Monday, May 31, 2010

Filing My Tank

Happy Memorial Day everyone! 

I would love to tell you all about the origin of this holiday, but honestly, I don't know very much about it. Add on that I still manage to confuse it with Labor Day half the time and you can understand why I don't want to speak out of turn. However, I do know that Memorial Day is a day to celebrate the men and women that serve our country, past and present. In light of that, I would like to take this time for a message about serving ourselves as well. 

One of my favorite yoga teachers and friends (though she's older than me, obviously, so I guess mentor might be a more appropriate term) uses two analogies quite a bit. They really make sense to me and I would like to share them with you. 

To take care of ourselves, we have to rejuvenate. It seems that so often we are running on empty. How often do we wait to eat until we're starving, drink until we're completely parched, sleep until we're absolutely exhausted and falling asleep on our desk, or even just think we can make it another mile, even though our car reads "empty" or has a flat tire? I'm sure I've done it more than once.

Take being on an airplane for instance. You know those safety measures the flight attendants say  that you've heard about a million times and probably don't even listen to anymore? Well, one of them regards breathing masks in decreased air pressure. They tell us to put on our mask before assisting others. On a practical level, that makes sense because it would help to be conscious so that we can help others. In that way, we take care of others by taking care of ourselves. 

In this day of remembrance, I urge you all to take time to serve yourselves. The brave men and women that serve our country (be it in the service, or the post man that diligently delivers our mail) have done their fair share for us. So that we may better serve other as they have served us, it's time to fill up our tanks and relax.

I have been gone for a few days because I've been running on empty for much longer than I know was healthy. Unfortunately, sometimes that's just the way life rocks and rolls, especially with my finals swiftly approaching (Friday brings the first of the lot). I am very thankful for this weekend that has been both a time for relaxation and studying. How have I been filling up my tank, you ask? Like this: 

I started with returning to my love of reading. It has been much too long since I last picked up a book for pleasure. Sure, these may not be fiction, but the joy of a new book does not judge a book by it's cover remains the same.  

Speaking of being a sale-snob smart shopper, my mom finally got the 40% off coupon we've been waiting for. Seeing as it has been much too long since my last date with Boarders, I was happy to be back. Excitement and the promise of a good sale clearly got the best of my mom and me with the addition of 4 new books to our collection. Do you have any recommendations from Clean Food, Vegan Yum Yum, Mayumi's Kitchen, or World Vegetarian Classics

With a multitude of new recipes, it was only natural to start the baking. To relieve stress, some people watch TV, bite their nails, or overdo it on the sweets. I, however, bake. What do you do to relieve stress? 

I used my new Clean Food cookbook (by Terry Walters) to make banana coconut chocolate chip cookies... 

...and maple nut granola. The ingredients in both are  so stellar that I actually did a double take on the recipes. I couldn't help but tell my family all about it. Unfortunately, both of the recipes include coconut so I could not have a taste of either. However, both are already almost gone so I'm pretty sure they were a hit. If I could marry this cookbook, I might just do so. My plan is to make one of the recipes for dinner this week so I'll give you my full review then. 

After the stress of last week, I definitely needed to bake some more. I looked to a trusty friend, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. I made oatmeal raisin cookies for my neighbor that works at the Farmer's Market, who works with a woman that is currently pregnant. Since the prenant woman is usually very hungry when she works for such long hours, I'm happy we bring enough healthy treats for my neighbor to share. 

I also made my grandmother blackstrap gingersnaps from the same book. My grandmother loves crunchy cookies so I made sure that these were extra snappy. She's one for burnt marshmallows and toast, so I prepared the batch 3 different ways: snappy, extra snappy, and "break your teeth" snappy, in hopes that I would satisfy everyone's palates. For added ginger infusion, I added pieces of diced crystallized ginger from the Ginger People.

In addition to baking for my loved ones, I filled my tank literally by enjoying some of my favorite combinations. Breakfast was, no doubt, brownie batter oatmeal. No matter how many times I make it, it always seems to taste more delicious than I remembered. 

For lunch, I've been enjoying leftover soup with snackables. I'm really digging these Mary's Gone Crackers

And who could forget my ginormous bowl of luscious veggies (kabocha, broccoli, yellow&white cauliflower, and brussels sprouts), millet, and chickpeas? Combining favorites has proved to be exquisite. No dressing or sauce necessary; the veggies speak for themselves. 

However, it didn't work quite as well here. It looked pretty, but something wasn't right. I think it had to do with the addition of asparagus and some other random things I needed to use up. Apparently the cruciferous veggies like their own show. Nothing a little nooch couldn't fix though :D. 

Oh, kabocha, how I love thee! Did you know squash actually has properties in it that relax our digestive systems and soothe our bodies? Talk about a stress reliever! 

Shout out to J for the lovely kabocha date we had today. Thanks for indulging in my kabocha lovin', J!

On that note, I'm off to check on my kabocha that's roasting in the oven. Oh boy, I can tell that tonight's going to be a good one :)!

How did you celebrate Memorial Day? Do you run on "empty" a lot? What do you do to remedy that? 

I encourage you all to "fill up" and have a lovely day! 



  1. I'm so glad you're taking the time to fill up your tank :) The blog world has really inspired me to just *relax* lately and not worry/stress so much!

    I have Vegan Yum Yum and everything I've tried so far is fantastic! Seriously, you can't go wrong.

    I love how you cut your mango!

  2. I don't have any of those cookbooks, so I can't really recommend any recipes for you to try, but I CAN say that one of my favorite ways to relieve stress is to bake, as well :) This weekend I baked some muffins and vegan oatmeal-raisin cookies, and both batches have been quickly devoured. There's nothing quite like the smell of warm cookies coming from the oven to soothe the soul.

    I used to be so guilty of running on empty all the time. I would push my limits way too much and end up suffering as a result. Lately I've been learning to take better care of myself and not let myself get to the extremes before I rest/eat; I definitely find it a lot better than pushing myself too far.

  3. "She's one for burnt marshmallows and toast, so I prepared the batch 3 different ways: snappy, extra snappy, and "break your teeth" snappy,"

    OMG That is classic. Love it.

    Thanks for the lovely things you said re my photos vs. what is portrayed in the media. Thank you for the lovely words.

    Awesome on you doing some yoga w/ a ryt-500. VERY COOL!

  4. Hi there - great post on how important it is to fuel our bodies!!!! Glad to see you were able to listen to your body and "fuel" it with great recipes!!!!! All of those cookbooks look great - i haven't tried any of them but am going to definately pick some of them up next time im at borders. I just bought Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and love it!!!!!
    Glad you enjoyed your weekend and look forward to more recipes from your new books!!!! xoxo aimee

  5. What an amazing post! It's so important to keep your tank full, I agree! "Sale snob" haha I love it, me too girl. :)
    That Clean Food book looks really great, I am checking it out right now at Amazon! Maybe an early birthday prezzie to myself?!

  6. Great to hear you are making an effort to not run on empty. I did that for a while too and I now like to fuel myself properly and yes, bake to manage stress! I made the millet and black bean patties from clean food that I found online but don't own any of those books. They were great though!

  7. you make such a good point!!! omg i could totally rattles off so many things in my mind of when ive run on empty. even with bills, or deadlines, or chores, or self promises.. its insane!

    yoga and massage=destressors.. oh and talking with my mom or close friends. otherwise im a mess.. lol..

  8. Hmm, so I totally wrote up this awesome comment, and then my browser changed and I lost it. LAME. Anyway, I shall try to recreate it. :)

    I'm like you in that I totally bake to relieve stress. The kitchen is my happy place and it's about the only time my creative juices work, lol.

    Those cookbooks look AWESOME. I've never read any, but I'm curious as to how the principles in Clean Food compare to those in The Eat-Clean Diet. That's the book that jump-started my lifestyle.

    Oh my goodness, you've got me drooling over those cookies. Any chance you'll post a recipe or two? :)

    I've been meaning to ask, how do you make your brownie batter oatmeal?

    Also, that bowl of veggies looked so incredible that I tried to make my own tonight. It was pretty different, but same basic idea I guess. Mine had potatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, carrots and chickpeas. I was going to roast up broccoli too, but I forgot. :(

  9. Geez so many cooookies! You've got me craving cookies now. I borrowed the vegan cookies book from the library and have been flipping through it 50x a day :) All the photos are so perty, aren't they?