Monthly Archives: July 2011

Blueberry Lemon Cornbread

With hints of citrusy lemon and oozing sweet blueberries, this recipe is a sweet take on cornbread that tastes perfectly light and refreshing. It’s perfect with a tall glass of almond milk for breakfast, spread with some almond butter for a snack, or even as a side dish to a Southern-fusion meal. The burst of lemon and blueberry flavor is gaurenteed to keep you coming back for more!

Blueberry Lemon Cornbread

vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, fat-free

Makes one mini loaf (or a few muffins) —> can easily be doubled, trippled, etc. for a normal loaf pan

  • 1/2 cup cornmeal (66 g)
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat flour (15 g)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • sweetener, to taste (I use ~1/4-1/2 packet stevia)
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 3 (heaping) TBS unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 1/2 (heaping) tsp  lemon zest
  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease a mini loaf with cooking spray or coconut oil.
  2. Combine cornmeal, buckwheat flour, baking powder, and sweetener in a bowl.
  3. Mix in almond milk and applesauce.
  4. Stir in blueberries and lemon zest.
  5. Pour into a mini loaf pan (or a muffin tin).
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
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WIAW #1: Green Muffins and Jam

Woah, is it really Wednesday already? Actually, I have a better question: how can it be July 27, 2011; does anyone else feel like the summer just started yesterday? Seriously, the days are flying by!

I have a feeling my date amnesia has something to do with the fact that my life has been work, work, work, recover from work (or at least try to), work. Even though I’m getting tired of being tired (6AM is far too early, especially in the summertime!), I am so thankful to be employed. I am also excited that despite my busy-ness, I am finally taking the plunge and doing What I Ate Wednesday hosted by Peas and Crayons. I wasn’t able to document ALL of my eats, but I did manage to snap a photo of some of the highlights. Have a delicious Wednesday!

This delicious morning treat was inspired by HEAB. Blueberry lemon cornbread (recipe soon!) warmed with almond milk, raspberries, and blueberries until soft and sweet was the perfect start to my day.

For some reason, I’ve been lacking some serious breakfast inspiration. I’ve tried multiple types of cooked hot cereal made from oats, millet, and quinoa, but that just hasn’t felt right. I’m a huge fan of my 5 minute chocolate cupcake for one with coconut cream “frosting” and strawberries, but I often crave something more “real” food based (meaning not as processed as protein powder, in the case). Anyway, thanks to Heather, I think my mojo is back. I’m thinking a raspberry lime cornbread recipe is next!

For lunch, I had a rainbow lentil salad.

I guess I basically just add as many colors to my meals as possible. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Usually it just looks like a three-year-old’s finger painting.

For dinner, I actually made kale chips and a vegetable tortilla pizza with vegan cheeze.

However, I’m not a huge fan of how the photos came out originally, and I didn’t take any tonight, so I’ll show you a delicious salad I enjoyed up at my cottage a few weekends ago.

I had a fresh grilled vegetable salad with a vegan caprese salad on the side (aka a juicy tomato slice with basil, s & p). I also made a quick socca pizza (minus all the toppings) when I got home to satisfy my appetite (gotta get some protein, fiber, and nutrients!) Grilled vegetables are definitely one of my favorite things about summer!

For dessert, of course I enjoyed banana soft serve with a crumbled black bean brownie and peanut flour sauce. I just can’t get enough!

I also snacked on a secret ingredient vanilla muffin. Why are they green? Stay tuned!

What are you eating this Wednesday? 

Have a lovely day!

Mandiee

Feature Fridays

I’ll admit it: I have a weak spot for alliteration, especially in blog titles. There’s something so fun and quirky about weekly installments of themed posts that match the day.

Moves (& Munchies!) Monday, Wordless Wednesday (or even the ever-popular What I Ate Wednesday), Five Things Friday, Staples Sunday. Be still my heart!

 

But really, what’s not to love? In honor of the end of the workweek and start to the relaxing weekend, I wanted to do a fun post (especially after posting doing a more serious post at the beginning of the week). After finding this survey on Hannah’s blog, I knew I had found my answer. Finding the right f-word (not that f-word, mind you) was a challenge though. Thank goodness for Google!

 

[A] Apples or oranges: Apples! If an apple a day really does keep the doctor away, then I’m good for a while. I have an apple a day at least!

[Source]

[B] Beans or lentils: I use beans more frequently, but I will always love lentils, too. Even though beans take longer to soak, they seem so much more convenient!

[C] Cereal or oatmeal: Oatmeal. My grandmother must be laughing in Heaven as I speak because when I was younger, I absolutely refused to eat oatmeal. Now I loooove it.

[D] Dates or raisins: Dates. They seriously taste like natural brown sugar. They are crazy good warmed up in the microwave and spread with just a smidge of raw almond butter.

[E] Eggs or milk: That’s an easy one: milk all the way…well, almond milk, that is! Eggs have always kinda creeped me out, not to mention I choose not to consume them for ethical reasons now that I’m vegan.

[F] French toast or waffles: Waffles, I suppose. I haven’t really had either lately, maybe because being gluten-free and vegan complicates things (but not impossible, of course).

[G] Garlic or salt: Garlic! Vampires, beware; this girl loves her garlic!

[H] Honey or maple syrup: I use maple syrup more often, mostly because I live in a maple syrup-rich area (my school even has a maple syrup hut and uses it during the winter!) Being vegan, I have mixed feelings on honey, but have decided it’s a nice treat if coming from ethical, local sources.

[I] Ice cream or frozen yogurt: Does banana soft serve count? (Make sure to top with a crumbled black bean brownie and peanut flour drizzle!)

[J] Jam or toast: I can’t even remember the last time I had either. Brown rice or millet toast is my current favorite, though, but I’m sure I’d love to try making a fresh fruit/chia seed jam.

[K] Kale or spinach: Kale! Kale chips. Need I say more? (Added bonus: loaded with calcium. Score!)

[L] Lemon or lime: Lemon. I love how lemon zest makes everything taste so fresh and vibrant!

[M] Muffins or cupcakes: I prefer hearty over sweet/desert, so I’ll go with muffins, unless we’re talking about 5 Minute Chocolate Cupcake topped with coconut cream “icing.” Holy yum!

[N] Nut butter or jelly: Nut butter. I credit raw almond butter with changing my views on [healthy] fats. Bring ’em on!

[O] Onions or peppers: Peppers, just not the green ones! My mom said she ate bell peppers like crazy when she was pregnant but the green ones made her nauseous

[P] Peanuts or almonds: Almonds. Three words: raw almond butter.

[Q] Quick or yeast bread: Quick bread? As long as that includes muffins and corn bread, I’m in. (I love the smell of making yeas bread though. So comforting!)

[R] Raspberry or blackberry: Both. You can never have too much of a good thing.

[S] Sweet or savory: sweet, but by my definition (aka everything from raspberries to broccoli are sweet). Ditch the sugar, though!

[T] Tea or coffee: Tea every morning, even in the summer.

[U] Udon or spaghetti noodles: Gluten-free black bean spaghetti or spaghetti squash, please!

[V] Vanilla or chocolate: Chocolate all the way! I’m a huge believer in unsweetened cocoa powder. I like to tell myself it has beneficial antioxidants so having some each day is a must. (Vanilla is my absolute favorite smell though.)

[W] Whole wheat or white bread: Gluten-free whole grain, please.

[X] Xanthan or guar gum: Using both makes wonderful healthy [protein] ice cream!

[Y] Yogurt or pudding: Pudding, especially if it includes chia seeds or cocoa powder… or both! Apple Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding is one of my favorites.

[Z] Zucchini or cucumber: Zucchini. I love it raw as “spaghetti” noodles, sauteed with onions and peppers, and just simply steamed.

What do you want to feature this Friday?

Have a lovely day!

Mandiee

Real Food Philosophy Intro

While prosing the New York Times online this morning, I came across an article titled “Counting Calories? Your Weight-Loss Plan May Be Outdated.” Although the article did not necessarily talk about the drawbacks of calorie counting, it did provide further proof that the quality of food is an important factor in overall health.

Sure, the fact that consuming healthy food is linked to overall health is nothing new. But if we all accept that as a general truth, then why are so many people turning away from from fresh vegetables, vibrant fruits, and hearty grains in their whole form in favor of processed food touted as “low-“this and “low-” that with only this many calories. Nevermind the fact that marketing often stretches the truth (or has sketchy regulation) and that listed calorie counts are often wrong. And let’s just pretend the ingredient list on the back of that package in aisle 4 isn’t sending your head spinning from looking a lot more like a chemical formula than something to eat. But can you really deny that the instant you finish your first 100-calorie pack of a sorry excuse for cookies, you’ll already be digging into your next? (And no, it doesn’t usually stop there.) Surely you know they will do nothing to satiate your hunger and dissolve your cravings, much less provide you with the adequate nutrition you need to live your active and vibrant lifestyle. As you look at your favorite pair of jeans longingly, bowl of slimy Shirataki noodles in hand and grumbling tummy jolting you back to reality, you wonder, “Is there anything that will?”

source

As Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health and lead author of this study said in an interview,“What you eat makes quite a difference. Just counting calories won’t matter much unless you look at the kinds of calories you’re eating.” The study goes on to cite the correlation between weight loss and the consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. In fact, “weight loss was greatest among people who ate more…nuts (source).” Turns out high-fat nuts (which, mind you, are high in quality vegetable fats) actually aid in weight-loss and -maintenance rather than weight-gain because of the satiety they bring. Basically, high fat food ≠ being fat. Huh.

Although I am not a medical professional, from my research and personal experience I fully support the implications of this study concerning the benefits of eating whole, real foods. I am not at all concerned with losing weight, but instead with gaining and retaining health.

source

I will stay fuller longer from a bowl of quinoa, veggies, and tofu rather than a frozen Lean Cuisine-esque meal. Likewise, a fresh, crunchy apple keeps my sweet tooth at bay whereas a 100-calorie pack of cookies just leaves me an with even bigger craving. And that’s just talking calories.*

source

There is virtually no comparison nutrient-wise. Unprocessed, fresh foods provide my body with everything from high-quality protein, fat, and fiber to calcium, iron, and vitamin A. (And as proof, I’ve even had my fair share of orange “glow” in my hands thanks to lots of Beta Carotein.) They supply me with the fuel I need to keep my body energized and support my active lifestyle. Sure, I could just take handfuls of vitamins and supplements a day without regard for my dietary choices, but that’s just not the same.** Getting nutrients directly from plant-based food insures the body’s ability to break it down efficiently while satiating hunger and providing other nutrients as an added bonus. Plus I would much rather enjoy a colorful vegetable stir-fry than gulp down pills. But that’s just me.

Although I tout the benefits of  a whole foods, plant-based diet, I have not always lived my life according to that philosophy. My early years consisted of a diet rich in plain noodles, cheese pizza (I like this now), and chocolate. And who could forget those years of low-fat Pringles, boiled chicken, and 100-calorie packs galore (hence why I have a strong aversion for them now). Gag. Clearly I’ve had my far share of, um, interesting dietary choices. Therefore, I am not trying to judge anyone else’s choices or make them feel bad about certain products, habits, or inclinations. I do, however, want to help others live their best lives possible.

I’ve honestly never felt better or happier than I have since transitioning to a whole foods vegan diet (which also went hand-in-hand with my practice of yoga and search for overall wellness). Veganism is by no means the only route to live healthy though. I believe that making conscious healthy choices and eating real food will make a difference in the long run, vegan, vegetarian, or otherwise. Remember, no step is too small, and every moment is another chance to make a difference in your overall well being.

I also realize that most of my readers probably have a similar philosophy regarding food, so this post may be like preaching to the choir. Regardless, I wanted to share some of my views on the topic and hope that it will provoke something in you. Whether that be a memory, question, rebuttal, or simple reminder, I hope it will get your mind going and maybe even facilitate discussion.

Everyday I am humbly thankful for the immense happiness and health I now feel. It is my greatest wish that you will live happy and health lives, too. You deserve to persue your happiness; you cannot control others, but you can control how you react and what you do.

Have a  lovely day!

Mandiee

 

Notes:

*Calories are not a concern for me. Although I try to balance my diet and stay nutritionally well-rounded, I do not focus heavily on calorie-count (but do use it for a basis of comparison along with nutrient density). For those that it may concern, you can lose, gain, or maintain weight on a unprocessed, whole foods, plant-based diet. In fact, when I had a stress-related weight loss, I was eating a heavily-processed, meat-centered diet (much to my chagrin). Only when I switched to a plant-based diet was I able to gain the weight back while building by body back in a healthy, strong way. Currently I am maintaining my “happy weight.”

**Although it may sound like I am opposed to supplements and vitamins, that is not the case. I believe that getting nutrients from food is the best way to go but recognize that not everyone is able to do so. Vegans specifically have trouble getting Vitamin B-12 (other than in Dr. Mozaffarian
nutritional yeast), and oftentimes people on the run or in remote areas have trouble eating a varied diet. I Dr. Mozaffarian
take a raw vegan vitamin B-12 supplement and calcium. I also frequently use Vega’s Whole Food Optimizer (vanilla chai is my favorite flavor) as a protein-powder and nutrition booster. My doctor and I have discussed taking a multi-vitamin, but at this time, she does not think it is necessary.

***I am very excited about the new study’s release and its highlight through the mass media of the New York Times. I hope that this article will spread the word about the importance of quality food. However, I want to mention my disagreement with Dr. Mozaffarian’s assertion: “There are good foods and bad foods (source).” I do not like to look at foods as being “bad,” and tend to favor more of a “everything in moderation” mentality, especially when encouraging others to eat more healthily. Well, maybe not everything in moderation, but I certainly do not agree with assigning labels to food that would cause anxiety, guilt, or stress over food.

5 Minute Cupcake for One

It’s Monday, and although I had a wonderful weekend, I’m not quite ready to start the work week yet (but really, who is?). I definitely had a lot of fun, but driving 200+ miles in one day and not having time to make up my lost sleep from the week definitely took its toll. Obvisously, it’s just “one of those day.”

Fond memories of playing with my 3-year-old cousin and lounging on the beach at my cottage are what’s keeping me going. Nothing like a smile to start your day off right. And for those days when you just need a little something extra special, who says you can’t have a chocolate cupcake for breakfast? With such awesome nutritional stats and delicious taste, this single-serve healthy protein-packed cupcake is sure to be indulgently delightful while keeping you satisfied all morning long. Oh, and did I mention it takes under 5 minutes to make? I don’t know about you, but that’s perfect for when I’m feeling rushed but don’t want to compromise my breakfast because of it.

Microwave Chocolate Protein Cupcake

  • 3 TBS protein powder (I use Bob’s Red Mill Hemp Protein) (20g)
  • 1 TBS cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • dash cinnamon
  • 1 flax egg (1 TBS ground flax seed + 3 TBS warm water + ~3 minutes to gel)
  • 2 tsp unsweetened applesauce
  • ~ 2 TBS almond milk (this amount will depend on your protein powder)
  • sweetener of choice, to taste (I use NuNaturals stevia)
  1. Grease a tall mug with cooking spray (I use coconut oil spray).
  2. In a small bowl, combine protein powder, cocoa powder, baking powder, and cinnamon.
  3. Add flax “egg,” applesauce, almond milk, and sweetener. Mix until well combined.
  4. Pour into greased mug.
  5. Microwave for ~4.5 minutes. (This will depend on your protein powder and microwave.)
  6. Remove from mug and cool.
I like to cut my cupcake in half and frost it with coconut cream (1 TBS coconut flour + almond milk to thin + 3 drops NuNaturals Vanilla Stevia Drops). I also like to generously sprinkle my cupcake with chopped strawberries. Sometimes I even drizzle it with cold almond milk so that it gets nice and soft. Yum!
With a healthy cupcake like this, Monday’s might not be all that bad. 

Worth Coming Home For

Over the weekend, I went to my second Zumba Fitness class. It’s quickly becoming a Sunday morning tradition with my mom! However, since it’s still new to me, not everyone in my family knows of my new schedule. In fact, when my grandmother went to my bedroom to wake me up for yoga like usual, she was shocked to find a bare bed. She immediately called my mom to make sure I was alright. My mom giggled, sitting right next to me. No, I didn’t run away.

However, the miscommunication did actually prompt my mom to tell me a story about my childhood. Apparently when I was four years old, I tried to run away from home. Who knows what prompted my four-year-old brain to think running away would be a good idea. I suspect it had something to do with not getting the extra cookie I wanted. Always the foodie…

With my best pouty face and grown-up voice, I declared with confidence that I was running away. I took a little bag, packed it with my favorite stuffed animal and blanket, and marched out the door. Clearly my independence and love of animals have a long history.

“Do you want me to help you?” my mom asked while trying to stifle her laughter.

“No!” I puffed back. And with that, I was out the door and on my way.

Meanwhile, my mom and grandmother were watching me closely from the sidelines. In fact, I didn’t even make it far enough out of eyeshot for them to leave the porch. Somewhere between my house and my neighbor two doors down, I realized that if I ran away, I wouldn’t have anyone to hug me or make me yummy food. At that moment, I turned myself right around. Priorities, my friends, priorities.

Nothing can beat the love that a mother puts into each and every thing she makes for her children. My mom and grandmother used to always tell me that the secret ingredient in their Rice Krispies Treats was love, and you know what? Those were the best darn treats ever. My version may not have butter or marshmallows like the traditional recipe, but they sure do have a lot of love. Many years from now, I look forward to sharing these with my kids and feeling good knowing that no animals were harmed in their making.

Sunflower Maple Krispies 

  • 1/2 cup sunflower butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil or Earth Balance
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup crispy brown rice
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • chocolate chips + coconut oil, melted (for drizzling)
  1. Grease a 8×8 or 9×11 baking pan (I recommend lining with parchment or wax paper).
  2. In a saucepan, heat sunflower butter, coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract until warm, stirring frequently.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together crispy brown rice and rolled oats.
  4. Pour warmed sunflower butter mixture over crispy brown rice and rolled oats. Stir to combine.
  5. Once a little bit cooled (only a minute or so), stir in chocolate chips.
  6. Transfer batter to greased baking pan.
  7. Place in the freezer to harden.
  8. Once hardened, drizzle with melted chocolate chips + coconut oil.
  9. Cut into pieces.
  10. Keep in the fridge until ready to eat. They get soft and crumbly (but sometimes that’s the best!)
Now that’s worth coming home for! 

Questions: were you an independent child? Was there a childhood food prepared by your family that sticks out?

Have a lovely day!
Mandiee

Girls Day In

Hey there! How’s your weekend going? At least where I live I feel a beautiful, hot day coming on. It’s the perfect day to spend outside lounging!

me, Josh (who's like a brother to me), and the best friend when we first became really close (in Denmark!)

In fact, today I have plans to hang out with my best friend. One thing I should mention about her is that we’re not the typical friends at all. We live relatively close and go to the same school, but rarely ever hang out. We both have super busy schedules and completely different friends. So how does our relationship work so well? I’m not sure, but somehow it never seems like we’ve been apart and that no matter what, we can spill out our hearts to each other. We’re always honest, real, and compassionate. I could not ask for a better friend!

another blast from the past: the best friend and I on the plane to Denmark (in middle school!)

Anyway, today we have plans to do a whole lot of catching up and whatever else feels right. I have my new bathing suit on under my summery outfit, nail polish laid out on the table, and Vincent the Vita-Mix ready for action. Dear summer, I love you.

Who knows, maybe we will even get busy in the kitchen. The best friend has always been a faithful recipe tester, and for that I must thank her. Eating countless chocolate chip cookies (especially these)  is a hard job, but someone’s got to do it.

She’s never questioned my veganism and has even gone as far as to help others understand it. Even though I know she’s sometimes a little wary of “Mandie food,” she doesn’t even blink an eye when she sees me put spinach in my smoothies or eat things that sound like they’re from another planet.

 

At work this week I’ve been keeping my meals pretty easy. Here’s a look at some of the goodies. (Please excuse the awful work pictures!)

I’m absolutely crazy for quinoa parfaits! Chilled quinoa, fresh fruit, coconut cream, and peanut flour sauce make the perfect summer breakfast. It’s refreshing, light, and filling (not to mention crazy delicious!) I love that I can prepare the quinoa the night before while cooking dinner, assemble the parfait, and pop it in the fridge to bring to work in the morning. It couldn’t be easier! (Well actually, it could if you just cook a big batch of quinoa at the beginning of the week or use leftover grain (e.g. rice) from dinner. Yay for time savers!)

Strawberries and Cream Quinoa Parfait 

serves 1 happy camper 🙂

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa or grain of choice
  • coconut cream (1 TBS coconut flour + almond milk to thin + 2 drops NuNaturals Vanilla Stevia drops, or to taste) or coconut butter thinned with almond milk
  • 1 cup strawberries, chopped
  • peanut flour sauce (1 TBS peanut flour + water to thin + dash of salt + 1 drop NuNaturals Alcohol-free Stevia drops, or to taste) or nut butter thinned with almond milk
  • cinnamon (optional)
  1. Layer half of the cooked quinoa in the bottom of a jar or container.
  2. Spread with coconut cream.
  3. Add half of the strawberries on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.
  4. Layer the rest of the cooked quinoa over strawberries.
  5. Place the rest of the strawberries on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.
  6. Drizzle with peanut flour sauce.
  7. Eat immediately or place in the refrigerator to chill.

I’ve also really enjoyed eating snack plates filled with roasted butternut squash, roasted bell peppers, chickpeas, Mary’s Gone Crackers (LOVE!), steamed yellow squash, steamed broccoli, and steamed cauliflower. 
In addition, I brought back an old favorite, vegan sloppy joes. Even though I never liked the meat-laden version, I’m a huge fan of lentils and love them in this flavorful sauce. Also, making them is so easy if you just do a little prep work ahead of time or buy pre-made lentils (Trader Joes sells really great ones in the refrigerated section).
Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes
makes 3 lunch-sized portions
  • 1/2 cup lentils (dry) 
  • 1/2 onion (60 grams)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper (90 grams) 
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce 
  • 2 TBS tomato paste 
  • 1-1/2 TBS chili powder 
  • 1 tsp oregano 
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder 
  • maple syrup and mustard, to taste (optional)
  1. To cook lentils: rinse lentils and bring them to a boil in a saucepan filled with 3/4 cup water. Boil for 2 minutes, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until tender (about 30 minutes). Drain and rinse again with cold water. Alternatively, you could just skip this step and use 1-1/4 cup pre-cooked lentils.
  2. In a non-stick pan, saute onion and bell pepper over medium high heat until softened (about 5 minutes). 
  3. Add cooked lentils, tomato sauce, tomato paste, chili powder, oregano, and garlic powder. (You may also need to add a bit of water if it seems to thick.) 
  4. Cover, lower heat to medium, and cook for 20 minutes. 
  5. Turn off heat and let sit for 10 minutes for the flavor to develop. (Hint: leftovers taste even better the next day!)
  6. Stir in maple syrup and mustard, if using. 
And, of course, where would I be without a wholesome sweet treat to cool off at the end of the day? Thank goodness for banana soft serve! Lately I’ve been a big fan of chocolate banana soft serve with peanut flour sauce and crumbled black bean brownies. In fact, I like this combination so much I’ve been indulging in it every night hehe. Seriously, if you haven’t tried banana soft serve or black bean brownies, you don’t know what you’re missing. And if you try them together, all the better.

Questions: What’s your best friend like? How long have you known each other? And what are some of the foods on your current summer rotation?

Have a lovely day!
Mandiee