Posts Tagged ‘Rambling’
Chickpea Cutlets

There is nothing sexier than when a man knows his way around the kitchen. Historically, young girls were encouraged to learn how to cook assuming that one day they would find themselves in the position of a housewife. We were encouraged with old adages such as “the way to his heart is through his stomach”. The signals were clear: cooking is a womanly art and one we must master if we ever want to find true domestic bliss.
Those girls had it easy.
Nowadays, young women have to be everything. We’re expected to be good at our jobs and follow our killer instincts at work. We’re expected to know how to do all of the traditional “girl stuff”. We’re also expected to be impossibly thin and are constantly bombarded with images of women who are unrealistically beautiful. You can’t stand in line at the grocery store without being confronted by seven different images of women whose job it is to be beautiful and who are  buffed, waxed, polished, and airbrushed within an inch of their lives, all to bring you the latest edition of Cosmo or Marie Claire.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love cooking. I find something incredibly soothing about starting with the most basic building blocks of a meal(vegetables, grains, and spices) and crafting them into something bigger, better, and more delicious than the sum of their parts. I take comfort in knowing that if I follow the correct steps, I’m going to end up with something wonderful. I love setting the table and watching people dig in to meals I have prepared. I live for the look on their faces as they savor something really delicious.
On the other hand, life can get pretty tough.  Day in and day out, I go to work, I deal with people, I manage things, I dot my i’s and cross my t’s. Then I go to the gym where I sweat needlessly (which I hate) so that I can make up for the time that I spent sitting at my desk, because humans weren’t designed to sit at desks anyway. At the end of a long day, there is nothing better than sitting down to a meal that someone else has prepared. The only thing that makes it better is if the chef of said meal happens to also be funny and sweet and incredibly amazing. Needless to say, I was very excited when my boyfriend put together chickpea cutlets in a lemon-caper sauce.

Whole Foods Bulk Section

The Venice Whole Foods is a carnival of wonder and magic, or at least I like to think so. They have a wine-tasting bar, a salad bar with tons of vegan options, vegan pizza, vegan chocolate truffles, grind-your-own coffee, cool cosmetics, daiya cheese, and more. Sometimes, I will invent something that I “need” from the store just to have an excuse to wander the aisles. Currently, my favorite part of my favorite grocery store is the bulk foods section. There are containers upon containers of dried fruits, nuts, flour, and grains. I love being able to sample a little or something, or to get just what I need for a recipe. It’s much cheaper when cooking for one, and less food goes to waste. I hate having to throw out food because it spoiled while waiting for me to cook with it.

The flour selection in the bulk foods aisle is a baker’s wet dream. I can buy just enough of a new flour for a recipe and get to experiment without committing to an entire bag of something that might not work out. Also, since I transfer my dry goods into jars as soon as I get them home anyway, I’m saving money, trees, and landfill space by buying these things in a little plastic bag instead of some elaborate packaging. Whole Foods is nice enough to provide twist-tie labels and pens, and I love any excuse to use my Catholic-school handwriting. So far I have tried whole wheat pastry flour and white spelt flour. I’m looking forward to trying the blue corn flour and making blue corn pancakes, or maybe even my own tortillas. I also love being able to buy just enough nuts for a recipe, like when I made my almond crumble for blueberry muffins. I don’t really eat nuts on their own, so it’s good to just get what I need right at that moment.
There is one more really amazing thing about the bulk foods aisle, and that is the fact that you can press your own peanut butter! Yes, that’s right, 100% natural peanut butter that you grind yourself. The ingredient list is simple: peanuts, and it’s really fresh and delicious. I personally went for the chocolate peanut butter machine, and enjoyed it spread on rice cakes for a week.

Avast Ye’ Mateys

Right now I’m sitting at Urban cafe on Lincoln, and the Dawson’s creek theme song is playing in the background. It’s one of my favorite writing spots, and not just because of the cool lighting and easy availability of laptop plugs. They have my favorite tea in the world: Pirate’s Chai. Pirate’s Chai is a green matcha latte. It’s free of all white sugar, oil, dairy, and gluten. It should be served hot with soy milk, but I know from experience that it’s also great over ice or even in a milk shake. I know this because I take credit for putting Pirate’s Chai on the map. Back in the day, I went to USC and worked at Ground Zero, a student-run coffee house and performance cafe with a not-so-fortunate name. One day we were street-teaming and this crazy man came up to us and told us we had to try his tea.

We weren’t about to drink it right then and there, but Robert (or the chai guy as he became known) came back during the week for us to try some of his crazy, weird, health-food drink. It was absolutely delicious. There was a solid month when I had Pirate’s Chai every day for breakfast. So, you can only imagine how delighted I was when I happened upon it at Novel. I know for a fact that their Main St. location also carries it, but I cannot verify the others. What I can tell you is that this stuff is delicious.You can order Pirate’s Chai off of their website:

I guess that I have to post some sort of recipe, so here is our old recipe for a pirate’s chai milkshake, with some vegan variations.

Pirate’s Chai Shake
8 oz unsweetened soymilk
3 large scoops vanilla soy cream
1 scoop of Pirate’s Chai powder
Blend all the ingredients together at high speed until smooth, adding more ice cream if necessary.

The Winningest Cupcake Recipe

As of 1 minute ago, I am 25 years old.  I’ve always felt like something special was going to happen on my 25th birthday, that I would get some sort of air of legitimacy and suddenly be taken much more seriously. Now, I don’t think this is the case. However, I do think that I’ve grown a lot as a person in the past year. I’m not the same girl I was 365 days ago. Veganism has been good to my body (52 pounds as of this morning!), but it’s also been good for my soul. Tomorrow I am going to celebrate with a pre-dawn bike ride up to Will Rogers. A year ago, I could barely make it the mile and a half to work without getting completely winded. I’m going to come home to my apartment and make breakfast. A year ago, I would have had to come home to my then ex-boyfriend, who I was still living with despite being broken up for 9 months. Tomorrow I’ll bring fat-free vegan cupcakes in to work. Last year, I believe I ate an entire full-fat Red Velvet cake over the course of 4 days. Tomorrow night, I will gather with friends for a few drinks. Last year, I don’t even remember what I did because I didn’t feel like I had anything to celebrate. After work today, I drove down to Santa Monica. I walked a bit and then took out my yoga mat for a few vinyassas overlooking the sunset. I can honestly say that I felt alive. In spite of myself and all of the issues and stresses I’m still working through, I felt this wave of contentment wash over me and I realized that I have a good life. Yes, it has its ups and downs, and it had an arguably rough patch from adolescence through college, but I feel like I’ve maybe overcome all of that. Not mentally or emotionally, but at least on the surface. I have a good job, a great circle of friends, a home (albeit a small, rented one). I’ve built out a real support system for myself here in LA, and I’m proud of that.
Thanks to my uncle Jimmy for finding these baby pictures of me and sending them. Look at how young and terrified my parents look.

A funny story: I was working on the following cupcake recipe and added 4 tablespoons of baking soda instead of 4 teaspoons. For those of you who like to get mathy, that’s a 3x difference. In retrospect, I should have just started over, but instead I increased all other ingredients by 3x. The end result is over 4 dozen cupcakes and a cake. The recipe below is just for one, and I iced it with a simple cream cheese frosting.
Very Vegan Velvet Cake
taken from Spectacle

1 can of beets
unsweetened applesauce
1/4 c. water
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
3 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 c. cocoa powder
2 c. sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

  1. Blend the beets and their water until smooth, measure it out, and add enough applesauce to make 2 cups of liquid. Combine in a bowl with the water, vanilla, and cider vinegar. Mix well.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients and slowly stir into the wet until just blended.
  3. Bake at 325 for 35-40 minutes for a cake, 20-25 for cupcakes. A toothpick in the center should come out clean.

Optional Peanut Butter Frosting
1/4 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 tbsp. soy milk
1 tsp. vanilla
handful of roasted peanuts

Beat together ingredients until well combined and sprinkle in peanuts. This is a great “middle frosting”.

Words I Hate

and finally…..
and finally

(Mis)Adventures in Veganism

Thursday night I was very excited to get out of work early due to a phenomenal job by my team. I celebrated by doing what I always do when I get out of work early, going to gymnastics class. I was really on point Thursday, working the rings, trying to learn the bars, hitting my new trampoline tricks. Then we had “the incident”. I was doing a backhandspring when a guy walked right behind me, causing my arm to hit him in the face instead of making contact with the floor. I took a hard landing on my neck, and heard a very scary cracking sound. Luckily, I’m ok…. for the most part. I sprained my upper back and strained my neck, and I have been sore for the past couple of days. My doctor benched me from all working out, and  I have to wait and see how it heals before making a decision about gymnastics next week. This was in some ways a less serious injury than the great springboard incident of July, where I ended up on crutches for a week. However, I’m told that injuries like this can take a lot longer to heal and cause continued problems. If anyone wants to come visit me and bring me vegan food or movies, just give me a holler, because my apartment is boring. 
Last night was my first event with a vegan group I found on called Vegan Drunks Drinks (I heard that joke about 5 times last night and decided I had to use it here). We met at The Waffle on Sunset Blvd, which is a vegetarian-friendly restaurant, although I felt less than safe ordering off of their menu. No worries though, because luckily, a lot of liquors are in fact vegan. I had a delicious take on a Malibu Bay Breeze with pineapple juice, cranberry juice, vodka, and champagne. The bartenders were very nice, even if they were slow at times. I empathized with one of them, who was still in training.
Venue aside, the event was really great. I met more vegans in 2 hours than I have in the past 2 months, and it was great to talk about being vegan. I got a bunch of new tips for websites and different restaurants to try. It was great to also be able to talk about things like yoga and meditation. Everyone was super friendly and outgoing, which ,I’ll be honest, I was worried about. Sometimes vegans get a bad rap for being boring, but these kids really knew how to party. I can’t wait for the next one.
In other news, my business cards came on Saturday!. When I opened my mailbox, I actually squealed in delight, which completely freaked out my neighbor and his baby. So then I felt kind of stupid, but I ripped open the box on the spot, and was really excited to see 250 of these beautiful babies. They were just in time to hand out to some people at last night’s event, so I will give a big hey and hello to my new favorite vegans.
I’m up to 901 hits, and on track to make it to a thousand at some point early this week. Maybe I’ll celebrate with a special recipe for all my readers, or maybe I’ll be selfish and just have a shot of patron by myself.

A Season for Giving (Up)

I describe myself as a recovering Catholic, meaning that I was raised Catholic, went to Catholic school, and now am sorting out residual issues from that experience. The one tradition that I have held on to is that of lent. Lent is the 40 day period before Easter when all good Catholics give up some kind of a vice. It’s an exercise in self-discipline that is supposed to help us prepare for the symbolical rebirth that is Easter.

As everyone knows, I went vegan for 28 days in January, and only recently added dairy back into my diet. I’ve been eating it for almost 2 weeks now and to tell you the truth, I don’t feel that great. Cheese and ice cream may taste great, but my stomach has been more upset than usual. Also, I’m breaking out all over my face. I can’t help but think that it has something to do with the dairy, which aggravates allergies and the digestive system. So, in the spirit of both lent and good karma, I’m jumping back on the vegan bandwagon. This year, Easter falls on April 4th, which means that I’ll be celebrating a very vegan birthday. It also means that I hope to lose 8 more pounds before my 40 days is up. I firmly believe that I can accomplish this, as long as my vegan diet stays high in the right things like fruits and vegetables and low in the wrong things, like sugars and fats (because even plant-based fats aren’t going to help anyone lose any weight).

It’s a tough world out there for a vegan, temptations and hidden animal products lie waiting in every corner. Being a vegan makes it harder to do things like go out with non-vegan friends. It makes dating more difficult, especially when one doesn’t want to be misinterpreted as a militant hippie tree-hugger. It isn’t fun to cook for non-vegans, because there is always the pressure to put together something that trumps any close-mindedness they might have about plant-based alternatives. I will apologize in advance for any inconveniences I might be creating for the people in my life.

  • I will not apologize for my choices.
  • I will not entertain any challenges to my lifestyle.
  • I will happily answer any questions, as long as they are rooted in general curiosity, not a way for misinformed people to berate me about my life.
  • I will make an effort to spend more time in the sun, so that when I get pale I do not automatically blame it on my diet.
  • I will politely turn down non-vegan food, even at the risk of offending the preparer. Just as I will happily accept it when my offers are politely turned down.
  • I will become more active in the vegan community, searching out more like-minded people to support me in my quest.
  • I will try new recipes and cooking ideas, so that my diet stays healthy, fresh, varied, and interesting.
  • I will make it a point to take a daily multivitamin so that I my required amount of B12. 
  • I will not buy leather, and I will make a genuine effort to only buy vegan beauty products.
  • I will minimize non-vegan and non-organic alcohol, even if it means sticking to water.
  • I will not avoid social situations because I am afraid they might introduce temptations. Instead, I will stay strong in my convictions.

So, there we have it. I’m putting it all out there and making a public declaration of my vegan intent. I will be kicking off my vegan experience with a fast in honor of Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of lent.

Please Show Me the Nipple

I don’t understand where soymilk comes from. When someone can show me the nipple on a soy bean, that’s when I’ll drink it

This is perhaps the most misguided and entertaining quote I’ve ever heard about soy milk. It came from a guy in the middle of him challenging me on my vegetarian(then vegan) ways. I get a lot of questions about why I’m doing this, where I get my protein from, how this can possibly be healthy, et. cetera. So, I thought that I should blog a bit and try to put some perspective on it.

I’ve never been a huge fan of meat. The only red meat that served as a regular part of my diet came in the form of cheeseburgers from fast food restaurants. You know the kind, so full of fillers and additives that they can only barely be called food. So, once I cut those out of my life, I was down to mostly chicken. However, by chicken, I mean Wendy’s Chicken Nuggets. I’ve never liked cooking meat, especially since I live alone and only cook for myself. It just always seemed like a big hassle and a little bit of a waste.

In July, I started making some serious changes to my life. As I increased my consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, and cut back on the processed crap, more and more of my diet was coming from plant-based foods. I learned to love a simple spinach salad for lunch or a bowl of fruit in the morning. Then, I did a re-read of Skinny Bitch, which is an eye-opening, tough-love diet book supporting a vegan lifestyle. I had always heard about how awful the meat industry was, but it didn’t really sync in until the re-read. It’s a common practice for poultry farmers to cut off chickens’ beaks, because they are so stressed out and crowded together that they will peck each other to death otherwise. Slaughter houses are disgusting places. I was already doing some serious re-thinking on what I was putting into my body, but being confronted with these facts influenced me to kick meat for good.

I gradually eased into vegetarianism, and for a few months I ate cheese, eggs, and fish. There was one incident where I decided to celebrate Thanksgiving the “right way”, and felt sick for several days after. Then, in January, I decided to go balls to the wall for 28 days and try veganism. Since the month has been over, I have added back in some dairy, but my body doesn’t feel ready for fish or eggs right now. Plus, I’ve found avoiding non-natural products is a very effective way to ensure that most of my diet is low in fat and cholesterol and high in important nutrients and vitamins. So, no, there is no nipple on a soy bean, but it still makes one hell of a latte.


Welcome to my new blog.

In October, I committed myself to living a healthy vegetarian lifestyle. Since then, I’ve been an on and off vegan and experimenting with different kinds of vegetarianism. For those of you who don’t know, there are all kinds of vegetarians lacto-vegetarians (milk and dairy), ovu-vegetarians (eggs), and pescatarians (fish). Right now I’m a lacto-vegetarian, mostly because of my addiction to fresh mozzarella. However, when I’m at home I try to stick to vegan cooking, because I really believe that a plant-based diet is the healthiest way to live your life.

Since taking up the vegetarian flag, I’ve lost an additional 15 pounds(more on that later). My skin is clearer and fresher looking, and I have more energy at the gym.