Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

At the beginning of the summer I took my first plunge into the world of chia seeds. Before that, I had only ever heard of them in reference to chia pets. I never realized that they were something you could eat. After putting chia seeds in my green juice, I kind of threw them by the wayside. They sat in my cupboard going forgotten. Until this past weekend. I was talking with a close family friend and she told me about a chia seed pudding recipe that she swears by. ingredients

pudding ingredients

The nice thing about this recipe is that there is little work involved, yet it yields at least 3-4 days of breakfast. It is also an incredibly healthy recipe with chia seeds, nonfat Greek yogurt, and agave nectar. You don't have to feel too guilty about eating this pudding.

vanillachia

A great addition to this recipe is to add fresh fruit and sliced almonds on top of the pudding. It is perfect for a quick breakfast before a busy day at work.

chiaseedpudding

After taking the above picture, and trying to edit out the insane white-out, I have realized how badly I need a diffuser panel. Looks like my photography equipment collection will be growing very shortly.

I hope you all get the chance to try this recipe, and if you do, please let me know your thoughts!

Vanilla Chia Pudding

Ingredients: 1 cup fat-free or low-fat plain Greek yogurt 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk 1/4 cup chia seeds 2 tablespoons agave syrup 1 teaspoon vanilla extract pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Mix ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Let sit on counter, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes.
  3. Refrigerate.
  4. Top with fresh fruit and almonds, serve!

Baked Parmesan Zucchini

Okay, so let's chat for one second. When I started this blog, back in the spring of 2012, it was because I was bored and wanted to find something to do with my free time. I liked cooking, eating was a clear favorite, and writing was something that I knew I enjoyed. (Whether or not I believed in my writing abilities is a completely different topic.) Out of this, SMAK was born. Over the past two years I have at times gotten lazy and went weeks without posting a single new entry. Other times I became incredibly motivated and wrote consistently for weeks on end. I've gone through various styles of photography - staged with a photography tent, iPhone pictures turned Polaroid and retro, and natural and organic. But what I've seen throughout these past few years is a consistent love of what I am doing. WordPress allows me to see that stats of my blog - some days I only have 15 views, other days I have 259. Sure, I would love to see a huge boost in viewership. It'd be a dream to gain sponsorship, do food testings and recipe development. But right now? I am okay where I am at, as long as I am putting a smile on one person's face. As long as one person finds a new recipe to try in any given day, I view that as a success. So as long as you will still put up with me, SMAK will still be there for your enjoyment.

With that said, today's recipe...

guestchef

I was lucky enough to have my beautiful niece join me as sous chef!

zucchini

toppings

parmesan

I would suggest adding a little more parmesan to allow for more of the browning atop the zucchini. Plus, you can never have too much cheese.

bakedparmesanzucchini

This recipe is really quite simple and fairly quick to pull together. I can't say that this would replace chips or cookies every day (although maybe it should), but it's a great healthy snack or hors d'oeuvre.

Baked Parmesan Zucchini

Ingredients:

4 zucchini, halves and quartered lengthwise 1/2 cup grated Parmesan 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 1/2 teaspoon drive oregano 1/2 teaspoon dried basil 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a cooking rack with nonstick spray and place on a baking sheet; set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine Parmesan, thyme, oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  3. Place zucchini onto prepared baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan mixture.
  4. Place into oven and bake until tender, about 15 minutes.
  5. The broil 2-3 minutes, or until crisp and edges being to brown.
  6. Serve immediately.

Greek Yogurt vs. Regular Yogurt

Are we all about to hop on another health-food bandwagon?

greekvsregularyogurt

To begin with, let's get one thing straight: both Greek and regular yogurts, in their plain non-fat (or low-fat) forms can be a great addition to any healthy balanced diet. Both are undoubtedly low in calories and have tons of calcium and live bacterial cultures. However...at the end of the day, Greek yogurt reins victorious.

Here are a few important nutritional comparisons between Greek and regular yogurts:

Protein: A typical 6-ounce serving of Greek yogurt packs a whopping 15 to 20 grams of protein, compared to a measly 9 grams in regular yogurt. This doesn't even compare. This fact could be especially appealing to vegetarians who need to find alternate sources of protein, instead of beef, poultry or fish. The added protein also makes you feel fuller, helping prevent overeating.

Carbohydrates: Having a diabetic mother who counts carbs, I know that you are constantly looking at the nutritional facts to see where you are at. In comparison to regular yogurt, Greek yogurt has almost half the amount of carbohydrates. Keep in mind though, if there is added flavoring or sugar, you will in return have added carbohydrates.

Fat: This is where we all need to be wary. Full-fat Greek yogurt can have 16 grams of saturated fat. If you were on a 2,000 calories daily diet, this would count for over 60% of your daily intake of saturated fat. If you choose to go the Greek route, be sure to get the nonfat or low-fat option.

Sodium: A serving of Greek yogurt has about only half the amount of sodium as regular yogurt. Too much sodium can increase blood pressure and the risk of other heart problems.

Calcium: Regular yogurt will provide you with about 30% of your daily intake of calcium while Greek yogurt will only bring in about 20%. As said before, Greek yogurt goes through a strenuous straining process which results in the loss of some calcium.

What I love most about Greek yogurt is its versatility. Mix it with herbs for a great vegetable dip. Or throw in fresh fruit, granola and agave nectar for the perfect breakfast to start your day.

While facts add up in Greek yogurt's favor, it is undeniable that both yogurts, if consumed properly, can help keep you full on fewer calories and can help you lose weight. The key? Stick with the nonfat or low-fat versions.

How to Grill Asparagus

How is it that after an amazing weekend you need another weekend to recover? It's been so great but my exhaustion level is through the roof. Can't we just have 4 days weekends every weekend? I always say that more time during the day would be nice, but perhaps I just need to get better at time management - work, blog, social life, chores. It is all doable, it is just a matter of how and when I make time to do said things.

asparagus

Grilling during the summer, throughout the entire year for that matter, is an absolute must. In my opinion, there is nothing better than enjoying a steak or fresh vegetables cooked over the grill. In the summer, it just so happens that we are able to make an event out of it, inviting friends over for some beer and conversation. One of my favorite vegetables on the grill is asparagus.

grill topper

There are a number of ways to cook asparagus - roasting, sautéing, blanching, boiling. But I've found grilling gives the vegetable just a hint of a charred flavor without sacrificing that flavors of the asparagus. I use a grill topper, seen in the picture above, to help prevent the asparagus from falling through the grates.

asparagus_2

What's your take on grilled vegetables? Any favorites?

Grilled Asparagus

Ingredients:

bunch of asparagus olive oil sea salt freshly ground black pepper

Instructions: 

  1. Place asparagus in gallon sized bag and coat with olive oil, sea salt and ground pepper. Allow asparagus to sit for 20 minutes.
  2. Spread asparagus on grill topper over high heat. Cook for 6-8 minutes, flipping once or twice during this time, or until desired tenderness is achieved. Asparagus will start browning in some spots but should not be allowed to fully char.
  3. Removed from grill and serve.

Quinoa Salad

Dare I say it? Is summer officially here? With Memorial Day come and gone, I think it would be fair to say that spring is in the past and we are now on our way to beaches, tank tops, farmers markets and Summer Shandy! This past weekend held a few firsts for the season....first trip to the farmers market, first time playing bags in the backyard, first time wearing shorts (excluding while at the gym), and first time making this quinoa salad! A friend introduced this recipe to me a while back and it quickly became a favorite summer go-to. The fresh flavors, healthy ingredients, and deliciousness make it the perfect addition to any summer menu.

Quinoa Salad

As we move forward into the summer I am excited to announce that our breadth of content will be expanding! Since SMAK first began, I have tended to stick to the basics...stories and recipes. While this has been great, I have come to realize that there is so much more that I could write about that I have been steering clear of...cooking tips, restaurants, bars, cooking shows! 

"food isn't just something you eat - it's a lifestyle, an experience. come along on a journey as we talk a little culinary SMAK!"

SMAK's homepage says it all, yet I have missed so much! So from this point on, expect some of the same, recipes, stories, but expect the unexpected! New restaurants and bars opening in the city? You've got it! My favorite coffee shop down the street? You've got it! My take on the latest episode of MasterChef? Yup, that will be here too! 

Until next time (which may be sooner than you think)...happy eating! 

Quinoa Salad

Ingredients: 2 cups quinoa 3 bell peppers , chopped 1 red onion, chopped 1 can black beans 1 can corn 1 bunch cilantro, chopped 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered olive oil lime juice salt, to taste cumin, to taste

Ingredients:

  1. Cook quinoa as directed on packaging.
  2. Chop ingredients as directed above. Mix quinoa, peppers, onion, black beans, corn, cilantro and cherry tomatoes in large bowl.
  3. Season with olive oil, lime juice, salt and cumin, to taste.
  4. Refrigerate and serve.

 

spaghetti squash with garden's end sauce

sunday afternoon and what am i doing? well, i just made kale, apple, lemon juice! and now here i am, sitting on my bed listening to music and working on my blog. honestly, i couldn't think of a better way to spend the day! i even have so amazing things planned for after this post is finished...say hello to more writing! i probably should be heathy and go for a run, but i am not so certain that is going to happen. we can only hope. so earlier this week i teased you about playing around with active dry yeast. there is no active dry yeast in this post. so you're just going to have to wait a few more days to see what i was talking about!

here we are, entering my favorite time of the year, fall. i love just about everything about it. however, there is one downfall - no fresh vegetables, fruit or herbs from the garden. once the frost hits, it's donezo! this past week i wanted to find a way to use some of our tomatoes and basil from the garden. i really did not want a summery dish - i very easily could have made a caprese salad. been there done that, go away.

spaghetti squash with garden's end sauceinstead, i went out a bought a spaghetti squash and a few other ingredients and made this amazing pasta alternate! i'm not too sure why someone wouldn't want to eat pasta...whatever floats your boat. but none-the-less, i absolutely loved this meal. it's easy, quick and delicious!

i have a few more posts that i've been working on, so keep your eyes open for more posts coming later in the week!

until next time...happy eating!

spaghetti squash with garden's end sauce

ingredients: 1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 onion, chopped 1 clove garlic, minced 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese 3 tablespoons sliced black olives 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil freshly ground salt and black pepper, to taste

instructions:

  1. preheat oven to 350° f. lightly grease a baking sheet.
  2. place spaghetti squash with cut sides down on the prepared baking sheet, and bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a sharp knife can be inserted with only a little resistance. remove squash from oven and set aside to cool enough to be easily handled.
  3. meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. cook and stir onion in oil until tender. add garlic; cook and stir until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. stir in tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are warmed through.
  4. use a fork to shred the squash and place in a medium bowl. toss with the vegetables, feta cheese, olives, and basil. serve warm.