Breakfast, Dessert, Nosh, Recent Eats
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Ovenbird’s First Flight: No-Cook Chia Pudding

For some time now I’ve been toying with the idea of a plant-based food blog. I already write (fitfully) a blog about, well, stuff, but mainly about writing and nature, called Thoughts Like Birds. In one post about cozy mysteries, my love of home-cooked comfort food was revealed: I featured a recipe for dahl that has received rigorous and repeated taste-testing in the Thoughts Like Birds kitchen. This past weekend, while browsing the wonderful Healthy Slow Cooking blog, I discovered that September is Vegan Mofo–a NaNoWriMo-esque month of intensive vegan food blogging. While it was too late to register for the 2014 Vegan Mofo, I decided to take it as a sign that it was an auspicious time to launch Ovenbird.

So what’s it all about, this new blog? Pretty, pleasing, plant-based eating that’s not too hard on the wallet or the watch. I work full-time and have a young child and an elderly dog to look after, and in my “free” time I blog and write fiction and creative nonfiction. I want to make time to make delicious, healthy, home-cooked meals while being realistic about time constraints and the challenge of getting my vegetable-phobic kid to eat a variety of whole foods. Also, I like to eat delicious, home-cooked meals, especially savory comfort foods. And then I like to take pictures of said foods and post them to Facebook, to the delight or, more likely, annoyance of my friends. And then I like to complain about my kid not eating them. So I thought I would give my friends a break and marry my hobbies (is that legal in this state?)–blogging and cooking and taking bad iPhone photos of food and complaining–and voilà, Ovenbird was hatched.

Most of the recipes featured here will be by other people–my aim is to try them out and report back on what works, and, of course, enjoy the results. The first featured recipe, Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding from Domesticate Me, is the epitome of simplicity. Never tried chia pudding? First, let me affirm that we are talking about that kind of chia, but chia is so much more than the seeds of a novelty gift. It’s perhaps an acquired taste, sort of like crunchy tapioca. I’d looked askance at chia-laden products until one day, wishing for a prepared vegan tapioca, I grabbed a Chia Pod from my grocer’s dairy aisle. Not bad, I thought. I liked the vanilla version, but the product was a little pricey and heavily packaged, so I resisted buying Chia Pods on a regular basis. Then one day recently I bought a small bag of chia seeds in the bulk section at my local Whole Foods, with the vague notion of adding them to my morning oatmeal. The seeds sat on the counter untouched until I came across Domesticate Me’s chia seed pudding recipe. The recipe uses almond milk, with maple syrup for sweetener; the first time around I substituted agave for maple syrup (out of necessity) and it worked just fine. I made a batch before bedtime and when I awoke the next morning I was greeted by a nicely gelled bowl of gently sweetened chia pudding, perfect for a quick and fruity breakfast. For a chocolately version, check out this Chocolate Chia Pudding from FatFree Vegan. I’ll confess, I got cheeky and tried mixing chia seed with chocolate soy milk straight up, with no other ingredients. Not quite as elegant as FatFree Vegan’s chocolate chia pudding, but it will do in a pinch.

Since that first bowl of vanilla chia pudding, I’m a chia convert. Chia seeds supposedly are full of healthful omega-3 fatty acids, among other beneficial nutrients, but I don’t really care about that. Homemade chia seed pudding is fast, easy, tasty, and not terribly expensive.* It also has, I think, a great “mouthfeel,” if you’re into that sort of thing. And chia seeds are versatile–use them jazz up your oatmeal, sprinkle on a salad, or thicken up drinks, like this chia nog from FatFree Vegan.

Oh, and then there’s the literary aspect of Ovenbird. As I mentioned, I blog about writing, nature, and other odd topics over at Thoughts Like Birds. Ovenbird is meant to be a companion blog to Thoughts Like Birds, but you won’t find much about writing here. Think of it more as a virtual book club–just good food, good conversation, and hopefully, good company. Comments are welcome and encouraged.

In future posts, I’ll be a bit more balanced, with roughly equal parts eating and reading. For now, it seems fitting to leave you with the poem “The Oven Bird,” by Robert Frost.

*I bought .62 pounds of organic chia seeds for $7.43 ($11.99 per pound), which has made about 3 bowls, or 12 servings of pudding, so far, and I still have enough left for another couple of bowls. Assuming I get at least one more bowl, that’s about $.46 a serving for the seeds, plus the cost of the almond milk, maple syrup, and vanilla. An individual Chia Pod of about the same serving size retails for around $3.33 or higher.

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