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

Kale and Quinoa Salad

Kale is a funny little vegetable. For the last decade or so, it was primarily used as a decoration for salad bars, providing a pretty green backdrop for its friends spinach and romaine, and the ever popular iceberg lettuce. And then someone decided to eat it. Kale has a bad rap with people who like bashing on healthy food. And sure, it’s tough, and fibrous, and makes you gassy if you eat too much, but come on, it’s good for you. Right?


Kale is having a serious moment though. Kale chips make up like half the aisle at Sprouts, and it’s move beyond just salad bar decorations and into the salad itself. But it’s nasty and gross raw. Sorry, kale. It’s true. It feels like eating plastic.

So you have to cook it. Cooking kale makes everything better. It’s suddenly tender, and delicious, and you can add quinoa and strawberries and homemade garlicky dressing and it turns into something like this:

Kale and Quinoa Salad

Which looks a lot more palatable than the sad salad bar trim it used to be.

This salad is easy. There’s a lot of waiting around for things to boil and season and whatnot.

You need:

2 teaspoons salt

300g kale, raw

2/3 cup quinoa, uncooked

250 g strawberries, chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

3 cloves garlic

First, bring a large-ish pot of salted water to a boil. While that’s heating up, remove the leafy bits of the kale from the stalk and tear them into reasonably bite sized pieces. Wash them, and once the water boils, turn off the heat and put the kale in, leaving it for about ten minutes.

While the kale is cooking, wash the quinoa. The reason a lot of people think quinoa leaves a bitter aftertaste is because of a natural coating on the grains, called saponin, which tastes like soap and is a defense mechanism the plant uses against little animals. So you have to rinse it a few times, draining and re-rinsing, until the water stops looking sudsy. Put that on to cook until the water (should use 1.5 times as much water as quinoa, so in this case, one cup) is mostly evaporated and the quinoa is cooked.

At this point, the kale leaves should be bright green, like something Robin Hood would enjoy wearing. Drain them, and let them sit in the strainer to cool.

Chop up the strawberries if you haven’t done so already. You could replace them with dried cranberries, but fresh strawberries have less sugar.

Take the olive oil and heat it in a little saucepan. Once it’s almost boiling, turn off the heat. While it’s cooling a little, chop up the garlic as fine as you can get it, and then carefully put it in the oil. It’ll bubble and sizzle, but should not be frying. Once that settles down, you’re good to go.

Mix everything up in a big bowl, coating the garlic olive oil over everything. Heating and cooling the oil makes a difference in how it tastes, I promise. I’m not crazy.

  • Makes four servings. Each serving has:
  • 218 calories
  • 14.9g fat
  • 31.5mg sodium
  • 430.4mg potassium
  • 18.5 carbohyrates
  • 4.4g fiber
  • 5.1g sugar
  • 5.1g protein
  • 149.9% DV* Vitamin A
  • 219.2% DV* Vitamin C
  • 13% DV* Calcium
  • 10.2% DV* Iron
  • *Daily Values based on a 2,000 calorie diet. 


Garlic Roasted Broccoli

This is the most delicious thing I’ve ever made. I know I say that a lot, but this is really good. It’s broccoli. With garlic.

roasted broccoli

And it’s one of those super quick twenty minute recipes you can put together at the last second when you want a side dish, but let’s be real, I just eat it as a meal.

You need:

1 head of broccoli, chopped into bite sized florets

3 tsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic

1 pinch salt

1 pinch black pepper

4 tsp grated Parmesan (optional)

The first thing you should do is put the garlic in the olive oil and let it sit. Also preheat your oven to 400F, with one rack about five inches from the top heating element. Once you’ve got the broccoli chopped up, toss it with the garlic and olive oil, making sure it’s evenly coated. Spread it on a foil-lined baking sheet, and slide it into the oven for about fifteen to twenty minutes, until the edges of the broccoli are nicely browned. Pull it out and toss it with the Parmesan.

Isn’t it great?

Sorry I’ve been MIA for a while. Lots of things happening, not all of them fun. You can always reach me on Twitter, Instagram, another Instagram, or email me at


Tuna Sandwiches Are Not Just For Tigers

(Yes, tigers. Like Hobbes from Calvin and Hobbes, who loved tuna sandwiches. I’m not crazy.)

I made the best tuna sandwich today. I mean, look at it.

tuna sandwich

I like tuna because it’s pretty high protein while still being low fat, and the taste isn’t super overwhelming. I really love tuna salad with pomegranate in it. I know some people put in walnuts and dried cranberries, but trust me, pomegranate is so much better. The seeds are sweet and tart, and just a little crunchy. And it doesn’t make the texture all weird like cranberries and walnuts do. I also chop my celery pretty small, so there’s no chunks, and add a pinch of paprika for a little kick. And most importantly, I toast the bread on a pan on the stove so it can hold up better than toast from the toaster.

It’s good, I promise. Go try it.

Also, as you may or may not have noticed, my posts have slowed down considerably. Now, if I were the sort of adult who planned things out, I wouldn’t be having this issue. But it’s the nearing end of my semester, Desiree’s wedding is coming up in a week (holy shit, Des.) and I’m running around like a panicky chicken. So bear with me, I do have some posts planned out that I need to write up, and after the first week of December everything should be back to normal. In the meantime, you can follow my Instagram, which I post to semi-regularly. And if you want to write a guest post or two for me, email me at

Enjoy your sandwiches!

Masala Chai Macarons

So as you know, I’ve been trying to ages to make macarons. Something always goes wrong. But Friday I managed to make a decent batch of red velvet macarons. I was so excited. Then I got distracted with making tea masala, and then had a fantastic idea.

What about masala chai flavored macarons?! I mean, it’s not too far off from the red velvet. Instead of adding cocoa powder and red food color, I just need to add tea masala and tint the batter brown-ish. Easy enough.

I started with a basic macaron recipe, found here, and then added a tablespoon of tea masala to the dry ingredients, plus a teaspoon of loose tea leaves that had been ground into a super fine powder. To the meringue, I added a tablespoon of very strong tea, mostly for color (Very strong is subjective. My mom thinks I make tea and coffee too strong, I believe that if you’re not twitching after half a cup it doesn’t count.)

And guess what.

It actually worked.


I was so excited. And they taste amazing. The frosting I used was the same cream cheese frosting for the red velvet ones, and that recipe is here.

You can buy tea masala in any Indian store, but since I only needed a little and had the ingredients on hand, I made it myself. For this recipe it was about five cloves, two cardamom pods, a teaspoon of ground ginger, a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and a pinch of black pepper, all ground up and sifted to a very fine powder.

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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