Sunday, April 13, 2014

Yellow Curry Hummus (Vegan, Gluten Free)

It's 7:30 on a Sunday morning. I've been wide awake for a good hour now. I have no good reason for this, I have no plans, no place to be. In fact, I am quite sure the reason for my early rise is the fact that I passed out before 8:30 on a Saturday night. Am I the lamest person who has ever existed? Does it make me lamer (more lame?) still that it doesn't bother me that I feel asleep so early? Or does this just confirm what my sister has been telling me for years? That I am a crocheting, quilt-making, cookie-baking, 27 year old grandma. 

Whatever the consensus, believe it or not I did not sign into Blogger today to talk about my sleeping habits (or my lack of a life apparently). I am here because a few day ago on Instagram I (@loveofleaves) posted a photo of the giant bowl of hummus I was consuming and promised that I would share the recipe soon. It's been a few days. I think the suspense has been built up long enough.

This delicious hummus recipe was not, in fact a result of my pure genius when it comes to creating in the kitchen. I stumbled upon it by pure chance. I eat a lot of hummus and the kind I really like (ironically enough named Gramma's Hummus) is five dollars per tub, with maybe two cups per container. I won't make you do the math, but let me just say that my hummus habit gets pretty expensive. Last week I decided to get back in the habit of making my own hummus, it doesn't take long and it will save me a lot of money over time. So while I was tossing the garlic and the lemon juice into the food processor I searched through my cupboards for anything else that may make this hummus taste good enough to convince myself it's worth the small effort to continue making it at home. That's when I saw the turmeric.

Turmeric has been getting a lot of attention lately and it is well deserved. It's a bright yellow-orange spice used in many foods from curry to yellow mustard. The reason it's been in the spotlight is because of it's high anti-inflammatory properties. It has been shown to help those with ailments such as arthritis, cystic fibrosis, psoriasis, high cholesterol, various bowel disorders as well as many more. This root spice is also high in manganese, iron, potassium and contains many other important minerals. Apart from all that, it has a great flavor. I always add a little turmeric to my scrambled eggs or other dishes where its bright color won't affect the appearance of the food. So when I spotted it in the cupboard while making my hummus, I figured what's the harm in trying it and sprinkled some into the food processor. Only my clumsy hands turned the delicate sprinkle into more of a spasm that resulted in adding more turmeric than I had planned. Fortunately, for all of us my klutziness resulted in some mighty tasty hummus.

Yellow Curry Hummus
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Throw all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Store in the refrigerator. Serve with pretzels, pita chips, carrots, sliced red pepper, cucumber or other favorite vegetables.

P.S.- I had a fantastic time in Puerto Rico! To see some pictures from the trip, head to my Instagram (@loveofleaves)
P.P.S- I believe I still need to announce the winner from the giveaway in my last post. The winner is (drum roll please)... Joyti! I'll be getting in touch with you soon to figure out where to send your energy bars.

I hope you all are doing wonderfully. What have you been up to this past month? Have you ever accidentally made an awesome recipe? I want to hear about it!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Travel Snacks: Roasted Peanut and Dark Chocolate Energy Squares (Vegan, Gluten Free) + A Giveaway!

I'm antsy. I get that way sometimes. 

It usually goes something like this: I'm going through life as everyone does; showing up to work on time, try to be a decent employee and attempt to be a better human being. I cook dinner some nights, some nights I'm lazy and order yellow curry or just eat a mishmash of what I find in my refrigerator. I shower most days: shampoo, soap, conditioner, face scrub (sometimes I get a little crazy and wash my face before I condition my hair). I complain about a new zit, wonder why my hair does nothing, but lay flat and stick straight, tell myself to exercise more- I really should try out that yoga studio down the street, ask myself when was the last time I bought an article of clothing that wasn't a V neck t-shirt from Target. I wipe down the counters in the kitchen, sweep the floor, clean the bathroom...and then somewhere in the middle of scrubbing the toilet this thought pops in my head: "I have got to get out of here." 

This thought isn't necessarily born out of boredom or out of discontentment with my life, I just truly like variety. I like to be kept on my toes. I like to explore new places and get away. In the last ten years I have barely stayed in one place for longer than a year. I have been fortunate that life has afforded me those opportunities, always providing employment and shelter. Austin has been my home now since last August and that itch to get out is getting stronger and stronger everyday. Again, I'm not miserable with my life by any means, there's just so much to see out there, why just stay here forever?

Moving is not on the table for me right now so that means I get to do the next best thing: Sunday morning I am headed to Puerto Rico for a week with one of my favorite friends. I cannot tell you how excited I am to have a solid week of Alisha time, warm weather, exploration and the ocean- oh, the ocean how I have missed you! The paddle-boarding, free diving and kayaking cannot begin soon enough!

Whenever I travel I like to be prepared. I like to have books to read, podcasts downloaded and food packed. If I leave for a trip unprepared with snacks I find myself wandering the airport on a layover, pacing back and forth, my stomach telling me just to pick something anything 'cause it's starving! -while my brain is saying, well now wait a second, how will that seemingly "healthy" cup of frozen yogurt make us feel later?

For this trip, I will be leaving my house around 8:30am and arriving in San Juan around 7pm. That's a long time for me to fight off my stomach's pleas for unhealthy airport food (plus, it's just so stupidly expensive!).

Here's what I'll be bringing with me:
-My Nalgene water bottle always comes with me. It is so, so important to stay hydrated while traveling, especially on airplanes because that stuffy, recirculated air will do nothing, but dehydrate you. Just be sure that your water bottle is empty when going through the security lines and refill it at a water fountain afterwards.
-Two organic apples. I always bring apples with me when I travel. They're easy to pack and full of fiber- which is very beneficial since the last thing you want to be on your vacation is constipated, making sure you're consuming plenty of water and fiber will help prevent that.
-A few homemade energy squares. I don't always make the same kind every time, but I love bringing these with me. These squares are filling, easy to pack, don't make a mess and are full of nutritional goodness! Check out the recipe I made for this trip at the end of this post.
-Crackers. This one is a new addition to the list, but the last couple times I've flown I've felt nauseous and found myself wishing I had some crackers to help settle my stomach. I found this great brand called Mariner at Whole Foods. I bought they're Olive Oil and Sea Salt crackers. Their non-GMO ingredients are so simple: unbleached wheat flour, olive oil, a little sugar and sea salt. Perfect.
-I'm also bringing a simple trail mix I made for Alisha and I to share throughout the week or when we're hiking through the rain forest. I like making my own trail mix. It takes seconds and gives me control over what is in it. I can chose which nuts I want raw or toasted or salted. I can also make sure the dried fruits aren't loaded with added sugars, preservatives or other unnecessary additives. For this trip the trail mix is made up of dry roasted peanuts, raw pecans, raw almonds, raw shelled sunflower seeds and raisins.
-Lastly, I've packed some store bought energy bars. There are many kinds out there, many of which I avoid because as healthy as they advertise themselves to be, it's just not the case. However, I've found two brands that only use ingredients I'd use when making my own bars that also don't break the bank. One is an Austin-based company called Thunderbird Energetica. The other is called Pure Organic (scroll to the bottom of the post for more information and for a give-away). I'm bringing these for Alisha and I to share as a snack, a quick breakfast or as travel food on the way back if we don't end up eating them before then.

Roasted Peanut and Dark Chocolate Energy Squares

  • 1 cup pitted dates (approximately 10)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup raw shelled sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon flax seeds
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons non-dairy dark chocolate chunks
Makes 8 squares.
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor. Blend until the ingredients begin to stick together. You may want to turn off the food processor and test the mixture to make sure it sticks together. If you want the fruit and nuts in smaller chunks continue to blend until you've achieved the desired consistency. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Press the fruit/ nut mixture firmly and evenly into the pan. Place in the fridge to set for at least half an hour (or in the freezer for at least ten minutes) before cutting into squares. Store the squares, wrapped in parchment paper, in the fridge or freezer until ready to eat or travel. 

-If you have a gluten intolerance or allergy be sure to use certified gluten free oats or just omit them altogether.
-This recipe if very flexible, if you don't like peanuts or sunflower seeds substitute pecans, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, etc. 
-If you want the chocolate fully incorporated into the bars blend them with the other ingredients straight away. If you want more of a chocolate chip effect, blend them in after the other ingredients are partially or entirely blended. 

Now, on to the giveaway. This is the second giveaway I'll be sharing on the blog. This first was for some of my vanilla extract last summer... so it's been awhile. Anyway, I am very excited to be giving away some Pure Organic Bars. The company has not paid me or asked me to do this (although if they'd like to, I'll take their money!), I just really like these bars. They are as close to perfect as I've found when it comes to prepackaged energy bars that cost less than two dollars each. There are lots of great flavors like Apple Cinnamon, Wild Blueberry, Chocolate Brownie and Cherry Cashew. They are made up almost entirely of organic fruits and nuts- very similar to the ones I make at home. All you need to do to enter the giveaway is leave a comment on this post. That's it. Pretty simple. I'll be picking a winner at random after I come back from Puerto Rico. 

Phew, this felt like a really long post. I've done enough talking. I want to hear from you guys.
What travel snacks do you like?
What do you do to keep yourself occupied on a plane?
Are you a window, aisle or middle seat (do those people even exist?) person?

Have a fabulous week!

P.S.- For those who don't know, I am now on Instagram! So if you want behind the scene pictures of the blog and my life follow me --> loveofleaves

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Vegan Pistachio Dark Chocolate Chunk Muffins + A Rant

A few years ago, I had a small, marginally profitable hobby of making bags, purses and quilts out of reclaimed fabric. It was a fun way to use my spare time, a great outlet for my creativity and it was inspiring to be a part of the supportive and friendly community on Etsy.

After a few months, when my bags were beginning to catch on and people began requesting custom bags, the pressure started to get to me. I would stress myself out about getting everything done in time, about not wanting to overcharge, but still make some money. Then business would slow down every once in awhile, as all businesses do, and I would stress about not having any customers. I would look around at other shops and compare my dozens of sales to their hundreds or thousands. It didn't matter that they had been doing this for years and I had only been at it a couple months, in my mind they were better and I might as well quit now.

This is how I have been for as long as I can remember. This strange perfectionism that is the perfect blend of drive and handicap; I will try my hardest if I know I will succeed, but if it's a draw I might as well back out gracefully rather than admit defeat, or worse failure. I recognize that this line of thinking is ridiculous and that I sound like a spoiled brat wanting to be successful at whatever I attempt straight away.  However, knowing all this didn't stop me from starting to feel those same familiar feelings all over again, but this time instead of my Etsy shop, it was blogging that received the full brunt of it. Much like the many Etsy shops out there intimidating me, there are oh so many food blogs reminding me of how far I have to go. Which is ridiculous in and of itself, because I set out to have this blog be a hobby, you can't fail at a hobby, unless you altogether stop doing it.

But before I knew it, I found myself looking at A Beautiful Mess and seeing how they post multiple times a day, not taking into account that they have been working hard for six years and now have a hired team helping them post so frequently. I'd stare in awe of the beautiful pictures on the Sprouted Kitchen, forgetting the fact that Sara's professional photographer husband takes the pictures. I love reading posts by Oh Lady Cakes, even if I don't care about the recipe because she's such a brilliant writer, whereas I suffer from writer's block constantly.  I drool over Emily's raw creations on This Rawsome Vegan Life and envy the fact that she's quite a few years younger than me and already has a book out (which I can't to order by the way!). Anyway, you get the idea. I don't want you to think I'm some kind of horrible green eyed monster of a person because most days I'm not. Even the days I get down on myself I'm never resentful to the people who have succeeded, I truly am happy for them and am grateful they do what they do because they inspire me everyday.

But sometimes no matter how happy you are for another person, no matter what the context it's so easy for those feelings of inadequacy to slowly creep back in. And those feelings are tricky little buggers, you never see them coming or you shove them off thinking they'll amount to nothing until one day you find yourself staring at the blinking cursor on your computer monitor completely paralyzed because you've gone and compared yourself one too many times. I know this all sounds highly over dramatic, but sometimes that's just the way life is and that's the honest truth of why things have slowed down around here. I promised myself when I started this blog almost a year ago that I would not allow it to become a source of stress in my life. Its a hobby, a way for me to catalog various recipes I come up with and that's a great thing. Because that's what I can handle in my life right now. I may look at other blogs and think oh man, they got a book deal?! When in reality , if I was given the task of writing a book right now I'd freak out. That's not where I am right now and that's okay. We are each on our own journey, it makes no sense to compare ourselves. All we can do is keep our heads down, work hard and cheer others on as they accomplish new things.

So this is me not giving up. This is me fighting for myself for once instead of against. Who knows what the future holds. Maybe in a few years this will still be a small blog and a fun hobby for me, maybe it will become a source of income, maybe I will decide it's not for me and leave it in the past, or maybe it will lead to new opportunities and ideas that I have yet to think of. One thing is for sure, I will never know the outcome until I keep taking steps forward instead of constantly looking to the side.

Thanks for bearing with me and allowing me to share a bit of myself today. Hopefully it wasn't too much of a downer. Now's let's get to the muffins, shall we?

Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Chunk Muffins
  • 1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed mixed with 3 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 2/3 cups whole spelt flour
  • 2/3 cup pure cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dairy-free  dark chocolate chips, chopped
Makes 12 muffins or 6 large muffins.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line muffin tin with liners or grease lightly with coconut oil. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together coconut oil, flax seed mixture, vanilla and apple cider vinegar. Add flour, sugar, salt and baking powder, stir. Mix in the almond milk, then the pistachios and chocolate chunks (save some nuts and chunks to sprinkle on top of the muffins if desired). Fill muffin liners 3/4 of the way full and place in the oven for 25 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted and removed cleanly. Allow to cool for at least five minutes before removing from pan. Serve and enjoy.