Sunday, September 30, 2012

Foodie Penpals: Treats With a Twist

FPP post Foodie Penpals

Round two of Foodie Pen pals! I participated last month and had a blast packing up a package of goodies and receiving one in return. The rules are simple: You sign up at The Lean Green Bean, fill out a forum, and on the 5th of the month your receive your match up for whom your sending to. Bloggers and readers are both welcome to participate. Your then responsible to contact that person, in 72 hours, asking what their foodie preferences/dietary needs are. [Take note: The person who your matched to send a package to is NOT the same person you will be receiving yours from.] Then you hit up your local grocery stores and shop for your foodie![Spending limit is $15] You then mail out the package by the 15th with a handwritten note, recipe, or any other hand written thing you can think of. At the end of the month, you then post about the goodies you received. This month was a little different because the host who put this all together, Lindsey, felt that it would be best to not have reveal day on the weekend. Which is why I’m doing reveal day today. [Don't pay attention to the date.. it lies! It's 2 o' clock in the morning here on October 1st. Yes, I know. I should be probably catching some Z's.]

I was matched up to send a package to a lady named, Sarah Force. Her last name is bad ass. Force! “May the Force be with you”. Okay, I’m not a Star Wars fan but I had to. She lives in the suburbs near Chicago. Which is very cool! I expressed my love for the city to her and explained that I’ve rode there by train from South Bend to Chicago a couple times with friends/family. Ah, the memories. She’s a non blogger so I asked her to send me a guest post but unfortunately I never received one. Oh well, sometimes life just happens. I sent her some local goodies from Modoc's Market which were Ethiopian Harrar Coffee, Kim's Gourmet Popcorn, Vanilla Chocolate & Chocolate Walnut Fudge and a booket explaining the history behind the local business. She likes supporting locally, so I wanted to give her some local goodies. I also wanted to test her taste buds and get her some vegan products since she had no food preference whatsoever, but alas local items in this town are expensive and I ran out before I could.

I was super lucky to have Melissa Karras, at Treats With a Twist send me a package this month. I didn’t even have to read her blog to know that this was going to be a good month. Though I did and I was thrilled to find out that she makes her own homemade granola! I was already going to suggest to the person who’s sending to me that I’ve been wanting a healthier, vegan granola so this was perfect! She loves to bake and actually makes healthier alternatives to high calorie favorite treats. She has a lot of yummy looking recipes that I could easily make a vegan version of! She actually sometimes cooks/bakes vegan! So if you haven’t already. Check out her blog! I personally adore it!

The package couldn’t have came at a better time. After a long day at Bowen. I came straight home and took a very long nap. I just felt so drained. When I eventually woke up though, I found this sitting on the table.
My package came! Needless to say.. my mood improved drastically right then and there!

She send me a lovely card explaining.. wait hold up. Trader Joe’s!? She sent me goodies from Trader Joe’s! My love. My grocery store affair. I cannot even express my excitement when I read her card and find out that she bought me items from my favorite grocery store! Trader Joe’s was always my go-to grocery store when I lived in California. Unfortunately, I’m now in Indiana finishing up school early and the nearest TJ is over in Indianapolis which 2 hours away. I’d be lying to you if I told you I hadn’t thought about driving down there just to go to the Trader Joe’s. Luckily, Melissa had the opportunity to go to one and I’m so happy I now have Trader Joe’s items in my life again! She also included some coupons for soy yogurt which is such a nice gesture and much appreciated considering I’m running out of my own and soy yogurt here is a little pricy. Now onto the items!

 Melissa’s Homemade [Vegan/Gluten Free] Spiced Apple Pie Granola: Melissa is a fantastic granola maker! Hands down, the best, in my opinion. I’ve honestly just been eating it straight out of the jar. This granola is so well put together. Everything is well mixed and the taste is far better than any other granola I’ve tried. This granola is semi-sweet so it’s not overpowering like all the store-brought ones. She even emailed me the recipe so I can make my own! 
Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Nibs: These are perfect for me when I have that dark chocolate craving but don’t want to test my luck with only having a couple pieces of a bar. Look how cute and little the nibs are!
Trader Joe’s* Sugar Chocolate & Coffee Bean Grinder: I’ve been adding it to my oatmeal and Ezekiel toast with nut butter. I can’t really taste it a whole lot. But I don’t care. I actually just enjoy using it! Easily Amused? Maybe.
Trader Joe’s* Legendary Nut & Berry Mix, Trader Joe’s* Golden Roasted Milled Flax Seed with Blueberries: So far I’ve just used both of these in my oatmeal as well. I love this flax seed! I’ve always wanted to try a flavored flax seed since I’ve only had just the plain ol’ flax. So this was a very nice change up especially since it has added blueberries-my favorite! And who can go wrong with trek mix? So yummy!
I don’t know about you but I think I was really lucky this month! Thank you Melissa for the best package I could ever have asked for! I wish I could have you every month! Just kidding.. well.. sorta. Anyway, I'm ready for October! I'm signed up and already anxious to see who I'll be paired up with!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Vegan Foodie Penpals: Whole Soul Vegan

This month I signed up for a Vegan Food Swap that’s hosted by Cat from The Verdant Life. Last month, I was randomly going through everyone’s reveal day posts about what they received over at The Lean Green Bean and I stumbled across someone who participated in two swaps! Being vegan, I thought that it was appropriate to take part in this swap as well as Lindsey’s swap! Don’t worry my loyalty is still with her. Your get to see my reveal post for that in a couple days.
My “Lucky Recipient” that I sent a package to was Lindsey Reedy at Two Former Fat Chicks from Ohio. I skimmed through her blog and my mouth almost dropped. The blog is focused on two women-mother and daughter fighting for a second chance at life. Overeating and no exercise was their daily routine until March of 2009 when both of them become fed up. Very motivating! I can tell from the pictures that Lindsey and her mother have made a lot of progress! If your interested in what I sent her just go look on her blog!

I received my box from Amie Carle at Whole Soul Vegan from Florida.

Tea galore! I’ve been forgetting countless times now to get myself some black tea from the grocery store. Well, now I won’t have to worry about it for a couple more weeks! She really did take in account what I like. Tea, nut butters[my two favorite brands ironically enough], and dark chocolate. Nom nom nom. Though the Justin’s Honey Peanut Butter isn’t technically vegan. I do know that some vegans do eat honey[myself included for right now] so I’m not going to really worry about it. I’m just one of those vegans until this and my raw honey are gone. Baby steps.

Moving on.. she also included pistachios, a Cashew Cookie Lara Bar that I’ve never tried before, and Agar Agar Powder. I’m so intrigued by this.. agar agar is an alternative to gelatin? I’m still unsure of what to really do with it. I’m open to suggestions.

If you’d like to participate in this swap click here. 

I'd highly suggest that if your interested you join next month because next month is the last time this year you can participate in this particular swap until next year! So press that link!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"The Happy Herbivore" Hippie Loaf!

I got this idea from Amie, a  lady who is sending me my Vegan Food Swap package this month-details on that later. I got the recipe from her blog. Interested? Here’s the link:
I’m going to be honest with you. This is my first time ever making an alternative to “meat loaf”. Take note: I was vegetarian for 5 years prior to going vegan last month. But I was in need of a change in the kitchen and change I did! I’m going to be fair with you. I didn’t quite follow Amie’s recipe 100%. I swapped things out and substituted for others. The end result though was still delicious! My meat-loving family enjoyed it as well!

Here’s her recipe/my swap outs & substitutes.
  • 1 can rinsed black beans. [I had frozen black beans in the freezer so I just thawed out about 1 cup.]
  • 1/2 cup diced onion.
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced.
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded. [I didn’t have any regular sized carrots in my fridge. Though I did have baby carrots! So I chopped up 6 baby carrots.]
  • 2 celery stalks, shredded. [I just chopped. I haven’t mastered the art of “shredding” yet.]
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms.
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa. [I didn’t have any quinoa on hand but I did have cooked germinated brown rice in the fridge. So I substituted brown rice for the quinoa.]
  • 1 TBSP Italian Seasoning. [I didn’t use that.]
  • 3 TBSP whole wheat flour. [Again, I didn’t have any on hand. I substituted for organic spelt flour.]
  • 2 TBSP soy sauce. [I don’t like soy sauce. Have you have looked at the sodium content of soy sauce? It’s ridiculous. I didn’t even bother to use any.]
  • 2 TBSP ketchup. [I don’t like ketchup either. I substituted for organic mustard!]
1). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 inch loaf pan.
2). Mash black beans and combine the rest of the ingredients until evenly combined.
3). Transfer to greased pan and pat down firmly using a spartula.[or spoon like me]
 4). Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Until firm and brown.
5). Allow loaf to cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Cherry Oat Peanut Vegan Cookies!

  • 3/4 cup Organic Spelt Flour.
  • 1/3 cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats.
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar.
  • 3 TBSP All Natural Peanut Butter. [You could use Peanut Butter & Co* Dark Chocolate Dreams if you have it. Unfortantly I had to stick with regular peanut butter because that's all I currently have on hand.]
  • 1/4 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk. [Unsweetened Coconut Milk would work as well.]
  • 1/4 cup Unsweetened Applesauce.
  • 1 TSP Baking Soda.
  • 1 TSP Vanilla Extract.
  • 1 TSP Ground Cinnamon.
  • 1 TSP Salt. [Optional.* I personally don't ever add salt to anything I bake or cook.]
  • 1/4 cup Dried Cherries. [I used up the rest of the dried cherries my August Foodie gave me. You could also used dried cranberries.]
1). In separate bowls. Mix together all the dry ingredients, then mix all the wet ingredients together. Combine both the dry/wet ingredients once everything is well mixed.

2). Use a medium sized cookie scooper[I don't know the official name, sorry.] and drop the cookies one by one on a greased cookie sheet. I personally just sprayed the sheets with PAM. 

3). Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

The cookies come out very soft and delicious! Thanks to the applesauce, they will stay soft until you devour them all! I personally prefer my cookies' texture to be soft. Which is why when I bake I always use applesauce instead of vegan butter or oil.  Also because it lessens the calories in them as well. So I get to indulge more! I'd recommend you drizzle some regular peanut butter or Peanut Butter & Co* White Chocolate Wonderful on top! It just adds that extra something to them.

Speaking of calories, wanna know the nutritional value of these?!

Serving size: 17 small cookies. [This could vary for you depending on how big you make your cookies.]
Amount Per Severing: 94 [w/o added peanut butter drizzle]
Fat:  1.9g
Sat. Fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 0g
Sodium: 90.3mg
Carb: 17.3g
Fiber: 1.7g
Sugar: 7.9g
Protein: 2.1g

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Foodie Penpals: Food, Fun, & Life in Waukesha

 Ahh! I'm a couple days late on posting this but I literally just made this blog today and I didn't want to not talk about last month's foodie pen pal experience.

This is my first time participating in the foodie pen pals created by Lindsey at Basically, the program is you get matched to a foodie on the 5th of each month you participate in. Your then responsible for contacting that person and finding out what their dietary needs are. Then someone totally different contacts you asking the same thing. So you have a person you send to, then a person who sends to you.  I was nervous in participating because I am a vegan and I didn't want my pen pal to feel overwhelmed with finding something for me. But my foodie who was sending to me, Sarah Zubarik, seemed to do just fine. She has a blog called Food, Fun, & Life in Waukesha. I'd suggest you check it out! I sent a package to Mollie Kimmel, who unfortunately doesn't have a blog and since I just made this blog I didn't have the time to ask her to do a guest post. Next time I will! It was also Mollie, Sarah, and I's first time doing the food swap! Three newbies, I love it! Anyway, you can probably imagine my excitement when my grandfather told me that a package in the mail had come for me. Instinctively I already knew what it was and load and beyond here is what I found.

My August penpal package came! I couldn't wait to open it and see what I got it.
When I finally got around all the tape. I opened up my package and this is my first look into what was to come. I loved that Sarah included a greeting card from her state,(why didn't I think of that for my foodie!) and her card with her email, twitter, and blog on it. [Gorgeous card print by the way, Sarah.]
She wrote a very nice letter on the back of the greeting card which made me even more excited to look at the items she sent me. I saw the word "tea" and I was already in high spirits that this package was going to be amazing! I also loved that every item that I was going to find would be from Wisconsin! (*Enhanced anxiousness to look.)
The first two items I instantly checked out were the Rishi tea* Organic Blueberry Rooibos and Hot Pepper Jelly locally made in her state. The tea, by far, is my favorite item she sent me! I love tea and blueberries are my favorite fruit! (How did she know?!) I opened it up and the strong aroma of blueberries hit me and I just about melted. I brewed a cup right away and the taste was divine! Two of my favorite things mixed together, you really can't do better than that. The Hot Pepper Jelly was something I've seen before but had never tried. I told Sarah I love trying unique things and that I have a love for spicy food. So she did a fantastic job finding this for me. I wont lie though. I was very unsure with what to do with this jam. I wanted to try it so bad but I couldn't think of what to do with it. So I asked good ol' Google. A lot of people reccomended spreading this on crackers with cream cheese. Easy enough. So I bought some crackers, some vegan cream cheese and dug in. Surprisingly enough this jelly isn't spicy at all. Quite sweet, actually. Though, I won't lie. The cracker/vegan cream cheese/hot pepper jelly combo is excellent.
The last two items were the first to be used up and devoured. The dried cherries are a favorite of Sarah and are from Door Country. Neat! I was thrilled when I saw these because I had just ran out of my organic dried cranberries that I like to put in salad and these made a perfect alternative. The Oskri* Coconut Almond Bar is a bar that I've never tried before. As you can see/tell it's a VERY coco-nutty bar with only about 3-4 almonds inside it. It was basically like eating coconut with the occasional crunch of an almond. I like coconut just not that much all at one time. Nevertheless I was very pleased with my package. Sarah did an awesome job! I'm already signed up for September!
*If your interested in participating, I'd highly recommend it! Just go over to The Lean Green Bean and fill out a forum!   

Here’s a detailed explanation of the program:
-On the 5th of the month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treatsThe spending limit is $15The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you can choose to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
- Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian residents & UK residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. So, I’m going to keep two separate lists and match US w/ US and Canada w/ Canada!