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.
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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.

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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!

Home again, home again, jiggity jig

Well, folks… she’s back. It’s been months since I’ve posted on here – besides that “Cowspiracy” quote I JUST posted. Let me explain… No, there is too much. Let me sum up. I’d begun working way too many hours in a group home around the time I stopped blogging. My life became almost entirely work and sleep and I felt like I didn’t have any time to cook, let alone blog about what I was cooking. In being entirely honest, I’ve not been a very good vegan… or even vegetarian for that matter. I’d go on week-long or day-long stretches of being back to vegan or vegetarian, and then I’d find myself molar deep in a slice of sausage & pepperoni pizza. I know I could have found a vegetarian or vegan alternative regardless of how much time I felt like I had or where I was picking up dinner for the night, etc., but I seemed to always find reasons to make excuses for myself and get out of it.

I’ll even admit that I had some chicken with my dinner tonight – although it was from days old leftovers I made the two girls I nanny for & I’m sure if I didn’t eat it, they’d go to waste and if some poor chicken had to die for their dinner than I should at least care enough to eat the leftovers so it wasn’t all for nothing and we aren’t filling up the landfill anymore, right? Or perhaps the answer is that I should have made less in the first place so their wouldn’t be said leftovers at all and then I wouldn’t have this dilemma..

Being a vegan is hard. Not as in difficult, but the kind of hard that takes effort to get through. Here I go again, making excuses, but hear me out… Animal food products are so central to human life, whether or not you include them in yours. I’m convinced that I may have some sort of food obsession because I think about food probably about 60-80% of the time. I’m now living in Los Angeles, too, which means that there is some amazing fast food or gourmet restaurant every ten feet I drive and I’m constantly bombarded with the temptation. I know, I know, there’s also lots of vegetarian and vegan-friendly places out here, too – more than almost anywhere else in the country, I’m sure – but it’s inevitable that my boyfriend or his family will want to drag me to some non-veg friendly place or pick up dinner from there & then I’m stuck at a standstill. I have a very difficult time telling my boyfriend’s family members that they have to cater to my food preferences… “No, I don’t eat animal products.” “Yes, that includes seafood.” “Yes, that also includes eggs.” “No, cheese comes from animals.” “And I don’t eat butter either.” “No, red dye #40 comes from crushed up beetle shells sometimes.” See the problem? If eating out wasn’t hard enough, just try going vegan to a friend or relative’s house when they’re making dinner for you! OOFTA!

Using my blog and instagram accounts have been really beneficial in connecting with others who share a meat/animal-product-free lifestyle, but I often found that when I’d fall off the wagon, I wouldn’t hear the end of it. Everyone goes on and on about how easy it is to live plant-based, but I have yet to hear anyone say how hard the transition is… For me, this has been a real struggle. I truly WANT to be vegan. I hate how animals are treated in modern farms and I don’t think that humans should have the to abuse another life like that. I hate what a negative environmental impact farming has from deforestation to global warming to animal extinction to water consumption and everything in between. I hate how I feel after eating meat and dairy products – overfull, grumpy, ashamed, bloated, indigestive (is that a word for unable to digest?), not to mention those with my blood type (A+) thrives better on a vegetarian diet. There are so many foul things associated with eating animal products, but I can’t seem to keep up with a vegan diet… and I’m not sure what the real reason is. I’m like an addict who keeps slipping back after going cold turkey..

I’m really hoping that someone – anyone – will reach out to me with some advice or perhaps stories of how they struggled when switching to solely plant-based foods. Bashing those who eat animal products is not the way to change what are now becoming global habits of consuming those products. In my experience, shaming someone only brings them down, not “into the light.” Right now, I want to be vegan, but I don’t want to make another empty promise of “Vegan from 9/29/15” that I won’t be able to fulfill. I’m hoping that as I find my way to a stable, continuous, plant-based diet, I can figure out how to encourage others to do the same.. Help?

5 Ingredient Muffins

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I found this simple recipe on Pinterest via Becky’s blog Olives & Wine (http://www.olivesnwine.com/2014/01/13/cinnamon-raisin-oatmeal-muffins/)! With just five ingredients – that you probably already have on hand – this recipe makes simple, yummy muffins great for breakfast or a snack (especially pre-workout!). They are also delicious crumbled over a smoothie or your favorite non-dairy yogurt! Try subbing in other dried fruits to mix things up. You could also substitute the peanut butter with sun butter or hazelnut butter.

5 Ingredient Cinnamon Oatmeal Raisin MuffinsSnip20151027_3
Yield: 8 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1/3 cup of raisins

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 & line a muffin tin with 8 liners
  2. Us a spoon to mash peeled bananas & peanut butter in a medium bowl until smooth
  3. Stir in cinnamon, oatmeal & raisins until combined, then spoon mixture into muffin liners
  4. Bake 20-25 mins, or until tops have begun to brown
  5. Remove from oven & cool muffins on wire rack

Creamy Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Ingredients:Snip20151027_4IMG_0863

  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 5 strawberries, tops cut off
  • 1 large naval orange, peeled
  • 1 medium banana, peeled

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients in a blender & puree until smooth
  2. Toss fruit tops & peels into compost bin
  3. Enjoy!