Chocolate Banana Chia Pudding with Coconut Whip


Everything looks yummy in a mason jar. 

Forgive me for skipping out on my round up for June.  This summer has been going by altogether too fast.  More on that jazz later.  The biggest feature in our kitchen this summer has been the banana.  Because Oliver has developed a serious addiction to this mushy fruit, we have to keep a bunch on hand at all times.  This results in many of our dishes using bananas to keep from spoiling or overcrowding the freezer.

I’ve posted about the many benefits of chia seeds before, on this post, but until last week I had never made my own chia pudding.  I’ve seen recipes for it a dozen times, it always looked quick and easy, so why has this escaped me?  Not only is this recipe nutrient packed, but its sugar free, soy free, gluten free and pretty darn tasty.  The strange tapioca-like texture of the pudding pairs perfectly with the smooth coconut whip cream.  Both are sweetened just enough to not overwhelm your palate.

Chocolate Banana chia pudding with coconut whip


  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or coconut)
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 bananas
  • 3 medjool dates, pits removed
  • 3 tablespoons raw cacao powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Dash of sea salt

  • 1 can coconut milk (refrigerated overnight)
  • 1 tablespoon agave
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
  • 1 tablespoon shredded coconut

  • Fresh banana slices, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and some chocolate chips for garnish (optional)


  1. Place almond milk, chia seeds, bananas, dates, raw cacao, vanilla and salt in blender and blend till all ingredients are smooth.
  2. Place in covered container in refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
  3. Meanwhile make the coconut whipped cream. Open the can of coconut milk carefully. scoop out the top layer of cream, while reserving the leftover coconut water for another recipe (smoothie perhaps). Place in bowl and add agave, vanilla, and shredded coconut. Whisk by hand or with hand mixer till fluffy. (Do not over whisk, or you will have soupy whip)
  4. After becoming super impatient, find some serving glasses or jars.
  5. Stack as a trifle alternating the chia pudding/coconut whip as desired. You can also just dollop some of the whip as you like.
  6. Garnish with fresh banana slices, chocolate chips, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.




Chia is also loaded with fiber, making this pudding also makes a great breakfast.  It is also so creamy that it satisfies any desire for dairy.  Im thinking ground up chia seeds may be the perfect binder for a raw banana cream pie.  Enjoy!



 Oliver gettin down with his banana filled mesh feeder at the Riverwest Co op

Banana Bread


Sheboygan Wisconsin is cold and rainy.  Its June, and I’m wearing socks.  I never wear socks, so it must be cold.  Aside from Zucchini bread, I like to make most of my other loaf breads in the fall.  The colder weather slowly trickles inside, and the warmth of running the oven for over an hour with the smells only seems fit for that time of year.

The fresh zucchini of the season won’t be around for another month, and my over ripe bananas needed to be used somehow.  Thus, Banana Bread.  Just hearing those two words makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.


Bananas have high levels of tryptophan, that stuff then turns into serotonin, which keeps your brain happy and keeps you more alert.  They are the most popular fruit in the US.  Did you know that the bananas we eat today are different from those 20 years ago?  I have heard that the strain of bananas we most commonly use, currently called the cavendish, is going extinct! But no need to stress.  Chances are our grandparents were eating a different type of banana, and we never even noticed the switch.

Banana Bread


  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup earth balance, at room temp
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed well, but still a little chunky
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Spray a 8×4 bread pan with non stick cooking spray.
  3. Mix almond milk with apple cider vinegar and set aside to curdle.
  4. In one bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and spices. Set aside
  5. In mixer, cream sugar and earth balance till light and fluffy. Mix in mashed bananas, almond milk, and vanilla.
  6. Gently stir in flour mixture to banana mixture.
  7. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts.
  8. Pour into loaf pan and bake for 1 hour.
  9. Allow to slightly cool before removing from pan.


Around here, when we can’t find friends to help us finish the loaf within the first day, we will warm up a slice with some melted earth balance or coconut oil for breakfast.  Enjoy!


Caramel Sea Salt Chocolate Cups


Blame it on fall, but I am loving the dates surrounding me lately.  I often think figs are my favorite fruit.  Figs have such a great texture, and are not too sweet.  I used to love eating them fresh off the trees in San Diego.  They are just so beautifully unique.

As far as dates go, they taste like nature’s caramel.  Creamy, rich in dietary fiber, potassium, and Manganese (Manganese is good for your bones, anemia, and premenstrual  symptoms) dates can be used in so many different ways.  Smoothies, salads, oatmeal, savory dishes, brownies, or just as is.  I’ve been using them to sweeten my 2 minute hemp mylk…recipe to come soon.

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Dates!  And yes, that is a huge Kohlrabi in the background!

There are endless varieties of dates grown in the Middle East, but from California the two most common are the Medjool and Deglet.  My roommates just brought back a bag of plump Medjool dates from this great little place called Sun and Earth.  I have yet to venture there, but they sell an assortment of bulk organic herbs, spices, and other random organic grocer products.  The dates they brought back are out of this world!  Its like they reached their peak of plumpness as they entered our kitchen, and hadn’t dried out too much where you’d want to re-hydrate them.  They are just perfect.

With all this date hype, I wanted to share a recipe I used for Erik’s birthday.  My husband doesn’t like cake, he’s not big on pie, so I opted to try for Caramel sea salted chocolate cups…. no biggie  🙂

Caramel Sea Salt Chocolate Cups


  • For the caramel filling:

  • 2 cups pitted dates, soaked for at least 2 hours. Save date water...see below 🙂
  • 1/4 cup soaked date water
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

  • For the chocolate:

  • 3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbl almond milk
  • 1 tsp virgin coconut oil


    For the Chocolate:
  1. Melt chocolate chips in a small heavy bottomed sauce pan.
  2. Stir in coconut oil, and almond milk. You may want to use a small whisk to help make sure the coconut oil is well mixed in.
  3. Line about 15 mini cups with melted chocolate, bottom layer!
  4. Place in fridge.
  5. For the Caramel:
  6. Drain soaked dates, but save the date water!
  7. Place all ingredients in a food processor. Blend until smooth, thick, and creamy. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides as necessary, making sure all gets incorporated.
  8. Set aside.
  9. To assemble:
  10. After bottom layer of chocolate has firmed up in fridge, layer with a caramel dollop, then top off with more melted chocolate mixture. Garnish with cacao nibs, and some course salt flakes.
  11. Place back into fridge to solidify. They should be ready to eat in 15 minutes.

Some side notes:
I was a little concerned that the melted chocolate wouldn’t surround the ‘caramel’, so I added more than I should have.  Not that I’m complaining, I mean ANY amount of chocolate is fine by me.  But because of this, they did turn out a tad rich.

I also ended up with some of the date-caramel sauce leftover, which was great to eat with fresh apple slices!  Or a spoon.  That stuff is amazing, and definitely a danger to have just lying around the kitchen.

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The first layer of chocolate goes in… did I mention that should you happen to make a mess, this is the best finger licking recipe to have that happen?!

photo 3

The caramel layer.  


Happy 30th Erik!  This is definitely a big boy dessert!  Who needs cake anyway?!

Champs Family Bakery, Brooklyn

Champs-3Photo credit to

I could sit here and type a long list of reasons why it feels good to be on the east coast again, but I’ll start with one.   Food.  And by that I mean the vegan options.  And taking it one step further, I mean establishments that are ENTIRELY vegan!  Living so close to home, aka NY, feels so great.  I forget how easy it is to find every little vegan item you want. Taco truck?  “We got that.”  Ice cream in a cone?  “got it.”  Raw samosas?  “Yup.”  How bout a huge vegan breakfast menu, fresh juice, then pie for dessert, or maybe a slice of turtle cheesecake?  “You know it!”  Ah yes, New York is wonderful.  Especially if you are a 7 month pregnant vegan.

Another reason living so close to home is great is my friends.  I haven’t lived back here since 2004, when I swore that California would be it for me.  While there is something so special to me about Cali, it feels so nice to be around people I’ve known for over a decade of your life.

So mushiness aside, lets talk food!  It was Sunday, and I wanted breakfast (what else is new).  Thanks to my Happy Cow app, and va voom – we find Champs family bakery. Champs is everything you think it should be.  Retro diner atmosphere, and a nice variety of menu options for the naughty and healthy vegan.   We waited about 30 minutes for a table, as the place is small.  Fine by me.  After all, it was Sunday.

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Mac and Cheese Pancake

The special was mac and cheese pancakes- say what?! We ordered one for the table.  It was pretty darn good. As for the rest of brunch, we all tried to keep a variety.  I opted for the classic, tempeh bacon, ‘sausage’, tofu scramble, and a piece of french toast.  Oh yes, a side of whip cream please.  My breakfast, the French Toast Slam, wasn’t bad.   As I am a scramble snob, and I think my scramble is above all.  Erik had warned me of this… I should’ve listened.  The blueberry pancakes were to die for!  As was the whip cream (not sure if this was made in house).  The Monte crisco was, eh.  I think the french toast needed to be a bit more fried.  I just said that didn’t I?  Never ever had I imagined to recommend more frying of anything, (please never let those words leave my mouth/keyboard again!)

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The French Toast Slam

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The Drunken Cowgirl

Erik’s breakfast was the Drunken Cowgirl.  Chili, potatoes, scramble, daiya cheddar, avocado, and toast.  It was great, especially with some hot sauce.  Steve had the Awesome Bowl, a healthier option, which sounded delish.  Quinoa, scramble, greens, peppers, and potatoes.

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The dessert case

As I got up to go to the ladies, I couldn’t help but notice a lovely filled with vegan goodness dessert case!  And again, all vegan.  It was entirely too hard to make a decision.  Places like that should be fined.  I knew we had a 3 hour drive home, and I was the only one opting to not let dessert slip on by, so I went with the Turtle cheesecake.  When I got back to the table, the waitress had packed us up some ginger cream cookies as well.  Thank You Ma’am!

All in all I will definitely be back at Champs.  The Tofu Rancheros, Enchiladas, and more of the dessert case will be calling my name next month perhaps when we return.   Oh and the Turtle cheesecake… simply devine.

IMG_2203Happy 40th Steve, Happy 32nd Meg, and Happy back to school weekend everyone!


Vegpod goes food booth


This lovely lady rolled over 200 tamales!

Greetings from the western side of the vast Lake Michigan. Vegpod has been on hiatus to seek out and thus enjoy some soul searching. Through travels afar, hindered language(s), bewildered metric conversions, and a much needed cold and dreary winter, I can proudly say I have grown within myself, and re-inspired my idled culinary skills. Deciding to leave the vegan fast food industry was long overdue, and I am pleased to say my ‘studies’ abroad have brought me back to the gleeful fine dining chef I had once been. I miss San Diego almost everyday, but am pleased to find myself with more of an ambitious objective. And where better to find it then in the dairy state.
Wisconsin is mainly known for dairy & wheat production. So who could I possibly tempt with my vegans treats in a town of 50,000 cheese curd connoisseurs?
In the past, the thought of running my own food booth at the local markets in southern California had passed through my mind quite frequently. Since the restaurant had kept me busy, day and night, the idea had passed quickly, never thinking to return until the right time. Here in Sheboygan, Wi. there appeared to be no better occasion then Earth Fests’ 20th Anniversary.
Earth Fest is an annual festival showcasing an eventful two day weekend to help promote the environment through music, art, education, and food. And every Earth Fest needs a little vegan love.
Upon my arrival here, I had been approached by a women putting together this festival. I figured why not, and called in some worker bee troops for help. Luckily I didn’t have to look to far. We decided to stick to something simple, as well as something the locals could relate too. We went with three varieties of cold wraps, vegan ho ho cupcakes, and the winner of the weekend, a trio of Americana style tamales, complete with an array of homemade salsas. Sticking with the concept of choosing locally, we were able to arrange most of our veggie purchases from local farmers. And thanks to my new found favorite place, Paradigm, I had a certified kitchen, and a wonderful convection oven to work with

Bicycle powered smoothies, I heart Paradigm

The tamales proved to be the most popular by far, and with the hours upon hours worth of wo-man/man power that went into each hand rolled, and tied off cornhusk, it’s no wonder. They were by far the most labor intensive project I’ve ever seen attempted.

Before this weekend I had definitely been under the impression that Sheboygan had no desire in attempting to try any vegan eats. And though many of the Earth Festers traveled from other cities, I was definitely inspired to do more, feed more, and hence, start a vegpod food booth. There will be more to come possibly starting in spring 2011, and until then I will be trying to cater and shine my best through the wonderful Paradigm Coffee & music.

A big thanks to Kate and all of the Paradigm crew for being so darn cool, and making me feel like there is a warm place to just be myself. And a super, I mean super, duper, duper, big thanks to Melanie, Jared and Erik. For without them, I would’ve lost a piece of my sanity. You guys ruled it!

Love you Mel!

Eclipse Chocolat Cafe

Eclipses’ Blackberry-Sage chocolate bar

It was just like any ordinary busy afternoon in San Diego, until lunch.
After some lunch at Mama’s (always a hit!), Drew pointed out this somewhat hidden Chocolate Cafe. “Chocolate cafe?” It didn’t take longer than 2 seconds to get me to at least take a look!
The first thing obviously noticed was the bright teal painted walls. Their pledge is also stated boldly on the wall. Organic when possible, and maintaining ‘green’ operations in the store, as well as products. 10% of the annual profits go back into the community thru local charities. Pretty darn cool.


Now, as a vegan, walking into a chocolate shop, you have to be prepared to see a ton of delicious truffles, and beautiful chocolate delicacies, that more than likely contain milk, butter or other dairy by-products.
Then, as I glanced over the beautifully displayed truffles, I noticed that 2 of them were very clearly labeled, Vegan Friendly Hooray!!!
I knew it was my lucky day!

Ginger & Sea salt

I love the taste of salt. Not over-salty, but salt. After all, salt brings and enhances flavors together. But most importantly, I love the benefits of a good salt. So in the display case, the sight of coarsely ground sea salt with a ball of rich chocolate-coconut milk-caramel, got my mouth watering! And better yet a ginger kick to boot! Yum. On a side note, I’ve recently been reading about some of the pollutants that can be found in sea salt. So I’m strictly using on Himalayan mined celtic salt at the homestead now. It’s more on the pricey side, but a little goes a long way. Really, you only need a pinch for most everything.

Toasted Coconut

Want more? How bout some vegan toffee! Unfortunately, I’m allergic to peanuts, so I didn’t get to try. There was another vegan-labeled toffee bar, but it had honey, so be careful. I mentioned this to the girl working, and she was going to change it to say ‘dairy-free.’

Peanut butter Toffee

I hadn’t the time to stay, but I needed coffee, and what better to go with some chocolate! The girl working was very polite, and made me the most amazing organic soy-mocha! I think there was cacao nibs or something in it. Anyway, it was awesome. Glancing over the menu, I noticed they offered a vegan fondue, served with bread and fruit! Perfect for date-night! It’s been ages since I’ve had chocolate fondue! Next time when I have more time.

Hand rolled Truffles, 2 for $5

Another cool thing about this place is the 100% post consumer packaging. The owner and Chocolatier, Will Gustwiller, also has a food blog. You can read it here. They always seem to be expanding their menu, and enjoy catering to us vegans out there. Oh, and did I mention the free wi-fi. Trouble. I could be here all day eating chocolate and comfortably sitting at my laptop, while sipping my coffee. Trouble. The location was a bit odd, but easy if you are familiar with Mama’s Lebanese bakery or the Livewire bar. I can’t wait to go back….dreams of chocolate everything in my head till then!


Rub my belly Chocolate Puddin’


Yes, even Buddha would appreciate a healthy chocolate pudding every now and again.

As I’ve said before, chocolate is my favorite feel-good super food!
If you’ve read the key lime pie post, I mentioned being fascinated with my new hip grocery item, carbonated soy-whip cream! So this is what else I did with it.
Simple, yet elegant, Rich Chocolate Pudding. Made with only a few ingredients, this dessert can be made in a jiffy. Its also a bonus that most of the ingredients are a probable staple in most veggie pioneer kitchens!

This recipe is really about getting the basics, and using your own taste buds.

Start with 1 pound of silken tofu, drain and set on paper towel for 15 min.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt 1.75 cups of your favorite vegan chocolate chips with about a 1/4 cup of soymilk (I use grain sweetened sunspire chips!)
Crumble tofu, and place in food processor. Add melted chocolate, 1 Tab. of coconut oil, and 1/2 a scraped vanilla bean.
Blend till smooth. Test for sweetness, and richness. If you feel you need a little more sweetener, add in some blue agave syrup. For a boost, you could add a teaspoon of extract such as mint, almond, or orange.
This makes about 4-5 servings. Get funky and add some whip cream, chocolate chips, sprinkled cinnamon, shaved coconut, etc. Have fun!

Some more recent fun facts about Chocolate:


I’ve recently read an article on chocolate fueling our cars….
Well sort of. But how???
Scientists extract hydrogen through gases in waste food. They then began converting formic acid to hydrogen like mad.
The discovery of a way to extract hydrogen from food waste could be a real breakthrough for both industry and the environment, because the process isn’t restricted to chocolate waste. It works equally well on many other types of food waste.
The ability to convert food waste into clean renewable energy instead of garbage has the potential to transform the food industry. Using this process, food factories could conceivably use their own waste products to power their manufacturing operations, or to fuel a fleet of hydrogen-powered vehicles.

Wouldn’t that be nice? I still have no sympathy for the Hummer drivers of the world, but this guy gets a star…….
The first H20 powered Hummer!