Strawberry Chocolate Chia Pudding

Chocolate Strawberry Chia Pudding

If you asked me, “what is the one food you would bring to a desert island?” I would answer: Strawberries. I love strawberries more than any other nourriture out there. Whenever I go grocery shopping, my fiancé will often lose me for a few minutes, only find me standing in the produce department, holding a container of berries, simply inhaling the glorious smell.

I Heart Strawberries!

I Heart Strawberries!

When the fiancé and I started dating, I would visit his mom’s place and join them for dinner. She is an incredible cook, and always had a feast laid out that would make a king envious. After a few visits, she noticed I wasn’t eating very much. My fiancé finally cracked and told her that I don’t eat cheese, that I detest cheese. Being Italian-American, a good part of her meals were oozing with cheeses of all kinds. She had a whole shelf devoted to cheese alone in her fridge. So she asked him, “what does she like to eat?” He replied simply, “Strawberries.” And so the next time I visited, she handed me a great big, Costco-sized bowl of sliced strawberries, a fork and told me that I wont go hungry that night! She has kept it a tradition that every time I visit, she always makes sure to stock up on the strawberries. I think I won the MIL lottery!

So this brings me to the pudding recipe. I was craving chocolate dipped strawberries, but had just finished off the fresh berries the night before. I have frozen strawberries stocked in the freezer always, but those don’t exactly make the best ‘dipping’ strawberries… I had tried making chia pudding before, with limited success, and thought I would give it another go. Blending the chia seeds sped up the gelling process by over double for me, and it also solved the ‘texture’ issue I had with the whole seeds.

Sparkling Frozen Strawberries

The frost on these made them look like they had been dusted with glitter

This was rich and delicious, and just as satisfying as a chocolate dipped strawberry. I saved the last bit for the morning, and had it over a bowl of oatmeal, for an incredibly decadent breakfast!

Strawberry Chocolate Chia Pudding

Inspired by Chocolate Chia Pudding by Susan Voison

  • 1 cup milk of choice (I used almond milk)
  • 3 Tbs chia seeds
  • 1.5 Tbs cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
  • 2-3 drops liquid stevia OR
    1-2 Tbs sweetener, to taste
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries or other fruit of choice

Place all ingredients except berries into a blender. Blend on high for about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides so that all the chia seeds have a chance to absorb liquid. Let sit for about 30 minutes, pulsing at least once to break up any clumps. After the chia has thickened, add frozen fruit and blend on high until smooth.

Serves 3, 1/2 cup servings.

Almond Joy Nut Butter

Almond Joy Nut Butter

Tied up pretty and ready to be gifted!

Growing up, each member of my family had their favorite candy bar. My brother liked Twix bars, I was a nerds loving fiend, my mom coveted Salted Nut Rolls, and my father inhaled Mounds bars, although he said he would prefer Almond Joy if they just used dark chocolate. My tastes have changed over the years, and while I still could eat a box of nerds in one sitting, I now usually prefer the much healthier dark chocolate.

After making a coconut butter and banana sandwich with cocoa powder sprinkled on it, I’ve had the idea for this nut butter floating around in my head. I wanted it to taste like my father’s dream version of Almond Joy, with lots of coconut and rich dark chocolate. When I got invited to a friend’s birthday party, I figured this was the perfect chance to try it out!

Almond Joy Nut Butter

Making this nut butter couldn’t be simpler. First, toast the almonds until they are hot and fragrant. Don’t cool the almonds, because their heat will help melt the chocolate and make everything blend smoothly. Place the almonds, coconut flakes and chocolate into the blender and blend on low. The mixture will first look like nut meal.

Almonds, Chocolate and Coconut

Chopped Almonds, Chocolate and Coconut

Scrape down the sides, packing the mixture down each time. Continue blending on low until it begins to liquify. Blend on high until smooth. Add brown sugar to taste. It was so difficult to part with this, but I only allowed myself a few bites. I will definitely be making this again to keep! And since I’m on a roll, I think I may need to try a nut butter version of the salted nut roll…

Almond Joy Nut Butter

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1.75 oz dark chocolate (about 1/2 of a Trader Joe’s 3.5oz chocolate bar) OR
    1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbs brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread almonds on baking sheet and bake almonds for 10-12 minutes, stirring halfway though. Roast until almonds become fragrant or begin to split. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.

Once almonds have cooled enough to touch but still hot, combine almonds, coconut flakes and chocolate into blender or food processor. Process on low until nut mix rides up onto the sides of the container. Scrape down the sides and pack the mixture down.

Continue alternating and blending and scraping until mixture begins to liquify. Blend on high until smooth.

Taste the mixture, then add sugar to taste.


Almond Joy Nut Butter Next to Dr. Nut

Hanging out with the Dr.

Apple Pie Peanut Butter

Apple Pie Peanutbutter

Ok. This stuff is delicious. Like eat-it-straight-out-of-the-jar-with-a-spoon delicious. After making the crispy apple chips, I dipped a few in peanut butter and it was gooooood. So I figured, why not mix the the two and make magic! You can make this two ways, crunchy or… chewy (for lack of a better description). The chewy version, using apple rings packs a bit more apple-y punch, but the crunchy is my favorite. I’m a big texture person, and I love the crispy crunch that the apple chips give it.

Apple Pie Peanut Butter (many ways)

  • 16 oz honey roasted peanuts OR
  • 16 oz dry roasted peanuts and 2 Tbs brown sugar OR
  • 16 oz natural peanut butter and 2 Tbs brown sugar
  • 4-5 oz Apple chips (about 2-3 cups crushed chips or 2 bags apple chips)
  • OR 10-15 apple rings, chopped into raisin sized pieces
  • 2 Tbs cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves

If using pre-made peanut butter, mix all ingredients together and enjoy!

My favorite things about my Blendtec so far has been that it is SO easy to make nut butters. In about 5 minutes I can turn a pound of peanuts into a pound of gold creamy peanut butter! This can also be accomplished with another high-speed blender such as the Vitamix, or a food processor. I’ve even heard of people using a masticating juicer to make nut butters!

First, pour 16oz of peanuts into your blender:

Peanuts in the Blendtec

Blend on medium-low until the nuts have moved up onto the sides of the container. Stop the blender and pack the chopped nuts down tightly.

Peanuts in the Blendtec

Blend on medium to high, stopping occasionally to scape down the sides. Once the peanut butter begins to warm up, it will be easier to blend, and I usually blend on high to get it creamy. You can stop before this if you want a chunkier texture. When your peanut butter is the texture you want, add crushed apple chips to the butter. Pulse a few times to get it mixed in, but do not over mix or you will lose the crunchy texture.

Apple Pie Peanutbutter

Maybe not the most appetizing photo?

Spread onto warm toast and enjoy!

Apple Pie Peanutbutter

My New Love: Coconut Butter

Ever since getting my beloved Blendtec, I have been making nut butters like crazy. It’s just so gratifying to be able to pour in a pound of peanuts, and five minutes later have rich, creamy peanut butter. I think we’ve been going though about a jar a week, eek!

Then we *gasp* ran out of peanuts. How would I survive without my peanut butter and banana sandwich?!? Luckily I found a bag of unsweetened coconut in the back of my fridge, and a new love was born.

Coconut butter.

Seriously, why did no one tell me it was this good? If I had known you could literally spread coconut onto your food, I would have looked into this sooner! And making it is easy as pie. Actually, much, much easier than pie…

Place about 4 cups of coconut flakes or 3 cups shredded coconut in your blender or food processor.

Coconut Flakes

Begin blending on low speed, scraping the sides as you go. At first, the coconut will start to look more like coconut flour. As you keep blending, the oils will warm and the coconut will start to stick together. If this isn’t happened, you may need to add some coconut oil to facilitate the process.

Continue to scrape the sides, and increase the speed as you go. After about 10-15 minutes of blending, the coconut butter should be extremely runny. Pour into a glass container and store at room temperature.

Coconut Butter

The coconut butter will solidify as it cools down to room temperature. If you keep your place chilly, you may need to warm it up a bit to make it spreadable.

So what do I use coconut butter on? So far I’ve made coconut butter and banana sandwiches, melted or massaged it into kale salads, made a ‘fudge’ and added it to smoothies. Poor Mr. Peanut Butter hasn’t seen any action all week. Ha!

Cranberry Pear Sorbet

Our view while we enjoyed a cold treat

I love the weather is San Francisco. It’s like the sky spins a giant Jeopardy wheel each morning to pick the weather (sometimes even two or three times a day!). Just last weekend it was miserably cold and foggy in my neighborhood. I didn’t even leave the apartment on one of the days, because it looked just too icky outside.

Then the sky spun that great big wheel again, and it must have landed on “summer”. Well, “summer” for San Francisco, that is… It has been bright, sunny and warm during the day, and the evenings have been those balmy nights that make you want to sit outside with friends, sipping iced lemonade and enjoying a cold treat while you watch the sunset.

I prepared this sorbet in the morning using ingredients I had on hand, so so my fiance and I could enjoy it later in the evening. It was the perfect refreshing treat we had been craving, so I thought I’d share it. According to the bottom of this page, this recipe is actually a sherbet, but it tastes much more like a sorbet to me, so I’m sticking with it:)

Cranberry Pear Sorbet

Cranberry Pear Sorbet

  • 2 ripe pears
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 Tbs maple syrup or to taste
  • 2 Tbs spiced rum OR 1 extra Tbs maple syrup

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend on high until cranberries are pulverized and mixture is frothy. Pour into a container, preferably with a wide bottom, and freeze 2-4 hours until firm.

Once frozen, break into chunks and place in blender or food processor. Process on low until creamy. Serve immediately.

Makes 3 servings


Nutritional Info: 125 cals, 6g fiber, 16g sugar

Crispy Apple Chips

Baked Apple Chips

Mmmm, sweet and crispy

Last Sunday I discovered that my neighborhood has a small (tiny!) Farmer’s Market just a few blocks away. Serendipity! One of my favorite finds was a big bag of “cosmetically challenged” apples. These apple were funny shaped, scarred or small, but were still loveable. I couldn’t resist, especially since a large bag was about the same price as two apples at my local big-box grocery store.

But what was I to do with all those apples? I ate most of them raw (with peanut butter, mmmmmm), and made a few apple-kiwi-kale smoothies. But at the end of the week, I still had one big, beautifully-ugly apple left. Looking for something different, I decided it’s time to try out apple chips! I am still recovering from a Girl Scout cookie overload, so I opted to keep these simple and without extra sweetener.

Apple Slices

Hard not to eat these BEFORE baking!


Apple Chips

  • 1 or 2 large apples, rinsed and patted dry

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Slice apple as thin as possible. I used my beloved mandoline at the thinnest setting, but you can use a good kitchen knife too. Don’t bother coring the apple, since the seeds will fall right out, and you get an adorable star shape, too!

If you are making a large batch with multiple apples, I recommend letting the apple slices sit in a bowl of water and a squirt of lemon juice while cutting so they don’t brown. Don’t toss the water out though! You can drink it as a lovely apple-infused water while you are waiting for the apples to bake.

Lay the slices on parchment paper or a pan lightly sprayed with cooking oil. Bake for about 2 hours until dry, flipping the chips over about halfway though. The baking time will vary depending on how thin the slices are, so check after each hour to see.

Nutritional Info: 1 large apple: 100 cals, 22g sugar, 0.5g protein, 17% dv vit c

Green Julius

Green Julius

Growing up, I used to love the delicious, frothy drink that is the Orange Julius. I think I would get one pretty much every time I stepped foot in my local mall. However, at 230 calories and 59 grams of processed sugar for just the small, I’ve since given up on my old mall-erific treat.

Recently I was hankering for that sweet orange-y drink from my childhood, but without all the calories and dairy. I whipped up a healthy vegan version – with a twist. Adding some kale gives this a nutritious boost and a fun green shade. You can’t taste the kale at all, I promise!

Green Julius

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 3 clementines or 1 orange
    I like the clementines because they have less pulp
  • 1 medium kale leaf OR
    1/4 cup greens such as spinach
  • 1/4 frozen banana
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla*
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice (optional but gives it a citrus-y boost)
  • 4-6 ice cubes (about 3/4 cup)

Place all ingredients in a high speed blender in order given and blend until frothy. If using a Blendtec, use the ‘smoothie’ button. If you don’t have highs peed blender, chop the kale or greens into small pieces before adding to blender.

Serves 2 large glasses or 4 small as pictured.


Nutritional Info: 1 large serving of 2- 96 calories, 12g sugar, 2.5g protein, 100% vit C, 50% dv vit A, 14% calcium (percentage of daily value)

 *when making cold or uncooked desserts, I prefer to use vanilla bean paste since it doesn’t have that booze-y taste that extract has. It delivers an incredibly rich vanilla taste, and is a great value too. I use mine in every sweet treat (including tea!) and after 2 years I still have half left.