Archive for the ‘reviews’ Category

One of my favorite hash tags on twitter is #whatveganeats.  I know a lot of people (myself included) wonder what the heck a vegan eats. Well, since I’ve been following a vegan diet as best as I can since August 1st (with some trial and error, as I am indeed a vegan n00b), I figured I’d post some of the recipes and food I’ve been eating…

•First, I’ve been making as many recipes from Brendan Brazier’s Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life. Let me also say that I have a MAJOR crush on Mr. Brazier. Like, it’s really sad how much of a schoolgirl crush I have on the dude. But, he’s amazing. I totally subscribe to his philosophy on food and nutrition and sport. If I was in the movie Eat Pray Love right now, he’d probably sadly be my guru on this “vegan diet” adventure. Sigh.

But, since I don’t really have permission to post the recipes (I really don’t know how that works in the blog world), I will just say that I’ve made his AWESOME Garlic Oregano Sweet Potato Fries last night and they were so good. So good. I’ve also made his Spicy Sundried Tomato Marina and Zucchini Pasta and Walnut Hemp Seed Burgers from Thrive (see below).

Ooh! I have been consistently drink Brendan’s Thrive Long Lasting Lemon-Lime Drink before every workout (the recipe was reprinted with permission by No Meat Athlete (adore his blog and my friend Mandy just got me one of his awesome shirts). Let me tell you something folks. I’m not going to lie. The drink is NOT pleasing to the palette; however, it works. Big time. I have set 3 personal records (PRs) in CrossFit since I’ve been following a vegan diet and drinking this energy drink (“Nancy,” “Helen,” and my power cleans, for my fellow CrossFit fans).

Post workout I generally mix a scoop of brown rice protein with some of Brendan’s Whole Food Health Optimizer and some glutamine. That seems to do the trick! Love the Whole Food Health Optimizer…just don’t have the funds right now to buy the giant tub! But, it’s on my wish list!

•I tried these black bean burgers from The Front Burner. Verdict? In love. I made enough extra to crumble on top of my super salads for the week. Yum.

•From Oh She Glows (one of my favorite vegan blogs), I’ve fallen in love with her Raw Energy Cookie Bites (seriously folks, these are AMAZING…I have one every day and I even brought them to my CrossFit gym and they were received with open arms; I will warn you that my boss said they looked like cat litter turds…but they taste amazing).

I also, like any good health blogger, have started making Vegan Overnight Oats. Oh my. Oh my. Not only does this oatmeal taste DELICIOUS, but it will keep me satiated for SEVERAL hours after I eat it (and let us not forget the deliciousness that is frozen peanut butter banana soft serve in this recipe). Goodness.

Last weekend I made Angela’s Birthday Cupcake ‘burgers’ with Secret Green Frosting with my friend Mandy and they turned out REALLY well. I will admit, the green frosting was slightly disturbing, but my boss’s young daughter (the same boss who said her bars look like cat litter turds) absolutely LOVED them…and mostly because she thought the icing looked like slimy boogers! haha. Now, I know that’s not a RINGING endorsement of the cupcakes, but they taste AMAZING. They were a little too sweet for me, and I actually only ended up eating one (sending the rest home with Mandy, taking some to my office, and then taking some to my CrossFit gym). Since it was the first “sugar” sweet I had in two weeks, my body kind of went into sweetness overload. One was plenty!

This vegan thing has really done wonders for my sweets cravings, as in, I haven’t had them. haha.

•I did make some Dark Chocolate Vegan Peanut Butter Cups from Love Veggies and Yoga. I love these. A lot. But, it took me a good week to eat one of them, which is a good thing for this sweets lover, believe me. I plan on making a lot more of her recipes, as they look delicious!

•I also made these Black Bean, Mushroom, & Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers from Vegan with a Vengeance and again, they were very tasty. I’m sad I only made two. Dang me and my singleness! haha.

•I also made a really good marinated tofu found in Ellie Krieger’s Small Changes, Big Results. I sauteed sauteed some veggies and ate it up over some quinoa. Delicious.

I think that’s it for now…I will do a post about my daily menu and eats coming up, but for now, just thought I’d share some recipes I’ve tried! Woot!


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I’d like to now take this time to discuss my two favorite appliances in my kitchen.

First, I’m a relatively new health blogger (though I’ve been personally blogging on livejournal for 10 years now), and from what I’ve ascertained in the food blogging community the MUST HAVE appliance for any of us die hard health nut bloggers is the Vitamix. But, I don’t have an extra $450 just sitting around (and if I did, it’d go toward my “road bike” fund…or massages, lots of massages).

But, but, but…wanna know what I do have folks? And that’s a MAGIC BULLET. No, not the Silver Bullet, pervs. MAGIC BULLET. And, it is indeed magical. A client of my boss got me one about a year and a half ago and I’ve been in love with it since. I started making my yummy green smoothies in them about a year ago and the Magic Bullet works wonders for them. I keep one at the office and I have one at home as well. It blends and grinds just as good as any other blender (save The Vitamix). The Magic Bullet runs about $50, which is a steal if you ask me. I’ve not had ANY trouble with either of my Magic Bullets.
So, yeah. Get one.

Now for my MOST FAVORITE and HIGHLY recommended appliance for your kitchen…


This appliance is more than worth its price (which I got mine for $100 as a Christmas present to myself). Look, let’s face it. Salads and greens spoil super fast and bagged lettuces aren’t cheap. I simply empty my salad greens into my Foodsaver containers and vacuum those puppies shut! And voila! My greens last at least a week, if not more! I pretty much vacuum seal EVERYTHING I have in my kitchen, no joke. Veggies stay fresher, longer. Lately I’ve been taking to even vacuum sealing my vegan raw energy cookie bars from Oh She Glows, just because I don’t want to freeze them and want them readily available whenever I want them!

Not a lot of people seem to talk about the Foodsaver Vacuum, but I’m definitely a fan.

So, there you have it. My two favorite and most used appliances in my newly semi “veganized” kitchen! Haha

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These are some things I’ve recently tried and my reviews.

1.)  Enjoy Life Foods Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was in the mood for cookies but I was shopping at HyVee (big grocery store).  They of course had Oreos and some Newman’s cookies, but they also had a bunch of products from Enjoy Life and I decided to try these cookies.  There were a few other types of vegan cookies in the gluten-free/allergen-free section, but I got these specifically because they were supposed to be chewy – my favorite kind of cookies!  There were 12 small cookies in the box, and they were $3.69.  Not a great deal, but I’m willing to pay more for higher quality foods so it didn’t bother me.  The cookies had a good flavor and they were soft, but they had a weird grainy texture.  I can’t figure out what that would have been from, maybe the sorghum flour?  Honestly I don’t think I would buy them again unless I was desperate, but I would try other things from this company.

2.)  SunWarrior Protein, Vanilla

I have heard nothing but great things about this raw vegan protein, and I was excited to try it.  It has a hefty price tag (I got mine on Amazon, the absolute cheapest price I could find, especially with free shipping, and it was $46.95), but I really wanted a vegan protein that was not soy or hemp-based (like Nutiva and Vega).  Also SunWarrior has more protein and fewer calories and carbs per serving than Vega, which I like because I add it to smoothies and don’t just drink it as a shake mixed with water.  My thoughts?  I’ve been using it for about a week and I have to admit that at first I was not impressed.  I don’t care what anyone says, it is chalky.  It’s also very sweet – you definitely don’t need any additional sweetener (sweetened milk substitute) or vanilla with it.  I’ve gotten more used to it now and instead of adding a whole scoop to my ~2 cup smoothie, I add about 3/4 scoop.  It helps a little with the chalkiness, and also adding more water helps a little too.  Overall, I will definitely keep using it and hope to try it in some other things besides smoothies (like oatmeal).

3.)   Upton’s Naturals Chorizo-style Seitan

I’ve reviewed Upton’s Naturals Ground Beef-style Seitan before, but this is a new flavor for me.  I used it to make soft tacos with spinach and it was really good.  I would definitely buy this again and again.  My husband liked it too!  He definitely thinks seitan is the best meat-alternative and I think I have to agree with him, both nutritionally and texturally.  It just tastes like whatever you flavor it with, and this Chorizo flavor was a little spicy and very flavorful.

So those are some things I’ve tried recently.  I haven’t been cooking a lot – in the summer I eat a lot of salads and sandwiches, fruit, smoothies, and that stuff is kind of boring for the blog.  Last night I made some spaghetti squash with seitan, zucchini, and mushrooms, so be on the lookout for the recipe in the next day or so!

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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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I had some firm tofu to use up, so I made this delicious Broccoli and Black Olive Frittata last week.

The recipe is from Vegan With a Vengeance and I followed it almost exactly so I don’t feel comfortable re-posting it here on the blog.  Fortunately, if you don’t own this book, the recipe is available via GoogleBooks, here.  The recipe is on pages 14-15.  I left out the thyme because I don’t care for it and used some oregano instead.  The topping is Daiya shredded vegan cheese – this is a fairly new product and I just recently tried it.  It’s probably the closest to real cheese I’ve tried yet and it even melts!  I’ve tried the cheddar and mozzarella flavors and I enjoyed them both.

Another new (to me) thing I recently tried is Kombucha.  Kombucha is a fermented drink that contains active cultures, probiotics, and healthy “balancing” enzymes.  It is naturally fizzy from the fermentation and a lot of people think it tastes like vinegar.  As someone who loves vinegar, I didn’t expect this to bother me.  This is the kombucha I tried for my first taste:

Most people say they don’t like it at first and then the flavor grows on them. My experience was kind of the opposite: I thought it tasted pretty good at first, kind of like a fizzy yogurt soda. As I drank more, it started tasting more fermented (it can even have a small alcohol content from the fermentation process!) and I could only drink about 1/4 of the bottle at once. It took me about three days to drink the whole thing, but it didn’t lose any of its fizz and tasted the same. It’s not cheap – this bottle was $3.49 at my co-op – but I can see myself trying some of the different flavors once in a while.

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I recently chopped about 10 inches off my hair and I can no longer pull it into a ponytail.  I’m still getting used to it – I had been growing my hair out for about 4 years! but I was ready for a change and I thought summer was a great time to do it.  A lot of people don’t realize how high-maintenance long hair is, and mine was badly damaged from a hard winter and constant blow-drying and flat-ironing.  I’ve seen these BondiBands around on the blogosphere a lot lately, mostly with great reviews, so I decided to give them a try myself when I saw that they were running a 5/$25 special (coupon code: FIVE).

BondiBands come in tons of different colors and styles, you can get them with sayings, symbols, patterns/designs, or just plain colors.  I ordered 4 for myself and 1 for Andrea as part of her birthday present.  I’ve been wearing mine during workouts (running, yoga, and walking) for the past couple of weeks and I really like them.  They stay on my head just fine (headbands normally slip off the back of my head) and I like that they are wide at the top and taper to a narrow width towards the bottom.  They can also be folded over or tucked under at the top to make them narrower.  They are lined with a barely detectable non-slip material of some kind, they wick away sweat and you can just throw them in the washer with your workout clothes.  They also sell hats, kids headbands, and even kerchiefs for dogs.  Check them out!

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Kitchen Tour

I filmed this video a couple of weeks ago (you may notice a little pile of snow outside by the driveway!  Fortunately that stuff is all gone now).  I was inspired by Ryan over at Greens for Good after she posted a tour of her kitchen.  It got a little long so I split it into two parts.  Some important things to keep in mind while watching: 1) my husband is not vegan.  He eats about 50% what I eat (vegan, generally healthy) and 50% SAD (Standard American diet (aka gross).  2)  My kitchen is very small! and 3) I’m not a professional camerawoman. Actually I think this is the first video I’ve ever really filmed and I had to do it one-handed while I was pointing things out, so forgive me if it’s wobbly.

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