Saturday, February 27, 2010

I'm Allison. I Love to Eat!

Gena at Choosing Raw most always has some sage advice to impart on the world.  And as a woman who would rather spend her time in her kitchen or at home editing than out partying it up in New York, she is someone I tend to look up to as a bit of a role model.  Gena posted a great blog about National Eating Disorder Awareness Week where she asked us:

"If this post speaks to you at all, I encourage you to echo this statement. Say it on your blogs, to a friend, in writing, or out loud–I like to eat. I enjoy food. Say it in your head, if you want to. Say it in private, or in public. But if it’s true–and I hope very much that it is–say it. Say it with pride. Our hunger makes us human."

As someone who loves to cook and bake and prepare foods, it is pretty safe to say that I spend a good portion of my time thinking about food.  I do not always eat the most healthy of foods but I try to live by a few simple guidelines that work for me that allow me to almost always feel like it is safe to say I love to eat!

1. I do not deny myself.  If I want something that is not the most healthy thing here is what I do:

  Ask why do I want it.  If it is a sugar, fat, carb sort of thing I usually give in.  If it is a comfort sort of craving I might debate why I want it or simply come up with a more healthy alternative.  Example; if I want something chocolaty, I might have some peanut butter and a handful of chocolate chips instead of baking brownies.
    If I do want something sweet or fried or semi unhealthy, I make it myself as much from scratch as possible.  There is nothing that weeds out whether or not a craving is really strong enough  like having to dirty a sink full of dishes and waiting 30 minutes to an hour to indulge.
    And finally I strive for balance.  If I eat 3 cookies today I can feel less guilty knowing that I also ate a kale salad or some roasted carrots and broccoli.  Not to mention that I did indeed feed my soul.

2.  I eat when I feel hungry.  This one is sometimes a struggle for me because even when I eat breakfast, a snack and lunch at work I still sometimes come home starving!  So I eat.  Also, sometimes this manifests in a different way.  Such as when I am on a kitchen marathon journey of baking and find that 4 hours has past and it 10 o'clock at night and I haven't eaten dinner and I'm just not hungry.  So I do not eat.

3. I do not fear foods or my body.  I may not be in the best shape (though it is debatable if I am not in the best shape of my life) but I am healthy.  I need to develop some more muscles and that is most definitely a fact, but in general I am healthy.  I do not worry how the foods I eat are going to affect my weight because I know that I have gotten to a point where I have good balance. 

No one is perfect but I am definitely perfectly content in saying that I love eating and I love food and not fearing those statements.

I hope you can join me in saying these simple phrases that contain so much power.

Thanks Gena!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Embrace Your Inner Consumer?

But generally only out of necessity, buy items of quality that will last, and whenever possible shop second hand.  I may not have adhered to my own advice in all of these purchases, but at least I try. 

I have 3 cats.  One of which (I'm not pointing any fingers...)
Has a love of scratching up carpet when he is locked out of a room.  I had temporarily fixed this problem by laying a piece of cardboard underneath our bedroom door to keep him from reaching the carpet.  Unfortunately that was only one of the bedrooms and I realized that he has been getting at the other door as well as a spot next to our heater.  In the interest of saving our security deposit and keeping our house from looking like it is infested with cats (which it sort of is) I decided to get some rugs to cover the spots.  I only went into a Khols for the first time a few months ago and since Mervyns closed before Xmas last year (or was that 2 years ago...?) it has sort of become my go to department store when department stores are needed.  I don't particularly care for department stores and would much prefer to shop in more neighborhood stores, but outside of the realm of food shopping I am quite unknowledgeable about where to get things.  I blame it on growing up in too big a city.  If anyone knows some good places to shop for pretty much anything in San Diego I would appreciate the info.  Particularly clothing and kitchenware although as I'll get to in a moment, I did find a decent second hand clothes store a couple weekends ago.  But back to my shopping trip.  The first thing I saw?

Can you tell why I fell in love with these rugs instantly and had to have them?  It's like they were designed for me.  The only thing that would have been more perfect is if they had had one of these as well.
While at Khol's I couldn't help but peruse the kitchenware and pine over the many gadgets and gizmos I did not need and could not afford.  But then I happened upon a sale on something I have wanted since the very first time I saw the infomercial for it.  That's right:
The Magic Bullet!

I had debated for quite some time on whether or not this purchase would be worthwhile.  Finally, after Katie talking about hers all the time I asked her if she thought it was worth it to have.  She told me that she uses it just about every day.  That topped with the fact that it was on sale and since I was making so many purchases I figured I would open a Khol's cc and get 20% made it a great buy. 

So far I have only used it to make salad dressing and an attempt at a smoothie that wasn't so great but I can't wait to use it to make fudge babies!

The clothing store that I mentioned above is apparently so new that it is not listed on google and even in google maps when I pull up the building it is a for rent sign.  Haha.  The address I believe is around 8270 La Mesa Blvd and hopefully I will be heading back there and can report the name when I do.  I found this shop to be so much different than my usual second hand clothes shopping which was always way over worn clothes with holes.  These clothes were in top condition and the jeans I bought were in fact brand new with original tags still on them.

Regardless of the fact that I do not care so much for the bedazzled look, these jeans fit me incredibly well which was my whole goal.  I also got a shirt and a dress that I am not sure I have anywhere to wear but I loved it.

And now, since this is me we are talking about, I leave you with some good eats from the past couple of days.
Tofu scramble with spinach and hash browns.  Sadly the hash brown was a bit too oily for my stomach.

The most surprisingly good meal.  Remember the kale I was talking about?  Monday night I mixed it in with some mashed potatoes and added some mustard.  This along side a homemade black eyed pea burger and some roasted veggies was soo good I repeated it for dinner again last night.

Till next time!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Home Made Chocolates


When I went to All Vegan a few weeks ago you may remember that I picked up some vegan marshmallows.  Ever since then I had been dreaming of recreating my favorite See's candy:


Last weekend I went to Micheal's and bought this brownie candy mold:
Then I failed to have the ingredients necessary to make caramel and decided that it wasn't really worth it to try.  So I put away the mold and decided to use it later to make peanut butter cups.

Well, yesterday was later.  First I lined the molds with melted dark chocolate.
I then stuck them in the freezer to harden up.  

Once the shells were hard I filled half of them with my marshmallows and the other half with my crunchy peanut butter that I ground myself at the People's market last weekend.  I stuck these back in the freezer for a few minutes to harden up the peanut butter.
Then I covered them to the top with more melted chocolate and returned them to the freezer one last time.

They turned out fabulous!  Apart from a few of the shells not being thick enough and cracking upon removal from the mold this was a major success.
I toyed with the idea of wrapping them individually in foil and bringing them to work to give as samples and then trying to sell them later on, but the amount of work and the cost of the raw materials that went into them was not so very cost effective and also the chocolate has a tendency to melt a bit.  I am going to tinker with it another time and see if I can get it more stable.  Meanwhile, here is what they would have looked like.

Perhaps I will try again if a special occasion arises.  I also made some larger, more traditional peanut butter cups using my silicone cupcake molds.

These are the definition of decadence and I don't condone eating a whole one in one sitting.  Next time I might try to fill the cups less to make them smaller. I also did six of these using almond butter which was a bit runny and they didn't set up quite right.  They all cracked when I took them out of the cups.  They are still delicious but a bit messy.  As for the chocolate covered marshmallows?  Oh my god.  I am keeping these frozen in an attempt to ration them.  The marshmallows themselves are delicious but when combined with dark chocolate, I take it back, that is the definition of decadence.

One more idea I thought of but decided to leave for another day, is to replace the peanut butter and marshmallows in the chocolate shells with ice cream.  Particularly this ice cream from Purely Decadent (notice a trend here?):

Imagine chocolate covered vegan ice cream.  Nom.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Having made my very own home made vegeroni the only logical next step was to make pizza.  I have had some debacles with making my own dough in the past and ever since I saw Shelby use dough from Trader Joe's, it has been my go to pizza dough.  Someday I may perfect the art of making my own dough, but for now TJ's does an excellent job.

I bought two different doughs so I could make a non vegan pizza for my boyfriend and a vegan one for myself.  I decided to try out the garlic and herb dough for myself and compare the gluten stretchability to the whole wheat dough I would use for the BFs.

I have to say, I definitely like the gluten in the non whole wheat dough better.  I have a bit of an internal struggle when it comes to whole wheat in things like pizza dough.  Ideally I would eat everything "whole wheat" but when it comes to whole grains being healthier I really think that more applies to eating rice and barley and bulger and not so much flour.  I just don't really think flour is all that nutritious no matter which way you slice it unless you personally take a whole grain (rice, wheat, etc) and grind it up yourself.  And since I don't make pizza all that often, I don't feel so guilty using non whole wheat dough.  There, I said it.  

Flour type aside, this attempt at pizza making almost made me never want to make pizza again!  I have a sort of pizza stone and I try to use a cutting board as a pizza peel.  I sprinkled my cutting board with cornmeal and then assembled my boyfriend's pizza and tried to slide it onto the preheated stone.  This resulted in the pizza dough not wanting to budge but the toppings wanting to slide right off.  After trying every which way I could think of to get the pizza off the peel and onto the stone, I finally managed to get it to somewhat lift and slide resulting in some lost toppings and some flipped over crust.  Seriously, I considered not even making my pizza and never making pizza again.

It came out relatively well considering and I did decide to have a go at my own.  To save myself the trouble of trying to slide the pizza I decided to make it directly on the stone and not to preheat it.  This worked relatively well and restored my faith in my pizza making abilities.

In the end we had two not so aesthetically great but delicious pizzas.  Seriously, this vegeroni is incredible!

Sauce, mozzarella and vegeroni.
Spinach, sauce, vegeroni, kalamata olives and half topped with a sprout, bell pepper, tomato, carrot and radish salad I had.

After that I still had some vegeroni left so I decided to make pizza one more time last night to use it all up.  This time there were less disasters but still not pizza perfection.  I think I used too much sauce because my crust was a little soggy and not so crisp in the middle.  Still delicious and I had leftovers for lunch today and have more for tomorrow.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

CSA Box #1

Today I picked up my first CSA box from JR Organics at the Hillcrest Farmers Market.  Every other Sunday I will return one of these:

And get one of these:

Curly Kale
Purple Carrots
Blood Oranges
Mineola Tangerines
Pink Lady Apples

I already had some kale, carrots and cauliflower from last weekend so I had to get busy.

I decided to make a vegetable soup.
I started out by slicing the leeks, some onion, carrots, garlic and a little bit of ginger and sauteing them in some oil.

Then I added some red cabbage and pequito beans I already had, the peas shelled, some more carrots, the beet greens, sorrel and the broccoli in large chunks.  I added a little dried parsley, paprika and salt and pepper.  Surprisingly, it turned out incredibly gingery.  It is still good but I didn't think I used that much ginger but it really took over.  Also the broth turned purple from the red cabbage which was totally cool.

Yesterday morning I went garage saling and found an estate sale with many kitchen gadgets.  I was lucky enough to find something I have wanted for a long time.

A citrus press!

With two full bunches of kale I thought it was a perfect opportunity to press some citrus and try out massaging kale.  Unfortunately the press is a little on the small side and so I had to quarter the lemon and lime instead of halve, but it worked incredibly well.
No juice left!

See this lime?  Looks innocent enough, right?  Wrong!  This lime has a peel that is tough as can be imagined and when I tried to cut it in half what happened?

The knife slipped and tried to cut off my fingertip!  Luckily, though I was panicking at the fact that I could have cut off my finger, my boyfriend was kind enough to wrap my wound (which thankfully was not that deep) in a Spidey bandaid and I was able to return to conquer that lime.
 Here is the kale earlier in the massaging process.  It is now quite a bit smaller and all dark green and tender.  I am still not sure what I am going to do with it all but I am thinking some sort of simple kale salad.  I guess I will figure that out tomorrow.  

Stay tuned for some home made chocolate peanut butter cups and pizza made with my home made vegeroni!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Shopping Day

Last Saturday I started my day with a big smoothie filled with banana, blueberries, pineapple and almond milk before I set off to do what I am dubbing to be a month or two's worth of grocery shopping.

After first running around town doing non food related errands, I went to the People's Market co-op in Ocean Beach where I became a card carrying member.  My first purchase was salad from their restaurant upstairs which I took to the beach to enjoy for lunch to fuel myself before the marathon of shopping I was about to embark on.

On the left is a pesto veggie salad, in the middle a raw seaweed salad and on the right is a marinated kale salad.  These were all really good.  I even ate all the mushrooms in the pesto salad even though I usually can't stand the texture of mushrooms.
When I returned to the market to commence my shopping I had a lot of fun looking through the aisles of a store that is completely vegetarian and so vegan friendly.  I bought a lot of bulk flours, grains, chocolate chips, raw cacao powder, nuts and seeds as well as some peanut butter that I ground fresh into my own reusable jar from home!

It is interesting because this chunky peanut butter is slightly dry but their is no oil separation and the taste is incredible!  They also sell bulk honey, canola oil, olive oil, agave and I think maple syrup.

Since I was already going budget crazy I decided to indulge in a couple of products I otherwise might not have.  I have a tendency to think that buying premade products is a waste of money since I can make things myself but I forget that sometimes that leads me to miss out on the expertise of other artisans.

This spread is sold at the farmer's market I go to and a few months back my friend had turned me onto it.  I was amazed at how great it tasted considering that garlic is the first ingredient.  I bought some to dilute and use as salad dressing.  It is long gone!

Refried beans are another purchase that I find difficult.  I love these beans.
But they have a fairly long ingredient list.  Generally I like my beans to be beans and water (making them not technically refried, but they do the job).  Recently though my boyfriend and I have fallen so in love with these beans that we don't want any others.  I guess it's not the worst thing we could be eating.  And at least they don't have lard in them like the ones from Costco which I didn't realize until after I had gotten the entire 15 cans home.  Le sigh.

Another purchase that I made that I am quite excited about is raw tahini!

Miss Katie has been talking a lot about this brand (though mostly in regard to their coconut products) and this was the best looking tahini they had at the store.  I really would like to try some more of the Artisana brand products but they are a little bit on the expensive side to go crazy buying all at once.

After I had purchased just about everything in the store, I loaded my canvas bags into my car and headed off to Costco.  A friend at work had told me about these vegan paties that they sold and I wanted to see what they were. 

These things are pretty much vegetables and a little flour.  I haven't tried them yet as I have so much fresh food in my fridge, but I am looking forward to the day when I need something quick and easy and I am all out of fresh food (gasp).

I also wanted to try out their giant bag of spinach.

I ended up giving about a third of this bag to my friend who helped my wash it all.  I used some in green smoothies, some in salads, some in a tofu scramble I made this morning and the rest is about to get steamed and frozen as I am getting my first CSA box tomorrow (more on this in a minute).
I also wanted to stock up on spaghetti since I had found really good deals on Muir Glen spaghetti sauce at Henry's and People's.  I am not the biggest fan of the nutrient quality of spaghetti but it is a fairly decent dinner on nights when I just don't feel like being creative.  Plus it is something my boyfriend can make if I really don't feel like being in the kitchen (like that ever happens).

Costco carries this organic whole wheat spaghetti that I find quite decent.

Oooh, I also got to witness a Vitamix demonstration while I was at Costco from a very enthusiastic salesman.  He told me that he always says if you don't think you can afford a vitamixer, put $1.50 in an envelope everyday and before you know it you will have enough to get one.  I have yet to start this envelope but I have definitely begun to analyze if I could ever justify the money.

After Costco I made 2 more stops but one of them resulted in nothing picture worthy.  A middle eastern grocery store near my house had recently been reopened after renovations.  I stopped by there thinking that it was an asian grocery store and hoping to get some agar flakes.  I was disappointed to not find agar but I did manage to find these:

I haven't quite figured out what I am going to stuff them with, or when, but I have high hopes.

After all this shopping I spent 3.5 hours with my sous chef my friend cleaning produce, baking cookies, cooking rice and beans, making hummus, a casserole and puppy chow.  Here you can see his payment (plus a thing of puppy chow and rice/broccoli casserole):
It was quite a day!  Sunday I joined JR Organics CSA and tomorrow I get my first bucket!  I am very excited but also a little worried because I have a ton of produce in my fridge currently.  Hopefully I can get some of it steamed and frozen tonight so I don't have to worry about any of it going bad.

Plenty more to show you so stay tuned!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Where to start?

 Ah yes, veggeroni!  While checking out a recipe from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen for some red cabbage and peas, something in the sidebar caught my eye.  Veggeroni!  I have not been the biggest fan of fake meats since becoming a vegan.  I try to incorporate more whole foods, especially vegetables into my diet instead of replacing meat and cheeses with wheat substitutes.  But there are some things that downright require substitutes (especially if your boyfriend is not a vegetable eater and likes the comfort of old favorites).  In my opinion pizza does not always require pepperoni, or cheese for that matter.  See Amy in regard to this:

This pizza was amazingly good FYI and I will probably be posting about that salad later!
But onto the veggeroni.  I had everything to make this except fennel seeds.  After my trip to the People's Co-Op I was all set to begin.

The recipe is amazingly easy.  Whisk dry.  Whisk wet.  Mix together.  Knead for a minute or two.  Roll into log, wrap in foil and bake.

I upped the red pepper just a little bit because I thought it would be better for it to come out a little spicy rather than a little bland.  It could have done without it but this stuff is amazing either way.  Ok, so it's not  really that close to real pepperoni but it is quite a bit better than this stuff:
And plus, I made it!  I know exactly what's in it.  I know how fresh it is.  And I don't feel so bad eating a slice of it with a little mustard all by itself.

Try this recipe!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

What a Weekend!

I finally transferred over, fixed up and named all my pictures from this weekend and last.  I have 56 pictures I want to blog about!  Oi, what joy to have so much to talk about, but I am not the wordiest of people.  I think I will leave you with a picture of my bounty and let that be it for the night.  Plenty of explaining and describing to follow in the coming days.  Meanwhile, if you were to check out this blog and get as excited about it as I did, you might find a couple of the recipes to accompany these pictures.


Oh, and definitely say hello to my new seagull friend.  I am calling him Fred.