A few days ago, I found myself with a cold I couldn’t shake off. But when Danielle told me she would be stopping in Michigan for a day, I knew that I wanted to drive to Ann Arbor to see her. It was the perfect excuse to “feel better,” try a vegetarian restaurant I had yet to visit, and meet a friend I feel like I have known for a few years. My blog began over two years ago after studying abroad in the Netherlands and traveling around Europe. Around that time, I found Danielle’s blog, where she often wrote about traveling, food, and many things I love. Since both of our blogs origin’s, our lives have changed tremendously, and it was great to finally meet her in person. Her drive across the country has been well documented on her blog, and I am so envious. She has been to many American cities I have yet to explore these last six weeks and it was wonderful hearing her go on about each one.
I had to whip up a batch of my favorite chocolate chip cookies to give her for the last leg of her drive. Who wouldn’t want a big fresh chocolate chip cookie on a road trip? Hopefully she doesn’t get chocolate on the steering wheel.
Ann Arbor, home of University of Michigan, is probably my favorite small city in Michigan. It doesn’t just feel like your typical college town, but has a lot of charm, artistic venues, and good places to eat. Seva was a place I’ve known about for a while. Since moving back to Michigan, I have learned about every vegetarian restaurant in the state. Of course I can eat at most restaurants, but the state really lacks vegan friendly restaurants compared to all the other places I’ve lived in my life. It is a good thing that I love to cook because I really do miss the cafe’s and restaurants of New York, Boston, and Amsterdam.
Naturally, I was more than happy to try Seva for the first time. Upon arrival, I was greeted by smile from Danielle and a delicious glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Although I wanted to try a wine flight, as Danielle did, I still had a 45 minute drive home. Food-wise, we both felt like stir fry’s, which may not have been the best decision. She opted for a stir fry from the Special Menu:
Thai Style Stir Fry – Stir-fried broccoli, red & yellow peppers, mushrooms, mung sprouts, carrots and green onions served over organic brown rice with a Thai-inspired sauce of coconut milk, lime juice, garlic, ginger, chili, fresh cilantro and ground pistachios, garnished with sesame seeds.
It may have been the lack of my usual taste buds due to my cold, but her dish was deceptively bland for supposedly including creamy coconut milk, garlic, ginger, chili, and cilantro.
My choice was the Cilantro Peanut Stir Fry – Stir-fried broccoli, red & yellow peppers, mushrooms, mung sprouts, carrots and green onions with a spicy cilantro-peanut-ginger-lime sauce, over organic brown rice, with roasted peanuts.
There were many different dishes on the menu that sounded tasty, but I think we both went with what we assumed were “safe bets.” I’ve done this at other veggie restaurants in the past, with both failure and success. My dish wasn’t awful, but I honestly felt I could have created the same stir fry myself at home with a little more flavor. The ginger was the most abundant flavor in my dish, and I am feeling much better now, maybe because of it.
I’ve enjoyed both flavors in the last two days and am pretty sure that it was the caffeine in the Empower bar that kept me going during my run today.
After a somewhat bland meal on Wednesday night, I craved a meal with Indian flavors the night after.
Cauliflower is V’s vegetable of choice, and sweet potatoes are mine, which meant that this was a meal that was sure to please both of us. Flipping through the October issue of Vegetarian Times, I found a recipe for Indian stuffed Flat Breads that were filled with coriander spiced onion and jalapeno peppers. I probably shouldn’t have healthified them with spelt flour, but I was out of all-purpose and hoped spelt would suffice. Although tasty, they were rather heavy and not as satisfying as a pillowy piece of Naan (need to make these ASAP).
We dipped them in roasted red pepper hummus, but both agreed a curry would have been the best accompaniment. Too bad I already had kale chips and roasted veggies in the oven. I just wasn’t in the mood to slave over the stove creating a warm curry. However, I was very happy with the result of the vegetables we did end up with.
Indian Spiced Roasted Cauliflower and Sweet Potatoes
1 large cauliflower, chopped
1 large sweet potato, chopped
2 shallots (or 1/2 onion), minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T oil (I used grapeseed)
1 t ginger
1 t cumin
1 t coriander
1/2 t turmeric
1/2 t cayenne
1/2 t garam masala
1 t salt
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat large baking sheet with cooking spray or parchment paper.
-In a large mixing bowl, mix chopped vegetables with oil. Then add spices and mix well.
-Pour onto baking sheet and roast 30-35 minutes, until vegetables are turning brown, but are still firm.
Of course, there have been oats in my life these past few days.
Yesterday’s were steel-cut oats that I made my usual way with almond milk, half a banana, and chia seeds. Before taking them off the stove top, I mixed in some roasted maple cinnamon almond butter and then topped them with and half and end of season peach, strawberries, and oats from my apple crumble topping. I must have been missing summer fruit.
Last night I made Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats again with a mix of rolled and quick oats.
My batch differed in quantities than before, so here it is:
- 1/4 cup organic quick oats
- 2 T rolled oats
- 2 T coconut milk yogurt (leftovers from cake recipe)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/4 t vanilla
- 1/2 t molasses
- 1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
- 1 t chia seeds
- 1 t ground flax seeds
- pinch of salt
In the morning I mixed in half a sliced banana, T of raisins, and a small spoonful of both pumpkin butter and raw almond butter. What a lovely way to start the day this was.
Then I had the grand plan of making homemade granola bars. I don’t want to place blame, but all was well until V insisted I add Spirulina. Word of advice: if something smells remarkably seaweedy, don’t add it to a somewhat sweet recipe.
This all looks like it has potential right?
Not so much.
This black-green-brown granola bar was something I couldn’t even eat. Just one Tablespoon of this amazing source of B vitamins ruined my granola bars. I could tell post mixing, when I was left with a bowl of black covered oats. The cocoa powder, brown rice syrup, and peanut butter couldn’t mask the flavor. I think V is in denial about it because he refuses to claim to taste it. Lets just say I have wrapped them up very well in parchment paper and a glass tupperware so that I can keep my distance. Maybe he will be stubborn enough and make his way through them, but I doubt it.
To make up for a few kitchen flops, I have some yummy meal ideas for the weekend and potential life changes on the horizon that I would love to discuss on the blog if all goes well. In the meantime, lets discuss brownies since I haven’t made them in a long time.
-Do you have a favorite brownie recipe? Do you stick with a classic or add in some interesting ingredients like pumpkin, black beans, applesauce?
-Have you tried making brownies with a different flour than all-purpose?
-Oh, and favorite granola bar recipe out there? I know you have some to share… chocolate chips, cherries, walnuts, peanut butter…all good places to start.
happy friday! have a lovely weekend!
During high school cross-country season, I always looked forward to the one run we made to the cider mill. We would drive a few cars over to leave parked in the parking lot so that our stomachs wouldn’t be filled with apples, cider, and apple cider doughnuts on a run home. The run there was about four and a half miles, but the best part was that instead of running with the few other top runners, I could have a more relaxing run with the entire team following. The warm bag of cider doughnuts I would bring home for my family were so tasty and reminded me of the small cake-y doughnuts my mom chose once a summer when we would go to Humphrey’s on Martha’s Vineyard. I was always a doughnut hole girl myself as a child. We only went 1-2 times a summer and never throughout the year, so it wasn’t until high school that I realized that I might also enjoy the more cake-y variety of doughnut. I was more than willing to take V for his first cider mill trip to the Franklin Cider Mill today (okay, I may have begged him).
Of course I made sure to get in some fuel for the trip and switched up my usual warm oats for Angela’s Pumpkin Pie Vegan Overnight Oats. I mixed in half a banana and topped it with some crumbled banana bread and melted roasted maple cinnamon almond butter. Considering the temps were up today, the colder breakfast was fitting and I was delighted with every spoonful.
But there were apples, cider, and doughnuts to get to…
The empire apples have a frosted look I am enchanted by. Other great news is that all the apples are organic.
And I was told they were perfect for baking. I’ve been very anti- fruit dessert my whole life. This was probably because my father was entirely pro- fruit dessert and I needed another reason to rebel against his food and make things difficult like that. After seeing Ashley’s post about pie and Nicole’s Galette, I’ve been inspired to change that. Seeing that apples are a fruit I eat almost daily on their own, I can’t imagine I wouldn’t be smitten with an apple dessert.
V asked why I didn’t clean them and honestly, I like the way they look with this matte-like finish.
The other two we picked up were Jonathan (the two on the left) and Honeycrisp (two on the right). I wanted some Jonathan for baking as well, but V made sure to squeeze in a few Honeycrisp for snacking after an employee let him sample one. Little did he know that I already had a few at home in the fridge from a recent farmer’s market trip.
The Franklin Cider Mill Apple Cider is made with Honeycrisp apples and I found it pretty sweet. I prefer my fruit juice mixed with some veggies, but I am sure it will go wonderful with some sparkling water.
But more about the doughnuts. Due to the fact that I am now vegan, I decided to opt out on eating one and got a few for my family and V. Instead, I have some work cut out for me:
Smitten Kitchen’s Apple Cider Doughnuts (not vegan, but beautiful!)
A Dash of Compassion’s Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts (okay, I need a muffin pan, but these sound easy enough)
Herbivore Dinasour’s Apple Cider Doughnuts (using a cookie cutter is right up my alley)
The Gluttonous Vegan’s Apple Cider Doughnuts with Cinnamon Sugar (fried, but I’m sure they are worth it)
Vegetarian’s Times Mini Apple Cider Doughnuts (cause you gotta’ throw in the Veg. Times for good measure and the mini doughnut pan is too much fun)
So there you have it, instead of writing about running as I planned for today, I mostly spoke of apples and doughnuts. Hope you didn’t mind. Now I have some dinner to attend to.
-What is your favorite variety of apple? Apple dessert?
-What are your thoughts on doughnuts? Do you like yeast or cake doughnuts more? I’ve never had a dunkin /commercial brand, but I am pretty sure I’m not missing out on much.
Hope you have a splendid weekend!
it is almost June? I can’t seem to grasp the fact that spring is coming to a close and summer is in the horizon. I should be completely aware by now, especially considering that the last week has been ridiculously hot. Have I ever mentioned that I am not the best person in heat? I feel weak, lose appetite (cranky? not me…) and more. The cooler, more moderate temps are what I prefer. One day last week, I was sitting at a shoot in 90+ degree weather for a few hours and when lunch rolled around, I couldn’t imagine eating a warm veggie burger. It also didn’t help that the caterer (whom also catered the last film I worked on) was flipping all burgers with the same spatula and tossing them around the grill, whether they were meat or veg. When working, I try to bring my own snacks, but the larabar and coffee breakfast was not ideal for me to sustain on, so I ate with the rest of the crew and hid any disappointment. The music video was for a pretty big “rocker” and I didn’t want to be the one complaining or asking the caterer to cook mine separately when they were already prepared.
Just a little rant…please excuse me.
Over the last few days, I have managed to fit in a few quality breakfasts.
This was rolled oats cooked in coconut milk, with frozen berries, banana, flax, and a raw almond butter and banana topping. Luckily, on this morning, the air conditioner was on so I could still enjoy some warm oats.
Over the weekend, I made Banana Blackberry Spelt Pancakes that didn’t fluff up as hoped but were still very delicious. V didn’t have any baking powder at his house so this was a simple coconut milk, spelt, flax mixture that I topped with a maple-coconut syrup.
Today, I had banana soft serve overnight oats that contained rolled oats mixed with an almond milk, coconut milk yogurt, chia seeds, and cinnamon and finished off with raspberries and almond butter blended with delicious banana soft serve.
Other eats that were enjoyed:
Yesterday, I decided to try the Daiya Cheddar “Cheese” I had finally found at Whole Foods. Back in the day I was a huge tuna melt fan, so I thought a good tempeh bacon, mushroom, and onion melt would be a good choice for lunch. Due to the lack of bread, I used a sprouted burger bun that worked wonderfully. Unfortunately, I didn’t plan well and piled spinach and avocado on top of the cheese so it may be hard to show the melting capability of this vegan “cheese.”
Many people have been raving about this “cheese” for a while now but I can’t say I loved it. Maybe it is because I haven’t had cheese in a long time, especially of the cheddar variety, and felt it was too intense. It probably comes closest to real cheese of all the vegan cheeses I have tried in the past though. Still wanting to try the Mozzarella flavor, I will be attempting to recreate this tasty looking combo this upcoming week.
The only other documented meal was last night’s dinner which involved red quinoa, spinach, black lentils, mushrooms, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and veggie broth. It was just what I was craving, and it did not let me down.
I wish I had more photos of yummy eats to share but a few were eaten on the fly or out before my first baseball game ever. Can you believe a New Yorker and someone who went to college in Boston had never been to a game before this weekend? Most can’t either…
Tonight we have a Memorial Day feast planned at my parents that I plan on sharing with you all tomorrow. I hope everyone has been having a wonderful weekend!
-Have you tried Daiya cheese yet? If so, did you prefer one variety over the other?
-Do you love hot temperatures or prefer milder ones?
ciao for now.
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.
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:
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.
-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.