Chia Pudding, Iced Tea and Cold Strawberry Soup


Hey there! I know it has been almost 2 weeks since my last post and I apologize for that. My life has been non stop and crazy booked, I haven’t had time to sit, or even have a glass of wine. Some may not think that’s a bad thing 🤗 teehee. Between picking up extra shifts at work (oh I don’t know why!) and the everyday life of being Noah, Abagail and Liam’s mom, and Levi’s wife, I have been working on my admissions essay for a graduate program I am applying to. And it has had my brain all over the place! Trying to get my brain back into “school, paper writing and homework” mode has been taxing! But, also it just seems perfect. I always joke that if being a student was ever a profession, I’d be employee of the month every month. I love school. I love the organization that comes with it, the deadlines and creating papers that have my voice, thoughts and ideas all over them. I love making my brain work. Not that being a mom doesn’t make my brain work, believe me it does! But there’s something about learning that always leaves me wanting more, hungry and thirsty for whatever is out there in the world.

Speaking of being hungry and thirsty, and making my brain work, I had the privilege to provide the food for a women’s retreat at my church this past weekend. I cannot tell you how excited I was to be asked! The retreat fell between two shifts at work (and anyone who knows me knows that I work those lovely 12 hour shifts through the night at a hospital), so sleep was hard to come by this week, but that’s ok! I got to create a menu, put a schedule together on how to get all of the food made during the craziness that is my life! I was able to cook, chop, dice, stir, blend and bake, and write out name tags for the food and share what’s in it (do I sound like a nerd yet??). But most importantly, I got to share the kind of food that I love to cook the most, while (hopefully) blessing 30 women/moms on a day retreat. I’ve mentioned before that food brings us together, it allows for fellowship while nourishing and fueling us. It opens us up somehow, gives us comfort, and helps us feel connected with those sitting with us around the table. And I got to be there and witness the new friendships being planted or old ones being fed (figuratively and literally!). As I sat down for a meal with the ladies of my church, I was so thankful to be there, to be present with such amazing, wise, loving people. And the yummy noises were pretty cool too! It was such an honor to provide the food for this retreat.

The Menu

This was the first time I’ve catered an event or party that I made everything. And let me tell you, it felt so good to do that! Although, my kitchen looked like a bomb hit it…..sacrifices right? 😝 I was asked to make the morning break snacks and lunch. The snacks were easy to come up with: fruits and vegetables were the obvious choice. But I also wanted a special treat for the ladies, something that hits the spot but would also provide them with energy and not drag them down. That’s where chocolate chia pudding with coconut whipped cream comes in. Loaded with omega-3’s, it was the perfect treat to accompany the morning snack.


I had a lot of fun creating the lunch menu, and by fun I mean wracking my brain for the perfect lunch, trying recipe after recipe, searching for the perfect combination. And course, I wanted the menu to be plant based. I went back and forth on making casseroles, lasagne, or soups, food that is made in bulk and can easily feed a crowd. But, I settled on something a little more simple, something that wasn’t as complex as my multi ingredient cowboy lasagne. While reading through a delightful, easy mom recipe cookbook I recently downloaded onto my kindle, I saw a recipe for cold cucumber soup and it hit me: finger sandwiches, salads and soup. Not to mention chocolatey treats! Such a perfect pairing for a Saturday retreat lunch. Simple. Nummy. And not too heavy, like any casserole would have been. And the prep work for a menu like this, was manageable with my hectic week. I was super excited!

the craziness of organization

I made two different kinds of finger sandwiches: cucumber dill with a vegan mayonnaise. Who can go wrong with those!?? And carmelized onion with humus sandwiches. A couple of years ago, I had a tea party themed party for my daughter’s birthday, and I discovered these hummus sandwiches. They are so simple to make but so full of flavor! Everyone at the retreat loved them and were as astonished as I was that carmelized onions and hummus paired so well together. I made the sandwiches with Sprouts’ whole wheat bread. I also had a gluten-free option made with Canyon Bakehouse Bread. I like to know going in what food allergies people have, so I can make sure I have something that they can eat.

I made two huge, nummy salads: my shredded kale salad , and a lemon herb quinoa salad, made with 3 different kinds of herbs, white beans, kalamata olives, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, quinoa and arugula with a lemon balsamic dressing. I looovvveeee that salad. It’s becoming my go to for parties and gatherings.

For the soup. Oh the soup. By far, my favorite thing that I made. I wrote a blog about Manna Restaurant and in that blog, I talked about a cold strawberry soup I tried there. I absolutely loved that soup, and the concept of it. So, I decided to make it! Made with creamy coconut milk, and a hint of orange juice and cinnamon, the soup was a perfect start (or middle or end!) to lunch. I had the soup waiting for the women at the table, served in individual portions, topped with a little orange zest.

I transported the soup to the church in a tea pitcher 😝

Now, for the chocolate. Every women’s retreat needs a plethora of chocolate, right? Or any Tuesday? 😂 I chose to make two vegan chocolate banana applesauce cakes, one with a fudgy date frosting. I love this cake because the ingredients are simple, and it’s clean: no oil, dairy or eggs.


For a gluten free option, I made rich chocolate brownie bites, coated with melted vegan dark chocolate. The secret to those bad boys? They are made with black beans 😋

I walked into the kitchen of the church Saturday morning, hauling in all of the food I prepped. It took me a couple of hours to put it all together, but I had so much fun doing it! The kitchen was quiet, and I was able to take my time. There was no need to rush. Against all odds, I pulled it off. And the women really enjoyed my food, saying that they really love food that makes them feel good and doesn’t bring them down or make them sleepy. To them, it was delicious! And I was able to make it without any animal products, refined sugar and oil (well, mayo excluded!). I will try to get those recipes up in the Vault recipes page soon.

Until next time….

Bon Appetit! 

My Journey into “At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen”

childhood: eating peaches outside in the summer


As a mom and growing Foodie, it’s hard to not reminisce about my childhood and the food I ate, the way my mom cooked, or the foods that just brought me pure joy when they were placed on the dinner table. Foods that still take me back to childhood when I taste or smell them. I didn’t grow up in a home where whole foods were the focus. I grew up with two working parents, and a mom that tried her hardest to put a quality meal on the table for dinner. But a lot of our food was made from a box, can or a package. And there was always meat on our plate. We would typically have cereal and orange juice for breakfast during the school week. And a sandwich, chips and cookies for lunch at school. That’s just the way it was in our house. The foods I remember growing up, the ones I have the most for fondest memories of, are foods that a vegan food blogger would never right about. My mom would make pulled beef and pickle sandwiches in the crockpot a lot, and served them on an onion bun. It was delicious, and I always put ketchup and Frank’s Red Hot on them. I considered that my mom’s signature meal. I remember when in elementary school, on Mondays my brother, sister and I would stay in the after school program, which means my mom would get Taco Bell on her way to pick us up. It was a luxury for us to eat out, so I made sure my order was perfect for me every time, and of course enough food to satisfy my longing for it. I also remember packing a 6 inch Spicy Italian subway sandwich with mayo, black pepper and jalapeño into a cooler and take it to Water World with me every summer. I can literally taste it as I am writing this. And I also remember getting greasy, crispy French fries and nacho cheese sauce at Water World as well. I couldn’t wait to have those. I also remember eating rice and red hot during my eating issues days, and Quizzno’s tuna subs dipped in their signature Italian dressing as a staple lunch during high school. I remember eating Chipotle for the very first time, my mom would bring 3 burritos home for dinner after work, and she would cut them in half and the four of us would split them. You know, back in the day when no one could ever eat a whole burrito! I remember my dad frying up potatoes in a pan, and grilling steak for dinner on Saturday nights. And I remember when my mom was on a “health” kick, we would eat grilled chicken with wing sauce (Frank’s Red Hot and butter), potatoes and garlic bread. Lastly, I remember my mom’s pancakes on Saturday morning, these thick, borderline undercooked pancakes she would fry in the leftover bacon grease from the bacon she cooked in the pan prior to making the pancakes. There was always a bacon flavored crisp on the outside of the pancakes. 

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this. All this meat talk on a vegan blog. Well, I have been in love with this cookbook, as in can’t get enough of reading it and dissecting everything about it, love it. The author in the introduction describes her childhood as it relates to food, the memories of how her mom would cook, and her own food journey. Amy Chaplin, in her cookbook “At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen”, paints such a wonderful picture of how she came to know, love and appreciate food. 

Chaplin grew up in Australia with vegetarian parents, who lived off the land they lived on and they would cook everything that they ate. She writes ” My sister and I were involved in everything my parents did: keeping bees, brewing ginger beer, making tofu, molding the mud bricks to build the house, creating biodynamics preparations for the property, and grinding wheat into flour. We were also part of the process of planting, harvesting and cooking the foods that we ate; and inevitability composting our food scraps…Besides growing fruits, vegetables, and herbs on our land, my parents ordered bulk grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruits and olive oil, which sat in jars on a big old dresser in the kitchen. The image of those jars filled with wholesome ingredients has been central to inspiring me to create new recipes over these many years as a chef”. 

Those are such beautiful words! They inspire me so to give a life similar to that to my kids. Will my kids see me cooking their food in their memories as an adult, and how I would involve them in the creation of their food? Will they remember learning how to cook with me, teaching them to measure, chop, stir, fold or follow a recipe, and loving how I let them taste the food as we cooked? I hope so. I hope I can provide a love and appreciation of food to my kids. I truly do. And I hope my kids’ childhood food memories are different than mine. I wouldn’t give my childhood up for anything, but wish I knew about the importance of the food we choose to eat back then. And I wish I would have cooked more with my parents as a child, just to have those memories and knowledge!

Chaplin authored a cookbook chalked full of whole food recipes, including a pantry essential list and recipes from that list. 


Her attention to detail in everything she cooks is beautiful and genius. She is so careful with every ingredient she prepares and I am fascinated by her process. I wish I could pick her brain for an afternoon over tea and home made bread! 

I bought her cookbook about a year or so ago at the store Anthropologie, my home away from home, where I spend all of our money and drive my hubby crazy! Her book and her life just speak to my inner foodie, and I have been longing to cook thru her cookbook. Which is exactly what I intend to do, and I’m planning on sharing it with you. With over 150 recipes, I will cook each one, sharing a little bit of my experience with you, and a little bit of what I learn about Amy Chaplin thru it, whether from her cookbook or her food. I am hoping to cook at least one recipe a week, but life sometimes gets in the way and I may not always be able to do so. I will not, however, share her recipes, because those are hers and if you want them, buy the book! Seriously, buy the book. It’s awesome. She is not a pure vegan, but she’s pretty darn close. She shares a love for goat cheese like I do 🤗

I’ve made her chocolate cake, and learned about agar agar for the first time. I’ve learned so much from her already in the handful of recipes I have made in the year I’ve had the cookbook. I am so excited to FINALLY be doing this! I will be starting off with her pantry recipes😋

Thanks for going on this food journey with me! 

Until next time…

Bon Appetit!