Sunday, July 31, 2011


We all love those smoothie places, right? Why is it that at home we can’t match the flavors? I found 3 reasons.

1.              I don’t use ice cream in fruit smoothies
2.              I was using ice.
3.              My blender was crap and I have bit of floating ice and fruit.

The last problem I fixed a few summers ago when I was at the county fair and I learned about the Vitamix. I went home did a ton of research. That week I received the best commission paycheck I’d ever had, so I decided to splurge. My smoothies instantly got better but were still watery. As result of the Vitamix cookbook I started using a lot of frozen fruit instead of ice. Yum!

What I started recently was actually a result of ready “The Sneaky Chef.” The book suggests blending up fruits and vegetables ahead of time and adding them to recipes for added nutrition. What I soon found was that these purees made fabulous instant smoothies! A few fruit/veggies cubes and some juice and the perfect smoothie in seconds.

It’s really easy and takes very little time. Here’s what you do:

Gather a bunch of fruits and vegetables. You can use fresh or frozen. If you want to use fresh, this is the perfect thing to do when the produce starts getting a little soft and right before they go bad. I like mixing fruits and veggies in every puree.

I’m starting with kale and blueberries. I added about ½ a cup of pomegranate juice to a package of blueberries and a small bunch of kale in the blender. Puree until smooth. I then fill up 2 ice cube trays with the puree and freeze. After pop them out and save in a big ziplock bag.

The next puree I did today was 1 package of strawberries, one package of raspberries, five whole carrots, the juice of half a lemon, and ½ a cup pomegranate juice.

The last thing I do on smoothie prep day was chop up all my browning bananas and put them in another ziplock bag.

Other combinations I love:
Strawberries, fresh beets, and raspberries
Carrots, sweet potatoes, and bananas
Spinach, blackberries, and lemon

This makes smoothie making so easy in the morning. You can grab a few “cubes” and just add some juice or almond milk. If it’s thin enough to drink through a straw go for it, and if it is super thick it’s great with a little granola on top.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Anna Mae’s Power Cookies

Anna Mae is my friend. She’s vegan and watching her on some camping and other adventures, I realized that being vegan doesn’t mean just salads if you're out and about. Last time I saw her we went to the Lotus Festival- I went searching to buy some vegan treats and she busted out these vegan and gluten free “cookies.” She made them very simple but let me know she jazzes them up for her boyfriend.

The idea of chickpeas, applesauce, and oatmeal instead of flour, butter, and sugar sounds weird- but trust me it’s great. If you don’t like the taste of chickpeas I highly suggest adding a tablespoon of peanut or almond butter. It doesn’t overwhelm the recipe, but it kind of cancels out the bean-y taste.

If you are allergic to gluten or are avoiding gluten completely, make sure you get gluten free oats! I bought a giant thing of Quaker Oats a few months ago at Costco, and although I’m avoiding white flour and a lot of gluten- I’m also try to be resourceful and I refuse to waste the food!

My favorite version of this recipe is the basic recipe + agave, vanilla, cinnamon, almond, butter, mashed banana, vegan chocolate chips, raisins, and chopped walnuts. I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting though, zucchini and carrots- I’ll let you know if I have a breakthrough in deliciousness!

These cookies are a perfect replacement for protein bars. I take these everywhere now! Work, the zoo, amusement parks, and the movies. Hope you enjoy them!

Anna Mae’s Power Cookies

Basic Recipe:

2 cans of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
1 cup of applesauce
1 cup of oatmeal
2 tbsp of oil
2 tsp of baking powder
2 tsp of baking soda
Any amount of optional ingredients*

1.              Preheat oven to 350, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2.              Blend chickpeas and applesauce in blender until smooth.
3.              Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until combined.
4.              Spoon onto cookie sheet in heaping tablespoons and bake for 30-35 minutes.

* Optional Ingredients:
1 tbsp of agave
2 tsp vanilla
Sprinkle of cinnamon
2 tbsp of almond or peanut butter
1 mashed banana
½ cup vegan chocolate chips
½ cup raisins
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup chopped nuts
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sweet Potato and Banana Pizza

 Okay- so you’re probably thinking: “Sweet potato on a pizza????” OR “Banana on a pizza????” OR “Sweet potatoes and bananas?” Or you might be thinking all three things. Trust me this is delicious.

Remember that show Doug? I remember an episode where there was a cooking contest, someone made pizza, someone made banana pudding, and somehow the pudding ended up on the pizza but it was great. The next time my sister and I ate a pizza we sliced up banana. I remember I LOVED it. But I stopped- I must have rediscovered pineapple and jalapenos. 

Anyway, the night I came up with this recipe- Brian and I were trying to decide what to do for dinner. We had kale, sweet potatoes, and bananas. (We also made this pizza with the kale) Brian casually mentioned he had had banana pizza in Sweden and something triggered. Suddenly the idea of sweet potatoes and bananas sounded so good- on pizza. I was hesitant putting the sauce and cheese on, but I figured why not.
The result was in my opinion successful. Hope you enjoy too!

Sweet Potato and Banana Pizza

1 8” pizza crust
1 banana (thinly sliced)
1 sweet potato (shredded)
¾ cup tomato sauce (more or less to your liking)
¼ cup of shredded vegan pepper jack (or more)
Coconut oil

1.              Preheat oven to 425 or whatever your crust suggests.
2.              Put a little oil in a skillet on medium heat.
3.              Add the shredded sweet potato and a few shakes of cinnamon. Sauté for a few minutes until it is soft.
4.              Spread the sauce over the pizza crust.
5.              Transfer the sweet potatoes on top of the sauce.
6.              Sprinkle the cheese over the sweet potatoes.
7.              Arrange the bananas over everything and sprinkle a little more cinnamon on top.
8.              Bake for about 12 minutes, until cheese has melted.
9.              Let cool for a few minutes, slice up and enjoy! 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Be prepared

Be prepared is a fabulous motto, no wonder the Girl Scouts borrowed it from the Boy Scouts. It’s especially important for anyone with a restricted diet. I’ve known this, but last Sunday when I went sailing with my family- I should have better prepared myself.

We were out celebrating Brian’s dad’s birthday and everyone contributed to lunch, there was a fabulous spread of fruit, crackers, breads, cheeses, meats, and cupcakes.... I didn’t want to be a burden, so I made some vegan-gluten free corndogs, grabbed a few carrots, and a bar of vegan chocolate. I was proud of myself, and we ventured off.

Well, they ripped into some of those crackers right away; it was a little difficult not to join in. I used to be so obsessed with Wheat Thins and Cheez-its. I was doing fine- until I got a whiff of the Cheez-its. I immediately grabbed a carrot and started munching. We continued our 14-mile sail towards the islands.

Once we arrived and anchored, everyone started pulling out the cheese and breads, and my heart practically skipped a beat. It wouldn’t hurt to eat just a few bites, right?? Less than 2 months ago, I would have considered this paired with grapes a perfect meal. I again rushed down to the galley and started heating up my corn dogs. By the time I returned, I was feeling a little better, I hadn’t cheated yet and now I had real food to eat. I shared the corn dogs, and everyone seemed to like them, which was pretty cool.

When it came time to sing happy birthday and eat cupcakes, I was armed with my vegan chocolate to not feel deprived. That’s when my mom oh so rudely told me she frosted the cupcakes with Nutella! Nutella was one of my favorite spreads before this adventure started, and I found it cruel that she would do this to me. Haha- anyway I was satisfied with my vegan, sugar-free chocolate- and I thought I had made it through the day completely scot-free.

But on the way home, people were still snacking on the bread, cheeses, and crackers. Suddenly my stomach was grumbling and I had run out of snacks! I knew we were only about an hour away, but with the drive home I was feeling very tempted by all the dairy, gluten and sugar. Luckily Brian agreed that as soon as we got back we could go to a sushi restaurant and get me miso soup and avocado rolls. That held me over just enough to get through the rest of the sail without eating all the provolone.

If I could go back, I would have brought kale, corn tortillas, beans, cookies, or anything else more filling than corn dogs and a bar of chocolate! But I was very proud of myself for not cheating this time.

Lucky for me- tomorrow I’m going to Universal Studios and Wednesday I’m going to the Santa Barbara Zoo, so I’ll have a chance try again with being prepared for a day!!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Gluten Free Corn Pancakes with Beans and Kale

This breakfast was another “what do I have in my kitchen” recipe. It was a Sunday and I thought I wanted something brunch-y and I still wanted to feel good after. This was the perfect strange combination for me.

For the Beans and Kale- you could use any kind of beans. I was planning on black beans and I apparently ran out. After a quick search I discovered a can of white beans I forgot about. Yum! Since the beans were salted- I soaked and rinsed them a few times, and found I didn’t need any added salt at all. After deciding to just add a little pepper, I was particularly please when Brian asked what I seasoned them with because they were so good. I occasionally need to remind myself that sometimes simple is better!

Gluten Free Corn Pancakes
1-½ cups of masa
½ cup corn meal
2 cups boil water
¼ coconut oil (My favorite but you can use any kind)
Egg replacer for 2 eggs
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ agave nectar

1.     Boil the water
2.     Mix masa and corn meal
3.     Add water to masa mixture and stir just until combined
4.     Add other ingredients stir gently.
5.     Cook like pancakes, I melt a little more coconut oil in a pan and fry them up.
6.     Add more agave like syrup for eating!

White Beans and Kale

1 Can of White Beans
3 Leafs of Black Kale (torn up into bite size pieces)
Olive Oil

1.              If the beans have salt added, rinse them really well. Heck- even soak them for a few minutes. Drain them and put them in a pot on medium heat.
2.              After a few minutes add a little oil and the kale.
3.              Sautee until kale has softened in texture.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sick Day

Ugh. Woke up the other morning super nauseas! Now this is when I would used to pound some ginger ale and pepto bismol but now that I’m cutting down on added sugar- I thought I’d try a new approach.

Cranberry Kombucha Tea
I started with Kombucha because it is carbonated and figured it would do that thing that makes grandparents force-feed you 7-up when you don’t feel well. The kombucha tea I drank has only 3g of sugar for 8 fluid ounces. It also has folic acid, tons of B vitamins, and a ton of live cultures. Now what about 7-up? Not only almost eight times as much sugar but three times as many calories and carbs.

Miso Soup
I chose to eat miso soup instead of chicken noodle- because... come on, I haven’t eaten chicken noodle since I was nine. I just discovered miso soup recently- and let me say YUM. The tofu and bean curd gave me protein and helped me feel full without feeling gross or icky. For a little extra filling feeling I add some cooked rice. (Working on my recipe- check back soon!)

Blackberry Hibiscus Mama Chia
I’m working on a whole piece on why chia seeds are amazing. But in a nutshell, the protein, omega-3s, antioxidants, fiber, and calcium make me feel great and the texture is super fun! Here is Mama Chia’s article on chia to hold you over till I finish mine.

Anyway, after all of this, some rest, and some brown rice cakes I felt a lot better. What do you guys do when you have a sick day?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Kale Chip Recipe

Tortilla chips are my weakness. Hah, who am I kidding? One of my many weaknesses. But I love the crunchiness and yum. This kale chip recipe is not a replacement for my beloved chips, but it will sometimes make that craving go away. It’s nice to know there are vegetables that can taste enough like junk food to get that craving to go away without leaving you that horrible stomachache later.

My aunt explained this recipe to me a couple months ago, and I always forgot about it. I happened to drop by one day while she was making them and I tried a couple. It was as if a light bulb went off in my head. I understood what she was talking about. These were fabulous!

Kale Chips

A few leafs of green kale
Melted coconut oil

1.              Preheat oven to 400
2.              Tear up the kale into small bite size pieces. Pour a small amount of coconut oil over the kale. Mush up everything in your hands to coat the kale in the oil.
3.              Sprinkle with salt and pepper
4.              Bake for 8-10 minutes for a single layer, or 10-12 for a few layers. Make sure to toss them halfway through cooking if there is a lot of overlapping.
5.              Keep an eye on them for when the edges go brown, but not the whole leaf. ENJOY!

These are very delicate, and very delicious warm. Hope you like them!

I have tried this recipe with black kale- it works but the green kale works much better for this recipe. Anyone else have any simple chip recipes?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Adventures of the Corn Dog into My Belly

I started eating a vegetarian diet very young. I never liked meat, but looking back on what I did enjoy is pretty scary. I would eat cheeseburgers from McDonalds (not even real burgers at a BBQ, I thought those were gross!), tuna salad, and corndogs. Not hotdogs, I never liked hotdogs, but yummm corndogs and the rest of the icky processed food I enjoyed.

I never even considered vegetarian corndogs until I was at my friend Lauren’s house and she offered me Morning Star’s mini corndogs. Oh my gosh, so delicious. But as I am foraging into this vegan adventure- I read the ingredients: milk, eggs, corn syrup, sugar, hydrogenated oils, and enriched bleached flour. A bunch of stuff I’m trying to cut out!

So while I was searching for a name for a blog, I was getting discouraged, because a ton of my ideas were taken by dead urls, twitters, or advertising sites. I finally thought “Happy Herbivore” would be great! I plugged it in, and the first thing I see? “Popular Recipes: Vegan Baked Corndogs.” Okay so the name I was stoked on was taken- but I had inadvertently come across what I didn’t even realize I was longing for.

I tried it with Smart Dogs (Not gluten free, but still pretty healthy), almond milk, corn flour instead of the whole wheat pastry flour, and agave instead of raw sugar. Pretty good- but because I had changed the flour around I added more almond milk and the texture of the batter was a bit off. They tasted pretty good... but my corndogs were hideous.

Not to be discouraged, I noted that the Happy Herbivore suggested that a Twinkie pan makes cuter corn dogs. While searching Amazon, I noticed that not only did they have a pan, but they also had a pigs-in-blanket cooker "Appetizer Maker" that had great reviews. About $25 later I had one on it’s way to me.

When the "Appetizer Maker" arrived I was so excited I pulled it out right away and needed corn dogs that second. I wanted to try a slightly different recipe so this time I tried a recipe from the mini book that came with the “Appetizer Maker.” It called for egg, milk, cornmeal, salt, flour, baking powder, and sugar. So I mixed egg replacer, vegetable broth, cornmeal, salt, gluten free flour, baking powder, agave, cinnamon. It was okay, Brian thought it tasted exactly the same as the previous one. But we both agree they were cuter!!

A little overflowed but who doesn't love the corn mixture!

So today, determined to end this war or corn dogs, I tried combining what I liked from the separate recipes, learn from my gluten free mistakes and finally make the ultimate gluten-free-sugar-free-vegan corn dog recipe.

On the dogs . . . I have been using Smart Dogs for a while since I originally just cut out white flour. However, now that I’m moving towards gluten free I haven’t found any vegan and gluten free dogs at my local grocery store. After some research I found that and Tofupups are vegan and gluten free but I haven’t tried either yet. Have any of you?

Vegodactyl Vegan Gluten Free Sugar Free Corn Dogs

1 ½ egg recipe
2/3-cup cornmeal
4 tbsp coconut flour
2-teaspoon baking powder
1/2-teaspoon baking soda
A dash of paprika
A dash of dry mustard
A dash of onion powder
A dash of black pepper
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons agave
A sprinkle of cinnamon
1/3 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1/3 cup water
4 veggie dogs cut into thirds (If you want gluten free, here is where you need to be careful!)

1.            Grease Appetizer Maker with a little coconut oil or prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. To Preheat Appetizer Maker or oven to 450.

2.            Mix all dry ingredients together. Add vegetable broth, coconut oil and stir well. Slowly add water until batter is just combined and all lumps are removed.

3.            If cooking in an Appetizer Maker place a little batter in the cavities, place the dog on top and a little more batter on top. Cook according to the directions.

4.            If cooking on a cookie sheet, dip the dogs and place on parchment paper, if necessary add a little more batter to the top.

5.            Bake for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Salsa Fresca Recipes

You may wonder why I reviewed recipes from my dinner party instead of posting them and reviewing. Recipes are an interesting thing- as I said in my first blog post I rarely follow them exactly. However due to copyright, I choose not to post full recipes created by someone else. Note that anytime I try anyone else’s recipes I will link to the book or blog it came from. But if I’ve changed something enough I will post my recipe for it. If it’s still close I will post inspired by. This is just for my comfort, and I really felt that I needed to write briefly about.

That little disclaimer past me now, I want to post the salsas from the other night. Grab some corn chips and go to town on these. 

Also if you’re like me you probably HATE chopping cilantro. I was at Williams-Sonoma and came across an herb mill. It’s not the easiest thing to clean, but it works and is so very worth it to not to have to try and chop them.

Salsa Fresca Recipes

Pineapple Avocado Recipe

2 cups chopped FRESH pineapple
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
¼- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of half a lemon

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate for about a half hour before serving.

Mango Salsa

(Inspired by A Beautiful Bowl of Soup: The Best Vegetarian Recipes)

1 mango diced with the skin
1 small red onion diced
Juice of half a lemon
2 tsp of agave, maple syrup, or brown sugar
¼ - ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Dissolve the sweetner in the lemon juice. Combine all ingredients and refrigerate for about a half hour before serving.

Dinner Party

So my good fried Rachael (Nature's Ninja) and I decided to get together to throw a dinner party for the boys. We scoured cookbooks for recipes and settled on making:

Spaghetti Squash Mexicana with Tropical Avocado Salsa Fresca from Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook

Vegetable Rice Pilaf from How it All Vegan

Apple-Peanut Butter-Caramel Bars from Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook

Here are a few photos from our adventure:
We went to Whole foods to gather all our ingredients. We bought this crazy hot sauce from Africa and completely forgot to use it. Which I guess was okay because the spaghetti squash ended up super spice on its own.

This is Rachael, she's super pretty. She's also working on the dessert. It was amaze-balls.

Pineapple for Salsa Fresca #1

I chopped the mango for Salsa Fresca #2. Rachael had me keep the peel on. I never tried it before but it was totally worth it. I highly suggest you try this. Yes. YOU.
This was onion and jalapeno for the spaghetti squash. I seeded most of the jalapenos, but whew! They were still super hot. My hands were burning!

Anaheim pepper, plus red, orange, and yellow sweet peppers for the rice pilaf. See my awesome ceramic knife? It's awesome. However.... I chipped the tip of it. Oops.

Those are the tiny sweet peppers. So cute!

More pilaf cooking.

Table almost completely set up.

Everyone sat down to eat. Rachael, Brian, and Kyle. 

Brian eating. I keep looking at those bananas, we didn't eat them that night, but now I want one!

Kyle is a silly man. 

Rachael and myself, enjoying the Salsas Fresca and chips. We like to look nice for our dinner dates. 

This was the most yummy apple crisp almond butter treat. 

 This is the love of my life. I am not ashamed of this photo. He actually looks quite nice when he's smiling like a human and not a jack-o-lantern. 

Okay so we may have looked all smiley but you're probably wondering: How was the food?

Squash Mexicana with Tropical Avocado Salsa Fresca 
First Reaction:
This was a pretty good recipe- the salsa was amazing.
What we changed:
The salsa calls for mango, pineapple or papaya. I made the salsa with pineapple, and made another mango salsa on the side. 
We also used pinto beans instead of black beans.
Overall thoughts:
If I were to make this again, I would use one jalapeno instead of two. They ended up taking over the flavor. I would probably toss a few fresh tomatoes in after as well. 
However, it was pretty good and we're eating leftovers!

Vegetable Rice Pilaf 
First Reaction:
This had a bland flavor.
What we changed:
We slightly burned the rice. Oops! Also we used cilantro instead of parsley because we had a ton from the salsas.
Overall thoughts:
Okay I get it, we toasted some rice on the bottom of the pan. But that ended up being one of the most interesting flavors in this recipe.  I don't know why, maybe with more salt, or peppers, or other spices it would have been better. 
I ended up mixing most of the rice with the spaghetti squash and it was pretty good then.

Apple-Peanut Butter-Caramel Bars 
First Reaction:
YUM and amaze-balls.
What we changed:
Almond butter instead of peanut butter. Brown sugar instead of white sugar. Agave instead of maple syrup. ALSO! I misread the recipe and bought 3 apples instead of 3 pounds of apples. HA! So we used a smaller pan.
Overall thoughts:
Okay even though we changed so much- this was one of the best desserts I've eaten in a very long time. Thank you Veganomicon for bringing this too my attention!!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Caramelized Onion and Kale Pizza

I think pizza is a very personal thing. Before I started my vegan adventure, I loved Papa John’s website where you could specify “light” or “heavy” cheese, sauce and toppings. So because of that giving a pizza recipe is very tough! I’ll post approximately what I use and please adjust to what you love.

I purchased a cornmeal crust for this recipe because I was feeling lazy and hungry and didn’t want to take the time to try a recipe that might be awful. Maybe next time I’ll try a recipe.

For the cheese I went to buy Daiya mozzarella because it is amazing and delicious, however Whole Foods was completely sold out, and none of the other mozzarellas they carried were vegan so Brian suggested we try the pepper jack because it “would probably be exactly the same thing.” It wasn’t but it was delicious.

Tonight was a silly night when we went to choose the tomato sauce. While Brian was loudly commenting on how we had to buy the canned sauce because it was cheaper, I noticed Shia Labouf was shopping right next to us. I giggled. I love tomato sauce, I think it is wonderful and I don’t mind buying the plain stuff because I always add a ton of garlic, onions and sometimes-chopped tomato and basil to it. But I thought it was funny that we were so loud about buying cheap sauce next to a movie star.

For the toppings on this one I used kale and caramelized onions, yum! Make sure you put the kale underneath the onions, or it’ll get very crispy. (I’ll do a recipe for kale chips soon. Super delicious.) Spinach can absolutely be substituted. Ugh- just do whatever makes you happy. This is what I did:

Caramelized Onion and Kale Pizza

1 8” pizza crust
¾ cup tomato sauce (more or less to your liking)
¼ cup of shredded vegan pepper jack (or more)
2 big leafs of black kale shredded into small pieces
1 medium red onion (Thinly sliced)
1 clove of crushed garlic
Coconut oil

1.              Preheat oven to 425 or whatever your crust suggests.
2.              Put a little oil in a skillet on low heat.
3.              Add the onions stir till they are covered in oil. Stir occasionally for the next 15 to 20 minutes.
4.              While the onions are going heat up the sauce, add the crushed garlic. Add a few onions too if you want.
5.              Spread the sauce over the pizza crust.
6.              Arrange the kale over the sauce.
7.              Sprinkle the cheese over the kale.
8.              Add the caramelized onions to the top.
9.              Bake for about 12 minutes, until cheese has melted.
10.           Let cool for a few minutes, slice up and enjoy! 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Welcome to Vegodactyl- A Vegan Adventure!

I started eating strictly vegetarian since I was about nine. The taste, texture and idea of it bothered me. I’ve always thought that veganism is a fascinating idea. I've been interested in it for a while now. Recently I decided to not only go vegan, but also give up white flour and white sugar for 10 days. I loved the way I was feeling so much- I decided to keep it up.

Now I'm blogging my adventures in order hopefully stay on track. I’m lucky to have vegan and/or gluten free friends that I can borrow recipes from and try recipes with. I’m even luckier to live with an amazing meat-eating boyfriend (Brian) who not only tolerates my vegan adventures but enjoys them as well. I feel like I can always get a good opinion from him on whether or not a non-veg would enjoy a recipe.

I love all things creative, and cooking is just one of my many loves. With that said, please be sympathetic while I try and learn how to write recipes. I'm very silly and since I was very young, I decided that recipes were more “guidelines” or even “suggestions.” Brian’s been on me for years that whenever I change a recipe to write it down. This blog will be that- but also twist your creative bone. You may discover where I used black beans- kidney beans are better. Or you may change flours or spices; whatever you do have fun and good luck!

Since I just started the transition into a vegan (and hopefully gluten and sugar free!) life, I'm trying to stay healthy and still satisfy my sometimes-scary sweet tooth. Keep an eye out for my favorite recipes, food adventures, reviews, and probably pictures of my kittens. Hope you enjoy.