Monday, June 16, 2014

Frugal Food: Peanut Butter and Chia Energy Snack

On Sunday, I spent some time with my father for Father's Day and he taught me a great little trick for a very quick and healthy snack.

Peanut butter and peanut butter covered in chia seeds.
The weather was beautiful, so we decided to go out canoeing in the early afternoon. My brother had been canoeing with our father the week before, which made me jealous, so it was great that the weather was perfect and we could go. We paddled downstream to the old gristmill, and turned before getting too close to the drop. Then we headed back the other way and paddled upstream where we saw a few heron, scared some small ducks, and saw a beautiful red-winged blackbird.

Before we left for our little adventure, my father realized I hadn't had lunch, so he offered me a spoon, and asked if I like chia seeds. I've been enjoying chia seeds in all sorts of ways (one of my favorites is a fake tapioca pudding -- they have just the right amount of gel texture to work), so I told him I did, and he turned to pull a jar of peanut butter out of the refrigerator.

There was no need to ask if I like peanut butter -- my whole family knows (natural) peanut butter is my true love when it comes to food. I'll take processed peanut butter if I must, but there is nothing like the taste of real peanut butter. When we were kids, a few natural peanut butter jars could be found on store shelves if one looked, but because it's so much more fun to "make" it oneself, my father would bring us to the only store in the area that had a machine to grind peanuts, where my brother and I would get to alternate being the one who pulled the lever of the grinder. Whenever I see the big machines at grocery stores now, I remember how much fun it always was, and cannot stop myself from getting some of that fresh ground yummy peanut butter.

Chia seeds, however, are not something we ate growing up. For those who haven't jumped on the chia seed cheerleading squad, they are the little seeds so many of us were fascinated by as kids when we pasted them onto Chia Pets and watched them grow into a green "fur." For years, that's all I knew of them, but as it turns out, they are incredibly healthy. And as I do remember from my terracotta animal, the small, hard seeds expand with a gel-like exterior when wet, so only a small amount needs to be added to a recipe to reap the health benefits and feel full, which makes them a good frugal food as well.

image from here
Since peanut butter and chia seeds are both great for a little extra energy, my father created this gluten-free snack and had me give it a try before our canoe outing. He took the spoon, dipped just the tip into the peanut butter, and then dipped that into his jar of chia seeds. I thought the peanut butter would leave traces behind in the chia seeds, but they stick so well that the spoon emerged covered in tiny dots, and without leaving a bit of the peanut butter behind. He said if I needed a second bite I could just wash the spoon and repeat the process.

It was so good, so quick, and just the energy I needed to paddle upstream. Enough, in fact, to make the extra effort up to where my brother had jumped in the water the week before and sawed away part of a tree that had fallen into the river and was blocking the flow. I'm glad I got to see his handiwork -- and I bet the ducks floating downstream will enjoy his work too.

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