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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Just a Day

Breakfast was a banana with almond butter.
I intended this veggie juice to be a snack:

But I only had a few sips. It wasn't that great - I bought it on Saturday and forgot about it so it's kind of ruined. You're supposed to drink raw juice as soon as possible. Instead I left it in the fridge at work and am probably ruining it more but it was expensive and I don't want to throw it out! What to do?
Lunch was leftover odds and ends that didn't make it into meals this weekend:

Bulgur wheat, roasted cauliflower, pinto beans, sundried tomatoes over spinach.
Pre-dinner snack:

And dinner:

Our usual salad (mixed greens, broccoli, tomato, grated beets and carrots) to which I added extra spinach, parsley, red onion, chopped capers, sunflower seeds and mushrooms. Hard to finish, but I did it.
And a handful of rasins/almonds/chocolate chips for dessert. Trust me.

Monday, January 30, 2012

"Act Normal"*

In a criticism class in college, my professor pointed out the absurdity of the phrase "act normal." It's usually uttered when one is caught doing something wrong and one accomplice will quickly tell the other, "Act normal!" when in fact, the situation is anything but. Acting is a performance - being is the true state. But when things are not quite "normal," like my brain lately, "acting normal" will have to suffice and a kind of "fake it til you make it" mentality can actually trigger feelings of "the usual," if not "normal."
So G and I have been "acting normal" with a movie night:

Popcorn with nooch and black pepper, Flying Dog Pale Ale to go with Paper Moon (pretty great, by the way).
Totally normal lunch photo-bomb:

G's apple, my spinach, tomato, turmeric-roasted cauliflower, and sundried tomato salad.
I even played (watery) domestic, cooking up a traditional-style dinner. It took about 4 hours all together, but keeping busy is a big part of my mental health.

This is G's plate from last night. It's a bit hard to tell what it is under all that mushroom gravy. Also someone was in a rush to eat, so I snapped this quickly.
Steamed spinach, mashed potatoes with parsley, black pepper and roasted garlic, Hippie Loaf from the Happy Herbivore cookbook (and online here). The mushroom gravy is from Vegan Holiday Kitchen. G said it was the best mashed potatoes and gravy he's ever had. Indeed, I came home last night at 11:30 to him reheating some more. The Hippie Loaf was pretty good, but I made a couple changes. I used soaked pinto beans instead of canned black beans, bulgur wheat instead of quinoa (I didn't have any quinoa, though it might have been better. Bulgur also makes the loaf not gluten-free anymore), my own seasoning blend, panko instead of brown rice flour, added fennel seed, and about 1/4 c. chopped walnuts. I would add fresh parsley next time too. Okay, so maybe I changed a lot but I like using Lindsay's recipes as guides because they are low fat and oil free, and pretty simple. I mostly picked her recipe because I don't care much for lentil-based loaves. They seem to fall apart pretty easily and beans sounded like a better binder.
Here's my leftover lunch today:

Steamed cauliflower standing in for mashed potatoes. Dinner having been so "traditional" and unlike what I usually eat, was a bit heavy for my stomach.
With salad:

 Anyway, thanks again for the well-wishes, guys. I'm feeling better. G is helping. I hope you all are doing well.

*All mentions of the word "normal" used for the unfortunate lack of a better word. I'm a big fan of crazy, honestly. Normal perhaps should be "not off-kilter." But whatever.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Local Dining a la mom

Still nothing going on over here. Breakfast is consistently a banana. Lunch is kale salad. It's not even very good kale salad (I know, weird, right?) Dinner if I can force it is leftover chili. You've seen it before.
So instead, since Shen and Stacy were sharing "mom stories," I was reminded to share a picture I took last week when I was sitting around depressed, probably crying and feeling sorry for myself, counting the hours until I could acceptably go to back to bed.  
Mothers always know, though. It's really something amazing and unexplainable. She called up out of the blue and insisted on picking me up and taking me out to lunch. I, being me, grumbled ungratefully and tried to get out of it but my mother is a very persuasive woman. By the time I washed my face and tried to look acceptable, she was downstairs in the car with my father, prepped with her new iphone, googling to find a local vegan restaurant.
We settled on Champs, which was formerly only a vegan bakery but has now added a full menu. I think they only opened up about a year ago. It's pretty near where I live, but a little off the usual beaten track (Bedford ave) and it's cute inside. The building may have originally been a diner of sorts. There are booths and a counter in a fairly open space. They even have a working retro rotary telephone with a separate earpiece.
Anyway. My parents are not vegans by any means, having both spent a fair amount of time in France and being raised in the 50s but they are wonderfully open-minded. I'm actually kind of surprised he did, but my father went all out and ordered the hot Vegan Cubano sandwich - with "grilled veggie ham, pickled jalapenos, pickles, cheese, mustard and mayo on a pressed hero." My mother ordered another adventurous sandwich, the Banh Mi. It's a new addition to the menu, so I don't have a full description, but they're pretty typical. And me, well, I got a salad. Surprise. But a fun salad! This was a new addition to the menu too, and the (friendly) server mentioned it was probably her favorite of the new stuff.

This is a roasted beet salad with cashew "goat" cheese and walnuts. In a balsamic vinaigrette, and taken with my mom's handy iphone. It was very tasty. The cheese was tangy and the beets were well cooked. It was also a huge serving! I couldn't finish it, but my mom tried some too and liked it a lot. Actually, I think my parents both cleaned their plates so that must mean something.
They also took a vegan rainbow cookie and an almond-blueberry bar home from the bakery. The rainbow cookie was reported as "very tasty and fresh" but they felt that the bar was too sweet.
So. If yr in the Williamsburg area, Champs is definitely recommended by both me and two non-vegan parental units. And thank you, mom, for getting me out of the house. That was a good thing. I am lucky to have a caring and vegan-friendly family. (For the record, they do eat much less meat than they used to. So, yay.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Miso

This is about the extent of my effort towards meals lately.

Miso soup is one of the easiest things to put together but I have figured out a way to spice the broth that I really like, so if yr looking for a bit of a twist on a traditional broth, try this on:

(serves 1 generously)
1 heaping T miso paste blended in 3 T water (I use unpasteurized, organic MisoMaster)
1/4 tsp anise seeds
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
thick slice of ginger
1 thin slice of onion, diced (or 1 scallion)
1/2 grated carrot
1 shiitake mushroom, sliced thinly
large handful of greens (I used spinach here), roughly chopped
large pinch wakame seaweed
tofu (optional)

Boil water. Pour it over raw veg. Cover and let sit 3 minutes to wilt veg a bit. Pour in blended miso, stir. Eat. Yep, hot soup and raw (if you leave out the tofu.) It's really filling but still very light. The anise seeds and ginger lend a slight sweetness and the red pepper flakes make the broth very invigorating.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Raw Cleanse Follow-Up

To be honest, I was in a weird mood this morning and rather unceremoniously refused to acknowledge the previous week, post-cleanse. It's been a rough time. The cleanse ended with these meals:

                            Spirulina, banana, spinach, nooch, ginger, cacao nib smoothie

      Chopped collard salad with broccoli, hemp seeds, nooch, red pepper, sundried tomato

When I got home, before eating dinner, something happened, I got upset, and pretty much shut down. So the cleanse really ended with no dinner but far too much gin. Since then I have had no appetite so it's not like you were missing anything this last week. (However, thanks to those of you who still commented and checked in ((Ingrid!)): that really brightened an otherwise shitty time.) What I did manage to eat was light and still all raw. I only write this so as not to sound like my previous post intended, "Thank God that raw cleanse is over - I need some chili and cornbread!"
Just the opposite: the cleanse reset my eating habits and further focused me past "eating clean" to "eating better and more mindfully." If you are following Kristen's Raw blog at all, she is on an all-raw 90-day "reboot" and one of her reasons is for portion control. I may eat well but I often eat too much, without even thinking about it. Although I was upset this week, I think the raw cleanse helped clear my cravings and reset my priorities (foodwise), also contributing to my eating less. I still had plenty of energy and even felt giddy at times. My only regret is that I couldn't help G more. He wants me to report, "Although Greg had a few lapses over the week and didn't keep entirely raw, he ate, in fact, very much like a lion: RAWER."
So. I firmly standby a high raw food diet. It is exhilarating, nourishing, and fun. I will continue to eat high-rawer but not stress out about the occasional chili and cornbread. I will work through my problems with a clear head and, ah, not rely so much on alcohol. I will exercise to destress and I will try to be a happier person. I'm never going to be an "Ethereal Goddess" like Kristen desires to achieve but I will try to breathe more deeply. In the meantime, I will eat tasty high-raw meals like this:

 Raw cashew cheese, roasted beet slices with dill, Two Moms in the Raw Tomato-Basil Sea Crackers with Hannah Kaminsky's Crave-Worthy Kale Salad (well, without the edamame.)
I guess we'll have to find out if the chili got better overnight another time. Oooh, cliffhanger!!

Chili, Obvi

It snowed.

So I put bird food out for the little birdlets who have been tricked into believing it's still fall and warm. Haxan enjoyed that too.

It snowed, so I made chili and cornbread.

It was mostly based on Angela's recipe but you know how chili is, what with flinging any old thing in overexcitedly. I added coffee, balsamic vingear, canned tomato paste instead of tomatoes (I KNOW! I'm gonna die.) used dry beans, fresh mushrooms etc. It wasn't that great - kind of oddly bitter - but you know how chili is. The next two days will be the real taste test. The cornbread, however, was good. It's the recipe in Veganomicon, which is pretty much my go-to cornbread, however rarely I make it.
So, obviously, the cleanse is over.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Raw Cleanse, day 5: Eating Out

Hey guys. I've already explained how going out to eat stresses me out but G has fallen off the raw wagon and what better way to reinvigorate him than with well made and beautifully executed raw food? For that, we turned to a restaurant. There are only so many sheets of untoasted nori I can hand the guy.
We're lucky to have more than one all-raw restaurant in New York and last month, one of the best (okay - the only one I've tried before - last time G and I were raw cleansing) offered a Groupon! I bought a deal for $20 for $40 dollars worth of food at Quintessence, which is nice because as you may know or figure, the bill at a raw restaurant can rack up quickly. I almost ruined this outing for us both, for reasons I don't want to get into, but lo and behold we ended up at Quintessence on a blustery 29-degree Friday night on a date like normalish people!
Of course I had perused the menu beforehand so we were seated in the small, warmly colored, calmly scented space and we were ready to order:

I got the Buddha Bowl, a top-yr-own salad of "mixed green, kale, tomato, cucumber, sunflower sprouts, and onion." I added marinated portabella mushrooms, olives, and avocado. With house dressing, which is a green herby-lemon-and oil dressing. Most people will say that when they eat out, they want to get something they can't make themselves. I understand that but I err on the side of "better safe than sorry." I know I love salads, so why not get something I'll like? Especially if a restaurant who specializes in raw, organic, fresh, high-quality food can most likely do it best.
G also got something he often enjoys - though not raw - the Mexican platter (he also opted for the less-obvious option of no flash photo):

An enchilada made of a "golden flax and corn tortilla filled with "refried beans", "cheese", tomato and lettuce drenched with mole sauce and finished with a dollop of "sour crème" paired with a tostada. Served with Guajillo chili sauce and garlic scallion wild rice." Also came with a side salad. He liked the tostada best, not being enthralled with only the sprouted wild rice. This is the first dish I have seen G take his time with and actually be filled by.
And, date night it would not be without:

Dessert. Raw tiramisu, which I may or may not have bullied G into selecting. Dude wanted ice cream, WTF? It was pretty good. The creamy topping was silky and delicious and the chocolate layer in the middle was deep and rich. The bottom "ladyfinger" layer was made of nuts, I assume. The texture was pretty good but lacking in the coffee flavor I love in traditional tiramisu.
A good time. I really recommend this place if you're in the city and want fresh, well-made delicious dishes and don't want to feel weighed down by it. It is kind of expensive, but they do have lunch specials and the food is very high-quality. They also have brunch! Brunch!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Raw Cleanse, day 4

Yellow fellows.
Today's breakfast was NOT chia, holla. Instead, I give you a gross smeary photo of a delicious smoothie:

It was rainy today and pretty impossible to get any decent photos. This smoothie was spinach, an orange, frozen cranberries, ginger, and orange juice. Tasty.
Lunch was another Gena dish (big surprise!):

marinated collards with broccoli, spinach, red pepper, onion, sundried tomatoes, avocado, hemp seeds. I made a couple additions and substitutions as I was planning a collard salad in my head anyway, but once I saw Gena's recipe, I trusted her salad knowledge. And, oh, she's got lots.
Unpictured snacks were a banana, dates with raw almond butter, and a Mountain Mint Wildbar. I know I wanted to stay away from premade raw snacks and bars but...I couldn't. The bar was really good and its nutrition stats are pretty awesome. Far fewer calories than most raw bars I see, and nowhere near as sweet, with tons of vitamin power. I'm a fan. I was also getting tired and a bit of a headache late in the afternoon from either lack of caffeine or something else but it went away after the bar, so, yay for raw cacao.
Dinner was more collard wraps:

with carrots, zucchini, chopped broccoli, both fresh AND sundried tomatoes, red pepper, and a schmear of raw cashew alfredo (the stuff's pretty thick - about the consistency of ricotta cheese.) Two bites or so in I noticed a bitsy inchworm crawling on the outside of the collard leaf! Eek and ack. I hope he was the only one! Cute but not in my belly, no thank you.
Dessert was three dates - two with raw almond butter and cocoa powder and one with ginger powder. Super tasty and a distraction from G's Ginger Newman-Os on the kitchen table.
Go get yr green on.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Raw Cleanse, day 3

Lots of food again today. I'm really confused as to why I'm constantly hungry since I eat this way about 70% of the time anyway and I'm pretty sure I'm getting plenty of fats and nutrients. Perhaps it's psychological.
Breakfast was chia-hemp pudding with dates and vanilla extract. The stuff is growing (has grown?) on me. However, it is too damn gloppy to take a picture of every day.

I actually didn't eat the veg bowl; G kindly bought me an apple that I had instead. He also bought the bag of GoRaw Pumpkin Super Chips. I didn't like them at first, but I was hungry and had a couple more. They were pretty good after a while.
Lunch was spinach, sprouts, cherry tomatoes, and Gena's raw vegan tuna.

Eaten outside again, but this time it was kind of too cold.

An Aside:
Dear Greg, I'm sorry I'm no fun. 

This cleanse is not easy on G and while I'm trying to help him by making the meals it's frustrating to anticipate someone else's needs, tastes and wants. That's to say nothing of grocery shopping, menu planning, constantly thinking ahead (something raw eating requires a fair amount of), and preparing the meals and snacks. It's especially discouraging when he's not completely into the cleanse. Point being, G had band practice tonight and brought up the idea of going out to eat at a raw restaurant after work near the practice space. I, of course, found 15 reasons not to go. We went back and forth considering it for a while but I honestly can't bear the idea of going out to eat when there is so much perfectly good, fresh food at home already paid for and prepared to my taste. So, I'm sorry, Greg. I hope you enjoyed your dinner. One of these days.
I went home and made these collard wraps for my lonely, miserly, no-fun self:

And they were good. Sprouts, avocado, red pepper, carrot, mushroom, pickle!, zucchini in there.
Dessert was 4 dates with almond butter, probably unnecessary, and some black tea because I have a headache.
Do you guys enjoy eating out?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Raw Cleanse, day 2: food list, snacks, groceries, dinner

Today was a bit of a broken up day in that I had a couple errands to run, and had an appointment at 6 not knowing when I'd be back. So today'sfood is more small plates than meals like yesterday. Breakfast, for me at least, was more chia pudding. G described the chia as "not not slimy" and asked for soaked oats for today. He went to work, I took the day off and followed the pudding with green tea and a banana. Just like yesterday.
After a couple hours I made up a snack plate:

Raw almond butter, celery, raisins, and carrots. Assemble yr own ant-on-a-whatever.
 Later, blackberries!!

I love blackberries so, so much. I know they aren't in season but they actually weren't too expensive and they were really tasty. I feel like I liked them better than some I had this summer.
Besides the berries and bananas, there isn't any fruit in the house for me to snack on (which is a good thing, since I'm trying to cut back on sugar and they're relatively low-glycemic. It's weird, though, I can totally tell I'm craving juice and apples and such) so the next snack was raw broccoli with a bit of cashew cream.

After this, I ran out to get groceries. I love seeing people's grocery hauls. Here's mine:

nori, collards, scallions, zucchini, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, red bell peppers, lemons, raw cashews, pickles.
Close up on the nori. It doesn't say "raw" specifically but it does say "untoasted," so good enough for me. I'm not trying to win any awards over here.

And finally, dinner:

This is raw tuna salad from Gena's Choosing Raw. Really delicious! Expect a lot of Gena's recipes in the upcoming days. Served on spinach, with cucumber slices and a couple sliced tomatoes.
Then I ran out the door to the I'm back and hungry and it's too late to eat!
G is getting a bit tired on the cleanse, he claims he needs "grease" in his diet. He ate some vegan, gluten-free taco toasts today but also tried these GoRaw Spirulina Super Chips. He also wants me to not that he got a raw green soup (romaine, cucumber, tomato, celery, kale, olive oil, and lemon) from Jivamuktea Cafe yesterday that he enjoyed too. The guy's trying; you gotta give him that.
I'm tired. Goodnight.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Raw Cleanse, day 1

Like many of the rest of you, G and I wanted to get the year off to a healthy start but gave ourselves a little leeway in when exactly the start would start. January 1 is a bit too much of an abrupt change, when there are holiday leftovers (in my case, leftover booze rather than food), friends visiting for holidays, birthdays, etc.
So, things settled down yesterday and beginning today G and I are doing a one-week raw cleanse. We aren't following any one particular plan, but are taking aspects from various cleanse: high raw (I'll say 97% just to be safe because we're allowing miso and small amounts of spices or condiments that aren't raw), a green juice a day, no coffee (but green and herbal teas), no refined sugars, and no alcohol - admittedly the hardest part of this for me. Because even a raw diets has its "snacky" foods, I'm staying away from those - kale chips, bars and the like, nuts in large quantities - but I don't want to make this too hard for G.
This is what things looked like today:

Chia pudding with hemp seeds, cinnamon, chopped dates.
Later, a banana and some green tea.

Cute cup, right?? G and I found it in the garbage, along with a matching mug for him and three pristine white plates! The things people throw out these days. Yes, I washed them all well.
I snacked on some raw kraut.

Lunch was a big kale salad with avocado, sprouts, tomato, nooch, and sunflower seeds dressed with olive oil, salt, and red pepper flakes.

Then later I (unpictured) had two dates with raw almond butter.
Prepping dinner:

And the finished bowl:

Carrot, beet, and broccoli stem, spiralized into noodles. On top of spinach and dolloped with a raw cashew alfredo sauce based on Gena's recipe here.
I anticipate two more dates, spiced with ginger and cinnamon or cocoa and tea. Check back tomorrow to see if G has given up the ghost. Good wishes to anyone else who is cleansing right now!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Lunches Lately

It has been unbelievably unseasonably warm lately. I know I usually eat a lot of salads anyway but I've been enjoying some especially colorful ones. Avocados were on sale recently and they make any dish seem more summery. So here are a couple pretty salads I've been lunching and munching on:

Salad greens with bell pepper, tomato, broccoli, carrot, onion, sunflower seeds, and inspired by Lauren's awesome salads, I added raw kraut and hummus too.

Spinach, bell pepper, tomato, avocado, onion, chili. Taco salad?

Today's lunch, which I ate OUTSIDE! Trying to keep things a tiny bit in tune with the actual season, roasted butternut squash, avocado, chili, spinach, and hot sauce.
All good. That's all.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A copy of a copy of a copy: Blood Orange-Olive Oil Loaf

Back around Thanksgiving, I think, I somehow stumbled onto this recipe for blood orange-olive oil loaf cake, based on this recipe, which is inspired by a Melissa Clark recipe! Got that? And since neither of those recipes were vegan but I was dying to bake this cake, I take it a step farther from the original recipe, making vegan substitutions.

The stars all really aligned for this cake. The day or so after I first came across the recipe, G came home from his parents' house with blood orange olive oil as a gift from his mom! Apparently an olive oil specialty store had just opened up in their town. Too perfect! (Thanks, Gerri!) All I had to do was wait...and wait...for blood oranges to finally appear in stores. I even considered using navel oranges, but I held off and a couple days ago I finally found some blood oranges!
So, this is not a healthy recipe by any means but G is quite pleased with it, as am I. The crust is just a little crunchy, the inside is perfectly moist, and the cake is delicately flavored. Here is my adaptation:

VEGAN Blood Orange Olive Oil Loaf

-zest from 2 blood oranges
-juice from 1 blood orange (1/4 c.)
-chopped segments from 1 blood orange
-3/4 c. vegan cane sugar
-1/4 c. rice milk
-1/2 c. plain, unsweetened vegan yogurt
-1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
-scant 1/2 c. olive oil (blood orange olive oil if you can get it!)
-1 3/4 c. whole wheat pastry flour
-1 TBS soy flour
-1 1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350*. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
Combine zest and sugar in a large bowl, evenly distributing zest.
Add orange juice, rice milk, yogurt, applesauce, and olive oil into the sugar blend. mix well.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, soy flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. mix well.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until just moistened. A few dry spots are fine. Fold in chopped orange segments.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and let bake for about 50-55 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Take it out of the pan and let the loaf cool completely on a rack.
Slice and serve. This keeps very well, wrapped, in the fridge - though the crust doesn't stay as crunchy.

As it cooled and I pleaded with G to leave it alone a few more minutes, G says, "You know, you're lucky I'm not Homer Simpson right now, or that loaf would be gone by now." Lucky indeed.