food

Vegan red velvet white chip cookies (February Recipe Writers)

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I admit I’m a day late with this delicious Valentine’s recipe, but when I got home from work yesterday and got out my mixing bowl I realized I didn’t have an essential ingredient: cream cheese (vegan, natch). And there was no way I was going back out to the store for one item.  So apologies for the delay, and I hope the deliciousness makes up for it!
I first got to thinking about red velvet when it started popping up all over my Pinterest board for Valentine’s Day. Chiefly in mind was this recipe from the blog New Mama Diaries–it looked so simple to prepare (always a good thing). But of course, I had to veganize it before I could try it…so here are my results. I bet if you serve these to family and friends, they’ll never guess that they lack eggs and real cream cheese!
What you’ll need:
One package of red velvet cake mix
1/2 cup coconut oil
One 8-oz. package cream cheese
Two cups (or one package) white chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 375 F. Use a hand mixer to cream together the coconut oil and cream cheese. Add in the red velvet cake mix and beat until ingredients are thoroughly blended; stir in the chocolate chips. Drop onto cookie sheets in rounded spoonfuls; bake at 375 for ten to twelve minutes. Allow to cool before serving (the cookies will be too gooey to pick up when they’re fresh out of the oven!).
A note on ingredients: Many vegans find the Duncan Hines cake mixes to be acceptable, but if you’re looking for a brand that says “vegan” on the box, check the baking aisle of your local health food store (mine has tons of such items that I have not found through online sellers). Alternatively, you could whip up a from-scratch recipe–it will take a little longer than using a box mix, but it will still taste good. Just remember that a wet cake batter won’t need added coconut oil, and you’ll need to adjust the wet-to-dry ratio so the batter won’t be super-runny.
Vegan cream cheese is pretty easy to find at health food stores and even some regular grocery stores. Vegan white chocolate chips can be harder to find, but if you don’t have any on hand, regular chips will work fine too–the taste will be slightly different, but the cookies will still be delicious!

February Recipe Writers: Valentine’s Day Goodies

Welcome to another monthly round of Recipe Writers! Last month’s recipes were fabulous. They inspired us all to eat healthy (if we actually ate healthy throughout the entire month is a different story entirely) and showed us how to combine ingredients in new ways. Did you try my Kale, Quinoa and Sweet Potato soup, Jenn’s ideas for Spaghetti Squash or Kelly’s Protein Nut Butter Balls? Yum!
I’m sure you had a clue as to what this month’s theme would be…because let’s be honest, it is all over Pinterest right now:
Valentine’s Day Goodies

(Super-cute Valentine’s DIY from Amanda’s blog! Find it here.)

 

Even if you don’t get heavily into the Hallmark side of things, I think Valentine’s Day is a great holiday–it’s the perfect excuse to eat lots of chocolate and treat yourself to a fancy dinner, a day at the spa, or some other luxury experience that you’d normally not spring for. Since Valentine’s Day recipes can include anything from a decadent dessert to a perfect dinner for two, the theme this month is any recipe for Valentine’s Day. Whatever you have to share, we’re excited to see!
Here is how Recipe Writers works: At the beginning of every month we will introduce a new theme and all share our recipes here. The link party will close on the last day of the month. This way you will have time to share a recipe before and after the holiday (if there is one) so others can try it, check out other recipes to try yourself and impress your family and friends with the delicious flavors of the season. For example, November was Thanksgiving Favorites, December was Christmas Cookies and January was Healthy Eating!
Co-hosts:
Amanda Rose from Sew Much 2 Say
 
Remember, this link up is open until the end of the month and we will have a new one next month starting on the 1st.  Don’t forget to check in next month to see if your recipe was featured. So, what are you waiting for? Make your favorite recipes, blog about it and share them with us!

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Healthy eating: kale, quinoa & sweet potato soup

Today I have an easy, healthy and tasty recipe to share with you: kale, quinoa and sweet potato soup. This dish requires only four ingredients, freezes easily, and is not only vegan but also free of soy and gluten. The combo of ingredients stuffs a ton of protein, fiber, iron and other vitamins & minerals into a fairly low-cal package, making it a great healthy option for “diet” days or anytime you need to get the maximum nutrients possible from your meal.

You’ll need:

  • Three quarts vegetable stock (about twelve cups)
  • Several cups washed chopped kale
  • Five or six large sweet potatoes
  • Cooked quinoa–I cook a 26-oz. package of Bob’s Red Mill Organic Quinoa, which yields about twelve cups

 

Peel and chop up the sweet potatoes and add them to the vegetable stock. Cook over medium high heat until potatoes are nearly tender; add kale and cook an additional ten minutes. Dish quinoa into bowls and ladle soup over the top; add salt & pepper or other seasonings to taste.

Obviously this makes a LOT of soup. If you’re cooking for one or don’t plan on freezing any of the soup for a later date, then you might want to halve this recipe to avoid soup burnout. I prefer to store the soup and quinoa in separate containers in the fridge so the quinoa won’t soak up all of the broth overnight, but if you’re ladling this into single-serve Ziploc containers to freeze for later then I wouldn’t worry about separate storage.

So now you know what I’m eating this week! Do you have a healthy dinner recipe to share with me? (Don’t forget, you still have time to add your healthy recipes to the January Recipe Writers link-up!)

Random Thursday: My favorite snack food

I should probably list something healthy, right? Since I’m on this New Year’s health kick? But don’t worry, I won’t be that person. While I do love snacking on oranges and apples with peanut butter, I have plenty of perfectly unhealthy snacks to share with you, including but not limited to…

  • Chocolate. In just about any form–in a pinch chocolate almond milk will do.
  • Ice cream. The coconut milk kind is the best.
  • Chips and dip. I rarely buy chips because I have trouble sticking to the serving size.
  • Root beer. I’m not a soda person per se and almost never drink any, but I could guzzle this by the two-liter bottle.
  • Strawberry lemonade. Which is weird, because I’m not big on regular lemonade.
  • Tapioca pudding. 
  • Oreos.
  • Homemade chocolate chip cookies.
  • Cereal. 
  • Bagels with vegan cream cheese. Another thing I try to buy very rarely, so I won’t overindulge.

What are your favorite snack foods?

January 2014 Recipe Writers: Healthy Eating!

It’s time for another round of Recipe Writers, and in celebration of the New Year, this month will focus on healthy eating! We want your favorite healthy recipes, and the easier they are to prepare, the better. This is the time of year when many of us recommit to a healthy lifestyle (especially after the Christmas cookie binges of last month) so now is the perfect time to start swapping healthy recipes for entrees, snacks, smoothies and more. Personally I’m excited to get back on track with healthy smoothies, salads and vegan burgers, so it’s going to be hard picking just one recipe for the link-up!
Here is how Recipe Writers works:
At the beginning of every month we will introduce a new theme and all share our recipes here. The link party will close on the last day of the month. This way you will have time to share a recipe before and after the holiday (if there is one) so others can try it, check out other recipes to try yourself  and impress your family and friends with the delicious flavors of the season. For example, November was Thanksgiving Favorites and December was Christmas Cookies!
Co-hosts:
Amanda Rose from Sew Much 2 Say

Remember, this link up is open until the end of the month and we will have a new one next month starting on the 1st.  Don’t forget to check in next month to see if your recipe was featured. 
So, what are you waiting for? 
Make your favorite healthy recipes, blog about it and share them with us!

SewMuch2Say.com

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Unboxing/review: Conscious Box November 2013

Today I’m unboxing the November 2013 Vegan Conscious Box. Conscious Box is a monthly subscription box that costs $19.95 (includes shipping); there are no preview or skip windows in this subscription. Subscribers choose from a classic, gluten-free or vegan subscription and receive a box each month filled with ten to fifteen samples of natural beauty products, food, health items, and lifestyle extras. If you want to learn more about the box you can visit their website. I also recommend checking out the company’s Facebook page, as they often post offers for free or discounted first boxes (which was what prompted me to finally order one for myself!).

When you get your box, you can rate the products and share on social media to earn points; those points are then redeemable on the website toward full-size products, with the points working just like coins. A single review earns you ten points and in turn knocks ten cents off a purchase. Keep building up those points (they tally more quickly than you might think), and you can save on products like food, beauty essentials, household products and more. It’s a nice perk and I think the system of using points to knock down the purchase price is a better way to encourage reviews and feedback than a system where you have to have lots and lots of points to cover the full price of an item, since it will take a long time before you can redeem anything worthwhile.

Okay, on to the contents of the box!

First up we have two food items: a bag of YogaVive Chocolate Apple Chips ($4.49 per bag) and a three-pack sampler of Mighty Leaf teas ($7-$10 for a 15-bag box). The apple chips were just okay–nice and crispy, but it was hard to detect the chocolate flavor. These were a nice snack, but they aren’t something I’d run out to buy, especially for the price. I’m always happy to see tea samples as I do drink a lot of it, and while these are a little pricey for my usual drinking habits I would definitely consider buying them on sale.

The Rebootizer packet ($15 and up for a three-packet box) is supposed to be used as part of an allover week-long detox system, drinking one packet per day, so it’s kind of hard to say how well it works based on one packet/one day of use. I will say that the flavor was strange–like bitter apple cider, but “off” somehow–and while the pouch design is ingenious, it’s not very easy to pop open and shake up per the directions. That said it’s literally a shot glass of a drink so if you needed to detox and wanted to do it in the smallest portion possible, I could see this being a good way to do it.

The MRM Relax-All ($25 for 60 capsules) is a sample of a sleep aid. I’m not big on getting dietary supplements in subscription boxes because I just don’t use that many of them. I’m not big on unnecessary medication and in my long sad pursuit of something to give me a better night’s rest, I’ve found very little that helps. These didn’t necessarily do anything to help me sleep for a longer period of time, but I do feel like these helped me to relax and enjoy a more restful period of sleep, and I didn’t wake up feeling groggy or drugged like I have in the past when taking things like Tylenol PM.

Two travel-size soap samples: one of African Black Soap from Coastal Scents ($12.95 per 15-oz. bar) and one of Lemongrass Summer bar soap from Harmony Acres ($6.95 per 5.5-oz. bar). I could smell the lemongrass, one of my favorite scents, before I opened the box!

The natural perfume sample from Pour Le Monde is intriguing, especially since sales from this perfume benefit the charity Guiding Eyes For The Blind. A full size 1.7 ounce perfume costs $95, so this is a pretty high-end sample to include in the box. The Blood Orange & Juniper lip balm from Ivre de Fleurs is full size (retails for $7.50) and contains ingredients like mango butter to nourish dry chapped lips.

The Sunology Natural Sunscreen sample is a nice idea, but…foil packets! Argh! You just can’t adequately judge a product from a tiny packet, in my not-so-humble opinion. I do like that it has a high SPF (50) and doesn’t contain ingredients that sting my eyes, but it’s just really hard to say how well I like it based on such a tiny application.

The Better Botanicals Apricot Eye Therapy packet ($18.99 for 15 ml) is a lot better, since eye cream goes so far that a 1.5 ml packet will last a good while provided it’s kept in an airtight baggie. I’ve been using this under makeup and before bed all week and it really does help with tired, puffy eyes, making me look much more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed even on my worst days, so I will definitely consider purchasing this in the future.

This box also included a few coupons, but I didn’t count them into the box’s value. Overall, my estimate of the box’s value is as follows:

YogaVive apple chips (full size): $4.49
Mighty Leaf tea (3 bags): $1.50
Rebootizer: $5.00
MRM Rest-All: $0.83
African Black Soap: $0.79
Lemongrass soap: $1.84
Pour le Monde perfume: $6.00
Blood Orange lip balm (full size): $7.50
Sunology sunscreen: N/A
Better Botanicals eye cream: $1.89

Total value: $29.84

Overall, I would say that I was pretty happy with this box. There was a decent mix of items, two full size items and two high-value cosmetics samples (the perfume and the eye cream). I wouldn’t say it was the best value overall but it did exceed the purchase price and I liked enough of the items to give it a thumbs-up.

I’ve seen some really great boxes and some sort of blah boxes come out over the past year, but overall I think I like it enough to stick around and see what the December box will hold. If you’re subscribed to Conscious Box, or to any other vegan-friendly boxes, tell me about it–I’d love to hear your recommendations/rants/general thoughts about these boxes!

Unboxing/review: Graze Box November 2013

Today I’ve got another foodie box to review for you. Graze gives you a sample of natural and tasty snacks for $6 per box; users can choose to receive boxes every two weeks or every four weeks. Shipping is free but currently Graze only ships within the lower 48 U.S. states. Users can rate the items in their boxes as “try”, “like” or “love” to affect future boxes; they can also “trash” a snack to ensure they never receive it again. For those of us who are vegan or following a gluten-free diet, Graze offers the option to “trash” all snack options that don’t fit into our dietary requirements, making this one of the first cheapie food boxes to my knowledge to so sweepingly accommodate these two dietary restrictions! Keep in mind, though, that Graze does not filter for nut allergies.

If you’re interested in signing up for Graze, keep in mind that you’ll need an invite code, so you can sign up for the waiting list or get an invite code from an existing Grazer. You can also try your luck with an internet search for sign-up or free codes, which surface from time to time on sites like RetailMeNot–but they go fast, so pounce while you can! I snagged a sign-up code from Cosmo that hit its limit almost within 24 hours, so when I say fast, I do mean fast.

Each Graze box is a slim, no-frills cardboard package that’s fully recyclable and offers minimal waste, which I love. Inside are four individual snack containers, each with a perfectly portioned snack that’s about the same size as a vending machine delivery, only much tastier and healthier! The snacks include a mix of sweet and savory. I opted for a vegan box and was happy to see that my four snacks covered a good range of snacking “moods”.

Dark Rocky Road: Belgian dark chocolate buttons, cranberries and pecans. This was a very sweet dessert snack. Yay for vegan chocolate!

Tropical Daiquiri: Green mango, lime raisins and pineapple. I like dried fruit and the lime raisins gave this a little twist. This wasn’t as cloyingly sweet as the dried fruit you might find in a typical grocery store, which made me very happy.

The Herb Garden: Oregano rice crackers, crispy peanuts and baked herb bites. This was a very savory snack and I could have done with more! I was glad that it wasn’t too salty. The husband really liked this also.

Seedsational: Roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds with soy sauce. Honestly, I’m not a big “seeds” person, but if you like seeds then this is a good one–the soy sauce flavor is mild enough that you get a little taste without feeling overwhelmed.

Overall I thought this was a pretty good box, especially considering that everything was vegan and yet didn’t taste “healthy” in the least. Have you guys tried Graze, or would you be interested in trying it? What do you think of foodie boxes overall? Obviously with my dietary restrictions foodie boxes are kind of hit and miss for me, so this little gem was a real delight in my mailbox this week. :)

Recipe Writers link up: November 2013

On the first of every month we will introduce a new theme depending on the month and all share our recipes here. The link party will open on the first of every month and close on the last day. This way you will have time to share a recipe before the holiday (if there is one)  so others can try it, check out other recipes to try yourself or even have time to post one after the actual holiday. For example, this month we are having Thanksgiving favorites and next month will be Christmas related.

I’m excited to get started and try out everyone else’s recipes!

Well, first of all let’s introduce the co-hosts!

Amanda Rose from Sew Much 2 Say


Casey from Bookcasey

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Remember, this link up is open until the end of the month and we will have a new one next month (I’ll give you a hint, next month’s theme is cookie-related!) starting on the 1st of the month.

So what are you waiting for? Make your favorite Thanksgiving recipe, blog about it and share your favorite holiday recipes with us!