Christmas Recap

It is so hard to believe that Christmas has already come and gone! I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas (or holidays) filled with family, friends, and lots of delicious vegan food!

With a Christmas tree upstairs, I don’t do a tree in my place, but I did do a bit of decorating for the first time. 

IMG_3431

IMG_3425

So glad I remembered where I’d tucked away these snowflakes that my late Grandma made years ago! 🙂

I’m officially done one third of my Natural Nutrition program and enjoying a nice break from my studies. Which gave me time to sneak in a couple days of baking before Christmas Day. The week before, I’d made these Peppermint Bark Raw Brownies to share at work.

IMG_3500

Monday, Jem and I had our annual Christmas Baking Day. We like to turn on some Christmas music and make a few different goodies at once, mostly to share with family and friends over the holidays. Since I made the switch to vegan, Jem is lovely enough to let all our choices be vegan. This year we choose to make Thin Mint Cookies, Pumpkin Blondies,  Chocolate Chai Shortbread, and Coconut Sugar Cookies (from Vegan Food Gifts). (The links will take you to the original recipe, but I did make some changes, which I will share with you in later posts.)

IMG_3543

IMG_3541

IMG_3548

IMG_3545

(Please ignore the non-vegan red sprinkles on Jem’s cookies.)

And Christmas Eve I baked a Cranberry Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (this one, but with fresh cranberries added), and Christmas morning I baked fresh Herb Drop Biscuits. These were my contribution to my family’s Christmas brunch.

IMG_3555

I’m feeling completely spoiled from Christmas! This is all the vegan/cooking/baking-related stuff I was lucky enough to receive.

IMG_3558

IMG_3561

IMG_3562

Can you detect any themes? Seems as though my family has figured out that if I get kitchen stuff and Lush stuff, I will be a super happy camper!

Not sure if I’ll have another post for you before the end of 2013, so just in case I miss it: have a very Happy New Year! See you in 2014!

P.S. – I am so excited about my new Crockpot, but have never used one before. Does anyone have any favourite or tried-and-true vegan slow-cooker recipes they’d like to share?

Also, I’d love to hear about your favourite moment or favourite gift from this year’s holidays!

Advertisements

Lemon Coconut Energy Bites

These lemony little gems were dreamed up out of necessity. I had three lemons in the fridge that needed to be used before I left for Victoria for five days. I had been meaning to try a raw lemon bar recipe with them, but I never got around to it. As lemon bars aren’t really portable I knew I had to save that recipe for another time. So I decided to use most of the same ingredients that would have gone into the lemon bars (lemon juice, coconut, oats, and dates) to make some energy bites for my trip.

IMG_3099

I have to say that I am very happy with how these turned out! Bright lemon flavour, a hint of coconut and nuttiness, and a natural sweetness from the dates and coconut. These lemony little bites of chewy goodness are perfect for travel and on-the-go snacks. Or you may just want to stand by the fridge and scarf a few down! Don’t worry, that’s okay too.

IMG_3094

Collage, lemon bars 1

Collage, lemon bars 2

Lemon Coconut Energy Bites (Yields 32 small squares)
1 1/2 cups oats
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup sliced/slivered/chopped almonds (raw or blanched)
Zest of 2 lemons
1 1/2 cups pitted dates (20-25 dates)
Juice of 3 lemons (about 1/2 cup)
Optional: 1/4 cup vanilla or berry flavoured protein powder (I like Vega One)

Notes:
If your dates aren’t soft then you should let them sit in a bowl of hot/warm water for at least 15 minutes before using.
I prefer to cut these into small squares because they pack easily into storage containers and I can choose the size of my snack better, however you could also make larger bars, or roll the dough into small balls. Totally up to you.
For gluten-free, just make sure your oats and protein powder are gluten-free.
For nut-free, use sunflower seeds or more oats, in place of the almonds.

Add the oats, coconut, almonds, lemon zest, and protein powder (if using) to a large bowl of a food processor and pulse until it is at your desired consistency: less if you like a chewier bar with larger pieces, or more if you’d like a finer texture.
Add the dates and process until they are in small pieces and mixed up with the other ingredients.
Add the lemon juice and process until everything is thoroughly mixed and clumping together. It may be crumbly, but should stick together when pressed.
Line a baking dish with parchment paper. I use a 11″x7″ pan, but the size doesn’t really matter as long as it is at least 8″x8″. Dump the mixture into the lined pan and press down until the top is relatively flat and even. With a sharp knife, cut into small squares or bars. Place the pan in the fridge for at least an hour, then transfer the squares or bars into an airtight container. Store in the fridge or freezer.
The energy bites will soften a bit when at room temperature, but they shouldn’t fall apart. Enjoy!

IMG_3124

IMG_3101

IMG_3126

I’ve shared this post with Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays (8/27/13), Allergy Free Wednesday (8/28/13)Gluten-Free Wednesdays (8/28/13)Raw Food Thursday (8/29/13), Healthy Vegan Friday, Wellness Weekends (8/29-9/2/13), Gluten Free Friday #55.

Pineapple Mango Creamsicles and Mixed Berry Ice Pops

It is definitely summer around here and while I’m loving the sunshine, I’m not a huge fan of the heat. What better way to beat the heat than with an icy totally guilt-free treat?! (Really didn’t intend for all the rhyming there!)

IMG_2554

Store-bought popsicles may be fruit-flavoured, but they are usually just frozen sugar-water, without any actual fruit in sight. These home-made popsicles taste even better than store-bought, are almost completely all fruit, and therefore completely guilt-free! They are also super quick and easy to make. If you know how to turn on a blender, than you can make these in about five minutes. The hardest part is waiting for them to freeze!

Pineapple Mango Creamsicles
1 cup pineapple chunks
1 cup mango chunks
1 cup canned coconut milk
1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (or more coconut milk, for an even creamier creamsicle)
1/2 tsp orange extract
Optional – sweetener to taste

IMG_2544IMG_2546

Mixed Berry Ice Pops
1 cup blueberries
1 cup other berries (raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries…) – You can choose one kind, or a mixture.
2 cups water or non-dairy milk
Optional – sweetener to taste

For both kinds, just throw everything in a blender and blend until smooth. Divide into whatever ice pop molds you have and place them in a freezer to freeze. Wait impatiently. Enjoy!

IMG_2555

IMG_2560IMG_2562

Notes:
– For both recipes, you can use either fresh or frozen fruit, or a combination of both. 

IMG_2729

IMG_2724

IMG_2727

I’ve shared this post with Raw Food Thursday (7/18/13), Allergy-Free Wednesday, Gluten Free Wednesdays (7/17/13), Healthy Vegan Friday #52, Gluten Free Friday #49, and Wellness Weekend (July 18-22).

Questions
Ice cream or popsicles?

What is your favourite popsicle flavour? Or the craziest flavour you’ve tried?
Feel free to share or link to the recipe!

Lemon Cranberry Coconut Chia Bars

Collage, Lemon Cranberry Coconut Squares

IMG_1252IMG_1258

Let me just say that unless you absolutely hate lemon, cranberries, or coconut then you need to try these Tropical Lemon Cranberry Coconut Chia Bars from Angela at Oh She Glows.

The lemon and cranberry make for a delicious combination of sweet and tart flavours, and the coconut make these fantastically chewy.

These bars are also quite simple to make, and while probably quite high in calories, they don’t contain anything to really feel guilty about.

The only changes I made to the original recipe was to use whole wheat flour in place of the oat flour, mainly because I was too lazy to take that extra step of processing the oats. I also replaced the pistachios with pumpkin seeds, because I didn’t have any pistachios and I figured pumpkin seeds are the same colour and would still give me the crunch-factor.

I love these Tropical Lemon Cranberry Coconut Chia Bars!

IMG_1260

What I Ate Wednesday #112 – Oatmeal Love

WIAWbutton

For this week’s What I Ate Wednesday post I’m going to share with you my recent oatmeal adventures. There have been a lot of cold mornings in the past couple months and I recently started making my oatmeal in the microwave, which on early mornings feels a lot easier than on the stove (plus it doesn’t leave me with a pot to wash). So, lots of oatmeal lately!

I hope this provides you with some inspiration for your next bowl of oatmeal. Enjoy!

IMG_0595IMG_0602

Sucanat & cinnamon oatmeal with (1) natural peanut butter unsweetened coconut, and home-made dried cranberries and (2) natural peanut butter, cocoa powder, and raw cacao nibs.

IMG_0613IMG_0616

3) 1/2c oats cooked with 1c water, 1tbsp sucanat, 1/4tsp cinnamon, 1/4tsp ground coriander, and 1/2tsp vanilla. Topped with 1/4 serving Vanilla Chai Vega Whole Food Health Optimizer, 2 cut up dried figs, and slivered almonds.
4) 1/2c oats cooked with 1c water, 1tbsp Nature’s Path Cranberry Vanilla Qi’a Cereal, 1tbsp sucanat, and 1tbsp cocoa powder. Topped with natural peanut butter and 1 cut up dried fig.

IMG_0800IMG_0880

5) 1/2c oats cooked with 1c water, 1tbsp ground chia seeds, 1tbsp sucanat, 1/2tsp cinnamon, and 2 chopped dried figs. Topped with hemp hearts and pumpkin seed butter.
6) 1/2c oats cooked with 1c water, 1tsp chia seeds, 1tbsp maple syrup, 1/2tsp molasses, and 1/2tsp cinnamon. Topped with slivered almonds, home-made dried cranberries, and unsweetened coconut.

IMG_1188

And, I know its not oatmeal, but I had this yesterday evening and it was fantastic. I will definitely be using brown rice like this again!
Leftover cooked long grain brown rice, unsweetened almond milk, cinnamon, and sucanat, heated in the microwave. Yum!

What I Ate Wednesday #112

Thanks for stopping by!

healthy vegan friday button
This post was also shared with Healthy Vegan Friday #34. Go check it out!

You May Also Enjoy:

Collage, Salad Love 1
Salad Love – 9 Different Delicious Salads

IMG_0509
Smoothies of 2013: Part 1

Pumpkin Spice Oat Cups
Pumpkin Spice Oat Cups with Pecans & Crystallized Ginger

Title, Tropical Oat Cups
Tropical Pineapple Coconut Oat Cups

Tropical Pineapple Coconut Oat Cups

Title, Tropical Oat Cups

 

Last week, I posted my recipe for Pumpkin Spice Oat Cups with Pecans and Crystallized Ginger. These Tropical Pineapple Coconut Oat Cups are the result of trying to figure out what other fruit I wanted to use, instead of pumpkin puree, and then what flavours would go well. (I think applesauce will be next.) Jem mentioned this Pineapple Coconut Bread (which we absolutely love and need to make again soon) and I immediately thought of transferring those lovely tropical flavours to our next batch of baked oat cups.

These oat cups are quick and simple to make, and then you’ll have something delicious, healthy, and super portable on hand for quick breakfasts and snacks.

The pineapple and coconut flavours in these oat cups are not super strong, but the combination is still pretty darn awesome. If you’d like a strong pineapple flavour, then you may want to include some diced pineapple. The shredded coconut also gives these a chewier texture than their pumpkin counterpart.

IMG_0650

Tropical Pineapple Coconut Oat Cups (Yields 24 cups)
5 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground coriander
2 1/2 cups pineapple puree*
5 tbsp agave nectar**
2 cups water
1/4 cup coconut oil
*For the pineapple puree, I pureed in a blender, one 398ml can of pineapple rings, along with the juice from the can. You could also puree fresh pineapple, with some water or pineapple juice if needed. 
**Maple syrup would also work, but I haven’t tried it in this recipe. I think next time I’m going to use coconut sugar (maybe 5 tbsp, plus an extra 1/4 cup of liquid).

Preheat oven to 375°F and line muffin tins. (You will need 24 cups.)
In a large bowl combine the oats and coconut.
In a separate bowl combine the pineapple puree, spices, agave, water, and coconut oil.
Add the wet ingredients to the oat mixture and stir until well combined. If the mixture looks watery, just let it sit for a few minutes and the oats will soak up some of the liquid.
Divide between lined muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes.

IMG_0626IMG_0629

IMG_0630

IMG_0640

Store oat cups in a sealed container in the fridge. I like these best when warmed up a little, but they are also great cold or at room temperature. These also freeze very well!

Enjoy!

Both of my oat cups recipes are based on Chocolate-Covered Katie’s recipe for Breakfast Oatmeal Cupcakes To Go.

healthy vegan friday button

This recipe has been linked up with Healthy Vegan Friday #33. You can view everyone else’s submissions here, here, or here.

You May Also Enjoy:
IMG_0509Tropical Colada Vega Smoothie
100_3249Cinnamon Power Granola
100_3512Blueberry Coconut Crumble Bars

Smoothies of 2013: Part 1

Thanks to my new (to me) KitchenAid 5-Speed Blender that I bought off a friend right around Christmas, and some awesome inspiration in the form of Somer’s Green Smoothie Challenge I’ve managed to restart my smoothie habit after many cold months of going without.

While I haven’t been having a smoothie every day, like I originally planned to do, I think I’ve been doing quite well. Having all of the following smoothies in roughly the past two weeks, is a huge improvement over not having any at all for months! At the moment, mostly due to the cold weather, I haven’t had any interest in having smoothies for breakfast (I simply don’t want anything cold to make my morning colder) but I have found ways of fitting them in during the rest of my day. Smoothies make a great meal when I start work at odd times, and would be starving on my first break if I don’t eat quite close to my start time. On these occasions I like to make my smoothie right before I leave the house and take it with me on my way to work. I’ve also had them a couple of times for lunch while I’m at home, sipping on it while I continue to get things done around the house.

The following smoothies all either yield 2 or 4 cups. For me, 2 cups seems to be the perfect meal size, no matter what kind of smoothie it is (keep in mind I almost always have Vega or hemp protein powder in mine). The 4 cup smoothies can be shared with someone (as I did for the Blueberry Vanilla Almond Smoothie) or can be split between two meals/snacks (as I did for the Razzleberry Lemonade Smoothie and the Pumpkin Pie Smoothie). And of course, if you want to drink all 4 cups at once, go ahead!

1) Razzleberry Lemonade Smoothie (Yields 4 cups) [from the Green Smoothie Challenge]
I basically followed the recipe, but switched spinach for kale and used 1 scoop of hemp protein powder in place of the choice of flax, hemp, or chia seeds. I used mostly raspberries, with some blueberries for the frozen berries. Despite my blender having some trouble with the lemon (I think next time I would use the lemon zest and pulp, without the rind) this smoothie was awesome! The addition of lemon made this very different from any of my usual smoothies, and I mean different in a good way.
Collage, Raz Lemon Smoothie

2) Pumpkin Pie Smoothie (Yields 4 cups) [Recipe from Oh She Glows]
I followed Angela’s recipe, except replaced the almond milk with soy milk (just because that’s what I had) and reduced down to 1/2 a frozen banana. I also added 1/2 a serving (1 scoop) of Vega Vanilla Chai Whole Food Health Optimizer for some extra nutrients because I knew the flavours would fit perfectly in with the pumpkin pie flavours.
This smoothie tastes great and is super rich and creamy. It does not taste like it could be a meal, though it easily could be (especially with the addition of Vega), and half of it was a filling meal for me.
This was the first time I’ve tried putting oats in a smoothie, and I’m not so sure whether or not I like the result. I’m sure they contributed to the thick creamy texture, but the smoothie felt a bit too heavy for me (at least compared to my usual smoothies). I don’t think that adding oats to my smoothies is going to become a regular thing.
IMG_0393IMG_0394

3) Blueberry Matcha Green Smoothie (Yields 2 cups)
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 cup frozen banana slices
1/2 cup packed spinach
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp matcha powder
1/3 serving Natural Vega One
1/2 cup unsweetened dairy milk (I used soy)
1.5 tsp maple syrup (or to taste)
1 1/4 cups cold water
If you like matcha than you will like this one! Tastes mostly like matcha, though its not overpowering: you can still taste the blueberries and the vanilla.

IMG_0426

4) Blueberry Vanilla Almond Smoothie (Yields 4 cups)
2 cups frozen blueberries
1/2 cup spinach
1 scoop (1 serving Vega Vanilla Almondilla Energizing Smoothie)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used soy)
2 cups cold water
This one is definitely a keeper! If you like vanilla and almonds (does any one not?) then you will love this! I actually meant to put some banana (maybe 1/2 of one) in this as well, but I forgot.
IMG_0438

5) Vanilla Almond Matcha Smoothie (Yields 2 cups)
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/3 cup frozen mango
1 scoop Vega Vanilla Almondilla Energizing Smoothie
1/2 tsp matcha powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 cups cold water
(optional) Sweetener to taste
This one is a mix between the previous two. This one tastes more like the vanilla and almond than the matcha, but it is still detectable (and delicious).

6) Tropical Colada Vega Smoothie (Yields 2 cups) [based on the Tropical Colada recipe from the Green Smoothie Challenge]
1 cup packed spinach
Zest and flesh from 1/2 orange
1/2 banana
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1 scoop (1 serving) Vega Tropical Tango Energizing Smoothie
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup crushed ice
1 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
This is similar to smoothies I’ve made in the past using the Vega Tropical Tango Energizing Smoothie, but this one just seems to be on a whole different level. So good! I also love the beautiful green colour of this smoothie! I love green smoothies, but as soon as you add something like berries or chocolate (or berry or chocolate Vega) they can turn some pretty strange and not so pleasant colours. This one is just a pure vibrant green!
IMG_0502IMG_0509

You might have noticed I’ve mentioned Vedged Out‘s Green Smoothie Challenge a lot in this post. I did because I think it is pretty darn awesome! While I haven’t yet followed the actual challenge, I have tried two of the smoothie recipes and one of the salad dressing recipes, and following Somer’s daily posts throughout her week of the challenge provided some serious inspiration to do some healthier eating. The basic recipes and all the information can be found by clicking the 2013 Green Smoothie Challenge link on this page. There are also other recipes and lots of photos in Somer’s 7 daily posts about the challenge.

healthy vegan friday button This post has been submitted to Healthy Vegan Friday #31. If you haven’t checked out Healthy Vegan Friday yet, you really should!

Questions
Like smoothies? What is in your favourite one? 

Are you trying to make any positive changes to your eating habits this year?