Lychee Berry Chia Jam (It’s Vegan!)

Recently, I decided to go vegan. Not for any moral or ethical reason, but that’s a nice bonus. I can’t really process meat well, dairy makes my skin break out, so really all I’m giving up is eggs, which I’m not too fond of anyways, so…no big life changes here. But I did start a new Instagram, because I figure I’m more likely to make healthy dishes if I can take pretty pictures for the internet, and I didn’t want to spam everyone on my personal Instagram a million times a day with pictures of food. The new, vegan food based Instagram is here. I’ll post recipes on this blog every so often, but a lot of things are really simple (because it’s summer in Texas and I don’t want to be in a hot kitchen) so they don’t need recipes.

Also, I’m not a real big fan of jams or jellies in general, because I feel they’re way too sweet, so being able to control the sweetness for this one was a big help, and I like it a lot.

Look at all those fresh berries. I used strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries, but really you can use any fruit you like, the recipe is really flexible. 

Lychee Berry Chia Jam

350g strawberries, quartered.

100 g blackberries, cut in half

150g raspberries

1/4 cup lychee juice/nectar 

4 tbsp chia seeds, divided

3 tbsp light agave nectar

First things first I took 3 tablespoons of chia seeds and put them in the lychee juice to soak. Save the remaining tablespoon for the end, you may or may not need it.

Next, chop up your berries. You’ll be smashing them later, but chop them roughly how big you want them to end up. I found that chopping the strawberries and the blackberries at least was best, the raspberries smashed easily without being chopped. Put your berries in a medium saucepan and heat them, on low to medium heat. They’ll release their juice and cook down. After they get soft, turn the heat as low as you can, take a potato masher or fork, and mash them to however chunky you want them.

Your chia seeds should have absorbed all of the juice by now, so add that to the saucepan and mix well. The chia thickens the jam so you don’t have to use pectin.

Add the agave nectar, and taste (blow on the spoon, this is hot), adding more if you prefer your jam sweet.

Turn off the heat, and if you feel you have too much liquid, add the remaining chia seeds, and stir so they absorb it.

Let the jam come to room temperature before you put it in a jar, it’ll set some more, and then put it in the fridge.

One serving is about two tablespoons, and this recipe makes sixteen servings. Each two tablespoon serving has 44 calories, 0.9g fat, 8.4g carbs, and 1.1g protein.

This is my jam. 

I like having it on crackers, and it’s especially good with chocolate hazelnut butter.

As always, you can find me on Twitter or Instagram, by email,, or now at my new vegan food based instagram, PickyEatersInternational.




Spinach and Leek Hummus

I know, I know, two recipes in a row. Bear with me, I’ve been working more than usual. This one is quick and easy, I promise.

When I was a junior in high school, my Arabic teacher took us to the school kitchen and taught us how to make hummus. I remember thinking it was remarkably easy, and she mentioned how you could add basically anything to the base recipe. And since spinach is so versatile, and I add it to pretty much everything, today I decided to add it to hummus. And it was fantastic.

Green hummus

Don’t let the bright green color fool you, you can hardly taste the spinach. And the recipe is so simple.

You need:

1 can (14oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

30g leeks, chopped

80g fresh spinach

5g (3 cloves) garlic, roughly chopped

2 tbsp tahini

1 tbsp olive oil

First, heat the olive oil and lightly roast the leeks and the garlic. What I like to do is let the oil heat completely, and then toss in the garlic and leeks, immediately turning off the heat. Everything will sizzle nicely while you do the rest, which means you don’t have to actively watch it.

While that’s happening, put the chickpeas and tahini in the blender, and pulse it until it’s mostly pureed. You might need to add water, do so a tablespoon at a time until it’s the consistency of peanut butter.

At this point, take the leeks and garlic off the stove and put it in the blender, getting as much of the olive oil into the blender as well. Blend it up.

When that’s all smooth, slowly at the spinach until it’s all incorporated. You can add some salt at this point too, I needed about a teaspoon. I also added a touch of paprika. Chili powder would have been ideal, but I didn’t have any.

Once everything is blended and there are no chunks, you’re good to go. Serve with pita chips, tortilla chips, on toast, whatever floats your boat.

As always, you can find me on Twitter or Instagram, and by email at

Actually Cooking: Super Easy Pesto

Again, I’m sticking the recipe right up here so you don’t have to scroll through a rambling narrative on my kitchening mistakes.

Super Easy Pesto

2 oz by weight (or 4 tightly packed cups) of fresh basil.

1/2 cup grated parmesan

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic

salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 350F, and spread the pine nuts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Pop them in the oven for ten minutes, and [carefully] stir them around halfway through. This is an optional step, but I think it makes the pesto taste so much better.

While the pine nuts are cooling, put about half the olive oil and all the basil in the food processor or blender, and grind it up. It doesn’t have to be perfect, you’re gonna be blending for a while.

Once it’s reasonably liquidy, add the parmesan and garlic and pine nuts, along with the rest of the olive oil, and blend until it’s as smooth as you’d like. You can add more olive oil to make it runnier if you’d like. This recipe comes out to the consistency of mayo or very soft butter.

That’s basically it. It keeps pretty well in the fridge.

Not pictured because I forgot and didn't want to retake the picture: two cloves garlic.
Not pictured because I forgot and didn’t want to retake the picture: two cloves garlic.

Okay. Now I’ve got the recipe out of the way. I like planting things. But not flowers. My mom likes flowers, and while I think they’re pretty and smell nice, I thinks flowers just for the sake of being flowers are kind of pointless. So I like planting herbs and veggies instead. I planted a bunch of basil a few months ago, and it grew really well. I should’ve taken a picture before I picked all the leaves.

At this point I’d like to note that all I knew about making pesto was that it’s basically basil plus cheese plus pine nuts plus olive oil plus garlic. No idea what the proportions were, so I actually did some research this time, because apparently pine nuts are like $20 a pound so like hell was I buying more than I absolutely needed. I cobbled my recipe together by kind of looking over a few different sources, like AllRecipes and Martha Stewart and whatnot.

But I had all this basil, and while my mom makes a really good spinach pesto pasta sauce, I had had a craving for actual pesto, and we didn’t have any spinach. All I needed to buy for this was pine nuts, so after a Sprouts run I had a little bag of very expensive nuts. I also discovered that toasted pine nuts smell like my Aaji’s fried shrimp recipe. I then chunked everything into the blender, and went to town.

And it turned out freaking amazing.

I mean, look at that. You can practically smell the basil through the screen.
I mean, look at that. You can practically smell the basil through the screen.

I was so proud of myself. Usually when I try a new recipe it takes me a try or two to get something that resembles the finished product (ahem. Macarons.). But this pesto actually turned out really good. I had it on gluten free toast with tomatoes on top.

The brand of bread is Schar's. It's not bad, but I like Glutino a lot better.
The brand of bread is Schar’s. It’s not bad, but I like Glutino a lot better.

And not gonna lie, not only did I have pesto and tomato toast for dinner that night, but also lunch the next day (yesterday). And pesto on gluten free ravioli last night. And may or may not be eating pesto and tomato toast for lunch today.

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