Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Warm Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas, Basil, and Walnuts

Do you ever plan to make something for dinner, only to get home and find you have almost none of the ingredients? Like, I went to the store and I still didn't manage to get most of the things I thought I did. I was about to scrap it and just make some grilled cheese (Chao Slices for the win!), but I realized I should just make my own recipe with what I have in the house! The recipe I was inspired by can be found here.

Warm Quinoa Salad

with chickpeas, basil, and walnuts
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 cup quinoa (any color)
2 cups water
1 - 15 oz. can of chickpeas
1 TBSP olive oil
Juice from half a lemon (or 1-2 TBSP)
salt + pepper
1/4 cup basil, roughly chopped
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 avocado, cubed

Directions
Prepare your quinoa according to the directions on the packaging (generally 2:1 water to quinoa, bring to a boil together in a pot, then reduce to a simmer for 10-15 minutes until all the water is absorbed).

While the quinoa is cooking, rinse the chickpeas and chop the basil, walnuts, and avocado.

Transfer the quinoa to a serving bowl and mix in the oil, lemon juice, and salt + pepper. Add in the chickpeas and basil, then top with avocado and walnuts. And that's it!

I love these kinds of salads because they're GREAT cold the next day. Perfect for leftovers!



What's your favorite go-to one bowl dinner?



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Hash Brown Everything Toast

Creating savory vegan breakfast dishes can be challenging. I find it easy to make pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, etc., but besides tofu scrambles, savory dishes are a little more difficult to come up with. My husband loves hash browns and toast (carb loading!), so the other day I decided to jazz it up with some avocado, sausage, (vegan) cheese, and cilantro. It would also be delicious with just toast or hash browns.

Hash Brown Everything Toast 

Serves 2


Ingredients
2 pieces of bread
Olive oil, for sautéing hash browns
Frozen hash browns or potatoes, shredded
2 links, Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage Sausage
2 slices, Field Roast Chao Creamy Natural Cheese
1 avocado, sliced
Chopped green onion
Chopped cilantro

Directions
First, sauté hash browns in a large pan over medium high heat, about 8-10 minutes on each side (hash browns take a pretty long time to brown). While the hash browns are cooking, chop the sausage and green onions/cilantro.

When the hash browns are done, transfer to a bowl and sauté the sausage in the same pan. Throw the bread in the toaster. When the sausages are done, add the hash browns back to the pan with the green onions. Add the cheese slices, heat everything through, and plate on top of the toast. Garnish with cilantro and avocado.





This is a perfect meal if you're having guests, or just to spice up a Sunday morning. We love eating this out on the deck when the weather is nice. Enjoy with a glass of orange juice or coffee/tea.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ice Cream Sandwiches with Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

Where has spring gone? Here in Michigan, it seems like we had a week or two of really nice, cool weather, but it hit the mid-80s last weekend, and the humidity is already through the roof! Since it's basically summer weather, I decided to make some ice cream sandwiches for a dinner party - and they did not disappoint! A few little tricks, and you can kick up your summer dessert game!

Ice Cream Sandwiches with Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies


Ingredients
For the cookies*
1.25 cups peanut butter
3/4 cup soy or almond milk
1 - 1.5 cups vegan sugar (I usually use 1.5 when making chocolate chip bars, but since I was pairing with ice cream, I used closer to 1 cup)
1 TBSP vanilla
2 cups flour (I used white whole wheat, but you could use a combination of wheat and oat flour as well)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup - 1 cup vegan chocolate chips (I use Trader Joe's brand)

For the ice cream
You can use this method to make your own, or buy a pint of your favorite non-dairy ice cream, which is what I did.

Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and grease a cookie sheet. Start by mixing the first four ingredients together (peanut butter, milk, sugar, vanilla). You can actually use the spoon you used for the peanut butter to mix this entire recipe! Once you've mixed the first four, add in the rest, except the chocolate chips. The consistency should be similar to when you make cookie dough. Spread the dough into an even layer in the cookie sheet (you may not need to take up the whole sheet, depending on the size of your pan). Leave a bit of space at the edges if you can. The dough will puff up a bit, but won't rise like a cake will. Press in the chocolate chips, and pop it in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until starting to brown on the edges.


Let the pan cool on the stove, but before it's fully cooled, use a wide-rimmed glass to make circle impressions in the dough. This recipes is enough for about 5-6 sandwiches, depending on how big your glass is. I say make impressions because using the glass to cut all the way could cause cracking. Best to do the actual cutting with a knife, trying not to pull at the cookie. You want these to come out clean in order to make sandwiches that don't fall apart. BONUS: scrap cookie bits.

Place circles on wax or parchment paper to cool fully. When you're ready to serve, use a bread knife to cut circles of ice cream from your pint (method can be seen in this video - you're basically sawing off circles of ice cream by turning the pint on its side). However, I wouldn't microwave these cookies before assembling the sandwiches, as our cookies are already super soft and gooey! Alternatively, if you made your ice cream yourself (as was my plan before I CURDLED my coconut milk with my blender...), you can spread it in a tupperwear container to your desired thickness, then use the same glass from cutting the cookies to cut circles in the ice cream).

After you've cut both your cookies and ice cream, assemble them, and enjoy! It's incredibly satisfying, without any risk of crushing your cookies while trying to spread ice cream between them! Good luck!

*This cookie recipe has been adapted several times, but was originally inspired by these almond butter blondies from the amazing Vegan Richa.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Tempeh Bacon + How I Use It

Tempeh bacon is a delicious delicious food sent from the gods. I love it as an alternative to its non-friendly cousin. I actually love the texture and taste of tempeh bacon, so it's a win win for me! I encourage you to try it out, it's so easy and comes together quickly.

Tempeh Bacon

Makes enough for 4 BLT sandwiches
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Ingredients
1/2 block of tempeh

Marinade
3 TBSP soy sauce (or liquid aminos or tamari)
3 TBSP maple syrup
1 TBSP olive oil
Dash of garlic powder
Dash of onion powder

Directions
Slice the tempeh thinly, but not so thin that the slices are flimsy. I made the mistake the first time of cutting them paper thin and they just fell apart. They shouldn't be too bendy.

Mix up the marinade ingredients and preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Soak the tempeh in the marinade until the oven is preheated.

Place the slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Bake for 8 minutes, then flip and bake for another 8. They should start to look dry and slightly crispy/blackened. 


My favorite way to eat tempeh bacon is on a BLT or other sandwich with vegan mayo and veggies. It's also great cut up on top of soups/noodles/rice dishes. I hope you try it, and let me know if you do!

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

My Top 3 Vegan Cosmetics and Skin Care Products

A few years ago, I made the decision to do my own makeup for my wedding. I just couldn't justify paying someone hundreds of dollars for a day's worth of makeup. I knew that if you buy $50 worth of makeup, Sephora will give you a makeover in the store and teach you how to apply your makeup. So off I went to my local Sephora, and my life was forever changed. Or, at least, my bank account was.

Photos courtesy of Stevie B Photography

My experience that day sparked an interest in cosmetics and skin care that has lasted to this day. I joined the ever-growing YouTube beauty community, where I learned many valuable lessons on everything from foundation application to the perfect winged liner, and found a hobby I never knew I had (although my lifelong friends may tell you differently, based on the "makeovers" I loved giving them in middle school). I will say that I have spent way too many hours watching YouTube beauty/lifestyle videos, but they are honestly so entertaining!

You may wonder what this has to do with being vegan. Well, the sad truth is that the majority of the brands we know and love (including skin/body care, household cleaning products, etc.) cruelly and unnecessarily test their products on animals. It seems ludicrous, but it's true. So for a time, I was extremely discouraged, and felt an immense amount of guilt that something as frivolous as makeup could be hurting the animals I thought I was fighting for with my diet and lifestyle choices. Luckily, there are brands that do not perform these horrible tests (although finding them and verifying them can be tricky), and that's what I'd like to highlight here today. Please feel free to comment if you have further information on any brands mentioned, or if you have other cruelty free brands you recommend!

 

COSMETICS

 1. E.L.F. (Eyes Lips Face) - www.eyeslipsface.com
Oh, E.L.F., how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Variety, price, quality. You'll see a theme in many of the brands I love - they forgo traditional advertising methods in order to keep cost low, and pass those savings on to the consumer! E.L.F. is a great example of this philosophy. And lucky for them, the age of YouTube has helped them immensely. And BONUS - all of E.L.F.'s cosmetics* are vegan! That means they no longer use beeswax or lanolin - what a relief! It's like going to a vegan restaurant - you can order whatever you like! Their products are incredibly affordable, with most products in the $1-$6 range, and they recently expanded into skincare!

*some of the brushes from E.L.F. are not vegan (made from horse hair).

2. NYX - www.nyxcosmetics.com
NYX is a bit similar to E.L.F., in that it has a ton of variety and doesn't do traditional advertising. It is a bit more pricey than E.L.F., but it's pretty great quality. And recently NYX has been hitting it out of the park with their new products (I'm looking at you eyebrow products). If I could recommend a few things from NYX, it would be their butter glosses, brow products, blushes, and jumbo eye pencils.

3. Tarte - tartecosmetics.com
Tarte is a little more expensive, as it is a high end brand. But I like their commitment to natural and mostly vegan products. I swear by their BB Cream/Primer, which I wear as a BB cream alone on my skin (with great coverage), and their blushes are incredibly long-wearing and pigmented.  Tarte is a great option if you're looking for something with great quality and a natural look and feel.

SKIN CARE

1. Argan Oil/Coconut Oil
I swear by oils, specifically argan and coconut. I alternate between the two, and I tend to prefer argan because a) I don't like the smell of coconut, b) the argan oil tends to absorb more quickly into my skin, and c) coconut oil is more of a hassle as it is solid at room temperature (but can pretty easily be melted with your hands). I use this brand of argan oil which is a steal and works great. It lasts me 6 months applying twice daily as my main moisturizer, although I make sure I use something water based as well underneath so that my skin is not dehydrated.

2. The Body Shop
I have recently found many skin care items that I love from The Body Shop. My top favorites would have to be the Tea Tree Oil (magic as a spot treatment for blemishes) and the Vitamin C Facial Radiance Capsules. These capsules are life changing. I use them either alone or under the argan oil in the morning, and they leave the smoothest matte finish to the skin. It's a great base for makeup. I buy Body Shop products when they are on sale, they tend to have buy one get one free or 50% sales quite frequently. 

3. Alpha Hydrox AHA Souffle 12%
My newest find came from my search for a cruelty free chemical exfoliator. I have found these work better on my skin than manual exfoliators. This cream makes my skin feel so smooth without drying it out. It has been a great addition to my skincare routine, and you can find it at Ulta!

I hope you enjoyed my Top 3 cruelty free cosmetics and skin care picks. Honorable mentions include: Nars, Too Faced, Milani, Jordana, Physician's Formula, Wet n Wild, The Balm, and many more! You can always check out complete lists at My Beauty Bunny and Peta.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Vegan Dog Food Recipe

This post is a bit different from most of my others. When we started feeding our dog vegan food, we couldn't find much information online, so I hope this is helpful to those that would like to transition their dogs to a vegan diet.

First of all, I am in no way recommending a certain diet for all dogs. Of course, you have to see what's best for your pet. I did my research and found that dogs are able to live and thrive on a vegan diet (there are reports that the oldest dog ever lived to 28 on a vegan diet), but that cats are not able to due to their need for Taurine. I have read about synthetic Taurine, so if you own a cat, do some research and see what's best for you and your pet!

Our dogs love their food, and they have tons of energy and super soft coats. Even in just the two months that we have had Winnie, her coat has gone from wiry to incredibly soft and thick. Wylie has had blood tests after over a year on this diet, and they were exceptional!


Vegan Dog Food

Makes about 12 cups

Ingredients
2 lb VDog Kibble (or other vegan dry dog food, such as Natural Balance)
16 oz sweet potato, boiled
10 oz frozen green beans, thawed/microwaved
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed/microwaved
16 oz carrots, shredded or chopped
16 oz apples, chopped

Basically, you want to have a good variety of dog friendly vegetables, and a little fruit. You can tailor it to what your dog likes, as long as it's safe for them to eat it. Here's a good chart with most foods dogs cannot eat: 

We use a ratio of 2:1 fresh to dry food. So we weigh the fresh food, then use half that weight in dry dog kibble. We really like VDog because it is a completely vegan company. We use that in place of meat, and it has vitamins and minerals just like other dry dog food. We also use a daily vitamin in their food. 

Basically, you want to puree the fresh vegetables/fruit, and grind the kibble to a powder. Then mix the two together!

We do the fresh puree in two batches in our Blendtec. We used to blend it in our Ninja blender, so it is possible to do this without a high speed blender, it just takes longer.
This is the one moment when Winnie wasn't jumping and barking to get the food.
I know, it looks...unappetizing, but I promise, they love it! And it smells so much better than regular dog food.
Our dogs' portions

We feed Wylie and Winnie 3x per day, since my husband works from home. For Wylie, who is 18 pounds, we feed him 1 cup/day, 1/3 cup each meal. For Winnie, who is 13 pounds, we feed her 3/4 cup/day, 1/4 cup each meal. 

When we only had Wylie, this food lasted us about 2 weeks. Now it lasts us about a week with two dogs. We've frozen batches in the past, but it's really best in the fridge. We've kept ours for 3 weeks before without issue. 

Let me know if you have any questions, and good luck!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

EASY ARTISAN BREAD MIXES - A REVIEW

I am almost always thinking about making bread. How I should be making bread, how delicious the bread will be once I actually bake the bread....how much time and effort it would take to make the bread, etc. Last winter I was pretty consistent, but this year, the kitchen aid mixer is stored in the basement, and I just haven't brought it up. So when Tony from Easy Artisan offered to send me some bread mixes, I was all for it! He kindly dropped off a box of mixes for me to try (they're made in my hometown, just 30 minutes away!), and I've been able to try a few.
 First, I tried the Tuscan Herb Flatbread & Pizza Crust mix. It was pretty easy to mix it together (all you do is add hot water to these mixes!), but a bit sticky. Luckily, with the pizza dough, you don't need to let it rise. We made a pretty awesome pizza, and the crust tasted great. I think we could have baked it a little longer, since it was still a bit doughy, but luckily my husband loves it that way! 
Made with Field Roast Chao Cheese and Apple Sage Sausage (delicious!)

Next, I tried the Sourdough mix. For the bread, you mix with hot water, then let it rise for 10-12 hours. So it's very easy to make, but requires waiting a long time. Basically, I made the dough at night, and baked the bread the next morning. The time may vary, depending on the temperature. Basically, you want to wait for it to double in size. It says it makes two loaves, so I made one in a pan, and one as a baguette. It was a little hard to work with the dough since it was pretty sticky and didn't want to spread out, so next time, I'd probably make one big loaf.
The bread is delicious, and not too sour. We loved it. If you'd like, the instructions say to add more flour for a more sourdough flavor. We used ours as a side for soup, and of course, snacking! We can't wait to try the rest of the varieties.

Overall, I think these mixes are perfect for those who don't have a mixer with a dough hook attachment, or those who want something quick (with a little preparation the day before). For the pizza dough, no rising time is necessary, so that's perfect for weeknight meals. The only downside is a little stickiness to the dough, but it's such a small issue, and easy enough to deal with by using a little flour. These mixes retail for $4.00 on their website, and retail in stores for about $3.49 to $4.49. For two loaves of bread, I think that seems like a great price, especially because you don't have to add any other ingredients besides water!

*Please note I was provided these mixes to try, but all opinions are my own. I was not compensated to write this review.*