Saturday, September 10, 2011

Milk & Cookies

I ♥ Milk & Cookies
      It's just one of those things that goes together.  Like Simon and Garfunkel.  Spaghetti and Meatballs.  Peanut Butter and Jam.  You can't have one without the other.  And why would you want to?  Besides, who doesn't love milk & cookies?  The warm, sweet smell of freshly baked cookies is so comforting, like a cozy sweater.  Just the thought of these cookies makes me want to curl up on the couch, in my jammies, with a good book or movie while munching on one.  Mmm.
   So what are you waiting for?  Get in the kitchen and make these bad boys ASAP!

Here is my recipe for the BEST chocolate chip cookies you'll ever have - for reals. (Trust me, I've tried (and tweaked) a lot of recipes... and when it comes to a chocolate chip cookie, simplicity is best.)

Chocolate Chip Cookies 
Makes about 40 - 50 cookies (depending on how big you make them)
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) Earth Balance butter, softened
3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp Egg Replacer
4 tbsp water
2 cups Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350° F.
Sift flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.  Set aside.
Whisk together 2 tsp Egg Replacer with 4 tbsp water and set aside.
Cream butter, sugars and vanilla extract in a large mixer bowl for a few minutes until creamy.  Add your Egg Replacer mixture, half at a time, beating well after each addition.  Gradually beat in flour mixture in half cup increments.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using).  
Drop by rounded spoonful onto parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Bake for 9 - 11 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


*A few notes about my recipe.  
   This was my favorite recipe before eliminating dairy from my diet, so I just veganized it. I've tried a few vegan chocolate chip cookie recipes and so far none of them are as good as this one.  I will keep trying though!
   For the sugar:  White sugar is not vegan as it's generally refined over bone char, an animal by-product, so keep that in mind.  I use Splenda in this recipe because although these cookies are the bomb, I really only make them for my step-dad who happens to be diabetic.  If I need to sweeten something for myself I generally use natural sweeteners like dates, bananas, agave, pure maple syrup, etc. 
   For the flour: I like to go halves or almost halves using whole wheat but you don't have to.  But I do think it makes these cookies taste even better.
   For the eggs:  In place of Egg Replacer you can use ground flax, which I prefer.  I happen to have the egg replacer so I used that instead.  Substitute one egg with 1 tbsp flax seed and 3 tbsp water.  So for this recipe you would need 2 tbsp of ground flax and 6 tbsp of water.  Blend or whisk together.
   For the chocolate chips: Most Semi-sweet and Dark chocolate chips are vegan as they do not use milk products but be sure to read the label because some do.  Stay away from Milk Chocolate because, well, it's in the title. Ha!
   Also, I have never used nuts in this recipe because I don't like nuts in my chocolate chip cookies.  But, what's a chocolate chip cookie recipe without the optional addition of nuts?  So it's in the recipe, feel free to add it! 
Enjoy with a nice cold glass of Almond Milk.
   After my sister tried one she said that they were my best cookies yet.  In fact, she said she liked the 'vegan' ones better then the kind I make for Jer-dad (our step-dad).  I told her these are still sugar-free.  She couldn't believe that she didn't have the aftertaste of Splenda.  I said that's because I made them and of course, because they're vegan.  Ha!

Ves xx

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

So... what do you EAT?

   I hear this question A LOT.  Today I was talking to a supply teacher at work and somehow it came up.  And by it I mean my cruelty-free diet.  Immediately that question popped out of her mouth.  "So then... what do you eat?"  I don't mind it, in fact, I might have asked that question myself once upon a time (had I ever met anyone on a plant-based diet).  Our life seems to revolve around animal based foods, or at least we think it does.  When I step back and assess everything I eat, I am SO not deprived of anything.  I eat yummy foods all day long and even make lots of delicious and healthy desserts.  So, lucky for you (ha!), I take photos of everything I make.  Here is a sampling of what I ate one day a couple of weeks ago.  Am I deprived?  You be the judge.

Breakfast: chia seeds with Almond Milk, and berries
OR: a green smoothie.. (or purple!).  Blackberries will do that. Ha!

Lunch: Veggie wraps with collards and sprouts.
Snack/Dessert: One of these RAW oatmeal cookies with a coffee.  YUM!
Dinner: Vegan Caprese Salad. Heirloom tomatoes, Daiya cheese and Basil.
RAW 'pasta' with zucchini, tomatoes, garlic, and other goodies!
Such a satisfying meal!  Who says you need any meat?
For the Breakfast:
Chia Pudding
(Measurements are approximate)
2-3 tbsp Chia Seeds
100-150ml Almond Milk (or any nut milk)
2 tbsp Goji Berries
1/2 cup of Blueberries (or any other berry/fruit)
Add all of the ingredients to a bowl, give it a stir, and let sit for a few minutes.  *Chia seeds are super cool because they become gelatinous when wet.* The longer they sit the thicker the 'pudding' becomes.  Really though, I don't have that much time in the mornings so I pour everything in a bowl, give it a stir and then chug my water with lemon.  By the time I'm done I'm ready to eat my chia pudding.  
FYI:  You can eat it right away, I just like it softer.  I was like that with cereal too, the mushier the better!  Sometimes I make it the night before and leave it in the fridge.  Try it!

*No animals were harmed in the making of these meals... except for maybe the dog who didn't get any scraps. Ha!

Happy cooking (or uncooking!)
Ves xx

Monday, September 05, 2011

"...It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...!"

      No, I'm not talking about Christmas (although I do know a few people who have finished their Christmas shopping, but that's another story!).  I'm talking about Fall.  Okay, I know I'm a little ahead of myself and technically it's still summer.  But with the crisp weather we are having today, and the delicious smells wafting from the kitchen, Fall is in the air today.  I love this season with it's red, orange and yellow colors; Back to School shopping; sweater wearing; leaf raking; pumpkin carving; apple pie baking; cinnamon smelling; cider drinking; soup making; and Birthday singing (to me!). 

    For me, the Autumn season symbolizes new beginnings, and I know that for most people that's supposed to be the Spring time.  Maybe it's because I was born this time of the year but, I feel like everything starts in the Fall.  Summer ends and we cap it off with a Labor Day party celebrating the end of summer and the beginning of Fall.  At least that's the way I see it.  And Fall is so jam packed with excitement and activities how could you not love it?  School starts; everyone flocks to the farm stands for apples, and then we're off to the fairs for wagon rides and pumpkin picking; my birthday and Halloween come around the corner and before you know it, it's Thanksgiving and the Macy's Parade!  Eat your heart out Winter/Spring/Summer; Autumn rocks!
Bailey on one of her walks.
   I'm so ready for this season to begin!  I gave my blog a fresh new look (hope you like it!), and I'm already planning my Thanksgiving Menu!  Too soon?  Did I mention that Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday?  It is!  But, there will be plenty of time to talk about that later.  
   For now, I'm going to enjoy the fresh air by taking a nice long walk and then coming home to some delicious, homemade Butternut Squash soup and then later, some warming nut-tea beverage.  Okay, I made that up.  It's really just tea with nut milk and cinnamon.  Yum!

Butternut Squash Soup
All the yummy veggies that make this soup so delicious!

After a day like today...
...It felt good to drink this!

ps: My mom made the soup, and it was SO good... Thanks mom!

FYI:  Today is the first day of the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart.  If your curious about becoming a Vegan or just want to add more whole foods into your daily diet visit the PCRM website for some healthy and delicious recipes.  I joined it in April and I found that my favorite part was reading the forums - I learned a lot from them.

Enjoy the rest of your Labor Day weekend!
Ves xx
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