PINTEREST

All of my blog recipes are now posted on pinterest! Check it out here: https://www.pinterest.com/chefjamielove/chef-jamie-love/ :D

Vegan Zucchini Energy Bites

bites1As I was perusing Pinterest for ways to use up the abundance of zucchini we got with our CSA share this summer, I saw this recipe “No-Bake Zucchini Bread Granola Bites” by Dara of the blog Cookin’ Canuck (http://www.cookincanuck.com/2013/08/no-bake-zucchini-bread-granola-bites-recipe-gluten-free-vegan/). I didn’t have all of the ingredients listed, but I made do with what I had around the house & BOY did these turn out FAN-FREAKING-TASTICALLY. They’re small, but they sure fill you up & give you some great energy for a low carb count. Not to mention it makes a large batch that will last in your fridge for over a week! I like to have 2 or 3 with a piece of fruit for breakfast & I’m set for the day.

I used Skippy Super Chunk peanut butter, hemp seeds, and a mix of yellow and green zucchini for my version, but use whatever you’ve got on hand, as usual ;) If you don’t want to waste the zucchini liquid, you could drain them over a jar/Tupperware & save it to use in a soup, smoothie, etc.

Vegan Zucchini Energy BitesSnip20151027_10

Yield: 25 bites, about 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cup of oats
  • 1/3 cup sunflower kernels
  • 1 Tbsp hemp or chai seeds
  • ¾ cup chunky peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup (packed) grated zucchini

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together oats, kernels, & seeds.
  2. Stir in the peanut butter, syrup, & cinnamon until well combined. I found that using my hands was the easiest way to combine everything evenly.
  3. Squeeze handfuls of grated zucchini over the sink to drain out the excess liquid.
  4. Add zucchini into the oat mixture until well combined.
  5. Using 1 – 1.5 Tbsp. of the mixture for each, form bite-sized balls and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. TIP- if you spray your hands with cooking oil first, the batter won’t stick to you as much!
  6. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.

Mexi-Flare Mini Pizza

pizza2Pizza is such a versatile food & definitely not something you need to give up when you go vegan! I really enjoy making different plant based pizzas, and it’s amazing how great they taste even without non-dairy cheese! This one is loaded with refried beans, tomatoes, zucchini, and fresh peas – much of which came from my local CSA share****link What’s not to love?

*Please note the nutrition facts may change based on the crust you use.

Snip20151027_9

Mexi-Flare Mini Pizza

Yield: 3 servings (1/3 pizza each)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pre-made 9” vegan pizza crust
  • ½ cup refried beans
  • 1.5 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup fresh shelled peas

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven as directed on pizza crust package – if you are using raw dough, you may need to pre-bake the dough for a while before adding toppings.
  2. Spread refried beans thickly over entire crust
  3. Sprinkle zucchini, tomatoes, and peas over bean “sauce”
  4. Bake as directed on pizza crust package, or until crust begins to brown and veggies are soft.

I enjoyed mine with a few dashes of hot sauce on top; yum! Let me know what you think of the recipe in the comments below! Positive or negative, your feedback is always appreciated!

Little Bit of Everything Raw Smoothie

Great raw smoothie that really does have a little bit of everything… I loved the flavor that resulted. This is a 2-serving batch, so if you’re blending for yourself, you can halve it. Or you can always freeze the rest, have it later in the day, or give it to someone you love❤

Snip20151027_8 smoothie1

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup kale
  • 2 bananas,
  • 1 cup seedless green grapes
  • 1 big dash of ginger
  • 1 big dash of cinnamon
  • 2/3 – 1 cup of water

Directions:

  1. Cut the green tops off your strawberries, de-stem your kale, & peel your bananas – compost the refuse!
  2. Throw all ingredients into a high-powered blender or food processer & blend until smooth. Add additional water until it reaches your desired consistency.

Magnificent Mango Salsa

mangosals1I’ve always had trouble with fruit. The textures in fruit just don’t sit right with me & I’m always concerned on the hit or miss with flavor. Will it be sweet? Will it be sour? Why did this berry taste WAY different from the last one I pulled out of the same container? Needless to say, the only fruits I’ve consumed in the last almost 20 years were always bananas, apples, and grapes. For me these were the most consistent fruits in both taste and, especially, texture. I would sometimes eat other fruits in smoothies or pies where I could obliterate their texture or drown them in sugar, but for the most part my fruit intake was very limited.

Thanks to a wonderful vegan friend from college, this summer I realized that there are others out there like me who avoid certain foods for a variety of reasons (see Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder). It’s usually associated with children & most people seem to grow out of it as they age, but I did not.

Rather than avoiding fruit like the plague for the rest of my life, this summer I finally decided that I need to step out of my comfort zone and play around with fruit more. In the last few months, I’ve fallen (hard) for mangoes. I found mango to be very sweet & somewhat slimy, but my immediate thought was: I need to make mango salsa!

So, without further adieu, here is my very simple mango salsa recipe! I used Tapatio for the hot sauce & pre-made lime juice, but use whatever you have on hand. Yields 4 servings with 75% of your daily vitamin C each. Obviously fresh, organic, and local ingredients are the absolute best.

Ingredients:Snip20151027_7

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, give it a few stirs to combine.
  2. Enjoy!

Softest Goey Pumpkin Cookies

Tomorrow marks 4 weeks vegan for me! Though I’ve been “vegan” on and off before, this is my longest stint to date & this time it feels permanent, which is AMAZING. Clearly, this is cause for celebration & what better way to celebrate than with two of my favorite things: pumpkins & cookies. I adopted this recipe from “Melt In Your Mouth Pumpkin Cookies” posted on Crissy Page’s blog Parent Pretty found here (http://parentpretty.com/pumpkin-cookies-recipe/).

cookies1The original recipe was not vegan, but easily veganized by a few swaps: vegan buttery sticks for dairy butter, banana for eggs (helps keep them even more moist), and soy milk for dairy milk. I also used real pumpkin – from an actual pumpkin squash ~ oh my! – instead of the canned crap. My pumpkin yielded what I guessed was close to 3/4 of the 15oz can they suggested, so I reduced the other ingredients by 1/4 as well. I also chose to use less frosting than the recipe yielded, because my cookies would have been drowning in frosting if I’d used the entire batch. Yikes! All in all my recipe yielded about 40 cookies at around 160 calories a piece with frosting. How’s that for a miracle?!

If you’re limited to a toaster oven – like me – try halving the batch… otherwise you’ll be doing many, many trays in and out of the oven. Another helpful tip: place your butter on your stovetop/toaster oven while it preheats (or while you bake your pumpkin) to help soften it!

As always, comment, share, and most importantly… enjoy!

Softest Goey Pumpkin CookiesSnip20151027_2

Yield: 40 cookies

Ingredients (Cookies):

  • 1.5 cups vegan butter (3 sticks), softened
  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 small to medium sugar pumpkin
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

Ingredients (Frosting): 

  • 1/4 cup vegan butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1.5 cups powdered sugar
  • ground cinnamon sprinkled on top (optional)

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Slice sugar pumpkin in half & remove strings & seeds with a spoon, being careful not to scrape out the flesh. The seeds can be washed & roasted with salt & pepper for a tasty snack – don’t waste them!
  3. Place the pumpkin halves cut side down on a baking sheet lined with tinfoil. Roast at 350 degrees for approx. 40 minutes. The pumpkin flesh should come out very soft, you may need to check it periodically if you’re using a toaster oven or if your oven cooks faster. When the pumpkin is ready, pull it out & set the tray aside so the pumpkin can cool. Keep the oven on to bake your cookies.
  4. Mash the 1.5 cups of butter with a fork until smooth. Add granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg & beat until combined.
  5. Beat in banana & vanilla until combined. Then, using a spoon, scoop out pumpkin flesh from skins & combine with batter until smooth.
  6. One cup at a time, beat in flour until it’s reached a non-lumpy consistency.
  7. Drop dough by heaping tablespoons onto uncreased cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart.
  8. Bake 10-12 minutes or until browning just slightly then remove & place on a cooling rack.
  9. For the frosting, place 1/4 cup of butter & brown sugar into a saucepan. Heat until melted & smooth.
  10. Pour butter/sugar mixture into a medium bowl & add milk & vanilla, mixing well. Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until well combined & smooth.
  11. When cookies are cooled, drizzle a dollop of frosting over each & top with a sprinkle of cinnamon, if desired.

Tip & Misunderstandings about Veganism

Greetings, blogosphere. My first week back in the vegan world has been fantastic. I’ve gotten a lot of support from friends and family, as well as those who’ve reached out through social media. Last week I posted on my instagram (@chefjamielove) about some of my struggles with vegan and vegetarianism over the years with a link to my last blog post. I was very grateful for two instagrammers (@thisismynameman & @vegan_dee_lite) who gave some useful tips on continuing my journey to the healthiest, earth-friendliest, and kindest diet & lifestyle out there.

Here’s some of my favorite advice from others & a few tidbits from my own progress lately:

  1. Combat sugar & sweet cravings with fruit. @thisismynameman even says that his cravings for dairy & desserts eventually turned into cravings for fruit by enforcing this habit
  2. Combat meat temptations by reminding yourself why you went/are going vegan in the first place (-@thisismynameman)
    • Watch footage of animal testing, factory farms, etc. to spark your compassion
    • Research animal products’ impacts on the planet – deforestation, world hunger, land degradation, animal extinction, climate change, etc.
    • Remind yourself of the health implications associated with eating animal foods: cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, etc
  3. Try faux meat/dairy products, says @vegan_dee_lite
    • Over the weekend I tried Gardein’s orange chicken – TO. DIE. FOR. The texture was spot on & it was so sweet & wonderful.
    • Nowadays they’ve gone beyond faux chicken nuggets, burgers, & hot dogs. Look in your grocer’s frozen sections for vegan meatloaf, pizza, ground “beef” crumbles, & even fried “fish”.
    • @vegan_dee_lite recommends trying coconut ice cream sandwiches – sounds amaaaazing.
  4. Focus on your health
    • @vegan_dee_lite recommends starting up an exercise routine or yoga to remind yourself of the self-love you have for your body and that you don’t want to fill it with poisonous foods.
  5. Set your priorities
    • @vegan_dee_lite wrote something on my instagram that really stuck with me in her post: “Our cravings should not be more powerful than our compassion towards life.” Though I’m the first to say that cravings sometimes feel like a life/death situation – I need that Philly Cheesesteak! – in making choices that harm other beings, you actually are putting another spirit in a life/death situation. You have the choice to end needless suffering & death every single time you pick up a fork. Remind yourself of that at every meal.
  6. Keep snacks handy & plan ahead
    • Bring filling – & protein-packed! – snacks with you in case hunger strikes. I like to keep some trail mix in my purse and/or car just in case.
    • If you’re going out to eat with a friend or family, look online first. Most restaurants have their menus listed online & if not, call the place beforehand. It’s usually not difficult to find something vegan or veganizeable on a menu almost anywhere, but it may make you more likely to pick a vegan option if you know what you’ll be ordering before you get there.
  7. Find supports
    • Connect online with other vegans through social media like Facebook, instagram, pinterest, etc. Even if you don’t directly talk with anyone, these are great resources for information and recipes.

Now for the “misunderstandings” section… I’m just going to break the tip of the iceberg here & focus on what I’ve experienced in this last week as a born-again vegan.

I visited my boyfriend’s dad, his dad’s girlfriend, and his half-sister & her boyfriend over the weekend. We had a fantastic time, but – of course- my new diet came up in topics of conversation.

I’d asked my boyfriend – Ricky – to text his dad before we drove down & let him know that I’d switched back to a vegan lifestyle again because I was worried his dad might make non-vegan food & I didn’t want him to be offended if I didn’t eat it. Upon arrival, Ricky’s dad offered us fish to eat that he’d fried up earlier that day. Apologetically, I declined & had to explain to to his dad what “vegan” really meant. Hence we have…

Vegan Misunderstanding #1: Not knowing what a vegan is. 

Though the vegan community is growing by the day, there are still many people out there who don’t understand what it means to be vegan. This situation is the perfect opportunity for you to explain to your family, friends, restaurant server, or whoever else, what being a vegan means to you. Though it’s easy to get caught up in the reasons why you are vegan, in my experience doing this first makes others very defensive about their own diets. It seems best to first explain what you do a do not eat. For example: I don’t eat any animal products. I do not eat meat of any kind (fish, poultry, red meat, wild game, etc), I don’t eat milk or any of it’s derivatives like cheese, ice cream, butter, etc., I also don’t eat honey or eggs.

Usually by this point many people will have their jaws dropped and be begging for more information. At this time I commonly get the question, “Well, what DO you eat then?”

Vegan Misunderstanding #2: Vegan food is boring/gross: i.e. I couldn’t eat salads for the rest of my life.

I think this is a critical point in the conversation because depending on how you answer this, you can either intrigue someone or bore someone with what sounds like a mundane diet. If you start listing off things like salads, pasta, beans, etc. your listener may be thinking – What a boring diet. Glad I’ve got my sizzling steaks, bacon, and mac’n’cheese to keep me going. Instead, I prefer to talk about some of the recipes I’ve tried recently OR throw them off by mentioning a food that’s normally non-vegan & explaining how I veganized it. My answer may look something like this:

“Well I’ve been really in to summer squash lately because it’s in season & I recently made this amazing lasagna with zucchini “noodles,” home-made cashew cheese, and fresh marinara I made from these heirloom tomatoes I scored at the farmer’s market. I’ve also been splurging on Trader Joe’s Soy Creamy Cherry Chocolate Chip ice cream; it’s amazing, especially topped with toasted almonds. When I don’t have time to cook, I like to try out ethnic foods in the area like this taco truck a few blocks away from us that has great veggie tostadas or this chinese place across the street from our apartment that has roasted eggplant in garlic sauce, which is soooooooo yummy.”

Ok, ok, that answer may be a tad bit over the top, but it’s important for us vegans to let everyone know that veganism is not mundane, it’s excitinganddeliciousandvariableandeasyandsogoodforyourhealthandtheplanet. I’m not trying to convert people to veganism per se, but I do think it’s essential that we clear up some of this nonsense associated with the word “vegan.”

~Now back to my story… Once it was understood that I would not be eating fish for dinner, I had to find an alternative. I asked what restaurants were in the area & was quickly told, “You won’t be able to find anything to eat here; this isn’t Los Angeles.”

Vegan Misunderstanding #3: It’s impossible to find vegan food. 

AAAAAAEEEEHH!!!! That was the sound of a buzzer communicating: “INCORRECT.” Did you hear it? You can find vegan food just about anywhere. Be adventurous & don’t be shy about asking questions of what ingredients are in a menu item. There is a lot of variety to be had out there & you do not have to suffer through salad after salad to be able to eat out. Just this weekend I had Farmer Boys – fruit bowl & hash browns; they also offer a veggie burger & sandwich – AND In-N-Out which offers a veggie option – hold the spread, add extra tomato & grilled onions (and perhaps a boca burger or two from home?) and you’re in vegan heaven.

At a sit-down restaurant, try ordering a meat-dish without the meat! At Perkins I once ordered the Sesame Ginger Steak Big Bowl with no steak & extra veggies and it was one of the best things I’ve ever had at Perkins, including my memories of eating animal products there. Going greek? Try a gryo with just veggies or add in some falafel. Italian? Check if their pasta has egg in it, then add some marinara & veggies, hold the cheese. Or opt for a vegetarian minestrone & breadsticks with no butter – I’m talking to you Olive Garden!

If you’re feeling adventurous like I was, try stopping at a local grocery store & grabbing some fresh produce to cook up. I made a stir fry with snow peas, tomato, carrots, turnip, & mushroom seasoned with garlic & rosemary for a relatively cheap & easy dinner, along with a side of that Gardein orange “chicken”.

That’s all for now, folks, but stay tuned for more tips, tricks, and recipes from Chef Jamie Love.❤