Changes

May 22, 2011

My black Friday vegetarian project ended on January 1, 2010.  Since then, I moved to Portland and had every intention of continuing on with this blog.  However, shortly after moving to Portland, I started eating meat again.  I felt like a fraud writing a blog with the word “vegetarian” in it while slurping down clam chowder and oysters on the half shell. Therefore, my postings became few and far between and eventually my blogging subsided.

But my little vegetarian experiment wasn’t a complete loss.  Going completely veggie for months at a time made me more conscious about exactly what I was eating.  When I cut out the meat, I ended up eating more vegetables and fruit.  I’ve incorporated this habit into my eating regime now that I’m omnivorous again.  I also eat less meat.  In fact, when I am cooking at home, I almost always cook vegetarian meals. When I do eat meat, it is usually while eating out or on special occasions.  Now that I’m back to eating meat, I also am more conscious about the source of my meat.  In most cases, I try to eat meats that are local and humanely raised.

I want to continue writing about my food adventures in Portland even though I am technically omnivourous again. Therefore, this blog is changing a bit and instead of vegetarian blog, it is now a blog about good food and my life in Portland.

So to honor the new direction here are a few of my Portland favorites:

Farm Fresh Eggs

I used to buy the cheapest eggs that I could find at the grocery store, but after getting a little more socially conscious I bought only organic.  Now, after going veggie and living in Portland for a year I only buy local, free range, organic eggs. Lots of people keep chickens in the greater Portland area, so fresh eggs are easy to come by. When I can’t buy farmers market eggs, I buy eggs from Phoenix’s Egg Farm.  They are farm fresh and taste amazing.  And look, blue eggs!

Fresh Urban Herb Garden

Cooking with fresh herbs is delightful, but can also get expensive.  Now that spring has sprung, I planted this little garden on my balcony.  Spicy basil, sweet basil, Italian parsley, and chives are now only six steps away from my kitchen.  The sweet basil is having a rough time though 😦

Amazing Restaurants

My boyfriend Ben and I love to eat out and Portland is an amazing town for foodies. The last restaurant we checked out was Clyde Common.  Clyde Common is a European style  tavern in downtown Portland that uses locally sourced ingredients in their menu.  I feel good knowing that what comes out on my plate is “happy” food.  Check out our appetizer of broccoli raabe with salted pistachios, Clyde Common ham, and a Scotch egg on top. My main course was arugula papardelle with beef sauce and goat cheese, while Ben had a shoulder of lamb with peas, mushrooms and orzo pasta. So delish.

Festivals

Food, wine, and beer festivals are commonplace in Portland.  Whenever the price is right, I love to attend and try something new.  The last one we attended was the Astoria (remember the movie Goonies?)  Food and Wine festival.  Willapa Bay Oysters and Oregon Pinot Noir…amazing!

The View

How can you not love this city?

What is your favorite food location in your home city?

After making the grand journey to Portland, my cupboard was quite bare.  And since I’m only doing walking trips to and from the grocery store (It’s only 3 blocks away, I have some issues with driving there).  So when Galaxy Granola sent me some delish samples to try, I was more than excited to add some food to my house. 

The only problem: No milk.

How does one properly review granola with no milk? 

Solution: Galaxy Granola-meal.

 

1 serving galaxy granola

¼ cup water

½ banana

 1 tbs all natural peanut butter.

Add water to the granola in a microwave safe dish and nuke for 45 seconds.  Then add pb and banana and stir.  I really liked it, and it’s the perfect for cold, dreary, Portland mornings. 

 Galaxy sent me three samples of their low fat, fruit based granola (They use applesauce instead of oil).  I really enjoyed the vanilla almond and orange cranberry (OK, I couldn’t keep my hands of the vanilla almond), but I thought the not sweet vanilla was just ho hum. On the whole, I would say try this, it’s good!  Plus, you’re keeping yourself away from all the fat and un-natural ingredients found in other brands of granola, and really able to say you’re “kinda granola”.

Superbowl Sunday Snackies

February 10, 2010

Hello Long Lost Readers,

Too much has happened in my life over the past few months which has consequently kept me out of the blogging world. Work, work, work, and more work and oh, yes, a move to Portland!  As soon as the move is all done and I’m settled again I’ll make sure to get back on with the blogging and healthy cooking train! 

Right now my refridgerator has been cleared for the move and only contains ketchup and old individual packages of soy sauce that I stole from my parents house with my ex-boyfriend last summer.  So, I really think it goes without saying that I haven’t been cooking that much lately.  I’ve mostly been spending my Whole Paycheck at the Whole Foods salad bar.  However, two weekends ago I did get a bit creative in someone else’ s kitchen and last weekend I got pretty crafty in my family’s kitchen for Superbowl Sunday.  I would like to admit right here right now, that I probably watched 2 minutes of the Superbowl, and then ended up watching about 5 hours of the “To Catch a Predator” Marathon instead.   

If you’ve been reading this blog or know me at all, you already know that I love skiing.  I love the fresh mountain air, I love the rush of adrenaline I get while doing a black diamond, I love the speed, I love the burn in my legs. I love everything about it.  I usually get up to the mountains every weekend and sometimes on Friday or Monday’s if the snow is really falling.  But with my work obligations, my ear surgery (no elevation climbs for a month!), and my move in the works, I’ve only been up the hill a total of three times this season :(. 

After a day of skiing I’m usually so hungry and so depleted that I end up snacking on whatever presents itself in front of me!  Potato chips seem to always be the victim, but bread, cheese, beer, or an occasional jager bomb have been known to slip past my lips.  This season, it has been my goal to really see skiing as any other sport and fuel myself like an athlete before and after I go.  So, after starting on the Doritos wagon on Superbowl Sunday I decided jump right off and use my Sunday, sore legs and post ski day snack craze to fuel a healthy cooking bonanza!

First on the list was  my newly created broccolini, baby bella mushroom pizza with chevre and feta cheese.  The trick to this pizza is to sautee the broccolini in HOT garlic olive oil before you put it on the pizza, then bake the pie with the rest of the raw ingredients per the directions of the crust dough (usually at 450 for 20ish minutes).  Look how beautiful it turned out, and it tasted even better!

I wish I could take credit for the next creation, but I can’t.  I got this amazing black bean brownie recipe while perusing Runnerskitchen.com  The recipe uses black beans in the place of butter, eggs or oil.   I’m always a little bit skeptical of healthy alternatives….I mean sometimes they don’t taste half bad, but they never taste as good as the original, right?  Wrong, these fiber packed, moist brownies were fully of chocolately goodness.  Even my dad liked them!!!

Cabbage for dinner?!?!?

December 27, 2009

I have a confession…

I’ve been getting really bored as a vegetarian, and hence eating things that are vegetarian, but aren’t necessarily great for you. 

Exhibit A: mom’s homemade biscuits with butter and honey.
Exhibit B: the box formerly known as wheat thins
Exhibit C: Brie cheese – lots of it.

When I started this challenge on Black Friday, it was just about cutting out meat just to see how it made me feel. Less than one week is left in the challenge and, despite getting a little bored, I can honestly say that I will continue as a vegetarian into the foreseeable future.  I feel amazing, more energetic, happier, and “cleaner” .  Before my surgery, my running times were improving, I was sleeping better and I even lost 5 lbs!  So now that I know vegetarianism has had a positive impact on my life, I can’t help but wonder – what else can I do to improve? 

My answer: cut out the processed crap, (white flour, refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and all of those lovely names at the back of the package that you really do need to take an advanced chemistry course to understand) and focus on eating whole foods.

So my next challenge is to focus on eating naturally and more holistically.  Unfortunately, I am completely uncreative and I need some ideas to prevent me from eating brown rice with broccoli every night.  I asked a friend about the best cook books out there and I was lead to Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson.  While ordering the book, I got stuck on  http://www.101cookbooks.com and couldn’t help but to stay there for 2 hours awhile.  I think I’m a little obsessed.

So after spending 2 hours on this website during the wee morning hours, I think it is safe to say that I got some great ideas for my veggies. I have had this head of cabbage in my fridge for a good week now and I just had no clue what to do!  I bought it at the farmers market because I know that red cabbage is amazing for your body and packed full with vitamin C, calcium, and flavinoids.  Some studies even suggest that eating red cabbage may reduce the risk of breast cancer, lung cancer, and colon cancer. 

Great, but how the heck to you cook it?!?!?!?!

With some ideas from 101 cookbooks, and some of my own interpretations/changes ( I didn’t have all of the ingredients) I turned my farmers market cabbage into this amazing warm red cabbage salad with toasted walnuts and feta cheese.

YUM!!!!  I can’t wait for my cook book to come in the mail!!!

After dinner, I was feeling super ancy.  I am still less than a week post-op and can’t exercise or “strain” myself.  My solution:  Instead of laying on the couch feeling sorry for myself and watching Law and Order SVU, I walked on the treadmill for an hour and felt sorry for myself while watching Law and Order SVU.

 I really need a light at the end of the tunnel. Does anyone have a good California/Oregon trail race they can suggest to me for February?  What about a good spring backpacking trip or hike? It will really give me something to look forward to when I am cleared to run again!

Three days ago, I went under the knife. 

After years and years of childhood (and adulthood) ear infections, the bones of hearing in my left ear (in my case the incus and the stapes bone) became so heavily degraded they were no longer functional.  Consequently, the hearing in my left ear has been pretty crappy for the last, oh, 15 years .  So after quite a few consultation appointments, a vacation day for skiing, and an early morning conference call (8 am with no breakfast or coffee), I was admitted into the hospital to undergo my ossicular chain reconstruction surgery at 10am on Wednesday.

The doctor told me to save 5 days for recovery.  I secretly scoffed at this…COME ON, it’s an EAR.  Just this tiny little thing on the left side of my head.  How bad could it hurt?  I was even kind of put off by having to be anesthetized for the whole procedure. Again, COME ON! I’m seriously hard core, I climb mountains, ski down big hills , and I’m a distance runner. I’m tough, could surgery on my tiny little ear really hurt that bad?

Yes.

After waking up from the surgery I vaguely remember my doctor stopping by to tell me that things inside my ear looked “interesting” and that he cleared out all the scar tissue and replaced not one, but two of my bones with prosthetics. After he left, the nurse asked about my pain level and I literally said this:

“I climb up mountains, and run marathons and I’m in pain.  That means I must really be in pain”  She shot something into my IV and the world got warm and fuzzy. 

When I got home, I had to put something into my stomach so I could take my antibiotics and pain pills.  I started off with a saltine cracker and was met with serious discomfort.  This was the beginning my education on how much you actually activate your middle ear on a daily basis.  Chewing hurts, swallowing hurts (partially from being intubated during surgery), burping, sneezing, yawning, everything hurts my ear. Turns out those two little babies on the side of your head do just about everything.

With chewing out of the question, my parents offered me some soup from the pantry.  I really, really didn’t want to  break my vegetarian stint with something that came out of a can.  The next few hours were a little hazy for me, but when I woke up my dad presented me with 5 types of Amy’s organic soups!  http://www.amys.com/products/category_view.php?prod_category=14. It was only December 23rd, but it was an early mini Christmas.  Since it was the most liquidy (good new word?) I opted for the butternut squash soup.  I didn’t take a picture because I was literally 1 hour home from the hospital and a little bit loopy.

A few days later (after I was cleared to eat dairy)I had the Organic Chunky Vegetable Soup with a dollop of greek yogurt.  I always hear that yogurt is great if you are on antibiotics because it replaces the “good bacteria” that antibiotics wipe out with the “bad bacteria”. 

I’m really thankful for Amy’s products for these reasons:

-If you are too tired/sick/busy to make your own food they provide a healthy option with very little fuss.  I was already a significant burden on my parents and they didn’t have to bother with cooking up my tofu, or making some type of soup with vegetable stock from scratch.

-You don’t have to go to the end of the world to find it.  I think my dad went to Safeway….http://www.amys.com/buy/store_list.php

– Even in my post surgical stupor, I could read and understand every word on the label without a degree in chemistry.

-Finally, and most importantly, they are PACKED full of flavor. Over the last two days I tasted the butternut squash, chunky tomato bisque, alphabet soup, and chunky vegetable soup. Each one was tasty, rich in flavor and texutre, and left me feeling warm and full.  Sometimes if it’s good for you it tastes like cardboard – not the case with Amy’s.

I’m up and about now, but things have been slow going.  Still on pain pills, so I’m not able to drive or stay awake longer than 4 hours.  Still pretty dizzy and my equilibrium is off, so I’m not able to be up for long.  My whole ear is still packed with whatever they packed it with after the surgery and I’m almost completely deaf in my left ear. 

Faithful readers, I’m really getting stir crazy. I can’t bend over, strain myself, lift anything, for two more weeks.  All I want to do is go to yoga or go for a run.  Also, the sweets in the house are calling my name….When the pain pills kick in I’m munching on baklava, wheat thins, white bread rolls with butter and caramel corn….which is bad for me (need more soup!!!).

I feel so lazy. Actually the choice word I used via text today was “lard ass”

So to keep me out of the Christmas sweet loot, I’ve been sleeping, reading cook books, doing the Christmas “thing” with the fam, and catching up on my episodes of Law and Order SVU. My big accomplishment yesterday was taking a shower and washing my hair.  Have you ever washed your hair without getting your ear wet?  check out my sexy bandage.  You know you want me.

 I wanted to publicly thank those friends who have been sending encouraging text messages (sometimes prompted by my whiney text messages).  Special thanks to Jamie who came over to my house on Christmas Day just to sit and visit with me and gave me a great cook book recommendation.

Now that I’m up, but still somewhat house ridden, I promise to be a better blogger!

Best Weekend Ever!

December 13, 2009

After my cowboy themed company Christmas Party I woke up Saturday morning (sore from riding the mechanical bull) and ready to start a fabulous weekend of friends, food, and fabuloucity!

After running some errands I got in my X-terra drove off to the South Bay to visit my friends Lindsay and Jeff.  After getting lost about 3 times, and driving around for about 3 hours I was STARVING.  I grabbed some leftover cheese pizza from Lindsay’s house and scarfed it down!  Then Jeff bought me and Linsday some great Gelato.  After saying our goodbyes, I drove up north to San Mateo.  After seeing my friends Yelena and Chris, and their new house, we drove up to San Francisco to have dinner with our friends Jamie, Bryan and Sara. 

At Jamie’s suggestion, we chose NOPA for dinner.  I was excited because I had heard rave reviews about the place and really wanted to try it.  NOPA(nopasf.com) is famous for making simple rustic dishes, using local and seasonal ingredients.  We didn’t have reservations, so a table for six was a two-hour wait.  We had a glass of red wine and noshed on some roasted squash with fried sage leaves and Giant white beans, with oregano, tomato, breadcrumbs and feta.  They were absolutely delish!

The service was so amazing. After sitting at the table the waiter directed all the vegetarians at the table to the Moroccan vegetable Tagine with Lemon Yogurt.  The dish was nothing I had ever tasted before.  It was dish that had garbanzo beans, broccoli, acorn squash, potato and kalmata olives in an amazing tomato sauce with a creamy, savory yogurt dolloped on top with a sprinkling of almonds.  The combination of flavors and textures was so exquisite!

The next morning I headed back into the city to have brunch with Sara.  Sara was my college roommate and the first vegetarian I ever met.  I used to always make fun of her for being a dirty vegetarian hippie…..now look at me!!!! Sara made this incredible omelet/scramble dish with leeks, zucchini, onion and mushroom.  We ate it with sprouted wheat toast and avocado on the side.

On my ride home from San Francisco, I couldnt stop thinking about the amazing dish that I had a NOPA, and the seasonal squash that I had for the appetizer.  I was so inspired that I pulled off the freeway at the Yolo Fruit Stand and picked up some tomatoes, acorn squash, and fingerling potatoes.  When I got home I went to work in the kitchen.

I started by slicing up the acorn squash and fingerling potatoes and laying them on baking sheet covered with olive oil.  I sprinkled the squash and potatoes with salt, garlic powder, pepper, dried basil, and brown sugar

After baking for about 2o minutes in a 400 degree oven, I put the cooked squash and potatoes into a cooking pan with a lid with 2 fresh chopped tomatoes, 1 can of fire roasted stewed tomatoes, and 2 sliced zucchini.  I put this mixture back into the over for about 10 more minutes with the lid on.

When it was all done, I served the mixture on top of salad with mixed greens, cucumber, feta cheese and almonds.  The mixture of warm and soft to cold and crunchy was such a fantastic combination……not quite as good as NOPA though!

I have a ton of leftovers, and I cannot wait to eat this again for lunch tomorrow. Did I mention that the pound of fingerling potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, and acorn squash cost me $7.50 at the fruit stand. So cheap!  Check out your local fruit stand or farmers market for fresh, cheap seasonal produce!

Weird, Yummy Soup!

December 13, 2009

I love Shirataki Noodles.  I had never tasted them before, but my friend Jamie at Ilikegranola.com posted the best looking noodles soup on her blog with these noodles so I just had to try something out myself.  Shirataki noodles are different from regular noodles because instead of being made from wheat flour they are made from a dietary fiber called Glucomann that comes from the roots of the Asian Konjac plant and tofu.

I couldnt decide if  I wanted to substitute the noodles for pasta and have spaghetti, or if I wanted to make some type of asian dish. With no real plan I decided on an asian dish. Shirataki noodles come fully cooked, and packed in water.  The water smells fishy and funny so I drained the water and rinsed the noodles and then set them aside.

To make my weird noodle soup I used

2 zucchini
1 package of Shirataki noodles
1 clove garlic
half a block of tofu
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs chili paste
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs vegetable stock powder
1/4 cup water
Olive oil

First sautee the garlic tofu and zucchini in a pan with some olive oil, after the zucchini becomes tender add in the tablespoon of chili sauce.  When the chili paste is fully mixed in, add in the pre rinsed noodles and vegetable stock powder. Stir a few times, then add the water.  Let simmer for about 2 minutes until the noodles are warm.

The final result looks like this, tastes spicy and delicious, and serves two……but I ate the whole thing!