Saturday, November 22, 2014

Raw Lemon-Ginger Super Cookie Balls

Charlotte and I made some raw sugar cookies a few days ago following Gena's recipe from, and they were pretty awesome.  But, since we ate them all, we were in need of something sweet again.  I had just finished making a carrot, orange, ginger juice, and felt like more ginger was called for.  Charlotte happened to be chewing on a little piece of ginger at the time, so I knew she was in agreement.  We looked around the kitchen to see what else we had on-hand, and this is what we came up with:

Raw Lemon-Ginger Super Cookie Balls

10 medjool dates
8 tbsp almond flour
6 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
4 tbsp hemp seeds
2 tbsp lemon juice
1" fresh ginger, grated
Pinch of sea salt

Place the dates in a food processor and pulse until they are well chopped, starting to form a ball.  Next, add all the other ingredients, EXCEPT 2 tablespoons of the shredded coconut.  You'll use it as the outer coating of the finished cookies. Pulse the cookie mixture until it's well blended and sticking together.  Once your cookie mixture is ready, measure tablespoon scoops of "dough" and roll into balls.  Lastly, drop the cookies into the reserved coconut and coat them.  Then, try to resist eating them all at once.  It's tough, I tell ya!  Enjoy! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Vegan Vacation, Part Three: Asbury Park, NJ

I've been slacking on my posts in the past couple of weeks, I know.  Life has just been so darn busy, and with the change of seasons coming quickly (it's 73 today, but promises of temps in the low 40's are set for Friday, ick.), I've been trying to fit in as much outdoor time as possible.  So, bare with me as I try to find balance and bring you some fresh content.

When we last spoke, I'd been all over lower Manhattan and had some crazy-good vegan fare.  Today, we travel southeast to Asbury Park, NJ.  This is, supposedly, one of the nicest beaches in the area, and I'd have to say that, from what I saw, it's understandable.  The official close of the season had already happened when we were there, so a lot of businesses were shut down, but we were able to dip our toes in the (very cold) Atlantic Ocean and snag some seashells.  

I should note that the last two times we took Charlotte to the beach, she was terrified of the noisy water and cried if we got within thirty feet of it.  The sand, however, was her jam.  She even tried to study it closely by ingesting it at one point, obviously while Daddy was in charge.

On this trip, I wasn't sure what to expect of her.  After all, it was almost a year since our Miami adventure, and she's now a big fan of garden hoses and daily showers.  Well, I can report that she was a big fan... To the point that I was a bit nervous seeing just how comfortable she was with the "big pool".  I'm convinced she'd have jumped right in if I'd let her.  It was far too chilly for that, though, so we just swung her feet and let her touch the water.  Her squeals of joy were adorable, if I do say so myself.  

Some things never change. 

This beach, let me just tell ya, was pristine.  I'm not sure what it's like during peak season, but on our trip, it was extremely clean.  The sand was littered only with seashells, and the sidewalks were devoid of trash.  There is some of the prettiest architecture on the drive in and along ocean avenue, as well.  Color me impressed.  I've only ever seen southern beaches, and Santa Monica on one short excursion, so I wasn't sure what to expect.  I was pleasantly surprised.  

We walked the boardwalk and let the girls play in the sand for a while, then made sure to take lots of pictures.  I couldn't believe how many in-tact shells we found, which was a lot of fun to show Charlotte.  We stuffed a few into her diaper bag and headed off to find some lunch.  

True "stinker" face, if ever there was one.

I pulled up my Happy Cow app, and found a few very vegan-friendly places, but they'd all closed for the season the previous weekend.  Bummer! Mom, however, found a place just a short walk from where we had parked called "Cubacan".  It was (obviously) a Cuban restaurant, so I figured I could find something tasty on their menu.  It was a bit early for dinner, and we almost had the place to ourselves.  Let me tell ya, the decor is amazing!  (And I didn't even think to get a picture, damnit.) It reminded me of our previously mentioned trip to Miami.  I just adore art-deco style, and this place made me happy as soon as I walked in.  Geometric patterns mixed with curved lines, black & white with bursts of bright green, and the bathroom was all red and black... Gorgeous.  We were seated at a table midway through the restaurant where we could still see the beach, and were promptly attended to.  Our server was very friendly.  I glanced over the menu and noticed that most items contained animal products, but I asked him to suggest something for a vegan.  He said their house salad was fantastic, which I had no doubt about.  Most house salads are just plain iceberg lettuce with limp cucumbers, flavorless tomatoes, croutons, and a big red onion ring resting on top.  This salad, though, was listed as baby greens, tomato, red onion, cucumber, and green olives with citrus vinaigrette.  If they go out of their way to add olives, I'm in.  They listed black beans as a side, so I asked if they were vegan, but after checking with the kitchen, he informed me they were cooked in chicken broth.  Poo.  So, I looked again and saw "garlic string beans", which he said WERE vegan, being lightly sautéed in olive oil.  Right on!  Not a big meal, but enough to hold off the hunger for a while.  My brother ordered some gigantic sandwich loaded with all kinds of not-vegan-friendly stuff, and my mom had something with chicken, I think.  Who cares, really?  We are all about the plant-based finds in this series.  

Anyway, the food arrived and was beautiful, as expected.  I always wish salads were bigger when I eat out, but that's just not the world we live in.  Maybe some day.  The green beans were bathed in garlic, and I ate them with my fingers.  No shame!  The salad dressing was so delicious.  It wasn't overpowering, but just added a lovely flavor to the lettuce and fixins.  I truly enjoyed every bite.  It would've been nice to try a vegan restaurant, but this is what we call "making it work".  I can't complain.  The service was impeccable, and the food was great.  

Get these!  You will not regret it.  Holy coconut, Batman!  So delicious!

After lunch, we decided to head back, but not before stopping at a local health food store, Dean's Natural Food Market. I can't pass a health food store or a juice bar.  Ha!  This place is like a mini Whole Foods, with aisles lined with organic fare and fresh produce... Also known as "heaven" to me.  The girls were asleep, so mom stayed in the car while Matt and I explored.  I found a huge tray of mixed sprouts for salads, some coconut chips, AGED VEGAN CHEESE(!), and crackers for Charlotte.  We also discovered that my brother has his own line of apple juice.  Wink wink. 

It was such a cute little store, clean and brightly lit.  They even had a fresh salad bar and hot food offerings.  If you're ever in the area, check it out.  It was quite the lovely little find.  

Too much beach fun for this kid. 

I discovered while there, that my fellow blogger friend NaturallyLauren, is from that area.  If you haven't checked out her blog yet, do yourself a favor.  It's full of beautiful pictures and gorgeous food.  She's has quite the health story to tell, too.  Oh, and in my next post, you'll meet her.  We were able to meet in person on my trip, and she was just as lovely as I thought she would be.  It's so wonderful to meet online friends in person, especially those who share your love of all things healthy and happy.  It is such a blessing to find our kindred spirits.  I'm loving life! 

P.S. When we got home, I made a big salad and roasted veggies which looked like this: 

Roasted beets and potatoes, with sautéed beet greens and cannellini beans.  Delish!  And we went to bed happy, with full bellies.  :-)