Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Do you ever have a day where you feel like biting into a chocolate chip cookie warm from the oven would dissolve your stress and make you feel waaaaay better about life? Today I had that day. This week was a long one – full of exams and general school/life stress. It’s the final push to the end of my first semester in grad school, and I needed to whip up something good to help me to keep powering through. After not being a student for six years, you quickly forget what it’s like. πŸ˜‰

Being in the kitchen is my number two favorite way to relax (clocking in right behind going for a long trail run), and I find baking to be especially soothing. These chocolate chip cookies are sooo delicious – they would fool your Grandma into thinking you made them from the Tollhouse recipe. Not only are they completely dairy and egg free, but they don’t have anything weird in them – so they are easy to whip up with ingredients on hand. I hope you enjoy this vegan treat as much as I did. πŸ™‚

L’s Delicious AF Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup vegan butterΒ (I use Earth Balance)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips (or the whole 12 oz bag, whatev)
1 cup chopped pecans, if you feel like it

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 or 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat (if you don’t have either of those, no worries – they work fine on regular ass baking sheets).
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using a kitchen mixer or hand mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, sugar, water, and vanilla until fluffy. Slowly beat in the flour mixture in portions. Once the flour mixture is incorporated, add chocolate chips and pecans.
  4. Scoop about 1 rounded tablespoon of dough at a time onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each scoop. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the edges are golden. Let cool on the pan and serve.

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I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

With warmth,

L

Vegan No-Bake Brownies

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L’s Vegan No-Bake Brownies topped with hazelnuts. YUM.

The weather in Boston doesn’t know it’s September yet. Or, it’s on Team L and is in complete denial that Labor Day came and went and it’s now back to school/back to the grind time – summer’s over. To help me cope with that, I turned to chocolate. Not just any ol’ chocolate but these awesome vegan no-bake brownies that I created over the long weekend. They are way healthier than regular brownies, and full of fiber and nutrients and deliciousness. YUM. Not only that, they are are super easy and can be made on the fly, as most of the ingredients should be laying around your pantry. The recipe takes less than 20 minutes from start to finish, and there’s no need to turn your oven on (so when it’s 95 degrees, like it will be here today, you don’t have to turn your kitchen into an inferno). They are dairy, egg, soy, gluten* and refined sugar free. And, you can substitute sunflower seeds for the nuts if you’d like to make these bad boys nut free. If you are paleo you can omit the oats and roll them into balls and enjoy them as “power bites.” There are a million and one ways to change this recipe up to suit your own needs, so feel free to do so!

*They are only gluten free if you use gluten free oats.

Vegan No-Bake Brownies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 12 dates
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup of pureed pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup of hazelnuts and/or coconut flakes for topping

Directions

  1. Add oats, nuts, cacao powder and dates in a food processor. Blend thoroughly – this will be your “flour” base of your brownies, so make it as fine or a chunky as you’d like the final brownie texture to be.

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    Here are all the “dry” ingredients in the food processor before blending

  2. Add the bananas and pumpkin to the food processor and blend until you form a “dough.”

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    Here is the “brownie batter” after mixing all of the ingredients.

  3. Spray a 7 x 11 inch pan lightly with baking spray (this makes the brownies easy to remove). Using your hands, press the “dough” into the pan to the edges, trying to remove any air bubbles.

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    The brownies spread out using a spatula (and fingers) into a 7 x 11 pan.

  4. Sprinkle the hazelnuts over the top, lightly pressing the nuts into the top of the brownies and flattening out the top.

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    Top with hazelnuts or coconut, and lightly press the toppings into the brownies so they stay put. Cover and place into the fridge!

  5. Stick in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. Enjoy! πŸ˜€

This is the perfect dessert to pack in your kid’s lunch, your take-to-work lunch, or indulge in after dinner. They are chocolate-y and fudge-y without being overly sweet, nourishing and filling (so you don’t feel the need to eat the entire pan while watching Netflix in your bathrobe). They taste best cold, so keep them in the fridge until right before serving. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

I hope you guys had a great Labor Day weekend!! I did a whole boatload of fun stuff: training, wandering around Boston, long bike ride, yoga, and a full day at the beach. It was perfection.

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Boston on Saturday night.

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Biking all over Massachusetts πŸ™‚

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Mango Sorbet in Lexington, MA

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Literally the best $42 I’ve ever spent – the infamous sun shelter! C and I spent all day at the beach lounging/reading/eating/chatting in the shade – no sunburns here πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

How did you guys celebrate Labor Day? What did you guys do this weekend? Tell me about it in the comments!

Hope your week zooms by! I’ve got my first race in my six fall races this weekend – here we go Fall racing season! So stoked πŸ˜€

Race countdown:

Fells – 6 days

Rochester Half – 13 days

Tough Mudder – 19 days

Tufts 10K – 35 days

Narragansett Half – 41 days

Seacoast Half – 61 days

With warmth,

L

Vegan Ginger Molasses Cookies

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Vegan Ginger Molasses Cookies fresh outta the oven.

It’s the most wonderful tiiiiiime of the yeaaaaar! Why, it’s time for vegan holiday cookies! This recipe for vegan ginger molasses cookies is one of my favorites, I love the spiciness of these cookies (which, if you’ve ever seen any of the breakfast foods I post on Instagram, you’d notice a pattern of adding very friendly shakes of cinnamon, cloves and cardamom to pretty much everything – smoothies, overnight oats, muesli, pancakes, life in general…). This baby is another great “make ahead” recipe – and you bet your bippy that I made this ahead. It’s currently residing in a cooler in the trunk of the Marshmallow Mobile for transport to CT later today (make sure you give me a honk on Waze to say hi if you’re on I-84 today). This cookie dough can be made up to a week in advance and refrigerated, or frozen for a month. Also, I ALWAYS use blackstrap molasses in place of the other kinds of molasses, because it’s a sweetener that actually has some nutritional value (unlike refined sugar or corn syrup, which has been processed and stripped of all its nutrients except simple carbohydrates). The nutrients found in blackstrap molasses include manganese, copper, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and selenium. Bonus!! Okaaaaay, so that doesn’t exactly make these cookies “healthy” enough to eat the whole batch in one sitting, but a few of these holiday treats won’t kill ya. πŸ˜‰ Without further ado….

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All the ingredients for Vegan Ginger Molasses Cookies: flour, vegan marg, baking soda, baking powder, spices, blackstrap molasses, organic and coconut sugar.

Vegan Ginger Molasses Cookies

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup vegan margarine, softened
3/4 cup coconut sugar*, plus extra for rolling
1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
1 -2 tablespoons water

*This time I actually used half organic sugar, half coconut sugar, but use whatever you’d like/you have. πŸ™‚

Directions

Step One: Cream the butter and sugar together, using a stand or hand mixer. Slowly add the molasses and water and mix until well combined.
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Adding molasses to the butter and sugar. YUM!

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After the molasses has been added and mixed in, and before the addition of the flour mixture. It was smelling divine!

Step Two: In a medium to large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves. If any one of those smell particularly good to you (like for me, the cloves!) add an extra shake or two. Can’t hurt. πŸ˜‰
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Flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices in a large bowl, ready to be whipped into shape.

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The homogeneous mixture after mixing (sorry, you can’t take the Chemistry out of this gal sometimes).

Step Three: Turn the mixing speed to low (see my note on Antiquing yourself in Vegan Christmas Cookies – Part One) and slowly add the flour mixture in small portions. Make sure you do a little Holiday jig while you wait for each portion to be combined.
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Action shot! Slowly adding the flour in so it doesn’t end up all over YOU. πŸ˜‰

Step Four: Once the flour mixture has all been combined, you can stop here and transfer your dough to an airtight container for storage in the fridge up to a week (which is what I did). If you’re just rarin’ to go, proceed to step five.
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The finished dough! Ready either to be made into cookies, or transferred to an airtight container.

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As in my previous post, I simply transferred my dough into an airtight container, wrote out the directions on an index card and taped it right on the lid of the container.

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So pumped to make these! Woohooo!!

Step Five: Preheat oven to 350Β°F. Line two to three large baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat liners. Roll the dough into balls (about 1 rounded tablespoon at a time) then dip the top half in a shallow dish filled with sugar. Place them on the cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 miles, allowing them to cool directly on the pan.
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Roll the dough into small balls, and then roll in the balls in sugar. YUMMM. Try not to eat all the batter like my sister did when I was rolling these.

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Place the rolled cookies onto a baking sheet with a silpat liner or parchment paper – it makes it a breeze to remove them once they are baked.

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As you can see, my family got to these cookies before I could take a picture of all of them baked. This recipe makes about 40 cookies.

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I wish you could smell these through your computer screen because DAMN they are good! They were gone in two days.

Yum!! These are literally the best. I hope you enjoy them as much as my family! We chowed them in less than two days, I think they were everyone’s favorite. Woohoo, Christmas!

Sending you all lots of love and holiday cheer today, yippeeeeee!!

xoxox,

L ❀

Vegan Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

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Holy sugar plums batman, it’s ALMOST CHRISTMAS!! Three days! Woooo woooo!! Instead of braving the crowd of people at the malls scooping up their last gifts before the big day, I spent the weekend a) relaxing before the madness (/recovering from a wicked cold, which through tea and hot yoga has been vanquished) and b) prepping food for transport to my sister’s house in CT. I made two types of vegan cookies, both of which have dough that is okay for “make ahead” and can be refrigerated up to one week before you bake it. And because baking cookies as a family is fun, and they taste best when they are hot out of the oven, and because I own zero cookie cutters and my mom has about 5689 in fun holiday shapes, I decided this was a great candidate for “make ahead and bring”. Also, I want to spend Christmas Day playing with my nephew, not standing in front of a KitchenAid.

First things first – what is Christmas without decorating sugar cookies as a family? Um, not one that I would like to participate in. Decorating cookies has always been a holiday tradition in my house, and we still are down for it, especially since the traditional recipe has been replaced with a new, improved vegan version that is way more delicious (and better for you, and the earth!). The best thing about these vegan cut-out sugar cookies is that they are guilt-free – they have less than half the amount of calories in the traditional cut-out cookies, are yummy and soft (no one want cardboard-textured ANYTHING), and DAMN good – even without the frosting. The second best thing? There are no eggs in this recipe, so you can eat as much raw batter as you’d like without getting whacked with a wooden spoon. YES LIFE. Without further ado…

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All the ingredients for Mom’s Vegan Sugar Cookies! So simple: powdered sugar, flour, flaxmeal, vanilla extract, almond extract, vegan margarine. So easy! πŸ™‚

Mom’s Vegan Sugar Cookie Recipe

Ingredients

For cookies:
2 tablespoon ground flaxseed (or flaxmeal – same diff)
6 tablespoons (warm) water
1 cup vegan margarine (Earth Balance is my fave)
1 cup organic powdered sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling

For frosting*:
2 cups powdered sugar
8 -10 teaspoons vanilla soy milk
Sprinkles or colored sugar crystals

*Mom and I also added 2 Tbsp of soy butter to our frosting to make it more like butter cream and less like a glaze. YUM!

Directions

Step One: Make the flaxmeal “eggs” by placing 1 Tbsp flaxmeal into a small bowl, then adding 3 Tbsp warm water. Give it a good stir, and allow the flaxmeal “eggs” to stand for about 15 minutes, until they have an “egg-like” consistency. You can grind your own flax seeds up to make the flaxmeal, or you can just buy Bob’s Red Mill Brand like I did (let’s make this easy as possible, shall we?).
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Allow your flaxseed “eggs” to chill for a little bit. Do a dance. Make yourself a cup of tea. Stretch out in dancer’s pose. Whatev. You’ve got 15 or minutes to do YOU. πŸ˜‰

Step Two: If your butter is coming straight out of the fridge, or if you just pulled it off the shelf in Stop N’Shop, place into a microwave safe bowl and give a good nuke to soften it (15 – 20 seconds should do it). Pour into the a stand-alone mixer or large bowl, and add the powdered sugar. Cream the butter and sugar using the mixer (whatever kind you like to use).
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Whooopsie! I forgot and added vanilla and almond extract before I took a picture of the creamed butter. Welp, my vegan marg was pretty much completely melted – but that’s ok because you put the whole dang thing in the fridge and let it chill for an hour or more. It’ll stiffen right up to where it needs to be after that, so it’s okay if your butter/sugar looks a little melty.

Step Three: Add the vanilla and almond extract and the flaxmeal “eggs”, beat well until combined.
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Vegan marg, sugar, flaxmeal “eggs” and vanilla/almond extract mixed in. If you don’t love the flax seed chunks, tough nuggets. Just kidding – you can just grind them down to a finer powder. Also, I think golden flaxmeal exists too, maybe try that? I’m not really offended by it so I just go with the flow, man.

Step Four: Turn the mixing speed to low and slowly add the flour in small portions (trust me, you do not want to dump it all in at once, or you will antique yourself – if you have no idea what I’m talking about, YouTube “Antiquing Flour Prank” and you’ll get a nice giggle. Otherwise you’ll look like the president of the frat diagonally across from my sorority house who once upon a time was antiqued in a very epic and elaborate fashion – you know who you are.)
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I slowly scoop my flour into the mixer using a big spoon, let it completely fold into the dough, then add some more. It takes a hot minute, so put on some good tunes and jam while you patiently add the flour.

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Here’s what my dough looked like at the end. It was still pretty flexible, which will be fixed by chilling it in the fridge for at least an hour before rolling.

Step Five: Once all the ingredients are happily mixed, knead the dough to combine and roll it into a bowl. Place that sucker into an airtight container (or plastic ziploc) and put it into the fridge for at least an hour to chill. I personally stopped here – the rolling and cookie cutting will be done on Christmas Eve in Southern Connecticut!
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Since I’m only semi Vegan Betty Crocker, instead of baking these cookies, I just scooped all that gorgeous vegan cookie dough right into an airtight container. To make my life that much easier, I wrote the remaining directions right out on an index card and taped it to the top of the container. And done.

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Step Six: Preheat the oven to 400Β°F. Line two cookie sheets with sil-pat liners or parchment paper, or really roll the dice and spray with nonstick spray and set them aside. Knead 1/2 of the dough for 10 seconds or so to make it more pliable (really get in there – use those muscles!!). With a rolling pin, roll it flat onto a clean, floured surface until it’s 1/4 inch-ish in thickness. (The flour is key so that your cookie dough doesn’t stick to the counter and turn you into a sad panda).
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L’s Mom in action rolling out the dough. We split our cookie dough in sections, and kept the sections we weren’t working on the in the freezer. The colder the dough was, we found the easier to roll it and cut out shapes. Once the dough warms up, it gets really pliable and difficult to work with.

Step Seven: The best part, woohoo!! Using cookie cutters, cut out shapes, and place cookies on the parchment paper.
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Go to town cutting shapes out! It helps if you dip your cookie cutters into a little pile of flour to help them come out of the dough easier (that’s a Tip from Mom right there – she’s the cookie cutting master!!).

Step Eight: Bake for 6 to 8 minutes (keep your eye on the ball – watch carefully to make sure the edges don’t brown). Allow them to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before attempting to remove them (it helps prevent them from breaking apart).
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It depends on your oven and how “done” you like your sugar cookies, we baked ours for eight minutes. Also to note, we had no trouble getting them off cookie sheets that were plain – no baking spray, no Silpat or parchment paper. As long as your cookie sheets are in good shape, it should be a piece of cake to remove them! πŸ™‚

Step Nine: Allow to cool completely, and try not to eat them all before you can frost them. πŸ˜‰
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After the sugar cookies have cooled for a few minutes on the cookie sheet, transfer to a wire rack to allow them to cool completely before frosting.

Step Ten: Mix together the ingredients for the icing to your desired consistency, and decorate however you want! Obviously, adjust the soymilk/powdered sugar ratios until it’s just right for you. Personally, we divide the frosting in a few smaller bowls and add food coloring (I’m sure there is natural food coloring and sprinkles that exist, but I just use the kind you find in the baking aisle). You can even make this super fun and “healthy” by adding coconut flakes, raw cacao nibs – whatever you’d like in addition or instead of sprinkles. What the hell – why not throw some chia seeds on there? Experiment, and most importantly, have FUN! πŸ˜€
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The best part: have fun decorating! Here my sister and bro-in-law are modeling our efforts. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ Get creative and crazy!! πŸ˜€

These are seriously some of my favorite things to make for Christmas! I truly hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does, and I hope that I’ve inspired you guys to be easy on yourselves this holiday. Make stuff ahead. Don’t stress. We are all superwoman/superman (duhhh), but it doesn’t all have to be perfect all the time. You’ll never remember that stuff anyway. You WILL remember hugging your mom, or playing with your nephew, or laughing with your sister over a glass of wine. If it’s not perfect, who cares. Your family loves you just the way you are! πŸ˜€ K I’m off my soapbox now. But you guys are truly great, and I’m just here to remind you every now and then. πŸ˜€

Sending Christmas/Holiday/Hanukkah Spirit your way today! Happy Monday, too!

With warmth,

L

xox ❀

Raw Vegan/Paleo/Gluten-Free/F-in Awesome Pumpkin Pie

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Raw Vegan/Paleo/Gluten-Free/F-in Awesome Pumpkin Pie πŸ˜€

You do not have to bake this pie. I repeat, you do not have to bake this pie. This is not a test. It’s prime time folks, the countdown to Thanksgiving is closing to Go Time, and it’s all happening. While you’re getting ready to have family/friends over, lacing up your sneakers for your Turkey Trot, or looking at a staggering To Do food-prep list, I am here bearing gifts. An unbelievably easy, NO BAKE!, raw vegan, paleo, gluten-free pumpkin pie (that’s full of fiber, and lower in cholesterol and sodium, even if not significantly less in calories, ~300 calories per slice/the amount of calories you’ll burn off during your 5K Turkey Trot). It’s an across the board people pleaser AND super easy to make (pretty much the best thing you can ask for during the holidays). It has a little something for everybody: there are no excuses to NOT eat this pie (egg, dairy and wheat-free). And best of all – it’s DELICIOUS (/f***ing awesome, but we all know Mom doesn’t like those curses)!

The only caveat is that you need a food processor (or something intense enough to chop up whole nuts) and a blender. Other than that, it’s easy as pie, really. πŸ˜‰ (Yup I just did that).

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Here’s what you need: Raisins, a banana, almond milk, 2 cans of pumpkin, raw almonds, pitted dates, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, chopped pecans, shredded coconut and coconut oil.

I made this pie while still wearing PJs at 1 pm yesterday afternoon, and was blasting old school Hip Hop jams loud enough to be heard over the food processor (and dancing up a storm – there’s video evidence on Snapchat). Cooking should be fun, especially around the holidays when life gets a little crazy and stressful. So, the only thing I ask is that you do what you can to have fun while you’re whipping this sucker up. If you make it with a smile, it tastes better. I swear. πŸ˜€

Raw Vegan/Paleo/Gluten Free/F-in Awesome Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw pecans (/hazelnuts…my pecans were already open from the pumpkin muffins so I just used those)
  • 3/4 cup dates (about 18 medium), pitted
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup raw, unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • A sprinkle of sea salt, if desired

Filling:

  • 2 cans (16 oz) pureed pumpkin (or 4 cups of cooked sugar pumpkin)
  • 10 dates, pitted
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • A small handful (~1/4 cup) raw, unsweetened, shredded coconut, for topping

Directions:

Step One: Prepare the Crust. In a food processor, add all of the crust ingredients and blend until crumbly (~1 minute of mix time). While mixing, break it down and dance your socks off.
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All the crust ingredients before blending.

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After blending – try not to eat all of the crust. You could form the mixture into balls and eat them plain, because it is so delicious! You want a little bit of uniform texture remaining but no large chunks.

Step Two: Pour the “dough” into a 9″ pie pan, and form it into a crust by pressing it down with your fingers. Don’t forget the sides! When you’re done, place into the fridge while you make the filling.
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Make sure you hand-form your crust all the way up the sides of your 9″ pie pan.

Step Three: Prepare the filling. In a blender, add all of your filling ingredients (minus the coconut topping). Give it a good stir to incorporate the spices throughout prior to blending. Blend until smooth (~a few mins). Dancing while blending is encouraged.
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Before blending, give all your ingredients a quick stir to incorporate the spices. It helps decrease overall blending time. πŸ™‚

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After the filling has been blasted in the blender, it should have a velvety-smooth texture, but not be soupy. If you find it a little too soupy, add half of a banana to firm it up.

Step Four: Transfer the filling into the crust. Scoop all of the filling out of the blender into the crust and smooth out so it fill the pan from edge to edge. Sprinkle the coconut on top, and place into the fridge to chill for a few hours.
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Go ahead a take a lick. The filling is soooo good! YUM! I wanted to save some for overnight oats topping but alas, I licked that whole blender clean.

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Hopefully you all have better pastry chef skills than I do, and smooth it out with a little more finesse (I think I was more concerned with my kitchen dance party at that point). However you do it, it’s still going to be DAMN delicious!

Step Five: Enjoy!! πŸ˜€ (I mean, it’s pretty freakin’ amazing, so it’s impossible not to). πŸ˜‰
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I put Saran wrap on mine and placed it into the fridge. If this pie is traveling with you, you may need to “re-smooth” the top when you get there so it doesn’t look too busted, because the Saran wrap will probably stick to the top, so wrap it as tight as possible to prevent that from happening.

Um, this pie is so legit. You guys are going to LOVE IT! I am a big fan of pumpkin pie, and this one tastes even better than a traditional pumpkin pie. There are no words to describe just how amazing that crust is, so you’re going to have to try it out and experience it firsthand. YUM. I brought this pie into work today to get feedback from my non-vegan, non-paleo, non-gluten free co-workers as a dry-run before I whip this guy up again for Thanksgiving. So, check back here later today for their reactions. I’m pretty stoked, since they all think I’m a little out there with my veg/super healthy/run obsessed lifestyle, so I CANNOT wait to see their faces when they try it and realize just how amazing it is – <<insert cackle here>>. Is it lunch time yet??

I hope that you guys have an AMAZING Monday today, and try to find your little space of zen in the craziness of Thanksgiving week. I went to yoga last night so I am feeling the power today – ba-BAM! I am ready, and I will send all of you my overflowing positive vibes today.

Love, warmth & stellar vibes,

L ❀ xo

PS: Happy Birthday Dad!! You’re the best, I love you!! ❀ ❀ ❀ ❀

How to Fix a Sh*tty Smoothie

PicFrameSometimes, even with our best intentions and springboard from which to start, our best-foot-forward effort ends up in an undesirable mess. Such as it goes with life, and with smoothies. I recently sent my bff B a step-by-step dissertation of how to fix a sh*tty smoothie via iMessage (emojis and all). It all started because I wanted to try a new vegan protein powder. I usually use whey to prot-ify my smoothies, but the guts can’t hack whey powder AND a Greek yogurt in the same day (no bueno). So I turned to my friend Amazon Prime (since I have no time to go peruse a natural foods store during my lunch break, when I would rather just eat my lunch) and checked out their vegan protein powder selection. Wow! I was impressed. Unsurprisingly, they literally have EVERYTHING. Amazon, you’re killing it! The Amazon reviewers however: you are in the doghouse for leading me astray (“Great tasting and it blends well!” and “I have tried several other protein powders and this is the best one by far.” —> Um, no. You cray!). I had three criteria for the vegan protein powder when I was ordering: a) is not ridiculously expensive; b) does not come in anything larger than 1 lb in case I hate it and c) reviewers gave it 4 stars or higher. I chose two brands, one was phenomenal (which I posted about in the Vegan Pumpkin Protein Power Muffins) and the other one was BAD. Like, really bad. Chalky, no vanilla flavor (instead a very unappealing flavor in its place), bleh – literally wanted to spit my smoothie out. It was that bad. Like a lot of my peers (that’s you guys!), my grandparents grew up during the Depression so wasting food is a major sin in my household. Unless it’s literally rancid, it’s going to get eaten and not wasted. Thus, Operation Smoothie Saving was in order.

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The start of the smoothie fail. Before I even knew just how bad it was.

To start, the following ingredients were in my smoothie:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup of frozen mixed berries
  • 1/4 cup of pureed pumpkin
  • 1 scoop of the evil vegan vanilla protein powder
  • A few shakes of cinnamon
  • Unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • Flax seeds

(Pretty legit start, right?? You would think that this smoothie would be awesome, since I’ve posted my love for this combination previously, and generally speaking, it f**king rocks. But you would be wrong. The chalkiness of the protein powder overwhelmed all the other flavors. BIG womp).

Operation Smoothie Saving to the rescue!

Step One: Add spice. I already had cinnamon in there, so I added even more cinnamon, as well as cloves and nutmeg. I then re-blended the smoothie.

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This is the “beginning” smoothie phot. I added even MORE cinnamon, plus cloves and nutmeg. Still – awful.

Result: I can still taste that f-ed up protein powder! Whaaaat.

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You think this would be amaze-balls, right? Wrong. It was horrendous.

Step Two: Time to bring out the big guns. Add Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder AND cayenne pepper. Throw in a few chunks of crystallized ginger (I had no fresh, but fresh ginger root would be even better!) – because, why not. At this point, it can’t get any worse.

photo 4Result: Much better. Aaaaah, smoothie nirvana achieved. πŸ˜€

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Lucky for us, dark chocolate cocoa powder, cayenne and ginger are a fantastic combo. And, if enough is added, they completely and utterly negate any sh*tty vegan protein powder aftertaste. Praise the powers that be!

So, life lesson of the day. Do not give up on your sh*tty smoothie. Fight to the bitter end.

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Top that puppy with some cinnamon and call it a day. Operation Smoothie Saving = success! πŸ˜€ After all the additions, this smoothie ended up being MAJ.

With that, it’s ALMOST Friday! Wooohooo! I hope you all are smiling today. ❀

xoxox

L

PS: Mom, I know I’m killing you with all the swears right now, but I can’t help it. Blame Dad. πŸ˜›

Vegan Pumpkin Protein Power Muffins

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Try not to lick your screen: Vegan Pumpkin Protein Power Muffins. πŸ˜›

As promised, I spent some serious time this weekend in L’s Test Kitchen and perfected a vegan version of the Pumpkin Protein Power Muffins I posted last week. So, for my vegan peeps waiting with bated breath for the vegan version – your wait is no longer! (Insert jump for joy). I actually think this version is BETTER (if that’s even possible) than the non-vegan version. It’s just as simple too, woohoo!

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Ingredients for Vegan Pumpkin Protein Power Muffins: cocoa nibs (mine didn’t come in time from Amazon, so I used the same chocolate chips as in the previous recipe – just pretend they are nibs), vanilla extract, vegan vanilla protein powder, applesauce, pumpkin, pecans, coconut flour, rolled oats, flax/chia blend for egg substitutes, pumpkin spice and maple syrup. All that’s missing is the diced apple, and you’re good to go!

Vegan Pumpkin Protein Power Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 can pumpkin (16 oz)
  • 1 cup diced apple (about 1 regular sized apple)
  • Milled flax seed egg substitute (x 2)*
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao nibs
  • 1/2 cup diced pecans
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour (Or whatever kind of flour you like/have)
  • 1 cup applesauce (~the amount in two single-serve applesauce cups)
  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder (I used Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein in Vanilla)
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

*For Milled Flax Seed egg substitute (per one egg): Mix 1 heaping Tbsp flax seed meal (or milled flax seed – it’s the same thing) with 3 Tbsp of warm water. Stir, and allow to sit while you combine all the remaining ingredients so it can “set” up. This also works with chia seeds, and I’ve used it with a pretty dope Milled Flax and chia store-bought mixture as well.

Directions:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350Β°F. Make two Milled Flax Seed egg substitutes and set aside.
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I put each of my egg substitute mixtures in their own separate small bowls so they can “set up”. To make each substitute, add 1 heaping tablespoon of milled flax into the bowl, and add 3 tablespoons of water.

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Once the warm water has been added, stir the milled flax well and allow to sit for a few minutes before adding to the batter.

Step 2: Throw all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
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Add all of your ingredients into a large mixing bowl while you’re waiting for your flax seed egg subs to “set up” just right.

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Once you’ve gotten all your ingredients prepped and into the bowl, add the flax seed mixture.

Step 3: Mix all of the ingredients until all of the dry ingredients are wetted and well incorporated into the batter.
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Stir well to incorporate all the ingredients. If you batter looks a little dry, you can add a little extra applesauce or a little extra warm water – either will do the trick.

Step 4: Distribute evenly into a greased muffin tin (or use a liner). This time, I just used plain paper liners and they worked just fine.
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When forming the muffins in the muffin tin, I used a large spoon to scoop batter directly into the liners. Then, I used my fingers to press the batter down into the liner to fill it out completely. These muffins are dense, and don’t puff up as much. You’ll want to press down firm and pack them into the liner to remove any existing air bubbles and voids.

Step 5: Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
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This recipe made a solid baker’s dozen of muffins. Yum, yum!

Step 6: Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Makes approximately a dozen muffins. Enjoy!! πŸ˜€
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Once baked, the tops of the muffins should be a golden brown and a little crispy. Make sure that they are cooked all the way through or they will be mushy on the inside, and nobody wants that.

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Wait for your muffins to cool 10 minutes before enjoying! πŸ™‚

These little guys feel like a very decadent and rich dessert, but are packed with protein and fiber to keep you full. They are perfectly sized for snacking, a quick breakfast, or a great after workout (or pre-run) snack. I currently have two in a ziploc baggie in my purse for on-the-go snacking (don’t tell anyone, because these are too good to share). πŸ˜‰

I really found this vegan version to be even tastier than the vegetarian version I posted. They are a little crumblier, but they are still super moist and delicious. YUM! Grab one of these with a Chai tea, or a latte and you’ve got yourself the perfect afternoon treat. Enjoy! πŸ˜€

Hope you are all having a fantastic Tuesday, wherever you may be! πŸ™‚ ❀

xoxox

L