My culinary Christmas!

Hey everyone! Hope you enjoyed the holiday!

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I know I certainly did.

First matter of business: I need to share pictures of all the delicious food I ate. You can access the links to the recipes if you want them in the post directly before this about my menu!

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Vegan Raw Cheeseball!

Uh, this was the best. It was addictingly good. I’m pretty sure I’m never going to make this again without being able to give it to someone else…because I seriously devoured most of it wayyyy too fast and now I am slightly mad at myself about that. But happy it’s gone because…it is…way too good. This recipe deserves the best rating, by far!

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Om. NOM.

ImageMy dinner. Thanksgiving Veggie Burgers and Brussels Sprouts.

Really good but the burger recipe was slightly over-hyped. I think it’d be better with more dried or fresh cranberries in it. Still pretty amazing though. And for the Brussels Sprouts, that’s seriously my favorite recipe for them. Even my Dad who has been afraid to eat Brussels Sprouts since he was a kid ate and enjoyed them!

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Dessert! Truffles! So rich and tasty!

On to the presents!

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As you can sort of see here, I got some cooking and workout stuff! I got the new Isa Does It cookbook which I immediately opened and started to drool over. I was surprised with Canoe pans and a way to insert the cream filling so I can make vegan twinkie like desserts! A spiralizer device for making all kinds of interesting raw veggie pastas, and such! I also got headphones I can run with without them falling out of my ears, an iPod sport armband for the same purposes. 2 pairs of leggings, the Hyperbole and a Half comic book, and some stocking items, like Urban Decay eyeliner, 2 canisters of my favorite nutritional yeast (Red Star), super cute socks, a magazine, and other things I now forget, oops! 😉 I feel spoiled.

Oh, I also got a gift card to Amazon! I got some cool things already ordered, including No Meat Athlete which I’ll be really excited to share my thoughts and reviews on it once I read it!

Okay, I’ll be writing a bit more next week! Enjoy!

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My Xmas Menu!

Well, this holiday is coming way too fast for me.

I was going to submit a second recipe to Earth Balance’s Holiday Bake-Off Contest but ended up forgetting today was the last day! Woops. Oh well, that just means when I make the recipe I was planning on making that it can be posted here with no issues. The recipe I did submit was a gingerbread whoopie pie…unfortunately I can’t share the recipe because of the contest rules (plus I haven’t quite perfected the texture yet…hmmm…oops, probably not going to win…)

My family usually has a pretty low key Christmas. I will probably be making some waffles for everyone for breakfast (the non-vegan family members are actually excited about something I make, and apparently it’s the waffles!).

Then I will be making a vegan cheese ball with veggies and crackers for an appetizer. Recipe I’m using: here 

For my dinner I will make Thanksgiving Burgers from theppk.

My grandmother requested I make her some brussels sprouts so I am making a recipe from the Student’s Go Vegan cookbook (the recipe has maple syrup, toasted pecans and carrots) which you can check out on Amazon

For dessert (since I don’t want to eat too much for dessert haha) I am making chocolate coffee truffles. The recipe is here.

So if you celebrate Christmas, this is probably my last post until then! So Merry Christmas in advance (I may actually post the day of with actual pictures of my food!).

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I asked for a lot of food related gift items too so hopefully I can post about those then too! Yay!

My favorite new cookbook! Betty Goes Vegan by Annie and Dan Shannon!

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Me with my favorite new cookbook

First of all, I have been so busy with finals that I have not had time to write any entries until now. However I managed to finish everything for this semester tonight! I have taken all my exams, and as of 6:30 pm finished the last of 3 or so papers I had to write.Go me!

In honor of this momentous feat, I treated myself to cooking an amazing sounding dinner from my newest cookbook in the collection. Betty Goes Vegan by Annie and Dan Shannon, which happens to be VEGAN CHICK’N AND WAFFLES!! (on page 38, it’s actually titled “Baked Vegan Chicken and Easy Waffles.”

It was as amazing as it should be, as perfect as I had hoped. It blew me away. It was pretty much in my stomach faster than I would have liked, that’s how good it was.

You’ll need a waffle iron for this recipe though…and access to Gardein Chick’n Scallopini…but if you have the recipe and these two things, I HIGHLY recommend you try it.

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I mean, how can you resist it now?

I give this particular recipe 5 good bananas! But if I could I’d seriously give it 10 good ones!…

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I’ll probably be writing more about this cookbook in the future. I love it so far! I love the sheer volume of recipes (500), the ease in which every recipe I’ve made so far has come together, and the minimal use of utensils and dishes because I hardly have to do any dishes after I make these recipes. Which is rare, but I also tend to pick really complex recipes. The recipes are very simple but make it appear and taste like they are very complex. I love that about it.

The only criticism I would say I is that it relies too much on actual brand name foods and ingredients. I cannot find the creole seasoning it recommends anywhere near me. Luckily Gardein products are readily available for me. I do however wish there were base faux meat recipes for every recipe that needs fake meats, because it would be healthier (less processed and with better ingredients) but then again it would have been quite difficult to make 500 recipes and perfect the fake meat recipes for so many of them too. It would also detract from the simplicity of making all these recipes if you had to make the faux meats from scratch. So, I’m somewhat torn…

But yeah. I think despite the criticism I mentioned above, I’d still give this cookbook overall 5 good bananas!

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Yay!

Peppermint Patty Green Smoothie!

ImageI’m pretty sure this is not too unique of a recipe or idea. But I made it myself and it was so good (and simple!) that I wanted to share it here (though I already shared it on the Banana Curl, Vegan Girl Facebook page).

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 1 whole banana (broken up into smaller chunks)
  • 3 mint leaves
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp vegan unflavored protein powder
  • Liquid stevia to taste
  • Peppermint extract (just a tiny amount, probably less than 1/8 tsp)
  • Ice (2 handfuls but use whatever amount you want)

Directions:

Blend all ingredients in a full size blender. Depending on your blender’s strength and other factors, you may need to scrape down the sides halfway through blending. 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

This is a non food related post. It’s about my personal transformation in many ways

Awhile ago, I was having a conversation with a friend whom I had not talked to in a long time, but we are friends with each other on facebook. She said, “this is your year.”

I told her I didn’t want just this year to be my year.

I actually think this next calendar year will be even better! I have a lot planned for it. But really, I think each year can get better and better, considering all the things I have accomplished this year, and how much my attitude and mindset has changed!

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In 2013, starting in April (I’m not one to care about new year type things really, I need more personal reasons to make change in myself), I have gone from being very unhealthy with my food choices, to being a conscious, healthy (with unhealthy vegan food in moderation, which I personally feel is important) vegan. I have lost 65 pounds. I have made working out a routine. I have tackled many of my fears, for example, being afraid to run, math, making up my own recipes, etc. I have started this blog and though I don’t write in it as much as I’d like to or as much about what I want to write about, I keep up with it and do it. I have even improved my health in measurable ways, like my hemoglobin a1c levels, my bmi, my blood pressure, my cholesterol, and my iron levels (they were very low). I took on an important role in an organization I love and that empowers me and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy (Girls Rock). I have tried to make practice of being more creative and doing more awesome things. I am starting to work on having a better social life, something I’ve been neglecting to do for awhile.  I accidentally discovered a recipe I created two years ago was semi famous. And other awesome things I am forgetting or not putting a priority on.

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Next year though, I believe will be even better. I will graduate a college program, something I have been longing for a very long time but never quite achieved. That’s a big one for me. I would like to see if maybe I can win the contest to speak at my graduation, but that’s not something I can control the outcome of (I also think I might start bawling if I started to speak about all the things I’ve accomplished during my time in school. It’s one thing to write about it, but to speak it? heh). I will continue to write in this blog.  I plan to either start a new college program, or begin to work on my career goals. I will volunteer at an animal shelter (which I’m actually starting this year after finals hopefully). I will be a vegan for the longest stretch of time so far. I will continue to be a healthy person and have goals for that…including running a 5k by the time I turn 30 on my Birthday in October (or thereabouts), and starting to lift weights. I will have stronger relationships with my friends. Most importantly, everything about me will get stronger. My mind, body, everything.

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My mom and I! She’s a big supporter 😉

I am sharing this because maybe someone is reading my blog and is feeling badly about their ability to meet their goals, or get healthy, or change their bad habits, or whatever else. I want to inspire people, that’s my primary goal. Well, that and help as many people as possible. If 2013 is the year of the Laura and 2014 will be an even better year from what I can see and so on for the rest of my life, then other people can do the same thing! I don’t want to spew too many cliches. But really, believe me when I say that anything you put your mind to is possible.

Okay. Now here’s the part where I talk about what/who has helped me out when I thought I couldn’t do it. I’m not going to mention everything, but there are some clear, concise things I want to share that everyone can use if they want to.

Mostly it’s just support from other people. Like especially my mom, my aunt, my friends, mentors, doctors, etc.

Also myself, which I’ve already alluded to. Like really. It’s all about my mindset. I watch the Biggest Loser sometimes on tv, and I would tell myself I am my own biggest loser, as silly as it sounds. Actually it’s not really silly. It’s true. I did it without having to go on a tv show that’s actually pretty extreme and a last resort kind of thing. Or, I’ll be my own therapist sometimes, by anticipating the advice another person would give me, but instead it’s me giving myself actually helpful advice, and then just doing what the advice tells me I should do instead of waiting to feel bad I haven’t done it, or have someone else telling me to do it. Like today, I beat my own personal record for running. First of all, I walk and run in intervals, and I keep track of my progress with an app called Runkeeper. Usually I have been setting my activity to “walking” but today, I was like “okay I am going to run!” and set it to run. And I ran. I ran as far as I could for as long as I could, as fast as I could, until I needed to walk, and kept going for 45 minutes. Plus, I set a goal to run faster than my usual record when I was walking more. I wanted to go just under 13 min/mile. Instead, I ran 11:51 min/mile! I was proud and sort of in shock. But I am not surprised. If someone else could hear the awesome things I was telling myself while they were running, I bet they’d do just as well (considering some factors, of course).

Another final thing I want to mention, to make it more inline with the purpose of my blog which is spreading, sharing, and showing the awesomeness that comes with being a vegan is this facebook group I belong to. I really like to follow the work of Christy Morgan, author of the Blissful Bites cookbook, and awesome athlete/vegan educator extraordinaire. After commenting on one of her photos on instagram, she asked me if I belonged to her vegan ladies who lift facebook group. I was hesitant because I don’t think I am ready to be lifting weights quite yet, but she still encouraged me to join. And it’s one of my favorite vegan facebook groups! It is so supportive and everyone there is awesome. Not only do I get inspired by so many other strong vegan ladies, but I can also inspire others there. And it’s very informative and just…really cool for lack of a better description. So, I highly recommend it if you’re a vegan lady and interested in also getting stronger.

Okay, well, sorry this isn’t about food this time! But I hope this is just as tasty a read as any of my other entries. And I hope you were inspired in some way from my story. Here’s to having each year be the year of us for a very long time!

 

My own vegan brownie recipe!

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i have been very picky with vegan brownie recipes. Honestly, I haven’t found a good enough recipe and I’ve tried a lot. So, I decided to take the plunge and create my own. I really had no idea how it would turn out and got so nervous…I decided to try making plain brownies before I try to make them fancier for a secret recipe I’m currently working on for an Earth Balance baking contest. I decided once I made these that they’ll do the trick for that purpose, and wanted to share the recipe now for just the brownies, because I think they did come out pretty good for vegan brownies. My mom has a family recipe she uses that aren’t vegan, and I looked at that to get some ideas, but her recipe has way too many eggs to be able to veganize, as well as way too much margarine for my liking.

So here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup vegan white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp flaxmeal
  • 6 tbsp water
  • 1 stick (8 tbsp, or 1/2 cup equivalent) earth balance margarine, melted
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup non-dairy milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix dry ingredients (except flaxmeal) in a bowl together.
  3. Make 2 flaxmeal “eggs” by whisking the 2 tbsp flaxmeal and 6 tbsp water together. Let sit until thick.
  4. Mix flaxmeal “eggs” and the rest of the wet ingredients into the dry. It should have a runny yet thick consistency.
  5. Place in a baking dish sprayed with oil.
  6. Bake brownies for 20-30 minutes. I recommend after 20 minutes starting to check with a toothpick inserted into the middle until it comes out clear every five minutes and adjusting the time if it seems it will be done in less than 5. I find that ovens can vary drastically from oven to oven, so I want to make sure it works for you and say this! 🙂
  7. Take out of the oven when done. Let sit until cooled most of the way or fully, and slice, and enjoy!