Saturday, March 27, 2010

Checking Boxes

Happy Saturday, lovlies! Saturday always seems like a great day. Did you do anything fun today? Sadly, my first week of spring break is over... but happily I checked all the boxes I need to check so next week can be whatever I want it to be.

  • Driver's training segment 2: check! Although the first day was possibly the most boring 2 hours of my life, this girl is almost street legal. Yes, my friends, in one month I will legally be able to get my liscence. Well, if I pass parallel parking, that is. What was the hardest poart of learning how to drive for you? What did you totally rock on your drivers test and what weren't you so sure about?

  • Doctor's appointment: check! Guess who finally reached her goal weight? I cannot even explain how happy I am. I literally starting jumping up and down. Yoga has helped me rebuild my body in a wonderful way, along with a healthy vegan diet. I know that most of the weight I regained is muscle and I feel stronger than ever. I have a personal goal of a little bit higher, but overall, I just want my body to be what it feels most comfortable with. Sure, it's been a long and hard road, but I've found what really works for me and my body. With the weight under by belt (literally, haha), I feel like I can look back and see the positives of this journey. My weight loss came from a stressful and unsafe situation (which I have now been removed from) but prompted me to take control of my life and learn what I want. Everyone's different and I've found a lifestyle that makes me the happiest and healthiest I can be. Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way. I love you all and am appreciative for all of your support in my exploration. To any of you that have recovered from a weight loss (ED or otherwise), do you have any advice for me on how to get back to normal? I've been so used to eating what I know I need to eat that intuitive eating isn't so intuitive anymore. It sounds weird, but I don't know what it feels like anymore. How did you overcome this? Do you still feel the need to eat a certain amount? I would love to hear your input!

  • Make the best soup I've ever had in my life: check! Can you believe I used to not like soup? Were there any foods that you didn't like when you were little and now wonder why-the-heck that was? Enter my new friend: carrot ginger soup with whole wheat cornbread. All I can say is yum. Yum. Yum. Yum. I appologize for the less-than-inticing photo, but after trying a bit, I just couldn't wait. It was that good. I can send you the recipe since it would make this post too long. Please make this. I promise you will not be dissappointed (unless, of course, you hate ginger or carrots, because there sure is a lot of that.)

  • Enjoy tofu again: check! Lately I've taken a bit of a break from tofu. I know there's a huge soy debate about benefit vs. harm so I wanted to see for myself. It's a grey area for me, and honestly I think my body works better when it's minimized. That said, everything in moderation, right? After seeing Caroline's yummy tofu creations time after time and finding Nasoya's new tofu plus product (just check out these stats!), I decided it was time again to be reunited. It was only appropriate that I make Caroline's Peanut Butter Barbecued Tofu. Um, YUM! The sauce nicely carmalized and was the perfect mix between sweet and savory. I used Annie's BBQ sauce and PB2. I'm really an almond butter girl, but I like my PB2 when PB flavor is needed. Sadly, they're not being sold right now, though, so I'll have to keep it to a minimum. That'll be hard with such a great recipe!

  • Love Whole Foods even more: check! Honestly, I didn't think this was possible. I could live in Whole Foods. End of story. Boy was I wrong about my love! I finally tried their sugar-free cookies, and I will never go back. I pretty much don't like sweets, but this is my exception. They're made with tofu, which I think was what gave them their unique quality. They were crumbly and really soft. I warmed them up and enjoyed with the last of my almond milk (which I also warmed). I was only planning to eat half of each flavor (oatmeal rasin and chocolate chip), but this combination brough me back to my childhood that I just couldn't help myself. I never liked milk so I guess I kind of enjoyed what I never got the chance to do: dip warm cookies in warm milk. And vegan, too boot?! Delish bonus!

Oh, and I even used one of my baby cups since I hadn't done the dishes yet and not many cups were clean hehe.

  • Help sooth my sick mom: check! My mom is a total type A personality and almost never gets sick. Unfortunately, she hasn't been feeling well all week and has finally admitted her sickness. It's hard for her to just relax and let someone take care of her, but I've definitely seen to it. Last night I made her Rasberry Cornmeal Pancakes with Celestial Cream from Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan. I cut the recipe in half and she ate every last bit. Hopefully her happy tummy soothed her cold. I gave her a foot bath also (we own one that's like a home pedicure. Love.)

  • Go to the farmer's market and enjoy a lovely morning with J: check! We had such a great time that we've decided to make this a weekly tradition. One of my neighbors works there and was amazingly generous in giving us some produce. If you don't think I can go through 4 boxes of strawberries, 3 boxes of blueberries, 5 nectarines, and all the veggies rest, you are very mistaken. The cantaloupe and grapes were a gift for my grandmother, though. I'll leave those up to her. Oh, and if you doubt that portobellos can be as big as my head or that I would pay $9 for the flax crackers I've been lusting after, think again. How luck is it that there is a vegan&raw center in the downtown area that makes there own flax crakers and sells them for $3.50? All I could say is yes, please!

  • Make baked goods for my family: check! For my mom's belated birthday celebration, I made Candle Cafe's chocolate mousse pie. The first time I made it, I didn't tell my family that it was vegan and they totally thought that it was creme and butter laden. They raved for hours (I'm not trying to brag... you'll know what I mean if you've had this) and even told my uncle in another state about it. They were in for a BIG surprise since I was so excited I couldn't keep it a secret for long. Needless to say it became a favorite and they have been begging me to make it ever since. Unfortunately, it was mostly devoured before I could get a good picture. My secret weapon? Tofu! As a bonus, I made vegan brownies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, also, to use up the extra silken tofu. These were also a hit and were gone within a few days.

  • Invent a new raw bar recipe: check! Chocolate&mint were made for each other. Here is my recipe for one Mandiee-sized bar:
-15 g almonds (7 ish almonds)
-28.75 g dates (5 ish dates)
-1/8 tsp vanilla extract
-1/4 tsp peppermint extract

  • Finally get back to blogging: check! With all my farmer's market goodies, you can expect me back soon. Also, I'll be doing some baking tonight for my kind neighbor so there will be some goodies involved in the next post. Next week I'm going to work on getting my new blog on my own domain up and running. For any of you that have your own domain, how did you get it started? I bought my domain already but I don't know where to go from there. Also, I want to be a member of food buzz. Please help!
Have a lovely day, my dears!


Monday, March 22, 2010

Inn Season

Hello again!

I'm finally on spring break! Wahoo! These next two weeks are going to be so relaxing. I've already caught up on some sleep and went to my favorite restaurant near my house, Inn season.

What are your must-dos when you have a break from school/work?

As mentioned above, this weekend I went to Inn Season to celebrate my mom's birthday. Inn Season is a charming little cafe-type restaurant that specializes in mostly vegan, but all vegetarian, cuisine. They make everything fresh that day and buy local and organic produce. I love their standards and commitment to supporting great causes. Their restaurant even feels like someone's cozy kitchen. As if that wasn't enough, their food is amazing!

But you don't have to take my word for it. Just look at all these yummy eats (warning: there are a lot of pictures coming your way.)

As I had only woken up 15 minutes before leaving our house, I wanted something fresh and simple. When I asked what their steamed veggies were for the day, it couldn't have been more perfect! With cauliflower, kale, and broccoli on the menu, I simple couldn't resist ordering the steamed veggie plate. Oh, and of course I had my favorite, sea vegetables, on the side. Yum!

Obviously I enjoyed it.

My family had some pretty snazzy eats themselves.

The birthday girl (my mom) had a Mexican quesidila filled with black beans, onion, tomato, black olives, and avocado (sans cheese/soy cheese). This was our first time trying something from the Mexican section of the menu and it definitely didn't disappoint.

My mom's fiancee J ordered a Mexican entree as well. He opted for soy cheese, which I found out was Follow Your Heart brand. (Needless to say I was happy with his vegan choice.) Congrats J!

For my grandmother's first venture into a vegan restaurant, she ordered one of Inn Season's daily specials, a sun-dried tomato pizette. It was a lovely personal pizza on whole-wheat lavash bread with goat cheese (she opted for this instead of soy cheese. It was her first time, but maybe next time she'll take a risk and go for the vegan cheese. Maybe.)

My Uncle Pasta (yes, I do really call him this) decided upon a peanut stir-fry that he liked so much when J brought over take-out one night. It was gone in a matter of seconds so I think it's safe to say he enjoyed it.

Actually, everyone was a member of the clean plate club (although I know for a fact that my mom and I were the only ones to eat dinner later on, but that's another matter). You know how the saying goes that if a little kid cleans their plate, then they get dessert? Well, my family decided to bring out their inner child and did just that. They ordered two desserts to share, the Opera cake and a lemon cake. I asked for a vote on their favorite but it was inconclusive. Two votes for each.

And a little sorbet for me...

Although I've mentioned I'm not one for sweets, I decided to have a little treat myself. I think blackberries have become my favorite fruit as of late so seeing a blackberry sorbet on the menu convinced me.

I shared it with the rest of my family but there was still plenty left for me.

The perfect end to a delicious meal. Yum!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Say Cheeze!

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, my little four-leaf clovers!

I've been excited for Saint Patrick's Day all week long, possibly for no other reason than an excuse to eat more green foods. (But really, do I need an excuse?!) I admit that I even thought Saint Patrick's Day was every day this week but today. Well, I figured that one out finally by process of elimination. Don't worry, I still remembered to wear green today.

In true foodie fashion, green filled my tummy to complement my green-filled day. My steamer was defnitely the star of the week. I've been steaming up a storm!

Monday's dinner was especially delicious. It left me feeling absolutely amazing, both inside and out. Are there any foods that make you feel great or you think are fun to eat? I know veggies, cauliflower and broccoli in particular, are the ones that come to mind for me. Naturally my dinner included the duo.

Enter the Perfect Dinner (I would eat this every day if I could)

Steamed Cauliflower, Broccoli, Carrots with a Cheeze Sauce (made with nooch, of course -- recipe to come) and a side of Millet

I also had some warmed up kidney beans. Beans are kind of like my popcorn. Warm 'em up and they're good enough for me (no seasoning required :D).

Last night was also a great dinner. It consisted of more favorites. I don't know what compelled me to eat so many greens, but I just couldn't help myself. I guess it was just prep for today.

More steaming action included kale (which I also made into chips), bok choy, asparagus, broccoli, and cauliflower. To get my orange on, I baked a sweet potato in the oven and sprinkled it with cinnamon. The sugars ended up carmalizing and it was insane. As you can see, there were some more kidney beans. This girl loves her beans!

As you can probably see, I usually enjoy my veggies straight up and plain. I think they have such a nice natural sweetness in them that I be overwhelmed by an seasoning or sauce. Even when I do season them (like with the cheeze), I tend to keep it on the side so I can dip, as oppossed to drown.

Alicia Silverstone's book, The Kind Diet, talks a bit about the benefits of eating them minimally seasoned. The main idea behind that is that it will not overwhelm your body with one side of the spice spectrum or the other, keeping you neutral. As much as I agree with her, I've been eating my veggies this way for a while anyway so it's just nice to know it may be a benefit more than anything else.

How do you like your veggies? Are you a steamer (like me!), roaster, sauter, or even rawer (now surely that isn't a word, but you know what I mean)? Do you have favorite seasonings or accompaniments or do you just like 'em au natural?

Veggies without fruit? Impossible for this girl!

Here is my go-to pre-yoga snack. When I take classes that go from 5:45pm-7pm, I find that this combo works best. If there are any other yogis out there, what do you find works best for you? I'm completely confused about what to do when I have 7pm-8:15pm classes so any advice would be completely appreciated.

Larabar + Apple = <3

I also finally tried one of Synergy's Kombuchas. They were on sale at the gormet market by my house so I couldn't resist. And don't you think the bottles look so pretty? I admit that had something to do with it (I've been eyeing them for much too long). Good job, Synergy's marketing team!

As other bloggers have said before, the smell is a little strange from the fermentation. If you can get over that, though, they're worth a try. I picked the guava flavor thanks to one of my friends from yoga who recommended them to me (she liked the color, haha). I love it, and that's a lot coming from an exclusive water&&brewed tea drinker. I've even been drinking it from little shot glasses because I think it is worth savoring. It would probably be fun in a fancy wine glass, too. I think special things deserve special containers. Anyone with me?

What blog or other trends have you indulged in lately? Did you become a follower or was it all just a hype?

Only two more days until I'm free for two weeks! Gotta love spring break :). I'm also going to my favorite vegan restaurant (the only one in my area) this weekend to celebrate my mom's birthday. You can definitely expect some yummy photos if I get good at my inconspicious photo-taking ;).

Have a lovely day!

P.S. yoga giveaway here

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Open Doors

Hello Lovlies!

Guess what time it is? [I'll give you a hint: I promised it in my last post.]

Good news time! And what's better than that? Oh, I know: good news AND good eats.

First, I'll tell you my good news. In one of my last posts, I mentioned that a few things I was looking forward went awry. I'm a firm believer that as one door closes, another one opens. From the look of things, it seems as though many doors have been opening and all it took was patience.

  • Remember how I was disappointed that my summer plans and part of my yoga training were squashed? Not any more! Can you believe that I found a way to solve them both? This summer I'll be going to a teen yoga camp intensive at the Omega Institute. Not only will I be practicing yoga with some very experienced yogis, but I'll also be able to spend some time with like-minded teens. Oh, and did I mention that they're a completely vegetarian camp and easily accomidate vegans? It's almost too good to be true!

  • A long time ago, I mentioned that I would have a few gagets to share but never followed through. That was because I kept having issues ordering my BPA-free steamer after ording it more than a few times from different companies but getting emails back saying it was no longer available. I almost gave up but by some stroke of luck, my uncle was able to order it from one of the retailers we tried but got rejected from. Now I have no clue how this happened, but I'm not about to question a good thing.
  • Best. Surprise.
  • Did I mentioned I squealed when I opened the package to find this baby within? It sounds crazy, but honestly I was giddy with happiness. It's all in the hunt, my friends, it's all in the hunt.

And now, on to the food...

I was lucky enough to recieve some goodies from my favorite vegan & local bakery. I love getting things from them because I feel good supporting a bakery that is focused on building up the local economy and using ingredients that are both good for you and are compassionate.

Vegan Blueberry Muffin

Vegan Carrot Cake (or lack there of-- please excuse this but I live in a house of nibblers. But hey, I'm not complaining because it means that they are enjoying vegan eats.)

Vegan "Cranny Branny" Muffin (my favorite! I've eaten a few of these since...)

I also made a few new recipes this week from Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan and Veganomicon. I'm sad to say that these definitely don't rank among my favorites. Honestly, I've never eaten something vegan that I didn't like but these just simply didn't measure up. I guess I'm a bit of a food hedonist because I believe that everything I eat, I should enjoy.

Gimme Chimis from ED&BV (it was simply alright)

Vegetable Wrap from ED&BV (I liked this one much better than "Gimme Chimis" and might make it again, but it's not a favorite by any means)

Black Bean, Mango, and Quinoa Salad from V'con (packed in a container for school on a nice bed of kale)

I'll be honest, I actually didn't like this. I wouldn't tell you not to make it, but it just wasn't my thing. I think it was too onion-heavy. Maybe I would like it without the scallions, cilantro, and red wine vinegar since I'm a bit of a salad purist (no dressing for me!) Oh well.

Well that's it for now on the meal front. This week I'll probably be posting more so be on the lookout for some yummy, steamer inspired meals. Speaking of my steamer, here's some of my goodies that I got from my "Kabocha date" last night (aka quality time with my mom's fiance J, doing what we both love: checking out some awesome produce).

Hellooooooooooo, Love! I finally have a blogger-worthy stash of kabocha and am in bliss. Come on, who doesn't love kabocha?

For all of you squash lovers out there, what's your favorite way to eat it?

I also got some greens, spaghetti squash, and millet (a new grain for me) for supplementation. The greens included zucchini, bak choy, and Shanghai (apparently a kind of bak choy but not baby bok choy... oh well, it looked cute so I wanted some), and a baby artichoke. For some reason, I've really wanted an artichoke every since I decided I wanted a steamer. Finally my dreams have come true!

I haven't used bok choy in a really long time and wonder how Shanghai will compare. Any suggestions?

Have you ever bought something because it looked cool or you had a random craving for it (even if you've never tried it before)? What was it?

Just one more week and it's spring break time for me. Wahoo!

Have a lovely night, my fellow kabocha-lovers!


P.S. Happy Pi Day! [I can't believe I almost forgot!] Did you celebrate?