vegan

It’s Been Awhile

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I haven’t blogged in months. I started this blog as a way to share my interests and passions, namely veganism and cooking. And then of course life caught up with me when I started back at school. There was so much to do and as a literature major (constantly writing) I didn’t really have the energy when it came to blogging. I also started to face a lot of resistance on Facebook against my vegan lifestyle and it left me in a state of disheartenment. I’ve never considered looked back when I transitioned to veganism, but that’s not to say it hasn’t been lonely or without its struggles.

Part of being vegan is facing resistance. More often than not people will disagree with you. Being deeply passionate about something makes people uncomfortable, especially when your choosing not to be a part of a socially sanctioned industry.

Sometimes it’s important to step back and get back in touch with yourself, to remember why you choose to be vegan. I realized that constantly arguing against people on the internet will not make as big as an impact as choosing to live a life of love and positivity. I also realized that I shouldn’t let people with so little investment in me consume so much of my daily thoughts.

At its core veganism is about love. It’s about choosing to live a life with as little impact on others as possible. In today’s world there is no reason to continue taking animals lives for our appetite. There are resources to thousands of other foods that are nourishing and sustaining. If we continue to rely on animal agriculture we are doing so simply for palate.

The simple truth is animal agriculture is destroying our planet. That’s not arguable, it’s obvious.

When I’m challenged and put down for pursuing a sustainable lifestyle rooted in compassion, it definitely hurts. I know that coming to realize the truth about the food industry is a process that people reach at different times and one’s experience with it is shaped by their location, upbringing, and values, but it’s important to open our hearts and listen.

Just because we’ve been doing something for a long time doesn’t make it right. We can change. We can choose love. “Peace begins on our plate.”

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Tumeric Spiced Hummus Recipe

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So I’m almost a month into my summer vacation and I’ve got to say it’s so nice to be home. It’s nice not having assignments/reading for class to do. It’s nice being home with family and friends. And it’s so nice to have access to a full kitchen!

My mom and I have been cooking and baking a lot this summer and having so much fun working our way through some cookbooks! ImageImageI usually don’t buy cookbooks because it’s SO easy to find recipes online and I’ve gotten fairly good at improvising when it comes to cooking. However I’ve been following Angela’s Blog Oh She Glows for years and so when her cookbook came out I just had to have it. She’s one of the first bloggers I followed when I got into the vegan lifestyle.

Isa’s recipes are all so simple and delicious and great for my omnivore friends!

This morning I made Angela’s Glo Bars as well as her Marinated Mushrooms.

ImageImageImageThese were fairly simple and they actually stayed together! I’ve made granola bars in the past but they just crumble, so I was so happy these worked out. I’m going to send a couple to work with my dad.

The mushrooms were also easy! ImageImageImageThey’re now marinating in the fridge and I can’t wait to try them. I was one of those kids that hated mushrooms, but in the last few years I’ve come to love them! I always keep them on hand and throw them in any dish I can. Maybe my tastebuds have changed a bit since my diet changed, but mushrooms are awesome and a nutritional powerhouse.

I also recently made Tumeric Spiced Hummus on a whim. Hummus is a serious staple for me. I’ve been known to eat a spoonful straight from the container. Haha!

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Tumeric Spiced Hummus

2 cans chickpeas with liquid reserved

1/3 cup tahini

1 tsp tumeric

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 tsp hot sauce

1/2 tsp sea salt

1-2 tbsp lemon juice

Steps

1) Combine all ingredients, using 1/4 cup of reserved liquid, in a food processor and mix until well combined. If the mixture is too thick add a little more reserved liquid.

2) Store in airtight container in fridge for up to 10 days.

My favorite ways to eat hummus lately have been with veggiesImage

On toast and with crackers! Enjoy!

Blueberry Almond Coconut Granola

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Granola is one of those things that goes fast in our house. My parents love to snack on it and it makes a great breakfast with some fresh fruit and non dairy milk or yogurt. It’s so easy to make yourself so I hardly ever buy it. It’s also super fun to experiment with and make variations of. 

When we started to run low I looked in the fridge and saw that our pure organic whole blueberry jam was running low and thus the Blueberry Almond Coconut Granola was born. 😉 

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Ingredients: 

1 1/2 cup gluten free rolled oats

1/2 cup sunflower seeds 

1/4 cup almonds

1/4 cup buckwheat groats

2 tbsp chia seeds

2 tbsp blueberry flax seed mix from Trader Joe’s 

2 tbsp amaranth

1/4 cup dried blueberries

1/4 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup shredded coconut

1/3 cup brown rice syrup

2 tbsp melted coconut oil

1 tbsp coconut sugar

2 tbsp almond butter

1 large spoonful whole fruit blueberry jam

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

Steps: 

Preheat oven to 400. 

1) Mix all dry ingredients including spices. Then add in brown rice syrup, oil, almond butter, jam, and vanilla. Mix well! 

2) Spread out on silicone lined baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Watch carefully so it doesn’t burn. 

3) Let cool and then store in airtight container. ImageImage

The Ultimate Vegan Cookie

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Now I don’t say this lightly. These cookies are seriously good. They stay soft and buttery and magical even after cooling.Of course they are cookies so there aren’t really any health benefits to eating them, but there are mental health benefits. Give yourself a break! Enjoy a cookie.

The reason I started making these was for a get together with friends. I wanted a vegan dessert that would impress and so I turned to the Internet. I typed Best Vegan Cookie Recipe into the search bar and of course about 5 million popped up. After browsing through a few I had a general idea of what direction to follow and then I adapted it for my own purposes.

To say these were a success would be an understatement because people loved them! They couldn’t believe they were vegan and my dad even requested some to take to work to share. So after the response I just had to share the recipe.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Coconut Cookie

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup coconut oil (solid)

1 cup brown sugar(could sub coconut sugar but I haven’t tested it yet)

1/3 cup coconut milk unsweetened

1 tbsp vanilla

1 cup organic unbleached white flour

1 cup spelt flour (if you don’t have spelt flour I would recommend using 2 cups of regular flour, wheat flour might alter the taste)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup semi sweet vegan chocolate chips

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup shredded coconut

Steps:

Preheat oven to 350.

1) Cream oil and sugar together

2) Add in coconut milk and vanilla and mix well

3) Sift together dry ingredients and slowly add to wet ingredients while mixing.

4) After mixed well, add in peanut butter and mix again.

5) Fold in chocolate chips and coconut.

6) Mixture will be crumbly! Thats ok. Scoop out a spoonful of dough and roll together so it sticks together. I squeezed it in my palm and then rolled it together. Place on silicone lined baking sheet and flatten a little with palm. Place in oven and bake for about 8-12 minutes.

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I actually made two batches. One with just chocolate chips-No PB or coconut and one with.

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They are easy and super delicious. Not too healthy but a good dessert to bring to parties! Enjoy.

Amy’s Vegan Food Review

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Well. I’m finally back! I will be posting a lot more this summer, but the last two weeks have involved finals, my younger brother’s high school graduation and graduation party, and move-out. It’s been non-stop working and I’m definitely ready to enjoy my summer. 

I also wanted to share some foods that have definitely helped me get through these busy times. Amy’s foods! Amy’s makes vegetarian/vegan foods for those times you’re too busy to cook. I love that they’re widely available and affordable allowing individuals that see a veg lifestyle as expensive and out of reach to see that they can in fact afford to eat a cruelty free diet. They make everything from frozen entrees to soups to desserts. 

Amy’s is also passionate about non-GMO foods and chooses organic produce! They were passionate backers of Prop 37: Consumers Right to know and support labeling GMO foods! 

My only concern about buying pre-made meals is they are usually heavy on sodium, but Amy’s offers many low sodium dishes and soups and offers different foods for all allergy concerns. They have many gluten-free products as well!  

I tried they’re Gluten Free Bean and Rice Burrito after coming back from a long day of classes (I Love that they’re products are sold on my campus UCSC) 

ImageImageThe tortilla was awesome (unlike some gluten free tortillas I’ve had) and it was delicious! They’re relatively low calorie (less than 300) and make a great main dish. Delicious along with some steamed broccoli and fresh fruit. It takes less than 5 minutes to get ready and heats up wonderfully! I would definitely keep my freezer stocked with these during the school year. The beans also give it a boost of protein, and paired with the rice, makes for a tasty filling entree. 

I also sampled their tofu scramble pocket sandwich for breakfast one morning before heading out to a lecture. ImageImageI topped it with some organic salsa and avocado after the picture. It was delicious! I loved the mix with the shiitake mushrooms and peppers. My only complaint was that it was kind of small and left me hungry afterwards. That was quickly remedied by grabbing a piece of fruit, so this would be good to eat along with something else. It’s also low sodium and relatively low calorie (around 180). 

Lastly, I tried they’re Light and Lean Butternut squash, black bean bowl. ImageImageI love this bowl and have actually had it a few times from Amy’s! It has 10g of vegan protein and is a great, warm but light dish after a long day. I love that it’s low sodium and you can easily pop it in the microwave when you’re too lazy (or tired) to cook. 

They make no brainer easy go-to meals for vegans, which are really not widely available. I wish more companies would follow in Amy’s path and leap on the veg train. I know a few of my friends have tried more vegan dishes after sampling Amy’s vegan meals.Along with my non-vegan parents! They always stay stocked up on amy’s soups.  SO a big thank you to Amy’s for that!! 

Though I still love cooking and preparing my own meals it’s always great to keep a few things like this in my freezer for those off days.  Check out Amy’s at their website : Amy’s Foods

Banana Nut Coconut Chocolate Chip Muffins

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My baking hobby started around sophomore year of high school. I loved the science of it. Varying ratios of basic ingredients could yield something absolutely tasty. 

My life had gone a bit hectic around that time. My Gram had come to live with us because she was battling Alzheimer’s and dementia and I was sharing my room with her. Over the 6 months I shared a room with her (before the addition was built onto our house for her to live in) we became very close. 

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(My first picture with Gram) 

My Gram isn’t your average grandmother. At 80 she was still running around, playing golf, and could debate with the best of them. She is very spirited and not afraid to speak her mind to anyone. Of course this spirited personality also made her battle with dementia harder. It was hard for her to accept her illness and so our family had many up and down days. Image

I turned to baking. Maybe it’s because it was something I could control, that I could ensure would turn out right. Muffins, cookies, breads…It was something I could make that would bring joy to people. 

I’ve had baking fails and successes over the years, but my little hobby has become a passion. I find joy in experimenting with different ingredients and love sharing recipes with friends and family. Especially now that I’m vegan. I love showing people that their old favorites can be made without eggs, dairy, butter (cruelty-free 🙂 ) 

So without further ado: 

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Banana Nut Coconut Chocolate Chip Muffins

(makes 12-14 depending on batter distribution

  • 3 very ripe small-medium bananas
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 tbsp ground flax
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup vegan dark chocolate chips 

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a muffin pan.
  2. Mash bananas and add in applesauce, flax, oil, coconut milk, and vanilla. Stir until well combined. 
  3. Sift in flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and coconut sugar. Mix well.
  4. Toss in walnuts, coconut, and chocolate chips. Combine until mixed throughout and divide batter evenly amongst muffin pan. 
  5. Bake in oven for about 15 minutes. Should be golden on the outside. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan. ImageImage

Perfect on the go food. Make sure to store in airtight container after removing from pan. 

Hope you enjoy! If you do make them let me know how the recipe worked out for you. 

Berkeley Adventures

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Yesterday my mom picked me up from school to head home for my little brother’s 18th birthday! (ok so maybe he’s not so little anymore, but he’ll always be my little brother)

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Picture from 1998

We headed to Berkeley with the plan of picking up some vegan cinnamon rolls from Cinnaholic. They’ve been on my list of places to go for a couple years and so I was super excited, but before we headed there we stopped and got lunch at Herbivore: Earthly Grill. Another vegan restaurant on my must-go list. 

Their menu was overwhelming! So many choices! My mom and I probably took at least 20 minutes to finally decide on what we wanted to order. Since it was a Sunday they were serving brunch until 2 so I ended up going with a brunch item despite they’re outrageously delicious sounding lunch/dinner menu. (check out the menu here: http://www.herbivorerestaurant.com/Main_menu.pdf

We also shared their ginger ale made with fresh ginger, raw agave, lemon and lime juice and sparkling water! Yum! The fresh ginger gave it a nice spice and the agave balanced it out without being too sweet. 

I ordered their Southwestern Tofu Scramble (admittedly after eyeing a few neighboring tables who ordered the same thing). ImageTofu Scramble, Chipotle salsa, Guac, House Potatoes, Black Beans and sour cream (they use Daiya products). 

It was phenomenal. The Guac was awesome and had large chunks of avocado. The potatoes were amazing! Slightly spicy with a toasty deliciousness. The salsa and tofu scramble were both excellent and packed with flavor. 

It also came with vegan blueberry cornbread. ImageYup. So good. It was a surprisingly delicious addition. I need this recipe. 

After we left with full stomachs we agreed that we definitely need to come back and try more of their extensive menu. I wish there was one in Santa Cruz. Insanely good, approachable vegan food. 

Then it was time to stop by Cinnaholic! 

ImageImageThere were so many flavors of icing and toppings I was overwhelmed. It was SO hard to pick! Thankfully the cashier was super helpful and suggested good/ popular combos. Since my brother is a huge Oreo fan we got him a traditional vanilla with oreo topping. And since it was his birthday another one with pb frosting and brownie chunk toppings, and a roll with banana frosting and blueberries. 

I went for a almond frosting and raspberries combo. ImageImageI don’t find many vegan baked goods near me so I was excited. 

However, in all honesty I still battle disordered thoughts. I think I put way more thought into eating this cinnamon roll than most people put into eating foods. i kept feeling the need to justify eating an unhealthy treat. Vegan or not. But I pushed those thoughts aside and fully enjoyed it as breakfast with my family this morning. 

Worth every bite. These seriously live up to the hype. Gooey and warm. Sweet but not too sweet. The almond raspberry combo was delicious! 

When I go back in the future I want to try one with blackberry frosting. Sounds so good! 

As you can tell my brother also enjoyed his: ImageAnd no he didn’t eat all 3 at once. Haha! 

Even though he’s reluctant to admit enjoying vegan foods (yup. he’s “one of those” lol) he did love it. 

We also got the chance to visit the Republic of V (new all vegan grocery store in Berkeley, CA) and Lush Cosmetics. ImageImageImage

These were some of my vegan goodies I picked up on our day adventures. I’m finally trying out a dry shampoo bar from Lush after hearing great things! I also picked up some charity pot lotion, which feels amazing on my skin. It makes my skin super soft and smooth and feels awesome. It also smells great without fragrances and artificial ingredients. I picked up some tahini on sale at Republic of V and superfood fudge spread after sampling it at the store. So good! I’m thinking it will be delicious with some fresh fruit. Image

 

I also picked up a new Hurraw chapstick (I love their chapstick)! The grapefruit smells awesome. I already love it! And a very cute vegan pin to add to my backpack pin collection. ImageIt was an awesome day! I definitely see another Berkeley trip in the near future!