Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Eating out in the wilds of suburbia

I had one of the best vegan meals I've gotten in a chain-type restaurant tonight at California Pizza Kitchen (CPK).  Surprising, no?

CPK even has a special section (PDF here) on their website to very clearly spell out which menu items are vegan (which helps clarify things for their serving staff too, so I don't have to!)

So tonight, my mom and I (both vegan) shared a grilled veggie salad and a veggie pizza (hold the cheese). We asked for the fat-free balsamic on the salad, which made it a much healthier choice at no cost to taste.

I'm a very happy diner - thanks CPK!!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Tasting is believing

Oh my delicious dinner, how I wish you were more photogenic because you are divine.  I was mostly following yet another Happy Herbivore recipe (a sweet potato bowl) but I only had a cold sweet potato (cooked) so decided to do it as a water saute instead.  I also added onion to the mix.

Sauteed 1/4 cup water, 1 cubed cooked sweet potato, half a diced onion, black beans (from can, rinsed), and spinach for about 5 minutes, added a dash of Bragg's liquid aminos and about 2 tablespoons of Sriracha hot sauce.

And wow.  Spicy goodness balanced with the sweet from the sweet potato and given earthy goodness with the spinach and onion.

I heart Happy Herbivore and here's why! Plus, ode to the chickpea.

If you're trying to figure out how to eat a healthful vegan way and keep it simple (and affordable), may I heartily recommend checking out the Happy Herbivore, a.k.a. Lindsey Nixon.  As she says, it's all "plant-based, low-fat and easy to make."  I can TESTIFY that this is true, but she undersells the YUM part.

She has several excellent cookbooks, a blog, and a 7-day meal planning tool you can buy online.  The planners have been seriously saving my tempeh bacon, I tell you.  I just download the PDF file each week and there are all the possible meals for the week, plus a shopping list for everything I'd need to make it all.  She offers plans for individuals or families of four.  I'm sure if you are cooking for two, you could easily just double everything on the individual plan.  It's seriously logical - the day after cooking up a dish, she often includes the leftovers in the next day's lunch.  She's thought it all through for you, including giving you tips on what items can be done in a "cook ahead of time" way, which I love to do on a Sunday so that my workdays are easier.

It's got me cooking up new dishes because they don't look daunting - and then once I've mastered them, it's easy to improvise my own changes.  I'm so relieved to be getting the hang of it with Lindsey's help. Someday I hope to meet her and give her a big old hug from my skinnier healthier arms.

Today's lunch is my riff on her Fat-Free Salsa Chickpea Lettuce Wraps.  I made the chickpea and salsa mixture a day ago and the flavors have mingled nicely.  I added avocado slices and lime and snapped this before I wrapped them, since it really looked a mess once wrapped!  But TASTY and filling.

And chickpeas!!  Also called garbanzo beans, these meaty little dudes are a saving grace when I want something solid and hearty.  They hold up to cooking and don't get soggy.  If you used to like to cook chicken or fish with a particular veggie or sauce, try that on your friend the chickpea and see what happens.

When I'm feeling highly lazy, I toss rice, water, vegan soup (Amy's makes some good ones) and chickpeas in the rice cooker.  This trick also works well with frozen or fresh spinach, chickpeas, rice and marinara sauce.  Yes, you probably will get a little brown, almost burnt area right at the bottom of the pot.  Some of us think that's the tastiest of all.

And since summer hasn't quite left the building (perhaps I'm in denial), don't forget good old-fashioned three-bean salad too.  

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Rabbit rabbit! It's Day One of Vegan MOFO!

September 1 says "welcome to a Vegan Month of Food (MOFO)!"  And I say back to it, "Rabbit, rabbit!"

Again I'm feeling grateful to live in under-appreciated Richmond, California (and not simply because I love both the underdog and a bargain).  Richmond may have its issues, but the local dog park (Point Isabel) is right on the bay and features a dog wash and cafe where vegans have lots of nice options.  The cafe is aptly named "Sit and Stay Cafe" and looks out over the park,  the water and, on a clear day, the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco skyline.
Vegan choices include the "Herbivore Salad" with greens, onions, tomatoes, cukes, hummus and avocado, a red bean soup, soy lattes (made with locally roasted Catahoula Coffee), and a veggie club sandwich (just ask for no mayo).  They also have a seitan "Reuben" that can be made vegan if you ask for "no dressing, no cheese."  

I had the the veggie club while my dogs were getting a bath at the adjoining "Mudpuppies" shop.  

I love these guys - always very friendly and accommodating.  It's also great people and dog-watching territory.  I'm surprised not to see more sketchbook-wielding artists out here, since it seems like a gold mine for "free candid models"!

This week, I lost a 1/2 a pound and made some more progress on getting my house organized and de-cluttered.  I am trying to remind myself of the "rabbit and the tortoise" story and not get frustrated with this pace.  My old frame of mind was that change needed to be dramatic and brag-worthy, but I'm sure that was mostly my ego (and id??) talking.  But the truth is, the steady and slow progress is the only thing that is working, so I need to just keep on keeping on.

I was feeling a lot of self-induced pressure to have my life look a certain way by mid-September when I turn 50.  Something about this big milestone freaked me right the eff out!   Now that I'm just a couple weeks from there, I'm realizing it's all going to have to be fine if I'm not 100 pounds lighter by then since it's just not going to be reality.  As those wise friends of mine in my 12-step program say, "It's progress, not perfection!"  I really love Kelly Clark's take on that message

Rabbit, rabbit indeed.  Or should I say, "Tortoise, tortoise!"

Friday, August 30, 2013

Berkeley Bowl, Trader Joe's and being happily imperfect

After living in places other than the San Francisco Bay Area, I have all new appreciation for the food choices here.  Feel super lucky to be able to get to a Trader Joe's and to Berkeley Bowl in about 15 minutes from home.

By the time I was wrapping up all my shopping, I was SO hangreh!  So I grabbed something relatively healthy, quick, totally vegan and super tasty - the Eggplant Wrap from Trader Joe's.  I took it easy on the tahini dressing, since that's the fat bomb on this - basically only used a third of it.  Still was delicious.

I'm sure raw broccoli for lunch would have been better, BUT still a vast improvement on my old routine, which was to drive through Burger King and get fries and a brownie sundae (yes, after buying kale at the market, of course!)  I am reminding of Doug Lisle's excellent insights on not trying to be perfect all the time in his "Continuum of Evil" DVD.

"Vegan Barbie" wrote up a nice recap of that DVD here: http://veganbarbie.blogspot.com/2011/02/douglas-lisle-dvd.html

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wabi sabi simple lunch for vegan telecommuter girls

So maybe it's cliche that as an over-educated artsy person, instead of just saying,"Hey, I burnt the toast", I instead claim it's all wabi-sabi, but HEY, I'm going to try to get away with it!  Just try and stop me!

I'm working from home today and SO glad it's an option, since they just closed a major bridge for the next 5 days so all the other roads are just parking lots.  I could have spent some time cooking up a complex lunch but I instead opted to take my adorable dogs out for a walk in the sun.  So for lunch today, we have this nice simple, delicious sourdough roll (burnt then scraped, ahem, wabi-sabi style), topped with avocado with fresh ground pepper and garlic salt, cherry tomatoes and a Granny Smith apple.  Yum!

The bread is probably not the best for my quest to reverse NAFL disease, but the rest of this is whole plant food awesomeness!  And it's all a far cry from onion rings and milkshakes.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hey! Vegan MOFO!

Hey, am I calling you a surly, impudent plant eater?  Why no!  I'm just alerting you that September is the Vegan MOnth of FOod!  I just signed myself up to write a blog post a day for this project and hope I can share some fun and/or insight into eating vegan AND being healthy about it.

I can safely call myself the poster child for the chapter in Dr. John McDougall's latest book, "The Starch Solution", titled "The Fat Vegan."  Ouch, but true.  Although it's been lovely knowing that the way I'm eating wasn't harming most animals, it certainly was harming this one animal named moi.  (As Miss Piggy might say.)

I'm keenly interested in reversing some upsetting health issues of mine (the most embarrassing of which is a fatty liver - yech, just the effin' sound of it is gnarly) and so have been getting more diligent about making my vegan diet a healthier one.  Have any of you been on this journey? What helped you?

I'm so grateful that there's plenty of delicious vegan food to celebrate along the road to health!

I'll keep you guys updated on my progress and share about what I'm finding helpful and not so helpful.  Please feel free to comment!