Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Bliss

Do you remember what summer vacation was like when you were a kid? If you were anything like me, you woke up late, poured a big bowl of cereal (usually a mix of Cheerios and Mini-Wheats) and positioned yourself in front of some of Nickelodeon’s or The Disney Channel’s finest. After some time, you made it outside to do what kids do. Me, I was a bike rider and tree climber. Summer was the best.

As I have mentioned before, my summer vacation is quickly coming to an end. However, I cannot complain because I know I am lucky to have a job which allows me to hold on to this amazing part of childhood even as a working adult. Today was the adult version of a perfect summer vacation day.

Screw “trying to adjust to an earlier wake up time.” I have 3 more days to sleep in and so that is what I’m going to do. I slept till 9:30 today and then enjoyed a large bowl of banana oats.

Banana Oats:

1 cup oats
½ cup almond milk
1 small mashed banana
1 large scoop of peanut butter

Instead of Hey Arnold and Clarissa Explains It All, I enjoyed my oats while watching a DVR episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. I know… please don’t judge me.

Lunch was by far the best part of the day though. Patrick took a half day so he could enjoy part of my perfect summer vacation day with me. We finally got a chance to use the beautiful picnic basket my mother-in-law bought me for my bridal shower (see pics below). Thanks Debbie!! Although Patrick was a little perturbed that I asked him to carry the white, heart-shaped basket through the streets of Jersey City, the lunch I prepared quickly assuaged his anger.

Indian Summer Salad:

¼ cup slivered almonds
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup veganaise mayo
1 can chickpeas
1 tablespoon curry powder

We paired the chickpeas, with some fruit salad with “cream cheese” dressing and a green bean, zucchini crudite. The “cream cheese” dressing was really just leftover frosting from the carrot cake I made the other night, but doesn’t it sound so “Top Chef” when I say it like that?

After lunch, Patrick didn’t feel so great. I think he may actually have a kiwi allergy because this has happened several times after eating the delicious green fruit. I feel bad for him. Kiwis are my favorite! Anyway, after consulting WebMD, his dinner was prepared in accordance with the BRAT diet (bread, rice, applesauce and toast) while I enjoyed some leftover fettuccini alfredo combined with the leftover collard greens from a few nights back. Leftovers + melted vegan mozzarella = yummy in my tummy.

For dessert I made some pumpkin pie ice cream…. a sweet ending to my day of summer bliss : )

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Adventures In Eating

Since going vegan in March, I have also made some other changes in my diet. I try to eat mostly whole foods and avoid added sugars. I also try my best to eat only whole grains and choose organic whenever possible. For the most part, this means many of the foods posted here on the blog don't come from a package.

However, there are definitely some things I need to turn to the inner aisles of the grocery store for (I'm not at the point where I'm baking my own bread yet or shelling my own peanuts). In this post, I've tried to highlight some of the products I've been trying. If you feel like being adventurous, look for these items at your local Whole Foods, Trader Joes or organic market.

For breakfast today I had a simple fruit smoothie with almond milk, strawberries and peaches. I paired it with some cinnamon raisin Ezekial bread with one of my favorite flavors of Peanut Butter Co. While these peanut butters are delicious and all natural, they are sweetened with evaporated cane juice. This is part of what makes them so delicious, but I try to think of them as a treat rather than my go to peanut butter choice.

I was on the go again today, getting in my various doctors and dentists appointments before school starts. Around lunch time I had two hours in between appointments to kill so I stopped at Whole Foods hot bar for some grub and some easy reading. I have to admit, I always eat the same thing at the Whole Foods hot bar despite their amazing selection. Today, like every other time I go, I had the vegetable korma with brown rice and a few extra veggies from the salad bar (steamed kale and broccoli).

For dinner tonight, I thought I'd try a new recipe, which I will share with you. Since going vegan there are a few foods which I used to order out at restaurants that I now miss. However, I have found that I can create a much healthier version of these same dishes at home and that I can easily veganize my favorite meals in my own kitchen. Tonight's adventure...

Veggie Loaded Fettuccini Alfredo:

1 diced organic zucchini
1 diced organic orange bell pepper
1 cup chopped string beans -green or yellow or BOTH will do : )
1 box Spelt Ribbons or brown rice pasta
1 cup almond milk
2 1/2 tsp arrowroot
1/2 cup vegan parmesan (Veganaise makes one that will work)
1 small container plain coconut yogurt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste (optional)

1. Saute veggies in olive oil.

2. While veggies are cooking, cook spelt or pasta according to directions on box.

2. In a separate sasuce pan, whisk together milk and arrowroot on medium heat until it begins to thicken. Remove from heat.

3. Stir in cheese, yogurt and nutmeg.

4. Toss together pasta and veggies. Stir in sauce until noodles and veggies are coated in the creamy alfredo.

For dessert I made some yummy carrot cake from the Babycakes cookbook. Unfortunately I can't post the recipe here but the cookbook is definitely worth the amazon purchase, trust me!

I tried to get some of the baking products I use in the shot. Here is a list of what you see here:

Organic Maple Syrup

Organic Agave Nectar

Unsweetened Almond Milk

Earth Balance "Butter"

Are there any nurtitious products you really like that I should try??? Post a comment if you have a yummy one to share. I'm always up for the adventure : )

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


There are two types of people in this world. People who thrive on consistency and routine and people who, well... don't. I have always tried to make myself more like the latter. I've tried to convince myself that spontaneity is more fun and that life is too short to live by a schedule. But, alas, I usually fail. Deep down, I really love routine. My routine makes me happy and hey, if that makes me a little boring, well I'm ok with that : )

However, today, my routine was all discombobulated and that made me feel well... discombobulated! I love that I just got to use that word twice in the same sentence.

First of all, I am kind of caught right now in between my relaxed "schools out for the summer" schedule and my crazy go-go-go schoolyear routine. The result was a day of odly timed meals and some not so great choices. Thus the discombobulated feeling.

I am trying to make myself readjust to the early wake-up time I will be facing again in the not so near future so I made myself wake up a half hour earlier than I have been. Yuck. I stumbled to the kitchen and found the perfect cure for my grogginess...

Tropical Oatmeal:

1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1 diced kiwi
1/2 crumbled tropical fruit tart Lara Bar
1/4 cup toasted coconut

Heat 'em up all together in the microwave (if you're really hungry) or on the stove if unlike me, you actually have patience.

After breakfast, I needed to go into work for a few hours to get some guided reading plans done. No post-breakfast workout today. Another reason for the aforementioned discombobulation. No worries though -I threw all the leftover veggies in my fridge together with some hummus for a wrap to go. I also brought with me the last of the Mary's Gone Crackers (see below). They were so delicious that they are now in fact... gone : (

When I returned home from work around 5, I was starving. The wrap and crackers were not quite enough to get me through the day. As a result, I unfortunately ODed on the all too tempting tortilla chips below. I knew Patrick was going to be working late so I figured it was okay to make a meal of chips? Bad choice. More discombobulation ensued.

Around 8:30 the over-chipped feeling had worn off so I decided to hit the gym. After a 3 mile run I felt much better, but also hungry again. For a quick dinner fix I heated up the Amy's meal you see below. I try not to eat much frozen food but as freezer meals go this one is pretty good. I like to stir in some veggies (tonight I did leftover string beans and spinach) to help bulk up the microwaved goods.
Dinner at 9:45pm= Discombobulated
Let's hope that tomorrow brings some normalcy back into my life (and my stomach).

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Last Sweet Potato Fry

Some men show their love by slaying dragons, buying diamonds, or as the popular 80's song goes "walking 500 miles... just to walk 500 more." Those men however, have nothing on my husband, who today looked down at his near empty plate, then held up his last sweet potato fry and said just as sweetly as the potato itself... "you want it?"

That my friends, is true love : )

So what else did I eat today besides sweet potatoes? Here it goes...

I woke up this morning around 9 again. I know, tough life huh? I'm in denial about the fact that pretty soon school starts for me again and wake up time is 5am. But for now, life is good. Anyway, a long sleep had left me starving so a big breakfast was in order.

Mini-tropical smoothie:

3 frozen strawberries
1/4 cup frozen mango
1/4 cup frozen pineapple
1/2 cup coconut kefir
1/2 cup Trader Joe's Green Juice
+ a sprinkling of unsweetened toasted coconut

The smoothie was accompanied by two TJ's mini cinnamon raisin bagels with Tofutti cream cheese. I know what you're thinking. You non-vegans are skeptical of my tofu cream cheese. But believe me, this stuff is sooo good, not even Patrick notices the difference. Like the ad says, it really is "better than cream cheese."

When it came time for a workout, I just could not stand the idea of 30 minutes on the elliptical. I also could not stand the thought of running outside again in the 95 degree beating sun. Genius that I am, I decided to "take the stairs." 67 flights to be exact. That's right, I ran up and down the stairs of my apartment building... twice. And hey, why not throw in a few sets of lunges at the end. My legs were screaming for the elliptical by the end of the workout. Needless to say, I worked up a pizza-worthy hunger!

Vegan Sausage Pizza on Whole Wheat Pita:

1 whole wheat pizza
1/4 cup organic marinara
1/4 cup cooked, chopped spinach
1/2 Field Roast Vegan Sausage (see below)
4-5 chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup Daiya mozzarella
1/4 cup Rice mozzarella

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees.

2. Top pita with sauce, veggies, basil and sausage.

3. Finish off with a mix of vegan cheeses (the daiya is stretchy but a little slimy so I like to mix it with the rice cheese for a perfect pizza).

I enjoyed my pizza with a side of leftover string beans. Aren't the colors pretty? They taste exactly the same to me but who doesn't love a colorful lunch? Yumminess. I'm already dreaming of leftover cold pizza for breakfast...

After lunch, I had a very exciting surprise. The photographer from our wedding emailed me to let me know our pictures were ready! Needless to say the rest of my afternoon was consumed with browsing through these online. It was so good to see all of the little details I missed on the big day... it flew by! Somehow, amid all the pictue viewing, I found some time to cook up a southern-vegan feast!

Slow-cooked barbeque tofu courtesy of Mama Pea.

Unfortunately I didn't have any Amy's Barbeque Sauce so I had to improvise. The result was pretty good!
Vegan BBQ Sauce:
1 cup organic ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (I used A1 cause that was all I had. Fingers-crossed this is vegan?)

2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon olive oil

I cooked some cajun collard greens to accompany the BBQ deliciousness.

Cajun Collards:

1/2 diced onion
1/2 diced red pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons cajun seasoning
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 bunch of collard greens (-the stems)

1. Saute onions and peppers with oil and seasoning until onions are translucent.

2. Add collards and vegetable stock. Cook on medium heat for a few minutes until collards are wilted.

3. Remove from heat to avoid over-cooking collards (they get bitter and icky if you do that).

Pat ate his BBQ tofu sloppy-joe-style. He gave it two thumbs up. Well, technically only one thumb up but his other one was just busy holding his sandwich.

Ok, I am off to watch my latest netflix arrival with my potato-sharing-hubby. But not without sharing some homemade peach ice cream.
Peach Ice "Cream":

3 cups fresh peaches
4 tablespoons lemon juice
11/4 cup agave nectar
1 1/2 cups almond milk
2 3/4 cups soy creamer
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Combine peaches and lemon juice in a small bowl. Let sit for 2 hours in fridge. Strain juices (but save it for later).
2. Puree peaches. Mix the pureed peach mess with cream, milk, agave nectar, leftover juice and vanilla extract.
3. Pour into ice cream maker (one of the best wedding gifts ever!) and let mix for 30 minutes.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Okie Okra

For as long as I can remember, people have always told me things like "you're a bit of a control freak" or "you're too uptight" or if they're into euphemisms they might say "you just like things a certain way." However, in the past year or so I would say I have relaxed a lot. Between wedding planning, grad school and working a 70 hour week I have had to let go a little and I have to say, I like the new me. I have been trying really hard not to sweat the small stuff.

Today was one of those days when I had to just say okie dokie to several less than perfect happenings. Actually, I think at one point today I accidentally typed Okie Okra into my blackberry. My texting skills are not the greatest and apparently okra is very close to dokie. In terms of veggies, okra is in fact not my favorite, but as a phrase I kinda like it. Here are some of the things today I just said "okie okra" to:

1. My best friend Tia was supposed to come visit this weekend but she told me today she has to babysit her sister's hedgehog. WHAT? Story to come...

2. I walked to the local organic market to replenish some baking supplies but they didn't have the maple sugar I needed to make Eat, Drink and Be Vegan's peanut butter chocolate cookies. That leads me to...

3. I substituted for the maple sugar with agave nectar and thought parchment paper just wasn't that important. Turns out that it is. This resulted in a smokey apartment and burnt cookies.

But hey, the new and improved relaxed Beanz just says Okie Okra to all of this. Bring on the eats!

I woke up around 9:15 today (trying very hard to savor my last days of summer vacation before I go back for professional development next week). I enjoyed some Regis and Kelly and Rachael Ray while eating some delicious oatmeal. I know some people don't eat oatmeal in the summer because it is too hot, but thanks to the AC I'm still always freeeeeezing in our apartment. I welcome a little oatmeal on a summer morning.

Old fashioned rolled oats with rasberries and a huge scoop a Better'n Peanut Butter.

After a leisurely morning of morning tv and some thank you note writing, I finally made it out for a run. It was hot but it was good to get out of the apartment and get some sun. After returning home I enjoyed a lovely lunch which included a leftover remix.

Leftover brown rice mediterranean curry couscous with zucchini, curried cashews and golden raisins

I've recently become obsessed with hummus mixed with melted daiya mozzerella. I had it on the side with lunch along with some pear, carrott and cucumber "fries." Yummy!

For dinner I picked up some essentials at the Farmer's Market and then made a lemon-garlic pasta. My former college roomie and fellow Bachelorette fan joined me for dinner. She said she enjoyed the pasta but was not a fan of my charcoal cookies. Can you blame her? (see nasty pic below). We did enjoy some lovely chuck shaw white wine from Trader Joe's though : )

It is much easier to say Okie Okra to ruined cookies after two glasses of vino!

Eat, Drink and Be Vegan's Lemon-Garlic Pasta with green beans and Field Roast Grain Meat's vegan italian sausage

Nasty burned vegan cookies that almost set off the alarm. Oh well, Okie Okra!