Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Good Morning Sunshine: Oatmeal is saying, 'Hello!'

On a cold, winter's morning, with an afternoon of studying before me, there's no better meal I can think of than slow-cooked Scottish Oats--and a big cup of Earl Grey, of course. They fancy their oats a bit more... 'soupy' here in London, and I found I could embrace that while improving upon it with a multitude of different options.

Now, if you're like me and, until recently, the idea of oatmeal seemed unappealing due to its boring, instant counterpart appearing for breakfast during grade school, I sympathize. But I'll make this my appeal to you: give it another shot! The world of oats has so much potential for every palate, and it doesn't have to be the gluey, sugar-high mess of the past.

My new love for oatmeal began as I started to replace the water for milk... and then milk for coconut milk... and then some banana, some flax seed, vanilla, chocolate, cacao, walnuts, dates! The possibilities are endless and here's the easy recipe for two of my favorites to prove it; no strict rules here, feel free to make it your own.

My favorite part about this breakfast treat is it sustains you well into lunch time with hearty fiber (better than even whole wheat toast) and can go sweet with a variety of all natural sources such as cinnamon, coconut, and a various fresh & dried fruits. Organic soy milk is key for this, sweetened only with organic apple juice (not from concentrate). The amount each recipe makes is for one serving size, but tweak to your liking--I always use 1 part oats to 2 parts liquid + banana for thickening (feel free to omit this and add a bit more liquid as necessary).

Oh, and I would LOVE if you guys would comment any and all of your own ideas or personal oat creations!

Tropical Crunch
I like to eat this one on a rainy day and pretend I'm back on a California beach

1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup coconut milk (I've used from the can but will soon be experiment with making my own)
1/4 cup organic sweetened soy milk
1 medium banana, well mashed
1 medjool date, roughly chopped
1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. ground flax seed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pinch of raw pink Himalayan sea salt
Toppings: unsweetened shredded coconut flakes, crumbled pecans, sliced banana
Mix all the ingredients together in a pot and bring to a bowl. Turn heat to low and simmer according to package directions (varies depending on the type of oats, if you're going the slow cooking way this can be up to 30 minutes, most oats are about 5 though). Remove from heat and add toppings, enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut-Butter Dream
This is a great way to start your day with some mood-lifting cacao and energy-inducing peanut-butter

1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
1 large banana, well mashed
2 medjool dates, cut into small pieces
1 Tbsp of cacao nibs
1/2 Tbsp. goji berries (if you have 'em; they can be quite expensive)
1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. ground flax
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pinch raw pink Himalayan sea salt
Toppings: a dollop of peanut-butter, crushed walnuts, pomegranate seeds, cacao nibs

Mix all the ingredients together in a pot and bring to a bowl. Turn heat to low and simmer according to package directions (varies depending on the type of oats, if you're going the slow cooking way this can be up to 30 minutes, most oats are about 5 though). Remove from heat and add toppings, enjoy!


Saturday, December 11, 2010

9am Fiesta Cookies: Feel the Churro Love!

Looking for something to spice up your morning? Want to party but don't have the energy? Well, I wouldn't necessarily recommend these cookies for breakfast, but they'll make a great addition to your early afternoon fiestas!

Infused with coffee & walnuts, and rolled in decadent Cinnamon Sugar, these cookies are some of the most airy vegan cookies I've had (not to give myself too much credit, of course). I recommend eating them shortly after baking to keep them from becoming too dense. Recipe loosely adapted from chooseveg.com (awesome site, check it out)!

A good sign: As I was baking them, Toni came into the room, his nose hot on the trial. "It smells like Disneyland". I suppose this could be a bad thing (giant turkey legs? dirty water??), but he meant churros--and boy did these taste like a mini-version of our favorite Mexican treat! Plus, you get to skip the whole deep fried bit & enjoy your dessert knowing its cruelty-free.

Oh, and I just knew I had to post these when I found out I won the DailyMeal & Flour Bakery Contest! Flour Bakery is this renowned Bakery with three locations around Boston, MA (one right by my house); unfortunately, they only have a few vegan items (though at least they clearly label them!) but, since I got their cookbook for free as a prize, I can't wait to try out some of the recipes and veganize some others :D (I will the vegan counterparts to them). Check out my cookies that won!

9am Fiesta Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup strongly brewed coffee
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. apple sauce (I used one with apple cider in it)
  • 2 cornstarch eggs (2 Tbsp. cornstarch + 2 Tbsp. water)
  • Cinnamon, brown sugar, and turbinado sugar, to coat

1. Preheat oven to 375°F and get out a large ungreased cookie sheet.
2. Prepare the coating mixture by adding cinnamon, brown sugar, and turbinado sugar together in a small flat bottom bowl to your likely (I did a ratio of 1:1:2, about 1/2 cup total)
3. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl (up to salt). Add together the wet ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
4. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Using your hands form the dough into a big ball. (If it sticks together well, then it's the right consistency. If not, add a bit of water and mix it well.)
5. Form the dough into small cookie-sized balls and roll them into the cinnamon-sugar mixture. 6. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten each ball a little bit. Bake for approximately 5 minutes, or until the top is cooked (no longer sticky or wet) but it is still very soft (if in doubt, take them out; they will continue to cook a bit when you take them out. Enjoy!


PS. Just in case you forgot, here's what the winning cookies (Happy Cow Cakey Peanut Butter Cookies, a mouth full--of cookies that is), looked like:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Union of Opposites: A Salad & Grilled Cheezly

You may not have noticed but I've been on a bit of a comfort-food kick lately. I blame finals... and the snow... but mostly finals. Also there's a sadness surrounding this whole time because not only must I be cooped up with a blinking word doc as my only friend (okay, exaggeration), but these last two weeks are my last two in London (for now!), what am I doing in the library?!

Good question, and that's why I abandoned the library in favor of better fayre this past weekend: the Animal Aid Fayre that is. Besides the plethora of sweets I stocked up on (I know, I know, but there's just so many vegan options in one place!), I also grab some of the infamous Cheezly, London's go-to vegan cheeze brand.

I've heard mixed reviews, some raving that I need to try it, others believing Daiya would be a better alternative (I say people think the grass is just greener in the other country). QuarryGirl posted a good review of these cheezes back to back & I generally agree with her: I came down on the side of Cheezly.

Ultimately I think Cheezly melts betters, is slightly cheaper (at least over here!), and it doesn't try to be something its not. No, Cheezly's Gouda does not taste like Gouda (in fact, don't get that one, it was my least favorite, too sweet!), but its Edam style has a taste of its own and is delicious both in a grilled cheeze or topping a fresh spinach & fruit salad.

Though I will admit, for many Daiya is a healthier alternative, free of many common allergens, to me Daiya cheese is a bit too sweet and, unfortunately, doesn't offer a variety of flavors yet. Mostly people can find one Cheezly style groove with. And that's exactly what I plan to do for the next few weeks here. Fulfill my comfort-food needs with Cheezly!

You can also order it online, but unfortunately most places don't yet have my favorite Edam style--if you find it let me know! The mozzarella & cheddar is also great though! If you get your hands on some, I suggest trying this easy, epically delicious (not-so-healthy) sandwich & pair it with vegan tomato soup (trust me, this is crucial):

Monsterous Grilled Cheezly


* 1/2 tablespoon canola oil
* 1/3 onion, sliced into rings
* 1/4 cup fresh spinach
* 1 T, veganaise
* 2 slices from Cheezly's block (style of choice)
* 2 slices wholewheat bread
* 1 T, Earth Balance, softened


1. In a frying pan, heat canola oil over medium, then add sliced onion. Set to medium-low and saute until soft & translucent (I did it a little over this to give them a nice grill). Remove from heat and transfer onions to a separate plate.
2. Now to assemble your sandwich. Spread half of the Earth Balance on one side of one of the slices of bread. Place it in the frying pan and add the slices of cheeze on top. Bring the pan back to the stove and grill on low--this is going to be a slow grilling process so all the cheeze can melt but the bread won't burn (carcinogenic toast is not comforting). This will vary from stove to stove but if it starts to toast too quickly, lower heat or add a little extra oil.
3. As the cheeze is melting, butter one side of the remaining piece of toast and set aside until the stovetop cheeze has almost completely melted (approximately 3 minutes). At this point, top the melted cheeze with the grilled onions and spinach. Spread the veganize on the unbutter side of the remaining slice of bread and place atop the spinach, mayo side down.
4. Carefully flip the sandwich and allow the slice of bread to slowly grill (add a little extra oil if needed). Remove from heat when thoroughly toasted & try dipping it in some warm tomato soup! Enjoy!

Want to make this sandwich TRULY epic? Add in one of Redwood Food's VegiDeli Organic Schnitzel, pure fried food heaven. Lucky for us Heather Mills (ex-wife of Paul McCartney and model turned animal rights charity campaigner) has bought out Cheezly and is bringing it to America; you may have seen their products around the US already, being sample in places like the Boston Vegetarian Festival. Expect to be seeing Cheezly & other great products in local stores soon!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

To Pickle or Not to Pickle: A collection of Veganized Polski Recipes

It wasn't long ago that you'd see me pulling off dill pickles from my veggie burger or turning my nose up at my grandma's pickled cucumbers. But not any longer, I'm a born-again pickled-food lover and juicy pickles & sauerkraut are at the top of that list.

It's all thanks, of course, to that pesky, Polski boyfriend of mine. Dumplings filled with cream cheese you say? A soup that's 99% beets? I don't think I had even taste a fresh beet before I met him and over the years, more than anything, he's changed and enriched my palate. (I like to think I've done the same for him, considering his move to more healthy, vegetarian fare).

So what's a girl to do when she gets a craving for some good 'ol meat-heavy Polish comfort food? Veganize it, of course! I'm determined to prove that Polish food can be just as good (well, nearly) without all the animal sacrifices. It all began with a Borscht... the first attempt turned out too terrible to eat (then again, it was also my first soup attempt and I tried winging it in under an hour... no good).

Second attempt, Borscht number two! Still came out bland and watery. My reliance on the beef-based soup recipe just wouldn't cut it, so in the third and most recent attempt I used maximum veggie-power, a good vegetable broth, and gave it plenty of hours to stew in its out delicious red juices. The outcome? Perfection. Well almost, I'm going to tweak it one last time before posting the recipe, but you can gaze longingly at this picture until then.

Moving on to last week's dinner, Galumpkies filled with quinoa mix and baked in tomato sauce. I apologize for the especially bad picture reminiscent of a cheap Mexican menu photo (I'm thinking it might be the case that if you have no good photograph to show, don't show one at all). I'm not sure if I mentioned, but a few weeks ago my camera died (and a bit of me with it). I think it a good thing though because I'm now getting a real DSLR for Christmas! But yes, that is the reason for this low-quality camera phone picture. No worries though, I rounded up Toni's camera with some new batteries and I'm back in business with...

Sauerkraut sandwiches! I've walk passed this sauerkraut every time I popped into the grocery store, and every time I did all I could to resist its temptation... today I caved and got some fresh (gluten-free!) rye bread and spicy mustard to go with. Paired with fresh spinach and a hemping mound of sauteed onions, I was in heaven!

Now I've supplied the recipes for these last two here below, but if I were you I'd make the adjustments I couldn't and that is in trying out how some sort of meat (particularly sausage) substitute might go in these dishes. I'm waiting because I'm trying to fine tune a from scratch version. Either way, these cultural classics are delectable. Once I'm home over winter break I'm veganizing the perogies!

So what have we learned from this whole affair? A word to the wise, don't knock your boyfriend's odd eating habits too quickly, you may find out you actually like (LOVE) 'em.

Savory Baked Galumpkies


* 1 large onion, diced
* 2 T, canola oil
* 3 cloves garlic, minced & pressed
* 2 cups quinoa, cooked in vegetable broth
* 2 large carrots, peeled & roughly chopped
* 2 T, pepper
* 2 t, raw pink Himalayan salt
* 1 t, ground cumin
* 1/2 t, garlic salt
* 8-10 large savory cabbage leaves
* 2 cans sieved tomatoes (regular tomato sauce will do)


1. In a frying pan, heat canola oil over medium, then add the onions. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until soft & translucent, approximately 2-3 minutes. Add 1 of the garlic cloves and saute for about 30 seconds more or until just fragrant. Remove from heat.
2. Add chopped carrots to a microwave safe bowl with a tablespoon water. Place a microwave-safe tupperware lid over the bowl (so steam can still escape) and microwave on high for approximately 3 minutes or until almost soft.
3. In a large bowl, mix cooked quinoa, onions & garlic (with oil), carrots, & additional raw garlic cloves. Add 1 T pepper, 1 t salt, cumin & garlic salt; mix well.
4. Using a sharp pairing knife, cut a triangle at the bottom of each savory cabbage leaf to remove most of the hard stem.
5. In a large pot, bring 2 cups water to a boil and add the savory cabbage leafs, boiling lightly for approximately 3-5 minutes or until malleable.
6. Pre-heat oven to 300F and get a large casserole dish ready by pouring a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom.
7. Now for the fun part, rolling your cabbage rolls! Depending on the size of your leafs, you may need more or less, but add approximately 4 T of the quinoa mixture to the inside of your leaf and compress it together in the middle. To roll it, fold in the two bottom flaps (where you made the incision) so the is no hole between them and then fold the bottom over onto the top until tightly rolled.
7. Place your cabbage roll into the casserole dish with the flap on the bottom. Do this for all your cabbage rolls. Pour the rest of the cans of tomato sauce over each cabbage roll and sprinkle remaining salt and pepper on top. Bake for approximately an hour, or until the cabbage is soft. Enjoy!

The Sandwich yet to be hit with the delicious mounds of onions, is there anything better?

Quick & Easy Sauerkraut Sandwich (pair it with a side of fried potatoes!)


(Makes 2)
* 1 medium onion, sliced into rings (roughly)
* 2 tablespoons canola oil
* 4 large slices fresh rye bread
* 2 tablespoon spice mustard
* 1/2 cup fresh spinach
* 1/2 cup sauerkraut

1. Heat canola oil over medium then add onions rings. Saute on medium-low until soft and translucent, approximately 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. On two slices of rye bread, spread a tablespoon of spicy mustard.
3. Add 1/2 of the spinach to each sandwich
4. Add 1/2 of the sauerkraut to each sandwich.

5. Divide the onions up, topping each sandwich with 1/2 the amount.
6. Add the final rye slice to each & enjoy! I recommend pairing this with some fried pepper-spiced potato cubes.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Move Over Almond Joy: The New Vegan Candy Bar in Town

Perhaps I'm a bit late to the game on this one, but today I just had my first Go-Max vegan candy bar. Wandering down the numerous isles of vegan-friendly booths at the Animal Aid Fayre in London, I couldn't help but be caught by the plethora of vegan snacks. In fact, I may have gone a bit overboard with 2 packs of Cheezly, 2 AMAZING cupcakes from Ms. Cupcake, some oat milk, hemp tea... I could go on.

While all of these products turned out to be fantastic (and I will post more about them soon), one stood out: the Mahalo vegan coconut-almond candy bar! Evident by my name (Coconat), I'm sure its little secret that I have a small (... large) obsession with coconut. Almonds? Yes. Vegan milk-chocolate?! YES, please.

The candy bar turned out to be just as good as I hoped, in fact, indistinguishable I'd say from an almond joy... except this is a healthier and cruelty-free alternative. The chocolate was milky in the melts-in-your-mouth type of way, with the perfect amount of almond crunch, a gooey coconut inside, not too sweet, but just right.My only regret is only trying one of the four bars they had on offer! There are numerous locations and online sites to order Go-Max candy bars from, so you can bet I'll be trying the others soon enough. I'm thinking the Jokerz will be the next big success (who doesn't love peanuts in their candy bar?).

My favorite part about Go-Max is that it leaves one less thing for would-be vegans to worry about missing. I say this with Toni in mind--a candy-bar fanatic who doesn't quite have a tongue for dark chocolate. When you have a hankering for a sin-fully delicious, creamy treat, you should definitely try out Go-Max Candy bars.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Court & Cider: or, What I'm Going to Miss About London

Its hard to believe that in a mere two weeks I'll have to leave my cute little central London apartment and fly back to the suburbs (that is until Harvard once again calls). Just when I figured out how to bake cookies in the larger toaster and the best way to do a stir-fry in $5 pans on a hot plate. One thing I won't miss is my lack of real cooking equipment, the high exchange rate, and cheap, delicious, authentic Mexican and Asian food (and In'n'Out fries... I'm sorry, guilty pleasure).

What will I miss? Amazing Indian restaurants and grocery stores (I could hardly find Fenugreek Seeds in all of Boston, let alone at these prices!), a plethora of vegan fare, numerous farmers markets and health-stores just down the corner, Monmouth Coffee, and of course, the infamous, the pubs!

Pub life is something that I think American could learn from the UK. Not because I'm a big drinker, but just the opposite. Instead of having to choose ampy bars where you can hardly hear your friends, the cool place to go grab cheap drinks also includes delicious food and a chill atmosphere. Plus, most pubs can serve up a fantastic cider... I'm thinking I'm going to have to import this stuff as my drink of choice!

One pub in particular has stood out, and I know I'm not alone in thinking this. The Court is a lively pub just off of Tottenham Court Road that is immensely popular with the local UCL crowd. On Friday nights, students and business folk alike gather, overflowing into the streets with cheap drinks in hand.

The Court is a Yellow-Card location, meaning if you put out a pound, you get a--not surprisingly--yellow card that gets your discounts at a number of pubs and bars, about 1-2 pounds off select drinks; ideal for us starving college students. While I've enjoyed my fair share of cider here (Sam Smiths Reserve or Blumers are a sweet introduction), the star of the night was the food.
Lucky me, for 6 pounds you get 2 meals and one option happened to be a Vegan Veggie Sausage and Mash. Oh yes! I had the Vegan Burger & Seasoned Chips here before, and it was, surprisingly, oh so delicious! The Veggie Sausage and Mash fared just as well. I've actually had similar veggie options while here, such as the Veggie Sausage at Wetherspoon. Let me tell you, don't waste your time, please go here!

The red onion gravy was thick and smooth and so rich it could pass off as the real meaty thing. The mash was fluffy, and the veggie sausage was perfection! It was comparable to the best onion and veggie stuffing you've had, lightly fried, but like a fresh falafel, light and veggieful on the inside, perfectly seasoned. Needless to say, for the price, its the best deal in London I've found, a steal.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

It's 5pm Somewhere: Wine for Breakfast

One of the highlights of our recent Germany trip had to be the visit to Kloster Eberbach. Located next to the Rhein, Kloster Eberbach is a site of magnificent architecture and home to original and delicious wine production.

A small tasting of everything finally compelled me into buying Riesling Wein Gelee. Various forms of toast & jam have become a staple in this home, particularly for Toni, so I figured it would be a great gift for him to take home. Unfortunately, it never got that far, getting stopped in airport security... too bad easy jet charges for carry on bags.

At least we had a great taste of it while in Germany; check around the site and you'll find lots of delicious fare (which you can get delivered safely).

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Breakfast to LIVE For: Banana Bread Cookies & The Best Coffee EVER

Monmouth Coffee & Warm Banana Bread to fight the cold!

My friend is having a party to raise funds for their annual Christmas party in support of the charity ATD Fourth World. While Toni's doing the DJing for the night, I'm joining the girls in the kitchen: gotta love bake sales! Having just recovered from cake-overload after this weekends trip to Brighton (fantastic vegan haven!), I opted for a more subtle option: banana bread.

Not just any banana bread though, Sweet Potato Banana Bread COOKIES! These little treats are great for breakfast on the go; baked with a sprinkle of sugar on top they satisfy your morning sweet tooth, but are still tame enough to go well with some Earth Balance on top (or better yet, coconut oil!).

One of these warm cookies, paired with a pipping hot Monmouth Coffee (Costa Rican blend), was the perfect breakfast to combat the freezing temperatures outside.

On a quick side note, if you're ever in London Monmouth Coffee is a MUST. Even if you think you don't like coffee, this place may change your mind. The baristas tend to be the best in their field and have been great in assisting me about the differences in their single roast origins beans (all fair-trade & organic). I go for the filter because you can really taste the unique flavors and appreciate the subtleties; unfortunately, I think my standards are a bit too high now for returning to Boston.

Sweet Potato Banana Bread Cookies


  • ½ cup, steamed & mashed sweet potato
  • ½ cup, mashed banana (or little less)
  • ¼ cup, vegan white sugar (or turbinado)
  • 1/3 cup, maple syrup
  • ½ cup, light brown sugar
  • 1 cup, veggie oil
  • 1 cornstarch "egg" (mix 2 tablespoon cornstarch + 2 tablespoon water)
  • 2 t, vanilla extract
  • 1 t, lemon juice
  • 2 cups, all-purpose flour
  • 2 t, baking powder
  • 2 t, ground cinnamon
  • 1 t, ground nutmeg
  • ½ t, salt
  • 1 ¼ t, baking soda
  • ¼ cup, pecans, crushed (optional but highly recommended)
  • ¼ cup, caramelized orange rinds (optional)
  • 2-4 T, turbinado sugar (for sprinkling)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl combine pumpkin, sugars, maple syrup, vegetable oil, cornstarch "egg", lemon juice, and vanilla extract and mix well. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
  3. Add flour mixture to liquid mixture and mix well. The consistency should be doughy and a bit sticky to work with: it may be easier to lightly oil your hands and “kneed” the dough lightly until combined. Don’t overmix.
  4. Add in crushed pecans and orange rinds, mixing well to combine.
  5. Using about a tablespoon worth of dough, roll dough into a ball with oiled hands. Place on the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies at least two inches apart. Using a lightly oiled fork, flatten the cookies out a bit (as they won’t expand sideways much in cooking). Again, this mixture is a bit sticky, but the end result is so worth it!
  6. Sprinkle the cookies with a bit of turbinado sugar and bake approximately10-15 minutes or until just firm. I found it best to take them out just over 10 minutes once the dough is formed and more longer sticky since they continue to cook a bit once out of the oven (and no one likes overcooked bread!). Enjoy!

This is closely adapted from my Pumpkin Cookies recipe, though the result is quite different. Next time, however, I'd like to adapt the recipe using whole wheat flour (we just ran out!): if anyone tries this let me know it goes