Chia Pudding

Can you believe July is almost over?! This summer has flown by! I’m down to just a couple of weeks before my boys come home for the school year, which begins August 16th. The week before that they have their orientations. This summer has been a wild one, and I’m getting ready to cap it off with a trip to Chicago to visit a couple of friends this weekend. It will be like my one last hoorah before mom duty and college classes begin again, and my free time vanishes.

Do you know what my favorite thing about cooking dinner is? The glass of wine that comes along with it! I drink a glass of red wine most every evening while I’m making dinner, while also watching my guilty pleasure – The Young & The Restless. Yeah, yeah…I’m a junkie since childhood! You can thank my grandparents for that one, since they watched it (and still do) religiously every single day while I was growing up. Since I spent every day of my summers there…well, you get where I’m going with this.

Anyhow, that nightly glass of wine comes with one pitfall – it makes me crave sweets! I will never understand this, but it happens every single time I drink wine. I’ve grown very accustomed to fighting sugar cravings because it’s become an almost daily part of my life. I occasionally have to give in and find something healthy to kill that sweet tooth. Sometimes I eat fruit or unsweetened applesauce. Sometimes I’ll munch on a tablespoon of chocolate chips. If I’ve been eating super healthy for a few days I’ll treat myself to a chocolate mug cake. Other times, I fall back to a sweet, yet sugar free, treat – Chia Pudding.

Basic Chia Pudding is the easiest thing in the world to make and requires just three ingredients – chia seeds, almond milk, and stevia. It’s crazy-high in calcium, protein and fiber, and it’s very versatile. You can add berries to it to make it into a parfait. You can use vanilla and cinnamon to flavor it like a cinnamon roll. You can add some pumpkin and cinnamon for a pumpkin pie-like treat. My personal favorite? Chocolate, of course! And that is exactly what I made tonight for my after dinner sweet treat. So without further adieu…here is the recipe:


  • 2 Tbsp Chia Seeds
  • 1/2 Cup Almond Milk
  • 1 Packet Stevia Sweetener
  • 1/2 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp Vanilla


  1. Pour chia seeds into a vintage pudding cup (or a small bowl, but vintage glassware is way more fun!).
  2. Add the stevia packet and cocoa powder, then toss a bit to disperse evenly.
  3. Pour in the almond milk and the vanilla, then stir well to combine.
  4. Place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes, then stir. The chia seeds will gel and start to clump together, so you will need to stir them up and separate the clumps.
  5. Continue to refrigerate for at least another 10 minutes, for a minimum of 20 minutes before serving. Two hours is even better if you can wait that long!
  6. Optional – top with shredded coconut before serving! I would have done this tonight had I not been out.

I’m eating my chia pudding right now while writing this to you, and I’m feeling the sugar craving fading already. Happy snacking!

Black Bean Salsa: Memorial Day Mediterranean Monday

Hello Friends,

It’s Memorial Day and I hit the local Lowe’s Garden Center first thing this morning, my unkempt hair swept back into a knot at the nape of my neck and smelling of Deep Woods Off. I went outside early to water my plants since we haven’t had rain since Friday. The majority of the herbs I’d sown from seed still aren’t sprouting, and the ones that are sprouting may not be mature enough to actually use in my kitchen until summer is over! So I bit the bullet and went to buy some.

Squirrels…ugh! While I was at Lowe’s I also picked up a couple more packets of sunflower seed–because I had two rows planted and the squirrels dug up all but three of the plants that had come up as of yesterday. I went out to water this morning and found one of those last three plants uprooted and laying limp next to a two-inch wide pit that marked the location of its former home.

In addition to the sunflowers, the squirrels dug up my watermelons and pumpkins three times before they finally decided there wasn’t any dirt left to dig. I now have little baby watermelon and pumpkin plants coming to life, and I don’t want to chance the squirrels digging them up yet again…so I got creative! How is this for a squirrel deterrent:

Plastic forks left over from Logan’s birthday party! I found the idea on Pinterest and really hope it works! I’m also going to pick up some Cayenne Pepper when I get groceries tomorrow, and I’ll sprinkle that on the ground around the forks as well, just as an added layer of protection.

In the meantime, I have this delicious black bean salsa marinating for its third day in the refrigerator for lunch! Since it’s Memorial Day, many of us are doing the traditional pot lucks and back yard barbecues, so I thought I would share a dish that doubles as a dip, and a base for countless meals. A coworker always brings this to our work food days, so I asked her for the recipe and I’ve made it countless times since!

Black Bean Salsa:

  • 3 15oz cans Black Beans, rinsed
  • 1 can White Shoepeg Corn, drained but not rinsed
  • 3/4 cup Chopped Cilantro
  • 1/4 cup Lime Juice
  • 3 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 2 Tsp Cumin
  • 3/4 cup Chopped Red Sweet Pepper
  • 3/4 cup Chopped Red Onion
  • 4 chopped Jalapenos, deseeded and deveined
  • salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

Combine all ingredients, cover and refrigerate for at least six hours or overnight before serving. Keeps for one week in the refrigerator.

Now for all of the ways that I use this salsa:

  • As a dip with multigrain tortilla chips
  • As a vegetarian/vegan filling for tacos and burritos
  • As a topping for nachos
  • On salads
  • In pitas with hummus for a Greek sandwich

I made a half batch of this salsa first thing Saturday morning, and have used it for every lunch and dinner since. I spread a tablespoon of hummus inside a pita pocket, added a layer of lettuce, then spooned in a cup of this salsa and topped it with a few banana pepper rings. For dinner I sautéed some kale, peppers and onions, mixed in some quinoa, then stirred in another cup of this salsa for a one-dish meal.

On Sunday I made the same pita pocket for lunch, then made nachos for dinner using multigrain tortilla chips, a cup or two of torn lettuce, a cup of the black bean salsa, shredded cheese, half of a diced avocado, banana pepper rings and a tablespoon of hummus. And today I’m going to top a salad with a cup of this salsa, some more banana pepper rings, and a tablespoon of Newman’s Own Olive Oil & Vinegar Dressing (my favorite salad dressing).

This stuff is truly multi-faceted and it is something I always try to keep ingredients on hand for because it is so easy to make, a batch of it will last for days, and it’s a very healthy, vegan-friendly, crowd pleasing dip that fits perfectly into the Mediterranean Diet.

Please enjoy, and I hope everyone has a wonderful Memorial Day!


Fish Tacos–First May Mediterranean Monday!

Dear Friends,

Another weekend has come to a close, and I had the most perfect Saturday of 2018 so far! I spent the entire day with friends, craft beer and Mexican food. It was also the opening day of the Farmer’s Market and I stocked up on some amazing food! Kale, radishes, green onions, asparagus, sweet potatoes and some farm fresh eggs. I promptly came home and made myself a sweet potato stuffed with sautéed kale, green onion and radish, and had some leftover tuna salad on wheat crackers alongside it.

The farmer’s market really put me in the mood for some fresh summer cooking, and with the beautiful warm weekend, complete with pink shoulders, summer is proving to be right around the corner. Cinco de Mayo also put me in the mood for tacos! I had a Chicken Chimichanga Saturday night…one of my go-to dishes. But I love fish tacos, especially made with fried catfish!

I live in Southeast Missouri, in a town that sits alongside the Mississippi. My grandpa found a man who catches pounds upon pounds of catfish and sells them from his home-based market in the middle of nowhere. He always buys a ton of 2lb packages at a time and gives us a couple of them. By far our favorite way to eat them is in a taco!


  • 1 lb fresh catfish nuggets (the fish I get is already packaged this way, but you can just cut up filets into chunks)
  • 4-6 whole wheat tortillas – mine are 10″ so I cut them down to about 8″
  • shredded cheese, as much as you like
  • shredded cabbage
  • 6 TBS ranch dressing
  • a few healthy dashes of Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning
  • a cup or two of almond milk for dipping
  • Wheat flour and cornmeal mixture for coating
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • vegetable oil for frying


  1. I always start by spreading out the fish on a plate or in a shallow bowl
  2. I then mix my cornmeal and wheat flour to make the coating. I don’t have exact measurements, I just use equal parts of each to fill a bowl. I add plenty of salt, pepper, and even some garlic powder
  3. Pour almond milk into a separate bowl, then line the bowls up in an assembly line…fish, milk, breading
  4. I fill the bottom of a frying pan with 1/2″ – 1″ of oil and let it get hot.
  5. Dip the fish into the almond milk, then into the breading mix, and then into the hot oil. Cooking hack – I use my left hand for the milk and my right hand for the breading mix to keep from getting a gooey batter all over my fingers!
  6. Fry the fish over medium heat until the breading is golden brown, and place on a paper towel-covered plate to drain
  7. Meanwhile, warm the whole wheat tortillas in the microwave for around 30 seconds, then lay them out on the serving plates
  8. Put a bed of cabbage on the tortilla first (I used lettuce this time because I had a ton of it needing to be used)
  9. Lay a few pieces of catfish on top of the cabbage, and sprinkle with some shredded cheese
  10. In a small bowl, mix the ranch dressing and the chipotle seasoning mix to make a chipotle ranch sauce. You can also add a little sour cream into this and it makes it even better…I do this occasionally, but since I’m already putting cheese on the tacos and I like to limit my dairy, I don’t do it often.
  11. Drizzle the chipotle ranch on top, secure the tacos with a toothpick if you wish, and serve!

My kiddos go wild for these tacos, even my picky one! We have them about every couple of months and never get tired of them. Usually I will just toss a salad to serve along with them so we get our greens in, too. But this time I had some potatoes that were needing used and my chives are going crazy outside, so I diced and boiled some potatoes, tossed in some salt, minced garlic and fresh-chopped chives, and had garlic and chives potatoes for the side.

Happy eating!


A Healthy Roasted Dinner from Leftover Produce — Mediterranean Monday Bonus

Hello Friends!

I have a confession: as I sit here writing to you about this healthy dinner I came up with while clearing out my produce bin for another week, I am snacking on my son’s leftover birthday cake from his party yesterday. It’s all about balance, right?!

It was a fantastic weekend inside and out. The skies were crystal clear and the sun was warm. My boys went for a couple of bike rides on the local recreational trail near our house, and I got lots of gardening done (that post is still to come). We also celebrated Logan’s birthday with family and his friends, and I made the traditional yellow cake with chocolate icing using this recipe from Allrecipes. It is so moist and delicious!

We had a ton of pizza, punch, cake and ice cream. By that evening I was more than ready for some vegetables in my life. I was sifting through the fridge and pantry to make my weekly shopping list, and I came up with a simple idea for dinner that would also let me use up some of the veggies in my produce bin.

I had half of an onion left, and a handful of baby carrots left in a bag. There were three red potatoes left in the pantry, and one more black bean burger in the freezer. I washed and chopped one of the potatoes, then set the oven to 425 degrees and sprayed a round cake pan with olive oil spray. I spread out the potato pieces and the rest of the baby carrots evenly in the pan, then popped them in the oven for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile I thawed the black bean burger in the microwave and cut up some of the onion. When the timer went off, I pulled the pan out of the oven, added the onion, then made a hole in the center and placed the black bean burger in it. A little salt on the veggies, then back in the oven for another 15 minutes.

I transferred it all to a plate, poured a little A-1 on the burger, and dinner was served!

I’m still amazed at how simple healthy eating can be. No planning, very little prep work, and I had a spontaneous dinner I didn’t have to feel guilty about.

Now my dessert, on the other hand…


A Healthy Chocolate Mug Cake Recipe for When I’m Losing my S***!

Dear Friends,

This hasn’t just been a Monday, it’s been “one of those days.” It started this morning when I was in the bathroom curling my hair before work, and I heard the sound of metal crashing into the wood floor in Hunter’s room. I knew without looking what it was. Hunter is the king of the teenage hissy fit, stomping his feet and slamming his door every time he gets annoyed with something. We have lever-style door handles in our house, and he’ll slam his hand down on his handle before flinging the door open during his little temper flairs. I noticed a while back that his door knob was starting to feel loose and I’ve been riding him about not being so rough on it. Well this morning, it finally met the fate that I knew was imminent.

Another damaged item to repair. One more expense piled on top of a growing trash-pile of unforeseen expenses since the first of the year…bed bug treatment, doctor visits, a hospital bill that I thought insurance would cover 80% of but didn’t, new bikes for the boys after theirs were stolen, repairing a wheel on Hunter’s new bike when he wrecked it a month after he got it (I don’t know how much that will cost yet, but we are so lucky to have an awesome friend who had a spare wheel laying around and not only leant it to us for the time being, but even put it on for us and is helping us get the damaged one repaired).

I finished my morning routine, got the kids dropped off at school, and made it in to work where I sat alone at my desk and the pressures of a rushed morning subsided. With too much time on my hands to sit and think, all of the complications of 2018 started gnawing at me. The expenses, the parenting challenges, the stress…it all finally came to a head.

The only thing that kept me from completely falling apart, with the tension of the last few months building up and finally bubbling over due to a broken door knob, is the fact that I work in a public place where I’m basically forced to keep my sh*t together. I’m emotionally drained, my bank account is exhausted, and I’m hoping and praying for an end to the madness sometime soon.

It’s a fact of life that tough times will come, and as the saying goes, “this too shall pass.” It’s just the process of the passing that can be tough to bare. Eventually we hit that point where we just need a break, and I reached that point today. All I really wanted to do was come home and crawl straight into bed, but I’m a mom and that means being a responsible adult and acting like I’m fine even when things are a steaming pile of poo. So I sucked it up, picked up a few groceries and came home to throw together some spaghetti, which was Logan’s requested dinner for this week.

I could barely swallow a bite at dinner, but the call for a glass of wine and comfort food was strong. So after dinner was done and the kitchen cleaned up, I poured myself a glass of wine and made myself a chocolate mug cake. That was basically my dinner, and I’m not even sorry! The silver lining to this whole day is that my chocolate mug cake was actually healthy, so I was able to indulge without regret!

I found the original recipe on Pinterest, and then I made some tweaks to make it guilt-free. I swapped out the all-purpose flour for wheat flour, the sugar for stevia, the milk for almond milk, and the vegetable oil for applesauce. It took a little experimenting to get it just right, but I mastered it and it’s now my go-to sweet tooth satisfier.

Here’s the Recipe:

3 tbsp. wheat flour
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
3 packets of stevia
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
3 tbsp. applesauce
3 tbsp. almond milk
splash of vanilla
1-2 tbsp. chocolate chips

1. Lightly spray the inside of a coffee mug with olive oil spray.

2. In the mug, mix the first five dry ingredients together.

3. Add the next three wet ingredients and mix together well, leaving no dry powder in the bottom of the mug.

4. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.

5. Put in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, depending on the power of your microwave. I’m not sure how many watts mine is, but 2 1/2 minutes is perfect for mine. I would just start with two minutes and go up from there.

Maybe it’s the chocolate mug cake or maybe it’s the wine, but I’m feeling a little more relaxed and looking forward to getting back on top of things tomorrow. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to YouTube how to change a doorknob!