Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Royal Wedding

Did any of you wake up to see the royal wedding? The news coverage started at about 4AM where I live—WAY too early for even this romantic-fairy-tale-and-pretty-dress-lover. Since I had first hour off today (it’s a “studio” day for my weaving class), I could not bear the thought of waking up. Luckily, though, my TiVo never sleeps. Thank goodness for technology!

After school and a yoga sesh, I came home and got right to watching the opening festivities. My TiVo recorded five hours worth so I’d better get a move on! I loved every moment of watching stunning Kate Middleton and her charming Prince William be married. Seeing the love that the world poured out for them on their special day warmed my heart, just as watching the couple try to keep straight faces behind their encroaching smiles made me laugh. It’s interesting to think that about 1/3 of the world’s population will share this experience with me. It was surely history in the making; I know I will even be telling my grandchildren about this one day!

Speaking of history, let’s back-track a little bit to Easter. My family and I kept things pretty low key this year, but I did manage to make a fun dessert for the occasion.

Dessert has always been my favorite way to contribute to family gatherings. I put my heart in everything I bake, so much so that I’m sure they must be able to taste the love. Since going vegan, I’ve been so pleased by how receptive my family has been to trying new things. In fact, I tend to enjoy using unlikely ingredients rather than trying to fake the classics, so their willingness to experiment is crucial.

This Easter, my love for unconventionality was taken to a whole new level by making a chocolate mousse cake out of avocados. It was creamy and rich, but wholesome, too. Replacing white flour with spelt, using maple syrup to sweetene, and using avocados rather than cream and eggs really changed things up for the better! I’m happy to report every piece was lovingly devoured.

Vegan Chocolate Avocado Mousse Cake 

adapted from OhSheGlows

Crust:

  • 1 cup + 6 TBS spelt flour
  • 1/4 cup + 2 TBS cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup NuNaturals Stevia Baking Blend (or organic sugar)
  • 1 TBS arrowroot (or cornstarch)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 TBS canola oil (or unsweetened applesauce)
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 3 TBS maple syrup
  1. Preheat oven to 375*F.
  2. Grease and flour a 9-inch spring-form pan.
  3. In a bowl, sift together spelt flour, cocoa poder, stevia/sugar, arrowroot, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk canola oil, almond milk, and maple syrup.
  5. Add wet to dry, stirring until well combined.
  6. Pour batter into greased + floured pan. Spread batter evenly (it will be thick!).
  7. Bake for 25 minutes.
Filling: 
  • 2 cups avocado flesh (I used 3.5 medium avocados)
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 TBS arrowroot
  • 1 TBS smooth nut butter (I used creamy peanut butter)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, melted (using microwave or double-boiler)
  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor, blending until well-combined and creamy.
Mouse Cake Assembly: 
  1. Once cake is cooled, spread filling evenly on top. (*Do not remove the cake from the spring-form pan. The sides of the pan will help the mousse stay in place until it firms up.)
  2. Place in the freezer until firm (about 1.5-2 hours or longer).
  3. Remove cake from freezer about 15 minutes before serving to let it come up to temperature. (*Be careful, though, or it will get too soft.)

Questions: Did you watch the royal wedding? If so, what did you think (especially of Kate’s dress)? And what’s the most unconventional things you’ve cooked or baked with? Do you like to try recipes on your family and friends? Are they adventurous? 

Have a lovely day! 
Mandiee

White Dresses and Rings

I’ve been a little MIA all week thanks to celebrations galore. Easter? Check. 17th birthday? Check. Junior Ring? Check and check!

Easter Chocolate Mousse Cake --- Recipe to come!

I cannot thank you all enough for your kind birthday wishes. I was so overwhelmed and really enjoyed reading each and every one of them. We kept the celebration low key since I have been so busy with school, but it was lovely none the less. An amazing yoga practice plus loving family and friends is all I really need to have a good time. Oh, and a little cake to blow candles out couldn’t hurt either, right?

I also made a little birthday treat for myself using my birthday gift, Vincent the Vita-Mix.

I swear my Vanilla Chai protein ice cream tasted like cake batter. And the black bean brownie to go on top? It was absolutely fudge-y and delicious.

Vanilla Chai Protein Ice Cream

Serves one
  • 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 15 grams Vega Vanilla Chai Whole Foods Optimizer or 1/2 serving protein powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp guar gum
  • 1 cup ice (may depend on your blender)
  1. In a blender, combine all ingredients except for ice.
  2. If using a Vita-Mix, add ice to blender all at once. Blend until smooth and creamy. If not using a Vita-Mix, add the ice in stages.

Single-Serve Black Bean Brownies 

Makes 3 individual brownies, or about 1-2 servings 
  • 1/3 cup + 1 TBS black beans
  • 2 TBS oat flour (just ground rolled oats, or brown rice flour/flour of choice)
  • 1 TBS coconut flour
  • 1 TBS cocoa powder
  • 3-4 TBS almond milk
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • sweetener, to taste (I used 1/2 tsp NuNaturals Stevia Baking Blend)
  1. Preheat oven to 350*F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a  food processor or blender until creamy and well combined. It will be thick like normal brownies, but feel free to add the extra TBS of almond milk, if necessary.
  3. Place in a small loaf pan, ramekin, or individual cupcake holders.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes.

As I mentioned, this week I also celebrated my junior ring ceremony. All dressed in white, I received my junior ring yesterday and marked my transition into senior leadership. It was a beautiful ceremony, and touching, too. I will never forget the loving hug that my mom gave me when she put the ring on my finger. She has sacrificed and worked so hard to give me a wonderful education, and I am forever grateful.

Although the ceremonies are now winding down for a little while, there is still much to celebrate. I am continually thankful for all the blessings in my life, especially this blog and all of you for helping me discover my passions. I cannot wait to tell you more about my celebrations and show you some pictures (many of my eats) from this week. Here’s some of what’s ahead:

  • the most epic vegan cake (3 layers of goodness)
  • raw chocolate brownie ice cream
  • homemade vegetable burgers
  • breakfast apple cinnamon mini loafs

Questions: how has your week been? What are you thankful for right now? 

Have a lovely day! 
Mandiee

And All it Took was a Little Sweetness

At exactly 2:22AM, 17 years ago today, an ordinary girl was born into what was said to be an ordinary world.

But as the girl grew, she learned that ordinary was just a word. A word, she thought, that was just missing a little something.

A little fascination. A little love. A little sweetness.

Suddenly, everything was extraordinary. And all it took was perspective.

Here’s to 17 years and hopefully many more to come.

You Spin Me Right Round, Baby

On a recent trip to Sur La Table, I was lucky enough to find a spiral slicer on sale. I’ve wanted one for a while, but have either a) not been able to find one in stores or, b) have not liked the price that I saw. Getting the last one they had and at about $10 off made me feel like I had mad skills. Doesn’t getting a great deal always make you feel great?

Spiral slicers can be used to create pretty edible garnishes or simply to turn vegetables into long, noodle-like strands. I don’t usually have the patience for garnishes (a girl’s gotta eat!), but I have had my mind set on making zucchini noodles for a while.

In the winter, the last thing I want is raw foods or salads. Instead, my body craves hearty root vegetables and energizing, warm foods. I know that it’s spring when I find myself dreaming of big salads with crunchy vegetables. Yum!

This lunch was a nice way to welcome in spring by combining both raw and cooked components. I used raw yellow squash noodles for the base and topped them with steamed broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and chickpeas.

For the “sauce,” I simply roasted a handful of cherry tomatoes until they were bursting with warm, sweet flavor.

Mixed with chiffonaded basil, topped with chopped nuts or tahini sauce, and served with crumbled Mary’s Gone Crackers or sprouted bread croutons makes this a meal full of flavor and nutrition.

High Raw Zucchini Noodle Primavera with Roasted Tomatoes 

  • 1.5 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (or sweet mini peppers like I used)
  • 1 large zucchini
  • veggies of choice (I used broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts)
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas
  1. Preheat oven to 400*F.
  2. Place cherry tomatoes and bell pepper in a small dished sprayed with cooking spray/drizzled in olive oil or lined with tinfoil/parchment paper. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until soft and almost bursting.
  3. Follow manufacturer’s directions to create zucchini noodles. If you don’t have a spiral slicer or mandolin, you can also use your vegetable peeler to create thin strips.
  4. Steam, roast, or sauté veggies of choice.
  5. Combine zucchini noodles, vegetables, roasted tomatoes and bell peppers, and chickpeas. Top with hummus, tahini sauce, nuts, or whatever you would like. Serve with sprouted bread or gluten-free crackers, if desired.
With my birthday and junior ring ceremony just around the corner (Monday and Thursday respectively), I’m hoping my raw food cravings are a good omen for warm weather. And speaking of spring, guess how else I know that spring’s almost here? 
Coconut butter. Need I say more? All winter my beloved butter has been hard and flaky. No more, my friends, no more. I could swim in this stuff.
Oh hey there. Someone just finished off a jar of love-in-a-jar, aka Raw Artisana Coconut Butter. You bet I already opened a new one or else there wouldn’t be a big smile on my face. A coconutty kabochavore is a happy kabochavore. Speaking of which, if you haven’t tried putting coconut butter on kabocha, DO. IT. NOW. Or any other winter squash, sweet potato, or carrots. Really, just put coconut butter on anything. You’ll thank me later.

Questions: how do you know it’s spring? And what’s the best buy you’ve gotten recently? Do you put something special on everything?

Have a lovely day!
Love. 

Earth Day 2011

Happy Earth Day, everyone! As far as holidays go, I wish Earth Day was more celebrated. The Earth provides so much for us and deserves to be recognized. Sure, you give a bouket of flowers to your loved ones on Valentines day, but why not try givining a bunch of kale instead? I know I’d be a happy recipient.

If there’s one thing I truly believe in, it’s that every little thing eco-concious we do can make a difference. Here a just a few of my favorite simple eco-friendly tips:

  • Turn off lights when you don’t need them
  • Unplug chargers when they’re not in use
  • Brush your teeth with the faucet turned of
  • Use recyclable bags instead of plastic or paper
  • Buy in bulk to save on packaging and waste (you can buy only what you need)
  • Recycle. Recycle. Recycle.
  • Combine driving trips/errands and carpool when possible
  • Wash your clothes in cold water instead of hot
  • Use a clothes line to dry your clothes in the summer
  • Check your thermostat in the winter, lowering it by just a degree or two (this is a biggie—you’ll even see the proof on your gas bill!)
  • Carry a recyclable water bottle with you at all times

It all adds up. But what can we do to take that extra step? This Earth Day, I promise to not only lessen by eco-strain, but also make strides to actually reverse it. Whether that means helping to plant trees, or something else, I’m going to do my best to find more ways to take that next step. So what do you say? Will you do it with me?

Questions: what’s your favorite way to be good to the Earth? And if you could thank “Mother Earth” for something, what would it be?

Have a lovely Earth day!

Cupcake of the Day

Hey there! How are you? After a busy week, I’m glad tomorrow is Friday, and even better, that I have the day off from school due to Good Friday. My house has been buzzing with Easter preparations as the celebration draws closer. We’re thinking of doing a make-you-own-pizza family dinner with homemade multigrain crust and lots of toppings (socca pizza for me!).

I’ve made a few vegetarian pizzas (not vegan because of the cheese) for my family which were very well recieved and will definitely be making an encore appareance on our dinner table.

If you celebrate Easter or Passover, do you have any plans or family traditions? When I was younger, my aunts and uncles would join me in an Easter egg hunt early Sunday morning, complete with “Easter egg detectors” and “maps from the Easter bunny.” Somehow we would always manage to miss a few though, only to find a little sum of extra change part-way through the year and promptly lose it come Easter the next year. Kind of like the sock monster, huh?

Cupcake of the Day 

Way back in 7th grade, my love of baking blossomed with cupcakes. It all happened so fast that I’m not even sure what happened. One day my mom, grandmother, and I were making chocolate chip cookies and snickerdoodles, and the next it seemed like we had baked our way through an entire book of cupcakes. With all the baking I was doing, I was able to bring cupcakes into school almost every other day!

hello, dream job!

To this day I still have a special place in my heart for cupcakes. I love seeing the smiles on people’s faces when they receive their very own little treat. I also have a special connection with cupcakes because I attribute my formal introduction to cooking to that first cupcake book. Somehow cupcakes led to muffins, which finally led to discovering a vegan bakery and trying vegan baking out for myself. From there, my love of vegan baking and cooking grew, and grew, and grew. The rest is history.

To celebrate the joy and artistry of cupcakes, I thought it would be fun to regularly feature cupcake pictures and recipes on my blog. Whether it be for their design, taste, or overall character, I’m excited to share my love of cupcakes with you!

***

Today’s cupcake is a lemon raspberry one from a cupcake shop by my yoga studio.

I love how it’s frosted! The raspberry frosting was rippled and glazed with lemon icing, just like bumpy cake. Of course it was topped with sprinkles for good measure, too.

Questions: what was the food that really introduced you to serious cooking? Do you have any cupcake photos or recipes that you would like to be featured? I’d love to hear from you!

Have a lovely day!

Where’s the [Bacon]?

Hey friends! How was your Monday? Mine felt rush-rush-rush until I went to yoga. Yoga always manages to quiet my chatty mind and make me feel refreshed. When I got home, I was ready to get down to business. I was actually surprised by how much I got done; I even got ahead in calculus!

I find my mind is at its prime focus right after I finish practicing yoga, so I usually do homework when I get home while I brainstorm ideas for dinner. When I finally went to start my yummy meal last night, guess what I found…?

A slice of bacon in our drawer! Um, where did this come from?! Clearly I burst out laughing and promptly took a picture. Ah, the life of a food blogger!

As for the meal I was preparing, it was 100% bacon-free. Instead, I sauteed some lentils with onions and yellow squash in fresh ginger, curry powder, and mirin for some mild-but-delicious vegan protein.

Lentils are a staple in my kitchen because of their flavor, versatility, and nutritional value. Filled with protein, fiber, iron, and much, much more, I always find myself relying on them when I’m craving a light but filling meal.

Mild Curried Lentils with Onions and Yellow Squash 

  • 1/4 cup onion
  • 1/4 cup yellow squash or zucchini, sliced into half-moons
  • 1 cup cooked lentils (I use french (puy) green lentils)
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 3/4 tsp curry powder, or to taste (this will depend on the flavor of your curry powder)
  • 1/2 tsp mirin
  • 3 TBS water or almond milk (make sure to use original, not vanilla!)
  1. Sautee onion for 2 minutes on medium-high heat. Add yellow squash and cook until vegetables are softened.
  2. Stir in lentils, fresh ginger, and curry powder. Use mirin to deglaze the pan.
  3. Add water or almond milk to deglaze the pan further. Cook until most of the liquid has cooked off.
I served it up with cauliflower “rice” and my favorite steamed veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and carrots). Veggies make me very happy. Come to think of it, everything I ate was techinally a vegetable…well, if legumes are considered vegetables, that is. Even though I’ve been vegan for more than a year, I’m still amazed by how easy it is to fuel my body nutriciously by just eating a variety of balanced plants. 
And guess what’s even better? Technically vegan cupcakes are 100% plant, too. I guess eating a cupcake is almost like eating vegetables, right? 😉 
I’ll let you decide that for yourself. 
Speaking of cupcakes, I’m excited to start a new cupcake feature for the blog.
Look out for some yummy news coming soon! 

Questions: what’s the strangest thing you’ve found in your kitchen? And what do you think: can cupcakes be nutritious?

Have a lovely day! 
Mandiee