Tag Archives: bars

Testing in the Raw

It’s not as intense as it sounds, I swear – actually, it’s pretty warm and fuzzy.

I’m lucky enough to be testing recipes for my favorite cookbook author (and friend), Dreena Burton! (You’ve seen me rave about her soups here…) Well, it turns out, she makes pretty darn good raw desserts too.

I’ve tested two of these delectable delicacies thus far. Chocolate Avocado Mousse, because you’re worth it. Oh wait, is that slogan taken?

I’ve had variations on chocolate avocado pudding before, but I’ve never made it myself; my Vitamix inspires me to reach new heights, what can I say?

I’m not at liberty to disclose the ingredients of this dreamy whipped mousse, but let’s just say it’s simple and healthy! Plus, the mousse is thick enough that it could even work as a frosting, methinks.

If veggies in pudding frighten you – they shouldn’t, but I’m not judging! – fear not. Dreena’s upcoming book will still satisfy your raw taste buds. Only Dreena Burton could create raw, non-dairy cream cheese frosting. Genius.

Raw Banana Nut Squares with Coconut “Cream Cheese” Frosting. These “buttery” bars – on a base reminiscent of graham crackers – are loaded with healthy fats and homestyle taste. With flavors much more complex and familiar than your run-of-the-mill raw dessert, these babies were a hit at the party my mom brought them to. Even skeptical omnis couldn’t resist.

More Dreena testers to come!

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Package Swap

I was lucky enough not only to get in on a vegan care package swap this year, but to be paired up with the orchestrator herself, the wonderful Lindsay from Cooking for a Vegan Lover!

For a look at the package I sent Lindsay, click here!
Here’s what I received:

I know, I know, Lindsay’s awesome! In the back we have some Road’s End Organics Golden Gravy Mix–I can already see a nice dorm room dinner with that in my near future–and (also organic!) Pacific Natural Foods Simply Tea in Green Tea Tangerine flavor!

Lindsay’s from Vermont, so she also sent me some VT specialties:

Liz Lovely Gluten-Free Ginger Molasses Cookies (Did you know Liz Lovely was Vermont-based?), and of course, real Vermont Pure Maple Syrup from Kingdom Mountain family farm!

The package also included a mother load of PranaBars, which I’ve never had before, but am really excited about because the flavors are so exotic and healthy! These superfood bars are all organic, gluten-free, vegan, and mostly raw.

Yeha, that’s apricot pumpkin. Can you believe it? There’s also coconut acaí, pear ginseng, cashew almond, apricot goji, and apple pie. These will be perfect pre-run snacks when, come winter break, I start training for the January half marathon I’m doing!

The package also included two packs of Heart Thrive bars, cranberry and chocolate, which I’ve seen before, but never tried (and isn’t that the point of these exchanges? to try things that you might not normally buy because they’re a luxury or you don’t know what they’re like?). I really, really like that they’re heart-shaped. I think eating them will be that much more fun.

Also, as you can see, Trader Joe’s Instant Vanilla Pudding! I’ve seen it in stores, but never realized it was vegan–all you have to do is add non-dairy milk instead of cow’s milk. Sweet. :)

The remainder of the package was lots of fun little trinkets, like milled flaxseed, green tea mints, gummy bears, a JamFrakas bar, and hot sauce.

Thanks so much, Lindsay. This was a great first swap experience, and I’ll definitely be doing more in the future because I had so much fun. Opening the package was like vegan Christmas.

Also–ugh–this is one of those posts where almost every single paragraph ends with an extra word that wouldn’t fit on the line above it. I could try to fix it, but it’s kind of funny. I’m sure all bloggers get annoyed about little things like that, so I’ll leave it as a tribute!

Finally, Maggie at My Breakfast Blog tagged me for “Truth Week,” so here’s my little piece of kind of embarrassing truth: Sometimes when I’m snacking on a jar of peanut butter straight with a spoon (not a plain jar, but fancy, semi-expensive ones like PB & Co. flavors), I’ll make myself put it in the freezer to make sure I save it for more exciting uses than eating it plain, like oatmeal, baking, and fun sandwiches. I’m all for eating PB plain–God knows I do it enough–but when you pay so much for nice nut butters that aren’t always easy to find in the first place, it can kind of suck to go through it so quickly. It’s sad that I have to freeze it, but I just love PB that much. Truth!

Edited to add: HAHA, even my note about my paragraphs ended up with an extra word on another line! FML. I bet it will happen to this one too.

Ginger-Miso Yam Wraps and Giveaway Winners

Yes, I said winners, plural! I decided I’d give away two boxes of Weil bars given that they’re in anything but short supply around here. The winners are Ruby Red Vegan and aTxVegn. I don’t know how to do the screenshot of the random number generator, so please just believe me! Respectively, their ideal bar flavors were fig/almond and tart cherry/coconut. Simple, but delicious combos, if you ask me!

Oh, and did I say there were two winners? Because there are actually three! Surprise! I decided to pick the final winner based on whose ideal bar most piqued my interest – and my appetite! The best idea for a bar flavor award goes to Pistachio and Cardamom, who in keeping with their name, came up with “pistachio cinnamon fig with white chocolate chips!” I just might have to make that sometime…

Congratulations, guys! As it turns out, you can have any of the five flavors (Goji Moji, Chia-Razz, Banana Manna, Chocolada Walnut, or Pistachi-Oh!) of the Weil bars, so please leave me a comment with your email address so we can connect!

For my post-run breakfast today I had the only thing more refreshing than watermelon: frozen watermelon! Seriously, pop some watermelon chunks in the freezer for 45 min to an hour, and you’re golden (don’t put them in overnight – or if you do, thaw them for a while before eating – or they’ll break your teeth!)

Okay, so I know you all want to see another way to eat God’s gift to earth that is the sweet potato! When I saw the recipe for Ginger-Miso Yam Wraps in the September issue (September already?! Jesus…) of the Vegetarian Times, I knew I had to make it. I mean, sweet potatoes mashed with peanut butter, miso, ginger, edamame, cilantro, and tofu, all wrapped in a deliciously fresh collard green leaf? Um, hello!

Okay, they look like something my dog threw up, but they tasted even better than I’d imagined–the perfect combo of sweet, salt, and even spicy, thanks to the ginger and cayenne. Plus, they were perfect for a light summer meal.

Also, last night I helped my sister and her friends make a berry pie with blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries, using the Oil Crust recipe from The Voluptuous Vegan. I promised I’d blog it for them, so here you go!

I bought ingredients for yet another sweet potato dish for this week!…

More Fresh, Whole Foods + First Giveaway!

Okay, so on the stomach front (It’s hard not to talk about when it’s all I’m thinking about, all the time – sorry!), I got a CT scan this morning. I don’t know if any of you have ever gotten one, but you have to drink this disgusting barium sulfate stuff. I’ve heard it described as a chalk-flavored milkshake, but I would describe it more as cough-syrup/the-worst-berry-bubblegum-toothpaste-you-can-ever-remember-having-as-a-child-at-the-dentist flavored laundry detergent. Either way, not a fun thing to wake up to at 7 in the morning, especially in the quantity of 900 mL. Also, just thought of this – wouldn’t it have been funny if I’d food porned it? Haha.
Anyways, I felt really sick afterward and actually had to leave work early (thanks, Susan!) But, I’m seeing a specialist on Friday, and I’m still eating detoxifying whole foods and avoiding salt – except for the occasional spoonful of [salted] creamy TJ’s peanut butter (I may feel awful, but I still have my reputation and self-identity, which is inextricably linked to PB, to think about too, ya know…).So, I’m still eating extra simply and healthfully…

Antioxidant-Rich Acaí-Cocoa-Banana-Cherry Smoothie:

Blended with almond milk and topped with fresh blueberries and cinnamon.
Sliced Apples with Rosemary from Ani’s Raw Desserts:

I know you don’t really need a “recipe” for something like that, but without Ani’s suggestion, I might not have thought to combine apples, rosemary, and fresh lemon juice, and I’m so glad I did! It was so refreshing and exotic (AND it reminded me of these oat bars that I loved).

Detox Bowl # ? (I lost track…)Wild rice with lemon, nooch, and some random spices, topped with more chickpeas, steamed sweet potatoes, and pineapple-soy yogurt sauce, all on a bed of romaine lettuce:

And now for my first ever giveaway! I wish I could say that some cool health food company had offered me and a lucky reader free products, but alas, I’m not that popular. Instead, I’m offering up a box of Weil by Nature’s Path Fruit & Nut Bars (scroll all the way to the right) that I happen to have, being an intern at Weil Lifestyle! The winner will get their choice between Goji-Moji, Banana Manna, and Pistachi-Oh! In addition to being vegan, these bars contain nothing artificial, and are certified as being non-GMO. Their ingredient lists might not be quite as short as those of our Larabars, but I promise Weil bars won’t disappoint!

To enter, just leave a comment telling me what your ultimate bar flavor would be (and who knows? Maybe if your idea is appealing enough to me, I’ll actually make it, blog it, and dedicate it to you, á la Norabars!) If you want to be entered twice, just blog about this giveaway. Also, for those of you who are particulary ambitious, I’ll enter you THREE times if you join Dr. Weil’s Facebook Fan Page: Andrew Weil, M.D. (plus, I think you’ll appreciate the info you get there anyways, and would recommend staying on as a fan afterwards). If you blog about the giveaway or join the page, leave me a comment letting me know! Also, very sorry to do this, but this giveaway is only open to U.S. readers–I’m not going to overseas ship 16 nutrition bars–we need to maintain some semblance of a sustainable lifestyle here, guys! I’ll leave entries open until 12:00 am, August 1st.


Carrot Bisque, Berry Muffins, and Norabars

My kitchen has been a happenin’ place of late! First up, the deliciously simple Carrot Bisque from Vegan with a Vengeance! I like the short ingredient list on this guy–I love intricate recipes, but sometimes I’m just not up for a 1/2 page-long spice list! Most of the flavor comes from (light) coconut milk, curry powder, and a touch of maple syrup.

Garnished with soy yogurt for some added refreshing creaminess!

At my mama’s request, I also made the Bakery-Style Berry Muffins from Vegan Brunch using blueberries and raspberries! I’ve made these before, but in my muffin top pan, which didn’t work as well as I’d hoped–they sort of came out like small, thick pancakes, and didn’t get crispy at all.

I think the way to go for killer, crispy muffin tops is just to overfill the tins (as Isa mentions in Vegan Brunch herself). She says to go for 10 for big tops, but I did 9. The batter was pretty thick, so each tin was probably filled a little over the top. They were much nicer than the flattish muffins I usually make, but next time I’m doing 8, so I can get–I don’t know if this is the best way to describe it–like, giant mushrooming tops. Haha.

How cute is that! I got such a shock when I was taking this shot and found myself in a staring contest through my Rebel’s viewfinder. He’s winking! I named him Berry Bob.

What a crumb.

I also made my own energy bars yesterday! I haven’t told you guys yet, but I signed up for the Disney Half-Marathon on September 6th with my good friend Chelsea from Pomona. I’ve always wanted to run one, and when she asked me to do it with her, I knew it’d be a great opportunity! I’ve never done anything like it before (I played soccer for 10 years, and 1 year in college, so at least I’m semi-athletic), and the most I’ve ever run at once was 5 1/2 miles in 8th grade at my summer camp’s race. But, I’ve found a training schedule, so I should be good!

Anyways, my point is, I wanted a good pre-run snack because I’ve discovered my body can’t handle very much food before I run. My stomach needs to be as empty as possible, but I obviously need fuel. So, semi-bored of the few Larabar flavors we always have, I made Norabars! They’re Cinnamon-Pecan with Cacao Nibs! I actually liked them better than the Larabars I’ve had (but don’t get me wrong, Larabars rock…they’re just expensive).

Cacao-Cinnamon-Pecan Norabars

1 cup pitted dates, chopped
1 cup toasted pecans*
2 tablespoons cacao nibs
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Process dates into a thick paste (it’s okay if there are chunks). Remove from food processor and place in a small bowl. Pulse toasted pecans until roughly powdered (again, you can leave them as chunky as you want), and add to the bowl of dates, along with the cinnamon and vanilla. Finally, pulse the cacao nibs until they’re slightly broken up, and add those to the bowl as well. Now, get your hands dirty and knead all the ingredients together in the bowl! To make the bars, divide “dough” into 4, place each lump on a piece of saran wrap. Wrap them up, then shape into bars by molding them through the plastic. Chill in fridge for a bit, and there you go! Homemade ____bars (insert your name there). If you’re making a bigger batch, you could also press the dough into a pan and cut it up into bars once chilled.

*Note: You can use raw pecans if you like, but I figured, since my cacao nibs are roasted anyways, I might as well toast the nuts for extra flavor. (It makes them taste more like cookies!)

Makes 4 bars.

Nut Butters, Moroccan Tagine, and Oat Bars!

Hello joyful vegans! (and curious omnivores, vegetarians, flexitarians, etc.)

I got an exciting delivery a few days ago! Three Naturally Nutty Nut Butters! I’ve been super excited to try these ever since Shelby at La Belle Vegan has raved about their Vanilla Almond Butter, so I finally ordered their 3 jar sampler pack:

Gosh, I’m so glad I did! First of all, I really appreciate that each flavor contains flax and hemp seeds–it’s a great way to sneak in some healthy omega-3 fats and extra fiber into whatever nut buttery meal or snack you have! I thought the Cinnamon Cherry would be my favorite, but the cinnamon and cherry flavors aren’t quite as pronounced as I would have liked! Still it’s delicious, and I like how it only has 6g of sugar/serving. It reminds me of a less sweet version of PB & Co’s Cinnamon Raisin Swirl, though if I have to be honest, not quite as delicious. The Mocha Peanut Butter is good, but similarly not sweet at all, and the coffee flavor is VERY strong–it’s almost like fine coffee grinds mixed into peanut butter–so it’s not the best on its own, but I think it’d be delicious stirred into something, or spread on toast, waffles, muffins, or bagels. And yeah, the Vanilla Almond Butter is the star. Just the right amount of sweetness and kinda tastes like cake batter!

Overall, I really like these nut butters, but they’re just not quite as addictive as PB & Co’s Mighty Maple, Dark Chocolate Dreams, and Cinnamon Raisin Swirl. However, the fact that they have a lot less sugar is worth it if you’re in the mood for something slightly less decadent.

A couple days ago, I made the Moroccan Tagine with Spring Vegetables from Vegan with a Vengeance. What attracted me to this dish–and the reason I loved it–was that it contained so many flipping vegetables! (Isa does say in the intro that it’s a “veritable powerhouse of nutrition”) Seriously, onions, carrots, zucchini, grape tomatoes, green beans, and spinach, and herbs like cilantro and mint! Plus, who doesn’t love lentils. And raisins. Okay, I’ll stop.

Served over fluffy quinoa with a lemon wedge for squeezin’ of course.

Finally, Apple Rosemary Oat Bars from the May/June issue of the Vegetarian Times! I love exotic ingredient combinations, so I knew I’d be making these from the moment I saw them. They lived up to their name, and I loved the kick they received from the lemon zest and juice.

My only complaint was that there is NOT enough oat mixture to form two layers in an 8 1/2 X 11 pan, as the recipe claims. I used a smaller pan, and it was still a reach. Also, I added an extra half of apple grated because I thought the filling was too sweet. So do that, or just cut down on the agave! But seriously, a big winner!

Till next time…