Friday, January 16, 2015

Ringing In The New Year With Whole Foods....

Republic Of Tea
Double Green Matcha Tea

Wow, I can’t believe I’ve been MIA for so long! I didn’t mean to be, but I guess the holiday’s really wiped me out. I’m so glad they’re over and that a new year has begun. We gorged and gorged over the holidays and by the time January 1st came around I was feeling sick and gross and craving nothing but whole foods. The past couple of years I’ve used January as a sort of cleanse month, and I’m doing the same thing again this year. I had planned to post each day about what I was eating, and how I was feeling, or at least every other day like the past couple years but I haven’t done a very good job of that obviously. Sometimes I just forget to take photos, and often I just can’t be bothered to write about what I’m eating but hopefully now after my little break I’ll get back into the swing of things.

So what have I been eating/doing exactly? Well, I’m not following a particular diet or cleanse - even though there are plenty of them out there - I’m just doing my own thing. I’ve gotten back into juicing and I’m following a mostly raw diet, that incorporates some cooked food. Usually the ‘cooked’ food is store-bought coconut milk, or a legume, or some steamed vegetables at dinner. Stuff like that. Over the past month I’ve been avoiding alcohol, coffee - though I’m allowing caffeinated tea - refined sugar - I use a little bit of maple syrup or agave but keep it limited - gluten - except for last night - processed foods, and limited grains. I’ve been sticking with whole foods, mostly fruits and vegetables, lots of vegetables, lots of salads, and I have to say I feel pretty darn good. Light, and clean, my insides feel very clean indeed, and I feel very positive about it.

Like I said I haven’t been a very dutiful blogger, I haven’t taken photos of everything I’ve eaten over the past couple of weeks but I’ve taken a few. So here is an example of the kind of stuff I’ve been consuming.

Most days I start with a fresh juice, usually grapefruit/orange which as many of you probably know from last year is my favorite combination. Other days it’s a green juice, or a mixed veggie/fruit juice. The other day it was Apple, Lime, Cucumber and that was pretty good though a bit tart.

For a solid meal at breakfast time I’ve really only been eating 1 of 2 things. I either have this delicious raw Morning Scramble from Judita Wignall’s awesome book “Raw & Simple” Or I have a bowl of Cherry Hemp Muesli also from “Raw & Simple.” both are amazing, and like my new favorite breakfast options!

Morning Scramble 

The Scramble is so flavorful and actually tastes like eggs which amazes me because the ingredients are so simple. It’s just a mashed avocado with turmeric, and black salt, topped with diced tomato, and marinated veggies. The marinated veg is spinach, onion, and shiitake mushrooms and they’re simply marinated for 10 minutes in Tamari and Olive Oil. SO GOOD! And surprisingly filling.

The Muesli is also very simple, containing dried cherries, dates, almonds, vanilla, oats, and hemp seeds. Sometimes I also throw in some sesame seeds, flaxseed, and then top it off with blueberries and coconut milk. Today I also threw in a bit of cacao nibs. This stuff is delicious and really hits the spot.

Cherry Hemp Muesli 

Before I got hooked on this muesli I was eating the Power Muesli from the book “Chia” by Lauri Boone. This is also a seriously delicious muesli containing oats, cranberries, goldenberries, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and sunflower seeds. I topped this one with coconut milk and blueberries as well though always neglected to take a picture of it.

Of course, there have been a few days where I wasn’t in the mood for a solid breakfast and on those days I mostly relied on smoothies. Particularly smoothies from “Raw & Simple” My favorites were the Happy Monkey - which is homemade cashew milk, frozen banana, coconut, cacao nibs, cacao powder, and almond butter. I’d sweeten it up with a bit of vanilla stevia. I also loved the Cherry Cacao Smoothie - which was frozen cherries, coconut mana, cashew milk, cacao nibs, vanilla and sea salt, I also sweetened this with a bit of vanilla stevia.

A few days called for something lighter still and so I made the Indian Spiced Orange drink from “Raw and Simple” which is an easy mix of fresh squeezed OJ, Homemade Cashew Milk, and Garam Masala. Strange, but tasty! Or I’d make the Milk and Honey Refresher - which is a whole grapefruit, homemade almond milk, and honey, or in my case I used Vegan Bee-Free Honey. YUM!

Milk and Honey Refresher 

Unfortunately I neglected to take pictures of most of this stuff.

Often I’m not hungry enough for a real lunch and so I just have juice, some raw veggies, a simple garden salad with vinaigrette, seasoned chickpeas, or leftovers from the night previous. A few days I was hungrier then others and so I enjoyed the Pizza Style Chickpea Flatbread from Heather Crosby’s awesome book “Yum Universe” it’s your typical Chickpea Socca, topped with tomato sauce - I had some leftover from when I made Pizza on New Years, and then I added steamed kale and sauteed onions, along with a little leftover cheese cause also from New Years. So tasty. A couple of times I enjoyed another delicious lunch from “Yum Universe’ the wonderful Chickpea, Tarragon and Cranberry Salad Sandwich. Although instead of having it on bread I either ate a coop on it’s own, or I ate it on lettuce leaves, with a side of Radish and Fennel Chips also from “Yum Universe” Unfortunately I didn’t take pictures of any of that either. Yesterday’s lunch was lettuce leaves filled with Cumin Spiked Pinto Bean Dip from the “Thug Kitchen” cookbook and topped with diced raw tomato, corn and Sriracha - so good!

Rainbow Ribbon Veggie Alfredo 

Dinners have also been relatively simple, I’ve really been enjoying the “Yum Universe” cook book and so most of our dinners have come from there. For example we enjoyed the Traditional Coleslaw One evening which might just rank as one of my favorite coleslaws ever. One night we had the Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Kale and Miso Dijon Dressing, along with Simple Sauteed Snap Peas both of which were out of this world in terms of flavor!  One night it was the Snap Pea and Radish Salad with Ginger Miso Dressing which I absolutely loved. Another night ti was Baby Kale Salad with Blueberries and Chinese Spiced Pecans which was also incredible!  Several nights we had the Rainbow Ribbon Veggie Alfredo which is a vegetable noodle dish that can be made either raw or cooked. I did half and half on it, leaving the zucchini and carrots raw, but steaming the bell pepper, kale and broccoli. This was so freaking good!!!

Carrot-Ginger-Coconut Soup

A couple of nights we had the Carrot-Ginger-Coconut Soup from “Raw & Simple” which was very tasty. I normally don’t like raw soups because I hate the texture and I don’t like cold soup but I let this run a little long in the Vitamix so it was warm then added diced avocado and cilantro for texture and it was fantastic. Last night we had the Yellow Split Pea Lettuce Wraps from “Thug Kitchen” which were fantastic. Kind of an Asian style dish of cooked yellow split peas, mixed with shredded carrot and green onion, seasoned with rice vinegar and tamari. The dipping sauce is more tamari, rice vinegar, a little agave and garlic. So good!

Yellow Split Pea Lettuce Wraps 

I’ve mostly been avoiding dessert but sometimes I need a little something before I head off to work at Midnight and so I’ve been enjoying various types of Chia Pudding. I’ve made vanilla chia pudding, acai berry chia pudding, banana chia pudding, chocolate chia pudding, cardamom raisin chia pudding the list goes on. All of them are sweetened with either dates, or stevia, occasionally a little maple syrup or Bee-Free Honey.

I’ll try to be more diligent about capturing my food from now on. But I think this gives a nice overview.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's Eve 2014...

Left - Baked Ziti Pizza
Middle - Garlic and Artichoke Pizza
Right - Deep Dish Hawaiian Pizza

I hope everyone had a nice New Year’s Celebration. We didn’t do very much this year. We invited a few people over but I wasn’t feeling particularly social and so after dinner I mostly just ‘hid-out’ with a book, and then I fell asleep at 10pm, though my husband was kind enough to wake me at 11:55 so that I could ring in the New Year with him.

Since his birthday is on the 30th we normally do a combination Birthday/New Years party which means I typically let him pick out all or some of the food that I make for New Years Eve. Last year we did pizza and it went over really well, so this year I asked if he wanted to do that again and he said yes. I went through my extensive collection of cook books and threw out some ideas and he eventually settled on three pies.

One was the Baked Ziti Pizza from Lane Gold’s book “Vegan Junk Food” I know pasta on pizza might sound crazy to some of you but to me It sounded just crazy enough to try. I mean, who doesn’t like their carbs with a side of carbs? Though this recipe requires you to make pizza dough, sauce, vegan ricotta, and cook the pasta so long as you know this ahead of time and prepare accordingly this pizza comes together really easy. In fact, I was kind of dreading making it but it was such a snap I couldn’t believe I’d been worried about it. Once you have this sucker loaded up it bakes for about 20-25 minutes and it comes out of the oven tasting like magic. Seriously, this was probably my favorite pizza of the night.

Baked Ziti Pizza

Next up we had the Deep Dish Hawaiian Pizza also from “Vegan Junk Food.” I have not had deep-dish pizza in a long time, and I haven’t ever made one before, since deep-dish isn’t my favorite. Being from Vancouver I grew up eating thin or medium-crust California style pizza, because that’s pretty much how we do it on the West Coast, and that’s what I like. I had never had a deep-dish pizza until my first visit to Chicago and I remember thinking it was pretty damn good. All that gooey cheese how can you go wrong? After I moved here, and I guess it took about a year maybe less, I lost my taste for deep-dish. It’s too heavy, it’s all dough, there’s too much sauce! In my opinion the best part about pizza is the toppings so why do you want to take up all that stomach space with dough? So I forgot about deep-dish and stuck to thin-crust, but for as much as people in this city rave about Chicago pizza being the best, Chicago just can’t do thin-crust, and so I pretty well just stopped eating pizza altogether unless it was homemade.

Deep Dish Hawaiian

All that is to say that I found the prospect of making my very own deep-dish pizza daunting, and I wasn’t convinced it was going to taste any good at all. I guess I needn’t have worried because Lane Gold didn’t let me down. This recipe is super simple, and super easy, and if you already have the dough and sauce made then it’s a cinch to throw together. I guess it doesn’t hurt that growing up my favorite pizza was always Hawaiian! Pineapple on pizza is just right, you know? Anyway, this pie uses Daiya mozzarella, and Smoked Tofurky Slices in place of ham and cheese but honestly this tastes pretty damn close to what I remember actual non-vegan Hawaiian pizza to taste like. I don’t know that I could tell the difference in a blind taste test. The only problem with this pizza was the crust on the bottom was a bit weak and so it didn’t stay together very nicely when you tried to remove a slice. No matter though, it tasted great.

Lastly we had the Garlic and Artichoke Pizza from Chloe Coscarelli’s book “Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen” My husband goes wild for artichokes and we both love garlic so this seemed like a natural choice. It’s a pretty simple pizza once you have the dough and sauce made. The toppings are sliced tomato, artichokes, thin sliced garlic, capers, red pepper flakes and mozzarella sauce. Which is a ‘cheesy’ cashew based sauce that you drizzle over the pie at the end of cooking. I liked this sauce a lot and liked that Chloe’s pizza didn’t call for store-bought vegan cheese. That made this pie lighter then the others but it was no less flavorful.

Garlic and Artichoke Pizza 

For dessert my husband requested I make him an Oreo Birthday Cake. Ever since that one year I made Oreo cupcakes he’s been hooked! So I used the Oreo Cupcake Recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s book “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World” and turned it into a cake. Also since it was his birthday I used the special ‘Birthday Cake’ Oreo’s in place of the regular kind. It turned out really well, moist and delicious and even though we were completely stuffed from pizza we still had enough room for a teeny-tiny slice.
Oreo Birthday Cake

And that about wraps it up, not a bad way to end the year. I hope everyone else had a nice celebration.