Let’s continue with the theme of sweetness. And summer.
After about 10 days spent with my family in Sweden, where it wasn’t up the usual July temperatures, I subsequently returned to an Ireland which kind of is.
So that inspired me to share this recipe I created a few years ago for a guest posting on someone else’s site, and since I’ve been a little short on time, plus the fact that there are some internal work currently being done to the house I live in (think dust, shambles and loud drilling noises) then coming up with something totally fresh and new felt too challenging.
Here we are with an oldie, but a goodie. Perfect for summer.
In these days of everyone going gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, vegan or paleo it can become a minefield to find something to eat, or serve, which is still tasty, nourishing and made from simple wholefood ingredients.
Personally I don’t believe that adhering to any of the dietary requirements above should mean restrictive and boring. (Nor does it mean that we should attach any other emotional connotations to it either, but that’s a different conversation.)
Rather the opposite in fact. If you have to adhere to any food restrictions for health reasons they can in fact serve as a gateway into a more simplistic, holistic and diverse way of eating.
The question I constantly ask myself is “When did it become so complicated to choose what to eat?”
In the end of the day no matter what latest nutritional trend you follow, doesn’t it just come down to the quality of the food in the end? How it has been grown and produced – with care. How it’s been prepared – with love. And how it’s being served and eaten- with joy!
I don’t follow any particular dietary trend and eat most things which will make me feel good and do something good for my health. And if you’re going to cut something out of your diet for good, cut out the guilt.
Michael Pollan, author of several books on food and the history of cooking, eating, agriculture etc. have the best advice I know, which is really straightforward.
Eat (REAL) food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.
You simply can’t go wrong with that…
Now let’s move on to the recipe.
This is a simple, yet decadent summer dessert which should please the majority of your guests regardless of what they call themselves. what they can or cannot eat.
Coconut Panacotta with Raw Raspberry Chia Jam
Serves 2-4 depending on the sizes of the serving glasses you use
1 can of coconut milk – Preferably organic and additive free
1 ½ tbsp. raw honey – use maple syrup if vegan
1 tsp vanilla bean paste, or vanilla powder
Zest of one organic lemon
2g agar-agar powder – available in healthfood shops
Raspberry Chia Jam:
125 g fresh raspberries, washed & drained
Juice of ½ lemon – optional. Lime would be lovely too
1 tbsp of chia seeds
Place coconut milk, vanilla bean paste, honey, lemon zest and agar-agar powder in a small sauce pan. Bring it to a boil while constantly stirring to make sure the honey dissolves and prevent the agar-agar flakes from sticking to the bottom. Once the coconut milk mix reaches boiling point boil for one min, then remove from to heat and allow to cool. Once the coconut milk has cooled to finger temperature pour it into small serving glasses and allow to set in the fridge.
To make the chia jam; place your berries in a food processor / blender. Squeeze the lemon juice straight into the bowl of your food processor / blender. Blend until smooth. Transfer the blended berries to a container. Add in the chia seeds and stir until well combined. Let the chia jam sit for an hour or two to allow the seeds to gel. Stir a few times.
Add the jam on top of your set coconut panacotta to be served straight out of the glasses it’s set in. Garnish with a sprig of mint or some shaved dark chocolate.
Note* I did not add any sweetener to the chia jam. You can of course do so if you want it less tart.
This week I’m really excited about introducing you all to another Irish Food Blogger, Frances Walsh from The Honest Project! We are doing a blog and recipe swap and you will be able to read my contribution to Frances’s blog over here.
But now let’s get going with the interview! I will let Frances tell you a little bit more about herself now 🙂
Hi Frances! Can you tell us something about yourself and your work?
Sure! My name is Frances and I live in Kilkenny in the south east of Ireland. Kilkenny is my home town, but I lived in Dublin for years where I worked as a lawyer. I moved home about four years ago when I was diagnosed with cancer to focus on my recovery. I started my blog, The Honest Project two years ago as something for me to focus on when I was getting better. I found cooking food very therapeutic, especially when it was healthy foods. I began to experiment with my cooking and document it on the blog. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was a child but never really experimented with vegetarian cooking until I started my road to recovery. I also love writing and photography so the blog is a great way for me to spend time doing some of my favourite things.
How would you describe your food philosophy?
I won’t really call it a philosophy. I just cook and eat what I want to at a particular time. I guess my focus is on eating more vegetables and I find vegetarian cooking exciting. I’m always looking for new ways to add vegetables to my diet. I think everyone has to decide for themselves how they wish to eat and I’d hate to come across as preachy; but I guess the blog is for anyone who wants to eat more vegetables and more food that is cooked from scratch. Sometimes the simplest of ingredients and cooking techniques can make the most delicious dishes and sometimes you want to make things a little more complex. Both ways of cooking have their place in my kitchen.
How did you come up with the name The Honest Project?
When I started the blog, it was so that I would have a project that I could focus on when I was recovering from being sick. I needed something to structure my day and I was so fatigued after chemotherapy I really saw the blog as a project to help get me back on my feet. I also wanted to write about things that were authentic and honest to me. I didn’t want to limit the blog to food related content so I thought The Honest Project was a good choice. Plus the URL was available, so didn’t have to think twice.
What does your process from idea to finished recipe and blog post look like?
It varies. I usually don’t put a whole lot of planning into my recipes. Rather I might have a beautiful seasonal ingredient in my kitchen and I decide to build a recipe around it. Sometimes I get ideas from café or restaurant menus from half way across the globe (thanks to Internet snopping) and I make an Honest Project version. Some of my favourite recipes have just come from me having very little ingredients in the kitchen and having to be creative with what I do have. I usually make the recipe a couple of times before it makes it to the blog. Also in the Winter time as day light hours are minimal, I have to make sure to make it early in the day so I have time to photograph it in natural light.
Which 5 ingredients will one find in your pantry?
I have so many ingredients in my pantry, it’s hard to narrow it down to five essentials. I always have olive oil (both extra virgin and olive oil). I love oats, they are so versatile and I use them all the time. I love avocados and literally have to stop myself eating them on repeat all day long. I eat a lot of nuts, especially almonds and cashew nuts and always have a supply in my handbag in case the dreaded hunger strikes. Lastly, I always have leafy greens for juicing, smoothies, salads and adding to stews and curries.
Do you have an all time favorite recipe you keep coming back to?
I have many. I adore chia seed puddings as I think they are the perfect blank canvas on which to experiment with flavour. They are also so handy to make in advance and just grab out of the fridge each morning. I also love chocolate brownies and I’m currently making a dark chocolate version with an almond butter swirl. It’s so good with a cup of tea or coffee. (Ed note* I can’t wait to read and cook that recipe as I’m always looking for the best brownie recipe!)
Tell us something about the recipe you are sharing today! Why this particular recipe?
Today’s recipe is for Coconut Chia Pudding with Berries & Passion Fruit. Most of the time when I eat chia pudding for breakfast I skip adding any sweetener bar fruit. But for this recipe I add coconut sugar, so it’s really more suitable for dessert than breakfast. Let’s be honest, chia seeds don’t really taste like anything at all. But paired with a delicious sweet nut milk and fresh berries, there are transformed into a delicious breakfast or in this case dessert. For this recipe I combine the coconut flavour of the chia pudding with passion fruit and berries. The great thing about this recipe is that it can be prepped in advance.
Coconut Chia Pudding with Berries & Passion Fruit
5 cups of coconut milk
3-5 tbsp of coconut sugar (depending on your sweet tooth).
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole chia seeds
1 cup frozen berries
3 passion fruit
A few sprigs fresh mint
1 tbsp coconut flakes
Heat the coconut milk in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the vanilla extract and coconut sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat.
Add the chia seeds to the milk mixture and stir well. Pour the mixture into a large container and place in the fridge for 4 hours to set.
Just before serving, heat the berries in a saucepan over a low heat until they soften.
To serve, divide the chia pudding between six serving glasses. Spoon a tablespoon of berries and their syrup over each. Spoon the flesh of half a passion fruit into each glass. Top with fresh mint and coconut flakes.
Head over to The Honest Project for more great recipes! And if you want to stay in touch and follow her blog on Social Media, you will find her on Facebook Here and on Instagram Here.
Many months ago I posted a chia pudding recipe here and there’s also many, many varieties floating around the internet. Why? One reason may be because it’s a bit trendy. Just like quinoa was a few years ago. And perhaps the other reason is that it is one of these really “handy & portable” foods.
To be honest I don’t make chia puddings on a regular basis, but over the past few weeks I’ve had some serious kitchen and recipe creation inspiration, and this was one of them. (More to follow in the coming weeks as I get time to re test, style and shoot!).
Since I am such a sucker for pretty and colourful foods, when I spotted these gorgeous looking plums, I just had to buy them. A couple where consumed as straight up snacks whereas the rest formed the topping to this lemony chia pudding. However, if you can’t find any plums that look good I think some stewed apples would be equally good too. Might even try that version myself next time, since I’ve been gifted plenty of them!
I have tried a few various liquids to let the chia seeds gel in, but I keep coming back to full fat coconut milk. I just find that it gives the best consistency, compared to other nutmilks. The creaminess reminds me of ris a´la malta, a cooked rice pudding which has then been blended with whipped cream which is usually served cold on Christmas Eve, or as in my family, when I was a child we on Christmas Day. Always made from the leftover rice pudding from the night before.
So… This pudding may get you into the festive spirit (!).
The best thing with this dish / breakfast / snack is that it can be pre-prepared and if you make the chia pudding in a jar then it is easily transportable too.
Lemony Chia Pudding with Stewed Plums
200 ml full fat coconut milk – if you milk is separated you may have to gently heat it first
2 1/2 tbsp chia seeds
juice + zest of 1 lemon
4 small plums, stone removed and quartered
1-2 tbsp maple syrup
Place the coconut milk, chia seeds, lemon juice and lemon zest in a glass jar or in a kilner jar. Mix the seeds and zest into the liquid to make sure that they are evenly distributed. Set a side. You may want to give it another stir after about 10 min, when the seeds have started to expand.
Store the chia pudding in the fridge until ready to eat.
To make the stewed plums; Place the destoned and chopped plums in a small saucepan. Simmer the plums on low heat. Stir on occasion to make sure that they don’t burn. You may need to turn heat down even further.
Keep simmering until the fruit is completely soft and has broken down. This will take about 25-30 min. Add maple syrup to taste. Allow the fruit compote to cool before serving it with the chia pudding.
* My tip is to make the stewed fruit and the chia pudding the night before you intend to eat it. It may take a little forward planning, but once you have that, making this recipe is a breeze. Just stew the fruits at the same time as you are making dinner and assemble the pudding before you go to bed. Then you can get take a few min extra snooze time with clear conscious then next morning…! You can of course serve the fruit compote warm too 🙂
This recipe has sat in the draft section for some time. Turns out posting it now, is good timing still, because it could easily work as a nutritious addition to your menu over the holiday season.
You may have heard of chia puddings by now. You may even be a big fan of them. If you haven’t you are missing out of one of the easiest, nutritious snack/dessert /breakfast ever! I remember a few years ago when these tiny little seeds appeared on the shelves in the health stores and no one had really heard of them, let alone knew what to do with them… These days they are big news! Turns out they are a good source of plant based omega 3 essential fats. They are also high in fibre, potassium, zinc, calcium and phosphorus.
The seeds come from a desert plant, Salvia Hispanica, grown in Mexico and these tiny super seeds apparently featured on the menu of the famous Aztec warriors. In fact the word “Chia” supposedly means strength. When they first appeared this side of the world one of the many marketing claims was how it could help with weight loss. This may be true in some sense, but of course it’s highly unlikely that it would help anyone shed pounds all on its own. Weight loss is a lot more complex than just take one magic substance, unfortunately and the sooner we stop buying in to that concept the better (But that’s a topic for another day…)
I think in those early days, no one really had any clue how to eat them or how to make them taste nice. Thing is they swell a lot in any liquid you leave them in, and when they do, turns out they don’t look all that appetizing… The very first time I tried chia seeds it was a tsp of seeds soaked in plain water, just swallowed down. Not the most exciting thing I’ve ever eaten to be honest. Obviously times has moved on – enter Chia Pudding! I’m not sure who originally came up with the bright idea of serving the little guys this way but let’s just say it’s genius! Their ability to gel makes for a nice consistency and when you eat them in this way they can actually help with constipation rather than hinder it.
I have tried lots of different types of chia puddings at this stage but using a good quality full fat coconut milk is by far my favourite. It even reminds me a little of the Christmas dessert we have back home, rice pudding, well actually more like the cold version of rice pudding; Ris á la Malta.
Here you have a slightly healthier version made with just two ingredients: Chia Seeds and Coconut Milk. I’ve chosen to top this pudding with some winter spiced berries. Here I used the blackberries we picked back in the autumn. Grateful for the abundance back then and for the freezer now! If you, like me, live in the Northern Hemisphere where berries are not in season, then use frozen ones. I’d imagine blackcurrants or blueberries could work to. And if you live some where were it’s berry season, well then make the most of it and use fresh ones!
Coconut Chia Pudding – With Winter Spiced Berries
For the chia pudding:
200 ml full fat coconut milk – organic if possible
2 tbsp chia seeds (whole seeds)
For the berry compote:
1 cup blackberries – fresh or frozen
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
1-2 star anise (depending on size of the star)
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
To make the pudding; mix coconut milk and chia seeds together in a small bowl. Make sure it is well mixed together and stir a few more times over the next five min, to remove any lumps, as the seeds start to absorb the liquid. Then move to the fridge and let it set over a few hours.
To make the berry compote; place the frozen (or fresh) berries in a small sauce pan. Add in maple syrup, ground cinnamon. Gently toss the berries in the maple syrup and spices until evenly coated. Add in the star anise. Bring it slowly to a simmer and let it simmer away for about 10 min until fruit is soft and the compote is fragrant.
Serve the chia pudding in small bowls with topped with the warm spiced berry compote.
N.B This dessert (or even breakfast!) is very filling and not very sweet. You can omit the maple syrup if you are looking for an even lower carbohydrate load.
P.S. I hope you don’t mind me throwing in a picture from the beautiful autumn we had. Worth a reminder of brighter days to come as the longest day of the year fast approaches.