Vegetarian

Summer Salad On A Wild Night

I know all of you people suffering the 100+ degree weather wan’t to shove my face with a cookie to shut me up, but the heat in Washington has been zapping me! My energy is lower, my appetite is lower, and my motivation to “cook” is lowweerr than low. Fortunately for me, I know someone else that is suffering from the 90+ degrees. He has provided me with a wonderful summer recipe! Stolen Adapted from here, this fruity protein goodness is refreshing and filing.

Quinoa Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing

  • 1 cup dry quinoa (after this is cooked it expands to more than a cup)
  • 1.5 cups blueberries
  • 1.5 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1.5 cups chopped mango

For the dressing:

  • Juice one large lime
  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh mint

Cook the quinoa and let it cool. Once cool, combine quinoa, blueberries, strawberries and mango in a large bowl.

To make the dressing: whisk the lime juice, honey, and mint together until combined. Once dressing is combined, pour over the salad and enjoy!

This was very light, and perfect for a hot day.

Friday night I decided to be wild. I can’t remember the last time I got wild on a Friday night. I went to the store, and I left with this.

I went in for socks and hair ties, and left with so much more. This giant book of dino’s was a whopping $1.00. The crayons were $0.50. If you do the math that’s $1.50 for one wild night. I colored a self portrait of my pillow pet.

This gorgeous portrait can be yours for the generous price of $0.25.

Correction: My friend has purchased this picture in exchange for cookies. Sorry.

Q: When’s the last time you colored?

Vegan With Benefits

In 2006 I took the plunge and became a vegetarian. Well, more like a “carb-o-tarian” because although I wasn’t eating meat, my vegetable intake was quite pathetic. I was a senior in High School and nutrition was important to me, but it took a back burner to the chips, cookies, and late nights with my friends.

Senior year, I am sure I had cookies smuggled into my pants during this picture.

My reason for going vegetarian wasn’t to loose weight, or better my lifestyle/eating habits, I became a vegetarian simply because I was an avid animal lover. My best friend and I took the plunge together (she is with me in the picture above) which made it easier. The smell of burgers was taunting in the beginning, but having someone with you through the process made the burger smell disappear..almost.

It was easier to remember why I chose this lifestyle when someone else was with me throughout the journey. Regardless of whether my tiny voice made a difference in the world, it made a difference to me knowing I was following my heart and respecting my animal friends.

He loved this coat..I could tell by the way he dug his claws into my arms while trying to escape.

Don’t get any ideas, I actually hate tongue to the face.

For about three years I continued with a carb-o-tarian diet. It wasn’t until 2009 when I started working at a smoothie shop that I reevaluated what I was eating. I was 20 yrs old and my passion for healthy eating was developing. I was in that shop every day. I became the store manager and was able to work endless hours while attending school.

I was taking science classes learning about nutrition, anatomy, and the inside of the human body. All of this new found knowledge fueled my desire to learn more. I loved this job more than any job I have ever worked. I had smoothies everyday packed full of fruit, vitamins, supplements (safe ones I promise) and more fruit! Wheat grass became my new favorite shot to take.

Management didn’t take my personality.

After almost two years with this company, the owners tried to transition to a smaller business under their own name, and ended up shutting down. Saddest.Day.Ever. I couldn’t bare living without my beloved blender, so I bought my own. He wasn’t cheap, but he was one of the best investments.

Fast forward about 5 months after being “laid off” due to the business closing. It was now January 2011, and I stumbled across a blog that I began reading religiously. This led me to another one..and then to another one..and then to one more. Eventually I became so infatuated with reading blogs that I started my own.

This is when my inner foodie escaped and began to thrive. My fruit intake was spot on thanks to smoothie work, but my veggies still needed help. I started roasting, steaming, and sauteing veggies every day. I fell in love. My plates turned into rainbows. 

I was officially health conscious. I ate an “official” vegetarian diet (lots of vegetables) for two of the five years I had claimed to be a vegetarian. Within these two years I had a few spurts of vegan experimenting, but nothing that lasted more than two weeks. In March of 2012 all of that changed.

I decided to try a vegan diet again. It was time for a change, and I was ready to be challenged with my culinary adventures. So this was the plan..go vegan for two weeks..see how I like it and then decided what I want to do next. Within those two weeks I noticed my appetite increase (or so I thought.) I felt like I was eating twice the amount I was eating before when I was still eating cheese. At this point my running had increased as well, and I devoted more time to bettering my athletic abilities. After two weeks of eating more, but not gaining any weight I realized this vegan thing might be a new lifestyle change.

Vegan donuts to refuel after half marathons.

Vegan donuts to refuel after half marathons.

I felt my options grow wider. I noticed how much dairy (cheese) I consumed during an average meal. I ate cheese just like most Americans eat meat, almost every single meal! It was ridiculous! Cutting cheese out forced me to expand my meal options and forced me to experiment! More grains, more vegetables, more fruits, more beans, more legumes, more raw, natural, REAL food. Unprocessed foods topped the list of my go-to’s at the store. I was eating enough food for a football team, but maintaining a healthy weight.

So where does the “vegan with benefits” title come to surface with all of this? Here’s how I see it. I enjoy eating vegan. I like the way it makes me feel, but most of all I LOVE knowing exactly what I am putting into my body..down to every last ingredient. Being vegan forces me to read labels diligently and effectively. If I don’t know what something is..I won’t buy it. I am eating as close to the earth as possible.

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Does this mean I will never eat dairy products again..possibly not. I want to travel in my lifetime. I want to visit Italy, Australia, Europe..everywhere. When I make it to Italy I want the option of tasting the culture through the food. This is where I am at now, I eat a vegan diet, but don’t give myself the label. If I choose to go forever without any animal products, so be it. I also eat locally sourced honey, so..yeah. #notarealvegan.

I feel healthier and more alive than I ever have before. I love creating new meals, and trying new foods. The past year has allowed me to grow into my foodie title and expand my resources. I still eat cookies, candy, carbs, and everything in between, but they are all made without dairy or eggs. I don’t feel deprived whatsoever. Should I feel as if I physically and mentally miss cheese, I will have a piece..but I don’t see that happening.

No cheese necessary for this vegan friendly grilled pizza!

No cheese necessary for this vegan friendly grilled pizza!

As for being a vegetarian, this will be something I always do 100%. I will never willingly eat a piece of meat as long as I am alive. There is no “benefit” with this lifestyle choice, animals always come first. I am aware of the inhumane practices used to get milk, cheese, eggs, etc..therefor I will try to purchase from local farms, respectable stores, and stay away from unethical companies should I feel the need for animal products. I’m a work in progress.

That’s my story, and I’m stickin to it.

The vegan with benefits label was inspired by Sarah@thesmartkitchenblog.

Q: How did you come to eat the way you do?

 

Enjoy Life: Plentils

Whenever I hear the door bell ring I jump up like my toe nails are on fire. I run to the door faster than Shalane Flanagan at the Olympics. 9 times out of 10 the door is not for me, but that slight chance that it is, is enough to set sparks to my soul. The other day the door bell rang, and the door was for me. I opened up the box and found a rainbow explosion. 

Food..for me? Awww..whod’a thunk I’d be getting food in the mail. Such a shocker. This box of goodies was sent to me free of charge by the wonderful Alina with Enjoy Life Foods. This is my fourth review for Enjoy Life products and good golly, it must be illegal for an allergy friendly company like this to be so good. 

This time I will be sharing my opinion about a new product of theirs, Plentils! These savory little puffs of crunch are made from lentils. This means more bang for your buck in the nutrition department. No more greasy chips without any fiber, bring on the plentil for a guilt free snack with a punch to the colon (a good punch) thanks to natural fiber!

Sea Salt

This is the basic flavor of the four varieties. A nice salty flavor, but not too overpowering. These won’t cause your intestines to shrivel up like a salted slug.

Dill and Sour Cream 

I am not a big dill fan, so I was afraid to try these. I should be ashamed of myself for ever doubting Enjoy Life because these were very good! The dill was detected, but not to the point where I felt like I was licking a tube of the spice.

Garlic and Parmesan 
This flavor was my favorite, hands down. Perfect balance of flavors. Love love loved this one. 

Margherita Pizza

I must admit this one sounded odd to me at first too, but once again..duhhlish. Due to the fact I am eating a vegan diet right now, it’s nice to know I can annihilate a bag of plentils and lick the sides of the bag clean to get my cheesey pizza fix. This tasted just like a forkful of basil, tomato, mozzarella and dough. Odd..maybe. Delicious..oh yes.

How do you eat plentils you may ask yourself? Well I highly suggest eating them all at once. No, not the whole bag..but one of each..all in one bite.

Just like that. Or, you can pair the plentils with one of these.

Yes, both options would behoove you.

So what’s the overall verdict on these crunchy lentil chips?

Thumbs up from me! Please ignore the despicable phrase exiting the cartoon version of me..to heck with soy perhaps..but no, do not give me the tri-tip. I happen to be partial to that wannabe mullet I have, this could be a new look for me. That is all.

Enjoy Life Foods are free of the top 8 allergies: dairy, wheat, gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish, and shellfish! NO EXCUSES go try something from this company STAT.

Happy crunching!

Dairy Free

Before I jump into the topic of this post, I want to share a quick and easy Thai inspired meal. You’ll need four items: Rice noodles, peanuts, a sauce, and a vegetable (Or go balls wild and have multiple vegetables!)

Real quick side note, this satay peanut sauce is NOT vegetarian friendly. I somehow missed this while skimming the ingredients. I read the ingredients to a similar product from a different store, and that one was vegetarian friendly. I assumed TJ’s was too. Mistake. Lesson learned- never skimp on reading the ingredients! Regardless, the meal was delicious and the peanut sauce has been donated to a non vegetarian. If you are a carnivore, omnivore, or even a pescatarian (the sauce has anchovies in it) you’ll love it!

After making a head of broccoli hair, I had to resist the urge to make a peanut face. 10 minute meal. Boom.

Onto the Brussels and potatoes of the post. Over the past six years I have evolved into a happy, healthy vegetarian. I started as more of a carb-o-tarian, which is what I call those that give up meat, but replace the meat with carbs instead of fruits and veggies. I have fallen in love with fruits, vegetables, and cooking over the past three years and have never looked back. I don’t crave meat, I find excitement in new recipes, and I enjoy telling people about my lifestyle (until they criticize and are ignorantly closed minded.)

One question I often get is, “have you tried being vegan?” The answer is “sort of.” I have never fully committed to becoming “vegan,” but I have had my experimental weeks, two at the most, of eliminating any and all animal products from my diet. I LOVE cheese, and occasionally eat eggs, and along with this I eat products made with dairy. Although I may not drink milk directly, I am ok with using it in recipes, and eating foods made with milk, cheese and eggs.

I’ve decided to give this vegan thing another go. However, I will not be calling it “vegan,” rather, “dairy free” because I am not going to be picky about where or how the food products are made. If the bread I buy is made somewhere that milk and eggs are present, but not included in the ingredients, I am ok with that. My diet over the next week, two weeks, or however long I plan to try this for will consist mainly of fruits, and veggies, along with the proteins, fats, carbs and other nutrients I will need. I will be completely dairy free including products made with dairy.

This is not a lifestyle change, more of a fun challenge to test my creativity and willpower to resist cheese. Along with cutting out dairy, I am cutting back on sweets. OHH MY HOGSQUASH this will be hard. I love my cookies, but I need a serious detox from sugar!! Notice I said cutting back, not cutting OUT.

With all this said, dinner last night was a dairy free success.

This plate looks like something I eat anyway, but throughout the day my desire for a string cheese and wheat thins was ever so present. This meal made my nagging cheese beast disappear.

Breakfast this morning was egg-less, but better than ever.

Skittle rainbows have NOTHING on my color wheel of food. I will be including cheese, greek yogurt, and cookies back into my diet very soon, but for now I will enjoy the challenge of trying new things! This will also challenge me to figure out exactly what the items listed on the ingredient lists are. The sugar, and cheese beasts in my system need to be tamed for a bit. Did I mention I love cookies?

On a random side note, but along the lines of challenges (running is a challenge I accept daily) check out this race photo from my 10K last week. 

I’m pretty much a celebrity because this photo was an example photo on the website before the others were even uploaded. This is why there isn’t a giant PROOF written across the photo to ruin it unless you choose to buy it. Of course I was caught getting my Garmin ready.

“The key to life is accepting challenges. Once someone stops doing this, he’s dead.” -Bette Davis

Q: What’s challenging you this week? Not eating cookies.