Nothing Better than Spring Snow and Ice Cream

So I’ve already  talked about my addiction to Nutella. And considering how long it has been since I’ve enjoyed my favorite chocolate hazelnut spread, it’s still at the top of my list for favorite cravings. But a close second is definitely ice cream. I have been known to eat entire pints in one sitting, including a certian occasion where I was bet five dollars in scratch tickets that I couldn’t do it. Oh but I did, in under 15 minutes, and walked away with 13 dollars in winnings. So nobody needs to question my addiction to the frozen treat.

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But it’s no secret that it’s not the healthiest of foods, even the vegan versions (if you haven’t yet, try any So Delicious flavor. A pint of their Cookie Dough ice cream became victim to my addiction this Spring Break). This fact, combined with the new Pinterest fad floating around for banana ice cream, was the inspiration to this recipe. Peanut Butter Banana Cap’n Crunch Ice Cream. PBBCCIC for short. Or may Peanut Butter Banana Crunch. Take your pic.

Banana Peanut Butter Crunch

Banana Peanut Butter Crunch

Basically the idea is that when bananas are blended into a cream, combined with some toppings (in this case peanut butter and Cap’n Crunch), then frozen, it becomes a low cal substitute for ice cream. Lo cal ice cream? That’s a dream came true.

But like many Pinterest fads, this one isn’t perfect. This is not an ice cream for people who don’t like bananas, because unlike the rumors, this will taste like bananas. Maybe I should have tried a less ripe fruit but I’m sure it still would have the flavor. Fortunately I love bananas and peanut butter together so this was fine with me. Other than that, this stayed true to Pinterest promises. It thickened up into a delicious “ice cream.”

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Just a few suggestions before hand:]

1. Remember to peel the banana before freezing it. (common sense I know but this is something I lack during midterm period)

2. Add the Cap’n Crunch at the very end and blend just enough to make sure they’re spread evenly with the banana-peanut butter cream. The bigger the chunks of Cap’n Crunch, the better.

3. Get creative! There’s an endless number of toppings that could be added to the banana.

Peanut Butter Banana Crunch “Ice Cream”

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Ingredients:

1 frozen banana (unpeeled!)

1 tbsp peanut butter

1 tsp agave nectar

1/4 cup Cap’n Crunch

Action shot

Action shot

Directions:

1. Blend banana on high until it has been completely creamed (2-3 minutes).

2. Add peanut butter and agave, blend until well combined.

3. Add Cap’n Crunch and blend for as short amount of time as possible, just until the cereal is spread throughout.

4. Put into a freeze safe container and freeze until the “ice cream” is at a desired consistency. Make sure to cover the container so that the banana does not brown (it’s really ugly)

How banana should look when blended

How banana should look when blended

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Prefreezing

Prefreezing

As the title suggests, we just got SNOW in Baltimore. It’s practically March. I am very not OK with this. Maybe the weather is better wherever you are. Crossing my fingers for a change in temperature over the next week so I can enjoy some Peanut Butter Banana Crunch outside.

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Enjoy!

Vegan on Vacation Part 2

Sadly Spring Break 2013 is drawing to a close, just as my skin finished peeling and my tan finally started to get legitimate. But I go back to Baltimore with a full stomach from lots of delicious food so that’s all that really matters right? Good thing because I doubt I’ll even have time to eat with the amount of work waiting for me back at the Hop.

I picked out a couple of meals to share with all of you to illustrate my dining experience while in Florida. For breakfast everyday I just had a bagel with jelly so that’s pretty unexciting. Lunch usually consisted of something by the beach; I ate at Quinn’s at the Marco Island Marriott twice. Once I had the Marco Island Salad, which was amazing, and the next time I had the Black Bean and Quinoa burger, which was less than exciting. But more on the salad. It was a mix of lettuce, mango, red pepper, sliced almonds and banana nut croutons, with a papaya seed vinaigrette. The vinaigrette in itself was delicious, not overly sweet but flavorful enough to complement the mango and red peper well. The mangos were perfectly ripe, but what really stole the show were the croutons. They tasted like mini banana bread loaves and were so incredibly delicious that when I went back and got the burger I had my mom order the salad just so I could steal them. A good banana bread to me isn’t too sugary and desserty, which croutons obviously aren’t, so the combination of the two made for a perfect topping.

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A less stellar meal I had was a take out vegetarian burrito from Nacho Mama’s on Marco. Granted I know it can be difficult for Mexican restaurants to make an interesting burrito that differentiates themselves from others. But Nacho Mama’s hadn’t even seemed to try. I asked for jalapenos and instead of including them in the burrito they just gave me little container with a max of ten. It cost me 75 cents extra on top of what was already an 11 dollar meal. Instead of having their own hot sauce they included little generic packets in the take out bag. Basically it came down to being some sauteed peppers and onions wrapped in a tortilla. I could have made it myself for under a dollar.

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But in a turn for the better we stumbled upon another restaurant in at the Marriott called Kurrents. I was a bit hesitant at first because the only thing they listed that I could eat was a “Vegetarian Option.” When we got there they informed us that it was tofu with cauliflower and mushrooms. Although it didn’t sound like much it ended up being the best meal of the trip. The cauliflower was in some kind of sauce that made it seem creamy, the mushrooms were fresh and the tofu was perfectly grilled. And for those of you who are non vegan readers, my parents equally loved their meals. Not to mention the service was impeccable; when my dad received an appetizer with bad tuna he sent it back the manager came over and apologized, offered free dessert and continually checked in for the rest of the meal to make sure everything was perfect.

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I hope you all had as restful a week as I did. Now back to the grindstone… Get ready for my ice cream recipe coming up this week!

Vegan on Vacation

Hello there! Due to photography issues I won’t be able to post my recipe post this week, but I’ll give you a hint for next week… It includes ice cream.
So instead I’ll be talking about being vegan on vacation. Currently I am writing this post from the beach in Marco Island, Florida. And it is perfect… Hopefully I’ll be returning to Baltimore a few shades darker.
Of course traveling vegan can get pretty tricky. And I’ve found in the past day that Marco is not particularly vegan friendly. But what else can be expected from a place that caters to tourists who want seafood. So I’ve been going over countless menus trying to find restaurants in walking distance that have vegan options. I promise you, if I survive this vacation with three meals a day vegan then you can survive almos anywhere.
My meals started at the Baltimore airport yesterday. But with their newly constructed Chipotle I was good to go. I think I could eat their guac by the bucketful.
Things got a little more interesting when I set out to find dinner. After perusing some options online I set out for a plaza called Marco Walk. Unfortunately I stumbled upon a giant St Patricks day celebration there, so even the places that could have been options weren’t doing take out, which I needed. Walking a little farther along I found Toucans Bar and Grill. Of course this was exactly the type of establishment the name suggests. Cheap fried food, stereotypical Floridian old people and me. For example the woman I say next to waiting for my food was decked out completely in green and had the seat next to her saved for her little dog.
But Toucans saved the day as I found a portobello burger on the “Healthier Side” menu. Of course I cancelled out any healthy aspects by ordering the waffle sweet potato fries but I can never say no to sweet potato fries.
All in all the burger was good, not the best portobello sandwich I’ve ever had, and the fries were a little under seasoned (but yes I still ate the entire order).
I’ll keep you updated on my future meal adventures. I’m hoping for Mexican tonight!
Wishing you sun wherever you are!

Now For Something A Little Different – Talk About Vegan Criticism

I’ve decided to bring you a different kind of post today. Partly because I think it’s good to switch up for recipes all the time and partly because the chocolate pumpkin cookies I tried to make this week were a failure. Oh well, it happens to the best of us. Get ready for something really good next week (haven’t figured what this will be yet but it’ll be awesome I promise).

So instead I’m going to talk about a different aspect of the vegan lifestyle. That is, how people react when you tell them you’re vegan. I think this may be one of the hardest aspects to overcome in order to remain vegan. There was something really exciting in telling people about my diet change 9 months ago (how the time flies). But as soon as I started to hear feedback I felt very defeated. Rarely did I get a positive comment, like “Wow, that’s really great! Congratulations!” Or even “I’m really impressed you’re able to do that.” More often then not people would comment on how it was pointless, or didn’t accept my reasons for going plant based, and some even tried to bribe me to stop. I’m proud to say I’ve never succumbed to that kind of peer pressure, even when one of my good friends offered me some Pretzel M&Ms, promising he wouldn’t tell anyone if I had some.

Now I’m not going to say that every response was negative. There are a few who were very encouraging, and even my parents have made a valid effort in accommodating me. I know there are times when it is inconvenient to people for me to be vegan, but I always try to explain that if I can’t eat something at one dinner that doesn’t mean I’ll forever be starving.

So how does one deal with criticism? I usually try to approach the situation in a way that I’m not trying to argue back but instead just explain its my decision and I really love it. I’m not torturing myself or punishing myself or anything, this is my choice and I wouldn’t want it any other way. But if people keep pressing I am willing to defend myself. People usually criticize my diet based on lack of knowledge. I point them in the direction of documentaries that helped me in my transition (either Forks Over Knives or Vegucated, both available on Netflix). I explain to them I feel so much healthier. When they attack aspects of being plant based, like that I don’t get enough iron or protein I show them how I do. The best way to deal with ignorance is education.

Now I don’t mean to seem preachy in this post but I want to let me fellow vegans know that we all have to deal with the nonbelievers and that there are good ways to go about talking about being plant based. Here’s a few other great bloggers who have posted about this topic:

Happy Herbivore

Healthy Happy Life

Cadry’s Kitchen

Keepin’ it Kind

Just remember, you’re doing this for you, don’t let what other people think change the fact that it is healthier to be vegan.

I hate posting things without pictures so here are some random shots from the “snow” day we had yesterday here in Baltimore.

 

 

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Vegan Gluten Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

There has been far too much healthy stuff being posted recently.Time to delve back into the dessert world. And the best part? These aren’t even that bad for you. And they’re amazing. I’d say one of the better things I’ve made, especially considering most other times I’ve tried to make cookies without flour has turned into a bubbly mess. I think the key is putting the dough in the refrigerator for a little bit, even if it’s not for more than hour. But these did not turn into boiling pools of sugar as I’m accustomed to so you should probably start baking now.The other best part? You probably already have all the ingredients in your kitchen. And they’re gluten free. And processed sugar free. And oil free.

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Also, just to make sure I’m making it clear that these are good, I made them for a sorority bake sale. Most times vegans urge that if you’re baking for others try to keep is as close to non vegan as possible. These aren’t your usual peanut butter chocolate cookies, but that sets them apart. And I wouldn’t put my baked goods out there against girls who are some of the best chefs I know if I didn’t have faith. But you can decide for yourself.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies {Vegan, Gluten-free, Oil-free} {Adapted from Averie Cooks}

Ingredients:

1 cup + 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (I used Jif)

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

3/4 banana

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

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Directions:

1. Combine peanut butter, sugar, banana and vanilla extract. Mix until well combined and the mixture is no longer granular. You can use a stand mixer but I enjoyed the nice arm workout.

2. Add cocoa powder and baking soda. Mix until a dough has formed. The mixture may be a little crumbly, so feel free to add extra peanut butter to make it stick together more. I added some melted vegan butter but that was also to make it a little more appealing to the non vegans.

3. Refrigerate for around an hour, up to over night. I only did it for about half an hour and it was fine but better safe than sorry.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

5. When the cookies are chilled and the oven is preheated, roll dough into small balls and then press flat on baking sheet (make sure sheet is either greased or has aluminum foil on it).

6. Bake for about 10 minutes. The cookies will still look soft in the middle but let them sit for about 15 minutes and they become chewy and delicious.

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Mix before adding cocoa

 

Mix after adding cocoa

Mix after adding cocoa

Makes about 20 small cookies.

And yes it’s ok to eat all of them in one sitting.

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 Some other cookie recipes I’ve made:

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Healthy Banana Brookies

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