REVIEW: December Favorites

Happy New Year, everyone!!! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday (to those who celebrated) – I’m wishing each and every one of you a beautiful and healthy 2016! December was a very BUSY month for me and while I didn’t get all the blog posts up that I had hoped to, I am beyond grateful for those who kept me and my Etsy shop busy! Wow! Can’t thank you enough! I have a few products, recipes and books to share with you from last month. As always, please feel free to comment here and share any of your recent favorites!

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DECEMBER FAVORITES:

CALIFIA FARMS >> NOG and PEPPERMINT MOCHA COLD BREWED COFFEE 

Oh, my. It was love at first sip with the Peppermint Mocha – so incredibly creamy, dreamy and pretty much heavenly! We drank it as is and also used it to make a delicious chia pudding (inspired by my friends over at CiCi Kitchen). The Nog, on the other hand, took me a second glass to really fall in love with it. It’s essentially a nog flavored almond milk – I went in expecting a thick beverage like the other nogs on the market, but once I realized that, I was able to enjoy it for what it was. It’s more on the gingery side, but I LOVE ginger…and apparently, Willow does, too!

 

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COCOKIND >>

I very rarely enter giveaways, but when I saw that Margaret (@plantstrongvegan) was running a giveaway with CocoKind, I had to take a chance. Guess what?! I WON! I had been wanting to give them a try because they use ingredients that I use in my own products…which means they’re safe enough for Willow to use. All organic with ZERO additives or hidden toxic ingredients. But I have also learned that CocoKind gives back by donating proceeds to those in need (clean water, food and books to children). Definitely a company I’m happy to support. I love backing products like this because I want them to be readily available for everyone. We deserve to have more vegan, cruelty-free AND SAFE products on the store shelves. The giveaway that I won included the following:

Now, I LOVE all things coconut, so I immediately fell in love with these products. Strong coconut scent, very moisturizing and Willow approved. With it being SO cold here and our bathrooms don’t have heat, the Facial Repair Serum and Eye Firming Oil stay solid…so I have to run the bottles under hot water before use. But this is also a good sign because it’s proof that they don’t add any junk to their products and use pure, all natural ingredients! I love how everything feels, smells and it’s all very effective! CocoKind isn’t available to buy in stores here in Bend, OR…but here’s the link to see if you can purchase their products in a store near you:

http://www.cocokind.com/stores/

REVIEW: December Favorites

REVIEW: December Favorites

 

 

RECIPES WE TRIED AND LOVED:

VEGAN CUCUMBER RANCH DRESSING >> VEGETARIAN GASTRONOMY >> I have yet to try one of Anjali’s recipes that I didn’t fall in love with! This ranch was no exception. Before I went vegan, ranch was my absolute favorite dressing – I would pair it with everything from salads, raw veggies, veggie burgers, fries and more. I’ve made vegan ranch dressings before, but none have come close to this version. The flavor was spot on and the texture…amazing! Fresh, creamy and lighter than the dairy-based ranch dressings I’ve had in the past. I had to stop myself from eating it out of the jar with a spoon! We used it on tacos one night and then veggie burgers the next. I highly recommend doubling this recipe…it is that good!

REVIEW: December Favorites
Taco Tuesday featuring Anjali’s Cucumber Ranch!

OIL-FREE PUMPKIN COCONUT SUNBUTTER >> THE PLANT STRONG VEGAN >> 

I was so excited to have all the ingredients on hand to make this right away!  I realize that for most people, once December hits, pumpkin is off their radar and they move on to all things peppermint and ginger, but I couldn’t resist. The flavor combination was too tempting and as expected…absolutely DELICIOUS!! I’m somewhat embarrassed to share this photo because it doesn’t look as creamy & smooth as Margaret’s, but it tastes wonderful! I added the optional pumpkin spice and I’m so glad I did! Besides eating it right out of the jar, we’ve enjoyed it with crackers, toast and sliced apples. Hubby smeared it on Maple Cornmeal Banana Bread…see the next recipe…

REVIEW: December Favorites

 

 

MAPLE CORNMEAL BANANA BREAD >> FEASTING ON FRUIT >> 

When I saw Natalie’s post on IG about this creation, I knew it needed to be made ASAP. I fully admit that I was bummed about the use of oats, but I still made it for my family to enjoy and they LOVED it! Willow actually helped me make this and went overboard with the chopped pecan topping. It took SO much patience for her to wait for the bread to cool…I’m talking every two minutes she was begging for some. When I was finally able to cut it, she devoured two slices! Hubby loved it, too!! I may not have been able to eat it, but goodness, I sure did enjoy how wonderful our house smelled.

REVIEW: December Favorites

 

REVIEW: December Favorites

 

 

SHARP WHITE MAC AND CHEESE BAKE >> VEGGIES DON’T BITE >>

Make this now. Just do it. Literally click on the above link, run to the store and grab any missing ingredients and MAKE THIS!!!! Holy moly, the sauce is TO DIE FOR! As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sucker for any new vegan cheese sauce that surfaces, so it was a no brainer that I was going to make this. Sophia nailed the flavor of this sauce – literally perfection – and there was a whole lot of “oooohhhing” and “aaaaaahhhhhing” going on while eating it. And that crispy topping?! I could have eaten it right out of the food processor it smelled SO good! It was a wonderful addition to the mac and cheese. The sauce is loaded with good, wholesome ingredients – plenty of veggies, but you’d never know it. Makes you feel a lot less guilty going back for seconds….or thirds…don’t judge. I really wish I could have captured a better photo, but considering it gets dark way before we have dinner, this was the best I could do…I think you can see how creamy it is though!

REVIEW: December Favorites

 

VEGAN SUGAR COOKIES (Gluten-free, Oil-free) >> THE VEGAN 8 >>

PURE HEAVEN. I don’t really need to say more, but I’m going to. Easily one of the best cookies I’ve made (and eaten) in a while. I used homemade raw cashew butter, as Brandi does in the recipe, but you can use store bought, too – which will make these even simpler than they already are. These ingredients are perfection and I wouldn’t dare stray from them because I’m not kidding when I say that they’re better than any sugar cookie I’ve had before AND they’re free from all the refined junk and oil!!! WIN, WIN! The cookie dough is good enough to eat on its own and I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t eat about a full cookie’s worth before scooping them onto baking sheets…so good. Vanilla-y, sweet like a sugar cookie should be with a crispy outside and pillow-y, soft center. It took all of my willpower not to devour half the batch in a sitting. Have I convinced you to make them yet?! I hope so!

REVIEW: December Favorites

 

 

LEMON CRANBERRY & PISTACHIO CASHEW CHEESE BALL >> THE PLANT STRONG VEGAN >>

Margaret did an excellent job of luring me in to this festive creation! The pops of color from the cranberries and pistachios are beautiful!! I knew straight away that I had to add it to our Christmas Day menu. Incredibly simple to prepare and absolutely delicious!! I fell in love with the lemony tang and rich, creamy base – paired so perfectly with the cranberries and pistachios! Willow loved this, too! Her favorite way to eat this was with some gluten-free pretzels. This recipe makes a large amount and as Margaret suggested, I chose to split it into two smaller cheese balls.

REVIEW: December Favorites

 

BOOKS I’M ENJOYING:

UNCONVENTIONAL TREATS by AUDREY SNOWE >> My friend, Audrey, over at Unconventional Baker, released her ebook!! You guys! It is GOREGEOUS!!! I spent two (loooong) nights drooling over each recipe and got lured into each dreamy photo. Audrey is incredibly creative and talented in every sense of the word. Reading this book felt like I was sitting at her kitchen table chatting over a nice hot cup of tea. She explains things so perfectly and provides wonderful tips from substitutions, how-to’s, and step by step instructions. I know I will love every single one of these recipes because I’ve tried so many of Audrey’s creations from her blog. We have very similar taste preferences, not to mention the same food sensitivities, so I’ll be making my way through each recipe! Click HERE to download your copy!

REVIEW: December Favorites

 

 

YOU CAN HEAL YOUR LIFE by LOUISE HAY >> Do yourself a HUGE favor and buy this book…now. No joke, I plowed through this book in a couple of nights (stayed up waaaaaay too late reading) and felt incredibly empowered and enlightened. While reading this book, I became more aware of my thinking and where I needed to make some changes. I literally felt like a new person after finishing it and will forever keep Hay’s words very close to my heart. Your thoughts literally change your world, your life. She helped me to better understand my past history with an eating disorder, along with other health issues I battled. This book has changed so many things for me and has helped me to manifest my destiny. I’m more aware of my thinking – more mindful of how my thoughts can impact my health and well-being. I truly feel everyone should read this book as a way to kick off 2016!

REVIEW: December Favorites

 

READY PLAYER ONE by ERNEST CLINE >> This book came recommended to my by my hubby and a dear friend – so far, I’m really enjoying it! I’m only a quarter of the way through it, so I’ll give a full review when I’m finished.

 

Thanks for stopping by!