Thursday, June 30, 2011

Smokey Sauteed Collards or Kale

Yesterday I posted a recipe for sauteed rainbow chard.  I mentioned that I normally saute collard greens or kale so I thought I'd give you my method for preparing those (which is similar - just different added flavorings).  I don't do much measuring so for those of you who like exact measurements, I apologize.  It's sort of fun to play around with it to fit your tastes anyway.  These taste great with so many dishes - tonight we're having collards with meatless BBQ ribs and sweet potato fries.
curly kale

Smoky Sautéed Collards or Kale 


1 bunch collards or kale, rinsed well
1 sweet onion, such as Vidalia (if it's really large I just use half)
1-2 cloves garlic

Olive oil 
1 cup no-chicken broth (may sub vegetable broth or water)
Low-sodium soy sauce or tamari, to taste
Liquid smoke, to taste


1. Prepare your greens (see below).  Set the leaves aside.  Cut off the the rough ends of the stems and chop the rest into small pieces.  Put into a bowl and set aside.

2. Dice or chop the onion into small strips and put in the bowl with the stems.

3. Mince the garlic and add to the bowl.

4. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Pour in olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add all the vegetables except for the leaves.  Saute for a few minutes, adding a little broth as necessary.  I usually cover with a lid and simmer for a few minutes until the stems are soft and the onions have begun to caramelize, about 5-7 minutes. 

5. Add the leaves to the pan.  If there are a lot you may have to add some, cover, and let them cook down a little until there is room to add the remaining leaves.  Pour in remaining broth.  Sprinkle with a few generous dashes of soy sauce and liquid smoke.  Toss with tongs until everything is evenly mixed.  

6. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the leaves are bright green and tender, tossing a few times and adding more liquid if necessary.  I let the collards go for about 10 minutes; kale will need a little less time. 
7. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

To prep collards: Fold each leaf in half and cut along the rib, separating the leaves into two long strips.  Set the ribs/stems aside.  Do this for each leaf.  Working in batches, pile up some of the cut leaves and roll them up, starting at the top and rolling down to the bottom.  Then, take your knife and cut the rolls into 1-inch sections so you end up with a bunch of collard strips.  Repeat with remaining leaves.

To prep kale: Kale is much easier to prepare.  I usually use curly kale so I just tear off pieces of the leaves, usually keeping the ribs since they aren't as hard as the collard ribs.  

Serves 2.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rainbow Chard

Last week in my CSA share I received a beautiful bunch of rainbow chard.  I often saute kale and collard greens but have never cooked chard before.  I based my recipe on the "Easy Stir-Fried Leafy Greens" recipe from Veganomican but made some modifications.  I also had one lonely kohlrabi from the CSA so I diced that and threw it in with the stems and onions.  You could easily make it without that.
Be careful not to overcook the chard leaves - they are more delicate than collards and kale.  I think I overdid them a bit so the texture was a little off but the flavors worked well together.  Feel free to make adjustments to make this dish your own.  I think some red chili flakes might add a nice bit of spice.  We ate the greens as a side dish with corn on the cob and Amy's Bistro Burgers.  They would also be delicious over brown rice or quinoa or with baked tofu.

Rainbow chard from my Living Stones CSA

Sautéed Chard with Kohlrabi


1 bunch Swiss chard, rinsed well
1 sweet onion, such as Vidalia (I only used half)
2 cloves garlic
1-inch piece of ginger
1 kohlrabi

1 tbsp. sesame oil
Mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
Low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
Brown sugar (just a pinch, optional)


1. Cut the stems off the chard.  They sort of resemble celery stalks.  Chop them as you would celery.  Put them in a bowl.  Cut the leaves width-wise into 2-inch strips.  I cut straight across, leaving the ribs.  Set the leaves aside.

2. Dice or cut the onion into strips and add to the bowl with chard stems.

3. Mince the garlic cloves and ginger.  (I used a micro-plane grater for both.)  Add to onions and stems.

4. Cut the leaves off the kohlrabi and cut them in half width-wise.  Set aside with chard leaves.  Peel and dice the kohlrabi into small pieces, taking care to avoid the hard center.  Add to other vegetables. 

5. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Pour in sesame oil.  When the oil is hot, add all the vegetables except for the leaves.  Saute for a few minutes until they have reached your desired level of tenderness.  I added a little water, covered with a lid, and simmered for a couple of minutes.  

6. Add your chard and kohlrabi leaves to the pan.  Sprinkle with a generous amount of mirin and soy sauce.  Sprinkle with brown sugar if desired.  Stir with tongs so everything is covered.  Cook for maybe 2 minutes, until the leaves are bright green and wilted.  Serve immediately.

Serves 2.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Better Than Gatorade

Recently I wrote a post about adjusting to running in higher heat and humidity and ways to protect your body from heat-related illnesses.  As a follow-up, I wanted to write a brief post about my favorite drink to rehydrate after a particularly grueling run or workout – coconut water.  Not coconut milk, which is the thick, fatty cream that comes from the meat of the coconut.  Coconut water is the clear liquid inside a young coconut.  More like coconut juice, I suppose.

I didn’t discover coconut water until it was in the goodie bag after the Detroit Free Press ½ marathon 2 years ago.  Honestly, when I first tasted it I thought it was disgusting.  I finished it because I was thirsty but it was not something I ever planned on drinking again.  The following summer I read something about the benefits of coconut water so I decided to try it again.  That time I actually liked it.  I think it helped that it was chilled this time.  Chilled coconut water after a long race or a tough outdoor summer boot camp really hits the spot.  Unfortunately, it’s not exactly cheap so although I could drink it on a regular basis, I reserve it for days when I sweat more than usual or feel dehydrated; days when water just doesn’t quite cut it.

Why is coconut water so good for you?  Well, it’s like a natural sports drink because it is full of electrolytes – mainly potassium.  One serving contains more than 2 bananas worth of potassium.  It is also low in calories.  It does contain sugar – 15 grams  - but it is all natural.  Another bonus is that you’ll be able to pronounce and will have heard of all the ingredients listed on the package.  Vita Coco contains coconut water and vitamin C.  Other brands contain only coconut water.

Coconut water, however, is lower in sodium and carbs than Gatorade.  While some people try to watch their intake of both, you do lose sodium through sweat and carbs are essential to help restore your body after a workout.  I just make sure I replenish those with food or a smoothie after my coconut water. 

There are several brands of coconut water out there – Vita Coco, O.N.E., and Zico and a few that I've heard of.  Of these I’ve tried Vita Coco and O.N.E. and both are good.  Some have added juices like pineapple or mango.  These I have not tried.  Since the nutrition panels for the three brands are pretty comparable, for me it comes down to price and availability.  I try to stock up when it’s on sale. Last week Vita Coco was 10/$10 at Kroger instead of $1.79 each.  (Like I said, it's not a cheap route to take.)

If you like sports drinks but would like something more natural, I highly recommend giving coconut water a try.

Do you drink sports drinks or coconut water to replenish electrolytes after a workout?

Monday, June 27, 2011

On the run: The Solstice Run - 10 Miles

On Saturday I ran The Solstice Run in Northville.  I chose the 10 mile run; there was also a 1 mile, 5k, and 10k.  I hadn't run this one before but a few friends who did it last year said it's a very hilly course.  Despite my good intentions, I rarely if ever run hills so I was nervous about facing them.  I was also majorly lacking in confidence after the arduous Dexter-Ann Arbor race a few weeks ago that nearly made me hang up my running shoes for good.  In fact, had I not been registered for this race I likely would have said screw it, I'm done with races.  (Funny thing is that I was in fact NOT pre-registered but by the time I realized that I was all psyched up and had to do it.  And my friend Katie was running so neither of us could back out.)

A little chilly waiting for the race to start.  And yes, we're standing in a construction zone.

The weather couldn't have been more perfect the morning of the race.  It was dry, cloudy but no chance of rain, and actually rather chilly at 7:30 a.m.  There was even a light breeze. Like I said - perfect.  We started out at Northville Downs, where you run once around the track before heading through the parking lot and out onto the road.  Basically the first thing you hit is a big hill.  I'd only run one mile and already I was starting to regret this race.  The remaining 9 miles seemed to stretch endlessly before me.  It was at that point that I told myself to take it slow and see what happened.  I abandoned any expectations about pace and age group rankings.  My goal was to finish without getting a stomach ache (not within my control but I could still hope), without having to stop and walk, and without vowing to quit running forever.  

Amazingly, once I took the pressure off of myself I found that I actually enjoyed the run.  I took in the sights as I ran through beautiful neighborhoods.  I smiled at the people cheering me on.  I even sang along a little to my (mostly) summer-themed playlist.  Each mile, my average pace steadily decreased although I wasn't trying to speed up.  My heart rate wasn't through the roof and I felt good.  

Now, don't let me mislead you about those hills I mentioned.  It WAS hilly.  There were a lot of small rolling hills as well as several pretty steep climbs.  Aside from the first one, the most memorable came at mile 6.  I had just rounded a curve in a subdivision when there it was, looming in the distance.  As if on cue, "Eye of the Tiger" started to play in my ears and I knew I could make it.  I put my head down, leaned forward, shortened my stride, and powered up that hill with Survivor urging me on.  It could have been the end of the race when I got to the top, I felt so triumphant!  And since it I'd just hit the 6-mile mark, I had less than halfway to go.  Wahoo!

I just spotted Brian!

Almost to the finish line.

The rest of the race was pretty uneventful, though it still had its ups and downs (literally).  The course went through some older neighborhoods and back into town.  In the last mile I ran down Main Street, past a one-man band covering Billy Joel and people sipping coffee at outdoor tables, and into Ford Field park where the race ended.  As soon as you crossed the finish line you got your medal and a lei.  (It was a Hawaiian-themed race.)  If you like events with fabulous post-race parties, The Solstice Run is a MUST DO for you.  It was almost like a mini-expo with free food.  The best was the Panera bagels in individually-labeled bags - easy to grab and go!  They also had pizza slices (none vegan, of course), oranges, bananas, and tons of bottled water.  There were hula dancers, music, a man on stilts, and a general air of celebratory excitement.  Right then I decided I'd surely do this race again.  Not just for the party but also because it was a challenging yet manageable course with interesting sights.  My knees were a little sore from the hills but otherwise I felt pretty good.  And I should mention that there were lots of water/Gatorade stations along the course plus one had GU gel packs and another had GU Brew (whatever that is).

Bigger smiles after the race than before. 

We left the party and walked back to Main Street where we got coffee at The Next Chapter Bookstore and Bistro (featured in Scream 4 when the movie filmed in Michigan last summer).  We also popped into Great Harvest Bread Co., mostly just to take in the delicious smell of freshly-baked bread. 

So there you have it - a fabulous day at the races!



Toasted Nuts and Cranberry Luna Bar, banana

California / Phantom Planet
Sloop John B / The Beach Boys
Holiday / Vampire Weekend
Losing California / Sloan
Chop and Change / The Black Keys
What Happened to the Sands / Pas/Cal
Fantastic Voyage / Coolio
Summer of '69 / Bryan Adams
Ghost Town / Shiny Toy Guns
Not Afraid / Eminem
Dani California / The Red Hot Chili Peppers
Miami / Will Smith
Under Cover of Darkness / The Strokes
One Summer Night / that dog
Eye of the Tiger / Survivor
Violet Hour / Sea Wolf
Cruel Summer / Bananarama
Viva la Vida / Coldplay
You Are a Tourist / Death Cab for Cutie
Fighter / Christina Aguilera
Crushcrushcrush / Paramore
Vacation / The Go-Go's
Surfin' Safari / The Beach Boys

(I had a few more "power songs" on the list but I crossed the finish line with the Beach Boys.  Quite appropriate, wouldn't you say?)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Farmer's Market Fridays - 6/24/11

It was a rather dreary day at the Farmer's Market.  The sky was overcast and gray this morning and just as my mom and I left the yoga studio, a light mist began to fall.  The mist soon turned into a drizzle and then into full-fledged rain.  We didn't stay long at the market and I was feeling too cold and damp to even take out my phone to snap a few pictures.  We made our usual stops - Avalon for a date bar, Living Stones for our CSA shares, and Farmer Glen for asparagus and parsnips.  My mom also went to another booth for some potatoes but I didn't catch the name of the farm.  That was it.  We put our goods into her car and hurried into the warmth of the Panera Cares Cafe for a hot cup of coffee, where I enjoyed my date bar.

Fridays are always better when the sun is shining but with yoga, the market, a date bar, and time spent with my mom, who can complain?

Here's what came in our Living Stones CSA share this week:

Radishes and kohlrabi

Colorful chard

Kale and salad mix

Sunflower shoots

Thursday, June 23, 2011

9 Happy Years

Yesterday Brian and I celebrated our 9 year anniversary.  Wow - where has the time gone?  A lot has happened since we got married and having Brian to share all of life's ups and downs with has made it a really great 9 years.  

Since we're going on vacation in less than two weeks, we kept the occasion simple.  Brian didn't object to me going to my boot camp class (at dinner time on our anniversary - that's love!) so instead of a fancy dinner out, he picked up sushi rolls from O Sushi.  I always get the same order - an asparagus roll, a vegetable roll, low-sodium soy sauce, and extra wasabi. 

I may not have made dinner but I did bake the Vanilla-Yogurt Pound Cake from Veganomican for dessert. This recipe is actually the sole reason I bought the cookbook about 4 years ago but I never made it until yesterday.  I figured it was time!  The recipe uses silken tofu and vanilla soy yogurt, which both work to give it the dense and moist texture that makes for a perfect pound cake.  It also uses lemon and orange extracts to give it a hint of citrus.  Although it is sweet and delicious by itself, fresh strawberries made it even more delectable.  I'm sorry I can't post the recipe without permission, so you'll have to be satisfied with a picture (and if you don't already own Veganomican you ought to add it to your collection). 

Fresh strawberries in my new berry bowl - thanks to my Mom for both!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Running in the Heat and Humidity

I read an interesting article on about how your performance can be negatively affected by heat and humidity.  Not that this was news to me - I experience this firsthand every summer.  What I didn’t realize, however, is just how much even slight temperature increases can slow you down.  For example, the article states that someone who runs an average 8-minute-per-mile pace might slow down by anywhere between 5 seconds and 1 minute, 35 seconds, depending on the temperature.  Add humidity on top of that and I imagine it’s even worse.      
Obviously, this is an example and everyone deals with heat differently but it helped me feel a little better about my performance during the Dexter-Ann Arbor ½ Marathon!  I have a race this Saturday so I’ll have to remember to start out a little more slowly until I get a feel for how the temperature will affect me.  And I need to make sure I stop for a drink at every aid station, whether I feel thirsty or not, since being dehydrated obviously makes you more susceptible to heat illness.

The article gives some suggestions for dealing with heat and also ways to help your body acclimate to hotter conditions.  When I think of training I think of speed work, hills, endurance runs, etc. but I never would have thought about training my body in this way.  Even if you aren’t training to run through the desert, just adjusting to the season changes in Michigan can be challenging.  I think if you follow some of the recommendations and give your body a little extra time to acclimate at the beginning of the summer, it will make for a more enjoyable running season.

You can read part 1 and part 2 of the article on

What do you do to help your body adjust to running in the summer heat and humidity?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Israeli Couscous and Roasted Vegetable Salad

The other day Hannah from Bittersweet posted a delicious looking recipe for a cold couscous salad.  It looked so good and I loved the idea of making a great big grain salad that I could prepare in advance and have ready for a few quick meals during the week.  I immediately printed out the recipe so I could get to work gathering my ingredients.  When I realized that I was missing half of the dressing ingredients and would have to go to either Whole Foods or Zerbo's to get them, I decided to hold off and make it another time.  But I couldn't stop thinking about a couscous salad.  I decided to use her idea as an inspiration, along with some roasting suggestions from various places online and Susan V's Roasted Baby Tomatoes recipe, to create my own dish.  

I must admit, this was rather time-consuming since my oven isn't big enough to roast all the vegetables at once and I had to do it in two rounds.  Had I been feeling less grill-shy I would have grilled the veggies instead, which would be quicker and would heat the house less.  But although it's a bit more work up front, it will make for easy meals later in the week.

I didn't add any oil or dressing to the salad because the veggies were so flavorful on their own.  The only oil comes from what I used to roast the veggies.  If you want to go oil-free, you could roast them on parchment paper but you won't get that caramelized flavor.  This recipe can be easily modified based on your tastes and what vegetables and herbs you have.  I like the hearty Israeli couscous but you could substitute a different grain, such as quinoa, rice, or faro. We ate this as a main dish with a raw kale salad on the side.  (The kale came from our Living Stones CSA.)  It would also be a nice side dish with tofu or tempeh.

Israeli Couscous & Roasted Vegetable Salad
(printable recipe)


3-4 summer squash, cut in half lengthwise and then into 1 inch slices
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1 inch pieces
Sweet onion (such as Vidalia), sliced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

1-2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 ½ cups Israeli couscous (I used tri-color)
1 can (14 oz.) vegetable broth

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
¼ cup pinenuts, lightly toasted in a dry skillet
Fresh basil leaves, torn


For the squash, peppers, and onions
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Spray two large baking sheets with olive oil.
2. On one sheet, lay the squash slices in a single layer.  Spray lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
3. Repeat with the peppers and onions on the other baking sheet.
4. Roast for 30-40 minutes, until the vegetables begin to get brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

For the tomatoes and garlic

1. While the veggies are roasting, prep the tomatoes and garlic.  Spray a glass baking dish with olive oil.  Add tomatoes in a single layer.  Spray lightly with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper, and minced garlic.
2. When the other veggies are done, turn up the oven to 450 degrees F.  Roast the tomatoes for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven, stir, and return to the oven for another 20 minutes.
3. Remove from oven and gently press each tomato with the back of a spoon to smash.  Allow to cool.

For the couscous

1.  While the veggies are roasting, bring the broth to a boil in a medium saucepan.
2. Add the couscous, stir, and lower heat to simmer.  Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring a few times, until liquid has been absorbed.
3. Pour couscous into a mesh sieve and rinse with cool water.  Drain well and put it into a large serving bowl.

Putting it all together

When cool, add roasted veggies (along with any juice from the tomatoes) to couscous.  Add chickpeas and pine nuts.  Stir well.  Add fresh basil to taste.  Serve cold or at room temperature.  

Makes about 8 cups.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Simple Strawberry Jam

As I mentioned in my post last week, I bought some wonderful Michigan strawberries at the Dearborn Farmer's and Artisan Market.  In a move very unlike me, I decided to turn them into jam.  I wanted an easy recipe that didn't have a lot of sugar, didn't use pectin, and didn't take a lot of time.  I looked a lot of recipes online and finally found one that fit all of my requirements.  It uses agave nectar instead of sugar, there's no pectin or other thickener, and it takes only 1 hour from start to finish (with much of that time being inactive as it simmers away on the stove).  I only had a quart of berries, which turned out to be around 3 cups once they were hulled and cut in half.  The 3 cups resulted in about 1 cup of jam, which is not very much but it's enough for Brian and me.  You could make a larger batch but you'll have to either can it, share it, or eat it quickly.  It's so delicious, though, that it might not last as long as you'd think!

Strawberry Agave Jam recipe from Simply...Gluten-Free can be found here.

2 simple ingredients - 3 cups fresh strawberries and 1/2 cup agave nectar

Combine berries and agave in a medium saucepan.  Stir well.

Begin to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Bring to a boil.  Once boiling, stir and reduce heat to simmer.

Continue to simmer and stir occasionally for 30-40 minutes.  Gently mash berries with a potato masher when they have softened enough to do so.

Near the end you'll want to keep a closer eye on it and stir more constantly.  When it has thickened to a jam-like consistently, remove from heat and allow to cool.

Store in a glass jar or bowl for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Spread on a hearty piece of homemade bread, such as my Agave Grain Bread.  Enjoy!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dinner Tonight at Woodbridge Pub

I'm super excited about tonight!  I'm going to dinner at Woodbridge Pub with my friends Katie and Tony.  Woodbridge still has their spring menu for a few days before it changes over to the summer menu.  While I'm really looking forward to seeing what's on the new menu and trying something different, my favorite burger may not be on it.  Therefore, tonight may be my last chance to have the Stever McFever for a while.  What's the Stever McFever, you ask?  Only THE best black bean burger around, that's what!  It's a flavorful, handmade patty topped with grilled onions (but I leave those off), fresh tomato, avocado creme, and the most delicious balsamic glaze I've ever tasted.  It's served on a hearty Avalon vegan bun with a side of fresh tortilla chips.  Warning: The balsamic glaze may get a little messy but it's totally worth it.  (The bathroom is really nice so you can wash your hands after.)

Stever McFever - $9.00

Last time Brian and I were there we were celebrating that I was done with the school year so we splurged a little bit.  For an appetizer we had the salsa verde, which is incredibly delicious.  It had just the right amount of heat and the onions weren't overpowering. 

Salsa Verde w/ tortilla chips - $6.00
We each also ordered a side to go with our burgers.  I had the Spring Vegetable Saute, which is a mix of asparagus, carrots, sweet peas, and I think strips of green onion.  Brian ordered the Vegan "Mac 'n Cheese."  It was funny when he ordered it because even though it clearly says it's vegan on the menu, the server gave him a long look and said, "You know that's vegan, right?"  Anyway, it was pretty tasty and had a surprising spiciness to it; however, it seemed a little dry to me.  I probably wouldn't order it for myself but later I wondered if you mixed it together with the spring vegetables, maybe it would be a nice combination.  Brian liked the mac 'n cheese, though, and felt it was a nice complement to his (non-vegan) Hipster Burger.

Spring Vegetable Saute - $3.00

Vegan "Mac 'n Cheese" - $3.00

As I said, the new menu will be rolled out on Tuesday for the Summer Solstice.  I won't make it to Woodbridge on Tuesday but I can guarantee it won't be very long before I go check it out.  I'll be sure to let you know what vegan dishes they come up with this season!

Woodbridge Pub is located at 5169 Trumbull in Detroit
Open Monday-Wednesday 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.; Thursday 11:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 11:00 a.m. - midnight; Sunday 11:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Farmer's Market Fridays - 6/17/11

Friday is my favorite day of the week, even in the summer when I'm not working and waiting for the weekend.  My mom and I spend the morning together.  We start with a 7:45 yoga session at Sattva Yoga Center, which was particularly challenging for me today due to the fact that it has been months since I've done yoga and I haven't been very good about stretching after my workouts.  Touch my toes?  I could barely touch my knees!  Hopefully next week will be a little easier.

Our next stop after yoga is the Dearborn Farmer's and Artisan Market.  Today is a gorgeous, sunny day - perfect for strolling around looking at all the beautiful flowers and plants, fresh greens, and ripe red Michigan strawberries.  I of course made a beeline straight to Avalon, as I do every week, for my date bar.  (Read my previous post for more about Avalon and my date bar obsession.)  Today they had a lot of their vegan goodies but I exercised restraint and only bought the date bar.  Although the 2-pack of Dequindre Cut Trail Mix cookies was awfully tempting...

The carrot cake, granola bars, and date bars are all vegan.  I can vouch for all of them - they are delicious!

Once I'd secured my date bar, we headed over to Living Stones Farm so we could pick up our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares.  My mom gets half a share and my friend and I are sharing a full.  Living Stones is great because they help people with training and skills after they have been incarcerated.  They are wonderful people and their produce has never been anything but fresh and delicious.  Today our share included collards, salad mix, radishes, kale, lettuce, and sunflower shoots. We love having Amy as our personal farmer!

Next we went to visit our other favorite farmer - Farmer Glen.  He's there every week, rain or shine, always in his overalls and with a big smile on his face.  If you want some really delicious carrots, parsnips, asparagus, or Brussels sprouts, you have to get them from Farmer Glen.  Since I'd gotten so much from our CSA, however, I only bought a basil plant.  I think it's about time I plant my herb garden and you can't have an herb garden without basil.  My mom bought asparagus and Romain lettuce.

I love the handmade "no spray" signs he puts on everything!

We also went to Traffic Jam and Snug, where I bought Brian a package of Oatmeal Walnut Chocolate Chip cookies - 5/$5 and they are huge!  Unfortunately, Traffic Jam is not quite as vegan-friendly as Avalon so I don't ever get anything there for myself.

New to the market this year is Cellar Door Soap Co., which has a large selection of eco-friendly handmade soaps that are ALL VEGAN!  Even the Oatmeal Milk and Honey soap, which contains neither milk nor honey, is vegan.  Of course I had to buy it.  Each bar is $6 or you can buy 3/$15.  Along with the Oatmeal Milk and Honey I bought Vanilla Almond and Lime in the Coconut.  I see myself making several return trips to Cellar Door in the coming months to try the other scents.

Although I had already spent quite enough money as it was, I couldn't resist buying a quart of Michigan strawberries.  There's really no comparison between Michigan berries straight from a local farm and the California berries I usually buy at Kroger.  They are well-worth the higher price tag.

Fresh berries from Prochaska Farms

After we're done at the market we always walk over to the Panera Cares Cafe where we have coffee and I eat my date bar.  THIS is the best part of the morning!  (If you are unfamiliar with how Panera Cares Cafe differs from the regular Panera Cafes, please read  this article.  It's wonderful that they chose to open one in Dearborn and I support them whenever I can.)

So there you have it - all the reasons I love my summer Fridays.  Now I'd say it's time for a quick run and a refreshing Banana Chamomile Smoothie.  Happy Friday!

NOTE: Check back next week for more pictures.  I was trying to juggle my purse, produce, and baked goods (all while protecting my precious date bar) and in the process dropped my iPhone on the ground.  Thankfully it's okay but I was a little hesitant to take photos after that!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cafe Muse - Royal Oak, MI

At first glance, the breakfast menu for Café Muse does not appear to be very vegan-friendly.  There's a lot of eggs, cheese, buttermilk, and whipped cream.  There’s steak, sausage, bacon, and salmon.  And you can guarantee that not one of those pancakes is vegan. 

Go all the way down to the sides, however, and you’ll see the muffins have the following disclaimer – “we’d tell you they were vegan but you wouldn’t believe us.”  You can choose from cranberry orange, lemon poppy seed, and blueberry.  Last time we went I ordered the lemon poppy seed muffin and it was delicious.  Most vegan muffins I eat I make myself and always use bananas or applesauce instead of oil but Café Muse clearly does not make any such substitutions.  This was the real deal.  It was the kind of muffin that makes you feel like you may as well be eating a slab of cake for breakfast.  Not that that’s a bad thing (every once in a while).  I also ordered a side of fruit, which isn’t on the menu by itself, but our server was fine with it.  The fruit was very fresh, ripe, and delicious.  It was a little over-priced but that’s what I expected.

Fresh Fruit - $4.00, Lemon Poppy Seed Muffin - $2.75

On the sides menu you’ll also find toast, which is vegan as long as you remember to order it dry, with French jam.  They also have steel-cut oatmeal with apples and I never asked but I assume it’s probably made with milk.  You never know, though.

If you are looking for something savory, do check out the specials menu, which always has a vegan option.  It’s usually a tofu scramble.  I’ve had a few before and they’ve been pretty good; however, they’re a little oily and the last one had cubed tofu pieces instead of scrambled, which was disappointing.  The combinations are unique and the veggies are always fresh.  I’m pretty sure they do local and seasonal when possible.  With the scramble you have your choice of garlic sautéed fingerling potatoes or mashed sweet potatoes with brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla.  The sweet potatoes are vegan, even though they are so smooth and creamy you’d hardly believe it.  I almost don’t.  You also get toast with the scramble and usually a small side of fruit.  For around $10, it’s not a bad way to go.  I’ve asked before about a sweet vegan special, such as pancakes or French toast, but they have yet to put anything on the menu.  Please help me pester them about this.

I’ve never been for lunch or dinner but they have a black bean, brown rice, and red lentil vegan burger that I’d like to try.  Definitely make reservations for lunch or dinner and if you’ll have more than 2 people or are going at a peak time, either do call-ahead seating or make reservations for breakfast.  I always dress pretty casually for breakfast but I think you’ll want to look a little more presentable for dinner.  

If you’re looking for an upscale restaurant for a classy vegan breakfast or brunch, look no further than Royal Oak’s Café Muse.

Café Muse is located at 418 South Washington Avenue in Royal Oak