Apple Cider Vinegar- The Mother of Internal and External Health

IMG_2955.jpg

Apple Cider Vinegar- You’ve most likely seen it lingering in the dark, dusty corners of your grandmother’s pantry and paid no mind to it. Not gonna lie, it looks pretty unappealing with its orangey-brown hue and its stringy pulp (also known as “The Mother”). The smell, like most other vinegars, is extraordinarily pungent. Its no wonder why this stuff isn’t widely touted as a beauty product or yummy, fancy pantry item.

But it should be. 

Let me tell you a bit about apple cider vinegar. This bottle of goodness can be used as a simple, cost-effective, and cruelty-free remedy for essentially anything. Most of apple cider vinegar’s health benefits come from “The Mother”- the scary looking pulp that sits at the bottom of a bottle of raw, unfiltered ACV. This pulp contains live, beneficial bacteria and countless nutrients. These nutrients and bacteria are created primarily through the double fermentation of apple cider, wherein enzymes are produced and countless health benefits come to life.

Here are some notable nutrients that raw, unfiltered ACV contains:

Potassium – Potassium is responsible for maintaining regular heartbeat, lowering blood pressure, and keeping a normal fluid balance between the body’s cells.

Pectin – Pectin can help to reduce LDL cholesterol in the body.

Malic Acid and Acetic Acid – Malic acid can help the body fight off certain infections and viruses while acetic acid aids in the body’s absorption of certain minerals.

Calcium –
Calcium, as we’re all aware, helps to maintain strong teeth and bones.

Ash – Ash helps the body maintain healthy alkalinity and normal pH levels. 

Vitamin A – Vitamin A is responsible for the health and growth of many different organ systems in the body. It’s important for vision, reproduction, the heart, the liver, and the kidneys. 

Vitamins B1 + B2 + B6 – These B vitamins help the body stay energized through the absorption of different vitamins and minerals of foods we eat. Additionally, the B vitamins can promote healthy skin and hair.

Vitamin C – Vitamin C is vital in maintaining a strong immune system and strong eyesight. 

Vitamin E – Vitamin E functions mainly as an antioxidant in the body, protecting cells in the body from damage.

If the above benefits aren’t enough to convince you to add apple cider vinegar into your daily daily diet, allow me to introduce you to the beauty benefits of the stuff! Apple cider vinegar quite recently became a critical element of my beauty regime after I discovered how much it helped my skin in staying blemish-free, balanced, and supple. Apple cider vinegar contains alpha-hydroxy acid, which helps to remove dead skin. This, over time, reduces age spots and stubborn acne scars. Additionally, the malic acid in ACV fights acne and other blemishes because its a natural antibacterial agent. Lastly, ACV works to draw out toxins and clogged pores from the depths of your skin, leaving you with a balanced, clean facial glow.

When you first start using ACV on your face, you should dilute it with water until your skin gets used to its strength. I dilute 2 teaspoons of ACV with 1 teaspoon of water and apply it to my problem areas with a cotton pad. It may sting a bit at first, but your skin will become pretty resistant to the sting after a few days.

In addition to adding apple cider vinegar to your beauty regime, there are countless ways to incorporate it into your everyday diet. Below, I’ve provided a recipe for an ACV salad dressing as well as an ACV “tonic”. I strongly recommend trying these recipes out to introduce your body to the goodness of ACV- you won’t regret it!

Apple Cider Vinaigrette:

1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp + 2 tsp olive oil OR tahini
2 tbsp raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp maple syrup
sprinkle of salt + pepper
Apple Cider Vinegar Tonic:

1 apple, juiced
1/2 tbsp raw, unfiltered ACV
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp ginger juice
1 small sprinkle cayenne
1/2 tsp maple syrup

xoxo,
Lyndsey

Advertisements

The Best Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies (Vegan, GF, Flour-free)

IMG_2931.JPG

Hi everybody! It’s been a while since I’ve posted because of the craziness of life at the moment. I’m still trying to find a  heathy balance between my full-time job, social life, and personal life (including food blogging). I’m really looking to expand The Little Vegan Kitchen; I’ve considered hosting vegan potlucks in my city and launching recipe videos, but I’m still stuck ironing out logistics and learning to manage my time. However, I promise that you’ll be seeing a lot more of me lately even if it just means more frequent recipe and lifestyle posts. On the topic of lifestyle, I’m also going to be incorporating more aspects of my life into my blog including beauty and wellness so keep an eye out for some changes to the content of my blog!

Enough talk- I know you’re all eager to get to this cookie recipe. If there’s anything I crave the most, it’s cookies. I love cookies of all shapes, sizes, and flavors- snickerdoodles, gingersnaps, thumbprints, you name it. With this being said, nothing beats a good ole’ chocolate chip cookie for me. They never fail to bring me back to my childhood with their fluffy inside, gooey chocolate pockets, and crunchy, golden exterior. A good deal of chocolate chip cookies, especially those without gluten, lack these qualities and fall flat of the mark. I can say with full confidence that this recipe will yield the most gooey, indulgent, and satisfying cookies you could ever hope for. The bonus is that these little balls of goodness are cruelty-free and use only the most wholesome ingredients. I made a batch of these and took them to work and they got devoured. If you’ve got a hankering for some sweet treats, whip up a batch of these cookies and watch your world change. 🙂

Ingredients: 
(Makes about 24 small cookies)

Dry:

2.5 cups almond meal (You can make your own by grinding raw almonds in a high-speed blender until it forms a gritty meal)

1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

 

Wet:

2/3 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar (I prefer to use brown sugar for this recipe)

6 tbsp melted Earth Balance vegan butter

2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flaxseed with 5 tbsp warm water)

1 tsp vanilla extract

 

 

Method:

  1. First, preheat your oven to 375 F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and grease it with coconut oil.
  2. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed with 5 tablespoons of warm water. Mix and set aside for 10 minutes until it becomes gelatinous.
  3. Next, combine your dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, ensuring that the almond meal isn’t clumped up. (I typically use my fingers to mix the dry ingredients for this recipe because I find that I’m able to incorporate everything easier).
  4. In a separate bowl, combine your wet ingredients and add the flax egg to the bowl.
  5. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing with a spatula as you add it in. The dough should be pretty sticky and should hold together well when squeezed into balls. Using your hands, roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, place on the baking sheet, and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. These cookies won’t rise much, so you can place them pretty close together without them expanding.
  6. Place the cookies in the oven for about 8-10 minutes until the outer edges become golden brown but the middles are still squishy to the touch. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 5 days and spoil your friends and family with these little balls of magic.

 

Lemon Vanilla Lavender Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream & Toasted Coconut Garnish

13043202_10209321455182080_7047247811012602732_n

Happy Saturday, all!

So I’m not exaggerating when I say that these cupcakes were absolutely life changing. I made a dozen of these for a friend’s birthday several months back and was beyond pleased with the end result. These cupcakes are delightfully fluffy, floral, and perfect for the spring and summer seasons. The combination of tart lemon, luscious vanilla, sweet lavender, and toasted coconut is so divine. I conjured up this recipe based on what was seasonally available, so I absolutely recommend that you seek out fresh, organic lemons for optimum flavor. The lemon plays such a significant role in this recipe, so if you go out of your way to make these, make a point of ensuring that your lemons are top-notch!

These cupcakes are vegan and can easily be made gluten-free, however, I haven’t actually tried using a gluten-free flour blend with this recipe before. If you’re interested in trying a gluten-free flour blend, I’d suggest using King Arthur’s Gluten-Free Flour Blend. If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can always make your own gluten-free flour with a combination of different flours. Do a bit of research before throwing a blend together though; we all know how just one extra tablespoon of the wrong kind of flour can compromise an entire recipe. Here are a few tips for gluten-free baking from One Green Planet– it’s definitely worth a read for all you foodies and bakers out there.

In addition to seeking out fresh lemons, you should also make sure that you use good-quality lavender in this recipe. Most conventional grocery stores don’t carry high-grade culinary lavender flowers, but any specialty grocery store should carry them in bulk. I’ve cooked with lavender many times before and I’ve found that low-quality lavender leaves a bit of a soapy aftertaste, compared to high-quality lavender which adds just a bit of lovely floral bitterness.

If you’ve got any social gatherings coming up or you just feel like treating yourself to an indulgent treat, I strongly recommend that you dive into this cupcake recipe with no regrets. The complexity of flavor is definitely a game-changer for your tastebuds and I guarantee that you’ll impress your friends with these cupcakes. If you decide to give it a try, let me know how the recipe works for you and/or any substitutions you made!

Cake Ingredients: 

(Makes 24 cupcakes)

Wet:

2 1/2 cups coconut milk (I recommend this brand by Native Forest)

2 heaped tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 cups coconut sugar or cane sugar

1 cup vegan butter alternative

3 tsp vanilla extract

1 madagascar vanilla bean, scraped

2 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon zest

Dry: 

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 

3 tsp baking powder

1/2-3/4 tsp pink himalayan salt

Buttercream Frosting: 

(Ices at least 24 cupcakes)

1 cup vegan butter alternative, softened/room temperature

2 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon zest

3/4 cup desiccated coconut, sweetened

3 tsp vanilla extract

1 madagascar vanilla bean, scraped

1/4-1/2 tsp pink himalayan salt

5 cups of confectioners sugar + more as needed for thickening

Method: 

  1. First, line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Next, combine coconut milk and lemon juice in a small and whisk for at least 1 minute and set aside for at least 10 while the milk curdles. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
  3. Using a stand mixer, cream together the coconut sugar and softened vegan butter and gradually add in the vanilla extract and lemon zest. Next, add in the flour mixture in 1/2 cup increments while beating on low speed. When the flower is incorporated with the sugar/butter mixture, slowly add in the coconut milk mixture an beat on medium speed until no lumps remain in the batter. At this point, you can toss in some extras like lavender flowers or desiccated coconut.
  4. Pour batter into cupcake liners, filling them up about 3/4 of the way full. Keep in mind that these cupcakes will rise, so try to avoid overfilling them. Place in the oven for about 22 minutes until the tops are lightly-golden and the interior is cooked through.
  5. Place the cupcakes on a cooling rack and allow them to cool for at least 30 minutes before icing them.
  6. To make the icing, use a stand-mixer with a paddle to combine the softened vegan butter and the confectioners sugar. When the two are sufficiently incorporated, add in the vanilla extract, vanilla beans, lemon zest, salt, and coconut. If the mixture is too wet and moist, add in another 1/2-1 cup confectioners sugar. If the mixture is too dry, add in more earth balance until you reach a desired consistency. (You want the icing to be pretty thick so that it’ll stand up after being piped onto the cupcake).
  7. After icing your cupcakes, top cupcakes with toasted coconut, lemon zest, and a few buds of lavender flowers.

 

Enjoy! x

Lyndsey

Thrive Market- The New Place to Buy Groceries

13700125_10210128302872768_2398099476259643794_n

I’m often asked about how I, as a college student, am able to adhere to a budget on a vegan diet while still enjoying some of the tastiest snacks and specialty grocery items on the market. At grocery stores and health food stores, you can expect to find these specialty goods at pretty expensive prices and in limited supply. Luckily for us, we live in a time where plant-based eating is evolving and access to healthy snacks in growing every day.

About a year ago, I discovered the world of Thrive Market. Since then, I’ve discovered how to eliminate the financial burden of a grocery shopping trip for a choosy vegan college student. Thrive Market offers an online store of thousands of goods for any individual with any dietary preference. The items are marked down at 25%-50% the original retail prices. Wait- it gets better. Thrive Market allows you to fill up a virtual shopping cart with as many items as you’d like, allowing you to choose from categories of foods such as cooking and meal ingredients, snacks, condiments, beverages, cereals, superfoods, and many more. Additionally, Thrive Market offers products for bath and body, health, home, pets, and beauty.

Thrive Market offers a free membership for all who choose to join, giving a 15% discount on any first purchase. If you’re looking to go further, you can join the Thrive Market community for one payment of $59.95. With this membership, you can expect to save hundreds on healthy and delicious specialty products all throughout the year.

The mission of Thrive Market, according to their website, is to provide the opportunity for a healthy lifestyle to all people of all income levels; they strive to expand access to wholesome products at just a portion of their retail prices. The mission statement of Thrive Market revolves around the values of “making healthy living easy and accessible for every American family”. Who wouldn’t want to support such a cause? I stand behind this company and their values, missions, and integrity as retailers of sustainable goods.

About once a month, I like to order myself a jumbo assortment of stuff. Let me tell you, there is nothing more exciting to me than coming home at the end of the day to see a Thrive Market box on my doorstep. Since I buy my dry goods, snacks, and beauty products from Thrive Market, I can expect only to hit the grocery store for produce and frozen goods. I have saved massive amounts of money over the past year with a Thrive Market membership. If a box of delicious vegan goodies doesn’t excite you enough, just know that Thrive Market includes free gifts in just about every purchase! With a $65 purchase last week, I received a free jar of organic coconut oil and a jumbo bag of sustainably-sourced and eco-friendly laundry detergent pods.

xlarge

Thrive Market aims to give back to the community; for every one membership, Thrive Market donates a membership to low-income family. According to their  website, they also anticipate some educational content and custom merchandising coming to their site in the next year or so. This will not only provide goods at low prices to all individuals, but it will also give consumers the opportunity to learn more about nutrition, sustainability, and a healthy lifestyle.

Honestly guys, now is a great time to delve into the world of sustainable lifestyle because ideas are so prevalent. Countless numbers of individuals and teams of individuals are carrying out new, exciting business endeavors and are providing us with widespread opportunities to support healthy bodies and healthy minds all around the world. This is a business model that I can get behind. The healthy food world is bustling- lets take full advantage of it by supporting businesses like Thrive Market.

Some products from Thrive Market that I recommend are listed and pictured below. Enjoy!

748404287930-1.jpg

1. Brown Basmati Rice by Seeds of Change.

782733000204-1.jpg

2. Spinach Dal by Tasty Bite.

857063002461-1.jpg

3. Falafel Roasted Chickpeas by Saffron Road.

850370005224-1.jpg

4. Cheesy Raw Brussel Bytes by Brussel Bytes/

855140002175-1

5. Ancient Grain Granola Cereal by Purely Elizabeth.

894455000322-1

6. Maple Almond Butter by Justin’s.

089125220005-1

7. Quinoa Elbow Pasta by Ancient Harvest.

859888000592-1_1

8. Raw Chocolate Coconut Chips by Go Raw.

636874121482-1

9. Coconut Lemon Shower Gel by EO.

851492002016-1

10. Coconut Nectar by Coconut Secret.

 

Enjoy!

Lyndsey x

Lavender Fig Coconut Yogurt

yogurt2

Don’t be intimidated by the plating – this sweet treat is not only a color explosion, but it’s also a nutritional powerhouse, flavor heaven, and a perfect breakfast/dessert. It utilizes a lot of unconventional ingredients and flavors that work in perfect harmony and the nutrients will keep you going for hours! I’ve used matcha (the bright green power) in a number of recipes on my blog, but for those who aren’t familiar with it, it’s essentially Japanese green tea powder. It has the perfect amount of caffeine in it to give you a morning energy boost or an afternoon pick-me-up. Additionally, the blueberries provide you with a burst of antioxidants which are critical to maintaining healthy skin, particularly during the summer seasons.

The star of this dish, however, is the coconut yogurt which, if homemade, is absolutely divine. I have a detailed tutorial on how to safely open a Young Thai coconut and to scoop out the meat to make a creamy, velvety, and absolutely heavenly yogurt. Coconut meat is one of the most nutritionally-dense foods on the planet. It’s loaded with seventeen out of the twenty essential amino acids that aid in the formation of our body’s proteins. Coconut meat is also essential to body systems such as the nervous system, cardiovascular system, and collagen formation. If that isn’t enough to convince you to try coconut meat, then remember that it’s the jackpot for important nutrients such as iron, folate, potassium, and fiber. It can be an excellent addition to smoothies, porridge, parfaits, and much more!

Basically, this recipe is a combination of a handful of separate components. You can play around with the composition, but I have a few recommendations that you can try for optimum flavor.

First off, you’re going to want to start with the coconut yogurt because this can be a time and labor-intensive job. Once you’ve reached a desired consistency with the yogurt, add about 1 teaspoon of matcha into the yogurt and pulse until it’s fully incorporated. Next, fold in 1 teaspoon of lavender leaves, also making sure that they’re thoroughly mixed- (they have a very floral taste which can be counteracted by the velvety-ness of the yogurt).

*Top the mixture with fresh berries, seeds, or nuts for a protein punch.*

Optional: Top your yogurt with sliced figs or fig preserves, which can either be homemade or bought at a supermarket. I prefer to make my own fruit preserves, so I’m going to provide a simple recipe below for those who want to make their own fig jam.

The recipe for fig jam is so simple- it requires just three ingredients. You’ll need about three or four medium-sized figs to start. Puree them in a food processor or smash them up with a fork depending on your preference for consistency. Now, you should have a gooey, figgy smash. Next, add in 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds along with about two teaspoons of agave nectar (or liquid sweetener of choice). Mix everything together in a bowl or jar, cover, and place in the fridge for at least one hour- you’ll be able to tell when its become a jelly. The chia seeds, when combined with moisture, become gelatinous and it makes for a tasty, nutritionally-dense version of jelly.

Enjoy! xx