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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Review: Smiling Hara Tempeh

We have tried tempeh on numerous occasions and have never really enjoyed it.  In case you're not familiar with tempeh, it is fermented soybeans.  We've tried different brands, different recipes, different spices/seasonings and never really cared for it.  That was before we discovered Smiling Hara Tempeh!  It's a product of Asheville, North Carolina and boy is it different than all that commercially produced funky tasting tempeh you'll find at the grocery.  I've talked with Sarah at Smiling Hara in the past and she is awesome - I love supporting local companies that are providing us with awesome, healthy food choices.  You can find Smiling Hara at Whole Foods in the Southeast US, in the FREEZER section.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Happy Fall!

I have not dropped off the face of the earth - I took a little leave of absence from my blogging to plan our wonderful wedding and marry the love of my life, Josh in Folly Beach, South Carolina.  It was absolutely perfect in every way - very intimate, nice weather, beautiful beach house - just what we were hoping for!  Here's a photo of us on our wedding day:

I have to admit, I've fallen off the plant-based wagon a bit and I've been eating fish occasionally and have also added eggs back into my diet.  I also was allowing some dairy (pasture-raised Organic butter, some cheeses, half & half, etc.) for a while there during the wedding and "honeymoon" time.  As of this week, I've cut out all dairy again and I feel SO much better.  It's amazing how different I feel in just a few days - less bloated, less congested, etc.  Last year, around the holidays, I was extremely diligent about eliminating dairy and I actually lost weight over the holidays!  I'm vowing to do the same this year - by avoiding all foods with dairy, it makes holiday parties and events so much easier by eliminating almost every opportunity to be bad.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Raw Cinnamon Raisin Cookie Dough Balls

Yet another fantastic Vegan & Gluten-free recipe for your sweet tooth from Texan Erin!

    For the balls:
  • ¾ cup (75 grams) walnuts
  • ¾ cup (67 grams) rolled or traditional oats (non-contaminated for GF)
  • 1 cup (180 grams) dates
  • ¾ cups (180 grams) raisins
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ - 1 cup (60 - 120 grams) oat bran or more oats
  • ½ - 1 cup (45 - 90 grams) rolled or traditional oats
  • For the frosting:
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, softened but not melted
  • 2 tablespoons honey (agave for vegan)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. In your food processor, grind the walnuts and oats until there are no more large chunks and then set aside. Add the dates and half of the raisins to the food processor and process until it's smooth, and then add the vanilla and cinnamon.
  2. Process until thoroughly combined and then add the oat and nut mixture. Pulse. At this point, you can start adding oat bran and more rolled oats.
  3. Add ¼ cup of each, pulse, see if you like the consistency, and if you want even more bran and oats, add more, a little at a time. You don't want them to get too dry.
  4. Roll tightly into balls. You'll have to squeeze them together to get them to stick, but it'll work.
  5. For the frosting, stir everything together and pipe onto the balls or just spoon a little bit over. These are already pretty sweet so you might not want it.

    *I actually made the frosting and preferred the balls without it, so I just ate them the way they were with a couple carob chips on top.   I also didn't blend in all the raisins as instructed in Step 1, I added some to the mix at the end before I rolled them into balls.  YUM!

Eggplant Coconut Curry

I modified this recipe slightly from this fabulous creation on

Friday, July 12, 2013

What's in your pantry?

There was this great article the July/August issue of our Experience Life magazine suggesting items that you should keep stocked in your pantry, titled "The Healthy Pantry".  These are great go-to items and with the exception of group #2, it's an awesome way to stock your plant-based pantry too!

Lentil-stuffed Portobellos

I got the idea to make some stuffed portobellos - they turned out quite delicious, if I do say so myself!

  • 1.5 cups of green lentils
  • 1 cup cooked chestnuts, chopped
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 tbs herbs de Provence
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped and divided
  • 6 portobello mushroom caps (try to find some that are more bowl shaped and better for stuffing
  • Olive oil
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 large vidalia onion, diced
  • Salt to Taste
  1. Rinse your lentils and put them in a saucepan with the water.  Add the herbs de Provence and half of the garlic (do not add salt while lentils are cooking as it can toughen them).  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes.  You may need to add additional water - just add enough to cover the lentils.
  2. Sample the lentils to be sure they're cooked to your satisfaction and remove from heat.  Drain any remaining liquid. Add the chopped chestnuts and set aside.  I make the lentils a day or two in advance.
  3. Wash the portobellos and remove the stem (you can cut up the stem and use it in the next step).  Place the mushrooms in a large saute pan with 1/4 cup of water over medium heat (you are basically steaming them).  Cook them for covered 3-4 minutes each side.  Keep an eye on them - you may need to add additional water.  Once completely cooked, transfer them to a serving plate.
  4. Add 1 tbs. olive oil to a saute pan, when the oil is hot, add the onions, celery and mushroom stems.  Saute until the onions are translucent, then add the remaining garlic.  Once the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes, add the lentils to the saute pan.  Salt as desired.  Once mixture is heated through, remove from heat. 
  5. Pack the mixture in a large ice cream scoop or measuring cup and stuff each of the mushrooms with the mixture.  Garnish with rosemary if desired and serve.
Serves: 2 - 4 (depending on whether this is your main course)  We served very large mushroom caps on a bed of baby spinach and it was enough for one person.  

Sunday, June 23, 2013

I'm on Facebook!

I finally created a page for Plant-Based Happiness on Facebook! 

I'll be slowly adding my photos, recipes, articles, etc. to Facebook, so please login and like my page.

I've had a page on my personal Pinterest for a while, you can access it and follow me here:

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Vegan Girl Scout Samoa Wannabes

I've been trying some Paleo dessert recipes lately, most of them also happen to be Vegan or easily Veganizable!

The awesome thing about these raw/no bake dessert recipes is they are SUPER quick and they make small batches.  So, they're ready in a jiffy and you there's no pressure to over-indulge since they make only 6 - 12 tasty treats per recipe.

  • 1/3 cup pecans, plus 8 extra whole pecans
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, plus some additional for rolling
  • 1 cup of pitted dates, about 12
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1/3 cup Vegan dark chocolate chunks (available at Whole Foods)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Add pecans to the food processor and process until they are fine but not clumping.
  2. Add remaining ingredients in order above.
  3. Roll into 8 balls.  Roll in shredded coconut and press one pecan into the center of each ball.
In the event the balls don't stay together well, you can add a tablespoon of coconut oil to the mix.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Are you kidding me?

I saw this cookbook recently in a store in Chapel Hill.  What are your initial thoughts when you look at the photo below?

Vegan Apple Pie Protein Shake

I've been experimenting with lots of different smoothies/shakes lately since I've been exercising a lot and I came across a recipe for an Apple Pie shake on the Vega website.


Vega One is more than just a plant-based protein powder, it's got fiber, probiotics, 50% of your RDA vitamins/minerals, Omega-3's, greens, antioxidants, etc.  I usually just combine a scoop with unsweetened almond milk but lately I've gotten more adventurous.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Weight Loss Progress Update - Week 5

I weighed in Thursday morning at 135.8 lb. and 23% body fat. That's 1.3 lbs. lost since last week and 5 pounds lost since I started this challenge on May 2! I've also hit another milestone with this weight, I'm exactly 20 pounds lighter than I was in July 2012!!!!

I'm very happy with my progress over the past week.
 Only 9 days left to meet my goals!  

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Plant-Based Summer Cookout Menu Ideas

We grilled out for Memorial Day with the family and it was a huge success!  Here's what we had on the menu:

Weight Loss Progress Update - Week 4

Weekly status update: I've lost .7 lbs. and .8% body fat since my weigh-in last week and 3.3 lbs. since I started this challenge on 5/2/13.

So, I'm down to 137.1 lbs and 22.2% body fat. I've almost met my body fat goal of 22% but I'm still 12 lbs from my goal weight. I'm 14 days from my goal date (i.e. my 32nd birthday).

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Delicious Vegan Strawberry Pie Recipe

Josh & I went strawberry picking a couple weeks ago and I made him these miniature strawberry pies.


They turned out really delicious.  I veganized this recipe and also made my own graham cracker crust using Organic Graham Crackers.  I was horrified after inspecting the labels on the pre-made graham cracker crusts and the pre-packaged graham cracker crumbs.  All of the leading brand graham cracker crusts and crumbs contained multiple hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup = transfatty, GMO yuckiness!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mother's Day Cookout & Some Great Veggie Burgers

We grilled out with the family this Mother's Day and had a delicious plant based meal!

We found some really good pre-made veggie burgers to bring with us to Summer cookouts.  They're Hilary's Adzuki Bean Burgers.  We discovered them in the Freezer section at Whole Foods a while back and we really like them.  They have a little bit of a cumin flavor and go really well with guacamole, lettuce and tomato, served on a bun or just eaten the way they are!  

They taste really good, they stay together on the grill and are free of a lot of common allergens. They're Vegan and gluten-free, dairy free, non-GMO, corn free, soy free, etc.  Get yourself a pack and let me know what you think!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Heavenly Tropical Fruit Salad

I've been trying to cut back on snacking on dark chocolate and other sweets that may be hiding in the pantry, so I made a nice big bowl of fruit.  It turned out so pretty that I couldn't resist posting a photo.

YUM!  This salad made a great little after dinner treat.  I cut up half of a cantaloupe, some fresh local strawberries (hand picked by yours truly), a mango and a kiwi.  Everything was ripe and so sweet - it was the perfect healthy dessert!

Friday, May 17, 2013

My 6 week Fitness & Weight Loss Challenge!

On May 2nd, my fabulous trainer challenged me to set some goals (I've got goals!) but then she asked me to set a date that I planned to achieve those goals by. Yikes! How intimidating?  What was at stake? Three weeks of free training if I could do it. 

Stats as of 5/2/13:
Weight: 140.4 lbs.; Percentage Body Fat: 24.1% (I've been "stuck" at this weight since March after losing 17 pounds.)

- Weigh 125 lbs.
- Percent Body Fat: At most 22%
- Feel good in a bikini this Summer

In order to reach my goals, I plan to do the following:
- Exercise 5-6 times per week (working out with V a couple times)
- Keep my calorie intake at 1200/day (even on the weekends - BIG CHALLENGE FOR ME)
- No sweets, no wine, no excuses! (I'm only allowed one latte a week!) :)

As of 5/15/13:
Weight: 139.8; PBF: 23.4% (I lost 1/2 a pound and .7% body fat)

Not much lost but it was a loss, so that's good.  This weekend should be easier because there won't be as many temptations as there were last weekend - we had a big family get together to celebrate Mother's Day, my Mom's birthday and my parents 41st Anniversary and there was a lot of good food present!  I'll be posting weekly updates on my success.

Super Yummy Vegan protein shake!

Based in a suggestion from my personal trainer, I decided to experiment with making a new kind of afternoon snack and boy was it tasty.

I based my shake off of a Nutribullet recipe. It was tropical, sweet and I couldn't get enough!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Thai Spicy Peanut Quinoa Bowl - Vegan & Gluten-free!

Holy mother of goodness ~ this meal was fantastic!  I've been on a peanut butter kick lately - I'm in love with the "do it yourself" fresh ground peanut butter at Whole Foods.  This peanut butter is awesome because there's no added sugar, it's unsalted and there are no added oils.  Yum!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Oil-free & Vegan Balsamic Salad Dressing

This dressing made my day! I have been trying to find ways to decrease my oil intake and I found this gem while strolling the Whole Foods salad bar today.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Fresh Garden Salad & my 100th post!

Dandelion Greens, Arugula, Blue Kale, Purslane, Fennel, Chives, drizzled with a Garlic-Mushroom Olive Oil.

Hellooo Spring!  I'm starting off Spring with my 100th post!  Yesterday, I went to the Raleigh Farmer's Market to pick up all of my herb and veggie plants for my Spring garden.  I'M SO EXCITED!  My Mom and I found this adorable "Flip Flop Flowerpot" display to plant our herbs in.  It's so awesome to have all my herbs/salad ingredients on the deck for easy access. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Raw Chipotle Stuffed Avocados

This recipe was my very first attempt at a raw recipe.  It turned out delicious.  Josh said he would rather have it as a side or appetizer to another meal, but I would have been happy eating it all by itself. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Vegetarian Marinara with Delicious Gluten-Free Pasta

The white rice pasta was outstanding, in fact, we may never buy regular wheat spaghetti again. This meal was AWESOME and totally satisfied my craving for Italian.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Potentially harmful levels of arsenic in rice. What's wrong with this picture?

Check out this article and study by Consumer Reports.

Arsenic in Your Food

There's a chart at the bottom of the article that shows arsenic levels in some commonly purchased rice products.

Delicious Vegan Apple Crisp

We had family from Connecticut to our house last night for a big plant-based dinner.  Everyone complimented how delicious the food was.  We served the Chipotle Bean Bowl, Cuban Garbanzos as well as this yummy Apple Crisp.

Thanks to the Hell yeah it's Vegan! blog for the recipe.  I followed it exactly, except I

Before you order that burger, read this...

Beef Burgers Made of Horse Meat and Salmonella Outbreak from Ground Beef -- The Unsavory Truth of Rising Food Fraud and Contamination

February 06, 2013
 By Dr. Mercola
When you buy processed meat, whether from your local grocer or a restaurant, what are you really getting?
That's a very valid question these days, as one meat-related scandal after another has been revealed. Most recently, at least 16 people in the US have been sickened from salmonella-tainted ground beef, and in

Friday, April 5, 2013

Happy Earth Month!

It's Earth Month and I'm posting some ideas on how you can show Mother Earth some love, not just during April but all year round.

  1. BYOB - everyone knows this by now, but bring your own bags when shopping!  You don't have to limit this to grocery shopping.  I take my shopping bags with me to Target, Walgreens, the Farmer's Market, the craft store, etc.  It feels good not to have that pile of plastic bags at home taking up space. If you feel like you're doing good by recycling those plastic bags, think again.  They're actually polluting our oceans like crazy. For more information on the

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Thanks to Susan, a friend at work, I recently tried Spirulina.  She gave me a little packet of it and I spent a couple weeks trying to figure out what to do with it.  I finally decided to see what Google had to say.  I found a recipe on the Raw Glow Blog for Spirulina salad dressing.  It was surprisingly good.

I have to be honest, the smell of the Spirulina alone is a little

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Red Quinoa Salad

 Red Quinoa Salad with Avocado, Black Beans, Bell Peppers & Corn
Photo: We've been busy in the Kitchen this weekend perfecting our Red Quinoa recipe, and think we finally nailed it. Flavorful, bright and light, it was hard not to eat it up all before taking pictures. Great dish for spring and summer (or anytime).  We will add it to the website in the coming weeks along with some useful tips.

Whoa! This is most definitely our favorite Yassa Sauce recipe yet! Not only is this dish extremely colorful, it is SO delicious.  It made plenty for two dinners, so we have leftovers!  I followed the recipe almost exactly, except my fiance is a little fussy and he doesn't like cold food, so I warmed up the beans and sauce in a pot and combined the additional ingredients as the recipe calls for.

This photo is courtesy of the Kitchens of Africa - it's far prettier than

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Super Inspiring "Sexy" Chick

Recently, I read an article about Kris Carr and I was inspired, to say the least.  On Valentine's Day in 2003, she was diagnosed with a very rare, Stage 4 Cancer.  Since her diagnosis, she's changed her lifestyle and started listening to her inner voice.  She follows a completely "plant-passionate" diet and has a recipe book titled Crazy Sexy Kitchen.  I haven't checked it out yet, but I plan to ASAP.

Chickpeas and Spicy Dandelion Greens!

It's been a little quiet on the Plant Based Happiness blog over the past month.  We've had some exciting things happening in our lives ~ we got engaged last month (YAY!) and we've been partially renovating our favorite room in the house - the kitchen!  Future pictures of recipes will proudly feature our new granite counter tops.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Eggplant Yassa with Chickpeas, Carrots & Lima Beans

Many thanks to Jainaba at Kitchens of Africa for the new recipes featuring their delicious peanut and onion simmer sauces!  I've been looking forward to making this dish because I LOVE eggplant.  It definitely lived up to my expectations - it was super delicious, chock full of veggies and the perfect amount of spicy.  

Sunday, February 17, 2013

My Progress!

I'm excited to share the before and after pictures below showing my progress over the past 7 months.  Since July 2012, Josh and I have been following a plant-based diet as well as exercising three to four times each week.

Falafel Pitas - another quick plant-based meal!

I came across these frozen Falafel burgers at Weaver Street Market recently, so we made falafel pitas for lunch today. They were very YUMMY and very quick!


Monday, February 11, 2013

Looking for a non-dairy yogurt alternative?

We've been trying to reduce our soy intake lately, so I've been hesitant to try some of the yogurt alternatives since they usually contain soy.  I found this peach Amande Almondmilk yogurt at Weaver Street market last week.  I was pleasantly surprised - it was very tasty!  The bonus is that it's completely vegan but it still contains the beneficial parts of yogurt - the live cultures and probiotics.  So, if you're plant-based or vegan and you love yogurt - you're in luck, because this is a great alternative!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Hello Comfort Food ~ Plant-Based Pot Pie

Let me start by saying, this is not a healthy recipe. But, since the weather has turned colder, I've been craving pot pie.  This recipe is completely plant-based and my very own creation.  Josh has rated this one of the best things I have ever made!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Love Garlic?

I found a new product that I've fallen in love with ...

If you're a garlic person, this is a product you should definitely have in your cupboard!  I found it in the produce section at my local Whole Foods.  It's 100 times better than any garlic salt out there.  I've been adding it to my salads - it adds a little crunch and a LOT of flavor.  It makes a great topping for a salad with my already garlicky Red Wine Vinaigrette.  You could add it to steamed veggies, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, etc.  I love that all of the ingredients are Organic and they use extra-virgin olive oil and not some GMO vegetable oil!

White Bean Chipotle Casserole

I got this recipe from my Sister-in-Law (for all intents and purposes), Heather and it is fabulous! Heather was awesome enough to make this for our Christmas dinner, making us vegetarians very happy!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Plant-Based on a Budget!

Thinking about a implementing a plant-based diet?  Concerned about the cost of adding all of those delicious organic veggies to your shopping cart?  Don't be!  We actually decreased our grocery bill by eliminating meat, seafood, cheese and other dairy products.  Good quality meat is much more expensive per pound than beans or vegetables.

Here are some ways to shop smart on a plant-based diet:
  1. Shop the Whole Foods Bulk Section - this way you can buy as much or as little as you need of most any rice, beans, nuts, grains, legumes, dried fruit, etc.  This saves money because if you only buy what you are going to use, you won't have any waste.  In addition, I've compared pricing on many of the bulk food items to the packaged items elsewhere in the store and you really get a lot more for your money when you buy it from the bulk section.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

What do you mean you don't eat meat?

I get asked this question or some variation of it pretty often... 

So, you don't you eat milk or cheese either?  Then, what do you eat?  Oh, I could never do that.

Today was no exception.  So, I thought I'd post about it tonight.

Friday, January 11, 2013

EWG's 2012 Clean Fifteen

Here's the list of the top 12 safest fruits and veggies. These are the fruits and vegetables that you don't have to worry about buying Organic, i.e. the lowest in pesticide residue.

EWG's 2012 Dirty Dozen

Here's the list of the top 12 fruits and veggies to buy Organic.  It is recommended that you purchase these items organic because they are the 12 most pesticide contaminated fruits and vegetables.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Interested In Going Plant-Based?

Join the Whole Foods Engine 2 Diet Challenge...

Sign up now through January 20th! Check your local Whole Foods for details! 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

My New Meal Planning Tool

I finally tackled this project over my Christmas vacation that I've been trying to work on for the past several months. My MENU BOARD!!

Friday, January 4, 2013

10 Products I Couldn’t Live Without

Feeling inspired by Alicia Silverstone's recent blog post "10 Ingredients I Can't Live Without", I came up with my very own list of favorite products.  Here goes:

  1. Earth Balance Soy Free Spread
  2. 365 Brand Unsweetened Vanilla Almondmilk
  3. Crawdad's Classics Habanero Hot Sauce

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Mini Plant-Based Quesadillas

We typically serve a spread of wonderful appetizers on New Year's Eve. This year, I contributed plant-based quesadillas with homemade salsa and guacamole, courtesy of my new Cuisinart Food Processor (thank you for my Christmas gift Matthew & Heather) ...

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year!

We kicked off our New Year's Day with some delicious Blackeyed Peas and Collards with Shallots accompanied by the most amazing hot sauce on the planet - Crawdad's Habanero Hot Sauce!

Wishing you and yours a healthy, prosperous and veggie-filled 2013!!!  

Check back for the recipes.