On Vacation & Vacation Cacao Shakes

by Valerie on April 28, 2011 · 3 comments

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Happy Wednesday! The nice thing about early morning working out is a little more time at night, though of course I am already wondering if I will stay awake long enough to finish this post (update, Thursday, no, I did not finish this post last night)

I keep meaning to blog about my vacation – considering I came back a couple of weeks ago now, it is high time that I tell you a little more about it, beyond my travel lunchboxes or the tart I made.  Like the last time I visited my parents in Switzerland, there was a lot of staring at pretty scenery (see above and below).

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But this time I also got to meet a fellow blogger! Many of you probably already know Jenn of Jenn Cuisine. Here we are, overlooking Lake Geneva (don’t mind my squinting):

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When I discovered Jenn’s blog last year, she had just moved to Lausanne from the U.S..  Lausanne also happens to be the closest thing I have to a hometown.  Since then I have continued to read her blog – her recipes are wonderful and her photography, both of food and scenery, is stunning.  In a way, I have rediscovered Switzerland a bit through Jenn’s eyes and her camera. The truth is, growing up in Switzerland, I did not really get how beautiful the scenery is there.  It is only now when I go back to visit that I understand why people would always tell me how beautiful Switzerland was.  Jenn’s photography has made me appreciate the scenery there even more.  Meeting Jenn and her husband Ryan was heaps of fun.  We chatted about food, gluten-free cooking, living in Switzerland versus living in the U.S. and blogging.  Jenn found a fantastic place called Ozimi which has gluten-free and vegan offerings and an emphasis on organic ingredients:

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I have blogged before how hard it is to avoid dairy in Switzerland (no surprise), so it was nice to be able to go out and order confident there was no hidden butter in my dish.  And Ozimi’s gazpacho was gluten-free as well. Score.

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I also had this wonderful pear granita made with local pears – yum. Jenn and Ryan both had salads with scrumptious vegetarian croquettes –  these were gluten-free and dairy-free and looked like they had buckwheat, quinoa and some other seeds and vegetables.

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Other than meeting up with Jenn, I took the rest of my time in Switzerland easy.  While my parents’ aging is hardly a fun topic for me, I have to admit that their slightly more relaxed pace of life makes for some restorative time when I visit them.  Plus, we seem to argue less now,  which is pretty nice.  I made this tart and also played around with recipes using chia gel.  I made several things, but one thing I kept coming back to was this lovely cacao shake, made in my mom’s conventional (ie not a Vitamix) blender.

I first read about chia gel on Gena’s blog, and wanted to revisit it as a shortcut tool for puddings and shakes, but also for baking.  I bake with chia instead of eggs often, but like baking with flax seeds, all recipes call for grinding the chia seeds and letting the ground seeds soak up liquid for a while – it can get time-consuming. 

So I played around with chia gel as a shortcut to having to grind the seeds and soak them for each recipe.  All my experiments involved unground chia seeds soaked in filtered water, mainly because I was also making  a lot of chia puddings while I was on vacation and was using the chia gel as a shortcut.  In hindsight, I should have experimented with grinding the chia seeds prior to making the gel, but I really like the texture this gel gave my cacao drink, so it all works out.

Chia gel (Gluten-Free, Vegan, Sugar-Conscious, Soy-Free)
Makes about 1 3/4 to 2 cups

Combine seeds and water and stir after about 10 minutes.  Allow combination to gel up.  Use in a variety of recipes, including this blueberry pudding or the cacao shake below.  What I like about this cacao shake is that it has texture from the chia seeds and the nuts.

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Vacation Cacao Shake for 1 (Gluten-Free, Vegan, Sugar-Conscious, Soy-Free)

  • 3 Tbsps of chia gel (see above)
  • 1 heaping Tbsp raw cacao
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbsps slivered almonds (can use whole almonds)
  • Sweetener of your juice (I used vanilla stevia)
  • 2-4 ice cubes

Blend all ingredients except ice cubes in your blender.  Pour over ice cubes and enjoy.


I am submitting the shake recipe to the Gluten-Free Homemaker Gluten-Free Wednesday, which is a collection of gluten-free recipes, tips and other great ideas.


I am also submitting the chia gel method and shake recipe to Diane’s Real Food Weekly at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 eliz@thesweetlife April 29, 2011 at 12:11 pm

I wondered where you went!!!! Looks gorgeous.


2 Jenn April 29, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Yay it was so great to meet you and hang out with you!!! And wow thanks so much for all of the amazing compliments – I am speechless, really. We'll definitely have to meet up again next time you are en Suisse!


3 renaissancetrophywife.com April 30, 2011 at 6:51 pm

hooray for your well-deserved vacation! Looks like you got great weather as well.


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