A Fresh Dille

more cookie attention.

Posted in FITNESS, FOOD, VEGAN, WORKOUTS by clairedille on October 12, 2010

Before I began blogging, I was already having a love affair with Celine‘s blog, have cake, will travel. She has some of the most creative vegan recipes out there and I often find myself resorting to her recipe page when searching for something sweet (and sometimes savory). I mean, who wouldn’t want a Peanut Butter Mousse Pie with Candied Nuts and Chocolate Ganache for their birthday, I know I would.

This is why I knew who to go to when I wanted a cookie “outside the box” when our small cookie stash diminished. Interestingly enough, I chose one of her most simple recipes, the chocolate chip oatmeal cookies (with peanut butter). Any time a cookie recipe is described as “chewy,” it is pretty obvious I will be a fan. I probably should have made these post dinner. They were delectable.

Then we waited until 9 pm to sit down and eat this delicious-ness.

Ashley’s Mexican Stuffed Spaghetti Squash was everything I was craving last night. The cumin, cayenne, chili, coriander, and oregano spiced black beans and veggie stuffing had incredible flavor that went wonderfully with the spaghetti squash. I followed her recipe exactly (with the addition of sliced zucchini) and topped it with avocado, salsa, and some of our garden chives.

I apologize for the not so lovely evening photos. It really was such an enjoyable meal with many leftovers for today’s lunch that I can’t wait to dig into.

This morning, I went back for more Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats. This time I topped them with walnuts and pear that I cooked on the stove top with cinnamon, almond milk, and maple syrup. It was a splendid post run meal.

Some other things:

-Make Emily’s Butternut Squash and Black Bean Chili in Pumpkin Bowls ASAP. We loved them Sunday night. They will not disappoint.

-If you are a runner who has taken time off due to an injury or life getting in the way, how did you get back into it? Did you do a run/walk plan and/or cross train a few days to build endurance while keeping off your joints? I am still trying to get back to my former running shape, but have had some strange knee pain that is hindering my early training runs. After much too much time off, I am hoping to keep it light with 5k’s and 10k’s until the spring where I hope to add in a half marathon. I may be adding in a few running-related posts here and there. It is always great to re-fall in love with running again and some hiccups along the way aren’t helping right now. Any encouraging words would help right now.



“no more cookies!”

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

This last week has been filled with some delicious baked goods. Baking is something that I find relaxes me when I am stressed and often find myself mixing well into the evening. Since I last shared about my adventure to my family’s summer home on Martha’s Vineyard plans falling through, I have found myself choosing sweets over the savory dishes I usually prepare. Of course I still ate many salads, wraps, veggie burgers, and even a delicious sushi date night with V, but I must admit that sweets were what I craved or preferred making. Measuring and mixing things I knew would work well together was easier than chopping, spicing, and sautéeing. Often, I find myself referring to Dreena Burton for her delicious cookies and this week was no different. The favorite Super-Charge Me cookies were made with dried cherries, dark chocolate, and coconut. As many already know, this is a no-fail recipe.

Wanting to try something new and with the abundance of spelt flour in my pantry, I chose this recipe from the Sweet & Natural blog for Walnut Chocolate Chip Spelt Cookies based off of Dreena’s Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. We had some extra coarse salt from Slovenia that I used for these and everyone agreed that they felt the salt was more pronounced than usual. We all loved the salt and dark chocolate pairing. The cookies were extra rich with a little from walnuts and coconut oil.

With all the cookies in my parents home (made them their instead of V’s because of the array of baking ingredients), my sister and mother proclaimed that their should be “no more cookies!” After the first night we had a few, I stuck the remainder of baked treats in the freezer for occasions they wished they didn’t declare such a bold statement. Although all my baked goods are vegan, this does not mean they are void of sugar or fat. In my opinion, plant-based fat is better than animal based any day and I also feel nature’s sugar (maple syrup, agave, etc.) is entirely acceptable every day of the week. Chocolate is something I have promised to treat myself daily and this notion will probably never leave my mind.

However, vegetables are another key component of my days.

or herbs…specifically basil, from V’s overflowing mini garden. This was Ashley’s great vegan walnut basil pesto with nutritional yeast. Instead of using the limited supply of the salt from Slovenia, I bought Pink Himalayan Sea Salt from Trader Joe’s that I saw on Kathy’s lunchbox bunch blog. She discusses both the good and the bad about salt here, but I have never had an issue with too much salt since I eat limited processed foods. I also tend to prefer raw unsalted nut butters and buy organic and low sodium canned beans (when buying canned).

The first meal with pesto was a random lunch of mashed avocado and pesto on toast with cherry tomatoes and two of my favorite sides, apples and broccoli. I still can remember the day I fell in love with simple mashed avocado on toast at my favorite nyc cafe, cafe gitane.

the kitchn

The French Moroccan cafe has become quite popular since my sister and I first found the nolita gem years ago. Most often, the wait is pretty long, but around the corner is the best NY designer consignment shop, INA. While waiting for a tiny table at cafe gitane, we often head over to INA to browse some of our favorite modern labels like Stella McCartney (meat free Monday fan) and Alexander Wang, as well as the classics like Chanel and Balenciaga. Cafe Gitane seems be attracting more and more actors. The last few times I have sat close to a few of my favorites like Elijah Wood and Michelle Williams. It is not only the simple yet delicious food that brings happy diners back, but also the casual european cafe atmosphere. When my sister sent me a text last week that she was eating street-side at Gitane with my mother, I envied them. I decided the closest I could get was to make some avocado toast. It was almost as tasty with the addition of pesto.

Another lunch in the last few days was a wrap consisting of leftover kale and mushrooms sautéed in tomato sauce with creamy hummus and baby spinach. Obviously, more broccoli and apple involved to round out the meal.

This sweetie asked me to write  about some of my favorite wrap combinations but honestly, the key components of most wraps I make are leftovers. My dinner tonight will most likely be turned into a wrap or salad tomorrow.

A shockingly bright spinach, carrot, cucumber, cherry tomato, and white corn salad with Angela’s addicting Better than Bottled Balsamic.

Okay, I am too addicted to the Veganomicon Chickpea Cutlets and need to make some new creations like Jessica’s butter bean or black bean cutlets. The simple seitan from the book sounds great too, but I just can’t seem to break away from the ones above. The sweet potatoes are another addiction I won’t be giving up anytime soon. I know you feel me on those!

I will end with my favorite meal of the day, Breakfast. Here are two that I savored in the last few days.

Overnight oat parfait with a banana, raspberries, and hemp seeds

Trader Joe’s vegan blueberry raspberry muffin spread with raw creamy almond butter and earth balance.

Other things:

-Have you been watching the World Cup? What sports, if any, do you enjoy watching on TV? I watched the US vs. England game with my boyfriend and father because my dad is such a “football” (soccer) lover. It seems like most Brit’s are. I remember one vacation to Hawaii, he stayed in the hotel room because the World Cup was on. Soccer and tennis are two sports I enjoy watching, as well as running (especially the Olympic marathon and track & field).

-Do you prefer baking or cooking more savory things? I answered this above but I realized today that I was a little over the baking bug. In the next few days I know there will be many more savory items to share.

-Do you have a restaurant or cafe that you have noticed has become increasingly popular? Do you space out your visits or save it for special occasions? As I wrote above, my favorite NYC casual eatery has become quite the trendy hot spot, however, I moved from NY since then so only get to go when in the city. I make sure to fit in a visit each time though.

-Also, I am curious if you get emails when I write responses to your comments. I hope so because I try to write back often!

stormy running thoughts

Posted in FITNESS, FOOD, RUNNING, VEGAN by clairedille on June 7, 2010

When driving home from work yesterday (no 9-5 type job here…probably ever) I saw a girl running a fast pace along the side of the wide six lane road. It was pouring pretty hard and the wipers were at full speed. At that moment, instead of feeling sorry for her for being caught in the rain, I wanted to be here. I wanted to be the one running what probably started as a hot run and finish it off with a nice refreshing downpour. I realized last night that I’ve been neglecting my inner-runner. There are so many times in my life I’ve been burnt out from over-training and injuries, mentally and physically. Sometimes I let those memories overshadow and I end up telling myself to be calm and not push it. When I talk of training for long races, such as a half or full marathon, to my boyfriend or family, they usually put in some words about it being a somewhat crazy thought considering I’ve chosen a career path where my schedule consists of 5-6 days a week of 14+ hours of running around. Those days are really physically challenging. However, they are not running challenging. Like most runs, each day I work is typically pretty different from the last. I’ve always known that my working life wouldn’t be one where I would be sitting at a desk too often, but that doesn’t mean that I should not honor my run cravings.

The blog world is a great one for so many to feel accountable, but I am not quite ready to put my new running goal out yet. For the first few weeks I’ve decided to see how my legs, feet, and mind feels about the two race options for the Fall and then will be open for posting about my personal training plan and goals. In the mean time, I want to share with you a few links that I have enjoyed recently involving one of my all-time loves, running.

Lauren from Health on the Run wrote great words about how to master the treadmill. Like many, I prefer to run outside, but there are many occasions that require treadmill runs, like extreme heat or stormy days. Even the time of the day is a factor for me. Sometimes my call time can be before or around 6am. I know that if I am training for a race throughout the summer, I will have to run indoors because it is unsafe for me to run in Detroit (where my boyfriend lives) super early. In Part One, Lauren goes over many tips for your form, speed, and mental endurance while on the treadmill. Part Two is all about negative split running, my preferred type of treadmill run. She also gives many suggestions that I know work, such as covering the display and using music as an aid.

Katie from Health for the Whole Self recently wrote two posts about running that I want to share. Although I have pretty much always been a runner, I realize that many haven’t and Katie gives 5 great tips for New Runners. These are things that I know definitely work because I have helped others begin running with emphasis on minutes ran over miles covered. When I have been injured in the past, I’ve had to start running with a walk/run method so that I don’t do too much too fast. That is a wonderful way for anyone interested in running to start.  In her own Exercise Story, she writes about how she has evolved as an athlete and how running became something she needed for mental clarity, not just fitness.

Hope you enjoy them.

Now, onto some simple yet delicious things I’ve eaten over the weekend…

Sitting on the loft ground is some rolled oats cooked with light coconut milk, flax, and half a frozen banana, sliced thin. Due to the lack of fresh berries, I topped it with organic wild blueberries and my favorite raw creamy almond butter (from Trader Joe’s).

Do you prefer wild blueberries over the bigger ones? I know I prefer the smaller ones. It may be too early, but I hope that I can find a few fresh ones growing along our dirt road on Martha’s Vineyard when we make it there in the next few days.

I made myself a wrap with the last of our grilled tempeh and local lettuce. Of course I had to add other favorites like hummus, avocado, carrots, and cherry tomatoes. This was eaten alongside a fresh juice of more carrot, cucumber, celery, lemon, and apple. It was too oddly colored for a photograph. My sister proclaimed that it looked “swampy.” Although it may not have looked so great, I felt completely energized for a visit to Best Buy to explore dSLR camera options.

I want to say a quick thank you to my photo guru, Jess (do you prefer Jessica) from Healthy Exposures, for being so amazing and sharing great camera advice. Her blog is inspiring for many reasons, not only her stellar photography, but also her foodie and horse love.

My sister headed back to Philadelphia yesterday, and we had to fit in one last tea time. We shared a snickerdoodle and oatmeal raisin. Both were delicious.

V and I went to Woodbridge pub one night over the weekend and played around with his vintage 35 mm camera while sharing a delicious organic Sauvignon blanc from Chile. I’ve said it before, but this is the one place I really enjoy in the Detroit area and I was even more impressed when the owner came outside to our table to talk to us. He asked us how everything tasted and told us that they will be having a new summer menu in the next week. V moved to his loft, just one block away from Woodbridge Pub a few months ago and we have been really satisfied by both the winter and spring menus. Luckily, every seasonal menu thus far has had this gem:

I really need to take some photos of the food soon but over the weekend, I had both of these dishes and loved them both.

Instead of our typical order of chips and seasonal salsa (roasted tomato in the winter and a tomatillo for the spring), we went for the grilled vegetable appetizer which was a great variety of fresh produce grilled to perfection. The grilled zucchini, fennel, and tomatoes were my favorite and the toasted baguette, well…delicious.

The Garrow Salad was another winner with the local greens (I spied some spinach!) and the apple and walnut combo. Growing up, I was not a fan of fennel, but recently I’ve really enjoyed its slight licorice-like flavor. The apricot dressing was truly delicious and paired wonderfully with the smokey roasted walnuts and slightly sour green apple.

Other things I ate over the weekend…

Organic kale that I steamed and then cooked with garlic, basil, and Whole Foods organic Roasted Vegetable Tomato Sauce. On the side I had made polenta and grilled eggplant. I forgot how much I love polenta and hope to enjoy it again soon.

Kale is such a favorite of mine. I could eat it throughout the week and tend to eat a bunch in a day or two.

Last night, after rushing home in the rain from work, I opted for a simple dinner on a sprouted wheat bagel. I wanted to buy the sprouted wheat, but it contained honey so I opted for the vegan vs the wheat-free. These Alvarado bagels have the same crunch as the delicious Food for life sprouted grain products, especially the english muffins. The toppings were random, yet delicious. On one side I had tofutti “better than cream cheese” with blueberry preserves because I will always love the cream cheese and jam combo. The other side was spread with some avocado and topped with an Amy’s bistro burger, one of my favorite vegan veggie burgers with an easy to read list of organic ingredients.

For the veg, I opted for local roasted asparagus, yum!

Chocolate had to be involved in this post somewhere and I am happy to report that I bought this lovely Endangered Species Smooth Dark Chocolate bar last night before driving home because chocolate had been absent from my weekend, and that just can’t happen.

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend and is ready for the week ahead.

Other things:

-Do you feel better about a restaurant when a chef or owner takes the opportunity to talk to you? Obviously it isn’t always possible for the head chef to come around to each table but I feel that when they get the chance, it is a great way to get some feedback and create a small relationship with the diners. I hosted at a very high-end restaurant in Boston during a summer in college and the chef and managers were very present. This is so important, in my opinion,  for a restaurant to obtain a loyal fan base. When young, we had a favorite Chinese restaurant in NY where the owners knew us well. When I feel like a relaxing night out, it is great to have a local place where those working know you.

-Are you a runner? Do you prefer other methods of exercise? The two most significant methods of exercise for me are running and yoga. I tend to favor them over strength training and other activities. I do love to walk with others in a beautiful place and will be sure to fit in some quality ones when we make our way east later in the week. Elliptical is my cross training choice most often, but would love to get more into biking and spinning.

Happy Monday everyone.

cherries and chocolate.

Posted in FOOD, VEGAN by clairedille on April 28, 2010

Growing up, I always had a fondness for the jarred maraschino cherries that my father would bring out when making cocktails. Around holiday time I would have the same syrupy cherries, but covered with chocolate. My grandmother would receive boxes of dark chocolate covered cherries every Christmas and she knew she could count on me to help her devour them. You see, I am not sure that I would care for them much now. As my taste buds have evolved over the years, I think that the sweetness would be a bit overwhelming (and well, fake). I do know one thing for sure, I still love cherries and chocolate.

Last night I prepared some overnight oats with almond milk, chia seeds, and chocolate amazing grass superfood (Teri wrote a great review here) based off of this recipe created by Angela. I chose to fill my bowl with a deconstructed version of a banana split. In the morning, I sliced the banana in half but when I saw it starting to break in half, I went with it and rimmed my bowl with the banana and filled the middle with the oat mixture. Channeling a banana split sundae with a cherry on top, I chopped up some frozen organic cherries and tossed them in a bowl with a small spoonful of Cacao Bliss. After melting the cherries and cacao bliss, I poured them over my bowl and made my way through the satisfying breakfast.

Although they might not look the most appetizing, the oats were so filling that it took me a bit longer to finish my breakfast this morning. With the warm weather approaching (hopefully!), I know that the warmer oats won’t be practical in the next few months and I am happy to find that I am just as satisfied with these.

Moving along…I have to share a cookie I made in the last few days that are out of this world, delicious. Isa‘s recipe for the Chewy Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies is a definite crowd pleaser. They have the perfect texture of cookies that I love most, not fluffy but chewy and even a tad crisp after sitting a few hours. The addition of dried cherries would also make this recipe even more tasty (if possible) but unfortunately I was out of my usual stash of Michigan dried cherries.

After snapping these photos in the sunlight, I nibbled on one and the melty chips and rich cocoa flavor made me think that I might not be able to find another cookie recipe I like more.

Are you a chocolate and cherry fan? I would love to hear about some more recipes that you enjoy with these flavors.