Soup in the Summer: Spicy Thai Curry

thaicurrysoupI must confess, if I could eat soup everyday for dinner I would. I am pretty sure I ate a bowl of tomato soup with noodles for dinner almost every night in college. The only problem I have with finding recipes is that generally, a lot of soups call for animal stock. I try to maintain a vegetarian diet so this isn’t super ideal, however I have found that curry and coconut milk-based soups often call for veggie stock.

Honestly, I don’t know why I made this…it’s hotter than hell outside, and this soup is spicy…but alas, there are only so many salads you can eat in the summer. It’s a nice change to pace, super hardy, and has a lot of good veggies in it. Bonus points for the fact that you can make it vegan!

 

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 tbs. minced garlic
  • 1 tbs. ginger (chopped fine)
  • 2 tbs red curry paste
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 bunch of baby bok choy
  • 4.5 c. veggie broth (or chicken if you wish)
  • 1 sweet potato (cut into chunks)
  • 1/4 c. shredded carrots
  • 13 oz. can of light coconut milk
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbs fish sauce (optional)
  • 1/2 c. rice noodles
  • 1/4 red onion (optional garnish)
  • 1 lime (optional garnish)
  • sriracha (optional garnish)
  • sprouts (optional garnish)

Directions:

  • In a pan, on medium heat, add the oil, garlic, and red curry and cook for a few minutes until mixed.
  • In a soup pot, mix the veggie stock, ginger, sweet potatoes, carrot, red pepper flakes, and the stalk of the bok choy (chopped up, leaves separated). Add the garlic curry mix and set to boil. Once the mix has boiled for a few minutes, set to simmer until the potatoes are soft. This usually takes about 20 minutes.
  • Add brown sugar, fish sauce (if desired), and coconut milk and stir. Let simmer a few minutes.
  • Add the rice noodles to the simmering pot and allow them to cook until the noodles are soft.
  • Pour soup into a bowl and sprinkle juice from a lime wedge on top. Add sprouts, sriracha, and onion to the top and enjoy.
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5 Easy Ways to Kick Off a Healthier Lifestyle

Healthier.pngAs someone who loves veggies and tries to eat mostly vegan, I think about health a lot, but sometimes it’s the things you aren’t doing that can contribute to an unhealthy or less healthy lifestyle. The good news is, fixing this is super easy, even for the laziest/busiest of people.

Because I don’t eat meat and I rarely eat dairy, I am always worried about getting enough of my iron and vitamins, especially because I tend to have low iron anyways. I eat a lot of beans, seeds, and veggies, but until I started using My Fitness Pal, I didn’t realize all of the nutrients I wasn’t getting.

I have made some really easy adjustments and not only do I feel great I have lost 10 pounds without even really trying! My husband has lost weight too, all his shirts are too big! What? I know, right! Anyways, here are some tips and adjustments to things that you may or may not already be doing in order to feel good every day.

START USING MY FITNESS PAL: This is one of my favorite apps, hands down. It keeps you on track with calories, water consumption, but most importantly—nutrition. I had NO idea I wasn’t getting enough Vitamin A, B, C, protein, and iron. You can also log in calories burned from working out. A lot of the meals are pre-loaded, so all you need to know are the portions you eat. You can log in via the web and your phone to log in your meals and snacks so there’s no excuse to not use it, because it’s that easy. My macros look great, but I was not meeting my daily nutrition goals, which I have adjusted and I feel great!

20160524_144011DRINK MORE WATER: This is what I struggle with big time. I would go from coffee to maybe a glass of water during the day and then I would have some water with dinner. There’s NO WAY that’s enough. I have a method now. If you have to drink 11 glasses of water a day, I know that I need to fill my water bottle at work 4 times and then drink a few glasses of water at home.

In order to stay on task I write goal times down on a post it note (11:30 a.m. , 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m.) and I know by those times, whatever they may be, I need to have had a bottle of water. I always add lemons and herbs to make it more interesting. When you get enough water there’s less headaches, you have better skin, you loose weight, and my acid reflux is so much better. Also, I hardly ever drink pop, but I love bubbles so I drink La Croix instead—my fave!

VITAMINS & NATURAL SUPPLEMENTS: Because I have dietary restrictions and I take daily medication for reflux I am lacking some nutrients. When you take a proton pump inhibitor daily it can deplete your magnesium, vitamin D, calcium and can lead to weak bones. I am not trying to have a hip replacement in my early 30’s so I take magnesium, calcium + vitamin D, in addition to vitamin B12 (for energy), COq10 (for heart health), folic acid (to help alleviate cramps), 5-HTP (for anxiety), and turmeric (for joint health/inflammation). That’s a long list, but I take a few in the morning and a few in the evening and I am confident that my bones will not break, I am getting the vitamins I need, and my cramps are 50% better than they used to be!

20160613_183856EAT MORE: Wait for it…veggies! Literally, 65% of my dinner and lunch are veggies. This might be more challenging to some, but I have never met a veggie I wouldn’t try so it’s easy for me. For example, tonight I roasted some cherry tomatoes, brussels sprouts, peppers, onions, and squash and I ate it with some soy “chicken”. Because my plate was mostly veggies that were filled with fiber and vitamins, it was filling and didn’t make me feel like garbage after I ate! Try spicing them up with some garlic, herbs, and red pepper flakes, yum.

WORK OUT WITH NOISE: I have never understood how people can run on the treadmill or work out in complete silence (unless it’s yoga), but even then I need some noise. If I make a certain play list while I am working out in my home “gym” aka my elliptical, bike, and treadmill, I know how far a long I am by what song is on and I know if I want to finish strong I need to push myself during a certain song. I also know what I need to start cooling down. Let’s be honest, I’m the girl listening to something fun and poppy like Passion Pit while getting into a deep thoughtful yoga pose (I’m not great at finding my center—yet!), but this is how I am able to stay on task and motivated while working out.

See…super easy! What are your simple tips to a healthier you?

Oolala! Lavender Syrup Cocktails & Mocktails

oolalaIt’s been awhile–who knew migrating a website could be so time consuming? Needless to say, with everything going on at work recently, I’ve needed (with what little time I have off) to relax.

I have some friends at work who are into essential oils and told me lavender works wonders for sleep, anxiety, and stress—so the next time I went to my favorite local coffee shop I ordered a Tangerine Lavender Honey Latte and fell in love! Not only does lavender smell wonderful, it’s delicious–very delicate and floral.

Because I rarely drink soda, wine, beer, juice, or dairy this leaves me with a lot of water, coffee, and tea. I discovered that adding lavender simple syrup to cold and hot tea, sparkling water, and coffee is truly amazing. There’s

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Tangering, Lavender, Honey Soy Latte

nothing like throwing some herbs, fruit, and garnish into some sparkling water for a nice mocktail or cocktail if you’re having people over and have some vodka on hand.

Here’s the recipe to make lavender simple syrup and a recipe for my favorite mocktail/cocktail:

Lavender Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup purified water
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 3 tbs lavender
  • purple food coloring (if desired)

Add the water and sugar to a small sauce pan and stir, then add the lavender and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir and bring down to a simmer for 10 minutes. Strain our the lavender buds using cheesecloth and store in a mason jar. Your simple syrup will end up a caramel color, but if you want it to look more purple you can add a bit of food coloring (red and blue).

Store in the fridge for up to a week.

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Citrus, Cucumber, Lavender Mocktail

My Favorite Lavender Mocktail

  • La Croix Orange Sparkling Water
  • 2 Crushed Basil Leaves or a Slice of Cucumber if Basil is too strong for you
  • Slice of Lemon
  • Lavender Simple Syrup to taste

My Favorite Lavender Cocktail

  • Large shot of vodka in a cocktail glass
  • Heavy Splash of Grapefruit Juice
  • Soda Water
  • A Few Crushed Mint Leaves
  • Lavender Simple Syrup to taste (I like about a tablespoon)

Pro Tip: If you have a friend who works at a non-profit in a development capacity, recruit them to be a bartender at your wedding/event, hell recruit them to coordinate your entire event/wedding. We have all had to play double duty at fundraising events as a event coordinator/bartender/florist and have learned quite a few tricks! I know more about linens, seating grids, centerpieces, menus, catering, and ordering bistro tables, eight and ten tops than I ever, ever thought I would know.

Lavender may be on the expensive side, HOWEVER, feeling relaxed with a delicious drink is priceless—so tune out all of your work worries, miserable, mean people, loud kids, and have a delicious drink with a few friends!

 

Vegan Smoothie Bowl & Mixtape Monday!

Most people hate Mondays. I, however, am kind of a fan. Mondays give you the chance to detox from the last week (if it was kind of a bummer), you are rested from the weekend, and no one bothers you from 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. at work because everyone’s just trying to get through the influx of email that happened over the weekend. As I said though, not everyone is a fan…

IMG_20151207_141158For those who get a total case of the Mondays, I am offering you two pick-me-ups. 1) a recipe for a killer vegan smoothie bowl and 2) a mixtape Monday playlist that will give you the motivation to kick Monday’s ass.

Vegan Smoothie Bowl

The premise of a smoothie bowl seems like perfection: blend your smoothie and sprinkle delicious and nutritious things on top. Though this doesn’t seem super portable, you can toss everything into a mason jar and you’re good to go!

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Indgredients

  • Medium sized ripe banana
  • 1 c. dairy-free milk (I used vanilla almond)
  • A few ice cubes (pro tip: you can nix the ice if you freeze the banana in chunks ahead of time!)
  • 1 heaping tbs. of nut butter
  • organic granola
  • flaxseed
  • fruit

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Directions

The directions are really simple (which is awesome). Place the nut butter, ice cubes, dairy-free milk, and banana in the blender and mix until smooth. Pour in a bowl or mason jar and sprinkle with flax, granola, and fruit—blueberries and strawberries are a delicious addition! This has tons of protein, calcium, folic acid, antioxidants, and heart healthy stuff! Yum.

Mixtape Monday

Music is where I go when I need to get amped up or decompress from something. Tackling a full work day, shaking off a crappy person and their crappy passive aggressive comments, getting over a hurtle, needing motivation. Hence, this play list…take a listen and don’t let ’em get you down–especially on a Monday!

 

 

Vegan Three Bean Sweet Potato Chili!

VEGAN THREE BEAN SWEET POTATOCHILLI

IMG_20151122_175730Real talk…I just ate cereal and almond milk for dinner, but we’re here to talk about last night’s dinner! I made some supremely delicious, flavorful, and easy Vegan Three Bean Sweet Potato Chili. My in-laws have family dinner once a month and if I thought I could get away with feeding them something vegan, I would totally make this because it’s hearty, makes enough for a big family, and is really filling.

IMG_20151122_180435In the land of Cincinnati Chili, which I hear is made with cinnamon, chocolate, or a combination of the two (served over spaghetti), there are any number of fast-food style chili places to enjoy a bowl, like Skyline Chili. I’ve never eaten at one of these places, frankly, I would rather eat a giant bloody steak before I patronized one of these chili places, which is why I make my own.

IMG_20151122_181620The sweet potatoes, beans, brown rice, and vegan crumbles provide plenty of protein, so as a veggie this is something great to eat when I feel like my iron and protein is low.

 

 

IMG_20151122_192141Ingredients:

  • Chili powder – if you’re in a pinch I use Chili-O, but if I have time I love this recipe from Whole New Mom.
  • 2 cans of chili beans
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of light red kidney beans
  • 2 cans of chili ready tomatos
  • 1 can of stewed tomatoes
  • 1.4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 tbs. hot sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic.
  • brown rice
  • Morning star meatless crumbles
  • 1 large sweet potato

Directions: 

  • Add beans, tomatoes, chili powder, brown sugar, pepper flakes, hot sauce, and garlic to a large pot and mix it all together. Set on medium low or toss it in a crock-pot on medium. I typically don’t drain the beans or tomatoes because when you add rice is absorbs some of the liquid and you need at least a little or else it will burn.
  • Peel and chop up your sweet potato into small chunks and toss these into your pot/slow cooker along with your frozen veggie crumbles.
  • If you are cooking in a pot, let the mixture simmer for 1 hour, if you are using a slow cooker, set it on medium or low for 3 hours.
  • Once your sweet potatoes are just about firm add the uncooked rice. The rice will cook right in the pot and thicken your chili. This will take about another half hour in a pot or an hour in a crock pot.

IMG_20151122_192239If you are into not being strictly vegan (which most of my friends aren’t) I usually provide plain greek yogurt to top off the chili in lieu of sour cream.

 

The meal is perfect for the cold weather and it’s packed with fiber, protein, and flavor. Also it smells really good and is easy to cook in a cock pot—bonus points!

Christmas in a Crock-Pot: Slower Cooker Apple Crisp!

Merry Christmas!
I have a confession to make: I fully support the Christmas Creep. There’s nothing I love more than that feeling you get around the holidays. I love seeing Christmas trees in the stores…the other day I saw this dinosaur Menorah on Etsy and I missed the beautiful temples back in New England. I just love the holidays; Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Festivus—I love it all!

IMG_20151108_183349Above all, my favorite is this certain Christmas smell that reminds me of a combination of cinnamon, cold air, and a cozy home. It’s. my. favorite. So, of course, I decided to make the most cinnamon-y thing I could think of, Crock-Pot Apple Crisp.

Because I was making this for other people besides myself, I made it with caramel—however this can easily be made vegan with a few swaps.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Honeycrisp Apples (I don’t peel the skin because it’s good for you, but if you choose to use 5 apples)
  • 1/2 c. Maple Syrup
  • 3/4 c. Brown Sugar, parted into 1/2 c. and 1/4 c.
  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 3 tbs Cinnamon Powder
  • 2 tbs Nutmeg
  • 1/2 c. Flour
  • 1/2 c. Oats
  • 1/2 stick butter (swap out for 1/4 c. coconut oil if making vegan)
  • 1/2 bag caramel chips (or use this recipe for vegan caramel)

IMG_20151108_184516Directions:

  • Cut apples into small pieces and put into a bowl. Again, I keep the skins on because they are nutritious, but totally not a requirement.
  • Mix the 1/2 c. Maple Syrup, 1/2 Brown Sugar, Cinnamon Powder, Nutmeg, and a few caramel chips in the bowl with the apples and mix together. If you are using the vegan caramel throw in a few teaspoons.
  • In a separate bowl, add the 1/2 c. Flour, 1/2 c. Oats, Melted Butter (or coconut oil), and 1/2 bag caramel chips (or 1 c. vegan caramel sauce) and mix.
  • Add your apples to the bottom of your crock pot, add the oat mix to the top of the apples, then throw in the cinnamon sticks.
  • Turn your crock-pot onto low and cook for 4 hours. You can certainly cook it for less time than 4 hours if you like your apples a little more firm. Sadly, I have to cook the apples until they are about mush because I have a weird fruit allergy and can’t eat the apple skin unless its fully cooked.
  • Serve warm topped with frozen yogurt or coconut ice cream if you are staying vegan!

IMG_20151108_220014I love this recipe because I can make it vegan, I can literally toss everything into a slow cooker, and it smells like Christmas all day long. Also, it’s super tasty!

Pop Goes The Cupcake!

Humble

I am the first to admit if I can take a baking short cut, I totally will. Typically, I like to put the time and care into making things from scratch, like this lemon blueberry cake with citrus cream cheese frosting, but I don’t always have that kind of time. For these special occasions I revert to a magical recipe that requires just three things: boxed cake mix, cream soda, and a can of icing.

My husband has three loves in this world—metallica, me, and rainbow chip frosting. A few years ago they discontinued rainbow chip and my husband was so desperate for the sweet stuff that he took to the internet to try to buy some from Amazon (not even kidding). Well, a few weeks ago he found out that rainbow chips were back and that is when I decided to make this lower fat (not low calorie) version of these vanilla cupcakes.

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Because these cupcakes contain no meat/dairy—I do believe they are vegan, but that’s like saying twizzlers are vegan—while they may be the case, they aren’t necessarily healthy. Also, I am pretty sure once you put the canned icing on the cupcakes aren’t vegan any longer.

Alas, I needed a quick fix and a tasty dessert because I wanted to husband to do some volunteer work with me this Friday and what better way to sweeten a deal than with some cupcakes.

IMG_20151020_191853Ingredients

  • 1 Box Vanilla Cake Mix
  • 2 c. Cream Soda Pop (or diet cream soda if you are want to cut out more calories)
  • 1 can Rainbow Chip Icing


Directions

Preheat the oven to 350. In a bowl add two cups of the cream soda to the vanilla cake mix and mix. Next, you’ll want to generously coat your cupcake pan with cooking spray, as the cupcakes will be slightly sticky once they come out. Pop your cupcakes in the oven for 20 minutes until golden brown. The time you take in the oven may be a little longer or shorter depending on the size of the molds in your cupcake tin—mine are larger cupcakes so they take the full twenty minutes.

Once your cupcakes are completely cooled, take them out of the tin, ice them and enjoy!