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One of my favorite family weekends is Labor Day weekend in Mt. Shasta, as we kiss summer goodbye. I find the Blackberry Festival to be particularly charming and oh-so-reminiscent of my childhood.

I soak up the sound of music wafting through the sea of purple clad people, aptly dressed in their colored festival t-shirts, gingerly gripping their blackberry infused beers. The squealing children in the background can be heard amidst the backdrop of games like the water balloon toss, potato sack races and watermelon eating contests … that is what comes to mind when I think of the Mt. Shasta Blackberry Festival.

It just doesn’t feel like Labor Day unless we are there; sitting on the grass, dreaming of eating our blackberry pies later that night. The festival slips by like a dream; all too quickly. A good old fashioned day in the sun, at the park, void of our usual devices, talking walks, dipping our toes in the crisp water coming off of the head falls, picnicking, frisbee throwing, smiling, laughing, napping, dancing and counting the children’s ribbons from the fun battles they waged to show-off their prowess in the various competitions.

In celebration of all that is blackberry, I have a special recipe to share. It is not the traditional blackberry pie, or some sort of gooey cobbler, or even a cocktail, those are all wonderful concoctions, but seemingly all too traditional for me.

This recipe is one that screams the flavors of summer. Figs, strawberries and blackberries are combined to make one lip-smacking treat. Think of it as the optimum way to kick-start your day as you head out to the festival. The chia cardamom pudding could be optional if you are short on time, otherwise set it up the night before you make the smoothie. Quite honestly, it could easily be a stand-alone dessert with fresh berries on top, but that’s for another day, or any left overs you have.


Blackberry Topped Strawberry & Fig Smoothie with Cardamom Chia Pudding

Note: Cardamom Chia Pudding should be made the night before.


2 cups almond milk, divided

½ cup coconut milk

1 cup strawberries, washed and stems removed

10-12 small to medium size black figs, washed and stems removed

1-2 cups blackberries, washed and dried

½-1 cup ice cubes, according to taste and consistency preferences

1 tsp psyllium husk

¼ cup chia seeds

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 ½ tsp cardamom

2 TBS quinoa pops


The night before (or at least 8 hours earlier), assemble the cardamom chia pudding. In a small container with a lid, combine chia seeds, 1 cup of almond milk, ½ cup coconut milk, cardamom and vanilla. Mix well to remove any clumps of chia seeds. Set aside to chill.

In a blender combine 1 cup almond milk, ice, strawberries, and 6 figs. Blend until liquefied. Add in phyllium husk, blend and allow to sit for 2 minutes. Divide smoothie into four medium size glasses. Slice remainder of figs in half and line each cup with the figs, pressing the open side gently towards the glass so that it slightly attaches. >I used 2 figs cut in half for each glass< Next add a thin layer of the quinoa pops to each glass, followed by the chia pudding (which has been well mixed again and devoid of any clumps) and another layer of the quinoa pops. Finish off the glass with an ample amount of blackberries. Then enjoy every bite of this raw, vegan, and dairy-free treat that screams- I LoVE summer.