Eat.Pray.Heal


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Vegan Chocolate Chip Brownies

I have several recipes for vegan brownies I use when I have a chocolate craving, but I found this one in Sauce Magazine.  The recipe comes from Beth Styles, who is not even vegan, but her brownies are awesome!  I made a couple of minor changes, which I’ll share with you at the end.

 

Ingredients

3/4 cup applesauce

1 1/4 cups sugar

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

8 oz. dairy-free chocolate chips, separated into 7 oz. and 1 oz.

8 Tbsp Earth Balance

3 Tbsp cocoa powder

1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease an 8×8 inch square pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the applesauce, sugar, vanilla, and salt until well combined.  Set aside.

Melt 7 oz. of chocolate chips along with the Earth Balance in a small saucepan over low heat, being careful not to burn.  When it’s completely melted, whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth and remove from heat.

Whisk the chocolate mixture into the ingredients you already combined.  With a spoon, stir in the flour until just combined (don’t over-stir or it will become cakey when it bakes), and then stir in the remaining ounce of chocolate chips.

Pour the mixture into the pan, smoothing out the top.  Bake for 35-40 minutes on the middle rack.

 

My Slight Changes:  I used raw turbinado sugar instead of granulated white sugar, which does give the brownies a unique taste, but it’s healthier and I like the flavor enhancement it brings.  I also stirred in 1 ounce of dark chocolate chunks instead of regular semi-sweet chocolate chips (although I did use regular chocolate chips for the other 8 oz.).  My variations really didn’t change the final product much, but my husband and I truly enjoyed these brownies.  They are very moist and gooey.  Just how a brownie should be!  I made these in honor of my husband’s first day at his new job today!!


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Coconut Kale Smoothie

Kale Smoothie 2

I love adding superfoods to my diet.  Just knowing they are labeled by important sciency/doctor type people as a superfood makes me feel really healthy and strong eating them.  Many superfoods, such as sweet potatoes, are incredibly easy to add to my diet since they are SO good, but then there are other superfoods, like kale, that are not so easy for me.  Kale often tastes bitter, although marinating the kale before eating it as a salad as well as adding fruit (my favorites are apples and oranges) does help diminish the awful bitterness found in every bite.  But, I don’t eat marinated kale salads everyday, because I like to switch up my salads.  I hate for food to become boring by eating the same things the same way every single day.  So, I decided to experiment with my daily smoothie and try creating a kale smoothie that didn’t have even a trace of bitterness to it.  I am proud to say, I was successful!  And it’s a good thing, too, because kale is one of those foods many doctors and nutritionists say people should consume on a daily basis.  It’s packed full of vitamins (the most notable being vitamins K, A, and C and manganese) and antioxidants.  The vast number of flavonoids and carotenoids found in kale have amazing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powers that lower cholesterol levels and lower a person’s risk for cancer.  In addition, a major note to vegetarians who are continually told the only way to get omega-3’s are through fish:  100 calories of kale provides us with 25-35% of our daily omega 3 need.  That paired with the high vitamin K content of kale works as a major anti-inflammatory in the body, making kale an excellent detox food and vital for our daily consumption.  So, if you are like me and find it hard to swallow the bitter leaves of kale, then give this Coconut Kale Smoothie a try.

Ingredients

1 cup coconut milk (I use vanilla)

2 cups dinosaur kale

1 chopped apple (I use Red Delicious, but any kind is fine)

1 banana (preferably frozen)

2 Tbsp shredded coconut

2 Tbsp chia seeds

1 Tbsp coconut oil

4-6 ice cubes

Add all the ingredients to the blender, making sure to add the coconut milk first so it blends well.  Blend until smooth.  This recipe makes 2 servings.

Kale Smoothie

Sources: The World’s Healthiest Foods


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Study Shows Bottlenose Dolphins Call Each Other by Name

9797235-a-group-of-bottlenose-dolphins-performing-a-tail-stand

According to a recent study by the Indian Institute of Science published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Bottlenose Dolphins actually call each other by name…well, sort of.  “Bottlenose dolphins develop their own unique identity signal, the signature whistle. This whistle encodes individual identity independently of voice features. The copying of signature whistles may therefore allow animals to label or address one another.”  As part of the study, researchers would choose a particular dolphin and play his/her unique whistle, and that dolphin would actually call back in response to hearing his/her “name”.  When the dolphins heard the whistle “name” of another dolphin, they did not respond.  This suggests that Bottlenose Dolphins actually learn their identity signal (“name”), and use their names as a way to label and identify one another.  In fact, Bottlenose Dolphins are already known for forming cliques (Natural News), so this idea of identity signals explains how they are able to differentiate one dolphin from another in order to create their circle of friends.  Bottlenose Dolphins appear to be highly advanced in communication, especially for a nonhuman species, so I have a feeling scientists will continue to study them further after this incredible discovery.


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Sweet Potato Curry Rounds

I have been experimenting with a new recipe, and I finally found the perfect combination of ingredients to make these sweet potato curry rounds delicious!  These are really healthy, quick and easy to make, and taste great!  These sweet potato curry rounds are excellent for appetizers or a snack, and would be the perfect item to bring to a pot luck.  They are firm on the outside, soft on the inside, and have just a slight curry taste.

Sweet Potato Curry Rounds 4

adapted from ShopCookMake

Ingredients

2 medium sweet potatoes

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups spinach, chopped

3 Tbsp water

1 Tbsp dried basil

1 Tbsp dried parsley

1 green onion, minced

1 tsp Madras curry powder

1 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp flour

Directions

You may wish to peel your potatoes first, although I keep the skin on because that’s where a lot of the nutrients are at.  This recipe should work fine either way.  Chop the potatoes into large chunks and place in a pot.  Cover with water, bring to a boil, and cook for about 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, mince the garlic and chop the spinach.  In a skillet over medium heat, add about 1 Tbsp olive oil and lightly brown the garlic.  Add in the spinach with 3 Tbsp water, and cook until the spinach wilts (about 3 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 450 at this time.

When the potatoes are finished cooking, drain them and place them in a medium bowl.  Using a potato masher, mash until fully soft (like you’re making mashed potatoes).

Add the spinach and mashed sweet potatoes to a bowl and add in all the seasonings plus 1 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp flour (I used whole wheat flour, but any flour should work).  Stir together and let cool for a few minutes.

Sweet Potato Curry Rounds 2 Sweet Potato Curry Rounds

Grease a pan, and then, using your hands, form 1 1/2 inch balls with the sweet potato mixture and place on the pan.  (I was able to make 20 balls with my sweet potato mixture.)

Sweet Potato Curry Rounds 3

Bake at 450 for 15-18 minutes.  I checked mine at 15 minutes, but the outside wasn’t quite as firm as I wanted it, so I cooked them another 2 minutes and they were ready.  You want them to be firm on the outside (but soft on the inside), but you want to be careful not to burn the bottoms.  Let these cool for about 5 minutes before eating so they can firm up a little more, and then enjoy!


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Chocolate Beet Cake with Dark Chocolate Frosting

Chocolate Beet Cake

If you love chocolate but feel guilty after gorging on it, then this recipe is for you!  Many people know beets are supposed to be good for them, but they don’t like the way they taste; however, you can’t even tell they are in this cake!  It just tastes like an incredibly moist chocolatey cake.  And the best part is you’ll still reap the health benefits associated with beets.  Just take a look at the list of health benefits beets give you from fullcircle.com:

  1. “Beets contain high amounts of boron, which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones.”  So basically, it’s an aphrodisiac.
  2. “Potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron; vitamins A, B & C; beta-carotene, beta-cyanine; folic acid. These are but a few of the many nutrients, vitamins and minerals that can be found in beets and beet greens.”  Enough said.
  3. “They are a wonderful tonic for the liver, works as a purifier for the blood, and can prevent various forms of cancer.”
  4. “Beets help your mental health.”
  5. “Nutritionists use beets and beet juice to test stomach acid levels, so stay ahead of the curve by adding beets to your diet now.”  And if nutritionists use beets, they must be good for you!
  6. “Beets are a high source of energy.”

I think that list from fullcircle.com pretty well sums up why you should be eating beets.  And if you don’t like beets but have a big sweet tooth, then give this recipe a try.  You won’t regret it!  I based my recipe off of a Martha Stewart recipe (which was not vegan) and topped the cake with a rich chocolate frosting recipe I got from ohsheglows.

Ingredients

4 medium beets, trimmed & peeled

2 cups flour (I used 1 cup whole wheat & 1 cup all purpose)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

3/4 cup warm water

1/4 cup oil (the recipe calls for safflower oil, but you could also use canola or vegetable oil)

1 tsp vanilla

Directions

Cover beets with 2 inches of water in a pot and bring to a boil.  Once the water is at a rolling boil, turn the heat to low and allow the beets to simmer for 30 minutes.  Check to make sure they are done by piercing a beet with a knife–it should go right through.  Remove from heat, drain, and puree in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Set aside for now.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium to large size bowl.  Whisk in the applesauce, water, oil, vanilla, and 1 1/4 cup of the pureed beets.

Coat a 9 inch cake pan with oil, line it with parchment paper, and spray the parchment paper with oil as well.  Pour batter into the lined pan and spread evenly.  Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let the cake cool for at least 20 minutes, and then turn the cake pan upside down so the cake will come out onto a flat pan or platter.

If you like dark chocolate or rich decadent desserts, then frost the cake with the recipe below, or you can sprinkle the top with powdered sugar or a chocolate glaze (or eat as is).

Chocolate Frosting Ingredients

1 can full fat coconut cream (make sure you buy coconut cream and not coconut milk, because some coconut milk brands do not separate the cream from the milk and you’ll only need the cream for this recipe)

1 (12 oz.) bag dark chocolate chips (I used 60% cacao)

1 Tbsp pure maple syrup

Directions

Scoop the coconut cream into a medium sized sauce pan, and then stir in the entire bag of chocolate chips.  On low heat, melt the chocolate chips into the cream, stirring frequently so nothing burns.  Once everything is melted and blended smoothly, pour the mixture into a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 2-3 hours (you can also do this the night before you plan on baking the cake).

When the 2 hour minimum is up, use an electric beater to whip the frosting until it’s nice and creamy.  Add 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup and whip a bit longer.  Now use this incredibly decadent frosting to frost your chocolate beet cake!

 

As a side note, you’ll need to keep this cake refrigerated, because the frosting tends to melt a little when left out for too long.


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I’m back! Plus, try Vietnamese Chè Chuối.

If you follow my blog, you’re probably wondering where I’ve been these past few weeks.  I must confess:  I was considering putting Eat.Pray.Heal to the side and forgetting about it.  I have a fairly successful blog about my husband and my experience with infertility–a topic I know VERY well after these past 2 years of unsuccessful fertility treatments.  My husband and I originally became vegan because we were hoping it would help cure me of my fertility issues, but then in researching the vegan diet, we learned that there is so much more to being vegan than just eating healthy.  We are still pretty new at the whole vegan thing, but we are learning and loving it more and more, which is why I started this second blog.  I wanted to share what I learn about animal cruelty, about how my Catholic faith affects my decision to be vegan, about nutrition and exercise, about homemade and/or natural products, as well as recipes I try and love.  But for some reason, the more I wrote, the more self conscious I became.  What do I know about being vegan?  We’ve only been vegan for half of a year.  Now infertility–THAT I know!  I’ve been barren for 2 years.  I’ve seen several doctors, took a gazillion different medicines, had tons of different tests run, been through intrauterine insemination a few times, tried natural remedies and alternative medicine, etc.  I can write about that with confidence, but veganism?  What do I have to share with people?  However, I’m reminded that when I first started blogging about infertility, I technically hadn’t even been diagnosed yet.  My first blog post was published the night before I was to go in for a hysterosalpinogram (HSG).  I won’t go into the details of what an HSG is or what I have been through since then, but you can feel free to check out my first blog post or look around that blog, which is called This Luminous Road I Travel.

Anyway, all that to say, if you actually enjoyed reading Eat.Pray.Heal and maybe even learned a thing or two, then I am sorry I let my anxiety get the best of me.  I do that sometimes…  But I’m back and looking forward to sharing more with you!  I hope you’ll keep reading.  Here’s a quick preview of this upcoming week:  In honor of my husband’s aunt who just had a baby (and asked us to be the baby’s godparents!!), I’m planning to write about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in infant formula (you may have been hearing some talk about this lately because the nonprofit group, As You Sow, asked Abbott Laboratory shareholders to remove GMOs from their Similac products, which is a very popular brand of baby formula), and I’ll be trying 2 new recipes this week–a traditional Vietnamese dish made vegan and a pasta dish.  If they both turn out as delicious as I’m hoping they will, then I’ll post the recipes with pictures. 

Speaking of recipes, I made a really yummy Vietnamese dessert over the weekend.  I didn’t take pictures, but I’ll share the recipe.  It’s very simple.  Vietnamese people eat a lot of something called chè.  Chè refers to any sweet beverage or pudding, which is the most common type of dessert eaten by Vietnamese people.  There are many kinds of chè, and I have too many favorites to list!  The nice thing about chè is it’s always vegan friendly, because most people don’t have access to dairy products in Vietnam, so people typically use coconut milk instead.  Also, Vietnamese desserts are not as sweet as Western desserts tend to be.  This recipe is for Chè Chuối.  (Chuối means banana.)  Here is the recipe:

 

Ingredients

2 cups water

1/2 cup small tapioca pearls

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (the kind in a can)

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla

5 ripe bananas, pealed and cut into 4 parts per banana

2 Tbsp roasted, chopped peanuts to garnish (optional)

 

Directions

Bring the 2 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan.  Add the tapioca pearls and allow to simmer for 5-7 minutes, or until the tapioca pearls turn clear.  Be sure to stir often so the tapioca doesn’t stick to the bottom and burn.  Stir in the coconut milk, sugar, salt, and vanilla.  Then, add the bananas and cook for another 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and pour into small dessert bowls (we use rice bowls, if you happen to have those) and if you like peanuts, you can sprinkle some on top of each bowl of dessert.  Serve warm or cold. 

Tip:  You won’t use the whole can of coconut milk, but unless you serve all of the chè at once, you’ll want to save the coconut milk in the fridge, because if you serve yourself a bowl of leftover chè later on, you’ll want to add 1-2 tsp of coconut milk to help soften it back up (even if you reheat it, which is how I like to have it).

 

 

 


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Chia Seeds, a Superfood

I read a great article on Natural News this morning titled “Chia Seeds are a Superfood Treasure”.  Many of you probably already eat chia seeds and know they are good for you.  They are so easy, because you just have to buy the bag and add them to smoothies, granola, etc., no grinding necessary.  We love chia seeds and put them in our vegan protein shake every morning.

First of all, per gram, chia seeds have 8x more omega 3 than salmon, which many people will tell you is the best source of omega 3 fatty acids.  So forget those fish oil supplements!  Vegans do not have to worry about where to get their omega 3’s from, because we have great sources in both flax seed and chia seeds.  In fact, according to Elisha McFarland over at Natural News, “The ALA (alpha linolenic fatty acid) that is in chia seeds is the only known essential omega-3 fatty acid that the body can’t produce on its own.” 

Omega 3 fatty acids aren’t the only benefit of chia seeds.  Chia seeds are also packed full of “vitamins A, B, E and D and minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, niacin, phosphorous, potassium, silicon, sodium, sulphur, thiamine and zinc.”  In addition, chia seeds are full of protein (6x more than kidney beans per gram) and fiber (11 grams per ounce of chia seeds).  Take a look at the chart McFarland laid out in the article (this is all based on one gram of chia seeds):

• 8x more omega-3 than salmon

• 6x more calcium than milk

• 3x more iron than spinach

• 15x more magnesium than broccoli

• 2x more fiber than bran flakes

• 6x more protein than kidney beans

• 4x more phosphorous than whole milk

I think you can agree, if you’re not consuming chia seeds on a daily basis yet, I highly recommend you start making my vegan protein shake every morning or after you workout, or you should add 2 Tbsp of chia seeds to a daily smoothie, granola/cereal, or salad.  I also recommend you try these tropical cranberry chia seed bars for breakfast sometime.  They are divine and super healthy–no sugar, no gluten, and lots of fruit and chia seeds!  I know many vegans even use chia seeds as an egg substitute (1 Tbsp chia seeds mixed with 3 Tbsp water), but honestly I prefer flax eggs (1 Tbsp ground flax mixed with 3 Tbsp water). 
 
Do you eat chia seeds every day?  How do you like to add them to your diet?