abundantlifevegan

Spiritual Musings, Creative Inspiration, and Simple Vegan Recipes


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Cultured Coconut Cranberry Pistachio Bars

So Delicious Dairy Free 3 Course Recipe Contest Badge

I am super excited about sharing this recipe for several reasons,

#1—It’s SUPER easy and takes next to no time to make.

#2 —It’s not only VEGAN but also gluten free and soy free.

#3 —It’s part of the So Delicious 3 Course Recipe Contest—in the “dessert” category. (Although I think you could eat them at any time…)

My husband and I have often joked that we should actually buy stock in “So Delicious” because we consume so much of it. He is obsessed with the coconut creamer, which he puts in his coffee multiple times daily, and has even been known to travel to several different stores if he can’t find his preferred vanilla flavor.

I am the coconut yogurt junkie myself. I love the “Greek style” and the plain, and it’s pretty much a fridge staple in our house.  I eat it in smoothies, make popsicles, and even bread dough using coconut yogurt. This recipe was what we call an experiment gone well…and there are only 3 total ingredients!

Ingredients:

Serves 16, 10 min Prep Time, Total time 1 hr 10 minutes (or more depending on how long you let them freeze)

1 16 oz container So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk (Plain or vanilla)

½ cup crushed pistachio kernels

¼ cup dried cranberries

Directions:

Combine yogurt, pistachios, and cranberries in a bowl until well blended. You might have to crush the pistachios using a food processor depending on how finely they are crushed.

Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper and spread mixture evenly in the pan, flattening with a spatula.

Place pan in the freezer, and let it harden at least 1 hour, or overnight if you prefer.

Remove from freezer and let them thaw about 10 minutes. Slice into squares and eat immediately. Freeze any unused portions!

I imagine this recipe would be easy to do with any variation of the nuts and fruit, I just happen to really love the cranberry and pistachio combination. This would probably also work in popsicle molds—but I was really intrigued by the idea of making bars.

And if you were wondering (like I was…) if coconut milk freezes well, this shows it can freeze beautifully!

Hope you enjoy, and please go check out:

http://www.godairyfree.org/news/so-delicious-dairy-free-3-course-recipe-contest and  Continue reading


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Month One—Spending Fast in Review + Intentions for the New Year

One month into my spending fast, and I have to admit, I am loving it. It seriously feels GOOD to be able to put a little bit more money into paying off debt. But there was a part of me that felt guilty giving people DIY gifts at Christmas, especially when they had already purchased things for me. It wasn’t that there was anything “wrong” with the gifts I had made, but it seemed “unequal” in a sense. The truth is that everyone LOVED the things I made them— and I had A LOT of fun making Christmas gifts. There was equal love, even if not equal cost. Here’s a recap of how I did it—>

I reserved a little time on the weekend, usually Sunday afternoon, to devote to gift making and I really enjoyed the process. I made peppermint sugar scrub, which was easy and worked out well. You can find the directions here: http://www.mommymusings.com/diy-peppermint-sugar-scrub/. This awesome blogger even had little printable labels! Hooray!

Next I concocted homemade granola, which was a HUGE hit. I found a recipe that called for ingredients you already have in the house, which made it very easy and affordable. The inspiration and directions are found here: http://ambertheblack.com/no-recipe-easy-homemade-granola/

Finally I made these super easy fabric bowls—> (See picture below, my word press site is not fancy enough to allow me to place a photo any old place!)

This was a delightfully easy and fun project. So easy, that even a less than adept seamstress like myself could make it. I’ll share a tutorial in a separate post.

The hardest part of the spending fast has been food and restaurants. I really love good food, and I LOVE supporting local eateries. I am trying to stick to a food budget, and had completely eliminated eating out as an option. A friend suggested that I allow myself to eat out IF it was within the budget I had already set aside for groceries. This seemed much more realistic, and so still sticking to my budget, we have eaten out (albeit at cheap places!!) twice in the month of December. Bahn’s Cuisine and Ninth Street Bakery here in Durham, NC have vegan friendly eats that cost around $5-6 dollars for a full meal. It is very hard to beat that!

A few more tips on sticking to a budget while grocery shopping.

1. Do NOT go to a “big box” store such as Target or Wal-Mart to get groceries unless you have to. You  WILL think you need other random things, like scented candles, a new ironing board, or other random plastic shit, that I PROMISE you DONT NEED. 🙂 Just go to a regular grocery store, they have everything you need, and if you aren’t afraid of generics, it will be just as cheap.

2. Keeping a grocery budget low means avoiding all pre-packaged food, including the healthy stuff like salad dressing, hummus and my beloved Lara bars. All of these things you can make at home very easily. Again, I plan to offer separate posts on the most financially friendly ways to make these items at home. Plus they are way tastier!

3. When you start cooking and creating more at home, there will be a “Start-up” cost. Buying tahini,miso, dijon and maple syrup to make my favorite salad dressing IS more expensive than grabbing a bottle. But those few ingredients will make salad dressing for the next several months. A very significant savings overall.

Finally, my intention going into 2014 is to have FUN with this spending fast. This doesn’t have to be torture, it is a choice to live more simply and see what emerges with a more mindful approach to spending. Cheers to a frugally fun New Year!

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Why I am doing a Spending Fast–> and How I plan to do it.

Perhaps it is just the time of year (Black Friday!, Christmas Shopping!!), but I have felt overwhelmed with the pressure to spend, all the while worried about having more financial freedom and security.I think many of us can learn a lot about ourselves when we examine our relationship to our finances, how we spend and save, and how we think about our money.

First of all, I want to say that I am incredibly blessed financially. My husband and I both work full-time, not super high paying jobs, but we do have all of our needs met and then some. We are slowly paying off on our house and car (those are the only big ticket items we have) —and we can meet our basic expenses month to month. We are so grateful and blessed. So why go on a spending fast?

  1. To reduce the amount of educational debt we have accrued getting our awesome graduate degrees.
  2. To become more aware of how I spend, and why. (Boredom? Keeping up with the Joneses? A false sense of security? Image?)
  3. To challenge myself to discover more ways to have fun with friends and family that do not involve spending money (i.e. simple pleasures!)
  4. To purposefully and actively take a stand against materialism, consumerism and waste.
  5. Finding freedom from the need to feel secure—based on the items that I own or buy.

So here is how the fast will look. The fast will start on December 1st and go through May 31st—and may continue longer. I didn’t want to set a goal that wasn’t feasible, and I feel that this will be.

What I will spend on:

  • Car payments
  • Loan payments
  • Insurance
  • Medical appointments
  • Gas
  • Food
  • Routine car maintenance

What I won’t spend $ on:

  • Gifts (sorry ya’ll, it is a handmade and homemade Christmas—except hubby who was lucky that I purchased his gift a week ago!)
  • Coffee/ Tea out (this will be one of the hardest. I frequent Cocoa Cinnamon, Bean Traders and Mad Hatter’s in Durham. This will require major willpower!)
  • New Clothes. So long modcloth.com
  • Etsy. I love to support handmade arts and crafts, these next 6 months I will be making my own!
  • New makeup and toiletries ( I have noticed that I have a strange obsession with buying moisturizer, lip glosses, shampoos, etc.—even when I already have them. I currently own 6 facial moisturizers. No one needs 6 facial moisturizers!!)
  • Manicure/ pedicure (I don’t do this often, but it won’t hurt me to take a 6 month break and use one of the many nail polishes I already own. See above).
  • Fancy haircut—as I need to grow my hair out anyway, if anyone reading this in the Durham area know how to cute hair and would like to barter haircuts for yoga or baby-sitting let me know.
  • Movies (we do have Netflix and the library—not to mention my latest favorite is “The Paradise”—and  I can watch that on PBS online for free.)
  • New music (another addiction…)
  • Amazon purchases (Because I need to OWN that book has been stated way too many times.)
  • Restaurants (AHHHHH!!!!! Like coffee shops above, this will be very difficult. Luckily I LOVE to cook, and know how to do so cheaply).
  • Groupons (They just tempt me to buy things I don’t need).
  • Whole Foods—Again, I am always tempted to buy more than what I need. Kroger and Trader Joe’s literally have everything I need.
  • Fancy Expensive Fitness Classes. I have free memberships at 2 gyms in town, and free yoga as well. There is no reason I need to buy more. Much as I love the classes at the local Cycle/ Yoga Studio, this requires me to take a break—I hope to go back to them someday.

So there you have it, this is modeled somewhat after the inspiration I discovered at this blog: http://andthenwesaved.com/about-the-spending-fast/

I encourage you to check out what she has written. I plan to blog further on how the fast goes, what I discover and how I find ways to save (which I think will be mostly about NOT spending). I am declaring this publicly not only as a way of holding myself accountable, but also to garner support from friends and family. Thank you for supporting this effort, and comment below if you have any tips, ideas or suggestions!

I am eager to see what I learn not only about myself, but my relationship with money along the way.

 


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High Protein Pumpkin Pancakes (Vegan and Gluten Free)

When I first became vegan, I of course already had celiac disease– and for a long time assumed that pancakes were something of an off-limits food for me. Obviously, the pancakes I had known were filled with flour, sugar, usually eggs– all ingredients I tried to avoid. Plus, they always made me crash mid-morning or more likely 10 minutes later…..Pancakes the way I knew them growing up were the type of food that just made me feel hungrier after I ate them.

Recently I have run across some great pancake recipes here: http://www.rickiheller.com/ (Sugar-free! grain-free! vegan!)

Her recipes inspired me to re-create my own version of a truly breakfast-worth pancake— and these were super easy to boot. My pictures aren’t so pretty yet, but I assure you this recipe is amazing. 🙂Image

Pumpkin Protein Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 of a medium banana
  • 1 chia seed egg (combine 1 tbsp chia seeds with 2 tbsp warm water)
  • 1 scoop Raw Protein Powder (I use Garden of Life)
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or coffee/spice mill until smooth.
  2. Heat pan (or griddle) over medium heat; coat with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Pour batter onto the pan/griddle.
  4. Cook each pancake for 2-3 minutes and then flip. Cook on the other side for about 1 minute.
  5. Serve with your favorite toppings. (I like coconut nectar or berries!)

Makes 2-3 pancakes

P.S. This recipe is part of Ricki Heller’s latest Wellness Weekend, Check out more here :

http://www.rickiheller.com/2013/08/wellness-weekend-august-29-september-2-2013/


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Zucchini Banana Blueberry Muffins: Vegan, Gluten Free, No added sugar


My husband and I get a produce box once a week in the months of April through November. We get a lot of zucchini, squash and blueberries at this time of year, and I was looking for something different to do with all that zucchini– so I re-invented a favorite blueberry muffin recipe. Mine is vegan, high fiber, gluten free, has no added sugars. And delicious.

wet ingredients

  • 1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened
  • 2 tbsp flaxseed meal mixed with 4 tbsp water
  • 1 medium zucchini grated or shredded in a food processor
  • 2 medium sized very ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

dry ingredients

  • 2 cups buckwheat flour (or just use a basic gluten free flour like Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 cup brown rice flour 
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 °F.

In large bowl, combine together all wet ingredients and stir well.

In separate bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients until combined. Add dry ingredients to wet until you get a thick batter.

Drop about 1/4 cup batter into 24 greased muffins tins, or use paper liners if you prefer.

Bake 25 minutes, or until tops are very lightly golden brown. Yum!Image


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Embrace your Inner Goddess for May Day

Happy May Day! In case you didn’t know—today marks the halfway point between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. It is the day to welcome in fertility, growth, green things and warmth. Today is considered to be the height of spring, and a time to celebrate the feminine aspects of the Divine. We are opening to new aspects of ourselves, parts that have been lying dormant and waiting to emerge.

Although I wasn’t able to dance around a maypole today, I was able to dedicate my morning yoga practice to the divine goddess within and to share this with my students this morning. But I found myself asking the question: How can we connect to our divine inner goddess in our daily lives? What does that even mean?

Certainly the answer will be different for everyone, but as I meditated on what this would mean in my own life, the answer that emerged was embracing my creativity. I often allow myself to get so busy with the many responsibilities of life, my job, doing laundry, cooking dinner, working out, buying groceries, etc. etc. I simply do not make the time to create and recreate. Growing up, like many kids, I enthusiastically drew, wrote poems and stories, made sculptures, and created free of restraint, self-judgment or criticism.

Recently I was talking to my desire to start sewing lessons soon, and how excited I was to re-learn the basics. She told me that when I was much younger, I would sew without abandon—allowing myself to simply create and enjoy the process. I realized that I could do this again, even in small ways, if I was willing to let go of the need to have things look a “certain way.”

This afternoon, I took the time to sit down and draw an image of myself as goddess. I just picked up my colored pencils and began. Yes, the critical voice in my head chimed in several times—but the image I created brought my joy. In my goddess image I had pink, purple and blue hair, covered in leaves and flowers, smiling and calm.  Certainly no masterpiece, but just the feeling of putting color on paper brought happiness and a feeling of connection to something outside of myself.

I believe the  goddess within is made manifest in the simple act of creation. Creating a sacred time and sacred place to nurture this connection is one way, and a very powerful one, to connect with this inner goddess. So to honor my inner goddess—I will write, draw, sing, dance, and connect in any way to connect to this divine creative self. Happy May Day and may you see and know the goddess within!Image


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Black Bean Zucchini Lasagna (Gluten free, Vegan, No Noodles!)

Abundant Life Vegan 008This summer healthy and yummy casserole satisfies the craving for a comfort food casserole with no cholesterol, lots of veggies, and best of all delicious! Makes about 9-10 servings.

Ingredients:

3 cups grated Zucchini (about 2 medium)

1 ½ cups grated carrot (1 large peeled carrot)

3/4  cup Nasoya Nayoniase (or your favorite vegan mayo!)

2 cups cooked black beans

2 cups Daiya Cheese (or your favorite vegan cheese!)

12 ounce jar of salsa (I used Trader Joe’s Tomatillo Roasted Yellow Chili Salsa)

Preheat oven to 400. Line a 9 x 13 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. Combine grated zucchini, carrot and vegan mayo in large mixing bowl. Spread into the tray and press down with the spatula. Cook for 25 minutes (just the veggies) until they look brown on top.

Next spread black beans, salsa, and finally cheese onto the cooked veggies and bake again for 35-40 minutes until the top is bubbly.

Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving. Seriously good!

Adapted from: http://www.loveveggiesandyoga.com/2012/09/vegetable-lasagna-casserole.html