Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Carob Balls? More Like PB Balls.

    My dad and I are in LOVE with carob after trying some type of carob square or bite. We first saw them at a health foods store in Cedar City months ago. I admit I didn't try the ones from Cedar City, but my dad said they were good. My dad tried to make them last as long as possible, but at last nothing last forever. Lucky us when we stumbled into Cali's Natural Foods for our first time we saw that they had carob bites! These had a few different ingredients then the others, but they are full of nut and very light and crunchy.

For those of you that don't know what carob is it a lot like chocolate. Unlike chocolate though it has a naturally sweet taste to it and is completely safe for dogs. It's even said that in Ancient Egypt it was a common sweetener and used in hieroglyphs for "sweet".

Carob has some amazing heath benefits to it as well. 
  • It's great for digestion.
  • It's great for infants or adults who have diarrhea 
  • It has no caffeine for the people that are worried about lowering their caffeine intake.
  • It's said to help lung cancer if eaten on a regular basis.
  • It lowers the cholesterol level in blood.
  • Carob contains vitamin E which helps cure flu, cough, anemia, and osteoclasis.
  • Plus probably more that I don't know about.
Carob is a great alternative to people that can't eat chocolate like my dad for instance. Even if you can have chocolate I recommend carob because of all it's health benefits alone! Warning though it may take you a few bites to get used to it, but after three bites of it I was hooked!

Since the getting buying carob bites can get so pricey my dad told me I should make some. I told him I couldn't make them into squares, but in the form of balls would easily be do able. So off I went searching for a recipe that sounded something like the carob bites we've been eating. I found nothing that sounded like them, but I did get a few ideas. There I was grabbing a jar of peanut butter(since I didn't have any almond butter(that I wanted to use at least), oats, pumpkin seeds, raisins, and some raw honey(you could easily use agave, brown rice syrup or even maple syrup). I threw them all in the food processor and formed some balls(I have the hardest time not laughing while saying that). They turned out good, but more like a peanut butter cookie with a after taste of carob. In fact.......I just went and got one to eat right now. mmmmmmm(:

Peanut Butter Balls with Hint of Carob
made about 22 1in. balls

2/3 Cups pumpkin seeds or pepitas
1/4 Cup oats
2/3 Cups peanut butter
2 Tbsp liquid sweetener of choice(like raw honey, 100% maple syrup, etc.)
2 Tbsp + 1 tsp carob powder
1/2 Cup raisins*

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until combined.

Then form them into balls or shape them into a mold and put in fridge for at least half an hour so they set.

* for the raisins pack them down in a cup if they're loosely packed then measure about 2/3 cup. I recommend putting the raisins first in the food processor unless you want chunks of raisins.

Up Close Shot

I think this recipe needs a bit tweaking(swap with almond butter and more carob or carob chips?), but for my first try they weren't terrible. I can't wait to have fun experimenting with these though. I'll definitely be venturing of from different flavors besides carob and peanut butter too.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Diva's Cupcake & Coffee

     The other day I had the pleasure of going out to lunch with my dad. I wanted to try some place new to eat. So he suggested we go to a place called Diva's that I've said I have wanted to try. Diva's wasn't far from his work so to Diva's we went. 
Diva's is a popular place most popular for their cupcakes(or so they say). There's a vegan and a gluten free(not vegan though) cupcake daily which I think Diva's gets a bonus for. They also have soups, sandwiches, coffee and other sweet pastries. Diva's has been open since fall of 2008 by Gordon Wilkins.

   I didn't take pictures of my lunch, but I got the Veggie Hummus Wrap without the avocado and a side salad. The salad has a nice dressing which i'm guessing was balsamic and little olive oil. My wrap was loaded with veggies such as carrots, mixed greens, beets, cucumbers, plus more and gouda cheese. It came with a balsamic dipping sauce too! I loved my lunch and would order this again. Lucky me I still had the other half left to eat for lunch the next day. My dad ordered a side of chips and Ham & Brie Panini on White that included avocado, cucumbers, spinach & homemade apple butter. He figured this would hurt his bladder less(side note: I will most likely do a post soon so you can understand his bladder disease better). He said he liked it and that having warm cucumbers was a weird touch. He did complain about that the chips were to salty though. I will definitely go back to Diva's for the food.
   I've heard mostly bad reviews about the cupcakes at Diva's. I've heard my cousin complain that the cupcakes frosting have no taste. I've heard reviews at Urban Spoon saying they are dry. My dad got the vanilla bean cupcake(I didn't get a picture). I stuck my finger in the frosting to taste it and it tasted like pure sugar! Blech. The frosting does have this interesting smooth silky soft texture. I did try a bite with the cake and the frosting together. Somehow the cake made the frosting taste plain and not so sweet. It still wasn't any good though. 

I don't know why, but I still got the vegan cupcake of the day which happened to be chocolate coconut topped with toasted coconut to go. It came in a perfect cupcake to go with a nice dome top. Well I was hoping it would be different and better. Sadly it wasn't. Starting off with the frosting it was overly sweet I had to scrape most of it off besides a thin layer. Before scraping off the frosting I got chunks of coconut oil(i'm guessing) in it. Two words NOT PLEASANT! Now want to hear about the cake? I liked it first bite, it was nice and moist and had a lovely deep chocolate flavor...then it crumbled apart. Let's say i'm glad I didn't eat this there because I made a mess. 
I hope no one gets their first vegan cupcake their because they might get the idea that vegan cupcakes suck which is not true.

I do not recommend getting the cupcakes at Diva's at all either vegan or non-vegan. I wish they could be better because they decorate them perfectly and so cute. Don't let the cupcakes stop you from going to Diva's though because the food really is nice, but just look at the cupcake case and admire their decorations just not their taste.

Diva's Cupcakes & Coffee
1560 E 3300 S
Salt Lake City, UT 84106

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Baked Flax Meal Sweet Potato Fries

      I know during sometime of mofo I mentioned how much I love sweet potato. I literally eat Sweet Potatoes 5 out of 7 days a week. It's kind of crazy how I never get sick of them. I usually eat them in the form of baked sweet potato fries because that's usually healthy, easiest and fastest. I've seen some recipes for baked "fries" of people coating them in nut butters or potato starch. So I got the idea to coat them in flax meal. You'd get that nice nutty-ness and also a crunch.

(I have terrible lighting in my kitchen at night so the pictures more orange then it should be. Also forgot to take a picture after the fries were baked I'll add one later most likely)

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Flax Meal

 1 large sweet potato
1/4 cup flax meal
coconut oil(other oils will do I just prefer coconut), enough to coat pan and fries

Preheat oven to 415 degrees. 

Cut your sweet potato into fry like shapes. Then throw the sweet potato in a bowl and coat with oil. Pour your flax meal onto the fries making sure they are coated evenly. Oil your pan then toss the fries onto the pan.

Bake for 10-15 minutes on one side. Then flip the fries and bake for 8-12 minutes on the other or until they're done.

I love the flax meal on these fries I think it brings out a sweetness and gives a nice crunch. I like to either eat these plain or with some mustard. If your a sweet potato and ketchup person then go ahead and just don't look at me giving you a odd look because ketchup is just weird on sweet potato(in my opinion). 

Now go enjoy some healthy baked sweet potato fries!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Vegan Cheesecake Review!

       The second to last time I went to Whole Foods I was going to get some of my favorite bread when I walked past the little dessert case. I was quite shocked to find this from Candle Cafe!
        Sometimes I'll look at that little case just to see what they have. I'm not normally a huge sweets person. Recently I have been though...which I need to stop. Any who I figured I haven't had any cheesecake in a while and certainly not a vegan cheesecake so I put this baby in the basket. They also had a chocolate mouse tart which looked yummy, but my dad can't have chocolate and I didn't want to eat the whole thing so we stuck with the vanilla cheesecake.
      I've heard of Candle Cafe before and would love to go if I find myself in New York. For those of you that don't know about Candle Cafe it's an all vegan cafe in New York, New York. Candle Cafe has been serving Vegan food since 1994. They also strive to use the freshest and organic produce when possible. Candle Cafe was so popular that the owners opened Candle 79 a few block away from Candle Cafe. If you've been to Candle Cafe or Candle 79 and liked the food you can make it at home with the Candle Cafe Cookbook. Even if you haven't been to either restaurants you can still get the cookbook to cook some yummy vegan food. 
(close up of the vanilla cheesecake, can you see those vanilla bean specks? yum!)

     Now onto the review. This was good. I wouldn't call it world changing good, but good. You can easily taste the vanilla. It wasn't overpoweringly sweet which I loved. The only thing I didn't like about this was the texture. It was really light and fluffy. I like my cheesecake more dense. My dad didn't say what he thought about it besides that it was good. I'd give this a 2 and 1/2 stars out of 4 though.
     If you ever happen to come across this I would say buy it if you like a more lighter cheesecake or vanilla dessert. That is if the price is good because I can't remember how much I(I should say my dad) bought for it.

Maybe next time i'll try the chocolate mouse tart if they still have it. Chocolate is more my thing anyways.

Have you tried Candle Cafe or Candle 79 if so what'd you get and did you like it? Do you have the cookbook or is it on your wishlist?

I know the cookbook is on my wishlist, but what vegan cookbook isn't?