Tag Archives: blueberries

Happy Halloween, Babycakes

I can’t decide which is scarier: Halloween, or how long it’s been since I last posted.

For once, I have a valid excuse though. I’ve only just returned from a two-week long adventure (and I mean adventure) in India – the first trip organized through the cooperation of VegNews and VegVoyages!

Of course, I have an epic Indian food post in the works, but in the meantime, allow me to show you how magical gluten-free vegan bakeries celebrate everyone’s second favorite autumnal holiday. (We’re all on the same page about Thanksgiving, right?!)

Like most of you, I celebrated “All-Hallows-Even” with my friends on Saturday night; I mean, Sunday’s not exactly the most convenient night to have a ghoulishly good time, is it?

Come the evening of true Halloween, I found myself facing a lonely six-hour drive back to Tempe (did I mention that my friends live in LA?). Being the strict observer of holidays that I am, this plan posed a bit of a problem. I wasn’t about to let a long drive get between me and a good time.

So, I did what any self-respecting, gluten-hesitant vegan would do. Donning my baby-pink piggie hat, I headed over to Babycakes NYC in downtown LA to stock up on sugary treats for the road.

A chocolate “cake ball” here…

A powdered blueberry donut there…

And a few spookies (spooky cookies, of course!) to bring home to share…

By now, you probably have an image in your head of me, sitting in my car, wearing a pig hat, and stuffing my face with a dinner’s worth of gluten-free baked goods. That is actually a pretty accurate description of how I spent my 385-mile-long Halloween. I assure you, the irony of the situation was not lost on me.

Oink oink oink.

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A Celebration of Healthy Fats

I might as well call this post “A Celebration of Color,” because I just realized my recent eats have also been a veritable rainbow. You’ll see.

But back to fats. Healthy fats. Like avocado, cashews, almond butter, and–my favorite–coconut! I’ve been incorporating a larger than usual variety of these foods into my diet lately because my usual main source of fat (peanut butter–do I even need to tell you that?) has been absent due to the fact that I’ve been doing an elimination diet the past week to see if I have any food sensitivities.

Anyways, I gotta satisfy the place in my heart that PB generally fills somehow, right? So, how about avocado smashed rice cakes?!

I just “smashed” half a beautiful avocado on two brown rice cakes, sprinkled on some salt, and called it a day (maybe next time I’ll try some nooch too). This would be better warm on toast, but I didn’t have any gluten-free toast (for the elimination diet), and rice cakes are cute, so there.

I bought some perfectly ripe juicy peaches at the farmer’s market last Sunday. They were also ridiculously humongous considering they were organic.

For a light breakfast a few days ago, I just sliced one up and drizzled it with coconut oil, and cinnamon. That was enough to fill me up because I’m not joking when I say these peaches were oddly large. The coconut oil kind of solidified on the peach slices because they were cold. It was weird, but still delicious.

Finally, a brilliant discovery I made at my local health food store, Ecoterra: Tomberlie’s Raw Vegan Ice Cream! I bought a–I wanna say pint, but the container was so tiny, it was probably half a pint–of the blueberry flavor because how often do you have blueberry ice cream? Or maybe I just wanted to complete the color spectrum of this post.

Tomberlie’s uses young thai coconut and raw cashews to achieve its creamy texture, and raw agave nectar for sweetness. Most of the ingredients are organic, and there are literally no thickeners or filler ingredients. Besides the ingredients I already mentioned, there was only filtered water, blueberries, lemon juice, and vanilla bean!

I think it’s pretty amazing that the ice cream had such a wonderful, authentic texture given that there’s no emulsifiers or anything. As much as I love So Delicious and Purely Decadent, they have fairly lengthy ingredient lists. Snaps for Tomberlie’s! Plus, what a cool name! :)

Despite its excellence on its own, I had to try the ice cream in my own elimination diet-friendly form of a sundae! The obvious solution: add more frozen blueberries, a squeeze pack of Justin’s Classic Almond Butter, and some cinnamon and more cashews (the last two aren’t pictured here). It was decadent, and, as this post is all about, full of healthy fats!

I can’t wait to try more Tomberlie’s flavors! Especially Fudge Ripple, Chocolate Chip, Praline Pecan, and White Chocolate Macadamia Nut. It’s definitely hard on the wallet, but for being raw and mostly organic, I’ll take it. :)

More Vegan Brunch: Muffins and Frittata

So I’m still steadily making my way through Vegan Brunch – don’t you worry. First up, Blueberry Ginger Spelt Muffins! Made with half the fat (hello applesauce!) and a little bit of whole wheat flour because I ran out of spelt at 1 3/4 cups…

These muffins had such a nice springy texture and didn’t crumble apart in the slightest. Spelt’s the best, yo. And who can resist those bursting trickles of bluebie juice and little nubs of crystallized ginger peeking out of that muffin top?

I also made the Curried Cauliflower Frittata. This was good, but I didn’t loveee it.

I added an extra carrot because adding extra veggies is always better, but besides that, didn’t make any changes!

Here it is after inverting it. I kind of liked the first way better though…maybe I just don’t know what a frittata is supposed to look like?…

I definitely thought it needed a bit more salt, and the curry flavor was a little bit strong (to be fair though, Isa does warn that you might want to decrease the curry powder). The worst part of it was that I started making it with my friend Jo, but she had to leave halfway through and never got any. Sorry, Jo. Good thing it wasn’t amazing, or I would have felt really bad!

So, this post isn’t just brunch! I have a cookie recipe too. I made some significant changes to an old recipe I had lying around. I made these for a democratic event that my mom was volunteering for, hence the picture after the recipe. These cookies are delightfully chewy with a crisp exterior, and the lemon-cranberry-almond pairing – er, tripling? – is to die for! The banana flavor is subtle, but there. Enjoy.

Oatmeal-Lemon-Cranberry-Almond Bundle Cookies
(Adapted/healthified from my school’s coffee house’s recipe)
Makes two to three dozen

3 cups rolled oats
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
zest of one lemon
1 cup sugar
2 bananas
1/4 cup Earth Balance
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup roasted almond slivers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the oats, flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. In an electric mixer, combine the sugar, banana, EB, lemon juice, and lemon zest and mix well. Gradually add the dry ingredients, finishing with the cranberries and almonds. Form cookies into small balls and slightly flatten on a lightly greased baking tray (they won’t spread much at all). Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the tops turn golden brown (they’ll firm up a lot on the tray, so don’t overbake them!)

Fat-Free Blueberry-Banana Bread

This is just a little teaser to hold you over until later when you can see what I’m making for dinner tonight! So consider it an appetizer. Who says banana bread can’t be an appetizer?

As you might guess from the post title, this Blueberry-Banana Bread is from the FatFree Vegan Kitchen blog! The recipe’s ridiculously simple and health, sticking to the happy minimum of ingredients so the bananas and blueberries – which I’ve recently started calling “bluebies” because it’s easier to say, is that weird? – can really hold their own.

I followed the recipe, but added a pinch of cinnamon, because, um, blueberries + bananas – cinnamon = error. This bread rose wonderfully and had a great moist texture that we all loved. Being so mildly sweet and healthful, it’s definitely a great breakfast bread. Especially during the summer when all you want to eat is carton after carton of bluebies!

How can you resist whole-wheat, fat-free, agave-based baked goods? Don’t try to answer that.

Now, if only I could eat a hunk the size of my head without worrying that my tummy would protest…

It’s Summer! Smoothie, Salads, No-Bake Cookies, and Watermelon

First, I’m glad so many of you have entered the giveaway from my last post, and you have a few more days to enter if you haven’t yet! I know you want some fruit & nut bars…

I’m not fully back to normal yet, but my mom suggested I go back to eating more or less the way I normally do, so that’s what I’ve been doing!

For breakfast yesterday following a short 3-mile run, I had a Triple Blueberry Smoothie! A cup of frozen blueberries blended with a bottle of Wildwood Probiotic Blueberry Soymilk and some psyllium husk, topped with cinnamon and some dried blueberries. Obviously hoping to rev my digestion with the probiotics and psyllium!

Getting sick of this bowl yet? The probiotic soymilk was good–a slightly strong and funky soy taste, but most of Wildwood’s products are like that, and blended with the blueberries, it was perfect.

For lunch I had my first large mostly raw salad in a couple weeks! (I’d been eating a lot of steamed veggies and whole grains). It included mixed greens, romaine lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, and some Hickory Baked Tofu (from Whole Foods). I topped it with Creamy Miso Salad Dressing from The Vegan Table and some sesame seeds!

The dressing recipe is super simple with four ingredients–just miso, rice vinegar, olive/sesame oil, and water if I remember correctly. I thought it was a bit salty, so I added 1/3 block of silken tofu, some extra water for blendability, and a squirt of agave because I thought it needed something special. I liked it a lot better after that (I’ve done the silken tofu dressing trick before–it decreases the calories per serving and makes dressings decadently, lusciously creamy).

I also made Swallow-It-All Banana Balls from The Everyday Vegan. Okay, I love Dreena, but I can’t believe she named them that! There are so many sexual innuendos in the name of this recipe, it’s ridiculous! I bet my blog will come up for naughty Google searches now.

Anyways, regardless of their unfortunate title, these no-bake cookies are as tasty as they are wholesome, and the perfect treat for summer. With no added sugar or salt, these balls simply contain bananas, minced apple, dates, peanut butter, coconut, oats, cereal (I used Flax Plus), and flax meal. They’re then rolled in carob powder and more coconut. I love poppin’ a couple of these before I run. They’re just sweet enough from the dates and definitely nutritionally dense enough to be a pre (or post) -workout snack. Nice and chewy too! You’ll swallow them all! Haha.

This morning I ran 7 miles! I know it’s not that much, but it’s the longest run I‘ve ever done. Plus, it was 90 degrees! My friend told me that you can generally run double the distance you’re currently running, so I can stop training now, right? 7 x 2 = 14 > 13.1. Amen.

Anyways, when I got back (and jumped in the pool, obviously!), all I wanted was a huge a** chunk of ice cold, refreshing watermelon:

I had my last couple pieces with cracked black pepper because, if people can put salt on watermelon, then I can put pepper! It was a nice contrast with the intense sweetness of the watermelon.

Lunch today was simple, yet wonderful. I had roasted sweet potato wedges and hickory baked tofu over a fluffy bed of kamut grain and baby spinach. I topped it with some dried cranberries and a couple tablespoons of some leftover Balsamic Maple Sauce from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan I had sitting in the fridge (this is maybe the best sauce in the world, by the way. Tangy, sweet, and salty all at once without being overpowering–GREAT with roasted veggies and autumn flavors).

The sweet taters are just lightly sprayed with olive oil, drizzled with maple syrup, and coated in chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, sea salt, and black pepper, and roasted for 30 minutes at 400 degrees, flipping halfway through. I could eat this all day, everyday! Next time I’m adding some onions and maybe some toasted pecans!

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.