Archive for May, 2010

My mom came to visit me this weekend, and yesterday we got up bright and early and headed down to the Des Moines Farmers’ Market.  We got there at about 8:30 and it was already packed!  The public parking garage was nearly full and the streets were crowded with people, dogs, and ginormous Volkswagen-sized strollers.

We made our way through the crowds and looked at all the delightful things.  The Des Moines Farmers’ Market is awesome – they have vendors selling everything from street food (including a stand selling Breakfast burritos that had a line half a block long), local wineries, goat’s cheese, Elk jerkey, roasted soynuts, salsa, orchids, dog collars, dog treats, pasta, local popcorn in about 100 flavors, and of course fruits and veggies.  It’s still pretty early in Iowa but there was a ton of asparagus, even strawberries (which are early), greenhouse tomatoes, radishes, greens, and some non-local stuff.

I ended up with three bunches of asparagus, some orzo pasta, strawberries (that are half-gone already), and two jars of salsa.  My mom and I each had a veggie spring roll while we shopped:

And a few samples here and there:

There were a ton of dogs there and I chatted with a girl from The Pet Project Midwest, about volunteer opportunities. I am passionate about animal rescue and have been looking for a way I can help out, but most organizations really need foster homes for rescue dogs and I can’t take in a foster right now – aside from my shoebox-sized home, my dog Sasha

(who we rescued from the local animal shelter) doesn’t play well with other dogs.

After we were done at the Market, we ran our bags up to the car and walked over to Market Day.  It was really neat and though I didn’t buy anything, I picked up a few business cards and talked to a girl about doing some custom stuff for me, for a gift (for someone who reads this blog so it’s a secret).

Then we got some sushi for lunch:

And hit up two different malls for some Mother-of-the Bride dress shopping (my sister is getting married in October). We didn’t end up buying a dress, but we got a better idea of what she should look for.

We came home and got pizza and salad at Vesuvius Woodfired Pizza.  This is quickly becoming my new favorite pizza place.  The pizza is of course good, I love the chewy salty crust, the staff is super friendly, the service is fast and efficient, and they get about 15,000 bonus points for carrying vegan cheese (Teese, though I wish they’d switch to Daiya!)  Then we watched a fluffy movie (The Ugly Truth) and called it a night.  It was great to spend the day with my mom filled with good food and shopping – two of my favorite things!

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Green Smoothie w/Banana, cocoa powder, almond milk, a bunch of spinach, and a few frozen cherries


A few mini pitas with hummus, 1/2 a cucumber, 1/2 a red bell pepper


Laura’s Wholesome Junk Food cookies – Anna Banana Split


Granny Smith apple and an unpictured Larabar (Ginger Snap)


Toast (Food For Life Ezekiel) with Lightlife Veggie Dog and veggie baked beans, a little Bubbies sauerkraut, and some steamed cauliflower with ketchup for dipping

I came across this blog post about Deep Fried Guacamole, over at Vegan Happy Hour, and I just think it’s the most ingenius thing I’ve ever seen.  It’s too bad (or not) that I gave away my deep fat fryer about 5 years ago!  Just think of all the things you could deep fry like this.

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Okay, so as a follow up to a November 2008 news piece about my weight loss, the news station did an update on my plastic surgery and weight loss (they interviewed me back in January but the story aired this May). The piece was about the “ugly side of weight loss” and I think the reporter (Phillip Ohnemus) did a pretty darn good job of showing how all my loose skin impacted me physically, psychologically, and emotionally:

Here are two videos of the raw footage from my interview (they call this a “web extra”). I personally think the interview is a lot more informative (as it should be) than the news piece, which had to condense everything down to 2+ minutes. So, if you’re curious about plastic surgery and what not, take a peek:

I felt really self conscious about my news piece when it aired…because, well, that was just gross…all my leftover skin was just gross…but, I know I don’t look like that anymore…and that’s a bonus! Plus, well, the giant granny panties that I wore the night before my surgery and they put in the news piece didn’t help either…haha.

So, I can’t believe I’m going to do this…but I had a HUGE moment about a week ago…I wore a bikini. For the first time. Ever. EVER people! EVER! I was really self conscious, but I got a lot of good compliments, so overall, I’m pleased. I was still wearing the same bathing suit I wore 4 years ago and several of my friends noted that I needed to find a better bathing suit…and I need to make myself feel decently better and to remember how far I’ve come in this weight loss journey…so, well, I bought a bikini. I can’t believe it. I also wore a cover up the entire time, but baby steps…haha.

Since I clearly have no shame…Here you go:

See me there with my floppy awesome hat? Yeah. haha.


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My favorite thing about Fridays?  A plain bagel with peanut butter!

There is a story behind Bagel F’in* Friday (*hey, my parents read this blog). 

Before I lost weight, I used to get a bagel from our cafe here at work almost every day (the bagels come from Breuggers).  My favorite combinations were: asiago cheese bagel with plain cream cheese, sesame seed bagel with veggie cream cheese, or plain bagel with peanut butter and jelly (or banana slices).  When I started trying to lose weight, I cut out the bagels for the most part, only having one once or twice a week.  Then I got to a point where I started to think I could never eat a bagel again if I really wanted to be healthy.  Those bagels + cream cheese were around 500 calories and rarely kept me going until lunch time.  They were also costing me about $10/week!  So I had a long bagel-less stretch there for a while.  It was a dark time.  When I became vegan, in my research I discovered that Breuggers actually has several bagels that are vegan (Baked Apple, Cinnamon Raisin, Cinnamon Sugar, Cranberry Orange, Everything, Garlic, Jalapeno, Onion, Plain, Poppy, Pumpernickel, Pumpkin, Rosemary Olive Oil, Salt, and Sesame!)  Most commercial bagels have non-vegan preservatives, Panera’s bagels have L-cysteine, etc.  And honestly, I missed my bagels!  I decided I would have a bagel 1 day per week – it seemed like a good compromise (for my waistline and my wallet) and Friday just happened to be the day I usually got one, therefore Friday became Bagel F’in Friday.  I bring my own peanut butter and sometimes jam or a banana, other times I save my fruit for a snack before lunch.  During breaks our cafe is closed, and I don’t always have a bagel every week or necessarily on Friday, but it’s still a fun way to think of an occasional treat.  You don’t have to give up foods you enjoy to be healthy!

On to yoga.  The last term of yoga classes just finished up and a new one started this week.  I took one class per week last term, on Wednesdays, and this time I signed up for two.  I’m going now on Mondays and Wednesdays, and I also hope to hit up Free Yoga at Gray’s Lake as many times as I can this summer.  My favorite pose is still Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana):

but I’m also getting a lot better at balances, like Tree Pose (Vrksasana):

and twists like Marichi’s Pose:

In other health-related news, I woke up this morning feeling a little stuffy.  I don’t know if it is a cold or allergies.  I often credit veganism with keeping me illness-free for over a year.  Except for one or two bouts with seasonal allergies,  I haven’t been sick since the end of December 2008, which was also the last time I took a sick day from work!  I’m off to visit my family this weekend so let’s just hope it was a fluke.

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I love cold salads in the summertime.  When I worked at The Bakery, we used to make a different type of pasta salad every day and I loved coming up with different combinations of ingredients and flavors.  I saw a recipe for Black Bean Salsa in an old issue of Women’s Health and thought it would be good in a cold pasta dish, and that is how this salad came about.  The Black Bean Salsa recipe had corn, but I skipped it since I added plenty of delicious carbs in the form of whole wheat pasta.  This salad would be really good with quinoa or even couscous instead of pasta, too.  Pasta gets such a bad rap, but it can really be part of a healthy diet if you watch your serving size.  Adding plenty of chopped veggies is a good way to make a smaller serving of pasta more satisfying.

Black Bean Pasta Salad (vegan)

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained
1 small cucumber, diced
1 red pepper, diced
about 4 green onions, diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro (or parsley), chopped
1/4 cup black olives, chopped
12 oz. pasta (I used whole wheat)
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoons olive or canola oil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon mild chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the pasta according to package directions.  While it is cooking, chop all your other ingredients and throw them into a big bowl, including the dressing ingredients.  When the pasta is done cooking, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.  Add the pasta to your bowl with all the other ingredients.  Mix it up really well and chill to let all the flavors combine.  Top with avocado, if desired.

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So I’ve signed up for a program here locally called Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping (FXB).  It’s a 10-week, 6 days a week, 5:15 a.m. (!!!!) program combining kickboxing and strength workouts on alternating days.  There is also a nutrition component, and I’ve been assured that I will be able to adapt it to a vegan diet, but it sounds like they’ve only had vegetarians follow the program before and no vegans.  I’m pretty confident that I will be able to manage – from what little information I could find online it sounds pretty close to a Body For Life style of eating.  I’ve heard mostly good things about it, but one of the reasons I really wanted to try it was that I couldn’t find many personal experiences online.  I found just a few blog posts and a few more messageboard posts, but nothing very comprehensive.  So I decided it would be a good opportunity to try something new, get back into kickass shape, and chronicle my experience on the blog.  The program doesn’t start until June 5th, but starting then I plan to do regular updates about my experience.  I also plan to keep up with my yoga practice and keep running/walking with my dog, though I still can’t run much because of my foot.  I created a new category for posts on this topic, I’m excited to get started!  I wish it started tomorrow instead of June 5th.

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This was supposed to be a grilled veggie pizza. I bought a bunch of veggies with the intention of firing up the grill and giving them all a good char, but Iowa weather has been cruel the past week and not really conducive to being outdoors, unfortunately. Where is spring!? I fired up the oven instead and roasted all the veggies – three big sheets worth. I’ve used some of them in various things this week – wraps, a couscous dish with Field Roast Chipotle “sausage“, dipped in hummus, and on this pizza with daiya:

And oh boy, it was good.  I even let my husband eat one piece (I’m so generous).  If you’re vegan, lactose intolerant, or just looking for a non-dairy cheese for some other reason, you need to try daiya.

For this pizza – this is totally not a recipe – I just topped a pre-made whole wheat crust with some tomato sauce and the roasted veggies, I added some black olives and the daiya, a little bit of crushed basil, salt and pepper (try it!) and baked it according to the package (crust) directions.

For the roasted veggies, I mixed up some olive oil with a little balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, black pepper, garlic powder, a splash of tamari and hot sauce, and used a pastry brush to lightly brush the mixture on both sides of the veggies before roasting in a hot oven (450) for about 15-25 minutes (the asparagus was done sooner than the carrots, for example, so I removed that first and put the rest back in).  The amount of the oil mixture you will need depends totally on how many veggies you have, but keep it on the light side, you want the veggies to get a nice caramelization of their own and too much oil will just make them limp.

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My lunch today consisted of this sandwich (open-faced) with some baked beans and a few Popchips.

There are a few types of vegetarian bacon on the market, this one is new to me and honestly it was only so-so.

It only vaguely smelled and tasted like bacon.  I personally like the taste of this one (also by Lightlife) better, but it is very salty.  Also the tempeh bacon is organic and has a little bit better nutritional profile when you compare the serving sizes.

To make the sandwich I just toasted a piece of bread and spread it with a tiny bit of Vegenaise and mustard.  Then I layered a few pieces of sad lettuce (need to go to the store!), sliced tomato, sliced avocado, and the cooked tempeh bacon.  To make it a little easier to eat, I think I would mash up the avocado next time and spread it on the bread under everything else.

For some reason I’ve always liked eating baked beans with potato chips.  Popchips are definitely a great healthier alternative to potato chips and I have to admit I’m kind of obsessed with them.  If you haven’t tried them, you should!  My sister said she’s had a hard time locating them – I usually get mine at Target.

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A day of eats

Today was kind of atypical as far as eating goes for me, since I was out and about and ate lunch and dinner away from home.  I’ll do this again on a weekday!

Breakfast –

Banana Chocolate Smoothie with Cherries and Spinach (shared this with Luke)

Lunch –

I went shopping today and found myself starving at about 1 p.m. with a lot more shopping to do, so I opted for some Black Bean soup from Panera.  Did their soup bowls get bigger?  This was a huge amount of soup.  I ate about half the soup and most of the bread.

Dinner –

Veggie pizza with vegan cheese (Teese) from Vesuvius Woodfired Pizza.

Dessert –

A square of this dark chocolate hit the spot.

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Honestly, this smoothie is more like a milkshake.  Except it’s pretty healthy!  The only sugar is from the banana and the tiny bit of agave syrup I add.  You could also use a juicy date or honey in place of the agave, or even stevia.  I am kind of obsessed with this smoothie lately.  In fact I am working on a long post about snacking, but I got sidetracked tonight when I found a lost doggie wandering in my yard (I live on a busy highway!)  I had to track down her owners and stay with her until they arrived.  So I decided to post about this smoothie instead.  I can’t take credit for the idea – I got it from Girl on Raw.  This smoothie would be great for breakfast or a snack, but I usually have it for dessert!  You could also add some spinach and turn it into a Green Monster.

Banana Chocolate Smoothie (vegan)

1 frozen banana
about 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (I used Almond Breeze)
1 teaspoon agave syrup, or to taste
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder, or to taste

Toss all ingredients in a blender and blenderize until smooth.

Nutrition Info (with a medium-sized banana): 142 calories, 2.5g fat, 2.5g protein, 36g carbohydrates, 4.5g fiber.

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