Thursday, January 29, 2015

vegan spinach artichoke dip

A couple weeks ago, I decided I really wanted a vegan spinach artichoke dip. I found one recipe that looked decent on Dreena Burton's blog and I tried it. While I liked the base of the dip which included cashews, almond milk, spinach, and frozen artichokes, I found that it was severely lacking in the flavor and creaminess of a good dip. I tweaked it and after making it about three times, I think I can say I've made my favorite vegan dip yet. The caramelized onions really up the flavor factor and the vegan parmesan on top gets a little crispy and reminds me of breadcrumbs. Unlike my buffalo chicken dip that relies heavily on store bought vegan cheeses, this dip is only a little bit unhealthy and so it just feels lighter.  I'm definitely making it again this Sunday. GO HAWKS 

yeah, this picture is not cute! but this dip is

served with Trader Joe's Fritos...they're organic so obviously better for you......

Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip 

¾ cup raw cashew pieces
¾ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
1/3 cup Daiya regular cream cheese
4 cloves garlic
¼ cup nutritional yeast 
1 teaspoon vegan worcestershire sauce (I use Kroger brand) 
1 teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 bag of frozen artichokes, thawed
2 cups loosely packed baby spinach
1 whole yellow onion, caramelized (tips on caramelizing onions here)
1/4 cup Daiya jack cheese or mozzarella shreds for topping
Parma vegan parmesan for topping, or homemade vegan parmesan like this one 

Process the first 11 ingredients (cashews- ground pepper) in a food processor until smooth. Add the thawed artichokes and baby spinach and process, making sure to leave the mixture a little chunky. Transfer the mixture to a 1 quart baking dish. While the oven is preheating to 425 degrees, you can caramelize the onion. 
Add the onion to the dip, distributing evenly. Taste for salt and pepper. 
 Add the Daiya and vegan parmesan on top and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Friday, December 12, 2014

still running

I thought it was time I posted a running update. Remember when I posted about starting Couch to 5k in August? Well, I've actually completed two 10k's since then. I NEVER thought I would type that. Seriously, I never liked exercising, much less running! I vividly remember STRUGGLING to complete the mile in school. Now that I think about it, having to run one mile, like, once a year, wasn't really good. They barely made us really practice and no one told you to start slow or pace yourself or use a run/walk strategy. They just made it seem like you had to run the whole thing or you were a loser. I definitely finished last most of the time. 

I started exercising a tiny bit when I went to college and a health class made you go the gym for part of your grade. You couldn't not go because (apparently) the professor could see if you swiped in the gym. True story. I started going for beginner yoga classes and I really liked it. I just stayed in the back and tried to do everything right. I decided exercising wasn't so bad when no one was judging you and there was no competition. So, I only really exercised during freshman year because the classes were free, then I transferred to a new school and the classes were NOT free at that gym. I was also commuting from home and I never wanted to spend more time than I needed to on campus. I also had about a million times more school work, so yeah, exercise was definitely on the back burner. Fast forward to a month after graduation and I started Couch to 5k. There were no excuses. I didn't (still don't) have a job, no school work, no commitments really. Pretty much the perfect time to start an exercise regime. I also had a great place to run: historic Yorktown, VA. Yeah...I didn't really think so at the time, but it was awesome- a cute little historic town on a river with whole streets blocked off from traffic, lots of parking, bathrooms (that were only locked once when I needed them), etc, etc. The only downside was that it was extremely hot and humid in the summer, so I had to get up and go pretty early to avoid that. Now that it's December in the Seattle area, I'm definitely missing Y-town. Yep, another thing I never thought I would type! It's dark and rainy and there aren't many low traffic historic areas where I can run. On clear days, I can see snow capped mountains though, so that's cool. 

venti soy oprah chai with 2 espresso shots! 

Now, I'm still run/walking. I don't know if I'll ever be able to run a whole mile straight through, but who cares?  I've read that people do pretty well with run/walking and finishing is finishing, no matter what. And with that in mind, I have finished two 10k's. It's pretty crazy. 

My main goal is to finish the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February. I'm actually following the No Meat Athlete Half Marathon Road Map and I'm currently in the second week of training. Today I had to push a run inside and I actually walked up and down the stairs for 45 minutes (about 5-10 minutes longer than I take to do 3 miles). A running magazine said that walking stairs for the amount of time you were going to run is about equivalent to an easy run. I'd say it was probably a little harder because I am super sore now! I can't wait to see how my training goes from here. 

my Strongest Hearts sticker 

Are you a runner? What are your favorite tips for a beginner runner?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

white chocolate macadamia nut cookies

Happy December! I feel like I'm finally able to enjoy the whole month of December now that I'm not in school. It always felt like a month of gloom and doom because of finals. Now that I don't have that stress in my life, I want to make the most of the holidays, which means I want to try to make as many vegan and gluten free treats as possible. #TREATYOSELF My mom used to bake tons of amazing goodies for Christmas and that kind of stopped when I went vegan and she was already gluten free! Even though we've been baking vegan and gluten free for about five years now, it seems like we can never learn everything- we're always perfecting, so it's fun to try new things. The new winter issue of Chickpea magazine really inspired me to go ahead and try even more new holiday treat recipes that I had never thought of making vegan and gluten free. I'll be sure to post updates when I try some of those recipes.

Recently, I was able to get some of the Pangea vegan white chocolate chips from Vegan Haven and I just knew I had to make some white chocolate macadamia nut cookies! They're one of the few things that I have not had once since going vegan. I tried these with the new Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 gluten free mix and they turned out great! I think this mix is a big improvement over the regular gluten free all purpose mix, probably because it's made with mostly rice flour instead of bean flours. It also has xanthan gum already mixed in, which kind of replaces the gluten (binder) in gluten free flour. 

1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup organic Earth Balance, room temp
1/2 cup shortening, like Spectrum organic brand
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 flax egg or Ener-g egg replacer
2 1/4 cups Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten Free flour mix
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
hot water
3/4 cup vegan white chocolate chips
3.5 ounces macadamia nuts, chopped roughly and toasted lightly
optional 2 tablespoons sweetened shredded coconut

Pre-heat the oven to 350F. 

Beat both sugars, butter, shortening, vanilla, and flax egg in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. The dough will be slightly crumbly, so pour just enough hot water over it to get the crumbs out (about 2 tablespoons) distribute everything evenly, then fold in the white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts. I made one pan without coconut, then added it to the dough for the second pan. 

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 12 minutes, or until browned. Cool on wire rack.

*adapted from Betty Crocker