Knowing The Season Based on How Hot or Cold Your Workout Clothes Are

FOOD

I finally made a batch of homemade vanilla soy  milk.  It’s been on my to do list for a few months, but I’ve been lazy.  Seriously, I have no good excuses…I have a soy milk maker for crying out loud!

I have honestly gotten complacent about making my own dairy-free milks and was mainly subsisting on Silk Soy Milks (their Very Vanilla is amazing) for quite awhile.  Unfortunately, now that they’re making Almond Milk, I can’t buy their brand for risk of cross contamination (with R’s allergies, I just won’t take the risk – and if you read their food label, they can’t guarantee nut-allergy safety).  I haven’t found another soy milk brand I like, so have really just been using So Delicious Coconut Milk (which I like for most things).  But I really wanted a very vanilla-type milk, so decided it was time to make my own.

I used to buy my soybeans in bulk because of my milk making, but since it’s been so long, I didn’t want to use beans that are too old and sitting in my garage!  This last Sunday, I picked up some fresher beans, and went to town.  No real recipe to post because I followed ideas from others.  Soak the beans, peel them (easiest to as they’re submerged, and just rub the skins off – it reduces the beany-taste), put them in the Soy Milk maker with 2 tbsp of gluten-free oats (it makes it nice and creamy!), strain, then add a small amount of salt and any other ingredients you want.  I used some raw sugar, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean (to make it VERY vanilla).

it really is an amazing feeling to make your own food from scratch!   Ease of mind too, when you're dealing with food allergies.

it really is an amazing feeling to make your own food from scratch! Ease of mind too, when you’re dealing with food allergies.

Most my other eats this week were typical.  Green smoothie breakfasts, leftover Sunday bulk cooking lunches (hello Cream of Broccoli Soup!), and a holiday party lunch at the Yardhouse where they have a Gardein menu!

soy milk, pineapple, banana, mango, and spinach.  I LOVED that I took this to a meeting this week, and not only was there another green smoothie drinker in the house, but one of my co-workers took a swig (and loved it!)

soy milk, pineapple, banana, mango, and spinach. I LOVED that I took this to a meeting this week, and not only was there another green smoothie drinker in the house, but one of my co-workers took a swig (and loved it!)

green smoothie to-go!

green smoothie to-go!

Gardein orange chick'n with brown jasmin rice.  Seriously...I can get this out and about now!  And with a White Ale, it was awesome.

Gardein orange chick’n with brown jasmin rice. Seriously…I can get this out and about now! And with a White Ale, it was awesome.

For dinner tonight, I really wanted something light.  I love cooking my rice with a tea bag thrown in.  It imparts a different flavor profile, and can really change a dish.  Tonight was green tea, but I’ve done chai or spicy teas for a more Indian feel.  Green tea for an Asian feel.  You get the idea…just play with the teas and make what sounds good!

Green Tea Rice

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup basmati rice
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 green tea bag (and play with flavors for different meals…I’ve used Pumpkin Spice tea to flavor rice I was serving with maple and cinnamon roasted squash!)
  • pinch salt

Directions

  • I use my fuzzy logic rice cooker (everyone should have one…it does everything), but you can cook the rice based on the package directions – just throw the tea bag in at the beginning).
  • Add your choice of veggies and toppings.  Tonight I did steamed carrots, Mirin (a sweet Japanese vinegar) and Tamari (gluten-free soy sauce).  If I wanted a heartier meal, I’d throw in Chickpeas and black sesame seeds too.

The bottom line is to play with it.  Earth balance + brown sugar = a sweeter dish.  In these dishes, I let the tea drive the flavors.  There’s no need for your food to be boring (it’s sort of my life’s motto….life is too short for boring food!)

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And lastly…my friends at the FoodDuo have posted one of my favorite recipes in their 12 Days and 8 Nights of holiday dishes for compassion!  It’s an easy Balsamic Brussel Sprout recipe that’s sure to sway the ardent brussel-sprout hater!  I made them for my family in WI at Thanksgiving, and am pleased to report they were a hit.  They’re doing an amazing series of vegan food bloggers, their favorite holiday recipes, their holiday wishes, and their charities of choice, so definitely check them out.  I’m so honored to be part of their blog series, and there are some incredible recipes to be had….like jello pie.  Really?!  I’m making that….

FITNESS

You want to know the difference between winter and summer in Virginia?  It’s the workout bag….

Seriously, if you keep a workout bag in your car, you can definitely tell the season.  In the summer, my clothes are hot when I show up at the gym (or yoga studio) in the winter…they’re freezing.  This is how I know that winter has begun…

I threw my yoga clothes into my car on the way to the office on Wednesday.  My hot yoga studio has four locations (two in the area), and knew I could hit one up at the end of the day.  I always keep my Manduka yoga mat in my vehicle, so it was just a matter of shorts, a tank, and some shoes/flip flops (that aren’t work heels) to wear home.

Yeah…I forgot this isn’t summer and it’s not that easy….

I got to the yoga studio…wearing my work skirt, tights, high heels, and sweater…but no jacket because it was a little warmer than the previous weeks.

So not only did I have to put on clothes that were chilly….I had to leave in shorts, a tank, and sweaty as hell after an hour in a 100+ degree room…with no coat.  I go back to that sweatsicle blog post….let’s just say the drive home was uncomfortable…

Oh well, it was nice going into the hotter-than-hell room after putting on freezing clothes.

I’ve mentioned before that I hate winter, right??  Ugh…hard to believe I’m from a cold weather state!

LIFE

The past few days have been busy, but not in an “I-wanna-pull-my-hair-out” way.  I’m used to early mornings and late nights, but in the end…I completely love what I do.  I realize that I’m in the lucky minority who gets to say they love what they do every single day.  And sometimes it’s more challenging than others, but I’d not change it for anything!

My eldest, A, is home from University, and that’s been a trip.  She has a tendency to spread out where the rest of us don’t (her pillow and blanket are on the couch, her food and cups are left lying around), and while I’m glad she’s home, it’s making me nuts.  I keep walking around the house and finding her crap everywhere.  She must be making her roommate crazy….

D is still doing his daily #morningpicture with R!  I can’t believe it’s been almost 5 years of him taking a daily selfie with the young one!

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Other than that, not much to report.  D is feeling much better, and we’re still focus on healthy (no fiber) weight gain.  He has a few more procedures to make sure we’re on the right treatment path, but the fact that he’s feeling better and doesn’t need surgery is enough for me.  We can work the rest out!

So for now, I will leave you with a few pics…..

Halloween is my favorite holiday...the rest are sort of unimportant!  A had the brilliant idea of putting a Santa hat on Jack to make it work.  Brilliant....

Halloween is my favorite holiday…the rest are sort of unimportant! A had the great idea of putting a Santa hat on Jack to make it work. Brilliant….

totally my cats.....

totally my cats…..

Bumble, the Tree Killer....

Bumble, the Tree Killer….

 

Shopping, Shakespeare, and Food

FOOD

The past few days have been a combination of dining out and cooking up fun stuff.

A work lunch was Thai food (green curry, go figure), and then I took the kids out for dinner on Thursday.  My phone was actually completely full, so I didn’t get pics of those meals (crazy, I know!).

Saturday I had lunch out and about while Christmas shopping.  People are crazy, and I was happy to escape with a book for a quick and quiet meal.  Thai for me again – but not green curry this time!  I know it must seem like I eat Thai all the time…and I suppose it’s at least once a week.  Thing is, it’s never something I can enjoy with my family because it’s too nut heavy, so I do go solo (or with friends) often.

fresh veggie rolls

fresh veggie rolls

Tom Kha Tofu soup hot pot!

Tom Kha Tofu soup hot pot!

For dinner last night I made mac no cheese and salads!

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Breakfast this morning was a green smoothie in my Sammie cup, lunch was a salad from the grocery, and dinner was an awesome mushroom lasagna and fresh French bread.  By the way, the secret to awesome French bread is to have a pan of water in the oven while the bread is cooking – keeps it nice and moist!

water, 1/2 banana, pineapple, Vega vanilla smoothie protein powder (it was a post-workout drink), baby kale, and spinach.

water, 1/2 banana, pineapple, Vega vanilla smoothie protein powder (it was a post-workout drink), baby kale, and spinach.

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FITNESS

I cannot get over the places I have muscles that I never realized were there!  Needless to say, kickboxing is going well and I really do like it.  Repeated a DVD today and didn’t get annoyed (yet), so that’s got to be a good sign!

I woke up this morning just before 7, had a cup of coffee, and then did my kickboxing workout before anyone else was up and about!  It was quite cool, actually.

I also went to a hot yoga class today.  The only complaint I could have about my yoga studio is that they never seem to have fun.  The instructors are very serene and I have never ever been to a class that I would consider playful.  Truth be told, sometimes I like playful classes (like those that play modern music or even funky stuff like Mustang Sally!).  Today’s instructor is someone I’ve never had before, and I could tell that her energy levels were well about the standard “zen” most of them exude.  I made a point of mentioning to her after the class that I appreciated the energy she brought to the class.  It was a nice (and butt kicking) class.

LIFE

This has been a good week.  I know I’ve mentioned a few times that my husband has Crohn’s disease, and while the past few weeks have been rough (and nerve wracking wondering if this was the flare that would require surgery…it thankfully isn’t!), I’m happy that he appears to be on the upswing!  He has a few more procedures to be sure they have him on the right treatment plan, but otherwise it’s looking up.  Unfortunately, he has lost a ton of weight (about 20 lbs, and he’s a skinny and tall guy to begin with!), so now our focus is on healthy weight gain.  The caveat is that he can have no fiber, so I’ve been spending a lot of time planning meals for him to get his weight and energy levels back on track as he heals.  I just wish his doctor took more interest in eating habits and the impact they have on disease.

I went to Newport News and Williamsburg yesterday to do some Christmas shopping.  As much as I like (and do) shop online, I also want to support my local businesses, and do try to do that as well.  Other than people who get all dumb, rude, and incapable of parking, I did pick up a few things for friends and family.  I’m pretty much just down to finishing shopping for my kids, and we’ll be good to go!

One cool thing about Williamsburg and the Colonial Williamsburg area on the holidays is their Shakespeare performances they do in the streets.  I stopped and enjoyed a quick scene during my outing yesterday!

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Today was working out, grocery shopping, cleaning, and cooking.  A typically, but very nice Sunday.  Saturday’s used to be my favorite day of the week, but now I think I love Sunday’s more :)

Hope you’ve had a great weekend too!

 

As a side note, don’t forget to enter my cookbook giveaway from Dec 12th!!

 

More Yummy Free Things! Read On My Friends….

BACKGROUND

Okay, so anyone who has read my blog for any length of time, follows me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter (all RunCrissieRun) knows that I’ve been a huge fan of the Happy Herbivore for many, many years.

Lindsay develops recipes that are low fat, oil free, healthy, and best of all…EASY.  As much as I love a good complicated recipe with exotic ingredients, I also appreciate something elegantly simple that can be made with everyday ingredients (aka – no trip to a natural food store necessary!).  I think her books are great for anyone new to plant-based eating or wanting to get more good stuff in their diets.

I admit that I own all her books, have participated in a few of her challenges (healthy eating or just happy living!), follow her blog, and have subscribed in the past to her super simple meal plans.  Why?  Her food is easy and it tastes good.  Enough said.

REVIEW

I was fortunate enough to get a copy of Happy Herbivore Holidays & Gatherings for review!  I’ve reviewed a book of her’s in the past (click here to read more), and was more than excited to do it again.

This book has chapters broken up by holiday, which I think is pretty cool.  I’ll be honest, newer veg heads do get some anxiety around the big food holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter because their new dietary lifestyles buck against many long-standing family traditions (and they often fear what their families will think…and their families worry how to feed them!).

I have made the butternut soup (with her green chili twist) from the Thanksgiving chapter about 6 times in the past month!

Butternut Soup!  Seriously amazing and couldn't be easier.

Butternut Soup! Seriously amazing and couldn’t be easier.

this week's big batch.  133 calories per serving, and the serving is HUGE.

this week’s big batch. 133 calories per serving, and the serving is HUGE.

Speaking of chapters….(like my segue there?!?)…here’s what you can expect:

  • Planning the party chapters – very cool tips on planning big meals and having everything coordinated.
  • Occasions:
    • Thanksgiving, Winter Holidays, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Tailgating & Appetizing Parties, Romantic Occasions, Brunch, Breakfast in Bed, Easter & Passover, Picnics, Barbecues & Outdoor Parties, Kid-Approved Parties, Large & Mixed Crown Entertaining, Party Bars
  • Appendix with extra recipes, dinner party menu suggestions, and ingredients glossary

Other things I made:

Cauliflower Hot Wings from the Tailgating & Appetizing Parties chapter.  Seriously..this recipe alone is worth the price of admission...

Cauliflower Hot Wings from the Tailgating & Appetizing Parties chapter. Seriously..this recipe alone is worth the price of admission…

my omni husband and son were shocked...and gobbled these down.

my omni husband and son were shocked…and gobbled these down.

Cola Barbecue Sauce

Cola Barbecue Sauce

which is what I used to make this other HH recipe of romaine, corn, black beans, and bbq sauce.  See what I mean??  Simple but awesome!

which is what I used to make this other HH recipe of romaine, corn, black beans, and bbq sauce. See what I mean?? Simple but awesome!

So the recipe I get to share is a personal fav also.  One of the things I loved in my pre-vegan days was an awesome cream of broccoli soup.  I’ve come across a few over the years that I’ve liked, but none as much as this one.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups broccoli
  • 2-3 cups veggie broth
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice or potato, chopped
  • 1 cup nondairy milk (I use either homemade soy milk or So Delicious Coconut Milk)
  • red pepper flakes (to taste – I put in a good 4-5 shakes)
  • lemon juice from 1 lemon (I admit to using the bottled stuff)
  • optional add ins – nutritional yeast, basil, thyme
  • salt to taste

Directions

  • Saute the onion and garlic until onion is translucent.  I use a non-stick pan, but can also line the pan with a small amount of your veggie broth (a good tip for the future to saute without oil!)
  • add 1/2 cup of the broth and the rice or potato and cook until the liquid is mostly cooked off.  I personally didn’t cook the potato first, and just let it simmer until the potato was soft.
  • add another 1/2 cup of broth and the broccoli.    Cook until broccoli is very tender (you can use frozen broccoli too)
  • add the non-dairy milk and using either a blender or an immersion blender (which is what I used here), blend until creamy.  Add more broth as needed.
  • Simmer until heated through.
  • Add lemon juice and red pepper flakes (and any optional ingredients) just before serving.  (I actually prefer to add the red pepper before I blend to more evenly distribute the heat!)

I really love this soup.  The entire batch is only  336 calories – so there’s no guilt if you decide to eat the entire pot (which I’ve found pretty impossible to do!).  I did add a bit of sprinkling of the nutritional yeast to give it that cheesy flavor, but didn’t use the basil or thyme.  I didn’t think it needed it, personally.

I've also made this recipe several times because it's simple, keeps well, transports to work well, and is warm and filling.

I’ve also made this recipe several times because it’s simple, keeps well, transports to work well, and is warm and filling.

this was the perfect dinner!

this was the perfect dinner!

GIVEAWAY

I will be giving away one copy of this book to one of you lucky readers!  To be entered, please just leave a comment below, and I will do a drawing on December 26th (just in case Santa doesn’t bring you a copy for Christmas!).

Good luck, and in the mean time, feel free to check out more of The Happy Herbivore at her blog (click here)or if you’re looking for a simple solution to consistent healthy eating, her individual or family based meal plans here!

 

 

 

 

YumUniverse Giveaway Winner Announced!

Giveaway Announcement!

On November 28th, I did a review of the new YumUniverse cookbook by Heather Crosby – which you can read about here!  (yummy recipe in the post!).  As part of the review, the publisher graciously offered a free book to one of my readers.

Congratulations to Becca!!  She is the winner of the YumUniverse cookbook!  And not only did the random number generator pick her – it also happens to be her birthday, so happy birthday from RunCrissieRun and the YumUniverse Becca!

Thank you guys again, and stayed tuned for two more giveaways in the next few weeks :)

1 Jennie L
2 Melissa
3 Andrea
4 Becca
5 Nicollette
6 Strength and Sunshine
7 Rachel
8 Rachel H

True Random Number Generator

Min 1
Max 8
Result 4

RANDOM.ORG

I Like To Kick & Punch Stuff

FOOD

Sunday I went out for Thai food with NS!!  We both had the Tom Kha soup (mushroom-less for me, mushroom-full for her!), and I opted for my typical tofu green curry dish.  It was a yummy lunch.

I could eat this soup every day.  I suppose that means I should learn how to make it!

I could eat this soup every day. I suppose that means I should learn how to make it!

Dinner was mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, green beans, and baked tofu.

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I love being back home and in the kitchen.  Seriously…it’s awesome.  Green smoothies everyday?  Check.  Plenty of quick leftovers for tasty and healthy vegan meals.  Of course.  Some fun junk food?  Naturally.  So yeah…I do love to travel…but love being home more!

so you totally can't see it in my stylish pink mason jar, but I enjoyed an awesome green smoothie on the trip into work yesterday!

so you totally can’t see it in my stylish pink mason jar, but I enjoyed an awesome green smoothie on the trip into work yesterday!

coconut water, pineapple, vega vanilla smoothie powder (needed an extra oomph), banana, baby kale, and spinach.

coconut water, pineapple, Vega vanilla smoothie powder (needed an extra oomph), banana, baby kale, and spinach.

Lunch yesterday was leftover Indian food, and dinner was a quick Boca vegan chickn patty and leftover mashers and gravy.

Breakfast today was another green smoothie – blueberries, oatmeal, water, banana, cinnamon, kale, spinach.

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And lunch was roasted brussel sprouts and my current favorite spicy butternut squash soup!

big batch made Sunday eve.

big batch made Sunday eve.

lunch today!

lunch today!

Dinner was the last of the mushroom gravy served over rice with a Tofurky kielbasa.

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FITNESS

So I get bored easily.  Have I mentioned that?  And while I’m not exactly bored with running or yoga, I have been feeling the desire to do something else too.  To be honest, I don’t have a ton of free time to be a gym rat, so it had to be something fun at home.  So…kickboxing it is!

I have always loved kickboxing, but unfortunately my local Y doesn’t have a good schedule of classes I can attend.  It seems to be geared towards the stay-at-home mom, and the once a week kickboxing class is in the middle of a normal workday.  I’m not about to pay for a separate studio just to do kickboxing, so I’ve opted for the Les Mills home workouts.  So far, so good.  I’m always worried about my tendency to get bored easily impacting my ability to work out at home, but I’m hoping this is enough fun to get me past that!  The fact that I like to kick and punch stuff should help.

LIFE

It was nice on Sunday to get out and about with NS.  I was hoping to do some shopping after lunch, but between the cold and wind (and we ALL know how I feel about being out in the cold and wind!) and a typical Sunday where local shops are closed, it just didn’t work out.  Aside from that though, lunch was awesome and it was fun planning her upcoming birthday party!

The first day back in the office is usually pretty crazy, and yesterday wasn’t much of an exception.  Fortunately, I was able to be all caught up before I went out of town, and between the holiday weekend and staying on top of work emails after conference fun, I wasn’t all that behind.

Last night was a chill night at home for the most part, and today was more work and a lot of working from home on a report and presentation.  All good stuff, but lots of research.

D’s Crohn’s is still a pain, and I hate that I can’t just make it go away.  He has another procedure on Friday and we’re awaiting results from some tests from last week.  He did say he was feeling better today than he has in the past few weeks, but definitely not back to normal yet.

Until then…snugly cat and morning pictures!

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Oh Green Smoothies, How I Have Missed Thee!

FOOD

So happy to be eating at home.  First smoothie in over a week!  Only down side is I made it too frozen, and was then cold until I made tea to warm me up.  Damn winter.

First I had to core and slice up a pineapple!  I actually did this last night, but used a contraption my Aunt J got me last year.  $2 for a pineapple at Costco that I sliced up myself vs buying pre-cut pineapple for MUCH more at the grocery.

First I had to core and slice up a pineapple! I actually did this last night, but used a contraption my Aunt J got me last year. $2 for a pineapple at Costco that I sliced up myself vs buying pre-cut pineapple for MUCH more at the grocery.

coconut water, banana, pineapple, baby kale, and spinach.

coconut water, banana, pineapple, baby kale, and spinach.

yum!

yum!

Lunch was an attempt at a wrap, but the whole grain tortillas I bought yesterday kept tearing…so it was more like a salad on top of parts of a tortilla and mostly eaten with a fork.

romaine, black beans, corn, and BBQ sauce.  Recipe courtesy of Happy Herbivore...it's amazing and a simple lunch.

romaine, black beans, corn, and BBQ sauce. Recipe courtesy of Happy Herbivore…it’s amazing and a simple lunch.

I was feeling the need to bake some goodness for my family (mainly because my husband went out and bought…gasp…PACKAGED COOKIES).  Yikes.  Oatmeal-Raisin it is!

recipe from the Vegan Cookie Connoisseur

recipe from the Vegan Cookie Connoisseur

And dinner was Indian!

can't make Indian without some homemade garlic naan!

can’t make Indian without some homemade garlic naan!

the key to perfect saffron rice is to pinch and soak the threads in hot water (or non-dairy milk) for about an hour before making.  Use this time to soak your basmati, and you get plump and fluffy rice every time

the key to perfect saffron rice is to pinch and soak the threads in hot water (or non-dairy milk) for about an hour before making. Use this time to soak your basmati, and you get plump and fluffy rice every time

whipped up a base in the Vitamix of soy yogurt, green chilies, garam masala, salt, lime juice, Earth Balance, and a splash of coconut milk.  Simmer, and add veggies.

whipped up a base in the Vitamix of soy yogurt, green chilies, garam masala, salt, lime juice, Earth Balance, and a splash of coconut milk. Simmer, and add veggies.

after cooking completely, add about 1/2 cup of tomato.  Salt and pepper to taste!

after cooking completely, add about 1/2 cup of tomato. Salt and pepper to taste!

speaking of veggies (see what I did there?!?)...5 cups of assorted carrots, potato, and cauliflower

speaking of veggies (see what I did there?!?)…5 cups of assorted carrots, potato, and cauliflower

and enjoy a spicy, warm, and wonderfully filling dinner

and enjoy a spicy, warm, and wonderfully filling dinner

FITNESS

For today’s workout, I went to Hot Yoga down in Norfolk at my favorite studio, Hot House.  It was a 60 minute stability class, and was perfect for many reasons.  One, I’m a bit stiff from the traveling, and doing this class in the intense heat always loosens my muscles up well.  Also my brain has been a bit scattered the past few days – between traveling, catching up on work emails, and worrying about D – I needed the mental break that yoga always give me.  I’ve been lax on meditating the past few weeks, and it’s starting to show in my frayed nerves.

LIFE

Last night was M’s last performance for The Little Mermaid.  He was Sebastian, and it was an awesome show.  What cracked me up was the line of kids after the show that wanted his autograph or to pose for pics of him.

Sebastian (M) and Chef Louis posing before the show!

Sebastian (M) and Chef Louis posing before the show!

Then it was a night of trying, but failing, to go to bed early.  It was 930 when I tried…and 1230 am when I finally succeeded.  Then up early this morning (630 am) to get M off to his SAT’s!  Hard to believe that University is just around the corner for him.  And he wants to be an English teacher, which is pretty cool.

I had the house pretty much to myself all morning.  D slept in late – part of the Crohn’s is he gets no nutrients and lacks energy and is super tired – and R always sleeps in on the weekends.  I did dishes, some Christmas shopping on Amazon, finished laundry, and managed to watch an episode of Sleepy Hollow (I needed a new show, and Hulu has the entire series!).

After yoga, I came home, made lunch, showered, and have been mostly puttering around the kitchen.  I’m having lunch with NS tomorrow, so I’m doing some of my bulk cooking today.

Ginny "flops".  It's what we call it because she completely becomes boneless cat, lies upside down, and wants her belly scratched...

Ginny “flops”. It’s what we call it because she completely becomes boneless cat, lies upside down, and wants her belly scratched…

when I play in the kitchen, these two pester me for a coffee cup full of fresh water from the fridge.  So spoiled....

when I play in the kitchen, these two pester me for a coffee cup full of fresh water from the fridge. So spoiled….

me putting away dishes really just made a bed for Ginny

me putting away dishes really just made a bed for Ginny

she likes to hang out above the shower and freak me out

she likes to hang out above the shower and freak me out

Happy Saturday!!!

 

 

A Tale of Thanksgiving, Dating (and Breaking Up With) Bourbon, and Travels to the Cold Midwest

FOOD

Well, what a week!  I flew home to WI the day before Thanksgiving, cooked a bunch of holiday vegan food, went out to eat with my sister and cousins, and then went to Chicago for several days for work.

So…I had access to a kitchen for a few days and took advantage of that, and otherwise mostly ate out (except for an awesome vegan meal my sister made of black bean soup and local fresh grain bread with a balsamic/olive oil dip – of which I forgot to take pictures because I was more concerned with catching up with my sister who I haven’t seen in a year and a half!).

After I arrived and my Dad picked me up, we went grocery shopping, drill battery hunting, and then off to a Mexican restaurant for dinner.

This, my friends, is a yummy drink that swirls frozen margarita with frozen sangria.  Genius.

This, my friends, is a yummy drink that swirls frozen margarita with frozen sangria. Genius.

my veggie hot pot of yumminess for dinner.

my veggie hot pot of yumminess for dinner.

a vegan Thanksgiving with my parents and sister and her family!  Cornbread, maple roasted root veggies, balsamic roasted brussel sprouts, vegan stuffing (mom made that one), tofu pot pie, and green bean casserole!

a vegan Thanksgiving with my parents and sister and her family! Cornbread, maple roasted root veggies, balsamic roasted brussel sprouts, vegan stuffing (mom made that one), tofu pot pie, and green bean casserole!

The night I arrived, I spent time in the kitchen drinking wine, listening to Irish music, and cooking.  Sort of like I never left VA (expect I didn’t know where anything in the kitchen was!).

chopped mushrooms to make the base for the green beans

chopped mushrooms to make the base for the green beans

roasted butternut squash for the soup

roasted butternut squash for the soup

using my mom's Ninja to make the soup!

using my mom’s Ninja to make the soup!

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, my sister and I went around town and stopped for tapas and drinks at a neat place called Stilt that’s local to her.

sweet potato fries, squash soup, and pretzels with stone ground mustard.  And beer for her and wine for me!

sweet potato fries, squash soup, and pretzels with stone ground mustard. And beer for her and wine for me!

Saturday night was a major reunion of sorts.  In my estimation, it’s the first time this group got together in about 9 years!  Three of our cousins and my sister and I.

all the pretty girls!

all the pretty girls!

tofu hot wings which were delicious!

tofu hot wings which were delicious!

AC will be happy...I finally tried a bourbon drink!  This was a bourbon sour with a beer float on top.  Quite good, actually.  And my sister's yummy mojito.

AC will be happy…I finally tried a bourbon drink! This was a bourbon sour with a beer float on top. Quite good, actually. And my sister’s yummy mojito.

And then it was off to Chicago for a conference.  And here were some of my eats along the way…

butternut squash soup.  So glad it's a thing this time of year...

butternut squash soup. So glad it’s a thing this time of year…

roasted brussel sprouts with cranberries

roasted brussel sprouts with cranberries

grilled asparagus with sea salt and lemon

grilled asparagus with sea salt and lemon

went to a Greek place that really didn't have much vegan options, but did whip me up some yummy veggie kabobs!

went to a Greek place that really didn’t have much vegan options, but did whip me up some yummy veggie kabobs!

Greek beets....a cold dish of beets in garlic and olive oil.  It's the exact dish that turned me on to beets years ago!

Greek beets….a cold dish of beets in garlic and olive oil. It’s the exact dish that turned me on to beets years ago!

my standard hotel breakfast...steel oats, potatoes, OJ, and toast.

my standard hotel breakfast…steel oats, potatoes, OJ, and toast.

FITNESS

Well one thing is for sure…there’s no way on earth this girl is running outside in the Midwest in the middle of winter.  No way…no how.

Snow.  Cool to see in movies...not so cool to be in....

Snow. Cool to see in movies…not so cool to be in….

So, it was treadmill runs, yoga, and even a zumba class with my sister!

All fun stuff, but was glad to get home to mild weather that I can run in outside :)

Funny how thin one’s skin gets when moving south….though I was never meant for the cold, even as a kid!

LIFE

It’s been a really great, if not crazy, week.  I flew into Chicago last week Wednesday and then went to WI for the holiday weekend.

plane selfie!!

plane selfie!!

Thanksgiving dinner was at my parent’s house with my sister, her husband, and two kids.  I got to cook, play a game with my niece and nephew (after being told I buy them overly complicated games…they got back at me by bringing them and having me play!), and have Thanksgiving dinner with my family for the first time in eleven years.  The last time I was there for Thanksgiving was right before accepting a job and moving to VA.  So I bet you can all guess what I was thankful for this year!  While I missed my husband and kids, I know they had a great time without me.

my eldest, A, was home from college.  Apparently fell asleep completely wrapped in my blanket, and Bumble kept her company all night!

my eldest, A, was home from college. Apparently fell asleep completely wrapped in my blanket, and Bumble kept her company all night!

I spent a night at my sister’s house, and we caught up, attempted to watch movies, but really just talked through them (Love Actually and The Bourne Identity), worked out, went shopping, hung out and played another game with the kids, and then hung out with some cousins.

Sunday I took the train down to Chicago, checked into my hotel, and hit the bar to wait for my friend to arrive.  It turns out watching a Packer game in Chicago is a totally different experience.  I honestly don’t watch (American) football and normally couldn’t care less, but it was fun.

I had dinner with BS then went to bed to get ready for the conference the next day.  I also had too many bourbons.  So as much as AC wanted me to start drinking bourbon (she’s a big fan) it seems we’ve had only a brief love affair….we started dating on Sunday and promptly broke up on Monday…..

The conference itself was amazing.  I got a ton done, and was even interviewed (on camera!) for a publication specific for my industry.  Kinda crazy.  AC came down (we’re in related lines of work), and even though we shared a room, we hardly saw each other!  Our specific work responsibilities meant we were interested in different parts of the conference, but we still managed a fun night on Tuesday at a lovely GE 100th Anniversary event.

the most awesome hotel picture ever.  This was in my bathroom...it says (if you can't see it)...Your comfort is important to us, and with that in mind, we would like to inform you that opening the windows will allow flying insects and spiders into your room.

the most awesome hotel picture ever. This was in my bathroom…it says (if you can’t see it)…Your comfort is important to us, and with that in mind, we would like to inform you that opening the windows will allow flying insects and spiders into your room.

my last morning in Chicago turned out to be sunny (if not crisp!).  My hotel was on Michigan Ave, so it was a nice walk through the loop for breakfast and window shopping before heading back to catch the shuttle to the airport.

my last morning in Chicago turned out to be sunny (if not crisp!). My hotel was on Michigan Ave, so it was a nice walk through the loop for breakfast and window shopping before heading back to catch the shuttle to the airport.

Then I came home, worked, and took care of D, who’s in the middle of a pretty ugly Crohn’s flare-up right now.  We’re in the waiting game of test results to determine next steps, and he’s hanging in as best he can.  It’s impossible not to be worried about him though.  Send happy and healing thoughts his way, if you’re so inclined.

Other than that, it’s cleaning, shopping, cooking, and just being happy to be home!

 

 

Welcome to the Yum Universe!! (Review, Recipe, & Giveaway!)

Okay, so first of all – I'm interrupting regularly scheduled programming to do a special report on an incredible book (and giveaway!).

I was graciously gifted with a copy of YumUniverse by Heather Crosby (of yumuniverse.com) to review. I am happy to be a stop on the Blog Tour along with some other amazing bloggers!

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I would definitely say I'm a connoisseur and collector of vegan books (both cookbooks and awesome informational books like The China Study and Mad Cowboy), and it's a rare thing to find a book that really is both.

One of the things I really liked about this particular book is the three distinct sections.

Section 1 – Why

As in, why eat plants? Heather begins with her journey to YumUniverse, but rounds out this section by having us look at at the food industry, clever advertising, and the Standard American Diet (S.A.D…which is just sad…) and it's affect on obesity and health. My favorite line, on page 28, states “the Standard American Diet is composed of 25% animal products, 62% processed foods, and only 5% of calories from fruits and vegetables.”. Wow. We eat more food that come in a bag or box from a factory than we do natural foods that grow in the Earth. And she presents all of this information in a non-judgmental way.

This section also talks nutrition – because lets face it, the first thing EVERYONE asks when you say you've gone vegan is “where do you get your protein” (insert annoyed eye roll here). Really…everyone becomes a nutritionist when you start to do something that might go against the grain, yet most people know very little about what nutrients are important and in what percentages. But Heather provides great info on fiber, protein, Vitamin D, Calcium, probiotics, oils, soy, and others so you can know what you're eating is meeting all the requirements your body has.

Section 2 – How

Here, we're advised to make this a workbook and not a cookbook. Dog ear the pages (she even suggests some to do that to!), load it with sticky notes (my personal favorite method), write on it, spill on it, and use it as a guide. She answers questions like – how do I start? How do I handle eating out? How do I set up my kitchen and what tools should I have? It's the practical stuff no one really tells you as you start to ditch the boxes of crap and bust out the kale!

Section 3 – Eats!

And this is where I stop babbling and start cooking. I made many, many things from this book, and loved them all. I also did what Heather suggested in section 2, and made these my own and changed things up when I needed to. As a nut-free family, that's something I'm always going to do, and I knew that by the time I got to this section I had the author's “permission” to switch things up. So with that, here's what I made, here's a recipe I made…and how I modified it.

Butternut Squash Soup - WEB

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

4+ Servings

Nothing says, “Fall is here!” like a creamy bowl of Butternut Squash Soup with Granny Smith apple.

INGREDIENTS

1 butternut squash about 8″ long

1 teaspoon sea salt + a pinch

Pinch of black pepper

¼ cup cashews, soaked

6 sage leaves

3 cups veggie stock

1 tablespoon coconut oil*

1 shallot, diced

1 Granny Smith apple, cored and diced

STEPS

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Slice squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and discard. Brush open faces of butternut squash with coconut oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Place squash face down in a baking dish and roast for 45 – 60 minutes or until soft.
  3. In the blender, blend together cashews, sage, and stock until smooth. Leave in the blender and set aside.
  4. Heat a large stockpot to medium, add oil, shallot, and Granny Smith apple, and saute for 5 – 7 minutes. Then add to the blender mixture.
  5. Once squash is cooked, scoop out the flesh. Add it to the blender and puree until smooth and creamy.
  6. Pour blender contents into stockpot, heat to medium, and season with remaining salt and additional pepper to taste. Serve warm.

psst!

Add chopped kale, cooked quinoa, brown rice, or buckwheat for texture.

You can also roast your squash diced in cubes, or steam it (saves about 20 minutes but you won’t get the roasted flavor).

Try equal amounts of sweet potato, Hubbard squash, or acorn squash instead of butternut squash.

Use this soup as a decadent sauce over gluten-free noodles, veggie noodles, cooked quinoa, brown rice, or buckwheat.

My modifications:

I skipped the cashews entirely. I thought about using soaked pumpkin seeds or a mixture of cornstarch in water, but decided to just try it without – and you know what – it was great. Plenty creamy, and didn't seem to miss the nuts. Also, I didn't have sage leaves, so I just sprinkled it with pumpkin pie spice, and it was divine.

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In addition to this recipe, I made socca with Herbs Du Provence, a black bean soup, crispy chickpeas, and traditional cole slaw. And I have a ton of other sticky notes to run through in the near future!

pressure cooking the black beans for the soup!

pressure cooking the black beans for the soup!

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Interview

I also asked Heather a couple of quick questions! Here are her replies!

This book is so much more than a cookbook. It's also a research book, nutritional guideline, and workbook to transform one's life easily into a plant-based one. What was your motivation for taking such a holistic approach to this book?

It was important to me to create a comprehensive book that had everything in one place. There are many reasons WHY we want to consider eating more plant-based foods (I detail them in section 1), and there are delicious recipes to EAT (150+ in section 3), but the heart of the journey, the HOW (section 2), is what people really need to make a sustainable lifestyle change. How to shop, how to plan, how to prep the kitchen, how to deal with social situations, how to sprout, how to bake, etc.—the list goes on. YumUniverse is not only recipe inspiration, but it’s the know-how, tips and tools you need to transition, change habits and/or fine-tune, whether you’re a newbie to this approach or a seasoned veteran.

What advice or substitutions would you suggest for your readers who are, due to allergies, forced to be nut-free?

In the book and, with each recipe, I provide adaptation suggestions to help folks adjust for their particular dietary needs. In general, when cashews are called for soaked and blended into a recipe, macadamia nuts (sweet or savory recipes) and/or sunflower seeds (sweet or savory recipes), even plain hummus (savory recipes), can often be used as substitutions. When nuts are called for to add crunch or texture to a recipe, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, kale chips, pumpkin seeds, etc. can be used.

When we have an allergy to a food, take off the “deprivation” lens. Approach diet with a curiosity and excitement about what we can eat. I never really experienced the variety, flavor, and possibilities of food until I had “limitations” to navigate. Get creative, break some rules. Discover.

Giveaway!

This is the part you've been waiting for right?? Have I convinced you yet how much you want this book? Even as a vegan for many years (my 7 year veganversary is TODAY), it's amazing to find a book that is so inspiring and refreshing, and not just for the dishes (and many of them are nothing like I've seen before), but the informational content is well. It's a good read all around.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that all the recipes are not only vegan, but gluten-free and soy-free as well.

So what do you have to lose? NOTHING. So please leave a comment below about why you'd like to be in the running for this book, and I will do a drawing on December 12th! Which should mean…you get this in your stocking this year!!

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Cooking and Movie-Thon Weekend

FOOD

Most meals have been from the bulk cooking of last Sunday.  I can’t seem to get enough butternut squash soup lately, and I had that three different days this week.  The rice/beans/green chili dish also went very far, and I enjoyed it plain and in taco shells as well.

butternut squash soup at work!

butternut squash soup at work!

this version of rice and beans involved a LOT of hot sauce

this version of rice and beans involved a LOT of hot sauce

I am admittedly still shying away from most raw foods since all the allergy issues hit, but I’m back on morning smoothies as a way to ease back in.  Can you believe it’s been since September since I had a salad?!?  It’s kind of depressing, actually.

orange, cranberry, coconut water, kale, and spinach smoothie.  Quite tasty (if not too pretty!)

orange, cranberry, coconut water, kale, and spinach smoothie. Quite tasty (if not too pretty!)

Today was another bulk cooking day!  I made a huge batch of quinoa, several new cookbook recipes (details to follow in the coming weeks!), and one of my favorites – tofu pot pie!!

BIG vat of quinoa....

BIG vat of quinoa….

tofu pot pie!  I needed to make it again before I head to WI for Thanksgiving and make it for my parents and my sister and her family :)

tofu pot pie! I needed to make it again before I head to WI for Thanksgiving and make it for my parents and my sister and her family :)

tonight's dinner of socca, stuffing, and tofu pot pie

tonight’s dinner of socca, stuffing, and tofu pot pie

FITNESS

I had a difficult time feeling inspired to work out the past few days.  It was cold and my schedule was really crappy.

However, that was rectified today by one of the best runs I’ve had in awhile.  Not only was the weather perfect (in the 60’s), but I seemed to have everlasting energy.  I ran a different route than normal, and that helped too.  I have a tendency to get bored easily (character flaw most of the time), so it was fun running through a different neighborhood than usual.

LIFE

I had a day off this past week, but not for run things.  I had a procedure on Wednesday and took the day off for it.  No big deal – just checking my esophagus and surrounding areas for allergy issues.  I could only do part of the procedure because I was allergic to one of the things I was supposed to drink, but otherwise it went off fine.  Results are back, and all is looking good and healthy!

Otherwise, it’s been mostly quiet.  With D’s flare-up, we’re keeping things low key.  I went to a movie on Friday (Gone Girl – crazy flick), took R to a movie on Saturday (Guardians of the Galaxy, which was awesome), and then we watched two more movies last night (Underworld and Edge of Tomorrow).  I think my brain felt like it was melting by the time I went to bed, but it was still kind of fun to do as little as possible.

One fun thing this weekend was watching Ginny figure out that on hardwood floors, she should stop and slide to her destination rather than run full tilt into walls, etc.  She was a nut last night, and we were all laughing for hours.

Bumble figured out that lying across a heat vent was the best way to stay warm.  Smart girl….

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Today was some work and bulk cooking.  I’m totally excited because I’ll be reviewing three new cookbooks on the blog in the coming weeks.  I spent a TON of time cooking (and eating) some fantastic stuff.  Again, more to come, but stay tuned because all of them involve giveaways and recipes.

I’m heading out of town on Wednesday!  I have a conference in Chicago the first week of December, so it seemed like a good opportunity to go home and spend my first Thanksgiving in 11 years with my family (parents, sister, and her hubby and kids).  I’m looking forward to seeing them and doing some of the cooking, though I’m not looking forward to the weather!  (see last post about hating the cold).

AC will be meeting up with me in Chicago, so that should be a ton of fun too.  I am sad about missing Thanksgiving with D and our kids, but I know they’ll have a great weekend.

 

Sweat Icicles Suck

FOOD

I love bulk cooking.  I mean, I like normal cooking too – especially on the weekends – but during the week, I’m infinitely grateful for my Sunday bulk days (and Thai food, if I’m going to be honest!).

A was home for the weekend, so I just had to make her fav meal.  Tofurky, mac no cheese, and roasted veggies (did carrots this time).  Holy yum.  D was out running errands, so he didn’t have any until his lunch at work on Monday.  And then he proceeded to tell me how excited he was to have it for leftovers.  Yeah…I Tweeted that….my omni husband loved the vegan leftovers!

a big vat of mac no cheese!

a big vat of mac no cheese!

BEST LUNCH EVER.  Tofurky, mac no cheese, and roasted carrots.

BEST LUNCH EVER. Tofurky, mac no cheese, and roasted carrots.

I also went a little batty on Sunday in the cooking dept.  I don’t have pics for everything (planning to take pics as I’m actually eating stuff), but made butternut squash soup, cinnamon-maple muffins, pinto beans & rice with green chilies, quinoa salad, quinoa & veggie curry, chili-lime tofu, tacos, and a few salad dressings.  And despite all this, I STILL had Thai food one day.  And Italian (eggplant sammich with Daiya mozz!).

rice, beans, green chilies, and cumin. Simple.  Tasty.

rice, beans, green chilies, and cumin. Simple. Tasty.

chili-lime tofu triangles.  For salads, tacos, etc.

chili-lime tofu triangles. For salads, tacos, etc.

a really horrible veggie flat-bread at Uno's this weekend.  Bland, boring, and sad.

a really horrible veggie flat-bread at Uno’s this weekend. Bland, boring, and sad.

vegan eggplant "parm" sammich.  Yummy, but so huge, it fed me for days!

vegan eggplant “parm” sammich. Yummy, but so huge, it fed me for days!

Oatmeal with cinnamon because winter sucks.

Oatmeal with cinnamon because winter sucks.

Thai food goodness!  Tom Kha tofu soup on top, and tofu/eggplant green curry on the bottom.

Thai food goodness! Tom Kha tofu soup on top, and tofu/eggplant green curry on the bottom.

cinnamon-maple-raisin mini-muffins

cinnamon-maple-raisin mini-muffins

FITNESS

Well I totally forgot that running in the cold = wheezing for an hour afterwards.  I tend to remember to warm up in the house before going out – or at least walking for 5 minutes or so….but NOOOOOO…..not me.  I get amnesia every freaking winter.  And let me be frank here.  I don’t have asthma, but for some reason, I wheeze and cough after running in the cold if I don’t warm up indoors first.  Another reason why I’m not meant to be in cold weather.  Ever.

No yoga at home this week.  Mainly because we have this rule about turning on the heat at home – or letting it be set above 68 degrees (don’t get me started…I’m married to an Eskimo), so the thought of stripping down to a tank and shorts to do yoga in my own home is horrifying.  And it’s been cold, like 62 in the house cold, so there’s no way I could do yoga here.  Good thing my yoga of choice is normally hot yoga, so walking into a 100 degree or so room in a tank and shorts is pure bliss right now.

Until I go back outside and all my lovely warmth and sweat turns to icicles.  Sweat icicles suck.  Winter sucks.  And people, I won’t lie….I’m in Virginia.  Where winter is like 50.  But that still sucks.

LIFE

If you didn’t get the hint it’s cold.  Not like Buffalo, NY cold (and I feel for them…I mean, everyone wants to break records, but not because of things like cold and snow!).

But really – it was in the mid-70’s on Wednesday last week, and 30’s by the weekend.  My allergies are a mess, my young one got sick, and I am forced to remember how sporadic Virginia weather can be.  But I’m not complaining.  Nothing against the good residents of Buffalo, NY, but I’m glad it’s not me!

I mentioned that A was home.  It was awesome.  I took her and R to the salon to get haircuts on Saturday.  Then we met up with M and D at the movies.  Big Hero 6 is totally amazing, and everyone should see it!

R hanging on the back deck on Monday.

R hanging on the back deck on Monday.

M and D got haircuts last week!  Such handsome boys.

M and D got haircuts last week! Such handsome boys.

I took A back to university on Sunday and then hung out with AC that night.  Which I totally can’t complain about.

Sadly, after nearly 3 years in remission, D is in the middle of a Crohn’s flare-up.  It sucks on so many levels.  He’s in pain, he’s tired, and there’s nothing I can do.  The meds to make him better temporarily make him feel worse, and in all, he’s a sad little lump that I can’t help.  He really thinks it was working nights, bad diet while working nights, and stress.  I definitely agree.

my sweet sick ones.  The young one with a head cold/allergy hell, and my hunny with a flare-up.

my sweet sick ones. The young one with a head cold/allergy hell, and my hunny with a flare-up.

One last thing.  While I was out with AC last night, R (who’s 11, by the way), sent this picture to all of us (me, D, M, and A).  And proceeded to say that it was meant for me.  In which I promptly grounded her for being a brat child…

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And I will leave you with a few random pics from the past few days!

morning picture!!!

morning picture!!!

Ginny being snuggly

Ginny being snuggly

I have this addiction to solitaire.  Especially while watching TV.  And while I was catching up on last season's Bone's, I got my highest completion time.  Don't judge...

I have this addiction to solitaire. Especially while watching TV. And while I was catching up on last season’s Bone’s, I got my highest completion time.  I was proud. Don’t judge…

I sent this to A - she met some guys at a part who were wearing Man U shirts, and she walked up to them and asked them how it felt to suck.  THAT'S MY GIRL!!!!

I sent this to A – she met some guys at a party who were wearing Man U shirts, and she walked up to them and asked them how it felt to suck. THAT’S MY GIRL!!!!  Go Chelsea!!!

because cats are cool...

because cats are cool…