Depending where you are, this recipe roundup is either late or just in time. Anyone on the northern hemisphere is coming out of winter and are probably looking for iced tea recipes. But if you are in the southern hemisphere, you are probably dreaming of hot chocolate and lattes. This post right now is for you guys.
I usually start these posts by talking about all the recipes as a whole. But truthfully, it is hard to talk about all these recipes and not compare them. Out of all the different styles and techniques, I noticed one ingredient made one hot chocolate shine out of all the others- using chocolate bars. Yes, out of all the different recipes the Luxurious Dairy Free Hot Cocoa from Oh She Glows takes first prize. Why? Well she uses chocolate that isn’t just in a powder form. Using a chocolate bar or even bakers chocolate, she adds a whole lot more dimension to the dessert. That being said, all the other hot chocolate recipes would benefit from using a chocolate bar over cocoa powder. But all the different hot chocolates have their positives.
This sounded super yummy and low in fat. Sometimes I don’t like how rich hot cocoa can be. Emily uses coconut to make the milk base, and uses ginger tea and cinnamon to add flavor. The end result tastes great, I love how you get a kind-of chocolate chai drink. But, I found that even with long blending, the coconut didn’t blend all the way. If I made this again, I would probably toss the coconut in while the tea was brewing.
Bottom Line: A little chunky, maybe pre-soak coconut
I love the idea of being able to make hot cocoa from scratch instead of using mixes. Most mixes have dairy in it so why not just make it from scratch? This recipe uses an actual chunk of chocolate, making the drink incredibly rich. And if that isn’t enough, she uses a little cocoa powder as a big double punch. The biggest downside? It makes more than just one serving. I probably have “two servings” and added the rest in a smoothie for my husband to make sure it didn’t go bad.
Bottom Line: Whoa so perfect- hope you have friends to share with
I wanted to love this recipe so badly, I mean come on guise?! Nutella AND hot chocolate? Well, it was pretty good, but I think it could of improved. The drink was too bitter, and probably needed a little more sweetener. I probably would of also included some melted chocolate to the recipe, mostly because if the name is going to include nutella, I want it to be RICH!
Positives? The recipe is super easy to cut in half, if you don’t want to make four servings (let’s face it is more like two or three servings). The drink was really smooth, which I liked as well.
Bottom Line: Good, want it to be richer
This recipe is pretty simple, milk, chocolate, and chai mix. Luckily, it links to another part of the blog that gives a recipe for a homemade chai spice mix. The mix is okay, focusing mostly on ginger, which I though was weird since I smell more cardamom than ginger in chai teas. This is easily overlooked with the final product, I can barely taste the ginger! The recipe is alright, the chai spices give an interesting variation to hot chocolate, but I found myself adding more sweetener to my hot chocolate.
Bottom Line: Not bad, added some sweetness
I feel like I have a sneaking hunch that there might be a misprint in the recipe, because my drink didn’t look like hers and had too much of a chocolate taste. The drink was really bitter, and I found myself adding the max suggested maple syrup AND some liquid stevia. I think if I divided the chocolate in half, meaning 1/8th of a cup for two servings, instead of 1/4th, I would be much happier with this drink. The plus? It was easy to halve, and therefore making only one for me. It is easy to make whenever, just add ingredients and enjoy. I cheated and used store bought coconut milk that is in the refrigerator non-dairy milk section (instead of making a raw-homemade version).
Bottom Line: Too bitter, not enough maca & maple flavors
This hot chocolate has an nice thick creamy body. It is so thick and creamy from the pumpkin puree, not from fats. The drink isn’t too bitter, but leaves too much open ended with how much to sweeten the drink. I like having defined measurements sometimes, if anything suggested amounts. The overall drink didn’t scream pumpkin or pumpkin spice. In fact, I probably would ditch the pumpkin spice, and just leave as is. The pumpkin got overwhelmed by the chocolate, and I am okay with that. As mentioned the pumpkin did much more for the body and texture of the drink.
Bottom Line: Thick creamy, and delicious
I am not a huge Saint Patricks day fan. I think it is because I lived in Center City Philadelphia for four years. The entire week of Saint Patricks Day was a big party. It was quite annoying going to class and seeing people stumble out of bars at 10 in the morning. Some years it seemed like it was a two week party marathon, depending on which day of the week Saint Patricks Day landed on.
I know live in a walking distance of about 5 bars (I live between two dry towns, if that explains it) but it seems like we can be pretty secluded from the holiday. Because of that, I am finding myself starting to warm up to the holiday. Well, up until I got stuck in traffic on route 76 due to the Saint Patricks Day parade yesterday. Ugh!
Truthfully there is nothing special about this smoothie. I am not 100% being modest, this is just my typical morning shake. It is pretty much the same shake I have before running or starting me day. Sure I make modifications here and there like swapping out water for a milk or blending in an orange over a banana. I am so unfazed by this green drink that when asked by guest what I’m drinking, I just say it is a smoothie. But I love this shake. It gives me just the right amount of energy to run, but not be too filling that I feel like I’ll need to hurl.
Since I have “perfected” this shake I figured I would share it in honor of Saint Patricks Day. Okay I am a little late, but I’m a rebel like that. I tend to not to follow holiday standards for food. I am actually confused half the time what people serve for some holidays. Like what do people serve for Easter aside from ham? What is a classic Easter dessert? As a kid that answer would be jelly beans and chocolate.
What I love about this smoothie is how much nutrition is packed in here. It counts at around 250 calories per drink, and if you need more calories you can use a milk instead of water, or you can add some protein powder. The shake I made in the photograph actually has some hemp protein powder in it, making it even more green. I like to use whichever greens I have on hand, lettuce, chard, kale, collard green, spinach, whatever. It is particularly handy during the summer when it is a mystery what I will get from my CSA. Depending on your green you can get anywhere from 9-15% calcium and 17-25% iron!
Hey guys. Just trying to relax this weekend and catch up on some reading. I have some cool ideas for blog posts this week, and I hope I can share them in a timely manner. What’s coming up this week? A smoothie, a soup, maybe some tomatillos, crossfit, and my experience with counting calories. I hope they will interesting reads. But for now, check these links.
I love banana ice cream, so when I saw this recipe for Caramelized Banana Ice Cream, I completely lost it.
The Kitchn does a post about why Coffee and Booze go so well together. It made me cry a little, two things I love and two things I try to cut out of my diet. But hey, when I indulge I can double indulge right?
Olives for Dinner creates a vegan Carrot Lox. Am I drooling yet?
Alissa makes the most logical vegan move ever- mixing hummus with pasta. What? Which gave me some inspiration for an idea for my dinner tonight.
Vegan Richa publishes a recipe for Lentil Granola! This is such a cool idea, maybe a new granola recipe from me will be coming up.
Oh stats! How I love you! NPR does a report showing how much we spend on food. How much? Less than your Granny did.
NPR does a small interview with some of the leading names in veganism, and asks the important question- does being vegan really help the animals?
Ever feel like food blogs all look the same? Well, maybe they do.
I am just in love with Jo’s photos from the Auckland Zoo.
I saw Oh Darling’s post about playing around with film, and wanted to try it. So I was happy when I saw lomography’s instructions on how to cook film. Now I just have to get my analog cameras working.
I started a Pinterest board on wombats because I loves them.
Which brings me to my next point- guess who bought this print? This chick.
I’m not a buddist, nor do I meditate really. But I found this article really interesting.
This article from the New York Times about how social problems are not isolated in Ferguson is really interesting.
Day 66: A local coffee roaster, Revolution Roasters, finally opened a store front. I was pretty excited to visit, and I fell in love with the blue guy.
Day 67: I took a photo of the sidewalk to prove that I am particularly glad about the spring for my running. I like running on the sidewalk since some people run straight up in the middle of the road, and I find that obnoxious (and I don’t want to be obnoxious, right?) But I live in a old neighborhood, some people shovel, some people don’t. But when people do shovel, their side walks can still be icy since they are old and uneven. So I figured, hey, let me take a photo and show what happens when snow melts- they make giant puddles that freeze up. Just glad it all over.
Days 68: Alexa and I hung out and went to Asbury Park for some Mogo. While driving we talked about the unique beach culture we grew up with (anyone part of a beach club? Probably not, seeing how I haven’t heard of any outside of our area) Then we passed by the most impossible sign. I miss the beach.
Day 69: My fuzzy was being super fuzzy.
Day 70: I wanted to post this smoothie for Thursday but straight up forgot. Oops! But the photos have such dramatic lighting.
Day 71: My boss was late for work so I had to sit in my car for a little bit. The most interesting thing to photograph was this little squirrel buddy.
Day 72: I took some photos a soup for another recipe post. I loved this shot of hand, but then saw my polish is totally chipped! I haven’t painted my nails in probably a month.
Alexa is working toward a vegetarian diet, and is loaded with questions. Jennifer’s got answers. We talk about anything as long as it is vegan. Are tattoos vegan? How do I politely not eat Thanksgiving dinner? How do I order without pissing off the waitress? We know you are dying to ask!
I’ve been doing crossfit, and trying to stay active. In the protein post, you recommend upping protein for people who are more active. Should I use protein powders? Are they really healthy?
If someone came up to me saying they were worried about their protein intake, I would necessarily start pointing them towards powders. But I wouldn’t discourage people from using them. They’ve kind-of earned a reputation of being something for die-hard muscle builders, and certain brands are filled with garbage to make them taste better or dissolve faster.
That doesn’t mean they are all bad for you. But as a vegan you need to proceed with caution when buying protein powders. Many brands use whey or egg whites since some people think they are better absorbed by muscles. This is only half true and has a long complicated answer. The important thing is that you still absorb the protein in vegan based proteins.
Protein powders are great to toss in a shake to quickly add protein to it. Some protein powders say to mix in water, or plain soy milk. But truthfully they taste best when added or incorporated into a smoothie with fruits. A quick formula would a cup liquid, a cup fruit, and a serving of protein.
So where do you start? I like to divide protein power ups into thre categories: pure powder, powder mixes, and raw ingredients.
When a vegan first dabbles in protein powders they might see comparisons to brown rice protein, hemp protein, soy protein, etc, etc. Each have their own benefits, nutritional profiles, and price ranges. Soy protein is widely available with store brands, and can be the cheapest. For example Trader Joe’s have their own soy and hemp protein powders. I personally use brown rice protein or hemp protein on alternating days, or depending on the type of shake I make. There are tons of sources, but very few brands sell completely isolated varieties.
The benefit? These have higher amounts of protein for less calories. Sometimes they are gritty, so I never use the full recommended serving size. I usually use just a tablespoon or two in a shake. They can dissolve with some extra blending, and usually dissolve better when you add more than just water or milk to the shake.
The most common protein powders? Brown Rice Protein, pea protein, soy protein, and hemp protein. I left links to products for each protein powder. Make note that these are not the ONLY brand. Each brand have their own taste and ingredients list.
There is an ever increasing amount of vegan protein blends. They are usually much more expensive than “pure powders.” I found that buying single ingredient protein powders usually averages $1-$1.50 per suggested serving, less if you are only using part of a serving (like I do). Powder mixes are intended to be used by the scoop and have a collection of different powders using peas, quinoa, rice, sprouts, you name it. Other vitamins and nutrients are added which can help you meet some trickier dietary needs like calcium, B12, iron, etc. Many are designed to be a meal by themselves. Because of all these extras sometimes the serving sizes are can be $2-$5 each! Some of these inflated prices come from shipping since they are sometimes only sold online.
The prices might seem crazy, but the more active I become, the more it makes sense. I really enjoy having a high protein – high fiber shake after a workout. It really helps with recovery. And it makes sense to have a blend that I can just toss in a blender without anything extra and chug down.
There is also a HUGE taste difference. “Pure powders” usually taste awful when pair purely with water or milk. They work best when you pair them with an already existing smoothie recipe. I’ve had some powder mixes that taste wonderful with some milk and ice blended together. Nothing else. Honest.
Thinking about trying it? Well, if you are scared to buy a whole tub, many health food stores have sample pouches. They are great when on the go, and to simply try out a blend. Many times you can find some deals on blogs giving away samples or having contests for tubs. Some mix brands that I really enjoyed were Vega, Nuzest, Sunwarrior, Plant Fusion, Phood, and Spiru-tein. Sample around before committing, because honestly everyone has their own personal tastes. Plus if you go into a whole foods, supermarket, or health food store they almost always have some single serving packets you can try.
And it might get confusing, many brands have specific protein blends. Some for dieting, some for sports, some meal replacements, etc. Try not to over think it. Just try and rationalize your decision by price, protein content, taste, and ingredients.
Alright, so maybe you don’t want to buy any powders. There other ways to boost protein in your shakes. It is called adding raw ingredients that are naturally high in protein. Duh! There are lots of ingredients you can add to a shake, soaked nuts, hemp seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, soaked buckwheat groats, nut butters, oats, yogurt, soy milk, tofu, and spirulina.
The downside? Well, you usually can only add so much before it really effects your shake. Add too much chia seeds and you will get a goopy mess. Add too much yogurt and your shake will be too tart. Nuts will add a lot of fats with your protein. You get the gist. Listed below are some high protein shakes and DIY protein blends:
High Protein Shakes with No Protein Powder
Minimalist Baker: Recovery Shake 8 grams
PopSugar: High Protein Vanilla Milkshake 17 grams
Oh She Glows: Green Warrior Protein Smoothie 17 grams
This Rawsome Vegan Life: Chocolate Berry Protein Smoothie
Choosing Raw: Green Apple, Pumpkin, and Quinoa Smoothie 20 grams
TLDR: Powders can be good
Overall, protein powders are getting better and better. They are much more wholesome than they were in the past. But still buy with caution. There are lots of blends with fillers and other “stuff” in them that aren’t necessarily great for you. The plus is that most of those protein blends tend to have non-vegan ingredients in them, so you wouldn’t buy them anyways.
There are cheaper “whole” ingredient blends, but they can overpower your shake easily. Blends can be great but can have high price tags. But if you are looking for convenience and taste, you probably just one to buy those. But if you are still not sure, there are plenty of option using whole, unadulterated ingredients.
Simply put, Alexa and I love Mogo. It has built a cult status in New Jersey. People have gone and become hooked instantly. It started out a cool little stand by the Asbury Park Boardwalk. It featured korean fusion tacos, and had a pretty simple menu- beef, pork, chicken, fish, or tofu tacos. They had a little bit of hot sauce and kimchi to put on top. Alexa briefly talks about the stall on her Asbury Fresh post.
Mogo announced that they were opening a storefront so they could expand their menu and offer a place for people to eat. Their storefront opened in December 2013, and I hadn’t been able to check it out until now.
The restaurant has a casual set-up. It is similar to Panera or Chipotle, order at the counter and pick a table. But unlike those chains, workers BRING your food to your table, so you don’t have to listen for your name. The menu is similar to the original taco stand. You have six types of proteins: beef, chicken, pork, fish, shrimp, and tofu. Then you have four styles of food: taco, burrito, bowl, and salad. That means as a vegan, I have four different options.
They have other main eating options and sides, but most are not vegan. The only other option is the fried rice side and some of the different kimchi pickles. After placing your order, stop by their condiments bar. They have self serve kimchi and gochujang sauce. They have easy to read labels, showing that the nappa cabbage kimchi has fish in it. BUT the cucumber and daikon kimchi are all good to eat.
I can say that if you come in saying you are vegan, the staff will happily guide you. I asked if their Hotteok (korean donuts) were made with eggs or milk, they guy immediately said that they weren’t vegan. Which means they get lots of vegans coming in.
I also noticed they streamlined their menu (to avoid vegan confusions maybe?). Their original stall location had many different kimchis, krauts, and dressing to be featured in each protein. I remember mixing and matching them, but looking back, some might not of been vegan. This new menu all the condiments are same in a burrito if you get fish or tofu.
So downside? There really aren’t THAT many options for vegans at Mogo. But then again, it isn’t like going to a restaurant with 30 different options and only one vegan option. It is a place that pretty much has few options and combos are mixed around to make lots of options. Plus as a vegan you are getting something super filling and hearty. Salads? You don’t have to get stuck with it.
Curious about visiting the boardwalk stall for tacos on the beach? Due to space they only serve salads and tacos. They serve all six protein options, the only one that’s vegan is tofu.
One weekend reading I featuring a link to Superfood lattes. The one that really caught my eye was the Turmeric Vanilla latte. When I made it, I thought it was alright. I wasn’t jumping through hoops for it. I think I didn’t like the accompanying powder spices in the drink, as they didn’t dissolve all the way.
But I did think that sweet potato would add a nice complimentary flavor to the drink. The chestnut-like flavors from a Korean sweet potato would work wonders with turmeric. And I was correct. The flesh from the root help rounded out the powdered spice, and give a smooth texture to the latte.
So why bother with turmeric? I like naturally healing foods, but I don’t talk about them often. I worry that people will misinterpret the strength of food, and over estimate them. Ignoring medical problems isn’t cool.
That being said, turmeric has a buttload of medical cures. But most people praise it’s ability to decrease inflammation. In fact, I kept putting in a teaspoon of turmeric into my shakes when my legs were hurting me from standing too long at my old job. I just wish I made this latte back then because it tastes much better than my shakes.
This is the best time of the year for this latte. Most of us are coming to an end to the winter season, and all the snow is melting. This latte is bright and cheery just like the spring. I recommend using sweet potatoes with white flesh to keep the yellow glow. But orange fleshed sweet potatoes will taste just as amazing, and give an equally pretty and vibrant color.
I recently updated our Pinterest board, catching up on about a month’s worth of posts. Then I found out about map pinterest boards, and thought it would be so cool to use. I always wanted to make “touring” posts featuring vegan friendly places that are pretty much free. Like what? Like parks, trails, museums, and such. The main reason I didn’t was because I wanted to have an interactive map that would make finding locations easy.
Anyways, while updating our Tour boards I went through our archives and read some of our early posts. It is funny seeing the differences with how Alexa and I post. Alexa makes posts touching many different topics, while I usually use a post to say just one thing. I also noticed how bulky the Sunday Reading posts are. They clog the main page, making it hard to bother with older posts. So I made a decision to redesign the page. I think more people have a similar format and usually post it on Fridays. Well, I’m sticking to Sundays. XD
This week there was A LOT of really cool stuff. I have no idea how my list got so long. So bear with me, and try and read everything that I posted.
This layered butternut squash “lasagna” made me think about the sweet potato cauliflower on I reviewed earlier. But I like how this one uses the squash as if it is the pasta, making an all veggie casserole.
I’m not a Bailey’s fan, but this recipe for boozy vegan bailey’s is getting my attention.
Oh She Glows is making me drool over these coconut layered snacks. Need to make!
Mother Jones speculates if the Junk-Food Era is drawing to a close. I don’t think so, but I do think with all these health food blogs and the internet is making people more aware of how to eat less processed foods.
I wasn’t interested in watching Fed Up, the documentary. But I am really interested in watching That Sugar Film, it looks like a documentary that really takes advantage of the film medium. It also tried to show the effects of sugar by putting the filmmaker on a “healthy” sugar diet.
I remember having a discussion with my family about how it made more sense that kids would less allergic to peanuts if introduced at an earlier age. Turns out science is now backing that up.
American’s apparently are eating less desserts! I never really ate dessert when growing up, sure we had ice cream, but I am pretty sure that was it. Although money and laziness are reasons why I don’t eat desserts, usually not actually being hungry is the main reason.
Ur What U Post is a cool interactive website that counts Instagram hashtags of healthy and non-healthy foods. The website features some fun games as well, which is nice twist to healthy foods which usually have really boring ad campaigns.
Gina shares some of the problems that slowed her down when trying to get into fitness.
Orthodox Jewish Babysitter’s Club? Where can I get a copy?
Apparently smelly farts are good for you health. Vegans must have perfect heath.
I love fairy tales! And apparently a whole new collection has been found with one about a turnip princess?! Alexa and I are both excited about it.
My friend Ian got a web shop up of his art. He is the cool dude who painted my big cat head from my wedding and drew the design from my bear tattoo. Go check out his stuff.
Emily from Bite Size Vegan talks about horse carriage rides this week.
Wrestling fans? Well, good news, the divas are starting to get a little more respect. Now let’s hope it stays this way.
The Ringling Brothers are phasing out the elephants from their shows. Sadly the decision is less about what’s best for the animals and more about money.
Day 59: I used rice flour this time making my general tso’s tofu and cauliflower and I thought “my god, this is pale, I need to record this!”
Day 60: Thought I would try and take some photos of the birds near my window. I definitely need to get a tripod for this. But check out this cute tit!
Day 61: Made yet another yummy latte that will posted on the blog Monday.
Day 62: One client commissioned my work to build a vase stand. We placed a patterned stained glass pane with a mirror behind it. It looked like tin foil, but looked very different when I photographed it. Now I know what people mean when they say photographing glass is hard.
Day 63: Spent the whole day reorganizing the frames, I felt the need to photograph the progress.
Day 64: A snow storm came but and tried to photograph more birds from our window again. Possibly a slate-colored junco?
Day 65: Light shining on the leaves, melting the snow.
I love avocados. I don’t eat them that often. The price is pretty high on the east coast, about two to three dollars an avocado. When I use to work at a restaurant I would take them all the time, my bosses would charge me less or nothing at all. Once I left I faced the harsh reality of paying retail for avocados.
Then there are the draughts in California. I mentioned on my blog about how almonds use up lots of water, and I therefore tried to cut down on my almond consumption. I subbed soy milk for almond milk, and made rice milk at home (instead of almond milk). Yes, I was buying and making almond milk each and every week.
So what about avocados? How much water do they use? The answer: a lot, but not as much as almonds.
A huge portion of avocado production in the United States happen in Southern California. Then when the United States season ends for avocados, Chili starts their season. And just like Southern California, Chili is going through their own drought.
Being an East Coaster I have an option that is better for the environment: the Florida Avocado. Yes, there are several different types of avocados, though Haas is clearly America’s favorite. The avocados grown in Florida have a smooth green skin, a much larger size, lower fat content, and less calories. Because of the lower fat content, there is a larger amount of water, and a milder flavor. There are a few things I’ve learned about this variety, and will share to anyone who wants to make a more eco-friendly decision.
Their Cheaper (for me at least)
It’s hard not to choose the Florida avocado over the Haas on price alone. One haas avocado is $2.50 a piece while the Florida avocado is $2 each. Sure it is only about fifty cents less, but the Florida avocado is about double the size of a Haas. I can find some cheaper Haas avocados in “bulk bags” but only gets down to about $1.75 each, which still is more expensive due to size. Part of the cheaper price is because cheaper transport, New Jersey is closer to Florida than California or Chili.
Sometimes it is Called a Slimcado (get over it)
You might see this in the store with stickers claiming it is a “slimcado.” I think this label can hurt and help sales. Yes, it has less calories and less fat, which for some people is important. But on the flip side, some people care more about those healthy fats and having non-GMO foods. The name gives a vibe that this is a Haas avocado that has been altered to fit a specific demand in the market. It isn’t. This is a species of avocado that grows in the West Indies, and has been around for years.
Let it Sit For a Few Days to Ripen
When I first tried these guys I hated it. I mean disgusted. I knew I wasted my money. A few years went by and I figured why not give them a second chance. Over the years I learned more tricks about keeping and picking Haas avocados, so applied those rules to the Florida avocado. So I sat my new avocados on the counter and waited a few days. The difference in taste is huge. Many reviews online had people saying they hate Florida avocados, but I think people are just eating unripe fruit. The color of the skin may change color, depending on the variety. The main way to tell if your Florida avocado is ripe is my checking if the flesh is soft. When it is ripe, toss it in the fridge to eat later, or consume in 2-3 days.
It Just Doesn’t Make Guac (sorry)
I think we all love guacamole for it’s velvety and fatty consistency. I’ve tried using a Florida avocado several times, and failed. I kept getting guac that was over powered by other flavors, garlic, salt, lime, etc. I also got a weird watery spread, that just didn’t seem right. If you grew up eating guac from Florida avocados, then you might think it is the only way to eat guacamole. If Haas avocados shaped your guac standards you will just be disappointed. Keep in mind other recipes that use raw blended avocados for a thick food like puddings, probably will need modifications.
Since there is less fat in Florida avocados they are much firmer and keep their shape. There has been many times where I’ve made a salad and added avocado chunks, only to have them mush up when tossing it. The other day I used my Florida avocado in my sushi rolls. They ended up being the most beautiful sushi rolls I’ve ever made since the avocado flesh was firm enough to cut up. So if you want the flesh to stay together I would recommend the Florida variety over Haas.
Still Tastes Great In Shakes
Some of my favorite shakes use avocados. But I never actually make them because of price. Well, the Florida avocado easily subs in, and one fruit can last all week. Even with the lower fat content, the it’ll still delivers that thick velvety quality that you look for. Since Florida avocados are bigger I would “halve” the amount used in the recipe. For example if a shake calls for half of an avocado, use only a quarter of a Florida avocado.