Dairy-Free Bourbon Butterscotch Pudding

Butterscotch. Is it becoming a thing of the past….?

When I was a little girl, it seemed like I was surrounded by a never-ending supply of butterscotch goodies (which may have had something to do with my mothers sweet tooth and obsession with everything butterscotch) but it’s totally rare to find butterscotch treats these days. Damn you, 2015.

I mean, I can remember butterscotch puddings, butterscotch pies, butterscotchy cookies, and these little pastries that we’d melt butterscotch chips into. My mouth is watering as I reminisce on the “good ole days”…

I can remember the FEW times that I’ve found butterscotch ANYTHING in my adult life. Beans & Barley in Milwaukee has butterscotch pie for sale every now and then (or at least they did years ago), and Work & Class in Denver and Hub 51 in Chicago both have butterscotchy desserts that are to die for. That’s it. That’s all I’ve found in the recent years.

Dairy-Free Bourbon Butterscotch Pudding

For years, I’ve thought about making my own homemade butterscotch pudding but I was too intimidated to go for it until recently. I grew a pair of balls, ya’ll and good thing I did because I crushed it.

Not only is butterscotch pudding ridiculously easy to make (as long as you can make quick moves in the kitch), it’s also:
not tooth-achingly sweet
and it does not lack complex flavor

EVEN THOUGH it’s dairy free and egg-free…. (which is why you might be thinking that this pudding recipe can’t possibly be all I’m hyping it up to be – I dare you to put it to the test)

What this recipe does include is a little bit of Bourbon and some Real Deal Vanilla Extract. Please, please, please do not exclude bourbon and vanilla from this pudding. The first time I tried this recipe, I didn’t have any bourbon on hand, and I was all lazy-like so I made the pudding without it. The result could be named some like “Sugar Pudding” – it was overly sweet and lacked in real deal flavor.

I feel lucky to have gotten some of Oh Lady Cakes Real Deal Vanilla Extract when it went on sale but she is completely sold out now so you won’t be able to get any of it for this recipe (until Dec 2015) HOWEVER you can make this pudding with ANY real vanilla extract. I recommend you stay away from the imitation stuff. As an alternative to the Real Deal, I like Trader Joe’s Bourbon Vanilla Extract.

Dairy-Free Bourbon Butterscotch Pudding

{dairy-free} Bourbon Butterscotch Pudding
  • 6 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1½ cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4½ cups unsweetened plain almond milk, divided
  • 2 tablespoons dairy-free margarine, softened (I use Earth Balance)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  1. Pudding cooks quickly so it's important that you gather and measure all of your ingredients before you being making it. Do that now - and be sure to grab a small saucepan and a wire whisk or a wooden spoon as well.
  2. BEFORE you put the saucepan over heat, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in it until they are mixed well.
  3. Add ½ cup of the almond milk to the mixture and place the saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently and thoroughly to completely dissolve the cornstarch and sugar.
  4. Add the remainder of the almond milk and the bourbon, stir constantly until the mixture thickens. This will take approximately 5 minutes.
  5. Once thickened, remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the margarine and vanilla.
  6. Transfer the pudding to a heatproof dish and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding, covering it completely. This will prevent a skin from forming on the top.
  7. Chill for a few hours prior to serving.
I tested this recipe without the bourbon and it was really sweet, almost too sweet. The bourbon helps to balance out the flavor and depth without being overpowering.

If you would like more of the bourbon flavor to be more prominent, add another tablespoon of it to the recipe. Really, you can't go wrong.
If you so desire, top your butterscotch pudding with a dollop of coconut whipped cream and/or some carob nibs (which is how I like it!)

Dairy-Free Bourbon Butterscotch Pudding

This recipe was adapted from a recipe on about food.




Crista's Garden

My garden. My outdoor sanctuary. I’ve blogged about it a time or two

Crista's Garden

This gardening season has been slow and daunting thus far. Too much rain,not enough rain. Too hot, not hot enough. Unfamiliar spaces, unfamiliar plants, trial & error, all things that I’ve dealt with this year.

Crista's Garden

FINALLY, just recently, I’m making progress & I’ve got some beautiful photos to prove it. A bragging moment: my yard is the most eye-catching on the block and I’m totally flaunting it.

Crista's Garden

My new friend Pam, The Brooklyn Farm Girl interviewed me and featured my beautiful sanctuary on her blog today, I’m excited to share it with you all. Click through to read the full interview and to see more photos of my garden space!!





Ridiculously Yummy Popcorn Toppings

It is no secret that I have an obsession with popcorn.
Like, I’ve been known to go days without eating anything other than popcorn.
(Don’t judge me, I’m not perfect.)

The first aisle I visit in the grocery store is usually the popcorn aisle and I’ve been known to show signs of anger and discontent when my favorite type of popcorn is out of stock. OK, I’m being a little dramatic here but I do like what I like and I like it to be available, always.

Recently, I’ve noticed a trend in my Pinterest feed and my web bookmarks that parallels my addiction – lots of (beautiful) popcorn photos (it photographs so well!) and recipes.

And anyway, a side note – eating popcorn makes me feel WAY LESS guilty than when I eat chips.

I’m nice, so I’m sharing my favorite Ridiculously Yummy Popcorn Toppings and Recipes. Have at it, friends!

Everything Bagel Popcorn

Recently, I’ve been on a Trader-Joe’s-Everything-Cracker kick (HAVE YOU HAD THEM?! OMG) so you can imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon the idea of Everything Popcorn. I’m all like “duh, why didn’t I think of that?!” I didn’t need to because Joanne from Eats Well With Others did. Thanks, lady.


Nooch Popcorn

In place of butter, Ali from Gimme Some Oven uses Nooch on her popcorn. I love butter just as much as I love popcorn but it ain’t good. Nutritional yeast is nutritional and not greasy which is why I love the idea of using it as an alternative. Thanks Ali, don’t mind if I do.

Churro Kettle Popcorn

It’s like a skinny version of something you might find at the Minnesota State Fair but better… (click through  that link at your own risk). I thank Amy’s Healthy Baking for creating a recipe that provides nostalgia (back in the day, I tore up that state fair….)

Sriracha Popcorn

Sriracha. Popcorn. Need I say more? Wendy at Around My Family Table not only hooked us up with this recipe, but she’s got 18 more recipes (that I counted) here. Who has the bigger obsession – her or me?

Caramel Popcorn

A classic, made vegan – that’s the kind of shit I like. Now, if we can find a vegan cheddar popcorn recipe to blend with it, we’d have ourselves some bomb ass Chicago popcorn. I’ll give my request to Cassie at Vegan Insanity immediately.

Cilantro Lime Popcorn

How did Cassie from Bake Your Day know that I was looking for cilantro recipes because I’ve got a boatload of it in the garden? OH, she didn’t – this recipe was posted in 2013. Well anyway, I found it at the right time. Plus, I feel like I could really bond with Cassie because she has a popcorn addiction as well. Or, at least she did in 2013. Her & I should totally hang out.

Sweet & Salty Curried Popcorn

Either you’re one of those people who loves curry, or you’re one of those people who hates it. I’m one of those people who LOVES it so this recipe really speaks to me. Faith from the kitchn encourages people to eat this popcorn with chopsticks – FUN FACTOR! I’m in. Anyone interested in coming over for a popcorn/chopsticks night?!

Popcorn Puppy Chow

I know what you’re thinking, “that’s the best damn combination I’ve ever heard of Crista.”
I made the recipe up all on my own, but I didn’t keep it to myself. Have at it.

In other news, Have you ever popped popcorn in a brown paper bag? Just for fun:




Garden Must Haves

When I was shopping for my first home, one of my requirements is that it have some type of outdoor space. I wasn’t exactly clear on what that space needed to look like, but I knew that I needed room for a garden and it needed to feel Colorado-y. I moved here for the mountains and the outdoors, I wanted my home and my space to reflect that. 

I was lucky enough to find the most amazing little cottage that has an incredibly huge front yard with space for a garden, a hammock, a fire pit, succulents, rose bushes, and room to play. For the first time in years, it occurred to me that gardening is just about planting veggies in the ground – there is so much more that goes along with it if you have the space. This year I didn’t get many veggies in the ground because the space is funky (in a good way) and I’m still learning BUT I did have an opportunity to learn all about succulents, refinish a vintage wooden bench, paint and decorate a garden shed, lounge in my hammock, and begin a collection of clay pots (some of which I’ve painted pretty colors!). I have had SO. MUCH.FUN!

I find myself spending my free time visiting cute garden stores and browsing Etsy for anything and everything that I can use to decorate my yard and my garden shed. Seriously, I’ll spend any amount of money for the cutest things! I win, because my yard is shaping up to be an amazing space to hang out. (come on over if you’d like!)

Through my browsing on Etsy, I have found the most amazing adorable garden decor, some even suitable for the indoors. I couldn’t not share. Are you ready?

Just so you know, I have partnered up with Etsy via their Affiliate program. If you purchase anything via these links, I will earn a small commission. It’s interesting that I must disclose that information because I’ve never made more than $6 via an affiliate link. Clearly, I don’t write this post because of the $$, I write it because I’m in loooove. Here are the 25 Garden Must Have Items:

Garden Etsy
If you’re going to have a cutie little garden, you might as well have a cutie little sign that draws more attention to it. If my dog could read, maybe he’d get the hint that doggie pee does not belong in the clearly-marked garden! 

Garden Etsy
Speaking of markings, how adorable are these ceramic herb markers? There are two mystery items planted in my garden this year, which could have been prevented with the proper identification. (lesson learned!)

Garden Etsy
If you lack outdoor space, consider growing some herbs indoors or on a small patio. I give a DIY tutorial on indoor herb HERE.

Garden Etsy
After inheriting a succulent garden, I quickly learned which succulents don’t survive in the ground and must be planted in containers. I die for these adorable hanging planters, which would look amazing on my covered back patio. (I point out that it’s covered because these succulents need protection from the elements!)

Garden Etsy
Too cute for words. It’d be perfect hanging on a fence or in a garden shed (She Shed!)

Garden Hammock Etsy
I actually own this hammock (in a teal color) and it is AMAZING. It was custom-made to order in Nicaragua and is very high quality (not to mention uber comfy) – the addition of this hammock transformed my outdoor space in to a brag-worthy, vacation-like type setting. I’m in love, love.

Garden Etsy
I do not YET own this suspended outdoor hammock table, but I will soon. IT’S beyond NECESSARY.

Garden Etsy
If you’ve got space leftover in your yard after adding a hammock, you might as well add this epic fire pit as well. I’ve got a built-in fire pit in my yard, it’s a shame I haven’t been able to put it to use this year (damn you, rain!!)

Garden Etsy
In Colorado, we REPRESENT and you should too… every opportunity you get. Plus, doesn’t every garden need a beer cooler. I mean, walking back in to the house to grab a beer can be debilitating.

Garden Etsy
Decorate your home, decorate your garden shed, decorate your She Shed… so many uses for pretty flowers.

Garden Etsy
Say it loud and proud – that’s the point isn’t it?

Garden Etsy
Here is another for the indoor gardener – succulents ALWAYS make for beautiful centerpieces AND they’re easy to maintain, like REALLY easy.

Garden Etsy
I just recently learned about air plants (am I late to the game) – they are the bomb! They literally grow in the air (NOT SOIL!) and only need to be spritzed with water every 2-3 days or so. For a cool factor, add a few air plants to your indoor space. 

Garden Etsy
I probably wouldn’t actually use these garden tools, but I would keep them around for the cute factor. I mean, that mint green color couldn’t be prettier.

Garden Etsy
I am constantly carrying toting stuff between my garden shed and my garden space, this tote would be a perfect carry-all and would lessen the need of me having to make so many trips back and forth. Plus, it’s adorable.

Garden Etsy
Jerome the Gnome! This dude gets around.


Garden Etsy
Here is another option for the indoors. There are several different designs to choose from like an owl, a tree, or a kitty cat. I’m obsessed. AND, I’m thinking these would make great gifts as well.

Garden Etsy
Herbs tend to grow faster than you can use them If you’re going to grow them, you’re probably going to want a set of hooks to dry them from so you can use them all year round. I gift my closest friends dried herbs from my garden over the holidays – the gift costs me next to nothing, but it still ends up being everyone’s favorite gift.

Garden Etsy
This beautiful handmade piece would look great in or outside of the home. 

Garden Etsy
I have a love/hate relationship with bugs. OK, I love them most of the time and only hate them when they’re chomping on my vegetable garden. I constantly catch myself taking photos of bees, beetles, ladybugs, and any other colorful bug that I find so I must have an obsession. I’d love to encourage the bugs to stick around with this little house because I know so many of them are beneficial to the vegetables, plants, and compost bin.

Garden Etsy
CUTE! Like, cute, cute, cute, cute, cute!

Garden Etsy
In my wildest dreams, I dream of owning a ladder just like this. Should I go ahead and buy it now?


Garden Etsy
These garden markers sell in a customizable set of 3! SCORE! I need to order 4 sets because I’m growing sage, thyme, basil, stevia, lovage, rosemary, oregano, cilantro, mint, and chamomile. The additional 2 would definitely be lavender and parsley which I don’t have planted this year (boo!!)

Garden Etsy
Oh, HEY! little radishes that would look absolutely adorable in my yard. If you prefer vintage over custom, you should probably buy these veggie garden markers immediately. Because, cute.PLQdivider

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 Carrot Cake Juice

While I was in Austin, I had the pleasure of meeting Kayle from Cowgirls & Collard Greens. Although we didn’t get much face time, we’ve been in touch and have created a friendship that I cherish. I don’t have many blogger friends (yet), which is one (of many) reasons why Kayle will always hold a special place in my heart.  

#1 She’s absolutely adorable. #2 She’s a COWGIRL, yeeeeehaw! #3. She’s got a great blog and a great story, the type of story that brings tears to your eyes – in fact, I recently learned more of her story through an interview she did with The Sexy Vegan

Carrot Cake Juice

Lucky me, I get to share one of my favorite recipes on Cowgirls & Collard Greens today – I chose to share one of my favorite juice recipes, a Carrot Cake Juice, 1. because it’s ridiculously good and 2. because Kayle used juiced greens and veggies to heal her cancer. Blows my mind that you can heal cancer and your body through yummy foods like carrots, oranges, ginger, beets, and kale, and I’m privileged to contribute a recipe.

Visit Kayle’s blog to read more and see the recipe! 

Carrot Cake Juice 

If you enjoy Kayle’s blog, check her out on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.





Peanut Butter Banana Quinoa Piudding

I had just recently moved to Colorado when I found myself at the Native Foods Cafe in Boulder rapping with a young employee about food. I mentioned this blog and he mentioned a Banana Quinoa Pudding recipe he’d found on the internet. 

Peanut Butter Banana Quinoa Piudding

Choosing between a Watermelon Fresca, Lavender Lemonade, and Iced Tea at Native Foods can be tricky, but after I’d done so, I plopped down in to a seat and googled “vegan banana quinoa pudding.” Luckily, I immediately found the recipe I’d been told about.

I bookmarked that recipe for almost a year before trying it. I visited the bookmark several times throughout the year with intentions of making it. The problem is, I’ve got thousands of recipes bookmarked to try. I’d love to thank the guy from Native Foods who shared this recipe with me but sadly enough I don’t even remember what he looked like. If you’re out there reading dude, THANKS!!! 

I changed the original recipe slightly, well, I beefed it up – I added peanut butter (request from the BF), blueberries (because I had them on hand) and cacao nibs (chocolate + texture). This easy-to-make, nourishing, sweet, delectable pudding is just too fabulous to not share.

Peanut Butter Banana Quinoa Piudding

Peanut Butter Banana Quinoa Pudding
  • 1 cup quinoa (you can use red or white quinoa - I used a mix)
  • 2 cups almond milk or coconut milk (or a combo of both)
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • ½ cup peanut butter (or more if you like!)
  • 3 Tbsp agave nectar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • a splash of vanilla extract
  • a handful of cacao nibs
  • ¼ cup blueberries
  1. After rinsing the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, put it into a pot with the almond milk and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Mix in the bananas, peanut butter, agave nectar, cinnamon, and vanilla and stir over medium heat until thickened. Cool for about 10 minutes, then mix in the blueberries and cacao nibs just before serving.
recipe adapted from Vegan Fling

Peanut Butter Banana Quinoa Piudding




When we were in Hawaii, everyone was all “DO NOT LEAVE THIS ISLAND WITHOUT EATING AN ACAI BOWL, OR ELSE!!” And we were all, “damn…. ok…. or else, what??” At that time, I’d heard of the acai bowl, probably via pinterest, they were just making their debut on the main land, but I didn’t know much about them. Our fear of being struck down by the Hawaiian Acai Gods led us to order a bowl while at the Green World Coffee Farm. Although it was a chilly, rainy morning, the type of morning that keeps you craving warmth and fuzziness, the Acai Bowl served us well – not only as a special treat, but as a filling and nourishing breakfast. I’m not going to lie, I’m glad we got to experience the Acai Bowl in Hawaii before it became mainstream on the mainland. I feel all “authentic” even though I’m pretty sure the acai berry isn’t at all authentic in Hawaii.


After camping all weekend, we craved showers, air conditioning, all of the modern luxuries that we’d temporarily abandoned. To our dismay, we came home to a hot, 90 degree home. You see, I have a swamp cooler in my new house that I know nothing about, it was pushing our re-circulated, 90 degree air. We laid around for hours trying to stay cool. Craving cool relief, we decided to make Acai bowls for dinner. I briefly read the directions (“briefly” being the key word), I didn’t pull up any recipes (I was too hot to look at my laptop haha), and it was my first time (need excuses) – the point is, I forgot to add fruit while blending which gave us liquid-y acai bowls. We were too hot to care or do anything about it, but I did learn a valuable lesson. Since then, I’ve read several recipes (some that I’ve had bookmarked for quite a while) and in my mind I’ve perfected my acai-bowl-making skills. I’m in a hotel for the week, but I’ll test my skills when I’m back on the homefront.

For fun, and to add to the reader experience of this blog post, I’ve included some of my favorite blog posts/recipes from some cool blogger chicks that helped me up my acai bowl game, and could do the same for you!  

Acai Bowl

Kathy from Healthy Happy Life shared a post in 2013 (she was totally ahead of the game!) that basically tells you everything you need to know about making an Acai Bow, including some awesome tips like adding frozen fruit to the bottom of your acai bowl. She’s tested several different brands of acai and shares her favorites. This is the post I’d recommend any first-time Acai Bowl maker visit. The post: “How-to Make Acai Bowls for Summer


Sophia from Veggies Don’t Bite created an Acai Bowl based on a World Cup Competition she was entering at the time (you never know what you’ll find on the internet). I love the addition of peaches and pecans to the bowl – two ingredients I wouldn’t have originally thought to add. The Post: “The World Cup Blueberry Peach Pecan Acai Smoothie Bowl


I have fallen in love with Ella from We Need To Live More, I could scroll through her blog and IG for hours. Ella created a post using photos only, demonstrating how to make an Acai Bowl. It’s lovely. The post: “The Famous Acai Bowl


Hummusapien is a blog that I’ve recently stumbled upon (thankfully!). The blog author, Alexis’s bio states “with a little avocado and a lot of dark chocolate, we can make healthy happen!” so it’s no surprise that she uses both of those ingredients in her Acai Bowl recipe. I use avocados in smoothies ALL THE TIME, so why not use it in an Acai Bowl as well?! Genius. The post: “Banana Cacao Avocado Acai Bowl


I admire Amber from Fettle Vegan because she eats so much damn good food and has a bearded boyfriend. Every single day, I see photos of food she eats on IG and FB, she makes me jealous – I’d love to hang out with her for a day. Naturally, I was drawn to her page when checking out Acai Bowls and OF COURSE she has an awesome Acai Bowl recipe on her blog – she eats everything that is awesome. Amber talks a lot about a restaurant called Nekter, it’s a place that I put on my list to visit – I JUST FOUND OUT THEY HAVE LOCATIONS IN DENVER!!! Anyway, her PB&J-tasting recipe is a copycat from Nekter, and I’m not mad about it at all. The post: “Peanut Butter + Berry Acai Bowl





Cucumber Berry Fruit Bowl

I’ve had a long, long, non-stop, crazy week. I spent hours and hours on the road in extremely painful traffic patterns that tested my patience. There were moments when I was swept with anger, my cheeks even got red, just because I’d been stuck in the car so much longer than anticipated. BUT the week is over.
Sigh. of. relief.

We are going camping at Rocky Mountain National Park this weekend. I hate/love camping. OK, I don’t really HATE it, but the preparation and packing prior to the trip can be agonizing tasks ESPECIALLY when you’ve got no free time. Anyway, I am not writing this post to project my ill feelings on you, the week is over and my ill feelings have all passed. Last night, I slid in to the yoga studio just seconds before the last class of the night began and I woke up early to attend the first class of the day. I feel fresh, rejuvenated, and anxious to bond with the mountains, and spend quality quiet time with my boyfriend this weekend.

Cucumber Berry Fruit Bowl

A few nights ago, we laid in bed putting together our food menu for this weekend, and this cucumber + berry fruit bowl came to mind. I made this exact fruit bowl a few years ago, a really awful photo I took of it showed up in my Timehop feed recently.

I don’t remember how or why I decided to pair cucumbers with cherries & blueberries – if I had to guess, I’d say that I was making a conscious effort to pair a green food with my fruit. I try to incorporate green foods in most of my meals even it if it’s a few pistachios or pumpkin seeds in my morning granola.

Cucumber Berry Fruit Bowl

This cucumber + berry salad is made with 3 ingredients: chopped organic cucumber, organic sweet cherries, and organic blueberries. The 3 fruits blended together create a perfectly colorful combination and is refreshing, hydrating & filling – it’s perfect for a sunny summer morning or afternoon.

These 3 ingredients will be going with us to camp this weekend, I plan to throw them in a bowl as use them as a centerpiece on the picnic table at our camp site. I have a feeling we’ll be eating out of that bowl all weekend long – during breakfast, as a sweet snack after lunch, and after our planned 8 mile hike for nourishment and hydration.

Cucumber Berry Fruit Bowl

In addition to this colorful fruit salad, we have several awesome camp meals planned, I hope to share them in a future blog post. If I have cell service at camp this weekend, I’ll post a few photos on Instagram, but no guarantees.

Happy weekend everyone! 




Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips

I attended Vida Vegan Con in Austin, TX two weekends ago, a conference for vegan-specific bloggers and related industries. When I first learned about VVC I knew I wanted to go but didn’t think I’d be able to make it happen so I brushed it off and forgot about it THEN my girlfriend & I both realized that we had some vacation time to use up prior to June 1 so we booked a girls trip to Austin which just so happened to coincide with the VVC dates. Luckily, I was able to snag a last-minute ticket to VVC.
(If you’re interested in checking out some photos from our trip, check them out on Instagram)

The conference was so much more than a “vegan bloggers conference.” It was a social gathering for like-minded people, it was friends to enjoy a few yummy meals with, it was entrepreneur-driven, entrepreneurs who were willing to share their successes. It was fun and emotional. 

Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips

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One of my favorite persons to listen to at the event was Jill from Vegan Cuts – she began her career as a travel blogger and now sells monthly vegan beauty & snack boxes via VeganCuts.com. Jill talked about creating a manifest journal, organizing your dreams, and planning your life journey accordingly. Although I have new ideas and plans for my life journey on a daily basis, I have never put those ideas into action – I am overwhelmed! …..which is how I know for a fact that journaling would help me. 

Jill also talked about the “competition” in social media and blogging these days, she encouraged us, her audience, to not even worry about the damn “competition”. Like, just do your thing without comparing yourself to others. Comparing myself to others is something that I struggle with on a daily basis, in my personal life and with blogging. I’m always worried about someone being prettier or skinnier or fitter than myself. I worry about the photos on my blog not looking as awesome as the photos on someone elses blog, and I worry about my recipes being not being uber-original and way different than the next persons. 

EVEN THOUGH. I didn’t start this blog to share “original” recipes. I started this blog to share yummy FOOD, travel adventures (that are typically food-driven), and to create a place for people, anyone to come and find inspiration to enhance their own foodie experiences, whether it be through cooking a yummy meal at home, dining out at a local restaurant, or finding the best food while traveling. 

I strayed away from my original intention because I felt like I had to compete with every other blogger on the internet. There are recipes I’ve so badly wanted to share on this blog but never did because they’ve been shared before. I’ve made awesome foods, photographed them, and never shared them because I felt like the photos weren’t good enough when compared to someone else’s. It’s a shame and it’s silly. 

So, screw that! I’m going back to my original intention. If there is a food item, recipe, or restaurant that I enjoy and think is worth sharing, then I’m going to share dammit! NO MATTER WHAT. ESPECIALLY now that I am taking the challenge on Jessica Murnane’s One Part Pledge – you should listen and take the pledge as well!

Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips

So, Kale Chips. Kale Chips are something I’ve wanted to make for the longest time but never did for whatever reason. Procrastination – the “Make Kale Chips” line on my never-ending to-do list must sit in between two more important things-to-do. My girlfriend, Laura kept telling me how good the homemade version is and how easy they are to make! After her convincing, I’d temporarily move them up on my to-do list but they’d quickly get replaced by some other “something”.

I don’t remember why I woke up one day in the recent past and decided that day was going to be the day that I finally made homemade kale chips. It may have been for a recipe, it may have been because I had an excess amount of kale on-hand. What I do know is that I ate every single kale chip as it came out of the oven. Warm, they melted in my mouth. Fresh, unlike any other bagged, grocery-store-bought kale chip I’ve ever eaten. I had intentions on saving a few chips for Patrick later that afternoon, but they didn’t last long enough. 

I’ve since then made three more batches of kale chips (and shared a few with Patrick). I burned a few of the fragile greens and created salty kale meltaways with the rest. Kale is fragile when put into a hot oven and can burn easily if unattended however, if you are available to pay close attention to your kale as it bakes, you should be able to get it out of the oven before it sizzles. I found that baking my kale between 9-13 minutes is ideal – timing may vary based on your particular oven (and altitude). 

When I browse through different kale chip recipes, I notice they recommend a variety of baking temps and timing. It is important to find what works for you and your oven, even if it is on a trial-and-error basis. The amount of salt, vinegar, and oil will vary on how big your batch of kale is, it will also vary based on your taste preference. Some of my kale chips were more drenched than others leaving them more chewy. The lesser drenched chips became more crispy, I liked them both. I encourage you to experiment with different variations and find what you like best. Don’t expect perfection the first go-around, but you can expect it shortly after. Also, I added vinegar to my kale chips because vinegar is awesome. If vinegar is not your thing, then don’t use it – continue on with the salt and oil exclusively OR add something else that you think would compliment the kale (SRIRACHA anyone?!).

Below is the recipe variation that has worked for me.

Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • approx 4-5 tablespoons olive oil
  • approx 3-4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • approx 4-5 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 1 gallon ziplock bag
  1. Wash and completely dry the kale. I like to lay the kale flat on paper towels to air dry, which takes up to an hour or two sometimes. It is extremely important for the kale to be completely dry before baking - if not, it could get soggy instead of crispy.
  2. Once dried, cut the kale off the stems - try to cut them into larger pieces, as they will shrink in the oven. Discard the stems (or use them in a veggie broth)
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 310 degrees.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Put ⅓ of the oil, vinegar, and sea salt into the bag and shake it around the bag, coating it, then add ⅓ of the kale leaves. Shake the kale around until the leaves are covered in the mixture.
  6. Lay the leaves out on the baking sheet, making sure to not overlap any of the leaves.
  7. Bake for 9-15 minutes, checking them frequently.
  8. Use the same process for the second batch, and then the third.
  9. The kale chips are best when eaten the same day as you make them.

Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips

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If you follow me on social media, you know that I spend a great deal of time at Triathlons cheering on my competitive boyfriend however he doesn’t need me cheering on the sidelines in order to perform well, that boy engages in competition with success at the top of his mind. Regardless, I enjoy supporting him as competes to WIN and I know he appreciates it.

Patrick reads triathlon-related content as often as I read food blogs (all day, every day) and has a great deal of knowledge on what it takes to be a winning contestant. I admire him for his dedication to the sport and determination – because of this, I asked him to share his wisdom with all of you right here on PLQ. This post outlines a typical day in the life of a triathlete on race day and provides enlightenment for all athletes, as there is no time in the day wasted.

Patrick can be found on twitter and instagram at @1fastsun. Feel free to hop over and offer him and feedback you have on this post. We also welcome your requests for future content.

Triathlon Preparation: 
On to P…

New Balance Fresh Foam


Some of the most important things to me is to stay fueled up for the next day, spend a couple hours organizing race gear and to double-check the checklist. I eat dinner early and take in a lot of fluids. I’m sure to be in bed as early as possible – 10pm is the cut off!

TIP: I DO NOT eat anything the day or night before or the morning of a race that I have not eaten regularly within the past two weeks. I’ve only make this mistake once. NOTHING NEW ON RACE DAY.

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4 a.m. Wake up! Take a fast shower to become fresh and “wake up the bones.”
Get dressed in “Performance Casual” apparel like a 3/4 zip top, running pants, and footed with New Balance Fresh Foam 989’s, etc. This is all done quickly and with finesse.

4:15 Relax in the quiet for the five longest minutes I can find with my coffee (100% Kona when available) and visualize the day. My vision for the race is that I feel confident throughout each segment while enjoying my time on Earth, with a smile. At this moment in real-time, I am usually staring at the reef aquarium in the living room while my oatmeal prepares.

4:20 I eat that oatmeal, which is now decorated with fruit bits like berries/bananas. ((Remember: Nothing new in the diet!)) This is a good time to check social media as well as the race website for any alerts/updates. Throughout the morning routine I casually take in water and electrolytes. 

Crescent Moon Triathlon

4:25 Bust out the yoga mat and keep focus on my race plan while I hold long stretches and perform some light yoga.

4:35 Spend 10-15 minutes loading up the vehicle which could be done the night before if I parked in a garage.

4:50 On my last trip outside to double-check the vehicle, I like to slip in a quick jog up and down the block, maybe do a couple pick-ups to partially open up my lungs and wake up other important muscles. Wake up legs!

TIP: Fuel up with breakfast as soon as humanly possible to give your body time to “cycle through.” After a quick pre-departure warm up, utilize your favorite restroom one last time!

5:15 Depart. (this is an approximate time for most regional races. I factor 30-50 minutes drive time) Sip water and electrolytes along the ride – I would offer some to my girlfiend, but she’s out cold with an airplane neck pillow. She’s a pro. 

TIP: I featured Chief Keef’s “Love Sosa” in the ride along with a few Andre Nickatina songs, such as “Bananas” and “U-Beezy.” — You should too.

Crescent Moon Triathlon

5:45 Arrive at race site, check in ASAP and begin setting up the transition area – double check bike components & tire PSI. 

6:30 I stretch again, do a few short speed burst sprints to get my blood flowing once more.

6:45 Activate the wetsuit – I give 15 minutes as not to be rushed, wetsuits are delicate! 

TIP: Use sandwich bags to pass your hands and feet through the openings in the wetsuit which lessens the friction so you lessen the risk of snagging or stretching seams. Batman does the same thing.

Crescent Moon Triathlon

7:10 I get into the water to acclimate my body and I start swimming to warm up. (there are usually designated roped-off areas to warm up separate from the swim start area)

7:25 Race Briefing by the officials/National Anthem when applicable.

TIP: I use this time to stretch some more

7:35 Race begins, I’m off….

Crescent Moon Triathlon