2 Ingredient Chocolate Mousse With Citrus + Lychee

Lychee is one of my favorite southeast Asian fruits, second only to mangosteen. Its pink-white flesh is glossy, delicate and aromatic…the vibrant taste is absolutely unique. Think of a grape, but juicier, with smooth floral, rosy notes and pear undertones. Even comparing it to a grape is slightly insulting, because its freshness and flavor is on an entirely different level.

lychee fruit (1 of 2)

Clearly, lychee is my valentine this year.  Lychee is also considered a lucky fruit in Chinese culture, symbolizing family abundance and harmony, so this dessert would be a fun fusion dish for Lunar New Year gatherings this weekend. Red and golden hues make a lucky color palette. Continue reading

Christmas Superfood Bark

Chocolate bark is one of my favorite things to make for the holidays! In the past, I have often sprinkled crushed candy canes on top of my chocolate bark, but I’ve been wanting to use healthier toppings. I’ve also been inspired by this healthy chocolate base without refined sugars!

I immediately thought of pomegranates and pistachios for toppings–the colors are perfect for Christmas and they go well with chocolate!

Pomegranates are loaded with Vitamin C, can help your body fight cancer, and improve your metabolism! Pistachios are packed with nutrients, fiber and healthy fats, plus they’re rich in cancer-fighting vitamin E.

Not only are these ingredients gorgeous, they are rich in immune-boosting antioxidants, minerals and vitamins! Why would I not want to sprinkle my chocolate with them? Superfoods > crushed candy. 🙂

Christmas Superfood Bark!

The resulting bark was beautiful in both appearance and taste–silky-smooth, rich chocolate, accompanied by refreshing bursts of juicy, tart pomegranate arils, and finally, a nice crunch from the pistachios! I was amazed at the contrast and harmony of it all. Love! Continue reading

A Slice of Joy

Simple cakes are beautiful.

For my sister’s birthday earlier this week, I wanted to make an elegant dessert without any frills or too much frosting. I had my mind set on an indulgent slice of cake with a dollop of whipped cream and freshly sliced fruit–a lovely treat with just the essentials.

Make this: A Slice of Joy

I think it’s beautiful in a relaxed way, perfect for a loved one’s birthday!

Essential Birthday Cake
(makes 4 servings)

Active prep time: 1 hour
Wait time: Overnight

What you’ll need:

  • Some cake // I halved this recipe from Hampton Creek. Just Mayo makes a beautifully moist and rich chocolate cake!
  • Something creamy // Oh She Glows has a SPLENDID tutorial for an amazing coconut whipped cream.
  • Caramel, for drizzling // Make your own or buy some from Whole Foods! I used Hey Boo’s coconut caramel to save time. This part is optional–I just wanted to have something extra special for my sister’s birthday!
  • Fresh fruit // I used strawberries!

Method:

  1. On the night before // Bake the cake, and let it cool overnight, covered with moist paper towels. Chill a can of full-fat coconut milk in the fridge.
  2. The next day // Make the coconut whipped cream. Serve cake slices with a spoonful of coconut whipped cream, fresh fruit, and a drizzle of coconut caramel.

Simple Birthday Breakfast
Enjoy!! My sister loved it with her birthday brunch! 🙂 I also made strawberry pasta this week…recipe coming soon!

Lavender Hot Chocolate + Coconut Whip

Lavender Hot Chocolate I am a fan of all things lavender, especially lavender lemonade. I’ve been dying to try lavender hot chocolate. I saw a recipe for it on à la mode’s blog a while back, and it was simply gorgeous. Truly inspiring. I had to veganize it. While my photos may not be as amazing as his, I think the hot chocolate tasted divine, especially with this genius coconut whipped cream from Oh She Glows.
Decadent Coconut Whipped Cream

My friend just pointed out to me that this looks like the moon and stars! Not my intention, but I like it!

This drink is cozy and elegant—my kind of Valentine’s Day treat! I live for the joys of relaxation and authentic simplicity, no superfluous roses or overpriced dinners here, thank you.

My friend told me a rose hot chocolate might be more suited to tomorrow’s holiday, but I’m just so obsessed with lavender. It’s done.

Delicious Lavender Hot ChocolateThis recipe makes enough to serve two, so you can share it with your sweetheart for a charming end to your evening. If you’re single and have a 20 oz mug, then it serves one. More hot chocolate for me! ^.^

Food-saving note: You really only need a couple dollops of coconut whipped cream, so you’ll have coconut milk leftover–I’m going to use my leftover coconut milk to make this easy caramel sauce from Oh, Ladycakes!

Vegan Lavender Hot Chocolate
inspired by à la mode
(makes 2 normal servings, or 1 generous serving)

Total time: 15 minutes
Ingredients:

  • 2 cups nondairy milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1/2 t dried lavender buds (available at Whole Foods or any natural grocery store)
  • 3 oz dark chocolate, chopped uniformly (use at least 70% cacao—I used Theo’s brand, available at Kroger or Whole Foods)
  • 1/6 cup pure maple syrup (or to your taste)
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • coconut whipped cream, for serving (optional, but it gives the BEST creamy texture–be sure to chill several hours beforehand. You can get the canned coconut milk from Kroger or the Asian market.)

Method:

  1. In a saucepan, heat the nondairy milk and lavender buds over medium heat. Whisk occasionally and let it simmer for a couple of minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and let the lavender steep for about 5 minutes.
  3. Strain the lavender and return the milk to the saucepan, on low to medium heat. Add the chocolate, maple syrup, vanilla and sea salt. Whisk until the chocolate is melted, and everything is incorporated and frothy. Remove from heat.
  4. Pour into mugs and serve with dollops of coconut whipped cream. Mix it up to incorporate the creaminess throughout the whole drink.

Gorgeous Lavender Hot Chocolate

Mmm…it looks like a galaxy and tastes like a combination of two of my favorite things—Earl Grey lattes and chocolate. It’s perfect!

Next time, I’m going to try making this with Dream Nondairy’s creamy sweet chocolate bar. I hope you all have a lovely Valentine’s Day, whether you are celebrating with someone special or your awesome self!

What are you doing for Valentine’s Day? Have any other lavender-related ideas? If you try the recipe, please let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Related articles:

Easy Overnight Hot Chocolate Oats

Waking up early to make a healthy breakfast is such a chore. Thankfully, Pinterest has led me to the discovery of an easy breakfast solution for people on the go: overnight oats!

This breakfast be prepared in just a few minutes the night before, with no cooking required. It’s perfect for students and busy folks. Overnight oats are usually eaten cold, but these days, I like a warm breakfast, so I will be heating mine up in the morning.

This is like hot chocolate in oatmeal form–something I know I can wake up to!

Overnight Hot Chocolate Oats

Overnight Hot Chocolate Oats
(serves 1)

Prep time: 5 minutes
Wait time: 3 hours +

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup nondairy milk (I used almond milk!)
  • up to 1.5 T cocoa powder (you can adjust according to your preference)
  • 1 T chia seeds (optional)
  • 2 t maple syrup (or to your taste; you can taste and add more in the morning if you want)
  • a few semisweet chocolate chips (optional)
  • a dash of cinnamon

Method:

  1. Mix everything together in a bowl or a mug, cover and let it sit in the fridge overnight while you sleep, or at least three hours (lookin’ at you, night owls!).
  2. In the morning, stumble to the fridge, take out your oats, and warm them up before devouring. I added some pecans to mine and it was awesome.

I like my oatmeal a little thick, but if you find it’s too thick, feel free to add another splash or two of almond milk. This recipe is super adaptable, so if something is not to your taste, just adjust!

If chocolate isn’t your first choice for breakfast, then
A. I doubt your sanity, and
B. Check out these recipes on Buzzfeed for more flavor variations!

What are your favorite easy breakfast solutions? Please share with me in the comments below!

15 Last-Minute DIY Foodie Gifts (That Your Friends Actually Want)

The holidays are upon us, and the window for finding gifts is quickly closing. Rushing to a busy mall is the worst thing to do right now. At the last minute, sometimes you start hallucinating and any DIY gift may sound appealing, but let’s skip the fruitcake and chocolate-covered pretzels, shall we?
YES VEGAN NUTELLA FROM LESLEYHere’s my handpicked list of thoughtful DIY vegan foodie gifts for your loved ones. These gifts won’t break the bank and most of them can be put together in an hour or two, with a few exceptions (gifts that take more than two hours are noted below).

  1. Homemade vegan Nutella: Last year, one of my best friends (Lesley, who runs the awesome Crafts and Magicks blog) made batches of vegan Nutella for me and our other vegan buddies. This is at the top of my list because Nutella is something that I personally missed from my childhood, and receiving a homemade vegan version was one of the most thoughtful and lovely gifts I’ve ever gotten. Always Order Dessert and Chocolate-Covered Katie have recipes for vegan Nutella from scratch.
  2. Caramel sauce: Caramel is another luxury that is taken for granted in the non-vegan world. Vegan caramel is hard to come by, so a bottle of this caramel sauce would be much appreciated by any vegan with a sweet tooth. I definitely recommend Oh Ladycakes’ caramel sauce recipe–I have tried it and gotten great results. It’s gorgeous stored in a bottle, to be drizzled in hot chocolate, or on pancakes or waffles for breakfast on Christmas morning.
  3. Flavored sugars and salts: I love this idea SO much. High Walls Blog has instructions to make rose salt, Mexican cocoa and lavender sugar as gifts. Presented in little glass jars or containers, these are truly elegant edibles that will get used.
  4. Brownies in a jar: Chocolate is a no-fail in my book. Check out Vegan Richa’s vegan brownie mix in a jar recipe. The post also includes instructions for single-serve brownies in a jar, which I think is genius.
  5. Homemade hot cocoa mix: A classic edible gift–check out Oh She Glows’ meltable hot chocolate discs. Last year, I made this candy cane hot cocoa mix from the Free People blog. My friends said the mix was too pretty to drink, but they drank it and enjoyed it anyway. Tehee.
  6. Chocolate bark: Beautiful, simple and customizable. Dark chocolate or rice milk chocolate both work, depending on your preference. Try this fruity chocolate bark recipe from Love and Olive Oil, or my berry nut chocolate bark recipe.
  7. Candied citrus peels: These make nice gifts for pen pals or relatives who live far away. Fresh Love Daily has a recipe for candied orange peels that can be made in an hour and a half. I would dip them in chocolate to make them even better.
  8. Truffles: Although these treats sound fancy, truffles really aren’t that hard to put together. Impress your friends with this decadent vegan truffle recipe from Inhabitat.com. I’ve made these before, and they aren’t hard, but they require some time (about three hours). If you don’t have that much time, my Harry-Potter themed snitch truffles take about an hour.
  9. Candy bars: Candy bars are another luxury that I don’t eat on the regular, because their vegan availability is limited or pricey. Go Max Go makes vegan candy bars (available at Whole Foods or other health food stores), but for homemade vegan candy bars, Cara from the Fork and Beans blog is definitely the expert. She created several vegan candy bar recipes for Halloween, but they could just as easily be used as Christmas gifts. I would recommend her Kit Kat bars, no-bake Twix bars, and peanut butter cups–all of which are vegan, gluten-free, and can come together in about an hour or less! She also has a pretty sweet recipe for vegan candy cane kisses, if you can get your hands on some vegan white chocolate.
  10. Flavored syrups: This is a gift for coffee-lovers who like to make their own drinks at home. Annie’s Eats has a recipe guide to make four different kinds of DIY flavored syrup, without the high-fructose corn syrup: vanilla, raspberry, coconut and caramel. The last recipe calls for caramel sauce–I would use Oh Ladycakes’ caramel sauce.
  11. Snowball cookies: Also known as Mexican wedding cookies, these are fun and adorable cookies that will melt in your mouth. Check out Chocolate-Covered Katie’s recipe.
  12. Pesto: Combined with a package of dry pasta, a fresh baguette, or by itself, pesto makes a good savory gift. There are many ways to make vegan pesto. For guidance and inspiration, take a look at Hell Yeah It’s Vegan’s walnut basil pesto, or Food52’s simple vegan pesto.
  13. Indoor herb garden: Besides the vegan Nutella, this is probably my favorite idea on this list. I seriously need to make myself one of these…I can’t count how many times I have wistfully wished for fresh herbs within my reach while cooking (once, in a poorly planned phở adventure, I went to six stores in search of fresh basil–NEVER AGAIN). Design Sponge has a tutorial for a clean and simple herb garden in a wooden box. For a more eclectic look, try re-using tea tins, as shown in this guide from Canadian House and Home.
  14. Chai tea mix: Pair a tea mix with a good book and you’ve got the gift of a relaxing afternoon. My New Roots has a masala chai tea concentrate mix that would be gorgeous wrapped up in a cheesecloth bag or a small jar. Include instructions with your gift.
  15. Herb-infused olive oil: Herb-infused oils can serve as kitchen decor and open up more possibilities in cooking. The Free People blog has a guide to make this gift in two hours, with three flavor infusion ideas.

I hope you are enjoying the holidays with your family! Have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year 🙂 Please let me know what posts you would like to see on my blog in the upcoming new year with a comment below!

Hot Chocolate

hotchocolate
Did you know that hot chocolate and hot cocoa are two different things? Check out my hot chocolate recipe post on The Shorthorn’s site to listen to learn more about the art of hot chocolate. The photos and following post were originally published on The Shorthorn, UT Arlington’s student news website, on November 20, 2013.

Hot cocoa is for drinking by the mug-full. Hot chocolate is for slow, indulgent sipping. Both will make you feel warm and toasty.

I came up with the idea of writing about hot chocolate last week, when it was freezing outside. Although this week’s forecast looks pretty warm, I’m going to post this in anticipation for future cold weather.

This is probably my favorite post I’ve ever done for work. Everything was too much fun! If you try the recipe, let me know how it goes!

Vegans Love Chocolate: Valentine’s Day Tips

In high school, for Valentine’s Day, one of my sister’s admirers got her a box of milk chocolates. While she appreciated the gesture, as a vegan, she had no idea what to do with the chocolates since they had animal products in them. It was definitely a let-down.

Don’t be that guy (or girl). Check out my recommendations below to avoid an awkward situation with your vegan (or lactose-intolerant) valentine. Show them your thoughtful side and let them know that you acknowledge their values.

There are plenty of vegan chocolate options on the market to choose from. I always browse the chocolate section at Whole Foods, even if I don’t need any chocolate, just because it makes me happy to see so much vegan chocolate in one place.

  • Go Max Go Candy Bars: These vegan bars mimic classic candy bars–my favorite is probably the Jokerz bar, which features caramel, peanuts, nougat, and a rice-milk chocolate coating. Other flavors include Cleo’s peanut butter cups and Buccaneers (like Three Musketeers). Available at Whole Foods.
  • Allison’s Gourmet Chocolates: This company specializes in artisan vegan truffles, peppermint patties and chocolate bark. The raspberry blush hearts and artisan vegan caramels look the best to me! Available online.
  • Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates: Sjaak’s isn’t all vegan, but they have some pretty sweet vegan options. Surprise your valentine with the unconventional: chocolate lavender hearts and salted caramels, among other things! Available online.
  • Chocolove: These chocolate bars have adorable wrappers with love poems inside. Not all the flavors are vegan, but many of them are! Just check the ingredients. My favorites from this brand are Almonds & Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate and Raspberries in Dark Chocolate. Available at Whole Foods.

Vegan NutellaI personally appreciate and gravitate towards homemade gifts, so this post would not be complete without a list of homemade chocolate treats any vegan will appreciate.

If you need more ideas, please feel free to check out my other tips from last year.

I know this post was a little chocolate-heavy, and I’m not apologizing for that, but if you are looking for other kinds of treats for your valentine, consider browsing FindingVegan or The Post Punk Kitchen for recipes. There’s also a discussion about vegan baking on the Vegan Club’s Valentine’s Day Bake Sale Facebook event that could be useful.

PSA: This year, Vegan Club and The Environmental Society are teaming up to help you out for Valentine’s Day with our bake/card sale! Come out this Thursday and buy some homemade treats and eco-valentines for your crush.

ECO VALENTINES

Happy planning!