Sunday, June 28, 2009

A New (Raw) Day

The first time I ever did a "raw day" I was nervous about exercising.  Worried that I wouldn't be eating enough, not getting enough calories, would be tired, sluggish, etc.  Yesterday, after having some dates, I went out and ran (and walked) a total of 5 miles, and I'm still feeling pretty peachy.  

The menu included a lot of nut and seed soaking, prep time, and a very messy kitchen, but it was well worth it.  

Breakfast was a Vega Smoothie.  The very lovely people at Vega sent me a nice sized bag of Vega Whole Food Smoothie Infusion last week.  While the hemp in Vega is raw, the other proteins aren't (like the pea protein).  I figured with so much good stuff in it, was still okay with me to start a raw day.  

But, I was skeptical.  Oh SO skeptical.  I have regular Vega and I'm not a fan of it.  I bought it because it has so much great healthy stuff in it, but I just can't have it every day, for various reasons.  I decided I'd make their Blueberry Smoothie suggestion on the back of the package, since I had fresh blueberries from the farmer's market yesterday.  My first impression?  Ew.  The powder is a gross green color...but that's because its filled with greens (spirulina, spinach, broccoli, etc)!  So I sucked it up and made the smoothie. was really good!!  It was still a gross greenish brown color (hence the lack of didn't want to see it), but that's just what happens when you add greens to a smoothie.  The Vega Smoothie Infusion is about 120 calories a serving and has 14 grams of protein.  So the verdict is, if you're looking for a very healthy, very easy way to start (or end, or continue) you day, there is no denying that this stuff is really good for you, and pretty tasty to boot!

I can't possibly say enough about how delicious my lunch was, so I will just give you a picture which does not do it justice.  

This is the Baked Macaroni and Cheese from Everyday Raw, with Buckwheat Cheezies (recipe follows).  This was SO good.  What really made it just the best was that it was dehydrated for awhile, so the squash softened a little bit.  Really, this is fantastic, if you have the book, you must try it.  

The Buckwheat Cheezies are based on a recipe that was in Vegetarian Times a few months ago, but I made it raw-ish, so I will share.    

1/2 cup Raw Buckwheat Groats
1/4 cup plus 1-2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast (not raw)
2 tbsp Olive Oil
3 garlic cloves
5-ish Basil Leavs (depends on how much you like basil)
2 tsp salt

1.  Soak buckwheat groats overnight.  Give them some space because they just about double in size.
2.  Dehydrate the groats for about 3 hours at 104 degrees.
3.  Blend together the oil, garlic, salt, and basil until it makes a thick paste.
4.  When the groats are dehydrated, add them to a bowl with the paste and mush everything together until all the groats are more or less coated with something (it may not be even).  
5.  Dehydrate for another 30-60 minutes.

These are so yummy!  I wouldn't eat them by themselves, the raw garlic is fairly strong, but they were absolutely perfect over the baked mac and cheese.  Also, for those of you without a dehydrator, you can do this in a 300 degree oven too, which is what the original recipe calls for.  If you want to roll that way, you don't need to pre-dehydrate them, and you should only keep them in for 30 minutes.  Also, if you're not keeping it raw, you could cook the garlic with the oil.  

Makes 8 2-Tbsp Servings
Nutritional Information:  90.5 Calories;  4.1g Total Fat;  0.6g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  10.7g Carbohydrates;  2.6g Fiber;  4.6g Protein.  And 181% of the RDA for Vitamin B12!

One of the things I was really itching to make with the dehydrator was Ani's Black Sesame Sunflower Bread.  

I had it as a raw sandwich for dinner along with her Sun-Dried Tomato Cheeze, topped with some avocado and tomato, along with some fresh farmer's market green beans.  This Cheeze was okay.  The Black Pepper Cheeze was way better.    

The bread was somewhat of a disaster, although it worked out in the end!  Because my kitchen is still in pieces all over the country, I don't have things like sieves, so it was hard to get all the water out of the teeny flaxseeds and sesame seeds.  I think that made it too watery, and it made a bit of a mess.  Again though, it worked out.  Next time I make it I think I'll take her advice to make a few batches of it.  I calculated the nutritional information for it and was really surprised.  I'm not a big "real" bread person, so I'd choose this any day.  

Makes 9 Slices
Nutrition Information:  167.6 Calories;  13.0g Total Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  9.6g Carbohydrates;  7.0g Fiber;  6.6g Protein

Dessert, of course, was the impetus for having a raw day at all.  I've had my eye on the Key Lime Kream Bars in Ani's Raw Food Desserts since the moment I opened the book.  

I really didn't need a "raw day" as an excuse to make them, since they came together in all of 5 minutes (plus freezing time).  They are yummy!  I made a dessert or two in Ani's first book and I thought that they were incredibly salty, but it seems like she's toned it down for this book, and everything I've tried so far (like the Strawberry Macaroons) has been fantastic! 

I really love having an (almost) entirely raw day.  Because I have far too much time on my hands now, I calculated the nutritional information for everything (email me if you want any of it), and it came to just about 2000 calories (including an orange I had for a snack), which is perfect for me.  What is really more important to me though, is that it all came from good, whole food.  Nothing is better than that, right?  

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Zero Calorie Sparkling Iced Green Tea

Everywhere I go now is so close that I rarely turn on the radio.  But it seems like every time I do I hear an ad for a new Lipton's product, Sparkling Green Tea.  Sounds yummy.  Especially now that it is really getting warmer here.  Of course I knew without even looking that one of the first ingredients would be sugar.  They proved me wrong though, its actually high fructose corn syrup.  My bad.  

So I set out to create my own.  Should be easy enough, right?  Well it is!  

2 green tea bags
1/2 cup water 
3/4-1 cup sparkling water
stevia to taste (liquid or powder, your preference)

1.  Heat the water until it just begins to bubble, not boil  Green tea shouldn't be steeped in water that is too hot or it cooks the leaves.  If it does start to boil, just let it cool a little before you add the tea bags.  
2.  Let both of the tea bags steep for a few minutes.  The taste will be rather strong, and the color will be fairly dark because it is pretty concentrated.  *Its important that you do this first for two reasons.  First, it will dissolve easier while the tea is warm.  Second, if you add the stevia after the sparkling water is added, it loses some of its fizz.*    
3.  Allow the tea to cool in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  
4.  When chilled remove from fridge and add sparkling water (which should also be chilled, just in case that isn't obvious).
6.  Drink!  Enjoy!  Be refreshed!  

Serves 1-4.  Depends on how much tea you want (and you can have as much as you want because it has no calories!)  I used some tea I got as a favor at the wedding we went to a few weeks ago, from our friends who we met when we were in Hawaii.  

You can obviously do this with any kind of tea:  green, black, white, etc.  Also, if you don't like stevia you can use sugar or agave and it'll still be lower in calories than the Lipton stuff.  If you are nervous about trying stevia, I say now is the time to try it!  I've been using it for quite awhile, in liquid and powder form, and I personally prefer the powder (although they both have their uses).  For stevia, I like the NuNaturals brand.  

This has maltodextrin added which I think is what makes it so NOT bitter, and it also mixes really well.  They make a zero-carb version also, which has some erythritol added.  I've used erythritol before, and I never really gave a review about it.  I don't like it.  It is a sugar alcohol and it just has a grainy taste and doesn't dissolve well.  They both are calorie free, so I'm sticking with this one.  

My only real personal update is that I really have no update.  Nothing worth sharing has been coming out of my kitchen, whether prepared by me or from a recipe.  Sadly most things have flopped, or they were just boring everyday things.  My mom has requested that I write down a recipe for one of my rice recipes that she loves, so that is coming, as well as some scones I plan on making tonight.  Oh, and tomorrow is going to be a raw day, so come back for that!  

As far as running is going, its going.  I'm much slower than I used to be which is extremely frustrating, but I'm still getting up and going which is what is most important right now.  I'm going out again with my new running buddy tomorrow (who is a vegetarian!) for a long run (which right now is only 5 miles, haha).  I also had lunch with another vegan yesterday (vegan friends, yay!), so I'm not just sitting at home with Zoe.  

So, that is why its been awhile, but I have much planned, so be sure to come back this week!      

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sweet Harvest Muffins

A lot of things have changed since I started this blog.  My husband came back from Iraq, I moved, I completed my student teaching, I graduated.  All good stuff.  One not so good thing though, is that there is more of me.  

A little background, I've lost some weight in the past.  I grew up eating a pretty normal diet, but my mom was always good about getting low fat mayo, turkey burgers, diet soda, low fat cream cheese, etc.  Then I went to college and there was full fat butter, whole milk whipped cream, and those disgusting Minute Steak cheesesteaks that were full of fat but tasted delicious.  Oh yeah, and there was beer.  Obviously I wasn't vegan or vegetarian before college, or during college, but the quality of my diet was severely different and as such...I gained weight.  

By the end of my junior year I was about 30 pounds overweight.  I started watching what I ate (and drank), I started exercising, and I eventually lost the full 30 pounds, although I don't think the weight I was at was ever sustainable for me.  I didn't become vegetarian until after I lost the weight, and I didn't become vegan until after my weight sort of evened out. 

I'm very frustrated because while I know exactly how and why the weight has come back on (stress!!!), I'm disappointed with myself for letting it happen.  But what else can I do but fix it, right?  I signed up for a 5K, I found a running buddy (we're going tomorrow, we'll see how that goes), I have a training plan, and a nutrition plan.  I don't have a scale, so I don't necessarily have a number that I am looking for, but it'd be nice if my jeans would fit again without having to do the "stretch out the jeans" dance.

To start out on the right foot, I made some muffins last night.  I know, that doesn't *sound* like it is on the right foot, but if they're the Sweet Harvest muffins from Sweet Freedom, they can be.  You've had zucchini bread, and you've probably tried carrot cake or muffin.  But this muffins packs in three different vegetables as well as something a little fruity.  Plus there's a little chocolately hint of goodness.  I did halve the number of chocolate chips.    

Makes 12 Muffins
Nutrition Information:  214.4 Calories;  8.0g Total Fat;  0.9g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  36.7g Carbohydrates;  4.5g Fiber;  4.6g Protein

These are so nice and moist.  One of my favorite things about this book (of which you can buy the hard copy or the e-book, like I did), is her reminder that you can freeze everything!  I get tempted when yummy baked goodness is just lying around.  

For lunch I had some roasted beets, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted garlic, and scallions with a sweet mustard dressing.  Simply it was about 2tbsp Vegenaise, 2 tsp brown mustard, 1 packet stevia, and a few tsp of apple cider vinegar.  

There was tofu too, but not pictured

Hopefully this is a new leaf turning over.  Not just getting in better shape but generally having some stability, and hopefully a better 5K time.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Want to see Food Inc?

If you're in the NY area and are free on Saturday around 3PM and want to see Food Inc, send me an email (not a comment, I won't be able to get to the computer to check the blog, but I'll check my email on my phone).  

Long story short, my brother, Nick, and I are going to see it tomorrow.  I bought the tickets for the wrong day.  So, you should be able to take two friends.  I need to talk to the box office, and they haven't been answering their phones, but I'm assuming it'll be okay if I just give you the confirmation number.  It'd be even better if you contact me before I get there tomorrow around 3PM, so I can give them your name in case there are any problems with the tickets being purchased in my name.  

Also, its first come first serve, but if you are only one person, then I'd hope you'd be open to me giving the other tickets to other people and meeting up to go in together (you don't have to sit together, but you could make new friends!).  

Anyway, if you want to see it, again, email me asap!  

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ragin' Vegans

No, we're not angry, and we're not mean.  In fact...we're not really "raging" at all.  But we did spend the weekend in the land of the Ragin' Cajuns, which is the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's mascot (it took us awhile to figure it out).  Long story short, we had a wedding reception to go to for one of Nick's military friends.  

It can always be difficult to be a vegan "on the road" (even though we flew, you know what I mean), and I was worried that my husband's first vegan-away-from-home experience was going to be terrible.  We had no refrigerator, we had no microwave, and...we were in Louisiana.  The land of crawfish and gumbo.  Very un-vegan.  

Surprisingly, that was not the case.  First off, the Philadelphia airport made me extremely happy.  This little CIBO stand (concourse E, if you're looking for it) that was right behind our gate had the obligatory Clif and Lara bars, that would have definitely worked.  But upon delving deeper, they also had a ton of fresh fruit and vegetables, Sabra hummus and pretzel chips, and vegan cookies!  Dairy, egg, and nut free cookies!  So cute, called Divvies because they are meant to share, and share we did.  We had the chocolate chip, and they were perfectly soft, exactly what I was hoping for, but not expecting.  Looking at their website once we got to a computer, the whole company is awesome!  They don't just make cookies, but caramel corn, jelly beans, cupcakes, etc!  These are all things that I love (yes, I have a little bit of a sweet tooth).   

We were hungry when we got to Louisiana.  We were also worried and ill prepared (we didn't really pack anything but some trail mix, and we hadn't researched but one was all we could find).  GPS to the rescue.  I always search International Cuisine first.  We found a really nice and really yummy Greek place called Zeus (they had bellydancers and everything).  

We had stuffed grape leaves for the first time!  I had falafel for dinner (pictured), and Nick had a vegetarian plate which included moussaka, lentils, hummus, etc.

We got breakfast from Wal-Mart.  My go-to cereal is Special K protein plus.  I really like having a little extra protein in the morning and this is lower in calories (meaning you can eat enough of it so that you actually feel full), and has a nice cinnamony taste.  We got some individual sized Silk (I don't usually drink sweetened soymilk was vacation!), fruit, and we were more than good to go.  Well, after that plus the coffee we were good to go. 

The bottom with the orange top is liquid stevia.  A must, for me to drink coffee.

Lunch was at the one veg place I had found before we left.  It was a little place called The Whole Wheatery.  I had a hummus and tabbouli stuffed pita (we ate a lot of hummus on this trip).  

Dinner...well that was the night of the wedding, we mainly just had fruit and raw veggies.  But we did fill up on some snacks beforehand, which we got from the Fresh Market.  It was cool, they had about 72 big bulk bins (kind of set up like barrels, not your typical bulk bin), with everything from trail mixes to raw nuts and dried fruit to fresh coffee beans.

The next day was kind of a bust.  We had the same breakfast, we had a salad and french fries for lunch at a very local place, and the selection at the airport was miniscule.  We did, however, get some Alternative Baking Company cookies at our layover in Memphis.  Some vegan, gluten free goodness amongst the rib buffets!  I've been wanting to try these for ages, but I could never convince myself to waste the calories (about 240 calories for half a giant cookie).  I figured, since I had barely eaten anything, it'd be okay.  I went for Snickerdoodle.  Nick got both a Double Chocolate Decadence and a Colossal Chocolate Chip.  Don't get me wrong, the chocolately ones were both good (I stole a bite of each), but the Snickerdoodle was amazing!  It was soft all the way through to the middle, but still just a little firm on the outside.  Cookie awesomeness.  It actually kept me pretty full too.  Nick though, after two of them, was still feeling a little sugar-rushed by the time we got home.  

I guess the moral of the story here can be vegan almost anywhere, and don't judge a place before you get there...or at least Google-Earth it.  Some places will be harder than others, naturally, but its all about knowing where to look.  After being vegan for awhile, you know the types of establishments that will most likely have *something* you can eat, or you can easily ask for something veganized.  We ended up eating a lot of Greek food, but there were also Japanese, Thai, Indian, and Mexican places in the area, all of which could have easily worked.  

I leave with some pictures from our trip to the Tabasco factory (which I always thought was just a name for hot sauce, not a name brand).  

Nick at the entrance

A fishy being teased by a "Tabasco pepper"

A Louisiana Bayou!

If you're going to be doing some lengthy flying, check out my Vegan in the Air post from when I went to Hawaii!  

Nick has a review for you tomorrow, so make sure to come back and give him some love!  

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Another Momentous Day

It was going to be so hard to top a 100th post, that I figured I would wait for another momentous day.  Luckily, one came quickly!  

Today is our third anniversary!  (Wedding anniversary, if that wasn't clear).  Its hard to believe, really, maybe because we've been apart for more than half of it.

For our first anniversary, we went to our favorite place at the time, Roy's.  This was just around my switch to vegetarianism, and I remember being really conflicted about the fish.  For some reason people seem to view fish as lesser beings, hence the increase in pescatarians, but fishies have always been some of my favorite animals, so I didn't quite get that.  I had goldfish wen I was younger and when I was in college, my husband (then boyfriend, obviously) got me two goldfish.  Once we have our own house and little more room, we hope to get a really big tank (we'll see how Zoe feels about that).  (By the way, some Roy's locations have really fantastic separate vegetarian menus.  For example, the one in Maui is fantastic.  The one in Baltimore, sucks).    

Anyway, our last anniversary he was in Iraq, so we didn't really do anything.  This year we're finally together again, there is no fishy conflict, and my husband offered to make dinner.  That's right ladies and gentlemen.  Not only has he decided to try out eating a vegan diet, but he's trying to learn to cook too.  If you knew my husband, you would probably want to call him up to confirm this because it even sounds to ME like I'm making it up.  I'm happy for him though.  

He made the Three-Bean Chili from The Vegan Table, substituting the three cans of beans we had on hand. It took every ounce of self control for me to not go over and check on him constantly, but I tried my best to relax and watch the train wreck that is Daisy of Love (did I just admit that??).  

Three Bean Chili with Roman Beans, Kidney Beans, and Small White Beans

I was in charge of dessert.  This was a toughie.  If I made a cake, I'd spend the next few days stuffing my face with it.  He requested chocolate, and the same fate was true with brownies.  Yes, I want to relax and enjoy my anniversary, but I don't want it carrying over to the rest of my week and causing me grief.  I scoured the cookbooks...Vegan with a Vengeance?  Ani's Raw Food Desserts?  Veganomicon?  Vegan Express?  

I finally settled on the Chocolate Orange Pudding from Vegan Soul Kitchen.  Who doesn't like a rich chocolately pudding, right?  From there I took the easy way out and made mini chocolate pudding pies using store-bought pie crusts.  

I made the topping, and if anyone wants the "recipe" feel free to email me.  It was really easy and it went perfectly.  The only problem?  They were super good and even though I only made half a recipe of the pudding it filled five mini pie crusts.  So we both had two...but that's what anniversaries are for :)   

On Monday I mentioned an announcement, and I still have it, although it has changed a little.  Nick just found out that he has some temporary duty at Ft Lewis starting at the end of this month.  If you are unaware, Ft Lewis is in Washington state.  We are in New Jersey now.  And we are driving!  The drive out there, I think is going to be a straight shot.  One the way back though, I'm hoping to take a little bit more time and see California a little, and go through the middle of the country.  I've gone cross-country before with my family, but never to Washington, and never as a vegan.  So...if anyone has some must-see, or must-eat-at places, a suggestion for a route to take on the way back, advice, etc, let me know!!  And I mean, anywhere in the country really.  Comment or email, I want to know the best places to stop at, from random to obvious.  And, if anyone lives near Seattle, let me know, I will most likely be pretty bored!   

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Warming Sensation (POST 100!!)

Can you believe this is my 100th post?  That is something crazy.  Its been almost nine months, which also means I've been vegan for a little longer than that.  Its all so "milestone-y".    

Okay, well the first order of business is, husband says to use his name.  Husband = Nick.  I'm sure you would have caught on.  

Second order of business.  We moved!  I know, I mentioned this time and again, that I wanted to move, that we were going to move, that we were living in a hobbit's shoebox, that we were in the process of moving, etc.  Well its done.  Some of our stuff is still on its way from storage in Hawaii, but I thought I'd give you a tour of one room that looks like it is completely finished:  the kitchen!  

Now, the apartment is small, so the kitchen is small, and its not even an eat-in, but its pretty nice.  Here you are walking in:  

Nick wanted me to show you the fridge.  I don't think he's ever seen this many vegetables in one place before!  We went to the farmer's market yesterday and picked up local greens and strawberries, squash and eggplant.  Yum.  

I am a big fan of the Debbie Meyer's Green Bags (yes, they work!!!).

You will then turn and see my makeshift pantry on the left.  There is a ton of storage all over the apartment.  Our bedroom has three closets.  Yet, there is no pantry in the kitchen.  So, this is what we did.  It works.  

Oh wait.  What is that?  I told you, its my pantry.  No, no.  That big giant black box on the right.  Ohhh, that.  

That is my new dehydrator!!  I was so stressed around my birthday that I never told my parents what I wanted, or rather, exactly which dehydrator I wanted.  I finally got around to it (easy decision), and when I went home last week it was waiting for me!  I know, its gigantic, its the 9 tray Excaliber, and I am very excited about it.  

Okay moving on (don't worry, I'm getting back to the dehydrator in a minute), we have been eating food.  In fact, Nick even went and cooked by himself the day I was home last week, and I suspect he'll want to be sharing it with you at some point.  This weekend though, someone has been sick.  Someone is not me.  He spent way over 24 hours of this weekend in bed with a fever.  So, tonight we had soup.  Possibly, the most simple soup ever in the entire world because I was being super lazy.  

This is 1 coffee mug of Bob's Red Mill Vegi Soup Mix (we don't have measuring cups), 4 coffee mugs of water, 4 tsp low sodium vegetable broth powder, 4 tbsp tomato paste, liquid smoke, salt & pepper.  This belongs in the "stupid easy" category, but I enjoyed it so much!  It simmered in the broth for 30 minutes, then I added the liquid smoke, salt, pepper, and tomato paste, and gave it another 30 minutes.  I am really happy we have leftovers because I want more.  Does anyone else buy low-sodium broth and then end up adding salt because it tastes like nothing?  I wonder if it ends up being more or less sodium in the end.  

Anyway, on top are a few of Peanut Butter Boy's Roasted Chickpeas,which I also made today.  I was hoping for a stronger peanut butter flavor, but the do give a good crunch!  

I mentioned how excited I was to get Ani's Raw Food Dessert book a few weeks ago (and many times on other's blogs too).  I got it the week it came out, and until today, I hadn't made anything from it.  So sad.  Well, I finally had my dehydrator.  Although not many of the recipes in the book actually call for dehydration, I still wanted one of them to be the first thing I made.  So, at the farmer's market we got strawberries.  I picked up a few medjool dates at the store, and everything else was in my pantry to make Strawberry Macaroons!  

Her recipe says it makes 6.  She is making GIANT macaroons!!!  I got 15.  They dehydrated, nice and quietly, for 3 hours.  My husband and I split one when they were done.  His reaction was something like "....?!?!  These are amazing!!  Good thing we have a dehydrator now."  They really are awesome.  They're just firm enough on the outside that you can pick them up no problem, but they're still so soft and moist on the inside, and you can taste the fresh strawberries.  He was looking through Ani's Raw Food Kitchen later on, and he wanted to know what she was eating on the front cover, and then wanted to make it, so....I see her burgers in our future. 

Okay, well that it is it for the food portion of this post!  But...I do have more to say and show you.  When we were living in the hobbit house, I mentioned that Zoe was very unhappy.  Well, she is much much happier here.  

Her new favorite activity:  Watching cars 
(we live outside of the mall entrance, lots of action for her!)

She likes to cuddle with smelly boots.

Blurry, but too cute not to post it!

We got her this scratching "thing" on Saturday.  I heard her scratching *something* she wasn't supposed to be scratching in the middle of the night.  I'm pretty sure it is our chair seats, and this thing has a really cool texture, which is just what she seems to like.  

The idea is that they "sit" in the seat part, and then scratch the woven part.  So, she's doing it wrong, haha.  Nick calls it her "couch", and she does snuggle with it.  Here she is "with" him.

So far she loves it.  I'm really hoping it'll keep her attention away from our chairs.  

Thank you to everyone who has been reading and commenting on my last 100 posts.  It has been so wonderful getting to know so many of you, and I appreciate everyone who has stuck with me even though I haven't been able to post as frequently.  I hope that I will get know even more blog friends (whether or not you have a blog, feel free to comment or email!) over the next 100 posts!  

Now its on to a busy summer of blogging...and it WILL be announcement and a request tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Bring on the WK

As well as taking on a vegan diet, my husband has also decided to start cooking with me.  Its nice to have least, it will be once he figures out where everything is, but I figured for his first meal we'd start with something relatively easy.  Enter the Indian spice packets from a new company, Waverly Kitchens, that I received to test out.  Its kind of a whole system, they do the best describing it themselves (since I confess to having no knowledge of Indian cooking besides knowing I like to eat it):
Our product, WK Pacs, are a combination of a two part spice blend (optimizing the Indian cooking process), simple instructions, a thorough shopping list, and online resource community.  All WK Pacs are 100% vegetarian and we recently launched a vegan product line.
They are even vegan conscious when it comes to their vegetarian line, suggesting tofu as a substitution for the paneer cheese that some of the vegetarian WK Pacs call for.

So, what did we think?  Well, the people from Waverly Kitchens are really nice, and my packet came in the mail very promptly, even though they initially contacted me when I was ridiculously busy and took over 3 weeks to get back to them (terrible!!  I publicly apologize).  

These were the packets were received:  

First, they are pretty!  I love their little tree symbol (in the top right corner).  Second, they are REALLY convenient.  On one side of the packet is the list of all the ingredients you will need for the dish.  On the other side are very easy to follow step-by-step directions.  Inside the packet are the two spice packets.  One on the top, and one on the bottom, you just rip them open, cut open your spices, pour and..that's it!  Our packets made Chola Curry (chickpea curry), Spinach Raita, and Peas and Potato Sabji.  For this meal we only had the Curry and Raita (which isn't pictured).  

The idea is to eat all three packets together, but we just had the chola and raita with brown rice, because I felt like I needed something to balance out the curry.  Not necessarily to back off the heat, the raita is obviously for that, I just needed something besides "spice, spice, spice".  We could have make the potatoes and had the rice but....that's just too much food for me, haha.  That being said, this was a really good meal, and we definitely will be making the Peas and Potato Sabji soon!

So, if you want some help with an authentic Indian dinner, I definitely suggest checking out Waverly Kitchens.  You can sign up for a free trial at their website, but be sure to realize that if you don't cancel, they will keep coming, and you will be charged each month!  I definitely recommend trying out their product!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Challenge Weekend One

We're closing in on week one of my husband's 30 day vegan challenge.  In my last post I mentioned that I thought this would be his most difficult weekend, and...well if I was right, then the rest of this challenge should be a breeze.  

I don't have any pictures so I won't bore you with too many words, but Saturday we had a cookout at my aunt's house with some of our relative who are visiting from Italy.  We brought veggie burgers, so we had them on whole wheat buns with some rice salad that my aunt made.  Plus there was the raw veggies out.  Oh, and then fruit salad...watermelon...yumm.  It was really a lot of fun to meet them, and was all around a good day!  

Sunday we went down to my husband's family to see his sister off (she is going to Greece).  We now live exactly halfway between both of our families, so its kind of convenient.  Anyway, they were cooking out too, so we brought veggie burgers, but I didn't even end up eating them because my mother in law had gotten a tofu recipe from a friend of hers that was really good (thankfully...I don't think they had really tried tofu before). That with brown rice, corn on the cob, some polenta and vegetable pie she made, baked potato wedges, etc, was plenty for me.  My husband still ate two veggie burgers (Southwest flavor Sunshine burgers.  I've never had them, but he said they were good), along with everything else though.  Oh and there was dessert too!  My sister in law is gluten-free, so we had two options for vegan and gluten-free dessert.  Impressive.  

My in laws have a really awesome natural food store near their house, and as much as I love Wegmans, I do miss the local places.  So we went on our way home.  I didn't really get too much, but I did get these olive oil...things.  

I can't explain them, and I ate them all already (they were REALLY good).  I guess they are kind of like a mix between a pastry/cookie and a cracker.  Like, a sweet cracker.  But round, and sprinkled with sugar.  What put them completely over the top awesome though was the ground anise and anise extract.  Soooo good.  I have never seen them there before, and they were this special "imported" item, so I don't know if they'll be there next time, but if they KNOW I'll be buying some more.  

Today we got up EARLY and went to spinning at 5:45.  We got there at 5:40 only to find out we were actually 10 minutes late because they moved the class up to 5:30.  I totally LOVED it!  It was so much fun.  On top of that we're going to be lifting tonight.  It sounds like a lot, but because of his job, my husband almost always works out twice a day.  Since I have the time now, why not?  On days we don't lift I am going to do yoga.  I've found a place around here called Yogawood that does an Ashtanga style flow, which is what I am used to, and what I love, but I think I may try a Bikram place tomorrow.  By the way, I want to clear up something I said on Friday, that the yoga didn't keep my legs very strong, and I think I should mention that "strong" is a pretty relative term.  Yoga keeps your muscles fit and relatively strong...but not strong enough to squat 100 pounds.  I hope that makes more sense.  To ME, that is STRONG.  Warrior poses don't really do much of anything to my leg muscles (my hips, that's another story).  I lost much more strength in my big legs lifts than I did in my upper body lifts.  But, every kind of exercise, every practice, whether its yoga, running, lifting, etc they all have their own benefits, and they all make you strong in some way.  Which explains why I'm always trying to do a little bit of everything!      

After spinning we have breakfast, which has been "interesting".  Since all I have is a Magic Bullet (no blender), I have a very limited volume capacity.  My smoothies always consist of six ingredients:
1.  Banana
2.  Spinach
3.  Protein powder
4.  Non-dairy milk
5.  Frozen fruit
6.  Water    

Well, as you may imagine, this does not fit in the Magic Bullet very well.  So I've been making them in pieces, and we end up with a green component (spinach, banana, water), and a fruit colored component (today was purple---blueberries!!).  When you pour them together it looks all swirly.  
I just think it looks cool, but my husband likes it like this because he says he can taste the separate components.  Okay. 

In case you were wondering, we're not using the same protein powder.  I'm using the same stuff I've talked about a bunch of times.  My rice and pea blend, sweetened with stevia, from  He is using a GNC soy protein isolate.  I can taste such a difference.  His is sweetened with sucralose, I believe, and it is so much sweeter.  I don't like it because it reminds me too much of whey.  So if you are trying to move away from whey, this stuff may be the way to go.  

One last update.  I stopped at my parents this weekend before going to my aunt's house.  I talked about the baby birds living on their porch a few days ago.  

Well this was my mom's most recent picture of them, just a week after that first picture. 

 And this was my picture of them this weekend.  

They're gone!  The babies have officially grown up and left the nest (and my family can use the front door again).  

As far as the vegan challenge, so far it is going very very well.  He says he's feeling really good, and...well that's about it, what else do you want?  Yesterday on the way to my in-laws, I had him listen to Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's podcast, Vegetarian Food for Thought.  Now, I know I have  mentioned her in passing before, but I seriously love this podcast.  The one I really wanted him to listen to was one of her most recent episodes, and its one that I suggest everyone listens to.  I know I have people who read this who aren't necessarily vegetarian or vegan, I'm talking to you, too.  It may not be something that you want to hear, but I think its worth the 40 minutes to just listen.  Not because I want you to be vegan.  But because I want you to be sure you are YOUR definition of healthy.  You can take from it whatever you want, but I think it should be required listening.  And I will never beg you to listen to another one of her podcasts again, I swear.  You can even do it through iTunes, just search.  So, go download:  Vegetarian Food for Thought, Diseases of Civilization.  Now.      

My husband was really unhappy I was making him do this, but once he started listening to her, I think he is hooked.  He takes a lot of pride in being well educated, and her podcast present information that he has never really looked into before.  It is very well research, and it isn't presented in an angry way, so its hard not to listen.  We listened to it the whole way there, and then he told me I could put it on "if I wanted to" on the way home.

One last thing (I swear).  I get really tired of say "my husband this", "my husband that", etc.  I know that other bloggers have other names for their significant others or family members (BoyfriendLovlie from VeganLovie, CD from Heather Eats Almond Butter, and Mama and Papa Crunk from Vegan Crunk come to mind), but I got nothing .   Any ideas?  

Allright, NOW I'm done.  I hope everyone is having a wonderful Monday!!