Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mango Cardamom Tart with Almond Rose Cream

On a Saturday afternoon, after church had already finished and I was back at home... I wanted to make something special to take to my cousin's house. So I skipped over to the kitchen to see the ingredients I had on hand. Organic whole wheat flour. Hm... Mangos.... cardamom... Wheels start turning... 

And then this happened.


I wish I took a picture when it had just been made. Unfortunately, I forgot until I had already covered it.


This tart was approved by all the cousins that gave it a try, and it disappeared in less than 3 hours. Even  a teenager from church gave it a try and I could hear her speaking quietly to her friend, "This is different. But it's really good!"

And that's pretty much the best way to describe this tart. Different. Very different, actually. But oh, so pleasant. 

The one thing I recommend that I didn't do - please, put the mango tart in the refrigerator for at least 4 solid hours. Had it been cold, it would have been even better than it already was!! 


Mango Cardamom Tart with Rose Almond Cream

Makes one large tart - serves 6-8 GENEROUS servings (more if cut smaller)

Crust Ingredients:
* 2 cups organic whole wheat flour 
* 1 cup earth balance vegan butter 
* 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
* 2 tsp. coconut nectar (or maple syrup)
* 2 tsp. ground up chia seeds
Directions:
1) Combine flour and butter together with pastry cutter, then with hands. Add coconut palm sugar, coconut nectar and ground up chia seeds. 
2) Continue mixing with hands until dough sticks together into a ball when you press it all together (this may take a couple minutes because the butter will be slowly melting as you handle the dough).
3) Press into your favorite tart pan with removable bottom (I used a heart shape tart pan that's bigger than those metal pie pans). 
4) Bake at 375 F for 12-15 minutes.
5) Allow tart to cool for 10-15 minutes. 
6) Flip tart onto your favorite serving dish. 
Mango Topping Ingredients:
* 2-3 Tbsp. coconut nectar (or maple syrup)
* 1/3 tsp. ground cardamom
* 2 mangoes, sliced thin
Directions:
1) In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients until cardamom and sweetener have spread equally amidst the mango slices. 
2) Set aside to let the flavors sit.
Almond Rose Cream Ingredients:
* 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
* 2-3 medjool dates
* 1 tsp. vanilla
* pinch pink sea salt

* 1 cup raw almonds (skin removed, if possible)
* 20 organic rose petals, whites removed
* 8 drops stevia
* More sweetener (not more stevia), if desired
Directions:
1) In a vitamix blender, combine almond milk, dates, vanilla, and salt until smooth. 
2) Add remainder of ingredients and blend until mixture is super creamy and to your desired sweetness. 
3) Set aside.

Assembly!!!

1) Pour 3/4 of almond rose cream into tart crust.
2) Add cardamom mango mixture on top, arranging the mango slices as you wish.
3) Pour (or pipe) the remaining cream on top as decoration, and garnish with extra rose petals and a HUGE drizzle of raw coconut nectar. 
4) If you want the flavors to mingle together, let sit in the fridge for 3-4 hours or overnight. If you just want to eat the dang tart like I did, you can do that too! 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~

Enjoy. I'm heading to bed pretty soon. It's been a long (and GOOD) day. I hope yours has been the same. 

Enjoy the tart. It's very fun to make.. and eat. 

Much love,


~ Natalyn















Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Multigrain Banana Bread Pudding Squares with Salted Date Caramel - Yum!

Hey you! I hope your week has been fantastic and full of sunshine.

And now, introducing a delicious, refined-sugar free dessert/breakfast that will rock your world!


Though the picture doesn't do it justice, these are what I like to call... *clears throat*

Multigrain Banana Bread Pudding Squares with Salted Date Caramel Icing



These were a hit at my house. My parents gobbled them up, and I was going bananas. ;)

The date caramel is SUPER SWEET, and the salt on top just takes it to a whole, 'nuther level! And here's the other plus: the recipe makes plenty, so you can save it for later to play around with it in other recipes (or of course, you could make the date caramel alone and enjoy some date caramel dip with apples).

Here's what I did with some of my leftover date caramel:


Ok, now let's talk about the bread pudding... It's just so fantastic with that date caramel! *cries*
Forgive me for the emotion, it's just. so. good. 

This recipe is a great way to use those leftover bananas that are just about to die from ripeness. I had five or six bananas just laying there, turning mostly black and getting too soft and gross to eat plain (I like bananas to be perfectly yellow with little spots if I'm going to eat them plain). You know how many banana bread recipes seem to call for 3-4 bananas, sometimes less? Well, mine calls for five overripe bananas. Hey, I had to use them somehow.

Though I am a HUGE sweet tooth, my tastebuds have changed over time, so I encourage you to add a wee bit more natural sugar if you're not used to eating refined sugar-free.

One more thing: though the bread pudding does take a whole hour with prep time and baking, the overall recipe is quite simple and the ingredients can easily be substituted with things you have at home.


Multigrain Banana Bread Pudding

Makes 1 loaf or about 20 squares

Ingredients:
* 5 super overripe bananas
* 1/8 cup coconut oil
* 1/8 cup grapeseed (or other) oil
* 1 tsp. vanilla
* 1/4 tsp. sea salt
* 3/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts (save 1/4 of this for topping)
* 1/3 cup oat flour
* scant 1/3 cup buckwheat flour
* 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup organic whole wheat flour
* 1/2 cup cooked brown rice 
* scant 1/3 cup coconut sugar (or more to taste)
* 15 drops stevia
* 1 tsp. psyllium husk, ground
* 1 tsp. chia seeds
* 1/2 tsp. aluminum free baking powder
* 1/2 tsp. coconut vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 360 F. Grease a regular size bread pan. 
2) In a large bowl, combine bananas, oils, vanilla, sea salt, and 1/2 cup of the walnuts with a hand mixer. Mix until combined.
3) Still using the handmixer (or whisk), add in the remaining ingredients except for the baking powder and coconut vinegar.
4) When everything is ready to pop into the oven add in the baking powder and vinegar and mix until thoroughly combined. Add the walnuts on top, and sprinkle some coconut sugar on there too, if you want. 
5) Place in the oven for 45 min., then remove from oven. Bread should look golden brown and smell delicious. 

YUM!

Now for the date caramel recipe - very important part of this recipe, and a very good recipe on its own as well. 


Date Caramel

Makes enough

Ingredients:
* 7-8 jumbo soft medjool dates, soaked if needed
* 1/8 cup almond milk, adding more as needed
* 1 tsp. coconut butter
* 3 tsp. coconut nectar (or maple syrup)
* 1-2 tsp. alcohol free vanilla extract
Directions:
1) In vitamix or a high speed blender, combine all ingredients until the consistency is similar to spreadable caramel. 
2) Spread on apples, desserts, scones, or whatever else your heart desires. You can also spread on multigrain banana bread pudding squares and sprinkle a little salt on top. 

Spread date caramel on finished squares, and then drizzle with coconut nectar or maple syrup. Sprinkle with coarse ground sea salt.


Nom. 

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I hope you enjoy this recipe. It's just too good. 

It's funny - and quite remarkable - at how different I eat these days compared to one year ago. I know that one year ago, this bread pudding would be pretty nice, but not OUT OF THIS WORLD delicious like it is now. 

Do you want to go on a little adventure? Try eating just fruits and veggies for a week, and you will be surprised at the way you taste things. My experience a couple months ago when I tried this was marvelous: a simple, bland celery stick became the saltiest thing I had ever eaten, and that gross carrot stick from the cafeteria's salad bar became the sweetest vegetable ever to cross my path. It was amazing. 

It's been quite a thoughtful week, being that a new school year is starting soon at the University I attend, and I have been thinking about my future a lot. Fun ideas bounce in my head, such as running 5ks, rock climbing at Joshua Tree, starting a restaurant, becoming a dietician, traveling to Argentina for a year - random stuff like this. Will it happen? I sure hope so, and will work towards this goal as I pray to my heavenly Maker about it. 

Have a beautiful remainder of the week, and I shall visit here soon with another delicious dessert recipe - hint: it uses an exotic spice, a popular edible flower, and a favorite tropical fruit. Oh, and it didn't even last 3 hours at my cousin's house.

Much love,

~ Natalyn


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Creamy Plantain Dessert + Recent Eats

A pile of perfection... 


I used to always wish I was perfect... I still struggle with this from time to time, but I am SO much better to myself about doing my best. 

I'm learning more and more that it's the imperfections that remind us to do our best. If we were all perfect, we would have no experience under our belts, and how boring is life without rich experiences and life lessons?? 
Only God is perfect. But that's ok, because He's awesome that way. The rest of us are human - and.. awesome just the way we are. So there! :)


I wish I could say this plantain dessert was perfect... but actually, that would be boring and overrated to use that word. What I CAN say is that it's one of the tastiest things I've made with only 3 or 4 ingredients - EVER! 
My mom went nuts with it. 
My dad went nuts with it. 
My sister's boyfriend went nuts with it.. 
My sister!.. I could go on, but I think you get the idea. 


Plantain Towers

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:
* 3 extremely ripe plantains, peeled over running water 
* 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
* coconut cream (refrigerate coconut milk can for entire day or overnight)
* cinnamon, for garnish

Directions:
1) Slice up peeled plantains. I sample a bunch a couple slices as I prepare this - they're so delicious. 
2) In a medium small frying pan, combine plantains and coconut oil. Cook the plantains in there, uncovered, for 3-5 minutes, moving them around frequently. When finished, remove from heat and cover pan. Plantains should look a bit more golden by now. 
3) Take a cookie cutter/1/4 cup measure/coffee scooper/or anything similar to those things, and cram a big spoonful of plantains in there. Put on a plate and slowly lift the mold off the plantain "tower". 
4) Whip up coconut cream with a spoon and place a generous dallop (bigger than what you see in the picture) on the plate, wherever it looks nice. 
5) Repeat until all the plantains in the pan are gone! Enjoy immediately! 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~

I've been on such a plantain, hummus, and veggies kick lately (together, but also in different things). Here are my latest exciting eats from the last couple weeks:

Vegan pizza - not the healthiest, but every once in a while it's quite the delicious treat. This one was southwest style - my favorite flavor for practically any dish (besides dessert and smoothies). It was also packed with fun veggies like kale, tomatoes, green onions, and mushrooms.
Strawberry kombucha = YUM!!!!!! Kombucha is the best - SUPER good for your digestive system too!

My first attempt at spring rolls. Not too bad... *goes for seconds*
And my favorite - Ezekiel sprouted grain bread with authentic traditional hummus, topped with a bunch of arugula leaves.
It looks like I've been eating up a storm over here, but believe it or not, I'm probably eating less than I have in a while. See, I'm playing with my portion sizes this week - I'm trying to listen to my body more and stuff, so we'll see how this goes for the rest of this week. So far, so good. 

Working out more too. I did a Fitness Blender today before rock climbing - I was a sweaty mess when I finished this one! 37 minutes of hardcore cardio (well, it was hardcore to me).


I post a lot of this kind of stuff on my instagram (natalynintheraw), so you're welcome to follow me if you want to gawk at healthy delicious eats, try some uploaded workouts, and stuff like that. **UPDATE:   for personal reasons, I don't have an Instagram account anymore**

Have an awesome remainder of the week! I hope you get lots of sunshine, activity, and tasty healthy noms to highlight your week! <3

Much love,

~ Natalyn

Monday, August 12, 2013

Pina Colada "Soft-serve" Sorbet + Update

Believe it or not, I've been making a TON of new recipes. The only problem? I haven't written too many down. In fact, I wasn't planning on writing this one down until an instagrammer asked for the recipe. 

I'm actually very glad she asked. This stuff is good. VERY good. And there's no ice cream maker needed! 


These past couple weeks have been just as tough as they have been beautiful. I'm using so much time and energy on my current health goals/my current job that I haven't had much time to post things in my blog. 

Not much to elaborate on... well, not yet. Let me post the recipe first and then I'll keep talking. 


Piña Colada Sorbet

Serves 2

Ingredients:
* 1/3 cup coconut water
* 1 large medjool date, soaked
* 1-2 big spoonfuls coconut butter (I use one)
* 3 cups frozen pineapple chunks
Directions:
1) In Vitamix or food processor, lightly combine coconut water, date, and coconut butter.
2)  Now add the frozen pineapple chunks. Use the tamper if using the Vitamix, or keep pulsing if using a food processor (this may take a while). 
3) When at desired creaminess, scoop out into two bowls. Serve immediately. 

TIPS:
1) If freezing your own pineapple, make sure it is SUPER ripe. The riper the fruit, the more flavorful your ice cream will be. 
2) If using the Vitamix blender, make sure to HEAVILY use that tamper to push the mixture down. Do this the whole time until the sorbet is creamy. 
3) If Vitamix sounds like it's about to shut off (weird, low gurgle noise even though it's on super high speed), turn off, wait 5-10 minutes, and/or add a tiny bit of coconut water. Then turn back on and continue until sorbet is ready. 

~ ~ ~  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~ ~  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~ ~ 

... I wish I can say that I am the natural athlete, or at least that I enjoy exercising. Unfortunately, I'm not at the point in my journey that I can say I enjoy doing it. But I am trying. More than anything else, I'm trying to exercise consistently. 

Consistency is very hard, and takes so much time and energy (hence why I've been too tired to post much). I must admit, half the time I've been feeling discouraged. There have been plenty of teary nights filled with frustration at myself, at choices, and at the exercise itself sometimes. It ain't easy to start up - or perhaps even maintain - a habit. But this habit... This habit is worth it. 

I feel like I only know the tip of the ice burg when knowing about the amazing benefits of an active lifestyle. I'm looking forward to discovering more - and reaching my goals! 

I hope all is well with you, and that you are enjoying your health journey - trust me, that's what I'm trying to do (not easy, but it's worth it to enjoy every moment!).

Peace, love, and pineapple sorbet. <3 <3 <3

~ Natalyn

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"Behind the Scenes"

I love to write. Writing is nice because you can take your time to think about what you're going to say, then say it. Messed up? Delete it. It's that simple. Do I always love what I write? I guess not. But sometimes putting a pen to paper (or fingers to a keypad) is the best thing to do when you just can't shake a feeling, a thought.. or a recipe.
When I first started the blog, I wasn't sure if I had the type of writing style that would engage readers and make them wish to read more. I was scared, because at the time, that was what mattered to me. But the more I've written in the blog, the more I've realized that I am simply sharing my here and my now - it's not about what others think. 


I hope you all are having an eventful week. I know I am so far, as I have finally resumed working in the music building at my university (after an AMAZING trip to Mammoth with my cousins from Chicago). 

Today, I simply wish to share with you my thanks and the joy that I get with my passion for healthy living. For those of you who follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram, you know that I told you about my blog's one year birthday. Let me tell you, this first year has included my highest highs and my lowest lows in my life so far. It has been quite a journey. Though I would NEVER wish to repeat it, I would NEVER wish to change it. Each and every part of my health journey so far has helped shape me to be the person I am today and for the future potential I hold. 


The craziest part of this journey is how people have been so inspired by the blog and by my lifestyle. I didn't expect the amount of feedback, love, and support I received from my family, friends, and readers, especially since I was constantly changing my views, my diet, my lifestyle, my worries, my hopes, my dreams... 
I want to thank you for letting me know that this blog has contributed to your journey or perhaps has inspired you to live healthier and happier. But I also want to let you know that this is none of my doing.  I'm simply sharing the blessings God has given me and you. This blog is simply what one may consider a work of art from a broken painter, a beautiful ray of history from an old, jagged piece of pottery. 

So, I have a page on my blog called "About". But honestly, it's hard to put everything about yourself plus what you love all in one page, you know what I mean? Plus, my About page does not yet have a "behind the scenes" section to it yet. 

Behind the scenes makes a work more exciting and genuine, am I correct?

The everyday Natalyn is like a fruit salad or a box of handcrafted raw vegan organic chocolates. You really will never know what you get, but it's usually pretty sweet and sometimes a little nuts. I know, pretty silly of an explanation, but pretty accurate. Hey, I'm trying to be genuine! Cut me some slack! What I'm trying to say is that I'm a very random person. <-- simple wording 


The everyday Natalyn's mind is constantly thinking of food. Sometimes I consider this a curse, other times I consider it one of the biggest blessings of my life. But yes, I'm the girl who, when kneeling by her bed at night, catches herself accidentally praying a mealtime prayer instead of a nighttime one. 


I'm serious! Ever since I was born, food has meant a lot to me. I even associate memories with food. Sometimes I even remember the clothes people were wearing, the food they ate, what people said, and what music we were all listening to - all because of the food I ate at the specific event. I know, pretty bad, right?? 

Did I mention that in my toddler years, I would eat anything in sight?

Oh, I don't do that anymore, what are you talking about??? ;)

*side note: Seriously, I promise I did not eat that tree. I'm not THAT crazy* 

As a kid, I would steal food from kids' lunch boxes. I would push kids who were in my way so I could get that ice cream sandwich. I was quite the mean little hippo. I was also what my parents like to call a "food magnet". When we went to visit someone's house, I would somehow find the hidden stash of candy in the underwear drawer. *blush* Yes, the underwear drawer. As a kid, I would be awkward like that sometimes. Thank GOODNESS I'm not awkward anymore! I do everything with the highest amount of elegance and grace, wouldn't you agree?


Surprisingly, my food-loving self didn't get into making her own recipes until the teen years. Before this, my favorites to make were scrambled eggs, microwave popcorn, packaged mac n' cheese, and tortilla pizzas. Oh, and nachos. 
When I began my journey of changing my lifestyle, I had already been dabbling a bit more in making my own recipes, so thankfully, I had some experience under my belt. 
Raw Chocolate Sauce
Some recipes would turn out great, others would be flops, and some would propel me to a new level of experience (I guess I'll call it a chef's "level up). When I first became a mostly plant-based eater, my favorites for a long time were sweets. I LOVE sweets, and used to have the biggest sweet tooth (still do at times). 

Organic Vegan "Oreo" Cake - will add this one soon, hopefully!
After a tough set of experiences, I finally realized that I needed to broaden my palate or else things wouldn't be too pretty in the future. I also removed processed sugars from my everyday diet, so that helped a lot. 

I started experimenting with new grains, different fruits and veggies, and a variety of nuts, seeds, powders, salts, extracts, you name it! And, long story short, making diverse dishes finally became a bit easier for me! 


At this point of my life, making a dish is easy as pie compared to the difficulty I had before. Sometimes it can even be second nature. 

Working out, however, is not second nature for me. It can be quite tough. Now let me tell you something: I'm no athlete. I was the girl in P.E. who would always get picked last for sports, and the one who would lag behind when running laps. To this day, I still don't understand the rules to football, even after countless times where the coach would try to explain it to me. I was never "good" at exercise, and didn't want a part of it (unless it involved harvesting fruit, chasing chickens, or making mud pies outside). At times, I still don't want a part of it.

However, a month or three ago, I was reminded in many ways (harsh ways included) that exercise needed to be a bigger part of my life. 
Currently, my journey is mostly focused on broadening my perspective of what health truly means - I especially aim to expand my understanding and appreciation of exercise. Whether we like it or not, physical activity is an important part of a truly healthy and wholesome lifestyle. 

So here I am right now, the everyday Natalyn with a love-hate relationship with exercise. My favorites as of late? Tabata timer training, hiking, and rock-climbing. 


And for those of you who have followed my blog faithfully from the beginning, you may remember the posts I did on running..

Yeah. Running is definitely a love-hate relationship for me. 


Besides searching for health and wellness in my life, I also have other things I enjoy. 

I have an obsession with my cat, Sabrina. 




She is the cutest thing. I love her so much. If you looked on my phone, you would see pictures of 1) food and 2) my cat. Pretty much it. ;) With the occasional smattering of pictures of my friends and family. 

I also have a deep passion for music. Ever since I was a kid, I was deeply involved in music. My parents are both musicians, so, naturally, they put me in piano lessons since the age of six. I loved the lessons at first, then I hated them, and then I loved them again. I also took music theory, which is pretty much like musical algebra. 

Thanks to the music training, I now am a music major at the university I attend. I also enjoy composing. I am currently learning how to actually write down what I compose. It's rather tough to do at times - it takes a lot of patience, as it can be rather tedious. 


The last random fact you may not know about me... I LOVE OKRA!!! Really. I eat it like popcorn sometimes. 


~ ~ ~ ~  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I hope you enjoyed my giant plant rant today. Pretty random, but nice to put together. I think all these plant rant posts are a sign! Maybe I need to start writing my first book soon. That may or may not include a section with recipes. ;)  

Much love,

~ Natalyn

























Friday, August 2, 2013

HIGHLIGHTS as of Late + A Fun, Tasty Travel Snack Recipe

The last week or so has been filled with family, fun, and food! I have so many highlights to share - highlights from what I've been stuffing my face with lately, highlights of my trip to Mammoth with the cousins, and other randomocities I feel are relevant enough to include in this post! ;)

The highlights started when my mom and I were preparing for the trip. We bought wayyy too much food, so much so that we are still trying to finish it off.

Highlights are in no specific order of importance. They are, however, in chronological order. 

Highlight #1: Finding fresh lychees at Trader Joes. These are so amazing.


Highlight #2: Making granola bars that I thought would be flops, and everyone liking them (including the picky members of the family)! This is the recipe I will be sharing in today's post, but let me finish catching you up first! 

Highlight #3: Enjoying the beautiful scenery at Mammoth! 



COLD!!!

Highlight #4: Making a handful of new, delicious recipes while on the trip.

Mashed chickpea salad 
Avocado cilantro-lime salad 
Highlight #5: Drinking a delicious kombucha flavor I had never tried before!



Highlight #6: Meeting a golden doodle for the first time. I'm not the biggest dog person, but this one is a cutie!! 


Highlight #7: Seeing more beautiful scenery on a seven-mile hike (still in Mammoth)



Highlight #8: Coming back home and making an INTENSE vegan chocolate cake for my cousin (warning, NOT THE HEALTHIEST!)

The picture is a bit blurry, but you get the idea. By the way, those are Newman O's, not Oreos. There is a difference, because Newman O's are organic and more on the healthier side than Oreos. 


I finished the last piece of that cake this morning. *guilty face* Well, at least the frosting had almond yogurt and organic maple sugar in it!

Highlight #9: Sharing a new recipe with you today! 

I call them tropical oatmeal raisin snack bars. These are mostly raw, can easily be made vegan, and are quite delicious. 


These bars have so many good-for-you ingredients! Almonds, fruit, coconut, raw honey...

I consider raw honey to be cruelty free because the companies and people I buy from do not deplete the honey from the nest - they work WITH the bees, and make sure the bees have enough to sustain their population and produce more honey. They also do not feed the bees sugar water (which I consider quite cruel, as processed food should never be forced into an animal's diet). My main point: a good beekeeper does not STEAL from the bees, neither does he/she HURT the bees. Rather, the beekeeper works WITH them.


Some may argue that one cannot say they're SHARING when they are "clearly" STEALING. But what if I did think this way? If I did, than I would probably be a breath-etarian. I would become extreme, and say that we are stealing the animals' environment. I would live in a small hut, and allow the bugs to come and live with me. I would have to look under every leaf before harvesting, just so that I don't kill a bug. Then I would still be sad because I just ate a bug's home. 

I just can't afford to think so extreme. In my humble opinion, true vegan-ism is trying your VERY BEST to nourish and care for your body, the planet, and everyone inhabiting it, as much as you humanly and personally can. The grim reality is that humans cannot save the world. We make mistakes. We're not perfect. There's facts out there about people eating a certain amount of spiders in their lifetime. We kill bugs (and animals) every day through simple and silly mistakes. We waste water in the shower because we sang that one song five times in a row and lost track of time. We are not perfect. But we can try our best, and we can find a way that works for each one of us individually. I truly believe that we are stewards of this earth, and are responsible for taking care of all that is in it. But I also know that each one of us has a unique set of responsibilities. 

I have friends and family who love animals and take amazing care of them every single week, but they are meat eaters for medical reasons (they have tried the vegan diet, but it unfortunately didn't work for them and they became quite sick on it). Do I still consider them to be true stewards of this earth? YES!! Absolutely! They are doing their part to help the animals around them. 

I'm another example: I used to be the strictest vegan, but at some point I was driven to an extreme point of guilt, shame, and depression that I never want to arrive at again. 
Therefore, I always try my best to be as vegan and healthy (to both the planet and myself) as I can, but at the same time, I also keep in mind that I'm not perfect. Besides, I would rather decide to be mostly vegan than to completely give up all of my hard work. 

Think about it. Why are so many people (myself included) SO set on this "all or nothing" mentality?? We would save so many lives if every person in this world ate one less meat meal a week, or did one extra eco-friendly deed each month.

Plant rant is almost finished. Bear with me. 

I don't want my strict vegan friends to feel like they're "being extreme", or "crossing the line". You're not. In fact, I admire your strength and dedication. However, I also want to put this perspective out there so that people realize that becoming healthier and living compassionately does not necessarily mean you have to become a "perfect" vegan, nor does it mean that one must wear 100% recycled clothing. It just isn't possible for many of us. 

But should we always strive to do the best we personally can to care for ourselves and for those around us? Absolutely. :) Each one of us has a unique purpose... and I find that so beautiful. 

... :)

Recipe time!!!

Now that I got those thoughts off my chest, I would like to share this tasty snack recipe that is great for traveling! 



This makes about 8 large bars, or about 16 "bites". These are made to be refrigerated, but I'm sure they will be fine if left out for a day. 


I was pretty nervous when I first pulled out the tupperware of these bars to share with my cousins. My sister had fallen in love with them before the trip, which made me feel a bit better. But this moment was the deciding factor of whether I would put these bars on the blog. First, aunt and uncle tried, and approved immediately, to my surprise. Then, the cousins (who can be picky eaters - especially the little one) tried. And even THEY loved them. Aunt and uncle both raved so much about the bars that they even went so far to say that I should SELL them at the university I attend. I laughed, and thanked them for the honest feedback. 

I hope you enjoy these bars as much as my family did. The bars travel so well, and are the perfect thing to take on a plane ride, a road trip, or even to the typical ride to school, work, etc. 


Tropical Oatmeal Raisin Snack Bars

Makes 8 large, skinny bars, or 16-18 "bites"

Ingredients:
* 3/4 cup rolled oats
* 1/4 cup dried coconut flakes, unsweetened
* 1 Tbsp. coconut sugar (or other variety)
* 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
* 2 Tbsp. nut butter
* 2 Tbsp. raw honey (Vegan options: organic agave, date paste, or coconut nectar)
* 1 tsp. coconut butter
* handful raw almonds
* handful raisins
* handful unsweetened diced dried mango
* pinch of salt (pink himalayan is best)
* 1 Tbsp. milk (such as organic soy or almond)

With Hands:
* coconut flakes
* unsweetened diced dried mango
* raisins

Directions:
1) In food processor, combine all ingredients except for milk and "with hands" ingredients. Mixture should be quite doughy.
2) Take out doughy mixture, and mix in the coconut flakes, mango, and raisins. Roll out onto parchment paper, and flatten with hands (you may need to wet your hands first) until desired thickness is reached. 
3) Using a pastry knife or cake cutter, cut into eight bars. Other option: Roll into balls for energy "bites". 
4) Wrap individual pieces in plastic wrap, and refrigerate (If making bites, put them all in a tupperware container, and refrigerate).
5) Celebrate your hard work with a freshly made snack bar and a glass of water.

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Thank you all for your support. Most of my readers don't comment here much, but they love to tell me in person how much they love my blog, and I just want to thank all of you for doing that. Thanks to your feedback, I'm still blogging today and continue striving to meet my goals. 

Much love,

~ Natalyn

P.S. I have lots of fun recipes to share soon!