Healthy Strawberry Oat Squares

Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, I am writing this blog post from my first hour classroom at school! The class is Recent American History and we finished our notes early, so I figured I’d just go ahead and start my next blog post on my computer. Today is the first day of school after Christmas Break, and the mood at school is actually pretty good. People are glad to see each other, though nobody really wants to have to wake up early again. I guess I’m feeling the same way. Christmas Break was really nice, though very up-and-down emotionally. That’s kind of just how it feels to be me right now (#teenager!). But, break can’t last forever, so here I am!

Anyway, since I always bring a little mid-morning snack to school, I whipped up some snack bars to make going back to school a little easier. Don’t they look delicious?

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These are healthy strawberry oat bars, and they are so yummy! I veganized an almost-vegan recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction (all it took was a flax egg instead of a chicken’s egg!), and they turned out perfectly. They are full of oats, almond butter, peanut butter, and strawberries, making them a wholesome snack that will keep you energized. I even had one of these as part of my dinner last night! And they are easy to make. Since I only made minor adjustments, I’m not going to write out the recipe for you (I think it’s important to respect those who actually come up with these recipes), but I’m linking the recipe below, and these were the adjustments I made:

  1. I replaced the chicken’s egg with a flax egg.
  2. Where almond butter is called for, I used half almond butter and half peanut butter. This makes them lightly peanut-buttery without being overwhelming.
  3. I used frozen strawberries. No problems there.
  4. I left out the 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar in the filling.
  5. I used a mixture of quick and rolled oats.
  6. I used applesauce instead of apple butter.
  7. I left out the sliced almonds in the crumble topping.
  8. I added just a pinch of salt to the filling.

Find the recipe at Sally’s Baking Addiction 🙂

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Here’s to a great start to 2016. I’m determined to keep my resolutions, and I think these bars will help keep me revved up to do exactly that! 😉

Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes

Hey guys! I am writing this post as I ride home to Ada after being in Dallas for the past few days. That was a very interesting trip… Dallas is quite the big city and is very stimulating. We walked all over downtown, went to the top of Reunion Tower, went to Galleria Mall, ate at the awesome Spiral Diner, and (possibly my favorite part!) walked in the botanical gardens. It was a fun trip, but I’m glad to be going home again. I’ve always been a homebody when all is said and done.

Before we left, I made this delicious dish by Gena Hamshaw: vegan lentil sloppy joes! My whole family and I loved this dish. In fact, I made it in the morning, and by 8:30 that evening, it was all gone! I think it’s definitely better than the non-vegan sloppy joes I’ve had. This version is bursting with flavor from the unique blend of seasonings, which include smoked paprika, chili powder, mustard, and plenty of onions and garlic. It’s also pretty simple to make: just cook the lentils, prepare and sauté the veggies, combine everything, and let simmer for a few minutes.

I ate the finished product in two ways: as the filling in a sandwich (pictured below), and mixed into sautéed zucchini with tomato sauce and hummus for a quick, filling dinner. I also think it stands alone very well. So go ahead! Make a versatile, delicious lentil dish that will not only taste good, but do your body, the Earth, and the animals a favor as well. 

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Wait, one more thing: I just need to go on about one of my favorite sweeteners for a moment! I used maple sugar for the 1 tablespoon of sweetener called for in this recipe, and it reminded me how addictive the scent of maple is. In the U.P. of Michigan, there are many sugar maples (makes sense, given the proximity to Canada), and maple syrup, maple candy, and maple sugar are all popular gifts given in the community. You could buy locally made maple syrup at gas stations, health food stores, and other privately owned businesses. So, as much as I already love the smell and taste of maple sugar, I love it even more because it reminds me of home.

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Chocolate Covered Katie Gingerbread Banana Bread

Ok, so the title is a mouthful… but hey, I’m just trying to give you all the information 😆

I thought I’d show this Gingerbread Banana Bread from CCK off a little, because it turned out to be pretty delicious! I’m not really surprised though, because I’ve made Katie’s regular fat-free banana bread before as well, and that is definitely the best basic banana bread (alliteration? Yes indeed, I’m a scholar 😂) I’ve ever had.

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I felt good about making this recipe just 2 days after Christmas, because in fact it is pretty healthy. It contains Bob’s Gluten Free 1-to-1 baking flour instead of wheat flour (not that I’m against wheat, but all we had was AP white flour), a conservative amount of maple syrup, molasses, lots of ginger, coconut oil, and tons of banana. I used very ripe bananas, which contributed to the sweetness to the point that I didn’t need to add the optional sugar.

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I’m pretty happy with the texture of the bread. It’s a little tiny bit on the gummy side – nothing too bad at all though, and I’d personally prefer that over crumbly. Overall, it’s soft and cake-y, yet satisfying. I feel like, when I use Bob’s 1-to-1 mix, the texture always comes out as very melt-in-your-mouth, rather than chewy. It’s never bad, but sometimes I prefer the heartiness of wheat flour. Do you have any preferred GF baking mixes? I haven’t experimented too much, though I have fallen in love with almond flour!

Also, the flavor here is great. Total gingerbread, just with the addition of bananas! It’s mildly sweet, and I think that’s just right. No need for the optional sugar listed in the recipe if your bananas are ripe enough.

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By the way, I’m still on Christmas break for another week! That means we get to take a little family trip to Dallas, TX for a few days. I’ve never even been into Texas before, but now that we live in Oklahoma (which I hear is basically north Texas!) it’s time to explore the state. I’m really excited about this trip. Some of my favorite bloggers/social media presences (“presences”? Yes, we are going to that level of formality today) are from Texas or live there currently. For example, Katie from CCK and the McKnights from Cute Girls Hairstyles. I’m sure we’ll go to some vegan restaurants while we are there, so I’ll definitely post about it.

I hope you all have a great week! I’d have said “y’all”, but to be honest I’m not quite there yet. #michigander

 

Christmas Day in Photos

I hope you all had a beautiful Christmas Day. Ours was really nice; we opened presents together in the morning, which was so fun and full of so many laughs!! And then we spent the day playing with our different presents, hanging out together, and cooking dinner. Since my mom and I are the only vegans in the family, my dad cooked Maine lobster tails for the rest of our family. Mom made this awesome vegan potato and turnip mash, and I made little hand pies filled with wild rice, mushrooms, chickpeas, and vegetables. It was probably our most gourmet meal yet 😉

The moment my brother Elliot opened up the camera and lens, he started taking pictures. This was one of the first ones, featuring Bianca and my mom at our dining room table.

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This of course continued as we all started to get dressed, which is impossible to do without holding the dog a little!

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Dad and I had some snuggle time as well.

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Then, Elliot and Bianca headed outside for a little photo shoot.

I’m now realizing that most of these photos are of Bianca. Oops… actually nope, no regrets. She’s that great.

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Ooh, look, it’s a photo I took myself!! This was just my view on the dining room table as I took photos of the scrapbooks for yesterday’s post and generally messed around with the camera.

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I also made some macarons with the new sifter that Mom gave me (thank you mummy!) so I took a picture of the cookies as they dried out before baking.

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A little later, it was time to cook and eat dinner. These are the vegan hand pies that I made, adapted from the spring hand pie recipe in the My New Roots cookbook.

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These plates have lobster, wild rice stir fry, lobster and vegetables, and hand pies.

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A family photo or two was taken.

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And at the end of the evening, Bianca was paid for the modeling efforts she exerted all day.

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Almost all of these photos were taken by Elliot, my older brother. He’s pretty excited about the new camera! And that was pretty much our Christmas Day. I hope you enjoyed all the photos.

Christmas Scrapbooks

Crafting stuff is SO fun, especially when it’s Christmas-related!! So, of course, I like to make a few gifts. Last year, I made my dad a clay model of the horse that he liked to ride, and made one for myself, too. I think they turned out really nicely, and the paint job is my favorite part.

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By the way, I used the same cookie cutter for these as I did for a lot of the gingerbread cookies that I made a few days ago (check them out on Instagram @thekalestorm 🙂 ). We’ve really gotten a lot of mileage out of those cutters. I don’t even know how old they are! And there are a couple whose intended identities are…. ambiguous. For example, the sleigh/elf’s boot/snow boot/pi minus one leg, and the Michigan mitten/glove/bird!

Anyway, though, for this year’s handmade Christmas presents, I made my parents each a mini scrapbook documenting a few moments of 2015. I didn’t even know I was going to do that project until last weekend, so it was an intense few days of scrapbooking, but it was SO fun and totally worth it, especially when I saw how much my mom and dad loved them. Here are a few photos!

 

Those photos were taken by our new camera!! This was a family Christmas present, to us and from us. It’s a k3 Pentax, and is probably the fanciest piece of technology I’ve ever used, aside from my computer. I’m so excited to be able to put better photos on TKS!

I think that tomorrow I’ll post a Christmas recap, with a bunch of photos from the new camera. But for now, here’s a little preview of the World’s Most Documented Dog 😀

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Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Hey guys! How were your weekends? I don’t even know what’s going on with me right now to be honest. I’m trying to step up my Instagram game (I’m getting up 1 post per day if you want to check it out!) and also plan for 2 blog posts per week (Mondays and Fridays 🙂 yay for consistency!). Also, you know, Christmas is coming, and I’m planning a few presents for my family. All in all, it’s Christmas break, and I feel so busy. It’s mostly a fun kind of busy, though. Oh, and I’m getting together a Christmas cookie decorating party this week, so you might see a few photos! Exciting stuff, man.

Anyway- I made us some more soup! This is based on Minimalist Baker’s Curried Butternut Squash Soup. It’s essentially butternut squash, spices/seasonings, onions and garlic, and liquid, all blended up into creamy oblivion. I used Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste, which I love because of its many layers of flavor and hint of spiciness. I also topped it off with some plain curry powder, maple syrup, and nutritional yeast for a little more savoriness.

This recipe makes a pretty small batch of soup – I’d say it only would serve four people – so go ahead and double it if you wish. It’s also highly adjustable, so if your butternut squash is absolutely gigantic, add extra liquid to thin it out, and if your squash is very small, decrease the water a little. And, if you decide the soup is too thin, just let it simmer uncovered for 15-30 minutes, checking occasionally, until the texture is where you want it.

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Curried Butternut Squash Soup

adapted from Minimalist Baker‘s Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

1 onion

1/2 or 1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 tablespoon curry paste (I used Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste)

a couple of dashes of curry powder

a couple of dashes of cinnamon

2 tablespoons maple syrup

salt to taste

pepper to taste

1 small butternut squash

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

2 cups of water

a generous pour of coconut milk *

Process:

Dice the onion, and peel and dice the butternut squash. Heat up a large soup pot over medium heat (not hot enough to make the oil smoke, but fairly hot) and add the coconut oil. When the coconut oil is hot, add the onion and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, add the butternut squash, the curry paste, the cinnamon, and a dash of salt and pepper. Stir well, cover, and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the water, coconut milk, and maple syrup. Cover, bring to a boil, and then lower the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer covered for 15 minutes. Then, use a blender (I used an immersion blender) to blend until completely smooth. Add the nutritional yeast, and then add salt and curry powder to taste. Finally, if the soup is too thin for your preference, allow to simmer uncovered for 15-30 minutes.

Notes:

* you may of course leave out the coconut milk if you want it to be lower in fat. Just replace with water or vegetable stock.

* I like to serve this with a drizzle of coconut milk on top. My dad would tell you to use some Louisiana hot sauce, too!

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Minimalist Baker PB & J Muffins

I really like Minimalist Baker – it’s such a fun space, with those beautiful photographs and creative recipes! I’m always interested to try Dana’s creations, and that’s how I found this recipe for Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins.

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These muffins are vegan and gluten free, and can be refined sugar free as well. They are very soft, rich, and moist, and in my opinion, they are almost more like cupcakes than muffins!

This is a one-bowl recipe, which is always appreciated, and doesn’t generate too many dishes. It also uses pretty standard ingredients, like almond flour, gluten free flour blend (I used Bob’s 1:1 Baking Flour, which is recommended in the recipe), rolled oats, and maple syrup.

I think that the flavor of the muffins, while good, would benefit from a bit more salt to bring out the peanut butter in the batter. Also, some chopped peanuts would be great to make the actual muffin itself a little more interesting. All the same, though, the muffins taste pretty darn good.

I’d recommend that you add a little extra flour if your batter seems too wet. I didn’t, even though my batter was wetter than the description given in the recipe, and I think my muffins turned out just a little too soft because of it. Just a word of caution!

I made a mistake with this recipe: I didn’t swirl the peanut butter and jelly into the tops of the unbaked muffins before baking. I think that would have helped keep the jelly on top/inside the muffins, instead of sliding off while baking, and would have prevented the middle of the muffins from sinking (which they did, but not too badly. Again, more flour likely would have solved that problem!).

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Overall, I’d definitely recommend this recipe for some fun and dessert-y (is that a word?) muffins. Just make sure to swirl your peanut butter and jelly, and pay attention to the thickness of your batter! 😁