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Posts Tagged ‘food’

My husband Kevin and I eloped in November 2009. We decided instead of having a big crazy wedding, we’d just swing by the courthouse and throw a low-key party later. Before we even got married, we knew we were going to have all vegan food at our party, and we knew that awesome food would come from Spiral Diner, our most favorite restaurant in the world.

Behold the deliciosity! All vegan, all awesome, put together by Lindsay—pigs in blankets, veggie wraps, chips, hummus, salsa, chickenless salad, and fresh fruits and veggies. The only other vegetarian in our family besides Kevin and I is my mom, but we heard nothing but good things about the food from our omnivorous friends and relatives. My favorite item was definitely the pigs in blankets, followed closely by the chickenless salad.

And of course there was cake! Glorious Neapolitan cake—layers of chocolate and white cake with strawberry icing, drizzled with chocolate ganache and topped with chocolate-covered strawberries—all put together by the very talented founder of Spiral Diner, Amy McNutt. OMG! And yes, it was vegan, and everyone raved about it! It was soooo moist and sooooo delicious (and pretty to boot)!

Here’s another view of the yumminess:

The party went down at The Usual, our friendly, local prohibition-era cocktail-serving bar. Seriously, if you’re a cocktail connoisseur or or just looking for a good Friday night cocktail, you have to check this place out. I’m a fan of the Scorpio and the Mai Tai. Click the link to check out their happy hour specials.

So that’s our vegan wedding party. I was so stuffed by the end of the evening, but it was all sooo, sooo good. And no one except my carnivore brother seemed even reluctant about the food. So there you go . . . vegan wedding shindigs can totally be done and they can be thoroughly awesome!

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Holy crap! I’ve gone over a week without posting a new recipe! How sad! Don’t fear, though. I’m back with something you can make for breakfast.

Granola is a healthy breakfast food that often gets loaded with oils, sugar, corn syrup, and other unhealthy ingredients, and the brands with healthier ingredients tend to be crazy expensive. So what’s a granola-lover to do?

Make this!

No oil. No refined sugars. Just wholesome tastiness. Enjoy it with your favorite vegan milk, on yogurt, on top of your I-Scream Sundae, or wherever you need the tasty crunch of granola.

Low-Fat Granola

4 cups oatmeal, quick or regular
1 cup oat bran or another cup oatmeal
2 cups raisins or other dried fruit (dried cranberries are great)
1/3 cup apple juice concentrate, thawed
3 tablespoons agave nectar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon powdered ginger (optional)
Tiny pinch salt

Preheat oven to 325F. Combine everything except the apple juice concentrate, agave and the spices in a large bowl. Combine the spices, agave and the apple juice concentrate in a small bowl. Add the apple juice mixture to the oat mixturel. Mix with a spoon until everything is evenly coated. Spread the granola out on 1 or 2 very foiled-lined (spray foil with nonstick spray) baking sheets. Bake until toasted, about 30 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes. Allow it to cool completely on the baking sheets, then store in airtight containers.

Variation: If you like your granola nutty, add up to 3/4 cup shelled sunflower seeds or chopped nuts. Pecans or walnuts are tasty!

For “flavored” granola, add up to 1 teaspoon of your favorite extract–vanilla, almond, coconut, or whatever you like–to the apple juice mixture.

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I’m a little late hopping on the New Year’s Resolution train, but whatever. My new year goals almost always involve eating healthier, shedding pounds, exercising more, writing more . . . it doesn’t change much. So here’s what I’m working toward in 2010.

1) Eliminating sodas. When I was in high school I stopped drinking all sodas, and I stayed soda-free for about five years. I started drinking diet sodas again around 2003-ish. I was at a party with my husband (boyfriend at the time) and there was nothing vegetarian to eat, and I was starving for something, so I had a Diet Coke. And that started me down the path of soda-drinking again. I’ve been trying to quit ever since. A couple of years ago I discovered Zevia sodas, and they’re really good (and way healthier for you), but still, they’re kinda pricey, and there’s really nothing better for you than water. So far this year I haven’t had one, and I haven’t been terribly tempted (and we have free sodas at my office). Water is by far the best beverage for your body, so that’s what I’m going to drink. I also drink 1-2 cups of black coffee per day, and an occasional glass of unsweetened tea. I don’t plan on giving those up. But I’m glad to be without the carbonation.

2) Exercise. I’d gotten into a good groove of regular exercise since July 2008, until around September 2009 I just kinda crapped out. I still went for light 20 minute walks, but to meet my health and weight loss goals, I need more than that. I started back up exercising right before Christmas with some Leslie Sansone DVDs that I really enjoy. I also walk and ride my bicycle outside. I enjoy exercise once I’m doing, it’s just the motivation to start that I lack. I’m keeping an exercise log on this blog so I stay accountable, and it’s kept me on track so far. I’m also incorporating strength training into my daily exercise routine, to build lean muscle and help out my lazy-ass metabolism. I have Smoothie Girl to thank for planting this idea in my head.

3) Food issues. Boy do I have food issues. I’m trying to have a more sane relationship with food, and it’s getting better. I think I’ve realized the hardcore low-fat dieting is not for me. I need moderate amounts of healthy fats from avocados, nuts, coconut, and nut butters. I still avoid straight oils because they’re highly processed and have no nutritional value other than tons of calories. I’m also trying to avoid lapses into what I like to call “binge days” or “bad days.” Just because I have one fatty/sugary/uber unhealthy thing that doesn’t mean the whole day is a wash and I should just have a free-for-all with the chips and ice cream. So far this year, I haven’t had any epic diet lapses, maybe just a bite of something her or there, or one slightly “off” meal. The key is to get back on track ASAP and not dwell on your dietary screw-ups. They happen.

So there we have it. All my issues out here for the interwebs to see. What are your exercise/health goals for the new year?

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Spiral Diner is hands-down my most favorite restaurant ever. Spiral is a vegan restaurant that opened in Fort Worth in 2002. I’ve been going ever since opening week and I’ve rarely had a thing I didn’t like.

Spiral has a regular rotation of Blue Plate Specials. Past ones have included the Festivus Sandwich (cranberry pecan dressing, Tofurkey, cranberry sauce, cream cheese, and mayo all sandwiched between two slices of whole grain bread), the Paul Reuben (vegan reuben), chili mac, crazy baked potatoes, and countless other awesome things.

Their newest Blue Plate is an assortment of vegan quesadillas (made with Daiya cheese and all kinds of awesome fillings) and vegan nachos (made with their own cashew cheeze sauce). Of course, as soon as we found out they were offering these tasty gems, Kevin and I had to go down there and try them out. We ordered the Blackened Tofu Quesadillas:

And the Black Bean and Cheese Nachos:

We shared both, and WOW! The quesadillas consist of whole wheat tortillas stuffed with melty Daiya cheese (this stuff is magical!), crisp blackened tofu, corn, tomatoes, green onions and creamy chipotle. On the rare occasion I’ve had regular quesadillas, I always feel gross after eating all that greasy cheese. The Daiya cheese is melty and creamy without all the grease, and the tofu and corn add the perfect combo of textures and flavors.

The nachos were also a winner. The piping hot cashew cheeze sauce is smooth and has a great nutritional yeast/”cheezy” flavor, and the black beans, tomatoes, and onions all added great substance and flavor. They reminded me a little of the vegan nachos we had at Hungry Tiger Too in Portland, Oregon.

If you live remotely close to a Spiral Diner (there’s one in Fort Worth and Oak Cliff), get there fast before these babies are gone. I really, really hope these get added to the regular menu. In fact, now I’m inspired to make my own vegan nachos . . .

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Here’s more awesome vegetarian food we found in Austin. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, see this post.


TLT Sandwich at . LOVED this restaurant! They have a mix of ominivore, vegan and vegetarian offerings. This is the vegan version of their TLT, subbing tempeh for the bacon, and the millet bread is gluten-free (they have lots of gluten-free options, come to think of it). Came with a big ol’ dish of vegan mayo and slaw. Sandwich was great, but I didn’t care much for the slaw; it had a strange taste I just couldn’t bring myself to like. Snack Bar is in a revamped ’50s building. Very mid-centry, and they were playing Talking Heads on the patio when we ate there. How much cooler can you get?


This was Kevin’s selection at Snack Bar—the Veggie Bocadillo. Roasted veggies, grilled halloumi cheese (!), and Moroccan spices on a baguette with a side of potato straws. He enjoyed the sandwich, and the potato straws were way better than my slaw.


Of course, we had to go back to Jo’s. This is their BBQ sandwich made with wheat roast on a slightly sweet bun. YUM! You can’t go wrong with Jo’s wheat roast. It’s a little sweet and really spicy.


This is Kevin’s griddled 3 cheese from Jo’s with a side of fries. He likes his grilled cheese sandwiches!

Somehow we managed to not take pictures of any of our breakfasts, which is too bad. My favorite breakfast was probably the multi-grain pancakes from Jo’s (yes, we went there a total of 3 times). It wasn’t until after we left that I realized the other Jo’s on South Congress had a tofu “egg” salad sandwich. If I’d known that, we would’ve gone there for lunch while we were on South Congress. Oh, well. I’m sure Jo’s will still be there when we go back in December 2010.

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Kevin and I have been in Austin these last few days (hence the lack of posts). We’ve going during our Christmas vacation these last two years, and I have to say, I think I could easily live in Austin. They have some great, walkable urban areas, lots of cool independent business and a crapload of vegetarian-friendly restaurants. While I had fun, I was happy to get home last night. Here’s some of the veg-friendly eats we enjoyed (all pictures were taken by Kevin):


The Berkeley Vegan Pizza from Z Pizza. Holy crap, this had to be the best pizza I have put in my mouth, vegan or otherwise. I think they use Daiya cheese, and wow, it’s amazing! So melty and gooey! And the crust is perfect—fairly thin, but still soft and chewy. I wish we had one of these in Fort Worth!


Vegan wrap at Flipnotics. Can’t remember what it was called, but inside it had brown rice, nori, thai peanut sauce. This was good, but I think it would’ve been even better warmed up. Loved the atmosphere here. Reminded me of places in Portland, OR.


Blue Dragon Smoothie from Juan Pelota Cafe. This smoothie is made with blueberries, pineapple, coconut and soy milk and it was awesome! Totally puts Jamba Juice to shame.


Veggie Frito Pie from Jo’s Coffee. We discovered this lovely coffee shop in the 2nd St. District (there’s also one on South Congress) last year and fell in love! You can get a vegetarian Frito pie made with either veggie chili or wheat roast. I picked the wheat roast and . . . wow . . . loved this, but I couldn’t begin to eat all those Fritos. Kevin tried to help, but we still left about a million Fritos behind.

I don’t want to make this post too long, so I’ll save the rest for tomorrow. I can’t believe it’s already New Year’s Eve! We usually have parties to go to, but this year I think we’re going to stick around the house and recover from our trip.

So . . . see you next year!

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Sunday night we went to a vegan potluck Christmas party, so I decided to make VeggieGirl’s Gluten-Free Blondies. They went fast and got lots of compliments. And they really don’t taste gluten free.

I doubled the recipe and made a few modifications. Here’s how my version went:

12 ounces (2 single-serving sized containers) chocolate vegan yogurt (I used So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt)
1/2 cup applesauce
1-1/2 cups organic sugar
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons agave
2-1/2 cups flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill GF All Purpose Baking Flour)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly coat an 9×13″ baking pan with nonstick cooki ng spray.

In a large bowl, add in the yogurt, applesauce, sugar, vanilla extract, and agave. Mix well.

In the same bowl, add in the flour, baking soda, chocolate chips, and walnuts. As the mixture starts to thicken up/combine, add as much nondairy “milk” as you need (but not too much) so that the batter is mixable. (I didn’t have to add any milk.)

Pour mixture into the 9×13″ baking pan.

Bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the blondies comes out clean.

I think I will be making these a lot in the future. Thanks for your great recipe, VeggieGirl!

Yesterday was uneventful food-wise. This morning, however, I had peanut butter-hemp nut oats.

I cooked 2/3 cup quick oats with 2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk and 2/3 cup water, then stirred in a little organic sugar and 1 tablespoon PB2. I topped it off with 3/4 tablespoon hemp nuts. It had just the right combination of sweetness and peanut buttery-ness, and the hemp nuts added a nice texture.

What’s your favorite way to eat oatmeal?

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Today, Kevin and I headed to the Bishop Arts District to do a little shopping and hanging out. Highlights included lunch at Cafe Brazil (no pics, unfortunately. I’d already eaten most of my meal before I thought of that :-P)—they have an amazing Pumpkin Cheese cake with a brownie crust that I must veganize, shopping at Shambala, where we picked up some Christmas gifts, a stop in at the Soda Gallery, and Dude, Sweet Chocolate, an amazing little chocolate shop. We picked up one of their Albinao & Cardamom bars. I’ll write a review of it once I try it. :-)

When we got home, I was in the mood to make something, so I made these No Bake Peanut Butter Protein Bites from Pimp My Protein Shake. I ended up modifying the recipe pretty heavily, subbing almond butter for the peanut butter, chocolate coconut milk yogurt for the plain, chocolate protein powder for the vanilla, and I omitted the cinnamon and vanilla. Then, I realized I only had 3 scoops of protein powder instead of five, so I upped the oat flour. They still turned out great. I rolled half of them in flaxseed meal and half in hemp seeds. Kevin’s enjoying a pile of them right now.

I thought these turned out really well. They don’t have a nasty protein powder taste. I used Spiru-tein because it’s pretty much the only protein powder that doesn’t make me retch (sorry, Jay Robb, I tried to like your protein powder, but I just can’t). They’re also not too sweet and they’re filling enough that I don’t want to gobble down half a dozen at a time. Teamed up with a glass of almond milk, a few of these would make a filling breakfast.

Tomorrow I’ll be making goodies for a vegan potluck. Stay tuned for pics tomorrow! :-)

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Inspired by Happy Herbivore’s Sushi Rice Bowl (can’t seem to find the direct link on her site anymore), I made this last night.

Normally, we have several vegetarian-friendly restaurants we can walk or bike to in our neighborhood (and a wonderful all-vegan restaurant just two blocks away), but on Sundays it’s like everyone thinks the Blue Laws are still in effect. I wanted to cook, but there wasn’t much in the house, and we didn’t want to drive anywhere. So . . . we got on our bikes and rode to the nearest grocery store, which happened to be Fiesta. While we were there, we discovered Fiesta has a pretty kick-ass international aisle, and after a lot of walking around and deliberation, we grabbed some Cal Rose rice, avocado and nori sheets (among many other things) and headed home. So we got our grocery shopping and exercise done in one fell swoop, no small feat in Texas where everyone likes to use their car to go everywhere (we have certain neighbors who drive 1/4 block to each others’ houses :-\).

Anyway, when we got home, we made these sushi bowls. They’re perfect when you want the taste of sushi, but don’t want to spend your afternoon rolling [or when all the nearby sushi joints are closed because it's Sunday :-(].

Also, I know I don’t cook the rice in the traditional way for sushi, but it seemed to turn out fine. If you want to rinse your rice like a real sushi chef, go for it. Also, you can sub short-grain brown rice if you want; I was just in more of a white rice mood last night. :-)

Avocado Sushi Bowls

1 cup Cal-Rose Rice (or sushi rice)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 small avocado, cut into chunks
1 sheet toasted nori (or 1 soy wrapper if you’re not into seaweed)
Sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the rice, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and all it to sit, covered, for 15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the vinegar, agave and salt. Continue stirring the rice often until it cools to room temperature (or cooler). Divide the rice between two bowl and top with avocado chunks. Cut or tear the nori into small pieces and sprinkle some on each bowl. Garnish with sesame seeds, if desired. Serves 2.

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Last night we had another Christmas party to attend, so I took these:

These tasty bars are chock full of good stuff: blueberries, oats, applesauce, and whole wheat. They’re fat-free and full of fruit and whole grains, so you can enjoy them guilt-free. They’re even good for breakfast! Enjoy!

Blueberry Oat Bars

3 cups quick-cooking oats
2-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cups organic sugar
1-1/2 cups applesauce
12 oz. fresh or frozen blueberries
1 12-oz jar strawberry all-fruit spread (I use Polaner’s)
1 tsp. whole wheat pastry flour

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix the first four ingredients together in a medium-sized mixing bowl. In another bowl, combine the last three ingredients. Reserve 2 cups of the oatmeal mixture and press the rest into a lightly oiled 9 x 13 glass pan and bake for 15 minutes. Then, spread the blueberry mixture over the baked oat crust and crumble the reserved oat mixture over the top. Bake for 20 more minutes. Allow to cool before cutting.

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