Friday, May 28, 2010

Feelin' Hot Hot Hot

Out in Colorado it's supposed to be 90 degrees today. Somehow, seemingly overnight, we went from getting a foot of snow to 90 degree weather. Unfortunately, after going through the whole winter without even a hint of a sniffle, I have contracted a cold. What the heck?!

My favorite ways to soothe my symptoms (hot drinks, hot showers, hot soups) don't sound that fantastic in blazing summer heat. On top of that, it's a 3 day weekend! I've been pounding those smoothie drinks like Naked Juice, Bolthouse Farms, Odawalla, etc. that have large quantities of vitamin C. I drank one this morning that was 2000% of my RDV of C. I am determined to blast this bug right out of my body.

One of my favorite things about summer is being able to eat cold treats. I love ice cream, smoothies, etc., but I don't really feel like eating them when I'm freezing my butt off during the winter.

Alas, this is the first summer where no dairy is allowed. How will I survive? Well I found this cookbook, Ani's Raw Food Desserts, where she has some ideas for raw ice creams. Mine is a variation of one of her recipes and is sooooo good.

(Almost) Raw, Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream
- 1 c soaked cashews
- 1 c water (not the soaking water from the nuts)
- 1/2 c dates (I used medjool)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- handful of chocolate chips (I didn't have raw cocoa nibs, so this is why it isn't raw)

In a blender, preferably a high powered one, blend cashews, water, and dates. Blend until it's a smooth consistency. If you have a normal, kitchenaid type blender like me, you may have to blend for a bit, scraping down the sides occasionally.

Once it's at a very smooth consistency, add the vanilla. Blend for a couple of seconds to combine and give it a taste. If it needs more vanilla, add it. If it isn't sweet enough for you, add more dates, etc.

Pour the finished mixture into a tupperware container. Add the peanut butter and chocolate chips and mix them in. Pop into the freezer for a hour or so. After an hour, you can transfer it to your ice cream maker, or you can just mix it up, and put back into your freezer. If you decide to do it by hand, you'll need to take it out every hour or so to mix it up. When I'm ready to eat it, I like to let it sit in the fridge for 30 minutes to thaw a little bit.

This made about 2 servings. P and I sat down and ate the whole batch between the two of us. Very tasty, very easy, and healthy for you too!

Unfortunately, we ate this so quickly I forgot to take any pictures of it. If you are familiar with Dairy Queen, it looked a lot like a chocolate peanut butter cup blizzard.

This recipe is pretty easy to customize for your own tastes. If you want mint chocolate chip, add some mint extract and chocolate chips. For chocolate ice cream, add some cocoa powder. Coconut? Could be awesome... The variations are endless!

Now if you excuse me, I'm going to go back to laying on the couch while watching 30 Rock. Have a good holiday weekend!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Weekend Cooking

I don't know about you, but it's usually the weekends when I decide to make something involved for dinner. It's hard to get motivated to spend significant time in the kitchen making something brand new during the week. It's after work, weeknight shows are on, etc. etc. Plus you never know if this new, involved recipe, will turn out as a total flop.

Last weekend, our local grocery was having a sale on potatoes, 10 lbs for a dollar. I sent my bf out to purchase some and he came home with 2 bags (we already had some potatoes in the fridge). Now I'm looking through all my cookbooks and favorite sites to see what I can make with potatoes. There's always the classic baked French fries, roasted potatoes, baked potatoes, etc. etc., but I don't want to eat 20 lbs of French fries.

I did however, come across gnocchi. I've never had homemade gnocchi before. I've only first had it recently (in the past year or so) and each time it was either at a restaurant or from a box. Gnocchi is surprisingly vegan; you only need flour and potatoes. Some recipes also call for egg and butter, but you really don't need that. The key with good gnocchi is to get as much of the water out of the potato as possible. You do this through a series of steps, which aren't very complicated.

I decided to bust out a batch yesterday to see how it goes. I served them with pesto sauce.

Gnocchi with Pesto
- 2 lbs of potatoes (~2 large russets or 4 smaller potatoes)
- 1c bread flour (you can use WWPF or All purpose, however the higher gluten content will help the dumplings stay together)

- Your favorite basil pesto recipe (I like the one from Vegan Planet)

Step 1: Bake the potatoes
Set your oven to 400F. Wash the potatoes and pierce with a fork. Then take a knife and lightly score the potato with an "X" at each end. Connect the X's along the side of the potato. This will make peeling the hot potato a lot easier when they are done.

Pop into the oven in a baking dish. I did not wrap mine in foil as I wanted the potatoes to dry out as much as possible. Cook for 30 minutes. Flip them over. Cook for another 15-30 minutes depending on size. The potato should be easily pierced with a fork when done.

Step 2: While you're waiting...
While the potatoes are cooking those last minutes, set up a pot of boiling, salted water. Salt should not be added to the dough, as that will pull moisture into the gnocchi, which we don't want. Instead, to get the seasoning, you will want to generously season the water.

Also set up a bowl of ice water near the pot.

Set up a floured surface to create and roll out the dough. Flour a plate, where you will set your raw gnocchi. Get out a fork to roll the gnocchi on (to get the ridges). Get out your ricer, grater, or food processor with grater attachment.

Step 3: Prepare the potatoes
Now that the potatoes are done, quickly peel the potatoes while they are still hot. You will probably need a dish towel to help you handle the potatoes. If you are having trouble peeling the potatoes, you can use a veg peeler or the back of a knife to help you out.

Once the potatoes are peeled, ideally, run them through the ricer. If you don't have a ricer, grate them. I was having problems getting them box grated, so I popped them in my food processor with the grating attachment.

Once grated, spread out the potato on a flat surface so the steam can come off (try not to compress it, you're just giving the breathing room it needs to air out). Leave for 15 minutes.

While you're waiting, make sure all your stuff is ready to go.

Step 4: Dough
Once the potato has cooled a bit, you can now make the dough. You want to use as little flour as possible to get a good dough you can roll. Basically you're getting it to a point where it doesn't stick to your hands or work surface.

Pull all your potato into a flat ball. Put a 1/4c of flour over it and work it in. You should work it in like pastry dough, rather than kneading it. You don't want to overwork the dough. Once it's worked in, continue to add in 1/4c at a time until it reaches the right consistency. I only used about 2/3c of flour.

Pull a chunk off the dough ball and roll into a long, skinny tube, about the diameter of your finger. Cut into 3/4 inch "pillows". Roll the cut piece down the back of a fork to get the ridges and place in floured plate. Once you have enough of them, put in your pot of boiling water. They will sink for 30 seconds or so. Once they pop up, let them boil for 1 minute. Scoop out with slotted spoon and put in ice water bath. Let sit for 30 seconds. Scoop them out with slotted spoon onto a dish. Repeat until all the gnocchi is made.

At this point is where you can either combine with sauce or freeze them for later use. From what I have read, freezing the raw dough (pre boil) doesn't turn out so great when you reheat. Instead you should do the initial boil and then freeze.

I popped my finished product into the fridge until dinner. If you're making sauce, save some of the potato water. The starchy water makes the sauce stick better to the pasta.

For dinner, I pulled out my thawed basil pesto and put in a hot pan with the gnocchi. Once heated, I added a couple of ladles of potato water. I let it simmer for 7 minutes or so. I made a side salad of spinach, sprouts, sunflower seeds, and raspberry vinaigrette. Very tasty!

The gnocchi was a little softer than I remember it being at the restaurant, but I wonder if that was due to my food processor method, vs using a ricer. I'm going to go investigate my local thrift store to see if they have one.

For dessert, we had a delicious, practically raw, chocolate chip and peanut butter ice cream. Directions to come in my next post!

Question of the day: What would you make with 20 lbs of potatoes?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Best Part of Waking up is Breakfast

I love breakfast. Sometimes I want to go to bed early so I can enjoy breakfast sooner. I love every part of it: pancakes, waffles, French toast, roasted potatoes, cinnamon rolls, fruit salad, smoothies, oatmeal, granola, tofu scramble, it's all delicious.

I was never a big fan of tofu scramble until I found this recipe:

It was so good. I like to mix in whatever veggies I have lying around like sliced mushrooms, zucchini, green pepper, etc. It's all brilliant. The sauce part makes a lot, but if you freeze it, you can save it for another tofu scramble day (or put it on some veggies during dinner).

French toast is also a weekend favorite, especially when it's topped with fruit and maple syrup. The egg free version is as tasty as I remember. I basically leverage another recipe from

The mixture is 1 cup plant milk (I prefer almond), 2 tbsps of whole wheat pastry flour (WWPF), a 1/2 tsp agave syrup, a dash of cinnamon, and a half tsp of vanilla extract. Mix it up in a shallow dish (like a pie tin). I also like to toast my bread before I dip it in the mixture, so help prevent it from becoming mushy.

On the weekdays, I keep the breakfast creation a little simpler. I typically pick either oatmeal, muesli, or granola. Practically every day during the winter I ate granola I made myself.

Recently I've been rediscovering my love of oatmeal. When I used to make oatmeal for myself (not from instant packets), it was always the same: oats, water, raisins, cinnamon. Eating that day in and day out can get a bit boring. It wasn't until I started following Chocolate Covered Katie's blog that I started to see oatmeal as more of a foundation to create delicious breakfast meals.

I recently made oatmeal with ground ginger, lemon zest, and blueberry jam (all fruit). So tasty and interesting.

When the days start getting warmer, I like to eat muesli instead (ie basically cold oatmeal). I take out a bowl the night before and put in:
- Rolled oats
- Raisins
- Nuts/seeds that float my boat (almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.)
- Spices (cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg)
- Almond milk to cover the oats

I put in the fridge overnight covered with plastic wrap. In the morning I may add a little more almond milk, maybe some sweetener (agave or maple syrup), and/or fresh sliced fruit (berries, bananas) and chow down. The oats will have absorbed the milk and turned it into a creamy consistency. Very tasty.

Question of the day: what's your favorite breakfast meal?

Last night I spent a good amount of time updating my resume. It's good to occasionally take the time to look it over, add any new information, etc. even when you're not actively job searching. I will say writing a resume as an experienced professional is a bit harder than doing it for college. Trying to capture what you do at work that's important and sounds impression can be a little difficult.

Even after I finish, I like to send it to a couple of people to see if they have any feedback. Everyone has their own style when it comes to resume writing, so it can be a challenge to pick and choose what you want to incorporate into your final version.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Abused by the Internet

Last night I somehow accidentally downloaded malware while looking for haircut ideas. This one was a crafty bugger too, preventing me from going online, throwing errors that looked like they came from Windows, etc. It kept saying my computer was infected and I should buy this antispyware software immediately. Luckily, I have many more computers at home and was able to dig up directions on what to do to get rid of the crud infecting my system.

However, while my computer was going through a scrubdown, it did make me ponder what happens to people who maybe aren't as savvy as I. People like my gma. Would she just have purchased the software? I'd like to think she'd call up my parents or someone to get help, but you never know. The approach must be lucrative enough to keep these shady people in business.

Today I went running and got lost in suburbia. I've been trying to get up to 4 miles this week, and I did out a route on to make sure I could hit that number. Unfortunately, while I was running I made a few wrong turns and ended up taking a completely different route, a route that was more like 3.25mi rather than 4. Oh well. I did get to see some fun things while running, like kids playing at the elementary, a house with a bunch of those fake animal statues (why, people?!), etc. Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

I've eaten some delicious foods in the past couple of days. The other day I whipped up a super easy salad that was surprisingly delicious. I was inspired by Susan at Fat Free Vegan and her Taco Salad.

C's Taco Salad
- Tomato
- Green pepper
- Red onion
- Garlic
- Jalapeno
- Lime juice
- Cilantro

- Lettuce (your choice, I used red romaine, though any sort of mixed greens would do)
- Avocado
- Spicy vegetarian refried beans

Make a quick salsa out of the first ingredients. I didn't include measurements as it depends on what you prefer and how much you want to make. I used about 1 roma, a fourth of a green pepper, an eighth of a large red onion, 2 garlic cloves minced, fourth of a large jalapeno, a couple of tablespoons of fresh lime juice, and a couple of tbsps of cilantro. Let the salsa marinate for a few minutes.

Put lettuce on a plate. Cut up avocado into chunks and mix in. I also mixed in some cilantro into the greens. Scoop out some refried beans into a bowl and mix it up (sometimes there's moisture at the top of the can that needs to be worked in). Add to the top of your lettuce. Top with salsa. Enjoy!

To make even easier, you could top with premade salsa. The fresh stuff from the grocery would work best, though some from a jar would work too.

This meal was very tasty and very easy to make.

Afterward, I made some almond joy balls, based off of the idea from Chocolate Covered Katie. Very yummy.

Question of the day: Has your computer ever been infected? How bad was it?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Oatmeal for dessert? Brilliant!

I've discovered the best easy, yet healthy dessert: oatmeal!

Okay, not just oatmeal by itself, because that's a little boring and bland, definitely not something my taste buds dance for. However, when you mix it with chocolate, peanut butter and maybe a bit of agave or maple syrup, well that's magic.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Maple (CPBM) Oatmeal

- 1/2c quick oats
- 1 tsp - 1 tbsp of unsweetened cocoa (depends on how much you like dark chocolate)
- 1 generous spoonful of peanut butter
- water or plant milk
- maple syrup

Put oats into microwave safe bowl. Add cocoa and dollop of peanut butter. Use water or plant milk of your choice to cover oats. Pop in the microwave for 1-1.5 minutes. Take out and mix. Top with drizzle of maple syrup.

You may want to test for sweetness before you dig in. Depending on how much cocoa you put in, it may be bitter, requiring more maple syrup (or agave).

Fun fact: did you know that quick oats are just rolled oats cut into smaller pieces?

Running continues...
Today I ran for another 3 miles; I'm so proud of myself. It's becoming easier, so yay for that. The one thing I hate is my sore calves the next day. How long should you wait to run (if at all) if your calves are killing you? I always wondering if I should not be running at all, running a shorter distance (which is what I typically do), or ignore the soreness all together and do another 3 miles. I feel lazy if I don't work out at all, plus I have a dog who needs a walk/jog/run regardless if my legs are tired or not.

I'm pretty excited for tomorrow; I'm volunteering at work to supervise (read: babysit) 4th and 5th grade girls while they're visiting our company. We do a Girls Tech Camp every year for a day to teach girls about how fun math and science can be. It's a really awesome program that I'm pleased my company does. I've helped 3 times in the past so far; the girls are lots of fun. It doesn't hurt that I also get to take time off work to do it.

Question of the day: What do you like to volunteer your time to?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

My mom is out of town for my sister's college graduation. I'm watching the two aging pups for my parents instead. Don't worry though, I made my mom breakfast last weekend when we returned from Belize. We had a vegetable hash and some banana crepes; quite tasty.

Are you doing anything special for Mom's Day?

The past couple of meals I've failed to take pics of, however I did create some yummy breakfast pancakes yesterday that everyone can use for Mother's Day!

Banana Oat Pancakes:
1c rolled oats

2 ripe bananas
1/2c almond milk
1/2c water
2T oil
1T maple syrup
1/2t vanilla

1/8-1/4c flour (preferably whole wheat pastry flour, though AP will work)
2 1/4t baking powder
1/4t salt
1/2t cinnamon
1/4t nutmeg

Take oats and blend them in food processor or high powered blender into a flour. Put in a large bowl, set aside.

Take bananas, almond milk, water, oil, maple syrup, and vanilla and blend in the food processor until liquid.

In bowl with oats, combine flour (you may need more or less depending on how fine of oat flour you created and how big your bananas are), baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix together.

Pour liquid into the dry and mix together. Try to avoid over mixing.

Heat large skillet on medium heat. Spray with oil if necessary. Once heated, pour the batter into skillet into pancake sized rounds. I like to spread them so they cook evenly by skimming the top with the spoon. Flip when sides are dry-ish.

Serve with warm maple syrup.

These pancakes were delicious. It was nice to make them with oats because at my mom's house they only have AP flour, and I've been trying to avoid white flour and other "white" foods (white sugar, white pasta, white rice, etc.).

I've also recently had Snobby Joes from Veganomicon, one of my favorite easy, healthy recipes. Had some baked French fries and some arame salad from Chocolate Covered Katie. I don't know how I feel about the arame salad; I think I need to try a different dressing. It isn't bad, it just doesn't make my taste buds dance.

Yesterday we saw Iron Man 2, which I enjoyed. It seemed to be on par with the first Iron Man. Make sure you stay through the credits to see the sneak peek. We always sneak in candy from a drugstore; I had a bar of dark chocolate. I really miss Junior Mints.

What's your favorite candy to sneak in to movies?

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Not the grass covered pottery, but the super healthy seed, chia! I found some in the bulk bin at my grocery store and decided to try it. I had only saw it online in passing regarding raw desserts, but didn't think anything of it. Then, lo and behold, there it is, sitting in the bulk bin, so I decided to buy a bit to see what I could make out of it.

A little background on the chia seed, these little guys are a powerhouse of healthiness. They are the richest plant source of omega-3s. They contain more calcium than milk, more fiber than bran flakes, more antioxidants than blueberries, and are a decent source of protein. They can also help with weight loss if you're into that sort of thing. Many people mix them with foods, which adds more heft to the meal, without adding calories. I've seen recipes to mix it with fruit jam to make more "jam" without adding additional calories.

Another cool property of chia seeds is that they can absorb 9-10 times their weight in water, similar to flax seeds. They can be used in place of flax seeds in baking. They can also be used to create a chia gel in about 10 minutes. It's about a 6:1 ratio between the liquid and the chia seeds, however you may need to play with it depending on how thick you like and what else you want to add to the gel.

The first thing I tried making was chia pudding. Basically I took a cup of almond milk, tsp of cinnamon, a 1/4 tsp of nutmeg, a handful of raisins and 3 tablespoons of chia seeds and put them in a jar (an old mayo jar). I shook it up and put it in the fridge to sit for an hour or so, shaking again half way through. I dumped it into a bowl and dug in. It was a creamy, delicious dish without having to spend a bunch of time making rice. It's raw as well, which is a bonus. Super easy and super tasty.

I also made an extremely yummy Mexican salad last night that I proceeded to inhale. I may even go back to the grocery to buy more ingredients to make it again. It was the Raw Corn and Black Bean Salad with Avocado from Fat Free Vegan. I added some fresh cilantro to the salad which really went well. It didn't make that much, so I'll have to make it again soon.

For breakfast this morning I had a blended grain porridge with millet, almond milk, blackberries, and cardamom (that Katie and her blended grains are brilliant!). I then took my stick blender and whipped it into submission, which turned it to a fun purple color. I topped it with some left over parfait topping (dates, walnuts, coconut) and some maple syrup. Mmm!

So the question is, what will you be making from chia?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Want to read my diary?

Strange thing number...5? I forget what number I'm on. It doesn't really matter.

I keep a food diary.

Even I think it's weird. I've always thought food diaries were for crazy people who want to count calories or have a weird eating disorder, but actually they are quite interesting. If you're anything like me, I have a hard time remembering what I ate even only a couple of days later. Keeping track of it is good to see if you're leaving some kind of nutrient out. It can also be helpful to see how your moods or physical ailments correspond with what foods you ate that day. You may feel blah one day because you didn't eat any fruit, etc.

Keeping track of what you eat also helps decrease random snacking on bad things. My bf kept a food diary for a few days to try it and he said it prevented him from eating random cookies from the break room, chips, etc. because he'd have to write it down. It made him think a little bit more about what he was actually ingesting.

Since I've started trending towards vegan, I also find the food diary helpful to make sure I'm not leaving anything out, like B12 from nutritional yeast, etc. It also gives me a resource to look at for when people ask me, "What do you eat?" I also think food diaries play to my love of lists. I love lists and crossing them off, or using them to see what I've accomplished. I even have a large list of all the books I've read and whether I liked them or not. I know, I'm weird.

Training Continues

I continued on my quest to run a 10K. Today I jogged/walked 3+ miles! Go me! I walked a little in the middle because my dog pooped for a second time, and along the way the bag must have fallen out of my pocket. I had to run to the baggie station on the trail I was on to get one and then I used the time to walk back and cool off a bit. I think I'm going to have to start running a little earlier to avoid the powerful rays of the Colorado sun. Even T was panting (which hardly ever happens).

Last night I had a delicious dinner, I was quite impressed with myself since I haven't been to the grocery in about 3 weeks. I'm really scraping the bottom for meal ideas. We have next to no produce left in the fridge.

I whipped up a batch of Fat Free Vegan's bean burgers (the ones with chipotle, but minus garlic because I didn't have any), some millet, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots topped with leftover cheeze sauce, and some applesauce with cinnamon. The burgers had BBQ sauce (Veganomicon recipe) and some guac. I have a ridiculous amount of avocados in my fridge because they were on sale at some point and I bought a ton of them.

For dessert I made these nut pudding parfait things from a recipe in The 30 Minute Vegan. It was heaven in my mouth. When I have desserts, I'm going to try and focus on the raw ones, since they are so tasty and yet so good for you!

For breakfast this morning, I had some millet topped with leftover parfait "granola" and almond milk. I also made a weird smoothie with an avocado, pineapple and its juice, lime juice, and frozen peaches. It tasted good, but it was a weird color.

The question is, what am I going to do for food tonight?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Run Forrest, Run!

I want to start training for a 10K. I don't even really like running that much, though I will say that since adopting my dog over a year ago, I run a lot more. We don't have a yard, so if I want to take her for her daily constitutionals, I need to take her for walks around the block. She goes for about 2-4 walks a day. Since I'm going to be doing it anyway, I've started throwing on a sports bra and shoes and just running the walk instead.

However, the distance for these runs are rather pathetic. I do a quick jog around the neighborhood which is a little less than a mile, hardly a 10K. So for the next month or so, I'm planning on working up to that distance. I'm not sure how long I'll be able to run with T though. She's a goofy dog where she likes to do our jogs as a quick trot. As the temperature continues to grow warmer, she typically becomes slower and slower. Spending 6 miles trying to prevent her from sniffing, peeing, and lagging behind will grow tiresome. I stay optimistic though.

Today I did a little longer run, 1.5 miles according to WalkJogRun. Hmm, that's pretty sad amount. I'll have to find a longer route to try. I'll amp it up tomorrow. I need to get back in the swing of things after not doing pilates for 2 weeks and not running for a week while on vacation.

This morning I had a new breakfast of strawberries and oatmeal with a hint of vanilla. I blended it with a hand blender which turned the oatmeal into an awesome pink color.

Lunch was some leftover veg curry I had froze and a peanut butter-craisin wrap. Mmm!