Get Healthy Salad and a New Lease on Life

I’ve been feeling a little under the weather for the past week, but it really came to a head when I woke up this morning. I skipped breakfast because I wasn’t hungry, and I NEVER skip breakfast.

When I came back from work around 11 my appetite was picking up a bit so I decided to throw together a “get healthy” salad, basically just using whatever struck my fancy in the fridge. This meant kale, grapes, pecans, cheese and an egg. Since this isn’t really a recipe, more of a throwing together of random ingredients, I’ll just describe the process.

I’ve grown to love kale over the past couple of years, especially when I was vegan, but I definitely prefer it slightly cooked and warm. So I tore it into bite size pieces, cut a bunch of grapes in half and massaged all of it together with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Then I added pecans and put everything over medium heat on the stove top.

When it was cooked to my liking, I tossed it with some parmesan, pan fried an egg, added some hot sauce, and voila, lunch was served.

kale salad

Now I think it’s time to do some talking about my diet. As my faithful readers know, I was vegan since June 2012 up until about June 2013. I loved being vegan. I felt healthier, I learned to use a lot of new ingredients, I cut down on a lot of bad stuff in my diet. But when I got home from school last June, my parents basically gave the ultimatum “Eat what we cook or buy your own food and make it yourself.” OK, so it might not sound too difficult just to make my own food. But between juggling a 50 hour a week job and an internship, there wasn’t going to be a lot of time for me to be able to do that and eat enough to stay healthy. So I relented and became vegetarian.

The transition was a little tough but after a month I was feeling more comfortable about adding things to my diet. But the thing is, I felt about the same as I had pre-veganism, when I was eating everything. So when I came back to school I started toying with the idea of going full omnivore. Another reason for me was that I love to cook for people but no one wanted me to cook for them if they weren’t going to get any meat. Furthermore, I live with two omnivores who stock up our fridge with meat. Life was getting pretty difficult, so finally I made the switch.

To be honest, I wish I was still vegan but I don’t think I am at the right point in my life to be eating that way. It doesn’t fit with the college lifestyle and it doesn’t fit with my friend’s or family’s lifestyle. I stay away from red meat and I still avoid dairy for the most part, but now I’m all for an organic, whole food diet. AKA I’m staying away from processed food and only eating stuff I can name the ingredients of. A lot of veggies and fruit, nut butters, free-range chicken, eggs and good grains (quinoa, whole-grain pasta, etc). I feel pretty good.

Another new aspect that I’m working with is exercising more. I’ve always wanted to be good about going to the gym but I made a promise to myself that I would do it as much as possible this year. Thus far I’ve been pretty faithful and I can feel the difference. Honestly the difference of being in shape versus not being in shape is a lot more than being vegan to not being vegan.

Well, that’s all for now. If you have any questions or want to berate me for giving up my vegan ways, feel free to comment. But for now, enjoy the Petite Kitchn and bon appetit.

Back At It- Tomato Chickpea Soup

Well it’s certainly been a while! Lots of updates (obviously the biggest being the fact I am no longer vegan, hence the name change).  But no time for that now when I have a recipe to share… ironically, it’s vegan! I’ve been craving soup a lot since there has been a never-ending amount of snow. So here is something I threw together that ended up being absolutely delicious and healthy. It’s also incredibly easy to make, and it’s a one-pot deal.

vegan, plant-based

Ingredients:

Tomato Chickpea Soup

Two tablespoons of oil

Clove of garlic, minced

Half a white onion, diced

One cup of chicken stock

One cup of water

One 18 oz can of diced tomatoes

One 15 oz can of chickpeas, rinsed

One cup of quinoa

Salt and pepper

2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning

Directions:

1. Heat oil on medium heat. Add garlic.

2. When garlic is lightly golden, add onions. Cook until soft and golden.

3. Add chicken stock, water, salt and pepper, and Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil.

4. Add tomatoes, chickpeas and quinoa. Bring to a boil again then let simmer until the quinoa is completely cooked (15-20 minutes).

Bon appetit!

 

 

Back to the Good Stuff – Hot Chocolate Pancakes

After last week’s somber post I thought it was time to talk about something a little happier. And what is happier than vegan chocolate pancakes. To me there is something really fun about breakfast for dinner, or in this case breakfast for dessert. Maybe that’s because vegan breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. And chocolate is good anytime of day.

vegan hot chocolate pancakes

These vegan pancakes are incredible. Literally one of the best things I’ve ever made, behind the mint chocolate chip cookies (maybe). And I have to credit this deliciousness partly to Paula Dean. The women truly has found the secret to life in butter. She just needs to switch to vegan butter. So don’t for a moment think these pancakes are healthy. They aren’t terrible for you but they are certainly a dessert. But sometimes in life when bad things happen the best cure is chocolate, not matter how bad.

vegan hot chocolate pancakes, vegan pancakes

Ingredients:

Vegan Hot Chocolate Pancakes (adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie)

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp vegan hot chocolate mix (I used Starbucks)

1 tbsp brown sugar

1/16 tsp salt

1 and 1/2 tbsp melted vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)

5 and 1/2 tbsp milk of choice (I used Silk soy milk)

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Directions:

1. Heat pan to medium.

2. Mix dry ingredients, then add wet ingredients.

3. Once well combined, spoon onto pan.

4. Cook until top starts to bubble, then flip (about 4-5 minutes, as these are small pancakes)

5. Cook for another minute or two until pancakes are cooked through.

For me this recipe made 3 small pancakes. These are delicious on their own but if you wanna take it to the next level, layer the pancakes with this vegan hot fudge sauce…. Equal parts hot chocolate mix and melted butter, heated over the low heat. Be careful cause this burns quickly!

vegan hot chocolate pancakes, vegan pancakes

Seriously though add the hot fudge… it melts into the pancakes and makes for pure heaven.

vegan hot chocolate pancakes, vegan pancakes

Just a quick running update… I’ve started my six month training plan, which you can find here. I just want to say thank you so much to the support I received from that post, it means the world to me and my city. We are so fortunate that they found the perpetrator so that justice can achieved. #bostonstrong

vegan hot chocolate pancakes, vegan pancakes

Portland Farmer’s Market – A Guest Post

This week I welcome back Becca, my guest blogger from December (here’s her first post, Tour of the Freshmen Cafe). Today she writes about cooking while at home in Oregon, and gives us her recipe for her veggie saute using ingredients from a local farmer’s market. Baltimore has lots of farmer’s markets, unfortunately none of which I’ve managed to get to (mostly because the only one within walking distance closes by 12 on Saturday. I’m usually still sleeping). Hopefully I’ll get myself over there soon and get a review! Now here’s Becca:

This blog post has been in the works since the holiday break! Sorry Liza for being a lazy guest poster!

I was home over break studying for the MCAT, which I didn’t even end up taking, though it drove me completely insane. Though I was going crazy with stress, I did very much enjoy being home in Portland, OR, and enjoying the company of my family and friends, as well as presence of what I’m still convinced is the BEST farmer’s market scene in the whole entire world.

My mom, sister, and I have a tradition of making a farmer’s market run every Sunday to load up on our week’s fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s become more than a “grocery run” but rather a fun way for the three of us to spend quality time together. With my sister in school in New York, my parents living in Portland, OR, and myself in school in Baltimore, it’s rare we are all together in one place. We make a morning of our farmer’s market trips…loading up on gluten free treats at our favorite bakery stand and eating them with coffee at the park next to the parking lot the farmer’s market makes shop in.

We always end up leaving the market with bags and bags full of local, fresh apples, seasonal berries, and assorted vegetables. My mom is the sauteed veggie master and her skills along with the remarkable fresh vegetables we get weekly combine to make one of my favorite dishes….a simple veggie saute:

brussel sprouts
chopped butternut squash
red beets
rosemary
olive oil
salt
pepper

Put all chopped and uncooked veggies in a big mixing boil and apply olive oil liberally, add rosemary, salt, and pepper to taste. Pour into wok pan and allow to satee on high heat until tender (normally 10ish minutes). SUPER EASY!vegetable saute, farmers market, portland vegan, vegan cooking

You can seriously use any veggies…but make sure they are as fresh as possible! This makes the dish!

Now that I’m back at school, fending for myself on the food front, I miss my mom’s cooking more than ever! I also can’t tell you how much I miss my hometown of Portland and it’s amazing farmer’s markets and fresh food I become accustomed to. If you ever make it to the west (BEST) coast, make sure to check out the farmer’s market scene…it’s rampant all up the coast.

It’s always nice to hear about vegan cooking from all over the states. As always, if any of my readers are interested in doing a guest post for the Vegan Collegiate, just email me at vegancollegiate@gmail.com with your idea!

Happy eating!

Sweet and Refreshing – Junior Mint Oatmeal Cookies

I’ve realized when it comes to cooking, I learn the most by trial and error. Now having made pasta with some kind of faux meat and vegetables about 4 times a week, I’m an expert at timing and it comes out delicious every time. Similarly, vegan brownies from the box are my specialty now that I’ve made them too many times to count. But for something like Junior Mint Oatmeal Cookies, a couple more tries would probably benefit this recipe.

vegan junior mint oatmeal cookies

To be clear, these tasted incredible, evaluated by some frat brothers. But the process and end appearance needs some work. As I probably would’ve realized if I was a chemistry major rather than creative writing, I would have predicted that the centers of the Junior Mints would melt into sticky peppermint liquid that sticks great to a cookie sheet. I think the solution to this would be to make a cookie pie so that the peppermint would just go back into the dough when it melts, without covering my friend’s cookie sheet (and requiring a serious arm workout to remove it later). Also I would suggest adding the Mints on the dough after its already been placed in the pie tin.

But regardless of how they looked this time around, they tasted great. If I can drag myself out of the sunshine that just seemed to appear in Baltimore this week I’ll try the pie version. For now here is my original.

vegan junior mint oatmeal cookies

Ingredients (makes 12):

1/3 cup vegan butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

3 tbsp white sugar

1 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 and 1/3 cup quick cook oats

1 package of Junior Mints

3 tbsp water

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C)

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Add cornstarch and water.

3. One well mixed, add flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Mix in the quick oats and Junior Mints. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

3. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: To adjust to my recommendations, do not mix in Junior Mints. Place dough in ungreased pie pan, then put Junior Mints on top.

vegan junior mint oatmeal cookies

Now I’m off to enjoy Spring Fair activities! Maybe a post on surviving fair food next week?

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.

photo

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.

photo-13

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.

tofu

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!

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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