Predictable

Just popping in to let you all know that I took the “What Health Food Are You?” quiz from Dr. Oz, and wouldn’t you know…

kaleresults720x480I’m friggin’ kale. ¬†I just had to laugh about that ūüôā

Anyway, I am off to please God let it be sunny Florida for the weekend and hope to have some fun vegan finds to share when I return! ¬†Until then…

Detox Delight

Earlier this week, I undertook my first ever juice cleanse. ¬†It was a complimentary three-day cleanse that a company (who shall remain nameless) sent to me to review. ¬†However, I am no longer going to review it, because the utter disorganization and ineptitude of the company (who messed up the order not once, not twice, but three times…including one time when I had to dump out the entire shipment of juice because it had gone bad) was so appalling that I cannot in good conscience recommend them to anyone.

BUT the cleanse itself was pretty rad, once I actually got to do it. ¬†There was some pain involved, but only on the first day (and that was mainly because I started it the morning after a late night of drinking wine and eating peanut butter filled pretzel nuggets with H. ¬†That’ll getcha every time.). ¬†The rest of the time I felt pretty good, never¬†too super-hungry or anything.

It was an interesting experience, certainly. ¬†One big thing I took away from it was that I am way too obsessed with food and eating. ¬†As in, constantly thinking about what I’m going to eat and when. ¬†It was kind of nice to have everything just there, ready to go, with a schedule for when to have it.

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Anyway, I finished the cleanse on Tuesday night, which meant that yesterday it was “back to normal.” ¬†However, the cleanse came with some guidelines for the next day, which, as a total virgin cleanser, I followed pretty strictly out of fear of making my body go totally haywire. ¬†The recommendations were:

“Start the day with a bottle of green juice or fresh fruit, followed by a small handful of raw nuts. ¬†Have a salad for lunch and snack on raw veggies between meals. For dinner, have steamed veggies and a piece of tofu with some fruit for dessert. ¬†Avoid processed foods, refined carbs, added sugar, and fake sugar.”¬†[Editor’s note: this isn’t a direct quote. ¬†I took liberties with grammar and punctuation to create whole, logical sentences. ¬†Sorry, I edit and write for a living and I can’t just let these things go.]

Both yesterday and today (so far), I have done exactly that–started with a green juice from Whole Foods, snacked on raw soaked almonds for a morning snack, and enjoyed a delicious salad for lunch. ¬†I suddenly feel like a total Detox maven. ¬†First of all, check out my new toy:
Detox 005I have always wanted a mason jar with a handle and a straw top, but felt reluctant to pay the $31 plus shipping that they want to charge on Vegan Cuts for it (to be fair, their version does also include glass straws…but still). Well I found this mug for $1.99 at A.C. Moore and just cut a hole in the top with a knife and voila! ¬†I now have my own juice/smoothie to-go mug.

I’m also feeling really good about last night’s dinner:Detox 003Grilled tofu (oil-free), steamed asparagus (with garlic) and Brussels sprouts, and a baked mashed sweet potato. ¬†Plus lots of seasonings!

This was the largest quantity of solid food I had eaten in four days and boy did I feel full! ¬†But also insanely nourished. ¬†I’m planning on having a similar thing tonight.

I’ve obviously gotten a boost from all of the whole foods I’ve been eating (tofu being the most processed thing), but I realized this morning that I also have not had any caffeine or gluten for five days. ¬†So much detox! ¬†Basically I’m just feeling really good and really motivated.

On top of all of it, my weight loss and Ragnar training regimens are also progressing well. ¬†As of yesterday I was down 9.2 lbs overall (although, obviously, coming off a cleanse…) and also able to pound out a 3-miler at a pace that is probably super-slow for most but very, very good for me.

It’s been an interesting week, for sure. ¬†The key will be to see if I can keep it rolling through the weekend (which will include a baby shower as well as H’s birthday)…

Have you ever done a juice cleanse or detox?  Did you find it difficult to maintain the momentum afterwards?

It’s a Great Time to Be a Vegan!

I seriously just had one of the best vegan weeks ever.

Last weekend, H and I went down the Cape and headed over to Wellfleet’s Oysterfest with a bunch of our friends. ¬†And wouldn’t you know, in the middle of an oyster-themed event, they had a vegetarian vendor!

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Apparently Karoo is an omni South African restaurant in Eastham with tons of veggie options, but for Oysterfest they only brought the veggie stuff. The menu looked so good (and was 100% vegan)!
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H and I split the samosas, which were DELICIOUS, especially topped (okay, doused) with sweet fruity chutney.
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And I got the Kibbi:
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I’ve had vegetarian kibbi (or “kibbeh”) a hundred times but I’m not sure I ever had one made with pumpkin. ¬†It was really good! ¬†Most of all I was so excited to find a new vegan-friendly dining option on the Cape!

On Monday, my first post as a contributing blogger went up on Chic Vegan!  I wrote all about vegan Halloween treats, including these skull cupcakes:
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Click here to read the post!

Then on Tuesday, I went to the farmer’s market, where I bought incredible local rainbow chard and apples, and saw the most beautiful sunset.

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There was also a full rainbow over the market, but I only took a mental picture of that because photographs of rainbows never really capture that moment.

Then when I got home, this was waiting for me:Vegan Week 004

Ahhhhh I have been so excited for Isa’s new book and it’s finally here! ¬†I would buy anything this woman writes, truly. ¬†She is brilliant and hilarious, and this book is amazing. ¬†It is full-color with truly stunning photography and styling, and obviously the recipes are just so on-point. ¬†I’m about halfway through (yes, I always read my cookbooks cover-to-cover) and I’ve already bookmarked more than I can count. ¬†One of my biggest goals this year (which I have actually managed with some success!) is to make dinner for H and me most weeknights. ¬†I know this book will help with that and I can’t wait to start cooking out of it.

I also enjoyed some downright delectable food this week. ¬†One of H’s co-workers brought a box of his homegrown squash to work one day, which resulted in us having a butternut squash in our kitchen that must have weighed 5 or 6 lbs. ¬†I roasted it early in the week and we’ve been eating it six ways to Sunday since then. ¬†I also toasted the seeds and those have been an additional delight.

Here it is mashed on a sandwich with baby beets and romaine lettuce from the farmer’s market:
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Or featured in one of the yummiest salads I’ve ever had:
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This contained a bunch of local produce (romaine, carrots, and red bell peppers which I roasted) plus the squash and its seeds, tamari roasted chickpeas, baby beets, red onion, and olives, topped with a drizzle of garlic-infused olive oil.

Thursday night H and I watched the Red Sox dominate Game 1 of the World Series while we enjoyed one of our new favorite weeknight recipes, Butternut Squash Mac ‘n’ Cheeze from Oh She Glows (click for recipe).
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I am obsessed with this recipe. ¬†I always prepare it with some steamed broccoli or another green and add liberal amounts of smoked paprika and cayenne pepper to it. ¬†If you already have a roasted butternut squash on hand like I did, you can make this in as little time as it takes to cook a pot of pasta. ¬†It’s absolutely perfect and we both love it!

So as you can see, it’s been a terrific week filled with wonderful vegan things, but it’s not over yet! ¬†Tonight H and I are going out to dinner to celebrate our two-year anniversary at The Elephant Walk, a French-Cambodian restaurant in Boston that has really excellent food and atmosphere, and a large portion of their menu is or can be made vegan.

AND…

Tomorrow and Sunday is the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival and I am SOOO excited!!!  I plan to show up with an empty stomach and a full wallet and leave in exactly the opposite condition.

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If you are anywhere near Boston this weekend you HAVE to check this out!

Happy weekend!!!

Vegan MoFo Red Week – Red Bell Peppers

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Today I am going to show some love to red bell peppers, one of the most wonderful foods on the planet.

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Growing up I really had no affection for peppers.¬† I thought they were too bitter and I didn’t really enjoy their watery crunch.¬† Now, however, I find them to be a really delicious and refreshing snack option, especially paired with a creamy dip like hummus or even pesto.¬† I still don’t like the green ones, actually, but red (as well as orange and yellow) I’m down with.

And we all know how incredible roasted red peppers are.¬† I love to use them in a variety of recipes or put them on a sandwich for a sweet, tangy addition with a mouthwatering texture.¬† I tend to like to roast my own rather than buying them in a jar or can from the store.¬† If you’ve never tried roasting your own peppers, I highly recommend it.

Roasted Red Peppers
All you need is a bell pepper or two and some olive oil for brushing.

To Make: Preheat oven to 425. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise, removing the seeds and membranes.  Lightly brush peppers on all sides with olive oil (or you can use a spray can).  Place them cut-side down on a lightly sprayed baking sheet.

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Roast for about 20 minutes, until they are soft and the skins are lightly browned/blackened in some places.  When they are done, you can enjoy as is, or if you like them without the skin like I do, place them into a brown paper bag and allow to cool.  When you take them out, the skins will peel right off!

Some people (not me) are lucky enough to have gas stoves, in which case you can actually roast your red pepper directly on the flame!  Doing it in the oven always does the trick for me, though.

Now, have some fun with your roasted red peppers! ¬†They’re delicious as a pizza, pasta, or salad topping, or you can make them into soup…

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Creamy Roasted Red Pepper & Basil Bisque
Serves 4, maybe more!
Inactive time: 6-8 hours for soaking cashews and 20 minutes for roasting red peppers
Active time: 20 minutes
(This recipe has been given the omnivore seal of approval by H.)

You Need:
2 red bell peppers, roasted and skins removed
1 cup of cashews, soaked 6-8 hours or overnight
1 tsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 – 3 cloves of garlic, lightly minced
1.5 cups of vegetable broth (use up to 2 cups if you’d like it a little thinner)
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil (you can omit this if you don’t like or don’t have fresh basil)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

To Make:
Drain soaking water from cashews and rinse well.  Warm the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, then add onion and garlic and saute until the onions start to become translucent (usually takes about 3-4 minutes).  Turn off heat and add onion garlic mixture to a blender. Add roasted red peppers, cashews, and vegetable broth and blend until smooth and creamy (this might take a couple of minutes, depending on your blender).  Return blended mixture to saucepan and heat until just warmed through.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Enjoy with crusty bread or your favorite croutons!

I have recently become intrigued by the idea of using roasted red peppers to make sauce as well.¬† It’s so standard to make pasta or pizza with tomato sauce but red peppers actually stand in surprisingly well and add a depth of flavor to the sauce that is really unique.¬† I did this last week with a dish from Happy Herbivore, Creole Black Eyed Peas (click for recipe).¬† The red sauce is made from pureeing sauteed onions with roasted red pepper.¬† It is absolutely delicious, not to mention fat-free and healthy!

Creole BEP 1Here it is in the blender…

Creole BEPThe scrumptious result

Creole BEP 3A dinner plate the USDA would be proud of!

In what other fun ways do you use bell peppers (red or otherwise)?

Spilling the Greens

Get it?? It’s like beans but…green. ¬†Except not green beans.

I’m tired.

And I’ve been spilling stuff non-stop for the past two days. ¬†This morning I knocked over my bag of chia seeds and they went all over the floor. ¬†Just a minute ago I knocked over my coffee mug at work and it spilled onto a case I had been reading (thankfully just a print out and not an actual court file!).

But yesterday’s spill was the king. ¬†I had hoped to get in to work a little early, so I set up my coffee and prepped my smoothie ingredients the night before. ¬†I was totally jamming and making great time.

I made my pretty purple smoothie:Spill the Greens

1 cup frozen organic strawberries, 1 cup chia gel (1 tbsp. chia seeds + 1 cup water soaked overnight or longer), 1 cup fresh blueberries, 1/2 fresh banana, 1 large collard green leaf, 2 leaves of kale. ¬†[Pause: If I made this again, I might add a touch of liquid sweetener, because my berries weren’t all that sweet. ¬†Resume.]

As I was filling my smoothie cup, I knocked the blender bowl into it and I spilled half (okay maybe like a third) of the smoothie onto the floor.Spill the Greens 012

It was disgusting and surprisingly hard to clean up.  I was not early for work.

Anyway! ¬†I’m getting pretty pumped about Vegan MoFo¬†(that’s the Vegan Month of Food) this year. ¬† I’ve never participated in anything like it before. ¬†And, as is probably crystal clear from scrolling down a few inches on this blog, I don’t publish anything close to 20 posts in a month, ever. ¬†But I have a fun theme in mind, and I’m really excited to challenge myself to be creative and to post very frequently. ¬†It’s starting September 1st this year, and the deadline to sign up is August 28, in case anyone else is interested.

I don’t want to reveal my MoFo theme just yet, but I will say that it does NOT focus on green foods. ¬†I, along with many other herbivores, eat so many greens each and every day that it wouldn’t be all that daring or interesting to do a whole month on green food. ¬†They’ll be there, of course, but not *featured* is all.

To that end, I’m doing a photo dump (or “spill” if you will…see how good I am with themes??) of some yummy green stuff I’ve eaten lately, to get ready to fill my camera up with MoFo pics.

Green Smoothies: nothing new in the blogosphere, but somehow they never get old.  I made this one at home (fresh pineapple, frozen banana, hemp seeds, kale):
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And bought this beautiful thing at Whole Foods:
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My wallet may never forgive me for discovering that Whole Foods has a smoothie and juice bar.  This one is called the Mighty Green and it has unsweetened non-dairy milk (you can choose from coconut, soy, almond, or rice), banana, kale, spinach, avocado, and your choice of fruit (pineapple, mango, strawberries, or blueberries).  The one pictured above was coconut milk and pineapple.  The one below was almond milk and blueberries.

Spill the Greens 002SO GOOD.

Despite all of the Halloween decorations you are seeing in stores, it’s still summer, dammit, and basil is calling my name.
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Half the time I go into a store (well, really, a farm stand) with no plan to buy basil, but then its aroma wafts over to me and it’s game over. ¬†I mean, it’s never going to go bad as long as pesto is a thing. ¬†My favorite recipe (and everyone else’s I’m sure) is the Classic Pesto from Vegan With a Vengeance.

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I could eat this every day for the rest of my life and die happy.

I had a buttload of corn and black bean salad leftover from a barbecue H and I hosted at our house.  The original, ultra-simple salad recipe (by Maria Guadagno) can be found here.  I ate some of the leftovers on tortilla chips, and cooked up the rest with some onion, red bell pepper, garlic, and tomato, and added a little lime juice, fresh cilantro, and some additional cumin (because I can never have enough cumin).

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For 3 days I ate it over steamed collard greens, topped with chipotle hot sauce.  Talk about cheap and cheerful!

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I also have discovered this:

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If you like hummus (or “hommos,” I guess?), and you like spinach artichoke dip, you have to try this. ¬†Trust me. ¬†It is creamy and tangy and best of all, dairy free. My favorite way to eat it is spread on crostini (also leftover in droves from this storied barbecue), but regular bread or toast would do just fine.

I want to write a little more about the barbecue H and I had, because I served up a whole lotta vegan food to a bunch of omnivores and it went over pretty swimmingly. ¬†I also found a restaurant in the Boston suburbs that has actually heard the word “vegan” before and I want to give them a write-up too. ¬†I’ll try to get a post on both of these topics up before Vegan MoFo begins.

Make sure you get out and enjoy the last few weeks of summer!!

Salad and Smoothie Spree

Today I am going to do a big old vegan food blog cliche by writing a post featuring salads and smoothies. ¬†I embrace it. ¬† I can’t help myself; I’ve been having so much fun with spring and summer produce!

I have the incredible fortune of living within 10 miles of 9 farmers’ markets and 36 farmstands (5 of them organic). ¬†The bounty of gorgeous, fresh fruits and vegetables coincides perfectly with my body’s craving for lighter, more refreshing meals. ¬†The result has been a total spree of salads and smoothies, with no room for boredom!

For example, two weeks ago, I bought the biggest head of lettuce I have ever seen in my life.  It cost $2.50 and lasted me up until this morning. And it was organic!

Salad Smoothie 005On day one, I chopped several of the leaves and tossed in some apple, carrot, and toasted pecans.

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I made a lemon-shallot vinaigrette to go with it.

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It kinda looks like a raw egg yolk, but it tasted amazing!  This was: 1/2 finely chopped medium shallot, juice of half a lemon, 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp. dijon mustard, 6 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, scant 1/2 tsp. agave nectar, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Last weekend, I bought a beautiful bunch of beets (how’s that for alliteration). On Sunday I roasted the bulbs, and used the roasted beets all week in salads.

Salad Smoothie 019Chopped farmstand lettuce, baby arugula, sectioned grapefruit, avocado, and roasted beets.  And yes, the beets stain everything pink!

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Chopped farmstand lettuce, baby arugula, cherry tomatoes, roasted beets, apple, carrot, radish, and avocado.  Also, the radish was the cutest thing ever:

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A very simple salad of organic baby arugula with organic raspberries and pine nuts, and a dressing of garlic-infused olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

I love that salad-making lets me incorporate whatever fruits and vegetables I happen to have on hand.  This has helped tremendously with my goal of avoiding wasting food.

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Today’s lunch: the end of the farmstand lettuce, organic baby arugula, cherry tomatoes, avocado, organic farmstand sugar snap peas, carrot, craisins, and hemp seeds.

Salads are obviously extremely portable, making them a great weekday bring-to-work lunch.  I love that I can do most of the prep ahead of time, either on the weekend or the night before.  It seriously saves me so much time and money.

The same is true of smoothies.  They are the perfect vehicle for incorporating a rainbow of ingredients and ensuring that I make use of the insane amount of produce I buy each week this time of year.

Like native strawberries galore:
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In the past I have not been a fan of smoothies for breakfast because, although they taste great, I find that they don’t keep me full for more than an hour or two. ¬†Since at my current job I don’t go to lunch until 1:00, I need something longer-lasting than that.

During my 3-Day Detox in May, I learned that using “chia gel” (1 tbsp. chia seeds soaked overnight in 1 cup of water) as a smoothie base is a way to stretch a smoothie’s ability to count as an actual meal, likely thanks to the absurd amount of fiber contained in a small portion of seeds.

So now I’ve been having smoothies for breakfast between 3 and 5 mornings a week. ¬†Each one is different from the next!

This smoothie contained 1 cup of chia gel, one fresh kiwi, one frozen banana, 4-5 fresh strawberries, and a big handful of spinach:
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I love this picture of it blending all together, with the little whirlpool in the middle!

Another day, I tried a yogurt-based smoothie, using So Delicious plain coconut milk yogurt.
Salad Smoothie 009It contained 1 cup of chia gel, one frozen banana, 1-1.5 cups fresh pineapple, 3 fresh strawberries, a big handful of chopped romaine lettuce, 1/2 a stalk of celery, and about 1/2 cup of coconut yogurt.Salad Smoothie 010The color was kind of ugly but this may have been the best-tasting smoothie I’ve made yet! ¬†The yogurt definitely enhances the flavor and texture.

I have a lot more great seasonal dishes to share in an upcoming post, using farmstand treasures and more!

Roasted Veggiepalooza

Is it still pigging out if you’re bingeing on vegetables?

I went a little crazy at our farmstand last week. I got sweet potatoes, parsnips, and Brussels sprouts, and decided to try something new-to-me: cheddar cauliflower! I filled two whole baking sheets with vegetables, which I tossed with olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, and finely chopped garlic.
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Everything came out perfectly roasted–tender and just slightly caramelized–and the house smelled so good!
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I couldn’t have imagined a more delicious dinner–a big bowl of roasted fall delights.
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Also I loved the cheddar cauliflower! It is much like regular cauliflower except that it has a lovely orange hue and also a slightly earthy aftertaste, much like cheddar cheese. Delicious! I will definitely buy this again.
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I still have a giant butternut squash on my counter and am open to suggestions as to what to do with it…

Spring In My Step

Good day, fair bloggonians!

I am feeling extraordinarily chipper today, due in no small part to the fine spring weather that has decided to grace us with its presence this week.  Boston is truly a wonderful place to be when the weather turns warm; people take to the streets en masse,  smoothies and iced coffees in hand, wearing smiles and sunglasses and taking extra-long lunch breaks.

In addition to lifting my spirits, the arrival of springtime also¬†tends to make me feel rather¬†industrious.¬† For example, this past¬†week, I finally managed¬†(after living there four months¬†already!)¬†to make a dent in my long list of things to do around our new house.¬† I’ve also been doing some serious recipe-hunting and list-making, with every intention of cooking¬†up some big-batch recipes.¬† This is mainly because I’m starting a new job in a couple of weeks, which for me always means having to make some adjustments to allow for a new schedule, budget, etc.

In the past, I’ve found that¬†having food prepared in advance¬†makes any adjustment period a lot easier to handle.¬† Often, I do this in the form of soups.¬† However,¬†lately all I can think about is¬†spring produce!!! Hence, I have other recipes in mind.

As I am particularly excited for spring’s leafy greens,¬†the Weekend Glow Kale Salad from one of my all-time favorite blogs, Oh She Glows,¬†will definitely be on the menu.¬† This recipe is a little time-consuming to prepare because of all of the vegetable chopping involved, but¬†produces a lot of food and is therefore a¬†great prep-ahead, eat-for-days recipe!

Look at all of the amazing ingredients that get mixed in with the kale base:
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You’ve got your avocado, cucumber, bell pepper, tomato, red onion, carrots, and dried cherries (because I didn’t have raisins or goji berries).

Served on top of raw kale, with Lightened Up Tahini-Lemon Dressing:
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You let it all marinate together and then enjoy!¬† I adore this salad; its many flavors and textures all combine perfectly to make your tastebuds very, very happy.¬† I have made this a number of times since last summer and it always lasts me at least 3 days, and sometimes up to a week, because it makes so much (I prepare it in the biggest mixing bowl I have and sometimes bits still fall out while I’m tossing it!).¬† Obviously you could halve the recipe if you wished, but I personally love the feeling I get when¬†I behold¬†a massive mountain of salad.¬† Also, after consuming this I always¬†feel incredible.¬† It’s hard not to when you’re fueling your body with such incredible, vibrant ingredients.¬† I highly recommend making this!

Well I just realized that the other recipe I wanted to post about today is also from Oh She Glows, but oh well¬†(seriously, it’s an amazing blog…check it out).¬† This is her High Protein Quinoa Almond Berry Salad.¬† A perfect recipe for berry season!

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Strawberries, cherries, and [hidden] blueberries, chopped and ready for use.

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All Mixed Up (like 311)

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And who doesn’t love a good quinoa close-up?

This is another recipe that can quite easily feed one person for an entire week (depending on the freshness of your berries), and the quinoa¬†turns an increasingly deeper shade of red/purple each day that it sits.¬† Delicious, nutritious, and energizing, this recipe is perfect to prepare on a Sunday and use throughout the week as a pack-and-go breakfast.¬† Alas, it’s still¬†a little too early in the season to make this, but believe me, it’s on my mind and will be first up on my recipe roster once the warm weather truly rolls in to stay!

Enjoy the rest of this gorgeous week!

Whopping Shopping

Day 5 of bar prep, complete.¬† Only 51 days to go–woooo!!!¬† Ugh.¬† Seriously, I cannot believe how exhausted I already am!¬† Even though law school amazingly does not in the slightest way prepare one to take this most important of exams, it luckily does turn one into a master of diversion and methods for taking mental breaks.¬† Case in point: today before sitting down for hours of practice essays, I commandeered H’s car and drove to Heaven Russo’s Market for a shopping bonanza.¬† For $19.85, here is what I got:
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A head of Romaine lettuce, a 2-lb. bag of yellow onions, two carrots, a giant parsnip, a jalapeno, a chunk of ginger, a head of cauliflower, 4 bananas, a 5-lb. bag of Yukon gold potatoes, a buttload of fava beans, a giant head of the most fragrant cilantro imaginable, two limes, a tomato, a giant beet bulb, an avocado, and a huge fresh Syrian flatbread.
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Not too shabby.

I know I’ve mentioned before how much I love Russo’s, but…dear Lord, I do love Russo’s.¬† It is a sprawling paradise of incredibly fresh and varied produce (including some things I’ve never heard of), yet somehow every time I go to the cash register, I get reverse sticker shock–disbelief over how little it costs.¬† The only possible drawback is how nauseatingly crowded it can get on the weekends.¬† It’s totally worth it; I just always make sure to swallow a heaping tablespoonful of patience before heading in there.

Anyway, now that I have all of this wonderful food in my kitchen, and a Sunday afternoon to myself, I’m excited to do some food prep for the week ahead.¬† I plan to eat a wonderful salad every day with the head of romaine I bought, so I’m going to roast the beet and shell the fava beans to throw into that, along with avocado, chopped carrots, and cilantro.¬† A very exciting prospect indeed!

I’m super-excited to eat the fava beans in particular. They’re waiting to be parboiled at the moment:
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Giant, perfect favas! I went for big, sturdy pods this time. Seriously, look at the size of this fava bean pod! (No, I didn’t take this picture just to show off my ring :))
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And check out the size of the flatbread.  This is it stretched over my stove:
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I used a pizza cutter to slice it into portions, which I wrapped in cling wrap and put in the fridge for H and I to use this week.¬† But not before I had a flatbread “pizza” for lunch:
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Spread with Tribe Forty Spices hummus and topped with artichokes, sundried tomatoes, and chili garlic sauce.  SO GOOD.

I’m also cooking tonight–yay!!!¬† Red Lentil and Cauliflower Curry from Veganomicon.¬† It’s going to make a giant vat of curry that H and I will be eating for days.¬† I’ll post the results later this week!

Finally, I want to briefly touch on something important that’s been on my mind.¬† I am approaching my three year blog anniversary (June 20th).¬† Though I have not always posted regularly since starting the blog (oh hay, 2010), it has always been important to me, and I love that it gives me a way to look back on so many great meals and memories.¬† And actually, the last time I went back to my 2008 posts, I started feeling really nostalgic, though it wasn’t clear why. Then, the other day, I read this post on Chocolate Covered Katie’s blog.¬† I realized that the thing I used to love the most about blogging, in fact the thing that made me want to start a blog in the first place, was my extreme newly-vegan enthusiasm for trying new foods and recipes from amazing cookbooks and blogs.¬† I don’t think the enthusiasm even went away, but I guess once law school started and my lifestyle changed so drastically, I just let it fall by the wayside.¬† When I picked up blogging again this past January, I thought that maybe changing the theme a little (to include restaurants and products I was trying) would help me regain my previous enthusiasm.¬† It did, to a certain extent, as my ensuing blogging regularity demonstrates.¬† However, from here on out, I want to place the ingredients and cooking, my true passions, at center-stage, and occasionally include the other stuff as extras.¬† Thanks, Katie, for helping me come to this realization–I had a lot of fun writing this post!

Unpretty

It’s no secret that I love food.¬† Nor is it a secret that¬†I sometimes find myself totally in awe of the amazing beauty that occurs in nature.¬† The vibrant colors, the interesting yet somehow perfectly symmetrical shapes…it really is kind of crazy to think about.

However, just like people, not all foods are naturally beautiful.¬†¬†¬† Today’s post is dedicated to some of the unpretty members of food society, because they should know that I love them anyway.

First, let’s say hello to fava beans.¬† Being a huge fan of Middle Eastern cuisine, I’ve eaten favas (or “fool” [ha] as they’re sometimes called) many a time.¬† But I had never actually cooked them myself until yesterday.¬† Whole Foods had fresh favas in the pod on sale and I just couldn’t resist.¬† So I bought them and brought them home.¬† And found myself looking at this:

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They look like a witch’s fingers. Unpretty.

And they have a weird, soft texture when you hold them.  Also, I had no idea what to do with them.  So I turned to the trusty interwebs and learned that to prepare favas, you must first take them out of the pods.

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Yeah, the inside of the pods is weird and fuzzy.

Then, you parboil them for 3 minutes in a pot of salted water.  After three minutes are up, drain the boiling water and immediately shock the beans by dumping them into a bowl of ice water.  Let them sit for a minute or two.  Then pull them out and slide off their outer coating with ease.  

Here they are with coating still on:
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After pulling off the coating, you are left with this:
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Beautiful, deep, vibrant spring green.  See?  Inner beauty is a real thing. From this point you can either eat them raw, put in a salad, or saute them up with a little salt and garlic and enjoy that way. A+.

Next up is a cherimoya.¬† A what?!¬† So, a little backstory…I saw this on the Vegan Favorites blog two days ago and thought three things: 1) what in God’s name is a cherimoya? 2) How cool is it that there are still so many fruits and vegetables in the world that I’ve never even heard of? and 3) Hot damn, that thing looks weird.¬† It looks like an apple and an artichoke had a deformed baby.¬† Anyway, in the VF blogpost they described the cherimoya as tasting like a cross between an apple and a banana.¬† Huh??¬† Also, they mentioned that it was only available in the Bay area for a very short time each year.¬† So I’m thinking, well, if ever I do travel to California, I’d like to try this wacky fruit.

Then yesterday I go into Whole Foods and wouldn’t ya know…they’ve got cherimoyas.¬† And a little placard description that characterizes the taste as being a cross between a pineapple and a banana.¬† Now my curiosity was really piqued.¬† And…they were $8.99 a pound.¬† Eight friggin ninety-nine a pound!¬† So that, my friends, was my May Whole Foods splurge.

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I brought the fruit home, and took the above photos.  We stared at each other for a few minutes.  Then I went to talk to the interwebs again.  Turns out, this fruit has its own website.  Yup.  Cherimoya.com is a real thing. Unpretty fruit celebrities do exist.

This is the inside:
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UNPRETTY

Unlike the fava beans, the cherimoya is not pretty on the outside or the inside.  Here is the fruit:
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Appearance: yech.

Plus, it’s a huge, messy pain to eat because you need to remove the seeds.¬† This is the refuse left from me extracting the edible pulp of one fruit:
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Double yech.

But what does it taste like? you ask.¬† Let’s just say that after I took my first bite I actually laughed out loud.¬† It tastes like all of the things the descriptions promised, and I also think it tastes like eggnog.¬† Or, more specifically, it has a creamy texture and faint nutmeg flavor.¬† I know, weird.¬† If, like me, you live in a place that maybe once a year gets a shipment of unusual produce from the west coast or some tropical region (my Whole Foods was also selling fresh starfruit and passionfruit yesterday…I have never seen those here before), my advice is to snatch it up.¬† Trying new things is so much fun, and so worth your time and a few extra nickels.¬† Who knows, you might just discover that your outsides are cool and your insides are blue…

Yeah, it’s been in my head since I came up with the idea for this title’s post yesterday:

You’re welcome.