Too Much Time Off Leads to Excess Cooking & Working Out

FOOD

The past week and a half have been pretty yummy, I must say. I get so excited when I get a new cookbook, that I have a tendency to cook a ton from it. I’ve also been off work, so that means even more food to cook and recipes to create! I made some homemade hemp milk, spicy tofu and Brussel sprout soup, Christmas Pizzas, my typical daily salads, and cream of broccoli soup (it’s been COLD). Of course I also went out for Thai one day because…it’s what I do. The kids were all at something (2 at the movies and 1 at a party), so I had a lovely solo dinner at my fav Thai restaurant with my trashy book and some wine. Perfect!

I also decided to play with riced cauliflower. I know it’s quite popular and I’ve been meaning to, but I have a tendency to make other things with cauliflower when I buy it. Like Indian food! (Which is on deck for tomorrow!). But – I was shopping and came across frozen pre-riced cauliflower. I mean really – if they’re going to make it THAT easy for me, who am I to pass it up?

So this evening, in addition to the broccoli soup (which is really just broccoli, celery, garlic, onion powder, vegetable broth, and coconut milk), I decided I wanted a creamy and cheezy cauliflower rice dish. And oh man, it rocked. My eldest was dying over it. Comfort food at it’s best – but sneaky in it being a much healthier version.

Crissie’s Creamy Cauliflower Rice

Ingredients

  • 8 cups riced cauliflower. If you rice your own, be sure it’s the post-ricing measurements.
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup vegan cream cheese (I used Tofutti because it’s what I had, but I’ve had Daiya’s often too, and like it)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes

Directions

  • Put the rice, coconut milk, cream cheese, and garlic salt into a large sauté pan (if you don’t have one big enough, a wok or even stock pot will work)
  • Cook on medium heat until it’s all heated through, cauliflower has reached a firm tenderness (I realize that sounds weird. Look – you don’t want it mushy and you don’t want it crunchy. So whatever you want to call that in between state), and some of the liquid evaporates, leaving a creamy consistency. About 15 minutes.
  • Stir in the nutritional yeast
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Seriously – YUM.

I realize this picture sucks – the steam was hitting my camera and I was clearly too close. But it’s the only one I had before it got demolished.

FITNESS

Runs, yoga, and lifting in the home gym. Thank GOODNESS for the big space heater in the garage, because it’s been bloody freezing out. I turn it on before going out for my run so it’s fairly warm when I get back. By the time I grab some water, go to the bathroom, and head in there, it’s comfortable.

This is also my fav time of year to do hot yoga. I mean – all the time is great – but there’s something amazing about the hot and humid room when it’s cold out.

And – I’ve decided that 2018 will be a run streak with a goal of 1000 miles. Wasn’t quite feeling the 2018 mi in 2018 challenge just yet, but I plan to beat 1000 easily. That’s less than 3 mi per day, and since I’m doing 1/2 marathon training the first half of the year and marathon training the second, I’m pretty confident that 3 mi per day average will be easy.

And just for fun, I picked up the massive calendar from ilovetorun.org! If you’re feeling particularly motivated (or crazy), pick one up too!

LIFE

Well, it’s been fairly quiet. I’ve been off since Christmas, and other than family time and solo time, I’ve also had some friend time (of course – love going out and about!). I will admit though, I’m going bonkers. I have no work to catch up on since pretty much everyone is off. The house is clean (a girl can only shampoo carpets so many times). I work out every day. I read. Watch some TV. And I’m going out of my mind with boredom. A couple days of chill are fine. But a whole week of it, and I feel like my brain is melting from misuse.

Oh well, I should enjoy it. Not only is it back to work on the 2nd (though I’m really stoked about a few interesting things going on for me), but since I tend to be a regular glutton for punishment, I am going back to school starting Jan 8th. Found a great doctorate program in strategy and innovation – so why the hell not, right? I realize I have an addiction problem to school. Those who know me well won’t be surprised at all. But I swear, this is the last time. Okay maybe not – I still have yoga teacher training planned someday. Anyway – the run streak is also so I make time for myself – something I tend to suck at when I have so much on my plate.

The week leading up to the holidays was full of work-related parties and those are always a good time. It’s nice to catch up with people outside of the office now and then.

Christmas itself was quiet. Most of my family is in Wisconsin, so it was really just me and the kids. M had to work on Christmas day, so we actually did the Christmas gift stuff around 2! Then it was homemade pizzas. We’re not the most traditional family – never really have been.

Probably the most exciting news is that my eldest made her first big girl purchase – a car! She’s excited and I am too.

As usual, leaving you with my life in pictures 🙂

Have a great rest of the year! We’ll chat soon 😉

Main Street Vegan Academy – Cookbook Review and Giveaway!

<<<<UPDATE>>>>. The giveaway has ended – huge congrats to Karen for winning!!

Yes – you read that right.  Free stuff.  Right at Christmas no less!  So you know what, read on, enter, and get yourself something you know you want anyway 😉

Book Layout

I’m the owner of dozens of vegan cookbooks (easily), and have reviewed quite a few in the past few years as well.  I like to start by checking out the layout.  Some go right to business – the recipes and only the recipes.  Some start with tips on how to veganize your kitchen – great for newbies or people looking to increase plant-powered meals in their lives.  Some still go into the explanations of why a vegan diet is great – health, environment, animal ethics, etc.  Everyone starts at a different point – or have different reasons for wanting a book of all plant based yumminess.  You may be a long time vegan looking for something fresh and new.  Or an athlete looking to get leaner and stronger.  In a new relationship with a non meat-eater.  Or an animal activist who just can’t be a part of animal husbandry and cruelty.  Or an omnivore who just knows they want to increase their intake of wholesome plant-based eats.

Whatever your reason, a glance at the book layout can help you decide if this is the book for you.

Since this book is coming from Victoria Moran – the founder of Main Street Vegan Academy, and JL Fields – my fav down to earth vegan recipe creator – you know it’s full of no-nonsense advice, and they did so in their “Coaching Corner” comments sprinkled throughout the book.  These consist of additional research materials or advice from academy grads.

The first two chapters are informational, and go into things like debunking typical vegan myths, and how it’s okay to be on whatever journey you are to being more plant-based.  For many of us who choose to eat this way (or explore what it may mean), it’s common to be confronted by our meat eating family and friends with questions like “where did you get your protein”, and “how can you be healthy”, and “plants have feelings too”.  And just as frustratingly, there’s nothing worse than the “vegan police” who like to tell you that you aren’t “vegan enough”.  These chapters are loaded with information in a non-confrontational way (which is extremely important to me in a mixed-dietary and non-judgemental household), and are a great read.  For those that don’t care and/or are well educated, it’s easy enough to skip past it.  I wouldn’t though.  As a vegan for 14 years, I still found great resources and well articulated perspectives.

Chapters 3-8 are tons of yummy recipes.  Everything from breakfasts to salads, soups, main dishes, one-pot dishes (my FAV in a busy family), and desserts.

The final chapter is called Vegan Outside the Kitchen, and is personally my favorite.  It focuses on things like dining out and how to talk to kitchen staff without being a condescending asshat, to taking veganism off your plate and into your fashion and beauty habits.  This is the Gandhi chapter of “be the change you wish to see in the world”.

Recipes

So – as you can see from this picture – the sticky notes represent the dishes I want to make.  Some I choose because I have everything I need to make it.  Some because they’re flavor profiles I know I love, and some because they offer new ideas, techniques, and flavors.

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I made Cheesy Broccoli Rice (because – who doesn’t love that?!?!) and Nutmeg Chocolate Chip Bars (always on the lookout for a dessert for school lunches for my youngest).  The rice was SO easy – all in the rice cooker (and those who know me know I’m an appliance cooking junkie – and JL is the queen of appliance recipes – serious – check out her other books Vegan Pressure Cooking and The Vegan Air Fryer – I have both and you won’t be disappointed).

I also made Veggie Mac, because it provided exactly what I was looking for – a new way to make a classic comfort food. And that, my friends, is the recipe I want to share with you.  Nothing like a cheezy, noodley, pot of goodness with all kinds of sneaky veggies in it.

Veggie Mac – by Brill LoSacco, VLCE from New York

Ingredients

  • 2 cups peeled and diced potatoes – Russet or Yukon Gold
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup cashews (or 2/3 cup soaked raw sunflower seeds for a nut free option – which I did)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • juice of 1 lemon (or 2 tbsp lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 lb elbow macaroni (regular vegan or gluten-free, depending on your dietary needs)

Directions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat for the pasta
  • In a small pan, combine potatoes, onion, carrots, and water.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover, and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
  • Once the large pot of water comes to a roiling boil, throw in the tablespoon of walt and the pasta.  Cook according to package directions until al dente.  Drain.
  • Combine cashews or soaked and drained sunflower seeds, garlic, tahini, mustard, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, salt, and garlic powder into a high-speed blender or food processor.  When veggie mixture is finished cooking, add it (water included) to the blender.  Blend until completely smooth.
  • Toss the sauce with the pasta back in the large pot.
IMG_6099
making the sauce
IMG_6100
final dish!  Just look at that creamy lusciousness!

My (and my kids) thoughts:

I love a good creamy pasta dish – which is the main reason I picked this one.  I loved it sprinkled with tons of pepper.  I think I’d love it with peas added next time (though I’m a pea junkie and try to find ways to add them to pretty much everything!).  I can see adding crumbled tempeh for a more chili-mac type dish for a full meal, or as a side dish to some yummy BBQ tofu.

We are a nut-free home due to allergies, so I was happy this recipe came with a nut-free option.

My youngest – R – the pickiest eater of the bunch (mainly because she has life threatening peanut and tree-nut allergies, so new food spooks her), thought is was “ok”.

M loved it – even took a break from his video games to try it – he was only taste testing – and then proceeded to keep the bowl, telling me he loved it.  Big praise from the biggest meat eater in the house.

IMG_6102
with his “um, this is mine” face

And then there was A – my eldest and most likely to eat like me – her exact words for this (and the other dishes) was “dude, this is lit”.  High praise indeed.

And – awesome leftovers for the week’s lunches!  Not to mention all the other sticky notes to make meals for the week (Friday is already scheduled the One Pot Rice and Beans dish!).

Last Notes

Many of the recipes in this book call for nuts in some fashion.  Cashews for creamy dishes and peanut butter for some, just off the top of my head.  Most don’t have a nut-free option for the recipes.  For someone like me, that can be pretty limiting.  With a child with a life threatening allergy and a no tolerance nut rule in the house, if they can’t easily be converted and I see that many recipes with nuts, I may not splurge on it.  I’ve been cooking since I was 8, so it’s pretty easy to know how to modify a recipe, but for others, it may not be so.

That said – there’s a wide variety of recipes in this book, and I know it’ll be a mainstay in my home for many years.

Giveaway

Now it’s the part you’re waiting for, right?  HOW DO I GET ONE??  Well, you can do a few things.  You can buy it here.  You can beg someone who loves you to buy it for you.  Or – you can win one from me!

You may be wondering how!  Super simple.  Comment below that you’d like a copy.  Honestly, that simple.  I’ll use a random number generator to pick a winner on the day after Christmas.  That way – if you didn’t get what you wanted, you still can get something totally groovy JUST FOR YOU.  Yep.  That’s how much I love you.

So – leave a comment below letting me know you’d really like a copy of this book, and on 12/26/17 I’ll draw a winner.  You’ll promptly get a book send directly from the publisher.

Peace friends!  And happy eating!

~Crissie

Winter is Here (ish)

FOOD

Well it’s definitely been cold and icky (for southeastern VA, anyway….don’t judge. I hate cold!). Which means warming foods as much as possible.

Breakfasts have pretty consistently been oatmeal and smoothies. I’m on a vanilla/orange kick lately. And obviously I love that UVA Tervis…

Lunches are mainly a BAS (Big Ass Salad for newer readers) and fruit. I was telling a friend this week that I pretty much need to have at least one salad per day or I just don’t feel right.

Dinners vary. Soups, stir fries, curries, and rice & beans are main stays at my house. Also made mushroom stroganoff last night, as it’s one of R’s fav’s. It still blows her mind that the creaminess comes from tofu. All in all, a week of most excellent eats (after all, life is too short to eat bad and boring food).

FITNESS

After signing up for the half later in 2018, I’ve gotten even more on a run kick. I’m seriously considering doing a run streak soon. For now, it’s been 5x per week runs, hot yoga when I can get to the studio, and taking FULL advantage of my home gym!

Speaking of – I’ve had a membership to Beach Body on Demand for almost a year – with every intention to use it. What I found is that most of the programs are a combination of cardio and weights/HIIT workouts. Which is great for most people, but I really prefer (and frankly need) to run for my cardio. Trust me – if I don’t run regularly, I’m pretty sure I’m impossible to be around. And for the couple programs that are strictly strength training based (which is what I want), I didn’t have the equipment, and there was no way I was hauling my laptop to the gym.

BUT. Enter my new home gym. I suddenly have everything. So, I dusted off the membership and started up the Body Beast program. It’s 30-60 minutes every day, and then I go for a run. So it’s been kinda perfect. Though my butt is KILLING me today. All the squats, lunges, and deadlifts yesterday has my tush hurting just a bit. Oh well, it’s the good hurt, so I can’t complain. So far I’ve done chest, tri’s, back, bi’s, and legs. Pretty much all of me is sore, which is actually pretty awesome. I will reiterate what I said last time. Pull-ups/chin-ups SUCK. My youngest, however, loves them.

Tomorrow though – hot yoga. It’s cold as hell and I need the balance.

LIFE

No complaints. It’s been a busy week, and I like that. Monday was R’s eye dr appointment and then bowling. Tuesday was cribbage club. Wednesday was a vendor party I stopped at briefly and then down to Birch Bar to meet up with a girlfriend I hadn’t seen in 3 years! It was awesome to catch up over some yummy local sour ales. Started with the Hippolyta, which was good. But Tapestry was the BOMB.

Thursday I met up with a friend of mine for wine. And speaking of wine…..I got a case of 20 bottles from the Wall Street Journal wine club – for about $80. Crazy, but awesome!

Friday night was chill. I went to see Star Wars by myself (gave my kids my Saturday night tix to go with their friends), worked out, took R to a follow-up eye dr appointment, made dinner, and went to bed pretty early.

Today was brunch, meal planning, shopping, working out, reading, cleaning, and chilling out. 2 kids are at the movies and 1 at a holiday party. WOO HOO – solo mom time! Went out for my fav Thai and picked up the last of the stocking stuffers for Christmas.

Of course sprinkled in this is that whole work thing – which is also going very well. No complaints there either.

So yeah – pretty awesome week and weekend! Stay tuned for a giveaway coming up in the next couple days.

Oh yeah – and the fluffs are as cool as ever. Along with my morning coffee ritual (read – leave me alone while I have a cup of coffee after waking up….I’m incapable of conversation).

It’s Party Season!

FOOD

Mostly simple meals, even when traveling the few days I had to this month. Salads, soups, smoothies, curries, and I’ve totally gotten on the ONO (overnight oats) bandwagon. Seriously – 1/2 cup of oats, 1/2 cup nondairy milk (I like the So Delicious Original Coconut Milk), and a healthy amount of Penzy’s Apple Pie spice.

Stir Fried Mushrooms, BBQ Tofu, and Mashers

FITNESS

I finally built the Power Tower in the garage, so there’s a full fledged mini gym, and I’ve definitely taken advantage of it. FYI – pull ups suck.

Also hot yoga and runs as well, plus a lovely trail run.

And on that note, I signed up for a half marathon for later in the year. I got out of the race habit when I started grad school, and I’ve really missed it. It’ll be nice to have a race to train for again.

Also, downloaded a weather app called WTForcast. Love it. This was this evening’s weather as I prepped for a night run….

LIFE

Busy busy busy. But that’s nothing new, and I honestly wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I was just home all day all the time. Yuck. I’d be bored senseless and probably become pretty damned boring myself!

Work has been really good. I’m liking my new role a lot – my focus is on building a new program and core competency in innovation, and I love having so much freedom to develop that framework myself. Fun stuff.

I had to do some traveling to attend a staff Christmas party out of town, but it was a nice trip. The party itself was nice, if not small. I also got to see one of my girlfriends who lives up there, so that’s always a bonus!

Last Monday was the UVA Darden School of Business Alumni holiday party for local alums. Three of us from my class went (the 4th was vacationing in Hawaii – the brat), as well as a couple people from work who went to Darden as well. It was a nice evening, and a great chance to network with local alumni.

R had her first high school orchestra concert this week! She plays bass and they all honestly put on an amazing performance.

On Friday R and I went to a pre screening of Jumanji. It was hilarious and we had a blast.

R and I hit up the salon yesterday. She got her hair cut and I got a pedi (sparkly red for the holidays!).

Then it was off to an ugly sweater party at one of my bowling team mates house. That was a ton of fun. My sweater was interactive. Basically a drinking game. The front is a target and people are given Velcro balls to throw at it. Funny enough, one of the other party goers had a similar sweater! All in all, fun stuff.

Otherwise, it’s been normal life stuff. Kids, fluffs, and friends!

Have a great week!!