Fresh for Friday!

May 11, 2012

Its FRIDAY!  Tonight we’ll be spending some time with friends, real, live, walk on 2 legs not 4, friends!  S’mores, wine/beer, and a fire pit sound like the perfect ending to the week.

Because its Friday and I haven’t shared many pictures from our Honeymoon, I thought I’d leave you with our last meal in Toronto on Friday night.  A lot of people have asked if I was able to keep up a Vegan diet while on Vacation.  And the answer is (for the most part), yes!  Especially thanks to the lovely suggestions by Angela over at Ohsheglows, we were able to snag a seat at the super popular restaurant,Fresh!

Deeeeeeelicious Vegan food.  Even the boy couldn’t complain !  Angela warned us the place would be packed and it WAS.  We got the last 2 seats available at the time we got there, but they were perfect for people watching and enjoying the beautiful evening.  Brandon got the Thai burger

I had to try the fries – they were ah-may-zing


and I got the Buddha Bowl with Soba Noodles:

buddha / baby buddha
thai peanut sauce with marinated tofu cubes, tomato, cilantro,
cucumber, bean sprouts, chopped peanuts, herbs & spices 

I’m craving it already!  The menu is just begging to be recreated in my kitchen! :)  I kinda wish we had tried the Quinoa onion rings, but neither of us were hungry enough to order them AND our meals.

And with that, we are off to enjoy our Friday evening and weekend! Hope ya’ll do the same :)

xo

Hi all!

The countdown is seriously on for heading up north for the weekend (eek!) and then even farther north for a whole week! Brandon’s taking me on a honeymoon excursion to Niagara Falls and Toronto.  I’ve never been to either so I am SUPER excited.  One of my favorite bloggers (www.ohsheglows.com) was sweet enough to answer an email from me and gave me a few suggestions for what Vegan friendly restaurants to hit up and I’m hoping we can make it to one or two of them.  We will (of course) be checking out a baseball game while in Toronto, so I’m pretty excited about that! Other than that, I’m not sure what all we have planned, but I can’t wait to share :)

Because I’ve been in major “eat all of the perishables out of my fridge before we leave” mode, my meals have been the farthest thing from exciting (we’re talking salads, veggie burgers and reheated pizza leftover from the weekend).    My workouts have been next to non-existent with the last minute details and work stresses to be dealt with.  So figuring out what to write about has been especially difficult this past week.   So I thought I share a few posts that I read this morning that were really relevant to me.

For those of you who don’t know, for Lent I opted to follow a vegan diet, giving up dairy and eggs, to the best of my ability.  Even though there were a few hiccups, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience and even though I don’t like to label myself as a vegan, I haven’t felt any urge to indulge in cheese or eggs since Easter.  For me, its been relatively easy and Brandon hasn’t done much in the way of complaining about it either.  BUT,  there have been more than a few times that I’ve gotten questioned (in a negative, judgy way), looked at funny or just plain old ridiculed for my choices.  I’m pretty good about taking it all, to a point.  But there’s a limit to everyone’s patience, a “shove a carton of Ice cream made with coconut milk in someone’s face and demand them to try it and dare me to tell them its bad” kind of limit.   I don’t mean to be preachy and would never try to tell someone to be “Vegan” or “Vegetarian”, but I do think that respect for anyone’s lifestyle choices should be mutual.  So when I read these few blog posts about a lot of the typical questions and rumors and stereotypes of a Vegetarian/Vegan diet, I decided it would be the perfect thing to share.

I’ll start with a post a few of my friends sent to me

The Challenge of Going Vegan – This was a post that I thought could have been so much more than what it was.  Sadly, I think it fell into the same category that feeds into people’s general judgments about a Vegan diet.  In particular, I think it does less to highlight the benefits of a Vegan diet and how achievable it can be and more to scare people away from a Vegan diet.  Yes, it can be expensive if you’re using a lot of the fake meat products and not even all that healthy for you.  I’m the first to admit that Veggie burgers from the frozen section are DARN EXPENSIVE.   But a Vegetarian or Vegan diet can be pretty affordable too. ESPECIALLY if you make those veggie burgers! They’re so easy to make and the ingredients don’t HAVE to be overwhelming.  If you stick to the produce and things like beans, rice, grains that you know and already familiar with, you can try one or two new things at a time, rather than feeling like everything is new and different.   Plus, I truly believe that if you go into a Vegan or Vegetarian diet with the mindset that you have to find a suitable replacement for your steak, that you will not be happy or satisfied.  For me, the fun was finding out new flavors, rather than finding a good fake steak (I don’t think there is one, either).

Motherhood-vegan-parenting  Next up is this really well written post by a new blog I found this morning.   I really appreciated her views on raising a child vegan.  With the upcoming wedding, the idea of family inevitably comes to mind.  And of course that brings the idea of raising a child as a possible vegetarian.  This has come under small attack in random conversations, but I really liked the idea presented here that any diet can be healthy or unhealthy, including vegetarian or vegan diets.  The POINT is that we teach our kids how to make the healthiest decisions possible. Not in a restrictive sense, but in a well-balanced sense.  It also brings up a great point, that a vegetarian or vegan diet can take some effort at first, ESPECIALLY if you’re idea of cooking is throwing a Hungry Man’s frozen dinner into the microwave, or hey – even a vegan frozen meal.  You need to understand how to be healthy as a meat eater, vegetarian, vegan or ANYTHING in order for the diet to be considered good for you.

Finally, shortly after reading that article, I stumbled across this post, over at nomeatathlete, Veggie Myths , where the author takes on what a lot of vegetarians or vegans face each and every day.  The dreaded “how do you…” questions.   I think he did a great job of generally responding to some common myths about being a vegetarian.  Yes we get enough protein, no we don’t think fake meat tastes like real meat, yes we can be athletic and strong and competitive, no we don’t set up tofu shrines and pray to the all powerful soybean every night, etc etc etc.

If I can add my own two cents – and I will, I think what people tend to miss when they think about all of the things that aren’t “normal” about a vegan meal, is how fun it can be.  When I get asked about things like this, I remind them that a lot of the meals they eat everyday are vegetarian friendly already (pizza, pasta, salads, soups, etc).  What I wish, is that people who aren’t vegan or vegetarian and have no inclination to be (which is fine), would just be a tad more open minded about it all.  A vegan meal every now and then isn’t going to turn you into a vegan, but if you let go of certain preconceived ideas, it may actually surprise you by being tasty J

Anyone else have thoughts about this – similar posts to share? 

xo

 

ps – as an added bonus, I wanted to share this fun, but informative post by Alicia Silverstone over at http://www.thekindlife.com.  I’ve been on a huge kick for trying to go more eco friendly these days and these tips are a good reminder of the little things we can do :)  She also has a fun post on ways to get your kids involved too, which you can read here . I love the idea of getting the kids to help sort out the recycling and teaching them why.

The best of both worlds

January 25, 2012

Dirty little secret time.

I used to think “skipping breakfast? – no biggie”, gulp down a cup (or 4…) of coffee and last until lunch.  Breakfast was never a big part of my day.  Even when I was younger, I can probably count the number of times I remember having breakfast before heading to school.  Its pretty clear now-a-days that breakfast is pretty darn important – and once you start eating breakfast, it is HARD to stop.  And nor should you.  Ever since moving to B’more, I’ve tried especially hard to incorporate breakfast as part of my healthy lifestyle.  The trick, is getting it to be a healthy and for me, TIMELY breakfast.  I haven’t worked it to the point where I can sit down and enjoy breakfast during the week yet – especially not with working out in the AM.  I don’t feel rushed and I make sure if I can, to eat it before I walk out the door.  While cereal can be healthy, it doesn’t fill me up enough to keep me from being hungry during the day.  And that’s the thing, if I’m going to eat breakfast and get that metabolism going, I want it to keep me satisfied for a few hours at least.  Cheerios won’t cut it.  Besides, I’m an eater.  Gimme food!  Oatmeal, I find is a healthy way to keep full and start your day right! (Man, I sound like a commercial…).  However.  Oatmeal can take precious morning minutes to make – so what’s a gal to do!?!?!?  <insert dramatic pause here>

Ok, just kidding.  But seriously, I don’t have time to make a bowl of oatmeal every morning and figure out what goes in it, etc etc.  My solution?   Baked oatmeal.  Its easy to make the weekend before and keeps really well for the week.    The great thing about baked oatmeal for me, is that its kind of like stir fry – it’s a great way to experiment with flavors etc., and see what combos you like.  Not only does this help you figure out flavor combos, it’s a fun way to add variety in your diet, I think.  Although, I’m pretty guilty of keeping a few staples in the baked oatmeal, this week, I’m really happy with my oatmeal of the week concoction!

My inspiration for this week was smoothies.  I love love love the idea of smoothies in the morning, particularly GREEN smoothies.  I’ve been sitting on this recipe from http://ohsheglows.com/ for an eternity now.  I always worry about getting enough greens in my diet and am equally intrigued by the idea of having them at breakfast.  For awhile I had been thinking about using a smoothie base for my baked oatmeal, and when I saw ANOTHER recipe from http://loveeatrun.com/ that made me go “um. Duh?”.  Sometimes you just need that little nudge.  Sigh.  So with those two inspirations, I came up with a banana-kale baked oatmeal.

Drowning in Almond Milk...

And before you get all freaked out about kale in a breakfast food, hear me out.   1.  I didn’t use that much kale.  2.  The frozen banana is pretty awesomely sweet.  3.  This baked oatmeal is pretty awesomely awesome.

Banana-Kale Baked Oatmeal (adapted from Amish Heritage Cookbook recipe)

1 frozen banana

1 cup  “Kale Milk”.  (To make this, I used loveeatrun’s idea of blending the milk and kale in my food processor. I used 1% milk (saved the Almond milk for on top of the oatmeal) and a small handful of blanched frozen kale.   Fun fact, whizzing together the milk at high speeds resulted in a nice thick frothy whipped consistency. I like to think this made my oatmeal taste 10X better…

Scant 1/4 cup cooking oil (Goal is to cut this down pretty significantly by the end with applesauce)

1 tsp baking powder

Scant ½ cup brown sugar (another not necessary ingredient, with the frozen banana, but the flavor is delish!)

1 .5 cups rolled oats

Cinnamon (to taste)

1 egg

Flax seed (to…taste?  I just sprinkle a bit into the mix)

 

This is really easy to make.  Just blend together the Kale Milk and next the frozen banana (do you know the trick of putting bananas in the freezer?).  Add this to mix of dry ingredients and the egg.  Stir it up and bake at 275 until done.   This particular recipe fills up a 9×9 pyrex and I have plenty to eat for the week!

We don’t have a microwave, so I eat mine cold with a little bit lot of milk

(and a cup of coffee…) but it’d be delicious warmed up!

I’ve made this particular recipe a number of times and feel pretty comfortable in being able to cut back some of the oil and sugar and messing around with other ingredients instead.   To make it more nutritious for next time, I’m going to use more kale and combo it with spinach, so I can really amp up the greens.  I’m thinking I may add some nut butter or greek yogurt to the mix also for some added protein and keep the flax seed.  Sub out some oil with applesauce and reduce the sugar by using a frozen banana and I’ll be super happy.  Some day I’d love to try Chia seeds.  Anyone out there ever try the seeds?  Like ‘em?  Love ‘em?  Can’t stand ‘em?

Any other ideas for how to put together a “make it ahead of time” healthy breakfast?

xo

Its snack time!

January 12, 2012

On days that I get up early (ok, most days – really), its pretty unlikely that I can make it through work without a few snacks to tide me over – even though I try to keep my lunch full of fiber and protein, it would never hold me over.  I’m no expert, but I think if you’re mindful about when and how much you snack on and are sure to get have nutritious meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner – noshing throughout the day is perfectly acceptable!  Almost everyday I have at least 2 snacks with me.  Like today,

See?

Lately I’ve been loving up on this Greek style yogurt for kids, by Chobani.  It comes in some fun flavors (mine is the berry flavor, but I am keeping an eye out for that Chocolate chunk vanilla) and is a great snack portion for me at 100 calories.   To make it a little more interesting, I usually add a handful of flax flake cereal, mixed with some cocoa pebbles (if I have the box, I might as well use it up, right??).   Eventually I’d like to switch back over to regular Greek yogurt from a larger tub, to save money and cut back on the plastic cups.   It’d also be a great way to cut back the 13 grams of sugar in the kids yogurt to 7 grams.  But with as healthy as I try to eat, I’m not going to worry too much about it just yet  :)

My other snack today was a Coconut Cream Pie Lara bar.  Brandon was sweet enough to hunt down a whole BOX of these puppies for Christmas and I’m pretty sure I squealed.  These things are seriously delicious and by far my favorite of the Lara bar flavors so far. I really like that the almonds in these bars aren’t all ground up, so you can really crunch through a snack.    Sadly, these guys are definitely in the “rare treat” category, because they’re not cheap, so I try to have other snacks on hand and save these for snacking on before or after a big run.    But with only 5 ingredients, these are definitely on  my list of recipes I want to recreate.  But until then…

Here are some other snack ideas I like to rotate through:

Fresh Fruit.

Nothing beats an orange in the middle of winter and I love throwing a banana into my bag when I feel like I could use some extra Potassium.  In the summer, fresh berries are great alone or thrown into some plain yogurt.

 Almond butter and ____________

So, I have a confession.  Is everyone sitting down for this??? I don’t really like peanut butter… <insert collective gasp here>.  Its ok though, because I found a great alternative.  I’ll leave PB to Brandon, because I love me some almond butter.  I could eat this on apples, bananas, celery or carrots and be happy.

 Hummus and ___________

Ok, so this one is pretty simple.  HUMMUS is one of those “use my finger to scrape the sides of the Tupperware” type snacks for me.  I like this one a little better with carrots vs. celery personally.  Its also REALLY good with some homemade crackers.   I love the base recipe from www.ohsheglows.com and with success on my first try a few months back, I’m itchin’ for round 2!

 Oatmeal

This one is a little out there, but sometimes, a packet of good hearty oatmeal is enough to tide me over until my next meal.  Personally, I’d spend the money on a good brand of oatmeal with lots of protein and fiber and not a lot of ingredients you can’t pronounce.  Or, you could always make your own ;-)

Smoothies!

Everyone knows and loves the milkshake’s (sometimes) healthier cousin!  I love how much variety smoothies can have and they’re SUPER convenient.  Make them on a Sunday night and freeze in individual portions, nab one out of a freezer in the morning and pop it in the fridge.  Voila! Healthy, delicious snack, without laying down the bucks to buy one.  In the fall, I’m all about pumpkin smoothies mixed with some banana.  And its pretty hard to beat a PB and banana smoothie.  Yum!

And there you have it! Five of my favorite snack foods to help tide me over until dinner time (with the occasional sweet treat thrown in on days I just can’t hold out – nobody’s perfect :) ).  So tell me, what are some of your favorite ways to hold your hunger at bay until the next big meal? Do you snack, or are there some fancy tricks I don’t know about??

Ps:  congrats to Candice over at http://candicepeak.wordpress.com/ for getting an award for her blog!! (and thanks for the shout out :) )  Her posts are fun to read and are great at motivating a gal! Be dears and check her out before you go!

 

xo

Geekin’ out

November 1, 2011

What did you do this weekend?  As promised, a small sampling for you of the weekend with my parents.  Cliffnotes version:  I made crackers and served a late dinner of  delicious savory root vegetable shepherd’s pie (sorry, no pictures) and…

tried my hand at Ohsheglows amazing chocolate pumpkin pie dessert (see the recipe here http://ohsheglows.com/recipage/?recipe_id=6001732  – check out her recent cracker recipe too, serves as a great base for the crackers I made for “happy hour”).  It was simple and fun to make, amazingly delicious and best of all?  Not one person at the table knew it was Vegan!  Served again the next evening to Brandon’s mom, it still got an “oooh yum” seal of approval.  I’m almost afraid to let the secret out!    I LOVE the combo of flavors and the beautiful fall layers!

Although I love my savory Shepherd’s pie, it tends to be fairly time consuming to make.  What I would recommend, is if you’re going to make it, prep it the night prior so that way, all you have to do is mash the potatoes/celery root, throw them on top of the good stuff and into the oven it goes!  Here’s the recipe – its just too good NOT to share! http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Vegetarian-Shepherds-Pie-355994#ixzz1cVBioJF8  because I don’t think it needs it with the cremini mushrooms, I leave out the Seitan.  I’ve also found that leaving out the “fake stuff” makes vegetarian meals a little more palatable to the weak of heart :).  Do NOT skimp on the red wine reduction – this makes it SO tasty, but keep an eye on it, because it will (and HAS for me) go from “reducing” to “bitter sludge” oops.  But it gives the pie a deep purple color and rich flavor.  My other piece of advice is to definitely make an effort to add the celery root to the mashed potatoes.  It adds a unique flavor and subtle twist to the standard Shepherd’s pie topping and really helps tie the dish together, I think.  It takes a bit to throw together, but is a great dish to serve to non-vegetarian friends/family and not have them asking “where’s the meat???”.

The next morning, as I am loud and proud about being from Lancaster (no, I’m not Amish), I made some baked oatmeal with smashed bananas and raisins for breakfast.  I snuck in Almond milk to replace the regular milk in the recipe and I have to say this came out better than it would have with regular milk.

-

It got the ULTIMATE seal of approval when my dad said “now THIS I’d pay for at a restaurant”.   You couldn’t wipe the grin off my face if you tried.

I’m glad I didn’t do much cooking at the end of last week because I spent the majority of my time in the kitchen for the weekend – but it was so much fun!

If you’re wondering if I managed to keep up with my training over this busy weekend, I am proud to say I did! :)  I was really worried that after last week’s sluggish fest show my body put on, I wouldn’t be able to push through a 4 mile (gulp) run outside, but dutifully I set out my route on Friday and luckily Brandon offered to join the run on his bike.  It ended up being a beautiful sunny fall day, crisp and cool.  The run took us back through some of the neighborhoods across the street from our apartment with some beautiful houses.  I came back from the run feeling strong, happy and able to take on the world if I wanted to, but content to be satisfied with my accomplishments, and was even more surprised to see I had ran half a mile longer than planned!  There were a bunch of hills in this run (unexpected) and I definitely felt the last big one – but its really amazing what our bodies can do when we decide to do something.  Suffice to say though, I was perfectly happy to spend the remaining Sunday on the couch watching football, giving myself a manicure, reading and being under a blanket.    The cat’s were pretty tuckered too…a weekend of treats and playing with feathers and strings can wear even the best of us out…

Monday and today were pretty typical.  Had a good lifting workout last night where I upped my weights for a tough workout.   We lifted a full body circuit focusing on as many muscle groups as possible.  This means we did squats and dead lifts, worked our delts with DB flies, lateral raises, pushups, abs and obliques, triceps and biceps and the chest.  Serious lifting and my muscles were definitely fatigued, but that’s what feels the best!  This morning I pushed through wanting to stay in bed on our heated mattress pad (so.nice) and ran a tough 4 mile run with speed intervals (think warmup, 3 minutes at 6 mph, 1 minute at 7 mph, 3 minutes at 6 mph, 1 minute of 8 mph and repeat).  Knocked the 4 miles out in 39:30 and it was ROUGH.  For it being my first workout run at that distance, I’m pretty happy with it.   The intervals were definitely hard to do and by the end my body was tired and ready to be done.  But again, it allowed me to push it farther than I have before and I had a great workout in the end.  Best part about it?  It freed up my evening to come home and enjoy the chili that had been cooking in my crockpot all day, with no where to go but my couch to cuddle with my cat.  We’re watching Off Limits and right now he’s in Hawaii exploring old abandoned sugar plantation/factory bit, an old resort where people like Sinatra or Elvis stayed, Pearl Harbor, etc.  If you haven’t watched this show – do it.  Its SO interesting and you learn crazy things about the history of different cities that you don’t really get to hear about otherwise.

 

In retrospect, saying today was “pretty typical”.  I am seriously geeking out at how many new things I learned today.  Did ya’ll know why the Sciatic Nerve isn’t considered Kosher?  Neither did I.   I’ll spare you the explanation, but suffice to say – it was really interesting to learn about.  I love hearing about other religions and their traditions.   Secondly, this show blows my mind every time I watch it, for serious.

I think though, my favorite part of the day was finishing a great book i’ve been reading where I learned so much about a figure in history that has always intrigued me.  Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough is about Theodore Roosevelt.  In particular, there was an excerpt of a speech he gave in Dakota on an anniversary of July 4th.  It was a beautiful speech and almost haunting, even now.  I can’t help but think that its relevancy is stronger now than it was then.

“…Much has been given to us, and so, much will be expected of us; and we must take heed to use aright the gifts entrusted to the care…So it is peculiarly incumbent on us here today so to act throughout our lives as to leave our children a heritage, for which we will receive their blessing and not their curse …. If you fail to work in public life, as well as in private, for honest and uprightness and virture, if you condone vice because the vicious man is smart, or if you in any other way cast your weight  into the scales in favor of evil, you are just so far corrupting and making less valuable the birthright of your children…”

~Theodore Roosevelt

xo

 

 

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 129 other followers