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The other day I ordered Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life and Thrive Foods by Brendan Brazier.  Brendan is a pro Ironman triathlete and a vegan.  He spent many years experimenting with his diet and finding a highly effective way to nourish an active athlete.  (Or anybody else for that matter.)

The book appeared the other day and I read it cover to cover and loved it.  The focus of the book is on eating whole foods that aren’t processed – really nothing we didn’t already know was good for us.  But it’s laid out in a way that makes it an easy and enjoyable read, and includes a meal plan and a bunch of recipes (even more in Thrive Foods).

I already eat vegan, so this really wasn’t a huge leap for me to try.  However, most of the foods are raw or nearly raw (lots of fruits, veggies, and nuts), which is a bit different from how I was eating (lots of cooking at high temperatures, breads, etc.).

So today I started to adjust my food intake.  For most of the day I ate lots of fruits and veggies, and felt fantastic.  For dinner, I departed from that a bit since I had some things I wanted to use up in the fridge, so I made our favorite vegan crab cakes.

After dinner it was time for my 12 miler, and I felt excellent!  This was a big deal – I haven’t had a good run in weeks.  Especially the last few days.  I have felt so sluggish and terrible.  So it was very exciting to have a run where my legs felt good.

After my run I popped back some delicious blueberries (how did I not like those when I was a kid??).

It’s a bit strange to not track my food – something I usually do when training since my caloric need is all over the place during that time.  But one of the points of Brendan’s book is when you’re eating these high net gain foods (foods that give you the most bang for your buck, so to speak), you don’t need to eat as much of them to feel full or get the nutrients you need.  So there is no calorie tracking – you eat what you feel you need to eat.

I was skeptical of this at first, but so far, I would agree.  I ate when I felt hungry, and chose whole foods, and never felt deprived.  I didn’t end up with any big lulls in energy throughout the day, and I felt great during my run.

I intend to continue experimenting with a raw vegan diet, and we’ll see how it goes!

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Well, it’s Christmas Eve and we are here visiting my sister and her husband in DC.  It’s delightfully warm here (relatively speaking, that is) and it’s been great getting out for some runs in a new neighborhood.  On the down side, their neighborhood is CRAZY HILLY!!!  And I thought ours was bad.  Oh my goodness.  But it’s a great hill workout!

Since I’ve been here I’ve gotten in two nice slow 5 milers, and tomorrow I’ll do an 8 sometime in the afternoon.  I’ve met some of their (very nice) neighbors while out running and apparently there’s a group meeting on Monday for a morning run, which I’d like to tag along with as well.  So even though we’re on vacation, I’m staying plenty active.

The other challenge has been managing my sweet tooth, especially during the holiday season.  Now that I’m delving into the world of Ironman, I really don’t want to have to carry any extra weight for that 140.6 miles.  So I’m trying to pay more attention to what I’m eating.  I’m a big bored/mindless/habitual/emotional eater, so I’m trying to be very purposeful.  It’s been a couple days and I think I’m over the hump.  In the beginning I have a hard time breaking those sugar cravings (SO REAL), but once I get past it, things are much easier.  It also helps that I’m the only vegan in the house here and there’s absolutely nothing vegan to eat.  So even though the cookies look great, and there’s lots of them, I have an easy time passing them up.

Although, what’s the holiday season without a little baked deliciousness?  I’m going to make a batch of Peanut Butter Pillows (best cookies EVER) for everyone to enjoy tonight, and also a batch of Angela’s Pumpkin Pie Cinnamon Rolls for breakfast tomorrow.  I made these for Christmas last year and it was absolutely incredible.  There are no words to describe it.  You just have to make them yourself.  I highly recommend it.

Anyway, I’m off to start baking.  Have a happy holiday!

Before I dive into my miraculous dinner, just a quick ankle update…

I’m still trying to heal this stupid ankle.  I have a frequent reoccurring pain/discomfort on the inside of my right ankle that doesn’t seem to want to go away.  So I postponed my 18 miler from this past weekend and will try to do it this coming weekend.  Hopefully my ankle holds up and things are better.  This week has been spent resting and icing like crazy.  I should get some quality stretching in too.

On to the good stuff.

Football season officially starts tonight!  Hooray!  As Buffalo Bills fans, what says football more than chicken wings?

In my pre-vegan days, I was a HUGE Duffs fan.  If you don’t know what Duffs is, it’s the best damn wing place in existence.  I spent five years in Buffalo for college and grad school, and now I’m married to a Buffalonian, so it’s something that is near and dear to my heart.  It’s also near and dear to my heart because that husband of mine is great friends with the family that owns Duffs.  So even though I can no longer eat there, I really, really miss the flavors of Duffs.  (I should mention that they have nothing to do with this post.  I just really love them/it/the wing flavor.)

When I was just vegetarian, I actually talked to our friend and asked him if I could bring my own “chicken” to use.  Being the awesome person that he is, he cooked me vegetarian Duffs, and I was in heaven.  (If you don’t know him, please don’t try this.  I don’t want to get in trouble :-))

However, those “chicken” fingers had egg in them, not to mention the absolutely intoxicating blue cheese dip that I can no longer eat.  Also, I really can’t overlook the fact that they were probably cooked in the same oil as all the other wings.

We were in Buffalo a few weeks ago for a wedding, and made our traditional stop at Duffs to say hi and for my husband to stuff himself silly.  While we were there, our friend mentioned that they were now bottling and selling their sauce…

:: Clouds part.  Angels sing ::

I, of course, grabbed a bottle and began dreaming of making myself some amazing vegan Duffs all for myself.

I originally planned to breading some tofu, because most “chicken” tenders use egg as a binder, and are not vegan.  However, a few days ago my friend excitedly informed me of some new tenders that actually are vegan – Gardein Seven Grain Crispy Tenders.  So today I ran off to the store to pick some up,

All that was left was the blue cheese dip.  And that’s clutch, really.  Good wings are nothing without some awesome blue cheese.

So I searched around and tried a couple recipes.  My winner ended up being this one at GroupRecipes.com.  It was very simple, quick, and easy to make.

So here’s everything…

“Chicken” Tenders

  1. Preheat oven to 430 degrees.
  2. Cook tenders for 20 – 25 minutes, flipping once halfway through.

Blue Cheese Sauce (modified from original recipe found here – I omitted the crumbled tofu)

  • 1 cup veganaise
  • 1/4 tsp tahini
  • dash garlic powder (to taste)
  • dash of lemon juice (to taste)
  • dash of apple cider vinegar (to taste – I used a decent amount of this)
  1. Mix all ingredients together to taste.
  2. Try not to eat it straight out of the bowl, and save some for the wings.

Wing Sauce

  • Duffs hot sauce (Can currently be found on site at the Sheridan Duffs – will eventually be sold in grocery stores.  If you can’t obtain some of this liquid gold for yourself, try using Franks Red Hot.)
  • Earth balance (If you wish to decrease the heat of the wings, cut the sauce with melted Earth Balance.  For mild, I did a 50/50 mix.)
  1. Melt earth balance in a small saucepan.
  2. Once melted, pour the earth balance into a large bowl.
  3. Add desired amount of wing sauce to bowl and mix.
  4. Toss tenders in sauce until coated.
  5. Enjoy!

I was going to take pictures, but we inhaled everything so fast, I never got a chance.  I will take pictures next time, I promise.

The true test of this meal was my omnivore husband.  As a native Buffalonian, he LOVES duffs wings.  And guess what?  He loved these too.  They are now on our “make again” list.  He even liked the blue cheese sauce.

I think I might make these for dinner tomorrow too…

Over the last week or so, I’ve developed a nagging feeling in my right foot.  It appears that my plantar fasciitis is back, and I’m so irritated.  It’s not anything debilitating, but it’s annoying and frustrating, nonetheless.

Since my next marathon is in just a few weeks, I’ll have to manage it until then, and then rest it afterwards.  That’s really the only way to get it to go away, which sucks.

To manage it, I can do a few things:

  1. Wearing supportive shoes as much as possible
  2. Rolling my foot – I have a Foot Rubz ball, which is awesome, but you can also use a tennis ball or frozen water bottle in a pinch.
  3. Icing my foot
  4. Stretching my calves – tight calf muscles can lead to a tight achilles, which can lead to plantar fasciitis.  The first time I dealt with this, my tight calves were definitely the culprit, but I don’t feel that problem as much this time.  But it still can’t hurt.
  5. Resting my feet as much as possible – Really the only way to get it to go away.  Since I’m still training, I won’t be resting completely, but every little bit helps.

Also, a tragedy has struck my house…

MY TOFU PRESS DIED!!!

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!

I love that thing so much, it’s incredible.  There is always a block of tofu in my fridge, pressing away.  And now I can’t!  Part of the lid snapped, and now I can’t lock it down to press anything.

I’m so sad.

For now, I borrowed my friend’s press.  Anybody want to get me a new one?  I don’t think I can survive without it.

EDIT: The more I pay attention to it, I don’t think it’s my plantar fasciitis coming back.  I think I just pulled a muscle in my foot from hobbling around all weekend.  All the same, I’m still stuck on the couch with an ice pack.  Boo.  Although, I’d rather take a pulled muscle.

Stop the presses!  I have found the most amazing ice cream recipe on the planet.

Yesterday, I was wandering around town, and on a whim, I decided to go into the library.  I spent a while puttering around and ended up coming out with seven books.

Whoops.

One of those books was “The Vegan Scoop” by Wheeler Del Torro.

Of course, I couldn’t resist, so I then immediately went to the grocery store to grab some soy creamer (I don’t drink coffee, so I never have creamer at home.  Also, I hate the taste of coconut, so coconut creamer is a no-no for me).  When I got home, I grabbed our ice cream maker (hooray for wedding presents!) and got to work.

Of course, being me, I HAD to start with the Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl ice cream.  Duh.

By the time it was done churning, I needed to go to bed, so I popped it in the freezer and went off to dream about amazing vegan ice cream that was unlike anything I had ever tasted before.  I’ve always been just a TAD disappointed with vegan ice cream.  So my hopes were high.

First thing this morning, I pulled it out of the freezer to check the texture – it looked perfect!

It’s a beautiful summer day, and I figured delicious ice cream would be a great way to finish off my lunch.  But I was really just too excited to wait until dinner.  🙂

So I scooped…

It was creamy.  It scooped like magic.

I resisted the urge to pile tons of it into a huge bowl and devour it all in one sitting.

I even managed to contain myself long enough to take a picture!

And then I dove in.

After the first bite, I think I was in love.  I had to stop and just close my eyes for a second to enjoy the flavor.

It was rich.  It was decadent.  It was creamy and smooth.

It was bliss.

It was gone in ten seconds.

I can’t wait to make another one!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Ice Cream from “The Vegan Scoop”

  • 1 cup soymilk
  • 2 tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 1 cup soy creamer
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  1. Combine the arrowroot powder with 1/4 cup of the soymilk.  Set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, mix remaining soymilk, creamer, sugar, cocoa, and chocolate chips.  Melt the chocolate over low heat.  Remove from heat as soon as it begins to boil.
  3. Add in the arrowroot mixture and vanilla.  This should cause the mixture to thicken.
  4. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.  Once chilled, follow the directions on your ice cream maker to freeze.  Add in peanut butter in the last few minutes of freezing.
  5. Devour!

I feel like I’ve been so sporadic lately!  My summer work is officially done as of yesterday and now it’s time to train, train, train.  This summer I taught a 5 week class, and then did a 5 week research program with one of my students.  Now I still have lots of work to do, but no set meetings so everything is very flexible.

I’ve been starting to get back into cooking again.  It was hard for a while because we bought the house and moved, everything was a mess, and the kitchen was pretty empty for a while there.  But as of today we’ve been in the house for four months, and we’re feeling pretty settled.  Things are clean(ish) and the kitchen is stocked(ish), and I’m ready to get back into the kitchen and try new recipes.

Over the last couple days I’ve made some great dinners straight out of Veganomicon.  I love that cookbook so much.  Everyone should have a copy in their kitchen.

Dinner #1:  Greek-style Tomato-Zucchini Fritters with Fresh Herbs and Mediterranean-style Cashew-Cucumber Dip and green beans

These. were. AWESOME.  After his first bite, my husband said he thought it was the best vegan meal he had ever had (thus far…).  He then polished off his plate and ran back into the kitchen for more.  I decided to bake them instead of fry.  They still came out great. (recipe)

Dinner #2:  Broccoli-Millet Croquettes with Grilled Asparagus

The fritters were my husband’s favorite vegan meal…  Until I made these two nights later.  I was going to make them with the Dill-Tahini Sauce (Isa and Terry also suggest White Bean Aioli, but I’m a sucker for dill), but realized I was out of tahini after it was too late.  They were still awesome just on their own.  I can’t wait to try them again with the sauce! (recipe)

On the training side of things, I went for a run with one of my coworker friends yesterday.  He’s 6’4″ and his legs are about twice the length of mine (I’m only 5 feet tall), so I was pushing faster than I would on a normal run – and it was great!  I liked running with him because it made me push myself (speed-wise) beyond what I would do alone.  We ended up doing 6 miles at a 9:15/mile pace.  The first four miles were actually around 9:00/mile, but I slowed down a little for the last two.

This weekend I’ve got a 16 miler to do.  It’s been terrible here lately with crazy heat, but things seem to have cooled off a bit.  I hope it lasts through the weekend!  I don’t handle heat well at all.

On top of the running, I finally got a road bike!  Wohooooo!

Mine is silver and blue, but you get the idea.  It’s a Specialized Dolce 48cm.  So far, I love it!  Until a few weeks ago, I’d been riding a mountain bike with slicks, and it was ROUGH.  But this thing is like riding on air!

I should be calling it a night though.  My sleep patterns are all out of whack and I really need to get back to normal.  I hope you are all having a fantastic summer so far!

My birthday is next week, so I wanted to take a minute to look back on my 27th year – it was a good one.

This past year I made a few HUGE changes to myself and my life…

  1. I ran my first marathon, and then my second.
  2. My husband and I bought our first house.

And just because it was awesome…  I went to New Zealand for three weeks.

I have a lot of things in store for my 28th year.  I want to push myself to continue to improve and grow as both an athlete, and as a cook.  I always like to make goal lists.  There’s something nice about seeing things written out right in front of you.  So here’s some things I’d like to do in this upcoming year:

  1. Complete marathon #3 – I’m currently training hard for a second pass at the Adirondack Marathon this September.  I loved that race so much last year and I can’t wait to run it again!
  2. Complete The New Rules of Lifting for Women program – I’m almost done with stage 1, and I’m loving it so far!
  3. Complete my first triathlon – I’ve been swimming and biking a lot in addition to my marathon training, and this coming spring, I plan on completing some triathlons.  Eventually, I’d love to complete a half Ironman and an Ironman.  I’ll get there someday!
  4. Cook my way through Veganomicon – One of my favorite cookbooks, and a “must-have” for any vegan.  It contains 242 recipes (yes, I just sat there and counted the whole table of contents), which I should be able to get through within the year (yes, very “Julie and Julia,” minus the dairy, veal, killing of lobsters and whatnot).  I LOVE everything that Isa and Terry make – I wish they would come be my friends who would cook for me every day!  I’ll start the day after my birthday and go from there.

So, 27, you’ve been good to me.  It’s been a great year.  I’m looking forward to the next one.

Now, I’m off to the midnight showing of Harry Potter!  WOHOOOOOO!

It’s my veganiversary!  It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year since I made the switch from vegetarian to vegan.  I’ve been in a real food rut since we moved into the new house at the beginning of April (empty fridge + house projects = no motivation to get groceries and toast with peanut butter for nearly every meal).  But now seems like the perfect time to shake up my diet and try out some new recipes (and some old favorites, of course).  When I first went vegan a year ago, I was so excited by all the great foods I was discovering.  It’s time to rediscover that excitement.

I’ve felt inspired over the last few days to start incorporating some more beauty into my life.  Everything has been very hectic over the last couple months with moving and setting up the new house, and then house projects getting underway.  Many things have fallen by the wayside.  But now I have a nice camera (thanks mom and dad!!!) and a house that actually has WINDOWS so there’s lots of natural light!  So I think it’s time to start incorporating a bit more food porn into my blog.  I know I really need to work on my photography, so it will be a learning experience.  Bear with me.

So I’ve been exploring vegan food for one year… Here’s my favorite resources thus far:

Blogs:

Websites:

Cookbooks:

I would make a list of my favorite recipes, but there’s been so many it’s hard to narrow it down.  So here’s just a couple of the all-stars.  These are things that have made their way into our regular dinner rotation:

And of course, some treats:

I’ve spent a year exploring vegan food so far and I have absolutely loved it.  I’ve been surprised (initially) and thrilled with all the exciting foods that suddenly appeared in my world.  Going vegan made me, a formerly VERY picky eater (just ask my mom), open my mind and try all sorts of things that I would never have touched in a million years.  I’ve discovered lots of new favorite foods, and a few that I just plain don’t like (if anyone can make me like celariac, you win).  I’ve really enjoyed my first year exploring vegan food, and I’m looking forward to many more!

Or should I say yum yum?

We are about to get blasted with snow!  The little kid in me is extremely excited.  I figure, as long as I don’t have to go anywhere, big snowstorms are really fun!  On my way to work today I was listening to the weather report on the radio and they’re predicting somewhere in the range of 2+ feet for us.  When I heard that, I decided that it’s just not worth trying to drive in to work tomorrow, so I canceled my classes for Wednesday and Thursday.  (They are the same class, so if one day is canceled, the other has to be canceled too.  It’s a little present for the Thursday folks.)  I’m calling it a preemptive strike.  After teaching my classes for the day, I headed home and dug out all our flashlights and batteries just in case we lose power tomorrow from all the heavy snow.

Tonight’s meal plan called for the PPK‘s tempeh “crab” cakes – a much-loved standby in our house.  But I am nearly out of veganaise (a tragedy in our house), and not about to go outside to get some.  I actually plan on staying inside until Thursday morning, thankyouverymuch.  So I decided to make Thursday’s dinner a little early – an adaptation of Sweet Chili Lime Tofu from Vegan YumYum.

The recipe calls for quinoa and collard greens.  However, I had a pathetic amount of quinoa left and no collard greens.  So it was orzo and spinach for us!  It came out great.  I have no idea how it would taste with the quinoa, but I absolutely loved the orzo.

Definitely a make-again recipe.  I enjoyed watching my husband scrape every last bit of food off his plate.  That’s always a good sign.

In other news, we put an offer in on a house tonight.  Hooray!  We’ll see what happens…  Keep your appendages crossed.  🙂

I’ve been going through a very strange transition process for the last few days.

I’m heading off to New Zealand next Sunday for three weeks.  I’ll be starting my Ph.D. fieldwork and spending a lot of time out in the middle of a very beautiful nowhere.  However, I have absolutely no idea what my food situation is going to be like.  I don’t know where the food is going to be coming from or what it’s going to be, or how much say I’ll have in what we bring out with us.  And I won’t know until I get there.

I realized this about two weeks ago, and was immediately concerned about what I would do if the only foods available contained eggs or dairy.  I can’t expect the people that I am working with to go out of their way to find vegan-friendly foods.  I’m sure vegetarian wouldn’t be a problem, but I can’t expect them to cater to my vegan-ness.

So rather than having my first experience with dairy or eggs in many, many months be when I’m out in the middle of nowhere at my field site, I decided to slowly incorporate some non-vegan foods back into my diet starting this week.  And let me tell you, it’s been weird.  It’s very strange to knowingly reach for something that contains butter, or milk, or sour cream, and so on.  But I’m making a point to have one small non-vegan food item per day just to get my body used to that stuff again.  And to prevent any unpleasant reactions to whatever I may end up eating while I’m in New Zealand.

I guess the way I would describe my current food scenario would be vegetarian, but choosing vegan as much as I can.  It’s hard to make that switch.  I love the way I feel since going vegan.  But I honestly have no idea what’s in store for me when I get to New Zealand and I really want to make sure I’m okay eating non-vegan foods again, just in case.

So it’s a time of transition.  I will still be choosing mostly vegan foods, however, there are a few non-vegan (but still vegetarian) ones mixed in there once in a while.

And now that I feel like I’ve failed and let people down, here’s a whopper of a vegan recipe from Angela:

Vegan Pumpkin Pie Pecan Cinnamon Rolls (AKA: Heaven on a plate)

Rather than typing it all out, I’ll just link you to Anglea’s recipe PDF.

My notes (what I learned/adapted from my test run and again on Christmas morning):

  • This recipe made more than I could fit in one casserole dish, so I doubled the amount of pan sauce, and used two casseroles.
  • Rather than using dental floss to cut the rolls (I did that for my test run and lost a lot of the filling when it squeezed out the sides), I flattened out the dough, spread on the earth balance and the pumpkin pie filling, and then cut everything into 1.5″ strips using a pizza wheel.  Then I sprinkled on the pecan cinnamon streusel filling and rolled them up individually.  It worked well.
  • Make sure you don’t cut your rolls much thicker than 1 to 1.5″.  Any thicker than that and they’re ridiculous and won’t cook all the way through.
  • I ended up baking them for an extra 10-15 minutes (on top of the 27 minutes called for in the recipe).  I don’t know if my oven just isn’t as warm as it says it is, or what, but I found that with an extra 10-15 minutes, they were cooked all the way through.  After just 27 minutes, the bottoms were still raw dough.
  • The rolls come out HUGE.  Neither myself or my husband was able to get through a whole one this morning.  It’s definitely good to split one!
  • These puppies are AMAZING.  They are very labor intensive, but soooooo worth it.  Bring these to a party and people will love you forever.  (I brought them to my friend’s house for Christmas lunch and her whole family was picking at them.  I was told to leave the whole pan.)

Need to contact me?

geonerdette at gmail dot com

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