Winter Days

Many of you asked me about the brown rice cream in my last post. The company Erewhon makes it and you can order it online or check to see if it’s at your local grocer. It’s a really great 100% organic creamy cereal that’s a bit heartier than cream of wheat and is also gluten-free.

On the topic of answering questions, if anybody has any others for me regarding anything, don’t be afraid to ask! I’d be more than happy to answer.

The heavenly smell of the caramelized banana was wafting through my apartment.

This bowl = Oikos yogurt + Udi’s Hawaiian granola + caramelized banana + Sunland’s banana peanu butter. Let me remind you what’s in the Hawaiian granola (which is my favorite by the way)… ginger-toasted macadamias, pineapple, and coconut. I also did something special to the yogurt–sweetened it and also added a bit of coconut extract to give it an extra tropical flair. Yuuuuum!

I quickly put together this lunch before my Literary Journalists class.

The rest of the Health Valley vegetarian chili mixed in with bulgur wheat, hickory smoke sauce, corn, and mushrooms. I also had a side of steamed kale tossed in olive oil.

Something new to try...

Remember when I found the new caramel Oikos flavor in my last post? My first thought when I saw it I was disappointed because it looked like the plain yogurt. But then it occurred to me that it was probably at the bottom of the cup. Correct-o-mundo! First I tried it alone and I have to recommend this to everyone! There was nothing weird or funky about this. The caramel and the Greek yogurt blended together smoothly and tasted so yummy together. It’s sweet indeed, but it didn’t have an artificial taste.

Then it hit me--combine a diced jazz apple with the caramel Oikos...

And another idea hit me!

I wanted nuts but also something crunchier. Solution? Top it all off with vanilla & almond granola. Caramel apple much? This was refreshing and full of flavor!

For my to-go dinner I used a Sabra to-go cup and mixed in some pesto and cumin.

Thanks to my friend for giving me these Sabra to-go cups--mixed in some pesto and cumin.

Trader Joe's handmade flour tortilla + pesto & hummus + veggies + cilantro

I had to go to photoshoot that night for a Valentine’s Day ad for a hip restaurant around here. I’ll let you guys know when the pictures come out! It was very different to be the one in front of the lens, but so much fun!

The other day when I saw hot cocoa in Holly's post I made some that night and I stumbled upon something I miraculously forgot!

Maya’s homemade marshmallows she sent me awhile back! How did I forget I still had some left? Well I knew just what I wanted to use them for. I already knew they were delicious alone and with hot cocoa, so I wanted to incorporate them into my favorite meal of the day. I made a bowl of oatmeal with chocolate protein powder, hot cocoa mix, coconut oil, and topped them with the lovely marshmallows. On the side I also had a sliced apple with Sunland’s caramel peanut butter.

They started to melt right in!

I made a tzatziki sauce with of Oikos plain Greek yogurt + other various ingredients.

The recipe can be found here! I also added in a bit more garlic because I’m a lover.

Such a refreshing lunch... in the middle of winter!

I made a falafel wrap and a salad on the side–both topped with fresh and creamy tzatziki. The falafels I made the other day were definitely winners!

So. Good. I literally stopped everything to just sit and enjoy every bite of this wrap.

More snacking on the go!

I got back in touch with autumnal flavors with the Maple Pecan Boomi Bar. I was asked to go shopping with a guy friend of mine. He said he needed a lady’s expertise to find the right button-down shirt. Too funny!

Strike a pose!

And then I was asked if I could be treated to coffee. Yes please!

We both ordered soy cappuccinos and I dusted mine with the dolce spice. Not sure what it is, but it sure smelled good!

I love foam!

After finding the perfect button-down and some other things we headed back home, but he had to make a quick stop at Trader Joe’s. What?! I got to go twice in one week! One of the cashiers swore he saw me riding my bike on a road I know I probably wasn’t cruising down recently. I’ve been told many times that I have a doppleganger walking around. Hmm?

I woke up to this today!

Matilda had on three layers for her morning walk.

Check out my super stylin' babe!

Blinded by the light!

A whole new world.

She kind of looks like a little old man hehe.

Matilda is so tiny!

At some point Matilda let us know that walking time was over so I picked her up and ran back home to warm my poor baby up.

Then I started to prepare a hearty meal for us--perfect for a snow day.

Such a comforting meal.

I just started to cook things that I felt would be delicious together. I cooked some bulgur wheat. Then sauteed onions and garlic with curry and cumin. Then I added the water and red lentils, bay leaves, diced tomatoes, green peas, hickory smoke, vegan Worcestershire, and red miso paste. After it was all done simmering I mixed the bulgur wheat, lentils, and swirled in some coconut oil for the final touch.

Here is some exciting news that I have to share with you all. Remember in my last post I talked about being very busy but enjoying what I’m doing and trying new things? Well recently I went to a model call for a local boutique around here. They’re hosting a fashion show featuring local talents and what not. I decided to give it a try and people of all sizes could come! I seriously thought I wouldn’t get a call back because I was lacking that “model attitude” when I did my walk, but maybe they saw something in me because I got a call back and I’m in!

I hope all of you are enjoying your weekends whether you’re snowed in, bundled up, or soaking up the sun even! Tonight I plan on going bar “crawling” through the snow with some friends. Should be fun!

Letting Things Happen and Trying New Things

Erewhon's Brown rice cream + pumpkin + vanilla protein powder + coconut oil + spices + molasses + brown sugar + Sunland's caramel peanut butter melted in.

Nothing’s better than a bowl of yummy creaminess on a cold winter’s day.

A sort of platter

I was inspired by this recipe. I caramelized the apples and walnuts, baked the brie and sesame Italian bread. For the kale I just steamed it till the green turned vibrant.

So delicious... the bread was crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside

Winning combo!

Greek yogurt + pumpkin + raisins + maple syrup + cranberry & walnut granola

I let the raisins soak in the Greek yogurt overnight–I actually forgot about doing that because when I saw it in the morning I thought my yogurt started to grow mold. You can imagine I was like, “how does this happen overnight?!” Then the “a-ha” moment was had and I remembered, “oh that’s right those are raisins.” So I happily enjoyed this for breakfast without worry of possibly contracting some sort of illness. Anyhow, I love the crunch of the granola and nuts mixed with creamy yogurt and chewy dried fruit. It’s a nice balance of textures.

When you're in a hurry, readymade food is a blessing!

I knew that can of vegetarian chili from Health Valley would come in handy some time in my semester! I added some of my own touches to it by melting in some dark chocolate and maple syrup. Then I threw in some peas and bulgur wheat and garnished it with cilantro and voila! On the side I steamed some kale and tossed it in olive oil and sprinkled on some salt and chopped almonds. Such an easy meal and tasty as well!

And look at what caught my eye at the store the other day!

A jazz apple!

It was just too pretty not to put in my basket.

On the go snacking...

Lately, when I’m in the comfort of my own home I’ve been snacking on a mixture of granola, soymilk, and peanut butter put it in the microwave. If you like to eat delicious things then I highly recommend this! However, sometimes I’m not at home when snack attack hits me. This is when I rely on dense and full of flavor bars like Boomi Bars. I luckily still have some from when I was sent a box to review. I know I’ve raved about them before, but I really have to do it again. Personally, I think bars with less ingredients taste way better because the flavor doesn’t get lost among the list of unnecessary ingredients. Not to mention, these are more satisfying and filling–just what I need!

While I was on the go I stocked up on some goods...

I got some new things to try!

I got the Gardein “buffalo wings” with the freebie coupon they sent me, so I will let you guys know how the taste testing goes. I’ve never had buffalo wings before so we’ll see what I think! I also finally found two items I’ve been on the lookout for. I’m pretty sure I will love the Sunshine Burger breakfast flavor because which flavor have I not loved so far? Seriously my favorite store-bought veggie burger. Lastly, luck was on my side when I spotted the new caramel Oikos flavor that some bloggers out there have also stumbled upon. I can’t wait to try this out!!

I also made a Trader Joe's stop as well--Whole Foods and Trader Joe's are basically next to each other so it works out beautifully.

I finally got some of their frozen yogurt to see what the dealio is. Well now I know and I must say that I really enjoy the tartness. Let’s see… I spy various fruits and veggies (some frozen) and some handmade flour tortillas. I also got manchego cheese–I have a recipe in mind for this.

Soon after I got home I set out to make some falafels.

I loosely followed this recipe.

I decided to bake them instead since I'm always afraid of burning myself when frying.

Then I made a random dinner.

Up close and personal baby.

I sauteed some mushrooms, red onions, and garlic and reduced it all in balsamic vinegar. Then I assembled the handmade tortilla like so: melted mozzarella, pesto, smoky chipotle and sun-dried red pepper hummus, sauteed veggies, and cilantro. I must say, this was quite the wrap. Randomly delicious.

Still image from my video. Click the link below!

Knowing it All too Well

I have some exciting things that I can’t wait to share with you all. Although this semester I’ve already experienced one of those weeks where it feels like it’s too much effort to even breathe, I’m doing and learning about things I enjoy. Not to mention, I’ve also been doing some things on the side and really immersing myself with new things and giving things a chance. I don’t think I can say it better than the lovely Neela herself, “sometimes in life you don’t know where things are going–right now it feels even better to NOT know where it’s going!” In a way that’s how I feel right now. I’m doing things to experience them mainly without expecting anything back, but I’m okay with that. Going out there and doing new things in itself, brings me fulfillment.

Catching a Breath

I have been a busy busy girl lately! So let’s jump right in!

Smoky Chipotle and Roasted Red-Pepper Hummus

An interesting mix: Kale, Potato, Tofurky Kielbasa, tomato, and cilantro

When I was frying the potatoes I thought my mom had given me the Bratkartofeln seasoning, but then I realized it seemed different. She had actually given me a salad seasoning! So I decided to throw in some other spices like curry and mustard.

Then my friend picked me up and we headed to the new two-story XXI!

We spent hours in that store and here are some things I tried on…

A pretty one-shoulder top

Super cute skirt alert!

Then we finally got home and got ready for a night of dancing!

Crazy girls on the loose!

We met up at our friend’s place for some honey wine and then headed out. The place had a ridiculous line that actually went around the block so we decided to go somewhere else. Just going with flow! Who knows what the night could behold.

I stayed over my friend's place and he dropped me off in the morning and as a thank you I made breakfast: baked oatmeal!!!

I don’t think he’d ever had anything like it before.

I pretty much spent my Saturday cleaning and baking.

I made April’s famous bread. Whenever I see it on her blog I always think about how good it looks! I didn’t have flaxseed however, but she said protein powder would work as a substitution. So I made a protein powder blend of: chocolate, vanila, and hemp. So moist and yummy!

Enjoyed with coconut oil, granola, almonds, and soymilk.

And with coconut oil and Almond and Date Creme (look at the whole almond on the left!)

Dinnah time!

Take notes when I tell you what I did with the veggies. I boiled the kale, roasted the butternut squash with cinnamon and cracked black pepper. Then I sauteed some red onion and mixed the veggies together. For the finishing touch I drizzled on some Apple & Maple syrup and sprinkled on some sunflower seeds. I also got to try another flavor of Popchips. That time around I tried the salt and pepper potato chips–yum! I really liked the little kick the pepper gave it. Definitely not lacking in flavor. I’d also like to report that the sour cream & onion Popchips are my favorite and the runner up is the cheddar! I was disappointed with the barbeque flavor though. I also tried the parmesan & garlic which was interesting but I think it could’ve been kicked up a knotch.

Then I got dressed up to go to a "dress up as your favorite decade" ska show.

Actually, Saturday night involved lots of good music. First I went to some friends’ house show and I was left in a trance because of how dreamy all the music was. Then I went to the themed ska show and got funky! Not only did I get funky but they also held a “Best Costume” contest. Whoa! Unexpected but I just went up stage and brought out my inner old Hollywood glam-girl. Guess who got the crowd roaring and ended up winning? It felt so awesome being on stage and listening to everyone really loving it! So much fun.

Diamonds are a girls best friend.

I wore some vintage clip-on earrings given to me by the boutique's storeowner back when I was in 10th grade.

I was going for the glamorous days of the 1940's.

And a little sneak-peak of the future--black polish.

Continuing on... honeydew melon and pomegranate arils are so refreshing.

Winning sandwich combo + roasted butternut squash tossed in coconut oil, pumpkin pie spice, and brown sugar

Sandwich: Smoky Chipotle and Roasted Red-pepper hummus + avocado-yogurt & cumin + tomato + red onion + cilantro

Breakfast for dinner

I made a bowl of “carrot cake” cream of wheat + dates + crushed cookie + pecans + coconut oil

Thank goodness for these on busy school days!

I tried a new Probar I picked up while I was in Florida–knew these would come in handy. I hadn’t tried Art’s Original Blend before, but I will definitely be trying it again and again. I love biting into Probars because they are so chewy and dense with chunky ingredients. I mean… check out that jumbo carob chip! A blend of some seriously yummy things, how could one go wrong?

Funky town sandwich: pumpkin seed butter + honey and the other slice smeared with preserves.

Many sandwiches have been had over these past couple of days, but I'm not complaining.

This particular one stands out though because I used roasted butternut squash (tossed in coconut oil and spices) + Sunland’s caramel peanut butter + a bit of cottage cheese. I highly advise you try this ASAP. I think any nut butter will work, so no worries if you don’t have a specific one on hand. In fact, I plan on trying this out with cashew butter next!

Phew! Okay so that was a lot. Today was my sculpture class’s first critique and I plan on posting the video I made on the internet soon. I’ll let you guys know when I do that! Moreover, tonight I went to a model call for a runway show that will showcase local talents and what not at a local art gallery. Oh! I also had my first Seminar in Hinduism class. I’ve always been really interested in Indian culture and I know religion is a very big part of it. Last semester I took a Taoism class and loved it; now I’ll be learning about Hinduism. I think it’s important to introduce oneself to new ideas because you never know what you could be missing out on. Life–for me–is a journey that also involves spirituality and it’s something that I really enjoy expanding upon. It helps me feel more alive.

Creative Sweets

First off, I’d like to thank everyone for giving me their input. You’re all right! I also talked about it with some more friends and I’m feeling more confident already. Afterall, people can’t read our minds so it’s up to us to put it out there.

The papaya was extra vibrant because I had frozen it–whoa mama!

I had Oikos plain Greek yogurt, one of my favorite granolas (Hawaiian flavor by Udi’s), and Sunland’s banana peanut butter. This was a creamy yet refreshing breakfast with some tartness from the yogurt and sweetness from all of the above.

Hmm… what could be hiding in one of my favorite dishes?
Voila!

I love making things to put in my casserole dish. In this I just mixed some things together I thought would taste very yummy together. I boiled some kale and rinsed it off then massaged it in olive oil and sea salt. I roasted a sweet potato and butternut squash and tossed it in olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper. Tucked away and nearly forgotten in my lazy Susan was a bag of Bob’s Red Mill 10-grain cereal–love this stuff for savoury things. I finished off the bag since there was a little over a serving left in it. Then I mixed it all in my casserole dish and topped it off with Tofurky’s Kielbasa, sunflower seeds for crunch, and some tamarind-date chutney. This was, to be blunt, amazingly delicious and so satisfying to every square inch of my taste buds. I actually thought of Maya and Eliza when I was eating this because I know they make such wonderful medley dishes!

This breakfast smelled like heaven and tasted like a piece of it too!

I cooked some cream of wheat with a vanilla protein powder I kidnapped from my parents–hey it’s not like they’re using it! I cooked it with half an apple and cinnamon as well. I topped it off with a lot of delicious granola, the rest of the diced apple, Sunland’s caramel peanut butter, and I drizzled it with Apple & Maple syrup. Gosh, I wish I could share the aroma that was wafting through the air from this bowl of comforting goodness. It was a dreary day so this made it a bit brighter and soothed my soul.

My favorite veggie burger plopped happily on a giant bed of kale and corn!

In case you don’t know what my favorite veggie burgers are they’re Sunshine burgers! I still haven’t gotten my hand on the breakfast flavor, but I’ve tried all the others and they all get two thumbs way up. What’s that green gunk?

I made this recipe in forever ago, but I knew this would be perfect for my very ripe avocados.

It’s an avocado-yogurt dip with cumin and it tastes so delicious even by itself… by the spoon full! I put used a little more cilantro than the recipe called for because that’s just how I roll. I love dips, especially if they’re creamy. The first time I made this was for a party we were having at my house and let me tell you–that dip was the first thing to disappear.

I put frozen honeydew melon bits in my tea + more honey.

I love frozen fruits and I am constantly getting them from the freezer throughout the day when I just want something quenching and flavorful. You know what else I love?

Snacking while reading–One Lucky Duck’s Rosemary Quakers are intensely rich in flavor.

That book was actually recommended last semester to me by one of my sculpture professors. Well, I decided to take a class with him again this semester because I think he’s endlessly inspiring and has such a vast amount of knowledge I could just listen to him talk all day. He reminded me of the book and it was funny because I had just glanced at the old post-it note with the book recommendation. Since he didn’t have it on him at the time he said it would be available for me to pick up from his mailbox later in the day. Well I went back later and what’d I find when I cracked the book open? He had written me a note saying that he hopes I enjoy it as much as he did! The book is mine! This means so much to me because I feel like someone sees this potential in me and wants to help me find my direction. When a teacher has faith in you, it’s so encouraging.

Popopop

This time around I tried the original flavor of Popchips. Once again, loved the texture of these chips. They seem like they’re half-way between a crispy thin potato chip and a crunchy rice cracker. This is actually because they neither bake or fry their potatoes. Instead they put enough and heat and pressure to pop them–like popcorn!And these were definitely not too salty.

Dipped in the avocado-yogurt dip of course.

Corn Chowder

I got this recipe from “The Conscious Cook” and I had a feeling it would be delicious because it called for the cashew cream. I love how I can make the cashew cream beforehand and save it for various recipes in the book + my own recipes! Such a versatile thing to have and it gives things a delicious richness, and it’s such a great alternative for making things dairy-free. For instance, with this recipe the cashew cream was used instead of heavy cream. I’ve never had chowder before but I can vouch for this anyway–delectable. This was perfect for my mood because it had been a dreary day and all I wanted was something comforting. I even had barbeque Popchips on the side which actually went really well with the chowder. However, the barbeque Popchips themselves weren’t really that great in flavor. I just wish they were a bit smokier.

I also received a very very very exciting package from a dear friend–can’t thank her enough.

Liz just needs to be a professional surprise party planner or something! These are one of my favorite chocolates and I haven’t been able to try all the flavors out but now I can! Here are the 3400 Phinney flavors (prepare to wipe drool off your mouth in second):

Hazelnut Crunch Milk Chocolate

A generous combination of hazelnut brittle and milk chocolate with just the right touch of salt. Unanimously voted one of our yummiest creations ever by our Theonista tasting panel.

Vanilla Milk Chocolate

A harmonious blend of finely ground Madagascar vanilla bean and milk chocolate.

Chai Milk Chocolate

Milk chocolate with a warming blend of chai spices and black tea.

Coconut Curry Milk Chocolate

Milk chocolate with toasted coconut and savory curry spices.

Fig, Fennel & Almond Dark Chocolate

Crunchy slivered almonds, sweet chewy figs, and a touch of fennel in rich dark chocolate. Satisfyingly delicious, and a Vegan dream come true!

Nib Brittle Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate with organic roasted cocoa nibs in sweet and crunchy brittle.

Bread and Chocolate Dark Chocolate

An innovative twist on a traditional pairing, featuring dark chocolate with buttery, toasted artisan breadcrumbs and the perfect amount of salt

Coffee Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate and a robust locally-roasted organic, Fair-Trade-Certified™ coffee from Caffé Vita combine to create a full-bodied flavor.

So… is your mouth watering yet?

Speaking of treats, do any of you have any raw vegan dessert cookbook recommendations? I’m looking at you Averie! Just sayin’ you should make a cookbook hehe. Anyway, I find that raw vegan cooking is very rich in flavor and creativity–I love that!  In my life journey I want just continue to expand my cooking knowledge, abilities, and eat delicious food while I’m at it.

Pinch Me, I Must Be Dreaming

First week of school and it’s been fun and hectic. My schedule is in a bit of a dilemma and I’m hoping to get that fixed! It’s frustrating to have my classes–or lack of classes–up in the air. I just want a set schedule, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed and doing what I can. On the bright side, I’ve been catching up with friends and having fun!

Vanilla cinnamon oatmeal + mango + pomegranate arils + coconut oil + cashew butter

Deliciously creamy yet refreshing. These past couple of days have been absolutely beautiful. I always feel at my best when the sun is shining and I can go out without piling on layers of clothes. I guess it’s soothing to my clutter-free ways.

I also sampled some dark chocolate.

When the generous folks over at Newman’s Own sent me an incredible package, they also included their various chocolates. That day I decided to try their 54% dark chocolate. This was really very yummy. One thing I’ve come to love about dark chocolate is how you can just let it melt in your mouth and savor it. Life is like a box of chocolates–lots of little moments to savor. What chocolates would be in your box?

After breakfast I did all my morning things like taking Matilda out on her walk and organizing some things around my place. Then I got ready to finally go to the new gym on my campus with my friend. I think she described it perfectly, “it’s like a mecca.” Here are some pictures I took from their site.

Part of the pool area! They also have a hot tub, lap, and vortex pool

The second level has an indoor track field and even more equipment + racquetball courts

There’s also an indoor turf for soccer and other sports, flat screen TVs, different exercise studios, and crazy digital lockers (that you don’t have to pay for woo!). My friend and I went exploring and goofed off a bit on the machines. Then we went into one of the group exercise rooms and stretched. Next time we’re bringing some speakers though so we can dance… until they kick us out.

And get this... in the center of it all is a giant rock climbing wall!

I haven't had chickpeas in awhile!

I cooked these in coconut oil, cinnamon, and garam masala. I also had the rest of my delicious sweet potato mash from “The Conscious Cookbook” (the one made with cashew cream) and boiled rutabaga with cinnamon. I also drizzled the rutabaga and chickpeas with maple syrup.

Let the adventure begin!

Afterwards I met up with my friend and we were on the hunt for a big room I could dance in. I want to find a space bigger than my room and with mirrors. I’m still on the search! But when we went on our search for the room we explored one of the forgotten buildings on my campus. That picture above was the anatomy room.

We also snuck into the old pool which is now shutdown since my school completed the new gym.

After we explored that building we decided to walk down some streets and go into all the places we always passed but never stepped in. It was so  much fun! I came home and cracked open “The Conscious Cook”…

Gardein "steak" sandwich with watercress, red pepper, and horseradish mayonnaise

I got to try another Gardein product. Last time I had steak I could count my age without using all of my ten fingers. So I can’t honestly say if it tasted like steak. My roommate and our friend said that it smelled like it! I must say that it was very flavorful and didn’t have the chewy texture I remember steak having–which is better. Not to mention, I don’t think I’ve seen very many “steak” products around. I would recommend it if you’re an omnivore trying to make some vegetarian meals, or if you’re a veg-head that likes fake meat products. As for the recipe itself–wow! This had a kick but it was complimented by the mild sweetness of the red bell pepper, and savory “steak”. I couldn’t find a small loaf of focaccia so I just went to Panera and got a sourdough bread roll and seasoned it accordingly.

Check it out now!

A great breakfast for the first day of a new semester!

My roommate’s boyfriend had a special wine that he let me have the rest of. Why was it special? Well, have any of you tried chocolate red wine? That’s right! Chocolate red wine. I made my usual bowl of oats with cinnamon and coconut oil. Then I topped it with peach slices, the last of Bekah’s scented almonds, and the last of the Chocovine. I admit, I felt slightly tipsy after this breakfast.

Since it was a warm, sunny day I decided to have a refreshing lunch.

I had my spiced chickpeas + more coconut oil + avocado + shallot + romaine + a most delicious homemade honey-lime dressing.

The weather wasn't the only thing out of the ordinary that day...

Recently, I received a sampler package from the people over at Popchips. So what was unusual here? Well, for some reason I felt compelled to try the sea salt & vinegar flavor first. Let me just note that I do not like salt & vinegar chips. I ate my own words with this bag. I actually liked these a lot! There was no overwhelming acidic aftertaste from the vinegar. I also really enjoyed the texture of these babies. They seemed to be a bit thicker than normal potato chips. Crunch crunch crunch. Yum yum yum.

I also had a couple of these amazing raw blonde macaroons.

I kid you not–these are now one of my favorite things. Thanks so much Liz for sending me these! Like I said, girl’s got incredible taste! I’d also like to congratulate her for making it on one of the Top Health Blog lists. You go girl!

And a blood orange!

Blood orange!

I met up with one my bests at the center of campus for some coffee and tea.

I tried something new! A tomatillo.

Tomatillo dressing with fresh cilantro.

I hope this keeps my cilantro green for longer!

My first attempt at making a timbale--not too shabby.

Quinoa, Avocado, and Sweet Potato Timbale With Roasted Tomatillo Dressing

I am really enjoying attempting to make all the recipes from “The Conscious Cook”. I feel like Julie in the movie Julie & Julia! This was also my first time cooking quinoa. This was incredibly delicious and would make for a perfect summer dish. All the various textures and flavors worked so well with each other; the crunch from the tortilla bits, creaminess of the avocado, and the graininess of the quinoa were such a treat to my mouth. The tomatillo dressing added a wonderful zest to it all! Not to mention, I was proud of myself for making something so gourmet looking that tasted as equally delicious… if not more!

I wasn't the only one to enjoy this dish! Too good not to share, I say!

I also made butternut squash "fries" tossed in coconut oil and cinnamon + tamarind-date chutney for dipping.

What a great way to end the first day of the semester. We had a delicious meal that ended with dark chocolate and a refreshing walk with Matilda.

This is really random but I have a question for you all. Well first let me go off on a bit of a tangent. I have no problem expressing myself and showing who I am… except for when it comes to romance. It’s not that I still cover my eyes at the sight of people kissing. No, not like that. But it’s more so something I just struggle with personally. I really want to get over that and I think I have to start putting a conscious effort into taking down that wall. Brick by brick. So I was wondering if any of you have any advice on how to just be comfortable with expressing yourself romantically. Thanks!

Lending a Helping Hand

As all of you know, Haiti is going through a devastating time right now. All of us have times in our lives where sometimes it’s just too hard to face something on our own. I thought it would helpful to list a couple of ways that you guys can help out because right now there are some friends that need a helping hand.

Stand with Haiti

Red Cross

The following organizations are accepting SMS donations in the US only:

SMS text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts

SMS text “YELE” to 501501 to Donate $5 to Yele Haiti’s Earthquake Relief efforts

SMS text “GIVE10″ to 20222 to donate $10 to Direct Relief

World Food Programme

If you all could spread the word about ways that we can help, that would be incredible!

Peppercorn-Encrusted Portobello Fillets with Yellow Tomato Béarnaise and Mashed Potatoes

“A classic béarnaise sauce begins with a hollandaise.” Yellow tomatoes were used (for their bright, yolky color) to make the béarnaise.”

The mashed potatoes also used Chef Tal’s cashew cream recipe.
Watercress and Cabbage Stir-Fry

I can’t remember the last time I ate green cabbage, but I had a head of it in my fridge begging me to make something delicious with it. The recipe can be found here.

Sweet and sour green cabbage with California "chicken" salad and some leftover béarnaise

It’s easy to make things sweet and sour. Just use vinegar and sugar when cooking.

My friend gave me a couple of these Sabra-to-go cups–genius!
Watercress and Cabbage Stir-fry + Sandwich
Hummus + Avocado + Sun-dried tomatoes + Horseradish sauce

This sandwich had quite the kick!

After dinner I got ready to go out with some friends. Aye aye captain!
I decided to wear my “samurai” jacket. It had been hiding in my closet for a couple years.
We went to a place where there are a bunch of bars and took the bus my school provides to lessen the chances of drinking and driving–what a great idea.

It was such a fun night. We all danced our hearts out till “Last Call” and got hit on by a few guys. It was really funny. At one point I was looking for my friends and some random guy told me they were “over there.” Well, he was right! The ride back was hilarious and loud. I’m pretty sure I could dance all night given the chance. Saturday rolled around and it was also my roommate’s birthday! It was her day to be treated like a princess, so we did whatever her little heart desired–necessary stop at Target and a few thriftstores!

Decided to go for a comfortable yet chic look.

Heritage fashion? I think I want to replace the buttons with wooden ones.

Another “The Conscious Cook” recipe: California “Chicken” Salad

I used seitan instead of Gardein chick’n, but it still turned out a-okay! Since I didn’t have grapes on hand I just soaked some raisins in water till they were plump. The toasted walnuts gave it an extra crunch and richness. And the lime and agave gave it a freshness that reminded me of summer.

A birthday dinner was in order!

We walked over to a southern food restaurant called Comfort. How’s that for a name? I also imagine it would be the perfect name for a breakfast joint with breakfasts we all dream of being served.

She was hungry!
More lovely company.
First came the water served in mason jars and the breads–cornbread!

I ordered a vegetarian friendly vegetable plate: fried okra, roasted beets, squash casserole, and sweet potato puree.

After I made my order the waiter said that he would’ve ordered the same exact thing! I just remembered these the last time I went to this place and I loved everything except for the beets. That’s weird! I love beets! So naturally I gave them another chance, and I’m glad I did. I also tried a pear cider beer that was so good! No funny face was made afterwards. After dinner we walked home and my roommate tried calling her boyfriend so he could pick up some birthday cake for her. Well his phone was off, but then he magically pulled up in front of us and exclaimed, “I have ice cream cake and lava cake!” What a wonderful coincidence.

A forest of baby’s breath for the birthday girl.
People came over and cake was served–two cakes!

On Sunday I woke up to the sound of rain and birds chirping. So I took it as a cue to make it a low-key day and pamper myself.

Matilda loved the sound of that.
Star-shaped Baked Oatmeal

I know many of you love baked oatmeal and I had never tried it before. That morning I had time and I had patience. I had seen a recipe for baked oatmeal on Eliza and Maya‘s blogs. I didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand so I improvised.

Baked Oatmeal Recipe: Serves 1

1/2 cup quick cooking/old fashion oats

1 tbsp liquid egg whites (I used melted banana since I don’t have eggs)

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/3 cup vanilla hemp milk (I used soy)

1/4 tsp cinnamon + more on top (I used pumpkin pie spice)

*dash of clove and nutmeg and ginger

2 tbsp raisins

1 tbsp apple sauce (I used delicious mashed sweet potato)

Banana

1 tbsp. chopped walnuts (toasted)

Sweetener of choice

*I also added coconut oil when baking.

Preheat oven to 375. In two separate bowls combine the dry ingredients (oats, sweetener, baking powder, spices) and the wet ingredients(egg white, milk, apple sauce) combine the ingredients and stir. Add in the raisins, or any dried fruit of preference.

Pour in a baking dish lined with parchment paper or just spray a pan with cooking spray. Stick in hot oven and bake for 30 minutes, at about 20-25 minutes into the baking process, top with banana slices so they get all warm and sweet!

Plate and top with walnuts or desired nuts or toppings.

I topped mine with banana slices, Sunland's caramel peanut butter, a dash of pumpkin pie spice, and a last minute decision: maple syrup

This was such a wonderful breakfast! Actually, it was the best breakfast I’ve had in awhile. There was just something so comforting about it. I will definitely be making this more often.

Lounging around in one of my favorite robes.

I decided to treat myself to a candle-lit detox bath, a deep-cleansing face mask, some waxing, and nail polishing. It all ended with a restorative and soothing lunar flow yoga practice. I hope you all had an enjoyable weekend and some of you get an extra day off too!

p.s. And don’t forget to check out Katie’s amazing Vita-mix Giveaway!

Out and About


The letter K for breakfast.

K for Katharina

I found a delicious yogurt...

I still have a few freebie coupons from Oikos left and I was on the hunt for the strawberry flavor. Much to my delight I finally found it! I couldn’t wait to try to it because the blueberry one was great. So what’d I think? This was so good! Sometimes those fruit at the bottom yogurts taste really artificial and have a strange texture. But this blended so well with the tart and creamy Greek yogurt.  Now I’m on the search for the caramel flavor!

Another recipe from The Conscious Cook

Asian Tacos with Kinpira and Spinach-Sesame Salad

I didn’t follow this recipe exactly, but it still came out delicious. I didn’t shape the won tons like tacos because I didn’t feel like it, and I substituted rutabaga for burdock root. I also used kale instead of spinach for the side salad. The seitan was cooked with freshly grated ginger and garlic and other various flavor enhancing items. This was such a satisfying lunch. Partly because it felt like a mini-project since there were so many steps.

Me and my roommate started finally decorating the living room!

And she also baked something

Cottage cheese muffins from 101 Cookbooks

These had cottage cheese, parmesan, almond flour, sun-dried tomatoes, eggs, and basil. I surprisingly liked them because I usually don’t like eggy things. However, this did cause my stomach to act up. Eggs + Katharina = Indigestion.

Tada!

Went with one of my favorite ladies to see a salsa band play at this eco-chic restaurant called Balliceaux.

The band

That night, right before the last song, a man asked me if I wanted to dance. That was the first time I said yes. I’m glad I did because I danced salsa in a way I’ve never danced it before. The music and the setting had a great vibe and I felt on top of the world. Being up front and feeling the beat of the conga and the song being brought to life by the playful trumpet, I felt it in my soul and out through my feet. I noticed that I had been smiling so much that my mouth got dry… I could feel the sweat forming in the creases of my pants. He had me doing triple turns and then go right back to the swing of things at the very front. Then the final song ended with a dip but the thrill lasted and left me wide awake at 2:30 in the morning.

I came home to make some hot chocolate with the marshmallows Maya sent me--in my special cup!

Inspired cinnamon breakfast

When I saw Sam’s bowl of cream of wheat I knew I had to have a bowl for myself soon. It looks kind of funky because I used a vanilla protein powder that has spirulina. This was so delicious. I topped it with a diced apple, Sunland’s caramel peanut butter, granola, and homemade cinnamon-sugar wonton crisps.

I have been in the mood for salads!

I guess Florida left me craving fresh foods! I made a salad with romaine, corn, Southwest Sunshine burger topped with Sun-dried tomato mustard, and BBQ sauce. Yum!

A dog and a cat!

To celebrate my dad’s birthday we were invited to a family friend’s home for dinner. How sweet of them to have us over!

My dad and his favorite... salmon!

Knowing I love my vegetables--they made a delicious salad, and baked some biscuits on the side.

The orange blob is the most delicious sweet potato mash. It’s the one I made before from “The Conscious Cook”. It has sweet potato, cashew cream, chipotle pepper, butter (Earth Balance if you’re vegan), and s&p. I think this is my favorite mash.

Dinner time!

She was trying to open the jar of Red Pepper Jelly she got from Alabama.

Never had it before but it always sounded interesting--it was like a sweet and spicy sauce.

The chef and his dessert!

His pie turned out wonderfully! It was so fresh tasting and had such a great lime flavor.

Posin'

"Smell it!"

He fell for it hahaha! Sucker!

Afterwards I met up with some friends at a bar.

And I took my first shot of tequila with "training wheels".

Only with my lady!

Last night I had two people offer to cook for me! What a treat!

This does not happen often so I happily agreed. Well, I made a compromise. I decided to have dinner with the girls and then later I would go to my other friend’s place for dessert.

The bottom half--and the lone slipper in the back.

When I arrived at my friend’s house I got a text from yet another friend asking if I wanted to go to this awesome Cuban restaurant a couple blocks down. Was there a blue moon or something? Three dinner invitations in one night? Sadly, I had to turn down the last one.

Waiting like little kids for "mommy" to cook us dinner.

She made us a seasoned pasta dish with mushrooms, feta, parmesan, and caesar dressing.

I brought some seasoned seitan and sprinkled some dill weed on top + Sugar Cookie tea!

I have a love-hate relationship with Jack the cat.

Then she offered to make us dessert!

Banana bruleed in a brown sugar sauce + vanilla ice cream + chocolate chips (but the rum was missing) = BEST MOM EVER RECIPE!!!

She knows how to take care of her babies.

Then I went to my other friend's house for dessert and wine.

Spiced pear compote with maple syrup. When I say spiced I don't just mean cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. There was also cayenne!

There was some leftoever and I had it with part of my breakfast. Guess what? My friend made me breakfast too! I had a bowl of cooked homemade grain mix with sunflower seed butter and the spiced pear compote + more maple syrup. I also had an orange and tried my first meyer lemon. It was actually really delicious and nice to have someone make me something for a change. Don’t get me wrong–I love to cook, but sometimes I like to be treated to. Who doesn’t?

Well this was my first week back in Richmond and I must say it’s been full of fun and has left me anticipating this upcoming semester. AHHHHHHH!!! I hope you all had a wonderful week. I’m going to have to catch up on all you lovely people’s lives now.

Getting My Groove Back

Pilar came over and we did some crafts and watched The Little Rascals.

Watching that movie made me realize how much we grow up as people and how perspectives change. When I was taking the Taoism class, the “ideal” state of mind was the one of a child – simple.

I think as a child I would've eaten this still!

I probably wouldn’t have sat there admiring all the colors, textures, but I definitely would’ve appreciated the taste. Reminded me a bit of a childhood favorite, peaches-n-cream.

For dinner we wanted to go out on my last night. I found this amazing sounding restaurant called Emunah. Let me tell you a little bit about it. It’s a kabbalistic cafe and teabar, “the intention of café emunah is to offer an experience for the senses, & an oasis for the mind, body and soul… a physical journey into your spiritual self.” With things on the menu like Artichoke Expansion, rolls with candied ginger and crisped plantains, Vegetarian Encounter, and Chai Tea Creme Brulee… I got excited to go! We headed out but when we got there we found out that they do respect the Sabbath day so they didn’t open their doors till an hour after sunset. Well not to worry because on the way there we spotted a cozy Italian bakery, so we checked it out.

The Italian bakery

The place was very authentic and they even had live television from Italy. I saw so many almond delights – hello marzipan! They also had colorful pressed paninis with cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes–the works! I even spotted lots of fresh panettones. Not to mention, we were the only ones there who weren’t Italian.

Can't forget the desserts!

A cup of coffee to go along with...

We got some cookies that sparked our curiosity.

My favorite was the one on the top left! That one was so soft with marzipan and dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Delicious.

A real cheesecake!

This was so good and so easy to savour. Rich in texture and subtly sweet.

I had to take a picture of this beautiful torte.

I love the use of crabapples as garnish!

Last night in Florida... until next time!

We came home and since my mom would be alone this coming week I wanted to make things a little easier for her.

So I made an Asian stir-fry

I think Mom was proud of me and I was not use to being photographed while cooking haha! I better get use to it, right?

I also made a ratatouille for her.

I also left some things diced and sliced so she won’t have to worry about food prep. Food prep is such a relaxing and quieting experience for me, but for some it can be a hassle. I think I may start buying pomegranates because I love deseeding them. Well that’s not the only reason hehe!

A Reese's ice cream bar... it barely had any peanut butter!!!

From the ice cream bar selection at gas stations the Strawberry Shortcakes ones are my favorite. What are yours?

Holy moly snack!

I am so glad this idea crossed my mind! I used Sunland’s caramel peanut butter as a dip for the apricot pumpkin Pranabar.

Now that I’m back in Richmond here’s what I’ve been up to…

Trader Joe's with my roommate!

She found some inspiration for a color palette for some jewelry all thanks to these beautiful pearl onions!

Yesterday was a crazy errand running day. I should just call it Crazy Errand Running Day! I was literally running errands from after lunch till around 9 pm. But it was fun though! I love busy days that have you feeling accomplished. After I was done with my errands it was time to meet up with some of my favorite ladies!

Camera shy Pantene Pro-V model?

Taking pictures of each other taking pictures!

My stomach is sore from laughing thanks to them haha.

It was half off sushi night!

Apparently everyone in town and their mother knows about this because we sucked it up for two hours to finally get a table. Atleast we had each other, a bar, and a super cute bartender to keep us company!

Then my opera singing lady showed up. She's going to be the feature of an upcoming recital! Oh and there's our cute bartender!

What's this? A miracle! We finally had a table!

We were finally seated around 12:30 so we had sushi as a midnight snack!

Since it was half off we ordered a bunch of things and shared. I ordered the Garden Balls – shiitake mushrooms, red peppers, green peppers, jalapeños, cilantro and spicy rice in an inari pocket then tempura fried. So good!!!

So now I’m just sorting things out, getting use to the weather (which hasn’t been too bad), and hanging out with friends before my semester starts back up again! I hope you all had a great start to your week yesterday. My dad’s birthday is coming up in two days and I haven’t got a clue as to what I should do! Hmm…

p.s. check out one of the most exciting giveaways I’ve encountered so far!!! Iowa Girl Eats + Amy’s = Amy’s Kitchen Giveaway!

All Things Pretty

Hello everyone! I’m so glad you all enjoyed my last post. As I said before, I couldn’t wait to share it with you all. It was really nice to read all of your comments and thoughts on friendship and the special people in our lives.

What do you need for a detox bath?

1 cup epsom salt

1/8 cup freshly grated or powdered ginger

Essential oils (I opted for Lemon Vitamin E)

Exfoliating brush

Tea and water

Of course fill the tub with hot water and mix in the epsom salt, ginger, and oil. Since I chose a lemon scented oil, my bath smelled like lemon ginger tea. I guess I was brewing the biggest cup ever!

It also helps to have a good book...

At the beginning of my bath I just relaxed and listened to Boards of Canada. It was so nice to be in the moment and relax. Next thing you know I started sweating up a storm and I grew a sweat mustache! Randomly, throughout the day I found myself sweating but it wasn’t overwhelming.

Teas

Something else that leaves me relaxed and rejuvenated is a nice cup of tea. You may notice all of these are written in German, but I will translate: Vanilla Rooibos, Cinnamon Apple, Winter Rooibos Mix, and Advent Fruit Tea. Remember not to oversteep the tea leaves or your cup may become bitter!

Feel good foods!

May my cheeks be rosier and may my skin glow brighter.

The salad has romaine, beets, butternut squash, sunflower seeds, fresh feta cheese, and a homemade blueberry vinaigrette.

And a delicious and fresh sandwich: homemade cilantro hummus, roasted red pepper, and fresh Panela cheese.

I love raw collard greens.

I couldn't help but admire the contrast in colors of my snack plate

Our fridge was restocked with sweet pickled ginger!

And friends go in the mix as well!

He has such a great energy that never fails to brighten my day.

We met up at the bookstore and then he was in the mood for donuts. We got to Dunkin Donuts and I was telling him the story about how I lost my phone. As soon as I mentioned that I was lugging around a huge loaf of bread he said, “I want bread! Let’s go to Panera!” So we left the donut shop without ordering anything and headed over the the land of bread.

I didn't know you could order a bread bowl for the half & half deal!

Then I went with my mom to meet up with another friend for coffee.

Since it's been chilly, getting something hot to drink was perfect!

Then it was scary movie time with my best friend!

Pilar rocked the socks like no other.Pilar was sporting the comfort look.

Banana Zensoy pudding + One Lucky Duck's chocolate crispies a la Liz.

A breakfast inspired by Liz!

I heated up the chocolate crispies + banana + soymilk and once it was all nice and warm I added some coconut oil. This was so yummy and it didn’t get too mushy actually. Coconut oil is something I swear by! It’s wonderful for your hair and skin. You can even use it as a makeup remover! You can leave it on your hair or you can choose to see it works wonders inside-out, incorporating it in your food. I love smearing it on cinnamon raisin bread, swirling it in my hot oatmeal. The only thing is that it must be above a certain temperature or else it will solidify. You can still eat solid but I prefer it melted.

I found some sampler jars from way back when I was a honey connoisseur.

Lavender!

I got these honeys from a farm, but I found the farm through this wonderful website called Local Harvest. “The best organic food is what’s grown closest to you. Use our website to find farmers’ markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area, where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.” You can find so many things on that site! Even cheeses, crafts, teas, syrups, and goodies for our furry friends.

The loveliest breakfast I've ever eaten.

I wanted to make a dainty and soothing breakfast. I knew I wanted to use lavender, but how was the question? I stumbled upon a lavender banana bread recipe and I knew that was the one! Vanilla yogurt, honey granola, baby banana slices, chopped walnuts, lavender, lavender honey, and grated dark chocolate. This breakfast woke me up in the most delightful way. I could taste the lavender clearly but it was by no means rude awakening for my taste buds! I think lavender is something else I can add to my list of precious things to eat.

I hope you’re all enjoying your weekend so far! I’m sadly leaving Florida tomorrow at the crack of dawn, but I’m looking forward to catching up with my friends up there. I’m going to remember to layer layer layer! Growing up in Florida, that concept was not needed so it was just over my head. Now I’m hoping it will stay on my body and help me face the cold with less bitterness. If that doesn’t work then a cup of hot cocoa and oatmeal out the wazoo should do the trick!

We Are Gathered Here Today…

… this recipe is one reason

Pumpkin Pie Hummus Recipe

As per request I am going to post my recipe for pumpkin pie hummus. I am really bad at measuring things out when I cook or whip things up in a blender or processor. Basically, I don’t measure out at all. So I will give you guys measurements based on a typical hummus recipe. I should measure things out though so I can share them with you all without worrying that I’m giving you a bad recipe.

14 oz. cooked chickpeas (1 can)

About 3/4 the amount of the chickpeas of pureed pumpkin (10.5 oz)

2 tsp molasses

2 tbl lemon juice

1 tsp salt

Pumpkin pie spice + cinnamon to taste

Sweetener to taste (you can use maple syrup, sugar, brown sugar, stevia… what have you)

Almond oil*

1. Put all the ingredients in the food processor except for the almond oil. I like to blend the chickpeas first though so that it comes out with a much smoother consistency.

2. Once everything is blended in smoothly, you add in the almond oil little by little till you’ve reached the consistency you like. If you decide not to add the almond oil it will come out much drier and not as full of flavor. So I do recommend not ousting the oil.

*If you don’t have almond oil, you can use safflower oil or some other oil that won’t take away from the dessert flavor of this recipe. I don’t recommend using olive oil as a replacement because it will be unpleasantly noticeable.

Lastly, feel free to alter measurements. If something doesn’t seem right.. like too much or too little – go with your instincts. This is what I do when I cook which is why I don’t measure things out. If anyone does try this, please let me know how it goes and let me know if there were any changes you made. Enjoy!

Finally! I’ve been so eager to share this with you guys. On Januar 3, 2010 me and my best friend got married! It wasn’t legal but we had a small, quiet ceremony in the comfort of my living room floor. It almost felt like an indoor picnic with pillows and blankets sprawled out on the floor.

The guests started arriving.

The two sisters!

Matilda found a new friend.

They quickly became partners in crime.

Oh lala

Look what Pilar made for me!

Thank you!

She also had a beautiful hairpiece.

Inside was a little gift for her.

The princess and her mother.

The only picture of us reading our vows - but we got a video of it all!

Setting up for the reception. And I had another friend present via iChat.

Hand-painted crystal from Czechoslovakia when it existed. Champagne and water with lemon slices!

Pouring the glass of champagne.

Ahahaha

A toast to us.

My parents got us a delicious raspberry and almond cake...

And a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

Aww

Trying out the cake.

APPROVED!!! Okay let me just put my eyes back in my head.

He wanted a piece too!

The lovely guests.

The well-behaved princess just hanging out.

You could taste the marzipan m'mmm

Our wedding was inspired by Frida Kahlo's La Due Frida

Our version.

You shouldn't have!

Tango!

The only serious group shot.

Let's give 'em something to talk about doo doo doo doo.

There is just so much going on here!

Channeling the Godfather?

Matilda just relaxing like a ragdoll as usual.

I'm so lucky to have a best friend like her!

My best friend has been there for me and stuck with me through the ups and downs. There was a time in my life when my close group of friends turned their backs on me and spread rumors around. It seemed like all of a sudden I was left standing alone. But there was a girl in my art class that I always thought was cool but we never hung out outside of school. Then one day I asked her if she wanted to hang out at a coffeeshop with me. This girl was Pilar. Pilar ignored the rumors and helped me through a time when I felt rejected and outcasted. She helped me ward off the meanies that said hurtful things and reminded me that I can rise above the stress. I never had so much fun with someone in my life and we had lots of adventures. Sometimes she’d sleepover for a few days and it was so much fun because I never had a sister and this was what I imagined it to be like. Yes, sleepovers on a school night! I remember the last day of 10th grade we walked home in the heat and proceeded to have a fashion photoshoot in an abandoned plant nursery. We did a lot of dressing up, made mix cd’s, and being each other’s shoulders to cry on if we needed it. Now that we’re older and don’t see each other that often we still remain best friends. Although for a time we both got caught up in our separate lives. This ceremony helped us recognize our friendship even more. I don’t believe soulmates are limited to people we fall in love with. They can be anybody in your life that you just have this unexplainable connection with. I feel completely at ease just being my goofy self around her. I wish I saw her more often because she really is a special person. Even if we weren’t friends I would admire her for who she is and what she’s done. This lady should write a book and if you know her, then consider yourself blessed. And I am lucky enough to call her my best friend!