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Smoothie Time!

9 Feb

Earlier, you’ve read my post on the beauty of Glowing Green Smoothies.  But while greens are wonderful, there’s a whole world of blended delicacies to explore!  And explore I did, because I severely burnt the roof of my mouth on Buffalo “Chicken” Dip during the Super Bowl and could only consume liquids for days.  These delicious smoothies gave my VitaMix a workout and got me through without killing my soul.

1. Rainforest Smoothie

Rainforest Smoothie (picture from kimberlysnyder.net)

The creator of the GGS, Kimberly Snyder, has a variety of smoothies up her sleeve, and this is by far my favorite.  It’s so simple but satisfies my chocolate tooth and keeps me full for a long time.  Exact instructions can be found on her website, but I just make it with an açai packet, unsweetened almondmilk, cacao powder, a few drops of liquid stevia, and half an avocado.  I also add a half tablespoon of chia seeds sometimes, for the extra Omega-3s and iron.

2. Chocolate Cake Batter Smoothie

Chocolate Cake Batter Smoothie (picture from ohsheglows.com)

Sometimes I just want to eat my sorrows with cake, but I almost never should.  I was feel supremely crappy about my mouth burn, but turned to Angela Liddon of ohsheglows.com to turn my frown upside down, and smile I did.  I made a few substitutions based on what I had in my kitchen.  I chose Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Rolled Oats, a tablespoon of cacao, a few drops of stevia, left ouf the ice cubes, and used a tablespoon of almond butter.  Apparently, if you REALLY want it to taste like cake batter, you gotta go with cashew butter, but mine tasted absolutely decadent all the same.  I ran the nutrition, and while this isn’t a light smoothie by any means, it still manages to be a power house of nutrition.  My version was 462 calories, 20.9g of fat, 623.9mg of potassium, 14.7g of fibers, 14.2 g of proteins, and 11.% Vitamin A, 18.2% Vitamin C, 31.5% calcium, and 27.8% iron.  Pretty sexy for cake batter!  Even better, it kept me full for HOURS, and gave me lots of energy to tackle my day.

3. Iron Woman Gingerbread Smoothie

Iron Woman Gingerbread Smoothie (picture from ohsheglows.com)

Yes, another decadent smoothie from ohsheglows! I promise I was drinking green smoothies, too, but drinkable gingerbread is hard to pass up.  It turned out a little too strong for my tastes – I went with the whole two tablespoons of molasses instead of first testing the waters with one – but the nutrition value to sucking it down was well worth it.  330 calories, 2144.2mg of potassium, 9.7g of fiber, 5.4g of protein, 50.1% calcium, and 42.4% iron.  WOW.  The only time I think I get more iron than this is when I eat injera.  I’m definitely going to continue to incorporate molasses in my diet, just in smaller amounts more frequently.

4. Cafe Gratitude’s “I AM COOL”

Don’t I look cool, sipping on I AM COOL?

This is DEFINITELY more like a milkshake than a smoothie, but Cafe Gratitude still manages to make this crazy amazing shake almost healthy with the inclusion of Vitamineral Green.  I’ve always wanted to try this lovely concoction, but the $9 price tag kept me away until I literally could consume nothing else but liquids.  Suddenly, it was just like buying lunch.  If you love mint chocolate chip ice cream, you have GOT to try this.  It sent me straight to heaven, and I rarely if ever choose mint chocolate chip ice cream over, say, cookie dough or chocolate hazelnut.  It’s totally divine and worth the price of admission.

5. Miso Soup

My massive mug of miso soup. Yay, alliteration!

While waiting for my mouth to heal, I didn’t constantly crave sugar and chocolate, despite what this post suggests.  Miso soup is definitely not a smoothie, but if you’re ever in a similar situation where you can’t have solid foods or anything too hot, this is how I navigated dinner time.  You’re not supposed to boil miso, and if you leave the bits like seaweed and tofu out, you get to skip the boiling all together, allowing you to control what temperature you want your soup.  I stirred in about 1.5Tbsp of red miso into two cups of very warm water, let it dissolve, season with a couple dashes of mirin and tamari, then poured it into a big mug.  If you don’t have tamari, soy sauce works fine, I just usually avoid adding gluten when it’s unnecessary.  Allow it to cool until you can comfortable put your hands around the mug, then cozy up on the sofa and sip your supper.  It’s comforting, nutritious, low calorie, and fills you up.

I would never in a million years give up solid food by choice (juice fast, master cleanse, NO WAY), but I enjoyed the opportunity to explore healthy and delicious smoothies.  Fun fact – during those three days, I had double the recommended about of fiber, tons of protein, lots of potassium, and had no trouble meeting my nutritional needs, while most days I plan dinner around what vitamin I’ve missed out on during the day.  There’s definitely something to be said for including smoothies into your life!

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One Month Down

27 Jan

It’s been about a month since I committed myself to veganism, and it’s been fairly uneventful – thank goodness!  I never once had to go hungry for lack of options, I roasted beets without a hitch, and Sam hasn’t run away screaming with frustration, so all in all, I think we’re off to a good start.

Seriously, though, it amazes me how much better I eat now that I’m veggie.  And I’m not even talking about how healthy everything is!  The quality and variety of food I eat now is freakin’ amazing.  I made Ethiopian food the other night, from scratch.  I had raw tacos with the most delicious red pepper cashew spread, and never once wished it had cheese.  I stuff my face with food inspired from all over the world, with local produce, and sometimes top it off with a chocolate milkshake.  My diet has never been more interesting and delicious.

This evening, Sam and I went to our favorite sushi joint, Izaka-Ya by Katsu-Ya, on 3rd St. in Mid-City West.  Last year, when I was transferring over to veggie pretty successfully and happily ordering avocado rolls elsewhere, I could never resist the salmon and blue fin tuna at this place.  Today’s visit was a test, no question!  But I was ready for it.

Vegetable Sushi

I didn’t want to bombard the waitress with the same question a million times, so I decided to go for miso soup (which was questionable) and a vegetable sushi roll (which would totally be fine).  The miso soup failed the Q&A – sadly, they make it with fish broth and there’s no way around that.  Well poop.  I scanned the menu again really quickly and asked if the Agedashi Tofu was safe, and though she first made a weird, unreadable face, she went with, “Yes, that’s fine.”  Even though her pause concerned me, you can only do so much when you’re at a restaurant, at the mercy of the person making your food.  Go in with the best intentions, because that matters, but don’t let your suspicion make you go hungry.

The vegetable sushi was some of the best I’ve had yet, with an interesting mix of unidentifiable Japanese veggies to go along with the standard carrot/cucumber, and a nice hunk of avocado to smooth it all out.  The Agedashi Tofu was so delicious, I really hope it’s actually vegan because I am definitely going back for that again.  Silky smooth tofu in a savory soy broth, all nicely fried without being overly heavy.  Perfect.

So next time I go, I’ll ask them about the tofu again, and maybe even check if their tempura has egg in it or not.  I also asked her if the chili edamame was fish sauce-free, since Sam was grabbing a plate and I wanted in on the fun, and she seemed to think so, but it’s worth double checking that too.

Mantra: do the best you can!

Back in LA

7 Jan

I love my family, but amidst all that vegan-wedding drama, I’m happy to be back in a land that knows what’s up. Also, the toilet seats are not half as cold as they are in PA right now, and that’s a fact.

It was a long flight, and Sam does NOT stock the refrigerator to my standards, so I decided to spoil myself with delivery from Real Food Daily. While their standard salads aren’t so great, I can always count on their weekly salad specials. Those are some of the best salads I have ever had in my life, no joke. Upon delivery, I dived face first into La Vita E’ Bella, which was an amazing Italian-inspired creation with yellow beet angel hair “pasta,” mixed greens, tomatoes (sundried and cherry), roasted red peppers, tofu cheese, and smothered in pesto vinaigrette. Heaven in my mouth. Usually I can make two meals out of a salad (makes me feel less guilty paying $15), but I was so starved for fresh veggies, I devoured it.

Since I was already sinking $6 to get it delivered, I was having a difficult time rationalizing an $8 dessert, so instead I opted for a peanut butter cookie. Holy what!! I must’ve had my expectations crazy low, because this blew my mind. Perfect texture, just enough moisture, and thrilled me to no end. Sam raised an eyebrow at my ability to finish both the salad and the cookie the size of my hand, but whatever, dude. Let me revel in pure vegan bliss.

Bucket List

3 Dec

There are the kind of people who can quit cold turkey, and then there are others who need that final goodbye. December has been dedicated to revisiting my favorite non-vegan eats and evaluating what about them I like so much, and how I can live without them starting January 1, 2012. I’ll update this post throughout the month as I cross things off or think of new ways to desecrate my body one more time. I see green smoothies in my future.

1. Umami “Earth Burger”
This was the first to cross off from my bucket list, as I haven’t had it in a really long time but remembered it very fondly. A mushroom and edamame patty topped with white soy & truffle aioli, ricotta cheese, cipollini onions, butter lettuce, and an oven-roasted tomato on a brioche bun. Seriously the best veggie burger I have ever had, but NOT vegan friendly in the least. Even if you take off the cheese and aioli, you still can’t have the bun, and who knows what other things they stuff in the patty to keep it together.

I got it with a side of tempura onion rings (I’m just going to guess and say they’re also on the no-no list, as a lot of tempura has egg in it), popped a lactaid pill, and went to town. Impression? Overwhelming. The butter in the bun was almost nauseating, I had trouble focusing. Instead of being the mind-blowing burger I had remembered, it was kinda gross and no longer my style. I’m happy to say goodbye and move on. WOOT. Shannon: 1, Non-Vegan Food: 0

2. Wawa, “Egg Salad Ciabatta with Pepper Jack”
I grew up with Wawa, the amazing convenience store on the East Coast, and as a little omnivore, the world was my oyster and I was incredibly fond of their turkey and cheese sandwich. When I gave up red meat and poultry, I had to get a little creative, and discovered my new fav – egg salad with pepper jack cheese on ciabatta. I know, it sounds weird, but I even got my mom hooked on it, it was so good. My last visit home, I decided to give this guy a whirl, for ol’ time’s sake.

IT SUCKED SO HARD. After having M Cafe’s Tofu Dill Salad, I have been ruined for all egg salads to come, and good riddance. I also felt nasty for about a day and had to do some serious green smoothie detoxing to recover. I almost feel tempted to give a point to Wawa for almost killing me, but since I can now say NO THANK YOU with confidence, I think I win. Shannon: 2, Non-Vegan Food: 0.

3. Joan’s on Third “Mac & Cheese”
Admittedly, this is the best macaroni and cheese I have ever had (hence why it’s “bucket list” quality), and I was worried I’d find nothing wrong with it. Upon further inspection, it’s not that special, even with its variety of cheeses and perfectly crusted top. It’s greasy, heavy, leaves a film in my mouth, and kinda flavorless. Also, I had to pop a ton of lactaid and digestive enzymes to get it down, but STILL I’m left uncomfortable and a little socially unacceptable (sorry, TMI, but you lactose intolerant kids know what’s up). Good not great, and definitely not worth the physical toll. I CAN DO THIS. Shannon: 3, Non-Vegan Food: 0.

4. Milk “Cookies & Cream Ice Cream Sandwich”
I used to be certifiably hooked on these delicious morsels – excellent cookies & cream ice cream squished between two chocolate macaron shells. I never had anything like it before, and considering how macarons are made, I doubt they’ll ever be vegan. My fiancé, Sam, is OBSESSED and is either eating a sandwich or straight up ice cream from Milk pretty much every day. For most of this last year, I used to stare at him with envy. Finally, I am able to break the spell. I ate one and it was…. just okay. The macaron shells are more of a novelty than anything else, and the ice cream was just so sweet, it made my teeth hurt. Have my taste buds completely changed after a year of being mostly dairy-free? I used to go nuts for this stuff! Sam often describes his experience as a “mouthgasm.” Where’s the magic now? No matter, I’m just happy to say sayonara and lose the jealous stare. Shannon: 4, Non-Vegan Food: 0

5. Izaka-Ya by Katsu-Ya
This one breaks my heart a little. It’s “our” restaurant, where we go for every celebration, from projects finished to birthdays. Sam is a picky eater, and this was one of the few places we could actually share food. Last night, we went to celebrate his birthday, and for me to bid adieu to fish. We had a feast, and I was able to recognize why sushi has been so important to me when I’ve been able to eschew everything else, including cooked fish. Being able to share food with someone I love is a big deal, and we’re having less and less common ground the more vegan I become. He doesn’t even bother ordering anything at Café Gratitude or Real Food Daily – he’ll come with me, but I’ll eat alone. It sucks! The other draw of sushi is the texture and mouthfeel, which mostly comes from fat. Thankfully, the earth has given us plenty of fat (hey avocados!) and most sushi restaurants have at least a few veggie rolls. I’m not excited to start finding out which of my apparently vegan Japanese foods actually have fish sauce or egg, but that’s why I’m devoting a year to this, because I don’t want to eat ignorantly anymore. Shannon: 5, Non-Vegan Food: 0. Winning!

6. Urth Caffe’s Coconut Custard Pie
Be still, my heart. I never considered myself a huge coconut fan, but a slice of this pie had me doing backflips. Toasted coconut, eggy custard, graham crust, and so unvegan it’s a crime. I still totally love this, but I will take that passion and use it for good – I will veganize it!! Lest trying shall kill me first. Come on, no eggs eggy custard…

I prevail! Shannon: 6, Non-Vegan Food: 0.

7. Giovanni’s Pizza
East Coast pizza – does it get any better? Giovanni’s is my absolute hometown FAV, and I’m gonna miss it. There are a few different outposts, but they’re all kitschy Italian greatness. I said goodbye to cheese pizza and mozzarella sticks on a rainy winter night, and it felt good, because greasy cheese is awesome, but it’s no longer for me. I’ve had some excellent vegan pizza back West, so I think I’ll be okay on that front. Mozzarella sticks are pretty much over, but think of all the other cheesy goodness I can get with Daiya and Teese without supporting the dairy and veal industries! Also, Doomie’s have these amazing deep fried avocados that are the best thing I ever put in my mouth. Really, I won’t be at a loss for high fat yummy junk food reminiscent of my college days. Vegan pizza will be mine! Shannon: 7, Non-Vegan Food: 0. Rock hard!!

8. Tria
I saved the best for last. My name is Shannon, and I’m a wine-and-cheese-aholic. I love Tria because I can chat with my friends for hours while snacking and sipping on delicious wine. I still adore the ritual and will miss this place, which has zero vegan options, but I can make do at home. Dr. Cow cheese is nut based and perfect on crackers. I just wish it was offered in traditional wine bars! Sigh, maybe one day.