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A Can of Pumpkin

3 Oct

There are so many things I love about this time of year.  Cooler weather, comforting foods, the holidays on the horizon, and of course, the infamous duo, pumpkin and spices.  I admit, I was a Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte lover for a very long time, but what a shame, there’s dairy in it even if you order soy, no whip.

Lattes aside, we’re currently experiencing unseasonably warm weather here in SoCal, and it’s depressing.  100+ degrees when I’m already nostalgic enough for falling leaves?  Get me out of here.  So I’ve been doing my best to tap into what I love about this time of year while fighting to keep cool.  Chocolate-Covered Katie saw into my sad soul and posted a recipe for a pumpkin spice frappuccino, totally healthy and of course, vegan.

My favorite canned pumpkin, Farmer’s Market. Organic and no BPA!

I’ve always been nervous of recipes that call for anything less than a can of pumpkin.  How am I going to use the rest?  Will it go to waste?  Now I can only laugh at the notion of not knowing what to do with delicious pumpkin – you eat it, duh!

I popped open a can and managed to whip up 5 different things throughout the week.  This is what a can of pumpkin can buy you:

1. Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino (CCK)

2.Two servings of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin (CCK)

3. Toasty Pumpkin Chickpea Fritters (Happy. Healthy. Life.)

4. A smoothie made from almondmillk, frozen banana, a tablespoon of pumpkin, and a packet of Starbucks VIA Pumpkin Spice (which I don’t recommend spending your hard earned money on).

5. One serving of Pumpkin Pie Smoothie (Oh She Glows)

There are a bunch of vegan pumpkin spice latte recipes that I meant to try, but it just didn’t cool down enough to justify.  Maybe by November?!  Here’s hoping.  All of you living in cooler climate (JEALOUS) should swap one of these smoothies for a latte and check out this recipe from Happy. Healthy. Life.: Pumpkin Spice Latte.  Or have Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal from CCK!  Seriously, just eat every delicious, warm pumpkin thing you can get your hands on and rub it in my face.

Never again will I wonder how to use a half a cup of pumpkin.  I’ll be too busy eating it.

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Mocha Smoothie

20 Sep

ImageSeptember in Los Angeles is just too damn hot.  When I’ve made my money and have the luxury of choosing my own schedule, you better believe that I will be on the East Coast from 9/1-9/30.  Nothing makes me more homesick than craving a change in season and instead being forced to reckon with 100 degrees, or getting sunburnt walking to and from the car.  I mean, really.

This is the time of year I should be bringing out sweaters, baking pumpkin bread, and sipping a latte without risk of breaking out into a sweat.  I want to be comforted by warmth, not suppressed by it.  Goddamnit, sun!

Okay, so all this rage really stems from me wanting a cup of coffee this morning and not being able to have it because my apartment is a furnace.  We get the rising sun so mornings are bright, which is nice, but so hot, we’re covered in sweat by 8AM.  I wandered into my kitchen, slightly delirious, and wondered, “What can wake me up, cool me down, and not taste disgusting?”

I should note here that I am usually adverse to sweet frozen coffee concoctions, due to their association in my mind to Starbucks’ “Frappucinno.”  That stupid, stupid store only uses sweetened vanilla soymilk, so even a tall frappe has enough sugar to bring on diabetes instantaneously.  Gross.

But here I was, in my kitchen, needing something.  A guest of mine had left Starbucks VIA instant coffee packets, another item that usually turns my stomach, but I’m not one to waste caffeine.  The wheels began to turn.

Mocha Smoothie
makes 1

1/2 cup unsweetened almondmilk
1/2 cup Silk Light Chocolate soymlk
1 medium frozen banana
1 packet of Starbucks VIA Colombia medium instant coffee
1/8 tsp cinnamon

In a measuring cup or bowl, stir milks until homogeneous in color.  Place frozen banana and instant coffee into blender.  Pour milks overtop and add a dash of cinnamon (about 1/8 tsp).  Blend on high until smooth.

It was love at first sip.  Sweetened only by the chocolate soymilk and banana, coffee was the predominate flavor, just the way I like it.  Instead of being icy and watered down, this was rich and creamy, filling enough for breakfast.  This is perfect if you’re on the run but usually need food and a cup of coffee to get your day started.

This is going into my morning rotation until the temperature finally cools off enough to enjoy a proper latte while curled on my couch, under a blanket.  At this rate, it’s going to be a while.

Cacao Fig Smoothie

7 Sep

I just had the loveliest smoothie that really embodies what September means to me – celebration (my birthday month!), change, and comfort. Early fall is the last hurrah for fresh figs, and yet it’s their time to shine. A touch of raw cacao compliments the earthy fruit perfectly, and I can believe I’m having a decadent treat when I swirl it all together.

Image

Cacao Fig Smoothie
serves 1

1 cup vanilla soymilk
6 figs, halved
1/2 frozen banana
1 tsp raw cacao
1 tsp maca (optional)

Blend ingredients together on high until smooth.

Food for Finals

19 Apr

Don’t you love the end of the semester?  Everyone is just so happy and pleasant and definitely not addicted to caffeine….

*CRASH*

I have consumed more coffee in the past few weeks than I think I have in my entire life.  I cannot wait to get off the junk and back to my tea, but finals is not the time to deal with withdrawal symptoms.  I’ve been making the rounds, and can honestly say, if you want the best latte of your life, head to Bricks & Scones on Larchmont and get “The Norma.”  It’s made with almondmilk, doesn’t taste like diabetes, and digests like a DREAM.  No upset stomach to speak of.  Apparently they serve LAMILL?  Amazing.  The soy latte at Peet’s is also a contender, since it’s not sweet, but it’s still fairly acidic.   Opt for Norma.

Moo Shu Veggies

I haven’t had the energy to play around in the kitchen lately, but I did manage to make Moo Shu Veggies from Chef Chloe‘s new cookbook, Chloe’s Kitchen.  She is SO CUTE, I can’t stand it.  The book is filled with a whole range of recipes, from comfort food to light and healthy, from fancypants to weeknight dinners.  I simplified the moo shu by opting not to make my own pancakes, and instead using packaged tortillas.  Not authentic, but still good!  I also used a coleslaw mix to avoid having to chop cabbage and carrots.  With those two cheats, the moo shu came together with ease, and I’ve been enjoying delicious leftovers for a week – it’s been keeping just fine!  It’s so easy to reheat on the skillet and assemble, I’m able to eat a healthy and filling meal between running to class and getting projects finished.  So if you’re in the throes of finals like me, take some time to cook on Sunday, and eat all week without a care in the world.  Pretty good trade off.

So yeah, I’ve been subsisting off moo shu and take-out vegetable curry leftovers for the past week, but the end is in sight.

Fried Udon Noodles

4 Mar

One of my favorite food books is Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet.  I remember being 10 years old and totally inspired by her commitment to animals, especially shelter dogs.  Seeing how much she’s done in the past 15 years is truly remarkable, and she continues to inspire me to do better and be kinder.  Her book is the perfect starter’s guide or refresher course to veganism, and it includes some awesome recipes, from decadent peanut butter cups to win over skeptics, to deliciously simple macrobiotic dishes that heal you from the inside out.

I’m decidedly not in the totally health conscious vegan camp at the moment, though I need to work on that as my wedding looms closer.  I still have to pour creamy dressing over greens to get my salad on, and there’s been a sale at Whole Food’s on Coconut Bliss ice cream that I’ve taken advantage of more than once.  Is it better than dairy ranch and dairy ice cream?  Yes!  But I’m no “superhero,” as Silverstone refers to eaters of her macrobiotic recipes.

But there’s one recipe of her’s that’s totally won me over, that’s both decadent AND macrobiotic: fried udon noodles (page 229).  It’s simple to prepare, and it is so delicious you’ll smack yourself.  You’ll have to buy the book to get the recipe, but I can share how I’ve altered it to make it even easier.

Fried Udon Noodles: best of both worlds

1. Instead of dry noodles, I use Annie Chun’s Organic Japanese-Style Udon FreshPak Noodles. You spend a little more time stir frying them to fall apart naturally (do not force them apart!), but you save at least 20 minutes waiting for water to boil and cooking dry noodles.

2. I use 2/3 smoky sweet paprika, 1/3 hungarian paprika, to give it a little more flavor than just straight up sweet paprika.

3. Yellow onions are so freaking yum here.

4. I recently started using Organic Emperor’s Kitchen Chopped Garlic, and I might be a convert. I used to scoff at people who used garlic from a jar, knowing how easy it was just to throw a few cloves into a mini food processor, but since mine’s on the fritz, I’ve traveled to the dark side.  It certainly saves you a prepping step and has this dish come together even faster! Just make sure your jar of garlic isn’t hiding any gross ingredients like high fructose corn syrup – it’s been known to happen.

5. Throw in whatever vegetable bits you have in the fridge to make this dish your own. Not pictured here, but I love using mushrooms when I have them around!

It takes some time for everything to cook, but due to the minimized prep, it feels super easy and doesn’t daunt me even when I’m tired on a weeknight.  If you’re interested in being kinder, whether to yourself, your family, the earth, or the animals, check out The Kind Diet and get inspired.

Smoothie Time!

9 Feb

Earlier, you’ve read my post on the beauty of Glowing Green Smoothies.  But while greens are wonderful, there’s a whole world of blended delicacies to explore!  And explore I did, because I severely burnt the roof of my mouth on Buffalo “Chicken” Dip during the Super Bowl and could only consume liquids for days.  These delicious smoothies gave my VitaMix a workout and got me through without killing my soul.

1. Rainforest Smoothie

Rainforest Smoothie (picture from kimberlysnyder.net)

The creator of the GGS, Kimberly Snyder, has a variety of smoothies up her sleeve, and this is by far my favorite.  It’s so simple but satisfies my chocolate tooth and keeps me full for a long time.  Exact instructions can be found on her website, but I just make it with an açai packet, unsweetened almondmilk, cacao powder, a few drops of liquid stevia, and half an avocado.  I also add a half tablespoon of chia seeds sometimes, for the extra Omega-3s and iron.

2. Chocolate Cake Batter Smoothie

Chocolate Cake Batter Smoothie (picture from ohsheglows.com)

Sometimes I just want to eat my sorrows with cake, but I almost never should.  I was feel supremely crappy about my mouth burn, but turned to Angela Liddon of ohsheglows.com to turn my frown upside down, and smile I did.  I made a few substitutions based on what I had in my kitchen.  I chose Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Rolled Oats, a tablespoon of cacao, a few drops of stevia, left ouf the ice cubes, and used a tablespoon of almond butter.  Apparently, if you REALLY want it to taste like cake batter, you gotta go with cashew butter, but mine tasted absolutely decadent all the same.  I ran the nutrition, and while this isn’t a light smoothie by any means, it still manages to be a power house of nutrition.  My version was 462 calories, 20.9g of fat, 623.9mg of potassium, 14.7g of fibers, 14.2 g of proteins, and 11.% Vitamin A, 18.2% Vitamin C, 31.5% calcium, and 27.8% iron.  Pretty sexy for cake batter!  Even better, it kept me full for HOURS, and gave me lots of energy to tackle my day.

3. Iron Woman Gingerbread Smoothie

Iron Woman Gingerbread Smoothie (picture from ohsheglows.com)

Yes, another decadent smoothie from ohsheglows! I promise I was drinking green smoothies, too, but drinkable gingerbread is hard to pass up.  It turned out a little too strong for my tastes – I went with the whole two tablespoons of molasses instead of first testing the waters with one – but the nutrition value to sucking it down was well worth it.  330 calories, 2144.2mg of potassium, 9.7g of fiber, 5.4g of protein, 50.1% calcium, and 42.4% iron.  WOW.  The only time I think I get more iron than this is when I eat injera.  I’m definitely going to continue to incorporate molasses in my diet, just in smaller amounts more frequently.

4. Cafe Gratitude’s “I AM COOL”

Don’t I look cool, sipping on I AM COOL?

This is DEFINITELY more like a milkshake than a smoothie, but Cafe Gratitude still manages to make this crazy amazing shake almost healthy with the inclusion of Vitamineral Green.  I’ve always wanted to try this lovely concoction, but the $9 price tag kept me away until I literally could consume nothing else but liquids.  Suddenly, it was just like buying lunch.  If you love mint chocolate chip ice cream, you have GOT to try this.  It sent me straight to heaven, and I rarely if ever choose mint chocolate chip ice cream over, say, cookie dough or chocolate hazelnut.  It’s totally divine and worth the price of admission.

5. Miso Soup

My massive mug of miso soup. Yay, alliteration!

While waiting for my mouth to heal, I didn’t constantly crave sugar and chocolate, despite what this post suggests.  Miso soup is definitely not a smoothie, but if you’re ever in a similar situation where you can’t have solid foods or anything too hot, this is how I navigated dinner time.  You’re not supposed to boil miso, and if you leave the bits like seaweed and tofu out, you get to skip the boiling all together, allowing you to control what temperature you want your soup.  I stirred in about 1.5Tbsp of red miso into two cups of very warm water, let it dissolve, season with a couple dashes of mirin and tamari, then poured it into a big mug.  If you don’t have tamari, soy sauce works fine, I just usually avoid adding gluten when it’s unnecessary.  Allow it to cool until you can comfortable put your hands around the mug, then cozy up on the sofa and sip your supper.  It’s comforting, nutritious, low calorie, and fills you up.

I would never in a million years give up solid food by choice (juice fast, master cleanse, NO WAY), but I enjoyed the opportunity to explore healthy and delicious smoothies.  Fun fact – during those three days, I had double the recommended about of fiber, tons of protein, lots of potassium, and had no trouble meeting my nutritional needs, while most days I plan dinner around what vitamin I’ve missed out on during the day.  There’s definitely something to be said for including smoothies into your life!

Color Me Green

3 Feb

Never in my life did I imagine I’d one day enjoy green smoothies, because nothing sounds appealing about lettuce and celery blended.  But the crazy beautiful nutritionist Kimberly Snyder changed all that for me with her Glowing Green Smoothie recipe and her promises that it tasted sweet and delicious.  Okay, I’ll bite.

My Glowing Green Smoothie

I’ve been making this baby for over a year, and find when I stop for a while, I miss the burst of nutrients and energy in the morning.  I actually just ended a two month hiatus, as my CSA box lately has been root vegetables and not so many leafy greens.  I was totally inspired when my box came yesterday with romaine, kale, celery, cilantro, and tangelos.  Perfect for smoothie making!

I highly recommend following Kimberly’s recipe to start, which will give you a better feel of what the proportions should be, but once you get the hang of it, go crazy!  Today I chopped up a head of romaine, 6 big dinosaur kale leaves (torn from the stem), 4 stalks of celery, a pink lady apple, a tangelo, a frozen banana, a handful of cilantro, and the juice of one lemon.  Behold!  A green smoothie that totally glows.

I have Kimberly’s book, The Beauty Detox Solution, and it’s filled with great nutrition advice that’s inherently vegan (though has options to help omnis lean into it).  It’s a little intense – no gluten, no soy – but all of her recipes are delicious and her advice is sound.  In the months leading up to my wedding, I can definitely see myself getting gung-ho about it, but in the meantime, I’m a happy dabbler and enjoy the occasional smoothie.