Monday evening’s thunderous storms delivered early morning clouds and a landscape bathed in otherworldly green. The air, now crisp and clear, vibrated with energy, the kind that makes runners sing because they know temperatures between 36 and 52 degrees F (2 to 11 degrees Celsius) are best for efficiently bringing oxygen to the muscles. Those scientists were right – this morning’s run at 5:30 am in 11 degree temps induced a runner’s high that wouldn’t quit.
It also induced hunger. A big, rip roaring hunger that needed to be answered, fast. Wiping sweat from everywhere, I stuck my nose in the fridge and spied my experiment – Chia Seed Pudding made with my own, homemade nut milk and Wild Blueberry and Fig compote. Here’s how I got there. Last week I had made nut milk for the first time. It was relatively easy. I soaked 1 cup each raw, unsalted, whole cashews and almonds, in 4 cups of filtered water seasoned with 1/2 teaspoon unrefined sea salt, for 48 hours. When I was ready to make the nut milk, I tipped the nuts into a colander and drained them while giving them a good rinse. Next I placed the soaked nuts into my VitaMix and added 4 cups of fresh, filtered water.
The next part gets noisy as I switch on the VitaMix to a slow grind to begin the process of breaking down the nuts. I do this for about 10 seconds and then hit the highest speed to break down the nuts into a fine meal. This takes about 4 minutes. For additional flavour I add vanilla paste and a tiny pinch of USS. I then took the mixture and poured it into a nut bag – a special fine mesh cloth bag – to allow the filtering process to begin. The result is an incredibly delicious beverage free of refined ingredients, chemicals and other unknowns. What you have is heath in a glass.
But I made so much nut milk, I didn’t know what to do with it. There’s only me at home and I just don’t drink that much milk. What to do? Make chia pudding of course! This recipe couldn’t be any easier. Simply measure out 1/3 cup of chia seeds and add to 1 1/2 cups nut milk. I like to give the pudding a rich vanilla taste so I add a tablespoon of vanilla paste to the mixture too. I don’t feel the pudding needs more sweet factor but you can always add a few tablespoons of maple syrup for the purpose. The best container to mix the pudding in is a 1 litre glass Mason jar. Screw the lid on tight and shake like crazy. In the morning you will have a decadent, creamy pudding deliciously flavoured and oh so nutritious.
Because I had a flat (that’s 16) fresh figs and some wild blueberries (they are just coming into season here), and because there was a nip in the air, I decided the best way to top off the chia pudding was with a compote. This too is so easy to make. Into a small saucepan add 1 cup of wild blueberries and 1 cup of chopped figs. For the sweet factor I simply squeezed the juice of one orange into the pan and then turned up the heat. Let the mixture come to a gentle bubble and cook for 15 minutes until you get a lovely thick mixture. The smell, by the way, is heavenly. You can serve this on top of the chia pudding, hot or cold. Either way, it is heavenly food for which my body is supremely grateful.
I headed into my day with a satisfied tummy and a boat load of energy. Food like that feeds the soul and lights up my cells. I have so much energy, it’s hard to imagine living with less. But now it’s time to train muscles. To that end, I mix up a water bottle with a sachet of Wake Well from Well&Company, a handful of ice cubes and enough water to fill the bottle. Give it a shake and head straight to the gym. That is where I find myself – my healing time, my grit, my mental wellness, my physical wellness – this is totally ME time. I am on my way to my Self Care is the new Health Care revolution. Movement, to me, is not punishment. It is freedom. I advocate for my own wellness through movement practiced on a daily basis. My fuel-filled water bottle drives an intense workout that, upon completion, delivers all the body building benefits I could ever ask for.
After a busy morning of exercise and productivity, it is time to refuel. Another trip to the kitchen and I find inspiration in the greens harvested from my local farmers’ market. Spring is the time of year to indulge in everything green. I build a salad that would rival a Matisse painting. Greens contrast with reds, yellows, purples and more. It will be a task to chomp through it all but one I attack with relish. Drizzle with decadently rich avocado oil, and acidic apple cider vinegar. Season with USS and Black Pepper. Add the staccato crunch of nuts and seeds. Live dangerously and toss in a bouquet of flowers – nasturtiums, chive blossoms, lavender, thyme, dill, cilantro, day lily, squash blossom, nasturtiums, and basil. Eat them. Eat it all. Eat your energy. You will never feel more alive.
That living food drove a hectic, busy day. I live intensely every minute of every day. I give one hundred per cent of myself to all I do. I’m an all in kind of girl. I can only show up every day like that when I have enough of the right kind of fuel in me. Dead food begets no energy. Living food begets huge energy. I feel present in every cell in my body thanks to what I eat.
It isn’t long then, before I must revisit the kitchen, as dinner time ticks by. What shall I eat? Today I have continued the experiment with unusual foods – or at least, unusual in my kitchen – by working with kelp noodles. This is not a natural for me although my heritage is such that the seas and salt water flow in my blood. Yet I reached for the package at my local whole foods store and dove in. The noodles are cold and clammy in the hands but they get a rinse under running water to loosen them up. Humans need hot water to loosen up. Kelp noodles need cold. Drain the noodles and place in a salad bowl. Add spiral-sliced carrots (use a Spirooli or other spiralizing machine) to kelp noodles. Add one cup edamame or baby peas. Make the dressing by reaching for your favorite half pint Mason jar and adding 3 tablespoons tahini, 3 tablespoons ACV, 1 tablespoon Braggs’ Liquid Soy, 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup, 1 clove each grated garlic and ginger. Screw on the lid and give it a good shake. Wash hands well and tip dressing into salad. Toss to coat. Divide between 3 salad bowls and garnish with fresh lime wedges and a dusting of black sesame seeds. Up your protein factor by tossing in some cubed tempeh.
After this long day, completely filled with productivity, creativity, mobility and the abundance of life, I spend time preparing now for the evening when I wind down and allow the day to marinate into my soul. I boil a kettle of water and slice a one inch piece of fresh ginger root into a mug. I add a Rest Well sachet and a slice of lemon to the cup and let it steep for 5 minutes. As my bed calls me, I give thanks for the beauty of this life, the opportunity to be in it fully engaged and alive, to be surrounded by love, family and friends. Ultimately, I am filled with gratitude.
Thank you food. Thank you friends. Thank you family. Thank you work and business associates. Thank you.
I am always listening.
Eat Clean for Health and for Life.
Tosca Reno