Can I go ahead and say something out loud here? It is never a good idea to diet in winter. It’s cold, and all I want is warm, comforting, hearty food.
The hubby and I have tried to have the best intentions on doing a “halfway” Whole30/paleo diet. Even though the Whole30 gurus would shriek and moan that we’re doing it wrong, our social calendar presented the biggest problem the last time we faced 30 whole days without any refined sugar, alcohol, dairy, grains or soy. Sure, we’re not celebrities and people aren’t beating down our door looking for us seven days a week, but you know how it is. There’s always a birthday party or a dinner or a play date, and I really, really dislike going to someone’s house to be the jerk who can’t eat anything and has to explain why. In trying to be physically healthier, I’m emotionally tormented by not being able to happily.
That’s why I was pretty thrilled earlier this week when I got the idea to mix my chia pudding base (one can of coconut milk + 1/4 cup chia seeds) with Indian flavors that resemble a carrot halwa, or rice pudding. Not only did this Indian carrot halwa chia pudding blend fantastically, it was a nice, different spin on chia pudding, which I mercilessly choke down when I’m trying to eat healthier. I like chia pudding because it’s filling, but I don’t love constantly just throwing random fruit and nuts into it. It gets old really fast, especially when my body is hollowed and empty from the carbs and sugar I used to fill it with.
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Carrot halwa is basically a rice pudding mixed with grated carrots, ground cardamom and simple sugar syrup. If you’ve ever frequented an Indian lunch buffet (I’m guilty as charged over here, man), it’s frequently the milky dessert sitting at the end of the buffet line. Secretly, I love carrot halwa, because it’s one of the few Indian desserts that I don’t find cloyingly sweet. Because I’m trying to avoid refined sugar, I eliminated the sugar syrup from my version and added pistachios, golden raisins and sliced, lightly toasted almonds. The result is a crunchy, slightly sweet, filling breakfast that feels exotic.
As for how we’re dealing with the social aspect of Whole30 — well, we’re not, really, at least not when we’re out of the house. Basically I’m as careful as I can be not to mindlessly snack at parties or to eat too much “junk,” but it’s just too hard to stare at a plate of tortilla chips and to not sneak a bite after I use one of said chips to toast one of my friends about our good fortune (or lack thereof; I didn’t win Powerball). I’m not painting my face in queso or weeping into a bowl of hot fudge, but I’m also just not preventing delicious things from falling into my mouth here and there. Purists of Whole30 would say that I need to start the 30 days over or at least beg for forgiveness, probably.
But I’m not starting over. I know I’m not reaping all the benefits that I did the first time we did Whole30, when we did stick rigidly to the plan. We’re basically just trying to eat healthier at home (grain free, dairy free and sugar/sweetener free) so that we can justify the delicious, unhealthy foods when we’re out. And isn’t that what eating healthier is about, anyway? Moderation and conscious, better choices?
I hope so, because if it’s not, then my late-night moaning session about feeling “empty inside” was all for naught.
- 1 can full-fat (not light) coconut milk (Thai Kitchen or Whole Foods brand only; other brands tend to make pudding that's too chunky or watery)
- ¼ cup chia seeds
- 2 medium carrots, peeled, grated and divided
- 2 tablespoons pistachios, shelled and divided
- 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, divided
- 4 tablespoons golden raisins, divided
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- Pour coconut milk into a medium bowl and whisk vigorously, making sure that the coconut milk, if it separated while in the can, is thoroughly mixed together.
- Fold in chia seeds. Add 1 grated carrot, 1 tablespoon pistachios, 1 tablespoon almonds and 2 tablespoons golden raisins. Sprinkle cardamom over the coconut milk mixture and stir gently to incorporate everything. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- In the morning, remove the chia pudding from the refrigerator. Add the remaining grated carrot, pistachios, almonds and raisins and eat immediately.