Monday, June 28, 2010


This past weekend was Jesse's birthday! I made some cupcakes exactly as he requested: vegan vanilla cupcakes filled with butterscotch pudding topped with vegan vanilla icing and shredded coconut. I used the basic vanilla cupcake recipe and basic buttercream recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and it was delicious!

The birthday boy with one of his presents: a bike jersey to match his bike!

I HATE chili but Jesse would eat it for every meal if he could, so we went to Hard Times Cafe so he could have some vegetarian chili over tater tots (which he said was the best ever) and beer.

We ended the night with a Wii competition with some friends at our place. It was a great and relaxing weekend!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Revelry Review: Forks over Knives

Last night Jesse and I attended an advance screening of the new documentary, "Forks Over Knives", here in DC. A Q&A session followed the screening with Dr. Neal Barnard of PCRM, Dr. Michael Greger, Gene Bauer from Farm Sanctuary and Bruce Friedrich from PETA.

The film follows the career trajectories of Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, who are advocates of using a plant-based diet to halt and even reverse the so-called "diseases of affluence": heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. It also follows the experiences of several people (including the director!) who suffered from these problems and were following a plant-based diet in an effort to change their lives. It was like seeing The China Study brought into visual form. I wanted to show it to every member of my family that suffers from these health problems.

Unfortunately, due to time constraints, the Q&A portion was cut a bit short (let's be honest--I could listen to that group talk all day!). However, it did raise interesting questions, such as should we be using the term "plant-based diet" or "vegan" and what are the implications of each. I find this discussion fascinating. On the one hand, saying "I eat a plant-based diet" seems a lot more palatable to some people, but using "vegan" more often might help to take some of the negative stereotypes out of the word. This led Jesse and I to a discussion about eating mostly plants for the animals versus for health (or both or a host of other reasons) and how those groups of people are really at a disconnect some of the time. I think this movie, about the health benefits, seems fit for a different audience than say, "Earthlings", even if they get at the same essential end result.

Someone also asked about educating their current doctor or if they should change doctors if they received push back on this issue. Dr. Barnard's suggestion, which surpised me a bit, was to continue with your regular doctor, as long as they have good diagnostic capabilities, but follow a plant-based diet and hopefully the changes that brings will show your doctor how useful it can be.

The film is expected to be released into theaters in the fall and available for purchase on DVD later this year or early in 2011. I am hoping it reaches a very wide audience because the impact could be huge.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


A collection of recent posts from around the web that have caught my attention lately:

-The Oprah Magazine's guide to great collections of short stories

-These tips for shopping at the farmers' market

-A how-to for more creative discipline--I love the idea of using the word devotion instead of discipline!

-This post from City Life Eats on eating while traveling for those of us with special diets or food allergies

-Tulips and Tea's Analiese guest posted about her style statement, organic creative, on the Style Statement blog

-A profile of Chef Chloe, who won the Food Network's cupcake challenge with her amazing vegan cupcakes! Check out some of her recipes here and here.

-This New York Times article about how the road to adulthood has been getting increasingly longer

-This column by the ever-so-fabulous Jen Lancaster on why New Jersey is the new black (Yay for my home state!)

{Photo credit: cupcakes2}

Revelry Review: One Amazing Thing

South Asian Author Challenge, Book 1/5: One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

This is the story of random strangers trapped in the Indian consulate in an unnamed city in the U.S after an earthquake. As the conditions worsen (lack of food, air, electricity, etc.), the strangers each take turns telling their stories, their "one amazing thing" that proves that life is a gift, to each other in case they do not make it out alive. This novel requires some suspension of belief, as the characters spend more time telling their stories than trying to escape. However, in the wake of tragedies like those that happened this year in Haiti and Chile, it raises both hard questions and good points about the miracle of simply being alive.

I confess that Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is one of my all-time favorite writers. She was a gateway drug of sorts for me into what became an all-out obsession with South Asian writers. Her prose can be heartbreakingly beautiful. However, I don't recommend that you start with this one if you want to give her a try. Check out The Mistress of Spices or Sister of My Heart. While One Amazing Thing was not my favorite of her books, so far she hasn't failed me yet!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Reading Challenge.

I am so excited to be participating in the South Asian Author Challenge that is being hosted by S. Krishna's Books! Back in college I was an English major. I signed up for a Gender and Literature course, not knowing it was themed: Gender Issues in Postcolonial Literature. I am fairly certain that course--the professor, the other students, the literature we read--profoundly changed me. It was heavily focused on India, since that is where the professor is from, but we touched on other areas. It was like traveling the world without the expensive plane ticket. I discovered the lush, beautiful prose of South Asian writers and could not get enough. Now some of my favorite writers include Salman Rushdie, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Jhumpa Lahiri, Vikram Seth, Vikram Chandra, Arundhati Roy, etc. I've pledged to read five books written by South Asian authors by the end of the year. I am sure I will far exceed those five, but I wanted to make sure I met my pledge. I will blog about what I read here. Interested in joining the challenge? It's not too late! Follow the link or click on the image above!

Monday, June 14, 2010


-Bed, Bath and Beyond for apartment stuff
-A fantastic and challenging yoga class
-USA vs England soccer
-Date night: Browsing the bookstore and dinner at Tandoori Nights followed by Boccato Gelato
-Sleeping in
-Cooking for the week: spinach/mushroom quiche, sauteed zucchini/squash, black bean/sweet potato/quinoa burgers and butterscotch pudding bread (pictured here--recipe 3 of the 3 new ones I wanted to make this month!)
-Guajillo for Mexican food and a frosty michelada with a friend

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Delicious Dishes.

You need to make the Easy Vegan Overnight Oats from Oh She Glows. Make them the night before in just minutes, pop them in the fridge and have a delicious breakfast the next morning. I recommend a dollop of peanut butter, some strawberries or a little maple syrup on top. These kept me full until mid-afternoon! They don't look like much but they are yummy!
Recipe #2 out of the minimum of three new ones I want to try this month!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I have a confession to make.

Lately--and by lately, I mean the last six months or better--I haven't been practicing what I preach. I've fallen pretty far off the wagon in terms of exercise and eating right. In the past few months, I've even stay away from my yoga mat. I could give you a laundry list of excuses: stress, finishing up grad school, moving, traveling, figuring out what was going to happen with my long-distance relationship, etc. However, I think I may have stumbled upon the real reason (with some help from my very smart significant other): perfectionism.

I thought that if I didn't have an hour every day to spend in the gym and if every meal wasn't a salad, then I wouldn't bother doing anything. Yes, me. The one who lost a bunch of weight and went insane for yoga and had a love affair with spinning classes. That girl. I was totally focused on dieting and working out like crazy instead of focusing on being heathly and living an active lifestyle.

The truth is that at my lowest weight, I was obsessing over every 0.2 pounds, which, let's be honest, is the equivalent of about three sips of water. I was avoiding going out to dinner with friends so I could stay at home and eat low calorie frozen meals. I was working out for hours a day. I was eating low fat and no fat "food" that was low in points. I was berating myself any week that I didn't lose weight. So I stopped. I had enough of the head games and I stopped.

The problem is that I stopped completely. And it shows in many ways.

Last night I went to the gym. I stayed for 50 minutes--35 minutes of cardio and 15 minutes of strength training. I've been eating a fairly normal diet and trying to stay away from sugary foods. I want to ease back into an active, healthy lifestyle one step at a time. To be honest, some of those steps may include canceling my gym and Weight Watchers memberships. I am not sure where I stand on those at the moment. This may also include staying away from my scale for the time being.

I need to adopt these habits on my own without putting myself into a really bad place mentally. I feel grateful for being able to recognize both my own obsessive bad habits and also what caused them. It feels good to fess up to them too. Failure is feedback. It wasn't working for me, even if the scale was saying I was weighing less and less. I'll take healthy over skinny any day.

{Photo credit: D Sharon Pruitt}

Monday, June 7, 2010


We spent this past Sunday at Lake Anna in Virginia with a friend. It was sunny and the water was warm. Perfect way to wrap up the weekend! Here are some pictures:

Friday, June 4, 2010

Summer Reading List

I read, on average, 80 books a year. So far for 2010 I'm at 31--slightly behind due to grad school. I thought it would be fun to share some of the books I plan to read this summer.

What's on your summer reading list?

1. The Girls by Lori Lansens --I'm cheating with this one because I just finished it. It was a little long in a few places but I found this fictional autobiography of two twin sisters attached at the head to be fascinating, heartbreaking and hopeful, all at the same time.

2. The One That I Want by Allison Winn Scotch--Just downloaded this to my Kindle. I read her previous one and while it was definitely chick lit-ish, that's exactly what I need in my post-grad school brain melt.

3. After You by Julie Buxbaum--Same as above!

4. I Thought It Was Just Me, But It Isn't: Telling the Truth about Perfectionism, Inadequacy and Power by Brene Brown--I've heard so many people rave about this book! From Kelly Rae Roberts to Stephanie's Heart Piercing Life, they all seem to like it! Brene studies authenticity, belonging, shame, compassion, courage and connection. You can check out Brene Brown's blog here, as well as a video from a recent talk here.

5. The Not So Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters by Sarah Susanka--I first heard about her when she appeared on a Tranquility Du Jour podcast. Her message seems to dovetail nicely with what I am seeking for myself. Can't wait to read this book!

6. Women, Food and God by Geenen Roth--I read one of her first books and loved it. Then a part of her latest book appeared in the Oprah magazine and now it seems that everyone is reading Geneen! I feel like this book could really help me in my relationship to food and my body.

7. Columbine by David Cullen--What happened at Columbine was one of the defining moments of my generation. While I know this will be a difficult book to read, I think it's important for me to understand what happened and why and to try to make sense of it all.

8. A Thousand Sisters: My Journey into the Worst Place on Earth to Be a Woman by Lisa Shannon--This was recommended to me on Amazon since I read (and LOVED!) Half the Sky, so I thought I would check it out.

9. The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker--I saw this once upon a time in the Oprah magazine, which always has great book recommendations, so I picked it up in anticipation of post-graduation free time.

10. God Sleeps in Rwanda: A Journey of Transformation by Joseph Sebarenzi--Something that you may or may not know about me is that I am obsessed with stories of memory, truth and reconciliation from post-conflict or post-tragedy, particularly state-sponsored, moments in history. Learning about the Holocaust sparked my interest in learning more about the dirty wars in South America, which led to the civil wars in Central America and then to what happened in Rwanda. If you want to learn more, I highly recommend starting with We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families by Phillip Gourevitch.

11. In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin--I can't remember how this book came recommended to me, but it is about Pakistan and I love books about other countries and cultures, so I picked it up.

12. Too Much Happiness: Stories by Alice Munro--I also love short stories (thank you, English major background!). I love their form, their brevity, how much they convey in such few pages, they way that they are often only a snapshot of a longer story.

13. Out of Mao's Shadow: The Struggle for the Soul of a New China by Philip P. Pan--I have a graduate degree in International Affairs and know very little about one of the world's great powers. This is my attempt to start to rectify that.

14. Worse than War: Genocide, Eliminationism, and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen--See above. Strangely obsessed with this sort of thing.

15. The Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin--I loved her earlier chick lit books, so I thought this would be a good one for pool or beach reading.

{Photo credit: moriza}

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Delicious Dishes.

Last night I made a new recipe (recipe #1 out of 3 new ones that I want to try this month!). It was Chow Vegan's baked falafel. It was DELICIOUS! We put them on wraps with hummus, red pepper, spinach and tomatoes. I highly recommend you try this very easy and incredibly yummy recipe!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

June Goals

It's been hot--REALLY hot--in the DC area this past week. I've been dreaming of beach trips, picnics, fresh cherries, sundresses and lemonade. I've also set out a few small goals for myself this month so I don't get lost in the lazy days of summer:

-Finish up the unpacking and decorating

-Get back into exercising and yoga-ing regularly. For real this time. I mean it.

-Learn to be okay with free time. This is a struggle for me.

-Read through How to Land a Top-Paying Federal Job. I am still not sure what I want to be when I grow up, but more and more the government is looking like it might be an okay way to go. I need to do a lot of research on this one.

-Catch up with friends that have seen very little of me since....oh, when I started my master's degree three years ago.

-Cook at least three new recipes

-Celebrate Jesse's birthday (June 26th!) in a fun and festive way!

{Photo credit: zanastardust}