Homemade Arepas with Refried Beans and Cheese

I can honestly say that adopting a plant-based diet has opened me up to a love of cooking, and to so many new cuisines and styles of cooking. I used to just stick with the same meals over and over again, mostly pasta (because it was fast and easy). Now, I don’t mind spending the extra time in the kitchen to make something healthy, delicious, AND beautiful!

I’ve had arepas before, but I have never made them myself. Arepas are flatbreads that are made out of ground maize dough. I’ve had them with Colombian food, but I found out that they are also a staple in Venezuela – in both countries, they are eaten almost every day! They are actually SUPER EASY to make at home. All you need is a bag of this awsomeness:

masarepa

I use the white variety, but there is also a yellow version. I found mine in the Spanish section of the Bottom Dollar grocery store. I’ve seen it in the Spanish section of most grocery stores, so it should be pretty easy to find. It’s also only a couple of dollars for a big bag! To make the dough, you mix the masarepa with water and a bit of salt until it sticks together and isn’t flaking apart. It needs to be firm and not too moist.

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Let the dough sit for 5 minutes or so while you heat up a pan (I use Earth Balance instead of oil), then break off a bit of dough and create a flat patty. I prefer mine on the thinner, smaller side but some arepas are made much larger. I heat them in the pan until they begin to brown on each side. They aren’t the prettiest, but I top them with all sorts of yummy, so it really doesn’t matter!

 

Not the prettiest, but they sure are tasty!

Not the prettiest, but they sure are tasty!

As soon as I took these out of the pan (and took the picture), I put a piece of Follow Your Heart mozzarella cheese on top to soften up, then added a scoop of refried beans (make sure you get the vegetarian refried beans – the regular ones contain lard), some tomatoes, red onion, avocado and cilantro. The end product was looked like this:

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The coolest thing about these guys is that they are totally customizable – add whatever you are feeling at the moment! I’ve made these for both breakfast and dinner. They are also really easy to eat and would be great at parties!

Homemade Arepas with Refried Beans and Cheese
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6 patties
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups of Masarepa
  • 2 cups of warm water
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ of a block of vegan mozzarella, cut into squares
  • ½ can of vegetarian refried beans, heated
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • ½ cup diced vine-ripened tomato
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro for garnish
  • Earth Balance to grill arepas
Instructions
  1. Following the instructions on the package, make the arepa dough and let it sit for 5 minutes
  2. Heat a large pan on high heat, adding the Earth Balance
  3. Form the dough into patties - I make mine a bit smaller, but the size is up to you
  4. Cook the patties in the pan, turning over once they begin to brown
  5. Remove patties from pan after they have browned, and immediately add a piece of cheese to each
  6. Add a scoop of refried beans to each patty, along with a bit of onions, tomatoes, avocado and cilantro
  7. Serve while still warm!

Don’t be afraid to try new things, new tastes….you never know what you are missing until you step out of your comfort zone and experiment!

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My Favorite Things: Video Edition

With all of the time that I spend on social media (follow us on FB, IG, and Twitter!), I come across a TON of videos that I love! So, I figured….why not share them here? I love to see happy animals, people showing compassion towards others and animals, recipe/cooking videos and anything else that is awesome!

So, without further ado, my top 5 videos from this week, in no particular order:

 

1. If you have never seen happy baby goats before, you are missing out! This video is absolutely hysterical! One of the babies is a little more hyped up than the others!

2. It’s been super hot here in Philly, and I LOVE making banana ice cream! Here is a cool video that includes some awesome flavors!

3. I saw this video on the One Green Planet page. If you haven’t visited their site, they have a ton of awesome articles, videos, and recipes for a greener lifestyle. This particular video involves a very large stingray that has been injured by some fishing wire and the awesome divers that chose to help her.

4. Umm, where has this video been all my life? The easiest and coolest way to cube a watermelon in no time at all! Plus, the guy is just too adorable!

5. Last, but certainly not least, one of the happiest bunnies I have ever seen! He loves to dig and flop, but sometimes needs a little help from his human!

 

Which was your favorite video this week? Share in the comments below! 

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Overnight Oats Addiction and My Decision to Cut Sugar

 

On my never-ending journey to better myself, I decided to try to cut processed sugars out of my diet. A quick Google search will tell you just how addictive and horrible processed sugars really are for you – after reading numerous articles, I couldn’t ignore it anymore.

We all tell ourselves that we really don’t eat THAT much sugar….but I started taking a look at my everyday eating habits and I started to realize how high my intake actually was! I thought I was doing well by eating oatmeal every morning, but the packaged, flavored stuff I was inhaling two packages at a time was insanely sweet. Who doesn’t love a morning cup of coffee, right? I would have 1-2 cups a day, but would always sweeten it with vegan creamers and sugar. Those healthy power/granola/energy bars that we eat during that afternoon slump? PACKED with sugar! The one thing I have to keep telling myself is that just because it’s vegan, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy! Case and point….Oreos.

Vegan, but DEFINITELY not healthy!!

Refined sugar is linked with numerous health issues such as obesity, hypoglycemia and diabetes. Refined sugars can also contribute to lethargy, an unclear mind, acne, and severe tooth decay. Personally, I have been feeling really sluggish lately even though I have been eating more whole, unprocessed foods at meals. I have also been working towards toning my midsection, and cannot seem to make a difference no matter what I do. Those reasons, along with others, fueled my decision to begin cutting out the sugar.

I tried drinking black coffee for a few days….hated it. I wound up trading it in for green tea, or other herbal teas with no added sugars. I’m really loving the Yogi Tea brand and all of their different options. Instead of packaged oatmeal, I switched to overnight oats. Oh my vegan goodness, why did I not jump on this bandwagon YEARS ago?!?!? I have seriously been eating these almost every day for three weeks!

Overnight Oats

Last year, I tried joining the overnight oats craze and I just didn’t get into it. Almost a year later, I figured I would give it another shot since I love having oatmeal every morning. I found a simple recipe online, adapted it slightly and BAM! Hooked for life! Not only do  they take seconds to prepare, but you can make a few at a time and have breakfast for days! The chia seeds will provide you with essential Omega-3 fatty acids and the oats will give you that full, satisfied feeling that you crave from a great breakfast. The almond-coconut milk that I use has no added sugar, so I’m sticking to my goal. Plus, they are super customizable and you can add any combination of nuts/granola/fruit before you eat them for some sweetness and extra yumminess!

A mix of cherries, blueberries, almonds and walnuts has been my favorite combo so far. I change up the toppings every few days, so feel free to go wild! The best part? I’m not craving that overly sweet packaged stuff anymore. I wake up wanting my oats every morning!

Basic Overnight Oats Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
An easy and super healthy way to start your morning!
Ingredients
  • 1 ripened banana
  • ½-1 cup of non-dairy milk (I use coconut-almond milk)
  • ⅓ cup rolled oats (not the instant kind)
  • 2 TB chia seeds (white or black)
  • 1 TSP cinnamon
  • Splash of almond extract (vanilla works well, too!)
Instructions
  1. Peel your banana and use your hands to break into small pieces. Put pieces into a jar (I use wide mouth pint jars...they are the perfect size!) or a cup and use a fork to mash it.
  2. Add oats, chia seeds, cinnamon, and almond extract to the jar
  3. Add enough milk to cover the mixture in the jar. Use your fork to stir everything together, making sure that everything is evenly distributed. If you prefer yours to be a little looser, add a bit more milk.
  4. Cover and refrigerate overnight. If you don't have that long, the mixture usually sets after about an hour and a half.
  5. Add toppings and enjoy!

I would love to hear what your favorite toppings are for your overnight oats. Do you have a different recipe that you follow? Share below in the comments!

 

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My Favorite Things: Isa Does It!

I’ve decided to start a little series called “My Favorite Things” here on the blog. It’s a chance for me to showcase some of the things that make me happy, that are the most useful, and that just plain rock while also having that famous song from The Sound of Music run through my head! First up, one of my absolute FAVORITE cookbooks, Isa Does It!

 

The cookbook was written by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, the blogger behind Post Punk Kitchen and all of its amazing recipes. The book itself is hardcover, colorful, and full of amazing pictures. I love Isa’s style of writing, too…very approachable, like talking to a friend about food. The descriptions of each dish, as well as the little stories that come before some of the recipes almost always made me smile or chuckle. I also really enjoy how diverse the book is…I loved planning meals for the week, and having each night come from a different part of the world!

I can honestly say that I have never made as many recipes from a book as I have from Isa. I would recommend this to anyone that listens!!! I got mine at Barnes & Noble with a gift card for around $20, but I was able to find one on clearance at HomeGoods for $10!

Not sure if you are ready to jump on the Isa bandwagon? Check out #theisapocalypse on Instagram to see the yummy creations made by members of the Power to the Veg! FB group. Here are some of my favorites:

After seeing all of those pictures, how are you not already out buying the book?  =)

 

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The City That Never Sleeps….maybe?

My favorite picture of the night!

My favorite picture of the night!

Even though you haven’t heard much from me here on the blog, I have been working on some of the items on my 30 Before 30 list….September is coming up quickly! Plus, it was 80 degrees here in Philadelphia this weekend, and in the 20′s last night, so why not post a winter topic? One thing that I was super excited to do was to see the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center this year. I was born and raised in NY, but I have never seen the tree…crazy, right?

After a great Christmas dinner with my family on Long Island, my boyfriend surprised me and said that we were going to see the tree THAT NIGHT! What’s more perfect than seeing the lights ON Christmas night? I was beyond stoked. We left LI a little on the late side, but didn’t think twice about it. It’s NYC…the city that never sleep, right? Umm, wrong. By the time we got to the tree, they had SHUT OFF THE LIGHTS!!!

Boo!!

Boo!!

Of all nights, why would they shut off the tree on Christmas? Who knew?

Needless to say, I was disappointed, but we wanted to make the best of our trip into the city. It was FREEZING, but we took a stroll around the surrounding area and saw some awesome decorations and took some great pictures. We actually had a ton of fun, and I even got to hug a giant nutcracker!

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Even though we didn’t see the tree lit up, I was still excited to be there and to feel the holiday spirit. We will DEFINITELY try again next year!

Check out some of the awesome pictures we took:

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Meet Timmy

Long time, no type! It’s been such a busy/crazy/awesome/productive/emotional 6 months or so….but I wouldn’t trade any of it! Lots to catch up on here, but I wanted to start off with one of the best things to happen this past year….a new member of the family!

Meet Timmy!

Oh, hi!

Oh, hi!

Timmy, or Timmy Buns, came into our home as a foster. I am friends with the awesome president of the Luv-n-Bunns rescue, and I saw a picture of his fuzzy face on her site. I instantly knew I had to help him, especially after she told me his story. This sweet little guy was dumped outside to fend for himself. Animal control picked him up, along with a couple of other bunnies, but after a certain amount of time, they are put on the kill list. Timmy was on that list when Lizzy went and scooped him up! She was looking for foster families over the holiday season, and I volunteered….how could I say no to this face?

Timmy loaf

Timmy loaf

Timmy came to stay with us on December 1st, 2013. He had his own pen in the kitchen, and he and Patches got to have short meetings together. For those that don’t know, you can’t just throw two bunnies together and hope for the best….bunnies can actually be very aggressive and territorial, and can even fight to the point of seriously hurting each other. Luckily, Patches and Timmy got along really well and even started to bond.

Bunnies take selfies, too!

Bunnies take selfies, too!

When we got an email from Lizzy on New Year’s Eve asking about our intentions with Mr. Timmy Buns, we knew that we had to make him an official part of the family – we adopted him! He and Patches began living together and having the run of the house….and we started calling them Trouble and Baby Trouble! I swear, Patches is the ring leader and Timmy is her look out!

Bunny Butt

Bunny Butt

About two months ago, Timmy suffered a broken leg. He is fine – he barely realizes that anything is wrong with him! He still runs, jumps, and binkies with the best of them (if you don’t know what a bunny binky is, please Google it….you won’t regret it).

Timmy's vet calls that his "sexy leg"

Timmy’s vet calls that his “sexy leg”

I am SO GLAD that we decided to adopt Timmy. Not only are we able to give him the best life possible after the rough start that he had, but we were also able to give Miss Patches a little brother to run and play with. Having the two of them taking over the house brings nothing but happiness and laughter to anyone that witnesses their shenanigans! Even after being left on his own, Timmy loves affection and melts into a puddle of bun as soon as you start to rub his little head. Such a mush!

Bunny BFFs

Bunny BFFs

If you are planning to add a furry member to your family, please adopt…don’t shop. There are so many loving animals in rescues and shelters that have been abandoned or mistreated. By shopping at a pet store, you are making room for another animal from a breeder. Not to say that all breeders are bad, but many keep their animals in deplorable conditions. With so many animals crowding shelters and rescues, continuous breeding just adds to the overpopulation problem.

Please enjoy some of my favorite Timmy Buns pictures below!

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Vegan MoFo: Buffalo Chik’n Tender Wrap

I’ve tried a TON of different vegan meat options, and I’m honestly not a huge fan of most of them. Either the texture is weird or the taste is off….but something turns me off about them. I had just about given up when I found these guys:

I pretty much spent my entire freshman year of college living off of chicken tenders, cheese fries and ice cream (I gained the freshman 15 and then some!), so I was super excited to find a tender alternative that wouldn’t make me have to buy a new wardrobe! These little guys get super crispy in the oven and have a great texture – I usually cook them up and dip them in hot sauce, with a side of greens. I got creative one night and threw them on a wrap with some veggies and cheese….BOOM! My new favorite snack wrap was born!

Buffalo CHicken Tender Wrap

Buffalo Chik'n Tender Wrap
Author: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 wraps
 
A delicious and portable way to enjoy your chik'n tenders!
Ingredients
  • 6 Gardein Seven Grain Crispy Tenders
  • 2 spinach wraps
  • 2-3 large kale leaves (or the equivalent chopped up and de-stemmed)
  • 1 large roma tomato, sliced
  • ½-1 cup of your favorite shredded cheddar cheese (I used Daiya)
  • Frank's Red Hot sauce
Instructions
  1. Cook tenders according to directions on the package
  2. When tenders are ready, assemble wraps: layer kale, tomatoes, 3 tenders for each wrap, cheese (you want the cheese on top of the tenders so that it melts), and hot sauce.
  3. If your oven is still warm, stick the wraps in for about 3 minutes to melt the cheese even more, if that's something that you like

I’ve also made this wrap sans cheese, and it was just as tasty! Veganaise would also be an EXCELLENT addition to this deliciousness!

Enjoy!

 

 

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