Sunday, June 30, 2013

Vegan Mango Coconut Muffins (Whole Wheat)

According to Rich these are the best muffins, vegan or otherwise, I have ever made.  They are light and sweet. The crumb topping is something I don't often do, but it is a nice treat. The pieces of mango keep the muffins moist and add their sweet, tropical flavors. The coconut gets nice and crisp on top. 

These muffins are also incredibly quick and simple to make. It was a hot day when I made them and I was in and out of the kitchen quickly. 

Cook Time: 45 min
Yield: 1 dozen muffins
Recipe: Inspired by The Bakerita
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour. 
1/2 cup brown sugar (not packed)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 large banana mashed
3/4 cup of soy or almond milk 
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup of fresh mango peeled and cut into small 1/2 inch pieces

1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons shredded coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and grease 1 muffin tin with vegan butter. 
2. Combine the dry ingredients (flour-baking powder) in a large bowl. 

3. Combine the wet ingredients (oil-vanilla) and whisk together until well combined. If your coconut oil is hard, you can whisk it separately to help it turn into oil. You could also leave it on the stove while it is pre-heating.
4. Add the wet and dry ingredients together, stirring until well combined. 

5. Fold in the chopped mango. Make sure your mango is not too large or it will break apart the muffins. After I took the picture below, I had to cut the mango again to make it smaller.

 6. In a small bowl, combine flour, coconut, and oats.

7. Mix in coconut oil and vanilla (for this phase, you want the oil to be a little hard because it will help to form the crumbs).

 8. Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin tins.

9. Add the crumb topping to each of the muffins.

10. Bake for 22-25 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, or until a knife comes out clean. 
11. Let the muffins cool for about 7 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack. 

 11. Enjoy with a little jam, soy milk, or tea.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Vegan on the Road

Vegan on the Road: What's a Vegan Girl to Do?

Clearly I have been slacking lately. I am getting married in less than 3 weeks and on the nights I used to blog, I am doing wedding planning. :) I have been on the road a lot lately and had trouble finding things I could eat on the road. I thought that probably many vegans have the same problems.

Eating greens, veggies, beans, and whole grains takes extra thought and planning when one is eating at home. When a vegan is on the road, maintaining a healthy vegan diet can prove to be even more challenging. So what is a vegan to do? I will outline a few of my go-to-on-the-road staples that will hopefully help you to avoid going hungry.

Here is the scenario, you have been driving for about 3 hours (we vegans get hungry quickly) and you are STARVING, but all you see on the highway are fast food chains. Cheese and meat are ubiquitous at these places and, unfortunately, fresh greens and tofu are not. You start thinking about your dream vegan meal. Maybe it is a fresh kale salad, a warm and "cheesy" vegan pizza, or a tempeh reuben. At least so far, I can't help you find any of these prime choices on the road, but I can steer you in the direction of some decent vegan dishes that are available at some of the bigger chains. Below are some places that serve vegan food on the go.

When I am on the road for a while, this is one of my top choices. First of all, the atmosphere in Chipotle is clean and it doesn't feel like fast food. Vegans can get a burrito bowl filled with brown rice, black beans (the pinto beans have bacon in them so be careful), corn, grilled veggies, guacamole, lettuce, and salsa. I actually recommend skipping the veggies entirely because they are too oily. This burrito bowl is actually really filling, costs $7.49, and only has 575 calories - if you leave out the oily veggies. Oh, and the best thing about Chipotle – free seltzer! I also love their indie music selection.

The biggest drawback to Chipotle is the high sodium. The burrito bowl above has about 1900mg's of sodium! That is a lot for someone used to eating veggies. For this reason, I wouldn't recommend it all the time, just in a vegan emergency!

Moe's also has a vegan burrito bowl. They offer tofu, which is actually quite tasty. Again, the veggies are rather oily so I stick with the tofu and beans. I also really like Moe's pickled jalapeño's! They make a great spicy addition to the meal. Their burrito bowl without  veggies has about 457 calories and costs $7.39.

The negative aspects to Moe's also include high sodium. There are about 1700mg's of sodium in the burrito bowl I suggested. The atmosphere in Moe's is also very fast-foody. It smells like
grease, the staff has to wear annoying loud uniforms, and the menu looks more like a McDonalds menu than anything else. Additionally, all of their food comes with deep fried chips, which of course you can just ask not to have but it enhances the fast-food feel.

Of course, if you are in a big city you can find vegan solace at Whole Foods. I love their vegan pizza (if that was your craving, I came through for you!), salads, vegan Indian food, and smoothies! It is great because you can mix and match different foods on your plate. There are usually nice places to sit indoors and outdoors. The atmosphere is usually clean and it is a great
place to unwind!

The best part of going to Whole Foods…Kombucha!
The drawbacks to Whole Foods are the sodium and the costs. While I doubt the sodium is anywhere near the levels at Chipotle and Moes, I can't be sure because they don't have the same nutrition labeling for their hot food. Whole Foods is also about twice as expensive. There are no free drinks here (unless you want to drink out of the faucet… the bathroom.....) and I am always surprised at how much a salad costs. It is also a little annoying because everything is sold by weight, which means I am paying the same per pound for chickpeas that someone is paying for beef or fish. It seems a little unfair to the vegans and vegetarians, clearly we are supplementing the more expensive meat, fish, and cheese.

Those are my best vegan to-go suggestions. If all else fails, it is always a good idea to stop at a grocery store and get some fresh fruit, hummus, and crackers. As you can see, these options are vegan but not as healthy as some homemade vegan cooking or fresh greens. As a result, it is important to pack as much as you can from home. For example, I like to load up on apples,  bananas, homemade granola, and maybe some vegan cookies so I don't have to get too much out. However, especially in the heat, this isn't always possible. When it's not, now you know where to go!

If you are in another town or city, you can also check out a great vegan/vegetarian website finder.

Where do you go for vegan solace on the road? 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Vegan Banana Peanut Butter Muffins

We were pretty much out of food last Friday before going out of town, hungry, and too tired to go to the grocery store. I decided I would make something with the few ingredients I had in my house. First, I tried avocado muffins with the two overripe avocados I had in my house. They turned out to be beyond overripe. I had already mixed the dry ingredients and so I needed to figure out a recipe I could make with that. I opted for banana muffins, then Rich suggested I put peanut butter in them. They came out great!

The muffins were moist and slightly dense. They tasted like banana bread with a hint of peanut butter. They made a great dinner and pre-running snack the next morning.

This recipe was really quick and easy, assuming you don't try to make them with avocados first. Let me know how yours come out!

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 bananas
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup vegan butter (I use Earth Balance)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup soy milk

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
2. Mix dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and cinnamon) together in a small bowl.
3. Mash the bananas and place them in a large bowl.
4. Add the remaining ingredients, besides the soy milk, to the mixture. Using an electric mixture, beat for about 1 minute.
5. Add half the dry ingredients and 1/2 cup of soy milk, mix again with the electric mixer.
6.  Mix in the remaining 1/2 cup of soy milk until all is well combined.
7. Grease muffin tins or use muffin papers. Place about 1/4 cup of batter in each muffin cup.
8. Bake for about 22 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean. Let cool for about 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
Yield: About 2 dozen muffins