back roads and mason jars

live country. eat plants. be happy.



spooky thirsty thursday

Halloween means different things to different people.  Whether you are going to a bar, a costume party or frantically getting your kid dressed up in their costume to walk the neighborhood all night, we all want one thing – to have a great time!

In my Halloween pasts especially in college, we used any party as an excuse to make Jello shots with Vodka.  Jello was also a favorite low calorie snack (I ate the sugar free kind) that I ate with lunch.  When I went vegetarian, I knew this had to be removed from my diet since it contains gelatin and there went my favorite party treat.  When I was in my small town Wal-Mart a few weeks ago, I came across a product that was totally new to me.  There it was – Bakol Jel Dessert – right next to the standard Jello.  I grabbed one of each flavor available – Cherry and Strawberry.  When I checked online, I was excited to see that there were a few more options too like orange, raspberry, lemon and unflavored.  The box boasts the vegan label as well as non-gmo, 100% natural and no preservatives.

Bakol Jel Dessert meant Vegan Jel Shots.  Yeah, that’ll work for me!  Here is my recipe to make my Spooky Strawberry Vegan Jel Shots.

jel-shots-watermark1. Boil 8 oz of water.  Once boiling, add the water to a vessel with a spout.

2. Add the 3 oz Jel pack and stir until it is completely dissolved.

3. Add in 3 oz of cold water and 5 oz of vodka.

4. Place in a mold or cups and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.  I used a silicone sugar skull mold for some of mine in the photo.  The Jel worked very well with the silicone and were super easy to remove.  This product is not as firm as its traditional counterpart.


skull-water-watermarkIs Jel not your thing?  A lot of people have a texture issue with Jel or Jello.  Don’t worry – I have a treat for you too!  First, grab a spooky glass like my skull mason jar!  Add a shot of vodka to the glass, pour in your favorite La Croix water (cranberry pictured) and add in any fruit you like.  There you have a very tasty, low calorie spooky treat!

My husband and I are planning on enjoying our Spooky Jel Shots this weekend while we cheer on the Chicago Cubs!  Hope y’all have a safe and fun Halloween!

Bye y’all!

not your basic pumpkin spice latte

octoberFall is my absolute favorite time of year.  October is especially important to me since I married my husband in October.  This year we will celebrate 5 years of marriage and 14 years together.  During this month, my little family gets to enjoy our favorite time of year and cram activities into every day possible.

I am that crazy, fall obsessed friend.  I love everything about fall – the crisp in the air as the weather changes and summer leaves us, the rainbow of colors that can be seen in the trees, having a bonfire with close friends wrapped in hoodies and blankets, celebrating Halloween with more skulls than you thought one person could own and all things pumpkin and apple.  We already have our annual trip planned to our favorite mountain orchard.  I will be cramming so many apple recipes into our menu plan very soon!

The farm where my husband and I were married in October of 2011.
Family pumpkins that I carved for Halloween 2014. From Left to Right – A photo of my dog (Brodie), a sugar skull and a merge of the Hank Williams Jr. hawk and the Waylon Jennings logo.

One of the best things about fall in the famous Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks.  Once I started this vegan journey, I learned that this seasonal, delicious treat didn’t meet my requirements anymore.  Last week, I found the answer for me!  Califia Farms has created a large line of non-dairy vegan beverages like coffee blends, non-dairy milks, coffee creamers, juices and seasonal favorites like the Pumpkin Spice Latte and a Holiday Nog.  My favorite product by Califia Farms before today is their Salted Caramel Cold Brew Coffee with almond milk.  YUM!  It is seriously drool worthy.


Below I have created a chart comparing the nutrition and ingredients list of the Starbucks and Califia Farms Pumpkin Spice Latte.  To compare apples to apples, I used the standard setting on the Starbucks latte as using 2% milk and having whipped cream on top of a Tall (8 oz.) order.

Pumpkin Spice Latte


Califia Farms

OZ Size






Total Fat

8 g

3 g

Saturated Fat

5 g

0 g

Trans Fat

0 g

0 g


35 mg

0 mg


120 mg

170 mg

Total Carbohydrate

27 g

15 g

Dietary Fiber

0 g

1 g


26 g

12 g


7 g

1 g


Califia Farms

Ingredients: Milk, Pumpkin Spice Sauce [Sugar, Condensed Skim Milk, Pumpkin Puree, Contains 2% Or Less Of Fruit And Vegetable Juice For Color, Natural Flavors, Annatto, Salt, Potassium Sorbate], Brewed Espresso, Whipped Cream [Cream (Cream, Milk, Mono And Diglycerides, Carrageenan), Vanilla Syrup (Sugar, Water, Natural Flavors, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid)], Pumpkin Spice Topping [Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Clove, Sulfiting Agents]. Coffee (Water, Coffee Extract), Almondmilk (Water, Almonds), Pure Cane Sugar, Pumpkin Puree, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Citrate, Natural Flavors, Cinnamon, Sea Salt, Sunflower Lecithin, Ginger, Nutmeg, Locust Bean Gum, Gellan Gum.

*All information was compiled from the Starbucks and Califia Farms websites.

It should also be noted that Califia Farms uses non-genetically altered almonds in their products.  I have been paying more and more attention to this as the labeling on all products has recently been updated to show this fact.  If you have noticed, it seems like pretty much every product in my pantry carries this label now.  Just look at the difference in the number of ingredients of this one drink!  I would much prefer to keep my processed ingredients to a minimum.  The Califia Farms Pumpkin Spice Latte wins in pretty much every nutrition label category including taste!  I can’t wait to enjoy this for the remainder of the season!

Wannabe Vegan Rating: 9/10

Omnivore Rating: 2/10 – He wanted you to know that he really doesn’t like pumpkin spice!

Bye y’all!

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