Fab 5 Friday – VegFest Edition

Happy Friday! It’s time for a Fab 5 Friday!

This week’s post is allllllllllll about food. I tried a lot of yummy food at Grand Rapids VegFest a couple of weekends ago. I liked a lot of it, so I’m sharing it with you on my blog!

1. GRAND RAPIDS VEGFEST

I liked VegFest because I found out about so many new vegan foods and I got so many free samples! Read THIS POST by my Grand Rapids blogger friend Katherine if you want to know more about GR VegFest. Don’t worry if you missed it because there will be another one next year that will probably be even bigger and better!

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Food samples, stickers, magazines, and soap were some of the free goodies I picked up at VegFest!

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the Shimmy Shack food truck at VegFest. I waited in line for 45 minutes for a $6 milkshake that was WAY too liquid-y. I wasn’t much of a fan of it, but at least it cured my chocolate craving!

2. ECOTREK PROTEIN BARS = Love at first bite!

photo from mediumroast.net

I discovered EcoTrek protein bars at VegFest, and I tried the dark chocolate coconut flavor for the first time yesterday. It didn’t taste much like coconut… but I could definitely taste the chocolate in it since the bar has cocoa powder in it and it’s coated in a chocolate shell. The chocolate melts in your mouth when you take a bite (YES), but each bite takes a while to chew because it has that chalky “protein bar texture.” I’m okay with the chalkiness of the bar because it tastes good AND it has 6 servings of fruits and veggies and 10 GRAMS OF PROTEIN per bar. You read that right. 10 grams for 195 CALORIES! It’s a decent-sized bar, too – about the same size as a KIND bar.

The bars are vegan, gluten-free, and they contain antioxidants and superfoods in them like beet juice, spirulina, açai, aloe vera, and hemp powder THAT YOU CAN’T EVEN TASTE. So don’t worry about the bar tasting like aloe — it only tastes like chocolate! It’s as satisfying as chocolate bar but much healthier with less sugar, less calories, and more protein.*

*Based on this mini review, I feel like I could advertise for EcoTrek. Keep that in mind if you’re reading this, EcoTrek company! Haha.

3. Apple Pie Larabars

I’m definitely into granola bars right now. I just started play practice for the fall play at my school, so granola bars make a great pre-practice snack! By the way, the play is “The Diary of Anne Frank.” SUCH a good show. I’m Margot Frank.

Back to the bar: it tastes like apple pie. Sweet, doughy, and caramel-y… but the only ingredients are apples, nuts, raisins, dates, and cinnamon! I love Lärabars, and I’m so happy that we got a lot of free samples of them at VegFest. They might be my favorite type of granola bars taste-wise! EcoTrek are my favorite nutrition-wise though because they have 6-7 grams more protein per serving than Lärabars.

Somewhat related question: Are you an actor / actress? If so, what’s your favorite show you’ve been in?

4. SUNBUTTER

My best friend‘s mom introduced me to Sunbutter. I LOVE IT. I’m almost done with a jar of it — and I only opened it last week! Keep in mind I’m the only one that’s been eating it. It’s great on apples, bananas, on carrots, and by the spoonful!

Don’t worry peanut butter – I’ll always love you, I just wanted a little change!

5. THE REDHEADS HUMMUS

Redheads** has a store right by my cottage, so my family buys their products a lot. They had a booth at VegFest where we got to try their delicious hummus! I like their pesto hummus and their garlic hummus.

**I also love their baked goods. In fact, I made my own version of their peanut butter carrot muffins! Check out my recipe HERE!

image from redheadsinc.com

I am so glad my town finally got a VegFest! 
Do you have a VegFest where you live? 

Have a wonderful weekend!

xx Ellie

Peanut Butter Carrot Muffins

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Peanut butter and carrot is a really good combo. Don’t believe me? Dip a carrot in peanut butter, eat it, and find out for yourself! This delicious combination is mixed together in these muffins.

They’re inspired by the peanut butter carrot muffins from a local bakery near my cottage that I ate almost every morning this summer.

They’re super moist, sweet, and airy. They’re delicious. Case in point? My mom ate four when I made them. And the best part? They’re full of protein from the peanut butter and they provide you with a full serving of vegetables!

Give them a try, and feed them to people who hate vegetables because you can’t tell that there are vegetables in them.

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Peanut Butter Carrot Muffins

makes 12

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons peanut butter (preferably creamy)

Wet Ingredients

  • ½ cup “yogurt” *

-I processed 1 cup (8 oz) silken tofu with 2 Tbsp lemon juice and 1/4 tsp salt in a food processor. I used ½ of that (so I used a ½ cup, aka 4 ounces) in the muffins.

*You can also use a commercial vegan yogurt or regular yogurt if you’re not vegan.

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  • 1 flax egg

-Mix together 1 Tbsp of ground flaxseeds with 3 Tbsp of water. Let sit in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup carrot puree

-Put 10 baby carrots (or 3 large carrots cut up) and enough water to cover them in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave for 3 minutes. Drain them (using a colander), then process the carrots in a food processor until they are a puree. You’ll have to process, scrape down the sides a few times, then process again. You may need to add a teaspoon or 2 of water to get the carrots moving.

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  • optional :  chopped carrots if you want carrot chunks in the muffins (because the puree won’t be noticeable)
  1. Make the flax egg.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Make the “yogurt” in the food processor and put it in a separate bowl.
  4. Make the carrot puree and put it in a separate bowl.
  5. Process the dry ingredients (including peanut butter) in a food processor or mixer.
  6. Add in the wet ingredients, including the carrot puree and yogurt, and process / mix until just combined.
  7. Spoon into prepared muffin tins.
  8. Put the muffins in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until they’re golden-brown, fluffy, and a toothpick comes cleanly out of them.

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Have a sweet day!

xx Ellie

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Blogiversary!

Guess what!?

Look at the title of this post and you’ll know what. Hehe.

My blog turned 1 on Sunday! YAY! Peanut Butter & Ellie’s next goal is to learn how to walk. Just kidding. But wouldn’t it be cool to see blogs walk? Or computers? Maybe in the future! You could have a robot blog or robot computer (there are probably robot computers right now! Actually, I think robots are computers.)

Back to the blogiversary.

One year ago yesterday I created a WordPress account and started this lil’ bloggie. I’ve published 92 posts (including this one). Click here to see my first post and my first food sharing post and you can see how far I’ve come, both in writing and photography!

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One of the first recipes I shared was this “Fancy Stir-Fry.” I photographed it inside when it was raining (bad lighting), so I used flash (bad idea). Now I know that you shouldn’t use flash in food photography because it makes pictures wayyy too overexposed!

Compare it to my most recent post, “Caramel Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream,” and hopefully you will see an improvement in my photography!

tomato stir-fry

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Guess who also had a birthday!? Me. I turned 17 (!!!!!) on Saturday (Sept. 5).

I HAVE to mention the treats I tasted since this IS a food blog after all! I had vegan cupcakes from a local bakery for a pre-birthday celebration with my grandparents AND I made a hummingbird cake for my actual birthday (recipe is linked). The cupcakes were matcha (chocolate cupcake with green tea frosting), double chocolate, pistachio (chocolate cupcake + vanilla frosting + pistachios), and peanut butter & jelly (chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and a jam swirl)! A hummingbird cake is a spice cake made with bananas, walnuts, and pineapple. It is deeeeelicious. I frosted mine with this buttercream frosting (linked, I used 1 cup Earth Balance instead of ½ cup shortening and ½ cup butter).

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clockwise from far left : matcha, pistachio, pb&j, and double chocolate (sprinkled with sea salt).

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Blowing out the candles of my hummingbird cake! It was so hot outside that a lot of the frosting melted off the cake (aka why you see unfrosted spots)!

Also, tomorrow I start my FINAL YEAR of high school! Where has the time gone!?!!???

Anyway, I just wanted to give you a little update on life as of late. I’m hoping to spend a lot of time crafting in the kitchen this fall! It will be a great break from college applications.

If you have a blog, when is your blogiversary? How old is your blog?  Also, is anyone else doing college apps right now?

Happy Labor Day! And to public schoolchildren : happy first day of school tomorrow!

xx Ellie

Caramel Peanut Butter Ice Cream

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Guess what time it is!? Peanut butter jelly caramel time!

Yup, it’s the monthly Peanut Butter Bash, where bloggers from all over come together to celebrate the marriage of peanut butter and one of its many pairs. Last month, peanut butter got married to banana, but banana got old and rotten so peanut butter divorced her and found a new match : caramel. Sweet, succulent, and smooth, caramel and peanut butter make the perfect match (since pb is also sweet, succulent, and smooth).

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This ice cream tastes like a peanut butter caramel cookie flurry / blizzard / whatever else you call the delicious concoction of ice cream plus candy or cookies. It’s addicting and can cause pure bliss among individuals who love peanut butter. Remember, you’ve been warned.

I tell myself it’s okay to eat a lot of it because it’s vegan and it has less sugar than regular ice cream. The ice cream itself only has a 1/4 cup of sugar, the cookies don’t have much sugar in them, and caramel is naturally sweetened with fruit! Less sugar = more ice cream for your “nutritional buck.” Yippee!

ENJOY, you lovely peanut butter lover.

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Caramel Peanut Butter Ice Cream

makes 1 quart

  • 3 and ½ cups (2 cans) coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum (you don’t have to use it if you don’t have it, but I’d highly recommend using it because it stabilizes the ice cream)
  • 1/3 of the peanut butter cookies

Mix-ins:

1 recipe of THESE peanut butter cookies

1 recipe of the caramel (recipe below)

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Caramel:

OR you can use MY OTHER CARAMEL RECIPE if you want an even richer caramel! In the other recipe, you can swap the almond butter for peanut butter if you just can’t get enough of it!

  • 17 dates (a little over ½ cup)
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ cup water
  • 1/4 cup nondairy milk

Blend the dates in a food processor. When they’re broken up into little pieces, add everything else and run until you get a silky caramel mixture.

Procedure :

Shake the coconut milks then open them and put them in a large saucepan over medium heat. If needed, whisk them around so the top layer (cream) and the bottom layer (water) combine. Whisk in sugar, vanilla, and xanthan gum. Turn the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir constantly for 1 minute when it boils so the mixture doesn’t overflow and burn on your hot stovetop (I know from experience that it WILL burn and it WILL NOT smell good!)! Take the mixture off the heat (and turn off your stovetop) and add in a third of the cookies (later, you’ll add the rest into the ice cream). Let it cool for a few minutes, then cover the mixture with plastic wrap so the wrap is touching the ice cream (so a “skin” doesn’t form). Let this sit out for 30 minutes, then transfer it to the refrigerator for 2-3 hours to let it cool.

After 2-3 hours, set up your ice cream maker. I use a Cuisinart soft serve ice cream maker. We got it BRAND NEW at Goodwill for $50 (normally they’re $100). YAY for bargains!

***If you don’t have one, you can try making the mixture and adding in the mix ins right away. Then you can freeze it stirring it every half hour until it’s frozen, but that’s so much more work.***

Pour the mixture into the bowl of your ice cream maker and mix according to the machine’s instructions. After 20 minutes, add in peanut butter cookie crumbles and caramel. I put about 3/4 of the caramel recipe in, as I reserved the other 1/4 for topping the finished ice cream with.

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ice cream churning in                          the ice cream maker

You can eat the soft serve ice cream immediately, OR you can put it in a container and freeze it until it is ready to consume (about an hour or two, but leaving it in the freezer overnight is fine too). Thaw ice cream 15-20 minutes before serving. Scoop it into ice cream cones or bowls and top with more cookie and caramel.

Notes :

  • I used the procedure from the s’mores ice cream from Oh, Ladycakes! to make this ice cream (boiling the coconut milk mixture on the stove and letting it sit and stuff). The recipe is linked. Try it out because it’s insanely delicious.
  • You can use almond butter, sun butter, hazelnut butter, or another “butter” in place of the peanut butter in the cookies (if you’re allergic to or don’t like peanut butter).

Enjoy! xx Ellie

P.S. —

Check out all the other peanut butter and caramel recipes below!

Reese’s Caramel Popcorn from Gina of Kleinworth & Co.

Peanut Butter Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies from Rebecca of Living Better Together

Peanut Butter Twix Bars from Carisa of Messes to Memories

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Carmelitas from Maggie of The Love Nerds

Peanut Butter Caramel Oreo Ice Box Cake from Miranda of Cookie Dough and Oven Mitt

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownie Cups from Stephanie of The TipToe Fairy

What I Eat in a Day

ONE OF THE FIRST QUESTIONS PEOPLE ASK ME WHEN THEY FIND OUT I AM VEGAN IS, “WHAT DO YOU EAT ON A DAILY BASIS?”

Well, the answer to that question changes depending on my schedule and the season!

For BREAKFAST, I’ll typically have one of the following meals.

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Above, from left to right : a pink and green(s) smoothiestrawberry jam muffins, and a peanut butter banana smoothie. These are some of my favorite breakfasts!

LUNCH changes depending on what day of the week it is.

  • Weekdays during the school year (September-June), I will normally pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (hence “Peanut Butter and Ellie”), a piece of fruit, and some sort of dessert.
  • On weekends (or weekdays during the summer), I will typically sauté veggies and eat them with hummus. I’ll also eat fruit and dessert (I MUST eat dessert and chocolate every day!!!).

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Above peanut butter and jelly. Combine them with bread to make a yummy sandwich!

I normally eat two snacks a day. I eat one before lunch and one around 3 or 4 pm (after school). SNACKS are…

  • plain fruit
  • fruit slathered with nut butter
  • veggies + hummus
  • smoothies

DINNER normally comes from one of my favorite vegan cookbooks. My mom and I love to cook dinner together, but sometimes that just doesn’t happen. Normally, we’ll make a vegan dinner one night and my brother (and sometimes dad) will eat non-vegan leftovers. The next night, my mom will make a fresh non-vegan dinner for the boys and we will eat leftovers.

Some of our favorite meals include Chloe Coscarelli’s “Pineapple Not-So-Fried Rice,” “Orange You Glad I Made Crispy Tofu,” Peanut Noodles, and “Stuffed Shells in Arrabbiata Sauce” (all of these recipes are from her first cookbook, Chloe’s Kitchen).

*Click on the links above for some of the recipes!*

When I’m in a hurry, I make quick and easy meals. Two of my favorite quick and easy meals are spaghetti with marinara sauce (I like Barilla’s traditional marinara sauce) and a veggie quesadilla with vegan cheese.

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Above, from left to right : veggie quesadilla, pesto protein bowl, and vibrant penne pasta. These are three of my favorite quick and easy dinners.

This is the meal plan that I’ve found to work for me. It may or may not work for you! How much, how little, and what you eat depends on your body type and how much physical activity you get every day. Basically this is me telling you to eat whatever your body wants you to eat! If your body is craving carrots, eat carrots. If it’s craving chocolate, eat chocolate! I’ve found a vegan diet of both raw and cooked foods works best for me.

I would highly recommend a vegan diet and lifestyle to everyone!

Hope this helps!

xx Ellie