A Fresh Dille

good bars vs. bad bars

Posted in FOOD, VEGAN by clairedille on October 15, 2010

A few days ago, I found myself with a cold I couldn’t shake off. But when Danielle told me she would be stopping in Michigan for a day, I knew that I wanted to drive to Ann Arbor to see her. It was the perfect excuse to “feel better,” try a vegetarian restaurant I had yet to visit, and meet a friend I feel like I have known for a few years. My blog began over two years ago after studying abroad in the Netherlands and traveling around Europe. Around that time, I found Danielle’s blog, where she often wrote about traveling, food, and many things I love. Since both of our blogs origin’s, our lives have changed tremendously, and it was great to finally meet her in person. Her drive across the country has been well documented on her blog, and I am so envious. She has been to many American cities I have yet to explore  these last six weeks and it was wonderful hearing her go on about each one.

I had to whip up a batch of my favorite chocolate chip cookies to give her for the last leg of her drive. Who wouldn’t want a big fresh chocolate chip cookie on a road trip? Hopefully she doesn’t get chocolate on the steering wheel.

Ann Arbor, home of University of Michigan, is probably my favorite small city in Michigan. It doesn’t just feel like your typical college town, but has a lot of charm, artistic venues, and good places to eat. Seva was a place I’ve known about for a while. Since moving back to Michigan, I have learned about every vegetarian restaurant in the state. Of course I can eat at most restaurants, but the state really lacks vegan friendly restaurants compared to all the other places I’ve lived in my life. It is a good thing that I love to cook because I really do miss the cafe’s and restaurants of New York, Boston, and Amsterdam.

Naturally, I was more than happy to try Seva for the first time. Upon arrival, I was greeted by  smile from Danielle and a delicious glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Although I wanted to try a wine flight, as Danielle did, I still had a 45 minute drive home. Food-wise, we both felt like stir fry’s, which may not have been the best decision. She opted for a stir fry from the Special Menu:

Thai Style Stir Fry Stir-fried broccoli, red & yellow peppers, mushrooms, mung sprouts, carrots and green onions served over organic brown rice with a Thai-inspired sauce of coconut milk, lime juice, garlic, ginger, chili, fresh cilantro and ground pistachios, garnished with sesame seeds.

It may have been the lack of my usual taste buds due to my cold, but her dish was deceptively bland for supposedly including creamy coconut milk, garlic, ginger, chili, and cilantro.

My choice was the Cilantro Peanut Stir FryStir-fried broccoli, red & yellow peppers, mushrooms, mung sprouts, carrots and green onions with a spicy cilantro-peanut-ginger-lime sauce, over organic brown rice, with roasted peanuts.

There were many different dishes on the menu that sounded tasty, but I think we both went with what we assumed were “safe bets.” I’ve done this at other veggie restaurants in the past, with both failure and success. My dish wasn’t awful, but I honestly felt I could have created the same stir fry myself at home with a little more flavor. The ginger was the most abundant flavor in my dish, and I am feeling much better now, maybe because of it.

Before saying our goodbye’s, Danielle gave me a few of Angela’s Glo Bars (store site here). I’ve been wanting to try these for quite a while now, so it was such a wonderful gift.

I’ve enjoyed both flavors in the last two days and am pretty sure that it was the caffeine in the Empower bar that kept me going during my run today.

After a somewhat bland meal on Wednesday night, I craved a meal with Indian flavors the night after.

Cauliflower is V’s vegetable of choice, and sweet potatoes are mine, which meant that this was a meal that was sure to please both of us. Flipping through the October issue of Vegetarian Times, I found a recipe for Indian stuffed Flat Breads that were filled with coriander spiced onion and jalapeno peppers. I probably shouldn’t have healthified them with spelt flour, but I was out of all-purpose and hoped spelt would suffice. Although tasty, they were rather heavy and not as satisfying as a pillowy piece of Naan (need to make these ASAP).

We dipped them in roasted red pepper hummus,  but both agreed a curry would have been the best accompaniment. Too bad I already had kale chips and roasted veggies in the oven. I just wasn’t in the mood to slave over the stove creating a warm curry. However, I was very happy with the result of the vegetables we did end up with.

Indian Spiced Roasted Cauliflower and Sweet Potatoes


1 large cauliflower, chopped

1 large sweet potato, chopped

2 shallots (or 1/2 onion), minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 T oil (I used grapeseed)

1 t ginger

1 t cumin

1 t coriander

1/2 t turmeric

1/2 t cayenne

1/2 t garam masala

1 t salt

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat large baking sheet with cooking spray or parchment paper.

-In a large mixing bowl, mix chopped vegetables with oil. Then add spices and mix well.

-Pour onto baking sheet and roast 30-35 minutes, until vegetables are turning brown, but are still firm.

Of course, there have been oats in my life these past few days.

Yesterday’s were steel-cut oats that I made my usual way with almond milk, half a banana, and chia seeds. Before taking them off the stove top, I mixed in some roasted maple cinnamon almond butter and then topped them with and half and end of season peach, strawberries, and oats from my apple crumble topping. I must have been missing summer fruit.

Last night I made Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats again with a mix of rolled and quick oats.

My batch differed in quantities than before, so here it is:

  • 1/4 cup organic quick oats
  • 2 T rolled oats
  • 2 T coconut milk yogurt (leftovers from cake recipe)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 t vanilla
  • 1/2 t molasses
  • 1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 t chia seeds
  • 1 t ground flax seeds
  • pinch of salt

In the morning I mixed in half a sliced banana, T of raisins, and a small spoonful of both pumpkin butter and raw almond butter. What a lovely way to start the day this was.

Then I had the grand plan of making homemade granola bars. I don’t want to place blame, but all was well until V insisted I add Spirulina. Word of advice: if something smells remarkably seaweedy, don’t add it to a somewhat sweet recipe.

This all looks like it has potential right?

Not so much.

This black-green-brown granola bar was something I couldn’t even eat. Just one Tablespoon of this amazing source of B vitamins ruined my granola bars. I could tell post mixing, when I was left with a bowl of black covered oats. The cocoa powder, brown rice syrup, and peanut butter couldn’t mask the flavor. I think V is in denial about it because he refuses to claim to taste it. Lets just say I have wrapped them up very well in parchment paper and a glass tupperware so that I can keep my distance. Maybe he will be stubborn enough and make his way through them, but I doubt it.

To make up for a few kitchen flops, I have some yummy meal ideas for the weekend and potential life changes on the horizon that I would love to discuss on the blog if all goes well. In the meantime, lets discuss brownies since I haven’t made them in a long time.

-Do you have a favorite brownie recipe? Do you stick with a classic or add in some interesting ingredients like pumpkin, black beans, applesauce?

-Have you tried making brownies with a different flour than all-purpose?

-Oh, and favorite granola bar recipe out there? I know you have some to share… chocolate chips, cherries, walnuts, peanut butter…all good places to start.

happy friday! have a lovely weekend!