Posts Tagged ‘vegan snacks’
The Spanish Conquistador
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When I worked at a coffee shop in college, we used to have this pain-in-the-ass drinking chocolate from a company called Shokinag. This is why it was so bad. Reason #1: it tasted awful. Reason #2: you had to take these chocolate flakes and melt them in hot water, stir them at 100 mph, and then add steamed milk. However, I was bored one day and started reading the back of the Shokinag’s can, which was full of interesting hot chocolate lore. Thanks to my superior memory, I will always know the following.

1: Hot chocolate was brought back to Spain by the conquistadores.

2: It was a drink enjoyed by royalty.

3: It is traditionally served with cinnamon and honey.

As the sun starts to set earlier and earlier, I find myself getting home from the gym and wanting something hot to drink. So last week I plopped on my Halloween-themed slipper socks (so comfortable, go get yourself a pair), and came up with this recipe.

Granola Bars
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Only 2 days through my now-infamous McDougall week, I caved. My stomach was demanding a mid-afternoon snack, and I got caught at work without access to suitable food. The next thing I knew my legs had carried me to the vending machine. I don’t remember buying it, but somehow 85 cents ended up in the machine and a granola bar ended up in my hand. It was like magic, I swear. I was probably possessed.
I didn’t actually feel bad about caving, but it was not something I wanted to repeat. Thus, it became critical to find an oil-free granola bar. I know that a l’arabar would have been acceptable, but they charge a buck sixty for those things, and they are pretty much mashed up dates. They are delicious and good in a pinch, but they are not what I would consider a granola bar.
A granola bar should have, well,  granola in it. However, granola is chock full of fat, so I had to go to the source: the oat. Oats are just as good as granola; they just haven’t been toasted with a lot of oil and sugar. In a way, it’s granola in it’s natural habitat. I perused the McDougall forums and found a recipe that looked promising, except it was missing a very key ingredient: carob chips. I understand that I probably screwed up the entire “no-oil” guideline by the addition of these sweet little darlings, but they made my granola bars something like ten thousand times as delicious. Plus, even with a couple of carob chips, these were much better for me than anything that ever came out of a vending machine.

DIY Granola Bars
I found the original recipe here: but added quite a bit to it. 

  • 2 cups of quick cooking oats
  • 2 bananas which have been frozen and then thawed
  • 1/2 c. cherries, pitted and cut into fourths
  • 2 TBSP carob chips
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Mash the banana well and whisk in the spices and vanilla.
Add the oats and mix. You will have almost a dough, but not quite.
Stir in the cherries and carob chips.
Spread the mixture on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for half an hour.
Cut into bars. They will be deliciously chewy.

Why Aren’t All Donuts Vegan?
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Recently, I went away to Vegas for the weekend, and I rounded out the trip with a stop at Ronald’s Donuts, which is a Buddhist-run donut shop off of The Strip. While Vegas is not a great place to be a vegan, I wonder if most vegans who live there have thought of subsisting entirely off of these donuts. I almost surely would consider it if I were local. My favorite part of the entire experience was how much of an honest-to-goodness donut shop Ronald’s was. There were no fancy pictures on the wall or bamboo napkins. They even used styrofoam cups (which I have a little bit of a problem with, but they were kitschy so I can get past that. If Ronald’s were situated in LA, their bakery boxes would be emblazoned with their name and logo, there would be water features, and the display case would have been carefully lit and sparsely populated. Instead their case was teeming with donuts and the only decorative feature was an old man in the corner who just looked like he belonged in a donut shop.
This post brings up an important point that I like to make. There’s healthy food, and there’s vegan food, but the two are not always the same. In this case, these donuts were nearly undiscernable from “regular” donuts. That means they were full of sugar and fat, but it also means that it was a great way to enjoy true junk food without comprimising my ethical status. There are certain occassions in one’s life that call for donuts, and dissapointment is one of them. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time in Vegas, it just wasn’t all that I hoped it would be when I went out. Since misery absolutely loves company, and mild-dissapointment craves it, I recruited a friend with no sorrows (but an amazing metabolism)to help me conduct a very, very scientific taste test of Ronald’s donuts.


The verdict:
By far the most amazing pastry had to be the bear claw, but the cinnamon roll was probably a close second. Their jelly donut was very good, but I would have liked a: a higher jelly to donut ratio and b: a more natural jam instead of a sugarfied gel. I also have to give a special shout-out to the apple fritter which, while being completely greasy and so heavy that I felt it the entire next day, was probably better than any apple fritter I have ever had. Since it’s the only vegan apple fritter I’ve ever had, I feel like the Buddhists deserve a real round of applause.

Mean Trails of Runyon Canyon
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Way back in March, I went on my first hike with my new veggie hiking group. They were a great bunch and we took sort of an urban hike through the streets of Beachwood Canyon where we saw some great architecture.  I have a tendency to get really “into” things, and my hiking excursion was no different. In addition to packing a hat, extra water, and a first aid kit, I also brought along a brown paper bag filled with delicious vegan trail mix. A hike isn’t the same without trail mix. I was so into the whole Saturday hiking idea and it was so beautiful outside, that I followed up the hike with a second hike in Runyon Canyon Park. A few years ago, my friends and I got hopelessly lost trying to find Runyon Canyon Park. In retrospect, it wasn’t nearly as cool as we thought it was going to be. There were a lot of dogs and a lot of trail runners. I have nothing against dogs on trails, but trail runners drive me nuts. I’m like a spooked horse every time one of them whizzes by. Also, I have a problem when dog owners don’t pick up after their pets and the entire park starts to smell like a giant horse stall. On the up side though, there were some great views of the city.
More relevant to my readers than the views, I made a really exciting trail mix for this hike. For me, a good trail mix has 3-4 main components. The compulsory components are granola, fruit, and nuts. You should include one thing from each category. The fourth component is more optional, and it varies from trail mix to trail mix. For our purposes, we can call it the “yum factor”. It’s usually something along the lines of chocolate or carob bits, and its job is to bring the outfit all together. In this trail mix, I used a hint of bourbon vanilla extract and plenty of cinnamon. The cinnamon and vanilla take this particular trail mix to a whole new level. You could probably use regular vanilla extract, but I would only do it if you were looking for an excuse to chase the trail mix with bourbon.

Happy Trails Trail Mix

  • 3 c. of your favorite granola
  • 1.5 c. freeze dried banana chips
  • 1 c. raw almonds
  • 1 tbsp. earth balance
  • 2 tbsp. raw sugar
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. bourbon vanilla extract (see Trader Joe’s baking aisle)
  1. Melt the earth balance in a frying pan and add almonds, raw sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Mix well and cook until the sugar melts. 
  2. Add the banana chips and mix well to coat.
    Transfer to a bowl and mix in the granola. I used maple almond. 
  3. Lay your trail mix in a thin layer and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Don’t freak out like I did, the bananas will firm right back up as they cool. 

Makes 11 half-cup servings at 231 calories each.