A Fresh Dille

vegan goodness in flagstaff

Posted in FAMILY, FOOD, TRAVEL, VEGAN by clairedille on November 7, 2010

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.

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late to vegan mofo + santa fe body.

Posted in FAMILY, FOOD, RAW, TRAVEL, VEGAN by clairedille on November 4, 2010

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.

Other things:

-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.

Raw Food in Middle America

Posted in FOOD, RAW, TRAVEL, VEGAN by clairedille on November 3, 2010

I can’t remember when I first read about 105 degrees. I am a big fan of Pure Food and Wine in NYC (raw food done right) and wanted to try the midwestern version of haute raw food. The night before leaving Detroit, I had searched my travel source for veggie food, Happy Cow, and was reminded of this wonderful mecca of all things raw food. It was getting dark when we arrived and we were quite hungry. Naturally I forgot to take a photo of the exterior of 105 degrees and my 50 mm lens, but it was like nothing I expected for Oklahoma City. Next door was a yoga/ballet studio, and the surrounding buildings were all modern to the core. I love hippie-esque veggie food havens, but I really adore the modern cleaner aesthetic as well.

This was my mom’s first time experiencing a raw food restaurant and I am happy to report it lived up to the hype. She told the hostess that we would like to be seated to view the kitchen and we both wanted everything we saw the chefs prepare. Watching raw food chefs prepare the food is a completely different experience than your typical open kitchen. The chefs pulled things from dehydrators, blended sauces, and expertly and artistically stacked components of each dish.

The menu really overwhelmed. Everything sounded amazing but we finally decided on two appetizers and one entrée to share. After all, we knew dessert was a must. Raw desserts are almost always delicious.

The kimchi dumplings with a sesame ginger foam were like nothing I’ve ever tasted. The filling was a nut cheese that was flavored with ginger. I can’t wait to recreate these.

Next, I tasted the Mezze starter. Raw Falafel may just be the best falafel I’ve ever had. My mom and I definitely detected almonds in the mix. They were warm from the dehydrator and delicious with the raw hummus. The other components were “eggplant bacon,” and a hemp seed tabbouleh. The eggplant bacon was smoky and crispy. This is another reason I dream of owning a dehydrator (or I will bake in my oven on the lowest temperature with the door open).

Somehow, I completely blanked when it came time to order our main course. I knew that I wanted to forgo the heirloom tomato lasagna because of trying a raw version before at Pure Food and Wine (great!). My mother took the reigns and ordered the Pad Thai (Vegetable Noodles, Enoki Mushrooms, Candied Almonds).

The dish really was this neon, matching the spice factor. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any enoki mushrooms, but I still thought it was a great meal. The vegetable noodles were zucchini, which I’ve prepared many times at home with my spiralizer. Honestly, I wish we opted for some of the other choices. Some things I saw that looked delicious were:

Butternut Squash Ravioli, Wilted Spinach, Wild Mushrooms, Savory Ricotta

Open Faced Portobello Sliders 3 ways, Lettuce, Tomato, Cashew Cheddar

Caramelized Vegetable Pizza, Cherry Tomatoes, Sweet Onions, Kalamata Olives

The best part of the meal (in my chocaholic opinion) was our dessert. The Gianduja Tasting included Hazelnut Fudge, Hazelnut Budino, Hazelnut Butter Cup, Hazelnut Semifreddo, and Chocolate Hazelnut Layer Cake. I will say it often, but raw desserts are some of my favorite things to eat. Chocolate in its pure form with fruit, nuts, and coconut is all you need to be satisfied. I have never been a cake lover, but a dark chocolate flourless cake person. The fudge and semifreddo were my favorites. I am not usually an ice cream person but the semifreddo with hazelnut flavors reminded me of the nutella gelato I ate in Tuscany when I was sixteen. We left full and happy.

I am now seriously considering getting one of Matthew Kenney’s books, especially Everyday Raw. The connecting shop was filled with all sorts of raw food treats, eco jewelry, kitchen gear, and cookbooks. We also peered in the academy window before leaving for the night. Learning how to create these wonderful raw meals is such a culinary art unlike any other. I would love to try it someday.

If you are ever in Oklahoma City, please go to 105 degrees. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Next up on my road trip will be Amarillo, TX and Santa Fe, NM. I must tell you though, I am still thinking about Santa Fe. It is a place I am dreaming to return to.

Other things:

I am getting settled in our little temporary home in the middle of Topanga Canyon. We had no internet or cell service until today, but I can’t wait to spend more time exploring LA’s neighborhoods while thinking of a place to move to next. I’d love suggestions.

Hiking for cell service has happened these last few mornings. This isn’t the kind of hiking I am used to. I’ve hiked at Runyan Canyon before, but hiking just behind our place in Topanga means strenuous inclines and no people in sight. I’ve even gotten frightened a few times from hearing rustling along the trail. Unfortunately, the beautiful view gets ruined as I head back and meet many downhills that kill my knee. Hiking uphill doesn’t seem to bother my knee at all but the way down hurts the whole way. Tomorrow I am trying a yoga place a few miles down the canyon that our neighbor teaches at and I hope that doesn’t create any pain.

-Do you do yoga when trying to get over an injury? Any suggestions on types of practice? I’ve been a hot yoga devotee in the past but it has been a long time since I’ve done any classes. This studio has many types I have never tried and I am up for trying a variety.

-Have you eaten at a raw food restaurant? Or made a raw meal? Do you have any favorite recipes or places?

first stops on the road.

Posted in TRAVEL by clairedille on November 2, 2010

I made it to Los Angeles Friday night and I am still thinking about all of the amazing places we visited on the road from Michigan. I can’t wait to share it with you this week in a few posts. Although we only had time for dinner and driving around each city, I felt like I found some areas I would love to go back for a longer length of time.

Before leaving Detroit, I had made hummus and veggie wraps, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and packed lots of snacks (apples, bananas, dried fruit, almonds, walnuts, larabars, purebars) for the road. On our first night, we made it just past St. Louis, Missouri. Due to out planned dinner the following night at 105 Degrees in Oklahoma City, we opted for an easy dinner of Whole Foods sushi and salads.

We drove just past the city of St. Louis, but we made sure to drive around the area a little while after grabbing dinner. The houses outside of the city were so charming and reminded me of Boston suburbs. After driving through Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and then entering Missouri, we were beat. The following day, we drove through Missouri and made a stop in Tulsa, Oklahoma to explore vintage stores and a take a coffee break. A vintage store employee recommended Shades of Brown and my mom and I both loved its funky artsy vibe.

Any place with kombucha and almond milk is good with me. Unfortunately, I had asked my mom to grab me an iced green tea while I ran to the restroom and read the signs above after. It is never a good idea to drink too many beverages when on a road trip. There is always next time.

We sipped our tea and espresso while sitting outside admiring the fall leaves. I was sad to leave the fall of the midwest and east coast but at least I got to enjoy September and October.

Jumping back into the car, we were excited to only have a short trip to Oklahoma City for dinner.

Tomorrow I will share with you our delicious meal at 105 degrees.

Other news:

Unfortunately, I am not going to be able to attend the Foodbuzz Festival as planned this upcoming weekend. Sometimes life gets in the way and after traveling for a week, I have some things to attend to in LA.

There were so many bloggers I was excited to meet and I really hope that I will have another opportunity in the future. I hope everyone else has a wonderful experience in San Francisco! I really wish I could be there with all of you who are going.

on the road…

Posted in TRAVEL by clairedille on October 24, 2010

Alright, this photo is from The Netherlands ’06, but fitting for the traveling ahead. I leave in the morning for a five-day drive to California. These last few days have been packed full of to-do lists. I was wishing to post before leaving, but this is all I can write for now. The route keeps changing, but we’ve fit in two excursions I can’t wait to share. Emptying out pots of herbs, cleaning, packing boxes and luggage…all of it has not helped my knee heal. Even though I’ve taken the last few days off of running, I still feel pain that is not welcomed. I hope one more week will be all the injury needs to recover. Good thing I have some new places to explore and keep me distracted.

Have a lovely week!


two bits of bad news = two delicious breakfasts

Posted in FOOD, TRAVEL, VEGAN by clairedille on June 9, 2010

I spoke too soon. After blogging last about my excitement that we were heading to Martha’s Vineyard and getting a new camera the day before, two dreams were crushed within a few hours on Monday night. Maybe I jinxed myself by writing all about it in the last few posts. I guess I’ve learned my lesson. The reason we weren’t able to head east early this morning is very justified (work opportunities for V) but I can’t admit that I wasn’t extremely upset. My father had printed a map of the island and pinpointed a few of my favorite things to do while there. Hopefully we can fit in one trip to MV this summer because I would love to share my experiences and memories with V, as well as make some new ones. The camera situation is another story that has to do with timing. We are planning on using earnings from the recent shoot for the new dSLR and it seems like it may be a few more weeks till I can have my hands on one. In the meantime, it is back to our little digital’s.

My last two breakfasts have been attempts to make myself feel better. I won’t lie. I am a sensitive pisces who may not be the best at hiding my emotions. Instead of dwelling on things I can’t change, I decided to make something I knew wouldn’t fail. As of late, this lady’s waffles have been calling my name, and I made one very similar to this recipe. With a few substitutions (more flax for wheat germ, coconut milk yogurt for greek) they turned out wonderfully. There was one thing though, they didn’t look too hot. I must have a much deeper and larger waffle iron than the one Jess uses for her beauties. Although they didn’t look ideal, they sure tasted it.

Next time, I plan on using half the waffle iron instead of pouring the mix into the center. I am sure that would make two grand waffle squares. These turned out darker than all waffles I have made in the past, but this might be because of the oaty mixture. They were delicious, topped with a mashed banana, vanilla almond butter, more banana, agave, and raspberries.

For lunch, I opted for a simple eggplant, kale, cherry tomato, and hummus wrap with an apple. I was still in denial we weren’t Vineyard-bound and ate it while observing the map.

Not in the mood for cooking dinner, I had some Amy’s Split pea soup with a little too much sriracha and a great new bar. I’ve been eyeing these Bumble Bar’s for a while now and this was truly yummy. This Cherry Chocolate flavor had flakes of coconut that I loved, but I gobbled it up too fast to photograph.

Recently, I’ve been really into the mashed banana topping on oats but I still like to cook my oats with thin slices of banana. This morning I had oatmeal with banana used in three different ways.

This was 2 T steel-cut oats, 1/4 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup almond milk, 1/2 cup water, 1/3 sliced banana, and flax topped with a vanilla almond butter and banana mash with more banana slices and raspberries. This was another winning oatmeal breakfast. I feel the banana adds enough sweetness and V was also a fan with the addition of some local honey.

Today I have decided that it is not worth being upset about plans not following through. We have already been discussing a trip to Guatemala after the next few work-filled months.

Now I have to go help V make some Kale chips like the ones I made here. These are such an addicting treat and you can find the recipe on Averie’s blog. Oh, and some Always Sunny in Philadelphia is definitely going to be involved.

Hope you all are having a wonderful week.

Other things:

-How do you react when travel plans fall through? Of course it depends on the reason why things fall through, but sometimes it is hard to hide disappointment.

-Do you have a go-to waffle recipe? The recipe was just like oatmeal poured on a hot waffle iron, so I am not surprised I loved it so much. I would love to hear about some more though!

heading east, east, east.

Posted in FAMILY, TRAVEL by clairedille on June 6, 2010

In just a few days I will be going to the one place that I know more than any other, the place my grandfather bought for his family on the little island of Martha’s Vineyard when my mother was a child. Since I was born, I have spent many summers on the island, but in the last couple years, I’ve spent only a few days. Last summer, I didn’t make my way onto the island until labor day weekend and this year I am determined to visit as early as possible. You see, I prefer the island before all the tourists arrive for the high season. The early months may not be as warm and all the summer goings-on might not be possible, but I know that V and I will have a great time when arrive Wednesday night.

If rain surprises us while we are cooped up in the small shingled summer home, we will read our book about dSLR cameras, hopefully while playing with the new toy we hope to purchase before heading east. Card games and Clue will be played and I will show V a favorite morning walk down the dirt road that returns along the beach.

The favorite island farmer’s market opens for the first time this season on Saturday and features all “island grown” produce.

Although there is an alpaca herd stand at the market, I hope we can fit in time to visit the farm.

I’ll take V to the places my parents have always gotten seafood on the island each summer. At the small beach shack with a menu of friend clams, oysters, and scallop, he might be delighted with the seafood his northern california heart craves.

Of course, there are a few other things I love about this place.


the same summer furniture that resides in the summer home from when my grandmother first designed it in the 60’s.

farmer’s market flowers.

our weathered shingled home.

silly flea market finds.

the black dog…tavern, cafe, & bakery…

There will be many more activities along the lines of kayaking, canoeing, reading on the beach, hiking, and the Flying Horses (my favorite summer activity growing up was reaching for the rings and trying to fill each finger in hopes of winning the brass ring for a free ride).

Tomorrow I will be back to post about some simple eats I’ve been consuming. Unfortunately, my love affair with the Canon Rebel had to come to a close so the shots aren’t quite the same. This is why I am eagerly awaiting a new dSLR to play with and to learn all the things I wish I already knew about photography.

Other things:

-What is one of the places that you love the most? As I wrote the other day, traveling is something that is most important to my own well-being. However, places like New York and Martha’s Vineyard will always be closest to my heart. Memories just make them sweeter.

-Do you ever fear that someone won’t love a place as much as you? Do you feel like idealizing a place and describing it to others may build it up to be better than it turns out? The other night at dinner, my father told V all about the island and his first experience when he went there with my mother at the beginning of their relationship. He made it seem like the “perfect” place and I have a slight fear that V may not love it as I do. He is used to the west coast, and although I have lived in California in the past, I know the east coast much more. I hope he enjoys it as much, or close to as much, as I do.

a hard but proud evening.

Posted in FOOD, TRAVEL, VEGAN by clairedille on June 3, 2010

Last night was especially difficult for me. I had to say a goodbye to one of my best friends. I can’t say that I haven’t done this many times in my life. I moved many times throughout my childhood (across the country) and then went to a college without knowing anyone and in a city I’ve never lived in. I’m sure many of you have had similar experiences but it never gets any easier, does it? The hardest part about this friend moving is that although we’ve been separated on and off for many years, we’ve always been able to communicate with the help of phones, email, or skype. However, Mandy left for the Peace Corps this morning in Mongolia. She is unsure about her future ways of reaching her friends or family, but took her computer along in case she has a rare chance to email or skype when she makes her way into the capital, Ulan Bator. After working for Habitat for Humanity and leading her own builds in Central America, she has been bitten by the travel and volunteering bug and I am so incredibly amazed and proud of her. It is ironic that the friends I stayed closest to from high school are the ones who are traveling the globe. A different friend spent six months traveling Eastern Europe and Asia over the last year, and another has been living in Guatemala with a recently opened bike shop. There are a few more scattered around right now and all their adventures are so inspiring for me. I have yet to embark on traveling throughout Central and South America, but hope to get a chance within the next year. Another great friend has been spending time in Nicaragua and now El Salvador and I eagerly wait for each email with news of his journey. Because of the recent natural disasters in Guatemala, two friends have been stuck in the country for an extra week. It is scary to be worried for these friends whom I can’t see or communicate with, but at the same time, I wish I could be on these adventures with them. Most of my own travels have been spent throughout Europe, which is a completely different, but still enlightening experience. This is why I have made it a goal of mine to travel to some place within North America and Cape Horn within the next 12 months, even if it isn’t for as long as many of my friends have been away. Traveling is incredibly wonderful for the soul and as St. Augustine said,

“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”

I did win the “most likely to travel the world” award at a senior year of high school event so please excuse my very idyllic & adventurous thoughts.

Now, onto some lovely eats that have healed my inner foodie these last few days…

If you’ve ever had the Whole Foods Seeduction bread, you know what I am talking about…but this bread is truly delicious. It may even be the perfect bread with the dense seed interior and chewy, yet crunchy crust. Just upon looking at it, you find millet, pepitas, sunflower seeds, and poppy seeds.

I probably should have asked about the ingredients within this bread, but my mother had raved about its deliciousness, and I hopped on board. I am unsure if it entirely whole wheat flour or if it is honey free. As someone who tries to eat an entirely plant-based diet, I don’t use honey or eggs, but with something like this bread that may be infused with the slightest amount of honey, I won’t let myself stress. It is how we choose to eat and prepare things for ourselves that is more important. We can’t always have organic ingredients when out to dinner with friends, but sacrificing some things is more important for our happiness than others.

So with this Seeduction bread, a yummy french toast was made with this recipe from (never home) maker I had seen Ashley make and rave about the other day.

The french toast did come out more soft than the egg variety, but the banana flavor and texture of the bread made for an amazingly yummy breakfast, one that I will be sure to repeat. Maple syrup, coconut oil, and frozen organic blueberries were poured on top and I ooh-ed and ahh-ed throughout the whole meal.

With a craving for some baking, something I adore, even in the warmer months, I made a batch of Dreena’s spelt oatmeal raisin (really used chocolate chips) cookies and added an overly ripe banana. Without any other changes to the recipe, the cookies texture was softer than I had hoped due to the addition of a banana. They were still enjoyed by three of us later in the evening.

For dessert one night, I had some Coconut milk ice cream, leftover apple berry crisp, and a cookie. It was bliss.

Oh yeah, I might have had some veggies this week too…

I am still eating a lot of the local lettuce we bought at the farmer’s market. It makes me realize why I prefer to buy organic baby spinach most of the winter and save the best romaine and bibb lettuces to the warmer month when I can find it local and better than ever. I dressed it with the better than bottled vinaigrette, and leftover corn salsa. The wrap contained a usual mixture of spinach, hummus, carrots, tomato, and some leftover grilled tempeh.

This was a quickly compiled dinner that involved a stuffed portobello with red quinoa, baby spinach, mushrooms, zucchini, V’s basil, and a basic marinara sauce. It was simple, yet tasty. Alongside, we had some more salad. We just can’t seem to get enough of it these days. The warmer days always equals more raw veggies in my day.

This morning I mixed a steel-cut oats with rolled oats, hoping they would mimic my favorite, Scottish Oats. I used 2 T of Scottish oats, which simmered on the stove top for 10 minutes with unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1/4 cup of rolled oats, half a banana, and lots of water. The entire thing took a good 20 minutes, but the results were not as creamy as Scottish Oats. Yes, they were great, but I think I may have to just purchase some more Scottish Oats to satisfy the craving soon. On top of the oats were some more frozen wild blueberries and the cinnamon vanilla sunflower butter I had hidden in the back of my fridge for much too long.

Other meals this week have been of similar nature. Fresh berries and juice have been on my mind, so I may be juicing before heading out now.

My still current blog obsession just wrote a great post about juicing…read it here.

-Do you have a juicer or shell out cash for fresh veggie juice? I got one for Christmas from my parents but must admit it doesn’t get quite as much use as I had planned. Maybe these warmer temperatures are just the push I needed to use it more.

-Have you seen this article about the UN urging a meat and dairy free diet? I would love to read your thoughts…I don’t try to make friends or family eat a certain way. Often, I find myself keeping quiet about the matter unless someone else brings it up. These days though, I really feel that some need more urging and things like this may help people realize that just one or two days a week is a great step for our future environment.

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.

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.