Maple Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have not posted a dessert recently but I thought I would go with something that was healthy but that did not lack in flavor or taste.

When I saw this recipe on one my favorite blogs, I knew it was time for me to make another gluten-free cookie. When Ryan asks me like he is feeling like a cookie, I tell him I am making something new and not his regular recipe. I was not in the mood to do any butter or egg substitutions so I decided to go with this NEW recipe.

I knew that my pantry had all the necessary ingredients to make this cookie recipe happen so I was excited. If you are interested in dairy-free and gluten-free baking it is important to have the essentials in your pantry. Here are some of the items I have:
  • Brown Rice flour
  • Chickpea flour
  • Tapioca flour
  • Xantham gum
  • Guar gum
  • Maple syrup
  • Palm sugar
  • Buckwheat flour
Maybe you look at the list and wonder what delicious and moist baked good can come out of this, but it is amazing the recipes that are being created among those who CANNOT tolerate wheat.

Amy at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free has GREAT recipes and has her own book deal coming soon.

Alta at Tasty Eats At Home has lovely gluten-free every day meals.

And then there is Alisa at One Frugal Foodie who I recently discovered. She founded informational site Go Dairy Free in 2004, wrote the limited edition guide Dairy Free Made Easy in 2006.

She has wonderful recipes for any person who is gluten-free, vegan, or for specific allergies.

This is how I came to find this great recipe for these chocolate chip cookies. I had a craving but I did not want something ladened with fats or sugars, so I decided to make this QUICK cookie recipe that had me eating one within 45 minutes. How about that? The original recipe is found in The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook.

The recipe was slightly adapted since I found out I ran out of cashews and maple syrup but I easily susbtituted and the cookies came out great! Enjoy with a glass of almond milk tonight!

Maple Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

makes 18-20

1/2 Cup Raw Almonds (substituted for cashews)
1 Cup Brown Rice Flour
1/4 Cup Tapioca Starch or Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Xanthan Gum
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/3 Cup Coconut Oil, softened
2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
4 Tablespoons Palm Sugar, Evaporated Cane Juice (Sucanat) or Brown Sugar (I used the Palm Sugar from Navitas Naturals)
2 Teaspoons Warm Water
1/4 Cup grain-sweetened Chocolate Chips

Preheat your oven to 350ºF.

Place the nuts in your spice grinder (or food processor) and pulse until you get a powdery /coarse flour-like consistency. It is okay if a few little almonds bits remain, but if you go too far with the grinding, the almonds will turn into a nut butter.

In a mediume bowl, combine the almond flour, brown rice flour, tapioca, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Briefly set aside.

In a mixing bowl, blend the oil, maple syrup, sugar, and water. Blend in the flour mixture until you get a nice dough. Stir in the chocolate chips.

The dough may seem a bit sticky / greasy, but I still found it fairly easy to loosely shape into balls and place on the cookie sheet (I line mine with a silicone baking mat). If the dough is just too much to handle, pop it in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes, it will firm up quickly. Flatten the dough balls a bit – these cookies don’t spread much as they cook, so what you see is what you get.

Bake the cookies for 12 minutes. Remove them to a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes. If your husband’s greedy hands try to pop them off the baking sheet while hot, they will be crumbly, but they do firm up quite a bit as they cool.


Coconut Bacon -{A vegan's dream come true}

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
How has this week come to Thursday already?? I mean I will take it but it has flown by! Ryan had a production in Ann Arbor with the Blue Lake singers so that meant a little trip out to this nice town to see my husband in action and to enjoy some vegan goodies!

Before the performance, we went to Seva, one of my new favorite vegan restaurants in Ann Arbor. When Ryan asks me where I want to go, I just tell him this place because there isn't a single vegan restaurant where we live. He is nice about letting his wife choose. Idecided I wanted breakfast even though when I got the dish I thought it could be an anytime dish. Rancheros are usually made with a fried egg with a crispy tortilla, but this came with a crispy corn tortilla with a layer of black beans, then chargrilled tempeh with salsa topped with soy cheese and a side of salad. SO GOOD!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

I accompanied this with a green juice with carrots, cucumbers, parlsey and ginger.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
My meal was very complete! If you ever drive through Ann Arbor go check this place out. It is always crowded with folks.

After dinner, Ryan changed and I sat in the beautiful hall where the choir and orchestra performed Mendelssohn's Elijah for 2.5 hours.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
Onto some goodies I came across this week. You have heard me talk about coconut water and how full of electrolytes and minerals that this fruit contains. I have been craving it like no other and have been drinking it before a workout or even after my workouts. But what to do with all this coconut meat I have left?

I had been noticing talk about coconut bacon around the blogosphere and wondered how NEW this concept was. I looked around different sites and even googled the idea of substituting the heart-clogging version. Can you believe that the ROYAL BACON SOCIETY has a recipe for the coconut version??? Wonders never cease. Here is the recipe:

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Coconut Bacon

makes 1 to 1 1/2 cups

slightly adapted from the original

3 large handfuls of bulk coconut meat
1 tablespoon liquid smoke (I left this out)
2 tablespoons soy sauce/ tamari
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a medium cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Mix the ingredients in a medium bowl except the coconut.

Start by removing the coconut meat from the shell and peeled the unwanted portions and start slicing the coconut meat in think slices. I was thinking that a microplane would work but that just shaved the meat. I just sliced it with a sharp knife.

As you slice, place coconut in the marinade. Once you finish slicing the meat, marinate the coconut for 15 minutes.

Spread the coconut meat on the baking sheet and place in oven.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until it starts getting crispy. It will continue getting crispier when it gets to room temperature.

I have used this for my green salads and is delicious! Now I have to make a BLT sandwich! I think this tastes better at room temperature. YUM!

This salad has grilled tofu on top and coconut too!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

CSN $50 giftcard winner!

We have a winner ya'll! Thanks to everyone who entered this fun giveaway! I look forward to hosting another one soon, so stay tuned!

I am excited to let you know that Rachel Crisman of The Dalai Mama has won this $50 CSN giftcard. Thanks so much for visiting and entering the giveaway. Please send me an email with your email address so that CSN can send you the promo code.

Thanks again everyone!


Vegan Eggplant Timbale

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

I hope everyone is surviving this heat and humidity. We have been keeping busy trying no to let the summer colds come out in full blast.

I had several comment a few days back letting me know that coconut water was the thing to drink to relieve migraines and to regain some electrolyte balance. My mother had also mentioned it to me so I remembered I had a coconut in my fridge and decided to open it and drink the water. Do you know that my Glass Dharma straw fit in the coconut hole I made? YES! The coconut water was cold and delicious and restored my energy because I needed it.

I went to a zumba class in the evening after going to a kickboxing class in the morning. I wanted to go to zumba since I had not been since returning to MI. I learned that the gym had hired a new instructor who supposedly teaches at another gym. Before the class started I also learned from the ladies that the instructor has a cult following. What type of class was this going to be? The zumba class was FANTASTIC!! It was an hour long RIGOUROUS workout with fun music and a fabulous instructor. There were even close to 25 women in the class, more than any of the classes I had attended. I just hope that the gym gets her signed up to teach more classes!

Either way, I figured that this type of class would induce a migraine, but it did not because I had my coconut water. Thanks everyone!

Since I have been working out alot, I have been craving protein. I am still enjoying my pre-workout smoothie but after I come back I am ready for breakfast. Yesterday I made a mini tofu scramble with soy chorizo and dinosaur kale and tomato slices. It was so delicious and filling.

When it came to dinner this week, I decided to revisit a recipe I made before going vegan that I saw on Food Network, called Eggplant Timbale. Giada had prepared it and made it look so delicious, but it called for pork sausage and ground beef and tons of cheese. Yes, I admit I made it and it was good, but these are the sort of meals I was trying to stay away from since they did not seem healthy to me.

When making the vegan version, I decided to make it super simple and uncomplicated so that even though specific ingredients were removed from the original recipe, this would be a great vegan substitute for the original.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Vegan Eggplant Timbale

serves 2

1 cup dry spelt penne (or your choice of penne pasta)
1 cup pasta sauce (I used Bertolli for time sake)
1/2 cup Daiya cheese (or mozzarella)
1/2 link of Field Roast Sausage
4 slices of roasted eggplant, sliced lengthwise

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Heat your grill pan. Peel the eggplant and cut 1/2 inch slices lengthwise. Brush each side with olive oil and salt and pepper.
Grill until softened for about 3-5 minutes.

Boil pasta according to package directions. Once cooked, drain water and add pasta sauce to hot pasta along with cheese and sausage.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Layer the eggplant pieces within a 16 ounce corningware dish. The pieces can overlap.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Add the pasta inside the dish and seal the pasta with the eggplant.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes.

Place a dish on the corningware and flip it around in order for the timbale to slip out. It should not break apart. Split between two people and enjoy with a green salad.

Go check out One Frugal Foodie for a great cookbook giveaway!


Something exciting is coming!

I do not know if you have noticed but, I have introduced a NEW badge on the left side of my blog that is blue and white indicating that "something exciting is coming!" Well folks, there is!

On August 10th, you will be able to buy products directly from my shop, DIRECTLY from my blog! How cool is that? I have decided to partner up with OpenSky, which is a company that brings together shopkeepers to sell what they are most passionate about using on a day to day basis. I would be one of these people connecting YOU to products I love to use.

What is so different about this and just having you go to Amazon or any other online shop? Well, you can shop directly from my blog without having to leave it. You will be able to peruse the products I have chosen like my favorite food products, jewelry, music, health products, health books,and more!

Yes, you would be able to shop for those items without having to search for them and they would be at comparable prices too! What better way to shop than to shop from someone you know and trust. :)

If you are interested in having your OWN shop or if you are a supplier, then you are ALSO welcome to join the OpenSky community.  This is about bringing the best, which means I will be providing a shop with items that are lasting and are great to use.

If you have favorite products you would want to see in my shop, let me know and I can make that possible. Thanks!

Stay tuned to exciting events and promos coming soon!


Wild Mushroom Pâté with Crudités

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

I hope everyone has had a great weekend because the week is upon us already! My weekend was filled with interesting tidbits ranging from a crazy and deranged migraine to a mildly sick husband to a then nice visit with a friend from Texas. I know it is a mixture of things but I can say right now that my Sunday is ending on a nice note.

I think I finally figured what might be bringing about these migraines this weekend. I ended up chatting with another fellow blogger who also expressed her migraine woes from this weekend. We finally agreed it had to do with this darn humidity and heat. I know y'all are probably sick of me expressing my migraine woes but I think I have honed in on a nice cure for the meantime. I am totally NOT a pill popper when treating ailments but God reminded me of the Natural Remedies book in my library, so I turned to the migraine page and read on the herbs that are good for migraines. I loved the herbs that they listed because I had most of them in my kitchen. I started with my base tea:
  •  1 cup hot water 
  •  1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 tsp agave nectar
And then added the herbs recommended:
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ginger juice or root grated
I drank this Friday night before going to bed and literally went to bed with NO pain! Praise the Lord. I had also rubbed a Headache Ease Oil on my pressure points which consisted of peppermint, lavendar, rosemary, wintergreen, ylang-ylang, roman chamomile, clove, and jojoba oil. This was and is very soothing!

I know that migraines can be painful but there is a natural solution. Beside the detox that I am currently on, I am taking calcium and magnesium and other minerals. Studies show that migraines are due to an electrolyte imbalance so having a daily dose of minerals is essential.

I awoke Saturday ready to have my voice lesson. Since Ryan had a sore throat, he decided to stay home since it is not good to sing while sick. I had a wonderful lesson vocalizing and sustaining to a high D. I was so happy. I love working on my range for sure! We then focused on an aria from Puccini's opera Turandot called Signore Ascolta.  I had it memorized and performed it for my teacher. We then worked on phrasing and interpretation and sustaining the right high notes. After a few tries I finally got it. I was so happy! Here is what the aria sounds like:

After this voice lesson, I visited Holland's farmer's market and found a delicious amount of veggies, ready to be consumed for the week.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

I decided that dinner had to be surrounded by raw veggies and a new recipe I recently saw on C'est La Vegan. Even though this is a mock pâté, it is, in my opinion, a GREAT vegan version. I hate to admit it but my Chilean grandmother used to serve liver pâté with chilean biscuits at tea time. Egad! I am glad that was just on several occasions and not a regular habit. Anyway, this Mushroom Pâté is very flavorful and is even better tasting the day after.

Prepare the pâté the day before or early in the morning so that the flavors have time to come together. I served it with raw veggies otherwise known as crudités. I used my zucchini, celery and a lemon cucumber that I found. I had never had a lemon cucumber and was excited to try it.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

I started by using oyster mushrooms and I sauteed them with onions, garlic, and thyme until the liquid evaporated.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Then I placed them in the food processor with ground almonds and olive oil and a little sea salt to come to this final product. Enjoy!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Wild Mushroom Pâté

adapted from C'est La Vegan

makes 2 cups

2 cup finely chopped white onions
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cup finely chopped wild mushrooms (combo of shitake and oyster mushrooms)
1 1/2 teaspoons dry thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup toasted almonds, finely ground
1/2 tsp Herbamare (Seasoned salt)
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Toast the ground almonds in the oven on 400F for 3-5 minutes until golden brown.

Sauté the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and thyme in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until the liquids evaporate. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the almonds and the remaining olive oil. In a food processor, combine the mushroom mixture and the almond mixture, the balsamic vinegar and Herbamare.

Chill and serve with crackers or vegetables.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Don't Forget! You have until July 28th to enter the $50 CSN Giftcard Giveaway!


BBQ Seitan Ribz

BBQ Seitan Ribz with Romaine and Kale Salad
From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Today was my first day plunging back into my exercise routine and boy did it have repercussions. I woke up at 8am and chose to go to my gym's kickboxing class since I knew that I was not going to be able to go in the evening. I remember telling the instructor that I would be taking my own pace since I did not want to over do it. I felt like I did the best not to over work myself, but I still ended up with a red face. What does a red face usually mean for me? An impending migraine except I did not think it would affect me.

After my workout I came home and blended my morning smoothie with the new protein shake and detox meal that my naturopath gave me and made sure I followed my meal plan based on 1300 calories. I tried not to make it hard for myself when I found out I was eating too much fruit. A body that has not been detoxed tends to have other issues such as problems with too much yeast. My fruit intake require attention which meant I only can half 1/2 cup berries counting as 1 serving. I think I am going to be all right. The good thing is that I continue to make my green smoothies with half water and half almond milk. I was glad to know that the smoothie did not taste all too bad.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

My work day continued and I kept in mind that I was to eat every 3 hours whether it was a snack, lunch, or another smoothie. Do you know that I felt full most of the day? I really did not crave anything but I felt like I was full of good stuff.

Upon rising: Vitamin C powder (1tsp) in water

Breakfast: Protein Smoothie with berries, almond milk, and spinach

Snack (skipped) was too full from smoothie

Lunch: Leftover Multi-colored Green Salad

Pre-workout Snack: Another smoothie

Dinner: BBQ Seitan Ribz with a big green salad.

I played raquetball with Ryan even with a headache but at my own pace. I managed to get dinner together and decided I did not want to take anything for my migraine since I was detoxing. I did not see the need to ingest unnecessary pills. But here I am at 11pm, after 9 hours of this dreadful headache, wondering if I eill be able to sleep tonight and be ready for a VOICE LESSON! Sigh. I hope and pray so! All I know is that tomorrow is another day and today is an evening to share a new recipe for me.

Seitan is the new vegan meat for me. I first tried seitan when I bought Uptons Naturals and made the Lasagna in a Bowl and Supreme Vegan Pizza. I really like their products but since they only sell them at Whole Foods and it is nearly an hour away, I decided it was time to try my hand at making seitan. Now I know I have many non-vegan readers so I want to start by explaining what seitan is made of.

Seitan is pronounced SAY-tan and is "'wheat meat.' It's made by a process that removes the starch and bran from whole wheat flour. The result is a dough-like food with a high gluten content which has no saturated fat or cholesterol." Essentially it is considered a wheat protein and is heavily consumed by vegans.

It has been nearly 10 months since I transitioned into veganism and I had yet tried making my own. I had read many articles and blog posts sharing that it was MUCH MORE tastier when made at home as opposed to buying it pre-made.

How did I decide what recipe to make? Well, it all depended on the time I had so I came across Susan's recipe on Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. It sounded too easy since most recipes required boiling or steaming. Even so, I decided to make her recipe which required oven baking and grilling. I had a hard time planning tonight's meal because I had not tasted this recipe so I winged it. This dinner came out more like a COOKOUT meal than ever. I steamed some corn for Ryan and I made a big romaine lettuce and kale salad to accompany the Seitan Ribz. The seitan recipe is a mock on real ribs, which I NEVER preferred, but this recipe won me over.

I mixed the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

I mixed them together to bring the dough together. I used my hands since it require kneading.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

I then sprayed coconut oil on an 8x* glass dish and spread the dough onto the dish. I cut the dough in 16 parts with a knife.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

It baked for 25 minutes, while I preheated a stovetop grill with olive oil. When the seitan was baked, I added 1 1/2 Tbsp BBQ sauce and brushed until evenly spread. I turned it over on the grill for a great flavor.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

After 5 minutes, I removed from heat and RIBZ were ready to pull apart!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Prepare a big salad and enjoy!

BBQ Seitan Ribz

serves 4

slightly adapted from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

1 cup vital wheat gluten
2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons tahini or other nut butter
1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke (I omitted, since this is not healthy, I added Dijon)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 Tbsp BBQ sauce + more for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly spray an 8×8 baking dish with coconut spray. Mix the first 5 ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix the water with the nut butter, Dijon, and soy sauce and add it to the dry ingredients. Stir to mix well and then knead lightly in the bowl for a couple of minutes.

Put the dough into the baking dish and flatten it so that it evenly fills the pan. Take a sharp knife and cut it into 8 strips; then turn the pan and cut those strips in half to form 16 pieces:

Put it in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. While it’s cooking,  prepare your grill.

Remove it from the oven and carefully re-cut each strip, going over each cut to make sure that the ribz will pull apart easily later. Generously brush the top with barbecue sauce. Take it to the grill and invert the whole baking dish onto the grill (or use a large spatula to lift the seitan out, placing it sauce-side down on the grill). Brush the top of the seitan with more sauce:

Watch it closely to make sure that it doesn’t burn. When it’s sufficiently brown on one side, turn over and cook the other side, adding more sauce, if necessary. When done, remove to a platter and cut or pull apart the individual ribs to serve.

Multi-colored Green Salad with Tortilla Strips and Avocado-Serrano Dressing

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
We are finally home after an extra few days in Texas. We returned to find all things where they should be along with some sad plants and herbs. I quickly watered them and waited for them to look happy. Evidently there had been some hot weather since there were some patches of scorched grass.

We settled in and started talking about how our exercise routine needed to be back in place. I wondered today why it tended to be so hard to exercise while visiting family. I know that while on a vacation, I like walking ALOT and forget using any form of transportation, so I know I will be getting lots of excerise, but while visiting family, well that is another thing. We are terribly disciplined at home and even work out twice in one day, but it amazes me that I can't seem to fit in my exercise DVDs.

Does anyone else seem to have this problem?

Today I just eased into a gentle routine and planned to start my workout routine with a little Zumba. Little did I know that when I arrived the class had been cancelled! The gym is pretty good about sending emails communicating cancellations but it seemed to happen very last minute that there was no time. I returned home and decided to do a workout DVD for 30 minutes since I promised to visit the kickboxing class tomorrow. I kind of feel like I am going to be sorry about that. I am trying to stay positive.

Tomorrow I start back on my prescribed calorie intake of 1300 calories along with my protein supplement for my smoothies and all my vitamins and minerals. Today I was reminded of a verse in Matthew 4:4 "Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.' "

Even though I keep a food blog I tend to focus on food too much at times and am reminded that food is for nourishment. Even though I have some people tell me I must spend SO SO much preparing meals and planning such fancy dishes, I do not feel that I am cooking any differently than when I was preparing non-vegan meals. Ryan has even been told that he should look double his size with the foods I have been cooking. I know that sometimes people speak out of ignorance, but what people do not know is that this vegan lifestyle has been a personal conviction to focus on whole foods and to bring my physical lifestyle into check.

So what does all this mean? I hope that you continue enjoying the recipes that I keep posting because even though it is a recipe journal this is also a blog about my journey to regain control and discipline. Abusing this temporal body is not what I am called to do.

Moving right along...Today I made a delicious Berry Parfait Torte for dessert and an enormous dinner salad to cleanse my stomach. I started with picking some serrano peppers from my pots. I was happy to put them to good use.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

I deveined these a bit and seeded them and set them aside for the dressing. The salad I envisioned was going to be a fusion of a Mexican and a Raw Green Salad that could be prepared in a salad bar. I added shredded carrots and beets for fiber along with some chickpeas for MORE fiber! Cilantro gave it it's Mexican flair while the avocado-serrano dressing sealed all the flavors. Tortilla strips came in for the crunch.

Enjoy this salad since it is a hearty and healthy salad that has all the essentials.

I submitted this to My Kitchen Addiction Salad Challenge for Kitchen Bootcamp!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Multi-colored Green Salad with Tortilla Strips and Avocado-Serrano Dressing

serves 6

5 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 beet, spiralized or grated
2 carrots, spiralized or grated
1/2 English cucumber, peeled
1 1/2 cups chickpeas

Wash all the vegetables and peel the beets, carrots, and cucumbers. Add to a big salad bowl.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Baked Tortilla Strips
8 tortillas, cut in 1/4 inch strips lengthwise

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Place tortilla strips on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Avocado-Serrano Dressing
2 serrano peppers, deveined and seeded
1 tomato, quarted
1 avocado, seeded and peeled
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Prepare all the vegetables and place in a food processor and blend well. This dressing is going to be a bit thick but perfect as the dressing. Prepare first before the salad so that it can be refrigerated before preparations.


Add dressing and tortilla strips to the salad bowl and toss with salad dressing.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Do not forget to enter the $50 CSN giftcard giveaway! This giftcard can be uused on anything in their stores.


$50 CSN gift card GIVEAWAY

This seems the perfect time to feature a giveaway since I have yet to arrive back from my holidays. Even though I have had the opportunity to cook and bake at least a little even though I did not get to use any heavy duty cookware like my  Le Creuset pot or grill. Oh well, I have one more day till I return to my comfy home where my african violet and kitchen are waiting.

I am so happy to offer this gift card to any person that has any direct affliation with CSN or to any person that has never heard of them. I have enjoyed browsing through the CSN stores to get ideas since they have over 200 stores to peruse!

If you are a raw foodie, these mini spring form pans would be great for raw desserts:

Or if you love to make paninis and warm sandwiches, this All-Clad grill would be a perfect grill to buy with your giftcard:

Do you travel alot? How about a personal blender with a travel lid made by Hamilton Beach?? I am jealous, because now I want one of those!

Do not miss this opportunity!  Increase your chances of winning by doing the following:

Mandatory entry:

1. GO to CSN Stores website, and tell me what you would love to buy. (Leave a comment)

Extra entries:

2. Subscribe to my blog by entering your email address on the right hand side. (leave a comment)

3. Tweet about my giveaway daily : "Win a $50 CSN giftcard @singerinkitchen website and spend it on anything! http://bit.ly/c4i8WL" (1 entry daily, leave a comment with the tweet link)

4. Follow on Google Friend Connect and leave a comment letting me know.

5. "Like" Opera Singer in the Kitchen on Facebook: leave a comment letting me know.

6. Post this giveaway on your blog and leave a comment with your link.

This contest will end on Wednesday, July 28th at midnight. After I pick the winner, I will email CSN your email address and they will send you a code for the $50 gift card to use on ANYTHING!

Until then, good luck and remember that you can order ANYTHING off this website if you win!

BTW, if you are interested in ANOTHER giveaway, check out Tasty Eats At Home for a Tropical Traditionals Coconut OIl giveaway! This is a great product.

I have posted this giveaway on Giveaway Scout which is a website that includes all blog giveaways, contests and sweepstakes in one place and brings you the latest giveaway promotions with products ranging from coupons and samples to high value jewelry and electronics.


Vegan eats and 3 days later

Hello folks. Today I figured I would be writing from Michigan but instead I post from Houston. We were getting ready for our flight on Saturday and geting ready to say our goodbyes, while Ryan was going to print our boarding passes when he returned to to me and shut the bedroom door. He begins by telling me that we missed our flight. Instead of flying on Saturday we were supposed to fly on Friday. D'oh!

I was amazed that I hardly had a reaction. I mean what could we do? All we had to do was wait for the next flight. Um, no. Our next possible flight would be for Wednesdays, 4 day later. Thanks GOD that we did not have to pay extra but our frequent flyer miles were transferable. Thumbs up! Have you ever asked yourself why things like this happen? I mentioned to Ryan that we needed to thank God for protecting us and even though we do NOT know why we missed our flight, we thank Him for our provisions.

Meanwhile, we have been trying to figure out how to spend our time. I mean that has not been hard. Work goes on normally for meanwhile Ryan figures it out for himself. Crazy how life is, so our 10 day trip turns out to be 14 days. What to do?

Tonight we hope to see Inception, which we have heard from LOTS of people say that it is by far the BEST movie EVER to come out. The screenplay has been in the works over 10 years so I guess it has to be a pretty perfect movie, eh?

Since we know we have extra days here I have been cooking fo my in-laws. Last night I made some brown rice to accompany two types of stir-fry. One had pressed and marinated tofu with mushrooms and another had chicken with the same veggies.

After we ate dinner we had time to rest before having some cinnamon rolls. These are cinnamon rolls made for muffin cups but this is the second time they do not rise as they should. I think I am officially not a good cinnamon roll expert. Probably good that I am not great at this type of bread recipe. :)

These were perfect for the afternoon rain we received.

You know what is also perfect? Iced coffee. Ryan had extra french press coffee left over from a Starbucks visit and he split it with me. I poured som agave and almond milk over ice and coffee and perfections!

How has everyone's weekend been?


A naturopathic visit after 9 months

Hello from humid and hot Houston. We have two and a half days before we return home but no rush since it will probably will be hot and humid in Michigan. We have loved visiting with family and visiting friends and enjoying good laughs.

One thing I also took advantage of while being in Houston was to make sure I was able to go to a naturopath. I expressed 2 months that I had not seen ANY weight change despite my energy and overall increased exercise regimen. I have been playing racquetball in afternoons while I added a Zumba class and recently added a kickboxing class.

I tried looking for a naturopath in Michigan but I was not getting much help from area folks. So after a few days in Houston, I was recommended a naturopath and nutritionist that had helped a mission pastor's wife regain hormonal balance. After that, the whole family started seeing the naturopath. This is what I needed. I immediately made an appointment and found out that the test included hair analysis, a quick blood test and many other things.

Even though I have lost nearly 25 pounds, I KNOW my body was missing something or that perhaps I was doing something wrong. Ryan agreed and totally back my going to this recommended naturopath.

I had a body composition test performed where I was later told what my current Body Mass Index was and what my ideal weight should be for my height. I had been asked what my goal weight was and the naturopath stated it was healthy. The test also indicated the amount of fat my body was carrying which helped to know this number. I know God has been giving me strength not to look at numbers, but to know that I am wanting to make a change. THIS IS A BIG STEP.

The test also explained my cell health through the Extracellular cell and Intracellular cell. The extracellular water is the amount of water OUTSIDE of the cell. Higher levels indicate fluid retention, toxicity, allergies, stress, malabsorption, and insulin resistance. I have HIGH levels opf at least 8%. One important fact that I was trying to grasp and explain to Ryan and others that a person trying to lose weight can STILL be toxic. I felt that God had been revealing this to me and thus the reason for introducing a more RAW lifestyle.

The intracellular water is the amount of water inside the cell which is also the muscle water. Healthy cells maintain their integrity and hold their fluid inside. My levels were LOW which indicates low minerals and electrolytes at 9% the normal level.

Yes, I know it could sound depressing but for me it tells me the next step I need to take in addition to my eating lifestyle. I really had not been incorporating vitamins or minerals to my diet since I thought I could flush through the right foods I consumed. I then realized that a proper detoxification NEEDS to happen with the right consumption of vitamins and minerals.

My blood test indicated I am deficient in Vitamin B12. I was able to see a picture of my red blood cells floating with the occasional white blood cell indicating the B12 deficiency. How comforting, right? This is a picture of what one of my white blood cell looked like.

I also saw some red blood cells with a circle in the middle but there were not so many. It indicated a little anemia which was explained that it was attributed to the B12 deficiency. The following picture is a more pronounced case of anemia, but it shows you the nucleated red blood cell (circle in the middle).

All red blood cells need to be round and I had the occasional slightly oval red blood cell that indicated a little protein deficiency. I know that there have been people that have thought that people should not eat a certain way for their blood type but supposedly the naturopath explained that Type A blood did better with a vegetarian diet. I explained that I was following a vegan lifestyle and hoped not to incorporate eggs or dairy.

The naturopath stated that I would need to focus on making sure I was getting my 1300 calories for my body type and eating a food on the low glycemic chart. I sat down with the nutritionist and we realized I was eating all the right foods but that my limit on these foods needed attention. I am NOT to focus on too many grains but making sure I had one serving and to focus more on vegatables and proteins in the form of tofu, beans, and tempeh. I was fine with that.

All this set plan was to be supplemented with protein powders to be added to my daily smoothies. I was asked if I consumed smoothies or if it would be an issue. Good thing I was stuck on those. I was to start adding flaxseed oil to my smoothies so that I could be getting a dosI have of Omega nutrition for my essential fatty acids.Thumbs up. My protein powder is vegan so that was great. I was also given a detox powder to also add to my smoothie so that I can start detoxing my liver and gallbladder.

It feels GREAT to have direction for better health. If it is ANY encouragement to anyone having a hard time losing weight it has to do with the way our red blood cells show to us. How wonderful and powerful is that?

Who said making a lifestyle was easy? I totally do not want to discourage anyone, but despite my exercising EVERY day and eating well for the past 9 months, I have the seen results like others because I believe that my body needs to heal itself with detoxing and proper vitamin and mineral consumption. I hope and PRAY that 9 months from now I can be better informed and feel EVEN better.

The key is persistance and a good support system and God's strength. So even though people follow different lifestyles for ethical reasons I will follow it because God calls me to be a healthy person INSIDE and OUT through his strength and power not by my own strength. I look forward to the next 9 months and what it will show me.

S'mores Cupcakes

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

I finally get to post! I have missed posting and have been seriously busy in Houston. Not only has our time with family been very fruitful but it also has proved to be very busy. Ever since I moved from Texas to Michigan my schedule completely changed. While living in Houston I averaged 5 hours of sleep since I belonged to the Houston Grand Opera chorus and worked in my day job. Today I went into work and remembered how horrible traffic can be. Despite that, I was able to enjoy the sunrise this morning.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
NO harm or risks were taken to take this photo. :)  Tonight I came home very tired but happy that I did not have to do a commute in a busy city anymore. I remembered how stressed I was before. The stress level has considerably changed and I am glad.

Another thing we have been able to take advantage of while in the city is to visit friends. When we went over to our friends home I was told that dessert was to be our dish to share with them. I quickly referred to a saved recipe I saw at Kelly's website Vegan Thyme. She shared a beautiful creation that she veganized from Joy of Cooking that was originally called Black Bottom Cupcakes.

Since we were staying at my in-laws, I decided to enlist my sister-in-law to help me with the baking and assembly. While I worked on the graham cracker crust crumble, I proceeded to tell her how to mix the wet ingredients and dry ingredients. We chose to use regular sized cupcake pans lined with cupcake liners.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

We added a tablespoon of graham cracker crumbles  to the bottom of the cupcake liner and then topped with the chocolate batter. Here is my sis-in-law hard at work.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

It baked for 20 minutes and baked to perfection. Look at these beauties!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

While those cooled, we made the buttercream frosting to substitute the marshmallow portion of the original s'more concept. I did not have time to make vegan marshmellows but this frosting proved to be delicious!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

The chocolate sauce was the last step for the cupcake decoration. I used Newman's Own Chocolate 54% because it was milk fat free and because that was all I could find. I set that aside and checked out the cupcakes after 45 minutes of cooling. Look at the cupcake!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Does that look good or what?? The bakers take a break for a picture moment.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
We let the frosting set and the chocolate rest and we start removing the cupcake liners for the assembly process.

DISCLAIMER: These cupcakes are better THE DAY AFTER! Even though we assembled this the same night we made it, we only assembled 6 cupcakes for my in-laws and fam to try. After all, who brings new recipes to a dinner party? Well, I do sometimes.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

S'mores Cupcakes

makes a dozen cupcakes

Graham cracker bottom:
1-to-1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs made from whole graham crackers
4 tablespoons melted vegan butter
1/4 cup vegan sugar

Chocolate cupcake filling:
1 cup almond milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons vegan cocoa
1 cup vegan Sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
*reserved graham crackers for sprinkling over top of cupcakes

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

White buttercream frosting:
4 tablespoons vegan butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Chocolate ganache to drizzle over top of cupcakes:
1/3 cup vegan dark chocolate chips or bar
2 tablespoons vegan butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Use regular cupcake tins and line with cupcake papers.

Start with the graham cracker crumble. Pulse 10-12 crackers in a food processor until crumbley. Make sure you have 1 1/2 cups. Add the sugar. Melt the vegan butter, then add to crumbs and stir with a spoon. Mix well until combined.

Press about 1 tablespoons of graham cracker crumb mixture into the bottom of the cupcake tins.

Next, prep your chocolate cupcake mix. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients--beginning with flour, ending with salt.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together your wet ingredients. Add the almond milk and apple cider vinegar in a medium bowl and let it sit for 3-5 minutes until it curdles like buttermilk. Add the rest of the wet, ending with almond extract.

Now add the wet ingredients to the dry and stirring with a spoon, fold and mix together until the batter is fairly smooth--a few dry spots will be okay--you don't want to over mix--thus the spoon technique. Use a 1/4 measuring cup for smaller--either way, fill the cupcake holders to 1/2 full.

Bake for about 20 minutes. Insert toothpick after 20 minutes to see if a toothpick inserted in cupcake comes out clean or when pressed with your finger, the dough springs back. Remove from oven and allow cupcakes to cool completely for about 45 minutes.

Next, prep your frosting. Add vegan butter and about 1 cup of powdered sugar to a large bowl and mix well, then add teaspoon of vanilla extract and rest of powdered sugar--beating until the frosting is nice and creamy, but getting stiff--add more sugar and the almond milk if needed to get to desired frosting consistency. Fill a piping bag with frosting with desired piping tip for decorating.

Next, melt all ingredients for chocolate sauce or ganache in the microwave for about 30 seconds (depending upon your microwave). Let sit for 5 minutes.

Have extra graham crackers ready and cut in 1 inch squares for decorating.

Once cupcakes have completely cooled, begin the process of final frosting, topping with chocolate drizzle and ending with the graham cracker as decoration. Sprinkle crumbs over frosting. Enjoy!

Remember cupcakes TASTE BETTER the DAY AFTER! :) The flavors are even and blended after an extra day.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

S'mores Cupcakes With Buttercream Frosting
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