Sunshine and Rainbows

Happy spring everyone!!!

Check out the beautiful magnolia blooms that appeared on this tree in my yard over the weekend!
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Last week was absolutely incredible in Boston (and pretty much everywhere else, too, I’m told). It actually reached 83 degrees here last Thursday, shattering the old temperature record, set in the 1940s, by 11 degrees–amazing!

Last week also marked the first week in my half marathon training program.  This will be my third half marathon and it feels great to be “in training” again.  I love being active and getting to spend a lot of time outdoors, and even more than that, I love how easy it is to eat a clean, wholesome diet while training–my body just craves that sort of food!

Despite that temperatures are back to a normal Boston March level today, it certainly feels like my life has been all sunshine and rainbows recently.  Check out some of the bright and colorful things that have made their way across my plate!

BREAKFAST
Normally, I’m not a huge breakfast eater, but when in training this meal becomes a crucial part of my day.  I try to find things that are quick and portable, but also contain a respectable balance of carbs, protein, and healthy fats.

Banana Flapjacks from Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
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This has recently become my go-to weekend breakfast, mostly because I never seem to run out of must-be-used-now bananas.  For this batch, I added shredded coconut and spread a smidgen of Earth Balance on top.  This recipe is a sure bet any time you are making breakfast for non-vegans who cannot imagine what vegans eat for breakfast if not pig patties stacked with various globs of eggs and cheese.  The recipe produces pancakes that are soft and creamy from the banana and just the right amount of sweet.  Very highly recommended.

Later in the week, I used leftover flapjacks to make breakfast roll-ups.  I spread a small amount of pecan butter in the center of each, rolled it up, and just like that, it was ready for me to take along on the train!
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Freakin’ so delicious, and filling too!

Homemade Yogurt Parfait
It is rare that I eat strawberries so early in the season, but I found a carton of incredibly fragrant, perfectly ripe specimens at Russo’s and couldn’t resist.  I cut them up along with some banana and layered it with Whole Soy & Co.’s Strawberry Banana (which has replaced Apricot Mango as my favorite flavor) yogurt for a sweet treat of a breakfast that was pleasing to both the eyes and the palate.
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LUNCH
In keeping with what I mentioned in my last post about trying to fit in more high-volume cooking, I’ve been buying produce that looks good and cooking it up on the weekends, then finding random ways to use it throughout the week.  My latest experiment involved roasting a small butternut squash with maple syrup and olive oil, as well as a batch of gorgeous beets that I found at Russo’s (where else?)–they were only 98 cents for the whole bunch, leaves and all!  The result was this delicious concoction, which I’ve dubbed The Rainbow Sandwich
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Look at those beautiful colors! Earthy roasted beets, sweet maple-roasted squash, baby spinach, and incredible fresh-baked Russo’s “rustic bread” make for the most delightful and spring-appropriate sandwich imaginable.  Sunshine in every bite!
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I would be lying if I said I did not eat this same sandwich for lunch 5 out of the last 8 work days.

I have a lot more cooking to chronicle and recipes to review, but time is short, and this post is already very long!  Thanks for reading if you’ve gotten this far.

A final thought: we all know that life can’t be all sunshine and rainbows all the time.  But that is exactly why I treasure weeks like these so much when they do come around.  I hope you all do, too!Photobucket

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!