Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Cocoa & Raspberry Chia Seed Pudding

Image by me, Danielle Rose
We all have that number one insecurity that always seems to be lurking behind you any time you start to feel confident in yourself. For myself that number one insecurity has been my skin. Ever since high school and especially in university I have suffered from acne. Though it's had it's ups and downs with deep, dark, scary downs in university that often left me feeling such extreme self hate that I wouldn't want to leave my bedroom. I would fake sick just so I wouldn't have to go to work and have the beautiful people I worked with see my embarrassing skin. I would keep my head down in lectures to try to cover my face with my hair so no one would have to see my face. I remember bursting into tears while catching a glimpse of my reflection while out at a restaurant with my mom because I thought I looked like a monster. As extreme as this all sounds, and though my skin has drastically improved, I still have those days where I feel like a monster. 
Image by me, Danielle Rose
Through the many ups and downs with my skin I've learned that much of my skin issues have to do with my diet. Of course there's the obvious food no-no's for having clear skin like reducing the amount of alcohol I consume (thank goodness I hardly drink at all) as well as greasy and fried foods (damn, I love those!), but what I didn't realize was affecting my skin so much was dairy. Now if you know me at all you will know that cheese is my secret lover. We have had a passionate affair since I first tasted it and I refuse to ever let go. So if I'm going to be keeping my dear cheese present in my daily life, I'm going to have to be extra diligent about reducing all the other dairy I consume. 

With a new healthy diet on my mind since, you guessed it, January, I've been trying to curb my late afternoon foodie cravings each day with a yogurt and granola bowl as a way of upping my fruit intake as well as delivering other great health benefits such as probiotics, chia seeds, flax, and more. Though those yogurt and granola bowls were awesome for keeping me satiated throughout the day and gave me a great boost of energy, my skin was not happy with having all this dairy in my system. I started breaking out like crazy igniting the awful pattern of self hate that I'm all too familiar with.
Image by me, Danielle Rose
Thanks to my savvy Pinterest hunting, I was able to come up with an alternative to my fruit and yogurt bowls in the form of chia seed pudding. I have kept a steady supply of chia seeds in my kitchen ever since I first learned about its incredible health benefits, which include being packed with antioxidants, fibre, protein, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Completely flavourless and very tiny, chia seeds have been great for shaking into salads, onto my yogurt bowls, in smoothies, and so much more. More than just a garnish for adding a hit of nutrients, chia seeds are also fantastic thanks to their texture when moistened. Chia seeds are a lifesaver for vegans, as they are a fantastic egg substitute when stirred with some water and left to rest. When moistened, chia seeds expand and take on an almost gelatinous texture, giving them the ability to bind many different foods. The binding properties in chia seeds make them the magic ingredient in creating a vegan pudding, ie. chia seed pudding.
Photograph by Kristi Giambattista
Because chia seeds have no flavour, they are a wonderful base for pudding, allowing you to get creative and play around with different flavours. This time, inspired by a recipe by Minimalist Baker, I chose to make a cocoa flavoured chia pudding, seasoned with cinnamon, a little bit of sea salt, and a touch of maple syrup for sweetness. Chia seed pudding is insanely easy to make, just stir and let rest, that's it! It's ease of preparation means you can whip up a big batch on a weeknight and spoon them into individual jars, topped as you wish, so you can have a variation of chia puddings each day, all week long! Though it may not be quite as creamy and decadent as a traditional pudding, it certainly satisfies a craving for pudding thanks to the delicious combination of chocolate, cinnamon, raspberries, and coconut. I love that I can still have my easy and healthy afternoon treat each day, without worrying about how it will affect my skin. Give my chia pudding a try and let me know on Twitter if I've made you a chia convert. Tweet me: @thisgingerrose. 

The above image was photographed by the talented Kristi Giambattista. Check out more of Kristi's work on her website!
Recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups almond milk (I used Vanilla flavoured)
1/3 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup cocoa powder (I use Valrhona cocoa powder)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
agave syrup or maple syrup to taste (because I used the Vanilla flavoured almond milk, I didn't need to add much additional sweetness)
fresh raspberries
toasted coconut, for garnish
chocolate curls, for garnish

Directions:
  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together almond milk, chia seeds, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk vigorously until well combined and no lumps remain.
  2. Taste and season with agave or maple syrup and additional cinnamon and vanilla, if needed. Stir to combine.
  3. Transfer to a jar and chill for at least 3-5 hours, preferably overnight.
  4. Spoon desired amount into a jar or serving dish. Top with fresh raspberries, toasted coconut, and chocolate curls and enjoy! 
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