Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bad Numbers & Chia Seeds

A few weeks ago, I returned from my doctor, where he exclaimed, "What happened? Your sugars are through the roof!" I was stunned, but I don't know why I should have been. Since Thanksgiving, I haven't been eating healthy and, soon after Christmas, I took a 3-week vacation and ate my way from Florida to Maine!  I had gained 8 pounds.  I looked my doctor in the eye and told the truth. I didn't make excuses, admitted I'd been off my food plan for several months and hadn't been testing regularly, so I had no clue what my BG trends had been.  He gave me three months to get my A1C below 7 again, or he highly recommends that I go back on insulin.  I was devastated.  I went home, felt sorry for myself for having this horrible disease for the 100th+ time and, yes, I cried. 

Then I made a confession to myself: Perfectionist though I am, I am only human and, just like everyone else that struggles with diabetes, I make mistakes.  It took me a few days, but I have forgiven myself, I've begun to eat healthy consistently and have even begun to regain some enthusiasm for vegetables again.  My progress is slow, but I'm on track with my food plan again and some weight has been lost.  I hope my BG numbers will begin to go down but, so far, they remain high.

Now, what are Chia Seeds?  They are the tiny, edible "Chia Pet" seeds that are incredibly high in fiber, low in carbs, a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids, high in calcium and protein and help me to feel full longer and may aid in my weight loss!  I learned about them from a program I watched on Netflix called, "Hungry for Change."  (BTW, if you can watch this highly motivational documentary yourself, please do!  Try Netflix or check out the DVD from your local library.)  Since learning about this product, I purchased some Chia Seeds from Whole Foods and have begun experimenting.  Today I made two types of Chia Seed pudding using unsweetened Light Coconut Milk as a base and, although they're a bit different looking than traditional pudding, both are delicious!  The chia seeds act as the thickener, so no egg, cornstarch or other thickening ingredient is needed.  Also, both recipes are quick and easy to make because no cooking is necessary!  The pudding thickens and gels in about 30-40 minutes, but letting the mixture sit for about 4 hours or overnight allows the seeds soften and resemble tapioca pudding in texture.  Chia seeds come in black or white varieties.  Both have the same nutritional properties, so choose whatever you can find.  (They are pretty easy to find these days, I even understand WalMart carries them in some stores.  Check the grocery or natural food store in your area.)  Also, Chia Seeds can be tossed on salads, added to yogurt, soups or stews, smoothies and even baked in breads or other baked desserts!  They have no flavor of their own, but take on the flavors of the other ingredients in the recipe.  Note: They do thicken whatever liquid food or drink they are added to, so if you don't want that to happen, create a "chia gel" first by mixing 1/4 cup water and 1 TB. chia seeds.  Allow the mixture to sit for at least 30 minutes (stirring once or twice) or overnight.  If you add the already thickened and jellied chia seeds to liquids, the thickening effect will be greatly reduced or eliminated.

There are a lot of recipes out there, so experiment and enjoy the benefits!

Coconut Chia Seed Pudding
(Makes 3 servings)

1 cup light, unsweetened Coconut Milk
2 teaspoons Agave Nectar
2-3 teaspoons Splenda Granular (or to taste)
2 Tablespoons chia seeds
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix together the coconut milk, agave nectar, and Splenda and stir together. (I use a combination of agave nectar and Splenda to reduce the carbs, but use any sweetener of your choice, keeping in mind it may change the nutritional information per serving.)  Add the chia seeds and vanilla extract and stir.  Allow to sit for about 15-20 minutes and stir again (so seeds don't settle on the bottom).  Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.  Stir before serving.

Nutritional Information per serving (without added toppings): 122 calories, 14.6 g carbohydrate, 7.8 g total fat, 4.3 g saturated fat, 0 trans fat, 0 cholesterol, 17 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 4.7 g sugars, 73.4 mg calcium, 3 g protein.

Chocolate Coconut Chia Seed Pudding
(Makes 3 servings)

Add 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder to the liquid ingredients in above recipe.  Heat the coconut milk just until the cocoa powder mixes thoroughly.  Add the sweeteners.  Add 2 Tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon chia seeds to mixture.  Add 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract and stir.  Allow to sit for about 15-20 minutes and stir again (so seeds don't settle on the bottom). Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Stir before serving.

Nutritional Information per serving (without added toppings): 135 calories, 11.4 g carbohydrate, 8.6 g total fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 0 trans fat, 0 cholesterol, 18 mg sodium, 5.2 g fiber, 4.8 g sugars, 86.7 mg calcium, 3.7 g protein.

Recipes by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2013.

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