Strawberry Chia Jam

food, healthy
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Chia jam used on my nut and seeds bread

Jam and peanut butter make the quintessential combination, and although peanut butter provides health benefits such as protein and Vitamin E, jam is often straight up added sugars, packed with preservatives. Thus, I wasn’t too big of a fan of jam ever because the flavors felt all too sweet and artificial for me.

Luckily, health enthusiasts have been genius enough to conceive up a recipe called “Chia Jam” which I think is pure genius. By using chia’s nature to form a gel to make the jam without having to use any added corn syrup or sticky starches cuts calories drastically and actually makes the jam healthy! I attempted a strawberry chia jam recipe and it was an absolute success, and better yet, you are able to control the sweetness of your jam. Since I don’t have too big of a sweet tooth, I think that mine was perfectly sweet enough to my liking.

Strawberry Chia Jam


 

Ingredients:

yield: 1/2 c. jam

  • 9 medium-sized strawberries
  • 1 tsp. honey (use agave or maple syrup if vegan); this part is totally up to your tastebuds, so keep adding sweetener to your liking
  • 4 tbsp. chia seeds

Directions:

  1. Place the strawberries and sweetener in a food processor and pulse for about 20 seconds, or until the jam has become a puree.
  2. Place the puree in an airtight container and add the chia seeds. Combine the mixture and place in the fridge for at least 10 minutes.
  3. The jam should be a thick, spreadable texture.

I am still extremely amazed at how genius this recipe is and I enjoyed it on toast, in a peanut butter sandwich, and even made thumbprint cookies using the jam!

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pulse the strawberries in a food processor

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Chia seed and fruit puree

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chia and puree before the fridge

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chia jam

-Jamie

A Glorious Loaf of Bread: Nut and Seed Bread Recipe (GF and Vegan)

food
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Topped with chia jam and avocado

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Nuts and seeds bread

Loitering among the miscellany of breads and baked goods in Central Market continuously induces contentment because wheat-infused air and the overwhelming display of intricately-crafted balls of gluten rings perfection. I’m a bread enthusiast, constantly exploring the art of bread-making. In front of my eyes was a glut of bread samples, and I shamelessly began the carb-adventure with a plain ciabatta bread, working through hatch pepper cheddar scones, lemon ricotta cookies, purple wheat bread, and ending with a “seed bread” packed with poppy and sunflower seeds. Instantly, I fell for the seed bread as I reached for seconds and thirds because seeds in bread provides an earthy taste and crunchy texture that I love.

However, stores rarely add enough seeds and nuts to my liking, and if they do, they loaf costs around a whopping $11. It only seemed sensible to make my own, packed with nuts and seeds, resulting in a high-protein, high-fiber, healthy loaf of bread. I formulated a vegan and gluten-free recipe, inspired by a Paleo, Stone-Age Nordic Bread Recipe, which comprises a variety of nuts and seeds.


 

Nut and Seed Bread

yield: 1 loaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 c. flax seeds
  • 1/2 c. nuts (almonds, walnuts, or hazelnuts; any nuts work) I used raw almonds
  • 1 c. gluten-free rolled oats
  • 4 tbsp. ground flaxseeds
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 tbsp. agave or maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp. oil (I used coconut oil, but you can use olive oil if you would like an olive scented loaf)

Directions:

  1. Cut the nuts in half (I found this to be beneficial because whole almonds made the loaf a bit more difficult to slice). Then, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and pour into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and let the loaf sit for at least 5 hours.
  3. Bake the loaf in a pre-heated 350 °C oven for 25 minutes.
  4. Remove the loaf from the pan and bake on the wire rack for 30 minutes.
  5. Cool the loaf on a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes, which will allow the bread to firm up, making it easy to slice.

A little of this bread goes a long way because it is packed with protein, fiber, and OMEGA-3s that cause satiety for a long period of time. You can top your bread with any toppings you would like, but a couple ideas include avocado and strawberry chia jam, which I will post a recipe for tomorrow.

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Pre-baked loaf

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Baked loaf

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Two breakfast toast options

-Jamie

Taiwan Day 1: Nostalgia and Bread Galore

food, travel

The last time I stepped foot in Taiwan was more than six years ago, so when I booked my flight to Taipei in February, a rush of excitement and memories inundated my mind and all I could think of was being on Eva Air’s economy green seats, sitting through an extensive 18 hour flight. But I always enjoyed my time because the flight attendants were classy and respectful and they pampered to my needs.

This time, with my essentials: journal, chapstick, and GoPro, I waved goodbye to my parents and rode up the escalator until their faces were out of sight. A sad moment, but exhilarating at the same time to be a lone traveler. With my soft miniature pillow and throw, I wrote in my journal, watched a couple movies, played “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”, and time instantly flew by. Little did I know, I had flown across the globe to my beloved country, with mountains and blues below me. It was unreal. I was finally back, and I could already feel the blazing sun and slight humidity that reminded me of home.

My intention for day 1 was clear. Eat, eat some more, and eat. Taipei is not the ideal place for spectacular, cheap food since it has become more cultural and modernized, but the food options were still quite amazing. I took a quick taxi cab to Taipei 101 and wandered around the streets, buying $1 tapioca milk tea, red bean pancakes, and daikon sesame buns from street vendors. I had devoured carbs on carbs on carbs and the food baby was about to burst, but I entered Wu Pao Chun Bakery, Taiwan’s most famous bakery, greeted by the scent of sweet, savory gluten. Forget about a candy shop, a bread shop is where you should be. I was encompassed by creamy cheese bread, pesto sausage bread, taro swirl bread, Portuguese egg tart, mango souffle, ALCOHOLIC CUPCAKES FOR THOSE 21 AND OVER!!! As you can tell, I could not contain my excitement. I was rather annoyed by the massive crowd of people in the petite shop, but with bread this aesthetic, everyone was just as thrilled as I was. I hastily piled my tray with my selection of breads, and patiently waited in the check-out line for what felt like an hour, but was probably actually only 5 minutes. I found a seat outside and shamelessly devoured my bread with little to no self-control. It was only day 1 of my trip, and if I continued engulfing everything I saw, I may return to the states unrecognizable. No shame though. Who knows when I will be able to return? Ignoring that thought, I trekked through the streets and examined the locals’ behavior in this bustling city. Businessmen and women speedily slithering through crowds juxtaposed tourists with cameras and visors, strolling and pointing at objects. The hustle and bustle was overwhelming, and so I settled down on an egg chair in Taipei 101’s Chen Ping bookstore and “read” through a few cookbooks for 3 hours, mainly bread-baking books. “Read” because I mainly looked at the photos. Yup. I looked at bread pictures for 3 hours!

As the sky began to dim, I made my way to my hostel and plopped onto the bed provided. I turned my Spotify playlist on and relaxed with my legs crossed, thankful for being here. It was only day 1 and there was more to come.

-Jamie

 

Healthy Lunch Idea #13: 3-Ingredient Vegan Sweet Potato Pizza Crust

food, healthy, Healthy Lunch Idea

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So, sweet potato pizza crust doesn’t really taste like your typical pizza crust, but if you like sweet potatoes, you will fall in love with this recipe. It’s extremely filling and guilt-free, and for all you vegans out there… this recipe is completely animal friendly. For this simple recipe, you only need one large sweet potato, oats, and flax seed. Chances are if you are vegan or health-conscious, you probably have these ingredients in your kitchen right now. And if you do not have flax seeds, you could bind your dough together with other vegan options such as hummus or any vegan dairy product such as vegan cream cheese. If you are not vegan, you could use an egg or dairy products. Nonetheless, the outcome will still be more nutritious than a flour pizza crust.

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 3/4 c. oats
  • 2 tbsp. flax + 4 tbsp. water = 2 thick flax eggs (don’t put too much water because you want your crust to crisp up in the oven)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • Toppings: hummus, vegan cheese, and roasted asparagus

Instructions:

  1.  Peel sweet potato and cut into chunks. Place in a food processor and pulse until the chunks look like shreds.
  2. Add the oats, oil, salt and pepper, and flax egg and pulse until the mixture is well combined.
  3. Pour mixture into a bowl and stir with a spatula to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Spread onto a pan to where the mixture is 1/2 cm. thick. Place in the oven and back at 400 degrees for 30 min. Check on the crust once in a while to make sure the sides are not burned.
  5. Once the pizza crust has crisped up, meaning most the moisture has been taken out, place your toppings and back for an additional 5 min.
  6. Take pizza out and place out for about 5 min. Serve and enjoy!

This sweet potato pizza crust is a great way to get veggies into every single bite. I ate half the pizza in one sitting but no worries; it’s just like eating a baked sweet potato with toppings.

-Jamie

 

 

3 Ingredient Raw Vegan Brownies w/ Almond Chocolate Ganache

food, healthy

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Eating Raw was something I always chose to steer clear of, like if you give me zucchini noodles, please cook them…

Because of this, I didn’t like to try raw recipes because I would always prefer the cooked version. However, I recently made raw vegan brownies and they’re superbly delicious along with many other adjectives: vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, you name it! The natural sweetness comes from dates, which is a key ingredient in healthy and vegan cooking and baking. Then, the base is ground almonds (almond flour), which is gluten-free, and contains monounsaturated fat which helps to prevent cardiovascular diseases. This swap makes the brownies raw because you can eat almond flour, but you must heat all-purpose flour before it can be eaten. Lastly, the chocolate-y goodness comes from cocoa powder, which is low in fat and calories as compared to actual chocolate. I then topped the brownies with an almond butter ganache, and I’m just like, “What’s not to love  about this dessert?”

3 Ingredient Raw Vegan Brownies w/ almond  chocolate ganache (yields 6 large brownies)

Ingredients:

For brownies

  • 1 c. almond flour
  • 10 pitted dates (I used medjool but any type works)
  • 1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp almond milk or water to make batter stick together better (optional)

For ganache

  • 2 tbsp. almond milk
  • 1/4 c. dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp almond butter + more for drizzle

Instructions:

  1. Throw dates into a blender and blend until the mixture resembles caramel.
  2. Combine almond flour and cocoa together in a large bowl.
  3. Add all the date mixture in and combine/kneed with your hand. Add some type of liquid (I used almond milk) if the batter is not coming together enough or if you like gooier brownies. (The reason I added a liquid was because the dates acts as the binding agent, but during my first try, I used enough dates to bind the brownies together and they were too sweet. So I cut back on the dates and simply used a different binding agent.
  4. Place the mixture into a square pan lined with parchment paper and press down until brownies are about 1 in. thick. Place in the fridge for about 5 min.
  5. In a small bowl, microwave almond milk for 30 seconds.
  6. Add the chocolate chips and almond butter and let the bowl sit for about a minute. After a minute, stir with a spoon until a ganache is formed.
  7. Take the brownies out of the fridge and pour ganache on. Place brownies in the fridge for about 10 min. or until ganache is cooled.
  8. Take the brownies out and drizzle with microwaved (makes it easier to drizzle) almond butter.

Seriously, these brownies are too good. TRY THEM. You won’t regret it.

-Jamie

 

 

Broke College Student #6: 4 Ingredient Vegan Overnight Oats

Broke College Student, food, healthy

My intention for going to Target was to purchase party supplies for my friend’s birthday, but damn does Target know how to do business. I immediately walked and saw to my left their extremely aesthetic dollar section filled with pastel colors, gold calligraphy words, and vintage looking items, all for $5 or less. I always ignore the snacks or little toys, but there was a section of mason jars and glass spice containers that caught my attention, and they were only $3. How do I even pass on such a deal? Deciding that mason jars are too large for my food portions, I selected the pack of 4 small spice jars for $3 with the idea of testing overnight oats. Several years ago I made overnight oats and thought it was the grossest thing ever, until after self-reflection I realized I made “48 hour oats” rather than “overnight oats”. I despised the mushiness of the oats as I wondered why overnight oats were even a thing, like do people like eating mush? But that was my mistake. Do NOT soak your oats for over 7-9 hours, it’ll be disgusting.

Eagerly ripping over the package of 4 glass jars, I improv’d with a simple dorm-friendly, 4 ingredient overnight oats recipe. I am not certain what the measurement are since I eyeball’ed so all measurements are estimates.

4 Ingredient overnight oats (yields 1 jar):

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. microwaveable instant oats
  • 1 tbsp. nut butter, I used peanut butter in 2 jars and almond butter in the other 2
  • 1 tsp. chia seeds
  • 4 tbsp. almond/soy milk

Instructions:

  1. add all ingredients into a jar and mix
  2. place in the fridge for 7-9 hours and enjoy

Tip: since I bought 4 jars, I prepped each jar with the recipe above except the addition of the milk. I recommend to add the dry ingredients and add milk only if you will be eating the oats 7-9 hours after to prevent oversoaking and mushiness.

Note: Do not eat if it hasn’t soaked for 6 hours. I tasted my first jar after only 3 hours and I got a major stomachache.

-Jamie

Broke College Student #5: 3 Ingredient Chia Pudding

Broke College Student, food, healthy

It looks rather offputting, like a colony of fish eggs, but I swear that it’s completely animal friendly. Chia seeds are a new product to me, so I simply sprinkle some on top of my oatmeal, cereal, and wraps, where I barely noticed eating it. All I knew was that I was getting some sort of health benefit without the taste of it. However, I recently browsed the web and discovered that chia pudding is a thing! It looks extremely unappetizing, but it’s a great breakfast staple-a great swap for oatmeal/ cereal on certain days. The more jaw-dropping part was that I actually had all the ingredients sitting in my teeny tiny dorm room! How so? Because my “Broke College Student” version requires only 3 ingredients: chia seeds, almond/soy milk, and honey. If you have 30 seconds to spare, I recommend you make chia seed pudding, by pouring milk into the chia seeds along with a dash of honey.

Chia pudding:

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c. chia seeds
  • 1 c. vegan milk (I used unsweetened almond)
  • 1 tbsp. honey

Instructions

  1. combine all three ingredients together and mix thoroughly to incorporate
  2. Place in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hr. and make sure all chia seeds are submersed the the milk
  3. Top with your favorite toppings! I used banana, pumpkin flax granola, and pumpkin seeds.

There are multiple variations of chia pudding recipes online, many which require 6 + ingredients such as cinnamon or vanilla extract, but I find that honey adds enough flavor and sweetness to the pudding. The pudding is packed with flavor, fiber, protein, and antioxidants on its own, but additional toppings is recommended for a more flavorful and filling meal. You probably have some nuts, raisins, or chocolates lying around your dorm, so toss them on and enjoy the gooey, crunchy pudding in your mouth.

-Jamie

Broke College Student #4: Movie Night

Broke College Student, food, healthy

I watched Safe Haven on a Monday Night. Seriously? A Monday night? Do you even study? Yes, I do. But I had just finished an exam and my class on Tuesday isn’t until 2 so I needed to treat myself and celebrate! As the ultimate foodie, of course there were loads of food as I and a couple friends brought our food stash together to create a delicious movie night. Pizza came into our minds, but we’re all quite health conscious so we had a healthy movie night sponsored by Trader Joe’s. And by “sponsored” I just mean we bought our products from the store… they didn’t send us snacks or pay us (I WISH).

Our food stash consisted of:

  • Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger snaps
  • Trader Joe’s Raises the Bar Chewy Granola Bar W/dark Chocolate Chunks
  • Trader Joe’s Beet Hummus (This tastes like heaven) and baby carrots
  • Blue Diamon Pecan Nut-Thins
  • Baps Shayona salt + pepper banana chips
  • dark chocolate covered cashew, walnuts, and almonds
  • pears
  • oranges
  • oatmeal raisin cookies
  • “Grilled” cheese sandwiches (Made of toasted bread and provolone cheese, melted in a microwave- wasn’t soggy though)

As I snacked on every single food item and gasped at the thrilling scenes in Safe Haven, I physically felt good eating these items instead of a pizza. The total cost of all these items was close to the price of a Large Papa John’s pizza- around $12, and we had plenty of leftovers that aren’t perishable such as the granola bars, nuts, banana chips, etc. Eating healthy can be completely affordable for a college student, especially when shopping at Trader Joe’s. I highly recommend swapping chips for Nut-thins or hummus and carrots. Go to Trader Joe’s or whatever affordable grocery store nearby and get your cheap and healthy snacks for your next movie night!

-Jamie

Broke College Student #3: Ordering Groceries for the First Time Ever (it was amazing)

Broke College Student, food, healthy

fullsizerenderAlthough current millennials are fast-paced, on-the-run, and multi-tasked, I found myself to be quite the opposite of that. You see, I’m very old fashioned, and that’s the way I like to live. I’ll stretch my arms as wide as I can to hold each end of the newspapers. (wait.. millennials read newspapers??) I’ll air dry my clothes out under the sun, because why not save energy and use nature’s resources?  And I’ll spend a couple hours in a grocery store, scrutinizing each product, looking at nutrition facts, and admiring the packaging design.

However,  as a college student, living in a college dorm, I’m unable to be as old-fashioned. Yes, I still hang my wet clothes throughout the room (my roommate openly scorns me for this), and yes, I’ll read the newspapers once in a while. But with no car and no reliable source of money, it’s difficult to purchase the “luxurious” foods that I crave. Almond milk for $2.19? Chia seeds for $8.99? ALMOND BUTTER FOR $10.99? UHH NOO I DON’T THINK SO. But I’m tired of feeling lousy from cheap junk food. The sad part is that the junk food  is not even that cheap. $7.50 for 2 tacos or $5.50 for a filling burger is quite pricey. And so I went online and began to compare prices for certain products I’ve been wanting. I compared prices for chia seeds, whole almonds, almond milk, quinoa, and other healthy items, and the company that rose above all other companies was Walmart. Neither my parents nor I have ever shopped at Walmart before, but the prices for these items were extremely affordable. It was almost shocking how affordable the products were, and so I went a little ham in ordering the items, but I’d say it was the greatest $40 I have ever spent in my life.

Order cart:

  1. Great Value Whole Natural Almonds, 14 oz. – $5.98, (compare to Blue Diamond Whole Natural Almonds, 14 oz.- $7.40)
  2. Sam’s Choice Slow Roasted Creamy Almond Butter, 12 oz. -$5.98, (compare to MaraNatha no stir almond butter, 12 oz.- $15.50
  3. Healthy Cooking Chia seeds Organic bag, 16 oz.- $4.42, (compare to Nutiva chia seed, 12 oz.- $7.17)
  4. Joyva sesame tahini, 15 oz.- $3.78, ( compare to Al wadi sesame tahini, 16 oz- $7.87)
  5. LouAna 100% Pure coconut oil, 14 fl oz.- $3.68, (compare to Nutiva Organic coconut oil, 15 oz.- $8.04)
  6. Village Harvest Red Quinoa, 16 oz.- $3.58, (compare to Trader Joe’s Organic Red Quinoa, 16 oz.- $11.99)
  7. Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate chips, 12 0z.- $1.98, (this price is about the same as any other store)
  8. Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almond milk, 32 fl. oz.- $1.84, bought 4- $7.36, (this price is about the same as any other store).

TOTAL: $36.76 + Free shipping

My order arrived in 2 days and the products are just great. I have absolutely no complaints about any damage, and now I am stocked up with healthy foods that can last me for a 2+ months. On days when I want to just eat clean in my dorm, I can just grab my Walmart goods and make almond butter toast, microwave quinoa, or snack on whole almonds. This was my first experience with Walmart and I highly recommend purchasing from Walmart in-stores or online.

-Jamie

Broke College Student #2: The Ultimate 2 Ingredient Snack

Broke College Student, food, healthy

img_8075-1.jpgThere are many variations of a no-bake protein ball on the web, but I’ve never seen a 2 ingredient variation. Many of the recipes call for pricey ingredients such as medjool dates, vanilla extract, or flax seeds that college students would not typically buy, so I have tested a two ingredient peanut butter protein ball recipe. The great thing about this snack is that it is extremely filling because of the dense peanut butter packed with heart-healthy monosaturated fats, potassium, and protein mixed with rolled oats. For a snack, I would snack on one or two balls maximum (depending on how hungry I feel). Doing so prevented me from snacking on low-nutrient snacks such as potato chips or cookies, which I would eat about 3 servings of.

Ingredients:

Disclaimer: keep in mind that college students in dorms probably don’t have measuring tools, so I am approximating. Approximation is not a big deal for this recipe because you just keep adding the amount of oats to the peanut butter gradually until it fits your preferred consistency.

  1. 1/2 c. peanut butter or any nut butter
  2.  1 c. rolled oats
  3.  1 tbsp honey (not necessary, I used to add flavor:)

Instructions:

  1. put peanut butter in a microwaveable bowl and microwave for 25 seconds
  2. The peanut butter is easy to mix now, so add handfuls of rolled oats, mixing after each batch of oats.
  3. Add oats until you cannot see the whites of the oats. The oats should be brown (peanut butter). If the oats are not brown, the mixture will be too dry and the balls will not stick together.
  4. Refrigerate mixture for minimum 30 minutes. Roll into 1 tbsp. balls and place in an airtight bag or container.

-Jamie