Toffee Caramel Popcorn

When it comes to making healthy snack decisions, popcorn is such a fantastic choice! One of the most amazing things about popcorn is that you can choose from so many different healthy toppings that it never has to get boring!

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Popcorn Nutrition

Popcorn generally only has around 30 calories per cup, making it a great snack for maintaining a healthy weight. As a wholegrain, popcorn also contains a beneficial amount of fibre as well as a dose of protein!

The problem with most ready made popcorn products is that they are usually covered in salt, butter or other unhealthy (but certainly tasty) ingredients.

My recipe for Toffee Caramel Popcorn is excitingly healthy AND a little bit sticky – perfect for those of you who enjoy a messy treat! With this recipe you will cook up a whole batch that you can either enjoy right away or store to eat on the go another time.

Ingredients:

1/2 a cup of popcorn kernels
1/2 a cup of maple syrup
1 tsp of almond extract
1/3 of a cup of almond butter (or any nut butter)
A dash of cinnamon
1 & 1/2 tbsp of coconut oil

Method:

First of all preheat your oven to 180C / 375F. Next, take a large pot and place it on the hob at a medium to high heat. Melt the coconut oil in the pan and then add your popcorn kernels. You can then put the lid on your pan and leave the kernels to do their thing! This will usually take around ten minutes but will vary so watch your pot closely. Once you start to hear more than five seconds between each pop then you will know that your popcorn is almost ready. As soon as it is ready you should remove the pan from the heat.

The next step is to make the caramel toffee sauce. To do this, take a mixing bowl and pour in the maple syrup, the almond butter, almond extract, and the cinnamon. Whisk the contents of your bowl until it becomes a smooth paste.

Next, pour your prepared popcorn onto a baking tray and pour the contents of the bowl over the popcorn. Try to drizzle it evenly but don’t worry too much as it will spread in the oven. Place the baking tray in the oven for seven minutes and your treat is then ready to enjoy!

Want to learn more about how eating more plant-based foods can enhance your health? Click here now to check out my starter guide!

Plant-Based Protein

If you follow a plant-based diet then the chances are you have heard that dreaded question before – “Where do you get your protein?”

Proteins, often a hot topic in the nutrition world, are necessary for all of us. Without them the cells in our body can’t repair and regenerate themselves. When we consume protein, our body breaks it down into amino acids, which is what our cells are made of!

Plant protein comes packaged in healthy fibres and carbohydrates that your body needs to fuel itself. Animal-based protein sources are often high in cholesterol and animal fats. Despite animal proteins often being advertised as ‘complete’ sources of healthy protein, they often aren’t always so healthy after all!

When we look a little closer at the wide range of plant-based foods available to us, we can see that complete proteins can be found within these foods too. The definition of a complete protein is when it consists of all of the necessary amino acids that the body needs.

However, it is important to remember that not all protein is the same: different sources contain different amounts of amino acids. And, that’s why it is important that we mix and match!

Most amino acids are pretty easy to get from any balanced plant-based diet, but some are tougher, such as lysine. If you eat tofu, beans and tempeh, you’ll surely be just fine. But if these things are not a part of your diet then you should pay attention to your lysine intake. Another limiting factor could be methionine. But fear not! By combining your pulses and beans with grains, you are pretty much guaranteed to get enough of them both. 

One thing is obvious: variety is the key! Different foods contain different amino acids and thus a balanced and a varied diet ensures you have covered all of the bases. Not all of the ingredients need to be complete proteins, as long as your daily intake is covered.

Here are a few simple tips to give you a head-start when it comes to fulfilling your protein quota on a plant-based diet! 

First of all, mix your rice with beans. The beans complement the low lysine content of the rice and the rice compliments the beans’ methionine. Check out my delicious recipe for making baked beans at home! 

Secondly you can eat your bread with humous to create another a lysine-methionine power couple. Alternatively, try peanut butter. A two slice sandwich with two tablespoons of peanut butter contains an impressive 15 grams of protein!

Finally, add more spirulina into your diet. You can effortlessly do this by adding a dash to your grains and oats. Spirulina on its own lacks cysteine and methionine, but that’s nothing a tasty green porridge can’t fix!

To put it simply: you probably don’t have to worry about your protein count if you are eating a healthy and varied plant-based diet!

For more top tips on nutrition head to The Flexi Foodie Academy now!

Hemp Seed Smoothie Bowl

Think of this as almost like a chocolate milkshake but one that is actually filled with all things good! You might think that this is impossible…..but give this one a go and I think you’ll agree it’s thick, creamy, and slightly chocolatey too!

If you haven’t heard the hype about hemp seeds yet then you are certainly missing out! They are loaded with goodness, from healthy fats to an abundance of protein and essential nutrients. The omega-3 fatty acids found within hemp seeds are great for nourishing your mind as well as your heart. This kind of fat reduces inflammation in the body as well as promoting cognitive function and memory. For this reason, having one of my hemp seed smoothie bowls first thing in the morning can really help you to start the day with your best foot forwards!

Hemp seeds are also amazing because they contain all of the essential amino acids. This makes them a complete source of protein which is fantastic for those on a purely plant-based diet. Just three tablespoons of these seeds equates to 10 grams of seriously high-quality protein!

Hemp Seed Smoothie Bowl2To make this smoothie bowl for two people, you will need the following ingredients:

2 cups / 5oz / 140g of spinach
2 cups / 5oz / 140g of kale
1/2 a cucumber, roughly chopped
1 ripe banana
1/2 an avocado, peeled and de-stoned
1 tbsp of hemp seeds
1 tsp of spirulina
1 cup / 8fl oz / 225ml of coconut milk
1 tbsp of raw cacao
A handful of ice (optional)

Hemp Seed Smoothie BowlTo make this smoothie bowl, all you need to do is place all of the ingredients (except the ice) into a blender. You can then blitz for approximately two minutes, or until the mixture becomes thick and creamy.

If you want to chill the smoothie, you can then add the ice to the blender and blitz again. Once everything is combined together, spoon it into bowls and serve immediately.

This is one of the recipes from my book – Eat Real Foods – which was released this week!!! You can order your copy in the UK by clicking here and order your copy in the U.S by clicking here!

Natural Foods for Better Energy

Increasing your energy levels is a concept that the majority of us would love to know more about. As our days become busier and more hectic, finding a way to get through till bedtime is often at the forefront of our minds. I am always excited to discover new ways to manage this naturally and, of course, food is my favourite weapon when it comes to doing so! Altering your diet to include high energy options is arguably the best way to keep yourself motivated and energised during the day. The following foods are easy to work into your diet every day and you will soon feel the health benefits of doing so.

Edamame makes for a great snack and will help your energy levels to soar. Also known as soybeans, they are high in nutrients that work to energise the body. When you eat edamame every day, you will be naturally increasing the B vitamins in your body, as well as your phosphorous and copper levels. It is a great idea to have an adequate amount of B vitamins because they help to break carbohydrates down into glucose, which the body then uses as fuel! They are also a fantastic source of fibre and protein so get them on the menu!

Opting for a whole grain cereal in the morning will help to prepare you for the day ahead when it comes to keeping your energy up. Whole grain cereals are high in fibre and this will help glucose to be released slowly throughout the day, thereby giving you more consistent energy levels. It is not difficult to find whole grain cereals that have been fortified with a range of vitamins and minerals, which means that your body will get even more of a boost!

Keeping a bag of nuts and dried fruit with you at all times is a great emergency go-to when you feel your energy levels begin to drop. Nuts and dried fruit contain an amazing combination of protein, fibre and healthy fat which is exactly what you need in a moment of low energy. It is best to make your own mix of fruit and nuts so that you can select the raw, unsalted varieties. Put together a huge batch and you can then take smaller portions with you each day.

Including these three things in your diet regularly will soon have you bursting with the energy that you need to approach your days full of positivity!

If you want to learn more about how nutrition can help you to maintain optimal health and high energy levels, then head over to the Flexi Foodie Academy!

Bulgar Wheat Red Peppers

Bulgar wheat is a low cost, high nutrition whole grain food that can be used in a huge variety of meals! It has a light nutty flavour and actually ranks quite low on the glycemic index. With high fibre and protein levels, bulgar wheat is also fantastically low in fat and will give your body a helping hand in keeping your digestive system healthy! Combined with red peppers, this whole grain makes a great main meal that is sure to keep those late night snack urges away!

In total this dish will take between 40 and 50 minutes to prepare.  To make enough for two people you’ll need the following ingredients:

Four red peppers

Three medium mushrooms

Fresh or frozen spinach

A dash of turmeric

Fresh parsley

Two carrots, diced

125g of bulgar wheat

One onion

Two tomatoes

Coconut oil

Firstly, cut the tops off of the peppers and scoop out the seeds. Next, lightly brush them with coconut oil and place them in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees C. Leave them for twenty minutes while you get on with the next step.

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Add 125g of bulgar wheat to 600ml of water in a pan and bring to the boil before adding in a dash of turmeric, covering and leaving to simmer for 10 – 15 minutes. If you’re using frozen spinach then add a small handful in half way through the simmering process, if you’re using fresh then wait until later!

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Whilst the wheat is simmering chop the mushrooms into small pieces, dice the carrots, onion and tomatoes. In a separate pan, boil the carrots for a few moments and then after draining the bulgar wheat add it together with the mushrooms, carrots, onion and tomatoes. If you’re using fresh spinach then now is the time to add it in!

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You can now take the peppers from the oven and fill with the bulgar wheat mix. Position the peppers back in the oven for a further ten minutes before taking out and garnishing with the parsley before serving!

Six Ways to Avoid Night Time Cravings!

Night time food binges are something many people can’t resist. Even if you’ve managed the whole day sticking to your diet and getting an adequate amount of exercise, sometimes the urge to binge late in the evening wins over your will power! For some this can consist of a naughty snack after dinner, but for others it can involve over-eating late into the night when they should be in bed giving their bodies the rest it deserves. If this sounds like you then don’t worry! You’re definitely not alone and here I’ve got seven great tips to help you avoid this behaviour.

six_ways_to_avoid_night_time_cravings1)      Always Eat Breakfast

This might sound obvious to many people but it’s surprising just how many people skip breakfast. Some will say they were too busy for a morning meal whilst others will use new diet restrictions as an excuse not to eat first thing. Whatever your excuse is, stop using it! If you are rushed in the morning then simply wake a little earlier and always choose a low fat, high protein option that will give you a boost before your day has really begun. Eggs are a great option, as is fruit. Or why not try making scrambled tofu with a selection of vegetables on brown toast – delicious!

2)      Avoid Calorific Drinks

It is so easy to drink a massive amount of your recommended daily calories. Coffee, tea, sodas and juices can contain shocking amounts of sugar which can cause disruption to blood levels and leave you craving more of the sweet stuff.

3)      Eat Regular Meals

Keeping your meal times regular will help your body to form a natural rhythm too. If you have breakfast, lunch and dinner at the same time each day then you will create a balance and your body will be less likely to crave foods at inappropriate times. You should apply this thinking to snacking in between meals too. Healthy light snacks are fine and actually encouraged to help regulate your metabolism but try to be consistent in this too.

4)       Include Good Fatssix_ways_to_avoid_night_time_binges

It is important that each of your meals contains good quality fats and a decent amount of protein. Foods which contain good fats are nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil and coconuts. Meat sources of high quality protein are chicken and fish but you can also get a more than adequate amount of protein from a vegetarian diet by consuming things like leafy green vegetables.

5)      Sleep & Relaxation

Comfort eating is something everyone has been guilty of at some point and this can have serious detrimental effects on your diet efforts. Wherever possible, try to avoid stress during the day. Depending on your lifestyle this may be hard for you to achieve but there are several relaxation activities, such as yoga and meditation that can help. There is also a range of breathing exercises that you can do anywhere throughout the day to calm yourself. Making sure you have a regular sleep pattern is also key to avoiding over eating as when your body is well rested you will have a natural energy that will prevent your body from craving sugary snacks as a supplement.

6)       Vitamins & Supplementssix_ways_to_avoid_night_time_cravings

Taking vitamins and supplements cannot only help keep your body balanced with all the things it needs, but can also help prevent food cravings. For example, Omega-3 contains some essential fatty acids that are considered necessary for human health however the body can’t make this on its own. If you’re not eating enough omega-3 rich foods then you should definitely be taking supplements to counteract this. A daily dose of Vitamin D will help to regulate your hormones and balance your insulin levels. This will lead to less desire for night time binging and a generally improved sense of well-being.

Stick to these three tips and you’ll soon find that any desire to ruin your healthy diet fades away, leaving you with a body that will thank you for it!

Wowsers Wheatgrass – a GIY (grow it yourself!) post

Okay, so I have been SO excited about this post for over a week now (10 days to be exact)!  Nearly freaking out! I just couldn’t wait to get started on writing about how to Grow Your OWN Wheatgrass!  It’s simple, fun, inexpensive and self-fullfilling!  Need I say more?  If you’ve got kids (I’m happy to hire one of mine out for the day :)), they will love watching this magical grass grow right before their BIG eyes!  And to be perfectly honest, I was excited to see the photos that my husband took of each cool stage of growth.  I hope you enjoy this post as much as I enjoyed posting it!

To start, make sure you get some good wheatgrass seeds – look online, they’re everywhere! Take 250g of the seeds and soak them overnight or a good 8-12 hours.

ImageOnce soaked, rinse and then allow the seeds to sprout first before planting.  To do this, put the seeds into a muslin pouch for 2 days,  a glass jar will do fine too!  Make sure you rinse the seeds 3 times a day during those 2 days of sprouting.  ImageOnce those cute seeds have formed their adorable tails, you are ready to plant them!  I used a 9×13 tray, filled it with soil (basic potting mix or top soil work great) and then gently placed the seeds on top of the soil, not in the soil.  To keep them wet, you gotta water them and cover them up for the next 3 days.  I used another tray to cover them but a tea towel is fine too.  During these 3 days, water them heavily in the morning.

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 When the grass has grown about 1-2 inches in length, you can then uncover those gorgeous blades and watch them grow even more.  Little hint:  I don’t advise having the grass in direct sunlight though.  Just find a good spot in your kitchen that doesn’t get too much of it.  Living in London, that’s not too hard! Over the next several days, watch your amazing creation grow to around 8- 10 inches and then it’s ready to be cut, juiced and gulped!
ImageIf you don’t know the SHAMAZING benefits of Wheatgrass, then keep on reading.  There are SOOOO many to list that I could write a novel about Wheatgrass!  But instead I’ve listed my top EIGHT favourite benefits!Image
1. Wheatgrass juice contains up to 70% chlorophyll, which is a huge blood builder.  YUP, these chlorophyll molecules so closely resemble our bloods haemoglobin. The only major difference is that the chlorophyll molecule contains magnesium as its central atom and our blood contains iron.  Other than that, these guys chlorophyll and haemoglobin are nearly identical.
2. The Chlorophyll in Wheatgrass contains awesome enzymes which helps to slow down the ageing process.  Am all over that one!
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3. Yucky bacteria and toxins are stopped and flushed out by our best friend Chlorophyll.
4. Chlorophyll, yes, can be extracted from a lot of plants, but wheatgrass is SUPERIOR because it has been found to have over 100 elements needed by us!
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5. Carrot juice and fresh fruit juices are great at detoxing the body, but once again Wheatgrass is superior in the detoxification department!
6. 1 ounce of Wheatgrass juice is equal to 2 pounds of dark, green leafy veg therefore, it naturally shuts off the appestat in the brain.
Image7. Wheatgrass is jam packed with vitamins and minerals, including 13 essential ones, dozens of trace elements and enzymes, rich in protein and contains 17 amino acids: the building blocks of protein.
8. And lastly, this juice aids in skin problems such as eczema or acne, can be gargled for a sore throat, improves digestion and keeps the hair from graying (OMG – love that!)
ImageSo, there you have it – Wheatgrass really packs a punch, right?!  And this is just a glimpse of the many benefits of Wheatgrass.  So, run out now, get your seeds and start your glorious growing!  Your body will LOVE you for it!
For any nutritional advice, head to my Website Here and/or if you liked this post then why not Like my Facebook Page!

Green Bean and Tahini Salad

People always ask me where I get my protein from since I don’t eat meat. Well, here’s a salad that is jam packed full of it. Yes, if you weren’t already aware then legumes have protein and lots of it! I’m also going to show you how you can make a seriously delicious dressing that you can use in other recipes too!

greenbeanandtahinisalad grassrootsandgrains5Protein is essential for the body for repair and growth and it also regulates processes in the body such as transporting nutrients and water balancing. If you don’t get enough protein in your diet then the possibility of becoming ill is higher, especially if you are getting a seriously low amount. So to stay healthy, especially on a plant-based diet, it’s important that you make the effort to incorporate protein into your meals each day!

greenbeanandtahinisalad grassrootsandgrains2This salad is a tasty way to do just that and all you’ll need is the following ingredients:

400g of cooked mixed beans
100g of green beans
2 handfuls of shaved almonds, lightly toasted
1/2 a head of Bavarian lettuce (romaine good too!), chopped
1 large avocado
2 clementines
1 yellow pepper, chopped
A handful fresh coriander

Then to make the Tahini Dressing which is also super nutritious, you’ll need:

2 tbsp. of tahini
2 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. of tamari
2 tbsp. of lemon juice
1 tbsp. of raw honey

greenbeanandtahinisalad grassrootsandgrains6To make the Green Bean Salad, you simply have to combine all of the ingredients together in a large bowl and then serve into separate dishes. The Tahini Dressing is similarly easy to make and just has to be whisked together in a mixing bowl before being poured over the top of your salad.

greenbeanandtahinisalad grassrootsandgrains7The legumes in this salad aren’t the only reason your bodies going to love it. Including clementines in the recipe is an effortless way to improve your well-being.  Clementines are zero cholesterol, zero fat and zero sodium but on the flip-side they contain an impressive amount of dietary fibre and vitamin C.

greenbeanandtahinisalad grassrootsandgrains4Adding shaved almonds into your salad is a delicious way to up the protein of your salad whilst also getting some healthy fats into your meal. Coriander is also full of a range of vitamins, minerals and other goodness as well as adding its distinctive flavour to the recipe.

greenbeanandtahinisalad grassrootsandgrains3As mentioned before, the dressing doesn’t have to be used specifically with this dish. It can make a great addition to practically any recipe and can be made fresh quickly in each instance. Tahini is a paste that is light in colour and made from crushed sesame seeds. It is crammed with good, essential fats and also contains vitamin B1, magnesium, copper, phosphorous and manganese.

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Sangita’s Tofu Curry

My friend Sangita was kind enough to share this recipe with me although it was originally intended as a prawn curry dish! To give this recipe my own touch, I’ve substituted tofu in to create a veggie alternative! Curry is a wholesome dish that is perfectly satisfying at the end of a long day and with ample opportunity to include a combination of herbs and spices, it is great for your body too! To make this recipe for yourself and three others, you’ll need the following ingredients:

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2 medium onions
450g block of firm tofu, cut into small chunks
½ a block of coconut cream
1 teaspoon of cumin
4 ground cardamom pods
2 teaspoons of coriander
2 teaspoons of turmeric
2 teaspoons of chilli powder
Lime juice to taste
1 inch of root ginger
3 tablespoons of safflower oil
Lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Before you start preparing the curry, you should first add your desired amount of rice to a pan of hot water and leave to cook.

So to begin, you should chop the onions into small pieces and peel and slice the ginger. Next you can drizzle some of the safflower oil into a pan and fry these two ingredients together for two to three minutes. Whilst continuing to fry, include the cumin, cardamom, coriander plus the turmeric and chilli powder. Stir the contents of the frying pan together well before adding in all of the tofu.

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Now you can turn the heat down a tad whilst you create the coconut milk. Do this by mixing the block of coconut cream with 475ml of boiling water in a jug and stirring well before pouring into the pan. Turn the heat back up and allow everything to cook together for between five and ten minutes.

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Before you take the curry off the heat, check to see if the rice is ready and if so drain off any excess water and serve onto dishes. You can then season the contents of your pan with salt and freshly ground black pepper before serving over the rice. Garnish with a dash of lime juice and enjoy!

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Curry is often thought of as an indulgent dish that is neither good for the body or your waistline, however when prepared with the correct ingredients and not full of fatty products, curry can actually be a healthy meal. Not only this but it isn’t too difficult to make and is loved by many! Also, by using tofu as an alternative to meat in your curries, you are providing the body with numerous healthy benefits. These benefits range from lowering your cholesterol count to helping protect against certain cancers. It is also believed that consuming tofu will help keep bones strong as it is a great source of calcium. Tofu is also full of vitamin E and is a fantastic source of protein. Every 100g of tofu contains approximately 17.19g of protein, making it easy to see that you can still meet your daily recommended allowance from this meat alternative!

The inclusion of spices like turmeric, cumin and coriander are also good ways to boost the nutritional value of your meals and also add to the taste. Also, when cooking it is preferable to avoid the traditional oils which have become the norm and instead opt for a healthier alternative. Safflower oil has been used since the Ancient Egyptian times and is a bi-product of a plant which is also widely used for colouring, flavouring and medicinal purposes.

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Chia Seeds – A Cool Superfood!

Chia seeds may not be a health food that you are already familiar with, however if you are looking to give your body a boost – it is something you should become acquainted with! Much research has been done to discover the incredible health benefits of chia seeds and the advantages of eating them are many and varied.

It has been suggested that these seeds can make you feel fuller for longer which in turn helps with weight management and weight loss. When they enter your body they are thought to absorb ten times their own weight in water. This assists in creating the feeling of being full which should prevent you from snacking between meals!

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Athletes are among the many people realising the potential of chia seeds as they hydrate the body, something which is obviously particularly useful during sports. There is also strong evidence to suggest that they will reduce your blood pressure and slow down the speed at which your body converts carbohydrates into sugars. This reduction in carb conversion time is particularly beneficial for sufferers of diabetes as it aids the control of blood sugar. The Omega-3 content of chia seeds is also something to get excited about as it is the richest plant source of this fatty acid, containing even more than a portion of salmon! As you may well already know, Omega-3 is an essential fat that protects the body against inflammations and is also great for the brain and heart.

As well as being packed full of Omega-3, chia seeds are also high in protein and dietary fibre as well as being gluten free! The protein count is especially impressive as it contains all eight essential amino acids. These seeds also boast an amazingly high amount of antioxidants, calcium, vitamin C, iron and potassium! All of these components combined make it a fantastic food for promoting healthy skin, hair, nails as well as everything on the inside! chia seeds a cool superfood! grassrootsandgrains2

To make the most of the remarkable benefits of eating chia seeds, you should aim to include approximately 15g (roughly one tablespoon) in your diet every day. However, due to the high fibre content, you must also remember to drink plenty of water. There are countless ways to incorporate the seeds into your meals, the easiest being to simply sprinkle them on top of whatever you are eating. There is no need to cook the seeds before you eat them and they will dramatically improve the nutritional value of any dish, be it cereal, soup, salad or anything else! If you’ve got more of a sweet-tooth, but still want to enjoy the benefits of chia seeds, then why not try the recipe below for my Chocolate Chai Chai Pudding!

To make this treat for four you’ll need to shop for the following ingredients:

• 1/4 cup of chia seedschia seeds a cool superfood! grassrootsandgrains4
• 1 cup of unsweetened almond (or coconut) milk
• 5 pitted Medjool dates
• 1/2 a vanilla pod
• 1/2 a teaspoon of cacao powder
• 1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon
• 1/8 of a teaspoon of cloves
• 1/8 of a teaspoon of nutmeg
• 1/8 of a teaspoon of ground ginger

All you need to do is combine all of the ingredients, except for the chia seeds, in a high-speed food processor and blitz until completely smooth. Next, pour your concoction into a bowl and stir in the seeds before separating into serving dishes and placing in the fridge  for several hours whilst it becomes thick.

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chia seeds a cool superfood! grassrootsandgrains6Once ready you can top with a couple of blueberries and tuck into this tasty treat with absolutely zero guilt, knowing that you’re body is as thankful for every spoonful as you are!

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