hello again.

Sorry I’ve been MIA. Nothing really to report. I’ve been eating salads and smoothies and oatmeal. And I would share a second original recipe that I concocted today–which happens to be another veggie burger–but it really wasn’t that great. So here’s the picture:

it looks better than it tasted.

There was nothing wrong with it, there was just nothing spectacular.

However, I decided to blend some frozen bananas with a splash of soy milk for a late night treat. And not only was it pretty, but it tasted delicious!

It tasted just like soft serve banana ice cream! I couldn’t get it out fast enough: my family ate it right from the blender. Next time I’ll add some cinnamon.

And that’s it. I’m moving back to school in 12 days, so hopefully I’ll have more interesting things to share then.

-B

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Original Veggie Burgers!

This recipe is 100% original! I did not use any input from anyone, anywhere. Proceed at your own risk.

Ok so the burger is very small because I wanted to make two, one with spices and one without. And that crushed up mess in the back is my second burger (with spices). The reason it became a crushed up mess is because I didn’t have enough “dough” to make a second burger, so I added more chickpeas without adding more of the binder. Oh well.

I really wanted a burger for lunch, but didn’t have most of the ingredients called for in the recipes I found. So I decided to really simplify the process. From what I could see, all you really needed for a bean-based veggie burger was the bean and some kind of binder. Since I’m not a huge fan of frying things in oil, I was looking for something else. And what do I find in my cabinet? Peanut Butter!

I also didn’t trust my haphazard method of adding herbs and spices–just throwing different ingredients in and being forced to eat the spicy outcome–so I made two burgers. They turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself.  The first burger, which had more peanut butter, stayed together better and was slightly moister. The second fell apart, but had an awesome, kickin’ taste! So when I had to eat my concoction, I smooshed the two burgers together in between two pieces of bread and voilà!

looks messy, but tasted delicious!

Ingredients:
half of a 15oz can of chickpeas
1 1/5 tbsp peanut butter
handful of crushed almonds
Spices: (no measurements, just pinches and shakes)
oregano
parsley
garlic powder
basil
curry powder

The curry powder was the most prominent taste and added the most flavor to the burgers. I didn’t even really taste the other herbs. You can add as much or as little as you like. I didn’t taste the peanut butter or the almonds at all, so next time I will either add more almonds or leave them out.

All you have to do is mash up the chickpeas with the peanut butter and the almonds, add the spices, form into burgers and cook at 350° for 10 minutes on each side.

Good luck!

-B

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healthy vegan hash browns

recipe found here

I don’t think I kept the potatoes long enough in the oven. However, they were still delicious. I made them with onions, green pepper and black pepper. Next time, I want to try slicing the  potatoes into smaller pieces after boiling them. And maybe add some vegan margarine.

Nothing exciting to report except that I partially destroyed the lid of the blender. The small cap in the lid fell into the blender while it was running and lost a few chunks.  Tomorrow morning I’ll have to get creative.

-B

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the feast of Fruit

This was the sight that I woke up to this morning in the house that I work in:

It was beautiful.  They bought me blueberries, cherries, strawberries, apricots, white peaches, plums and avocados. I was so excited. It reminded me of a thanksgiving feast. But all fruit.

So I’m good with fruit for a while.

For lunch, I tried something different in my salad. In addition to my customary romaine, green peppers, raisins and dried cranberries, I added some herbs. Oregano and garlic powder, plus some black pepper. It added a pretty nice and distinctive flavor. I would definitely do it again.

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baking the Vegan Way

This weekend, I was on a mission. I really wanted to bake something that was entirely vegan and mostly healthy, without following a recipe exactly. And of course, it happened to be on a day when it was 93° outside. And using a recipe that required the oven to be preheated to 400°. My mom was not happy.

So first I attempted to make date sugar.  All recipes I have found online say that you either have to heat the dates at an extremely high temperature (400° +) or use a dehydrator.  Since we don’t have a dehydrator in my house, we chose the oven. It was much harder than we thought.  In my first batch, the dates were burned to a crisp.

We took the second batch out earlier, but they weren’t hard enough to be ground into sugar in the food processor. So we let them cool off and harden a little. Then we tried putting them in the freezer. Although it wasn’t perfect, the end result was similar to a slightly gooey dark brown sugar. It is definitely something I want to continue experimenting with.

Finally, once the “date sugar” was finished, it was time to start the cookies. I based them off of the recipe found here. However, I really wanted to make linzertart cookies, so I used almonds instead of cashews.  My mom wouldn’t let me deviate too far from the recipe because it was my first time making it.

Linzer Thumbprint Cookies

Ingredients:
2 cups raw almonds
1 cup oats
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup date sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/8 cup granulated sugar
unsweetened raspberry jam
lemon zest

First, I ground the almonds and the oats in a food processor until the consistency was like flour. Then I mixed together all of the ingredients, except for the jam, put the lumps of dough on a greased cookie sheet and created little wells in the center with my fingers. Next, I put a teaspoon of jelly in the center of each well and cooked them for 15-20 minutes at 350°.

They tasted better after they had been cooled off in the fridge. My mom loved them and I thought they were okay, but nothing special. Pretty oatmealy, which I think was because I didn’t keep the oats in the processor long enough. Next time I want to try to get a little more creative. But I guess it was better to try the original recipe first to get a feel for it.

But on a more positive side, you definitely could not tell that these cookies were vegan. That has to count for something, right?

-B

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Health Update

So I realized after I posted yesterday that I forgot to include the thing that I had most wanted to write about.

To get to the city, we decided to take the train. And just like the typical American family with younger children, we were late. As we were parking in the far end of the parking lot, the lights were blinking and the gates were coming down because the train was approaching the station.

We sprinted.

And of course, it wasn’t our train. It was a train going to Eastern LI; not the city. Awesome. However, this did make me realize something. I was not gasping for air because of my run to catch the train.

Even when I was in high school and in shape from running and conditioning during cheerleading season, I would always breathe heavy after running. Short distances or long, sprinting or jogging, my cheeks would turn bright red and I would pant for a few minutes until my breathing slowed down. I liked running, somewhat, and I wasn’t in terrible shape. I also had the stamina to run a mile, even if I looked like hell as soon as I stopped.

But not at that train station yesterday.

When I stopped running, I was breathing at a completely normal rate. After sprinting across a parking lot that was pretty big. I was shocked.

Later on, I noticed a similar situation. Stairs. Like I said, even when I was in shape, running up a quick flight of stairs to my room got my heart beating and my lungs heaving. I never knew why my body was so sensitive. I have come to the conclusion that it was my diet. Although I worked out at college, it was nowhere near the same amount or regularity that I did for cheerleading in high school. Since I’ve been home, I have been to the gym once. Clearly, I am not in any better shape than when I was younger. Yet, for the first time, I was able to run without looking and feeling like a couch potato.

It was amazing. I can’t wait to see what happens when I start spinning again at school with MKF. Imagine when I actually exercise and eat right.

Anyway, my meals today:

Breakfast- green smoothie with a frozen banana, blueberries, pineapple, strawberries and spinach.
Lunch- salad with romaine, a cucumber, a banana, raisins, dried cranberries and walnuts.
Dinner- I made a salad from the salad bar at Ruby Tuesday. It included green peppers, peas, edamame beans (<3), cucumbers, chick peas and dried cranberries combined with a mixture of spinach, baby greens and romaine.  Topped off with a tiny bit of oil-free balsamic vinaigrette.

The verdict? Eating a diet that happens to be vegan but, more importantly, is high in vegetables, fruits and beans while low in salt, sugar, fat and processed ingredients seems to be good for my health. Or if health is too broad of a term for you, than at least it seems to be improving my breathing/heart rate after exercise.

Happy Weekend!

-B

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on the road (or train)

Dionysos - the ancient Greek god of wine, theater and fertility

Today I went to the city with the family that I work for. I lovee the city, so I had a great time. We went to the Met and stopped in Central Park before heading back home. My favorite exhibit was the Ancient Greek and Roman artwork (I’m double majoring in classical history and psych, so obviously that would be my fav). That statue of Dionysos I posted above was actually at the Met; it’s not some random pic I found online. Awesome!

However, going to the city posed a few problems for my new vegan-ish diet:
1) I had to get the kids up and ready by 9am. We woke up at 8:30. There was not much time to make breakfast.
2) I had to make my lunch in advance. I didn’t know if it would survive the trip.
3) I am a slight germaphobe. Therefore, I had to make something that could be eaten without me touching it. I also couldn’t bring something too messy.
4) Did I mention I had no extra time for any of this?

I made my breakfast smoothie in record time and literally inhaled it. I didn’t think it was possible to get a slight stomachache from drinking fruit too fast, but apparently you can.

For lunch, I threw together another wrap. Yay for wraps! This time, I used veggies instead of fruit. Iceberg, green pepper, cucumber, shredded carrot.  Despite the fact that my wraps are too thin for me to work with, it was still in relatively good shape by lunchtime. It tasted especially delicious since it was eaten on the steps in front of the museum!

Throughout the day, the kids were snacking on milkshakes, taco bell and ice cream sundaes. Plus their lunch. But I survived on my salad wrap and felt all the better for it. =) I learned my lesson the hard way this week. No more dairy for me.

When we finally got home, I was pretty hungry. So I prepared a beautiful salad that was kind of like a modified version of the modified avocado wasabi salad that I made the other night. First I sautéed some broccoli and red onions in water. The onions made the broccoli taste so much better in the salad. But I love onions, so this was no surprise to me. Then I added some leftover chickpeas into the pan to heat them up, since I discovered I like them better warm. I added that to the rest of my salad: romaine and iceberg lettuce, shredded carrot, chopped walnuts and sliced almonds. It was the perfect end to a day in the grimy city. And I’ve found that I don’t really mind having my salads without any dressing.

-B

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my first (mostly) original recipe!

As you can see from the title of this post, I have had a very inspired day. Experimenting with dinner last night must have got my creative juices flowing.

For breakfast I had my traditional fruit and spinach smoothie. No surprises there. And also, no yogurt!

But for lunch, I created something awesome. I present to you, my masterpiece!!!

Ok, so I need to work on my wrapping skills. Or at least fill them with less ingredients.

The Fruit Smoothie CrunchWrap Supreme!
(creative title, right?)

So I was really craving oatmeal or some other grain this afternoon. But, of course, I couldn’t find any in the house. And then I spotted the tortillas! But I wasn’t feeling beans or veggies. So after a quick google search to prove I wasn’t crazy, I decided to try a fruit wrap!

Ingredients: (the ones I used, at least)
1 tortilla
some washed romaine leaves
half a banana, sliced
handful of grapes and blueberries
some pineapple chunks

It was so simple, but absolutely delicious! It tasted just like a smoothie, with some crunch. Hence, the name. Seriously, one of the greatest lunches of all time. You should definitely try it.

For dinner, I met up with my family and we went to The Cheesecake Factory for my little brother’s birthday. I had the world’s best salad there. It was outrageous! But I don’t remember exactly what was in it because it was on their special menu. Cashew Chicken Salad. Without the chicken, of course. The dressing was some kind of peanut butter vinaigrette (i<3pb soo much). I asked for light dressing and the amazing chefs actually listened! There was so little dressing that my waitress actually brought out extra because she didn’t think they put any on. It was perfect! Also in the salad were cashews (obviously), lettuce, carrots and some kind of toasted pita strips or something. It was nutty and perfect. Except for one thing. Cilantro. I DESPISE cilantro ever since my mom made a salad and accidentally added fresh cilantro instead of parsley.  My first bite out of this divine salad included a huge piece of the crap and so I had to go through the entire salad to pick the pieces out.  The good news was that I could not taste it at all once the pieces were picked out. Success!

For dessert, my mom and I splurged and split an apple crisp. This is why I am not 100% vegan yet. I’m pretty sure there was butter used in the crisp. I don’t think I had fully understood how difficult eating out is for vegans. You have to ask them about every single ingredient they use. It’s a good thing that I’m too poor at college to eat off campus.

So that was my day. I hope you found it as exciting as I did. And that you lovee my fruit wrap, if you happen to try it.

-B

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so much Excitement!

I have so much to say about today that I don’t even know where to begin.

I guess I’ll just dive right into breakfast and we’ll see where it takes us.

Typical green smoothie. Andd I found some spinach from last week hiding in the back of a drawer. Yay! However, today’s smoothie had a twist. The mother that I’m working for decided to buy me a HUGE container of non-fat plain Greek yogurt because I mentioned that one of my dressing recipes asked for some. (note: The dressing needs 1 tablespoon. She got me a freaking quart.) So, not wanting her to have wasted her money, I tried putting a spoonful in my smoothie. EPIC FAIL!

I mean, it tasted pretty awesome. And it was quieter since I replaced the ice with the yogurt. But apparently, my body isn’t aware that I am not 100% vegan yet. Because my stomach really hurt and was all crampy. No more dairy for me.  So basically right now, I am a vegan. End of story.

However, if you looked closely enough at the picture, you may have noticed that on the bottom was some fresh PINEAPPLE! Which, coincidentally, I cut up myself after watching this video.

=)

I was very excited to have fresh pineapple. Also in my smoothie was lots of spinach, blueberries, peaches and the horrible yogurt.

Now I know that it may seem strange to you that I am putting off being an official vegan. Many vegans can pinpoint that one moment when they decided to never eat meat again. But I’m doing it more for health reasons than for ethical reasons. Don’t get me wrong, I love animals. It’s just that, if I were to be completely honest, my health is the primary reason.

Anyway, for lunch I had a pretty basic salad with iceberg, peppers, cucumber, dried cranberries and toasted almond slices. No dressing. And alas, my employer tried to help me again, but she failed. The cranberries, which are one of my favorite salad ingredients, have sugar added to them. Although this is certainly not the end of the world, and definitely better than the yogurt fiasco, the sugar is useless. I like the plain dried cranberries better and they’re healthier. But it’s ok. I will survive.

After lunch, I decided to make the dressing that had caused the entire yogurt fiasco: the Thousand Island Lost Dressing from Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live. It’s a vegetarian/non-processed/healthier version of thousand island dressing. The ingredients are 2 hard boiled egg whites, chopped cucumber, onion powder, ketchup, plain yogurt and chopped red pepper. Since I didn’t have any onion powder, I used chopped onions. I also added a little bit of water since I thought the dressing was too thick at first.

I tried just a little taste and I thought it was very good. But immediately, the stomach cramps came back. If I needed any more proof that my body did not want dairy, I certainly had it. I will no longer eat dairy. However, I can’t promise that I won’t use eggs if I need them for baking this summer. Obviously when I am at school, I will have egg substitutes and I will be able to use them. But that’s why I try not to call myself a compete vegan just yet. I am leaving the tiniest margin of error available. But I probably won’t need it. An upset stomach is not worth the discomfort. I also realized I really dislike the smell of hard boiled eggs. So I put the dressing in the fridge and told my employer mother that she is more than welcome to use it, because I can’t.

Now, on to my final success of the day! Dinner!

I adapted this fantastic recipe from VeganYumYum. This is a big deal because a) it’s my first real adapted recipe b) it’s my first attempt at actually cooking a vegan dinner for myself c) i had both cooked and raw vegetables today instead of just raw d) i used chickpeas AND soy sauce, both of which I am not overly fond of.  Chickpeas are ok, but I basically loathe soy sauce. And with good reason, too. Almost 50% of your FDA recommended daily intake of sodium is in 1 tablespoon of regular soy sauce!! Of course, I didn’t notice this until after I finished eating when I looked again at the recipe and saw that it called for low sodium soy sauce. Whoops!

You can see the original recipe by clicking on the above link. Most of my changes were pretty minor and due to lack of ingredients. For the dressing, I only mixed together red wine vinegar and mustard. Yes, I know that the salad is called “Avocado Wasabi Salad.” Yes, I know that I did not include either avocado or wasabi in my salad. Just bear with me. To make the wasabi-less wasabi chickpeas, I sautéed the chickpeas in some water and some of the broth that it was canned it. And of course, I realized after I did this that canned chickpeas don’t really need to be sautéed. Oh well, at least it warmed them up. And I was able to add a dash of the toxic soy sauce, to get the peas to absorb some. Next I cooked some broccoli in the same broth that the chickpeas were warmed in. Finally, I mixed the chickpeas and the broccoli with my iceberg lettuce mix (which included sliced carrots and cabbage) and toasted, lightly presalted almond slices. I was very proud of this recipe because I was able to eliminate the salt, sugar and oil that it called for.

So finally, it was time to taste my concoction.

It was missing something.

Hmmm…

Chopped onions! Yes! And some black pepper! (which was technically in the recipe, I had just forgotten it.)

Perfect! I was sooo happy that I had thought of an ingredient all on my own that completed the recipe. Even if it was just onions.

my masterpiece

Well, that brings us to the conclusion of my happy day.  I would just like to give a quick shout out to my lovely friend, MKF! She is the first person that I told about this blog and she even added it to her bookmarks =) Love and miss you, girl<3

Happy Cooking!

-B

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epiphany!

Today was EXCITING! Well, not really. But a pretty awesome thing did happen to me this morning.

I was washing dishes after breakfast (my customary fruit and veggie smoothie), when suddenly I picked up my arch nemesis: the blender cover. =O Normally when I have to wash the blender cover, I end up spraying water everywhere, especially on my shirt. This is similar to when I wash spoons, but exponentially worse. One time, my shirt was practically dripping.

Anyway. Today I emerged from the battle unscathed. How?? you may ask. Well I shall tell you. I had the most beautiful epiphany of all time. It occurred to me that I could simply turn down the faucet so the water pressure was lower. *gasp* So beautiful! So simple! So revolutionary!

Alright, so maybe it doesn’t seem like such a big deal to you. But I was really excited about it.

The only interesting thing about today was that since there was no spinach to put in my morning smoothie–and since I loathe iceberg in smoothies–I tried some romaine leaves and it tasted pretty damn good. More greeny than when I use spinach, but it was definitely drinkable.

lunch - iceberg, carrots, cucumbers, peppers and walnuts.

Since I don’t have flaxseed in the house that I nanny in, I am forced to use walnuts, which I love even more.

And I got to drive today!! (This is an unusual event simply because I have been without a car for the last seven months. But next week I’m picking up my brand new 2000 VW Passat!!)

So that’s a day in the life of a nanny. Pretty boring, if you ask me.

-B

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