This Sweet Tooth Is Real

These days it seems that Baby H’s main interest, besides somersaulting, is sweet treats.  According to the Old Wives’ Tale, this apparently means I’m having a girl.  Of course, the latest poll of 16 of our nearest and dearest, collected at my baby shower on Saturday, reveals that only 4 (including H and me) think we are having a girl.  We’ll find out for sure in about 10 weeks!
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That belly don’t lie…

In the meantime, I’m trying to moderate how much I’m actually taking in, but also make sure I enjoy the indulgence whenever I do decide to treat us!

And fortunately, I’ve had access to some of the best vegan sweet treats in existence.

A couple weeks ago, H and I took a quick trip to NYC.  We both knew that we wanted to visit the Cinnamon Snail food truck while we were there, so on Saturday morning, we checked their facebook page and learned that they would be at the monthly Vegan Shop-Up in Bushwick that day.

Some of you may already know this, but the Cinnamon Snail is very close to my heart.   Before he started the food truck, I used to visit Chef Adam’s booth each week at the Red Bank Farmer’s Market, about 3 miles down the road from the town I grew up in, to sample some of his vegan donuts, raw pizzas, and other incredible vegan fare.  His astonishing success has been hard-earned, and honestly, is extremely well-deserved.

The Cinnamon Snail is, quite simply, amazing.  They have all kinds of food but their baked goods are especially outstanding.  When H and I visited the truck a few weeks ago, we stocked up!
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Double-Chocolate Fudge donut (this is H’s all-time favorite!)

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Thai Basil Coconut donut (an incredible flavor combo if there ever was one)

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Pistachio donut (with tantalizing hints of cardamom)

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Gluten-free Peanut Butter blondie (great texture and not overly-sweet)

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And my absolute favorite…the Vanilla Creme Brulee donut

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You guys…seriously. This thing was soaked in gooey caramel and had the most delicious, crunchy, sugary crust.  I was in heaven eating it.

This past Sunday, my sister Marley and I headed down to the annual Boston Vegetarian Food Festival.  Initially I didn’t plan on going inside, because it’s usually crowded to the point of not being able to move, and that is something I’m not comfortable with in my present condition.  However, we got there right when it opened up so I managed to make one good round and pick up some coupons and samples.  And then I got in line for Vegan Treats.

Vegan Treats is based out of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and is the highlight of the VegFest for me every year.  Their peanut butter bombs are one of the best and most decadent things I have ever tasted, vegan or not.
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It’s basically a layer of dense chocolate cake, topped with fluffy peanut butter mousse, and then the whole thing is covered in a chocolate shell and a peanut butter drizzle.  Ah-maz-ing.

I got two (the third was for Marley, I swear!).
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I also snagged a black and white donut, a white chocolate key lime cheesecake for my parents, and a pumpkin cheesecake on a stick (!) <–it’s the candy corn looking thingy in the middle–so cool, right?!

Then we went outside to patronize the fabulous Like No Udder vegan ice cream truck!  I still get giddy when I think about the fact that something like this exists!
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Baby H and I settled on the Oreo milkshake. It was sweet and creamy, with lots of delicious cookie chunks, and totally hit the spot!

Marley, who has developed a bit of a sensitivity to soy, went inside to grab some coconut-based ice cream from FoMu.
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She got a cup of apple cider donut ice cream.  Yes, you read that right…vegan apple cider donut chunks esconced in creamy, cinnamony ice cream.  I tried some and it was effing amazing.

So there you have it.  All the vegan sweets fit to eat!

Fortunately, my other cravings at the moment are broccoli and black beans 🙂

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It’s Late May and I’m Still Eating Cold Weather Food

Hello and Happy Thursday!  Only one more day until the weekend.  I can hardly believe that this one will bring the start of June!

No but actually, it’s really hard to believe, especially after last night, when I had to turn the heat back on in my house, and even then sleep under the covers in a long-sleeved shirt and sweatshirt.  Also, on Tuesday one of my friends said she saw snow (that’s right, SNOW) falling in Boston.  Not cool, weather, not cool at all.

I’ve been a little clandestine with my blogging activity lately, meaning that I’ve been lurking on many of your blogs but unfortunately not being able to fully read and comment.  I do apologize and hope to be back to my previous level of participation very soon!

Part of my silence has been busy-ness/laziness, and to be perfectly honest part of it has been crankiness and not feeling like seeing all of the beautiful warm-weather food everyone else seems to be enjoying while I’m stuck in the rainy high 40’s (or mid-50’s if we’re really lucky).  World’s smallest violin, I know.

To cope though, I’ve been eating lots of yummy hot food when I go out, and assembling scrumptious comfort food meals at home.

Yesterday I had a very satisfying vegetarian pho at a tiny Vietnamese & Thai restaurant in Woburn called Pho #1.  It’s a little hole in the wall with some seriously delicious eats and a decent-sized veg menu.
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The soup was hot and steamy and just what I needed.

On the side I had possibly the best summer rolls (for luck, y’know?) I’ve ever tasted. They were SO fresh and had just the right amount of mint. And that peanut sauce–wow!
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I am considering going back today to get more of them, even though I brought my lunch.

At home I’ve been very into baked potatoes.  A baked potato with chili is one of the quickest, cheapest meals I know of, and never fails to be delish, so that has made a few appearances.  But the one I’m really proud of is my Loaded Baked Potato from last week.
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Feast your eyes.
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This thing was SO FRIGGIN GOOD!  I baked the potato in the microwave, spread a little Earth Balance inside, then added steamed broccoli, a generous drizzle of Jackie’s cheese sauce (yeah definitely added more after the pictures were taken), and some chopped Upton’s Naturals bacon seitan on top.

I need to make some more cheese sauce, because I want to eat this again tonight.  And maybe tomorrow night as well.

Oh also, this was my first time trying Upton’s bacon seitan and I am hooked!  In case anyone is keeping track 🙂

See you all in your comments boxes soon!

Oh and a reminder–if you want to give Beyond Meat a try this weekend, you can get some using this Buy One Get One Free coupon.  It expires June 1!

Winter Weekend Wind-down and Wrap-up

Well, the last February weekend is behind us and we are now officially less than a month from the first day of spring!  I’ve enjoyed my quiet, indoorsy weekends but am not all that sad that they are rapidly winding down.

This past weekend was actually fairly busy though.  On Saturday morning, I got in a 5-mile run which I was actually able to do outside due to some of the first bearable temperatures in months!  All of the melting made for a bit of a squelchy course but it was an awesome run nonetheless.

When I got back, I got to work in the kitchen.  A little recipe testing for Richa, and a little baking for H’s birthday (which was Sunday).  I made Chloe Coscarelli’s Chocolate Beer Cupcakes with Irish Whiskey Buttercream:Bday Weekend 013Out of respect for dessert-lovers everywhere, I will not tell you how many calories are in these (remember that thing about how vegan food is not diet food?).  I will just tell you to make them.  Immediately.

Afterwards I went into Boston for a friend’s baby shower, and then met H in Brookline for dinner to celebrate his birthday.  We went to Fugakyu, an incredible sushi restaurant in Coolidge Corner.  I didn’t take photos because the light was really dim and everything would have just looked gross, but it was really delicious!  Then we came home and ate cupcakes and watched Breaking Bad on Netflix.  It was a good day.

On Sunday, I got up fairly early and went straight to work in the kitchen again.  I made a batch of hummus and did other assorted meal prep for the week, plus a little more recipe testing:
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Scrumptious dish with yellow split lentils and spinach.  And plenty of fresh cilantro of course.

And spent some QT with these loves:
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I went for a brisk walk in the afternoon to get some fresh air and a little active recovery (and also to budget a couple extra calories for dessert) before I had to get ready to go to H’s birthday dinner at his parents’ house.  I brought cupcakes to share!

Bday Weekend 002These are definitely impress-your-omnivore-in-laws cupcakes.  But then again, what recipe by Chloe C. is not?

Also (and you can kind of see this in the picture), for some reason the cupcake wrappers I have tend to peel off the sides of the cupcakes after baking.  It’s not something I relish.  Does anyone else have this problem?  Or know of a better cupcake wrapper brand that I could purchase?

Anyway, it was a nice weekend.  Babies and baking and power walking.  I’ve grown so domesticated in my old age.

Shameless Indulgence: Spicy Chicken Quesadillas

Over the weekend, I was incessantly hungry, and so I ate.  A lot.  I don’t know what was with me, but I would eat and then be hungry an hour later no matter what.  So I indulged, and it was glorious.

One such indulgence was this VEGAN Spicy Chicken Quesadilla, made with good old-fashioned commercial store-bought products.

I’m doing a juice cleanse later this week (for a review), so when I’m detoxing like crazy, I’ll know where to point the finger of blame…

Spicy Chicken Quesadillas 006…right here^

Here is how I made it:
1) I sauteed 1/2 a yellow onion (diced), 1 clove of garlic (minced), 1/3 of an orange bell pepper (diced), and 1/2 a jalapeno (minced) in 1 tsp. of coconut oil over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes.  I seasoned it with a little salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and cayenne.
2) When the veggies were starting to get slightly tender, I tossed in 6 strips of Beyond Meat southwest style strips (cubed) and browned everything together, another 3 minutes or so.  [Note: this makes enough filling for two quesadillas.]
3) I removed the veggies from the pan and set them aside.  In the same pan, I placed a corn tortilla (I use Trader Joe’s) and topped with about 1/3-1/2 cup Daiya pepperjack style shreds.  I warmed it for a minute until the Daiya started to look slightly melty.
4) I scooped the veggie and “chicken” mixture on top of the Daiya, then covered it with another corn tortilla.  I warmed it another minute, then flipped it and cooked it 1-2 minutes more until the Daiya was totally melted.

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5) I used a pizza cutter to slice it into four wedges, then topped it with salsa and feasted.

Is it 100% whole foods?  No.  Is it oil-free?  Negative.  I’m okay with this.  Hell, I’ve got a lot more Daiya and Beyond Meat to finish up so I’ll probably make it again (maybe after the cleanse though).  It was delicious.

Now for some real talk.

Sometimes I just need a little vegan junk food in my life.  I don’t have to feel shame when I indulge or when I buy and cook with convenience food.  Instead, I’m choosing to celebrate this weekend’s shameless indulgence by sharing it with all of you!

Food guilt is something I’ve been pondering a lot recently.  Laura recently wrote a post about letting go of food judgment and I think it was one of the things that set my wheels turning.  The trigger for me to finally write my own follow-up to her post was the minute of hesitation I felt today about sharing this not-terribly-healthy, semi-homemade “recipe,” worried about the reactions it would get.

As a food blogger, I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking and writing about food.  I am perpetually reading other people’s blogs and viewing glimpses of the food they eat and lifestyles they lead through the lens of my computer screen.  In turn, I open up on this forum and share parts of myself, my kitchen, my home, my marriage, with people all over the world.

I never consciously compare myself to others but lately I’ve wondered if it’s possible to not do it at least a little bit on a subconscious level.

We all have to make choices every day that pertain to our diets, our health, our work, our lifestyles.  These choices depend on our individual needs, body composition, constraints on our money and time, and any other number of things.  There is no one perfect model or perfect solution.   What works for one person will not necessarily work for another.

Another blogger isn’t “better” or “worse” than you because he or she uses Daiya in recipes, or doesn’t.  Another blogger isn’t necessarily “healthier” than you because he or she drinks a green smoothie for breakfast every. single. day.  We all should do what works for us as individuals.

It’s also important to keep in mind that what you see on someone’s blog or website is only what they choose to share publicly, and represents a very small portion of who they are.  Just because someone chooses to do, say, a themed week of salads on their blog doesn’t mean that they only eat salads and are somehow more “virtuous” than you.  I mean, maybe they do/are.  Or maybe they’re just picking a theme and sharing some nice recipes.  Either way, it’s not a contest of who is “better” or “healthier.”

I think we need to let go of food guilt and food judgment once and for all.  I don’t exactly have a solution for how to do this, as I’m clearly still working through it myself.  But I’m certainly ready to confront it, and I welcome the dialogue.

Thanks for reading if you’ve gotten this far!  As always I would be interested to read any of your thoughts in the comments section.

Indulgence

I know I promised a proper post very soon, and I intend to keep that promise, but it might have to wait until finals are over.  I officially finished law school classes forever last Wednesday, but I am not truly done until May 13th, when I turn in a 30-page paper and take a 3-hour sit-down exam.  Prior to that I have to complete a 7-hour take home exam and turn in another, shorter paper.  So really, I don’t have time to do justice to the post I want to write, which is all about my newest obsession, food trucks.  When I do post it, I hope it’ll be worth the wait!  In addition to my food truck wrap-up, I have a bunch of other stuff to share, as I’ve been eating a lot of really great food.   I feel like I’m finally getting the hang of being vegan on a tight budget and schedule and it feels awesome.  Plus, as the weather gets warmer, I am just feeling good all around…despite finals.  Ha! I will post all of this soon!

In the meantime, I will continue to put up these cute mini-posts in the hopes that they are entertaining and possibly informative.

Right now, I’m going to show you something really friggin amazing.  I bought a pint of Purely Decadent coconut ice cream yesterday at Whole Foods because it was on sale. Plus, the flavor, Mocha Almond Fudge, sounded fabu.
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Oh my sweet Lord.  This is SO. GOOD.

Check out the perfect swirl of fudge in there:
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YUM
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Coco coffee
And yeah…iced coffee with mocha almond fudge ice cream? I went there.  I get to indulge a little during finals, right? 🙂

Also, while I type, these little beauties are roasting away in my oven, making my apartment smell like sweetness and love whilst I study:
Beets!
I can’t stop marveling at how incredibly beautiful these are.  It’s amazing to me that such a vibrant color exists in nature.

I also have their greens waiting for me later.  I would by lying if I said I didn’t eat about a full pound of kale and spinach earlier with lunch, so these don’t stand a chance come dinner time.  I might need a leafy greens intervention soon…
Beet greens

Man I love beets!!!
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Ah-ee-ooooh…killer tofu!!!

Coco Loco

I know I am late to jump on the coconut milk bandwagon, but I’ve hesitated for a while because coconut-based products, as opposed to some of the (unsweetened) soy and almond products I’m used to, seem to have such a higher fat and calorie content.  However, on a recent trip to the store, I realized that now that I’ve finally straightened out my eating so that I’m back to not worrying about how much I eat but rather how well I eat, it’s time to branch out and try some of these pretty-looking new products.

I realize this product review might not be all that helpful because most people who care about non-dairy developments have probably tried this stuff already, but just in case there are any other hold-outs like me out there, here you go.

Turtle Mountain So Delicious Coconut Milk ice cream, Cookies n’ Cream flavor 

I figured this was a good flavor to start with, because a) I love anything cookies n’ cream or Oreo-related, b) chocolate and coconut go so well together in general, and c) the picture on the carton looked amazin-raisin


Here is the ice cream in my cute little “hug mug” that H got me for Christmas 🙂

The verdict: pretty good.   I think I was expecting the coconut milk base to impart subtle coconut flavor but more importantly the creamy texture that coconut milk does so well.  It is indeed verycreamy, but also way more coconutty than I had expected.  I like it though; it reminds me of this (garbage dairy) Mounds ice cream that my local ice cream shop by the Jersey Shore served when I was a kid (Crazees, anyone? Anyone??)  Definitely worth trying if you like Mounds.  And next time I’m at the store I am curious to see what other flavors they have, and whether I think I can handle the extreme coconut influence on that flavor.

Turtle Mountain So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk yogurt, Pina Colada flavor

Holy crap this was good.  It tastes exactly like the (dairy) pina colada yogurt I loved when I was younger and is so creamy.  Seriously, the texture is perfect.  Look at this:

While I do appreciate soy yogurts, the texture doesn’t always suit my taste/mood and so I end up going long stretches without buying or eating any yogurt at all.  THIS, however, I slurped down too fast, and then was sad when it was gone.   And later that same day, I ran back to Whole Foods to get some more.  It’s that good.  I had the Passionate Mango flavor today.  Love.  I also got the Chocolate one–can’t wait to eat it tomorrow!

Verdict:  Try this!

Health is Wealth, And I Am Poor

I like junk food.  Alot.  Especially sweets. This is why I gained weight last semester.  That, and the fact that law school trains us outside of the classroom to be lawyers by shoving alcohol at us at every turn (in all seriousness).  I’m planning to be alot better this semester, and in general, I’m off to a good start!  However, this past week and weekend I was a little bad with the sweet-ing and dessert-ing…

First, the least of all evils, Zucchini Spelt Muffins, from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan by Dreena Burton.  I made these once before, but that time I used yellow squash instead of zucchini, and used the full 2 cups of banana that the recipe calls for, while this time I substituted about half with applesauce (because I ran out of bananas).  I made these just for fun, but mostly because I had a zucchini that needed eating.


Lovelies

These were sooooo delicious warm out of the oven, and were a little less sweet than that ones I made with yellow squash.  I brought some to school the next day and my one friend said she liked the flavor but thought the texture was a little weird.  I ate another one and they did seem a little grainy, so maybe I overbaked them?  Also, about 48 hours after I made them, the ones that I had covered in plastic wrap went bad!  I was really upset; I hate wasting food.  I think next time, storage in the fridge in a plastic container with a lid would extend their life.

Next up are Mucho Margarita Cupcakes out of my brand new copy of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero!!!  I actually debated quite a bit with myself over whether or not to purchase this book because it might very well lead me to bake (and eat) cupcakes every week, but I felt so sure of the many hours of fun I’d get out of it that I bit the bullet.


Before icing


After icing

I made these for my roommate’s birthday because we both love margaritas, and everyone who tried them really liked them!  My roommate’s boyfriend said “It’s like chewing a margarita,” which I thought sounded bad, but he assured me that it was a compliment.  Two small warnings about these: 1) licking the bowl might make you a little tipsy, and 2) the icing is pretty runny, and though I added more confectioner’s sugar to thicken it as the recipe suggested, I found that it was still too runny to be able to do the pretty sugared rim I had intended, so I ended up just sprinkling the sugar on top.

Lastly, going with the theme of unbridled unhealthiness, I wanted to share some pics I’ve had around for a long while of my favorite go-to recipe to knock the socks off of my non-vegan friends.  These are the Cookies ‘n’ Cream version of Basic Chocolate Cupcakes with Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, which I had found online several months ago.  I usually make this as a double-layered cake, but here are some pics of actual cupcakes made from this recipe:  


yes, I am the kind of girl who has star-shaped baking tins

It’s so sad how you can totally tell by the sheer beauty of those pictures that a) they were taken with my old, dearly departed camera, and b) they were taken in outdoor lighting during a season when there was actually daylight and you could bear to go outside for more than 5 seconds.

And actually, now that it’s nearly my half-birthday, here is my birthday cake that I made for myself back in August:

I made an Oreo cake for a friend of mine who has been known to say things like, “Vegans are stupid” and “I’m not saying that you can’t cook.  I’m sure you prepare the food well, but that doesn’t change the fact that nothing tasty is vegan.”  He ate the entire thing and then, yes, admitted that “vegan” and “tasty” are not mutually exclusive.

Though vegan cupcakes and losing weight just might be… :b