Homemade Coconut Ash Ice Cream

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For the past couple of weeks there has been a boom on social media with black food everything. Especially Goth Ice Cream like the one they make at Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream in NYC, named Coconut Ash.

I’ve decided to jump on the trend & make my own version of Coconut Ash, by using activated charcoal instead of food coloring like other recipes online. Even though  I’d never used charcoal for anything other than face masks & teeth whitening,  I was still very excited to work on this recipe. There are so many benefits to using charcoal:  it absorbs toxins, has antibacterial properties, reduces inflammations, alleviated bloating, reduces high cholesterol & helps with digestive cleansing.

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You can easily find activated charcoal at health food stores & at some pharmacies.

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Ingredients:

14oz coconut cream

1/2 cup plant milk (soy, almond or coconut)

1/4 cup activated charcoal*

1tsp vanilla extract

Coconut flakes (optional)

Instructions:

Add all of the ingredients into a blender & blend until everything is combined.

Transfer to a large bowl (metal would be best).

Freeze for at least 5 hours or over night.

Garnish with your favorite toppings. I used vegan cacao syrup(coconut oil +cacao powder) & cacao nibs.

*please note that the more you use, the darker it’s going to be.

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Reasons to Stop (or limit) Your Dairy Consumption

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Dairy is probably one of the biggest reasons why humans should stop consuming animal products altogether, yet it’s one of the hardest to leave aside. People can stop consuming meat in one night’s sleep, but when it comes to dairy, it takes time. Why? Probably because it’s everywhere, literally 80% of the products out there contain some percentage of dairy. And sadly it’s so harmful for the body; it has been proven scientifically that dairy do more harm than good for  humans & that we don’t need it.

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Here are 10 reasons to stop consuming dairy today:

  1. Environment. Climate-warming gases like methane, emitted by milk processing, feed production & even cow’s manure are a huge concern. It was recently discovered that the high levels of green house gasses contribute to global warming.
  2. Ever wondered why it’s so hard to leave dairy consumption? The additives in dairy have an opioid effect on our brains, making it addictive.
  3. It’s packed with saturated fat & cholesterol, putting you at higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
  4. Most cows are fed with the grossest of foods: genetically-modified corn, animal products, chicken manure, pesticides & antibiotics.
  5. The calcium myth has been de-bunked. Cow’s milk calcium is poorly absorbed compared to calcium that comes out of plants.
  6. The high saturated fat content makes you bloated & creates inflammation, making weight loss 10 times harder.
  7. Acne. I’ve talked about this one before. The growth hormones injected to cows, transfer to their milk; it clogs your pores causing acne, eczema & sometimes psoriasis.
  8. We are literally the only animals on this planet that consume another’s animal milk. That’s the reason that for some people dairy doesn’t digest properly, making them bloated or sick. You’re not allergic to dairy o lactose intolerant, you’re just not a baby cow.
  9. Dairy has been linked to chronic diseases: heart disease, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, etc.
  10. Cancer. There’s this protein found in cow’s milk called casein, that has been recently been found “the most relevant cancer promoter ever”.

 

Please consider plant-based options like almond, soy, hemp or coconut milk.

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Mac & Cheese | low-fat & oil free

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This Mac & Cheese is 100% healthier, 100% kinder, but equally as delicious,  than your regular store bought  Mac & Cheese.  All you need is special combination of produce, spices & condiments that you probably already have at home. There are lots of ways to make vegan cheese sauce;  you can use cashews, butternut squash, melted vegan cheese, etc. But my favorite is this creamy Vegan Mac & Cheese that is practically made out of vegetables, making it low-fat & oil-free. It may not  be made with “real” cheese, but it sure tastes like it; while providing Vitamin C, fiber, magnesium & the right amount of carbs.

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For this Vegan Mac & Cheese recipe, I used potatoes to get the creamy texture & for the cheddar cheese color… I tried something a little bit different, something that I saw on YouTube a while back; I used…wait for it… CARROTS! Yes, carrots. Weird right? But it turned out great.

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Ingredients

12oz elbow pasta, boiled, al dente

2 medium potatoes (or a bunch of small ones like I did), peeled & chopped

2 large carrots, chopped

1 white or yellow medium onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled & chopped

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)

2 cups water

Spices to taste: salt, black pepper, paprika & parsley

green onions (optional)

Instructions

Boil together the potatoes, carrots & onion, until everything is soft and can be pierced with a fork. Remove from heat.

Transfer all of the boiled vegetables to a blender. Add in the water in small amounts; you may need more or less.

When everything is smooth & your preferred amount of thickness, add in the garlic & spices to taste. Taste test & add in extra spices if desired, if desired.

In a bowl or boiling pot, pour the cheese sauce over the pasta. Mix in the chopped green onions, until well combined.

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Serve & top with paprika & alfalfa sprouts.

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Travel Diary: Caribbean Cruise

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On June 10th, my family & I went on a Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean International. We visited four beautiful Islands in one week. Here are some of my favorite pictures.

First stop: St. Thomas. Being this our fifth time here, we decided to go straight to the closest beach. We ended up un Esmeralda beach which was less than 10 minutes away from the port.

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After an entire day of cruising, on day four we stopped at Curaçao.

We went to the Curaçao Liqueur Factory & found out that my favorite liqueur is vegan. YES the original Blue Curaçao is vegan!

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Otrabanda gave out some Netherlands vibes…

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…but somehow it still felt like I was on the Caribbean

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On the fifth day of the cruise we went to Aruba. This Island is so beautiful & the people were incredible; this was my favorite of all of the stops

This is the bus that took us around

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We visited the Ayo Rock Formation…

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… & the dreamy California Lighthouse that looks like it came out of a Wes Anderson movie.

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We also stopped by a white sand beach; Eagle Beach

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& the Marketplace that’s right next to the port.

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Lastly, we stopped by St. Kitts 12ktts

We went around in a taxi that took us to this view…

ps. find the volcano

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& to Carambola Beach on the south side of the island

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To find out more of our trip, visit my last post about the Plant-Based meals Royal Caribbean has for us non-meat eaters.

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Plant-Based While Cruising

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Food is the first thing that comes to mind when traveling; especially when cruising. There’s so much (SOOOOO MUCH)  food that’s already included in the price, making it hard to resist all of the goodness that are processed carbs, fats & sugars. But don’t’ worry, eating healthy & maintaining your lifestyle while cruising, isn’t impossible. For me, cruises are the least stressful form of travel when it comes to food; but that is if you plan ahead. Most Cruise Ship Agencies will be happy to accommodate any dietary restrictions, this is more likely on international cruise lines; they receive people from all over the world with different cultural backgrounds & eating habits.

What i did

Here’s  what I did & how I did it, on Royal Caribbean International:

  • Alert the cruise line as early as possible. I did this two weeks in advance & also made sure that I was listed as one of the plant-based travelers at check-in.
  • Bring some pre-packed snacks on board. Snack bars, pre-packed soups, chips, ect.
  • The buffet is your best friend for lunch (& sometimes breakfast). Huge salad bar, roasted potatoes, sautéed vegetables, sandwich station, veggie burgers & huge assortments of fresh fruits.
  • Bring water with you on the first day & avoid paying $2 a bottle on board.
  • If you can’t live without coffee, soy milk is available upon request in the buffet.
  • Don’t get scared with the dining room’s main menu. On the first day ask for their special menu; they made me: tofu, fried rice, baked potatoes, sweet & sour soy chicken, different styles of pasta, mushroom soup, veggie onion soup, vegan pancakes(at breakfast, & bowls of strawberries too. I didn’t eat the same thing twice.
  • Alcohol. You may want to skip the cocktails with bright colors, since they tend to be very sugary. Good news is, most beer is vegan!
  • Not food related: If you’re into exercising, take advantage of the free gym & jogging track; especially on those “at sea” days.
  • The sucky part is the lack of plant-based desserts; they only have a platter of fruits & fruit sorbet.

 


Here are some bad quality pictures (the lighting was terrible, sorry in advance) of my favorite meals on cruise:

Favorite cruise meals

 

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buffet: Salad, mushrooms, chickpeas, almonds, raspberry dressing | steamed carrots & broccoli | toasts & roasted potatoes

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dining room: pasta with pomodoro

FullSizeRender-1 buffet: veggie burger (upon request) with everything from the burger section | ketchup, mustard & sriracha

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dining room: vegetable & tofu fried rice

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dining room (breakfast): eggless pancakes with peanut butter, banana & berries

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johnny rockets: veggie burger with sauteed onions & mushrooms, lettuce, tomatoes & mustard | fries & onion rings

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dining room: veggie minestrone soup | pitta bread & hummus

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dining room: baked potato with butter | sauteed mushrooms | soy meatballs with tortilla chips

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dining room: chocolate covered strawberries


 

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Veggie & Hummus Sandwich

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If you think vegan sandwiches are boring just because they don’t have meat, think again. Sandwiches filled with veggies are not only nutritious , but they can also be very delicious. Often I get asked what I pack for lunch for a busy day at uni. Usually, I’m in a hurry, so  I take what I have leftover from the night before. But if I have a little more time in my hands, I assemble my favorite sandwich.

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Ingredients:

2 slices whole grain bread

2 spoonful hummus

2 slices veggie salami (optional)

1/4 cup spinach

1 sliced tomato

shredded carrots

salt & pepper, to taste

drizzle olive oil (optional)

Instructions

Assemble sandwich, however you like 🙂

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Pair the sandwich with some oven baked fries or chips, & I paired my with a dragon fruit smoothie.

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How to Start a Plant-Based Lifestyle

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Some of the questions that I often get are classics “Where do you get your protein?” & “What about your B-12?”, proceeded by making fun of the way that I eat because they run out of arguments. But, sometimes there are people who want to learn more & are genuinely interested; so they ask “How do I start?”. Maybe that’s one of your many questions as well, so here’s my attempt to help at your starting point.

Here are some tips on how to start a Plant-Based Lifestyle:

Meatless Mondays: Maybe eating completely Plant-Based is a bit complicated right now, but adopting a “Meatless Monday” policy is more attainable. Not consuming meat just for one day a week can be really beneficial for your health & the planet; it reduces the risk of chronic illnesses, diabetes & obesity, while reducing our carbon footprint.

Small Progressive Changes: Making drastic changes in your eating habits can be sometimes counterproductive; it all depends on the person. Some people can become vegan overnight (yes, really). But some of you are exactly like your girl here, who can’t do that. After I quit red meats, it took me almost 3 years, to stop consuming meat altogether & almost 3 years after that, I’m still trying to cut out dairy. What worked for me the best, without fallbacks, was making small changes progressively. For example: change white refined sugar for  brown sugar, then eventually stevia or coconut sugar (the best!). You can also swap your regular snacks, for fruits or other vegan options.

Water: All day, every day. Literally water with everything & as soon as you wake up in the morning. This practice helps you keep fuller longer, it cleans your skin & it’s good for digestion.

Smoothie System: When I stopped eating meat, I substituted one of my meals with a raw fruit smoothie. Usually that meal would be breakfast, & it still works for me today. Smoothies on a busy morning are fulfilling, cheap & quick. Just make sure that you consume enough, anywhere from 16oz to 32oz.

I hope this helps you start your journey (or at least think about it more)!

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