I'm finally back into the blog grind! After the holidays, I needed a break from everything. Although I didn't stop making delicious food, I just didn't have the energy to post. Fortunately, I have some more free time and the will to eat healthy foods for the new year.
I always thought of myself as a generally healthy eater, but when the weather gets cold I tend to get lazy. I always fall back on easy, warm meals. Lately, I've been noticing that I've been eating more processed vegan foods than I really want to. Although they're delicious and easy, they aren't a good "all the time" food. So, to remedy my poor choices, I've started eating more whole plant foods. I've been making sure to stock my kitchen with as much produce as I can. In the winter months (it's almost spring, but still pretty chilly here), I usually choose produce that has a longer shelf life. My favorites as of late have been root veggies, onions, apples and pears, and so on. When I buy more delicate vegetables like greens, I try to eat them as quickly as possible so they don't go to waste. Salads for days, in other words.
Anyway, I've made my own salad dressing for a very long time. For the most part, I always hated buying dressing from the store because it was always too much. Am I every going to really use all of that ranch? No. And now, I don't even like ranch.
There were always at least 3 bottles of old, opened salad dressing in my fridge growing up. My mom would buy some when we needed it, and then we would eat salad for a while and it would sit. Forever. When I moved, I swear I threw away 8+ year old dressing. 😷😖
After that, I made a promise to myself that I would just make dressing if I ever needed it. The great thing about salad dressing is that it literally takes 2-3 ingredients to make (plus salt and pepper if you're doing it right). Those ingredients are staples every kitchen should have: fat (oil/nut butter/"mayo"/non-dairy product) + acid (vinegar/citrus juice) + binder (mustard/seeds/nuts/pureed fruit or veg).
You can even get away with leaving the binder out. I like it because it thickens the dressing and helps it bind to whatever your putting it over. In this recipe's case, I used chia seeds because they're delicious, healthful, and add some texture to the salad. They helped thicken the dressing really well after sitting for only 10 minutes. If you don't have them, ground up flax would also work. You can also omit them if you want. They're pretty optional.
These are the basics of my dressing: apple cider vinegar (which I lovingly refer to as ACV, the miracle liquid), pomegranate juice (you can sub any other juice if you wish), and Just Mayo (or any preferred vegan mayo option/non-dairy yogurt). Then, the chia!
If you sub the vegan mayo for non-dairy yogurt, you may want to scale back the vinegar. The vinegar makes this dressing taste like yogurt when it's completed, so if you add the entire amount, it may be too "tangy" for your liking. If you like tang, dump that ACV in there! 💃
I used this dressing for a simple apple salad with mixed organic greens topped with cranberries and nuts. It was perfect for a light lunch. The dressing made it look adorably pink. Feel free to use it on any salad you desire and enjoy! 💝
Chia Pomegranate Salad Dressing
Yield: 1 serving
Free from: Gluten, Nuts, Refined Sugar, Soy*
*Use a soy-free product
This cookie recipe is one from my BHG archives. My mom and I always used their "New Cookbook" (published in the early 90's I believe) for our Christmas cookie recipes back in the day. This cookbook has any type of cookie you could possibly desire with easy and simple to follow recipes. Making their baking recipes into vegan versions isn't so difficult anymore, especially if you use aquafaba. 😋
These cookies are as low maintenance as you can get: one bowl, use your mixer for easy clean up and easy mixing, and no rolling required! As cute as cutout cookies are, they are time consuming and temperamental. This dough comes together quickly with the help of a mixer and paddle attachment, if you have one. Once it's done, chill it for about 20 minutes while you heat up your oven and then use a mini ice cream scoop or teaspoon to portion out cookie drops.
The original recipe (linked at the beginning of the ingredient section) calls for banana butter icing. Instead of going through the trouble of making icing, I decided to make these cookies interesting by transforming them into "chunky monkey" cookies. There are chocolate chips and walnut pieces inside each little cookie, which offer crunch and richness. If you prefer to keep these cookies more simple, you can omit the chocolate and nuts.
Also, these are great to make for a last minute cookie swap or holiday get together if you have a spare banana lying around like I usually do. 😅 Enjoy and grab one for yourself. 💝
Yield: About 24 Cookies
Adapted from: Better Homes and Gardens Banana Drop Cookies
This weekend and upcoming week will surely be hectic for everyone preparing for the holidays. I've been doing some last minute chores today and suddenly realized I had skipped lunch. 💀
Since I knew I couldn't starve in the name of gift wrapping, I whipped up a single serving of peanut noodles and decided to share the recipe with you! It's a quick and easy meal or snack for when you're home alone or just in the mood for some noods. I'm always up for noods. 😁
These noodles are creamy yet light at the same time. They can be oil-free, in fact, if you omit the sesame oil garnish. I love the taste and aroma of sesame oil, so I drizzled a little on my plate after cooking everything. If you wish to make this dish without the oil, the sauce will still be decadent and satisfying while also providing you with protein. For the noodles, I used brown rice with green tea from Star Anise Foods. I love their products. Some of their noodles come with soup base, which I think is genius for a quick weeknight meal. I also love their name...so cute! ☺️
Peanut Noodles for One
Yield: 1 serving
Free from: Gluten, Refined Sugar*, Oil-free option
Holiday baking is something that I normally go overboard on...but I feel so behind today! I know it's only the Monday after Thanksgiving, but I feel like Christmas is already here. Lights and decorations are going up all around me and all I have to show are two dish towels with reindeer on them. 😳
#firstworldrpoblems, I guess...
I decided to bake some quick, easy, delicious and somewhat healthy cookies for this post. I'm a huge fan of Chocolate Covered Katie, one of the best dessert blogs I've ever encountered. She makes easy recipes that have accessible ingredients, delicious crave-able flavors, and offers all the substitutions you never knew you needed. Her blog was one of the first ones I read when I started to experiment with vegan baking. I had no idea what stevia was and had no clue that you could bake a cake in the microwave. She showed me the truth and I am bestowing my knowledge unto you now.
Behold! My recreation of a recipe from CCK's cookbook (which you should probably buy):
These pixie cookies are delicate and fluffy drops of cake-like chocolate with a hint of cool peppermint and rolled in powdered sugar to make them look like they've been on a romp in the snow. ❄️☃ These take only 12-15 minutes to bake and they are small, so if you are feeding a crowd of up to 9 people, you're perfectly fine without doubling the recipe. Also, if you have peppermint extract (or peppermint stevia at your own risk), you can whip these cookies up any time because they only use staple pantry ingredients. My rendition has a few minor changes so make sure you check the ingredients in case you need to plan ahead. Otherwise, whip up a batch now and join me in cookie heaven! 🍪🍫😇💖
Mint Chocolate Pixie Cookies
Adapted from Chocolate-Covered Katie
Free from: Gluten, Refined Sugar, Nuts, Soy*
Yield: About 18-24 cookies
Last year for VeganMoFo, I ventured to make my own mochi from scratch and it was tasty! Sometimes, though, I want mochi for a snack and I'm not able to make it myself. I try not to buy the prepared mochi desserts as they contain a scary amount of sugar! When I was in cooking school, my instructor Christine introduced the class to a great brand called Grainaissance that makes mochi for cooking at home and it's made with wholesome ingredients and brown rice.
I grabbed a pack one day just to have in case I needed a quick breakfast one morning. What I ended up doing with said pack will amaze you!
I cut the block of mochi in half and prepared it 2 ways: one sweet and traditional and one savory and crazy! If you're feeling one resulting mochi over the other, feel free to prepare your entire block that way. I wanted a little of both, as usual, so I went a little nuts.
The mochi "chicken" nuggets that I'm highlighting here are surprisingly easy to make. I love that mochi is naturally sticky so all you need to do to get something to stick to it is coat it in a little water. No egg wash needed! ^_^
The breading that I created definitely tastes like the outside of a chicken nugget. The texture of the fried mochi is slightly more firm than a mozzarella stick. So, if you're into mozzarella sticks and/or chicken (or meat-free chicken) nuggets, try this recipe. It's much less processed, contains no soy, has whole grains, fiber and protein and is absolutely delicious. The mochi nuggets came out crunchy on the outside (and I mean, crunchyyy!) and soft and chewy on the inside. It's a great snack for watching football, too (if you're into that).
The kinako mochi is very simple to make and is a great accompaniment to tea or coffee. These little bites are slightly sweetened with coconut sugar to highlight the nutty flavor of the kinako. It's a great way to enjoy something sweet without overindulging.
Mochi "Chicken" Nuggets
I've made tofu scramble countless times since becoming vegan and I've had the satisfaction of making an egg-like meal with delicious ingredients and scrumptious flavors. This, however, was the very first time since 2011 that I felt as if I was cooking actual eggs again. It was a very strange feeling.
That looks straight up like scrambled eggs, doesn't it? Weird.
Making the VeganEgg was a simple process today. I wanted to make the product as the instructions said to so that I could taste it as it was without fancy additions or techniques getting in the way. This was tough to do, though. I always want to tinker! ^_^
The VeganEgg is fairly simple to make. All you need is some cold water to mix with the provided powder and voila! The resulting mixture almost seems like pancake batter in consistency. In fact, once I poured the batter into my pan, I felt as if I was going to make a pancake.
Once I started to move the mixture around a bit, though, I noticed what all the fuss was about. EGGS!
The VeganEgg cooks just like regular eggs do for the most part. It slightly sticks to the sides of the pan, it becomes spongey and fluffy as it firms up, and starts to become fragrant. Boy, does this stuff smell like eggs.
What I loved most about the product is that it doesn't overcook easily like real eggs do. Whenever I would cook real eggs, I would always err on under cooking them (which in hindsight was a terrible idea!) so they would not become rubbery and hard. The VeganEgg takes a little longer to cook, maybe about 4-5 minutes on medium-low heat.
I added only about 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil in my pan to cook the VeganEgg with and it was perfect. I seasoned with salt and pepper only in order to keep the flavor integrity of the product. I felt the flavor was nice but not over-powering. It was also not overly-eggy, which I think would've been a turn off. I did experience illness several times after eating real eggs and ever since the smell has somewhat deterred me.
I love how the VeganEgg cooks. It "browns" a little to add texture to the scramble but does not greatly alter the color. My scramble was fluffy and light yet slightly drier than normal eggs. Although, i suppose this is a good thing since real eggs are full of cholesterol.
I liked the plain preparation of the VeganEggs, but I'm itching to do more with them. Since they retained their shape very well, I think they would be perfect for making omelettes. When I flipped the VeganEggs initially while cooking, they stayed in a very perfect circle until I broke them up intentionally. I would love nothing more than to stuff them with mushrooms, spinach and onions next time! Mmmm...
I had a fun time eating these VeganEggs with a nutritious vegan breakfast of a baked sweet potato, sauteed baby kale, and two slices of toast slathered with vegan butter and persimmon jam. Oh, I made some coffee too in my V60! ;)
Since I don't eat a full breakfast too often, I like to go a little nuts when I make it at home. I figured this was a special occasion, so why not?
In short, I absolutely recommend the VeganEgg. I haven't used it for any other purpose except scrambling, but that was enough to sell me! Don't be surprised to see new posts coming soon of baked goods, quiche, frittatas, omelettes, or anything else you could possibly do with eggs. I'm headed deep into vegan egg land and I don't expect to come back until I've explored every corner of it!
Happy breakfasting, everyone! If you have any suggestions as to what I should make next with the VeganEgg, let me know! I'm down for it all.
Happy New Year!
What is my resolution this year? Well, I certainly want to post more often. That was my resolution last year and I definitely succeeded! I'd like to try to top myself this year and try to post even more often. I also want to try to vary my recipes a little more. I did make a lot of cookies this year, by the way. I think it's time to move on. I mean, I'll still make cookies, but just not as many. ^_^'
I usually have a New Year's promise every year to be more healthy. I think I've over done this in the past, however. I tried to be "healthy" by eating more raw foods a couple years ago. I tried to be about 75% raw every day and mostly succeeded. However, my body was not happy. The way I ate was doing a number on my digestive system. I just couldn't handle the amount of raw foods I was eating. I was also eating far too much sugar.
Now that I know what types of foods agree with my body and how much of them to eat, being healthy is a breeze! I haven't felt better in a very long time. I eat what I want for the most part, not too much though, and I drink plenty of water and tea. I use vitamin supplements to keep my health as optimal at possible. I also try to cook simple dishes at home using seasonal ingredients. I try to keep my sugar intake down as much as possible.
That's all I do! I always shake my head when I think about all the time I wasted "dieting" and "cleansing". I felt worse when I wanted to feel better. I think that I've found a way to make things that I want while also making them more healthful and balanced . If you don't consume too much of anything, you won't try to compensate by adding or eliminating anything else! Makes sense, right?
The most flavorful part of these pancakes is the chocolate hazelnut butter drizzle for the top. This is where the bulk of fat and sugar comes from, so use this as much or as little as you'd like to control the sweetness.
I used Justin's chocolate hazelnut butter, which is an all-natural alternative to the very popular yet junky Nutella. Nutella is definitely just frosting that is posing as hazelnut butter. What a strange thing, right?
Well, fear not! If you have a craving for something delicious, creamy and full of chocolate flavor, whip up these pancakes for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert! They're small, so sharing is optional. ;)
Chocolate Hazelnut Pancakes
Yield: approx 6-2" round pancakes
Free of: Gluten, Refined Sugar*
Here's to a healthy and delicious 2016!
This is my very first food blog! I post revised conventional recipes of foods that I hold near and dear to my heart. My cooking here is all gluten-free and cruelty-free, but full of flavor and comfort.