How to Knit, Part 1

Want to learn to knit? It’s easy! Here’s how to get started.

First, you’ll need a pair of knitting needles and some yarn. I recommend size 10 aluminum needles. For yarn, I suggest Red Heart Worsted Weight (it’s usually about 3.50 at Walmart or about a dollar more at Michaels.) Choose a bright color of yarn so you will be able to see your knitting better than with a darker color.

Second, you need to find a good tutorial and books. Here are the videos that I watched over and over again:

One of my favorite books for knitting is “The Idiot’s Guide to Knitting.” It’s very easy to understand and includes great beginner projects.

One of the easiest things to make when you’re a beginning knitter is a scarf. I’d go with a basic stockinette stitch, which you’ll learn if you watch the above videos. It’s the basic two-stitch repeat for knitting: knitting one row and purling the next. By knitting a scarf, you’ll be able to get plenty of basic knitting practice while also making something beautiful.

This should be enough info to get you started. Happy knitting!

Basic Chia Pudding Recipe

Chia Pudding

Recently, I bought a ton of chia seeds for a fantastic price at a local grocery store. I remembered seeing chia puddings all over the place online: on Pinterest, blogs, FoodGawker, etc. I’d been wanting to try it again since I’d tried it once before and it wasn’t great.

There are tons of chia pudding recipes out there, but the most basic recipe I love came from the My New Roots cookbook. I’ve changed it up a bit, so here’s the recipe I use. It serves two.

Version 1: Basic Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

2-3 tablespoons chia seeds

6 tablespoons milk of choice

1 cup yogurt (plain regular or Greek)

Sweetener of choice (such as 5 dates)

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 frozen banana or other frozen fruit (such as cherries)

Version 2: Basic Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

2-3 tablespoons of chia seeds

6 tablespoons milk of choice

1 tablespoon vanilla

Additional spices such as: cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice

Sweetener of choice (dates, agave nectar, maple syrup)


For both: Except for the frozen fruit, add the remaining ingredients into a bowl with a good fitting lid. (I also like to use a mason jar.) Place in fridge overnight. In the morning, blend with frozen fruit until smooth and creamy. (It might be thicker or thinner depending on the amount of liquid you used. If you used the full 6 tablespoons, it might be on the thinner side.)

Make it Vegetarian: Cranberry Sauce Stuffed Vegetarian Bean Balls

I’ve made these vegetarian bean balls stuffed with cranberry sauce at least 10 times in the past three months. They take about 5 minutes to prep and 20 minutes to cook. Serve them with this delicious Brussels sprouts salad (I use feta instead of the blue cheese and slivered almonds instead of pecans) and oven roasted potatoes.

The bean balls were adapted from this recipe from Daily Burn for Cranberry Stuffed Chicken Meatballs.

Cranberry-Sauce Stuffed Vegetarian Bean Balls

1 can white beans, drained and smashed
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon Worchestershire
1 tablespoon ground sage
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
pinch of salt and pepper
Cranberry sauce (the whole berry kind or homemade)

1. Mix all ingredients except for cranberry sauce into a large mixing bowl.
2. Using clean hands, take out a tablespoon of the mixture (either eyeball it or measure with a measuring spoon) and put it in the palm of your hand. Using a teaspoon, scoop out the cranberry sauce and insert it into the center of the mixture in your hand.
3. Cover the cranberry sauce with another tablespoon of the bean mixture, and then work with it until it forms a ball.
4. Place the bean balls onto a greased baking sheet and bake in the oven at 425 for 15-20 minutes.

Energy Ball Recipes

EnergyBall Recipes (1)

I’ve wanted a food processor for years, but every time I decided to go get one, something told me no.  I would put the food processor back on the shelf and walk away. I have done this at least four or five times a year.

And yet, I’d see recipes for energy balls, nut butters, hummus, etc., and try them in my low-powered blender. The outcome was OK, but not great.

But about a week ago, I was blessed with a food processor from my boyfriend’s sister. I couldn’t believe it! I finally had one!

Yesterday, a chocolate craving hit me around 2 p.m. and I decided that after going to the store, I’d use my food processor to make the energy balls I’d been dying to make for years now and have them turn out correctly. (Most energy ball bases, I’ve noticed, are made with dates. Dates in a low-powered blender? Not good. Here’s a trick I heard but haven’t actually tried if you want to make them in a low-powered blender: soak the dates to soften them. I’ve read anywhere from 15-30 minutes will do.)

After seeing so many energy ball recipes, you can build your own easily. It goes a little like this:

Base. Something sticky. Ideas:

  • Dates
  • Agave Nectar
  • Maple Syrup
  • Nut Butter
  • Honey

Fillings. Any combination of the following (but the possibilities are endless!)

  • Nuts (Almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, pistachios)
  • Seeds (Pumpkin, sunflower)
  • Nut butters (Almond, Peanut Butter)
  • Oats
  • Dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, currants, cherries)
  • Chocolate (Cocoa powder, chocolate chips)
  • Canned Pumpkin
  • Coconut

Flavorings and Spices. This is where it gets really fun. Try

  • Crushed Peppermint Candies or Peppermint Extract (holidays)
  • Pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, and cinnamon
  • Vanilla extract
  • Coconut extract

Phew! Those are a ton of combinations, but again, the possibilities are endless. Play around with the ingredients. Don’t be afraid to get creative.

I made two versions yesterday:  A chocolate date ball adapted from one of my favorite recipes from Chocolate Covered Katie’s cookbook, and a No Bake Cookie inspired one.

And boy, did the energy balls turn out EXACTLY how I wanted them too! They were creaming, not too sweet, and stuck together perfectly.

Version 1: Chocolate Coconut Energy Balls

This recipe was adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie’s recipe for “Anytime Fudge Balls” from the Chocolate Covered Katie Cookbook. (Please go buy it! It’s amazing and a wonderful healthy dessert cookbook. I look through it at least once a day.)

9 pitted dates

½ cup slivered almonds

1 tbsp cocoa powder

2 tbsp dark chocolate chips

Unsweetened flaked coconut

¼ tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp agave nectar*

Pinch of salt

  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until crumbly but stick together when you ball it in your hands by making a fist.
  2. Roll into balls, try not to eat them all, refrigerate.

Version 2: Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip, Coconut, Oat Energy Balls

9 pitted dates

Heaping ¼ cup crunchy peanut butter

½ cup old fashioned oats

2 tbsp semisweet chocolate chips

¼ cup unsweetened flaked coconut

¼ tsp agave nectar

  1. Pulse in food processor until crumbly but sticks together when you ball the mixture in your hands by making a fist.
  2. Roll into balls, try not to eat them all, and refrigerate.

Baked Banana Cranberry Bars

I found this recipe for baked oat bars on Oh She Glows the other night and decided to whip up a batch of my own. I made a few changes, so below is my adaption of Angela’s original recipe. For hers, you can (and should!) find it here.

The biggest change I made to the recipe was patting out the oat mixture until it was fairly flat. This resulted in a crunchy edge and the day after they’d cooled and been placed in the fridge overnight, a thin, slightly crispy, and chewy texture.

Baked Oat Bars with Bananas, Cranberries, and Currants
Adapted from this Oh She Glows recipe.

2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup 2% milk or milk of choice
1/4 cup oil (I used vegetable oil)
1/4 cup Turbinado sugar
1 tbsp ground flax
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup dried red currants
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup flour (I used all purpose)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups oats (I used old fashioned rolled oats)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Mix wet ingredients and then add in the rest of the ingredients.
2. Spread onto a greased baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees, or until golden brown.

Throwback Thursday: Popovers

Back in December, my boyfriend and I decided to make one of our favorite soups: broccoli cheddar. We love this Food Network recipe for a “healthified” version.

We wanted bread to go with it, but we didn’t want anything too heavy. We also were bored with buying bread from the store. My boyfriend suggested we tried popovers.

It has changed our lives. We made them several times, and each time, we giggled with delight (or at least, I did.)

It’s the little things.

Popovers, if you haven’t had them, look like a dinner roll, but on the inside are basically hollow. They’re a similar batter to a crepe, but are baked in a muffin tin in the oven. And, you guessed it, they “pop over” when they bake. The result is a light and airy muffin that’s basically hollow on the inside, making it the perfect vessel to put soup in. We love Alton Brown’s recipe, but have also made Mark Bittman’s recipe for popovers too. Both are delicious, but we prefer Alton’s because we weren’t huge fans of the sugar in Bittman’s.

Or, as we discovered, plain yogurt and apricot jam.

Popovers are versatile, easy to make, and delicious. They’re just enough of a change from a dinner roll to make a dinner come to life. They’re great savory and also as a vessel for something sweeter.

Have you tried popovers?