Friday, February 27, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
I tried really hard to not drug myself in order to get through my day. Long story short, driving an hour home after being on your feet since 7AM is just a bad idea without any kind of a pick me up.
So, I have turned to tea. And in the past few weeks I have become quite the tea drinker. A tea freak, even. I have at least 4 cups a day. It helps too that my mentor teacher is a tea drinker, so I’m just surrounded by it all day. Just to be clear, I am no connoisseur, no loose tea here, I like the convenience of the little mesh bags.
I’m sure you know there are a bunch of different kinds of tea: black, green, red, white, etc. It gets more specific and more specialized, but I’m just your average tea drinker. I try to get a variety!
My first tea requirement though:
No, not that there are 20 bags in the package, that there is CAFFEINE! Surprisingly, this isn’t always easy to find. I think the idea is that some people drink tea instead of coffee because they don’t want the caffeine. Not the case here! No decaf tea, and even better is tea that specifies that it is caffeinated. You’ll find some boxes marked “Revive”, or “Awake”, and those undoubtedly will give you a little perk.
When embarking on my tea adventure, I turned first to Yogi Tea, which I have seen at every grocery store I have been in recently, and more extended collections at some natural food stores. I went for their “Uplift” line, and there were a few options. One of my favorite things about the Yogi tea is that they listed on the side of the box how much caffeine was in it. So I got the box with the most caffeine: Lemon Ginger Green Tea.
In my desk drawer (yes, I brought my camera to school today).
My first thought was: grass. It smelled like grass. It kind of tastes a little grassy too, but not in an overpowering way. I’ve been keeping this box at school, and its been quite effective at getting me past my drive home slump.
So, I had my school tea, but I desperately needed something to have on my way to school in the morning. I perused the aisles of my local Shop-Rite (they have a pretty nice natural food section), and found this “Energizing” Passionfruit-Mango Green Tea.
I have to say, this was one of the best teas I have ever bought. Most of the time, I think fruity teas are too light, or too “flowery”, or don’t taste like much, but this just tastes so nice and tropical, and you can still taste the green tea. Its really awesome, just a little sweet: Passionfruit Mango Green Tea by Teakanne.
Now that the tea ball was rolling, I just couldn't stop...especially when there was a sale. Leftover teas, marketed for Valentine's Day, with an additional coupon if I bought two boxes. How could I say no?
First was a black tea, this was the V-day one: Celestial Seasoning's Vanilla Strawberry Rose Ceylon Black Tea.
Vanilla? Awesome. Strawberry? More awesome. Rose? Um..not so sure. I spent way to much time in the tea aisle debating this one, but I am so so so so glad I did. It is just fantastic. You can't really taste the strawberry, but the hints of vanilla and rose, combined with cinnamon and spices, is completely perfect.
Lastly, I got a white tea. I was on the fence with this one: Perfectly Pear White Tea.
I've only had iced white tea before, and I never liked it, I find it too light tasting. Luckily, this tea made me a white tea convert. It is really great, and you can really taste the pear flavor.
Anyone else a big tea drinker? I see this becoming a very bad habit. And by bad, I mean I'll have more boxes of tea than space for boxes of tea.
Are you a decaf drinker? At one time, I too preferred to keep my tea free of caffeine. At night I still have my absolute favorite: Candy Cane Lane!
Yes, you can only get it at the holidays...but I bought two boxes this year. I don't know what it is about it, but I love it, the peppermint, the green tea....completely perfect.
If anyone wants to share their favorite, I am completely and totally open to and looking for suggestions. Like I said, I foresee a rapidly expanding tea collection in my future!!
Sunday, February 22, 2009
M: “What have we always said is the most important thing?”
GM: “Family. Right. I thought you meant out of the things you eat”
500 points if you got that reference.
Anyway, we all grew up being told that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. But how many of us grew up on sugary cereal, Pop-Tarts, and doughy bagels? How many of us skip breakfast now, or run out the door with a sugary granola bar masquerading as something "wholesome"? Have you ever had the “Continental Breakfast” at a hotel? Its all pastries, donuts, and maybe an English muffin. You may get some peanut butter for that muffin if you’re lucky.
The quick and easy American breakfast is heavy in one major food group: carbohydrates. No no, carbs are not evil. Well, not all of them at least. But when carbs come in the form of sugar, or of highly processed white flour, they can be bad news. When these “highly processed carbs” hit your digestive system, they get to work immediately. Perfect for an early morning pick me up, right? Well you won’t be thinking the same thing an hour later, when you’ve quickly worked through all those simple carbs, and are now running on empty.
We need carbs, they’re brain food. We need them to keep our glycogen levels up, which is especially important for athletes, or any fitness enthusiast. But we want complex carbohydrates. This means whole grains; whole oats, whole wheat, whole barley, brown rice, buckwheat, spelt berries, bulgar wheat, etc. This stuff still has its fiber content. While it will still give you the energy you need, it comes along with fiber, that will keep digestion at a slow burn to keep you feeling strong, longer. Fruits and veggies are a carbs too, but they’re not as complicated. I feel perfectly fine eating anything that comes from nature. Fruit does have a lot of sugar, but it also has vitamins and fiber. Most veggies are super good for you, but the poor potato has gotten a bad rap, since it is a simple carb. In general, I get as many veggies as possible, and just stay aware that while fruits mean great nutrients and fiber, it does come with calories.
Okay, so we know what kind of carbs we need, but what about ALL the other food items out there. Surely if just carbs were enough, they wouldn’t add “part of a complete breakfast” at the end of cereal commercials, would they? The other two macronutrient groups, protein and fat, are an integral part of breakfast.
First, fat. Oh poor fat and its misconceptions. Fat is just another type of food. It isn’t, nutritionally, going to make you fat. The reason why fat is synonymous with “being fat” or weight gain, is because one gram of fat has more calories then protein and carbs.
1g fat = 9 calories
1g protein = 4 calories
1 g protein = 4 calories
So, its easy to see how, if you eat too much fat, you do, in fact, gain weight. Guess what though? You gain weight if you eat too much of anything. Because fat has more calories, it fills you up more. Just like carbs though, fat can be good or bad. I think everyone knows by now that trans fats are bad. I’ll actually be talking about trans fats with my students this week. No, I’m not a health teacher, but trans fats are principle of organic chemistry, which we’re starting this week. If anyone wants to know about the chemical basis behind trans fats, let me know! Anyway, good vs. bad fats is pretty easy once you think about it. Fats that are from nature are good: Avocados, olive oil, peanut butter, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, coconut oil, etc. For me, fats are one of the most important parts of breakfast. I’ve mentioned before, and have posted recipes for, my breakfast cookies, my personal weekday portable breakfast of choice. They’re full of good fats, with ground flax seeds, coconut oil, and sometimes other nuts and seeds, depending on the recipe. Stay tuned for a Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookie recipe later this week.
I think the macronutrient that most vegans and vegetarians are most aware of, is protein. If you are any sort of vegetarian and have never been asked where you get your protein, congratulations. But its still good to know the answer, right? Protein is everywhere, tofu, nuts, seeds, tempeh, whole grains, seitan, beans, etc. As far as I am concerned, when it comes to vegetarian sources, there is no unhealthy, or “bad”, protein. Supposedly protein fills you up too, but I’ve never felt that way; I attribute the full feeling more to fat and fiber, than to protein. Regardless, it is important to have protein at all your meals, and as long as you are conscientious of the vegetarian sources, you should be getting more than enough. Some of us want more protein. Muscles are made of protein, and if you are consistently breaking them down, you’re going to need protein to build them back up. I am always pushing my muscles pretty hard, through weight training, yoga, and running, and to facilitate that repair, I turn to protein. The amount of protein we need is debatable, but as a general rule, your body can only absorb so much at once. This is why its a good idea to have some at every meal, so your body can make use of it all.
So much to take in before breakfast! You want the first meal to count though, right? So you need protein, good fat, complex carbohydrates, and nutrients you get from fruits and veggies. It can all sound complicated, but its not so daunting a task.
I have breakfast every morning, but I especially love my weekend breakfast, when I have time before yoga to cook up something different, and relax while I eat. Today I had my ideal breakfast.
It started last night with setting aside some oat groats for a raw “oatmeal”, inspired again by Ani's Raw Food Kitchen.
1/4 cup raw oat groats, soaked overnight, and rinsed
1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tbsp water
1. Blend the oats, water, and nectarine in a food processor until it is "oatmealy".
2. Drizzle with maple syrup
This was my first time having the raw oats, and I was so pleasantly surprised. First off, I couldn't believe how much it smelled like oatmeal just after being rinsed. And it was so chewy and fruity, it was really a really tasty alternative to a bowl of cooked oats.
Now, my weekend scrambles may be old news, but they are seriously my most favorite breakfast. The key ingredient, for me, is the vegan cream cheese. It makes it so nice and creamy. If you can't find the trans fat free version of Tofutti near you, there are a few other vegan cream cheese options, like Vegan Gourmet, and Soya Kass. They're both good, but the Tofutti tastes the best if you are using it as a condiment.
3.5 oz Extra-firm Tofu
1/2 red pepper
1/4 cup scallions
1/2 tsp Bragg's/soy sauce/tamari
1 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
1 tbsp vegan cream cheese
1/2 ripe avocado
I've posted my method before. This isn't too different from my regular scramble, except I added the scallions at the end instead of cooking them with the pepper, like I do when I use yellow onion.
Stats for the ideal breakfast?
Nutrition Information: 516.7 Calories; 22.0g Total Fat; 3.8g Saturated Fat; 0.0mg Cholesterol; 60.9g Carbohydrates; 15.0g Fiber; 24.8g Protein
Vitamin Information: 83.1% Vitamin A; 66.5% Vitamin B-12; 259.5% Vitamin B-6; 213.1% Vitamin C; 9.9% Vitamin E; 4.9% Calcium; 15.2% Copper; 53.6% Folate; 9.8% Iron; 12.3% Magnesium; 31.9% Manganese; 152.8% Niacin; 16.2% Phosphorous; 850.3mg Potassium; 291.9% Riboflavin; 17.0% Selenium; 328.7% Thiamin; 18.4% Zinc
Breakfast of champions, indeed. I absolutely believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If I screw up breakfast, the rest of my day is just off. What do you consider to be your ideal breakfast? I'm always up for new breakfast ideas!
I'm off to finish my lessons for my two weeks of Organic Chem (it ends with something fun)! I know it has a terrible rap, but at the High School level, I really like it (not so much at the college level, I almost failed my second semester...stupid mechanisms).
Oh, and let me know if you won my 500 point prize...no Googling!! I'll think up something good to send ya :)
You get an extra 250 points if you can tell me the chemical process that creates trans fats.
If you really want to be a show-off I'll give you 100 points for the chemical formula for sucrose (table sugar). My teacher made us memorize it in 5th grade, the things that stick with you are funny!
Saturday, February 21, 2009
I’m sorry I haven’t posted in almost a week. I’m disappointed, but I honestly just haven’t had anything to post about. My raw leftovers left me until yesterday, and the one dinner I did make, I wasn’t impressed with.
It is time to start a new week of food though. I am faced with a bit of a challenge this week because I have eaten my local store out of their GoRaw bar stock, so I will have to start packing some kind of healthy lunch-ish meal.
Anyway, I have until Tuesday to worry about that. Right now, I have today’s food to worry about. Wait, worry? No need to be worrying about food. I had my last teaching certification exam this morning, which meant that I missed yoga (sad), but I got to go to the vegan cafe that is near the test location! I’ve posted about Karma Road before, in New Paltz, NY, its a cool little place.
You always get a soup sample when you come in, and today was Sweet Potato Carrot. It was really good. What I ended up getting was the Baked Tofu Sandwich.
Tofu, pesto, roasted red peppes, lettuce, and nayonaise
I can’t resist picking up some dessert when I’m visiting a vegan establishment, and as much as I was tempted to have the “Oh My God” chocolate cake again, I went for the Brown Rice Crispy Treat.
No Picture Because I ATE IT too fast.
Puffed brown rice, brown rice syrup, vegan chocolate chips, and peanuts.
Both were excellent. I wish I lived closer to this place because they have an awesome deli selection; homemade veggie burgers, beans, salads, tofu, etc. There was a “curry of the day” that looked really good, but I was looking for something more portable.
Additionally, I want to thank the very lovely Paulina for nominating me for the Kreativ Blogger award. If you haven’t been to Paulina’s blog, go check it out! She has recently started herself on a very high raw vegan diet, and its so great to see the stuff she comes up with, as well as her recent experience with traveling raw.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
So the color makes this more appropriate for St. Patrick’s Day, the title more appropriate for Halloween, but I figure it is irrelevant since I didn’t get to post this on Valentine’s Day anyway, right?
My brother loves anything with potatoes, and I’ve had some pretty Austrian Fingerlings sitting in the crisper for the past few weeks, so I decided to make him some hash browns for breakfast, since it was Valentine’s Day, and I was being nice. Of course, I couldn’t just make hash browns. I mean...just pure potatoes? Not healthy enough. So I made Broccoli-Potato Hash Browns, using my food processor to grate the potatoes and broccoli, which worked so incredibly well, it made my day.
We had it with my Tempeh Bacon Hash, which I posted a loose recipe for a few weeks ago, but I figured I would post it more officially here, since it has become one of my favorites.
Double Hash for 2
Broccoli-Potato Hash Browns
2 cups potatoes, grated
2 cups broccoli, cooked until slightly crisp, and grated
salt and pepper to taste
1. Press it an oiled pan and cook until browned on one side, and flip (I do this in pieces, I don’t flip the whole thing).
2. Cook on the other side. I tend to flip it a few times until it is cooked through.
Tempeh Bacon Hash
1 package tempeh (8oz), crumbled
4 tsp Bragg’s/tamari/soy sauce
4 tsp agave nectar (honey can sub for this if you aren’t vegan)
4 tbsp ketchup
4 tbsp water
liquid smoke to taste, about 1/8 tsp
1. Mix together the crumbled tempeh with all the other ingredients, let marinate while you do something else (like cook the broccoli-potato hash, or whatever else you might be making with it).
2. Spread in an oiled pan, cooking until it gets kind of golden-brown, and then you want to keep turning it until it is slightly crispy and golden all over.
Totally easy; minimal, simple ingredients, and best eaten all mixed together.
Nutrition Information: 465.4 Calories; 12.7g Total Protein; 2.6g Saturated Fat; 0.0mg Cholesterol; 66.4g Carbohydrates; 7.8g Fiber; 29.9g Protein.
*This could probably serve 3 or 4 people, but for my brother and I it was appropriate, I like a big breakfast.
Besides breakfast, I did spend the rest of my Valentine’s Day with my brother. We went on a little road trip to good old Pennsylvania. He wanted to go to Sonic. I was not thrilled with this idea, but I did a Happy Cow search for stuff nearby, and found that Vegan Treats Bakery was only a few short miles away. So off we went.
Two hours later, we had our very first Sonic experience. Of course, there wasn’t really anything for me to eat there, but I did get a limeade! Their drinks were always what intrigued me anyway. My brother got some kind of bacon burger on texas toast, which he said was good. My limeade (diet limeade, actually) was really good. And, we went during “Happy Hour”, so it was only $0.90.
(Yes, that is the actually scenery, we were in the middle of NOWHERE)
Next, we headed over to Vegan Treats, who have been featured in VegNews a number of times. My brother was already stuffed, but he was a good sport and had a giant cookie. I also got a giant cookie for my dad, a cupcake for my mom, and some carrot cake and a mini vegan Oreo cheesecake for myself.
Yes, two cakes for me. I ate the carrot cake right in the car, haha. I forgot a fork, so...hands it was, right out of the box. No, it was not a pretty sight (ask my brother)...but it was delicious. Actually, the cake was delicious, the frosting wasn’t cream cheesey enough for me. I could tell just by looking at it that it was too white, but the cake part was worth it.
The only problem with this little adventure is that I haven’t been eating a lot of sugar lately. By cutting out eating sugar after 8, I haven’t really been eating any sugar besides some carob raisins here and there. So, this carrot cake went straight to me head and I had a headache in about 20 minutes.
I still had to taste the Oreo cheesecake when I got home though. You can see it has a kind of Oreo mousse on top...that was fantastic. The cheesecake itself didn’t really taste like much, which was disappointing. I actually liked the cheesecake we made for Thanksgiving more than this one. Maybe they have yet to discover Tofutti? I mean, I don’t think it is hard to mimic the cream cheese flavor, which I clearly love since both things I bought were (or should have been) cream cheesey. Oh, and I can tell you that the cookies my dad and brother had were delicious, because I had a taste of my brother’s, and my mom said the cupcake was good. So, my suggestion is to just avoid the cheesecake. Not that it is bad, it just isn’t worth the calories, in my opinion. They have soft serve soy ice cream and doughnuts too.
I was greeted with a nice surprise when I got home too. Up until now, it was looking like my brother was going to my Valentine this year, and...not that I don’t love him but...well that’s kind of weird. But I came home to find a Valentine’s Day surprise.
This pictures isn’t very good, but on the bottom right is an orange and red rose. I’m sure you’ve seen them, its kind of mixed, and it is my favorite. There were a few of them, but you can only see one in this picture.
I also got a turtle in a can. I mentioned in my posts about my trip to Hawaii that my husband and I are really fond of the turtles, and we would go and visit them often. So, he sent me a turtle in a can. Like, I used a can opener to open it, and this little guy popped out.
He is so cute, although Zoe is a little wary.
Oh, I also wanted to follow up on the Chilies & Cherries ChocoLove bar. It was possibly the best piece of chocolate I have ever had. I’m not really a huge chocolate person, but I ate the whole thing. I will usually only have a piece or two at a time (I mean like, a square at a time), but I happily ate the whole thing. Yes, before the 8 PM sugar cutoff (not hard when you go to bed at 9:30).
Speaking of 9:30, it is rapidly approaching bedtime. I did want to mention quickly that we went to see Coraline today, and it was...weird. The 3D was cool, although you kind of forgot about it after a few minutes. But the movie was just...weird. I can't really recommend or NOT recommend it, it was just...weird. Although, I went into it having no clue what it was about, so that may have affected my opinion. I think I may have liked it more if I had an idea of what it was about beforehand...so check it out before you see it!
I am doing a raw day tomorrow, plus more running and more yoga, and I'm so excited for it. I hope everyone is having a good weekend!