Monday, June 30, 2014

Edamame Dip!

Something funny happened the day I made this dip. Brett and I were selling our beloved Jeep Wrangler to a kid just out of college (I love how I call him a kid when we're probably about the same age). The kid had come over earlier in the day to check out the Jeep and see if it was something he wanted to buy. He ended up liking it and said he'd come back with his Dad to pay for it. 

While we were waiting for him and his dad to come back over, I started making this dip for a house warming party we were going to that night. As soon as they entered our house and the dad saw my food processor full of edamame, tahini and parsley he asked, "Are you vegan?" I told him I was and he said, "I could tell as soon as I saw what ingredients you were using!" 

We then proceeded to talk about how long we had been vegan, our favorite go-to recipes, and how much better we feel now that we eat more plants. We could have kept on talking, but Brett and the kid had already finished up the paperwork for the car. How funny! 

Edamame Dip
(Serves a small gathering)

  • 1 14 oz. bag of frozen edamame, cooked and cooled
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion (or 1/2 teaspoon onion powder)
  • 1/2 cup tightly packed fresh parsley
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
  • 1 tablespoon white miso
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon red chili paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  1. Add all of the ingredients except for the olive oil and water into a large food processor and process until combined and finely chopped.
  2. While the processor is running drizzle in the water and then the olive oil and continue to process until smooth. You may want to scrape down the sides of the processor occasionally.
  3. Pour the dip into a bowl and serve with veggies and pita chips!

Eat Consciously,


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Follow me on Instagram!

Hey everyone! For those of you have read my blog at all you may have picked up on the fact that I travel...a lot! Traveling is one of my favorite things to do and I've had the privilege to travel world wide for my job the past four years. Right now I'm actually in China and it's been such an adventure! I'm still able to post recipes while I'm gone, but if you want to see what international, plant-based food I'm eating around the world you can follow me @theconscientiouseater on Instagram! Hope you're having a great weekend!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Black Bean and Quinoa Veggie Burgers

We've all had a bad veggie burger. They're bland and mushy and leave you unsatisfied. 

Before I made these black bean and quinoa burgers, I had only tried one other time to make vegan burgers. They were okay, but I wasn't going to hold onto the recipe. The other day I had my friend over for dinner because she was considering going vegan and wanted to pick my brain. Since I was leaving to go out of town the day after she came over I didn't have much food to work with, but thankfully I found a recipe for veggie burgers using most of the ingredients I had in the house. Overall the recipe reviews were positive, but I wasn't sure how "veganizing" the burgers would affect their consistency and more importantly if they'd hold together. Nobody likes a crumbly burger.

Thankfully, these turned out great! They actually had flavor and didn't fall apart with each bite we took. If you're okay with spice, I'd highly recommend increasing the seasonings even more to bump up the flavor. These are also great burgers to freeze and reheat throughout the week.

Black Bean and Quinoa Veggie Burgers
(Serves 5)

  • 1 3/4 cup cooked black beans (or one can, drain and rinsed)
  • 1/4 cup dry quinoa*
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth*
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon frank's hot sauce
  • 1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 3 tablespoons warm water)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup corn
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and minced
*If you already have some cooked quinoa, you can substitute the 1/4 cut dry quinoa and 1/2 cup veggie broth for 3/4 cup cooked quinoa.

  1. Prepare your flax egg by whisking together 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of warm water. Set aside to "gel".
  2. In a small sauce, bring the quinoa and vegetable broth to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the quinoa is tender and the broth has been absorbed.
  3. While the quinoa is cooking, place the black beans into a large bowl and mash them with a fork until there are only a few whole beans left and a paste has formed.
  4. Add in the flax egg, oat flour, onion, garlic, cumin, salt, hot sauce, cilantro, corn and jalapeño and mix everything together using your hands.
  5. Form into 5 patties and if possible let the patties rest for 20 minutes in the fridge.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a baking tray with cooking spray. Place the chilled patties on the baking tray and spray the tops with cooking spray.
  7. Bake the patties for 15 minutes, flip the over, and bake for 15 minutes more.
  8. For extra delicious patties, after the patties have baked in the oven, "fry" them on a hot skillet for 2 minutes on each side using cooking spray.
  9. Serve on whole wheat buns with any fixings you desire! In my opinion, lettuce, tomato, avocado and spicy mustard are always winners.
Notes: Adapted from All Recipes.

Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of the burgers after baking. They went too quickly!

Eat Consciously,


Monday, June 23, 2014

Raw Chili Chocolate Brownies with (optional) Fudge Glaze

These brownies might be one of my favorite recipes I've shared on the blog yet. They are so rich and satisfying and have a subtle kick to them. I single handedly finished off an entire batch almost by myself. Yes, it was done slowly over the course of a week or two, but still. Simply Delicious.

What to know what's in them?

Chili powder
Sea Salt

What a beautiful, nutritious list of ingredients! And if you really want these to be a crowd stopper then you can also top them off with my delicious vegan fudge sauce. The sauce hardens and give these brownies a delicious fudge layer on top. But if you decide to keep these raw, then they'll be just as delicious too.

I had quite of few of my friends try these brownies and everyone loved them. That's when I know it's good. I hope you try these! You won't regret it.

Raw Chili Chocolate Brownies
(Serves 16)

  • 2 cups almonds
  • 1 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 cups dates, pitted (Best when soaked in warm water to soften and then drained)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
For the Fudge Glaze:
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk
  • 1/2 cup dairy free chocolate chips
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili powder

  1. In a food processor, process the almonds until fine.
  2. Add in the cocoa powder and process some more. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add in the cinnamon, chili powder and sea salt and pulse a few times.
  4. Add in the soften and drained dates and the raisins 1/2 cup at a time, processing each time and scraping down the sides of your food processor bowl often.
  5. Drizzle in the agave and vanilla. If you need to add in more agave to moisten the mixture you can.
  6. Press the mixture into a 8x8 baking dish and place it in your fridge while you make the fudge sauce. 
  7. For the Sauce: Heat the almond milk in a small skillet over medium heat. Once warm add in the chocolate chips and stir until all the chips have melted. Add in the chili powder and stir some more.
  8. Pour the fudge sauce over top of the brownies and spread over the top of the brownies.
  9. Place the brownies in the fridge to cool and then cut into 16 squares.
  10. Keep stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a week.

Notes: Recipe adapted from Sweet Sugar Bean.

Eat Consciously,


Thursday, June 19, 2014

6-Ingredient Nutty Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Egg-free, Soy-free)

When I first decided to cut out meat and dairy from my diet, desserts were one of the hardest things to pass up. While I didn't eat tons of sweets during my pre-vegan days, I definitely would say I had a sweet tooth. When I went vegan, it took a while for my body to stop craving sugary things and there were a few times at social events where I caved, mainly because my body felt deprived...oh, and I saw everyone else eating something I still really loved: sugar!

Throughout the first months of my new diet I did a lot of reading on what vegans eat and found warnings against becoming a "junk-food vegan." Basically a "junk-food vegan" is someone who eats mostly chips, french fries, non-dairy ice cream, faux meats, processed snacks etc. They miss out on a major point of being vegan: eating more plants! I wasn't too worried that I would resort to lots of vegan convenience foods, but early on in my new diet I would often seek out vegan dessert shops whenever I traveled to different cities. If a dessert was vegan then I considered it "healthy." Man was I wrong. 

As I continued to experiment in the kitchen and research different ingredients, recipes and blogs, I began to realize that there is a huge difference in what I once considered a healthy, vegan dessert. Just because a sweet doesn't have dairy or eggs in it doesn't mean it's healthy. Processed white flour plus loads of sugar and oil are still often the main ingredients in many vegan desserts. 

Yes, I know. "Healthy" and "dessert" shouldn't even go together. Desserts are for pleasure and enjoyment. Yes I agree, but if I can kill two birds with one stone, having a dessert that's delicious AND healthy, then I'm going to try and do that! My sweet tooth will get it's fix and my body will be grateful too.

So, since my new-found knowledge of "healthy" (a.k.a. whole foods vs. processed flours and sugars) I've done lots of experimenting in the kitchen. I've made quite a few nasty desserts trying to over-healthify something (yes, I just made a word up). But, the more I practice and learn different techniques, the better my healthy desserts have turned out. I've even had a few turn out so well that I'm not afraid to serve to my friends! Now that's saying something. 

These cookies are an example of a success story. They are quite similar to a Lara Bar, which means they don't have a ton of extra ingredients and are chalk full of nutrition. All you need is a good food processor and you're good to go. Oh and as a side warning make sure you pit your dates or else this might happen...

Nutty Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1/4 cup pecans*
  • 3/4 cup almonds*
  • 1 cup dates, soaked in warm water then drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 3 tablespoons of water)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup dairy free chocolate chips + plus extra for topping
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line 1-2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Prepare your flax egg by whisking together 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of warm water. Set it aside to "gel."
  3. Place the nuts in your food processor and process them until you get a fine meal. Remove them from the processor and set aside.
  4. Next place your soaked dates into the processor and process them until as smooth as possible. You will have to stop a few times to scrap down the sides of the processor bowl.
  5. Add in the flax egg, salt, vanilla, cornstarch and nut meal and process until a fairly smooth dough forms.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  7. Drop the dough onto the lined baking sheets in a bout 1 1/2 - 2 tablespoon portions. Slightly flatten them with your hands and press in any extra chocolate chips if needed.
  8. Bake for about 12 minutes until the bottoms begin to brown and the outsides start to harden. They will firm up a bit more after cooling.
  9. Enjoy your healthy dessert!

Start by processing your nuts until you get a fine meal.

Then process your dates until you get date paste.

Add in the remaining ingredients and process some more. Then fold in the chocolate chips.

Drop portions of the dough onto your baking sheet and press slightly to flatten.

Bake for 12 minutes until the bottoms and outsides begin to brown.

Eat Consciously,


Monday, June 16, 2014

Avocado Hummus: A Perfect Spread for Sandwiches!

I made a big mistake. I went a few months without eating an avocado.

I know, I know. It's horrible.

But I must say that going so long without that plant-based, buttery goodness made it taste that much better when I did finally have it again. 

I'm not entirely sure why I went so long without buying them. It could have been my frugal nature or the fact that I'm usually traveling and rarely home. Thankfully my avocado-less streak ended when Brett and I were at my parents house during the first two weeks of May. We landed in Virginia around lunch time and were quite ready for a meal by the time we made it to my parents house. My Dad whipped out stuff for taco salads: lettuce, black beans, salsa, jalapeños and avocado. I quickly made Brett and myself some salads and as soon as I took a bite with a piece of avocado, it was like a choir started singing in my mouth. It was creamy and rich and so flavorful and I couldn't stop saying, "Mmmmmm!" Seriously, it was like buttah.

The rest of the week I put avocado on everything from salad to toast and ate it right of a spoon too. One of the best things I ate was a veggie sandwich where I included both hummus and avocado. It was such an amazing combination. I didn't want it to end. 

That combination got me to thinking, "Why don't I just combine the two myself?" So I did.

This hummus is great with veggies. It's a perfect spread for sandwiches. It also completes a "snack plate" for lunch if you eat it with some Power Seed Crackers or Whole Wheat Rosemary Wheat Thins!

Avocado Hummus
(Makes a big ol' bowl)

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 1 3/4 cup cooked chickpeas)
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 avocados
  • 4 tablespoons water

  1. Using a food processor process the tahini and lemon juice for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and process for 30 seconds more. By whipping the tahini and lemon juice, you'll be able to get a really creamy hummus.
  2. Add in the olive oil, garlic, cumin and salt and process for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and process 30 more seconds.
  3. Add in half the chickpeas and process for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add in the remaining chickpeas and process for another 1-2 minutes until as smooth as possible.
  4. Add in the avocados. Turn the processor on and slowly add in the water until you get a smooth consistency.
  5. Pour the hummus into a bowl and if desired, drizzle with some more olive oil before serving.

Notes: Process found and recipe adapted from here.

Start by whipping the tahini and lemon juice for 1 minute.

Whip everything some more after adding in the olive oil, garlic, cumin and salt.

Add in 1/2 the chickpeas and, you guessed it, whip some more!

Finish by whipping in the avocado and then slowly adding in the water while the processor runs
until you get a really smooth consistency.

Eat Consciously,


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Then and Now: How my day to day eating has changed since going vegan.

On Monday I shared about my journey to going Vegan. Now I’ll share with you some of the more specific ways my diet, and thoughts behind my food choices, has changed. A fun way to show this is by comparing what I’d eat on a typical day before I went vegan versus a typical day now. 

Then: A mix of cereals with skim milk and a banana
Now: Rolled oats cooked with chia seeds and topped with fruit, almond butter and granola

The Difference: I cared more about low-calorie and low-fat foods then and didn’t pay attention to ingredient labels or the amount of processed sugar I was consuming in my cereals. The lack of healthy fats in my breakfast also caused me to be hungry a couple of hours later. Now I enjoy whole foods that keep me satisfied for hours.

Then: A PB&J sandwich on low-calorie wheat bread with sugar-free jelly, fat-free peach yogurt, pretzels and carrots.
Now: A big salad with spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, chickpeas, tahini dressing and homemade whole wheat bread with hummus on the side.

The Difference: I had no variety in my diet and carrots were practically the only vegetable I'd consume throughout the day. Before going vegan I was focused more on calories instead of nutrients and therefore deprived my body of lots of the vitamins and minerals found in whole foods.  

Then: An egg sandwich on an english muffin with a side of microwaved peas and more pretzels. 
Now: Red Lentil Marinara Sauce over Quinoa with side of steamed broccoli and fresh pineapple.

The Difference: Again, I was all about convenience and low-calorie foods. I was addicted to pretzels. Now I love variety and incorporate veggies into almost all of my meals and usually in multiple ways.

Then: Granola bars, apples, carrots or pretzels. 
Now: Green smoothies, Homemade Lara Bars, veggies and hummus.

The Difference: I often tried not to snack, but when I was too hungry not too, I often chose low-calorie convenience foods with lots of ingredients on the labels. Now I love a good hearty, often homemade snack chalk full of nutrients. 

Then: Ice cream, cookies, brownies.
Now: Fruit, a square of dark chocolate, Homemade Almond Pulp Fudge, dates and almond butter.

The Difference: My sweet tooth was definitely hardest to give up, which shows how much my body was addicted to sugar. I still love sweet things, but now I don't need them. I'm often happy with some fruit for dessert. I've also grown more in my ability to bake desserts using whole foods like dates and nuts which, after eating, leaves me feeling full and satisfied.

Before I went vegan I had no variety in my diet and was all about quick, convenient and low-calorie foods. I cared more about the health claims of the foods I bought and didn't realize that those foods were often processed and stripped of the nutrients that are naturally found in whole foods - a concept that I had never had explained to me.

I feel so much better and couldn't be happier with my choice to go vegan. I eat such a wide variety of food, REAL food, and love that I am able to eat larger quantities. While at first going vegan seemed restricting and I struggled with what I was able to eat, I now feel like there is no end to the delicious food I can eat. My mind is often thinking of different food combinations or recipes I want to try, hence the reason this blog got started in the first place. I love being able to document different recipe creations I make and also see the progress of how far I've coming in my ability to cook and bake without any dairy, meat or eggs.

It's been a wonderful journey! If you have any questions I'd love to chat. Check out my Contact Me tab!

Eat Consciously,


Monday, June 9, 2014

One Year Veganniversary!

It’s amazing to me that I’ve gone a full year without eating (almost any) meat or dairy! Just a couple years ago I thought vegetarians and vegans were slightly crazy and said I’d never cut out whole food groups from my diet. I loved milk, yogurt and eggs too much. But here I am writing to you after a whole year of plant-based eating and I have no regrets whatsoever.

I also like to think that I’m not crazy either. 

I figured to celebrate my one year of vegan eating, I’d write an recap on what caused me to go vegan, how my body has been positively affected, and some of the basic cons that I’ve discovered come along with eating a plant-based diet. I won’t lie, there were definitely times (especially early on) when I thought seriously about throwing in the towel and going back to my old ways of eating and viewing food, but I’m so glad I stuck it out. Let me tell you why!

Before I get into the nitty gritty of the past year, I think it would be good to share what caused me to go vegan in the first place. One of the main, initial factors were stomach aches. I’m not sure when it started, but I know a couple of years ago I started to complain more of stomach pain after eating certain foods: mainly rich, sugar laden foods and dairy such as frozen yogurt. A while later I started to put two and two together and realize that the food I was eating could be causing my stomach pain. Duh Faith. Unfortunately I feared that declining dessert in social settings would cause people to judge me as a goodie-to-shoe-health-nut or, even worse, an anorexic. So I continued to eat the rich desserts and meet friends for frozen yogurt and…I kept complaining. 

The second key factor in my going vegan was learning more about the cons of our Western Diet and the benefits of a plant-based diet through documentaries such as Forks over Knives and books like In Defense of Food. I know there’s a lot of controversy over these sources, but they really caused me to think more about the food I was putting into my body. First of all I realized that my view of healthy (a.k.a. low-fat, low-calorie, processed diet food) wasn’t healthy at all. My eyes became opened to just how far the Western diet has come in the way we over-process our food, seek out convenience over quality, and remove certain nutrients from our foods (like the fat from yogurt to make fat-free yogurt) at the expense of having to replace those nutrients with other chemicals to get the same texture and taste. While I knew there were ways to get quality meat and dairy, finding out that I could get all the nutrients I need through plant sources made me not want to deal with the other possible, negative health affects of animal products. 


I went vegan cold-turkey. 

I’ll be honest. The first few days were hard. One night I literally had a minor panic attack thinking, “Am I really not going to eat meat or dairy anymore?!?” The fact that I was drastically changing my diet from something I’ve always known and deemed healthy was a big shock. I also realized that in order to have my new lifestyle stick, I would have to tell people - people like my friends and family - none of whom are vegan or vegetarian. I feared they would think I was crazy or uninformed. 

But I went for it and it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. 

So, how has my body been affected by a plant-based diet?
  • No more stomach pains 
  • I experience a different kind of full where I'm satisfied instead of stuffed
  • I don't get sore very easily and recover from workouts faster (this is the biggest difference I noticed!)
Finally completing a half marathon after three previously failed attempts...and fueled by plants!

What are some of the cons that come along with following a plant-based diet?
  • It takes planning and prep-work
  • You have to speak up about your dietary restrictions
  • You sometimes cause people to go out of their way 

While I used to pride myself on being low-maintenance when it comes to the food I eat, especially when traveling or going to someones house, I now have to share my eating preferences with others. This is the hardest part about being vegan for me. I don't like people to go out of their way when cooking or providing me with food, but being vegan can cause people to do that sometimes. I am thankful that I'm not allergic to meat and dairy products so that if I don't have any other options I'll just eat what is set before me. What a privilege we have to be able to choose the food we eat!

On Thursday I'm sharing how a typical day of meals looks like now compared to before I went vegan. Check it out!

And please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about a vegan diet. I'd love to chat!

Eat Consciously,