Sunday, March 7, 2010

Vegan Kickstart: Days 6 and 7

I had such a great weekend! During my time in grad school and working full-time I often wondered (and whined) about what people do with free time. I haven't really had very much of it in three years. Now that I only have one class until graduation (May 14th!), I can finally afford to do things just for fun!

On Saturday I took myself on a mini-artist's date. I went to Borders, wrote in my journal and perused some books. I ended up getting Tal Ronnen's The Conscious Cook (man those recipes look hard but great!). I know I said I would only buy Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's Color Me Vegan and Terry Hope Romero's Viva Vegan! this year and stop amassing such a ridiculous collection of cookbooks, but I had a rare combination of a coupon, $5 worth of Borders Bucks and a partial gift card so I got this $30 cookbook for a mere $8! I may just read through it and look at the beautiful pictures until I am feeling adventurous. After that I had lunch at Java Green (yum!), took a long walk and went to yin/yang yoga at Tranquil Space (hurts so good!).

On Saturday night I had dinner with my friend Noel at Toscana Grill, which is located just outside the Courthouse metro station in Arlington. They have a very vegan friendly and organic menu (soy cheese and meats, vegan pastas, etc.) that has the vegan items clearly marked but they also have a lot of options for the meat eating crowd. I started with the minestrone soup and had gnocchi with marinara and mushrooms for dinner. The food was delicious and the staff was so friendly. They asked if we wanted to see their dessert menu. I nearly died when I asked what was vegan on it and they said, "Everything!". Not only was it all vegan but it was all from Vegan Treats bakery! If you ever have a chance to sample their desserts, you must try the peanut butter bomb cake. It is THE BEST dessert I have ever, ever had. They even took our picture for their blog! That is the dessert that legends are made of right there on the table! Pardon the cheesy grins--we also had a considerable amount of wine:

After dinner we went to see "The Blind Side", which I had been wanting to see before the Oscars. To my surprise, I thought it was really funny and cute (......could've also been the wine!).

Today I got a late start but I ended up trying out two new recipes. The first was banana chocolate chip muffins from Colleen Patrick-Goudreu's The Joy of Vegan Baking, which I've had for quite some time. They are so good and so easy to make! They have a lot of bananas in them, so I feel less guilty than I probably should about eating them!

The second recipe was the Spicy Chickpea Tomato Soup from the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook. It was the first recipe I've tried from it and if the rest are like this, I'm cooking the entire thing! Basically you first cook a mix of garlic, onion, chickpeas, tomatoes and a ton of spices in a pan and it looks like this (I almost just made some rice and ate it over that because it looked and smelled so yummy!):

Then you mix it in a blender with a few other ingredients (this was also the first recipe I've tried that called for nutritional yeast!) and voila! You have soup! I can't begin to explain to you how good this is. It's like a spicy vegan tomato bisque, which I haven't been able to enjoy since having my gall bladder out a few years ago due to the cream, but with better nutritional value. The chickpeas also add some bulk to this soup so it is filling. This is the final product:

I will definitely be making this one over and over again! Soooooooooo good. Now it's time for the Oscars!

Have a great start to the week, everyone!


Melita said...

sounds like a great weekend! hugs!!

Carolyn said...

Oooh I NEED the recipe for those muffins!!! said...

What a wonderful weekend! I wish we had restaurants like that close to home. If I asked around here, they would look at me and say "what's vegan?" Maybe I'll have to look into some of your cookbooks. I have two, but more couldn't hurt, right?

City Girl said...

I keep hearing Toscana Grill is wonderful - must try it sometime soon.

I LOVE that soup from Vegan Yum Yum :) The nutritional yeast also adds a nice little kick, but I do love how it tastes creamy and deliciuos with zero cream :) Btw, I have also eaten it unblended over brown rice (I just stir the nutritional yeast in) and it really is delicious that way too :)

City Girl said...

PS glad you are enjoying your free time :)

akarmaproject said...

YUM! I'm so glad you loved the soup too - it's pretty amazing. I am definitely looking forward to eating it again tonight with a grilled "cheese" sandwich!

I am so glad your vegan kickstart is going well. Isn't Tal Ronnen's cookbook to die for?? I can't wait to try some of those recipes out next time I have a fancy dinner party!