Chocolate Chip Protein Cookies

Easter is happening so late this year that Ash Wednesday almost completely slipped my mind!

This is a big deal for me because every year since high school (maybe longer?) I’ve given up chocolate for lent. My ultimate weakness. My all-time favourite food. My beloved, sweet, go-to treat in any way shape or form.

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Because I didn’t realize lent started last week until Tuesday night (how did I miss the pancakes posted all over IG and Facebook on Tuesday? I dono… ) I didn’t have the chance to have one last chocolate binge! CRAP!

Good thing I ate 3 cupcakes last weekend…

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So today I’m announcing my chocolate hiatus until April 20, Easter Sunday. Actually… it’s a break from sweets entirely. The first year I gave up chocolate I realized it was to easy to replace chocolate with other sweet treats. It was barely a sacrifice when I could still eat vanilla flavoured anything. Not that I eat a lot of sweets anymore but I still indulge in my fair share of vegan treats.

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In addition to giving something up, my mom always said that lent should be about doing something good, so we are working on that as well!

But right now, I’ve got something yummy for you! Yes, the title of this post includes the words chocolate and cookies but they are far from a sugary “sweet”. However, I guess I’ll be subbing raisins for chocolate chips when I make another batch this week 😉

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These little protein cookies were inspired by a 3-ingredient cookie recipe that’s been sweeping my Instagram feed. I love the original version but wanted a little more bulk for a mid-morning snack.

Sunwarrior’s raw protein blend has an amazing nutritional profile, especially designed for vegans. I don’t like to rely on protein powders and supplements as a main source of nutrition, because that’s just what they are, supplements. I do, however, like to use protein powder as an “extra” in my diet when I’m lacking my usual variety of whole foods because I’m traveling or low on groceries (oops!).

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Chocolate Chip Protein Cookies

Adapted from Skinny Taste’s Chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
Makes 12 cookies

  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1.5-2 scoops protein powder
  • 1 tbsp flaxseed
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips or other mix-ins (raisins, walnuts, etc.)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl then fold in chocolate chips. Bake on a greased or lined baking sheet at 350 F for 13-15 minutes. Let cool at least 5 min and enjoy!

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Nutrition facts per 2 cookies (using 1.5 scoops of Sunwarrior, natural):

Calories = 150
Protein = 6.9 g
Fat = 4.7 g
Carbs = 22.4 g
Sugar = 6.8 g
Fiber = 3.3 g
Iron = 16.7 g {just for fun;)}

What is your ultimate foodie weakness?
Do you use protein powder for a nutritional boost?

Liz xo

Winter Staycation + Traditional Stew

Hey 🙂

How was your weekend? Mine was exactly what I needed… a few evenings at home to reset and recharge.

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Valentine’s Day was just what I’d hoped for; a lovely dinner at Brewbaker’s with my sweetheart featuring Thai Vermicelli, the signature vegan dish available upon request, and a glass of vino. Did you know one rose means I love you? ❤

Dinner was followed by a relaxing evening at home with chocolates, more wine, and this little party animal passing out by 10:30 😉

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The good news? My BodyStep instructor told me that’s the secret: start early and end early. You can have just as much fun and still make it to Step the next morning… lol

Regardless, I still felt abnormally exhausted all day Saturday. I guess it was just the busy week and previous social weekends catching up with me. We were originally supposed to head to Salisbury for the night to see Meag before she went back to the west coast but the weather was having none of that. After Friday’s weather bomb covered us in snow and freezing rain, another storm hit Saturday night that buried us again.

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Anticipating the storm, we and decided to stick close to home, spending Saturday shopping around and running some errands. A little staycation actually sounded pretty good since I clearly needed some time to recharge.

I bought a new winter jacket which I desperately needed. It seems I only own long coats and one warm jacket which I wear to work so it smells like pulpmill… Mmm.. this super light, down alternative jacket will be perfect for to-and-from and is unbelievably warm. I was skeptical about the colour at first but the lovely lady at the Radical Edge convinced me it was a good choice. She was right. Thanks Kaylee 😉

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Since we were snowed in for most of the day on Sunday I decided it was the perfect day for some housework I’d been putting off. Most people would consider this laundry, sweeping & dishes….

Child’s play. I was ready to clean & organize my fridge and drawers. Don’t judge. I like clean.

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I also made a big pot of traditional-style stew which filled our apartment with the smell of “home”. It was the perfect comfort food for a cold, wintery Sunday evening.

I usually make something like my Spicy Sweet Potato Tofu Stew but went the more “traditional” route this time. By traditional I mean the kind of stew my mom used to make with beef and lots of root veggies. By “traditional” I mean tofu in place of beef 😉

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If you’ve never added tofu to your veggie stew you’re missing out! It absorbs the flavour of the broth, spices, & veggies and gets oh so soft in the slow cooker…. omnomnom!

I bet you want the recipe, don’t you? If you’re an Atlantic Canadian you can totally appreciate this kind of soul warming goodness! If you’re living some place that you’re not buried in snow, you might not be as excited to dig in to a big hot bowl of stew. For my fellow east coasters, here’s what’s in the Crockpot:

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“Traditional” Stew with Tofu

Serves approx. 8

  • 2 medium sweet potato
  • 3 medium white potato
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 small turnip
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 head cabbage
  • 1 block tofu, pressed
  • 2 cartons veggie broth
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 2 tbsp thyme, dried
  • 2 tbsp oregano, dried
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • salt & pepper to taste

Chop your veggies and add all ingredients to a large slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. My Crockpot was FULL so it needed the entire 8 hours.

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This is a dish best served the following day. I would almost recommend NOT eating it the day of, and waiting to enjoy it when the flavours are fully incorporated.

I’m thinking about another WIAW post this week if I can remember to photograph my meals before I devour them 😉 Stay tuned!

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So how about you…

Are you sick of the snow yet?
Are you a fan of homemade stews?

Liz xo

Keep Calm & Eat Cupcakes + Basic Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

Hey, hey 🙂

How is everyone’s week going so far? I’m feeling pretty great in the second week of the Find Your Balance February challenge. This weekend was a perfect balance of indulgent and requirement. I made my very first from-scratch cupcakes for Meagan’s birthday: Chocolate Mint Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World!

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I was super excited to make them but super nervous at the same time. I read the book’s introduction to familiarize myself with necessary tools, ingredients & techniques. Then I read the ingredients and directions through about 10 times before heading to the grocery store. I bought everything I needed including a carrying tray and decorating kit then read the ingredients another 10 times.

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I baked the cupcakes on Friday night and used every ounce of restraint in my body not to eat half the batter. OOOOMG batter 😀

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I decorated them on Saturday morning and topped them off with a piece of Camino mint dark chocolate and used the remaining morsels of restraint I had not to stuff my face before they made it to Meag’s. OOOOMG icing 😀

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They were 100% approved by vegans (me) and non-vegans (everyone else) alike. Everyone said they never would have known they were vegan and I was even asked for the recipe. WIN!

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Usually when I enter into this kind of foreign activity I either totally win or totally womp. I’m going to pat myself on the back and say this one was a win 😉

On the requirement side of things, which I guess I need to share before you think I survived on only cupcakes for the rest of the weekend, I had some delicious smoothies packed with extra power foods like wheatgrass & raw cacao. Since we had pineapple in the house I couldn’t resist a Green-a-Colada and I also bought some frozen cherries to bring back my all-time favourite chocolate cherry bomb smoothie.

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I had a few killer workouts, especially the new BodyStep – holy crap! I did not think my heart rate would stay so high in the class I consider by B-level cardio. How have I not tested the Polar at BodyAttack yet?!

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I am also pretty proud of last week’s balance of yoga, strength & cardio workouts. Here’s my plan for this week:

Monday – BodyStep
Tuesday – BodyPump + CX Worx (core)
Wednesday – Hot Flow
Thursday – BodyAttack
Friday – Hot Yoga
Saturday – BodyPump OR solo weights session
Sunday – OFF 🙂

Now… since I’ve left your mouth totally water for cupcakes (how mean), I thought I’d share the recipe for Isa Chandra’s basic chocolate cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. They serve as the base for many of her cupcake recipes, including the chocolate mint. I’ve seen the recipe shared on several blogs & recipe sites including chow.com so I figured it was safe to share it here!

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Basic Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

Makes 12 cupcakes

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp almond extract, chocolate extract, or more vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder (Dutch processed or regular)
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan (preferably aluminum) with paper or foil liners.
  2. Whisk together the soy milk and vinegar in a large bowl and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add the sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and other extract, if using, to the soy milk mixture and beat until foamy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat until no large lumps remain (a few tiny lumps are OK).
  3. Pour into liners, filling ¾ of the way. Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
  4. Decorate accordingly.

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*LESSONS LEARNED:

  • Do not overfill cupcake liners. If your pouring results in 11 filled liners instead of 12 your cupcakes will be a little rounded on top and the icing won’t sit as nicely (i.e. it will droop to one side and might completely fall off… so then you will definitely have to eat that one…)
  • Using an aluminum pan will make softer, fluffier cupcakes than stainless steel muffin pans. Do the magnet test: If a magnet sticks, its not aluminum.
  • Sift, sift, sift. Do not rely on just mixing. The end result is so much better.
  • Let cool COMPLETELY before decorating. This is why I baked them the night before to avoid an impatient Lizzie 😉
  • I don’t recommend trying to make these gluten-free. Basic all-purpose flour results in a totally different final product if you ask me. Lucky for the gluten-sensitive there are gluten-free cupcake recipes in the book.
  • You can sub some whole-wheat pastry flour (not regular whole wheat flour) as per Isa’s recommendations in the book’s intro BUT whole wheat flour results in a more dense cupcake.

Go get em, Martha- I mean Isa! 😉

Liz xo

Persinnamon Heart Smoothie

Well…

What a week this has been. I am more than ready for the weekend and can’t wait to tune out for 2 whole days 🙂 I don’t want to be one of those people who wait all week for Friday but I really, really LOVE Fridays! I have something to love about every other day of the week too… Bachelor Mondays, BodyAttack Tuesdays…. but no day will ever compare to Friday. Not even if Juan Pablo showed up at my door with a rose every Wednesday. My boyfriend is way cooler anyway 😉

My only worry… I woke up this morning with a throbbing sore throat! I’ve been taking extremely good care of myself so I am hoping that I can kick this before Saturday night’s events. I pulled out all the stops this morning:

carrot beet ginger

Juice
Wheatgrass shots
Echinacea
Ginger tea with lemon
And packed a lunch full of fruit and veggies (did you know kale has more vitamin C than an orange per 100 g?)

Who needs luck when you have PLANT POWER! If you want to know exactly how I’ve avoided getting sick for over a year you can read about my witchcraft here 😉

Speaking of delicious fruits, loaded with vitamin C and other bug-fighting abilities, how about them persimmon?

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These little gems have about 70 calories per 100 g and contain loads of vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. They are a very good source of vitamin-C, especially native Chinese and American persimmon which provide 80% of the daily recommended intake.

Persimmon have many B-complex vitamins such as folic acid, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), thiamin, etc.  For more details on the health benefits, check out this source.

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Persimmon is the star in February’s smoothie of the month, combined with the key to any great smoothie – banana, a little natural sweetness from dates, and a warm hug from a some cinnamon and spice.

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There are no cinnamon hearts involved directly, but the persimmon-cinnamon (persinnamon) smoothie holds the key to my post-yoga heart this February. Try it, you’ll like it 🙂

Persinnamon Heart Smoothie

Serves 2

  • 1.5 cups almond milk
  • 2 persimmon, peeled
  • 1 banana*
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 2 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • pinch nutmeg
  • optional: 1 cup spinach

Blend everything up in your weapon of choice and garnish with a cinnamon stick if you’re fancy like that!

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*For a banana substitution, try 1/4-1/2 an avocado (warning: this will turn your smoothie light green) or 1/2 cup coconut yogurt. For added sweetness, toss in an extra date or 2 until desired results are achieved. For a thicker consistency, decrease the almond milk and/or increase the cashews.

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Have an amazing weekend and stay on top of your health this winter 🙂

Liz xo

Love Your Guts: DIY Water Kefir

There are some “weird” things I started doing since taking up a plant-based diet…

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I quote “weird” because really these things aren’t all that weird… they’re great… just different than what the average person would be doing on a given day, like making my own sauerkraut or sprouting at home (post coming soon!)

You don’t have to be into veganism to be into health, but for me, it was transitioning to a plant-based diet that led me to this point of next level health. When I decided to make the change I started to seek out as much information as possible via books, blogs, podcasts, etc., to make the transition in a healthy, sustainable way. Because of the significant relationship between food & health I was unavoidably led to a wealth of information on health & wellness.

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One of the podcasts I really got into was actually not a vegan podcast. The Holistic Health Diary, produced by Ange Peters of Hol-Fit and Gillian Mandich covers all things health & wellness from ultra-marathon training to making your own body scrub. I absolutely love these girls and look forward to a new episode every other Monday.

The HHDiary is what got me really thinking about organic foods and GMOs, using coconut oil as a major part of my beauty routine,  and wanting to improve my gut health….

You may have seen this stuff on the grocery store shelf:

milk kefir(Source)

This is a fermented milk product, known as milk kefir. Water kefir is similar but uses water instead of milk and still provides amazing probiotic benefits. Probiotics are essential to maintaining overall gut health.

So what the heck is water kefir and why are you brewing it in your laundry room…. ?

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First off, kefir has more probiotics than yogurt or any other health drink. Water kefir can contain up to 453 different bacterial strains vs. yogurt which contains only 2 types (source). Most probiotic supplements also contain only a few of the vital bacterial strains, like acidophilus and bifidus.

What is water kefir?

Water kefir is a lacto-fermented beverage made from water, sugar, and kefir grains (SCOBY) They are called grains for their appearance but water kefir is gluten-free. When combined and left to ferment for 48 hours, the sugar is metabolized by the kefir grains and the result is a probiotic-rich drink containing wide variety of beneficial microorganisms, B vitamins & food enzymes. The sugar-content is also reduced to about 20% during the fermentation process.

The water becomes carbonated like soda (weird) and resembles the taste of slightly fizzy lemonade!

How do you say it?

Keff-er? Key-fer? Kuh-feer?

I’ve heard people say key-fir and some say kuh-fir… Tomato/tomato, right?

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What are probiotics?

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defines probiotics as “live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host”. Simply, probiotics are healthy or “good” bacteria that  help maintain the natural balance of microflora in the intestines (i.e. counteract the “bad” bacteria).

What are the benefits?

Whole food probiotics contain a wide variety of bacterial and yeast strains. “Water kefir grans include include 57 lactic acid bacteria strains, some acetic acid bacteria strains, and at least four yeast strains. Up to 453 different bacterial strains have been identified in water kefir!” (source). What can this healthy bacteria do?

  • Improve digestion
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Boost immunity
  • Reduce allergies
  • Possibly slow/reverse some diseases
  • Prevent diarrhea, gas & cramping
  • Improve women’s health/promote maternal health (reduce UTIs, vaginosis)
  • Possibly aid in weight-loss
  • Promote overall health & wellness

A clean and balanced gut will and allow for better absorption of vitamins, nutrients and minerals!

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Where can I get the grains?

If you’re in the Fredericton area, water kefir grains are sold by a nutritionist from Pepper Creek. It’s $10 for your first batch and an information pamphlet. I checked both health food stores and found that they do sell milk kefir grains but not water kefir grains. I can also hook you up with some of my duplicated grains 😉

Otherwise, check your local health food store. Many businesses take requests for products they don’t currently carry. The only place I’ve seen them online are at Cultures for Health. If you know of anywhere else to get them please share!

How long do the grains last?

If properly taken care of… forever! Once you’ve completed a batch,rinse the grains in spring water and either start a new batch or allow the grains to dry on a piece of parchment paper then store them accordingly (see FAQ link for storage information). Discard or store any multiplied grains.

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Where can I learn more?

I learned most of the basic information from the nutritionist in Fredericton but the articles I sourced are linked up below. I highly recommend the Water Kefir FAQ link before getting started. There is an answer to almost any questions you might have.

Water Kefir FAQ
Composition of Water Kefir Grains: Bacteria and Yeasts
How to Make Water Kefir Soda (with recipe variations)
Probiotics Side Effects, Health Benefits, Types, Research, Food Sources

The internet is a wealth of information. There are numerous variations and “recipes” to help you make this probiotic packed power drink a part of your daily routine 🙂

Here’s the recipe I’ve been using:

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DIY Water Kefir

Yield: 1 x 500 mL serving.

You can multiply the recipe and after 48 hours just strain, cap & refrigerate additional water kefir until ready to drink.

Ingredients: 

  • 500 mL spring water
  • 3 tbsp organic cane sugar
  • 1 organic apricot (available at Bulk Barn)
  • 1 tbsp water kefir grains

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a 1 L glass jar and cover loosely with a lid.
  2. Allow to ferment for 48 hours.
  3. Strain the water for drinking and rinse the grains. Discard fruit along with any multiplied grains or store grains as outlined on the FAQ page. Be sure to keep enough grains out to start a new batch if desired.
  4. Drink immediately or cap and refrigerate until ready to drink.
  5. Start all over again!

So easy. So good for you. I’ve been drinking this almost daily since the fall and I highly recommend this to anyone and everyone (including kids as a healthy alternative to soda!)

Happy culturing >:)

Liz xo

Sweet Potato Hummus

It’s been a foodie kinda weekend over here… 

Ryan requested some healthy muffins for a quick weekday breakfast so I whipped up some Pumpkin Quinoa Muffins {vegan-style) on Friday. These did not last for weekday morning breakfasts as planned…

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So I whipped up another batch, this time Zucchini Spelt muffins from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. Another total win in the kitchen. Notice how I throw “whipped up” around like it was a total cinch and I did it in high heels while doing laundry and dancing backwards…?

Cuz that’s exactly how it was… come on, don’t you believe me? 😉

But honestly, it is pretty simple to make your own muffins, snacks, and meals at home. It’s much cheaper, healthier and tastier too! I take the time each weekend to plan the upcoming week’s meals, prep a few things in advance and have enough groceries on hand to last until at least Thursday.

In case you’re interested, some other Lizzie approved recipes of the week:

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Speaking of DIY…

A few weeks ago I made my first attempt at homemade hummus. I could have just tried regular, ol garlicky hummus but I’ve had this recipe lingering around from an old Women’s Health magazine since way before the blog. I finally decided to go for it, and guess what…

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It rocked! So light and creamy, unlike a lot of the store bought hummus. Not to mention, I’ve never seen sweet potato hummus in a store. Original 😉

I took it in my lunch every day to eat with veggies, spread it on sandwiches, snacked with tortilla chips, and then some. The only downside (but more of an upside) is that this recipe made a huge batch so it went bad before I could eat it all.

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I recommend having plans to eat a lot of hummus over the next couple of weeks before getting out your food processor. This would make a good party dish too, mainly for the reasons above: 1. huge batch, 2. original!

Sweet Potato Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato*, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp unrefined brown sugar (I used Sucanat)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Steam sweet potato until tender.
  2. Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until creamy.
  3. Store in an air-tight container and refrigerate. Mine lasted a little over 2 weeks.

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*Note: The original recipe called for 1 lb of sweet potato but I thought it was a bit too much. I preferred the taste and texture with just 1 large SP.

Sweet!

Liz xo

#JumpstartJanuary Detox Smoothie

So you’d think it was a little cold for smoothies right…

This is a video of people ice skating on the ROADS in Fredericton this Saturday (click for link):

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We went to brunch around 11:30 and the freezing rain was just starting. We came out around 1:00 and the roads and sidewalks were sheets of ice. I’ve never seen anything like it! We could barely get up the driveway without sliding back down. Our vehicles were coated in ice and some sections of the highway were even closed. I knew the forecast called for freezing rain but I never expected it to have that much of an effect that quickly.

One bonus to the crappy weather? Our friends got storm stayed and we had a second night of games & food!

Games and Dip

If you’ve lived on the East Coast (especially near Halifax) or if you’ve ever had a donair, you will appreciate this: The Hot Donair Dip (aka HaliDip). I veganized the recipe using some simple substitutions and it was killer… I might have to blog about it in the future with Heather‘s approval 😉

Jenna and I escaped the freezing cold for some Hot Moksha Yoga – today marks day 11/30 of my 30 day yoga challenge! And regardless of the winter weather, I made yummy smoothies all weekend 😉

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The January edition of Smoothie of the Month is inspired by the Juice Master’s  Super Detox Smoothie from the 3-Day Detox. I couldn’t think of a something more fitting for the month where 97% of the population is trying to start a new year off on a healthy foot.

The name, of course, is inspired by the #JumpstartJanuary challenge that Georgia and I are totally owning right now! Keep up with her progress here and check out her gorgeous new blog design.

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The original recipe uses fresh juiced pineapple but since most people don’t own a juicer, I decided to create a smoothie that uses whole pineapple and a little additional liquid to thin it out.

For those of you who aren’t fans of bananas in your smoothies, this one is for you! Finally…. sorry, I kind of LOVE bananas!

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#JumpstartJanuary Detox Smoothie

  • 1 cup chopped pineapple
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 3/4 cup yogurt (I use So Delicious coconut yogurt, plain)
  • 3/4 – 1 cup almond milk
  • 3-4 ice cubes

Blend all ingredients until smooth and enjoy 🙂

Bottoms up!

Liz xo