Fall Mix Tapes (with handmade covers)
A Vegan Thanksgiving complete with quinoa, veggies, mashed potatoes, and of course desserts…
50,000 words of a new novel
That was definitely one happy fall.
Since I’ve run out of British detective shows to watch lately, I’ve turned to documentaries and TED Talks for my evening relaxation. While learning about Viking explorers, the evolution of humans, the “moral molecule,” and a secret river under Dublin has been quite riveting, the video I watched this evening struck a deeper cord. Jamie Oliver’s TED talk on the power of food (to do good or, as is often the case in this country, bad) renewed my vigor for healthy living and eating. I’ve been following (more or less- cookie butter is a weakness, okay!?) a plant-based diet for six months now, and contrary to what you might think, this lifestyle has introduced me to so many new ways of cooking, new food to try, and new methods to make eating and cooking easier, more delicious, and fun. I’ve felt better, ran faster (marathon PR!), and found the joy of making a home cooked meal. I love Jamie’s approach to the power of food: that it should be a part of the daily ritual that makes our lives rich and interesting. And healthy.
p.s. Jamie’s website has some great vegan recipes as well! Here are the ones I’m particularly excited to try:
“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.
Ah, brunch. Truly the best meal of the day. Especially if you’re vegan. Because, frankly, anything goes! Breakfast food? Sure! Lunch food? Why not! Greens first thing in the morning? Go for it! Brunch in a vegan’s dream. Plus it’s a really good excuse to invite your friends over and chow down on all the excess Trader Joe’s groceries you bought the day before when you made the mistake of grocery shopping after a long run…
I like to think my brunches are European style because I fell in love with breakfast in Siena, Italy while filling up on Nutella croissants (still warm!), prosciutto, pecorino, and espresso. But to be honest, I think Americans do brunch best: lots of food, lots of friends, usually a hangover, and bottomless mimosas.
But for the days you want to stay in for the best meal of the weekend, I’ve put together a delicious vegan brunch menu. European inspired, American made, and to absolutely die for.
On the Menu:
Hazelnut latte with soy milk (sugar free!)
Baguette with assorted toppings: sugar free preserves, vegan butter, Dutch speculoos (In all fairness, I don’t know if speculoos is actually vegan, as the ingredients list is in Dutch! Sadly, I suspect it’s not.)
Local Pennsylvania organic apples
Fresh lemon mango cucumber water*
Sweet potato chips with homemade hummus*
Assorted veggie tofu scramble*
*Keep scrolling for the recipes below!
The idea is so simple, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner! Add cut up cucumbers, lemon, and frozen mango to a pitcher of water, and suddenly you have a refreshingly healthy drink that actually makes you excited to drink more water.
Wrap the blocks of tofu in a dry paper towel. Set on a smooth plate or cutting board and add weight on top. I sandwich my tofu between two cutting boards and stack my cookbooks on top. Whatever gets a decent amount of water out of the tofu, works! Let the tofu sit this way for ten minutes or so.
While waiting, heat the sesame oil on medium/high heat. When warm, add your veggies. Add a tablespoon of soy sauce. If the veggies are sticking to the pan, add water, a tablespoon or so at a time.
When the tofu is ready, crumble into the pan with the veggies. Stir and add your second tablespoon of soy sauce. Continue to cook until tofu is heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Any other vegan recipes you’d recommend for brunch?
Guys, this is my first original recipe that I’m posting for you all! *Cheers*
I took inspiration from a recipe in Roberto Martin’s book, Vegan Cooking for Carnivores, which is one of my personal favorite vegan cookbooks. Roberto shares recipes that are easy to make and easy to understand, and in the case of this recipe, easy to modify and make your own.
Savory Grilled Polenta Muffins
Vegan and gluten free!
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Wait Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Olive oil cooking spray
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups gluten free polenta or corn grits
1 green bell pepper, minced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt to taste
black pepper to taste
Spray a muffin tin with the cooking spray and set aside.
Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium and add the polenta. Stir the polenta constantly until it begins to get thick (about 1-2 minutes). Add the minced pepper, olive oil, salt, and pepper and continue to stir until the polenta becomes very thick (about 3 minutes longer).
Scoop the polenta mixture into the muffin tin and smooth the tops of each muffin with a spoon. Set the muffins aside for at least 30 minutes to reset.
Gently pop the muffins out of the tin with a spoon and brush them lightly with olive oil.
Preheat a grill, grill pan, or, in my case, a non-stick skillet on hight heat.
Add the polenta muffins and grill for a couple minutes on each side, or until the muffins begin to brown.
Serve warm or refrigerate and enjoy as a cool summer afternoon snack.
Let me know what you think of my first original recipe!
It’s finally taper week for my marathon training! Woohoo! I love tapering (contrary to many endurance athletes who find it hard to cut back the miles) because I get to spend time really focusing on preparing mentally with yoga, meditation, and all around relaxation. Yesterday, I practiced yoga for an hour coupled with a half hour of mindfulness meditation, and I wen to bed feeling relaxed and in the present.
Food is also really important for this final week. Per my coach’s suggestion, I’m sticking to higher protein dishes earlier in the week and adding on carbs, but not lots of calories, as the week goes on. Being vegan, I have to take extra care in ensuring my meals are high in protein. Yesterday, I created a delicious fried tofu, broccoli, and kale stir fry served over brown rice. This was my first time frying tofu, and I was thrilled with the outcome of the dish! Just perfect with a crispy outside and soft, flavorful middle. Learn some good techniques here.
Then, of course, I had to make vegan, sugar-free brownies for dessert. My own recipe! So, I’ll be sharing soon. 🙂
What’s your favorite high protein meal?
Being away from family can be hard enough, but when holidays roll around it becomes that much harder. Thankfully, for Easter this year, my little sister was able to take a break from being a genius med student at RIT to spend the weekend with me here in Pittsburgh. The weather was perfect! And compared to Rochester, NY, it probably felt like heaven.
Before Michelle made it down here on Saturday afternoon, I snuck in a 16 mile marathon taper run. Why am I tell you this? Because sometimes, when you’ve run over 20 miles in one go, you start to forget that even 16 miles is impressive. This is my attempt at reminding myself that running 16 miles (or any amount for that matter!) is an accomplishment–one of which I should always be proud!
Sparkle was a key component of our Easter weekend attire.
I took Michelle to her first professional baseball game. The Pirates lost, but it was an exciting game no less, complete with the classic Pittsburgh Pirates fireworks show. (By the way, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a professional baseball game that didn’t involve the Brewers. Seriously. I saw the Cubs play them in Chicago…then again in Milwaukee…and now they played the Pirates in my new city. It’s like my Wisconsin ancestors are trying to speak to me…)
Instead of the traditional Easter ham dinner, we opted for homemade squash pizzas, complete with kale, Brussels sprouts, and vegan cheese. Recipe (Michelle’s original) soon to follow!
My Easter outfit of choice: Madewell fruit dress, Lands’ End Canvas Merino sweater, vintage Salvatore Ferragamo heels, statement necklace (a great find from a Chicago second hand shop), and a gorgeous sparkly clutch (a gift from an old roommate). Michelle looked gorgeous in an Loft eyelet tee, J.crew cardigan, Ann Taylor pencil skirt, and sparkly J.crew flats.
Hope you all had a fabulous Easter weekend as well! Here’s to more sunny days filled with Pirates, sparkle, and lots and lots of miles.
And, I think, a success! I had a great time hosting (I usually do!), and I hope my guests left full (of plenty of wine and homemade vegan appetizers) and happy.
Mango Red Pepper Salsa/Bruschetta (my own recipe!)/
I’ve hosted a few parties with my sister and friends before, but never have I tried to 1) make all the food myself 2) cook and bake completely vegan for a party. Honestly, it wasn’t that difficult! I just used some of my personal favorite recipes, which besides being delicious, are also pretty easy too. It felt good to offer my friends delicious, healthy food that they didn’t have to second-guess. Because who wants to go to a party only to stare guiltily at a plate of mozzarella sticks (from which you’ve already taken at least three…)?
But let’s be real. The part was also a chance to show off my (nearly) finished living room. I’m quite proud of the color and vibrance that I brought into the space. And how open and comfortable it feels. My only complaint: this horrible futon. I’m sitting on it right now and it’s literally sinking slowly beneath my weight. Here’s to hoping my guests didn’t notice because they were too busy eating my vegan chocolate chip magic bars…