A Summer Saved by Chia Pudding …

“I love the dark hours of my being in which my senses drop into the deep. I have found in them, as in old letters, my private life that is already lived through, and become wide and powerful now, like legends. Then I know that there is room for me for a second huge and timeless life. ” — Rilke

Hi, Darlings!!!  Things have been awfully quiet here in the kitchen, haven’t they!?  … This was not quite the summer I anticipated.  But then, it seems often when plans go awry is when the most important things happen, no?  The summer began with a lovely memorial for my Mother in Maine … followed quickly by a little bit of unexpected heartbreak on my return west.  Nothing like a breakup to shake up summer plans.  And in this case it felt like the catalyst for what became a slow, melting sinking deep into my Self.  From a Chinese medicine perspective, this had to happen sooner or later or I would have gotten myself into trouble.  Yang (the outward, upward, active, doing, manifesting, light-filled energy) has to be balanced by Yin (the quiet, inward, still, peaceful, nourishing energy) or eventually, emotional and even physical symptoms develop.  Life had been pretty Yang for quite a while.  I needed to slip into the Yin for some deep rest.

So, with a bit of time away from classes … I did.  It wasn’t a choice really.  There are times when I know I have to heed my internal wisdom or risk consequences — which could come in the form of something as simple as a rash or a cold … or a bit worse as menstrual irregularities or pain in a joint … and I know it could progress to worse if I don’t pay attention.  So I holed up in my little apartment and slept, read, stared at the changing patterns of light on the wall, took baths … and slept more.

Given space and time, freedom and support, the body will always move in a healing direction.  But it’s not always easy to create lives that allow this process … keep trying …

It was hard to get motivated to cook anything.  And it was hot.  And all I really wanted to eat was ice cream.  Clearly this part of things was a recipe for disaster.  While I cannot honestly say disaster was fully averted, it was mitigated.  I did start running again under cover of darkness as the pavement cooled off — running honestly makes me much happier than ice cream ever has!  Laura, a terrific neighborhood personal trainer taught me exercises to build muscle and get stronger — more about this in another post.  And I received a LOT of inspiration from some of my amazing patients, who are making big, healthy changes in their own eating.  One of the tips I’ve been sharing with them is my new love for chia pudding.

Tiny chia seeds were used as power foods by indigenous people of Mexico long before marketing departments here got ahold of them.  With their high level of Omega 3 fatty acids, protein and fiber, they’re amazing little wonders — with the very cool property of turning any liquid into a gel.  The possibilities are endless, and I think I must have explored dozens this summer.  Here’s a basic favorite that I’ll be stocking my fridge with throughout the school year.  It takes seconds to make and will also last in the fridge for a fews days so you can make a bunch ahead of time.  And it’s a grrrrrreat snack for kids!

Never underestimate the power of a bathtub for healing the soul — and body.  It’s one of my favorite prescriptions.

Last week a friend gave me a present of a case of mason jars.  Such a simple, perfect gift and just the one I needed as the conclusion of this summer approaches — to remind me that the time for moving back into creativity, back into activity, life, and the world, has arrived.  I now also have enough jars with lids to prep things ahead of time for school.  Yay!!  The recipe here is for basic vanilla pudding with additions that give it a texture closer to a raw, grain-free oatmeal, which I like for breakfast.  You can also make it plain,  which is lovely and simple.  I you don’t like the texture of the whole seeds — somewhat like tapioca — you can grind them in a coffee grinder.  Kim, one of the terrific medical assistants at my office, was excited to make this pudding but unprepared for the texture!  It made me realize I should mention that a smoother texture is an option — but don’t grind til right before making.  The seeds’ healthy Omega 3 oils oxidize rapidly.

Today is a good day … to make a new start.  Try just one small new thing … maybe a chia seed!

Plain Jane Vanilla Chia Pudding … with additions …

  • One pint mason jar (I like the wide mouth kind, but any jar will do.)
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds (you can also skip these and just use chia — I like both, but it makes for a mealier texture)
  • pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg if you so desire
  • 1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 scoop sugar-free vanilla whey protein powder (preferably from grass-fed cows)
  • 1/2 cup berries
  • unsweetened almond/coconut/rice/cow milk (whatever you like!) to fill jar
  • a few tablespoons full-fat coconut milk (optional if you want a more rich, creamy texture or a higher fat content on a ketogenic/paleo diet)
  • handful of sliced almonds or any other chopped nuts or seeds for garnish
I like BioChem or Tera’s Whey brand protein powders, but there are other good ones too.  Look for one sweetened only with stevia.  You can also make a yummy vegan version with coconut milk powder.

Make sure jar is dry and scoop in chia & flax seeds, protein powder, any spices you’re using, and coconut.  With a dry spoon, mix them together.  Now add the berries, and mix again.  Now fill the jar with milk to just below the bottom of the jar threads.  (You need to leave room for mixing.)  Now cap the jar tightly and shake well.  If you can still see lumps — and you probably will — take the cap off, and gently mix more with a spoon to get the lumps mostly out.  Now simply put the covered jar in the fridge overnight.

My fridge is now comfortingly full of these jars!

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