Saturday, December 1, 2012

'Tis the season!... for cookies. ;)

Hey, y'all!!

Well, guess what day it is?? December 1st!!! *crowd cheers dramatically*

This called for celebration, so I decided to make some cookies. From scratch. Completely my own, and gluten free. :) And super duper tasty - so much so, that they seem sinful!

Introducing...


The reason for the darkened screen is because I was too lazy to take a good picture it was terribly dark outside, so don't blame me for the sucky picture. 

Perhaps if I give you a fanciful, wordy explanation of what's inside the cookie, you will get a better idea of how mouthwateringly delicious it is! 
So, here it goes:

Imagine a hearty oatmeal cookie, still slightly warm from the oven, with a buttery yet sweet flavor - but not terribly sweet. From the first bite, you can detect the rich notes of ginger and allspice, and perhaps a kiss of molasses (actually, it's maple syrup). As you swallow the scrumptious confection, the spices warm your throat as they enter their gentle path to your very happy digestive system... ahh, the perfect thing for a cold, late autumn day!

Drooling yet? 

I know I am, even though I already sampled about ten cookies a few. 

By the way, these are best when completely cooled off - just the right amount of crispness, with an amazing chewy center. 

Ok, I get it, you're dying. Onward to the recipe!

Cookies before baking! Mmmmm...
Soft n Spicy Oatmeal Persimmon Cookies

Makes 15-20 cookies, depending on size

Ingredients
* 1 1/2 cup almond flour
* 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
* 1/4 cup + 2 tsp. coconut palm sugar
* 1/2 tsp. sea salt
* Pulp of one soft persimmon
* 1/4 cup maple syrup
* approx. 1/8 cup olive oil
* 1 tsp. vanilla
* 1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
* 1/2 tsp. allspice

Directions
1) Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a regular-sized cookie sheet and set aside. 
2) In a medium to large bowl, combine almond flour, oats, palm sugar, sea salt, and spices. 
3) Add the wet ingredients - persimmon, syrup, olive oil, vanilla - to the same bowl, and then mix until thoroughly combined. 
4) The batter should be thick and moldable. Roll the batter into balls (about the size of a golf ball) and place on the cookie sheet.
5) With a fork or with your fingers, lightly press down on each ball until it looks more like a regular cookie. Don't press down too much, or else the cookie won't be as chewy and moist. 
6.) Before popping the cookies in the oven, garnish each with a sprinkling of ginger and a smattering of coconut palm sugar. 
7) Bake in the oven for 21-24 minutes or until golden brown (I baked mine for 24 minutes, and they came out burnt looking, but tasted amazing!).
8) Ooh la la!! Enjoy with hot chocolate, a glass of milk... or whatever else you desire. :)

I hope you all enjoy this cookie recipe as much as I did. 

Peace, love, and cookies. 

Much love,

~ Natalyn

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Managing with a College Cafeteria... and defining Moderation.

Hello, all!!

Today, I decided I wanted to talk on the subject of eating healthy with a busy schedule and limited resources. But today applies mostly to college students and teachers.

Luckily, my college does indeed have a vegetarian cafeteria - but sometimes, I grimace at some of the menu items - fries, veggie burgers, processed-sugar-laden desserts, fattening, cheesy dishes... :-/

But I'm going to tell you right now that it IS possible to eat healthy at a college cafeteria - and it doesn't matter if it's vegetarian or not! Here are the things I've picked up so far in my personal journey:

Breakfast:
* Stock up on fresh fruit - my cafeteria always has the same selection of fruit: grapes, bananas honeydew melon, and cantaloupe - and half of the time, the two melon varieties are tasteless (yet another reason why I choose organic and in season over store-bought). Therefore, I'm usually piling those grapes and bananas into my takeout box.
* Oatmeal is your best friend - My cafeteria also has a section for hot cereal. Usually it's oatmeal. Oatmeal is SO good for you, and what I love about it is that all of the toppings are on the side - including the cow's milk! Since I don't do the processed sugars, I usually put honey - a much better alternative - in my oatmeal.
* Scrambled tofu is not too bad - you know those mornings where you wake up and can't bear the thought of eating something sweet for breakfast - don't we all have those days? Well, if you're not against soy, try scrambled tofu out. I find it pretty tasty. I'm not sure this option is in every college cafeteria, since my college cafeteria happens to be vegetarian.

Lunch/Dinner:
* Go for the steamed vegetables - yeah, sometimes they are buttered, so if you're vegan or lactose/casein intolerant, be careful with that. Usually, the broccoli doesn't seem to be buttered - well, at least in my cafeteria.
* Plain can be good! - my cafeteria usually offers some form of rice. When it's white rice, I pile that in my plate/takeout box with my steamed veggies. Sometimes they have a rice that has kidney beans mixed in - it's delicious! Experiment with the simple sides, people! You may be surprised at what the cafeteria has to offer.
* Go for WHOLE GRAINS! - whole wheat bread, whole grain oatmeal, whole grain cereals, you name it!
* Beans are the best! - eat up those legumes! They are full of protein and fiber, and are super duper heart healthy! Coming from a hispanic (I'm Cuban and Chilean), beans and rice are fantastic together!!! ;)
* Skip the condiments - most of the time, they are sugar-laden, genetically modified, and fattening.
* Avoid fried stuff - I never eat the fries at the cafeteria anymore - they are artery-clogging, fattening, and simply downright unhealthy! I know it's hard to avoid fried things at first, especially when you see someone else piling them into his/her bowl - but I promise it will get easier.
* Choose your soup wisely - I say this because many soups are cream-laden and overly stocked with sodium, which is not a heart healthy option. I suggest that you choose the soups that have clear broth and that are filled with veggies. If you're a meat eater, chicken noodle soup is much healthier than tomato bisque soup (a.k.a. cream soup with tomato flavor).
* Dessert is not necessary for every meal - and this is coming from a sweet tooth, so I do understand how hard it is to skip on dessert. I usually cope with this by either eating fruit or going back to my dorm room and eating a natural cookie or two (either homemade or from a health food store).

You may notice I didn't mention anything about salad - I'm not a huge salad bar fan at my cafeteria - it's always the same, and the dressings are filled with sugar - which frustrates me to no end. Don't get me wrong - I LOVE salad. It's just that my cafeteria's salad bar sucks, in my humble opinion. Oh, but there is one thing I like to do at the salad bar:

* Go simple with salad - in fact, don't even call it a salad. Pick your favorite vegetable in the salad bar - let's say... cucumbers. And pile those - just those - in your bowl. By just choosing one vegetable, you won't need dressing AND you won't have to eat a bland salad (there is nothing worse than a bland salad).


I encourage you to try these things - whether all at once, or slowly - I'll leave that to you. :)
I DO know that your body and your heart will thank you endlessly for your healthy food choices, both now and later. I also know that it will get easier to avoid the bad stuff - I know it's hard, and I know some of you believe in "moderation" of these things, but here's my philosophy:

Moderation is good - great, actually! But what's the use of moderating the things that are bad for your health? That's like saying, "I only do drugs once a week." Your body will still be damaged in the long term. That's why I gave up processed sugar and fried food for good - I don't want to eat something harmful "in moderation."

In my opinion, the moderation should come in our portion sizes. You see, I used to eat seconds, sometimes even thirds, at meals. But then I started listening to my body and realized that it didn't want this large amount of nutrients and energy all at once. Therefore, I simply lowered my portion size to what my body needed. Sometimes, I eat a lot because my body needs that energy. Other days, I skip dinner because I'm still full and satisfied from lunch.


Well, that's my advice for the day, ladies and gentleman. I hope it was helpful, and I wish you luck and success on your health journey ~

Much love,

~ Natalyn <3



Friday, November 23, 2012

Maple Apple Crumble Cake

I woke up this fine morning with a craving....

For something warm, maple-y, cinnamon-y, and tasty.

And decided to be a mad scientist in the kitchen today. Here are my notes:

And here is the result:


I know, that picture is kind of blurry, but hey! I was excited, so cut me some slack! 


Make sure that when you make this recipe, you use some authentic maple syrup - not any of that  "Homestyle Syrup" nonsense... no offense.

I also reccomend that you use this apple sauce, because it truly adds to the flavor of this cake. If you don't use this apple sauce, I recommend that you cut down to 1/2 cup of applesauce instead of 3/4 cup.


Lastly, don't be worried about the huge amount of cinnamon - I assure you, it will only add to the delicious flavor of this cake.

Well, without further ado, here is the recipe for the delicious Maple Apple Crumble Cake!


Maple Apple Crumble Cake
Dry Ingredients
* 1 1/2 cup almond flour
* 1/2 cup rice flour
* 2 Tbsp. oat flour
* 3-4 Tbsp. coconut palm sugar
* 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
* 2 pinches ground allspice
*1/2 tsp. salt
Wet Ingredients
* 3/4 cup Trader Joes' chunky applesauce
* 1/4 cup maple syrup
* 1 minced green apple (just use a food processor)
* 2 Tbsp. melted coconut oil
* 2 tsp. alcohol free vanilla extract
Crumble Topping
* Oat flour (I used about 1/4 cup)
* Coconut sugar (as much as you want)
* Cinnamon (just for taste)
* Coconut Oil (not melted) - about 1 1/2 Tbsp.
* Maple Syrup (just a drizzle)
Garnish
* Sea salt !!! (important)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and grease a regular-sized, round cake pan.
2. In a large mixing bowl, mix all dry ingredients together with a wire whisk. Set aside.
3. In a small mixing bowl, combine wet ingredients together.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and mix until thoroughly combined. Cake batter should be thick, thick, thick! 
5. Spoon cake mixture into pan, and spread evenly throughout. 
6. For crumble topping, combine dry ingredients with coconut oil, and then add a hint of maple syrup. Form into large crumbs with your hands, and then crumble the crumbs all over your coffee cake. 
7. Stick in the oven for about 28 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. 
8. Remove from oven and let cool for as long as you can manage. Garnish with sea salt.
9. Serve with your favorite coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. ;)

I hope you guys enjoy this crumble cake as much as my parents and I did! 

Much love,

~ Natalyn

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I'm back!!!! With a recipe!!!

Hello, everyone!!

I'm back! Not only as a blogger, but as a person with a renewed resolve to be healthy. If I continue to go on this subject, I can write a book!

Therefore, I shall change the subject:

This is my dog, Rocky. Well actually, he's my sister's dog, therefore he is my "doggie nephew". Hahaha! I crack myself up!

Anyway, as you can see, this dude LOVES persimmons. In fact, today, my mom found the biggest persimmon yet to appear on our tree, and that sneaky Pete dun' stole it! He even ate some of the leaves attached to it!

I guess I better put this persimmon pie far out of his reach:


More specifically, a raw persimmon pie with maple almond pistachio crust! Ooh la la!  

And boy, was it tasty! 


The crazy part about this pie is its magical properties. You see, I'm a major sweet tooth, and this pie satisfies it even though it's only slightly sweet. 


Ok, ok, I've rambled enough. Onward to the recipe!!!!! 

Makes about 4 super mini pies, but depends on the cookie cutters you use. For me, it made two because the music note cookie cutter is HUGE!!

Persimmon Pie with Pistachio Maple Crust
Crust:
* 1/2 cup pistachios, shelled
* 1/4 cup almonds
* 2 dates
*pinch salt
To add later:
* 1 tsp. vanilla extract
* 1 tsp. maple syrup

*note* do not soak any of the crust ingredients. Only soak when I say to soak!

Filling:
* 1 hachya (soft) persimmon
* 1 fuyu (hard) persimmon
* 1/2 cup cashews, soaked for 30 min. or so, and then rinsed before adding.
* 2 dates, soaked for 15 min.
* Juice of 1/4 lime *optional*
* 1/4 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (I used coconut vinegar, but either way it will probably taste the same).

To make the crust: 1. In a Vitamix dry blender or food processor, blend all crust ingredients except for vanilla and maple syrup. Blend until crumbs are very fine. Then take that mixture and put it in a bowl. 
2. Add in the vanilla and maple syrup, and mix until very well combined. 

To make the filling:1. Place all filling ingredients into your regular Vitamix blender until smooth and creamy (may take quite a while).
2. Set aside. 

Now it's time to assemble!!1. Use your favorite cookie cutters of choice. Press crust at bottom of cookie cutter - to this to your desired thickness. 
2. Spoon in the filling. 
3. Place in the refrigerator for a couple hours or overnight.
4. EAT!!!!! :)

I hope all of you have a wonderful thanksgiving's eve! ;)

Much love,

~ Natalyn 

P.S. I might get my hair cut soon!! :O Woohoo!! 


Saturday, October 13, 2012

An update..

Hello, everyone. :)

Boy, do I miss writing to y'all. I hope you have had a wonderful week. I also hope you have been continuing your own journeys to health and wellness.

The first week or so of college I was doing so well with my vegan lifestyle.. but I was wrong about one thing... Being vegan in college is not easy. I was feeling deprived of those ice cream cones and was starting to get frustrated that I couldn't be a part of it. Well, emotions and frustrations built up to the breaking point:
I was at a party and there was cake and there were these Cuban spinach phyllo triangles that are OUT OF THIS WORLD delicious... but they are not vegan. Well, that day, I had something happen to me that many of you may relate to perhaps... I threw my hands up in the air and thought to myself, "you know what?? I don't care anymore. I'm just gonna learn how to eat food in moderation. Why did I even become a vegan anyway??? It's embarrassing when people tell you what does and doesn't have milk or cheese in it!" And I ate two cake pops and a spinach phyllo. And for that moment, I was happy... But from that point forward, things have been very hard for me - I feel like I've lost my identity. And, in truth, I had the wrong identity to begin with - sure, some say you are what you eat, but I believe you are who you want to be. I also have realized that labels can be dangerous. Lately, when someone has asked why I'm eating that cookie when it just may have an egg in it, I tell them that I'm not as strict of a vegan and like to eat things in moderation - but in reality, I'm struggling inside trying to decide if I'm vegan or not. I'm wondering why I decided in the first place to be a vegan...
What I'm trying to say is this: This time of my life is amazing for me, but it is also quite tough for me - I'm discovering who I am - piece by piece, day by day. Not just for my diet, but for my personality, religion, values, and ideas.. I don't want to be a stumbling block for anyone who has looked up to me for being such a "devoted vegan" or perhaps even a "wellness warrior".

I am coming to realize that in this point in time, I have no label defining what I eat or do not eat - I am simply under construction. And so is this website, perhaps...

I would like to ask that you pray for me, and encourage me. And forgive me - for I feel ashamed that I fell.

Much love,

~ Natalyn

Friday, September 14, 2012

My second raw cheesecake recipe EVER!

 I have yet to post my first raw cheesecake... I'll post that one soon enough.

But for now, check out my second attempt at a raw cheesecake:



Drooling yet? I know I sure was! 

So, what inspired me to make this cheesecake??? Browse Fragrant Vanilla Cake's recipes for raw cheesecakes, and you will completely understand my obsession with raw cheesecake! 

Let's take another look at this exotic treat, shall we? *giggles with delight*


Magnifique!!!

I'm so sorry, forgive me if I am sounding a little crazy at the moment. I truly don't mean to be this way right now, but I just get so excited! You can ask my friend. We went to a health food store together, and I started bouncing around like an idiot pointing at random healthy, vegan objects and squealing with glee. She even videoed me doing this. -__-  



Anyway, I was inspired to create this cheesecake flavor because I love pineapples and raspberries, and I had both of them on hand so I thought, "Why not?" And then the best idea EVER came to me: Put in some lime juice. And I did just that.



I've got to say, I was a little surprised at the end result: tastes just like pina colada! So, if you love pina colada, and you love raw cheesecakes, you will seriously LOVE this recipe. 

Ok, I'll stop babbling so that I can give you the recipe!



Raw Pineapple Raspberry Lime Cheesecake

Crust Ingredients:
* 1 cup almonds (do not soak)
* 4-5 dates
* 2 pinches of salt
Pineapple Filling Ingredients:
* 2/3 cup cashews, soaked for at least 30 min. (make sure to soak first, and THEN measure 2/3 cup)
* 1 cup diced pineapple
* 2 Tbsp. agave
* juice of 1 lime (you can add a little more if you want)
* pinch of salt
* 4 Tbsp. coconut oil (make sure that it is FRESH, not old)
Raspberry Filling Ingredients:
* 2/3 cup cashews 
* 3/4 cup raspberries
* 1 tsp. vanilla
* 4 Tbsp agave or honey (I used a little bit of both, mostly honey)
* juice of 1/2 lime
* pinch of salt 
* 4 Tbsp. coconut oil

Directions:
1) In Vitamix dry blender or your food processor, blend crust ingredients until almonds are pretty much finely ground and dates are well incorporated. Press mixture into bottom of springform removable bottom pan (about 9 inch, I believe) and place in freezer.
2) While your crust is freezing, blend all of your pineapple filling ingredients except for coconut oil. When pineapple filling is smooth and creamy and satisfying to your taste (if you feel it needs more sugar, salt, etc, you can add more to your taste), add the coconut oil.
3) Pour completed pineapple filling on top of your crust, and place back into freezer.
4) Blend raspberry filling ingredients except for coconut oil until smooth and creamy. Check for bitterness - if it's still a bit bitter (from the raspberry seeds), just add a bit more sweetener and a little more lime juice. When satisfied, add the coconut oil.
5) Pour raspberry mixture on top of pineapple mixture. Swirl both cheesecake filling mixtures together with a knife or spoon.
6) Let cheesecake set in the freezer for 30-45 minutes, or until firm (like tofu, sort of). 
7) For best flavor, serve IMMEDIATELY. Does not hold its good flavor for a long time in the refrigerator. 

I hope you guys enjoy this cheesecake as much as I (and my friend) did!

Much love,


~ Natalyn

P.S. You can try experimenting with a little less coconut oil - like maybe 3 tablespoons instead of four. I know it's a lot of fat. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Refreshing Juice for One

Hello y'all. :)

So today, I was realizing what a sugar rush I've had lately... ok, I didn't just "realize". I knew.

So I decided to start a little colon cleanse of sorts: Juice fasting - or juice "feasting", as Angela Stokes Monarch from Raw Food World likes to say. I agree with her, actually. Juice is good. It doesn't have to be torture to drink simply juice for a couple days. I know it sounds horrible, and it may feel horrible at first (because the toxins are exiting your body), but once you finish a juice feast, you will be so happy you did.

Today, I have a unique juice for my experienced juice feasters to try:


It looks like your ordinary green juice, right? 

But I added a secret ingredient...
Cilantro!! 

Wait, what are you doing? Don't leave! I promise it will taste refreshing!!

Nat's Refreshing Cilantro Juice for One

Serves 1 small glass

Ingredients:
* 1 green apple, washed very well
* 2 leaves lacinato (dinosaur) kale
* 1 big handful of cilantro
* 1/2 peeled lime (leave the white part of the rind on the lime)

Directions:
1) Run all ingredients through your juicer, starting with the cilantro.
2) Enjoy immediately! :) Your body thanks you.

WARNING: I do not necessarily recommend this juice as a starting juice for beginners. Cilantro is a strong, powerful herb and your body may not be ready to ingest it yet.

But if you have juiced before, then go for it!! :) I hope you enjoy this juice as much as I did - it's so refreshing!

Much love,

~ Natalyn.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Rice pilaf

Rice pilaf! Rice pilaf! Rice pilaf! ...


Well, those are the noodles. Later, I'll show you a picture of the actual rice. This recipe was loosely following a recipe for rice pilaf that I remember trying a year ago. You see, I had this packet of short noodles and at the back of the package was a recipe. At that time, I used real butter. It was so delicious, but I felt guilty eating it because of the fatty, processed butter I used.

Well, you can have your food and eat it too, you know! Today I have officially healthified that rice pilaf! I replaced the processed white rice with whole grain brown rice, and I swapped the butter with Earth Balance butter.


Healthy Rice Pilaf 

Serves 6 (half recipe serves a nice little meal for 4)

Ingredients:
* 2 cups basmati brown rice (I use the Trader Joes variety that they import from India)
* 4 cups water (or whatever amount of water you use for your basmati brown rice)
* 1 heaping tablespoon Earth Balance (you can use olive oil too)
* 3/4 cup short spaghetti noodles - fideos, I think they're called
* 2 tsp. cumin
* sea salt, to taste

Directions:
1) In a very large saucepan (or medium rice pot), bring water to boil. Flavor water with salt and olive oil if you'd like. Add your rice and let the water start boiling again. Mix your rice, and once the water is boiling again, cover and put heat on low. Set timer for 40 minutes.
2) In a medium frying pan, add the olive oil and let it heat up a bit. Add noodles, and stir frequently for about 2 minutes. Let sit for 30 seconds. Start stirring again and continue this pattern until noodles are golden brown and smell buttery, NOT BURNT. Remove from heat and set aside.
3) At the 20 minute mark, add your noodles to your rice and stir the rice. Cover again and let the rice cook for the remaining 20 minutes.
4) After those 20 minutes have passed, remove from heat, uncover, and fluff with fork or serving spoon. Add cumin and salt as needed, and mix thoroughly. Let cool for 10 minutes or so.
5) Eat, my child. Eat.

I hope you enjoy it - I know I did! ;)

Much love,


~ Natalyn

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Buttery Vanilla Almond Shortbread Cookies

Take a look at these beauties:


Nom nom nom!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so excited because I just received some almond flour in the mail that I ordered. It's so beautiful, and its nutty flavor and texture is perfect for shorbreads!! I'm sure this flour is also great for other things such as pie crusts, any cookies, and maybe even cake! If you would like to purchase some of this almond flour, check out http://local.honeyvillegrain.com and buy some natural almond flour. Here's what the bag looks like:

It's HUGE! It's a little bigger than a normal sized all-purpose flour bag. What a great deal!
Well, back to the cookies. The reason I made these cookies today is because I'm doing a test run of the food I'm making for my mommy's birthday dinner. Man, I'm so glad I made these! 



These cookies are a treat for your tastebuds! Their flavor is sweet, nutty, and unique, and the texture is crispy yet dense (the perfect crunch and a slightly soft middle). The nutty, rich almond flour pairs fantastically with the salty Earth Balance butter and sweet sugar. To add extra flavor and fragrance, I add the seeds of a fresh vanilla bean to the mix:

Here are some fresh vanilla beans! 
Here's another shot of those cookies before they bake to perfection in the oven:


 And here they are after being baked to perfection:


 Simply. Poetry.

Enough talk - Let's bake!



 Nat's Vanilla Almond Shortbread Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen mini shortbreads

Ingredients:
* 1 cup almond flour
* 1/3 cup Earth Balance Butter
* 1/3 cup coconut palm sugar 
* seeds of 1 vanilla bean

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a cookie sheet.
2) Place all ingredients in a large bowl. Make sure the butter is still cold from the fridge (shortbreads do not do well with melted butter). 
3) To access the seeds of the vanilla bean, use a sharp knife to make a slit at the top of the bean. Then drag the knife downwards until you have cut the vanilla bean in half. Inside will be a dark, grainy substance that is very fragrant. Those are the seeds. Scrape these into the mixing bowl with your knife.
4) With a fork, mash ingredients together. Then mix the dough with your own hands until well-combined and moldable, like playdough. Also, make sure the vanilla bean has been well distributed throughout the cookie dough.
5) Place the cookie dough on parchment/wax paper, and press it down to desired thickness (mine are a little on the thicker side). Cut into shapes with cookie cutters of choice and place on cookie sheet.
6) Bake for 10-12 minutes or until browned. The cookies will still be soft to the touch when you take them out. 
7) Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer them to a cooling rack with a spatula. Let the cookies cool and harden some more for another 5 minutes on the rack, and then they are ready to enjoy!

Bon apetit! Oui oui!

So what are you waiting for? Go make some cookies! 


Much love,

~ Natalyn :)


Monday, September 3, 2012

Chipotle - VEGANIZED!

Hello, my dears. Nope, no recipes today, unfortunately. Sorry. :'/ I am very excited to get my almond flour tomorrow, though, because I'm quite determined to make a gluten free vegan healthy donut recipe. :)

Anyway, today I would like to VEGANIZE another popular place:


I love Chipotle. They are actually a great place to try out your healthy options. Check them out:

* You can customize your burrito. My favorite combo is flour tortilla, cilantro lime rice, vegetarian black beans, grilled veggies, guacamole, and some other things like corn, lettuce and tomatoes. Mmmmm... so good. ^_^

* My very favorite: The Burrito bowl - you can also customize this. Well actually, you can pretty much customize everything on their menu! Here's what I suggest: black beans, brown rice, lots of corn, lots of grilled veggies, pico de gallo, a small dallop of guacamole, lots of romaine lettuce, and a little of that new tofu "meat" (it's pretty good, and gives a nice, mildly spicy flavor to your food)

* Tacos: Hard shell or soft tacos - these are customizable too, I think. That combo I recommended for the burritos would be amazing in the tacos, as well!

* Salads: Chipotle honey vinegrette - but if you're strict vegan or not into eating honey, you can probably bring your own homemade dressing to sprinkle on top? 

* Awesome side: Chips and salsa/guacamole! Delicious guacamole - nope, doesn't have milk. According to them, it's fresh mashed avocados. Delish!

* Kid's menu: Your choice of three ingredients and two soft or crispy taco shells. I think a killer delicious combo would be guacamole, grilled veggies, and cilantro-lime rice. Oh, and lettuce, if they're ok with one extra topping! The kids meal also comes with your choice of milk or juice - but I suggest asking for water instead - and yummy chips! I think your kids would love this meal.

Check out this link if you want to see HOW FRESH their guacamole is. They hand mash it in small batches every day! http://www.chipotle.com/en-US/menu/fresh_cooking/fresh_cooking.aspx

Also, if you want to see your gluten-free options, check out their special diet section - it's great! Special diet information

And here's what I also love about Chipotle: their care for our planet!

"Food with Integrity is our commitment to finding the very best ingredients raised with respect for the animals, the environment, and the farmers."

They're also trying to slowly incorporate more organic foods into their menu - currently, 40% of their beans are organically grown!!

Thank you Chipotle for being a great place to mingle with friends and also a great place to participate in eating planet-friendly foods!

Well, I hope you guys try out a super tasty vegan burrito from Chipotle, because they are amazing - so full of flavor! 

Much love, 

~ Natalyn







Friday, August 31, 2012

Macaroni Grill - the vegan way!

Hey everyone!!!!!

Today, I have a new restaurant to review/recommend/VEGANIZE: 




A good friend of mine (who happens to also be an amazing pastor at my church! Woohoo!) shared this awesome nutritious idea with me on my blog's facebook page, and I would like to share it with you:

"At Macaroni Grill, you can make your own pasta bowl using all the veggie options in place of the pasta, and then add the sauce or combination of sauces you like. We ordered grilled asparagus, caramelized onions, snap peas, roasted garlic, broccolini and sun dried tomatoes as the "pasta", and then put a mixture of pesto and marinara on top of it all. Think you would like it!"

Update: The pesto is not vegan. 

Now for some more fun news: I emailed the Macaroni Grill people last night, asking about their vegan  and allergen-free options. Their Guest Relations answered back immediately (excellent service, if I do say so myself). They were very kind and told me where the allergen information was on their site. They also said, and I quote, 

"We hope that you are able to choose a meal to your liking. Prior to placing your order, we encourage you to ask to speak to a manager and explain which foods/ingredients need to be avoided. The manager can then suggest menu items or create a special dish for you from ingredients in the restaurant. We look forward to serving you soon!"

They were great. Well, I went to their site (again) and I found this allergen info page they were talking about, and this is what it showed me:


Ignore my computer background - yes it's very boring right now because I just got a new computer. 
So anyway, here's the link to it, if you want to see for yourself: Allergen-Menu

By the way, it will also show menu items that are gluten free, which is awesome for gluten-intolerant people out there! :)

To make it easier for you, I have picked out my favorite wholesome menu items from this list and explained them below. 

* For antipasti/tapas: Peasant bread, mediterranean olives, and their FANTASTIC ciabatta bread.

* For salads: Fresh green salad and warm spinach and shrimp salad (without parmesan and shrimp), and both the balsamic vinaigrette and the mediterranean vinaigrette (but probably not sugar free, so be careful!). 

* None of the pizzas or soups are vegan, but I'm sure you can - as they suggested - talk to the manager and ask if you can have the pizza without the cheese (which can be quite delicious, I'll have you know!) If you're not hardcore vegan, go for the flatbread style or thin-crust pizzas and ask for very small amounts of lean meats, just a sprinkle of parmesan, and loads of veggies. 

* Pastas:
 - Capellini Pomodoro - fresh, cheese-free, and delicious! If you can't bear the thought of pasta without cheese, ask for a sprinkle of parmesan or nuts. But I encourage you to avoid the cheese altogether. 

* Macaroni Grill has a very cool thing now where you can create your own pasta! They have a bunch of tasty toppings/sauces to choose from. It's great. Click on the allergen-menu link above to see what I mean. :)

* Broccolini, fresh greens salad, grilled asparagus, and spinach and garlic are all wonderful sides. 

* They actually have a vegan dessert too, and it sounds delectable: White Peach Sorbet! Mmmmmmmmmmm!!! 

Well, that's it for today, folks.

Much love, 

~ Natalyn ^_^



Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cookies Galore!!!

Cookies are so delicious. The only problem is that I have been wayyyyyy too lazy lately. I haven't had a smoothie, salad, or even a handful of FRESH veggies in a week or something. I also have been slacking off on the exercise (uh oh!).

Too much cookies + no exercise + no veggies + unbalanced meals/lifesyle + sloppy sleep pattern = unhealthy, unhappy person.

Therefore, I'll definitely be eating more veggies. Gosh, I'm craving them!

And I'll probably be consuming less of those sneaky cookies as well....

^.^ teehee.

But as my grand cookie finale, I would like to present to you the ultimate gluten-free breakfast cookie:

Ta da! :D 
It is delectable. Super moist. Super sweet. Super good. You must try this recipe.

I highly recommend that you use this exact type of oatmeal for this recipe if you're not allergic/sensitive to gluten:
Coach's Oats - Cracked n' Toasted Oats
These oats are so good. The texture is unbeatable. It really makes these cookies extra special. You can probably find these oats at your average grocery store or places like Costco, Sam's Club, etc. If you don't find it there, you can always order some online. :)

Well, let's not waste any more time! Onward to the recipe:



Cinnamon Raisin Banana Breakfast Cookies
Wet Ingredients:
* 2 Tbsp. melted coconut oil
* 2 Tbsp. honey
* 1/4 cup nut or rice milk
* 1 ripe banana

Dry Ingredients:
* 1 cup cracked oats (whole grain oatmeal)
* 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
* 1/4 cup raisins
* 1 tsp. cinnamon
* 3 Tbsp. coconut palm sugar
* 2 pinches salt
* 5 Tbsp. oat flour

Last-minute Ingredients:
* 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
* 1/2 tsp. baking powder

Garnish (Don't skip this!)
* Cinnamon
* Dry sugar of choice (I use coconut palm sugar or dry maple sugar)
* Hemp Hearts

Directions:
1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Farenheight.

2) In your Vitamix blender, puree bananas, melted coconut oil, and milk (the honey will be added to the dough later). Pour mixture into a large bowl.

3) In a medium bowl, mix all dry ingredients. Add honey and the wet ingredient mixture. Also add your apple cider vinegar and baking powder.

4) Mix all your ingredients (except for garnish, of course) until well combined. The batter should be moldable, but still very messy.

5) With a medium-large spoon or ice cream scoop, drop cookie dough balls onto a greased cookie sheet. You can leave the cookies round or you can squish then into fat pancake-like cookies (I suggest the latter, but it's your choice!) Sprinkle cookies with cinnamon, dry sugar of choice, and hemp hearts.

6) Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

7) Eat, my child. Eat.

I enjoyed mine warm with some ice cold almond milk.
Warning: These are super duper addictive and you are going to want to eat more than one five.


Now, on to other matters:

I don't know when I'll be posting my next post, as I am very busy and oh my gosh I feel like such an adult right now because I'm going to college in a month and I have so many responsibilities and things to do and such- *deep breath* - and I just felt like venting that out because I love you guys!!

... My AP English teacher would be SO proud of that sentence!

Well, I gotta run before my English teacher hunts me down and scolds me for my reckless use of run-on sentences, colloquial language, and other grammatical misdemeanors.


Much love,

~ Natalyn :)








Sunday, August 19, 2012

Juice, Juice, Juice!!!

Hello, my friends!

So I looked in my refrigerator, and I saw:


Apples...
              
Kale...
                                 
Lettuce...

And then this happened: ...

JUICE!! 

Mmmmmmm! I know it doesn't look like "mmmmm" but you will never guess this has kale in it! It's such a refreshing drink, and pretty much tastes like apple juice! No joke, see for yourself. It was actually a bit too sweet for me. Next time I'm just going to use green apples, not fuji, but I'll leave that choice to you.


Green Boost Apple Juice

Serves 1-2 (makes about 1 and 1/2 big glasses)

Ingredients:
* 1 green apple, core removed 
* 1 fuji apple, core removed
* 1 medium head romaine lettuce
* 1 leaf kale
Directions:
1) Wash all ingredients, especially the lettuce (one leaf at a time), VERY thoroughly.
2) Prepare the ingredients by cutting them into pieces that will fit into your juicer.
3) Place cup under the spout and start juicin'!

Sweet. Crisp. Delicious. 


Enjoy. :)


Much love,

~ Natalyn
             

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Healthy Surprise!!! Busy people, check this out!!

Ok you guys! This is the moment:

Healthy snacking comes to your door! Check out my video where I will share with you my experience with Healthy Surprise company:

video
In case you missed anything....

When you subscribe to Healthy Surprise snacks you will get healthy, vegan, gluten free, snacks delivered to your door every month! Is that cool or what??

The boxes come in four sizes: starter, healthy (most popular), large, and extra large. All sizes except for starter are free shipping, which is way cool.

For more information on healthy surprise, check out their website: http://healthysurprise.com/

That's all for now. Have an awesome rest of the day!


Much love,

~ Natalyn

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Eco-friendly is caring for your body

Hello, my friends!

Today's my birthday!! Woohoo!

To celebrate, I just want to focus on one of my favorite subjects: going green.

Oh yeah, I know some of you might be groaning right now. Here comes the guilt trip, you're thinking. She's gonna rant and rave about global warming and about not using plastic and about recycling or else all the trees are gonna die!!!

...

No, I'm not. I'm going to talk about you. That's it. You know why?

By caring for your own body, you are doing your part to help this planet recharge. :)

Let me explain using my own experience:
When I first became more health-conscious, I still used the same ol' products I've always used: shampoo, lotion, nail polish, cheap makeup, heavy duty cleaners - you name it. But as I continued researching about good health and good food, I would stumble upon topics such as the parabens in lotions and shampoos or the horrible animal testing many products must go through.. And I really cared. I wanted to show that I cared, so much. But, like many of us feel sometimes, I didn't know where to start. And everything natural looked so expensive! But then I saw something very enlightening for me.. Of course it came from Raw Food, Real World by Sarma Melngailis and Matthew Kenney - that's one of my favorite books!

Sarma says that she learned to wear only what she could eat (and she's talking about lotion, shampoo, etc. not clothes! Please don't imagine someone wearing a dress made out of fruit).

What I learned from reading this is that you don't necessarily have to buy extravagant things to go green . I have replaced my lotion with coconut oil. I also use coconut oil as a mini detox of sorts (google "oil pulling". It's quite fascinating), mouthwash, scar-remover, and a supplement for my pets. Coconut oil is my hero! I have also slowly been replacing my old makeup with more natural makeups, and I feel so much more radiant when I wear it. My room has a section for regular trash and a separate basket for recyclables such as plastic, paper, etc. The same goes for the kitchen - we don't throw plastic wrappers in the trash anymore. We put all plastic, glass, and cans in our separate recycle bin. I also have a box labeled "Hazardous waste" for things like old, sticky nail polish, toxic materials, and other toxic stuff.

Now please do not think I am trying to boast. Boasting is not my intention whatsoever. I'm simply trying to show you that by caring for my own self, I have automatically been caring more for the planet. I use coconut oil because I know that my body will thank me now and in the long term. I recycle because I know that I will live in a cleaner, healthier environment. I have a hazardous waste box because I know that if I mindlessly throw those toxic things in my regular trash can, I will be affected in the long term. I will be breathing the chemicals. I will be less healthy. And why just accept that when I can do better for my own body?

Let me repeat what I said earlier: By caring for your own body, you are caring for the planet.



Because let's face it - we are all in the same planet. If we try to care for everyone else when we can't even care for ourselves,  how do we expect to do it?

Focusing on a healthy you is not selfish. It's thoughtful, for you, for the trees, for the endangered species, for the abused animals, for the poor families, for the small businesses... Since I'm a Christian, and since this is a free country, AND since it's my birthday (teehee), I would also like to remind my brothers and sisters in Christ (that means all of you) that God has given us a responsibility to our Earth. But also remember the verse "Love your neighbor as yourself?" Well, my point here is that you need to love yourself before you can love your neighbor.

Thank you for taking time out of your day to read this. I hope it helps take away any intimidation, worry, or question you had about going green.

Much love,

~ Natalyn



Sunday, August 12, 2012

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Soft-Serve

Hello, my peeps!

Ever had Fruyu? Or fro-yo? Or whatever they call it these days... It used to be my favorite guilt-free treat before I started avoiding dairy. I loved that there were all the different fun toppings, and the huge bowls, and all the different soft-serve flavors. All the fruity flavors like blackberry vanilla and strawberry kiwi (etc.) were my very favorite. 

Well, one day, I decided to get adventurous and I bought some coconut probiotic yogurt at the nearby Sprouts farmer's market. Then I froze a banana and three strawberries, added some coconut yogurt into the mix, and something very exciting happened:


Pure bliss. That's what happened. Oh my gosh. So delicious, only three ingredients, and you're seriously going to love it!!!

I love to add Chocolate-Covered Katie's Fudge Babies to this recipe. The creamy, refreshing deliciousness of the frozen yogurt paired with the rich, chocolate brownie adds to the amazingness of it all! 


I also added chopped kiwi, blueberries, and pineapples to my treat. Delish! The cool thing about this recipe is that it's a great base for a fun party sundae. We had some guests over recently and made a HUGE batch of this froyo with the side of brownie bites, kiwi slices, pineapples, and blueberries, and they loved it. I was so happy. :)
My goal with this blog is for people to enjoy healthy pleasures - I want to prove that eating healthy doesn't have to be super hard and self-sacrificing. You shouldn't have to give up your favorite treats. Just re-make them. :)


Here's the recipe:

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Soft-Serve

Ingredients:
* 1 frozen banana
* 3 frozen strawberries
* 2 heaping tablespoons vanilla coconut probiotic yogurt (yes, it's vegan)

Directions:
1) Blend all ingredients in your vitamix blender until creamy and delicious! You may need to use a spatula every 15 to 30 seconds to push down all the ingredients - well, unless you have that black pushing thing the vitamix comes with, cuz then all you have to do is keep pushing the mixture down while it blends. 
2) Serve immediately, as is or paired with delicious toppings like fresh fruit or cookie bites or nuts!

                       ~                         ~                        ~                         ~                         ~

It's almost my birthday. Woohoo! Just a couple more days. ^_^ My family and I celebrated in Pasadena. One of the places we stopped at was Kind Kreme. *giggles* Oh, it was so fantastic!! It's completely vegan and at least 80 percent raw - definitely a much better alternative to dairy- and sugar-laden ice-cream. 



Coconut chocolate swirl topped with cinnamon latte ice kreme!

Plain coconut chocolate swirl. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.

I soooooo want to remake that soft-serve!!! It's gonna happen. :D

In the meanwhile, you should seriously check that place out. There's one in Los Angeles too! 

I hope you're all having a wonderful summer! 

Much love,

~ Natalyn