Saturday, August 27, 2016

Falefel Friday and Caturday!

I saw these the other day at Natural Grocers, and even though I had already chosen my splurge, I had to get them. I've been having a major craving for falafel, and these begged me to buy them.
I reheated a few in the oven, and while they were heating I made a sriracha garlic tahini sauce and warmed a pita.
They're really tasty, and every single ingredient is actually from nature. It was a really delicious and super simple dinner. I found it interesting that potato was on the ingredient list. I would recommend these if you're craving falafel and a quick meal!
Since it's Caturday, I have some funny cat pictures! Roxy likes to drink from the toilet, which is kind of a new quirk.
Don't fall in!

I wanna hold your paw!
Sometimes I just catch them doing the cutest stuff, and I have to rush to get my camera, and hope they don't move before I can get them. Look at them, they're just like holding hands, and living life!
I hope everyone has an amazing Saturday. I'm feeling a little blue today, I did yoga this morning and I cried through almost all of it! It's super hard to breathe in and out through your nose when your sobbing! I notice that sometimes yoga forces the feelings out of me. I plan on taking a mental health day. I'm going to sit in the sun and read my book for a little while, and just try to clear my head, and feel whatever it is I need to feel so that I can hopefully feel better tomorrow. I'm also cooking some black beans to make a salsa with corn, black beans, red onion and jalapeno. Cooking in my kitchen with counter space and a window seems to cheer me up. Something I'm starting to finally learn and accept is that there is really no running from what you are feeling. Of course there are distractions but it's always there, and if you don't deal with it, it manifests itself in other unhealthy ways. It's so freaking hard to accept though, I always want to run, run, run. Sitting with yourself and your feelings isn't always easy. But here's to a happier tomorrow.
Happy Caturday!

Friday, August 26, 2016

But How Do You Get Your Protein??

Last night I made the perfect meal for all the millions of times vegans, and even vegetarians get asked the ever present protein question. I think it's probably the number one question we get asked. It never ceases to make me giggle to myself, especially when people ask me with that concerned look, like at any minute I'm going to drop dead from lack of protein. I think the Atkins diet craze really started the whole protein obsession. Even a lot of vegetarians and vegans are super obsessed with protein. It's funny, for me since going vegan I don't really worry about any single nutrient, because my diet has become so much more varied and I just feel like I'm getting what my body needs based on how I feel. I eat foods as a vegan that I probably never ate in my life before. I mean, I eat cauliflower now, granted it has to be baked in a scrumptious General Tso sauce, but I'm still eating it!
I was craving cold sesame noodles, and I had a new jar of Tahini burning a whole in my cupboard, but no pasta. Except that I had this soybean pasta that I had found in Seattle at Grocery Outlet. I was going to make my sauce and share the recipe, but I didn't have rice vinegar or sesame oil, so I totally Mcgyvered the sauce. It had tahini, garlic, a little peanut butter, sriracha, soy sauce and the rest of my Bulgogi marinade. The bulgogi sauce has sesame oil and vinegar, so it actually worked. Not very traditional, but tasty nonetheless.
I also baked some tofu, because why not?
I used this brand of pasta. They have adzuki bean pasta, edamame and I think black bean pasta too.
Atkins Approved!
The noodles are good, probably the best tasting gluten free pasta I've had. The texture is of course heavier than traditional pasta. Like Udon, but a little chewier. If I were gluten free, I would probably choose this pasta over some of the others.
For dessert, I had more of the Little Secrets dark chocolate raspberry candies. Definitely my favorite new discovery.
The colors aren't as bright as M&M's, but I like that. No funky dyes or any other toxicity. I want to get like a Costco sized supply of these. It gets easier and better to be a vegan every single day!
In other, more depressing news, the guy from the pancake house never called. I guess his "meeting" went really long, poor guy. It's so depressing because I didn't even want to work there! I genuinely don't want to serve food anymore. Even vegan food. It's just frustrating because I feel trapped in this life of demeaning, low paying soul crushing jobs. I just wish I could walk dogs and scoop poop. Anyway, I feel embarrassed for the whole pancake house debacle. Anyway, I'm trying to not let it dull my shine. I thought about marching in there, and thanking him for wasting my time, but I realized that a) I loathe confrontation and b) what would that really solve? Would it make anything better? I'm going to just let it go. I guess that's a running theme in my current life.
Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Building a Pantry and What I Ate!

Building the pantry
I started working on my pantry yesterday. I need to get more mason jars at the thrift shop for my bulk items. I've never had a kitchen pantry before, it always seemed like something real adults have. It's funny that I have all this space now, and nothing to fill it! I'm a minimalist, but even I feel like there is too much emptiness! The kitties are giving me the side eye because they like to hang out in the pantry, but there is more than enough room for dry goods and kitties!
For breakfast I blended some frozen blueberries with a container of Silk yogurt (tropical flavor) and then topped it with berry vanilla granola, and a handful of sunflower seeds. I hate to say it because I know Silk isn't the best company, but they're yogurt really is one of my favorites of all the vegan yogurts I've tried, including the much more expensive Kite Hill. It reminds me of a yogurt I loved in my pregan days. I can't remember the brand, but I know it was one that was never in my house, I had to have it at friends houses. It must have had something funky in the ingredients because I used to beg my mom to get it, and she never would. Anyway, Silk gets my vote for the best vegan yogurt.
For lunch I decided to try one of these spicy 'chicken" burgers I had found at Sprouts. They have their own line of frozen veggie burgers, and from what I saw they are all vegan! This wasn't what I was expecting. I thought it would be similar to a Boca or gardien spicy chicken, with the breading and such. These seemed like they were going for more of a ground chicken type of burger.
So seitanic!
Even though they look super seitan-y, they're made of soy protein, and gluten free. The texture wasn't as firm as other "chicken" products, but maybe it's firmer if you fry it in a sautee pan. I baked mine in the oven.
I wrapped the patty in a lettuce bun and drizzled some FYH vegan ranch on top. These aren't too spicy, but they definitely have a nice flavor. I will be trying some of their other frozen burgers for sure. They're several dollars cheaper than other brands.
For dinner I made what else! Oven fries with vegan ranch and also spicy ketchup for dipping. I coated these potatoes with lots of onion powder, turmeric, and salt and pepper.
Wish me luck today. I'm going to pound more pavement today. The guy from the pancake house said he would call me Tuesday, and he didn't. So, I called yesterday and he was "in a meeting" I can't sit and wait and see if this guy is really going to call me. I don't know why he wasted my time, but whatever. I'm very upset about this, but I can't let it get me too down. So, here's to not getting lost, and finding a better, happier, less meaty job.
Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Natural Grocers Tour and Haul!

Yesterday I meant to go to Sprouts to bulk up, but I ended up just going to Natural Grocers. It's easier for me to find, and I've been having a good couple of days, and I just wasn't in the mood to get lost again. Natural Grocer actually has a better selection of vegan items, and their produce section is a little smaller, but not by much. The only difference is they don't have bulk bins. They do sell dried beans and grains at decent prices, but I like bulk bins because you can choose how much you want to buy. I asked the girl who was working in produce if I could take some pictures. She said yes, but didn't say it with a lot of authority, so I still felt super criminal doing it! First off, they have the biggest vitamin/supplement section I've ever seen in my life!!
 These pictures aren't even half of what they have in regards to vitamins and supplements. I didn't even know all of these things existed! Are we just a pill popping nation or what? Don't get me wrong, I would rather see people taking vitamins than prescription meds, but just wow. If anyone reading this ever is looking for a vitamin/supplement and can't find it, please let me know, I have no doubt I can find it here!
This is how they have their "bulk" beans, rice, nuts and seeds. And some spices. I still want to find bulk spices for the best deal.
They sell the vegan egg right above the cruel eggs. How awesome is that?? This was the first time I've seen the vegan eggs in a store. I almost got them, but they're pretty pricey and I don''t know why, but my interest and curiosity has kind of waned, and I decided I wanted my splurge to be vegan cheese.
So many veggie burgers and other plant meat products. They also have a ton of vegan frozen meals, pizzas, burritos and such. It's really amazing.
What will they think of next??
I'm always happy to see a new to me vegan ice cream!!!
A booch lovers paradise!!

See, I told you, so many different kinds of booch! I still stuck with Kevita, because it was on sale, and also I know I like it. Some of the other kombuchas are a little too dry for my taste. I will experiment one of these days!
Now, onto my haul! I resisted lots of goodies to stay on budget! The falafel and FYH pepperjack slices were my two splurges. The cheese was a planned splurge, and the falafel was an impulse buy. I've been craving it, and found it hard to resist! I exchanged a candy i bought for the Little secrets. If you see Little Secrets near you, know that the dark chocolate and dark chocolate with raspberry are vegan, but the dark chocolate with peanut butter are not. (!!??)
FYH pepperjack slices,tofu, turmeric root, ramen, falafel(splurge) vegan ranch,booch, culinary coconut milk,Little Secrets M&Ms, and an eco friendly sponge(?)

cilantro, kale, potatoes, pinto beans, green tea, tahini,and apples

For dinner I made an old favorite. The only reason I buy cauliflower ever! General Tso's cauliflower!
I didn't have any rice vinegar, so I got inventive and added a little of the bulgogi marinade to the sauce, because it has rice vinegar. It really went well with the already sweet and salty ingredients in the sauce. I love this dish soooooooo much!!! I never thought I would enjoy cauliflower! My birth mother would be gagging right about now! We had many fights over broccoli and cauliflower!
Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Letting Go, Not Getting Lost, and Haul Time!

Even though I'm so happy to have my kitties back, I still cry everyday over the ones I lost, and what I put them through. I'm always going to feel sad, and wonder how the others are doing. And I'm definitely carrying a large amount of guilt. I'm trying to balance that sadness with gratitude for what I do have. It's definitely tricky. Anyway, yesterday I came across this yoga video, and believe it or not, it brought some genuine relief. I felt calmer, and freer after doing it. She has two mantras at the end that really touched my heart. As a matter of fact, they are both on Post-It notes on my bathroom mirror. This channel, and also Fightmaster Yoga are my two favorite yoga channels on YouTube. They both have very soothing. comforting ways about them.
Onto better news, I made it on a bus, to a store, back on a bus and home without getting lost yesterday! Woot woot, I have arrived. I was attempting another trip to Sprouts and or Natural Grocers to bulk up, but while I was on the bus I noticed a Smith's, so I went there since I needed odds and ends like condiments, aluminum foil, potato peeler that kind of stuff. Smith's here is what Fred Meyer is to Seattle. Both owned by Kroger which I remember in the Midwest. Aren't corporations weird? Anyway, the Smith's I went to is a superstore, so it was huge, and super overwhelming. I don't like superstores. Maybe I'm weird, but I do want to buy my food and my clothes at different places. I don't want to get lost looking for mustard, and end up in ladies leisurewear. But regardless, I got some staples that I needed, so it was a success.
They sell FYH dressings!!
Potato peeler, thin spaghetti. Dijon mustard, yellow mustard, tomato paste, pita, lettuce, mini watermelon,Silk yogurt, granola, and raw cashews

cauliflower, another mini watermelon, kale, green onion, bananas, avocado, lemon, refried beans, garlic, apples, and oranges oh and refried beans!
Frozen corn. Sweet Earth veggie burgers, hoisin sauce, sambal oelek. green tea,tomato sauce&paste, peanut butter and bananas
Today I'm going to Sprouts for bulk stuff to last awhile. The garbage/recycling situation is not good at my apartment. We have one dumpster, and it says right on the side Garbage and recycling both. I mean, who is separating it? I feel doubtful that anyone is. So, I am going to do my very best to use as little packaging as possible. I'm going to try and cook huge batches of beans, and freezing some so I won't be tempted to buy canned for nights when I don't have the time to cook dried beans. I know there are tons of zero waste channels on YouTuube, so I might watch a few videos to get some tips.The Sweet Earth veggie burgers were free thanks to Jennifer who writes My Blissful Journey. She had mailed me some coupons, and I meant to buy two different flavors and do a comparison, but I'm a dork and grabbed two of the same kind!!
For dinner I made an old favorite that I've been severely neglecting. This was one of my first meals I learned to make for myself as a vegan. It's as delicious as I remembered!
Garlic-y Kale and pasta!!
I just sauteed a ton of kale, and a ton of garlic, like I'm talking five, six huge cloves with some salt and pepper, and crushed red pepper while the pasta was cooking. Then toss the two together add some nutritional yeast, and you've got yourself a dinner! The whole meal cost like two dollars, and I have leftovers for days, which is good because it tastes even better the next day. And it's delicious cold, straight out of the fridge! And, it is kind of fancy, it would be called something pretentious and be severely overpriced at a restaurant! I don't know why I ever stopped making this!
For dessert, I decided to try the vegan M&Ms I found at Natural Grocers. Guys, I'm in love and obsessed. I always loved M&Ms, and I'm so happy I found these!
These things are amazing! They taste like M&M's, or at least how I remember them to taste. It was a pretty awesome day, and this was the sweetest way to end it.
3 shades of grey!
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Back in the (Kitchen) Saddle

Although Kevita is still my favorite booch, I really love this brew made by GT's. It has turmeric, carrot, and ginger, and it tastes really nice and smooth. It is a lot harder to find, I've only seen it in Whole Foods and Natural Grocers. It's definitely my favorite of all the Gt kombuchas!
Last week when I was at Sprouts, I bought a spice pack for Mexican rice. I didn't read the ingredients, because it was a spice pack. Yesterday for dinner I wanted to make quesadillas and decided to make this rice to go with. Well, thank gourd I read the ingredients before using it, because it has chicken stock or powder in it! I feel so dumb for not checking, but man when I have to start checking spices it's super annoying! I really wanted my quesadillas, and I had already cooked some black beans, so I threw some taco type spices in a pan with the rice, and hoped for the best. When the rice was done cooking, I added in some canned green chilis, and the black beans. It was really delicious, and I wish I had written down what I added!
I shoved some of this delicious mixture into a whole wheat tortilla with some Follow Your Heart smoked Gouda and made a super tasty quesadilla. I have to say that smoked Gouda was one of my favorite cheeses, and FYH did an excellent job recreating it. I can't believe how good their slices are. I still remember the first time I tried their block cheeses when I first went vegan, and said I guess I'll live a cheese-less life! Ha, I guess we all learn, grow and improve. I think I saw pepperjack slices from FYH at Natural Grocers. That might have to be my next splurge!
I don't yet gave a frying/sautee pan, so I made these in a pasta pot I picked up at the thrift store. It was a bit of a pain (literally) turning it over, but it totally worked. Just call me Macgyver!
One thing I'm definitely noticing is that I am loving being in the kitchen so much more now that I have so much more counter space and also a window. My last kitchen was so small and dark, I couldn't wait to get out of it. Now, I love fluttering around and thinking of what to cook. And I love being able to gaze out of the window when I do dishes! Isn't it funny how the small things can really make such a big difference? I see lots of stews and soups being made when the weather gets cooler!
Wish me luck today, I'm off to stock up on some pantry staples today. I want to do it today before I start my new job. I won't have as much time to be getting lost all over town! My plan is to stock up on staples like condiments and tomato paste/sauce all of that kind of stuff so that meal prepping and shopping will be easy peasy. Now that I have the space, I want to really get back into cooking and making recipes. I enjoy throwing things together and seeing what happens. Some of my favorite dishes have been just thrown together.
Hopefully I'll be back tomorrow with a fun little haul. One more time getting majorly lost might make me consider online shopping!
Happy Monday!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

So Delicious Mocha Almond Fudge Ice Cream Bars!!!

Yesterday I took somewhat of a mental health day. I didn't need anything, and I didn't need to pound the pavement, so I had a slow, lazy morning, followed by some cleaning, and just kind of doing some of the old things I used to do. I'm working on getting back into the healthy habits I was starting before all this happened. As I had mentioned, for the past month my eating habits were atrocious, and I barely worked out, and was sleeping horribly. I also was sending a lot of hate my way. And I also had a lot of added mental stress in the form of Derek. A lot of life changing stuff happened in a month, and I guess I need to process it all. So, getting back in the routine of living like healthfully is very important. Back to working out, detox baths, positive affirmations, yoga, cardio, the whole shebang. It felt good to take a day to let all of this flow in my mind organically. Everything in my life has been so hectic for this past month, and I had to make huge decisions in little time. Making speedy decisions, or decisions in general is not my strength at all! So, anyway a slow day was just what my imaginary doctor ordered!
One of the things I did was peruse Amazon for cat trees. My cats adored their cat trees, and when I was out with Rachel and Matt, they suggested Amazon for the great prices, and boy were they right! Cat trees that are easy over two hundred dollars at Petco are under one hundred dollars on Amazon! They have some that are like fifty some dollars! Woot! There is a lot of squirrel activity in the trees outside of both bedroom windows, so they will be beyond stoked!
This was yesterday morning, and four of them were crammed on the sill watching a squirrel, and kanye was losing her mind because there wasn't room for her, and she was missing out! Soon Kanye, soon!
I made some curried tofu for dinner. Chiangs, where I had my last meal in Seattle has a delicious curried tofu dish, and I kind of regretted not getting it. So, I did my best to recreate it, and I came pretty close! I just oven baked some tofu, and then stir fried some onion and garlic with curry powder, added one can of light coconut milk, and then added the tofu. Served over rice with sriracha, it was a super satisfying meal!
Cilantro makes it fresher!

Dessert is where things got really special! I finally tried one of the So Delicious Mocha Almond Fudge ice cream bars! What in the H took me so long to try these???
I found these at Sprouts, I never knew this flavor existed! They are amazing. The ice cream inside is super creamy, and it's nice and fudge-y. The chocolate shell is perfect, not too thin, and not too thick. It's rich, but not too sweet. And it's the perfect size for a treat. And the bar only has 120 calories! I have a new favorite ice cream treat! Which is good, because I have yet to see any vegan Ben&Jerry's! I'm sure it's somewhere, but I'm also sure I would get super lost trying to find it!
Kanye had been feeling left out!
I'm not the hugest fan of their vegan mac and cheese, but other than that snafu, So Delicious is always dependable. How delicious would an ice cream bar with their salted caramel cashew ice cream inside be??
If you see these, be your own best friend and try them, they are soooooo worth it!!
Happy Sunday!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

It's Caturday!

I love this picture of Joan. She looks somewhat smug, and it kind of describes how I feel! I don't feel smug, but I do feel very proud of myself. Yesterday I did what I really wanted and got a job and a bank account right next to each other. My interview went well, and the owner/manager whatever he is is going to look at the schedule over the weekend and see where he can fit me in for training, and he's calling me Monday or Tuesday. It's seriously like less than a ten minute walk from my apartment, so I won't have to worry about getting lost, dealing with the bus, or taking a taxi. Apparently since this city is super Mormon, a lot of the buses don't run on Sundays, so for that and other reasons I wanted to work close to home. I feel like I accomplished a lot in my first week here. The bank I chose is a small Utah bank, and even though I believe all banks are evil, and I resent having to use one, at least the smaller banks seem a little nicer. The last two banks I've used left super bad tastes in my mouth, and I felt dirty being a part of the whole thing. Anyway, this of course isn't my dream job, and the restaurant is super non vegan, like everything is super meaty, buttery, and just super American crap food. But it's something until I find my dream job. And the person who was texting me about the dog walking was also"talking to one other person" so they will let me know if they choose me. Fingers crossed!
I took this picture the other night after dinner. I really need to learn how to use the zoom! Anyway, there is one view of the mountains. I've taken so many pictures, but none really capture the beauty of being surrounded by these mountains. But practice makes perfect, and one day you will see a stunning picture of these mountains on this blog!

 By the time I got home, I was starving and wanted to eat like NOW, so I went super simple and heated up some refried beans and toasted some crunchy shells. I know crunchy shells are not authentic, but sometimes I crave that crunch! I topped these with shredded lettuce, cilantro, green onion, avocado and of course tapatio! This was a super cheap, and super easy dinner that tasted really fresh and delicious. I made this in less time than a frozen meal, or even ordering delivery. For the past month, my eating habits had gotten really terrible. I went over a week with barely eating anything, and then flip flopped between not eating, or eating total crap food. So, feeding my body simply has made a big difference in how I feel.
For dessert I had another chocolate covered cocomel bar. These things are life changing!
eeeeeeeeeee (this was typed by Kanye. How crazy is it that those letters kind of apply to the topic!)

This was the vanilla flavor, and I loved it so much. I think I mentioned this once before, but one time I was missing caramel so much, and so I decided to make vegan caramel, and it was not a pretty sight. Never will I ever attempt that again, so I'm so happy these exist!
Afro and Joan tearing it up on their new couch!
Happy Caturday! It feels so good to say that again!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Cats, Couches, and Interviews!!

Afro and Etta cuddles
I finally got a better picture of Etta. This is one of their favorite places to sleep. In between my bed and the wall. I wanted to push my bed against the wall, le sigh.
I got a new to me used couch yesterday, and the fam is stoked. The couch came courtesy of Rachel, who I met through my GoFundMe page, and she actually gave me the idea to move to Salt Lake! We finally met last night, she and her boyfriend Matt took me to this cool Scottish/English pub that serves vegan fish and chips! I mean how awesome is this world, you can get vegan fish and chips.They use gardein, and let me tell you those fishless filets are even better when fried!! I was enjoying the conversation so much, I forgot to take a picture!
Look at how happy Joan is!

Kanye looking for a bug!
I have an interview today at a restaurant near my apartment. I feel safest working close to home until I figure this city out. It's also next to the bank I plan on using. Super convenient since I'll have to make lots of deposits with tips and all. The restaurant is a pancake house, so not vegan and some of the grossest smells in the world are bacon and runny ass eggs, but hey a gals gotta do what a gals gotta do. I also applied for several freelance writing gigs. One is blogging for a vegan lifestyle and supplements company. I also placed an ad on Craigslist for dog walking. I definitely want/need/desire to do something so much more than serving food. But there is plenty of time to make that happen, this is just to get me through until I'm DISCOVERED! Ha ha! Also, as I've been typing this, I've gotten my first text about my dog walking ad! As goofy as it might sound, for years I've dreamed of walking dogs as my main source of income. I love walking, it's one thing I'm super good at, and I love dogs, and spending time with dogs. And, I am so sick of the type of jobs I've done all my life. I don't need to be rich, I just wish I could feel more fulfilled with my low paying work. Anyway, it feels nice to feel like things are possible again. To go from hopeless to hopeful is a really nice transition.
I found this book at a thrift store here in SLC as the locals call it(I'm getting so hip) and if you haven't read Steve Martin, you should! I read Shop Girl a few years ago, probably like five or six years ago and was blown away by how he writes about women. He has a deep understanding of the female mind that makes me want to find out how he came to know us so well. And this book is no different. The pages fly by, and I just want to read his words for the rest of my life. This was the best two dollars I've spent in my life. It feels good to be reading again.
Since the start of this post till now, I think I've gotten my first dog walking client! Woot woot! Maybe I'll end up with a dog walking empire, and I'll make the cover of Forbes magazine!
I guess sometimes in life throwing caution to the wind, moving to a whole new state, being scared shitless, getting lost a million times is just what you  need to change your life in a more positive direction. Am I starring in  my own Sandra Bullock movie? Am I a plucky survivor?
Wish me luck at my interview! And of course, Happy Friday!