The Vegan Experiment, Day 17: Mango Bok Choy Stir Fry and Chocolate Sea Salt Blood Oranges

It’s been a long week. This weekend, I flew to Texas to help my best friend’s boyfriend propose to her ๐Ÿ™‚ The proposal went very well (she said yes, of course), and I got to begin my official Maid of Honor duties. So much excitement ๐Ÿ˜€ On the other hand, I’ve gotten very little sleep since Wednesday night, and I will have to pull an all-nighter tonight to finish my thesis chapter, which is due tomorrow. As of now, 7:15 pm, I have 15 pages to write. I totally got this, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Anyway, I’ve been writing all day and will be writing all night, so I knew that I needed to take a break to cook a good dinner and perhaps prepare a nice snack to eat while working (in addition to the gallon of coffee I plan to drink…haha).

For dinner, since my Wok has been sadly unused thus far this year, I decided to make this wonderful Mango Bok Choy Stir Fry, with my own additions, of course! I’d never had Bok Choy before, and I’ve never had mango in a savory dish, so I figured today was a good day to try. In addition to the bok choy and mango, I decided to add my favorite vegetable: kale! You can never go wrong with kale ๐Ÿ˜€ The grocery store was sadly out of green onions, so I made do without.


I also didn’t have white sesame seeds, so I used black ones instead. I also substituted half a tablespoon of gluten-free soy sauce for the tamari. Yum!


To make my stir fry more substantial, I decided to add noodles. I had half a package of Udon left over from my Ramen a couple weeks ago, so I cooked the noodles in a mixture of two cups vegetable broth and 2 cups water.


Even though the recipe called for a regular skillet, I used my Wok ๐Ÿ˜€ I love cooking with that thing. I put the kale in with the bok choy.

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I added the cooked and drained udon to the pan after mixing in the vegetables, but right before the mango.

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I topped the whole thing off with some cracked black pepper, and served it with the leftover mango slices ๐Ÿ˜€ Absolutely freakin’ delicious. Warm, spicy, with a slight sweetness from the mango, and very filling. And I have enough left for lunch tomorrow, which makes me ridiculously happy ๐Ÿ˜‰ This meal is going to be a staple for me this winter.


For a snack, I went with something sweet but not too sugary. I didn’t want just fruit, because it’s not enough to keep me going throughout an all-nighter. When I found this recipe for Dark Chocolate-Dipped Blood Oranges with Sea Salt, I knew I had a winner. I love blood oranges. That color is absolutely gorgeous, and I like that they’re a little tangier than regular oranges.


Happily, I had a bag of vegan chocolate chips on hand (surprisingly, since every time I go near those things, I can’t resist from eating a handful…or two).


This dessert was super easy to make, and absolutely delicious ๐Ÿ™‚ It has everything I love about desserts in it, including continuing my love affair with sea salt, and it’s just the right combination of sweet, salty, fruity, and a hint of savory. It’s going to be difficult to save some for tomorrow’s dessert…

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All-in-all, today’s vegan meal was a perfect success ๐Ÿ˜€ I heartily encourage y’all to try out these recipes ๐Ÿ™‚ Good eating to you!

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The Vegan Experiment, Day 12: Pretzel Bites and Sea Salt Brownies

Thursdays are the best days. Well, this semester, anyway! I don’t have graduate classes or any teaching responsibilities on Thursdays, so I don’t have to leave my house at all until it’s time to depart for my weekly East Coast Swing Dancing meeting ๐Ÿ˜€ That means I can write my thesis at home, in my pajamas, as comfy as I want to be. It also means that if I feel an irresistible impulse to take a study break and do some cooking, I am completely free to do so ๐Ÿ˜‰ Today was one such day, and because I haven’t had time to do any recipe-testing since Sunday, I figured it was totally okay for me to test two instead of just one. The results were delectable: pretzel bites and double-chocolate sea salt brownies! I’m quite spoiled.

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I am a total sucker for soft pretzels…in fact, I would classify it as an addiction ๐Ÿ˜€ There’s nothing quite like the crispy outside with the soft, doughy inside and any form of topping, whether it be sea salt, garlic, cinnamon, or anything else. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to enjoy any in almost a year because they’re expensive and not quite good for you ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Also, since going vegan, I’ve been wary of buying them ready-made, because they’ve usually got butter and other animal products in/on them. But today, when I thought my cravings were going to kill me, I found an easy vegan pretzel bite recipe! It had to be providence.


I haven’t made dough in years, so I enjoyed getting my yeast starter going again, in addition to making the dough by hand. No blender necessary!

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I didn’t have any plastic wrap, so I used a Ziploc bag to contain the dough while it rose for an hour ๐Ÿ˜€


Instead of rolling the dough into ropes and cutting it, as the recipe suggests, I instead pulled off small chunks and formed it into nuggets. Boiling them in the soda-water bath was quite an interesting experience, but it went well!

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I brushed the tops with canola oil ย and sprinkled some sea salt flakes on them, then popped the pan in the oven. While they were baking, I made two separate toppings: garlic butter (made with Earth Balance), and cinnamon with Turbinado sugar. Yum!

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The pretzels came out perfectly golden brown! I topped half with the garlic “butter,” and the other half with cinnamon sugar. And they were just as delicious as I had hoped they would be ๐Ÿ˜€ I put half the dough in the fridge so I can make some more next week!

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I’ve also been craving a good brownie…thesis work is very stressful, and girlfriend needs her chocolate! Most of the vegan brownie recipes I’ve come across, though, have been reviewed as crumbly or cake-like, so I’ve left them alone. Fortunately, I found this simple recipeย from one of my favorite blogs, The Minimalist Baker ๐Ÿ™‚ I had all the ingredients on hand, and so I got to work as soon as the pretzels were out of the oven.


Also, flaxseed egg substitutes are fun! And so very healthy for you.


The mix was much thicker than regular brownie mix, but it tasted amazing! I used Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa since I didn’t have the dutch variety, and I also used Turbinado sugar, which is my new favorite kind of sweetener!


I also added half a cup of vegan dark chocolate chips. Dairy-free chocolate is so much more delicious than the mainstream processed stuff…it tastes more like pure chocolate instead of chocolate-flavored sugar! So much yum.


I put them into a baking tin, and then, because I freaking love the combination of salty and sweet, I sprinkled sea salt flakes over the top of each individual brownie ๐Ÿ˜€


I only had to bake them for 24 minutes. After cooling ย for 7 minutes, they slid out of the tins very easily. And oh my sun and stars, they are delicious! The consistency is the same as normal brownies, and they are very indulgent and delicate. The seat salt flakes were the perfect addition, as they prevented the brownies from being too rich to eat ๐Ÿ™‚ I think next time I may add a pinch of cayenne and see what the dash of heat does. Chocolate and pepper go perfectly together ๐Ÿ˜€


Today has been very delicious ๐Ÿ˜€ I can’t wait to see what happens with my day off next Thursday!

Posted in Baking, Chocolate, Dessert, Recipes, vegan | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Vegan Experiment, Day 8: Lemon-Garlic Alfredo with Peas, Corn, and Roasted Asparagus; and Roasted Chickpeas

I had several recipes planned to try over the past few days, but life being what it is…well, that didn’t happen. I had to sustain myself on leftovers and PB&J. Not that I’m complaining, since those leftovers were pretty dang good! But I had some extra time today, and decided to actually make a full dinner dish. And then, when I finished my thesis chapter several hours ahead of schedule this afternoon, I figured I should celebrate by making a side dish. Thus was the Sunday dinner born (a rarity for me – I’m usually too busy to cook a full meal on Sunday nights!).

My decision to make the vegan Lemon-Garlic alfredo stemmed from two separate recipes: this oneย from the Minimalist Baker, and a similar recipeย from Food Network. The latter recipe was easier to make, so I just borrowed the roasted asparagus idea from the Minimalist Baker ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve never had cooked asparagus, and I thought it would be fun!


Since they take about 30 minutes to roast, I got them in the oven first. While they were cooking, I began on my side-dish: Oven-Roasted Chickpeas. I picked up a can of chickpeas at the grocery store on a whim, and figured this was the best way to try them out, as I’ve only ever had chickpeas in hummus.


It’s very time-consuming and rather annoying to remove the husks from the chick peas after washing them, but thankfully, I’m in a film class this semester, and our assignment for today was to watch “Anatomy of a Murder,” a Jimmy Stewart classic that’s almost 3 hours long. I was thus well-entertained throughout my cooking today ๐Ÿ˜€



After the chickpeas were dry, I coated them with the coconut oil and added the spices. Once they were on the pan, I set them aside while my asparagus was cooking. It was time to get the rest of the dinner ingredients together.

012I got the water boiling for the pasta, sprinkling it liberally with sea salt. Do not neglect to salt your pasta water!!! Cooking in salty water gives the pasta flavor on its own. Anyway, I used my favorite brand of gluten-free spaghetti, as that’s what I had on hand. By the time the asparagus came out of the oven, the pasta was cooking, and the sauce was blended and ready to go, and into the oven went the chickpeas. At the same time, I put some corn and peas on the stove ย to warm up, along with my chopped up asparagus.


When the pasta was done, I mixed about a quarter cup of the pasta water into my sauce, and cooked it up on the stove with some garlic, oregano, and basil. When it was warm and thickened, I turned the heat off, and added the pasta. Isn’t it gorgeous?! All those beautiful, natural colors.


The chickpeas were finished roasting about the same time the pasta finished, which was a timing miracle. They filled my kitchen with a wonderful spicy aroma. It was difficult to not eat them all right then and there!


To go with my meal, I toasted up some vegan multigrain bread and spread it with some vegan garlic butter. Then, because I didn’t want to drink plain old water with such a fun meal, I took a slice of the lemon I zested for my sauce, and added it to my glass of water. Voila! A perfect Sunday dinner.


Unfortunately, I discovered that I don’t like cooked asparagus – the texture is too much like green beans, which I have always hated. Everything else was insanely tasty, though ๐Ÿ™‚ It was a good way to round off my first full week of being a vegan. I feel healthier, am more conscious about what I eat, and have lost about three pounds. It’s been a good journey so far!

Posted in Dinner, Gluten-free, vegan | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Vegan Experiment, Day 3: Semi-Homemade “Ramen”

I really love Ramen. And by that, I mean that I love the pre-packaged, delicious, but oh-so-bad-for-your-health kind that is a guilty pleasure for many people and a staple of living for broke college students. It’s quick, cheap, filling, and decently tasty on cold evenings, so try as I might, I couldn’t break the habit despite knowing bad it is for me. Once I began my new eating resolutions, however, I knew that I would have to walk away. Imagine my joy when, last week, I discovered a recipe that could fill the Ramen-shaped hole in my life! Of course, the original recipe isn’t vegan, and there were some things I wanted/had to change taste-wise, but it’s a really great base recipe and wonderfully versatile.


The first order of business was to get rid of the chicken broth – I brought out my trusty Swanson vegetable broth instead, and it worked wonderfully. Instead of using the processed Ramen noodles, I used organic Udon (hence the “semi-homemade”…I didn’t have time to make my own noodles!), which are ridiculously quick to cook and quite tasty. I also left out the mushrooms; no matter what I do, I can’t get myself to eat a fungus. The very concept grosses me out ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I don’t have time to grate ginger, so I usually get mine freshly grated at the market. This time, I unfortunately didn’t have fresh garlic, so at the stage of the process when you’re supposed to cook the grated ginger and garlic in the sesame oil, I put extra oil in the pan, put the heat on low, and added the garlic and ginger, letting the mixture darken and become fragrant.



When the oil and spice mixture was ready, I added the vegetable broth and some spices of my own: cracked black pepper, sea salt, and onion. Yum!


Instead of pre-cooking the Udon first, I added the noodles to the simmering broth, and stewed them in the broth, which was a good choice! The noodles picked up all the flavors of the broth quite nicely. As the noodles cooked, I added one drop of Sriracha to the broth. Yes, just one – adding any more than that with an already spicy soup would have made it unbearably hot ๐Ÿ™‚ 3 minutes before the soup was ready, I added the kale and carrot shreds so that they would be tender without becoming mushy.


The result was amazing! Hot, spicy, comforting, full of veggies, and lacking the processed taste of the dorm-room version ๐Ÿ™‚ The recipe made enough for 3-4 meals, which meansย I know what I’m having for dinner (and maybe even lunch!) tomorrow ๐Ÿ˜‰ I can’t sing the praises of this meal enough. I am never going back to pre-packaged Ramen.

Oh, and what better way to finish off a good hot meal than with a good cold dessert? I broke out a serving of my favorite vegan gelato, and my day was officially twice as awesome ๐Ÿ˜€


I’ll be back on Thursday with another post ๐Ÿ™‚ Enjoy!

Posted in Dinner, ice cream, Recipes, Soup, vegan | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Vegan Experiment, Day 1: Sweet Potato and Pomegranate Tacos

Now that I am back at home after a very hectic and stressful day of travelling, I am ready to begin my New Year’s resolution: a month of veganism. I’ve planned out my whole menu, including at least 5 new recipes to try per week, did my grocery shopping, and now it’s time to start! Today was the first, and it went quite well, I think ๐Ÿ™‚

I had separate meals planned for Breakfast and Lunch, but I was really exhausted last night and ended up waking up at 11 this morning (and may or may not have gotten out of bed until 30 minutes later). School doesn’t start back up until tomorrow, though, so no harm done. I was, however, too late for breakfast, so I settled for brunch instead. When I went grocery shopping yesterday, I was very happy to learn that my favorite brand of gluten-free waffles are also 100% vegan, so I grabbed a box for emergency meals like today’s brunch. It was pretty simple: waffles with a thin spread of Tofutti “Better Than” Cream Cheese and some vegan strawberry jam, along with a side of fresh cantaloupe. I’d never had Tofutti before, but I’m pleased to report that it tastes almost exactly like cream cheese, which made me very happy ๐Ÿ˜€


Picture from company website.

I’ve already been taking vitamin B-12 and iron supplements since becoming a vegetarian; now that I’m going vegan, I’ve added an Omega-13 supplement and Calcium with Vitamin-D. I like the chewables best…swallowing pills always makes me feel like I’m choking.

Picture from company website.

Picture from company website.

Dinner tonight came from a recipe that made me decide that trying to be vegan for a month was feasible and possibly delicious: Black Eyed Peas and Sweet Potato Tacos. I absolutely love tacos, but I’ve sadly not had any since going vegetarian. Bean burritos just don’t taste the same. Therefore, I was very happy to test these out, and I am ever so thankful that I did! I left out the onion and the pepper (the former because I forgot to get one and the latter because I hate green peppers with a burning passion), and added some cayenne to the sweet potatoes before I roasted them. I also used whole wheat tortillas instead of corn because I like the texture better.


When stirring the peas and potatoes mix on the stove, I added some dried cilantro. I also added romaine lettuce and shredded kale after taking it off the stove, and then garnished the whole thing with some fresh cilantro. Best. Dinner. Ever. Seriously, it’s surpassed Bean and Kale Stewย as my favorite meal. The variety of spices made it savory and earthy, but the fresh cilantro and the tangy pomegranate seeds really brightened it up. The seeds also added almost a dressing to the whole thing because of the not-quite-sweet, not-quite-sour juice when I bit into the seeds. Mmm. I only meant to have one taco, but I had two…and I don’t regret it ๐Ÿ˜‰ And I have enough leftover for lunch tomorrow! This meal has gained a permanent place on my menu…I encourage everyone to try it. You won’t regret it!

Well, that’s day 1 of veganism down for me ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll post again to document tomorrow’s journey. Thank you for following along. If you have any favorite recipes, feel free to share them in the comments…I’d love to try them out!

Posted in Breakfast, Brunch, Dinner, Gluten-free, vegan | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Year’s Resolution: Vegan for a Month

veganIt’s been a few months since I’ve been able to post, what with school and working three jobs and quite a bit of traveling shenanigans. During that time, I’ve mostly stuck with the recipes I’ve already blogged about because they’re convenient and I know they work ๐Ÿ˜€ I haven’t eaten any meat, and have pretty much decided to be a permanent vegetarian, as meat has completely lost its appeal for me. Plus, my health and energy have greatly improved since I gave up meat products, including my fibromyalgia issues, so I can’t really argue with those results!

Anyway, I was really excited at Christmas because I got two vegan cookbooks! The Boyfriend’s mother bought me Vegan with a Vengeance,ย and my own mom got me the Forks Over Knives cookbook (their website was a big reason I became vegetarian in the first place). I also discovered vegan.comย , which has some amazing recipes and tips for vegan eating. I’ve been experimenting with vegan recipes recently anyway, but my love of cheese and eggs has so far prevented me from actually doing anything serious with it. Looking seriously at all my options, plus having the physical books on my shelf, have inspired me. I’ve decided that I’m going to try eating completely vegan for a month, starting when I get back to school next Sunday (January 11th). I have a month’s worth of awesome recipes planned out, and I intend to blog about all of them ๐Ÿ˜€ Who knows, maybe I’ll like it so much I’ll just stay with the plant-based diet ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for joining me on this journey!

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A Very Vegan Fall Afternoon: Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Apple Crisp Treats

One of the best things about fall is that the university where I work/attend school takes a “Fall Break” in October. I get a four day weekend to relax, sleep, watchย Doctor Who…and do some cooking ๐Ÿ˜€ We had a gorgeous rainstorm in my neck of the woods today, and it made the air smell so much like autumn that it instantly made me think of two things: pumpkin and apple. The urge to do something with these flavors was so insatiable that I went hunting for some recipes, and then walked to the grocery store (in the rain!) to get the ingredients. And hallelujah, was everything delicious. I decided to make a coffee drink of some kindย to warm me up after that cold, breezy walk…and of course, I needed a warm dessert to go with it ๐Ÿ˜€ The result was a homemade pumpkin spiced latte and some mini “apple crisp” treats. All vegan, of course! Talk about an awesome afternoon.


My coworkers (and most of the internet) joke that you know Fall has arrived when Starbucks starts listing its Pumpkin Spice Latte on the menu. Well, as tasty as that drink is, it’s not exactly healthy for you. Starbucks uses several different highly processed syrups and sugars, not to mention all the dairy…and, horror of horrors, they don’t actually put any pumpkin in the drink ๐Ÿ˜ฎ So I figured I should make one at home that would be just as tasty and filling, but better for you and completely vegan ๐Ÿ˜€ When I found this recipeย on one of the vegan sites I visit regularly, I knew I’d struck gold.


Her recipe calls for any non-dairy milk, so I used unsweetened almond milk, which is my go-to staple for milk now. I also added half a teaspoon of ginger and one tablespoon of pure maple syrup , and I may or may not have added some extra cinnamon. I really like my drinks to be strong and spiced up ๐Ÿ˜€ I heated the pumpkin milk mixture before adding the coffee to it, because coffee drinks should be really hot, in my opinion.


The coffee part was incredible. The Boyfriend got me a bag of locally roasted coffee beans at the Farmer’s Market a couple weeks ago (he’s definitely a keeper :D), and I finally purchased a coffee grinder today. I ground the beans right before making the coffee, and the result was so full and rich that I just wanted to savor it for a long, long time. It added some really deep, fresh undertones to the latte. Nothing beats freshly ground coffee.



As for the latte itself, I loved it. I will never purchase one at Starbucks now, because I will only be able to think of how delicious the one I made at home was. If you like pumpkin spice drinks, please give it a shot!


One of my favorite apple desserts is my mom’s apple crisp: sweet with a bit of tang from the apples, and the perfect sweet granola-esque crust. However, I don’t really have enough time in my day to make a full crisp, plus, it has a lot of sugar in it…far too much for one person ๐Ÿ˜€ So, after searching for an easier to make version (and finding nothing), I decided to make my own! Here’s the recipe (portioned for one person…you can double/triple/whatever as necessary):

  • 1 Fiji apple, cored and cubed (I prefer to leave the skin on, but you can peel it if you want)
  • 1 TBSP cornstarch
  • 2 TSP lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup + 1 TSP brown sugar
  • 1 TSP vanilla
  • 1/4 cup quick cook oats (can use more if desired)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp ginger to taste

Set over for 375 F. Core and cube the apple (I use Fiji because they’re crisp and good for baking, without being as tart as a Granny Smith); set aside. Mix the cornstarch, lemon juice, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and the vanilla together in a bowl. Add the spices and oatmeal, and blend thoroughly. Add the apple cubes into the bowl, and stir to coat each piece completely. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil (you may also want to lightly spray the foil with vegan cooking spray), and spread the apple mixture over the tray. Make sure that the pieces aren’t too close together. Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from over, turn all the pieces over, sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of brown sugar over the pieces, and put back in the oven for 7 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately!






My word, these little bites tasted just like mini apple crisps! The apples were crisp on the outside and soft and apple-pie like in the middle. They were just sweet enough to satisfy my sugar cravings without being overpowering. Next time, I think I may add more oats to the topping, but I do love these treats as is. Mmm. Next up: Vegan Pumpkin French Toast for dinner with The Boyfriend tonight ๐Ÿ˜€ I’ll let you know how it goes!

Posted in Dessert, farmer's market, Gluten-free, Recipes, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment