Vegan Gnocchi With Kale And Walnuts

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Quarantine Day 50. I can no longer remember what a Starbucks coconut milk latte tastes like. I have not worn real pants in two months. The concept of “day pajamas” and “night pajamas” is a thing of the past; I just wear the same pajamas until I shower again.

But we’re not here to talk about that. We’re here to talk about food. I have lots of cool things in the works, and I recently collaborated with my brother-from-another-mother on a recipe over FaceTime. We played around with ingredients, tweaked it until it was utterly delicious, and now I’m sharing it with you because he’s a luddite without a blog.

You’ll need:

  • Gnocchi
  • Kale
  • Walnuts
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Salt
  • Shredded vegan parmesan cheese (we love this one)
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk (canned works well)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or mashed (you can use less if you’re not big on garlic, but why?)
  • 1/4 cup white wine (check out Barnivore to find out which wines are vegan!)
  • 2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour

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What to do:

1.) Boil some water and cook your gnocchi according to the directions on the package. It’s usually 2-3 minutes. During the last minute, add your kale to the pot. Drain the tasty gnocchi/kale mixture and make sure it cover it with a plate to keep it from drying out.

2.) Add your oil to a large pot along with the garlic, taking care not to let it burn. When your kitchen starts to smell like you’ve crawled inside a loaf of garlic bread, it’s time to add the flour. Mix it in with your garlic until it forms a paste, and then pour in the wine. Allow this to simmer for 3-5 minutes until it starts to reduce.

3.) Pour in your coconut milk, bring the mixture to a boil, and let it bubble away for 5-7 minutes until it thickens. Make sure to stir it occasionally, but don’t stir it continuously, as this will make it take forever to thicken, and you’ll want to eat now.

4.) Add your gnocchi, kale, and walnuts to the pot, stirring to make sure everything is coated evenly. Cook for about a minute to warm the walnuts through and release their natural oils.

5.) Season with salt and pepper to taste, and then sprinkle your shredded parmesan on top. You can also garnish it with more walnuts or a dash of red pepper flakes for a bit more bite.

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There you have it! A hearty, fulfilling recipe with all the creamy goodness of dairy with none of the cruelty. You can definitely adapt this recipe to suit your taste if you hate kale or walnuts like some of the weirdos in my family, but keep in mind that all veggies require different cooking times. If you want something like broccoli or carrots, that will take longer to cook. Or you could do what I do and cheat — I use the frozen versions from Bird’s Eye all the time.  Steam them in the microwave, stir them in, and voila! (Note that some of the Bird’s Eye veggies come packed in a butter sauce, so read the labels carefully.)

What’s your favorite pasta recipe? Leave me a comment, or tag me on Instagram using #theunscaryvegan so I can see it!

The Granola Gamble: Why I Rebranded

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As you probably noticed, a few things have changed around here. I’ve been waffling back and forth with the idea for months but finally decided to take the plunge. Littleevil.co is now officially theunscaryvegan.com, and I’m honestly still a little bit freaked out. I’ve had some version of my old blog name for close to four years now, and I wondered, “What will this do to my organic traffic? Am I going to take a hit?” In the end, I decided it was better to stay true to myself and take the risk than it was to cling to something because it was already there.

I decided on the name The Unscary Vegan because I firmly believe that being an asshole isn’t helping the vegan movement at all. If I get up in somebody’s face and scream at them, they’re going to call me a lunatic and walk off. On the other hand, if I feed them a heaping serving of my vegan taco salad and then tell them, “Hey, it really is that easy,” they’re much more receptive. This is important to me. I care about animals, and I care about the planet. End of story. It was time for my social media to reflect it no matter how much I giggled over naming my blog after one of my cats.

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So here’s the thing: I’m going to cheer you on every step of the way. Every little change helps. If you drink almond milk instead of dairy, good for you! If you participate in Meatless Mondays, that’s awesome! If you decided to buy your leather handbag secondhand so you don’t contribute to animal cruelty, I’m so proud of you.

Here’s another thing: we are all human, and guess what? Humans are animals, too. I don’t want to be a dick to animals. Any of them.

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I’m still recovering from whatever the hell this is — my uncle, who is a doctor and not an armchair diagnostician, thinks it’s Covid — so I can’t promise a dozen new posts right off the bat, but they’re coming. Skincare is still my passion, so I’ll be sharing loads of products with you, and while I do use my old leather bags because I don’t believe in being wasteful, I also want to highlight some awesome vegan brands, too.

Sound off in the comments and let me know what you want to see!

Me, Myself, And I

Hi, y’all! After a bump in my follower count on Instagram (if you’re not following me, then you should!), I realized I never moved my little intro from my old blog to this one, so this seems like a good time to tell you a little bit about little ol’ me.

I actually suck at writing about myself, so I nicked a few of these from A Conscious Rethink for help.

I’m just going to share whatever pops into my head and see how long I can keep going, so I have no idea how many facts I’m going to share. If you’re nosy like me, keep reading.

iattendeduniversityofgeorgia1.) Like I mentioned in my last post, I attended the University of Georgia — go Dawgs! –where I studied criminal justice and journalism. (I later went on to attend cosmetology school.)

2.) I once played Prince Bristlebeard in my high school production of a play titled… Prince Bristlebeard and the Happily Never After. I dressed in drag, wore my hair as teased and scraggly as possible, and wore a flaming red fake beard. Good times. Fortunately Sadly, I have no pictures of this monstrosity of a costume.

3.) In my group of friends, I am considered the logical one. Maybe it’s because I’m much more of an Aquarius than a Pisces. Maybe it’s because I looked up to Spock as a child. Whatever the reason, when my friends approach me with their problems, I weigh the pros and cons, analyze the situation, and advise them as best I can. If you want someone to sympathetically hold your hand while you cry, I am probably not your girl. If you want someone to help you figure shit out calmly and rationally, then hit me up.

4.) My childhood nickname was Muffy.

5.) If I could start school from scratch, I would probably study genetics or physics.

6.) I’m dyslexic, so I literally reread the previous sentence ten times — and then made my adopted bro proofread it for me (thanks, Ford!) — to make sure I’d written physics and not psychics.

iwentgrayveryearly7.) I am a natural redhead (evidence is on my Instagram), but I went gray very, very early. Now my roots are mostly white and dark gray with a few gingery streaks. Ewwwww…

8.) I’m plant-based. According to some people, I can’t call myself vegan because I shop secondhand — and because I don’t believe in throwing away my belongings — so some of my jackets, purses, and shoes are leather. I don’t eat animals because I love animals. I also love the planet, so I don’t want a bunch of my shit littering a landfill when it’s perfectly usable. It’s also very difficult to find environmentally friendly vegan items in secondhand stores. You’re free to disagree with my methods and live your life the way you want to, but hateful comments will be posted on my IG Stories and openly mocked. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

9.) I am a shitty driver, and I freely admit to that fact. I’m going to take driving lessons to (hopefully) improve, because… damn.

10.) I curse like a sailor. But! According to research, that’s a sign of more intelligence, not less. Thanks, science!

iamacrazyplantlady11.) I am a crazy plant lady. I love plants! And trees! And flowers! If I didn’t live in the Deep South, where the air feels like you’re breathing pudding instead of oxygen, I would probably spend the bulk of my time outside.

12.) My favorite food is Indian food, specifically papri chaat, which is this delicious chickpea salad, and there’s a place near my house that makes it with coconut yogurt instead of dairy. Yum. I would eat it every day if I could. That or tandoori tofu. My mouth is watering right now. Great, I have a craving at 3 in the morning. Why do I do this to myself?

13.) I don’t want kids. No, this is not an attack on people who have kids or want kids. You do you, boo. No, I will not change my mind. No, telling me I don’t know what love is, that I’m selfish, or that I’ll never know true happiness won’t make me change my mind. To each their own. The planet is overpopulated as it is. I have chronic migraines and can’t handle high-pitched squealing. I have endometriosis. And I just plain don’t want children. The end.

14.) It may shock many of you after reading #13, but I’m actually not single.

15.) I’ve known my best friend for… um… seventeen years? Eighteen? A long time. But I consider her my adopted sister. Once you’ve proven you can stick it out that long, you’re family. I actually have several adopted siblings, some I’ve known for a decade-plus, others for less, but I love ’em like crazy. You know who you are.

ispeakrussian16.) In school I studied Spanish, German, French, Japanese, and Russian. Spanish was the hardest to learn. I’ve actually forgotten most of my Spanish, and I struggle to speak French, though I can still read it. I learned Danish from my adopted family, but after English, I’m the most comfortable speaking Russian. It’s just much easier for me because I have some Russian-speaking friends/adopted family who speak it with me frequently so I don’t get rusty. And they make the best tea in Russia. The best. Maybe that’s part of my affinity. (чита́ть про́поведь!)

17.) I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid, and I’m still obsessed with space. (To everybody who’s suffered through my endless space chatter, I am so, so sorry. But not really.)

18.) I am an unrepentant nerd. I dressed as Beverly Crusher for Halloween when I was twelve and was mocked relentlessly, but I didn’t care because I thought I looked cool. I even speak some Vulcan, Klingon, and Elvish.

19.) I love a lot of “creepy” things. Rats? I love them, Mom, so chill. Bats? Adorable, precious things, okay, Tristan! Snakes? They are not the devil’s pasta, Michael, so shut up. Spiders? They eat mosquitoes. They are good bros even if my uncle is petrified of them. (He won’t read this, so I can’t call him out directly. Read my damn blog, man!) But I hate roaches and wasps. Nope. Hell no.

ilovemycatssomuch20.) I love animals. I love them. My cats are my babies. My aunt and uncle’s cats and dogs are also my babies even if they aren’t technically mine. (Meh, semantics.) I named my blog after one of my babies. I have an Instagram for pictures of the four-legged children. I was even nicknamed Kitty because of my love for my cats. I just cannot articulate how much I love them.

21.) I am tiny. I’m only 5 feet tall. Hey, as the Bard said in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “And though she be but little, she is fierce.”

22.) It’s the ten year anniversary of my almost-death! I was part of Club Swine ’09 and was hospitalized in isolation with Swine Flu in November 2009. CDC doctors came in wearing their hazmat suits. The guy in the room next to mine died — turned out he was also a college student a few years younger than I was. In total, 203,000 people died during the 2009 pandemic. I was one of the lucky ones. Get your damn flu shots, people. Especially if you’re immunocompromised.

23.) I sang with Jewel at a dinner for the governor while I lived in Alaska as a kid. (90s music lovers, you know who I’m talking about. Everybody else, just click the link.)

24.) Also while living in Alaska, I grew up with two of the most gorgeous, loyal, protective wolfdogs. It’s illegal to own a wolfdog in Alaska now, and maybe it was then, too, but I didn’t know any better. I just loved them. To this day, my brother and I have a very strong sense of kinship with wolves. My only pictures of them died in the flood of 2017 that wrecked most of what I owned, and I’m truly gutted about it even though I remember what they looked like so clearly.

25.) This seems like a good number to wrap things up, so #25 is… if you’re still reading this, I love you and hope you have a great day!

Share something interesting about yourself in the comments!

Favorites and Fails: September 2019

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Wow, it’s been an eternity since I’ve done one of these. I considered doing a ‘best of 2019 so far’ round up, but I don’t want to write a Bible-length post, and I don’t think anybody wants to read one.

If you read my last post, you’ll know we’ve been through the ringer here lately, but I don’t want to get into that right now. Let’s talk about the good stuff! I’ve even got some nifty discount codes to share with y’all. Without further ado, here’s my favorites (and a couple of fails) for the month of September.

1.) Mylk Guys: A couple weeks ago, a cool online vegan grocery called Mylk Guys reached out and kindly gifted me a little shopping haul, and I am obsessed. If you’re like me and live in an area that doesn’t carry loads of vegan products, you can get sick of eating the same old things. That’s… not gonna be a problem for me anymore. The problem will be controlling myself when the urge to buy every vegan cheese they’re selling takes hold of me at three in the morning. Late night grocery shopping spree cravings are real, you guys. I need an intervention. If you shop through this link, you can see some of my favorites and get $10 off your first order.

september favorites prodigal son

2.) Prodigal Son: I’m a huge murder fan, which sounds a bit alarming, but you know what I mean. I studied criminology at university, and I love a good crime drama. Key word being good. This one? Is shockingly good. The charismatic Tom Payne (The Walking Dead) stars as Malcolm Bright, a disgraced FBI profiler working with the police to solve crimes with the help of his father, Dr. Martin Whitly, brilliantly portrayed by Oscar-nominee Michael Sheen (The Queen, Frost/Nixon). The twist? Whitly is a convicted serial killer known as The Surgeon. Part House, part Hannibal, and part what-the-Hell-is-this? original, Prodigal Son is a wild ride. You can watch it on Fox on Monday or on Hulu.

3.) ThreadUP: As I mentioned in my update, I’ve seriously messed up my leg, so I can’t wear any of my pants. Because shaving is out of the question, and I seriously cannot handle brushing against my own hairy legs, I am all about the athleisure at the moment. I’ve been shopping more sustainably lately, so I’ve turned to ThreadUP for my current “help, I can’t wear my pants” needs. I snapped up several pairs of Adidas track pants, and my mom bought me some Nike joggers. Are they the height of fashion? No way, but considering I’m hobbling around on a cane at the moment, I really don’t care. (Not sponsored, but I should be. C’mon, ThreadUP!)

4.) Altra Olympus 2.5: Before the leg injury, I screwed up the tendons in my foot and was told I needed to wear orthotic shoes while I healed. Visions of Sophia Petrillo’s old lady shoes flashed before my eyes. Now, I love the Golden Girls, and I joke about how I want to be Sophia when I’m old, but I’m not ready for it yet. Luckily, my uncle did the same thing to his foot months ago, had a lot of success with Altra trainers, and kindly bought me a pair. I. Love. These. Shoes. I love them. They’re so comfortable and supportive, plus the thick sole makes me taller. Every little bit helps.

september favorites sourpuss blanket

5.) Sourpuss bat blanket + pouches: As you can see, Teeny loves her new bat blanket and says thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m so sorry I included it because it’s not on the website now, but I just love it so much, and so do the babies. Also adorable and much-loved are these pouches featuring my all-time favorites, Bowie and Freddie. These are still available, so grab them while you can! I feel like it would be completely disrespectful not to use the Bowie pouch as a makeup bag, but Freddie loved his glam, too. Decisions, decisions.

september favorites yeouth vitamin c&e serum

6.) Yeouth Skincare Vitamin C&E Serum with Hyaluronic Acid: This stuff… Oh, man. This stuff is amazing. C&E protect your skin from free radicals, which cause aging, and hyaluronic acid helps your skin to retain moisture, so any moisturizer you apply over it sinks in properly. Plus you can use my discount code SOCIAL20 to get your own for a nifty twenty percent off. What’s not to love?

7.) Honey by Raveena: As one of the best YouTube comments ever says, “This is what clear skin sounds like.” Yes! Honestly, I cannot get enough of this woman’s voice, and she’s ridiculously beautiful to boot. Her voice reminds me of Norah Jones blended with Lana Del Rey, and I’m so obsessed with her at the moment. Maybe it’s me being a bit odd, but certain songs and albums have seasonal vibes to me, and Honey just feels autumnal. Just… go. Watch the video. Listen to her music. You will thank me.

8.) My new Macbook Pro: My (less than a year old!) HP started doing this weird thing where the screen flashed blue, everything went back to normal, and then the laptop would freeze up until I popped the battery out and did a hard reboot. At first it happened once a month, and then it was happening two or three times a night. I need my computer for work, so that wasn’t going to fly. I bit the bullet and shelled out for a new MacBook, and now I remember why I’ve always been a die-hard Apple girl. I’m sorry, Apple. I’ll never cheat on you again.

9.) Pumpkin Spice Lattes: They’re back! I get mine with coconut milk and no whipped cream, and they are delicious. Yeah, I know. I sound like a Basic Fall Girl, and I am completely okay with that.

10.) The Keepers: Oh, God. Where do I even begin when it comes to discussing this series? I was reared Catholic, and while I’m no longer a member of the church, my cousin was a priest. I have another cousin who’s a nun. Hearing the testimony of how so many children were brutalized by two Baltimore priests — and the resulting death of Sister Cathy Cesnik, who tried to stop it — sickens me in ways I can’t fully articulate. It’s absolutely gut-wrenching and so well done, but it may be triggering to survivors of sexual abuse. Please stay safe if you decide to watch it. It can be found on Netflix.

11.) 17 Carnations by Andrew Morton: Detailing the affair between Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII as well as their connection to Nazi Germany, which revolved around a rather bizarre scheme to make him a puppet king to the Third Reich. Despite its meticulously researched density, 17 Carnations is a fast, easy read that’s by turns shocking and — perhaps surprisingly given its subject matter — amusing.

And now… for the fails. Oh, the fails.

crutch broken leg avulsed patellar tendon

1.) My stupid leg: If you have never had an avulsed patellar tendon, I don’t recommend it. Basically, the tendon has partially peeled away from where it connects to the bone. On top of the fracture, it makes walking borderline unbearable. There are times when I literally reach the point of almost wetting myself because the alternative means standing up and hobbling my way to the bathroom. I have a high pain tolerance, but holy shit. This sucks, you guys.

2.) The weather: It’s officially autumn. October is just a day away (so prepare for some spooky content), and it’s like a bloody sauna outside. It’s also going to be close to 100 every single day this week. Why? Why?! Can we just have some freakin’ sweater weather already?!

There you have it, my favorites and fails for September. What have you been loving lately?

Your New Favorite Side: Spicy Roasted Brussels Sprouts

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I was that really weird kid who never needed any convincing to eat her vegetables, even the ones most kids hate. Collard greens? Yum! Broccoli? Hell yeah! Brussels sprouts? Gimme!

I went through a phase a couple of years ago where I ate Brussels sprouts for lunch and dinner Every. Single. Day. No kidding. While I’m not looking to get back into an all-Brussels sprouts meal plan, I’ve had a serious craving for them lately. Back in the day, I bought the frozen-in-butter-sauce variety, but since I’m trying to eat vegan as often as possible, I thought I’d share one of my favorite recipes. It’s insanely delicious, under 200 calories, and it couldn’t be easier.

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What You’ll Need:

  • 1 bag of Brussels sprouts
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt
  • Crushed red pepper flakes

How To Make It:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 F (around 200-ish C IIRC).
  • Press the red pepper flakes (to taste, but remember to start out on the conservative side unless you really love heat) between your palms to warm them and release the oils, then add them to the olive oil, and let that sit while the oven heats.
  • Cut the top and bottom off of the garlic head and peel it as much paper as you can. You can remove the cloves, but they pop out much easier once they’re roasted.
  • Spread out the sprouts on a baking sheet with your garlic in the center (or spread the cloves out, either way), and then drizzle them with the pepper-infused olive oil.
  • Add a pinch of salt. It all depends on how salty you like your food.
  • Roast for 30-35 minutes and let cool. Now you can squeeze the sweet-and-spicy garlic from the head or mash up the cloves a little with your sprouts.
  • Enjoy!

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See? Easy-peasy and super healthy! You can substitute rosemary or lemon butter (or vegan butter) or anything your heart desires. All you have to do is remember to cook your sprouts thoroughly, and you can’t really go wrong.

Let me know if you give this recipe a try, and feel free to share any of your favorites!