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Currently Obsessed With Turmeric


I am not the only one who is currently obsessed with turmeric. You can tell it's kind of hot right now and it's popping up in a lot of health food stores as supplements and in juice and smoothies in cafes. I personally have been interested in trying turmeric out for it's wildly touted anti-inflammatory properties. The less I'm taking my medicine (which right now is much less, if at all) the more I'm interested in finding homeopathic ways to accomplish the same effects in the case that I do feel some symptoms. My naturopath recommended a supplement called Inflammatone and the number one ingredient? Turmeric. I've just started taking that daily and have noticed less morning stiffness for sure.

I went to the co-op and bought a big container of dry turmeric in the bulk aisle (they also had the real turmeric root if you're into that). I made quite a handful of failures trying to incorporate this insanely orange powder into my smoothies at first. I used too much and my green smoothies became brown and didn't taste good anymore.

I finally found a recipe though that works great to boost the turmeric on mornings when I feel extra tight or achy in my hands (mostly weekends after I've had a few drinks). Unfortunately this doesn't fill me up, so it's not a complete breakfast. I ate mine with an avocado after reading that turmeric's effects are triggered by eating good fats at the same time. 

In the Vitamix, measure two cups of cold water, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 inch hunk of ginger, 1 carrot, the juice of an orange, black pepper and about a tablespoon of turmeric. You could do less the first time to see how you like the taste. Blend on high, pour, and add some ice.



Recipe: Sunflower Hummus Collard Green Wraps


I have never bought collard greens at the grocery store. I was totally intimated by them! So big! So stiff. I don't know... they just never seemed friendly. But I took my friend Karen's CSA for the week and in it? Collard greens. 

Thing is, I LOVE to eat collard green wraps at any vegan cafe that as them. I am only scared of them at home. So I knew this was the time to do it myself. No loss. I found this recipe online and personalized it. I had these for lunch every day last week and they were SO filling. One lunch sized serving is two large collard leafs wrapped up tight with goodness.

I made home sunflower seed hummus first. Buy roasted unsalted sunflower seeds, throw some in a Vitamix with plenty of olive oil, a couple spoonfuls of tahini, a little garlic, tons of lemon juice (this is the trick), and salt and pepper. Likely, you'll need some water in there too to make the blender go. Keep tasting and tweaking til its lemony and salty and smooth. The end result of mine was pretty thick, almost like peanut butter consistency. Next, wash your collard wraps and cut off just the tiny little hard stem at the bottom. Generously spread some of that sunflower hummus right down the spine of the leaves. Top it with very thinly sliced red pepper, carrots and avocado. If you have pea shoots, definitely add those too!

So these are pretty good just like this, but I had leftover marinated mushrooms from a taco recipe I'm currently obsessed with (I'll post that one soon too) so I add some of those in there too. They are simply baby bella mushrooms sliced, put in a skillet with tamari, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and paprika until they're soft. Done.

Wrap the collard leaf up tight. Place the seam side down on a plate, and cut in the middle at a diagonal. So good.



Recipe: Holy Blueberry Lavender Walnut Scones!


Holy. Scones. I literally just ran to my computer to type this up I am so ecstatic. These scones have been out of the oven for 3 minutes and I have already housed 1.5 of them. I don't even like scones! These are amazing!

New cookbook inspiration: Thug Kitchen. If you like swearing vegan men, you will love this cookbook. I got it for Christmas and this is the first recipe I tried, which is odd because I really am not drawn to baked goods. However, something about blueberry lavender was calling to me and now here we are.

The recipe says the lavender is optional. It is not. It is what makes these scones fucking amazing. Go to your hippy-est grocery store (I went to Pittsburgh's East End Co-Op) and find dried lavender in the bulk section. It's about $50/lb but the stuff is light as air, so I got about 3 tablespoons for a few dollars. 

Here is the recipe, verbatim, from Thug Kitchen. It was not gluten free, so I gluten-freed-ized it, easily below. Eat these as they come out of the oven with some Smart Balance "butter." Baller.

For 8-12 scones (I only got 8), you'll need:

  • 2 3/4 cups gluten free (or regular if you want) all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons xanthum gum (only use if making with GF flour)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup refined coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried lavender*
  • 1 1/4 cups plain almond milk, plus more for brushing
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Crank your oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, sugars, and salt. Cut the oil into the flour using your hands until it all looks kind of grainy and there are no large chunks left. Stir in the motherfucking lavender.

  3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the almond milk and vanilla. Mix it together until it is almost all the way combined but stop short. Fold in the berries and walnuts but be careful not to overmix.
  4. Scoop out the dough in 1/2-cup measurements and plop onto the baking sheet. Brush with almond milk and sprinkle with white sugar. Bake until they look a little golden around on the bottom, 12 to 15 minutes.

    *Can't find dried lavender? Don't trek all over town. Just leave it out and add an extra 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. We just wanted to give you a chance to be extra fancy.




How I Won Gluten-Free-Vegan Christmas...


It is no secret that I'm currently obsessed with Oh She Glows. It is also no secret that I'm typically a pretty terrible baker. Last year on Christmas Eve I ruined two attempts at homemade chocolate pudding (at least the second was edible, I just called it chocolatey-fudge-mousse-in-a-cup). Since then I've ruined box brownies at least twice... Maybe it's my oven?

So this year, I decided to try something with less emphasis on actually using the oven and from a source I already trusted. Enter, Chilled Chocolate-Espresso Torte with Toasted Hazelnut Crust and Whipped Coconut Cream. So freakin' easy. So insanely delicious. And it satisfied my non-vegan and gluten-loving family as well as my vegetarian step mom. The only less than exemplary comment I received was from Nanna... she thought it was "interesting." Anyway...

I was hesitant about the coconut whipped cream, but it honestly just tasted like vanilla. My dad licked the freakin' bowl when we were finished and my sister had no clue it was mostly coconut (and she's picky, so there's really no getting past her)! So if you make this, whatever you do, don't skip the whipped cream.

Here's the recipe and some fancier pictures from another blogger featuring this Oh She Glows masterpiece. This is my new go-to dessert. Next year, I won't even dare to try something new.




Recipe: Mango Thai Lettuce Wraps (V, GF)


These lettuce wraps are not only vegan, insanely flavorful and easy to make, but they are also incredibly filling. I found this recipe for Mango & Zucchini Lettuce Wraps by Love and Lemons on Pinterest and thought I'd give it a try. 

I followed her recipe almost exactly with a few tweaks. I used butter lettuce instead of romaine, because it's softer and makes the perfect sized cup for the veggies. I sliced up some zucchini and carrots, cut mango into long thin stripes, added some bean sprouts (love the crunch!), diced a serrano pepper, mint, green onion, and lime.

The sauce is also really easy. Mix tamari, rice vinegar, honey, sesame oil, toasted sesame oil (optional), fresh ginger, and red pepper flakes together for dipping/pouring.

On the side, I simply opened a package of Trader Joe's precooked lentils and served cold. I had never tried lentils before (seriously, I know) and these are great! A bit bland alone, but mixed with the residual sauce from the wraps and some lime... delish! I guess I have a new grain to experiment with and love now, sorry quinoa.

These made a great post-yoga dinner. I filled up on two easily and took leftovers for lunch the next two days. 



Recipe: Raw Tomato Sauce with GF Pasta


I wanted to do a light tomato sauce with some pasta recently when I was craving a fresh but satisfying dinner. Something about light tomatoes, olive oil and some lemon just makes summer feel right. For this recipe, I consulted good old Martha Stewart for my sauce. It's raw and ready in minutes. Perfect for a quick, painless meal. 

I used four roma tomatoes. I diced two of them by hand into small cubes and ever-so-gently pulsed the other two in a blender until close to pureed by still pretty chunky.  Mix with some chopped basil, parsley and garlic. Combine with olive oil and the juice of one small lemon (Martha didn't use lemon, I went rogue). After some salt and pepper, I felt it still needed a bit of flavor so I added about a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. Mix with your favorite GF pasta and you're set for dinner and leftovers for lunch!




Zoodles for Days


Check out my lunch, you guys. Vegan zucchini bolognese that literally tastes just like a gigantic heap of meaty gluteny spaghetti that is... not. This plate should be famous, it's literally that good. And I think word is getting around Pittsburgh that the zoodles at the Amazing Cafe are to. die. for. I could eat this every day, I think. If you live in PGH, go do yourself a favor and get some (17th & Carson St.).

This vegan delight is a good depiction of how I've been eating recently. I had a freak out about six months ago when I was presented with an onslaught of information about why someone with RA or any other autoimmune disease should absolutely become a vegan. I'm already gluten free so the thought of this kind of threw me into a total tizzy (I mean like, tears at the Whole Foods cafe with my best friend on a Tuesday night kinda thing).

So I just ignored the issue and pushed it off. But sure enough, within a few months I was kind of slowly just adapting vegan recipes into my week without even putting that much energy or recognition into what I was doing.

I asked a friend the other day if she was vegan and her response was, "You know I don't like labels." I love that answer! It's now my new answer. I eat what I eat. Rules and regulations and labels are the worst when it comes to this kind thing. I want to feel free to do what I want to do. But I'm pretty proud that right now I'm having vegetarian or vegan breakfast and lunch everyday while dinner is mostly a win but let's be real. I still like a hot dog, piece of chicken or shrimp on the grill, and steak on my Chipotle burrito bowl every now and then. I'm not planning to cut that out entirely.

So go be whatever you want to be, diet-wise. Pescatarian one day, vegan the next? Fine. Eat what makes your body feel good. 




Recipe: Whole Foods Cabbage Crunch


I am obsessed with Whole Foods Cabbage Crunch. It makes an appearance in the prepared foods section every so often in the spring and summer and it's the most fresh flavorful take on vegan cole slaw I have ever witnessed.

Today I set out to recreate it for the sake of time, money and well, wanting to have it for lunch every day this week. I found some other recipes online that mimic it, so I combine those, did my own thing and wound up with an almost-exact replica... I'm rather proud.

All you need is one whole cabbage, chopped into manageable bit sized pieces, five green onions diced including the green stems, sliced almonds and sesame seeds either regular or black, if you can find them. The Whole Foods kind uses black toasted sesame seeds, but ironically, they don't sell those in their store. Neither does Trade Joe's, where an employee told me they stopped selling sesame seeds altogether because they could not find a non-GMO source (fascinating / disturbing).

Mix all of this together in a big bowl and set aside. To make the dressing, mix about half a cup of olive oil, a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, a couple tablespoons of honey, a dash of red wine vinegar with some salt and pepper. Shake that up and keep separate from the salad until you're ready to serve so it doesn't get soggy. 

That's it. The end. Crunch on.