Alter Eco (Review+Giveaway)

I can’t tell you how excited I am to do my first official review and giveaway on my blog! I’ve always loved entering giveaways on other blogs so now’s my chance to give back…and one of you gets the chance to win some really delicious stuff. Let’s get to it!

Alter Eco is a company that works with small-scale farmers all over the world to produce the products they sell. All their products are responsible–socially, environmentally and health-wise, and they’re organic, fair trade and minimally processed. I love supporting a company that does the right thing for people and the environment, no matter the cost. October is actually Fair Trade Month, so what better way to celebrate than with a fair trade product?

Of course, the food has to taste good if I’m going to buy it. I actually have bought Alter Eco products before I was contacted by them to do a review and giveaway, so I knew ahead of time that I like what they have to offer. However, I had no idea that they had so many products, including grains and sugar.

In my review box, I was sent royal rainbow quinoa, Hom Mali jasmine rice, mascobado cane sugar; dark coconut toffee, dark quinoa, dark blackout and dark almond chocolate. Can you say yum?! I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get my favorite dark mint chocolate bar but I was excited to try their new-to-me products.

The goods. Thanks, Alter Eco!

I started with the chocolates, being the chocolate lover that I am. Unfortunately, I couldn’t try the coconut toffee chocolate bar because it’s not vegan (it has butter and whole milk powder) but it sounded delicious and I’m sure my family will enjoy it! As far as the other bars go, they were all great. I’ve had the quinoa bar before but it never gets old, with its little crispy bites of quinoa mixed throughout. The almond bar was good with a hint of sweetness, and I think it would have been even better with a touch of sea salt. And the blackout bar was really rich and fruity, and not too bitter for an 85% cocoa content bar.

The quinoa was really delicious and nutty, but my favorite part was the color. I’ve only ever had pearl quinoa before (the beige kind) so it was cool to try quinoa with shades of red and brown. So far, I’ve used it to make breakfast quinoa bowls (mixed with almond milk and protein powder and topped with nut butter and fruit) and also the pumpkin spice latte quinoa granola I shared with you last week. I’m planning on buying this quinoa from now on because it’s so colorful and I like that it’s organic.

The color makes this quinoa granola even better!

I really love Alter Eco and their mission to be fair and sustainable while still making tasty products. The best part is, their stuff is fairly inexpensive and can be found at Whole Foods and other health food stores. If you want to know more, you can check out their Facebook and Twitter pages!

The winner will be chosen on Monday, October 8th at 12 pm using a random number generator so you have until then to enter! All you need to to do to enter is leave a comment on this post telling me what Alter Eco product you’d like to try most (check out their website to see all they have to offer). For extra entries, you can follow me on Twitter @fashion_ash or follow my blog on WordPress and just leave a comment saying you did that. Good luck!

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Best Discoveries This Year

Before I start this post, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the tragic shooting that occurred just a few days ago in Aurora, CO. It’s always hard to hear and read about these horribly sad events, but even more so when they happen in your own state, only about an hour’s drive away from where I live. Please keep all the victims and their families in your thoughts and prayers!

Now onto something lighter! Yes, I realize it’s not the end of the year yet–but it will be soon if the year keeps flying by like it has–but since my birthday is just around the corner, it kinda feels like a new year for me.

Anyways, I’ve made a lot of new purchases and discoveries since last July 27th so here are some of the best! They’re not all food related but knowing me, most of them are 😉

Whole Foods Hot/Cold Bars

The most recent edition, and one of my favorites so far!

Honestly, if I could, I would eat at Whole Foods once a week, it’s just that good! But $7 salad boxes just aren’t in my budget so I’ve only had them about 5 times over the past year. But each one is amazingly delicious, and I can always find something new. Oh, and I never stick with the boring spinach leaves and black olives…no, I load my boxes up with flavored tofu (they have the best stuff), cold veggie salads, fresh fruit and yummy grains. They never disappoint!

LabelBox (and Phonto)

I love all the colors!

Move over, Instagram, you’re old news! LabelBox and Phonto are the perfect way to jazz up your Instagram’d photos and if you’re as much of a font nerd as I am, you won’t be able to live without them. Plus they’re free, and who doesn’t like free?

Veganism

Who says vegan foods have to be boring and tasteless?

My decision to go vegan a little less than a year ago has been seriously life-changing. During my eating disordered days, I relied on low-cal, low-fat things too much because I thought they were ‘healthy’. Now as a vegan I’m eating mostly whole foods and minimally processed foods, with plenty of nuts, grains like quinoa and oats and tempeh, all things I never would have touched a few years ago. I feel healthier, happier and more vibrant. I feel okay treating myself to things like coconut milk ice cream and tons of guacamole because they have health benefits and make my life better. Not to mention, I’ve become more creative in the kitchen and ordering things at non-vegan restaurants. I am not 100% vegan, as I do enjoy gelato or froyo and honey on occasion, but I know I’m doing a good thing for the animals, the environment and myself and that’s why I continue to do it.

Pinterest

I still want this for my apartment!

I don’t go on this as much as I should (or could?) but I still love how inspirational it is. I pin a lot of fashion and decor stuff and when I’m done, I get some closet and apartment inspiration. Sure, some of it is unrealistic but it’s so fun!

Kale

Kale: a nutritious part of this complete dinner!

How did I not discover what’s become my favorite veggie until February? I first tried this superfood in kale chip form and was hooked. I didn’t love it raw at first but when I figured out you have to massage a dressing or sauce into it, I fell in love. It’s also really great crisped up in a dry skillet with salt, pepper and garlic. Basically it’s awesome no matter how you use it, and I love that I feel like a superhero when I eat it!

Zevia

My second-fave flavor so far. This root beer’s got a bite!

I’ve never been a big soda drinker, but I would always always always stick to diet versions. But all that fake sweetener isn’t the best and it gives me headaches. So I went soda-less for awhile, until I stumbled upon Zevia. I love stevia as a sweetener and thought why not. Yeah, $5 or 6 is kinda a lot for a 6-pack, but it’s worth it for a 0 calorie natural soda. The cream soda is the bomb, and I also love the cola and root beer. Still have yet to find the lime cola and strawberry but I’m on the hunt!

Bold Shorts

Dark grey and hot pink make a perfect outfit!

I’ve never been one to shy away from bright colors, but I wasn’t so sure about the neon shorts trend. Luckily I got over that quickly because I love my hot pink shorts! They’re fun and different while still being polished and pretty. I’m planning on investing in a few more pairs of bright shorts (and some bright jeggings) before the summer’s over!

Sweet Quinoa

I need to have this deliciousness from breakfast again soon!

Who knew quinoa could be tasty for dinner and breakfast? I was skeptical at first but after seeing some mouthwatering breakfast quinoa pictures on Instagram, I knew I needed to try it for myself. And now I’ve got a new breakfast obsession, along with fluffy homemade waffles and overnight oats. Give them a try if you haven’t already, they’re worth the weird stares you might get from people 😛

What’s one of your best discoveries from the past year? What’s your favorite veggie?

Friday Faves (June 8th)

Is it just me or did this week go by super fast? I guess staying busy will do that to you–I’ve been going to my internship, grocery shopping and packing for an upcoming move. I’ve barely had time to whip up any recipes lately so sorry for the lack of them this week!

Favorite Find: Fruit Infusion Pitcher

Who wouldn’t want fruit infused water?

I saw this baby at Target–aka, the store I could spend hours in looking at all of their stuff, especially their kitchen and patio stuff. This pitcher is really cool because you just put fruit in the inner cylinder and it infuses the plain water with it. So basically like juice but without the added sugar. How cool is that?!

Favorite Video: S*** Vegans Say

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the S*** ________ Say video series. This one and it’s sequel are flipping hilarious because I have definitely said some of those things before. Even if you aren’t vegan, you’ll probably find it funny because a lot of the stuff mentioned is pretty popular around the blog world. And maybe you’ve even said some of those things before yourself 😛

Favorite Breakfast

Chilled quinoa mixed with u/s vanilla almond milk and vanilla stevia, topped with peanut flour, raisins, sunflower seeds almond peanut cashew butter, chocolate chips and drizzle honey vanilla agave.

Move over, overnight oats! Overnight quinoa is where it’s at. When I first made this, I was worried it would turn out weird. But it’s actually really really good and a nice change from oats. The toppings are what make it, though!

Favorite Buy: Harbor Beach pinstriped skirt from Hollister

Mine is actually orange-striped, but you get the idea.

For such a girly girl, you’d think I’d own more skirts. I actually only have 6, not including my latest purchase. I love this one though because it has a summery, nautical feel and it feels fun to twirl around in. Yes, I am 5 years old, apparently.

What breakfast are you loving lately? What’s the best thing you’ve ever found at Target?

Summer (Recipe) Lovin’

Anyone catch the Grease reference? Ironically, my sister’s auditioning for it in the fall at her school since she’s really into musical theatre. I’m actually not even sure if I’ve ever seen the entire movie, but I have definitely heard some of the songs from it.

Anyways, I’ve been doing a lot of recipe experimentation lately and it’s all been pretty successful. Well, okay I did attempt to make Katie’s deep dish cookie pie and it turned out alright, except it tasted a little beany and it didn’t last very long even inside a Ziploc bag without starting to get moisture inside the bag so I had to toss them. But everything else has been not just edible but pretty delicious. Note: All of these are my own recipes, except where I gave credit to the original.

These tiny bites are addicting!

I know I said before that I’m a bigger fan of cookies ‘n cream, but I couldn’t pass up these cookie dough bites I saw on Angela’s blog. If you’ve ever wanted to eat cookie dough but didn’t want to get sick from the raw eggs, these little bites are perfect because they’re vegan, so no eggs involved! But they taste exactly like raw cookie dough and are super simple to make.

Cookie Dough Bites (vegan)

Adapted from Oh She Glows

1/4 cup raw cashew pieces

2 tbsp rolled oats

2 tbsp oat flour

sprinkle sea salt

8-10 drops vanilla stevia, to taste

2 tbsp honey vanilla agave (or plain agave)

1 tbsp semisweet vegan chocolate chips

In a food processor, blend cashews and oats until combined and flour-like in texture. Add in oat flour, salt and stevia drops until mixed. Add in agave until mixture comes together and is sticky. In a bowl, take cookie dough mixture and mix in chocolate chips by hand. Form into 8 to 10 small balls and keep in fridge until ready to eat.

Mocha softserve topped with peanut butter Puffins.

This one’s so simple it’s barely a recipe but I thought I’d share it anyway because it’s so good. If you’ve ever made banana softserve before and you’re a coffee fan, you’ll love this version. Just two ingredients and it tastes almost like coffee ice cream.

Mocha Softserve (vegan, gluten-free)

banana slices, frozen

1 tsp instant coffee powder (I used Starbucks’ VIA mocha instant coffee)

Blend banana slices in a food processor or high-powered blender until the slices clump together. Add in coffee powder and process until slices form into a big scoop that’s brownish in color. Serves 1.

Trust me, your wallet and your taste buds will thank you for this bowl!

If you’ve been to Chipotle and have ever had their burrito bowls, you’ll know that they are some of the best things ever. They are always my go-to when I get around to going there (it’s been almost a year since I last went!) because I love getting a bunch of random tasty things in a bowl. But then I made this Chipotle-inspired bowl and realized that it’s even better than the restaurant’s, in both taste and nutrition. Guess I won’t be wasting any of my hard-earned money there anytime soon 😉

Better-than-Chipotle Burrito Bowl (vegan, gluten-free, high protein)

1/3 cup cooked quinoa

cilantro, chopped

lime, quartered

1/2 cup beans (I used pinto, you can use black or whatever beans are your favorite)

kale, chopped and massaged with lemon juice and nooch

spoonful salsa

spoonful guacamole

Mix quinoa with cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice until combined. Add a pinch of sea salt if needed. Top with beans, kale, salsa, guacamole or whatever burrito bowl toppings are your favorites. Serves 1. 

Almost totally homemade cinnamon rolls!

About a year ago, I attempted to make Mama Pea’s cinnamon rolls, which are completely from scratch. Now usually I like making things from scratch and most of the time they turn out. Not this time, probably because I have nada experience with making bread that has to rise. I was still on the search for an easy vegan cinnamon roll recipe when I found out that you can make them using pizza dough. I had just gotten some fresh dough from Whole Foods the other day so I decided to put some of the dough to use in almost homemade cinnamon rolls. And they were a delicious success, not to mention totally easy. If you’re scared about making cinnamon rolls from scratch, this is the perfect recipe for you. Plus they’re really healthy–no butter or oil used, lightly sweetened with a natural sweetener and packed with nutritious grains like millet and oats (if you use multigrain pizza dough). What’s better than an easy, yummy and no-guilt breakfast?

Maple Pecan Cinnamon Rolls (vegan)

half ball of fresh multigrain pizza dough

1 tbsp agave or maple syrup (I used Ohgave! honey vanilla)

generous sprinkle cinnamon

handful chopped maple or regular pecans

oat flour (to flour surface)

Let pizza dough rise in a towel-covered bowl for at least one hour. Preheat oven to 375. Roll out risen dough on floured cutting board until about 1 inch thick and rectangular in shape. Mix agave and cinnamon in a small bowl until thick and paste-like and spread on dough. Sprinkle with pecans and roll into a thick log, pinching ends. Cut into 4 small rolls with a floured knife and place in sprayed baking dish. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until starting to brown on top. Serve warm from the oven topped with icing, cream cheese or vanilla almond butter. 

Quinoa power cookie (almost raw).

We just invested in a dehydrator, thanks to my obsession with dried fruit and how expensive that habit is. So far, I’ve made dried pineapple and kiwi…and these cookies. Yep, it’s true, you can make cookies in a dehydrator, and not just any cookies, but magical ones. Like ones made from simple, healthy ingredients like quinoa and almond butter. These babies are tiny but powerful…and delicious of course. They made my house smell like peanut butter and are crunchy and chewy at the same time. Oh, and if you’re dehydrator-less, you can make these in the oven at a low temp. I can’t vouch for how they’ll turn out, but the recipe I adapted them from said you can do that. I personally think it’s cooler making cookies in a dehydrator! Oh, and each cookie has less than 80 calories, so you can totally eat a few of them at a time without feeling guilty!

Quinoa Power Cookies (vegan, gluten-free)

Adapted from Insatiably Healthy

1 cup cooked quinoa

2 tbsp almond butter (I used almond peanut cashew butter)

2 tbsp agave (I used Ohgave! honey vanilla agave) or other liquid sweetener

2 tbsp rolled oats

2 tbsp peanut flour

1 tbsp ground flax-seed

1/2 tbsp sweetened cacao nibs

1 tbsp dark chocolate chips

In a large bowl, combine quinoa, almond butter and agave. Stir in oats, peanut flour and flax until mixture sticks together. Fold in cacao nibs and chocolate chips. Form into 10 small cookies and place on dehydrator trays. Cook on 115 F for 3-6 hours or until crunchy on the outside. 

What’s the best thing you’ve made lately? What’s your go-to Chipotle order?

Easter Weekend in Pictures

Hi bloggy friends! I hope you all had a lovely Easter/Passover weekend (if you celebrate). Mine was really really good, but as usual, it went by super fast and it’s back to the daily grind. The only good thing about that is that the countdown is officially on–4 weeks til I’m no longer a sophomore! Wooooooo 😀 I am beyond excited for summer and everything I have planned for it, plus all the little things that are sure to pop up. Just gotta get through these next few weeks.

I took a bunch (well, not really) of pictures this weekend so I wanted to do a mostly wordless recap of my Easter weekend. So here goes!

Small sweet potato topped with peanut flour paste and almond peanut cashew butter, garlicky kale, fresh strawberries, chocolate and peanut butter Puffins in unsweetened almond milk.

Look how bright those strawberries are! My mom bought a huge box of them at Whole Foods for only $5 and even though they started to go bad by the end of the weekend, I got to enjoy them several times over the weekend. They’re my first of the season and were really juicy and fresh. Definitely a sign that summer is on its way! The garlicky kale is a super simple dish that I whipped up three times this weekend–oh yeah, it’s that good!

Garlicky Kale (vegan, gluten-free)

large handful curly kale, washed and patted dry

1/2 tsp olive oil

1/2-1 tsp minced garlic (or freshly grated garlic clove)

sea salt, nutritional yeast and black pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add kale and salt and pepper, until the kale starts to shrink and gets crispy edges. Add garlic to pan and cook until fragrant and browned. Sprinkle nutritional yeast on top and serve as a side dish (makes 1 serving).

Saturday's outfit: navy striped cropped tee (Hollister), dark wash jeggings (American Eagle), necklace and bracelet (American Eagle).

Saturday was fairly busy but pretty fun. My sister and I went for a walk, then my dad and I popped in at my pastor’s house for his birthday open house and later my whole family went out to eat to celebrate my dad’s birthday a few days late. The restaurant wasn’t too vegan friendly, but I did get a yummy homemade-style black bean burger with a side of avocado and black bean salsa. Yum!

The lovely Easter eggs, post-dyeing.

Coloring Easter eggs is one of our family traditions. My sister didn’t join in on the fun this year because of homework, but I had fun dyeing the eggs. Do I have a future as an artist? Ummmm, probably not!

Easter outfit: yellow floral dress (Abercrombie and Fitch), bracelets and necklace (American Eagle), unpictured silver wedge sandals (Target).

Besides going to church on Easter (I always love the holiday services!), we also went to Starbucks where I got my new favorite unsweetened iced coffee, played tennis for 45 minutes, snacked outside in the gorgeous weather (sunny and in the low 70s), colored eggs, made a special dinner and Skyped with my grandma and grandpa.

This year's Easter basket!

My mom still hides Easter baskets for me and my sister…yes, we are still 5 years old! Haha, just kidding, but I still think it’s fun to go find the basket and see what’s in it. This year, I got some Sally Hansen Salon Effects nail strips (super excited about these!), some sparkly green nail polish, guava-scented body wash from Ulta, mini Sweet Tart bunnies/ducks/chicks and two new-to-me Chocolove dark chocolate bars. My mom knows me so well 😀

My Easter dinner: grilled chili lime tofu and mini sweet peppers, broiled lemon pepper asparagus (tops only, the best part) and cheezy quinoa (sprinkled with nooch).

While the rest of my family enjoyed their carnivorous dinner (flank steak, asparagus and cheesy mashed potatoes, in case you were wondering), I had a very vegan and very yummy dinner. It was my first time grilling tofu and I was a fan. I think next time I’d get extra firm, rather than super firm sprouted tofu, since it was kinda bitter, and I’d try out a marinade, rather than a seasoning on the outside. But still a really nice Easter dinner.

My new favorite 'ice cream': So Delicious mini Neapolitan nondairy ice cream sandwich.

I really wanted to try the new So Delicious almond milk ice cream sandwiches, but my Whole Foods didn’t have them. I did find these, which are soy ice cream, and actually really good, if really small. I haven’t had an ice cream sandwich in years, but these are better than regular dairy ice cream sandwiches. They also have coconut milk ice cream versions, if you like coconut milk.

Just what I needed on a Monday morning--Starbucks tall coffee light Frappuccino with soy.

Monday came early–at 6 am, to be exact. I wanted to stay all of Sunday so I could spend more time with my family, so my dad had to take me back up to school on Monday morning and we had to leave at 7. Luckily, we made a stop at Starbucks and I got my first Frapp in about six months. It was the perfect little pick-me-up!

How did you spend your weekend? What’s your go-to weekend lunch? 

Yum vs. Yuck

Everyone has them. A ‘yum’ and a ‘yuck’ list. Maybe they’re not actually written-down lists, but you know what foods you can’t live without and those that you wish would just disappear.

Here’s a few things I want to share from my own lists. Some of them have changed over the years, while some have stayed the same. Of course, it’s great to work on incorporating a lot of variety into our eats, but it’s okay to admit that there are some foods we just can’t stand.

Yuck!

  • Cottage cheese. I haven’t tried it recently, or very often, but the texture is just too sketchy for me. I much prefer Greek yogurt, thank you very much! Plus, now that I’m mostly vegan, I see no need to include it in my diet.
  • Green beans. It’s one of my mom’s favorite veggies, so I’ve been forced to have it throughout the years and it’s just never good. The only way I can stand them even a little bit is with tons of mustard!
  • Ketchup. I think I might have liked it as a kid, but now it’s just so gross to me! I mean, who wants a sweet condiment? Plus, I hate tomatoes (except in salsa) so it kind of explains my disdain for ketchup.
  • White potatoes. Give me a sweet potato any day and I’ll happily devour it. But a white potato–no thanks! They just make me really thirsty for some reason, and I really can’t stand them roasted.
  • Eggs. This one’s been on my list since I first tried them. Ick, ick ick! I think it’s the whole texture thing. I know they have a ton of protein, nutrients, blah blah blah but…just no.
  • Cheese. Used to like it as a kid, was scared to death of it during the worst of my ED, now I just think it’s disgusting. Soy and almond cheese, however, are sometimes part of my diet since they’re vegan-friendly and yummier than dairy cheese.

I prefer my pizzas with tons of veggies and NO cheese!

  • Coconut. Not quite sure how I feel about this one. Part of it is because it’s a “fear food” for me (because of the high sat fat content) but part of it is that it just weirds me out, especially in shredded form.
  • Pears/cherries/canteloupe. These are the only fruits that I’ve tried (and can think of) that I just don’t like. Cherries are too sour, but I’m okay with dried cherries, pears are just too squishy and canteloupe is bleh, not to mention that whole scare that happened over the fall with them–the farm traced to it is only 2 hours away from me 😯

The only way I'll eat cherries is in overnight oats.

  • Cashews. I like a lot of nuts, from almonds to walnuts to pecans to pistachios but there’s just something off with cashews for me. I do want to try them in a raw cashew cheezecake, though!

Yum!

  • Medjool dates. Actually, I had never tried these until about a year ago, and I fell in love. They’re so sweet, with an almost caramel taste and an amazing soft texture. Now I love them stuffed with almond butter, dark chocolate or used in raw desserts.
  • Unsweetened almond milk. The blog world helped me discover this, and I’m forever thankful. It’s so deliciously creamy and makes the perfect base for smoothies. I looooooove the vanilla kind, but I want to try Almond Breeze’s unsweetened chocolate kind.
  • Rolled oats. Another blog world find. I never used to like oatmeal as a kid, since it was too mushy, but once I figured out how to make it overnight (and voluminous) style, I was hooked. Now I get a perfect, chewy bowl of oats practically every day. And the topping/flavor combos are almost endless.

Carrot cake oats are one of my current fave combos!

  • Brussels sprouts. I grew up thinking they were beyond nasty, even though I’d never had them before, because they just had a negative connotation. I tried them for the first time this fall, and they are so good grilled or roasted with a little olive oil and some salt and pepper.
  • Cilantro. I know some people can’t stand the taste of it, but it’s my favorite herb!
  • Almond butter. This one is a pre-blog discovery, and it’s stuck with me ever since. I’ve never been a fan of peanut butter, even as a kid (I would always eat jelly-only sandwiches–yeah, I was weird) but almond butter is a whole different story. Now I also love walnut butter, pecan butter and almond peanut cashew butter.
  • Tropical fruits. I love practically all fruits, but this is probably my favorite group. Pineapples, bananas, mangos, kiwi, limequat, pomegranate, tangerine, watermelon…I love all the kinds I’ve tried and I still want to try even more!
  • Quinoa. I had this for the first time several years ago, when my cousins introduced it to us. They lived in South Africa for a year and quinoa’s really popular there and as soon as I tried it, I was hooked on the fluffy texture and nutty flavor. I also love that it’s so versatile and is a complete vegan protein source.
  • Edamame. I know some people say soy is unhealthy, but I just can’t get enough of edamame! It’s so good in stirfrys and I love getting it in the pod at Asian restaurants. And it has tons of healthy plant protein!

Edamame guacamole, ready to be mixed.

What’s one thing on your yum or yuck list? Have you tried anything lately that moved from one list to the other?

WIAW: What I’ve Been Making

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving to all my fellow U.S. bloggers! Are you excited for the big day? I know I am, since I’m planning on making a few things for the meal.

I wasn’t exactly planning on doing a WIAW post this week–in fact, it almost slipped my mind! But I did promise you guys a few recipes, so I decided that a WIAW post could be good for that. I know it’s kinda cheating, but I did eat them all on Tuesday, so it’s just a shorter version of my usual WIAWs.

Peas and Crayons

I was totally inspired by my pumpkin s’more from Monday night, so I decided to recreate it in oats form. I made a batch of plain volume oats, heated it up in the a.m. and topped with a teaspoon of vegan chocolate chips, a couple of mini marshmallows and a square of graham cracker. I loved how the chocolate and marshmallows melted into the oats. Probably my best oat creation to date!

S'mores in a bowl!

Remember those festive garland bars from WIAW a couple of weeks ago? Well, I made them and they turned out fabulously good. I’m so glad that I’ve finally been able to make a baked treat that turned out perfect. Plus, they’re completely vegan!

Sweet, salty, pumpkin-y and chocolate-y.

Festive Garland Bars (vegan)

1/2 c oat flour

3/4 t baking powder

1/4 t salt

1/8 t baking soda

1/3 c dried cranberries

1/3 c vegan chocolate chips

1/3 c maple syrup

1/4 c pumpkin puree

1 c Whole Foods popcorn or kettle corn

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with PAM; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; add 3 T cranberries and 3 T chocolate chips and toss to coat. In a large bowl, mix maple syrup and pumpkin until combined. Add flour mixture and stir together until combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan and bake until just cooked through and golden brown, about 20 minutes; set aside to let cool. Melt remaining chocolate chunks. Spread 2/3 of melted chocolate over bars and immediately scatter remaining cranberries and popcorn over the top, pressing down gently to help adhere. Drizzle remaining chocolate over bars. Set aside until chocolate sets, about 15 minutes; cut into squares and serve immediately.

This dessert was definitely a turning point for me, as far as my ED goes. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but one of my biggest fear foods is chocolate. I love dark chocolate, but I can’t eat it straight-up, it has to be in cocoa powder form or something. I’m mostly scared of the saturated fat in it, which is ridiculous. I don’t eat very much sat fat, maybe 2 grams a day, so it scares me that just a tablespoon of chocolate chips has 2 1/2 grams. But I used 6 whole tablespoons of vegan chocolate chips in these bars, so there’s a little over 1/2 a tablespoon of chocolate per square. I gotta be honest, I loved these little bars, but the chocolate did make me feel a little guilty, especially since I already had a teaspoon earlier. I know this probably sounds completely ridiculous, but I’m working on feeling okay with eating chocolate, one teaspoon at a time.

The main ingredients of the most amazing bars!

Later, I made dinner for me and my parents. My mom ended up not liking it, but she hates squash for some reason! Crazy woman 😉 This recipe is not vegan, because it has shrimp, but if you don’t eat seafood like I do on occasion, then you can definitely sub tofu or even just chickpeas.

I love my orange overload dinners!

Butternut and Pumpkin Curry with Quinoa

1 butternut squash, cut into small cubes

1 c unsweetened plain almond milk

1 c vegetable broth

1 lb raw shrimp

1 T red curry paste

1/4-1/2 c pumpkin puree

1/2 yellow onion

1 t minced garlic

1 t ground ginger

1 cup quinoa (dry)

Chop up onion and toss in pot with garlic and a teaspoon of olive oil. Cook on medium heat until onion is fragrant and translucent. Add red curry paste to taste, and cook for a few more minutes. Add veggie broth, almond milk, pumpkin, ginger and squash and cook until boiling. Cover and let simmer for 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook quinoa in 2 cups of water (for about 15-20 minutes on medium low heat), and cook shrimp in a pan until pink. Set quinoa aside and add shrimp to curry. Cook for a few more minutes, then serve on top of quinoa. Makes 4-5 servings.

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