S'mores Cupcakes

S’mores Cupcakes from Rawsome Vegan Baking

Every summer I get lazy. Admittedly, I used to blame it on a lack of central AC within the apartment but now that I actually have central AC and find that I still don’t want to do anything…well yes, I’ll admit to being lazy. Or maybe it’s more about the fact that during the hot hot summer, there are so many delicious fruits and veggies that require so little cooking- if any at all.

In the beginning of summer I was swimming in strawberries, and now I’m galavanting through cantaloupes and melons.

The days go a little like this:

“I’m hungry…what’s there to eat?”
“Argh. There’s nothing to cook.”
“Oh look- there’s melon!”

Seriously, we probably go through a melon every 2 days or so. This is of course on top of eating bananas and the mangos Mr. C’s dad sent up from Florida.

S'mores Cupcakes

Sometimes though, fruit sugar just hasn’t cut it but I also haven’t had the patience or interest to really sit down and bake something. Recently, when perusing the freezer I was once again found myself being accosted by a bag of nuts hurling themselves from the overly stuffed shelves and that’s when it hit me (literally)- Emily von Euw!

I’ve linked to her blog, This Rawsome Vegan Life, several times in the past and when she came out with her first book, Rawsome Vegan Baking: An Un-cookbook for Raw, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Beautiful and Sinfully Sweet Cookies, Cakes, Bars & Cupcakes, I ordered it immediately. Here’s the thing though, it’s been sitting on my shelves for at least a year now. Occasionally I pull it out to oggle at the beautiful photos, but I’ve never actually made anything from it.

S'mores Cupcakes

Even having had made several recipes from her page with huge success, when looking at the book, I told myself they were too simple. The ingredients too similar. There was no way they’d be that great. And, once again, I find myself feeling like an idiot because I was entirely wrong.

S'mores Cupcakes

Now mind you, my photos don’t even hold a candle to her amazing photography but trust me when I say these babies are goooood. I realized (again) that the recipes may appear simple and may appear similar but there are subtle nuances within each one that allows each recipe to be unique and delicious and it really hits the mark on whatever it’s emulating- in this case, s’mores.

S'mores Cupcakes

So basically, don’t make the same mistake I did. Give this recipe a try and the consider trying out some of her other delicious goodies. You’ll be glad you did- especially during the summer!

S’mores Cupcakes

Makes 6

Recipe very slightly adapted from Rawsome Vegan Baking: An Un-cookbook for Raw, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Beautiful and Sinfully Sweet Cookies, Cakes, Bars & Cupcakes
www.ThisRawsomeVeganLife.com by Emile von Euw

Crust
1 Cup Oats
1 Cup Pitted Dates, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Salt

Chocolate
3 TBSP Cacao Powder
3 TBS Melted Coconut Oil
2 TBSP Agave
Pinch of Salt

Marshmallow Layer
1 Cup Raw Cashews
1/4 Cup Coconut Milk (I used rich, full-fat canned coconut milk)
1/4 Cup Coconut Oil
2 TBSP Agave
Pinch of Salt

To Make the Crust: Process the oats in a food processor (I found mine couldn’t handle it and ended up using my Vitamix) until it is powdered. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until it becomes thick and even in consistency. Divide evenly between 6 muffin tins and press up around the sides. Stick in the fridge.

To Make the Chocolate: Mix all the ingredients together until smooth. Divide evenly amongst the 6 crusts.

To Make the Marshmallow Layer: Blend all the ingredients together until smooth and spread evenly on top of chocolate layers. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Keep refrigerated!

S'mores Cupcakes

Potatoes & Eggs with Mint Basil Pesto

There’s a reason why nothing was posted last week. A very important reason, I promise. Ok, maybe not so important at all…

Mint Basil Pesto

While I’m not one to typically commit to watching a TV show consistently, I am certainly one to get addicted (read: binge watch) to a series for a certain number of episodes or seasons before completely losing interest. Early last week I came across a Korean drama called “Doctor Crush” (also known more simply as “Doctors”) and well, quite honestly, I couldn’t tell you what I accomplished that week- I’m such a sucker for medial dramas. I mean seriously, you give me a good medical drama- one with some surgical action and awkward romance attempts and complicated unrequited love triangles and I’m totally hooked.

Mint Basil Pesto

Most of the non-essential tasks (“essential”, being a loose statement) were completely forgotten and pushed aside. I think I only truly accomplished going to the gym once and I managed to shower a few times and occasionally scrounge around for food like toast. Since I only know a single word of Korean, I couldn’t even manage any multi- tasking whatsoever.

I am thankfully able to report however that towards the end of last week I was able to finish the show (at least up to the most recent episode), break out of my stupor, begin life again and wonder why on earth I wasted so much of my week.

Potatoes & Eggs with Mint Basil Pesto

This week I’ve already gotten off to a good start (partially to make up for last week’s failures). I’ve begun to concisely organize posts on various social media platforms (if you follow me on twitter, you may have noticed my posting game has been on fire!), I also finally decided enough was enough with my pottery (my mom and I have gotten really into wheel pottery and our work now covers many surfaces within the house) and made an Etsy account with the hopes of slowly downsizing my work. I finally put together an Amazon seller account to try and get rid of that pile of college textbooks from previously taken classes. I also spent half the day on Monday hunting for inexpensive places to purchase boxes and shipping equipment. The answer ended up being one of my least favorite places: Walmart. Who knew?

Potatoes & Eggs with Mint Basil Pesto

Anyway, this recipe I’m sharing today is one I made no less than three times for breakfast last week. It was simple and hands-off enough (really just the occasional pushing around of potatoes) that it was one of the few things I could actually multi-task while watching Doctor Crush. While store-bought pesto works perfectly fine, I decided to alter the pesto recipe a bit to use up some of that “rogue mint” I keep talking about.

Potatoes & Eggs with Mint Basil Pesto

Serves 3-4
Recipe Adapted from Notions and Notations

1 TBSP Butter or Lard
6 oz Purple Potatoes (approx. 2 small or 1 medium)
6 Eggs
1/3 Cup Basil Mint Pesto
Red Pepper Flakes, optional
Freshly Ground Pepper, optional

Basil Mint Pesto:
2/3 Cup Basil
¼ Cup Mint
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese
¼ Cup Pine Nuts
¼ Cup Olive Oil
½ tsp Salt

Prepare the Basil Mint Pesto:

Combine the basil and mint in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add in the parmesan cheese, pine nuts and salt and process again. Add in the olive oil and process until it’s reached a smooth consistency. Cover and set aside.

This can be made in advance, if you aren’t using it immediately, store it covered within the fridge until ready to use.

Slice up the potatoes in 1/4 inch rounds.

In a mediums-sized, oven-ready skillet, add the butter or lard. Heat over medium heat until melted. Add the potatoes and toss to coat. Cook for about 10 minutes, pushing around the potatoes and flipping them as needed. About 5 minutes in, preheat the oven to 350° F.

Once the have started to soften, turn off the heat and add the pesto. Toss to coat. Once the oven is up to temperature, carefully crack the eggs into the skillet and add it to the oven. Cook for about 10 minutes in the oven or until the egg whites are set.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with red pepper flakes and pepper.

Potatoes & Eggs with Mint Basil Pesto

June’s Progress and July’s Goals

And in what always seems like the blink of an eye, we’ve officially moved into July (ooh hey, that rhymes). In some ways it seems like a lot has happened and in others, like nothing has changed. As I type this now, I’m at my grandparents’ house. We come to visit this time every year for my grandfather’s birthday and this year he is turning 92. They are currently sitting across from each other at the table, immersed in battle playing the harrowing game of Russian Bank. The windows are open in the living room, birds are chirping away happily in their trees and occasionally we hear the sound of a car driving by from a distance. It should come as no surprise that they are the King and Queen of enjoying the slow life and quiet moments. I have a lot to learn from them and undoubtedly a lot I never will learn but I figure at very least I can relax in these moments and visit whenever we are able (which is usually only Thanksgiving, Christmas and July 4th weekend).

Last month I feel like I made progress in enjoying more “quiet moments” however I also fell victim to still wasting more time than necessary –hello Facebook– on unimportant things. My focus then, for this month, is to continue working on my priorities and essentially things that allow me to get there in the short and long run.

Happy bees from when I went lavender harvesting.

Happy bees from when I went lavender harvesting.

Here is a recap of last month and the plan for this month!

LAST MONTH’S GOALS:

1. Write introduction and ingredients page for book proposal: I made some progress on this but ultimately didn’t finish it. And if were are being completely honest, I had a few nights where I really got a lot done in those evenings and then didn’t work on it for a good while.

2. Read 4 books: I read 3 books this month rather than 4 however it’s more than I would have otherwise so I’m pleased about it. I really enjoyed reading the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children) trilogy!

3. Finish “komono” items: This was an exciting success! While I had more difficulty officially sorting things to then go through them in a more organized manner (I really ended up just opening boxes and going through them that way) I feel that I’ve finally hit that “sweet spot” of being comfortable with the items I have kept. I suspect I’ll reassess things differently once Mr. C and I move into our own place and I can take everything out of boxes, but for now I feel comfortable with what I have chosen to keep. I’ve been realizing that I’ve taken a calm sort of happiness having many more things that officially have “a spot” or a home- a place to go rather than traveling aimlessly around the house.

4. Resume workout schedule: This definitely got much more on track and while my weight lifting took a bit of a back seat to Spinning classes this month, I’m excited to announce that I finished my Spinning Certification and have now been signed up as a substitute instructor at my local gym! I have taught two classes so far.

5. Post 2X/ Weekly: Admittedly, my “weeks” were a little disorganized however overall I can say that I posted much more often than I have in previous months and had 7 posts total for the month. I’d really like to focus on more consistency however.

This month’s goals:

1. Post Consistently This Month: As previously stated, I’d like to post twice a week but at a more consistent schedule within the week.

2. #LoveMySizeLoveMyLife: I’ve been much more active recently in terms of actually getting out and doing things. I’ve still been going to the gym and enjoying myself there but I’m excited to be focusing on doing things just for the sake of enjoying myself and being outdoors. Late last month I campaigned to defend fat and specifically discussing the importance of body fat. I plan to continue to explore and develop this idea.

3. Research Graduate Schools: In all my focus on “today” and “now” I’ve fallen behind on my graduate school research. I’d like to really make a focus on researching and really narrowing down my options. I’ve had two schools specifically in my sights for a while but I want to make sure there’s no where else I’m missing out on.

4. Continue Progress on Book Proposal: Continuing from last month I’d like to keep working on fleshing out the skeletal structure of the book.

Is there anything that you are working on this month? What are your goals and focus?

Pre and Post-Workout Snacks for a Healthy Lifestyle

Healthy snacking is something that is really quite simple, but with the rise of easy-access, super-processed snacks, it’s something that seems to have become more difficult or at very least, less obvious.

Recently, I found that Nuts.com is currently having a campaign for healthy, high-protein snacks for optimal post-workout recovery. As someone who has been getting much more involved in daily excursions in kayaking and biking and the like, I’ve really been on top of packing healthy high-protein, high-energy (aka, fats) snacks to keep me fueled throughout the day.

Sometimes I go ahead and prepare snacks and goodies beforehand but more often than not, I wait until last minute and grab something as I’m running out the door. Recent popular go-to’s have been bananas, dates & peanut butter, granola or just plain nuts in general.

nuts_post_workout_snacks

Thank you Nuts.com for kindly allowing me to use this graphic.

 

For me, ideal snacks involve no mess, no refrigeration (at least during the course of 4-6 hours- sorry smoothies!), no utensils and are chock-full of good-for-you ingredients! While there’s a lot of different ways you can go with this, I’ve compiled a list of sweet and savory snacks to enjoy before, during or after your active days or workouts!

Crispy Snack Edamame

With only 3 ingredients and a few seasonings, this recipe from Christine at Apple of my Eye is easy to grab and sure to please.

Crispy-Snack-Edamame

ZINGY ZUCCHINI BITES

A simple recipe of my own that really works well during the summer when zucchini is in abundance!

Zingy Zucchini Bites

MACA CHOCOLATE FRUIT AND NUT ENERGY BALLS

Along the sweeter lines, these fruit and nut energy balls are full of fats and fiber.

Maca Chocolate Fruit and Nut Energy Balls

SAVORY CURRY COCONUT GRANOLA WITH CHILE SPICED MANGO

This recipe from Rachel at Avocado A Day Nutrition make sweet granola a thing of the past!

SAVORY CURRY COCONUT GRANOLA WITH CHILE SPICED MANGO

CHOCOLATE ALMOND NO-BAKES

A recent creation of mine, these babies have it all: protein, carbs and fats!

Protein Packed Chocolate Almond No-Bakes

CHOCOLATE DIPPED COCONUT PEANUT GRANOLA BARS

Healthy granola bars from the store? Puh-leaze! You’ll be much more satisfied with these bars from Alice at Mitzy at Home.

chocolate-coconut-peanut-granola-bars

BEST EVER BAR NUTS

And rounding up the lot is a delicious nutty snack from Chelsea at A Duck’s Oven that will make you wonder why you ever bought those pre-packaged ones!

Best Ever Bar Nuts

What have you been doing to be active this summer and what do you grab when you’re on the go?

In Defense of Fat

Earlier this week we celebrated the first day of summer. Back in April I pushed my #HappyHealthyApril Challenge as a way to combat the negative expectations that occur during preparation for summer (“Bikini Body”- I’m looking at you!). So now that we are in summer and are all theoretically running around in bathing suits, tank-tops, shorts and other skimpy things, I wanted to address fat. Specifically, body fat.

Let’s face it, fat has a bad rap. The media is obsessed with telling everyone that they want to be skinnier, thinner, more toned- you name it and whether we want to admit it or not, most of us have bought into it some way or another. Most of us want to have less fat but for more for aesthetic reasons than health reasons (I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve fallen weak to this notion as well).

So today I want to talk about fat- specifically body fat and why it’s so important!
Body fat contributes to so many of the body’s daily functions including hormone and body temperature regulation, prevents friction between organs and serves as a physical barrier to protect those organs as well as provides energy storage.

First and foremost fat can be divided into two different designations, essential and storage and its functions correspond with those designations.

Essential fat is located in the marrow of bones, in the heart, lungs, liver, spleen, kidneys, intestines, muscles, and lipid-rich tissues throughout the central nervous system. Essential fat is- as the name implies- essential for normal bodily functions. According to the American Council on Exercise, essential body fat for women is between 10-13% whereas men are between 2-5%. It is believed that the reason why women have a higher essential body fat percentage is due to sex-specific fat for reproductive functions.

Storage fat, on the other hand accumulates in adipose tissue (aka, fat. It’s a loose connective tissue composed of adipocytes). It is located around internal organs as well as beneath the skin. It helps to physically protect the body and cushion internal organs as well as insulates to regulate and maintain body heat. It is also a source of fuel and energy for the body.

While the ranges for desired healthy body fat vary slightly from source to source and can also be influenced by age and athleticism, for women it is typically between 18-30% and for men it’s between 10-25%. Athletes usually have lower desired fat ranges specifically due to their sport and how their body composition best corresponds with it. That being said, they are typically on the lower lower body fat range (there are exceptions, however). Models (fitness, fashion and otherwise) are also on the lower end of things and are sometimes much closer to only having the essential body fat.

Now I’m not saying that models or athletes are all necessarily unhealthy but the point I want to make is that medically accepted ranges of body fat are often much higher than those we aspire to and that both essential and storage fat have important purposes and functions within our lives. Going too low or two high in body fat can both have negative effects on our lives and in the end, our health should be a much more important factor on our goals than our appearance.

Now go out there, love your body, love this summer and love your life! #LoveMySizeLoveMyLife