Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Surf Sweets

How do you decide when to blog? Do you do it everyday? When the mood strikes? When you have something to post about? I've been trying to post two or three times a week, but this week I haven't a had a lot to post about, and I also wasn't really in the mood. Then I came home from yoga this morning and went straight to the computer to blog. Well, that's a lie, I fed the kitties first, THEN I went straight to the computer to blog.

Today, I have a little review for you. I was contacted recently by Surf Sweets, asking if I would like to do a review of their products. My response was a resounding yes yes yes!! I try to be healthy, I really do, but in my moments of weakness, I have a huge sweet tooth. And I LOVE candy. Now, I know we have a lot of chocolate lovers out there, and I'm not dissing chocolate, but I love CANDY. Fruity, sugary, jelly, crunchy, candy, in whatever colors of the rainbow I can get. When I was in high school I perpetually had a big bag of candy from the bulk section of the candy store in my backpack. Jelly beans were a favorite, but anything was fair game: lemonheads, raspberries, gummy bears, rock candy, sour patch kids, etc.

You get the point, right? I loved candy. Okay, I still love candy. The news that Skittles are now vegan was a very big deal for me.

So I was super excited to try out Surf Sweets Natural and Organic Candy. They are made with organic fruit juice, have no high fructose corn syrup, 100% RDA Vitamin C, gluten and casein free, non GMO, and made in the USA with natural flavors. Yummy! All that mattered to me was that they were vegan.

Vegan gummies? Sounds too good to be true, and be warned that for some of their products, it is. About half contain gelatin. But all the samples they sent me were animal product free, and I happily munched. And munched. And Munched (yes, I munched with a capital M that last time).

First up was the Sour Berry Bears. All a bright red raspberry color, these were super yummy. They were also in the smallest package, and were gobbled before any photo was taken. They're not super sour, but they have a bit of a twinge to them.

Next up was the Sour Worms. They came in a few flavors, maybe two or three, but they really had a strong flavor. In a good way. Like, the cherry really tasted like cherry not just some obscure "red" flavor.

Last, but most certainly not least, were the Fruity Bears. These were so cute, and kind of reminded me of a mix between gummy bears and fruit snacks.

Because they don't have gelatin in them (this goes for all the snacks), they don't have they chewiness that other gummies have. I don't miss that though, these were tender little bear shaped candies, in citrus and berry flavors that totally pop in your mouth and cover your teeth in sugary goodness.

The verdict? If I haven't made myself clear already, I love these! They're not an everyday thing, or even something I could keep in the house as I would eat them immediately. While they're made with better ingredients than other gummies, the first ingredient is still organic evaporated cane juice...and that is still sugar. I don't think they're trying to fool anyone with that though, these are clearly meant to be a treat. I especially love that you have the option to buy little treat size packages: the small package of Sour Berry Bears is only 80 calories.

If you are getting nostalgic candy cravings, as I did when I got the email from them, I saw these are Whole Foods yesterday, and they actually only had the vegan varieties, which was nice!

Have a good day people! My birthday is coming up, so I'll have some fun stuff to post about soon.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Open Coconut

I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts...
There they are all standing in a row...on my countertop.
Both are about the size of my head..

I have been trying to eat more raw foods lately. I haven't gotten too fancy in my preparations, because in the past, that has been a recipe for disaster. Not that the food hasn't turned out well, I just lose enthusiasm really quickly.

However one thing that is in every raw recipe book I've ever seen is the young Thai coconut. They're so elusive, they're so expensive, they're so....covered in a rock hard husk. Needless to say I did not have the confidence to try and crack one open. But I recently discovered two things:

1.) our local Asian Markets (there are two great ones)
2.) videos on cracking these babies open

Okay, to be fair, we found the Asian markets long ago, I just didn't think I had it in me to get them open. Then I saw this video on Kristen's Raw. It seemed doable. One problem.

No cleaver.

Back to square one. So I tried the illustrious youtube and came across many videos that used a knife. I only looked at one and decided it was possible. She makes it look really really easy. It is easy, but not really really. Especially when you have a dinky little knife that isn't even a full tang.
This cut off the husk no problem, but required some elbow grease to get the inner cap off. Still, there was success, and it really didn't take long. It was a bit messy, but I suspect it will get much easier now that I know what I'm doing.

I was a little worried about its freshness, but it produced a full cup of almost clear coconut water.
I was thrilled! It was possible! Good thing because I bought two!

I scooped out the meat with an ice cream scoop, and peeled off the bits of brown skin that was stuck to it with a vegetable peeler. After that, I sat down and looked at the internet for information on how to store it. Bottom line, it can be stored for about 3 days in the fridge, but is best eaten immediately, as far as taste and nutrition are concerned. I can do that.

In went 1/2 cup of the coconut water, all the coconut meat, 1/4 of a large papaya, a banana, some ice, and 1 tsp of Xanthan Gum.
Out came a papaya coconut smoothie!

This was so nice and thick, obviously from the Xanthan Gum, and you could totally taste the coconut. Loved it! I have big plans for the next coconut, but we'll see what happens. Have you taken a crack at the young Thai coconut yet? Its not as hard as it sounds!! I'm so excited to take a crack at some more complicated applications with it, especially as I am getting some Teflex sheets for my dehydrator soon!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Vegan Cookie Cake

There are two weeks every year where I get to make fun of my husband for how old he is. His birthday is two weeks before mine, which makes his age two years older than me until my birthday comes, two weeks later. Yesterday was his birthday. Man is he old.

Have you ever had a cookie cake? What is your birthday treat of choice?

Personally, I like birthday cake, preferably vanilla, unless it involves peanut butter, and then anything goes. But my husband grew up always having a cookie cake for his birthday. You know, those giant cookies covered in brightly colored icing that you get from the little shop at the mall? I bought him one for the last birthday we spent together, two years ago.

This is actually our first set of birthdays together since his return from deployment, and since he became vegan. I couldn't let him down with some ordinary cake, it had to be his favorite, had to be cookie cake. Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake, to be exact.

The recipe, was easy, and not mine. Actually a blondie recipe, you would have never guessed it. This was exactly what I was looking for. Dense and cookie like, not cake like, cooked completely through the middle with a slightly raised edge that is just a little crunchier than the rest of the cookie. I used a 9" springform pan, and pretty much followed the given directions precisely.

The directions do say to spread it out into the pan, and you do have to do that. But the dough is really cookie dough like, not blondie batter like, so it is a bit of a task to spread it. I suggest using your fingers. I baked for 45 minutes, and I will do a few less next time. There was a big difference between 40 and 45 minutes.

Then I iced! Clearly the most fun part of the process. I used this recipe, which it says is from Vegan Cupcake Take Over the World, which I wouldn't know because I don't have it. Half of it was dyed blue, and it was piped in a perfectly 'homemade' fashion around the perimeter.

When we were finally both home from work, we cut into it. Yum! It had a perfect cookie consistency, and we smeared on some extra icing post photos. We both had two pieces, which was definitely a little much, but so yummy.

I rarely make the same recipe twice, but I definitely feel a tradition coming on with this cookie cake. Not to mention the fact that it is infinitely better, and cheaper, than the one you buy at the mall, for about $20. If you have any cookie cake lovers in your family, this will undoubtedly please them!!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Raw Foods, Mixed Well

I've been doing a lot of stealing lately. Of course I mean stealing from other bloggers and websites. As such, I have tons of pictures, and not much to write about except how delicious everything is. So I figured I will do just that.

First off though, we got a Vita-Mix! This has been a very exciting development, and I think I have used it multiple times every day. I love it love it love it already. So most of the food being shown here was made with that.

I hit Averie's blog first. She posts a lot of stuff that looks great, but I have been dying to try her Raw Vegan Kale Chips. They were one of the first things that got made in my shiny new (well...refurbished, but new to me) Vita-Mix...and oh man did they deliver.

They were cheesey and crispy and made the whole apartment smell yummy while they were dehydrating. I added some cayenne for a little kick too, and they were gone very quickly.

I also tried one of Averie's newer desserts that she had posted. Now don't get me wrong, I love chocolate and all that too, but when I saw her recipe for Raw Caramels, I had to make them.


Either my hand is smaller, or I spread mine thinner!

Sandwiched with chocolate soynut butter

Ah, there he is. I'm not the only one in this place that's been stealing. Ivan, our newest little stinker, LOVES food. And I don't mean he gets excited when a can is opened because he still thinks there's a chance it might be tuna, like Zoe does. The cat loves anything. One of his favorite treats is spinach, he loves zucchini and asparagus, and he has an especially soft spot for coconut (flakes, oil, milk, any form). So you can expect to find him in most pictures from here on out because it is almost impossible to keep him out of them!

So, one of the reasons I have always wanted a Vita-Mix was because it seemed like making smoothies was just SO much easier. And...it is infinitely such.

Avocado, kale, spinach, parsley, cucumber, banana, dates.


Avocado, cucumber, parsley, kale, spinach, frozen strawberries, pear.

Topped with grapefruit.

Spirulina smoothie from Annie's Raw Food Kitchen. Which Ivan especially loved...

and got him very messy, since he knocked over the blender and crawled inside to lick it all up.

I did have some not so raw food this week. I was watching the Food Network while working out and saw these Sauteed Potatoes with Chorizo being made on Mexican Made Easy. I was thinking how I could easily do it with a Soy Chorizo, and was then dumbfounded when the host actually suggested doing that to make it vegetarian. So, I tried it.

We also used sweet potatoes instead of white.

Honestly, this was just okay. I've never had real chorizo and I used Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo. I don't think that Soy Chorizo is really an awesome substitute. It just tasted like TVP marinated in spices. I'm sure that's what it is, and I've made things like that before. So, it was fine, just not what I was expecting I guess. Have you tried the Soy Chorizo or even Soyrizo? Is one better? Am I just asking too much of poor TVP?

I also whipped out another tool that I had promised I would be using a lot this year. I have been using it, just haven't been posting about it for some reason. Anyway, enter the spiralizer!

Zucchini "Noodles"

which Ivan, of course, loves

Mixed with a mango and red pepper mixture from the Modern Ayurvedic Cookbook.

All together with a sesame oil dressing, lime, and cilantro.

This recipe was supposed to be made with buckwheat noodles, but it made such a fantastic combo with the Zucchini "Noodles". I have leftovers of this and I am very happy about it!

Back to the Vita-Mix for the last thing today, which was from one of my newest very favorite bloggers, the lovely Michal, from Earth Muffin. I was at a loss for what to have for breakfast this morning. On the weekends I always want something "special", but I still want it to be healthy. I usually end up compromising one of those. Not today! I made her Spiced Carrot Puree.
Yummy.

This pretty much tasted like carrot cake in a bowl. I used 2 dates to sweeten it, and added cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and ginger, and it was totally perfect...with the obvious addition of coconut and raisins! This made such a satisfying breakfast, it totally fit my "special", and healthy, requests. Oh, and this got Ivan's seal of approval too. At one point he was able to get some by sticking his foot in it (I know, I'm not proud), and when I was done, he licked the bowl.

So there we have it! A week's worth of good food, thankyouverymuch blog friends and Vita-Mix! And as I mentioned above, I did get a refurbished model, so it was about $100 less. Still expensive, but I've only had it for a week, and I can tell you it is so worth it.

Enjoy the weekend! I am off to my cousin's birthday party, and my brother's band's show.