Monday, January 27, 2014

Homemade Vegan Graham Crackers


I know you're going to think I'm lying, but it's actually been quite chilly in Florida the past few days. I've started sleeping with our comforter at night for the first time ever! Seriously, we've never had to use it until this past week and it's been glorious. I have a hard time sleeping when I'm hot so being able to snuggle up in a fluffy comforter makes me sleep like a baby. 

Another thing that I love about colder weather, other than getting to use a comforter at night, is fires. Some of my favorite memories involve sitting around a camp fire with good friend while roasting a mallow. It always seems like the best conversations happen late at night around a camp fire--when most of the party has left and the fire has died but the coals are still hot.


My friend recently had a birthday party and I brought some chocolate, marshmallows and homemade graham crackers just in case a late night fire pit happened. It didn't, but the beautiful thing about s'mores is that you can make them in the microwave or oven if you don't have a fire nearby. And that's exactly what people did. The marshmallows expanded drastically in the 13 seconds that they were in the microwave so some people had to eat their s'mores with a fork and knife. That's definitely not a bad thing. Gooey, drippy, chocolaty s'mores. Delicious.

The recipe I used was from Deb Perelman's Smitten Kitchen blog. Basically I just "veganized" her recipe. They turned out great!! The process takes a while, but they're easy to make. The dough needs to be chilled before it's rolled out and cut into squares and after each "roll-out" I would place the scraps back in the fridge to firm up again before I re-rolled the dough and cut more squares. Like I said, not hard, just a little tedious. 

Vegan Graham Crackers
(Makes 24-30 Squares)


 Ingredients:

· 2 cups all-purpose flour
· 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
· 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
· 1 teaspoon baking soda
· 3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
· 7 tablespoons earth balance spread
· 1/3 agave nectar
· 5 tablespoons almond milk
· 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
· 3 tablespoons sugar
· 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
   
Directions:

1. Place the flours, brown sugar, baking soda and salt in a food processor and pulse using the steel blade until well incorporated 
2. Add in the butter and pulse until the consistency becomes a course meal.
3. In a small bowl whisk together the agave, milk and vanilla.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in the food processor and pulse on and off until the dough forms. Do not over mix!
5. Take the dough out and lay it on a piece of saran wrap. Flatten it into a rectangle about 1-inch thick and wrap all the dough in the saran wrap.
6. Place the dough in the fridge for 2 or more ours, even overnight.
7. After the dough has gotten firm, remove half from the fridge.
8. Flour a work space well and roll the dough out into a rectangle that is 1/8 inch thick and 4 inches wide. Trim the edges to be straight.
9. Cut the dough into squares 2 x 2 inches big and place on a parchment-line baking sheet.
10. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar topping and place the tray in the fridge for 30 –40 minutes to firm up (or in the freezer for 20 minutes).
11. Take the scraps and form them into a ball. Place the ball in the fridge to firm up.
12. Repeat this process with the remaining dough, making sure the dough is well-chilled before trying to roll it out.
13. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions.
14. Once the squares have been in the fridge for 30-40 minutes, remove the sheets from the fridge and decorate the squares by making a vertical line down the middle of each square. Then use a fork to poke two rows of vertical dots.
15. Bake the squares for 15-25 minutes depending on your oven temperature. Rotate the crackers half way through baking.
16. Make sure you check them occasionally so that they don’t burn!
17. Let them cool and eat plain or with some chocolate and marshmallow sandwiched in between.







Eat Consciously,
     Faith


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Cleaning out the Fridge: Cinnamon Raisin Peanut Butter Banana Sandwich


This post is going to be short and sweet because I'm about to leave for the airport! I'm heading overseas for a few weeks and I couldn't be more excited to travel again...even though it's only been a couple weeks since I've been on a plane. International travel always gets me really excited and I haven't been overseas since September so I'm feeling overdue. (FYI, I'll be able to post a few recipes while I'm gone so check back!)

As with any trip I'm trying to clean out the fridge before I leave. Two nights ago I had some friends over for dinner and I made a sweet potato and black bean chili which made a good dent in my produce. Yesterday I was able to finish off the rest of our perishable items and even tried out a sandwich I've been wanting to try. 

Over Christmas break Brett and I were able to stop at a Trader Joe's (yippee!). One of our purchases was Cinnamon Raisin Ezekiel Bread. I love this bread because it's not overly sweet and you can eat it with both sweet or savory spreads. One of my favorite sandwiches is a peanut butter and banana sandwich and I knew I needed to try it out with this cinnamon raisin bread. 


My instincts were correct and it truly is an amazing combination. It doesn't even need a recipe. Just spread some peanut butter on two pieces of toast and lay slices of ripe banana in between. You could even spread some butter on the outside parts of the bread and warm it up in a panini maker. I'm sure it'd also be delicious with a drizzle of sweetner and a sprinkling of granola. 


If you know of any other good sandwich combinations please let me know!



Sunday, January 19, 2014

Vegan Coffee Cake and Girl Time


The thought of coffee cake makes me smile. Mainly because the only time I usually eat it is when I'm with a bunch of girls over brunch. Girls + 2nd Breakfast = Happy Faith.

This weekend I actually got to enjoy two brunches with two different groups of girls! Let's just say it was a great weekend. The first brunch was with three of my coworkers that I'm about to travel with overseas. We had to go "trip shopping" (as we call it) so I though we should fuel up before hitting the crazy isles and long lines at Target with some good food. I made this coffee cake and some sweet potato hash browns and served them alongside a fruit salad and yogurt and granola. It turned out pretty tasty and gave us plenty of energy to tackle our shopping lists.


The second brunch I had was for my friends birthday. About 8 of us girls got together to celebrate by eating delicious food, telling stories and watching her open some presents. One of my friends also recently had a baby so of course we were getting our fill of her daughter's sweet baby cheeks. 


With Brett being out of town, it's been awesome to get my fill of girl time. I would definitely always rather him be home, but at least some quality time with my girl friends makes being apart not so bad. Now I just need to find a way to make time with my girl friends happen more often when he's home! Now that'd be glorious.



Vegan Coffee Cake
(Makes 8 Serving)


 Ingredients:

· 3/4 cup almond milk
· 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
· 1/3 cup natural cane sugar
· 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
· 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
· 1 cup all-purpose flour
· 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
· 2 teaspoons baking powder
· 1 teaspoon cinnamon
· 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
· 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Crumb Topping
· 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
· 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
· 1/3 cup brown sugar
· 1 teaspoon cinnamon
· 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
· 1/4 cup earth balance spread
  
Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and spray a 9 in pie pan with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a medium sized bowl mix the milk and vinegar together and set aside.
3. In another large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients: flours, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
4. After the milk and vinegar has sat for about 5 minutes, mix in the sugar, applesauce and vanilla extract.
5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until combined and smooth.
6. Pour the batter into your prepared pie pan and set aside.
7. In another mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients for the crumb topping.
8. Add in the earth balance spread and use your hands to incorporate it with the dry ingredients until sandy crumbs form.
9. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the cake.
10. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
11. Cut into 8 wedges and enjoy!

Notes: Recipe adapted from Poppytalk.






Eat Consciously,
     Faith




Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Day of Eats

After being in Tennessee for a week, traveling long hours in a car, eating too many pretzels and not getting enough sleep it was so nice to have a day off of work on Monday to rest, recuperate and exert some energy outside. I slept in until 8:30 (I know, I'm a wild one) and started the morning with an orange and a bowl of oats with chia seeds, ground flax and a dollop of almond butter. It's hard to not have some kind of nut butter with my oatmeal these days.


After digesting I went for a 7 mile run in the beautiful Florida air. It felt so good to run long and slow after being in the car for 19 hours on Sunday. Afterwards, I refueled with some chocolate soy milk from Trader Joe's and stretched.


For lunch I made a curry quiona wrap with hummus and spinach in a whole wheat pita pocket, also from TJ's. 


I love the ingredients in these pita pockets:


I put peas and raisins in my Curry Quinoa and it's delicious. Sometimes I'll just put it on a bed of spinach for a salad.


For an afternoon snack I had an apple with "peanut butter" made from peanut flour and water...


...and an orange. We have a ton of apples and oranges in our house so I felt like I needed to do my part in eating them. Don't mind if I do.


For dinner I cleaned out some of the frozen veggies that have been in our freezer since before Brett and I got married (Yikes!). I made some brown rice and simmered the veggies with this Green Curry Sauce from TJ's.

I also made some breaded baked tofu to go with it and the whole meal was delicious and came together so quickly! 


I was still pretty exhausted from such a long day driving on Sunday so Brett and I just went on a walk around the UCF campus and went to bed early. 

There you have it. Monday's eats!

Peas and Crayons

Check out other people's daily eats over at Peas and Crayons for some creative ideas!


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

19 Hours in the Car, a Pit Stop at Trader Joe's and a Vegan Brownie Sundae the Size of My Head

As the first part of this post's title suggests, the last couple days have been a whirlwind! All last week I was in Gaitlinburg, TN for my work team's annual retreat. It's always an awesome time of hiking, ultimate Frisbee, hot-tubbing, team discussions, good food and staying up too late. Here's a picture of the crazy people I am blessed to work and travel with:

 Every year we get an old western photo taken. It's always a crazy time.

This year was extra special in that the day our retreat ended (Saturday) we all drove up to Indiana to see two of our friends and co-workers get married! We made it to Indianapolis a couple hours before the wedding started, quickly got dressed, scarfed down some soup and headed downtown for the exciting celebration. It was a beautiful wedding that took place in the state house and the reception was wild and crazy with lots of dancing and food. 

We got to bed around 1 AM and then I, along with the three girls I drove up with, got up four hours later to make the 15 hour trek back down to Orlando. We were on a mission: make it to Trader Joe's in Gainsville, FL before it closed at 9. Yes. We love Trader Joe's that much and since there isn't one in Orlando we used it as motivation to start our drive early and make quick pit stops. 


I am an extreme morning person so I said I'd take the first shift driving while they slept. It worked out great and we were able to knock out a lot of hours before our first stop and then they were all fresh and ready to take the next driving shifts.  And...we made it!! We rolled into the Trader Joe's parking lot at 8:15 with plenty of time to peruse and pick up lots of goodies. We already had a ton of luggage in the car, but it was a high priority to make all of our groceries fit. 


I came away with chocolate soy milk, caramel popcorn, pumpernickel pretzels, pickles and three types of bread including sour dough, sprouted rye and whole wheat pita pockets. Glory.

Another thing that kept me super motivated to make it to Gainsville was ice cream. Vegan ice cream that is. My friend and co-worker went to the University of Florida in Gainsville and knew about a vegan dessert shop called Karma Cream. Of course I was all for stopping there after Trader Joe's and I'm so glad we did because it was amazing. 



I may have gone a little overboard and ordered a brownie sundae with sea salted caramel ice cream, cookie dough bites, hot fudge and whipped cream...all dairy free and delicious! I was in heaven. We've already decided that we're going to make a day trip to Gainsville again soon so we can stock up on groceries, eat more vegan ice cream and check out some of the other sites that Gainsville has to offer.

Yeah, I was pretty excited.

With our car stuffed with groceries and our bellies full of sugar we were able to finish up the final two hours of driving making for a grand total of 19 hours in the car! It was a long day, but so worth it to get home and allow ourselves a comp day before heading back to work.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Arbonne Protein Powder Review

Yet again I am on the road. On Tuesday all my coworkers and I made the 11 hour drive to Gaitlinburg, Tennessee for our annual team retreat in the mountains. We initially thought the whole week was going to be in the 20s, but the weather has turned out to be beautiful. Today we played ultimate frisbee and I was even able to squeeze in a 30 minute run on a trail. Tomorrow we'll hit the trails again for a hike which should be a good time. 

The view the morning of our drive.

My travel buddies for the road trip.

Before I left I made sure Brett had a lot of good, healthy food to eat: curry quinoa, an apple walnut lentil loaf, veggies and chicken for fajitas and veggie burgers. Turns out he's been sick the whole time I've been gone which is a bummer.

Since I'm traveling I don't have any new recipes for you today, but I do have a review on Arbonne Protein Powder. Not long after I started this blog, a friend from college messaged me saying she had recently found out about some vegan protein powder and wanted to send me some samples to try. I was so excited because I have yet to find a protein powder that I like (mainly because I haven't had time to do research and try out different flavors and brands.) 


She sent me the Arbonne Essentials Protein Shake mixes, one chocolate and one vanilla. I actually found these in the mail on Christmas right after Brett and I had gone on a trail run, so it was perfect timing to try them out.

I tried out the Chocolate flavor first and loved it! All you have to do is mix the powder with 8 ounces of cold water and you're all set. As I mixed, I was excited to find that the mixture gets really thick so that it really looks and tastes like a shake. It was delicious and filling. 


I did some research on the nutrition of one packet and was excited about what I found out.


Nutrition summary:

Calories
160
Fat
3.5g
Carbs
15g
Protein
20g
There are 160 calories in a 2 scoops serving of Arbonne Chocolate Protein Shake Mix.
Calorie breakdown: 18% fat, 35% carbs, 47% protein.
Other Ingredients: Arbonne Protein Matrix Blend (pea protein isolate, cranberry protein, rice protein), 
sugar cane, cocoa powder, natural chocolate flavor, sunflower oil, corn starch, inulin, xanthan gum, stevia leaf extract, flax seed, gum acacia, guar gum. 

Arbonne Protein Powder is high in protein for the amount of calories in each packet and I love that the protein source are plant based coming from peas, cranberries and rice. While it does have 9 grams of sugar per serving, I've found that that is necessary for protein powders that you are going to drink plain. 

My one complaint with Arbonne powders is that they are expensive. It's about $4 per serving. I'll have to keep looking to see if I can find a powder that is just as delicious, hight in protein and more affordable.

If you've tried Arbonne Protein Powder before, I'd love to hear your review!




Sunday, January 5, 2014

Saturday Morning "Justin Workouts" and Lemon Blueberry Scones


One of Brett and my favorite things to do on Saturday mornings is to go workout with our friends Justin and Mary. We call these workouts "Justin Workouts" after Justin, obviously, who creates the workouts for us. Most of the time they are interval workouts that last around 30 minutes and leave us shaky and sore the next morning. 

I used to not care for weight training workouts, or interval workouts for that matter, but these regular Saturday Justin workouts have made me a believer. The time goes so fast because you are constantly changing exercises which is also great for keeping your heart rate up. It's fun to workout in a group too because you can push each other and know that you are not the only one suffering. Of course, I also love being sore the next day too.

Yesterday we did an interval workout that had ten exercises, each lasting for one minute with 15 seconds of rest in between. We did this set three times and we were definitely feeling it by the end. I used 10 lbs. weights while the guys used 20s and 30s. 

30 Minute "Justin" Interval Workout:
- Goblet Squats (we stacked our weights vertically on top of each other and squatted with the weights in between our legs)
- Alternating Bicep Curls
- Mountain Climbers
- Alternating Forward Lunges
- Wall Sit (with our weights on thighs)
- Rotating Planks (start on your elbows in a plank position and rock your hips side to side, keeping your abs tights)
- Spiderman Pushups (These are normal push-ups, but while you are down you lift one leg up to your side, crunching your obliques. Then you push back up and repeat on the other side.)
- Straight Back Rows (Lean forward with your legs slightly bent and your back straight and pull your       weights up to your side and back down. This will work your upper back.)
- Full Body Jumping Jacks (Jump, make an "X" in the air and land with your feet together. Repeat)
- Full Body Squats (Squat with your weights on the outside of your legs. When you come up, curl your     weights up and push them up over your head. Repeat.)

Rest for 2 minutes between each set. Feel the burn!!

Another great thing about Saturday morning "Justing Workouts" is that we often share a meal together afterwards. Smoothies are usually our appetizer before lunch and sometimes I'll bring over something sweet for us to enjoy with coffee.

Yesterday I brought over some of my Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Scones and some freshly made Lemon Blueberry Scones (which may have made us really late cause I underestimated the baking time). Nobody can get in trouble for being late if their bringing over scones though, so no problem there.

Here's the recipe. And I gotta say,  they make for great post-workout fuel.


Lemon Blueberry Scones
(Makes 8 Serving)


 Ingredients:

· 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
· 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
· 1/2 cup natural cane sugar
· 1 tablespoon baking powder
· 1/2 teaspoon salt
· 1 tablespoon lemon zest
· 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
· 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
· 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
· 4 tablespoons earth balance
· 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
· 1 cup frozen blueberries

Glaze:
· 1/2 cup powdered sugar
· 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In liquid measuring cup, whisk together the almond milk and vinegar together. Set aside for a few minutes.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest.
4. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the earth balance and applesauce until a course, pebbly mixture forms.
5. Add the vanilla extract into the milk mixture and then pour the milk mixture into the dry mixture. Use your hands and mix until just combined.
6. Fold in the frozen blueberries.
7. Place the dough on the parchment paper and flatten into a circle that is about 1.25 inches thick.
8. Cut the circle into 8 wedges and slightly separate.
9. Bake for 25-27 minutes or until a fork inserted into the dough comes out clean.
10. For the glaze, stir together the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Add in more juice if the glaze is too thick and more sugar if it is too runny.
11. After the scones have cooled, top them with the glaze and serve!






Eat Consciously,
     Faith