Saturday, May 2, 2015

Semi-Vegan Baby Shower

My niece, Philomena, is one month old.  When my sister was about 8 1/2 months pregnant, during the dreadful winter of 2015, I threw her a baby shower with mostly vegetarian/vegan food for lunch.  My sister is not vegan, so it didn't make sense to host a shower with all of my favorite foods.  I did my best to be fair.

The Theme
You are My Sunshine - the decorations were yellow, and included sunflowers, lemons, and some handmade items I created during the many snow days I spent pent up in my apartment

The Menu
Lunch
-Trader Joe's sparkling lemonade
-Hummus and pita bread
-A variety of vegan and traditional wraps from the bagel store where our dad works
-Chef Chloe's Artichoke Pesto Crostini
-My mom's famous spinach pie

Dessert
-A traditional cake
-Vegan coconut-lemon cupcakes

Favors
coconut lemon cookies with a packet of sunflower seeds

The Pictures








Vegan in Portland, Oregon

I finally went to visit my friend and former roommate, Erin, and her cat Casista, in Portland, Oregon for Spring Break.  I had been hearing about the amazing vegan food in this city for quite a while.  Added bonuses included crossing two new states off my list (we also drove through Washington), and being blown away by the gorgeous scenery.  There were lots of hipsters, bicycles, cats, and beer-- so in my opinion, it's a fantastic city.  Besides all of that, the people are the friendliest you'll meet, and things are CHEAP.  It was hard to leave.

Below are some of the vegan eateries I visited.  I ate my way through the city, and I'm sure I didn't get to even half of the vegan places in town.  I was totally overwhelmed because I really could have eaten good food almost anywhere.  That's just not something a vegan girl is accustomed to!

Sweet Hereafter
A vegan bar, and the most hipster place I've ever been.  We were probably the only two people in the place without tons of tattoos.  I tried the Jamaican Bowl, which was a bit too spicy for my taste.  Erin watched the Blazers game and I did some people watching.

Street 14 Coffee - Astoria
Erin grabbed a cup of coffee and I had an amazing black berry crumble pastry.  They also serve breakfast and lunch with vegan options.



Wolf and Bear's food cart
Food carts abound in Portland.  This was located in the Southeast part of town, and it was here that I had a gigantic falafel wrap and a cup of lemonade with a dash of mint.  We listened to Drake rap about his enemies and people make their plans for 4/20 as we ate.  I wish I had another one of those wraps right now.




Sizzle Pie
So this is a heavy metal pizza place with tons of vegan options.  I thought it was hilarious.  I had a slice of pizza and a huge vegan caesar salad.



Blue Star Donuts
Oh, hey, I hadn't had a donut in five years - NBD.  I tried two vegan varieties - blueberry and sugar and spice.  For the next few mornings I thought about going back for more, but I had to save room for all the other vegan pastries.



Back to Eden Bakery
We kind of overdid it here.  By this I mean that we ordered an ice cream sundae, chocolate mousse pie, and a brownie.  It's difficult to decide when there are two cases of desserts and a full soft-serve ice cream menu.  Amazing.





Missionary Chocolates
Vegan. Chocolate. Truffles.



Sweetpea Bakery
I wanted to try everything, so I went with the raspberry strudel.  It was delicious.  They also serve vegan breakfast and lunch, including a vegan quiche-- we weren't sure what that would entail.






Herbivore Clothing
Obsessed!  Right next to Sweetpea, specializing in cruelty-free clothing items.  There were tons of vegan cookbooks, more than I even knew existed.  Unfortunately, they would not have fit in my suitcase.



Food Fight! Grocery
When a city has a vegan "mall," you know you're in the right place.  At least I do.  Next door to Herbivore, it's a little vegan grocery store!



Veggie Grill
This place is a chain.  I had a fantastic quinoa salad topped with avocado after walking around the Portland Art Museum.  Loved it.



Voo Doo Donut
Had to do it, as it's a big tourist attraction in Portland.  They have a few kinds of vegan donuts, but I actually preferred the Blue Star Variety.



Blossoming Lotus
I had the curry and coconut tofu, and it was outstanding.  I believe it was the best tofu I've ever eaten.



I think that's everything.  We went to a number of other bars and there was something for a vegan to munch on in every location.  At the Portland City Grill we enjoyed a panoramic view of the city while sipping cocktails.  I visited plenty of non-food related sites, including the Japanese Garden, Powell's Books, the Columbia River Gorge, and the coast of Oregon.  It really was a lovely city, and I recommend it to anyone, vegan or not!









Blogger's Soundtrack
Fitz and the Tantrums - L.O.V.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Vegan Thanksgiving

It took me seven hours to get to New York amid the wild weather we were having in the Northeast Wednesday afternoon, but the cats and I made it for Vegan Thanksgiving.  For the menu, we kept some staples, like roasted garlic broccoli, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes, and also tried the recipes below.  At the last minute I decided to whip up some pumpkin applesauce, just because.  Everything was great-- the stuffing was my favorite.

❏ Quiinoa stuffed sweet potatoes with kale and cranberries: 
http://lesliedurso.com/2012/11/quinoa-stuffed-sweet-potatoes/ 

❏ Butternut squash, brussel sprouts, and bread stuffing with apples: 
http://food52.com/blog/4939-veganizing-thanksgiving 

❏ Quinoa Salad with Pears, Baby Spinach and Chick Peas in a Maple Vinaigrette: http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2010/10/quinoa-salad-with-pears-and-baby.html#ixzz3IlGaGBm0 

❏ Mashed Potatoes: http://www.theppk.com/2010/10/fluffy-mashed-potatoes/ 









Blogger's Soundtrack
Bastille - "Flaws"


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pumpkin Everything

I don't remember pumpkin being such a huge fall fad until maybe a few years ago.  I did some research and several sources connect the explosion with the debut of the Pumpkin Spice Latte by Starbucks in 2003.  That's when I graduated from high school - I guess it took a while for me to catch on.  I have never consumed a Pumpkin Spice Latte - I don't drink coffee, and they aren't vegan (the pumpkin sauce contains condensed milk).  However, I do love pumpkin recipes and products.  Here are some of my recent favorites.

Pumpkin Chips
I am addicted to Laurel Hill Pumpkin Seed Chips and Way Better Snacks Punkin Cranberry Corn Tortilla Chips.  They are especially good paired with some original flavor hummus from Whole Foods.  Best snack ever.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
I came across this recipe on Pinterest and these cookies are the bomb.  Many pumpkin cookie recipes include a variety of strange ingredients, but I had everything for these available in my pantry. I was a bit low on pumpkin puree so I used extra apple sauce.  They ended up super cakey, more like mini muffins, so I ate them for breakfast.  I had planned on bringing them into work, but I ended up eating them all myself.  Oops.

Pumpkin Chili
Here's the recipe. I used diced tomatoes and included about half the cumin and chili powder.  It was unbelievably easy and the flavor outstanding. 

Pumpkin Spice Overnight Oatmeal
This has been my favorite overnight oatmeal recipe so far.  I did not include protein powder or pumpkin seeds.  I might include some vanilla next time-- and there will be a next time.


As you can see, I've been busy.  Here's what I want to try next:
Pumpkin Applesauce
Pumpkin chocolate chip oatmeal breakfast cookies


I just love lists.  And as usual, I have already done the research for you, so get to work.  And if you live in Boston, go to Root in Allston and try their pumpkin pancakes- they will blow your mind.


Blogger's Soundtrack
 Lorde - "Yellow Flicker Beat"
 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Quest for the Best Vegan Brownie

I'm very mission-oriented.  There are typically a handful of "missions" that I'm working towards at any given time.  I'm currently training for a half marathon - that's a big one.  I feel like I have to tell everyone about it, (a) so that I'm forced to follow through with the thing, and (b) I've always viewed myself as so unathletic that this is a tremendous feat for me.  That being said, over the past few months I've also, among other things, been on a quest for the best vegan brownie.

There are a few foods that I actually do miss since becoming vegan-- canolis, egg salad, and brownies are on the top of the list.  There are definitely vegan editions of each, but to me, they have not lived up to the originals.  The brownie is the one that bothers me the most.  I went through a phase in college where I baked brownies on a weekly basis.  Ghiradelli brownies with extra chocolate chips.  So fudgey.  Vegan brownies are really not fudgey.  They are cakey.  I've tried baking banana brownies, peanut butter brownies, pumpkin brownies, brownies with black beans-- you name it.  I've also sampled brownies at various vegan establishments.  As you can tell, I've been very committed to this endeavor.

Here are my top three brownies:

1.  Peanut Butter Ganache Brownie from Wildflour Bakery in Providence.
A layer of peanut butter, a layer of dark chocolate ganache.  So very rich - and not cakey.

2.  Pumpkin Pie Brownies from the Post Punk Kitchen.
These are a favorite for Thanksgiving dessert.

3.  This recipe for peanut butter chocolate brownies.
I randomly found this one last week.  It's super easy, and even gluten free.  The results are a-maz-ing -- quite rich and nothing like cake, since there's no flour at all. 

Mission complete.

Blogger's Soundtrack
 Katy Perry - "This is How We Do"
 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Vegan Mac and "Cheese"

I've been told I don't update the blog enough.  Which is true.  The start and end of the school year are the most hectic times for teachers, besides Thanksgiving, Christmas, standardized testing... actually, it's crazy all the time, so this is no excuse.  One of my coworkers started a vegan meal exchange, because as it happens, there are now two other vegans and two vegetarians on the staff this year.  The idea was that each person would cook one giant meal on Sunday nights, portion it out, and switch at work on Monday in order to enjoy a wider variety during the week without all the work.  The first week I prepared a chickpea kale stew and ended up with a bean and potato casserole and a sweet potato beet hash.  Both were tasty!  The next time I didn't end up participating, but one of the teachers brought in a butternut squash mac and "cheese" with kale.  I was jealous and decided to make my own mac and "cheese."  Obviously I got on Pinterest to do some "research."  I found this recipe for Cauliflower Macaroni and "Cheese."  I used shells instead of macaroni pasta, to which I have a weird aversion, and skipped the last step with the Panko bread crumbs and broiling.  This was also the first time I've ever cooked with nutritional yeast - don't know how that happened.  It took me a minute to get over the fact that I was eating something that looked like cheese but was not actually cheese, but once I did, I liked it a lot.  Way healthier than what I used to eat in college. 

Blogger's Soundtrack
Kasey Musgraves - "Follow Your Arrow"


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Overnight Oatmeal

I'm not a big breakfast person.  The only things I'll eat are cereal with almond milk or something like pancakes or waffles.  Definitely nothing savory.  Smoothies are alright, I guess, but I don't really have the time to whip something up in the morning before work.  And by the time I get to work, the bowl of cereal I ate at 6 AM really isn't holding me over until lunch.  This is why my discovery of overnight oatmeal has been so exciting.  You throw some oats (not quick cooking), your choice of milk, and ingredients that will add flavor, into a mason jar or Tupperware container, and leave it in the fridge overnight.  In the morning, you have some yummy oatmeal.  It doesn't have to be heated, which has made it perfect for me to take to work and eat at my desk.

Here are two recipes I've tried so far:

Banana/Nut Butter Oatmeal
1 cup oats
1 cup vanilla almond milk
1 mashed banana
1 package Justin's chocolate hazelnut butter OR 2 spoonfuls of peanutbutter

Applesauce Oatmeal
1 cup oats
1/2 cup vanilla almond mlik
1/2 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all the ingredients thoroughly and seal it up tightly!

Today I bought some vanilla almond butter, which I will try this week, and once the weather is cooler, I'll make some pumpkin oatmeal, as well.  So many possibilities!




Blogger's Soundtrack
The Beatles - "Yesterday"