Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Fruit On The Bottom Yogurt

My family has always enjoyed yogurt, particularly, the fruit on the bottom kind. For the past year or so, I have made a conscious choice to buy organic (would love to find grass fed too, but that is not to be). Sadly, the organic yogurt carried at my grocery store offers only a few flavours, of which, only one is liked by my daughter and it is the already stirred kind.  In order to stop the yogurt flavour boredom from which my family is suffering, I decided to try my hand at my own fruit on the bottom yogurt, and I must say, I am pleased with the results.

So why should I make my own fruit on the bottom yogurt?
  • I can serve organic yogurt
  • I can guarantee that the fruit on the bottom is more fruit than fruit flavoured "gel"
  • I can eliminate the refined sugar 
  • I can control the amount of sugar
  • I can prepare the flavours that my family loves, so nothing goes to waste 
  • I can minimize the single serving waste because I use 125 ml canning jars and reusable lids.

I think this is a win-win especially since it is easy to do and doesn't take much time.

When I started thinking about how to make this, I knew I didn't want to use the refined white sugar to sweeten the fruit or the yogurt. This meant, I would have to use honey or maple syrup resulting in a thinned down the yogurt. In the past, I have made a cornstarch or arrowroot thickened fruit sauces and sweetened with a little maple syrup which was excellent on pancakes or spread on toast.  Sadly, the starch method would not be an option to thicken the yogurt. Hmmm! Thinking cap back on and then the AHA moment!

Drumroll please... Enter my favourite plant based thickener... Chia seeds - weird, wonderful, are amazing!  They thicken milk for chia seed pudding; when mixed with water, they can be substituted for eggs in baking; they can thicken fruits to create chia seed jams. With all this thickening power, I decided they would be a perfect ingredient; and let's not forget the nutritional punch chia seeds bring to the party.  Yes, we have chia seeds for the win!

So far I have made 2 flavours: blueberry and mixed fruit.  For my blueberry flavour, I used fresh blueberries because we had just been picking. For the mixed berry version, I used frozen berries that came in a raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, and blueberry mix from the grocery store. I also varied the preparation of the fruit jams to see how they would perform with the yogurt. My blueberry jam was cooked and my mixed fruit jam was a raw chia seed jam.  Spoiler alert... BOTH methods worked perfectly!

Today I am going to share my blueberry flavour. I will post the mixed fruit recipe next time!

For the blueberry jam, I used an excellent recipe for Magical Blueberry Vanilla Chia Seed Jam by Oh She Glows. I mentioned that I used fresh berries this time, but I've made this before using frozen ones. The jam turns out beautifully both ways. I let the jam sit overnight because I actually made the jam to have on hand for toast. It was serendipitous that I had it in the fridge when I got the brainstorm to use it in my fruit on the bottom yogurt!

1 recipe  Magical Blueberry Vanilla Chia Seed Jam (save the leftovers for toast or pancakes!)

2 cups plain organic yogurt, I prefer a 2.5% fat content for creaminess. 
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp chia seeds** 

Mix the plain yogurt with the maple syrup and chia seeds well.

Put 1 tablespoon of the blueberry jam  in the bottom of the jar.  I used 6 each 125 ml canning jam jars (1/2 cup) with the canning lids and screw bands. Spread it to cover the bottom evenly.  If you like a little more fruit filling, you can add a little more. Cover the fruit with the prepared yogurt and put the canning lids on and store in the fridge for at least 2 hours so that the yogurt thickens up.

**NOTE:  If you use more maple syrup in your yogurt, you may need to add a few more chia seeds.

These are the perfect size for a packed lunch or snack. The containers are reusable and inexpensive to buy. I like to make a bunch up on the weekend for the upcoming week. Please let me know what you think. If blueberry isn't your thing, watch for my next post to get the mixed fruit recipe!  

Monday, 13 July 2015

Green Smoothies - Breakfast of Champions!

Last year I did a post about breakfast cookies and green smoothies. I was happy to tell everyone that breakfast could be easy and quite portable if necessary. I still adore the breakfast cookies, but I have to say green smoothies have been my go to weekday breakfast since I took a temporary full time job. They are fast and easy to make. They pack an excellent nutritional punch and can be consumed right away or taken to go. Win - Win - Win I say!

I am not big on breakfast first thing in the morning and certainly not at 7 AM. Instead, I try to start my day with a warm lemon water which has great health benefits. Half of a fresh squeezed lemon, a 1-1/2 cups filtered water and topped with 1/2 cup boiled water provides me with a good start to achieving my daily requirements of vitamin C, helps to promote a healthy digestion system, and is a tasty way (once your taste buds get used to it!) to get some water into the bod after 8 hours of sleep! As a side note, lemons are acidic and can be hard on tooth enamel so I usually drink my lemon water out of a straw... just in case. While I am drinking my lemon water, I make our lunches for the day and blend a green smoothie for 2 to tuck into our lunch bags (my favourite way to transport is in a 500 ml mason jar with the canning lids). Later in the morning, around 9:30/10:00 am my tummy is ready to welcome the green smoothie breakfast I packed in my lunch bag. My husband quite enjoys his as a mid morning snack since he likes his cereal first thing.

Over the past several months, I have perfected my version of the green smoothie. I think it has the perfect amount of sweetness. When my daughter was home for a visit, I got a two thumbs up too. This smoothie recipe can be made in a regular blender but it reached new heights of healthy decadence in my Vita-mix!

When I started blending smoothies, green or fruity, I had a heck of a time not ending up with a blend full of smoothie big enough to feed a small army. Finding the right quantities  and proportions for the ingredients was key, after all, there is only so much smoothie one can drink at one time. Sometimes my smoothie was so thick that I had to thin it down with more liquids or the too thin so I would add more fruit/greens. Before you knew it, my blender jar was overflowing.  Not a good thing! Now after several years of smoothie making, I have managed to eyeball the fruit/greens ratio to liquids so I can consistently make a smoothie for 1, 2, or 3.

My recipe for my favourite green smoothie is pretty consistent in yielding essentially two 500 ml mason jars, the perfect size for breakfast or a mid morning/afternoon snack. This recipe is based on my blender jar which is 64 ounces when I measure out the spinach. If your blender jar is smaller, you may want to add a handful or 2 more greens once you've reached the 1/3 mark. You can also use a little more or less maple syrup too, depending on your taste. I find that if my pineapple is nice and sweet and my banana is quite ripe, I need only 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup.



Fill your blender jar about 1/3 full of baby spinach, organic please, and gently packed
1 slice 3/4" or 1" thick pineapple ring, fresh or fresh frozen; not canned
2 Tbsp hemp hearts
1 medium/large banana, preferably with many brown spots (I keep a stash in my freezer)
1 medium avocado
2-3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 to 1 1/2 cups milk of your choice (dairy or non), a little more depending on personal preference.


Add the ingredients to you blender in the order given.  Start with 1 cup of the milk.

Blend on high, stopping if necessary to scrape down the sides and make sure the ingredients blend.

Add the remainder of the milk as necessary. Continue to blend on high until your smoothie is smooth. You may wish to add a little more milk at this point if you prefer your smoothies less thick.

Pour into drinking vessels of choice. I like using the 500 ml wide mouth mason jars with the canning lids if I am taking my smoothie to go!

Substitutions and Options

Hemp seed can be substituted for 2 heaping tablespoons of almond butter or peanut butter 

Spinach can be mixed with some kale, for my tastes, I would only switch out about a handful because kale has a strong flavour. Typically, I use more spinach than kale, but if you like the "extra green flavour", add more kale than spinach.

Maple syrup can be subbed with a good quality raw honey, local if you can get it.

No milk, no problem - cold filtered water or cold green tea will work too!


When fresh cored and peeled pineapple is on sale, I buy a bunch and then slice it. I then lay the slices on a cookie sheet lined with a silpat sheet and freeze the rings. Once frozen, I transfer them to a freezer bag.

As Kermit the Frog says... "it's not easy being green"! This green smoothie is creamy, tasty and an excellent start to your day OR as my husband can attest, it is also a great mid morning snack. This is truly a guilt free pleasure any time of day!