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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Darbster's does it again!

I have to open with this picture because just when I thought I loved Darbster, I had this and now I'm officially obsessed!!! Chef Seth, you've really outdone yourself this time. I hope you add this to your menu (I'm begging!) because I am having withdrawals already and it's only been a week! (Also- I apologize for the picture... there is a piece of sushi missing because I ate it... sorry, I just couldn't help myself.) Ok, let me just calm down and explain. This AMAZING dish was a special last week. It's Spicy "Tuna" Black Rice Sushi with Wakame Salad. It was made with roasted organic beets as the "tuna," sriracha mayo, and tempura avocado in a nori wrap. Now, all you non-vegans out there, please don't be turned off by the beets. I actually have grown to love beets so I had no problem with it, however, if you think you don't like beets then I'd be willing to bet a LOT of money that this dish would change your mind. I don't even know where to start.
It was spicy, SO flavorful, and the tempura avocado was this delicious, creamy little bonus in the middle. Then with the soy sauce and spicy sriracha mayo on the side... oh, just stop it!!! It's insanely good. I've been dreaming about it ever since that night. The sushi was the star of the night but I also have to mention the soup AND dessert I had. Equally as great, I started with the Smokey Organic Split Pea Soup. The flavor and texture was right on! It was smooth and creamy and full of great flavor. It was a breezy night on that deck so it warmed me up perfectly. Split pea soup is one of my all-time favorite soups and needless to say, Darbster, once again, did not disappoint!

In addition to the food, one of the things that I just love about eating at Darbster is the casual, peaceful atmosphere. It's outside, beautifully landscaped all around and there are always fresh flowers on the tables which I LOVE! To me, there's nothing more tacky than silk flowers (that are dusty more times than not) on a table where you will be eating the most amazing food. So I'll get right to the dessert now. I really hate that I tend to overuse OMG, but I'm sorry... OMG! Oreo & Creme Cheezcake (gluten free). You had me at Oreo. Yes, we'll take one with two spoons please! Seriously... if you're wondering if vegan cheezcake is really that good, stop wondering and go get yourself a piece! Hurry! YUMMMMMMMMMMMM!!! You can just see the texture and yummy layers of flavor in this cheezcake. It was the perfect balance of cream-cheezy and chocolaty flavors. Wonderfully rich.... it was really hard to share this one!

Last week I also went to The Raw Kitchen in downtown West Palm Beach for lunch with Claudia and Tracy. I had a Groupon so that really helped because it's a tad on the pricey side. It's pretty new and small, yet welcoming inside. I ordered the Pasta Primavera which was fresh zucchini spiral spaghetti, marinated in olive oil and a hint of garlic then topped with a variety of seasoned organic vegetables and basil chiffonade. They brought it out and it looked so colorful and delicious, however it needed a sauce I thought. Once I got past the vegetables on top I was just left with the raw zucchini that was cut in the shape
of thin noodles. I love the idea of the zucchini noodles though. Claudia ordered the Pad Thai. It was thin, flat zucchini noodles with julienned vegetables, savory-sweet almond sauce with a touch of serrano pepper. The sauce on this was was really good! I ended up ordering a side of it to put over my noodles. And you ought to know by now, I almost always order dessert. This time we ordered the Chocolate Coconut Parfait, a delectable chocolate mousse, fresh coconut, goji berries and vanilla cream. Now THIS was great!! The mousse was so rich! The three of us split this, well actually Claudia just had one bite and then Tracy and I polished it off. I'm just thankful that it's all the way downtown and not so easy to "swing by" and pick up some mousse! For my first raw dining experience I thought it went well. I'm definitely not opposed to raw meals, but I doubt I could eat raw all the time. Sometimes I want a little tempura avocado with my sushi!! :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hummus shmummus

It's only Thursday and already I have so much to share! Getting right to it, I gathered my shopping list to make 3 little recipes for the week, spicy black bean "hummus" (I will explain the air bunnies* in a minute), bok choy and Chinese mushrooms over soba noodles, and Asian edamame salad. All are pretty basic recipes so I made my veggie list and hit the produce stand. This week I treated myself and went to Rorabeck's on Military. It's pretty much out of the way for me but I just happened to be in the area. I much prefer it to the one near my house! I know this sounds nerdy, but I just love being there and looking at all the great colors and fresh vegetables. You find yourself picking up peppers that you don't even need for a recipe. And their apples are just gorgeous and huge! There's just something about a huge mound of lemons that makes me happy and reminds me of summer.

*Refer to the Kiss me, I'm vegan blog to find out about air bunnies.

I walked in and filled my bag with all the veggies I needed for the week, and some fruit. I bought 5 baby bok choy, a bunch of green onions, garlic, a shallot, some lemons, 3 plums (not pictured), a hunk of ginger, and a huge jalapeno. My total came to $4.47! I get home and get everything unloaded when I realize that I forgot to buy an avocado. Bummer! So I wasn't about to go back to the produce stand for just one avocado when there is a Publix within walking distance. I go to Publix, pick out my avocado and go to the checkout. I almost fell over when I saw the total on the screen. $3.69 for ONE measly avocado!!! Are you kidding me?? I almost didn't buy it because I was so outraged... but I really needed it. How irritating though!!

The first thing I made was the black bean "hummus." The reason it's called "hummus" is because the word hummus means mashed chickpea. So technically this recipe isn't hummus because it's made out of black beans, but who cares, right? Hummus-shmummus! I was very impressed with how this turned out. It is definitely my favorite hummus so far!! This is a MUST try!  It's hearty and spicy, just an all-around satisying dip.  Ok, I'm a nerd and arranged mine on a plate with the perfect amount of hummus on a corn tortilla chip and a piece of avocado to top it off. I then squeezed some lime over all of it and hit with with some salt. The flavor combo was great!! I think these would be super-simple little finger-foods for entertaining.  And no, you can't taste the olives, all you olive-haters!  It just adds some saltiness.  I used pitted kalamata olives.

Spicy Black Bean and Olive "Hummus"
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
10 black olives, pitted
1 small jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame tahini
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Paprika or chili power for garnish

Add the beans, olives, pepper, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper to a food processor or blender. Process or blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Garnish with paprika and serve. Yield: 1 1/4 cups

The second recipe I made was Asian edamame salad. This was so simple. It can be enjoyed as a side dish or served over a nice, leafy salad. The tangy, Asian dressing is full of great flavor. It contains toasted sesame oil, one of my favorite flavors! This is too good and too simple not to make from time to time. It's a perfect snack to keep in the fridge.

Asian-Inspired Edamame Salad
8 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
16 ounces frozen, shelled edamame
1/4 cup seasoned or plain rice vinegar
1 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 carrots, shredded
2 tablespoons sesame seeds (raw or toasted)

Place the water and salt in a soup pot, and bring to a boil. Add the edamame, and cook for five minutes. Rinse immediately with cold water, drain well, and set aside. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, tamari, agave, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add the drained edamame to the bowl, along with the carrots and sesame seeds. Toss well to combine. Chill at least two hours or overnight. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Yield: 3 cups

If you can't find frozen edamame for this recipe, which is what happened to me, you can use the pre-cooked edemame that is vacuum-packed and just skip all the prep for the beans. Just make the dressing and toss together with the carrots and sesame seeds! By the way, I'm still mad that Publix didn't have frozen edemame! They had at least 5 or 6 different brands of lima beans but not one kind of edamame. Very annoying!!  Both the hummus and the edamame salad recipes came from Color Me Vegan.

I found this next recipe on I made my own adjustments and it was a winner for sure!!! This is the closest to that real, yummy Chinese take-out that you can get, only it's a billion times better because you know what went into it. Soba noodles go great with this but you can also serve it over rice or any other grain.

Bok Choy & Chinese Mushrooms
1 1/2 cups vegetarian flavored broth (I used this to reconstitute my mushrooms first, then re-used it to saute the onions and garlic)
2 green onions, sliced thin, divided
1 largish clove fresh garlic, minced or pressed
1" piece fresh ginger, minced or pressed
8 - 12 oz mushrooms, cut to 1/2" pieces (I used 8 oz fresh shiitakes plus 1/3 oz dried procini mushrooms which I reconstituted in vegetable broth to yield about 4 oz of mushrooms)
5 baby bok choy, quartered (use stems and green parts)
2 tablespoons cornstarch + 1/4 cup cool water
Salt and pepper to season

1. Pour broth into skillet. Add 1/2 green onion, the garlic and the ginger. Saute for a few minutes, then add the mushrooms.
2. Add the bok choy, reduce to low heat and cover. Steam bok choy for 5 or 6 minutes.
3. Thicken the broth with corn starch mixture. Make it slightly thicker than you want the sauce to be, since the moisture from the boy choy will thin it a bit.
4. Serve over soba noodles or rice.

That's pretty much it as far as recipes I tried for the first time. I am going to need another blog entry to share my next restaurant reviews!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

What up, yo.... gurt?

Before I went vegan, one of my go-to breakfasts during the work week was yogurt with some Kashi Go Lean cereal on top. It seemed to keep me full until lunch. So when I went vegan I was experimenting with different types of non-dairy milks with cereal. My two favorites turned out to be rice milk (original flavor) and almond milk (vanilla). I love the lightness, and for lack of better words, wateriness, of the rice milk. I thought it had a nice, neutral flavor and went well with cereals. The almond milk was slightly sweeter and thicker. The thickness still kind of creeps me out. It feels like I'm drinking coffee creamer or something. After trying out the different milks I moved on to yogurt. The best thing about yogurt is that it's grab-and-go and already in a container, which makes it perfect to have before or at work. I went to Whole Foods and found the yogurt section. It is literally a wall of yogurt. So many different brands and flavors, how would I ever decide?? I picked five. One made from rice, one from almond, one from coconut, and two from soy; all strawberry flavor.

I put all five to the test to find the best brand out there that, in my opinion, was the closest to the yogurt I was used to eating made from cow's milk. All 5 were graded on taste, appearance, texture, nutritional value, and price on a scale from 1 to 5; 1 being poor and 5 being excellent. The brands tested were Wildwood Probiotic Soyogurt, Silk Live! Soy Yogurt, SO Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk Yogurt, Ricera Rice Yogurt, and Amande Cultured Almond Milk Yogurt. After sampling all of them over a week's time, the results are in! I'll go from worst to best.

#5 - Ricera Rice Yogurt -- I have no choice but to start off with YUCK! It scored the lowest in the appearance category. I bought strawberry flavor and it was the grossest shade of pinkish-brown. So NOT appetizing. It makes it hard to enjoy when you can't even stand looking at it. It totally tasted ricey; like someone put rice into a blender. The texture scored in the middle, not good, not bad, as was the price. The plus sides here are that it's low in fat (1 gram) and you get 20% of your daily value of calcium. It's overall score was a 2.4 out of 5.

#4 - Wildwood Probiotic Soyogurt -- The packaging on this one boasts high fiber, which is true. It had the most amount of fiber, 5 grams. However, this was NOT GOOD! It scored the lowest in the taste category and highest in the price category ($0.99). It's texture and appearance were actually very good, but I was unpleasantly surprised when I tasted it! It had a very sour, pungent flavor. I could barely tell it was strawberry. One other plus (which does not mean I'm recommending it) is you get the most protein, 7 grams! Just eat some extra beans or tofu, trust me on this one!

#3 - SO Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk Yogurt -- I was actually really sad that this one only came in 3rd place. I really liked it. It scored very high in taste and highest in appearance and texture. You are also getting 25% of your daily value for calcium with this along with 30% DV of vitamin B12. It's relatively low calorie, 140 calories. Yes, that seems high for a yogurt, which is why I said relatively. I have found that most vegan yogurts average about 150 calories per cup. So this was somewhat on the low side. BUT this big downfalls here are 6 grams of fat and only 1 measly gram of protein. Not exactly worth your time for breakfast. Major bummer.

#2 - Amande Cultured Almond Milk Yogurt -- This one was pretty average. It has decent nutritional value, but has slightly less sugar and slightly more protein and fiber than the coconut one had. In fact, I think it's safe to declare #2 & #3 a tie. I preferred the taste of the coconut one, but this one was slightly more nutritional. Not much to really say about it. It tastes a lot like almond milk.

And the winner is......

#1 - Silk Live! Soy Yogurt -- Scoring the highest in the taste category, the Silk brand had the most genuine yogurt taste, and let's be real, taste really is the most important criteria (second to nutritional value of course). With this one you're getting only 2 grams of fat and 4 grams of protein. Also, 30% DV of calcium and 50% DV of vitamin C ain't bad! The price was a little on the low side at $1.09.

So there you have it, folks. I know you will all sleep much better tonight knowing I have taken the guesswork out of shopping for yogurt.

And just a little bonus restaurant review for you now... I went to Mellow Mushroom in Delray today. The place was very cool. Great atmosphere. It has a big menu that is sure to please everyone. They even had some vegan options which is always nice to see. They had Diaya cheese as an option for pizzas (or an anything else that you would want cheese on or in). I was very excited because when I had the grilled cheese at Darbster, it was made with the "cheddar" Daiya cheese and it was great! Since we were ordering a pizza, they used the shredded Daiya in "mozzarella" flavor. We ordered a mushroom, onion, and sun dried tomato pizza with vegan cheese. It came out and looked awesome! The service was great as well. So I grab my slice and take a bite. My first reaction was "well this is different." The texture of the melted Daiya cheese was kind of gooey and it stuck to my teeth a little bit. The flavor was just okay, I thought. I couldn't tell if it was the powerful flavor of the sun dried tomatoes or the cheese, but something was a bit off. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't great either. I think next time we order a pizza we'll just skip the cheese all together and pile on more veggies. Super cool place though. I'll give Mellow Mushroom another try.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Kiss me, I'm vegan!

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!! I wanted to do an Irish-themed blog for St. Paddy's day so I figured I'd make a drink. After all, it is what the Irish do best. However this is a drink that you will feel much better about the morning after you shake your shamrocks! GREEN SMOOTHIES!!
This was my first green smoothie, and I can promise you that it won't be my last! I spent some time searching online for green smoothie recipes and there are literally hundreds of different recipes. Since I am the queen of indecision, I figured I'd just make my own. And not to toot my own horn ((TOOT TOOT!!)) but I did good. Here's my special concoction.

Jenny's Green Gulp
1 green apple
2 kiwi
1 frozen banana
1 mango, diced and frozen
1 small cucumber, peeled
1/2 bag of spinach leaves
1/2 to 1 cup of water, depending on desired thickness

Put it in the blender and blend away!

In my searching online for smoothie ideas, I read that fruit and veggie smoothies are a great way for your body to absorb a lot more nutrients! When you just eat vegetables in their whole form, your body is only able to absorb so much. When you throw it all in the blender, everything gets pulverized and many more cells of the vegetable are opened up so when you drink it your body absorbs much more. Plus, it's an EASY and delicious way of getting half a bag of spinach in you, plus all the other stuff you put in it. It's also totally fat free! The only other ingredient besides fruits and veggies is water.

This occasion calls for a good 'ol Irish toast.
May the winds of fortune sail you,
May you sail a gentle sea.
May it always be the other guy
who says, "this drink's on me."

Now, second order of business tonight... another visit to Darbster (well, technically I went last night). You all know by now I have a mild addiction to this place. Ok, let's be honest... it's more than mild. Anyway, I'm always SO excited to go there with people that turn their noses when they hear the words "vegan food." I think it was a success! We had a party of eight this time. It was a rare occasion for several of the court reporters to get together, so aside from the food being nothing less than amazing, the company was nice too. To start out, I had a cup of the Organic Cheddar IPA Chowder. IPA stands of Indiana Pale Ale. It was very, very good. One of my all time favorite foods (and most definitely my favorite soup) before I went vegan was beer-cheese soup. And I have missed it dearly... until last night! This was great. It was more like a chowder with chunks of potato and it had a perfectly spicy flavor in the background. For my main course, I had the Falafel Salad with Tahini Dressing. The falafels were perfect! So fresh! The greens were perfectly dressed with the most flavorful lemony tahini dressing. I couldn't finish it all (partly because I saw that there was Nutella Cheezecake as a dessert special). Brenda and Tracy both had a bite and said it was very good!
This was Tracy's second time at Darbster. Both times she was amazed that the food she was eating was vegan! Last night she ordered chicken and steak soft tacos and raved about them. (I think we have a convert!!) She likes to tease me about my "rabbit food" diet, but I think she's a closet fake-meat lover! Ha! Last night was Brenda's fist time and I think she enjoyed what she ordered, too.
She had the cheddar-ale soup with the palm cakes. And really, what's not to love about Darbster's palm cakes? They are little, fried pieces of heaven. Just perfection! Crispy on the outside, delicious and creamy on the inside. Claudia, a fellow Darbster-fan and vegan, ordered the Chile Relleno. I didn't taste this, but it looked awesome! Chile relleno is a chile usually stuffed with tons of cheese, meat, and some veggies. Darbster's version is stuffed with lots of veggies and topped with a "cheese" sauce. Claudia was still talking about how good it was the next day!
I will surely be ordering this next time I go for dinner! The problem with Darbster is their menu is full of great choices. Everything sounds so good it's hard to narrow it down to just one thing. Then to make matters worse, their specials are consistently innovative, interesting, mouth-watering, and fresh. I mean, if you're going to have problems, these are the kind of problems you want to have!! Darbster's chef extraordinaire, Seth, came out to our table and described his creations. His explanations were full of "air bunnies." (That's a Modern Family reference, and I'll say it again- is you haven't seen that show, stop what you're doing right now, well maybe finish reading my blog first, but the stop what you're doing and do whatever it is you need to do to get your hands on season 1. You'll thank me. And since we're on the topic, I just have to take this moment to profess my love for Cam!!) Ok, back to Chef Seth and the "air bunnies," which are air-quotes that he uses when referring to meats, cheeses, and other non-vegan ingredients that he uses vegan-versions of.
He started to tell us about the dessert specials. "Tonight we have for you 'Nutella' Chee--." Stop right there, mister! You had me at Nutella, even with the air-bunnies! I'll take it. I don't care what it is. I am kind of obsessed with Nutella. Of course this isn't real Nutella, so he veganized it and made it into to Nutella Cheezecake!! Hold the phones, people. This is serious. Yes, you read that right; Nutella Cheezecake. After patiently waiting (it was quite busy) we received our dessert. I'm glad that we were too full to eat more than a couple of bites because it was even better the next day after it spent all night in the fridge! YUMMMM! Wow. That's all I can say. Kudos to you, Seth.

Well I hope everyone enjoyed their Saint Patrick's Day! I think my next blog will be a yogurt comparison. I'll be comparing yogurts made from soy, rice, almond, and coconut milks and they will be graded! Who will come out on top?? Stay tuned!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Well color me happy, there's a sofa in here for two!

This blog has nothing to do with sofas. As I was sitting here thinking of a title, the great recipes I tried came to mind. Both were from my new book, Color Me Vegan by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.
So next, my mind went naturally to color me happy... which obviously takes you right back to 1990. (And a little visual just for fun... sorry, had to.) A hooker (played by the fabulous Julia Roberts), who thinks her wig is a little Carol Channing-esque, walks into an elevator, plops down on the luxurious, upholstered bench (after all this is the Reg-Bev-Wil) and exclaims "well color me happy, there's a sofa in here for two!" This explanation could go on for a while. It's suddenly dawned on me that I have seen Pretty Woman WAY too many times and know every word in the movie. Sick. So back to the point of this blog entry so that you have enough time to veg out. Lay like broccoli. (okay, okay... I'll stop.)

I made a couple of recipes from Color Me Vegan last weekend and just wanted to share the love. Basically I made the Indian-style black bean and veggie burritos (page 238 from the Rainbow chapter). The author suggested making the pineapple-mango chutney (page 74) to serve with the burritos, so I did. Now, I will say, if you try to attempt both of these recipes in the same day you may end up wanting to kill me, especially after that whole Pretty Woman debacle in the first paragraph. Take my advice, do not try and do them both in one day... annnndd rent Pretty Woman, for old times sake. Here's what I did and it worked out perfectly. I made the chutney the day before I knew I was going to have the burritos. It takes some time but is WELL worth it! While I was making the chutney, I baked my sweet potato for the burrito recipe. You will see in a minute that in the burrito recipe that you are to put the diced sweet potato in raw and cook for 15 minutes. No thank you. I baked mine the day before, diced it up, and stored it in the fridge. That way when I went to make the burritos I saved myself 15 minutes! You're welcome. So here are the recipes and my results.

Pineapple Mango Chutney
2 tablespoons oil or water, for sauteing (I used the pineapple juice from the fresh pineapple that I cut up)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 large yellow onion, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 large yellow bell pepper, diced
2 ripe mangoes, peeled and diced
1 small pineapple, peeled and diced
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

Heat the oil (or whatever liquid you are using to saute; in my case it was the fresh pineapple juice) in a large pan over medium heat. Stir in the red pepper flakes until they begin to sizzle, about 1 minute, and then add the minced onion. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 7 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and stir in the ginger, bell pepper, mangoes, pineapple, brown sugar, curry powder, and vinegar. Bring to a simmer and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool the chutney and store in airtight containers in the refrigerator. I added a touch of black pepper to mine, as you can see in the photo. I like it a little extra peppery. After all, pepper is a good source of antioxidants (lol, seriously... who eats that much pepper??)

Indian-Style Black Bean & Veggie Burritos

1 tablespoon oil or water, for sauteing
2 bell peppers cut into strips
1 large onion, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 sweet potato
1 teaspoon garam masala*
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup cooked brown basmati rice
1 head romaine lettuce, shredded
Pineapple Mango Chutney, or salsa
4 large burrito-size whole wheat tortillas

Heat oil in large saute pan. Saute bell peppers, onion, garlic, and ginger over medium heat for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the peppers and onions are soft. Add the sweet potato and garam masala (*spice mix made up of peppercorns, cloves, bay leaves, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg, and anise) and mix well. Add the stock and cover. Cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until the potato is tender.

** Now remember, if you planned ahead you can just add the diced up sweet potato that you baked the day before and just heat them through. No need to cover the pan either. And I used the same amount of stock, plus a little more actually because it reduced very fast. Also, I didn't have garam masala so I just used 1/8 teaspoons of cumin, nutmeg, pepper, ground cloves, and added coriander just for the heck of it, plus 1 bay leaf. **
At the very end of the cooking time, add the beans and stir to combine. Cook for 5 minutes longer and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the vegetable and bean mixture, rice, lettuce, and chutney evenly down the center of the tortilla and then roll it up. (warm the tortillas up to make them more pliable)

I'm telling you what... talk about a party for your mouth! YUM!! I will be making these a lot! So simple and SO tasty! These do not disappoint. Another thing that does not disappoint is Darbster. Yes, I went AGAIN! You really just cannot keep me out of that place. They always have the most interesting specials. Sunday night they featured a BLT sandwich made with tempeh. I guess that would technically make it a TLT, just sayin. This was my first time trying tempeh (imitation meat, in this case bacon). Tempeh is made from soy beans but does not have that soy-beany flavor that plain tofu does. The texture is meaty. I think when it comes to tempeh, like tofu, it's all about how you flavor it and prepare it. Well I don't know how Chef Seth did it, but it was so delicious. They added some sliced avocado to the sandwich, always a welcomed ingredient in my opinion. AND, we got 20%  off since we brought a dog! Yay!

Talk about a perfect weekend! I got to spend time on the beach with a good friend. Came home and got a head start on the burritos to make for the following day, and then headed to Darbster's for the prefect ending to a perfect weekend! This is truly the life! Until next time...

Oh, and before I go, I just want to give major kudos to my new iPhone 4. This thing takes awesome pictures!! I am very impressed... and obsessed!

The recipes from this blog were written by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Spring fashion report : coral lipstick, greige, & going vegan!

I usually don't post two days in a row but I just couldn't help it. I received the April issue of Glamour magazine in the mail yesterday. I decided to flip through it while I was killing time waiting for Modern Family to start. (Side note- HILARIOUS show! I am in love with Cam; borderline obsessed, hence the "I love Cam!" check box at the bottom of each of my blogs. Tonight's episode was a re-run but it was the one where Gloria learns to ride a bike and Cam confronts a homeless man living in his daughter's princess castle; a classic!) Right after I read that hot-coral nail polish and lipstick paired with greige (grayish beige) clothing is in this spring, I flipped the page and was very pleasantly surprised. No, we are still not over this ridiculous high-waist jeans and pants phase. Sorry to break the news. BUT, Glamour did run an article about the vegan diet! YAY! I would have liked the article to be a bit longer and less about how to lose a quick 20 pounds, but it's a start! Millie enjoyed it. :) There are some vegan celebrities out there, so who knows... it might catch on! Even if it becomes a fad-diet, I'll take it! A few famous vegans that were mentioned are Natalie Portman, Ellen DeGeneres, Tobey Maguire, Gennifer Goodwin, Alanis Morissette, and Jason Mraz.

I also went to Darbster's for dinner tonight. I seriously can't get enough of that place. I took Corey with me this time. He had their fried chik'n sandwich. The 'thrown'up peace sign in the picture denotes his approval. Haha! I didn't taste it, but it looked great. He said it was good even though he couldn't taste much of the "chicken" since he smothered it with their amazing buffalo sauce that we got with our Trees wings appetizer. It was topped with a fried onion ring and garlic aioli. I wanted to try something new. I got the enchiladas. They were VERY good. You wouldn't know they were vegan. The portion was too much for me so Corey finished mine and he liked them so much he said that is what he is going to order from now on when we go back. We were both a fan of the sour cream. Not sure what brand it was, or how it was made. The enchiladas were served with black beans and brown rice, along with guacamole, salsa, and sour cream. Everything was very flavorful and spicy! YUM! Aside from their great food, the atmosphere is also what keeps me coming back. They have relaxing, live entertainment. It's easy to sit and stay for a while. Oh, and Arlow (not sure if I'm spelling thar right), the German Shepherd, is usually there scoping things out. I love that dogs are welcome! One of these days I will attempt to bring one of mine in... I seriously doubt they could handle BOTH of my yappers. :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Show and tell

Well, I’ve reached the one-month mark of living vegan and I think I have the hang of it.  I’m really surprised in how great I feel and how easy it is to go vegan.  I haven’t felt deprived at all and I think it is fun try to new recipes.  Eating something that I know is good for me and something that I know did not contribute to the harming animals or the environment is very satisfying and exciting!  I’m always so anxious to share new recipes or restaurant finds with others so that they can experience what being vegan tastes like.  And that is just what I did this weekend.

I just want to say before I get into the food and the pictures, sorry for the poor photo quality. I think there was salt water residue on the lense from the beach. :( Anyway.... after a nice run in Bryant Park and a little R&R at the beach (even though it was super windy and overcast – not exactly what Kait Parker forecasted, but whatever) with my best-training-buddy, Tracy, we headed to my favorite place to eat out, Darbster’s!  Once again they exceeded my expectations and everything was wonderful.  Tracy had the avocado gazpacho (the same one I had last weekend).  Then we split an order of buffalo “wings.”  We were both blown away at how good these were.  They were shaped like chicken nuggets and served with a ranch-style sauce and an AWESOME spicy buffalo sauce.  I wanted to get a to-go container just for that sauce.  It was SO good. 

We also shared a grilled-cheeze sandwich, made of vegan cheese of course.  It was just like the real thing!  I just love taking friends there, especially the more skeptical ones, so that they can see for themselves how good you can eat.
Darbster's uses Daiya brand cheese, which is the brand that Kathy Freston recommended. I haven't purchased any vegan cheeses yet, but I think when I do I will choose the Daiya brand. It was perfectly melty and sharp. Loved it!

Shifting to the vegan diet has been fun and it's even more fun when others join in! I love sharing new recipes and talking about new found products at work. This week, Claudia have me an awesome new cookbook called Color Me Vegan by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. (Thank you!!) The book is broken down by the different colors of foods. Within each color (chapter) she gives you starters and salads, soups and stews, sides, main dishes, and desserts. There were so many good looking recipes. It was hard to pick just one to start with. I chose one out of the rainbow chapter. I made the confetti macaroni salad. It couldn't be more simple. Just make some macaroni (which most typically does not contain egg) and add some finely chopped bell peppers, scallions, basil, and black olives. The dressing is just Vegenaise (vegan mayo) and some Dijon mustard. Let me just say, I was never a huge fan of regular mayo, but I do like the Vegenaise. Oddly enough it tastes a lot like the real thing, but better. It's a bit tangier and thicker. I thought it was perfect for this recipe.
There are poppy seeds in it. I was going to leave those out because I really do not like poppy seeds at all. I never saw the point and they just get stuck in your teeth. Then, unless you work with or are around some honest people, you will walk around all day with black seeds all stuck in your teeth. Not so cute. But, I wanted to make the recipe as written because I thought there must be a good reason for them to be in there. Turns out, I kind of like poppy seeds! They added a but of a crunch and texture to the pasta salad. They also added a bit of a nutty flavor. But I still think all seeds in general need to be used sparingly. They're not the best thing for your digestive system.

For snacking I have really been enjoying hummus and making different varieties of it. Last week I made a batch of original hummus and then I added a big bunch of spinach to it. It was SO good. I like eating it with veggie chips, like Terra chips, or fresh veggies. Another great snack item I found (I actually ate it for dinner on Saturday night) is mango spring rolls with sweet chili sauce from Whole Foods. It was so fresh and crisp. It was just some leafy greens, rice noodles, mango, and cucumber wrapped up in a rice paper. Nice and light, yet full of great flavor! That's all for now! Have a great week everyone!