January 11, 2021

Recipe: Salted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies (Vegan & Gluten Free)

 


Every year, starting the week before Christmas I partake in my annual cookie week. I usually make around 5 kinds of cookies, barks, and fudge and bring them to all holiday parties and even give them away as gifts to teachers and friends.  I love baking, my family loves sampling, it's just a fun combination of tradition and me perfecting my annual favorites year after year. This year was a bit different. We have been making gluten-free cookies for 10 years now but this was the first year I wanted about half to be gluten-free and also vegan. Long story short, I mixed it up the line-up this year trying 4 new cookies, a tweak to a bark recipe, and 1 of our all-time favorites. You guys, it totally paid off! Everyone, and I mean everyone agreed these were the best cookies ever and I think we've found a new starting line up! Because I am me, I tweaked each recipe to fit my family's tastes and dietary needs, and that is the recipe I will be sharing with you today. The original recipe is called Vegan Chocolate Chunk Cookies and they look fantastic! I couldn't wait to try the recipe out for myself. 

*Helpful tip* This recipe calls for the dough to be placed in the refrigerator for 6 hours (up to 24 hours) prior to baking. 


INGREDIENTS

2 cups gluten free flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1 cup dairy free dark chocolate chunks or chips

1 cup raw sugar

1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp coconut oil 

1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp water

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Flaky sea salt (I simply used a sea salt grinder)




INSTRUCTIONS

1) Chop chocolate into uneven pieces. I used the rock chop method on my cutting board. Set aside.

2) Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add the chocolate to the flour mixture and toss to combine. 

3) Combine sugar, oil, water, and vanilla extract in a separate large bowl and whisk briskly until smooth and incorporated, about 2 minutes. Break up any sugar clumps. 

4) Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula until just combined with no flour visible. Do not over-mix.

5) Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for 6-24 hours. Do not skip this step. 

6) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. With an ice cream scoop, portion the dough into 2 tbsp mounds. 

7) Arrange the dough balls on the baking sheets. Sprinkle with sea salt.

8) Bake for 10-12 minutes, turning once to ensure even cooking. Do not over bake.

9) Cool on wire rack. Store in an air-tight container.



These turned out fantastic and became an instant family favorite! Please leave a comment when you try this recipe and let me know how it turns out! Stop back soon as I will be posting the other new recipes I tried the year as well.

 Do you make the same holiday treats each year, or do you mix it up? Thank you for stopping by the blog today. I hope you make it a great day! xoxo

November 15, 2020

Recycling 101


I'm on a mission to recycle more efficiently. Growing up, my dad alway installed in us the importance of recycling and how talking care of the environment was on us. That is something that has really stick with me my whole life! But as I watch my family members put different items into our recycling bin each week, I began to wonder if we are even doing it right. Is what we are putting into our bin even getting recycled or are we putting wrong items in the bin? So I decided to do a deep dive on recycling and recycling in my area. I've compiled a list of do's and don'ts if you will. What is recyclable and what is not. I hope this helps anyone else out there trying to do their part in the most efficient way! 

Let's start by defining recycling. Recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products. Recycling can benefit your community, the economy and the environment. Well that all sounds great, sign me up! So, if you are recycling, let's make sure you are only placing items in your recycling bin that can actually be recycled.

Putting items in the recycling bin that can’t be recycled can contaminate the recycling stream. After these unrecyclable items arrive at recycling centers, they can cause costly damage to the equipment. They must be sorted out and then sent to landfills, which raises unnecessary costs for the recycling facility. That is why it is important to check with your local recycling facility for a list of what is acceptable to send in. If you're local in the Chicago suburbs odds are Flood Brothers is your recycling facility. You can find a full list of items they accept here

Let's get down to the basics:


Non-Recyclable

-Styrofoam
-Bubble wrap 
-Plastic grocery bags (although you can save them and turn them in at your local grocery store. Or better yet, only use reusable bags! ) 
- Wire &/or plastic hangers
-Paper towels
-Pizza boxes (although if it IS 100% free of grease, you can recycle it. I usually recycling at least the clean top of the box.)
-Plastic toys (not always 100% plastic and better off at your local thrift store/shelter/daycare donation.)
-Scrap wood (if 100% untreated, it can be recycled at some facilities) 
-Electronic items 
-Food waste
-Food-tainted items- used paper plates, napkins, paper towels 
-Yard waste



Please Recycle: 

-Aluminum food and beverage cans
-Newspapers, junk mail and envelopes
-Foil and pie tins
-Ferrous (iron), steel and tin cans
-Clear, green and brown glass bottles and jars
-Empty aerosol cans, dry paint cans
-Juice and soda bottles, 6 & 12-pack rings
-Telephone books
-Cardboard & cereal boxes
-Cetergent & shampoo bottles
-Chipboard
-Office & copy paper (without wax liners)
-Catalogs & magazines
-PET plastic containers with the #1 symbol-screw tops only, without the caps, no black trays
-Water & milk jugs/cardboard cartons (with #2 symbol)
-Plastics with the #3, #4, #5, #6, or #7 symbol 
-Brown paper bags


I wanted to note that adding a recycling bin (and a compostable bin) to our upstairs has been a game changer. I had always brought down boxes and toilet paper ends, but once you put a bin up there, it's crazy how much less garbage and how much more recycling there is! Compost bin too, but we can chat about that a different day. 

Also, rinse everything out! Cans, glass jars, paper plates, everything! By sending in clean recyclable items you are helping your local recycling facility do their best job too. It's so simple to take a few extra moments and do it properly. 

A good rule of thumb is alway to reduce and reuse, but if you have to let the item go, please recycle! Did you find this post helpful or are you a recycling pro? Thanks so much for stopping by the blog today. I hope you make it a great day! xoxo 

September 19, 2020

Recipe: Apple Pie - Vegan & Gluten Free


Fall has always been one of my favorite seasons for many reasons, one of them being all the delicious apple and pumpkin recipes. I found this recipe on the food blog Vanilla and Bean and I have made it twice in the past six weeks. Yes, it is that good! It is time consuming, but worth every minute I promise! These are photos from my 1st attempt, my second time make it, I didn't have enough coconut oil so I substituted for 1/2 coconut oil, 1/2 avocado oil and it still turned out. The cook time was 5 minutes longer, but still very good! 


Ingredients:






Directions: 

Click here for official directions. Traci over at Vanilla and Bean really put a lot of work into this recipe. Her instructions are extremely thorough and you can tell she really perfected this recipe before she put it out for the world to try. It tastes like it too! I usually post the full recipe when I find one I love, but there is really so much information to read though, I don't want to edit her vision for it. She has tips on her favorite apples to cook with & suggestions of how to store, warm, and freeze the pie.  You really should read though all of it!





Below is a photo of my second attempt making this yummy recipe. The apples were very ripe on this one, straight from the orchard the day before, so the center was almost apple sauce-like by the end.  Plus I used different oil in the crust, but again, totally worth the time. It's my most favorite apple pie recipe and that includes ones with gluten and butter you guys!


Do you have a favorite apple pie recipe? Please post it in the comments section, I'd love to try! Is this a recipe you think you'll try? It really is worth the work. 

Thank you so much for stopping by the blog today. I hope you make it a great day! xoxo

September 18, 2020

Recipe: Slow Cooker Apple Sauce

 


Last weekend it was rainy and wet, so instead of going apple picking like we had planned, we decided to just stop by the orchard and pick up some apples. There is still lots of season left, so we'll just try again later in the month. If you are like me, you love cooking and baking and an extra trip to the orchard just means more apple recipes to try! 

 I decided to split the apples we picked up into three piles. The first group efor apple sauce, the next for apple butter, and the remainder for apple pie. All three were super delish, so today I'll be sharing the apple sauce recipe, tomorrow I'll share the apple pie recipe, and you can find my apple butter recipe here, which I posted two years ago. 


Ingredients: 

-16 apples 

-1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (more if desired)

-1 cup spring water

-1 teaspoon of vanilla extract


Directions:

1) Peel, core, and slice apples and place in slow cooker. 

2) Add ingredients together.

3) Cook on low for 4-6 hours, masking a few times with a potato masher. 

4) Store in a sterilized mason jar of container of choice. 



I usually store my apple sauce and apple butter (also any jams and jellies I make) in mason jars. I recently began saving any reusable containers around the house and have found they come in super handy. Below is a container from organic apple sauce I bought at our local grocery store. I cleaned it, sterilized it, and filled it up with some of the apple sauce I made in this batch! 



So that's it. This super easy recipe is sure to make you family, friends, or just yourself very happy! Make sure you stop back tomorrow for my apple pie recipe (vegan and gluten free!). 

Thanks so much for stopping by the blog today. I hope you make it a great day! xoxo

June 18, 2020

Boho Beautiful Detoxify Recap


Last week my husband and I completed the Boho Beautiful Detoxify program. Through a 7 day schedule of clean eating meal videos & recipes combined with daily detox yoga classes, DETOXIFY has been designed to help you find your new potential of health, vitality, and daily energy. There is so much to discuss you guys! First off, it was incredible. Truly life changing in so many ways. But it was a lot of work! Not just to eat plant based for 7 days and do daily detox yoga routines, but also to organize and execute 14 new meal recipes, 7 new juice recipes, and 7 new smoothie recipes during those 7 days!
But with a little prep (ok, actually a lot!) and some organization it is defiantly something I would highly recommend to all.


By day 7, Ryan had lost 9 pounds and was feeling ready to re-introduce meat and alcohol. ;) I was down 6 pounds and ready to continue on a more clean eating path going forward. My skin has never looked so good, my inflammation and bloating are way low, not going to lie, my vegan body is a favorite of mine! So for now I'm vegan and taking it day by day, but even it you just want to try this for the detox, it's 100% worth it.


Here is a little break down of everything and my thoughts. I even have some tips if you are planning to do this detox too. Ok, let's get into this, shall we?

YOGA: I love doing Juliana's classes. She is an incredible athlete and really has a way to keeping both my husband and myself motivated. This 7 day program kicked our butts in the best way ever. Five classes are advanced and challenging, two are on your mat and stretching classes. Lots of deep stretches, twisting, and abs/core work all through the week. I am so glad I own these so I can go back and do them whenever I want. In the end, they were really great classes that not only challenged us, but really got that digestive system and metabolism moving. Worth every penny!



RECIPES: I'm not going to lie, it's time consuming. I spent a good 3 hours a day in the kitchen prepping, juicing, blending, chopping, and cooking...but here's the thing, it's magical. There is just something about looking at so many beautiful colors for hours each day. It's rejuvenating. It's truly wonderful working with produce and organic grains and nothing processed or packaged. I learned so many great ways to feed my family better and learned my kids love a lot of vegan food too! I never felt hungry or dissatisfied which was a concern of mine before I started. 

Now let's talk food. It is seriously delicious! There were maybe 4 out of the 28 recipes that my husband did not love and only 1 that I just couldn't do. I did have to make some substitutions because of food allergies, but overall, I kept it as close to the original recipes as I could and all the food was very good. Like gourmet good you guys! My top five are: Garden of Vegan Aioli, Ziner Chocolate Protein Smoothie, Lava Smoothie Bowl, Brown Rice Pudding, The Boho Buda-ful Bowl. The program is worth it just for the recipes alone. 

 

I learned so much about food during this week. I also learned that I really do enjoy eating and cooking vegan! 

SHOPPING AND PREP TIPS: 
Give yourself a week or two to read all the material and get supplies ready after you make this purchase. We are still in a pandemic so it is difficult to get these items quickly if you are not already eating plant based. There is a shopping list, but there are no amounts on the list. So I did have to spend a couple hours going through the recipes and adding up the amounts I needed of each item for all recipes from this week. This familiarized me with the menu though. There are 14 food recipes and 14 drink (7 juice and 7 smoothie) recipes during this detox. Yes, that is 28 new recipes to take on in one week. It can feel overwhelming, but as someone who just did this, I am telling you, it is very doable. And very worth it! 



 -Each night, look at the menu for the following day making sure there is nothing you need to prep. There are a couple days that require you to refrigerate items over night.

-Prep for the full day of recipes each morning and label everything properly. I started doing this by day three and it really helped me with time management throughout the day. Each morning I would do yoga, make the breakfast recipe and eat, then prep all veggies and fruits needed for the smoothie and juice. I would even look ahead to the dinner recipe on a few of the days and get the chopping out of the way so that nights cooking was a bit quicker. 

-Keep you juicer, blender/ninja/pans on the counter for the week. You are using all of these each days save yourself the hassle! 

-If you are doing this with your spouse like I did, have them do all dishes to take some of the work load. There are many dishes each day and using plastic or paper just isn't an option we were going to take. In addition to yoga and plant based diet, there is an Earth challenge as well! 

-Take a day (or two) off of yoga leading up to the detox week. Your body will thank you later. ;) I forgot to do this! Live and learn. 




-Shop local if you can. We went to a Windy Acres Farms in Geneva and picked up over half of our produce for the week. Then, we did "delivery" from Walmart and found they were out of a few items we needed so we added an Aldi trip in as well. Oh and grabbed a few on Amazon as well. There are links in the PDF for shopping items on Amazon so make sure you utilize those if you are having a hard time finding a few of the items. 

-If you shop for all seven days like I did, freeze some produce! I ended up freezing my (steamed) cauliflower, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, mango, pineapple, bananas, and broccoli. This was helpful with smoothies, I no longer needed to add ice and all my produce stayed fresh for the week to boot. 

-Let the kids try! My husband and I did this detox, not the kids, but I did make extra each day and let them try. In the end, they ended up eating most breakfasts, smoothies, a couple of the juices, and a couple of the dinners. I was blown away at how open they were to trying plant based food and now I will continue to give them more options! 


So that's it folks! This week was truly a labor of love and it's just another pivotal point in learning more about mine and my families health and our food choices. Have you ever been vegan? Have you ever tried a detox before? If you do try this one, I really hope you love it as much as we did! 

Here is a video recap of the entire week of recipes and yoga: 


Thank you so much for stopping by the blog today, I hope you make it a great day! xoxo