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! 


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"

* 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

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.


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! 

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