Saturday, February 15, 2014

A New Direction

This blog is now taking a semi-new direction. Although I wish I could continue to be vegan, I cannot as I am intolerant to most vegan proteins, grains, and some nuts. Since a vegan lifestyle is simply not feasible for me at the moment, I could not continue with the old name. I apologize for any inconvenience.

What has not changed, however, is my philosophy that we should eat whole, natural foods and the nutrition behind why, which will be the focus of this blog rather than veganism.

I do hope you continue to enjoy my healthy, whole-food creations.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Vegan Cuts January Snack Box

Sooo it’s not exactly January anymore, but I was fortunate enough to receive the January Snack Box from Vegan Cuts! And I said I would review it here, on The Exceptional Vegan.

Let me just say, this was a WONDERFUL Snack Box! Thank you Vegan Cuts!

It contained:

1 package of Mary’s Gone Crackers
1 sample pack of Hemp Hearts
1 sample pack of Mario Snack Olives
3 Mighty Leaf Tea bags
1 mini jar of The 3 Nuts salted caramel peanut butter
1 Scratch Labs electrolyte mix
1 Drink Chia bottle 

And everything was fabulous!

I sampled the chickpeas and crackers first, and I really only meant to sample them…but they were SO good I ate them ALL! The beans were crunchy and addictive, as were the crackers. I have been looking for them at every food store I go into ever since.

I tried the hemp hearts (which I have tried before and love!) and olives on my salad for dinner that night and those two, were excellent!

The Bumble Bee bar and the 3 Nuts peanut butter were both sweet treats if you enjoy sweet, nutty foods.

The chia drink was also pretty great too. My mom was into “drinking chia” for a while, but I had never really tried it even though I LOVE chia seeds so much they were the subjects for my independent Biology project last year! So this was an awesome sample.

I haven’t actually tasted the electrolyte mix yet, but it will probably be a long time before I do. I was hoping to test it when I was going into a hard work out or competition or something. And don’t get me wrong, I do go running almost every day, but I haven’t had time to go a far enough distance yet that is worthy of downing loads of pure sugar beforehand.

 The teas were some of the best I’ve ever had. The flavors were sweet and tangy. Not too bland, but not overpowering. And I did not have to add any honey, which I always love in a tea. I especially love that the bags are biodegradable as well!

Note: These opinions are my own and were in no way influenced by these companies.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Chocolate Mud Pie Smoothie

I am SO excited! Once I discovered the Vitamix I began asking my parents for one, knowing full well I would NEVER get one because they are CRAAAZY expensive!

BUT, Christmas morning, after my family had finished opening presents and eating breakfast, my dad tells me he has one last present and plops a big box right in front of me. He says it’s for the whole family, but mostly me. I had no idea what it could be.

IT WAS A VITAMIX! I could not believe it! 

So I’ve pretty much used it everyday since making lots of smoothies and nut butters. J

Most of the smoothies I had made so far had been pretty standard. Good, but not THAT good. Until now.

Today I made the most creamy and delicious smoothie. It’s not too sweet, but not too green.

It looks like poop, I’ll admit, but tastes like pie. Chocolate mud pie that is. 

And what makes it even better is that it’s good for you!

Chocolate Mud  Pie Smoothie


2 handfuls of dark leafy greens (I used spinach)
1/2 cup chopped cucumber 
1/2 small avocado 
1 1/2 large frozen bananas 
3-5 Tbs cocoa powder 
1 tsp Spirulina* powder 
1/2 cup water 


Mix everything in a blender and devour! 

*This is also my first time using Spirulina and I love it! I have read about it here and here as well as on many other blogs and food sites and I was finally able to get my hands on some! It's great because it adds a boost of flavor and nutrients to make this smoothie even better tasting and better for you! 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Vanilla Cake Battered Overnight Oats

So, I never buy protein powders. They are too expensive (natural, vegan ones anyway) and I just don't need them.

However, I was curious.

Many people seem to make a lot of good smoothie recipes and such things with flavored protein powders.

One day as I was walked into Whole Foods I saw that they were having a sale: buy a package of raspberries, get a container of Garden of Life's RAW protein powder 50% off.

So, I thought, why not try it?

Well, unfortunately, it was delicious. Unfortunate because I'd never be able to buy it again once it was no longer half off. I'd just have to enjoy it while it lasted. :)

That's when I had an idea.

I had read many recipes that have used cashew butter to achieve a cake batter-like flavor.

I had also been experimenting with different ways to change up my morning oatmeal.

During a human physiology class my thoughts were focused not on how muscle cells use calcium to contract, but on how I could use this new powder to make a delicious dish.

The powder I bought was vanilla-flavored and I just had a feeling that with some oats, cashew butter, and a bit of cinnamon it would taste like vanilla cake batter.

So I went to the store, splurged on some cashew butter, mixed up these ingredients and discovered that I was right!

This recipe is perfect for overnight oats, but can also be eaten immediately after assembly. Of course, it doesn't taste exactly like vanilla cake, but for a healthy (and did I mention sugar-free?) morning breakfast, it comes pretty darn close!


3/4 cup vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup gluten-free oats
1 Scoop RAW vanilla protein powder
1 Tbs cashew butter
1 Tbs chia seeds or 2 Tbs flax meal (optional if not making overnight oats)
Dash of cinnamon


Mix together all ingredients and place in the fridge overnight or devour straight away because it's just THAT good! Enjoy! :)

I no longer promote eating grains, but have left this recipe up for those that choose to.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Truth About Sugar

What makes you happy? The smell of freshly baked cinnamon buns? Warm chocolate fondue?  A large bowl of Phish Food™ice cream?

Well, there is a reason for that. All of these desserts have one thing in common: sugar.

(Image courtesy of Google)

That’s right, sugar is what makes us happy. But do you know why…?

Sugar has the same affect on our brains as everything else that makes us happy. Playing our favorite sport, learning, praise, spending time with friends, having dinner with family, observing art, receiving emails, you name it. Whatever it is that gives us joy in life does so because of one chemical, the pleasure molecule, a.k.a. dopamine.

This chemical is responsible not only for pleasure, but also has many other roles in our bodies. It makes contributions to our consciousness, mood, motivation, attention, movement, blood pressure, coordination, and unfortunately, addiction.

When a behavior or substance makes us feel good, it triggers the release of dopamine. And because it makes us happy we want it again and again, hence, we form an addiction

This same science applies to sugar, or more specifically, refined sugar. 

It tastes good, and makes us feel good; therefore, we continue to crave it.

 If you don’t believe you are addicted to sugar, think again. (Unless, of course, you are one of the lucky few strong enough to abstain from it completely, then I congratulate--and also envy--you). 

You may think that you could stay away from sweets if you tried, but it isn’t just desserts and baked goods you need to steer clear from. No, refined sugar is in EVERYTHING. And it disguises itself in many ways.