}

One thing that always helps me during these periods is to ensure I’m eating well even when life is full. I always prep my lunches over the weekend and I try to prepare a couple breakfasts for my weight-lifting days as well. This makes my mornings a little more relaxed and provides a healthy and filling lunch even if I only take a fifteen-minute break to eat it.

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If you are also feeling a bit rushed in the mornings, this is a great option to prepare for the week ahead. Make enough jars for the week all in one go and they will be ready to eat as soon as you need them. I typically enjoy mine with a cup of hot cold-brewed coffee, a quick and healthy breakfast that is just the right amount before a weight-lifting session. I sometimes add a scoop (or half of one) of protein powder, but just as often I don’t. Know that it will change the texture slightly (and the taste, depending on your powder of choice) but it’s a great way to bump up your morning protein intake.

Pumpkin Chia Pudding {{Baking Bytes}}

 

Enjoy those fall flavors and give yourself an extra couple of minutes in the morning to enjoy a ready-to-eat meal. As an added bonus, making these in a jar gives them portability for those of you that don’t eat until you get to work, or want to wait until after your gym session. I like to make two on Sundays so my Monday and Wednesday breakfasts are all set. (One of these days I’ll share my Tuesday/Thursday recovery meal with you guys too.) If you’re making several servings, it works great to mix it all at once and then portion it into jars, but I don’t usually bother dirtying an extra bowl when I’m just making two at a time.

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PS – Not a pumpkin fan? I haven’t personally tried it but I’m pretty confident sweet potato puree would work just as well. Just make sure it’s blended smooth before you mix it into your pudding.

 

Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding

Makes one serving

Ingredients

1/2 cup almond milk (or any milk)
2 Tbsp chia seeds
2 Tbsp hemp hearts
1/2 – 1 scoop protein powder (optional)
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix
1/2 tsp maple syrup, to taste

1/2 cup 100% pumpkin puree (I buy Libby’s)

optional toppings
1-2 Tbsp toasted, chopped walnuts
extra drizzle of maple syrup
cinnamon

Directions

  1. In 12oz jar, whisk together milk, chia, protein powder (if using), spices, and syrup until completely combined.
  2. Gently stir in pumpkin until well mixed.
  3. Seal jar and place in the fridge overnight, or until ready to eat (up to one week).
  4. Enjoy plain or top with hemp hearts and/or toasted walnuts.
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PB&J Parfait

In my quest to move towards a lower carb lifestyle change, one of the most challenging updates has been breakfast. My go-to has always been peanut butter & banana oatmeal, but since two of the three main ingredients are very high carb, that’s pretty much out. Although I haven’t quite figured out a hot meal replacement for winter, I have finally perfected a wonderful chilled summer option. As a bonus, it’s easy to make ahead of time for a delicious and simple grab-and-go breakfast (or snack).

PB&J Parfait {{Baking Bytes}}

Any “diet” article will tell you to ditch the flavored yogurts for their plain versions mixed with fresh fruit, but I think the flavor of the yogurt can still be too overpowering. For me, the key is to properly mix them together rather than just add the fruit like a topping. Mashing berries (blackberries or raspberries are my favorite) first and then stirring in the yogurt and chia (for a fat and protein boost) means the flavors are consistently spread through each spoonful like a store-bought flavor without all the added sugars.

Peanut butter is always a go-to for me, and layering it with the berry yogurt is reminiscent of a childhood favorite but in a much healthier form. I like the natural peanut butter here since the berries are quite sweet already and because it doesn’t get overly hard when refrigerated for the meal prep option.

Lastly, I recently discovered hemp seeds as another fat/protein source, and they had a nice bit of crunch and a little different flavor without competing too heavily with the rest of the dish. Even overnight they don’t get soggy (just a bit soft) which makes them a nice textural addition. If you don’t have hemp, you could just go without or substitute any seeds or chopped nuts of your choice.

PB&J Parfait {{Baking Bytes}}

Sweet and tart with the swirl of peanut butter and just a hint of crunch, this is a great on-the-go option as well as something that can be enjoyed right away. I often mix the yogurt, chia, and berries together and then add the peanut butter and hemp when I get to work. This allows me to customize how much I want on a particular day, but it works great to do it all ahead of time if your work fridge space is limited.

A few tips for success: chia seeds soak up a lot of moisture, so if you want your parfait to maintain a looser, more traditional yogurt texture overnight then add at least one tablespoon of water with each tablespoon of chia. This is not necessary if you’re eating it right away but for meal prepping it helps with the texture, especially if your fruit is not very juicy. As mentioned I like to use natural peanut butter since it stays spreadable when chilled, but you if you prefer the Jif or Skippy variety you can always just take a little of that in a separate container and keep it at room temperature. Lastly, if you’re using the smallest amount of everything (or keeping the peanut butter and hemp separate) you can get away with an 8oz jar, but a 12oz or larger is much nicer for stirring and eating without making a mess.

PB&J Parfait {{Baking Bytes}}

If you’re looking for a quick, delicious, and healthy lower carb meal, this PB&J parfait is sure to please. And in case you were wondering, no, I don’t do the fancy layering every time I make it for myself. It is pretty and fun to do that, but it’s much quicker to just add them all on top. You can decide for yourself what level of effort is right for you.

PB&J Parfait

Serves one

Ingredients

1/2 cup berries (or any fruit)
1-2 Tbsp chia seeds
1-2 Tbsp water (optional)1
cinnamon, to taste (optional)

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1-2 Tbsp hemp hearts
1-2 Tbsp natural peanut butter2

Directions

  1. For “lazy” parfaits: In small bowl mash the berries until soft. Stir in chia (and water, if using), cinnamon, and yogurt until well combined.
  2. Plop on the peanut butter and sprinkle with hemp. Enjoy immediately or store in the fridge until ready to use.
  3. For “fancy” parfaits: in the bottom of a small jar3 add 1/3 of the yogurt mixture. Layer 1-2 tsp each of hemp and peanut butter. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
  4. Seal the jar and store in the fridge until ready to eat.

Notes

Water is not necessary if you are eating it right away or you are okay with a very thick texture. Chia seeds soak up a lot of moisture so if you want your parfait to stay a bit looser then add at least as much water as you do chia when you’re stirring it into the fruit.

I recommend natural peanut butter (the kind you have to stir) as it will not get overly hard in the fridge overnight (and I like the taste better), but if you are eating it right away you can use any peanut butter.

Use a 12oz jar or larger to ensure everything fits, and to make it easier to stir and eat.

 

 

Cold Brewed Coffee: “Latte”

[Welcome to this month’s Cold Brewed Coffee Series! If you missed the first post on making your own cold brew concentrate, you can find it here.]

Happy last week of July! Can hardly believe the month went by so quickly. I hope you have enjoyed both series the last few weeks and in August we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming.

For the last week I’m sharing my favorite treat beverage. Technically, it’s a café au lait but it feels closer to a latte to me since the cold brew is so concentrated. I don’t drink my cold brew this way as often, but it’s a delicious way to start the morning as well as a lovely pick-me-up in the afternoon.

IMG_6056_FotorAs with everything, I like to add a dash (heap) of cinnamon, and a little vanilla is a great addition too. For a sweeter experience, use your favorite coffee syrup, maple syrup, or homemade simple syrup. I don’t often do sweet lattes these days but I have a white ginger simple syrup I’m definitely looking forward to trying out soon.

Cold Brew: "Latte" {{Baking Bytes}}Thanks for following along and I would love to hear about your cold brew adventures. And be sure to come back Friday for the pièce de résistance of National Ice Cream Month!

Cold Brewed Coffee: “Latte”

Makes ~10 oz

Ingredients

2-3 oz cold brew concentrate1
7-8 oz milk of choice (I like to use almond)

optional
1/4 tsp vanilla
cinnamon, to taste
sweetener, to taste

Directions

  1. Heat milk to simmering using method of choice: microwave, stove, milk frother, etc.
  2. Pour cold brew concentrate into a mug, and optional add any garnishes (vanilla, cinnamon, simple syrup).
  3. Carefully stream in the heated milk.
  4. Enjoy!

Notes

My preference is 2 oz cold brew and 8 oz almond milk, but you may prefer slightly different ratios depending on the strength of your concentrate and the type of milk you use.

Cold Brewed Coffee: Vanilla Iced

[Welcome to this month’s Cold Brewed Coffee Series! If you missed the first post on making your own cold brew concentrate, you can find it here.]

Cold Brew: Iced {{Baking Bytes}}

Although I typically enjoy my cold brew as a hot beverage, sometimes an iced coffee just feels right: usually after long, hot runs or on particularly toasty afternoons. On those occasions having my own cold brew concentrate ready to go is not only more delicious and convenient, but also much cheaper than going to a coffee shop.

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It is excellent plain, of course, but since I’m usually in the mood for a treat anyway I like to doctor mine with a little vanilla and creamer. Vanilla is always a welcome addition to coffee beverages, and the creamer makes it an extra delicious summer treat. Half and half is my mixer of choice (or cream, for extra decadence), but you can substitute your own favorite. A dash of cinnamon (or heap, in my case) adds a little spice. Although I rarely sweeten mine, a bit of simple syrup, maple syrup, or regular ole sugar is definitely an option if you like your coffee sweet. Use an infused simple syrup for additional flavor options.

Cold Brew: Iced {{Baking Bytes}}

The next time you’re in the mood for an iced coffee, give this one a try. You may have to play with the proportions a bit to find your perfect ratios, but I promise the practice will be worth it.

Cold Brewed Coffee: Vanilla Iced

Makes 12-16 oz

Ingredients

6-12 oz cold brew concentrate
1/2 tsp vanilla
dash of cinnamon (optional, but encouraged)
sweetener, to taste (optional; simple syrup blends the easiest)

~1 cup ice
cold water

1-2 Tbsp half and half or cream

Directions

  1. In the bottom of a glass, add cold brew concentrate and vanilla. Stir in sweetener and/or cinnamon, if desired.
  2. Carefully add ice cubes (should be around 2/3 full), then top with cold water.
  3.  Stir in creamer of choice, and enjoy!

Notes

As with the hot version, this will depend on how strong you like your coffee and how strong you brewed your concentrate. For mine, I do about 2 parts coffee to 1 part water, but you may not need to dilute yours at all or you may need closer to 50:50 so play around with it till you find what works!

Cold Brewed Coffee: Served Hot

[Welcome to this month’s Cold Brewed Coffee Series! If you missed the first post on making your own cold brew concentrate, you can find it here.]

I feel a bit silly even posting this as a recipe because it’s so easy and so short, but as something I make almost every day I definitely want to share it with all of you. For me, I love starting the day with a hot beverage and even in the heat of summer I nearly always have a hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning.

Because of this, the main reason it took me so long to board the cold brew train is because I am much less inclined to drink cold coffee, especially first thing in the morning. Realistically it’s all about the ritual; I could likely start with a plain cup of hot water and be almost as happy. Almost.

One benefit to drinking my own cold brew is that it’s one of the few times I prefer coffee black. I managed to wean myself off of sweetened coffee quite awhile ago, but ditching the splash of cream has proven more challenging. I still like it in most drip coffee (especially at restaurants), but at home I enjoy this cold brewed coffee in it’s unadorned state.

So since coffee is delicious and cold brewed coffee is even better, here’s how I make my concentrate into a piping hot beverage each morning. Hope you enjoy it!

PS – I also use this for my bulletproof coffee2 on running days, simply add a bulletproof pod, blend it up, and you’re all set! Optionally add a scoop of protein powder for a nice boost for those tough morning workouts.

Cold Brewed Coffee: Served Hot

Makes 10-12 oz

Ingredients

2-3 oz cold brew concentrate
7-10 oz boiling water1

Directions

  1. Pour cold brew concentrate into a mug, then stream in boiling water.
  2. Optionally supplement with your preferred garnishes (sugar, cream, etc).
  3. Enjoy!

Notes

I nearly always do 2 oz concentrate to 8 oz boiling water, mostly because my favorite mugs are 10 oz, but this will depend on how long you let yours brew and how strong you like your coffee.

For the bulletproof version I like a little stronger coffee so I typically do the following: 1 pod, 3 oz coffee,  and 9 oz boiling water. Blend for 5-10 seconds or until frothy. Sometimes I add 1/2 -1 scoop of protein powder as well if I’m heading out for a longer or tougher workout. (Be careful though, some powders froth more excessively than others and might overwhelm a personal-sized blender cup.)