Category Archives: Uncategorized

still doin’ what I do, vegan-style

I always hate when I follow a blog and that blogger mysteriously disappears one day. One day they vanish and you wonder, did they get hit by a bus? ARE THEY OKAY?! You become close to your blogging community and once a regular poster drops off, it messes with the equilibrium.

This time, I was the Mysteriously Disappearing Blogger. My reasons for becoming the dreaded MDB are lengthy, and I won’t bore you with the details. Major life changes, big break-up, yadda yadda… but falling off the vegan wagon was not the cause. I’m still goin’ vegan, PLANT STRONG 4 LYFE. Things just sort of fell apart. I didn’t feel like my blog was very informative–and before/during my break-up, I stopped cooking for a while. Cooking for One was decidedly depressing. I’d open my pantry and cry. I’d pour myself a lonely bowl of cereal with almond milk a couple times a week when I actually felt like eating, and I lost 10 pounds. There’s not much to be food-blogged about that.

That brings me here. I still haven’t been doing much cooking because I’m now shacking up with a PROFESSIONAL (who I “converted” to veganism, no less!). He cooks, I clean, we’ve got a routine. We’ve been toying with the idea of starting a brandy-new vegan food blog together, but we’re both kind of lazy, unmotivated people so it’s been a lot of talk and no action (so far). I’m fairly certain that it would be an entertaining read–nerdy, photo-filled, humorous–probably not the worst thing on the internet. So we’ll see.

In the mean time, I just wanted to say that to anyone who feared I might have been hit by a bus, I’m alive! And if the New Man and I decide to fulfill our venture into full-on vegan food blogging, you guys will be the first to know.

When in Philadelphia…eat all of the vegan food

Greetings, folks! We returned yesterday from our eastern seaboard adventure. We decided to keep our summer vacation cheap and simple by visiting friends in Philadelphia. Driving the 13 hours and sleeping on our friends’ trundle bed proved to be the most fiscally efficient way to get out of town for a few days, and it made for quite the vegan adventure. Can I just say that I loved Pennsylvania way more than I anticipated? Largely this is due to the complete lack of research I did (I am a control freak and I plan our vacation itineraries to a T–but since we were visiting friends, I relinquished my inner control freak and got to do this crazy thing called “going with the flow”). The small amount of research I did do before we embarked on our journey was to scout out some restaurants along the way where we could pick up some filling vegan fare. Man oh man, did I luck out.

I didn’t take as many photos as I normally do on vacation, but what I lack in pictures I will try to make up for in vivid descriptions of the sumptuous fare I indulged in. Let’s start from the beginning: I packed a lot of vegan snacks for the road. Bananas, clementines, pumpkin clusters, cashews, and clif bars, oh my! Unfortunately that was where the healthy eating began and ended. I indulged in so much fatty delicious food that I fear it will take me a month to burn off all those excess calories. Point in case, I nearly croaked during my treadmill run today after my week of splurging.

Cleveland

Drew Carey would have you believe that Cleveland rocks, and while I can’t say definitively that it doesn’t, it was definitely the low point of our trip. We arrived in Cleveland at about 11:30 pm eastern time. We intended on waking up around 7 so we could make it to Cleveland Heights to grab breakfast at one of the few restaurants in the area that offers vegan breakfast substitutions, Tommy’s, but 7 turned into 8 and we didn’t hit the road til 9. By the time our not-so-trusty GPS navigated us to Cleveland Heights, it was already 9:30, and we didn’t exactly have time to linger over breakfast. We wanted to check out the Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but breakfast took longer than we’d anticipated so we didn’t get to spend near enough time in the museum. I’d go back just to do the museum again, but there didn’t seem to be much else in town to warrant a second trip.

Tofu scramble with fruit and dry wheat toast at Tommy’s

The tofu scramble was okay but the broccoli was a little on the (monstrously) large side. It was a good, hearty breakfast before the second leg of our journey, though.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame entrance. I don’t know what the plaque below the guitar said, but the building is sort of reminiscent of the Louvre, no?

The line for tickets was crazy long and we sped through the museum like it was our job. We picked up some collectibles on our way out (a shot glass for him, a pint glass for me) and were back on the road by noon.

Philadelphia

I expected Philly to be dingy and gross, thanks to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. In fact, it wasn’t (at least, Center City wasn’t). The best part is how vegan-friendly this city is. Even the most carnivorous of restaurants has at least one vegan option, for the most part. I’m always surprised by that as I hail from a very un-vegan friendly suburb of Chicago. We arrived around 6:30 pm and immediately set out to one of our friends’ favorite restaurants, Wrap Shack. I ordered the vegan volcano on a spinach wrap (not pictured, due to my excitement and ravishing hunger) and DAMN was it delicious. Black bean hummus is apparently a thing, and a delicious thing at that. We shared a pitcher of Yuengling, which might not be a vegan beer, but I’m less anal about that. We needed a drink and we wanted to have an authentic ole time in Pennsylvania.

We wound up at several bars that night and drank all of the beer in sight. Center City at night on a Saturday is just lovely and we had a blast.

We ended up at a bar called BAR (insert hipster joke about how it’s so cool that you’ve probably never heard of it) where “pickleback” shots are the specialty. I was too chicken to try one but it’s just a shot of whiskey chased by a shot of pickle juice. Our more courageous friends tried it and said it was delicious.

Sunday was my birthday and we spent it at a Phillies game, followed by a trip to a few bars and brew pubs. Monday, both of our friends were working so we spent the hot-as-balls day in Old City checking out all the historical sights, including the Liberty Bell and Ben Franklin’s grave. But first! We went to Green Eggs Cafe, where I had the most delicious tofu scramble to date (not pictured) which was served with rosemary potatoes. I would go back to Philadelphia just for those potatoes. No joke.

We made a pitstop at an all-vegan pizzeria after touring Old City, which was kind of sketchy but hit the spot.

Daiya and seitan pepperoni pizza

Before leaving Tuesday morning, we stopped at Greens Eggs Cafe again and I had some delicious vegan french toast that rivals that of Herbivore in San Francisco.

This came with non-dairy whipped cream and strawberry deliciousness. (This one isn’t served with rosemary potatoes, so we shared an order, obviously.)

Gettysburg and Pittsburgh

We decided to stay in Pittsburgh on the way back to attend a Pirates vs. Cubs game. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but my boyfriend’s life goal is to tour every ball park in America. Every city we go to, we either attend a game or a ballpark tour if the team is traveling. We had great seats in left field, three rows up, and a home run was caught four people down in our row. So, I was even on TV! How’s that for exciting?

Before Pittsburgh, we stopped in Gettysburg for about an hour and toured the battlefield. It was interesting and I’m glad we made it there.

We didn’t have time for vegan food pit stops in Pittsburgh, aside from some game time food…

Don’t let the name fool you: these are just fries seasoned with Old Bay. We first discovered Old Bay seasoned food in Philly and apparently, it travels as far west as Pittsburgh. They serve the fries with a cheesey sauce that I obviously didn’t eat. I think I need to buy some Old Bay!

While we didn’t have a proper meal, we did hang out at a couple of bars after the game. Penn Pilsner is pretty delicious, I found out, and Iron City isn’t so much. As we were driving back to our hotel, we somehow ended up at a casino (my first time) and apparently, I’m pretty good at Roulette. We each decided to play with just $20 and we won $30. I said I’d never go to a casino but somehow, after a few drinks, I was convinced. When in Rome…

And that was that. Sweet home Chicago was ours for the taking again at around 4 pm yesterday, and I went back to work today. So much good food, so much great beer, and so much fun with friends. We can’t wait to travel again. It was a whirlwind!

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there’s a place up ahead and i’m going…

There’s a time and a place for CCR, and that time and place is the classic, all-American roadtrip!

We’re taking our third trip of the year and things didn’t pan out quite as they were supposed to. Flight prices rose and unforeseen bills popped up (like the $600 I had to spend to fix the A/C in my car). So, instead of flying to Philly to visit our friends, we’re driving!

Some cringe at the idea of driving for 13 hours, but I say bring it on! We drove the same distance last year around this time–to Denver–and it was the time of our lives. My boyfriend has never been much of a fan of the classic roadtrip, and unfortunately my vision for us (singing along to CCR) is never fully realized, and is instead replaced by reality (me humming CCR quietly to myself as he snores in the passenger seat), but that’s okay! The thing I love about a good roadtrip is a) I haven’t seen much of the middle states, and a roadtrip is a great time to pay those states a visit, and b) I kind of love anything I get to build a soundtrack for. I’m a HUGE music nerd and I get super stoked about making the roadtrip playlist.

As a vegan, the stress of traveling tends to develop a new dimension. Some cities are more veg-friendly (San Francisco, Denver…), but then we find ourselves hanging out at halfway points (Cleveland) and finding a suitable vegan eatery is a tad more challenging. Or, there’s always that pesky little problem of being outnumbered once we get to Philly (three omnivores to one vegan) so at least a few days of my trip will be spent foraging, and probably eating my fair share of clif bars. (…And french fries. and beer.)

We’re running short on time, as we’re leaving straight from work on Friday so we can make it to Cleveland Friday night as a stopping point. Clearly, as the resident music nerd, a trip from the midwest to the eastern seaboard wouldn’t have been complete without paying the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a visit. From there on Saturday, we’ll drive straight to Philly and spend two days there. Monday, as both of our friends are working, we have the day to ourselves, where we’ll be eating at a vegan pizzeria that I’ve already scouted out. Tuesday morning, we take off for Pittsburgh (possibly taking a detour to Gettysburg, because why not?). We’ll be spending a short while in Pittsburgh so we can catch a Pirates vs Cubs game and eat some more yummy vegan fare. Wednesday morning, we’ll take off for the last leg of our trip so we can be back at work on Thursday. It’s a whirlwind!

I’ve never been further northeast than Columbus, OH, so if you’ve been to Cleveland, Pittsburgh, or Philly, I’d love to hear about your favorite vegan restaurants. Pittsburgh and Philly don’t seem to be too difficult–it’s Cleveland I’m worried about!

I hope to return next week with photos and stories of my travels. My birthday is this Sunday and drinking good beer with good friends in a new city isn’t too shabby of a way to celebrate.

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don’t cry for me, oniontina

I am taking a short break from cooking and cleaning for my little gathering tonight to report that onions made me cry not once but twice today. I mean tears pouring from my eyes. I’ve gotten a little misty-eyed chopping onions before but NOTHING like today. It was pure misery.

Onions are sadistic little bitches.

The official spread for tonight includes…

  • Fresh salsa
  • Quinoa black bean dip
  • Tortilla chips and pretzels
  • Buffalo fried seitan with vegan ranch
  • Four small flatbread pizzas (one vegan for me, one vegetarian for my friend, and two sausage for the boys)
  • Vegan rocky road cookies (this time featuring macademia nuts!)
  • Hummus and veggie tray (provided by my wonderful friends)
  • Lots and lots of beer

It’s definitely way more food than four need, but we’re feasting if not for just the enjoyment of it! I don’t get to see these friends often as they live quite a hike away, so why not?

I hope to post some pictures of the deliciousness tomorrow. I’ve been nomming on the cookies all day, I have to admit. I made them really small so I almost don’t feel guilty for already eating 3.

The funniest thing I heard yesterday came from my coworker, whom I told I was hosting a small gathering. “Well what are you going to do? Play games, watch movies? You just don’t strike me as much of a drinker at all.” Ha! Bottoms up!

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breakfast for dinner

Who doesn’t like breakfast for dinner? Especially when you don’t feel like cooking, as breakfast tends to be super duper easy to fix. I had some veggies that I needed to use before they went bad and I had some tofu. I considered my fave, red thai curry, but I would need to stop at the store to get coconut milk and basil so instead, voila! tofu scramble!

I somehow wound up only using green veggies and I put some soy sausage chunks in it, so in my head I was calling it “green ‘eggs’ and ‘ham.'” Where would I be without Dr. Seuss?

I seasoned the scramble with a few squirts of Braggs liquid aminos, 2 tbsp nutri yeast, 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp chili powder, and a little bit of garlic powder for good measure. The recipe I use calls for curry powder but I really dislike Indian curry! So I try to get creative each time. I don’t know how the above mixes for a decent taste, but it does. I don’t question it.

Leftovers means I’ll be having breakfast for LUNCH tomorrow, too! Man. I just really freaking love breakfast.

Although I wasn’t in the mood for it, I (begrudgingly) worked out after work today. Since it was a running “off” day, I did the elliptical. My heart rate never exceeded 160 and I was pouring sweat, so I find it really interesting how much higher my heart rate gets when I run. I was definitely sweating more today than I do when I run. I’m no doctor, but I find that bizarre.

I was planning on doing some weights but right when I got off the machine, the gym was inundated with meatheads. It’s usually pretty quiet in there when I go. Most people who work out there work out during lunch, so I rarely see more than two others while I’m there after work. It’s quite small so if there are three men hogging the weights, it’s just uncomfortable. I’m self-conscious in the gym as it is and it takes most of my willpower to talk myself into using the treadmill in the presence of others…so weights? Forget about it. So I did the lat pull down machine and bailed. I’m hoping to get more done tomorrow–fewer people are usually there on Fridays. I really need to learn to not make excuses like I just did. I should just get in there and do my thang. Who cares what other people think? I just hate the judgment that goes on at the gym. I’m overweight, but at least I’m doing something about it. I don’t need your judgmental glare and I certainly don’t need you peering over to my machine to see what level/incline/time/calories burned I have under my belt. People are so nosy.

I have to visit the doc soon. I’m eager to see if my blood pressure has lowered after 2 months of veganism and 3 weeks of steady exercise. I’d love to see my numbers. My blood pressure is always a little high when I see the doc (thanks white coat syndrome), but there have been a few times where it SKYROCKETED and my doc was really concerned. I’d like to see where I’m at now. I should probably buy one of those handy-dandy home blood pressure tests.

 

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Liebster Blog Award

I was recently nominated by Luminous Vegans and Former Fish Taco Fanatic for a Liebster Blog Award, and I’m flattered! I enjoy both of their blogs so much and I’m learning so much about my new lifestyle through their experiences. Some info about the award:

“Liebster is German and translates into English as “dearest” or ”favorite”. A Liebster Blog Award is given to talented bloggers who have less than 200 followers. So, in a way the award not only recognizes these bloggers as amazingly gifted in their own right but also as your very own personal favorites.”

How to participate:

  • Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
  • Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you.
  • Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.
  • Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed. (Some say just 3 or more blogs of less than 200 followers each)
  • Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment at their blog.

I think this is a really neat way to recognize blogs you enjoy and spread the word about them to your own followers. Without further adieu! I’d like to pass the torch over to…

(PS, sorry if you have 200+ followers, I didn’t do my research!)

Will Work for Veggies: This blogger has so much energy and is such a Renaissance woman! She’s currently finishing up grad school and I was initially drawn to her blog because she was completing a 30-day vegan challenge. I was doing something similar, you could say, because I wasn’t sure if my new lifestyle was going to stick. She was raised a vegetarian, which I think is fab!

Crash Test Vegetarian: This blogger really speaks to me because her mission is to create simple, affordable vegan recipes that everybody can enjoy. That’s precisely what I need because I’m busy and don’t want to mess with complicated recipes! On deck, I plan on trying her Tahini Soy salad dressing. I’m learning a lot about easy vegan meals from her!

I Used to be Fat(ter): Another great vegan blog with a health-foods focus. I was drawn to her blog initially because of her journey to a healthier life through her lifestyle change. I recently tried her delicious buffalo seitan recipe  (which I HIGHLY recommend) and am in awe of her before & after pictures. Very inspiring!

Such a fun idea–a big thanks to my nominators! 😀

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