Thursday, September 30, 2010

"enjoy your vegans."

I really enjoy eating at vegan/vegetarian restaurants. The menu is much more creative and exciting. Different ingredients and combinations, it is almost impossible to choose. Nothing you would ever find at your local Applebee's (Couple's Retreat joke. Anyone??). Anyway....

Tuesday's Groupon featured a place called, Tree Hugger's Cafe. With me being on the hunt for vegan restaurants, I was easily persuaded to try them. The menu is huge and offers a bunch of different selections for meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. The atmosphere was that of a typical coffee shop or small bakery:

(quite cozy until I spilled my entire glass of water on my lap - sheesh)

My dinner consisted of a sampling of:

Sweet potato fries coated in a cinnamon sugar salt with a side of honey mustard (I didn't dip, honey is technically not vegan.)

A [coffee] cup of vegetable soup.

Black bean chimichanga with sweet potatoes, brown rice and a side of vegan mango salsa.

Everything was very good, but had a bit too much seasoning for my taste. Cinnamon overpowered the sweet potato fries and chunks in my chimichanga. A little goes a long way with such a strong spice.

With their support for local food, and use of organic/healthy ingredients - I will definitely make my way back.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

sushi and conflict.

I have been feeling on top of the world the last few days. This blog has already revealed a few great opportunities and rewards in its short run. I felt like I finally started to find my niche. Then it all came crashing down today.

You see, I don't talk about my food adventures with most face-to-face - especially those I work with. Today it came out, and today I felt more bullied than I ever have in my life.

"You're crazy."
"I could never do that."
"How are you even getting enough nutrition?"
"Do you never go out? You can't eat ANYTHING."
"You are not eating enough, how can you run?"

No wonder people fail. Apparently a person cannot change the way they live to better themselves, without being ridiculed and mocked.

I am angry. I am upset. I am disappointed. But I am NOT discouraged. Jealously will not discourage me. If anything, I will work even harder.

  • I've never felt better.
  • Skin is clearer, energy is high.
  • I am getting proper nutrients. Multivitamin along with extra calcium.
  • Although not the intended purpose - down 5 lbs. in one week.
  • There is plenty to eat when you go out. Choose wisely and ask for substitutions.
  • I no longer snack or eat out of boredom.
  • My temper is gone. My mom says I am much more pleasant, and I don't get aggravated like I used to. (Hmm, jumping to conclusions here - animal hormones make you a jerk)
  • Food cravings are non-existent.
  • Rarely tired.
  • On a meal-to-meal basis I don't need to eat as much as I used to.
  • And most importantly, I am more educated about food and nutrition.
Although I'm still agitated by the situation, I know I will move past and be stronger in the end.

Monday, September 27, 2010

fall festivals!

This past weekend CLE hosted a few very fun festivals, all right up my alley. 

The Cleveland Botanical Gardens presented RIPE! Food & Garden Festival. Celebrating local farmers and distributors, this was super fun for a foodie like myself!

Unfortunately, not many of the samples were vegan-friendly. Everything looked and smelled incredible though.

Some of the lovely gardens:

Food was had at the Great Lakes Brewery. It was Oktoberfest weekend!

Amongst the menu of pork schnitzel, potato pierogies, bratwurst, and cabbage was *sigh* a vegan burger...

Oh don't get me wrong, this was DELICIOUS buuuuuut the Hungarian side of me was aching to scarf down all those heart-stopping meats and cheeses. I allowed myself to have fries to make up for it : )

IngenuityFest 2010 is maybe the coolest thing I've ever been to. It was held under the Detroit-Superior bridge, in the old subway level. Yeah, that's right.

Over the bridge:

Under the bridge:

Sooooo cool! Hats off to the city for letting this space house the IngenuityFest this year. I couldn't think of a better venue for an art and technology festival. Brilliant I say, BRILLIANT.

Still think Cleveland's a drag??

Friday, September 24, 2010

black bean chili with butternut squash.

Hey Friday, nice to see you!

It has been a long and busy, yet uneventful week. Wish I had more to report, but I do have some fun things planned for this weekend. Keep an eye out Monday for a recap.

My dad came home from the hospital this week (yay!), and I've offered to help my mom out with the cooking. Since my parents aren't vegan or necessarily vegetarian, I wanted to find good hearty meals and still stay vegan/vegetarian. For my dad's new super-powered heart, I'm trying to incorporated a lot of heart healthy vegetables and fats.

After having a delicious vegan wrap from Tommy's (I had a picture but was deleted in my frantic Blackberry scrolling), I went home to cook Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard for dinner tonight. It looks gorgeous, and tastes surprisingly meaty.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed, drained
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 3 cups (packed) coarsely chopped Swiss chard leaves (from 1 small bunch)
Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic; sauté until tender and golden, about 9 minutes. Add squash; stir 2 minutes. Stir in chili powder and cumin. Stir in beans, broth, and tomatoes with juices; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in chard; simmer until chard is tender but still bright green, about 4 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle chili into bowls and serve.

I don't love onions, I probably only used a 1/2 cup chopped and I didn't have any chili powder (whoops), so i did a couple sprinkles of cayenne pepper. Eh, seemed to be okay.

With a chili or stew I seem to think making it the day before you plan on eating is best. It has time to macerate and thicken. Serve with some bread and go to town!

I'm sure my parents will be very happy tonight!

happy weekend!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

paper v. plastic

The age-old question, paper or plastic? Which one is actually better? Growing up I always thought plastic was the right choice, until our homes were overloaded with bags filled with bags stuffed in drawers and closets. What happens to them now?

Then we have the paper debate. Paper comes from trees, and we must save the trees! So, which is better - paper or plastic?

Both are equally terrible. They take the same amount of energy to produce, ship, and store. Paper cuts down trees, and plastic takes approximately 500-years to decompose. *sigh*

Thankfully, it is the 21st century and we have a third option. The reusable bag was introduced in 1977 as an alternative to plastic bags, but has only recently become popular. Many stores carry them to be purchased for a few dollars, and some do offer a cash credit every time you use your reusable bags. Here is a list of stores that have an incentive for bringing your own bags:
  • Whole Foods - 5¢ off your total or toward a local charity of your choice
  • Target - 5¢ off your total
  • Trader Joe's - an entry into their monthly drawing of a $25 gift certificate
  • Heinen's - 6¢ off for every $20 spent
  • Kroger - 5¢ off your total
  • CVS - Greenbagtag program. Buy a tag for 99¢ and attach to your bag, every time you shop have the cashier scan the tag and your Extracare card and you will receive a dollar every 4th visit. CVS will donate 5¢ to the World Wildlife Fund for every Green Bag Tag sold between April 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011.
  • IKEA - charges you 59¢ for every plastic bag you use.
Save money and the planet!

in other news...

Day three of my vegan challenge, and I am doing well. I will admit that it is a lot harder than my vegetarian challenge. I'm taking a lot of time to read labels and Google ingredients. I've successfully vegan'd at Chipotle and Starbucks (only after I investigated thoroughly : )

With the hectic-ness of my life this past week, I haven't had a normal schedule or the time to shop/cook/run/think. wahhh! So this is why I had the most random meal of my life last night. Furiously searching my kitchen for vegan foods, (finding old moldy things along the way) I settled on this:

Sweet potato fries, kosher pretzels with sesame seeds, carrots, and roasted red pepper hummus. Wasn't great, but got the job done. My hunger has significantly gone down, and my body wants food only for nourishment. That's impressive for such a short amount of time.

I shall keep you posted. Happy Wednesday!

Monday, September 20, 2010

three week vegan challenge.

Having this blog makes me accountable for my recent changes. Putting all of my goals and challenges out there pushes me to succeed. I don't want to write a blog about how I failed, and have all of you judge me. I don't want you to see me fail.

I will run a half marathon, I currently do not eat meat, and I will be healthy.

Today starts a new challenge. I will be a vegan (a strict vegetarian; someone who eats no animal or dairy products at all) for three weeks. Three weeks?! Yes, three whole weeks. No animal products, a diet full of simple whole foods.

My only concern: pizza. Oooh how I love pizza. I can survive 21 days without pizza, right?? When I start getting the detox pizza sweats and shakes, then I'll start to worry. Eek.

I am not going to rely on those vegan trick foods (tofurkey, vegenaise, cheese alternatives) either. Totally cheating, plus they are really expensive. I'm sure being vegan will cost a bit more than my usual diet, but without the cost of milk and eggs it will probably even out.

A healthy me, a healthy planet.
Wish me luck!

Friday, September 17, 2010

broken heart.

Knowing our body is the most important thing to living successfully. Having the ability to know when something is wrong will save your life. A lesson I thankfully learned this week.

My dad wasn't feeling right on Monday, and he had a triple bypass on Thursday. He didn't have a heart attack or stroke, he just I cannot thank him enough for listening to his body, he saved his own life.  I'm trying not to cry while I write this, but THANK YOU DADDY! You are the smartest/funniest/most awesome-ist person I know and I love you with all my heart.

Doctors aren't mind readers, so taking care of our bodies is all on us. Prevention with a healthly diet is probably number one. I honestly believe that everything can be healed with diet. Well sure, hereditary diseases or defects are bound to show in some, but a lot of people die from silly things that could have been prevented.

*cough*smoking*cough* (puns intended)

I now know that heart problems are a thing on my dads side. So, am I going to start eating tons of fried chicken and french fries? Not so much. I've cut meat out (which I'm learning is pretty awful for your body anyway - I'll get into that some other time), I eat more vegetables and whole grains, I'm a cardio machine. All these things are good for my heart, and knowing this at 26 is extremely valuable. I don't want to be old and hunched over, going to the doctor every week.
Live healthy now, so you can live healthy later.

The more you know.

Classic Dick Marshall. Fort Meigs Monument in Perrysburg, Ohio.

Get well soon PanPaw!

Monday, September 13, 2010

shiver me timbers!

Never underestimate the power of music. It can lift your spirits almost immediately. For those of you that listen to the radio on your morning commute, I suggest you stop. The radio is full of people complaining about what day it is, about going to work, about the junk that is going on in the world - not a very nice way to start your day. Put on music that honestly makes you happy. Take few moments to relax and enjoy yourself, it'll make a world of difference.

My happiness today was provided by The Postal Service. Their only album, Give Up is by far my most favorite thing in this world.

I'm glad I took those 20 minutes to relax, for today is proving to be quite hectic. Bleck.

in other news....
I had a pretty great weekend.

Started off with a five mile run Friday night. I was so motivated all day by other healthy/runner blogs I follow, I couldn't wait to get to it.

I couldn't tell you the last time I ran five miles, I want to say it was late last year. I took it slow to preserve my energy to get through it. I aimed for 52 minutes but came in at 53 (~10.60/mile). Finishing is more important, but I really must work on my speed. After an injury that took me out for a few days, I say I did good!

Paparazzo kept me company.

Refueled with some delicious pasta and salad. Yums.

Saturday morning I made pumpkin oatmeal. Since I had that pumpkin left over from the biscuits I decided to use a bit in my morning cereal. I must say, it was pretty tasty.

  • 1/2 c. Quaker Multi Grain Hot Cereal
  • 3/4 c. water
  • pumpkin puree
  • brown sugar
  • dash cinnamon
Make oatmeal according to directions and add flavors to taste.

It's hard to tell, but there is a delicious orange hue.

This also got me thinking about pumpkin oatmeal cookies. Definitely keep an eye out for those in the future.

sunday funday.
The gang hosted a Pirate Scavenger Hunt/Goonies Party yesterday to celebrate the hostess' trip to Oregon and Talk Like a Pirate day on September 19. I say, success! Seems everyone involved had a fun time. Clues were hidden all over Mayfield Village, and they were all Pirate/Goonie themed with a Back to the Future/DeLorean clue thrown in there (I mean if you have a DeLorean parked by your house, you must take advantage.)

A scavenger hunt is a great idea for a party. Gets people moving and laughing, with lots of silly photos...

best. picture. ever.
thanks friends!

International Talk Like a Pirate Day is only 6 days away! How will you celebrate?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

fall activites and pumpkin biscuits.

i love summer.
.....but, I am ready for Fall. There is something about Fall that everyone loves. The crisp, cool air is so refreshing after the hot humidity of Summer. Just last night, I stuck my head outside and took a big breath of the semi-chilly night. It smelled so sweet and clean, and was even my motivation to run. Couldn't pass up an evening so nice.

I absolutely love when the seasons change. The moment when the world is in between seasons, you can even see the changes before your eyes. My anticipation rises for all the fun things the new season brings.

Autumn brings lots and lots of glorious activities. My summer hiatus from cooking/baking will end, and I will spend lots of time in the kitchen experimenting and tasting. Last year I discovered my absolute favorite thing to cook with: pumpkin! Whether it is sweet or savory, pumpkin everything is incredible. Roasting your own small baking pumpkin is the only way to go. In a couple more weeks, when Fall is really in swing, I'll show you how to make your own pumpkin puree. Yum!

I gathered a list of fun things to do in and around Cleveland during the harvest. Enjoy!

music. (only bands I'm interested in - sorry)
  • 9/16 Matt & Kim - Beachland Ballroom
  • 9/19 Land of Talk - Beachland Ballroom
  • 9/23 Gaslight Anthem - House of Blues
  • 9/26 Built to Spill - Grog Shop
  • 10/4 Band of Horses - House of Blues
  • 10/13 Ok Go - Beachland Ballroom
  • 10/14 SUFJAN STEVENS - Royal Oak, MI (totally going!!)
  • 10/21 Deerhunter - Beachland Ballroom
  • Apple picking at Patterson Fruit Farm. Best time is mid-September through mid-October. Every Saturday and Sunday during that time, take a wagon ride and pick as many apples as you want.
  • Shaker Square Farmers' Market - every Saturday (8am-12pm) through 12/18.
  • RIPE! Food and Garden Festival at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, 9/24 - 9/26
  • Whole Foods 5x7 is always is fun. Every Friday from 5 - 7pm, try 5 foods and 5 drinks for only $5.
  • Great Lakes Brewery - Beer School. Go on the tour, have some samples, eat some (local) food, get a t-shirt and glass. $25 at 7pm on 10/6, 10/20, 11/3, 11/17. Must purchase tickets in advance, each session sells out.
  • 9/17 Walk All Over Waterloo 6pm - 2am. Eat some food, play some records, get a new CLE shirt, listen to some live music.
  • 10/2 Step Out: Walk to Fight Diabetes. Three mile walk around Downtown. Let me know if you would like information on how to get involved.
  • Lake Farmparks Haunted Hayrides - every Friday and Saturday in October. All these sell out, buy your tickets in advance.
Google is my best friend. If you have any trouble finding the information, I can help.


Last night I attempted a couple new recipes - one was okay, the other blew me awayyy.

I adapted a recipe from Kitchen Daily and some vegan site for Jalapeno Corn Chowder. When I went to Heinens I started going a wee nuts altering the recipe, so this is totally my own creation now. I will definitely experiment more and change some things in the future.

First off, I was dared (dared, I SAY!) to make this in a Crock Pot (bad choice for a quick cooking soup). The Crock Pot was recently acquired from my mom and I was kind of dying to use it. Lesson learned. The chowder just heated up, didn't really cook. Needed to really cook on the stove to get the thickness that was needed. Well anyways, here's what I did:
  • 1 cup creamed corn
  • 14 oz. vegetable stock (Heinens brand rocks)
  • 1 cup milk (I used skim. Half-and-half or 2% would have helped thicken more)
  • 1/4 cup roasted red sweet peppers in a jar. Chopped.
  • 2 finely chopped jalapenos. Seeded and ribbed.
  • 1/2 cup frozen spinach. Thawed and drained.
There was no order really, just dump everything in a pot and cook til it thickens and is hot. Eh, 20 minutes or so.

It was good, not great.

So the recipe that blew me away....pumpkin biscuits. Holy crap, these are amazing. Eat them immediately.
  • 1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2-1/2 teas. baking powder
  • 1/2 teas. salt
  • 1/4 teas. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 3/4 cup canned (or fresh puree) pumpkin (I used canned, no pumpkins out yet!)
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Cut in 1/2 cup butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Combine pumpkin and buttermilk; stir into crumb mixture just until moistened.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead 8-10 times. Pat or roll out to 1-in. thickness; cut with a floured 2-1/2-in. biscuit cutter. I free formed mine, doesn't matter. Place 1 in. apart on a greased baking sheet.

Bake at 425° for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with butter. Yield: 6 biscuits.

Easy and delicious.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

brownie cookies.

happy tuesday?
It's always hard to get back into the swing of things after a long weekend. sigh.

I am happy to report that I'm back to regularly scheduled half marathon training. After 4 (four?!) rest days for my poor knees (see previous post for details), I finally ran some much needed miles tonight. Thank you, Jay-sus!

I'm back to normal eating habits, too. I ate horrible the last couple days. Between cookouts and being lazy, food was not my friend this weekend. It happens, unfortunately, and my focus is back in line. Food is fuel after all.

good eats.

How about the weather this weekend? Ooh, how lovely it was. The cooler temperatures get me in the mood to bake. I love nothing more than spending an afternoon in the kitchen whipping up cookies and cakes. My roommate, Kevin, is one lucky fella.

I happily made some of my famous brownie cookies for a picnic yesterday. I always get requests for these, which is weird since they are disgustingly easy to make. These cookies are actually not horrible for you either (within reason), low fat and delish.

a box of devil's food cake mix (any brand)
2 eggs
4 teaspoons milk
1/4 c. oil (I use canola)
powdered sugar to coat

Preheat oven 375. Mix cake mix, eggs, milk and oil in a bowl.

(I chill my dough for 30 minutes to an hour. You don't have to do this, but I find that the chilled dough doesn't absorb much powdered sugar when you coat the cookies)

Form dough into 1 inch balls and roll in powdered sugar.

Place on cookie sheets. I use parchment paper for everything.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 8-9 minutes. Take them out when you think they still have a minute or so to go. Totally acceptable to be semi-gooey inside : )

Easy, huh?

Try them out and tell me what you think.
Have a wonderful short week!

Friday, September 3, 2010


hello friends!
I must admit I'm not feeling too swell today. I am pretty scraped and damaged. Took a good spill on the street last night. My body moved before my feet wanted to and I went down. These things happen. Makes for a good story, right?

It's funny now when I think about it and know that I'm (pretty much) okay. I would have loved to see what the people behind me saw. Haha, ohh me.

I am worried about my foot, it is a little swollen and bruised. I'm not going to able to run on it for a couple days (grrr!!!). The whole half a second I was falling I kept thinking, "don't get hurt! don't get hurt!" I try so hard to be injury free while I run, and now clumsiness puts a dent in training. *sigh* whatchagonnado.

With all that aside, I really had a good time last night. Attended my first Browns game! Thanks Melissa!

I think the Browns won....errr?

Happy long weekend, everyone! Enjoy it!