A Fresh Dille

I’ll be your sweetheart.

Posted in FOOD, VEGAN by clairedille on February 22, 2011

This is the reason I venture to Veggie Grill.

The Sweetheart fries are fabulous on their own, but the Chipotle Ranch is what really makes these so tasty. The dip is begging to be recreated at home. The fries are always well seasoned and perfectly hot and crisp.

Obviously there are other great things on the menu, but since I am not the biggest faux-meat eater, my past favorite order was a gigantic Quinoa-infused, “All Hail Kale” salad.  The kale is marinated with red cabbage, roasted corn salsa, agave-roasted walnuts with a ginger-papaya vinaigrette and blackened tempeh. It is so tasty.

This weekend, I opted for a new-to-me choice, the “Chipotle BBQ” wrap-style (usually sandwiches come on a wheat bun) consisting of shredded veggie-steak, marinated in tangy BBQ sauce, with chipotle ranch, caramelized onion, lettuce, & tomato. I guess I couldn’t get enough of the Chipotle Ranch.

As you can see, it was a tad messy, but delicious none the less. The more I eat seitan, the more I enjoy the texture. Although tempeh is still top on my list for veggie protein, it is great to try new things I wouldn’t make at home and this was a prime example. On the side I had some steamed kale with ginger miso dressing. That is another dip/sauce/dressing I need to make ASAP.

Originally, I was going to order the “Bali Bliss,” filled with Indonesian styled tempeh, sautéed and grilled, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and chipotle ranch, but V beat me to it. He requested his tempeh blackened and added avocado. That’s my kinda man.

Oh, and these should also be mentioned.

V had ordered one of his favorite things, Nachos, without me even hearing. Already pretty stuffed with sweet potato fries and half my wrap, I tried a few “Uptown Nachos” to see how the chili, VG-cheese, corn salsa, avocado, soy cream, and jalapeno topped chips tasted. The chili, avocado, and corn salsa were wonderful, but the “cheese” was a little too much for me. It kind of reminded me of velveeta or the type of “fake tasting” cheese they serve on nachos at sports events. V made his way through them though.

My sister was also in attendance, but I somehow missed a shot of her “Bean Me Up Chili.” It was a red and white bean stew with a touch of soy cream, and chopped green & red onion. The soup had crispy slices of toast on the side for dipping, and she said it was wonderful. That girl knows her chili too.

Never one to go without dessert, I ordered a large vegan chocolate chip cookie with walnuts for us three to split.

These were another winner and the perfect amount of sweetness after a filling meal.

Veggie Grill is the kind of place I really appreciate in LA. Not only is the menu entirely vegan, healthy, and filled with comfort-like food, but it is an ideal place for non-veggies as well. My sister and V seemed to enjoy their meals as much as I. We will definitely be back.

– Do you have good veggie places in your area? Are you hesitant to take friends and family with you in fear of it being “too healthy” or boring?

– What is your favorite type of Veggie protein?

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getting back to it all

Posted in FOOD, MAGAZINES, SHOPPING, VEGAN, WORK by clairedille on September 30, 2010

It seems like there is a lot of catching up to do these days. I don’t just mean within the blog world, but also getting back to things I love. I have a pile of unread magazine issues that I am beginning to tackle. It is quite overwhelming.

This morning, I made scottish oats (always make these over steel-cut oats when I want to eat sooner rather than later) my usual way. Miss Mandiee asked me about my cooking method and it is really similar to the method of preparing my steel-cut oats.

First, I add one cup water  and a sprinkling of salt to a small saucepan and cover it to boil on medium high heat. Once boiling, I add 1/4 cup scottish oats and lower the heat to very very low. Then I add in 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or another plant milk like coconut) and cover it for five minutes. Scottish oats take 20 minutes to cook compared to the thirty minutes it takes to prepare steel-cut. I add in thin slices of banana, chia seeds (1 Tablespoon), cinnamon (1/2 teaspoon), and a splash of vanilla extract throughout the twenty minutes. If I feel the oats thicken too much, I add up to 1/4 cup more of water. In the last five minutes of cooking on low heat, I chop the fruit of choice. Today I added 1/4 cup of pumpkin instead of water to my scottish oats and then added some stevia in the last few minutes of cooking. I then poured it into my bowl and topped it with strawberries, a chopped fig, and some raw almond butter. Honestly, oats really are the breakfast that keep me satisfied all morning. On days I go without for fun meals like pancakes and waffles, I become hungry much sooner. At least we can have a little excitement with all the add-ins to our morning bowl (cup, plate, mug) of oats.

I promise I don’t only eat bowls of oatmeal.

Falafel is one of my favorite foods, and I used an epicurious recipe earlier in the week to prepare a lot of mini falafel.

Although they may have baked a little too long, they were still delicious. In the last few days, I have eaten them both in wraps and topped on salads.

The shot above may give you a (big) hint to the movie that took over my man’s life all summer.

I made stuffed peppers utilizing a few leftovers, particularly butternut squash and whole wheat couscous.

One of my favorite blog ladies, miss Ashley at edible perspective has a great looking recipe here for stuffed peppers. I followed her method for the peppers and then stuffed them with cumin, coriander, cayenne spiced scallion couscous, red onion, butternut squash, and tomato paste.

Surprisingly, V doesn’t love peppers and I ate these alone. Even garnishing them with avocado, his favorite food, couldn’t get him to eat one. He did eat these though.

Kale chips are quite addicting and he has been known to eat a whole bunch himself with little to no help from myself. Notice the charming item in the background of that photo? Yes, that is movie “blood”  on our table. We eat on a kitchen island in our apartment but the only place with light after 7 p.m. (other than the roof deck) is the table against the window that has been covered with all our work items.

Rather charming, eh? Really, “blood” is one of the main reasons I say our jobs are far from glamorous. Although I love working with clothing, covering them with blood is one of my least favorite parts. I just did three days as an additional costumer on a horror film and there was a little too much time spent in an incinerator room around “bloody body part” props for my liking.

Getting back to some savory eats…

Last night I made Kathy’s Smoky, Sticky, Sweet BBQ Sauce. This stuff was good, finger-lickin’ good. Although the sun had gone by the time we ate, I managed to shoot one photo of the covered tempeh.

On the side, we had Kathy’s Quick Sweet Potato Mash, switching in our chives for the onion. The cayenne added a lovely kick we both enjoyed. There was a simple salad consumed as well.

Since this is such a photo heavy post, I will show one last meal. Today I made a spinach salad topped with bbq tempeh, our tomatoes, avocado, mung sprouts, leftover butternut squash, and radishes from our neighbors garden.

This is a perfect example of a meal featuring local greens and veggies that will make me miss summer produce so much.

Oh, and one last shot of something I am getting back to…

My fashionable self has definitely gone to the wayside and a few new purchases have been made to make up for the lack of shopping for myself in the last few months. Shoes are definitely one of my fetishes and I apologize if you are not into feet. Wedges are ideal for days I want the height but don’t want the discomfort from wearing heels. I am limited to flat closed toe shoes when on set, so I tend to stray from my flat boots and vans when not working. Yesterday I hit up the mall in these and was felt 100% myself. I got a nice new blazer (by one of my favorite simple lines, T by Alexander Wang) to dress up jeans and my favorite skinny cargos.

Tomorrow I hope to be back after some baking therapy, now that I got in some good ole’ retail therapy.

banana bread & bbq’s…

Posted in FOOD, VEGAN, WORK by clairedille on July 23, 2010

Oh blogging, how I’ve missed thee. This week has been anything but dull. The first week of filming always brings surprises and I’ve been running around all day (and night for the last two days) for 12 + hours. Food-wise, I have been pretty disappointed with the catering because the vegan options are limited to vegetables and bread only for the most part. When call times have been as early as 6 a.m., oatmeal is not prepared, who am I kidding? Yesterday however, our call was a little past 2 p.m. (calls are in 6 minute increments) so I made some steel cut oats to travel to set with. Since I only awoke a few hours before because of a late night/early morning, I knew I’d want breakfast to be my first meal considering it was my favorite. When arriving to the new location, our wardrobe trailer was M.I.A,. which meant I sat in a parking lot with piles of freshly altered clothes while eating my warm oatmeal in the 85 degree weather. That wasn’t so lovely but at least I had something delicious to eat. The catering truck only had turkey burgers and hot dogs and although it was past lunch in real-life schedules, it was only breakfast for us. “Lunch” was six hours later as usual and I was out picking up lots of petty cash for the entire wardrobe department. Let’s just say I didn’t feel entirely safe walking around with thousands of dollars of petty cash in downtown Detroit past sunset. But when I made my way back to set, I grabbed a plate of the veggie options on hand. After letting catering know the day before that I don’t do meat or dairy, they told me the options would be better last night and they were. I should be better at packing snacks by now though after learning that the only vegan options on Wednesday were corn (off the cob, probably canned, and white bread). Thursday’s meal had the first vegetarian protein yet, vegetarian baked beans. They also had a salad without mounds of parmesan poured on like previously, and fresh corn on the cob. I was much happier but still am worried about my lack of protein this week. I’ve only been packing raw food bars, such as Larabars and Pure bars, and been munching on all the fruit and veggies I can find at craft services near set (and bringing my own since ideally, organic would be best). I hope I didn’t overwhelm you with all the cons of eating in the film industry. Although some think it is glamorous, it really can be anything but. I was on a dock in the pouring rain until 4 a.m. this morning and when I came home, I crashed…hard. Today is the first time I’ve had a chance to come onto the computer to post and I miss blog reading like crazy.

So let’s talk a little about the good food I had last weekend.

Both nights of the weekend, we have made use of our new weber grill. Since V slept until dinner time on Saturday because of working until the a.m., I made sure to prepare a few things I know he loves. Ironically, he prefers kale chips over sweet potato fries. That is fine with me considering sweet potatoes are pretty much the ideal food in my mind.

Kale is one of the leafy greens I have in my possession most often. Spinach is the other. When our new neighbors told us they had a small garden in the city where they grow Kale, we confessed our love of the veg. We’ve been given two bunches already and used one for Kale chips Saturday night. The other simple components were sweet potato fries, chips and guac (a staple from a local mexican market nearby close to V’s heart), veggie and bison burgers, corn, and veggie kebabs. The last two were saved for the following night since we were already rather full by the time we had munched our way through the rest.

(please excuse my dirty Vans, I was running work errands all day)

The simplicity of this meal is pretty ridiculous, but sometimes it doesn’t take much to make your taste buds happy. Just give me a few of my favorite veggies, and I will usually be happy. Avocado, being a fruit, is definitely one I can eat daily. My daily apple and banana are others.

The weekend mornings involved stove-top oat making, since finding out our call times would me much too early for me to prepare oats for this week.

The plum I had bought was probably too firm, because it didn’t compare to my recent favorite peach topped oats. The blueberries were up to par, as always, as was the Naturally Nutty Cinnamon Vanilla Sunflower Butter. Into the pot went steel cut oats, coconut milk, half a banana, cinnamon, vanilla, chia seeds, and a pinch of salt.

Later, while V was still sleeping, I made banana bread with the bananas that were on their last leg.

the black hole in the center, caused by my impatience while testing its done-ness. oops.

This wasn’t just any banana bread, but Amanda’s Blissful Banana Bread. When V finally woke up from his slumber, he ate two pieces on the spot. We are both completely in love with this bread. I can’t believe the tiny amount of sweetener used either. Instead of picking up maple syrup the other day, I bought sorghum syrup by mistake. After searching my way around the internet to reassure myself it wouldn’t completely destroy Amanda’s recipe, I found it was similar to molasses. Since molasses are more potent that than maple, agave, honey, etc., I halved the amount of sweetener needed. It still was adequately sweet, dense, and tasty. Into the mix went sliced almonds and raisins. They added great flavor to the already wonderful bread that I need to make again soon. It has been eaten many nights (or early morning) after work by both of us and the loaf is long gone.

Another meal involved pizza on the grill. I’m still extremely interested in making my own dough, but the night before the first day of work, I was getting pre-shoot jitters and opted for the already prepared dough. V had two/thirds with all the same veggie toppings as myself, with extra cheese on top. I then cut off a third for myself and added the mozzarella daiya to try. It was much better than the cheddar I’ve tried previously, but I still think I prefer cheese-less pizza. Growing up, I wasn’t ever a pizza person, and would prefer focaccia, flatbreads, and even pasta when having italian carbs.

The dough was pre-cooked and then topped with Eden pizza-pasta sauce, the local company that is non-BPA and GMO free. Of course I made use of Angela’s Garlic Scape Pesto that I saved for the pizza topping and all the herbs in our little roof top garden. We had basil, rosemary, and chives that I added to the sauce  mixture. The kebab veggies from the previous night were chopped up and placed on top. There was red pepper, mushrooms (for me only), red pepper, and yellow and green squash.

The corn that was grilled the night before wasn’t the best and this is probably because we couldn’t find any local farmer’s market corn. Although organic, it was from far away and that is  not the best when it comes to corn, is it? The pizza though, was great. We both loved that the crust was chewy and crusty and the flavor of the fresh herbs and garlic scape pesto really brought it to the next level. On the side, we had a spinach salad with cucumber, carrots, avocado, and sesame seeds. On top, I later poured on Angela’s better than bottled balsamic, a favorite of both of ours.

Hopefully I can get in the kitchen more this weekend. My camera is being used by one of my coworkers so I can’t even post a few measly oats pictures today.

In the meantime, I would love to hear about some of your favorite made from scratch pizza dough recipes. If you have any recipes online, send them my way!

Oh, and I’d love to hear some of your favorite simple meals as well!

ciao for now.

still platin’

Posted in FOOD, VEGAN by clairedille on July 13, 2010

The oats situation isn’t letting up…

Before heading out for work errands today, I knew that the only breakfast that would satisfy me would be the Scottish oats I finally picked up. Again, they were plated to ensure no overheating while eating them. We went to one of the larger Whole Foods in Michigan on Saturday after working until the early evening and found all sorts of goodies.

After the realization that I also love steel-cut oats, I now have two favorites. Scottish Oats are quicker on the stovetop than steel-cut oats and create a wonderful fluffy texture when cooked with lots of water, almond milk, chia (or flax) seeds, and half a banana. Of course I always add cinnamon and vanilla as well, but I also usually add a tiny amount of stevia for a touch of sweetness. Since I was out of my NuNaturals stevia and couldn’t find any at the store, I picked up a new sweetener that V picked out.

Today, I tried one half teaspoon in my oats but didn’t feel it sweetened them as much as my usual packet of stevia. This Vivagave powder clumped when heated, similar to stevia, but had even smaller granules. I may have to try adding this after cooking so that it spreads more evenly. Another way I sometimes sweeten my oats is with banana mashed with splash of maple syrup.

Often writing that I am sad to finish off pints or more of berries, it is quite silly considering that I make sure to pick up more as soon as I know that I am almost without. The raspberry container was the one that went today, but I still have many blueberries and peaches to fill up my oats for the next few days. The butter topping of choice was coconut butter that I made sure to swirl around my oats soon after photographing. I won’t pretend that anything else compares to oats in the morning. They really do the best job at staving off any morning hunger and please my taste buds at the same time.

Another place we had to go this weekend for work and apartment (mirrors for fitting rooms) essentials was Ikea. It seems that we have yet to make a trip to Ikea without picking up more jars. V is just as into them as I am and bought large ones for all our rice and dried beans. My favorites are the little ones that I’ve filled with nuts, seeds, and the granola I made yesterday.

Nothing compares to my Salvation Army Ball Jars though. The classic jars sit lined up on my shelves with all my lentils and grains. We didn’t seem to have any dried fruit for granola except for dates which resulted in some googling for a recipe. One of my all time favorite sites, Epicurious, was the place I found a recipe for Chunky Date, Coconut, and Almond (Pepita) Granola. Although not as good as my favorite recipe, it sure is a tasty crunchy granola.

Thank you for all the Vegan Pizza topping suggestions. I am saving them for a pizza planned in the next few days using these…

garlic scapes. Angela’s garlic scape pesto will most likely be involved.

Other things:

-Although I am disappointed the Netherlands lost the final World Cup game, I found the game pretty unexciting. I had much higher hopes for the game and felt it was kind of a let down. There have been much more thrilling matches in the past (2006 France vs. Italy, etc.) and Sunday’s was just a dirty game with no real power play moments. Did you watch? Were you excited or disappointed?

Have you ever had Garlic scapes? Any other recipe suggestions using them?

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movin’ up

Posted in DESIGN, FOOD, VEGAN by clairedille on June 25, 2010

In the morning, V and I are moving upstairs to a larger loft apartment and instead of packing up our things post work, I decided it would be an appropriate time to tackle seitan. This lady wrote a wonderful explanation of how to make a small serving of seitan, so tonight had to be the night.  I must admit, I’ve been rather apprehensive about making it since I am not the biggest fan of “faux meat.” However, I really trust Jessica’s judgement and already adore Veganomicon’s Chickpea Cutlets which feature vital wheat gluten, the main component of seitan.

I followed Jessica’s instructions and added some chives V has been growing. When he came home from work, he thought I was cooking meat, something I haven’t done in years.

The only other time I’ve tried seitan was at Candle Cafe, where I really enjoyed it in sandwich form. For dinner, I decided to switch things up and make use of the end of our farmer’s market veggies by serving it with soba noodles and the last of a pack of udon.

Kale, onion, mushroom, and bell pepper were cooked in sesame oil, rice vinegar, and tamari.Then I mixed the veggies with the noodles, seitan, and scallions to round out the simple meal we both savored.

Now we must relax before a full day of moving, World Cup watching, and V’s pre-shoot party. Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Other things:

-Have you ever tried Seitan? I would love to hear some opinions and ways you like to eat it if you are a fan.

Home design inspiration here (minimalism done right with white, green, black, and neutral) and here (such a charming home with some kitsch). Where do you go for home decor ideas? Since we are moving into a much bigger space, I am really interested in all different aesthetics right now. Do you have a certain design aesthetic? I love all types of styles and creating a mixture of industrial, natural materials, vintage, mid-century, minimalist, ethnic, etc.

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produce & peanut butter.

Posted in FAMILY, FOOD, VEGAN by clairedille on June 21, 2010

The small local Farmer’s Market I went to today near my parents house has to be one of my favorites because of one farmer. After picking up my bounty of organic vegetables from him, I wished I had snapped a photo of him. He is everything you would imagine a farmer to look like. He is overly tan with a scruffy beard, and wears cutoff shirts when it is stifling and flannel on the chilly mornings. His stand is the last on my route around the market, and today I only had a few peppers before making my way to his station. Upon reaching his veggies, I noticed he was nowhere to be found. After a quick glance around the market, I saw him running toward me with a big smile on his face. This guy knows how much I love my greens. There were garlic scapes, romaine, kale, collards, chard, radishes, and snap peas. Since V and I are working a lot and moving towards the end of this week, I made sure to not go overboard.

My fondness of peas is because of my father’s influence, without a doubt. I have delightful memories of sitting next to him shelling english peas from their fibrous pods at our summer home. Snap peas, the less fibrous variety, are a vegetable I prefer to eat raw. They do make a great addition to a simple stir fry, but eating them fresh is especially refreshing.

Oh, radishes… what an awfully beautiful vegetable with the perfect crunch for summer salads.

Kale is a vegetable that I just can’t say no to. I adore it almost always. In fact, my mother once asked me which foods I could eat daily and kale was one. Chocolate was another, of course. The small bell peppers were too adorable to pass up.

These warm days are upping my raw veggie consumption and everyone around me is always amazed when they see me make massive salads only to claim them as my own.

This showcased the farmer’s market romaine, radishes, and snap peas. Cherry tomatoes and cucumber were also thrown in there before it was tossed with Goddess Dressing. Leftover Indian from our early Father’s Day dinner was served on the side for lunch. Last night, I ordered Chana Saag (chickpeas and spinach) instead of my usual, Channa Masala. Although it was tasty, it didn’t compare to my favorite. Dal was also ordered and I used a brown rice tortilla to scoop up the two Indian dishes and eat with my hands.

Although not incredibly photogenic, the Indian dishes were better than the night before. The spices seem to become more pronounced after a night left in the fridge.

Since my family proclaimed there would be “no more cookies” allowed in their house, I was weary of baking but the craving was there. Let’s just say, I went for it. A new recipe was tried for Peanut Butter Cookies and everyone seemed to forget the ban they had made on these little delicious treats. Heidi Swanson’s blog, 101 Cookbooks, was one of the first I stumbled upon when entering the online foodie world. I have yet to buy her beautiful book, but have tried many of her recipes with much success and rave reviews all around.

Before baking, I made sure to use a large fork to create the criss-cross that makes a typical peanut butter cookie appear different from all other cookies. The recipe was one of the simplest cookie recipes I’ve found, containing spelt flour, maple syrup, baking soda, peanut butter, olive oil, vanilla, and salt.

For an afternoon snack, we ate them with the delectable So Delicious Coconut Milk.

Watching the World Cup with my father, combined with baking, didn’t leave much time for dinner. The recent sale on Rising Moon pastas at Whole Foods made for an easy dinner. Many of the Ravioli’s are vegan, and my weird desire for warming winter squash meant that the Butternut Squash would be the ravioli of choice. Kale and orange bell pepper were cooked with some basil, olive oil, tomato sauce, and garlic and then poured onto the pasta.

‘Twas a scrumptious meal.

Thanks so much for the kind words about the photos I included in my last post of my father. It is funny that a few mentioned he looked like Steven Spielburg since he is a director for commercials, not film. He is such a creative individual and aspire to be like him everyday. His stubbornness and drive are two things that have rubbed off on me tremendously throughout my life. I only hope to be as happy as he has been with his choice in line of work. He always told us growing up that he just wants us to be happy in all aspects of our lives, and I am unwilling to stay in any situation where I don’t feel content. He makes sure to travel abroad each year, even with his busy schedule, because he knows it is one thing that has made him most happy throughout his life. I can only dream that will be possible in my future because I miss it dearly.

Other things:

-A delicious looking Radish Salad recipe on Tartelette.

-This Chilled Soba with Tofu and Sugar Snap Peas recipe sounds absolutely delicious.

-These two raw recipes using bell peppers are wonderful: Gena’s “Cheese” Sauce and Averie’s Raw Vegan Kale Chips (you can bake them too).

-Make your own Chana Saag from Vegan Dad’s blog or some delicious Channa Masala.

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!

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some of the delicious eats from yesterday:

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

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

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

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

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

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

-All women need 10-12% essential body fat

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

-Fit women should have 21-24% body fat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(source)

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

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

A Healthy Body Fat Percentage for Runners

Female Athlete Triad Coalition

American Family Physician: The Female Athlete Triad

WebMD: The Female Athlete Triad

Now back to the eats…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other things:

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

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

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

gluten free number three

Posted in FOOD, VEGAN by clairedille on May 4, 2010

Lunch rolled around before I knew it and a visit to Whole Foods to pick up some Gluten Free baking ingredients was the perfect excuse to grab some lunch. I had stowed two small apples in my purse and was craving these delicious spring rolls. A few weeks ago, I tried these Whole Foods rolls for the first time and have been searching for rice roll wrappers ever since. I am not sure how they make these if they don’t sell the rice wrappers but after asking an employee, it was clear they did not have them in the store. I just might have to find a specialty Asian grocery store soon.

The basil I had brought from V’s was used to prepare vegan pesto for dinner. I used Ashley’s recipe as a guide, but used the traditional basil and pine nut combination.

I had never made a pesto this bright green before and I think that the nutritional yeast Ashley included in her version made it so beautiful.

Unfortunately, the gluten free noodles I had purchased did not work out as planned. I was surprised to find they had completely broken apart while cooking within a few minutes. This was a fail and I had to switch them for buckwheat soba noodles last minute.


A tablespoon of pesto was whipped with silken tofu before tossed with the warm noodles. I also sautéed kale and mushrooms with oil and balsamic vinegar to eat with the pesto noodles. In the fridge, I found a few sun dried tomatoes that I chopped up and added to the top for some sweetness and lycopene goodness.

‘Twas delicious…

To finish off my third day Gluten Free, I ate half of my favorite Endangered Species dark chocolate bar.

Other things:

-I don’t like the way my photos look at night without natural lighting…do you care about your photos not turning out as planned? Do you think that I should post these unflattering shots?

-Could you go a week without dark chocolate? I don’t think I could go more than one day…expect a chocolate post like this one soon.

Goodnight!