Sweet Berry Chia Seed Pudding

At the end of last year, I decided to make a few lifestyle changes. I started training regularly (shout out to HIIT classes!), incorporated more activity throughout my day, and became stricter with my sleep schedule (still working on this one!) And the changes started to come! I’m more focused, happier, and fitter than I’ve been in a while.

A major part of this lifestyle change has been changing the way eat. I have a weakness for sour and gummy candies – Sour Patch Kids, Lemonheads, sour straws, you name it. In fact, the last guy I dated took me to a candy shop for our first date and let me GO HAM because I loved candy that much!

So dilemma: what does a girl eat eat when she is 1) a serial candy nosher  2) who wants to nourish her body and take care of herself  3) but can’t get rid of her sweet tooth?

The answer is you don’t. I still eat my candy, but I’ve found alternatives to incorporate in my diet. This Sweet Berry Chia Seed Pudding uses all natural sweetness to knock out those cravings! I usually prep it the night before (#studentlife) so that in the morning, I just need to toss in some fresh fruit and drizzle a bit of honey and I’m good to go. An added bonus is that it’s packed with fiber – 20 grams! – which makes it the perfect post-workout snack!

Sweet Berry Chia Seed Pudding

 

 

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup of plain, full-fat Greek yogurt (10 g of protein): I prefer plain yogurt because it doesn’t contain added sugar. Opt for “full-fat” because “non-fat” has extra chemicals (read: sweeteners) that replace the fat. Also, full-fat yogurt keeps you fuller for longer!
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 cup of chia seeds (10 g of protein)
  • Berries of choice: I like frozen blueberries and fresh strawberries, sliced into coins. Pro-tip: If you use fresh strawberries, don’t cut and use them until right before you eat. This helps preserve their antioxidants!
  • Honey
  • Salt
  • Optional add-ins: hemp seeds (I love using these for added protein!), nuts, goji berries
    • Note: If you do use these additional ingredients, add a bit more almond milk to your mixture.

 

Steps:

  • Mix the yogurt, almond milk, chia seeds, and any other add-ins in a container with a lid. Stir until the yogurt and seeds are evenly distributed throughout the mixture. Add the frozen fruit on top of the mixture (they will thaw out while your mixture chills).
  • Keep your mixture in the fridge for 4-6 hours but preferably overnight.
  • Before enjoying, drizzle a bit of honey and sprinkle some salt.

 

It’s berry easy to make and serve! Your sweet tooth – and summer bod – will thank you!

— Amanda Cordero

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Italy Part 1: Rome

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It’s been a long time coming, but here is my Italy Travel Diary from this past summer! I spent a month shadowing a professor at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, but also got to thoroughly enjoy Rome and visit some of my favorite cities. Italy is such a beautiful country and I’m so lucky to have spent the last three summers traveling there. The first two years I did quite a lot of traveling going from the south of France – look for a post on that in the future! – down through Paestum. This year, however, I got to truly live in the suburbs of Rome and experience the city like a true Roman – or as true as an American Chinese girl can get.

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I spent the majority of the month alone – a few friends dropped in here and there – so it had the possibility of getting very lonely if it weren’t for the fact that Italians love to talk. I rented an AirBnB, which was absolutely lovely. The hosts, Chiara and Francesca, were incredibly hospitable and helpful. The apartment was set up rather like a Manhattan loft, small and efficient. There was a loft area for the bed, which was nice, but it was SO SHORT. I’m rather tall for a gal, but I had to well and truly bend over at the waist to walk around up there. If I had a penny for every time I hit my head on that ceiling… That minor inconvenience aside it was absolutely lovely. (Fair warning, though, Italians are rather adverse to air-conditioning and it can get quite hot!)

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I spent a large amount of the month in and around the Vatican as I did a bit of research there. The Basilica itself is so beautiful and restful, especially in the early mornings before the throngs of tourists arrive. Even then it is exciting and contagious to be around the pilgrims and visitors, all singing and happy to be there. 7 am, though, when the doors first open is the best time to arrive. It’s so very quiet and the light is more direct as it shines through the front doors and the windows. All you can hear is footsteps and the soft sounds of morning masses led in many different languages all at once in all the chapels.

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In quite stark contrast to the Vatican is the city itself. From 5am-1am it the city is bustling and busy and loud.  There are a million places to eat and get coffee and gelato. Watch out for the street vendors, they are very friendly and very insistent. Some are quite entertaining.

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My fondest memories of Rome involve gelato. Gelato alone. Gelato with friends. Dropping gelato on myself. Dropping gelato on someone else. Spending far too much on gelato in Florence. The list goes on. I am perfectly happy in almost any gelato store – minus the tourist traps with heaped up, non-melting, imposter gelato – but my favorite places in Rome are: Giolitti’s, Old Bridge, and Fatamorgana Nemorense. Giolitti’s is a massive experience. It’s tourist heavy, but if you can get in at a good hour you can sit down with amazing gelato in a gold-gilded room. Old Bridge is a hole-in-the-wall American-friendly shop. There are no seat, but you get a huge amount of excellent gelato for quite cheap. Fatamorgana is a chain, but a remarkably good one. It’s a neighborhood-shop and boasts flavors like peaches and wine (amazing!), basil honey and walnut, and figs with lavender!

 

The absolute best part of Rome, however, is the history. As someone who studies classical history and literature, the monuments and ruins around Rome are absolutely breathtaking. It’s a surreal experience to walk on the roads that authors and figures I’ve read about walked on thousands of years ago. The Colosseum is breathtaking and for once the crowds of tourists add to the experience, recreating what it must have felt like to be there as a Roman. The Forums are stunning and the Palatine – though a hike – provides a magnificent view of the rest of Rome. An added bonus: the cats wandering all over the city, sitting in temples like they are the kings and queens of Rome. And who’s to say they aren’t?

 

Every time I come back from Rome I miss it immediately. I miss the food and the gelato and the sounds. I miss the buzzing atmosphere and the laughing and warm people. All I can say is: Arrivederci, Roma, a presto!