Theo, Cocoa, How I Heart Thee

Sends the Green & Black’s running. (What doesn’t? I’m done with wax.)

Beats the socks off of Dagoba bars. (A veritable foe.)

Leaves Enjoy Life speechless? A must see.

Theo 70% Dark Chocolate. New bliss and new favorite.

Vegan. Gluten free. Soy Free. Fair Trade. Organic.

Q: What is your favorite chocolate brand?

source: choco pic


My Cupcake Affair

Friends, I am very excited about this post.

I am also very concerned about this post, so please know that I do actually eat healthfully. I really do. Promise.

I’m turning this post into “Picture Monday.” Cupcakes, go!

Birthday Cake cupcake - sprinkles!

Peppermint Hot Chocolate cupcake - just look at that luscious frosting...

Espresso cupcake - not as pudgly as it looks, promise

Vanilla Bean cupcake - simplicity is often bliss, and this was

Each of these photos came from The Coffee Shop. On random days, I enjoy popping into The Coffee Shop and asking if gluten free cupcakes are available. Every day there are vegan (read: dairy free) cupcake options, but gluten free versions appear on random. I think it is always worthwhile to ask. Why? Allergy friendly cupcakes on demand and locally made, no less.

Support the community – check. Support my cupcake addiction – double check. 😉

The frosting especially is worth every penny. I love that stuff. There is one issue I do think I should mention. If you order the gluten free cupcakes, I sometimes find that they are dry inside. I think this is because I get the last ones of the batch, which have sat out for longer. Real food generally lasts less than forever. Surprise, surprise.

I am in love with Cruelty Free Cupcakes. Visit The Coffee Shop, enjoy the coffee, and tweet me if you find they have gluten free options!

Q: What is the most amazing cupcake flavor you have seen or had?

A Tale of the Little Vegan Gingerbread

This weekend, as announced, I went for it. Gluten free gingerbread house or bust baby! I even found the sacred sorghum flour. Never used the stuff before. I always used oat flour as a substitute because it was easier to find. Well not this season!

On Friday I planned to bake my little heart away and begin the serious academic studies on Saturday morning. Not so. Like most of my semester, I have had constant, fresh reasons to add more to my schedule. Boo. Friday multiplied into three student meetings, an additional paper, and more meetings scheduled for Christmas break. Lame sauce. I had no time to bake a thing.

rediculous. pugs.

Saturday morning, I realized I could procrastinate postpone study until Monday since final exams mean no classes. I also found out I had three interviews for positions next semester! Good vibes to work from.

Then my dough crumbled. And crackled. And miserably failed. I did not know what I would do. Like a two year old, I threw the dough in foil, chucked it into the refrigerator, and left it. Spitefully. Who needs gingerbread! …I am so going to lose any readers I have after this.

For some reason Monday, I got spunky. I dragged it out wishfully, then plotted. Why not just pour a bunch of almond milk in? It’s not like things could get any worse! Like magic, the vegan gingerbread dough did a complete 180… but went sticky. Luckily, adding the other half of the crumbly fridge dough fixed both the stick factor and the dry factor. Saved!

From this experience, I have a few practical tips…

1) Seriously, use a silpat sheet. For the love of humanity, use a silpat. You’ll go crazy otherwise getting the shapes onto a sheet or off of a sheet without destroying the shapes.

2) Do not remove the cookie cutter before you tear away excess dough. And use a butter knife for the tricky parts. Particularly if you find sick pleasure in cramming as many cutters as possible onto the sheet. Guilty as charged, but then again, I’m an economist. I’m prone to maximizing output. Hehehe.

3) Believe in the dough. Believe and watch out for sticky. Karina low-balls the amount of almond/coconut milk in the recipe as far as my experience goes, so pour on! (that way you get cute little poombahs in the oven!)

From Karina’s lovely recipe, I managed the following: 4 regular-sized ginger people, 1 mini, four 5.5″ walls, and 24 mini cutouts! What a generous stash. I found those cookie cutters (in such fun sizes and shapes) for $5 at Michael’s. Complete STEAL.

The time it took to do all this certainly ate into study time, but I was prepared. Management materials are not so hard to memorize when you’ve written multiple class papers. Later that night, I finished reviewing, but not before I churned out one more culinary feast

…which I will tell you about in the next post! Savory, local Arizona produce plus a few key seasonings made total vegan comfort food. Perfect for the rain!

But you have to wait til next time to find out the dish’s name. 🙂

Q: What is the best part about rainy days? I love falling to sleep listening to rain.

*image source: baking bookie, pugness

Double Up Smores: Food Allergy Friendly

Curious about my whereabouts this Thanksgiving? I have been sneakily waiting for the after party (my own creation) and plotting how to rock the season sans allergies! I love you guys and want you to be super healthy and happy this season. Therefore, I am bringing you treats of all shapes and sizes, and none of which will encourage your waistline.

Tell me more! Tell me more!

How about the healthiest SMORES you’ve ever tasted and a fire to huddle around for starters? We need to show the build up, and then I’ll break down the specifics… we’re making two. (Come on, one smore SO does not cut it. Gotta get our fix!)

First, a gluten-free graham cracker that tastes just divine. Does not crumble easily, and therefore tis perfect. Compare:

GF = gluten free, DF = dairy free/casein free, SF = soy free, PF = peanut free, TNF = tree nut free. Wow. So much avoided and so yummy. You’ll notice the calories indicated, but I save my explanation for the end. Ignore for now. Instead, hooray for the Smorables’ ingredients list! It is 2 ingredients short of completely recognizable and therefore very body friendly. Points.

Next, we assemble the most important filling selection: the chocolate. I think these mini chunks taste terrific melted and even beat the usual. Once again, an ingredient list you can read. Comparison…

We have 3 squares chocolate per smore. I like a ratio of 2 parts graham to 1 part chocolate. Flambe marshmallow just bonds the two together of course. Hehe. One importance thing to notice is that Enjoy Life offers chocolate without dairy, nuts, or soy. Huge deal. Huge.

FINALLY the critical marshmallow. Your typical marshmallow is full of crazy.

And not just that crazy. You know there are crazy ingredients in them. However, a nice little switch in labels means the same great taste, the same results can be had, BUT made from natural ingredients. Marshmallows that love your bod. Is not life so good today?

Alright. A nommy set of smores for us. What about this calories business, right? Perhaps you could care less about the calories, but my calorie notes serve a purpose. Those calories indicate how much of your intake comes from that product. If the calories are majority junk, then your treats are needlessly bad for you. It’s the holidays! Let’s indulge in really good stuff. 🙂 Our waistlines can jiggle from laughter all year round since we made smores and could enjoy them too!

Q: Do you have any other ideas for using these marshmallows, grahams, or chocolate pieces? I do!

*images: Smorables, Honeymaid, graham crackers, marshmallows pink, Elyon marshmallow & cartoon, Jet Puff, smore pics, Hershey, Enjoy Life, mini chunks

24 Carrot Gold (with cookies!)

May I present the bff holding the perfect example of our topic this post. Cookies. Throughout this week, I have inhaled delicious wafts of baked, glutinous treats, drizzled with chocolate, sprinkled with bright crystals of sugar. I wanted some. So badly.

Lucky for me, I got my wish, but by complete surprise. How did my best friend manage to come across such a tantalizing cookie (and one which we both could eat)? Well, it started with an impromptu adventure Friday morning. I say adventure, because Jessica had no clue that the breakfast location I chose happened to be completely vegetarian, somewhat vegan, and partially raw vegan in its menu. If you have not already guessed, she eats meat.

Walking in, I noticed 24 Carrots‘ eclectic looks with clusters of tables, chairs, and comfy spots to lounge around. It took us a while, but we finally made up our minds and ordered off of the chalked up menu.

As we sat down near the glass windows to catch up on conversation, other guests filtered in, and picked up carry out orders. Eventually our choices arrived. I completely caved when I discovered gluten free, vegan french toast on the menu.

A yummy choice. My fork got a little cinnamony because I needed to scrape off the beautiful strawberries. Jessica unknowingly ordered a more exotic breakfast.

In-house made “eggs” and “bacon” along with kamut toast and real jam.

When the plate touched the table, everything was fine. We welcomed the arrival of brunch. However, she suddenly gave me and the “eggs” quizzical looks. Jessica could tell something was up. I explained, “it’s vegan…(another look)…no dairy, no meat.” The discovery of tofu “eggs” came at her complete surprise.

She eyed the “bacon” and tried to figure out the next mystery. “What is this then?” We believed it to be seasoned firm tofu, and I was shocked when she proclaimed it to taste just like meat. Success. She thought the Indian twist on the “eggs” tasted good and offered me a bite. A house specialty? Yes please!

I continued on, drowning my french toast treat in maple syrup while Jessica moved on to her toast. She pronounced the kamut delicious, especially with the jam. As for my french toast, I loved that it tasted just like a tangy sourdough: a strong bite of chewy flavor. Good beginnings. BUT we started this discussion with a focus on cookies, right? What about the cookies…?

Well, when I wrote to 24 Carrots, I actually mentioned my cookie craving. Yes, cookies can be a legitimate, consuming priority. To be fair, I did discover 24 Carrots searching for something healthy. I only realized after looking at the 24 Carrots website that the “raw” vegan options might actually be food allergy friendly… including ‘treats.’

So… cookies! Sasha, the owner, graciously wrote me back and offered to make something special. I was floored. It was not until I arrived with my best friend Jessica that I realized how much consideration for food allergies 24 Carrots has to offer… as well as how delicious their cookies are!

You might guess that this is a special kind of cookie, and it is. Both Jessica and I could enjoy it, because it contains no dairy, no gluten, no corn, soy, or peanuts. Dark chocolate, raw cocoa, and freshly ground almonds combine into a blissful brownie-like cookie. Noms to the delicious!

Sasha’s specially made cookie reflects more than just a kind gesture, however. It shows how she treats all her customers, including those with literal lists of allergies. Making confectioner’s sugar from scratch, corn-free, is just how far Sasha will go. Her dedication comes from personal experience.

Sasha grew up vegetarian, and in the state of Kentucky, this was no small feat. One particular school field trip left Sasha eating a bowl of tomatoes for lunch because no alternatives could be found. From that point on, Sasha decided that no one else should go through her experience, including those with food allergies. This experience and personal compassion certainly shape 24 Carrots today.

A little history: 24 Carrots opened as a juice bar, but customer demands led Sasha to offer a rotating menu. Her devotion to fresh, local food and the customers still keep her working well into late nights. Rising bread does not pound itself, you know. But that is the farm to table atmosphere and quality Sasha has served from day one and I must agree that the taste proves it. The competition for certain treats on twitter and facebook is quite amazing. Apparently, I am not the only one who has found this diamond.

I will let you know there are rumors that Sasha is working on a dark chocolate orange granola this winter. When I come back with Jessica, it’s on. Sasha focuses on making nutrition dense recipes, lower in fats, using healthy sources, with as little sugar as possible. Even more reason to take the granola and run! …but maybe back to grab a cookie first.

For more about 24 Carrots’ whereabouts or their vegan granola or story, click the blue words!

Q: What kind of breakfast do YOU like to eat? Would you ever try tofu eggs or bacon?

granola image sources: dark chocolate, pumpkin pie spice

Cupcake Confession

This is my special advertised guest. The best friend from high school. She is Jessica.

Jessica & Me

I thought we would be sharing a fabulous cupcake-a-thon with you, but here starts the confession. Actually, this whole post is a confession. Let me start with the intentions. I completely and totally intended to go to the Cupcake Love-In this weekend. I was psyched.

source: Eater AZ

I bought a ticket weeks in advance and wrote it into my calendar. A few moments of thought later, and it dawned on me. Who does not like cupcakes?? I immediately messaged my best friend Jessica on Facebook. I told her she needed to drive up from the University of Arizona to come join me. After all, there were vegan vendors like 24 Carrots and Cruelty-Free Cupcakes. Lactose-intolerance? No problems. Vegans avoid all that stuff anyway. Score for cupcakes, score for the moo moos.

source: Vintage Vagrant

Well, the 2nd Annual Cupcake Love-In sold out. (YAY) …aaaand I ditched it.

Sunday morning I found out Jessica did not have a ticket and could not get in. This would not work. Instead of hiking it over to schmooze those cupcakes, I let the world know my Economics major actually means something has taken over my life. A charity ticket is a sunk cost. Quality time with Jessica? Economically speaking, priceless! (Confession: Attendee Fail and Nerd at Heart.)

source: we heart it

Do not worry though, we ate cupcakes anyway! Actually, we went all the way up to Scottsdale to enjoy some catch-up conversation over coffee and shopping. You may judge us, be we consider cupcakes and coffee to be the breakfast of weekends. This is, of course, why we are such good friends.

Final Confession: They were not local. Not by a long shot. And speaking of which, that is what topped my cupcake. A shot of frosting. There, the truth is known. I fess! I fess!

I want to make it up to you though. I need some local business inspiration. And for that, a vote is necessary.

Where should I go this weekend to photograph some scrumptious (cough *nutritious* cough) breakfast from local restaurants? Where do YOU go for a tasty morning meal?

Comment away!


When life gives you a morning to sleep in, what better way to go about it then making a delicious breakfast?

…these happen to be gluten free (with GF cornmeal)…

…these happen to be vegan….

And the best part?

The bottom pancake absorbs maple syrup.

Nom nom local delicious.