Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pizzeria Biga - Southfield, MI

Pizzeria Biga is owned by the same guys who own Bacco Ristorante, an upscale Italian restaurant with a 3-course prix-fixe vegan menu that I have yet to try.  I think you have to dress up to go there and places where you can wear jeans and flip-flops are more my style.

Brian and I had been out driving all afternoon, checking out houses and shopping at Zerbo's, REI, and Trader Joe’s.  It was almost 7:00 and we were both starving.  I had a race* to be ready for the next morning so I was worried about what to eat that would be enough to sustain me so I wasn’t starving in the morning (not a salad) yet wouldn't upset my sensitive stomach (definitely not a bean burger).  I had a mini-meltdown because it's so hard for me to go out to eat and decided I just wanted to go home and get a veggie sandwich from Potbelly.  As we were cruising through Royal Oak, I suddenly thought of Biga when I realized how close we were to Southfield.  It was practically on our way home.  Pizza can be hit or miss for my stomach but I figured what the hell.  It couldn't do that much damage (and thankfully it didn't).

Biga is one of those places that you walk into and immediately feel comfortable.  The aroma of fresh-baked pizza and the glow coming from the hot brick ovens was just what I needed to cheer me up.  The wine I ordered helped a bit, too.

There were a couple of vegan soups and salads on the menu, as well as three vegan pizzas - one white (no sauce) and two red (with sauce), although there are a lot of vegetable toppings so you could surely create your own.  I love pizza sauce but this time I went with the white pizza because the toppings sounded delicious – tomatoes, Kalamata olives, roasted asparagus, and artichokes.   The crust was thin, crispy yet chewy, and (despite the name) not overly oily.  I loved the big popped air bubbles and the slightly charred crust.  It was rather rustic.  The pizza was very tasty without sauce but next time I’ll go for a red pizza…and we are definitely going back!

0lio d'oliva - white pizza with tomatoes, olives, artichikes, and roasted asparagus - $12.00

You can check out their menu on their website; however, it is not very extensive and doesn’t have the vegan items.  The one in the restaurant specifically says “100% vegan” and I trust them.

*The race was the Back to the Beach half marathon at Stony Creek Metropark.  When I woke up at 5 a.m., however, I just didn't have it in me to drive over an hour to run a race I wasn't all that crazy about doing.  So I didn't.  I heard it was one of the hardest half marathons some of the runners had done.  Given my recent energy levels, that made me feel much better about skipping it!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

On the Run: Live Like Andi 10-Mile Run

Live Like Andi was not a great run for me.  It was my first 10-miler.  I've done 10ks and half marathons but nothing in between. For some reason I thought it would feel a lot shorter than a half but 3 miles isn't very much shorter.  That was my first problem.  Another was the weather.  It was raining and I've only run one race in the rain.  (Thankfully the rain subsided after the first couple of miles.)  After 1.4 miles, my Nike+ crapped out on me and I couldn't use that to check my pace, something I have become very accustomed to using to gauge my performance.  I also use my Nike+ to check on how far I've run.  Normally this wouldn't be a huge deal but the course was not well marked and the last marker was at mile 4.  

The course was also really boring and looped twice through the same neighborhood where everything looked exactly the same.  It was eternal.  Another challenge was that the race was not crowded so for most of it, I was running by myself with just a smattering of people far off in the distance.  Basically, I felt like I was out running a really boring 10-mile Saturday morning run by myself.  I understand that it's a small race so I didn't expect crowds of cheering fans at every turn but I need a little something to keep me going.  Plus I was tired from the start and "mind over matter" was not a phrase that my brain would let me consider.

Wow - reading all this back to myself sure sounds like an awful lot of selfishness and complaining!  Especially since the race is a fund-raiser for Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma (ACC) research and is put on by a wonderful group of volunteers who lost a dear friend and family member, Andi O'Connell, to ACC in 2007.  Therefore, I have to say that the biggest problem of all was my attitude.  I had a bad attitude about it from the get-go so every little thing that wasn't quite right seemed like a huge deal.  I need to lighten up a bit, ya know?  If I do it again next year I'll run it with a friend and keep it light and easy, rather than see it as a chance to try set a new PR.  Just a good run for a worthy cause.  I'm sure that's how Andi would have done it.




Dog Days Are Over / Florence and the Machine
Race for the Prize / The Flaming Lips
Such Great Heights / The Postal Service
I Can't Stand / Otto Vector
Lucid Dreams / Franz Ferdinand
Supermassive Black Hole / Muse
Ruling Me / Weezer
Bad Romance / Lady Gaga
Kick Drum Heart / The Avett Brothers
Second Chance / Peter Bjorn and John
 Under Cover of Darkness / The Strokes
A Matter of Time / Foo Fighters
Lots to Say / Otto Vector
The Great Defector  Bell X1
All the Best / R.E.M.
Take it Off / The Donnas
 Middle of Nowhere  Hot Hot Heat
 Howlin' For You / The Black Keys
  I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That) / Meat Loaf
Run This Town (Ft.Rihanna and Kanye West) / Jay-Z 
Lose Yourself / Eminem
Fighter / Christina Aguilera
Not the Same / Ben Folds
The Whole World / Outkast

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Motor City Brewing Works - Detroit, MI

One of our new favorite dinner spots is Motor City Brewing Works. Brian has long been a fan of their beer, particularly Ghettoblaster, and we both had heard good things about their pizza.  We finally checked it out a few months ago and fell in love with the cozy atmosphere and delicious pizza.  Since that first time we’ve been going on a pretty regular basis. 

There are a few appetizers and salads on the menu but the rest is all pizza.  They have some unique creations that Brian has really enjoyed; however, if you want a vegan pizza you’ll have to build your own.  Their crust is vegan, made only with the most basic ingredients needed to make a chewy medium weight pie.   My favorite pizza is the tomato herb sauce with artichoke hearts and roasted red pepper, along with either spinach, Kalamata olives, or mushrooms.  No cheese, of course.  Each pizza is 10 inches and realistically feeds one person.  I usually end up with 2 pieces left but I could probably finish the whole thing!

I have no idea if the beer and wine is vegan but to be quite honest, I don’t only drink vegan wine.  At least it is made there so it’s local and there’s something to be said for that.  So if you’re in the Detroit area and want to enjoy some good pizza and drinks, check out Motor City Brewing!

Build your own pizza with tomato herb sauce, artichokes, roasted red peppers, and mushrooms - $7 (plus $0.75 per topping)

Motor City Brewing Works is located at 470 West Canfield, Detroit, Michigan 48201

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Spring Cleaning - Fiber Filled Cereal Bars

Not only is this spring cleaning recipe one that cleans out your cupboards, but it just might be one that cleans you out, as well!  I chose to use a high-fiber cereal because I had an open box in the cupboard* but you can use any type of healthy cereal.  You’ll need 4 cups total and can mix and match any way you want.  You can also get creative with different dried fruits, add nuts or chocolate chips, or experiment with different sweeteners or nut butters.  My choices were based purely on what I already had open in the cupboard and refrigerator and the result just happened to be delicious!  I forgot to take a picture before they were gone so you’ll have to use your imagination, although they probably look like any other cereal bar you’ve seen.  Go ahead - make them and enjoy!  (But I caution you not to eat too many at once or you may regret it.)

Fiber Filled Cereal Bars
(based on this recipe)


2 cups oat cereal (I used Cascadian Farms Purely O’s)
2 cups high-fiber cereal (I used Barbara’s High Fiber Original)
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ cup plus 2 tbsp. almond butter (I used Trader Joe's salted with roasted flax seeds)
½ cup brown rice syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract


1. In a large bowl, combine cereals, cranberries, coconut, and cinnamon.
2. In a medium bowl, combine almond butter and brown rice syrup.  Microwave for 1 minute on high.  Add the vanilla extract and stir well.
3. Pour liquid over the cereals and stir well to combine.  
4. Press into an 8x8-inch baking pan.  Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares.  Putting them in the freezer for 45 minutes will help speed up the process.
* Plus I just love fiber!  In some circles I am known as "The Fiber Queen."

Friday, May 13, 2011

On the Run: May and June races

I just thought I'd let you know which races I have coming up in the next month.

I think that will be the end of my spring/summer running season and I'll pick up with races again in September.

What races do you have planned for this spring/summer?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Spring cleaning - Tofu Curry

Of all the meals in the category, this is most-deserving of the Spring Cleaning title.  All the vegetables used were from the freezer.  The expiration date on both the tofu and the rice happened to be the very day I cooked them.  The date on the sauce was a bit old but I figured it was still safe to eat.  Plus I couldn't let something as delicious as a coconut and red pepper curry sauce go to waste!  The sauce was mild but very flavorful and very creamy.  If you can't get your hands on Seeds of Change, any curry sauce would probably work just as well.  You could also use different veggies, add diced potato, replace the tofu with chickpeas, or use a different type of rice.  The possibilities are endless!

This is a medium hot sauce.  The only other vegan flavor is Madras (hot).

Tofu Curry


1 lb. extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed*
Olive oil
1 12-oz. jar Seeds of Change Jalfrezi Simmer Sauce
½ jar water
¾ bag frozen cauliflower
¼ bag frozen peas

2 cups cooked brown jasmine rice, prepared according to package directions


1. Cut pressed tofu into cubes or rectangles.  I cut mine into 25 rectangles (5 slices lengthwise and 5 slices widthwise). 

2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add oil.  When oil is hot, add tofu cubes and cook for a few minutes per side, until all sides are firm and lightly browned. 

3. Reduce heat to simmer.  Add the whole jar of sauce.  Fill the jar about ½ full with water, replace the lid, shake, and pour into pan.  Add cauliflower and peas.  Stir until everything is covered. 

4. Cover the pan and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring a few times, until the veggies are hot.  

5. Serve over rice.
Makes 3-4 servings. 

*I pressed mine all day in the TofuXpress.

We ate the curry and rice with a side of green beans - from the freezer, of course.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Agave Grain Bread

This is one of the tastier breads I’ve made.  It comes from the user manual for my bread machine so it is super easy.  The original recipe is Honey Grain Bread so I just swapped the honey for agave.  The rest of the ingredients were already vegan (provided you use non-dairy margarine, of course).  Although the top of the bread looks a little, um, rustic, the taste and texture is absolutely fabulous.  If you aren’t going to finish eating it in more than a couple of days, however, it will get a little dry and may be best for toast.  

Agave Grain Bread


1 cup water
2 tbsp. non-dairy margarine
1 ½ tbsp. agave
1 tsp. fine sea salt
2 ¼ cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup quick cook oats
1 packet active dry yeast


1.    Measure and add the water, margarine, and agave to the bread pan.
2.    Measure and add the salt, flours, and oats to the bread pan.
3.    Form a well in the center of the flour.  Pour the yeast into the well, being careful not to let the yeast come into contact with the liquid.
4.    Refer to the instructions in your bread machine’s manual for settings.  (I used the “Whole Wheat” setting with “light” crust color.)

Makes one 1.5-pound loaf.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spring cleaning - Teriyaki Chickpeas with Gardein Beefless Tips

Last week I made one of the most simply and surprisingly delicious meals I’ve prepared in some time.  As part of my spring cleaning, I wanted to make a meal using only ingredients I already had in my kitchen.   

This recipe from the Happy Herbivore cookbook was perfect since I always have an abundance of canned chickpeas.  I also happened to have some Gardein Beefless Tips in the freezer that I’ve been looking at for the past month, trying to decide what to do with them. I usually opt for chicken-style seitan over beef but the flavor and texture of these were just right.  Adding them to the chickpeas helped round out the meal and gave it a little something extra that it might have been missing otherwise.  I’ve changed the cooking directions slightly from the original recipe and also omitted the optional sugar and hot sauce. 

Served with a side of oven-roasted baby carrots, this was a filling and satisfying meal.

Teriyaki Chickpeas with Gardein Beefless Tips


¼ cup plus 2 tbsp. teriyaki sauce
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 package Gardein Beefless Tips
Olive oil

Peach-mango salsa (or other fruit salsa, such as mango or pineapple)
1 cup cooked rice (I used brown basmati)


1.    Heat a dry skillet over low heat.  Add chickpeas and ¼ teriyaki sauce.  Cook until the sauce has been absorbed, stirring constantly (about 10 minutes).
2.    Heat a separate skillet over medium heat.  Add a small amount of olive oil and the frozen Beefless Tips.  Cook for about 4 minutes, turning tips often to ensure even browning on all sides.
3.    When the chickpeas are ready, add the tips and 2 tbsp. teriyaki sauce, and stir to combine.  Cover skillet; turn off the burner, and let sit for about 1 minute. 
4.    Serve over rice and top with a few spoonfuls of salsa.

Makes 2 servings.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Oatmeal Cookie Smoothie

As I mentioned the other day, I’m trying to branch out from my tropical green smoothie and recently discovered and fell in love with the Banana Chamomile Morning Smoothie. The nice thing about that one is that the almond milk has a little more staying power than just spinach and fruit so I’m not already starving when I've only just gotten to work.   My other breakfast favorite - oatmeal - sure does the trick but due to some recent dental work, I'm avoiding it for the time being (all those nuts, raisins, flax seeds, and oats sure do stick in my teeth!)

I started to look for other almond milk-based recipes and that’s when I came upon the mother of all smoothies – the Oatmeal Cookie Smoothie.  Talk about the best of both worlds!  It has all the deliciousness of my beloved oatmeal in a no-chew, cold and creamy smoothie.  Paired with a piece of toast*, this breakfast keeps me satisfied until lunch.  

*Note that I have over 6 hours between breakfast and lunch without time for a snack.  If you're able to eat again sooner than 6 hours, you might be satisfied with just the smoothie.

Oatmeal Cookie Smoothie


1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 tbsp. raisins
3 tbsp. old-fashioned rolled oats (I use Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free)
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ginger
¼ tsp. nutmeg
Splash of vanilla extract (optional)
Agave, to taste
1 scoop of VEGA Whole-Food Smoothie Infusion, or other protein powder (optional)
1 cup ice
1 banana, cut into chunks and frozen


1. Combine all ingredients except for the banana and ice the night before.  Let sit in the fridge over night.
2. In the morning, combine the almond milk mixture, frozen banana, and ice and blend until smooth.

Makes 1 large serving.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Thrift store find

Woodbridge Pub - Detroit, MI

Last night we had dinner at Woodbridge Pub, located near Wayne State University in the Historic Woodbridge neighborhood.  The building has been there for a long time but was renovated a few years ago and turned into Woodbridge Pub.  There are lots of big windows to let in natural light and the inside décor is trendy yet homey.  They have a good selection of beer and wine, much of it local.

When we first ate there in the winter I had a delicious tofu sandwich on sourdough bread.  There were several vegetarian and vegan options on the menu, although the sandwich was the only vegan entrée.  When we went last night I was all set to have the sandwich again but was surprised to find a whole different menu.  They have a local and seasonal menu so I was looking at their spring menu.  Their vegan menu items include 2 appetizers, 2 burgers, and 4 sides.  One of the sides is a vegan mac and cheese!  There are also quite a few vegetarian items.  It's a little pricey but considering it's local and the food is really good, I'm okay with paying a little extra.

For an appetizer, Brian and I shared the Red and Black Bean Dip, which is just mashed beans, onions, and spices.  It was very fresh and flavorful.  For my entrée I had the White Bean Burger with a side of grilled asparagus.  The burger was delicious!  The texture, along with the cumin and parsley, reminded me of falafel.  It was served on a fresh bun from Avalon.  Yum!  I’ll definitely be returning for another meal off their spring menu and can’t wait for what their summer menu will offer.  

Red & Black Bean Dip with tortilla chips - $6.00

White Bean Burger - $9.00

Grilled Asparagus - $3.00