40 and Fabulous!!

FOOD

Okay, where to begin? First of all, I'm in the Seattle area for a long-weekend bday celebration. It's vegan hippie central (or at least one of them), and the food has been awesome.

Starting with Thursday when we arrived, I had a great grilled veggie plate at the restaurant at the top of the Space Needle. Yesterday was fresh cherry tomatoes as snacks while walking around Pike Place market (where I got a fresh veggie juice), lunch at Pike's Pub (and Indochine veggie burger!), and then dinner in at CT and BT's house. AC and LC organized the pre-dinner app plates, CT made the salad, and I made a soup and an acorn squash alfredo dish.

Today, BT and the kids went and picked me up a vegan chocolate mousse birthday cake! It was SO yummy (and rich), and incredibly thoughtful. Just blown away by everyone.

Today was lunch at the Red Hook Brewery, and for me was a salad and a hummus plate. We hit up the Chateau St. Michelle winery afterwards, and that was wonderful.

FITNESS

Best way to kick off turning 40? Run a 5K with your friends! We ran a very small local race that was meant to raise awareness of some salmon species and raise money to restore Lake Sammamish. It was a small race – maybe 100 people – but just wonderful. When we checked in, the race organizer was totally stoked that 4 of use are from VA, and there were non-locals running. And when I crossed the finish line, they all sang happy birthday to me! It was cute, because they weren't sure of my name, so it was “happy birthday, number 62…..”. Loved it.

LC brought fun little purple fluffs to wear on my head, and so we had lots of comments, extra cheers, and in general, had a really awesome time.

And I'm officially the oldest of the group, but crossed first. Ego boost 🙂

LIFE

Life has been awesome. Flight out of VA early Thursday morning, and have had a whirlwind weekend since. Thursday we went to the Chihuly museum (for loyal readers, you know he's a favorite of mine!), then had dinner on top of the Space Needle. Then sat up until 130am enjoying some wine with CT and BT while the rest of the girls slept.

A neat thing about the Space Needle restaurant – it rotates. So you spin (slowly) around to get a full view of the city and surrounding areas. People put pieces of paper or notes on the glass, and leave and receive messages. CT made a card (in advance – talk about planning!), for my bday, and put it on the glass to spin around, asking people to leave me bday messages. I almost cried – the comments complete strangers left for me were so wonderful and touching.

Friday was Pike's Place (SO awesome, picked up lots of fun things, including the veggies used to make dinner), and we went on the Underground Tour! D and I did the undergound tour 14 years ago when we moved away from Seattle, and I was so excited to go with the girls. It was a ton of fun, and everyone really had a good time.

We also got to meet up with HF's cousin, who lives here. He hiked around Pike's with us and had lunch too.

Last night was a run to Whole Foods and then all of us hanging out in the kitchen and cooking. And that happens to be one of my very favorite things to do, so yay!

Today was the 5K first thing. Then back to CT's house to start getting cleaned up. As I came up the stairs after my shower, I saw some beautiful flowers on the table – sent by my wonderful husband from back in VA! I got to FaceTime with the kids (including A from her dorm room), and it was fantastic. Then after getting ready, BT and the kids got home, and they had decorated and gotten me cake!

After we were all ready, it was lunch at the Red Hook brewery, and then a wine tour at the Chateau St. Michelle winery. Now we're chilling at home (coffee, tea, rest) and then tonight we're off to a Wine into Water benefit! A fabulous 40 birthday, indeed.

 

 

A Heart-Y Meal

FOOD

Okay, so time to fess up. I totally didn't come up with that title on my own. I posted a pic online of the finished meal, and someone on Twitter busted that one out.

But that said, it was a yummy dinner. D and I made the Couple's Tofu Pot Pie we made up back in August. I made the filling, and he baked it while I was out. To make a long story short, he cut hearts into the pie crust before baking it. It was too adorable, so of course I had to take a picture!

Other than that, it's been lots of salads (M ate nearly 2 heads of Romaine lettuce in one night…kid loves his salads), smoothies, and some take out.

FITNESS

Yoga at home, thanks to the ever trusty YogaGlo. I have a race on Saturday, and am totally going to pay for it with lack of training.

LIFE

Last night M was inducted into the International Thespian Society. It was a very nice (and short) ceremony, and we hung out with the parents and other actors, then went out to dinner to celebrate.

I haven't slept well the past several nights. Part of it is D's fall allergies causing some snoring (I'm a light sleeper, so even a little noise wakes me), but it's mostly been the destructo-kittens. Last night they ruined our bedroom lamp, Bumble and Tonks got too close to each other, so an iPad went crashing, plus they love to play at the worst possible hours. They have this toy that's a stick with a mouse dangling on the end – the intent is to hold the stick and they jump and play with the mouse. Thing is, they will run around with the mouse in their mouth and drag the stick up and down the stairs. All. Night. Long. The toy is currently in my sweater drawer where it will likely stay most of the time!

My last meeting ended at 430pm today, and I am officially on vacation! Yes, I'm rubbing it in. Fall vacation. LC sent me a text thanking me for having an October bday to justify a much-needed trip. I told her I'd pass along her thanks to my parents since it was their doing (hey Dad…know you're reading…LC says thank you). But, I'm packed, checked into my flight, and ready to go!!!

 

 

It’s The Final Countdown!

FOOD

It's been a relatively simple few days on the food front. Smoothies of course, including one called Carrot Cake today from http://www.simplegreensmoothies.com (totally check it out for some fun ideas). It didn't really taste like carrot cake to me (though to be fair, carrot cake is my favorite, so anything less than the actual cake may be a bit of a let down), but it was really tasty none the less.

D and I went out to dinner Saturday night, and while the two of us could have fun in a paper bag, I was very disappointed in my food. I had the chickpea/tofu burger in a lettuce wrap, and other than the carmelized onions, it had no flavor. The brussel sprouts weren't cooked enough, and also totally bland. D liked his food though, so that has to count for something.

Yesterday I stopped for lunch at a place called Food for Thought. Another farm-to-table restaurant with a southern/comfort/but healthy food fusion. I had the Ancient Grain Salad – quinoa and oranges on mixed greens. Not bad. Not worth $12.50, but not bad.

Dinner was with AC at Pasha's. Red lentil soup and wine and coffee!

FITNESS

I hit up a hot yoga class today, and it was totally awesome. It was a challenging class, but normal paced (vs. vinyasa, which is what I have been doing), so the balance was good.

AC and I are going to try and hit a night or two per week for a class. I think it'll be a good way to balance my at-home practice to be sure I'm not picking up bad form habits!

LIFE

Friday night was very low key. We went to bed pretty early, and get this…I slept for ELEVEN hours! Yes….eleven hours. And it felt so wonderful. I know “experts” say you can't catch-up on sleep, but I think that's a bunch of bogus. No way I would have slept 11 hours otherwise.

Saturday was errand running and then an evening out with D. We went to the mall downtown, walked around, looked at stuff, then went out to dinner. While our service was awful and my food wasn't anything I'd ever order again, it was still nice to just hang out. We were home by 9, stayed up a couple more hours, and still was in bed by a reasonable hour. I'm getting so old 🙂 I remember when I wouldn't dream of going out before 10pm!

Sunday I did a day trip to Williamsburg to hit up the outlet malls and then walk around in the cute cobblestone downtown area. I got a great haul (and deals) on fall clothes, and stumbled upon a street arts festival. I had some spiced cider, picked up a small gift for a friend, and then headed back to town to meet up with AC for dinner.

Okay, THREE MORE DAYS!!!! The count down has begun to birthday girls trip! Seattle, here we come!!! We have an amazing agenda thanks to CT's epic planning skills, but also enough down time to chill, cook, and hang out. I can't wait.

So there ya have it. I clearly made up this weekend for being sick in bed last weekend. Now I just need to get through two more work days (today was a good day), and then I'm off until middle of next week! Hope you all had a great weekend too!

 

FREE! Giveaway! Bribery….Okay, and Yoga Too

 FOOD

Okay, it’s finally here.  GIVEAWAY TIME!!!!

Yes ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for free stuff!  And what, pray tell, am I so generously giving away?!?!  Well it’s a cookbook, sillies.  You’re pretty much here for the food, yeah?  Thought so.

So read on, and enter to win a copy of The China Study Cookbook!

if you see all the sticky notes, I made all those!
if you see all the sticky notes, I made all those!

I’m pretty sure the veggie community has been waiting since 2006 for this book.  The reason?  It’s based of the book of similar name – T. Colin Campbell’s iconic work in The China Study.  If you haven’t read it – please do.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a veg head like me or not – I promise.  It’s truly just the findings of the longest and most comprehensive study ever done on the effects of diet and disease in a controlled environment.  It’s just the facts, ma’am, with no propaganda or anything of the sort.

But I digress.  When you read books like The China Study or Mad Cowboy or Skinny Bitch (which I hate the title of, by the way – but has great content), or for some other reason want to find a way to bring whole food/plant based meals into your life, it can be a little daunting.  If, like me, you were raised with a veggie being a simple side dish (French cut green beans and creamed corn were my favorite), transitioning to a meal based off of veggies, fruits, and whole grains is a bit daunting.  If you check out veggie books and websites, they’re often overwhelming – possibly with ingredients you don’t recognize or spices you don’t normally have on hand.

If this is you, then I would highly recommend The China Study Cookbook (and really, why not try to win one free right now?!).  It’s written by T. Colin Campbell’s daughter and how she’s incorporated her father’s work into easy meals for her family.  If you want simple – this works.  If you like to experiment and play in the kitchen like I do – these provide nice base recipes to do that.  For my personal dietary needs, I found it easy to adapt to gluten-free and nut-free meals or sides as well.  Recipes should serve as guidelines – and these do very nicely.

Some highlights of what I made:

Breakfast Home-Fry Hash with Tofu Scramble (yum)!  Ceviche beans – simple and refreshing.  Seasoned mushroom soup (my VERY favorite one, though I used my immersion blender to make it a creamed soup, which was not part of the recipe), Favorite Chili with Pasta (a quick work-night meal – ripe for adding to if feeling adventurous), and Curry Coconut Rice.

Favorite Chili with Pasta served on some GF veggie rotini and kicking cornbread
Favorite Chili with Pasta served on some GF veggie rotini and kicking cornbread
Coconut Curry Rice
Coconut Curry Rice

I personally appreciate the pretty large breakfast section.  Again, when your idea of breakfast growing up is scrambled eggs (with ketchup, thank you), toast, waffles, pancakes, French toast, hash browns, and blueberry muffins (all at the same time), going vegan can pose some challenges initially (especially if you don’t love to cook).  A girl gets tired of oatmeal REAL quick, if you know what I’m sayin.

So – leave a comment below (it’s really that simple) and let me know you’d like a copy!  If you’d like to elaborate why, that’s cool too – but I’m not picky.  Leave a note, and you will be entered!  I will be holding a drawing on 10/19 (my birthday…because if I can get a gift, so can you!).

FITNESS

Okay, on to my regularly scheduled programming.  Yoga.  That’s it right now – after being sick for several days, I just really wanted some balance.  I really want to lace up, but as soon as I started feeling better, it started raining.  Like Noah’s Ark raining….so yoga it is.

Ashtanga is still the reigning favorite, and the 45 minute YogaGlo class yesterday gave me a total run for my money.  Though at $18 a month, I didn’t have to run very far (I’m feeling very punny tonight, sorry).

If you still haven’t checked out YogaGlo (despite my urging), then you’re just goofy.  You get 2 weeks free, and at $18 a month, hundreds and hundreds of classes available, it solves many issues (at least those I personally experience).  1 – I have little free time and need to work out at home.  2 – I HATE workout DVD’s because I have some inability to do the same thing twice without getting ridiculously bored, despite my best intentions (just knowing what they’re going to say next pisses me off – funny how that doesn’t happen when I watch Law & Order reruns all the time), and 3 – it’s cheap as all get out compared to a yoga studio membership or regular drop-in class costs.

I’m not saying to skip a studio – I love a group class and guided instruction and form correction is really important – but that said, it’s an amazing investment –  coupled with the ability to be exposed to 6-7 different yoga styles – even as a beginner – plus meditation, it’s worth at least the free 2 weeks right?

Geez, you thought they were paying me for promotions, huh?  Sadly, they probably don’t know I exist.  But I don’t care.  I know they do, and that’s all that matters!

LIFE

Can’t.  Even.  Articulate.

Busy, stressful, fun, stressful, and nuts.  I’m pretty sure those are synonyms (or should be), so they require no elaboration.  Early days and late nights.  And it’s not like I’m hitting bar time or anything (alas, I miss those days), but it is what it is.  Truth be told, I wouldn’t change anything.  Except maybe winning the lottery and being independently wealthy so my early days and late nights could include bar time….

My eldest finally broke down and is changing dorms.  Her roommate turned out to be a nightmare, and she’s on the wrong side of campus.  We’ll know for sure tomorrow, but I have a feeling I’ll be making a trek this weekend to move her across town.

We’re in a bit of Wild Kingdom drama.  1 old dog, 1 old cat, 2 new kittens.  1 kitten (Ginny) gets sick, has the Feline Leukemia Virus, and while feeling better, must be isolated from other cats for a month.  That alone is an entire blog post.  Kitten #2 (Tonks) is positive for the virus, but asymptomatic.  Which is good for everyone.  Bumble (old cat) gets tested on Saturday.  Extra bonus points for you if you realized R named the new kittens after Harry Potter characters.  Fear not if you didn’t know that, just read the books.

So that’s it.  Novella complete.  Leave a comment, win a book, and eat healthy!

As a side note, the publisher of The China Study Cookbook provided me a free copy to review and a copy to give away.  That said, the comments are my own, and by no means influenced by this.  You should still enter, by the way.  Don’t just read and be a lurker….that’s creepy.

Rawsome Recovery

Okay, so this will be the last post that doesn’t formal my normal Food/Fitness/Life format.

When I’m feeling under the weather, it usually doesn’t last very long.  A day, day and a half, and that’s pretty much it.  And when I’m sick, I’m totally functional – just whiny.

Yeah, that was until this past week.  Out of no where, I got totally flattened.   And not for a few hours or a day, but three days.  And while I’m one of those people who “never runs a fever” (okay, rare, not never), I was in denial – even as I lay bundled in towels and a bathrobe under the covers and shivering when it was over 80 degrees.  Deliriously babbling until D took my temp and made me take some Tylenol.

While I had no appetite while sick (felt like someone took a grater to my throat), I did start to crave raw foods as soon as I felt like eating anything.  So by Sunday when I was feeling well enough to get out of bed (though needed a nap after an hour of kitchen fun), I got busy busting out some raw goodness.  Two days later, I mostly feel like myself, and still just want juice, smoothies, salads, and lots and lots of kale.

Here’s been my past couple days!

fired up the dehydrator and made a batch of raw flatbread (sunflower seed, flax, onion, celery, and spices) for some yummy sammiches
fired up the dehydrator and made a batch of raw flatbread (sunflower seed, flax, onion, celery, and spices) for some yummy sammiches
a raw sammich spread made from seeds, spices, and lemon juice.  Perfect as a hearty cracker or veggie dip too.
a raw sammich spread made from seeds, spices, and lemon juice. Perfect as a hearty cracker or veggie dip too.
kale chips heading into the dehydrator!  Just olive oil and sea salt make these my favorite snack.
kale chips heading into the dehydrator! Just olive oil and sea salt make these my favorite snack.
a power kale BAS!  Kale, avocado, tomato, dried cherries, and spiralized beets in a lemon/tahini dressing.  Awesome thing about kale is it's so hearty, I made this Sunday night, and ate it for lunch Monday and Tuesday, and the greens hold up their crunch without getting mushy.
a power kale BAS! Kale, avocado, tomato, dried cherries, and spiralized beets in a lemon/tahini dressing. Awesome thing about kale is it’s so hearty, I made this Sunday night, and ate it for lunch Monday and Tuesday, and the greens hold up their crunch without getting mushy.
I love my spiralizer.  I don't use it enough, but it's cool.
I love my spiralizer. I don’t use it enough, but it’s cool.
raw soup!  Kale, cuc, lemon base with chopped veggies.
raw soup! Kale, cuc, lemon base with chopped veggies.
kale (sensing a theme here?), pineapple, ginger smoothie with a green tea base.
kale (sensing a theme here?), pineapple, ginger smoothie with a green tea base.
power kale BAS at work!
power kale BAS at work!
leftover rawsome soup at work also.
leftover rawsome soup at work also.

So I’m sure that’s enough food pics to get the point across.

R had a swim meet on Saturday – I couldn’t go, but A was home from college, and she went to cheer on her little sister (who did an awesome job!).

big sis A cheering on little sis R!
big sis A cheering on little sis R!
today's #morningpicture.  Me and the little one
today’s #morningpicture. Me and the little one
she wrote I Love You in the freezer door at Whole Foods.  Love this kid!  And her thrift store hat.
she wrote I Love You in the freezer door at Whole Foods. Love this kid! And her thrift store hat.

So yay for feeling better, being powered by good foods, and the fact that I had 2 lbs. of kale in the house….

the next post will have a cookbook give away – so stay tuned!!!  And enter, because free is cool and you can’t have enough cookbooks…

Growing With Something (a product review #VegaOneStart)

FOOD REVIEW

Okay, so it's seriously groovy to “grow up” with a product and see how much we've both matured over the years! I became a vegan nearly 7 years ago (day after Thanksgiving, 2006), and one of the first products I used was Vega whole foods powder.

I read a lot, and it was a product that was often mentioned in Vegetarian Times magazine, but not something I could find on the shelves. So, after being impressed by what a complete nutritional package it was, I bit the bullet, and ordered a bin online. Admittedly, it was NOT cheap, but, at the time, I was worried about things like protein and fiber (and who isn't, right – I mean especially when we've all been raised to think you can only get enough protein from animal products, and no one eating a Standard American Diet gets enough fiber!), and I thought this would be a sure way to keep my diet balanced.

Well fast forward, and Vega has really grown! They revamped their formula to be easier to blend, came out with new and fun flavors, launched several different lines including a sports line, raw bars, are available on the shelves of Whole Foods, and the founder Brendan Brazier (an amazing world champ triathlete) has even published a few books (that I am the proud owner of). So when Vega asked me to do a review of their new starter pack, I was very happy to!

What's fun about the starter pack is there is little commitment involved. The big tubs are still quite pricy (but worth it when you can get 30+ smoothies out of it), and these little packs means you can try them, decide if they're worth it to you, and also give you a little variety in flavors.

kit arrived in the mail!  The only thing I didn't like was the Styrofoam peanuts.  I would like to see vegan companies also embrace environmentalism, and use a biodegradable alternative to Styrofoam.
kit arrived in the mail! The only thing I didn't like was the Styrofoam peanuts. I would like to see vegan companies also embrace environmentalism, and use a biodegradable alternative to Styrofoam.
two chocolate, two chai vanilla, and one berry pack, plus a coupon and little recipe booklet
two chocolate, two chai vanilla, and one berry pack, plus a coupon and little recipe booklet

I drink smoothies most days, and when I know it's going to be my only meal for awhile, I ALWAYS use Vega (which I've certainly blogged about before). What's fun, is that you aren't limited to just making smoothies with them. The vanilla chai is a particularly yummy stirred in to a bowl of oatmeal for some added punch and flavor, for example. I've also tossed some into homemade granola bars. And while I'm not a big chocolate eater, the combo of the chocolate pack, coconut milk, and frozen banana is one of my all-time favorites.

Vega also has a very active online community where people share their favorite ways to use it. If you're starting out in the smoothie world, exploring more plant-based meals, or just want to up your nutrition, it's a good place to connect. check out My Vega and Thrive Forward for more info.

I want to leave this review with a few fun facts about one pack (or scoop) of Vega powder, just in case you weren't sure how awesome it is for you…

• 50% daily intake of vitamins and minerals
• 15g protein
• 6 g fiber
• 1.5g Omega-3
• 3 servings of greens
• Antioxidants
• Probiotics

And don't let all that healthiness scare you away. If it wasn't good, believe me, I wouldn't eat/drink it. And if you're looking for a way to build some more goodness into your diet, vegan or not, this is a great way to start. So my advice? Pick up a starter pack, give it a go, and then let me know what you think!

I was given this product free by the company, though the views expressed here are not influenced in any way by that fact. I've been a Vega fan for years, and was happy to check out a new offering in their product line.