Vegan Shamrock(ish) Shake

Confession: I am a sucker for a limited time offer. (or LTO as they’re called in this Time Magazine article ).

I am their target audience. To me, fall means Pumpkin Spice lattes. Christmas isn’t Christmas without a McRib and Egg Nog Milkshake. And in early Spring, I have to have a Shamrock Shake.

I like to think its because I don’t visit Starbucks and McDonalds every day that these Seasonal items find themselves on my calendar. I’ve just named the two times a year I eat at McDs. So, when I do go its for something “special”. Or maybe it’s just because THEY ARE DELICIOUS. Whatever the reason, it happens.

But this year, I gave into my Shamrock Shake craving too early in the season. My husband had gone off skiing in France for a week with some friends leaving me at home alone with the baby. I love my little girl. But, around day 4 I lost it. We’re lucky that a Shamrock Shake was the worst casualty. So anyways, I found myself needing another hit a few weeks later. Since one shake is my annual limit, I thought I’d experiment with a healthy vegan version. And it turned out pretty great. It’ll never match a true Shamrock Shake in a blind taste test. But, its delicious in spite of lacking the McDonalds sickly sweet syrup (or because of it).



Vegan Shamrock(ish) Shake
Serves 2 (or one person who is very hungry after running with a baby jogger)
2 frozen bananas (peeled and chunked)
1 big handful of spinach
1 small handful of mint leaves

2 cups almond milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1 can full fat coconut milk (chilled in the fridge for at least 4 hours before using)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Maraschino cherries

Open the can of coconut milk and scoop the thick cream from the sides into a bowl. Discard the watery milk or save for another purpose. Add the 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. Whip on high for several minutes or until stiff peaks form.

Blend together the frozen bananas through the 1/4 tsp vanilla extract until desired consistency 1-2 minutes.

Pour into glasses. Top with coconut whipped cream and cherries.

And check out my pal’s blog for more delicious & healthy St Patricks day fare.
The Culinary Enthusiast

And…. Six Months!


2012 in review

Well, 2012 was a banner year!  My husband and I welcomed our sweet daughter Penelope (Poppy) into the world in September.


And I fell off the healthy eating band-wagon and into a wormhole of: morning sickness, cravings, breastfeeding hunger and just plain not taking time to eat healthy. (free time… I remember free time).

But, now that 2013 is just around the corner, and life is settling into a new normal I’m resolving to again eat a healthy diet.  Not just for my sake but for my daughter’s.  Other resolutions for 2013:

  • Run a marathon
  • Blog at least once a month

Will you help me meet these goals?

And this list is always fun….

Where I slept in 2012

  • Jersey City, NJ
  • Winter Park, CO
  • Isle of Palms, SC
  • Orlando, FL
  • Key West, FL
  • Chicago, IL
  • Alexandria, VA
  • New York, NY
  • Woodstock, NY
  • Cornelius, NC

Not too shabby for being pregnant or breastfeeding all year.

Here’s to a great 2013!!!

Caramel Macadamia Nut Rice Krispie Treats

Well these are decidedly NOT vegan and definitely NOT healthy.  But, they are oh so delicious and the husband was craving some Rice Krispie treats.  He so rarely asks for anything specific that I feel when he does, the request should be honored.

That’s a little bit of a lie.  He actually asked for “Rice Krispie treats with m&ms” and I thought…. “hm, can I make those a little fancier?”. The answer is yes, yes I can.  And I can include Macadamia nuts because, let’s face it, they’re the most delicious little things on earth.  Crunchy, tropical, buttery.  Yum!  So, I scoured the internet and found this Todd English gem for fancy Rice Krispie treats.  And maybe this time Iain didn’t ask for these specifically, but judging by how many he ate, I think next time he will.

Recipe from Epicurious

Caramel Macadamia Nut Rice Krispie Treats

  • 4 cups puffed-rice cereal, such as Rice Krispies
  • 1 cup salted, roasted macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped*
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
* I could only find raw Macadmia nuts.  So, these were quickly “roasted” in a frying pan with a little cooking spray and a sprinkle of salt.  Just heat until toasty-brown.

Butter 17- by 12-inch rimmed baking sheet. Line with parchment paper, leaving 1-inch overhang on each end, and butter paper.

In large heatproof steel bowl, toss together cereal and nuts.

In heavy large saucepan over moderate heat, stir together sugar and 6 tablespoons water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves, then raise heat to moderately high and boil without stirring, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush, until syrup turns deep amber in color, about 8 minutes. Carefully stir in cream (mixture may splatter and briefly harden) then stir in butter. Remove from heat and stir in salt and vanilla.

Drizzle caramel over cereal-nut mixture and, using heatproof silicone spatula or wooden spoon, stir until fully incorporated. Spread mixture evenly on prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm and slightly cooled, about 10 minutes, then break into bite-sized pieces.

In small metal bowl set over saucepan of barely simmering water, combine chocolate and oil. Heat, whisking occasionally, until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Drizzle chocolate mixture over Rice Krispie pieces and let stand until chocolate hardens.

Rice Krispies Treats will keep in an airtight container for up to two days.

Recipe Review: Gwyneth’s Brownies

I admit it, I LOVE Gwyneth Paltrow.  It’s a deep love that began my Sophomore year of college when I saw “Sliding Doors” and decided 3 things:

  1. I should cut my hair short.  (Thank you to my college roomie for changing my mind on that one)
  2. I should study abroad in the UK
  3. I LOVE Gwyneth Paltrow

And I truly believe we could be the best of friends.  I mean, we may have chosen different career paths. But, she has an English husband, I have an English husband (thanks to that year abroad).  Think of all the hilarious conversations.

Natalie: Hey Gwyneth, does Chris say that someone is “at hospital” instead of “in the hospital”?

Gwyneth: He does!!

Then we’ll laugh and laugh and then go grab some coffee, or maybe she’ll make me some Vegetable Paella from her book, or we’ll go watch ‘Shakespeare in Love’ in her private cinema or something.  Whatever, we’re relaxed, no agenda, just hanging out.

But seriously, the girl can cook.

I got a copy of My Father’s Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family & Togetherness for my birthday in July and have been slowly and deliciously making my way through it since.   Yesterday, as Hurricane Irene shuffled up to NYC/NJ and we were confined indoors, I found time to make her “Fudgy Chocolate Brownies”, which happen to be vegan.

The verdict.  Delicious moist, chocolate-y brownies.  As Gwyneth says “These are about as healthy as brownies can get, with no flavor sacrifice”.

And I’ll say it a thousand times, the best part of vegan baking, getting to eat the batter!

I made a few substitutions, based on what I had on hand.  (Wouldn’t you know it, I was clean out of spelt flour).  I’m not sure on the copyright laws on publishing her recipe.  But, the below is my adaptation.

Gwyneth’s Fudgy Chocolate Brownies

Adapted From My Father’s Daughter

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup almond meal flour
  • 1 cup high-quality cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • Pinch fine salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Trader Joe’s Chocolate Chips (vegan)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Grease a 9×11 inch baking dish with Vegetable Oil.
  2. Sift the flours, cocoa, baking powder, and salt together in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the 1/2 cup vegetable oil, syrups, coffee, soy milk, and vanilla.
  4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Careful not to overmix.
  5. Pour 1/2 the batter into the baking dish.  Sprinkle with 1/2 the chocolate chips.
  6. Pour the rest of the batter into the baking dish.  Sprinkle with the rest of the chocolate chips.
  7. Bake for 50 minutes.  Until a toothpick or knife has just a little bit of chocolate on it when you test it.
  8. Cool and cut into squares.

Carrot Cake Smoothie

Y’all, this turned out surprisingly well.  Really, really good, actually.  I’m not going to lie and say “it tastes just like Carrot Cake”.  But, for a healthy smoothie, it’s pretty darn good.  I think it’s the little bit of Greek Yogurt that does it.  It just hints of a cream cheese frosting.

Seriously, try it.  I think you’ll be as pleasantly surprised as I was.

Carrot Cake Smoothie

  • 2-3 medium carrots (peeled and chopped)  Is peeled the right word?
  • 1 cup Almond Vanilla milk
  • 1 frozen banana (chopped into 1″ slices)
  • 1 Tbsp Chia seeds or powder
  • 1/4 cup Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  • Dash Cinnamon
  • Handful of ice cubes

  1. Throw all ingredients (but only 1/2 cup of Almond milk) into a blender.
  2. Whirl
  3. Add the rest of the Almond milk until you reach the consistency you want.

Pretty good, right?  A perfect cool treat after a run.

Experiments with Fruit Soft Serve – Take one

Chocolate Chip Banana Soft Serve (vegan)

Well, here’s a delicious treat that you can feel great about.  4 ingredients: bananas, almond milk, vanilla, chocolate.  YUM!

Soft serve fruit is something that’s getting a lot of buzz here in NYC.  Other places too?  Well, why spend $5 and schlep it to one of the stores (which are fabulous for a treat) when you probably have some ripe bananas in your kitchen right this very minute.

This is so delicious and easy that I can tell Banana Soft Serve and I are going to have a great summer together.  I’m already dreaming and drooling over the variations to try: peanut butter, coconut, fresh mint, strawberries…

The only drawback, is cleaning the blasted food processor.  There are so many parts and so many nooks and crannies, it takes FOREVER.  It’s a small price to pay.  But,  I also need to also start dreaming (and drooling?) about ways around the food processor.

Chocolate Chip Banana Soft Serve (vegan)

Here’s the extremely precise recipe: (Serves 1 very hungry pregnant lady)

  • 1 frozen banana (before I freeze bananas, I peel and chop them into 1″ slices)
  • Splash of Almond (or whatever) milk
  • One piece of a block of dark chocolate
  • Drop of vanilla extract

  1. Throw it all into the food processor
  2. Whirl
  3. Add some more milk to get to the consistency that looks “right”
  4. Sit outside and enjoy

The End.

Back from Africa


Well, I’m a bit rusty from blog posts.  Husband and I are just easing back into real life after a fabulous trip to Kenya.

Blog posts will be starting again soon.  Until then, here are some pics from the trip…

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Easy Gameday: Baked tortilla chips and guacamole


Sorry for getting a little excited there.  As I write this, Clemson is beating last year’s Champs Auburn 35-24 and I WISH I was in Death Valley right now.

But, I’m not. I’m in Jersey City.  Had a little scare this morning, searched for the Clemson game on TV and couldn’t find it.  Not on ESPN, not on Fox Sports, not on BTN.  I was in the middle of chastising New York television and telling my husband we need to move to South Carolina asap… when I found it… on ABC!!  Glory be.

Anyways, a snack was then in order since we won’t be leaving the house until the last second on the play clock.

(Notice the Clemson cup in the background.)

Baked Tortilla Chips and homemade Guacamole

Baked Tortillas

  • 7 Corn tortillas
  • 1 Tablespoon Corn Oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • teeny-tiny pinch of Cumin
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray oil on a baking sheet. 
  2. Brush tortillas with oil
  3. Stack tortillas and cut into 8ths 
  4. Lay tortillas on baking sheet.
  5. Bake 15 to 20 minutes rotate baking sheet 1/2 way through cooking.
  6. Remove from oven, place chips in a large bowl and toss with Salt and Cumin.

Homemade Guacamole

Easiest thing ever.

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
  • Few drops of Tabasco
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon salsa
  1. De-pit avocado and lightly mash with a fork in a bowl. 
  2. Add remaining ingredients and mix.
  3. Go Tigers!

Pumpkin Banana Chocolate Chip (mini) Muffins

Thursday morning we were up uber early to watch the USA v Russia Rugby World cup game.  4am, thank you very much.  Rugby is not really my thing.  Now, I’ll watch a game and a day at Twickenham is always fun times. Waking up at 4am to watch a game would never be my idea.  But, when the hubby is up and watching the game, I don’t know, I can’t sleep, I feel like I want to get up and be part of the fun.  (Yes, I know I’m crazy).

Once up, watching the game is, err, a little boring.  And I thought my time would be better spent baking.  So, I give to you Pumpkin Banana Chocolate Chip (mini) muffins.

That’s a lot of name for a mini muffin.  (Oh, and please ignore the melted chocolate on my hand.  Couldn’t be helped).

Lots of wholesome goodness in there and I could have easily called these “Pumpkin Banana Applesauce Chia Chocolate Chip Muffins”.  But, that sounds a bit pretentious.🙂   Lovely, easy and a taste of fall that you can feel good about eating.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (vegan)

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 grates of nutmeg (does that make sense? take some nutmeg and rub it over a grater 4 times)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used almond but any would work)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (+3 T water)
  • 1 tablespoon egg replacer (+3 T water)
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 375.  Grease muffin pan.
  2. In one small bowl add chia seeds and 3T water and let soak, in another small bowl add egg replacer and let soak.
  3. Mix together dry ingredients.
  4. Mix together wet ingredients (banana through egg replacer).  Save the soaked chia and egg replacer for last to give them more time to soak.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, being careful not to overstir.  (Ha ha, i don’t really mean that.  I always see that in recipes and it drives me crazy.  You have common sense, stir until it’s mixed – no big deal)
  6. Add the chocolate chips to the batter.
  7. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.  Bake for 16-ish minutes until a knife or toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool & enjoy with coffee!

Oh, and the USA won.  USA!

Restaurant Review: FreeFoods NYC – Midtown

I headed off for another lunchtime meal in Midtown yesterday.  This time at FreeFoods NYC which I’ve walked by several times and have always been intrigued by the awesome looking juices people walk out of there with.

FreeFoods NYC  – Per their website

“Specializing in Contemporary Organic Cuisine – flavorful, nutritious , and creative foods designed especially for a busy lifestyle”

What it SHOULD say is “flavorful, nutritious, and creative foods designed especially for those with a lot of money“.

You see this…

That little slice of pizza will cost you $6.50.

Yes, it’s healthier than the $1 slices Ray’s (or whoever) is selling right across the street.  But, it definitely explains why this spot was close to empty during the lunch hours in Midtown.  And it explains why my salad and juice (to go) cost me over $20.

I absolutely understand that organic, healthily prepared food is worth more.  But, it’s hard to justify spending $20 a day on lunch.  This place is for a splurge, only.

My lunch was fine.  I went with the macrobiotic cobb salad.  (ate it too fast to get a picture) and a delightful juice.

The 7 Green (kale, spinach, parsley, cucumber, pear, apple & lime).  Well, mine was only a “5 Green” since they were out of pears and substituted my lime for lemon.  But, it still tasted fresh, delicious and healthy.  3 of my favorite things.

I think you can tell.  FreeFoods NYC was fine.  I was just a little put off by the prices.  Not customary for the neighborhood and not worth it, in my opinion.

  • Food – * * * *
  • Service – * * *
  • (The juicer was broken & it took about 15 mins for someone to fix it.  And they didn’t seem to care too much)   
  • Ambiance – * * * *
  •  (Cool, clean & beautiful)      
  • Price Value – *
  • Overall – Underwhelmed

And, nothing to do with FreeFoods NYC but, this was my view as I walked home last night.

This weekend, and anytime I look at the Manhattan skyline, my thoughts are with the victims, families and brave first responders who lost their lives 10 years ago on 9/11.  God Bless.

Labor Day Weekend Fun

Well hello again!

A day off from blogging becomes 2, becomes 3 becomes over a week later.  It’s been a great week, as any national holiday is.  Complete with a trip down South to my roots in the Carolinas.  Tailgating at my alma matter, Clemson (in South Carolina) and then two lovely nights with my parents at a Bed & Breakfast in Asheville, North Carolina.

Enjoy the pics and snipets of the trip and I’ll be back up and running with new recipes soon.

[WARNING: Some gross injury photos included at the very bottom.  Scroll at your own risk.  You have been warned.]

First thing off was starting with a yummy tailgate.  Got a “Bo Box” from Bojangles and it was worth every greasy calorie.  BBQ & Fried Chicken are definitely my ‘treat’ foods.

Sorority Sister reunion

Mom & Dad at the gameThe whole gang


Then, on to Asheville where we stayed at the lovely Abbington Green.

And of course, obligatory food picture.  This one taken from the Early Girl Eatery.  Some of the best Collard Greens I’ve ever had!

Now, as promised, the disgusting injury photos.  Went for a run on Saturday morning and wound up tripping over some uneven pavement and sliding across the ground.  I’m now on day 5 of a break from running and recovering nicely.  Hopefully, this little rest period won’t impact my marathon training too much.

You were warned…