Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Weeknight Meals

I often post my culinary experiments on this blog. However, the truth is that I only post the ones that I think are blog-worthy, meaning that they took a lot of work or are pretty to look at. Since I decided to reignite my mission to get healthy, I thought I would show you a typical weeknight dinner.

Here is last night's meal: a 365 brand fajita-sized tortilla from Whole Foods (I think it was red chile flavor...?), topped with Cava's spicy hummus (can't get enough of this stuff!), cucumber, red bell pepper and baby spinach. I made roasted brussel sprouts as a side. I never liked them until I had them roasted! Here's how you do it: Cut off the hard ugly bottoms, cut the large ones in half so that they are all roughly the same size, cover them in just enough oil so that they don't stick to the pan, sprinkle with your topping of choice (garlic powder and black pepper, though I've also used fresh garlic, lemon, a veggie spice mix and parmesan cheese at different times) and bake on 375 until they're soft. Perfection! This was a great, quick meal that left me more than enough time to get in a trip to the gym!

Monday, September 26, 2011

DC Vegfest 2011

This weekend was DC Vegfest! It's one of my favorite events to attend each year. Fantastic eats, lots of amazing organizations represented and thousands of like-minded people. What's not to love?!

Jesse and I arrived right as they opened at 11 and each got a tote bag of some goodies (coupons, flax seed, Vega, lip balm, Parma, etc.) Then we immediately headed for the Vegan Treats table. Every year it seems as this is the hot spot, so we like to get there early. Above is a small sample of some of the wide variety of treats they brought with them all the way from Bethlehem, PA.

This, my friends, is a vegan donut full of pumpkin-spiced cream and topped with a cinnamon glaze. Ohhhhhh yeah.

We hung out for a few hours, so we eventually got hungry for some lunch. I finally got to try the Fojol Bros. food truck! They called themselves a traveling culinary carnival and they aren't kidding. There are two trucks. One truck claims to be from the imaginary land of "Benethiopia" and the other from the land of "Merlinda". They play fun music and are dressed up in crazy costumes.

At the Merlindia truck, you could choose from such Indian-inspired delights as pumpkin curry, a delicious eggplant mix, mixed veggies, lentils, and spinach and cheese. They are served over rice.

Here is Jesse's Benethiopian lunch: Collards, lentils and a mix of carrots and green beans over injera.

My Merlindian lunch: curried mixed vegetables, lentils and eggplant over rice.

Doron Petersan was the emcee for the Sticky Fingers Bakery cupcake eating contest. Doron's cookbook comes out in February.

The contestants getting their cupcake on. The first to finish five cupcakes (without using their hands!) won!

Highlight: Colleen Patrick-Goudreau talking about The 30 Day Vegan Challenge. If you've never heard her podcasts, cooked from one of her cookbooks, heard her speak or had her garlic and greens soup, I suggest you do all of these things immediately. I really believe that she's changed my life.

Colleen signing books immediately after signing mine! I left Vegfest inspired to keep a vegan house (we were very close anyway, but we're getting rid of the few things that remain) and to do more for the animals. I'm in awe that I get to live in such an amazing community.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Autumn Wishes

It's finally here. The best season ever has arrived! It was a long, extremely hot and humid summer here in the D.C. area. I'm so looking forward to cooler weather, the leaves changing colors and all of the fun and excitement that the last quarter of the year brings. Here are my wishes and happenings:

~Nationals vs Braves game
~Brad Paisley concert
~Ray LaMontagne concert
~Get back into my yoga practice
~Apple and pumpkin picking....make an apple pie afterward
~Trip to Texas in October to go to the Texas State Fair and Texas State Veggie Fair
~Meaningful and inspiring Jewish high holidays
~Lose 25 pounds
~See Ron White do a comedy show on October 15th in NJ
~Regular exercise schedule
~Possible trip to Peru for work in November
~Lots of quality time with J's family over Thanksgiving
~J gets into the grad school of his dreams (still unclear which one that is, ha!)
~Amazing, once-in-a-lifetime 10 day trip to South Africa in December
~Lots of quality time with my family in late December

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Season of Change

For me, September has always been about new beginnings. For 20 years of my life, if we include college and graduate school, it was the start of the school year, complete with a new schedule and new school supplies. It's almost the Jewish New Year, which is a time for reflection on the past year, as well as a time to set intentions for the upcoming year. As the weather changed and the leaves turned colors, it was always the best time of year for me to make changes in my life as well.

In the spirit of new beginnings, I'm back on the wagon in terms of healthy living. Jesse and I had a date at the gym on Sunday (and I am still sore from lifting weights!), we've been taking walks on Shabbat, and I have other workouts marked in my planner. Our fridge is stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables. I'm incorporating a lot more leafy greens into my lunches. I am getting back into a regular yoga practice if it kills me. I'm going back to spinning and Zumba. I'm going to try to get more sleep and journal more often.

This time around--because, let's face it, there have been many times around--I'm focusing on being healthy in a way that is sustainable for a lifetime. Previously, I have wanted to be perfect. One slip up and I was convinced I would be a fat failure for life. I used to refuse invites to hang out with friends if they involved food. This time, I'm focusing on living life but in a better way.

One. day. at. a. time.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Scenes from the Kitchen

Provencal Vegetable Soup from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan. I LOVE Dorie's recipes. They are always thorough and great to cook with, as well as accompanied by great stories. This soup had it all! Zucchini, green beans, white beans, small pasta, tomatoes, carrot and a ton of fresh herbs. The cherry on top? It called for making fresh pesto and putting some on top. I prompty stirred mine in after taking this shot and it took this soup to a whole new level.
Leftover pesto turned into wheat pasta shells, pesto and fresh tomatoes for lunch the next day.
I also tried my very first vegan lasagna this week! It was from The 30 Day Vegan Challenge by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (a fantastic book, by the way!). I chose this one because it didn't call for nutritional yeast. I'm ashamed to admit that, despite knowing how good it is for you, I really just hate it. Anyway....this lasagna was awesome! It came together very quickly with the help of the food processor and, due to the tofu, has lots of protein. If you make it, definitely use the fresh basil it calls for rather than trying to substitute dried. It makes the whole dish.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dinner at The Green Elephant

When we visit Jesse's family in Maine, we always make sure to stop by The Green Elephant in Portland, which is by far my most favorite vegetarian restaurant. Every dish is stellar, they use a lot of local ingredients and the ambiance is warm and cozy. Here are a few pictures of our meal last week, starting with Jesse's appetizer: crispy wontons filled with vegan cheese and spinach, with a sweet and sour dipping sauce. This was outrageously delicious.
My appetizer: Fresh Rolls (rice paper, mixed raw veggies, avocado with a peanut dipping sauce).
Maine Root blueberry soda. I love this stuff!
My entree: Panang curry with tofu and brown rice. It even had Thai eggplant and squash in the mixed vegetables. Deeeeeelicious!
Jesse's entree: Peking "duck" served over wide noodles. It looked just like duck and Jesse said it was tasty.
Our desserts. On the left is the chocolate orange mousse cake. It's so good that we talk about it often. On the left is a trio of sorbets (with some fresh fruit and cookies). We had coconut, mango and strawberry lemonade flavors. The strawberry lemonade was definitely my favorite.
I can't wait until we are back in Maine in November!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Scenes from our Maine Vacation

Lake Cobbosseecontee (say that three times fast!) in Winthrop, Maine. We spent Tuesday to Saturday here with Jesse's extended family, plus my Mom and her boyfriend.
More of the lake. So peaceful.
The cute little farmstand down the street. We bought cute tiny sweet peppers and whoopie pies here.
My Mom and Jesse during game night.
He might look like he can play a mean game of poker, but let it be known that I won! We also played corn hole (also known north of the Mason-Dixon line as bean bag toss), Apples to Apples and Rack-o.
We took a day trip to Bar Harbor where we wandered around and had a-mazing ice cream at Mt. Desert Island. If it is good enough for the POTUS, it's good enough for me! I highly recommended the Cinnamon Cardamom and the Malted Milk Ball flavors.
Blueberry pie at the Lobster Shack at Two Lights in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
While my poor friends and family were battling Hurricane Irene farther south, we were enjoying sunshine and beautiful views.
And Jesse taught me how to skip rocks! I clearly need some practice though.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Where I've Been

August has been a rough, rough month. At every turn, something happened that upended my routine, making it impossible to blog and nearly impossible just to catch my breath.
My best friend, who gave birth to my godson in July, unexpectedly lost her father. Then this happened, which sent my entire hometown and the surrounding area into a tailspin of heartbreak. The boys were students of both my best friend and my cousin. That same day, there were two other accidents in the same area: a car crash and a plane crash. Eight people died within a few miles of each other and within hours of one another.
Last week at the airport, we experienced an earthquake (though everyone, myself included, thought it was a bomb). Being evacuated from an airport in an emergency is NOT fun. We spent time in Maine with Jesse's family and our stay was unexpectedly extended when hurricane Irene decided to make an appearance.
August has certainly been a lesson in letting go, experiencing strong emotions without judgement, being grateful for those around me and learning that no matter how carefully you plan, life will always take you places you did not intend to be.
September, I welcome you with open arms.
{Image credit: Jeremiah Blatz}