Ardenne Farm’s Blueberry Muffins: Or, Why I Can No Longer Bake At My House.

I found out about Ardenne Farm’s products at the Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo. I listened to the representative long enough for my brain to explode: I could make vegan blueberry muffins at home. See, friends…I was raised on the blueberry muffin. You know that box mix with the crazy blueberries in a can and you add some oil and eggs and put them in muffin wrappers and then you slice each one when they’re still hot and add a pat of butter because you’re from the south and you do such things and then you eat 4 of them? Ahhhhhhh those were the days! And I thought those days were long gone.

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Enter Ardenne Farm’s Blueberry Muffin Muffin Mix. With completely natural ingredients (I’m giving you the big thumbs up, Gluten Free Flour Blend!) this package is 100% gluten free and vegan from jump. The recipe for the muffins calls for milk, oil, and eggs to be added to the mix and blueberries. Unsweetened Almond Milk? Check. Oil? Check. Vegan Eggs? Ehhhhhh well, I’ve never actually baked anything vegan that needed “eggs” before. So I ran to my trusty favorite site and searched  for a flax egg recipe. Lo and Behold: the perfect substitute to the egg! Minimalist Baker provides the key to my heart, in many ways. Search their site for all things yummy, quick, and low ingredient count.

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I was all set to go on a Friday night and soon the muffins were baking away and rising like the good universe intended. I did have to bake them longer than the recipe calls for, perhaps due to a 20 year old oven. Within mere minutes the house smelled like my childhood: doughy, hot, steaming balls of crisp-on-the-outside-but-soft-in-the-middle blueberry muffins. Basically, this was the best Friday night ever. I could barely wait to let them cool enough so that I could slice each one open and add a pat of Earth Balance butter, just like my mom does.

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Finally, I was ready to taste. The soft, gooey inside, yellowed with butter and oozing blueberries made my taste buds dance. The crisp outside filled my heart with delight. I stood there, over the sink, and jammed two muffins into my mouth before my brain could catch up. I ate three more for breakfast the next morning. I brought some to friends and then ate the rest on Sunday.  I don’t know if I’m making it quite clear, but these muffins were to me what the muffins of my childhood were: perfect, warm globes of sweet blueberry joy. Delicious, quick, simple. Now it’s a battle to not buy them every week. Check the website to see where you can buy them or snag some online!

NOT SO FINE PRINT: I was given a free box of these muffins to try, but all opinions and delicious descriptions are my own.

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A Long Weekend and a Short Trip.

First of all, is anyone watching “Broad City”? I’ve only seen a handful of episodes, but it took all the strength I had not to title this post “YASSSSS QUEEN” and do a moonwalking shimy out of here. It’s been a while since my last post and I attribute it to frequent baby freak-outs about possible future employment and basic life predicaments. But you guys don’t want to hear about that, do you? I take that silence as a giant HELL NO and so I will now talk about the most important thing of all time: FOODZ.

The crew and I were total slackers when it came to a new restaurant on the scene probably because it’s in Alpharetta: Vito’s Pizza and Ristorante. We finally set a date and made it happen. When I say that this tiny place brought THE HEAT with vegan Italian food, please trust me. When it comes to restaurants with so many vegan options, we all tend to want all the things and order too much and are too full and regret nothing. Here’s what we got:

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The menu! Check out all of the vegan items!

A delightful side salad that came with my lunch.

A delightful side salad that came with my lunch.

We HAD to share the crab cakes!

We HAD to share the crab cakes!

GARLIC ROLLS

GARLIC ROLLS

Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti

Homemade Cheesecake

Homemade Cheesecake

Here’s the deal, people. I’m gonna be super honest with you all. Have you guys been to Provino’s? The place where they serve the endless amounts of garlic rolls swimming in vats of melted butter with chunks of garlic floating? I have been so tempted by those damn rolls before that I’ve come thisclose to saying “Eh, I’ll go back to being vegan tomorrow….shhhhhhhh no one will ever know….” And now, they’re here: vegan garlic rolls that melt in your mouth and leave you weeping for more. I’m surprised a riot didn’t break out between us friends as we grabbed for the last one. The crab cakes were breathtaking and will be added to the menu soon. My baked ziti was phenomenal. Do I even need to talk about the homemade cheesecake? I didn’t think so. I wish it was sitting next to me right now.

Immediately after eating and being so full that I thought I might die a slow, yet satisfying death, I ran to the H Mart to get my dumpling fix on.

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The great thing about the H Mart is, aside from it pretty much rocking my face off, that you can buy a 50 pack of dumplings for the low price of around $5. Vegan dumplings. DUMPLINGS. I don’t know about you, but I would be tickled pink if I could only eat dumplings every single day of my life. And now I do! Oh, joyous day!

Last week, my mom and I had to make a quick run to Mobile and be surrounded by a slew of German-Alabamian family members as we celebrated the life of my mom’s uncle. It was an overnight trip; only enough time to rest a bit, eat a ton, and hug plenty.

Southern food at its finest.

Southern food at its finest.

We were both pooped when we got home. I was just alive enough to hit up the glorious Loving Hut and eat until my heart’s content:

Energy juice!

Energy juice!

Wonton soup!

Wonton soup!

Golden tofu!

Golden tofu!

Ugggghhhhhhhhh. The ways I love Loving Hut are many, but I wish I had that wonton soup in my hands at all times. Oh, and I got some cake to go because YOLO.

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I woke up early the next day to hit up some meditation at my Tibetan Buddhist Monestary. I haven’t been in FAR TOO LONG but that is changing.

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Afterwards I met a friend for lunch which equaled tacos, guac, and margaritas because that’s how Holy Taco rolls.

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Those vegan tacos were money. They had pickled radish on them! A revelation.

For dinner, I went to my friend’s house and helped them cook some vegan goodies:

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We had sauteed Brussels sprouts with onions and tofu, kidney beans with tofurkey kielbasa, and a medley of kale/edamame/tofu/sunflower seeds/hoison sauce. When I tell you all that I love people that love to eat, it’s the honest truth. We chowed down on this grub like it was our last meal and we didn’t want to share.

Fun news! I will have some product reviews coming up soon, so get those mouths ready to water. Happy Wednesday to us all, and a special shout out to all of the teachers who are finishing their school years! You guys deserve to sit on your couches for a minimum of 7-12 days and watch marathons of old school Real World.

 

Alive! Expo Review

Is it possible that I’m “expo-ed out”? Am I tired of all the goodies, the coupons, and making small talk with complete strangers? Am I just  #OVERIT when it comes to the sensation that my left arm will soon detach itself from my body because it simply cannot hold that many items at once?

No. Have we met? You all should be well aware that I will go to great lengths to be the owner of free items. For a free t-shirt, I’ve stumbled across miles of sweaty and humid terrain with blistered feet. FOR A T-SHIRT. And this expo brought the heat.

How cute is she?

How cute is she?

I went with my 17-year-old cuz because she’s a bad ass and also because, secretly, I think she’s veg-curious. Though Chik-Fil-A is her favorite food, so I have my work cut out for me. Nevertheless, she was game to see where the day lead us. We met up with my pals Holly and Aaron and let the games begin.

Saffron Road!

Saffron Road!

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!!!

I have seen Saffron Road’s frozen meals before and have never tried them because I can’t find a vegan one. BUT. They showed me that not only do they offer vegan seasoned chickpea snacks (YUM) but they also offer tasty sauce packets. Yay! They’re coming to the vegan side of the world where it’s nice and cozy and the patchouli runs like water. I’m excited to try more of their products!

CHOCOLATE ALERT

CHOCOLATE ALERT

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I was immediately sold on Pacari chocolates for many reasons: family-owned, Ecuadorian, organic, sustainable farming methods, small scale farmers. Sigh. We all were smitten with Pacari and I bought some to take home. You had no idea that lemongrass belonged in chocolate until you taste it Pacari-style.

Bearded Brothers!

Bearded Brothers!

Oh, Bearded Brothers. So chill. So awesome. I was super happy to see them there and meet them. I will be reviewing their products soon so more on them later.

All in all, it was a great Expo. There was an overwhelming amount of products versus food, but that’s cool. Bloggers were treated especially well there which made me (and my unsuspecting cuz) super happy. On to the next expo!

PlantBasedATL’s One Year Anniversary Party!

We came, we saw, we ate fried foods at 2:30 in the morning. We were there for one reason only: to dance the night away and take questionable pictures in celebration of our One Year Anniversary. After a super duper busy day, we were ready to relax and listen to music with 20 of our closest friends. PlantBasedATL has become quite the buzz in the vegan part of Atlanta; from bringing Cowspiracy to town to starting a successful book club and holding our first ThanksLiving event. We’ve eaten our way across this glorious town with gusto. And we wanted to share the love with our tried and true homies.

Balloons floated across the dance floor as we munched on fruit, hummus, and homemade curried rice. Michael Jackson or Prince or Britney Spears made us boogie late into the night (morning?) and we truly celebrated what we had built: community. PlantBasedATL is not just about the food (it sort of is), but it’s also about the connections we make along the way. From local restaurants offering healthy foods to the community giving donations for Full Circle Farm Sanctuary, we have tried to bridge the gap and make lasting relationships. And this deserves celebrating!

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Here comes trouble.

Krista is now 100% vegan! Congrats to her!

Krista is now 100% vegan! Congrats to her!

Can you tell I was sweating in this picture?

Can you tell I was sweating in this picture?

Meghan + Daniel!

Meghan + Daniel!

The late night crew.

The late night crew.

Mistakes were made at 2:30 in the morning.

Mistakes were made at 2:30 in the morning.

If you didn’t make it to our anniversary party, fear not. We have many many MANY more fun things in store!

PlantBasedATL Meetup: Desta

The following words can properly describe our experience at Desta for the PlantBasedATL Meetup:

Delicious. Amazing. Fresh. Quick. Wonderful. Full. Fun. Tremendous. Flavor. Awe. Sunshine. Smiling. Community. Inspiring.

Basically, you should have been there. The service was on point, the weather was glorious, the staff was welcoming, and the food….oh, the food. My mouth just started watering thinking about the food. Do me a favor, will you? Because we’re friends? When you drive to Desta today on your way home from work, sit on the patio and order the Vegetarian Platter. You too will soon eat like a queen:

WHAT.

WHAT.

Not to worry, they will keep the injera coming:

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I legitimately just wiped drool away from my mouth. Don’t forget about the sambusa:

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These are Ethiopian spring rolls filled with lentils and spices and fairy dust and hopes and dreams. Dip them into that special spicy red sauce if you dare.

We had such a great time that no one wanted to leave. I had the bright idea to stay long enough to get hungry again just so that I could order the platter a second time, but it was not to be (also I’m pretty sure Desta does not recommend this).

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HEY QUEEN

HEY QUEEN

Book Club represent!

Book Club represent!

New friends!

New friends!

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Did you see all the platters ordered? Do you see all of the smiling faces? Desta, eating with my hands has never felt so right. We will be back!