Spice Up Your Water

Finally, it seems like the temperatures are rising a little bit and the sun is shining more than it has been, and spring, or dare I say it, even summer, may be on it’s way. (Although as I type this, of course, I look outside and see a rainy, cloudy, fifty degree day outside.) Well, if you’re lucky enough to live in a place where the weather is predictable and you actually may have consecutive days of nice warm weather before you get rain or cold again, than it may be time to start thinking about summer and spring foods and drinks. Of course on a hot summer day, nothing tastes better than some refreshing and cooling water. If you are like me however, you get easily bored with the same thing over and over again, so I decided to make some tips about spicing up your average every day water.

1.) Fruit Infuser

These are about one of the coolest things ever. Now of course you can also do this without the special water bottle, it may just make it easier if you do it this way. This bottle helps you put a fruit flavour into your water. It is very delicious and tastes really refreshing and clean to drink. You can add in almost any kind of fruit there is and than your water will taste just like it. You can even try different combinations of fruits. Usually I prefer strawberries, they usually taste very very good. The only warning for these is that you can’t leave the fruit in there for too long and you should be constantly refilling your bottle so the it doesn’t go bad or anything.

 

2.) Detox Water

This is what my spring and summer plant will heavily consist of, as I need to start getting back on track to where I was. Detox water is amazing. You make it yourself and usually there are specific drinking instructions like how much and for how long people usually drink it, but it helps you boost metabolism, clean out your insides and make them pure and detox them, hence the name. This water will make you feel fantastic and it tastes really good. There are millions of recipes that are out there, you just have to find the right one for you. For example here are a couple good ones.

Weight Loss

Ingredients: 3 lemons sliced 1/2 cucumber

A bunch of mint leaves (per gallon of water)

Preparation: 1. Slice lemons and cucumbers, wash mint leaves and place in a gallon of water.

2. Let it sit over night in the fridge so the water can soak up all the flavors. Drink up and enjoy the next day!

General Detox

4 Servings; Drink Throughout the Day)

3/4 c unsweetened pineapple juice,

1 lemon

1 c unsweetened pomegranate juice

3 cups water

Stir ingredients together and drink up!

3.) Chai and Cucumber

Chai seeds are very very good for you especially for weight loss reasons and just in general health. One trick to adding them to your diet is through water. I usually put about a spoonful or a little less of the Chia seeds in a bottle of water, add in some cucumbers, strawberries, lemons, or mint leaves and you have a really good healthy drink that you can have anytime. It may be an acquired taste for some, but I really enjoy it.

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Surviving The Holidays

Ahh, the Holidays. The wonderful time when your forced to make pounds of food for people you really don’t like that much, get harassed by family members, and forced to deal with not only the crazy shopping crowds but the unpredictable weather too. I know, about as much as anybody just how stressful the holidays can be. It is only December 10th and I am counting down the days until Dec 26th when all the stress will be over and no more family time (16 by the way). Well, my goal for this post is to help, or at least attempt to, take some of the stress off the minds of all the vegans out there for the holidays. Eating out is hard enough, but family dinners, at least for me seem to be the worst. The typical foods at our family houses for big dinners is meat for the main dish, cheesy sides, and wine. This could lead to a very hungry and very stressed vegan, which is not a good combination. So I have been researching a little bit and am finding some tips to make the holiday eating a bit less stressful.

1. Back Up Food

Rule one in any family situation is either to have a back up plan or an escape route. It’s always a good idea to sneak a bag of almonds, a little bit of peanut butter, or any other of your favourite treats or foods that keep you satisfied. You can leave them in your car or purse as a back up plan so you don’t have to suffer and watch everyone eat while you can’t.

2. Offer to Bring Something

Everybody loves a helpful hand. Get on the good side of your family members and have the oppertunity to have soemthing vegan-approved, by offering to make a side dish or the main meal yourself and bringing it. There are so many recipies out there that most people would never know are vegan and that your families would love. Sometimes it just takes a little research. Here are a couple recipes that I found for every course of a meal;

Side Dishes;

Creamy Roasted Tomato, Garlic, Onion, Coconut Soup– Don’t be turned off by the name, it is very flavourful and have heard really good reviews about this one, and it looks delicious!

Broccoli and Cheese Soup– Finally a good vegan recipe for my favourite soup of all time.

Zucchini and Potato Bake– If you haven’t had this TRY IT! I love both Zucchini and poataos so this is a wonderful combo!

Even more can be found here.

These are just a few examples of some meal ideas. Click on the course that you want a recipe for and a link will take you to some amazing recipes to bring on the holidays.

Main Course                 Dessert                 Pasta Salads                 

 

3. Don’t Change it To All About You

One of the common complaints about Vegans is that they are accused, often unjustly about being very pompous about their eating habits. Be cool, guys. Don’t freak out at weird Uncle Joe for eating some turkey or at Grandma for having a glass of milk, you never know how they’ll react. It’s okay for others to eat differently for whatever their reasons are, so don’t expect people to accommodate you, because it was your choice to eat differently and it’ll all be okay.

 

Hopefully these help out at least a little, I know just in my research I found a ton of good recipes that I am really excited to try out. Stay safe, and try to get through the holidays with minimal mental damage. Happy Cooking and Happy Holidays!

Week 1: S’mores Hot Chocolate

Well, its past Thanksgiving, and I’ve worn my first sweater of the year, so its officially Winter in my book! The snow is falling, the sky is foggy, and presents are being bought. The one thing I don’t like about winter is the cold. When you live in the Midwest, the winters can kill you some years. My knee can predict the weather better than the weathermen, it can change 50 degrees in one day, and its pitch black at 4;30. There are also many plusses to the cold weather though, the act of warming up. After a long day of Christmas shopping, or shoveling, or just being awake, the best thing to come home and do is curl up with a good book and a warm steaming cup of hot chocolate. There are so many kinds of hot chocolate out there and each one is better than the last it seems like. My goal for this winter is to put a different hot chocolate recipe each week until Springs sweet return.

This first week since it’s still pretty close to fall, I chose a fall and winter mix of flavours. Smore’s hot chocolate. Everybody loves a good smore over a fire on fall or summer nights, and who doesn’t love some marshmallows in their coco? I thought this was a genius idea and face palmed myself for not thinking of this or doing this before now. It looks like a really good idea that might spice up the normal hot cocoa that comes around every year. As any one else who lives in a cold dreary winter home will know, you can always use some excitement or extra spice in the dark winter time.

I found this specific recipe from the lovely blog The Cultural Dish, you can find their original post and recipe here. This is a really cool blog and y’all should for sure check it out. I, like her, am a huge dark chocolate fan so I thought that this was very good and tasty. I will post my own pictures later, but this is her picture of the creation she made. IMG_2192

S’mores Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:

1/2 cup sugar

-1/3 cup dark cocoa powder

-1/2 teaspoon salt

-Milk

-Marshmallows

-Graham crackers

Directions: In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt.  This is your hot chocolate mix.  What is great about this, is that you can store it in a container and scoop from it whenever you crave hot chocolate.
When ready to make the hot chocolate, take a mug and fill it with milk about 2/3 of the way up.  Heat the milk for about 1 minute and 30 seconds.  Then, scoop 2 tablespoons of the hot chocolate mix into the mug and stir it in until it dissolves in the milk.  For the purposes of this post, I wet the rim of the mug before filling with milk, so that the graham cracker crumbs would stick to the edge.
Next, break off a few little bits of graham cracker and place them in the mug, on top of the hot chocolate.  Then, pile as many marshmallows as you wish on top of the graham cracker.  I then sprinkled on some more graham cracker crumbs for a little extra crunch!

Using a kitchen torch (or broiler), lightly torch the marshmallows.  Then, grab a spoon, dig in, and enjoy!

For all of you out there, who like me, are dairy free, than this recipe, is one of the few that can easily be adapted into a dairy free by simply exchanging the milk used for water or a dairy free milk. My favourite that I use is the Silk Almond Chocolate milk. It is delicious and even my mother, who is not dairy free, says that she prefers that milk to regular chocolate milk and it is also loads healthier because it’s only 70 calories per glass versus an average of about 209 calories in regular milk.

So I hope everyone enjoys this recipe and keeps looking for future Hot Cocoa recipes to come! Happy Cooking and stay warm out there! 01_snowflake_1

Vegan Tips Video

I found this video on Youtube a while ago and I thought it was really cool. This guys gives some tips for people becoming vegan. It is a hard transition and if you don’t do it right and be careful with it you could end up giving up and going back to regular eating or have health consequences. I would recommend to anyone trying to decide weither to become a vegan or not to follow rules and plans such as this one to give you a guide and make sure that you go through the transition correctly and make it last and worth all your efforts.

There are many different ways that you can go from regular eating to vegan eating. First off I would go vegetarian for a week or so. Take out meat first to let your body get used to the changes. Than after that week I would move on to a full vegan diet. This will make it an easier transition on your body. What I noticed is that for the first little bit I was a lot hungrier and munchy during the day. Eventually I got used to the different foods and my body adjusted. I would make sure that you have a lot of peanut butter at hand and just be smart. Hope these tips help! Happy Cooking!

 

Eating Out- At Home

Everybody loves to go out and have amazing restaurant food, am I right? Although sadly, if you’re as broke as I am, eating out can’t exactly be an every day thing. Wither its to save money, or impress guests with a restaurant style copy cat meal, it’s always been a dream to be able to have your favourite restaurant food at home. Well while looking around the internet I have collected many copy cat restaurant recipes so you can have your favourite foods, but at home. Which is amazing, and a big time, and money, saver. So here are a couple of recipes that copy and tell you how to make your favourite restaurant meals in the comfort of your own home. These are just the beginning few, I will periodically add more as I find some more, so send me a shoutout if you want something specific!

1. Panera- Broccoli and Cheese Soup In a Bread Bowl

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Omg, I was psyched when I found this recipe, because this is my number one favourite food, ever. Perfect comfort food, espically now that the weather is getting colder. This is awesome and this recipe was actually tweeted by Panera themselves, so it’s pretty darn good. I got this recipe from  http://www.budgetsavvydiva.com/2012/05/copy-cat-panera-bread-broccoli-cheese-soup-recipe/. They have a great site and the recipe is really easy to follow and they have a great printable form so you can save it for future use. Here is the basic outline of the recipe:

Ingredients
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 cups half-and-half ( or skim milk)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • ½ pound fresh broccoli ( florets only)
  • 1 cup carrots, julienne
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 8 ounces grated cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Saute onions in a little butter in a small pan – set aside.
  2. In a large stockpot ( I accidentally used a medium-size pan) – melt butter. Add flour and mix for 3 minutes.
  3. Slowly add half- half – mixing the entire time.
  4. Slowly add chicken stock- mixing the entire time.
  5. Let simmer on low for 20 minutes.
  6. Add broccoli, carrots; onions and cook on low for 25 minutes.
  7. Season with salt, pepper; nutmeg.
  8. Place soup in a blender or use an immersion blender and puree.
  9. Heat soup over low heat and add cheese and mix till melted.
  10. Serve ( hopefully in a bread bowl) and Enjoy :)

This is a pretty advances recipe, but it’s not too hard to follow. It will take a little bit of time and it might be a bit intense for a simple bowl of soup for you, but I personally think it is very well worth it. I mean its Panera 😛

If you are like me and want a bread bowl for it too, I found a recipe on a different site, http://www.food.com/recipe/homemade-bread-bowls-495386, that you can totally check out and make that along with it. If your gunna have your cake, you might as well eat it too! I know this sounds like an amazing Saturday afternoon homemade meal.

2. Starbucks Frappuccino

I can’t be the only one out there with an unhealthy Starbucks and coffee addiction right? I would save soooo much money if I just made all my coffee needs at home with my parents food. Well luckily you can!! Yayyyy. So I found this fabulous recipe, this is for a Carmel frapp, but you can easily substitute different ingredients for a different flavor, and even make your own and make your millions selling homemade coffee. I got this recipe from the lovely blog, Mrs. Scales’ Recipes n’ Things, its  a wonderful blog that I really enjoyed.

This version is skinny and gluten free, but yet again you can substitute any ingredients to totally make it your own. So for example I would use soy milk instead of regular milk for the vegan side of it.

Very low calorie version of the Starbucks favorite.. gluten free to boot

 Ingredients:

3 cups ice cubes (3 big handfuls of cubed ice, not crushed ice) 1 cup cold strong coffee, previously brewed and chilled 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or your favorite milk) sugar-free sweetener (Splenda, or your favorite), to taste… I used 4 or 5 packets of splenda cuz i like sweet. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional 2 tablespoons fat free whipped topping, for garnishing 1 tablespoon sugar free caramel sauce for garnishing

Directions:

  1. Combine first 5 ingredients in the canister of a blender  and blend until smooth, creamy, fluffy, frothy, and combined, less than 1 minute. Taste, and if necessary, adjust with a splash more coffee,  milk, dash of sweetener, or a few ice cubes.
  2. Garnish with whipped topping and caramel sauce. Serve immediately.

Tip – Make the full batch and place un-garnished extra portion of  frappuccino in a freezer-safe mug. Later on, simply let it unthaw a bit, either 30 minutes at room temp or about 1 minute in the microwave.
Recipe as seen on averie cooks.

The full recipe, a good 24+ ounces, is essentially calorie-free, until garnishing.
3 cups ice cubes = 0 calories
1 cup of strong cold coffee = 0 calories
1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk = 15 calories for 24+ ounces (almost negligible over the big batch)
sugarfree sweetener (white stevia powder, liquid vanilla stevia drops, Splenda, or your favorite) = 0 calories
optional vanilla extract = o calories
Garnish with 2 tablespoons fat free whipped topping = 5 calories
Garnish with 1 tablespoon sugarfree caramel sauce = 45 calories
= Grand total of 50 calories

These are just a few copy cat recipes and over time I will be trying out and making more of them, but for now I will leave you with these. I really liked these and hopefully you enjoy them too c: If you want me to find any specific copy cat recipe just give me a shout out! Happy Cooking!

Get Excited About Salads

Hi, all! So if you’re anything like me, you get easily bored with having the same foods over and over again, and after a while you need to change things up a little bit. I try to be a really healthy eater, in hopes that it will help. So I try my best to think of creative healthy meals. The first one that comes to your mind is salad, right? Well, salad isn’t exactly the most exciting food out there though, and that leads many people to cringe at it’s name. Simply lettuce, cheese, chicken, and a dressing of your choice isn’t exactly a new and exciting meal that will also fill you up. So my new challenge was to find new and exciting salads to mix up meal time and make it more satisfying. And of course, my recipes will be geared towards vegans, but you can always change and adapt them.

The first thing that you can do is choose some of your favourite fruits and vegetables that you enjoy and don’t mind eating. So make a list of those and than you can go off of that and see what different combinations you can make. Here is my list:

    • Cucumbers
    • Avocado
    • Carrotts
    • Corn
    • Tomato
    • Strawberries
    • Raspberries
    • Apples
    • Broccoli
    • Squash

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It can just be something as simple as that, and than you can look at combinations. There are many things that go into making a perfect salad. Not every salad has to have lettuce in it! If you’re worn out on that green leafy plant, than switch to another one that your not sick of! Soon that will wear off. You can go through your list and look for combinations that you think would be good. Some ones that I would recommend are:

  • Corn, Avocado, Tomato
  • Cucumber, Avocado, Tomato, Squash
  • Lettuce, Strawberries, Apples
  • Tomato, Squash, Cucumber, Corn

As you can see the combinations are really endless, everybody’s preferences will be different, so you might have to experiment and do a little bit of a trial and error thing. Another thing that you want to keep in mind is filling you up and getting enough protein so you are full. Now if you eat meat, than by all means add some bacon sprinkles, chicken, ham, and than if you eat dairy add some blue cheese, mozerella cheese, whatever hits your fancy, go for it! There is a lot of protein in many fruits and vegetables such as broccoli (4.6g per cup) and Corn (5g per cup). If you really want to make sure that you stay full all day long, which I admit is sometimes very hard, espically around 3pm. One thing you could do to add protein is add some potatoes. Those are pretty good for you and filling. You can cook and cut a full potato in smaller pieces, or you can buy frozen ones that are pre cut. You can also add some nuts like soy beans or peanuts that add a cool flavor to things and some crunchy textures.

Lastly you think about the dressing. For salads such like these, I usually lean towards using a greek dressing, those are my new addiction and they tend to taste and go along great with salads such as these but it might be a flavor that many people don’t like. You could also go for an Italian or another more clear and lighter dressing. I would tend to lean away from more creamy dressings like ranch or honey mustard, but that’s just my preference. So go through your cupboards and experiment on creating new and fun salads so you can look forward to lunch this week! I’d love to hear any of your new recipes and try them out myself too, so feel free to comment on your favourite salad recipe, and happy cooking! c:

Mediterranean-chopped-salad

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Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Everybody loves a good Recess Peanut Butter Cup, am I right? Personally those are my favourite candies of all time, I can never pass em down. So while we had a lot of them sitting around the house, I decided to see if I could find a good recipe to make them into a cookie. Part of my motivation might also be the fact my mother wanted me to make cookies for a school function, but that’s besides the point. So off to pinterest I went! And I found this amazing blog with many other peanut butter cup or other candy recipies that you should all totally check out and make, and than send to me ;). This recipe —-> caught my eye and I decided to go ahead and make it! These are super easy and super fun to make, and they are delicious!

The recipe is as shone here:

Ingredients
•1/2 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter (JIF is best)
•1/2 Cup Butter, Softened (just let it sit on the counter for a bit, do NOT microwave)
•1/2 Cup White Sugar
•1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar
•1 Teaspoon Whole Milk
•1 Large Egg
•1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla
•1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
•1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
•1/2 Teaspoon Salt
•1 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
•1/4 Cup Chocolate Chips
•1/2 Cup Peanut Butter Cups, chopped

Instructions
1.Heat the oven to 350.
2.In a large bowl combine the sugars, peanut butter, egg, milk and vanilla. Mix until smooth and well incorporated.
3.In a smaller bowl mix the dry ingredients with a whisk. This will allow even distribution in the cookies so they bake up perfect.
4.Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix together. Do not over mix.
5.Using a wooden spoon, mix in the chocolate chips and Peanut Butter Cups.
6.Scoop onto a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.
7.Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a minute before moving them to a cooling rack.

These cookies turned out very soft and fluffy and you could taste the peanut butter very well, but they were still fabulous and it wasn’t too overpowering, if it is possible that peanut butter can be too overpowering. For the cookies that I made I used the unwrapped mini peanut butter cups and cut them into foruths and mixed them in the dough with about half of a bag of mini chocolate chips. From what I could tell one bag of the mini cups were enough for the whole batch, and most of the cookies if not all, had some peanut butter cup in them. The batch makes about two pans of smaller cookies I believe it was close to two dozen give or take a few. These were AMAZING cookies and I would totally add to the list of recipies for y’all to try. Thank you again to Oh, Sweet Basil, for the amazing recipe and the great blog! Happy Cooking!