Black Bean Broccoli No-Meatballs

With my current work schedule, I have Wednesdays off. This is something I’m still getting used to — not getting up for work in the middle of the week — but that I’m also kind of enjoying.

The odd schedule has also given me some extra time to work on my own recipe ideas. This one came about as a result of my last Wednesday off, and the result was absolutely delightful!

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Here is my vegan meat ball recipe. I also cooked some linguine with diced tomato sauce to go with them, but I bet they would also be awesome with pasta sauce in a meatball sub!

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Black Bean Broccoli No-Meat Balls

Adapted from Everyday Happy Herbivore‘s Veggie, Bean, & Quinoa Croquettes

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup broccoli florets, minced/chopped
1 3/4 cups black beans, cooked
1/2 onion, minced
2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 wheat gluten
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsps veggie broth
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 cup quinoa, cooked
2 tbsps Bragg’s liquid aminos (or low-sodium soy sauce)
1 tbsp barbecue sauce
2 tsps Dijon mustard

How-to:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, mash black beans until no full beans are left. Add all other ingredients to the bowl and mix with hands until fully incorporated.

3. Roll into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and place on baking sheet.

4. Bake for about 35 minutes, until balls are firm.

Enjoy!

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I was a February Foodie Pen Pal!

Last month I got to participate in something awesome: a cool program known as Foodie Pen Pals! Held by Lindsay over at The Lean Green Bean, it’s basically a way for foodies to send each other goodies from wherever they are. It was so much fun, and I loved being a part of this.

The person selected to be my pen pal and send me goodies was Heather, who has a blog called Happy and Simple which you should check out HERE. I must say I was EXTREMELY pleased and excited with my goodie box!

A picture of the items I received:

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From left to right, they were: organic dried banana chips, sunflower seed butter, homemade vegan brownies (!!!), and a recipe and ingredients for homemade oat pecan burgers!

There was also a nice little card from Heather explaining the items, since one guideline of FPP is to include something written 🙂

I thoroughly enjoyed all of my foodie items!! I love dried fruit, so the banana chips were an instant success for me. I had never tried sunflower seed butter before, but now I love it!! Definitely a fun item to get. In fact, the boyfriend and I plan to make a delicious dessert with it this weekend (which I will try my best to post about, as well!). The oat burgers I still have yet to make, as I want to give myself plenty of time to prepare them — Heather mentioned they are better the next day and I take her word for it, so I’m waiting until this crazy week is over before tackling them! Can’t wait, though! Now… I must talk about the brownies.

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The picture doesn’t do them full justice, but they were AMAZING. Moist, soft, sweet, but not crumbly at all. And dusted with cinnamon!! I am a sucker for decadent desserts, so I was so impressed with these!! Everyone in my house loved them, also — I had to make sure they weren’t all eaten before I got several bites!

Doing FPP was a fun, exciting experience, so if you’re a foodie too, I highly encourage you to try it out! Check out The Lean Green Bean‘s blog to get details on how to sign up. Do it, do it! 🙂

Clear Skin Detox

About a week into 2013 and things are going well. I’ve started my job helping out at my parents’ office while living at home and looking for jobs of my own.

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Lately I’ve been focusing a little more closely on what I’m eating. The plethora of holiday foods in the past couple months have been wonderful for my taste buds, but not so great for my body.

And I’m not necessarily talking about weight gain, although I suspect there was been some of that (I never weight myself because I obsess too much). No, the biggest problem lately has been my complexion.

I’ve always struggled with acne, but eating a healthy vegan diet has allowed me, for the first time in my life, to maintain clearer skin without the use of prescription medicines. However, a lot of vegan junk food I’ve eaten lately is wreaking havoc.

So it’s time for me to focus on those whole foods again! Below are the foods I’ve been trying to consume a lot of lately and also those I’ve been avoiding, based on others’ research into what are best. (Note: do not get discouraged if you don’t care for some of these. Focus on the ones you do like, and other whole foods in general!)

1. Green, leafy veggies.

Since I don’t always feel like eating salad for a meal, I’ve been making green smoothies in the morning. My favorite so far:

    Morning Greens Smoothie

1 large banana, frozen
1/2 cup blackberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup fresh kale
1 fresh celery stalk
1/2 cup water

Blend all ingredients thoroughly.

2. Whole grains. 

My favorites are oats, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta.

3. Fresh fruits.

4. Fresh veggies.

5. Beans.

Foods I avoid or decrease consumption of:

1. Refined sugar.

2. Refined flour.

3. Refined oils (See a pattern here?)

Like olive oil, vegetable oil, etc. I also tend to stay away from any high-fat foods, like nuts and avocado, because a low-fat diet makes my skin glow!

4. Coffee.

Yeah, it breaks my heart to write this. I heart coffee. And I still continue drinking it, but have been focusing on getting enough sleep as much as possible so that I don’t need quite as much during the day. And when I do drink it, I make sure to have my bottle of water handy to replace that water loss caffeine causes.

So this is my skin “detox” plan I always turn to after too much junky foods. I’ve been focusing on it for the past few days, and I’m already having awesome results!

Thoughts on 2013

Happy New Year, friends!

My sister and me!

My sister and me!

Since last night, I’ve been thinking about new year’s resolutions, like most everyone else. I’ve always been one of those people who makes changes as they come and doesn’t focus too much on change specifically on the 1st each year, but it’s nice to think about what this year could be like. Also, two years ago today I did actually have a new year’s resolution: to go completely vegan, and it’s one of the best decisions I have ever made.

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Our New Year’s vegan snack spread

Something I’ve also been thinking about is how my view of health and fitness has changed over the years. I’ve talked about this on other blogs before, but I’ve struggled with my body image and eating habits for many years until a little after I went vegan.

I’ve always enjoyed working out, but for most of this time it became so much of a necessity to get in a great workout at the gym that I didn’t feel okay if I didn’t. It became one of the most important things to me, taking precedence over friends, family, downtime. And if I didn’t eat 100% “healthy” (a word whose meaning has changed a lot for me over the years), I wasn’t able to enjoy whatever I was doing or whoever I was with. I am someone who loves food and loves to eat, and often, so I’m guessing this feeling of “needing” a workout would come from feeling like I needed to burn off the excess calories I was consuming.

Well, in the past couple of years and since I started eating a vegan diet, things have changed. I still love food and still love feeling healthy, but it doesn’t feel like a struggle at all anymore. In fact, I actually workout — as in, hardcore workouts at the gym where I feel exhausted after — a lot less often… which would seem backwards to most, but for me… I’m finally at peace. Not to say that I’ve become a couch potato. I still enjoy yoga in my living room, walks with my dog, and playing those dancing games on the Wii that my family has. But these are things I wouldn’t have felt up to before because I would be consumed with getting a “good” workout in that evening instead of something “light” like these activities. But now, I’m enjoying my life and my time with others, and I’m still staying active and healthy — and actually healthy, now that I’m eating fruits, veggies, beans, whole grains, things that are nourishing to my body and aren’t junk that needs to be “worked off”. Even when I eat vegan candy or junk food, like we did last night, I’m able to enjoy it and realize that I’m still gonna be okay and eat well the next day.

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My mom!

So, my New Year’s resolution for this year, and each one to follow, is to take care of myself and enjoy my life.

Beginning of a new chapter

As I lay with my dog on a sleeping bag in the living room of my empty apartment, I’m finally able to stop and think about everything that was happened in the past couple of weeks: graduation, Christmas, looking for a job, moving, New Years.

Actually, some of that is still in progress. I’m still searching for my exact career path (or really any job) right now, so tomorrow I move back in with my parents. Yep. But anyway, I want to talk about what delicious treats I have made this month.

For my dad’s birthday in the first week of December, I made him a vegan version of those awesome chocolate chip cookie cakes you can get at the mall. Before my parents started eating a vegan diet like me, it was basically a tradition to get him one of these every birthday. Now, he can still have one!

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My sister, Lindsay (the artist of the family), is responsible for the awesome icing decoration, while made and baked the cookie from a veganized version of this recipe (using Earth Balance instead of butter and Egg Replacer for two eggs) — all 14″ of it! Also, the turtle is an inside joke and probably wouldn’t make much sense if I explained it, so just admired how cute it is and leave it at that. 😉 Everyone loved it!

My favorite food-related part of this year was Christmas. My gifts to my loved ones: lots of FOOD! I couldn’t help it. I love baking, and I love sugar, and I love giving unique gifts that require a little extra effort… so this was the best thing I could come up with:

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Sweet stuff! I made each person a huge sugar cookie (veganized version of this recipe) with a pretty decoration I drew and their names. I used 3-lb holiday treat tins to put these in. But that’s not all! Underneath each cookie, there was a layer of wax paper followed by a layer of various other treats from my kitchen:

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I’m mad at myself for not getting pictures of those other desserts, but here’s a list of each and links to the recipes I veganized for them:

Oreo cookie truffles, 1/2 covered in baking chocolate, other 1/2 covered in white chocolate

Glitter balls, 1/2 covered in vegan milk chocolate, other 1/2 in white chocolate

Chocolate caramel popcorn, a original vegan recipe from my December 2011 VegNews magazine 🙂

Saltine toffee cookies, a favorite with many

Pecan bars, another huge favorite

Chocolate chip cookies, which I made for my dad because he requested them. I think because of how much he enjoyed the birthday cookie?

For the vegan white chocolate, I ordered these King David chips from Amazon.com:

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White chocolate used to be my obsession and diet health enemy before I went vegan and started eating healthier, and I couldn’t believe how much these brought back memories! Amazing! I had a tiny bit of trouble getting them to melt like baking chocolate, but they still did their job in the end.

I had so much fun making these, and it was a great holiday season. I hope everyone else had a great one as well!