Friday, June 28, 2013

Austin [In Pictures]

Hey all! Sorry it's been so quiet around here the last couple weeks. As I said in my last post I went and spent a few days down in Austin (my first Texas experience!) and the surrounding area visiting this guy and a few old  friends. So if it's cool with you, I'd like to share a few photos from the week. I completely forget to take pictures for about 2 1/2 days there, but this will still give you an idea.
His and Hers smoothies
On Saturday, four of us went floating down St. Marcos River. 
This guy followed us for most of the river.
I kinda like this guy a lot.
I've missed these ladies. We were roommates together about 5 years ago. Time flies.
I love trips that allow me to see multiple new cities and places at once!
Road trips!!!
The three of us go way back... almost 8 years.
She's one of my favorite people in the whole world.
And she's the one who told me I had to try a kolache while I was down there.
I love big open skies!
Sam took me down to the gulf because he knows how much I miss the ocean.

Well there you have it. I may share some more pictures here and there, but didn't want to go totally crazy with this post. I'll be back with a recipe tomorrow! In the meantime, have a fantastic weekend!

Friday, June 21, 2013

[Travel] Austin Bound.

Hey all! I'm headed to Austin, TX today! I'll be back to blog next week. In the meantime feel free to tell me all the awesome things I should do in the Austin/ Houston area! Have a fantastic weekend!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Lemon & Garlic Herb Hummus (Vegan, Gluten Free, Grain Free)

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! 
Today we're talking about hummus, but before I get to that, I have a very important question to ask you all...

Have you tried these cookies
I walked down (or up, really) to one of my favorite coffee shops in town, Raven's Nest. While I was waiting in line to order my small iced coconut almond milk latte, I noticed a basket full of cookies. Maybe it was the turquoise packaging (I'm a sucker for anything turquoise) that caught my eye or maybe it was the word chocolate or maybe it was just the fact that there was a vegan cookie the size of my face within inches of me, who knows. The point is, I bought it and ate and it was delicious. They also had other flavors like double chocolate chip, espresso chocolate chip and lemon poppyseed. I decided to stick with a classic for my first try. I figure if they can make a good chocolate chip cookie than their others flavors probably aren't half bad either. Sounds logical, right? Anyway, the whole point of this rant is to say that these cookies taste great, they're vegan and you should try them. They even have some gluten free options. Just keep in mind that just because something is vegan, doesn't mean you should eat 5 of them, they're just a better alternative than let's say Mrs. Fields.....anyway, moving on. Where were we?

Ah, yes. Hummus. I love hummus. I love hummus so much that a few years back when I was living on the Big Island of Hawaii I used to make hummus by hand. Now I don't mean homemade. I mean I literally crushed the beans with my bare hands. Why didn't I just buy hummus? Who knows. All I know is I used to put all the ingredients in a plastic bag, turn on a TV show and sit there crushing beans for twenty-five minutes. I mean, that's what all the cool kids do, right?

Fortunately, now I have a food processor to do the work for me (although, I've just about worn the poor thing out, so I still get the same slightly chunky results I came to know and love). You however, won't have to deal with that most likely. 

This hummus is super easy to make and is full of healthful ingredients. I made it without tahini, as opposed to the traditional way because I didn't have any on hand and because that's the way I've always made it because I never have tahini on hand, but if you do have some, feel free to use it. 

Lemon & Garlic Herb Hummus
  • 1 Can Chickpeas (I like the no salt added kind)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Juice from 1 Small Lemon
  • Handful of Parsley, Leaves and Stems
  • Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to Taste
Makes approximately 4-6 servings.
Rinse and drain chickpeas then place them in the food processor along with all the other ingredients apart from the parsley. Puree the ingredients until smooth, if more liquid is needed add a small bit of water until ingredients blend. Add the parsley and puree until it is fully incorporated and chopped into small pieces. Taste test and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Feel free to throw in other herbs as well, thyme would be especially good.
Serve with veggies, pita chips, pretzel crisps, flat bread, spread on a sandwich or whatever strikes your fancy.

How do you make hummus?
Have you tried Alternative Baking Company's products?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mocha Coconut Chia Frappe & Pudding (Vegan, Gluten Free, Grain Free)

I know, I know. You're probably thinking, "Seriously Joy? Another chia recipe?" But you know what? I've waited over a month to post another one. Plus this is two recipes in one. Plus it involves chocolate and coconut and it's healthy. So can we just momentarily look past my chia seed obsession? Mokaythanks. 

[I need to buy smaller mason jars apparently.]

I worked at Starbucks for over three years. I saw the crazy in people's eyes when they found out it was Mocha Coconut Frappuccino season. Or even worse, when the season ended *shudders*. But to all you frappuccino lovers out there, be prepared because this is going to put your favorite drink to shame, both in flavor and most definitely in health. This is made with real coconut, real chocolate and it tastes real good. So let's get to it!

Okay, so you have two options. You can either enjoy this as a pudding or as a drink. The choice is up to you. Spoon or straw? Let's start with spoon.

Mocha Coconut Chia Pudding
  • 1 Cup Coconut Milk
  • 3 Tablespoons Chia Seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon Cacao Powder
  • 1 Heaping Tablespoon of Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 1/2-1 Tablespoon Instant Espresso Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • Pure Maple Syrup or Agave to sweeten to taste
Makes 1-2 Servings.
Throw all the ingredients into the blender and blend until the mixture takes on a thick consistency, approximately 1-2 minutes. Adjust sweetness if necessary. Pour the pudding into a bowl and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. Serve and enjoy.

Now for the frappe, it's not too different...

Mocha Coconut Chia Frappe
  • 1 Cup Coconut Milk
  • 1/2 Cup -1 Cup Ice (depending on how icey you like it)
  • 3 Tablespoons Chia Seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon Cacao Powder
  • 1 Heaping Tablespoon of Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 1/2-1 Tablespoon Instant Espresso Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • Pure Maple Syrup or Agave to sweeten to taste
Makes 1-2 Servings.
Throw all the ingredients into the blender and blend until the mixture takes on a thick consistency, approximately 1-2 minutes. Pour into a cup, add a straw if you like, sit back and enjoy your frappe.

Other options!
-If you're not a fan of coffee or don't want all the caffeine, feel free to leave it out, it'll still taste great.
-To make your frappe or pudding a little fancy, toast up some shredded coconut and sprinkle it on top. (To toast coconut, just toss some in a small skillet and toast over medium-low heat. Be sure to stir it around so it doesn't burn, it'll toast quickly).

Are you a frappuccino fanatic?
If so, what's your favorite flavor?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Salted Brown Sugar Cookies (Vegan)

Hey all!
As anticipated I had another smoothie bowl for breakfast. I ran out out of coconut milk so I used almond milk instead, definitely not as good. Still tasty, but not as creamy. Anyway that was yesterday. Today we are talking about cookies. Salted Brown Sugar Cookies to be exact.

I have to admit, I'm not really into adding sea salt to everything like most people are these days. Don't get me wrong, I love sweet and salty, but I usually prefer mostly salt with a little bit of sweet or sweet and spicy or just straight sweet. Anyway, today I wanted to try this recipe again (I made a chocolate version for my brother's birthday awhile back) and for some reason it just felt like there should be salt on top. So that's what I did. I will admit as a first timer to the sea salting world, I over salted. Rookie mistake. They still tasted good, but it was a little too much. Also, as I was making them I was sprinkling regular sea salt on top of the dough and mentioned to Molly, "I wish we had coarse sea salt" to which she replied that we did. Whoops. So the first batch (the ones I got pictures of, of course) are over salted and made with the wrong salt. You live and you learn.

So when you go to make these cookies, aim to sprinkle less salt than you see in the above picture. Ha. Look at all that salt. What was I thinking?

The good news is, even if you're not a fan of sea salt sprinkled on top of your cookies, these taste great without it! I mean if you're into super soft and chewy cookies, but let's be serious... no one likes soft and chewy cookies. Ha! 

Salted Brown Sugar Cookies
Adapted from this recipe
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Oil
  • 1 Cup Vegan Brown Sugar (not packed)
  • 1 Flax Egg (1 TB ground flax seed stirred into 3 TB water)
  • 2 Tablespoons Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tablespoon Unsulphered Molasses (I used Blackstrap)
  • 1 3/4 Cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • Coarse Sea Salt for Sprinkling
Makes approximately 1 dozen.
In a small bowl, make your flax egg and set aside. In a medium size bowl, cream together coconut oil and brown sugar until fully combined, set aside. Whisk the flax egg for about 30 seconds to a minute, then add it to the creamed mixture and whisk it all together. Add the vanilla and molasses, whisk again until everything is fully mixed. Add the flour, baking soda and baking powder and stir until fully combined. Place the dough in the refrigerator for at least half an hour. 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a tablespoon, scoop out the dough and place on parchment paper, silpat or greased cookie sheet, do not flatten. I fit 9 cookies nicely on my silpat, they will spread. Next, lightly sprinkle the sea salt onto the cookies. Place the cookies in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes. The cookies will still feel slightly soft on top, when they are removed from the oven, but they will harden up slightly. Allow to cool for at least five minutes before serving. Share with a friend and enjoy!

I'm also thinking these cookies would be fantastic to make ice cream sandwiches out of with vanilla bean coconut ice cream or even banana ice cream. Hmmmm... I may need to get started on that.

Are you a fan of the sea salt trend?
If so, what tasty treats have you made?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Berry Coconut Smoothie Bowl (Vegan, Gluten Free)

Summer has finally come to Colorado! And it is in full swing, let me tell ya! So far it's been in the mid 90s everyday this week with no signs of stopping. I love it! But unfortunately, this also means wildfires. There have been/ are three fires today, so please keep the people in those areas in your prayers.

Today, I'm very excited to share with you one of my favorite summer breakfasts. It's loaded with nutrients, but you feel like you're eating an ice cream sundae....okay that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it is sweet and creamy! I love smoothies, perhaps more than the average person, but sometimes I miss chewing my food, plus there's just something about eating breakfast out of a bowl with a spoon, you're just supposed to. So I present to you: the smoothie bowl. 

What I really like about smoothie bowls is that they keep you full for a long time and you get to start your day loaded up with vitamins and minerals. Plus it's cold and refreshing and all around wonderful. You can really make these using whatever ingredients you like, but today I'm going to share the recipe for what I've been eating the past two mornings because it's delicious and I'll probably eat it again tomorrow morning.

Berry Coconut Smoothie Bowl
  • Half a Banana, frozen
  • Heaping 1/2 Cup Frozen Berries (I used a mix of raspberries, blackberries and blueberries)
  • 1 Cup Coconut Milk
  • Sprinkle of Old Fashioned Oats
  • Sprinkle of Ground Flax Seed
  • Sprinkle of Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • Sprinkle of Raw Sliced Almonds
Makes 1-2 Servings.
Place banana, berries and coconut milk in the blender. Blend until smooth, you want it to be very thick and creamy in texture. Pour into a bowl, sprinkle on the toppings and enjoy! Simple as that.

What are some of your favorite summer foods?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Favorite Things Friday

Happy Friday! 
I haven't done one of these in a few weeks, sometimes life just gets in the way, but I think that's okay. There's been some really cool stuff floating around the internet the past few weeks and I'm excited to share them with you all! Just click on the links to be taken to the original source.

Favorite Wall Calendar
Cute chalkboard calendar in the kitchen
I've seen many different ways that chalkboard paint is incorporated into kitchens, but I think this might be my favorite. This is much better than a calendar with pictures of puppies or places you'll never visit that you just throw away at the end of the year. It's just so fun and practical!

Favorite Salsa
Grilled Corn Salsa!
Okay, maybe not my absolute favorite salsa. Anyone who knows me knows my heart will always belong to Newman's Own Pineapple Salsa (I may have polished off a whole jar in a day more than once in my life), but this has got to be up there as one of the tastiest salsas I've ever eaten. It's also great with black beans mixed in or throw in some quinoa as well and you've got yourself a tasty meal! 

Favorite Grilled Salad
Yes, I said grilled salad. Everything in this salad is grilled, even the romaine. How creative is that? And you can't tell me this doesn't look delicious, I won't believe you. We'll just add this salad to the long list of reasons why I need to find myself a grill this summer. 

Favorite Recipe I Almost Posting The Same Day She Posted This, But Didn't Post Mine Because I Didn't Want to Be a Cheater
Strawberry coconut shortcakes
Yes, that's totally a category. Remember the other day when I was talking about making the oatmeal cream sandwich cookies? Well, when I had woken up that morning I was planning on making a recipe very similar to this one, but then I logged onto Bloglovin' and saw that Ashlae had beaten me to it and it felt wrong to post a similar recipe like I was breaking some kind of blogger code or something. Anyway, this looks absolutely delicious. How can you go wrong with strawberries and coconut? You can't. 

Favorite Mustard
Sweet Spicy Mango Mustard Ashlee Piper The Little Foxes Vegan Recipe
I love sweet. I love spicy. I love mangoes. So this dipping sauce sounds like I sure winner to me. Plain and simple.

Favorite New Documentary
Not to get all serious on you guys or to be a total downer, but I was so psyched when a friend had posted this trailer on Facebook this morning. If you haven't heard of this movie, it's about the killer whale Tilikum who was responsible for the deaths of three trainers including the one back in 2010 at Seaworld. It exposes the cruel life that these majestic creatures are subject to. We see how they are captured and forced to live in confined spaces sometimes as small as twenty feet! Orcas kill great white sharks out in the wild, it should come as no surprise to us that they kill people when forced to live their lives in tiny pools. I think the idea of being able to see the creatures up close at parks like Seaworld is great, but practically speaking it is horrible for the animals. I've felt strongly about this for a long time and after spending time swimming with dolphins out in the wild and seeing whales in their natural habitat it has only made me more passionate. Starting next month they'll be showing this documentary in select locations around the country, you can find those showings here, it also gives you the sign up to be notified when the movie does come to your area. To find out more about the movie, check out the official website. Okay, rant over.

Favorite Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream
I realize I already posted one of Ashley's recipes today, but what can I say? The girl was on fire this week. I mean just look at that ice cream! The best part? It's vegan! Normally I'm not a fan of chocolate peanut butter ice cream, it's always too rich or just too much somehow, but this. This looks like the perfect use of the two flavors. Chunks of peanut butter and swirls of chocolate set against a backdrop of vanilla bean ice cream. Yep, that's what I'm talking about.

Well, I hoped you guys enjoyed this week's edition. Hopefully you found a new favorite blog or a recipe to try or a movie to see because, well, that's what these posts are all about!

What do you have planned for this weekend?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Vanilla Pear Cake (Vegan)

Happy Tuesday Everyone!
I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and Monday, and by this point in the day a good Tuesday as well. My day's been great. Ran a bunch of errands, bought and planted some Lemon Balm and got a free head of broccoli at Sprouts!

I've been doing a lot of playing around in the kitchen the past few days. It's always interesting, because I think I know what I'm making, but the finished product doesn't always turn out that way. For example, yesterday I started off making vegan oatmeal cream sandwich cookies, but by the time I was done playing with and manipulating the ingredients it became a raw strawberry cream pie. How does this happen? I am not entirely sure. But hey, at least the cream part stayed the same, right? 

This Vanilla Pear Cake, however, turned out exactly how I had envisioned it, which I thoroughly appreciated after all my experimenting. It's super easy to make and would be a great treat to serve at brunch or as dessert topped with coconut whipped cream.

Vanilla Pear Cake
  • 1 Flax Egg (1 Tablespoon Ground Flaxseeds mixed with 3 Tablespoons Water)
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Oil
  • 2/3 Cup Vegan Brown Sugar
  • 1 Vanilla Bean (or 1 1/2 Tablespoons Pure Vanilla Extract)
  • 1/2 Cup Almond Milk
  • 1 1/2 Cup Flour (I used 1/2 Cup Whole Wheat, 1 Cup Unbleached All-Purpose)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon, plus some for garnish
  • 1 1/2 Ripe Pears, 1 diced, 1/2 sliced
Makes 1 6-inch cake or 1 loaf.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease the loaf or cake pan (I used coconut oil). Make the flax egg and set it aside. Soften the coconut oil (mine was soft enough right out of the cupboard). Cream the sugar with the oil, set aside. Whisk the flax egg for about a minute, add the vanilla and whisk for another minute. Add the flax/ vanilla mixture to the oil/ sugar mixture and whisk well. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Add the almond milk to the wet mixture, whisk well and quickly to not allow the coconut oil to harden again. Add the dry mix to the wet and stir until just combined. Add the chopped pears and mix again until pears are evenly dispersed. Batter may be slightly thicker than normal cake batter, that's okay. Pour/ spoon batter into loaf/ cake pan and arrange pear slices in a spiral design, sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted and removed cleanly. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before removing from pan. Then sit down with a cup of tea, a good friend and enjoy your delicious cake.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

[Fitness] Fab Ab Challenge with Greetings from Nolandia

With it finally starting to feel like summer, I thought it was about time to do another fitness post. Warm weather is upon us which means bathing suits and smaller clothing. In other words, it's time to kick it into high gear!

But before I get into the details of this challenge, I want to emphasis one thing: It is never my intention with these challenges to make people feel like they need to lose weight or that they are fat or any of that. I simply want to challenge people to be their best selves. When I work out, I don't do it to be skinnier. I work out to be toned, to build a strong body, to have energy and to feel comfortable great in my own skin. And that's all I want for you guys. 

Alright, so let's talk about this challenge. I read about it last night on Greetings From Nolandia and thought it was a great idea to get some rock hard abs for summer. Basically what Alexandria is doing is starting the challenge by doing 100 crunches today and then each day for the rest of the month she'll add 5 more crunches. So tomorrow she'd do 105, then 110, then 115 and so on for the rest of the month. You can start with 100 or you can start with 50 or 25, whatever your level is, start there and add 5 crunches each day. If this challenge interests you, head over to her blog to read more and to let her know you're joining!

I'm going to be doing the challenge a little differently. It's going to be the same concept- starting with 100 reps and then adding 5 more each day- but I'm not only going to be doing crunches. Instead I'm going to do a total of 100 reps (or whatever the number is for that day) of various ab exercises. This way all of my ab muscles will get toned. Plus I'll avoid any strain I may put on my neck and back just doing crunches. And let's face it, it'd get bored if I was just doing crunches. However, for people who thrive on repetition, do it Alexandria's way. It'll be easier to focus and get your reps done. I just know I don't work like that. 

So what other types of exercises will I be doing? So glad you asked! I'll be doing my favorite ab workout. Plus moves from this Jillian Michaels video:

So what do you say? Ready to start sweating? Keep in mind, that you also don't need to do all the reps at once, you can break them down into smaller chunks. Do some first thing in the morning, some when you get home from work and some at night. Whatever works for you- just do it!

So who's in?

*Special thanks to Alexandria of Greetings from Nolandia for the great idea!*