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Monday, May 31, 2010

Ask [Google] and you shall receive.

First, sorry for the lack of posts last week. I've been quite busy with jury duty. What with the 10 am start, the hourly breaks, two hours for lunch and the crazy long days till 5 pm, there's just been no time. Jury duty is quite taxing. It doesn't leave much room for anything else in my life.

But anyway, I have a lot to catch up on. I take all these pictures of yummy food I make or eat then never blog about any of it. People look through the photos on my phone and think I'm some food-obsessed lunatic (which really, I am).

Last weekend after brunch I was most upset that Nutella wasn't vegan and I asked if anyone knew of a vegan friendly recipe. Well, I did something better than asking my friends. I asked Google. 

And of course, I found a super scrumptious vegan Nutella, or Not-ella if you prefer, recipe. Here's how I made it. (Sorry the recipe's not exact. I have a thing against measuring cups. I like to pretend I'm Martha and can just throw ingredients around and magically concoct a dish.)

1 1/2 cups roasted hazelnuts (You can use raw hazelnuts if you feel the need to go through the hassle or roasting them yourself. I like to use my time wisely, so I went with roasted.)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp vanilla extract

First, you should smoosh up all your hazelnuts in a food processor. Probably about 3 minutes. You want them to have an ultra fine consistency. Then add in all your other ingredients and continue to process, scraping down the sides occasionally until it is well mixed. You may need to add slightly more oil to get the right consistency for you. But really, once you do that, you're done! Ta-da! So easy. You can keep it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a month before it will start to go off. (Go off, go bad, same difference. Blame the huz if you don't like that expression. His foreigner speak has rubbed off on me.)

It was super yummy on my bagel in the morning. And no, I do not need any commentary on how I'm not supposed to be eating bagels. Thanks.

Soooo, what else do I have to tell you about? Vacation?

The huz and I plus Chip-a-roo went to a lake house with friends for Memorial Day weekend. We had our own mini-couples retreat. (I mean mini-retreat, not mini-couples, although some of my friends are quite short.)

The first morning there, everyone had pancakes. Unfortunately, the mix had eggs and milk in it so I couldn't have any. So while the others were cooking, the huz and I took a trip to Walmart to pick up some stuff I could actually eat. (And as a side note, never go to a Walmart in the middle of nowhere America. I've never been so scared in my life. Much scarier than vegan-eating vampires.)

I just got some Bisquick batter which is easily used to make vegan happy pancakes. I made myself a batch when we got back. However, everyone was done eating by that point, so it was a bit sad.

The next morning I decided to solve the problem by making everyone my vegan happy pancakes. Here's how: Just follow the recipe on the back of the Bisquick box for pancakes, but where it calls for two eggs, use one banana and instead of regular milk, use soy milk. It's super delish! Especially if you use vanilla soy milk.

In many recipes that call for eggs, especially baking recipes, you can easily replace the egg with a smooshy banana. This is another great use for icky spotty bananas that my banana-racist self refuses to eat. Basically, one banana = two eggs. For those of you who suck at math, that means half a banana = one egg. 

So anyway, I made a huge batch of vegan happy pancakes and everyone loved them! I think I had them quite convinced that vegan food was not so bad, and maybe even quite scrumptious. 

And then they ate my vegan happy pancakes with a side of bacon.

Oh well. To each their own. At least they all realized that vegan food does not equal nasty food as many are inclined to think. I think that's still a point for vegan. I do have to thank my friends though. They were all super nice and concerned about what I could and couldn't eat. They even bought me special dark chocolate that was dairy-free for smores. (Although my smores still lacked marhmallows. Couldn't expect Walmart to carry vegan friendly marshmallows, now could we? Or maybe they were sold back by the shotguns and fishing licenses and I just missed them.)

Overall, vacation was wondefulicious. (Wonderful because I got to frolic in the sun with friends and delicious because we spent the long weekend stuffing our faces around the clock. What else do you do on vacation?). I  also got a tan so that the random Russian lady who sits next to me on the jury can stop asking me if I ever go in the sunshine. I may be Finnish, but I'm seriously not that pale. Hopefully this will shut her up for the rest of the trial.

I have still never blogged about my uber delicious pizza that I've made twice now! And the tofu mozzarella sticks! But, I'll get to it one day. I like to keep my readers in suspense. 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cheese is a gateway drug.

So as of yesterday, I would have said being a vegan was a piece of cake. (And obviously I would mean a vegan-friendly piece of cake.) But today, it was rough. I've made it a month (I missed my anniversary! Sadness...) with no issues, but not anymore. We went out to brunch in Hanover Square with friends to finally get our 'H' date done since the weather was too ick to make the drive to the Hamptons. This brunch turned out to be quite a boozy brunch. Loooove the all you can drink $10 champagne special. The restaurant obviously didn't know who they were dealing with when they decided upon this marketing campaign. Soo, two bottles of champagne later, it was very very hard to resist the cheese the restaurant smeared all over my otherwise vegan happy potatoes. I miss cheese. I miss milkshakes. I miss whipped cream. I miss all things cow related. However, I was still a good little vegan and gave the yummy cheesey potato goodness to the huz and got yet another veggieburger for brunch. I sense a pattern forming...

For dessert the huz and I split a banana and Nutella crepe which was crazy delish. Buttttt, like everything else delicious, I came home to find out there's freaking MILK in Nutella... Something else delicious I have to cross off my list. I'm wondering if I can find a recipe to make a vegan friendly Nutella....

So I suppose I technically cheated today. However, my philosophy is if I didn't know there was milk, egg, etc. in it, it's ok. I just won't have it again from there on out. I guess today was my farewell party for Nutella. I'll miss you more than you'll know, yummy hazlenuty deliciousness...

Thank goodness champagne is vegan friendly otherwise I might actually die. No, really. I'd die.

But the good news is, the champagne did wear off (is that really good news, though?) and I am no longer so obsessed with my cheese cravings.

Have you ever noticed that though? We all crave dairy products like we're strung out on coke. We all assume that dumping cheese on a meal will automatically make it more scrumptious. Why is this? Why are we all soooo obsessed with cheese? Might I even say we're addicted to cheese? Yes, I might.

We are all totally addicted to cheese. There's a protein in all dairy products called Casein, but it is found in a more heavily concentrated form in cheese than in other dairy products. And... "Opiates hide inside casein, the main dairy protein. As casein molecules are digested, they break apart to release tiny opiate molecules, called casomorphins. One of these compounds has about one-tenth the opiate strength of morphine" ( So in other words, cheese is a gateway drug. We're all freaking addicted. You better watch out. The next step might actually be you sniffing a line in a dirty NYC bathroom...

But now it makes perfect sense to me why I don't miss eggs or meat in the slightest, but cheese makes my mouth water and gives me horrible cravings. I'm an addict.

The same is also true of a protein that's found in gluten. It also causes addictive behaviors. I love how the two food groups I'm not supposed to eat, gluten and diary, are the two food groups that are actually addictive. It's like God is punishing me for all the times I've told smokers that they need to stop whining and quit smoking already. I'll take this moment now to apologize. Addiction sucks, even if it is only to cheese and gluten. I totally feel like a junkie who is way overdue for a fix...

But, the good little vegan that I am is resisting. When I first read The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone, I remembered her saying that there would come a time when we all missed the food so much that we would debate going back to eating the animal nasty foods. She recommended we reread the section in her book where she outlines all the junk that goes into our food and all the horrible treatments the animals go through to become our food. It was a good suggestion. I am totally back on the bandwagon. 

I am no remembering that when I sat down I totally meant to write this post about a yummy pizza and tofu "mozzarella" sticks that I made the other night... I was obviously sidetracked. Maybe the champagne hasn't really worn off yet... 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Enough with the dreams already.

So this time I had a genuine nightmare. Nothing comical about it.

I dreamt that I got accidentally pregnant and it was a very unwelcome pregnancy because I hadn't "gone through the motions" that the huz and I agreed would be necessary before attempting a vegan pregnancy.

After the aforementioned discussion where my mom tried to scare me out of veganism by threatening deformed babies, the huz and I decided that if I wanted to be a vegan while pregnant, we would have to be very smart and careful about it. (And PLEASE do not read this the wrong way and start asking me twenty questions about our growing family. We have no plans to have kids and certainly do not want them for ages. Ick.) However, we still discussed what our plan would be and decided that when we are ready, I'll go to the doctor and get some bloodwork done to make sure that all of my chemical and nutritional levels are where they should be and then I'd work with a nutritionist to ensure I'm getting all the proper vitamins and minerals while preggo. This may sound like a lot of work, but I really can't imagine eating meat as I get queasy just considering it now, so it's what must be done to be a responsible preggo vegan.

So anyway, in my dream I got knocked up by accident (by the huz of course) and was very shocked/upset to discover this condition. I was totally freaked out to tell the huz because I knew he'd be ticked that we hadn't "followed the plan." So then I started debating whether or not I should keep the baby since it would probably be deformed due to my lack of nutrition, and then I got extremely upset because I could totally never abort a baby. This is when I woke up.

Like I said, nothing comical about this one... I think it does show that my mom's tactics did get to me. I've always found pregnancy pretty freaky to begin with (Something growing inside of you?? Haven't we seen like fifty science fiction films with this plot? They never end well...) and now it freaks me out even more... However, this does add to my arsenal of why it's necessary for us to wait to have kids. I'm too freaked out.

I really don't think it'll be an issue though. I eat much healthier and much more balanced now than I ever did before. I plan out my day to insure I'm getting the right intake of all the food groups (minus meat and dairy obvi), pay attention to my amino acids and take daily vitamins to keep my B-12 up. These are all things I never bothered with before.

However, I do have to say that I am slightly disappointed with my vegan diet. Yes, watching Food, Inc. did push me over the edge to embark on this journey, but it was also partly done for health reasons. The good news is, my stomach problems have totally disappeared since I began eating vegan. The bad news is my hives did not. I've now been tested for every allergy ever and they've all come back negative, except for apples. Of course of all the things I'd definitely be allergic to, it had to be my favorite fruit, which happens to be in EVERYTHING! I'm not pleased.

It turns out I must have a "sensativity" to something which "unfortunately cannot be tested." In other words, the doctors told me they're idiots and have no idea what's up. I so need to go on an episode of House. Dr. House would totally know what the dealio is. I'm so glad I've drained myself of all my blood for testing over the past few years to discover my 'sensitivity' to who knows what.

But the worst of it is, they assume the sensitivity is indeed to gluten. In other words, this may be my last blogpost because I am soon going to starve to death. No meat, no dairy, no eggs, no gluten? Boo. Huge sad face. I don't miss the meat, dairy, or eggs (ok, maybe occasionally the dairy) but I freaking looooove gluten-filled carbolicious foods. I have heard this is a direct result of my Finnish descent. We were programed to crave carbs to plump us up for the winter when food would be scarce so that we could survive to the next spring and summer. I like this explanation better than saying I lack all self-control or willpower to control my bagel cravings.

So anyway, I'll keep you posted on my slow descent into starvation. I had a bagel this morning at Starbucks. I decided I needed one last farewell gesture. And of course, I now have hives on my eyes. I think most people assume the huz beats me. It gets that bad. Luckily, huge granny sunglasses are totally in in New York, especially when inside. (Don't you know your cool factor raises 10 points if you wear your sunnies inside? Of course you didn't, you're not from New York.) so I just walk around in those all day and people assume I'm too important to make eye contact with them (which is also obviously true).

I have no fun pictures for you this post as I have been totally lazy and getting salads out or not making fun recipes from scratch. I did, however, make the Gardenburger Blackbean Chipotle burgers that I blogged about a few posts back. Woah nasty. I hated them. The huz loved them though, so I guess that just goes to show you how completely unrefined his palate is. Just kidding. Love the huz.

Tonight I'm going to search for another fun quinoa recipe to make and well let you know how it goes tomorrow. That is if I actually bother to cook tonight. Don't hold your breath.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Can vampires be vegan?

I have now had three nightmares concerning my recent lifestyle change. So weird considering that I rarely, if ever, have dreams. I've heard this means that I'm so continually exhausted that my brain is too tired to even bother working at night time. Sounds about right lately.

But anyway, my second dream was last weekend just after getting back from spending Mothers Day with the fam in Philadelphia. My mom was trying to scare me out of veganism at dinner telling me that I'll end up with deformed babies because of the B-12 and Folic Acid deficiency that can easily occur if you don't eat healthfully and take vitamins while on a vegan diet. That night, I dreamt I was prego and the doctors were all scared of my baby bump and would come nowhere near it telling me I was having a demon baby. Then I ended up having a baby and it was a little kitten that looked just like Tundra (my own cute baby kitty)! Then I woke up. I have no idea what the meaning of this dream is, but if eating a vegan diet while pregnant results in giving birth to cute kittens, that sounds alright to me.

My most recent dream was this past weekend, again while in Philadelphia. (I notice that all of my dreams have to do with Philly... maybe there's a lot of negative anti-vegan energy coming my way from those parts...) My parents had a graduation party for my sister (and me by default as well since we're graduating in such a quick succession) and I was talking to one of my parents' lifelong couple friends about books. The wife is a crazy reader just like me and we were discussing my mild obsession with adolescent fiction, especially vampiresssss. (Yes, I have read Twilight. Yes, I do watch the movies. No, I'm not ashamed of myself.)

There was also a lot of discussion of my vegan diet. These two discussions combined and created an uber nasty nightmare. I can't remember the beginning of it too well, but I do remember the end. A pack of vampires was chasing me and trying to get me because I was a vegan and the only way to stop them was to kill my kitty who was on a runaway train. So I was running to try and save the love of my life and try to evade the vampires, but of course they have super-human speed, so I couldn't. Just when the vampires were about to get me, I woke up all panicked. I was super freaked out so I went to get a drink of water and it was then I realized that my nightmare was actually quite comical. However, during the dream it was extremely terrifying. Maybe if I'd stayed asleep long enough all the vampires would have died due to a garlic overdose from my blood. I have started using way too much of it since I became a vegan...

I thought I remembered that the vampires in my dream were also vegans. But when I thought about it, I realized that that made no sense. Vampires can't be vegan. Last time I checked, no blood in celery. 

I think my family's favorite part about me becoming a vegan are my increasingly absurd dreams about it... 

But anyway, this past weekend I was back in Philadelphia to attend my sister's graduation party and ceremony. I assumed that this grad party would have nothing I could eat, so I went shopping on my way home and got all the ingredients for a yummy garbanzo bean (or chick pea, but garbanzo is so much more fun to say, garbaaaaaanzoooo) salad. I think the madre was a bit offended by this. "Did you actually think I'd throw a party without taking your dietary needs into consideration?!" Ummm, yes? But, I was glad to be proven wrong. 

Look at how much yummy yummy vegan food I could eat at the party!!

I was such a lucky little vegan! My mom even told people who called up and asked what to bring that they should make something vegan friendly! What a good madre I have!

Not only that, my mom made me a vegan graduation "cake." Last weekend when I was home, I was lamenting the fact that I could never have another cake again (and yes I realize you can make vegan cakes, but I was in the mood to be melodramatic). Sooo, the madre made me a cake! I LOVED IT!!!

A plate of roasted red pepper hummus with cucumber letters! How creative is she! However, by the end of the night when the huz, my sister and a friend got hold of it, it did not look so good.

That was the best we could come up with. I think we need to join a Scrabble club and hone our skillz. Any possible definitions for nags-crap? I think it's the poo of old unhappy ladies. Just a guess.

But all in all, I was happy and stuffed and full of vegan yumminess after the party. Success in my book.

Friday, May 14, 2010

I'm loving it. (No, not McDonalds)

What am I loving, you ask? I'm loving the fact that you can throw tofu in almost any recipe that calls for sautéed chicken and it'll be delicious! (However, as a side note, you can technically not 'be loving' anything. 'To Love' is a stative verb and therefore cannot be used in progressive tenses. Either you're in love, or you aren't. So McDonalds is not only making us fat, they're teaching us bad grammar as well. F you again, McDonalds.)

But anyway, I made a quick and easy recipe I used to make all the time with chicken tonight, but instead I threw in some soy goodness, aka tofu. It was delish.

Here's the recipe:

1 package extra firm (yesss please) tofu
1/2 jar orange marmalade
1/2 jar hot (because I do like it hot. If you're a wet blanket, go for mild.) salsa
2 tblsp olive oil
3 cloves fresh garlic
crushed red pepper flakes
6 servings brown rice

So first I always start the rice since it usually takes about 20 minutes to cook. Follow the directions on the back of your box. You can also use white rice if brown rice doesn't float your boat. But since you're reading a vegan blog I'm assuming you actually care about your body, so use brown.

After getting the rice started, drain and cube the tofu. After that, heat your oil in a pan and add in the fresh garlic and cubed tofu. Sauté them together for two or three minutes then add the marmalade, salsa and crushed red pepper flakes to taste. Let it all simmer together for about 8-10 minutes. Serve over rice.

And there is your quick and easy version of Sweet and Spicy Tofu. Super yum.

Here's a little photojournalism to help you on your way.

Sautéing the tofu with the oil and garlic.

Adding in the salsa and marmalade.

Finished product.

Now I'm obviously not a food photgrapher so don't let my photos scare you off. I promise it's super delish.

For our second course tonight, we had a chicken.

It was scrumptious if I say so myself.

And for dessert I made some banana whip! Sooo good! Just freeze some bananas, cut them into pieces and blend them in a food processor. They come out having an ice cream-y consistency. You can then put whatever toppings you desire on top. I did granola tonight. I think it would be absolutely dreamy with some carob chips!

Banana whip is perfect for those of you like me who refuse to eat bananas once they get spots on them. I only like my bananas under ripe and greeeeeen. What can I say, I'm a banana racist.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I feel like I've been cheated on.

So while carob chips may have been the best discovery ever, I definitely made the WORST discovery ever yesterday at the grocery store...

I was going to make a  yummy vegan friendly chili recipe a friend gave me and I decided it would be fun to add in some "ground beef" veggie crumbles. I went to the freezer section where they keep them and  decided to check the ingredients just for the heck of it. What can I say, I'm spontaneous like that. And that was when I saw it. Morningstar veggie products have milk and egg in them! I then frantically checked all their other products that I'd bought previously and they ALL have freaking milk and egg in them.

I feel violated. Here I am, writing my cute little blog about being such a good little vegan, and I am a total liar. Yes, I didn't know. But still. I feel like Morningstar cheated on me. There we were, having a wonderful relationship, a relationship I thought would last for ever and ever and BAM! Morningstar was freaking cheating on me. Most upsetting. So now I have to feed all the rest of my yummy veggieburgers to the huz. At least they won't go to waste. It does no one any good to waste food.

When I first became a vegan, a friend advised me to always read labels and that a lot of things that appeared vegan friendly really weren't. I obviously did not follow directions. There's another point for my second grade teacher. I'm still getting screwed over for not listening to directions...

So the moral of this story is Morningstar products are not good for vegans.

After this I went in search of veggieburgers that are vegan friendly. I was having horrific visions of summer barbecues where I am stuck eating only the lettuce and tomatoes and other condiments. However, Gardenburger's Black Bean Chipotle Burgers are vegan friendly. All other Gardenburger products that were at my store are not... So, at least I found one burger I can rely on this summer. I'm not sure it was worth the crazy freezerburn I acquired by reading every single label in the freezer section, though. 

Ok, getting back to the chili... I ended up making the chili without the veggie crumbles, obviously, but it was still yum. Here's the recipe:

•2 tablespoons (2 turns around the pan) olive or vegetable oil
•1 medium yellow skinned onion, chopped
•1 large red pepper, seeded and chopped
•1 large green pepper, seeded and chopped
•1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
•4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
•1 cup pale beer or vegetable stock/broth
•1 (32- ounce) can crushed tomatoes
•1 (14-ounce) can black beans
•1 (14-ounce) can dark red kidney beans
•1 tablespoon ground cumin
•2 tablespoons chili powder
•1 tablespoon cayenne hot pepper sauce, several drops
•1 teaspoon coarse salt
•1 cup spicy vegetarian refried beans

Here's what I used.

Over moderate heat, add oil to a deep pot and combine onion, peppers, and garlic. Saute for 3 to 5 minutes to soften vegetables. Deglaze pan with beer or broth, add tomatoes, black beans, red kidney beans, and stirring to combine.

Don't the veggies look all pretty?

Season chili with cumin, chili powder, hot sauce, and salt. Thicken chili by stirring in refried beans. Simmer over low heat about 5 to 10 minutes longer, then serve up bowls of chili. You can then top it with scallions, tomatoes and tortilla strips if you like.

This recipe was adapted from a recipe of Rachel Ray's to be vegan-friendly.

Here's the finished product.

When I made it, I decided it didn't seem spicy enough so I put in an extra jalapeno pepper and, because I didn't have cayenne pepper hot sauce, I put a tablespoon of actual cayenne pepper in. Woah, hotness. The worst was that I had the juices from cutting the jalapeno on my hands so when I went to wipe my nose I literally burned it off as all the juices from the jalapeno got up in there. It was horrible. But the chili itself was good. I'm sure the hotness didn't help my poor, inflamed stomach lining. Again I am not listening to directions and avoiding spicy food like my stomach doctor told me to... One day I'll learn my lesson. Maybe. Until then, Mrs. Vugdaveen can continue to haunt me. (You know she was a horrible teacher with a name like that. Evil, evil lady.)

The chili was actually quite easy to make except that Rachel Ray is a liar just like Morningstar. She claims that there is only ten minutes of prep time, but that is a total under exaggeration, at least for me. Excuse me, Rachel Ray, but I apparently am not the vegetable cutting machine you expect us to be. I happen to care about my finger tips.

This recipe also makes much more than four servings. The huz has had to eat it for dinner the last few nights in a row. Poor huz.

So this past weekend we took a small excursion to a land called Philadelphia for Mothers Day. The fam wanted to get pizza one night for dinner so I asked the paps to get me a vegan option. I asked for a cheeseless veggie pizza. Apparently, this was way too much for Dominos to comprehend. My poor paps had to argue with three people at Dominos that no, he did not want cheese and that yes, he understood he was getting charged for each vegetable topping. It would seem Dominos does not know the meaning of life without cheese. So after much debate, Dominos finally allowed the paps to order the pizza he was paying for. Even after all that fuss, the pizza was super delish. Both the huz and the paps approved even though they are cheese lovers to the core. The overabundance of veggies completely masked the fact that the cheese was missing.

However, after all that, the pizza was still not vegan friendly. Dominos had coated the crust in garlic butter. I was a good little vegan though and did not eat the crusts and gave them to the huz instead. I must say, though, that you forget how good butter tastes when you don't eat it for a few weeks. I had to start stopping an inch from the crust so I got no butter taste. I have very weak self-control, especially when it comes to dairy. Yum.

But then I remind myself where that nasty stuff comes from and I'm all good again.

Obviously even though this was a vegan pizza, it is still not the most healthy. Look at all that oil! I'm totally going to blame it on the butter crust. Any detective would be able to see the crust was totally the culprit based upon the oil ring print suspiciously gracing the box.

I just froze bananas to make banana whip. I'll post pictures and the recipe tomorrow.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Holy Carob Chip!

It's quite possible that I made the best discovery EVER yesterday when buying trail mix. There was a mix that looked super delish, but it appeared to have chocolate in it which would be a no-go for me. I decided to read the label anyway just to see if maybe I was going to get lucky and the chocolate would be dairy-free. And lucky did I get! It wasn't even chocolate in my trail mix, but carob chips. I'd read about these weird alien things in my hippie vegan cookbooks, but I assumed they would be all vegetable-y. Instead, carob chips are fraternal twins to chocolate chips. Unless you look close, no way can you tell who's who.

Not only that, but carob chips are scrumptious! I think I like it better than chocolate. They have kind of a spicy aftertaste. I can't describe it, so you may as well go buy some and try it. Or wait it the next time I come to visit and bring you a batch of carob chip cookies (made without egg and butter to be vegan-friendly of course).

You do have to be careful though as one of the unfortunately similarities of carob chips to chocolate chips is that they're both bad for the waistline. Boo. However, if you're eating a vegan diet, a few carob chips won't hurt you as almost all of the fat and cholesterol in our diets come from the animal-nasty foods. So, I'm good to have a carob chip cookie, are you?

Being a vegan is actually kind of fun because I keep expecting all this food to taste like crap so when it surprises me and tastes good (and usually it tastes much better than good) it's like I just won the lotto. Too bad it is only the food lottery and not the real money one. But, I take what I can get.

I made fresh salsa for dinner tonight since I had leftover cilantro from our Cinco de Mayo extravaganza. No need to waste food.

I chopped up about half a carton of grape tomatoes, 1/4 an onion and 1/4 cup cilantro and stirred it all together and voilà! (As a side note: it seriously just took me five minutes to get the accent over the a to make that an appropriate French word. Another reason to hate the French in my book.)

Keen-what?! (Emphasis on the what a la Ebonics phonetics)

So apparently Quinoa isn't pronounced key-no-ah like I have been saying, but rather keen-wah.

Whatever. Way back when when it was the staple of the Aztec diet, it was kinwa. This is just another horrible example of how English takes a word, messes with its spelling and makes it utterly phonetically undecodable just to screw with us. No wonder everyone hates our language. (Trust me, they do. I teach ESL.)

But no matter how you say it, this is a grain you should acquaint yourself with, vegan or not (and you should totally be a vegan).

One of the main arguments for eating meat is that animal flesh (and yes, it is flesh you are eating) is a complete protein. We as humans need an essential set of amino acids that build and make up protein within our bodies. These amino acids are all found in animal meat. It is more difficult to have the proper amino acid intake when eating a vegan or vegetarian diet. However, it is not that hard and definitely not impossible. That's what's so great about Quinoa. It is a complete protein, just like meat. All of your essential amino acids are there! The bad news is, though, that Quinoa is one of the few complete proteins in the vegetable kingdom. Sad face.

But that doesn't mean that vegans need to eat Quinoa at every meal. There are plenty of combinations of foods that, when eaten together, provide all the essential amino acids that you would find in meat. For a quick synopsis, click here. Basically, if you combine a grain with a nut, or a grain with a bean, you'll be getting the same amino acids you would be getting by eating flesh. (Ew, flesh.)

There is an extremely bright side to this, though! If you get your essential acids through a plant-based diet, your food is in and out and doesn't have the chance to mess around with all your tubing (all 24 feet of it). Think of what would happen if you threw a slab of meat outside and let it sit for three days. It would rot and get totally rancid and disgusting. That's what's happening when you choose to eat meat. It takes our bodies 72 hours to process meat. On the inside we're running a temperature equivalent to a nice and toasty central Florida day. As that meat sits in our systems for those 3 days, it basically begins to rot inside of you. Filth.

I'm not trying to argue that no one or no animal is meant to eat meat. However, I think if we compare our internal structures, it's obvious that as our bodies have adapted and evolved, we no longer are made to process meat. Take a jungle cat, like a Jaguar. Their intestines are crazy short, so the meat they eat is in and out in a day. It doesn't sit around and cause problems in their systems for days on end. These cats will usually go and rest for days after a feeding as well as their bodies need to recover from the energy expended in digesting their meal. I don't know about you, but I definitely don't have that time or energy to spend just on recovering from a meal.

Although my opinion is clear, it's obviously your own choice what you want to do and eat. But if you are going to pick a meat to eat, at least eat fish and steer clear of pork and beef. Fish is the easiest for our bodies to deal with where as pork and beef are torture for your poor grumbly tumbly.

So, now that I'm done with my lecture (and it was quite riveting if I say so myself...), I'll move on the recipe section of tonight's blog. While you may object or disagree with the above sentiments, there's no way you could disagree with my Cinco de Mayo extravaganza's yummy deliciousness (and it was totally vegan!!).

First, I made a super yum guacamole. 3 avocados (make sure they're squishy when you squeeze them), half an onion finely chopped, tomatoes (I use about 20 grape tomatoes cut into fourths), the juice of one lime, fresh garlic, salt and pepper, and chopped cilantro. Mix it all together and you've got beautiful yumminess in a bowl. It's always a pleaser. Add some fresh hot peppers (like jalapeño) if you want some extra spice. Serve with your favorite chips.

Then I made the best recipe ever. Black beans with Quinoa. You all definitely need to try this. Even the meat-loving huz gobbled it up. You'll need:

3/4 cup Quinoa
2 tblsp. oil (I like olive)
1 1/2 c. Vegetable Stock
1 onion
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 can black beans
1 can corn
1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
Salt and Pepper
1/2 c. chopped Cilantro

So now, that you have everything. Make it.

Sauté the chopped onion and garlic in the oil till they're a bit brown. Then throw in the Quinoa and the veggie stock. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat, add the spices, cover it, and let it simmer for 25 minutes. Drain and rinse the beans and corn then mix them and the cilantro in with the cooked Quinoa. It's uber delish. If you like it hot (and who doesn't, nudge nudge wink wink) add a little extra cayenne pepper.

I then made myself a margarita garnished with a strawberry (organic strawberry of course).

So I am now looking at the time and realizing that this blog took wayyyyy longer to get through than it should have. I have a feeling the margs had something to do with  it....

Monday, May 3, 2010

I think I'm being subconsciously tortured.

So I had a nightmare about eating meat last night. No, seriously.

I can't remember anything else, but I was at my parents' house in their old kitchen before it was remodeled and I was standing there with someone (I think it was my Nannie??) and I was munching down on a yummy slab of roast beef (which is super awkward because I've always hated it and would never eat it even when devouring innocent animals was totally my thing). So I was eating around the outside of my slice of roast beef where it was well done; then I got to the middle where it was pink and bloody. We'll call it medium-rare. That is when I flipped out in my dream because I realized I was eating meat and had a total spaz and my Nannie let out a very horrible, evil laugh. Then I woke up. The end.

I may actually be traumatized from this horrific experience.

I'm going to blame that episode on being super cold because we turned the air conditioner on for the first time last night and it blasts right on my head. It is a proven fact that if you're cold, you're more likely to have nightmares. You can quote me on that.

Beside my nightmare, I almost starved to death this weekend. Some friends came to town and we went out to a super cute restaurant, Good, in the West Village. However, I don't think there could have been a less vegan-friendly place in all of the city. One of my friends came to my rescue and told the waiter I was a vegan (which I am realizing is an important thing to do when eating out... there seems to be animal byproducts in everything). So then at least the waiter was on board helping me find something that worked for my diet.

At first I thought I'd get the carrot puree soup. But no, it was made with chicken stock. Then I thought I'd get the hummus. But no, they mixed in parmesan. After that, all that was left was olives (I ate two bowls almost and got effing oil on my pretty red dress which is totally their fault since they didn't have non-oily vegan-friendly fare. Good, we aren't all good. That's all I'm saying.) and the side dishes. So finally I ended up with a dinner of grilled asparagus, sautéed zucchini and steamed green beans with pesto. However, this was only another disappointment as the pesto also had parmesan in it... boo. Sooo my lovely expensive dinner consisted of: olives, zucchini and asparagus. It was yummy, but horribly balanced. There was no vegan-friendly protein... I have a feeling this will be an issue many times over when moving forward. Moral of the story: tell waiters you're a vegan so they can help and carry trail mix or a vegan-friendly snack so you don't wither and die when there's nothing you can eat.

The next morning, we all went out to brunch at a diner. It was then I realized brunch is the least vegan-friendly meal EVER. Pancakes? nope. Waffles? nope. French toast? nope. Omelets? nope. Eggs? nope. Bacon? nope. Sausage? nope nope nope. All that was left for me was toast sans butter. Or possibly hash browns depending on how they're cooked. And although I did just register for the marathon, I seriously don't think I need to go and carboload on bread and potatoes. Sooo, I ended up getting a veggieburger for brunch. It did not look appetizing at all. Picture a teeny, tiny bun (most likely made to suit little elfin hands or else the non-existent appetites of the women on the Upper East Side) and a huge fluorescent green patty. However, I was a good sport, so I dumped a ton of ketchup on it and went for it. Interestingly enough, it was really quite delicious. The fluorescent green actually came from super scrumptious lima beans. Who would have thought? I used to hate those things so it was a very exciting discovery. Very exciting indeed.

So yes, I almost starved to death this weekend. But as you can see, I somehow managed to survive. You're lucky I have such a fight in me.

When I went to eat my breakfast this morning, I noticed a horrendous oversight in my grocery store's labeling abilities.

They're lucky I have the smarts and can read labels and know that my organic Weetabix is actually all yummy grains and totally animal-nasty free. However, if I was a slightly less smart vegan, they may have lost $5.89. That would obviously have gravely affected their profit margin for the day. Who else in my area is going to spend $6 on a box of straight-up wheat? My point exactly.

On that note, I'm off to bed. Pray for no more meat-consuming nightmares. They scare me.