Change Is In the Air

Well hello there!

I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since my last post. I know that I personally don’t enjoy reading blog posts where the author starts out with drawn out explanations and apologies for being away, but I do have some reasons for my long silence and I’d like to at least address them briefly.

My life has changed dramatically in the past few months since Baby H was born. I still love blogging and I definitely still love food, but both of those things have shifted way down on my list of daily priorities.

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I’ve been back at work for a little over a month now and am only just starting to get settled into some sort of a rhythm, albeit a hectic one. Each day, I get up, pack Baby H’s daycare bag, drop him off at daycare, sit in traffic on the way to work, work all day (as well as fitting in 3 pumping sessions), then leave work, sit in traffic on my way to pick up Baby H from daycare, and then go home and spend the rest of the evening trying to entertain him until bedtime, while simultaneously attempting to clean bottles and breast pump parts and get everything ready for the next day when I get to do it all over again.

It’s not just that I don’t have the time and energy to blog, but also that the subject matter I used to write about has become kind of inapplicable. I basically never cook anymore. If I have time to eat in the evening, I do, but it’s not like I’m whipping up any culinary marvels.

Case in point: last Tuesday, for Cinco de Mayo, I really wanted tacos. So, I made some. I made the easiest, most bare bones black bean tacos imaginable, using several premade ingredients (shells, seasoning, etc.).

All I did was saute some chopped onions and garlic, add a 15 oz. can of rinsed black beans, an 8 oz. can of tomato sauce, and half a packet of taco seasoning, and then I stirred in some chopped kale at the end.

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I did manage to pick out an amazing avocado for a topper!

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The tacos came out really tasty but, like, is that really something to blog about? I’m not sure anymore.

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It was the first time I had cooked anything since Baby H was 9 weeks old (he’s 17 weeks now). I couldn’t even get it together to bake a cake for his christening this past weekend. We ended up serving a storebought (non-vegan) cake instead.

So, this is the biggest thing that’s been keeping me away from blogging–this feeling that I no longer have anything worthwhile to share about vegan cooking and eating.

The point of this post is not to have a pity party however, but to give myself a chance to get back on track with blogging by allowing myself a bit more flexibility with the theme. It’s my blog after all! Going forward I will be focusing more on mindful eating and an overall healthy lifestyle, especially with an infant in tow, and my posts will reflect this.

I hope the content will still be interesting enough that those who have read this blog for a long time will want to stick around, but of course I’ll understand if some decide to move on.

Finally, I do intend to keep posting photos of delicious vegan food on social media, so if this is of interest to you, definitely follow me on Instagram! I’ll be posting lots of good stuff with the hastag #whatveganseat.

xoxo
A.Cook, still in the making

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Remembering the Boston Marathon Bombings: Two Years Later

Today is the two-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, and it has been weighing heavily on my mind.

I have shared my thoughts about that terrible day twice before on this blog.  On April 22, 2013, one week after the bombs went off, I shared my first-hand account of that day and the days that followed. A year later, I wrote about the regrowth that had taken place in the year since the bombs had gone off.

Another year has gone by, and this one brought us the trial and conviction of the cowardly terrorist whose actions brought about the deaths of four innocent people and the maiming of countless others.  Personally, his conviction does little to lift my spirits, as it can in no way make up for the pain, fear, and damage he caused.  But it does in its own way mean justice for the victims, and I sincerely hope it has brought them and their families some peace and comfort.

And so we continue to move on, to heal, and to remember.  And yes, I will be bringing my infant son out to celebrate his first Patriots Day on Monday.  It seems to me that the best way we can honor the memories of those that were lost is to continue to live our lives as joyfully as possible, without fear.

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It’s Still Pumpkin Season! Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Recipe

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend!  Knowing that next year there will be a new little human in the mix had me really cherishing the time we spent with family and friends this time around.

I can’t be the only one who feels that pumpkin season shouldn’t end with Thanksgiving, but should continue through the entire fall and holiday season.  My taste for pumpkin is still going strong, in any event!

Remember those wisdom-giving pumpkin pancakes?  The leftovers got me through several breakfasts last week.  I had them rolled up with a bit of White Chocolate Wonderful and they were divine.
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Once those were gone, I put the leftover pumpkin puree to good use in delicious smoothie form.  There are a thousand and one pumpkin pie smoothie recipes on the Internet, and now I’m throwing mine into the mix as well!
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Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
Serves 1
Vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free

Ingredients
3/4 – 1 cup non-dairy milk (I used almond-coconut)…add less milk for a thicker consistency, more for thinner
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 frozen banana
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Small pinch of ground cloves

Directions
Blend and enjoy!

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Are you still getting your pumpkin fix? Let me know how!

I Love Tofurky

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving!  I certainly did, although I definitely ate too much.  Somehow before tucking in I forgot about the limited space available in my abdomen (what with the 5-6 lb. human residing in there), and paid the price with a pretty uncomfortable evening thereafter, but it was so worth it.

One of the things I of course overstuffed myself with was my favorite staple–the Tofurky roast!–that I bring along to Thanksgiving every year.
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I know the word “Tofurky” has become kind of infamous and is maybe a bit of a joke to non-vegans.  It is kind of a silly name, I guess, and it’s kind of misleading because Tofurky isn’t actually a tofu turkey (it’s actually made of a blend of tofu, gluten, and canola oil).  But I really, really love it. Especially with all the caramelized roasted veggies around it–ahh, so good!

It’s obviously not exactly a health food, but it is absolutely delicious and I look forward to enjoying it on this special occasion each year.  For me, Thanksgiving isn’t the same without it anymore.  And, because of the availability of options like this, a meatless Thanksgiving is not only possible, but is truly enjoyable.  That’s definitely something to be thankful for!
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And now I’m off to make myself a Thanksgiving sandwich with leftover Tofurky for lunch 🙂

P.S. – After reading over the post and realizing that it sounds a bit like an ad or review (haha!), I just thought I’d clarify that I’m not being paid to advertise Tofurky or anything.  I just really like it and wrote the post while I was getting psyched up for my lunch.

Halloweekend 2014

Hi there! I hope everyone had a great Halloween weekend!

Ours was very low-key, for obvious reasons. We didn’t have any plans except to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters and to stop by a small “open house” type gathering that some of our neighbors had organized. Suburban living at its finest 🙂

I stuck with a super-simple DIY costume (shirt, sharpie, and fabric paint) for Baby H and me:
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And worked up these little clementine Jack o’ lanterns to bring to the neighbors’ house:
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I did not come up with this idea! I just saw it floating around the Interwebs and thought it was cute. Plus, it matched my costume! The neighbors seemed to get a kick out of it too!
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Interestingly, I ended up being pretty judicious with the amount of candy and sweets I took in over this sugar-filled holiday (in stark contrast to last weekend!). The sweets craving was fun while it lasted but I am glad that it seems to have subsided. Lord knows I won’t need any extra help putting on the pounds in these final two months.

Later this week I will have a fun giveaway so come back and see me then!!

Mojito Stone Fruit Salad

Today I am sharing my current obsession: a stone fruit salad with hints of mint and lime reminiscent of a delicious mojito!

Tangy, sweet, and insanely refreshing, this fruit salad is a perfect way to take advantage of summer’s amazing bounty. It makes a delicious breakfast or snack and is easily multiplied for a party, picnic, or bbq.
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Mojito Stone Fruit Salad
Serves 2 as a snack or side, or 1 as a big bodacious breakfast
Vegan, raw, gluten-free

Ingredients
1 nectarine (or peach), pitted and diced
1 plum, pitted and diced
10 cherries, pitted and quartered
1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 tsp grated lime zest
1 tsp finely chopped fresh mint

Instructions
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well, stirring gently to avoid bruising the fruit.

Enjoy as is or top with coconut whipped cream for a little decadence! (I like this method by Angela of Oh She Glows).

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Recipe notes:
1) Conventionally grown stone fruits tend to carry a lot of pesticides on their skin. In this one you’ll be eating all the skins, including that of the lime, making this one recipe for which you may want to consider using organic ingredients if available.
2) If your fruit is underripe or you find the salad comes out more tangy than you’d prefer, go ahead and add a little bit of sweetener. Agave nectar or some cane or turbinado sugar would work beautifully.
3) If you are making this to serve at a gathering I would suggest waiting to toss it all together until you are just about ready to serve. This will prevent those sassy cherries from staining the whole thing red!

Have a wonderful, happy, healthy 4th!!!

UPDATE: I have entered this recipe in today’s Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck!

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Spiced Tofu Cutlets

These cutlets were born out of a last minute, not-very-well-planned-out idea that I had at about 6 p.m. on St. Patrick’s Day to make tofu with the seasonings of corned beef.  Obviously the texture would be nowhere close but I still thought the flavors might work.

Well, turns out it tastes nothing like corned beef either, but it is still delicious so I’m sharing!  #WinningFail

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SPICED TOFU CUTLETS
Yield: 2 servings (2 cutlets each)
Vegan and gluten-free

Ingredients
Juice of 1/2 of a lemon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 small bay leaves (or 1 large leaf torn in two)
1 small cinnamon stick, roughly broken up into shards
4 whole cloves
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/16 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1/2 tsp. black mustard seeds (yellow would be fine too)
1/2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 block extra-firm tofu, pressed and cut into 4 slices
Additional salt for sprinkling

Directions
In a shallow dish, add lemon juice and salt and swirl around until salt is dissolved.

Add bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, allspice, peppercorns, mustard seeds, and sugar, and stir to combine and to distribute the ingredients evenly.

Add tofu to marinade and sprinkle the tops with salt.  Marinate for at least 10 minutes, then flip, sprinkle the other side with salt, and continue to marinate.

You can eat them right out of the marinade, or prepare them hot by pan-frying (the method I used) or grilling.  [This probably goes without saying, but please be sure to remove the bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, and peppercorns before eating.  The mustard seeds are okay to eat whole.]

–x–

These are great on their own as a meal component.  I enjoyed mine with colcannon on the side:
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And also on a sandwich with greens and a dab of dijon mustard:
Spiced Tofu Cutlets 006I’ve been loving this cheap, quick, versatile recipe lately, as things have been rather hectic in my neck of the woods.  More on that in an upcoming post…

Quick Ragnar Update
My training has completely stalled out over the past two weeks as I’ve been dealing with a strained hip flexor.  It doesn’t bother me at all except when I run so I’ve been trying to just rest, stretch, and cross-train.  It’s hard though and I’m getting worried that I won’t be ready for the race (which is only 6 weeks away)!  If anyone else has experience with this type of injury, I am open to any and all advice 🙂