cherry vanilla chia pod (vegan, gf, refined sugar free)

cherry vanilla chia pod recipe

Last summer we started making homemade chia pod treats.

And as time has gone on we’ve made them again and again. They are totally portable. Absolutely delicious. And completely healthy. (Have you read our post about why you want to add chia seeds to your diet?)

But we don’t limit ourselves to peach pods (because that would be boring, and peaches are not all that available here in Montana). We love chocolate pods. Vanilla pods. Coconut pods. Strawberry pods. Blueberry pods.

But our favorite of all favorites …

Cherry Vanilla …

(which might be because even in the midst of a spring snow storm we are anticipating cherries from our tree)

cherries

Cherry Vanilla Chia Pod Recipe

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups of pitted Cherries (if you use frozen cherries, thaw them first)
  • 2 cups full fat unsweetened Coconut Milk
  • 2/3 cup Chia Seeds (black or white)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 Tbls Raw Honey (replace with grade B maple syrup for a vegan version)

DIRECTIONS:

Puree all the ingredients in a VitaMix or high speed blender until well blended.

Divide into individual portions (we use small mason or jelly jars) and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to “set.”

Makes 8 servings.

Enjoy as a healthy snack, as a tasty dessert, a lunch-time treat, an on-the-go-breakfast or anytime (like maybe in the middle of the night after the kids are asleep and you don’t feel like sharing … which is not something I ever do … I swear!

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HAVE YOU TRIED MAKING YOUR OWN CHIA PODS?

Would you like to see your homemade chia pod creation make it into the O’Mamas kitchen?

Submit your recipe here before April 15th, 2014.  (Email us with your name, your recipe, at least one or two photos of your favorite version, and a way to contact you. Use “POD RECIPE” in your subject heading please!).

We’ll post our favorite FIVE recipes and you can decide what pod you like best!

Shared on Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday

Irish Soda Bread – just in time for St. Patrick’s Day

I’m Irish on my mom’s side. (Shout out to the Donnelly and Murray clans!)

But my mom doesn’t make Irish Soda Bread because one of her best friends Ann (who is Irish), makes great Irish soda bread and for years shared it with our family on St. Patrick’s Day. And if you have a best friend who makes great Irish soda bread, you don’t have to. (Not that my mom needs an excuse not to bake Irish soda bread because not everyone loves to be in the kitchen, right Ma?)

I don’t have Ann’s recipe.

But my friend April also makes amazing Irish Soda Bread.

Like I said, YAY for friends!

But April doesn’t live in Montana. So she shared her recipe with me nearly two years ago and all my Irish soda bread cravings were abated. This is easy and delicious and I bet you will love it as much as we do.

Also … yes, there’s white flour and brown sugar in this recipe. We make sourdough or long-rise bread for daily consumption, but this is a “memory” food for me, and I don’t want to mess with the recipe since it’s something we enjoy only a few times a year.

irish soda bread

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 oz white flour/bread flour*
  • 6 oz whole wheat flour
  • 1 oz rolled oats (whiz them up if they are big)
  • 1 oz wheat germ (I used 1 oz ground flax seed because I didn’t have wheat germ)
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • a little less than ½ TBLS cream of tartar
  • 1 TBLS baking soda
  • ¼ Cup brown sugar (preferably dark brown)
  • 22 oz plain unsweetened kefir (I used 2 1/4 cups of plain whole milk yogurt)
  • for the BOTTOM of the pan – 1 small handful of rolled oats
  • for the TOP – 3 TBLS of seeds of your choice (1 TBLS of each: pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, flax seeds, etc.)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  While preheating, put in a cast iron dutch oven that’s been rubbed with Olive Oil. (Or, if you’re like me and don’t generally cook with Olive Oil, try Avocado Oil.) The dutch oven (with the top on) should be in while preheating the entire time.

Mix everything in order with a wooden spoon, except the kefir (yogurt).  Once the dry ingredients are mixed, add the kefir (yogurt).  Stir until combined.  The dough will be sticky.  Don’t over mix.

Take out the preheated skillet.  Sprinkle more rolled oats on the bottom of the pan.  You don’t need to cover the bottom, just sprinkle a small handful.  Pour the dough into the pan, and you should hear a sizzle.  Make sure the dough is touching all sides of the pan.  Top with combination of three or four of the following (I used pumpkin, chia, sesame and a few more rolled oats): pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, flax seeds, etc. Cover.

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Bake at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Remove the cover and continue to bake for another 20 minutes**.  The crust should be browned and solid.  Take the bread out of the pan to cool.

Makes ONE loaf.

irish soda bread 2

Everyone together now: “THANK YOU, APRIL!”

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!!

xo,

Jeanne

* at our high altitude in Bozeman, I add an extra quarter cup of bread flour
** also at our altitude, I bake for 35 minutes, but am leaving April’s recipe the way she makes it because so many of our readers don’t live at this altitude!

what I learned about simplicity in an apartment with one spatula

Jeanne here.

We spent most of February in a small furnished apartment in Vancouver, Canada, visiting our dear Cowboy while he works on a movie for Paramount Pictures.

And what became more evident than ever during our time there is: we have too much stuff.

Not in Vancouver. But at home.

We spent three weeks and each little had one small box of toys (both boxes fit between their carseats for the road trip and they packed the boxes themselves), five books, a shopping bag of craft supplies (markers, paper, scissors, tape, paper bags), one notebook each with a special pen included, and enough clothes to last 5 days. And while they missed a few of their favorite toys (like the dollhouse and barn), neither ever asked for more or whined about not having enough. There were very few fights. We stayed busy and entertained, and the only TV they watched was the local PBS station while I made dinner.

It was awesome.

So of course I came home and removed SEVEN FULL BOXES OF TOYS from their school/play room.

simple toys

(I haven’t yet brought the boxes to our local Good Will, but if we can make it a month without them asking for these toys, they’ll make their way to a new home.)

But the lesson goes beyond reducing the clutter for the kids.

Because I made breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner nearly every day we were there … in a small kitchen equipped with one spatula, a whisk, one frying pan, a sauce pan, a medium sized pot, one baking dish, a set of three nesting mixing bowls, one really good knife (which the Cowboy brought with him) and a Vitamix.

Baked chicken. Meatballs. Soups. Salads. Smoothies. Pasta. Poached eggs. Pancakes. Bacon. Fried eggs. Burgers. Soaked oatmeal. Steak. Sautéed veggies. Rice.

The meals were simple (we had a very limited supply of spices and herbs to choose from), but there wasn’t one that didn’t satisfy. And I did it all with one spatula!

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Not only was cooking everything that we needed possible, but clean-up was a BREEZE. I cleaned while I cooked. I used fewer prep dishes. Fewer prep dishes means fewer dishes to wash. Fewer dishes to clean means a happier mama as doing dishes is one of my LEAST favorite chores. And fewer dishes also translated into cleaner kitchen.

Lesson learned.

My first step was to realize that we don’t need FIVE whisks. Seriously. That’s how many whisks we’ve got in our utensil canister. And FOUR spatulas. And too many wooden spoons to count. See?

not simple utensils

So I’ve removed more than half of the utensils. And two thirds of our pots and pans.

simple utensils

Like the toys, I put them in boxes and set them aside. They are there if I need ’em.

But if I make it a few months without reaching for the boxes, we might be having a garage sale. Anyone want some wooden kitchen toys?

#simplifylife

super veggie-packed oven baked meatballs

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Dinnertime view from our Vancouver rental on the 33rd floor. A new perspective for the littles and a new appreciation for me for families raising kiddos in a super-city environment.

Sometimes the kiddos will ask for veggie stir fry for dinner.

Sometimes our little girl will beg for a red pepper for a snack.

Sometimes the little guy will demand a salad.

Sometimes.

But they are kids.

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that sometimes getting them to eat veggies is a challenge. Or at least it was a challenge. Until I figured out that they will eat almost any vegetable if it’s inside a meatball.

Broccoli. Carrots. Peppers. Cilantro. Parsley. Kale. Spinach. Bok choy.

If it’s in there, they will eat it.

So when we’ve had “one of those days,” I take whatever veggies I have on hand, chop them fine (use a food processor if you want it super tiny) and toss them in a big glass mixing bowl with a pound of beef, an egg, some bread crumbs (or cooked quinoa), onion and garlic and we’re good to go. Actually, it’s enough meatballs to feed us for two or three meals. So after dinner I freeze the leftovers for crockpot usage at a later date.

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See the strange “orange” tint to this photo? It’s not a filter. No. It’s the light in our rental kitchen. SEVENTEEN pictures of one plate later (kids were done eating by the time I took this one), I thought there might be a revolt.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound of ground beef (preferably grassfed organic)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs (a paleo option is 1/2 cup cooked quinoa or 1/4 cup of almond flour)
  • 3/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese (could substitute with Parmesan)
  • 1/2 medium onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 1/3 cup broccoli* (finely chopped)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro* (chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt & pepper

*Broccoli and Cilantro can be replaced with carrots, bok choy, red or green peppers, spinach, kale, parsley, green beans, asparagus, mushrooms, etc. Whatever veggies you have handy.

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. With about a teaspoon of sesame oil (or your favorite cooking oil), lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine egg and bread crumbs. Add the meat, cheese, onion, garlic, veggies, salt & pepper. With clean hands, mix it all together until it’s evenly blended. Form into 2-inch meatballs. Twelve meatballs fit in the pan, so I bake them in two batches. I usually salt the meatballs with a pinch more after they are in the pan.

Bake for 20 minutes. (If you make smaller meatballs, they won’t need 20 minutes.)

Makes 24 2-inch meatballs.

Serve with pasta or over quinoa or on their own. Slather them in sauce or gravy or leave ’em plain. And feel happy that the fam is eating their leafy greens!

with love from Vancouver,
J

For my fellow Cool Ranch lovers…

Growing up, I’d choose savory over sweet any day of the week.  My treat of choice:

DORITOS_COOL_RANCH_

Unfortunately, the first ingredients are genetically-modified corn and canola oil (along with a bunch of other crap), so they are on my no-no list.

I’ll cut to the chase, because it’s late and I’m in the middle of a marathon on Netflix.  Anyone else avoid all responsibilities for a few days weeks to watch all 26 episodes of House of Cards?  No?  Then me neither.

But this is perfect timing, because who doesn’t want a late night snack when watching your favorite show? Here’s the best Cool Ranch replacement I’ve found:

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I’ve seen them at all our local grocery stores, so I think you’ll be able to find them easily!

You can thank me later.  -Abby

 

3 ingredient Asian-Kale Salad

untitled (1 of 1)-4This salad is a direct result of a great sale on organic kale from the co-op, an abundance of oranges and an impulse salad dressing buy.  A happy accident I suppose you could say.

Jeanne and I have both talked before how we never buy salad dressings anymore, and it was out of character for me when I threw this in my shopping cart:

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 6.56.35 PM

I’m a sucker for all things Bragg, and it’s not the first time I fell for one of their products. Once I got home I realized it most likely tastes similar to Jeanne’s dressing on this salad, but you can find it at most grocery stores or on Amazon here.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 2 oranges
  • 3 tablespoons Bragg’s Ginger and Sesame dressing
  • 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds (optional, just adds a little crunch and color)

Wash and dry kale.  Once clean, finely chop.  Kale can be a tough green, so the smaller the chop, the more enjoyable the salad.

Slice oranges into bite size pieces.

Mix kale and oranges together, and add in dressing.  Mix well.

Sprinkle sesame seeds over the top before serving.

Can I get an amen for easy, tasty side salads?

 

garlicky garlic baked chicken

Jeanne here.

The Cowboy (aka my husband) has been working in Canada for a few weeks, and the littles and I were finally able to make the drive to meet up with him just a few days ago at his sublet apartment in Vancouver, BC.

A word about Vancouver: holy COW is it expensive! But that’s not news. It was reported last week to be the most expensive North American city for living. And I believe it. $11 to park in public parking lots. $7 for one package of wipes because I accidentally left our wipes at the apartment and really needed them but didn’t have an extra 30 minutes to drive home to get them. $40 for lunch for one adult and two toddlers at a pizza joint near the Cowboy’s office. Crazy.

And we’re deep in the heart of downtown. Skyscrapers. Asphalt Jungle. Coffee shops on every corner. Hot dog carts and soft pretzels on every other. Rear Window living as no one closes their shades on the 33rd floor of a high-rise. Aquariums. Art galleries. Science World. Museums. And it never gets dark. The lights from all the buildings keep the rooms lit almost to dusk even at 2 am.

I’m amazed at how amazed I am.

I mean, I lived in Los Angeles for 16 years. And before that, I lived in Washington, DC. I’ve worked on movies in San Francisco, Atlanta, Detroit and Albuquerque, and spent a lot of time in New York and London, so it’s not like I’ve never experienced city living. I’ve only been in Montana for 4 years. Well. Almost 4 years. It’ll be 4 years in June. But I’ve come to really like seeing stars at night. And not hearing the constant hum of cars. And sirens. I guess I’ve really done it. I’ve gone Montana.

I could wax-nostalgic for hours but what I really wanted to say is that we are here for two weeks and I don’t want to eat out for every meal. I also don’t want to stock a second kitchen like ours at home so I’ve been making simple foods and it turns out that the kids and the Cowboy are pretty happy about it.

A few nights ago, for example, I made this:

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Looks a little boring, right? Baked chicken and a salad.

But I’ll tell you something: It’s five ingredients. 20 minutes. And it’s flavorful and made for four happy eaters. So happy, in fact, that I made it again a few nights later.

Garlicky Garlic Baked Chicken

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbls sesame oil
  • 6-8 cloves garlic (rough chopped)
  • 3 Tbls grade B maple syrup
  • sea salt & fresh ground pepper (to taste)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Rinse and pat dry the chicken breasts. Patting the chicken dry seems to help ensure moist chicken. One day I’ll figure out the science of it. But in the meantime, I highly recommend patting it dry. Set in a non-reactive roasting pan and season the chicken with salt and pepper. (We use glass or ceramic. I’m happy to say that the owner of this apartment left one glass baking dish.)

Heat the oil in a small saucepan. Add the chopped garlic and sauté until translucent. Remove from the heat and add the maple syrup. Pour the mixture evenly over the chicken. I lift each chicken breast to let the mixture get under the meat as well.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the maple syrup gets all frothy and the liquid from the chicken runs clear.

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Remove from the oven. Let stand for 2-3 minutes while you plate your side dish (we had a mixed green salad with pink lady apples and a balsamic honey mustard dressing). Slice and serve.

What do you feed your family when you’re on an extended trip that’s not really a vacation?

Thai Curry Soup

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Abby here…. stopping in after a quite extended holiday break.  Three months is totally normal, right?

I want to share a new favorite soup.  To be honest, I was trying to replicate my beloved Tom Kai Kai soup, and I’ve yet to nail it.  Similar to this weekend when my husband and I attempted homemade Pad Thai for the umpteenth time, and 3 (whole) hours later we were left with some Thai-ish tasting noodles.

So the soup didn’t turn out how I had anticipated, but that’s entirely okay because I managed to create a new soup we love. I can’t explain how easy and nourishing this soup is.  Seeing I usually have homemade broth on hand, this soup took all of 15 minutes to make.

Thai Curry Soup (serves 4)

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 6 cups coconut water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 TBS curry powder
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms of choice
  • Cilantro and avocado for topping

Place all ingredients, except mushrooms and toppings, in VitaMix (or other high speed blender), and blend well till combined.

Place in pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add cleaned and sliced mushrooms, and cook through until tender (just a few minutes).

In individual bowls, add chopped avocado and cilantro, and then ladle over soup.

Enjoy!

stone soup – a perfect winter supper

Do you remember that children’s tale of The Stone Soup?

stone soup

A tired and hungry old man arrives in town and removes a special stone from his satchel and then starts reminiscing about stone soup with onions … and salt beef … and cabbage … and mushrooms … and the list goes on and on. By the end, he “magically” (with the help of the entire town) creates a most delicious and nourishing soup.

It’s a beautiful story. And a great lesson about the benefits of working together and a wonderful example about how everyone has something to contribute.

Last week, we were prepping to leave for a two to three week road trip to visit my husband while he’s working in Canada. We had more than a few veggies left in the fridge I knew would go bad if we just left them there. So, with two helpful sets of little hands, we set out to make our own Stone Soup.

It was so good we ate it for dinner, and then dinner the next night, and then (at their request) the kids ate it for breakfast before we left for skiing on Thursday!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Tbls sesame or sunflower oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion (chopped)
  • 3 stalks celery (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 1/4 c. leftover tomato sauce
  • 7 c. broth (bone or vegetable or water)
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 small-medium carrots (chopped)
  • 1 medium sweet potato (chopped)
  • 1 – 2 stalks of bok choy (chopped)
  • 1 1/2 c. cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 c. green beans (cut in thirds)
  • 2 c. leftover cooked brown rice or quinoa
  • Sea salt & pepper (to taste)
  • no stone required

DIRECTIONS:

Heat oil in a dutch oven and sauté chopped onion until translucent. Ad celery and garlic. Then add tomato sauce, rosemary and thyme and broth or water. Bring to a boil then lower temperature to simmer and add carrots, sweet potato, bok choy, tomatoes, green beans. Add salt and a dash of pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.  About 10 minutes before serving, add leftover rice.

This is sure to warm you on these cold winter nights (or mornings).

NOTE: A traditional stone soup might also have a salted beef or leftover meat of your choice. 

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almond milk – for when the cows stop giving it up

I just found out that the cow from whom we get our milk is pregnant!!! Very pregnant, apparently. So she’s starting to wean her other baby. And not really producing much milk anymore. And unlike at factory farms where they might induce lactation with chemicals or medication, our family farmer wants to make sure our little lady is healthy and restored and ready for the task at hand (giving birth and caring for her new calf). So no more milk for us at least until May.

It’s a nice coincidence for me that this falls right in the middle of that cleanse I was telling you about, as I’ve given up dairy for the short term. I haven’t, however, given up tea and coffee. And I like a little milk in my soaked oatmeal or millet breakfasts. I’m still making sourdough pancakes a few mornings a week for the kiddos. And the kids love their granola.

So while Twyla (the cow) isn’t lactating, we still need a little milk in the house.

Enter almond milk.

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Which I know I can buy in a carton.

But I have a yoga-teacher friend who made fresh almond milk while I was sitting at her table one afternoon during a playdate between her son and our daughter. It looked super easy. Took next to no time at all. It was frothy, creamy and oh-my-GOOD-delicious. And I’ve not been able to enjoy the carton-version since.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups filtered water
  • 6 pitted Medjool dates (optional)
  • 1 pinch sea salt (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

First things first, soak the almonds overnight (up to 48 hours, but change the water every 18-24 hours) in a non-reactive container like a glass mason jar. The longer you soak, the thicker the milk will be. I’m pretty satisfied with the consistency of the milk around 18 hours.

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Rinse the almonds and put them in the container of a high-powered blender (like a Vitamix or Blendtec) or food processor. Add the water, dates and sea salt. Puree until pulverized and you’re left with a frothy, creamy mixture.

Strain the almonds through a cheese cloth and a fine mesh strainer into a medium sized bowl. (If I don’t have cheese cloth, I’ve also just strained them through a fine mesh strainer and been content.) Serve immediately or keep in the fridge for up to four days. (Note, if you don’t use it right away, you’ll want to shake it up after it sits in the fridge for a bit as it will separate.)

Makes a little more than 2 cups of creamy sweet almond milk.

NOTE: I generally make only two cups at a time because it’s so delicious fresh. Also, I add the dates because I like the subtle sweetness they add to the milk. The dates are optional. No need to add dates if you don’t want them. And lastly, I only remember to add the salt about half the time. The difference is pretty subtle, but adding the salt will keep the milk fresh in the fridge for an extra few days, I think.

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