Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Vegan Shoe Review: JBU Nina Boots

Vegan Shoe Review!

Hello buddies! As you may know, I am a brand ambassador for Jambu's vegan line of shoes. I have been a fan of their vegan shoes for years, and I love spreading the word about all the cute vegan shoes for women that they make - everything from boots to winter shoes to sandals and sneakers. This fall, I'll be reviewing two new styles. I also have a coupon code to share so that you can save 20% off any purchase at (good only until November 25th, so get busy!)

Nina Boots

I love these stylish little low-cut boots! As you can see, they have a zip on the inner ankle, so they're easy to slip into. I like the loopy stitching and the nod to cowboy boot styling - without being overly "cowboy boots." 

They come in two colors - black (the color I chose) and brown. As you can see the black is more like a dark grey, which I actually prefer.  They come in sizes from 6-11. 

at the park

Mr Vegan Eats & Treats snapped this picture of me in my Ninas - feeling very at ease! These shoes are a little bit on the narrow side, but the more I've worn them, they've responded to the shape of my feet. I have pretty wide feet, so probably a lot of you wouldn't even notice this. I'm also a size 9, and a lot of shoes really just don't look all that cute after size 7.5... but these boots are SUPER flattering and make my feet look charmingly dainty! Sign me up! 

with the antsy pupperses!

I thought it would be cute to snap selfies with each of the pups - but as you can see, they urgently wanted to return to the critical business of sniffing and lollygagging around the park. Also, it started raining - which was unexpected! - but my feet stayed cozy and happy in my boots. The Nina Boots have memory foam insoles, which makes them so cooshy and comfy to walk in. They're a really perfect autumn boot: comfy enough for bopping around town, and classy enough for going to work, looking chic, and feeling stylish.

Pointy little boot toes, autumn leaves, and a silky doggo.

Use the coupon code VEGANTREATS19 to save 20% of any purchase at ! This coupon is good until November 25th, so get shopping! Remember, not all their shoes are vegan, so make sure you're shopping in their vegan shoes selection. Let me know if you get something!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Chai Spice Marzipan Pumpkins! Recipe!

our little Angel Stevie Wonder

Happy Halloween!

Yesterday, while I was in yoga class and should have been contemplating the union between consciousness and the material form, instead I was dreaming up a great idea: Chai Spice Marzipan Pumpkins!! 

I based this recipe on the little marzipan "Tut" or "Mulberries" that I make every year for Persian New Year (original recipe from My Persian Kitchen). They're easy and delicious, and perfect little bite-sized morsels. The Tut have almonds and sugar and rosewater in them, and they are magical. So, for these Halloween treats, I de-Persianized the tut recipe and turned them into delicious fall nuggets. I'm super proud of this recipe! Let me know if you make them! 

(Dottie broke her toe, so she has a splint on her back leg right now)

Chai Spice Marzipan Pumpkins
makes 28-30 little pumpkins

Chai Spice Mix
1/8 tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves 
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger (scant)

Mix it all together. 

Marzipan Pumpkins
1.5 cups slivered almonds
1.5 cups powdered sugar
3/4-1 tsp chai spice
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
orange food coloring
1-2 Tbsp almond meal, as needed
1/3 cup sugar
28-30 raw pistachio slivers*

Place the slivered almonds, powdered sugar, and chai spice in the bowl of a food processor and whiz it all together until quite smooth and well-blended. Obviously, the larger quantity of chai spice will give a more heavily spice flavor. Once well-ground, add in the water, food coloring, and vanilla extract. If the dough seems quite moist, add in the 1-2 Tbsp of almond meal. I almost always need to add this, as I prefer the "dough" to be a bit more stiff than loose, but it depends a bit on how the sugar and almonds mix up. The dough should be sticky, but workable, and the color should be well-incorporated. You can take it out of the food processor and stir it in a bowl to blend in the color. 

Now, put the sugar in a little bowl. Roll the dough into small little balls - about the size of a small melon ball - and then roll the balls in the sugar to coat them. Use your thumb to gently flatten them slightly into a squat pumpkin shape. Take a pistachio sliver, and poke it into the pumpkin to mimic a little stem.

Eat your tiny pumpkins! Share them with friends! 

*I just buy some raw pistachios and use a sharp knife to cut some slivers. 

Happy Halloween!
I hope you have a nice holiday!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Makin' Applesauce in the Power Outage

We have been having some crazy adventures out here... our utility has been turning off the power, in an attempt to prevent fires in this dry and windy season. I'm on board with preventing devastating fires... but it's a bit complicated because the company hasn't been able to provide clear information. This week we lost our power for 40+ hours. We knew the power outage was coming, and I was getting texts saying "click here to find out if you'll be affected." Every time I checked, I saw that we weren't going to be affected. Phew!

The first of several picks... and there are still lots more on the tree! 
So, I decided I would finally tackle the huge quantity of apples that I had picked off our apple tree, and make some applesauce. I'd already done a huge batch of dried apples, and had all those apples already picked... so I got to work peeling, cutting out the icky and rotten bits, and filling my largest giant pot with apple pieces. AND THEN... the whole house went black!! WOMP WOMP. But what choice did have, but to forge ahead!?

Pot full of apples, ready to start cookin'
Also, worst pictures ever shared on a food blog. ha ha ha ha

Equipped with my camping lantern and my headlamp, I sat there and continued preparing the apples. Fortunately we have a gas stovetop, so I could light the stove with matches and stay on task.

This is a ridiculous sideways selfie of me with my headlamp on, 
staring down into my giant pot of applesauce to get a sense of how things are cooking along! 

I've shared my applesauce recipe in an old post from years ago (here's a link), but this was certainly a new experience doing it all in the dark - boiling the empty jars and canning lids, cooking the applesauce, setting up & filling all the jars... and then popping them back in the boiling water for a 25 minute "water bath." Oh my goodness, in all I spent 4 hours in the dark, making and canning applesauce and feeling extremely determined to see this project through to its end.

we tried to take a picture... but, uh, it was too dark! 

I had already given away two jars by the time I remembered to take a picture! 
It was great to wake up in the light of the morning (still no power) and see all these beautiful jars of applesauce staring back and me. Of course, there are also still bajillions more apples also staring back at me, and supposedly more power outages on the way... so this may not be my last adventure of canning in the dark!

feeling quite pleased with myself!!

bonus black out pics! 

It was cold in the house without our heater working, and we wanted a hot breakfast... without having to open the fridge. Huzzah for oatmeal! Straight out of the pantry cupboards, and into our mouths: oats, raisins, walnuts, shredded coconut, and a dash of maple sugar. Plus, naturally enough, a sliced apple from our bounty. Oh, and hot coffee too!! 

Our little Snoopy doesn't have a thick coat of fur, and he was so cold on the mornings with no power. Poor little bebbeh. So we busted out his thick coat and soon he was all cozy again. 

Happily, we have power back (for now!), so I can blog, and take hot showers, and open the refrigerator amongst other wonderful things! Turns out that I am a fan of electricity. And applesauce.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Yummy Yoga Retreat Eats

so beautiful, right? 

Two weekends ago it was my annual Autumn Yoga Retreat. This was my third year offering this yoga retreat, and I just love it. We gather at a really sweet studio called Trails Within in a small community called Graeagle. It's about 1 hour north of Truckee, and as you can see, it's just very, very beautiful. On my last morning, I woke up early and went down to this pretty river to do my chanting practice. So peaceful. 

Dinners and Lunches! 

One thing about this retreat location is that there isn't much vegan food in this little town, so it's best if I cook and bring all my own food along for the weekend. Plus, my excellent mom came with me to my retreat this year (and last year!) So, I made food for my mom and I both. After some contemplation and consideration, I decided to make a big batch of stuffed shells, and a big batch of chili.. it was a very satisfying combo of flavors and eating experiences! 

For the Stuffed Shells, I made a great filling with tofu ricotta (tofu, miso, lemon juice, a dash of olive oil, salt and pepper), browned button mushrooms deglazed with white wine, steamed spinach, and caramelized leeks. ... with little dollops of cashew-silken tofu creme on top. And homemade tomato sauce - mostly because I had a ton of perfectly ripe tomatoes to use up before leaving town. I really cooked it down so that the flavors could intensify, and it was extremely excellent. 

The chili is the Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato Chipotle Chili recipe from Appetite for Reduction. I LOVE this recipe so much. This time around I used kabocha squash instead of sweet potato, and served the chili with a bunch of fresh avocado and a big slice of toast. This batch turned out a bit extra spicey (I think maybe the chipotle chilies in adobo sauce I bought were just spicier than usual). No worries though, it helped to warm up through and through... and also the avo and toast helped cut the burn! 

Sorry these pictures are kinda blah, but the lighting wasn't great in that little kitchen, and I was hungry. Ha ha. This wasn't really a moment for in-depth food styling... as much as it was a moment to put food in my face. 

A VERY delicious Group Dinner! 

Every year, my friend who hosts this retreat also organizes a group dinner. Last year her amazing friends catered the dinner and I was so stoked that they were willing to cater again this year.  Their food is seriously SO DELICIOUS: healthy, organic, gluten-free, and just completely up my alley. They made every thing vegan except for one non-vegan soup for those who would prefer that option. Everything else was vegan.

One of the women who attended the weekend also agreed to host the group dinner at her super beautiful home, which was so gracious and it felt so cozy to be in someone's house.

As soon as we arrived, the caterers had a big pot of hot Decaf Almond Milk Chai waiting for us. The weather was hot and sunny in the daytime and cold and icy in the night (so autumnal!), so the hot chai was a perfect idea. We all lined up for a glass of that goodness! 

The vegan options were: A huge Kale Salad with chickpea croutons and avocado, a Red Quinoa Salad with Roasted Root Veggies, and a Butternut Bisque. Holy majoley this whole meal was just exceptional. I eat a LOT of kale salad and this was one of my favorite kale salads ever! And the quinoa salad was full of roasted beets and squash, with a very nice dressing, so it was surprisingly filling. And for dessert there was a hot Apple and Cranberry Crisp with Coconut Cream on top. Mmmmmmmm. The topping was oaty and nutty and totally delicious. Why is an apple crisp such a perfect dessert? 

Birthday Breakfast! 

While we were up at the retreat, it also just happened to by my mom's birthday! Extra special! When I was planning our breakfasts for the few days we'd be there, I figured Avocado Toast was a pretty easy and eternally-satisfying bet! So I bought some really nice whole-grain sourdough bread from our local bakery, and enjoyed thick, hearty slices of avo toast every morning - complete with a squeeze of lime juice, a liberal dousing of Everything But the Bagel (homemade of course!), and nooch (for me only!). Plus fresh nectarines from the farmers' market - and coffee!! A good hot cuppa coffee is such a great thing on a cold, mountain morning. 


Usually when I travel, I bring those little Starbuck's Via Pouches along with me - they're fast and easy and they taste good. But they're also not ethically-sourced coffee, and they come in little plastic pouches that are not environmentally sound. SO, i'm super stoked about these new STEEPED coffee bags - they work just like a tea bag, but you're left with a satisfying cup of coffee that is really legit. They come in dark roast, french roast, medium roast, and light roast. 

The best thing is: Ethically-sourced, fair-trade coffee in fully biodegradable, food-grade packaging materials! You can compost the whole thing! I'm pretty stoked to have these coffees as an on-the-go and travel option that I can feel so good about.  

Cookies, OF COURSE

As I'm sure you know by now, I believe in cookies and the importance of cookies in a well-rounded life. Every time I offer a retreat, or even a day-long workshop, I always make cookies for everyone. After 2-3 hours of yoga, a hearty cookie experience is just what the doctor ordered! 

This year I made two cookies from Hannah Kaminsky's newly released "Sweet Vegan Treats"

Apricot Biscotti - these gluten-free cookies really surprised me with their BIG burst of apricot flavor! Even when they were baking, the whole house was filled with a beautiful, fruity aroma. They have an almond meal and cornmeal base - which gives a lovely substance and bite. I think I may have packed mine up a little too soon after baking, while they were still warm, so they lost their crunch, but not their excellent flavor. As you can see, I tried writing "YOGA" in the vanilla glaze on some of them, ha ha... it was only partly successful, as the glaze started to spread and drip. hee hee.

Almond Avalanche Bars - hoo baby, these little guys are RICH! Gluten-free and also refined sugar-free (maple syrup and coconut sugar are the sweeteners), these bars are dense with an almond flour base and a nearly-gooey almond butter top layer, and then topped with sliced almonds. Some almond butter is more thick and some is more liquidy, and my almond butter was pretty loose, so I added an extra handful of almond butter to the "filling" and I'm glad I did. I cut these into pretty small squares (maybe 1.5"x1.5") and that was just about perfect since they're so rich! 

I always love having some good gluten-free cookie ideas up my sleeves for situations like this, and both of these cookies were a big hit with my hungry students! 

A Group Hike!

After a weekend of lots of yoga, inquiry, connection and laughter, we end the retreat with an optional group hike at the Bear Lakes and Round Lake Loop. It's such a beautiful hike, and as you can see, we pass by 4 hikes along the way. This year the aspens were turning yellow, there was melting snow on the ground from the week before, the sun was hot, the sky was 100% clear, and the evergreens were as green as ever. It's such a nice way to end the time together, in nature, and exploring this exceptionally beautiful part of our planet. 

A little downtime!

After all the happy yogis dispersed to drive home or go back to their hotel or get back to their tent, I headed off for a very sweet and simple little hike that took me to a small lake called Sardine Lake. I found a sunny rock to lie on, where I could drink water, watch tiny fish in the lake, and do crossword puzzles in my NYT Crossword Puzzle book. A pretty great ending to a really special weekend. I'm already looking forward to going back again next year!