Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Green Monster Breakfast Cookie

I don't think I need to inform anyone about the Green Monster phenomenon that has been circling the blog world. Its come to the point where greens for breakfast are just commonplace. And that's a good thing. But I do have to say that I really enjoy having food to chew. A smoothie will fill my belly, but I always find that something is missing.

So I find myself back at the breakfast cookie. I have posted a few variations in the past, like Banana Walnut and Carrot Cake, and I've been making them again recently. My only problem is that they were decidedly "un-green". I swiped some spirulina this weekend though (that makes it sound like I stole it...I didn't), and now they are just as green as your kale smoothie.

its the tiny bag in the center, left of the bulk cacao nibs and above the butterscotch chips

These are chock full of nutrients, protein, healthy fat, and whole grains; have texture and take time to enjoy; are kind of sort of raw-ish; and are just such an awesome way to start the day!

Green Monster Breakfast Cookies

1 banana, either blended or melted
2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
6 Tbsp liquid sweetener (agave, maple syrup, brown rice syrup)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp spirulina powder
1/2 cup ground flax meal
1/4 cup cacao nibs
1/4 cup grated carrot (about 6 baby carrots)
1 cup protein powder
1 cup old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup raisins

Acquire all ingredients. After that its really easy. Mix all the wet ingredients (banana counts as wet, it should be either blended up with the other wet ingredients) into a big bowl. Then add each ingredient, one at a time, in order, until fully incorporated. Form into cookies*, and refrigerate. I make 8 cookies and for me, this is 4 servings.

Serves 4
Nutrition Information: 556.6 Calories; 18.6g Total Fat; 8.4g Saturated Fat; 0.0mg Cholesterol; 76.7g Carbohydrates; 12.7g Fiber; 25.4g Protein.

It might be less for you, I rely on these to take me through a good long part of my day. This is a decent sized recipe, and could easily make 5 servings, just make 10 cookies that are a little smaller.

Serves 5
Nutrition Information: 445.3 Calories; 14.9g Total Fat; 6.7g Saturated Fat; 0.0mg Cholesterol; 61.4g Carbohydrates; 10.2g Fiber; 20.3g Protein

*One little tip for forming these into cookies, is to coat your hands with some vegetable oil (I use sunflower oil). These can be pretty sticky, but they lose their stickiness after being in the fridge for awhile, making them perfectly portable (I often stick them in my pocket on my way to the car).

I am always happy on the first morning of a new batch of breakfast cookies. They don't need to be refrigerated, so the day they're made I eat them immediately, pleased with success, and the fact that I have a healthy filling breakfast ready for the next three days.

Any suggestions for breakfast cookie varieties? I'm always looking for something new to do with them. I've had some successes, that I have posted above and recently made some Zucchini Raisin Cookies that came out pretty well. I've also had some not-so-successful batches, including a tropical variety and a chocolate mint. You can tell they weren't as good because they didn't get formal capitalized names, haha. Anyway, let me know if you have a suggestion, I want to know!!

Enjoy the rest of the week!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Let's Talk About Lips

Its the perfect time of year for it, this confession I have to make: I love chapstick.

Not lip gloss, not lipstick or stain or anything like that. Just chapstick. Although I suppose that is really the brand name, and what I really mean is that I love lip balm.

There, now that the semantics are all out of the way, my bare naked unbridled confession is out.

I love lip balm.

And I hate Chap Stick.

My true love for lip balm was realized yesterday. While visiting my parents this weekend, I went and visited my favorite natural food store with my mom. As we looked over the lip balms and I chose one to buy, she asked me how I liked the ones she had bought me for Christmas. I like them. Very much. I have been using them every day. Every day. She bought 6. But apparently I needed more.

The lip balm my mom bought me for Christmas is amazing. Called Crazy Rumors, it comes in a huge array of flavors, and it doesn't get soft if I leave it in my pocket (which can happen with some vegan lip balm), which I like to do at work.

She gave me the Fresh Squeezed line, which includes my favorite flavor for almost everything, Lime, as well as Orange Juice and Grapefruit. I also have the Brew flavor pack, with flavors like Spiced Chai, Lemongrass Peppermint, and Orange Burgemot.


All the flavors are amazing. I rotate them every week or so. And they all tout a little affirmation that they are indeed cruelty free and vegan. How could it get better than that?

Well yesterday I was struck by nostalgia. In middle school, I bought an oversized lip balm from Bath and Body Works in a peppermint flavor. I like the tingle of peppermint. I had it for years, and it probably got the ax when I moved to Hawaii after college. So, when I saw this oversized peppermint vegan lip balm, I had to buy it. They had a smaller one, but I wasn't interested in that. I knew I didn't need it, but for the aforementioned reason I had to have it.


Slightly softer than the Crazy Rumors, this Out of Africa lip balm is pure peppermint bliss. When my lips are seriously chapped, I live for that medicinal mint tingle, and this delivers.

This doesn't mean I've thrown my older lip balms aside because of these new amazing finds. I still keep my Giving Earth lip balm in my wallet all the times.

I have this one in grapefruit too, which I've talked about before. Its been a year, but I still can't find a website for them! You can find them at some Borders, and its hit of miss, but if you find them, they're worth it. Definitely the softest of the bunch and not the best to keep in your pocket, they're still super yummy.

Do you have a favorite lip balm? Do you use vegan lip balm, or are you okay with mainstream lip balm?

So I just did a lot of explaining about lip balms I love, but gave no explanation as to why I hate Chap Stick. I mean the brand, of course, and thats because it not vegan. I know there is debate about beeswax being vegan, although I'm not sure why. But even if you're okay with that, it still contains lanolin. I don't buy it and I don't use it. If you do, that's your thing, and thats fine. But there are some really awesome alternatives!

All of these lip balms are shea butter based. They contain a number of other natural oils, from jojoba oil to olive oil to macadamia nut oil. Along with natural extracts, they're pretty good for your lips, and your body.

There is a reason I keep referring to these as flavors and not scents too. I heard on the radio the other day that Dr. Oz estimated most women ingest over 7 lbs of lip balm in their lifetime. Now I'm not a huge Dr. Oz follower, and granted, it is over many years, but if you are going to be eating something, shouldn't it be top notch? I can't say I feel even a little squeamish about eating natural oils. And opposed to petroleum jelly, shea butter is perfectly safe to eat. Come on, treat yourself to the good stuff!

So, what would you rather put on your lips? What is your favorite lip balm flavor? I hope all of you in the north have some nice lip balm to go and enjoy the cold weather with!

*I swear, none of these companies contacted me, paid me, or gave me coupons or samples, I just really love their lip balm!*


Friday, February 19, 2010

Vega Winner!

Its that time again! Time to pick a winner! I have to say, I'm really glad that Vega is doing the mailing this time because I am terrible at getting to the post office. I know it sounds silly, but I honestly just don't live or work near one.

Anyway, congrats our winner of this awesome giveaway by Sequel Naturals:


Many thanks to everyone who entered, and definitely give the bars a try. I do have to say that I preferred the original out of the two that I tried, but they do have them in chocolate too!

Gabriela, I will get in touch with you and get all of your information for the people at Sequel.

Have a great weekend everyone!! And thanks for the tips on what you do when you're not feeling so great, I'm doing a lot better!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sniffles

::Sniffle::

So I've been sick the past few days, and don't have much to post about, but I did want to update to let you guys know that a winner for the Vega Vibrancy Bar Giveaway will be chosen this Friday, February 19!


Be sure to get your comments in on the Giveaway Post (not this post, please!), and link back if you'd like a second entry! Sorry I forgot to post the end date when I originally posted the giveaway.

What do you do when you're sick? Do you ever take medication? I always try and wait as long as possible to take something, but its hard with having to stand at work all day.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Vibrancy - Giveaway!

I haven't talked a lot about this yet, but I've been taking a Mysore Ashtanga class about three times a week. If you are unfamiliar, it is essentially the primary series of Ashtanga, self-led, with the teacher adding on pieces as you are ready until it is completed. I love it. I also love that I go first thing in the morning, because I walk away from it feeling so alive, peaceful, and vibrant, and ready to make my way through the day. If you follow me on twitter at all, I've been updating here and there, and I have working on standing up from my backbends. I am proud to say, I have got it down. Or up... Either way, I am dropping back and standing up unassisted. I am totally thrilled!

Along with that Mysore class adding some vibrancy to my life, I was lucky enough to be gifted from the lovely people at Sequel Naturals with some of their new Vibrancy bars.

The first big draw is the full name of the bar Whole Food Vibrancy Bar. I love doing product reviews for Vega because I know that they really focus on pure, whole, good foods, and these bars are no exception. In fact, this is what they had to say about them:

Each Vega Vibrancy bar features:

  • Sprouts galore – Sprouts are like the express bus to nutrition. The sprouting process converts complex carbs into simple carbs, protein into amino acids, and fat into fatty acids, meaning your body doesn’t have to produce its own enzymes for digestion. Plus the nutrients are in a usable, highly digestible form. With 17.5g of sprouts, Vibrancy Bars have more sprouted ingredients than any other bar on the market.
  • Raw protein – Packed with 10g of plant-based protein from sprouted buckwheat, hemp seeds, sprouted almonds, brown rice and pea protein.
  • Fiber, fiber, fiber – With 20% of your daily recommended intake, Vega Vibrancy bars have 5g of soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber slows the release of carbs into the bloodstream, helping control insulin levels, prolong energy, and gives you feeling of fullness, signaling that hunger mechanism to shut off. Insoluble fiber is important in terms of digestive health and cleansing by ensuring toxins don’t build up and spread to the bloodstream.

Now, I know some of people have reservations about Vega. Maybe you've tried their whole food powders, maybe you've just heard, but they can be less than pleasant. I've found that the key to their protein powders is adding some fruit to it. Luckily, these bars don't need anything.

They're not too sweet, so they do have a bit of a "healthy" taste, but they also have a nice crunch from the buckwheat crispies in there, and they're just full of so much good stuff that I feel good about eating them. They can be a bit on the pricey side, but with all the goodness packed inside of them, they're definitely a worthwhile on the go treat.

I've done a few giveaways and reviews, and I have to say that the people at Vega are always so wonderful to work with. They're always friendly, they always check up to make sure I got the package because my building is terrible about letting me know when I have something waiting for me, and every once in awhile, they offer a giveaway for my readers too!

So, one of you will be the recipient of a Vega Vibrancy Bar prize pack from the people at Sequel.
The entry format is the same as always, minus tweeting...I just don't dig it:
To Enter:
1. Just leave a comment on here and you will be entered!
2. If you are really motivated and want another chance, give a mention to the giveaway on your blog.
OR
3. If you don't have a blog and want another chance, get someone else to comment, mentioning that you told them about the giveaway.

Good luck!! These bars are definitely worth a try. There are plenty of whole food bars out there, but I feel like these have the most goodness packed inside of them!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Vegan Cheesesteak Stromboli



A few years ago, I had a little recipe exchange with a friend I had met online. She saw a picture from my bridal shower and saw that we had the same recipe basket, so we exchanged a few cards. I know she got my family's Blueberry Buckle recipe, and one of the recipes I got from her was for stromboli. I took note, because it was one of my husband's favorite things to order, but never got around to making it.

Now, of course, we are vegan, and I have recently made it a goal of mine to convert as many of those recipes that were given to me at my bridal shower into vegan recipes. A few weeks ago I thought I would try and veganize the stromboli. Easy and very unhealthy with Pillsbury canned pizza crust (I already said unhealthy, remember?), I bought Yves pepperoni, vegan cheese, veggies, and it never got made.

A few weeks ago I saw this product:

at the new Whole Foods I talked about earlier this week. By the way, I was very happy to hear that I was not the only one who was super excited about agave being on tap!!

Anyway, I was determined to make the picture on the front of the box. The caveat? I never buy bread like that. I just...don't. So that never got made either.

Today with my mind running wild due to the crazy weather that had been keeping us indoors, they came together and made a super delicious lunch that took less time than it would take you to wait in line at Pat's or Gino's for a cholesterol laden mess.

Vegan Cheesesteak Stromboli
1 can Pillsbury pizza crust
4 slices vegan cheese
1 package Protein Wise seitan, or another thinly sliced seitan or mock beef product
1 onion, sliced
cornmeal, for dusting
salt-free seasoning

This is as simple to make as that list of ingredients is:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Sautee an onion in a pan with non-stick spray. When golden and soft, add the seitan.
While the onion is cooking, sprinkle some cornmeal on a clean dry surface, and roll out the pizza dough, then cut into four rectangles.
Break up the cheese into slices and lay on dough, then mound the seitan and onion mixture in the middle of the dough.
Roll up, being sure to seal the ends, and transfer to a lightly oiled baking sheet.
Lightly spray the tops of the stromboli with cooking spray, then sprinkle with salt-free seasoning (we used Mrs. Dash Chipotle seasoning).
Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
We suggest dipping in ketchup.

Seriously, this is so good. Warm and familiar, cheesey and satisfying. You could clearly make it healthier by making your own whole wheat pizza dough, but then, if you're like me, you'll probably never get around to doing it.

We have had a TON of snow here, and its still going. I didn't have work today and we're already cancelled for tomorrow. Nick now has off until next week because of the holiday weekend. We're at our wits end a little, but I have had plenty of time to do some cooking and that I do love. What do you do when you're forced to stay home, for snow or for other reasons?

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Wholesomeness of Whole Foods

A brand new Whole Foods store opened near my job last month. There was already a Whole Foods just a few minutes from my apartment, but this one was huge, it was new, it was special. I had to go. And there I was on the opening day...

in. complete. awe.

It is gigantic, it has agave nectar and brown rice syrup on tap. There is a pub inside of it, and a prepared foods bar that rivals no other that I have seen.

That first day was kind of crazy, so I grabbed my favorite craving, the avocado sushi. But when I work full days I spend my lunch hour there, which is only once or twice a week...but I look forward to it all morning.

I have to tell you though, I feel a little guilty. It feels a little wrong, walking around this place which undeniably caters to vegans, and provides plenty of vegan options and products that are hard to find elsewhere; but also shamelessly supports the idea of the organic/humane/natural/grass-fed meat movement.

I know a lot of people who are into this movement. And I am not trying to offend any of them because I know many of them read my blog...and there are probably some who I don't even know read my blog. So my point, will be brief. Eating meat, no matter what kind, still perpetuates the demand for meat. I also know people who completely refuse to shop here altogether, and even protest it.

So what is a vegan to do? Whole Foods is so convenient, makes so easy to find vegan oddities, and frankly, has a delicious selection of prepared foods.

Vegan mac-and-cheese with maple mashed sweet potatoes and steamed veggies


Braised seitan with sage roasted veggies and squash, grilled asparagus, fennel orange salad, and steamed kale

It adequately filled our "junk food" craving this past weekend also:

Whole wheat pizza with LOTS of veggies

Raw macaroons. Yum.

For more information on the "humane meat myth", pop over here.

That being said, I am curious. What do you do? Even if you aren't vegan, I'm curious. I'm not a Whole Foods bunny, mainly because I think everyday things are too expensive, and I don't support their stance on meat. In fact, I am usually the first to suggest a local, non-chain, but there is only one around here, and it is painfully even more than Whole Foods. So I will buy things like umeboshi vinegar and vital wheat gluten; things I know I can't find at my grocery store.

I want to know your opinion. Vote!!
Wholly into Whole Foods?
I do all my shopping at Whole Foods
I don't live near a Whole Foods, but I would shop at one
I buy select items there I can't buy elsewhere
I refuse to shop at Whole Foods
Other
pollcode.com free polls

Stay tuned for later this week! I'm going to celebrate my 100th follower with a giveaway!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

McDougall And His Soup

First and foremost, I feel as though I owe the people at McDougall's foods a huge apology. They sent me one of the nicest box of samples I have ever received, and it has taken me until now to review it. Sorry guys. Thing is, I've been busy eating their soup.

It really is the perfect time of year for soup, and frankly, I don't really like making it, so the many boxes that graced my doorstep one November evening were a welcome addition to my kitchen.




This is the good stuff, not only because it comes in pretty boxes instead of cans, but its better for you. To show you why, I conducted a face off between the lentil soup and a can of lentil soup that has been migrating around my pantry for a few months.


The first thing you'd notice is that McDougall's is larger. However, they both contain two "servings" of soup. Check out the nutrition information:

Canned
The canned soup has more calories, more fat, more sodium, more sugar, less fiber, and less protein.
McDougall's

Don't get me wrong, it isn't exactly a low-sodium food, but it definitely has less than its canned counterparts without tasting like water. Oh, did I mention that yet? That it tastes good too?

I set out to tasting it right away, which was made convenient by the pristine white bowl they sent me.

Yes, we eat in front of the TV

I set out to trying the minestrone first, which has always been one of my favorites. I love the veggies along with the beans and the pasta...its just perfect. McDougall's version did not disappoint.

Please try to ignore the embarrassing background of the garbage/recycling

The next day I wanted more soup. With my pretty white bowl all dirty and in the dishwasher, I had to improvise and use one of my own green bowls. This time we went for black bean, with a few cubes of avocado for good measure.


Definitely try avocado in your soup, its a nice addition, especially for black bean. This soup was perfectly hearty and warm...what black bean soup is best known for.

While they didn't send me this, I also took the liberty of trying their instant soups at work one day, and it was another version of their black bean.


The flavor in this, was really good. I couldn't figure out what it was at first, then I remembered that it was black and and lime. Definitely had a lime-y-ness to it. Unfortunately, soup was just not made to be powdered and instant. It was okay, but it just didn't come together completely. Bits were still crunchy, and it there was goopiness at the bottom even though I mixed throughout eating it. Not bad in a pinch, but not a staple either.

By now, we've tried almost all the soups, but of course, I had to leave you with the classic: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup...with McDougall's Chunky Tomato soup, of course.

Just as good as it looks, made with Follow Your Heart Cheddar, dunked in warm chunky tomato soup, this was a perfect meal at the end of a long week.

So if you are in the market for some convenient soups, give McDougall's a try. I know I have seen them popping in at my local Giant and Wegman's, which is nice and the weather is cold!! They're made from a group of people focused on wellness, and as far as healthy packaged soups go, they are pretty tasty too.