A Fresh Dille

can you believe…

Posted in FOOD, VEGAN by clairedille on May 31, 2010

it is almost June? I can’t seem to grasp the fact that spring is coming to a close and summer is in the horizon. I should be completely aware by now, especially considering that the last week has been ridiculously hot. Have I ever mentioned that I am not the best person in heat? I feel weak, lose appetite (cranky? not me…) and more. The cooler, more moderate temps are what I prefer. One day last week, I was sitting at a shoot in 90+  degree weather for a few hours and when lunch rolled around, I couldn’t imagine eating a warm veggie burger. It also didn’t help that the caterer (whom also catered the last film I worked on) was flipping all burgers with the same spatula and tossing them around the grill, whether they were meat or veg. When working, I try to bring my own snacks, but the larabar and coffee breakfast was not ideal for me to sustain on, so I ate with the rest of the crew and hid any disappointment. The music video was for a pretty big “rocker” and I didn’t want to be the one complaining or asking the caterer to cook mine separately when they were already prepared.

Just a little rant…please excuse me.

Over the last few days, I have managed to fit in a few quality breakfasts.

This was rolled oats cooked in coconut milk, with frozen berries, banana, flax, and a raw almond butter and banana topping. Luckily, on this morning, the air conditioner was on so I could still enjoy some warm oats.

Over the weekend, I made Banana Blackberry Spelt Pancakes that didn’t fluff up as hoped but were still very delicious. V didn’t have any baking powder at his house so this was a simple coconut milk, spelt, flax mixture that I topped with a maple-coconut syrup.

Today, I had banana soft serve overnight oats that contained rolled oats mixed with an almond milk, coconut milk yogurt, chia seeds, and cinnamon and finished off with raspberries and almond butter blended with delicious banana soft serve.

Other eats that were enjoyed:

Yesterday, I decided to try the Daiya Cheddar “Cheese” I had finally found at Whole Foods. Back in the day I was a huge tuna melt fan, so I thought a good tempeh bacon, mushroom, and onion melt would be a good choice for lunch. Due to the lack of bread, I used a sprouted burger bun that worked wonderfully. Unfortunately, I didn’t plan well and piled spinach and avocado on top of the cheese so it may be hard to show the melting capability of this vegan “cheese.”

Many people have been raving about this “cheese” for a while now but I can’t say I loved it. Maybe it is because I haven’t had cheese in a long time, especially of the cheddar variety, and felt it was too intense. It probably comes closest to real cheese of all the vegan cheeses I have tried in the past though. Still wanting to try the Mozzarella flavor, I will be attempting to recreate this tasty looking combo this upcoming week.

The only other documented meal was last night’s dinner which involved red quinoa, spinach, black lentils, mushrooms, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and veggie broth. It was just what I was craving, and it did not let me down.

I wish I had more photos of yummy eats to share but a few were eaten on the fly or out before my first baseball game ever. Can you believe a New Yorker and someone who went to college in Boston had never been to a game before this weekend? Most can’t either…

Tonight we have a Memorial Day feast planned at my parents that I plan on sharing with you all tomorrow. I hope everyone has been having a wonderful weekend!

Other things:

-Have you tried Daiya cheese yet? If so, did you prefer one variety over the other?

-Do you love hot temperatures or prefer milder ones?

ciao for now.

bananas, chocolate, & wraps x 2.

Posted in FOOD, TRAVEL, VEGAN by clairedille on May 25, 2010

The weekend came and went much too fast. The few shots I took this week with the Canon Rebel were hurried, and sometimes, just not pretty. I still will share a few tasty eats I had the chance to enjoy over the weekend.

Rolled oats are always made with almond milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and whipped with banana while cooking. I decided that more banana mash(scramble?) had to make its way back into my stomach, for the third day in a row. This time it was mixed with organic frozen wild blueberries, maple syrup, and the scrapings from the oatmeal pot. Raw creamy almond butter was poured on top and quickly stirred in to enjoy while still in bed. There was also a cup of coffee larger than this chipped mug.

Have I mentioned yet that I absolutely adore falafel? Well, I do. I am sure many of you do as well. I sliced up some leftover Whole Foods Falafel that someone in my household bought the day before and threw them on a few of my favorite salad ingredients. I don’t know why, but I just can’t do Romaine these days. I just want Spinach, Spinach, Spinach at all times. We’ve gone through three boxes in the last week and I have a giant bag from an organic stand at our local farmer’s market that is going to be finished tomorrow morning. Don’t worry, I made sure to add some more dressing to this salad for lunch.

We have such a ridiculous amount of herbs growing in V’s little indoor garden. It is actually quite cute how caught up in it he has become. He has bought special lamps set on a timer and they have a schedule very similar to his own, work all night, sleep all day. I had to trim them in the dark on Sunday because I couldn’t figure out how to turn on the lamps. I may have cut off some of the tomato plant by accident, oops.

Turning to Isa and Terry for a simple herb dressing, I made a Silken Tofu Mayo like dressing but thinned it out with extra virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar. The parsley and cilantro made this dressing. I shouldn’t have neglected this cookbook for so long, Veganomicon has really lived up to its potential.

My sister and I are still loving The Chicago Diner Chocolate Chip Cookies while sipping on tea. I need to make my own vegan chocolate chip cookies again soon. Maybe these? Chocolate is one of those things I can always eat, even when the temps are really rising.

I even made some Vegan Zucchini Spelt Muffins with Chocolate Chips this weekend. I used this recipe but replaced the Carrots with Zucchini, Whole Wheat with Spelt Flour, and raisins with mini chocolate chips.

The seemingly orange hue has no explanation, they just came out of the oven this way. Fortunately, these were amazing. Both taste-testers said they could eat a few of them, but held back since dinner was looming.

Woodbridge Pub is the place V and I go the most often in Detroit. So far, it seems to be the only restaurant with food I like in the entire city. You wouldn’t think that a vegetarian would have much luck at a pub, but the Black Bean Burger is the best I’ve ever had. It comes with grilled onions, tomato, an avocado purée, and a balsamic glaze. We shared the Spring Vegetable Sauté which was composed of local carrots, snap peas, and english peas. I didn’t bring the big camera along for the trip because we had to make our way to a wrap party, but believe me it was delicious. The owner of Woodbridge grew up on a farm in Michigan and was a handyman in Detroit before fixing up the abandoned building with salvaged materials. Detroit needs so much help right now. I am used to living in Boston and New York with many veggie filled restaurants I love, but I need to remember that my high school years were spent in Michigan. Although I barely went to Detroit back then (except for the rare concert) it is unbelievable to see the lack of businesses within the city now. The Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and all normal grocery stores are miles away from the city itself. It is nearly impossible to find a grocery store open past 8pm. The wealthy suburbs are a different story and I was completely oblivious the years I lived in this state as teenager.

Today, I polished off the last of my Scottish Oatmeal. I may have shed a tear or two…

These were topped with a figgy chia banana mash of sorts and a few organic blueberries.

Things got interesting as today progressed, and I found out that for the next few days, I will be assisting on a music video. This is pretty exciting since I have yet to help costume one. It shall be an entertaining experience, I am sure. This means that my posts will be rather sporadic but since finishing the gluten-free challenge, I don’t feel the need to post every meal. I hope to get in the kitchen for some tasty concoctions this weekend involving “The Conscious Cook,” but between now and then, I won’t be keeping any promises.

Today’s addiction: wraps!

Lunch involved homemade tempeh bacon, spinach, carrots, cherry tomatoes, avocado, and the Silken Tofu dressing from the day before. I also tried another GT’s Synergy Kombucha, the Guava Goddess, which my sister and I both agreed was lovely.

Wrap number 2:

I am obsessed with the Veganomicon Chickpea Cutlets I made the other day and decided to whip up another batch for tonight’s dinner. An ezekiel wrap was spread with organic tomato paste and baby spinach, and then I sliced up the cutlet to devour. There was also kale and broccoli eaten alongside.

Since this isn’t the every meal, every day type of blog, I must let you know that there are many other snacks that make their way into my stomach daily. I just haven’t gotten used to whipping out the camera for those occasions, and probably never will. However, the Vegan Zucchini Muffins were just as great on day two!

Other things:

-Since I am missing NY a lot these days, I must share this round-up by Kathy from the Lunchbox Bunch blog about her favorite NYC Vegan Spots. Have you ever eaten at any of them? Any favorites?

-After consuming copious amount of oats these last few weeks, I feel a little oat-ed out…thinking a green juice is in order for my first day prepping for the shoot tomorrow. This also may have had something to do with it…I just couldn’t stop browsing her beautiful blog today. Do you ever get tired of oats? What is your (other) favorite breakfast for the warmer months?

-Have you heard about the (never home) maker’s foodie book club? I’ve read a few of them but I love the concept and have yet to read the book last reviewed, A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg, the creator of the Orangette, one of the first blogs I read.

a rebellious weekend.

Posted in FAMILY, FOOD, VEGAN by clairedille on May 22, 2010

For the weekend only, I will be having a little fling with this guy…

This shot of the borrowed Canon Rebel was taken by my lil old fujifilm that has some funky white balance issues (that won’t seem to change). I must admit that photography is something I never really considered growing up and even well into my college days. That is pretty unfortunate because I did go to a college focused on the arts and communication, where I could have really gotten my foot in the door. Other than photography though, I really have a passion for styling. If I could, I would style food, clothes, rooms, etc. at all times. When I was at my aunt’s farm last weekend, my mother kept telling me what would be a lovely picture as she walked through the garden with me. I guess that is what happens when you are raised by a stylist and a creative director, constant art direction. My father, the creative director, let me borrow this from his company for the weekend only, and I am almost feeling as though this is too much of a tease. Not only do I have no clue what I am doing with this baby, but I also have no time today to read the entire manual or play with it like it deserves. This little fling won’t get the proper attention it needs because I have to head out to see the real man in my life after being apart for much too long. Poor rebel, maybe I can play with you tomorrow…

This morning, I already had planned on making Angela’s Spelt Pancakes but tripled the recipe for my sister and father to enjoy with me. In the batter went some organic blueberries and I made a scrambled banana (mash) like yesterday to top them. This time I also added some mashed black raspberries for some pink action.

I feel like such a newbie with the Rebel…after attempting to take a photo of my bite, I ended up with a fuzzy mess. If anyone has any tips for close-ups and which settings I should use, etc. I would really appreciate it!

The pancakes were divine though, and cooked in coconut oil for some nice crispy edges.

Heading out the door right after I publish this, I am taking my sister on a little run. She hasn’t had time for it these last few months so I am going to attempt to slowly build up her endurance and speed with the walking/running method. No one wants injury’s here!

A fun afternoon and night with V is in the works so I won’t be able to post until tomorrow. I will leave you with some shots I promised of my Aunt’s farm in Blauvelt, NY. Remember, she sells at the Nyack Farmer’s Market under the name Blue Field Farm, so stop by if you live nearby.

Valerian Root…helps ya sleep.

Lettuce that she says is no longer good…um, I’ll take some!

Cali poppies, my Cali boy’s favorite flower, and another beauty behind.

Peas, one of my absolute favorite veggies.

I will always be a garlic lover…

The back of the barn…

Bees.

Rhubarb.

Hiding Strawbs…almost time for them at the farmer’s markets!

Baby Bloobs.

Currants, not even close to ripeness.

Other things:

-Do you have a DSLR? I would love some tips since I am hoping to get one in the near future…

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a shift?

Posted in FASHION, FOOD, MAGAZINES, RUNNING, VEGAN by clairedille on May 22, 2010

These last few days have been pretty mentally challenging for me and it so wonderful to read the reassuring comments when life’s stresses seem to be getting in the way. It is always great for me to take a step back and maybe even try to be a little less selfish. After a phone call from a best friend telling me she was coming into town from Denver for the weekend and a visit from my boy who I haven’t been able to see since returning from Philly, my mood elevated immensely. Sometimes you just need a little cheering up and those two things were the best possible for me today.

Ashley has been raving about the (never home) maker’s banana scramble and I just knew that would have to be the topping for this mornings oats.

These were 1/3 cup  Scottish oats (still my absolute favorite) cooked in water and vanilla unsweetened almond milk for at least ten minutes. I truly feel that the longer I cook oats (or the longer oats take to cook?) the better they are. Maybe this is solely because they are more creamy. I cooked 1/4 of a large banana into the oats with half a tablespoon of chia seeds for some extra plumpness. For the banana scramble, I followed Ashley’s version, with a few alterations: 1/4 banana, excluded coconut and half a tablespoon of vanilla almond butter instead of peanut butter. This mash was so sweet that I didn’t need any stevia, agave, or maple to sweeten this morning’s oats, just a few shakes of cinnamon. The rest of our raspberries were poured on top and mashed throughout while eating.

I was really interested to read your thoughts about high fashion magazines. I love the art by the stylists, clothing designers, and photographers created for a magazine spread, but the unhealthy images can sometimes overshadow. Fashion magazines have emphasized the waif since the 60′s and 70′s. Examples are Jean Shrimpton, Twiggy, & Veruschka. Kate Moss even recently said her motto was “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” to Women’s Wear Daily. She even admitted, “That’s one of them. You try to remember, but it never works.” Such an unhealthy motto from a model doesn’t surprise me, but it does make me sad. Another model quoted in the Telegraph shot back with “Millions of girls aspire to be like Kate Moss. These comments are shocking and irresponsible.” I definitely agree. Can you imagine the number of teen girls (and older) who aspire to be like her and read such detrimental words from someone they idealize?

Have you heard about the CFDA Health Initiative that was started in 2007? You must read this amazingly truthful diary of model Kim Noorda’s struggles with an eating disorder that was featured in Vogue this fall. Here is a great review of the article, showcasing the fact that “Every bit of Kim’s journal shows how hard it is to be in an industry, especially as an adolescent, where people criticize your appearance all day every day because all that matters is what you look like.”

In the last year, a few designers and magazines have attempted to portray healthier, more normal sized women. However, at times, I feel it can be drastic. It is often purely sample size vs. plus size with not much in between.

-Vice Magazine’s “One Size Fits All” featured Jacquelyn Jablonski and Crystal Renn, two models of different sizes, in the same garments.

-Mark Fast had three “average sized” women walk down the runway in his body conscious dresses.

-Karl Lagerfeld had “plus size” (in model terms) Crystal Renn walk down his Chanel Resort show runway.

It is hard for me to see a real shift happening but maybe model’s sizes are evolving into something more realistic, at least some of the time.

Now, onto my lunch…

I wasn’t too hungry for a big lunch so decided on a hummus filled wrap with extra veggies. The salad I craved couldn’t come together when I saw that we had eaten all the spinach in two days. With my sister in the house, I wasn’t surprised the spinach was gone and actually pretty happy to find that my she is just as enamored with fresh produce as I am. She mentioned that her last few weeks of school were too stressful to grocery shop, so I am sure she is loving the abundance of goods she finds in the fridge here. In the wrap was a few spoonfuls of spinach, artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, avocado, carrot, and broccoli. The rest of the broccoli I ate on the side with some of the marinade from last night’s stir fry.

During a trip to the library and fabric store, my sister and I split a Strawberry Kombucha. I realized that the Honest Tea varieties are less sour than the GT Synergy brand, but I enjoy both in different ways. A grocery stop was mandatory, but I kept my purchases to a minimum when I realized the store we went to was more expensive for some of my favorites. I grabbed some spinach for dinner, two bunches of kale, dark chocolate, oranges, a new-to-me kombucha flavor, and some vino.

I decided a peanut butter filled banana boat would do the trick for some pre-run fuel.

Yes, that is one UGly picture but I hope to change these shots tomorrow!

Before the run, I decided that I should try to run without any distractions (meaning music) for a change. A thunderstorm seemed to be looming and sometimes I forget to really focus on the run when I am listening to great tunes (some of my favorites on my running playlist are Passion Pit, Empire of the Sun, MGMT, M.I.A., and Phoenix). There were years when I ran without music because previous coaches didn’t approve. Music can aid and hinder runs for me. I definitely can feel a sense of adrenaline when a fast beat comes on and I tend to start running fast. This can lead to over-training by simply just running too fast too soon, which is a problem I’ve had on many occasions. Without music today, I had a chance to really be in the moment and concentrate on my pace. It was great to hear my labored breathing and my feet hit the road, but it was also challenging. I tried to maintain a steady pace and for the distance, I felt it was harder without music. I guess I may have to include more running without music days so I can get used to my own rhythm again. When I got back, I felt such an amazing sense of accomplishment that I might not normally feel with my Ipod strapped on. I grabbed my pups leash and she ran out with me for a short cool down followed by a walk around the neighborhood. The thunder started within the last block and a few raindrops hit my nose as I ran across the driveway.

Dinner was served.

After some light yoga stretching alongside Bessie (my pup always likes to lie right down on the mat), I threw together one of my favorite summer salads. Baby Spinach with carrots, tomatoes, avocado, chickpeas, tempeh bacon, chickpeas, and pepitas was tossed with goddess dressing and apple cider vinegar. Sea Salt might have made its way on there too. In the warmer months, I eat this combination often for lunch. Other staples I tend to include are beets and cucumber.

Of course chocolate was involved.

Although it was pretty humid out, I felt like a nice bath tonight. I don’t treat myself to them that often but every few months it is just what my muscles need.

Other things:

- How do you feel about the CFDA health initiative? Do you think there may be a shift to include more healthy models in the future, if not yet? Were you surprised to see that Vogue featured an article about a model‘s struggles to maintain her unhealthy body weight? I find it reassuring to actually see that designers and magazine editors are more and more aware (and admitting it) of the unhealthy effects of the industry. Instead of hiding these instances, it is great that they are bringing them up and maybe even changing some things. I don’t know how much WILL actually change but even just including Kim Noorda’s diary regarding her eating issues because of the fashion world in Vogue’s pages is a big step.

-Have you read Gena’s guest posts (part 1 and part 2) on the Eat the Damn Cake blog? I loved to finally read her personal story and her choice to opt out. I hope you read both these posts. Gena has a way with words that I adore.

- Do you run with or without music? or a mix of both? Do you feel music improves or hinders your running?

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

local mags.

Posted in FAMILY, FASHION, FOOD, MAGAZINES, TRAVEL, VEGAN by clairedille on May 21, 2010

Sometimes a day doesn’t need much reflection. I have tried to make the best of my current situation but it is such a hard boundary to distinguish between focusing too much on the future vs. too much on the day-to-day goings on. I had a few distractions to keep me occupied but the constant desire to know my future, even just the next few months, wasn’t letting up. The morning was spent gazing at my computer screen at pages and pages of productions being filmed around the country. I wish I was at the point in my career where I could simply take off to a new destination when someone needed me to fill a position. Hopefully this will someday be my future. For now, I am relying on the benefit of the doubt and the words spoken by those I trust.

My sister and spent the morning sitting computer screen to computer screen. She is already incredibly interested and eager to find her next path. Within a week of graduation she is looking for the who, what, where (and wear?) answers of her future.

Scrolling through pages of PDF’s is not ideal and I thought eating outside with my computer in tow would be a great attempt for a somewhat cheerful morning. It was already becoming quite warm out and sitting in the shade was the perfect chance for me to savor my oats while browsing future prospects. The steel-cut variety of oats was cooked with unsweetened almond milk, vanilla, cinnamon, chia seeds, flax seeds, and half a banana. The organic raspberries were a special treat mixed with more banana and vanilla almond butter. This was definitely a winning combo that made my morning much better than imagined.

Don’t you love how oats keep you satisfied for so long? To this day, I am still impressed by their lingering staying power.

When a break was needed, my sister and I cracked open a new Honest Tea Kombucha to try. The Apple Jasmine flavor was just as delicious as the Lemon Ginger, but much more subtle. We enjoyed it while brainstorming dinner plans with tofu and veggies in mind.

Lunch was an easy choice after much success with the Veganomicon Chickpea Cutlets the day before. One was broken up and stuffed into a sprouted wrap filled with spinach, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, and goddess dressing. This was truly delicious, although maybe not so aesthetically appealing. I was hoping it could be eaten like a quesadilla but the lack of panini maker made a messy lunch with most of the filling spilled all over the plate. An orange was split as well.

Another attempt to distract myself from my immediate future happened in the afternoon when I finally opened an issue of Grid Magazine that I picked up in Reading Terminal in Philly. I had no idea what I was getting myself into because The Food Issue was AH-mazing. The whole slow-local-sustainable food movement in Philadelphia is one of the best I have read about so far. This magazine had my full attention for much too long and I learned so much about a city I have only visited a few times. As a magazine writing major in college, I still feel that nothing penetrates me like a well designed and well written piece of material. Don’t get me wrong, I love the online media world so much. This is obviously why I blog. However, there is no feeling like holding a piece of art in your hand. A piece of fiction or well researched nonfiction to be completely engulfed by, separating you from  your surroundings, is what makes me most happy. These days I stray from my past fashion focused issues in favor of the foodie ones. Feeding my belly seems to be more important that feeding my inner stylista at this moment. This may change, so I can’t make any promises. I will forever be molded by the fashion magazines I read growing up. I will never forget the day my mother first told me I must part with my stack of Vogue’s. But that is another topic for later discussion…

As I was saying, Grid was the perfect magazine for me to pick up randomly. With the help of the organization, Fair Food, they compiled lists of farmer’s market’s, restaurant’s, CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), and institutions that support the local and sustainable food system. Reading about the city’s new composting company whom helps restaurants and institutions not supported by the city’s waste management encouraged me to start composting myself. An article on canning had me compelled to make my own jam with fresh berries this summer for the following fall and winter months. One man’s bread making path had me feeling as though I must break into the hobby and put my fear of yeast behind me. An Urban Farmer had some great words to say about the importance of inner city agriculture:

We can create thousands of jobs with this new kind of farming, with urban agriculture. Just think of all the categories of jobs: you’ve got installers, carpenters, plumbers, truck drivers, accountants, electricians, aquaculturists, planners, architects. In a rural area, you don’t need these jobs. Industrial agriculture gets rid of jobs; the machines do everything.

This is hand work, it’s communal work, which is important and fun for all of us, all the generations, from little kids to school-age kids to teenagers to college kids. Everybody is involved. Now politicos are involved, corporate companies send their associates to volunteer and corporate companies have foundations to supply some of the money. We also need reporters and publicity people, because one of things that we haven’t been able to do is be proactive and get the word out. All of these wonderful projects are hidden away. We need the public.

It is up to us to shape the importance of local and sustainable food. Even at the age of 24, I am sometimes worried about the future of our country and the world from the overabundance of factory farming, and what this mean’s for our children and their children. We need programs like this that educate the younger and younger about self-sustaining and attempting to make resources available to low-income families.

I made my way through the issue with some help of Green & Black’s 70% Dark Chocolate for a wonderful afternoon snack. In the compilation created by Fair Food, I found some great places I can’t wait to visit next time I head to Philly. I also found out that FARMiCiA and Fork, two out of the four restaurants we ate at while in Philly, help support small local farmers and sustainability. Another place I have yet to mention is Mugshots. This fair trade coffee shop and cafe was right around the corner from my sister’s apartment and I wish I had more time to enjoy it instead of packing. They have delicious coffee and tons of vegan treats, (get the cowboy/girl cookie, it is the biggest vegan cookie I’ve ever seen filled with oats, nuts, dried fruit, and dark chocolate) as well as a Vegan BLT and chili, if you are in the mood for comfort food. The local buying club is also a great way to purchase local, sustainable food from them without having to go through the farmers. You can pick your own order instead of a large CSA type share or trip to the farmer’s market.

I definitely suggest picking up Grid if you are in the Philadelphia area, or just checking out the articles online if you are interested in Philly and eco tips.

For dinner, I went with a simple vegetable stir fry using chili garlic sauce, tamari, ginger, and lemon. For the tofu, I loosely followed this recipe from Vegetarian Times, opting to bake it for 30 minutes at 350 degrees before adding to mushrooms, carrots, and bok choy in the wok.

Although the veggies were more than beautiful when chopping, I wish I went the raw route as the original recipe states. In the past I have made this recipe with much success as a bento bowl layered with an array of fresh produce and brown rice, but tonight I felt like stir frying all ingredients to spread the sauce evenly. This may not have turned out as well as hoped, but the flavor was still as bold as before. The bok choy was simply overcooked, but the tofu, brown rice, other vegetables, and seasoning were spot on.

Dessert was coconut milk yogurt topped with a new-to-me cereal Kashi Cinnamon Harvest (had a Whole Foods coupon for Kashi cereal and this had the least amount of ingredients-it was good, but not as good as Puffins), Puffins, raspberries, and a small spoonful of chocolate hazelnut spread. I ate this while reading about sprouting in an old Vegetarian Times. I think I am going to start some mung bean sprouts tomorrow, I love the crunch in salads.

Other things:

-Did you grow up influenced by the fashion world? If so, what is your favorite high fashion mag? If not, why do you choose not to read them? Disinterest? Annoyance of the price of clothing included or too much emphasis on current trends?

I first interned at Harper’s Bazaar in college and loved it immensely. One of my best friends is someone I met there and I was shaped to understand the in’s and out’s of the magazine publishing world. I will never forget the amount of freedom and hands on experience I was given that summer. My editor let me attend press previews solo with a camera in hand and was given freebies on many occasions. However, as I am sure you know, the fashion world can be a catty one and that has to be my least favorite aspect. There are some definite genuine people, but many who take the fashion world much too seriously. Ironically, most of the designers I’ve met have been more humble than the fashion magazine editors. That phase of my life has been put aside for now, but I will never shut it out. I love the art and history of fashion too much to never return.

-Do you have a local magazine that you grab often? Does your community have a strong slow-food movement?

After living in California, Boston, and New York, I sometimes struggle to find more places and resources that emphasis the importance of local small farms and sustainable practices. In New York, there were many restaurants that place emphasis on using organic ingredients as much as possible, but in the area I am in now, it seems as though organic is only available from grocery stores and one or two restaurants. I have yet to find a local magazine I enjoy.

splitting it.

Posted in FAMILY, FOOD, VEGAN by clairedille on May 20, 2010

Today has been one of those rough days where all you want to do is eat freshly baked chocolate chip cookies with a warm comforting beverage or a cold glass of milk. I woke up with many items on my to-do list nagging me while I prepared oats for three. I knew that I messed up the measurements of the rolled oats and Scottish oatmeal mixture, but didn’t attempt to rectify it. Instead, I added more water, hoping to plump up the oats while they cooked. We were low on almond milk (not anymore) and left with frozen bananas and berries. Instead of adding chia seeds or flax while cooking, I simply stirred in some flaxseed afterwards. This was quite the pitiful attempt to make some good oats that I’ve been craving the last few days, but the two others sharing the batch seemed content with their somewhat small bowls full of oats with black raspberries, dried cherries, and vanilla almond butter. Maybe tomorrow I can do better.

I won’t divulge too much information regarding my crazy work life, but let me tell you, I hope that all this time of stress leads to a point in my life where I will have more freedom in my career. I feel confident in my capabilities, but there are a lot of obstacles that the industry creates. In order for me to progress, it gets kind of tricky. Things will probably change in a big way in the next few months. Those who have taught me the in’s and out’s of costuming seem to want to help me break down the walls that are around me right now, and that makes me feel great. At the same time, this is a waiting period that doesn’t sit too well within me. I always am one who strives when given tasks and when another has confidence in me. When I don’t feel that I am doing anything significant, I can feel bad for myself. Blogging is a great way to relieve some stress, but sometimes you just need a big chocolate chip cookie. This one was split with my younger sister. Isn’t it great having a friend or family member to split a GIANT treat with?

Oops…we ate before I could snap a shot. Eating this cookie with warm cups of tea (yes, it was 70 degrees out) was the perfect treat for me to enjoy sitting with my sister after a phone call filled morning of work. No, it wasn’t gluten free or healthy in any way.

For lunch, my sister and I made delicious wraps filled with a Sunshine Falafel Pattie, hummus, avocado, and romaine that we scrounged up before grocery shopping. I was surprised that she kept commenting about how tasty they were. Previously, I found them to be a little too dry for my liking. I guess there is nothing a good amount of hummus and avocado can’t help.

I remembered this evening that I had challenged myself to cook from my own cookbooks this month, instead of searching online for meal ideas. After browsing Veganomicon, I found the famous Chickpea Cutlets that I’ve seen numerous places around the blog world with rave reviews (recipe here). Every ingredient was already in our pantry so I set about making these with some newly found enthusiasm for the day.

For the side dishes, I sautéed a whole bunch of kale with tamari and rice vinegar, and baked sweet potato fries.

Instead of the mustard sauce in the book, I mixed some vegenaise and organic ketchup to make a russian dressing that I knew my mother would approve of. She has always loved russian dressing, especially with roast beef. Ironically, she hates ketchup. We all were fans of the chickpea cutlets. I felt they weren’t too meaty for me, which is usually the case with seitan and many other “meat alternatives.” I still have some Gardein products in my freezer that I am a little freaked to try…can someone convince me?

For dessert, I ate a slice of spelt toast spread with a chocolate hazelnut spread, similar to Nutella. I found it on Elana’s Pantry and although it was pretty yummy, it was no nutella.

Tomorrow, I am going to run. I have been craving it all night and I know a nice long run will be just what I need to release a little pent-up stress.

Other things:

-Are you going to the Healthy Living Summit? I finished dinner and looked at the clock at 8:58, and at that moment I decided to just buy a ticket spur of the moment since I knew tickets went on sale at 9 pm. I am unsure what August will be like for me schedule-wise but healthy living discussions and meeting so many like-minded individuals is incredibly exciting. I just couldn’t pass it up!

-Notice the extreme white in my photos that seems to be glowing? Know of any way to fix this? I am borrowing one of my father’s digital camera’s and have it on the food setting. I have also used the close up setting and both seem to have this effect. I have to work with this camera until I am ready to purchase a nicer one that I feel confident learning to use and would love to improve the quality of images.

-Are you a nutella fan? I grew up eating nutella and spent a summer when 16 in Italy eating it daily. When I was in the Netherlands for a semester in college, it was my only source of fat and protein when the rest of the students were eating ham and cheese paninis. I didn’t seem to mind, nutella was all I wanted.

home at last.

Posted in ANIMALS, FAMILY, FOOD, TRAVEL, VEGAN by clairedille on May 19, 2010

I am finally home.

The story of what caused a delay is almost laughable. It was raining and my little bladder was not happy. We were turning onto route 80 after leaving my aunt and uncles in Summit, NJ to head back to Michigan with a goal of a 9.5 hour trip. Looking ahead, we saw a “wide load” marked vehicle carrying what looked to be a small house (those prefab homes) that was having some difficulty getting onto the ramp switching highways. Instead of pulling off, we continued to follow the cars behind him until we were put to a complete stop. Ten minutes later, after attempting many times to reverse and continue turning, the vehicle just could not make it around the curve. By now, we were already two-thirds around the ramp packed with stopped cars and things were not looking good. People were getting out of their cars and running ahead to see what the fuss was about. It was still early and I am sure there were many people heading into work. Drivers of the emergency vehicles with “wide load” signs got out and also attempted to maneuver the “house.” Cars were honking and construction workers flocked the scene, whipping out their camera phones to snap a shot of the “hilarious” incident. Our car was not full of laughs, especially after already being delayed for over an hour. A police officer who appeared to be twelve came over to our car and told us we would all be backing up onto the original highway and rerouted. We were lucky enough to be in front of the largest truck (well, second after the “wide load”) on the ramp so the backing up took much longer than all the previous cars. That is pretty much the whole story. I arrived home not only an hour late, but also tired and hungry.

To lighten the mood a little, I will tell you about one last restaurant we visited after my sister’s graduation on Sunday.

If you have been to Philly, I am sure you are well aware of Rittenhouse Square. Parc was set on one of the streets surrounding the square and we could tell it was quite the hot spot when it was in plain sight. This is a view of the smaller side of the building, so you can imagine the packed sidewalk on the larger street. It reminded me of the brasseries and cafés spread throughout Paris. The decor reminded me of Pastis, the french bistro-style restaurant I have often snacked on frites in the Meatpacking district of New York. After sitting down in a crowded room full of many other grads and their family’s, my eyes wandered the room before the menu and I saw a beautiful golden beet salad and many tables with bowls of frites. I remember the first place I had quality frites (or fries) when my father took me to Balthazar in Soho, and am always looking for comparable fries. The usual suspects at French restaurants were all on the lunch menu: country paté, oysters, moules frites, escargots, omelettes, quiche lorraine, haricots verts, and niçoise salad. I ordered the beet salad on arugula with a citrus vinaigrette (sans roquefort) and had some of the in-house baked bread and many frites. Everything was delicious and we finished up our shares of frites before I could snap a photo.

I was so happy to see the plate adorned with a few raspberries and radishes. Our meals at Parc were better than I expected and then we were off to spend the next day and a half with my mother’s two sisters before returning to the midwest.

I must mention that Sunday morning I ate what might have been the worst oatmeal ever at our hotel breakfast. The watery oats were eaten as quick as possible for some pre-graduation fuel, but I have realized by now that it is hard to even get close to home cooked oats when out. My mother commented that she doesn’t feel that it makes sense to order oats when out because they probably won’t be that good. However, sometimes I just want to go with what I am in the mood for and know that oats are usually the best for me to keep satisfied all morning with the help of some nuts or nut butter, banana, and maybe some fresh berries if lucky. The oats I had at FARMiCiA were great but maybe I should have tried the Vegan Scramble or something more adventurous that I could recreate in my home setting. I am one who usually goes for sweet over savory in the morning and a vegan tofu scramble is better suited for my lunches or dinners. Although people may feel it is silly to eat oats when out, I feel many other foodie bloggers might be able to relate to the simple oat craving to start your morning off right.

Yesterday, I made thick rolled oats cooked in water (can’t wait for almond milk tomorrow), topped with Vermont maple syrup given to her by a friend, bananas, peanut butter, and strawberries.

We then visited my mom’s sister Joy’s small farm in Blauvelt, NY for lunch, and to see her chickens and goats. She also grows some fresh produce, herbs, and wild flowers that she sells at the Nyack Farmer’s Market under the name “Blue Field Farm” (meaning of the Dutch word Blauvelt). Here are a few photos of her wonderful animals.

A funny fact about me: although I am a total animal lover, I can sometimes be afraid of them. I grew up incredibly afraid of dogs until we got our first one for the family. I was too afraid to ride horses when my friends started doing so, and I still tend to be a little wary when entering into enclosed areas with animals I am not completely comfortable with. I hope this will one day change. Maybe I will have to visit the Farm Sanctuary in Woodstock, NY or another similar one.

When it was time for lunch, I went with what I could find in my aunt’s kitchen. She had sprouted bread that I spread with hummus, local cucumbers, sun-dried tomatoes, and a little pickled mushrooms (wasn’t a fan). We also shared a bowl of grapes that were delicious. It has been too long since I have had them!

On the drive to my other aunt’s for our last night on the east coast, we stopped at a Whole Foods she had yet to visit to pick up ingredients for dinner and the drive my mother, sister, and I did today. After spending much too long observing the hot bar and salad bar, I picked up a veggie burger for dinner last night and a huge container full of goodies I ate throughout the drive today. The veggie burger was rather greasy and looked like it included quinoa. It was one of those greasy lips burgers that left me with a stomach ache for the rest of the night. We also had roasted rosemary potatoes and an arugula salad with tomatoes and artichoke. I also bought a small bag of spelt ginger snaps that were placed above the hot bar. I was excited to see them after Amanda bought some and remembered the feeling of eating them as a child. My grandmother used to always have these in her NYC apartment and it has been years since I’ve eaten any. These were a great change of pace for me, considering that I tend to go the chocolate way when it comes to desserts. I didn’t see these as a dessert though and ate them while sipping on a new brand (to me) of Kombucha, Honest Tea in Lemon Ginger. It was a great ginger-filled snack.

Today, I fueled for our drive with a bowl of water-banana cooked thick rolled oats topped with more banana, dried cranberries, Vermont maple syrup, and chopped walnuts. It was just what my body wanted before a rainy drive. After telling myself that eating one of my aunt’s humanely raised eggs would be fine, I still simply craved oats. I have no regrets with that decision and after not having eggs in so long, I just didn’t care to have one (or any).

When raving about the perfect size and lightness of this little ceramic bowl, my aunt said my mother had made it in college. This led to us packing the bowl for our trip home, because apparently, no one would appreciate more than myself. Maybe this is true. I do have a fondness for little bowls, spoons, toiletries, and much more…

During the chaos explained on the ramp, I ate this tropical fruit tart Lara. Although it is not my favorite of the Larabar flavors, it was much appreciated at the time. The VegNews beneath helped ease the pain as well.

The Whole Foods we visited yesterday didn’t have some of my typical choices. The massaged kale salad was nowhere to be seen so the base of the container was baby spinach that was then topped with carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, quinoa salad with dried fruit and nuts, and two rather dry falafels. I added two spoonfuls of hummus to the container this morning that aided coating the whole mixture. In the afternoon I ate an apple and arrived home to a produce-less fridge. This resulted in me eating some reheated split pea soup and a multigrain bagel. I also found two last pieces of Chocolate Mousse Pie that my mother had frozen for my sister’s arrival from college. We heated them up in the microwave and discovered it was just as tasty warm as chilled or room temp.

I can’t wait to start posting with the aid of a borrowed camera tomorrow. Today I had some stomach issues that I hope to resolve by cutting out wheat. Maybe the gluten-free challenge was more beneficial than I realized. The weekend was also filled with many nights of tossing and turning and a few stomach aches. I hate to bring up these things around family but I just didn’t feel too well by the end of the weekend.

Tomorrow I have many important things to take care of but will be posting eats and more photos of my aunt’s farm. I am still trying to catch up on too many blogs but hope to very soon.

Other things:

-Have you been stuck in a crazy amount of traffic recently? How do you react? I honestly am not the most patient person. I think it comes from being a runner, because most of the time I just want to get out and run…ha.

-What are your favorite Larabar flavors? Mine are Apple Pie, Coconut Cream Pie, and Peanut Butter Cookie. I also really enjoy Key Lime Pie and Cashew Cookie. I am sure there are a few I have yet to try, and would love to hear your opinions.

-Are you afraid of any animals? I wrote above about my slight fear of being in an enclosed area with certain farm animals. I really need to change this, because I know that they wouldn’t do me any harm.

philly’s quite delicious

Posted in FAMILY, FOOD, SHOPPING, TRAVEL, VEGAN by clairedille on May 18, 2010

I must say that I ate pretty well while in Philadelphia over the weekend.

The first night, after a ten hour drive, we went to a restaurant near our hotel called Fork. From the rainy cobbled sidewalk, I saw the restaurant and commented on the curbside appeal before venturing inside. The decor was simple and chic, yet rustic with an open view of the chef’s preparing the dishes. I wasn’t quite in the mood for such a haute dining experience but I was surprised to find some things that were easy and comforting. The waiter suggested the special soup which was a purée of English Peas. It was scrumptious paired with a fresh multigrain dinner roll. On the side I also ordered the sautéed Broccoli Rabe. This was too bitter and after both my parents tasted it, they could sense that the garlic was burned, and sent it back. This is something I am not fond of doing in restaurants, especially ones with well-respected chef’s with probably much more intellectual palettes than myself. The Broccoli Rabe returned to the table with less overcooked garlic, but was still too bitter to enjoy fully. I continued to make my way through the soup and roll (and wine to celebrate) with a few forkfuls of the side fitting its way in there at times. I wish there were photos to share but this was after a 10 hour drive, I was simply too tired to photograph and over excited to see my younger sister for the first time since the holidays.

The next morning we went out in search of flowers and stumbled upon a restaurant I knew I would enjoy fully. FARMiCiA was just what I was in the mood for with a bright sunny atmosphere and an emphasis on food crafted from local, organic, and artisanal producers.

Although the menu was extensive, I was craving oats (not on the online menu for some reason….) since it was still pretty early and I knew I had a full day and night ahead of me and I wanted to start off on a good start. The bowl came with a side of berries and I asked for a side of peanut butter in addition for some healthy fats. Most mainstream restaurants don’t offer soy/almond/hemp milk so I made sure to tell them to cook the oats in water instead of dairy milk.

This bowl of oats was then doused with peanut butter and filled me up for hours until we finally met up with my younger sister for lunch. We ventured over to Reading Terminal and I was so impressed by the huge array of stands with local produce, baked goods, juices, and ethnic cuisines.

I picked up a few of the local magazines to read up about local eats and going ons in the Philadelphia area. Jillian told me about Basic 4, a vegetarian cafe that I couldn’t wait to see and maybe grab something for a later time. Unfortunately, it is closed on Saturday’s but after reading the menu, I could tell that it was just the place for me. If I had more time in the city I know I would have gone back for any of the vegan eats.

Walking around Philadelphia, I fell in love with a few stores. One is Vagabond, a clothing store my sister loves. It has a great compilation of vintage, local designers, and some of my favorite contemporary designers. I freelanced for a high-end showroom a few times post college graduation and found a few of those organic designers in Vagabond (blog). Humanoid, a dutch company (sold here) and Organic by John Patrick are two clothing companies I am so attracted to and knew after seeing the pieces in the store that it appealed to my style. They also carried some lower priced lines like Jeffrey Campbell and local hand-knitted slouchy sweaters that I would crave in the winter months. I went out empty-handed but that store would be very dangerous if I ever live in Philadelphia.

Amada was the restaurant my father chose for a late lunch. Since my parents just came back from Spain, tapas was just what they were up for. My sister and I also love tapas but for me it can be hard as a veggie. Spanish menus tend to be pretty meat and cheese heavy and this was no exception. I can’t complain though, because the Ensalada Verde was a great tower of a salad with greens, avocado, asparagus, favas, and green beans. The avocado coated the lettuce and it was well dressed with a lime vinaigrette.

I also munched on some olives, Habas a las Catalana (warm fava & lima bean salad), and Patatas Bravas (spicy potatoes sans cheese topping) that were delicious.

The rest of the plates ordered by the rest of my family were just as beautiful and supposedly very tasty. Here is one dish my mother, father, and sister raved about, the Albóndigas (lamb meatballs & shaved manchego).

We all decided to finish off our meals with coffee or espresso because the Fashion Show wasn’t until 8 p.m.

As I wrote about earlier, my dinner consisted of a vegan banana chocolate chip cupcake. Saturday was quite a culinary filled day in Philadelphia and I was so happy to find another city in the U.S. with so much that I adore.

Other things:

-I am overwhelmingly behind in blog reading after missing a few days. I promise to start reading and commenting more soon.

-We went to my aunt’s house today where she has some chickens. It has been quite a while since I have eaten an egg but after seeing her wonderful chickens and their amazing lives, I am tempted. If I eat one in the morning before our long drive back to the midwest, I decided that I will not be upset with myself knowing that these chickens are ALWAYS cage free and roaming around her property. It is a hard thing for me because not only does my family (mostly my father) feel I should eat them, but I also know that after a weekend with limited protein sources, I am really needing some.

-How do you feel about this? Are you a vegan or not into eating chickens who aren’t free range? I am weird about labels but when at a restaurant, telling them I am vegan just makes it easier since I do eat an entirely plant-based diet. I don’t buy eggs at grocery stores and can’t remember the last time I had one, but I did once love them and always want to eat what I want without feeling restricted. Aren’t they beauties?

quick & sweet

Posted in FOOD, TRAVEL, VEGAN by clairedille on May 17, 2010

Yesterday was my younger sister’s graduation. I wish I could share with you the photos from her amazing fashion show from the night before, but there is no way I feel comfortable posting them on the internet (in fear someone would mimic the designs). I will tell you though, she is such a great fashion designer. Everything from her sketches to the construction of each garment she sews makes me so proud to be her older sister. If I hadn’t known which clothes were hers coming down the runway, I still would have chosen her pieces as my favorites. Maybe it is because we have similar aesthetics, but in all honesty, I know that I would desire to own all her clothing if it was sold at Barney’s or any other high-end clothing store that I dearly love. I can go on and on about my little sister, but instead I will tell you about some goodies I picked up at Sweet Freedom in Philadelphia. It was such a lovely but quick trip. This city reminds me a lot of the city I spent my college years, Boston. The history and charm of Old City makes me crave to return to a similar city in the next few years. Leaving New York for work in the midwest has been great, but I could tell within the first day of being in Philly that it has been far too long since I’ve let my creativity flourish as it does in the city environment.

On Saturday I made sure to stop at Sweet Freedom during the only time I had free. I had searched for vegan bakeries before coming here and read many reviews saying that Sweet Freedom was the place to go.

The storefront wasn’t quite as charming as I had hoped, but because we were in such a hurry, I couldn’t quite grasp the potential of the building. It was all about the goodies and after following the bakery on Twitter, I was already excited to hear they had Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes on Saturday’s. This place is more allergy-friendly than you can imagine, because not only is every baked good vegan, they are also all gluten-free and avoid corn, wheat, peanuts, and soy. Just because a bakery is vegan or gluten-free does not mean that it is necessarily healthier than a usual bakery, however, Sweet Freedom uses Coconut Sugar, Agave Nectar and Pure Maple Syrup instead of refined/processed sugars. Another thing I loved was that the bakery used Coconut Oil for its healthy fat.

It was definitely hard to not buy one of everything. I ended up picking up a special of the day – Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcake with chocolate frosting, an oatmeal raisin cookie sandwich, and a magic bar. The ingredients can be found here so I will tell you about the tastes.

First up was the Magic Bar. This is one of those goodies that I have always had a fondness for. Any type of layer bar with chocolate and coconut is one I am up for trying at all times. When I was younger (and still), my aunt had a Christmas Cookie Exchange with other women in her neighborhood, and the layer bars were my favorite cookie variety to eat up around the holiday. This one didn’t have the usual graham cracker bottom, but it sure tasted similar. It was crumbly and sweet using brown rice flour. I didn’t mind any grittiness that may have been found because of the delectable chocolate and coconut topping. The ingredients in this bar were very minimal and the taste did not disappoint.

After the fashion show, I was incredibly hungry after not eating since lunchtime. I was back at the hotel by myself when I decided to try the Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcake. Of course I would have preferred eating a real dinner but it was too late for that and room service charges are out of this world. I figured that I had already consumed my fair share of veggies that day and went for this baby.

This is something I definitely suggest sharing with another. It may seem crazy but I have never been much of a frosting person and was a little overwhelmed with sweetness. I was happy to find that the frosting wasn’t too thick and the cupcake base wasn’t nearly as sweet. Due to extreme hunger, I wasn’t able to really focus on this cupcake as much as the others but the chocolate chips were a great treat. It differed from your usual fluffy cupcake base and was a firmer muffin-like base flecked with delectable chocolate made it so enjoyable.

Last was the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Sandwich which was stuffed with a sweet frosting. I didn’t get a chance to find out how the pink was colored but I am hoping it was an all natural food dye. Still, I am not sure why I didn’t choose the Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich or a plain cookie. Maybe I was trying to rebel against my usual choice and choose an array of goodies, but oatmeal raisin cookies are never as good to me as your typical chocolate chip variety. The sandwich crumbled as I cut it in half but the cookie itself was a great one. I know that chocolate chip would be great to try next time I make my way to Philadelphia because the oatmeal raisin cookie filled with plump raisins and a nice layer of frosting was very tasty. Other things I should have purchased but didn’t want to risk staleness were muffins, loaves, and brownies. The Blueberry Oat Crumble bars and Carrot Cake Cupcakes both sounded delicious as well.

If you are ever in Philly (or live there) and are looking for a bakery, I would definitely suggest stopping by Sweet Freedom or even ordering some things for a birthday or special occasion.

Now, I am heading to another aunt’s with my mother and here is a preview of what I  may be posting about after visiting…

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend!

Other things:

Do you have a favorite vegan or gluten-free bakery in your town or city? I also love Babycakes Bakery in NYC but it has been way too long since I have been.

Have you been to Philly and eaten a delicious meal? Where? I was surprised to find that the city is such a culinary haven. I ate at three restaurants I really enjoyed and will be posting about in the next few days when I get home.

a great response (and runner’s body fat percentages)

Posted in FITNESS, FOOD, RUNNING, VEGAN by clairedille on May 13, 2010

I really can’t start this post without saying a big thank you to everyone for understanding or trying to see where I was coming from when I wrote “tired of defending my choices.” Before posting, I was worried others would feel it was just a good whining session, but so many of you knew exactly where I was coming from and instead of fearing comments, I was full of joy reading each one over the last day.

Here are a few words/conclusions about the topic of having to defend or explain our food choices:

  • Many of you have also had instances where you were criticized or even poked fun because of the way you choose to eat.
  • When met with questions of curiosity concerning the way we eat, we are more than willing to answer and explain ourselves.
  • If we feel criticized or attacked by our food choices, it is best to try to keep our responses simple and maybe, try to shrug or laugh it off if you can.
  • Don’t feel like you have to explain yourself when others refuse to believe you are getting adequate protein, fat, and other nutrients. Many times, people are not aware that you make sure to take care of yourself and try your best to make your diet well-rounded, whether you are a vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian, etc.
  • Most importantly, as long as we feel personally satisfied and proud of the way we eat, there is no reason to be embarrassed by not eating what most would consider the “norm.” No one else needs to play a role in our personal food decisions.

As I mentioned before, I will be heading to Philadelphia this weekend for my younger sister’s fashion show and graduation. I knew I probably would be unable to post but when my camera starting acting up yesterday, I realized it might be close to impossible this weekend. I think it is time to think about purchasing myself a “real camera.”

Here are some of the delicious eats from yesterday:

I have tried Angela’s Vegan Overnight Oats before in Banana Split form, but I wanted to try them again after seeing them on Ashley’s blog with coconut milk kefir. Instead of the kefir, I used my So Delicious coconut milk yogurt that I purchased with a coupon. I love this stuff! The combination I used was:

  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk plain yogurt (you could use other flavors, but I find them all too sweet for my taste buds)
  • 2/3 cup almond milk
  • T ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t vanilla
  • packet stevia (this was too sweet for me…I should have opted to forgo the sweetener)

Instead of whipping up some of Gena’s Banana Soft Serve, I decided for something a little warmer after seeing that it was another dreary day. On the stove top, I heated up half a thinly sliced banana with frozen black raspberries in a saucepan with a little maple syrup coconut oil, and almond milk. These compote toppings inspired by this one has seriously made me craving oats everyday. I love a nice berry and banana topper but when spring is nowhere to be seen, simmered fruit compotes are just what I desire. I layered the overnight oats and compote and then added a spoonful of Naturally Nutty vanilla almond butter to sweeten the deal. This was another satisfying and delicious way to start the day.

After trying to eat my breakfast outdoors, I quickly resorted to the warmth of my own kitchen to read up about healthy body fat percentages for women and runners.

A few things I learned about body fat percentages and runners:

-My body fat is on the low-end of the average athletes percentage

-All women need 10-12% essential body fat

-Female athletes tend to have 14-20% body fat

-Fit women should have 21-24% body fat

-Acceptable female body fat is 25-31%, anything over is considered obese

-Often, runners who cover the greatest distance in training have lower body fat levels. They also eat tend to eat more food than those who do less running.

-The low body fat content of female distance runners is particularly striking; values of less than 10-15% are commonly reported among elite performers, but are seldom seen in healthy women outside sport.

-Reducing fat levels will not automatically guarantee success and may even be counter-productive.

-A reduction in body fat may well boost running performance, but if you cut down your food intake drastically, not only will training quality suffer, but the risk of illness and injury also increases dramatically.

-Generally speaking, sprinters have powerfully developed musculature of the upper body and of the legs, while distance runners have low body mass, with smaller muscles and extremely low body fat levels.

-It is probably not sensible for women’s body fat to fall below about 10-15%.

-For female athletes, there are some very immediate consequences of a low body fat level, including especially a fall in circulating oestrogen levels. This in turn can lead to a loss of bone mass, causing problems for women in later life through an increased risk of bone fracture.

(source)

I am nowhere near an elite runner, therefore, it was very interesting to find that my body fat fits within this range. It has been a long time since I have competed in races, but I will be upping my mileage in hopes of finishing my first marathon in the fall. At the same time, I will be working with a trainer at my gym occasionally so that I can monitor my body fat in order stay healthy. More resistance training will also be added to my current weekly plan. It has always been hard for me to maintain strength workouts alone, therefore, I feel it may be best at this time to seek some assistance from a trainer (being pushed always helps me). I haven’t discussed my injuries over the years, but I was over-trained at a much too young age and left with many shin splints turned into stress fractures. I once ran on a broken foot without being aware it was broken for over a month. These next six months will be all about listening to my body as much as possible and striving for a distance goal over a time goal. Of course I will aim to train with times in mind, but I definitely think it is important for me to remember that I have never ran close to as far as a marathon distance, and this needs to show in my times, as well. It is hard as a former consistent 5K runner to learn to slow down. I wish I could find more people to run with but haven’t had luck in my area. This is just one reason I miss living in Boston and New York so much.

I hope that you found the body fat percentage information among runners just as interesting as I did. I am sure many other runners also seem to have lower than average body fat percentages that we should not necessarily worry about, but be aware of. I don’t talk about this often, but when I first went to college I had many symptoms of the female athlete triad develop from not properly fueling myself. If you are interested in reading about the Female Athlete Triad, here are some links:

A Healthy Body Fat Percentage for Runners

Female Athlete Triad Coalition

American Family Physician: The Female Athlete Triad

WebMD: The Female Athlete Triad

Now back to the eats…

After a quick shop at Whole Foods for traveling goodies, I picked up another packet of the Brown Rice Tortillas when I saw they were on sale. When it was time for lunch, I spread one with hummus, homemade pesto, bbq tempeh, and sun-dried tomatoes and warmed it up a few minutes in the oven. On the side, I sautéed the remainder of the swiss chard with tamari, lemon, and ginger.

This is around the time that I realized things were not looking so great with my little fujifilm camera and started obsessively roaming amazon and ebay for a nice  new DSLR. Maybe my wishes will come true in the next month. Canon or Nikon? Any suggestions? I want something with better photo quality, but it also needs to be easy to use considering I’ve never studied photography.

Here are some things I am packing for my road trip/long weekend in Philadelphia. I know it is a very veg-friendly city, but I was not in charge of choosing the restaurants and have already realized some may not be easy for me to be well-fed.

These photos are upsetting me but I thought you might like to see what I bought. The Whole Foods Coupons may have influenced me in some of the purchases (clif c bars & dagoba chocolate).

  • Figs & Mulberries – dried fruit is one of my favorite oatmeal toppings
  • Apples – road trip. enough said.
  • Tea – always great for a pick me up when in a hotel room before going out or to relax after a long day
  • Almond butter – another favorite oatmeal topping or in case I need some healthy fats to go with fruit. Justin’s packs really make me smile when I can’t fit in a jar for the weekend. I need to try the chocolate hazelnut butter soon.
  • Vega & Hempshake – these are two of my favorite vegan protein powder sources. I am sure there will be a time when I feel protein deprived over the weekend. I have had times in the past where the only vegan option was a white bagel. These are always good to have on hand.
  • Go Raw Spirulina Energy Bar – I’ve only had this flavor once before, but I loved the crunchy texture and banana flavor. The Banana Bread Flax bar is also pretty good for a chewy snack when you feel an energy crash.
  • Clif C bars – I haven’t tried these yet but have heard good and bad things. The good thing is that they are all natural fruit and nut bars, so they can’t hurt.
  • Larabars – I only pictured one because I later picked up two more at my boyfriends. The tropical fruit tart is not a favorite flavor but it will work when I need some fruit and nut nourishment. I am also bringing apple pie, peanut butter cookie, and cashew cookie.

For dinner, I reheated one of Angela’s “In a Jiffy Spelt Veggie Burgers” that I had made about a month ago. It was eaten with spinach and bbq sauce on a Rudi’s Bakery multigrain bagel that was in the freezer. I have been thinking of trying to stick to a wheat-free diet (vs. gluten-free) when I get back from Philadelphia because since reintroducing wheat into my days, I haven’t slept as well. In the meantime, it is best to eat what we have now before restocking the carbs. The bagel I had the day before made me crave another. There were days in high school in college cross-country season where I ate up to three bagels. I have a feeling that may happen as I start upping my running mileage. Maybe not three, but definitely one. I also have been missing the Ezekiel english muffins tremendously. Sprouted grains are so fulfilling and what I missed most during the gluten-free challenge week.

On the side I made a massaged kale salad like the one I often eat from Whole Foods, and that has been seen across the blog world. I simply mixed avocado, lemon, and red onion and massaged it for a few minutes before topping it with large daikon radish shreds (read about some benefits here).

Later, some Chocolate Mousse was eaten before heading out for the night. The lack of camera has really been upsetting today, but I hope to at least borrow one for some better photos over the weekend.

Other things:

-Would you be interested in hearing more about the Female Athlete Triad? I have never opened up about it on the blog myself, but it is definitely something I would consider researching more or even talking about my own personal experiences.

-Do you like to pack snacks or meal components when traveling? Any favorites? I have made the mistake in the past of not bringing enough things to complement my meals on vacation. I tend to get cranky when not eating often enough and definitely always need breakfast to fuel the day.

Any Philly tips? I will have a limited amount of time to do anything straying from the graduation/fashion show schedule but would love to have some more ideas in mind.

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