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At some point in your life you have enjoyed a “taste test” bite of some sort of cookie dough batter.  I will fess up and  admit that I am one of those people who has absolutely finished off half a “roll” of the pre-made cookie dough.  Yes, I know I could have gotten sick.  “The raw eggs and all that sugar!” I can guarantee you that was the very last thing on my mind at the time.   What I was thinking was how ridiculously delicious it was and how I wished I could eat the whole thing and not feel (or look) like a hippo.  The worst part (and you all know this) is how guilty you feel right after… which is why we mostly do it in secret.  You, the cookie dough, a dark room, maybe a sad movie or soundtrack (come on people, it’s not like we take on a pound of cookie dough when we are feeling our best.)

Enough of that.  I am here with fabulous news!  I have made and devoured two ridiculously yummy recipes where eating the cookie dough is encouraged in one and part of the end result in the other! Now you can eat it without  worrying about getting sick…. or hippo-ish (unless you don’t share or make these everyday, then we may have a problem.)

The first recipe is from Chloe Coscarelli, who is one of my favorite vegan chefs.  Her recipes are not only easy to follow, but I have yet to make something I wasn’t a huge fan of.

Her  Vegan Cookie Dough Truffles are out of this world.  Everyone will love them and you definitely don’t miss the eggs or butter. (The photo below is from Chloe’s website.  I may or may not have eaten the batch I made before I got the chance to snap away.)

Next up, is Chocolate Covered Katie’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Mini-Muffins. Bite sized amazingness. The best part? They are made with garbanzo beans (don’t be scared) and other friendly ingredients like applesauce and quick oats. One change I would suggest is to use something other than vegetable oil.  Try canola or coconut oil instead. Either way you need to make these now.

Before

After

Vegan Swap-o-licious

As most of you are aware, I love to (grocery) shop.  I could spend hours walking up and down the food filled aisles dreaming up recipes galore.  Some most people may consider this abnormal, but I stand by my affectionate feelings of cart pushing and list making.

Upon hearing this information, it will come as no surprise when I tell you how eager I was to participate in the vegan food swap, hosted by Cat from The Verdant Life. Each month you are assigned a new food “pen pal” to send goodies to and another buddy to receive vegan treats from.

Eli, from Get Your Vegan On sent me some really great items this month.  She has been on an “almost raw” kick lately so I was happy to try out some new (raw) things!

*Brad’s Raw Chips-Sun-Dried Tomato (YUM! It was love at first sight.  A great snack to have on hand when you want something crunchy, but don’t want to eat an entire bag of chips—not like that every happens.)

*Go Raw-Banana Bread Flax Bar (What a treat and gluten, nut, and wheat free!)

*Love Force-Goji Lemon Bar (I haven’t tried this yet, but I am sure it will be delicious.)

*Hail Merry-Macaroons (One of my favorite desserts and the company name is fantastic)

This is my second time participating and I am totally hooked.  Click here to join in on the fun.  Seriously, it’s what all the cool kids are doing.

Pass the Plentils

I am a (constant) snacker. Actually, I often wonder if I have a tapeworm problem because there is rarely a time when I am not ready  and willing to eat. Even after a large meal, 9 times out of 10 I have plenty of space for something sweet.  When asked by a waiter/waitress if I would like to see the dessert menu, I often say (if I am with a group of people who clearly are not planning on continuing on with their meal) “I am all set, thank you” when I really mean “Can I try them all?”

For all of my fellow snack happy people out there I have found quite possibly one of the best tasting, vegan friendly chips around.

Enjoy Life has impressed me with yet another amazing product.  As a matter of fact I just ate 2 (or 4) handfuls.  What? I’m “taste testing” to make sure the review is accurate.

How is that possible you ask?

Plentils logo

Enter Plentils. Your new favorite chip.  Yep, I decided for you, I hope you don’t mind.

These “better-for-you” chips are crispy and packed with deliciousness.

Still not convinced to run out and buy your own bag?  Keep reading.

What if I told you they have 40% less fat than the leading potato chip,  that they contain no artificial ingredients and are free of wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, soy, and fish.  Ready now?

The best part, they come in four amazingly flavors: light sea salt, garlic and parmesan (yep, parmesan taste without the cheese=pure genius), margherita pizza, and dill & sour cream (sans actual sour cream).

Their perfectly shaped for scooping up hummus, salsa and guacamole. Check out this Avocado Fries recipe from Enjoy Life that uses the Plentils to add a yummy crunchy coating.

Find out where to buy Enjoy Life products.  You can even get coupons here.

Side note: (I got engaged a little over a week ago… insert loud cheering, high fives and the infamous “When/Where are you getting married?” even though it’s only been 3 days questions)

Spectacular Speculoos Spread…. Say that 10x fast!

Caramelized gingerbread cookies made  into a creamy delicious spread. True Story.

Why it took me this long to discover this jar of perfection is beyond me, but I am so glad it is now in my life (and belly).

This “peanut butter alternative”  is all-natural, vegan, free of nuts, preservatives, coloring and additives, oh and did I mention it’s ridiculously tasty?

When I say you can put this on anything I mean it.  Your options are endless. This is totally a situation where you would even consider eating something you don’t like if it were covered in this spread.

Some of my favorite options:

  • Pretzels
  • Mix into any hot cereal
  • Apples
  • Banana
  • Cookies (for even more cookie-ness)
  • Celery
  • Toasted Whole Wheat Bread
I came across some fabulous recipes on their site and veganized them!
Speculoos Oatmeal Pancakes
What you need: 
  • 1/4 cup SPECULOOS Spread
  • 1/2 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer plus 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance, melted
  • 3/4 cup non-dairy milk
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Blueberries, sliced bananas or strawberries (optional)
How to make: 
  1. Whisk together SPECULOOS Spread, egg substitute, and butter in a large bowl.
  2. Gradually whisk in non-dairy milk. Combine oats, flour, baking powder and salt. Add to milk mixture whisking just until dry ingredients are moistened.
  3. Lightly butter or grease a griddle or large non stick skillet. Place over medium heat until hot and drop of water sizzles. Drop batter by scant 1/4 cupfuls (about 3 tablespoons for each pancake) onto hot griddle. Cook until bubbles form and pancakes are golden brown on bottom. Turn; continue cooking 1 minute or golden brown.
  4. Serve topped with fruit if desired and drizzle SPECULOOS syrup over pancakes. Makes 4 servings (twelve 3-inch pancakes)
Rice Crispy Treats with Speculoos Spread
What you need: 
  • 3 Tablespoons Earth Balance
  • 1/3 cup of SPECULOOS Spread
  • One 10 oz. package or about 40 regular marshmallows or 4 cups of miniature marshmallows (try Sweet & Sara brand vegan marshmallows)
  • 6 Cups rice crispy cereal
How to make: 
  1. Melt butter and SPECULOOS Spread in large non stick saucepan over low heat.
  2. Add marshmallow and stir until completely melted. Mix in rice crispy cereal, stir until well coated.
  3. Spread the mixture evenly using a well-greased spatula into a 13x9x2-inch pan coated with cooking spray (or line with parchment paper).
  4. Cut into squares when cool.

I made my chocolate pudding pie for Easter and replaced the peanut butter with Speculoos Spread in my pretzel crust recipe! Wowza!

Fun Fact from their website: Speculoos spread concept started in Holland in the late 90’s however it gained its popularity in Belgium 2008 during a game show called “the Inventors” where a contestant displayed the idea of using the caramelized gingerbread cookie as a spread.

Like them on facebook and follow on twitter!

Order your own jar of Speculoos online.  They will take 20% off your purchase of $20 or more.  Hurry because this deal ends April 30th!

Nuts for Not Nuts!

Trail mix without the nuts? That’s nuts!

Actually it’s Enjoy Life’s not nuts!™ Seed and Fruit Mix.

I recently sampled both varieties, Beach Bash (a yummy blend of sunflower kernels, pumpkin seeds, dried pineapple, apricots and cranberries) and Mountain Mambo (packed with sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), fruit and chocolate chips) and was totally hooked after the first spoonful handful.

This is the perfect snack for kid’s lunches (especially if your child is allergic to nuts or their school is a nut-free zone) or before or after a workout. I love how convenient the packaging is and a little added adorable factor… the bar codes are shaped like different fruits.  It’s the little things in life.

Enjoy Life makes some of my favorite products! I used their Crunchy Cookies in my Mousse Filled Cookie Crust recipe and their Mega Chocolate Chunks for a Pumpkin Chocolate (Chunk) Bread Pudding.

They have introduced a brand new… drumroll please… “chip with benefits!”  Plentils!

Why you ask?

What makes this great-tasting snack so unique? From ancient times to the present, the lentil has proven to be one of the best sources of plant-based protein. This legume is a staple in diets throughout the world, but leave it to Enjoy Life to capture the essence of its all-natural goodness. This chip’s unique recipe results in a protein-packed, crunchy experience, bursting with flavor as you savor a great-tasting “better-for-you” chip.

They come in light sea salt, margherita pizza, garlic & parmesan and dill & sour cream. Like all Enjoy Life products they are gluten-free and allergy-friendly (free of wheat, diary, peanut, tree nut, egg, soy, fish, and shellfish). Plentils are also have 40% less fat than the leading potato chip, which is perfect considering the fact that I may just have to eat the whole bag, to make sure they are all delicious of course.

They pride themselves (and they should) on the fact that nothing they make is artificial or contains trans fats or genetically modified (GMO) ingredients.

Want to pick up your own bag of not nuts!™ Seed and Fruit Mix or other Enjoy Life goodies?  You can find cookies, chewy bars, Boom Choco Boom Bars, baking chocolate, cereal and granola! Search for store locations near you.

Those chips will be mine!!!

Dry-Fry is My New BFF.

Can you imagine a world where you can fry things without using oil and (creepy) deep fryers? (Side note: I will admit I wouldn’t  turn down a fried treat, after all I’m from New Jersey– in case you don’t know we fry things everything “down the shore.”)

Well my friends, we have made one step towards this perfect world.  Dry-Fry Tofu.  I know. Some of you are really disappointed right now, as I know not everyone is a huge fan of bean curd.  I however am, so this new (to me at least) phenomenon of dry frying was fantastic news to my ears. All to many times I have tried to bake, saute, and stir-fry tofu, and although it comes out decent, the texture is not always my favorite.  This is where the dry-fry (it’s fun to say and type) comes in.

Try it for yourself and let me know what you think!

What you Need:

  • Extra Firm Tofu (as much as you want to make)
  • A cast-iron skillet (necessity in the kitchen anyway so you may as well go get yourself one)
  • Marinade of your choice (for after if you want to soak it for a few hours before using in a recipe)

How to Dry-Fry

  1. Drain the water from your container of tofu and cut into 1/2 inch thick triangles.
  2. Wrap the tofu pieces in a dish towel and press down (gently–just enough to get most of the water out, but not enough to break it up.)
  3. Heat the skillet low to medium low. NO OIL.
  4. Add the tofu to the pan, don’t crowd them too close together. You may need to do a few rounds of the dry-frying. As the tofu cooks, use a spatula to press down (often) on each piece of tofu.  Notice the water coming out the bottom and sizzling in the pan (exciting!)  Once one side has become firm and started to brown a bit, flip it over and do the same on the other side.
  5. Place your dry-fried tofu in a marinade of your choice–it will soak it right up!
BEFORE

AFTER

*I am currently dealing with a stomach bug and I added some brown rice and dry-fried tofu with vegetable broth.  Not hungry (which NEVER happens), but it’s helping in the energy department.

Basket O’ Vegan(ness)

A few weekends ago Babs and I attended the New York Veg Fest.  A perfect day filled with taste testing some delicious samples and chatting with fabulous people. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I won a basket full of goodies from Vegan Cuts (think Groupon for vegan products)!

*Here is a picture of the Vegan Cuts team including John and Jill (right) the founders at the NYC Veg Fest. I won the basket under their banner!

My goodies:
  • Alive & Radiant Foods Kale Krunch (Southwest Ranch Flavor): I almost ate the entire bag in one sitting as you can see from the picture. Notice the missing chips.
  • Soy Go: I don’t drink coffee so I haven’t had a chance to test this out yet, but this is a perfect vegan creamer for those morning beverage drinkers.
  • Namaste Inc: Wallet/Purse: I was super exciting to open up this box (obviously).  All of their  bags are made of durable, animal friendly and easy to clean materials. I have to say it is nice to know that no animals were hurt in the making of this wonderful fashion accessory.
Photo of the Skinny Mini
  • Kaeng Raeng:  Only a few days before winning this basket I had decided to try out the 3 day detox and was about to go online to purchase it. The detox is “an all natural meal replacement designed to help you lose weight, remove toxins, bolster your immune system, and improve digestive health.” Has anyone done this before? Would love to hear your story. I’m just getting over a stomach bug so I am going to wait a few days before diving in.
  • Nicobella Truffles: Who wouldn’t smile (like the Cheshire Cat) at this picture? When I opened the box and saw the beautiful truffles it took every ounce of self-restraint (which, let’s be honest, I have none) to not eat all of them at once. They use oat milk and coconut oil instead of cream and butter and add in blueberries, green tea, ginger and pumpkin to make them even more deliciously healthy!  These bite sized treats are also lower in sugar so you won’t have to deal with those ups and downs from eating too many sweets. The best part… they are only 46-65 calories each!
Nico
  • Wembe Soap: I could spend hours on their website looking at the soaps. This may be weird and I wouldn’t actually do it, but some of them look good enough to eat (yes I said it, but you were thinking it too!) They use organic, locally grown plants from Paraguay and none of their products contain silicone, petroleum products, parabens, sulfates, phenoxythanol (I don’t even know what this is, but I’m glad it’s not in my soap), polyethylene glycol (say what?), synthetic fragrances or dyes.  They are ALL vegan and gluten and cruelty free!
  • Moxie Organix Shimmer Lotion: The glass bottle and beautiful label alone was enough to impress me. Yet another website I could spend my time admiring the amazing products. Ready to be impressed? All of these products are made by hand and nothing is mass-produced so they don’t just sit around waiting to be purchased.  You can find something for everyone in your family… the men and children in your life too!
  • Vitashine D3 Spray: Most of us are lacking (deficient) in the Vitamin D department, especially if you don’t live in a year round sunny state.   We just don’t get enough sun to obtain the level of the vitamin that we should. Enter Vitashine D3 Spray. This is the only Vegetarian and Vegan Society registered Vitamin D3 and it is available in soft capsules and the spray. Many people benefit from taking a Vitamin D supplement.
Vitashine Vegan Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)
  • MuLondon Natural Organics Skin Care White Chocolate Truffle Moisturizer: The smell is out of this world.  Another product I could almost eat… but not. It may be a tiny jar, but a little goes a very long way.  You can use it on your face, hands, feet, tummy, and “bum” (as they say in London). My skin feels amazing and its nice to know it is made by hand, registered by The Vegan Society and PETA, contains no animal ingredients and is never tested on animals.  Just look at how simple the ingredients are: Vitellaria Paradoxa (Shea Butter)*, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut Butter)*, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba Oil)*, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary Extract)*, Vanilla Planifolia (Vanilla Extract)*, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa Extract)
Organic White Chocolate Truffle Moisturiser
  • Bello Iris Wallet: “Where Fashion Meets Compassion” What a great slogan for a company that offers designer inspired bags, shoes, clothes and accessories without the high prices and animal cruelty.  They never use any real leather, fur or other animal products. Exploring their site is super fun and easy to find what you are looking for (like jackets, shirts, pants, accessories, swimwear, shoes and lingerie).  You can shop by trend, style, size, color, and price. I MUST get my hands on one of these handbags soon!
                             

 Back to the Roots was founded by Alejandro Velez & Nikhil Arora during their last semester at UC Berkeley in 2009. Two months away from graduation, and heading into the corporate world of investment banking & consulting, they came across the idea during a class lecture of being able to potentially grow gourmet mushrooms entirely on recycled coffee grounds. Inspired by the idea of turning waste into wages & fresh, local food, they experimented in Alex’s fraternity kitchen, ultimately growing one test bucket of tasty oyster mushrooms on recycled coffee grounds. With that one bucket, some initial interest from Whole Foods & Chez Panisse and a $5,000 grant from the UC Berkeley Chancellor for social innovation, they decided to forget the corporate route, and instead, become full-time urban mushroom farmers!  Inspired by the idea of producing local, fresh food from what was an urban waste stream, Back to the Roots has since grown to create the Grow-Your-Own Mushroom Garden which lets anyone, across the country, grow their own gourmet mushrooms at home as well!

I am over the moon excited to grow my very own gourmet mushrooms and share the recipes I come up with using them! roots_infograph_elefint
  • Cavewoman Bars:  These are so yummy and made with simple raw ingredients. My favorite was the baklava flavored one which contains organic dates, walnuts, pistachios, almonds and spices –that’s it!  They are Vegan, Soy-Free, Gluten-Free and Refined Sugar-Free and each one is made by hand (I am noticing a theme here) and can be purchased online!
Baklava - Raw
  • Compassion Co.: Some of the best pins and (ultra soft organic cotton) t-shirts around! A Vegan owned and operated company that donates 5% of every sale to an organization that supports animal rights and a cruelty free lifestyle. See some of their fabulous stuff below:
Image of Go Vegan ButtonImage of Cruelty Free Image of Vegan - Women's - Black
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