Vegan Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Growing up, cinnamon rolls were one of my favorite foods. I have fond memories of my childhood summers when my mom would bake delicious cinnamon rolls before my brother and I headed off to swim team practice. Fall has also always been my favorite season, and nothing excites me more than when pumpkin-flavored food and drinks start to creep into menus. To me, nothing sounds better than vegan pumpkin cinnamon rolls- which is why I decided to make this recipe.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 packet instant yeast
  • Unsweetened almond milk
  • Vegan butter
  • Sea salt
  • Pumpkin pie spice
  • Cinnamon
  • Pumpkin puree
  • Sugar
  • Flour
  • Powdered sugar (for glaze)

Instructions:

1. In a large microwave-safe bowl, heat 1 cup almond milk and 2 tbsp. vegan butter in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time until melted. Let cool a bit until it reaches the temperature like that of warm bath water.
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2. Sprinkle on yeast. Let it activate for 10 minutes, then stir in 1 tbsp. sugar, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice. Let it sit for a few minutes then follow by whisking in 1/3 cup of pumpkin puree.
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3. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring as you go until the dough is sticky and too thick to stir. Move it to a lightly floured surface then knead a bit until it forms a loose ball shape. Add flour as needed.
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4. Coat a mixing bowl with nonstick oil, then roll your dough ball around in it until fully coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place (I set mine outside) to rise for 45 minutes – 1 hour. The dough ball should have doubled in size.
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5. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a thin rectangle shape. Brush with 2.5 tbsp. melted vegan butter.
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6. To make the filling, mix 1/2 cup pumpkin butter, 1 tbsp. cinnamon and 1/2 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice and spread on top of the dough rectangle. Top with 1/3 cup sugar.
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7. Tightly roll the dough into a log then cut with a serrated knife into 1.5 – 2 inch sections. Place in a well-oiled 8×8 glass pan. There should be about 10 rolls.
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8. Brush 2 tbsp. melted vegan butter on top then sprinkle with 1 tbsp. sugar. Cover in plastic wrap, then set on top of the oven to let rise again while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
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9. Bake rolls for 30-40 minutes, then let cool.
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10. For the glaze, melt 1 tbsp. vegan butter and whisk in 2 – 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar. Mix then gradually thin with almond milk, 1 tsp. at a time. The mixture should be pourable but still thick. I added a bit of pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon as well for more pumpkin flavor.
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Trying out different vegan recipes is one of my favorite past times, and I plan on making more recipes very soon! These cinnamon rolls are definitely one of my favorite recipes that I have ever made.
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Traveling While Vegan

In my opinion, traveling is one of the greatest joys in life. If you’re vegan, though, traveling can pose many challenges that you have to learn to overcome. After living in London for a semester and Los Angeles for a summer and doing lots of traveling while living both places, I had to learn how to eat vegan while also still enjoying myself and not stressing over it. Here are some of my tips for those of you who are trying to eat vegan while traveling.

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1. Download some vegan apps.

Free phone apps such as “Happy Cow” can help you find vegan-friendly restaurants near you, which can make your life much easier. Another cool app is “Is It Vegan?,” which lets you scan barcodes of items to see if the ingredients in them are vegan are not. This is not only great for traveling, but for every day life as well! Grocery shopping just got so much easier.

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2. Consider staying some place with a kitchen.

While this might not be an optimal choice, if you’re really nervous about eating vegan while traveling, staying in a place with a kitchen that you can cook in can help relieve lots of unnecessary stress.

3. Look up restaurants beforehand.

If you know you’re going to be traveling to a new place, do your research and look up places with vegan options that sound good to you. Having a few places to eat in your arsenal is never a bad idea and can make eating out while traveling so much easier!

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4. Carry vegan snacks with you.

I’m a snacker. In my book, few things are worse than being super hungry while out and about and not having anything to tide me over. When you’re traveling, this can be a very common occurrence. Save yourself from being “hangry” by keeping your bag stocked with your favorite vegan treats!

5. Learn useful phrases in the local language, if applicable.

If you’re going to a country that doesn’t speak your language, one of the best things you can do is to Google ways to say that you can’t eat certain things, like eggs or meat. This can make things much easier when you’re at a restaurant struggling to order something that you can eat while in another country!

6. Go with the flow and realize that it’s okay to “fail.”

Don’t beat yourself up if you want to try that cool local dish that’s full of dairy (or even meat). If you really want something, especially something unique or special to that place that you’ll probably never find somewhere else, just have it! Of course, it’s completely up to you, but even though I’m vegan I make sure not to limit myself so much that I’m not enjoying life! There really is no such thing as the perfect vegan, and in my opinion being vegan is really about doing the best you can to help out animals and the earth- it’s not about restricting yourself and being “100 percent perfect” all the time.

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Traveling while vegan can be difficult at times, but if you do your research and prepare yourself then it can become so much easier! When I was traveling around Europe last semester I definitely didn’t eat vegan 100 percent of the time, and I have absolutely no regrets! You just have to do what feels best for you and makes you happy.

us vs. mother nature

Humanity is waging an undeclared war against the environment. While human impact on the environment is inevitable, it is completely unacceptable that we have let our beautiful Earth become so ugly in so many ways. War pollution, air pollution, giant landfills and animal extinctions are just a few of the terrible things we have done to our world.

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To quote the song “When The Music’s Over” by The Doors: What have they done to the earth? What have they done to our fair sister? Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her, stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn, and tied her with fences and dragged her down.”

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Climate change is very real, and while we have ruined some things beyond repair, there are still many ways that we can reverse some of the damage we have caused. There are even more ways that we can slow the progression of this damage. It is time to come together as an entire planet and change our future and the futures of our offspring for the better. There is hope for us yet.

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It is beyond time for a change. Every single human on this planet needs to finally take responsibility for the damage we have done, because we are all to blame. Until we each decide to try to reverse climate change, we will continue on our fast track to causing our planet to no longer being able to sustain life.

our impact on the world

It is no joke nor fable that we are completely destroying our environment. Everyday human activities contribute to climate change, and this is especially prevalent in and around large cities.

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We have polluted everything, including our air and our water. To be quite blunt, we are committing suicide. Experts believe that 2016 will actually be the hottest year on record- a sign that climate change is happening, fast. The last century of human life has been spent burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil, which has created the “greenhouse effect,” or global warming. Plants and animals are dying off rapidly. It is believed that this year the Bramble Cay melomys became the first mammal species to go extinct due to climate change.

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We cannot deny our impact on the world any longer. We cannot turn a blind eye to the destruction we are causing. It is beyond time to make some serious changes if we want to survive and allow our future generations to survive as well. The earth is quickly becoming less and less hospitable to human life, and at some point we will have ruined it so badly that no life will be able to inhabit it. That is, if we don’t stop being selfish and ruining our beautiful world.

little changes make a big impact

A lot of people think that being environmentally conscious is a huge burden. It can actually be incredibly easy to make little changes in your everyday life that add up to something far greater. Below are some little tips to get you started on your path to living a greener, less impactful life!

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1.Use bamboo as your wood for your floors. Bamboo is the fastest-growing plant on the planet.

2. Compost kitchen scraps.

3. Use a microwave. 50% less energy is used by a microwave oven than a conventional oven.

4. Make your own reusable produce bags. Here’s how:

http://www.pinchingyourpennies.com/make-your-own-reusable-produce-bags/

5. Grow houseplants. They can drastically improve the air quality in your room!

6. Turn off your sink while you brush your teeth!

7. Buy recycled toilet paper.

8. Fix any leaky toilets. Toilet leaks can waste 757 liters of water every day. Get those fixed ASAP!

9. Line dry your laundry.

10. Go paperless in your kitchen and use towels and cloth napkins instead!

11. Use natural cleaning products like vinegar and baking soda.

12. Walk/bike instead of driving. Or, if you must, carpool!

13. Buy food in bulk to minimize packaging.

14. Wrap your water heater in an insulating jacket.

15. Opt out of junk mail.

As you can see, living an environmentally conscious and sustainable life is actually a lot easier than most people would think!

companies: the good, the bad, and the ugly

Companies are a huge part of nearly every person’s daily lives. Big or small, we all shop from them, hear about them, work for them, etc. What we may not think about is the environmental impact that companies are having on our earth. From small mom and pop stores to giant corporations, every company that produces something or uses resources somehow has an effect on our world. It is up to these companies to decide whether they will be environmentally conscious or not.

Check out the article below for a list of some of America’s least environmentally friendly companies. These are companies that you should definitely avoid and or boycott in order to help protect our earth! Big brands such as Nestle, Chevron-Texaco, Tyson Foods, Co Agra Foods, and Exxon-Mobil unfortunately make the list.

http://www.greenhome.com/blog/americas-10-least-green-companies

Below is another article, this time by Newsweek, listing the top 500 “green” U.S. companies in 2016. Hasbro Inc. takes the number one spot, followed by NIKE Inc. and Hershey Co. The companies on this list were ranked by corporate sustainability and environmental impact, and they are also some of the world’s largest companies.

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http://www.newsweek.com/green-2016/top-green-companies-us-2016

We must be very aware of our purchases and where our products are really coming from. Money unfortunately rules our modern world, but we cannot allow corporate greed to ruin our earth. Do your research and find out what your favorite companies are doing to save the planet (or ruin it, sadly)! It’s up to us to buy from and support only environmentally conscious companies and to boycott the others, or our world will never survive!

sustainable fashion

Wasteful, throwaway clothing items are destroying our environment just as rapidly as we purchase and dispose of them. Think about how many clothes you buy just for a certain event- that pretty dress for that formal, that goofy Halloween costume, those trendy shoes for that concert. Where do those items go after you wear them that one time, or maybe those few times? Do they just sit in your closet for years? Do they go in the trash? Do you donate them? Do they just magically disappear into thin air?

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Americans send billions of items of clothing straight into landfills every year. The cost of fashion is decreasing, causing us to buy more than we ever have in previous years. But these cheap clothes may be costing us more than we could ever imagine.

While donating your old clothes may seem like a great idea and a way to help out those less fortunate than you, that doesn’t mean that those clothes are just gone forever. “Out of sight, out of mind” does not apply here. Those “donations” are still in existence, and they are continuously piling up on our planet.

Convenience is everything in our modern world. Disposable clothing is easy, fast, and cheap- or so it may seem.

Luckily, some celebrities and companies are fighting against this trend of fast fashion. Emma Watson has been identified as an advocate of sustainable fashion choices. The actress is attempting to “change the world, one dress at a time,” and has been photographed frequently wearing dresses made from recycled materials on the red carpet. Companies such as H&M, Patagonia, ASOS, and Urban Outfitters are hopping onboard to try to help save the planet from the devastating impacts of single-use clothing. However, these companies are still far from perfect. Companies such as Forever 21, Zara, Topshop, and even H&M basically specialize in fast fashion pieces.

Most clothes nowadays are actually made not to last. Clothing companies are for-profit, and they want consumers to continuously spend money replacing products and buying into new trends that will fade away quickly.

So what can we do about this terrible trend in modern life? On our part as consumers, we just have to stop consuming so much. We need to only buy clothing that we truly need and will wear many times. We must buy from truly sustainable companies only, and boycott those that are not. Brands such as People Tree,  Shift to Nature, and Alternative Apparel are some great companies that offer sustainable fashion choices.

Clothing companies need to do their part, as well. But until we all get on the same page and work together to fix this issue, companies and consumers alike, we will continue to dig ourselves into a deeper hole of waste and destruction. It’s time to forget about your waist size and take a good look at your waste size.

packaging sucks

The amount of trash we humans produce is kind of unbelievable. It’s disgusting, it’s unnecessary, and it’s incredibly harmful to the environment. It’s also one of the easiest things to cut back on in order to reduce overall wasteful consumption. First of all, think about all the trash you produce in a day. Where does most of it come from? More than likely, the answer is packaging. The plastic/paper/styrofoam/etc. packaging that food and other products come in is excessive in today’s world. So many of the “wrappings” on various products could be cut down, if not completely removed, and made from recycled materials.

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Here are some ways that you can reduce your consumption of wasteful packaging:

  • Reuse all cans, jars, and bottles that you buy. Put something else in them. Decorate them. Just don’t throw them away!
  • This one’s obvious: use a reusable water bottle! Duh.
  • Use shampoo bars and bar soap to cut down on plastic waste
  • Use a menstrual cup instead of pads/tampons
  • Buy reusable dryer balls instead of countless packages of dryer sheets
  • Bring your own container if possible. Whole Foods sells a lot of things in bulk, such as shampoo, conditioner, liquid soap, peanut butter, spices, and nuts. This is especially helpful at farmer’s markets as well!
  • Eat more fresh foods. Not only will you look and feel better, but you’ll be helping save the earth as well! Win-win situation!
  • Order less stuff online. Think about how many times you’ve ordered something tiny and it has come in a giant box with tons of packing peanuts/wrapping/etc. Yikes.
  • LOOK FOR UNPACKAGED CONSUMER GOODS! (or recyclable if all else fails)

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Try out these little ideas as much as you can, and soon it will become habit! If we all work together to change the world in small ways, we can achieve something truly amazing.

why am i vegan?

I’ve been a vegetarian since I was in 5th grade. I actually used to cry at night over the thought of all the animals being murdered for the food we eat (yeah, I was a pretty precocious child) and the fact that I couldn’t save them all. This summer, I decided to take the final leap and go vegan. I was a little scared at first, because I LOVE cheese, hard-boiled eggs, chocolate milk, and ice cream! I live in Atlanta, so there are a lot of trendy vegan restaurants there, and my parents were very supportive of this endeavor, so it really wasn’t a very hard transition at first.

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Now at school it’s a bit harder, but still far from impossible, especially since I live in my own apartment now. It’s absolutely crazy how many amazingly delicious vegan recipes are out there (Pinterest has become my best friend)! Honestly, eating at home is pretty easy, but eating out can be really tough, especially because you don’t know what all the meals you’re ordering have been made with. Columbia does have some pretty great restaurants that serve vegan meals, though. My favorites are Nourish Cafe & Market and Main Squeeze, and I love to shop at Lucky’s Market.

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But I always think that being vegan isn’t about whether you completely stave off of animal products or not, it’s about where your heart lies and the fact that you’re doing your best to make the world a better place. It isn’t an all-or-nothing undertaking.

There countless reasons as to why I went vegan. First of all, vegans save around 200 animals every year, and 3x all the animals in the San Diego Zoo in their lifetime. 51 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from animal agriculture, and 50 percent of the world’s water used goes to animal agriculture. Vegans save 6 months worth of shower water for every pound of meat not eaten, and by being vegan you also save 60,000 balloons worth of Greenhouse gases from being released into the environment every year. 40 percent of the world’s grain is fed to livestock. If everyone in the U.S. went vegan, we could feed 800 million people just with that grain fed to livestock.

Apart from just saving animals and the environment, vegans live an average of 6-10 years longer than meat eaters, and are 1/9 as likely to obese. A vegan diet reverses Atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of the arteries that leads to strokes and heart attacks.

Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 square feet of forests, 20 pounds of CO2 equivalent, and the life of one animal. So tell me again how being a vegan is stupid and pointless.

a green household

My main mission in my path to a sustainable lifestyle is to make simple, everyday changes that add up to something far greater in the end. One of the easiest, yet least commonly thought of, ways to do this is to change your product use. Common products that you use daily, such as toiletries, cleaning products, and beauty products, can actually be made very easily and cheaply, and they are much better for the earth.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes for everyday products that will make Mother Earth happy:

Citrus All-Purpose Cleaner

3 cups water

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. rubbing alcohol

1/4 + 2 tbsp. distilled white vinegar

1/2 tsp. orange oil

Put all ingredients into a spray bottle and shake. Simple as that.

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Garbage Disposal Tablets

Lemons

Limes

White Vinegar

Chop lemons and limes. Pour vinegar in a mold, such as an ice cube tray, then add citrus fruits. Freeze. To use: run hot water into sink for a minute. Then, turn water off and pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain, followed by the tablet. Turn water to a trickle until tablet dissolves. You should now have a fresh-smelling garbage disposal!

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Lavender Shampoo

1/3 cup Castile soap

1/3-2/3 cup water

2 tbsp. baking soda

1 tsp. coconut oil

5-15 drops lavender essential oil

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Pour baking soda and Castile soap into a container, shaking to combine. Add the rest of the ingredients and shake. Voila! Now you’re ready for clean, healthy, and beautiful hair!

Clay Toothpaste

1/4 cup Redmond clay

1 tbsp. coconut oil

3 tbsp. boiling water

1/4 tsp. sea salt

15-20 drops liquid Stevia

10-13 drops peppermint essential oil

4-5 drops tea tree oil

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Mix all ingredients. Change amount of water until desired consistency is reached. Bentonite clay is great for oral health because it “pulls” heavy metals and other toxins out of the body, as well as providing other minerals necessary for optimal health.

Beetroot Lip Stain

Fresh beet juice

Coconut oil

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Melt coconut oil in the microwave. Add fresh beet juice, then mix. In a short amount of time, oil will harden a bit into a sort of beeswax-like texture. (You can put it in the fridge or even the freezer for a short amount of time to speed up the hardening process.) Apply to lips!

These are all products that I pretty much use on a daily basis. They are not at all harmful to the environment, and will make you a much healthier person over all!