Yummy Hummus

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I hope you are having a rocking day. If not, watch this video and you will feel happier.

I am having a rocking day because exams are over and I have much less homework than I’ve had in the past three weeks! Hallelujah!

A great way to spend that free time is by cooking and baking. One of the things I’ve been cooking* is hummus! Hummus is a staple food in our house. We eat it all the time! It’s great for lunch with veggies in a veggie wrap, as well as for dipping veggies in for snack! It also takes 5 minutes or less to whip it up. Enjoy!

*Is making hummus considered cooking? Idk. Let me know what you think!

P1240663P1240669Yummy Hummus

adapted from the cookbook Barefoot Contessa: How Easy Is That?

makes 2 cups

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed but with a few teaspoons of the liquid reserved
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • a few dashes of Sriracha sauce

Drain the chickpeas but reserve a few teaspoons of the liquid and put both in a food processor. Add everything else and blend, baby, blend! If the hummus is too thick for your liking, add some more lemon juice. If it’s not spicy enough, add some more Sriracha sauce! A little drop of sauce goes a long way, though, so try not to add too much or you will have steam coming out of your ears (insert Scooby Doo video reference that makes me laugh every time I watch it)! You can enjoy this hummus with raw veggies, crackers, bread, or whatever else you fancy! The hummus tastes even better the next day!

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Have a fun day, and seriously watch this video because you will (probably) laugh!

xx Ellie

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Vegan On Vacation

I sit in a pile of thick exam review guides as I dream of summer and reminisce about my 3 week adventure to Asia. My high school exams are this week, but instead of studying I want to be on the beach in Boracay (who wouldn’t want to be!?)! To remind myself of the trip, [procrastinate], and to help you when you travel, I put together a nifty travel guide about being vegan on vacation! Here, you will find tips to make traveling more fun (or at least bearable!) and tips about how to stay vegan wherever life takes you! Enjoy!

Tips to make the traveling process more bearable:

  • Speed walk around the airport during layovers. It helps prevent blood clots and drives away stiffness.
  • Do yoga in the airport. Don’t be afraid to look silly! Stretching after a long flight makes you feel so much better.
  • Bring fun things to do at the airport and on the plane. Put books, a notebook and a pen, crayons, an iPod, your computer, knitting, etc. in your carry-on bag. Bring more than one of the above so if you get bored, you can easily switch to another activity.
  • Nap in the airport or on the plane. Every little bit helps to prevent jet lag!
  • Drink LOTS of water. It drives away jet lag and dehydration. Bring a large water bottle that you can use on the plane and at your final destination.
  • Book your meal(s) ahead on the airplane. Most flights serve meals or snacks of some sort during the flight. Call the airline before your flight and request a special meal. If you’re vegan, request a dairy-free and meat-free meal on the plane. If you’re vegetarian, request a meat-free meal. I didn’t pre-request a veggie meal on a Vietnam airlines flight, but I asked a stewardess if they had extra veggie meals and they did! It never hurts to ask for veggie options, and airlines and stewards/stewardesses will be happy to help you if they can! A bonus: the meals are pretty good! Both Delta and Vietnam airlines had healthful meals focused around fresh fruit and vegetables. I even had kale and quinoa on one Delta flight!

How to stay vegan on vacation:

1. Book your meals on the airplane (see above)

2. Pack snacks wherever you go: Snacks save tummies and tempers!

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GREAT SNACKS ARE…

  • fresh fruit: fruit that you can peel, like oranges and bananas, are best because the fruit is protected.
  • crunchy veggies and hummus.
  • banana balls
  • nut mixes (my fav: almonds, dried cherries, and chocolate chips!)
  • hearty + protein-packed granola bars: I love LÄRABARS. Or make your own!

If you can, pack snacks in plastic baggies that you can throw away after eating so you don’t have to haul tupperware around for the rest of your vacay.

3. Happy Cow.net : This website is fantabulous. Simply type in the name of the city you’re in and Happy Cow will find you a list of all the vegan, vegetarian, and veg-friendly restaurants in the area! Most of the restaurants that Happy Cow suggests have great food! It helped us find restaurants in Hong Kong. It’s also helped me find restaurants that cater to my food needs in my hometown! You can use Happy Cow anywhere (you just need internet)!

4. Remember that every restaurant (well, except McDonalds) has fresh fruit and veggies! If you’re stuck at a place with no vegan options on the menu, you can always ask for a plate of fresh fruit or veggies. Make sure that you know the words for “vegan”, “vegetarian”, “no meat”, “no dairy”, and “vegetable” if you travel to a place where people don’t speak the same language as you! If you talk to your waiter or the chef at a restaurant, they will be able to help you find something to eat. Remember, they want you to be able to eat something from your menu! It doesn’t hurt to ask for something special!

5. Go to local grocery stores or markets to stock up on food. They will have everything you need!

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A fruit market in Hong Kong

6. Don’t stress about food! Everything happens for a reason, and everything will work out in the end. At the end of the day, you’re on vacation. It’s a time to do fun stuff and try new things! I loved being in Asia because I got to try new foods that I would never ever get fresh here in Michigan! Hopefully you will get to try new foods on vacation! And seriously, don’t stress about what to eat. Do your research, and you’ll be fine. Even if you don’t research, you will find something to eat wherever you go! Well, back to studying! Good luck to anyone else who has exams right now, too!

Have a fun day and go out and explore!

xx Ellie

Banana French Toast Cupcakes (v)

I can’t stop thinking of cupcakes!!! I guess I’ve been watching too many episodes of Cupcake Wars.

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Cupcake Wars is such a fun show to watch! Four bakers come together in Los Angeles, CA. They are given certain challenge ingredients that they have to make a cupcake with in 45 minutes. If they advance, they make 3 kinds of cupcakes in 90 minutes. For the final round, they have to make an 1000 cupcake display for whatever event the episode centers around. These events are typically big, famous, themed parties that bakers are making the cupcakes for. Their cupcakes are judged on flavor and presentation. Watching the show has given me loads of cupcake inspiration!

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Naturally, I wanted cupcakes after watching a few episodes. One baker made a banana nut cupcake, and it prompted my mom and I to create these sweet suckers.

These cupcakes would win Cupcake Wars. They are sweet, nutty, and taste like french toast! Really! Try them out as you watch Cupcake Wars and you will be happy.

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Banana French Toast Cupcakes

makes 12

adapted from these Bake and Destroy cupcakes

Cake

  • 1/2 cup banana (1 huge banana), mashed
  • 1 & 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 and ½ tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2/3 cup nondairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.Toast the walnuts and pecans for 4-5 minutes. Mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Mash the banana in a mixer / blender / food processor, etc. Transfer it into a small bowl, and mix it with the oil, nondairy milk, and vanilla. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry. Fold the walnuts into the batter. Line and fill cupcake tins 2/3 full. Bake for 20-22 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool, then frost them!

Frosting

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 tablespoons Earth Balance
  • 6 tablespoons non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
  • 2 tablespoons + 1/2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Beat everything together until it’s light & fluffy. It will take 2-3 minutes. Frost the cupcakes and enjoy!

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These cupcakes are seriously the bomb. My mom gave them a 10/10. The frosting was so good that I ate it with a spoon! They make my mom and I happy. We hope they make you happy, too! Enjoy!

xx Ellie

Peanut Butter Prints

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I love peanut butter. I love jelly. I love peanut butter & jelly.

After all, I am peanut butter & Ellie!

I also love chocolate and pumpkin pear butter. Therefore, I love these cookies. If you love any of the above, you will love these cookies too!

They make a perfect snack or dessert. You can even just make the cookie dough and eat it because there are not any raw eggs in it (See photo below)! They’re soft, sweet, and delicious! Make and enjoy!

found on Pinterest

Peanut Butter Prints

adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie

makes around 15 cookies

For the Cookies:

  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter (or another nut or seed butter if you are allergic to peanuts)
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup raw cane sugar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp flaxseed meal + 3/4 tsp water mixed together to form a flax “egg” OR 2 Tbsp applesauce
  • 1 tablespoon non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

P1230016cookies topped with homemade strawberry jam (left), melted chocolate chips (middle), and pumpkin & pear butter (right).

Cookie Toppings:

  • strawberry jam (homemade is best)
  • melted chocolate chip mixture (melt some chocolate chips in the microwave and stir them together) or some sort of chocolate spread
  • pumpkin and pear butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix dry ingredients (including peanut butter), then add in the wet ingredients. Form the dough into balls. Bake for 8 minutes. The cookies will magically flatten out (a lot) when baked. They will also look underdone. However, they will firm up! Make a little indent in the cookie and add a teaspoon or so of your favorite jam or spread (Nutella or a Nutella-like spread would be great on these cookies as well!) in the indent. Let cookies cool for at least 5 minutes before removing and devouring.

Have a nice day!

xx Ellie

Ho Chi Minh City Photo Travelogue

This post concludes my travelogue of my trip to Asia. First, I went to Hong Kong and Macau. Then I went to Vietnam and Cambodia. Next, I traveled to beautiful Boracay! I ended the trip in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I had a fabulous trip, but it’s good to be back home (although it feels a bit strange).

I had fun getting to know Ho Chi Minh City better on the last leg of my journey. I saw some pretty awesome things.

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look at all the moped traffic! photo taken by my dad.

The majority of Day 17 was spent further exploring Ho Chi Minh City. We went on a tour of the city via Vespa motorbikes through Vietnam Vespa Adventures! It was fun to get an insiders look of HCMC and be in the middle of the insane city traffic. We scootered to a Buddha monk statue, a wholesale market, a temple, a pagoda (they don’t eat meat or dairy there!), and along the Saigon river. We also went to the Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral again as part of the tour. After the tour, we went to the Ben Thanh market again to do some gift shopping! We also got some exotic fruit to try. We tried lychee*, soursop*, pomelo, dragon fruit, passionfruit, jackfruit*, papaya, long gan*, and star fruit* throughout the course of the trip. For dinner, we went to a Vietnamese restaurant that had options that said “vegan” on the menu! This was the first time that I’d seen this on my trip!

*I liked this fruit.

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People carry all sorts of things on their scooters! We saw scooters with 4-5 people and dogs on them! We saw scooters carrying boxes (pictured), furniture, fruit, and all sorts of things!

Day 18: We went to the HCMC Zoo because that was the #1 thing on my brother’s to-see list in Ho Chi Minh City. I don’t love zoos, but the animals at this zoo seemed to be treated fine. There were nice gardens and some cute animals at the zoo. After the zoo, we ate lunch at a French café, L’Usine. The food was decent. We went to Saigon Square afterwards, which is like a mall but with stalls instead of stores. It’s like the next level up from Ben Thanh market (an indoor-outdoor market). At 6, we went to the A O Show at the HCMC Opera House, an ornate French-colonial building. The show was a mixture of acrobatics, acting, and stunts made into little vignettes about Vietnamese culture. It was applause-worthy!

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we met a happy goat friend.

Day 19 (New Year’s Eve): We woke up early and took a van to the Cu Chi Tunnels, about 1 and 1/2 hours from our hotel. I cannot believe that North Vietnamese soldiers lived in such small tunnels during the Vietnam war. I had a tough time crawling 50 meters through a tunnel, so I can’t imagine how the soldiers felt living in such a cramped space. I don’t know if I could live like that, even if it was a matter of life or death. After the tunnels, we traveled 2 and 1/2 hours to the Mekong Delta. We went to Unicorn Island by boat (that’s the island’s legit name!), where we sampled exotic fruit, tea, coconut candy, and listened to traditional Vietnamese songs. The whole day was an organized tour, and all in all it wasn’t very good because we didn’t have a very good tour guide (because he didn’t speak much english). We didn’t feel we had enough time at both places, either. My advice to you for travel: limit the organized tours. Go places on your own after researching them beforehand. That way, you’ll have as much time as you want there! After the tour, we drove back to the hotel and got dressed for NYE. We ate a 4 course dinner at a fancy restaurant (they made special food for me!), then went out on a speedboat to view fireworks from the Saigon River. The fireworks were off of 3 levels of buildings, 1 being a helipad! They were spectacular. Afterwards, we went back to the restaurant and danced with people from all over the world!

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Day 20, New Year’s Day, was spent sleeping and relaxing! We got hot stone massages. Best. Massage. Ever! We spent the rest of the day eating and saying goodbye to HCMC.

Day 21: We flew to Hong Kong at noon. We stayed in a swanky hotel with a workout room (YES!) and a food room (double YES!). We went to Mong Kok Market and bought some traditional Asian clothing. It was a great last night in Asia.

Day 22-23: We flew back to the USA. Our flight from Hong Kong to Seattle was 11 and 1/2 hours, then we had a 3 and 1/2 hour flight and a 1 hour flight. We had January 3 twice because of time changes! It feels strange to be back in the USA and back in my own bed after 3 weeks abroad! It also feels weird to be back at school after almost a month off. I’ll be spending this week getting acclimated again!

This trip was amazing and I am so thankful for it. I hope that you get a chance sometime to go to Asia and find adventure there! I also hope that you had a wonderful holiday season!

xx Ellie

Boracay Photo Travelogue

I got back late last night from my incredible trip to Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, and the Philippines. It was the best vacation ever! I laughed, I loved, and I learned. I had so much fun seeing new and beautiful places, trying tasty tropical food, and seeing the differences in each country’s culture. I got a bit behind on my trip journal, so I will post about Boracay today, then about Ho Chi Minh City tomorrow. I’ve had fun writing down what I did on vacation, and I hope you’re having fun reading it! I also hope that you will visit some of the places I did if you ever have the chance.

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Panorama of Boracay courtesy of my uncle. Gorgeous, right!?

Day 12 (Christmas Eve): We arrived in Boracay! We checked into Jony’s, our great hotel, and took naps because we were at the airport and flying all night long. After resting, we checked out the beach, swam in the saltwater sea, and I drank a peanut butter smoothie (of course). We also got massages on the beach! My mom and I went for a run on the beach. We ate dinner on the beach! After dinner, we viewed fireworks taking place on the beach! We spent most of our time in Boracay on the beach.

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My little brother and I swimming in the sea. 

Day 13 (CHRISTMAS): This year’s Christmas day wasn’t a typical Christmas for my family. Instead of waking up, opening presents, and eating brunch with my grandparents, I ran on the beach, ate breakfast at Jony’s, swam, read on the beach, and wandered around the island. We had Christmas dinner at Jony’s, and it wasn’t a typical Christmas dinner. I ate a burrito, instead of a huge Christmas dinner. During dinner, carolers came to Jony’s and sang carols to us! There was also a band of drummer boys playing up and down the beach. It was a fun twist on Christmas.cool sand castle Day 14: We headed to Free Willy’s, a nearby dive shop, for a 10:00 AM scuba diving lesson! We watched a dive basics video, filled out some forms, put on wetsuits, and practiced diving! I was a little scared at first to rely on a tank for my air supply, but I felt ready to dive once I practiced breathing underwater with a regulator. We took a boat out to the diving spot. We had to flip backwards off the boat to get in the water! My mom freaked out because of that and decided not to go diving. She missed out! We had guides with us that lowered us deeper into the crystal clear water. We dived down to 20 meters (around 50 feet) and saw tropical fishies, sea anemonies, urchins, and a coral reef! I was freezing after I came up from the 40 minute dive, even though it was 80 degrees F outside. After the dive, we ate and walked from one end of the white sand beach to the other. This was my favorite day on Boracay!

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hey look! It’s me and my dad scuba diving!

Day 15: We woke up at 7:30 AM to go on an “Indiana Jones Eco Tour” on the island next to Boracay. We took a car from our hotel to the boat dock, a boat from Boracay to the island-next-door, and took a van to secluded caves and a cold freshwater spring. We adventured into pitch black caves, where we saw stalagmites, bats, and pools of water. Then we swam in the cold cold spring. We thought the tour would be super Indiana Jones-y and packed with adventure, but it wasn’t really. We were a bit disappointed, but it was interesting to see the big caves. When we got back to Boracay, we swam some more and then went to a Bodybuilding contest that was going on on the beach! I was expecting buff bros to lift serious amounts of weight. Instead it was buff girls walking around in bikinis getting judged for how they looked. We were all a bit disappointed for being falsely advertised to, but we did get to watch fire dancers who danced at the beginning of the contest.

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the cold water spring pool (photo taken by my uncle)

P1240122P1240124Day 16 was very relaxing in the morning, but not so fun in the evening. In the morning, we read, swam, drank smoothies, and tanned on the beach. The rest of the day was spent going back to Vietnam. We checked out of our hotel, then boated to the airport where we found out that our flight was cancelled! So we had to drive another hour to a different airport, where we flew to Manila. Our flight from Manila to Ho Chi Minh city was delayed for 2 hours, so we didn’t get back into Ho Chi Minh City until 3 AM! I really liked the warm weather in Boracay and how beautiful the island was. Boracay was a bit too tourist-y for me because the beaches were crowded and vendors tried to sell you things on the beach. However, it was very nice to have some time to relax and get a tan! Tune in tomorrow to read how the rest of the trip turned out! I hope you had a happy New Year and I wish you luck on any New Year’s Resolutions you might be starting!

xx Ellie

PS: Click on the links to read my HK journal and my HCMC + Cambodia journal if you haven’t already!

Peanut Butter & Banana Nice Cream

100_3448I love the combination of peanut butter and bananas. It’s my favorite combo along with peanut butter &  jelly and pb & chocolate. I just love peanut butter. What’s not to love? Well, unless you’re allergic, and then I can understand how you don’t love breaking into hives when you eat it… but for those who can eat peanut butter, this simple recipe is bowl-licking good.

Make it and you will die of happiness!

Not literally because that’d be bad, but make it and you will be very very very happy. So happy you’ll feel like you’re in heaven which is where some people are believed to go after death in certain religions. So yeah. My advice? Just make this. Especially because it’s soooo simple that it takes less than 5 minutes to make! All you need is a food processor/ blender/ magic bullet, some peanut butter, and some frozen bananas. It’s the perfect recipe because it is so simple and so delicious! 

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Peanut Butter & Banana Nice Cream

serves 1-2

  • 2-3 heaping spoonfuls of peanut butter (another nut/seed/fruit butter would work as well but peanut butter is the best)
  • 3 frozen bananas 
  • 3-4 tablespoons of nondairy milk

Peel ripe bananas and stick them in your freezer. My advice? Peel a bunch of ripe bananas and put them in a bag/ container in your freezer so you can whip ’em out and add ’em to nice cream or smoothies. 

Take bananas out of the freezer and add them plus all the other ingredients to a food processor/ blender/ magic bullet. Blend baby blend! Add more peanut butter if you want it extra peanut-buttery. Add more nondairy milk if you want your nice cream more milkshake-ish. Spoon the nice cream into a fancy bowl or just eat it out of the machine! Top with cacao nibs, chocolate chips, peanuts, coconut flakes, berries, MORE PEANUT BUTTER, or whatever else your heart desires! Enjoy, and lick the bowl clean if you want! 

Happy New Year! Nice cream is a great way to start the new year off right. 

xx Ellie 

This post is part of A Vegan Holiday, a collaboration among vegan and veg-friendly bloggers. Follow along on social media with #AVeganHoliday. Want to learn more or become a contributor? Find out more here or here