Friday, April 13, 2012

Gluten Free Friday ~ Chia Craze (Oatmeal, Mango, & Mason Jars, too)

 Don't you love free sample days at Whole Foods?  You could make a whole meal just browsing through the store ~ salads, cheeses, jams, chips, dips, chocolate, chili (even chili with chocolate), yogurt and gelato, too. It was on one of these free sample days that I discovered chia seeds.  (Yes, the same ones used for the Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia pets.) One of the many samples that day was a chocolate chia seed pudding.  It was like tapioca pudding, which I adore, but never make. This pudding was dairy free, as it used almond milk, and sweetened with dates. A healthy, nutritious dessert? Wow. Now I've taken to drinking kombucha WITH chia seeds floating in it, which has caused some alarmed reactions in my family, but I did find a bottle of it in my Easter basket, so at least they don't mind accommodating my "disgusting" new health habits. I know that some of you just can't do the tapioca "texture", though, and so for you I would recommend the other pudding I tried that day: Chocolate Avocado! 

Chia seeds are expensive, but they happened to be marked down quite a bit last week at Whole Foods, so I decided to buy some. I was searching online for how to, and if it is even permissible to include chia seeds in cooked oatmeal for breakfast (Yes, I still crave rules and permission, even in the kitchen. Working on that.), when I came across this really fun idea for overnight soaked oatmeal in mason jars WITH chia seeds! (I also found that it is perfectly permissible to cook chia seeds right along in the same pot as your hot oatmeal ~ whew!) Anyway, I've become obsessed with this healthy breakfast idea, and wanted to share it with you.  If you like this idea, you should really take a trip over to The Yummy Life for more ideas and variations of this recipe.
 Here's what I used for my breakfast jars:

1 pint mason jar
1/2 cup GF oats (regular, but quick oats might work just fine)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 Tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp honey, agave, or maple syrup (or do without sweetener altogether!)
1/2 - 2/3 cup coconut milk  (any type of milk will do, but I'm also in love with coconut milk currently)
fruit (mangoes, berries, bananas, any you prefer)

Speaking of fruit, my friend Jenna recently taught me how to slice/dice a mango.  My first-ever mango was eaten while on an eighth grade trip to Mexico City with my Spanish Class.  Whole mangoes, mango ice cream ~ they seemed to be everywhere.  I thought they were wonderful, but don't think I ever ate another one until about 5 years ago.  Mangoes were a dollar a piece this week at Whole Foods, so they've definitely been the fruit of the week at our house.

First, slice the mango into two halves along each side of the thin, flat pit.  Then, cut vertical and horizontal lines in the flesh of the fruit forming a grid of mango cubes. Push up on the skin underneath to turn the cubes of flesh out.  Use a sharp knife to cut each cube off of the skin. 
Layer the oats, cinnamon, chia seeds, yogurt, milk, and sweetener in the one pint jar.  Stir until thoroughly combined.  Add cut fruit and stir to combine again.  Place a lid on the jar and store in the refrigerator overnight.  In the morning, the oats and chia seeds will have absorbed some of the liquid, and become a wonderful "porridge" type breakfast dish packed full of omega 3's (chia seeds contain more than salmon), protein (as much as quinoa), calcium, vitamin B, and fiber.

You could leave them in the frig for even 24 hours (possibly more), and I would recommend at least 12 hours.  Also, if cold porridge doesn't appeal to you, then either use all yogurt or a combo of yogurt and raw milk and let it sit out for the 12-24 hours.  (Not pasteurized milk, though as it has no good bacteria to prevent spoiling!  Thanks, Karla for this reminder!) Or, just warm up the contents when you are ready to eat it.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

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