Almond Joy Chia Pudding

Almond Joy Chia Pudding

It’s been over a month since my surgery, but I’m still feeling some of its effects, like making weird mistakes, experiencing fatigue and low energy, and having digestive problems. Apparently, anesthesia puts the entire body to sleep, including the digestive system. My system didn’t want to wake back up, which is why I ended up in the hospital for longer than originally anticipated. My digestion is still not up to speed, so to speak, but I’ve ditched the medicines the doctors gave me in favor of more natural approaches. One of the things I’ve been trying is chia pudding, which is much, much tastier than the doctor recommended milk of magnesia.


Because of the combination of almonds and shredded coconut, this pudding had me singing, “sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t”, like in the old candy bar commercials, so I’ve decided to call it “Almond Joy.” I like making it in the evening right before going to bed and having it the morning for breakfast.


Almond Joy Chia Pudding 


  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
  • 2 tablespoons shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract



Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl or mason jar. Cover and store in the fridge for at least two hours before serving.


If you’re not feeling like a nut, omit the almonds and use coconut or vanilla extract instead of almond extract.


Serves 2



I’m submitting this recipe to Healthy Vegan Fridays and Gluten-Free Fridays.


Like what you’re reading? Join me on Facebook!

What I Ate Wednesday: I’m Back Baby!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a What I Ate Wednesday post. I started out 2014 not feeling well. I didn’t do very much creative cooking and I was eating rather bland food. Early last month I had surgery, and in the weeks before and after the operation I didn’t have much of an appetite. Once my taste buds and tummy were ready for real food again, I couldn’t really stand for very long due to pain from the surgery, so I ate a lot of takeout and Amy’s Frozen dinners. There was one day when Dennis and I tried to cook dinner together, but ended up having to instruct him how to finish and then go lie down for a bit. Over the course of the last few days I’ve been able to stand for much longer periods of time, and I’ve been back in the kitchen, cooking up tasty meals. As George Costanza would say, “I’m back, baby!”



My meals have been rather simple and easy to make, and I’ve been trying to make up for all of the takeout and frozen dinners with healthy meals. The recipes I’ve been making are pretty vegetable heavy and I’ve been serving most of them with a side of greens. While I usually cook alone, Dennis has been helping me a lot with food prep, and it’s been nice to have company in the kitchen. Over the weekend we made a super easy spinach mushroom lasagna. This dish seems like it would take a long time to make, but it comes together in a flash. The recipe makes a lot of food, so there are enough leftovers for a few meals. 


Hummus Wrap

A hummus wrap made with a sprouted grain tortilla and lots of veggies has been my go-to lunch for the past few days. I have shredded carrots and cabbage as well as a package of artichoke hearts all ready to in the fridge, so this meal comes together really easily. 


Curried Coconut Spinach and Chickpeas

Another quick meal was Curried Coconut Spinach and Chickpeas over a baked sweet potato. The calendar may say that spring is here, but it was chilly and rainy on Monday, and this dish was warm and comforting. 


Chickpea Scramble

For breakfast over the weekend I made a chickpea scramble dish. This was a nice change from the usual tofu scramble. This recipe is from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and is in the newest issue of Vegetarian Times. 


Green Curry StirFry

This green curry stir-fry is also based on a recipe from this month’s Vegetarian Times, but I altered the recipe to be a little spicier and to include tofu. I really enjoyed this dish. 



One takeout meal that I haven’t grown weary of is the Da Schnitzel burger from PositiviTea, which is a vegan cafe not too far from my house. This is PostiviTea’s house made veggie burger topped with lots of mustard, pickles, lettuce and vegan cheese. 


Maybe next week I can start cooking with the new cookbooks that have been piling up since the beginning of the year!


Like what you’re reading? Follow me! Facebook, TwitterPinterest




Tips for Coping with Recovery

Rest and Recovery

You may know by now that I had surgery a month ago to remove a watermelon-sized cyst from my ovary. I guess I was in denial about how serious this would be, because when my friend Jessica asked how long recovery would take, I said “I don’t know. I guess about two weeks.” Two weeks beyond that initial statement and I’m still lying on the sofa in pajamas. It’s difficult to believe it’s been a month already, and that I’ve essentially been lying around like a house cat for four weeks. Five actually – because I felt like hell the week before the operation and canceled everything I had on my schedule. 


Recovering from a surgery or illness can be rather tough on the mind and spirit (not to mention the body). Simple things like getting up to take a shower can be a lot of work – if you can get up to take a shower at all. There are things you’re used to doing that you just can’t. I tried to make dinner one night last week but ended up giving Dennis instructions on how to finish it and left the kitchen to lie down. I can’t carry anything, so I can’t do laundry, and I can’t even pick up my cats. What I can do is websurf, watch television and read, which is pretty much what I’ve been doing. I have managed to stay sane though it though (so far anyway!).


Here are my top ten tips for coping with recovery:

  • Go Easy on Yourself. Take this time to relax and recover. Don’t worry about what it is that you could be doing but aren’t. Think of it as a staycation of sorts. 
  • Get Netflix. If you don’t have Netflix or Hulu Plus, now is the time. If you’re worried about becoming a couch potato later, just cancel it when you’re feeling better.
  • Laugh. That saying about laughter being the best medicine is true. Studies have shown that state of mind has a lot to do with illness and recovery, and watching comedy certainly helps improve state of mind. Norman Cousins did research on the biochemistry of emotions and is said to have cured himself of illness by taking high doses of vitamin C and watching the Marx Brothers every day.
  • Go Easy with Your Entertainment. I took a book with me to the hospital, but I had a difficult time concentrating enough to read, so I asked Dennis to pick up a few magazines for me. This isn’t a good time to read War and Peace. Don’t read anything too heavy or watch anything too serious. (This goes along with laughter being the best medicine.)
  • Rest and Relax. Sleep, take naps, listen to relaxing music and do whatever you can to give your body and mind a break.
  • Meditate. Meditation can help relax the body if you’re having problems resting. This can be a stressful time, but meditation will help reduce stress, giving the body space to heal. There are guided meditations specifically for healing – just look around online and find one or two that you like.
  • Pamper Yourself. You might not be able to head out to the spa for a day of massages and pedicures, but you can spend some time on yourself at home. For the past few weeks I’ve been slathering myself with lavender body butter every day, and I’ve even painted my nails a sparkly pink – something I haven’t done since I was in junior high. The thinking behind my nail polish choice was that it’s difficult to be a in a bad mood when you’re covered in glitter.
  • Stay Connected. Lying around the house with limited mobility when everyone else is at work or doing errands can get depressing. Stay connected with your friends through email and with social networking sites. 
  • Give Yourself Something to Look Forward To. I bought tickets to see Of Mice and Men on Broadway before I knew I was going to need surgery, but they just so happen to be for later in April. I’m looking forward to feeling better so I can spend some time out in New York City!
  • Reward Yourself. I bought myself a super cute dress as a treat for putting up everything I’ve been through in the past month. I’m looking forward to wearing it when I feel better!


Have you had to deal with an illness, injury or surgery lately? What did you do to help yourself recover?

Rawsome Vegan Baking Totally Tahini Cups with Coffee Cream Filling

rawsome-coverI’m happy to be hosting Emily von Euw on her blog tour for her gorgeous new book Rawsome Vegan Baking today! Emily has also brought a copy of her book for lucky reader. Follow the instructions at the end of the post to enter. Be sure to also check out my interview with Emily on Chic Vegan too!



Totally Tahini Cups with Coffee Cream Filling

Simple, sublime, stylish . . . sassy? Okay, enough with the alliteration. These are just plain yummy. I know not everyone has a major sweet tooth like me, so this recipe is for those folks. Tahini is delicious, but it is also quite bitter. It has a strong nutty flavor (from the sesame seeds it’s made of) that goes perfectly with savory meals. However—its nutty bitterness can still work wonderfully in desserts as well. Here, it’s combined with salt and coconut oil to make a shell encompassing sweet coffee-date cream. Can you say yum!? Probably not, because your mouth will be too full of these terrifically tasty tahini cups . . . Duh. Did it again.


Makes: 6 cups



  • ⅓ cup (80 g) tahini
  • ⅓ cup (79 ml) melted coconut oil


  • 1 cup (175 g) pitted dates
  • ½ cup (118 ml) strong brewed coffee, or as needed
  • Salt


TO MAKE THE SHELL: Combine the ingredients by hand or in a food processor until smooth. It will be a bit watery but the coconut oil will harden up in the fridge. Pour half of the mixture into the bottom of 6 cupcake liners and put in the fridge for 20 minutes, or until solid. Set aside the other half of the tahini mixture.


TO MAKE THE FILLING: Put all the ingredients into your food processor and process until smooth and very thick, adding the coffee, as needed. This could take a few minutes, and you may have to stop the food processor to wipe down the sides a few times so everything continues to combine evenly.


ASSEMBLY: Scoop a dollop of the filling into each of the hardened bottoms in your cupcake papers. Pour enough of the remaining tahini mixture on each to cover the dollop. Put back in the fridge for about 20 minutes, or until solid, then sprinkle with salt and enjoy!



Follow the instructions below to enter to win a copy of Emily’s book Rawsome Vegan Baking. US residents only, please. Contest ends at midnight eastern standard time on Friday, April 4th.  Good luck!

Staying Healthy in the Hospital


When you think of hospitals do you think of health and healing? Or do you think of sickness and surgery? As I mentioned a few days ago, I recently spent five days in the hospital after having a very large ovarian cyst removed. I’ve been in the hospital before, and while I don’t have very fond memories of my stays, I didn’t think this time would be too bad. I was wrong.


Sleep can be pretty hard to come by in hospitals, even when you are on medication that makes you drowsy. I’m a light sleeper, and it’s difficult for me to sleep in a place that isn’t my own bedroom, but I think even people who can easily fall asleep on public transportation while listening to heavy metal music would have difficulties getting shut-eye in a hospital. The hospital I was in has “massaging” beds that move to help prevent blood clots and bed sores. I thought it was pretty cool at first, but the function can’t be turned off, and at 2:00 in the morning a moving bed can be quite an irritant on the nerves. Even if the bed was still, it probably wouldn’t have mattered. I was woken up every 4 hours to have my blood pressure and temperature taken, and I also had regular blood tests every few hours as well. Two of the four nights I was in the hospital I was woken up at 4:00am by thumping in the walls. No one knew where it was coming from and there was no one around to do anything about it. The 4:00am wakeup wasn’t too bad, since residents and med students arrived the hospital at about 5:00 and rounds took place somewhere between 5:30 and 6:00am. And let’s not forget the man down the hall, who for some reason was in a women’s ward and spent most of his time in the hospital screaming. 


The other concern one might have in being admitted to a hospital would be the food situation. Hospitals aren’t really known for their culinary expertise, and vegans have extra concern about meals when they’re out of their control. When I went for preadmission testing, I was asked what my dietary preference was, and I was asked again at admittance so I knew my file said I’m vegan. I mentioned it to one of my doctors when she said I could have jello, because most jellos are made with gelatin, and she made a point of letting the kitchen know. I wasn’t allowed anything – not even water – the day of surgery, and the second day I was placed on a liquid diet. The liquid diet tray from the kitchen consisted of a cup of Lipton’s hot tea (which tasted like the plastic mug it was served in), lemon ice, jello (which was made without gelatin!), a can of ginger ale, a bowl of vegetable broth and a bottle of water. I was happy to see “food” but the sugar content of what I was served was crazy! I don’t usually eat that much in a week, let alone at a meal. I had two of those trays on my second day, and then I promptly threw it all up during night two. Day on day three I wasn’t allowed anything – not even water again. Day four they put me back on a liquid diet, and the “foods” were pretty difficult to get down the second time around. I begged the doctor to let me eat solid food, so for dinner I was brought a menu.  I called the kitchen and the person who answered pulled my file up right away and gave me the vegetarian options. (I guess the still need to know the difference between vegetarian and vegan, but there is progress.) I wanted something super bland so I ordered roasted potatoes, steamed broccoli, brown rice and fresh fruit. That can’t be messed up, can it? I’ve never had brown rice that tasted that bad, but the broccoli and potatoes weren’t too bad. There was also a roll with my dinner, and it was the worst piece of bread I’ve ever eaten in my life! 


On day 5 I was still feeling slightly queasy and I didn’t really want anything too big for breakfast. I ordered hash browns and fresh fruit. The hash browns turned out to be oily, greasy, salty shredded potato patties, and I could only get one of them down. The fruit wasn’t too bad though. If I had been able to eat real food and had more of an appetite while I was there, I would given the create-your-own-stir-fry a try, since the options included tofu and mixed vegetables. There was also a create-your-own-pasta-bowl option on the menu that looked decent.


Once I was discharged, I was able to sleep and eat decent food once again. It seemed like my stay lasted forever and I was majorly sleep deprived by the time I home.


So how does one manage to stay healthy in a hospital? It’s pretty difficult! I have a few suggestions that might get your through it:

  • Know going in that you’re going to have a bad time. Keep expectations low!
  • Have someone bring you food, if it’s allowed. Make sure you talk to your doctor beforehand.
  • Load up your iPod with relaxation music and guided imagery mediations. My iPod saved my life during the long sleepless nights.
  • See if the hospital offers any type of holistic treatment. The hospital I was in had two holistic nurses who offered acupressure, reiki and reflexology. I had one of each and it was all really wonderful.
  • Get sleep when you can! Often that can be during the day after the doctors do their rounds. 
  • I recommend taking face wipes, body wipes and dry shampoo with you. You might end up staying longer than expected (I was supposed to stay one night and it turned into four), and you might not be able to bathe. The hospital might provide you with toiletries, but chances are that they’ll be laden with chemicals. 
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for what you need!


Have you had a stay in a hospital recently? What tips would you add to my list?


I’m Back! (Sort Of)

ArchieYou may have noticed that I haven’t done very much blogging this year. The year started with me not feeling very well, and I didn’t think anyone would want to hear about health and food from someone whose own health was questionable. I also didn’t have very much energy to keep up with this blog in addition to the other sites that I write for. My symptoms were vague and seemingly unrelated: exhaustion, weight gain, back aches, acid reflux, and digestive problems. I thought it could be the winter blues or perhaps just getting older. Or maybe I needed to exercise more and drink more green juice. 


I’ve had health problems in the past, and doctors visits turned into tests, which turned into “we’re still not sure what’s going on,” so I was reluctant to see a doctor. Since I’m a health coach, I figured I could manage things myself for a while, and I was sure I’d feel better once spring hit. I tried to allow myself more time for sleep, squeezed in some extra exercise, and I even did a mini juice fast. I still didn’t feel well. While doing yoga in early February I realized that I had pain in my abdomen and I could’t lie on my belly. This was now beyond my scope of expertise and I knew it was time to see a doctor. Since I wasn’t really sure what was going on, I made appointments with my gastroenterologist and gynecologist. The gyno had an opening two weeks earlier than that gastro doctor did, so I went to her.  I really dislike going to the doctor, and my blood pressure almost always rises. I was also sure I’d be lectured on my weight, which, of course, I was. I explained that I gained it all pretty quickly and I wasn’t sure what was going on, but it pretty much fell on deaf ears. (And of course, there was no advice given on how to lose weight. I certainly didn’t need it, but I know that a lot of people do, which is why I became a health coach!)  The doctor said she could feel tightness in my abdomen and sent me for an ultrasound. The scan showed a massive cyst on my right ovary. We’re talking gigantic. Like all the way up to my ribcage big. We’ve all heard stories about people finding out that they have giant cysts or tumors, and it’s always seemed so unbelievable that someone could live with a mass that large in his or her body without realizing it. My symptoms were mainly fatigue and weight gain, so yeah, it was hard to believe that I had something that large hitching a ride in my belly. I went for more scans and tests, and surgery to remove it was scheduled.


Going into surgery was terrifying. I only got an hour and a half of sleep the night before. The doctor wasn’t sure what she would find along with the cyst, so she prepared me for the worst. I knew that my right ovary wasn’t salvageable, so it would be removed along with the fallopian tube, but the doctor warned me that she might have to remove more, depending on what she found once she opened me up. Fortunately there were no surprises and the surgery went smoothly. The cyst was mucous in nature and had grown from my first appointment – the doctor said it was about the size of a watermelon! The cyst was partially behind my uterus, hence the back pain, and it was firmly attached to my intestines, which was causing the digestive problems. It was crushing some of organs including my stomach, which is why I was experiencing acid reflux. My appendix was also removed because mucous cysts are related to appendix problems.



I wish the hospital stay had gone as smoothy as the surgery itself. I knew I’d be staying at least one night, and I was prepared for an evening of being poked and prodded with very little sleep.  I was woken up on a regular basis for blood tests and vital sign checks. There was also a thumping in the walls that started at 4am and the guy down the hall that screamed constantly. (I’m not even sure what he was doing there, since I was in a women’s ward.) The beds were designed to prevent blood clots in patients who can’t move around very much, so the mattresses “massage” and move on their own, which I liked at first, but after a while I found it extremely annoying and it kept me from sleeping. The hospital I was in is a teaching hospital, and rounds started around 5:30 am, with teams of attending doctors, residents and med students coming in my room to gawk at me.   Most of the nurses, nurses aids and nursing students were really awesome and took great care of me. There were also holistic nurses who came to visit me who treated me with reiki, acupressure and reflexology. I was fortunate to get a private room though, and for that I was very thankful. Dennis was able to spend as much time as he wanted with me, and his company let him work from home, which actually meant working from the hospital thanks to free WiFi.


One night in the hospital turned into two, because they wanted to make sure I could walk, eat, and go the bathroom before I left. Day two I was on a liquid diet of vegetable broth, ginger ale, tea, lemon ice, fruit gels and water. Ick! Unfortunately my body disliked the “food” as much my mind did, and I spent my second night in the hospital being very sick. I was sent for x-rays which showed that peristalsis hadn’t started back up from the anesthesia. The solution to getting things flowing again was sticking a tube into my nose, through my throat and into my stomach. If that sounds unpleasant, imagine how it feels! I guess there’s something funky with my nasal cavities, because the tube wouldn’t go past a certain point. There were three attempts, and it ended with blood shooting out of my nose. Honestly, vomiting was more pleasant.



After four nights I was able to come home, and I’ve spent the past two weeks resting, relaxing, snuggling with kitties, reading, and watching movies. Since the cyst was so large, the incision is really big. I’ve been in some pain, but healing has begun and I feel a little better every day. I’m 20 pounds lighter than I was a month ago, my acid reflux is totally gone, and my back does’t ache. I’m on the mend and beginning to get back into the swing of things. I’m easing my way back to blogging, so stay tuned for more recipes, vegan lifestyle tips, and health info soon!

Upcoming Events

Easy and Delicious Vegan Meals Cooking Class at Designer Appliances    

Join me and Jenna from Good Good Things Saturday, February 15th at Designer Appliances in Upper Montclair for a free cooking class! I will be cooking up lots of of delicious vegan dishes for your tasting pleasure. Recipes and samples will be provided to attendees.  


Vegan Cooking Class


Saturday, February 15, 1:00 – 4:00 pm


Designer Appliances

208 Bellevue Avenue, Upper Montclair NJ



Joni Marie Newman Book Signing   

I’m thrilled to be hosting cookbook author Joni Marie Newman at her book signing in Montclair on February 27th. Joni will be chatting about her new book Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen.


Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen book signing 


Thursday, February 27, 8:00 – 9:00 pm


Watchung Booksellers

54 Fairfield Street, Montclair NJ



Photo of Joni Marie Neman by Celine Steen.

Tofu and Shirataki Noodle Stir-Fry

Tofu and Shirataki Noodle Stir-Fry

I made this dish a few weeks ago at my Easy Weeknight Dinner Cooking Class at the local ShopRite along with Asian-Inspired Mandarin Orange Salad. I often see clients who think they don’t have enough time to cook a healthy meal when they get home from work, but this dish comes together in a flash. I suggest buying pre-cut veggies and pre-cubed tofu to those who work long hours and are exhausted by the time they get home. Shirataki noodles are made with yam flour and are extremely low in calories. They don’t have any flavor of their own, but they absorb the taste of what they’re cooked with quickly. If you like your stir-frys saucy, feel free to double the sauce. 


Tofu and Shirataki Noodle Stir-Fry


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, divided
  • 14-oz. pkg. firm tofu, drained and cut into small cubes
  • 1” piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 bunch of broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 package shirataki noodles, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons garlic chili sauce or red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • Sriracha (optional)


Tofu and Shirataki Noodle Stir-Fry


  1. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil and one tablespoon of tamari in large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Stir-fry the tofu for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown on all sides. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet or wok, cook the ginger and garlic in the olive oil over medium-high heat for about a minute.
  3. Add the carrot, broccoli and mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently until the broccoli turns bright green and the mushrooms start to soften, for about 5 minutes.
  4. While the vegetables are cooking, mix together the toasted sesame oil, garlic chili sauce or red pepper flakes, apple cider vinegar, remaining soy sauce and cornstarch.
  5. Add the sauce mixture, noodles, tofu and scallions to the skillet. Cook for another 5 minutes or, stirring frequently, to allow the noodles to absorb the sauce.
  6. Remove from heat and top with sesame seeds and sriracha, if using.


Serves 4



I’m submitting this recipe to Healthy Vegan Fridays and Gluten-Free Fridays.


Like what you’re reading? Join me on Facebook!

Superbowl Snacks

I’ve heard that there’s a big sports ball match this weekend. (It’s actually taking place just a few miles from here, so I’m staying locked inside, far away from the crowds, with the Puppy Bowl in the TV.) This is a big weekend for snacking, so I’ve put together list of viewing-party appropriate snacks. Whether you’re planning on watching the Big Game, the Puppy Bowl or an NCIS marathon on cable on Sunday, here are some snacks to get your party started.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASuper Bowl Sunday is a big day for avocados. It’s estimated that 80 million pounds of avocados are consumed each year at this time. That’s a whole lotta guacamole! My Guaca-Verde-Mole combines everyone’s favorite dip with salsa verde for an extra tasty treat. 



No-Bean Hummus and my Fresh Tomato Salsa are both super easy to make and both are party perfect snacks. 



I’ve heard that there’s a Cheese Whiz shortage this year, and some people are worried that there won’t be enough of their favorite processed chemical laden cheese-like snack for their weekend parties. Skip the junk and give my simple Cashew Cheddar Cheese Spread a try. Mix it with Fresh Tomato Salsa for a tasty queso-style dip.


5-Layer-DipMy Easy-Peasy Five Layer Dip has become my go-to snack for parities. It’s so popular that omnivore friends have made this vegan version for their own parties because they know it tasts so good. My guests always expect this dip when I throw a party, and I’m now afraid that if I don’t make it, there will be an uprising!


Like what you’re reading? Follow me! Facebook, TwitterPinterest

Vegan Cooking at Designer Appliances

Tempeh Marsala >>

Join me Saturday, February 15th at Designer Appliances in Upper Montclair for a free cooking class! I will be cooking up lots of of delicious vegan dishes for your tasting pleasure. Recipes, samples and coupons will be provided to attendees.  



Vegan Cooking Class


Saturday, February 15, 1:00 – 3:00 pm


Designer Appliances

208 Bellevue Avenue, Upper Montclair NJ

Dr. Fuhrman