Top Ten Reasons to Stay Up Late with a Pharmacist and a Prescription for Vegan, Gluten-Free, and Raw Almond Joy Larabars

Top Ten Reasons to Stay Up Late with a Pharmacist

1. Pharmacists can do more than lick and stick.
2. Pharmacists have a long duration of action.
3. Pharmacists Rx rated.
4. Pharmacists find new routes of administration.
5. Pharmacists do it over the counter.
6. Pharmacists are patient lovers.
7. Pharmacists accept third parties.
8. Pharmacists have a quick reconstitution time.
9. Pharmacists do it without breaks.
10. You will want no substitution.

[Kinda funny or kinda geeky? Or maybe only pharmacists find this funny because we're so geeky? :)]

So do you love Almond Joys but hate that all that fake, processed chocolate and sugar?  Or tired of spending well over a dollar for one measly Larabar?  Well, go buy the ingredients or bring them out of your kitchen pantry and give this prescription a try.  And if you have this prescription filled now, you’ll get homemade Larabars within less than a few hours.  No wait times, and no pharmacist consultations. So what are you waiting for?  Stop gawking at food porn and make some of these already.  Go on.

Vegan, Gluten-Free, and Raw Almond Joy Larabars

4 cups medjool dates, pitted
2 cups raw almonds
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
1 cup shredded coconut
4 tablespoons chia seeds (optional)

Soak the medjool dates in warm water for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Add the soaked dates, raw almonds, cacao chips, shredded coconut, and chia seeds into a food processor. Pulse until no chunks remain. Scrape the bowl down if it begins to clump. [This required a lot of patience. I may process the raw almonds first separately, followed by the cacao chips until coarsely ground. Then the medjool dates so it is not so chunky.]

Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper. Press the mixture into the pan using your hands and/or spatula.

Refrigerate for 2 hours for it to set. Slice into desired size and store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.  [This recipe yields delicious homemade Larabars that are simply to die for.    You won't want to freeze them.  I know because, well, I came up with ridiculously amazing concoction :)]

How to watch the Amgen Tour of California (and gluten-free blueberry waffles)

food, recipe, gluten-free, rice, waffles, blueberries, gluten-free waffle

I started cycling a few years ago to get back into shape, and not because Lance Armstrong made it cool. It was a great way to spend time with my partner, social networking, to be outdoors, and not to mention all the accoutrements. I love geeking out on all the gears and accessories when I get excited about a new hobby/toy/activity. I spent so much time obsessing, I mean, researching and buying the right road bike, accessories, and jerseys. I spent a lot of my time at the local bike shops, online bike stores, and ebay. I didn’t realize how expensive the sport was, but I was in too deep to back out. Someone mentioned to me early on when I start cycling that it is expensive at first, but the gear sticks with you for a long time. And it’s true, I haven’t bought much for my road bike since my first initial hoarding :)

Anyway, I’m digressing from the title of my post. I was super excited when the Amgen Tour of California first rolled through our town two years ago. I really wanted to be at the sidelines as they rode through, but I couldn’t get the time off from work. Instead, I recorded the event and tried to watch it, but didn’t understand the overall concept of the competition. I did some more research, this time on the actual sport, and have really come to appreciate cycling. So as the Stage 4 of the Amgen Tour of California rolled through our town again this year, I thought I’d share with those who are interested but unfamiliar with the sport, how to watch/understand road cycling races.

The Amgen Tour of California is broken up into eight stages/days, starting in Santa Rosa, CA, and riding their way to Los Angeles, CA, which approximates about 800 miles on a road bike. Seven of the eight days are road races, while the other day is an individual time trial race. To win the overall race, individual times to finish each stage are added up to determine the overall winner.. Interestingly, a cyclist does not have to win all or any of the individual stages to win the overall race. Stage races also have other classifications and awards. For example, the stage winner (i.e., first person to cross the finish line for that day) wears the leader’s yellow jersey on the next day of racing. There is also the “King of the Mountains,” in which a cyclist earns this jersey by collecting points at designated King of the Mountain locations located at the top of mountains and hills. Only the first three cyclists to reach the top on rated climbs receive points towards this award.

I know, fascinating, right?!

Stay tuned for my next post on common strategies employed to win the road race competition.

Gluten-Free, Vegan Blueberry Waffles

2 cups rice flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 “eggs” (Ener-G Egg Replacer)
1 2/3 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup agave syrup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup frozen or fresh bluberries

Preheat waffle iron.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the rice flour, baking powder, and salt. Then add the wet ingredients, and whisk until the batter is smooth. Fold in the blueberries.

Spray the waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray, and ladle the batter onto the waffle iron. Cook until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 waffles.

Going Vegan for 30 Days and Grapefruit Brulee

After a week of gluttony in NYC during the week of Christmas [oh, who am I kidding, it was really a month of gluttony], we realized during the last few days of our trip that we never consumed anything “green.” We ate our way through Manhattan and had some of the most amazing foods ever, but it was all “brown” as my partner would say. It was true. We had yakitori meat skewers, steamed mussels, bagels and lox, Korean food, xiao long baos, roast duck over rice and roast duck noodle soup, Indian meat curries, Cuban food, pastrami reuben sandwich, and more. So before we left NYC, we made a pact to go vegan to detox from the Holidays for 30 days.

I’m happy to report that we are 16 days into it and still going strong. There are days where we are madly craving sushi or a cheeseburger [or both :)], but the urges haven’t been as bad as I thought they would be. I’ve been trolling the food porn websites and I’m queuing up all the meat recipes to try as soon as we’re done with this detox diet.

Before this diet, I was always interested in cooking with the vegan “meats,” but I made excuses that I would do it tomorrow, and that would get pushed to the next day, and so on and so forth. Well, I’ve been experimenting with different seitan recipes and it’s been really fun and challenging. We’ve incorporated plenty of “greens” to our diet since we started this. And let me just say, we feel so much lighter, less bloated, and more energetic. My partner who usually consumes 6-8 cups of coffee a day, has cut down her coffee intake to about 2 cups a day, which means more $$$ saved from the frequent trips to Starbucks in the middle of the day! Seriously though, we feel much healthier since starting this diet. And I think we’ve even lost some weight, which is always good news :)

As we are more than halfway into our veganism, we were discussing what we want to do after we finish this diet. Our first idea was to celebrate with a HUGE sushi/sashimi dinner, followed by a greasy cheeseburger. [Although, I do worry how that's going to sit in our stomachs after not having meats for a month.] But I think we’d like to keep up this veganism on an every other week basis because we do feel better.

Anyway, I was really craving pancakes, bacon, and hash browns for breakfast this morning when I woke up. But I made grapefruit brulee instead because it was the right thing to do :)

Grapefruit Brulee

2 red grapefruits, halved crosswise
White sugar
Kitchen torch

Remove all the seeds from the grapefruit, and cut the segments with a knife so that it’s easier to scoop out. [I never knew to cut the segments with a knife until recently when my partner said that's the way people eat grapefruit.  All this time up until now, I always struggled with eating grapefruits and actually gave up eating them because it was "too much work."]

Sprinkle each half evenly with sugar. Melt the sugar with the blowtorch until the sugar becomes golden brown and crispy.

Grapefruit “broilee”

If you don’t have a kitchen torch, turn the oven to the broiler mode. Place the halved grapefruits with sugar under the broiler for about 3 to 4 minutes or until the sugar has melted to a golden brown crispy surface.

You Would Never Suspect These Crepes Were Eggless-cellent!

Who ever came up with a flax egg is a freaking genius! Egg substitute?! Yes, please.  I mean, this person should get an award for such a freaking brilliant and ingenious idea.  I love a good egg substitute for cooking and baking.  Don’t get wrong, I’m not an egg hater.  No, no.  I love me some eggs.   I love eggs fried, scrambled, baked, sunny side up, over-easy/medium/hard, hard-boiled, raw, pickled, poached, deviled, as a quiche, strata, fritata, a meringue, a souffle, a custard, in a dressing, and I’m sure there is many more ways to cook an egg.   But you get the point.  Eggs are egg-cellent.  Heehee, get it??   Egg-cellent, instead of excellent.  Nevermind.

Unfortunately, as I get older, my body has become less efficient at protecting me from things like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and many other ailments.  High cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes has already been encoded into my genetic makeup.  So it’s not like I can run and hide.  And actually, I did have a bit of a scare when I was in my late 20′s and learned that I was on the verge of developing high cholesterol.   I did have a total cholesterol of 215 mg/dL (the Adult Treatment Panel III guidelines state an ideal total cholesterol level of <200 mg/dL), but my LDL-C (aka, bad cholesterol) was low, my HDL-C (aka good cholesterol) was high, and my triglycerides were also low.  So my nurse practitioner wasn’t too concerned. I was given a prescription for a “lifestyle modification” and a cholesterol panel recheck in 6 months.  I left the doctor’s office feeling somewhat defeated, but it was also the best wake-up call for me.  I started getting into cycling, and modified my diet by eating out less, cooking and eating less butter/fried foods/eggs (the latter was a huge part of my daily diet).  Six months later, my cholesterol panel was flawless.  I realized that implementing some of the littlest changes resulted in the most positive impact health-wise.

Whole Wheat Vegan Crepes

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 3 tablespoons water)
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups unsweetened, almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (for sweet crepes)
1.5 tablespoons agave syrup (for sweet crepes)

In a small bowl, combine the flaxseed and water, and mix.   Add the almond milk to the flax egg, and whisk together.   In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt, and then add the flax egg mixture.   Whisk until all the ingredients have combined, resulting in a smooth and runny texture.   Let the mixture sit for about 20 to 30 minutes.

Heat a nonstick 8″ pan over medium-high heat.   Coat pan with nonstick spray.   Pour 1/4 cup of batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly.  Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side.   Cook for another 2 minutes and remove to the cutting board.  Lay them out flat so they can cool.   Continue until all batter is gone.   After they have cooled you can stack them and store in sealable plastic bags in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for up to two months.  When using frozen crepes, thaw on a rack before gently peeling apart.

We served these with our favorite praline butter from Le Pain Quotidien, sliced bananas, and pistachios.  Yum.

Makes 8 crepes.

Calories per crepe: 75

Scrumptious Silver Dollar Vegan Pancakes

So I haven’t owned a nonstick skillet since 2003. I can’t believe I’ve been deprived for that long. When I bought a house, my partner’s Mom bought me a stainless steel cookware set because I thought that’s what the fancy professional chefs were using. After a few weeks, I thought it was one the greatest gifts ever. Well, I soon realized how little use they were when I set out to make scrambled eggs and omelettes one afternoon when we were craving breakfast. Only about 10% of our scrambled eggs and scrambled omelette ended up on our late. It was so sad. So I was soon disappointed. How quickly disappoint can set in. But I trekked on stubbornly with my stainless steel cookware. I just didn’t think I needed a nonstick skillet. That’s what butter is for, right?

We were on a mission to find a nonstick pan yesterday and headed to Sur La Table to check out their huge annual sale.  I was originally looking at a teflon-coated nonstick pan for $49.99, but with the wonderful customer service, we were directed to the Scanpan collection.  They had me at the non-teflon nonstick surface.  I was going to settle for the professional line, but was awe struck with the CTX line and decided to splurge a little more for the CTX 9.5 inch fry pan.

I had extreme buyer’s remorse after purchasing such an expensive nonstick pan.  I wondered if I made the right decision for that amount of money.  Don’t get me wrong, I love useful and innovative kitchen gadgets.  But I never imagined that I’d ever buy an expensive skillet/pan.  I thought one could purchase a decent pan for below $100.  I even thought about returning it a few times after we got home.  Boy, was I wrong!  This was one of the best investments I have ever made for my kitchen.  It lived up too all the hype and then some from the salesperson at Sur La Table.  I want to buy the entire Scanpan CTX collection.  If you are in the market for a nonstick skillet, forget the teflon-coated crap.  Go buy yourself a Scanpan nonstick skillet!  You won’t regret it!

We got home from Sur La table and I immediately started searching for recipes where I could take advantage of the nonstick surface.  Now I realize that you can cook anything and everything with this pan, but I wanted to make something that I haven’t been able to with my stainless steel cookware.  Making pancakes or eggs on my stainless steel skillet basically meant the majority of the batter or egg stuck to the pan.  And it’s a terrible mess to clean up.  So I was between a fried egg sandwich and pancakes.

Silver Dollar Vegan Pancakes

1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Coconut oil

Mix all the dry ingredients together.  Add wet ingredients and mix just enough to combine.  

Heat one teaspoon of coconut oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Pour the batter around the skillet into 2.5 inch diameter pancakes.  Of course, you can make larger pancakes if that’s what you prefer.

Cook for about a two minutes on the first side or until the surface is covered with small bubbles and the underside is nicely browned.  Flip and cook for about a minute on the second side.  While cooking the pancakes, place the finished ones directly into the oven on the plate. Stack the pancakes as you go. This will keep the whole stack warm while you’re cooking them.  Repeat the process until you run out of batter.

Serve with maple syrup or any of your favorite toppings.

Makes 2 servings of 12 pancakes each.

Calories per serving: 390.

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