Wednesday, August 31, 2016

I Got Mail!

As I've mentioned, I'm having a little bit of a hard time. Most days I have the feeling that I bit off more than I can chew. When I moved to Seattle all those years ago, I didn't have any responsibilities other than myself. I was free to stay at youth hostels, couch surf, whatever. But now things are different, and there is more pressure. I'm having a very hard time emotionally as well.  I have a deep sadness in me that I haven't had before. And so much guilt. I so want to go running to a loving family member, who would give some sage advice, and maybe a hug and a glass of lemonade or something. I don't know what normal families do, since I've never really experienced that. I have a loneliness that sometimes is far too overwhelming. I miss my kitties that aren't with me, and not knowing how they are is killing me. I'm fighting to keep my spirits up, but some days it feels like a losing battle.
Yesterday the sadness was almost overwhelming, and then I got a little parcel in the mail, and it was like Christmas on a sweltering, almost one hundred degree day! The parcel was from Caroline who writes the blog Tea and Sympatico. It was full of all kinds of fun stuff, all wrapped, so it really was like Christmas! It's been quite awhile since I've opened a present, so it was extra fun!
My first apron!
I love this cheerful Tshirt!
Best card ever!!!
So many goodies!
Notebooks, a planner, face masks(de-stress to boot. So needed!), pens, post cards, mints, and some of the BEST chocolate I've ever had in MY LIFE!
I am in love with these. I would marry them in a minute. The center is coconut,like really compacted coconut, and it tastes like raspberries, but not gross fake raspberry flavor, but like real raspberries. These are seriously AMAZING!!!!
The kitties got gifts too, and they were super excited! They're happy to have toys that aren't rolled up pieces of paper, Ha ha!
Etta and her yellow ball which is now yellow shreds!
Kanye and her yellow mouse. She carries it around and growls!

And Roxy who has become somewhat of a little diva!
Joan and Afro have been enjoying the new toys as well, they were just still in hiding at the time of this photo shoot! When the mailman knocked on the door, it was like run for cover for them. After all they've been through, who can blame them? But Afro has one toy in particular that she really loves. It's like a little newspaper pillow with catnip, and she carries it all around, and tries to hide it from the others!
This was so thoughtful, and really made my day. The planner that she sent says on the cover, "Always believe something wonderful is about to happen"  I really needed to be reminded of that. I never want to let life make me cynical. I want to learn and grow, but I want to always have some optimism.
Anyway, thanks Caroline, this made my day and also my kitties day!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Cheap Vegan Eats

Since I'm on a very strict budget right now, I thought I would show some cheap meals I ate over the weekend. I've of course been eating a lot of beans. Beans beat Ramen as cheap food any day of the week in my opinion. I probably told this story before, but I once worked at a preschool, and the director of the school was this very loud woman, and one day she was going on and on about how the cheap ramen is like a comfort food to her. I said she obviously has never been poor and hungry, because anyone who has had to eat those out of necessity will never call those comfort food. Just looking at those packets in the store makes me feel ill. Thankfully for us frugal vegans we know how to budget!
Black bean and corn salsa!
Avocado tacos!
I made a tasty corn and black bean salsa, with red onion, cilantro and jalapeno, and I used it to top some avocado tacos. This was a really tasty combo, and since my whole meal was only veggies, I felt so light after!
The salsa also made a nice spicy topping for a spicy "chicken" burger from Sprouts. I've been buying and using these pitas from Smith's. They're much cheaper than bread. I've been having a hard time finding wheat bread that doesn't have milk, honey, or a slew of terrifying ingredients and is budget friendly. Sorry Dave, I love your bread, it is killer but it also kills my wallet.
I also made another old friend, red lentil curry with coconut milk. The pita appeared again, this time standing in for Naan. I love curries because they're so rich and satisfying, not like a budget meal at all.
Am I in the way?
I had to take a kitty intermission. I don't have a dish rack, so I use this towel, and dry my dishes there. Well, each and every kitty has decided that it's also a great place to sleep, they can keep an eye on what I'm doing, and keep an eye on any activity going on outside of the window!
Oh, am I in the way?
The kitties kind of see the extra counter space more as extra room for them, not so much as extra space for cooking!
For dinner last night I made some pinto beans, and made them into tacos with avocado, lettuce, and the rest of the salsa. The pinto beans were soooo good, I cooked them with salt, cumin, garlic and onion powder, and a little turmeric. They were super tasty all on their own!
These meals are proof that a vegan diet is not expensive, or complicated. I have a very tight budget, and almost no kitchen equipment, but I am still eating a variety of colorful foods, none of which came with a flavor packet.
I've been hearing a lot about the new lab grown meat, or stem cell meat or whatever it's called, and I know Beast burger has a new burger that "bleeds", and then I just read this post this morning. I had never even heard of the Impossible burger until now. I have zero desire to try an Impossible burger myself, but I am very interested to see how some of these new new super realistic burgers do with non vegans. I mean, Impossible burger looks pretty dang real to me. I believe that there are those people who will never give up meat. They firmly believe that animals are meant for us to eat, and even if it became illegal to kill or eat animals, they still would. But I also believe that there are people who do care about animals and the environment, but they care about their taste buds more. So, for those people, these burgers might be a game changer. And it's a start. Maybe it will make meatless Mondays easier for some people, or it will encourage others to go two days a week without meat. And something is better than nothing at this point.

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!