Wednesday, February 29, 2012

About being a Vegan...

People respond differently to finding out I'm a vegan. People want to know why or how. I love talking about my lifestyle choices but I don't like fighting. Here are a few of my thoughts about some common statements and questions I often hear.

1. How do you work at a BBQ restaurant?
It's hard. I love the company I work for and I love supporting them. I don't support the menu but I appreciate how much other people love it.

2. Does your husband hate that?
I don't think so... You should ask him. Chris isn't a vegetarian. He loves beef jerky, thanksgiving turkey, and bacon on anything. He isn't a vegan. He loves heavy cream, eggs over easy with white toast, and buttery chocolate croissants. We make it work because we love each other. We are also honest that we secretly wish the other ate more like ourself.

3. What do you eat?
This questions kind of upsets me. I've responded poorly. One time I simply started listing all the ingredients I like to eat. The person stopped me. I eat the same things you do; without the animal product. I probably eat more things than you do because you might not like green things, or berries, or tomatoes, or avocado, or whatever. There is almost no foods I don't eat, besides foods from animals.

4. What do you miss most?
I don't. Besides the stringy hot cheese on pizza that isn't quite replicated in soy cheezes, I don't miss anything. I don't miss contributing to a corrupt food system. I don't miss benefiting from animal cruelty like factory farms. I don't miss worrying all the time that my food had "gone bad" or had salmonella in it.

5. Don't you think it's extreme?
Extreme is a relative word. A year ago I would have told you a vegan diet was extreme. When I started flirting with veganism I wanted to see if it was even possible. Now, I don't think it's extreme at all. I think it's my life and I love my life. I would encourage anyone to try it for a week and see how un-extreme it can be.

6. I couldn't be vegan because I just need more protein than that.
This is a pretty ignorant statement. Whenever someone mentions the lack of protein in my diet I tend to tune out, sorry. You don't understand nutrition if you think humans need grilled chicken breast to have protein. Same thing goes for calcium. I don't fight with people or force education on people.

7. I'm a vegetarian too! I love cheese soup, milkshakes, and pasta with cream sauces.
Vegetarian diets can be great. They can also be terrible. What you eat should ideally nourish your body first and your spirit second. If your diet is leaving your body malnourished then it's not successful. Eating foods that give you a deficiency is a poor choice, even if you don't eat meat.

10. If you have to take supplements than it's not a good diet.
That's simply not true. If the soil wasn't as raped and overworked as it is than I probably wouldn't need to supplement. A vegan diet should be able to give you every nutrient you need, unfortunately we humans have damaged our ecosystem so I fill holes that we have created with supplements.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mushroom Chard Gravy over Millet

I get inspiration for my cooking from anywhere. Restaurants, Pinterest, Instagram, Memories, Color Combinations. I use other blogs too of course!

Angela's blog is inspiring. She made this the other day: Cozy Millet Bowl with Mushroom Gravy.

A while back I was inspired to make something with millet and I bought some but then the inspiration left me and I had a bag of millet with no where to go. I also had mushrooms. Don't you love it when you already have the ingredients for a recipe you want to make?!

I altered a few things so here is my ingredient list:
  • 1 cup uncooked millet
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 package of whole white mushrooms
  • dried sage
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 1 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 3 tbsp soy creamer
  • 5 leaves red chard
  • salt and pepper
I toasted the millet in a dry pot over medium heat stirring constantly until the millet made a poping noise. Then I added 2 cups water and a pinch of salt and brought to a low boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer with the lid on for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork when it's all done.
Millet wasn't too hard to cook and it reminded me of couscous when it's done, only a little heavier.

Saute the onion and garlic, salt and olive oil together over a medium heat until they are soft and all the same color, maybe 5 minutes. Slice the mushrooms and throw those in the pot with the onion. Add sage, nutritional yeast and tamari.

After a bit, pour in the vegetable broth. I didn't have any thickeners like corn starch or potato starch so I added some soy creamer to thicken slightly. My version didn't get too thick.
Chop the chard into large bite size pieces as it will reduce in size as it cooks. Throw it in!
I gave my chard a spin in my salad spinner to dry them after I cleaned them. I love the color in chard!

Simmer it for maybe 10 min, add some pepper, and then keep heat on low until your ready to eat, which for me, was immediately.

I poured the vegetable gravy over the millet and devoured it! It's savory, warm, hearty, but still colorful and pretty.
Do you feel like sometimes "comfort foods" are dull and unappetizing?

Happy Eating!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

2nd Half Marathon!

I ran my second half marathon this morning! The Disney Princess Half Marathon.
I'm excited and happy and proud of myself.

We had to get there so early and it was freezing!

But it was totally worth it!

and now I have to go eat everything in sight!
Happy Eating!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Raw Tabouli

What do you think about this recipe?!
I love a regular Tabouli and I think cauliflower is a great raw substitute for bulgur.
Has anyone tried this?

Happy Eating!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Manatee Cafe

Isn't the last day of vacation so bittersweet?
You want to stay focused on relaxing but your mind wanders back to real life, anticipating it's arrival.

We started the day with breakfast at the Inn, that is our table by the window :) This is Chris' French Toast and my Grits.

We stopped for lunch at a tiny place called The Manatee Cafe. It was cute, clean, efficient, overall a perfect place to make a quick stop while trying to extend your vacation even though you need to get going.

I think Chris was getting tired of the paparazzi at meal time.

Chris ordered a lunch combo, half a sandwich and soup. His soup was miso and his sandwich was the Veggie Burrito #2, whole wheat tortilla with black beans, rice, cheese, sweet potato, avocado, sprouts, and salsa.

I had the Veggie Wrap with fruit. It was tofutti, hummus, mushrooms, onion, carrots, sprouts, sweet potato, avocado, salsa, and seasonal veggies in a whole wheat wrap. Look how pretty!

I'm sad that vacation eating is over but I have definitely been inspired for some copycats at home! Happy Eating!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I gave Chris kind of a mean faced warning as we sat and ate our hot dogs on our first night, I politely mentioned that he should have something a little more romantic planned for the next night, valentine's day. His face got that cute, oh crap, look but he pulled it together very well!

When I went out for my run that morning he found and chose a restaurant, made reservations, and confirmed they had vegan options! He does love me <3

This is where we ended up, Indochine. Look how romantic and cute! It was on the second floor of this cute brick building downtown jacksonville.

I love thai food. I mean, LOVE thai food. Sometimes with more local thai places it can be difficult to confirm the ingredients are vegan. The last time I tried a little old Vietnamese lady just kept repeating coconut milk as the ingredients in the curry. I was ecstatic to be able to have thai food that I was sure was actually vegan!

First Course:

Baby Mixed Greens Salad and Edamame. The house dressing on this salad was amazing, I think probably toasted sesame oil as a base. Plus, it was huge and I love huge salads.

Main Course:
I ordered the Panang Curry which was the only curry available to vegans. The waitress suggested I order it half vegetable and half tofu, which was perfect. I also got spice level 3, which was good for me. It came with jasmine rice. I wish I could make this curry sauce!

Chris had the Drunken Noodles, sauteed wide rice noodles with egg, onion, sweet peppers, basil, mushrooms, and cashews. He had his with pork and spice level 2, which was a bit much for him.

I wanted dessert so bad especially when she described this purple rice mango coconut thing! I couldn't do it, I was so full and happy that eating more would have given me that belly ache where you wish you could have stopped eating.

Chris and I will be driving through Jacksonville again in July and I am already planning to stop!
What did you do for Valentine's Day dinner?
Happy Eating!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mellow Mushroom

Chris and I splurged on a "chain" restaurant for our lunch on the second day of our trip. Mellow Mushroom. They have all different kinds of pizza, and of course, they offer vegan cheeze!

There is a mellow mushroom pretty close to our house but we don't go very often because there is another vegan resturant, Ethos, and I like their vegan pizza better.

I like Mellow Mushroom's Mega Veggie Pizza a lot though! It has red sauce, sun dried tomato, spinach, green pepper, mushroom, onion, black olives, roma tomatoes, broccoli, banana peppers, artichoke hearts, and tofu. Chris had a ricotta and meatball pie that smelled very delicious and watching his non-vegan cheese stretch and melt definitely gave me cheeze envy.

Unfortunately I had run 9 miles that morning and didn't care at all about getting a picture before I dove in and ate all the pizza I could fit in my belly.

This day also happened to be Valentine's Day and we had a late afternoon snack of strawberries, chocolate, and champagne!

Before going to the best dinner EVER! Next post... :)
Happy Eating!

What do you like on your pizza?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Alphadog Grill

I said that I'd let Chris pick dinner since he was such a trooper about the raw lunch. He picked a great one: AlphaDog Grill.
They specialize in hot dogs.
Crazy hot dogs with crazy toppings.
Meaty Cheesy toppings!

Of course my husband wouldn't leave me hungry right?
No Way!

The place was pretty empty on a monday night but our server was really energetic and helpful. He even asked about the veganism of the buns for me.

Chris ordered a beef dog with sauerkraut, chili, and cheese.
They had more than one vegan option, which is crazy. First, a vegan hot dog made of tofu. Pretty classic. Second, a carrot dog. What is a carrot dog I asked? it's a carrot marinated and steamed and served on a bun like a hot dog! GENIUS. Done.

The carrot do turned out to be very soft and a lot like a hot dog! I thought the marinade was a little lackluster but the dog all put together was fresh and warm and soft and crunchy and great!
Prices were LOW! I mean, woah Low. My delicious carrot dog with ALL the toppings I wanted was $4.25.

Dogs came with french fries, not a lot of them, an actually appropriate serving I think. They must have been double fried because they were really really crispy and delicious. Chris raved about the fries.

I can neither confirm or deny that I have a bag of carrots marinating in the fridge and hot dog buns on the counter waiting for a re-creation at home!
Happy Eating!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Present Moment Cafe

Chris and I have just gotten back from the most absolutely amazing romantic wonderful trip to Jacksonville. We bought a "Living Social Escape" a while ago for a two night trip to the Riverdale Inn. Sneak Peak of our beautiful bed and breakfast:

Traveling can be a very big challenge when you're on a limited diet, and I suppose a plant based diet is considered a limited diet. I used the websites Happy Cow and Urban Spoon to navigate my way around town. The bed and breakfast and the staff there were very friendly and flexible about my breakfast.

I cannot wait to tell you about all the amazing places we went to eat! We don't normally get to eat out at restaurants and I was more than reasonably excited. Since I'm clearly obsessed with food I'm going to space out my craziness over a few posts :)

We stopped for lunch at an organic cafe near downtown St. Augustine where we stopped on our way from Orlando to Jacksonville. They serve mostly raw or living foods as they're sometimes called. Chris, my beloved omnivore husband agreed to a living foods lunch if he could choose our dinner restaurant.

Look how pretty it was inside!

Chris was excited to find a soda that I wasn't appalled to watch him drink.

We ordered the Chef's Choice lunch although based on the check they gave us at the end, they gave us the Chef's Choice dinner even though the menu said dinner wasn't served until 5pm. I was frustrated about the price difference more on principle, the amount wasn't significant.

Moving on... The first thing that came out was our Kale Avocado Salad. It was delicious. They used cinnamon I think on the nuts, maybe in the dehydrator. They reminded me of those sweet almonds you get at a fair. Chris and I debated about the ingredients and we couldn't settle on what was in there! It was so good though!!

Our chef's choice was actually our choice, we chose 3 menu items as a sampler platter.

Choice One: The Special of the Day, a shepherds pie with portobello mushrooms and vegetables marinated in a tamari mixture with a dehydrated mashed potato on top. I'm not sure what the "gravy" is on the top. It was so umami and satisfying. The dehydrated potatoes were more like a cracker but I didn't mind at all.

Choice Two: Tacos of Life, a scoop of pine nut-chili and walnut puree, fresh salsa, and guacamole in a romaine shell topped with sour cream and jalapeno vinaigrette. These were fresh and delicious. There was too much cilantro in the guacamole for Chris but I love cilantro and Chris hates it.

Choice Three: Maki Sushi Roll, seasoned parsnip "rice", avocado, and vegetables rolled in a nori sheet served with wasabi and tamari sauce. This was a secret mission to try someone else's sushi since we love the sushi we make at home. We both loved it and were very satisfied with it. I had to give Chris the last maki roll for half a taco of life that he didn't like.

So you may not be able to go to this restaurant but use their dishes for inspiration and make them at your own house!
Stay tuned for the rest of our eating out excitement.
Happy Eating!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Japanese Feast

Chris and I really really love making sushi at home. It's not as difficult as it sounds and once you get the hang of the rolling, you can get super creative! Our favorite creation this last time was our "green roll" which was cucumber, avocado, and wasabi. We sometimes use rice and sometimes we don't.

Chris is our expert sushi roller so I do all the prep cooking like cutting up vegetables. This last time I decided to make it a full meal and make miso soup and seaweed salad! Talk about a Japanese Feast!

Seaweed Salad:

Soak the dried wakame in cold water according to the package and then rinse throughly. I didn't really dry mine but I think next time I might give it a spin in the salad spinner to dry it slightly.

Whisk up some dressing: Sesame Oil, Tamari, Ginger, and Agave. You could add rice vinegar or mirin if you wanted. It's pretty flexible.

I added some chopped roasted red pepper and sesame seeds.

Combine it all together and let it sit while you make the rest of the items, the longer it sits the more flavorful it will be.

Miso Soup:

I didn't have any stock so I mixed water with a vegan bouillon. You could of course use stock.
Bring it to a simmer.

Add 3 peeled carrots sliced on a diagonal and simmer 5-10 min. Add 3-4 tbsp Wakame and 3 green onions sliced on a diagonal.
Chop about 1/4 block of firm tofu into cubes and add to the stock pot.

Spoon out some of the hot broth and put into a bowl. Add 3-4 tbsp white miso to the small bowl with the broth and stir until the miso is melted. You don't want the miso to ever get to a boil. Once you add the miso back into the pot keep the heat on low so it's warm but not simmering.

Here is our pretty table setting with our soup and salad! I was so proud of my contribution!

Happy Eating!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Ravioli is delicious. It's normally not vegan, as it's filled with cheese.
This ravioli is not filled with cheese and it's not full of gluten. It's raw! Hence the fun name: Rawvioli!
  • Step One: Slice the zucchini

We bought a mandolin but I think we bought a retarded one because I can't work it. It has a safety hatch thing on it and I can't manage to slice anything but my finger.

Forget that thing! I used my food processor to slice the zucchini. I am loving that slicing shredding attachment! The slice should be very thin.

  • Step Two: Prepare the cashew-cheeze filling.
Soak the cashews for 30 min to an hour. Then drain them of their soaking liquid and add them to the food processor. Add the other ingredients:

Nutritional Yeast, maybe 1/2-1/3 cup. 1-2 tbsp Lemon Juice. 10 leaves Fresh Basil. 1 clove Garlic. Salt and Pepper to taste. Water to texture.

The consistency should be like ricotta, maybe a little more watery than ricotta.
(Nutritional Yeast is not technically considered a raw food but I'm using it anyway)
  • Step Three: Assemble the rawvioli.
Get a zucchini slice and add a tiny bit of cashew-cheeze to the middle.
Put you finger in a bit of extra virgin olive oil and run it around the edge of the zucchini.

Press another zucchini slice on top and seal around the sides.

I served it with some pesto sauce, I made it pretty simple with basil, garlic, olive oil, and vegan parmesan. I also served it with totally not raw garlic bread because since the "pasta" wasn't bread I thought I could splurge on some crunchy garlic faux-buttery goodness!

Happy Eating!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Not-Tuna Patte

I've been playing with raw food for a while and I like to have a balance between cooked and raw food.

This patte is fun because it's totally raw! Have it with cut up vegetables for a totally raw lunch or add a flatbread for a bit of cooked food.

Soak 1 cup sunflower seeds and 3/4 cup almonds. You can soak them for anywhere between 30 minutes and 1 hour.

First I process my carrots, maybe 2-3 carrots until they are in little bits.

Clear out the processor and Add the nuts drained of their soaking liquid.
Process the nuts with a little bit of water. The texture should be like canned tuna, for a lack of a better comparison.

Add the processed nuts to the carrots and add some chopped up celery. You can eat it in a sandwich or on a salad.

Happy Eating!