Friday, July 4, 2014

Vegan Gluten Free Oat Flour Pancakes!

I'm not gluten-free, but when I can find a pancake without flour to indulge in my pancake love without gain 50 lbs, I'm in! Also, these are by far my favorite pancakes and I've tried every vegan recipe out there! Usually, the arrowroot kills the pancake with its stickiness. Flax pancakes have the benefit of many bathroom breaks, but these banana/oat pancakes are healthier, fluffier, and a huge favorite at my house!
I veganized a regular gluten-free pancake recipe and even added another 1/2 banana with good results. These pancakes taste like the real thing except they are much healthier and use natural ingredients. The banana makes them not fall apart, and it doesn't give a banana flavor if you don't like that. Enjoy!
Ingredients
  • 1¾ cup oats 
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cup soy milk
  • 1½ tablespoons grape seed oil
  • 1 ripe banana smashed
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
Directions
  1. Pre-heat a non-stick pan on med-high heat
  2. Put oats in a blender and pulse a few times until they have a flour texture
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients together in one bowl.
  4. Mix all the liquid ingredients together in a second bowl
  5. Mix dry and wet ingredients. Optional: Fold in some blueberries, nuts, or chocolate chips!
  6. Spray the pan with a little grape seed oil 
  7. Pour about 1/2 cup into pan, cook until brown on both sides
  8. Top with maple syrup and enjoy!





Sunday, June 22, 2014

Minty Mocha Frappuccino

Ingredients:

  1. 12 oz. almond milk (or any non-dairy milk)
  2. 1/2 cup cold brew coffee
  3. 5 cubes of ice
  4. 2 drops peppermint extract
  5. 4 tsp. Intelligentsia hot cocoa mix (the best!)
  6. 1 tsp. agave

Directions:

Put all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. This will be a liquidy version of a frapp, more like a frothy iced latte. So, if you like a thicker version, add ice or reduce the milk. Enjoy!



Monday, May 26, 2014

Tuno Sammies (Vegan Tuna Sandwich)

Tuno Sammies

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15oz) chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup veganaise
  • 1/4 cup red onion diced
  • 1 celery stick chopped
  • 1 TB relish
  • 1 TB dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp umeboshi plum vinegar
  • 1 TB dried dill
  • Butter lettuce
  • Sourdough bread
Directions:

Put the chickpeas in a bowl and smash with a potato masher (or food processor quickly). Next, put in the veganaise and mustard and mix with a spoon. Finally, add the rest of the ingredients and mix in with a spoon. Put tuno mix on toasted bread and place some lettuce on each sandwich. Enjoy!



Thursday, March 6, 2014

Meeting My Norwegian Family in Drobak, Norway

I have been searching for my European roots forever, it seems like. Since I was a kid, the connection to the Europeans was very vague and I always felt like I didn't really know who I was and where my family comes from. After searching through Ancestry.com for years and trying to ask family members what they could remember, I used 23andme.com.

23 and Me is a website to test your DNA which gives you ancestry information and used to give you health information. I got my results one day, and I jumped on the map view to see if I had family in any of the places where my ancestry is supposedly from. There was one distant cousin in Norway! He was supposed to be a 3rd - 5th cousin. I decided to message him to find out if I could find a link. I didn't hear anything back from three months, but I had my trip planned anyway. I planned to end my European vacation in Norway and stop by Drobak to take it all in - with no clear direction or idea where to go.

2 weeks before I left for Europe, I got an email back from the cousin. He was willing to help and was more than helpful through the process. He is an amateur genealogist that was able to translate all the Norwegian documents that lead me from my roadblock of only great grandparents names, to people from the 1600s. He also got me in touch with a living relative in Drobak! He hit a roadblock when going through the path of my great grandmother's brother's side. He found a grave, and called the graveyard to see whole bought the grave. That led him to my 2nd cousin who is still alive. We contacted each other and I excitedly flew to Oslo a couple weeks later.

Eddy, my 2nd cousin, was absolutely amazing to us. He picked us up from the airport and drove us to Drobak with the 3-5th cousin. The four of us took a drive through the scenic and beautiful seaside town of Drobak, 20 minutes south of Oslo. We saw the grave sight (minus the missing graves) of my great grandparents. We then went to the original house that my great, great, great grandpa Olaf built. We were able to walk into the house and see the same view that my ancestors have seen for 150 years.

Vegan in Paris Sucks, and My Thoughts on Paris

Paris in my head is a romantic, majestic place that mimics all the cuteness of the cartoon Madeline, the perfect uniqueness of Amelie, and the Eiffel Tower all rolled into one. The reality doesn't add up to that impossible equation, but I still have a small part of it in my heart.

Paris is not romantic. It has the most beautiful and planned architecture I have ever seen, but the attitude of the people make it outright annoying. The crowds of tourists and the irritated feel of the customer service makes it less and less romantic every second I'm there. Being vegan made them even more irritated and confused which was just...splendid. They thought we had a disease basically, but mostly they were offended that we were rejecting their way of life: bread, wine, cheese, meat, smoke - repeat.

I do have to admit that I am spoiled to live in America where customer service is 'the customer is always right'. You can take anything you can buy back to the store or restaurant. Most people are helpful and will smile at strangers. I guess in other countries they think that is the "dumb American helpfulness" but after enduring the fake kindness my whole life, it is hard to deal with the irritated French.

But all complaining aside, when we found amazing vegan restaurants and nice people - it was all the more exciting and wonderful. The daily markets are truly remarkable. We stayed in an Air bnb in the 13th Arr. on Rue Broca which was the best location to be in. You can wake up, take in the beautiful architecture, take the subway to the Eiffel Tower, Seine, Louvre, or just stroll through a park. Pick up some organic, flavorful food and have an impromptu picnic on the water.

My overall experience was not great. The French are cold to outsiders, which makes it not a very welcoming place. I could get used to the amazing health care, view, and food - not to mention location to every European country you could visit in a weekend. Also, Lucas' family and friends were really nice and hospitable to us. But maybe I can try the south of France next?

Vegan in Stockholm, Sweden : Sodermalm Eating Delights

For the rest of the Swedish trip, we spent days walking through Sodermalm, the hipster downtown of Stockholm. With the beautiful cobblestone streets, random vegan buffets and bakeries, stunning Swedish art and shopping, and the views of Stockholm - it was our favorite place to walk.

We ate at Chutney - which is absolutely amazing Indian food with the Swedish style buffet. You get unlimited chutney, Swedish bread and vegetables, coffee and tea with up to two plates of amazing food. It was so good we ate their for lunch and dinner the same day! I still miss the food to this day. They have desserts as well, which are ok but not amazing- the meals were better.

We also happened to see a vegetarian buffet lunch spot while looking for a half-vegan bakery. Vegetariskt Matcafe Legume was 90% vegan and was similar to the Chutney buffet style of super healthy, good, Indian and Mediterranean food with free coffee and bread.

I also heard about a bakery that had many vegan options. Naturbageriet Sattva was a complete surprise for me. I walked a long way to find it, and when I finally found it, I was kind of disappointed. It looked like a really boring natural bakery - which the name means basically - natural bakery purity (sattva = purity in sanskrit). The place was very minimal and the baked goods were in one small fridge. They looked really blah (like most Swedish desserts: flat, to the point). Since I walked the whole way there, I still loaded up on almost every vegan dessert anyway. I grabbed a cinnamon roll, cakes and cookies, everything. The lady was very nice. She was surprised we were not Swedish because she said every foreigner comes in with a massive backpack (probably all the vegan travelers on a trek from Happy Cow). She explained how an American Buddhist helped make some of the recipes. We walked out of there, packed the desserts away and didn't even try them until that night. To my surprise - they were AMAZING! They were to die for and I gobbled them up with our friend's parents. Lesson: Don't judge a dessert by it's boring exterior!


Stockholm, Sweden - Arriving and Sandhalm

I know this is VERY overdue, but we had a pretty amazing time in Sweden that included private boats, islands, Swedish vegan restaurants and bakeries, and lots and lots of blonde tall people.

We flew from Paris to Sweden on September 7th after spending a very relaxing day in a suburb of Paris with Lucas' family. We took an hour flight that was almost empty with the first people who spoke English in 2 weeks! I almost spoke French to them when they greeted with with their big HALLO. We left Paris, which I was happy and sad about. After about an hour and a half, we started flying over an amazing scenery of jagged islands, deep blue water, and lots of trees. We landed in the middle of a lush forest and nothing else about 40 minutes away from Stockholm.

They have a high-speed train that goes directly to the city center in 15 minutes and goes over 200 mph. We arrived at night and Kris, Lucas' college friend from Hong Kong, picked us up and drove to his house just outside Stockholm. Everything was clean, perfect, and quiet.

Kris and his wife suggested we go to a popular island called Sandhalm which takes 2 hours by ferry that next day, Sunday. We awoke on Sunday very early and jumped on a ferry that took us to the Baltic Sea. The weather was amazing, the air is clear, and the mini islands we passed for two hours seemed to be an endless loop of perfect red and white Swedish cabins with private yachts. The Swedish flag flew in the wind and the only foreigners in Sweden sat in the back of the boat, a couple Indian guys, some sort of white lady, me, and Lucas. Everyone in Sweden kind of looks like me except 99% have bright blonde hair. We are all tall with similar features, which was interesting to see. I don't think they see an integration with darker skinned people or even brunettes so the segregation felt weird all the time - but it was still beautiful.

We reached the island at lunch to find absolutely nothing to eat. Luckily Kris packed us some notoriously thick Swedish bread (quite good) and jam to survive the rest of the day on. He also gave us some notoriously STRONG Swedish coffee in the morning to keep us up the rest of the day. We roamed the island to find clear water filled with jellyfish. Beautiful cabins scattered the coast, but this island was only a 15 minute walk across. We started walking through the forest and there wasn't a person in sight. Only beautiful trees, mushrooms, and cushy plants underneath our feet. It felt like a gnome would pop out at any moment, and the silence was shocking and refreshing.

We reached the other side of the island where there was a beach with the coldest water known to man. A group of crazy Swedish people jumped right in to the freezing water and stripped down naked to change in front of us - which they seem to like as well! We roamed seemingly deserted island for a couple more hours and headed home on a belly full of dill chips. Every restaurant only carried meat and the only vegetarian option only opened up after the boat left. But it was still an amazing day!


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