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!

‘Speciesism: The Movie’ | Review + More

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
Mark Twain

Speciesism: The Movie

Last week, on January 23rd, ‘Speciesism: The Movie’ made its Texas premiere at The Magnolia theater in Dallas. The documentary was written, directed and produced by Mark Devries, who was present at the screening.

Walking into the film, I expected an exposé about the way humans treat nonhuman animals, along with a philosophical discussion. I wasn’t wrong, but I also wasn’t expecting much humor. While I had heard that the movie had some humorous moments, I was surprised to find myself (and other attendees) truly laughing out loud several times. Devries himself narrates the documentary, managing to articulate and raise important questions about complex and heavy issues without boring the audience. He made us laugh, without belittling the issues. For those wondering, animal abuse footage was kept to a minimum.

Speciesism: The Movie

Devries, who was not vegan when he made the documentary, begins by asking questions. These questions beget more questions, fueling a journey of discovery that includes investigations, expert insights, and conversations with everyday citizens. The film ends up challenging an extremely under-recognized form of oppression ingrained in our society (and the implications, as such)–that is, the conventional, anthropocentric notion that animals hold no value beyond human use.

I appreciated Devries’ rational approach and inquisitive nature, which encouraged viewers to think for themselves. Also, I really would have liked to see more appearances from women and vegans of color and their perspectives on speciesism and other forms of oppression. However, as a conversation starter, ‘Speciesism: The Movie’ definitely has my recommendation. I would love to see a sequel exploring the intersectionality of the issues more in depth.

A philosophical discourse in itself, this is an approachable and stimulating film that serves as a compelling start to a worthwhile conversation we ought to be having about how we treat nonhuman animals, and what that says about us. I gave the movie a standing ovation, as did the other attendees who filled up the whole theater. Regardless of whether or not you are vegan, this is a must-see for anyone interested in animals, philosophy, the environment, human health, systems of oppression, posthumanist theory, or bio-politics.

For those who have seen the film…
If you’re interested in the film’s topics, the movie’s site has some post-viewing recommendations. Also, here are some of my personal recommendations about related topics (for watching and reading):

Please let me know your thoughts if you have read or watched any of the above, and if you have recommendations.
Also, please see the related articles below for more material relevant to these issues! There’s so much to discuss and read about, so I simply had to include more related articles. 🙂

Ego vs. Eco

PSA (for UT Arlington students):
The film’s philosophical points were reminiscent of class discussions from the animal studies literature course I took in 2012, with Dr. Stacy Alaimo at UTA (possibly my favorite literature course ever–take it if you can). Through examining and discussing the works of philosophers and thinkers like Nussbaum, Bentham, Montaigne, and Derrida, the class held regular discourses about the representation of animals in human culture and the ethical implications of our widespread mistreatment of other species. ‘Speciesism: The Movie’ would have fit the curriculum very well. Those of you who have taken Dr. Alaimo’s class, I highly recommend this documentary.

Related articles (check these out!):

Did you see Speciesism: The Movie? What did you think of it? Please share your comments below!

Merry Christmas!

Vegan Hot ChocolateHi everyone,
I would just like to make a post dedicated to sincerely wishing my readership a very merry Christmas (or happy holidays, if you prefer)! Thank you all for following my blog–I appreciate your readership more than I can express in words!

In honor of today, I am sharing the following Christmas/winter playlist and some handpicked related articles below from my favorite places on the internet (I’ve also included some of my recipes for your reference).

If you have a quiet moment this holiday, feel free to check them out if you’re interested in reading about what’s usually on my mind during the Christmas season (and all year, really–yummy food and world peace are always relevant in my book).

I hope your holidays are filled with love and light, and I wish you and your families all the best for the upcoming new year.

Continue reading

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!

Smiling Moose Deli | sandwiches + soup + studying

Last December, I adopted College Park’s Smiling Moose Deli as my study abode for an afternoon. At first, I came to grab food, but when I realized that they had free wifi and outlets available, I set up my materials and wrote my final paper there. The place offered a nice, warm atmosphere for studying and several vegan options to choose from. I ended up ordering a few dishes to keep myself satiated while working.

This place is very clear about labels and friendly about answering questions. Any of the vegetarian dishes can be ordered vegan if you ask them to hold the dairy products. Here’s my full review, originally published on The Shorthorn, UT Arlington’s student news website, published on October 2, 2013.

Before closing, they offered me free coffee (plus soymilk!) since it was the end of the day. Sweet. I had other study plans that night, so the caffeine came in handy.

Pictured above: Build-Your-Own salad, the Veggie Mo, and Vegan Vegetable Soup. The soup was hearty, and the sandwich was filling, but it was not my favorite. I loved the salad I had a few weeks ago–I tend not to order salads, but I was really craving fresh veggies and this hit the spot. I loaded it with all the toppings I could think of (they do not charge extra for extra toppings). College Park has several other vegan options too–check out my reviews here.

Good luck with finals! Load up on healthy snacks! 😉