TGIF!  I am so glad it’s Friday!  What do you have in store for the weekend?  Did you all know it’s National Yoga Day on Saturday, Jan 23?  What this means for you is that in the spirit of karma yoga and service to others, many yoga teachers and studios are putting on free or reduced-cost classes.  Check and see if you can get in on a Yoga Day Class!  I am going to be doing alot of yoga; taking classes, working on my hours for completing the highest level of yoga certification with my teacher here in Phoenix, and donating my time and teaching a free class.  And on Monday I going to be attending a one-day only workshop with a famous yogi!  I am soooo excited!!!!  What are you up to for the weekend? 

Let’s Recap for a hot second…
I am really glad you all enjoyed my Grocery & Mailbox Finds Post

Tempt Ice Cream in Mint Chip and Vanilla BeanOpen containers of Ice Cream

 

Thrive Fitness Book
 PureOrganic Conditioner

And also discussion about the benefits of Coconut Oil, and Refined vs. Unrefined Coconut Oil.

EfaGold Coconut Oil

And I loved the comments about whether you buy organic food, or not.   And I had lots of comments, thank you!

Organic French Roast Coffee Container

And Why You Purchase Organic, or why not What corners you cut, if you follow the Dirty Dozen Rule when buying organic….it was great!  

I have to say, I am glad I am not alone in not always buying organic.  I feel like there’s a bit of peer pressure out there in the blogosphere and among some of the holistic and natural communities to keep up with the Jones-es, Organically-speaking.  I honestly can’t afford to buy a $6 organic bell pepper, and some people would say, then don’t buy it and choose something more affordable.  Well, I’d rather eat my veggies, than not, even if it means buying non-organic produce.  I respect everyone’s decision how they feed themselves and their family’s, and think that we all have to pick our battles in life and this is one of those things, for me, that a non-organic tomato is always better than skipping my veggies.  There are shades of gray, context (local non-certified organic vs. trucked in from 3000 miles away but certified organic), and so many factors we need to consider when it comes to purchasing food, aren’t there!  Maybe we should all just move south and plant a big community garden!

Ok enough of that….
I am also really pleased about the excited and supportive comments you left about my Yoga & Raw Vegan Foods Retreat on the Beach!
 Large empty Yoga Studio

Empty Yoga Studio

I sincerely hope that you will consider this trip as an opportunity for growth, rejuvenation, and lifelong memories!  I really want to meet you and see you on the beach this summer!

San Diego Beach with pier in background
Enough of the recapping (you guys just blew me over with all the awesome comments the past few days, I wanted to thank you all, adequately, before I moved on!) 

Let’s move on…

First, the people at Enjoy Life sent me a couple of their new cereals to try

Enjoy Life Crunchy Flax and Crunchy Rice Cereals

 I am Gluten Free and I love all the Enjoy Life products.   They are a great go-to source for the GF, Soy-Free (or soy-moderating), vegan crowd.

Ingredients on side of cereal boxes
Nutritional Facts of side of cereal boxes



Thanks Enjoy Life!

Close up of Crunchy Flax Cereal BoxEnjoy Life Foods website information

I also won Monicaonthego.com‘s Recent Give Away!  She sent me the cutest headband!

Black and multi color pink headband

You don’t think I’ll actually get to wear it do you?

Young girl wearing headband

Not after Skylar spied it! 

Close up of headband on young girls head

She looks cuter in it than I would, anyway, don’t ya think?

Young girl smiling showing off headband

Thanks again, Monica!

azc design business card

Next, I made a new salad dressing.  I need variety in the dressing department!

Averie’s Maple Ginger Dijon Vinaigrette
1/4  cup  maple syrup
2  tablespoons apple cider vinegar=ACV (or red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, etc.) Or, 2 Tbsp Orange Juice
1  tablespoon  EVOO
1  tablespoon  Dijon mustard (or if you don’t have dijon and prefer yellow, spicy, honey mustard, etc. feel free to play with that)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste
Optional: (I omitted all the optionals but am including for others just in case you want to try them)
Pinch of cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg
1  garlic clove, minced 
1/4  teaspoon  salt 
Onion, minced to taste

Ingrediens for Maple Ginger Dijon Vinaigrette in bowl

Whisk all ingredients together, pour over salad, and enjoy!

Ingredients in bowl
Maple Ginger Dijon Vinaigrette being whisked up

This one was good!!!  Very light, and the sweetness from the maple balances out the tang from the ACV and with the dijon, ginger, and a little black pepper for just a smidge of heat, it was nice!

Finished Maple Ginger Dijon Vinaigrette
Salad topped with Maple Ginger Dijon VinaigretteClose up of salad topped with Maple Ginger Dijon Vinaigrette

And, recently I made Scott a little Cesar-Inspired Salad with Brown Rice

Cesar-Inspired Salad with Brown Rice

And dressed his salad with my Vegan Creamy Tahini Cesar-Inspired Dressing

Salad topped with Vegan Creamy Tahini Cesar-Inspired Dressing

For me, you know I can’t go a day with some sort of cruciferous vegetable.  This meal was a double whammyBrock AND Brussles.

Mixed vegetable salad with Vegan Slaw Dressing

Along with Carrots, Tomatoes, Cukes, mixed greens and Homemade Vegan Slaw Dressing,  it was lovely.

Close up of salad with Vegan Slaw Dressing
This one most certainly hit the spot for Vegan Thursdays

Using Up Bananas
I also realized that we had a ridiculous banana surplus going on and I better start mushing
whipping up some things to use them up.  
First was Chocolate Brownie Protein Oats

Ingredients for Chocolate Brownie Protein Oats in container

First, for the Chocolate Brownie Protein Oats I mashed a banana and added oats, a big pile of
cinnamon…

Close up of ingredients in container

And refrigerated for 18 hours.  Good Stuff.  Tastes so thick and fudgy because I actually move it from the fridge to the freezer midway through it’s “uncooking” time.  Not scientific, just whenever I remember to transfer from the fridge to the freezer.  I don’t do it right away because I don’t want the liquid to freeze right away; I want the oats to absorb some of it, first.  Then, freeze up!

Chocolate Brownie Protein Oats

And I gave a few Tips to the Chocolate Brownie Protein Oats Recipe Here

Chocolate Brownie Protein Oats in clear container
Close up of Chocolate Brownie Protein Oats

We were still rockin’ the banana surplus, so I mashed another banana for a batch of my Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Bars

Mashed banana in bowl

And then added flax & chia seeds, oats, chocolate chips…

Flax & chia seeds, oats, chocolate chips added to banana

Plus Peanut Butter, Coconut, Vanilla Protein Powder, & Raisins.  This time I used that Raisin Medley Mix from TJ’s I mentioned.

Peanut Butter, Coconut, Vanilla Protein Powder, & Raisins added to ingredients

And also added a dash of Vanilla Extract today along with the Maple Syrup & Cinnamon.

Mixed up ingredients in bowl
Lined pan with Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Bar dough dolloped inside

Spread into a plastic-lined Pan

Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Bar dough in pan

Popped it into the Freezer for Safekeeping Freezing.

Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Bar spread out in pan before freezing
Yum.   

Homeade No-Bake, Gluten & Soy Free Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Bars

Close up of Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Bars

I removed them from the freezer, Flipped over the Slab…

Protein bars flipped over on cutting board
And cut them into pretty No-Bake, Gluten-Free Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Bars
Cut Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Bar
Close up of Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Bar

Check out the gooey-ness of the mashed frozen bananas meets maple + PB.  Nice.

Side view of cut Protein Bar
Close up of Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Bar

So after the Chocolate Brownie Protein Oats and the Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Bars, I had used up my stash of ripe bananas! Yay!! 

Remember when I made the Vegan Gluten & Soy-Free Peanut Butter Banana Bread Loaf to use up a banana surplus I had going on?

Vegan Gluten & Soy-Free Peanut Butter Banana Bread Loaf in pan
Hand holding slice of Peanut Butter Banana Bread

During the hour the banana bread was baking, I wanted to reach into my oven and devour the whole thing because between the bananas, the vanilla extract, and the peanut butter, it smelled beyond amazing in my house!

Vegan Gluten & Soy-Free Peanut Butter Banana Bread Loaf topped with banana slices

Or the time I made Vegan, Gluten & Soy-Free, Banana-Nut Muffins with my ripe bananas?

Vegan, Gluten & Soy-Free, Banana-Nut Muffins
The Yummy, Gooey Inside of a Muffy
Hand holding slice of Banana-Nut Muffins

Both of those recipes were winners in the using-up-bananas-department, too!  What’s your favorite was to use up your ripe bananas??  Do Tell, I love hearing everyone’s tricks and recipes!

Yoga today is Natarajasana (Lord of the Dance Pose)

Woman doing Natarajasana yoga pose

Tip of the Day:  Free and Reduced Cost Yoga Classes all over the USA on Saturday!

I wanted to ask if you volunteer?  What do you do to give back to this world?  I know that I teach some free yoga, I run this blog and give freely of my recipes, vegan, raw, and otherwise as well as my knowledge and insights about healthy & holistic living, and also give lots of yoga advice & information

I donate my possessions if I haven’t used them in more than 6 months.  When we moved from San Diego to Phoenix 5 months ago, I donated 80% of all our physical and material possessions.  When I was younger and in college, I did free tutoring for others and when I was in high school and grade school, I was everything from a Candy Stripe girl at the hospital to a Girl Scout.  I am an organ donor so if something happens to me, I want to help in that capacity, too.  I am always the mom who is volunteering to head up the kiddie trip to the park or the zoo; the friend who other mom’s call at 2am when the baby will not sleep and they are going insane. 

I try to volunteer my heart; give my compassion and empathy to others.  But I like to hear what others’ do so that I can be more enlightened, more aware, more able to give, help, offer.  What do you do to give back? 

This whole Haiti situation has just really got me thinking about how fortunate we are here and that we really need to be less self-centered and more giving-centered.  Natasha the Voracious Vegan has a great vegan bake-sale with proceeds going to Haiti, go check out how she’s giving back.

And onto wayyyyy lighter matters, What’s your favorite way to use up bananas?  Yes, I know about freezing them for softserve & smoothies, but let’s get creative, what else?

Stay Tuned For The Week in Review and a Great Gluten-Free, Vegan Recipe…

 

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