Banana Nut Bread with Maple Cinnamon Icing ⓥ

Okay, so this recipe is certainly one for the books. I could easily eat this whole loaf in a day all alone. Its so good I have made it four times in the last two weeks (Aaron will literally put a whole loaf down in a day). Side note: its super simple too. If this was some big gig that took a significant amount of time and effort, I would not be messing around with this twice a week crap. Uh uh, no way.

Most importantly, this banana bread is vegan! No eggs or dairy in this bad boy.  Just 100% yummy. It is so crucial to take control of your health, and that doesn’t always mean eating oatmeal and munching raw carrots. While this certainly is not the healthiest of dishes, substituting refined for unrefined sugar (which isn’t necessary to make it vegan) omitting the eggs and saying no to the possible dairy additions makes it a heck of a lot better than the alternative. Also, a cruelty free dish always leaves a happy heart and a happy belly!

Okay so now, lets get into it.

First and foremost, preheat the oven to 350º.

Second and just as important, bananas. For a single loaf, we need to mash 4 bananas. Once the bananas are mashed (little pieces of banana is okay, while huge chunks, not so much) you can add in 1/3 c. coconut sugar or your sugar of choice and 1/4 c. of coconut oil melted, once again or sub your preferred baking oil. Stir until combined.

In a separate bowl, sift 1 1/2 c. of flour, 1/2 tsp. of baking soda, 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder, and a generous amount of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Add dry a little at a time into the banana/sugar/oil mixture folding in until combined. Slowly add all of the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix well.

Add 1/2 c. crushed walnuts, or to your desire, into bread mixture. Stir until evenly combined.

Grease the bread pan and pour the mixture in. Spread evenly. (If desired, a few banana slices can be thrown on top of the bread to add to the aesthetic if you are not going to use the icing.)

Bake on 350º for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the top of the loaf is golden.

Meanwhile, we can prepare the icing. In a large bowl, combine 1/4 c. of melted butter (vegan, of course), 2 c. powdered sugar and 1 tbsp of milk. Mixture should be thick enough to not drip off your spoon but not as thick as a frosting.

When bread is cooled, spread maple cinnamon icing to your desire, slice, & serve!

It’s good. Like seriously good. You have to try it. But this is your warning because there’s no going back!


Banana Nut Bread with Maple Cinnamon Icing 

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes + cooling time (15 – 20 minutes)

Delicious banana walnut bread topped with a maple cinnamon icing. Vegan, egg-less, butter-less, 100% delicious! 

For the bread:

4 bananas

1/3 c of coconut sugar

1/4 c. of coconut oil

1 1/2 c. of flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

generous amount of nutmeg

sprinkle of cinnamon

1/4 c. of walnuts

For the icing:

2 c. powdered sugar

1/4 c. melted vegan butter or margarine

1 tbsp. non-dairy milk

1/2 tsp maple flavor

1/2 tsp vanilla flavor

Directions:

For the bread:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º.
  2. Mash bananas in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add sugar and oil to banana mixture, mix until well combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg and cinnamon together.
  5. Slowly incorporate dry ingredients into wet ingredients, folding in small parts of the dry mixture to ensure it is well mixed.
  6. Once combined, fold crushed walnuts in to mixture.
  7. Grease bread pan and evenly lay in bread mix.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until loaf is golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. While the bread is baking, mix icing ingredients together in a bowl.
  10. Once bread has cooled, ice the top of the loaf with the maple cinnamon icing.
  11. Slice bread and serve warm (optional: add fresh banana slices on the side, totally yummy!)

The Potato Cleanse – Week 2

I’m sitting here thinking about how I want to start this post and quite frankly, I do not even want to think about potatoes anymore. Week one was great- don’t get me wrong. But week two has came and went and with that so did my desire to stick this out any longer. Two weeks (well 13 days), mainly eating potatoes is quite a feat that most people can’t say they have accomplished (or ever wanted to do) but I’m glad that I decided to take the plunge. I learned quite a bit  about my eating habits and my body from the potato cleanse which I’ll get into after outlining what week two looked like eating only potatoes.

Day 8:

Breakfast: russet potato hash browns

Lunch: garnet yam sweet potato fries

Dinner: more sweet potato fries

Day 9:

Breakfast: baked sweet potato

Lunch: baked sweet potato

Dinner: mashed russets with peas and gravy

Day 10:

Breakfast: mashed yukon golds

Lunch: garnet yam fries

Dinner: russet fries

Day 11:

Breakfast: russet fries

Lunch: mashed russet

Dinner: mashed russet with peas and carrots

Day 12:

Breakfast: russet hashbrowns

Lunch: russet hashbrowns

Dinner: diced russet with peas and teriyaki sauce

Day 13:

Breakfast: diced russets with peas and teriyaki

Lunch: baked sweet potato

Dinner: russet hashbrowns

Totals:

25 lbs of russet potatoes

10 lbs of sweet potatoes

7 lbs of Yukon golds

Once again, crazy typing out those numbers and thinking that Aaron and I went through 40+ pounds of food. And also keeping in mind that he was not on the cleanse with me, so naturally I ate more potatoes than he did!

I was really trying to stick out the fourteen days, but day 14 we had a road trip to Sacramento planned to go to a concert and if there would be a day to break the potato cleanse, this one seemed like a winner.

Take aways from The Potato Cleanse:

  1. potatoes are so satisfying and filling
  2. incorporate more potato meals into my normal diet
  3. eating is not a pastime- food is fuel
  4. eating whole foods makes me feel my best
  5. listen to my natural hunger
  6. only eating potatoes save a lot on groceries!!

Eating this way for nearly two weeks and being mindful of how I felt through it all was crucial. I felt (and saw-acne) my body detoxing from all of the processed junk I was eating two weeks ago. I made sure to stay hydrated and listened to my natural hunger signals. It was crazy how many times I wanted to eat something when I wasn’t even hungry just to fill the time, or as a way to spend my time and share time with others. Eating only potatoes also cut down cooking time and the process of deciding what to eat because if you’re anything like us, no one can make a decision. I found myself spending more time on the things that I wanted to do during the day because I had more free time. I had so much energy after only just a few days, and I always woke up refreshed. And not to mention, score one for the great digestion.

Coming out of the cleanse I plan to slowly incorporate new foods back into my diet. Eating really clean makes me extremely sensitive to highly processed foods and foods with a lot of sugar. Trying to tackle those right away will forsure leave me with a stomach ache and a bad breakout.

I feel better, have more energy, and have a new found appreciation for the relationship we should have with food and the foods that we choose to fuel ourselves with. If I ever did do this again, I would stick to only eating white potatoes. Incorporating all variations of sweet potatoes provided me with too much variety and it was fairly easy when I had a lot of sweet potatoes to eat. I don’t know if it’s just my new found love for potatoes of that the sweet potatoes made me enjoy the cleanse way more, but I think I liked it too much. Just a thought, who really knows. Because after all, a potato is a potato.

One last note: I didn’t do this cleanse to lose inches off my waist or lose any weight but just for the heck of it I did measurements of before and after and here’s what it looks like!

Before

Arms- 15″

Bust- 40″

Chest- 33.5″

Waist- 33″

Hips- 39.5″

Thighs- 25″

Body Fat percentage: 26.1%

After

Arms- 15″

Bust- 40″

Chest- 33.5″

Waist- 32″

Hips- 38.5″

Thighs- 25″

Body Fat percentage: 25.9%

Super Moist Strawberry Cake! ⓥ (easy & delicious vegan hack)

Strawberry has always been my favorite flavor. I was the weird one who would get strawberry milk instead of chocolate everyday for lunch in school. Strawberry anything was bound to be the best flavor if I had anything to say about it and this cake is certainly no disappointment.

Going down the baking aisle there is certainly no shortage of options. Whether it be cake, cookies or brownies, every brand has 300 flavors and the what’s awesome is most are accidentally vegan! The “suggested” ingredients, and I do say suggested, never seem to be though. Eggs, butter, butter. eggs, milk, etc., etc.,  are the baking staples and if you’re not vegan, there’s a good chance that you have no idea that you can make a cake without these things. But the great news is that there are so many substitutes, some a little more unconventional than others that require a leap of faith in comparison to a safe substitute of vegan margarine for butter but in the end, whatever dessert you choose can turn out just as yummy when made vegan!

A favorite of mine that is straight from the box is strawberry cake. I use the Pillsbury Moist Supreme Strawberry Cake Mix, with a few modifications, and I promise you, OMG.

The recipe calls for a cup of water, okay, vegan-check, 1/2 cup of oil-check, and three eggs. In this case, the eggs are the problem, who would have guessed. Eggs are just so versatile in baking that they show up literally, everywhere. But luckily a great hack is upon us.

Instead of three eggs, simply add 1/2 cup of applesauce to the dry cake mix, 1 cup of water and 1/8 cup of oil. Its necessary to cut back on the liquids to keep the ratio of dry to wet ingredients suitable for a moist and fluffy cake.

This mix makes a perfect cake in a 9×9 pan, following the baking instruction on the package. Frosted with cream cheese frosting, which is also unexpectedly vegan (although it makes me question what cream cheese frosting really is) and some strawberry garnish on top, YUM! Subbing out applesauce for eggs makes for an (almost) guilt free dessert. There is no doubt about that, so just because it happens to be vegan, doesn’t mean you have to be vegan to eat it (Dad I’m talking to you.)

In a 13×9 baking dish, I find the cake to be too thin for my liking. Doubling the recipe would certainly make for a thicker cake however, I haven’t quite mastered the ratio of ingredients for doubling this recipe without leaving the middle slightly undercooked. But expect a solution in the very near future, because the more cake, the better.

Let me know in the comments your favorite cake recipes/ flavors and if you try this awesome vegan hack for a delicious strawberry cake!!

We Spend All Of Our Time In Coffee Shops

Forager

Freshly brewed coffee is sipped slow

Under lights strung through the rafters above.

 

With your arm around my shoulders

And your fingers in a tangle of curls,

 

We utter secrets of our pasts,

 Strangely spoken in an air of comfort.

 

And it is in these shared moments

I know home will always be at your side.

 

6/30/17


 

Hi guys! Thanks for reading my piece called, “We Spend All Of Our Time In Coffee Shops.” I wrote this after spending an evening last week with my boyfriend at a shop downtown. Whenever we have free time, we always find ourselves hanging out in coffee shops. Some of the greatest times have been shared with the comforting smell of coffee in the air. The photograph is one I took of a shop that we really like to hang out at called Forager in San Jose, CA. It’s huge with comfy couches, large tables, high strung lights, and dope rosettas.

 

Animal Place- Grass Valley, CA

Last Saturday my boyfriend and I made a trip up to Grass Valley, California to visit one of the longest running animal sanctuaries in the country. We left early, around 6:30 and headed north towards Sacramento. Neither of us had been to a sanctuary before and we definitely picked the right one to start with.

We arrived a little before 11:00a which was when the tour was set to begin and got checked in. Our tour group ended up being around 10-15 people and we had quite a few members of the sanctuary leading us along. Before getting to meet the animals, our group was educated on some of the cruelties in animal agriculture. They had a small museum of donated cages displaying the living conditions of chickens, pigs and small calves in the veal industry. After a brief description of how the animals are forced to live their lives in these factories and warehouses we began our tour.

First, we got to meet the sheep. Upon entering, we were instructed which of our new found friends liked people and that we were encouraged to feed and pet and which were more skiddish and thus we needed to be respectful of their space. We then went to see the cows (one of them had just passed away so to respect their mourning period we did not actually get to meet them), the goats, the bunnies that we got to feed with the food we were allowed to bring, the chickens and finally to see the pigs.

This trip was one that I have wanted to do since going vegan and I was so so happy when Aaron surprised me with the tickets. All of the staff members, the volunteers, and the interns that we met along the way were very nice and very knowledgeable. I thought that the realness of the animal agriculture industry was presented in a way that wouldn’t disrespect a carnivores choices but simply open them up to the brutality that they are funding without them feeling personally attacked. It can be extremely hard to teach and explain the reasons of choosing to go vegan and at Animal Place the educational and respectful way of education on animal cruelty was certainly in full effect.

Now, what we’ve all been waiting for:

pictures of the adorable animals 🙂 

Seasons Passed

though the season had passed

& a thousand golden suns

did not raise towards a blue summer sky,

time spent with you

came to be about much more

than solely what meets the eye.

though seasons had passed

& acres of strawberry fields

had not lasted forever,

time spent with you

came to be about much more

than our latest endeavor.

though time has passed

& again it is

time for us to part ,

time spent away

will come to be about

a warmth I feel within my heart.

4/5/17


Hey there! Thanks for reading my piece called “Seasons Passed.” This was a poem I wrote for my dad before I left to move across the country. We really only got close after I moved out of the house in August of 2015 when I was 18 and in this poem I refer to some of the great times we shared together in the summer of 2016.

Something that had been on my bucket list for forever was to see a field of sunflowers. Last summer my dad read an article about a field of sunflowers not too far from where we live. Maria’s Field of Hope  is 50 acres of field that was created and is sustained through sponsors who donate to Prayers for Maria a childhood glioma cancer foundation. The field was absolutely beautiful, however due to the nature of it’s purpose, there were a lot of stories of children who lost their lives to cancer posted on cards on flowers spread throughout the field. While it was inspiring that so many have contributed to the cause, it became apparent how many had been affected by similar circumstance.. needless to say we left with a very heavy heart.

IMG_2738
We learned about the field at the end of the season and didn’t make it to see all of the sunflowers raised towards the sun, and note the gray skies that always loom over Ohio, but we had a great time regardless.

We also went strawberry picking for the first time. Though it doesn’t seem like much it was a great time spent together. We had planned to go a few times this summer but now that I am across the country, that does not seem very likely. I’m so happy that we went last summer because if we would have waited and said “there’s always next year,” (which is the excuse for too many things) it would have been something that we never would have been able to do together and to me that means the world. (I also snuck a Beatles reference in there because he absolutely loves The Beatles.)

img_2472.jpg
Our delicious hand picked strawberries from a local farm.

I feel so lucky that our relationship finally grew and that after all those years, he is my best friend. Growing up I was always jealous my friends who were so close with their parents because I never had that with either of mine. It is not a triumph however, I could simply care less that I have reached the same level as my friends who have a far more normal family dynamic, it just means the world to me that someone I can never get rid of, even if I wanted to, is finally someone who I can tell anything and everything to. If you have that, never take it for granted, and if you don’t, never give up on it.

So I drove across America..

I just wrapped up my second year of school and decided to make a big move. The door was open to leave my small town and head to the West Coast.. and there was no way I was staying in Ohio. My boyfriend booked a flight home (he had already been living in California) and we set out to leave that next morning. Looking back on our trip, first and foremost I miss the road but secondly, I think it went far better than either of us had anticipated. A 38 hour drive sounds pretty awful regardless of how you want to look at it but I was hopeful that as long as my best friend was at my side, I would see sunny California in no time.

Days before I was set to leave, I had all of my family get together for dinner, and more importantly cake and ice cream. All of my family being together at once is an extremely rare and risky occasion and throwing the fact that in less than a week I would be living on the other side of the country, there was plenty of room for it to go less than smoothly. Thankfully it went great and the cake was phenomenal. Looking back, I’m glad that we had our goodbyes then instead of right before I left. If I would have waited to see everyone right as I was setting out to hit the road, it would have been so much harder to take off without looking back. I saw my grandparents and my pups the morning before I left and as they waved us off with watery eyes and bittersweet smiles, I held it together far better than I thought I would. So my first tip of advice is get your goodbyes out of the way because if you’re anything like me, waiting until the day of would result in crying until there was nothing left to cry and about a two hour pounding headache.

my brothers & I

Our first stop was the Windy City of Chicago. From where I lived, Chicago is about a 6 hour drive without traffic. I decided to drive the first leg of our trip and it wasn’t all that bad, except for one thing: tolls. All in all, getting to Chicago and through Illinois I would bet it cost more than $30 in tolls, to me that seems outrageous but it seemed like a good trade off at the time for continuing on the fastest route. East Chicago was a little strange to say the least. A section of the highway was closed for construction and the detour took us through what I would assume to be a small town on the outskirts of the city,  except for the sole fact that we did not see a single person for miles. It was like a ghost town, an old rusty industrialized ghost town that seemed to be out of an episode of The Walking Dead. We got dinner at The Chicago Diner in Logan Square. They pride themselves on being meat free since ’83 and that’s totally awesome not to mention the food was great. We walked a little downtown after dinner, I really wanted to see The Bean but it was so late that it was closed. We drove a couple hours outside of Chicago the first night before we got some sleep. We pulled off in the middle of nowhere in Illinois to get some gas and decided some sleep was necessary. Sleeping in the car is not the most ideal nor comfortable plan, but I was so refreshed the next morning after such a long day the day before.

Denver, Colorado was our next destination but to get there we had to drive through the rest of Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska. Let me tell you now, what. a. drag. Chicago was a nice change in scenery because without that, it would have been 18 hours of farm lands and flat fields.

Driving through Colorado was beautiful and I really don’t know how to put it in to words. It was a terrain that I had never seen before. The skies were so blue and the clouds were white and fluffy for as far as you could see. The rolling hills were endless and we got to see a couple tumbleweeds, which was cool. I also got to drive it as the sun slowly falling which was so unbelievably beautiful. The city of Denver had never been a place on my travel radar but after being there I so desperately want to go back. Granted we did not get to see much of the city but what we did see we both loved so much. The people that we encountered were very laid back and pretty namaste. Most people seemed to have tattoos which is very different than the place that I am from. We had some great eats for a late night dinner and breakfast the next morning. We will definitely be making a road trip back there. The Rocky mountains were another high point through Colorado. I had never seen the mountains before and I really wanted to see the national park but now I think that driving them was enough. We drove through all the of peaks and valley’s and winding roads of the snow capped terrain and it was awesome. The change in elevation did make us really thirsty and made our ears pop for what felt like forever though.

Utah was our next feat that had plenty of beauty to offer as well. There were endless rock formations and viewpoints that we drove passed, another refreshing change in terrain. One specifically was called Black Dragon canyon that we stopped at for what ended up being a couple of hours (even though it was just a viewpoint it was so nice to be out of the car). Through this state rest stops were really far apart and cities were scarce. We got down to two pegs on my gas gauge, driving through some really big rocks at night with little cell service before we really though twice about it. Luckily we made it to  gas station that was only (ONLY) about 40 miles away.

Vegas was the next on our hit list but I don’t have much to tell of it. We were driving through Vegas at about 2 am and decided we needed food or the closest thing to it which landed us at taco bell. We drove through what I assume to be the bustling downtown area of Las Vegas with all the flashing lights and high profile brands but that was about it. I have never had the desire to see Vegas and it was late so we did not bother to get out. Thinking back, Las Vegas is a place you have to see even without the booze and gambling, because it is such an epicenter for true American culture on every level, plus that was the brightest city I have ever seen in my life.

After hitting Vegas, the end was in sight. It was the middle of the night and the last leg of our journey was to drive through California, from the Mojave to the Bay Area. Driving the Mojave was beautiful, and I can only imagine what it would have been like if we drove it in the daylight. Seeing the looming mountains in the distance under the glow of the moonlight was something that I will never forget, don’t get me wrong, but a trip back is certainly due. I never knew how long this state was and I don’t think I ever want to be reminded. The change of scenery from desert to the golden rolling hills was great but it seemed like the hills went on forever especially having been driving all night, the last three hours was gruesome.

My journey was one that I had never anticipated I would actually do and so early on in my life. It was quite the experience and one that I believe everyone needs. Staying in my comfort zone was never my thing and I have always wanted to see different places. There is so much to see and you certainly don’t have to move across the country to start adventuring. If you do however, let this be your warning, you’ll finish one journey itching to start your next.