On Friday, I turned 25 years old. I couldn’t believe it myself really. Everyone around me reminded me that I have lived a quarter century. The designer I am currently working for, said jokingly, “You are 25, and what have you done?” Of course I took the comment with all the humor it was meant to bring, but at the same time I felt myself reflecting on what I’ve made of myself in my lifetime. As a true pisces, I am a dreamer, who may need a little push to be brought down to reality. Although I tend to dislike the realities of certain life’s musts (finances, big purchases, not so lovely jobs or people), I have recently learned how to deal with them, making my day-to-day life happier. Instead of putting the big decisions and problems to the way-side, I have tried to work with them so that I can bring more even-ness to my emotional and rational sides. So, in my 25 years, I feel as though I am still learning and always evolving to try to be the best version of myself. This doesn’t mean that I will continue to try to be perfect version I once aimed to be, but to be accepting of my ways so that I can know how to approach situations in the best way I possibly can.
For my birthday dinner, I had no set plans. I usually would come up in my mind with a scenario of how I hoped the occasion to pan out, but on Friday, I decided to just be. When I was exhausted from the hard week and days work, I drove home, with no set agenda of what was to come. My brother called, saying he was open for dinner and was in the mood for indian food. I didn’t care where I went, instead I wanted to be with some of the people who mean the most to me. Two of the three most important men in my life, my boyfriend and my brother, were there with me to celebrate my 25th year at a not-so stellar (service-wise) indian restaurant. We shared samosas, naan, and I ate a delicious green coconut vegetable curry. I came home with a full belly and full heart.
The next day, V and I were lounging around, when I brought up the idea of heading to my new favorite veggie spot, Cafe Gratitude. Like last time, I went with a cooked dish, instead of the tasty sounding (and looking) raw dishes. This time I had the “I AM FORTIFIED” with sautéed seasonal vegetables,kale, quinoa or local brown rice topped with a choice of sesame-ginger, garlic-tahini or thai- almond sauce. The waitress suggested ordering two of the sauces, the garlic-tahini and the sesame-ginger. I wish both sauces were served on the side, but the garlic-tahini was already poured all over the dish when it arrived at the table. However, I was very pleased with the warm bowl filled with quinoa, kale, and veggies like butternut squash and mushrooms. Instead of taking out the camera, I decided to focus on the moment, without the visuality that a camera brings. V went with the “I AM WARM-HEARTED,” -Grilled organic polenta with fresh puttanesca sauce, topped with cashew ricotta and brazil nut parmesan. Polenta is one of the dishes that remind V of his childhood, and he seemed very pleased with his meal as he finished every last bite. Since my last visit to Cafe Gratitude, I have been desiring another one of their amazing desserts. Always one to order a chocolate based finish to my meal, I went with the “I AM BLISS” when my waitress said she had finished one in a mere 3 seconds the night before (not so sure if that is possible). It was a CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT CREAM TORTE with Chocolate hazelnut mousse topped with whipped cream on a pecan, choc-chip crust.
It was the best birthday dessert I could have hoped for with a lovely nutty crust and not overly sweet creamy chocolatey center. Next time I will have to grab one of their sweets, a truffle or rawmond joy, for the road.
And I am grateful for a happy and healthy 25 years of life. I am grateful for all the people in my life who have made an impact on me. And what have I done? I think the more important question is, what will I continue to do in my life? How will I try to affect those around me in the way they have positively affected my life?
Now, I am off to a rainy sunday lunch with my best friend from college and all I can think about are the sweet potato fries ahead. Hope you had a lovely weekend. Happy almost spring!
-What are you grateful for?
-What have you done, and hope to do? Do you think that is a loaded question (of course it is!)?
After a crazy last few days of 4 a.m. wake up times and boring morning eats, I ventured into the kitchen this morning with two things on my mind. First, I heated filtered water for a few minutes and sliced a freshly picked lemon from the tree aside my apartment window. As I squeezed in the lemon juice and then sipped the warm glass of lemon water, I was reminded of how simple it is to feel a sense of balance in the morning. The routine of making slow cooked steel-cut oats came next, and I didn’t even have to ask my still visiting sister if she was also craving a bowl.
Since V went rather overboard on the amount of berries he purchased on Sunday, I eagerly poured a few more than usual on both our bowls. The usual mix of steel-cut oats was slow cooked with banana, chia seeds, nut milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Lily’s was topped with a few vegan chocolate chips.
I went with a small spoonful of raw almond butter. It was grand.
The rain hasn’t really stopped in LA, and part of me is happy to have an excuse to stay in and be all sorts of lazy. I read words from the new-to-me site, The Well Daily, my lovely friend Danielle’s place of work and enjoyment. Each post left me feeling wonderful, and I was especially intrigued by the Ayurvedic Body Scrub idea. Creating homemade beauty products, with far less ingredients than store-bought, is something I’ve often wanted to try. Eventually I will get around to it. Ayurveda has always fascinated me, so I went on to take the linked quiz in order to find my Dosha. Although a few of the questions were difficult, making me feel as though I may be more than one option, I answered to the best of my ability. In the end I learned I was primarily a Vata Dosha, and therefore should eat mostly warm nourishing foods like hearty oats for breakfast. That seemed about right. Other things that balance Vata’s are nuts (nut milk and nut butter too), pureed soups, and cooked vegetables like beets, carrots, asparagus, and sweet potatoes. The expansive food list isn’t something I would necessarily follow, considering that I also have some Pitta qualities. Eating by the Vata Dosha would also mean limiting all raw vegetables and adding dairy to my diet, two things I don’t see myself doing anytime soon. Still, I do agree with many aspects that make me a Vata-Pitta Dosha, and am willing to start adding more Ayurvedic practices like yoga, meditation, routine meal times, hiking, and afternoon tea. As usual, the Ayurvedic cookbooks and recipes interest me most, and I’ve already found some tasty looking ones to try.
Ironically, my lunch was already planned for, and well, differed quite a bit from the Ayurvedic recipes I was reading most of the morning hours.
Lynn had mentioned that Chipotle was having a two for one offer and my sister and I were in the mood for two more bowls of delicious afternoon fuel. Chipotle may be considered fast food, but at least they do it with integrity. The salad bowls covered with fajita veggies, black beans, salsa, and guacamole are soul and belly-satisfying. Oh, and the chips, with a hint of lime and perfectly salted really make the meal complete. The two salad bowls and chips were just under $10, only a $5 a piece. That is what I am talking about.
Yum. I finished every last bite.
The end of the day warming meal was a shared roasted sweet potato (425 degrees for just under an hour), lentil soup, coconut roasted parsnips, and brussels sprouts.
You know dark chocolate was involved too.
– Have you ever read about Ayurveda and even found your Dosha? Did you agree with your Dosha balancing foods?
– Do you Chipotle? Of course it isn’t my food place of choice, but it doesn’t hurt to eat a veggie filled bowl with healthy fats and salty crunchy chips. It was amazingly satisfying.
After leaving Santa Fe, we were off to finally see the Grand Canyon. Considering it was going to be both me and my mom’s first time, we drove straight through Flagstaff, saving it for the next morning. I was tempted to stop in the cute town that reminded me of Colorado with mountains in the background.
The drive from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon was full of beauty.
Our lunches (courtesy of Body) were eaten en route. Although they were just as delicious as the other meals we ate there, I was too focused on the nature to snap a photo. I had simple spelt wrap filled with steamed kale, sweet potato, and ginger sauce. It was definitely a dish I will be recreating.
Soon after our arrival at the Grand Canyon, we were off to walk along the canyon on the designated trails. The view is one I will never forget. My fear of heights went to the wayside while I walked two miles with my mother, who was seemingly more fearful of the deep canyon.
The shadows were stunning.
Oh, the curves of these trees.
After the sun set, we headed to El Tovar for dinner. We had made reservations from the road after hearing it was the finest dining in the area. Unfortunately, we both were left disappointed with our priciest meal. The only vegan dish was a stuffed portobello that was filled with a veggie concoction (when I asked the server what it was, he said blended veggies…not so appetizing). I ended up eating half of one of the two portobellos and dipping two pieces of bread into the tomato sauce that covered the plate. I had stowed my camera away, but believe me, it was not a pretty dish. The highlight of the meal was the company and the conversation about our travels.
It was much chillier than I had expected. Look at my lovely blue-tinted lips…
We slept long and hard that night. In the morning, my mother awoke in a hurry to watch the sunrise. I don’t think I was fully awake when she attempted to get me to come along, but I wanted to stayed in bed. Looking back, I am sure it was amazing, but I must have needed sleep for the full day of driving ahead.
Soon after she came back, raving about the sight, we were off to Flagstaff for breakfast. Due to the one and a half hour drive, I ate on a banana to keep my stomach from growling.
Rachael had recommended Macy’s for vegan scones in Flagstaff. I ended up reading the happy cow reviews and was sold on the idea after such a disappointing meal at the Canyon. The place was filled to the brim with locals, which is always a good sign in my book. It was a Friday morning, but everyone was dressed casual in beanies and cold weather clothing. I felt like it was a weekend morning.
Sadly, the person before me had taken the last vegan scone of the day. It was a cinnamon coconut scone that was much at least the size of my hand. I am sure it was heaven.
But this vegan lemon blueberry bran muffin…was another winner. It was soft (and yes, moist) like all muffins should be with a slight lemon flavor that didn’t overpower the blueberries. I wish I had ordered a few of the other baked goods to go though, such as a vegan sticky bun or blueberry crumble bar. They all looked splendid.
My mom, never a big breakfast person, went with couscous that was topped with almonds, raisins, and apricots. The coffee was the best of the trip.
For the road, we ordered a Vegan BLT with avocado and tempeh bacon. It was easily the best sandwich I’ve had in a long time. The vegan basil mayo and thick hearty slices of bread made the sandwich. We were both full from one half (and the blue corn chips on the side). Macy’s Coffeeshop, Bakery, and Vegetarian Restaurant was another highlight of the road trip. If you are ever driving through Flagstaff, or going up to Grand Canyon, try to stop by. It is worth stopping by.
I’ve read about Vegan Mofo for a few years now, and I think it is finally time to participate. When first reading about it, I wasn’t quite 100% vegan, but over the last two years, I’ve been eating entirely plant-based foods. It’s about time, right? A Vegan Month of Food sounds right up my alley, and hopefully will give me more blogging stamina for the month of November. This month I will be writing about vegan food, as per usual, and following the Vegan Mofo idea of writing at least twenty veg-related posts over the month.
Another great thing about writing about vegan food, is that LA has quite the abundance that I can’t wait to discover. Although, I am starting late, at least I am aiming to give it a shot. Maybe I can even get a spot on the 2010 blogroll…
Since I am now on Pacific Standard Time, lets count this as my first post on November 3rd.
Let’s talk about Santa Fe. I pretty much fell in love.
It was so cold the morning I wanted to take photos that I froze my fingers while leaning outside the passenger door of the car. You see, road-tripping means getting to places at night and often leaving in a hurry the next day. My mother had plans to meet up with a best friend from college at 8 a.m. (a healer of sorts who has cooked at a vegetarian restaurant and taught yoga classes), but obliged me by driving around for a few minutes before returning to the restaurant I had fallen in love with the night before.
After our quick drive around , we were back at Body.
Let’s rewind to the night before.
Once again, I went to Happy Cow in search of healthy veggie filled meal to remember. My mother’s iPad helped on the road, and I found myself loving the Body of Santa Fe site. There was a studio, spa, cafe, boutique, and more. It seemed like a place both myself and my mother would enjoy.
The boutique charmed with sustainable products, organic materials, and amazing style. There was a local jewelers work with stones that we both loved (for a hefty price).
Of course there were many raw/ health foods sold in the cafe.
Most importantly, the food was everything I hoped for (and more).
Due to the surprisingly chilly temps, I promptly ordered a chai tea with homemade nut milk before dinner.
It warmed me up fast and the spice was perfect. It reminded me that I need to start making homemade nut milk’s again.
My collard green burrito was another delectable choice. It was filled with cashews, flax seeds, basil, salsa fresca, sun-dried tomatoes, sea salt, garlic, tamari, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar, and came with a small salad. I should have asked for avocado as well, because I am sure it would have brought it to another level.
The star of the evening was this beauty.
My mom ordered the Asian Curry with brown rice, stir-fry vegetables, tofu, coconut curry sauce, and nori. Although I thought the dish might turn out to be bland, it WAS NOT. The coconut curry sauce was the best I’ve ever had. Honestly, I’ve never had a better stir fry. The dish was so warming and included cauliflower, cabbage, zucchini, carrots, broccoli, and more. I would go back to Santa Fe just to taste this one more time.
Dessert also made its way into my stomach.
To follow along with the previous nights raw theme, I went with the raw pumpkin pie. I told the waiter that I am a chocaholic and really wanted the raw/vegan brownie sundae, but he assured me I should venture elsewhere. This was creamy and full of pumpkin and pumpkin spice flavor with a raw date crust. I did miss my chocolate fix though.
Fast forward to the next morning, we headed back to Body for breakfast in the cafe separated from the dining room we had eaten the night before.
My mom (left), her best friend, and I sat talking about her time in Santa Fe, cooking in the Body kitchen when it first opened, teaching Yoga in the Adirondacks, and her healing abilities. I’ve never talked to a healer before, and it was so refreshing to hear stories of how she can tell when things are wrong with an individual and the paths of healing.
Instead of my usual warm breakfast bowl of oats, I tried the Body Ambrosia which was raw sprouted buckwheat, dried fruit, bananas, fresh seasonal fruit, coconut, agave, and fresh nut milk. Again I was amazed by the nut milk. It was creamy perfection. This breakfast turned me into a raw buckwheat convert. I just need to get my hands on some this week. Amazingly, it also kept me full as long as a typical morning bowl of steel-cut oatmeal.
And for the road, a raw chocolate covered almond butter cup that I ate as we entered Arizona.
Yeah, it had to happen. I am happy it did. Bliss.
-Have you been to Santa Fe? Did you have a good experience?
-Do you tend to go for chocolate desserts at restaurants? Or other types?
-Ever met a healer? Today I saw a sign down the street from our place in Topanga for Reiki. Now, I am intrigued…
Now it is November 4th, day 4 of vegan mofo. I’m trying.
During high school cross-country season, I always looked forward to the one run we made to the cider mill. We would drive a few cars over to leave parked in the parking lot so that our stomachs wouldn’t be filled with apples, cider, and apple cider doughnuts on a run home. The run there was about four and a half miles, but the best part was that instead of running with the few other top runners, I could have a more relaxing run with the entire team following. The warm bag of cider doughnuts I would bring home for my family were so tasty and reminded me of the small cake-y doughnuts my mom chose once a summer when we would go to Humphrey’s on Martha’s Vineyard. I was always a doughnut hole girl myself as a child. We only went 1-2 times a summer and never throughout the year, so it wasn’t until high school that I realized that I might also enjoy the more cake-y variety of doughnut. I was more than willing to take V for his first cider mill trip to the Franklin Cider Mill today (okay, I may have begged him).
Of course I made sure to get in some fuel for the trip and switched up my usual warm oats for Angela’s Pumpkin Pie Vegan Overnight Oats. I mixed in half a banana and topped it with some crumbled banana bread and melted roasted maple cinnamon almond butter. Considering the temps were up today, the colder breakfast was fitting and I was delighted with every spoonful.
But there were apples, cider, and doughnuts to get to…
The empire apples have a frosted look I am enchanted by. Other great news is that all the apples are organic.
And I was told they were perfect for baking. I’ve been very anti- fruit dessert my whole life. This was probably because my father was entirely pro- fruit dessert and I needed another reason to rebel against his food and make things difficult like that. After seeing Ashley’s post about pie and Nicole’s Galette, I’ve been inspired to change that. Seeing that apples are a fruit I eat almost daily on their own, I can’t imagine I wouldn’t be smitten with an apple dessert.
V asked why I didn’t clean them and honestly, I like the way they look with this matte-like finish.
The other two we picked up were Jonathan (the two on the left) and Honeycrisp (two on the right). I wanted some Jonathan for baking as well, but V made sure to squeeze in a few Honeycrisp for snacking after an employee let him sample one. Little did he know that I already had a few at home in the fridge from a recent farmer’s market trip.
The Franklin Cider Mill Apple Cider is made with Honeycrisp apples and I found it pretty sweet. I prefer my fruit juice mixed with some veggies, but I am sure it will go wonderful with some sparkling water.
But more about the doughnuts. Due to the fact that I am now vegan, I decided to opt out on eating one and got a few for my family and V. Instead, I have some work cut out for me:
Smitten Kitchen’s Apple Cider Doughnuts (not vegan, but beautiful!)
A Dash of Compassion’s Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts (okay, I need a muffin pan, but these sound easy enough)
Herbivore Dinasour’s Apple Cider Doughnuts (using a cookie cutter is right up my alley)
The Gluttonous Vegan’s Apple Cider Doughnuts with Cinnamon Sugar (fried, but I’m sure they are worth it)
Vegetarian’s Times Mini Apple Cider Doughnuts (cause you gotta’ throw in the Veg. Times for good measure and the mini doughnut pan is too much fun)
So there you have it, instead of writing about running as I planned for today, I mostly spoke of apples and doughnuts. Hope you didn’t mind. Now I have some dinner to attend to.
-What is your favorite variety of apple? Apple dessert?
-What are your thoughts on doughnuts? Do you like yeast or cake doughnuts more? I’ve never had a dunkin /commercial brand, but I am pretty sure I’m not missing out on much.
Hope you have a splendid weekend!
Although belated, tonight is actually going to be our official BBQ for the Fourth of July at my parents house. I’ve already received the phone call notifying me that my father bought a veggie burger from the prepared foods section of Whole Foods to throw on the grill for me. Of course I was hoping to whip up something special for myself and whoever wanted some tasty vegan fare, but this weekend has been another hectic one.
I’ve mentioned it before, but I am not your typical American sports fan. Actually, I am pretty far from one. Soccer and Tennis are more my thing, but when V told me he was given four free tickets to a Detroit Tigers game, our second of the summer, I eagerly agreed. There were a few reasons why I knew it was worth going and one was that he was told “they will be the best seats you’ve ever had.” The last time (and my first baseball game ever) we sat maybe nine rows back and I was pretty satisfied. This time though, we were in the first row behind the Tigers dugout, which was a prime viewing spot for seeing each player’s facial expression. There were also quite a few foul bowls that I made sure to duck from, while the rest of the fans jumped up in hopes of catching one. The highlight of the night was the fireworks show set up post-game on the field. By the time the wonderfully long and loud show came to a close, we were slightly covered with firework residue and had a little too much for our eyes to handle. However, it was really a special night and I met a few people V is working with on his current film who were great company.
There was no way I was going to miss another Farmer’s Market trip, so we woke up early Saturday morning to head to a different market than usual on our way to Ikea. The organic stands were pretty minimal which disappoints me a little, but I did pick up some broccoli, multiple cucumbers, kale, beets, raspberries, and the blueberries I’ve been craving all week.
You know what had to come next…patriotic oats for the holiday of course.
After eating my way through my Scottish Oats recently, I knew it was time to change things up. One day I will take photos of my obsessive jar collection, but one was full to the brim of Steel Cut oats that were begging to be prepared. With Amanda’s steel-cut oat creations (and tutorial) in my mind, I decided to make a batch for me and V covered in raspberries, blueberries, and coconut butter. They took about ten minutes longer than my usual oats, but they were extra creamy and just as delicious.
I also must mention the coupons I won from Wendy for Turtle Mountain Products. So far I’ve been enjoying the Plain Coconut Milk Kefir with berries and puffins. It has been added to my steel-cut oats two mornings in a row with a slightly sour result V and I both enjoy.
Instead of your typical BBQ/beach/family gathering Fourth of July, V and I had work errands and an Ikea trip on the agenda. By the time dinner rolled around (yes, we ate lunch yesterday too but it was nothing exciting since we were building our new apartment purchases) we were starving and looked through some bookmarked dishes to prepare with minimal ingredients. Susan’s Polenta Pizza was one I’ve had my eye on for a while and we had a jar full of Polenta which made the decision easy.
It was rather dark by the time we ate since it was past 9 PM but it was a tasty treat we both loved.
Lighting was scarce in the usually well-lit apartment, but I still captured what I could of the polenta pizza baked with our own basil, rosemary, and chives. Spread on top was organic tomato sauce, garlic, onion, red pepper, and broccoli. My half also had mushrooms but V steered clear since he is not a fan of cooked mushrooms due to the “weird texture.” Well, more for me…
After dinner, we made our way up to the roof and realized that we had views of multiple firework shows around Detroit. When counting them all, we saw ten different shows across the skyline. It was such a magical experience and made up for all the missed shows in the last few years.
-Have you missed Fireworks shows on past July 4th or similar holidays? Are you a fan? I must admit that I completely thought they were overrated and much more fun when I was younger on Martha’s Vineyard. Since we saw them two nights this weekend, I am reminded how wonderful they are!
-Are you a polenta fan? Any good recipes? I really love it. Usually I prepare it simply creamy topped with pesto or tomato sauce and roasted veggies. Really, I am a fan of most things corn related.
As I am already late for my parents dinner, I must head out. I hope everyone had a lovely Fourth of July Weekend! I have missed all things blog related recently!
ciao for now.
my sis, me, and my dad
As I write this, I am sitting with my father watching the World Cup. Since my brother lives out west in LA, I am the one who usually watches sports with him these days. The two we enjoy most are Tennis and “Football.” My dad typically enjoys his British-style breakfasts, but I decided to try to switch up the Father’s Day meal this morning with some delicious waffles à la Jessica. In the past I’ve mentioned my father, and his affinity for breakfast with eggs.
Since I am not too into making bacon & eggs, here is what I made. My sister made the bacon.
I didn’t stray too much from Jessica’s recipe, except for puffed brown rice for puffed millet and light coconut milk for greek yogurt. These were delicious but unfortunately I forgot the baking powder again. The deep waffle iron in my parents home tends to grab onto the waffles with its dear life but once I managed to peel each waffle off and pour on a maple, almond butter, and coconut milk sauce, they were very tasty (although a little overcooked).
Now it is time for the farmer’s market. I hope everyone is having a wonderful father’s day with your Dad!