Sunday, December 26, 2010

Chia Chocolate Pudding

Merry Christmas!

Here we are in Ithaca, NY with Eric Husband's family. I love vacation time with his family because everyone's a great cook and the food is superb. We always have an "Iron Chef" competition with specific ingredients we have to use in our meal. It gets pretty heated, quite viscous, everyone trying to out-do each other. This year the ingredients to incorporate are Cardamom, Potatoes and Fish. Challenging, I know. My night to cook is tonight, so I'll let you know how it goes.

This is the final installment in the Healthy Fixes series, at least for now.

Ok, remember Chia Pets? The set came with chia seeds to plant in grooves on ceramic animals or cartoon characters. When the seeds sprouted, the leafy greens looked like fur or hair.

Now- this blew my mind- not only are chia seeds edible, they are mega nutritious. Not only that, but when stirred into liquid, chia seeds form a gelatinous goop that is super fun to eat. It texture reminds me of...pudding. If you are a texture person in a way that prohibits you from eating things that are slimy or lumpy then maybe skip this recipe. But if you like bubble tea and tapioca then you just may love this.

First, a word about Chia Seeds. Chia seeds can be ground into powder and used as an egg substitute in vegan baking. They're also gluten free. They are high in dietary fiber (42% of the day's requirement!) and Omega-3 fatty acids. They also include antioxidants, vitamins, calcium and protein. Chia seeds stabilize blood sugar and fill you up, giving energy for hours, making them a good diet food. They include good fats, and for 145 calories and 9 grams of fat in 1 oz, there's tons of nutrition to be had.

The recipes:

Chocolate Chia Pudding

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons chia seeds into 1 cup chocolate almond milk, and stir until all the seeds are wet. Place in fridge and let soak at least 2 hours, overnight is good. Stir them occasionally at first to make sure all the seeds are soaking up the milk.

That's all! Eat with a spoon or slurp with a straw.

Vanilla Spiced Chia Pudding

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons chia seeds into 1 cup of milk. Add dash of cinnamon and cardamom, with a squirt of agave nectar or honey. Let soak in the fridge for at least two hours, overnight is good. Stir occasionally at first to hydrate the seeds.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Spiced Whipped Oatmeal

I now present you recipe two from the healthy fixes series. It reminds me of oatmeal pudding. And we know that I'll eat anything that reminds me of pudding.

I was inspired to make whipped oatmeal by the blog Katheats. This girl is a serious oatmeal lover- check out her oatmeal tribute page; it's epic.

The Basic formula is this:
Make oatmeal with thin slices of banana, whisking like crazy during the second half of cooking.

Once you've mastered the (extremely complicated) basic formula*, the dish is highly customizable. You can use any kind of milk you want to prepare the oats and then add extras like spices, nuts, granola, peanut/almond butter, dried fruit, fresh fruit, yogurt or chia seeds.

* Its not extremely complicated, that was a joke.

Now, Why Oatmeal? I'll tell you.

Oatmeal boosts energy without adding a ton of calories and fat. It is a complex carbohydrate, which means you feel full longer and have energy longer than you would if you'd just eaten cake and icecream, or even something like a peach. This means the oat/banana combination packs a one-two punch: Energy spike from the banana, sustained energy compliments of the oatmeal.

Oatmeal contain more soluble fiber than whole wheat, rice and corn. The soluble fiber helps eliminate heart-clogging cholesterol, and reduces the risk of heart disease. Oatmeal also contains goodly amounts of vitamins A, B and E, protein, iron and calcium.

What's more, when you choose oatmeal for your breakfast, you are totally in control of what you put in your mouth. Unlike cereal, the only ingredient in rolled oats are OATS. Stay away from the flavored instant varieties... they're full of sugar and it really doesn't much longer to prepare the real thing.

Here is my super tasty decadent version:


1/2 cup oats
1 cup vanilla silk almond milk
1 medium banana
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t cardamom

There's no sweetener even needed, because the banana and the vanilla almond milk is sweet.

Combine the almond milk and oats in a pot over low heat. Thinly slice the banana into the pot and let the oats warm, stirring occasionally. Once you start seeing some simmering action, get out your whisk and whisk until the banana is dispersed and unrecognizable as banana and the oats are at your desired consistency. Stir in the spices. Mmmm fragrant and spicy. After writing this post, I definitely know what I'm having for lunch today.

If you want to really mix things up, instead of spices, try adding 1/4 cup chocolate chips when the oatmeal is still hot and stirring them in to melt. You could also add a little bit of cocoa powder and a sweetener like agave nectar or honey instead of the chips.

Calories: 340 Fat: 2.5 g Sugar: 30 g

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hooray for healthy fixes!

Do you imagine me as a gargantuan-sized woman who never leaves the house but only bakes, eats and blogs, bakes, eats and blogs? Despite appearances, you mustn't believe that it's all dessert all the time for me. I do have a concept of healthy eating and I confess only to you that I'm more than slightly obsessed with spinach.

image by paramount pictures courtesy getty images

Dear readers, this is a bit of a break in tradition, but I am here today to tell you about health food. What's more, it's health food that still gives you that Fox Fix we've all come to love. Food that feeds your body with essential nutrients but can still satisfy your cravings for SUGAR. And even CHOCOLATE. Because lets be honest, we're all addicted to sugar and chocolate here.

And I'm not talking about pure health food fluff- food that is only a substitute for the junk food. This "fluff" might not be as bad for you as the real thing, but it's not helping you out much either...I'm thinking of my brief foray into the "eating raw" realm, when I'd mix almond butter with agave nectar and cocoa powder and eat it every night with strawberries and pretend I was being healthy. Maybe it was better for me that Nutella, but it shouldn't have replaced real meals.

No, these dishes make great breakfasts or snacks and are even worthy of every-day-eating.

And while we're talking, I'd like to address all you lurkers out there. I know I'm not talking to myself here at The Fox Fix; the blog stats reassure me that I'm not. Some of you are even lurking from far away places like Canada and the Netherlands. Therefore, I'd like to encourage all of you to introduce yourselves- say hi in the comments and we can all have a dialogue; a real repartee if you will. I'd love to know my readers.

And those of you that I already know, please feel free (or even obligated) to comment away :) Thank you.

Because they are full of nutrients and easy to use, I find myself eating bananas and spinach most days. I also eat a lot of oatmeal, and I would like to eat pudding every day, though I do my best to quash that desire. Pudding every day is ridiculous.

And so, inspired by these food items, I bring you three delicious snacks in the next three posts:

First up,


I drink a lot of smoothies because they're easy to mix up with different frozen fruit and juices. I always, always, always throw a large handful of spinach in the blender, too, because you can't taste the addition and spinach is one of the most nutrient dense foods in existence. One (packed) cup contains only 14 calories, and loads of vitamins A and K, as well as magnesium, iron, fiber, calcium, etc. It protects against cancer, heart disease, cataracts and more. With stats like that, why wouldn't you throw it into everything you eat?

Recently, Eric and I have been going ape for Banana Milkshakes, a drink his mom made a lot when he was growing up. It's simply frozen banana blended with milk, and I swear it tastes exactly like a creamy vanilla milkshake. It's truly equal to milkshakes made with ice cream. I crave banana milkshakes, and you will to once you join the club. Bananas are fat free and contain lots of vitamins c and a, potassium and fiber. It is also one of few fruits that contains the entire range of B vitamins. Freeze the bananas in chunks in ziplock freezer bags when they're very ripe for best flavor.

All this to say, I combined the green smoothie and banana milkshake concepts, added a dash of my love for chai lattes, and came up with the GREEN CHAI MILKSHAKE.

Blend until smooth:

1 frozen banana
1/2 cup liquid chai latte mix
1/2 cup skim milk or almond milk
large handful spinach

You may have to adjust the amount of liquid based on how big your banana is. Feel free to skip the chai and double the milk or add other flavorings, even cocoa powder.

According to my calculations, this milkshake has about 200 calories, zero fat and 46 grams sugar (plus loads of nutrients.) If you compare this to a chik-fil-a vanilla milkshake (640 calories, 26 grams fat, 88 grams sugar) you're doing great to stick to the green chai milkshake.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Snickers Pie

Hooray! Another heavenly peanut butter dessert!

I'm feeling in a bit of a baking rut; I'm kind of sick of baking mass quantities of the same old things, kind of sick of getting up early to do it.

I take my job very seriously, and I'm used to receiving praise for it. I love watching customers approach the dessert case with wide eyes, clutching their friend's arm and gasping "look...just look at all that..." I love when they find out I'm the baker and they sigh "I just love your desserts!"

Buuut, recently I heard about some customer complaints, and I have no idea what could have gone wrong. It makes me feel extremely insecure. I'm going in to bake in the morning and I'm actually nervous. I'm an approval suck, it's true. It's funny how one bad comment can wipe out the memory of all the good ones. That's true about everything in life, I suppose.

Anyway, this weekend is the Holiday Market downtown (8th st and Reynolds) from 12-6 and it should be good. Santa will be there and live Christmas trees and FREE chik-fil-a sandwiches. I'll be there with loads of good bread and baked goods like sourdough, ciabatta, rosemary, black olive, mediterranean stuffed loaf, bleu cheese stuffed loaf, cinnamon rolls, brownies, oat fudge bars and more! If you're in the Augusta area, make sure to stop by.

Now, on to this luscious snickers pie, which is a winner guaranteed to improve any bad baking day. There's several steps but they're not hard and the result is phenomenal.

Snickers Pie, Adapted from Martha Steward

Oreo crust:
1 9-in springform pan.
about 2 cups finely ground oreos (a food processor does the job in a jiffy, but you can also crush the cookies in a heavy duty ziplock bag with a blunt object like a rolling pin)
3/4-1 stick melted butter

Caramel Layer:
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream or 1/2 stick butter
1 cup roasted salted peanuts

Peanut Butter Mousse:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 t vanilla
1 cup heavy cream, whipped into medium-stiff peaks

Chocolate Ganache Layer
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream

1. Make the Oreo Crust. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the ground Oreos with the butter and press the mixture onto the bottom and sides of the springform pan. I like to use the side of a measuring cup to do this. Use your fingers if necessary. Bake the crust for 10 minutes so its nice and crispy. Remove from oven and let cool.

2. Make the Caramel. Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and heat it over medium-high heat on the stove. It will take about 10 minutes to turn amber, but watch it carefully, swirling the pan occasionally, because it can burn easily. Remove from heat once a dark amber color and carefully whisk in the 3/4 cup heavy cream. It will bubble and steam and be very hot, so watch your hands. If there are any caramel lumps, reheat the caramel until smooth. Whisk in the sour cream or butter. Transfer to a heat proof bowl and cool, about 45 minutes. Once the caramel is fairly cool, fold in the 1 cup of peanuts. Spread the mixture evenly in the bottom of the oreo crust. Refrigerate while you make the Peanut Butter Mousse.

3. Make the Peanut Butter Mousse. In a stand mixer or with a hand held mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the 1/2 cup powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add the 1 1/4 cup Peanut Butter and the vanilla and beat until smooth.
Whip the 1 cup heavy cream in a clean bowl until medium-stiff peaks form, and then fold 1/3 the whipped cream into the Peanut Butter mixture to lighten it. Fold the rest of the whipped cream into the Peanut Butter in two additions.

4. Spread the Peanut Butter Mousse evenly on top of the caramel layer, taking care that the two don't mix. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

5. Make the Chocolate Ganache. Pour the final 1 cup heavy cream into a microwave safe container and microwave for about 40 seconds, depending on your microwave. You can also heat it on the stop until bubbly around the edges. Dump the 8 oz chocolate into the hot cream (or pour the cream over the chocolate) and let sit for 1 minute to melt. Whisk until smooth. Pour the Chocolate Ganache over the peanut butter mousse and spread evenly.

Refrigerate a final 30-45 minutes and you're done! Slice and enjoy!