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One of the things that’s become more important to me as I’ve got older is looking and, more importantly, feeling well. While we were on holiday at the start of June, I said to my boyfriend that I wanted to make sure that we were as healthy as we could be this summer and to really focus on eating right, getting a reasonable amount of exercise/sleep and taking the time to chill the eff out before the inevitable craziness of autumn wedding stress kicks in. Of course, as soon as I said this, I condemned myself to a couple of weeks of various low-level but annoying illnesses (and some prolonged celebrations for my mother’s 60th birthday party which tool the toll that you might expect) but you can’t really expect anything else from life I guess.

“Wellness” has become a hot topic (and a big money-maker) in the last few years. I’m sure a lot of people will have read Hadley Freeman’s excellent article in The Guardian a few weeks ago about the rise of the so-called “wellness bloggers”. The article is not entirely positive and touches on many of the concerns that I have with the genre, particularly the lack of science behind some/many of the claims that bloggers can tout with authority but primarily what Hadley Freeman describes as ‘the whispered promise of thinness’ which seems to sit behind a lot of the phenomenon.  I went to a school where eating disorders were rife and skipping lunch was seen as a badge of honour.  If the world of wellness bloggers had existed then, I can’t even begin to imagine how we’d use them to justify whatever crazy diet was the rage that week.

Given the wealth of information and misinformation out there, it’s always a relief to come across a book that’s authoritative and informative whilst maintaining a healthy outlook on food/eating/wellness/the need for ample supplies of cake in everyday life.  Amy Chaplin’s book, At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen, is just that. Amy has a a wealth of experience behind her – both in restaurants and as a private chef – and creates recipes that focus on celebrating, rather than restricting, good food.

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The book is divided into two main sections. The first deals with the foundations of stocking and cooking from a whole food pantry (including some swoon-worthy pictures of Amy’s pantry and its glass jars if that’s you’re kind of thing which I totally am), including a collection of recipes using using pantry ingredients (from which this chia pudding is taken), including a section on homemade condiments (my favourite!). Some of the ideas in this chapter are those perfect simple meals that I’m always craving after a long day at work like the parsley and brown rice salad with seeds and the pasta with kale, onions and goat’s cheese.

The rest of the book is divided up into chapters with more complex recipes taking you from breakfast (spelt and almond waffles! Plum millet muffins!) to desserts (including a whole sub-chapter on tarts – the data and pistachio praline tart has particularly caught my eye) with everything in between. The recipes are seasonal in everything but name, heavy on the produce and with an understanding of the kind of food that appeals at different times of year. This being summer, allegedly, the recipes I’ve tried have embraced the best ingredients at this time of year – like the gazpacho with heirloom tomatoes and the quinoa salad with roasted summer vegetables and harissa marinade.  Some of the more autumn/winter recipes that have caught my eye include the heirloom bean bourginon, the aubergine curry with cardamom rice and apricot chutney and the spicy carrot soup with kaffir lime leaves and coconut.  I’ve found that the some of the desserts have a little more of a ‘chef-y’ feel to them than the savoury recipes although I imagine that the ingredients and techniques will be familiar to those who dabble more in vegan cooking than I do. And I’m not sure I’m going to be able to resist the chocolate and hazelnut cake with cherry filling and chocolate ganache for much longer.

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It took me a while to come round to the concept of chia pudding. What really sold it to me though was how easy it is – just mix chia seeds with some liquid, chill for a few hours and you’re ready to go. Whilst I can (and do) eat it at any time of the day, it really works for me as a breakfast, particularly in the summer when I appreciate having something cooling and hydrating first thing in the morning. Amy’s version takes a little bit of forward planning (you have to soak the cashews for a few hours before blending) but really, nothing about this chia pudding could be easier and the addition of a touch of coconut oil (or coconut butter) gives such a luxurious richness.

I have bought a fair number of those aforementioned”wellness” books over the last year or so. I can honestly say that I’ve never cooked a single recipe from any of them. Amy’s book, however, is completely and totally different. I use it almost daily and I know I will keep on using it for years to come.

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vanilla chia pudding + at home in the whole foods kitchen

Yield: 5 - 6 portions

I generally make my chia pudding by mixing an undetermined quantity of milk, vanilla and honey/maple syrup with chia seeds and hoping for the best. It usually works out okay but this version of Amy's was a revelation - I found that using cashew milk and the addition of coconut oil gave a degree of richness that's usually lacking and it had far more staying power. I also made it in a food processor and not a high speed blender and it was fine. I tend to make a large batch on Sunday and then keep it in the fridge - it lasts me most of the week.

Ingredients

  • 150g (1 cup) raw cashews, soaked in 500ml (2 cups) water for 4 - 6 hours
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1 litre (4 cups) water
  • 7 medjool dates (preferably on the softer side)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • A pinch of salt
  • 80g (1/2 cup) chia seeds

Instructions

  1. Drain the cashews after soaking and put in a food processor / blender with the vanilla, most of the water (if you can get it in without overfilling!), the dates, the coconut oil and the salt. Blitz until smooth. I only have a food processor so mine remained a little more gritty than you would get with a high speed blender but it was fine.
  2. Pour the liquid into a large bowl or container, preferably with a lid, add the chia seeds and stir well to distribute them evenly (you might need to do this once or twice in the first half hour). Chill for a couple of hours, or over night, until thickened. Serve with whatever you want! I like fresh berries at this time of year and something for a little crunch - flaked almonds work well or cocoa nibs as I've used here.

Notes

Recipe from At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen by Amy Chaplin, published by Jacqui Small.

http://londonbakes.com/2015/07/vanilla-chia-pudding.html

Note: At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen has been out in the US for a while but was only released in the UK in June.  All of the recipes have been ‘translated’ to include the UK names of ingredients and to use weight measurements (hurrah!).  I pre-ordered my copy months ago from Amazon but Amy reached out to connect me with her publisher, Jacqui Small, and they have offered a special discount.  To order At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen at the discounted price of £20 including p&p* (RRP: £25), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG334.
*UK ONLY – Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

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53 Responses to "vanilla chia pudding from ‘at home in the whole food kitchen’"
  1. I completely agree with your idea on ‘wellness’ bloggers. It really bothers me when things are labeled as ‘skinny’ or ‘low fat’, just because we associate that with how we should be looking/eating. Like you, I am more concerned with how I feel and how the food I’m eating fits into my whole life. Lovely words and thoughts, as usual Kathryn! xo

    • kathryn says:

      Ugh, yeah absolutely. The quickest way to get me to click off from a website is labelling a recipe (or anything other than jeans…) as ‘skinny’. Thanks for your comment Abby – I’ve always really appreciate your thoughts on what eating well means + how you manage to show such a balanced way to eat vegan.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Kathryn, you’ve expressed so well my own suspicions about the so-called wellness movement. There just isn’t fast money or internet clicks to be made from promoting moderation, so instead foods, lifestyles, and even people are vilified in constantly revolving fads. We all need to be healthier, eat better, and rely ever more on whole foods, and I like the sane and wholesome approach that seems to be behind At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen. I’ve been meaning to get a copy for months, and think yours is just the push I need. Thank you!

    And this pudding is such a beautiful, nourishing way to begin the day.

    • kathryn says:

      You’re absolutely bang on Elizabeth – moderation isn’t sexy and yet I’m pretty sure it’s the best route to happiness + good health, whatever that means to you.

  3. Thanks for sharing that Guardian article; it’s something that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately! A lot of folks I know are prone to following diet trends and fads they’ve picked up from random places without too much research themselves. And if it’s something that you call out, you look like somebody who’s discouraging health/exercise… hm.

    And that’s good to know that Amy Chaplin’s book gets a lot of use in your kitchen! I’m definitely guilty of buying a ton of cookbooks, healthy or otherwise, and never cooking from them ever.

    • kathryn says:

      Yeah, it feels like you either have to be all-out for whatever the latest diet craze is or shilling fast food. There’s no middle ground of just being sensible and having a common sense approach.

  4. I am so sold on that cookbook as I have a similar feeling about healthy eating/cooking as you. And it scares me how many more eating “disorders” there could have been while I was in high school if the “healthy” blogs were as prevalent then.

    • kathryn says:

      Oh yeah, absolutely. It’s so easy to look at a blogger and use whatever they eat as justification for why you should restrict whatever. It’s terrifying.

  5. That was such an interesting article you shared! It’s so strange how wellness has turned into a superiority contest composed of seemingly made up and contradictory rules. I like what Elizabeth said about it being too bad moderation is not as sexy as a diet, that’s a great assessment. This recipe sounds incredible, and At Home in My Whole Food Pantry sounds like a wonderful cookbook. Thanks for your thoughts and this awesome recipe!

    • kathryn says:

      You’re spot on Sydney – you’ve expressed the situation that we’ve all found ourselves in so eloquently.

  6. Alex says:

    Love this post! And the first picture is just stunning.

  7. Izy says:

    dear God I think we all were waiting for that someone to say everything that was said in that Guardian article!!! As someone who’s studied some basic, generalised science behind nutrition it makes me SO mad when I see words like ‘antioxidant’ being used to promote everything nowadays. To be honest I think most sensible people are sick of this whole health fad situation with ‘gurus’ promoting cutting out whole macronutrients from your diet. I could go ON and ON about this (and have wanted to on my blog too, so I’m incredibly happy to see you writing about it) but I’m waiting until I get my nutrition degree so I can have lots of facts to help back me up :D Generally I think that everyone needs to have a basic, nutritional education so that they can catch the bullshit out.

    Anywhooo… I’ve also got Amy’s lovely book and am smitten with it! It’s such a great collection of wholesome recipes without the ‘faddy’ side of things.

    P.S It’s funny you should say that about G&L too – my friends and I noticed that as soon as we were out in the ‘real world’ things like ‘oh wow not every single teenage girl’s legs are thinner than my arms’.

    • kathryn says:

      There are many, many wonderful things about G&L but promoting a healthy attitude towards food/body image is not generally one of them. It definitely took me a while to shake off those feelings (and realise that, in the real world, nobody really gives a shit about the size of your thighs).

  8. I love chia pudding so much. I definitely need to try this!

  9. Kasey says:

    I’ve been really wanting to experiment with chia, too — I just bought a baggie of black chia seeds from a local co-op. Wellness has been really important to me, too, and I find that when I’m eating well, I’m feeling well.

    • kathryn says:

      I love chia seeds – I throw them in everything I bake pretty much. I figure they can’t do me any harm!

  10. I hadn’t even thought of before what our world would have been like for us in high school/college had a “wellness movement” such as this existed (amongst all the other technology). Working with adolescents, I do see, though, what a minefield of information they have at their fingertips that I never had to deal with at that age. Thanks for sharing the Guardian article.

    Chia pudding is one of my breakfast go-to’s as well; so very excited to try it with cashews and coconut oil!

    • kathryn says:

      You must have such an interesting perspective on this given the work you do – I am eternally relieved that the internet when I was growing up consisted of a few chat rooms and the odd online encyclopedia!

  11. You have me sold. I need this book. And adding cashews to this chia pudding might just be the thing that gets me to try it! I’ve tried similar chia deserts in the past and am always left hungry, but this sounds much more filling! Thank you for sharing how wonderful this book is, I think I need to move it from my Amazon “wish list” to the “cart” now ;)

    • kathryn says:

      This book is right up your street Jessie – I think you’ll love it. The last few days I’ve had ‘regular’ chia pudding without the cashews/coconut oil and it definitely doesn’t have as much staying power.

  12. Justine says:

    Beautiful and inspiring!! That looks like a great book to pick up and will check it out now! Thanks!

  13. Jennie says:

    I completely agree with every suspicion about the ‘wellness’ movement. Not that I don’t agree we need to be generally healthier. There’s a lot to be said for generally making better choices about what we eat. I know I for more can defiantly feel the difference in my healthy, energy and mood when I eat a diet that contains more vegetables, fruit and lean proteins. BUT the problem I have with the ‘wellness’ bloggers and the sort of information they provide, is that they suggest a very faddy way of living where certain foods are miracle foods, and others are the devil. Living healthily seems to have turned into a big competition played out on Instagram.
    The recipes in Amy’s book sound delicious, and more importantly they sound like proper, rounded meals, rather than just a list of trend foods thrown together on a plate! I love the look of the chia pudding too.

    Jennie // Scarletscorchdroppers

    x

    • kathryn says:

      “A list of trend foods thrown together on a plate” – YES! I swear that I can predict half the dishes on my instagram before I even open the app.

  14. Sini says:

    I agree on everything you said in this post, Kathryn! Amy’s book is a gem; approachable, delicious, gorgeous, and informative. A book for every occasion, really.
    I must say that I’ve never had chia pudding – so late on the game! However, the recipe caught my eye immediately and I’ve been dying to give it a go. After reading your thoughts about it, I really can’t wait to make this breakfast goodness! xo

    • kathryn says:

      You’re so right – it really is a book for every occasion. There’s so much that I want to make from it. There’s another chia recipe in there (the peach one) which I’m dying to try as well!

  15. Erica says:

    I’ve never tried chia pudding because I’ve heard so many mixed reviews, but this one sounds good, and I’ll have to give it a go since it sounds so refreshing in this hot summer.
    And I feel like what you said about wellness blogs is so true – in my short time blogging I’ve noticed that the blogs I’m drawn to are the ones that stay true to the blogger, whether it’s with “healthier” ingredients or not! I feel like too often these wellness blogs are somewhat gimmick-y since dieting and skinniness are incredibly emphasized in society.

    • kathryn says:

      It is a bit of an acquired texture but I really like how customisable chia pudding is and it’s a great vehicle for whatever fruits/nuts/seeds I have on hand.

  16. Natalia says:

    This book is one of my favourite! Love the recipes, and everything around them in this book!
    I have already tried several, they are not only delicious but so damn healthy!
    Your 1st picture looks so good!

    • kathryn says:

      Thanks Natalia – I can tell that I’m going to be cooking from Amy’s book for years and years. I’ve got so many recipes bookmarked already!

  17. The Guardian article made a lot of good points about wellness bloggers overall. It’s a shame that people like Belle Gibson give a bad name to anyone who’s genuinely interested in healthy food and sharing it through blogging. Personally, I think “wellness” blogging is innocuous until the writer overrepresents their knowledge or exploits their readers. Promoting healthy eating is definitely not a bad thing…. but when a blogger gives out false or misrepresentative information, or is not open with their lack of scientific background, that’s when the problems can occur.

    • kathryn says:

      I absolutely agree that promoting healthy eating is a good thing – I guess my concern is when it goes beyond healthy eating for its own sake and starts to over-promise about how drinking bone broth (or whatever) will give you the perfect, pinterest-worthy life.

  18. Skye says:

    Oooh this looks heavenly, Kathryn! And thank you for pointing me in the direction of the Guardian article – a really interesting read and quite thought provoking. Have you seen Amelia Freer’s book (Eat Nourish Glow)? I have it and have cooked quite a few lovely recipes from it – she is a practicing nutritionist and has an interesting approach to wellness and food. Thought you might like it. Hope that you’re enjoying a little rest tho summer before the wedding madness starts in earnest! Xx

    • kathryn says:

      I actually picked up Eat Nourish Glow last week in Waterstones and was going to buy it but I was worried that it would be too faddy – it’s good to hear that you’re a fan though and it definitely deserves another look on my part!

  19. cynthia says:

    Your words are always so thoughtfully written and so insightful, Kathryn — thank you so much for sharing, and for sharing this heavenly chia pudding! This reminds me that it’s been too too long since I’ve had any (especially that close-up shot of the chia, which makes it look so velvety and dreamy and pretty much like a sea I’d like to float in forever!) Beautiful all-around.

  20. This was the first recipe I tried from Amy’s book and (like everything I’ve made), I loved it. Hers was a quick favourite and, of the slightly obscene number of cookbooks around my home, is definitely the most-used. I’ve starting giving it as gifts because it’s just so wonderful. Just last night I made her sauerkraut, and that quinoa and roasted veg salad with harissa is on my list for the weekend!

    • kathryn says:

      It’s a great book for gifting I think – everything is so delicious and approachable and it can really change people’s attitude towards eating well I think.

  21. Betty says:

    Kathryn, thank you so much for that article – it needed to be said!! This post is so beautifully written – I really enjoyed reading it. And this chia pudding looks amazing. I just hopped on over from Sini’s site and you two have convinced me to go and buy this book :)

  22. Hi Kathryn,
    I just found your blog. I love your voice and your recipes look great. As far as I can tell, with all the “wellness blogs” no one seems any well-er. I think the biggest problem the genre faces is that it focuses on advice rather than strengthening individuals to learn what is right for themselves. What is healthy for me might be the opposite of what is healthy for you. It is so popular to want a prescription. To want the fix-it technique or perfect food or whatever. If there were such a magical product or technique then everyone would use it. It seems that the last place we look for guidance is to ourselves and it is the only place I ever find any answers.
    I’ll have to try this chia pudding, although it will probably take me months to work up to it. The thought of giving up my peanut butter toast breakfast takes months of preparation :-)

    • kathryn says:

      Hello to another Kathryn! I’m excited to check out you blog : )

      You’re point about nobody ever seeming any “well-er” is something that concerns me a lot too and the fact that it takes the power away from us to make the right decisions for ourselves.

  23. Abby says:

    This pudding looks delicious, Kathryn!

    I so agree – there’s a very fine line between taking care of your body, and harming it with disordered eating/exercising patterns. But if done right (which, honestly, is a very rare thing nowadays) it can be so beneficial. Love this post of yours. <3

    • kathryn says:

      Thanks Abby – I was super interested to hear your view on this. I worry sometimes that it’s almost impossible to find that balance between the two but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t something that we should try to do ourselves and try to encourage others to find.

  24. This chia pudding looks soooooo delicious! I can’t wait to dig my spoon into a BIG bowl of this ;) Thanks for sharing! :D

  25. I eat ingredients and produce that makes me feel good, and if it is low-fat, it is low-fat not due to the labelling, but because, it well just is! So I understand your wellness sentiments, and this pudding looks amazing, my kind of dessert and one that would make me feel good! Karen

  26. I am all about wellness, but something that really bothers me is when people seem to understand wellness in its most shallow sense- which looking great, but not taking the time to figure out what works best for them and how they feel mentally and emotionally. Wellness should be about nourishment and enjoyment, and I don’t see anything well in extreme restriction. The IIN also bothers me because I looked into their program once and it honestly just seemed like they compiled a bunch of web resources about every single fad diet ever into online seminars- it’s nothing like what you would learn during the course of an actual nutritional/health science degree, which involves aspects of biology and chemistry. And I am so tired of being berated by random people for eating nuts, avocados, and fruits for being too high in fat and sugars. Anyway, this chia pudding sounds wonderful- I love Amy’s book and blog! Her recipes have never failed me. I have never met her, but reading her book, I got the sense that she is just a lovely human being who radiates peace and sunshine!

  27. I am probably more in the “wellness blogger” camp than the “eat whatever I want” camp, but I totally think that happened organically, as my diet and taste changed. I read quite a few wellness blogs, and I read quite a few un-wellness like blogs, and I enjoy them all, but I take all advice on the wellness blogs with a grain of salt, and I pretty much stopped giving it myself because there is just so much misinformation out there that I don’t want to perpetuate. At the end of the day, I love pretty photos and good writing, wellness or no wellness! But I won’t hop on the latest diet craze, because it just doesn’t work for me.
    Amy’s book is incredible. It is one of my new favorites. She does such beautiful work!

  28. I’m so happy to have discovered your blog, Kathryn! And what a great, well-written post. Food trends and diets come and go because there will always be people out there who want to believe in them. I say: everything in moderation!

    I have had Amy’s book on my Amazon wish list for a few months now, hoping my husband will buy it for me soon :) This beautiful pudding makes me want the book even more!

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