Vegan Carrot Cake Bars

Snacks | August 26, 2014 | By

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TWO MORE DAYS. I’ve been counting down the days until our little gang makes our way to New York and reunites with Hailey. And now, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Hailey planned our NYC eating itinerary over a month before she officially became a resident. That means she planned our restaurant list TWO MONTHS IN ADVANCE.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m beyond excited; I’ve already perused each restaurant’s menu countless times and know exactly what I’ll be ordering.

As a way to hopefully prevent some of the damage I’m sure to do against my waistline, I’m doing a make-shift “master cleanse” this week. (I have a protein smoothie for breakfast, master cleanse for lunch, and a salad topped with lean protein for dinner). I’m currently on day two of this “cleanse,” and honestly, the only thing that keeps me from raiding the candy dispensers at work is thoughts of the lobster egg benedict at Jane Restaurant brunch.

I made these carrot cake bars over the weekend as a healthy alternative for my ever-present sweet tooth. Since I’m not a fan of carrots and dislike dates, you would think that I would hate these bars; but, I actually really enjoyed them. The best part? They are vegan! Just remember to pit your dates before you blend the ingredients, or you might end up with a “pit”iful toothache. 😉

Cheers!

carrotcakebarVegan Carrot Cake Bars

1 Cup of Almonds

1/2 Cup of Shredded Carrot

1/3 Cup of Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

1/4 Cup of Raisins

10 Pitted Dates

3 Tbsp. of Honey

Directions:

Place almonds into a high-powered blender and blend until it reaches a crumbly consistency. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until mixed. Press mixture into the bottom of a lined, 9-inch pan and chill for at least an hour. Cut, and wrap bars.

Makes 6-8 servings.

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“Mexican Hot Chocolate” Smoothie

Drinks | August 21, 2014 | By

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 This is my first time “cooking” in my NYC apartment! Yes, I’m using the term lightly. The past few weeks have been a whirlwind, and I am embarrassed to say I have yet to use the oven. The convenience of dinner options is just way too crazy, but I am planning on forcing myself to cook once in awhile once things settle down. The good news about my NYC apartment is that I have an amazing outdoor patio space (see photo at the bottom!) which means the natural light and settings available for my photography are even better than I had in LA. Yes, I’m very lucky…such a patio is unheard of in this city.

This smoothie recipe is one of my favorites, and it’s packed full of protein and quite healthy. I’ve always loved a good chocolate-cinnamon combination, and this smoothie, or you may even call it a healthy milkshake, is good enough to eat for breakfast (or dinner?). It’s got pure cacao powder, greek yogurt, banana, peanut butter and almond milk–all guilt-free ingredients, so drink up!

Also, guess what?! A La Main will officially be reunited in precisely ONE WEEK! Yes, Cathy and the gang are coming to visit me in NYC for Labor Day Weekend. And you can bet there will be plenty of cooking eating throughout the weekend! I can’t wait to take my friends to some awesome spots I’ve discovered in my neighborhood, as well as explore some new places. Stay tuned!

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Mexican Hot Chocolate Inspired Smoothie 

1 Banana, frozen

1/2 Cup of Non-fat Greek Yogurt

1/4 Cup of Almond Milk

1 1/2 Tbsp of Peanut Butter

2 Tbsp of Raw Cacao Powder

1 Tsp of Cinnamon

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together in a blender and enjoy.

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Spiked Arnold Palmer

Drinks | August 19, 2014 | By

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In honor of National Lemonade Day (technically tomorrow, August 20th), we’ve decided to present to you, the boozier cousin of the Arnold Palmer. But before we get the the refreshing cocktail, I thought I would share some interesting tidbits I ran across while doing my recipe research.

  •   The drink’s named after the American golfer, Arnold Palmer. The drink supposedly got it’s name when Palmer ordered a tea/lemonade mocktail at the 1960s U.S. Open. A woman nearby saw the drink and told her waiter, “I’ll have the Palmer drink.”
  • There’s no strict lemonade to tea ratio, though most restaurants use a half and half combination.

And some fun facts on lemons to make you day a little brighter.

  • Since lemons are high in vitamin C, sailors used them as a way to prevent scurvy, a disease that causes achy joints, loose teeth and bleeding gums. According to Sunkist, to this day, the British Navy requires ships to carry enough lemons for sailors to have one ounce of juice a day.
  • Lemons are multi-duty. Not only do they taste good, they act as pretty powerful natural cleaners. According to Cooking Light, the juice can brighten aluminum, the rind (dipped in salt) acts as an abrasive scrubber and the “leftovers” can be used as a sink disposal deodorizer. Now, that’s what I call your money’s worth.
  • Lemon trees produce fruit all year, meaning any day can be a Palmer day.

One of my coworkers said the other day, “you know you’ve made it when they make a non-alcoholic drink after you.” I’ll counter, a little bit of vodka never hurt anybody…especially when it looks like this!

Cheers!

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Spiked Arnold Palmer

3 Cups of Trader Joe’s Organic Lemonade

6-7 Black Tea Bags

3 Cups of Water

1 1/2 Cups of Vodka

Mint

Oranges

Lemons

Directions:

Boil water and steep tea bags until tea is almost cool. Mix lemonade, tea and vodka. Add wedges of orange and lemon and garnish with mint.

Makes 6-8 servings.

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A Taste of NYC: ABC Cocina

A Taste Of | August 14, 2014 | By

ABC Cocina

My Dad had to be in NYC all this week for work, so my Mom decided to come out to NYC too for the whole week. At first I said: fantastic! I can get started on so many of the restaurants I’ve been dying to try, since they are here for a total of 6 nights. Today marks night 5, and let me tell you…I’m starting to get a little sick of eating out, to my surprise. We’ve eaten at some great places so far (yes, reviews to come), but perhaps our favorite dinner has been ABC Cocina.

I told my Dad I wanted to eat at ABC Kitchen, but he got confused and made a reservation at the wrong place (although same chef). What a serendipitous mistake, as it turns out Cocina has moved to the top slots on my family’s NYC restaurant list. The food is tapas style, with unique Mexican, Spanish and contemporary flavors and often odd combinations. We took a look at the menu and decided out of the 30 or so listings there were maybe two things we weren’t too keen on. This is definitely one of the few places I might come back to sooner than later purely because you could have an entirely different meal.

Our reservation wasn’t until 9:30, but we were starving so we headed over early to see if our table was ready. We ended up sitting at the bar for half an hour, and ordered the most delicious mango sangria. It was pretty sweet, but very refreshing on a warm NYC summer night. Once we were sat, we immediately order the sweet pea guacamole. Now, I’m an avocado FREAK…i could eat them all day everyday. But this guac was outrageously good, even for a California girl with high standards. All in all, this place is definitely a MUST if you come to NYC.

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ABC Cocina

38 East 19th St., New York, NY 10003

What to Order:

Drink: Mango Sangria

Main: Sweet pea guacamole, shrimp with sizzling garlic and chili oil, gooey spicy ham and cheese fritters, crispy fish tacos, savory glazed short rib tacos, market string beans, maitake mushrooms, arroz con pollo

Dessert: We were too full for dessert however the waitress gave us a bag of cookies to go! The dulce de leche was amazing.
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Honey-Roasted Grapes

Sides & Starters | August 12, 2014 | By

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I spent this weekend in the seaside town of Cambria. While I love the city life, after the last few weeks of hustle and bustle, I was looking forward to some much-needed R&R and mother-daughter bonding. With the exception of waking up at 6 AM on a Saturday, the weekend was perfect. The combination of weather, sights, food and company proved the best way to press the “reset” button.

Main Street was exactly what one would expect of a small coastal town: full of picturesque shops and quaint restaurants, and walkable from one end to the other in less than 30 minutes. That said, my favorite part of the trip was the coastal views. It’s nothing like the Los Angeles beaches, with so much more crevices, greenery, rocks and teal waters.

My mom and I had planned to bring a lunch picnic for our first meal in Cambria. So, I thought, what better time to whip up a new picnic-inspired recipe? Lately, I’ve been intrigued by some beautiful grape recipes, so I decided to test out one of my own. I hope you enjoy!

Cheers!

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Honey-Roasted Grapes

1 Bunch of Grapes, rinsed

Rosemary

Olive Oil

Honey

Salt & Pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove your rinsed grapes from the stem and place on a baking sheet with high sides. Drizzle with rosemary, olive oil, honey and a dash of salt and pepper. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until grapes are slightly soft. Serve with cheese and crackers. (I served on a gluten-free seed cracker topped with fresh goat cheese and honey-roasted grapes).

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My petite mother. Isn’t she cute?

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