The First Mess Cookbook + A Review

The First Mess cookbook is a plant-based symposium by Laura Wright. For the past few years she’s created a repertoire of decadent vegetarian and vegan recipes accompanied by lyrical writing and exquisite photography on her award winning blog.
Nourishment and sensory-overload (in a good way) is what comes to mind when I think of Laura’s food philosophy. Like many, I first discovered her blog  a few years ago when I was in search of more plentiful plant recipes to fill keep variety flowing in my life. Because of my own need to avoid gluten and wheat based recipes, her website was (and is) a ripe source of information and produce based goodness.

the first mess cookbook

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Jessica Murnane’s Plant Based Grasshopper Pie

It’s March y’all and we are but a few weeks away from spring (march 20th 2017 to be exact!). Now that we are stepping away from the chill of winter its time to prepare for the changing of season, return of sunlight, and maybe even pie.

I came across Jessica Murnane’s Plant Based Grasshopper Pie via Glossed & Found. Now I spent some amount of my childhood in the South namely Virignia where my mothers side of the family still lives, and I cant blame them! Beside the existence of actual seasons, the bounty of nature is your literal neighbor, and a sense of Stars Hollow in the air – I do miss my roots.  Grasshopper Pie however is a retro southern dessert from the ‘50s and ‘60s. Its name comes from its green color and it’s a luscious amalgam of chocolate and mint. But the spin on this recipe happens to be vegan and gluten free and its color derives from algae. Spirulina is an excellent source of Vitamins A, K1, K2, B12, iron while also giving a boost of protein (2 grams per one teaspoon) which you can check out on Nutrex Hawaiian’s info page.
Jessica Murnane’s Plant Based Grasshopper Pie

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Blissful Basil Cookbook Review + A Giveaway

I am making a conscious effort to build and bloom better health habits. This involves taking initiative into myown hands and setting my pricipes to practices. Health is more than topical: its what we ingest. I believe in moderation, treating yourself, and self care. However it can be easy for some of us to neglect our health in lieu of easier options. Beginning now to December 2017 each month I will be featuring cookbooks that center around my values of whole foods, nutrient dense cooking. Though some may not be vegan, they will be vegan optional but all plant-based. My criteria involve ease, flexibility, and zero waste-friendly. So little to no packaged foods will be the cornerstone of my picks. Lets get started!

I’m not sure if cookbooks are supposed to make you emotional but when I began to read Ashley Melillo’s namesake book Blissful Basil that’s what happened.

The beautiful book opens up with a poignant introduction from Ashley. Candid about her pre-Blissful Basil days as a graduate student where she dealt with the perils many students may face: anxiety. Motivated to take control of her own health Ashley humbly and briefly discusses her journey to “self-acceptance, self-love, and sustainable joy.” I was moved by her honesty about some of the roughest points of her life, the road that led to create a brand and curator of healthy, and delicious plant-based and allergen conscious meals.

blissful basil review + giveaway http://violet-woods.blogspot.com//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Perhaps it hit so close to home to me because of my own issues and rough patches with my own health. Similar to Ashley, I sought out natural and therapeutic methods of self-care through good nourishment, stress control, and being honest with my own loved one about my limits and how I feel. And it starts with making healthier choices that adhere to your own needs and learning what makes you thrive, which more likely than not, is consuming plant based foundations – don’t think of “diets”, think of sustenance
Ashley’s vegan cookbook is centered on the healing through healthy nutritional choices. She chooses to thrive with her practice of cultivating happiness through wholeness. Naturally this involves being conscious of what you consume.
If you’re new to the realm of bountiful vegan eating, Ashley’s got you covered with a quick portion of her book with a rundown on her pantry & kitchen essentials with explanations on their nutrient fundamentals. Want to know why sorghum and millet are underrated nutrient & powerhouses, or the difference between the natural sweeteners, conversion charts? She’s got the bases covered. My favorite part is her decision to have a primarily allergen friendly primer, similar to her blog she focuses more on wheat-free options and substitutes. (Thank you!)
But the bulk of this book is filled with vibrant, rainbow hued recipes. The pages are filled with stunning photography, which, lets be honest, is really helpful. These meals aren’t challenging but they aren’t basic – Blissful Basil is chockfull of creative recipes that look exquisite but don’t require an overload of ingredients. Perhaps Ashley was also innately inspired by her background as a school psychologist for many of the recipes would be really great to create with children.  Think: Hazelnut Espresso Shakes, Cauliflower Tots, & Vegan Pulled “Pork” BBQ with Polenta. There’s also Electric Tumeric Lemonade and Fiesta Salad to round all that out.
Personally I am working on living a minimalist/zero waste life. This applies to what we consume. Instead of reaching for packaged meals, I want to incorporate make-ahead or overnight meals, meals that focus on whole foods and leave no waste (or it can be composted). If this is also your vibe, Blissful Basil is on your level.  Processed ingredients don’t make their way through the pages – instead it’s composed of pure plant-based sustenance without being intimidating. Anyone from clean-foodies, experimental cuisine folk, to current/former busy students looking to incorporate easier & healthier vegan meals will enjoy this delightful book. 

blissful basil review + giveaway http://violet-woods.blogspot.com//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Ashley’s cookbook Blissful Basil comes out December 20th (click to purchase) but if you want to win this beautiful vegan cookbook:

·      Visit this Instagram post and leave a comment with your favorite recipe from Blissful Basil’s website
·      Follow me on Instagram
·      Follow Blissful Basil on Instagram
Extra points:
·      Leave a comment here with your favorite or new winter traditions

·      Subscribe to Blissful Basil’s website and leave a comment saying you did
Ends on December 29th** Good luck y’all! 

Oatmeal, Walnut & Pecan Bars Recipe | Gluten Free & Vegan

I love Pinterest. Its so great for preserving and documenting future ideas + concepts. I saw this sweet recipe for oat & pecan bars but I adapted my own version and it was so delicious. Don’t skimp on the sea salt! It adds an interesting balance in taste, especially with nut butters

These oatmeal, walnut & pecan bars are vegan, gluten free, cane sugar & soy free. I topped them with dried cranberries but you could also add them into the mix when baking. These bars are a balance of (not too) sweet and warming thanks to the nuttiness and spices. They are filling and packed with protein, fiber, and maple syrups adds a kick of polyphenols, zinc & manganese 

oatbars

2 cups rolled gluten free oats (not instant or steel cut, I used Bob’s Red Mill)

1/2 cup of coconut flour (Also Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 cup  water+ 2 tbsp chia seeds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt
1 1/2 cups unsweetened rice milk (or whichever dairy-free milk of your choice)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 ripe banana, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted nut butter of choice (I used peanut butter)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans & walnuts

Preheat your oven to 375 F. Use a non-dairy butter or oil to grease a 8×8 inch pan

  • Mix the water & chia seeds. Stir until it becomes a gel.
  • In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (oats, coconut flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt). 
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the rice milk, maple syrup, banana, nut butter, vanilla extract and chia gel. 
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until while incorporating the chopped pecans and walnuts in increments 
  • Add the mixed content into the greased pan and gently smooth out the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the edges are lightly crisp, remove from oven and let cool for 8 minutes
  • After 8 or so minutes, you can cut these into bars. I followed the original recipes and cut them into 9 pieces. 
Tips
you can use ground flaxseed in place of chia
feel free to experiment for other nuts: almonds, hazelnut
sub raw honey for maple syrup or add a bit of both
if you don’t have pink Himalayan sea salt you can use regular sea salt
other yummy additions: vegan chocolate chips, carob, & blueberries
if sweetness is your thing add an extra 2 tablespoons of maple syrup or stevia, raw sugar