Chia Seeds: Not Scary

I’m trying to eat healthier these days. 

I’ve looked into a lot of weird diets – paleo, keto, blahblah, eat less carbs, stop eating bread. In all my reading, I’ve come across some awesome recipes, some less than awesome recipes (avocados in breakfast shakes? HUGE no. Dat grease though. ugh) and a few new foods that I probably wouldn’t have tried otherwise. In combination with exercise, I definitely FEEL better than I did a year ago, which is pretty important.

Regarding the new foods front. Maybe you, too, are trying to get healthier but you, like me, have the terrible affliction: a monster sweet tooth. My sweet tooth, particularly my affinity for chocolate, could probably fell a lesser human. It’s not good.

Enter the Chia seed.

These little bitty seedies look like this. You buy them in a bag at Whole Foods that looks like this. (You can probably buy them elsewhere, but Whole Foods is convenient for me, so…) They’re a bit on the pricey side – usually like $8 a bag or so – but that bag will last you for weeks, so it’s worth it. 

You can do stuff like toss them in smoothies or bake them into bread – they have a TON of fiber and healthy fat and don’t taste like much, but I feel like that doesn’t quite use them to their full potential. The cool thing about chia seeds is that they can absorb 12 TIMES THEIR WEIGHT IN LIQUID. They turn from these little black pellets into a cool gelly substance that’s reminiscent of pudding.

Hmmm….pudding?? We can work with this.

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Making the Best of What’s On Hand and Getting Creative

Hey all! I figured I would post one of my longest held tenets of cooking that has served me well and will help you save time, money and use your innate creativity: using what you have on hand and being inventive.

Here’s a perfect example of what I mean. At my house, the kitchen is all torn apart because of renovations. Shopping isn’t really getting done and there is very little on hand other than pantry staples and a few fridge things. One night, having eaten wieners and beans for about a week, I couldn’t take it anymore. So I went on a journey through my pantry and fridge.

Going through spices, tins of various meats and old pumpkin pie mix, I hit a few key things: microwaveable rice (Uncle Ben’s Bistro Express Basmati to be specific), oil and curry powder. That gave me the idea to make a very rough estimate of fried rice a la me. I went through the fridge, found some celery and bacon, and knew I was in business. I microwaved the rice and sauteed the celery in oil with a bit of curry powder until the celery was a warm but still crunchy. I took the celery out of the pan, added the bacon (which I had cut up) and fried it up until it was slightly crisp. I added the celery back, added the rice and kept frying it up.

Trying to think back to how I’ve seen fried rice made around Japanese teppanyaki tables, I made a hole in the rice and fried up an egg, blending it into the mixture once cooked. I added soy sauce and a bit of sriracha. Plated. Ate it. And it was good. So so so good.

It took me no more than 10 minutes, cost me about $2 and had enough for lunch the next day.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and it is a key part of being comfortable while cooking. You can mix together any few things you may have and probably turn it into something great! Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you’ve only got a few things, think of flavours you like and things you may have seen before and try it out.

Things won’t always turn out, but that’s all part of the learning process of cooking. Start off with flavours you know, ingredients you trust and it is incredibly hard to not end up with a tasty product at the end. The important thing is to keep a few staples around that you are comfortable with, so you will always have something in your back pocket to whip up.

Also, as your comfort grows, you can begin to save a lot more money by purchasing discounted fruit, vegetables and meats that need to be used ASAP. Often, discounted food is only one or two days older than the “new” items out on the shelves for sale. So check out the reduced rack at your local supermarket and see if anything inspires you!

Don’t ever be afraid to put a few things in a pot and get creative. Most of the time, it’ll be delicious.

Happy eating!

– Andrew