Momma Told Me: July 2018

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Discover Crispy, Nutty, Snacking This Summer + Enter To Win With The #NutThinsContest

This post was sponsored by Blue Diamond® Nut-Thins and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
Summer snacking and entertaining with Blue Diamond Nut-Thins
Does anyone else find they snack more, the more they have on their plate?

Their metaphorical plate that is.

I'm definitely a grazer who loves to snack while I do things. The more I do the more I like to have something small on hand to nibble as I progress.

Naturally this form of snacking can get dangerous quickly. If I ate a chocolate snack cake every-time I tackled a project things would get pretty sticky quick. Luckily I have a few snacking go-tos on hand at all times, to not only satisfy my need to nibble, but help keep me full, fueled, and focused.
Crackers, or chips, are a vice for many.

They are not only often salty and flavorful but offer a satisfying crunchy crisp texture that makes snacking fun.

Then you have those who love to have a serving or two of their favorite nuts, perhaps with some fresh fruit, or a little dairy. A particularly favorite snack of mine, but a serving of most nuts doesn't amount to much and is often gone before the snacking begins.

Enter Blue Diamond® Nut-Thins, the snack made with California rice flour and Blue Diamond® nuts. They're heart crackers with a satisfying crisp texture sturdy enough for toppings and dips. The original variety, and many favorite flavors, feature Blue Diamond® Almonds, though new varieties also feature ingredients such as pecans or honey for a shake up in flavor.
If you're wondering where this amazing pairing of nut and cracker has been all your life, then this is the perfect time to discover Blue Diamond® Nut-Thins at a retailer near you. First check out the product locator, then head into your local retailer and snap a selfie where you find Blue Diamond® Nut-Thins on the shelf.

A shelfie, if you will.

Sure, you'll want to commemorate this glorious occasion, the day you discovered the cracker to replace all crackers; but there's also a little something else in it for you too.
Right now your in store shelfie could win you one of $3000 in prizes when you snap a photo of yourself with Nut-Thins in store and head on over to the Nut-Thins 2 Win Scavenger Hunt and Sweepstakes page. For the chance to win a $1,000 gift card, just find Nut-Thins in any grocery store, take a selfie with the product on the shelf, and post it on your public Instagram or Twitter account using the hashtag #NutThinsContest, OR upload it to! No purchase necessary- No shelfie? No problem, you can still enter to win a select few smaller prizes, such as gift cards to amazing retailers like Ralphs, Vons, and Target when you enter to win at the Nut-Thins 2 Win micro-site.
While I was in store snapping my shelfie I made sure to stock up on some of our favorite Blue Diamond® Nut-Thins varieties so my pantry would be ready not just for summer snack-attacks, but those unexpected guests and last minute entertaining events that always seem to pop up during the warmer months. Blue Diamond® Nut-Thins are entirely wheat and gluten free with no artificial flavors making them the perfect crowd pleaser for all of my friends and family. The hardest decision is simply which boxes to put out and share; as I tend to want to hoard my favorite varieties for myself.
Speaking of favorite Blue Diamond® Nut-Thins in Honey Mustard and Cheddar Cheese offer a packed full of flavor experience that really shines on their own. Original Blue Diamond® Nut-Thins feature the light nutty flavor of rice and almonds that pairs perfectly with everything from dips such as hummus to spreadable cheese and kalamata olives. They're not salty or sweet, so they go great with fresh fruit too.
I've got to admit, I'm feeling a bit empowered to snack and entertain more this summer with Blue Diamond® Nut-Thins by my side, but I'm also feeling quite inspired by some of the recipes I've seen lately on their Instagram feed. Just check out this completely unique and refreshing take on Nutty Lemon Bars which uses Blue Diamond® Nut-Thins Hint of Sea Salt to bring a fun texture and flavor to a classic summertime baked treat. What do you imagine you could do when you entertain or snack with Blue Diamond® Nut-Thins? Make sure to enter the #NutThinsContest by July 29th, 2018 for your chance to win!

Experiencing SoCal VegFest And Expanding Horizons

#SoCalVegFest 2016
Momma Told Me: Don't think different, think broader.

If you'd asked me a few years ago if I'd like to go to something with 'VegFest' in the title I'd have laughed out loud and made a snarky remark about bacon covered veggies. And the truth is, that type of mentality runs rampant among the communities outside 'that way of life.' You know the communities, 'Veg Heads,' 'Tree Huggers,' ....'Vegans'- there's us and then there's them. If it sounds like an ugly way of thinking, it is.

But, really, a few bad apples (pun intended) have given an entire way of living a bad wrap. Vegetarians, vegans, and humanitarians all have this misguided rep for being over-zealous and judgemental when, in truth, those looking outside are casting stones just as far as them. As a foodie, I've long recognized this war but it wasn't until one of our close friends 'came out' as Vegan that I was forced to look at how I so harshly judged.
There are a lot of reasons I feel I will never be a Vegan.

Do I feel there is anything wrong with those who choose to be? Absolutely not? Could I see myself as a Vegetarian, or Pescatarian? Maybe. But what it really boils down to, is I would rather choose to expand my lifestyle to be more conscious, than flip a switch overnight and commit to an entire way of living I really know so little about.

And that is how I would up at SoCal VegFest the, second annual free admittance, massive weekend event which self professes it's specially organized to "engage curiosity and inspire consciousness in people of all ages." I really couldn't put it better myself.

Organized on the sunny Orange County College Campus what might be misunderstood as a Vegetarian or Vegan festival really was an enlightening experience. With hundreds of vendors, many food trucks and food minded vendors yes, from animal free hair care to holistic living and inspirational live music. Anyone walking in with an open mind would surely find themselves delighted beyond labels and lingo.
#SoCalVegFest Donut Friend Los Angeles, CA
Prime example- Vegan Donuts.

Local North Los Angeles boutique style donut shop, The Donuttery, was arguably one of the hottest Food exhibits at the event boasting a mostly Vegan menu of flavor twisting, from scratch, donuts, with names like PB&J and Cinnamon Roll. Many of their menu offerings are not just animal by-product free, but gluten and or dairy free as well, making them great for those with allergies, or just a conscious sweet tooth.

Even in the SoCal heat I insisted on toting a few of these delicious donuts through the event with us, and home for dessert that night. It was well worth the wait; forget their excluded ingredients, these were easily some of the best donuts, flavor and texture, I've ever had!
Of course I was all about the food- and the seemingly endless samples the vendors had to offer only gave me more reason to 'educate' myself on culinary alternatives and potential benefits to dietary changes- but there was plenty more going on than Earth friendly hippie brands peddling food.

Whether you were interested in aligning your chakras, sampling homemade incense, exploring natural fabric dyed and printed clothing, learning to play a new instrument, or wished to discuss methods of at-home-composting, there was something to intrigue everyone from the curious, to the life-long-devoted Earth conscious individual. We spotted families, pets (which technically weren't allowed because of the food), couples, fashion driven college students and grunged out high schoolers. And the vibe- it was electric.
As someone not necessarily looking to convert to Veganism, I was also accompanied by my Vegan friend. That somehow sounds wrong, when I type it, as if hes 'my Vegan friend'- when, in fact, he's introduced me to many like-minded people from his circles. But, still, I associate him with my 'tipping point,' my 'eyes wide open' factor. So nearly everything we actually sampled or bought was, in fact, Vegan, despite the fact that not all the vendors were Vegan friendly.

And if I am speaking Chinese- Vegan would indicate no animal sourced products were used, rather than no animal meat (Vegetarian), and Veganism can take many forms from mild (no milk, meat, fats) to extreme (no honey, animal labor, or even animal household pets). For our purpose my friendly Vegan friend is quite easy to talk to and will happily explain that every Vegan must find their own level of comfort as to what their lifestyle means, and what path they will live.

Having said all this- yes, that is Vegan funnel cake, and it is amazing. Up top: a plant based milk substitute we found even more creamy than the big name competitor, Silk. Look for MALK at a store near you soon!
#SoCalVegFest 2016 Vegan Sushi
Speaking of expanding horizons, Vegan Sushi is something I didn't think existed, let alone thought I would ever try- so I naturally jumped at the chance when we passed by a specialty food truck known for their imitation spicy tuna-less tuna. Believe it or not, the materials cost of manufacturing this sushi was not only less on the eco-impact bottom line, but the wallet as well. And the flavor? Impressively good. The puffed rice and crispy noodles on the exterior really brought the texture and flavors of the imitation tuna to life!
#SoCalVegFest PETA
Of course it wouldn't be SoCal VegFest without the PETA booth- a booth that pops up at a lot of festivals and events I frequent, but has always had me a bit timid to approach. PETA has a bad wrap for being a little extremist, and some of their representatives have questionable tactics for shock based messaging.
On this particular day I was actually accompanied by my friend, Aaron (you know, my 'Vegan friend') who actually just began working as a social media representative for the organization this month. He really helped show me the softer side of the organization, and how they worked hard to expand not only vision but perception through creative solutions- not just the traditional scare tactics they often get a bad wrap for. With representatives such as Aaron holing their face, I really find the organization is much more approachable for mainstream consumers such as myself.
Somewhere near the PETA booth were a few animal friendly accessory and fashion vendors. I, personally, don't find that Vegan fashion in the high end market is in my budget- with the gorgeous high-top leather alternatives calling my name ever so sweetly- but I definitely found a beautiful art in thinking outside traditional materials to create gorgeous clothing. The more I pondered how truly far one had to go to be genuinely Vegan kosher in the world of clothing, the more my head actually began to spin. So many animal by products are used in the industry, much like the case used to be with cosmetics.
SoCal Veg Fest also had an assortment of events being hosted throughout the weekend, much like you'd find at your local fair. A costume contest and cupcake contest were just a few of the highlights- The criteria for the cupcake contest being that they at minimum were Vegetarian friendly. These rules didn't seem to hinder creativity at all, though- the Little Shop of Horrors inspired cupcakes were a clear front runner in my book. I only wish I could've tasted them!
#SoCalVegFest Vegan Mushroom Potstickers
We wrapped our day with one last snack- Vegan Ginger Miso Portobello Potstickers (a pricey $18 plate, but oh so worth it as it was, wok'd in from of you.) And, of course, we stopped by Southern Fried Vegan for a plate of  Chicken-less Chicken and Waffles to take home for dinner. Man, if I lived in the Los Angeles area I could easily see myself spoiled on good Vegan eats!

Of course the moral of the day was really just an expansion of possibilities and a slightly different way of thinking. The social impact of our consumer and dietary consumption is one issue- but the mentality of skewing one's self towards am ore sustainable, and greater, future, really shines with appeal to me. I look forward to attending the event again next year, and will definitely keep my eyes out for similar events more local in the upcoming year! Now, tell me, what do you think you'd enjoy most about visiting an event like SoCal Veg Fest?

What Daughter Says: Expanding your mind doesn't require commitment, it just requires an open mind.

4 Ingredient Nutella Cookies- AKA: Instant Bliss

4 Ingredient Nutella Cookies- Bite sized chocolate hazelnut cookies in 30 minutes with only 4 ingredients!
Momma Told Me: Less is more.

By now my regular readers know a few things about me. 1. I am personally on a mission to cut back on sugar and eat healthier in general. 2. I bake at least once a week in mass quantities for my bowling league. 3. When I don't have the time, and can't eat the sweets, I am always in need of quick and simple recipes to meet the demand of my league-mates. And that's precisely how this week's recipe was first made. In fact, this simple 4 (3 if you skip the nut garnish) ingredient recipe has been requested so much, I've made it twice since on request.
4 Ingredient Nutella Cookies- Bite sized chocolate hazelnut cookies in 30 minutes with only 4 ingredients!
I love this particular recipe because there is no added sugar- your sugar content comes from your chocolate hazelnut spread, and you can eliminate most of the sugar by going for healthier Nutella copycat brands. I know, I know, but I love the taste of Nutella, Jenna. Trust me, the struggle is real- that thick, dark, hazelnut goodness gets me every time. Thankfully these cookies are not only easy to make, they're also very rich, you likely will find yourself satisfied after just 1 or 2. Even better, I make them bite-sized, so there's no mess of cookie crumbs when serving them on the go.
It couldn't be easier to toss some Nutella, egg, and flour into a mixer and whip up this dough. You'll notice the dough is initially very crumbly. I panicked at first, worrying it would never mold into solid cookie dough balls, but 15 minutes in the fridge proved me wrong.
4 Ingredient Nutella Cookies- Bite sized chocolate hazelnut cookies in 30 minutes with only 4 ingredients!
The recipe calls for a tablespoon portioning system- I prefer to just pinch of chunks of dough and hand roll them. If you're not very good at 'eyeballing' your portions a melon ball scoop will give you the perfect portion, but some forming will still likely need to be done by hand given the dense yet crumbly nature of the dough.
4 Ingredient Nutella Cookies- Bite sized chocolate hazelnut cookies in 30 minutes with only 4 ingredients!
Before you bake your balls of happiness you'll want to make a small well in the center with your thumb or the back of a spoon. Pipe your chocolate hazelnut spread directly into this well. Don't worry, it won't run during the baking process, you can 'pipe' quite high if you're feeling especially decadent. The original recipe calls for crushed hazelnuts to be sprinkled atop. I use slivered almonds because I typically have them in my pantry, and they're a bit more economical, with a very similar texture and flavor when prepared in such a small quantity.
4 Ingredient Nutella Cookies- Bite sized chocolate hazelnut cookies in 30 minutes with only 4 ingredients!
Bake your cookies for not more than 10 minutes. They won't really 'spread' or rise. For the most part the way they go in is the way they come out, but with more of a fluffy 'baked' texture. Because these cookies are meant to be dense they will crack and fall apart if over-baked. I suggest doing a test batch to start, and removing at 8 minutes. Be sure to pull your cookies off of the hot surface and onto a cool one immediately upon removing from the oven, or the bottoms will continue to brown. The cookies are baked to perfection when the color and texture is even to the center when broken in half. Serve these bite sized cookies war for the biggest impact, or chilled with a shot of almond milk. Now, tell me, do you have a favorite recipe that's 5 ingredients or less? I love new kitchen hacks!

What Daughter Says: Whenever someone asks for this recipe I'm a bit embarrassed. It is so simple I don't think I can take any credit. However, simple certainly can be delicious!

4 Ingredient Nutella Cookies- Bite sized chocolate hazelnut cookies in 30 minutes with only 4 ingredients!
4 Ingredient Nutella Cookies
***Click here for printable 4 Ingredient Nutella Cookies Recipe