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. 😉

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.

 

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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. 😉

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?! 😉 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. 😉

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?


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?

Break Away

October 12, 2010

Oh, how I love five day weekends. It’s the last 24 hours of fall break. This means it’s the last 24 hours of me procrastinating on studying for four, yes four, midterms that I have this week. I spent a good chunk of my weekend in Chapel Hill getting speeding tickets (those cops are sneaky as hell), being forced to watch Twilight (I hatehatehate those movies and books), stuffing my face with Mellow Mushroom pizza (hello, Daiya!) and last but certainly not least, going to Whole Foods for the first time in my life. Actually, I had a [rich] foodie’s dream day. I went to Earth Fare, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s all in the same day.

Sad speeding ticket face:

Yay for court dates.

I don’t even want to know how much this is going to cost me, between needing an attorney (I can’t make it as my court date is during a final exam) and the fact that I was going…well… let’s just say I was going a lot over the limit. But it will be okay in the end I know, so I’ve decided that I’m not going to let this affect me. After tweeting my speeding ticket anger away, Happy Whole Foods face ensued. But I’m a bad blogger and didn’t capture it. I realized as I walked into the store that I had forgotten my camera. Trust me, there was madness. I don’t know how I only spent $17, hot bar included. Oh God..the hot bar. Don’t even get me started. I had some of the banginest (that’s a word) tofu EVER. I am sad and happy that I don’t have a WH store back home. Happy because I’d never have any money, but sad because it’s Whole Foods, man.

I hope Heaven has a Whole Foods.

Other treats include Sweet and Sara marshmallows, a squeezie pack of Justin’s chocolate hazelnut butta (!!!), Daiya, and a sh!t ton of chocolate. I also purchased something I’ve had my eyes on for a while…

I’ve only heard praise for this stuff. With the nutritionals, it was no surprise. Lotsa protein and fiber and goodies inside. I’ve been using Trader Joe’s chalktastic soy protein powder for my green monsters, so it goes without saying that a change was welcome. I’ve also been avoiding cafeteria food like the plague, so a smoothie for lunch sounded delicious the other day.

Post-gym lunch.

Into the blender went 2 very ripe bananas, a dash of vanilla almond milk, ice ice baby, and Vega’s Vanilla Chai optimzer.

Faaaavorite mug!

Yum. Green.

I really wish I could say I loved this. I want to say that it was an explosion of vanilla-y, banana-y goodness. All my favorite flavors were there, but something was off. I took about four sips before having to pour the rest down the sink. It was just so chalky! Maybe I did something wrong? I’ll give Vega another chance sometime, but not for a while. I’ve lost my faith in protein powders.

And cops.

Have you ever had a run-in with the cops? When I was 16, I got pulled over for the first time for running a stop sign. I turned on the water works and got away with a warning. Also, what’s your favorite brand of protein powder?

I’m Addicted

August 5, 2010

I’m not ashamed of my addiction to that TikTok song by Ke$ha.

I’m sorry, really, I am. It’s just so catchy!

I’m also not ashamed of the fact that I put far too much lemon into my food, especially during the summer.

It’s just so refreshing!

Lemon in pretty much any dish is fan-freaking-tastic. It can brighten up anything from cupcakes to smoothies to savory dishes like scrambled tofu and even egg and dairy free quiche. Yup. I’m a lemon addict… but I hate lemonade. Is that weird?

Lemony Orzo with Roasted Butternut Squash and Pine Nuts

Sheesh. This baby needs a shorter name. I’ll just use an acronym for now. LOwRBNaPN. Yeah. I can so remember that.

You’re gonna need:

1 butternut squash

1 cup whole wheat orzo

1 lemon

1/3 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup basil, julienned

S&P to taste

First, find the least phallic-looking butternut squash you can.

I love these! Erm… I’m talking about the squash.

Don’t know how to prepare a squash? Click here.

Chop it into cubes, and then coat it in olive oil, salt and pepper. Throw them in a 375 degree oven for about an hour, or until they’re tender and cooked through.

Go play outside for a half an hour! 🙂

But don’t go too far, because just before the squash is done cooking (about ten minutes beforehand), you’ll want to put on a pot of water to boil. Once it’s bubbly boiling, add in your orzo.

Zest your lemon, then squeeze the juice. Immediately put about half of it into the bottom of a large serving dish. Chop your basil and also put about half of it into the bowl. Once your orzo and squash are done, trow them in there too. Top with pine nuts, the remaining basil and lemon juice, and lemon zest.

I think I got my family addicted to this dish.

Proof:

Now if I could only get them to like Ke$ha…

What’s your guilty pleasure?

And Many Mooooore

August 1, 2010

Birthdays are fun. Especially when they involve raw vegan restaurants, chocolate, and cupcakes.

This will be a post of few words but of many pictures..mostly because I’m exhausted as I type this…and I know y’all just want the food porn.

Did not disappoint!

Luna’s Living Kitchen was previously a pure vegetarian restaurant. I was devastated when they shut down a few months ago – so when I found out that they re-opened you KNOW I had to pay them a visit. Very much improved – everything on the menu was vegan and raw!

Raw zucchini spaghetti with mushrooms and pesto.

Sissy and Mum got the sprouted quinoa and kamut burger.

At one point, my carnivorous counterpart said “OHEMGEE this is SO good. It’s amazing!” Yep. Future vegan.

Go ahead and drool.

Or do what I did, and try to lick up all the drippy parts. So worth it.

El Luchador: banana, peanut, hemp milk, hemp protein, raw cacao, agave. Oh yeah, and bliss.

Next up: vegan cupcakes.

After reading about these babies on Caitlin’s blog, I knew I just had to find ’em.

This display was beautiful!

Vanilla cupcakes with raspberry and chocolate frosting.

Eh. I wasn’t crazy about this cupcake. For $2.75, it wasn’t super expensive but it wasn’t a fantastic deal either. The Boston cupcake (AKA best in da world) was $3.50 but double the size and less oily.

This vanilla cupcake sure was moist, but that was because I’m betting there was a ton’o vegetable oil in there. I know cuppycakes aren’t supposed to be healthy and all, but I don’t like when they’re just plain old greasy. The frosting was a bit of a disappointed, too. Upon first tasting it, I didn’t think it tasted like much at all. It was kind of bland. And then I noticed the texture. It was chewy, mushy, almost like eating jam? I can’t really describe it – it made me wonder if there was gelatin in it, though.

I’ll give it a C+ but an A for effort. After all, being able to get vegan cupcakes in the dirty dirty is pretty freakin awesome.

All in all, today was purdy darn good. Food, gifties, and family time.

Oh yeah… and chocolate.

What’s the best birthday you’ve ever had?