Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Vegan Halloween!

Well, it seems we have made it through the storm and after today, it looks like we may be able to refocus on our week…and that includes Halloween. Weeks before the holiday hits, stores everywhere stock up from floor to ceiling with candy! Even stores carrying all-natural and local foods stock up on “healthier” versions of the most favorite sweets. And as a vegan, all these treats can be quite a tease. About 4-5 years ago, Halloween was a dread for vegans who had very little access to vegan candies and sweets minus the chocolates that you may have been able to purchase online…if you knew about them. 

I remember my very first Halloween as a vegan. I was still new to the whole vegan thing and so my thought process was, if it wasn’t obviously vegan, think fruit, vegetables and whole grains, then it wasn’t and I shouldn’t touch it. And I didn’t. Plus I had mad will power and determination to stick to my vegan lifestyle…temptation didn’t faze me. The next year I was better prepared. I had discovered PETA’s vegan candy list and you bet I stole a few pieces while going through my daughter’s stash. Soon after, veganism was beginning to become more mainstream and small businesses everywhere were popping up, creating and offering candy that was delicious and best of all, vegan friendly. Vegan dreams had been turned into reality…

So if you’re a new vegan, vegcurious or even a rawsie, rest assure this Halloween you will NOT be left eating apple slices and extremely dark chocolate..that’s of course, if you can get to the store within the next 24 hours seeing as this post is a bit behind and well, Halloween is tomorrow night. Sorry… :)

Vegan candy everywhere…what, what, what to eat!?

You have two options: buy your treats or make your treats.

If you prefer to buy:

For those looking for the candy that will bring on feelings of nostalgia and past memories of dressing up as a power ranger or princess and throwing up from downing too many sweets from your pillow case, then take a peek at PETA’s candy list and have away with your favorites (Psst…Skittles have recently gone vegan!!). This list may be a bit old so check the ingredients list before digging in just to be sure.  Don’t want to end up learning you just downed a bag of treats made with boiled down animal bones (gelatin) or beetle juice (confectioner’s glaze)…eww. But what about my favorite chocolates you ask? You mean Almond Joys, Reese Cups and Snickers? Haha well Go Max Go has you covered!
I was recently blessed with the opportunity to receive and try all the candy bars currently available from Go Max Go, including a prototype that isn’t yet available in stores, and boy was I in candy bar heaven! In order to save myself from a few extra pounds because I knew for a fact I would eat them all in one day, I kindly split each one in half and shared with Ms. K. We determined that the best one was by far the prototype, Thumbs Up, which is meant to be a vegan version of the Butterfinger: crunchy, sweet and salty and peanut buttery with just a thin layer of chocolate on the outside. Butterfinger lovers rejoice!!! Ms. K was ticked when I told her it was not yet available; apparently half wasn’t enough. As for the other candy bars, here they are in order of appearance in the photo above. 

  • Mahalo -  You guessed it! The vegan sister of Almond Joy! I totally love this name better! It was very similar from what I remember Almond Joys to taste like: tons of coconut with a bite of almond and chocolate. Seriously, it takes a lot to turn me away from coconut and chocolate, so there was no doubts I loved every bite of this one. 
  • Snap! – Love crunch? Grab a Snap! This is the only actual chocolate bar within this line of candy so of course it was a nice change in taste and texture from the rest of them. I have to say, I think this is actually better than a crunch bar. Not too sweet, perfectly crunchy and the chocolate actually melts in your mouth. I was never a fan of Crunch Bars, but this one I surprisingly enjoyed!
  • Buccaneer – This one I just couldn’t put my finger on. Chocolate coated chocolate nougat? Anyone? I’m not a fan of nougat candies so I wasn’t shocked when the first bite didn’t excite my taste buds. But we all like different things right? This one may for you! 
  • Twilight – Okay, I’m geeked over the name of it, but the taste? Again, not a fan. This time, it was a chocolate coated caramel and vanilla nougat candy bar. I want to say it reminded me a bit of Rolos. The caramel made it sticky and chewy which was quite fun to eat through. I mean seriously, who doesn’t love a candy that makes your jaw hurt and teeth stick!?
  • Joker – Another nougat!? Yes, but this one has nougat, caramel AND peanuts!! Yes, my friends, a vegan Snickers bar. Chewy, sticky, crunchy, sweet and salty with a light chocolate coating…the Joker was actually my second favorite! Seriously, this one is a MUST grab!
  • Cleo – Peanut butter cups…shall I say more? The peanut butter was quite creamy and there was a good ratio between peanut butter and chocolate. As a peanut butter addict, this one passed with ease.
  • And of course, there lies the Thumbs Up…oh how I wished I would have savored you more.
So there you go. Looking for a vegan version of your Halloween chocolate favorites? Go Max Go has ya covered!

As a product junkie I do have a few more I HAVE to recommend…

Love Peanut Butter Cups? Yeah I know Go Max Go has one but so does Justin’s and I am a loyal customer (stalker and addict) of Justin’s Nut Butters. The dark chocolate peanut butter cups were my go to last Halloween and the Chocolate Peanut Butter is even better…it’s like they just took a billion mini Reese cups, melted them down and made an addicting spread that has been the demise of my waist line for the past 2 years. *Sigh* it’s impossible to cut the love between a girl and her nut butters…just have to live with it. So yeah grab one ;)

Want gummies? I adore Annie’s fruit gummies! They are not as chewy as the gummies you may be used to, but I love the super fruity flavors! Surf Sweets and Sharkies also make vegan gummies that are quite tasty…although Sharkies are more designed to be sports bites but hey you need energy to get through all that trick or treating right!? 

Lollipops? Forget Halloween, keep Yummy Earths lollipops stashed in your drawers for anytime a sweet tooth craving comes along or when you feel the midday crash is about to hit. These are by far the absolute best organic lollipops on the market. I recommend buying a big bag if you plan on sharing…

I just want chocolate! Okay, okay, you’re easy…if that is the case I recommend Nibmor’s. Nibmor’s chocolate bars have a unique flavor that isn’t present in just any chocolate bar. The cocoa really sticks out in a way that is desirable. In addition, they make a mean vegan chocolate cocoa mix made with just cocoa, coconut palm sugar and sea salt. Goodbye to the days when I had to pull out all the ingredients and whisk the cocoa til my arms burned! Thank you Nibmor gals! Why not make some hot cocoa and enjoy your chocolate in sips. Make it last :)

I am also purely, madly addicted to stone ground chocolate as well. Trader Joe’s sells an organic version that comes in Extreme Dark Chocolate and Salt and Pepper and Taza also makes a variety of flavors, my favorite being the Chipotle Chili. I swear I think it’s the texture that has me hooked. Each bite starts out grainy and crunchy and ends creamy. I know it sounds weird but I swear it’s the best! I actually have to force myself NOT to buy them because I eat the entire package in a day! It’s so bad I know. 

Of course, I couldn’t have forgotten my rawsies! After all, we have to have our share of nummy sweet treats too right!? 

There are tons of raw treats on the market right now and honestly, I’m still making my way through a lot of them. Here are some that I can honestly say I love and support:

Hail Merry’s Tarts – OMG! Yes, it’s an OMG food. Hail Merry makes the absolute best raw, vegan tarts, the best being the Chocolate Mint! They are so creamy and fudge like and the flavor of chocolate mint is one of my absolute favorites; a combination I have found very hard to find as a vegan. I have fallen madly, deeply, in love with these small little pies that they have become one my absolute must have in my fridge at all times, raw sweet treat. I mean seriously look at the line up! To die for!

Superfood Snacks – Okay, honestly, these little treats deserve their own post, but for now, here’s a piece of my undying love. Although these little treats are advertised as an energy snack, the chocolatey taste hands down can make them the healthiest, chocolatey treat for Halloween. If you’re looking for something to satisfy your sweet tooth, provide you energy to get you through the 500 kids that will be ringing your doorbell, yet keep your waste slim? Then these are just for you! Unfortunately, they’re only available online…and possibly in stores in Hawaii and California, but hey, see this as a heads up for next year…or if you need a new, raw energy snack for your workouts. 

Whew, can you tell I have a sweet tooth? 

Now, if you have time within the next 24 hours to MAKE your own treats well then I have a treat for you! :) A collage of treats!

Crunchy Peanut Butter Bon Bons! 
A few months ago the Spork Sisters shared with the vegan community their awesome, delicious recipe for Crunchy Peanut Butter Bon Bons! As a peanut butter addict, I knew I HAD to make these and I must say this recipe is in definitely in my go to pile…and seriously, there aren’t too many recipes in there.

You can find the recipe on Made Just Right (A great vegan community and place to find recipes!). I must note that I normally use fresh ground peanut butter from Whole Foods which ends up being a lot dryer than the creamy peanut butter you buy in a jar. With that, I usually end up adding extra melted butter and only 1 cup of powdered sugar as opposed to the 1 ½ cups the recipe calls for. Also, I make my own bread crumbs which I feel adds a better crunch then store bought ones. As for chocolate chips, Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips are by far my favorite, but Ghirardelli’s and Trader Joe’s are great options too. Whatever you use, follow your gut. This recipe is very hard to mess up. 

In the end, you will end up with a round, crunchy, sweet and salty peanut butter cups…only way better!

Coconut Mounds!

So within my nut butter addiction is a coconut addiction. I’m sure my Filipino genes have something to do with, but whatever it is, I never, ever get sick of the flavor. So no shock I loved Mounds and Almond Joys as a kid. And then I transitioned to a vegan diet and the closest I got to a Mounds bar was eating a mixture of coconut shreds and chocolate chips. But then there was Babycakes

Two years ago, my family and I went to Disney where I was finally able to visit Babycakes located in Downtown Disney! As most of you may know, Babycakes is a very popular vegan and allergy-free bakery in NYC that makes everything from donuts, to cupcakes, to cookies...ooh and icing shots! It opened up its second shop in Downtown Disney a few years ago and you can only imagine how excited I was to hear that something vegan was being placed in my favoritest most happiest place on earth. Total win-win! 

While I was there, I tried their every day offerings of donuts, cookies, icing shots and breads. But one day they offered coconut mounds. Chocolate and coconut!? Together!? I bought one and literally fell back in bliss. It was the candy my vegan heart had been dreaming about for over 3 years. I had to pinch myself to make sure I seriously was tasting what I thought I was tasting! Of course, I ran back over and bought more to eat for later…which never made it to “later”…unless you consider 5 minutes and an hour later. But it was a bittersweet moment because I knew I would never taste them again until my next visit; and even when I visited them 8 months later, the coconut mounds were not waiting. And then a miracle happened…Erin, owner of Babycakes, posted her recipe online! **Awwww** yes heaven’s gates opened! I freaked; I shrieked; and I took my butt right to the kitchen to make them!

And wanna know when that happened? Today. Yep, October 30, 2012. 

So here is the recipe that I JUST tried. All I did differently was add a raw almond on top before I froze and dipped them in chocolate. All I have to say is…mmmmm. My Halloween this year is officially complete.

Mini Smore's!

Okay this one was a throw together. This morning as my daughter and I made vegan hot chocolate (yep, using Nibmors!) my daughter saw the bag of Dandie's vegan marhsmallows and asked for smore's. Unfortunately, I didn't have any graham crackers but I did have tons of bags of Home Free's Vanilla Cookies...so I thought..Mini Smore's?

I took one cookie, a couple of choco chips, a Dandie marhsmallow, which is perfect in size, stuck it in the microwave for 10 seconds, topped with with another cookie and Voila! Mini smore's!! Awesome right!?

So easy and perfect for tiny fingers..or when that smore's craving hits but all you want is just one or two bites!

As for the cinnamon rolls….let’s keep that for another post. You’ll need a day to make those. The picture is just there to add to your excuse for drooling.

Well, sorry for such a long post but I hope everyone now has some yummy ideas on how to satisfy those sweet tooth cravings tomorrow! Have a safe and happy Halloween and please share with us what your eating tomorrow night!

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