Sunday, January 31, 2016

You Say Potato, I Say Pizza

I started the day yesterday with these breakfast potato tacos. Which is just a fancy way of saying that I wrapped potatoes in lettuce leaves, but either way it was delicious. I seasoned the potatoes with cumin, garlic powder, smoked paprika and cayenne. I wrapped them in leaves of butter lettuce and dipped in salsa. Butter lettuce is my absolute favorite lettuce. I love the texture of it in salads, and it is the best lettuce to use for wraps.
For lunch I had a green juice made with broccoli stems, kale, spinach, cucumber and apple. I also had a spinach salad with balsamic dressing. I didn't take a picture because I was HUNGRY and I forgot. I've been feeling a bit blue so I went for a long walk yesterday morning. It was nice because it wasn't raining. So when I got home I needed to eat. One thing about eating potatoes is that they really fill you up, but man when your body has used up that fuel you are ready to eat!
For dinner I made a mashed potato crust pizza! I just made mashed potatoes in the morning and let them chill all day. When I was ready for my pizza, I just laid a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet, and spread out the potatoes in a somewhat thin, even layer. I baked the crust alone in a 350 oven for about ten minutes, then added tomato sauce, spinach, garlic, onion and some roasted broccoli. Oh, and nutritional yeast of course. I baked this for about fifteen minutes. The potatoes firmed up quite nice.

As you can see, I was easily able to slice it, and it was almost firm enough to eat by hand, not quite but almost.  My apartment smelled like a pizza shop, and I loved it! Honestly, if I were gluten free, I would prefer a mashed potato crust over some of the gluten free crusts I've tasted.
Today is day seven of living the potato life, and other than boredom, I feel great. Yesterday I did a cardio heavy workout with lots of fast feet and burpees and I walked around two miles, and I did not feel weak or tired or anything. As a matter of fact, when I was walking yesterday I noticed that I felt a super buzz of energy, like  I used to get when I would slam a red bull. So, potatoes are definitely giving me ample fuel. I also notice that my skin has been looking super hydrated, and I'm wondering if it's from all the extra vitamin C. They say vitamin C is the beauty vitamin.
I don't feel like I'm lacking in anything, and everything is flowing smoothly in every aspect, if you know what I mean.
What will I come up with today?? Happy Sunday!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Inspired by Spuds!

The most boring Trader Joe's hauls ever!
I felt kind of embarrassed at the check stand at Trader Joe's! I felt like one of those people with the strange food addictions, and all I will eat are potatoes! Lugging around all of these potatoes are a good shoulder workout too! By the way, Trader Joe's organic potatoes are fifty cents cheaper than Grocery Outlet! Since potatoes are on the dirty dozen list, and I'm eating so many I definitely buy organic.
I also got these Scandinavian swimmers for when I'm done with the cleanse. They are basically vegan Swedish fish, but minus all the weird chemicals and dyes. I did taste one(three) so I could report on the taste. They are really delicious. Better flavor than Swedish fish. I love that Trader Joe's has vegan gummy candy, which is not always easy to find. I also got that card for myself. Sometimes I need a reminder.
So, yesterday I mentioned I was going to make another batch of the sweet potato curry soup. I did make a double batch, and I had success making coconut milk out of flaked coconut!
I used about 2 cups of coconut with 2 cups of water in the blender. I used my mesh strainer to make sure my milk was nice and smooth, and it turned out great. It added the same creaminess to my soup as the canned, and even tasted fresher. This is a huge money saver, and cuts down on waste also. This bag of coconut was under two dollars at Trader Joe's, and I have enough for one more serving of milk. So, it's like two for the price of one!
I can't wait to have more of this soup for lunch. I used one orange sweet potato, and one white sweet potato for this batch. If I ever owned a vegan restaurant, this would be on the menu for sure.
I cubed up some russet potatoes for dinner, and I tossed them in Italian seasoning, garlic powder, oregano, crushed red pepper, and lots of nutritional yeast. I wanted them to be like pizza potatoes, since I had pizza on my brain. While they were cooking, my apartment smelled like pizza! It made me crave my dinner, which is good. The nutritional yeast gets even nuttier tasting when its baked, so these were a winner. I dipped them in pizza sauce, and it was a real treat. I think these pizza potatoes would be a great party food, isn't the super bowl coming up?
I only used a bit shy of a teaspoon of olive oil on all those wedges, just to help everything stick. I don't know if I'll ever go oil free, but I have learned that you need less than you sometimes think when cooking. And also, parchment paper is a must if you cut back on the oil.
I woke up today feeling less frustrated than yesterday. The soup and the pizza potatoes really hit the spot, and I guess shook the boredom out of me! I hope to have a recipe for tomorrow. I'm going to attempt to make a mashed potato crust pizza. I know cauliflower pizza crusts have been a thing for awhile now, and there are quite a few recipes floating around for sweet potato and regular potato crusts, so I'm going to give it a go. I can hardly believe this is day six! I'm starting to understand why people commit to things, instead of flitting here and there! Who knew a potato diet could teach you so much about life!
I hope everyone has an amazing Saturday!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Boredom Has Settled In

I talked about this mask yesterday that I found on sale at Target, but I hadn't used it yet. I decided to educate myself yesterday. First off, it feels very creamy and natural, like a combination of clay and avocado. It felt very soothing putting it on my face. It has a minty, earthy smell which was also very pleasing. It felt and smelled like I was doing something good for my skin. I left the mask on for around fifteen minutes as directed, and while the mask did dry on my face, it didn't dry in that hard, face pulling, almost painful way. It rinsed off very easily with warm water, and I noticed immediately that my face looked and felt rosy and soft. Even today I reel like my skin looks more hydrated than usual. This is probably my favorite mask I've tried recently. It really does feel like the kind of mask that you would get at a posh spa. I found it at Target, and it was on sale for around six dollars, I believe the sticker said it's normally eight dollars. A little goes a long way, so I feel it's worth it.
That mask was probably far more exciting than my food for the day. I woke up today, which is the fifth day of this cleanse feeling grumpy, and bored, and frustrated. I want to keep it honest, and not pretend like this is easy. It was easy up until today. The first thought I had when I woke up was I'm over it. Time to hang up the peeler. I feel great physically, I am definitely not hungry, or feeling like I'm lacking any nutrients, it's just I am so over potatoes. I feel so mid-western and corn fed. I miss flavors, and spices and textures. Le sigh.
Not sure why this picture is so bad and fuzzy, but this was a really yummy juice I made with carrots, red pepper,orange, and turmeric root. It really hit the spot, and it tasted so sweet and fresh!
I made this chopped salad with lettuce, cucumber and cherry tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes are not good in the winter. They aren't mealy and weird like regular tomatoes, they just lack the pop of flavor with summertime cherry tomatoes. But that Tessemae's balsamic really made up for it. I think that's the best balsamic I've ever had.
For dinner I made these potato cakes with left over mashed potatoes. They were okay. They would be way more delicious when I'm not eating only potatoes.
I want to make a double batch of the sweet potato curry soup I made the other day, and I'm going to experiment a little. I have a bag of unsweetened coconut shreds in my freezer for reasons unknown. I think I was going to do something fun for the holidays, and then Scrooged out. Anyway, I'm going to blend some of the coconut with some water and make my own coconut milk! Waste not want not!
Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

It's Cruch Time

Yesterday was another potato fueled day. It is actually easier than I expected. I really thought I would be crawling out of my skin with boredom by now, but I'm keeping my tantrums at bay so far. Last night I baked some oven fries, which I also had earlier in the day, so while they were cooking I was feeling a little pouty and also mad at myself for not being more creative, but to be honest once they were done and I was eating them, they tasted good, they filled me up, and I was satisfied.
This is what I had for two meals yesterday. I also had a bowl of the sweet potato soup that was left over. The sweet potato soup is better the next day, by the way. It seems like most things with curry in them are better the next day. In the morning I had them plain, in the evening I decided to partay and dip them in some FYH ranch. I realized when I was done eating that the ranch is probably not okay because of calories/fat. But I didn't use that much, and it really was delicious!
I also made a big green juice earlier in the day with parsley, cilantro, collard greens, fresh turmeric root, and only one apple since fruit is a no no from what I understand, but I have to have a little sweetness in my green juice.
I also went and got a few more vegetables. I'm going to make a big salad with cucumber, celery, and cherry tomatoes, and it's going to be so CRUNCHY and perfect!!
I also got some butter lettuce for potato tacos, or potato wraps, and some baby broccoli. That's going to either be roasted with garlic and red pepper, or it's going to be turned into a potato broccoli soup.
I also saw this dressing I've been wanting to try for buy one get one. It's called Tessemae's and here is their website. Seems like a decent company. I plan on learning some salad dressing recipes because I really don't like buying dressings, but I am hit or miss when it comes to making my own, and sometimes I want a sure thing. Anyway, I chose balsamic and also green goddess. I'm going to be eating lots of salads in the next few days, so this sale was a great one!
I really am starting to think potatoes are the perfect food. I don't want to sound like the high carb crowd on YouTube, but I do feel like I have carbed the eff up, and I really do feel super energetic, and also a little more clear headed than normal. I don't know, it could just be that I'm buzzing with pride because I'm doing this and sticking with it, but really, does it matter? I'm buzzing with something good, and it's not beer so this is working in some way for sure. As far as a "cleanse" goes, this is so much easier to do than a juice or smoothie cleanse. I found when I did a three day juice cleanse I was OBSESSED with food, and the fact that I wasn't chewing. This is not the case here. Yes, I am slightly bored, and yes the package of tofu in my fridge is just begging me to bake it up, and just have "one" piece, but boredom is okay in small doses, and I'm fortunate to have the luxury of being bored with a food.
I wanted to show a picture of two different face masks I've recently discovered. They're both vegan and cruelty free. I'm finding that I prefer to support 100 percent vegan cosmetic companies, as opposed to companies that have little sub divisions that are cruelty free, but also lines that are not kind at all. It used to be very hard to find all vegan beauty products that weren't way out of my price range. It's getting easier and easier, and you can find some good deals if you look, or like me stumble across things accidentally!
The Andalou exfoliating peel is amazing! It;s made with kombucha and enzymes and buzzwords and all! And I found it at Grocery Outlet for like four bucks. Even Grocery Outlet has a decent selection of cruelty free lotions and potions. The Acure mask I found at Target on sale for five or six dollars, I can't remember. It's made with Argan oil and chlorella growth factor(?!) The directions tell you to "apply until you look like a green sea monster" I'm going to try it out today. Target has a pretty wide range of vegan lotions and make up, in various price ranges. I hope cruelty free beauty becomes the trend or 2016!!
I hope everyone is having an amazing week!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Soup and Yumm Sauce Save the Day!

I started out my day yesterday with a baked potato. Boring. But actually it was really tasty. I don't eat baked potatoes that often, so it reminded me to eat them more!
I wanted to tinker around in the kitchen, so for lunch I made a delicious sweet potato curry soup. I made the recipe up as I went, and to be honest when I first tasted it I couldn't believe I made it! I wrote down what I did, which is good because I will be making this again and again!
This was so creamy, a little spicy, a little sweet, and really satisfying. Not to mention it was unbelievably easy to make.
                                            Sweet Potato Coconut Curry Soup
  • 1 large sweet potato peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 large onion sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. Curry Powder
  • 3/4 tsp. Garam Masala
  • 1/4 tsp. Cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
Add all ingredients except coconut milk to a large saucepan, bring to a boil and then simmer for twenty minutes or so, until the sweet potato is soft. Turn off heat and add the coconut milk. Blend the soup until it's smooth and velvety, and simmer for about five minutes, just to let the coconut milk get super comfortable with everyone. Enjoy!
I was going to get all fancy and try to make mashed potato pancakes for dinner, but I decided I just wanted to go with mashed potatoes! It was a grey rainy day so mashed potatoes felt like a hug. I had a jar of Yumm sauce in my fridge, so I decided to use a bit as a gravy or sauce. I just used a little bit because the sauce is made with garbanzo beans and almonds with seasonings and such, so it was maybe a bit of a cheat, but it was soooooo good! I know there are recipes online for this sauce, and a blog that I used to read but sadly is no more, Peas and Thank You recreated this sauce amazingly. She has a cookbook by the same name, and I think the recipe is in there. I used to make it all the time when I lived in PA. My boyfriend at the time who is not only not a vegan, but one of the pickiest eaters I have ever met in my life loved this sauce. Anyway, it tasted great with mashed potatoes and some sliced green onion.
Here I am on day three. I feel pretty confident that I will make it the whole ten days! I was feeling a little frustrated yesterday, but making the soup really cheered me up. I was able to take my taste buds someplace spicy, and they liked it. My stomach also has been feeling very calm. I think eating the same thing is easy on the old digestive tract.
I feel like if I talked about this with a lot of  non vegans, the protein issue would be thrown around A LOT. I'm certainly not a nutritionist, so I can only speak on how I feel, which is strong and healthy. When I first started working on getting healthy, I started eating higher carbs, eventually going somewhat starch solution, and I have increased the intensity of my workouts, and I'm definitely walking a lot more in my daily life. I did a super intense cardio workout yesterday, and today I did yoga focusing on the upper body(which is tough for me) and I climbed my hill, and I felt fueled to do so. I understand we need protein, but the obsession with protein has been out of control ever since Atkins burst on the scene. Shudder. I also feel satisfied. Maybe a little bored, but certainly not hungry or deprived. And I like that there are constantly ideas for rcipes floating around in my head. It feels good to create and feel like creating. Anyway, I guess that's enough potato talk for one day!
Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

So Far So Good

It took me quite some time to get this picture of Chunk. He used to almost pose for me, and sometimes he still does, but other times he just can't be bothered. He was too busy bugging me to pull the string around my apartment. As you can see, they also like the big twist tie they put on greens.
Well, today is day two of my potato cleanse. Yesterday went really well, although my shopping bag full of potatoes was a little heavy on the way home! I kept it pretty simple for my first day, but I spent a lot of time looking up potato recipes online!
For breakfast I just made some oven fries and doused them with malt vinegar.
For lunch I made a huge salad with lettuce, red pepper, and celery. I wanted to add a tiny handful of croutons SO BAD it hurt. But I resisted.
The crunch was much needed and very appreciated.The red peppers I got at Whole Foods, and they are exceptionally sweet. I also made a delicious juice with orange, carrot, red pepper and turmeric. Of course I forgot to snap a picture of that, and it was by far the prettiest thing I ate/drank all day!
For dinner I was going to make mashed potatoes, but I changed my mind and made a hash brown/home fries kind of thing. I wanted to make it super low oil, so I started the potatoes off in a pan with a very small amount of coconut oil, and then water sauteed after that. The oil is what really helps with that super tasty crispiness that I was going for. So dinner was just okay. I have a lot to learn about water sauteing I think. I doused the finished product with hot sauce, and dipped in ketchup so of course condiments make everything better!

If I make this type of potato again, I will use more oil for sure. I'm all for low oil, but some things just need it.
Tonight I'm going to play around with mashed potato pancakes. I even saw a recipe for Samosa potato cakes, with peas and everything! I hope to come up with some fun ways to eat potatoes.
I didn't take a picture of myself, because I just didn't want to. But I took a good hard look at my trouble area, and will take a good hard look after ten days. Maybe I'll find a tape measure at a thrift store, or maybe I even have one, so I can take measurements. I'm much more comfortable with measurements than pictures or scales.
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Hot Potato

Last night for dinner I had an old favorite treat, Gardein Mandarin chick'n. It's one of my favorite gardein products. I love the sauce.
These had been lingering in my freezer for far too long. I also decided to go ahead and treat myself to a fun dinner since I am starting an adventure today. I've mentioned before that I like to watch High Carb Hannah on YouTube.  I also really enjoy Life Inside A Box, which is a daily vlog channel that she and her husband do. Anyway, they are both vegans, and as her channel name suggests they follow the starch solution and live happily as high carb low fat vegans. I've been eating a higher carb diet for over a year now and I love it. Anyway, Hannah is starting a potato cleanse, or potato island, or potato diet, however you want to label it. She is going to eat only potatoes for the next ten days. You can have some leafy greens, and low starch, low calorie vegetables like cucumbers and such, but your main calorie source is potatoes. She has a whole facebook group with the rules and people are signed up and joining the challenge.
I read some information online yesterday, including this newsletter, and I have decided to try this for ten days. Although I want to love my body no matter what, the fact is I have been eating healthy and stepping up my exercise game for quite some time now and while I feel great, and I'm sure I've lost some weight and inches, the weight in my middle (the damn beer!) is just not budging, and it is extremely frustrating. It also reminds me of a time in my life when I was so unhappy and so unhealthy. I don't do facebook, so I'm not signing up or anything like that. To be honest I don't even know if I'll make it. I am a person that needs variety in my diet, but at the same time it's only ten days, and this will encourage me to get real creative with potatoes!
My plan is to still have juice every day, and along with potatoes I will have green salads, cucumber slices, etc. I plan on using very little oil, and when I do it will be coconut. I know the facebook group has a list of rules, but I'm doing this thang my own way. I'm kind of joking, from what I understand I'm going to be doing it correctly. I love potatoes, and I always feel super full, and super satisfied after eating them, so I'm feeling pretty optimistic about this challenge. I think I might even take a picture of my mid-section today, and another in ten days to see if I notice a difference. We'll see how I feel later today, I loathe having my picture taken, so this scares me a little, so I might wimp out.
I'm going to go stock up on some spuds later this morning. I'm way more excited by the thought of a potato cleanse than a juice cleanse I can tell you that!
I'm excited to start eating more potatoes, and looking less like one!
Happy Monday!

A little update. I'm in the middle of watching Hanna's newest video, and it seems she has decided to do the potato diet for thirty days! That's so amazing, at first she was going to do ten. I'm sticking with my commitment to ten days, with a maybe on extending it.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Recipe Recipe!

I am going to make these, maybe even today. I have a half of a bag of wheat gluten that could stand to be used up. My seitan cooking skills are shaky to say the least, but this seems like a pretty fool proof recipe. I love the idea of adding blended cashews to seitan mix to make it juicy. A lot of recipes call for oil. I enjoy this YouTube channel. She has some amazing recipes, and her videos are always positive. She also doesn't do videos bashing other vegans food choices, or weight.
Yesterday I tinkered around in the kitchen and made this really tasty green chili sauce, and I also made a cashew cilantro cream. I ended up making like a Mexican lasagna using tortillas instead of noodles. I used white beans, and some leftover cooked brown rice lingering in the fridge. It was so delicious!
                                                     Tomatillo Green Chili Sauce
  • 1 lb. Tomatillos
  • 1/2 medium onion sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 small Serrano pepper (optional, leave out if you're not into too much heat.)
  • 1 4oz. can of fire roasted diced green chilis
  • S & P to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 veggie stock cube
  • 2 C. water
While you're slicing and dicing your veggies, add the veggie cube to the water and get it all heated up. Add the veg and spices to the water, bring it all to a boil and then allow to simmer for twenty to thirty minutes. You can tell when it's ready because the tomatillos break down and it starts looking real saucy! If you have an immersion blender, go ahead and use it, otherwise blend the sauce up in a regular blender.  So easy, and so tasty. I have made this sauce by first sauteing the veggies in a little oil, and I've made it this way with no sauteing and no oil, and honestly I see no reason to use oil. It doesn't affect the flavor either way. I only used the can of chilis because they were randomly in my cupboard, but I usually make this just with a fresh jalapeno or Serrano, no need for a can. I also usually add a handful of cilantro right before blending. I forgot yesterday. OOPs!
I added cilantro to the finished dish, as well as some green onion. This sauce goes really well with white beans. I have a green chili with white beans idea forming somewhere in the depths of my brain.
I like this dish because it's hearty and comforting, but it's also actually good for you. And it's yet another dish that you can make using odds and ends.
I wanted to sign of with a tweet I saw from Russell Simmons, who by the way is a longtime vegan, and recently wrote a book called The Happy Vegan and I've seen clips online of him making the rounds promoting the book, and he is representing! Anyway, I loved this tweet/quote/twote?- "A smile, even when it feels forced at first, is what gives us strength to continue our process"
Happy Sunday!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Things to Do With Stuff

I was searching for white vinegar the other day, and I saw a bottle of malt vinegar on the shelf. It reminded me of my days as a youth. At some point in my childhood we moved to a very small town. Like very small. The county fair was a big deal. I loved to ride the super loop, and I loved to get cones of these very skinny fries that still had the skin on, and we would douse them with malt vinegar and salt. Some of my friends would also use ketchup, but I always just liked the vinegar. I lived for those fries every year. So, since I eat a lot of potatoes I decided to pick up a bottle. For breakfast today I made oven fries and doused them with malt  vinegar. Of course it's not exactly the same experience, but pretty close.
Forget Wheaties, this is the breakfast of champions!!

Yesterday I was doing a bunch of different stuff, and before I knew it I needed dinner and had nothing planned, and didn't really feel like cooking. So, I decided to heat up an Amy's frozen veggie burger. As anyone who has eaten Amy's burgers knows, they're a little on the dry side. They definitely lack the juiciness of a gardein, or Beyond Meat burger. So, I baked my burger on a baking sheet, and halfway through I splashed a little liquid smoke, and some vegan worcestershire sauce on top and finished baking. The liquid smoke made it taste kind of like I had grilled it, and the worcestershire sauce gave it some juiciness. I've used this trick on many dry veggie burgers I've made myself.
It's a rainy kind of stay in the kitchen and cook kind of day so I'm going to work on a green chili tomatillo sauce. I got some beautiful tomatillos the other day so lucky me! Hopefully I'll have a recipe tomorrow.
I hope everyone is warm and safe, including animals. My heart breaks for the homeless animals in the areas that are so cold and snowy.
Happy Saturday! Or, I'm sorry I meant to say Caturday!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Waste Not Want Not

Yesterday was a very typical Seattle winter day. It rained buckets all day. Not a drizzle, but a pretty heavy rain. I needed to get some bulk beans so I decided to go to Whole Foods. Not sure what I was thinking. I have to take two buses to get there, and it's only the second time I've made the trek by bus. Anyway, it wasn't the most pleasant day for a bus adventure. I was drenched and feeling trampled on when I got home, and I wanted something warm and comforting. I also had some odds and ends around that needed to be used. I had half a can of white beans some celery that was begging to be used, and in my freezer I had two halves of some puff pastry, and also peas. I also of course had potatoes, so I decided to make a pot pie! I didn't follow a recipe, and I also unfortunately didn't write anything down because I was a little flustered. I basically just simmered celery, potato and onion in some water with a not chicken bouillon cube and some S&P, poultry seasoning and a little cumin until the potato was almost done. I turned down the heat and whisked some flour and almond milk and stirred that in. I let that simmer until it thickened, and then poured it in a dish, popped the pastry on top and baked until the pastry was nice and brown.  It turned out really tasty, and you would never guess that it came from stuff that needed to be used.
Since I know puff pastry gets it's puffiness and flakiness from some type of vegan fat, I went no fat with the filling. I didn't sautee the onions and celery first, which is what I would normally do. Nothing was missed. I've said it before, and I know I'll say it again, but some of my best meals have come from just throwing things together. Unfortunately that way of cooking is usually spontaneous and nothing gets written down.
I'm trying to be better about using everything, and trying to reduce my waste. Sometimes I forget about that half can of beans, or a half of an onion and I always feel bad. Instead of just blindly thinking about what I want to eat, I'm first taking a mental inventory of what I have floating around that needs to be used. I've been reading about a lot of people doing pantry challenge things, and I watched a few videos on YouTube of people living a zero waste lifestyle, which is A LOT of work. I would love to be there someday, but for now I'm very inspired to at least lessen my waste.
I know that the rain here in Seattle is nothing compared to the winter some places are having. It was just last winter that I was dealing with weather conditions that I hope I never see again. I hope everyone has a warm and safe Friday!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

I Heart Grocery Outlet

I got a few things at Grocery Outlet yesterday, so I have a little bit of a haul for my usual Thursday is the new Wednesday MidWeek Munchies post. If you are into superfood type of things, I suggest you get thee to Grocery Outlet. Their deals are so huge, even if you had to drive for a bit, it would be totally worth it. What I also love is it's always something different. Yesterday, at the Ballard location I shop at, They had Justin's dark chocolate peanut butter cups for $.79 cents! Of course they were sold out, they probably sold out the day they got them! I'm sure lots of people hoarded that day, I know I would have!
Yes, that is Suja juice for $2.49 a bottle! The only one they had left had honey, so I didn't get it, but they had two vegan flavors.
Yes, that is Justin's Almond butter for under five dollars! I didn't buy any because I don't care for almond butter. I know, some people might want to take my vegan card away(NEVER) but I prefer peanut butter. But I know for people who love almond butter this is THE DEAL.
That's the end of the pictures I took in the store because it was a bit busier than usual, and I am self conscience about taking too many pictures in public. But it looks like the store is stepping up it's organic produce game too. They had a whole wall full of all kinds of organic greens and lettuces, and I got a five pound bag of organic Yukon gold potatoes for $3.99!
My little mini haul. Have you ever had golden berries? I don't really buy into the superfood thing, but hey, these were a great deal. They are like a golden raisin's less sweet sibling. Maybe an acquired taste? They aren't bad, they're just interesting.
I put some of those Yukon gold potatoes to good use and made potato wedges for dinner. I've been flirting with a lower oil diet recently. I don't eat a ton of oil to begin with, but I'm working on losing my beer weight, so I'm just watching things here and there. I don't love no oil oven fries, but I wanted to use less than I normally would, so I took a teaspoon or less of coconut oil, and I rubbed it it my hand to melt it, and then I massaged my potato wedges. I was able to use less, but still get some on every wedge. I'm sure this is why people buy the oil spray, but this is just as easy, plus you get to rub the excess into your hands for some baby soft skin! This is where parchment paper comes in handy. I tried this method once with foil. and the potatoes got stuck, and foil ripped, it was a mess.

These were perfectly done! There have been a few times I've mentioned something about eating potatoes for dinner, and people seem to think you can't get full or satisfied on potatoes. I find the opposite to be true. I find them to be very filling, and I never feel deprived.
I found this sauce at the little QFC by my apartment. I want to live in a bottle of it. I rarely pay attention to bottled BBQ sauces because honey, and anchovies. But This glass bottle and label caught my eye, and it was vegan! Man, this stuff is so deeply smoky and tangy and honestly I've never tasted anything like it. It is the perfect sauce for potato wedges! Here  are the ingredients. Pretty clean! I can't say enough good things about this sauce. I might have to try to recreate it some day!
Lastly, I will leave you with this picture of Joan(named after Joan Rivers) lounging in front of the baseboard heat in my bedroom. I live in mild Seattle, so my heat is never above sixty degrees, but she loves it. She lays there all morning like she's luxuriating in front of a fireplace!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Vegan Pizza Party, Also What I Learned

When I lived in PA. I had a pizza dough recipe that was pretty tried and true. I made my own crust quite often then. But since moving back to Seattle, I have gotten spoiled by Trader Joe's pizza dough balls. I was craving pizza yesterday, so I decided to go old school and make my own dough. The problem was I couldn't find my tried and true recipe, the Post It got lost in the move. Ha. So, I searched the webz and decided to go with this one, it seemed pretty basic and easy. Best pizza crust I have ever made, hands down. I love when I lift the towel, and the dough has risen. It's such an accomplishment. I was never taught how to cook, so I have had a gazzillion disasters in the kitchen, especially with baking. Have you ever learned something, and then face palmed yourself because it's like why haven't I always known this, it's so duh!!! Well, I have those moments often, and had one last night. I think the reason why my crust turned out so great is because Duh, I broke the ball in two and made two thinner, smaller pizza instead of one. So, this crust had that crisp exterior that is always missing in my pizzas! I might have figured this out late, but man at least I figured it out! This is going to be a pizza game changer for sure.
I topped both pizzas with tomato sauce, Chao coconut and black pepper slices thinly shredded, garlic, white beans and artichoke hearts. A sprinkle of nutritional yeast and crushed red pepper right before baking. Yum. The recipe I used doesn't say how to bake, so I used a 450 degree oven, for about fifteen minutes, give or take. I don't mean to boast, but this pizza was seriously amazing. I am so having leftover pizza for breakfast!! Woot woot!
Anyone who has been reading this blog for awhile knows that I love love LOVE Chao cheese. Even now that I'm living in Seattle where there are so many more vegan cheese options, my heart still really belongs to Chao. So I always like to read/watch reviews of Chao to see what others think. One common complaint I read is that it's not the greatest at melting in the oven. What I have learned is it likes to be hugged while it's melting. It needs love and cover. So, when I use it for pizza, I put the Chao on right after the sauce, under all my veggies. It melts and adds a lovely creaminess under the veggies. I've used Chao in mac and cheeses both stove-top and oven baked, enchiladas, smothered burritos, and pizza and never had a problem.
Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Fishless Tacos! Cauliflower for Breakfast! Madness!

Being so cute makes a little guy tired!
I just had my favorite recipe of 2015, General Tso's cauliflower for breakfast. I had half of a cauliflower that needed to be used yesterday, so I decided to start my day with my favorite thing to eat at the moment. I've made it so many times, I feel like I could make it with one arm, or blindfolded, or some other handicap.
I used to really struggle with cooking brown rice. One in every five times came out right. It was so frustrating I stopped buying and cooking brown rice for a really long time. I came across a random website last winter that suggested using eight cups of water for one cup of rice. They said to boil the rice like you would pasta for thirty minutes, drain, and let steam in the pot you cooked it in with a lid for fifteen minutes, and voila fluffy brown rice. Although I was skeptical, I decided to give brown rice one more try, and guess what? This method works every time. I have not had one single fail yet.
I had some Gardein fishless filets in the freezer, so I decided to make an easy dinner last night and make fishless tacos! You know, I know gardein is processed, and obviously we wouldn't want to eat it morning, noon and night, but I was looking at the ingredients last night and they aren't THAT horrible. Like I said, they're no health food, and if you are soy, gluten and or oil free these aren't for you, but otherwise I think they are a delicious treat.
I had some shredded carrots that needed to be used, so I made a quick carrot pickle with rice vinegar, some sugar and salt. I let them mingle for a few hours and they tasted great with the cilantro, lettuce, filets and a little spicy sauce I made with Just mayo and tapatio sauce.
I wanted to give a little update on my hill walking. I am still walking the hill, and as a matter of fact most of the time I walk more than just the hill. In the beginning, I walked up and down the hill. But lately, once I get up the hill I take a side street, and than a little turn, and it just makes the walk a little longer. But I've been doing it naturally, not because I planned it. I also stopped doing it, or expecting myself to do it every day. It is rainy season here, and just for other reasons I was getting stressed out, and then beating myself up if I skipped a day or two. This hill is a good thing, not negative and I was allowing it to become a negative. So now, I just aim to do it two to three times a week. I'm enjoying it much more, and it was when I loosened up that I started going farther, and it became much easier to get motivated. I can kind of see where in the past I've allowed things to become negative because I have put too strict of rules on things. It's all or nothing, win/lose, all of that kind of stuff. It feels good to loosen up, and it feels good to catch myself. As meditation is teaching me, it is okay and I have permission to feel good, and enjoy life.
I feel like I've rambled enough, I hope everyone has a very happy Tuesday!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Musings, Falafel, and Salads

I came across a quote from the amazing Colleen Patrick Goudreau and I wanted to share it." There is no rule book for being vegan. Just let your compassion guide you" Is she the smartest or what? There are so many representations of vegan eating, and of course there is the plant based movement. I've said it before that I'm glad I didn't own a computer or have much interest in the interwebz when I went vegan. I think the transition would have been much more confusing, and even scarier. As it was, I just made the switch and educated myself on what foods were safe to eat. Needless to say I read a million and one labels back in those days. I remember being shocked at how many things had animal products in them when they weren't really needed. I pretty much ate the same as before, just no animal products. My cooking has vastly improved since then, and while I have learned a lot from the webz, I'm still glad I had that time to let my compassion guide me. Overthinking anything makes it seem impossible. I know because I've over thought my way out of lots of things in my day.
This isn't really a resolution, but I guess a hope of mine for 2016 is to be the year where judgement in the vegan community kind of fades away. There's enough going against us, we live in a McCulture, and there are so many antiquated stereotypes out there, we don't need to judge and fight each other. I don't care if you live on bananas and dates, or vegan junk food, or somewhere in between. And although I am an ethical vegan and relate to other ethical vegans, I don't care if you are vegan for the animals, or plant based for your health, or the environment. All I care about is making the world a better place for animals. Working together makes so much more sense than all of the bickering and fighting, and meanness. I really feel like there is more of an interest in veganism than ever before. People are thinking about animals, their own health, and the environments. Facts are facts, and the facts are in our favor. Hopefully 2016 is the year that we run with the momentum.
Now, I will take a sharp turn towards the food! I have been craving falafel, and I had all of the ingredients on hand, including pita bread, so I decided to make my own. I always fry my falafel not a deep fry but a shallow fry? Anyway, I decided to experiment yesterday and bake my little balls. I made them a little flatter, more like miniature burgers than round. It turned out pretty well. Baking isn't going to get that true, crunchy exterior, but the flavors were still there. I loosely followed this  recipe, but I used a little regular old flour for binding. Just a little. These were super garlic-y which I love. I served them on a warmed pita with Romaine shreds and some garlic tahini sauce and of course sriracha sauce!
I also had the tastiest salad for lunch. I added some diced celery which I never do, and it really added extra texture and that fresh taste that I love. I used Follow Your Heart's amazing Blue Cheese, because vegan blue cheese!
This also had some shredded carrot, red onion, and croutons which I never use, but randomly had some. I have to say that it's really worth the extra minute or two to add a lot of chopped veggies to your salad. It really makes it so much more than a bowl of cold lettuce. I'm guilty of just eating plain salads sometimes, and it's fine, but when there are different colors, textures and flavors it's definitely more satisfying.
I'm going to try to sleep in my bed tonight. Ever since Dylan passed, I have not even been able to be in my room for more than a few minutes, let alone sleep in my bed. I don't know how I'm going to do it to be honest. I'm able to get through majority of my day now without like crying on the bus and such, but my heart still hurts, and my apartment feels empty even though I am not alone. Dylan was my spooning buddy for seventeen years. Whether it was the couch, the floor, a bed it didn't matter, we were cuddling. I'm going to wash my bedding and try to just make my room as inviting as possible. I'll see how it goes from there. All you can do is try, right?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Mushroom Bacon Success!!

Mushroom bacon success!
I made the best vegan BLT sandwich ever yesterday with this mushroom bacon. The "bacon" turned out so good, I had to stop myself from eating it right of the pan while I was waiting for my bread to toast.
It was so hard to get an attractive picture and this is not the best, but I decided I would show it with a bite taken to show how delicious it is. I seriously could not mess around forever for a pretty picture, I needed to eat this thing.
Here's what I did!
  • 2 T. Soy Sauce
  • 1 1/2 T. Vegan Worcestershire Sauce
  • 3/4 T. Liquid Smoke
  • 1 Tsp. Agave
  • 1 Tsp. Brown Sugar
I used 2 medium Portobello Caps,but I know people make "bacon" out of shiitake mushrooms, and I'm sure button mushrooms would work too. I sliced the caps pretty thin, not quite paper thin, but pretty close. I let the mushrooms marinate for a little over an hour. To cook them, I  lined a baking sheet with parchment paper, put the mushroom slices in a single layer, drizzled with a little extra marinade, and baked in a 350 degree oven for about eighteen minutes, flipping halfway through. I could have gone longer to maybe try and get them a little crispier, but these were fine. They were a little crisp on some edges, and had a meaty texture without being meaty. I used brown sugar and agave to see if it came closer to maple syrup.  You could definitely use one or the other, just do one tablespoon. These were smoky, and salty and a little sweet. I think these were my favorite vegan faux bacon. I baked mine, but I was thinking if you sauteed these in a little coconut oil, it might add a little of that rich fattiness that people love about regular old gross bacon. I have some marinade left over, and I'm going to use it on some plain button mushrooms so maybe I'll experiment with the coconut oil then. I seriously want another of these sandwiches right now. If you wanted to make a bigger batch, there is enough marinade for at least four Portobello mushrooms. This was one of my best experiments for sure.
I also made a fun and delicious dinner. As a vegan or non vegan I have never had chili cheese fries. I don't know why, but I blame it on my eating disordered past. Anyway, I had a huge potato that needed to be used now, so I cut it into fries, and when they were done I topped them with some tomato cayenne Chao slices that I finely sliced and a can of Amy's black bean chili! Man, have I been missing out! I love that it felt like a kind of junky treat, but really was pretty healthy.
Again, not the prettiest of meals or pictures, but it sue was tasty! And speaking of delicious treats, I'm going to sign off and leave you with the delicious Chunk!
I hope everyone has a Sunday that is a comfy and cozy as Chunk is right here!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

When Inspiration Strikes

Yesterday was a dreary, rainy day here in Seattle, but instead of spending time in the kitchen, I ended up doing a deep scrub of my apartment. All those nooks and crannies that get ignored. It's winter in Seattle, so there are plenty of rainy days to come! I decided to make mushroom bacon another day, because as I was cleaning I developed a serious craving for tofu.This is one of the many reasons I am horrible with menu planning. I baked some tofu my regular way with a little coconut oil in the oven, but this time halfway through cooking I stirred in about two tablespoons of the Mapo sauce I had, and let that bake in. That was a good decision, it made the tofu nice and spicy.
I served it with some rice, and carrots, cilantro and green onions and made lettuce wraps with butter lettuce. In my humble opinion, butter lettuce is the best for wraps and raw tacos and such. The leaves are perfect little cups, and the lettuce is flexible and bendy. I love all the different textures, and the warmth of the rice and tofu with the coolness of the lettuce and vegetables. Plus, I love to dip and eat with my hands!
I made a super easy dipping sauce by mixing two tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon of agave, 1 teaspoon of sriracha, and a pinch of crushed red pepper. It was a super easy and satisfying dinner. It felt both indulgent and healthy.
I was thinking last night how funny it is when people question vegan food and feel like it must be so restrictive, but I find it to be the opposite. I feel like my food world opened after going vegan. I feel like I eat fruits and vegetables that I never ate before, and also I really started improving my own cooking skills. I don't think I ever ate lettuce wraps before, and that's too bad. I never feel bored as a vegan, and as a matter of fact I can't keep up with all of the new vegan foods on the market!
Before I sign off for the day, I want to show you a picture of some Portobello  mushrooms lounging in a pool of delicious, smoky marinade! I just took a break from this post because inspiration struck for a marinade!
If these turn out like i want them to, I will for sure post the recipe tomorrow. The marinade tasted really good, so I think it should be a success!
Happy Saturday!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Shopping, Dinner And a Movie!!

I made it to Trader Joe's yesterday to pick up the few things I didn't get yesterday. I usually love going to Trader Joe's, but I was feeling a little blue, so to be honest I just wanted to get in and out. That's how I know I've got the sads, when I want to rush my trip to Trader Joe's!
These olives are going into a dish I'm going to make today but it's so tempting to rip into the bag and eat them as is! They're yerba mate is the best price I've seen. $3.99 for twenty five tea bags!!
I'm going to experiment and make Portabella mushroom bacon. I saw a someone do it on YouTube, and at first I was going to try their recipe, and then I thought, why not make your own recipe?  Today is going to be another grey, rainy day, the best kind for experimenting in the kitchen.
After shopping I went to dinner and a movie with an old friend. We went to a restaurant in my second favorite neighborhood in Seattle, Greenwood called El Chupacabra. Here is their menu if you are interested. They are extremely vegan friendly, they have gardein mock meats and vegan cheese, so vegans and/or vegetarians can basically have anything on the menu. I am the worst at making decisions, and when I have soooo many choices it gets worse! I ended up ordering the mission style burrito, and I got it "wet". I went super simple and just went beans and rice and no vegan cheese. The delicious red sauce was all I needed. The mission burritos come in small and large, and I ordered a small, and it was still sooooo massive!
The picture is upside down or something. Sorry, I had my friend take the picture and E-mail it to me because I am still very self conscience of taking pictures in public. But seriously, that is a small burrito! It had rice and pinto beans that were so flavorful I could have eaten a big bowl. It also had sliced avocado, and pico salsa. I will definitely be going back. It was cozy and dive-y, but very clean and comfortable. Our server was super nice, the food is not expensive, as you can see you get a lot, and they clearly have love and respect for vegetarians and vegans. I felt safe and comfortable, I didn't worry that my rice had been cooked in stock, or that the beans were cooked in lard. It's just a real pleasure to go to a restaurant and feel like you can have a meal without fearing what you're eating, or feeling like you are annoying the staff. My very first job in Erie PA. was as a server at a somewhat fine dining restaurant. The owner was so horrible and abusive I still feel traumatized, but that's another story for another day. Anyway, on one of my first days I mentioned to the chef that I was a vegan. I remember he looked at me with disdain and told me I better plan on not eating at any restaurants in Erie because "Erie chefs hate vegans" I mean, what do you really say to that? What I soon learned is Erie people hate anything that could be considered "different". Anyway, back to the positive. If you live in or near Seattle, and haven't eaten here, you should eat here! And if you ever visit Seattle, look this place up! Greenwood is an amazing neighborhood with really cool shops, restaurants and people. And I definitely want to show appreciation for restaurants that respect vegans, and want to give us more than an iceberg lettuce salad with one mealy tomato slice.
I went to see the new Star Wars movie, and it was AMAZING!! I don't know all there is to know about Star Wars, and I was able to keep up and enjoy this movie. I did ask my companion a few (hundred) questions, but that's par for the course with me. Question everything!
Happy Friday!