January 29, 2012

Homemade Western Dressing


When I was growing up, my Grandma always had a bottle of Western Dressing and a bottle of Ranch Dressing on the table for every family get-together.  Well...she still does, actually. We put it on our salads and we dipped our steak in it. Gross - I know, but it soon became my favorite topping for all of my salads! As I grew older and became more health conscious and more aware of the ingredients in the food I was eating - I found out the main ingredient in my favorite Western Dressing was High Fructose Corn Syrup and it also had some other weird ingredients in it like Propylene Glycol Alginate. I'm not sure what that is, but I know I don't really want to be eating it. So I stopped and I have been on a quest to find a new dressing I really liked.

Honestly - I still haven't found a dressing I've liked - until now! This dressing uses agave nectar and nutritious grapeseed oil instead of corn syrup and soybean oil. It's flavored with ketchup (love!), apple cider vinegar onion, garlic, and salt! Oh...and just a little dash of hot sauce! The ingredients are so simple - you've got to try it!

Oh...and I finally got to use my Immersion Blender that I got for Christmas! If you don't have one - then just use a blender or food processor!

Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1 cup oil (grapeseed, olive, canola, etc..)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • a dash or two of hot sauce

Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and process for 2-3 minutes with an immersion blender. Or place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend for 2-3 minutes until ingredients are well combined and the dressing has emulsified.

January 27, 2012

Product Review: Arcanatura Companion Animal Products


The people over at Arcanatura were kind enough to send me a couple of samples a while back - and I'm finally getting around to doing my review for them! Arcanatura develops 100% natural, science based, clinically proven products for animal health. The products they sent me were their Tick'd-Off (cute name...right?) spray and a DHA supplement.

The Tick'd-Off is a simple two-part kit that allows for safe physical removal of a tick after it has been killed by using clinically tested essential oils. The kit is completely natural and pet friendly and allows for worry free disposal of the no-longer-dangerous tick. I haven't been able to test this one out yet since it's winter here in Minnesota. Keeva isn't spending much time outside and the ticks just aren't biting (thankfully). This next summer - if I see any ticks on Keeva - I'm reaching for this amazing, all natural, vegan spray! It also comes with a handy tool to remove the tick from your pet's skin!

DHA plays a crucial role in the control of inflammation and in brain development and function. Supplementation with DHA is recommended for dogs and cats with allergic dermatitis, otitis, or arthritis. It is also important for older animals in order to prevent cognitive dysfunction, arthritis, kidney, and heart disease. More and more veterinarians believe that every dog and cat should receive an Omega-3 supplement - just like their people! Arcanatura's DHA is derived from microalgae, not from fish oil, making it safer for animals and much better for the environment.  The DHA pump is super handy. All it takes is a couple of squirts in your pets food every day - and you can have peace of mind knowing that you're dog is getting everything their body needs! Keeva and my Parents' dog, Sampson, gobbled their food right up!

Thanks Arcanatura for sending me these great products for Keeva and Sampson to try out!

For more information, visit their website or check them out on Facebook or Twitter!

January 25, 2012

Anniversary Giveaway Winners!!



Every post needs a good picture to start things off, right? Well - what better picture than this adorable one of me and my niece? Isn't she beautiful? I was looking for a picture of Keeva to put on here - but I might have shared all of my good pictures of Keeva with you guys already!

Anyway - thank you SO much to everyone who signed up for my 1-Year Anniversary Giveaway! I can't believe there were 637 entries to choose from! I wish I could send all of you a little package to tell you how thankful I am that for all of your love, support, and kind words! You guys are truly the best!

Let's get to it though, shall we? Here's the list of the 5 winners and the prizes that they have received:

Winner #1 is:  (Didn't Claim Prize In Time)






Congratulations! You'll receive: 
  1. An adorable lunch box, 2 buttons, a bumper sticker, 2 temporary tattoos, and a coupon for a free product from Tofurky
  2. 1 package of Sweet Potato Chips from Rhythm Superfoods
  3. 1 case of Protein Bars from Organic Food Bar
  4. 2 candy bars from Go Max Go Foods
  5. 1 coupon for a free product from So Delicious
  6. 2 coupons from Gardein for a free product of your choice + 4 coupons for $1 off
  7. 2 coupons for free products (for their new Mayo and Coconut Spread)  from Earth Balance.
Winner #2 is: (Didn't Claim Prize In Time)






Congratulations! You'll receive: 
  1. A super cute T-shirt, 2 buttons, a bumper sticker, 2 temporary tattoos, and a coupon for a free product from Tofurky
  2. 1 package of Kale Chips from Rhythm Superfoods
  3. 1 case of Protein Bars from Organic Food Bar
  4. 2 candy bars from Go Max Go Foods
  5. 1 coupon for a free product from So Delicious
  6. 2 coupons from Gardein for a free product of your choice + 4 coupons for $1 off
  7. 2 coupons for free products (for their new Mayo and Coconut Spread)  from Earth Balance.
Winner #3 is:






Congratulations! You'll receive: 
  1. 2 really great oven mitts and 2 coupons for free products (for their new Mayo and Coconut Spread)  from Earth Balance
  2. 2 buttons, 2 temporary tattoos, and a coupon for a free product from Tofurky
  3. 1 package of Sweet Potato Chips from Rhythm Superfoods
  4. 1 case of Protein Bars from Organic Food Bar
  5. 2 candy bars from Go Max Go Foods
  6. 1 coupon for a free product from So Delicious
  7. 2 coupons from Gardein for a free product of your choice + 4 coupons for $1 off.
Winner #4 is: (Didn't Claim Prize In Time)






Congratulations! You'll receive: 
  1. 1 coupon for a free product from So Delicious
  2. 1 coupon for a free product from Gardein
  3. 3 coupons for free product from Earth Balance
Winner #5 is: 






Congratulations! You'll receive: 
  1. 1 coupon for a free product from So Delicious
  2. 1 coupon for a free product from Gardein
  3. 3 coupons for free product from Earth Balance

Again - thank you all so much! I really wish everyone could have won! 

To the winners: To claim your prize, email your name and address to matthew@vegan-heartland.com. You have 2 weeks to claim your prize. If the package is not claimed after two weeks, I'll choose another winner using random.org!

January 20, 2012

Beans and Greens Soup


I thought it was time that I shared with you a non-dessert recipe! I'm such a creature of habit - I sort of eat the same things for my meals over and over. Breakfast is usually a bowl of steel cut oats and a piece of fruit, lunch is usually leftovers from the night before or a sandwich with hummus and TONS of veggies, and I usually  make the same 5 or 6 things for my dinners throughout the week. Luckily this blog has helped me get out of my rut and start experimenting with more dishes! I made this soup in my crock pot overnight, so it was ready for me the next morning! You could also throw the ingredients in there before you leave for work and have a delicious, hearty, and healthy dinner waiting for you when you get home!

It's been so cold here in Minnesota this last week or so. A couple of weeks ago it was almost 60 degrees F and yesterday morning it was -30 with the wind chill! And of course Keeva doesn't care about the weather - she just wants to go on her walk. I had 3 layers of clothes on, two layers of gloves, and a huge scarf wrapped around my face. The only thing not covered was my eyes...and they were cold. Luckily when I got home I had a big bowl of this yummy soup waiting for me!

This soup was so delicious! I was a little hesitant about how the greens would taste and feel. I tend to only liked cooked greens if they're steamed. I was very pleasantly surprised when I took a bite of this soup! So warming and comforting - and super healthy for you too! Kale is a very good source of iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin K, and, Carotenoids (which provide vitamin A). It's such an important food for Vegans (well...everybody really) to eat! If you have yet to try kale - this soup is a great starting recipe for you!

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups dry uncooked cannelini beans (that have been soaked overnight)
  • 1 1/2 cups pre-cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 cup onion - diced
  • 2 garlic cloves - minced
  • 1 bunch of kale (I used Lacinato Kale, but you could use any leafy green vegetable you like)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth

Place all the above ingredients in your crock pot. Stir together to incorporate all the ingredients. Cook on low for 8-9 hours. Serve warm with some crusty bread!

January 18, 2012

Single Serving Apple Crisp


I'm loving these single serving desserts! I hope everyone is sill sticking to your new year's resolutions (if you made any)! I didn't really make one specific resolution, but I sort of always have the same ones. Eat healthier, exercise more, do more of the things I love. That sort of thing...and I don't save those things for new years day. I just use the new year as a re-starting point. It's a nice little reminder to stay on track.

So for me - part of eating healthier has been trying to eat less desserts and more veggies. That's where these single serving desserts come in. They're life savers! Whenever I get that craving - I whip up a little something and I'm good to go. And who are we kidding - when I'm craving cake, grabbing a piece of fruit isn't going to do the trick.

So I came up with the next best thing. It does have fruit and oats in it (so that makes it a little healthy, right?!) The best part of this dish is that I don't have a whole plate of that sweet something sitting on my counter! This apple crisp is just like Grandma made. Sweet, crumbly topping with a tender apple center. It fills the house with that amazing smell that only apple crisp can do!

Ingredients:

  • 1 small apple - thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp margarine, shortening, or coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Thinly slice the apple and place in a mixing bowl. Add 1 tbsp of brown sugar, 1/2 tbsp flour, and 1/8 tsp cinnamon. Coat the apple slices with the dry ingredients and place in a small baking dish.

Using the same bowl mix together 1 tbsp brow sugar, 2 tbsp oats, 1 tbsp flour, 1/8 tsp cinnamon, and 1 tbsp margarine. Cream together with a fork until the margarine becomes crumbly and is well incorporated with the dry ingredients.

Top the apples with the crumbled mixture. Place the small baking dish on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 22-25 minutes until the top is golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

January 10, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars


These bars are now available to purchase online at The Vegan Heartland Bakery!

I finally got around to making these bars again! If you don't follow me on Facebook - then you probably don't know that I had mentioned these bars a few weeks ago. I brought them to my Mom's side of the family's Christmas party and they were gobbled up before I could even get a picture taken! Everyone loved them so much they were going back for seconds! The bar consists of a scrumptious graham cracker crust, a yummy cheesecake center, and a delicious chocolate chip cookie top! How could you say no to that?

*Slightly Adapted From This Recipe*

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 5 tbsp melted margarine, shortening, or coconut oil (I used Earth Balance Spread)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ingredients:
  • 5 tbsp margarine or shortening
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt (don't add this if you're using Earth Balance margarine)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips

Cheesecake Ingredients:
  • 8 oz of Vegan Cream Cheese - at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp corn starch, tapioca starch, or arrowroot (I used corn starch)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper and allow a little overhang. This will help with lifting the bars out of the pan. Spray with cooking spray.

Mix your melted margarine, shortening, or coconut oil and the graham cracker crumbs until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of your prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 6 minutes. Set aside on a cooling rack while you prepare the cookie dough.

In a large bowl mix the margarine or shortening, brown sugar, white sugar, salt, and vanilla with a hand mixer for about 1 minute. Add in the flour and mix together until the dough is just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and set aside.

In another large bowl or in a food processor combine the cream cheese and sugar. Blend until well combined. Add in the corn starch and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Pour the cheesecake mixture on top of the prepared graham cracker crust. Form teaspoon sized balls of cookie dough and place on top of the cheesecake mixture. Be sure to use all of the cookie dough.

Bake for about 30 minutes until the cookie dough is browned and firm. Move the bars to a cooling rack and allow to cool. The bars are best when refrigerated overnight, but refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment paper over-hang. Cut into squares and serve!


January 8, 2012

Vegan Heartland's 1 Year Anniversary Giveaway!!


I'm so excited to do this giveaway for you all - you have no idea! I wish I was getting one of these prize packages. Since I'm celebrating my 1 Year anniversary with Vegan Heartland (and all of you!), I wanted to show my appreciation for all of my readers! Thank you for reading my blog, reading and preparing my recipes, leaving the nicest comments for me, and being there with me each step of the way. I love what I'm doing and the small amount of success that I've had is all thanks to you!! So what better way to thank you than throw some free stuff your way -right?! Each package is filled with some of my ALL TIME favorite products and companies! I contacted a few people who were more than happy to send me some products and coupons to give to you guys. So let me tell you guys which companies are represented in the prize packages...


Tofurky

At Turtle Island Foods, their Tofurky and tempeh products are created to promote the health and vitality of both the people and the ecosystems of our "island" home. For almost 30 years they have worked to create delicious, nutritious, convenient and affordable vegetarian food that make a difference in people’s lives and have a minimal impact on the environment. Turtle Island Foods, the makers of Tofurky, was kind enough to send me a package full of coupons, brochures, buttons, bumper stickers, and super cute temporary tattoos. They also sent me an amazing lunch box and t-shirt (that I totally wanted to keep...)!


BONUS ENTRY: "Like" Tofurky on Facebook
BONUS ENTRY: "Follow" Tofurky on Twitter


Gardein

Gardein makes some of the best faux-meats on the market! Their Crispy Tenders are to die for and the best part is, nobody had to die for them! Plus, their Chick'n Scallopini is so versatile, you can use it in so many recipes! I have so many packages of Gardein products in my freezer right now it's crazy! I'm currently obsessed with their Chipotle Lime Chik'n Fingers! They're a super easy option for someone who works out and is seeking a diet high in protein like me!

BONUS ENTRY: "Like" Gardein on Facebook
BONUS ENTRY: "Follow" Gardein on Twitter


So Delicious

It's no secret that I love So Delicious. They make some of the best Dairy Free foods that you'll find anywhere. My favorite Non-Dairy milk is their Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage...I use it in almost all of my baking! It's so creamy and so delicious! And their frozen desserts are crazy good! Have you guys tried their Ice Cream sweetened with Stevia? The Butter Pecan flavor is amazing!

BONUS ENTRY: "Like" So Delicious on Facebook
BONUS ENTRY: "Follow" So Delicious on Twitter

Earth Balance

Earth Balance just makes baking so much easier. Most margarines contain hydrogenated oils as the main ingredient, but Earth Balance stands apart. Earth Balance Natural Spreads are based on a proprietary blend of expeller-pressed oils developed and patented by researches at Brandeis University. They're 100% natural, rich in Omega-3's, free of GMO's, trans-fats, and hydrogenated oils. It's the perfect replacement for butter in all of your baking and cooking!


BONUS ENTRY: "Like" Earth Balance on Facebook
BONUS ENTRY: "Follow" Earth Balance on Twitter


Rhythm Superfoods


You've never had Kale chips like Rhythm Superfoods. Their flavors of Kale Chips include Zesty Nacho, Kool Ranch, Bombay Curry, Mango Habanero, and Texas BBQ! They also offer Sweet Potato Chips in Sea Salt and Hickory BBQ flavors. They're amazing! They start with farm fresh organic vegetables, season them with spices and dehydrate them at a low temperature for hours until they are crispy and delicious. This gentle process leaves the vital nutrients and enzymes intact, while delivering the amazing fresh flavors you can find in their kale chips and sweet potato chips.


BONUS ENTRY: "Like" Rhythm Superfoods on Facebook
BONUS ENTRY: "Follow" Rhythm Superfoods on Twitter


Organic Food Bar


As you all probably know - I've tried my hand at P90x. I've never actually finished the 90 days, but if you combine all of the times I've started it - I'm sure it equals 90 days! A major part of my daily diet while doing an intense workout plan are the Protein bars from Organic Food BarWith 22 grams of easy-to-digest organic protein from Organic Almond Butter and Organic Brown Rice, their Protein bar won't make you feel lousy like other refined protein bars do. This bar is just right for Vegans who are seeking more protein in their diets. Plus, they're Protein bar is also awesome for athletes who need to stave off muscle breakdown! Not only are the bars delicious, but Organic Food Bar is a 100% Solar Powered company and uses only FSC paper!


BONUS ENTRY: "Follow" Organic Food Bar on Twitter

Go Max Go Foods


Take a bite of a Go Max Go candy bar - and you're life feels complete. These guys mean business with their line of delicious and cruelty free candy. They offer 6 different types of candy from peanut butter cups to their Jokerz bar that contains caramel, peanuts, nougat, all covered in a rice-milk chocolatey coating - are you drooling now?! They also get bonus points for naming their company after Max, their dog that lived for 16 1/2 years!


Alright. Now let's get to what each prize package includes. There will be 3 Grand Prize packages and 2 smaller prize packages. Here's what each package contains:

Grand Prize Package #1: The winner of package #1 will receive:

  1. An adorable lunch box, 2 buttons, a bumper sticker, 2 temporary tattoos, and a coupon for a free product from Tofurky
  2. 1 package of Sweet Potato Chips from Rhythm Superfoods
  3. 1 case of Protein Bars from Organic Food Bar
  4. 2 candy bars from Go Max Go Foods
  5. 1 coupon for a free product from So Delicious
  6. 2 coupons from Gardein for a free product of your choice + 4 coupons for $1 off
  7. 2 coupons for free products (for their new Mayo and Coconut Spread)  from Earth Balance.


Grand Prize Package #2: The winner of package #2 will receive:

  1. A super cute T-shirt, 2 buttons, a bumper sticker, 2 temporary tattoos, and a coupon for a free product from Tofurky
  2. 1 package of Kale Chips from Rhythm Superfoods
  3. 1 case of Protein Bars from Organic Food Bar
  4. 2 candy bars from Go Max Go Foods
  5. 1 coupon for a free product from So Delicious
  6. 2 coupons from Gardein for a free product of your choice + 4 coupons for $1 off
  7. 2 coupons for free products (for their new Mayo and Coconut Spread)  from Earth Balance.



Grand Prize Package #3: The winner of package #3 will receive:

  1. 2 really great oven mitts and 2 coupons for free products (for their new Mayo and Coconut Spread)  from Earth Balance
  2. 2 buttons, 2 temporary tattoos, and a coupon for a free product from Tofurky
  3. 1 package of Sweet Potato Chips from Rhythm Superfoods
  4. 1 case of Protein Bars from Organic Food Bar
  5. 2 candy bars from Go Max Go Foods
  6. 1 coupon for a free product from So Delicious
  7. 2 coupons from Gardein for a free product of your choice + 4 coupons for $1 off.


2 Smaller Prize Packages: The winners of the 2 smaller packages will receive:

  1. 1 coupon for a free product from So Delicious
  2. 1 coupon for a free product from Gardein
  3. 3 coupons for free product from Earth Balance


I know there's quite a few ways to enter this contest, but I also wanted to say thank you to the companies that have supported me over the past year. So please go to their Facebook and Twitter pages to follow and like them! They're amazing companies! The more ways you sign up, the better your chances to win!

1. Follow Vegan Heartland with your Google Account (http://feeds.feedburner.com/VeganHeartland)
2. "Like" Vegan Heartland on Facebook
3. Follow @VeganHeartland on Twitter
4. Write a post about my giveaway on your blog or website and link back to my giveaway! And don't forget to leave a link to your post in your entry comment.
5. Comment for each BONUS ENTRY from above!


I'm giving everyone enough time to enter so don't worry! The contest will end at 11:59 pm on January 22nd, 2012. I will announce the winners on January 23rd, 2012! Winners will be chosen by random.org! Contest only open to U.S. residents!


Don't forget to leave a comment on this post for each time you enter! You must leave a comment in order to enter!

January 4, 2012

Single Serving Chocolate Chip Cookie


Yay! My first post in the New Year! And what better way to start out the new year than with a delicious and easy chocolate chip cookie! It's taken me a few tries, but I've finally come up with a recipe for single-serving chocolate chip cookies that I think you guys are going to love! I love experimenting with these single-serving desserts. It's perfect for people who don't want a whole plate of cookies sitting in their kitchen, begging to be eaten! For those who have little to no self control when it comes to sweets - this dessert is the answer for you! This chocolate chip cookie is the perfect combination of soft and chewy, with just a little bit of crisp!

I know I still haven't added a recipe for a batch of chocolate chip cookies here on Vegan Heartland, but I'm planning on doing one within the next couple of months! I went through some of my Grandma's recipes a few weeks ago and borrowed some recipes I thought looked tempting! One of them being a recipe for chocolate chip cookies. The recipe was so frayed and worn out - I knew it had to be a keeper.

There's a couple of things you need to know when making this cookie. If you mix the ingredients and the dough seems a bit dry, try adding another 1/2 tsp of non-dairy milk. If you don't want to use margarine - you could always try using a light oil or applesauce. I'm experimenting with other flavors of cookies (I'm working on a Single Serving Oatmeal Raisin Cookie right now) and I tried applesauce in that one. It came out a bit "cake-y", but I'm not giving up yet!

After the 10 minutes are up and the cookie isn't flat enough for you - grab the fork you mixed the ingredients with and press down on the cookie while it's still in the oven! Then you've got yourself a classic chocolate chip cookie!

*Makes 1 cookie*

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp Earth Balance Spread (or your favorite margarine)
  • 1/2 tbsp non-dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Beverage)
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tbsp chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl mix together the flour, brown sugar, and baking powder. Add in the Earth Balance Spread and mix together with the dry ingredients thoroughly with a fork. Pour in the non-dairy milk and vanilla. Mix together just until the batter comes together. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Place the dough on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes until the cookie is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack until the cookie is set and ready to eat!