<![CDATA[ Faith in Plants - Blog]]>Sun, 14 Feb 2016 10:15:05 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[We've Moved!]]>Sun, 14 Feb 2016 14:20:45 GMThttp://faithinplants.weebly.com/blog/weve-movedJoin us at faithinplants.com to see our latest posts!
<![CDATA[Apartment Garden: February]]>Wed, 10 Feb 2016 10:00:01 GMThttp://faithinplants.weebly.com/blog/apartment-garden-februaryGC and I began planting our apartment garden over the weekend! Before we both began working full time, we spent a few weeks at an organic farm that is run by a professor we both had at Hopkins. This guy is awesome--he runs his own private consulting practice, wrote the organic laws for Maryland, is a professor, has an amazing farm, and is getting started bottling his own organic cider.
We learned so much from him in such a short amount of time. Like how to make peace with bees--I have always understood how much bees are needed to make the world go round, but was terrified of them after being stung multiple times when I was younger.
Anyways, I was tasked with the lavender cutting for a few days while we were there. Sounds awesome, peaceful, and calming, right? That's what I thought when I eagerly said yes! Well, as much as people love lavender, bees love it even more. So happy are they that they get a little drunk from the lavender nectar, and buzz happily while hanging out in the lavender field. It really was amazing--you could hear that their buzzing was calm and peaceful, not angry or agitated. 
I was able to grab the lavender in handfuls from the base of the plant, and gently shake it back and forth before cutting it with scissors. The bees stayed happy and simply moved to another lavender stalk. As I walked back with two big buckets full of lavender, I brought back several of my new bee friends who were content to follow the buckets a quarter mile back to the house and hang out. I finally made peace with them!

Needless to say, we  absolutely loved our time working at his farm, and it inspired us to try our hand at growing plants indoors. On our final day, he gave us a few plants to take home.
Anyways, we went to the store to get all our materials we needed for this year's garden. Unfortunately, we had a slight bug infestation problem last summer, so we wanted to start fresh with all new dirt. Luckily the bugs never actually left their pots, but since we live in an apartment I didn't feel comfortable with them all there. 

We spent an hour perusing the options. We knew we wanted organic seeds, and we knew we needed some larger pots, but beyond that anything was fair game. 
We ended up deciding on:
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Scallions
  • Bell peppers
  • Jalapeños
  • Eggplant
  • Spinach
  • Sage
We also bought:
  • 3 large, rectangular planters
  • 4 bags of organic potting soil
  • 1 hoe
  • 1 spade
  • 6 packages of seed starter trays
  • 1 large plastic tarp for the floor
Some of our seed babies
Once we were settled on everything we needed, we brought it home and got to work. We laid out the plastic tarp so our floor didn't get dirty, and brought all our old pots and materials out.  All the old dirt? Bye bye. Into the garbage it went. Farewell buggy friends, please don't return.
We then sterilized all of the old pots. I read somewhere that bug larvae and bad bacteria can live in dirty pots, so whenever you are planting something new it is 'best practice' to wash it with hot water and soap. We also gave our new pots a quick rinse to remove any residue on them.

My succulents are the only thing we are keeping from last year. I was able to get 99% of the old dirt off of their roots, so we put them into new pots with new dirt. Did you know that you can grow a new succulent from just one of the leaves? 
All of my succulent babies started from one plant I got at a farmer's market with a friend in Baltimore last year. ​So many new ones have grown! 

​We then planted the seeds into the little sprouting trays we bought, putting 3-4 seeds in each tray. I filled the trays directly in the empty pots for easier clean up, and then took them out, filled the pots with dirt, and placed the trays on top. We used the spritzer bottle to we the soil for all of them.

You're probably wondering why the last photo is covered in plastic wrap...the only place we could put the trays is right where our heating vent blows. I noticed after a few hours that the soil looked completely dry, and I had already read on the eggplant seed packet that you should cover the seeds until they germinate, so we put the plastic wrap over them to keep in moisture. Not sure how long we are going to leave this on yet, but will keep you posted!
Do you grow anything at home? I used to think that it was impossible to garden while living the city life, but it really isn't! Start with a little plant and go from there. I'll be keeping you posted on our apartment gardening adventures every month.

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<![CDATA[Miso Almond Quinoa Bowl]]>Mon, 08 Feb 2016 10:00:03 GMThttp://faithinplants.weebly.com/blog/miso-almond-quinoa-bowlThis bowl is just perfect on nights you can't decide what you want to eat. Or when you have tons of random food in your pantry and haven't been grocery shopping in a while... 

Although it looks complex, you can work on one thing at a time and it will all come together at the end. 
This is one of those dishes I love to pack up the leftovers and take to work for lunch the next days. The flavors all mesh together overnight and the bowl is even better the second day.

Plus, this bowl is packed with colors, nutrients, and love. I think you'll enjoy it!
Miso Almond Quinoa Bowl
35 minutes | serves 2-3

  • ​1 1/2 c quinoa
  • 3 c water
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 onion
  • 10 cherry tomatoes
  • 2/3 c mixed mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 avocado
  • 2/3 c sauerkraut or other greens
  • 1/2 c Miso-Almond dressing
  1. ​​Preheat oven to 400F and thinly slice the sweet potato into rounds. Layer on tray and bake for 25-30 minutes, until crispy.
  2. While sweet potatoes are baking, cook the quinoa
  3. Dice the onion, tomatoes, mushrooms, and garlic. Stir fry until the onion is translucent, about 7 minutes
  4. Slice the avocado.
  5. Make the Miso-Almond sauce (recipe follows).
  6. Once the quinoa is done cooking, fluff it with a fork. Take the sweet potatoes out of the oven.
  7. Layer all the bowl ingredients, beginning with the quinoa, and adding the veggies, sweet potatoes, greens/sauerkraut, and avocado on top. Finish by drizzling the sauce over everything. 
  8. Mix it up and enjoy!

Miso Almond Sauce
5 minutes | makes 1/2 c

  • 3 Tb organic white miso paste
  • 3 Tb organic shoyu or soy sauce
  • 1/3 c almond butter (I like crunchy)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 Tb fresh ginger
  • 3 Tb nutritional yeast
  • 2-3 Tb filtered water, to thin
  1. Blend all ingredients on high. If using crunchy almond butter, blend everything else until smooth and add the almond butter at the end, blending on low until just incorporated. Got to keep that crunch in there!

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<![CDATA[Salted Tahini Caramels]]>Sat, 06 Feb 2016 10:00:01 GMThttp://faithinplants.weebly.com/blog/salted-tahini-caramelsHello faith in plants friends! Today we have some BEAUTIFUL salted tahini caramels for a sweet but healthy dessert. Something about the cold weather always makes me want a yummy dessert after dinner. In the summertime, fruity and light foods call to me, but winter time comes and I'm all about drinking tea, making soup, and of course, the occasional sweet treat. Does this happen to any of you?
Anyways, back to these little salted caramels. These babies are cute, they melt in your mouth, and best of all? They don't use any refined sugar! That is a serious win in my book. As a general rule, I don't eat refined sugar, but still have maple syrup and raw honey in my life (and pantry!).

These caramels use dates to sweeten them, which is a nice change from regular liquid sweetener. We always try to eat whole foods whenever possible, and dates fit the bill. I love having these with some warm peppermint tea, but you could eat them for breakfast with your coffee if you wanted.

Salted Tahini Caramels
30 minutes | serves 6

1 c pitted dates
1/2 c organic tahini
2 Tb coconut oil
1 ts vanilla
1/2 ts cinnamon
1/2 ts himalayan sea salt

  1. Soak the dates in warm water until soft, about 10 minutes.
  2. Drain the water, and process the dates in a food processor until small pieces form.
  3. Add in the rest of the ingredients, except salt, and process until smooth, about 3-5 mins. My mixture eventually formed a paste and released a liquid that tasted a lot like dulce de leche--if yours does this, just smooth it out when you create the caramels. 
  4. Smooth the mixture into a bread pan and put in freezer, sprinkling salt on top.
  5. Wait until hard enough to cut into pieces and enjoy!

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<![CDATA[How to make perfect quinoa every time]]>Thu, 04 Feb 2016 10:00:01 GMThttp://faithinplants.weebly.com/blog/how-to-make-perfect-quinoa-every-timeOh, quinoa. The elusive grain that people struggle with pronouncing it, let alone cooking it. Despite these challenges, I'm here to tell you that, in fact, it is not difficult to make at all!
I've been cooking and eating quinoa for years, and always noticed I was slightly uncomfortable and would get bloated when I finished eating. This caused me to really dislike quinoa since I never felt good after eating it! I couldn't figure out what was the cause of this for the longest time, until I learned about soaking nuts and grains before using them.
Did you ever have any of those toys when you were younger that you needed to "just add water!" to let it grow? I remember I got a dehydrated 'boyfriend' for a secret Valentine gift years ago, and my friends and I all added water and watched it grow many times its size. Well, soaking nuts and grains is basically the same thing!

By soaking nuts and grains before using them, you let the seeds begin to sprout. A chemical change happens within the nuts and grains as you are soaking them--they become 'activated'. Enzyme inhibitors are present in unsoaked nuts and grains, and can inhibit digestion. This is what was causing my uncomfortable bloaty feeling!
However, once you soak them, the enzymes become activated, which makes them a lot more easily digested. For this quinoa, I try to soak the grains for 30 minutes or so before I cook them, but if you don't have time for that, even rinsing them in a metal sieve or nut milk bag can help!

Since eating them this way, I've noticed a HUGE increase in their digestibility. If you do too, I'd love to hear :)

Perfect Quinoa Recipe
20 minutes + soaking time | serves 2-3

  • 1 c quinoa
  • 1 1/2 c filtered water

  1. Pre-soak the quinoa in water for 10-30 minutes. If you are in a rush, you can rinse them until the water runs clear. 
  2. In a small sauce pot, bring your water to a boil. 
  3. Add the quinoa and cover with a lid. Put the heat on low, so the quinoa is simmering. Set a timer for 15 minutes.
  4. When the the timer rings, turn the heat off. Leave the pot on the burner with the lid on. Set a timer for 5 minutes. 
  5. Once the timer rings, fluff your quinoa with a fork and enjoy!

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<![CDATA[Can't Believe it's Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip!]]>Tue, 02 Feb 2016 10:00:04 GMThttp://faithinplants.weebly.com/blog/cant-believe-its-vegan-spinach-artichoke-dipHi my fellow Faith in Plant-ees! I shared this photo a while ago on Instagram, but it is just such a tasty dish I want to share it here! Every time I've made it, people literally cannot believe that there is no heavy cream, butter, cheese, or any of those other not so beautifying ingredients in it. Instead, it is actually a pretty healthy appetizer, and one that is sure to please your non-health nut friends.
I've made this for a party, a holiday potluck, for friends while we were in Miami, and lastly for one of our chef friends while we were home in Pennsylvania. This guy has some seriously high standards, and even he was shocked that it was actually vegan. Oh, the wonders of cashew cream :)

It comes together pretty quickly, so I recommend getting all your ingredients ready before you begin cooking anything. 

Although this calls for lots of artichokes, it really makes this app delicious and have an intense artichoke flavor. We always buy the artichokes in glass jars, as I find they taste more fresh that way.

I also use my super high powered Vitamix to make the cashew cream. If you don't have one, fear not! Simply soak the cashews in water for 1 - 6 hours before you make the cream, and they it will blend a lot smoother.

Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip
30 minutes | serves 6-8 as an app

  • 2 shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 jars artichoke hearts in water
  • 1 c organic, raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1 c water
  • 1 c vegetable stock
  • 1/3 c white wine
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 3 Tb nutritional yeast
  • 1 c organic spinach
  • 1 ts smoked paprika
  • 1 ts salt

  1. Finely mince the shallots and garlic.
  2. Make the cashew cream by blending the cashews with the water on high until smooth.
  3. Rinse and quarter the artichoke hearts.
  4. Grab a small sauce pot and fry the shallots and garlic in the oil for 3-4 minutes, or until translucent.
  5. Add in the artichoke hearts, and immediately pour in the white wine and boil for 2-3 minutes. Stir this mixture constantly as you don't want the artichokes to burn.
  6. Add in the cashew cream, vegetable stock, nutritional yeast, salt, and 3/4 ts smoked paprika. 
  7. Cook this mixture for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  8. When the mixture has been cooked and is sufficiently thick, turn the heat off and stir the spinach into the pot.
  9. Place into serving bowl and garnish with the remaining smoked paprika.

Enjoy with your favorite chips--we love the blue corn chips, but we also tried it with fresh baguette slices and that was also amazing, but a little heavier.

Let us know what you think! The Super Bowl is coming up--this could be your chance to try it out :)

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<![CDATA[Easy Everyday Salad]]>Mon, 01 Feb 2016 12:53:13 GMThttp://faithinplants.weebly.com/blog/easy-everyday-saladHello friends! Today I'm going to share with you this super easy, fast, and tasty salad dressing. I've been having this one ever since I was little, so feel free to share with any kiddos in your life!
Easy Everyday Salad
10 minutes | serves 4

  • 2 Tb balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tb extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tb raw, unfiltered honey*
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 small onion
  • 4 c organic spinach

  1. In a cup or bowl, mix the balsamic, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper until emulsified.
  2. Finely dice the onion.
  3. Marinate the onion in the salad dressing for 5 minutes (longer if you have time).
  4. Wash and dry the spinach. Right before eating, toss the salad with the onion vinaigrette mixture and enjoy!

*Unfiltered honey may cause allergies for some people. If you are sensitive to honey, you can replace this with agave or maple syrup. This is also delicious with no sweetener at all!

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<![CDATA[Sleepy Sunday]]>Mon, 01 Feb 2016 01:18:42 GMThttp://faithinplants.weebly.com/blog/sleepy-sundayHappy Sunday my friends! We've been playing chess for the past few weeks. I vaguely remember all the moves from when I was much younger, but I had quite the learning curve to keep up with since GC was in chess club back in the day! I finally won one game though :)

Have you tried Rishi tea? I usually buy their loose leaf tea but I found out that amazon sells some types online! Rishi tea is all organic and very high quality tea. I got some of their matcha tea for Christmas and have been completely loving it! It has a really nice earthy flavor.

Last night GC and I had the amazing experience of seeing the Sleeping Beauty ballet. It was incredible--so many perfectly choreographed dances. It was 3 hours long though! There were two intermissions which I was surprised about. I can't imagine being on stage for that long!

Before our big night, we cooked a nice meal. We made a mixed green salad, mushroom phyllo dough pizza, and avocado pesto pasta (our fave). Recipes for those will be coming soon! 

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<![CDATA[Vegan + Healthy Peanut Butter Cups!]]>Fri, 29 Jan 2016 22:12:16 GMThttp://faithinplants.weebly.com/blog/vegan-healthy-peanut-butter-cups
It's recipe time! These easy, delicious, and dare I say healthy peanut butter cups are pure melt in your mouth deliciousness. I promise your non-vegan friends and family will still love them.

I use organic peanut butter in this recipe. It is really important to buy peanut butter organic. Peanuts are one of the most contaminated and toxic foods out there when not handled properly, which is the reason many people recommend not eating it at all. I think if you buy high quality, organic nut butter, it is likely okay for you--in moderation, of course!
Healthy Vegan Peanut Butter Cups
30 minutes | 10-12 cups

  1. Microwave chocolate chips and coconut oil in 30 second increments until melted. Stir until smooth and pourable.
  2. Place cupcake molds into a cupcake tray, and spoon the chocolate mixture into silicon cupcake molds (I use these)  to coat the bottom.
  3. Freeze for 5 minutes, or until hard to the touch.
  4. Meanwhile, pulse coconut flakes in food processor until it forms a flour.
  5. Add in the peanut butter, maple syrup, vanilla, and sea salt to the food processor. Pulse until evenly combined.
  6. Form the peanut butter mixture into quarter sized balls. Take cupcake tray out of the freezer, and press down into the chocolate base.
  7. Re-melt the leftover chocolate and pour over the peanut butter. Carefully shake the tray back and forth to evenly coat the peanut butter.
  8. Place the tray back in the fridge/freezer for 15 minutes, or until the cups are fully hardened. When ready, take them out and pop them out of the silicon cups. Enjoy!
Try these out--and if you do, let me know how you like them!

<![CDATA[The New Year: Goals + Family Vacation Pt.2]]>Fri, 01 Jan 2016 16:06:32 GMThttp://faithinplants.weebly.com/blog/the-new-year-goals-family-vacation-pt2Well, Happy New Year!
This will be a pretty exciting one for me--GC and I are getting married this year! Sometimes I still can't believe it, but when I think about it I am just so happy! Last year we graduated, got engaged, moved to a new state, started new jobs...lots of big changes. This year will probably be more calm. 

​So, what are my resolutions for the year? I actually don't believe in resolutions since it has become almost a joke that they are always broken within a matter of weeks or months. Instead, I like to set some intentions of what I would like to focus on this upcoming year.

1. Prioritize my fitness
We're really settling into our apartment, adjusting to the working world, and finally exercising on a regular basis. GC was always good about going to the gym every day, sometimes even twice a day! But I've struggled to get the motivation to wake up at 6 am and just go! So now I am turning over a new leaf: going to bed earlier, winding down with no computer before bed, and trying to not press snooze...it has been pretty successful so far!

2. Cook at home
I already do a decent job at this, but I still buy lunch out every once in a while. This year, I want to focus on cooking 95% of my meals at home, for multiple reasons. Firstly, I feel much healthier when I eat my meals at home--eating meals out always makes me feel sluggish and not 100%. Secondly, it is cheaper! There is no reason to pay 2-3x for food I can easily make at home! I just have to keep reminding myself that :) If you want some cookbook inspiration, check out our favorite books.

3. Take time to disconnect
Technology addiction is a real thing--and I've noticed it myself. When I wake up, walk to the metro, wait in the grocery store line, etc-- I feel empty if I don't have my phone in hand. Realizing that I have this feeling is pretty disconcerting, so I am making a conscious effort to engage in the outside world, to be with the people I'm with, instead of spending my life in a black box.

4. Practice gratitude every day
Gratitude--we always hear that we should have it, but it can be so hard to maintain. I've been doing a meditation on the "Breathe" app on my phone called Gratitude, and it has been very grounding to me. It reminds me that even the little things in life deserve gratitude: running water, waking up with electricity, having a job, being close to my beautiful family. I have much to be grateful for in this life!

5. Only buy useful things
Stop buying junk! This is a big thing for me that has been a focus over the past few years. My parents' motto is to "Only buy things once". (i.e. don't buy something crappy that you know you will need to replace in a year or two or three. This goes for really anything you need). Invest in what you put in your home and life, and you will be come richer, both mentally and in your bank account, from not wasting time and money constantly replacing items! I love to look at secondhand places for beautiful furniture and other home items--things seem to be made much more sturdier in the 'olden days', and if you can find a piece of beautiful wood furniture, go for it!
Anyways, on to the celebration of the New Year! We rang in the new year up in Pennsylvania...our new home. Oh, and we got matching PJs. Can you tell we love them? :)

We had a big feast New Year's Eve. I started my day with this amazing new almond milk yogurt I found at the grocery store. If you look carefully, there is an unsweetened one by Kite Hill.  I mixed it with a mango, some raw local honey, and candied pecans. Have to say, it was a great way to start the day!

Our family's mushroom man stopped by and gave us these beauties below, and I turned them into delicious mushroom crostini + balsamic glaze, and a white wine mushroom risotto.
We also put to good use the new cookbook we got, Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen! These two recipes, the eggplant lasagna and homemade tiramisu are both from her. Even the non-vegans couldn't believe they were vegan! Great success!
What are your favorite family size meals? I find Italian always works really well for family size portions :)
Have a very happy new year!