7/24/2016

Big news (for everyone).

Yum

Extra, extra: ice cream is vegan now.

I have some really exciting news.

I’m going to make vegan ice cream.


But before I tell you about that, let me tell you how I got here.



I really love cooking. Like, a lot. (Can you tell?) So much so that when I decided to go vegetarian a little more than seven years ago, my love for cooking kind of took on an entirely new meaning. Not only was I doing something that I enjoyed, but I was learning how to reconnect with food. I was rediscovering the delicious variety out there and and re-appreciating the healing power of plants. Suddenly I was participating in a revival of food and community that was reemerging in kitchens across the country. Real food mattered again. What we put on our plates was important, was a thing worth thinking about beyond the present moment. And it was really, really good.

I’m going to say I got pretty good at this, because a girl should be proud of how far she’s come, right? I started my own food blog (welcome!). I made space for real meals. I learned how to marvel at simple beauty. Can you blame me?

And because this love of mine was so immediate and unparalleled, a big part of me tried to force it into a box labeled “calling” or “career.” But I don’t really like either of those words. I didn’t then, either. The first one feels funny because I think calling is something that should be bigger than your means to a paycheck. And I also think it’s something that morphs and changes over time. If we’re always growing, shouldn’t our purpose grow with us? And career: blech. Not only is that term becoming more and more obsolete to my generation, it’s never something I imagined for myself. I couldn’t wear a blazer or sit in a cubicle if you paid me a million dollars a minute. (I know that career can mean more than that, but trust me, that’s what you were thinking, too.)



But I didn’t know how to turn my love of food into a career even if I wanted one. I didn’t really want to go to culinary school. Not because I didn’t think I had anything left to learn, but because I was already having too much fun. (I also had a high aversion to learning how to cook certain things, but that’s a given). I was (and still am) learning so much from cookbooks and YouTube videos and other great blogs. I couldn’t see myself in the stressful, high-pressure, long-hourness of the restaurant world. I didn’t want to live in New York or Paris (weeeell) where all the best restaurants thrive.

I also didn’t want to dampen my affection for the kitchen by trying to transform this passion into something I relied on for money. And what’s hidden in that statement, I know now, is fear: I was afraid. Afraid to lose something about myself that I really, really liked. Afraid that the need to pay rent would obliterate my fascination with the perfect grill mark or the beauty of a vegan scone right out of the oven. And instead of immediately admitting to my realization, I took this fear and I reformed it as inevitable truth. Surely there was no other possibility than everything falling apart, right? Right. It wasn’t meant to be my whole world. Just a tiny piece of it, one that I kept closed off just for myself.

So I just kept cooking. I just kept loving it. I kept working for a company I admired and believed in. I baked a bunch of treats and distributed them to friends and coworkers. I tried new foods and attempted to decipher ingredients at favorite restaurants. I picked fresh strawberries and turned them into jam. Every now and then I would have a nagging thought that I was ignoring something bigger, that I was letting an important question about myself go unanswered. I usually responded to that question by baking four dozen cookies, tamping down my urge to find the answer with flour and sugar and cinnamon.



It turns out, if you don’t go looking for the answer, eventually the answer finds you. I completely believe this as every large life phase/change I’ve entered so far, good or bad, has started in this way. In a screeching halt, sit up in the middle of the night, of-course-that’s-it kind of way. And I won’t delve into every small fragment that led up this whole picture moment, but it felt so undoubtedly correct that it immediately erased my fear (which shows up for an encore later, but, it’s cool, we’ll figure it out):

I was going to make vegan ice cream. Wait, no, no: I was going to have a vegan ice cream truck (er, Vespa). I was going to make vegan ice cream so good that everyone would want it. I was going to respond to the lactose intolerant or the dairy averse and say I GOT YOU, GIRL but I was also going to convince the carnivores and the whole dairy drinkers of the magic of coconut milk, a little sugar and a lot of love.



There are some snags that currently leave me truck-less and while I work on un-snagging that part of the situation I am also exploring other options like scooters or bikes or trikes (Vespas with a side of Vespa) or all of the above. So it might be a vegan ice cream something for a little while, but one thing is for sure: it’s going to be a something.

This is a huge thing! Even two or three years ago, I was nowhere near this moment. I was in my tiny kitchen in New Jersey, burying my love of food under a pile of ramp pesto and lemon zest. And the thing about burying is that it works, at least for a little while. But when I let myself stop ignoring the unknown and just started waiting, started listening, started looking out into the universe and saying, Well? Okay. I’ll be open to it, something happened. And I don’t think good ideas are bestowed upon us and we then have the cool and uncomplicated opportunity to make them into something real. Maybe it happens that way sometimes and maybe my earlier description of my personal epiphany moment makes it seems like that’s what happened to me. But I believe it was much bigger than that. And that belief helps me all the time, especially when I feel like I’m being blocked or I’ve uncovered yet another new legislative problem or when moving forward feels impossible because everything and everyone is getting in my way. That belief reminds me that I can do this.

Vegan ice cream is coming, people (of the Boulder/Denver metro area. And soon the world). It’s coming because I’m so, so excited to make this dream into a real, tangible four (or three) wheeled being. And I can’t wait to bring it to you.

Hey, girl.

As I kick off this new endeavor, here’s some stuff you may need/want to know:

Where does Best One Yet come from?
I’m so glad you asked! When I first started making vegan ice cream about three years ago, I got into it. Really into it. Clearly. And every time I would master a new flavor, Colin would declare it the “best one yet.” It’s cute, it stuck and here we are.

Are you leaving your job at Holstee?
Nope! Not now, anyway. While I do hope that Best One Yet has success and will eventually lead me to professionally part ways, that’s not happening just yet. I do have to say, and will probably say so again throughout this transitional time, Holstee has been a big piece of what got me here. I appreciate what they stand for as a brand and as individuals and I stand with them in their belief that life is meant to be owned, crafted and sought after. I truly can’t say how long it would have taken me to get here had I not first met this group of warm, real, wonderful people. They’ve been nothing but supportive and enthusiastic about my urge to drive an old FedEx truck and wear a paper hat. For that I feel very lucky. (Thank you.)



What about green girl eats?
Still green, still eating. I will probably be taking a temporary hiatus in order to focus on building the business, but this blog is also a huge piece of what got me here. I'll continue to post from time to time and when I'm able. Every girl's gotta eat, right?

Why vegan?
Because. Just kidding. But seriously, why not? Vegan ice cream is something that can be enjoyed by all. The jury is continually out on dairy and I know I personally feel worlds better when I skip it. I’m not here to tell anyone how to live or what foods to avoid. Instead, my goal is simple: to give you a coconut based ice cream (with no weird stuff) that is so good, you won’t know/care what you’re missing. It should be amazing first and vegan second. It’s ice cream for everyone.

Who made your badass branding?

The awesome dudes at Good Apples in Boulder, CO. I couldn’t be happier with the work they did. If you’re looking, I’m recommending: they’re great!

Will you name a flavor after me?
Yes.

When, when, when?
Soon, soon, soon, I promise.

For updates (and updated answers to questions like “When?”), sign up for my newsletter here. It won’t be spammy but informative with necessary puns like “Here’s the scoop.” You love it. Don’t leave.

Other places to find updates (and to friend & follow!), find me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

See you out there!

-H

5/09/2016

vegan rhubarb apple coffee cake

Yum

Rhubarb is kind of a mystery to me. I'd really like to know how it got stuck in the strictly sweet application. Not that I'm complaining, but is that weird to anyone else? I've pretty much never seen it served in anything other than a dessert. Still, I'm sure whoever came up with this system had a pretty good reason. I mean, I have followed my curiosity long enough to try a raw piece of rhubarb and it doesn't exactly taste, well, good.

So whoever came to the realization that with a little time in the oven and some added sugar, rhubarb really turns into something special, into something that makes me look forward to its brief appearance in spring, its bright red stalks unmistakable on the farmers' market tables: thanks. You can have a little credit for how great this coffee cake turned out (but just a little).


Pies, sure, jams and even parfaits (had one last night, in fact), but what about a rhubarb coffee cake, I asked myself. Turns out, I wasn't the only one. But even if every good idea already exists, it doesn't mean it can't improved upon, right? And there's always more room for such improvements in the vegan baking spectrum.

This cake is perfect for a weekend treat. I decided to try it out on a pretty dreary Saturday morning and the bright notes in the green apple and red rhubarb immediately perked me up. That and the coffee, anyway.


For this recipe, you'll need:

For the cake:

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon flaxseed meal + 2 tablespoons water, well mixed
1 1/2 cups rhubarb, thinly sliced**
1/2 cup apple, peeled and diced***

For the crumb topping:

1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegan butter, cold

**What I found worked best was to slice each rhubarb stem length-wise and then thinly slice from there. But do what you want! If you want bigger chunks, that will be great, too.
***I went with Granny Smith, a classic baking apple. But use what you have! It's all good.


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. In a measuring cup, combine your almond milk and vinegar. Whisk vigorously and set aside to curdle. In a small pinch bowl, mix together your flaxseed meal and water and allow to set, about 3 minutes.

In a separate smaller bowl, mix together your coconut oil, vanilla and sugar. Gradually add in your almond milk mixture and stir well. Finally, add your flax egg and whisk once more.


Fold your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients. Next, fold in your sliced fruit (rhubarb is a fruit, right?**) until evenly dispersed, about 10 solid folds. Transfer to a 8 or 9-inch square pan, lightly greased (you can use coconut oil for this as well, but any nonstick spray will do).

Quickly add all your crumb topping ingredients to a small bowl and break up/mash together with a fork. You may have to get hands on for any bigger vegan butter chunks, but no complaints here. When you've broken everything down into bite-sized crumbs (think no bigger than a dime), evenly sprinkle the crumb topping on your cake.

**Nope.


Transfer to your oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until 1. the top is golden, 2. the crumbs are golden, 3. the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan or 4. a toothpick comes out clean. All the above is your best case scenario and most likely what will turn out to to be the perfect coffee cake.

If you can stand it, allow to cool (in the pan) for about 5-10 minutes when it comes out of the oven. This just makes it a tad easier to cut so you don't miss all those rhubarb and apple pieces when it comes to scooping it out of the pan. If you can't wait, I understand. We all do.


How else can you get more rhubarb in your life?
**Even better, you can also make your own! 




5/02/2016

vegan snickers bars

Yum

There are certain foods that I just stopped eating one day. It was a combination of discovering information about "food" that I couldn't unlearn, ingredients lists that rivaled novels and a general understanding of myself that took some serious, conscious efforts in paying attention to how I felt. Turns out, food doesn't have to make you feel terrible. You don't have to always have indigestion or feel tired or suffer sugar breakouts.**

**More on this some other time, but if you're intrigued, start here.

So despite certain foods automatically falling off my normal rotation because I suddenly realized I was basically eating chemicals and preservatives and dyes and making my life unnecessarily harder and it wasn't even worth it (come on, guys, it's not worth it), it can be difficult to deny when those cravings roll around. My hankering for a Snickers bar usually begins somewhere on October 31st when everything comes in cute (but still bad!) bite sized packaging and ends, oh, never.


So what to do? You want a Snickers (or whatever your candy bar vice happens to be) but you can't eat a Snickers. Or can you? Can you make your own version with about ten million less ingredients (try ten, period, one of them being water) and still be just as satisfied?

I admit, I was skeptical. As much as I try to limit my dairy intake, I thought there was no chance a bunch of puréed dates would pass for caramel. Well, I've reformed. And I'm sorry (there's a first time for everything) I doubted. In just a few simple steps, Snickers cravings, be gone.


For this recipe, you'll need:

For the base layer

65 grams pure maple syrup
240 grams almond butter (smooth is probably best here, but who's to say?)
8-10 tablespoons almond flour
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the caramel

180 grams pitted dates
90 grams almond butter
4-7 tablespoons warm water
4 tablespoons coconut oil

For the rest

1/2 cup peanuts, unsalted
400 grams dairy-free dark chocolate**

**Check your labels! I'm sure you are, but seriously, you'd be surprised how many dark chocolate varieties contain dairy. I've always liked working with this brand. Zero percent chance of dairy (or other common allergens)!



Begin by forming your base. In a medium bowl, mix together your maple syrup and almond butter. Add your salt and vanilla and stir to combine. Add your almond meal one tablespoon at a time until you achieve the correct consistency. What you're looking for is something akin to slightly thicker cake batter. Once you're there, line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer your mixture to the pan and spread in an even-ish layer about one inch thick. Transfer to the freezer to firm up (at least fifteen minutes).


Meanwhile, you can get started on your caramel. Though, if you're anything like me, don't get started on it too early or you may find yourself eating too much of it before it's time to assemble the bars. In the bowl of a food processor (or blender), add your dates, almond butter and coconut oil. Pulse together, about ten to twenty times. Next, add your water one tablespoon at a time until your mixture smooths out but remains thick.

Once your base has set, cut into even bars. How you do this is totally up to you. You can go with the traditional candy bar shape, squares, uneven and oblong blobs like I did. There are no rules, really. Once the base pieces are cut and you can live with the shape they are in, press a good amount (you'll just have to eyeball this one based on the shape of your bars) of peanuts onto the top of each bar. I pushed them down but not fully infused into the base. I figured this would help keep the tops slightly level which would help with the chocolate covering. Again, no rules.

Next, add a nice, thick layer of caramel to each bar. This part is fun. I felt like vegan Willy Wonka, with a lot less purple in my life. Also access to a chocolate river would have made coating these bars a whole lot easier.


Transfer your sheet pan back into the freezer for another fifteen minutes, minimum. The longer you can let them freeze, the easier the final step will be. But I waited fifteen minutes to the dot and I understand if you choose to do the same.

While you're waiting, you can get started on melting down your chocolate. There is, of course, the trusted double boiler method that will never let you down. There is also the 15-20 second increments in the microwave with a quick stir in between. This method has never failed me, either. To each their own (don't tell Martha and/or anyone else who would inevitably frown on this microwave method of mine).


When the chocolate is melted and the bars are frozen, quickly dip/coat each one in a layer of chocolate. After each bar is coated, transfer back to your parchment lined pan (you may need a new piece of paper; if so, flip it over: done!) and then back into the freezer for their final setting.

These will be ready in about 30 minutes and best in about an hour. I feel like if you make it the full hour you should go ahead and have two. Also, in my opinion, they seem to store best in the freezer. In the fridge or on the countertop, you risk that weird condensation on the chocolate that sort of kills my candy-eating vibe. Plus they don't ever fully harden, so what you end up with is a super nice, cold candy bar that won't break your teeth. Isn't that what every girl wants?



More candy? I thought you'd never ask:
This recipe inspired by the geniuses at The Happy Pear: thanks, guys!





4/25/2016

simple vegan white bean chili

Yum

Chili is usually a dead-of-winter kind of meal. Something that stews and simmers over a low heat for an hour or more. Which is probably not something you want to do once the temperature starts to spike, though I have gone on a number of baking sprees in mid-July. The heart wants what it wants.

Something I'm adjusting to in Colorado's version of spring are the super warm days (hello, sun!) that cool down to sometimes half (or more) of what the high was. Did that make sense? So when it comes time to think about dinner, a bowlful of a super simple chili could be just the ticket. Pair it with some fresh, warm vegan cornbread and you'll find me at the table.


For this recipe, you'll need:

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon all-purpose seasoning**
1 15-ounce can navy beans, rinsed (or whatever your favorite is)
1/4-1/2 cup vegetable stock
Salt & pepper
Olive oil
1 avocado, optional

**This one is my favorite lately. It's not just for pizza anymore!


Start by heating a good bit of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook your onions until they start to wilt down, about five minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add your garlic, and cook for one minute more. At this time, you might start to notice your onions and garlic sticking a bit, so you can use some of your stock to loosen them up. Add a few tablespoons to scrape the bottom of the pot.

Add your carrot and pepper and the rest of your vegetable stock. Allow this to simmer gently for a few minutes or until your added vegetables begin to soften (5-ish minutes a good timeframe).


At this time, add in your seasoning and more salt and pepper. Add your canned tomatoes, stir well. Stir in your beans, well rinsed, and reduce the heat to low. Allow to simmer for about thirty minutes, until heated through and slightly thickened. Serve with sliced avocado on top (a great alternative to cheese!) and cornbread on the side.***

How easy was that?

***Um, it kind of blows my mind that I don't have a vegan cornbread recipe up. I've made one about a million-trillion times but just realized I never shared it. Ball dropped! I'll get on that soon, but in the meantime, here's a good one.


Some other simple uses for (white) beans:




4/18/2016

vegan baklava sticky buns

Yum

One of my favorite things on earth is baklava. No, not just one of my favorite desserts and yes, all of earth. The whole thing. I love everything about it from the flaky, crispy dough to the honey-rosewater-pistachio layers. Sadly, this perfect trifecta an underused combo outside of traditional Mediterranean dessert world. Why? I can't see any reason why these ingredients wouldn't translate well to a cake, pie, or even a bowl of morning oatmeal. Which got me thinking: how can I get away with having baklava for breakfast?

Aside from just digging into a super sweet piece before 9AM (not above it), I tried to translate these familiar flavors into a more traditional breakfast pastry: the sticky bun. Even though there might not be much more nutritional virtue in one of these rolls than just going for the dessert, they signify something special, an exciting day ahead (maybe first started by a sugar-induced nap). Bake them up for special occasions, holidays and family gatherings, or as the perfect way to wake up. Who can say no to the smell of toasting pistachios?


For this recipe you'll need:

For the dough

1 cup unsweetened almond milk (any non-dairy variety will do)
3 tablespoons vegan butter
1 packet rapid rise yeast
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2-3 cups of all purpose flour

For the filling

1/2 cup vegan butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Bee Free Honee**
1/4 cup pistachios, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon rosewater (optional)

For the glaze 

1/2 cup vegan butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pistachios, chopped
Splash of rosewater (still optional)

**If you can't find this or don't want to use it, substitute for another 1/4 cup brown sugar. If you aren't worried about keeping it vegan, you can also use real honey for the most authentic baklava flavor.


In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, heat the almond milk and 3 tablespoons vegan butter until warm and melted but not boiling. Remove from heat and let cool to 110 degrees - if it's too hot, it will kill the yeast which will result in flat sticky buns - bummer.

Transfer mixture to the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sprinkle in your yeast and allow to activate for 10 minutes. It should start to look foamy and bubbly. Next, add your tablespoon of sugar and the salt and whisk together.


Switch to the dough hook attachment and begin to add in flour 1/2 cup increments, stirring as you go. When the dough comes together and is too thick to stir, transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or so until it forms a loose ball, adding more flour as you go. Coat a large bowl lightly with oil (grapeseed or olive will do) and place your dough in the center of the bowl. Roll around to coat all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.


While you wait, prepare your pan (a 9-inch square or round will do). Whisk together your melted vegan butter and brown sugar (and rosewater, if using) until smooth. Spread across the bottom of the pan and sprinkle the chopped pistachios in an even layer. Set aside.

Once the dough has just about doubled in size, on a lightly floured surface, roll it out into a rectangle that's about 1/8 inch thick. Brush with 1/4 cup melted vegan butter and top with brown sugar and Bee Free Honee (or all brown sugar). Sprinkle with cinnamon and rosewater (again, if using). Top with remaining pistachios and roll up your dough, starting with the shorter side.  


Using a serrated knife (trust me here), cut into 1 1/2 to 2 inch rolls. Place in your prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and set on top of the oven to let it briefly rise again while you preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until slightly golden. Cool for about 5 minutes before inverting the pan and serve immediately.

Hi, I heard you were looking for some other vegan breakfast options: