Archive for Uncategorized

An Ode to Snack Foods

I’m a snacker. I get hungry! I prefer to eat smaller meals throughout the day instead of 3 “square” meals. But I have requirements of my snack food. I can’t survive on pre-packaged snacks! No no. If I’m going to have a snack, it needs to be healthy, and it needs to be tasty! Normally, for my snacks, I try to eat something that’s between 150-200 calories. Has at least 3g of fiber and at least 5g of protein. If it doesn’t have some fiber & protein, then I know I’ll just end up snacking again, so it’s gotta have some substance! Here are some of my recent snack superstars:

 

Banana “Ice Cream – It tastes indulgent, and fills me up, all for ~200 calories!

 

Fake Baked Apples You’ll think you’re digging into warm apple pie!

 

Kashi Heart to Heart Cereal – crunchy, munchy, and not too sweet

Amy’s Tamale Pie– Don’t be fooled, this super filling pie is only 150 calories, and is packed with 5g of protein and 4g of fiber!

 

And my newest favorite to add to the mix: Spiced Apple Pie Chips, thanks to Angela @ Oh She Glows

 


Check out these lovely snackers! They’re an interesting mix of chewy and crunchy. A little sprinkle of brown sugar and cinnamon. Perfect!

 

What are some of your favorite snacks?

-LLV

Comments (7) »

Confessions of a Salad Hater

I have a confession.

 

I’m a vegan, and I don’t like salads.

 

Ok, that’s not entirely true. There are some salads I enjoy, but for the most part, I’m not a fan. Last week, I made a salad at work and as I sat there forcing my way through it, I realized I wasn’t enjoy it at all. Not even a bit. But why not? I’m a girl who loves her greens. Why was I such a salad hater? That’s when I realized, the greens are not to blame. No, it was the dressing. I’ve tried tons of different dressings, and they’re usually too sweet/too tangy/too salty/too creamy/too runny/too thick/too slimy/too bland. I just haven’t found a dressing I like!

But this weekend… my salad has found a new best friend…

 

Hummus!!!!

 

I had a big pile of greens topped with a blob of roasted red pepper hummus, and let me tell you, that was a life changing salad. Ok, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, but my love for greens has been resurrected.

 

Looking for a simple hummus recipe? Well look no further…

Basic Hummus Recipe

  • 1 can (16 oz) chickpeas
  • 2 cloves garlic (I used that stuff that is already minced in a jar, and I just put in about 1/4 tsp)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame tahini
  • 1-2 tbsp water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp roasted red pepper flakes

Toss your chickpeas in your blender or food processor and blend for about 15 seconds. Add your garlic, olive oil, tahini, and 1 tbsp of water. Blend for about 30 seconds. If it’s too thick (this depends on how well you drained your chickpeas!) you might need to add another tablespoon or two of water. Once you get it to a nice pureed consistency, add your salt, garlic salt, and roasted red pepper flakes. I gave approximate amounts, but you can add more or less, depending on how spicy you like it. (I usually end up adding a whole teaspoon of red pepper flakes.) This will keep in the fridge for about ~10 days… but mine doesn’t usually last that long 😉

This only costs about $1 to make, which is much cheaper than the $3-4 you’d pay at the grocery store!

Hummus is great on pita, carrots, cucumbers, sandwiches, and of course… salads!

 

What do you guys like to put on your salads? Any dressing recommendations? Do you like hummus on your salads?

 

-LLV

Comments (20) »

PB & Banana Ice Cream

My parents came into town this weekend, to visit me, my brother & my sister in law. It’s so much fun having my family in town, so I’m glad they were willing to make the 8 hour drive! Last night, we went to Edo Squid, a local Richmond restaurant that is known for delicious Italian food! I hadn’t been there since my birthday, but we decided to go last night. Here was my delish vegan dish:

 

It was amazing, and the plate was huge! I only ate about half, and I was full the rest of the night!

 

This morning I woke up with a craving for something sweet… and I was pretty excited to discover that I had an almost empty peanut butter jar in the fridge… (note, there is a big difference between empty and almost empty.) It was definitely a morning for some PB & Banana “Ice Cream”. I’m sure you’ve seen similar recipes, but here’s what went into mine:

PB & Banana Ice Cream

  • 1 medium frozen banana
  • 6 frozen cubes of soymilk + a splash of non frozen soymilk
  • 1 packet of truvia
  • 1 tbs peanut flour
  • 1/4 tsp guar gum (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp xanthan gum (optional)

Throw it all in your blender (or Vita-mix!) and blend until creamy! If you don’t have a Vita-Mix, you might want to slice your banana before freezing, to be a little kinder to your blender blades!) Check out the nutritionals of this ice cream! Keep in mind, it makes a pretty big bowl! I recommend this with some peanut butter on top, or.. out of an almost empty Better’n Peanut Butter jar.

It pretty much made my morning 🙂 There may have also been some kiwi snacking:

Am I the only one that eats kiwi with the skin on? Don’t ask me why I was using a plastic knife to cut this. Needless to say, it didn’t work that well.

 

Right now, the family is watching football and eating chili. I’ve been snacking on my sister-in-law’s AMAZING guacamole. Yummy!

What is your favorite football (or weekend afternoon) snack?

Comments (24) »

Comfort Food Cravings

The weather here has gotten cooler pretty quick, and it has me craving two things: Soup & comfort food! Soup hasn’t been a problem. I’ve been eating that pretty much every day! But comfort food… this one is a little trickier. I’d been craving some old school Kraft Mac n Cheese. I’m pretty sure my brother and I used to eat this 5 times a week! (Healthy I know!!) So what’s a vegan to do?

 

I remembered HEAB’s Mac & Cheese and it sounded amazing, but I didn’t have spaghetti squash or avocado, and I’ve been trying not to go to the grocery store for each meal (I end up buying half the store) but I did have nutritional yeast, so I did some more recipe hunting, and found this vegetable couscous & “cheese” recipe from Oh She Glows. Ah ha! A combination I could duplicate. So I did a bit of a hybrid of the recipe and it turned out like this:

 

Vegan Style Mac & Cheese

For nutritional stats, click here

Bring 1/3 cup of water to a boil, and then remove from heat and add the couscous and salt. Let it sit, covered, for about 5 minutes. (If your peas are frozen, now is a good time to defrost them) After the couscous has absorbed most of the water, put on to low heat and stir in the soymilk, nutritional yeast, parmesan cheese and salt. Add the peas.

Volia! Now keep in mind, Nutritional Yeast doesn’t taste EXACTLY like cheddar cheese, but it’s a wonderful flavor, and nutritional yeast is packed with so many vitamins and nutritents! Cheese couldn’t begin to compare! (In a 70 calorie serving, it manages to pack in 6g protein, as well as B Vitamins and more!)

As for the calorie burn yesterday, I wasn’t feeling very well (I think I’m getting a cold, blech) so I skipped out on my Wednesday workout. If you remember Tuesday, I burned 2,417 calories. Well today  I burned just over 2,000. Now, the additional calories I burned Tuesday can’t be contributed entirely to my workout, because as I looked at the chart, it looks like I fit in a lot more walking on that day. Fitting in walking and light physical activity can be one of the best ways to stay in shape, without having to go to the gym.

 

What foods are you guys craving these days?

-LLV

Comments (15) »

How Many Calories Are You REALLY Burning?

In case you missed my BodyBugg post yeterday, I’m wearing a little tracker thing that will tell me just how many calories I’m burning throughout the day. Not gonna lie, it’s pretty fun if you’re a total nerd like me. Because it’s not just one number at the end of the day. Oh no, it’s a chart, detailing my entire day.  I went to the gym at lunch, obviously, and this is where the fun begins!

Do you ever wonder how accurate those cardio machines are? You put in your weight, your age, and it spits out a number of calories you burned during your work out. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I wonder if those numbers are inflated (or deflated!) So here’s what I did:

I went on the elliptical for 30 minutes. I went at a relatively easy pace (I knew I was signed up for the Abs class right afterwards!) and I rode a total of 2.8 miles. In those 30 minutes, the machine claims I burned 275 calories. Now, I hope this is accurate. But it seems kind of high, because I wasn’t really “giving it my all.”

So let’s check the bodybugg. In those 30 minutes (from 11:20-11:50) it says I burned: 197 calories

Don’t get me wrong, that’s still a decent work out… but it’s not quite the workout promised by the elliptical!

If that’s not interesting (you know, like if you’re not a total weirdo like me) then maybe you’ll find this interesting! After my elliptical sesh, I went to the Abs class at my gym. For 25 minutes, I kicked butt! Normally, I’d have no idea how many calories I was burning. It seems harder than the elliptical, but for all I know, I’m burning the same! Thanks to the bugg, I know I burned  150 more. Ah, satisfying 🙂

What’s my total burn for the day? 2417 calories! Not bad for a day at the office!

Later this week, I’ll do some other cardio machines comparisons, and we can see how the exercise bike and the treadmill stack up against the bugg!

Ok, enough with the calorie counting. On to the food! (And to answer Miss V’s question, it does come with software to track your eating, but I think SparkPeople is more user friendly, so if I feel like tracking, that’s usually what I use.) What have I been eating to accompany all that calorie burn?

Breakfast is picture-less, because it really didn’t look that great. But it was some “fake baked” apple, and a banana smeared with Better’n Peanut Butter.

Lunch was baby carrots & hummus, plus:

Trader Joe’s Black Bean & Corn Enchilladas

Ok, so I guess it doesn’t look that great… but looks can be deceiving! This was pretty tasty, not to mention filling. I also had salad from the cafeteria salad bar:

It was pretty good. I’m not usually a fan of the pre-made salads, but the dressing was light, and it was a nice compliment to my enchiladas.

Um, wait. What? I basically ate a Mexican dish with a Mediterranean salad. I guess in reality, they don’t really go together at all. But I didn’t think about it, I just ate what sounded good!

Oh and dinner was some “fried” zucchini, some Vita Mix Soup. Delicious! (There also may have been some soy crisp munching going on, as well as a bowl of extra creamy “ice cream”.)

Do you guys usually have one cohesive meal? Or do you just piece together whatever sounds good? I pretty much just eat what I’m craving, regardless of how well it blends with everything else…

-LLV

Comments (7) »

BodyBugg- The Calorie Counters Dream

First of all, let me clarify, I’m NOT advocating that everyone start tracking every calorie. I think that loses the spirit of a healthy lifestyle. It’s not realistic, and it’s sometimes impossible. It can take the fun out of eating, and turn it into a chore. That said, let me introduce my friend, the BodyBugg.

If you’ve never heard of it, let me give a quick explaination of what it is. It’s a little band that you wear on your upper arm. It sort of looks like a pedometer. It tracks the calories you burn throughout the day. That’s right, not steps, not heart rate, but calories! It’s over 90% accurate, and let me tell you, it’s kind of fun! 🙂

I got it because I was curious! I usually have at least a general idea of how many calories I take in on average, but I had no clue what I was burning. I’m also really skeptical about the “calories burned” on cardio machines… So why not find out exactly what I’m burning? Plus, when you’re wearing it, you’re much more motivated to take the stairs!!

The BodyBugg comes with software, and when you plug it into your computer and upload your info, it will give you a little chart, detailing your calorie burn for the day. How cool is that? Let me tell you, it’s a little addicting!! My goal is to burn at least 2,000 calories a day! Even just a walk to the library becomes more fun when you’ve got goals in mind!

 

 

Ok, now on to some food!! I’ve seen so many amazing recipes for baked apples (Check out these great ones from  Angela, & Holly!!)  I was so inspired, that I had to try my own… but I was feeling a little lazy, so here you have it:

“Fake-Baked” Apples

  • 1 medium apple
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • sprinkle of cinnamon
  • sprinkle of nutmeg
  • 2 tbs granola (I like Galaxy Granola)

Slice the apple into really thin slices and coat thinly with brown sugar, cinnamon & nutmeg. Top with granola and pop it in the microwave for about 45 seconds. (I do it for 30, stir, and then do 15 more). It’s that simple, and it’s such a delicious way to get in a serving of fruit! This has been my new favorite breakfast/snack/dessert.

So what do you guys think about calorie counting? Are you for it or against it?

Comments (23) »

Fantastic *Fall* Foods!

Ok so I’ve been overwhelmed with all of these amazing fall recipes. I wish I had time to try them all!!! I’ve been on a pumpkin kick lately, but it was time to return to an old favorite, the butternut squash. Normally, I just slice it up and bake it for a super easy one ingredient (ok, 2 if you count salt) dinner… but I had half a squash in the fridge, and was in the mood to try something new.

Thankfully, I came across this lovely recipe for Butternut Squash Butter from Eat Live Run yesterday. Let me just say, this was FANTASTIC! I have to admit, I was a  little skeptical at first. Squash butter? But I had squash ready to be used, I happened to have all the other ingredients, so I thought, why not give it a try!

I roasted my squash:

And then threw it into the Vita-Mix with the rest of the ingredients

I’m always looking for an excuse to use my favorite kitchen appliance! (Thanks again, Mom & Dad!)

This turned out fantastic! My friend came over about an hour after I made this it went like this:

Me: “Sorry, my apartment still smells like squash, I made squash butter”
Him: “Squash butter? That sounds gross” (I leave the room, he opens the fridge. I return to the room, seeing him with my fresh jar of squash butter)
Him: “Wow…I was wrong… this smells REALLY good…”

Haha, you shouldn’t judge food by it’s name! It sounds funny, but this spread is my new favorite fall condiment! Thanks for the recipe, Jenna!

I enjoyed some of it on my toast this morning 🙂

What’s your favorite kind of *butter*? Apple butter? Nut butters? Squash butter?

-LLV

Comments (5) »

Kashi- You Make My Tummy Smile…

Who doesn’t love Kashi? Ok, sometimes I don’t love the price tag, but I love the food! I normally only eat the cereal or the crackers, because a lot of their products aren’t vegan. BUT, I decided to take a second look at their frozen food options, and as it turns out, a couple of their frozen dinners are vegan! I tried the Tuscan Veggie Bake, and I was not disappointed!

I love when the meal actually looks like the picture on the box.

Quick Stats: 260 Calories, 8g Fiber, 7g Protein. Normally, I’d like a little more protein in my lunch, but it does have 8g of filling fiber to keep me satisfied. And the calorie count is low enough that if you wanted to add some protein to your lunch, you could do it without breaking the calorie bank!

I’m always looking for a good lunch to slip into my laptop bag for work. Although the cafeterias at work usually have a vegan option… you never know what it will be. Sometimes I want to play it safe and pack my lunch!

Anyone have any new frozen find favorites? Heck, they don’t even have to be frozen. I know Katie just did a lovely review on Amy’s Chili (which I love) and Fab and Delicious Food just did an awesome review of Thomas’ Bagel Thins (which I also love) so let me know if you have any new food suggestions! I’m all ears 🙂

-LLV

Comments (9) »

Can Vegans Eat Animal Crackers?

Ok, so it’s not a serious question (although I suppose some animal crackers could have dairy in them…) but it was a question raised while munching on some delicious trail mix. Why trail mix? Oh, because I went camping!!

If you know me, you probably know that I’m not exactly the camping type, and this was actually my first camping adventure! It was only for one night, and I’m pleased to say it was quite a success! And in case I wasn’t already loving fall, there was some awesome leaf-changing action going on…

Other than a brief “Oh-my-gosh-what-was-that-noise-are-we-about-to-be-bear-food” moment in the middle of the night, (um, sorry Emily & Brett…) the camping was awesome! Lots of hiking and relaxing by the campfire. Oh, and my wonderful camping companions brought supplies for a vegan dinner!! We had a mix of rice, red beans, red pepper, and onions, all wrapped in a tortilla. YUM! Highly recommended. 🙂

Oh! And for the recipe I didn’t post last time! Although the Chocolate Espresso Cookies were a fail, these double chocolate chip cookies most certainly were not!

I was searching around for a chocolate cookie recipe, when I found this one on the Post Punk Kitchen’s blog. Vegan or not, there are tons of great recipes on this site!

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon whole flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup soymilk
  • 2 cups all purp flour
  • 3/4 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 F.

Grind the flax seeds on high in a blender until they become a powder. This turned out to be harder than I thought it would be. Even with my amazing Vita-Mix, I found it to be tricky. I’d recommend blending  a whole cup of flaxseeds, and then just measuring out what you need and saving the rest for later. The seem to blend better that way. Anyways, then add soymilk and blend for another 30 seconds or so. Set aside.
In a large bowl sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In a seperate large bowl cream together oil and sugar. Add the flax seed/soy milk mixture and mix well. Add the vanilla.

Fold in the dry ingredients in batches. When it starts to get too stiff to mix with a spatula, use your hands until a nice stiff dough forms. Add the chocolate chips and mix with your hands again.

Roll dough into 1 inch balls and flatten into a disc that’s about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet about an inch apart.

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes, then set them on a wire rack to cool completely.

This was my first time using flaxseeds as an egg replacer, and it went MUCH better than using the Ener-g egg stuff in that last recipe…Have you guys ever tried using flaxseeds as an egg replacer?

These were chewy and soft, and they didn’t spread all weird like those other cookies. I’m happy to report another success!

On my camping trip, I started reading the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. So far it’s interesting, and when I finish, I’ll give a full review! Any other interesting books you guys recommend?

-LLV

Comments (10) »

A New Fall Recipe!

I’ve been in a baking mood lately, so I tried out a couple of new recipes. The first is perfect for fall! Here’s what I used:

Gingerbread Cookies

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup + 1 Tablespoon margarine (I use Earth Balance)
  • ¼ cup + 1 Tablespoon pumpkin
  • ¾ cup molasses
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon nutmeg

1)Preheat oven to 350F (177C).  In a medium size bowl whisk together the all-purpose flour and baking soda.  Set aside.

2) In another medium size bowl mix together the sugar, margarine, pumpkin purée, molasses, ginger powder, salt, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg

3)Pour half of the flour into the bowl containing the wet ingredients and mix with a spoon until well incorporated.  Pour the other half of the flour and mix with with a spoon until well incorporated.  It’s normal for the dough to feel really thick at this point and you may have to mix with your hands.

 

4) Roll into balls, and flatten slightly, since these cookies don’t really spread much! Bake for about 15 minutes. Let them cool, and then enjoy!

 

As you can see, when you shape them with your hand, your hands get a bit sticky! 🙂

 

For my next recipe, I used flaxseeds as an egg replacer… but I’ll save that for my next post! Hope you’re all enjoying the weekend!

 

-LLV

Comments (4) »