Does it make me un-American if I say I didn’t watch fireworks on the fourth of July? I did eat some Mac and Cheese though, which I think balances out the former sentence. Vegan of course, and Brittany-fied.
Does it make me innovative for chopping up some chocolate salted almonds for my banana/oat cookies because they’re all I had? I totally turned on the oven despite the 80 degree temps. Priorities.
Does it make me a lazy runner for switching from a half marathon to a 5K this weekend? I can’t pretend to be Zues anymore, running 13 miles with zero training just isn’t going to work. So I’ll run 3 miles and then eat donuts as if I ran 13. This sounds much better to me.
Does it make me inappropriate for saying that due to the aforementioned comment about the warmer temps, I’ve been sleeping with minimal zero clothing? I want to die every night. Does is make me obsessed if I can’t stop eating/thinking about the flat of raspberries in my kitchen? Local, organic, and only $10! Does it make me a genius for unintentionally figuring out how to soften dates? I left them in my car and the hot temps made them so perfect. Soft mushy sugary heaven for my crunchy salty rice cake. Does it make me easy to please if my morning cup of coffee at home right now is already the highlight of my day? I’ve been opening at work every day the last week, and coffee on the go is nothing like coffee at home with nothing but empty, quiet space around you. Does this make me an acrophile? Q: Finish the sentence, “Does it make me…?”
I’m a sweet-o-holic, this is nothing new. My diet consists of fruits and veggies by day, (with some kind of protein e.g. beans, quinoa, rice) and sugar by night. I try to find a healthy balance, but sometimes I get a little out of control with my sugar intake. I eat clean in an attempt to justify my naughty addictions to cupcakes, cookies, and brownies.
Sometimes when I find myself “overdoing it” in the baking department I put myself in a time out. No sugar for “x amount” of time, in an attempt to detox. You can imagine my excitement when I have a party to attend and something like this is posted…
Oh yeah, I volunteer to bring dessert. Perfect excuse to bake, taste a few treats, and then LEAVE THEM SOMEWHERE OTHER THAN MY HOUSE. It’s a win, win.
Most of my baked goods contain a decent amount of chocolate, and while this recipe has 1/2 cup of chocolate chips, its main stars are the cranberry and oatmeal flavors. This isn’t the typical type of cookie I bake, but my goodness did it knock my socks off.
Thanks to my homegirl Davida, I’ve discovered an AMAZING GF flour that I will forever be purchasing. It made keeping my fingers out of the raw dough difficult. These cookies are moist, flavorful, fluffy, gluten free, and vegan. I need more…I NEED MORE!
Cranberry Chocolate Almond Oat Cookies
Inspired by Two Peas and Their Pod
1 cup Namaste Foods GF flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup creamy almond butter
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup naturally sweetened dried cranberries*
1/2 cup chocolate chips
*I used cranberries that were sweetened with apple juice opposed to cane sugar. I found these dried cranberries to be much juicier and they taste SO much better.
1. Preheat your oven to 350F, and prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or use a stoneware bake pan. I use stoneware.
2. In a medium bowl mix your flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
3. Using a stand mixer combine your coconut sugar and almond butter until light and fluffy. Then mix in your almond milk and vanilla.
4. Turn your mixer to low and add your dry ingredients. Mix until well combined. Fold in the oats, cranberries, and chocolate chips and mix by hand.
5. Roll the dough into tablespoon balls and flatten with your palm. Bake cookies for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges.
To be honest, these cookies don’t even need the chocolate chips.
I can’t believe I just said that, don’t expect me to say that often. Chocolate chips or not, these are the perfect breakfast cookie.
I have no idea what happened to the other half of that cookie…
Selfies are totally difficult to take with a heavy dSLR and handful of cookies. I’ll leave the selfies to the pros and stick to baking.
Whoa, how’s that for a title. Despite the mouthful, I hope to keep this post simple and short enough so that you won’t get bored. Key word…hope. If you’re an avid coffee drinker, this post is for you. If not feel free to skip it, or stick around you may learn something new!
Organic vs. Conventional Coffee
I’ve been drinking coffee religiously for about six years now. It started as a once in a while habit after my friend told me she frequented the bathroom almost immediately after consumption. Let’s be honest, coffee is a surefire way to expel last nights dinner.
As I got older, my desire for coffee turned into something more. I suddenly enjoyed the flavors, the notes, the depth, the peace and quiet that came alongside my morning cup. Coffee became not only a warm beverage to get my day started, but an all around experience. These types of experiences are the ones you enjoy sharing with others.
I eat well, I workout often, I floss daily, and I pay attention to ingredient labels. I don’t buy all my produce organic, but I would say about 90% of it is. I pay attention to which products contain the most pesticides and those are always purchased organic, but what about my coffee?
Did you know: Most coffee is heavily sprayed with pesticides!? If you’re interested in learning more about this hit up Google for endless articles on how coffee is grown, and the differences between growing conditions and locations. In attempts to keep this post simple I will leave it at this. Coffee is no different than most produce grown in mass quantities, it’s sprayed with chemicals, and the quality goes down. Organic coffee means less chance of chemicals, and the beans are usually grown in smaller quantities, enhancing quality.
For all you crunchy earth loving hippies out there, buying organic also helps the people/and the earth that grow the beans. Pesticide free means the people growing the beans are not exposed to these harsh chemicals (ammonia and chlorine washed..eww..) and the earth is kept closer to its natural state..big fat WIN!
So where do you find organic coffees? Most local shops carry a variety of organic beans, along with a unique experience. I love local coffee shops, and despite the fact that I work at Starbucks I sometimes prefer local roasted coffee. Here are my thoughts on the two.
Starbucks vs. Local Coffee
Let me start by saying I love my job. Starbucks is an amazing company, and they treat their employees exceptionally well. I get benefits, I have a 401K which they match generously, I have a flexible schedule, I meet great people, and I work with coffee. I have NO complaints as an employee. As a customer though, I do have a few thoughts to share.
Starbucks has a limited selection for organic coffees. The store I work at has one option…ONE. I don’t drink frappucinos (holy sugar bomb), I don’t drink flavored lattes (IT TAINTS the coffee!?), and I usually stick to one beverage when I work: black coffee..hello predictability! The foo foo drinks/food just don’t coincide with my lifestyle.
Although there are limited “officially” organic beans at Starbucks, their beans are arabica. These beans are naturally grown at a higher altitude, meaning less pests, meaning less pesticides. The beans are also said to have a better taste! This I can work with.
Local shops offer more of a “home” like experience. I also love the uniqueness that comes alongside a cup of locally roasted coffee. Starbucks is nice because universally the quality and taste shouldn’t change no matter where you are in the world, but I love experiencing new areas with different coffee. Just like I do with different food!
I love the idea of supporting local mom and pop coffee shops, but don’t ditch Starbucks just because they are a “chain.” They do good things for their communities, they support hundreds of families in third world countries, and they do good things for their employees. I need health care, and most local shops just don’t offer that. I spend my money at Starbucks and at local coffee shops. If you do go to Starbucks and are interested in the organic roasts, simply ask them for an organic pour over. Boom, problem solved.
When it’s later in the day and I want a cup of crack to go alongside my chocolate chip cookie (because there is something magical about certain coffee flavors and chocolate) I opt for decaf. I try to be conscious of my caffeine intake, and the jitters are not a good look for me. Have you ever wondered how exactly coffee is decaffeinated?
Which Decaf Beans you Should Buy
To put it simply there are two ways to decaf your beans: chemically or not chemically.
My go to decaf beans are processed using “The Swiss Water Process.” This is a gentle and “natural” way to extract (most) of the caffeine from your beans. The beans are soaked in hot water, allowing the caffeine to release, and then filtered until they are 99% caffeine free. The alternative to this would be something like the “basic” decaffeinating process where chemical solvents are used such as methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. These chemicals strip caffeine molecules from the green coffee bean..uh no thanks.
Starbucks just so happens to have a wonderful decaf Sumatra that is processed using The Swiss Water Process. The only down side is that it’s not organic. Well shit, you can’t win them all. Sometimes free coffee wins, plus I rarely drink decaf!!
Long story short is this: I still have a LOT to learn about which coffees are the best for your body, fair trade coffees, and different roasts from local shops. My coffee journey will forever be improving and updating itself. This info I shared is basic, please feel free to share with me any information you have that I didn’t mention. I love to learn new things!
Also for the record, I will not turn down coffee if it’s not organic, I’d drink hotel sludge, but when I have the option I’ll choose organic! At home coffee – always organic!
Q: Do you drink organic coffee/tea?? School me on your coffee knowledge!
Rememberthis post I posted a few weeks ago, when I attempted to make some fudge? I ended that post with a simple request: please share with me a delicious vegan fudge recipe. Well, my request was granted by the fabulous Brandi over at The Vegan 8.
I’ve been in love with Brandi’s blog for a while now, but never attempted any of her recipes despite how amazing they all look! Simple, but delicious recipes with 8 ingredients or less? Count me in. Brandi shared with me her 3 ingredient fudge recipe, and while this recipe looked perfect as it was, I decided it needed one more ingredient.
Vegan Coffee Fudge
1 heaping cup semisweet vegan chocolate chips
1/2 cup solidified coconut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 tblsp fresh ground coffee*
Sea salt to sprinkle on top
*Make sure your coffee is not only freshly ground, but also freshly purchased. Old coffee has minimal flavor.
Line a baking pan with wax paper and set aside. The dimensions will depend on how thick/wide you want your fudge. I used an 8×6 pan, because that’s what I had.
Using a double boiler melt your chocolate chips and stir until smooth. Then stir in the coconut butter, vanilla, and 1 tblsp ground coffee. Stir until melted and well combined.
Pour mixture into your pan, and smooth out with a spatula. Mix your remaining ground coffee with some sea salt (about 1 tsp, depending on how salty you like things) and sprinkle generously on top of the fudge mixture.
Place into your fridge to set for a couple hours. Or if you’re impatient like I am, place into the freezer for less wait time.
When ready to consume, set out on your counter to soften for about 30 minutes.
These…are…unreal. SO epic and delicious. I am amazed. I ate enough coffee fudge to power me through a non stop spin class, and that class justified every bite I took. If you are looking for an easy vegan fudge, make these. You won’t be able to stop with just one.
Q: Coffee flavored treats yay or nay?Ohhh HELL yay!
Oh hey there, remember me? I contemplated blogging while away on my east coast adventures, and as you can see I decided not to blog…at all. The mini break was amazing, but the only downside is that I have ALL THIS STUFF I want to share. I don’t even know where to begin, and my mind is a jumbled mess. I’ll just start at the beginning and the end.
Upon arrival in DC I was in need of a feast. Let’s be real though…when am I NOT in need of a feast? Megan and I met up with Sarah at this immensely eclectic diner called Paper Moon. I was so overstimulated with things to look at I felt like I had ADD..in a good way.
I wanted to take a green leg home with me for my wall, but figured airport security would take me into questioning. The inside was just as bizarre, and the food was fantastic.
Traveling sure is tough.
We chatted running, life, and had a wonderful time. I love bloggers!
Later in the week Megan and I visited a coffee shop that had a similar vibe. I had my coffee with a cat, no big deal. I adore local coffee shops! The coffee was delicious too…I love coffee.
The final hurrah before my trek back home was another feast, but this time I earned it. I set out to run 4-5 miles, and ended up running 8 miles. I blame/thank Megan for that.
This path was gorgeous, and I can see why it’s so popular. The torrential down pour that caused snot to drip from my face, and gave me the look of a lost rat made me feel at home. DC blessed me with some gorgeous weather. The best part was that long miles = food.
This place was PACKED. I’m talking a 40 minute wait. I was getting so hangry I just about ate the books right off the wall. It was worth the wait though, and my burger/brownie was to.die.for. I also had the pleasure of meeting Nikki, and she was simply wonderful!
A perfect vegan meal, with two lovely ladies. I couldn’t have asked for a better last day in the DC area. I have two other blogger meet ups, including a wedding that will be hard to top, a mountain adventure, and exploring new cities still to share. I’m already planning my next trip! I’m also ready to sign up for another half marathon after that 8 miler!
For the past few months, I’ve had a jar of coconut butter staring at me each time I open my pantry. I go into that pantry around 4 times a day, do the math..that’s a lot of stares.
It took some time, but I finally figured out what I wanted to make. Something rich, something creamy, something chocolate! This recipe took some twists and turns, but I finally settled on something worth posting. I started out making these…
…but quickly decided they needed some help. I love coconut oils and butters, but the flavor is VERY strong. The texture of these fudge squares was perfect, but the flavor..too strong. There is only one flavor I’ve been completely successful with when it comes to toning down the almost overwhelming flavor of the coconut, and it just so happens to be a classic flavor.
Chocolate has a way of covering up the coconut flavor like nothing else! This experiment reminded me of the time I tried to get wild using coconut oil in a vanilla frosting, but was reminded why I always go with chocolate. I still haven’t figured out how to make it work!
Double Chocolate Cocoa Melts
1 cup softened/melted coconut butter (should be well combined, soak your jar in hot water and stir well before adding to the mix)
1/2 cup almond butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 tblsp maple syrup
3 tblsp unsweetened dark cocoa powder
2 tblsp tiny dark chocolate chips
handful of large dark chocolate chips
Combine coconut butter, almond butter, vanilla, and maple syrup into a sauce pan and stir until well combined.
Once combined add in the cocoa powder, stir, and then add in the tiny chocolate chips.
Heat on low until the chocolate chips are melted into the mix.
Once combined, pour into a wax paper lined 8×8 (or something similar) dish and sprinkle (as many as you want) the large chocolate chips on top.
Place dish into the freezer until hardened.
Not only do you get to satisfy your sweet craving with these rich and smooth melts, they’re JAM packed full of HEALTHY fats AND minerals from the cocoa. Sure, there is some sugar in the chocolate chips/maple syrup..but we can just highlight the benefits! ;) Besides, these are SO rich, you’ll be completely satisfied with just one square. I know..who am I!
Q: Do you have a good vegan fudge recipe?!Send me the link!
I like to visit Costco AT LEAST once every week and a half, sometimes every week. When I go I have a list, and I rarely deviate from it. I buy my produce in bulk because I eat enough of it to be confused with a growing teenage boy. Costco = happy wallet.
Normally when I walk down the candy/chocolate/cookie/junk aisle, I don’t have to worry because everything is jam packed with milk chocolate, and other fun ingredients I can’t pronounce. This makes it easy to stay away from them. However, once in a while I am surprised by a vegan friendly treat that almost literally jumps out at me.
The bag is nearly empty because I flew through it in like…a couple days. I needed an alternative to these enrobed (I just need to use this word, it sounds slightly scandalous) mangoes, and it just so happens that I’ve been obsessing over a random smoothie creation with only 3 simple ingredients (water doesn’t count.) Don’t let the ingredients fool you..this smoothie tastes like a creamy dessert. I was mind blown.
Mango Banana Smoothie
1 overripe/frozen banana (the key is to let your banana get REALLY ripe, and then freeze.)
1 HEAPING cup (about 16 pieces) frozen organic mangoes
1/4 cup vanilla almond milk
1/4 cup water
Let your banana and mangoes sit out for 20-30 minutes until they are soft, but still frozen. If you want to pre-peel your banana feel free, I leave the peel on until I’m ready to use it. I know my banana is thawed enough when I can easily peel it.
Pour your ingredients into a high speed blender starting with the liquids.
Blend until smooth.
I don’t think smoothies ever really need a “recipe” and I feel a bit silly posting this as one, but this is for those of you that thrive off of precision. For realllll though, mangoes are naturally so thick and creamy that this smoothie tastes so much like a dessert. The only thing missing is some chocolate…
Problem solved. A wonderful pairing for these brownies. This smoothie has become a daily occurrence, and I am one step closer to being ready for spring!
Q: Do you like tropical smoothies?I used to be a berry smoothie fanatic, but I am now a tropical believer!
I like to wander. I find it calming, peaceful, and the best way to discover new places. Last week I took one of my days off and headed to Seattle to wander. I’ve been to Seattle handfuls of times, but always with a purpose. This was one of the first times I went with no plan, and I went all by myself. It also happened to be the first sunny day in weeks.
I got about 4 blocks from the ferry dock when I decided to stop for lunch.
After I face planted this “chicken” sandwich, I walked..and walked..and walked some more. The weather put me in such a fabulous mood, I turned left, then right, then left again.
No matter how many times I have been to Seattle I almost always venture to Pike Place, just to wander some more. It was a slow day at the market, and sadly the vegan scone I had my heart set on was gone. I have been wanting to try this scone for a while now.
Just when I thought my luck ran out after missing my opportunity with the scone, I wandered my way across the street from a place I had JUST seen on Cooking Channels show Unique Sweets (which I happen to be obsessed with.) I was sure they wouldn’t have any vegan chocolate, but I had to go in just to see what the hype was all about!
The super tiny, smaller than a quarter sized truffles were $2..EACH. NO WAY. I was just about to walk out after reading milk chocolate, salted caramel labels when I saw this…
4 minutes and $4 later I walked out with the most expensive piece of chocolate I’ve ever purchased. I blame my missed scone opportunity, and the fact that this place was on TV.
I’m trying to live my life on the edge these days, and spending $4 on this tiny bar of chocolate is completely wild and crazy. The presentation was gorgeous, well done Fran.
The story behind this store is exceptional quality products, from only the top chocolate producing countries. Fran’s passion for chocolate is like my passion for coffee, I dig it. Oh, and the verdict on my pistachio, toasted hazelnut, dark chocolate from Madagascar bar?
Meh. It went well with my morning coffee, and had rich cocoa notes at the end of my bite, but it wasn’t worth $4 that’s for sure! I think I’ll stick to my $4 cupcakes.
Q: Would you buy expensive food if it were on Food Network or Cooking Channel?Yes…yes I would.
I read a lot of blogs, but only a handful of them are vegan blogs. I read running blogs, I read lifestyle blogs, I read random adventure blogs, and I read carnivorous steak eating blogs…I don’t discriminate! With that said, I rarely make any recipes posted on the blogs I read because while they may look good, they are definitely not plant based. Some recipes are easy to veganize, and others not so much. When I’m inspired by a recipe I love turning it into my own, but once in a while it’s nice to let someone else do most of the work. I found a recipe on one of my go to blogs that I knew I just had to make. Only one small tweak was necessary in order to make this a Brittany approved recipe. She called them muffins, I call them brownies. These are so simple, but SO delicious. With a prep time of no more than 5 minutes, there is no reason not to make these! Unless you don’t like bananas or chocolate, but in that case we can’t be friends. Kidding..kind of.
Double Chocolate Banana Brownies
Inspired by Amanda @ runningwithspoons
Ingredients (these will be listed in the order I think works best in your blender)
1/2 cup creamy almond butter ( self ground would not work here )
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup raw honey
2 tblsp fresh ground flax seed
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup chocolate chips & then some to top
1. Preheat your oven to 375F. Spray or line a muffin tin with 9 spots, and set aside. OR pour entire batter into an 8 x 8 pan for more of a “brownie” look.
2. In your high speed blender or food processor combine the vanilla, banana, and flax egg and pulse until combined. Then add the remaining ingredients (except for the chocolate chips) in the order listed. Use the same measuring cup for the cocoa powder and the honey, the cocoa powder will coat the sides of the cup and the honey will slide right into your blender. Like magic. Blend until well combined, and then fold in the chips by hand.
3. Pour batter evenly into the 9 spaces prepped. Don’t get overzealous or your brownies will be huge. I learned this the hard way.
4. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the tops of your brownies spring back to the touch, or a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes after removing from the oven.
These are bursting with chocolate/banana flavor, and the texture is perfect. Soft yet sturdy and holds its shape. To see the original recipe, and Amanda’s amazing photos, click here. This recipe is one of my new favorites! As if they weren’t decadent enough on their own, try pairing with some vanilla coconut ice cream for an out of this word experience.
– I couldn’t figure out why my photos looked so “noisy” until I realized I changed my ISO setting to 6400!! WHOA, oops! I was much too hungry for a re-shoot..these will have to do.
Q: Do you make recipes off of the blogs you read? Very rarely!
When Enjoy Life Foods messaged me and asked if I’d like to try and review their new dark chocolate morsels I didn’t have to think twice. This is the sixth product review I’ve done for ELF, and just like everything else I’ve tried, these morsels are delicious.
I had to try them by the handful because, well…because I had to.
Once I knew they were rich and decadent on their own, I wanted to try them in a tried and true recipe. SO, I made my coffee energy bites that I am obsessed with and added 1/2 cup of these chocolate morsels for an extra special treat. They were delicious.
I promise these are the last photos of coffee energy bites you’ll see for a while. I think…
Next, I wanted to make a chocolate treat that started as brownies, then turned to muffins, and then turned to breakfast pucks. The texture and density changed throughout the baking process so much that I couldn’t call these a brownie or a muffin. They are gluten free, dairy free, and almost sugar free (the only sugar in these are from the chocolate morsels, giving each chocolate puck about 2.5G of sugar.) Boy oh boy were they tasty.
Don’t let the word breakfast fool you, these are rich and pair perfectly with a scoop of ice cream for a decadent dessert. Otherwise, the flax seed, coconut oil, and nutrient packed GF flour make these an acceptable breakfast bite on the go.
Preheat oven to 350F and spray 7-8 standard-sized muffin tins with cooking spray.
Prepare flax eggs in a small bowl and let rest for 5 minutes.
Melt coconut oil on the stove. Then stir in the flax egg, xylitol, vanilla, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder. Lastly, add the flour, then the chocolate morsels.
Scoop batter evenly into 7-8 muffin tins until 3/4 full, and bake for 22-26 minutes, or until the breakfast pucks start to pull away from the sides and they spring back to the touch. Be careful not to overcook or they will get crumbly. Remove from oven and let rest in the tin for 5 minutes before removing to cool completely on a plate or rack.
I love the visible flakes of flax seed in these. I use a flax and ancient grain GF flour mix that is a 1 for 1 swap, meaning I don’t have to use my brain while baking. The ingredients in the flour alone are enough to set your day up for success! I found this amazing flour at Costco!
I tend to be a terrible judge when it comes to my baked goods, and can be a bit harsh on myself, but I shared these with my coworker and she loved them. I will eat just about anything, but have high expectations for my treats, so it was nice to know they passed the civilian (non limited eaters) test! While these tasted fine alone, I enjoyed them with a scoop of the cookie dough ice cream I had from my waffle creation. I had to finish it off somehow!
Q: Are you too harsh on yourself when judging the food you make?Guilty!