Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back to Work, Back to Reality

Although summer may not officially be over until September 22nd, it has already come to an end for me.  I know that many of you reading this are not teachers and probably feel no pity that I have to work again after having two and a half months off.  I am not, however, going to turn this into a defensive piece about my job schedule (but seriously - spend a school year in my shoes and you'd need that break, too!).  

No, I just want to let you know that after spending just two full days in my classroom, I am exhausted.  Too exhausted to post a recipe, upload a picture, or reflect on yesterday's run.  Getting ready to teach a new group of students each year is challenging enough but it's even more overwhelming when you've moved to a new classroom and will be teaching a new grade.  One that you've only taught for half a year.  The second half of the year.  By that point those kids were teaching me! 

Anyway, my point is that I'll be very busy with work now and when I'm not working, I'll be trying to squeeze in my runs, get to the gym, and make healthy dinners using the fresh produce from our CSA before it shrivels up in the vegetable drawer.  These will all stay priorities for me but I will definitely have to do some picking and choosing.  Like maybe I can't do a morning run AND an afternoon weight session AND cycle class all in the same day.  (Hmmm, maybe having less time to work out will be good for me...)

I've had so much fun blogging on a regular basis this summer and I'm sad that I won't have as much time to work on it as I did then.  But don't worry - I'm not going to stop completely!  Hopefully I can still do a few posts a week.  Once I get into the swing of things with work it will get easier to manage my time so be sure to keep checking in!

Thanks for reading!

Are any of you getting ready for a new school year (as a student, parent, teacher)?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Breakfast for Dinner: Not Moby's Blueberry Pancakes

Did you see "The Limo" episode of How I Met Your Mother where the gang followed a random guy around New York because they thought he was Moby?  It turned out he was not Moby so they referred to him as Not Moby for the rest of the episode.

Well, Moby has a recipe for blueberry pancakes that he shared "exclusively" with Epicurious (although you can find it on countless recipe sites).  I made these a few years ago for a Sunday brunch and they were well-received by both vegans (me) and non-vegans (everyone else) alike. They are a decidedly healthy pancake - spelt flour, wheat bran, oat bran, and no added sweetener.  While they aren't going to be mistaken for an IHOP pancake, we all thought they were very tasty.

Last Monday Brian and I decided to make breakfast for dinner.  We usually make banana nut pancakes but since we just had banana bread, we thought we'd go for something different.  I promised Brian the best blueberry pancakes he's ever eaten because we were making Moby's pancakes.  (Good thing Brian had never had blueberry pancakes.  If he had, these might not quite have lived up to his expectations.)

The pancakes were good but I don't think they were quite right.  They were really dense - almost more like a muffin than a pancake - and kind of dry.  Maybe I should have added a little more milk to the batter.  Or maybe I should have followed Moby's recipe more closely and used soy or rice milk instead of almond.  Precise measurements probably would have helped, too.

Because these ultra-dense pancakes weren't turning out quite right, Brian and I began to refer to them as Not Moby's pancakes.  Moby seems like a great guy so I'm sure he would have overlooked the texture and still claimed the recipe as his own.  But the kiss of death for Moby's pancakes, the element that made them cross over to the dark side and really become Not Moby's pancakes, was not their texture.  No, what made these uber-healthy pancakes Not Moby's was the river of syrup I poured all over them.  Not maple syrup.  Not agave.  Nope.  It was good old-fashioned Mrs. Butterworth.  I'm talking about the kind with high-fructose corn syrup (that I generally scour ingredient lists for so as to avoid it completely) as a top ingredient.  

Yes, that kind of syrup. 

Am I proud to admit this?  No.  No I'm not.  Why admit it then, when I could tell you I ate the pancakes with just a light drizzle of pure maple syrup and a smattering of fresh berries?  Because I'm not perfect and even the most health-conscious people have their moments.  Life goes on and it's okay.  

What would Moby say about me defiling his healthy blueberry pancakes with Mrs. Butterworth in all her high-fructose glory?  It doesn't matter what Moby would say because these are Not Moby's pancakes.

You can find Moby's recipe here.  I suggest you give it a try.  If they don't turn out quite right, you've made Not Moby's pancakes.  And then you can smother them with whatever kind of syrup - and however much of it - you want!


As you can see, I cleverly hid the syrup in this fancy little pitcher!


What do you put on your pancakes?
 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Farmer's Market Fridays - 8/26/11

Oh, Farmer's Market Fridays...I knew from the start that what we shared this summer had an expiration date; however, that didn't make our last day together any less difficult.  Next Friday I'll be back at work and I don't have a Friday off until long after the market has ended for the year.  (But sometimes I can only get doctor appointments on Friday mornings - cough! cough! - so we may meet again.)

It was sad to say my good-byes to all my Friday friends - Chuck at yoga (though I can see him other days during the school year), Mike from Avalon, Amy and Charlie from Living Stones, and Farmer Glen from Chelsea, MI.  Of course either Katie or my mom will continue to pick up our CSA share, so I'll still get that each week.  And if I want a date bar I know my mom would grab one for me.  It just isn't the same as being there, though.  And all the potatoes and carrots that my mom could get for me from Farmer Glen just won't cut it when I don't get to hear him say, "Take 'er easy!" when we say good-bye.  sigh.  The memories.  I wore my sunglasses so no one could see my tears.  (Just kidding - the real tears will come NEXT Friday when reality sets in.)

I'm thankful that it was a perfect summer day for my last one at the market.  All the produce was bright and bountiful.  I sort of wanted to buy everything but managed to exercise great restraint.  (Our refrigerator only holds so much.)  I bought a huge watermelon from Farmer Glen that I'll cut up for Brian's birthday dinner on Sunday.  I also bought 2 quarts of the amazing peaches to share with Katie so I can make peach crisp.  Mmmmm, I can't wait!


Flaming Fury peaches from Kapnick Orchard

A HUGE watermelon from Farmer Glen


In the CSA share today we got the following:
  • 2 bunches of beets (1 red, 1 golden)
  • 2 bunches of kale (1 red curly, 1 dinosaur)
  • 4 big tomatoes
  • 3 jalapeno peppers
  • 2 Thai peppers
  • 1 cantaloupe
  • 2 summer squash
  • 2 patty pan squash
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 2 eggplants

CSA share

By the time I had all that, plus the watermelon, peaches, a package of cookies for Brian, and 2 date bars*, I could barely carry everything back to the car!  I definitely got in my strength workout for the day!

Since we've gone to Starbucks the past few weeks, my mom and I went to Panera Cares today for our coffee.  Since they're non-profit, it's always nice to go there and give a little extra to help out those who don't have enough money for a good meal.

I'm going to head out now for my run and then cool off with a refreshing Banana Chamomile Smoothie.  Maybe I'll sit out on the patio, sip that, and do the crossword puzzle.  Yes, that sounds like a great thing to do on this gorgeous summer day.

Happy Friday!

*The 2nd date bar is for my friend Aaron, who has been dropping not-so-discreet hints about me bringing one to boot camp for him on Saturday.  I thought he might need a little motivation to get out of bed in the morning!  This is also a test to see if he actually reads my blog posts.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Revisiting the Question - Can I Call Myself a Runner?

In July I wrote a post about whether or not I can call myself a runner.  At the time I was doing very little running other than races.  My in-between race runs were short as well as few and far between.  And I didn't particularly enjoy them.  In fact, I dreaded them so much that I talked myself out of running more times that I care to admit.  I wasn't doing much to try and change how I felt.  I accepted that I'm just not a runner.  And you know what?  I was okay with that.

Since then I've had a change of heart.  I've been running 6 days a week and I've actually been (hold onto your hats here!) enjoying it.  Almost every day I get up around 6:30 or 7:00, put on my running clothes, and head out for a short run.  I have a few different routes in the same general area and each is between 2-3 miles.  They're nice, short runs to give me a kick-start on my day.  I'm usually stiff, tired, and a little crabby when I leave (I think Brian is glad to see me go!) but as I run my muscles loosen up and the grouchiness starts to melt away.  Even though I'm only out for about 20 minutes, it's long enough to give me that exercise high and I come home much happier than when I left (for which Brian is quite thankful, I'm sure).

There are a couple of things that have helped me enjoy running more:

1. Routine - I got myself into a routine and stuck with it long enough to make it a habit.  Now if I don't run I just don't feel right.  Even if I have a class at the gym later in the day, I still go on my morning run because that's just how I start my day now.  Once work starts I'll have to get up earlier but I'm still planning on a daily run.  (I'll let you know how that goes!)

2. Distance - I've kept my runs short because, unless it's a race, I don't like long runs.  2-3 miles is not far and it's over before I know it.  I used to think that it wasn't worth working up a sweat for only 20 minutes but now I know better.  It's totally worth it.  Then if I can work out later in the day, it's like a bonus.  And if I can't work out later in the day?  At least I did something. 

3. Expectations - Although I still run with my Nike+, I haven't been pressuring myself to stick to a certain pace.  I just get out there and go, running faster or slower depending on how I'm feeling.  If I had boot camp or cycle the night before, or if it's especially hot or humid, I'm probably going to be running slower.  If I rested the day before or if the temperature is cooler, I'll be running faster.  I do what I can do and at the end when I see my average pace, I don't let a slower pace get to me.  It is what it is. 

Thanks to these changes I've made over the summer, I really do enjoy running now.  It gets me moving, clears my head, and gives me a chance to think about and plan my day ahead.  (Or when work starts again soon, a chance to blow off steam after stressful days teaching 1st graders!)  

Will my 2-3 miles a day prepare me for the 1/2 marathon I'm running in October?  Not likely.  Will I up my mileage so I'm better prepared to run the 13.1 miles?  Even less likely.  Although yes, I do like running, I don't like it THAT much.  I think a few 10Ks between now and then, along with race day adrenaline, will be enough to get me to the finish line.  I just won't expect to set any records.  But I'm okay with that.

So when I go back to my original question, "Can I call myself a runner?", I think that now I can say yes, I am a runner.  Not because I run more often.  Not because someone told me I'm a runner.  And not because I have the gnarly toenails and calluses to prove it.  No, I'm a runner because I feel like a runner and I want to be a runner.  For now, at least.  And you know what?  I'm okay with that.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

PB2 Smoothie

So it's taken me almost a month to use my precious PB2 for anything other than PB2 Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls but finally I made what I've been thinking about making for weeks - the PB2 Smoothie.  Katie makes it all the time and while it sounded delicious, I just love the cookie dough balls too much to use the PB2 for anything elseWhen she returned from a recent Seattle trip with FOUR jars for me, however, I figured I could spare some for a smoothie.

So the other day I made the smoothie.  Wow!  That's just about all I can say.  Wow!  It is so creamy and delicious.  It has the taste and consistency of a milkshake.  A healthy milkshake!  It is going to join the regular rotation of my favorite dessert-like smoothies - Banana Chamomile, Oatmeal Raisin Cookie, and the latest - Carrot Cake.  I already have plans for some variations so I'll call this the Basic PB2 Smoothie.

If you don't have any PB2, you can substitute regular peanut butter.  (And then order yourself some PB2 today!)



Basic PB2 Smoothie
Ingredients:

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 tbsp. PB2 
Agave (to taste)
1/8 tsp. xanthan gum (optional - makes it even creamier) 
1-2 frozen bananas (cut into chunks before freezing)
Small handful ice cubes

Directions:

1. Combine almond milk, PB2, agave, and xanthan gum (if using) in your blender.

2. Add frozen banana chunks and ice; blend until smooth.  

Makes 1 serving.


Do you make peanut butter smoothies?  What's your favorite recipe?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Almost-Instant Peach Crisp


I still had a few peaches left from Friday's farm market trip and they were all I could think about eating for lunch on Sunday.  I recently saw a recipe for a 2-ingredient microwave peach crisp that uses peaches and granola.  Instead of granola, however, I used old-fashioned oats and then topped it with vanilla soy yogurt.  (There's so much sugar in the yogurt that it was sweet enough with plain oats.)  The microwaving warms them a bit and gives the peaches a perfect texture - slightly soft and juicy but not mushy. 

This is so quick, healthy, and delicious - perfect for a lite breakfast, lunch, or snack.  For dessert, top it with vegan whipped cream - homemade or store-bought - or non-dairy vanilla ice cream instead of yogurt.  


Microwave Peach Crisp

Ingredients:

2 fresh peaches, unpeeled and sliced
3 tbsp. old-fashioned oats
6 oz. vanilla soy yogurt
 
Directions:  

1. Sprinkle 2 tbsp. oats in the bottom of a microwave-safe dish.

2. Lay peach slices over the oats in a single layer.  Sprinkle with remaining 1 tbsp. oats.

3. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on full power for 1 minute. 

4. Remove plastic wrap.  Top with soy yogurt.

Makes 1 serving.




Tonight is a special evening Dearborn Farmer's Market from 5-8 p.m.  Brian and I will make a quick stop to see which vendors are there.  My fingers are crossed for Kapnick Orchard and their fabulous peaches!

What's your favorite way to eat fresh peaches?


Monday, August 22, 2011

Easy Eggplant Curry

Here's a quick and easy eggplant curry that you can make for a Meatless Monday meal - or any night of the week!  I made this last Monday.  I used a small, round, light purple (Asian variety?) eggplant from our CSA share.  I chose to leave the skin on but you could peel it, if you'd like.  

If you have the time, prep the eggplant an hour or so before cooking:  cut it into cubes and place in a colander or on a baking sheet lined with paper towel.  Sprinkle with salt to draw out some moisture. 






Eggplant Curry
(printable recipe)

Ingredients:

Olive oil
1 eggplant (any variety should work), cut into 1-inch cubes
12 oz. jar of red curry sauce (I used Seeds of Change - Madras Simmer Sauce)
3/4 cup water (or fill the jar halfway and swish it around to get remaining sauce)
1 cup frozen cauliflower
1/4 cup frozen peas
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1-2 cups cooked rice (I used brown jasmine)


Directions:

1. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add a small amount of olive oil.  Once the oil is hot, add eggplant cubes and saute until tender and just starting to brown, about 8-10 minutes.

2. Add sauce and water.  Stir to combine.

3. Add frozen cauliflower and peas.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.  Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

4. Add chickpeas.  Stir, cover, and simmer for another 5 minutes until chickpeas are heated through.

5. Serve over rice.

Makes 3 servings.


I served the curry with a side of collard greens (also from the CSA), simply sauteed with some No Chicken broth and a dash of liquid smoke.


Tonight we're having breakfast for dinner - blueberry pancakes, Gimme Lean sausage patties, and cantaloupe.  Yum! 


What are you eating for your Meatless Monday meal?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Creamsicle Smoothie

Yesterday I tried out a new smoothie combination - cantaloupe and banana.  I used both fresh and frozen cantaloupe to make it easier to blend.  The bananas were, of course, frozen.  I was just going to use those two ingredients but at the last minute decided to add a little almond milk and a handful of ice cubes.  The result was an ultra creamy mixture that was reminiscent of another flavor I vaguely remembered.  I couldn't quite put my finger on it at first but then it hit me.  Creamsicle!  Granted, it's been years since I've had a creamsicle so maybe my taste buds don't remember it quite right but that's what I can best liken it to.  I made it after my morning run and it was a very refreshing way to cool off and recover.

If you'd like a sweeter smoothie, add a little agave or use sweetened almond milk.  I thought it was perfect without either but it depends on the ripeness of the melon.  This recipe makes a very large serving - possibly 2 servings - but I don't mess around and make skimpy smoothies!  It would, however, be very easy to cut in half for a smaller size.  


I had an unexpected visitor right when I poured this so the picture was taken after it sat for about 5 minutes.  It wasn't so melty-looking at first!


Banana Cantaloupe Smoothie - a.k.a. "Creamsicle Smoothie"
(printable recipe)
 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 cup fresh cantaloupe chunks
1 cup frozen cantaloupe chunks
2 frozen bananas, cut into chunks
Handful of ice cubes

Directions: 

First blend almond milk and cantaloupe chunks (both fresh and frozen).  Then add bananas and ice and blend until creamy.

Makes 1 large smoothie.

Do YOU think this tastes like a creamsicle?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Farmer's Market Fridays - 8/19/11

It wasn't easy getting out of bed this morning.  I was tired and just not feeling well.  But I got myself up and dressed for yoga anyway.  I was sort of a zombie when I got to Sattva and considered doing child's pose for the whole session.  So you can imagine my surprise when we got started and my yoga practice felt better than it has the past few weeks.  We did almost all standing poses, for which I am always thankful.  I tried to concentrate on my breathing and focus on the moment, instead of letting my mind wander to which running route I'll take later or what kind of smoothie I'll have for lunch.  (This has been a real struggle for me lately.)  To do this I just repeated the name of the pose over and over in my mind.  It actually worked!  I'll have to try that again next week. 

The farmer's market was good today.  It's bright and sunny and there's not a cloud in the sky so it's one of those days where it just feels great to be outside.  We ran into my sister-in-law Allison and my niece and nephew, Ava and Karl.  They are just the cutest kids!  After getting their Avalon goodies (no one - not even kids - can resist Avalon!*) they were on a hunt to find the banana.  (Each week a plastic banana is hidden with a different vendor and when a kid finds it he or she wins a prize.)  It must have been hidden well because Ava and Karl couldn't find that banana anywhere!  I bet it was disguising itself as a summer squash.  Tricky banana!

Next I picked up my Living Stones CSA.  Here's what we got this week:


golden beets

collard greens, cabbage, and kale

cucumbers, jalapenos, and squash

tomatoes

cantaloupe


We visited Farmer Glen for some of his sweet carrots.  I had some last week and they were delicious.





Our last stop was Kapnick Orchard where my mom wanted to buy peaches.  I wasn't going to buy any but after sampling a bite I had no choice.  The man who sold them to me said, "These are no supermarket peaches!"  And he was right.  These are the kind that are so fresh and juicy that you have to eat them standing over the sink because you'll end up with peach juice running down your arms.  Yum!



There was one more but I ate it pretty much as soon as I walked in the door.


After the market we got iced coffees from Starbucks, which I enjoyed with my Avalon date bar.  (I didn't take a picture because it pretty much always looks the same.  You can look at last week's bar if you'd like.)

So that was the morning.  What's next on the agenda?  Not much.  I'm still not feeling well so it'll be a bit of a lazy day.  I told Brian I can't guarantee that I won't be in my pj's when he gets home.  (Mind you, I was in my pj's last Friday when he got home and I was feeling fine.  But let's pretend today is an exception, shall we?)

Happy Friday! 


* I take that back.  There is apparently someone who can resist.  A woman stopped at the Avalon table and after examining all the sweets, she turned away and said, "No, I think I'll have a hot dog instead."  Let me also note that this was 9:00 a.m.  Whatever floats your boat, lady.



Thursday, August 18, 2011

Homemade Fat-Free Potato Chips

Last week I mentioned in my Farmer's Market Fridays post that I bought some potatoes from Farmer Glen so I could make fat-free potato chips.  And I told you I'd give you the recipe.  And then I made you wait almost a week for it.  Cruel, aren't I?  

First off, let me be clear that I did not come up with this recipe myself.  If only I were that good.  No, the credit goes to Susan from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen blog.  She posted this potato chip recipe back in 2008 and I finally got around to trying it last week.  Trust me when I tell you that YOU won't want to wait 3 years before making these!

You can find Susan's original recipe here

In order to make these, your microwave must have a glass turntable tray, otherwise this recipe won't work!

I made mine a little differently than hers.  My slices were probably thicker and I used a different kind of potato; both are factors that may have affected the cooking time.  Cooking times will also vary depending on the strength of your microwave.  I will give you the recipe as I made it but please also consult Susan's before making your own.


Microwave Potato Chips 

Ingredients:

2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and peeled
Sea salt

Parchment paper
 
Directions:

1. Slice the potatoes as thinly and evenly as possible.  I used the slicing disk on my food processor to make sure that they were all the same thickness.  (In order to fit them I had to cut the potatoes in half but ideally I'd have circles.)

2. Line the microwave turntable tray with parchment paper.  Lay your potato slices on the parchment paper.  Fit as many as you can without overlapping.  Sprinkle with salt.

3. Microwave at full power until dark spots begin to appear.  Susan suggests 4-6 minutes but my slices must have been thicker so mine took a lot longer.  [See NOTE.]  Just take a quick peek and if you don't see any spots, quickly turn back on for another few minutes, then check again.  Be careful not to overcook, though.

4. Once the spots have appeared, turn off the microwave for 1 minute.  (Do not remove potato slices.)

5. Microwave again at full power until all chips are nice and brown, being careful not to burn them.  Allow to cool before eating.


NOTE: With my latest batch, it went something like this: microwave for 10 minutes, let rest for 1 minute, microwave for 3 minutes, let rest for 1 minute, microwave for 3 minutes, etc.  I think you get it.  Like I said, my slices were very thick this last time so it took a lot longer.  Personally, I like them that way, but just know that it will take longer to cook them.


before

after


Next time I might try some of the seasonings that Susan suggests, such as chili powder or Creole seasoning.  Fresh ground pepper would be good, too.  She also suggests dipping them in cider vinegar and then salting them for a salt and vinegar chip.  Yum!  Leave a comment if you try any different flavors that work well.

So there you have it - fat-free potato chips!  Easy, crispy, healthy, and delicious.  Plus you can make only as many as you'd like.  No more worries about eating a whole bag!  

Have you ever made microwave potato chips?


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Have Your Carrot Cake and Drink It, Too

Carrot cake is one of my favorite desserts so I've been toying with the idea of making a carrot cake smoothie for a while and finally sat down and wrote out a recipe.  I used my Oatmeal Raisin Cookie smoothie recipe as a base, added shredded carrots, and changed the spices a bit.  The resulting flavor was sort of a mix between the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie and the Pumpkin Pie smoothies.  Yum!

This was my first time making a smoothie with carrots.  I used shredded carrots because I knew my Vitamix could handle them.  If you don't have a high-powered blender and don't want to be chewing bits of carrots, you could use carrot juice instead - probably about ½ cup.  (If you try it with juice, post a comment to let me know.)



Carrot Cake Smoothie
(printable recipe)
 
Ingredients:

1 cup shredded carrots

3 tbsp. old-fashioned oats
2 tbsp. raisins
1 tbsp. hemp protein powder (optional)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. ground cloves

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tbsp. agave
1 cup almond milk (I used unsweetened vanilla)

1 cup ice cubes

1-2 frozen bananas (peeled and sliced before freezing)

optional: 1/8 tsp. each xanthan gum and guar gum (to make it thicker and creamier)

 
Directions:

1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a container with a lid.  Add vanilla, agave, and almond milk; stir to combine.  Place the lid on the container and put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

2. Remove the smoothie mix from the refrigerator and dump into your blender.  Add xanthan and guar gums, if using.  Blend until smooth.


3. Add ice cubes and frozen bananas.  Blend again until smooth.  


Makes 1 large smoothie.


Have you ever made a smoothie with carrots or carrot juice? 

 

Monday, August 15, 2011

No Cheese?!?

"I could never be vegan.  I'd miss cheese too much!"  

Do you know how many times I've heard this?  Countless.  It seems like the biggest obstacle on the road to veganism is hunk of cheddar.  Or mozzarella.  I get that.  I, too, uttered those same words, back when I was vegetarian and a friend had become vegan.  It just seemed like too big of a sacrifice to give up cheese.  Maybe if I hadn't found out I was lactose intolerant it would have been more difficult.  Instead, cheese was the first thing I eliminated from my diet, even before chicken, eggs, and fish.  Did I miss cheese?  That's like asking Weird Al if he misses Spam.  Of course!  (Okay, he's a vegetarian now so maybe he doesn't really miss eating Spam but I'm sure it will always hold a special place in his heart.)

So I gave up cheese.  And I missed it.  At first, I tried anything that might remotely resemble melted cheese.  I bought The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook and made my own mozzarella for pizza (not a success).  I made cheese sauce for nachos (successful, though not quite a proper substitute).  Then Teese came out and although it wasn't very good, it pseudo melted so I embraced it.  I could finally have grilled cheese sandwiches again!

Most recently, Daiya came on the scene, and you would have thought that vegan heaven opened it's doors and sent it down on an oozy, melty cloud.  Vegans were storming Whole Foods for it, buying packages at a time, and putting it on anything they could get their hands on.  Is Daiya delicious?  Yes.  Does it melt?  Yes.  Do I eat it?  Not often.  

You see, somewhere over the course of the past few years two things happened.  One, I got used to eating things without cheese.  I love that I can taste the sauce and toppings on a pizza when cheese isn't masking their flavors.  Two, I started really reading the labels on Teese and Daiya and wasn't all that impressed with what I read.  They're processed, have a lot of ingredients I've never heard of, and aren't exactly low in fat.  They go in my "vegan doesn't necessarily mean healthy" category.  

Now, don't think that I'm all anti-vegan cheese and have banished it forevermore.  (I have to admit that I am guilty for using Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese on a bagel now and again.  I'm only human!)  No, I think it still has it's place but it's certainly not something I use often.  That being said, I am still intrigued by new vegan cheese products that come out, always curious and hoping that something slightly healthier might come along.  

A little while ago, I bought a vegan cheese sauce called Nacho Mom's Ultimate Vegan Queso (original flavor).  It has a short ingredient list consisting almost entirely of items I could find in my own kitchen.  The base is nutritional yeast, which is something I use on a regular basis to add a "cheesy" flavor to popcorn, pasta, and kale chips or kale salad.  Along with having normal ingredients, it is also fat-free and very low in calories.  In fact, there are only 160 calories in the entire jar!  (So if you went on a bender and ate it all in one sitting, you wouldn't be doing too bad, even if you were dipping tortilla chips.)

So I ordered it and did what I always do when I get a new product - put it in the pantry and forgot about it until it was just about the expire.  


Last week we had a really good loaf of French bread so Brian and I decided to make grilled cheese sandwiches.  I was going to buy some Daiya but then remembered the Nacho Mom's.  It's spicy so while not ideal for grilled cheese, I already had it so I thought why not.  The good thing about it is that it's a sauce, so you don't have to worry about melting.  I put some heirloom tomato slices on the bread, smothered it with Nacho Mom's, and toasted it in a dry pan.  It was very thick, creamy, spicy, and nacho-y.  


I had some left and decided it would be good with quesadillas.  Last night I made the Summer Succotash Quesadillas from the blog Peas and Thank You - with a few slight variations.  (Click on the link to get the recipe.)


  • Instead of covering an entire tortilla with filling and then topping it with a second tortilla, I used one, put the filling on one half, then folded it over and cooked it that way.  It made flipping it much easier.
  • I omitted the Daiya and used Nacho Mom's instead of the Nacho Mmmm Sauce.  (Brian added a non-vegan Mexican cheese blend to his and gave it high marks.  Was I jealous?  A little.)
  • I left out the corn because I didn't have any.
  • Instead of a red pepper I used green and orange, plus half a jalapeno. 

    You can sort of see a little of the Nacho Mom's on top of the squash.  It tasted better than this picture would lead you to believe.


    I liked the recipe because it was easy and you could change up the veggies based on what you happen to have.  

    If you need a recipe for Meatless Monday, this is it!  (Be sure to check out some of the other great "reci-peas" while you're visiting Peas and Thank You.  Don't just skip to the recipes, though.  You've gotta read the posts - they are hilarious!)



    What are you thoughts on vegan cheese?  Do you use it?  Do you have a favorite one?

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    Farmer's Market Fridays - 8/12/11

    It's Friday and you know what that means - yoga, farmer's market, and coffee!  I am going to keep this post brief today because the day is too beautiful to spend it sitting in front of a computer.  

    Here's what I picked up from my Living Stones CSA today:


    dinosaur kale, rainbow chard, and collard greens

    sunflower shoots

    beets

    hot peppers

    eggplant and pickling cucumbers

    pattypan and yellow squash

    tomatoes

    I stopped over to say hi to Farmer Glen and buy some potatoes.  Last week I used his Yukon Golds to make crispy, delicious, fat free potato chips (check back next week for more about that).  I also got some carrots because they looked too good to pass up.


    Yukon Gold potatoes

    sweet carrots


    Our last stop before leaving the market was at Binell Brothers Cutlery & Supply Co. for some knife-sharpening.  I got one knife sharpened for $2 and then bought a used knife for $2.  Used but in good condition and, of course, sharp.  You can't beat a good knife for $2.

    Instead of getting coffee at Panera we went to Starbucks.  We wanted iced coffee and as far as I'm concerned, no one else makes it like Starbucks.  There are also great tables outside to sit and enjoy our coffee and the weather.  And an Avalon date bar.  But you knew that.

    Now I want to get outside for a quick run and some yard work.  It's funny how even pulling weeds can be enjoyable when the weather is so perfect.  Of course, lounging around on the patio with a book is probably (definitely) even more enjoyable, so I'll be doing that later on today as well.

    Thanks for stopping by today.  I'll be back next week, hopefully with a recipe for Meatless Monday...and more about those potato chips I hinted at.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    I Know You're Reading My Blog...

    ...so let me know what you think!  I love writing my blog and would do it even if no one ever read it, but the thing is, I know you do read it.  I know that 25 of you read the post about the Allen Park 10K I ran over the weekend but only one of you commented (thanks, Mom!).  I also know that 84 of you read about the Solstice Run but only one of you commented (thanks, Mom!).  To be fair, there are a few of you who aren't related to me who've left a comment or two.  In fact, I've had a handful of comments from people I don't even know!  (Very exciting!)  So to everyone who has commented - THANK YOU!

    "Really people, I'm nice!"*

    Maybe you read my posts and are left speechless.  I understand.  I have that effect on people (actually I don't).  Maybe you read my posts but don't like them.  Not everyone likes what I have to say (but they should).  So whether you love them or hate them, leave a comment to let me know what you think.  Just every once in a while.  I promise I don't bite...hard.  (shameless Austin Powers reference)

    I've already told you about my running, my vegan journey, my recent vacation to Hawaii with my Brian, and our 9-year anniversary.  So now it's your turn.

    Not sure where to start?

    Let's try an ice-breaker so we can get to know each other a little better:

    Everyone stand in a circle and hold hands.  We're going to move a hula hoop around the circle without ever letting go of each others' hands.  Ready?  Oh wait, that's for team-building.  We'll save that for another day.

    Let's just try a couple of questions instead, shall we?


    • How did you find my blog?
    • What do you enjoy most about the blog - recipes, restaurant reviews, or race recaps?
    • If Weird Al Yankovic could perform just one song at your birthday party, which would you choose?

    Answer one, two, all, or none of the questions in the comments section below.  Maybe once we get the ball rolling you'll be more comfortable commenting in the future. 

    Thanks for reading.  Have a great day!


    *Those of you who worked with me last year might recognize this gem from my end-of-the-year slide show photo caption.  (Not this picture, though.)


    Wednesday, August 10, 2011

    Return to Supino Pizzeria

    Pizza at Supino!  Finally!  We've been wanting to get back to eat here for months and I honestly don't know what took us so long.  I'd give you some excuses but they'll all sound lame because, really, there is NO EXCUSE not to eat here.  Anyway, we got to Supino around 5:30 on Saturday and had our choice of tables.  Eastern Market closed at 5:00 so it was really quiet on Russell Street.  I don't know if this is always a good time to go or if we just lucked out.  (In case you haven't been, Supino is a pretty small place and getting a table right away isn't always such an easy thing to do.)

    We got a great spot by the window and it didn't take long for us to choose our pizzas.  (I was starving after my 10K earlier in the day so that helped me make a quick decision.)  I ordered my pizza with red sauce, spinach, mushrooms, and grilled eggplant (no cheese, of course).  Spinach and mushrooms are pretty standard for me but I'd never had eggplant on pizza.  Oh wow! It was amazing.  So creamy and flavorful!  Eggplant is one of those veggies that isn't easy to get right but Dave Mancini (the man behind the pizza) sure knows what he's doing.  So we each ordered our own small (10") pizza and ate every last bit.  Was I stuffed?  Yes.  Was it worth it?  Hell yes!


    mushrooms, spinach, eggplant, and red sauce


    Mmm...take a closer look at these fresh toppings.



    If you've never been to Supino - or you haven't been in a while - you'll want to get down to Russell Street ASAP!  Otherwise you're surely missing out on the best pizza in Detroit. 

    Please read my previous post about our first visit to Supino. Speaking of that post, while having dinner we talked to Dave and he told me he read it.  A famous pizzeria owner read my blog?!?  About his pizzeria?!?  Yeah, so if he read it, you should read it, too!  (Keep in mind that it was only my 3rd post ever, okay?)

    Supino Pizzeria is located at 2457 Russell Street in Detroit
    Open Tuesday - Thursday 11:00 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.; Friday - Saturday 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
    Closed Sunday - Monday

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    On the Run: Allen Park 10K 2011



    I lived in Allen Park for 13 years and this was the first time I ran in the Allen Park 5K/10K.  In fact, on Saturday I ran more miles in Allen Park than I did in all the time I lived there!  Anyway, I felt the time had come and sort of at the last minute Katie and I decided to do this race.  It had been a while since our last race so we felt ready to take on another.  Plus, Allen Park is so close and we could park at my mom and dad's, use their bathroom instead of gross Port-a-Potties, and walk three blocks to the starting line.  It was also a small race so there wouldn't be any hassle with crowds.  And it was only a 10K.  Easy, right?

    Wrong.  I mean, we were right about all the logistics of the race but one thing we failed to take into consideration was the weather.  Specifically the heat.  More specifically the humidity.  Remember the horror that was the Dexter-Ann Arbor 1/2 Marathon?  Yeah, it was that all over again but thankfully this was only 6.2 miles.  Only 6.2 miles, however, was still about 3.2 miles more than I was comfortable with.  But let's start at the beginning.

    The weather seemed nice when I first went outside.  A little warm but not too bad.  By the time the race started at 9:00, however, the temperature was definitely starting to creep up.  I planned to start out slow so I didn't overexert myself too early and had a playlist designed to set that beginning pace and slowly build as I ran.  And then I realized that I didn't properly sync my iPod so I didn't have that playlist.  I wasn't in the mood for one of my others so I did something I've never done at a race: I hit "shuffle."  Fortunately, this is my old Nano and because I use it exclusively for working out, everything on there is fine for running.  Except that some are slower warm-up songs, some are faster mid-run songs, and some are those power-pumping, drag-your-butt to the finish line songs when all you want to do is flag down the nearest emergency vehicle for a ride to Starbucks.  I like being able to plan out at which point in the race certain songs come on but I decided to take my chances.  

    Anyway, the playlist wasn't the problem.  If only.  I started out a little faster than I should have but not by much.  Under normal circumstances that wouldn't have been a big deal.  But back to that humidity. All too soon I realized that I should have worn a tank top instead of the tee shirt I chose at the last minute.  Mistake #1.  I also should have stopped for a drink sooner than I did.  Mistake #2.  When I stopped for a drink, I should have made sure it was water and not Gatorade.  Mistake #3.  I only had a sip or two and when I got to what I knew was definitely a water station (manned by a cute little old couple), I made sure to stop.  It was too late, though.  The Gatorade on a nearly empty stomach just made me want to throw up.  Plus my heart rate was at a steady 200, which is way too high.  


    A rare moment of running near the end.

    So I did what I hate to do the most.  I walked.  I had no other choice.  So from mile 4.5 to the end, I alternated between running and walking; running til I couldn't stand it anymore, then walking til my heart rate dropped to 190, then running again.  At this point I didn't care about my time or pace.  I just wanted to get to the end without collapsing on the streets of Allen Park.  Somehow I managed to keep going and Katie finished just after me.  

    Photo finish:


    What is UP with that weird leaning-back stride thing I've got going on?


     And after the race - a photo I'm particularly proud to show you:


    Look to the finish line - it's Katie!


    So, I think I've learned my lesson about running in the humidity.  I shouldn't do it!  Well, for races, at least.  Until I do a better job acclimating, my body clearly won't be able to handle it.  

    All in all, though, it wasn't the worst race.  (That prize goes to Dexter-Ann Arbor.)  As I mentioned, it was close, easy to get to, and not crowded.  The course was through residential neighborhoods with plenty of shade and lots of people out to show support.  A 9:00 start time is a little late for an August 10K, though, and the goodie bag, tee shirt, and post-race food wasn't much to speak of.  (Though you'd think an event sponsored by the Detroit Lions might have a little more to offer than a plastic key chain, a pen, and a pencil.)

    The best part of the race?  (Yes - surprise! - there was something good about it.)  The best part was having my mom and dad there to cheer me on.  This was the first time they'd seen me in a race and I was really proud to be able to run past them and see them clapping and waving.  They were stationed about half a mile before the finish and they stayed out until Katie and I had passed them both times (for the 10K you had to do the same loop twice - another downside).  Brian was with them the first time and then moved to the end to see us finish.


    See how excited I was to see Brian and my parents?  [Note: This was during the first loop so I was still in good shape.]


    So, would I do this race again?  My first thought was "Never again!"; however, a small-town race with a great friend and my family on the sidelines definitely has appeal.  I'll just be sure to check the weather forecast before signing up for it next year.  


    Time
     55:03

    Pace
    8:53/mile

    Fuel
    Toasted Nuts and Cranberry Luna Bar, banana

    Tunes
    iPod set to "shuffle"