Tag Archives: food

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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ideal running conditions

If I’ve learned anything during this short foray into running, it’s that my body and mind depend on a certain set of conditions to be met before and during my run. Those precise conditions are something I’m still trying to nail down.

I had a wonderful 3.15 mile run on a nearby trail this weekend. It felt effortless and smooth. I took a few very short walking breaks but only because there are a few very steep hills on the trail and I didn’t want to expend all my energy climbing them: the breaks weren’t a necessity due to fatigue or breathlessness, a fact I’m proud of. I’ve been anxious to get back on that trail, and I did so today after work. This run felt laborious, difficult, and I was absolutely exhausted. I only completed 2.46 miles and I took a few extra walking breaks that I didn’t take on Sunday (but I did complete a mental and physical challenge: climb one of the steeper hills).

Last week I ate a lot of processed junk and drank a lot of beer, so this week I’ve been paying special attention to my diet: clean eating, lots of fruits and veggies, no beer. I thought this would help my run today, but it didn’t. I started to retrace my every motion from Sunday. What made that run different?

On Sunday, the weather conditions were perfect. It was about 80 sunny degrees during my mid-morning run. About an hour previous, I’d downed two cups of coffee so I was probably still feeling a caffeine buzz. Let’s not forget that it was the weekend so I’d slept a delightfully long weekend sleep. Perhaps most importantly, I hadn’t spent 2 hours in the car and 8 hours working prior to the run.

Fast-forward to today: it was cloudy, humid, and buggy. I had spent 2 hours in the car and 8 hours working before my run. And, though I’ve been trying to eat cleanly, I did eat a clif bar around 1:30 (which was the last time I ate before my run) and my body could have been experiencing a sugar crash by the time I went for my run at 5.

I’m a very calculated person and I refuse to accept that one day, I can run 3 miles effortlessly and three days later, I struggle just to get through the first mile. I’d like to get a discussion going, hopefully from both the running novice and the running extraordinaire: what are your ideal running conditions in relation to diet, drink, time of day, weather conditions, mood, etc.? How do you get through the difficult runs, if you have them? Am I the only one that experiences such inconsistency?

On Sunday, I thought I could easily blast through a 5k and potentially shoot for an eventual (in a year or two) half-marathon. Today, I don’t even know if I could get through a 5k in under 50 minutes. Are these simply the growing pains of the young runner?

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kitchen successes & failures

I found myself with a strange craving for eggs the other day. I found this exceptionally bizarre because I really don’t find myself craving anything from my “pregan” days–not even cheese (though you’ll see below that I do tend to use daiya liberally nonetheless).

Not only did I want eggs, I wanted an omelette. A quick google search landed me on a potential recipe–basically, tofu scramble using silken tofu rather than extra firm–but it warned about the trickiness of flipping the “omelette” and keeping it all in tact. Silly me, I tried anyway. Here is the succession of my failure. I aptly refer to this as the tofu omelette mess:

Luckily, I don’t have too many kitchen catastrophes. I replaced tofu with seitan in my simple stir fry recipe and the results were sensational:

I’m a busy vegan lady and I don’t always have time to prepare everything from scratch. Luckily,it’s gardein and daiya to the rescue! Behold, “chicken” tender lettuce wraps with slices of daiya havarti (my number one most favoritest cheese substitute thus far):

So, that’s what I’ve been up to the past couple of weeks. How about you?

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scramble in the morning, scramble in the evening…

scramble at supper time… when tofu’s in your scramble, you can eat scramble any time!

I’m well aware that tofu scramble is a tried-and-true, and frankly, quite boring meal. Every vegan has their tofu scramble. Ho hum, nothing new here. I know this, yet I am going to write about tofu scramble for at least the second time, because I have recently discovered a product that takes tofu scramble from drab to fab!

I have already written about the fantastic health food store I stumbled upon last weekend, The Fruitful Yield. I had to make my second trip today because I needed a few things–and really, I just wanted to explore again. It’s amazing how I intend on picking up one item and I walk out with a full bag-o’-stuffs. It’s just hard to resist temptation when they have so many items I haven’t found anywhere else. I picked up three (THREE!) packages of the Upton’s Naturals seitan because at $3.09 a pack (I think prices went down?), it’s just impossible to beat. West Soy retails around here for about $7 per pack. I cannot resist a delicious, locally-owned company that puts out a wonderful seitan for over half the price. Just can’t do it!

I also walked out with cultured almond milk yogurt, pepperjack daiya (which I absolutely didn’t need, but it was there…and I’ve never seen it before in the flesh!), and two larabars (also didn’t need…but my boyfriend seemed pretty excited about the find so it was hard to say no). My total was only $20. I think that’s pretty rad. They also have vegan parmesan which I resisted the urge to buy–but good to know that it’s there! I find new things each visit I make.

The second grocery store we went to had more fantastic deals like 4 for $5 mangos, 3 kiwis for $1, discount walnut halves, the list could go on. I’m a very happy vegan today. I also recently stumbled upon a local farmstand that is open on Saturdays starting in May. The only Farmer’s Market I know of is only held on Fridays, which is a major bummer considering it’s a one block walk from me and I never get to check it out because of my work schedule. But finding this farm is really great news. I can’t wait to check out some locally grown organic veggies in just a month!

So let me get back to my point: this Upton’s Naturals chorizo-flavored seitan is what has taken my tofu scramble from drab to fab. I have made two scrambles this week, which shouldn’t be surprising if you’ve been following this blog–I tend to overdo foods I love, and seitan has quickly become one of my favorite meat replacements. I am guilty of frequently eating tofu scramble for dinner and then reheating the leftovers for breakfast (sometimes for a few days, depending on how much I cook at any given time). I’m a big advocate of planned leftovers. It makes the next day so easy! Completely takes the stress out of figuring out your meals for the day.

Without further ado, I call this simple scramble the This Is My Everest Seitan Scramble.

serves 3-4, or more!

1 block extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 package Upton’s Naturals chorizo-style seitan
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 crown broccoli cut into florets
1/4 to 1/2 yellow onion, diced
4-5 squirts Braggs liquid aminos
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp veg oil, for frying
optional: baby spinach leaves or other green leafy veg

You know the tofu scramble drill: warm your oil, fry your veggies and seitan for a few minutes, crumble the tofu, spray your Braggs, add your seasonings, and fry until your veggies are at desired consistency (I like mine slightly crisp) and tofu is heated through and uniformly seasoned. Tada!

pre-tofu. I won’t lie to you, I nearly considered eating as is because the seitan is that good

the turmeric and nooch give it that yellowy egg-like color

If you’re a single person like myself, you’ll have leftovers for the next several breakfasts. If you’re feeding others, this should satisfy a family of four. My boyfriend doesn’t like his veggies as crisp as I like mine, so the good news is this scramble is all mine. 🙂

it’s even carnivore-approved!

I’m thoroughly convinced my cats don’t even know what meat is. Whenever my boyfriend does happen to eat meat here and tries to give the cats a taste, they just sort of look at it and push it around with their paws. However, whenever there’s seitan in the house, they know something’s up! That’s how meat-like this product is. The texture is the best part: if you’ve ever eaten true Wisconsin cheese curds, it’s kinda like that. It almost squeaks when you bite into it. It’s a very appetizing texture. Don’t take it from me, though! Eat some seitan already! Your tummy will thank me.

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food, guilt, and glory

I’ve been feeling a little guilty about what I’ve been eating lately, and with good reason. My cooking has gotten lazy and sloppy. I haven’t had one of my green smoothie breakfasts in a few weeks. I’ve been forgetting to sprinkle ground flaxseed on my oatmeal. I’m pretty much the worst vegan. I feel especially bad when I see posts like this where the fruit and veggies look so good but I can’t pinpoint why I’ve stopped trying. I had a great time acquainting myself with all sorts of new meals when I first went the vegan route but it seems like now, all I have any interest in eating is vegan cupcakes, fried seitan, and carbs. Whoops.

So in an effort to change all that… I went to the store today and picked up a bunch of fresh produce with great intentions to cook some delicious meals this week. However, the grocery store is out of kale. It seems like every time I have plenty of kale at home, so do they. But then when I show up, kaleless, requiring a bunch of it, it’s all gone. Ugh. Stupid.

Since I haven’t been eating the most balanced meals, I don’t have a whole lot of food to report from the past week…but I will share the few pictures I do have.

I discovered that I have an affinity for the Indonesian Peanut Sautee at Noodles & Co so I tried to recreate it at home. This wasn’t exactly a home run. I used rice noodles, broccoli, green beans, red and green bell peppers, water chestnuts, tofu, bean sprouts, and a bottled peanut satay sauce. The sauce was not great. I am in search of a spicy peanut stir fry sauce I can make it home on the cheap & easy. If you can address this need of mine, lemme know!

On my way home from work the other day, I received email notification that one of the lovely ladies over at Turning VEGANese had posted this and thought, man that sounds good. I skimmed the post at stop lights and decided to make a pitstop at the grocery store to pick up some peppers. I stuffed mine with arborio rice, kidney beans, lightlife protein crumbles seasoned with homemade taco seasoning, and I baked in the peppers for about 30 minutes, topping with some daiya cheddar for the last 5 or so minutes. It was delicious.

The rest of the food this week that goes unpictured was mostly takeout. I hate myself for that. I also made some more buffalo fried seitan on Friday because I like to treat myself on the weekend and that has quickly become one of my favorite meals. I also, against my better judgment, picked up one of these at the grocery store and made it for lunch:

Was this worth the 7.79 I spent on it? Um, hell yeah. I’m ashamed that I succumbed to paying that much money for pizza, but damn it if it wasn’t delicious. I had never had any of the Amy’s Kitchen products and I can now say with certainty that I know what all the fuss is about! I chalked this up to a need for some major comfort food after a very odd and offputting craving for mac & cheese. I used to love cheese and I think I pretty much ate it every day at some capacity while I was a vegetarian. Since adopting a vegan diet, I have had zero cravings for cheese (despite occasionally using daiya and teese…but honestly, I have not once really NEEDED cheese)…until today. I wanted it in the worst way. So I got this Amy’s pizza and it, in all its cheeseless glory, completely satisfied me.

My boyfriend and I went for a nice 30 minute walk this morning as the weather is just gorgeous. Thank god, it dipped down into the 60s this weekend. I was getting really tired of the 80 degree March days. It is just the perfect temperature for open windows. No sweat or misery today, and the sun is shining.

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food & friends

As I mentioned in my last post, there was a lot of food made for my small gathering of four last night. I made salsa, quinoa black bean dip, buffalo fried seitan with vegan ranch, four individual-sized pita pizzas, cookies, and my friends brought a veggie tray with hummus. I thought for sure I would have a ton leftover. I should’ve known better! There was virtually nothing leftover aside from some quinoa black bean dip and a few cookies. The veggie tray was mostly finished off, but I sent what little was left home with my friends last night. The most satisfying part is that my friend’s husband, an omnivore, ate almost ALL of the buffalo seitan and vegan ranch. He loved it! That, to me, is the biggest compliment. He also loved the vegan cookies. I’m so pleased!

I meant to take a picture of ALL the food but unfortunately, in my haste, I didn’t capture it all. I do have a few photos though…

fresh salsa (I used this recipe minus the serano chiles)

quinoa black bean dip (I used this recipe and served cold)

rocky road cookies (I used this recipe and subbed in macademia nuts in place of peanuts)

Unpictured: four pita pizzas, buffalo fried seitan with vegan ranch, veggies, hummus, and of course, beer.

I may have eaten two cookies for breakfast this morning. But then we went on a 35 minute walk so I don’t feel too bad. It’s been about four days of lots of good food (too good) so it’s back to the grind tomorrow. If only food wasn’t so darn tasty!

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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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midnight snack

I don’t think fruit was intended to be eaten this way.

Especially by people who are trying to lose weight and have already overstayed their caloric welcome for the day.

Regardless, I needed a midnight 9 pm snack. I read somewhere today about caramelized banana peanut butter toast. And then I got to thinking. Who needs the peanut butter toast? How about some straight-up caramelized bananas?

It’s so easy–and so delicious–it should be criminal.

Easy Vegan Caramelized Banana
Serves 1 (or 2, if you’re keen on sharing, which I am not)

1 banana
1-2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp melted vegan “butter” (I used Earth Balance)
splash of vanilla extract

Slice your banana length-wise and then into smaller segments and add to a bowl. Melt butter in the microwave. Toss butter with banana slices until coated. Add brown sugar and vanilla and toss. In a frying pan over medium-high heat, add bananas and cook for a minute or two on each side. Don’t let the butter and sugar mixture caramelize too much because you’ll want to pour over your bananas once transferred to a plate!

look at all that ooey-gooey sauce

Mine were tender but I think I’d aim to have a slightly crisped banana with a tender inside. You have to be careful not to overcook, though, so I played it safe.

Eat, sigh, rejoice. Enjoy over soy yogurt or simply by itself. Life is delicious.

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I’ve been spending a lot of time talking about the couch to 5k and not a lot of time talking about food, so it’s time to switch things up.

The other day I had a hankering for pizza, but not Daiya pizza, just sauce and veggies. I’ve actually had this craving for about a month but every time we go to the store, the ONE pizza crust we found to be vegan has been missing. It was a generic brand and it’s like the execs of Jewel Osco just decided hey vegans, we’ve discontinued your pizza crust. Could I make my own crust? Well, yes. But that requires time, know-how, and probably bigger counters than I have in my teensy-weensy kitchen. So pizzaless I’ve been.

We paid a visit to Fresh Market about a week ago and a pizza crust caught my eye–Rustic Crust Old World. It looked so delicious and authentic and I thought there’s no chance it’s vegan. But it was! Should I have spent $5 on ONE crust? Well, no. But I did. And I was waiting and waiting until that familiar pang for pizza struck. It did so on Sunday.

I basically rummaged through my fridge for any and all veggies that looked like they were nearing iffy status and used them on this pizza. We’re talking orange peppers, green peppers, broccoli, spinach, onions. (As a side note, I find I purchase the same veggies week to week. I have really got to branch out.) The canned sauce I bought already had some spices in it but I thought hey, what the hell! Added some minced garlic, some oregano, some crushed red pepper, and voila.

The package says to bake this bad boy at 425 for 8-12 minutes. I thought it would take less time because it didn’t have any cheese or meat, but it actually took a little bit more than the 12 minutes advertised.

I’d really like to take a whirl at making my own pizza sauce from scratch because this canned sauce I used was a little on the sweet side for me. It did the job in a pinch, though!

I still have half the pizza in my fridge and it’s probably going bad by now. It was delicious and the crust was totally worth every penny–but the calories haven’t really fit with my diet plan so I’ve been putting off finishing it.

Switching gears…tonight’s dinner was borderline weird. Okay, more than borderline.

I was starving the second half of my work day. All I could think about was food. All I wanted to do was come home and binge on something salty. Then all I wanted was to stop and pick something up because I didn’t want to cook. By the time I got home, I thought that I’d just make do with what I could find. and then I got the bright idea to fry up some tofu!

I rarely prepare tofu a different way than pressing it and dry-frying it, then marinating it and adding it to whatever dish. I’ve actually never had tofu in anything that wasn’t Asian-inspired. I add tofu to my Thai dishes and with the exception of the few sauces and smoothies I’ve made with silken tofu, that’s about as creative as I’ve gotten. Sad, right? After the day I had I just really wanted some comfort food, diet be damned. So I fried some tofu.

But then came the dilemma: what is this tofu going to complement? I thought tacos sounded divine, but my taco shells went bad and I had virtually no veggies, so that was out…but I was really stuck on the taco idea and I have plenty of cans of beans, so I prepared what could possibly be the oddest, most bizarre combination of foods I’ve ever prepared: fried tofu, steamed broccoli, and pinto beans. What?

I know, very strange. And way too much tofu on that plate for any reasonable human to consume in one sitting. I used a variation of this recipe for the breading–really, the only variations I made were using whole wheat flour, and I nixed sage and subbed in oregano and a little bit of crushed red pepper (have I mentioned that I like it spicy?) I’d like to add the leftover tofu to a salad but I’m fresh out of lettuce and other garden greens. I haven’t decided what to do with the leftovers…but if there’s a will, there’s a way! What’s the weirdest combination of foods you’ve ever made?

I’m having some friends over this weekend and I’ve already promised to not make entirely vegan foods because there will be two very carnivorous men present, but my one friend is a vegetarian and will (hopefully) be very open to any new vegan treats I should try. I think I’ve already decided on making some salsa, some flatbread pizzas (just veggies for me, a cheese for her, and something with meat for the boys) and perhaps some chickpea chocolate chip cookie dough. What are your favorite vegan hors d’oeuvres? Bear in mind I have a very small kitchen and need a few low-maintenance foods to make that will be crowd-pleasers!

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classic waffles and sausage, veganized

I’ve written about vegan waffles a couple of times but since I’ve been eating such healthy smoothie breakfasts as of late, I haven’t gotten the opportunity to enjoy delicious, fatty hearty breakfasts of yesteryear…until today! The reason we made waffles this morning is twofold: 1) I needed a break from the smoothie regimen, even if it meant a caloric explosion in my belly, and 2) my boyfriend wants to learn how to cook a few vegan meals, which I think is really cute. I was going to teach him tofu scramble, but he’s not too into tofu scramble and I didn’t want to teach him something he didn’t have any interest in eating with me. Also, we’re starting with baby steps here. He’s a really “down home” kinda guy so it just made sense that I’d teach him how to veganize something as simple and ubiquitous as waffles.

I pulled up my veganized from-the-box recipe and made a sad face. I want to make my own waffles from scratch but all the recipes I’ve found incorporated more than one kind of flour and I currently only have whole wheat in the house. Bummer! Plus, I’m big on not wasting food and I still have this whole wheat pancake mix that needs to be used…so we veganized that, minus the oatmeal part because I don’t have any rolled oats.The revised vegan waffle recipe goes as follows:

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pancake mix
1 1/4 cups light Silk vanilla soymilk
1 tbsp ground flax seed + 3 tbsp water
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract

We simply topped with earth balance, maple syrup, a wee bit of confectioner’s sugar (some would argue that this isn’t vegan but I have to guess there are vegan versions available?), and served along side some fried soy sausages. Decadence! I was going to add some color with some sliced bananas but you know what, I just wanted to keep it simple today. There’s always next time. 🙂

I love the lighting, you’d almost not realize winter is still going on outside.

close up. mmm, calorie-laden food.

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