Category Archives: Legumes

Raw Blondies


As you may know, during Lent, you have to give up something you particularly enjoy doing (or eating). And lucky for me, my friend came up with the most ingenious plan concerning me and the next 40 days: Giving up sweets.

And as I stare at that phrase, I am feeling an intense hatred and gratefulness for that friend right now ;).

I will say the truth- though I may have denied it back then, now that I look back on how I ate a week ago, it was bad. It got to the point where I was baking something nearly every night. I truly enjoy the process of baking, but on the other hand, I just as much love the raw cookie dough that comes with it. Every time my friends would come over, it meant baking time! I would always use them as an excuse to eat as much sweets as I wanted. The basic healthy eating rule of treating myself every once in a while had been thrown out the window.

That is, until my friend, Kaylynn, called me out on my insanity.

(Looking through all the new baking books I got from the library). “Oh, this looks so good! I have all the ingredients, I can make everything from this book, we can make this today, and-”

“Isabel,” Kaylynn says.


You should definitely give up baking sweets for Lent.”

And at that moment, I knew that it was the perfect thing to give up. I was practically addicted to baking unhealthy treats, and to top it all off, I did it everyday. Giving up something like this would be the ultimate challenge. It was practically a game-changer in my mind. The only problem was, was that I would have nothing to eat anymore. Just kidding..but it’s what I felt.

“And just what are you giving up?” I said.

“Rice, saying stupid words, you know. We are already three days into Lent, and you still haven’t actually given anything up- you screamed at your brother, like,five minutes ago.”

To tell you the truth, I hadn’t really planned on giving anything up,” was what I wanted to say. But then she said:

“I just wanna see if you’ll actually be able to do it.”

She scoffed.

And that was it. She just flipped on my competitive switch on like there was no tomorrow, and I was determined to see her through that proposition. So as usual, I jumped in head first.

I decided to get rid of baking unhealthy sweets, and I also decided to give up anything with added sugars. I haven’t eaten any of the Biscoff or Nutella spread in the cupboard, and I turned down several unexpected treats during school. I am on this challenge! Oh, and I also decided, what the hell, I might as well give up my favorite peanut butter too. This craziness is going to be fun.

Giving up sweets for Lent wasn’t only for my religion, it also served as a way to get healthier. Of course, I won’t give up sweets for the rest of my life, but this will hopefully serve as an intervention of sorts, and teach me how life is like without all the extra junk.

This recipe has definitely helped me calm my cravings, and has also taught me to love the natural sweetness and flavors of unprocessed foods. I love how raw desserts creatively combine fruits and nuts to make new and healthier creations of comfort foods! This raw blondie was quick and easy to make, and has a chewy texture and a nutty, caramel taste. Don’t leave out this vanilla extract; it makes a world of difference!

Made out of a few main ingredients, including walnuts, dates, and cashews!

You can get the recipe here at Vegan Piggy.



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A Nutty Photo Shoot

Just a photo shoot of one of my most favorite things in the world.

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Peanut Butter Energy Balls

These cute little things are crammed with energy and protein. Feeling drained? Simply pop one and go. Running out the door in the A.M.? Grab a few as a quick breakfast of protein and carbs. Not only are they good for you, but they are sweet and nutty and as full of flavor as they are energy. I usually eat them before or after working. And feel free to make them into an anything-but-the-kitchen-sink type of thing! Wonderfully customizable, so get as creative as you wish.

Mix of ingredients going into the nut butter.

Mixture of ingredients and peanut butter all combined into one hot mess. If you eat this while it’s nice and warm with a spoon, you almost feel like you’re eating raw cookie dough….Just a thought 🙂

Rolled into neat capsules of energy.

It seems that good things really do come in small packages.

Peanut Butter Balls

based off of

  • 1 cup nut butter (I used a combo of cashew and peanut) Try to make it unsweetened since sweetener will be added
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1 cup old-fashioned uncooked rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup sliced nuts (I used almonds)
  • 1/2 cup dried fruits (I used raisins)
  • dash of cinnamon
  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, mix together the nut butter and agave until combined. Throw in the remaining ingredients and stir.
  2. Let the whole thing cool in the fridge for a few minutes or until easy to handle.
  3. Roll tablespoons of the stuff into balls and store in a container. Keep in the fridge.

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Quinoa and Black Beans

Watch as colorful ingredients combine into one healthful and lively dish!

Spring break! And for those people who aren’t traveling, this means lazy days are ahead. And what else to do when I’m bored but to cook?

Looking around in the library, I found this cookbook called Mayumi’s Kitchen. Mayumi is a macrobiotic cook, which means that she focuses on making clean, wholesome meals. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that she had even cooked for Madonna for 7 years!

Let me break it down: The Macrobiotic Diet is based off of Japanese cuisine. Whole grains, vegetables, and legumes are the foundation of this diet, which basically means that it’s vegan. Unless, of course, you decidedly go the flexitarian way and eat meat only once in a while. Fruits and nuts are eaten here and there, too. Although, soups and salads are plentiful, and cleansing teas are the drinks of choice. But to tell you the truth? what attracted me the most to this diet were all the CARBS, BABY! (Let it rain rice). Being an Asian (Filipino, to be exact), I ate white rice morning, noon, and night. Of course, my grains tend to be healthier and more wholesome nowadays, but still- that’s a lot better than just eating like a rabbit all day.

The traditional Asian diet is obviously a high-carbohydrate one, which gives the benefit of providing a lot of energy, which was essential for getting through the more physical demands that existed back then. Being a recreational runner, my diet needs to consist of 50% grains, so that’s a plus! For example, the standard macrobiotic breakfast is soft-cooked brown rice with miso soup and tea.

I was so looking forward to cleansing my body of all the junk I had been eating (Cake, buffets, burgers, the like), so I was inspired to look up a recipe that would use up some of my quinoa (pronounced keen-wa). Luckily, I found this delicious recipe from, which uses quinoa, a common macrobiotic grain source, and beans, which provides the macrobiotic protein. It’s easy, quick, and bursting with fresh, clean flavors!

P.S. The perfect ratio of beans:quinoa:corn:cilantro make for one photogenic and colorful meal every time.

I love the energy these ingredients bring to the recipe.

Quinoa and Black Beans

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned.
  2. Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes,
  3. Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in the black beans and cilantro.

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Filed under Legumes, Rice & Grains, Vegetables

Simple Peanut Butter Cookies

It’s ironic, because I had never tasted an actual peanut butter cookie. And peanut butter is like my life. I wasn’t raised on American classics like meatloaf or cookies, but instead on Filipino delicacies like kare kare and puto. So baking these goodies were a great way of satisfying my peanut butter and baking cravings (I bake for fun, okay?).

The results were simply FABULOUS! Fumes of peanut butter practically drifted around the kitchen like an angel, and the cookie was a chewy melt-in-your-mouth heaven. It turned my chocolate obsessed baby brother into a convert! He’ll only eat peanut butter when they’re in these cookies.

All you need to make these peanut butter cookies are peanut butter, sugar, and one egg.

It’s best if you use all natural peanut butter for the best flavor and to also make it gluten-free!

Put everything in a bowl…

And combine.

Then scoop them onto a pan and give them the signature criss-cross pattern!

After baking:

Simple Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes 10

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter (crunchy or smooth, all natural)
  • 1 egg
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl
  3. On a lightly greased cookie sheet, drop tablespoons of dough and press it down in a criss-cross pattern with a fork
  4. Bake 1o minutes
  5. Let it cool on the cookie sheet until they have firmed up a little, and then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Or, there’s always the option of eating it warm with a cold glass of milk!


Filed under Desserts & Sweets, Legumes

Cake Balls (Including my attempt at peanut butter cake balls!)

I had never heard of  cake balls before. EVER. And if I had seen a picture of them (which I hadn’t), I would have probably thought something like, “How did they bake that in a perfectly spherical form?” when really it’s just regular baked cake squished and rolled into a ball.

After I read up on cake balls, I thoroughly believe that they are the most fun and customizable confections. There are probably thousands of combinations of cakes, bindings, and coating out there! Here is a very general guideline for making these delectable things

Customizable Cake Balls

  • a cooled, already made plain cake with no frosting, any kind
  • a binding (coffee creamer, frosting, pudding…)
  • a coating (melted white or milk chocolate, cocoa powder, powdered sugar)
  1. Put the cake in a bowl and squish it up into crumbs with your hands or a fork
  2. Add just enough of the binding so that the crumbs make almost a dough-like consistency, but not too mushy that it falls apart when you mold it. Combine.
  3. Roll the cake into balls by either using a dough scooper or your hands, and place them on a plate with wax paper. If using a powdered coating, roll them in the coating before freezing. Freeze for at least an hour, or until the balls become hard and easier to handle
  4. Meanwhile, before taking taking the frozen balls out, melt the chocolate in a double boiler, by placing a glass or metal bowl over a saucepan of boiling water and melting the finely chopped chocolate in it by mixing it. Add a little milk and/ or Crisco shortening to help it melt better and thin out. Your goal is to make the coating smooth and silky, for it to be easy to dip the balls into! (Skip this step if using the powdered coatings)
  5. Take the frozen balls and coat them in the melted chocolate with a spoon. Tip them back onto the wax paper. Work quickly before the cake balls start defrosting and falling apart! Once all the balls are coated, put them back into the freezer for two hours. If using powdered coating, all you need to do is roll them in the coating once again and serve. No need to freeze them for a second time.
  6. Take them out of the freezer before serving to make them soften a little and easy to bite, and serve

When I made these peanut butter cake balls, though delicious, it was a little messy. I melted the peanut butter in a double boiler, and froze the cake balls. The peanut butter didn’t freeze that well, for it never always melted a little when you held it. it might have needed more freezing time, but for now, just stick with chocolate! (Note, nutella DOES NOT melt well either)

Making cake balls is also a great idea for using leftover fully frosted cake! You wouldn’t need to add a binding anymore since it would already be frosted. All you would have to do is coat and freeze! And that’s what I did with this mocha cake, which I rolled in cocoa powder.

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Peanut Butter Adventures

For those people who have to have their peanut butter everyday. For those who are always in the mood. For those with a spoon and a jar…and only one thing to do.

This is for you.

If you’re anything like me, peanut butter is like my main food group. There are even some days where I wish I had it three meals a day. It saddens me so that many people are allergic to peanut butter. I don’t know what makes peanut butter so highly allergic, but it sure is delicious. What I usually have for breakfast is a peanut butter sandwich with cinnamon. That, right there, is my ideal breakfast. it’s the reason why I wake up every morning. Peanut butter is my nutella. Even when I’m traveling far away, I smuggle my own personal jar of peanut butter.

Although, I can’t have just any ordinary peanut butter. I have to have a special kind. Not Skippy, not Jif, and not even Peter Pan (And FYI, I don’t like chunky). I get all my peanut from Peanut Butter and Co. And you can bet that I’ve been to their shop in New York, too. My all-time FAVORITE peanut butter is their White Chocolate Wonderful. Just the name entices the tongue. And the best part is, it’s all natural! Look on the ingredients list, and you’ll see that all it’s made of is, and I quote, “peanuts, evaporated cane juice, vanilla, cocoa butter, palm fruit oil, lecithin (from sunflowers), salt”. It’s true that simplicity truly reigns.

What I love about the Co.’s peanut butter is each jar is customized for each peanut butter. They have these little bubble footnotes on the side that give suggestions on how to use that specific peanut butter, like “great for baking!” or “perfect for pb & j’s”

Now, it’s important not to judge, but somehow I ended up with 5 jars of peanut butter in the pantry. It was all a blur, it’s like they slowly accumulated while I wasn’t looking. But no matter. My mom says to just get any peanut butter I want because she knows it won’t go to waste :). Besides, I’m picky when it comes to my peanut butter, so it’s not like I’m diving on the peanut butter shelves and splashing around. Jeez no. I shop for peanut butter like I’m treasure hunting. For example, I went to a Walmart Superstore and saw Peanut Butter and Co.’s Mighty Maple Flavor, and I just had to get it because I’ve been looking for it. It’s pretty crazy. 4 out of the 5 peanut butters I have are from peanut butter and Co., and the other is an extra creamy Kraft peanut butter I got in Canada. I only got it because I was craving for a peanut butter sandwich during our vacation and they didn’t have the kind I usually got. I attempted to leave my peanut butter behind, but that didn’t really turn out as planned. I’ve got to tell you though, when they say extra creamy, they mean it. It’s like satin. I talk about peanut butter like it’s an art.

This is the Kraft Extra Creamy Peanut Butter from Canada. I usually use this peanut butter in baked goods since it has very little sugar, and the baked stuff usually doesn’t need all the extra sugar it already has :).

Peanut Butter and Co.’s (In order from favorite to least favorite)

My most favorite pb of all time. So heavenly and a perfect kiss of sweetness.


Tastes good melty. The closest thing to a peanut butter nutella. Sort of. Try it on a sandwich with White Chocolate Wonderful-then they would be opposites, and a black and white chocolate pb sandwich!

Great on pb & j’s; I haven’t had one of those in years though! I prefer my pb sandwiches with fresh bananas or just plain.





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