banana nut “bread” pudding…. and keeping things fun

This past week, Rusty and I took a trip down to Southern California to catch up with great friends at Deuce Gym in Venice, stay with my amazing cousin in the Cactus Casa, and have a blast celebrating our wonderful friends’ wedding. It was a treat to say the least!

This trip reminded me of a couple of questions I often get. People frequently ask about what to do at special events (like weddings) when food options might not be all that clean. I also get questions about how to interact with family and friends who might not eat the way you do and think you’re strange because of it. So I figured I would touch on each in this post. Let’s first talk about special occasions, since I am still whirling from the amazing wedding last weekend.

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When it comes to special occasions, don’t take the “special” out by being a pain in the a**.

Though that might seem a bit abrasive, I only say this because I have been that pain in the ass person (many times). What I have come to realize is that by focusing on eating incredibly nutrient dense foods 95% of the time, we can set ourselves up for success and health even in those times that call for a splurge. This weekend’s amazing wedding called for eating unique foods (and a bag of chocolate candy coated almonds from a candy bar), sipping on fabulous champagne, and not worrying about a thing. While there were some items on the eight course menu that I had to avoid because they were clearly covered in flour or soy, I had a blast trying most of the courses and celebrating the love and culture of two of my best friends. Take occasions like this to enjoy amazing company, have a glass of wine (if that’s your thing), eat what’s provided, dance the night away, and celebrate what’s important. One night of eating foods that might not fit exactly within your plan will not set you back. You know what will? Stressing about it all night and missing out on an opportunity for joy. Avoid foods that you know will make you sick, but be careful not to make yourself sick worrying about it.

Don’t make yourself sick worrying about avoiding all foods deemed unhealthy 100% of the time; you’ve built up a solid defense and your body thanks you.

Now, what do you do when you are spending time with friends or family, who might not understand the “strange” way you eat, who can’t yet see the beauty of butter, or who feel that you might be taking years off your life by not eating Cheerios. I actually LOVE this; think of it as an opportunity for sharing the real food love, building relationships in the best place I can think of (the kitchen), and perhaps changing a loved one’s life. Rusty and I had the opportunity to do just this last weekend when we stayed with my amazing cousin, Erin, in the perfect Cactus Casa in San Juan Capistrano.

Think of it as an opportunity for sharing the real food love, building relationships in the best place I can think of (the kitchen), and perhaps changing a loved one’s life.

Not only is the Cactus Casa filled with love, childhood memories, and sunshine, it also has the most amazing vintage kitchen that makes cooking exponentially more fun, and because it’s hard to keep me out of a beautiful kitchen for long, it was only a matter of hours before the kitchen was full of laughter, butter tea, grass fed sirloins, fresh local veggies, and shared meals.

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Until this weekend, Erin had some different ideas about food. Over the 4 days we stayed with her, she asked questions, and Rusty and I showed her how we eat rather than lecturing or avoiding the subject. By the first morning we were all sitting in her back patio catching up with mugs filled with buttery caffeinated goodness. The evening consisted of grilled grass fed sirloin, butter garlic roasted romanesco, and a summer salad loaded with nutrient dense seasonal veggies and homemade dressing (rather than the store-bought stuff in the fridge). The best part? We enjoyed it together, discussing how incredible it all tasted, and eventually agreeing on the health benefits of the grass fed butter and red meat that melted in our mouths.

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Hearing my cousin ask questions about nutrition and order steak at dinner the following night made my day, and the experience of cooking together was far more powerful than any sort of rant or lecture on nutrition would have been. Unsolicited advice, especially about nutrition, is rarely taken well. It was an unforgettable weekend of catching up and reminiscing with my cousin, who also happens to be a best friend. And eating well was icing on the cake. The best way to share is to experience cooking and preparing together and to enjoy the process. Healthful foods taste amazing, and when we share with loved-ones, there’s nothing better.

Unsolicited advice, especially about nutrition, is rarely taken well.

While in the Cactus Casa kitchen, I noticed some super ripe bananas, and clearly there was no option but to bake. I have plenty of recipes for loaves and muffins to offer you guys, so I decided to change it up and make a bread pudding (thank you Chopped for the inspiration). It has the perfect amount of sweetness for a summer evening dessert. This one is fun because you can even prepare it with a loved one who hasn’t fully changed his or her ways. It’s vegan, as well as paleo, and it’s a special treat that ANYONE will love. So here you go…

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 TB chia seeds
  • 6 TB water
  • 2 medium sized extra ripe bananas
  • 1 cup nut butter (I used raw almond butter)
  • 1 tsp organic vanilla
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 TB of raw honey (maple syrup also works)
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • ADDITIONS (your choice): crushed raw walnuts, dark chocolate chips, coconut shavings, or just get creative


  • preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • in a small bowl, mix chia seeds and water and let it sit so the chia seeds soak up the water
  • mash your bananas really well in a medium bowl
  • add your nut butter, vanilla, honey, and cinnamon, and incorporate well until you have a batter
  • now, add your baking soda and apple cider vinegar (it’ll fiz) and mix it all up till smooth
  • fold in your chia mixture and mix until you have a batter
  • add optional additions (I used crushed raw walnuts)
  • pour batter into a loaf pan and cook for about 25 min
  • start checking on your pudding at 20 minutes. It’ll be ready when there’s no jiggle when you wiggle
  • try your pudding topped with cinnamon butter, over paleo vanilla ice cream, or topped with coconut whipped cream
  • ENJOY!

If you make this, post to comments or tag #liftlaugheatrepeat on social media. I love hearing from you guys, so don’t hesitate to let me know what you think!

By | 2015-04-01T08:41:31-08:00 August 11th, 2014|A Little Sweet Tooth, Health, Nutrition, Recipes, The Mind|0 Comments

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