Dairy-Free (and Vegan!) Chocolate Pudding with Candied Orange Slices

Dairy Free (and Vegan!) Chocolate Pudding with Candied Orange Slices | Sarah J. Hauser

My husband and I just finished a Whole30, and I’m trying to ease into other foods gradually. While I don’t have any food allergies or severe sensitivities, I know that diving right into chocolate cake or pizza after having avoided grains and dairy for a month probably wouldn’t be the best decision! (I have to admit it’s tempting, though.)

That being said, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner—which means I at least need a little chocolate. We don’t typically make a big deal about Valentine’s Day, mostly because for the last four years we’ve been too tired or too busy with the kiddos. But, we do enjoy a good date night in at home, a bottle of wine that’s a bit better than what we’d normally buy, and something special for dessert.

This pudding is perfect for just that! It only requires a few ingredients, it’s dairy-free and vegan, and you can make it in advance. (I actually suggest making it in advance since it has to firm up in the fridge and the orange slices have to dry out.) The dark chocolate pairs perfectly with a hint of orange, and the candied orange slices add a fun, creative twist.

I will tell you, too, that this pudding is rich. It may look at first like the recipe doesn’t make very much, but a little goes a long way. You can also add a bit more maple syrup for a slightly sweeter version. (I love really dark, bittersweet chocolate.)

What do you do for Valentine’s Day? Or Galentine’s Day? Do you head out on the town or have a quiet evening in? Let me know in the comments below! I’m always looking for new ideas!

Dairy Free (and Vegan!) Chocolate Pudding with Candied Orange Slices | Sarah J. Hauser
Dairy Free (and Vegan!) Chocolate Pudding with Candied Orange Slices | Sarah J. Hauser
Dairy Free (and Vegan!) Chocolate Pudding with Candied Orange Slices | Sarah J. Hauser
Dairy Free (and Vegan!) Chocolate Pudding with Candied Orange Slices | Sarah J. Hauser
Dairy Free (and Vegan!) Chocolate Pudding with Candied Orange Slices | Sarah J. Hauser
Dairy Free (and Vegan!) Chocolate Pudding with Candied Orange Slices | Sarah J. Hauser
Dairy Free (and Vegan!) Chocolate Pudding with Candied Orange Slices | Sarah J. Hauser
Dairy Free (and Vegan!) Chocolate Pudding with Candied Orange Slices | Sarah J. Hauser
Dairy Free (and Vegan!) Chocolate Pudding with Candied Orange Slices | Sarah J. Hauser

Dairy-Free Chocolate Pudding with Candied Orange Slices
Yields 2-3 servings*
Adapted from Paleo Running Momma

⅓ cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons arrowroot powder
⅛ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup coconut cream (the hardened cream from a can of coconut milk)*
3-4 Tablespoons maple syrup (plus more to taste)
1 Tablespoon Cointreau (optional)
Coconut whipped cream
Zest of 1 orange
Candied orange slices (see note below)

In a small bowl, sift together the cocoa powder, arrowroot powder, and salt. (Sifting helps prevent lumps in the pudding.)

In a small saucepan, add the coconut cream and maple syrup. Heat over medium-low heat, whisking frequently, until the coconut cream melts. LIttle by little, add in the dry ingredients, whisking after each addition until smooth. Add in the Cointreau if using (it’s optional but adds the perfect bit of citrus flavor to the pudding. Skip this, though, if adults avoiding alcohol or kids will be eating the pudding!) Add additional maple syrup if you want a sweeter pudding.

Whisk the pudding constantly for 3-5 minutes until thickened. Turn the heat off and transfer the pudding to containers for serving. (Ramekins, small mason jars, and other types of dishes work great for this.) Refrigerate until cold and firm, at least a couple hours. To avoid a “skin” at the top of the pudding, cover the top in plastic wrap so that the plastic lays directly on top of the pudding.

Top with coconut whipped cream, orange zest, and a candied orange slice (see below).

*This recipe is very rich, so a little goes a long way!

**Put a couple cans of full fat coconut milk in the fridge for a few hours. The cream will separate and hardened at the top of the can, so you can easily scoop it off with a spoon.

Candied Orange Slices

For the candied orange slices, I followed this recipe from Taste of Home, but I cut the recipe in half. After the slices dried overnight, I dipped them in granulated sugar.

Make sure to keep the orange simple syrup that’s leftover. It’s perfect for cocktails and other fun recipes!


Butternut Squash Soup with Rosemary + Bacon [Paleo and Whole30!]

Butternut Squash Soup with Rosemary + Bacon [Paleo and Whole30!] - Sarah J. Hauser

Last year about this time, a few friends hosted a shower to celebrate the birth of our third. I gave birth to him in July, but with summer schedules and newborn exhaustion, we decided to wait until the fall for a baby shower—and I loved it!

Celebrating three months into his life forced me to stop and practice gratitude in a way I couldn’t necessarily do during pregnancy. It allowed me to step away from the diapers and spit-up and appointments. It created space to gather with friends and family and look back on what God gave us in this sweet, little boy—while still looking forward to his life ahead.

My friends know me well, too, because that evening, they made it a point to serve home-cooked food and sit around the table together. We passed baskets of bread, poured glasses of wine, and savored spoonfuls of soup. We chatted and laughed, talked about birth stories, and commiserated with each other about sleepless nights. I remember thinking how grateful I was for my new son and the loved ones who took the time to celebrate him with me. What a gift.

Butternut Squash Soup with Rosemary + Bacon [Paleo and Whole30!] - Sarah J. Hauser
Butternut Squash Soup with Rosemary + Bacon [Paleo and Whole30!] - Sarah J. Hauser
Butternut Squash Soup with Rosemary + Bacon [Paleo and Whole30!] - Sarah J. Hauser
Butternut Squash Soup with Rosemary + Bacon [Paleo and Whole30!] - Sarah J. Hauser
Butternut Squash Soup with Rosemary + Bacon [Paleo and Whole30!] - Sarah J. Hauser
Butternut Squash Soup with Rosemary + Bacon [Paleo and Whole30!] - Sarah J. Hauser

My friend who hosted my baby shower ladled soups into small glass jars. I thought it was a great idea, and it made it easy for people to try both soups she offered that night. Not only do jars work well for serving smaller portions to a group, but it makes it easy to snag a cup for lunch to go alongside a salad or sandwich.

This Butternut Squash Soup is dairy-free, gluten-free, paleo, and Whole30, so it works for all kinds of diets! You can also omit or serve the bacon on the side for a vegan option. Enjoy!


Butternut Squash Soup with Rosemary + Bacon
Yields about 10 cups

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 medium apples, cored and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
3 ½-4 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
⅓ cup full fat coconut milk (from a can, not a coconut milk beverage)
8-12 ounces bacon
2-3 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and apples, and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook for another 4-6 minutes until the onions are translucent.

Add the white wine vinegar, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 1 more minute. (Add about ¼ cup of stock if the mixture starts to stick to the bottom of the pot.)

Pour in the broth and add the squash. Turn the heat to medium-high, cover, and bring to a boil. The reduce the heat to low and simmer (covered) until the squash is tender, about 20-25 minutes.

While the soup cooks, fry the bacon until crisp, and chop into small pieces.

Turn the heat off the soup. Stir in the coconut milk. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, allow soup to cool for a bit and then transfer to a regular blender in batches to puree.

Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to bowls for serving. Top with crisp bacon pieces and chopped rosemary. Enjoy!

Note: This pairs really well with Crostini with Caramelized Apples, Fontina + Rosemary!


Panko-Crusted Pacific Cod with Roasted Mushrooms + Sauteed Spinach [and a slow start to the year]

Panko-Crusted Pacific Cod with Roasted Mushrooms + Sauteed Spinach | Sarah J. Hauser

We ended 2017 with a 15 hour drive from New Jersey to Illinois. We had spent Christmas with extended family on the East Coast, then on December 31st drove the long trek home along Route 80. (It’s supposed to take just over 12 hours, but with two toddlers, and infant, and snow along the way, 15 hours was pretty decent time.)

We didn’t get home with just our kids. We brought with us a bout of pinkeye and the flu. Despite my efforts at cleaning, hand washing, and doling out anything known for boosting the immune system, sickness was inevitable.

January 1 arrived, and I already felt like I started on the wrong foot. I cleaned up snot, held exhausted children, and made doctor’s appointments. It was simultaneously tiring and boring, wearying and quiet. Three sick kiddos made for long nights, but our days were more calm than normal. All my kids wanted to do was sit together in the big white chair wrapped in the fuzzy red blanket.

We were forced to rest.

Maybe you can’t shake the feeling that you’re trying to catch up to something. But you aren’t quite sure exactly what that is. You spin and you worry and you are swept away in the current of activity. We are often tricked into believing that the only relief from feeling behind is to catch up. But this is war, and the enemy is an illusive and foggy expectation.

The truth is there is not rest right around the corner. As it turns out there are no corners; there is only one big circle. So we have to find rest in withness and presence in the midst of it.
— Emily P. Freeman, The Next Right Thing, Ep. 16.

Initially, I felt frustrated by our slow start to the year. I didn’t get much checked off my to-do list. For a while, I didn’t even get around to making the to-do list or resolutions or picking my word for the year. But our bodies have a way of making us stop, and nursing little ones back to health meant I had to slow down and simply be with them. I had to sit still, a practice I don’t often do.

Our culture tells us that January 1 is the time to get started. To do all the things. To exercise and read and work and hustle. But at least in the Northern Hemisphere, January 1 falls in the middle of winter, and winter is a time to slow down.

Nature knows how to do this. Plants are dormant, animals hibernate, and even the sun hides for most of the day. Evidences of life and productivity seem few, but they’re there - they’re just doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Sitting still. Being quiet. Silently preparing for spring. Resting.

How do you find rest when there are diapers to change, toys to pick up, laundry to throw in, mouths to feed, and deadlines to meet? I don’t always know what rest looks like at this stage in life, but it doesn’t look like worry, agitation, or frenzy. There’s a difference between a life that’s full and a life that’s frenetic, a mind that can be still when needed and one that races even during stillness.

It’s nearly February, and I finally feel like our family is coming out of the fog of holidays, travel, and sickness. I want to be careful I don’t forget the slow, silent growth that happened during these weeks. I wish we hadn’t been sick, but I don’t want to label this month as unproductive.

Our minds quieted and our bodies slowed down. And that’s not a bad way to start the year.

Panko-Crusted Pacific Cod with Roasted Mushrooms + Sauteed Spinach | Sarah J. Hauser
Panko-Crusted Pacific Cod with Roasted Mushrooms + Sauteed Spinach | Sarah J. Hauser
Panko-Crusted Pacific Cod with Roasted Mushrooms + Sauteed Spinach | Sarah J. Hauser
Panko-Crusted Pacific Cod with Roasted Mushrooms + Sauteed Spinach | Sarah J. Hauser
Panko-Crusted Pacific Cod with Roasted Mushrooms + Sauteed Spinach | Sarah J. Hauser
Panko-Crusted Pacific Cod with Roasted Mushrooms + Sauteed Spinach | Sarah J. Hauser
Panko-Crusted Pacific Cod with Roasted Mushrooms + Sauteed Spinach | Sarah J. Hauser

Speaking of a slow start to the year, I intended to post this recipe weeks ago but never got around to it until now. I still absolutely love this dish, though, because it's simple enough for a weeknight meal but makes a great date-night-in dinner, too - especially paired with a decent bottle of wine (I recommend Sauvignon Blanc or a buttery Chardonnay in this case). 

Many of my favorite seafood recipes tend to be light and summery, but I'm always wanting something a bit more hearty during cold weather months. For this recipe, I roasted cremini mushrooms, which give the entire dish a rich, deep, earthy flavor. Pacific Cod gets a crunchy panko crust and then bakes alongside the mushrooms. Spinach sauteed with a few cloves of garlic rounds out the plate perfectly for a warm, filling, healthy, and flavorful meal.


Panko-Crusted Pacific Cod with Roasted Mushrooms + Sauteed Spinach
Yields 2 servings

Panko-Crusted Pacific Cod with Roasted Mushrooms

1 pound cremini mushrooms
¼ cup plus 1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
⅓ cup panko crumbs
1 lemon
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 (8 ounce) cod fillets*
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut the mushrooms in half, large ones in quarters. Add the mushrooms to a rimmed baking sheet, and toss with ¼ cup olive oil, the white wine vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes.

While the mushrooms roast, add the panko crumbs to a small bowl. Zest the lemon and add the zest to the panko, along with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the parsley, a scant ¼ teaspoon of salt, and ⅛ teaspoon black pepper.

After the mushrooms have roasted for 10 minutes, remove them from the oven. Push the mushrooms to the sides of the baking sheet to make room for the fish. Add the cod fillets to the baking sheet, and brush each with 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise. Top evenly with the panko mixture. Return the baking sheet to the oven, and bake for another 10 minutes.

While the fish and mushrooms cook, cut the zested lemon into wedges, and reserve the wedges for serving. Make the sautéed spinach (recipe below).

When the fish and mushrooms are done (the fish should easily flake apart and the mushrooms should be tender), remove from the oven, and transfer to plates. Serve with the sautéed spinach. Squeeze lemon juice over the fish, and serve with extra lemon wedges if desired.

Sauteed Spinach

2 Tablespoons olive oil (take this to the next level by substituting white truffle oil)
3 cloves garlic, minced
10 ounces fresh spinach
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for one minute, stirring frequently. Add the spinach, one handful at a time.(This will look like a lot of spinach but it shrinks down quite a bit.)

Cook the spinach until it’s wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with the panko-crusted cod and roasted mushrooms.

*Especially for those of you living in the Midwest, I highly suggest checking out Sitka Salmon Shares! I have purchased their fish for a couple years now, and I absolutely love their mission and their product. This is not at all a sponsored post - I just love recommending good companies!


[healthy-ish] Cinnamon + Sweet Potato Muffins

Whole Wheat, Oat + Sweet Potato Muffins

On days when my eyes start drooping by 10am and dark clouds keep us indoors, I pile everyone in the minivan and we get out of the house. I usually don’t know where we’re headed until we get there. Some days, we make an impromptu trip to Aldi, and other times, we stop by FreshGround to pick up coffee and visit my brother.

And other days, we don’t even get out of the car. We head to the Panera drive-thru. I pick up a muffin for the kids and a sandwich or drink for myself, and we sit in the car for a few minutes of precious peace and quiet. I get to listen to a podcast (The Next Right Thing is my latest obsession), and the kids get a treat. Glamorous, right? But you do what you gotta do.

Blueberry muffins from Panera have saved my sanity over the last few months, but our drive-thru routine will lose its luster if I resort to it too often. I need to save that getaway plan for when we really need it - like when the twins had croup last week and we were holed up at home for way too long.

Plus, I really don’t want to be paying $3 for a muffin when I could make them for a fraction of the cost myself (although I guess I consider it paying for my sanity, which is more than worth it).  But when I can, I try to do things the homemade route – and these Cinnamon + Sweet Potato Muffins are perfect for when we don’t need to utilize our Panera escape plan.

They’re made with pureed sweet potatoes, oats, and whole-wheat flour - healthy enough that I feel good about giving them to my kids, but tasty enough to be toddler-approved. 

Whole Wheat, Oat + Sweet Potato Muffins
Whole Wheat, Oat + Sweet Potato Muffins
Whole Wheat, Oat + Sweet Potato Muffins
Whole Wheat, Oat + Sweet Potato Muffins
Whole Wheat, Oat + Sweet Potato Muffins

Cinnamon + Sweet Potato Muffins
Yields 12 regular-sized muffins

1 cup white whole wheat flour*
½ cup all purpose flour
¾ cup rolled oats
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/3 cups pureed sweet potatoes
½ cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Turbinado sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray, or use liners. Set the prepared pan aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flours, oats, cinnamon, baking powder, soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and brown sugar. On medium speed, cream the butter and sugar together, mixing for about 1-2 minutes. Add in the sweet potato puree, applesauce, and vanilla extract, mixing after each addition.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula, just until combined (don’t overmix!).

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin (I like using an ice cream scoop for this). Top with turbinado sugar if you’d like.

Let the batter rest for about 10 minutes before putting it in the oven. Do not skip this step! (Read why.)

Place the muffin tin in the oven and bake for about 20-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let the muffins cool for a few minutes, and then place them on a wire rack to cool completely.

*Note: ”White” whole-wheat flour is still 100% whole wheat – it’s simply one particular type of wheat. It’s milder in flavor and lighter in color than some other whole-wheat flours. You can easily find it at many grocery stores (I most recently purchased a bag at Trader Joe’s). 


This recipe was originally featured at Lark + Linen.