DIY–Mason Jar Soap Dispenser

My mason jar creation–cute soap dispenser

So I can’t take full credit for this creation, but I did make it myself, that counts for something, right?  I originally found this idea on my procrastination, I mean, pinterest account.  Here is the original site that gave me this creative idea.

Supplies Needed:

  • Mason Jar
  • Jar Lid
  • Colorful paper to decorate your lid (I used scrapbook paper I already had)
  • Soap pump (mine is being reused)

This project took me 10 minutes at the most to do.  5 of those minutes were convincing my boyfriend to get off the couch to help me drill the hole into the lid.  🙂

First drill a hole into the metal lid, making sure it’s large enough for the soap dispenser to slide through.  Then glue your scrapbook paper onto the lid, making sure you’ve cut a hole through the paper as well.  After that, reassemble and push the soap dispenser pump through the decorated lid.  Fill the jar with hand soap and you’re done!!

Mason Jar Love,

Lisa

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Three Easy Vegan Sweet Treats Worth Trying!!!

So this summer while I’ve been on my summer break from teaching, I’ve had a lot of extra time to procrastinate, look up random things on google, go on my pinterest account, facebook, bake and make yummy vegetarian homemade dinners.  Years ago I used to be able to finish off 1 dozen doughnuts or cupcakes alone…now I just eat a couple and share the rest with my boyfriend or friends.  I enjoy finding good recipes and trying them out myself.  Here are my newest 3 vegan sweet treat finds!

1.)  Chocolate Cherry Cashew Bars, from Peas and Thank You.

The idea for this recipe was taken from another Kind of bar…get it?? 🙂  I did a taste comparison and if I don’t say so myself, I like Mama Pea’s version better than the original.

2.)  Flax Globalls, from Oh She Glows.

These were super simple to make and I had all the ingredients at my house already–better yet!! Pop in the fridge or freezer for a quick summer no-guilt treat!

3.)  PB and J-Filled Cupcakes, from Peas and Thank You-the Cookbook

I’m going to be nice and include this recipe since it’s on the Peas and Thank You blog…as long as you promise me you’ll buy the book! 🙂

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:

1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup organic sugar

2/3 cup non-dairy or organic milk

1/4 cup natural peanut butter

Filling:

1/3 cup 100% fruit preserves(raspberry or strawberry are best)

1/3 cup natural peanut butter

Directions

1.)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a muffin tin with cupcake papers or spray with cooking spray.

2.)  In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.

3.) In a small bowl, mix vanilla, sugar, milk and 1/4 cup peanut butter.

4.)  Add wet mixture to dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

5.)  Place a large spoonful of batter in the bottom of each muffin well.  Add approximately 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of preserves and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of peanut butter on top of batter, and then an additional teaspoon of cupcake batter on top of the peanut butter and preserves.

6.)  Bake cupcakes for 20 to 25 minutes, until tops are golden brown.

I encourage you to try 1 or all of these quick vegan sweet treats and share with others as well!!  They will thank you for it!

Sweet Treats and Puppy Kisses,

Lisa

Recent Recipes that Rock!

Today I wanted to share three recipes I’ve recently tried over the summer and will definitely be making again!

1.)  The Perfect Veggie Burger

2.)  Mama Pea’s Meatless Muffins

3.)  Summer Israeli Couscous

The Perfect Veggie Burger, Adapted from Oh She Glows

 This recipe is fantastic and is just about PERFECT–as the title infers.

Mmm..the PERFECT Veggie Burger

I knew I had to try making this veggie burger ASAP when I read that it scored perfectly on the veggie burger checklist, Angela created.

Our veggie burger must haves:

  • Can’t be mushy in the middle (the problem I have the most)
  • Crispy outer shell
  • Lots of flavor from fresh herbs & spices
  • No tofu
  • Crunchy, chewy texture is a must
  • No cracking or falling apart (another common problem)
  • Must cook well 3 ways: frying pan, oven, and BBQ

To get this recipe, please click here!

The second great recipe I want to share that I’ve tried this summer is…

Italian Style Meatless Meatloaf Muffins, Adapted from Peas and Thank You

Now…you may be skeptical…but trust me—-these went faster than sugar cookies in our house.  Every time I opened the fridge 1 or 2 more were eaten by my ‘hungry man’, no pun intended.  I got this recipe from one of my other favorite bloggers, Sarah Matheny of Peas and Thank You.    Sarah also just wrote her own cookbook and I happen to be the proud owner of it.  You can buy it here! 

This cookbook is filled with funny stories of Sarah(Mama Pea), her husband Pea Daddy, and her 2 silly daughters, Gigi and Lulu.  Her recipes are all vegan, simple, creative, and sure to please the whole family.  We have tried many of her recipes and enjoy all of them!  Her cookbook is also filled with great photos of each recipe, because everyone knows that’s the best part of flipping through a cookbook for the first time.  Back to her recipe, meatless muffins.

Here are my lovely, snapshots from making the recipe, but to get Mama Pea’s recipe, please click here!

Lastly, the third great recipe I want to share that I’ve tried this summer is…

Israeli Couscous Summer Salad, Adapted from The Healthy Hostess

I love this recipe because it is completely versitile!! You can throw in any veggies you want, as most summer salads are.  You can take away and add veggies that certain picky family members do not like, or simply keep those veggies on the side for you to add for yourself.  I’ve made this recipe twice now, and changed it both times.  I didn’t add onions, olives, or peppers last time but this time I did, and I’d say I liked it both ways equally well.

Israeli Couscous Summer Salad

  • 1 cup dry of Israeli Couscous
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced red onions
  • 1/2 cup diced kalamata olives
  • 1 cucumber chopped
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans(chickpeas) drained and rinsed
  • 1 pepper (color of your choice) chopped
  • 1/3 cup lemon vinaigrette dressing, recipe below
  1. Make couscous (Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add couscous, stir to combine. Simmer for 10 to 12 minutes or until tender.  Drain and add to serving dish.)
  2. Add veggies and chickpeas.
  3. Add dressing and put salad in the fridge for about an hour before eating so flavors can meld.

Lemon Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk lemon juice, basil, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper together.  Slowly add oil while whisking.

I love my new bowl with a resealable lid!

Mmmm…I can almost taste it now!!

I hope you enjoy these 3 vegan recipes as much as I have this summer!  You can make a batch of the veggie burgers and freeze leftovers.  You can also make the meatless muffins ahead of time and re-heat as needed.  This summer salad is great to bring to a picnic or party and will sure to please and replace normal, boring pasta salad.

Happy Puppies & Sunshine,

Lisa

Lacey’s 1st Puppy Party!

My little puppy, Lacey, turned 1 year old on July 19th, 2011.  To celebrate this grand occasion,  I threw a puppy party which involved my friends bringing their dogs by to socialize and play with Lacey.  I also made doughnuts for people, pizza treats for pups, and treat bags for puppy mamas to take with them.  Here are some pictures from the fun day!  (photo credit, Mariah Moore, Pictures Pups and Pies)

Lacey had 4 pup friends join her for her party!  (Sydnee Joe, English Springer Spaniel; Lilly, Malti-Tzu; Astra, Peekapoo and Lucy, Pomeranian)

Sydnee Jo

Lilly

Astra

Lucy

Here are a few pics of the crazy birthday girl who was soo excited and happy at her party!

Hmm...which new toy should I play with?

Definitely the Bully Stick! Thanks Aunt Mariah!

Lacey LOVED this new bully stick she got and became obsessed with it, as Mariah warned me Lilly does as well!

OBSESSED

Lucy was the lucky one that could be trusted off the leash for the entire party!

Lil beggers

Enjoying some peanut butter banana puppy smoothies!

while we enjoyed freshly baked doughnuts!

sniffing eachother

what could they be telling eachother?

My lil family!

Overall it was great to catch up with good friends and let our dogs play together on the patio!

Here is the recipe I used for Lacey’s pizza puppy treats!

Pup Pizza, Adapted from The Organic Dog Biscuit Cookbook

For Dough:

1 c. oat flour

1 c. brown rice flour

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1 egg

1/4 c. part skim milk ricotta cheese

1/2 c. water

For Topping:

1  6oz. can tomato paste

1 c. shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese

1 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. dried oregano

Preheat oven to 375degrees.  Combine all the dough ingredients together and mix thoroughly until a dough forms.  Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4in. thickness.  Use a round cookie cutter or the rim of an upside down glass to cut 2″ round circles out of the dough.  Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet (they can be rather close together as they don’t grow much while cooking).

Spread the tomato paste evenly on top of all the circles.

Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese, basil and oregano on top of each.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is lightly browned.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  But have your puppy sit for a treat first!

“Time to Make the Doughnuts!”

Have you ever heard of the phrase, “Time to Make the Doughnuts!” ?  It’s from a 1983 Dunkin Donuts commercial, it cracks me up thinking about it actually.  The commercial must’ve ran for quite a few years, because I remember the commercial vividly and I was born in 1983.  If you’ve never seen the commercial, here it is on YouTube.com.   So as I was prepping for these doughnuts, I kept thinking to myself, “Time to Make the Doughnuts!” –haha so funny! 🙂  I’d have to say these are BEST doughnuts I’ve ever had for many reasons!

1.)  They are 100% VEGAN!

2.)  They are sweet and have a good moist consistency and you can decorate them however YOU want!

3.)  They are BAKED, not FRIED!!

I made these doughnuts to share with friends at my puppy’s birthday party!  Yes my friends and I have puppy birthday parties…when you are in your late 20’s and have no children, you have to have to celebrate your dog’s birthday!  Besides, it’s another reason to get together with friends!

*Note these are not for dogs.

Baked Vegan Doughnuts, Inspired by OhSheGlows.com

Dry Ingredients
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Sugar (I used raw cane sugar)
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cinnamon

Wet Ingredients
1/2 Cup Soymilk (I’m sure this would work with any milk or non-milk substitute)
1/2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar (I believe you can substitute this for regular white vinegar)
1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Egg or 1 Flax Egg (1 tbsp. Ground Flax Seeds + 3 tbsp. water–stir and let sit for 5 min)
4 Tbs Earth Balance (regular margarine should work too)

Icing Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered icing
  • 1 tbsp soy milk
  • sprinkles

You can buy a donut pan like mine, here.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Take all the wet ingredients and put in a small pot on the stovetop on low. Whisk ingredients together to blend well.

Do not let the mixture get too hot, it should just be warm to the touch. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

Add the wet to the dry and mix until just incorporated. Do not over mix.

Now the batter will become very sticky, so it can be tricky putting the batter into the doughnut pans.  Spray your pans with cooking spray to prevent sticking.  After a few trials, what I found worked best was taking a 3 spoonfuls worth of dough and scooping it directly over the individual mold. Then take your fingers to press it out and make the middle pop through.

Bake for 12 minutes.

You don’t want them brown, but they should slowly pop up when pressed with a finger. Cool on a wire rack and then decorate!  Makes 6 doughnuts.

Look at Lacey at my feet just waiting for a crumb to fall!

Since I was bringing my doughnuts to share with others, I followed this recipe 3 times!  I first started out making 1 batch, just to see how they came out.  They figured I’d make a 2nd, then thought well if someone has more than 1, I’d better make 3 batches.  So let’s just say I got my practice with this recipe real well yesterday.

Are you sold yet?  Here is a photo I edited, I liked the bright contrast–it reminded me of an Andy Warhol painting.

Here is the sweet puppy, ready to celebrate her 1st birthday party…

…and we are ready to celebrate with doughnuts!

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars!!

So Brandon and I have been addicted to Larabars lately and after discussing how they only have 3-5 ingredients, I figured I’d better attempt to make them myself.  I love the flavor combo of peanut butter and jelly so I thought I’d try re-creating these first, although I’d like to try making more flavors of Larabars in the future.  Check out the Larabar website here, there are TONS of great flavors too!  They are a great snack to eat at work, on the run, or just for an energy boost!

 Peanut Butter and Jelly Larabars

Making these bars took me 10 minutes max from start to finish!  This recipe yields only 5 bars, so you may want to double this recipe, or just make more when needed because you can almost make them in a TV commercial break.

Homemade Peanut Butter and Jelly Larabars

Ingredients

2/3 cup roasted and unsalted peanuts

10 dates (found in the produce section)

1/2 cup dried cherries

Directions

Grind the peanuts in a food processor, remove and add to a small
bowl.

Grind the dates and cherries in the food processor until finely
chopped.

Add date mixture to peanut mixture and mix together until well
combined.

Smoosh the mixture into bar shapes and store in plastic wrap in the fridge.


Makes 5 bars.

WOW!! Just that easy!! You will be done making these faster than you can restart your computer–umm yea seriously.

Nutritional Info
1 Peanut Butter & Jelly Homemade Larabar
  • Calories: 202.0
  • Total Fat: 9.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
  • Sodium: 4.5 mg
  • Total Carbs: 26.9 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 3.5 g
  • Protein: 5.3 g

LARABAR FUN FACTS (from the Larabar website)

LÄRABAR is a delicious blend of unsweetened fruits, nuts and spices.   Made from 100% whole food, each flavor contains no more than nine ingredients. Pure and simple, just as nature intended.

On the label is “GLUTEN FREE * DAIRY FREE * SOY FREE * NON-GMO * VEGAN * KOSHER”

The shelf life for each bar is 12 months. We use a multi-layer package that keeps out UV light and oxygen, which, in turn, maintains freshness without the use of preservatives.

Here is a fun collage of Lacey doing her favorite things!  What a happy puppy!

I hope you enjoy making and eating these Larabars as much as we did! 

Lots of happy puppies & Love,

Lisa

My Top 10 Ways to Eat Healthier Everyday

I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite awhile now, not only to share with you, but as a reminder to myself of how I’ve changed my daily eating and health habits in order to live a better lifestyle.

#1  Sprinkle Chia Seeds on Anything You Can!  Make overnight oats, sprinkle on almond butter on a whole wheat bagel, sprinkle onto yogurt, mix 1 tbsp in any and all smoothies and shakes, or add a sprinkle to your oatmeal.

Chia seeds contain about 20% protein, a higher percentage than found in many
other grains such as wheat and rice.  Chia seeds are an excellent source of antioxidants containing even more antioxidants than fresh blueberries. Besides EFAs, Chia seeds also provide fiber, iron, calcium, niacin, magnesium,
zinc and phosphorus.

1 tablespoons of Chia = 3.5  grams of fiber, 1 gram
of protein, 102 milligrams of calcium, 2.5 grams omega-3

#2  Eat Local and Organic Fruits and Veggies!  Find your town’s local farmer’s market!  The city of Charlotte has multiple farmer’s market, you just have to find them!(Atherton Mills, King’s Market, Yorkmont Farmer’s Market)   If you do not have a farmer’s market, just be aware of where you are buying your fruits and veggies.  When it is the off season for markets, I just focus on buying the organic fruit and veggies that have ‘skin’ that you consume (i.e. strawberries, tomatoes).  It is not as a neccessity to buy bananas and oranges organic, because you throw the peels away.

I used to not go to the farmer’s market to get my fruits and veggies.  I used to buy from the grocery store because that’s what I was brought up on.  Then I learned how such a high percentage of fruits and veggies you buy from the grocery store are genetically modified so that you can buy tomatoes as large as your head.   Should we be eating fruits and veggies on steroids?  Is that what YOU want to put into your body?  I certainly don’t.

#3  Focus on buying Whole Wheat Pasta, Breads and Grains.   Whole grains offer vitamins and minerals, plus high levels of antioxidants and other healthy plant-based nutrients. Studies have shown that eating more whole grains may help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. New studies show that whole grains may lower triglycerides, improve insulin control, help in weight
management, and slow the build-up of arterial plaque (WheatFoodsCouncil).

I remember a time that I used to not pay as much attention to what was WHOLE wheat vs. just regular wheat bread.  I thought wheat bread was healthy, so that’s what I bought.  Make sure you are buying whole wheat breads and grains, and not being fooled as I once was.  Whole wheat foods are full of fiber because they’re made from the entire wheat kernel: germ, bran, and endosperm.  Fiber takes up room in your stomach, which then sends your brain the signal that you’re full.  Take advantage of the added nutrients whole grains offer, it will be worth the extra 50cents or so to help maintain your health.

#4 Eat Healthy Snacks to Speed Up Your Metabolism!   Whenever I can at my job, I snack on something healthy.  I often bring some type of ‘bar’ or almonds or a ziplock of fresh fruit to speed up my metabolism as I work and keep my blood sugar regular.   Nut tip–always go for RAW nuts!  You don’t want the added sodium in salted or honey roasted nuts, eventhough they may be tastier. 

I like to think of it this way, make healthy snacks your ONLY option!  While I’m running errands, I tend to bring a banana or pack of raw almonds with me as my only option if I need a snack.  Don’t fall for fast food cravings, etc.–I mean do I really have to say that?  Hopefully not.  I’m going to make my own Larabars soon, and I will post the recipe on here as well. 

#5 Buy Bulk!    I wish I have buying bulk items FOREVER, but at least I can start buying them now.  Sometimes I feel like a kid in the candy store when I visit the bulk foods section of a grocery store.  No I don’t mean the bulk CANDY department either!! All your whole grains, flours and nuts can be found in bulk in some grocery stores–(i.e. EarthFare, Healthy Home Market) just to name a few in Charlotte. 

I love going home and storing my bulk items in Mason jars tightly sealed as well.  It makes for great kitchen organization and you’re more apt to use your whole grains and other bulk foods, if they are out in plain vision on a shelf in your kitchen, rather than shoved in cabinets up high.

#6 Cashews Create A Great Lowfat Cream Sauce!  So Brandon and I enjoy making pasta often at our house, and we’ve even started to buy vodka sauce lately, which is made with heavy cream.  Instead of using this sauce, we have most recently been making our own sauce using RAW CASHEWS!  Genius, right?  Here is the recipe for this Tomato Basil Cream Pasta made with cashews, of all things.

#7 Drink Non-Dairy Milk!! So tell me again, why are you drinking milk from a cow?  Eww…gross.  It’s ok, I used to drink milk from a cow too, then I realized that’s kinda crazy that humans are the only mammal that consume milk from another mammal.  So now we only buy non-dairy milk, this includes but is not limited to…almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, and rice milk.

Almond Milk vs. Cow Milk Benefits

“Naturally, almond is a type of nut which provides people with high content of vitamin E, omega (6 and 9), fiber and also protein. Besides, almond is rich in magnesium, selenium and flavonoids. If you wish to get more calcium, then cow milk is much better to take. However, nothing is better in providing good level of calcium except cow milk.”

“When it comes to talk about the milk production of almond milk vs cow milk, almond milk offers the healthier and safer process. If you look at the steps to make both milks, you will soon find the fact that getting the milk from a cow is a process which is prone to contamination. In fact, many cows are mostly injected with some different antibiotics and hormones which can possibly affecting people health.”

#8 Whey Protein Absorbs Faster Than Casein Protein after a Workout.   So after a workout I used to think eating cottage cheese was a good snack because it contained protein.  WRONG!  I recently learned that cottage cheese contains casein protein, a slow-digesting protein.  After a workout, the best thing to have is a whey protein shake.  Whey protein absorbs quickly in the body and helps with rebuilding muscle after a workout.  Sometimes I just mix 1 scoop of protein powder with water and drink it after a workout.  We currently have chocolate protein powder, so it basically tastes like chocolate milk.  Stay tuned for a simple post-workout protein shake update.

#9   Try NEW-to-you Foods!

Since I’ve been reading blogs more often and trying out new recipes, I come across new ingredients all the time I’ve never tried much less bought.  I have to sometimes research or ask a friend how to prepare, where to find or buy certain ingredients because I’ve never bought them before.  There are tons and tons of great foods out there–from tofu to tempeh to beet burgers to overnight oats.  You just need to explore your options and try them!  I’ve been eating sushi for close to 10 years now, so sushi is not so new to me, although I’m sure there are still some out there that have never tried it or have no desire to, that’s why I picked this picture to include.  Get out of the meatloaf, spaghetti, grilled chicken, fish, steak dinner rotation!  Bottom line—try new foods when given the opportunity, you may have a new favorite!

#10  Bring Reusable Bags with You to ALL Stores–not just the grocery store!  

I thought this was a great paragraph I just read on (www.wholeliving.com) so I’d thought I’d share this one!  “For one week, count how many disposable bags you get. Make a couple of trips to  the grocery store, grab lunch from your favorite sandwich shop, pick up a  prescription at the pharmacy — it seriously adds up. In the United States  alone, we go through 100 billion plastic bags per year, less than 1 percent of  which get recycled. Bringing a sturdy tote wherever you go is one of the easiest  Earth-friendly changes you can make.”  Yessir!! It’s true!!

This is my trunk already ready to go grocery shopping, or to Target or wherever!

Overall these are MY Top 10 ways I’ve been eating healthier every day and I hope this post has inspired you to do the same. 🙂

Lots of happy puppies and love,

Lisa