Friday, October 26, 2012

It's Cold Outside - Time for Hot Cocoa

It's the first real cold day we have had in Central Texas so I decided it was time to make some hot cocoa while I debated on what you actually do for dinner.

I thought about making the cocoa in my crock pot but I was not about to wait two hours for chocolatey goodness.

- 1/4 cup cocoa
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
- sprinkle of salt
- 1/3 cup hot water
- 3 cups almond milk
- 1 tsp cinnamon sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla

Combine sugar, cocoa and salt into a saucepan while warming water in another ( or the microwave ). Have the stove on medium heat and stir the hot water in with the cocoa sugar mixture. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Lower heat and add milk, you can add more or less depending on your cocoa preference. Continue stirring till warm, don't allow to boil. Sprinkle in some cinnamon sugar and then add the vanilla. Pour in a cup and enjoy!

This recipe made about two servings.
I wish I could have amped it up with some whipped cream but I didn't have any coconut milk to make vegan whipped cream.

Now that I'm all nice and cozy I have to make the decision for dinner, unless I just make more hot cocoa.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Another side of hummus

Everyone knows all about hummus, it has kind of blown up as a popular food item recently. There are a ton of variations: regular, black bean, spicy, sweet potato etc. The problem is that there have been rumors circulating that eating hummus and pita chips really isn't as healthy as one may think. In small doses, it is probably A LOT better than chips and fritos canned bean dip (Yuck), but eating it in large quantities can really add up. Seriously, its hummus and pita chips - I always consume that stuff in large quantities, I have been known to finish an entire bowl of hummus in an entire day (ok maybe it was a night - but who cares?).

Well, I am not necessarily going to offer a solution to this semi-healthy, semi-unhealthy deliciously addictive snack, but rather a little something different for those times when you need to give hummus a break because you literally ate your entire body weights worth of it.

Thanks to the beautiful blog Love & Lemons (probably one of my favorite blogs - EVER), I get to share a little treat called almond herb spread. In my opinion, this spread is a mix between hummus and pesto yet has none of the ingredients you would find in either mixture. This almond spread does have a couple weird ingredients in it, nutritional yeast and miso paste. The good news is that these two ingredients can go into a lot of other different things and the nutritional yeast can be stored in your pantry for a long time (it also has B-12 in it, which is quite beneficial, so it might be wise to incorporate it as much as you can).

Almond (herb) Spread  - from the lovely Love & Lemons

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1/2 garlic clove chopped
  • 1/2 tsp miso paste
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup water
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
This is the recipe I followed. There are substitutions as suggested by Love & Lemons, as well as the addition of different herbs to make it officially almond herb spread. Frankly, I think it is just as amazing with or without the herbs. 

This stuff can go on socca (a gluten-free flatbread I have yet to create a post about), normal bread, pita chips and I am pretty tempted to try and incorporate it in a pasta or quinoa dish sometime in the near future. Like I mentioned before, I am not sure if this is necessarily more nutritional than hummus - but it sure does change it up a bit, deliciously so. 

Here are some other things you can make with nutrional yeast & miso paste:
  • Vegan caesar salad (nutritional yeast)
  • Miso-tahini dressing
  • Miso soup
  • Marinades (miso - can be mixed with soy sauce and other asian ingredients)
  • Nutritional yeast is also sometimes used to give a "cheese"type flavor
  • Popcorn topper (nutritional yeast)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Non-Recipe Related Post.. but Exciting News

I started this whole blogging thing less than six months ago. I was posting a lot during the summer because I had a lot of time to cook and then write. It seems as if lately I have had no time to even go grocery shopping, let alone cook something awesome and tell everyone about it. Every week there is something happening... like last week - Austin City Limits. I had a lot of great food that weekend, and I mean a lot, so lately I have been a little slow moving with good healthy ideas to create.

However, I do have some exciting veggie/writing related news...
I'll give a little bit of background first.

I am currently a grad student at Texas State University, where I am working on getting a master's in mass communication. This semester I am in an online web design class, obviously I was excited for this class because I eventually want my own website where I can post all my foodie adventures.

Sooo... drum roll please.

I now have a website and for one of our assignments we had to create a site on a topic of interest. Naturally I chose food. I decided on a site dedicated to the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle, a little something I call Veggiestyle. During this project I decided that is exactly what I want my new blog to be called... Actually I should probably change the name of this blog to that, but I kind of want to make it part of a whole new launch that I will do sometime in the near future (hopefully).
Anyways, here is my Veggiestyle assignment, which is also kind of a sneak peek of what I would like my future blog to look like.



Don't worry... I plan to post some good recipes here shortly. Life has been crazy, people!!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Roasting Vegetables - Sweet Potatoes and Tomatoes

It's pretty much fall and that means it is the perfect time to roast some veggies and todays weather put me in the roasting mood. One of those great fall vegetables to roast are sweet potatoes. Although there are a lot of ways to prepare sweet potatoes, roasting is by far my favorite. The best part is, it's super easy.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

  • 1 Sweet Potato
  • 1 Tbs Grapeseed oil
  • Pepper and other seasonings
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. While oven is heating chop sweet potato into bite sized pieces. Slicing the potato crosswise and then cubing the slices into quarters works best for me. The size of your sweet potato pieces will also affect how long you cook them for.  I also typically don't peel my sweet potatoes because it is a lot more work and there is nothing wrong with the skins, in fact that is usually the healthiest part. Toss the cubed pieces in with some olive oil and seasonings of your choosing. For a more savory flavor, cayenne pepper is recommended but a lot of people think a sweeter flavor is best, this is where you can use cinnamon and sugar if you'd like. Spread the pieces on a baking sheet making sure they don't touch. 

I cooked my sweet potato for 30 mins, checking in on them every now and then and giving them a little stir. The roasted sweet potatoes are great by themselves but usually I have some hummus around that I like to dip them in... this time I decided to make an avocado hummus. It's actually kind of funny because I was thinking if sweet potatoes and avocado would actually be good together when I came across this blog post for a pizza with sweet potato and avocado crema. I knew if someone else had tried it, it would be a great idea. I didn't have chickpeas so I just threw an avocado, clove of garlic and a bit of tahini sauce and lemon into a food processor. Turned out great.

My next roasting adventure included campari tomatoes and in my opinion are the best tomatoes around. These were super easy to roast and tasted amazing. To roast these babies, it's best to use a lower temperature for a longer time period. You can roast as many tomatoes as you want, but it's best to keep them spaced out. 

Roasted Tomatoes
  • 2 TBS grapeseed oil
  • Pepper
  • Garlic (sliced)
  • Salt
  • Other seasoning
  • Sliced tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees then put the grapeseed oil, seasonings and garlic in a shallow baking dish (I used a glass cake pan - 9x13). Slice the tomatoes and mix them in with the oil and seasoning mixture. I roasted my tomatoes for about an hour. Campari tomatoes are rather small so they didn't take as long as larger tomatoes might. The tomatoes are done when they are soft and a bit wrinkly. 
I ate my roasted tomatoes with some polenta I made in the crock pot - which is actually a lot easier than making polenta on the stove. 

Keep on roasting everybody!

Thursday, October 4, 2012


I must admit. I had a lot of leftovers from my 48-hour cleanse, especially radishes. I really haven't ever eaten radishes so I was a little perplexed at what to do with them. I know that typically you find radishes in salads and they have an interesting peppery flavor so I figured I would just combine them with other popular salad toppings and see what happened. This light and refreshing salad was perfect. I sliced radishes, cucumbers and apples (yes apples) super thing with a mandolin and threw them on a plate with some chickpeas and quinoa. Done! I've got veggies and protein and deliciousness in 2 minutes flat. I topped my little salad creation with a fresh ginger and honey dressing. (ginger, honey, rice wine vinegar, lemon zest and pepper). 
<I've also got a side of sauerkraut sitting nearby. Sauerkraut, typically used on hot dogs, is a great probiotic and was an ingredient from the cleanse. It has a vinegary taste so I didn't want to combine it with the rest of my salad but it's still a nice side dish. The only thing is that the cleanse recommended traditionally fermented sauerkraut be used. I looked everywhere for this and had no luck - so I am sure the sauerkraut I am eating isn't necessarily as beneficial for me as it could be, but you have to pick your battles somewhere. I've got a lot of this stuff left, so I am on the hunt for veggie recipes featuring sauerkraut. This should be interesting.

Here are the ingredients for another fresh salad:

  • chickpeas
  • cucumber
  • tomatoes
  • celery
  • mint
  • olive oil
  • pepper

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The 48-Hour Cleanse: Day 2 FAIL

Well Day 2 of the cleanse is on, and Day 1 was quite successful. I only got hungry around 10 p.m.
This morning I made a quinoa breakfast. The recipe, like most of the recipes from Dr. Oz, are pretty large- which makes sense? Bigger portions = less time being hungry?

Breakfast quinoa:
  • 1/2 cup rinsed quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • ginger
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • chopped prunes
Combine quinoa, nutmeg and ginger with 1 cup water. Bring to boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add milk and prunes and cook covered for 10 more minutes. 

Quinoa for breakfast is a lot like having oatmeal. It's filling and tasty and will keep you satisfied for several hours. I ate the quinoa around 8:30 and didn't start getting hungry till 11:30 or so. 

When I started getting hungry I decided to make one of the snacks for the cleanse.
This "snack" is supposed to be a juice (I don't have a juicer so maybe that's where I went wrong) of pineapple, cucumber, kale, lemon, ginger and mint. The recipe called for 4 cups of kale, which to me seemed like a lot - so I reduced the recipe and just added to my liking. The "smoothie" wasn't as good as I would have liked but I guess you can't get it right every time. 

I've been craving a margarhita pizza all morning... so we will see how things go.

The rest of the day includes the same meals as yesterday. The blueberry, banana smoothie and the veggie broth. I won't bore you with those details again, but will discuss later how I feel the cleanse is affecting me.

Later on...

So I FAILED, miserably. Obviously the cleanse was affecting me because I had some definite cravings. To make matters worse, my step dad came home and decided to take me out to dinner and guess where we ended up. An italian place...and we ordered... PIZZA! Way to end a cleanse right? I mean it was veggie and didn't have any tomato sauce so it's not too bad, right?

To make matters even worse, my step dad insisted on me taking the rest of the pizza home (which was like 4 slices). I won't turn down free food soooo now I have a whole weeks worth of pizza sitting in my fridge.

Day 3... a continuation of the 48-hour cleanse I failed at.

This morning I made a smoothie with leftover kale, pineapple, cucumber and pineapple coconut water in hope to make up for the abundance of pizza I will be eating over the next few days. The good thing about this "cleanse" is that all the recipes are ones you can easily incorporate into your everyday diet. Yes, I might have a slice of pizza for lunch - but I can have a fresh veggie salad or smoothie for dinner to counteract. In my opinion that's how people should eat anyway. Enjoy your food, but still keep it healthy.

Maybe one day soon I will try to conquer the 48-hour cleanse for real. Thanks Dr. Oz.... 

Monday, October 1, 2012

The 48-Hour Cleanse: Day 1

I am usually quite busy. Don't get me wrong, I thrive when I am busy - I seem to do a lot more and have a better attitude about a lot of things. When things are slow I seem to revert into this lonesome hermit who doesn't care about much of anything.

However, when things get busy it's hard to keep track of what I am putting in my body. A breakfast taco here, some fries there, a cocktail (or 9) and you forget to do any kind of exercise in the midst of all this. Sometimes time flies and you start feeling like crap and you wonder why and you realize you have gone completely off track. This past week I have experienced this. I was starting to feel puny and ended up getting sick (which I still am recovering from). I knew I needed to do something to turn things around. I came across Dr. Oz 48-hour cleanse, and as I reviewed the menu and it's ingredients I realized it was pretty manageable as long as I could stay away from outside temptations. Luckily enough I had to go home and dog sit for my parents for two days. PERFECT.  The next few posts will be based on my experiences from this 48-hour cleanse, which is smoothie and fresh vegetable based.

Day 1 

Since I have been sick, I ended up sleeping in way later than I am used to (like several hours later). It was so late that I figured I really shouldn't start out with breakfast for the cleanse so I made the lunch smoothie and a snack salad for throughout the day. The smoothie consisted of:
  • 1/2 cup plain/unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tbs flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 banana
  • 1/2 cup of ice
Obviously, throw all of this into a blender until smooth. 
This is a pretty normal smoothie, I would typically make this during a regular day anyway. The snack mix was chopped celery, cucumber and radishes. For the cleanse, you are allowed to eat this mixture throughout the day as well as two other snack alternatives which include another smoothie and a juice mixture. 

This entire cleanse was created to give your body nutrients while detoxifying your kidneys, colon and liver. I am hoping this cleanse will kick-start my body back to what it used to be because this sick feeling is not something I enjoy.

The Dr. Oz Cleanse doesn't mention anything about drinking water or green tea, but I plan to have those two on hand throughout the day. I am an avid coffee drinker, so I need at least a little caffeine - or I will go crazy, also hot tea is making my throat feel better (so much coughing).

Day 1 -  3 p.m.
This is a 32 oz tumbler filled with all the juice created from
the juice recipe minus the glass I had for a snack.

So far today I have had the smoothie mentioned above, a small serving of the fresh mixed salad above and I just made a mixed juice drink consisting of:
  • 3/4 cup pineapple juice (I just blended some pineapple)
  • 1 lemon 
  • 1 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice (not from concentrate)
  • 3 cups water
This recipe made a lot of juice. I only had one regular size glass. The good thing is I have one portion of it made, so I can drink the juice throughout the day. I haven't felt hungry yet, but I don't know if that is related to the fact that the past few days I haven't felt very hungry because I have felt so sick.

Day 1 - Dinner

Dinner consisted of a veggie broth soup and a side of sauerkraut and apples. The broth was really delicious it had all sorts of veggies.
  • Shitake mushrooms
  • Fennel
  • Red Onion
  • Celery
  • Cabbage
  • Garlic 
Chop all those veggies up into medium to small size pieces, they don't have to be chopped nicely - they are just going in the broth and you can eat them if you want. The soup was delicious and light and the recipe made a ton of servings. I've noticed that a lot with the recipes from Dr. Oz, all the servings are huge and they aren't clear on the website if you use one recipe for both days. The soup, obviously can be saved and used as just regular veggie broth, or for a regular soup for several days. I even plan to freeze it and use it later on.