Monthly Archives: January 2010

Babycakes NYC in…LA?!

My friends and I have been making as many vegan field trips into LA as possible the past few weeks because we figure, the deeper into the semester we get, the less feasible such trips will be. And, c’mon, second to New York City, LA definitely has the most vegan restaurants of any US city! (Obviously not talking about the number of vegan restaurants per capita…I think Portland would win that.)

First on our list was Babycakes NYC, which just opened their LA location a few weeks ago!

We went late in the day, so about half of their displays were empty. :( Even so, we didn’t exactly go hungry.

I got a vanilla spelt cupcake with chocolate frosting, but my first bite was a little unnerving. The frosting was sort of salty, and the cupcake was dry with a weird aftertaste. The staff at Babycakes was super sweet though, and immediately allowed me to replace it. I must have gotten a dud. Either way, I don’t mean this to be a negative review because they were so great about getting me a new one as soon as I expressed my discontent.

My second (and much more delicious!) cupcake was a gluten-free banana cupcake.

Although I generally prefer less sweet banana baked goods, like banana bread, this cupcake was still extremely yummy. The cupcake was moist and flavorful, and the frosting was perfect as well–just a little bit tart and cream cheese-y, but still sweet enough to qualify as a cupcake topper.

Still, not even my banana cupcake was as good as the gluten-free chocolate brownie cupcakes that my three friends got. I would definitely opt for that one next time!

Naturally, we had to take a bunch of baked goodies to go–who knows when we’ll be back next? I picked up a cinnamon bun and a chipwich.

Did I say cinnamon bun? I meant Skinny Bun! At least, that’s what Babycakes calls ’em! All I have to say about this spelt bun was that it rocked my breakfast world. A bit crumbly on the inside, but, hey–this was the next day, reheated in a microwave! It wasn’t overly sweet, the raisins were a nice touch, and I loved the buttery mouthfeel provided by the coconut oil!

Don’t worry, I didn’t eat my Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich for breakfast (even I have some discipline). But I did eat it as a snack!

Made with two gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, and a gob of vanilla frosting, this guy was even better than its ice cream counterpart that I’ve had in the past. First of all, you don’t have to worry about meltage. Second, this chipwich was just plain good–no explanation needed. Super sweet frosting, check. Crunchy cookies with a bit of salt to complement sweet frosting, check.

Finally, I had a slice of GF Lemon Poppyseed bread that my friend James gave to me. I slathered it with some TJ’s Reduced Sugar Strawberry Jam, and called it a morning.

Who knew lemon and strawberry went so well together? (Well, obviously I did, but whatever.)

Whether you’re in NYC or LA, I definitely recommend hitting up your local Babycakes. The worst that can happen is that you get a mediocre cupcake that you’re more than welcome to exchange for another (though I don’t think that’s likely), and the best that can happen is that you’re admitted into wheat-free dessert heaven. Your choice.

Next time, I’m going bright ‘n early though, so I can take my pick from a fully stocked display. I have a hankering for on of their “toasties,” and maybe that GF brownie cupcake. ;)

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Cookies for Breakfast

Well, not just cookies (though i don’t have a problem with that either). I’m talking about incorporating cookies into an otherwise balanced breakfast!

I had some Liz Lovely Gluten-Free Ginger Molasses Cookies from my package swap with Lindsay at Cooking for a Vegan Lover, and decided that their best use would be to add a little sweetness to my mornings.

I give you: Sweet Potato Smoothie with Ginger Cookie Crumbles!

I just blended up a frozen banana, sweet potato purée, soy milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, a dollop of maple syrup, and some ice cubes, then crumbled half a cookie on top (these are BIG cookies).

I liked the sweet potato/ginger/molasses combination, so I stuck with the same theme for a bowl of oat bran the next day.

Sweet Potato Oat Bran with Ginger Cookie Crumbles!

What a carb fest. In a good way.

What random toppings to you all use for smoothies, oats, and/or soy yogurt? I still have to try the ice cream-topped oat bran that was floating around the blog world a few months ago…

Good ‘Ol Tempe(h)

So last week I was home in Tempe again for less than 24 hours. Why, you might ask? Well, I was lucky enough to get a cancellation appointment at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale to address my general malaise of the past seven months, and if you’re the Mayo Clinic, you know you don’t let three or four hundred miles prevent your attendance. In the world of doctor visits, that there is prime real estate, yo.

Of course, the whole thing was a hassle, but I certainly ate well during my short visit home. First of all, my dad is super adorable, and prepared an Indian feast–both of our favorites–for just the two of us. He made two dishes, along with brown rice.

Ginger chickpeas

And a potato/cauliflower/pea dish.

The chickpeas were phenomenal. We both agreed that the second dish was just mediocre, but my dad said the recipe was weird, and he had to doctor it up. Still, it was Indian food, so it can only be so bad, right?

P.S. The only thing cuter than my dad making this dinner for us was that, when I was about to take the above shot, he was like, “Wait, wait!” and made sure there was enough cilantro garnish. :) Oh, dad.

We scarfed down our meal in order to make our 10:30 showing of Avatar in IMAX 3-D. I loved the movie, and even though it was just my dad and I, I sort of felt like my sister Olivia was there because she looks exactly like Neytiri:

I’m sorry. I got carried away. She’s going to KILL me when she sees that.

Before I flew home the next day, I hit up my favorite (and Tempe’s only!) vegan restaurant, Green! My Mayo physician had just told me to eat a lot of gluten in the next month to make sure that my upcoming tests for gluten intolerance would be accurate, so I knew I was getting a sandwich. I chose one that I’ve always avoided because it seemed boring: The “Green” Burger. House ground and packed oats and barley veggie burger with fresh lettuce and tomato, vegan mayo, ketchup and pickles.

Lots of gluten! :) Oats and barley in the burger, and wheat in the bun.

To spice things up, I requested Cheddar Daiya and caramelized onions, and got it on an Ezekiel bun. Unfortunately, they forgot my onions, but I was able to forgive them since the Daiya rendered this sandwich one mean vegan cheeseburger.

Holy Yum Yum

It’s about time I give a shout out to one of my new favorite cookbooks, which I finally got a chance to cook from over winter break. The funny thing is, this book is so beautiful and its recipes so inventive, that it became one of my favorites from the moment I bought it, months before I could actually whip up any of its crave-worthy recipes. If it’s not obvious from the title, I’m talking about Vegan Yum Yum (I’m linking to it so you can buy it right now! It’s that good…) by Lauren Ulm, author of the beloved Vegan Yum Yum blog.

As I flipped through the book, I quickly realized that my usual post-it note system for marking “must make” recipes was not going to fly. My post-it notes were running low, and what’s the point of marking every single page anyways? With a beautiful color photo (taken by Lauren herself!) for every single recipe – recipes that are not only mouthwatering, but healthful and easy – can you blame me? Plus, sweet potatoes and chickpeas abound in Yum Yum’s recipes, which pretty much sealed the deal.

My first venture into the book was before I even had the book. Let me explain: the Super Quick Tomato Basil Cream Pasta has been on Lauren’s blog for more than a year, and one chilly frigid night in Scotland, I decided it was the only thing that could warm me up, heart and soul. Incredibly simple and “super quick” indeed, this recipe has become a staple for both lazy nights and dinner parties. It’s that darn good.
The first recipe we tried from the book once it was actually released were the Miniature Napoleons with Eggplant Cream, a.k.a the cutest appetizers in the world, which my mom assembled for a good friend’s birthday party. If you don’t have the book, the recipe’s here.

With preparing the eggplant, cutting all the veggies-to-be-roasted into uniform circles, and stacking everything up, these are superrr labor intensive (hehe, good thing it wasn’t me doing the labor!), but totally worth it. We had to tweak the eggplant cream a little (I think we added extra cashews, lemon juice, and salt), but once it was tweaked, it was damn good. :) These were a huge hit at the party, so make ’em if you’re looking to impress and have some free time.

This is the Golden Chickpea and Artichoke Salad atop some romaine lettuce. This salad was bursting with fresh, simple flavors, and the crushed toasted almonds gave it a nice crunch. I think it’d be better on its own though, but it was my decision to serve it on romaine, so can’t fault the book there. And, yes, that is an artichoke bowl.

Another recipe that really caught my eye was the Delicata Squash Stuffed with Cherry Apple Almond Couscous. Obviously, a beautiful presentation…

I used this roasted brown rice couscous from Whole Foods, and I really liked its earthiness paired with the sweetness of the apples, cherries, and squash. A drizzle of agave-mustard sauce brings it all together. Since I prepared this meal with my good friends Allison and Vince, it was all the more special!

Okay, so the next two meals may not be quite as beautiful as the former (though they’re still pretty nice looking), but they were hands down two of the best meals I’ve ever made. So just prepare yourself.

I’m serious. Are you preparing?


Italian Rice and Beans. A modest name for a scandalously good dish. This is why having a photo for every recipe in a cookbook is valuable–if I hadn’t seen the wonderful burst of color and texture in Lauren’s photo, I may have skipped this recipe!

It’s just brown rice, spinach, Great Northern beans, pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, and lemon zest with a few seasonings, but, holy yum, is this good. Let’s just say I fully attribute my half marathon performance the next morning to this carbo-loaded dish’s excellence. I know everyone hates this expression (and I do too!), but this was a party in your mouth.

Aren’t the colors gorgeous? Nature is an artist.

Another colorful and unbelievably delicious recipe in Vegan Yum Yum is the Creamy Sweet Potato Bake.

Sweet potatoes, kale, and pasta (I used TJ’s brown rice fusilli), drenched in a tangy, cashew-based alfredo sauce, topped with bread crumbs (I used brown rice ones–noticing a trend here?), and baked until crispy on the outside. Comfort food at its finest.

I would make this dish again, and again, and again. And maybe again.

Raw Chocolate Cupcakes

It’s a rainy day here in Southern California (I didn’t sign up for this), and the streets are far too flooded to walk around (I just soaked my tennis shoes on the way to the Campus Center), so naturally, I headed to my blog. There are a few things I could post on, but I’ve always found chocolate to be the best remedy for a gloomy day. So I give you, not just chocolate, but Chocolate Cupcakes from Raw for Dessert!

Yep, the same little cuppies who are now gracing my new header, which a few of you were kind enough to comment on!

These miniature cupcakes are super simple and fun to make, like every other recipe I’ve made from Raw for Dessert (see my review). The “cake” is made of dates, walnuts, cocoa powder, and vanilla, and the frosting of cocoa powder, coconut oil, and maple syrup. My sister was a fiend for these!

They’re moist and rich–just like any chocolate cake should be–baked or raw! Man, I wish I had one of these right now. I’ll have to console myself with the knowledge that I’m going to the LA Babycakes tomorrow! ;)

Rock ‘n’ Roll!

Thanks for all the good luck wishes, everyone! Apparently, they were effective because I ran my half marathon in 1:57:21, a full 13.26 minutes faster than my first one in September. That’s basically a minute less per mile!

It was an awesome experience running a race in my hometown (well it started in Phoenix, but ended in my hometown, Tempe). Fun fact: the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll in Phoenix is the largest same day marathon/half marathon in the United States! This year, there were over 30,000 runners!

This race was also special because I was running for Team Tempe to help raise money for local charities. Of course running is highly personal and when it came down to it, I ran for me; but it was nice to help others in the process!

I’m really proud of my time since I was only able to train intensively for two and a half weeks. Out of the 1,144 in my division (F 18-24), I came in 154th!

I loved running the Disney one with my good friend, Chelsea, but it was also really nice having my parents there to greet me at the end (my dad took the photo).

Wonder what the perfect post-race vegan meal is?

Oats in a jar, of course! Well banana-vanilla-cinnamon-date oat bran in a PB jar to be exact. Normally, I can’t eat this much, but I was really hungry for obvious reasons. :) This baby really hit the spot.

Hot, gooey, lovely mess. Taken with my new Canon 60mm macro lens!

Is running 13.1 miles really that hard when you have this breakfast waiting for you at home?

Bean and Corn Tortilla Lasagna

There’s been some Mexi-love going down in my house lately, first in the form of the Bean and Corn Tortilla Lasagna with Avocado from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan.

This is another recipe I’ve wanted to make as long as I can remember, so I’m glad I finally got around to it. Alternating layers of spicy beans and tomatoes, avocado, corn tortillas, and Daiya cheese make this dish a veritable fiesta!

Cooked avocado is different, but I’m always pleasantly surprised by how good it is.

My dad commented on how light and fresh it was, especially considering that lasagna is usually pretty heavy. I think that lightness is attributable not only to the fact that this lasagna is vegan and loaded with veggies, but to the lime (squeezed on between layers and on top) and cilantro.

More lime please!

We still had a lot of Daiya hanging around the next day, so nachos it was! These were even better than my Teese-y nachos from over the summer! Actually, MUCH better.

The great thing about living in Arizona is that you can eat al fresco in the middle of the winter:

TJ’s Reduced Guilt Tortilla Chips, Refried Black Beans (I made my own using the recipe in Yellow Rose Recipes!), Cheddar and Italian Daiya “cheese,” guacamole (also made from scratch, but just off the top of my head), and lotsa salsa. My dad and I devoured this lunch.

On an entirely different note, I’m running my 2nd half marathon tomorrow morning: the P.F. Chang’s Arizona Rock ‘n’ Roll 1/2.

I got 2:10:47 in my first half last September, so I’m going for under 2:00 this time. Wish me luck! I’m gonna get started on my carbo-loading dinner from the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook!