28 January 2013

RECIPE: Chocolate Lover's Smoothie

This smoothie, which, in all fairness, should be dubbed a "milkshake" due to its decadence, is so yummy I had it two days in a row.  Tomorrow will make it three, most likely, and Wednesday, four, and, well...you get the idea.  It's good.

The first time I made it without cacao powder.  It was delicious but the addition of cacao powder makes it all the more wonderful.  Not to mention, cacao powder is an excellent source of fiber, antioxidants and a bucket list of other good things, branding it a nutritional "Superfood."  So in it went.  No guilt.

Hope you enjoy!

- 1/2 c. flavored coffee (regular will suffice buuuuuuttttttt...)
- 1/2 c. cashew milk (again, any non dairy milk will work but I like cashew milk for its creaminess!)
- 1 date, roughly chopped
- 1 T. ground flax seed
- 1 T. cacao powder
- 1 tsp. lucuma powder
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. coconut oil
- 1.5 frozen bananas
- 3-4 ice coconut water ice cubes (I wanted to make use of the coconut water in my fridge that I was not going to be able to drink before its expiration date but regular ice cubes would TOTALLY suffice)
- 1 T. cacao nibs plus extra for garnish
-  Shredded coconut

1.  Place all ingredients, except for cacao nibs and coconut, in high-speed blender in the order listed and blend for 20 seconds.
2.  Add 1 T. cacao nibs and blend on low for just a couple seconds so that they are just incorporated.
3.  Pour milkshake...err smoothie (It sounds healthier)...into a glass.  Garnish with some shredded coconut and cacao nibs and enjoy!

RECIPE: Carrot Cake Pops

Sorry I have been so absent these past few days!  I am excited to share my recent creative endeavor (actually, one of many creative endeavors as of late).  Vegan Carrot Cake Pops!

- 2 T. ground flax seed
- 1/2 c. applesauce (preferably organic)
- 1 c. brown sugar
- 1/2 c. coconut cream (refrigerate a can of coconut milk overnight and skim off top layer)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 c. + whole wheat flour*
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- Scant 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3-4 large carrots, finely shredded (apx. 2 heaping cups)
- 1 can crushed pineapple (preferably organic), thoroughly drained
- 1/2 c. raisins, heaping
- 1/2 c. toasted walnuts
- Unsweetened, shredded coconut or crushed walnuts, for rolling
-  1 HEAPING c. vegan cream cheese frosting
*Gluten-Free Option:  Sub out whole wheat flour for your favorite G-F blend and add 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum.

1.  Preheat oven to 350' F.  Grease a jelly roll pan (or baking sheet) with 1/2 tsp. coconut oil.
2.  Mix the flax seed and applesauce together in a small dish and set aside.  Meanwhile, mix brown sugar, coconut cream and vanilla together in a large bowl (mixing by hand will work fine!).  Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add to wet.  Add in flax-applesauce mixture.
3.  Fold in carrots, pineapple, raisins and walnuts until just incorporated.  Pour mixture into prepared pan and spread evenly with a spatula, tapping it on the counter to even it out.
4.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until edges come away slightly and cake is firm to the touch. Allow to cool completely in jelly roll pan on wire racks.
5.  In a large bowl, dump carrot cake and add frosting.  Mix together very well (I used a potato masher) and refrigerate 30 minutes to an hour.
6.  Line a tupperware container with waxed paper and set aside.
7.  Remove chilled cake mixture from fridge and use a tablespoon to scoop out cake.  Form into balls and roll in coconut/crushed walnuts.  Place in tupperware and store in refrigerator.  Will keep for two weeks...if they last that long!

21 January 2013

RECIPE: Gluten-Free Vegan Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies with Dried Cranberries and Peanuts

I love these cookies.  They have a wonderful consistency, amazing texture complexity and an incredible flavor.  The presence of cinnamon, in particular, makes all of the other flavors zing.

I made my cookies small so that I wouldn't feel guilty about eating four of them at once (true story) but feel free to make yours as large or as small as you'd like.  Just make sure and check on them in the oven, as you may need to adjust the cooking times.

Gluten-Free Vegan Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies with Dried Cranberries and Peanuts

- 1 1/4 c. teff flour
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 3/4 c. peanut butter (preferably organic)
- 1/2 c. organic applesauce
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 c. agave nectar (if you eat honey, a great alternative is 1/4 c. agave and 1/4 c. raw honey)
- 1 prepared Ener-G 'egg'
- 1 1/2 c. gluten-free rolled oats
- 1/2 c. organic dried sweetened cranberries (I HIGHLY recommend sweetened cranberries in this recipe because the cookie dough is not overly sweet to begin with)
- 1/2 c. organic peanuts

1.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2.  Combine dry ingredients in one bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients.  Add dry ingredients to wet.  Fold in oats, cranberries and peanuts.  Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes.
3.  Preheat oven to 350' and drop heaping tablespoonfuls of dough onto prepared sheets.  Press down on dough slightly.  Cookies won't spread a lot but they will puff a little bit so you want to have a nice cookie shape to start with!
4.  Bake for 14-15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through to ensure even baking*.
5.  Remove cookies from oven and allow them to sit for five minutes before transferring to wire racks before removing to wire racks to finish cooling.
6.  Store cookies in an airtight container.  Will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, assuming they last that long!
*Note: When you rotate the baking sheet halfway through, press down on the tops of the cookies a little bit.  I know this is a little unorthodox but it makes for a nicer-looking cookie :)

My cookies at work :)

Happy MLK Day!

Today was so enjoyable!  I actually DID get my butt out of bed at 5:15 to go to my "Follow the Yogi" class and shortly after I got home, my mom and I headed down to Detroit to see the DIA's current exhibit, Faberge: The Rise and Fall.  Today was the last day of the exhibit so I'm so glad that both she and I were able to see it because it was amazing.

Afterwards the two of us went to Vicente's Cuban Cuisine for lunch and it was INCREDIBLE.  Like, one of my new favorite restaurants.  I seriously have been eating so much great food over the past two days.  I feel so grateful that I have access to such delicious food and that more and more restaurants are catering their menus (or at least providing options) to those who adopt a vegan diet.

My lunch was Setas al Ajo, which was "fresh mushrooms sauteed in extra virgin olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, white wine, red pepper flakes and parsley."  I cleaned the bowl.  My mom and I also split Tostones, which are double-fried, yes, double, plantains.  We ordered the savory and it was served with a garlicy-lemon sauce.

 Setas al Ajo


Our waitress brought me and my mom a complimentary fried sweet plantain for dessert--so yummy!

Also, by "split", I had three-and-a-half of the plantains.  I will mention too that they were HUGE!  Next time I'm totally having my own order of Tostones.  My mama can fend for herself ;)

The Calm After the Storm


Do you ever just have weeks, not days but weeks, where you're like, Okay, I'm glad THAT week is over!?  Well, that's how I feel about last week and I AM glad it's over.  I had so much to do, got so little sleep and blah, blah blah.

At the same token, though, when one feels so busy and overwhelmed with "too much to do", one can be left with a feeling of accomplishment upon the tasks' completion.  So I do feel a little bit of that too (although mainly I feel relief and am just glad it's a new week).

One of the things I had to get done this past week (or so I thought) was to make a birthday treat for my friend, Patrick.  The "or so I thought" comes in here:  it was not his birthday.  Like, kinda not even close.  Here it's Wednesday and I'm making his raw chocolate peanut butter cream pie and then I realize, Hey wait, his birthday isn't January 15th (the date I made the pie was January 16th, by the way, so I still would have been off) but January 25th.  Rather than freeze his pie until next Friday, though, I opted to give it to him and we all got a good laugh out of it.  I also started to make him a card but I needn't go into further detail there...

Another of last week's "to dos" was to fill a baking order for a 30-person anniversary event.  When I first got the assignment I was super excited and geeked to make all the cute little heart-shaped goodies.  However, when the date rolled around and I realized, Uh, I have no time, I just wanted to get it done.

I did, of course, and Julie, my dear friend who teaches at the yoga studio where I work and is the person who placed the order, is such a sweetheart and was so appreciative.  Her gratitude made everything all worth while.  Back to Julie, though, and to show just you just how sweet she is, take a look at the cute little envelope of moolah she gave me for the treats!!

So today, Sunday, all those "have tos" are done.  I was able to do the things I truly had been wanting to do all week.  I made more almond milk as well as some almond pulp crackers with the milk's leftovers.  I also made some zucchini chips (well, I'm still making, actually, as they're in my dehydrator and will be for the next 16-20 hours).

The other day I got a new cookbook, Raw Energy by Stephanie Tourles and it's AWESOME!!!  I'm sooooo excited to make so many recipes from it because they all sound fabulous and simple.  The zucchini chips are filling my house with the most wonderfully fragrant Italian-y odor right now.  I can't wait to eat them!  Ooh!  And these chips, though not a meal, are my "recipe followed to a T. from a book" for the week.

Now, because I started all of these baking/cooking/uncooking activities right around after I awoke this morning I missed my usual morning yoga class.  I went instead to an Ashtanga class at 1:45 and it was AMAZING!  Truly one of the best practices I've had in months.

I used to do Ashtanga every morning at 6:00 am when I was in yoga teacher training but after the training ended I was like, That ain't happening anymore.  This girl wants her sleep, even if her "sleep" is only until the late hour of 7:30 am.  Today's class, though, reminded me just how much I love Ashtanga.  I truly felt so wonderful after today's practice that I might resume going to some 6:00 am classes, if only I can get my lazy butt outta bed at 5:10 in the morning!

My day continued to get better even after I got home.  I showered, got ready and then my mom and I headed out for Ann Arbor to partake in Restaurant Week!  I LOVE Restaurant Week and I was so thrilled that my mom was game to go!  She works full-time and does so much driving throughout the week that I wasn't sure she'd be willing to go to Ann Arbor for this event but because she has tomorrow off for MLK Day, she was on board!

We went to one of my all-time FAVORITE restaurants, Melange, and I had a wonderful Mexican food-inspired amuse bouche of a tortilla chip with beans, avocado, scallions, creaminess, heat and other magic, a first course maki roll, a ridiculous second course of mushroom polenta over braised Swiss chard with pickled onions and a smoked truffle sauce, and a dessert of the best-tasting sorbets I've ever had.  Flavors were blood orange and raspberry chambord.

My amuse bouche (the maki roll followed this but I gobbled it up before I snapped a photo).

Melange's interior, shot one.

Melange's interior, shot two.

My mama!!!

And the piece de resistance!  My entree!

A slightly closer shot of my entree.

Though it's hard to tell in this picture, I ordered a scoop of the blood orange and the raspberry chambord sorbet since I could not decide : /

I apologize for the poor lighting but Melange's ambiance did not lend itself to clear photos and I refuse to use flash.

All of this was accompanied, of course, by wine.  My wine of choice?  Fire Road Sauvignon Blanc.  Divine.

When I got home I was like, Hmm...there are still a few hours left in the day.  What else can I do?  So I made cookies.  I will be bringing them in to sell at work tomorrow and posting a recipe for them in tomorrow's post as well.

Good night!

...and good riddance!  Yeesh, was that long!  Another Frankenpost!

14 January 2013


Ugh.  Do any of you ever feel so overwhelmed with "stuff" you have to do that you instead do nothing?  Today I realized I have so much to do this week:  nanny (more than usual), bake more treats for the desk at work since no one told me my last batch of stuff had sold out, make a huge batch of assorted cookies for a 30-person event THIS Saturday, make a birthday something for my friend at work and do more preparation for my raw foods workshop (okay this is very vague and the workshop is in March so this takes lowest priority).  

So instead of doing ANY of that, what do I do?  I work on my blog.  Yup.  And spend an hour and a half making and eating dinner...and then another 20 minutes cleaning up the kitchen.  The subject of dinner, though, is one to which I'll dedicate a bit of this post.

In my constant scouring of the internet for recipes and food ideas, I have come across, on several occasions, recipes for a "Hasselback" potato.  Umm...okaaaayyyyyy.  It looks like a baked potato with slits in it, stuffed with "stuff."  And it was only tonight that I realized Hasselback was not Hasselhoff, as in David...not that that would have made any more sense but that's where my brain was.

Anyway, I still do not know exactly what a Hasselback potato is but tonight I decided to try it with a beet!  I have an unhealthy obsession with beets and probably eat about four of them a week (at least).  I roasted my beet whole, sliced it open (it kind of split in half because I cut one of the slits too deep) and filled the slices with my raw cashew-macadamia nut cheeze and then sprinkled roasted fennel, pomegranate seeds, toasted pine nuts and fresh parsley on and around the Hasselback beet.  I finished it off by cracking some black pepper over the whole thing.

It was good but next time I will do some things differently.  The first thing I will do differently is omit the fennel.  I thought I was obsessed with fennel because of my dinner the other night but in tonight's dinner, with so many strong flavors going on, I could barely discern it AND it took too long to chew.

Another thing I will do differently is use a smaller beet.  This one took WAY too long to eat.  Even I lost interest after about 40 minutes into dinner.  Now, a normal person could just stop eating but I am not normal and do not know how to do that.  I have CPS, or, as it is more commonly known, Clean Plate Syndrome.  I also hate wasting food and I knew that this would not be a dish I would reheat so I had to eat it all tonight (had to, mind you).

The last two things I will do differently are add more pomegranate seeds and a sauce of some kind to give the dish more moisture/another layer of texture.

Overall, though, I liked this dish a lot.  The beet and pomegranate seeds were awesome together and the tanginess of the cheeze served as a perfect compliment.  I liked what the pine nuts brought to the dish too and the parsley definitely enhanced the flavors.

Okay, well I really think I need to end this post and go do...something.  Waaaah.  Oh wait!  I need to upload my dinner picture THEN I will go do "something."

...or I'm going to Google "Hasselback" and figure out what this term refers to.

13 January 2013

Commitment to Recipe-Making

I decided today that I am going to make it a goal of mine to cook or bake at least one recipe from one of my many cookbooks every week.  I have a tendency to amass cookbooks and then never make anything from them or I will find one recipe I like and then make that recipe...and only that recipe...again and again.

The idea to do this came to me this morning when I was reflecting on the really delicious food I've eaten in the past two days and realized that all of the food came from recipes I had followed!  Normally I'll just throw "healthy" stuff together with some nuts (okay, I realize nuts are healthy and that could be considered some of the healthy "stuff" to which I'm referring but I'll distinguish) and some sauce/dressing I have on hand along with some spices and call it a day.

Too often, though, I fall into a rut with this formula and don't branch out OR I DO branch out and end up with something that is, well, not good and then I get discouraged from experimenting again.

Two days ago I made those HEAVENLY turtles using a recipe I found on a blog and then yesterday I filled a raw chocolate tart shell with the leftover caramel sauce from the turtles and made a caramel cream chocolate pie...also from Rachel's blog.

So follows the journey of the ENTIRE pie into my belly.

...all while playing Holiday Scrabble with my mama...

THEN! Last night for dinner I made a recipe from the Veganomicon, following it to the T.  It turned out AWESOME!!!!  The Veganomicon is one cookbook to which I refer for consistently the same recipes, but I thought, All of these recipes are amazing so likely other recipes are amazing.

And the recipe I made last night was.

I made this salad with roasted fennel, hazelnuts and dried cranberries over chicory (okay, Whole Foods did not have chicory so I used spinach but every other part of the recipe I followed to a T) with a roasted shallot vinaigrette.  Holy wow was it good.

I am looking forward to making another dish this week, given the great success I've been having, not to mention, enjoyment I've been getting from both using my cookbooks and eating the creations!  The cookbook I think I'm going to use this week is my The Inspired Vegan cookbook, by Bryant Terry.  I bought it awhile ago and have literally only made one thing from it--"Wilted Dandelion Greens with Hot Garlic Dressing and Garlic Chips"--and it was phenomenal.  Many other recipes look phenomenal too so I'm gonna give 'em a chance :)

11 January 2013

Vegan/Gluten Free Turtles

This will just be a short post.  I don't have a lot to report today, in the way of food, but I did want to share a picture of the turtle candies I made today.  They taste PHENOMENAL!  I got the recipe from Rachel Gutierrez's blog, Almonds and Avocados.  Love her and love her blog.

Mine don't look as pretty as hers but they taste wonderful.  Also, I am now currently obsessed with Lucuma powder (one of the turtles' ingredients) and am trying to find other ways to use it...

Ooh!  And I'm also planning on doing a raw desserts workshop at the yoga studio where I work (sometime during the month of March) and here's what I've done on my poster so far:

10 January 2013

Tattoo Progress and a Recipe!

As I sit typing this right now, I am in so much pain.  I had more work done on my Ganesha tattoo today and even though the appointment lasted a mere 3.5 hours, my side is KILLING me.  Immediately after the session ended I was like, Oh, that wasn't so bad!

But it hurts.

I have one more session to go.  Jay is going to put in the minute details  and fill in Ganesha's "bling"--the crown, scythe, coins, et cetera.  I was so scared for today's appointment because by the end of my last appointment I was in unbelievable pain.  I thought, I can't do this again.  However, I could not very well have a partially filled-in, half-outlined Ganesha so I knew I had to see it through!

At my first appointment  told Jay about this wonderful stuff called Bactine, which kind of numbs the skin (the artist who did my first tattoo used it), and wouldn't you know, Jay bought some just for me and used it tonight!  It made a world of difference!  I think that's how I made it : /  I seriously think I could not have otherwise.

Now onto the recipe!  I made a WONDERFUL Blueberry Smoothie the other day and if I do say so myself, it's the best one I've ever had, even with sneaking in some healthy additions!  Oftentimes blueberry smoothies are too banana-y or icy or, well, lacking in bluberry-ness.  This smoothie was perfect though.

Creamy.  Flavorful.  Blueberry-y.

Vegan Creamy Blueberry Smoothie

-  3/4 c. almond milk
-  2 T. flax seed
-  1/4 avocado

-  1 c. frozen blueberries
-  1/2 frozen banana

-  Huge handful of spinach

Add your ingredients into your blender in the above order.  Blend for one minute or until everything is well blended.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

P.S.  My crackers turned out GREAT!  I'm sorry to report, though, that they are ancient history.  They now reside in my belly...

07 January 2013

A Day of Cooking...and Un-Cooking!

Like Saturday, today was a day spent in the kitchen!  It started before 7 am and ended around 7:30 pm.  Granted, I did venture to other rooms and leave the house but there was a whole lotta kitchen time, that's for sure!

This morning, before I went to yoga, I made a fresh batch of almond milk (I already used up my previous batch!) and washed the spinach I bought from the bulk section of Whole Foods the other day.

Because I'm OCD and because I prefer a thinner almond milk, I used not only the sieve seen here but a cheese cloth as well to strain my milk.

I take such pride in this.  Easy-to-make, whole food-based, preservative-free almond milk :)

Getting back to the almond milk, though, Sarah inspired me with her recent post, saying she was going to make something with her leftover carrot pulp and my almond milk also created leftover pulp.  I thought, There has to be something I can do with this.  And sure enough, there was.  A little less than five minutes of Googling brought up several recipes for crackers and cookies.  I settled on simple thyme and sea-salt seasoned crackers.  They are in my dehydrator as I type this.

It's hard to tell from this photo but the almond pulp is slightly pink!  It really is an appealing color!

Aaaaaannnnnnndddddd...CRACKERS!  I followed this simple recipe and whipped it together in no time at all.  Next time, though, I probably would have added a bit more thyme and perhaps oregano...and maybe rosemary???

Getting ready for the dehydrator.

Cracker close-up.

Second cracker close-up.

I also made some oat-free granola which came out so, so, so yummy.  The recipe was inspired by one of my Instagram friend's recipes and includes almonds, walnuts, shredded coconut, flax seed, hemp hearts, dried cranberries, raisins, cinnamon and sea salt.  The awesome thing about this granola is that when you process the nuts and dried fruits for just a little bit, it kind of clumps together and resembles a very granola-like texture!

Process together--just a little bit though so that the clumps are inconsistent in size.  I'm still learning the ways of my Vitamix and I think I might have layered the ingredients incorrectly because it turned off on me as a safety measure.  Oops.  Oh well.  Live and learn.
From top to bottom: almonds, dried cranberries, raisins, hemp hearts, walnuts and more almonds.  The almonds on top were added afterwards, obviously, because I thought the granola needed more.  

After I blended the nut and dried fruit mixture, I mixed in 1/2 c. shredded coconut and 1/4 c. flax seed along with 1 tsp. ground cinnamon and 1/2 tsp. sea salt.

Love my piggy spoon.

This is how it looks before going into the oven...

Second pre-oven shot.  

Getting ready to go in the oven!

Et voila!  


For lunch I grilled up some tempeh I had marinating in some hot sauce for the past 24 hours.  I threw it on a bed of romaine with cucumber and avocado and drizzled some leftover marinade over the whole thing.  It was awesome.

Dinner consisted of roasted beets on a bed of spinach (the same spinach I washed this morning) with raw cashew-macadamia nut cheeze by my favorite makers of nut-based "cheeses", Punk Rawk Labs, some toasted cumin seeds and cinnamon-cumin vinaigrette.

I have one happy, contented tummy.  A day of great eats!

Oh!  And I almost forgot--one more thing!  Last night my lovely mama treated me to a homecooked meal from Chloe Coscarelli's cookbook, Chloe's Kitchen.  The dish was "Tempeh Piccata" and between the two of us, we managed to finish every last morsel.  So much for "Serves 4"!!  Ha!


My mama asked me if I wanted some sauteed garlic-y kale with my piccata (per Chloe's suggestion) and I answered, Heck yes!  I will almost never turn down greens.  I eat so many each day, it's surprising I, myself, am not green...

Boy, oh, boy does this look good.  It sure is a shame my mom and I were such piggies and ate it all, leaving neither one of us any leftovers :(  Oh well.  I fully enjoyed the dinner I had tonight too.

Close-up photo of the tempeh piccata, with a lemon-caper sauce and freshly cracked black pepper.  I am obsessed with pepper and sprinkle it on nearly EVERYTHING.