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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Food Field Trip

Yes, my life is so exciting that sometimes I visit new grocery stores. Actually, this trip was a bit more exciting than usual because I had a Groupon! This was my first time using one of the Groupons I've bought and I was a little nervous it wouldn't work out. But it did! And check out the haul:

For only $2.36! Well, kind of. I guess it was $17.36 - but the deal was $15 for $30 worth of food, so I think I did well. "Cheezy Pizza" flavor raw kale chips, pumpkin pie mix (I messed up! I wanted plain pumpkin!!), organic sunflower seed butter, sauerkraut, Vega protein powders (vanilla chai and chocolate) and carob-spirulina energy bites.
The Groupon was for a local health food store, Elm Health on 14th St. and 7th Ave in Manhattan. I had actually never heard of this place, despite working only a few blocks away. Inside, it is clean and sleek and not at all crowded. There is a wide variety of products but they only carry one or two brands of each product. I'm not super picky about that stuff but it's nice to have an option.
The store is bigger than I had expected and it's a bit randomly organized so I had to do quite a bit of wandering to find what I was looking for. There weren't many employees around to help either. Maybe I was looking in the wrong places, but I couldn't even find tempeh or tofu. Speaking of which, it was sort of difficult to pick what I did want to buy. I figured since I had a half-off deal, this would be one of my few chances to buy some foods I've wanted but don't actually feel like spending money on. Hence the kale chips, pumpkin, and sunflower seed butter. This is also the first time I've ever bought or tasted sunflower seed butter! That purchase was for a recipe I made tonight (more on that tomorrow) but I also tasted some off the spoon and I really like it! Very smooth and sweeter than I imagined.
Anyway, Elm Health was nice for a visit (with a coupon especially) but I can't imagine returning here often. The selection is a bit weird and the prices are confusing. Everything has two different prices on it! I wonder if any New York readers have been here - what do you think of the store? They do have a juice bar, which is always nice, and a well-stocked natural pharmacy. I may try to exchange the pumpkin pie mix for canned pumpkin and get a juice while I'm there but I much prefer Lifethyme in the West Village. They have a raw food bar and the guy who makes THEIR juices has dreads! Elm Health seems a little too slick for me, which sort of makes sense considering its proximity to Chelsea.
But still - $2.36!!

What would you buy if you had fifteen extra dollars at your favorite health food store?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Soup, Salad, Sandwich

So, it would appear that when you prepare enough food to last you through three to four days of hurricaning, you're going to being eating the same food for three to four days.
Everything has been the same. The one difference yesterday was that I didn't eat dinner, opting instead to get unfortunately toasty on gin and juice.
And so this morning, after my water, coffee, and gingerade kombucha (to hydrate, wake me up, and settle my stomach, respectively) I was dreaming about dinner. A hearty, comfort food dinner. The first thing that came to mind was grilled cheese and that thought settled decidedly. I don't often get cravings for food like that but when I do, I'd like to do it right. On my 15 minute break, I ran to Whole Foods, picked up an onion, tomato, some FYH Vegan Cheddar, and some Early Bird Multi Seed bread. Somehow, with lots of water, tabbouleh and salad, a peach, and the promise of a good dinner, I made it through the day.
So, with leftover lentil soup and an Amish dill pickle:

Okay, I can't really allow myself comfort food. I cooked it in the oven, so technically this is a baked cheese sandwich, but it was still really good. FYH melts better than this but I didn't want it to get too gooey. I also spread one side of the bread with the basil hummus from the other day, as I've heard of vegan quesadillas made with hummus and I thought the basil would lend a nice flavor. I was so stuffed I couldn't even eat the salad! That's saved for lunch tomorrow.
Do you have a favorite, ahem, recuperative food? Or are you all more responsible with the juice than I am?

PS - I just signed up for this vegan swap, if anyone else is interested. I've wanted to do one of these recently, but Lindsey is way more on top of things than I am.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

All Clear

Thanks for the well wishes, everyone. NYC pretty much lucked out with the hurricane. It looks like North Carolina and Vermont got/are getting the worst of it. There were high winds last night but I slept right through them. I took a walk this morning (camera-less) and there were some big old trees down, which is sad, but they mostly missed even the parked cars on the street. I hope others get off as easily.
Here are a few photos of the neighborhood yesterday, more to give you an idea of the hood than anything else. I went a different path this morning, to the more historic parts of Bed-Stuy, but there is an interesting character to a lot of this area, as well as a more recent turn towards community gardens and self-sustainability.

            An "Herban" Farm I volunteered at once - they have a small farmer's market on Sundays.

                                                        I love the one of Angela Davis!

                          Brownstones that always make me want to watch Spike Lee movies.

                                                   Yes, half of a car on top of a dumpster.

Anyway, onto the sustenance. When I went to sleep last night I had no idea if I'd wake up with power, water, or gas so I had prepared some overnight oats. (Even though I eat them all the time when we do have power and water.)

Here, with chia seeds, chopped peach, and coconut.

I made a salad and topped it with the tabbouleh I made yesterday and some basil hummus using this recipe. I took our basil plant in from the fire escape last night and I wanted to use up as much of the leaves as I could in case it wouldn't keep. I halved the recipe and it still made a ton. I used soaked and cooked chickpeas, shucked, left out the olive oil and added more chickpea cooking water. Toasting pine nuts was one of the best parts of making this - they smell so good! The whole meal was delicious all blended together.

The lentil-wild rice soup and chopped summer squash, carrots, and red pepper with more basil hummus.
It was a tolerable, mostly insidey day but I can't wait to go places and do things tomorrow. Getting a little stir-crazy, but I shouldn't complain if that was the worst of the troubles. Oh! Unfortunately, though, my parents, who were visiting my brother in CA are stranded there until Friday and Saturday due to flight cancellations! It looks like I will be paying a few extra visits to their cat and fish...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

From the Trenches

Hurricane Irene hasn't hit full-force here yet but life is certainly upside-downy. We started at work at 8:45, gearing up with a dark (and stormy) smoothie:

Spinach, blackberry, banana, lemon, ginger, agave.
Since all New York public transportation was scheduled to start shutting down at noon, we left work at around 11, just as it started to rain.
When we got back, I ate 2 rice cakes with hummus, took a short nap, brought the plants in from the fire escape (we now have a sweet potato vine twisting around the living room floor) and went for a walk around the neighborhood to see how everyone else was dealing. It wasn't actually raining most of the time I was out and about. I took a few photos on the walk, which I may post later, if anyone's interested. I ate a salad after the walk and started cooking for the next few days.
I made a tabbouleh:

And a hearty lentil soup.

This has carrot, zucchini, and beet greens along with lentils and wild rice.

With EB-slathered bread. I hope to do some bread-baking tomorrow. I did bake some chocolate mocha cupcakes tonight because sometimes you need a chocolate fix, even in the middle of a hurricane.

I used the chocolate cupcake recipe from VCTOTW, including 2 TBs of instant coffee powder. I also added chocolate chips, as per G's request.
Anyway, I hope you East-Coasties stay safe, electricited, and with potable water. My parents' cat is still at their place but my friend stopped by to feed and check on it. My dopey cat is sleeping right in front of the slightly open window with rain drizzling her. I did hear that evacuation shelters in the city do take in animals too, which is good. I also heard that the Trader Joe's Wine Shop line was 250 people long the other day. I'm gonna cook up some chickpeas and then tuck in with a book and some beer and hope for the best.

Friday, August 26, 2011


Hey guys. Today was a bit of a whirlwind day at work, with everyone trying to figure out if the store would be open or closed tomorrow. I'm still not sure on details but as it stands, I'm going into work at 8:45, staying 3 hours, and going home before the MTA subways and buses completely shut down, which seems like a weird waste but whatever. This is wild news, and I hope everyone who might be affected by Hurricane Irene stays safe.
So, breakfast:

Rice cakes with almond butter and banana. I also had some applesauce to complete the most intestinally boring breakfast ever. Might as well retire with my prune juice cocktail now.
Lunch, and a morning snack:

Oh yes, the oranges are coming back! Salad with sunflower seeds and mustard-balsamic-nooch-tahini dressing.
Another snack, kind of.

As I said, these ProBars are sort of meal replacements and this may not have been the most nutritive meal, but I had to eat on the run tonight. My parents are out of town this weekend, and I promised to stop in to feed their cat and fish for the next few days. I'm worried about the cat, being scared in the storm and all, but I'm also worried that I may not be able to get out to my parents' house if the MTA is shut down! So I fed the poor little kitty two days' worth, and I'm hoping for the best. I will stop over as soon as I can. If the storm is more talk than rain/wind I might try to bike over on Sunday. This storm makes me so sad for all the pets (and homeless animals!) that are too often not thought of or prepared for when natural disasters cause evacuations.
Anyway, when I got home I had a rice cake with hummus, tomato slices, and raw onion, and then I breathed all over G. Ha!
In other news, the lunch party is off, but I hope to make it up some other time. G and I did pick up some groceries for ourselves for the next few days (although he insists we didn't get enough). Reason # 775 that Farmers' Markets are awesome: I stocked up on organic fruits and veg for pretty cheap, with no hurricane lines or crowds. We got string beans, beets, chard, lettuce, salad greens, tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, peaches, and apples. Mostly things that are hearty and will last - as well as things that can be eaten raw or cooked. We're planning lots of soup, salad, and sandwiches. Hopefully we don't loose power or gas or anything.
Again, stay safe, guys. I'll hopefully be posting tomorrow!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Panic Post!!

Well, I'm not super panicking. I just figured I'd focus on that, since I didn't really eat anything interesting today.
Breakfast was a couple of dried apricots, a banana with almond butter, and a couple of blackberries. Then to the food pantry, where I bagged up 18 boxes of collard greens. Have you guys ever seen 18 boxes of collard greens?? Geez.
Since I don't take lunch breaks on food pantry days, I treated myself to one of these PRObars I bought the other day.

They are usually kind of expensive, but Lacey pointed out they're really meal replacement bars - and whole food ones at that - plus, these are on sale at Whole Foods right now, two for 5 dollars. Even cheaper when you consider that I ate half as a morning snack and half in the afternoon.
In the middle of those nibbles was leftover raw fajita veggies on some romaine as a salad. Salsa on top.

Dinner was a very boring two rice cakes and some crudites with hummus.
But what my post title is referring to is the apparently big-deal hurricane bound to hit the East Coast soon. How soon? I don't know! I had not been paying attention at all until G mentioned we might want to fill up our water bottles to stock up. I usually pooh-pooh hysterical warnings as exaggerations, neurotic as I am. Unless I'm the one panicking, the stress is unnecessary, apparently.
However, G and I were planning on having a casual lunch party on Sunday and now I'm wondering if the guests will show - or if there will be any food in the supermarkets by then. I'm trying to figure out if there's enough food in the pantry to serve eight people without supplemental groceries! I thrive on fresh vegetables - not bomb shelter canned food. But I guess it's a blessing, then, that I hoard pantry food and don't use it up. Do you guys have any interesting pantry-based recipes? I have lentils, dried chickpeas (yes, 2 lbs!), rice, bulgur, pasta... hmm and some frozen peas and edamame. What happened to that massive grocery trip G and I both just took?
Anyway, on a sort of related note, the storage shelf in our kitchen collapsed for the second time (looking back on that post, I didn't pay attention to weather warnings then, either.) And for the second time, we were pretty lucky to only crack one container and bruise a banana. However, the shelf is totally busted and unsalvagable. We brought it out to the garbage last night. Luckily, we live right up the block from a Home Depot and went and picked ourselves up some sturdy metal restaurant style minimalist shelving.

And after:

It looks a little bare for now, but I'm calling it "streamlined." Anyway, G is expecting some artwork in the mail to hang up, plus we have a little more room to get into the fridge. And! I was inspired to donate some cookbooks and a few little-used appliances. So, that's the update on the kitch sitch, not as though you all were wondering.
Do you have a favorite aspect of your kitchen? And who else is prepping for storm damage??

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Breakfast was an old classic, as it's pleasantly cool in the mornings lately:

Oatmeal, banana, raisins, and walnuts. 
Snack of an Amazing Grass bar. Lunch was salad:

Romaine, red pepper, mushroom, carrot, tomato with hummus, balsamic, and sriracha. Another snack of most of an apple before I dropped in on the dirty basement floor. Boo. Oh, and some rice cakes!
Pre-dinner was our last half cantaloupe. Juicy and delicious as ever, but I'm glad to not have to worry about a melon going bad in the fridge anymore.

Dinner was prepped last night. These raw fajitas are from Sweetly Raw, though I actually originally saw them on Jesse's site. (Thanks for the heads-up!)

My lettuce leaves were a little small and made the fajitas hard to eat but the flavor and texture was really good.
Gingersnaps for dessert.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back to the Grind

Glad you guys liked the farm trip post! I tried to appreciate every bit of food I was eating today.
 Breakfast was half a cantaloupe, followed by a Green Vibrancy Vega bar at work around 11.

I really love the little crunch and crisp of the sprouted buckwheat in these in contrast to the rest of the homogenous bar. There are also white chia seeds, which give a little texture.
Lunch was more leftover rice and sweet potato (4th meal of it! Leftovers are so great to have) with shredded lettuce, olives, tomato, and carrot. Mixed up with some tahini, mustard, and nooch.

I ate this, along with a nectarine outside in the park, wondering why all the office workers were standing around outside on their cell phones.
Then I went grocery shopping while G, on his lunch, went tandem grocery shopping. The only thing I bought that wasn't on my list was ginger snaps, are you proud of me? I also bought 2+ lbs. of dried chickpeas, haha. Since I was away all day yesterday, I didn't get to do all the chores I usually do on my day off. It stressed me out a little but not enough not to enjoy baby goats!!

Dinner was heavy with vegetable bounty:

Lettuce wraps with hummus, red pepper, carrot, mushroom, tomato, and zucchini.
Dessert was some ginger snaps and way too many dried apricots, oof. Nice job "appreciating" and "savoring," Maud. I'm probably also going to enjoy another berry boozer tonight.... Oooh, has anyone ever tried infusing with berries before?? That sounds really tasty, and a good way to use up the berries that go bad so quickly!

Farm Trip!!!

Yes this deserves three exclamation points! Today I went on a farm trip to Hearty Roots Farm in Tivoli, NY, about 3 hours upstate from the city. The trip was sponsored by Local Produce Link, a United Way / Just Food project, the two programs who work with my food pantry and was attended by representatives of each organization, as well as clients and volunteers from each of the 4 (5, maybe?) pantries that are supplied by Hearty Roots. As lucky as I feel to be involved with the organizations and the food pantry in any case, this trip was an even more amazing opportunity.
Forgive my gushing. It may not seem like a big deal to some of you guys who live in more rural or even just suburban areas, or have the means to visit them, but I'm a kid from Queens who lives in Brooklyn and works in Manhattan. I rarely get a chance to leave the city. And even if I do, my New York City neuroses often hold me back from taking that chance. I spent a lot of time on the bus today gripping the armrests hoping we wouldn't crash.
But that's why trips like this - and food programs bringing real, organic, fresh farm food to urban areas are so important. I'm lucky to be economically comfortable enough that I can browse the aisles at Whole Foods for fun new foods to play with, or buy fresh vegetables from farmers' markets to my heart's content (or my arms' strength) but so many families can't. Even that is not the same as having a visual and physical connection to my food sources. If more people had a link like that, I think they would appreciate real food as well as understand that eating a hot dog (or even an organic grass-fed steak) is not just eating any old thing; it is an animal.
So, this is probably preaching to the choir but, if you get the chance to "meet" your food source, be it an apple orchard or a dairy farm or a chicken, I would urge anyone to take it. Thanks again to Just Food, United Way, and Hearty Roots Farm. After all that gab, here are a lot of trigger-happy photos I snapped of the farm (and my meals along the way.)

                              Breakfast: overnight oats with chia, soaked goji berries, banana

 Lunch in three parts, Amazing Grass bar, rice with sweet potato, lettuce, red pepper, and an apple

It was a cloudy day at times, but the rain held off and the temperature was beautiful. I did get a slight burn, though, because, well, I'm Irish.


                                                                        Baby goat!!

                                                                   Eating corn!!!

                                                               Another baby goat!!

                                                                Broccoli, pre-flowering

                                                                   Swiss Chard, tomatoes


                                               Dinosaur Kale! They look like palm trees!

                                                       Farmer and workers in the beets

                                                                Some beets we got to pick

                                                      Tomato picking in the greenhouse

And this drink is how I ended the night. After leaving Hearty Roots, the bus took us to some nearby orchards to pick our own berries, paid for by United Way, which was awesome (and thank you!) I didn't take photos in the fields because I was too busy staining my hands. This drink is muddled raspberries and blackberries, ice, gin, Framboise Lambic, and seltzer. Smooth sailing.
Have you guys ever done anything like this?? I've visited apple orchards and pumpkin fields on school trips before but this was totally different and less of a lark. I have ten times more appreciation for farmers' markets now - especially after one day in the sun with a burn and half an hour looking for less than half a pint of raspberries. Interactive learning like this is also a great way to get kids interested in eating their vegetables. Do it! Do it!