A lot of people ask what the secret is in the rich creamy chia pudding that I make. I respond to them, "aside from a lot of love, the secret is to use pure coconut milk”.
Many people confuse coconut milk beverage for pure coconut milk.
The beverage is a compilation of additives such as sugar, vitamins, minerals, gums, natural flavors, lecithin, and carrageenan. Used for milk substitutions in cereal, coffee, etc. it is often a blend of water and coconut cream.
Pure coconut milk, made with coconut milk as the only ingredient, is usually found in cans in the Asian food section of your grocery store. If you have a favorite local Asian food market, you may find pure coconut milk in aseptic packaging.
The variety I buy to make my famous chia pudding is 100% pure coconut milk from cans that have a BPA free lining.
There are no added gums, carrageenan, preservatives or sulfites. This makes a big difference in not only the health of you and our environment but also in taste and texture.
Pure coconut milk is rich, thick, and creamy, and makes the best base for chia puddings.
To make coconut milk from scratch, combine unsweetened coconut flakes (buy sulfite-free) with water in a blender. Blend well then strain off the chunks.
Here is a recipe and how-to guide for you.
This is a delicious and pure food filled with healthy fats and valuable nutrients, but won't work the best for chia puddings.
For the creamiest coconut milk chia pudding, use store bought pure coconut milk!
On a side note, while you can make chia pudding with a variety of plant based milks, you won't have the same results. Pure coconut milk is thick, creamy, and rich.
Many plant based milks are formulated "beverage style" with additives. They are also more watery.
Again, the secret to the creamiest, richest, chia pudding is to use pure coconut milk.
So now that you know my secret to the best coconut milk chia pudding it's time to make your own. Here is a basic coconut milk chia pudding recipe:
VANILLA CHIA PUDDING (makes 2-3 servings)
1 (14oz) can full fat pure coconut milk (My favorite brand is Aroy-D)
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
Optional: shredded coconut, fresh fruit, granola to top
Add pure coconut milk to a mason jar (with cover) and whisk until blended and smooth. Add vanilla extract, maple syrup, cinnamon, and whisk.
Add chia seeds and immediately whisk until fully incorporated. Chia seeds clump fast so work quickly in this stage. Put the cover on and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning add shredded coconut, fresh fruit, and granola. Indulge in this perfect chia pudding parfait and enjoy!
CHEF'S NOTE: If you don't use full fat pure coconut milk you may need to increase the chia seeds to thicken the pudding. Full fat pure coconut milk is so thick already that the chia seeds are not thickening it, rather they are just adding protein and more nutrients.
NUTRITION NOTE: I have never been afraid of fat and have maintained a healthy weight my whole life. The fat in coconut milk is fuel for your brain and energy for your body. You need healthy fat to live a healthy life. Having said that, if you have gallbladder issues you may want to stick to another plant based milk and double the chia seeds to thicken. It will still taste good, but the texture will be different. As well, if you suffer from IBS you may want to reduce the serving size to a FODMAP Friendly amount.
Now that I have divulged my secret I look forward to hearing your stories of making your own coconut milk chia pudding and what fun flavors you come up.
Post comments and pics below!
Growing a garden specifically for summer salads is a popular garden theme.
Instead of wondering what to plant in your garden this year think of all the vegetables you would use to make a salad, and just grow those!
It’s a fun garden project and you will be happy and healthy all summer long enjoying daily fresh salads.
Plants that are normally chosen for salad gardens are ones that you love to eat and may include: a variety of greens, assorted tomatoes, radishes, carrots, cucumber, bell peppers, and fresh herbs.
Using a raised bed garden with the maximum size of 4x8 should yield enough summer salads for a family of four. If you don’t have a raised bed yet, you can do a quick internet search on how to build one.
You could also use pallets, concrete blocks, and other found materials to create a rasied bed garden. The best thing about raised bed gardens is the ability to control the soil (and that it’s easier on your back!). You can also attach a small fence around the bed to protect your plants from animals enjoying your salads.
Some of the crops you may be interested in planting include:
Arugula: seeds can be direct sowed and will mature in about 2-3 weeks. Sow every 2 weeks for a continued supply throughout the season.
Leaf or Mesclun Lettuce: seeds can be direct sowed and harvested within 3-4 weeks. Sow every 3 weeks for continued supply. Harvest in the morning for maximum crispness.
Spinach: seeds can be direct sowed and harvested within 3-4 weeks. Can be sowed every 3 weeks or pick individual leaves from the outer edges. Harvest leaves before the spinach plant sends up a flower stalk.
Mizuna Mustard: a unique salad green. Seeds can be direct sowed and ready to harvest in 3 weeks.
Baby Persian Cucumbers: direct sow seeds for maturity in about 60 days. Pick often to encourage more fruit!
Radish: there are so many unique varieties of radishes and they grow quick! Cut up the radishes for use in salads or pickling and use the greens to make pesto. Add more olive oil to the pesto for a lovely salad dressing.
Little Finger Carrots: these are true baby carrots that can be direct sowed and will mature in less than 60 days. The longer they stay in the ground the bigger they will get.
Starter plants to get include:
Tomatoes: beefsteak, heirloom, cherry, pear, or any of your favorite varieties.
Bell Peppers: red, yellow, or green (hot peppers are great for salad dressings).
Herbs: basil, chives, cilantro, dill, oregano, parsley, rosemary, or sage.
Of course you can add zucchini, summer squash, green beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, and so much more to your salads! Your salad garden can be designed to your liking.
And no salad garden is complete with out some basic salad dressing recipes. Click here for a few of my favorite dressing recipes.
A basic vinaigrette is made with 1 part vinegar (balsamic, apple cider, white wine, or even regular lemon juice) and 3 parts extra virgin olive oil. You can add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Optionally season with Dijon mustard, minced shallots or garlic, and/or chopped fresh herbs.
So what will you add to your salad garden this year? Let me know! Happy gardening!
(NOTE: original post was written by me for The Emery Farm Journal.)
As you may have noticed I haven't written in my blog or offered any courses in a while. Let me share with you why.
Last year around this time I took on the role as Culinary & Wellness lead for the upcoming newly built Market & Cafe at Emery Farm in Durham, NH. When the new building officially opened in October we began working a LOT!
Starting during the busiest season (fall in New England!), moving through the holidays, and then shifting the business to maintain being a source of food for the local community during quarantine has kept us all very active. With all the wonderful ideas we had for building local community through culinary and wellness programming, the global pandemic kind of got in the way.
So our programming is on hold and along with the BOH and FOH work that I do, I have been the chief content writer for their new blog The Emery Farm Journal. Although I am not as active on it as I want to be I am doing my best to keep writing and offering tips, recipes, and more. Check it out sometime!
In the meantime, during quarantine, when I have a moment off of work to ponder, I am doing some soul searching. I may be re-branding later this year to focus on my passion for all things plant related (food of course, but also herbalism, gardening, & plant based wellness) and surprisingly all things digital marketing related (content marketing, SEO, web design, etc.).
Soon they will all melt wonderfully together so I can continue to educate and inspire not only within my community but on a global scale.
Thanks for continuing to follow my blog! I look forward to serving you in the future!
Two years ago at this time I was just coming back from three weeks exploring Thailand and learning about vegan Thai cooking.
That year and into 2019 I had the opportunity to share what I learned by teaching Vegan Thai Cooking classes at a vegan cooking school in Maine. Every class was full of fun and incredible tasting food that my students eagerly cooked.
While everyone enjoyed learning the basics of Pad Thai, Tom Kha, and Massaman Curry, for example, they were surprised by the two desserts I taught them to make.
Traditional mango sticky rice most people had heard of, but banana soup was a new one. One that at first sounded really weird, but that upon tasting was one of the favorite new foods of the night!
I created these vegan recipes to be adapted to Western cooking (aka easy as possible!) and wanted to share them with you now. We have one more month of winter, so why not take a tropical vacation through your dessert plate and try out these delicious, unique, sweet treats!
Mangy Sticky Rice - serves 4 (rice cooker or insta pot needed)
1-2 ripe mangos, peeled and thinly sliced or cubed
1 cup sticky sweet rice (purchase Thai brands only as Japanese sweet rice is different)
1 cup canned coconut milk
2/3 cup water
1 pandan leaf (found in the freezer section at an Asian market or sub 1 Tbsp. vanilla)
3 Tbsp. organic white sugar
1/4 tsp. sea salt
Optional toasted sesame seeds to top.
Rinse rice several times until it is clear. Drain it and place it into the rice cooker bowl. Add coconut milk, water, pandan leaf tied in a knot or vanilla, sugar, and salt.
Press button and let it cook! When the rice cooker button pops, let it sit another 10 minutes to finish the steam cooking.
Scoop onto a plate and serve warm with sliced mangos.
(Note the photo here is of sticky rice that has been dyed purple/blue from the natural butterfly pea flower. And it is topped with fried mung beans which adds crunch.)
Sweet Coconut Milk Soup with Banana - serves 4
3 cups canned coconut milk
1 pandan leaf or 1 Tbsp. vanilla
3 Tbsp. organic white sugar
1/2 tsp. sea salt
4 firm bananas cut in half then down the middle and in half again to make 4 pieces (16 total)
In a wide pot bring coconut milk and pandan leaf (tied in a knot) or vanilla just to a gentle boil. Add the sugar, salt, and bananas and cook over low-medium heat for about 5 minutes or until bananas are soft and tender, but not mushy. (Be careful that it doesn't fully boil).
Remove from heat. In 4 separate bowls divide the sweet coconut broth with 4 slices of banana each. Serve warm and enjoy!
LOOKING FOR MORE RECIPES AND INSPIRATION TO COOK PLANT BASED MEALS? STAY TUNED FOR PROGRAMMING AT THE LOVELY NEW EMERY FARM MARKET & CAFE THIS SPRING.
Not local? Online programs will be coming soon too!
,As the poet Rumi so simply stated "Never give from the depths of your well, but from your overflow."
Self care and self love are not synonymous with selfish. In order for you to shine your brightest and share your gifts to the world you must take care of yourself. This means fueling your body with vibrant foods, taking deep relaxing breaths of fresh air, letting your mind stop for a minute, and doing things that make you happy.
Sounds simple, but sadly many of us don't take the time to truly honor and care for ourselves. We need to ask ourselves "Why?".
Why don't we take that 30 minutes we stare at social media or race through our work lunch to instead meditate, get outside of the office, or just sit and eat? Why don't we value our bodies, our minds, and our spirit as much as we value others, our work and our cell phones? What has happened to us?
And we wonder why so many are suffering from anxiety, depression, stress, random aches and pains, digestion disorders, and so forth. Maybe because we aren't valuing our divine selves and taking care of our needs.
So for Valentine's Day this year, why don't we commit to showing ourselves LOVE. You are so worth it.
5 Ways to Show Yourself Love
Now go fill your well you beautiful being. Then shine, shine, shine!
This blog is an exploration of life, love, adventure and art primarily through the medium of food.