Tuesday, December 25, 2012

New Camera!

I've been camera-less and sad about it for a while now.... but...

We got a camera for Christmas from my father-in-law!

It takes really beautiful pictures and has truer colors than any camera I've ever used. I'll take some pictures of our orange chihuahua later to show you how amazing the colors are-- seriously. And I have to make almost no changes in photoshop! I haven't tried food yet, so we'll see how that goes. I look forward to blogging more soon!

And Merry Christmas!!!! And I hope anyone who doesn't celebrate Christmas has an amazing day too!! Also, check out the snow! In Texas! On Christmas!! That almost never happens...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Brendan Brazier's 6 Stress Busting Tips for the Holidays

Monday night was great, then really great, then kinda horrible. A few days ago I signed up for a class/ q and a session with Brendan Frazier on LearnItLive. It was free, and I thought the idea of a live q and a with one of the top vegan fitness/ nutrition guys sounded pretty awesome. I didn't take good enough notes to remember what specifically his 6 stress busting tips were but I think you can listen to a recording of the session here.

What I really liked was his talking about whole foods, fewer grains (and more psuedo-grains like quinoa and amaranth), and alkaline boosting foods-- which I've been meaning to look into, and how to get your nutrient-rich foods on the cheap. So that was the great part. Then the great part-- he answered my question in the q and a section! And it was the last question answered, so it might not have happened at all. I asked about muscle soreness after working out. See, I get sore. Really, really sore. If I do like, one 15 minute workout I can't move very well for the next 4 days kind of sore. I try to make sure I eat enough protein (and when I was counting calories I would track protein specifically), eat before and after workouts, get enough iron, eat healthily, and drink enough water. First off, he said some muscle soreness is really good, especially when you're switching up your routine. I'm cool with that. He said if you are super sore day after day, even when you are doing the same types of workouts consistently that that is a problem. That's the boat I'm in.

So what was his answer? Three parts, non of which was "take a certain supplement", which I thought was pretty cool. Part one: alkaline foods. Still need to look into that, about to go do that right now. Part two: higher-quality protein, like pea and hemp. My protein powder has these but next time I order, I'll get something with a higher percentage of each. Part three: greens! This was kind of an "aha!" moment for me. I eat greens, I like them, but I wouldn't say they're a huge part of my life. I get a bag of spinach, some broccoli, and maybe something else a week. Sometimes it's spinach or broccoli. I also love kale but I haven't been feelin' it. That's gonna have to change. He said a green smoothie every day for breakfast is great and that plus other greens have chlorophyll, which is apparently great for muscles! Good to know. I'll bulk up my greens and let you guys know how my workouts go. Does anyone else have this muscle soreness issue? Did you find anything that helps?

Oh yeah, the horrible part. It got better this morning so don't worry. Remember my post about our kitties? One of them got out of the window Monday night and we couldn't find him. And he'd never been outside before (well he was born outside, but pretty quickly came in and has been a snuggle-bug-not-so-outdoorsy type since then). Anyway, We found him Tuesday morning, on the roof, just chillaxin' like nothing happened. If he wants to go outside, more power to him, but I thought he'd be scared so I was all worried. He napped all day long Tuesday, so I guess he had quite the adventure, and since he's obviously not upset, I'm fine now too.

This is him. His name is Little Prince. I call him Little or Little Kitten most of the time.

He doesn't love pictures. This is him looking all grumpy and also huge-- he only weighs about 9.5 pounds and he's usually not grumpy, so just ignore the giant grumpy cat-man in front of you, but look at his big, bold stripes on his arms and the spots on his tummy-- isn't that awesome? I think he's pretty. Or handsome. But he's a cat, so he can be pretty, right?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I've missed you! (And a weight loss post)

Image Source

First off, an apology. For anyone who reads the blog very often you'll know I haven't posted in a month-- tsk tsk on me! My camera broke, but that's really no excuse because I have a few recipes and pics backed up that I still need to blog about. Plus I could still do roundups or other things. Truth is, I've been lazy. I've also been lazy with food. Then not. Then lazy again. I haven't really written on here before about weight loss, a topic that for some people, at some times, becomes all-consuming. 

So, personal history, here goes: I was a bit chunky in 4th grade, leaned out a little in 6th, but at the time I was still at least 30 pounds heavier than all of the other girls in my class because I was taller and more developed. I felt like an Amazon woman. I never got any taller after that, and if I'd just stayed where I was weight-wise and maybe exercised a little, I would have been exactly where I wanted, but I didn't know that. Growing up I got some pretty weird messages about weight, like, if I was trying to lose weight or exercising I must hate myself, if I got below about 150 pounds I was too skinny, thin isn't womanly or healthy but overweight is, if I change my weight it must be for a man-- I couldn't possibly just want to feel better for myself, and skinny girls are skinny b****es. Not like these things were always said word for word out loud, but that was the general gist. Also, guys, I now have several very thin, very nice friends and it hurts them when people call them skinny bi***. A lot of these girls are nice and you become the bully when you call them names, even behind their backs. But I digress. So with these thoughts regarding weight in mind, I went to college, gained and lost and gained 30 pounds, got married, lost some for the wedding then gained in back plus 20, and found myself just shy of 200. That was my wake-up call.

At first, all I knew about nutrition or weight loss was what I had googled during my first real foray into dieting before the wedding. I ate 1200 calories a day and worked out everyday, sometimes more than once. Needless to say that wasn't sustainable, and when I stopped I found myself eating bowls of peanut butter and honey and drinking an ungodly amount of soda. Hence the 40 pound weight gain to my highest. I started listening to my body, eating what felt good, started tracking calories on FatSecret (which I don't love the name of, but I like the website), found some amazing veggie blogs (thank you Susan, for being my first real introduction to vegan food!), became vegetarian, then vegan, and lost 50 pounds. Then sometime last year I went crazy in regards to weight loss. I felt rebellious, and angry that I had to count and measure everything, and sad for reasons unrelated to weight loss but which made me want to basically stop eating. Then when I started to eat more I ate a lot. All the time.

I've spent the last year gaining 12 pounds and trying to get a grip on my eating and exercising. I think I've found the answer. I'm not going to count anymore. I'm not going to make exercise schedules that I have to stick to. I am going to weigh once or twice a week. I am going to really, really listen to my body. Only eat when I'm hungry or feeling low-blood-sugary, not for comfort, or distraction, or just to be social. I do eat dinner with my husband, and for other social occasions, but I'm not going to put pressure on myself to have a "dinner sized" portion. I will exercise when I feel like it. I will celebrate every victory. I've lost 4 pounds this week, it seems to be working. I don't expect to lose that much every week, but I've just started this new philosophy. It feels good. I'm excited to see how it goes.

Monday, November 5, 2012


Sam and I were in Fort Worth yesterday and I really wanted some dessert. Spiral Diner was closed so I looked around for a frozen yogurt place. They often have fruit sorbets and vegan-friendly toppings. We found Yogurtland and let me tell you, it's amazing! The only non-dairy flavor they had was strawberry lemonade, but that was okay since it's delicious! And I topped mine with pomegranate seeds, which I'd never tried before. They are crazy good - juicy, crunchy, sweet. I had a fantastic day and some pretty fantastic sorbet at the end of it. Yay!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Quick and Easy BBQ Sandwiches

 When I say "quick and easy", I'm not kidding. You might already have thought of this, but in case you haven't or you need a reminder, here it is: mix some bbq sauce (most brands are vegan) with some (drained and rinsed) canned beans, heat it if you want, and slap it on a bun. Seriously, that's it. Add some corn and mashed potatoes for a very midwestern take on "2 veg and a protein". This is one of those things that's good to make if you're cooking more than one meal for your family and don't want to be overwhelmed by more than one complicated thing at a time. It's really good, really quick, and just a comforting, nice meal.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Chickpea and Leek Soup

This yummy soup comes from Jamie Oliver. I've simplified it, veganized it, and made it several times-- that's quite a testament, because there are many things that I only make once or twice. I love the combo of butter (margarine) and olive oil and it's all just very tasty. And so quick and easy that it's perfect for these days when we're never sure if it'll be chilly or not. Without further ado... the recipe:

Makes about 8 cups
  • 1 tablespoon margarine
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  •  1 clove garlic (optional)
  • about 4 cups sliced leek (about 2 leeks)
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (I use Swanson Flavor Boost packets mixed with water bc they're cheaper and take up less room)
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
  • Prep your leeks: remove tough green parts, rinse the outsides, and slice into thin rings. Rinse very well in a colander or salad spinner. Lay on a towel to somewhat dry if using a colander, spin the thingy if using a salad spinner. This can be done a couple of days in advance if you want. Also, whatever I don't use in the soup, I freeze in baggies and it's so easy to just scoop a 1/2 cup or so out for stirfrys, pasta, or whatever you're making later.
  • Add leeks, margarine, oil, and minced garlic to a pot. Cook over medium heat until leeks are fragrant.
  • Add chickpeas and cook until slightly toasty.
  • Add veggie broth and water and bring to a boil.
  • Add nutritional yeast if you want (I think it enhances the taste).
  • Eat a bowlful, curled up on the couch-- or at a table if that's your thing.
  • Enjoy!
Per cup: cals: 155kcal | fat: 3.85g | carbs: 27.98g | prot: 7.57g

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Birthday Cake!

My birthday was last Friday and my sweet, sweet husband got me a vegan cake! He called everywhere in town, and guess what? There is not a single slice of vegan cake being sold anywhere in or near Wichita Falls, Texas. One bakery, Margie's Sweet Shop, is actually testing recipes and should have a vegan option in the next six months-- so, "yay!" for my next birthday, if we're still here then. Anyway, the only other option for purchasing a bakery cake was to get it shipped, which turns out is really expensive. Sooo... my dear, creative husband paid one of his classmates to make one! (Thank you, Jessi!) It was delicious, and made even more delicious by the fact that it was a surprise and that I didn't have to make it myself! I love cooking, but I make almost every morsel that goes in my mouth, and I love getting a break. So thank hubby, for a great day and for such a wonderful surprise!

I also got an air popper (I've been having popcorn almost every day, yum!) and a cherry pitter (I haven't had a chance to get to the store to buy cherries yet.... so that one's waiting to be used), and a target gift card (woohoo!), and various monies from parents and grandparents (thanks guys!).

On a different note, my camera died the other day. It most of the time now will only take insanely overexposed pictures, so pics on the blog for now will probably be ipod or phone quality, but I hope to get a new one at some point!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Avocado Fries

Crispy, crunchy, creamy, vegan baked avocado fries. Is this too good to be true? Nope. Dangerous? Yes. These are crazy-ridiculously good.

I've had the idea for these kicking around for awhile, but I couldn't figure out how to make the coating stick-- mustard is the perfect solution and adds great flavor (this method is also great for tofu nuggets, but more on that later).

Makes 16 fries-- with cal info for each one individually, so you can decide how many you want!
  • an avocado
  • 1/4 cup mustard-- any kind you like, I've used dijon and spicy brown
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs 
  • Slice your avocado into 16 slices-- I find if I cut it into 4's I can peel the skin off and keep the avo intact.
  • Using a fork and your fingers, coat each piece in mustard, scraping a bit off so that it's not too thick.
  • Then coat it in the breadcrumbs, patting it down to ensure good stick-age. At this point, remember to use one hand for wet (the mustard) and the other for dry (the breadcrumbs), or you'll end up with a crazy battered claw-hand.
  • Also, panko breadcrumbs are sold in the Asian or baking section, and they're lighter and crispier than regular breadcrumbs and they don't have any cheese in them, which so many breadcrumbs do.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes, flip, and bake for another 5 minutes.
  • These lose their crisp after a while, so warm up in the oven if you store them for later.
  • These are super great on their own, no dipping sauce required (for me, at least). Eat up!
Per fry: cals: 31kcal | fat: 1.71g | carbs: 2.72g | prot: 0.49g

Check out that creamy center and crispy exterior, and if you look closely, you can see the mustard sandwiched in between!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Mushroom Soup

This soup is my new go-to for a decadent-feeling treat. It's creamy, earthy, and at 49 calories per cup it's really, really low-calorie-- woohoo for that!

It's also really, really easy to make. That makes it just about the best soup ever. But don't take my word for it-- try it and let me know what you think!


  • 1/2 cup diced onion (I like to dice up a large onion when I get back from the store and just keep it in the fridge in tupperware for use throughout the week-- just don't store it in a plastic baggie or your entire fridge will smell/taste like onions)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2-3/4 pound cremini, button, or portabella mushrooms, sliced thin (about 5 cups)
  • 2 cups veggie stock (I like Swanson Flavor Boost mixed with water for a super quick, cheap stock)
  • 4 cups Original Unsweetened Almond Breeze Almond Milk (or any other plain, unflavored milk)
  • Add onions and oil to a soup pot. Turn heat to medium low.
  • Once the onion start to color just a bit and get fragrant, add the mushrooms. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  •  Turn heat up just a bit and stir occasionally until the mushrooms release their moisture. They'll get smaller and browner-- this is what you want. The pan shouldn't dry out or burn but if it gets dry, add a little water and keep going.
  • When you think your mushrooms are done, add the broth and milk and bring to a slow boil.
  • Add a bit more salt and pepper!
  • Once it starts boiling (don't let it get too fast or you'll curdle your milk-- it'll just make the appearance a little less creamy, it's not really a big deal) turn it off.
  • Transfer about 1/2 of your soup to a blender and blend away (this could take a couple of minutes).
  • Transfer it back to the pot, stir, and check and adjust your seasonings.
  • Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and some fresh cracked pepper.
  • Makes about 7 cups.
Per 1 cup: cals: 49kcal | fat: 2.82g | carbs: 5.08g | prot: 2.22g

 Also, it can be made with unprocessed ingredients if you make this with homemade veg stock and almond (or other) milk!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Kale, Chorizo, and Beans

This recipe is pretty easy, pretty yummy, and pretty well... pretty-- look at those hearty fall colors!

It makes 3 big bowls of comforting, cozy yum. I use vegetable flakes in this, but you could totally substitute a cup of veggie stock if you can't find them.

  •  1 package soy chorizo (the kind I use is by Cacique and it's only $1.08 at Walmart for 5 servings-- woohoo!)
  • 5 tightly packed cups of kale (I use the kind that comes in a big bag and just go through it to pick out the stem-y parts and wash it)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable flakes, re-hydrated in 1 cup warm water
  • 1 can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • Brown the chorizo according to the package directions in a non-stick skillet or wok.
  • Add the kale and beans and the veggie flake water.
  • Cover and simmer a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until kale is bright green and everything is warmed through.
  • Enjoy with a piece of crusty bread-- so yum!
For 1/3 recipe: cals: 306kcal | fat: 7.81g | carbs: 39.86g | prot: 22.29g

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Yogurt Review!

So I went to Whole Foods a little while ago and got some vegan yogurt. I'd only ever tried non-dairy yogurt once, so I got a couple of different ones to try. Greek Style So Delicious Chocolate, WholeSoy Lemon, and Amande Coconut. 

Sorry for the eh picture, I took it quickly and then ate the yogurt, so.... They were all pretty high in calories, but I figured, if it's good, it'll be worth it. The So Delicious was... not good in my opinion. The Greek Style-ness was weirdly thick and it didn't really taste like chocolate. The Amande was pretty good, but I didn't think it was super special. Anyway, the best by far was the WholeSoy Lemon-- it is amazing! It's creamy and lemon-y and all around great. I had it with fruit, and it's especially good with pineapple and blueberries. So seriously, if you're looking for some tangy vegan creaminess, this is the way to go. So go ahead, enjoy!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Carrot-Cake Muffins with Molasses Buttercream

Just look at these. The bits of raisin and carrot, the crystallized sugar on top, the swirl of caramel-y molasses buttercream. Wow, they're good. And perfect for ushering in the fall. Nights are starting to cool down (which for us means getting down to 80 every now and then) and bugs are making their merry little way into the house (not the best harbinger of fall). Soon, we'll be able to wear jackets and snuggle up on our couches with mugs of hot tea. Maybe it's not blazing hot where you live and you already do this. Either way, these carrot-cake muffins are delicious.

The recipe for the muffins is from Simple Vegan!, which was in a giveaway package I won from Your Vegan Mom. She even wrote about this recipe here! I think this is the first thing I've made from here, and if it's any indication of the rest of the recipes, I'll be making more! It was already pretty healthy, so I didn't feel like I needed to substitute anything. This book seems like it's filled with really simple (hence the name), relatively healthy recipes. The only negative I'd give it so far is that it's so simple in terms of vegan knowledge-- for example, in one of the asides it mentions that the only chocolate vegans can eat is some kinds of dark chocolate. No mention of all the lovely vegan products out there that are milk or white! I think this could be off-putting to old vegans who know better or new vegans who might feel more restricted than they need to. We have lots of options, new vegans!

Besides that, it looks like a really good resource and was published by the folks at Good Housekeeping, which means both that the recipes have been extensively tested by vegans and non-vegans, and that vegan eating is continuing to make it's way into the mainstream-- two very awesome things! The buttercream is my own recipe, and it is flipping delicious if I do say so myself. Which I do. Now, after all of that chatter, on to the recipes!

Carrot-Cake Muffins
makes 6

  • 1/2 cup quick oats (I think regular old-fashioned would work well too)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (recipe follows if you don't have it)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 2 T unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 1/2 T vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp molasses
  • 1 cup shredded carrot  (mine was 1 large carrot)
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 3 tsps coarse sugar (the stuff I have is from Wilton)
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  •  I almost always halve muffin and cupcake recipes, so my version makes 6. Mix all of the dry ingredients in one bowl-- from the beginning of the list through the sugar.
  • Mix wet ingredients in another bowl-- the almond milk, applesauce, vegetable oil, and molasses. The original recipe calls for brown sugar but I was out and adding the molasses here gives a brown sugar taste!
  • Mix the 2 bowls together and fold in the raisins and carrots. The optional walnuts would be lovely but I didn't have any. If you do, fold in 2 T here.
  • Fill your muffin cups (I used liners for easier portability and less cleanup!). They will be pretty darn full.
  • Top with the coarse sugar. You can use regular sugar or just omit it, but the coarse kind really gives it that bakery/coffee shop feel. And don't we all like to feel fancy, even at home?
  • Bake for about 25 minutes.
  • Eat plain, with a bit of non-dairy margarine, or with my molasses buttercream!
For one of 6: cals: 188kcal | fat: 4.61g | carbs: 34.83g | prot: 2.86g

Pumpkin Pie Spice

  • 4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 3 teaspoons ground allspice
  • I didn't have any pumpkin pie spice (you can tell I didn't plan on making these muffins, no?) but I had all of the ingredients to make it. I used this recipe and it turned out beautifully! Just put everything in a small jar and shake it up. Then it's ready to use in your muffins, plus extra for pie or oatmeal later!

 Molasses Buttercream

  • 1/4 cup of your favorite margarine
  • 1 tsp molasses
  • 1-2 cups powdered sugar
  • Beat the margarine and molasses together with an electric mixer.
  • Slowly add the sugar in, mixing after each addition, until your desired consistency is reached. Mine never got as thick as a normal buttercream-- I think the liquid in the molasses changed things up a bit, but just pop it in the fridge and it'll firm up!
  • Spread on everything and eat with a spoon (I won't judge, I did).
For 2 T. Based on using 1.5 cups sugar: cals: 115kcal | fat: 2.52g | carbs: 23.07g | prot: 0.00g

And since this post didn't have very many pictures, I'll leave you with this one. This is March, one of the kitties we rescued a few months ago. I wrote about them in this post. He's normally very reserved but he loves posing for the camera-- this is his "fierce" pose. Cracks me up every time I see it. I'll be sure to put up pics of the other two soon!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Buffalo- Style Cauliflower and Ranch!

This is one of those recipes that take a little longer than a normal  dinner (a normal dinner for me is reheat some potatoes and add some broccoli and sauce!) but is soooo worth it! I've seen this whole cauliflower "chicken" thing around for a while, starting at one of my favorite blogs, Chocolate Covered Katie. For this buffalo-style cauliflower, I used this recipe and I used the ranch (or Sanctuary Dressing) from Appetite for Reduction-- a modified version can be found here. This ranch is super good (and this from a former ranch addict), and is just the perfect hing to cool down the spicyness of the "wings". You can also use gluten free flours for the cauliflower! As always, I've modified both recipes a bit for my tastes and what I have on hand. I'm really excited to make it again when my MIL is here next week, this time with rice flour! And now for the recpies!
 Check out the awesome texture on these!

 Buffalo-Style Cauliflower
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into chunks
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon agave
  • 3 tablespoons margarine
  • 1 cup hot wing sauce
  • preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit
  • mix the flour, milk, onion powder, garlic powder, and pepper in a bowl (preferrably with a lid)
  • add about 1/2 of the cauliflower to the bowl, put the lid on and shake shake shake until all of the pieces are covered
  • take the pieces out with a fork and place on a greased baking sheet, trying not to let the pieces touch
  • repeat with the remaining pieces (I used 2 baking sheets)
  • if you don't have a bowl with a lid, just use a fork and your fingers to cover each piece, let the excess drip off, and place on the baking sheet-- this just takes a little more time
  • drizzle with the agave (this is my addiction and gives it a yummy caramelized flavor!)
  • bake for about 15-20 minutes, flipping once
  • while that's baking, melt the margarine and mix it with the wing sauce
  • when the cauliflower is done and crispy, brush on the sauce and bake for another 5-10 minutes


Tofu Ranch (Appetite for Reduction Sanctuary Dressing)

  • 15 oz. firm tofu (she uses silken, but my store doesn't carry it and this works!)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 cubes vegan bouillon
  • 3 tablespoons vegan mayo (I'm in love with Mindful Mayo!)
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1.5 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp sugar (or agave, I was out of that)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground back pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • put everything but the pepper and the dill into a blender and blend away, scraping the sides and pushing it around as needed until creamy
  • add the dill and pepper and pulse until mixed through (this leaves you with bits and pieces instead of a murky-colored dressing!)
Eat the cauliflower with the dressing and enjoy! SO yum!

    Mmm, spicy "wings" and creamy dressing

    Friday, August 24, 2012

    Mmm, Mocha Coconut

    It is the season of the Mocha Coconut Frap at Starbucks. I don't go often (a couple of times a year probably) but ever since I tried this flavor, my plan is to try to go at least once in the summer for the Mocha Coconut. I actually hadn't tried it until I went vegan, but I was looking up Starbucks vegan options last year on veggieboards.com and found that people love it! I'm not normally a mocha or coconut fan, so I was surprised it even sounded good, but I tried it and I was hooked! Just make sure to order it with soy milk, without the whip or chocolate drizzle to make it vegan!

    They have a coupe of vegan snack options too, like roasted nuts, fruit chews (yes, they're vegan!) and some crazy-good salt and pepper popcorn. So this morning I'm hanging out at Starbucks, blogging, and enjoying my Mocha Coconut Frap and popcorn!

    Sunday, August 12, 2012

    Pureed Beet Soup

    I found this recipe a long time ago on marthastewart.com and it's one that I go back to again and again. I just swapped out the chicken broth for veggie stock, lessened the onion a bit, and added more water, since I like it thinner. The result is a sweet, low-calorie soup that can be eaten hot or cold, and it's one of the only ways I'll eat beets! I'm really picky about my beets-- I really love beets in this soup and in chip form, and in green juices, but other than those, I haven't found another way for me yet-- I'd love to hear how you like your beets! This soup is especially good with simple accompaniments, like the kale and polenta in the photo-- I just cooked the kale in 1/2 tsp olive oil until it was the wilti-ness I wanted and used about 1 tsp of oil, plus salt and pepper for the polenta and just cooked that over medium high until crispy on the edges.

    Here's the recipe!

    Pureed Beet Soup
    makes 9.5 1 cup servings

    •  1 tsp olive oil
    • 1/2 large onion, diced
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 3 large beets, peeled and diced (about 7.5 cups)
    • 2-3 boullion cubes or 2-3 cups veggie stock
    • 6-9 cups water
    • Add  the oil and onions to a soup pot and saute on medium high, adding a little salt and pepper.
    • And the beets, veggie stock, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until beets are tender, about 20 minutes.
    • Blend with an immersion or regular blender, in batches if needed, making sure to vent the lid and cover with a towel to allow the heat to escape but so that it doesn't splash you with hot soup if using a regular blender.
    • Serve with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. So yummy and really healthy too!
     cals per 1 cup: 70kcal | fat: 1.93g | carbs: 11.06g | prot: 2.75g

    Look at that pretty beet-pink!

    Thursday, July 26, 2012

    Day Trippin' Vegan Style

    Sam and I go on a lot of day trips-- sometimes they are an opportunity to eat yummy vegan food that I don't normally get and sometimes they are a bit of a challenge in the food department. A couple of weekends ago we went to Fort Worth for a mini-vacation and the weekend after that we went to my cousin's wedding in Missouri. Both trips offered some really good vegan food (although I did get some strange looks sometimes). The pic at the top is a lovely little produce market on the way to Fort Worth where I found some delicious tomatoes and something I'd never tried before-- an Israeli melon. It was like a really sweet honeydew and was really yummy!

    We went to an Imax showing of Born to Be Wild at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. It's a movie following the separate stories of two amazing women who have worked with orangutans and elephants for the past several decades. They take animals orphaned by human poaching and rainforest destruction and raise them to be released into the wild. It was a fantastic movie and the Imax experience was really fun! We ate lunch outside-- this was our view of the polar bear booty right inside from our table.

    Like I said, it's sometimes difficult to find vegan food on the road-- it was a little tricky at the museum but I found a delicious-looking build-your-own nacho bar-- score! They had a veggie burger listed but the staff didn't know if it had egg or dairy in it-- I really appreciate it when they say they don't know rather than just telling me it doesn't only to find out it did by an internet search and a nasty stomach ache later! From the nacho bar I had multi-colored chips topped with black beans, salsa, pico de gallo, black olives, and lettuce. I only wish I hadn't gotten the black olives-- I love them on their own but I don't usually have them on nachos so it tasted weird to me.I also piled my little tin a bit too high and didn't finish it all. The guy who portioned out my chips thought it was pretty strange that I didn't want cheese but all of the ingredients were super fresh and I didn't even miss my normal "nacho cheese" sauce! I also had some Very Vanilla soymilk, which seemed like a treat since I usually buy mine unsweetened!


    This was my dinner from Pei Wei. We love it there and they don't have one here so we always have to go when we go into the city. I had the Honey Seared Veggies and Tofu (which doesn't actually have any honey in it) with the fried rice (just make sure to ask for the fried rice without the egg!) It's always so good and I always bring the leftovers and chopsticks for the car ride home.

    One thing I really love about going into the city is Whole Foods! So many beautiful veggies and so many products I don't have access to at home! We really got a kick out of this sign that asks "What's a-peelin to you today?"-- so cute!

    I love, love, love that all of the vegan options are clearly labelled! From the fresh food bar I got this beautiful artichoke salad with asparagus, red and yellow bell peppers, grape tomatoes, and red onion, and a delicious vinaigrette-- I wish I'd gotten more of it!

    I also got this udon noodle dish-- when I got into the car and tried it, Sam reminded me that I don't like udon noodles-- duh! I'm sure a lot of people would find it delicious, but this one really didn't do it for me.

    Also at Whole Foods, we bought a ton of organic juice that was on sale (I haven't gotten to try any of it yet because our fridge has been too full to chill it), coconut water, veggie broth cubes, pink salt (yum and so pretty!), curry powder (amazing on popcorn!), cardamom, fresh nutmeg, vegetarian beef broth that I still need to check the vegan-ness of, endive, golden beets (which just made a delicious soup, along with the broth cubes!), a HUGE avocado, some Spectrum vegan mayo-- so yummy!, and some ginger chews for my MIL. I may have left something out, I don't know! I'll be posting recipes with some of these ingredients over the next few weeks!

    Next came the trip to Missouri. Since Sam had to work, we went up there, attended a wedding and reception, and had some quality family time, all before driving back the same night (morning). About 25 hours in total. Thank goodness I wasn't driving, but I felt so bad for Sam! Especially those last 30 minutes or so seemed really difficult. At times like that I really wish I could drive, but a couple of years ago after many accidents and panic attacks, I realized that if I ever do drive again I'll need considerable work on skill and calming first. When it comes to road trips, my jobs are to pack the snacks and keep Sam entertained!

    The picture above this one is an old peanut butter jar filled with celery and carrot sticks-- this is such a good way to pack veggie sticks-- it's plenty tall enough and keeps them fresh and crispy for days! I also brought some Tribe red pepper hummus-- I really love this stuff! The baggy there has craisins, dark chocolate chips, and salted almonds-- my perfect trail mix blend!

    This picture is just to show you that we get excited by the little things-- 3 brand new, shiny, 2012 pennies-- yay!

    This is me and my little brother (Can you believe he's in high school? He's been taller than me since he was about 10 years old!) at the wedding. It was really great to see everybody-- Dad, the most amazing step-mom in the world, 4 brothers and sisters (well, 2 of each), aunts and uncles, and of course, my cousin who got married (I didn't get to see much of her though, you're always so busy on your wedding day!). I really miss everyone and I wish we could get together more often!  I don't have any more pics right now since I need to get on my family to email them to me. 

    At the reception I was a little worried about what my food options would be since, let's face it, southwest Missouri isn't the most vegan-friendly place in the world. To be honest, most of the fare was gravy-covered meatballs and tons of ranch-based dip but I was pleasantly surprised with some yummy fruits and veggies (even with no dip they were still yummy!) and chips and also some roasted potatoes, that to be honest I'm not sure what they had on them, but they seemed innocent enough and were really yummy! The fruit was so good I wasn't even sad about not getting any cake!

    Afterwords I went to Denny's and had a double portion of their fruit cup, and some black coffee-- those were some of the sweetest grapes I've ever had! It goes to show that even at totally non-vegan restaurants and events, you can usually find something to enjoy! (Note to readers though, when I'm going to a bar-b-que, I always bring something-- at the last one I went to, all I had was the black bean salad I brought and Oreos-- even the potato chips had dairy in the onion flavored coating! I really enjoyed those Oreoes though, and had way too many!) On a different note, I had black coffee at three different places over this very long day, two iced and one not, and I would rank them as such: McDonald's was not great because I wanted it iced and they only had hot black coffee so it turned out luke-warm and it was kind of bitter. Denny's gets second for being less bitter and having refills! And Dunkin Donuts get top prize for being black and iced and very smooth!

    So my advice is this: get creative, ask what's in stuff, pack snacks, and try not to mind if people think you're a little weird for only ordering fruit at a down-home breakfast place-- you might be pleasantly surprised at what you find! I hope this was informative, or at least interesting to read, and I hope all of you have some amazing road trips in your future!

    Monday, July 16, 2012

    Poppy Apple Salad in a Jar

    Sweet, creamy poppy seed dressing, smooth edamame, crispy apples, bright spinach, and toasty sunflower seeds make for an amazing (and filling) salad.

    With all of the salads-in-jars floating around the internet these days, I thought I should try it out! I made two different kinds, but only one turned out so that's the one I'll share-- it's the one on the left. Lucky for you guys, the one that did turn out was uh-maze-ing. This one also packs a whopping 13 grams of protein-- quite a bit for a salad, which makes it filling enough for a meal. Without further ado, here's the recipe!

    Poppy Apple Salad in a Jar
    serves 1

    Ingredients in order bottom to top:
    • creamy poppy seed dressing (Briana's is good, and so is Ken's lite)
    • 1/2 cup shelled edamame (the kind I get is in the frozen section-- just run under warm water in a colander to defrost)
    • 1/2 red delicious apple, diced
    • 1-2 crimini mushrooms (optional)
    • 1 T minced red onion
    • about 1 cup spinach, torn
    • 2 T roasted sunflower seeds
    • Just layer everything in order in a 32 oz. mason jar (I reuse ones that salsa and peanut butter come in).
    • Store in the fridge for up to 5 days. If making this ahead of time, you can easily make as many salad jars as you want and save in the fridge for later in the week-- just make sure the jars don't get tipped over or you'll have soggy lettuce!
    • When ready to eat, just shake it up and enjoy!

    cals: 325kcal | fat: 17.77g | carbs: 29.32g | prot: 13.09g

    Friday, July 6, 2012

    Salted Caramel Chocolate Pie

     Check out that ooey-gooey caramel layer!

    Bubbly, warm caramel

    I've already mentioned my love for Pinterest here. Ask my husband, it borders on obsession. Well this is another Pinterest find-- veganized! It by no means falls into the "low-calorie" category, so find many friends to share this with- or don't and pretend it's your birthday, whichever. The top of this pie would have looked a million times better if I had had room in my fridge to use the lid that came with the pie crust and not just covered it with foil, which stuck to the chocolate filling. The parts that weren't stuck came out shiny and smooth, just so you know.

    When I saw this on Pinterest, I knew I had to make a vegan version. I love anything caramel and anything with extra salt, and the chocolate on top and the shortbread crust just pushed it over the edge. The method of caramel-making I used is different that the original recipe, but it's one that I find easier, even without a candy thermometer. We should all thank David Lebovitz for his incredible tutorial on caramel, without which this post would have been impossible, or considerably more tricky. Once you learn this technique, there are a million things you can do with it, including making an absolutely amazing salted caramel ice cream inspired by another of Lebovitz's recipes, which I'll share with you all later. His website is incredibly inspiring, and though most of his recipe are in no way vegan, many could be adapted and there are a few that are including some sorbets and a lovely strawberry ice cream (which I haven't actually tried yet, unfortunately, and does include honey, but that can be replaced), and some of his techniques are quite useful.

    I took a shortcut with the crust for this pie and bought a pre-made one-- I can never get my cookie crusts to be anything but extremely crumbly, but if you have better luck, then definitely substitute your favorite shortbread or graham crust! So without further ado, the recipe:

    Salted Caramel Chocolate Pie
    Makes 1 pie plus just a little chocolate leftover. I did 8 slices, but really, I think thin 16ths would be perfect.

    • 1 can coconut milk, divided
    • 1.5 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 2 tablespoons maragarine
    • 1 ready-made shortbread crust
    • 1.5 tsp coarse salt
    • 1.5 cups sugar


    For the caramel: 

    Melt the sugar-- I used this tutorial as a guide, and I always use a cast-iron pan for this technique-- any heavy-bottomed, even-heating pan will work though. It always seizes up on me, but just keep stirring with a whisk and it will melt eventually.

    When it's melted, add the margarine (watch out for popping and spattering and wear long sleeves!) and whisk, then 1/4 cup coconut milk, whisking until combined, paying close attention to the edges since it will cool there first. Once combined, pour into the crust and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes-- I had to run it through the blender because it was a little lumpy, but if yours isn't just skip that step and go straight into the crust. 

     Also, feel free to just skip the pie altogether and eat the salted caramel by itself off a spoon, on ice cream, on apple pie, or in any number of other ways-- use your imagination! You could also omit the salt for a normal caramel sauce.

    To make the ganache:

    Combine the rest of the coconut milk with the chocolate and melt, either in a double boiler or in the microwave in 30 second intervals.

    Pour over the cooled caramel and chill 4 hours to overnight. I had a little extra ganache leftover and next time I won't fill the crust quite so full. This ganache is also quite good on it's own-- really simple and not too sweet. It would be perfect piped on a cake, in a tart crust of it's own, or swirled on strawberries and oatmeal.

    Note: Due to the gooey/spready/sticky nature of the caramel layer, I would recommend cutting each piece directly before serving-- the caramel stays solid for about a minute before it starts "melting".

    cals: 514kcal | fat: 24.41g | carbs: 77.74g | prot: 4.06g