Sunday, January 30, 2011

Endangered Species

I love this chocolate. Yum.

I've been eating Endangered Species chocolate for a few years now. Way before I was a vegan and even before I actually started eating somewhat healthy. I saw the chocolate bars with the cute animals and I was like, "Awww... how cute!" Now, it's much more to me than just a cute animal and yummy chocolate.

Each bar comes with info about an endangered animal and things we can do to help. 10% of the profits are donated "to help support species, habitat and humanity." The company is located in Indianapolis, my hometown, so I'm even supporting a local business! Yay!!

The Dark Chocolate with Cranberries & Almonds has always been my favorite "flavor." Fruit+nuts+chocolate = deliciousness. Plus, the wolf is so pretty. Way prettier than Jacob Black.

I decided to make a snack bar using my favorite ES flavors, but without spending $3 per bar (which is what an ES bar typically costs). I found a fruit/nut bar recipe and adapted it to my specific needs (well, wants...). The result?

Snacky goodness.

Here's the recipe:

Wolfy Bars
2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
1/2 c. agave nectar
1 c. coarsely chopped almonds
1 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/4 c. vegan chocolate chips
extra chocolate chips to sprinkle on top
**The original recipe (and the one I used) called for a teaspoon of salt. I would recommend omitting this, as it made my bars a little too salty. But if you're adventurous, toss it in.

Stir together the flaxseed and agave nectar in a small bowl. In another bowl, combine the chopped almonds, shredded coconut, dried cranberries and chocolate chips. Pour in the flaxseed/agave mixture and stir together until everything is evenly coated. Grease an 8x8 pan with non-stick spray and press mixture into pan. Sprinkle extra chocolate chips on top. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 23-25 minutes, until edges are crispy. Cool for about 15 minutes before cutting them, as they may still be rather soft. Once they're cool, they should be rather crispy.

So, if you decide to make this recipe, think about the endangered wolves. And if you see one, give him a hug. Unless he's in Twilight...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Thanks, Mama Pea!

I posted a couple days ago about some of my favorite books and blogs. I mentioned Mama Pea's blog. She has some amazing recipes and today, after a Whole Foods trek with *my* momma, I tried two of her yummy treats: Curry Kale Chips and Smoky Chipotle Zucchini Hummus.

Currently, the kale chips are still cooking, but I tried a couple after turning them at the hour mark. They are SO awesome!! Here's a pic of what I've got so far:

And the zucchini hummus is quite delish. This was my first time working with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, but oh, they are quite yummy! I'm definitely gonna use this as a chip dip and maybe a salad dressing (after I share some with my momma, of course!).

It tastes and looks similar to roasted red pepper hummus, but it's made without beans and has a wonderful smoky flavor. SBV-approved!!

I didn't really eat breakfast this morning, because I was super tired when I got up this morning. I didn't sleep well and when I have a rough night, I am not at all hungry in the morning, so after I prepared these two dishes, I made myself a big lunch of sauteed veggies w/ black beans and rice. The veggies were: carrots, sweet mini peppers and broccoli slaw. I also added a touch of cumin and some black pepper. The whole thing was sauteed in coconut oil. That's the first time I've used it for cooking and it was really, really good! I saute them just enough so they're still crisp and colorful, but warm. Perfect lunch!

I only ate half, and I put the other half in the fridge for later. I'm looking forward to those kale chips for a snack in a couple hours!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Baking Night

I baked TWO vegan foods tonight!

Let me just go ahead and preface this entire post by saying that vegan baking has been a struggle for me. I love to bake. Baking is one of my passions. (Cooking is the other.) Since I started my vegan diet, I've had trouble making my vegan desserts and baked goods taste as good as they did before. A lot of it was because I would find recipes online. Recipes that people had made up. So, for Christmas, Mom bought me The Joy of Vegan Baking. And everything I've made from it has been quite yummy. :)

So tonight, I decided to make chocolate chip scones and corn muffins. The scones turned out pretty well. The texture is chewy and they have a good amount of sweetness. The recipe told me to sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on the top, so I did, but I think that was a bit of a mistake. Next time, I'll leave it off. (Well, maybe a little bit of sugar...) Here are some pics of the scones:

I wrapped them in plastic so that I could share them with my mom and brother tomorrow as we go to Whole Foods (for my favorite hobby: grocery shopping!)

Let me tell you my story about corn muffins. Tonight was my third attempt at corn muffins. I tried to make corn muffins at Thanksgiving and I tried to make them another time. Both times, vegan, of course. I used rice milk those times, and I think that was my first mistake. Rice milk is a lot thinner than other nondairy milks and I'm pretty sure that was a major reason why they got messed up. I also used internet recipes, recipes that had not been tested over and over again to be published in a cookbook.

These corn muffins, however, were from my trusted cookbook and I used soymilk this time instead of rice milk. Major difference! I haven't tasted them yet, but the consistency is good and they look and smell great! Here are the pics:

I love baking and I'm so glad I have this book to help me figure out awesome ways to bake my favorite stuff. (Next step: cakes. I've never been good with cakes...)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Confessions of a Not-So-Perfect Vegan

Let me start off by saying that there is no such thing as a perfect vegan. I don't even know what being a "perfect vegan" would entail, but I certainly am not one. Vegans eat zero animal products, including meat, fish, poultry, dairy, eggs. If an animal took part in it, we don't eat it.

Same with the wardrobe. No fur. No leather. No wool. No feathers.

Well, I hate to break it to you all, but I fail miserably at this all the time. Sometimes, I'll eat a piece of bread or a cookie that was made with milk or eggs. I eat it because someone I love made it or provided it for me. Most of my close family and friends know that I am vegan, so they know better than to offer me something non-vegan. But I don't like breaking people's hearts.

I also own two wool coats and a down pillow. The pillow is for my neck. Not an excuse, but maybe I'll switch up next time I go shop for a pillow. One of my wool coats was purchased several years ago when I was away at college. On sale at Marshalls for $25. What a steal. It's still in great condition and I love wearing it. The other coat was a hand-me-down from a woman at work. It's longer than my other coat, so it's great for dressing up and most importantly, it was free.

See, that's the thing about being a single, BROKE vegan. I don't have extra money to go spend on fancy dress coats at the store, even $25 ones. (As if I could find a deal like that again...) And I don't want to stress about being a "perfect vegan."

When I bring food into my home, it contains no animal products. When I feed my family and friends, most of the time, I'll feed them vegan food. (Except when my dad forces me to make him banana bread or cookies using eggs and butter. There's no compromises for that man...) When I go out to eat, I try to prepare ahead of time so that I can order a cruelty-free meal that is healthy for me.

For me, being a vegan is about doing what is best for me, my body and the world around me. I want to live a healthy life. I want to make the world a little bit greener and a little bit happier. I want animals to live lives free of torture. And that's me. I'm not really a post-modern girl, but I'm also not one to tell anyone else how to live. If I ever make you feel bad about not being vegan, I'm sorry. It's definitely not my intention.

But I always welcome questions. Well, curious questions. I do not welcome rude, scathing questions that belittle me and the path that I've chosen.

A little deep, yes, but I didn't have pics for today and it's been a long day. I just wanted to get all of this out here early on before I start blogging more regularly.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


My first post back won't have any recipes or talk about a specific meal I ate. Instead, I'll talk about this book I've been reading: Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.

Most plant-eaters have heard of this, I'm sure. Foer isn't a vegan, at least as far as I can tell from the book. I'm sure he eats vegan food every once in a while, but he mainly advocates a vegetarian diet. I'm only on the second chapter so far, so I've still got quite a bit to read, but I'm really enjoying it. He has a way of bringing his anecdotes to life and stirring the same emotions in you that he was feeling when he wrote them.

I've been reading a lot of other vegan books/cookbooks lately. Here are a few of my favorites:

Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina. A fabulous health-driven guide to the nutritional benefits of veganism. It has a lot of medical/scientific terms in it, and several case studies, but it's a good read for those who aren't convinced of the nutritional values of a plant-based diet.

Skinny Bitch
by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. The title + subtitle pretty much say it all. Unbelievably sassy, but oh so lovable, this book was my first read as a vegan and the one that convinced me to stick with it. It's not as discriminating as it sounds (read the disclaimer in the back), but it definitely gives a lot of good reasons and tips on going vegan. Probably my favorite one!

Vegan Lunch Box
by Jennifer McCann. She started the Vegan Lunch Box blog, and eventually wrote this cookbook. I believe it was originally designed for packing vegan lunches for kids to take to school, but it's been helpful to me as well. Working away from home three days out of the week, I like to be able to bring healthy, quick lunches that aren't high maintenance to prepare when I'm at work. (As a nanny, both hands aren't always free for me to slowly eat a hot meal. That's what dinner at home, by myself is for...) Such a great addition to my library.

I have other books that I've grown to love as well, including The Joy of Vegan Baking, The Vegan Table and Skinny Bitch in the Kitch.

I've also been trying to read some more blogs lately, although when I don't have time to read several, I read my faithful two: Sentiments by Denise and Peas and Thank You.

Sentiments by Denise is my mom's blog, so you could say that I'm obligated to read it, but I actually do enjoy reading her food posts and getting updates on her weight loss progress, in case she forgets to tell me amidst all the other hundreds of things we have to talk about. I'm really lucky to have such an awesome mom who shares my love of plant food. It's actually because of her influence that I started eating less meat and more plants and then made the transition to a vegan diet. Mom isn't a vegan; she's a vegetarian. But she's quite adventurous in her meals, so even though she'll make herself a veggie omelet or a salad topped with goat cheese, she's still willing to try lots of my vegan dishes. This helps when my recipes make several servings and I know I won't be able to eat them all.

Peas and Thank You is my favorite vegan blog. Mama Pea + Pea Daddy are raising vegetarian (mostly vegan) kids: Gigi + Lulu. Mama Pea always has amazing vegan recipes to share and more importantly, *hilarious* stories about herself, her kids or her husband (and sometimes the cat). Her wit just keeps me coming back for more. Sometimes, I wish she had a constant stream of blogging (Twitter!!) so that I could get updates on her hilarious life. She has a new cookbook coming out this year and I can't wait to read it!

Other blogs I like: little birdy dirty feet, The Daily Garnish, Kath Eats Real Food.

So, check out the books and the blogs, or completely ignore everything I wrote in this post. It's totally up to you. Even if you aren't vegan and have no interest in becoming vegan, adding more plants to your diet is always a good idea and these resources have great ideas for doing just that.