it’s hot as hell outside…

6 07 2008

…and I, like many other people out there, don’t want to turn the stove on. Thank goodness for the abundance of fresh, local produce to be found in my area. Also, thankyou Joanna for providing me with such a delicious, healthy and easy meal to eat on days like this. I present to you all, the Hot Mama Salad:

hot mama salad

I stocked up on fresh fruit and veggies today to eat through the week. I also have some flax/almond/pumpkin seed crackers in the dehydrator. I think this is going to be a good week.

(Oh, and thank you to Richard for my banner! You told me to post, so here you go.)



4 07 2008

I always start these damn things and never write in them. I am a bad blogger, but I’m working on being better. Here’s a quick post to make up for lost time.

1. I’m recipe testing for Joanna for her upcoming cookbook and I’m loving it. We share similar flavor profiles so I’m enjoying everything I’ve been testing. If you don’t have Yellow Rose Recipes, please order it from Herbivore immediately because it’s awesome. Nacho cheese sauce, green-wa, lemon almond cake, and tamale pie = so good. There are many others that are equally as delicious, but I think those are my favorite.

2. Julie Hasson’s steamed seitan sausage recipe is so amazing. It is one of the most adaptable recipes I’ve ever worked with! I’ve always been pretty “meh” on seitan (too rubbery OR too “meaty” — I couldn’t decide) but this stuff is so awesome. I prefer making them into cutlets instead of sausages as I can bread them (see also: Julie’s seitan cutlets parmesan) but have been changing the flavors. The original spicy italian version is AWESOME, but I made a BBQ version the other day (added liquid smoke and other random spices and sauteed in BBQ sauce after steaming) and really enjoyed that. I see endless possibilities with these.

3. I’ve been debating my favorite bean lately. I think I have it narrowed down to black beans and garbanzo beans, but I just can’t decide. This is a big deal, you know.

4. It’s summer and it’s hot as hell here in Florida. With that said, I want to make a conscious effort to eat more raw meals due to a) not wanting to turn on the oven/stove and b) for health. I’ve been perusing goneraw quite a bit this week but I also want to hear about quick, easy and delicious raw meals. i do have a dehydrator but it hasn’t been used in years. a-k over at swell vegan just did a week of nothing but raw meals and she provided excellent food porn inspiration, so I may have to give some of her meals a try. Please check out swell vegan if you’re looking for innovative recipes and absolutely beautiful food porn.

5. Between Celine’s [have cake, will travel!] awesome and amazing recipes and beautiful pictures and Ash’s [lovelikeavegan] recent sweet treats, my sweet tooth is alive and kicking! I’ve made the Chunky Monkey brownies (which were featured in VegNews) and I’ve got a list of Celine’s recipes I need to try. Can’t I just skip work for an entire week to bake?! It’d probably take me that long to do all the dishes, anyway!

Okay, that was easy. I guess updating this thing isn’t as hard as it seems. I will report back with pictures of what I’ve been eating and a lowdown on my garden. Until then…

Staying Pretty The Vegan Way

28 05 2008

So, I know this is supposed to be a food blog but I wanted to talk about something that was really hard for me when I went vegan. I hear most people say things like “oh, giving up cheese was so hard!” or “I really miss alfredo sauce” but to be honest, there isn’t a lot I miss. I hate most vegan ice cream, but I still associate eating ice cream with the horrible feeling I’d get due to lactose intolerance, so I tend to enjoy sorbet instead. Anyway, the hardest thing for me when I went vegan (and to be honest, it’s still a struggle!) is beauty products. From shampoo to makeup, I have major trouble stopping the use of things I love (or once loved) because they aren’t vegan and finding new, animal friendly products to try. Luckily, I’ve had some success with the following products so I want to mention them.

First things first, I have bad skin and though I’m almost 23 years old, I still feel like I’m 14 with the breakouts and blotchiness and all the fun stuff that goes hand in hand with acne. I tried it all from salycic acid based washes to dermatologist prescribed creams and gels to Pro-Activ to the oil cleansing method to toothpaste (don’t ask) to just not washing my face. Nothing ever cleared my skin up, until I found LUSH. Lush makes handmade and natural soaps and beauty products including hair care, face care, scrubs, bath bombs, deoderant, and so on. LUSH is like heaven to me. All of their products are clearly marked V for Vegan on their website as well as thorough ingredient lists. Though some of their facial products use parabens (such as my dearly beloved Tea Tree Toner & Imperialis moisturizer), I’m still in love with their bar facial soaps. My favorite LUSH products are Coalface and Fresh Farmacy, two of their facial soaps that help with oily skin and acne.

fresh farmacycoalface

Another excellent product for people with bad skin is Queen Helene Mint Julep mask. This was my best discovery about six or seven years ago when I found it at Walgreens. Most drug stores should have it, as well as your big box corporate department stores. For $3.99 per gigantic tube of this stuff, you can’t complain. It’s a minty mud-like mask that clears up pimples, unclogs pores and helps rid your face of nasty blackheads. The back clearly states “no animal ingredients and no animal testing” so Queen Helene gets a big thumbs up from me.

queen helene mint julep mask

Whole Foods, whether you love ’em or hate ’em, sells their wonderful 365 Brand for amazingly low prices. While they do have great food items (beans, grains, etc.) under that label, their “Whole 365 Body” is another thing to write home about. Finding vegan shampoo and body wash that is affordable, has a nice but not overpowering scent, and works well seems to be a daunting task. My hair is pretty basic: fine but not too thin, a bit oily but overall, fairly normal. I find their grapefruit shampoo to be the best, and at $1.99 for a bottle, who can go wrong? The “Whole Body” line also houses body wash which come in grapefruit, herbal mint, lavendar, and fragrance free. These products do not contain any animal by-products, harsh chemicals, artificial coloring and they are paraben free. Get to your local WF to check these out!

365 whole body

Lastly, we have makeup. Vegan makeup is still a hard one for me, I have to admit. I want to use up all my old stuff before buying new, but I’m also dreading the idea of spending loads of money on new mascara to find out I hate it all. So, psst, if you have any tips for great vegan mascara, let me know! For actual makeup, though, I am a fan of Everyday Minerals. Their mineral makeup is animal friendly (excluding a few finishing powders which contain silk and are clearly labeled as “silk dust”) and most of their brushes are synthetic. They have fantastic customer service and an array of colors to choose from suitable for any skin type! I’ve been a customer for years and I don’t think I’m going anywhere. Order your free sample kit and pay only the price shipping! I also enjoy Physicians Formula Organic Mineral line, though I must warn you: their brushes are made of goat hair. There’s something not so organic about that, but to each their own, I suppose.

I’m always on the hunt for new products to try, so feel free to share your favorite vegan beauty products! I’d love to hear about them.

here we go again

18 05 2008

Look at me, I start blogs and never post! How awesome am I. To be completely honest, it’s been one weird year so far. I moved from Chicago back to Florida, started a new job, suffered through the heat, suffered through the insane gas prices, and started cooking for one (try going from living with your amazing boyfriend who loves everything you cook to moving back in with your parents who are meat and potatoes folks–though I have to give my dad credit, he tries almost everything I make.) Needless to say, I have not been cooking for fun, really. Coming home from work at 6pm means being mentally exhausted and just wanting to heat up some leftovers, read a little bit, watch some bad TV, and go to sleep. And let’s not even talk about taking food to work, as I basically end up grazing on nuts, dried fruit and pretzels all day, as well as my mid-day Clif bar. Hey, at least I am drinking almost 2 liters of water solely at work. But as you may be saying to yourself, “that’s just not healthy!”

So, I am going to change that. I am looking for quick, simple, healthy meals. I’ve made some changes to my diet which include: limiting my oil intake, limiting refined carbs/sugar, trying to eat about 50-70% ETL, as well as following a lot of the principles from Dr. Neal D. Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes as I am on the cusp of insulin resistance. It hasn’t been easy, but I think at some point, you just get used to it. When I made the decision to go vegan, I didn’t really think of it as a challenge. When I looked at the health benefits of going vegan, I really had to step back and wonder why I had been eating the crap that I had been. My family has a long history of heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes and cancer. Sure, genetics may be standing in the way of all that despite what I eat, but if I can take one extra step to help prevent these things, I am going to take it. So now, I am taking an extra step to help prevent diabetes. It’s something I need to do and while I do miss certain things (crusty white bread dipped into olive oil with herbs and cupcakes with amazing fluffy vegan frosting, mostly), I am learning to replace them with healthier alternatives. Whole wheat pita and hummus (made without oil!) is a lot better than you think, and chocolate mint pudding (silken tofu+splash of soymilk+cocoa powder+agave nectar+peppermint extract) helps beat a sweet tooth. I am learning to love green smoothies, big salads with tons of fresh veggies, filling bean soups, and using herbs and spices to flavor a dish.

So, I guess this will be all about my re-learning how to eat. I want to start making more raw meals, as well. There’s so many new things I want to try and this is just the beginning. I want to get excited about food again. Oh, and I’m also testing for the ever so wonderful Joanna for her upcoming cookbook and so far, I have absolutely loved everything I made. Expect a lot of pictures of all that. Hopefully this blog will become my accountability for healthy (but delicious) eats. Wish me luck!