Vegan French Toast Bake

Fall is in full swing here in Wisconsin. With a chill in the air and the leaves changing color, it reminds me of cozy Saturday mornings inside by the fire place in my parent’s house. My parents are both amazing cooks. Since going vegan, I have been trying to convert their delicious meals into their vegan sister dishes. Today I have for you a family  favorite Vegan. French. Toast. Bake. Talk about all the fall feels. BESIDES, WHO DOESN’T LOVE FRENCH TOAST?! Enjoy this easy recipe for you and your family. This recipe can be made gluten free by using gluten free bread.

Vegan French Toast Bake

Ingredients:

  • 3 c. almond milk
  • 2 tsp. maple syrup
  • 2 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground clove
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar packed (organic to ensure it’s vegan)
  • 1/2 c. vegan “buttermilk”
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. chia seeds ground
  • 1 loaf vegan day-old vegan bread (I used a vegan sourdough)
  • 2 tbsp. vegan butter

I have talked about the vegan “buttermilk” in my lemon blueberry muffin-top recipe found here. But-for a refresher, whisk 1/2 cup of almond milk with 2 tsp. of apple cider vinegar and let sit for 5-10 minutes. The vinegar will cause the almond milk to slightly curdle, and make the buttermilk.

  1. Pre-Heat oven to 350°.
  2. Cut the loaf of bread into 3/4 or 1 inch pieces. Place in large bowl for later.
  3. In a smaller bowl mix together 1/2 cup almond milk with 2 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Put aside.
  4. Take 1 1/2 tablespoons of chia seeds, and grind them. I used a coffee grinder
  5. In a large mixing bowl combine: almond milk, maple syrup, ground cinnamon, ground clove, ground nutmeg, vanilla extract, brown sugar, ground chia seeds, and vegan buttermilk.

    Chopped Chia Seeds
    Chopped Chia Seeds
  6. Pour 1/3 of the liquid mixture over the bread, and carefully mix. Repeat until the liquid mixture is combined into the bread.
  7. Grease a 9×13 baking dish. Add the bread and liquid mixture into the baking dish.
  8. Chop the 2 tablespoons of vegan butter, and place sporadically over the top.

    Chopped Butter on top French Toast Bake
    Place chopped butter on top the French Toast Bake
  9. Bake covered for 35-40 minutes
  10. Bake uncovered for another 15 minutes.
  11. Top with candied pecans and pure maple syrup.

Serves 6-8

BUT WAIT! 

If you need a recipe for candied pecans, look no further!

Candied Pecans

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. vegan butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (organic to ensure it is vegan)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat
  2. Add vegan butter to the skillet, and wait until you see bubbles start to form
  3. Toast pecans for 2-3 minutes in the skillet
  4. Add brown sugar
  5. Stir continuously until the sugar melts
  6. Remove from heat, and cool on a baking sheet

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did.

Love, Liv

Zero-Waste Moving

Wow. Summer this year seemed to fly past. Among all the craziness of summer winding down, my husband and I spontaneously moved. We did not plan on moving this quickly, but it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Long story short, we wanted to move with as little environmental impact as possible. At first this seemed like an impossible task, but with a little persistence, it was manageable. Here are some of the tips and tricks we learned:

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1.) Reuse bins and boxes. We asked to borrow several friends moving bins. We also reached out to local stores to get a few extra boxes. They were free, and the stores were happy to give them to us. Pro-tip: use your suit cases to move books. Books are heavy, and the suit case makes them easier to move.

2.) Unload as you go. Now, this might seem like common sense, but I have always packed everything up and moved in one day. This time around, my husband and I  did not have that option. Instead, we would pack up as many bins that would fit in our vehicles, take them to the new place, unload, and repeat the next day. In the long run, it required less moving materials. Plus, our new place is right down the road from where we work; so, we did not add any extra fuel emissions.

3.) Get creative with packing material. You don’t need bubble wrap, or other packing material. YOU ALREADY HAVE IT! Put down the bubble wrap. Now, step away. Use your sweatshirts, other clothing items, towels, scarves, really anything fabric, to pack away valuables. I found, we could fit 3 plates per 1 sweatshirt. We used blankets to wrap small decorations. Use sham covers to move your extra blankets and pillow cases. Get creative. You already have all the packing material you need. Plus the stuff you have is free.

4.) Pack lunches/snacks. Bring a box with a few plates, eating utensils,  and a way to wash your dishes in one of the first boxes you unpack. This way, you have all you need to eat at your new place  Plus, packing your own food helps you save money during the process, and cuts down on your waste.  BRING YOUR REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE. That is just a pro-tip for life.

5.) Donate. Donate. Donate. Nothing makes you feel more like a hoarder than trying to downsize. Have a “donate box” in every room. Get yo’ self that tax deduction! Pro-tip: get some friends together and organize a clothing swap. You can bring your old, unwanted clothes, and get new-to-you stuff for free! Donate the unwanted items after the event.

BONUS TIP: Save ripped, old jeans to make a rug for your new home. That will be featured in one of my up coming blogs. So, stay tuned.

Anyways, I hope this was helpful, and your moving is quick and painless.

 

Love, Liv

Lemon Blueberry Muffin Tops

Guys. It is that wonderful time of the year when we get fresh blueberries. I love blueberries. Plus, I am sure as most of you know they are little bombs of health. So, you can justify eating the entire batch of muffin tops for the sake of health. Just kidding. Please don’t do that.

Homemaking

I made this recipe with Namaste gluten-free flour. This is one of the best gluten free flours I have used. It is a cup-for-cup switch, and it is comparable in price to other sprouted flours. My sister-in-law recommended the brand to me, and I would suggest it to anyone that is gluten intolerant or just looking to eat more gluten free items.

Glazed Muffin Tops

Let’s Get Baking!

Ingredients:

For Crumb Topping

  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Namaste Gluten Free Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Vegan Butter

For Muffin Tops:

  • 2 1/2 cup Namaste Gluten Free Flour
  • 1/4 cup Organic Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • Zest from one Lemon
  • 1/3 cup Applesauce
  • 1 1/2 cups Non-Dairy Creamer-Original Flavor
  • 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1/2 cup melted Coconut Oil
  • 2 cups Blueberries

For Glaze

  • 2 cups Organic Powdered Sugar
  • Juice from one Lemon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Coat muffin top pan with vegan butter or coconut oil. I used a mini muffin top pan.
  2. Mix crumb ingredients together in a small bowl. Using a fork or a pastry cutter will work best. Mix until the ingredients come together. Set aside for later.
  3. In a large bowl, combine together: flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest.
  4. In a small bowl combine, whisk together non-dairy creamer and apple cider vinegar. This makes a vegan buttermilk.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the vegan buttermilk, applesauce, coconut oil, and vanilla.
  6. Combine wet mixture with the dry ingredients. Stir just enough to combine all the ingredients. Fold in blueberries. Do not over mix the batter, or it will break in the oven. Be gentle with the blueberries because you want them to stay intact.
  7. Fill muffin top pan. Top each muffin top with some of the crumb topping previously made.
  8. Bake 25-30 minutes. Keep an eye on them, the baking time will depend on your oven.
  9. While the muffin tops are baking, make your glaze. Whisk powdered sugar and lemon juice together.
  10. Remove the muffin tops from the oven, and let cool. Lightly drizzle each muffin top with the glaze.
Mixed Batter
Do not over mix, or the batter will break in the oven

I hope you all enjoy these just as much as I have!

Love, Liv

Tex-Mex Caviar

Summer is almost here. I love light snacks for the summer. More importantly, I love recipes that you can make ahead in big batches. This is a simple, light recipe that packs a punch of flavor.

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Ingredients

  • 1 c. cherry tomatoes-quartered
  • 2 diced avocados
  • 1/2 minced white onion
  • 2 jalapenos
  • 10 oz. corn
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 limes
  • Salt

 

With the summer coming, I love the fresh ingredients readily available. The vibrant colors help to make people fall in love with this dip when they first lay eyes on it!

  1. Combine all ingredients
  2. Zest Limes
  3. Add Lime juice
  4. Add Salt
  5. Enjoy!

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You can eat this as a dip, eat it on some tacos, anyway you like it!

Love, Liv

 

DIY Dishwasher Detergent

I like to eat off clean plates, I mean who doesn’t? Unfortunately, many of the cleaners we put in our dishwasher are more toxic than the stuck on food we are trying to remove. So, if you want a non-toxic alternative to your dishwasher detergent, give these a try.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. Baking SodaIngredientsjpg
  • 1/2 c. Washing Soda
  • 1/4 c. Citric Acid
  • 3 tbsp. Vinegar
  • 10 drops On Guard Essential Oil.

Combine all ingredients, and press into an ice cube tray. Leave dry for 24 hours. I add a cup of vinegar into every load to help boost the cleaning power.

I really wanted to see how strong these pods are, and to see if they really work. So, one night I decided not to rinse my plates (do not do this at home), and let the food dry on them overnight. Gross, I know, but I do gross things so you don’t have to. I was shocked on how well these worked! After running the dishwasher.

All. Of. The. Plates. Were. CLEAN.

After the first wash! WHAT?! Not only do these work better than any dishwashing detergent I have ever used, they are cheaper, easy to make, and best of all, non toxic.

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Let me know how yours turn out!

Love, Liv

Composting in an Apartment

I have wanting to start composting for a while, but I live in an apartment. I always thought I wouldn’t have space, or it would be really difficult. Good news for everyone: I was wrong! Composting can be done anywhere, and is way easier than you think.

First off, composting is not just letting your food rot in a container. It does take some work. You can use worms to help break down your food, but I want to figure out what I am doing; otherwise, we might have a worm massacre on our hands.  Instead I used some news paper. Newspaper breaks down really easily, and gets the process going.

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I decided to use a standard 5 gallon bucket to start, I figured I can always go up in size. I normally cook for two people. So far, the 5 gallon bucket is a perfect size for the amount of compostable waste my husband and I produce. You will need to drill a bunch of holes all over the bucket and lid. You will want a lot of air flow through your compost bin. The more air flow the better. Air flow does not mean dry, I keep a spray bottle near my compost bucket. When I go and mix the compost, I give it a spritz if the compost is looking dry. Healthy compost should always be slightly damp.

I keep my compost bin out side under our porch. Do not keep your bin in direct sunlight. Whenever I am cooking, I grab the bin, bring it in the house, and put all my kitchen scraps in. I keep a brick on the top to help keep pests out of the bin. Get a bin that has an easy lid to remove. You will want to mix your compost every day.

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I started my compost with a few vegetable scraps that had seen better days.  You can cut the scraps down to a smaller size to make the compost process faster. Kitchen scraps are great to start composting; they will give the end result a hearty mix of carbon and nitrogen. Which is what helps makes a healthy soil. Egg shells are quick to break down, and get the composting process started. Since I am vegan, I don’t have egg shells. That is where the news paper comes in. It works very similar to the egg shells, and it breaks down quickly.

Here are a few ideas to start your compost:

  • Vegetable scraps/peels
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea
  • Dried leaves and twigs
  • Grass clippings
  • Untreated wood scraps/sawdust

Let’s talk about things not to compost:

  • Poop-just don’t do it. Poop, especially from critters, can contain organisms caring diseases, and can be transferred to whatever you use your compost on.
  • Dairy products: although they break down, when the bacteria in dairy spoils it can become toxic, and make people very sick. Because the bacteria is not being denatured, it will become toxic. Assuming you will want to use your compost in a garden, or around plants you will eat, just be safe and keep dairy out of your compost.
  • Meat, fat, bone, animal products: composting can actually preserve animal products, and attract critters to your compost.
  • Glossy paper: unlike news paper, glossy paper does not break down, and will remain in your compost.
  • Plants treated with pesticides: the pesticides will not break down, and will transfer to your compost.
  • Metal, tin, plastic: Things that are not biodegradable

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Happy Composting!

 

Love, Liv

Grow Your Own Kombucha

Kombucha. What is it? Can you grow it at home? Let’s find out!

First off, let’s talk about kombucha. You have probably have seen it in a grocery or heath food store. Kombucha is a probiotic that you can drink. Probiotics help replace the healthy bacteria in your intestines. Scoby gives kombucha the healthy probiotic power. For anyone who doesn’t know: scoby is the big snot looking thing that hangs out in the kombucha. Scoby is an acronym that stands for: Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. Basically, scoby feeds on sugar to turn tea into kombucha. (Because Kombucha is fermented, which means there is trace amounts of alcohol in the drink).

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Yes. You can make it at home. It is under $4.00 for your starter batch, and under $1.00 for any following batches.You will need a few things before you begin:

I use a 1 gallon glass jar to start my kombucha. You can find one here. Because your scoby is developing in this batch, it will not produce a large batch for a few months. You will eventually need a 2 gallon glass jar. You always need to keep kombucha in a glass jar. Once you have processed your first batch, you will need glass containers to hold the freshly processed kombucha. (Old wine bottles or coffee syrup containers work really well for this). Or you can get these nifty storage jars here.

Few disclaimers here: I use regular, organic black tea, which has caffeine. Thus, there will be trace amounts of caffeine in the processed kombucha. If you need a caffeine free option, purchase a caffeine free tea. Also, as we discussed, kombucha is fermented. So, where will trace amounts of alcohol in the processed komucha. And by trace, I mean .05% on average.

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You can either purchase a scoby online, or you can grow your own from a store bought kombucha. You can purchase any brand of kombucha, you will want original flavor. Look and find the bottle with the most amount of scoby you can find. But make sure it is ORIGINAL flavor.

You will want the original flavor because flavoring changes the scoby. If you want to add a flavor to your kombucha-NEVER ADD IT TO THE BATCH. You always add it after processing. Process your scoby, and add organic juice to your storage container. Let the kombucha process on your counter for 2-3 more days, then move it to the fridge.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Original flavor kombucha
  • All the chunks out of the kombucha-if the store bought kombucha doesn’t have a lot of chunks do not panic, it will grow just fine.
  • 6 bags black tea
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 8 cups of water

First, you are working with a living organism here. Even if you think everything you are working with is clean- clean it again. Trust me. I normally clean all my pots, measuring cups, and utensils; then give everything a rinse with vinegar. This just helps make sure there is no soap scum or other residue left on the utensil. For maximum sanitation, leave everything air dry. If your scoby grows mold, you will be able to wipe it off. Your scoby will naturally have white spots come and go on the surface. If there is mold, you can wipe it off the surface.

If you ever question if your scoby has died or grown something funky, just throw it out and start over. A healthy scoby really does what ever it wants. Sometimes it hangs out on top, sometimes it hangs out at the bottom, sometimes it hangs out in the middle. There will be chunks on the bottom. Just let your kombucha do its own thing.

It is really simple to make your own:

  1. Clean Everything and rinse with vinegar
  2. Reserve 1 cup of your original flavor kombucha. Try to get as many chunks as you can. I strained my kombucha over a bowl. Reserved the chunks, and then reserved the cup. If you don’t have a ton of scoby bits-don’t worry, it will grow just fine.
  3. Boil water
  4. Add sugar
  5. Add tea bags
  6. Stir to combine
  7. Let water cool to room temperature. Make sure it is room temperature. If your tea is too hot, it will kill the scoby.
  8. Add your sugar/tea mixture to your glass jar.
  9. Add the cup of kombucha and chunks
  10. Let sit 4-6 weeks until your scoby grows

Store out of direct sunlight. Cover with a coffee filter. The kombucha needs to breathe, but keep the bugs out. A cheese cloth is not tight enough to keeps bugs out, and certain cloths are too tight that don’t allow the kombucha to breathe.  Secure the coffee filter to the jar. Jar rings, hair ties, rubber bands, all work great. The room temperature should stay between 62-75 degrees (Fahrenheit).

Normally, kombucha only takes 2-3 weeks to fully develop; so, this will be a really strong batch. If it is too strong, you can add some essential oils, and make a cleaner. You can find my favorite recipe here. It works as a vinegar substitute.

Move your processed kombucha to the fridge. This stops the fermentation process, and keeps the bacteria cultures alive and healthy. To make another batch, remove scoby and reserve 2 cups of fermented kombucha. Repeat steps 1-7. Let it ferment for 2-3 weeks.

Best of Luck, and let me know how yours turns out!

Love, Liv

All-Purpose Cleaning Spray

What is if your all-purpose cleaning spray? Most cleaning product containers have to be thoroughly cleaned before being recycled because they are so toxic. If you want to kick those toxins out of your home, this is the cleaner for you.

About a year ago, I cleaned my bathtub. I grabbed what everyone does to clean my tub. Bleach based products, straight bleach, and of course a “natural” cleaner. Not long after I was done with cleaning, one of my cats jumped into the tub. I started thinking about what his little paws were absorbing. So, I started really looking into the ingredients in those cleaners under my kitchen sink. It. Was. Disgusting. I was at a loss for words.

Most environmental experts estimate the average house hold has 62 toxic chemicals in their home. 62. We think we are “cleaning” out homes, but end up spreading toxins that are even worse for our bodies. Household cleaning products can include any amount of toxins because big corporations can re-name them as “antibacterial” or “fragrance” without having to disclose the actual ingredients in the product. There are potential neurotoxins in your home; potential endocrine disruptors, and a laundry list of other potential carcinogens. We think of our homes as a safe place where we can relax after a long day, but the things we are using to clean our homes with should have us running for the hills.

I was fed up. I didn’t want to introduce anymore toxins to myself, my husband, or my adorable fur babies. Enough was enough.

This cleaner has replaced EVERYTHING that I previously used for cleaning my home. It cleans everything from: floors, to counter tops, and leaves a streak free shine on windows or mirrors. It cost $2.78 to make (including the spray bottle). Best part, I know and can pronounce every ingredient in the cleaner. Talk about a win-win.

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. vinegar
  • 10 drops On Guard Essential Oil
  • 5 drops Wild Orange Essential Oil

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Make sure to use a stainless steel or glass container for your all-purpose cleaning spray. If you want to get your own on-guard, you can find it here.

That is it. So simple. It smells amazing. Plus, if you husband is like mine, he loves the smell, and started cleaning the house more because he loves to smell the cleaner. (No complains coming from me).

Here is how well this works:

In Wisconsin, sometimes we get 30 inches of snow in the the middle of April. So, after brushing off cars, shoveling, and crying about the weather, there can be a wet mess left on the floor from boots and outdoor apparel. That is what you see below.

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This is after using the all-purpose cleaner I made.

Seriously, this stuff is the real deal. It is amazing on any surface. Let me know how it works for you!

Love, Liv

Crock-Pot Chili

Guys, I love chili. Maybe a little too much. It is warming to the soul. And when you live in Wisconsin, you can eat it year round because winter never ends here. We are in the middle of a blizzard here in Wisconsin. Yes, you read that right. Blizzard in the middle of April.

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I love this Chili because you can set it, and forget it. Plus, it makes a large batch. So, you can freeze the left overs for an easy meal another night.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 hours
  • Total Time: 5 hours and 10 minutes
  • Serves: 8-10

Ingredients

I used all 15 ounce cans for the beans

  • 2 cans kidney beans
  • 1 can navy beans
  • 1 can great northern beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can cannellini beans
  • 1 can red beans
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 28 oz. water or vegetable broth
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 1 10 oz. bag organic frozen corn
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 large jalapeno diced
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • 3 tbsp. organic chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 3 Bay leaves (REMOVE LATER)
  • 1 tsp. cumin

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This is my favorite part:

  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. Cook on high for 5 hours (low 9 hours)

So. SIMPLE. I love recipes that you can just set and go. You can serve the chili over some quinoa or noodles. I love to top with a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Or you can add your favorite hamburger alternative too keep the meat lover in your life satisfied.

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ENJOY!

Love, Liv

Spring Quinoa

Guys! Spring is here. Unless you live in Wisconsin, where we get 12 inches of snow in April. Either way, you are wanting some spring flavors in your life-this is an amazing recipe.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Serves: 6-8

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Quinoa
  • 1 bunch Asparagus
  • 1 medium Cucumber
  • 1 bag Frozen Peas
  • 6-8 sliced Radishes

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Zest of One Lemon
  • Juice of One Lemon
  • 2 tbsp. Stone Ground Mustard
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 tbsp. Chopped Tarragon
  • 1 Shallot
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

 

  1. Rinse and strain quinoa.
  2. Combine 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water. Simmer for 12-15 minutes
  3. Remove from heat and add frozen peas.
  4. Set aside and cool for 10 minutes
  5. Combine in a small bowl olive oil, vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice, stone ground mustard, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Mix
  6. Add tarragon and shallot. 20180324_192031_HDR.jpg
  7. Add chopped asparagus, sliced radishes, and sliced cucumber to quinoa.
  8. Mix dressing and quinoa.
  9. ENJOY!

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It is a great salad warm or cold! I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I do.

Love, Liv