Thursday, November 18, 2010

Food For Thought

    I suppose if I'm going to be sporadic in posting I should at least make it worth your time when I do write something! So this post is all recipes. Well, mostly! At 20 days into my self-challenge, I ate meat. After a long day week, we went to dinner at a local Thai restaurant and I did not have the motivation or in all honestly the care, to order vegan. Meat sounded good. And it was, no lie. As the weekend went on, I noticed that not a single meal was vegan. And by Sunday, I noticed I felt pretty crummy. Hmmm...
    So Monday morning I decided to get right back to it. However, I'll probably be a little more lenient about it this time. A part-time vegan I suppose. ( "Real" vegans hate that!) Anyway, here are some edibles. 

Sweet Potato Fries
*this makes enough for two people

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into "fries"
1 Tbs. canola oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 Tbs. potato starch (corn starch might work too but I make no promises)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.
Toss potatoes with oil, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with potato starch and toss until potatoes are coated.
Place on a baking sheet in a single layer. 
Bake for 10 minutes then stir them so most of are flipped. Bake for another ten minutes or until golden. Check them every couple minutes during the second 10 minutes to make sure they're not burning.

For fry sauce:
A couple spoonfuls of Vegan Mayo, some ketchup and a dash or two of cayenne pepper. Mix well.

Roasted Acorn Squash and Mixed Green Salad

1 acorn squash
Butter or Vegan Margarine (with NO hydrogenated oils!)
Raw sugar
Sea Salt
Chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut squash in half and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Coat well with butter or margarine all over the inside and edges of the squash and leave a little extra in the bowl part. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and sugar. Place cut side up on a baking sheet and bake for 55 minutes. About half way through, remove from oven and poke the insides with a fork a few times. After 55 minutes, remove from oven and add walnuts into the "bowl" of the squash. Stir to coat with melted goodness and bake for another 5 minutes.

While it is cooling, shred a couple handfuls of mixed greens and toss with a mixture of 1 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1 Tbs. Balsamic Vinegar and 1/2 Tbs. fresh Lemon juice. 

Vegan Blueberry Muffins 
with Streusel Topping
*makes 1 dozen or 6 jumbo muffins

2 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour 
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups plain soy milk
1/4 plus 2 Tbsp. canola oil
6 oz. container plain soy yogurt
1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 cups frozen wild blueberries
2 Tbsp. flour

For streusel:
1/2 cup flour
4 Tbsp. sugar
dash of cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
4 Tbsp. Vegan margarine

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line your muffin pan with paper liners and spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, mix all your dry ingredients. In another bowl mix all the wet ingredients. Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix just until combined. In a small bowl, toss blueberries with remaining 2 Tbs. flour and fold into the batter. Fill your muffing tin.
In another small bowl, mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and margarine together with a fork, cutting margarine until it becomes a crumbly mixture. Spoon onto batter.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes if using a 12-muffin tin, 30-35 for a 6-muffin tin. Insert a knife or toothpick into a muffin to check for doneness and if necessary cook a bit longer in 4 minute increments. Let cool about 10 minutes before serving.

I'm a sucker for baked goods so you get a few pictures of these!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I love love stories!

I have a massive list of books I'd like to read in my life and only occasionally do they actually get read. This book was a more recent addition to that list. I'm not quite sure where I stumbled upon it but I am oh so glad I did! I’m a sucker for a good love story and this novel by Ann Brashares was for me, the kind you don’t put down.
It begins with Daniel, who possesses the ability to remember his past lives. He remembers as far back as 541 AD. It was then that he first saw the girl we will know as Lucy. Throughout many subsequent lives, he sees this girl and during some they fall in love. In others they never see each other at all or are very different in age, social status or location. He always lives in hope that he will find her and they will love again. It is a lovely romance that spans over many hundreds of years and Daniel’s determination and endearment is intoxicating.
I’m beginning to debate how much of the story I should tell. Perhaps I will stop here. The story does drag at times but soon enough it gets going again. I was a bit disappointed in the end, only because it seemed so abrupt. There were fewer and fewer pages and the story was in some of its most intense parts. It was almost as though Brashares ran out of time. It was the kind of ending that leaves you begging for more. And sure enough, upon further investigation I learned that there are indeed two more novels planned to complete a trilogy! I highly recommend this book and I sincerely hope the sequels will live up to it.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Oh how easy it is to get behind! This last week has been a whirlwind of school, work, family and of course lots of Vegan cooking! Oh yeah baby, still going strong! Though I have to admit, a couple recipes are definitely not worth sharing. I was having a snack attack a few days ago so we tried some carob chip cookie bar thing. It turned out awful and looked almost as bad. And for some reason, it only now occurs to me that I should have shared a glimpse or two with you. Live and learn. 
So Delicious Ice Cream is now a staple at my house.We've tried Vanilla and Chocolate/Peanut Butter and they are both tasty! 

Chocolate/Peanut Butter is my fave though! It tastes just like Peanut Butter Cups, which, with all the Halloween candy around I had definitely been craving! Speaking of Halloween candy, I am so proud of myself. Any time in the past that I would try to ignore cravings, it usually works for a while but I always end up giving in--and when I do... Watch out! And now, I didn't touch a single thing. I am truly doing something for me and succeeding! I think it has been so easy to give into cravings in the past because I'm "trying to lose weight" which is not only a very vague goal, but also not necessarily something I'm doing for the right reasons. But with this, losing weight is definitely a benefit but I'm doing it for my health, primarily and as a way to challenge myself. It is much easier to say 'No' this way. 
Something new I tried in the last week was eating out. One night was for a friend's birthday at Caffe Molise. They were very accommodating of my requests and took the time to make sure my meal was entirely vegan. I looked at the menu before I went to decide what I could eat. I went with the Gnocchi di Patate and simply requested the cream be omitted from the sauce as well as no cheese on my side salad. Simple! It was a rich and tasty chunky red sauce with fresh basil and pine nuts on top of the warm potato dumplings. So good! And for dessert, though Tiramisu is always tempting, I had a little lemon and raspberry sorbet. Delish! I would definitely recommend this restaurant and plan on going back myself.
On Sunday, my husband and I had a hankering for Mexican food and after driving around for a while only to find everything closed, we settled on La Puente. I asked for fajitas but with no meat, you know, just the veggies. The girl looked at me like I had lost my mind! NO MEAT?! What kind of maniac doesn't eat meat??? And what? No cheese or sour cream either? Ooooookaaaaay....
I got a heaping plate of beautiful and delicious sautéed red and green bell peppers and onions, rice and beans, lettuce, avocado and two fresh, warm tortillas. It was divine! They bring you this amazing hot sauce in a squeeze bottle that I'm guessing is homemade and it was icing on the cake. I am not kidding you-it was fantastic! Unfortunately our meal was cut short by a three year-old's tantrum, ahem, so we boxed it up and took it home and it was just as good as a leftover.
I have truly been surprised again and again at how easy it actually is to be vegan. Like most people, I had always assumed it would be very limited and boring and I was wrong. Especially these days, it seems so many people have food intolerances or special diets which makes a variety of products easier to find and restaurants much more willing to already offer or adapt their menus accordingly. Try it! Even for a day or two. The biggest change is that you have to think a little before you eat, which is never a bad thing. It forces me to slow down and notice what I'm eating and even appreciate it a little more.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

One like this

My three year old has a fascination with taking pictures. It doesn't matter where I hide the thing; sooner or later I'll here the mechanics of the camera and the giggle of a cheery little girl. When the pictures eventually make their way onto the computer, her snapshots are usually things like the floor, couch or bookshelf and more often than not, have a blurry little finger in half the frame. But then, every once in a while, I'm stopped in my tracks by something like this:
It may not mean much to you. But to me, this captures something important. (And not just Miss 3's other fascination of shoes!) 
You know those times when you look at your kid and wonder to yourself where the time has gone. When you beg for it to just slow down a bit, perhaps even stop for a while.
She's not going to be my little chubba forever. She's growing quick and if I don't pay better attention, I'm going to miss it. 
Oh, my baby.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Mama's Salsa

In a blender mix:
1 onion, roughly chopped
26 oz tomatoes with juice (Pomì)
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
2-8 fresh jalapeños-adjust to desired spice level 
(can also use pickled jalapeños)
salt to taste
Blend until it reaches desired consistency.


Along with leftovers galore, here are some highlights of my meals:

Ezekiel 4:9 (Low Sodium) Toast topped with Almond Butter, half a banana, a drizzle of Agave and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Tex-Mex Soup
Serves 6-8

You'll need:
2 onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded, if desired & minced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
Pomi Chopped Tomatoes2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 cup uncooked brown rice
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic powder 
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
26 oz chopped tomatoes in juice
(I recommend Pomì. Their packaging is BPA-free.)
2009_01_08-better-than-bouillon.jpg1/2 prepared salsa 
1 quart vegetable broth
1 15 oz can kidney beans, rinsed & drained 
(Eden Organic is also BPA-free.)
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 15 oz can whole corn kernels
To garnish:
Avocado slices, chopped fresh cilantro, sliced green onions.

Sauté the vegetables in olive oil on medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if desired. 
Add the spices and rice and stir about 1 minute to toast the rice. 
Stir in tomatoes, salsa, broth, beans and corn. 
Bring to a boil and reduce heat, cover and simmer about an hour. 
As always, enjoy!

The Accidental Vegan

Oh my. Is it too soon to say Mission Accomplished? Maybe. But hot damn! I think I've stumbled upon something freakin' awesome! Since Sunday I have adhered 100% to a Vegan diet. Not one single slip-- unless the barista splashed a little leche into my Soy Latté. In three days I have lost an entire pound and not felt hungry or deprived in the least bit. I told Jackson I might stay Vegan forever and not just to spite him!
In reality I probably won't cause let's face it, sometimes you just want a burger. I absolutely believe discipline is necessary to lead a healthy life but you only get one of 'em and I'm not about to miss out on the amazing variety of food this world has to offer. But in the meantime, it seems a Vegan diet is going to help me accomplish some goals that I have lost focus on, namely caring for and respecting my body. Because really, that's what this all boils down to. If you respect your body, you will nourish it. You will keep it fit. You won't want to feed your body junk if you if you truly care for it.
This is my "issue". That feeling of general inadequacy and doubt. It's cliché, but I can honestly say that I don't like looking in the mirror. It doesn't matter how many times my husband tells me I'm beautiful or how many compliments my Mother in Law gives me. In my head, I'm not enough. And nobody can change that but me. So by changing the way I care for my body I will change the way I feel about it. By putting in the effort to bring my body to a higher level of wellness and strength I will learn what I am capable of. I will learn discipline, confidence and so much more. This is why I'm here.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Sorry, apparently my photos don't care to show themselves. I'll fix it ASAP. I also failed to mention that the tofu recipe from last night looked like it could serve 4-6, maybe more, especially if you serve it with some brown rice. Have a lovely, slushy day!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Day One

I guess I should start with the yucky part. Starting weight: 147.4 It's been fluctuating between that and 150 for way longer than I'd like to think. And I'm 5'2" so that's not good. If I was brave I'd give you a snapshot of my cellulite and jiggles but I want you to keep reading so I won't scare you away just yet. Anyway, day one of veganism was not bad at all. I did all my grocery shopping and meal planning yesterday and was pleasantly surprised to find that many items I already buy are actually vegan! I had to make a couple substitutions of course but not nearly as many as I had expected. Luckily, the Mr. has been surprisingly encouraging about this experiment and was quite patient while I skimmed the ingredient list of every item that made its way into my cart. 
I suppose you're wondering... "What did you eat?" 
Breakfast was 1/2 cup Kashi 7 Whole Grain Nuggets (basically the same thing as Grape Nuts but with a variety of grains and none of the crap), cooked on the stove for a few minutes with some vanilla soy milk until it got soft. Throw in a spoonful of agave, some sliced almonds and half a banana and you, my friend, have a meal that will hold you over for hours!

Lunch was a
Boca Vegan Burger cooked on the stove then chopped up and tossed into mixed greens and topped with Annie's Goddess dressing.
So good! I've never been a fan of veggie burgers but this one actually tasted great. And okay, I snuck a couple of the Mr.'s fries from his lunch. But I made sure they were cooked in canola oil that had not been used for anything else!

Dinner was delightful and a new one for me. I was a little nervous mostly because it contains tofu and my previous ventures with tofu have not turned out so hot.
I call it Mama's Vegan Tofu Slop. *Just kidding. How about:

       Tofu and Veggies in Peanut Sauce

Take 2 packages Extra-Firm Tofu, slice open the pack and drain the liquid. Those suckers are like sponges so you're going to have to get as much liquid out as you can or you will have a very smokey kitchen. Here's a trick I learned. First slice your tofu into quarters lengthwise then slice again into about 8 sections the other way. Then get a cookie sheet and layer it with clean dishtowels or if you must, paper towels. Put each little piece of tofu on the towel and top with another towel first, then another cookie sheet. Then put something on top to weigh it down like some cans or a pie weight. Whatever you have around. Let it sit in your fridge like that for a couple of hours if you have the time or at least 20-30 minutes. 
Once you're ready to get cookin', heat a large skillet with about 3 Tbsp Canola Oil at about medium heat. Lay each piece of tofu down in the skillet (try to do this before the oil is too hot so you don't get splashed and burned) and let it cook for a while, until it starts to turn gold on one side. Try to leave it alone for the most part while you get your veggies ready but flip a couple of pieces periodically to check on their progress. When it starts to look like this: 
it's time to flip it all over.
While your tofu is browning up slice or dice a red bell pepper, about a half pound of mushrooms, 3 carrots and two onions and sauté in 2 Tbsp Olive Oil until the veggies are soft and the tofu is ready for them. Once the tofu is golden on both sides, add a can of Light Coconut Milk and a couple big spoonfuls of peanut butter and stir until PB is mixed in thoroughly. Next, add in the veggies with your tofu and season with a little salt and pepper if you'd like. 
In the same pan you used to cook the veggies add a tiny splash of olive oil and sauté head of Bok Choy that has been sliced. (Use the leaves and stem.) Once it's hot and wilted, add it to the tofu-veggie concoction and mix it up. Right after you do that, pour about 1/4 cup of water into the veggie skillet to deglaze the pan then add that water to the tofu mix. Peel and mince some fresh ginger and mix it that in as well. You don't need much, just break off a chunk about the size of two garlic cloves. Stir until it's nice and bubbly and you're done! 
***This is delish served on top of brown rice and sprinkled with fresh cilantro, lime juice, Sriracha hot sauce and if you have them, chopped peanuts. 
Just so you know:
I HATE mushrooms. Can't stand them. And Mr. hates tofu. So I compromised by adding both so we could pick out what we didn't like and everyone was happy. Definitely a "do-over."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

21-Day Vegan Quickstart

I found this free app for my iPod called 21-Day Vegan Quickstart. Veganism isn't something I've necessarily wanted to try (though vegetarianism is) but I feel like my health and wellness in general needs a jump-start, so why not? So this app is a week's worth of meals that you can then mix up as you choose for your 21 days. I don't plan on following it exactly, mainly because a lot of the recipes seem very "light" and let's face it- vegan or not, I'm a hungry Mama Bear. Flipping through my recipes I came across quite a few vegan meals that I plan to try and think will go over well with my carnivorous other half. (shhh!) I'll do my best to adhere to a vegan diet for at least 21 days and see how it goes. I'll keep track of my weight, how I feel, etc. here so keep checking on my progress. I definitely feel more accountable by publishing my goal, even just to my one (for now) reader. *wink wink*
Here goes nothin'!

Who I be.

I am, perhaps, the most indecisive person I know. Ask me something; you’ll get a different response most of the time! Some call that flaky or fickle. But the real word is unsure. As in, unsure of myself. In my head I can do great things: My garden is lovely, my house is, well, a home. I take care of my body. My daughter has a patient, creative mother. My husband has a wonderful, badass wife.
I am all these things, some of the time. I’d like to feel that when I’m not, the world won’t come crashing down. My husband loves me, I know he does. My daughter will grow up just fine and love me no matter what, cause at the end of the day, I’m still her mama. She still wants a kiss and a cuddle before bed, regardless of how many projects we did or didn’t do. 
But I’d like to be confident at the end of the day that I truly did my best and know that if I didn’t, come sunrise, I’ll have another chance.

Promising a rockstar blog:

must get creative juices flowin...