Archive for August, 2010

Iced Iced Coffee…

A few posts ago, I mentioned I’d been having trouble sleeping. While I’m still not sleeping so well, it has gotten better! Thank you for all your tips! Today I came across these 7 Weird Tricks to Help You Fall Asleep. Have you guys tried any of these?? I think a rocking chair would be a nice way to relax before bed! Too bad I don’t have one… the toe curling trick seems like an easy one. I think I’ll have to keep these in mind next time I’m tossing and turning!

I’ve been reading a lot about the salmonella outbreak in eggs, and I must say, it makes the vegan thing a little easier 😉 Not because I’m afraid of food poisoning (let’s face it, salmonella has been a problem in spinach, peanut butter, etc.) But when I read about the conditions these chickens are in, and how dirty the environment is, it just doesn’t make me crave scrambled eggs! Here was a nice article about How to Buy the Healthiest Eggs so all you non-vegans should check it out 🙂 You gotta know where your food is coming from!

I’ve been using my vita-mix a lot. (I missed it on vacation!) This morning I made myself some iced coffee. Here is my super simple Iced Coffee recipe:

Simple Iced Coffee

  • 1 cup cold coffee- roasted extra strong!
  • 1 packet truvia
  • 5 cubes of frozen unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 3 drops vanilla stevia

I just throw it in the Vita-mix for a few minutes, and then drink up. So good! I really want to try other milk alternatives though. Not that I don’t love my Almond Breeze, but I like trying new things… Any other milk suggestions? Soy milk? Rice milk? Other almond milks?

So I know I’m a huge dork, but I was really excited when a new (bigger) Kroger opened up on my way home from work! It’s HUGE! The produce section is amazing, and they have everything. They also have something called “Moon Pop” which I’d never heard of, and never seen anywhere else, because they make it right there in the store…

That’s moon pop, which is sort of like a giant rice cake…

My friend tried it, and she said it was gross. That it was too bland. And it’s true, it’s kind of bland. (It is, after all, basically a giant rice cake.) But it only has 10 calories per huge cake! So think about the possibilities! I started experimenting. I had some with salsa. (Delicious). Hummus (YUM!).  I sprayed some with a tiny bit of olive oil, and added salt and pepper, then baked it in the oven. It was pretty good! Sort of like salt and pepper popchips. Then I tried one with a sprinkle of cinnamon and truvia. It was sweet and tasty! Definitely a good tv snack, since you can mindlessly munch with no guilt! I’m not saying these are really a stellar health food, because they don’t really offer any nutritional benefits… but it’s better than popping open a bag of chips! And hey, I’m a sucker for a new food product 🙂

Anyway, it’s been sort of a rough night, 😦  but I’m learning what it means to be an adult, so that’s good! I think I’m going to go make some protein ice cream and finish watching this documentary…

Anyone have any good documentary suggestions? Food related or non-food related! I’m always up for some educational tv 😉

Also, if you need some inspiration… check out this post from Meredith and go live an epic life 🙂

-LLV

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Back in the Groove

So, I slacked on blogging. I actually slacked on everything. But that’s what vacation is all about, right? Let’s run through some of the highlights:

The week involved a lot of these:

My mom and I both love Chipotle, and my dad is nice enough to go there even though it’s probably not his favorite 😉

Rice, black beans, peppers & onions, tomato salsa, corn salsa, guacamole & lettuce. That, my friends, is perfection in a bowl.

I also had the best vegan/veggie burger ever at Northstar Cafe:

My friend Kelly and I split it, so you’re looking at just half of the burger & salad. Crazy! My friend Krysta gave me a recipe that is supposed to be similar, so I’ll have to try to recreate this. I’m going to miss Northstar Cafe!!

On Wednesday, I had dinner with my friend and former piano teacher, Christine 🙂 I got to see some of my old students as well! We had a fantastic time, and she made a HUGE table full of vegan food! This quinoa salad was amazing!

Miriam made some amazing vegan zucchini bread. We were all raving about how moist and delicious it was!

I’ll have to hunt down those two recipes, because they are definitely things I want to eat again!!!

Since the weekend isn’t ALL about food, here are some other favorite pictures:

I spent an evening on a rooftop with some friends downtown and the weather was just as perfect as the view!

The weather was beautiful all week, so we also got to take a nice walk in the park!

I should have pictures of the two weddings I went to, but… alas. Those will have to come later, from other people’s cameras!

For now, I’m going to go finish getting caught up on work e-mails! Hope you all had a great weekend!

-LLV

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Ah, the Joy of Traveling…

Friday started off a little rough. I still wasn’t been able to sleep much, so the day began with 2 hours of sleep, since I had to be up at 4:30 to head to the airport. Upon getting to the airport, I found out my flight was delayed, and I was going to miss my connecting flight. I was then going to have a layover in Cleveland for 5 hours. Then they switched me to Delta, so I could fly from Atlanta to Columbus, but then the flight to Atlanta was going to be delayed. Somehow, they got things back on schedule, so I should make it to Columbus by 11:30. A few hours later than I hoped, but, life goes on! Ironically enough, I’m pretty sure it would have been faster if I had just driven. But, let’s focus on the positives!

1. Delta had vegan cookies on their      flight!


How cute is that? I found the coke napkin entertaining too.

Pretty sure the people next to me thought I was crazy for snapping      pictures of the airplane cookies… Oh well!

2. I have a whole week off work! It’s      going to be great to catch up with friends, I really can’t wait! I’m also      looking forward to have some time to get back into running. Now that I’m Hitting the Weights I haven’t been      very consistent on running. I have plenty of excuses for why I haven’t      been running… but none of them are that good. I downloaded some really      good new music, so I think that should keep me motivated. In fact, I love      my playlist so much, I made a playlist page. I would LOVE more song      suggestions. So head over to the page and leave me your favorite song!

3. I’ve got a whole week to convince my      dearest father that there is more to life than just meat and potatoes 😉 But hey, I like a challenge!

4. While      we’re on a roll with the positives, life is great. I’m truly blessed      with the wonderful people I’ve been able to surround myself with. I’m      really amazed at how quickly I have an entire network of people in Richmond that are      there for me. (There’s Carrie, who graciously offered her suitcase when I      realized I didn’t have one,  there’s Nirali who took      me to the ER when I sliced my hand open with an x-acto knife last week,      and Robbie, who took me to the tow truck place when my car got towed. The      list could go on forever!)

5. This trip seemed like a good time to try a few “travel size” snacks!

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Stop and take a moment to count your blessings. I think you’ll be surprised how many you can count 🙂 Now, I’m off to go spend some time with family!

-LLV

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Hittin’ the Weights

I’ve been saying for awhile that I need to stop being such a cardio junkie, and start getting into weight training. Not only do I want to tone up, but I think it will help me improve my running (which has plateaued at quite a low level. Lame!) But I just couldn’t seem to get myself over to the free weight section of the gym…

Well after some very inspiring posts about strong women I thought it was about time to get my act together! 🙂

I’m fortunate enough to have access to free personal trainers at the gym where I work. (Awesome, I know!) so I scheduled my appointment last week, and had my first sweat session this morning. Let me tell ya, I’m going to be sore tomorrow!

We did a total body workout, so I could get ideas on things to do on my own. Most of it was simple stuff that I could do from home with free weights, but I also learned how to use the machines. (What can I say, those cable machines scare me!) My trainer was super encouraging, and it got me really excited to keep weight training. Now I just need to make sure I keep doing it! 🙂

I’m hoping maybe the workouts will help my sleep schedule… lately I just haven’t been able to fall asleep! I keep a fairly regular sleep routine, getting up around the same time every morning, but I can’t seem to fall asleep before 2am. It’s starting to get frustrating. Does anyone have any tips for falling asleep? I tried reading, I tried watching tv, listening to classical music, turning the a/c on, trying to just relax. Nothing worked!

On a food related note, I had a potluck with my girls last night! I made pasta with pesto & vegan parmesan cheese. These girls are so sweet, and one of the girls made me my own separate bowl of chili without meat or cheese in it! They’re so thoughtful.

Look at all that food! Notice ^ my empty chili bowl  🙂

What do you like to make for potlucks? I tend to make main dishes so I know I’ll have something vegan to eat 😉

-LLV

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Cupcake Experiment!

Maybe I should clarify, it was more of a frosting experiment than a cupcake experiment.

I was pretty confident in the cupcakes, since I *cheated* and used a mix! I’d been curious to try the Cherrybrook Kitchen cupcake mix, and I headed to a going-away-party for a friend, so this seemed like a good time for a test!

I used this mix, which was super simple. Just add margarine, (I used Smart Balance Light), vegetable oil, and water. This mix is dairy free, egg free, and nut free, so it’s great for people with allergies! (Or vegans 🙂 ) The box says it makes 12 cupcakes, but since I was going to a party, I decided to make them in a mini-muffin pan. It ended up making about 24 mini-cupcakes. (Actually, it probably could have made like, 28 mini cupcakes, but I didn’t feel like leaving the oven on for 4 more cupcakes…)  Once I got the cupcakes in the oven, it was on to the frosting challenge!

My mom used to make frosting using margarine, powdered sugar and vanilla, so I thought I’d start with that. I used more Smart Balance light, and some powdered sugar. I think melted the margarine just a bit, so it was softer, but not liquid. I think I used about 1/3 cup margarine, and then added about 2/3 cup of powdered sugar. Then I added maybe 6 drops of vanilla. It made a frosting that was… ok. It was kind of bland. So it was time to spice things up.

A week or so ago, I found peanut flour at Trader Joe’s. I wasn’t sure what I’d use it for, but I knew it would come in handy some day! Since my frosting was a little runny, peanut flour seemed like a good idea!

Sorry for the fuzzy picture! So I added it into my frosting mixture. I’d say I ended up added 1/3 cup.

It turned out perfect! It thickened the frosting, and added a wonderful peanut butter flavor that was PERFECT with the cupcakes! (I mean, come on, who doesn’t love PB+Chocolate?)

I forgot to take a picture of the finished cupcakes 😦 But they were a hit at the party! Just to recap, if you want to make this:

Vegan Peanut Butter Frosting

  • 1/3 cup margarine
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 6 drops pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup peanut flour

Mix together and enjoy! It even sets up nicely. (It doesn’t stay runny and gooey forever, so it’s easier to transport!)


Does anyone one else have fun frosting suggestions? Anything unusual you like to frost?

-LLV

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Vita-Mix Fun!

I haven’t wanted to leave my kitchen, because I’ve been having so much fun with my Vita-Mix! (Thanks again, Mom & Dad!) As you know, my first Vita-Mix recipe was HEAB’s protein ice cream. It was delicious! But this morning, I was looking for something even richer & creamier…

I remembered Katie’s Advice on Vita-Mix recipes that called for a lot of ice, but I also didn’t want to use too much frozen fruit, since I wanted my protein ice cream to remain chocolate-y. Behold, my answer!

Instead of adding in almond milk + ice cubes, I froze almond milk in my ice cube tray, and added that in! Here was my version of Vita-Mix Protein Ice Cream

Extra Creamy Ice Cream

Oh my gosh, this was heavenly! It still made a heaping bowl of ice cream, but it was super creamy and chocolate-y. It was almost too rich for breakfast… almost. I may or may not have drizzled a tablespoon of PB on this… 🙂

And check out the nutritional stats on this here! Crazy good stats, I’d say! Especially for a huge bowl of this stuff!

Yesterday, I started my day off with a Green Purple Monster!

This was about 1/2 cup of blueberries, 1 cup of ice, 1/2 cup of Almond Breeze, a splash of pineapple juice, and 4 huge romaine leaves and 1 packet of Truvia. The berries gave it a nice sweet taste, and you could barely taste the romaine. I great way to get your greens in if you don’t like salad!

For dinner, I wanted some “fried” Zucchini”, but who wants to ruin zucchini by deep frying it? Here’s my version:

“Fried” Zucchini

  • 1 small zucchini
  • 3/4 cup Fiber One cereal
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • Chili powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Crushed red pepper

Slice up your zucchini into little rings, about 1/4″ thick. Run the Fiber One through the food processor (or Vita-Mix 🙂 ) until it’s the consistency of bread crumbs. Add in the spices (and feel free to play around with these!) and stir! Then you just dip the zucchini slices in the almond milk, and coat in the “bread” crumbs. You don’t need much milk, just enough so the bread crumbs will stick. Then bake for about 35 minutes at 350 degrees. The bake time is approximate. Make sure you bake them long enough. One time I took them out too early and they were soggy and yucky. Don’t take them out until they feel crispy!

I would have taken a picture… but I sort of burned it 😦 It actually still tasted really good, but the picture didn’t do the taste justice!!

Are their any foods/recipes you love, even though they don’t look appetizing?

-LLV

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Breaking News!! -The Package Arrived!

So remember when I said I was getting a package?? Well… it was EXACTLY what I was hoping for!!

Yes, that’s right, I’m now the proud owner of a Vita-Mix!!!!!! I was literally jumping up and down when I saw this!!! So I ran home from work (and stopped into Ellwood Thompson to get some Guar Gum) because I knew that the very first thing I wanted to make was Heather’s famous Protein Ice Cream. I’ve seriously been dreaming of the day I could make this ice cream. (I tried it in the food processor and the magic bullet, but it just wasn’t the same.) I made sure I had all the ingredients and I got to work!

Look at that delicious creaminess! You’d never know there was ice in there. The vita-mix really took care of things! I had it with a little bit of almond butter and it was simply divine!!! I will definitely be making this on a regular basis. I can’t believe a huge bowl of this stuff is ~200 calories, and full of protein! So excited!!

After that, I decided I needed to make something for lunch tomorrow. So I flipped through the super awesome recipe book that came with the Vita-Mix and was inspired by one of the soup recipes. In the end, I just kind of threw things in the blender… Here is the basic recipe:

My Basic Vita-Mix Vegetable Soup

  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1 1/2 cups baby carrots
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups cooked couscous
  • garlic salt
  • basil
  • crushed red peppers
  • chili powder
  • salt
  • black pepper

I have no idea how much I used of each spice. I just kept throwing things in and tasting 🙂 In the end, it turned out great, and it made TONS of soup. I’ll be freezing most of it, but I did save some out for my lunch tomorrow. I can’t wait!

That’s my soup, simmering on the stove 🙂

I’m really looking forward to trying Katie’s Coffee Ice Cream and Angela‘s Green Monster Smoothies!

So now, I must ask, what is YOUR favorite Vita-Mix/Blender recipe? (Bonus points if it’s Vegan!)

I can’t wait to try your suggestions!

-LLV

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