Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cafe Gratitude Review

Last weekend my mom and I decided to try out Cafe Gratitude on Larchmont Blvd in Los Angeles. Since I have switched to a primarily vegan diet, I have not gone to vegan restaurants in the area. I had heard a lot about this restaurant from various sources and concluded that I must try it out. It sure did not disappoint! We went on a Sunday afternoon after church for lunch and they had a table available for us within about 5 minutes or less. The restaurant is bright, airy, and inviting. They had a sign of the monthly specials on the wall which all looked absolutely delicious. We had a table right by the dessert case (of course, right?!) and saw all the amazing-looking desserts. I probably would have tried them all if I could have! Anyway, back to the restaurant... We looked over the menu and I decided to get their Divine juice with apple, beet, ginger, and lemon. My mom got their Elevated- rose water lemonade on ice, which was a little sweeter than we would have liked, but delicious and refreshing nonetheless. My juice was delicious as well. For an appetizer we got Present, which was their version of a bruschetta served on whole wheat crostini with some arugula. It wasn't your typical bruschetta, but it was so tasty. For our meal we decided to share the Hearty raw pizza served with a Caesar salad. I told my mom, "it is a unique combination of flavors but it works really well." We both really enjoyed it. For dessert we decided to get the strawberry pie with a serving of their ice cream. I thought that the pie was good but the real star was the coconut ice cream. It was absolutely delicious. I want to learn how to make it!

I would definitely recommend this restaurant and I can't wait to go back and try what else they have. Everything on the menu looked so delicious and fresh.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Until next time,


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Veggie and Lentil Coconut Curry

This recipe was a fun one to try because I love curry and have never made it before. I had a can of coconut milk to use up after a failed attempt to make coconut whipped cream, so I decided to use it for this instead. I got inspiration from a few recipes and kind of combined them all into one. It came out really great!

This recipe is inspired by the Oh She Glows cookbook Creamy Vegetable Curry and Angela's coconut curry on the blog a while back.

Serves about 4-5

For this recipe, you will need:
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 carrots, chopped
1 sweet potato, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1 small onion or half large onion, chopped
1/2 large green pepper (or the whole pepper), chopped
5 cups vegetable stock
1 cup uncooked lentils
1 cup coconut milk
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp salt, to taste

1. Place onion, garlic, curry powder, and ginger in pan and heat on medium high heat until onion is translucent.
2. Add in pepper, carrots, sweet potato, and tomato and cook for another five minutes.
3. Add in the coconut milk, salt, cinnamon, turmeric, and half of the vegetable stock.
4. Cook the veggies for about 15 minutes. When the liquid is mostly absorbed and the veggies are mostly cooked, add in the remaining vegetable stock and the lentils and cook on low heat until the lentils and veggies are soft and the flavors have combined. I would say about another 20 minutes, but taste as you go along and cook more or less depending on how soft you want the veggies.
5. Serve and enjoy! I would recommend serving it over some brown rice or with some Mary's Crackers for dipping. It was really good!

Note: You can also cook the lentils in a separate pot using whatever cooking directions are on the packaging and then add the lentils to the cooked vegetable mixture. I did it all in one pot to save some dishes.
If there are other veggies you would like to add, go ahead! This can be custom-made with whatever you like :)
If you need more liquid while cooking the veggies and lentils, add water or more vegetable stock as needed.

P.S. You can still donate to my Avon Walk for Breast Cancer by visiting this page.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Coffee "Frappuccino" and Carrot Cake Oatmeal

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I needed a little rest and yesterday my internet went out! Today I have a couple of recipes I threw together this morning and they turned out really great. I hope you enjoy!

Homemade Vegan Coffee "Frappuccino"
Serves 1

1/2 banana
1 cup coffee
1 cup non-dairy milk
3 dates (more or less to taste)
dash cinnamon
dash vanilla extract
4 ice cubes
1 tsp almond butter
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

Note: If you would like it sweeter, add a sweetener of your choice. Top with unsweetened coconut and cinnamon.

Carrot Cake Oatmeal
*This recipe is inspired by the Oh She Glows carrot cake oatmeal*

1 carrot, shredded
1/2 cup oats, gluten free is necessary
1 cup non-dairy milk
1 tbsp flax seed meal
1 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
dash cinnamon
dash ginger
dash nutmeg
dash vanilla extract
1/2 cup pear sauce (optional)

1. Place ingredients into a pot and bring to a low boil.
2. Bring the heat down to a simmer and cook until all the liquid is absorbed by the oats.
3. Serve and top with your choice of walnuts, extra cinnamon, unsweetened shredded coconut, and a spoonful of maple syrup.

This was such a delicious breakfast. And so easy!

Happy hump day everyone!

P.S. I also added the coffee frap and my tropical green smoothie I put on Instagram the other day in the Smoothie Archive. Enjoy!

Coming up later this week: My Cafe Gratitude review, homemade granola, vegan "creme brulee", and homemade coconut curry recipe!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Chocolate for Breakfast? Yes please!

While this week wasn't as stressful as previous weeks at my university, I am excited to say that it is the weekend and the beginning of my spring break! Yesterday I was happy I was able to see my friend Christine who I do not get to see very often because she is getting her Master's degree right now. We got pedicures and then went out for Mexican with my mom. It was a really fun night because we ran into my cousin and his wife who were at the same restaurant. Small world!

I think that people may be a little scared to go out to eat while being vegan, but it really is not as bad as it may seem. It may take some more time to look over the menu, but a lot of restaurants now have vegetarian and/or vegan options that are just as tasty as other options. I ordered some vegetarian tacos with black beans, guacamole, shredded carrots, cabbage, and I told them no cheese to make it vegan. I also enjoyed some chips and salsa and a margarita :) It was all very delicious!

I plan to relax for the rest of this weekend, do some new recipe testing, and maybe visit a new vegan restaurant that I want to try as well! I have a few surprises up my sleeve :) I also have to start training for my Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in September! To learn more about the walk, my story, and to donate, you can visit  this post. It contains the link to my personal page.

This morning I was wanting a chocolaty oatmeal and threw together the easiest combination of oats, cocoa powder, and banana to make a sweet and satisfying oatmeal.

Enjoy the recipe!

Chocolaty-Banana Oatmeal
Serves 1

1 really ripe banana, cut into small slices
1 cup almond milk
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup oats
1 tsp almond butter
1 tbsp flax seed meal
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt

1. Put oats, milk, flax, salt, cocoa powder, almond butter, and banana into pot and bring to a low boil.
2. When mixture comes to a low boil, turn down the heat to a simmer and stir occasionally until the oats have absorbed all of the almond milk.
3. Take the oats off the heat and stir in the cinnamon and vanilla extract.
4. Serve and top with anything you would like. I used walnuts, a pinch of shredded unsweetened coconut, some grain-sweetened chocolate chips, hulled hemp seeds, a tsp of almond butter, and a drizzle of agave nectar.

This was so delicious and will satisfy any sweet tooth!

Have a great weekend everyone!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thirsty Thursday: 3 Smoothie Recipes!

I tend to have a smoothie just about every day, so I thought I would start a smoothie archive. You can reach the page here. I will add recipes periodically for smoothie inspiration for you all. I hope you enjoy them :)

Happy first day of spring!

Chocolate Surprise Green Smoothie
1 banana
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup mixed berries
1-2 cups mixed greens
1 cup almond milk or water

Banana-Carrot Green Smoothie
1 banana
1 carrot
1 celery stalk
1 cup water
1-2 cups mixed greens
1/4 cup mango

Berry-Banana Smoothie
1 banana
1/4 cup berries
2 celery stalks
2 carrots
1 cup almond milk or water

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sweet Tooth Tuesday: Decadent Chocolate Coconut Truffles

I don't know about you, but I certainly have a sweet tooth. In my first 2 years of college I was known to buy a pint of Ben and Jerry's or a shake and eat the whole thing or share it with a friend. I definitely gained the Freshmen 15 and could not get enough of the cookies at my college, Fordham University. This sweet tooth was definitely in overdrive while I was studying abroad in Germany. There was a new bakery on just about every street corner and I spent a lot of time trying new pastries, gelato, and any other sweets I could get my hands on. I love trying out new recipes and watching shows such as Unique Sweets on the Cooking Channel (a definite guilty pleasure).

Now that I have changed my lifestyle a bit, I search for healthier vegan alternatives for my favorite desserts that are still as satisfying as the real thing. These truffles definitely fit the bill.

Decadent Chocolate Coconut Truffles
Makes about 18 truffles
1 cup medjool dates, pitted
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup goji berries
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp water (as needed to make the mixture stick together)
To make the truffles look extra fancy, roll them in your choice of shredded coconut, unsweetened cocoa, and a chocolate glaze (1 tbsp coconut oil and 1 square of Trader Joe's 72% dark chocolate melted-Easiest glaze ever!)


1. Place the ingredients into a food processor and process until combined. If the mixture is too dry, add more water until the mix comes together.
2. With a small spoon, spoon the mixture into the palm of your hand and roll into a ball. If you want them to be larger, just add more of the mixture in your hand and make a bigger ball.
3. Roll into your choice of shredded coconut, cocoa, or the chocolate glaze. I made 6 of each kind, with one left for me to snack on at the end :)
3. Repeat this process until there is no more of the mixture left.
4. Keep in the refrigerator or freezer and enjoy!

I think that these are just about the easiest truffles ever, and they were so fun to make! My mom, step-dad, and I could not stop eating them on Sunday. My mom sent me a text yesterday saying that she was craving them! I think you will enjoy these as much as we did.

Happy Tuesday everyone!


Monday, March 17, 2014

A Day of Green

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone! I have never been a huge celebrator of St. Patrick's Day, but this year I felt inspired to make a menu for the day that included all things green. Usually at this time of year I would be having corned beef and cabbage made by my mom, but since I am vegan now the menu certainly had to change. I had so much fun in the kitchen last weekend coming up with these recipes.

This time last year I was studying abroad in Germany and we all decided to spend the day in Frankfurt drinking beer at the Irish pub by the train station. It was a blast and it was one of the first excursions we took outside of Marburg where we were studying. The pub had these huge towers of beer that we all shared. It was certainly a festive day!

This year I cannot really celebrate because I have school all day so I was inspired to make green recipes over the weekend to make up for my lack of cooking today. I decided to make a delicious green smoothie for breakfast, a raw artichoke and spinach hummus for lunch, and a green-inspired soup with plenty of delicious vegetables for dinner. I love experimenting in the kitchen and these recipes did not disappoint.

Here they are: Banana-Avocado Green Smoothie, Raw Artichoke and Spinach Dip Hummus, and Creamy 3-Veggie Soup. I hope you enjoy!

Banana-Avocado Green Smoothie
Serves 1
1 frozen banana
1 carrot
1 handful spinach
1/2 avocado
1 cup almond milk or water

Place ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. I topped this smoothie with goji berries, cinnamon, and a fresh sprig of mint. It was one of my favorite smoothies to date. Rich and so satisfying, it kept me full throughout the morning.


Raw Artichoke and Spinach Dip Hummus
Serves 1
1/2 cup chickpeas (I used canned)
4-5 olives
1 tsp olive oil
handful spinach
1/2 avocado
3 artichoke hearts, canned
water, as needed to make mixture smooth
pepper, to taste
salt, to taste

This hummus was easy and so healthy. Feel free to add any additional spices you'd like. What is great about this is that it is a great base for customizing it however you'd like. I enjoyed every bite of this with some green pepper and some Mary's Crackers. 

Creamy 3-Veggie Soup with Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower

This recipe was fairly spontaneous as I didn't really know exactly what I was going to make. I knew I wanted to make some sort of soup or sauce though. This recipe is great because you can eat it as a soup or spoon it over some veggies or pasta as a sauce (I peeled some zucchini to make some "linguini"). Oh so simple and versatile! My mom and step-dad gobbled it up!

Serves 2-3
1 zucchini 
1 head of cauliflower
3 cups broccoli (I used pre-chopped) 
1 cup almond milk
1-2 cups water
2 artichoke hearts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 tsp pepper
dash 21 seasoning salute or spice mix of your choice
1/2 tbsp fresh Adobo (a mixture of garlic, oregano, salt, and olive oil- a Puerto Rican staple! I will post the recipe soon :) ) If you don't have fresh Adobo, add about a tsp of chopped garlic into the pot, 1/2 tsp of salt, and a 1/2 tsp dried oregano. 

For the soup:
1. Place sunflower seeds in a bowl of water to soak for a minimum of 2 hours and set aside; you will use these later. 
2. Cut the cauliflower and zucchini into pieces. Save half of the cauliflower for roasting. 
2. Place broccoli, cauliflower, artichoke, and zucchini in a food processor until chopped finely.
3. Place mixture into a pot with the water and the almond milk. 
4. Add the spices and bring to a low boil.
5. When the mixture begins to boil, turn the flame down to a simmer and cook for about a half hour or until the veggies are tender and the flavors have combined (You may need to add more water while the veggies are cooking)
6. Drain and rinse the sunflower seeds and place into a high speed blender with about 1/4 cup of water (you can add more if the mixture is too thick). Stir this into your soup and then heat the mixture until it is heated through. The sunflower seeds add a creaminess and thickness to the soup.  
7. To make the soup extra creamy, I cooled it off a bit and placed it back into the blender to make it extra smooth. 

Notes: To add a cheesy flavor, add nutritional yeast to taste. I didn't have any, so I left it out. This soup can be enjoyed at any temperature. My mom and step-dad ate it at room temperature and loved it. 

For the Roasted Veggies:
1. Put the chopped cauliflower and the broccoli pieces into a large bowl.
2. Add in 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil, 1 tsp pepper, 1 tsp 21 seasoning salute, a pinch of thyme, oregano, and 1 tsp garlic powder.
3. Mix the ingredients until all of the veggies are coated with the oil and the spices.
4. Place in a 350F oven for 15 minutes, mix the veggies around, and roast for another 15 minutes until cooked thoroughly.

Serve the soup and top with a tsp of olive oil, some toasted sunflower seeds, and the roasted veggies for some extra veggie power!
Since this soup does not have a main protein, it can be used as an appetizer or you can top it with some roasted chickpeas to add some protein to make it a full meal.

This soup is so simple, nutritious, and creamy, and it is wonderful to know all the ingredients that are in it. I have noticed that it is hard to find soup in the grocery store that does not have sugar or some type of unnecessary ingredient in the list. Making recipes from scratch is the best way to know what is going into your food, without all the processing and added ingredients, which is definitely something to feel good about!

I hope you enjoy these St. Patrick's Day inspired recipes, good for any day of the year :)

Stay tuned tomorrow for a delicious chocolate truffle recipe. These are a can't miss!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday Morning Comfort

This morning I was in the mood for a hearty bowl of oatmeal. Since I had pear sauce in my kitchen, I thought I would use that to add some extra flavor and sweetness to my oatmeal. A simple mix of oats, milk, flax, and pear sauce, this oatmeal is comforting and filling enough to give you energy for the entire morning. Enjoy!

For 1 serving of oatmeal:
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup oats (gluten-free if preferred)
1/2 cup pear sauce (I used Trader Joe's brand, but feel free to substitute apple sauce if you'd like)
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
dash cinnamon
dash nutmeg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

For toppings:
I used a pinch shredded coconut, 1 tsp of maple syrup, a small handful of walnuts, cinnamon, and a chocolate glaze I had leftover from Friday.

1. Combine the almond milk, oats, pear sauce, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a pot and bring to a low boil.
2. When the mixture comes to a low boil, lower heat down to a simmer and stir occasionally until the oats soften and absorb the milk.
3. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
4. Serve, top with whatever toppings you prefer, and dig in!


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Walking for a Cure

I am so excited to be a part of the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer taking place in Santa Barbara, CA in September. I lost my step mom after her 2 year battle with cancer, so this cause means a lot to me! It seems as though every day I hear about somebody else who has been affected by cancer or who knows someone who has gone through it or is going through it. No one should have to suffer from this disease!

The Avon Foundation does wonderful things with the money raised from this walk. I cannot wait to walk with some amazing women and men who are coming together for a common cause. The money raised from this walk goes to education, treatment care, preventative measures, and further research for finding a cure.

This is just one of the things I can do to be a part of progress in finding a cure for cancer. This is my first walk so I am a little bit intimidated, but I am also very happy that I am taking this challenge. I will be thinking of my step mom the whole time I am walking the 39.3 miles!

I hope to raise at least $1800, and am on my way to getting there. If you can donate anything at all, I would greatly appreciate it! It is a great cause and one that I am honored to be a part of.

Here is the link to my page where you can donate. If you have any fundraising ideas for me or want to learn more about the walk, leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you :)


Guilt-Free Shamrock Shake

I have been looking forward to this post all week! Since starting this blog, I feel a whole new sense of creativity and an eagerness to try new recipes. Looking at other blogs has given me a ton of inspiration for what I should try.

I decided to get into the St Patty's Day spirit by making green dishes today. I was so excited to try to make my own Shamrock Shake. Can you believe I have never had one in my life?! I knew I didn't want to splurge on the calories, fat, or sugar by going to McDonald's, so I looked up the original recipe and decided to make my own spin on it.

The usual recipe and nutrition breakdown:

Calories 530 
Fat 15g
Calories from Fat 140
Saturated Fat 10g
Sugar 73g

I don't know about you, but I know I wouldn't feel so great after drinking that load of calories!

Check out my version below, featuring fresh mint, nutritious banana, and smooth almond milk.

Guilt-Free Shamrock Shake
Serves 1

8 leaves fresh mint
1 cup dairy free milk of your choice
4 ice cubes
1/4 tsp mint extract
4 drops green food coloring
1 frozen banana, chopped

Place ingredients into blender and blend until smooth.
Top with coconut whipped cream and a sprig of fresh mint.

This was so delicious, I know I will be making it again.

Have a happy St. Patrick's Day weekend everyone!



Fresh mint is a staple in my house. It is so good for fresh mint tea or as an addition to smoothies!

My version of the Shamrock Shake:
137 calories, with nutrients and minerals too!

I know this will be what I am drinking on St. Patrick's Day!

I hope you enjoy :)


Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday Finds

TGIF! There is nothing better than a relaxing evening at home after a long week. I'll be spending tonight with a glass of wine and doing some recipe testing.

Here are some items I am loving lately.

Favorite chips as of late:
I am not a big chip person, but these have a simple ingredient list and are gluten free and vegan. I love them with hummus or the Trader Joe's dips below :) Late July is a family run business that makes organic and Non-GMO snacks. With all the hype about GMOs, I feel comfortable having these chips instead of other fried or unhealthy snacks. 

Ingredients: Organic ground whole corn, organic expeller pressed sunflower and/or organic expeller pressed safflower oil, organic brown rice, organic chia seeds, organic grain and seed blend (organic flax, organic millet, organic brown rice, organic quinoa, organic amaranth), organic evaporated cane juice and sea salt

Favorite Friday indulgence:
Anyone out there know of any good vegan wines? 

Favorite dessert:

Favorite dips:
My mom introduced me to these and I can't get enough of them!

Stay tuned this weekend for a few delicious recipes (a couple involving chocolate ;)!

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Netflix Changed My Life

When I first started incorporating vegan meals into my diet, I didn't quite know where to start. I honestly had never even thought about becoming vegan before in my life. I had always had a not so great relationship with food, whether it was withholding food in the morning to "save calories" for later in the day, trying the next fad diet, or stress eating until I could not stuff anything else in my mouth. I even went through a brief period of unhealthy binge eating and purging. Although it was not severe and did not last very long, it nonetheless affected how I saw food. I was known to follow the pattern of restricted eating and/or dieting and then I would go on vacation and eat anything and everything I wanted to try while away from home. This pattern was very unhealthy and affected my self-esteem and how I saw food. It stressed me out and I lived in an all-or-nothing mentality rather than eating to nourish my body.

I wanted to share my journey with you all to show you that you really can get past that and learn how to eat in a healthy way. It took me years to figure out how to find a balance with what I was eating. I no longer beat myself up over eating something that I "should not be eating". I think that balance is key when finding peace with food. Of course I have had my days where I do not eat completely vegan, but as long as I am nourishing my body and eating in a way that makes me feel good, I feel at peace with food. I live on my own while I am at school, so I am completely vegan then. I cook for myself and never have meat or dairy in the house, but there are some days when I am with friends or family and if there is nothing else to eat, I have eaten a small amount of dairy or meat. I want to be completely vegan eventually, but I also do not think that diet has to be an all-or-nothing thing; you should do what makes you feel your best, and if you "slip up" and do not eat as best as you would like, just eat healthier the other days. I think that listening to your body is the most important thing.

Hopefully I can inspire some of you to embrace a healthy lifestyle and incorporate some more vegan meals into your life, even if it is just one day a week.

I have always had a passion for food and now am very interested in becoming a Registered Dietitian so that I can help others find their way to a healthy way of eating. I know how much it has changed my life and made me feel so much better about avoiding/not consuming animal products. Watching some documentaries really changed my view of the whole meat and dairy industry. I think everyone should watch them!

Here are some of the documentaries on Netflix that I watched at the beginning of my journey into becoming vegan:
Food, Inc.
Forks Over Knives
Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead
Food Fight
Hungry For Change
Jamie Oliver's TED Talk
Food Matters

These documentaries made a huge difference for me and helped me learn how to eat to nourish my body. They opened my eyes into the world of dairy and meat production; it is appalling what they put the animals through. I still do not understand how it is allowed. I also have learned to buy organic (when I can) and local ingredients. I love going to the Farmers Market on Sunday mornings to get fresh produce for the week. It feels good to know that I am getting my food in a sustainable way that supports local farmers. I feel very fortunate to live in California where produce is so readily available. I now avoid all the processed food in the grocery store and primarily make my own recipes rather than buying prepared food. I find that this is the best way to know what is in my food and I can avoid chemicals and ingredients that I do not want to consume. I am also more conscious of food labels and I read every label before I buy something. This might seem a little obsessive, but you would be surprised how much sugar is in everything, from tomato sauce to cereal to milks. I find that making something myself is really rewarding :)

I hope that you all can get something out of my journey and learn along with me! I know there is so much more that I want to learn.

Image via
I can certainly relate to this! It was not until I started incorporating wholesome, nutritious meals into my routine and not calling it a diet that I really learned how to consistently eat healthy.
                                                                 Image via
Image via
 I thought this was appropriate since I am studying Psychology! I think Hippocrates was onto something :)


This is California Winter

Yesterday I looked at the temperature reading in my car and it said 82 degrees. I should be used to this since I have lived in California my whole life, but it still amazes me. I complain about the weather being too hot sometimes, but it was so beautiful today, I had to take a picture.
Having spent 2 years in New York studying Psychology at Fordham University, I have a new found appreciation for the winter here in California. We have mild temperatures and sunlight throughout the winter.

No complaints here. Have a fabulous day everyone!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Too good not to share...

Yesterday I decided to make the Cream of Tomato Soup with Roasted Italian Chickpea Croutons from the Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon. That was just one of the recipes I wanted to try!

I thought I would share my adaptation of the recipe with you all. I didn't have the exact ingredients so I worked with what I had and it came out so good!

Adapted from the Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon

Here it goes:

For the chickpeas:
1 can of chickpeas
1 tsp olive oil
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp Adobo powder (you can find in Hispanic food aisle in grocery store or a specialty store)
1/2 tsp Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute

For the tomato soup:
1 cup cashews and sunflower seeds, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
1 small onion (I used onion that I sauteed a couple of days ago. I think it was less than a whole onion.)
2 cloves garlic
2 cups vegetable broth
1.5-2 cups tomato sauce of your choice
3 Roma tomatoes
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
Trader Joe's 21 seasoning salute to taste
ground black pepper to taste

This recipe started out with me making a mistake by adding too many cashews into the recipe, so I added the tomato sauce to compensate for the extra nut mixture.

Make the chickpea croutons.
Preheat oven to 425.
Drain and rinse the chickpeas and pat dry with a paper towel.
In a bowl, place the chickpeas, oil, and spices and mix until all the chickpeas are coated with the spices.
Place on a cookie sheet and roast for 15 minutes, rotate pan, and then roast for another 15 minutes or until chickpeas are crunchy.

For the Soup:
Place soaked cashews and sunflower seeds into blender with the vegetable broth and blend until smooth. Add in tomato sauce, sun dried tomatoes, onion, garlic, and tomatoes.
Bring to a low boil and add the spices to taste. I didn't add too many because the sauce already had some spices.
I simmered the mixture for maybe about 30 minutes until the garlic cooked down a little bit.
Serve and enjoy!

I had this for dinner tonight and it was absolutely delicious. I added some vegetables that I roasted a few days ago, vegan sour cream, Mary's Gone Crackers, and some tomatillo salsa that I had in the fridge for some extra flavor.

The bowl of goodness along with some green tea.

Dessert was a chocolate zucchini muffin with some almond butter on top. It hit the spot just right.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

My go-to Green Monster

Before becoming vegan, my diet consisted of mostly carbs and junk. I did not eat a lot of fast food, but I lived on pasta and anything else that was easy to make. Creativity was not a factor of my meals.

Now I get my inspiration from a handful of blogs or I Google a recipe for whatever I am in the mood for. I have Oh She Glows to thank for providing me with my new favorite cookbook and for making me go a little crazy in the kitchen yesterday. I did a big grocery haul last weekend and wanted to use up a lot of what I bought, so I went through the book and marked the recipes I wanted to make.

The result: Creamy tomato soup with chickpea croutons, apple and pear baked oatmeal, vegan sour cream, and easiest almond cookies from her blog a while back (I used almond pulp instead of meal so they came out a little doughy instead of cookie-like, but tasty nonetheless)

After a day in the kitchen yesterday, I had one more thing to make this morning which was homemade sunflower seed milk. I let the seeds soak in milk overnight and then drained and rinsed them this morning. I do not have a nut milk bag yet (it is in the mail and I can't wait to receive it!) so I used a mesh strainer which still worked. I strained it about 3 times and it came out really great! I add a little bit of vanilla extract and cinnamon to make it taste even better. 

Since I had a new batch of milk, I of course had to make a Green Monster this morning. I usually have one every day but lately I have been slacking on making them. I always feel great when I start my day with one of these.

Here is my go-to recipe: 
1 cup homemade milk of your choice (I used sunflower seed milk)
1.5 cups mixed greens 
1 small banana
1/4 cup frozen mango slices
dash cinnamon

Place ingredients into blender and enjoy!

This Green Monster tasted so good. I couldn't drink it fast enough!

Energy-fueled breakfast for the day :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sticky Fingers?

Tuesdays are my day off so I thought I would start my day going to my new favorite bakery. I love searching on Yelp to find the next best place to try out. Sticky Fingers Baking Company is located in Ventura on Main St. and is definitely worth a try. I may have gone there two times this week already ;) Sunday I tried their vegan coffee cake muffin which was so moist, fluffy, and delicious, I knew I had to go back there again. Today I got an almond milk latte and decided to try out two of their pastries. The gluten-free chocolate peppermint cookie and the lemon poppy seed muffin (both vegan!). The cookie was more like a muffin top which I loved, with crunchy bits of sugar on top. They were both really moist and flavorful. I am sure I will be going back to this bakery to try a new pastry soon! I also love this bakery because it has a small neighborhood feel and they have something for everyone: gluten free, vegan, and regular baked goods. How can you go wrong with that?!

check out their goodies here!

What I got:

 Their display case:

last picture via

Have a fantastic day everyone!

Monday, March 10, 2014

To whoever is out there...

When I went to my doctor in July 2013, she suggested that I consume a gluten-free and vegan diet.  I had just come from studying abroad in Germany (which was just about the best time of my life!). I went through my study abroad experience living in the motto "When in Rome!" I indulged in the most delicious and amazing food that one dreams about when thinking of European food. Going to my doctor was the wake up call that I needed to start taking better care of myself. And what an amazing journey it has been! I never thought that one visit to my doctor would completely change the way I eat and reignite my passion for cooking, baking, and searching for new recipes to try. I have been so inspired by the blog Oh She Glows, and I have to thank Angela for my easy transition into a primarily vegan diet. Eating vegan does not have to feel depriving, boring, or tedious. Some of the most delicious recipes that I have come across are vegan! 

I know that telling people you are vegan does not result in the most warm responses. Often friends look at me as if I have three eyes and wonder why I eat the way I do. I do it for no one other than myself; it makes me feel so much better to know that what I am putting into my body is nourishing and is providing my body with the nutrients it needs to function. This journey has been an interesting one to say the least, one that I never thought I would experience, but it has been a great one that I want to share with others.

Eating healthy does not have to be difficult; it can be fun (and way easier than I thought it would be)!

My life before integrating more vegan foods into my lifestyle consisted of anything and everything unhealthy for me. Give me pasta, sausage, a great mixed drink or German beer, and I am there (what vegetables?!). Little did I know that all that indulgence would catch up with me. Now that I consume a vegan diet about 90% of the time, I feel so much better knowing that I am taking care of myself, and I want to share my journey with you all. So join me on my transition of becoming vegan and experimenting with baking and cooking and finding the vegan food gems around town. Hopefully my new found love for vegan food can inspire you to make some healthy changes to your own diet and lifestyle because I know how much it helped me :)