abracapocus

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Category: food (page 1 of 91)

Nakd Snack Bars Reviewed

I have an awful sweet tooth. To the point that I can’t really keep sweets in the house or I’ll eat them all. You can imagine what a problem the temptation at the bakery was. I’ll admit that sometimes I didn’t make something just because I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep myself from eating it. Mid morning scone? Sure! Cookie with lunch? Why not! I think biking to work was the only thing that kept me from weighing 5,000 pounds.

Now, life is a little different, more sedentary. But I still get those sugar cravings, especially in the middle of the afternoon. I try to keep bars around to help quench that craving. They’re usually only slightly better than eating a cookie, but I kid myself that they’re much healthier.

A couple of months back, I was contacted to see if I’d like to try Eat Nakd Wholefoods bars by a company out of the UK called Natural Balance Foods. After checking to make sure they were vegan, I said sure, I’ll try them.

nakd snack bars variety pack

And when I looked up these Nakd snack bars, I found them not only to be vegan, but unprocessed. They have no added sugar and are sweetened with dates and occasionally other fruit. They are dairy, wheat and gluten-free. The bars are also mostly raw and do use some non-GMO ingredients, but they aren’t 100% fair trade or organic due to sourcing issues. And they’re definitely suitable to those on a wheat free diet plan.
pecan pie nakd snack bar

pecan pie nakd snack bar and cat

The pecan pie bar somehow took those three simple ingredients and gave them that kind of caramel-like flavor that an actual pie has. Dates are kind of magical sometimes. The Nakd snack bars are a little smaller than some other bars, but it was enough to put off the craving.

nakd snack bar rhubarb and custard

So, I’m not sure I’ve ever had rhubarb anything. And if I have, it was likely mixed with strawberries. So the flavor of this bar was unfamiliar to me. I didn’t hate it or think it was gross, but I wouldn’t choose it. But you might like it if you’re into rhubarb.

nakd snack bar cashew cookie

I’m a fan of cashews and love using them to make cheesecakes and cheesy sauces. So of course I liked the cashew cookie bar.

Bars are convenient to carry to the coffee shop where I work sometimes. Especially when I’m trying to avoid the vegan zucchini bread and cookies they carry. And they have a long shelf life so they can hang out in my backpack until I need them.

cocoa crunch nakd snack bar

My favorite of the flavors were the chocolate varieties. No one will be surprised by this. The texture reminds me of fudge or a softer Tootsie Roll. And the crunch varieties have little soy crispies in them. I think I actually prefer the crunch to the smooth, but I’m not that picky. I’ll go for either especially if they’re chocolate.

You can get Nakd snack bars on Amazon.com but it looks like it’s a better deal from their site. The site offers free shipping and they’re running a special on the combo pack. So if you’re looking for a new bar to try with clean ingredients, you should give these a shot.

Vegan King Cake Recipe

vegan king cake recipe

It’s weird. This is the first year in a while that I haven’t made vegan King Cake. It was hugely popular at the bakery and we sold through it as fast as it could be made. It’s not as hard to make as it looks.

Many people are afraid to make anything that involves yeast because they’ve had some failures. I have two tips that will help you deal with yeast.

First, when a recipe says to proof your active dry yeast in warm water, you have to make sure the water isn’t too hot or too cold. Above 140F will kill the yeast. The internet says the ideal temperature is somewhere between 130F and 140F. So your faucet water might be hotter than that and you might be killing the yeast right at the beginning. Of course, your active dry yeast might already be dead which seemed to happen to me about half the time.

Which leads me to my second tip…don’t use active dry yeast. Use instant yeast. Once I discovered instant yeast, I never looked back. No proofing required. Just add the same amount as the active dry yeast called for in with the flour and whisk in. Any liquid and/or sugar the recipe called for to proof the active dry yeast, just add in when the recipe calls for those ingredients or similar ingredients (liquid or sweetener.) Also, your dough will probably rise faster than the recipe says. Most recipes tell you to let it rise for a time period OR when the dough has doubled. Just put the dough in a container where it will be easy to mark double the starting level. Check it in half the time then gauge from that how often you’ll need to check before it gets to double.  Seriously, replacing active dry yeast with instant yeast in your baking will change your life.

The recipe we used at Dough was adapted from Kittee Berns‘ recipe in her cookzine Papa Tofu.  She has posted some updated King Cake recipes including a vegan gluten-free one so head on over to her site if you’d like to check those out.

vegan king cake recipe

Vegan King Cake Recipe

Makes 2 King Cakes

Ingredients

Cake:
2 ounces (1/4 cup) Earth Balance
1 12 oz. box firm silken tofu
2 teaspoons lemon juice
4 ounces (1/4 8 oz. tub) Tofutti cream cheese
⅓ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon Ener-G egg replacer mixed in 3/4 cup water
6 cups unbleached white flour
2 babies or just use dried beans if you don’t have babies
Frosting:
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1.5 ounce (2 1/2 tablespoons) Earth Balance, melted
4 tablespoons non-dairy milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
yellow, green and purple colored sprinkles (can’t find vegan sprinkles? Kittee has instructions for making your own at the bottom of this page. Remember, while confectioners glaze can be vegan, it rarely is.)

Instructions

Whiz the silken tofu in the food processor with the lemon juice and cream cheeze. Set aside.

Combine the Earth Balance, tofu cream cheeze mixture, 1/3 cup sugar and teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Heat until the margarine melts, stirring occasionally until smooth. Let the mixture cool to at least 105-115F.

Add the cooled tofu cream cheeze mixture, the egg substitute liquid, yeast and flour to a mixer bowl. Knead with dough hook until smooth, about 6 minutes. You can do this by hand. I have no idea how long it will take. Do it until the dough is completely smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled. If it’s kind of cold, it won’t be ruined, it’ll just take longer.

Meanwhile, get your choice of filling ready. Scroll down for recipes.

Punch down the dough and divide in half. Turn one portion out onto the table and roll into a 22″X12″ rectangle. Or as close as you can get to that.

Spread half of your chosen filling(s) over the rolled out dough. Leave about two inches free on the top for the cream cheese variety, because otherwise the filling will squish up as you roll up the dough and ooze out the top.

Starting at the bottom (wide side), roll the dough up jellyroll style to form a thick log about 22″ long. Hide a small plastic doll somewhere in the dough as you roll it up.

Pinch the seam really, really well to seal. Gently place the coil, seam side down, on a parchment covered baking sheet. Bring the ends together to form a ring. Pinch the ends together to seal well (if you don’t seal it properly, it will open up during baking and ooze).

Let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350F.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350F until golden brown.

For the frosting glaze:

Melt the margarine.
Combine the melted margarine, sifted powdered sugar, milk and extract together and beat with a spatula ’till smooth.
Frost each cake with half the frosting then sprinkle with yellow, purple & green sprinkles.

FILLING OPTIONS (each is enough for 2 King Cakes)

Cinnamon sugar filling:

1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup Earth Balance very soft

Mix sugar, cinnamon and softened margarine together well.

For the cream cheeze filling:

12 oz. Tofutti Cream Cheeze
2 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat the cream cheeze until smooth.
Beat in the flour, sugar and extract until smooth.

Happy King Caking!

Completely vegan gluten-free cafe in Fort Lauderdale

No, it isn’t hard being vegan. But it’s still challenging to eat out in some place. Now, throw gluten-free into the mix. Again, it’s no problem at home, but on the road it’s nearly impossible. Unless you’re in Fort Lauderdale and you hit up the Green Bar & Kitchen.

Now I’m not gluten free. I eat plenty of it. Probably too much. But I do try to keep it in check. Because the best gluten filled goods are white breads, cakes, and other such naughties full of empty calories.

Vegan Gluten-free Brunch

We were in Fort Lauderdale about to go on a cruise and then again about to fly back home. So we made two stops into Green Bar & Kitchen. The first visit before the cruise, we got there a little before they opened. And a line quickly formed behind us. Because on Sundays they have brunch. Everyone loves brunch!

green bar vegan gluten free cafe

We had to take advantage of brunch. We got the pumpkin french toast and tofu scramble with potatoes. Remember, it’s also gluten-free. But LOOK AT IT! That french toast was not joking around.

vegan gluten free pumpkin french toast

vegan gluten free tofu scramble and potatoes

We’d had bagels earlier, so I was feeling more like having lunch. So I got the curried chick’n salad sandwich (Pea-soy protein, celery, red onion, raisins, cranberries, seasonings & mayo, served on flax & millet bread.) That bread is the best gluten-free bread I’ve ever had. It may be a little more delicate than gluten bread, but it’s so fluffy and perfect and it held up for the sandwich just fine.

vegan gluten free chicken salad sandwich vegan gluten free chicken salad sandwich

Do you like kombucha? They have it on tap! You can sample to see which one you’d like.

kombucha samples

And they have these things called Krunkin which are kind of like donut holes. They were good, but I’ve been fully spoiled by Ronald’s Donuts in Las Vegas. And I’ve never even been to Las Vegas. I’m getting sidetracked. If you’re craving donut like things that are vegan and gluten-free, these are for you.

vegan gluten free donut holes

Vegan Gluten-free Lunch

And here is where I’ve failed you all. We were with Kevin’s parents when we went back to Green Bar and for some dumb reason I didn’t take pictures. Wait! There ARE pictures! They were just hanging out unedited in my Camera+ app.

Kevin had the smoke house burger and I had the buffalo tempeh sandwich. I liked the tempeh sandwich but just wish the tempeh wasn’t so chunky. The burger was really good.

vegan gluten free smoke house burger

vegan gluten free buffalo tempeh

Green Bar also has a ton of raw options. All in all this is exactly the kind of food I want in a warm climate like Fort Lauderdale. They seem to be doing really well, so I hope to visit next time I’m down there. This location is close to the port, so it’s pretty convenient to grab a bite before or after a cruise.

green bar front door

Eating Vegan on a Royal Caribbean Cruise

royal caribbean ship selfie

Cruises are known for their elaborate spreads of food with people piling up plate after plate of food from the buffet. But how does that work out for a vegan? This is my experience of eating vegan on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Some things have changed since the first Royal Caribbean cruise I went on in 2008.  The main thing to note is that I didn’t see any of the vegan margarine that they had that first time. Availability might depend on where they pick up supplies, or maybe their vendors changed. Finding peanut butter on the buffet was hit or miss this time around. If they don’t have it out on the buffet, you can always ask. They usually have it in back.

We always had dinner in the dining room together at a table at our appointed time. There are also buffet options if you don’t want to do that. If you do eat in the dining room, the first night get acquainted with the head waiter. He is your best friend. Ask him all of your questions. He will make sure you get what you need.

There is a set menu for each evening. You can try to order off of that. Often you can cobble together vegan or easily made vegan items from it. We had 5 vegans in our party, so each night we would order for the next night. We’d look at the regular menu to see if we could eat anything on it. And then we’d have them make something we requested. We had an added challenge – one of us was also gluten free. Most nights we ended up having some kind of Indian food. And then they’d also bring a plate of tofu and vegetables for us to share. The last night they had soy chicken on the regular menu. The head waiter took a picture of the package and it said vegan right on it! While I do like Indian food, it was getting a little old so the soy chicken was awesome.

Every night, they will come around with a bread basket. Ask about the breads, but there is a sourdough that is vegan. If they don’t have the vegan margarine, ask them to bring some olive oil to the table for you to dip your bread in.

Desserts ended up being variations of rice pudding. One night we had carrot halwa. On a previous cruise, they made a chocolate soy pudding one night that was awesome. We got vanilla pudding one night this time.

This is the meal we had the last night. Salad, chilled mango soup,  soy chicken and carrot halwa, an Indian spiced dessert. The vegetables on the plate with the soy chicken were from the big plate of veggies they brought us every night.

vegan salad on royal caribbean

vegan chilled mango soup on royal caribbean cruise

vegan soy chicken on royal caribbean cruise

vegan indian spiced carrot dessert on royal caribbean cruise

Breakfast and lunch we would have at the buffet. When you sit down, a waiter will come by and you can ask him or her for soy milk for your coffee and/or cereal. Do that first before you hit the buffet because they may have to go seek some out. There’s always a ton of fresh fruit out. You’ll find fried and roasted potatoes. They have a miso soup station where you can get some tofu cubes. I just assumed the miso soup wasn’t vegan since it traditionally isn’t, but I didn’t ask. There will be some stir fried veggies and rice. There is almost always some Indian dish like chana masala.

Here’s one of my breakfasts from the buffet at the Windjammer. Yeah, I ate chana masala over potatoes for breakfast. I ain’t skerd. Also we scored an awesome window seat.

vegan breakfast on royal caribbean cruise

The lunch buffet was even easier. More vegetable options appeared. You could make a salad, the raspberry vinaigrette is vegan, or make a french fry sandwich. It’s really your choice. As you can see, I took the less fried route. Here are a couple of my lunch plates from the Windjammer buffet.

vegan lunch on royal caribbean cruise

vegan lunch on royal caribbean cruise

Anyway, the point is that a vegan won’t starve on a Royal Caribbean cruise and you can actually put together some healthy, tasty meals. Or you can be a junk food vegan and eat cheeseless pizza and Johnny Rockets (costs extra) streamliners every meal. We’ve also been to some of the specialty restaurants in the past and they took care of us there too. So don’t let vegan food worries keep you from going on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Oh, and you can even find good vegan food in some of the ports. See my previous post about St. Thomas to find out about options there.  On this trip, we stopped in Cozumel which is a 45 minute water taxi ride away from Playa Del Carmen. There is so much awesome vegan food in Playa Del Carmen that I have several posts about it from a previous trip.

Our favorite was Kaxapa Factory, so we all hopped on the water taxi and headed over for Venezuelan noms. Heed my warning, the water taxi ride is pretty bumpy. I highly recommend taking Dramamine in preparation for the trip. When we got off the taxi, our first stop was a pharmacy for some aptly named Vomisin. The ride back was much easier because of it.

I was feeling traditional and went for the black bean, plantain and avocado arepa. Fabulous as always.

vegan arepa at kaxapa factory playa del carmen

While there is a Starbucks on board, extra of course but at least they have soy milk, nothing beats Ah Cacao’s espresso frappé. Three shots of espresso, ice, sugar, blend.

ah cacao espresso frappe playa del carmen

We may have cut it a little close getting back to the water taxi. Thankfully we made the last boat and got back on the ship in time.

So that’s about all I’ve got to say about eating vegan on a Royal Caribbean cruise. I’ll just leave you with this sunset as we passed down the coast of Florida.

caribbean sunset

Pumpkin Walnut Muffins for World Vegan Day

Happy World Vegan Day!

To celebrate, I’m going to share another recipe from Dough, vegan Pumpkin Walnut Muffins. This was one of our most popular muffins at the bakery and while we made it year round, it’s particularly suited to this season.  And bonus, these muffins don’t require any weird ingredients. It’s all stuff you can get at any grocery store.

vegan pumpkin walnut muffins

Pumpkin Walnut Muffins

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (or half all-purpose & half whole wheat pastry flour)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup canned pumpkin (just pumpkin, not pie filling)
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 cup oil
2 tablespoons molasses
1/2 cup chopped walnuts plus one walnut half for top of each muffin

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin tin with 12 liners.

2. Whisk together the dry ingredients, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a mixing bowl. In a another bowl, whisk together pumpkin, milk, oil, and molasses. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just mixed. Stir in chopped walnuts.

3. Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 with batter or if you have one with #12 scoop. Put a walnut half on the top of each muffin. Bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

vegan pumpkin walnut muffin closeup

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