One of my all-time favorite casual veggie restaurants has hit the Bay Area. Finally! You may recall me speaking of the place a few years ago from when I was on a business trip. I even tried to replicate one … Continue reading
Vitalicious products are expensive. There’s no way around that. At a local grocer, a box of 6 VitaMuffins or VitaTops are likely to set you back $6, maybe less if you were lucky enough to catch a sale. Either way, it’s expensive at right around $1 each muffin. The good thing is they are all natural, low in fat and calories and high in fiber. They are a tasty, chocolate-y treat.
So, why do we have to pay them to make them when we can make them ourselves at home, right? Ah, a recipe. That’s what’s missing.Oh wait… But I have one right here for you!
This recipe tastes surprisingly close to the VitaMuffin/VitaTop version. It does have that same slightly ‘healthy’ undertone to it, so if you’re looking for a really decadent chocolate muffin, this isn’t it. But don’t let that detour you from trying it out. If you’re wanting a sweet, healthier treat, this will definitely do the trick. Especially heated up with a little low-fat vanilla ice cream over the top. Yum!
It makes a fairly large batch, so I recommend freezing them and pulling them out one at a time. To freeze, I suggest you cool them down twice before moving them to the freezer. Cool them completely on the counter, then move them to fridge to chill. Finally, seal them up really well and freeze. When you’re ready to eat a frozen one, simply microwave it for 30-45 seconds (60 if you prefer it hot).
Now, go get in the kitchen, you chocolate-loving vitamuffin/vitatop people, and whip up your own batch!
(Sorry, no pictures of this one. I’ve been meaning to make another batch so I can snap a few, but I haven’t been able to and I didn’t want to hold out any longer, so I’ll just show you a picture of chocolate and hope that suffices for now until I can come back and add a photo.)
Chocolate Chip Muffins (or tops)
Makes approx 36 mini muffins.
- 1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 3 egg whites
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup fat-free half & half
- 1 1/2 Tbsp vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp table salt
- 1 1/2 cup hot water
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp unflavored fiber supplement (such as Metamucil Clear & Natural)
- Preheat your oven to 365 F (Note: you will drop the temperature down before actually baking the muffins. Don’t forget!)
- Using a mini muffin tin or a muffin top pan, lightly spray the pan with a non-stick spray.
- Sift all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine all wet ingredients except the water.
- Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the water and stir until completely incorporated. Do not over-stir.
- Divide batter between muffin tins and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top of each.
- Put your muffins in the oven and CHANGE the temperature to 350 F. Bake 8-10 mins, or until toothpick comes out clean. Do not over-bake or they will get very dry. Let cool for 15 mins on a wire rack.
Nutrition (approx): 70 calories. 1g fat. 14g carb. 1g fiber. 1g protein.
Oh, Ben & Jerry’s. You’ve done it again. As if one of my all time favorites, Phish Food weren’t enough, you go and add my weakness – sweet/salty – to your gourmet ice cream line-up. It’s in the form of “Late Night Snack” – inspired by the Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night Show. Vanilla ice cream with chocolate covered potato chips (yes, potato chips!!!), swirled with salted caramel – it’s a little taste of heaven.
According to some gossip and reports going around, Ben & Jerry’s may have ripped the flavor off of my absolute favorite ice cream place ever – Humphry Slocombe. With almost identical flavors, Humphry Slocumbe serves up their “After School Special” flavor at Spork SF restaurant.
And while I live not too crazy far from San Francisco to get a scoop of the original vanillacaramelchocolatepotatochip ice cream, my local grocer is much easier for me to go and pick up a container of the Late Night Snack version by B&J. Except the main problem is that the either one of these will ooze with at least 270 calories/15g fat.
That being said, I’m going to rip off both of them and make my own healthy(er) version. With closer to 160 calories/7 g fat, this is a delicious substitution that will ease your late night noshing conscious.
Healthy(er) Late Night Snack Ice Cream
- 1/2 cup Half-the-fat Vanilla Ice Cream (or if you prefer, fat free or no sugar added types work as well)
- 8-10 bittersweet chocolate chips (melted in a glass bowl for 45-60 seconds, then stirred)
- 3-4 baked potato chips, crushed (I prefer baked Kettle Brand chips)
Simply, drizzle the chocolate over the top of your scoop of ice cream and sprinkle the crushed potato chips over the top.
I wanted to share one of my favorite blogs and websites with you – They Draw And Cook. This site has been talked about quite a bit around the interwebs and is gaining popularity on their Facebook and Twitter pages. So, likely you’ve already seen the site. But in the event you haven’t, let me introduce you to it and tell you why it’s closer to my heart.
I love food. I love art. I love design. And most of all… I love VISUAL. I AM visual.
In fact, when I write out a recipe, it’s usually in a much more visual form that what ends up here on my blog or even on my recipe cards. I draw arrows from ingredients and use short simple phrases like “mix” to define what to do with the ingredients. If it were easier to translate online (and if you could read my scratchy handwriting), I’d post my recipes that way. Instead, for clarity’s sake, I stick to traditional forms for this blog. But for the recipes that I use at home, they take a bit more of an artful form.
They Draw and Cook has some gorgeous artfully created recipes that are a lovely feast for the eye as well as feast for the tongue.
While some are written in a traditional manner with art around the recipe, my favorites are the ones that take you on a visual journey through the recipe. Like this Sugarless Apple Pie (image from They Draw And Cook). Click on the image for an enlarged view.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! Happy browsing!
Want to see what I ate this “Turkey Day”?
Yup. That’s a Tofu Turkey. Complete with drumsticks and all. I didn’t want to spend the $40 at Whole Foods for a Vegetarian Plus Vegan Whole Turkey that is indeed shaped like a turkey versus the more reasonable Tofurky brand vegetarian turkeys that are loaf-like. If I had a had a whole family of vegetarians, I would have, but it’s just not worth it for just me.
Instead, I make-shifted (is that a word?) my own. I got the cheapest on the shelf – a $5 Quorn Turk’y Roast and two vegetarian chicken drumsticks from a Chinese vegetarian store in Oakland (I don’t know the name. My sister picked them up for me). A few toothpicks later and – voi la! A tofurky!
My husband looked at me like I had grown a second head when I showed him. Then we proceeded to laugh our heads off a how ridiculous it looked. It tasted good, though. Don’t be jealous. You know you want one for yourself.
Edit to Add: My sister gave me the info for the Chinese or Vietnamese market in Oakland that sells the faux products – Layonna Vegetarian Health Food Market. Check it out if you’re in the area. Lots of great faux meat products. The drumsticks are fabulous. The faux salmon… Well, it’s ‘ok’, but it’s still fun for a very random change of pace.
Ever get a big craving for protein? A hot, ‘meaty’ meal? That was me just yesterday. I felt like I could eat an entire tofhorse.
Here was the resulting dinner. It was the most “atkins-esque” dinner a vegetarian can possibly have. It isn’t pretty (especially in this photo since this was snapped on my cell phone), but it was tasty and satisfied the craving.
Egg whites, pan fried tofu, and veggie burger patty. The end.
Please tell me I’m not the only person who is in the possession of 5 different kinds of peanut butter at any given moment, understanding the unique flavor and use for each one. Please? Yeah. I didn’t think that was going to happen… I can accept that I’m slightly over the top obsessive about my love for peanut butter.
Why do I love peanut butter? It’s the perfect food, in my opinion. It satisfies my cravings for sweet and salty in one delicious place, plus it gives me a healthy dose of protein and natural oils – especially delicious before a workout (in moderation). I don’t like overly sweetened peanut butters. I love salty, pure and natural PB with strong peanut buttery flavor goodness. I’m starting to drool just thinking about it. If my consumption equaled my love, I’d be larger than a blimp.
Ok, now that I’ve thoroughly scared you about my obsession for peanut butter… If you’re still reading, congratulations! You’re a brave soul.
Now, on to the real ‘meat’ (pun intended!) of the post…. Peanut Butter. Here are my two absolute favorites and why…
My husband took me to Umbuntu in Napa, CA – this lovely restaurant (and yoga studio) a while ago. He’s such a patient and kind meat eater, willing to take me on food adventures to try vegetarian restaurants (and for the record, he even enjoyed it!). Tucked downtown Napa, this posh restaurant is open, airy with lots of earthy decor gracing the tall walls. The ambiance is comfortable and the staff was friendly as we were seated. Looking toward the back of the restaurant, you can see the stairs into their yoga studio. I might have to go try a class sometime…
We were seated at the long bench along the wall with tables lined up. It was a bit too tight for my tastes. I didn’t love sitting elbow to elbow with fellow diners. I felt a bit uncomfortable and didn’t feel like I could talk freely and comfortably with my husband across the table from me. Because we were so close to other people and because lighting was dim and because I didn’t bring my “big” camera, I just took flashless shots with my point-and-shoot. That means I don’t have any ‘great’ pics to share. So, we’re just going to have to say these are artsy, gritty shots done this way for the sake of art, ok?
If you walk in from the back door (like we did), you’re sure to be impressed with the line up of awards and articles framed on the wall of the hallway to the dining room praising the owner/founder Sandy Lawrence and partner/executive chef Jeremy Fox and chef Deanie Fox. Since we dined, Jeremy Fox has departed Umbuntu and Aaron London, the very young (26!) executive chef, has taken on this role. I’d be curious to return and see if I can ‘taste’ the difference.
The restaurant is following a green philosophy by growing a lot of their own produce and their menu is graced with bold fonts for each ingredient grown in their gardens. I ordered their signature salad (don’t remember the name) with the beet ‘dirt’. It had great flavor and the (optional) cheese was a nice touch. This salad basically has everything in their garden, so the ingredients change with the season.
As much as I loved each dish that was brought to our table, the highlight of the meal were the appetizers! They were to amazing. We had the lavender almonds, chickpea clusters, and some ‘crackers’ of sorts with an avocado dip. We talked about the almonds for days, weeks, and even months afterward. In fact, that’s what inspired my own attempt!
The presentation of each dish was spectacular You could tell that the chefs took each dish to heart and carefully placed each item of food on the plate. Gorgeous! And since they work in an open kitchen, it’s easy to see them slaving away on each service.
The desserts were pretty good. I got one of their signature desserts – the cheesecake in a jar. It came out in a darling jar with some fruit layered in between the very soft, pudding like cheesecake with a lovely crust on the bottom. There were a couple of cookies on the side that were tasty. Overall, while it had good flavor, I wasn’t spectacularly impressed. Granted, I’m a big dessert snob, so for others it was probably great. It was good. Not great. This surprised me considering all the praise over the pastry chef on the wall.
My main regret about this restaurant is that even though I consider myself an average to above-average ‘foodie’, I really had a hard time deciphering the menu. I didn’t know what half the things were or how they were prepared. It made it next to impossible to decide what to get and then when I did finally decide and order, what I got wasn’t really what I thought I was getting. For example, we ordered a pasta dish and it ended up being very sweet. I did not want ‘sweet’ and the menu didn’t give any indicators that it might be sweet. I wish they’d use a bit more ‘plain’ English to a certain degree so the average (and maybe even slightly above average) foodie can know what they’re ordering.
I tried to ask a lot of questions, but I think we got a new server because they didn’t know the dishes really well and had to request assistance from other servers. I’d say service was just ‘ok’ but I blame it on the newness of our particular server. Everyone else seemed just fine.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this restaurant to any food loving vegetarian. It’s a must-try place. Prices a are a bit high, so for us, it won’t happen often, but hopefully we’ll go again soon so I can check out the new chef and see how the food/service is this time.
I admit. I’d never had a s’mores in my life. Partly because marshmallows (i.e, gelatin) was never included in my diet and vegetarian marshmallows are hard to come by (you can read more about my marshmallow woes here and here). And partly because we were never much of a ‘camping’ type family, thus rendering no opportunities to cook up some s’mores. But when I was getting ready to go on a girl weekend getaway, I decided this might be the time to attempt a new recipe – s’mores cupcakes!
So, here is my take on a s’mores – in a cup. It was delicious to say the least. And the girls ate them up. Quickly. Some even stated they were the best they’ve ever had of my cupcakes. They all agreed it tasted like a s’mores. I’ll be keeping this recipe around for a while. I can’t wait to try it again.
Since then, I’ve been mooning over the utopian flavors of s’mores and wishing I could have a ‘real’ one. So, I treated myself to some veg marshmallows, toasted them on some grahams on broil and devoured them with some rich dark chocolate (72%, cuz that’s how I roll). Goooooood stuff. I now feel redeemed. I’ve righted the wrong of never having a s’mores.
So, if you’re looking for that tasty treat in a cup form… Look no further. You’ve arrived.
And because I’m having entirely too much fun with Adobe Lightroom’s presets and because my sister happened to be there to capture me in action, here is a random montage of me making the s’mores cupcakes. Enjoy. Or ignore. Whatever you please. I thought they were fun enough to make a new blog design and title photo with them. Kind of fun.
I had a friend ask me (paraphrasing), what’s with the oat bran and how is it different than oatmeal? Aren’t they pretty much the same thing? That my friend, is an excellent question. Why am I such a crazy fan of the oat bran and haven’t once mentioned the oatmeal? Here are my reasons…
- Nutritional Benefits: Oat Bran and Oatmeal are very similar with their health benefits, but oat bran is a little better nutritionally comparing 1/3 cup. Though oat bran is a little bit higher calorie and fat (slightly – not excessive in my opinion), it also has a lot more fiber, protein, and iron. For me, the vegetarian, the last two are even more important. Check out the stat comparison (M=oatMeal, B=oatBran). Calories: M=100, B=130. Fat: M=2g, B=3g. Carb: M=19g, B=24g. Fiber: M=3g, B=6g. Protein: M=4g, B=7g. Iron: M=6%, B=14%
- Filling: Even though the nutritional data is a wee bit higher for the oat bran, I find it to be a million times more filling than oatmeal. For some reason I can eat oatmeal and be hungry about 2 hrs later. With oat bran, I’m full for about 4 hrs. (no kidding!) This is rare for me since I usually eat about every 3 hrs as a general rule.
- Texture: With oatmeal (non instant), you typically have to “chew”, but Oat Bran goes down more like cream of wheat. It’s much more mushy and creamy. While “chewy” oatmeal has it’s place (I haven’t completely abandoned the oatmeal altogether), there’s just something sort of comforting about the softer texture, for me.
- Flavor: I really see no difference here. The flavor is very much the same as oatmeal. They both need to be “doctored up” (in my opinion) with some sweetener, maybe some sugar, cinnamon, etc.
- Convenience: I, personally, try to avoid the instant oatmeal because of the extra preservatives and sugars. The problem is the length of time it takes to make real oatmeal in the morning is a bit too long for on-the-go breakfasts. With the Oat Bran, I can make my own preservative-free and sugar-free “instant oatmeal” in under 2 mins at the office. Plus, it tastes fabulous. I can even mock some of my favorite instant flavors (i.e, strawberries & cream or brown sugar & maple) in my oat bran. And that makes me smile.
Hope this helps resolve the question in your mind, “Why is is the vegsf gal so crazy for oat bran? Wouldn’t oatmeal do the trick?”
Try the oat bran. I dare ya!