Monday, January 24, 2011

Vegan Birthday Cupcakes

Ok, I know cupcakes are not the healthiest, but had to put a post up on how cute the vegan birthday cupcakes I made turned out for my now 5 year old's karate birthday party.  Plus, everyone was shocked to know they were vegan and wondered how the heck they could still be moist and let alone taste good  Love people's comments like this as they then realize you eat more than just celery and carrots! 

Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes/Cake

  • 1-3/4 cups unbleached flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup cane sugar or turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup soy or almond milk
  • 2 bananas, overripe, mashed
  • 1/2 cup safflower oil or any light vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch square or round pan with Pam or other baking spray. Put dry ingredients into a bowl. Blend with a fork. Add oil, soy milk and vanilla. Stir until the mixture comes together, but don't over mix. Break bananas into chunks and drop into the batter, mash with a fork and mix briefly. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan and bake on center rack for 35-40 minutes (about 40-45 minutes for cupcakes), just until cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven, place on wire rack to cool. To serve sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy! Also great with crushed pineapple or berries.

Here's a tip. If you like a smoother banana texture, break bananas into a separate bowl, mash and mix well, until smooth, then fold into the batter. Over-mixing your batter will create a more dense cake with a tougher crumb. Cakes should be gently mixed until dry ingredients are incorporated, unless specified otherwise. 

Cupcake Frosting recipes were from 'The Joy of Vegan Baking' book.  Love this cookbook!

Chocolate Frosting
  • 1/2 cup (112 g) non-hydrogenated, nondairy butter, softened
  • 3 cups (300 g) powdered (confectioner's) sugar, sifted
  • 1/3 (42 g) cup cocoa, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 3-4 tablespoons (45 to 60) water or nondairy milk
With an electric hand mixer, cream the butter until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add the sugar, and cream for about 2 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, and turn the mixer to high speed once all the ingredients are relatively well-combined. Beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add l or 2 tablespoons more milk if it's too dry. Cover the icing with plastic wrap to prevent drying until ready to use. Store it in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Re-whip before using.
Yield: Enough for one 9-inch (23-cm) cake or 8 cupcakes

Buttercream Frosting
  • 1/2 cup (112 g) non-hydrogenated, nondairy butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups (300 g) powdered (confectioner's) sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) nondairy milk, or more as needed
  • Food coloring (optional)
With an electric hand mixer, cream the butter until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add the sugar, vanilla, milk and food coloring (if using). Once all the ingredients are relatively well-combined, beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes). Add l or 2 tablespoons more milk if it's too dry. Cover the icing with plastic wrap to prevent drying until ready to use. Store it in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Re-whip before using.
Yield: Enough for one 8-inch or 9-inch (23-cm) cake

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Using Bugs as Food Dyes

I came across one of the most disgusting YouTube videos that I had to research and share with you all.  This is yet again another reason to stay away from processed food and to read the labels of everything you buy in the grocery store.

 Here is an excerpt taken from Wikipedia on Cochineal:
Cochineal is one of the few water-soluble colorants that resist degradation with time. It is one of the most light- and heat-stable and oxidation-resistant of all the natural colorants and is even more stable than many synthetic food coloursThe water-soluble form is used in alcoholic drinks with calcium carmine; the insoluble form is used in a wide variety of products. Together with ammonium carmine they can be found in meat, sausages, processed poultry products (meat products cannot be colored in the United States unless they are labeled as such), surimi, marinades, alcoholic drinks, bakery products and toppings, cookies, desserts, icings, pie fillings, jams, preserves, gelatin desserts, juice beverages, varieties of cheddar cheese and other dairy products, sauces, and sweets. The average human consumes one to two drops of carminic acid each year with food.  A new U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulation will require all foods and cosmetics containing cochineal to declare it on their ingredient labels as of January 5, 2011.  Carmine is considered safe enough for use in eye cosmetics. A significant proportion of the insoluble carmine pigment produced is used in the cosmetics industry for hair- and skin-care products, lipsticks, face powders, rouges, and blushes. A bright red dye and the stain carmine used in microbiology is often made from the carmine extract, too. The pharmaceutical industry uses cochineal to color pills and ointments.
Yes I know people eat bugs all the time in many places within our world, but to put them in without consumers knowing is what made me mad and disgusted.  At least now I know what to look for on the ingredients list to stay away from.  Another reason to be glad I went vegan where I eat very little processed food so this has little effect on what I put in my body. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Extreme Exercise Bonk

Well I did it, I hit a wall and "bonked" last week after my intense kickboxing workout, which happened to be my second workout of the day (I double up on Tuesdays and Thursdays).  I seem to push myself to the limit and beyond to prove that this slightly overweight mom can keep up with the fittest of the fit.  With my main focus to lose weight and my constant obsession to track every little ounce I put in my mouth, finally got the best of me.

On my drive home after class my vision started to become blurry which caused me to freak out followed by chills, hunger and exhaustion.  Even though I don't have diabetes, I knew I was having a hypoglycemia/low blood sugar moment as I have experienced seeing these same signs my mom had gone through as she had diabetes.  It literally scared the heck out of me, but luckily I made it home safely and into the arms of my husband armed with high sugar foods (banana, homemade granola & almond milk).

During any workout blood sugar is the primary determinant of how well you feel and perform, therefore it is vitally important to eat during any exercise longer than 1 or 2 hours. The calories burned in these intense exercises must be at least partially replaced during the workout or blood sugar will drop and you will feel tired. Most people misinterpret this fatigue as lack of endurance but very often it's simply low blood sugar. 

Not eating enough during extreme exercise will usually result in "the bonk". At one time or another every serious athlete will experience it. When blood sugar falls so low that further exercise becomes difficult, that's the bonk. Should it happen to you, find something sweet to eat right away and stop. Do not wait to eat and don't do anything more than necessary. It is possible to become so (physically) stressed from bonking that you wake up sick the next morning. Even if you do not get sick, you probably won't derive any positive training effect from the exercise. Recovery generally takes so long that you actually lose fitness, even if the workout had been high quality initially. 

With all the knowledge that I am gaining from my mishaps it certainly is making me stronger and wiser as I go forth on this plant powered journey to a healthy lifestyle.  For now, my gym bag is stocked with vegan lara bars and a banana which I will eat immediately after each workout.  I don't ever want to experience another bonk, that is one bonk to many! 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Breakfast Smoothie

After working out each morning, my main go-to breakfast is a high protein smoothie.  It is super simple and gives me the energy I need to make it to lunch.

A's Insanity Vegan Smoothie
2 heaping Tablespoons Rice Protein
1 teaspoon Spirulina
1 clementine/orange
1 cup blueberries
1 cup water
1 Tablespoon agave nectar or honey

Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth, then enjoy.  This filling smoothie that has an average of 266 calories which gives me boost I need after my intense workout each morning.

I know someday I would love to try the Vega protein powder mix, but it is a little to expensive for our budget at the moment, so I stick with a cheaper brand that gives me the same benefit.  So, there you have it, my morning breakfast recipe.  Try it and let me know what you think!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Chemicals In My Food

I will try and make this post short, but you know this topic could write quite a few books on the chemicals used in food.  Everything I am learning in the new vegan world has taken me for quite a ride and the food issue has been my biggest wide-eye opening experience.

Everyday, I strive to provide my family and myself whole foods that are not processed, let alone involve any chemicals.  I am just shocked on why companies find it OK to add these chemicals that they consider safe into the food they sell, which consumers in turn put into their bodies.  Yes, I know that many companies will stand up and say they are used to help stabilize the shelf life of their product, yada, yada, yada.  But do we really want to eat bread out of a plastic bag that will expire in 2 months or longer after we bought it.  How come the bread I make at home in my bread machine has only 7 natural ingredients in them and it goes bad within a week or so after made?  Why such a short shelf life, well because that is natural way!  And yes, I know many of you just don't have the time anymore to make your own bread let alone exercise, but if you make the time, you will notice the difference in your body and your body will thank you!

It just takes small simple steps that transpire into a huge windfall of healthy and natural lifestyle changes that you in return need to dedicate to your life for the better.  I started out small, by reading blogs, online articles, books to reading labels of food I had in my house and grocery cart.  It will amaze you the quick few minutes it can take to search an ingredient that you are not familiar with online to realize how horrible it can be to your body.  So, I ask you to take a few minutes each day or week and look at what is in your pantry and if it really is what you want to put into your body or if it should just go straight to the trash. 

I guarantee you will be amazed how much your taste buds change after eliminating processed foods/chemicals from your diet.  This was one thing that I could not fathom, but now when I even try a processed food product, it disgusts me on all levels as I wonder how on earth I ate them before.  You could just taste the chemicals in the food as you try and choke them down your throat.  Please take the first step if you haven't already to eliminate those processed foods from your life, your body and the earth will thank you!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Insanity - Round 2 Workout

As of Saturday, I finished my first round of Insanity workout which is a 60 day commitment.  The loss of weight was very little as was my inches, but I will be starting round 2 tomorrow and refuse to give up.  Since starting this weight loss journey all over again after baby number two, it certainly has been a struggle, but not impossible! 

As of January 2010, I have lost 16.4 pounds and 15.5 inches overall.  To me it is heartbreaking considering I am eating healthier than ever before, but to know that I am moving in the right direction and having constant support from my friends and family keeps me going.  Hopefully, during this round, the weight will shed at a faster pace and for my muscles to become more defined.  Only time will tell!