9-5 and Nut Butters

Being a regular adult is going to be a transition. A regular adult works 9-5. A regular adult can get back to doing things in the evening and going to bed early. It also means that I don’t have leisurely mornings for dog walking and yoga. It also means that I don’t have a lot of down time at work to write in a blog.

Being a regular adult, with regular adult is actually pretty awesome—and my shifts FLY by, as I am actually busy at work and get to work with seven people, not just one. Turns out I like social interaction with more than just one person. Crazy, I know.

Shifting to my new schedule also gave me a random three-day weekend this week. I didn’t even know what to do with myself. I think I may be slightly iron deficient, as I felt sloth like all weekend. This caused me to seek comfort over activity, and I ended up in a legging/tunic combo almost all weekend, seeking therapy and routine in the kitchen.

Before I dive into all the AWESOME-ness that I created in the kitchen, I forgot about the incredible Sound of Music sing-along I took part in on Saturday. Yep, all of those things are real.

My good friend won tickets to what I would compare to the Rocky Horror Picture Show except it was The Sound of Music, and instead of people dressed up at Frankenfurter, there was a whole family dressed up in white dresses with blue satin sashes. Basically, it was incredible. It was like a three-hour (that movie is LONG) ‘G’ rated karaoke party. Like I said, incredible.

After singing to Julie Andrews at the top of our lungs we had a lovely chat about self-love, feminism and how we may never find our bearded dream men. We hung out at the cutest little bar in Ballard, munching on roasted brussel sprouts and apple sauce while drinking IPA out of mason jars. Oh Seattle, you fit my cliché like a glove.

This weekend was also one of sunshine and t-shirt weather temperatures, which inspired me to weed for three hours. There is something so therapeutic about weeding, ripping down dead trees and sticker bushes is soul cleansing. I have battle wounds all over my legs and arms and my eyes were itchy for three days, but GOD it felt good. So much so that my roomie came out to see what I was doing, saw the look of joy on my face, and joined in the fun. It is so gratifying to see all your hard work result in something as magical as a cleared space of yard.

All of this fresh air brought me back to my comfort zone, AKA my kitchen, where I baked delicious sweet potato muffins, a giant batch of granola, homemade gluten-free/vegan cornbread, vegan chili AND the most amazing cookies of my life. If I were to tell you the details of all of these endeavors, it would get boring. So I’m just going to focus on those life changing cookies.

The recipe came from one of the food blogs I check incessantly—My New Roots. Not only is this recipe a mind-blowing taste explosion of awesome sauce (yes, they are that good) it also inspired me to make my own almond butter. Oh. My. God. Why oh WHY wasn’t I doing this before??!? Not only is it the easiest thing ever, it also is cheaper and makes you look awesome when you say you just whipped up some of your own almond butter. I have a feeling that it is going to make a nut butter fiend—making nut butters like you wouldn’t believe. I’m going to clear out the Trader Joe’s nut stock and go into a frenzy. It will be epic.

Anyhoo, for those of you interested in whipping up your own nut butter, the simplicity will rock your world. You can then use said nut butter to make the cookies that are so good (and kind of/sort of healthy) that you will probably be inspired to whip up two batches of them (like I did) and be a little bit bashful about how quickly they are making their way into your stomach.

Homemade Almond Butter

2 cups almonds (or any nut)

Roast almonds/nut of choice in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 375, or until golden brown and aromatic

Pop those bad boys in a food processor, blend for two minutes. Scrape the sides and get all that goodness back towards the blade and then blend for another two minutes, until the oils are released and the creamy goodness of awesomeness is created.

Put in an airtight container or use to make these mind-blowing cookies.

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Astrology and Seaweed

Two summers ago, while working on a farm in Colorado, I had my astrological charts done. The owner of the farm was the epitome of back-to-the-earth hippie. (She kept her placenta in the freezer—she was one day going to plant a tree with it. Or cook it. I can’t remember)

Her and her family lived out in the middle of nowhere on a huge tract of land. They had an outdoor kitchen, solar/rain water showers and their 5-year-old had dreadlocks. Their pack of dogs roamed free and kept away the bears. I learned how to erect a teepee and worked for hours collecting vegetables to sell to the nearby town.

It was quite the experience.

Needless to say, I spent some time getting to know my spirit animal and my true “sign”. What I discovered was that I am a Capricorn/Capricorn, which is somewhat uncommon. You usually have a moon sign that is different from your sun sign.

Not this girl. I am Capricorn through and through.

My closest co-worker is also a capi/capi, and we always fall back on that as our reasoning for acting the way we do. Sometimes it is nice to explain yourself via your astrological sign.

All of this has a point, I promise.

As a double Capricorn, I am so grounded to the earth it is silly. I don’t even have a touch of water or fire to balance me out. This is why I think I love to play in the dirt so much.

It was yet another day of sun in Seattle, and once again I felt the drive to keep busy and accomplish things. I ran/walked 6 miles with the pup, went grocery shopping and got the soil,compost and seeds I needed to get things cracking with my garden. Living in a city means that I rely on my raised bed and my container garden to produce the food I need.

I planted an insane amount of lettuces today—spinach, kale, bibb and arugula. Greens for days. As a vegan, I feel like you can never have too many greens. As the temperatures slowly start to creep up, I will plant the rest of my raised bed so within a few months my backyard will be overflowing with delicious goodies.

All of this planting and weeding and getting my hands dirty in the sun also brought out more of my freckles. Thank goodness for all these beautiful details.

To keep up with the green theme, and to balance my earthy self out, I had an aquatic themed lunch/dinner—which means I ate my body weight in seaweed. Mmm seaweed salad and brown rice nori rolls, I could eat you forever.

Seaweed Salad (adapted from yumuniverse.com)

  • 4-5 pieces whole or cut wakame
  • Warm water, enough to fill medium bowl
  • 1 scallion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • Cubes of extra firm tofu

Dressing

  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • ¼ tsp minced ginger
  • ¼ tsp minced garlic
  • Pinch salt

Soak wakame in a bowl for 5 minutes, chop up tofu and green onion. Whisk together all ingredients for dressing. Toss everything together in a bowl, add the sesame seeds and stick in the fridge to let it soak up all the delicious flavors. Eat until your heart says to eat more. Then eat more.

Brown Rice Nori Rolls (adapted from Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook—what else?)

  • 1 cup short grain brown rice
  • 2 cups sweet brown rice
  • 6 cups water
  • Pinch of salt
  • Dried nori sheets
  • Extra firm tofu
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • Carrot
  • Avocado
  • Scallions
    • Add water, rice and salt into a pot and boil. Once boiling, turn down heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let settle for 20 minutes. Transfer half of rice to a bowl and sprinkle with rice vinegar. (you will have lots of left over rice. Yum.)
    • Cut tofu into strips and marinate in rice vinegar and tamari for 20-30 minutes. After marinating, heat them up in the coconut oil until lightly brown.
    • Cut up carrots, avocado and green onion into thin strips.
    • Lay out the nori, shiny side down and spoon rice onto the sheet, leaving 2 inches on the top and bottom of the sheet. Lay vegetables and tofu at the bottom of the sheet, and roll it all up into a delicious roll of goodness. You can either scarf it down burrito style, or wet a serrated knife and cut those bad boys up into sushi style pieces. Either way it is delicious. Feel free to add any veggies you like… The possibilities are endless.
    • Dip in some tamari, or enjoy on your own. So good, so filling, so healthy.

 

Spring

I was very productive today. This productivity is usually stymied by “wasting” time in my parent’s sauna or watching too many episodes of trashy TV before work. When I sit down and watch Netflix reruns of How I Met Your Mother or Twin Peaks, I always end up eating a bowl of popcorn bigger then I like to admit.  It is huge. Really, really huge. BUT, it is coated in nutritional yeast, so at least it is healthy popcorn.

However, today it was sunny. GASP. The sunshine actually warmed me through my bedroom window and I saw the thermometer hit 50 degrees. Holy hell… spring? Is that you?

Those of you who don’t live in Seattle—perhaps you are in the heat wave of the midwest (you bastards)—50 degrees seems downright frigid. Which it is. The poor daffodils and cherry blossoms are freezing their asses off as they assumed mid March would bring them warmth—sorry little dudes, no such luck.

Here is the thing about sunshine and Seattle. When it is sunny, you do everything in your power to be outside. To be inside is sacrilegious. The sun comes out and people drop their plans, their work, their lives and bask in all that glorious vitamin D. Everyone also assumes that sunshine means you don’t have to wear clothes—but that is a different story for another time.

I spent my morning gabbing with my bestie over coffee as the dogs pulled us down the street, stopping to sniff and pee on every flower that had been brave enough to show its face.

After spending time with a bestie, I feel invigorated—I rode this feeling and did some gardening.

Oh, gardening. How I love you. I adore the feeling of dirt under my finger nails; I seek pleasure in turning over and digging up my garden bed. I like to chat and get to know my worms—feeding them scraps and lovingly covering them with a sheet of delicious dirt.

Today I planted some butter head lettuce, and trimmed back the ever bothersome blackberry bushes. I found my cute little itty bitty terra-cotta pots and started some kale and broccoli starts. Oh my goodness, how excited I am for all things to grow.

All of this walking, gossiping and gardening whetted my appetite and I caught up on podcasts as I whipped up a quick buckwheat soba noodle salad.

What a way to ring in the spring.

Peanuty Buckwheat Noodle Salad

  • Buckwheat noodles
  • Red bell pepper
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Sesame oil
  • Garlic
  • Spinach and Kale
    • Cook soba noodles. Or brown rice. Or black rice. Or anything that goes with vegetables and peanut sauce.
    • Warm up sesame oil in a frying pan on medium/high heat, add garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.  Add spinach and kale and quickly saute until slightly wilted.
    • Cut up cucumber and bell peppers, and carrots and set all of these things aside.
    • Toss noodles with vegetables and peanut sauce (recipe below)

Peanut Sauce

  • 4 tbsp hot water
  • 4 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 1.5 tsp lemon juice
  • 1.5 tsp brown sugar
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
    • Whisk all ingredients together. If it still looks a little chunky, zap that baby in the microwave for 30 seconds and whisk again. Pour over anything and everything. Lick the bowl. It is okay. Everyone does it.

 

Self Love

My body is cattywompus.

Truth be told, I really just wanted an excuse to use that word.

No, my body really is a hot mess. Having started running on a regular basis, imagine my frustration when not only did the ol’ knee pain flare up, but the shin and ankle on my OTHER leg started to ache something fierce.

It is as if the universe is telling me to not be a runner. Lets be honest, what I call “running” is most likely considered jogging– with a soft “J”. Whatever it is I am doing, it is causing me some serious pain.

So I bit the bullet and scheduled an appointment with a sports medicine doctor. He spent a good hour making me hop around the room, bending my knee and hip into weird positions and hemming and hawing over the weakness of my right hip. It was a combination of humiliating and enlightening.

He insisted that I see a physical therapist. Which led me to another hour of hopping, running on a treadmill and watching in horror as I watched myself run in slow motion. There are things a person should be spared from seeing, your white WHITE legs running and shifting in uncomfortable ways is one of these things.

Needless to say, I have a bum knee caused by an extremely weak thigh muscle that leads to a sad sad hip, and a lack of ab/glute muscles. Who knew that running/walking/yoga-ing and biking doesn’t build enough muscle… WTF.

So my new life plan includes physical therapy once a week, cutting back on running for a while, adding in spin classes and diving into the unfamiliar world of pilates.

When all is said and done, I adore this wacky body of mine. True, I have more ailments than a 25-year-old female should have. Yes, I threw out my back bowling. Yes, sometimes I need to go up the stairs REALLY slowly to avoid pain in my knee, and yes– I creak when I bend down to wipe the mud off my dog’s paws.

But you know what? This body allows me to walk six miles with my pup if the day calls for it. It allows me the flexibility to touch my toes, hold myself up in crow and hover proudly in chaturanga dandasana (heck yes arm muscles, here’s looking at you).

Anything that takes this much wear and tear is bound to rebel a little bit. My vessel just rebels a bit more than the average bear, and I will respond to all of these quirks with compassion and love.

You know what? my body is a freaking temple.

Yes. I went there. Deal with it.

 

Dates

Ah HA. You all thought I was going to be delving into my personal life and the under belly of the 20 something dating world, didn’t ya? Suckers. All I am here to talk about is my current obsession, nay, I will call it my passionate love affair with dates.

Yes, dates. The food. I’m that kind of person.

As you know, I am new to the vegan scene. As far as I can tell, there are two kinds of vegans. There are the vegans that eat as they always have, removing animal products and loading up on processed foods that are made to taste like meat.

I’m pretty sure you all know this isn’t the type of vegan that I am.

I love me some fresh, unprocessed foods. Give me a fresh mango and I will instantly start salivating. My recent trip to Hawaii nearly brought me to tears when I went to the store and saw that their “local” section contained papayas and pineapples. I am a produce slut.

On top of all of this I love to eat. I’m not a skinny girl, and this is due to the fact that I find comfort in the kitchen. My idea of a good weekend is hours of baking and menu planning for the week. I’m not going to lie, when I picture my dream future it includes running a vegan catering company.

It also includes owning a farm, being a goat whisperer and marrying a man with rough hands and a full beard.

I digress.

If I were to run a vegan catering company, a staple in such a place would be the date truffles. (I got back to dates, it just took a while…) These puppies are literally the easiest recipe I have ever made, they are so god damn addicting AND they are healthy. I made them for my grandma’s 80th birthday party, and they were a huge success. So I spent my Sunday night listening to Pandora, making my weekly batch of granola and chocolate truffles. Perfect way to start the week, if I do say so myself.

Chocolate Truffles (adapted from Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook– aka, my bible)

2 cups walnuts

1 cup dates

4 tbsp dark cocoa powder

Shredded coconut

– Place walnuts in food processor, blend until walnuts are a fine grain consistency.

– Add in the dates and cocoa powder and blend until everything is combined.

– Roll mixture into truffle sized balls and roll in coconut until covered.

-Store in an airtight container in the fridge and pop those babies in your mouth when you are either looking for a dessert of wanting a little boost of energy. They are healthy, remember?

Breakdowns.

Here are some things I have learned in the past week.

  • I dislike situations where I can’t find a solution, and I am not in control.
  • I have friends that are incredible and won’t allow me to be silly and reclusive. Thanks guys.
  • Break downs and a few good sessions of crying make for a whole lot of stress relief.
  • It is okay to feel things. Showing emotion doesn’t make me a weak person, and I am not sure why I hold most everything in. I suppose it is my fear of confrontation and feeling petty and stupid if I let myself be emotional. Blurgh.
  • I have insane mood swings around “my time of the month.” (Why I used quotations? No reason)
  • I really need to take a step back from stalking people online—which means I really need to take a step back from Facebook. (Good thing wordpress posts this bad boy on there without me having to sign on.. oh technology, you make this too easy).
  • I have over 160 pins (for those not on Pinterest, get with the lingo already. I am terrified by tweeting, but this pinning shit? I have it DOWN)  revolving around food. All of which is vegan, all of which looks incredible and delicious. I plan on trying to make a few recipes from there each week… otherwise what is the point of pinning them? Am I right?
  • It is St. Patrick’s Day this weekend, I got positive work related news and I am going to get back into rock climbing. (See what I did there? I made it positive at the last-minute to show that things will always be okay and get better. Keep calm and carry on, right?)

To summarize how this week made me feel as a whole, I leave you with this post from Happyolks, one of my favorite food blogs, and a quote from my favorite nature writer. I read the quote and felt inspired; I read the blog post and started crying.

Yes, you heard me correctly. I started weeping over a food blog post. Mainly because of what was written, but also because I just love sweet potatoes that much… heh.

This is my living faith, an active faith, a faith of verbs: to question, explore, experiment, experience, walk, run, dance, play, eat, love, learn, dare, taste, touch, smell, listen, speak, write, read, draw, provoke, emote, scream, sin, repent, cry, kneel, pray, bow, rise, stand, look, laugh, cajole, create, confront, confound, walk back, walk forward, circle, hide, and seek.

-Terry Tempest Williams-

Ode to the Weekend

It was a weekend for deep cleaning and solitary trips to the farmers market. The kind of weekend for a coffee date that inspires you to not back down from things that intimidate you. I love those coffee dates. The ones where you realize your beverage has gone cold hours ago. Where the laughter is contagious and you fill the empty spaces and solitary study-ers with giggling and new life plans.

This weekend was a time to be mellow. To be alone. To order take out and watch too many episodes of bad television. To go our for drinks and realize your itty bitty friend can drink you under the table. It was a weekend to realize I could easily become a cheap date. A weekend for shameless flirtations with the shellfish man whose broad smile and kind eyes make me blush.

It was a weekend to spend some time writing– reaffirm my ambitions to advance my career in public health and one day find a man who works with his hands.

This weekend was forgetting to exercise and feeling the consequences of sluggishness and the lack of motivation to try. This weekend was for bonding with my hound dog– snuggling on the floor, his head resting in the crook of my elbow.

It was the kind of weekend where hours were spent in the kitchen on mediocre recipes. Where one night called for late night popcorn and watching an hour of my life disappear (ah, to “spring” forward).

It was two days where nothing of importance happened– nothing big was accomplished. Perhaps a weekend that you could deem as a waste of time. Which I won’t, as it gave me a sense of calm and lit a fire under me to figure my shit out.

I will associate this weekend with a kale/walnut pesto that I made. It is a simple recipe, not a lot to it– but when all of the ingredients come together it is like your taste buds are doing the boogie woogie on your tongue.

Enjoy.

Kale and Walnut Pesto (vegan, of course)

Ingredients:

  1. One bunch of dinosaur kale
  2. 1 cup walnuts
  3. Juice of half a lemon
  4. 1/4 cup olive oil
  5. 4 cloves of garlic
  6. 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  7. Salt and Pepper

Directions:

  • Toss all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend. Done and done. I added a bit more lemon juice to thin it out, and then tossed it over some sweet potato gnocchi (mediocre… at best). BUT it would be good over most anything.
  • ENJOY and have lots of left overs to freeze or eat by the spoonful. Whatevs you want to do.

 

A Walking Cliche

Yep. I am a walking cliché. I believe that this term usually has a  negative connotation attached to it, but I own that baby with PRIDE. I AM A CLICHÉ—HOLLER.

It is true. When you think of all things Seattle and Pacific Northwest, I embody them. You know that show Portlandia? How it takes all of the stereotypes of Portland and mimics them—it wouldn’t be as funny if it weren’t so god damn true. This is also the case in Seattle.

Yes, I wear flannel and drive a Subaru. Yep, I have a black lab, a raised garden bed and I listen to NPR. Uh huh, I totally ride a bike that is from the 80s, I have super fair skin and I am a vegan. And yes, I practice yoga regularly and try to go to a farmers market every weekend. I want to hike, snowshoe and climb mountains. My roommate and I are going to start brewing beer. I drink coffee like it is water, and sling lattes like nobody’s business. To top it all off, I am insanely attracted to men with big, full faced beards.

I am a Subaru commercial in the flesh—and I OWN THAT SHIT.

I wrap all of that up and live my day-to-day reveling in all of that stereotypical nonsense.

I am what I am, and proud of it.

So on that note: here is an awesome vegan falafel recipe I whipped up today while listening to John Prine as a drooling hound dog padded behind me, looking for scraps.

I tossed the falafel and dressing together over a bed of spinach and cucumber… it was the perfect lunch. I have a shit ton of left overs as well, so I had it for dinner and will probably be eating it for the next few days. I do enjoy a good leftover.

Quick and Easy Falafel with Homemade Green Goddess Dressing

Adapted from The Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped red peppers
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Dash of Cayenne pepper
  • 1 can rinsed garbanzo beans
  • 1 package of firm tofu
  • Handful of fresh parsley
  • ¼ Cup Tahini
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Sautee garlic and onions for five minutes in some olive oil.

Add in red peppers and cumin, coriander, salt and cayenne pepper.

In a food processor, combine tofu, chick peas, soy sauce, tahini and parsley—pulse until well mixed, but don’t turn it into a paste…

Mix everything together in a big bowl and add the bread crumbs

Spoon out ½ portions onto a well oiled baking sheet.

Bake those puppies for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Mine were perfect after 30 minutes.

For dressing:

  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 cup oil

Combine all ingredients, except for oil into a food processor and puree until smooth and creamy.

Slowly add oil until well mixed.

 

 

 

 

 

My Grandma

I am scrambling around like a mad woman. This weekend is the celebration of my grandma’s 80th birthday. My co-worker laughed at my stress as I wrote out the lists of things I had yet to do to prepare, “What are you guys doing, throwing a big party?” She asked sarcastically. I looked her squarely in the eyes and said, “Yes, my grandma likes to party.”

She does, she really does.

You know how when you think of grandmas sometimes your mind goes to that unfortunate stereotype? Grandmas with white hair, the ones that smell like old and shuffle around in floral aprons? The grandmas that spend their days knitting and petting cats? The ones who bake all morning and nap all afternoon?

Well, that isn’t my grandma.

My grandma has an aura that dominates my world. She is my role model in how to live my life. Her motto? No guilt, no jealously. She thrives off of loving, could talk until the cows come home and has a laugh that shakes the foundations of unhappiness and doubt. Her bedroom is her boudoir, rich in reds and oriental accents. Here we host midnight tea parties and delve into her past escapades as the hours disappear.

To know my grandma is to know passion, humor and a tad bit of crazy. The kind of eccentricity that led to four marriages, a plethora of off-the-wall stories and a closet collaged with nearly nude/completely nude men (honestly, she calls it her butt wall). Her crazy leads to eye rolls and belly laughs, and to moments of shock and amazement at the things that come out of her mouth.

To put it simply, my grandma is unique.

So this weekend we will come together and celebrate the woman that we all know and love so deeply. We are celebrating her 80 years on this earth. Celebrate how people like her brighten this cynical place. She is a reminder to take yourself a little less seriously, take life as it comes and to always let your hair down.

Oh, and if there is anything I have learned from my grandma it is to ALWAYS have a back stock of wine and champagne. You never know when the opportunity to party will present itself.

Grandma Carol, I raise my glass to you. Happy birthday.

Yes, this is my grandma. Yes, she was made into a postcard. And yes, she is a total babe.