Tuesday, August 31, 2010


So as you know, I have spent the past few days doing a lot of relaxing during our Virginia mini-vacation. As a result, I finally had the opportunity to read through the backlog of magazines I had accrued. These included all of my favorites, Whole Living,Shape, Fitness and Health.

However, by Tuesday morning, I had run out of reading material and unfortunately had neglected to bring a good book down with me. So, when Pat and I headed out to the pool yesterday morning before getting on the road, I decided to peruse one of his choices Men's Health. In addition to finding out tips for how to "unlock the female libido" and make a good grill rub, I did read some pretty good articles about topics that often get shortchanged in women's magazines. For example, they had articles about lifting and overcoming plateaus in the gym... very helpful. Amidst all these tips though, I discovered some shockingly misguided information.

One page which claimed to tote expert advice stated that a low carb and high fat diet of beef helped him to fight flab. Though I don't expect everyone in the world to adhere to my diet, I do have a problem with people advertising a high beef diet as a "healthy lifetsyle." This was not the worst of it though, on the Nutrition page there was a blurb titled "Don't Fear Meat" which encouraged readers to eat beef, lamb and pork without worrying about disease risk. Directly above this blurb was a statistic stating that 56% of meat packing facilities have not been inspected in the past 5 or more years. WTF??

I actually do think Men's Health and Women's Health are pretty good magazines but this just served as a reminder that any information we read in magazines or newspapers or see on tv should not supersede our own basic knowledge of nutrition and common sense.

After reading up poolside, Pat and I had some leftover Mellow Mushroom and then got on the road back to Jerz. We were sad to go. Family visits are never long enough for us but I guess that makes us pretty lucky.

Anyway, on the way home, I made some misguided decisions of my own. We left Virginia later than expected which meant we were stuck finding dinner on the road. This situation is certainly not ideal when you are a vegan driving through middle of nowhere West Virginia. I got really excited when I searched for a Whole Foods in the GPS and discovered that there was one located on our route right over the border of Pennsylvania. Score! I immediately started chatting about what I would get from the hot bar when we arrived.

When we got off the exit, things did not look promising. Pat didn't say a word as we followed the GPS nearly 3 miles off the exit to arrive outside a store adorned with the following sign:

Oops. No hot bar here. Stupid GPS. At this point we were starving and had already added 15 minutes to our travel time.

We decided to take a risk and try a local Thai place. It seemed like the most likely option for satisfying both Patrick and myself in a hurry- hmmm that sentence sounded remarkably like some tips I read in Men's Health ; )

Veggie Spring Roll

Rad-Na Wild Rice Noodles with Steamed Veggies
The food did not compare to my own Thai Coconut Curry Rice Bowls but it was probably better than anything we could have gotten via drive through window.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Grill Master

When I was young, I associated the smell of the grill with summer cookouts and family. Usually, we started up the grill when my older brother and sister were home or family from out of town was visiting. It was one of those comforting summer moments that I probably didn’t appreciate enough at the time…

As an adult, the smell of a grill being fired up still brings happy thoughts (even though now it is the smell of roasted zucchini I enjoy rather than a NY strip). So tonight, I was very excited to get some veggies on the grill and savor the last days of summer with a good old-fashioned cookout.

Before the grilling began, the day was spent doing some serious shopping. First I hit up a J Crew Warehouse sale. The clothes were great but unfortunately the dressing room situation was not. I spent the better part of an hour crouched in a corner trying on pants while Pat “stood watch.” My philosophy? Good sale prices are worth sacrificing a little bit of modesty ; ) I did find two pairs of work pants and a very nice fitting pair of size 4 jeans. That’s right… goodbye extra three pounds!

After the J Crew sale, I had worked up a pretty decent sized hunger so we stopped by Whole Foods to hit up the hot bar for lunch:

Salad with kale, cauliflower, peppers, broccoli and tomatoes with curried tofu and wheatberries.

We shared the new Larabar flavors for dessert. Cookie dough = yum!

Once I was refueled I was ready to hit the sales racks again. Unfortunately, my morning shopping buddy was very done (Patrick was not a fan of the crazed wholesale shoppers). Luckily, Debbie came to the rescue and whisked me away for a Cabi clothing excursion (all readers interested in fashion as well as good food should be sure to check out the link). I will post pictures of the clothes I picked when they arrive in the mail but let’s just say I will be cooking in style this fall!

When we got back, I was so fired up from all my new purchases that I tried an Insanity workout with Pat and his brother. It kicked my butt. Post-workout we enjoyed some pool and then fired up the grill. Perfect summer day/night:

Debbie stir fried the broccoli and mushrooms in sesame oil. Very flavorful. Perfect compliment to the grilled veggies.

Grilled veggies in teriyaki sauce

My plate

Close up

The grill master (Patrick) and his brothers (sans Albert). Sign of true brotherly love? Sharing your grilled corn on the cob ; )

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Birthday Weekend

So this weekend I celebrated my 25th birthday and my 1st ever birthday as a vegan! The birthday cake showed a strong resemblance to my favorite peanut butter cups. I know, you’re shocked, right? The company was good and the weather was beautiful. All in all, a successful way to ring in 25 years of Beanz ; )

Pat and I spent Friday evening in because we knew we would be leaving early in the am to head down to Virginia, where his family lives. Because I have a week off before school starts and work wasn’t too busy for Pat, we decided to use this time to do some family visiting. He took Monday and Tuesday off so we could spend some time down here and then my mom will be visiting over the Labor Day weekend. We were both very excited at the idea of a mini-vacation. So excited in fact that we decided to try some new recipes in between the packing…

Dinner was “cheese stuffed burgers” from one of my favorite food blogs. I also figured out something to do with my purple turnips.

Creamy Mashed Turnips:

5 purple turnips, peeled and quartered

2 apples, peeled and cored

1 cup soy milk

¼ cup Earth Balance

1 tablespoon sea salt

1. Bring large pot of water to a boil. Drop in turnip pieces and simmer for 30 minutes.

2. Add apples and simmer for another 20 minutes.

3. Drain apples and turnips. Mash together with soy milk, Earth Balance and salt (or mix in food processor/blender if you’re looking for the quick and dirty version)

4. Put mixture into baking dish and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Dinner was good but not great. I had to make a few substitutions on the burgers. Although they tasted good, they did not look as pretty as they could have and some of the cheese oozed out during the cooking process. The turnips were yummy though. Purple turnips? Who knew?

The next morning we were supposed to be on the road early but the snooze button made one too many appearances. After sleeping in two hours later than projected and enjoying some breakfast, we were ready to go…

Coconut yogurt with Galaxy Granola and Kiwi
I couldn't ignore the way my shirt matched the meal. Pure coincidence I swear.

Lunch on the road was a vegan “egg salad” wrap. Recipe to come.

Sorry for the blurry factor. Difficult to eat and take pictures in a moving vehicle.

Pat enjoying a mid-drive snack.

When we arrived in Virginia, we got to see Patrick’s younger brother Sean play in his soccer tournament and then headed over to the Mellow Mushroom for some birthday dinner.

Patrick and his dad at the soccer game.

Veggie loaded pizza with soy cheese
The pizza was good but the cheese was not. Another unfortunate fact, the soy cheese is not actually vegan. It contains small amounts of milk protien. Oops. It would have been better cheeseless.

Patrick's brother Sean gave his BBQ chicken pizza the thumbs up!

Patrick and Debbie

About to lick the melted chocolate spoon from birthday "cake" preparation

Today was a perfect blend of reading, napping and relaxing. I did manage to get in a workout from Health magazine though before the relaxation commenced.

Oatmeal with fresh peaches

Lunch was leftover pizza and some delicious salad that my mother-in-law, Debbie, made with pine nuts, grapes and blueberries. The combination was fresh and unique. I think I have discovered a new love for pine nuts. Yummy.

For dinner, I had a pasta dish mixed with veggies and vegan bean dip. I have to admit, I didn’t do ANY of the cooking. The colorful looking dinner you see below was also prepared by Debbie and was made even more delicious by the fact that I did not prepare it myself ; )

Debbie’s Black Bean Dip (which she has now dubbed Beanz’s Beans)

1 can black beans

1 tsp veg oil

½ cup chopped onion

½ cup diced tomato

1/3 cup picante sauce

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp chili powder

1 tablespoon lime juice

Fresh cilantro for garnish

  1. Partially mash beans and set aside.
  2. Saute onions and garlic in oil about 4 minutes or until tender.
  3. Combine beans, tomatoes, onions, garlic and spices. Cook, stirring occasionally about 5 minutes or until thickened.
  4. Stir in lime juice. Garnish with cilantro.

Now I think it is time for some leftover birthday PB cups and some more vacationing : )

Thursday, August 26, 2010


When my middle school students are unprepared for class, they receive a deduction on their progress reports. When a prospective employee is unprepared for an interview, they don’t get the job. When a lawyer is unprepared for court he loses his case. Well, today I found out what happens to an unprepared vegan and let’s just say it wasn’t pretty folks…

The day started out well. I had prepared my lunch the night before and even set out the fixings for a pumpkin pie breakfast smoothie. BTW, I am loving this pumpkin pie hummus in a big way. I don’t think I’m quite ready to leave my Dark Chocolate lover for it but am certainly contemplating a casual affair ; ) I snacked throughout the day on fresh fruits and veggies from my CSA bag.

For lunch I enjoyed a pita pocket stuffed with sliced heirloom tomatoes, mixed greens and falafel. I think I am in love with falafel by the way… I know it is probably old news to most vegans but I have only recently discovered it and it is GOOD!

After the regular workday, the teachers on my grade-level had planned an evening meeting for team building and school year prep. I knew we would be working late and ordering food but I had not done my homework… I was UNPREPARED. Usually, if I know I won’t be home for dinner I plan ahead and bring a vegan-friendly snack or some leftovers in case there are no options for me on the menu. Not this time.
I ended up ordering a side salad and french fries. The side salad was a poor excuse for a meal so I ended up going a little heavy on the fries. Soon after, I discovered the consequences for being an unprepared vegan…

a colossal stomach ache. Ugh. I would have rather had a deduction on my progress report!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Not Just Veggies & Beanz

I know I have mentioned her on the blog many times and she has even appeared in a few pictures but I am excited to formally introduce Veggies & Beanz's first guest blogger... my dear friend Tia!

Tia is a great friend and a former college athlete. Though she is not vegan herself, she is a great cook and has been experimenting lately with a more healthful lifestyle. I hope you enjoy a snippet from her day as much as I enjoy the time I spend with her : )

As I was talking with Sarina last week, during one of the many phone conversations we had in trying to plan for country fest, she asked if I would like to do a guest post on Veggies and Beanz. I was super excited, so here it goes…

Although I am not ready to fully dive into veganism, over the past few months I have become much more conscious of what I eat, largely due to Sarina. I am not going to say with 100% confidence that I would never go completely vegan, but for right now, being more conscious and trying to eat healthy is good enough for me!

So here is my day (not quite as exciting as many of Sarina’s)

For breakfast I had Stonyfield Organic Vanilla yogurt (to cut down on sugars, plain yogurt has significantly less sugar), BearNaked Fruit and Nut Granola, and mixed berries.

I planned on running after breakfast, but for the third day in a row now it was raining and I did not feel like running in the pouring rain. I had an idea…. I would try an OnDemand exercise video.

Well for some reason nothing I chose on OnDemand was working this morning... “At this time, this feature is not available, if the issue continues, please contact Comcast at….” - Yeah stupid Comcast. I am not a fan of them lately.

Being the problem solver that I am, I thought no worries I will make up my own little workout. I was thinking some lunges, abs, and squats along with whatever else I could think of for a short 20 minutes workout. Well my motivation quickly decreased... My workout consisted of lying on the floor watching HGTV occasionally doing a couple crunches when I remembered I was supposed to be in the middle of a workout.

My “strenuous workout” must have worked up my appetite, so I had a mid-morning snack consisting on a banana and peanut butter. I did not think to take a picture until I was half way through eating it and no matter how I took it, the picture turned out looking a little inappropriate, and so there is no picture to go along with my snack.

For lunch, I had a salad. It was just baby spinach leaves, cherry tomatoes, and sliced almonds, topped with a touch of feta cheese. I am out of my favorite dressing though, Trader Joe’s Tuscan Italian with Balsamic Vinegar (picture also featured below), so I just used a regular Balsamic dressing instead.

My afternoon snack, to hold me over to dinner was carrots and hummus- my favorite healthy snack.
For dinner tonight I was craving vegetables, so I roasted up a couple of my favorite types together.

Tia's Favorite Veggies:

1 summer squash
1 red pepper
1 large cluster of asparagus
1 tablespoon vegetable broth
1 garlic clove
Squeeze of both lime and lemon juice
Pinch of salt and pepper


Cut up vegetables.

In pan heat up vegetable broth and garlic until garlic just before garlic turns golden brown.

Add vegetables, lime and lemon juice and salt and pepper.

Cook until vegetables are just starting to get soft, I do not like to cook my vegetables too long, soggy veggies are the worst I think.

To make the meal a little more filling I served with a small portion of brown rice.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I have always been one of those kids who couldn't fall asleep on Christmas Eve. I was soooo excited about the idea of a big fat man downstairs putting gifts under the tree that I stayed up almost all night every year.

Perhaps it was no surprise then that today, I was super pumped about the arrival or my first basis foods delivery. I signed up for the grocery service with a bunch of people from work to reduce delivery costs and I have been waiting for weeks for the first arrival. Most of the food is organic or locally grown. The best part is, you never know what will be in your delivery bag! It is almost like opening up your stocking to find that Santa brought you Trolls this year instead of My Little Ponies (only slightly less frightening than the neon-haired, jewel-bellied creatures).

Anyway, when the package arrived I brought it home and ripped it open to discover an amazing array of fresh fruits and veggies:

Curly Red Kale

Broccoli Rabe

Baby Boston Lettuce

Purple Turnips
ps I have no clue what to do with these... any suggestions??

Heirloom Tomatoes


Yellow Wax Beans

Paula Red Apples, Bartlett Pears, Yellow Peaches, Nectarines

Fingerling Potatoes

Mini Pearl Onions
All that fresh food had me craving something veggie-filled and fresh. Solution = Veggie Tacos! Recipe to come...

Patrick lends a helping hand!

Heirloom Tomato Salsa

Chopped lettuce for topping and taco salad

My taco salad

Pat's dinner pre-cheese and salsa
Stay tuned for more delivery bag meals! My kitchen is fully stocked and ready for some food bloggin action ; )