Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I'm getting married. Yep!

That is all. ;-)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Heard on the streets of Chicago yesterday


...in a really strange voice, too.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Vegan on Vacation

Hellooooo...here's me checking after a little over a week! BAD! But, I'm still livin' la vegan loca. GOOD!

This past weekend Dave and I took our veganism experiment on vacation. Whew! We barely survived it. We spent two days and two nights in Spring Green, Wisconsin (read: middle of nowhere) to see the House on the Rock and tour the Cave of the Mounds. Usually when we're on vacation it's no holds barred as far as food goes. We always pick local places to eat and we always let ourselves indulge. While fun at the time, we usually come home vowing to eat nothing but fruit and salad for the next week because we're so gross and full from overdoing it.

Look, y'all, I'm on vacay.

Not this time! We had to plan carefully and skip out on a lot of tasty but unhealthy treats. On the drive to Spring Green we stopped in Madison to eat at the vegan/vegetarian restaurant The Green Owl Cafe. WOW! Great selection and really great prices, to boot. I had the vegan 'crab' cake po boy with kale crisps and Dave got the curry melt with roasted potatoes and a side of chili. I was thrilled to discover that the special dessert of the evening was a vegan version of my favorite cake in the world, black forest cake. It was AWESOME! You seriously couldn't tell it was vegan.

Our hotel featured a schmancy pants restaurant that served breakfast and dinner. We were worried. Bacon, eggs, pancakes, ham...absolutely nothing vegan. We surrendered to the a la carte menu--they had oatmeal cooked in water (we asked) and a fresh fruit plate. We were pretty sad about missing out on all the 'good' stuff until our server came out with two huge bowls of oatmeal sprinkled with cinnamon and sliced apples with a side of brown sugar and raisins. It was really good! Combined with the fresh fruit, it was a great healthy breakfast that got our day started without wiping us out from a sugar overload (which is what would have happened had we not been doing the vegan challenge).

We were very fortunate to have a friend's recommendation to visit the General Store in Spring Green. While looking at the menu on the wall we mumbled to the guy at the cash register that we were vegan and he said, "well you've pretty much come to the only place in town for that." Not only was it the only place with vegan options, it was probably the place with the best tasting food and nicest atmosphere. Every local in town seemed to be there. A live blueglass band hummed in the background and we'd hit the jackpot with our lunch order--sweet potato peanut soup and veggie burger for Dave; vegan chili and a lemon tanini veggie hummus sandwich for me. But then came the sad part--they had a peach bread pudding special for dessert that was in no way vegan. I asked one of the servers there if they had any vegan desserts and after checking with the kitchen she came back with a (devastating) no. Gah! Sadness.

General Store, you were so good to us!

Afterwards we visited a tea shop across the street and saw she had ginger snap cookies. "Those can be vegan sometimes, I think," I said to Dave. I asked the lady at the counter and she said, "Well, I've got the recipe in the back, let me go see." After flipping through at 3.5 inch binder full of recipes she delivered the sad news: "nope. It's got eggs." Dammit! Need sweets!

We settled for a gourmet dark chocolate bar, but it wasn't the same as a gooey bread pudding or spicy ginger cookies. But, on the other had, we had a ton of energy to explore the little downtown area of Spring Green because we had eaten so well.

Because we ate a late lunch and we had a microwave back at our hotel room, we decided to try to get creative and eat in for dinner. We went to a grocery store, bewildered by the task of trying to find something that was vegan AND microwavable AND didn't require any additional kitchenware (we had no bowls or plates in the room). Enter Annie Chun's Noodle Bowls and the problem was solved. We picked up some junk food to aid our evening goal of zoning out in front of the cable TV...chips and salsa and salt and vinegar potato chips.

The next morning we went back to the General Store for breakfast and enjoyed some ridiculously good tofu migas (which I hope to figure out how to replicate). After touring the Cave of the Mounds we decided to check out the antiquing in nearby tiny town Mt. Horeb. We started to get hungry and saw an old fashioned diner across the street, so we went there hoping to find a snack. Good. Luck. The people were super sweet and completely fascinated by our challenge. They ran down the list of menu items ("Pie? Let me see. Nope. Eggs.") and we settled for homefries ("Cooked in oil, not butter.") and an English muffin ("We'll make sure it's dry.") They sat with us our entire meal to hear the grueling tale of being vegan for the entire month of January.

It's Dave in a cave!

On our way back to Chicago we swung back through Madison to eat at the Indonesian restaurant Bandung which made me a believer in tempeh again. There's no way I can put into words how insanely, ridiculously, extraordinarily great the food is there. If you're in Madison, please eat there. Good lord. We ended the trip with a visit to Willy St. Co-op and finally got to indulge on some TREATS! Vegan pumpkin cookies, vegan bran muffins, vegan sesame bar...we even picked up some of the Bandung's tempeh while we were there. We ate our sweets all the way home to Chicago still feeling full of energy, feeling just as light and healthy as before our trip, and feeling proud to have stuck to our vegan challenge despite all the chances to bail. Hooray!

Final thoughts: awwwwesome antique store find.

Friday, January 7, 2011

One Full Week Vegan!


Things I Can Take Back With Me to the Other Side

I don't care if you're vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, omnivore, carnivore, flexitarian, fleximoron, you will LOVE LOVE LOVE coconut milk ice cream.

While blowing my dough over at Whole Foods grocery shopping last weekend I decided to hit up the ice cream aisle before walking to the check-out line to meet my financial fate. A treat for being true to my eating goals and for being too lazy to pick up the rest of my groceries at a regular grocery store like I had plan.

I had heard rumors of the frozen dream that is coconut milk ice cream, but I had never tried it. I picked up a small carton of Turtle Mountain's Purely Decadent Mocha Almond Fudge (100% vegan).

3/4's empty carton later (hey, Dave helped!) and here's what I have to say:


If coconut milk was the original choice for making into ice cream, we'd all look like Jabba the Hut right now.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My interview on Outside the Loop Radio

I was on WLUW's Outside the Loop Radio this morning to discuss my one month vegan
challenge. Thanks to host Mike Stephen for inviting me on his show to discuss this topic!

Listen here:

OTL: Episode #224- The Vegan Experiment, Aldermanic Websites Analyzed, Project Onward Art Program

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Growing Movement

I was born and raised a meat-eating Texan. I love to tell people about my favorite way to finish off a t-bone steak as a child: grab it with my bare hands and dig into the remaining bites like a complete animal. I also used to put chicken skins on my face a la Hannibal Lecter to make my siblings laugh. I was goofy.

I ain't got nothing against people eating some gosh darn meat. But after reading several eye-openings books (Eating Animals and The Ethics of What We Eat, to name a few), watching a few horrifying-but-true videos, and just some plain 'ol soul searching I realized that eating animals just isn't for me...me, personally. I do have some strong opinions about factory farming which might lead me to get preachy, but I'll save that for a post I plan to write called "How to Be Vegan and Not Be Annoying." I try hard not to offend anyone with my new found passion for this subject.

When I first became vegetarian back in May, my sister make a few sarcastic comments about how I'd gone off the deep end. I met a few people who talked to me like I was an alien after declaring I don't eat meat ("How do you LIVE??!") I even felt discomfort at certain dinner gatherings when the host who invited me over discovered I was vegetarian and they hadn't prepared any non-meat options. I hate to inconvenience anyone or make them feel bad--I absorbed just as much guilt as they did.

I know I'm not the first person to dabble with veganism, but man! I can't help but feel something's different this round. When I posted my one-month vegan challenge to Facebook, I received nothing but positive comments (19 comments and growing), several personal messages, recipes suggestions, and encouragement to start blogging about it so my experience could be followed. My brother has decided to join me for two weeks and my sister completely shocked me by calling me to let me know the she and her boyfriend were going to try being vegetarian for one full week. To top it all off, my boyfriend is joining me for a month of veganism too...something I didn't ask him to do but he's doing anyway for the added support.

While I don't expect the majority of people will ever be true full-time vegetarians or vegans (and more power to those who are), it is very heartening to know that more and more people are waking up to the fact that maybe this country has gone a little overboard on the animal product consumption. Even just these little challenges, whether it be to have a vegetarian day every now and then, or be a vegan for a week or even a month, helps us see what a meat-crazed society we live in. The way meat is produced and consumed in this country contributes to our obesity epidemic, it pollutes our environment, it affects families who live downstream from factory farms, it wipes out farmers who are trying to make a living doing things the old-fashioned way but can't because high meat demand means get big or get out, and of course we can't forget the hundreds of thousands of animals who die a traumatic death--most of which never get the decency of living a regular, stress-free day in their life--just so we can have what we perceive to be a 'real' meal.

(That's me getting preachy again--yeesh!)

Even just a little consciousness of how much we're consuming goes a long way in the end, and I'm just plain grateful to personally know an ever-growing amount of people who have taken the time to think a little more about what goes on their plates each day.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Vegan Bran Muffins

Breakfast is a challenging time for a new vegan, I tell you what. It's been a long time since I've cared about bacon and I prefer Earth Balance to butter and almond milk to cow's milk. Eggs are tough, though. If you think about it, they're like *the* quintessential breakfast food.

What have my vegan breakfasts consisted of so far? Steel cut oats, lots of fruit, whole grain toast with aforementioned Earth Balance (so tasty!) There are many alternatives to regular cow's milk yogurt, too (soy, coconut milk, yummy Good Belly probiotic juice). Pancakes, waffles, and even french toast are easy to make vegan. You know what else is? BRAN MUFFINS. They've become my new breakfast delicacy.

I altered this recipe from one I found on vegweb.com, and you too can alter the ingredients to include what you want. What's the big whoop about bran? Well...

Bran is an awesome source of fiber but in addition to this it's also 'rich in omegas, starch, protein, vitamins and dietary minerals, making it a compact nutritional powerhouse. ' (linky)

Add the antioxidant properties of raisins and the omega-3s and vitamin E of walnuts and you've got yourself one mean multinutritional muffin.

Here's the recipe!


1 1/2 cup wheat bran
1 cup soy milk (or almond, rice, hemp, whatever)
6 tablespoons applesauce (no sugar added kind)
2/3 cups turbinado sugar (or substitute agave, or sucanet)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
handful of raisins and chopped walnuts (or whatever you want--carrots, zucchini, cranberries, blueberries, etc)

  • Combine wheat bran and milk. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  • Beat applesauce, sugar, vanilla. Add to wheat bran mixture.
  • Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • Add wet ingredients to dry.
  • Fold in raisins and chopped walnuts (or filling of your choice)
Bake at 350 degrees for 16-20 minutes

Serves: 12

Preparation time: 15 minutes prep

My advice: make these at the beginning of the week so you can grab one on your way out the door throughout the week. Also, experiment with the sugar amount. I personally put a bit less in and it tasted fine. Whatever you do, don't use regular white sugar. It's terrible for you and it sure as heck ain't vegan.

Monday, January 3, 2011

January = Vegan

As part of my new years resolution, I've decided to spend the entire month of January eating vegan--a decision I'm very, very happy with.

I've dabbled with veganism this past summer and I never felt better. I had tons of energy and woke up feeling great each morning. I actually got to a point where the smell of dairy repulsed me. I quit after Dave's family visited for over a week and I needed to cook more family friendly meals.

I've been vegetarian for 8 months with hopes of doing the vegan thing again on a more regular basis. It took reading Skinny Bitch over the holidays to remind me again why I wanted to try to eat a more vegan diet. It's a good book--really more of a vegan manifesto than a diet book. It is an incredibly easy read...a dumbed down version of Eating Animals or The China Study or Omnivore's Dilemma. My favorite thing about it is it's been able to reach a broad audience who normally would never pick up a book about veganism and helped them see the health and environmental hazards of a meat-heavy diet.

One of the people it reached was my brother, Sean. While making an epic trek from Tampa, FL, to Missoula, MT, together this Christmas, I lent him my copy because he had nothing to read. By the time we had landed for our layover in Minneapolis he was overly curious to see if eating vegan would help him lose a couple unneeded pounds he put on while finishing up his degree in Computer Engineering (and graduating with honors!)

So we started a bet on Fatbet.net that we'd be vegan for two weeks (although I'm planning the whole month). If I make it, Sean will buy me the African thumb piano I wanted but didn't get for Christmas. If he makes it, I will give him money equal to that of the thumb piano. If we fail we have to donate $50 to Kiva.org and still reward the winner if they go the full two weeks.

I was really surprised to see such a positive response on Facebook when I first posted about this personal "challenge" (challenge may not be the correct word; it's actually been really fun and easy). I received many requests that I blog about it so here I am. I'll try to get as many recipes on here as I can. Stay tuned!