Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tis the Season

{photo from weheartit}

I hit a wall Friday night. A day that began with a glass (or two or three) or champagne at 1:30 in the afternoon (party #1) and ended with a late night karaoke shindig (party #3), Friday showed me that I'm not cut out for all that drinking and partying, no matter what the occasion. I came home that night tired, sad and quite pissy to be perfectly honest. I had to slow down. So Saturday night? All mine.

After a financing planning session (more on this later) avec my NYC big sis, I picked up some Indian food and a vegan whoopie pie  a la the Vegan Goddess at Cafe Indigo at the Whole Foods in Columbus Circle and went home to enjoy a night of solitude.  I can't tell you how happy I was to crawl into bed at midnight.  Although I didn't fall asleep for a couple of hours, I woke up something like 9 hours later and felt completely and totally rested and ready to tackle the day and week ahead.

Opening my filofax, I see my week ahead is a big one. 
  • Monday - Holiday party #1
  • Tuesday - Holiday party #2 (at Buddakan!!)
  • Wednesday - Traditional Union Square Holiday Market and Wined Up date avec fave roomie
  • Thursday - first a cappella group rehearsal (more on that later)
  • Friday - ALL MINE!
  • Saturday - 4 Course Vegan dinner (so excited!!)
As for tonight, I'm going ice skating at Bryant Park to be followed by dinner and a walk up Fifth Avenue to see the tree at Rockefeller, the lights at Saks, and the gorgeous windows at Bergdorf's.  I heart NYC Christmas (but I don't heart the inevitable masses of tourists - ugh).

Happy Holidays, y'all!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Life Lately (In Pictures)

*homemade cranberry sauce*sweet potato casserole a la Oh She Glows*
*wild mushroom stuffing*roasted brussels sprouts*

 *my go-to breakfast in Cali*

*admittedly, I did have some fries, but they were tres mediocre*

*merci, Nordstrom in San Jose*

*taking this pic to my hair appt on Sunday*

Friday, November 18, 2011

Vegan Tomato is Back!

Bonjour, friends! TGIF - am I right?? Just wanted to let you know that the Vegan Tomato is back, baby! So if you're a fan of food (and particularly a fan of food and the animals, as none were harmed in the making of this post), you should definitely head on over for my latest restaurant review. It's yumtastic! :D

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Easy Peasy Pumpkin Pancakes

Forgive me in advance - if you are one who likes recipes for their specificity, then you probably won't like this one. But I urge you to try making these pancakes with a lax attitude, as that is the best way to start a lazy Sunday.

I'm not a big pancakes person.  Eating them?  Sure!  But making them?  Augh.  Just as I detest baking, I detest making pancakes for the same reasons - messy flour, multiple ingredients and measuring cups.  But when this time of year comes around, I can't resist the siren song of pureed pumpkin.  And so, this year I was determined to find an easy way to whip up 5-minute pumpkin pancakes whenever the urge hit, and I can confidently say (after several batches), that this is one of the easiest pancake recipes (if you can even call it a recipe) on the planet, and it's pretty healthy to boot!  (And duh, it's vegan.)

Easy Peasy Pumpkin Pancakes

- pancake mix of your choice (I use Highland Sugarworks' Organic Multigrain Pancake Mix because it's vegan and includes simple ingredients - whole wheat flour, corn flour, rye flour and sea salt)

- almond milk of your choice (I prefer Silk or Almond Breeze - both the plain, unsweetened variety)

- pumpkin pie spice

- pure maple syrup (get the good stuff here - I brought mine back all the way from Vancouver!)

- Earth Balance (or butter)

- pureed pumpkin (yes, from a can)

So you've got all your ingredients.  Now you just combine until you get the desired consistency (which can vary depending on what you like - I like mine a bit thick).  I usually start by adding the pancake mix, pureed pumpkin (use about 1/3 of the amt of pancake mix you use) and some almond milk until I find a decent consistency.  Then I add a generous sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice and a drizzle of maple syrup (which I swear makes the pancakes ever-so-subtly sweet from the inside without using sugar, which is a big plus for me). 

Then just heat a skillet over medium heat (you can use a griddle if you are fancy like that and have one), coat it with nonstick spray and Earth Balance (this is KEY to making your pancakes goldeny brown and delightfully crispy around the edge) and use a 1/4 cup measuring spoon to make each pancake.  Easy peasy!

Note that you can store any leftover batter in the fridge and use it the next day or maybe even the day after that.  I usually just put plastic wrap over the mix and the bowl (as in directly on the batter so a weird film doesn't develop) and keep it in the fridge.  When I'm ready for another pancake, I just let it sit out of the fridge for about 5 minutes and then fry that sucker up.

Serve with warm maple syrup (and Earth Balance, if you so desire, but I don't find it necessary since you're cooking them in it).  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The National Conference to End Factory Farming: Day 2

 {photo courtesy of Farm Sanctuary}

Read my recap of Day 1 here.

Day 2 of the conference began at 8:00 a.m. at, yes, the Starbucks on Dupont Circle. The day was frigid, rainy and pretty miserable. Despite my 7 hours of sleep the night before, I felt my energy levels nosedive during the drive to Arlington. Luckily we got to the conference in time for a hearty breakfast spread - surprisingly delicious tofu scramble, crispy breakfast potatoes, and bagels. I filled my plate high and got ready for a pretty stellar Day 2 opening.  The focus today, the final day of the conference, was on building solutions.

First up was David Wolfson, a partner at the NYC office of Milbank Tweed and an adjunct professor at NYU.  {Note: All photos in this post are courtesy of Farm Sanctuary's FB page.}

 I was more than surprised to see his name on the program the day before. A partner? Of a big law firm?? Very interesting. Well, Mr. Wolfson did not disappoint. He is an adorable, British lawyer who is passionate about animal rights and has been doing legal work in the field since the mid-80's. He teaches Factory Farming and the Law at NYU School of Law (I wish UT had a class like that when I was there!)  Oh and his wife is the mastermind behind Get Vegucated - how cool is that?

Some key points from David's presentation:

  • There are no federal laws that deal with how farm animals are treated.  As such, the only laws that exist re: the treatment of animals are state laws.  The problem with state laws are that they are: (1) written in a way so that farm animals are excluded and/or (2) rewritten by those in the agricultural industry (as they are often also the people with the power to make those laws - conflict of interest much?).
  • The Humane Slaughter Act is lacking - athough more than 168 million chickens (excluding broilers) and around 9 billion broiler chickens are killed for food in the United States yearly, the Humane Slaughter Act specifically mentions only cattle, calves, horses, mules, sheep and swine.
  • In November 2002, over 2 ½ million Floridians voted to prohibit the cruel confinement of pregnant pigs in factory farms. It was the first time that a farming practice had been banned because of its inherent cruelty in the United States. After a six year phase-out period, this initiative took effect on November 5, 2008.  The vote sent a powerful message to the pork industry, and motivated animal welfare advocates across the country. Since 2002, six states have followed Florida in banning gestation crates. The intensive confinement of pregnant pigs was banned in 2006 in Arizona after a ballot initiative effort. In 2007, the governor of Oregon signed a measure prohibiting gestation crates. In 2008, Colorado's governor signed into state law a ban on gestation crates and Californians overwhelmingly passed a ballot initiative. In 2009, new laws were enacted in Maine and Michigan which will prohibit gestation crates.  (from the ARFF website)

I later attended a breakout panel with Mr. Wolfson and introduced myself to him afterwards.  I told him I would've never expected there to be a partner at an event like this, and that it was incredibly inspiring as a young lawyer to see that.

Next up to the plate - the one and only John Mackey, co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods Market. 

John was a bit awkward at first, but he quickly found his rhythm and was awarded afterwards with a standing ovation.  Some key points from his presentation:
  • Diseases of affluence (heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, etc.) are killing Americans.
  • More Americans will die of cancer in the next 24 months than died in all the wars in America's history.
  • We're spending less and less money on food and more and more in health care.  Coincidence?
  • He thinks olive oil sucks and that we shouldn't be eating it - I found this to be interesting and need to get more info.  Thoughts?
  • If you want to promote a vegan diet, then you need to be a healthy example!  Don't live on pasta, bread, french fries, sugar and processed food - eat green leafy vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes and fresh fruit.
And last, but not least, Dr. Joel Fuhrman - one of my newest favorite people.  I've seen Dr. Fuhrman on a number of documentaries (Forks Over Knives, Sick, Fat and Nearly Dead, etc.), and I'm a big fan of his and his message of how eating the right foods can prevent and even reverse the diseases most Americans face.  Some key points from his presentation:
  • Processed grains are continuously linked to breast cancer "so thank you to the conference organizers for providing those white bagels!"  - I just about died when he said that.
  • Eat a HUGE raw salad every day.
  • Women who ate mushrooms every day reduced their risk of breast cancer by 64%.
  • Add green tea and leafy greens to the mix, and that percentage goes up.
  • Green veggies have an extremely high percentage of protein per calorie - more than poultry, meat and eggs.
  • Eat GOMBBS every day - Greens, Onions, Mushrooms, Beans, Berries and Seeds.

I rarely pay full price for books these days, but when I saw that Dr. Fuhrman was signing books, I picked up a copy of his latest, SUPER IMMUNITY, and had him dedicate it to my Uncle Mel, who is fighting colon cancer.   (I'm also reading/highlighting The China Study for him and plan to send both books to him at the end of the month.)

Next I attended a breakout panel on Consumer Awareness and Activism.  Along with Mr. Wolfson, the panel included a presentation by Dena Jones, the farm animal program manager at Animal Welfare Institute who discussed food labels and marketing claims.  Key points from her presentation:
  • "Humanely raised" is the hot claim right now.  Unfortunately, it's the "humane myth" - 
    • There is no regulated definition, and label approval decisions are made inconsistently and on a case-by-case basis.
    • The terms are misleading.
    • Enforcement of what it means to be "humane" is inconsistent.
    • There is NO ON-SITE VERIFICATION (same is true for "free range" claims)
  • Companies essentially submit an affidavit claiming to be humane, and that's about it.
  • "Natural" means no artificial ingredients and minimally processed.  It says nothing about how the animal was raised.
  • "Organic" -> there are no standards for animal welfare; up to each certifier.
  • "Free range" = access to outdoors.  Problem is there are no specific requirements tied to that definition, and again, there's NO ON-SITE VERIFICATION.  (In other words?  It doesn't mean a thing.)

After breakout panels and a break, the conference ended with a session on building coalitions for change.  Paul Shapiro, senior director of farm animal protection at the Humane Society of the United States spoke, and he was fantastic.  Full of energy, very engaging, funny and obviously very passionate about what he's doing.

"Animals can't wage and win these campaigns for themselves, the planet can't wage and win these campaigns, it's up to all of us to do it for them" 
I'm going to end this very long blog post with the following (oh so helpfully put together by Top Five Ways to End Factory Farming, Five Things You May Not Know About Factory Farms, and Top Five Problems with Factory Farms.
Farm Sanctuary President and Co-Founder Gene Baur: “The best way to end factory farming is to make the system transparent and accountable, and to align agribusiness practices with our citizens’ values and interests. The cruelty of industrial animal agriculture is an affront to basic human decency. It is inefficient, unhealthy and unsustainable, and costs our nation hundreds of billions of dollars every year.”

Whole Foods Market Co-CEO John Mackey: “The best way to end factory farming is to first create more humane alternatives to it in the marketplace.  The great majority of people are very unlikely to become vegans for the foreseeable future.  It is therefore essential to create more humane alternatives that help raise peoples’ consciousness about what factory farming really does to animals by providing strong contrasts to compare against.  Until there are widespread humane alternatives to choose from most people will prefer to remain wilfully ignorant and very little is likely to change.”

Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter: “Factory farming is a threat to public health, the environment, and the rural communities upon which our food system desperately depend. The next farm bill must urgently reverse the policies that have given all of the advantages to intensive farming operations while pushing out the small and mid-sized farms that are the backbone of a system that provides us safe, healthy and sustainable food."
Sierra Club Water Sentinel Lynn Henning: “The best way to end factory farming is to eliminate government subsidies, incentives, and tax breaks for CAFOs [Confined Animal Feeding Operations]. CAFOs are NOT sustainable. We must rethink agriculture to teach the next generation to farm. Family farms have fed this country for generations.”

Farm Sanctuary National Shelter Director Susie Coston: “The best way to end factory farming is to show people that farm animals are intelligent, emotional beings who possess just as much desire to enjoy life as the dogs and cats who we know a bit better.”
John Ikerd, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics at the University of Missouri, Columbia: “Factory farms are not necessarily more economically efficient than smaller-scale independent family farms. Factory farm operators use their political influence and their ability to manipulate market prices to drive more efficient family farmers out of business. Food prices are no lower with factory farms than with independent family farms.”

Jim Motavalli, contributor to the New York Times, Audubon Magazine, Mother Nature Network and NPR's Car Talk, and author of the forthcoming book High Voltage: “Since the popular image of farms is of old-time barnyards populated by happy pigs and chickens, most people don't even know that factory farming exists. They'd be horrified if they knew how their food is produced, but the industry does an excellent job of keeping them from that reality.”

International Fund for Africa President and Co-Founder Dr. Anteneh Roba: “The one thing most people don't know about factory farming in Africa is that it even exists. The one thing most people don't know about factory farming in the USA is how extremely cruel it is.”

Greenpeace Senior Legislative Representative Kyle Ash: “Public health and animal welfare are inseparable. Forever, industry has tried to divide communities over factory farming, with false claims that industrial food production reduces the need to destroy our air, water and lands. The truth is that factory farming makes every public health problem worse. Shutting down factory farms is a common solution to some of our greatest animal and environmental abuses and we should work together to shut them down.”

Farm Sanctuary President and Co-Founder Gene Baur: “Most people don’t know how terribly animals are treated on today’s factory farms, and that they are legally excluded from basic humane protections.”
John Ikerd, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics at the University of Missouri, Columbia: The biggest single problem with factory farming is that it shows no respect for the sanctity of life — either the life of farm animals or human life. Factory farming treats feedlots as biological assembly lines, where the animals are simply machines that produce meat, milk, or eggs for nameless, faceless consumers, with no respect for the people who work in them or live in the communities where they operate. This lack of respect for life undermines the ethical and moral fabric of society.

International Fund for Africa President and Co-Founder Dr. Anteneh Roba: “It causes environmental disaster.”

Jim Motavalli, contributor to the New York Times, Audubon Magazine, Mother Nature Network and NPR's Car Talk, and author of the forthcoming book High Voltage: From an environmental point of view, the worst thing about intensive animal agriculture is it's huge inefficiency. It takes five pounds of grain to produce a pound of meat, and a 10-acre farm that could feed 60 growing soybeans would support only two people raising cattle. Reducing American meat consumption by just 10 percent would free up enough grain to feed 60 million people.

Greenpeace Senior Legislative Representative Kyle Ash: “The unnecessary torture and abuse of other animals is one of the worst human atrocities of our time. Humanity's self-aggrandizing misconception that humans rule the world with no moral responsibilities to those with whom we share this planet is reinforced by how we treat other animals, and this ironic view is facilitating destruction of the planet even for ourselves.”

Michael Greger, M.D.: "When we overcrowd thousands of animals into cramped filthy football-field sized sheds to lie beak-to-beak, or snout-to-snout atop their own waste it can present a breeding ground for disease, a perfect storm environment for the emergence of new strains of influenza and other animal-to-human diseases. These so-called factory farms are a public health menace."
And last, but not least, my top five takeaways...


  1. It's worth being a little uncomfortable to live my life in a way that aligns with my values.  In other words?  Veg For Life, baby. 
  2. If I ever thought it'd be impossible to find a hot veggie boy, I was WRONG.  There were some seriously fine, intelligent, and compassionate vegan men at this conference!
  3. Change is happening.  The movement has begun.  We are beginning to make some noise.  The road ahead is long and daunting, but make no mistake, we are making progress.
  4. Vegan mushroom ravioli is delicious - I must get the recipe and recreate.
  5. For my 29th (ACK!) birthday, I want to take a trip to Farm Sanctuary in upstate New York with my friends, stay overnight in one of their awesome cabins and spend some one-on-one time with those gorgeous animals.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bonjour, November

I've been dreading the revisit and review of my October goals because I knew I didn't meet them all. I know that's not the point (well, not for us regular folk anyway), but I still felt a tiny bit of failure and guilt.  In some ways, I did quite well. Instead of losing 5 lbs, I lost 8 (woo hoo!). While I didn't hit the gym 5x/week every week, I did manage to go regularly.  And although I attended three out of four of Gabby's coaching sessions and did some of the homework, I didn't do it all. And as for Oprah? Well, let's just say that my DVR is quite full. 

As for the 21-Day Cleanse, I give myself a solid B+.  I was 99.5% vegan.  I got a dry brush and began dry brushing (albeit not every single day).  I got a neti pot and had my best neti experience yet last night (neti-ing is tough for me b/c I have teeny tiny nostrils!).  I began taking vitamins and supplements (B-complex, D, probiotics, omega 3's), which is a huge accomplishment for me because I detest swallowing pills.  The things that didn't go so well?  Daily meditation (this one is going to take some work, y'all) and avoiding coffee and sugar (but still definitely decreased my consumption of both).

Today I was catching up on some of my favorite blogs and was delighted to see Kimberly's post on her November Dreams.  Dreams - what a fantastic idea!  Somehow describing them as dreams instead of goals makes them much friendlier, don't you think?  So this month, I'm dreaming of the following...

Veg for life ~ Lose 5 lbs ~ Attend to Hang On Little Tomato ~ Cook 3 new recipes ~ Create vision board ~ Volunteer at Mercy for Animals ~ Attend one vegan meetup ~ Finish 2 books ~ Be mindful of my money ~ Spend more time with God via prayer and meditation ~ Nourish my body with healthy food, regular exercise and vitamins/supplements ~ Run 2-3x/week

What are your November dreams?

P.S. Recap of Day 2 of the National Conference to End Factory Farming is coming tomorrow.  Read my recap of Day 1 here

The National Conference to End Factory Farming: Day 1

I have to agree with Kimberly - this past weekend changed my life.  My life has been changed before in this exact way, but I let life, laziness and my fear of never being able to brunch with my friends again get in the way.  I'm going to work really hard not to let that happen.

The first (I can say that now b/c I'm 99% sure they will do another one) National Conference to End Factory Farming was, in my humble opinion, a huge success.  I am so, so, SO grateful and thankful to have been a part of it - the whole experience was, and I don't say this lightly, unforgettable.  Here's my story...

I arrived in D.C. late Thursday night and made my way to Dupont Circle.  Luckily my BFF Judd has an apartment mere minutes away from Kimberly's so meeting up was super easy.  After a very late night and approximately 3.5 hours of sleep, I woke up bright and early Friday morning and met Kimberly at Starbucks at 7:30 a.m. sharp.  One grande soy misto w/ a shot of pumpkin spice and one grande lotus tea w/ 2 sugars in the raw later, we were in a cab on our way to the Westin Arlington Gateway in Arlington, VA where the conference was being held. 

Kimberly set up our table the night before, and we added some beautiful finishing touches.  Kimberly is a ROCKSTAR at setting up beautiful tables - ours was definitely the cutest!  Bamboo in a glass vase, yummy yogi tea a la Tranquil Space, a damask tablecloth, and of course - sugar!  {Photos all courtesy of Kimberly}

We were representing all kinds of goodness - Tranquil Space, TranquiliT and the lovely Pigs Animal Sanctuary (Kimberly sits on the Board - holla!).  In honor of the conference, Kimberly had these ADORABLE tees made up - are they not the cutest things you've ever seen??  They were a HUGE hit!

After putting the finishing touches on our table, we headed into the ballroom and thus began one of the best days of my life.

Day 1 began with an opening by the conference emcee - Victoria Moran!  I wasn't familiar with Victoria before this, but I am a HUGE fan now.  She is an absolute delight and made a perfect emcee.  Soon Gene Bauer, president co-founder of Farm Sanctuary (who organized the conference) came up to speak and, well, I kind of fell in love.  *SWOON*

Day 1 went from 8 a.m. until about 9 p.m.  Despite my severe lack of sleep, I felt more energized, more awake and more engaged after each speaker, each presentation, each breakout panel.  This day focused on the problem with an emphasis on the environment, food safety and animal rights - all things near and dear to my heart.  Here are some sobering stats and facts:
  • Nearly 30% of the Earth's accessible surface is devoted to livestock production.  8% is devoted to crops directly consumed by humans.
  • Agricultural runoff = the single largest source of water pollution in the Earth's rivers and streams.
  • Sentience is the bedrock of ethics.  Farm animals are sentient beings - they have the capacity to feel pleasure and pain.
  • The European Union is banning the use of battery cages from 2012 after a 10-year phaseout period.  What is America doing?  
  • 6 of the 150 pathogens found in animal manure are responsible for 90% of human food and water borne diseases.
  • The average meat eater is responsible for killing approximately 2,400 animals in a lifetime.
  • Up to 60% of chicken sold in supermarkets are infected with salmonella.  (EW.)
  • 80% of 2 million farmers make no money.  15% make about $26,000/year.  5% make over $300,000 a year.
  • Most factory farms are exempt from reporting releases of toxic chemicals, including ammonia.
  • About 20 companies control/own the food system.
There were several excellent speakers on Day 1, but the ones who stood out in my mind are:

- Gene Bauer, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary

- Jonathan Balcombe, Ph.D., bestselling author and animal behavior expert (He was HILARIOUS.)

- Holly Cheever, D.V.M., award-winning veterinarian (who spoke at length about how animals are sentient beings)

- Nathan Runkle, founder and executive director of Mercy For Animals (He began this nonprofit when he was FIFTEEN, y'all.  I totally fell head over heels in love with him (he's REALLY cute), but later learned that he's gay.  Go figure...)

- Bruce Friedrich, senior director of strategic initiatives at Farm Sanctuary (also hilarious)

- James McWilliams, Ph.D., author of "Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly" (He's also a professor at Texas State University and a complete and total, unapologetic, vegan ROCKSTAR.  Loved him.)

- Susie Coston, national shelter director at Farm Sanctuary (who shared an extremely touching story about a pig named Rose - if anyone tells you that a pig will eat her babies, just tell them to "shut up" and move on b/c it's NOT true)

- Elizabeth Kucinich, director of government affairs for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (and wife of U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich - who was there!!)

To read some of the most poignant quotes from the amazing conference speakers, check out Farm Sanctuary's twitter feed and Facebook page.

I want to leave you with this video that was shown at 8:45 a.m. on this first day.  Yes, it's a little graphic, but I STRONGLY URGE YOU TO NOT TURN AWAY.  It's only 5 minutes, it's powerful, and it's the truth - it doesn't have to be this way.

Recap of Day 2 coming soon!

P.S. Saturday night we stayed for the Banquet Dinner.  Admittedly the entree was meh, but the dessert?  Well, just look for yourself...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Catch Up: What I've Been Eating, Thinking and Doing

Bonsoir, mes amies! Yesterday I realized that I completely dropped the ball on blogging, and for that, I apologize. I'm especially sorry because there are SO many things that I've wanted to discuss! First things first: let's chat briefly about what I've been eating.

Despite a few hiccups in the road (I'm looking at your apple pie a la mode at work!), I've been doing pretty well with the vegan eating.  And, unsurprisingly (and yet it always still manages to surprise me a little), I'm starting to get that inner and outer vegan glow.  I'm feeling good, y'all, and the fact that I've dropped a few pounds is the icing on the already moist and delicious cake!

Peacefood Cafe
Friday night I had a dinner date avec a dear friend from work, and she took me to Peacefood Cafe where I had a FANTASTIC meal.  We got the dumplings to start, and holy crap, they were some of the best dumplings I've ever had.  And let me tell you something - my mother makes some pretty killer (and pork-filled) dumplings.  And these?  These vegan dumplings?  They were just as good.  I'm kind of obsessed with them and can't WAIT to go back for more.  We also split the caesar salad (who knew tempeh bacon could be so good??) and the mushroom panini (ummm heavenly).

To be honest, the part of the meal I was looking forward to the most was dessert, as I'd heard so much about their delectable offerings.  Unfortunately, we didn't have as good of an experience there.  We got the peanut butter cheesecake (the peeps on Yelp love that stuff) and the raw key lime pie.  I'll give the key lime pie (pictured below) a solid B.  It had great flavor and an excellent balance of sweet and tart, but I couldn't get past the texture.  It had the texture of butter which, depending on who you are, could be a good thing.  But it just wasn't doing it for me (my friend loved it though).

Now, the peanut butter cheesecake was straight up NOT good.  There was some flavor going on in there that I couldn't get past (maybe the silken tofu??).  I decided to give the desserts one last try and snagged the last slice of ginger spice bread to-go and was barely 3 steps into my apartment before busting it out.  It was INSANE GOOD, y'all.  Peacefood Cafe definitely redeemed its dessert reputation there.  I need that recipe!!

Definitely some of the best falafel I've had.  Tucked away on a quiet street in the West Village, this place is a gem.  It's a bit pricey, but 99.9% of their menu is vegan and absurdly delicious so I'm okay with it.  Get the date, lime & banana smoothie!!

Baking Treats
On Sunday, I was feeling particular Fall-esque and wanted to bake some Fall treats to celebrate.  First things first, my roomie and I roasted the pumpkin seeds we gathered from a pumpkin carving party the day prior.  I'd never roasted pumpkin seeds before - they took forever, but were well worth the wait.  They filled our apartment with a warm, Autumn and comforting aroma and are tres tasty.

I also made Alicia Silverstone's chocolate peanut butter cups (a HUGE hit at the office today) and pumpkin chocolate chip muffins (I'm not sharing the recipe for that one b/c I'm not a huge fan).  I heart baking!

Colleen, Gabby and Kimberly
I went to Colleen Patrick Goudreau's presentation of Animal and the Arts at the Alexander Gray gallery last week, and it was one of the best nights I've had since moving to NYC.  I plan to devote an entire blog post to this, but suffice it to say that Colleen is warm, endearing and inspirational, and I kind of love her.

I had my last group coaching session with Gabby Bernstein tonight.  I've definitely learned some valuable tools from her, but overall I'd have to say I'm a little disappointed.  More on this later as well.

Thursday night I take the train to D.C. for the National Conference to End Factory Farming where I'll be selling TranquiliT with Kimberly - I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!!!

Have a BEAUTIFUL week, friends.  Gros bisous!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Quinoa, Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Caramelized Onion Jam

In one of its recent issues (I'm sorry, but I don't remember which one exactly), Whole Living featured a collection of recipes by Ronna Welsh called "The Dinner Dozen" - twelve staple recipes to have on hand so that quick, easy and healthy dinners can be put together in a flash. The collection included dressed up staples like balsamic poached figs and braised mushrooms to simple ones like polenta and seared kale.  The one that stood out most to me was the caramelized onion jam, both for its simplicity and guaranteed delish-ness factor.  I ripped out the recipe and vowed to buy onions.

Fast forward about a month later to last Thursday night.  Per my usual, I found myself home after a long day with no plans for dinner and feeling very, very hungry.  The only thing in my fridge were some brussels sprouts (slightly worse for wear, to be honest).  Pantry?  A small bit of quinoa I purchased from the Whole Foods bulk bins (God bless bulk bins).  Finally, I spotted a lone onion on the microwave that I had purchased a week ago on impulse.  Hello, dinner!  Roasted brussels sprouts + quinoa + caramelized onion jam = surprisingly delicious and satisfying (and vegan and gluten-free!).  Recipes below:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- brussels sprouts (cut off the stem, then cut in half)
- olive oil
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  After washing and prepping the sprouts, spread them on a baking sheet in one layer.  Drizzle with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.  Get your (clean) hands in there, and make sure every sprout is coated!  Place sheet in oven and roast anywhere between 15 and 20 minutes.  Midway through, shake the pan so that the sprouts get evenly crispy. 

There are several recipes for quinoa.  I've seen a 2-1 water-quinoa ratio and a 1.5-1 ratio (which I used).  Basically you just combine quinoa, water (or stock) and a bit of salt on the stove.  Heat on high until boiling, then cover, reduce heat to simmer, and let cook for around 15-20 minutes.  Uncover and fluff with fork.

Caramelized Onion Jam (courtesy of Whole Living Magazine)
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 lb onions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup water (or stock - I used water)
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (the thicker the better)
- 1 tsp sugar (I omitted this - it's completely unnecessary)
- coarse salt

In a medium pot, heat oil over medium heat and cook onions, covered, stirring occasionally until translucent, about 15 minutes.  Add water and vinegar (and sugar if you so desire) and cook uncovered, stirring until onions are caramelized, about 30 minutes more.  Season with salt.  Let cool completely.  Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Day 5: ____

{photo from the side dish}

And... fail. That? Up there? That was my downfall tonight. I think I should feel guiltier... I think I should feel tremendously guilty.  But to be honest, I don't.  This was an extraordinarily challenging week at work, and today, wow, today was just insane.  My job can be extremely gratifying at times, but at other times, it can feel totally thankless.  So after a very long day, when my boss asked if I wanted to go upstairs (my company has a full-service cocktail hour every Friday) to get a glass of champagne, I barely hesitated before replying "yes!"

After sipping my glass of Veuve Clicquot on a relatively empty stomach, my attention shifted.  Wow, I was hungry.  And do you know what I wanted?  You guessed it - pizza and wine!!!  And after my smug triumph the other night, I stumbled.  And fell.

Luckily, it stopped there.  I didn't head straight to the freezer for the pint of Ben & Jerry's.  I didn't drink a half bottle of wine, and I didn't say, "Screw this - I'm getting a bacon/egg/cheese croissant tomorrow morning!"  Instead, I noticed the discomfort I felt in my stomach, cursed myself a little, and resolved to be better tomorrow.  And so I will.

 TGIF, y'all.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Day 4: Bagels

One of the best things about living in New York is most definitely the bagel scene. I've never particularly liked or disliked bagels, but after moving here, I have become a bagel fanatic.  I happen to live in extreme proximity to two bagel joints: Murray's and Brooklyn Bagel.  I think Murray's is the more popular option, but quite frankly, I just don't get Murray's. 

#1 - They don't toast their bagels.  Like, they don't even offer the option to toast bagels.  That is messed up.  #2 - Their bagels are small and sad and not nearly as delicious as... BROOKLYN BAGEL, y'all.  Yes, my ultimate fave.  Their whole wheat everything bagels are to-die-for good.  For the past year, my order has always been - "whole wheat everything toasted with low-fat scallion, please!" 

Unfortunately, "low-fat scallion" isn't really an option for me right now.  I'd always noticed their tofu cream cheese offerings, but was never in the right state of mind to try it (in other words: I was afraid it would be gross, and I didn't want to ruin my beloved Sunday morning breakfast).  But tonight, after a particularly grueling day at work and very, very sad lunch, I needed carbs, and I needed them fast.  After ensuring that the bagels themselves are dairy and egg-free (hey, ya never know!), I proceeded to order one whole wheat everything toasted with veggie tofu

It looks like cream cheese.  It spreads like cream cheese!  But friends?  It is not cream cheese.  Now, don't get me wrong, it tastes fine.  But, well, it's not the same thing, and does that make me sad?  Yes, a little bit.  The good news is I only ate half my bagel and will fill the rest of my tummy with roasted brussels sprouts.  (Normally I'd eat the entire oversized bagel and then proceed to pick up the random sesame seeds and seasonings that fell off with a finger of cream cheese.  Gross, I know.)

Onwards and upwards, y'all!  I came really close to ordering cream cheese, but then I asked myself if it would be worth it, and the answer was a definitive no.  Let's get real - I shouldn't be eating bagels for din anyway.

Coming soon - why I'm doing this 21-Day Cleanse (it ain't just about the animals this time). 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Day 3: Eating My Feelings

As far as I'm concerned, there's no such think as non-emotional eating. As someone who loves food, entertaining, cooking, and sharing meals with loved ones, eating is pure joy for me.  Unfortunately, over the last 6 months, I've been doing more of the negative emotional eating.  Ya know... eating my feelings?  Yeah, it happens a lot.  Stressful days mean all night bitchfests with my roomie and almost always involve greasy takeout and bottles of wine.  Unsurprisingly, it's been a tough habit to break.

Today was crazy.  Busy and frustrating on its own , but naturally, it was also that time of the month so I was uber crampy and cranky.  I couldn't get to the gym at lunch, and I was way too tired/hungry to go after work, so I came straight home and to the fridge.  Normally I would run downstairs and order myself some delicious brick oven margherita pizza after having walked down the block to get a bottle of our favorite Malbec (the conveniences I enjoy living in NYC are delightful, but dangerous), but since I'm currently vegan and avoiding alcohol, such a scenario was not an option.  So I made one of my favorite snacks instead, and I'm pleasantly satisfied - avocado toast!  It's nothing new, and everyone has their own version.  Some prefer to add hot sauce or olive oil and cracked pepper, but I prefer the simplicity of just butter and salt.

Carolyn's Vegan Avocado Toast

- 2 slices of sprouted whole grain bread (I get Sprouted Bakehouse's 7 Grain from WF, and it's delish!)
- 1 ripe avocado
- sea salt
- Earth Balance

Toast the bread.  Mash the avocado.  Spread Earth Balance on toasted bread (this is KEY and enhances the taste factor tenfold - if you don't have Earth Balance, use salted butter) and cover with lots of mashed avocado.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Enjoy!  It's absurdly simple and delectable.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Starting Over

{beautiful photo from here}

Last week did not go as planned in terms of the 21-day cleanse.  I knew I had a couple of meals that would have to be non-vegan, but I thought it would be okay.  It's not.  For me, it's an all or nothing type of thing, and one "mess-up" in my mind equaled total failure and a free-for-all pass to eat as much crap as possible in a 24-hour period.  Not good.  So I'm recommitting, and this time I'm doing it right.

I'm not just starting over my cleanse; I'm starting over on a whole lotta things in my life that need some spark.  My finances, my attention to wellness, and my BLOGGING.  Have I been the worst blogger ever or what?  The thing is, I realized today that I feel quite alone right now in so many of the things I'm working on (aka all the "me" stuff) because none of my friends really get it, ya know?  Self-awareness is one of those things that's rarely discussed, and the idea of better-ment, whether it be through a vegan diet or a break from alcohol, are not understood. 

When I first did my 21-day vegan kickstart last year, I started Vegan Tomato.  The support I got from the blogging community, even those who weren't vegan, was astounding.  I'm not going to reblog at Vegan Tomato (let's be honest, I can hardly handle one blog these days), but I do intend to spend more time here.  Whether you're listening or not, it definitely helps me to have a place to go to discuss these things that I value so highly, so I'm going to give it a try.  Surprisingly, getting back to a regular schedule of blogging is much more difficult than I anticipated.  So keep my accountable, okay?  Thanks.  :)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bonjour, October

{photo from here}

J'adore October - it's finally starting to feel like Fall, which is by far my favorite time of year.  One of the things I love most about living in the northeast is that Fall actually exists.  I'm dreaming of hot, milky teas, cozy hoodies, leggings and boots, blazers and loads of knits.  October is a big month for me - I'm participating in Gabby Bernstein's October coaching in addition to Oprah's Life Class.  I'm going to D.C. for the National Conference to End Factory Farming (working the TranquiliT table avec Kimberly!).  I'm doing Kris Carr's 21-Day Cleanse (Day 1 is October 2  - blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol).  I'm pretty much declaring it Carolyn's Wellness Month, with a renewed focus on yours truly.  Below are some goals I jotted down this weekend.  What's on your list?

  1. Do the work - Gabby's coaching, Oprah's Life Class, and Kris' 21-Day Cleanse
  2. Eat as vegan as possible (also avoiding coffee and alcohol)
  3. Go to bed by 11-11:30 a.m.  Wake up at 7-7:30 a.m.
  4. Gym - 5x/week
  5. Lose 5 lbs

Monday, September 5, 2011

3-Day Weekends...

{image found Brenda Mullen}

,,, are heavenly, aren't they?  They just seem to go on forever, that is, until it's Monday afternoon, and you wonder what you did all weekend.  That's sort of the feeling I'm having, anyway.  I had an absolutely lovely afternoon tea at Lady Mendl's, which might be the most gorgeous tea salon I've ever seen.  It was exactly what afternoon tea should be, in my humble opinion.

I've yet to decide how I plan to spend the rest of my holiday, but I wanted to leave you with some quotes I've been pondering/enjoying lately.

"Faith is taking the first step, even if you can't see the whole staircase."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

"One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself."
- Leonardo da Vinci

"Accepting oneself does not preclude an attempt to become better."
- Flannery O'Connor

"Happiness depends upon ourselves.  To live happily is an inward power of the soul."
- Marons Aurelius

"The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time."
- Bertrand Russell

"When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering."
- Miguez Ruiz

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


{image from weheartit}

I turn 28 on Thursday.

I'm a teensy bit nervous about it.
But I'm going to try and let the anxiety go.

Enjoy my day week.

And listen to John Lennon.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


{image credit: here]

The week continues to be challenging, but guess what?  We're more than half-way through!  WOO HOO!  Checked off my list: bridesmaid dress fitting (not nearly as painful as I anticipated), 1 tedious project at work, birthday cards/prezzies shopping for special people (including my dad - I got him a Tumi wallet from Bloomies), and writing/mailing snail mail.  Still on my list?  Fun karaoke night with friends tomorrow night, massage Friday night and going to the post office to mail aforementioned prezzies (le sigh... dreading this one).

Here are some random things keeping me happy (and sane):

- Jane Borden on NPR Friday afternoon.  I just finished her memoir (North Carolina Southerner meets Brooklyn), and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Even had a couple of LOL moments (on the subway - awwwkward).

- Had drinks with a friend at Bar Basque apres work yesterday, and they had some yummy drink with St. Germain, an elderflower liqueur.  I'm dying to get my hands on a bottle (and may just have to do just that this weekend).  Not only is it beautiful, but it's got such a great story.  I plan to make some of this when I get it.  (Ironically, I did not actually order the drink so I'm not really sure what it tastes like, but it can't possibly be bad... right?)

- Speaking of last night (and spending too much money on food and drink), I had a fantastic dinner at Scarpetta with my dear friend Stephanie.  Braised octopus, homemade pasta and one of the best bread baskets I've ever had... yummmm.

- Picked up this gem the other day and fully intend to visit some of these places (including a couple of free meditation centers).  Everyone in this city needs peace and quiet.

- Came across this quote today and found it most appropo of my mood this week:

"Tell everyone you know: "My happiness depends on me, so you're off the hook." And then demonstrate it. Be happy, no matter what they're doing. Practice feeling good, no matter what. And before you know it, you will not give anyone else responsibility for the way you feel-and then, you'll love them all. Because the only reason you don't love them, is because you're using them as your excuse to not feel good."

- Esther Hicks, is a best-selling author and motivational speaker.


Monday, August 1, 2011


 {image credit: here}

I had quite a rough Monday (that time of the month, challenging coworkers, workplace drama, etc.) and found myself sipping wine, shedding tears and feeling quite uncheerupable (yep, that's a word).  But then I remembered that I printed my own Fancy Nancy Do Not Disturb sign and busted out the colored pencils, construction paper and glitter glue and made my sign extra special.  Eager for the glitter glue to dry so I can slap it on my door and see how my roomies react.

Then I picked up the phone and called my Mom whilst decorating the pages of my filofax avec stickers and sparkly gel pens, and well, Momma Park always knows just what to say to snap me out of my sulky, self-absorbed mood.  15 minutes later, and I'm feeling loads better.

And then I got a super sweet tweet and then a lovely email from fellow friends and readers of this blog, and suddenly I'm not only feeling better, but my heart is bursting with all kinds of warm and fuzzies.  I can't thank you guys enough for always being there, despite my absence, despite my moments of... Carolyn-ness.  I love that you love me for me and that I never have to pretend to be anyone else.

A big fat, gorgeous MERCI to all of you!

P.S. I'm 99% sure that my less-than-stellar mood also has to do with the fact that I'm turning 28 next week.  I've never once cared about getting older until now... what gives?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

New Yorker

{image from here}

I don't know what it is about this city, but it makes you busy.  There's a reason people are always in a hurry here - there's always somewhere to go, some place you were supposed to be 15 minutes ago, some train to catch, something.  Ironically, I've noticed it even more so this summer, a season traditionally associated with lazy days, no school and lots of pool time.  No more.  Suddenly I've become a person with so many work meetings, lunch appointments, apres-work "drinks", bridesmaid dress fittings (okay, I only have one of those, but still), 9:30 pm dinner reservations ON A WEEKDAY that I want to throw my filofax, iPhone and Blackberry in the freezer, take a train upstate and check into a cozy, quiet B&B.

I know it sounds like I'm complaining about a lot of "fun", and yes, some of it is fun, but it's also exhausting - I feel like I'm constantly trying to keep up.  And that, my friends, is why I can't wait for August 12 - a date on which I'll have been 28 (!! - more on this later) for twenty-four hours and I'll be on a plane to Florida for a real taste of summer - the tastes of sunscreen, saltwater and pina coladas.

Bon weekend!