Make Something Monday: Vegan, Gluten-free Sum’Bitches [inspired by How I Met Your Mother]

There are some sources for recipe inspiration that are simply too good to pass up. Last week’s premiere episode of How I Met Your Mother was one of them. If you’re not a fan, first of all, you should be, but you should know that this is the season in which we, the audience finally get to meet the long-anticipated “Mother.” There’s a lot of pressure for this character to be the absolute perfect girl for Ted & her first official scene of the season did not disappoint.

sumbitches scene

And with that scene, my love for the Mother character AND the inspiration for vegan, gluten-free Sum’bitches [with chocolate AND peanut better AND caramel!] was born.

How was my first batch of Mother-worthy comfort food? Legen…wait for it…

…Dary. Legendary!

Ingredients

For the cookies:
2 c Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free all-purpose flour
1/2 c brown rice flour
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 c coconut oil
1 c maple syrup
1 tsp molasses
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 c applesauce
3/4 c peanut butter
3/4 c Enjoy Life chocolate chips

In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients [from the flours to salt].
In a smaller bowl, mix together wet ingredients [from the coconut oil to the peanut butter].
Pour wet ingredients into dry & stir until combined.
Fold in chocolate chips until distributed throughout batter.
Spoon tablespoon sized mounds of dough onto a prepared cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until cookies are a light golden color.

For the caramel sauce:
Confession: I made about 3 versions of caramel sauce trying to get the consistency just right, but the recipe I ultimately settled on was heavily inspired by Angela’s over at Oh She Glows.
I recommend you eliminate the trial and error from my version & just go straight to her recipe.

Once your cookies have been removed from the oven, immediately spoon caramel sauce over top of them & let cool. The residual heat from baking will melt the caramel and it will then cool into a nice glaze. Enjoy them on a train with Ted’s future wife…or while watching the rest of HIMYM’s final season.

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Dinner & A Movie: Eat Pray Love

While I’m a certainly a girly, girl fashionista at heart, sometimes I like my movies to have a touch of spirituality & depth. After reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat Pray Love & feeling fully inspired by her spiritual journey of self-discovery, I was super excited to see the movie of the same title starring Julia Roberts.

Image via Pinterest

Image via Pinterest

I’ve heard that many fans of the book disliked the film version, but I wasn’t one of them. Yes, the book allows for greater exploration into Liz’s internal journey as she grows & changes during her year of travel, but the movie is still beautifully shot & inspirational in it’s own right.

Julia Roberts as "Elizabeth Gilbert" in Columbia Pictures' EAT, PRAY, LOVE.

Image via Pinterest

Eat Pray Love has a special place in my movie library, I put it on for a pick me up anytime my heart gets weary. The beauty of the landscapes, the excitement of travel, the meditation, the healing of a broken heart, & the finding of one’s self…it’s all like vegan soup for my soul.

Image via Pinterest

Image via Pinterest

Perhaps it’s just me, but I think we’re all looking for that same balance Liz hopes for: earthly pleasures, spiritual fulfillment, & a love that throws you just the right amount off balance.

Image via Pinterest

Image via Pinterest

So, in honor of Liz’s Italian stop on her journey of self discovery, here’s a pasta-based recipe rewind: Vegan Lasagna. It too has a special place in my heart because it’s the meal Nick made me for our first Valentine’s day together…a part of my own eat pray love story, if you will.

Ingredients [from AllRecipes.com]

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
3 tablespoons minced garlic
4 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
1/3 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 package gluten-free lasagna noodles
2 pounds firm tofu
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

In a large, heavy saucepan, over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Place the onions in the saucepan and saute them until they are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic; cook 5 minutes more.
Place the tomatoes, tomato paste, basil and parsley in the saucepan. Stir well, turn the heat to low and let the sauce simmer covered for 1 hour. Add the salt and pepper.
While the sauce is cooking bring a large kettle of salted water to a boil. Boil the lasagna noodles for 9 minutes, then drain and rinse well.
Place the tofu blocks in a large bowl. Add the garlic, basil and parsley. Add the salt and pepper, and mash all the ingredients together by squeezing pieces of tofu through your fingers. Mix well.
Assemble the lasagna: Spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch casserole pan. Arrange a single layer of lasagna noodles, sprinkle one-third of the tofu mixture over the noodles. Distribute the spinach evenly over the tofu. Next ladle 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce over the tofu, and top it with another layer of the noodles. Then sprinkle another 1/3 of the tofu mixture over the noodles, top the tofu with 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce, and place a final layer of noodles over the tomato sauce. Finally, top the noodles with the final 1/3 of the tofu, and spread the remaining tomato sauce over everything.
Cover the pan with foil and bake the lasagna for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Serve hot and enjoy.

#KaleEveryDamnDay Recipe: Kale Chips on Chili

You guys, I’ve found a new meal obsession & it’s all thanks to the #KaleEveryDamnDay project!

You see, a few days ago, the weather felt a little crisp & I was craving a nice, warm bowl of chili. However, I still hadn’t had my serving of kale for the day so I decided to whip up a batch of kale chips to snack on before dinner. Then, as luck would have it, the chips were ready at the exact same time as the chili…so I did this:

kale chips on chili

It. was. AMAZING!

The salty crunchiness of the kale chips married perfectly with the spicy sweetness of the chili.

Go, try it, & get your glow on!

Recipes Used:
Vegan Chili + Kale Chips

Dinner & A Movie: Clueless

Keeping with my Vegan MoFo theme of “Health is Beauty,” I’m taking the opportunity this month to walk you through some of my favorite movies about beauty…with a few tasty bonuses.

Of course, no beauty movie lineup would be complete without a tribute to one of my favorite girly indulgences: Clueless.

Image via Pinterest

Image via Pinterest

Um, Hello! Makeovers, makeup, & colorful fashion are ALL OVER this movie AND it’s leading lady is America’s poster girl for Veganism! What better way to kick off this new Vegan MoFo segment?

Image via Pinterest

Image via Pinterest

So check it: I LOVE colorful, kitschy movies, regardless of whether or not the plot is any good. However, I actually think Clueless is brilliant. A modern-day, high school adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma? I’m totally on board. [Incidentally, Clueless was my motivation for reading Emma for the first time…in the 6th grade. It was slightly above my reading level, but I powered through for the sake of Cher-spiration.]

Image via Pinterest

Image via Pinterest

Skip to several years later, I decide to pick up another book, this one by actress Alicia Silverstone [aka Cher Horowitz herself]. I actually purchased The Kind Diet more to read Alicia’s autobiographical tidbits than for the recipes, but as I devoured the information about plant-based health, devouring the food started to sound like a pretty good idea. Nearly 3 years later, veganism has not only changed my health, but it’s also inspired my career. A career that, I might add, allows me to give healthy advice to my friends…just like Cher does.

Image via Pinterest

Image via Pinterest

But not everyone starts out loving kale & quinoa. In fact, even Ms. Silverstone admits to going through a phase just after filming Clueless where she was living on a “steak & donut” diet. So, in honor of that time, here are two recipe rewinds vegan-izing Alicia’s former favorite meals:

Image via Pinterest

Image via Pinterest

Portobello “Steaks”

Ingredients

2 whole portobello mushrooms
1/2 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup mock beef broth [made from Better Than Bouillon’s No Beef Base]
3 tbsp basalmic vinegar [we used 2 tbsp balsamic glaze and it worked great]
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp thyme

Remove stems & gills from mushrooms and set aside.
Line a large frying pan with a thin layer of broth.
Add onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes over high heat.
Add balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, & spices and reduce heat to medium.
Add mushrooms, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Gently flip mushrooms over and cook for 5 minutes more, adding more broth as needed to prevent sticking or burning.
Plate mushrooms and spoon leftover juices on top. Enjoy.

Chocolate Cake Donuts

Donut Ingredients

1 1/3 c coconut sugar
1/2 c brown rice flour
1/3 c all purpose gluten-free flour
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 c  + 2 tbsp arrowroot
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
1/4 c vanilla extract
1/2 c hot water
1/3 c melted coconut oil + a touch more for the pan

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Brush 2 6-mold donut trays with melted coconut oil & set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients [sugar, flours, cocoa powder, arrowroot, baking powder, baking soda, salt, & xanthan gum].
In a smaller bowl, mix applesauce, vanilla, hot water, & coconut oil.
Add wet ingredients to dry & stir until just combined.
Using a spoon, carefully drop approximately 2 1/2 tbsp of batter into each donut mold & distribute evenly around the circle.
Bake for 8 minutes, rotate, & bake for 8 minutes more. Let cool before removing from molds by loosening edges with a butter knife.
If desired, top with a vanilla glaze.

P.S. How fitting is it that this post is dated September 3rd?
[Sorry for the horrible video quality, but it’s the only one I could find with that reference. :)]

Make Something Monday: Kale Chips & Salsa

It’s day two of #KaleEveryDamnDay so I figured I’d give you a little recipe inspiration.

Whenever I recommend kale to clients that have never tried it, I tell them they have to try it at least 3 different ways before they can tell me they don’t like it. Not only does it take time for your taste buds to adjust to new flavors, but there’s so many ways to prepare kale that you can hate it one way and love it another. Or, even more magically, you can hate it one way until you find a way you like it & then you grow to love it all the ways.

When I first tried kale a few years ago, I had it raw, un-massaged, & in a salad and I HATED it. Then I tried some Cool Ranch kale chips from Whole Foods which I also hated. Finally, I tried The Chicago Diner’s flashed greens and I was hooked!

Now, I love it cooked, raw, baked…you name it, I’ll eat it. But this is one of my recent favorites:

Spicy Kale Chips w/ Store-Bought Salsa

kale chips and salsa

Ingredients

1 bunch of kale, stems removed & torn into chip-sized pieces
approx. 1 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper
sriracha sauce
1/2 lemon

Spread your kale pieces on a baking sheet.
Drizzle kale with olive oil & your preferred amount of salt & pepper.
Massage the olive oil into the kale until softened.
Add a touch of sriracha sauce & massage some more.
Bake @ 325 degrees for 5-10 minutes, turning occasionally.
Remove from oven & drizzle w/ juice from lemon [to help with iron absorption].
Cover in your favorite store-bought or homemade salsa & Enjoy!

Welcome to Vegan MoFo 2013!

vegan mofo slider

Hello, Vegan MoFo-ers! If you’re new to this blog, be sure to take a moment to look around. You can learn more about my interests + meet the loves of my life in the About section, read my professional wellness ramblings under the heading labeled Articles, or buy a “Health is Beauty” sticker by clicking on the Shop tab.
health is beauty sticker

And speaking of my Health is Beauty motto, that’s actually the theme for all of this month’s MoFo posts! That means you can expect plenty of healthy recipes for glowing skin, video reviews on my favorite vegan beauty products, and a few twists on the usual girly blog posts about fashion & fun.

While I don’t keep a strict blogging schedule, here are some of the themes you can expect to see in this month’s posts:

Make Something Monday – Started when Mondays were my free day to do with what I wished, I used to post a new recipe every Monday. These days, Mondays are reserved less for baking & more for health coaching, but I’m going to do my best to revive this tradition in honor of Vegan MoFo.

Relish Tray – A play on the word relish, as in “to enjoy,” these posts are little blurbs about vegan products or restaurant dishes that I’ve enjoyed.

Thankful Thursday – Because gratitude is important for any truly healthy lifestyle, I like to do at least one public post of the things I’m thankful for each week. I encourage you to do the same & share your favorites over on the Michelle Shea Walker [the blog] facebook page.

Dinner & a Movie – Inspired by the “TV Tuesday” prompt over on the Vegan MoFo blog, I’ve decided to incorporate a segment I call Dinner & a Movie. During these posts, I will share some of my favorite beauty-themed movies with you, accompanied by a vegan recipe that fits the theme.

Beauty Vlogs – Due to the popularity of my first Vegan Cuts Beauty Box review, you can expect to see many other video reviews soon. Wanna see them before anyone else? Be sure to subscribe to my Youtube channel to be the first in line.

And finally, if you follow me on instagram & twitter, I’ll be starting a Health is Beauty project there called #KaleEveryDamnDay in which I promise to [you guessed it!] consume at least a serving of kale every damn dayYou see, kale is not only a powerhouse of nutrients, but it’s a beauty addict’s dream! It’s my health coaching secret to quick, glowing skin: eat a shit-ton of kale. Three servings a day is rockstar, but even if you can only fit one in, you’ll still notice a difference. Therefore, I challenge you, dear readers, to join me in my MoFo efforts to eat kale every damn day this month & photograph the evidence. You can tag your post w/ my handle: @michelleshea & #KaleEveryDamnDay.

Let’s get glowing!

xoxo,
msw-logo
P.S. As a special treat for my fellow vegans during MoFo month, I’m offering 10% off all of my health coaching services for anyone interested in or currently living a plant-based lifestyle. If you’re interested in taking advantage of this offer, please email me at michellesheawalker@gmail.com for more details. 🙂

Party Favor: Pumpkin Spice/Gingerbread Cookies [v,gf]

Tonight, the Omnivore & I are throwing a Halloween party. I’m spending the morning cleaning & baking while he decorates with spider webs and glittery skulls. I love our parties because they give me the opportunity to introduce delicious vegan/gluten-free items to our many omni friends. It’s rare that friends aren’t surprised our fare is vegan, gluten-free, and/or sugar-free & many even ask for the recipe afterwards.

My first recipe on tonight’s party planning list: Gluten-free, Vegan Pumpkin Spice/Gingerbread Cookies [also soy-free & sugar-free]!

party piles.

Ingredients [inspired by Babycakes Covers the Classics‘ Gingerbread Cookies]

2 1/2 c brown or white rice flour [I used both because I ran out of my preferred brown rice halfway]
2 c Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour
1/2 c arrowroot
3 tbsp ground ginger
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp xanthan gum
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 c melted coconut oil
2 1/2 c maple syrup
3/4 c unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c canned pumpkin
1/4 c vanilla extract
optional: a few dashes of pumpkin pie spice

In a large mixing bowl, sift together dry ingredients.
In a medium bowl, stir together wet ingredients.
Pour wet ingredients into dry & stir until just combined.
Scoop large spoonfuls* of batter onto a cookie sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown with crispy edges.

*for more uniform cookies there are 2 options: 1. wet hands & roll dough into balls to place on cookie sheet  for perfectly round treats or 2. let dough chill covered in the fridge for 20-30 minutes, then cover a surface with rice flour & roll dough out to cut into shapes before placing on cookie sheet.

Make Something Monday: PBJ Brown Rice Porridge

So, I planned on this evening’s post to be about the delicious ginger/pumpkin cookies that just came out of my oven…but it’s a bit dark in my apartment to get a good photo just yet. Stay tuned. And to hold you over until then, here’s a quick bite of my breakfast creation from this morning: PBJ Brown Rice Porridge.

leftover brown rice + a PBJ craving = creative breakfast options

Ingredients

leftover brown rice [I had about 1/2 of the 1 cup I’d cooked a few nights ago]
1/4 c coconut milk
2 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp all-fruit jelly [I used strawberry]
a dash of cinnamon

Place all ingredients into a medium sauce pan over medium heat, stir until coconut milk has been absorbed and peanut butter has melted.
Top with extra jelly or peanut butter if so desired.  Enjoy.

Note: This recipe is super filling. I couldn’t even finish the bowl.
I mean, it’s grains + nut butter…what did I expect? [see also peanut butter banana quinoa]
That being said, it’s still pretty tasty when you’re craving PBJ and out of gluten-free bread. 🙂

Thankful Thursday 10/18 – 10/25

This week, I’m thankful for:

♥ my first free sugar blues workshop tomorrow @ 7pm CDT [RSVP on facebook to attend!]
♥ voting early for our favorite president [hint: rhymes with yo mama]
♥ our first delivery from Door to Door Organics [purchased w/ a discount from Veganmania]
♥ playing battleship to stay sane during a REALLY long wait for brunch @ Tweet

And tonight, I’m particularly thankful for my web hosting site: Green Geeks!

After hours of trying to figure out the technical details of switching domain names for this blog [soon to be michellesheawalker.com, bookmark it!], I finally gave in and messaged customer support. Not only was the solution simple, it wasn’t even my problem! Green Geeks totally took care of everything for me. And have I mentioned they’re also environmentally friendly and wind-powered? If you’re ever in need of web hosting, I highly recommend them.

Wellness Wednesday: Sunny Bunny

Did you know the simple act of smiling improves your mood?
So does playing with pets and doing good deeds.

So this Wellness Wednesday, I’m encouraging you to do all three:

1. Take a look at my sister’s cute pet bunny, Tombi, dressed up as a sunflower.


2. Smile because she’s adorable [and oddly content to be sitting in the flowers for this photo].

3. Click on the photo to go vote for Tombi in the Monster Cute Photo Contest. She’s made it into the top 25 all on her own, but she needs your help to win! You can vote once a day everyday from now until October 29th.

Bonus do-gooder action: the prize money will help my brother-in-law, Cody, pay for vet school so thousands of other bunnies like Tombi can remain healthy & happy in his care.