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