Sunday, April 25, 2010

My Sweet Sixteen

Hello, loves :)

I feel like today is a time for reflection and looking to the future. Or maybe even more important, it is a time to enjoy the present. Today is a very special day in my life, my sixteenth birthday

After getting an email from my advisor saying that she got me out of working my school's open house today for my birthday present, I could not have been happier to sleep in. Finally. 

When I eventually woke up (not too much later since I have lots of homework to do blahh), I was greeted by this. How sweet! 

Since we're getting all of our floors redone, we're staying over at J's house until they're finished. I thought my birthday would go mostly unnoticed, but I was wrong. This is definitely an occasion that makes me okay with that ;). 

Just look how well my family knows me:

[beautiful&heartwarming cards full of love with a new yoga towel.]

[a strawberry edible arrangement with a pineapple "16" and kale leaves. this will be gone within hours, guaranteed.]

Let them eat cake! 

[vegan chocolate cake from the Chicago Diner, no less]

And finally, anyone remember this song? Well, it's my 16th birthday today, but I won't be crying. I can assure you there will be some kabocha, though. Birthday cake kabocha, anyone?

"It's my party birthday and I'll cry eat kabocha if I want to."

[side note: another present I received was 9 kabochas. yes, 9, and yes, I will be going through these very quickly...]

I hope you all have a lovely day and enjoy the mood that comes on when rain is around (it's raining where I live, at least).

 How did you celebrate your 16th birthday? What's the best gift you ever received? 

I plan on celebrating with a relaxing yoga class, kabocha (naturally!), and a glass of tea. Perfect. I see lots of strawberries and kale chips in my future, as well. 


P.S. This girlie has a birthday giveaway going on here. Happy early birthday! It's her birthday tomorrow (April 26) so make sure to wish her a happy one. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Lesson in Simplicity

Heya Bloggies in need of some R&R! 

If I have learned anything in the past two days (other than crazy amounts of school-related knowledge), it is that sometimes the simplest things are the best. 

Although I'm feeling like a college student ready to graduate with the massive amounts of school work that I have been consumed by, this lesson was not learned in school. No, my dears, this lesson sprung out of two shortened-scheduled days, with the eternal panacea of food fueling me for hard studies and needed relaxation.


 It is necessary, but some try to deny that. It is what nourishes us, but yet is given a bad reputation for those that do not use it quiet as intended. Food is able to ease a broken heart and used as a intermediate to which families and friends gather. Food is necessary, but eating well does not have to be difficult or take lots of time.

If any of you are feeling quiet as bombarded with things to do as I am, I would like to prescribe this to you: 

eat what you like, like what you eat. 

Simple enough, right? Yes. And even better, this prescription does not require hours slaving over a hot stove; it only requires that you be true to what sounds good. 


Pear oats are the ultimate quick breakfast. Pears take almost no time to chop and I can do other things while the oats are cooking. Although I do enjoy chopping lots of fruit for my oats, any extra time to finish work or even indulge in a little extra sleep sounds good to me. I wanted pear oats both days (three days in a row, oh my!), so that is exactly what I had. No shame, my friends. Although I try to change things up, time is time, and yum is yum. (Not to mention my pears were looking a little sad.) 


Again, I repeated two days in a row (though swapping different veggies and such). I know, I know, food ruts are not good. When do you think repeating turns into a food rut? Have you ever experienced this? I may not be in a food rut just yet, but do you know what? I don't really care. The simplicity of this meal consisting of home-made black beans and barley was amazing. I simply added a little salsa and chili powder, and I had myself a delicious meal. Yes, I brought the chili powder with me to school because I thought it would be easier. I'm cool :P. 

 Sometimes I wonder why so many ingredients are required in some recipes when simple combinations such as this one (or my favorite of millet, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and nooch sauce) are comparable, if not better. 

Another simple component was veggies (unpictured) and a Orange Cranberry GNU Fiber Bar. I have expressed by love for GNU before, and would like to do so again. Although the banana walnut and oatmeal raisin have proven to be my favorites thus far, the orange cranberry flavor was nothing short of wonderful. 

When I attempted to covertly try a piece in my bio class while my teacher was about to come into the class, I was overcome but a poignant aroma. This smell brought me back to my childhood, reminding me of the little suckers I used to love (I liked the smell much better than the taste, actually, which wasn't as nice as the smell led me to believe). I loved the pieces of cranberries that were visible and the "just baked" texture. Again, it was like eating a soft cookie. Oh my, I just imagined what it would be like warmed up. Don't even get me started or I might finish my stash in one night... 

GNU, I love you. I would risk my life the wrath of my bio teacher for you. The end. 

Pre-Yoga Snacks 

My lunch has been so satisfying that my pre-yoga snacks have been kept pretty simple. Simple, but just what I wanted, of course. Apples will forever be my loves. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? 

Almond butter is love

Oh, and I'm officially addicted to kale chips. I used to be a kale-steamer all the way, but I've had a change of heart.  


Dinner really brought the simplicity lesson home hard. 

Last night I had no plans for what I wanted to make until I had an epiphany on my yoga mat. I decided to make an asian-inspired stir-fry cabbage wrap (isn't that a mouthful!). I didn't really have specifics in mind and created as I went along. I simply opened the fridge and went with my instincts. My favorites were naturally included.

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower 
  • Carrots 
  • Bok Choy 
  • Sugar Snap Peas 
  • Cabbage
  • Baked Tofu Cubes
  • Fresh Minced Garlic 
  • Fresh Grated Ginger 
  • "Garlic Ginger Stir-Fry" (a fresh garlic/ginger paste with no added ingredients that my Nan got me) 
  • Braggs

Broccoli and cauliflower? Check. 
Carrots? Check.
Millet? Check. 
Amazing meal? Check. Check. Check. 

I loved this so much that I actually used my extra stir-fry to make more cabbage wraps. I cannot even tell you how many I made but I can assure you that I savored every bite. A word to the wise, these are even better warmed up since the cabbage becomes more pliable and you can actually warp it. Yummmmm!

Now here's where the lesson part comes in. Tonight I took an earlier yoga class, so I had time to make any recipe I wanted. After spying this recipe and picking up beautiful baby eggplants from the farmer's market on Saturday, I thought it would be perfect. 

[This is Susan's lovely photo, and not my own. Mine simply does not do it justice. This image and the recipe can be found here:]

Unfortunately, I was wrong. Sure, it was okay, but definitely not what I was hoping for. Honestly, this was pretty much my fault. I should have known that I wouldn't like it because of the ingredients. Ignoring this, I simply couldn't resist Susan V's lovely pictures and my adoration for lentils. For all of you that know Susan's blog, and mostly those that don't, please know that I love her recipes and her blog in general. This recipe should not be downgraded simply because I didn't like it. If it sounds good to you, please don't let my review hold you back. Basically, it just wasn't for me. 

But these asparagus and carrots were. Again, this was simplicity at work. I actually enjoyed raw carrots (needed to tide me over for the large amount of time this took to make) and plain, steamed asparagus more than a complicated meal. Go figure. 

In conclusion, the meal that took me more than an hour to make was definitely not worth it, whereas the meal that I simply through together left me wanting to add it to my list of meals to make again. 

Let me break it down for you: in times when your life gets crazy, you don't always need to turn to unhealthy (or even "healthy") convenience foods (though they're nice sometimes), when simply just asking yourself what sounds good and keeping it simple can taste this good. 


I'll have to leave this one up for your imagination. Last night I wanted oats, strawberries, and walnuts (um, where did that come from? I never even knew I liked them...) so that's exactly what I had. Tonight? I'm not sure yet. I can only tell you that it will be something I fancy.

What are your favorite "simple" meals or snacks? Did you ever invent a great combination out of a lack of time? And for those times when you simply just want to indulge, what are your favorite convenience foods? 

Happy Humpday, everyone! When life throws you lemons, remember to eat what you like, and like what you eat. I guess this means that if you like lemons, you're in luck ;)!

Have a lovely day! 


Monday, April 19, 2010

The Best of the Veg Swag Bag

Hey There, Chickadees! 

Thanks for your comments on my last post. It seems that the jury's still out on Skinny Bitch, but I think we can all agree that it serves its purpose. Speaking of purpose, do you want to know what my family promised thanks to Rory's talk? 

...drum roll, please... 

My mom's fiancee J decided to go veg! If you know J in real life, you probably think this is a joke. If you don't know him, please understand this comes as one of the biggest shocks of my life (I say that with no exaggeration at all.) J's love for meat has always been evident, but more importantly, his love of all things gourmet and willingness to try anything shows through. He is a photographer who traveled the world for the largest international press agency, trying many different foods on his way. 

Knowing that it is finally time to embrace a healthier lifestyle (though please note, diets with meat and animal products in them can be healthy and I do not have anything against them), the time has come for change. I have always appreciated J's respect for my vegan life, but never thought he would embrace it himself. He has pledged to go vegetarian for two weeks (with minimal fish if he truly craves it), followed with two weeks of being vegan. After that, he will access his diet and decide what is right for him. 

For a man who loves his meat, cheese, and most importantly, coffee creamer, this is huge. I plan to be there to support him all along the way. This is honestly the best gift I received yesterday. Yes, even better than mini Larabars and Alternative Baking Company cookies. 

[As a side note, a few of you mentioned that I look older than you expected. I believe this is probably because these photos don't really represent me well (not even the one above). Either way, I've always found it easier to talk to adults, but I guess that doesn't impact how I look, haha. For a better photo of me, check out the top of my blog for a link to "The Girl Behind the Blog".]

If you have any comments or advice for J, I would extremely appreciate it. I know it probably won't be an easy journey, but in the end I hope his health will improve. I care about having him in my life and know that his lifestyle change will allow us to be together longer. As he said, "there's only one person on the plant I'd do this for." 

Have you had a pivotal moment in your life when you knew it was time for change? Did it have to do with your diet (or ED), or something like figuring out your future, becoming more responsible, or even doing something which you never thought you'd do?

Anyway, J's pledge was not the only gift I recieved yesterday. Let me just say, there is some serious swag up in here. But I won't just tell you about it (that would be far to tempting,) so just take a look for yourself! 

This isn't even all of it! Included is: 
  • Alternative Baking Company cookies 
  • mini Larabars 
  • Vega Complete Whole Food Health Optimizers 
  • Mori-Nu Chocolate Pudding Mix
  • Kelp Krunch energy bar 
  • Real Foods' Corn Thins 
  • Original Tings Crunchy Corn Sticks 
  • Gladcorn Corn Snacks 
  • PB&CO Peanut Butter 
  • Go Macro Macronutrient bars 
  • Mary's Gone Crackers cookies
  • Vegan Chocolate Cupcake from The Cupcake Station (modeled by my Nan)  

  • Vegan Chocolate Cake from Inn Season (modeled by my mom)

As you can see, we were having fun goofing around with our goodies. Thanks, Mom and Nan, for being such great sports! 

Have you tried any of these? I love Larabars and PB&Co Already, but I'm definitely excited about them all. The Vega and Go Macro are first on my list to try. For some non-food goodies, I also received many pamphlets, business cars, and research on vegan lifestyles. I kind of feel bad for all the trees that must have been killed for this! 

After yesterday's food fest, today's eat weren't nearly as exciting. I had to wake up early to finish some homework and ended up rushing in the morning since I had a shortened schedule (I have first hour off). Oh well, breakfast made up for what I lost in primping time, even though it didn't look so pretty itself. 


This was my first time putting pears in my oats. Do you ever forget certain foods exist? Honestly, pears were like this for me. For some reason I temporarily forgot about them but I know that won't be happening again any time soon. This was SO yum. The pears became warm and smooth like buttahh. 

  • 1/2 oat bran + lotsa water (I like my oat bran fluffy so I use tons of water and cook it for a long time)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (I combine two different types for an amazing flavor) 
  • 1 sad-looking red pear in need of some lovin' (see below)


For lunch I grabbed what I could in my rush this morning. Sometimes convenience comes first, you know how it is. What are your favorite grab-and-go foods?

  • 1 garden vegan burger 
  • 2 slices ezekiel bran for life bread 
  • tons of spinach 
  • salsa
  • my decapitated mug of tea (poor thing)

Pre-Yoga Snack

An old standby made its way into my snack today: a bar with healthy fats (a must for sustained energy) and an apple. I've found that this fuels me best for my practice. Do any of you eat before exercise and how soon before? Any favorite snacks or recommendations?

My bar with healthy fats of choice today was a Raspberry Clif C bar. I was honestly a little wary of this bar because I didn't really like the cherry one I tried here. It taste too sweet for me and not as natural as the ingredients lead me to believe. Anyone else associate cherry with medicine? Yuck! 

Luckily, this one was much better and I enjoyed it. I still probably won't buy these often, but it proves that you cannot judge a brand by just one flavor. Sorry, Clif, Lara's got you beat.


Dinner was insanely delicious! Not feeling like making an actual recipe after yoga, I decided to do some fridge cleaning. Topped with hummus, my din din was creamy and dreamy. I think that must be my favorite kind of food because the breakfast I just raved about was similar. Hmm, must be the strangely cold weather. Mother Nature, warm up for my birthday, please?

  • 3 tbs dry millet 
  • 1/4 cup peas 
  • 1 large carrot, chopped and steamed (it gets nice and soft, with its natural sweetness showing through)
  • leftover grilled zucchini, chopped 
  • leftover grilled purple and white eggplant, chopped
  • 2 tbs garlic hummus and parsley scallion hummus (the extra parsley scallion hummus gave it the umph it needed and took this dish over the edge)


A dessert I'm enjoying right now is an apricot mango Whole Soy&Co yogurt with Puffins. Freezing soy yogurt to turn it into vegan fro yo was a fantastic idea thanks to Shelby. I guess this will have to do until I'm lucky enough to go here *sigh*. Anyway, yay for protein&cleaning out the fridge at the same time :)! 

Great job getting through monday! Tomorrow's my school's campus clean-up and my birthday is on Sunday. Also, this Thursday is Earth Day. How are you celebrating? The fun just doesn't stop! 

Have a lovely day! 


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Skinny (Mandiee) in the Kitch

Hello, Beautiful People! 

How was your weekend? Mine was loaded, but totally worth it. I stayed up late, woke up early, and partied all night day long. I won't lie, waking up early is one of my least favorite things to do, especially after staying up late, but I just couldn't bear not to catch up on some reading (blog, mostly, duh). With my 16th birthday coming up next Sunday (April 25th is so soon, wahoo!), I was glad to celebrate early in style.

I started out Saturday with a trip to the farmer's market. It was really chilly (it even snowed a bit on the way there--oh no!) but my grandmother finally decided to come along so I enjoyed it.  

Oh, and speaking of beautiful people like yourselves, guess who spoke at Veg Fest today (pretend I didn't tell you in my last post)?

Rory Freedman! She was such a compelling speaking, and gorgeous to boot. I could tell that everyone in the audience was honestly glued to what she was saying, meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans alike. I couldn't help but keep nodding my head in approval, smiling and laughing, and even wondering "um, can I be you in like 10 years?" Yeah, she's basically my new role model. 

Have you read Skinny Bitch (or any of her other books)? I haven't yet, but I can assure you that will be a lie in about a week. My grandmother was kind enough to buy me the box set of Skinny Bitch and Skinny Bitch in the Kitch on the spot. Thanks, Nan! I know how my free time will be spent in the next few days. I've heard some controversy over this book, but after hearing Rory speak today, I think I understand it a bit better. Mostly I've heard that it comes off as harsh, but she is so genuine that I know she is just wants to help. Love it or hate it, this girl's done her research! (Again, can I be her? Career path: chosen!) 

I had so much fun talking with her after her speech and she even signed my new books. I could tell she was really down to earth and I admire what she is trying to do with her books. She also wrote the sweetest message in my books. Thanks, Rory! 

As you can see below, my camera was spazzing a little for this part. No matter, I will always have this positive memory to remind me of my day and meeting her. After her speech, she encouraged us all to make a pinky-pledge if we so chose. I'll keep you hanging on what my family members promised for now, but I can tell you that I am very excited. 

The rest of Veg Fest was my total paradise. Unfortunately, the crowds were so big I couldn't snag any photos. Never fear, my swag bag tells the story pretty well. With all my goodies and flyers, I haven't been able to completely sort it all out yet. I'll make sure to get some photos up tomorrow so stay tuned. 

The good eats this weekend weren't limited to Veg Fest, though. I got the baking bug (but really, when don't I have it?!) and decided to remake a favorite. With the help of this lovely lady and her cookbook (Isa can do no wrong, my friends), I make veganized Girl Scout Samoas. 

I gave half a batch to my yoga teacher and her kids, who I have become quite good friends with. She is vegan as well so I knew she would appreciate being able to have Samoas again. Sometimes it's nice to be around individuals who have made the same choices as you. As I side note, last Thursday she told me that with all of the contributions I've made with spreading awareness of veganism at my school and dedicatedly practicing yoga, I'm already a yoga teacher in her mind and truly living the yoga way of life. This was one of the nicest complements I've received and was honored. 

But back to the cookies. Everyone who tried these raved about them. I gave a few extras to the receptionist at my yoga studio and she ate all 4 of them while I was in yoga. A few of the other yogis in my class asked me all about them. I guess they were a hit. If you have Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, please make this recipe. It's easy to make and oh so worth it. And if you don't have it, please consider buying it or borrowing it from a friend or the library. You won't be disappointed. Again, Isa can do no wrong. 

It's been a busy but exciting weekend. Unfortunately, my school work is now catching up with me and I must be off. Thanks to all of your wonderful feedback, I decided that my monster posts were just that: a little terrorizing. I love receiving comments from you all and take all of your words to heart. I have so much good food that I would like to share with you that my posts will now be more frequent. I cannot express to you how much you all mean to me. I love being apart of a community of individuals who are truly inspiring and compassionate, unique in their own way. 

Have a lovely day!


Friday, April 16, 2010

From Nips to Noshes

Hiya lovebugs!
Less than a week and I'm back already?Well, there are going to be some changes to ST&VE (skip to the end if you're curious/don't feel like reading my rambles haha). What is this madness? Good food, I tell you, good food. 
Last week I experienced a less than kind comment about veganism. Sure, it probably wasn't meant to offend me, but it still did. I'm happy that most of my friends understand (and even embrace!) my decision, but I can understand that there is some confusion for others. 
Have you ever had to deal with an offhand or offensive comment about your lifestyle? How did you respond?
Instead of griping about something that nipped at me, I just smiled and giggled, taking another bite out of my packed lunch. Although I'm all for defending my decisions, you have to know when to pick your battles. Eating lunch with many of my friends, who had meat on their plates, was not exactly the most opportune time. 
So anyway, I used this statement to empower me. Over the weekend I brushed up one of my favorite vegan books, The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone, and got ready for a week of rockin' meals (my next post will include one of the recipes I made from this book). Instead of eating the food that we are provided free-of-charge (well, included in my tuition, that is, but you know how that goes) at school, I bring my lunch. Needless to say, there are zilch vegan options, minus a few measly scraps of lettuce that I'm still convinced I can actually taste the pesticides on. 
Again, I digress. I'm thankful to have food provided by my school none the less, as I recognize that many people in the world go hungry every day. In that spirit, along with the inspiration of my farmer's market venture and desire to show my questioning friend what delicious, kind food can be, I got started on a week of good eats. 
Do your friends or family ever question your food choices? What do you do in normal situations like eating out at a restaurant without any choices you would like, or being unceasingly question about your journey for healthy living?
One of my friends, bless her heart, makes me feel a little more normal with my oatmeal obsession. On the topic of food (because being teenagers, this comes up more often than one might expect,) she will usually comment on her similar love for the fluffy stuff. Thanks to her, my other friends are a little more curious when I recount some of my new concoctions. 
So what did my oatmeal look like this week? More often than not, my delicious creation makes it way to my belly before I even get a chance to snap a picture. Apparently my belly's a bit of a hog in respect to the camera. But anyway, here's a hint: 

But this vegan doesn't survive on oats alone... though I could if I were, say, trapped on a dessert island. What food would you pick to bring along? I'll give you three choices, my friends. 
Now I don't claim to be the veggie queen (possible career choice? A girl's gotta dream!), but I definitely showed 'em where the veg in vegan came from. 
My taco was so simply composed but yet so flavorful. If veggies could talk, these would be sassy, no doubt. 


(I spy with my little eye, a new color showing off on my nails. Never fear, my devoted readers, you will no longer have to suffer through seeing dry hands and chipped nails. It's summer time, for sure.) 
If you've never tried a hummus and grilled veggie panini, you're missing out. No, seriously. Next to my favorite wrap, this is the best veggie vehicle. I constantly find myself mmmm-ing out loud.
Step One: Prep&&Grill Veggies (including a new find: white eggplant!)

A tad sweeter than its relative, this little white baby wasn't too discernible, other than it's pretty factor


Step Two: Slather Your Bread of Choice with Hummus (Ezekiel Bran&TJ's Quartet are the way to go)

Step Three: Panini Your Sandwich (or place a pan on top of your sandwich in another pan on the stove) Until You Can't Wait Any Longer and Dig In 

So there are definitely some possibilities with veggie vehicles. But what about straight up? I'm am very glad you asked. 

Salad with a side of more veggies anyone? 

Or what about a lovely array of purple, green, and white cauliflower with broccoli? In my opinion, it tastes sweet like sugahh. Yum!

And as for the sweet treats (if you don't count the lovlies above, of course), I've enjoyed a few pieces of Sunspire grain-sweetened chocolate chips that I just picked up from Whole Foods. I'm all into bulk-bin buying, so you can imagine I was thrilled to see these babies as a new addition. Vegan AND grain-sweetened? I'm not embarassed to admit the fact that there might have been some jumps for joy involved.

[I'm still not big into conventional sweets all the time, but I was intrigued by the fact that they were grain-sweetened. If you see them around, I would definitely recommend trying them. I enjoyed them quite a bit, especially because they didn't leave me with more sweet cravings, as most sweets are notorious for doing.] 

I also enjoyed a Hazelnut Jocalat (my last, oh no!) I love Larabars and Jocalats to no end. End of story. Oh, but I should mention how devine these are warmed up. I'm tellin' ya, it's better than creamy fudge. 

Other than chocolate, I veganized a Pinkberry fro-yo by putting 1/2 cup Wildwood Probiotic Soyogurt in the freezer than letting it lightly thaw,  and mixing with 1/4 packet stevia, and topped with blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and copious amounts of cinnamon (added after the photoshoot).

A sweet treat as a sweet ending is only appropriate, of course. Hopefully this will be my last monster post for a while as I realize that you all are absolute saints if you make it through all of this. May I just say thank you, my dears, thank you. 

I'll do my best to post every few days so that they aren't so overwhelming. 
What do you all think of that? Would you prefer more day-by-day eats instead of monster posts? Is there anything you would specifically like me to post about? All suggestions are welcome!  

Speaking of my next post, the Michigan VegFest is this Sunday! I am so pumped! I will definitely take some photos and recap it for you in the next post. John Salley (basketball player) and Rory Freedman (co-author of Skinny Bitch) will be headlining so it should be a good first one for me. 

Have you ever been to a veg fest in your area? Have you read any of the Skinny Bitch books? 

I've heard of them and wanted to pick them up, but they're quite controversial. Either way, my mom said I can get one this weekend (big breakthrough since the title includes a swear word--wahoo!).

Have a lovely day!