Caturday and Kit Kats

Last few days of Vegan Mofo! I am bringing you Caturday a day late, but not without lots of purrs and chocolate to make up for it.

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Here we have Mystery, of My Apologies for the Novel fame, posed here for Caturday. Mystery likes boxes, cuddling, and curling up in blankets and with her bear. Thanks for being so cute, Mystery.

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I also made some gluten-free vegan Kit Kats of sorts. I added almond butter to them because crunch + nut butter + chocolate = delicious.  They were sort of messy but very tasty. I used the general idea from Forks and Beans, but instead of Rice Chex I used Barbara’s Gluten-free Puffins (the Trader Joe’s multigrain are labeled gluten-free) and the nut butter instead of her chocolate middle. I didn’t bother to dip the sides back in chocolate either because I ran out of chocolate. Quelle horreur!

My abbreviated version of Kit Kats (gluten-free, vegan):

So, it’s chocolate, melted down (of make your own sugar-free chocolate), then add to a parchment-lined pan. Line up pieces of cereal. Freeze a few minutes. Then drizzle peanut butter or almond butter onto the cereal. You will need a more runny sort of nut butter. Then drizzle more chocolate on top. Freeze a bit more but not entirely, maybe 5 minutes. Then cut into slices, and then you freeze all the way.

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Sorry to the person I said I would give one too. We ate them all! Guess I’ll have to make another batch.

Brunch at Organic Garden

Organic Garden is a little cafe outside Boston In Beverly, Massachusetts. It’s all vegan and mostly gluten-free. They have a lot of raw foods, which are naturally gluten-free since there are no grains typically used in raw cuisine, instead it contains nuts and seeds and fruits and veggies.

We decided to go for brunch on the way out of town. It was a nice day so we sat outside.

I got the raw bagel, which I’d had before. It’s not like a regular wheat bagel, but it’s much healthier, packed with seedy goodness. The base is buckwheat, which is not wheat, but a type of seed. It’s chewy like bread but denser.  NOTE: Be sure to not have them toast the bagel if you are very sensitive to gluten because the toaster at this point is shared with wheat bagels. Our server said they are working on changing that.

raw bagel organic garden

I asked for their regular cashew cream “cheese” which is a tangy spread made from cashews. It’s a great compliment to the bagel. If you are missing cream cheese, but avoid the fake ones due to the processed ingredients, this is for you.

My husband got a peach coffee cake, and I tasted a bite (Ok maybe two). it was delicious but very sugary! They have a lot of raw and sugar-free desserts, but a few traditional vegan baked goods, some gluten-free. There’s a lot of options in the dessert case.

organic garden peach coffee cake

We also shared a smoothie that had young coconut and strawberries. We had to request no banana, to make it less sweet. (I also can’t seem to tolerate bananas since I went off them for the anti-candida diet.) Sorry I forgot to take a picture until we were almost done.

strawberry coconut smoothie

Overall, a great restaurant. They had brunch specials they had like an egg-free omelette. There’s tons of choice for gluten-free and vegan here: smoothies, juices, baked goods, raw treats, bagels, and more. Plus the whole lunch menu. Definitely worth the trip!

Vegan Cuts Beauty Box: September

The 21st day of the month has become one of my favorites: it’s when my Vegan Cuts Beauty Box comes. I’ve been a subscriber to the Beauty Box since it’s start a few months ago. I’ve really enjoyed the fun surprises it’s brought. I am not a huge makeup person, so it’s slowly exposed me to a few new things. I especially love the offerings of lip glosses and soaps.

As with any surprise subscription box, since it’s an assortment of surprises, some may work for you and some may not. This month, most things hit the mark for me.

Beauty without Cruelty: Rosemary, mint, tea tree hair & scalp treatment. This smells great and it’s just the type of ingredients I look for in shampoo. I usually use a tea tree based shampoo. I’m excited to give this one a try.

Manic Panic Collection: Creature of the Night eye shadow and liner in raven. I tried some today, and decided the shadow is a little much for me but I like it as an eyeliner.

Weleda: Body Lotions–4 kinds: Wild Rose Pampering Body Lotion, Citrus Hydrating Body Lotion, Pomegranate Regnerating Body Lotion, Sea Buckthorn Replenishing Body Lotion. I love lotion, especially ones that smell good. And winter is coming and my skin craves moisture in the winter. The Wild Rose smells the best to me so far. I love getting several types of product from one company to test too.

Weleda: Citrus Refreshing Body oil. I got into using body oil when I lived in a warmer climate. I found it doesn’t give my skin a greasy feeling and doesn’t slip off so much when I sweat. Looking forward to trying this.

Good Clean Love: Almost Naked Personal Lubricant. Always good to have some on hand!

Fanciful Fox: Asian Elephant Old Fashioned Hand Crafted Soap with dead sea mud grains. Ooh mud. I like mud masks but sometimes forget to do them. I like the idea of putting mud into soap and using it daily. Mud helps draw out toxins, something those of us with illness need to do often. I’ve liked everything from Fanciful Fox so far, including this soap. It’s got a great scent, felt great on my skin, and cleaned well.

There was also a coupon code for GladRags, which I’ve used before. They are eco-friendly feminine supplies.

So nice to be restocked on some new cruelty-free vegan natural beauty products. Great for my conscience, my skin, and fun to use.

What are some of your favorite natural products?

Disclaimer: All products were purchased with my own funds. Opinions are mine.

Muffin Monday

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Oh how wonderful it would be if every Monday was Muffin Monday! I’ve always been a fan of muffins, I mean, who isn’t? I try to make them healthier by reducing the sugar and of course they need to be vegan and gluten-free. I ran across this recipe at Healthy Blender Recipes (no blender needed on this one). So delicious! One of my issues with gluten-free muffins is that they can get dry the next day, or be way to crumbly, and these held together nicely considering no xanthan gum and were nice and soft the next day.

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ADJUSTMENTS:  Since this was already vegan and gluten-free, I only had to modify the sugar. I used a combination of xylitol and coconut sugar, my latest favorite combination because too much xylitol can make the baked good too moist or soft, and too much coconut sugar can make the baked good too runny in the batter (perhaps there’s something else I need to adjust), not to mention just makes the glycemic load too high.

I also decided to add an oat crumble on top because I love that on my muffins. I wasn’t too precise, I used about a half cup of plain GF oats, a spoonful of coconut oil, cinnamon, and a bit of vanilla stevia, mixed, then added it on top.

And I didn’t have chocolate chips so I added raisins instead. You will rarely see me reduce the chocolate content of a recipe.

The oil content is a little high in this recipe for me, but that’s probably why it has such a good texture! I might try subbing half of it out with applesauce next time, and see how that goes. I try not to make too many adjustments to recipes or I could end up with a mess on my hands and I dislike wasting ingredients!

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I also tried this almond milk cultured yogurt to give me a little more protein for breakfast. My husband had warned me it might be too almond-y tasting plain, so I added some blueberries thawed from the freezer, a drop or two of vanilla stevia, and some cocoa nibs. It was rather tangy but I liked it. Although I do prefer their coconut yogurt better, especially the thicker or “greek” one. Who wouldn’t prefer coconut?

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Have a good start to your week.

Caturday with Goblin

Happy Caturday! Mine was spent catching up with extended family and stocking up on food at Trader Joe’s. Now I’m heating my sore muscles and getting ready to watch Scandal the minute I press publish.

Today we feature Goblin, the “semi-feral farm cat” who is 12 years old, cuddly and likes to hunt. Here she is with one of her humans.

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Goblin, here with charcoal pencil. This is probably my first time using charcoal in 15 years so be nice.

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Goblin crop

Isn’t she adorable? Thanks for participating, Goblin!

If you would like to volunteer your cat (with purred permission of course) for Caturday, please leave a comment and I will put your kitty on the schedule.

Fomu vegan avocado ice cream

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I braved the road today, partly because I was due to have a doctor’s appointment near Boston, but it got canceled. At that point we had already planned some things that were special to Boston, because planning fun stuff in Boston helps me get through the agony of the ride (hip pain!) and doctor’s stuff. We decided to go anyhow. And ice cream awaited!

I’ve been to Fomu in Allston three times now and each time I’m getting braver with flavors. The first few times I tried many flavors but ended up settling on chocolate then strawberry. This time, I remember the avocado being really good, even creamier than the other flavors. It’s a coconut base, but in general slightly less creamy than say, Coconut Bliss or So Delicious. And the caramel and strawberry were a little too sweet for me. I don’t eat much agave, even if it’s less sweet than sugar, it’s still pretty sweet. The avocado ice cream was perfect in its sweetness. My husband and I were trying to think of how to describe the flavor. It doesn’t taste like guacamole if that’s what you are afraid of. It was like a hint of vanilla with some lime zest, but not very tangy at all, and some avocado flavor, but it mixed very well with the other sweet flavors. A tiny bit like key lime pie, but in a subtler way. Very unique, special, and worth driving a few hours for.

We also got regular dinner at Grasshopper, which is all vegan Asian restaurant is down the street. I got the snowpeas and fake shrimp. They look a lot like shrimp but they have the texture of a vegetable. Image

I love Grasshopper food. It’s got a delicious sauce. We also got chowfun rice noodles with tofu but my husband mostly ate it.

Time for me to tuck into bed now with a full non-dairy ice cream belly. Sweet dreams everyone! I’ll be back with Caturday tomorrow.

Coconut Oil Chocolate (sugar-free, stevia-sweetened)

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One of the hardest things about having candida was giving up chocolate. I was a big chocolate person before that, although I did give it up for awhile when I was in the throws of my first heartburn crisis.

However, on the anti-candida diet plan, coconut oil was an option, even required, with a suggested intake of a few tablespoons a day. That’s kinda icky if you try to do it on your spoon and down the hatch. Why not have fun while you eat your coconut oil? I had to find a way to make it palatable: so enter coconut oil chocolate.

But why coconut oil? It’s an antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial. It goes it also processed by the liver and bypasses needing much of the gallbladder. It’s got all kinds of good fats in it. Don’t be afraid. Even after my gallbladder removal, I was able to have a bit of coconut oil, slowly increasing until I am back up to medicinal levels.

The best kind of stevia for this is NuNaturals. Otherwise the chocolate will still have a bit of bitterness to it. The coconut oil also helps take away some of the edge of the cocoa’s bittnerness. I have a few other tricks up my sleeve with that but for now I’ll stick to my basic recipe.

Basic Coconut Oil Sugar-free chocolate

(makes one “bar” or 4-6 cups)

ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (use virgin and unprocessed)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon plain alcohol free stevia drops, NuNaturals brand (other brands will work but it might still be bitter)
  • pinch salt as desired
  • add-ins: raisins, crumbled up rice cakes, nuts, cocoa nibs

Mix coconut oil and cocoa together and add stevia. Taste and adjust with more stevia if needed. A little stevia goes a long way though. You don’t want it to be overly sweet. Add a pinch of salt and add-ins as desired. Crumbled rice cakes make like a Nestle Crunch Bar texture (pictured above). I also like raisins if you are able as it adds a bit more sweetness. Nuts are always good.

Place the mixture into a vessel. Here are some options: silicon muffin tins, silicone ice molds, a glass square container, a metal container lined with wax paper, parchment, or plastic wrap.

Freeze until solid, 20 min-30 hr.

Store in the freezer or refrigerator. They will melt a little since coconut oil has a low melting point. Bring napkins to the chocolate-fest.

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September Vegan Package Swap

Lucky me! Today I got my vegan package from Vegan Package Swap! I decided to sign up this month to reward myself for blogging for mofo. I am nice to myself, huh? Anyhow, I got matched up with someone and we exchanged a bit of info and here’s my loot! I decided to stick with only US for cost sake but I think it would be fun to do an international one so I’ll keep that in mind for the future.

My swap partner understood that I was gluten-free which I so appreciated!

Here’s a list of the goodies:

  • “That’s It” bars: I tried the mango one and it was delicious! I don’t eat too much dried fruit so it’s a big treat to me when I do.
  • Sea Tangle Snacks: I haven’t dug into these yet but I do like sea veggies so I’m looking forward to these.
  • Go Raw Carrot cookies: I love these! I’ve had a lot of these gluten-free raw cookies in the past and they are always yummy. I love that they are naturally sweetened with just dates and no agave or sugar.
  • Artisana nut butters: I love these! I’m going to be traveling this weekend so I’m looking forward to spreading these on an apple or rice cake on the go.
  • Bombay Spice Crunchy Chickpeas: These are so yummy! I was skeptical but I dug in and they are delicious!
  • Tapaz to go: Sadly these have whey so not vegan. I am pretty strict vegan so I’ll pass these along to a friend.
  • Oolong Tea: one of my favorite kinds
  • One with nature soap: smells so good!
  • Compassionate Living magazine: I love ethical reading material.
  • Homemade Lip gloss: wow I feel so special.
  • Lotus Moon Lotion: This will be great for travel.

Lucky me, huh? I also snapped a pic of what I mailed but in case she hasn’t gotten it yet I want to make sure it’s still a surprise. Thank you swap mate!

To sign up yourself, go to All About Vegan Food.

MoFo childhood fave: PB and J on toast

Lots of vegan bloggers this mofo are doing a nostalgia or nosh-talgia theme, taking favorite foods and veganizing them. I can’t say I had that in mind today when I made breakfast this morning but then I realized this has always been one of my favorite foods: peanut butter and jelly, or more specifically peanut butter and strawberry jam.

I never was much for meat sandwiches, I mean if forced I guess I ate them from time to time but there were far more types I dislike than liked. So the old trusty PB and J came to my rescue many a childhood lunchtime (and the occasional dinner). My grandfather got me into peanut butter and jelly on toast, and that really elevated the sandwich for me. I decided I liked whole grain bread with seeds on top and grains visible. That is, until gluten struck me down.

This bread is not your typical bread, it’s a dense, chewy, nutty, seedy, cinnamon-y bread, that’s not trying to be anything but itself. Its good for you but also tasty. It’s called “The Life Changing Bread.” Although I am not sure how much it’s changed my life, but I do have a good vehicle for PB and J. And it toasts well.

I whipped up a strawberry jam my easy-peasy way but just pouring a frozen fruit bag into a stove pot, adding a half inch water, then simmering until it all melts down and the water boils off. Then I add stevia because I’m all sugar-free like that (candida take that!) and then even some chia seeds to keep it together if I have any around. Boy those little buggers are getting expensive.

So I enjoyed. And I have another load waiting. And it was a crappy day and maybe tonight I will need another slice.

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Time for a mofo writing prompt! Thanks to the bloggers at Vida Vegan Con for coming up with these! We love you.

PROMPT: Five kitchen utensils or gadgets you cannot live without.

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1) Ceramic knife

I really rarely use a metal one anymore. Multiple reasons: it’s much lighter and lyme makes my hand hurt and muscles weaker. It’s sharper too. It’s supposed to keep veggies and fruit fresher. Just don’t drop it on the floor. I did that once. It breaks.

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2) Pizza Slicer

I don’t make pizza that much (maybe once a month) but when I do it’s so handy to have this. I know because I was without it when I was staying with someone else and it was much harder to cut the gluten-free pizza.

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3) Tea strainer

I love my tea strainer. I get bulk teas and make my own tea out of herbs and barks and twigs and stuff tso this is very handy. It doesn’t let any leaves through like other teas. I get so frustrated with those ones that explode on you. No one wants to eat bark, just steep it.

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4) Silpat

I got one of these after seeing it on some other blogs. It’s really changed how I bake/cook. It eliminates the need for parchment paper. And nothing sticks to it. No more burned mess to scrape off. If you hate cleaning baking pans and feel wasteful using so much parchment paper, this is for you.

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5) Silicon muffins cups

These are great for muffins, but also are versatile for other things. Last post I used them in a bento-like way to keep the sauce separate for the summer rolls. I will often use them in  that way, pack a few with little things in a larger lunch container. They made great molds for chocolate (I like to make my own stevia-sweetened.) and nut butter cups. And sometimes I even use them to help me organize a small fistful of vitamins I might have to down.

Pizza and green beans: brought to you with the help of the ceramic knife (to cut the veggies on the pizza and the beans), the silpat (crust was baked on it), and pizza knife (to cut it, duh).

more pizza please