Avo Maria

No, I didn’t make any spelling errors. I’m referring to one of my favorite produce items on the planet, the avocado. I can avocado any way it’s given to me–plain, in a smoothie, as guacamole, on myriad savory dishes, and now…in pudding.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know that I have a serious ice cream problem and am on a quest to find as many healthy substitutions to assuage my cravings. Since my chia seed pudding post (click here to read), I’ve made several different variations and make batches on a weekly basis. It hasn’t gotten boring at all and the versatility of the recipe is impressive–I’ve even made a pumpkin version and fell deeper in love with the recipe as a result. However, while in Chicago a couple of weeks ago, I was reminded of how much I missed drinking avocado smoothies from one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants, T.A.N.K. I don’t know what voodoo they do, but no one makes an avo smoothie quite like them. Trust and know, I’ve done my research and have the healthy hair, skin and nails to prove it! Sipping the green goodness triggered me to think of other ways to incorporate avocado into my diet, namely as an ice cream substitute. Once again, the internet and diet gods chose to bless me, for I came across a great recipe for a chocolate pudding that uses avocado as its base. Experimentation was calling my name! For those of you that are interested in giving this pudding a try, here’s the recipe:

Ingredients (2 servings):
– 1 large, ripe avocado
– 2 tbsp. of cocoa powder
– 1 tbsp. Stevia (or sweetener of choice)
– 4 squares of dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
– Almond milk (or milk of choice)

– Cut the avocado in half, remove the stone and scoop the flesh into a dish.
– Add the cocoa powder, Stevia (or preferred sweetener), and mix well.
-In the meantime, melt the dark chocolate in a microwave, then pour it into the avocado mixture.
– Give it another good mix.

The texture should resemble a traditional pudding. If not, add almond milk a little at a time, until the pudding reaches your desired consistency.

Not only is this pudding delicious, it’s also loaded with healthy fats and fiber. Good times all around!

I’ve made this pudding a few times since my initial trial and am in love with the recipe. It’s simple, quick to make, and quite versatile. For second attempt, I added some coconut flakes and was very happy with the turnout. The third time, I sprinkled a small amount of pink Himalayan sea salt on top for added health benefits and because I’m a sucker for sweet/savory combinations. It. Was. DIVINE. A couple of nights ago, I was feeling ambitious and decided to combine my chia seed pudding recipe with this one and was blown away–it worked awesomely well.
20150422_223240I simply had to add more almond milk and use less seeds. I will definitely be adding avocado pudding to the dessert rotation as I continue on my quest for more easy healthy sweet treats.

If you decide to use this recipe, let me know what you think!


Many people don’t know that I had have a serious addiction; I fight urges on a daily basis and think about it all the time, day and night, sometimes it makes appearances in my dreams. Ice cream. It makes me happy, keeps me company, can be savory, sweet, or both. Ice ream comforts me and punishes me; it can be a happy ending and yet a sad one when the spoon hits the bottom of the carton. It can be smooth, or chunky and rough; soft or hard, cheap or expensive, good in small doses, but bad in large quantities. Ice cream is a metaphor for life. Ice cream is life. Ice cream gives me life.

In order to keep from relapsing, I need healthy substitutes and activities to suppress my urges. Enter the chia seed.

Although I’m not into food trends, and chia seeds are gaining in popularity by the day, I’m a believer in these little suckers. They’re smaller than flax seeds, but even though many people compare them to each other, chia seeds are filled with twice the protein of most grains and contain five times more calcium than milk. On top of that, they are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, soluble fiber, potassium and several antioxidants, nutrients and minerals. Incorporating chia seeds into you diet will provide many benefits, such as:

Increasing Protein Intake
Most people—especially women and vegans/vegetarians—don’t consume enough protein. Chia seeds make a great source of protein for vegetarians and don’t have any cholesterol. One one-ounce serving of these amazing little power seeds has 4.4 grams of protein.

Upping Fiber Consumptions
A one-ounce serving of chia seeds has 11 grams of dietary fiber, which is about a third of the recommended daily intake. Adding some seeds to your diet is a super easy way to make sure you’re getting a proper amount of fiber, which aids in digestive health.

Providing Phosphorus (Something that’s not on anyone’s radar, let’s be honest)
Chia seeds also help you maintain healthy bones and teeth (the calcium benefits bolster this effect). Phosphorus is also used by the body to synthesize protein for cell and tissue growth and repair.

Improving Heart Health
Chia seeds have been shown to improve blood pressure in diabetics, and may also increase healthy cholesterol while lowering total, LDL, and triglyceride cholesterol. Don’t we all want to keep our hearts pumping like well-oiled machines? Yes. Yes we do.

Combatting Diabetes
Chia seeds slow down digestion. The gelatinous coating chia seeds develops when exposed to liquids-can also prevent blood sugar spikes.

Fighting Belly Fat
Chia’s stabilizing effect on blood sugar also fights insulin resistance, which has been tied to an increase in belly fat (source: Live Strong). Enough said. No one wants belly fat.

Filling You Up Faster
Tryptophan, the same famous amino acid found in turkey, is also found in chia seeds. Even though tryptophan is notorious its “Itis-inducing” property that makes you want to take a major nap, it also helps to regulate your appetite, sleep and improve your mood. Added benefit to getting full faster: making less room in your belly for bad things.

So after doing the knowledge on this super seed, of course I had to find ways to add this to my diet. Since getting rid of all the ice cream in my apartment, I had to replace it with something. Why not chia seed pudding? I had my first taste of some at a “lunch and learn” session with the office nutritionist and fell in love. It reminded me of many Chinese desserts I’ve eaten from my childhood up till now. One of my co-workers told me she’s been making chia seed pudding at home recently for health reasons and also because she loves how it tastes, (she’s also Chinese). We bonded and she gave me her simple recipe. I tried it right away and made my own little tweaks to tailor it to my taste buds.

I was surprised at all of the positive responses and requests I received from my last post, in which I referred to making the pudding for the first time (click here to read it), all of them calling for the benefits and for the recipe. So, I’ve already detailed several of the awesome ways chia seeds will improve your life, now here’s to make a healthy, quick, easy, and tasty chia seed pudding:

2 cups of coconut milk or other milk (I just tried hemp milk and it’s fantastic!)
3 tablespoons of agave nectar, or sweetener of choice (adjust according to your personal taste)
1/2 cup of chia seeds
1 teaspoon of vanilla (or to taste)
Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste (optional)

In a quart-sized container with a lid, add all ingredients. Place lid on top and shake to mix them all together. Put container in the refrigerator for at least four hours, stirring occasionally. (I left mine in the fridge overnight and it was fine.)


Since my first attempt, I’ve made a chocolate version as well. All you have to do is add about 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder.

Last night I was feeling adventurous and was in need of a filling, protein-packed dessert, so I did something a little different. I heated the pudding, then added whey protein-infused almond butter and two squares of intense dark (80% cacao) chocolate. I mixed the concoction together so everything could melt and blend, then let it cool slightly. I ate it warm with some hot tea and was in absolute heaven with my chocolate nut butter pudding! There are probably endless variations that can be concocted, like adding a cup of strawberries for a strawberry version, or you can add more spices to the cinnamon and nutmeg for a Chai Chia Pudding.

Even though the gel coating the seeds make when soaked in liquid soften the seeds, if you’re not a fan of the texture, you can put the pudding in a blender and blend until smooth. It will thicken in about 10 minutes in the fridge and will be ready for consumption even sooner.

Next up in chia seed experimentation: savory recipes! Stay tuned…

In the meantime, let me know if you tried the recipe and/or any variations. I’d love to know if you like this as much as I do, or if you’ve come up with your own versions.

Holiday Training

You don’t need to wait till New Year’s Day to make resolutions or changes in your life. Set your goals and work then into your lifestyle so that you won’t fall off the “wagon” within a matter of days or months.

Just resolve to be a better you every morning.

Motivated Monday

Several years ago when I first started getting into fitness, I had no idea what I was doing or should be doing in order to lose weight and get in shape. I threw myself into a bunch of cardio classes and got a personal trainer that didn’t properly create a plan that suited my body type or goals. Yes, I lost weight, but I also bulked up like a man because I wasn’t doing the right workouts for my body and my diet was neither practical nor conducive to my goals. After suffering from an injury due to over-training, bulking up (which everyone says is impossible for women to do—au contraire) and having to undo that damage while still on a weight-loss/fat-loss mission, I was forced to understand the science of everything: diet, fitness, nutrition and health. Basically, I have and am still learning how the body works as a whole.

After much research, trial and error, I now know what works for me. My body composition has changed due my mix of cardio and strength training paired with cleaner, more practical eating habits. Even though I’m back to lifting weights, my execution is different now; my body and muscles are not getting bigger, they’re getting leaner. I truly understand what bodybuilding means now and I’m applying it literally by building my body piece by piece.

Also, my mentality has completely changed. No matter how many times I tried to convince myself that it was ok that the numbers on the scale weren’t budging because of the muscle/fat equation, I didn’t believe my own thoughts or the science behind it; I was stuck on societal charts/graphs/”standards”/”norms.” I’ve finally broken away from my weight on the scale, understanding and truly embracing the fact that I am sculpting my body to fit my “norm,” my standards. This keeps me motivated and makes me want to help others understand their bodies more fully.

Am I completely satisfied with where I am right now? No, however I’m not finished; my journey will never end. Yet, please understand that I’m happier with myself and my body than I have ever been, even when I was at my skinniest, because now I’m at my healthiest. When I post pictures or videos of myself or my workouts, it’s not for vanity purposes. They are to keep pushing myself further and whoever else is on a similar mission or is thinking about starting. The more I learn and change, the more I will share my message to those who want to hear it. I’m here to inspire and motivate, while I reap inspiration and motivation from your journeys in turn.

From Ab to Fab: Part Deux

So, on to the second portion of our workout.

I didn’t do legs this time around because they were already given a good going-over during JAB. So we finished the evening with abs. WordPress won’t let me upload my abs video, so here I am after my first set on the incline bench:


After two more grueling sets, we were finished and famished.

It’s great having a workout partner; you motivate each other, challenge and push one another and make the time pass quicker. Your partner’s energy feeds you and vice versa. Not only that, it creates an even stronger bond than the one you may already share; it gives you something else in common and you are able to help each other reach your health and fitness goals.

Stay inspired and keep inspiring!

From Ab to Fab

After a hard day’s work that left me feeling drained, I took one of my favorite cardio classes, aptly named JAB (cardio kickboxing), then met up with the bf for some strength training. We started off with arms as we usually do:

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(We did several more exercises, we just didn’t record them all.)
As you can see, we have a lot of fun while we workout, talking crap and making each other laugh.

I’ll post part two right away because, for some reason, WordPress won’t let me publish the rest of my workout…

Weekend Workout

Most Sunday mornings are reserved workout times for me and the bf to exercise together. We do weight training, which he is in charge of dictating. I start of with weighted squats and leg presses, then work all of our upper body muscles (all arm groups, back, chest).


Then we engage inthe second part of our workout,  core and kettlebell training, also known as my responsibility. This is comprised of all of the ab groups, lower back, some more arms and legs, and cardio. Here’s a quick video of a combined deadlift with a jump squat:

A mix of strength training and cardio keeps you lean, builds muscle, and increases stamina. As with all things, balance is key.

If you’d like to see more videos/workouts or would like more health & fitness posts, please let me know and I’ll be happy to oblige.