Healthy Vegan Fruit Tarts

I’m usually asked to make dessert for holiday get-togethers, and more specifically to bring my usual cupcakes or cookies. This time I wanted to bring something different. I recently had a baby shower at work and brought the easiest thing I could make the night before work which were cinnamon rolls. I found that everyone else had brought cake, cupcakes, brownies and pasta. This meant that a lot of the girls didn’t want to eat anything, rightfully so because it was all so unhealthy and every woman on the planet is on a diet 99% of the time. It made me realize that I should have brought something healthier and I wish I had just brought a veggie platter instead. The unfortunate thing however is that the healthier option is usually more expensive. I was looking at spending $15 on a veggie platter compared to $3-4 to make cinnamon rolls. As a relatively young person living out of home I don’t have the biggest budget to work on. But anyhow getting to the point, this time for Thanksgiving I wanted to make something that was a bit lighter, and healthier. My brother-in-law has lost 50lbs since becoming vegan and he really tries to find ways to bake in healthier ways. I really wanted to bring a vegan dessert that was light and still really tasty. So with the little time I had I decided to make vegan fruit tarts.

I will just say now that cooking and baking are not my strong points. But I ended up finding pastry sheets that were actually vegan by Pepperidge Farms. Next time I have more time I will attempt to make my own pastry sheets but this time they were perfect for my tarts. I was also one of the blessed folk who had to work Thanksgiving this year from 7pm-1:30am. Anyhow, I’m sorry I didn’t take more photos this time but I only had about an hour to make these. Lack of time aside I also prefer to cook and bake with as few ingredients as possible. I feel like it keeps the end result more natural and light. But it could also be the lack of skill, who knows….

For all the tarts I laid out the pastry sheets and cut out circles using a large soup mug. It would probably be handy to have a circle cutter but the mug delivered. I put each of these circles of pastry into a cupcake cooking pan to shape the tart. I just had to mould the pastry circles into each cup of the pan. This way you can create little individual tarts for each person.

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Ingredients

4 Granny Smith Apples cut into wedges

Cinnamon

Brown sugar

1 Tablespoon Earth Balance butter

For the apple and cinnamon tarts I just pre-roasted the apples in the oven at 400° for 25 minutes. I first mixed the apples in a  bowl with the melted butter, 1 Tablespoon brown sugar, and powdered cinnamon. I then filled the pastry cups with this mixture and created a very poor lattice on the top by cutting out little mini strips of the remaining pastry. I cooked the tarts at 400° in the oven for 15 minutes.

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Ingredients

Blueberries

Raspberries

Corn Starch

Brown Sugar

I kept trying to research ways on how to make a healthy filling for berry tarts and I really didn’t like any of the recipes I found. Like I said before I really wanted these to be light and healthy, and to be a simple fruit dessert. My husband ended up making a little sauce/jam concoction using a small handful of pureed raspberries, a teaspoon of cornstarch, with less than a teaspoon of brown sugar. This created exactly what I needed to place into the bottom of the pastry tart so that it wouldn’t just be fruit that could become dry. I then placed blueberries and raspberries on top of this mixture into each pastry cup and sprinkled a tiny amount of brown sugar on top. These were also baked at 400° along with the apple tarts for 15 minutes.

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Both of these tarts were so simple and used so few ingredients but they tasted really amazing! Just before I had to leave my in-laws for work on Thanksgiving I brought these out to eat and they were a hit. My brother-in-law seemed to be the biggest fan and I think appreciated the effort to bring a healthier option. He ended up eating several and I only wish I had made more. The berry tarts were a perfect mix of tartness and sweetness, and the pastry was really good too. Using a cupcake/muffin pan was also the perfect size to make individual tarts. I will definitely be making these for Christmas again, and actually wanted to try my hand at making an Aussie Christmas staple which are fruit mince pies. Next time I will also try to take better pictures and more pictures of the actual process. But they were so simple to make, and use so few ingredients that a monkey could make this.

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Nominated for Liebster Award!

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Thank you to Susan from Watch Hatch Fly (http://watchhatchfly.com) and also Lauzan from The Veggy Side of Me (http://theveggysideofme.wordpress.com) for nominating for for a Liebster award! I really appreciate the nomination because the Liebster award is for newer bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers. I think a lot of us on here on WordPress blog because we are passionate about something, are creative, or simply enjoy writing. It can also be really difficult to get yourself out there because there are millions of bloggers now around the world with how much people  have access to technology. So, as someone who loves to write, be creative, and is also passionate about the things I blog about I certainly love it when people enjoy my work. I can’t always blog as much as I’d like because I go to school and I work, but I definitely love to whenever I can. I also really enjoy reading other people’s blogs and learning new things and even just appreciating art. Both Susan and Lauzan have amazing blogs that include great vegan and vegetarian recipes. I also really enjoy Susan’s humor!

So the Liebster Award rules are as follows:

  • Nominees must link back the person who nominated.
  • Answer the 10 questions that are given by the nominator.
  • Nominate 10 other bloggers for this award who also have fewer than 200 followers.
  • Create 10 questions for the nominees to answer.
  • Notify your nominees about their nomination (Say that 10 times really fast! Actually it’s not that bad…)

So here are my questions from Susan:

1. Outside of your family members, who is your biggest inspiration and why?

I always find this question really difficult because no one immediately comes to mind other than my parents. Other than that people who really inspire me are those who do what seems impossible.

2. What is your favorite book from your childhood?

I am one of those people who do not remember much from their childhood. I had a difficult and traumatic upbringing and so I don’t like to remember that time very much. I really can’t remember any children’s books but I do remember that I loved anything paranormal and loved the Goosebump series.

3. Where do you go for peace and quiet?

I’m a major homebody and love to just be at home listening to music, otherwise I feel most peaceful when I am outdoors and with nature.

4. What is your favorite dinner?

My favorite dinner would have to be my mums Persian cooking. Without my mums cooking I could eat Japanese food any time, especially sushi and sashimi.

5. Name your guilty pleasure.

My guilty pleasure is probably a toss up between the compulsion to look at pretty shoes, or to eat freshly baked bread. It is a running joke between my husband and I that I could be caught looking at shoes at any given time. In fact if you watch The IT Crowd there is this one episode where the main girl Jan is interrupted as she’s in her own world thinking about a pair of red heels and just randomly blurts out, “Shoes.” So anytime my husband asks me what I’m doing I just simply say, “Shoes.”

6. What’s more fun for you, a big party or a few friends at dinner?

I’m definitely not a party person so I would say a few friends at dinner. I love connecting with people and having good conversations.

7. Love running or hate running?

I don’t love or hate running. I would actually like to be someone who does in fact run, but I’m more of a hiker. I have bad knees, can that be my excuse?

8. What is a cause that is important to you?

Since getting a dog last year which was the first pet I’ve ever had in my life I have noticed that I am very sensitive to animal rights. I cannot take seeing animals mistreated, especially dogs. Animals don’t have a voice and so I can’t take it when I see people mistreat their pets, or animals in general.

9. If you could make a living out of doing something you already love to do, what would it be?

I have a lot of things I’d love to do that all center on creative work. I would love to write articles but not books. I would love to be a photographer, especially to photograph people. I love interior design and set design. I’m always redecorating the brand layouts in my store and the product always seems to sell better when I do.

10. OMG! Did you see the movie “Gravity” yet? And if not, why?

I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I didn’t even know what Gravity was and had to Google it. I don’t have cable anymore and I rarely go to the cinema. I am pretty out of touch with society these days! It sounds like a very interesting concept though!

Here are my questions from Lauzan:

1. What is your guilty pleasure?

The shoes and the bread.

2. Someone you really cannot stand and why. 

I can’t stand ignorant or closed minded people who form opinions based on stereotypes. I can’t stand it because I can’t tolerant ignorance.

3. What is the first memory you have from your childhood?

Probably being in hospital for a chronic medical condition I had. I hate hospitals…

4. Your favorite b/w movie.

As a horror movie fan I’d have to say House on Haunted Hill or The Masque of the Red Death.

5. Who inspires you?

My parents because of what they went through and how hard they have worked to be successful. My mum has been a strong role model for me as a woman because she was a single mother. My dad has also taught me the value of hard work and persistence.

6. If you could meet someone from the past who would he/she be?

It’s pretty cliche but I’d love to meet Einstein and get to talk to him.

7. What is your favorite food?

Sushi for sure.

8. What is your favorite city?

I have a lot of favorite cities because they are my favorite place. My name actually translates into “Girl of the city”. But my favorites would have to be New York, Sydney and my home city, Brisbane in Australia.

9. The last book you bought.

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. Unless the Ghost World comic counts…

10. Sea or snow?

I love both but i’m definitely a winter person, so I’d go with snow.

11. Do you believe in ghosts?

With all the paranormal shows I watch you would think so but I’m still not convinced. Every time I watch Paranormal Witness on SyFy I just find the stories hard to believe. Ironically I am still scared of the dark a lot of the time….

My nominations in random order:

Katie Foley from http://katiefoley11.wordpress.com

Afracooking from http://afracooking.wordpress.com

Betty Livin from http://bettylivin.com

ESSEFIT from http://essefit.com

Mydiabetesandme from http://mydiabetesandme.wordpress.com

DaPonte Photography from http://dapontephotography.wordpress.com

Vodka & Cupcakes from http://vodkaandcupcakes.com

Home Creations Everyday from http://homecreationseveryday.wordpress.com/diy-projects/

Shred For Less from http://shredforless.wordpress.com/about/

I am a Twenty Something from http://katepullen.wordpress.com/about/

My 10 Questions for my nominees:

  1. Do you collect anything?
  2. Is there a song that can make you cry just by listening to it?
  3. What would you do if you won $10,ooo?
  4. Who is your favorite person in your life?
  5. Describe 3 of your favorite photographs.
  6. What is the most sentimental thing you own that you could never be without?
  7. What is one talent/skill you wish you had?
  8. If you could relive one moment in your life what would it be?
  9. What is the bravest/boldest thing you’ve done in your life?
  10. What makes you feel most nostalgic about your childhood or past?

Vegan Chocolate Mousse

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I first saw this recipe made by a YouTuber I follow called Leyla. I have shown one of her other recipes on here before that was the Thai Mango Salad. She just makes a lot of amazing vegan recipes that I have to try myself. This recipe for chocolate mousse is one I have been wanting to try for a long time because of the strange ingredients. I could not believe that a mousse that is made with avocado would taste anything like chocolate. But I made it and it actually tastes nothing like avocado and has the same consistency as traditional mousse.

Ingredients

4 Ripe Avocados

4 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

3 Tablespoons honey or agave syrup (I used honey)

1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 Cup almond or coconut milk (I actually used dark chocolate almond milk because I forgot to buy the regular milk)

Making this is really simple and quick. You just have to cut up the avocado first and then add all the ingredients into a blender or food processor. A food processor is ideal but I only have a blender so I had to blend it for quite a while. I also put in the avocados like I’ve shown below and next time I would definitely cut them up into small pieces so that my blender doesn’t experience a complete meltdown.

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It’s amazing that with such few and simple ingredients you can create a really delicious chocolate mousse that is also healthy. Since I used dark chocolate almond milk mine ended up tasting very much like dark chocolate. You can also adjust this recipe to make it much sweeter. I don’t have a huge sweet tooth so I actually like the combination of ingredients I used. I also added some toffee almond granola to mine, honestly more for decoration purposes. Overall I am really surprised at how decent this was and how it didn’t taste anything like avocado. The fact that it’s healthy is definitely a bonus too!

For the original recipe check out RealLeyla’s channel at http://youtube.com/realleyla

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Pan-Fried Mung Beans with Tempeh

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I wanted to share this recipe that my sister made. It looks really good and I want to try and cook it myself. It looks really easy and quick to make as well. All it involves is pan frying cut up pieces of tempeh in a pan until they are golden on each side. You then set them aside and begin pan frying broccoli, asparagus and mung beans in a pan until the vegetables are slightly tender and the mung beans are cooked through. I would suggest soaking the mung beans first so that they do not involve as much cooking time. The spices used in this are lemon zest and coriander, and then dollops of greek yoghurt are added when served. If you are lactose intolerant like I am or are even just vegan I would suggest to skip the yoghurt entirely or just use plain soy yoghurt because it tastes the same.

Here is my sister’s final result.

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This looks so good to me and I am definitely going to try making it for my sister-in-law and her husband. They have both been vegan for over a year now and I think they would really enjoy this.

Lime Shrimp Salad

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I have been craving salads a lot recently, which is definitely welcome to me. Even when I don’t totally feel like a salad one way I motivate myself to eat healthier is to make my food look really appetizing. I think when you make your salads really colorful and interesting it definitely makes them more appealing. I wanted to use different colored tomatoes but my grocery store only had red ones.

Anyhow, last night I made this lime shrimp salad. It was a very simple recipe but it was really good and very flavorful. I just soaked some peeled shrimp with fresh lime juice and added some salt and ground black pepper.

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It doesn’t need to be cooked very long. I just cooked it in a pan with some Pam spray for about 5 minutes with the lid closed.

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I then set them aside on a plate to cool and put more freshly squeezed lime juice over them. For the salad I just used a mixed spring leaf mix with avocado, green onions, a yellow bell pepper and a red tomato.

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I think you could use just about any salad dressing with this, but probably simple is better. I just used balsamic vinegar on mine and my husband used Italian dressing. I think that’s the great thing about salads because you can change it up by just using different dressings. I think one thing that would have made this even better would have been to add black olives.

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This was a really simple dinner idea but it was surprisingly flavorful and good. I will definitely be having this again. It was a nice change from having a steak salad because red meat can still be pretty heavy, even in a salad.

 

Healthier options for a lunch break.

Yesterday on my lunch break at work I was starving and of course did not bring anything for lunch. I don’t always have a lot of time to find something to eat and even though I work at a pretty large outdoor mall all the close options are either expensive, time-consuming, or just plain unhealthy. I didn’t want to just give in and go to the food court so I ended up driving to the Chick Fil-A nearby. I knew that if I just completely skipped lunch I would just be starving later, and I also didn’t want to eat something like a burger. I ended up choosing an option from the kids menu, which ended up being really good. What I got will look and sound ridiculous but to have something just to eat and hold me over till dinner it was pretty good and pretty healthy.

So this is what I got: Orange juice, grilled chicken strips, and an apple and cinnamon blended thing which was pretty much like baby food to me. Seriously I think it was baby food like you get in those small mason jars with the blended apple or banana things. But I drank it and it was pretty delicious.

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So the funny thing about this is that the serving of chicken I got is probably what a proper serving size is for an adult. This also cost $5.00 and some change which is pretty good. Now I wouldn’t eat this as a usual lunch because I like my greens, but as an option if I don’t have my lunch it is really good. I love finding healthy options when I’m out because it helps me stick to my healthier lifestyle. The other thing I get if I don’t have my lunch or breakfast is Jamba Juice. They now have healthier juices with fruit and vegetables and I always choose the Apples and Greens option which has a mix of fruit and vegetables (obviously), and also has Spiralina which is an amazing vitamin/supplement.

Apple ‘n Greens Smoothie

AppleGreens657Image from Jamba Juice