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Vegan Cinnamon Muffins

I have been reading Jenna’s blog for years, which means that for a long time, I have been drooling over her recipes! But it’s possible that I have either a) never made any of them myself or b) I have but it’s been so long that I can’t remember.

Well, whichever situation it is, I finally remedied that!

Jenna has a lot of vegan recipes on Eat Live Run but I chose to recreate her originally non-vegan Cinnamon Toast Muffins because I knew they were something my husband and friends would enjoy and that I could easily make some substitutes for myself in order to make it vegan.

Vegan Cinnamon Muffins (adapted from Cinnamon Toast Muffins by Jenna @ Eat Live Run)

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 cups organic whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze)

1/2 cup organic sugar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 Ener-G egg replacer “egg” (1.5 tsp powder + 2 tbsp warm water)

1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp ginger

Dash of salt

Topping: 4 tablespoons vegan butter (I used Earth Balance), 1/2 cup organic sugar, 1 heaping tsp cinnamon

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients in one big bowl and the wet ingredients in a second, smaller bowl. Combine the two together and mix until well combined (I always have trouble with flour sticking to the bottom of my bowl so I make sure to scrape the bottom really good as I mix). Bake in a greased muffin tin for 25 minutes, poke center muffin with toothpick to make sure they are done.

To make the topping, melt the butter on the stove and then stir in the sugar and cinnamon. I thought mine was too chunky so I added a little water, then it was too runny so I couldn’t get it to stick very well. Next time I will just roll the muffins in the chunks ūüôā

This recipe yielded 8 muffins for me, I actually used the wrong measuring cup for the flour, milk, and sugar and you will see that Jenna’s original recipe called for more of those three ingredients, so if I had managed to do that correctly, I may have gotten 9 or 10. But they were still awfully delicious!

I took these for dessert to my in-laws house a while back and everyone seemed to enjoy them, but I also had some for breakfast, which I have to say they were probably better suited for. I recommend 10 seconds in the microwave, plus a smear of peanut butter.

Thanks Jenna for sharing amazing recipes with the world. I will definitely make this one again!

Have you tried any great recipes recently? Feel free to share in the comments section!

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Why I’m giving up soy

One of the things I have realized on this new path to self-discovery, or whatever I’m¬†on, is that I need to do what I think is right for me and stop apologizing or avoiding discussing things because¬†I’m afraid of how others will react. This is my life and I should be living it according to my convictions.

With that being said, let’s talk about Soy, shall we?

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Soy products¬†are¬†perhaps the most recognized staples of many vegetarian and vegan diets.¬†There’s soy milk, soy nuts, soy-based veggie burgers and other meat replacements, tofu, tempeh, soy yogurt, etc. It’s also present in many processed foods people consume (like soy sauce), regardless of their diet.

I¬†know the opinions on soy and it’s affects on the body are varying. Whenever you are researching something for yourself, I think scientific articles are the most beneficial to read on the subject but you must look at everything you read with a skeptical eye. I also believe sometimes you just have to go with what your heart tells you, while keeping science in mind.

I’d never had a problem with soy before and believed that as long as you were consuming less processed soy products, there was nothing to worry about. For some people, that’s probably still true. But I’m not so sure about me anymore. I also need to remind you that I lack moderation.

Now it’s time for me to get personal: I have been having “problems” with my menstrual cycles for as long as I can remember. I started my periods really early, age 9. I suffer from irregular cycles, extremely long cycles, heavy and painful periods, and in the past¬†missed periods too.

It seems like no two cycles are ever the same and attempts at taking hormonal birth control in the past just left me more frustrated. That’s a topic for another post, but let’s just say I would much rather be able to “solve” this on my own in a more natural way.

The reason I have chosen to discuss soy in my diet, is due to¬†findings which claim¬†that consuming a lot of soy products can lengthen the menstrual cycle and possibly cause fertility problems IF you have multiple risk factors. Soy also has health benefits which have been shown in scientific studies, but I had to weigh it for myself. You can’t believe everything you read, on either side.

I thought when I lost weight and got myself healthier (starting in 2007), that things would improve but they have not. Losing weight made my periods lighter and less painful for a while, but then when I started running, they disappeared entirely. 

I thought that if I cut back on running it would help some, but it¬†did not. Luckily,¬†some progesterone pills got them restarted and I haven’t experienced any missed periods in a while now.¬†One last thing I haven’t fully addressed yet as a possible cause is stress, but since that is an on-going battle for me right now, I thought I’d give one more dietary change a shot first.

The past¬†several months have been extremely tough. My cycles have gotten longer (we’re talking 50+ days), my periods have gotten heavier and more painful than ever (as¬†in take a Vicodin and stay home from work¬†painful) and I’ve been depressed.

The moods are what got my attention the most. I’d been dealing with the other stuff off and on for years, but when I started finding it hard to smile, that hurt more than any physical pain I was feeling.

Why now? I’ve been consuming soy products in foods¬†my entire life. I¬†found out I was lactose intolerant in 2008, so I’ve been using soy milk and yogurt more since then.¬†But since my problems have escalated the past few months or so, I¬†can’t help but wonder if it is because my soy consumption has increased since I decided to go vegan in October of 2009? I think maybe so.

Now, I’m not saying¬†you shouldn’t eat soy. I’m not¬†recommending¬†anything¬†to anyone, as I’m not qualified to do so.

But from research I have done on my own, medical opinions I’ve received, and based on the¬†opinions of a few trustworthy friends, I have decided to experiment with reducing (or eliminating) soy in my diet to see if it improves my cycles at all.

Just like I have done with other changes in my diet, I plan to phase soy out gradually. I have a refrigerator full of veggie burgers, tofu, tempeh¬†and soy yogurt that I still need to use up. But I’ve started reading labels and the new¬†foods I’m purchasing are soy free.

I know what you are thinking…how can someone who already doesn’t eat¬†so many¬†things¬†possibly remove yet another food group from their diet?

Well, just like there are alternatives to the animal products I choose not to eat, there are also alternatives to soy. I can use coconut milk or almond milk instead of soy (there is also hemp, oat, and rice milks available).

Sunshine Burgers are soy free as is Earth Balance.

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Seitan is a good alternative to tofu¬†and tempeh. I just tried it for the first time the other night when we had dinner at Ramsi’s¬†and I got the Seitan Parmesan sandwich, yum! I’ll still have plenty of beans and lentils, which are excellent protein sources.

There are a plethora of yogurts and frozen treats made from coconut milk, almond milk and rice milk if I want them. So really, there’s nothing missing.

Much like when I first went vegan, the hardest thing will be where it shows up on food labels. Just like with dairy and eggs, soy can be sneaky sometimes but if I keep my diet as whole as possible, there won’t be as many processed food labels to worry about anyway.

Friends and family — if you are reading this, don’t worry. I will still eat things you make for me if they contain soy products. I think once in a while is okay, especially if¬†you went out of your way to make sure something wouldn’t contain meat or dairy (which I appreciate more than you know).

I just have to get out of the habit of having soy milk with breakfast, a veggie burger at lunch, soy yogurt for a snack¬†and tofu for dinner. That’s just too much.

I also want to note that I am in the process of adjusting some other areas of my diet but I will discuss those at a later date. I believe it is important to experiment and find what is going to work best for you and your individual needs, to get your body (and mind) working optimally.

So, now I want to know about you:

Do you eat soy products regularly? If you choose to eat a small amount of soy or avoid it entirely, why?

Earth Balance and Fakin’ Bacon

When I decided to go vegan back in October, I learned that Smart Balance Light was a buttery spread that fit right in with my dietary preferences so I have been using that for a while now.

I mostly use it on sweet potatoes, some veggies,¬†on warm toasted bread. Like 1 tsp at a time! So containers last me forever. I also occasionally use it in what little baking I do these days ūüėČ

But recently, my last container of SBL ran out and I decided¬†it was finally time to try what I hear so many of my vegan blogger friends brag about…EARTH BALANCE!

I was amazed at the variety there was to choose from (even at Walmart!) but I decided to start with the basic natural buttery spread. It is soy free, vegan and a good source of Omega 3’s.

Earth Balance has more calories per serving than Smart Balance Light, but it also has fewer ingredients. And I have found the two to be quite different!

I first used Earth Balance on a sweet potato I had with dinner one night this week.

I was amazed at how well and quickly it melted. Plus it had a very light “buttery” taste (for lack of a better word).

I next tried it on an English muffin, which I also topped with some preserves.

It tasted so good and the preserves didn’t cover it up at all. It melted on there perfectly.

Okay, so here’s what I have determined: Smart Balance Light is a vegan substitute for MARGARINE. Earth Balance is vegan BUTTER. There is a difference and your personal preference will determine which one you use more of.

I¬†think I’m sticking with this one for a while. It melts better, tastes better and you can cook with it. Smart Balance was always so hard to blend in with baking ingredients.

Oh! I almost forgot…wondering what that bacon-like food is up there?

You guys remember how I recently tried tempeh and loved it so much (that I haven’t had tofu since then)?

Well, my friend Sam highly recommended that I try the Fakin’ Bacon which are smoky¬†tempeh strips that you cook on the stove and serve up¬†with breakfast (or in vegan BLTs, which I’m so going to have to try next).


They kind of fell apart on me a little bit and I wasn’t able to get them very crispy but that was because I got impatient and wanted to eat them!

They tasted great though and I think next time I will just cook them a little longer to desired crispiness. I love tempeh!!