The title says it all.

Last week, I was contacted by the lovely folks over at Enjoy Life Foods asking if I was interested in sampling and reviewing their new and improved cookies. Um, vegan and gluten free cookies FO FREE? You know this girl ain’t gonna turn that down.

I can’t lie… playing with those packing peanuts was pretty darn fun.

On to the crux of the matter….the goods.

I received 3 boxes of cookies – 1 Snickerdoodle, 1 Lively lemon, and 1 Double Chocolate Brownie.

Before I go on, I have a confession to make: I wasn’t too sure I would like these cookies. You see, I bought Enjoy Life’s cookies before and was disappointed. I found the texture and taste to just be, well…off. You know when you give someone a vegan cookie and they can tell it’s a vegan cookie without you saying it? Yeah – that’s how they used to be. So when I heard that the recipe was new and improved I wondered if that meant they’d be less obviously vegan.

My thought process went like this: how can a cookie that is free of 12 allergens and also vegan and gluten free be delicious? There’s no:

-wheat

-dairy

-peanuts

-tree nuts

-egg

-soy

-shellfish

-fish

-potatoes

-sesame

-sulfites

or

-casein

Plus there’s no trans fats, GMOs, or artificial ingredients.

So…is it any good?

First I sampled the double chocolate brownie cookies. Would  you ever expect any different from me?

Upon ripping open the plastic wrapper I could smell the cocoa powder and I didn’t even bother to get a plate. That’s juts a formality, anyway right? When Enjoy Life says new and improved, they really mean it. My doubts were gone and my world was full of butterflies, rainbows, and unicorns because I had delicious chocolate cookies in my life…finally. These cookies were even Roomie tested and Roomie approved. I do believe her word were along the lines of, “This is vegan?”

Once the sugar coma wore off (what’s a serving size again?!) I decided to sample a snickerdoodle. Hey, it’s a tough job but I have to get my review out there. ūüėČ

Two words: holy cow.

How on earth had I gone my entire life without eating a snickerdoodle before today!? Maybe it’s the cinnamon that scares me away (ever since attempting the cinnamon challenge, I’ve shied away from the stuff). I hesitantly took a small nibble of a snickerdoodle before promptly inhaling the rest. Good grief, Charlie Brown – these are delicious.

Another great thing I noticed about these cookies was the fact that they stayed so soft and moist, even after being opened. I forgot to put them in a ziploc baggie, but when I tried one the day after opening, they were still as soft as ever.

Oh, it’s love.

Finally, I tried the Lively Lemon flavor. I’m not the biggest fan of lemony desserts. Lemon bars and lemonade are too tart for me. My dad is a fan of anything lemon, so clearly, I didn’t get that trait from him.

I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I say I loved these cookies, too. There were flecks of lemon throughout, but there was a nice balance of sweet and tart; the lemony flavor wasn’t overpowering at all. It was more like a hint of lemon. Or, as the name suggests, a lively lemon flavor.

It’s safe to say that I’m addicted to the snickerdoodles and once I’m all out, I’ll get my butt to the nearest Earth Fare and buy ten a few boxes. My only dislike was the size of these cookies. They’re kind of small, maybe three or four inches in diameter.

The verdict? Two thumbs up.

Thanks again to Enjoy Life Foods – check them out! They have a full line of allergy and gluten free products, everything from [delicious] chocolate chips to cookies to granolas and bagels.

Note: I was not compensated or paid in any way to write this review – I simply received the cookies in the mail and gave my honest opinion!

What’s your favorite kind of cookie?

Go buy these. Now.

 

Chilli Days

January 13, 2011

49 out of 50 states are covered in snow right now.

Mine is no exception.

Yesterday afternoon morning, Roomie and I woke up to a blanket of snow and ice outside of our window and were thrilled to find out that classes were cancelled. Glorious. Sledding > studying.

Of course, being the cheap college student I am, I don’t have a sled. Or the proper footwear. Lucky for me, my RA is a genius and informed me to wear rain boots. She also provided me with a sled.

Fabulous.

Yes, my ghetto ass sled was a box. No shame.

 

Come on, you didn’t think I managed to stay on, did you!?

My RA isn’t the only genius around here though. My brilliant neighbors discovered the most innovative sledding solution of this still very young century. Can you tell what it is?

No? Well, it’s a cookie sheet! I’ll tell you what, if you have a spare anywhere and you’ve still got snow on the ground, you need to get your toosh on that cookie sheet and find a hill to speed down. I am doubly sure that I would singlehandedly own any and all of my competition in Bobsledding. London 2012, anyone?

After two hours of intense sledding, we were pretty frozen. My hands were numb, my sweater was filled with ice, and I had muddy smears on my peacoat. I may or may not have looked like I peed my pants. I knew what was in order: a warm, comforting, warm, delicious, warm, and filling lunch. That was warm. Enter one pot chilli!

Chilli To Warm Your Bones

This delicious chilli is easy to prepare and perfect for heating yourself up after a romp in the snow. The spices are completely versatile, so you can adjust the heat to your taste and use whatever ones you want or have on hand. Serves 4-5.

You’ll need:

2 cans of beans, your choice. I used kidney beans.

1 onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

2 cups TVP, hydrated*

1 can of no-salt added diced tomatoes, with the liquid

1 cup vegetable broth

1 tablespoon chilli powder

1/2 tablespoon cumin

1/2 tablespoon onion powder

1/2 tablespoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

 

*TVP, or textured vegetable protein, is pretty easy to rehydrate. Click here for the 411.

To start your chilli, heat up a large pot (large enough to fit everything) with a drizzle of good olive oil. I feel like Ina Garten when I say that.

From foodnetworkhumor.com

Once your EVOO is heated (Oh God, now I feel like Rachael Ray!), toss in your onion and, if you’re feeling saucy, go ahead and toss in a tablespoon of minced garlic. Once the onion is translucent, add your TVP and bell pepper and cook for a few more minutes. Heck, you could even roast the pepper beforehand for even more deliciousness. Crazy talk.

Now you’re at the point where you need the TVP to absorb all of your spices, so go ahead and add them in before you add in your canned tomatoes and vegetable stock. If you want to be even more of a risk taker, you could pour in a bottle of Blue Moon. Hey, I won’t tell, especially if you live in a dry dorm. ūüėČ

Once everything is in your pot, bring it to a boil. Then let it all simmer and hang out for as little or as long as you like. The flavors will intensify and meld and become the most comforting chilli you ever imagined. It’ll warm you up enough to go play in the snow some more.

Just be sure to wear the right shoes.

How did you spend your snow day(s)?

Sweet & Sour and Delicious

December 8, 2010

It’s finals time. You know what that means. The next few weeks usually involve many late night cram sessions, 23 quiet-hours, and lots and lots of stress. The truly devout college kids lock themselves away in the study rooms of the library tower, a cup of coffee in one hand and a ridiculously thick textbook and highlighter in the other. But what happens at 1:30 AM when you’ve finished studying? You’re hungry and there are no options on campus. But don’t you dare pick up that phone and order crappy takeout.

MSG, anyone?

I’m proud to say that I’ve survived my undergraduate career (so far) without having to pull a single all-nighter and I haven’t succumbed to a Chinese takeaway dinner. I’ve found that planning ahead really helps, whether it’s getting by from week to week during the regular semester with two classes, jobs, clubs, etc or whether it’s during crunch time at the end of a semester.

One thing I like to buy that’s super cheap? Brown rice!

I bought this bag for $1.39 and there’s quite a few servings in there. What more could a cheapass broke college student want? Brown rice is one of those things I’ll make a big batch of on Sunday night and eat with steamed veggies and such during the week.

Obviously it’s not quite instant rice (brown rice takes 45 minutes to cook), but this recipe here really is all about planning ahead. In addition to letting the rice simmer for a good hunk of time, you’re also going to need to press some tofu. More on that in a minute.

Better than Takeout: Sweet and Sour Tofu

Serves 3-4 hungry, studious people

This ultra simple recipe is something you can make any night of the week. It keeps in the fridge wonderfully, and the leftovers only get better because the flavors have time to hang out. Trust me on this one, you’ll want to buy quality sweet and sour sauce. It costs a little bit extra, but it tastes amazing.

What you’ll need:

1 block of extra firm tofu, pressed

1 cup of brown rice, uncooked

1 onion, diced

1 cup sliced peppers

1-2 cups broccoli

a jar of good sweet and sour sauce

~1/3 cup of flour (optional)

The first step to this recipe is to make sure you’re done studying for the day. Why? Because you need to press your tofu.

What’s under there, hmm?

In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have put this on my printer.

That’s how I press my tofu because I’m too cheap to buy an actually Tofu Xpress or whatever they’re calling it these days. Who knew there was an actual use for textbooks?! ūüėČ Just kidding! I read them!

Let your tofu chill underneath your pile’o textbooks for as little as 15 minutes. I let mine sit for a few hours, only because I’d never pressed tofu before and wondered how firm that sucker really could be. Oh boy. Let me show you…

That hunk that’s missing was a “test slice” to make sure it was firm enough. ūüėČ

How did I wait this long to press tofu? The texture was delicious. It made me fall in love with tofu all over again. I’ll eat the stuff straight up, and in its pressed form, it’s even better.

Once you emerge from your pressed-tofu-loving coma, let it marinade in about 3 tablespoons of your sweet and sour sauce for as long as you have time.

Heat up a pan and oil. If you have it, use sesame oil. If not, olive is fine.

Saute up your veggies and then add in your tofu and as much or as little sauce as you’d like.

Saucy.

Here’s where that flour comes in to play. I didn’t cook my tofu before my veggies because I didn’t want it extra crispy. You can if you want to – instead, I scattered in handfuls of flour until the sauce got thick and the raw flour taste had cooked out. I know it sounds odd, but it really worked.

Now you’re ready to devour!

And maybe study some more?

When you were in college, did you make late night runs to a local restaurant or fast food joint a lot?


Defining Delicious

November 8, 2010

de·li·cious

[dih-lish-uhs]
‚Äďadjective
1. highly pleasing to the senses, esp. to taste or smell: adelicious dinner; a delicious aroma.
2. very pleasing; delightful: a delicious sense of humor.
Used in a sentence: “Holy crap, that was a delicious pancake.”
Example of deliciousness: Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter!
There is a LOT of passion in this picture.
I’ll do anything to save money. I’ll avoid using the air conditioning in my car to save money on gas, I’ll bum laundry soap off Roomie until I cave and buy my own, and I’ll only buy organic when I absolutely have to. But I have no problem shelling out $10.99 for a jar of this magic:

The reason I have two jobs.

Now that boyfriend’s outta the picture (his loss anyway), Justin can have my heart. Actually, he stole it long ago. Back when I experienced Whole Foods for the first time I spotted a squeezie pack of this “Nutella knockoff” and nabbed it. I saved the little pouch of chocolate-y goodness until it was perfect weather: a rainy night in need of some chocolate. It was love at first bite.

I thought living as a vegan meant I’d never be able to drizzle Nutella on my pancakes or enjoy it straight up. Of course, I also thought it’d mean I would have to give up Bailey’s, but I didn’t…. Anyway, back to the point, Justin is a genius. A true hero. And if it means I have to go without gas for a week, then so be it. ūüėČ

Is there a certain food that you’ll “splurge” on when you buy groceries?

Living on campus sure has it’s perks. It’s hella convenient to get to classes because I’m smack dab in the middle of everything, I love my dorm, and I love feeling like I’m involved on campus. But it also sucks majorly. Maybe it’s the lack of parking for residents on campus, or perhaps it’s the overcrowded dorms and the fact that I now even wear shower shoes when I’m at home. You know, I don’t think those things are the worst. Living on campus would be just perfect if it wasn’t for one thing…

a required meal plan. Meals look like this:

We all know what that means. Burgers, fries, pizza, white pasta, and a salad bar with greens that have been out for far too long. Any vegetable in sight has been bastardized in one way or another: it’s creamed, mashed up with cheese or bacon or, to top it all off, has been deep fried. We don’t get much say in what’s available that day – what they’ve prepared is what you get.

So what’s a healthy college kid to do when they’re not craving fries and ice cream all day long? Here are my tips for healthy dining in an unhealthy dining facility.

1) Look for whole grains. Got a pasta bar? Then there should be whole wheat pasta somewhere. If not, request it! In fact, go on a whole wheat requesting spree. Ask for whole wheat bread and bagels for toast, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice.

2) If you’re going to have a salad, choose spinach over lettuce. Darker greens = more nutrients. Plus, they taste better.

3) If you go to the dining hall for breakfast and choose the make-your-own waffles or pancakes, bring your own maple syrup. I’m talkin’ 100% pure here, folks. Here’s a secret: the syrup the dining minions use is just sugar with flavorings, and is reused. How gross is that?!

4) See if there is a gluten-free section. In my dining hall, there is and generally I’ve found that gluten free cereals on offer are also vegan, whole grain, free of refined sugars, and are deeeeelish. That’s better than Lucky Charms.

5) Avoid going to the dessert or pizza bar every day. Sure, it’s great to enjoy these things if you want to, but just remember that moderation is key.

6) Get creative! Make a salad and then top it with vegetables from the hot bar, or get a whole wheat bagel and top it with veggies to make a sandwich. It might sound gross or weird, but the most delicious creations can be made if you think outside the box.

7) This is my most important tip: talk to the dining hall staff! Most of the time, they love to hear your feedback. They won’t know something is wrong unless you tell them. Don’t be afraid to say so. See if you can talk to the head of the staff, he or she is usually there during the day. Tell them you want more options, healthier fare, fresher fruit, etc. They will listen.

8 ) Drinking soda with your meal? Only fill your cup 3/4 full and top it up with water. The same goes for sugary drinks like punch or juice.

9) Whatever you decide to eat, put it on top of a bed of spinach or leafy greens. Yay for extra nutrients!

10) Don’t eat the meatloaf. Just don’t.

11) Keep healthy snackage in your room! Some days, you just don’t feel like going to the caf for dinner and I don’t blame you. Have fruits and vegetables (think bananas for snacks and potatoes for baking) as well as cereal, oatmeal, boxes of pasta, and frozen/canned vegetables.

Did/do you live and dine on campus? What are your tips for healthy eating when you’re not the one preparing the food?

 

Lucky Me

October 24, 2010

**There is a naughty food picture in this post! Just warning you now. ;)**

 

 

What is it with me and finding oddly shaped potatoes? I really have some odd lucky when it comes to produce shopping. Whether it’s a face in a pepper or a¬†Siamese-twin pair of carrots, it will always find its way to me.

Remember this little guy?

I swear it came like this.

My parents recently came up to my school to visit, and because they are good and generous souls they brought their starving child some food from Earth Fare (extra bonus points for organic!). Well, in the potato bin there was a little guy just waiting for me…

I heart carbs. Literally.

I wonder what shaped potato I’ll find next…

Ever gotten a weirdly shaped veggie?

One of Those Days

October 17, 2010

Sometimes, you wake up and it’s one of those mornings. Whether it’s because you had a long night at work, pulled an all nighter in the library, or because you had one too many glasses of passion fruit rum/apple schnapps/vodka/OJ. Not that I did that.

Either way, there’s a great solution to a crappy morning. And it involves chocolate. Seriously, could life get any better? A lot of people that I know turn to junk foods when they’ve got a hangover..maybe now I can convert them. I rely on green monsters to get me through rough mornings, but sometimes a girl just ¬†needs herself some chocolate.

The Ultimate Hangover Cure: Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes

Serves two hungry, lazy, hungover friends

1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup chocolate flavored non-dairy milk (I used almond)

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 T pure vanilla extract

2 T maple syrup or agave nectar

1 t baking powder

cocoa or carob powder to taste

1 banana, sliced

a handful (or two or three!) of chocolate chips

 

Slice up your banana while you heat up a non-stick griddle or skillet. Put it at about medium.

The batter is insanely easy. Just mix everything together (sans bananas and chocolate chips) and then pour it onto your griddle. Once you’ve done that, press in your bananas and chocolate chips. They’ll get all melty and delish as they heat through. Cook the pancakes for five minutes on each side, or until the bottoms are cooked.

Top with more chocolate chips and maybe a dollop of fantasticness.

Just don’t put any vodka in the batter and you’ll be set.

What’s your favorite drinkie and what’s your go-to hangover meal?