Sunday, December 19, 2010

And so this is Christmas...

Crazy. It's been SO long since I've posted anything. A semester has passed, I became a fully legal adult, and I've cooked lots of food. Several times while cooking I've though "I should blog about this" and I never do. Partly because I don't really have a camera and I always think recipe posts are lame without a pic of the end result. My other excuse is that I'm lazy. But this morning, in our new house (that we're sharing with 4 other roommates) as I munch on my delicious breakfast, I have to share this quick and easy recipe with someone, ANYONE who happens to stumble on this blog. You will thank me. It consists of merely some pan-grilled tofu, Ezekiel bread, kale, daiya and rice milk but good god, this could change your life.
I tell you what people, I've been the worst vegan ever lately, and the biggest offenders that pull me in are sweets and cheese. Now I don't feel the effects of baked goods in my digestive tract nearly as much as the consequences of inhaling too much brie. But c'mon, it's brie!!!
I don't know how I'd survive without Daiya. No, it's not cheap and doesn't really work just sprinkling it on stuff, AND its probably not very healthy (certainly not part of the macro diet I've been attempting failing to follow), but it's the best substitute I've found that keeps me placated, and since I limit myself to one bag a month, it might be okay.
Enough of my jibber jabber, go make some breakfast.

Kale Breakfast Sandwich
-2 slices low sodium Ezekiel bread
-slice(s) of tofu to cover one piece of bread
-T oil (any kind will do...I use a combo of sesame and flax, but if you're feeling a little naughty some earth balance would be yummy too)
-garlic powder, cumin, black pepper to taste
-few splashed (1/8 c?) rice milk
-1/4 c. cheddar Daiya
-1/4 c. frozen kale (whole foods carries it; most convenient healthy food ever. buy a million bags. seriously)
*Put your bread in the toaster. Heat a small pan to medium and put your oil in. It's hot enough when the oil starts to move by itself. Put in the tofu; it should crackle a bit. Season it up.
*While that side of the tofu is browning, grab a microwave safe mug to make your super easy cheeze sauce you will want to eat every day. Throw in the kale, milk and daiya. Microwave 1:30-2 minutes. Stir.
  NOTE: This makes a lot of cheeze sauce. You can either be reckless and use it all on your sandwich like me, save some, or just use a little less of each ingredient--your call!
*Once the tofu has browned, flip so it can brown on the other side. Careful of the oil that the pan will spit at you.
*When your bread is done toasting, slather some cheese sauce on each slice of toast. This is where your judgement call comes in. I like really oozy breakfast sandwiches because it reminds me of my egg over easy days, but if you more of a fried egg with a hint of cheese person, just slathering the bread will do. For an oozy "oh my god is this real life" sandwich, after spreading the sauce on the toast and adding your browned tofu to one side, scoop the rest of the sauce on top of the tofu. Yes, it is a heaping mess of cheeze sauce. You're welcome.
*That's it, you're done!

 The cheezy kale sauce would be great on a number of things, especially pasta for a quick mac and cheese. OR if you had the opportunity to try the Denny's egg-burger monstrosity, it would be AMAZING on a veganized version of that. In fact, I smell dinner...
 I'm sure someone will read this and wonder why I didn't nu yeast the tofu to make it more like egg. Well I'm intolerant to yeast and the couple of times I've used nu yeast, I hate it. So there :-P

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Unless That Cup Holds Change, I Don't Want to Hear About It

     My world is being taken over by FIFA and their soccer games. For nearly a month I’ve been told how the World Cup is about national pride, about unity, about world leaders coming together—the same crap I’m given during Olympics season. As of the past few days, it has surpassed by level of tolerance. An NPR report yesterday included an interview with a man who stated that watching the World Cup is more important than his job. This man was a firefighter. His reasoning? It’s an opportunity for all these leaders to hold hands and come together. That’s all well and good, but to what end?  I’m all about unity and world peace and every wonderful, happy, positive adjective you can come up with, but not when it is being used as a hypocritical veil for the horrors and crimes against humanity in their home countries. Let’s take a look at the countries left as of now: Ghana, Uruguay, Paraguay, Spain, Netherlands, and Germany.
     Jason Mraz recently visited Ghana. Why? To aid efforts in returning trafficked children to their families. The majority of trafficked children, and women in Ghana are forced into dangerous slave labor on fishing boats, and those who are not forced into labor are often sexually exploited. source
     Uruguay is a source and transit country for men, women and children trafficked for sexual exploitation, and “occasionally, parents facilitate the exploitation of their children in prostitution, and impoverished parents in rural areas have turned over their children for forced domestic and agricultural labor.” source
     Paraguay is not only a source and transit country for sexual exploitation, but child prostitution is also increasing at an alarming rate. Read Mabelia’s story. Child labor in general is alarming, many of these children expected to be the breadwinners of the family by the time they are ten years old. source
     Spain is not free of these atrocities. While we often think of Spain as a civilized, democratic country, Spain is a destination country for many individuals forced into the sex and slave trades. Groups from China, Bulgaria, and Romania are herded in for forced labor, and there have been increased numbers of minors brought in for forced begging. There are at least 50,000 victims of human trafficking currently in Spain. source
     Children prostitution in the Netherlands has grown at an alarming rate. The children forced into prostitution are often boys and asylum-seeking Nigerian girls, but numbers of Dutch girls being forced into the sex trade have been rising significantly. And it's not just children. “The Netherlands is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor…most female victims were exploited in forced prostitution, and the majority of identified sex trafficking victims were from the Netherlands.” source
     I am happy to report that Germany has child labor laws. That being said, it is a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking for sexual exploitation. Many cases of victims were identified in bars and brothels throughout Germany. While claims that immense numbers of women were trafficked into Germany specifically for World Cup fans in 2006 were proven false, forced prostitution still exists in Germany without sports-related motivation. source
     Added to the economic recession that many countries in the world are facing right now, fans of our final World Cup teams and more specifically, the leaders of their countries, seem to have more important things to be focusing on than sweaty men kicking a ball around and holding hands. When one of these leaders takes a stand against human trafficking and the exploitation of child labor, perhaps I will relax and let you tell me useless details and facts and scores of a sport that, for me, is quite possibly the most boring sport to watch next to golf. Until then, the next score or recap you give me will be met with a reminder of the terrible things happening in these countries.
     Why doesn’t this anger anyone else? Why aren’t we working together to stop this? The U.S. isn’t free from blame. We to are a transit and destination country for forced labor and sexually exploited human trafficking victims. We can stop it here, by cracking down on companies that hire illegal immigrants rather than on the workers that are often here against their will, by writing letters to Congress, to the White House, to anyone willing to listen. Educate yourselves. Love the planet and those in it. Let’s take care of one another.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Wish I Was Being the Change...

Okay, so after two weeks I’m thinking it’s time for an update. Tons of stuff has happened. Camp started, got screwed over on a pay check, Max’s veganism has started (follow his journey here) and we’ve cut out (almost entirely) high fructose corn syrup from our diet.
I have a few new recipes to share with you. I was thinking of things to bring for lunch and to have around for dinner and saw my can of chickpeas. So, I drained/rinsed them and then mushed them up in a bowl with some steamed veggies, some Ener*G egg replacer, and some coconut flour. After that I formed them into patties and pan fried them. Quite yummy with a few squirts of mustard, though I think some brown rice would have made them a bit more substantial.
Next I suppose is less of a recipe and more of a good find. To my disdain (though not necessarily surprise) the majority of boxed baking mixes contain HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP on top of most of them already not being vegan friendly. Well, we were at Target poking around the other day and what do we stumble on but $0.79 Target-brand brownie mix. I made it with Ener*G prepared with soy milk rather than water (it gives it a more eggy consistency), halved the oil and added unsweetened applesauce for the amount I took away. As they were baking I noticed they puffed up SUBSTANTIALLY. I’m talking, inch-thick brownies in a 13x9 pan. My first thought was that they would turn out cakey and that made me sad. When all was said and done, however, I am happy to report that THESE ARE THE BEST FREAKING BROWNIES WE HAVE EVER EATEN. No joke. Max even thought so. Now these things were huge, but at the same time still chewy and moist and, well, perfect brownies.
Finally, I’ve been making my own French fries for a while but last night’s batch was surely the best so I thought I’d share my process. First, pick bigger potatoes and depending on the size of your cookie sheet (mine’s pretty freaking big) only bake 2-3 at a time. I peel them and then attempt to make roughly the same size fry with my knife. It’s not an exact science, but I cut them in quarters, and then quarters or thirds again. The resulting size is smaller than steak-fries but bigger than fast food style. Next I put my fries in a bowl, shake some salt on them and let them rest. This helps remove some of the excess water and will make them crispier. I blot up the water with a towel, toss them in some olive oil and spread them out on my baking sheet. Next I shake some seasoned salt, pepper and chili powder and bake in the oven at 375. I’m not entirely sure for how long, but once the bottom seems to be brown (and likely sticking to your cookie sheet) I flip them and then brown the other side. The result is crispy, flavorful, guilt free French fries perfect to serve alongside a veggie burger or dog.
Okay, time for the activist in me to come out, or rather, be lacking in coming out. I feel like I want to do more in my time on this earth…more for kids, for the environment, for fighting disease…anything to show others that there is more to life than just yourself. And yet, I had to miss Hands Across the Sand to work (read about it here), I can’t afford to travel to other countries like Haiti as some of my friends just did…I don’t even have time to train to volunteer at the Miami-Dade animal shelter because of working. My need for money for school has consumed me. Every day I wake up this summer is only to ensure that when I wake up every day the rest of the year I can go to classes I am paying too much money for. That is why if I find I can’t afford to go to school this next year for whatever reason, I’m going to join the Peace Corp for a year before moving to LA. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I know once I try to get my career started it probably won’t happen, so if the money for school doesn’t come through, I’ll take it as a sign. In the meantime, if anyone has any short-term projects they need help on the Miami area, or the NH area starting the end of July, please let me know. I would love to help out.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Epic Fail

So I totally suck at keeping up with this blog, but to be perfectly honest, I haven't had much to update about. I made a cake, with the same buttercream frosting, so of course that was delicious. Been working out a lot strength training wise (found Gwyneth Paltrow's workout and it's pretty intense) but still haven't been for a run.
Camp stuff started this week so craziness is in the air. I'm not gonna lie: I'm pretty terrified for this whole teaching thing. I still have to make copies of handouts and re-do my lesson plan.

Saw Shutter Island finally and I have to say, I was quite underwhelmed. The "twist" was so obvious from the get go that it would have been more surprising if *SPOILER* he wasn't actually crazy and it really was a conspiracy. Also, I don't see how there can a debate over the ending. If he weren't cured, the line "this place makes me wonder if it's better to live as a monster or die a good man" would make NO sense. What in the world would prompt that and why would he then just get up and walk straight toward the orderlies who are quite obviously coming to get him with surgery tools? I'm convinced that whoever was blown away/shocked by this movie had never seen a thriller before, because, really people.
Also, the soundtrack was terrible. I loved the soundtrack for Gangs of New York to the degree that I searched for it for two years before my wonderful boy tracked it down for me. That is the extent to which I hated the score to this movie. It was completely inappropriate or over the top for the majority of the movie and came in and out at the most ineffectual times. I think Scorsese might be losing his touch.

That's all I have to say for now. Perhaps inspiration will strike between today and tomorrow.

Until next time.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The A-Team

No, not the movie. I'm talking about a delicious dessert substitute I created last night. We were at TGI Fridays and our friend, Drew, got a delicious looking peanut butter/chocolate pie. Clearly, not vegan. Did this stop me from taking a bite? Absolutely not, I am nowhere near strict enough yet...AND I felt horrible after, mostly due to my lack of willpower, but somewhat due to the fact that in reality: it wasn't that good. I mean, the taste screamed artificial everything and left a gross coating on my mouth. Food should taste good people! And so, I went home and searched my kitchen for proper, guilt-free substitutes. What I concocted?
My A-Team:

You see correctly. High fiber flax cereal, natural peanut butter, unsweetened Almond Breeze and Hershey's syrup. I also used a banana, but i'm not sure I loved it in there.

Now, I will say I would have much rather used sugar-free syrup, but we didn't have any. Anyway, in a bowl I mixed these things together (way more than I should have) and microwaved it for about a minute and a half. The result was a crunchy, creamy, salty, chocolate-y bowl of heaven. The measurements below are recommended. Clearly futzing would work too, but I will say I had WAY too much cereal in my bowl.

3/4 to 1 c. high fiber cereal
1/8 c. unsweetened almond breeze (or more if you don't want it crunchy on top)
2 T natural peanut butter
drizzle (about 1 T) chocolate syrup
optional: 1 banana, chunked

Layer in bowl and microwave. Let cool (or not) mush together, and ENJOY!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Food Glorious Food

      So, I realized that if I don't force myself to update, I probably won't. It's not that I don't want to, I just get easily distracted and well, lazy, which is why I got this thing in the first place. NO MORE LAZINESS.
     Okay, so, I know I had said that I was going to run yesterday, but I forgot that I work on the weekends. So, running didn't happen and I'm still a fat ass. We DID, however, get to go grocery shopping and get real food thanks to my grandparents, whom I love. We ended up spending way too much money on still makes me queasy thinking about it...but I'm all set on food for WEEKS so I guess the money would have been spent anyway. And now I get to eat yummy fruits and veggies, something my body has been craving for a while now.
     I also found some delicious baking mixes that are vegan friendly
:-) from Pillsbury & Duncan Hines(?)...maybe Betty. Last night I made some marbled cupcakes that were TO DIE FOR. According to Max, they more than make up for the weird spiced ones which is a success in my book. I topped them with more the of the same delicious buttercream frosting, this time colored purple. Why purple? I don't know...first color that came to Max's head I guess. Anyway, they're moist and fluffy and just too good. I also figured out that when using my Energy*G egg-replacer, soy milk gives it a more "egg" consistency than water, so I'll be using that from now on.
     Couldn't sleep last night...played the Sims, did dishes, and even visited the boy at work. Didn't end up going to sleep until 5:30AM. That being said, I did not get up to do my stair intervals this morning, so again, huge fitness fail. Max said he'd walk with me tonight though, so I don't have to feel completely defeated.
     I made an amazing salad for lunch today (segue of all segues...). Watermelon and strawberries were on sale, so I used those, half a cucumber, a veggie salad blend, a 100-calorie pack of almonds and some scallions with a raspberry vinaigrette. I highly recommend it. I think the best part of putting so much actual healthy stuff in salad rather than eggs or veggies drenched in oil or whatever, is that I can feel really full from something completely guiltless. Still have a piece of cantaloupe for later.
     In other news! As I mentioned above, I'm a huge Sims fan, Sims 3 to be exact. In fact, I plan to play as soon as I am done this post. There is a new expansion pack that I am DYING to get. It looks pretty fantastic...give it a looksie!

Until next time ;-)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Half Baked

So Max and I have been steadily running out of food for the past week or so. We're in between pay cycles, our rent is due on the 1st and we have little in the way of healthy options. Now, we're not starving, we have Ramen, and pasta, and as of last night we finally have SALAD.
To cope with the lack of variety in our diets I baked last week and yesterday. My first attempt was a low-fat vegan spice cupcake with buttercream frosting. Half of that worked really well. That buttercream frosting was the best frosting I've ever made. It took a 1/2c. of Earth Balance, a bag of powdered sugar, some milk and some vanilla and POOF! (no really, "poof"...I make a mess when mixing powdery things): DELICIOUS FROSTING. Now for the wasn't BAD per se...but it wasn't a cupcake. More like a sweet muffin. I mean, the frosting definitely helped...I had no trouble eating them. Max however, not a fan. I think the issue is, I bought some wheat flour a while back, but not the wheat PASTRY flour I had meant to buy. Everything is just coming out really dense and heavy. So hopefully I can get that problem solved.
Now yesterday, I had a craving for soft, NYC pretzels. You know, those 400 calorie twists the size of my face that are full of delicious simple carbohydrates? THOSE. So I whipped up a batch that was fairly easy from I used half wheat flour and half white so I could claim they were kind of healthy, and then some yeast, salt, oil, agave and maybe some milk? Well, some kneading, rolling, twisting and baking later I had some great pretzels on my hands. Salty, soft, warm...too good. I don't want to know the calorie count. I've already eaten half the batch. WHOOPS!
Oh well. On a bright note, I completed my first work-out challenge of the summer yesterday: 30 minutes of interval training on real stairs. This, to me, is a huge accomplishment for FL seeing as how even at 7:00 in the morning when I did it the humidity is still at around 80%. Now, I did feel like I was going to die...but I pushed through it so YAY ME. Tomorrow I think I'll run to Merrick Park from my apartment and look at dresses for my cousin's wedding, seeing as how that's the bulk of my weight-loss motivation for the summer. That's about 2 miles each way. You'll probably find my body on the side of Ponce. LET'S DO THIS!