Healthy Kids’ Lunches for Back to School

It is hard to fathom that the summer has flown by so fast. All of my grandchildren are headed back to school, from the college-aged grandson who has already returned to the university, to the four younger grandkids who range from 4th to 7th grades.

As I thought about them today and chatted with several of the kids, I decided to dedicate tonight’s blog post to school lunches. The four younger kids take their lunches to school most of the time. I understand why. I join my grandchildren for lunches throughout the school year and I’ve seen what’s offered for lunch. I also see how much food gets dumped into the trash cans.

Healthy eating has become near and dear to my heart. I’d love to see healthier, more colorful foods and more fruit and veggie options offered to growing, active kids. Even if the children in your family are not plant based, here are some great suggestions for upping the nutritional value in school lunches, that children will eat and enjoy.

Healthy Kids’ Lunches for Back to School

1. Apple slices, no sugar/low sugar nut butter, celery sticks, seedless red grapes.

2. Hummus, gluten free crackers, fresh strawberries and blueberries.

3. Gluten free pasta with black olives, carrots sticks, and strawberries (from Fork & Beans)

Healthy Kids’ Lunches for Back to School

Healthy Kids Lunches for Back to School

4. Silly face wraps – hummus and fresh veggies in a gluten free wrap. (from Fork & Beans)

5. Fresh fruit salad – mix of bananas, grapes, and orange slices – on lettuce bed, gluten free crackers, 3 ingredient chocolate cookie. (See recipe HERE)

6. Mixed fruit, plant power bar, celery sticks with nut butter and raisins, veggie sticks with hummus. (22 Days Nutrition)

Healthy Kids Lunches for Back to School

Healthy Kids Lunches for Back to School

7. Hummus, celery & carrot sticks, tangerine & dried blueberries, nut butter & banana roll ups, dark chocolate chips sweetened with stevia. (from Veggies Don’t Bite)

8. Sprouts, apple sliced, dates, gluten free crackers

9. Meal in a bowl – this can combine rice or quinoa with favorite veggies – red grapes.

Healthy Kids Lunches for Back to School This veggie bowl contains fresh greens, chickpeas and cooked sweet potato chunks.

You don’t have to pack totally plant based meals for the kids, every school day. However, try including favorite fruits, cups of unsweetened applesauce, dried fruit, or nuts in place of sugary treats, as a start. And you might just be surprised at how adaptable kids are. Get them involved in coming up with lunch ideas and helping to create and pack their lunch boxes.

My grandkids and the other grands in my extended family are observant and curious about my plant based diet. They ask questions. They try new things. They are open to eating more fruits and veggies and a couple of them gravitate naturally toward a plant based diet.

The benefits of eating more fresh whole foods will extend far beyond these kids’ school days. Better health, as young adults and beyond, begins now.

Healthy Kids Lunches for Back to School

Celebrating Two Years on a Plant Based Lifestyle

This post falls under the category of Health Story, and it will serve double duty, as I will share this post on the Journey With Healthy Me blog as well. Two years ago this month, I embarked on a healing journey that has completely transformed my life. Here is a recap on the healing that occurred during year one, and an update with the continued healing that has taken place in the last 12 months.

Celebrating Two Years on a Plant Based Lifestyle

My healing journey began with a desperate prayer for help. After suffering with chronic sciatica and pain in my legs for 20 years, after a car accident, my left leg deteriorated, requiring me to walk with a cane. The pain and the tightness in leg joints and muscles continued to worsen. I struggled to walk at all, or sleep, or even straighten out my legs. A wheelchair seemed inevitable.

I asked the Divine for help and help arrived the next day, via an article by Anthony William, the Medical Medium. He wrote that a traumatic incident, such as a car accident, could create injuries that do not heal and chronic pain. His words described me and my condition. Thankfully, he offered hope. I ordered Anthony’s books, and immediately began a 28 day healing cleanse, eating raw fruits and vegetables. I saw such remarkable improvements after 28 days that I adopted a plant based lifestyle and never looked back.

Celebrating Two Years on a Plant Based Lifestyle

I avoided meat, eggs, dairy, sugar, gluten, soy, corn (unless non GMO) and canola oil. And I ate fruits, vegetables, brown rice, legumes, nuts and seeds. The problem, I discovered from Anthony, was that the viruses I had in my body…some since childhood…were wreaking havoc. The shingles virus was the culprit that attacked my sciatic nerves. Epstein Barr and strep had infected my liver and thyroid, and other organs and body systems. My action plan was two fold: eliminate the viruses by avoiding the foods that feed them and support my immune system with healthy, wholesome food.

It worked. In the first year I experienced healing of these symptoms/disorders:

sciatica • inflammation in legs & body • pain in legs • high blood pressure • irritable bowel syndrome • sensitive gut • severe acid reflux • indigestion • rashes & hives • tinnitus • gall bladder inflammation • headaches • sinus problems • seasonal allergies • joint pain • nerve pain • insomnia • heart palpitations

I also dropped excess weight.

Celebrating Two Years on a Plant Based Lifestyle

Celebrating Two Years on a Plant Based Lifestyle

With such amazing changes in my health, I chose to remain plant based. Returning to my old way of eating would mean a return to my old way of feeling unwell. I’m not willing to sacrifice my health, ever again.

My mainstays this past year, as my healing journey continues, are celery juice first thing in the morning, followed by a fruit smoothie. At least 3-5 times a week, that breakfast smoothie is a heavy metals detox blend of wild blueberries, bananas, Hawaiian spirulina, cilantro, Atlantic dulse, chaga mushroom powder, barley grass juice powder, aloe vera gel and hemp seeds. I eat fruits and veggies, and add brown rice, legumes, nuts and seeds to round out my diet. I sip on lemon or lime water, ginger water, juices and herbal teas throughout each day.

My meals are simple, beautiful, and full of health boosting nutrients. I rarely eat out, preferring to prepare meals at home. A desire that I expressed, to cook more, is being fulfilled with this lifestyle.

Celebrating Two Years on a Plant Based Lifestyle Roasted sweet potatoes and potatoes with garlic Brussel Sprouts.

In the past 12 months, my health has continued to improve. I’ve experienced healing of these symptoms/disorders:

frozen sacroiliac joint • floaters in both eyes • discoloration on fingernails and toenails • ocular migraines • chronic dehydration • menopause symptoms such as flushing, night sweats, hot flashes • fluid on left knee • mouth sores • tingling and numbness in feet and hands • restless legs syndrome • overactive thyroid • toxic liver • neck pain and stiffness greatly reduced (my neck vertebrae are so messed up from the car accident that X-rays freak out doctors…but my neck doesn’t hurt like it once did)

Celebrating Two Years on a Plant Based Lifestyle

My skin is clear and healthy. My hair texture has improved, and although it’s hard to tell in photos, as my silver hair reflects more light, I swear my hair is darkening up. I have more dark strands of hairs growing in, than I did a year ago. My legs feel so incredibly good that they amaze me every day. I continue to see improvements in flexibility and strength in both legs. I am energetic, have mental clarity and operate at a high vibrational frequency.

I’ve come to understand how marvelously and wonderfully made my body truly is. It is a finely tuned sensor, that lets me know if I need the nutrients in a certain food, or if I accidentally ingest something I shouldn’t. I trust my body. I listen to it. I respect it. I nourish it and care for it like I never have before. And I’m mindful of what I put on my skin and in my home. I’ve been eliminating chemicals and toxins by switching to natural cleaning, laundry and bath products.

To celebrate my two year anniversary, I climbed into my favorite tree…the redbud in my front yard, something I couldn’t do two years ago. This tree survived the Joplin tornado in 2011, when thousands of trees perished. My redbud twisted and lost branches and now bears scars…but its deep roots held. The redbud tree is symbolic of my own experience. I’ve survived my own storm, one that lasted many years. I twisted, parts of me broke, and I bear scars as well, however, I am strong and determined, and healing continues.

This exciting journey is ongoing with health and wellbeing my priorities. It’s onward and upward from here.

Celebrating Two Years on a Plant Based Lifestyle

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The Power of Community

When I began my plant based journey almost two years ago, I entered into unfamiliar territory, alone. I had the books of Anthony William to guide me as I made changes. And soon Greg and my mom joined me by shifting their diets as well. We were a tiny band of plant based eaters.

The Power of Community

Dr. Mark Hyman wrote, “The power of community to create health is far greater than any physician, clinic or hospital.”

I’ve learned these past 23 months just how crucial it is to be surrounded by a group of like minded people, who are headed in the same general direction. I’ve found an amazing online health-minded community, on Instagram. We encourage each other every day, posting photos of our glasses of celery juice and the latest healthy recipe we’ve tried. We ask each other questions and reach out for help if the day is rough. I greatly value the input of each person and make sure I communicate frequently with as many people as I can. Although we are scattered around the world, we have figuratively locked arms and we are walking each other home.

The Power of Community

I thought that online health community might be the only one I could find. How beautiful it has been to be led to others in the Joplin area who are on a similar journey.

I met Robin Jeep several months ago, when she invited me to join a group of people and watch the documentary Eating You Alive at the local movie theater. I was excited about the invitation. I wanted to see the film, but I was even more excited to connect with others in my area who have embraced a plant based lifestyle. It turned out I knew several people who attended the documentary that night.

Robin, who is a plant based chef and founder of the Vibrant Living Society, has been great to offer classes, educating people on the difference a change in diet can make in improving health. This evening she hosted a plant based potluck dinner. Everyone contributed to the meal. I cut up a watermelon, one of my favorite summertime meals, and shared it. Robin demonstrated making a plant based lasagna that we sampled. It was delicious!

We had planned to watch the film Forks Over Knives together. That didn’t happen tonight. Instead, we got to know each other. Some in the room have been plant based for several years or more. Some switched two months ago. Two have completed three weeks so far, eating more fruits and veggies. And some have not yet made the full commitment, but they are curious and open.

And we shared stories. They ranged from wanting to heal to in the process of healing to full healing. I appreciated the earnestness and sincerity of everyone there. I held those who are just beginning their healing journeys, or who stand on the edge of taking that leap, with great compassion. And I applauded, literally, those who have turned their lives around.

I look forward to being part of this growing, healing, questing community, in my own hometown. We are strengthening each other.

The Power of Community

National Tea Day 2018

Today celebrates a tradition that I dearly love. Afternoon tea has been a regular part of my day since my first trip to Scotland in 2014. I cherish this pause to savor a cup of tea and relax. It allows me to center myself and reflect on the day, before thinking about dinner prep and evening activities.

My afternoon teas used to feature a variety of Scottish or black teas and the typical fare: finger sandwiches, sweet treats and a Scottish shortbread cookie. None of those foods are part of my diet now. Tea time usually includes an herbal tea or a Scottish heather or thistle blend and fresh fruits and veggies.

In honor of this special day, I tried out a new recipe for a healthy treat, with a surprising ingredient.

National Tea Day 2018

I found this recipe, from Joyfully Healthy Eats, on Pinterest. It is egg, dairy and gluten free.

National Tea Day 2018

Who would have guessed chickpeas could be so versatile and the base for a dough? Instead of rubbing the chickpeas with a paper towel, I picked them up and squeezed lightly, popping them into the strainer. This action left the skins behind. It only took a few minutes and my dough was smooth and creamy. I became proficient at using both hands to pop out the chickpeas simultaneously.

National Tea Day 2018

National Tea Day 2018

I used all organic ingredients and a peanut butter without added sugar. The chips were 70% cacao. Before combining the ingredients in the blender I started a cup of tea steeping. I used dried rose hips for today’s celebratory drink.

The vitamin C in rose hips is the most bioavailable form in existence. Rose hips are anti-inflammatory, increases the blood’s white count and boosts the immune system. They also dissolve biofilm, a jelly like substance caused by the Epstein Barr virus. This biofilm can gunk up vital organs, including the heart, causing palpitations, tachycardia, atrial fibrillation and arrhythmia. Plus, rose hips help to alleviate all types of infections. On this chilly, rainy Saturday, rose hips tea sounded perfect.

National Tea Day 2018

As the herbal tea steeped, I completed the vegan cookie dough and sliced up fresh organic strawberries. I was ready for tea time, in honor of National Tea Day.

National Tea Day 2018

The Chickpeas Cookie Dough was amazing. It wasn’t too sweet, which is ideal for me. I don’t care for sweets anymore. The texture was smooth and creamy and I couldn’t taste the chickpeas at all. The tart strawberries created a wonderful contrast to the dough.

I enjoyed this special tea time this afternoon. I will fix the Chickpeas Cookie Dough again, although it will be an infrequent treat. I prefer to stick with whole foods primarily.

Catherine Douzel says, “Each cup of tea represents an imaginary journey.”

I love that. Where shall I journey to today?

National Tea Day 2018

Chef Robin’s Kitchen Nutrition

Last Thursday, when I attended a documentary at the theater about the health benefits of a plant based lifestyle, I learned about another wonderful opportunity. At the theater I met Chef Robin Jeep for the first time. It’s always fun to meet Facebook friends in person and as we chatted, she mentioned she was presenting a lunch and learn at noon today. Included in this free event was a plant based meal, provided by Suzanne, at Suzanne’s Natural Foods on 32nd Street in Joplin. I enjoyed attending the seminar, accompanied by my friend Georgia.

Chef Robin’s Kitchen Nutrition

Robin is a plant based chef, teacher, and the author of The Super Antioxidant Diet & Nutrition Guide. She trained and collaborated with internationally known physician Joel Fuhrman, MD, and she has taught evidence based culinary nutrition across the US. Robin currently lives in the Joplin area.

Georgia and I joined 30 – 35 people at Suzanne’s for the lunch and learn. As we enjoyed a beautifully prepared and nutritious plant based lunch, Robin shared about nutrition. She covered a variety of diets that are trendy but not optimal, health wise. She then explained the benefits of a nutrient rich whole food plant based lifestyle.

Chef Robin’s Kitchen Nutrition Look at that gorgeous food, prepared without meat, dairy, eggs, sugar or oils.

Robin is very knowledgeable about nutrition. Plant based is a lifestyle she has embraced for many years. Her teachings are sincere, honest and evidence based. And as a chef she has marvelous experience preparing healthy and satisfying meals. I appreciated all that she shared and offered from her vast wisdom.

I have appreciated too discovering that there is a group of people, here in my area, practicing the plant based lifestyle. It is extremely encouraging and supportive to journey with like minded people who get what you are doing, and why. I look forward to more gatherings where we can discuss nutrition and learn and grow in our knowledge, all while becoming the healthiest versions of ourselves.

Robin is creating those opportunities to get together. For the next six weeks, beginning Saturday April 14, she is leading a whole food plant based class series, covering a broad range of topics. Each session includes a healthy plant based meal and a cooking demonstration. Classes are $28 each or the entire series can be prepaid for $138. A workbook is included.

I am thrilled that more and more people are becoming aware of the vital connection between good health and good food. Health and well being are our most valuable assets. It is exciting to see people taking charge of their health and making powerful decisions that have a far reaching impact on their lives.

Learn more about Chef Robin Jeep by visiting her website HERE. You can also find her on Facebook at Chef Robin’s Vibrant Living Society.

Chef Robin’s Kitchen Nutrition

Documentary Review: Eating You Alive

This is a late night post. I just returned from the movie theater, where instead of watching a film, I had the opportunity to watch a documentary that is very relevant to my life. And not only that, I met up with a group of people who are making changes in their diets and reaping the benefits. It was wonderful to watch Eating You Alive with like hearted, like minded, free spirited souls who are making differences in their lives and the lives of others.

Documentary Review: Eating You Alive

Eating You Alive features a host of plant based physicians, vegan chefs, celebrities who have embraced this lifestyle and people who have healed from a variety of diseases and disorders, after changing their eating habits. Directed by Paul David Kennamer Jr, Eating You Alive has a run time of 2 hours and 2 minutes.

This documentary explores how the standard American diet is creating and contributing to the diseases and disorders that we are suffering from, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, autoimmune disorders and cancers. Medical professionals across the US chime in to share their own personal experiences with a plant based diet and offer solid reasons for making changes in eating habits.

Documentary Review: Eating You Alive Magician Penn Jillette, before and after switching to a plant based lifestyle.

Interspersed among the doctor interviews were celebrities such as Penn Jillette, Samuel L. Jackson and James Cameron who shared about healing from disorders, losing weight and experiencing overall improvement of their health and well-being after going plant based. Also included were people who told their healing stories, often with great emotion. Many had been told they had months to live. They were sent home to die.

And yet, not finding help from traditional medical care, they instead took charge of their health and changed what they ate. They did not die. They reversed their diseases. Because, if the food we eat is contributing to our poor health, then changing what we eat can improve it.

Documentary Review: Eating You Alive

I appreciated this honest look at the health industry and the benefits of a plant based lifestyle. I already embrace it, however it was very good to hear so many doctors speak about how eating fruits, vegetables, legumes, healthy grains, nuts and seeds can bring such life changing goodness to the body. I know what a plant based lifestyle has done for my health. To see doctors promoting it and so many people experience healing was exciting.

There was sobering information as well. Diseases are on the increase. People are getting sicker and more obese with the current American diet. Animal cruelty is often practiced in raising livestock for food consumption. I firmly believe the stress that those animals live and die under is passed on energetically to those who eat their meat and eggs and dairy products, and drink their milk.

And perhaps most alarming of all was hearing the physicians say that in medical school they were taught very little about nutrition and the healing power of foods. Rather, they learned to treat symptoms, not the underlying causes of the diseases. Similarly, big pharmaceutical companies provide medications that ease symptoms while causing a host of equally debilitating side effects.

On the surface, it seems so simple. As Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” There are many reasons why it is not simple…food addictions, lack of support, lack of knowledge, and fear of change, to name a few. The choice is our. We decide whether we want greater health and well being, or if we want to continue on with a poor diet and poor health.

I left the theater with a renewed determination to live my life as an example of one who has healed, and continues to experience deeper healing. And with the desire to help as many others as possible so that they too can enjoy long and healthy lives.

Documentary Review: Eating You Alive

Vegan Egg Nog

Two years ago, I became reacquainted with a traditional holiday drink, egg nog. During the Christmas season, I enjoyed a nightly cup of the store purchased variety, with a splash of rum added. However, last year, adhering to a plant based lifestyle, I didn’t want to drink egg nog, at least not the sugar laden dairy version with eggs in it. I searched everywhere for a non dairy, sugar free product in the stores, without success. I looked for a recipe online, so I could make it myself, but my search didn’t turn up a good, plant based one.

Today, without any effort on my part, I found a vegan egg nog recipe, posted on a Medical Medium Support Facebook page. I knew it was completely compatible with my chosen diet, and I couldn’t wait to try it. After a busy day, tonight I created my first dairy, egg, sugar and alcohol free egg nog. My daughters teased me, when I mentioned during a group text that I was excited to try this drink, asking me what it was, exactly, since this egg nog doesn’t contain any of the traditional ingredients. It’s more properly a faux egg nog. Or a non nog!

I already had all of the ingredients on hand. Here is the simple recipe, from Incredible Smoothies.

I used unsweetened coconut almond milk. Any non dairy milk would be fine. I have whole cloves so I broke one in two and tossed half into the blender. I purchase very ripe bananas on sale at the grocery store, chop them up, and keep them in the freezer for smoothies and making banana ice cream. I had frozen bananas ready to use.

My new Ninja Blender quickly turned the assembled ingredients into a thick, cold, creamy drink. The frozen bananas sweetened the nog naturally and gave it some body. I added an additional sprinkle of cinnamon across the top, and took my first sip.

This non nog was so good! I preferred to keep it alcohol free as well, however a splash of rum could be added. The cinnamon, nutmeg and clove piece gave it that classic egg nog taste. I could enjoy it without concern about foods on my “no” list.

I am grateful that the plant based egg nog recipe I was searching for last year, found me. In the past 12 months I have come to appreciate a variety of wonderful, health boosting drinks that I can sip on in the evenings. Perhaps because of that, I had not felt compelled to hunt for a healthy egg nog this year. I’m glad for the recipe however. It is a tasty addition to my night time drink choices.

Cheers! And Merry Christmas!

4 Bean Vegan Chili

On cold winter evenings, a bowl of steaming hot chili makes a satisfying and warming meal. I have used a chili recipe for many years, adapted from one my dad created. Since going plant based, I have tried several chili recipes I found online or in cookbooks. They tasted fine. And yet I still felt compelled to keep trying, keep looking.

Ultimately, I ended up creating a recipe of my own.

This simple to make chili comes together in minutes, and uses easily found ingredients. I used organic, and non GMO, canned goods from the grocery store, with fresh veggies such as onion, green bell pepper and garlic.

Putting together this recipe gave me the opportunity of also try out a recipe maker. The app I selected works well enough, but doesn’t have a format that makes it suitable for using in my blog posts. I will keep searching.

I chose to use pinto, black, great northern and red kidney beans, however, any variety of beans could be used. I want to add lima beans next time. More, or less, seasoning could be used. And red bell pepper could be substituted for the green.

I liked the ease of preparation and the spicy aroma that filled my kitchen as the pot of chili simmered on the stove. I diced an avocado and anticipated a homey, warming bowl of chili.

I was not disappointed. This was a very tasty chili, and exactly what I have been looking for. That old adage that says “if you want something done right, do it yourself”, rings true in this case. I created what I was looking for.

There isn’t any meat in this recipe, but there is wholesomeness, goodness and lots of love. I think my dad would approve.

An Abundance of Goodness

Day 4 of Gratitude Week falls on Thanksgiving Eve. I am doing what I usually do on this night before Thanksgiving…I am preparing food for tomorrow’s meal. We had our big family Thanksgiving Sunday, while my son was off work. Tomorrow is a more casual meal with my two daughters and their husbands, Greg, and grandson Dayan.

We are all contributing to the meal, which will include smoked turkey and brisket, for the carnivores in the family, and an abundance of veggie side dishes, for the plant based eaters.

My gratitude today is for the delightful fact that holiday meals and a plant based lifestyle are not exclusive of each other. I will dine well tomorrow and enjoy spending an afternoon with family. We will share food, talk, laugh, play games and celebrate a birthday.

I am grateful for a wealth of healthy recipes to try out. Tonight I made three dishes for tomorrow, trying out two new recipes and recreating a favorite from last year.

The foundation of the recipes was plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Here is a peek at what I am contributing tomorrow:

I made Raw Cranberry Relish, from Life Changing Foods, last year for the first time. I like cranberry sauce, even the blob of stuff from the can. This relish, made from fresh cranberries, apples and oranges is amazing. And it is so easy to make, using a food processor. The recipe calls for coconut sugar, which is a natural, unrefined sugar. Last year I substituted raw honey. Tonight I had coconut sugar on hand. This is seriously so delicious, that even people who think they don’t like cranberries might be surprised.

Cranberries are full of antioxidants. They not only aid in healing urinary tract infections, they reverse gallbladder disease, cleanse the liver and help with kidney stones. They also help heal cardiovascular disease and draw radiation out of the body.

I wonder why I only make this around Thanksgiving? While cranberries are plentiful, I should be making this relish once a week!

I am super excited about this Sweet Potato Casserole. I found the recipe on Pinterest, posted by Nutritional Foodie. I made a sweet potato casserole for years. That one was full of butter and brown sugar and used canned yams. This one started with fresh sweet potatoes that I cooked myself and then mashed with coconut oil, spices, coconut sugar and unsweetened almond coconut milk. The topping, which I’ll add in the morning before baking, has pecans, coconut sugar, coconut oil and garbanzo bean flour.

After I poured the sweet potato mixture into the casserole dish, I tried a bite, from the bit left in the pan. It is so wonderful! And this version is good for me. Sweet potatoes are full of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients and promote productive bacteria in the stomach while starving out unproductive bacteria and fungi. They help regulate hormones and promote sleep.

Look at this colorful dish! The Mixed Veggies with Brown Rice features fresh carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini, along with organic peas and red kidney beans. Combined with the brown rice, this will be a wholesome, protein rich dish that will be the main part of my meal tomorrow. This recipe comes from a little cookbook called Slow Cooker 100% Vegan.

I have the raw brown rice in the slow cooker and the veggies prepped and seasoned with mixed Italian herbs, sea salt, coarsely ground black pepper and fresh garlic. I’ll stumble into the kitchen at 3:00 am to add the veggies to the slow cooker, along with two cups of water, and turn it on low. It will finish cooking just in time to cart it to Adriel’s house. I’ll bet it will smell wonderful as it simmers.

I am so full of gratitude as I sip on my turmeric milk, all my food preparations completed. During my healing journey I have realized this truth, and accept it wholeheartedly…

What I eat becomes the fuel that my body uses to live and thrive…or exist and struggle.

EVERYTHING I eat and drink matters. Poor nutrition results in poor health, illness and pain. Good nutrition results in good health and an immune system that can fight off invaders and heal itself, maintaining well being.

I choose carefully what I nourish myself with. During celebrations or the holidays, I am not missing a thing by holding to my plant based lifestyle. What I gain is continued health, not extra pounds or an upset digestive system.

Here’s to a healthy and abundant Thanksgiving!

My First Chia Pudding

Until recently, the only thing I knew about chia seeds was that you could grow them on clay figurines, creating the look of “hair”. As a kid, I never had a chia pet, so during my Year of Firsts in 2014 I bought one and had fun sprouting the chia seeds.

Because of that connection, I was a bit dubious about consuming chia seeds. However, during my healing journey, I’ve learned these little seeds are considered a super food, full of health boosting benefits. I routinely add a spoonful to my morning smoothies. I’ve seen recipes for chia pudding, made from the same little seeds, but I have not tried a recipe…until today. Anthony William shared a simple basic chia pudding recipe and I thought, I must try this.

The basic recipe couldn’t be more easy.

Chia Pudding

• 1 cup dairy free milk ( almond or coconut)

• 1/4 cup chia seeds

Combine ingredients and let chill overnight in refrigerator. Top with favorite fruits and nuts.

I purchase bags of chia seeds at the Walmart Market. They are found in the baking aisle. And I love the unsweetened almond coconut milk blend, available in the refrigerator section wherever milk is sold. Two brands I’ve tried and like are Almond Breeze and Silk.

Chia seeds are an excellent source of protein, vitamins E and B complex, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron. They are higher in Omega 3 fatty acids than any other food and they are particularly beneficial for chronic inflammation, heart disease, brain function, cancer and autoimmune diseases. Chia seeds also combat diabetes by helping to stabilize and control blood sugar levels.

I started chia pudding this afternoon, so I could sample it this evening. As it set up in the fridge, I searched on Pinterest for more recipes. There are many ways to create a variety of chia puddings, starting with the basic recipe and then adding fruits, nuts, unsweetened chocolate, maple syrup and other healthy foods.

Inspired, I headed back into the kitchen to create a blueberry chia pudding to have as a midmorning or afternoon treat tomorrow. For this pudding, I used a small wide mouth mason jar.

Blueberry Chia Pudding

• 1 cup unsweetened non dairy milk, such as almond or coconut

• 1/2 cup frozen wild blueberries

• 1/4 cup chia seeds

Combine milk and blueberries in a blender. Process until berries and milk are well mixed. Pour into a small mason jar. Add chia seeds. Screw on jar lid and shake to mix blueberry milk with seeds. Chill in refrigerator overnight to set. Top with additional blueberries and nuts before eating.

These puddings are so easy to make! I have ideas for a variety of chia puddings. Tomorrow I will be at the grocery store, stocking up on small mason jars, chia seeds and plenty of fruits, unsweetened coconut and nuts such as walnuts and pecans. I saved recipes for such delights as pumpkin pie chia pudding and chocolate raspberry chia pudding. I will be playing with these recipes and coming up with some of my own. (The blueberry chia pudding is one I created using the basic recipe as the foundation.)

Tonight I intended to dress up the basic recipe by topping it with sliced bananas, wild blueberries and walnuts. However, the pudding isn’t completely set up yet. I don’t want to rush it. I will let it chill overnight and add an update to this post in the morning. And I’m excited to sample the blueberry chia pudding tomorrow and create more fun variations.

No more chia pets. I have a much better, and more beneficial, use for these amazing little seeds.