Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dinner for One: Chickpeas and Broccoli

WARNING: This dish WILL stink up your house, possibly causing your husband and his friends to wonder if the cat sh*t in the very room in which they are sitting. 

True story. 

Last night Brian had some friends over and they were recording an album in his music studio in the basement.  Left to my own devices for dinner, I decided make something with whatever I could find in the cupboard and refrigerator.  I came up with something simple - a can of chickpeas and a bag of fresh broccoli florets.  Toss it all together in a pan with some teriyaki sauce (obviously my go-to choice) and you're done.  I also added a few other flavors and the result was delicious. 

What was so funny, though, was that as I was happily cooking up my broccoli, I suddenly heard the guys start to complain about a disgusting smell in the basement.  

"Ugh, what's that smell?"

"It smells like cat sh*t."

"That's the worst thing I've smelled in my life!"

After a brief discussion they decided that Jasper (who can definitely clear a room) must have dropped a bomb but the smell wasn't coming from the litter box.  Brian came upstairs to alert me and I told him I was making broccoli.

"Ohhhhhh, broccoli!  Guys, Amanda's making broccoli!"

"Ohhhhhh, broccoli!  Hey, actually that smells kind of good."

True story.

Chickpeas and Broccoli

1 bag broccoli florets
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce (low-sodium preferred)
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp water
2 tsp corn starch
1/4 tsp garlic powder
red pepper flakes, to taste


1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add water to coat.  Add broccoli. Stir, cover, and steam for 5 minutes or until broccoli is bright green and crisp tender.

2. While broccoli is cooking, combine teriyaki sauce, orange juice, water, corn starch, and garlic powder in a small bowl.  Whisk until there are no lumps.

3. When the broccoli is ready, add the chickpeas and sauce.  Stir to combine.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes to heat through.  Uncover and cook until sauce is thickened and reduced, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes.  Season to taste with red pepper flakes.

Serves 1.

NOTE: To make this into a meal for two, serve over whole-grain pasta or brown rice.

What do you like to eat that tastes better than it smells?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Winter Menu at Woodbridge

Woodbridge Pub has come out with their new Winter menu.  Based on Facebook comments, it sounds like it's a big hit with a lot of people.  From a vegan perspective, however, it's a little bit of a let down because there aren't as many options as there have been with previous menus. 

I've eaten there twice in the past month.  On the first visit I ordered items that were carry-overs from the fall menu - the white bean dip appetizer, wilted kale side, and the Stever McFever black bean burger (menu mainstay and my all-time favorite).

White Bean Dip w/ tortilla chips - $6.00
Stever McFever - $9.00, Wilted Kale - $3.00

The second time I had the soup of the day - vegan red dal - which was spicy, hearty, and really delicious.  I also ordered the beet salad, which is not vegan, but our server was really kind to help veganize it for me by asking the chef to leave off the cheese and substitute the cherry vinaigrette for the balsamic.  It was a nice light meal.

Red Dal Soup - $3.50 cup/$4.50 bowl
 Beet Salad - $7.00

The vegan entree on the menu this time Tofu Tonkatsu, so that may be something to try another time.  In addition to the kale, they also have roasted redskin potatoes but their other sides are not vegan.

Have you tried the new winter menu?

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.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Weird Michigan Winter

Here I am modeling for you the extent of my winter gear on my January 10th run.  The rest of my outfit was the long-sleeve shirt you see here and a pair of pants.  Note that I'm not even wearing my signature ear-warmer!  It was close to 50 degrees that day as I ran for 45 minutes through my hometown of Allen Park before going to my mom and dad's for dinner.  (Brian was in Vegas for the week for, ahem, work so they kindly had me over the evening.)

Ten days later we finally got a couple of inches of snow and the temps dipped into the teens.  I haven't run since.  I've seen people out there all bundled up in their vests and hats, wearing their running tights, gingerly running over the ice and snow.  

But no one has seen me out there.  It's not because I don't have the gear.  Oh no - I have running tights, vests, hats, and gloves.  I even have specialty shoes that are meant for running in ice and snow!  It's just that I'm a wimp when it comes to the cold.  I'm sure if I can just get myself out there once I'll realize it's not so bad.  And once I get moving I'll definitely warm up.  And probably run faster, too (mainly to get it over with and get back where it's warm).  It's just that first step out the door that's the hardest.  

I could just make myself get out there today.  Just go for it.  But it's been a weird winter.  If I wait another week, it just might be 40 degrees again and then it won't be so bad.

Do you run outside when it's cold?  How do you get motivated to get out the door when the weather isn't perfect?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dinner for One: Chickpea Teriyaki Stir-Fry

Here's a really easy and delicious meal that I made one night recently when I was cooking for myself.  It was New Year's Eve and we were having a quick dinner before heading out for the night.  Brian had leftover pizza so he was all taken care of.  I found a bag of stir-fry veggies in the freezer, cooked them up with some chickpeas and teriyaki sauce, and dinner was done!  If you have the time and motivation to make it (I did not), the addition of brown rice will definitely make for a more hearty and satisfying meal.  Another option would be to wrap it up in a whole-wheat tortilla.  

NOTE: I got the frozen veggies 10/$10 and the chickpeas were well under $1 for the whole can (I used half).  Even if you cook up some rice or use tortillas, this is a much cheaper option than some of those single-serving microwave bowls - and it seriously doesn't take much longer to make!

Chickpea Teriyaki Stir-Fry

(printable recipe)


1 package frozen stir-fry veggies
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce (I prefer low-sodium)
Garlic powder, to taste
Ginger powder, to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
1-2 tsp. cornstarch, optional


1. Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add frozen veggies and a couple tablespoons of water.  Cover and steam until veggies are cooked, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

2. While the veggies are cooking, stir garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes into teriyaki sauce until garlic powder dissolves.  (NOTE: If you like a thicker sauce, add 1-2 tsp. cornstarch and stir until dissolved.)

3. Add chickpeas and sauce and stir to combine.  Cover and cook until heated through, about 5 more minutes.  

Serves 1.  

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Meet Jasper!

As I mentioned in my last post, Brian and I made a stop in Albion on our way home from Chicago to pick up a new kitty, Jasper.  Okay, so it wasn't so much "on our way home" as it was 45 minutes out of our way back toward Chicago.  That was not the way the deal was supposed to go down.  Here's what happened.

I found Jasper (formerly known as "Gilo") on a few weeks ago.  He's a 6-month-old brown tiger.  I hadn't planned on getting a new cat so soon after losing Murray, but on a whim I did a very narrow search and found what sounded like a great cat for us.  An adorable and friendly lap kitten who loves to cuddle and gets along with other cats?  Perfect!  The only downside was the he came from Mid-Michigan Cat Rescue (MMCR) in Grand Ledge, just outside of Lansing (a bit of a hike for us).  However, since my friend Kate lives in Lansing and we'd been wanting to visit her and her daughter Juniper for some time now, I thought why not go see her and get the kitten in the same visit?  I emailed MMCR and arranged to pick up the cat from an adoption event at Pet Smart on our way home from Chicago on Wednesday, December 28th. 

As we were leaving Chicago Wednesday morning and on our way to Lansing, I sent an email to MMCR just to verify that I had the correct location of the Pet Smart.  I got an email back saying that my kitten wasn't going to be there because they didn't know I was coming for him!  Clearly there was a mix-up in communication (this email was not from the person I had been in contact earlier). I was actually pretty calm about it all and after some emails back and forth (what would I do without my iPhone?!?) I arranged to pick up Jasper from the foster home in Albion.  It meant a lot of extra driving but it also meant that we could get him that day instead of driving back to the Lansing Pet Smart on Saturday.  

The foster home where we got Jasper is where many of the MMCR cats seem to live.  There were so many cats there!  We walked in the door and they were everywhere!  It was like the book - Millions of Cats - but in actuality there were only 100.  (Only, ha ha!)  Amazingly, though, it didn't smell at all like a house full of cats and all the cats looked clean and very well cared for.  I give Sarah, the woman who runs MMCR, a lot of credit for the work she does.  She obviously loves every single cat and dedicates her life to them.  I love cats, too, but I was a little relieved to take Jasper and get out of there! 

Then we made the 1.5-hour trip home.  We found out quickly that Jasper does NOT like his carrier as he spent most of the trip meowing, doing somersaults, and trying to claw his way out.  But he was purring most of the time.  He's such a weirdo.

Anyway, he's been settling in well.  He's by far the most affectionate cat we've ever had.  He loves to purr and give hugs and kisses.  He's been eating and drinking well.  I taught him to play fetch.  Zoe is getting used to him and hisses at him less than she did last week.  We have a playpen for him, which has really been helpful in introducing them to each other while still keeping some distance.  I think with a little more time they'll be good friends.

And as for me, he's just what I needed.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Chicago 2011

Brian and I went to Chicago last week for our annual holiday get-away.  The hotel deals are always insanely fantastic during the week between Christmas and New Year's so we started the tradition a few years ago and have stayed at a different hotel each time.  This year we stayed at Hotel Monaco.  It's one of the older hotels in Chicago but it's completely updated and is really nice.  It's pet-friendly, eco-friendly, and has a complimentary wine reception every evening from 5-6 p.m.  (Of which I made sure to take full advantage of both nights!)  It's located just south of the river so it's a close walk to shopping on Michigan Avenue and State Street, as well as to Millennium Park.  There's a pretty nice fitness center that I used both mornings because it was a little too chilly to run along the river.  (I'm a wimp about the cold.)

The weather was actually pretty nice, especially compared to previous years.  There was no snow and not too much wind.  The temps were in the 30's-40's.  We didn't see the sun much but again, it could have been much, much worse.  We were only in town from Monday afternoon until Wednesday morning so it was a quick trip.  Here's a recap:


The hotel is pet-friendly.  If you don't have a pet, you may request a goldfish for your room.  I didn't want a fish but was curious about something.  Upon arrival, I asked the woman working at the front desk if they flush the fish down the toilet when guests check out or if they return them to the tank.  She looked slightly horrified that I would even as such a question and said, "Only if he reaches his expiration date naturally do we flush him down the toilet!"  She passed the test.  Still, I didn't take a fish.

We had just enough time to get to our room, check and spray for bed bugs, and get back to the lobby for prime seating on the chaise lounge for the wine reception.  I had three glasses.  I wouldn't normally drink three glasses of wine in an hour but I told Brian  I was saving him money at the bar later on. 

For dinner we took the El to Revolution Brewing.  We ate there last time we were in Chicago and I ordered the same things - the polenta fries and the Italian seitan pizza.  Both were as delicious as I remembered.  (Note to future self - next time, however, do not eat the entire pizza.  Must have been the three glasses of free wine talking.)

Brian highly recommends the beer at Revolution Brewing!  (Even if I blinded him and he couldn't see it.)
Polenta Fries w/ smoked tomato aioli - $7
Italian Seitan Pizza w/ cremini mushrooms, oregano, and smoked tomato sauce - $13 (It tasted way better than this picture would lead you to believe.)


I got up bright and early to use the elliptical and some free weights.  Then Brian and I had breakfast at Corner Bakery.  He absolutely loves their baked French toast.  They don't have a whole lot there for a vegan so I had what I always get - coffee, fruit, and a bagel.

Next we went shopping.  We spent the WHOLE day shopping on Michigan Avenue.  We went to Gap, Nike Town, the Disney Store, Aveda, Crate and Barrel, Marshall's, Apple, The North Face, Columbia, Express, H&M . . . and a few other places.  

I would be remiss if I didn't mention our stop at Lush.  To me it felt like a mere 20 minutes but if you ask Brian it was an hour.  Who really knows?  Anyway, they were having their big after-Christmas sale where some of their soaps and all their holiday items are "buy one get one free."  I came out of there with over 4 lbs. of soap and 2 holiday sets!  Here are all my soaps:

Northern Lights, Noubar, Alkmaar, Angel's Delight, Snowcake, and Candy Cane Soap (all vegan, of course)

Workin' on my biceps - thanks Lush!

After shopping we dropping off our bags at the hotel and then went to Millennium Park to walk around, watch some ice skating, and see the holiday decorations.  It was really beautiful in and around the park.

Somewhere in Millennium Park
"The Bean" (it's vegan)
This photo taken in "the bean" gave Brian a Muppet mouth, leading us to break into a song and dance number asking, "Is he a Muppet or a man?"

Then we high-tailed it back to the hotel for the wine reception.  This time I was on a schedule.  I was going to make sure I had FOUR glasses of free wine tonight!  (And I did.)

The Emerald Loop Irish Pub (a rather unassuming place)

For dinner we walked across the street to the Emerald Loop, where I had the portabella sandwich and fries.  Let me tell you that I NEVER order fries.  Ever.  And certainly not at an Irish pub that also deep fries fish and other decidedly non-vegan items in their fryers.  However, need I remind you that I just came from the hotel wine reception where I had FOUR glasses of Cabernet in an hour?  I didn't think so.  So yeah, I ordered the fries.  And I they were good.  And I ate them all.  (Hangs head in shame.)  

Portabella sandwich - $8.95 (It normally comes with sun-dried tomato pesto and mozzarella but I requested lettuce and tomato instead.)

The Emerald Loop is a really cute place, the server was friendly (she kept calling us "dears"), and the music was good.  I'd definitely eat there again but would sub fruit for the fries.  Unless we stay at the Hotel Monaco and go there after the free wine reception...

After dinner we walked around a bit, checked out some stores on State Street, and Brian found a dessert at Magnolia Bakery.

The Chicago Theater at night


I worked out at the fitness center again on Wednesday morning (I chose the Kilimanjaro setting to help work off those fries!) and we had breakfast at Starbucks.  I had what was probably the best multigrain bagel I've ever eaten, a banana, and coffee.  Brian had Perfect Oatmeal and said it was really good.  Not perfect, mind you, but good.  It's vegan but because I'm quite particular about my oatmeal, I've been hesitant to try it myself.  It looks like it would be a good grab-and-go meal on the way to work.

On the way out of town we stopped at Bridgeport Coffee to pick up some beans for Brian's parents and then we were on our way.  Not home, though.  Hardly.  Next up was a visit to Lansing to meet our friend Kate and her daughter Juniper.  Kate and her husband Chris adopted Juniper from China a year ago and we hadn't gotten out to meet her yet.  (Hangs head in shame.)  We had a wonderful visit with them - Juniper is such a delight!

Next was a quick stop at Elderly Instruments.  It's Brian's Lush, only it doesn't smell quite as nice. 

Then we drove to Albion to pick up our new kitten from what will forever be known as The House of 100 Cats.  And that, my friends, is a story for my next post.


Have you been to Chicago lately?  Did you go anywhere special during the holidays?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Christmas Sugar Cookies


Sugar cookies have been a tradition in my family for generations.  Not only at Christmas but certainly that is the most popular time of year to bake them.  There are so many cute cookie cutters out there that I've started to make them more often throughout the year so now I usually do Christmas, Easter, and Halloween.  

For a long time I used the recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.  When I became vegan I continued to use it and simply replaced the egg with Ener-G.  The cookies still turned out well but somewhere along the line the dough started to give me trouble.  It just started to get harder and harder to work with so I went in search of a new recipe.

I tried Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking a couple of times but the texture wasn't quite right for me.  Then I came across a recipe online entitled "Perfect Vegan Sugar Cookies."  I'm hesitant about any recipe that has "perfect" in the title but these cookies actually are perfect.  They are really easy to make, the dough comes together nicely, and texture is just as sugar cookie dough ought to be.  It rolls out well and comes back together to re-roll as needed.  And they taste delicious!

The finished cookies do have what is - in my opinion - the perfect sugar cookie texture.  They are thick and soft; almost underdone but not quite.  I am not a fan of icing on my cookies so I always sprinkle them with colored sugar before baking instead of icing them after.  CORRECTION: Brian decorates them with colored sugar before baking.  That's his job.  I can't take the credit for those beautifully-decorated bells and wreaths!

Perfect Vegan Sugar Cookies
(recipe by john&kristie, modified by Amanda)


1 cup non-dairy margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese

Colored sugar for decorating


1. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with an electric hand mixer), beat together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.  Add the Ener-G, water, and vanilla and beat for another 30 seconds.

2. Gradually add the flour and baking powder.  Add the Tofutti and beat all ingredients are combined and you have a smooth dough.  (If you didn't measure your ingredients carefully and the dough seems too dry, add a bit of water - one tbsp. at a time - to get the right consistency.  Conversely, if the dough seems too sticky, add a bit of flour - one tbsp. at a time - until it forms a smooth ball.)

3. Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.

4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Remove one half of the dough from the refrigerator. 

5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness.  Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters.  Place 1 inch apart on baking sheets.  Decorate with colored sugar.

6. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until bottoms and edges just start to get light brown.  Remove from baking sheet and cool on wire racks.  Store in airtight container.

Makes 36 cookies.

What's your perfect sugar cookie?  Thick and soft?  Thin and crisp?  Sprinkled with sugar or iced?

Vegan Truffles

Ahhh, the elusive truffle.  We had a recipe from Bon Appetit magazine that we made quite successfully a few years back before I was vegan.  The first year we made them they turned out so well.  First there was the smooth and creamy truffle base.  Next came the rich chocolate shell.  Last was the coating of hazelnuts, cocoa powder, and coconut.  The making of these truffles was a multi-day event that involved double boilers, multiple rounds of refrigeration, and the highest-percent cacao one could find.  They were expensive and time-consuming to make, the yield was few, but the end result was one that Juliette Binoche would feed Johnny Depp in a heartbeat. 

We made them again the following year and while they eventually turned out, it was a much more difficult process.  They took a lot longer and didn't look nearly as professional.  The third year was just an all-out disaster.  The truffle base never solidified, even after a week of being in the freezer.  Did it have anything to do with the fact that by that point I was a vegan and the truffles weren't?  Some sort of karmic effect, perhaps?  We may never know . . .

What we did know, however, was that we had gotten a reputation for our truffles and we couldn't disappoint our fans.  We had to find a new recipe and we had to find it fast.  This time, it was going to be vegan.  It had to be easier and less time-intensive than the last because we were down to the wire.  (It was almost Christmas Eve and we give tins of cookies as gifts to family and friends - truffles are an integral part!)  We also needed a recipe that had a coating.  A lot of recipes I found were just rolled balls without a coating.  I'm sorry, but that is NOT a truffle!

Finally I found this really simple truffle recipe.  It may not be the best one out there (I stopped looking when I found it) but it's quick and easy and delicious.  It also makes a lot of truffles so we can give away more as gifts and still have some to enjoy for ourselves.  We've made it the past few years and it's been successful so I've stuck with it.  I might try one with coconut milk next year instead of Tofutti, just to change it up a bit.  

You can roll the truffles in any coating you want.  Our favorite is chopped hazelnuts but you can substitute any nut.  We also like cocoa powder and coconut.  Next year I'll roll some in PB2 for a chocolate peanut butter truffle.  (I thought of that too late.)  Although they may not look quite as professional as those first ones we made from Bon Appetit, they still taste pretty damn good.  And that's what really matters anyway.

Coconut, cocoa powder, and hazelnut truffles

Vegan Truffles
(printable recipe)


1 12-oz. package non-dairy chocolate chips
8 oz. non-dairy cream cheese, such as Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

3 dark chocolate bars (72% cacao), such as Endangered Species Supreme Dark Chocolate

optional toppings: chopped coconut, chopped nuts, cocoa powder


1. Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler or microwave.

2. Put the non-dairy cream cheese in a food processor or high-powered blender (I used my Vitamix) and slowly add the powdered sugar.  Blend until well mixed.  

3. Add the melted chocolate chips and blend until well mixed.  Add the vanilla and blend for 30 seconds.  Pour mixture in a bowl; cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

4. Once chilled, roll the mixture into balls and place on a tray lined with wax paper.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

5. While the balls are chilling, prep your toppings and put them into individual bowls.  Melt chocolate bars (one at a time - melt more as needed) in a double boiler or microwave.

6. Dip the balls in melted chocolate to coat and then into topping of choice. (Try to keep one hand for chocolate, one hand for the toppings.)  Place on cookie sheet lined with wax paper.  If you prefer not to use any toppings, you can simply coat the balls in melted chocolate.

7. Place cookie sheet in refrigerator to harden and then transfer to a tightly covered container.  Store in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Makes about 30 truffles, depending on size.

Have you ever made truffles?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Mudgie's Deli - Detroit, MI

Delis don't tend to be very veg-friendly, especially around these parts.  Mudgie's Deli in Corktown, then, is not your typical deli.  They have 4 veggie sandwiches on the menu - 2 vegetarian, 2 vegan.  One of their two soups each day is either vegetarian or vegan.  They also have the option to "design your own" salad or sandwich so those are some other meat-free options.  Not bad Mudgie's.  Not bad.

Brian and I went for a late lunch one day.  I ordered the Bella, which is a lawash wrap with roasted red peppers, artichokes, chick peas, sunflower sprouts, tomatoes, mixed greens, sunflower seeds, and balsamic vinaigrette.  I also got some avocado on the side.  It comes in two sizes and when I asked what the difference between the two is, our server said that the smaller size just has less veggies in it.  I went for the large.  It's only $1.50 more anyway.  It was amazingly delicious.  It doesn't come with any chips or a pickle, which is a little disappointing, but it was certainly filling enough that I was satisfied with just the sandwich. 

Bella - $7.00sm / $8.50lg

Go for the large - it's jam-packed with veggies!

Not only does Mudgie's have great food but it's really cute and cozy.  There was good music playing, our server was friendly and attentive, and the bathroom was clean.  Plus, there was ample free street parking!  The only downside was that the place smelled like cured meats but I guess you sort of have to expect that from a deli.  And my sandwich was so delish that I was willing to overlook that.   

They had a lot of cool Christmas balloons like this Santa.

Mudgie's Deli is located at 1300 Porter Street in Detroit

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Green Cake Batter Smoothie

I've never liked to mix greens and milk in my smoothies.  I tried it once or twice and something about it grossed me out.  I don't know what possessed me, then, to try the recipe for an Apple Jack Smoothie from Happy Herbivore that used spinach and non-dairy milk but I did.  Surprisingly it tasted quite good.  It did not, however, taste as much like Apple Jacks as I had hoped it would . . . but I think that was because of the vanilla protein powder, oats, and extra cinnamon and bananas I added.  (I have a hard time following directions.)  

Instead of Apple Jacks it tasted like something better . . . cake batter!  Creamy, drinkable cake batter.  YUM!  What a pleasant surprise!  Brian actually thought it tasted like banana bread batter.  Either way, how can you go wrong?  As a bonus, it's green so if you've made a resolution to make healthier choices, this is a fantastic way to start your day.  (I omitted the apple but you could leave it in for an extra serving of fruit without altering the taste of the smoothie.)

Green Cake Batter Smoothie
(printable recipe)


3 tbsp. old-fashioned oats
2 tbsp. vanilla protein powder (I use Lifetime Life's Basics unsweetened vanilla)
4 small pitted dates or 2 large Medjool dates, pits removed
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk 

1 bag baby spinach

3 frozen bananas 
8 ice cubes 


1. Combine oats, protein powder, dates, cinnamon, and almond milk in a blender and let sit for 15 minutes or overnight.

2. Add the spinach and blend well.

3. Add the bananas and ice and blend again until creamy and smooth.

Makes 2 large servings (Although I drink the whole thing myself so it keeps me full for quite a while!  You could also easily cut the recipe in half.)

What's your favorite green smoothie?

Some of my other favorite smoothies (green and otherwise):

Carrot Cake

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sweet Roasted Roots

I love roasted root vegetables, especially this time of year.  I could seriously eat an entirely plate just of roasted root vegetables.  Actually, I have been known to do that on more than one occasion!  This is one of my favorite recipes.  It makes an excellent side dish for lentil loaf, chickpea cutlets, tofu, or tempeh.  (We had them with our Christmas dinner this year.)  For a main meal, toss in some chickpeas and serve with grains or sauteed greens.

Any combination of veggies will do.  Just try to get an equal amount of each.  The total amount of vegetables used depends on how many people you'll need to serve.  Increase the liquid as needed.

Roasted Root Vegetables
(printable recipe)


1 sweet onion
1 sweet potato
2 carrots
2 parsnips
3 beets
2 turnips

2 tbsp. molasses 
2 tbsp. water
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Peel and slice the onion into strips.  Peel and cut vegetables into bite-sized chunks.  Place in 9x12-inch glass baking dish coated with olive oil spray.

3. Whisk together molasses, water, salt, pepper, and cinnamon.  Toss with vegetables until everything is well coated.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until onions are starting to caramelize and vegetables can be easily pierced with a fork.

How do you like to eat your roots?

Our Christmas Feast

Big Gary the Gingerbread Man mug says, "Merry Christmas!"

This is a little late but I will post it nonetheless.  Every year on Christmas morning Brian and I start the day out with a special breakfast.  We make pancakes, French toast, or waffles - usually some recipe that we either haven't made or don't make often - and some vegan sausage and fruit.  This year I used a recipe from The Vegan Slow Cooker for a French toast casserole that has sausage and pears cooked right into it.  I was able to prep everything the night before, combine it in the morning, and turn it on to cook while Brian and I exchanged presents, made coffee, and did some prep work for having my family over that evening.  It was so easy and delicious and by far the healthiest French toast recipe I've ever made.  The leftovers warmed up deliciously the next day.  The recipe called for whole-wheat bread but we used Corktown Cinnamon Raisin from Avalon.  (A worthy substitution!)

Pear and Cardamon French Toast Casserole

{I'd love to share the recipe but I can't post it without permission from the author or publisher.  Let me know if you're interested, though, and I can send you an email.}

My parents and Andrew and Jaime came over for dinner.  We had an amazing feast.  This was the first all-vegan holiday dinner we've had. Brian didn't make a pork loin like he did two years ago to go alongside the chickpea cutlets. Andrew didn't smuggle in turkey through the back door like he did last Thanksgiving.  Jaime made her mashed potatoes cruelty-free so as not to sully the integrity of the vegan table.  And we drank only red wine since almost no white wines are vegan.  

Every dish was delicious and satisfying.  We were definitely full but because it was all healthy we weren't left feeling overly stuffed and weighed down.  The pie I made for dessert was only so-so (and the texture was, to be honest, quite disturbing) but with so many other holiday treats around - such as all the vegan cookies, fudge, truffles, and cinnamon roasted almonds - that was okay.

Lentil loaf
Jaime's mashed potatoes
Roasted root vegetables (recipe here)
Avalon rolls - regular and multigrain
Mom's low-sugar cranberry applesauce
Dijon-Herb Green Beans - Happy Herbivore Cookbook
Coconut pudding pie (similar recipe found here)

What was on your holiday dinner table?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year, New Post

I know, I'm tired of looking at that post about the Chinese restaurant, too.  It's time I post about something new.  ANYTHING.  With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season as well as dealing with a lot of stress and anxiety from some personal, health, and work issues, blogging has been just about the last thing on my mind.  Now that I've been on vacation for a week I've had some time to relax, recharge, and come up with material for new posts.  I guess I just needed a break.


Happy 2012!  I'm not one to make New Year's resolutions.  I think they're sort of silly.  I get that it's a new year so you're making a new start but why can't you decide to make a change any day of the year?  Why does it have to be January first?  And so many people make their resolutions and by a week or a month they've already forgotten or lost their resolve or what have you.  But if it works for you go for it.  

I do, however, like the idea of a fresh start.  2011 was not the best year.  I describe the past 4 months as "the perfect s#*t storm."  Many of the factors - teaching a new grade, losing Murray, having pneumonia - were out of my control.  How I dealt with them - skipping workouts, not eating right, withdrawing from friends - could have been better.

I do hope and pray that 2012 will be a better year.  I can't change what kind of hand I'm dealt in life.  What I can change, however, is how I react to it and not lose sight of my own health and well-being in the process.  Does that sound like a New Year's resolution?  Damn.  I guess I may have just made one after all.

Happy New Year!

Brian, Andrew, and Jaime at midnight - wahoo!

What's your take on New Year's resolutions?  Did you make one this year?