Monthly Archives: April 2016

Chocolate Chia Pudding

Recipe: Chocolate Chia Pudding

Last week I was assisting an awesome class with Chef Jill Burns on Inflammation. I usually really dislike chia pudding… and that’s putting it mildly! Something about the texture doesn’t sit well with me. But, this chocolate chia pudding we made was out of this world! I made a few changes to make the recipe a little simpler and reduced the sugar. The thing that’s different about this chia seed pudding recipe is that you heat the liquid ingredients. This helps the chia seed absorb more of the moisture. I don’t know why I never thought of that! Anyway 🙂 I promise you, it’s delicious!

Not only is it delicious, but it has some beneficial properties! Especially when compared to a typical dessert. Chia seeds are a good source of fiber, protein, calcium, antioxidants, and omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids are especially important when it comes to inflammation. The most common place we hear about Omega-3s is from fish (or fish oil supplements). However, there are some plant-based sources of Omega-3s (like chia seeds). Omega-3s not only reduce inflammation, but they also seem to help lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. I say it’s worth incorporating them into your diet!

And, if you have dietary restrictions, this recipe is pretty safe. It’s gluten free, vegan, soy free, dairy free, vegetarian, paleo, low carb, refined sugar free and I’m sure the list could keep going! Ha! Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Chocolate Chia Pudding


1 can full-fat coconut milk (about 2 cups)

2.5 tbs cocoa powder
3/4 tsp vanilla
5 tbs chia seeds
1/4 cup maple syrup (feel free to add the maple syrup tablespoon by tablespoon to your desired sweetness – there are 4 tablespoons in 1/4 cup)
2 tbs almond or peanut butter
pinch of salt


Whisk the liquid ingredients and cocoa powder together in a saucepan.
Once well incorporated, add the chia seeds and stir.
Cook on low heat until the chia seeds have expanded and aren’t crunchy anymore.
Put in ramekins or small serving bowls (or tupperware!) and put in the fridge to set.

For a little extra fun, serve topped with toasted nuts, coconut, berries or cocao nibs.


Thanks to Free People for the image! You can check out their chocolate chia pudding recipe here.

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shiitake bacon

Recipe: Shiitake Bacon

I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 5, and I’ve never had bacon! But, I hear this stuff is pretty close to the real thing! The first time I had shiitake bacon was at the Natural Gourmet Institute, and it was just so yummy! Crispy, kinda sweet, salty and lots of umami. You can’t go wrong!

And if taste wasn’t enough to hook you, shiitake mushrooms also have tons of health benefits. They have been used in Chinese medicine for ages, and are a great source of non-animal based iron and B vitamins. They also have immune boosting properties and support cardiovascular health. I’m sold!

Shiitake bacon is a great way to get more mushrooms in your diet, and it’s also super easy to make. One of my good friends even makes a batch of this every week as part of his meal prep. It’s great in soups, in sandwiches, on top of mac and cheese, as a snack and anywhere else! My one suggestion… make a lot! They definitely shrink and will go quickly. Trust me, your family, guests and friends will be impressed.

Once you get the hang of a basic shiitake bacon, feel free to experiment with fun additions like smoked paprika, tamari, maple syrup, cayenne, liquid smoke and other flavor enhancers.

Shiitake Bacon


2 cups shiitake mushrooms (thinly sliced)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt (to taste)
*tamari, maple syrup and smoked paprika are lovely optional additions


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Thinly slice the shiitake mushrooms.
3. Coat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt (add any of the optional ingredients here).
4. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer – make sure not to crowd them.
5. Bake for 10-15 minutes (cooking time will vary depending on how thin the mushrooms are sliced).
6. Remove from the oven and flip, baking another 10 minutes until the mushrooms are crispy. Feel free to cook to your personal taste. I like mine a little less well done, other people like them on the verge of being burnt.

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meal planning made easy

The Power of a Fully Stocked Fridge

One of my clients posted this photo with the following comment on her Instagram today:

Today I had the pleasure of standing in front of a fridge packed with healthy food thanks to the genius meal planning of @simplysamanthanyc, so I’m replenishing with this lovely plate of goodness. My body says thank you.

Woohoo! You know I love a meal planning victory as much as the next person. And, it got me thinking, there are so many things we can all do to make a difference for ourselves and our bodies throughout the week. I know I’ve been slacking lately, but I’m about to go remedy that now 🙂 If you want to join me, here are some tips that work really well.

Before You Begin Meal Planning

Before you even try to start getting organized around your food for the week, you’ve gotta create some space. Everyone’s fridge tells a story. There’s the old condiments that no one uses, or the olives that expired in 2007. Get rid of it. All of it. You’ve gotta make room for the new, and the only way I know to do that is by cleaning out the old.

Besides, you want to feel good when you open the fridge. The longer you avoid something, the harder it is to tackle. Clutter in the fridge is not your friend. You want your fridge stocked with healthy foods that are easy to get to and easy to see.

What To Put In or Meal Planning Reductionism

I love a good recipe, especially when it’s new flavor combinations that I wouldn’t have thought of naturally. Recipes are great, and so is meal planning. And, there’s a time and a place. A new recipe just isn’t going to cut it when you’re tired and hungry (or hangry, as I like to say). Laying out a super specific meal plan also takes a lot of time, and when you get to the market and they’re out of something, it can throw you for a loop. Sometimes, you just need a quick fix of healthy and nutritious food, and that’s what this post is about. Meal planning reductionism 🙂

Below is a list of 5 foods you can have ready for the week that will ensure that you have food ready whenever you need it.

Eggs. I always suggest that people who eat eggs hard boil a bunch of them in the beginning of the week. They’re great on their own as a snack or breakfast on the go, or you can add them to salads for some extra protein. Plus they will last all week. Can’t beat that!

Root Veggies. Root veggies are very grounding and satisfying and make a great addition to almost any meal. You can bake a bunch of sweet potatoes in the beginning of the week, or chop up and roast a variety of root veggies. You can add them to salads, bake them in frittatas, eat them on their own or with a protein side, make them into a pureed soup or make a hash. There are tons of options and since you already did the hard part (chopping and baking), it will take you no time to do the rest.

Greens. I always recommend that my clients buy a bunch of salad greens in the beginning of the week. If it’s there, most people will eat it. Plus greens are a great base for any meal. I also recommend buying at least one cooking green like kale, Swiss chard or collard greens. Saute with garlic, olive oil, ginger and/or onion for a great side. You can also add cooking greens to soups or stews for some color and added nutrients.

Grains.  One of my mantras isnever cook one meal at a time”. If you’re already going to dirty a pot and get some water boiling, you might as well double the recipe and save yourself some time. Making a large pot of grains in the beginning of the week is a great way to ensure balanced and filling meals for the week. I like quinoa or brown rice, but there are tons of other options. You can make them into grain salads, add herbs to liven them up or cook them with some coconut milk or other milk, cinnamon, sweetener and raisins to make a rice pudding for breakfast or dessert. If you make too much, you can always share with a friend or freeze them 🙂 Grains actually freeze really well in an airtight ziplock.

Protein. For vegans and vegetarians who eat legumes, making a pot of lentils or beans in the beginning of the week is a great idea. You can season them simply and then add new flavors to them throughout the week. Some spices that go great with beans or lentils are cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne and chili powder. I like bean or lentil salads with fresh diced veggies and herbs. I also love stews made with root veggies and beans. With the base already made, putting these dishes together is so much quicker.

Now what?

Based on this list, you have a bunch of stuff you can add to your weekly shopping list each week to make sure that there’s always something ready to eat in the fridge without having to spend a ton of time in the kitchen. It will save you time, money, and your body will thank you! Plus you can keep the same ingredients interesting over time with a few of my tricks.

  1. Eggs
  2. Salad Greens
  3. Cooking Greens
  4. Lentils or beans (any variety)
  5. Root Veggies (sweet potato, carrots, parsnips, squash…)
  6. Grains (quinoa, brown rice, millet…)

I love hearing from you and seeing what you’re creating! If you make something new based on this post, I’d love to see it. You can send me a photo or tag me on Instagram or Facebook @simplysamanthanyc.

For more info on meal planning, download my free guide here. You can also read about my 6 kitchen essentials here.

With love,


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