Thursday, October 30, 2014

Three Beautiful Things Thursday!

I've missed a couple of Tuesdays, but I thought it was about time for another Three Beautiful Things post!

*Three Beautiful Things Tuesdays is a series I was inspired to create after reading Clare's blog: Three Beautiful Things, and she invites everyone to join. The idea is that you post three beautiful things about your day, life, the world, whatever. Please join the fun and post your own Three Beautiful Things (3BT) in the comments (or on your own blog and post a link in the comments so that I can follow along)!*

1) I received two free 10 minute massages this week! Because my work is awesome and invited some massage therapists to give out massages at our Health and Benefits Fairs.

2) I finally talked to my mom on the phone today. We've been playing phone tag for a few days now, and we don't talk often. I invited her out to come stay with us for Christmas. Fingers crossed. They might not do it, but I pulled the grandma also lives out here, and she hates flying at Christmas card. Also, the my husband's family comes to visit all the time, and you've never seen our apartment cards! Maybe I will guilt trip them into coming. Haha!

3) Halloween is tomorrow, and I have a sweet costume to wear this year: The Bride (aka Beatrix Kiddo) from Kill Bill. If you don't know who that is, you need to watch Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2 ASAP. They're both on Netflix. Also, here's a picture:
(I have the sword, and I'll be wearing the same jumpsuit, minus the blood splatters.)


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Easy Weeknight Dinner

Today, I have a super simple recipe to share with you all: Vegan Burritos. These are very quick and easy to make and great when you're hungry now! For example, tonight, I went to a kettlebell class after work and got home about an hour and a half later than usual. So by the time I got home, I was definitely ready to eat something quick! They're also easily customizable to whatever produce you happen to have in your fridge.

Easy Weeknight Burritos


*All starred ingredients are optional*
1 15 oz. can black beans
1/2 bag frozen corn (or about 1 cup of fresh corn)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp nutritional yeast*
1/4 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp dried cilantro*
1/8 tsp garlic powder*
1/8 tsp onion powder (or you can use diced onion as noted below)
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp cayenne*
1/3 diced red pepper*
1/4 cup diced onion*(Bonus points if you use a purple onion)
red pepper slices*
chopped tomatoes or salsa*
avocado slivers*
romaine lettuce*
a dollop of Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream* (or your favorite brand or homemade variety)
1 burrito-size tortilla (I prefer whole-wheat.)


Drain and rinse your can of beans and add to a medium-sized pot. Mix in frozen corn and a little bit of water, enough to line the bottom of the pan. You can also add some olive oil if you prefer. Turn heat on low. Add all of your spices and mix well. I'm not too particular about the measurements when I make this, so feel free to add more or less of each spice to your taste. At this point dice up your onion and red pepper if you have them. Add them when you're done chopping and make sure to stir periodically. Add a splash more water if needed to keep from burning the beans. Cook for a minute, give it a taste and add more spices if needed. Cook and stir frequently for about 2 more minutes or until warmed throughout.

Turn off the heat and scoop your bean-corn mixture onto the middle of the tortilla. Chop and pile on your remaining vegetables and feel free to add a dollop of sour cream, salsa, and/or your favorite vegan shredded cheese. Roll it up and fold one end. Woila- burrito!  

Super quick and simple, no planning, and super delicious!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Meal Plan Update: Vegan Orange-Glazed Tempeh

Today's review is of Wednesday night's meal plan recipe: Vegan Orange-Glazed Tempeh from Odd Little Vegan's blog. Check out the recipe on her site:

This recipe was freaking delicious! I like tempeh, but I only have one sauce that I know how to make. Well, now I've found a new way to make tempeh. It's super quick and easy to prepare. I rounded this dish out with some brown rice and edamame. I recommend that you hop on over to Odd Little Vegan's blog immediately and try it out. Or try any of the other yummy recipes she's posted.

This week, I 've only been able to make the Clean, Mean Burritos from The Kind Diet By: Alicia Silverstone (which were awesome, as expected) and the Orange-Glazed Tempeh, but I hope to make a few more this weekend. I plan to carry over the ones I don't have time to make this week into next week's meal plan because I just really want to try them all eventually.

Also, I have a question for my vegan readers: What cruelty-free make-up brands do you recommend? I'm having a hard time finding products that I like and some of them are expensive. So it'd be nice to get some reviews or recommendations before I invest another $16 in sub-par, clumpy vegan mascara. Also, if you know of any reliable sites that review vegan beauty products, feel free to let me know about them in the comments.

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Meal Plan Update

Last week, I tried out some new recipes with my first week of meal planning. If you didn't catch the first post, here's another look at the past week's menu:
Here are some reviews of a few of the recipes I tried:

Mexican Chorizo 

The Mexican Chorizo recipe that I made last Thursday was another Happy Herbivore hit! Her Chorizo recipe uses quinoa, which is pretty awesome. I ate the quinoa chorizo with leftover corn tortillas from Wednesday's taco night, Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream, Daiya shredded cheese, and some romaine lettuce. I'll definitely be adding this to my cooking repertoire. It's super simple to make and another way to make quinoa delicious.

Cornbread and Baked Beans

I don't have any pictures of the Happy Herbivore cornbread and baked beans that I made last week because they were that good. We demolished them! The baked beans were amazing, and much better than any baked beans that I've ever had before (probably because they were not canned). Also, the cornbread was moist and delicious, and the first time that I've tasted good vegan cornbread. It was very quick and easy to make, and I plan to make it again several times in the near future!

 Cheezy Shells and Broccoli 

 Whole Wheat Shells
 Cheezy Sauce
 Pre-Cheeze Sauce 
 Close-up of Cheezed Shells
 Finished Cheezy Shells & Broccoli

This recipe of Easy Cheezy Shells and Broccoli came from Vegan Comfort Foods from Around the World By: Veronica Grace  AKA Low Fat Vegan Chef. I've made this recipe before, but the first time I didn't have all of the ingredients to make the cheese sauce, so I just mixed some of them with a processed vegan cheese. This time I followed the directions.
I think this recipe is pretty good, but I would not recommend it for your omnivore friends and family. My omnivore husband was not a fan. It doesn't exactly taste like cheese, but it is a good sauce. The sauce doesn't have any added fat, so if you want to add a little bit of oil or vegan margarine to the sauce for a more creamy taste, I say go for it. I'm trying to be healthy and lose weight. So I only added a little extra paprika and chili powder.
In conclusion, the first week of meal plans went really well! I'm currently working my way through week 2 of Meal Planning, and I'll try to post an update on some of the new recipes I tried out sometime this weekend.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Three Beautiful Things Tuesdays #3

Welcome to my third "Three Beautiful Things Tuesdays" post!

*Three Beautiful Things Tuesdays is a new series I was inspired to create after reading Clare's blog: Three Beautiful Things, and she invites everyone to join. The idea is that you post three beautiful things about your day, life, the world, whatever. Please join the fun and post your own Three Beautiful Things (3BT) in the comments (or on your own blog and post a link in the comments so that I can follow along)!*

1) I worked out twice today! I did arm weights and crunches during my lunch break and 40 minutes of biking after work.

2) I didn't lose any weight this past week, but I also didn't gain any! :) I focused a lot on cooking and food last week, so I'm going to put a little more emphasis on cardio (biking, swimming, and maybe the elliptical if my foot permits it). I did not swim at all last week, which explains my lack of progress on the weight loss front.

3) I made up a new meal plan for this week with lots of fun recipes! They say it takes 21 days to start a new habit, and I want this one to stick. I've been trying out a lot of new recipes and actually getting excited about cooking something different each night. I can already tell I've got some winners planned for this week. Check out this week's meal plan below:

I'm actually a day behind on this week's meal plan because yesterday my husband had to go to a dinner meeting for work. His favorite meal is tacos, and I didn't want him to miss out on the deliciousness which will be burrito night! So I stopped by the store and got some veggie sushi for dinner for myself and some of the groceries on my list, which I didn't have time to shop for this weekend. I was too busy binge-watching Charmed on Netflix (Yes, it's kind of an embarrassing thing to admit.), taking my dog, Miki, to the dog park, and then also taking her to Petsmart in an attempt to meet Squidward from the Lost Dog Rescue.  Squidward wasn't there, but she became instant best buddies with a dog named Cooper, who unfortunately is much too big to share our 1 1/2 bedroom apartment. However, he is a very sweet guy if you happen to live in the DC/Northern Virginia area and are in the market to adopt a 100 lb. friendly, but calm love bug.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Liebster Award!

Kate from Odd Little Vegan nominated me for a Liebster Award. Yay! Thanks Kate! I hadn't really been blogging too much before Vegan MoFo (Month of Food). However, when one of my best friends texting me asking "What the heck is Vegan MoFo?" because of my post entitled Vegan MoFo Fail (before it was edited for clarification purposes), it kind of lit a fire under my butt to come back to the blogging world. And I'm back with a bang! Making new vegan blogging friends? Multiple posts in one week? Starting a new weekly series? Can I keep it up? Find out on next tomorrow's episode of Run, VegGirl, Run!

Vegan MoFo was so wonderful this year and introduced me to a lot of neat vegan blogs and amazing, compassionate people. So without further ado, let's move on to the Liebster:

The Rules!
1. Answer the questions given and then come up with 10 new ones to ask your nominees.
2. Nominate 8 other blogs, let them know you have nominated them and put a link to their blog in your post.
3. No Tag backs.
4. Nominees must have under 200 followers on any platform.
5. You must tell all the blogs that you nominate that you have nominated them.

1. What did you have for breakfast today?

C/o Cascadian Farm

Cascadian Farm Organic Cinnamon Crunch cereal with vanilla almond milk! I usually don't eat cereal, though. Nine times out of ten I have toast or waffles with preserves.

2. Are there any foods you miss not being able to eat as a vegan?

Pretty much everything I used to eat before can be made vegan, and I was one of those weird people who hated steak and ham and bologna before I even went vegetarian. I guess I miss quesadillas with cheese that melts properly because Daiya cheese and other vegan cheeses that I've tried don't melt before the tortilla gets browned. I usually have to resort to sticking my queso-less quesadilla in the microwave to melt it the rest of the way.

3. What’s your favourite vegan take-out?

Sesame Tofu and General Tso's Tofu from the local Chinese food place. My husband and I order both and then have a little bit of each kind of tofu. I've somehow convinced my crazy omnivore man to order tofu or Veggie Lo Mein, instead of chicken or beef dishes, so that he can share his food with me, too. This has proved to be a much better situation than him stealing almost all of my Sesame Tofu, me glaring at his Sweet n' Sour Pork willing it to magically transform into Sweet n' Sour Tofu, then resorting to waving my chopstick and repeating "Wingardium Levi-tofu-osa!".

4. Is anyone else in your family vegan?

Nobody else in my family is even vegetarian. I think I shocked my family about 3 1/2 years ago when I went vegetarian, and when I went vegan about a little over year ago, they just decided to write me off as completely insane. They're all very accommodating, despite all the silly obligatory Where do you get your protein and calcium type of questions.

5. What’s your favourite fruit?


6. What’s your favourite summer recipe?

Grilled pineapple and BBQ grilled tofu.

7. Name 2 really awesome vegan blogs that you follow, and you think people should check out.

Only 2? There are so many great ones! If you haven't already, you should check out Odd Little Vegan because Kate is awesome, and here are two more of my favorites as well (an old favorite and a new find):

       1) I've been following Cassie over at Pretty in Pink Vegan pretty much since she started her blog. Lately she's been hard at work getting her new restaurant "Pink Noodle" ready to go, but you should have a look through some of her archives!

      2) Weird! Why Aren't You Vegan? is another one of the new discoveries brought about by Vegan MoFo. I love Lisa's sense of humor, and her interview questions to omnivores (and their hilarious answers) crack me up! Note to self: Make friends with more improv comedians.

8. Living in the middle of nowhere and growing all your own food: heaven, or hell?

Heaven, of course! I have a secret dream of someday owning an Alpaca, Siberian Husky, berry patch, and organic vegetable farm somewhere outside of Dayton, Ohio. (Not so secret to my husband who would also like to add Nigerian dwarf goats to the menagerie of interesting animals.)  Also, I used to volunteer at an awesome alpaca farm in Terre Haute, IN (White Violet Farms), so I do actually know how to take care of alpacas (mostly you have to be willing to shovel a bunch of alpaca poop).  This dream will totally come true someday!  I've seriously told my Mother-in-law to keep a look out for "For Sale" signs at an alpaca farm that is near their home in the actual middle of nowhere in Indiana.

9. Have you enjoyed taking part in VeganMofo 2014?

I actually didn't really take part in Vegan Mofo 2014, or any Vegan Mofos for that matter, but I have been highly entertained by the posts written by bloggers who participated in Vegan Mofo this year and making new blog friends!

10. Do you have any four-legged family members?

I only have one: my all-white, blue-eyed Siberian Husky Miki (pronounced like tiki), and in our household, we have made up a plethora of songs dedicated to how awesome Huskies are. Such gems as "Hotdogs, Huskies, and Hullabaloos!" and "High Five from a Husky". (Did I mention she gives high fives?) Lately, I've been unsuccessfully trying to convince my husband that Miki needs a buddy and that we need to adopt this cute little guy:

His name is Squidward, and isn't he freaking adorable?!? He's only 10 lbs., and he doesn't shed. If you've ever had to vacuum up after a Siberian Husky dropping her coat for about two weeks straight twice each year, you realize how much of a great quality not-shedding can be in a dog!


Since it's October 3rd and Vegan MoFo has officially come to a close, I'm going to refrain from nominating any other bloggers (especially since most of the ones I would nominate have already received Liebsters), but I hope you enjoyed my answers! Thanks again, Kate, and I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Peace Out,

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Meal Planning: Chickpeas & Dumplings

Lately, dinner time has meant either one of two things: we need to go to a restaurant/get some takeout or I need to find out what I have in the freezer or fridge that I can somehow magically turn into a meal as quickly as possible. Being the proud owner of quite a few vegan and vegetarian cookbooks (see Exhibit A below), I decided to take charge of this problem by making a meal plan for the week. So this Sunday I planned out my meals, went shopping for ingredients specifically for the meals. This plan will also help us save money by 1) not eating out during the week and 2) only buying things at the grocery store that are actually needed for meals (NO impulse buys allowed!).

So, here's Exhibit A, my collection of vegan & vegetarian cookbooks:

And here's my meal plan for the week:

I'm incorporating some new recipes from The Happy Herbivore cookbook By: Lindsay Nixon and one recipe from Vegan Comfort Foods from Around the World By: Veronica Grace a.k.a. Low Fat Vegan Chef.

Both of these cookbooks happen to be written by authors who believe in the whole foods, plant-based, no oil, no added sugar healthy mindset, which is an excellent way to continue the second week of my recently refocused weight loss journey. (I lost 3 lbs. last week!)

Monday night, I made the first recipe on my plan: Chickpeas & Dumplings.  I followed the directions to the best of my abilities, but I may have added a little too much of the spices. I didn't feel like mixing together HH's Poultry Seasoning Mix because then I would have some leftover. So instead I added a teaspoon of each spice from the Poultry Seasoning Mix. Now there are only 3 teaspoons in a Tablespoon, which I didn't think about at the time, and the recipe only called for one tablespoon of the Poultry Seasoning Mix. Since there were 5 spices in the mix, that means I added two extra teaspoons of spices. It smelled very fragrant, but I will definitely use less spices next time I make it. I also added peas because for some reason, there were peas and carrots in the picture in the book, but there were none in the recipe or ingredients list.

Here's a picture from during the cooking process:

I've never had Chicken & Dumplings before, so I was a little off-put by the taste and texture of the dumplings. Maybe it's because of weird dumpling-taste or the extra spices, but this recipe was not a big hit at my house. My husband is also not a fan of chickpeas, and he told me there were "too many chickpeas".  I also wasn't entirely loving it because for some reason I was expecting the dumplings to taste more like cooked biscuits than chunks of unbaked dough. My final product turned out nothing like the picture in the book. Mine's a little goopy and brown and Happy Herbivore's picture had a whitish broth (plus the previously mentioned chunks of carrots).

I have liked every other Happy Herbivore recipe I've made before, so I will definitely be giving this recipe another try sometime in the future (with less spices) and maybe separate the mixture in half before I add the chickpeas (to appease the husband).