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Chocolate Easter Egg Date Balls!

Happy (almost) Easter everyone! We started thinking about what we could do to celebrate Easter with a fun sweet treat – only sans the uber refined sugar. We each love date balls and thought it would be cute to roll them into Easter egg shapes instead of round balls. So that’s what we did! I made these around Christmas this past year (only instead of shredded coconut coating them it was powdered sugar–eek major headache!) and everyone loved them. They taste more like brownie bites actually than dates. They’re so easy to make too!

dateballs

Chocolate Easter Egg Date Balls

Ingredients:

1 cup roasted unsalted whole almonds

2/3 cup cocoa powder (or raw cacao powder)

15 pitted dates

1 tbs raw agave nectar or honey

3 tbs water (you may need to add more)

coconut flakes for coating them

Directions:

Process nuts in high speed blender until ground up. Add everything else except coconut flakes. Add water as needed until it is a good consistency to mold into balls (or egg shapes in this Easter-y case).Make balls using about 1 tbs worth of mix. Roll in coconut flakes and eat up!

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Bonnie: A Veggie Tale

We would like to introduce you to our cousin, Bonnie. She is one of the many veggies in our family.

bon-jenn-kel

(Bonnie, Jenn, Kelli)

When Bonnie was 12, she decided to give up eating animals.  Then, years later, she decided it was also the right decision for herself to give up dairy and eggs.  We each have a unique story to tell when it comes to our journey as vegetarians and now, as vegans. So we wanted to include Bonnie’s story on our blog because she has been living this lifestyle for many years now (she is now 27)-and, not to mention, she makes some damn good food that we both appreciate!

Every Thanksgiving, Bonnie shows up with this incredible dark chocolate cranberry cake that she makes. It is decadent, rich and beautiful and we look forward to it every year! We asked her to share the recipe with us for this blog post. We also thought it would be fun to ask her some questions, so you guys can get to know her better! So, here she is with her recipe and answers!

photo(20)

Bonnie:

To be honest, this cake recipe changes every year! A few requirements: CHOCOLATE, layered, icing, filling, and topped with homemade candied cranberries. Also, I somehow always incorporate liquor into it.

This year I based my cake off of a recipe from “Babycakes Covers the Classics” by Erin McKenna.

The actual cake I brought to Thanksgiving was born from the following recipe, “Six-Layer Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Preserves”

  • 1 ½ cups melted refined coconut oil or canola oil, plus more for brushing (I used coconut oil)
  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 ½ cups sorghum flour
  • 2 cups vegan sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • ½ cup arrowroot (I used cornstarch)
  • 2 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 ½ cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup agave nectar
  • ½ cup vanilla extract
  • 1 to 1½ cups hot water

Directions (sort of what I did) preheat over to about 300 degrees. line 3 large round pans with wax paper and brush with coconut oil. Mix the wet ingredients. Mix the dry ingredients (I use a sifter I found at goodwill). Mad the wet to the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly with an electric mixer. Divide the batter between the three pans. Put the pans in the oven. Cook for a while till you start to smell it. Take a look in the oven and see if its working. Increase the heat to 310. Let some time pass. Smells really good in the house! Put a sheet of aluminum foil on top of the cake pans and increase heat to 325. It’s gonna be about 20 more minutes from here. Use a
toothpick and if it comes out clean then you’re good to go. Let pans cool completely before removing. Place plate on top of pan. Invert and cake should come out. Trim the hump off of the top of the cakes so that you can layer them flat. Make a filling and icing. Layer the cranberry filling and icing between the layers. This year I used toothpicks to keep the layers from sliding off of each other. Top with rest of chocolate icing and pile the cranberries in the center and spread out to almost the edges. This cake is heavy!

Thank you Bonnie! Now we’d like to ask you some questions so that our readers can get to know you a little better!

Summarize your journey to eating and a plant-based diet and lifestyle. When did you begin, what sparked your interest, etc.

My first memory of rejecting meat was probably around age 10; I use the word rejecting because this was not premeditated. I was on a family vacation in Gatlinburg, Tn. My parents had rented a chalet in the mountains equipped with a kitchen. As usually, when my mom cooked us dinner it was the “well-rounded” meal with a starch (potatoes with cheese), vegetable (spinach or broccoli with cream sauce) and a protein (chicken with ketchup). This particular night I remember gobbling up my side items and jumping up from the table saying I was done! I was anxious to “swim” in the giant jacuzzi tub that I had to wait to fill up until AFTER dinner. My mom quickly urged me to finish my chicken, and within 30 seconds it was gone! Like I had seen my brother’s hamster do, I quickly stuffed my chicken into my cheeks, quietly walked to the garbage can, and disposed of my dinner meat. Tada! Mission accomplished- time to swim. Before the chicken incident in Gatlinburg, my mom would always have to “trick” me into eating my meat. For example, she would cut up a hamburger patty, melt atop a piece of American cheese, and plot a dollop of ketchup next to it. She had figured this was the best way to get me fed with the least amount of difficulty knowing that had I walked to the dinner table and saw a constructed two bun, patty with cheese hamburger, the odds were against her. About two years later, age 12, I had a burst of self awareness. I didn’t like meat! And, no one can make me eat it! January 15, 1999 was my last bite of fried chicken fingers at the late Joe’s crab shack at the New Orleans Lakefront. It was my friends 13th birthday and all of the girls were sitting around the table eating chicken fingers, french fries, and coke. In my mind I had a moment of clarity; no second thoughts. This was it. I told my mom I was a vegetarian the next day. This worried her because a childhood friend who had become a vegetarian soon after developed anorexia; in her mind the two words were linked together. Although at first she didn’t quite understand, she respected my decision and began modifying her recipes so that meat was served “on the side”, and vegetable dishes did not contain meat flavorings like so many southern vegetable recipes do. Weeks later Lent began, and I saw this as an opportunity to be more open with family and friends… “I gave up meat for lent” I would say with a soft smile. “I can’t eat that because I gave it up!” Awesome, I thought. This is working. Lent ended and I continued my story, “well, I gave it up for Lent and decided I don’t want it anymore.” I was “out”, and publicly being a vegetarian had its difficulties- people really had a problem with it. Every time I had dinner at a friend’s house or went to dinner with a group of people, IT came up. I always aspired to give up dairy and egg, but knew in my mind that this was something I had to be ready for. Cheese had became a meat replacement, and egg seemed to hiding in EVERYTHING. Around Mardi Gras 2007, it was time! I made my first vegan sliced tofurkey and cheeze sandwhich to pack in the cooler for the Endymion parade– not delicious. It’s time to learn how to cook. From there, my interest in eating veg took off. Recipe books, blogs, reading labels; I was on my own trying to navigate this new world and way of eating. Restaurants were a challenge. I learned my go-to places to eat where I knew I could order something “safe”. I quickly learned that my best chance of not having to send my food back was explicitly explaining to the server/manager that I had an ALLERGY. This only has about a 70% success rate.

What is your favorite vegan indulgence?

Ahhh, I love a piece of oreo cake from whole foods’ bakery. My mom usually buys a whole cake for my birthday. It’s fabulous. Right now my husband and I are loving Vegan Crab Cakes by Sophie’s Kitchen (freezer section of whole foods). We even eat these for breakfast!

What changes have you noticed since giving up meat, poultry, and dairy?

Other than not having traditional digestive problems from eating… I have such an appreciation for flavors! When food isn’t masked by butter or cream you can actually taste things in a way you never noticed before

What is your favorite vegan holiday dish?
My cranberry cake 😀

Do you have a favorite vegan cookbook and/or blog?

The first vegan blog that I started reading on the reg was Fat Free Vegan (here) . I also like Vegan Yum Yum (here). And, of course Sprout New Roots!

What is/was the biggest challenge for you in this lifestyle?

Not spending a fortune at Whole Foods.

What motivates you to continue to cook and eat plant-based foods?

My health, my love of quality food, and being true to myself. “I was born this way!” -Lady Gaga

What advice do you have for someone interested in trying veganism?

Vegan food just tastes better! Veg eating is a journey. Do what feels right for you. Take recipes you love and see how you can
use veg substitutions to eliminate animal products. Call ahead at a restaurant and ask questions about menu items. Cook from
scratch. Add veggies to everything! Make your own almond milk. Eat fruit. Small changes in your food choices can lead you in the
veg direction!

Thank you again, Bonnie!


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Tofu Pumpkin Pie

Don’t you guys just love pumpkin? Well, I really do! It just brings me right into Fall-making me think of family gatherings and good times. I’d been craving pumpkin pie since Halloween and figured I should have a go at making it. I found a few recipes online and decided to use one I found on VegWeb here.  I’ve made this pie 3 different times since Halloween. 2 for Jason and I to share at home, and 1 for an LSU football party at my mom and step-dad’s house-and Jenn made one in Memphis as well. Each time, I ate way more than I should have and I believe my sister said she did the same. But that’s the fun in the season, right? Pumpkin is only appropriate to eat during this time of year, so why not go all in?! 🙂 We plan on making 1 or 2 of these for our own veggie Thanksgiving next week! I hope you guys try this recipe! You won’t regret it. Plus, the ONLY bad ingredient in here is the sugar-which can be cut in half and still be deeeelicious if you ask our opinion. We each used pre-made whole wheat crusts-but we’d love to hear your suggestions for yummy homemade crusts that we could use to impress everyone next week!

Tofu Pumpkin Pie (copied from VegWeb)

1 (16-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar or sucanat OR 1/2 cup maple syrup
1 (10- to 12-ounce) package silken soft tofu (we actually used 1 package of firm Mori-Nu and it was great. Don’t use the low fat tofu, then the pie tastes like it was made with tofu.)
2 to 3 tablespoons cornstarch (to firm up the pie filling)
1 teaspoon ground allspice (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 (9-inch) unbaked vegan pie shell (we used organic whole wheat pre-made crusts for ours)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Blend the pumpkin and sugar. Thoroughly mix in tofu, cornstarch, and spices (allspice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and cloves).
3. Pour mixture into pie shell and bake for 15 minutes.
4. Lower heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for another 60 minutes. Chill and serve.

Preparation Time: 
about 1 hour + chilling time, Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 
1 hour 15 minutes
Servings:  8
Again, please feel free to share with us your own yummy homemade pie crust ideas!
We’d love to try it!


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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups! (V)

Since I made my homemade peanut butter yesterday, my brain has been consumed in peanut butteryness! And since Wednesday is Halloween, I thought it’d be fun to make a chocolate that I used to LOVE during Halloween-time before I gave up dairy-Reeses Peanut Butter cups! I know, I know…we’re “healthy” eaters and this amount of sugar is absurd. But every now and then, I think it’s good to indulge a little-at least until I officially give up my sugar addiction-which was getting better by the way until I made these tonight. Anyways, I had to share this with you guys because, while it still is sugar, it’s Halloween week and it’s at least free of animal products and the peanut butter is fresh and whole. Am I justifying myself enough here or what? Hah! Oh and in case you missed my Homemade Peanut Butter post-check it out here.

Ingredients:

(makes about 12-16 choc. pb cups)

  • Vegan dark chocolate chips
  • Peanut butter
  • Coconut Oil (optional)
  • Baking Cups

Directions:

First, cut the baking cups in half so that they are short sided. Place into your muffin tin. Then, melt half of the chocolate chips in a double boiler or very slowly in a small pot on the stove. Add in some coconut oil (not a lot at all) to make the chocolate more soupy. Pour the melted chocolate into the cups-covering the bottoms completely. Place the muffin tin into the freezer for about 10-15 minutes. Take it out and add some peanut butter on top of each hardened chocolate piece in the muffin cups. Place the tin back into the freezer for another 10 minutes. In the meantime, melt the rest of the package of chocolate. Take the muffin pan out and pour on top of the peanut butter then put into the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. You can skip this step if you want because there is definitely enough chocolate in each piece with the bottom slab of chocolate. Or if you do proceed to add the chocolate on top-it makes for a cleaner solid piece of candy-but be warned-this is A LOT of dark rich chocolate in each piece. One piece per person is more than enough due to its richness. I honestly recommend you don’t top them off with chocolate, or you pour 2 thin layers of chocolate for the top and bottom. I made them both ways to test it out.

Happy Halloween!!!


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Going Bananas Over Ice Cream!

So I know this is the oldest trick in the vegan book-but I had to post about it in case anyone hadn’t yet tried this- and maybe I’m reminding you of it! Or maybe you’ve never even heard of it.  Blended up frozen bananas=instant ice cream! Well, almost instant. If you don’t count the time it takes to freeze the bananas. Anywho, that’s it. Healthy home-made ice cream can be yours! You can simply just freeze bananas and blend! (you may need to add a little water or milk of your choice). Or you can get all fancy schmancy with it! Tonight I made a popular blend-It’s just simply good. Bananas, peanut butter, and cocoa powder. Done. Sold. I’m always in! And here’s how I do it.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Naner Ice Cream (2 servings)

1.5-2 frozen bananas

2-3 T cocoa powder

1 large T peanut butter of your choice

1/4 cup Water/Nut milk of your choice

1/2 a handful of almonds/nuts-if desired

Freeze your bananas. I usually keep frozen bananas in my freezer for my morning green smoothies-so if you do not, remember to freeze those naners tonight! Also, I usually cut mine up before freezing in a container. Once frozen, throw them into your blender. Add everything-except the water or nut milk. Blend. Check it out, move it around, add some liquid. Blend. Check it out-add liquid and blend to desired consistency. You may not even need all the water or milk. Pour in a bowl-enjoy!

Do any of you have a favorite banana ice cream concoction? Comment and let us know! We’d love to try it!

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Nola Veggie Fest & Surprise Cookie Dough Dip!

So I wanted to tell you guys about this past weekend. May 12 & 13 was NOLA Veggie Fest! Me, Jason, my sister Jenn, her boyfriend Chris, and our mom and step-dad all went on Saturday. It was heaven for us really. An entire building with booths full of veggie-related samples and treats and drinks! We each got a huge Peta bag as part of getting in and we filled them with pamphlets and coupons and samples. Not to mention each of us were walking around with both hands and arms filled with food we were tasting. So awesome! And everyone was so nice! One of the things that Jenn and I had on our must-do was to see Ellen Jaffe Jones speak (author of Eat Vegan on $4 a Day). And we did! We even met her and chatted for a bit before and after she spoke. She signed my book and it was just fabulous! She was great and even shared a photo of us with her and our blog on her Facebook page a few days ago! While we were talking to her she said something that always resonates with me when I hear it- and is so important. We were talking about how far along vegetarianism and veganism has come over the years and she mentioned how we each get 3 votes a day when it comes to our food. It’s so true. 11 or so years ago when Jenn and I first gave up meat, it was difficult to find anything on any menu that we could eat without having to alter it. And now today-pick almost any restaurant and you can find at least 2 or more vegetarian options right off the bat! Now, being vegan, we usually have to ask them to leave off cheese or cook vegetables without the butter, etc. But it’s coming. Restaurants are definitely familiar with what vegan means now and cater to it without hesitation-usually. And that’s how it happens-supply and demand. Ask for it and don’t be afraid.

Here’s the photo we took with Ellen:

Anywho, I also wanted to share a recipe with you guys. For Mother’s Day-which was a very lovely day might I add, my mom made the famous delicious Engine 2 Sweet Potato Lasagna for the family and I brought a little cookie dough dessert dip. Both were a hit! I saw this while perusing Chocolate-Covered Katie’s vegan dessert blog-which is amazing, check her out here. You would never even guess what was in this dip by tasting it!

Looks scrumptious, right? Well it totally is! Let’s do this!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

(here it is on her blog)

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1/8 tsp salt (I used sea salt)
  • tiny bit over 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 T of a nut butter. If you use peanut butter, it’ll have a very-slight “pb cookie dough” taste. Almond butter gives it a more neutral dough taste.
  • up to 1/4 cup soy or almond milk (Start with 1 T, and add more as needed)
  • Sweetener (see note below, for amount)-I used agave nectar and just added some and tasted until I was happy with it. You won’t need too much.
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips (I used Whole Foods’ Vegan Chocolate Chips)
  • 2 to 3 T  flaxmeal
  • Graham Crackers for dipping (Unless you’re a bee-gan, find some without Honey hehe)

Add all ingredients (except for chocolate chips) to a good food processor (not blender), and blend until very smooth. Then mix in the chocolate chips.

Sweetener Notes from Choc. Covered Katie: Sweetener Notes: I used 2/3 cup brown sugar when I first made this for the party. Liquid sweeteners (agave, maple, etc.) are fine as well, as is evaporated cane juice. You can easily get away with less sugar– some people will be perfectly fine with just 3 T for the whole recipe! And if you don’t want any sugar, be sure to check out the “no-sugar” version linked above. (You can also use stevia, if you like the taste of stevia-sweetened desserts. Try 2-3 packets of NuNaturals stevia, and add more sweetener if needed. I wouldn’t recommend serving an all-stevia version to party guests, though.)

*Also-as a side note from me-I have seen recipes similar to this where instead of sugar or agave nectar, they used dates to sweeten it up a bit. I’ll try that next time I grab some dates at the grocery.

Let me know if you guys try this!

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Chocolate Chia Pudding!

Ok so I feel like I have been hearing about chia seeds for the last year or so but I hadn’t tried them until recently. They have always intrigued me but I never splurged on them because usually it’s at least $10-$20 for a bag of them and I tend to be frugal…Nevertheless, I knew they came jam-packed with disease fighting nutrients and I am so happy to have finally bought a bag ($10 for a 15oz bag of Whole Foods’ 365 brand-well worth it!). They’re actually considered a Superfood due to their high nutrient content! They are full of both soluble and insoluble fiber and therefore help you to sustain energy and maintain fullness (and help you to become, digestively-speaking, “regular” -but I’ll save that glorious topic for another post :)~). They also help to balance out your blood sugar and induce weight loss. “Chia” happens to be the word for “strength” in the Mayan language. According to Brendan Frazier’s book, “Thrive”, “Aztec warriors were rumored to eat chia before going into battle to give them a nutritional boost and thereby improve their endurance. They were also said to have carried it with them when they ran long distances to be used as their body’s primary food source.”(Thrive, pg. 123).  One really cool thing about these seeds is the versatility in which you can use them. I’ve thrown them into our salads and home-made veggie burgers and even my no-tuna salad sandwich that I made this week (https://sproutnewroots.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/fish-are-friends-not-food/). They can be used as an egg substitute in baking as well. Seriously, guys-Google this teeny tiny power-packed seed and sneak it into your everyday meals!

Here are a few little nutritional facts about this powerful little seed:

-Chia contains 2x the amount of protein in any other seed or grain

-5x the calcium of milk, plus boron which is a trace mineral that helps transfer calcium into your bones

-2x the amount of potassium in bananas

-3x the antioxidant strength of blueberries

-3x more iron than spinach

-copius amounts of Omega 3 and Omega 6

I actually started eating chia seeds as my breakfast at work. I take about 1 tablespoon of them and mix it into either a glass of almond or soy milk or water. You have to mix it up really well -every 5 minutes or so-over a period of 20-30 minutes so that the seeds don’t clump up. Once they sit in liquid for that long, they form a gel-like texture (think tapioca pudding) and you eat/drink it! They have such a mild taste too so you really don’t notice anything but the texture and a slight little crunch-which i love for some reason.

Anywho, while I have been altering my diet over the last year, I have gradually phased out my needing to have something sweet after EVERY meal. Yea-talk about sugar addiction-not pretty. Now I reserve dessert as an occasional treat, and when I do partake in it, it’s usually savory and rich and I try not to overindulge. I’d rather a small bit of something rich and amazing than a ton of something that’s super sweet-which brings me to this Chocolate Chia Pudding post! This stuff is amazing, guys! And it isn’t too sweet-but rather it’s rich with cocoa flavor! So far I’ve made individual tea-cup sized servings of this for Jason and I. It’s his new favorite thing I make by the way. He’s a little obsessed. 🙂

Chocolate Chia Pudding  (1 individual tea-cup sized serving)

4-8 ounces of almond milk (or soy or whatever plant-based milk you prefer-vanilla flavored ones add extra sweetness)

2 Tablespoons of chia seeds

1.5-2 tablespoons of cocoa powder (you can use carob powder or cacao)

1 teaspoon raw agave nectar (or honey)

Toppings of your choice (I have used vegan chocolate chips and also strawberries)

Mix the seeds and liquid really well with a fork so that every seed gets wet. Add in the cocoa powder and agave nectar and mix. The cocoa powder tends to be a pain to mix in as it stays dry until you really get it going. Don’t give up though-it’ll take! Put in the fridge for about 20 minutes or longer (you can even leave it overnight). Over the course of the first 30 minutes, go re-stir the mixture a few times. Then, eat up when you’re ready!

How do y’all like to eat chia seeds? Do share 🙂

 

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