Archive for April, 2010
I’m sitting here with a bit of a chill, some clogged painful ears, a stuffy nose, and a yucko throat. Welcome to working with Preschoolers 101! I actually have only had to use one sick day this year, so when I was up all night dealing with the above issues, I allowed myself a day to recover. I didn’t sleep in, because sleeping is nearly impossible with a stuffy head. I just sat. And then my Italian mother convinced me to go to the doctor to try and clear myself up before I have to get on a plane (which in the past was very, very disastrous).
So I sat at the doctors, feeling like a 12-year old, for the first time in awhile. Usually I turn to more natural remedies but I want to get over whatever this is (sinusitis as it turns out). Anyway, the real point of this is one of three things that the doctor strongly recommended. A Neti Pot. I feel like the Neti Pot and I have one of those college-level relationships. Where you pass by each other, stealing glances, but never making the first move because you’re a bit too nervous. Well, I finally got the push and made the move, purchasing a Neti Pot. I’m sure you’ve heard everyone and their brother rave about how awesome it is (most notably Oprah). Apparently this little device is great for clearing out the nasal passages and allergens.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to be giving any visual instructions. I ended up buying the cheap Walgreens brand, which happens to be plastic. I was so congested and in pain that I didn’t think twice about diving right in and pouring some warm saline water through my nose. I LOVED IT. I know it sounds creepy and strange, I thought so before too. But I have to say I am 110% in support of all things Neti Pot. Honestly if you have any sinus issues at all I think it’s worth the $10 – $15 to give this a try. All sorts of nasty gunk came aflowing out, which made me feel quite satisfied.
Moving on. I forced myself to go to yoga today. I only have a few days left to complete my challenge and if I didn’t go today the rest of my evenings would be an absolute drag. So since I didn’t go to work, and canceled my clients, I headed to the early class and just took it easy. I was nowhere as strong or quick as I usually try to be, but I attended and stayed present and that’s what mattered. Three classes to go until I complete my 20-day challenge!
I also knew that I wanted something comforting for dinner. Nothing like breakfast for dinner to bring on ultimate food lovin’. I reverted to the old favorite: pancakes. Once again we have some differing palates: I was in the mood for some banana pancakes ala Isla, while D prefers a more traditional fluffy pancake. This of course was no problem for me, because I hadn’t made the Vegan Brunch traditional “Perfect Pancakes” yet and was curious about them as well! So I made both.
The “Perfect Pancakes” were extremely fluffy, and cooked up quickly. The recipe made eight perfect pancakes. D said they were indeed “perfect” and “just like the real thing”. He ate almost the entire tall stack happily until his belly was full! Thank you to Isa for coming up with a perfect D-friendly pancake!
The “Banana Pancakes” were not nearly as fluffy as the “Perfect Pancakes”, however they tasted fantastic. They were sweet and slightly cinnamony, with a whole bunch of gooey bananas inside! I whipped up half a recipe, making four perfect banana-y circles of love.
Being sick stinks, especially when you know you’re going to force yourself into going to work feeling like yuck. I hope all your Earth Day folks out there are gettin’ earthy with it, cause I pretty much spent all day indoors and got couchy with it.
What’s your favorite breakfast for dinner meal? I used to love french toast but recently since the switch to vegan-foods I’ve become all about the pancake!
Tonight’s post is another homage to Alan Roettinger’s Speed Vegan. I literally walked in the door at 8:05, showered, and had dinner on the table at 8:45. I’m guestimating that his meal took almost exactly 30-minutes. On the menu for tonight was “Fasta Pasta E Fagioli“. Again, comprised of only 10-ingredients if you count salt and pepper, this recipe is fresh, low-maintenance and quick to prepare.
And it makes a lot. I actually didn’t have enough beans (again – I know now for sure a can of beans is 15oz and not 25oz), and still the sauce was very thick. Even though the recipe note suggests otherwise, I just added another 1/2 cup of tomatoes to the mix to get things saucy. According to the book, this meal is under 400 calories for one serving, not too shabby for a pasta dinner! I know some people may be shaking their heads that I don’t have a salad pictured alongside, but when I expect a 30-minute meal, my time isn’t going one second over. Even if it means missing my greens. Hello, Lost night, time is of the essence!
The recipe called for either pinto or cannellini beans, and I went for the cannellini. I just like them better, and D doesn’t notice them as much. He just hates beans. In fact, when I told him what I was making for dinner, he said something along the lines of “I’ll try it but it doesn’t mean I’ll like it”. The beans scare him off time and time again. However after one or two mouthfuls, completely unsolicited, he shared “Wow, this is actually really really good. I don’t even taste or see the beans.” In my book, that counts as a wildly successful meal.
It may be a bit too pasta-ish for a traditional pasta fagioli (or what I’m used to), but as a pasta dish it is hearty, filling, and flavorful. I may or may not have shook in my last few shreds of Daiya into the mix as well. Overall I’d have to say that Speed Vegan saved dinner for me for the second night in a row. So far, I’m pretty sold on this book and very very excited to continue cooking things up from here!
Don’t expect another one tomorrow though. I have clients and yoga and won’t be home until after 9:00 – which means I’ll be enjoying some of the abundant “Fasta Pasta E Fagioli” once more. In other news I have decided officially that I do enjoy the Vega Whole Food Optimizer (Natural Flavor), possibly enough to buy a huge jug of it! I’m not so much a fan of the chocolate flavor though. As someone who has been struggling to find the “right” protein powder, I feel this was pretty important to share.
Is there any specific food or food genre someone in your family refuses to eat? How do you get them to give it a try?
This yoga challenge is really taking over my life, and I love it for that. I just don’t think D feels that same love for me prancing in soaking wet at 8pm and not yet even thought about dinner. Well, six more classes to go and then we can alleviate that daily stress – although I think I may be trying to keep my practice at a minimum three classes a week due to all the progress I’m seeing in my postures and strength.
At any rate, at 8:15 I was a bit hungry and definitely not in the mood for prepping/cooking for more than 30-minutes. Enter: Speed Vegan, by Alan Roettinger. Once again the kind folks at Book Publishing Co. have graciously provided me with a copy of one of their newest books to hit the shelves. While I will be doing a thorough review of the cook book once I try a handful or recipes, the book is written by a private chef (who happens to be an omnivore) with intent was to create delicious vegan meals in 30-minutes. I didn’t need to be asked twice about whether I’d be interested.
So on tonight’s menu, a selection from Speed Vegan, “Broccoli Stem and Garbanzo Curry”. Comprised of only 11-ingredients, this recipe was both tangible and hearty. The changes I made were subbing the broccoli stems with broccoli florets, swapping coconut oil for the specified oil, using lite coconut milk instead of regular,and subbing green beans for half of the garbanzos.
I served it up with some jasmine rice. I’m not going to lie, it was the 365 frozen brand. I just happened to have a bag sitting in the freezer for an occasion such as this. Was it healthy? Probably not the healthiest. Was it delicious? Absolutely. So was this curry. HOT DAMN. It was about medium-spicy and all the flavors just intertwined perfectly. Curry + coconut milk = love. Add in some broccoli, beans (which D picked around) and rice, and we have a match made in heaven.
I would 110% recommend this recipe, most especially when in a time crunch. I can’t wait to delve more into this book and see what else I can cook up in 30-minutes. This may be my new quick-dinner bible! And, each recipe includes nutritionals, which is always always a plus in my book.
As one of the new kids on the vegan train, some time has been spent (okay the entire time) finding ways to eat foods I love but veganized. This has been pretty easy for most meals with so many cookbooks, blogs, and vegan products on the market. However it does take time to explore and find what works for me and my taste buds. As summer quickly approaches I couldn’t help but begin to worry about… ice cream season. I once burned my foot on a hot coal that I didn’t “see” as I chased after an ice cream truck on a beach. So, this is one of those relationships that goes deep. I tried a few soy based ice creams and I just don’t like the soy flavor in my ice cream. I just don’t.
Lucky for me, the kind people over at Turtle Mountain generously bestowed me with five coupons to try some of their products. So I had to try four frozen desserts, as well as replacements for products I use daily: “milk” and “creamer” (I know this adds up to six, I bought an extra).
Let’s start with the good stuff, frozen delights. Turtle Mountain’s frozen treats are all dairy free, and include So Delicious (Soy and now Coconut Milk too!), and Purely Decadent. They sent me a package describing all of their products, which are dairy-free, sweetened with agave, gluten-free, and certified vegan. I earnestly tried but could not find their new So Delicious Coconut Milk brand flavors which sound amazing (and are not yet listed on their website): Cookies & Cream, German Chocolate, Coconut Almond Chip, Green Tea, Pomegranate Chip, and Swiss Almond.
I decided to try: Purely Decadent Mocha Almond Fudge, Purely Decadent Cookie Dough, Purely Decadent Turtle Trails, and Soy Delicious Raspberry.
Turtle Tracks is incredibly creamy and sweet. There is an abundance of caramel swirls in one scoop, which add some sweet to the savory vanilla. It could probably benefit from a chocolate chip or two, but delicious if you enjoy a savory vanilla ice cream. Although I’m not typically a vanilla based person, I did enjoy this and it it really is a decadent ice cream.
Cookie Dough is chock full of cookie dough and chocolate chips in every spoonful, which is always true for a top-notch “loaded” ice cream. The cookie dough chunks are nearing a full teaspoon size and really quite delicious! Once again the vanilla based ice cream is incredibly creamy, and is further amplified by all the goodies loaded inside. I can absolutely see myself going back to this one again, I love any ice cream that has delicious treasures I can dig for.
Mocha Almond Fudge is by far the best of the three creamy coconut based treats. It has an espresso chip flavor, and is spot on. There are chocolate chips, nuts, and fudge swirls in a coffee flavored ice cream. D thought this was the real thing! We actually have gone out and bought more of it at D’s request!! This is hands down the best non-dairy ice cream I’ve yet to encounter and it already has become a staple in our home. THANK YOU FOR CREATING THIS MASTERPIECE!
Finally, the Raspberry sorbet. I call this my wild card selection because although I once was an ice cream fiend, I do appreciate an icy fruit treat. This flavor is creamier than a typical sorbet, with some raspberry swirls tucked inside, and was the most refreshing of them all. I can see craving this sorbet on a hot summer night. Absolutely recommend checking it out.
After tasting each one, I asked D which was his favorite. He had this groundbreaking statement to share, “They’re all good.” Well said. I can’t help but pick favorites, and they would include Mocha Almond Fudge (major duh, it makes me jump for joy) and the Raspberry Soy Delicious. But all in all, I am quite anxious to encounter their new flavors (particularly Cookies & Cream). Be on the lookout friends!
My only criticism would be that they have a pretty fast melt-factor. It seems like the moment the frozen goodness hits the bowl it begins to sit in a pool of itself, which is fine because most of us really don’t savor ice cream very long before it’s shoveled in.
As far as the Unsweetened So Delicious Coconut Milk, it is only 10 calories more than unsweetened Almond Milk and is much, much creamier. Personally, I never liked milk. It always grossed me out and was too thick for me. If you are missing some thick milk in your life – this is the product for you. It’s rich, thick, and creamy. I can see it probably as a great base for a fruit smoothie, however they didn’t jive that much with my great monster (too creamy). So give it a try for you milk impoverished folks!
The So Delicious French Vanilla Coconut Creamer is also a bit too too creamy for me. I know, what did I expect? It also has a more prominent coconut flavor than the unsweetened milk, and then it’s competitor Silk. I’m sorry but I’m missing my Silk French Vanilla so bad, although this does fill it’s place a little. It is good, but it’s just not for me.
So, whose ready for summer? Last week was my spring break and we had a few 80-90 degree days and my friend and I decided to hit the beach. Well, the temperature dropped significantly (think 20+ difference and winds). This is what we resorted to:
I guess we’re a bit too anxious for beach weather! I haven’t been cooking this weekend, life has been so busy and hectic with the Yoga 20-in-30 challenge. I have seven classes to go, and then my cooking will get back on track! I can definitely see a difference in my strength and the tone in my body. Unfortunately, my apt for baking and sweets has stuck to me as well and while I am firming up, I’m not shedding much with cardio. Crossing my fingers that I can start to work those knees soon.
What’s your favorite thing to do when the weather warms up? I like to head outdoors as much as possible – either for a workout, a trip to Manhattan, or down to the beach. Anxiously awaiting!!
Gosh today turned out to be one of those nonstop 12-hour days when you don’t stop until you crash. I rushed from work, to private clients, to yoga, to home. That’s when I got a phone call from my parents that they were going to stop by – while I am soaking wet and preparing dinner. Great. I sort of tried to selfishly protest but they insisted. Of course when my mother hands me a small gift bag, I was not anticipating Sebastian’s ashes and a clay paw print. I pretty much lost my cool, but continued on with my “easy” dinner to try to keep myself focused.
I’ve officially had three tofu scrambles to date at restaurants, and only one left me absolutely gushing and craving tofu scrambles for weeks (visit this place if that’s what you’re looking for). The other two, well, they really complemented my potatoes and toast breakfast if you catch my drift. So with Daiya on hand, I went at it. I used the “Classic Scramble” recipe from Vegan Brunch, halving the cumin and nutritional yeast, and adding chopped onion.
Check out that gooey melty cheese! I also learned a valuable lesson: when adding vegan cheese to a tofu scramble, it is unnecessary to add nutritional yeast. I have to say, and I can’t believe I’m admitting this, my scramble was a bit too cheesy. Maybe it’s because I’m adjusting to life in the cheese-free lane finally. Or maybe I just overdid it on the Daiya. Regardless, this was pretty delicious and tasted pretty damn close to the onion/mozzarella scramble I used to make frequently back in the day. Rock on Isa, this totally did the trick. I just need a few hash browns next time but I’m officially no longer afraid of tofu scrambles!
I’m going to spare my long winded story telling tonight, for it is a high holy night. Tuesdays are sacred in our home (and in the past any night that Lost has fallen on the last few years for that matter). When I was in college, I would go to the gym and record Lost (on my VCR) and watch it after I showered and crawled into bed. When I moved to San Diego, I would lock myself in my room, shut off all the lights, and watch. Then I’d call D, who was on the east coast and had already watched the episode, and wake him up so we could discuss any new developments. We even planned an entire evening during a vacation to San Francisco around getting back to our hotel to watch the season finale. So we’re pretty legit about what Lost means to us.
So while Lost has been a constant in my life for the past six years, Skinny Bitch was the cataclysmic event that brought on an immense change in the way I view my health, eating habits, and outlook on many aspects of life. My “About Me” goes a bit more into detail, but this is the book that unintentionally turned me. So it’s pretty shocking that I haven’t even touched a recipe in either this book or it’s follow up Skinny Bitch in the Kitch. Tonight we changed that, and I quickly whipped up their version of “pad thai“.
I followed the recipe nearly to the T, except they didn’t call for any peanut butter which I think is pretty absurd. So I added 1.5 tablespoons of creamy natural peanut butter to the marinade. I also didn’t have any chili sauce so I used 1/2 a teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and I chose to bake my tofu instead of fry for obvious health reasons.
This recipe was SPOT ON, and I don’t think it would nearly have knocked it out of the park without the peanut butter. D happily gobbled his up, and I licked my plate clean. If you have the recipe, give it a go – I swear (with peanut butter added) it tastes as good as any Thai restaurant that I’ve been to.
So with four minutes to spare I’m signing off – but not before I share that I’m halfway through my 20-in-30 yoga challenge! 10 classes to go!
Lost Fans: Whose your fave leading dude? Sawyer? Desmond? Sayid? I have a three-way tie between those three gentlemen. Sawyer and Sayid for their badass meets romantic, and Desmond for his story. Happy watching!
While tonight’s dinner does hail from Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Life, the title of this post does go a bit beyond that. A big part of why I have been removing animal products and byproducts from my life the past 4 years has to do with animals. While I do recognize many of the health benefits of leading a plant-based diet (my cholesterol and triglicerides went from high to very slow in a matter of 3-months), it’s my compassion for animals that has led me to this place. I always have in the back of my head “I wouldn’t harm my pet why would I allow an animal to be harmed or killed for me to EAT”. Just thinking about it makes me quiver. If you commit yourself to envisioning an animal being slaughtered then put on your plate, well, it just doesn’t sit well with me.
This is all really besides the point, because I wanted to segue into last night. It was a gorgeous evening and the perfect weather for a run, however my knees are still experiencing pain and I couldn’t run. So I dedicated myself to 20-minutes of a walk/jog around my complex. Every minute I’d switch between a walk and a jog. As I was enjoying some pain-free moments, I saw a little white face with whiskers at the end of the culdesac. The inner cat lady in me came crawling out, “here kitty kitty“, and off it ran. Then came Lap 2: I was greeted by not one, but two kittens chilling next to a bush. Of course I tried to creepily beckon them to me, to no avail. Then D got home and I dragged his ass out there where we crawled under a bush to see four beady eyes. Of course we had to spare some of Veruca the cat’s food and feed these babies and hope that each night this week we can slowly gain their trust and lore them in.
The point of all this is, while I’m in no position to harbor another pet, I’ve had a pet hit by a car and killed and know the reality of outdoor cats near a main drag. Moreover, these guys can only be a few months old and about three months ago I saw a dead cat right near where they are living (and of course I had to run out of my car and cry and see if it had a collar – it didn’t) and I daresay it was these babies mamacita. And what are they eating? My heart goes out to these animals and they are young enough to enjoy some love and a good home, and I can’t help but be drawn to their little white faced cause. So, I don’t eat animals and would rather animals not be eaten by cars as well. I’ll update with pictures as we become more friendly.
And so, dinner was inspired by my little tomcat friends. Also it was inspired by the 5-minutes I had to throw it together. I’ve been pretty scared of some of the recipes in The Kind Life, especially since I share most of my dinners with D. So the “Fried Rice” recipe was the obvious choice. I left out some ingredients that I didn’t know existed but I did make a big leap and cooked with Bok Choy for the first time ever. I know, if I didn’t know better I’d think “Bok Choy” was a famous chef. It actually wasn’t so bad and sort of tasted like a leafy broccoli. The recipe was so simple to throw together (since I cooked up rice last night), and D loved it and finished up the leftovers! It’s always a success when D doesn’t move food around on his plate like a 5-year old.
The stir fry consisted of a mix of shredded carrot, bok choy, scallions, and cashews. I had already pressed tofu however got home at 8:00 and just didn’t feel like taking the extra 20-minutes.
Since today was the first day back at work with the kids in over a week, I may or may not have consumed an unspecified amount of animal crackers (vegan, who knew!?) to cope. Hoping to get home a bit earlier tomorrow and crack out a fancier dinner with some protein, and eat less animal crackers.
All this talk about animals and animal crackers leads me to ask, are you an animal person? I grew up in a house of 6-animals (3-cats and 3-dogs) and although I only cohabitate with 1 cat currently, she’s got enough attitude to count for three.
Also, Val’s Aurorae giveaway ends today, check it out!