One year ago today, I made one of the best decisions of my life. Actually, I had made the decision to become a vegan a few months before then, but it took until September 27 for me to finally bring it up to my parents and have them agree (I was so surprised since they had constantly told me that it would be way too extreme) to accept my transition to veganism so I consider today my one year vegan-niversary. While I did nothing exciting to celebrate and didn't eat anything blog-worthy today, it was still a special day for me because I know that I proved to everyone that my veganism is not a "phase" that I'll get over- it's a new lifestyle and something that has made me feel so much better about myself and my decisions and has cause me to have a more complete outlook on life. Here's to another great year to look forward to!
A few weeks ago, a new smoothie place opened up near my house. My family had been awaiting the opening of Robek's Juice, so we all ran over the opening day. While none of the smoothies appear vegan (which is fine by me since I love Jamba Juice), I noticed that they sell a variety of Luna Bars as well as their "Power Cookies" and "Power Muffins" (which are named so because they have about 7-8 grams of both protein and fiber). Imagine my surprise when I just happened to notice this:
The cookiesare vegan (and even labeled as so)!!!! I could not believe my eyes! I actually did my little "happy dance" right there in the store, even though my parents thought I was crazy. While the muffins contain eggs, the cookies are completely vegan, and actually pretty darn good for you as far as cookies go. The ingredients list is: unbleached wheat flour, raw sugar, non-hydrogenated soy margarine, dairy-free chocolate chips (for the chocolate chip flavor), wheat gluten, water, isolated soy protein, pure vanilla extract, baking soda, salt. Not too shabby!
But the real question is- how does it taste? I bought both the chocolate chip cookie as well as the oatmeal raisin to test this. Right out of the package the cookies are a bit bland and too chewy. However, after being microwaved for about 15 seconds, the cookies became soft, the flavor is much better, and the chocolate in the chocolate chip gooey becomes melty and perfect. With a tell glass of ice cold soymilk these cookies are a nice treat. I usually turn to Luna Bars or soy yogurt for a healthy dessert option, but now I've added these cookies to the rotation! Robek's also carries a peanut butter and lemon poppyseed flavor of their Power Cookies and I haven't gotten around to trying them yet, but you can bet I will soon!
First eating pancakes without syrup, and now this! I am usually a firm believer in sweet rather than savory breakfasts, but my new favorite breakfast is the Vegan Omelette for One from Fatfree Vegan. The batter itself is simple to make and I find it convenient to make 2-4 servings of the batter at a time so I can just grab it out of the fridge and make an omelette any morning! I stuffed the one you see above with some roasted bell peppers and onion, baby spinach sauteed in olive oil and garlic, and some sliced Teese (see? I told you it'd be popping up in my future cooking every once in while, I still have some left!). OH. MY. GOODNESS. This combination of fillings was amazing in the omelette because they all complimented each other so well- the garlicky spinach, the sweet onions and pepper, and of course, the melty tangy Teese. The omelette itself is obviously delicious. It lends its own flavor to the dish so it's not just about the fillings, but every component. Also, I think the fluffy, creamy texture of the omelette may not fool an omni, but that's only because it's so much better than that of egg omelettes!
I have one word to describe the Pad Thai from VWAV- perfect. Honestly, this pad thai is sooo good and my family loved it when I made it for dinner last week. The picture you see above is actually of some of the leftovers that I packed for a school lunch because my family started grabbing for the pad thai as soon as it hit the table and I couldn't get a picture fast enough!The rice noodle reheated pretty well the next day, but after that I think most leftover noodles become too gummy- not that that was a problem in my house, though, because the leftovers only lasted one day. Another dinner that I'll be making again for my family!
Just a lil side note here: School started last week for me and the work load is already overwhelming. I will probably not be able to post every single week due to lack of time, as well as lack of time to cook any decent food (one of my dinners last week was a can of refried beans and an apple- no joke. It was really delicious, though)! But don't worry, as soon as I have a few good pictures of some interesting meals I've made, I'll blog all about them. I'm still going to aim for one post a week, but I just wanted to let everyone know that it may not be possible all of the time. Thanks for understanding!
To make sure that I make the most of the final days of summer I stocked up on some of the last delicious berries from my farmers market. I was so glad to buy some raspberries because I already knew what I wanted to make with them!. The first recipe I tried was Ruby Red Vegan's Quinoa Porridge. I actually changed it up a bit, but only a little- I promise! I used vanilla soymilk instead of chocolate since I didn't have any chocolate soymilk (sad....I know...)and walnuts instead of hazelnuts because hazelnuts are pretty hard to find around here, but this porridge was still fabulous! I would probably half this recipe next time I make it because I was soooo full after finishing my bowl, but I just couldn't put my spoon down! The cinnamon and nutmeg make this dish very comforting and I think it will still be great with frozen berries in the Fall. In fact, I know I definitely will be making this a lot more throughout the colder months because it will do a great job of warming me up first thing in the morning.
I had planned on making the Raspberry Chocolate Chip Blondies from VWAV all summer but just seemed to never get around to it until now, which is such a shame because they were a huge hit with my family. I made these Wednesday afternoon and was planning on photographing the blondies after they had been cut up Thursday morning so the lighting would be better, but I woke up to find that every single one had already been eaten! I think my sister was the big culprit here (she claims to have had only four or five, but I'm pretty sure I saw her sneak a few more that night...), but that's fine with me- I'm just happy my family loved these because an entire pan of blondies for me to eat in our house could be really dangerous! So while I'm sad to say goodbye to the tons of sweet, fresh berries that are readily available in the summer, I'm now ready for Fall and all of the great produce it has to offer (I've been starting to crave pumpkin lately!).
Flipping through my copy of VWAV, I noticed that the recipe for Mango Summer Rolls had been bookmarked the entire summer! While the season is coming to an end (and school is beginning next week! Boohoo.....even though we normally start a few weeks earlier so I can't complain) the weather here is still very reminiscent of the hot summer months and I knew that these refreshing summer rolls would be a welcome meal in my home. The assembly of these was a little tricky at first, but after a few I had the technique down and they came together rather quickly. My family and I loved these and the dipping sauce that went along with the rolls (though I did change it a bit- I added some red pepper flakes and substituted 1/4 c. peanut butter for the chopped peanuts since I prefer more of a peanut butter based sauce) and my only regret is making them so late in the summer.... However, I then remembered that there is more of an autumn-inspired spring roll recipe in Vcon so now I have the perfect dish to use up the leftover rice paper wrappers- goodie!
I've been enjoying more of my parfaits with my new-found love, Whole Soy & Co. yogurt. The one pictures above features the strawberry variety of yogurt, strawberries, blueberries, sliced bananas, and my own homemade granola. I've been making this granola several times a week because my mom and I have used it almost every morning! It's super delicious and versatile and, while I prefer sunflower seeds and walnuts in my granola, you can add (or omit) any types of nuts/seeds you like. Dried fruit also make an awesome addition to this granola, especially raisins and dried apricots because of the warm flavor from the apple juice and cinnamon.
Crunchy Cluster Granola Recipe:
2 c. rolled oats 1/4 c. sunflower seeds 1/4 c. chopped walnuts 3 T. maple syrup 1/4 c. apple juice pinch salt 1/2 t. cinnamon 1/4 t. freshly ground nutmeg
Mix together all ingredients in a bowl and spread onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so.
Oh! I almost forgot- Happy Labor Day, everyone! Tomorrow, it's back to work.....