Archive for March, 2012

Vegan in Newburyport

Last week was unseasonably warm in New England. It was in the 80’s for most of the week, and then Mother Nature hits us with rainy weather in the 30’s for this week. She just doesn’t quit.

Since it was so beautiful and I have two days off during the week, I had to do something. Having never been to Newburyport, I decided to visit. A cute seaside town with adorable local shops and even an organic, gluten-free, vegan cafe!

After strolling about, stopping in whatever store caught my fancy (including one called Best of British. The entire country might as well been in there because everything British is the best!), I found Revitalive Cafe. It was small, with no seating in the downstairs. There was an upstairs, but I didn’t venture up to find seating, since there was seating outside and I wanted to enjoy the sun.

Having looked at the menu the night before, I decided to order the Un-Tuna Wrap, which came with a side of their homemade kale chips. I have been wanting to try some “tuna” since the beginning of this vegan journey and I figured having it at a restaurant was a safe bet. It’s described on the menu as seed-based and mixed with romaine lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, and onions. I found that the pickles overpowered the rest of the flavors in the tuna, but I like pickles, so I didn’t mind. The gluten-free  coconut flax wrap had an interesting texture and flavor. It was my first taste of gluten-free bread and I’m not sure that I liked it. It was slightly sweet (from the coconut flavoring, I assume) and it kind of just fell apart in my mouth immediately. It’s something I would have to get used to, but I’m willing to give it another try. I was very excited to try the kale chips, since I’ve seen tons of different recipes. I found these to be too salty and cheesy. If I ever make them, I’ll definitely use more garlic flavors over cheesy flavors.

Revitalive had a great menu with a ton of choices. They had a whole section of quinoa bowls, which I really wanted to try, but opted out since I’ve been eating a lot of quinoa lately. They also had a ton of very appetizing treats. There were even shelves with bags of their homemade kale chips and raw granola, raw crackers, and more. Overall, the food was not bad – it was just flavors that are still new to me. I would definitely love to go back to try something else, maybe a fresh-made smoothie, fresh-pressed juice, or quinoa bowl.


March 29, 2012 at 3:27 pm 3 comments

Asian Feast

Monday night was Asian feast! I love Chinese food, and rice, and sushi, and mmm…but none of it is very healthy and a lot of it isn’t vegan. So, it’s time to learn to make my own Asian-inspired delights! Monday’s attempt was a success.

On the menu was General Gau’s Cauliflower (officially titled Gobi Manchurian Cauliflower), Soba Noodles with Sweet Ginger Scallion Sauce, and Crispy Edamame.

The tastiest part of the meal was definitely the cauliflower. To be honest, it might not have been all that healthy since it was fried. It was dipped in a batter of whole wheat flour, corn starch, and other seasonings, then fried in extra virgin olive oil. That being said, they were definitely NOT fried as much as the General Gau’s chicken you get from the corner Chinese takeout. Plus, it was cauliflower!

The edamame was mixed with a little extra virgin olive oil, granulated garlic, pepper, and nutritional yeast (the recipe called for parmesan cheese, but I opted for the nutriyeast), then banked. SO yummy! I love eating edamame plain, but some extra flavors (especially my BFF garlic) only added to it’s natural deliciousness. If you haven’t tried edamame, you should. My mother tried it for the first time on Monday and described it as, “it’s like a nut, only it’s not.” That’s exactly it! You can buy them shelled (they look like pea pods) or you can buy them out of the shell. I always buy them frozen out of the shell because it’s easiest. Yum!

Now, the soba noodles. I’ve never cooked them before and, although I thought I followed the directions, I think I cooked them too long because the noodles were very sticky. I also wanted to cook more than the recipe called for, but I may not have made enough of the sauce. I expected them to be more saucy, which they weren’t, but they did soak up the flavors of the sauce, especially the spiciness! Next time, I just need to cook them less and sauce them more.

The only downside to this meal was that it took a LOT of various bowls and kitchen utensils. I made the biggest mess – you would think I cooked a Thanksgiving feast for the entire New England Patriots with the amount of dishes that filled the sink. Ridiculous. And it took me two hours. That’s just excessive! And in my haste to finish (since it was after 8:30 by the time it was all completed) I forgot to take any pictures! Just look at the pictures of the links above – mine would have looked almost as good.

March 14, 2012 at 2:36 am Leave a comment

Staples: Nutritional Yeast

Going vegan has been quite the journey. A lot of flip-flopping and a lot of reading. A lot of saying “Okay, let’s do this!” and then not doing it. I’m not vegan yet. I’m not even fully vegetarian. I’m experimenting. I’m looking up recipes and trying them. I’m finding out what I like and how to make it. It’s going to be a long process, but I’m okay with that.

Blogging has also been a learning process. I’ve found a lot of recipes off of some really fantastic blogs (to name a few: Clean Eating Chelsey, Chocolate Covered Katie, and Running off the Reeses – that last one isn’t really for recipes, but she’s hilarious). A lot of the blogs I’ve been reading have segments or themes, so they post on the same days and each post has a general topic or idea. Springing off of that, my newest segment is Staples. Staples posts will discuss vegan staples – ingredients, nutrients, etc that are essential to a vegan diet. As I said, I’m still learning and I’m certainly not a nutritionist, so this is just what I have learned are important to include in a vegan diet.

My first Staple post is all about nutritional yeast. First, I’d like to say it’s difficult to find, at least in my area. I don’t have a Whole Foods close and Trader Joe’s isn’t close either. There are a couple stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, but I’m not really satisfied with them. I’ve been finding a LOT of ingredients in my local supermarkets, specifically Market Basket and Hannaford; however, nutritional yeast does not exist at either store. Market Basket has employees who literally know where every single products exists. “Hi, I’m looking for ___” and they’ll find it for you. Whatever you can think of, guys. And if they don’t have it, they know they don’t have it. This was the case with nutritional yeast. I did find it at the Vitamin Shoppe! In fact, I took the last tub, and had this panicky feeling as I left that they’d never restock it.

So every blog you’ll ever read that discusses nutritional yeast will tell you that it has a nutty smell and a cheesy flavor. I’m going to tell you the same thing…because it really does. The color is not attractive. It’s yellow, but not a bright, happy, let’s-paint-the-baby-room-in-it yellow. I guess you could call it mustard. The first thing I did when I opened the container was smell it. Yep, nutty! The first recipe I used it in was the Quinoa Pizza Casserole, but it was mixed in, so I couldn’t taste it at all.

With the snow day last week and having absolutely nothing to eat, I decided to make macaroni (or pasta, for all of you that aren’t from New England) and butter. Pasta, Earth Balance, Garlic. YUM! And then I remembered every vegan blog I’ve ever read says that they sprinkle it on top of food for a parmesan flavor (and inspiration from Clean Eating Chelsey’s recent post on it). Hot diggity! Poured on a scoop, mixed it in and, yes, cheesy flavor! It was actually really tasty and I know it’ll be something I use often. Below is the exact brand I used – yum!

The reason it’s a staple is because it’s contains protein and is fortified with tons of vitamins, especially B12. It’s the one nutrient that vegans can’t get from other foods because it only comes from animal products, so it’s important to either take a supplement or eat foods that are fortified with B12. I really enjoyed the flavor and can’t wait to use it again.

March 5, 2012 at 7:44 pm Leave a comment

Snow Day!

Those crazy farmers who write the almanac…they were right! They said we wouldn’t give significant snowfall (after the crazy Halloween blizzard, of course) until February. The Leap Day Snow Extravaganza! Go ahead and take that one for free news anchors – so catchy. And guess what? Next year, yesterday didn’t even happen, so this snow doesn’t count. Accordingly, I’m pretending it doesn’t exist.

On such a snow day, one would think to spend the entire day cozy and maybe cooking? Especially since I’m slowly discovering a joy in cooking, but no, I spent the day writing and getting distracted by my adorable cats and Pinterest. Plus, we literally have no food. We live in New England and knew about this blizzard, but didn’t run frantic to the grocery store for bread and milk and other snowed-in-for-God-know’s-HOW-long essentials.

Let’s discuss what I cooked over the weekend to eat this week.

For lunches, as a side, I made Quinoa Pizza Casserole. I ate it today with leftovers from Saturday. This was my first dive into vegan cheeses. Not disappointed in the cheese at all! I find that shredded mozzarella cheese kind of has a fake cheese taste anyway, and Galaxy’s mozzarella chese has the exact same flavor. When it was baking though, I did notice that it doesn’t get as gooey-melty as regular cheese, which is a common complaint amongst vegans. As long as it tastes similar, I can get over the non-meltiness. Before I baked it, the casserole was yummy, but when I ate it on Monday (after baking, obv) it tasted burnt and just…strange. I didn’t finish it and I was so disappointed.  And I haven’t tried it again since Monday, so that was an unfortunate waste. I may have just cooked it too long, due to the non-meltiness of the cheese. I’m sure I’ll give it another go some time.

For Monday’s dinner, I made Happy Herbivore’s Hippie Loaf with mashed cauliflower and a reappearance of the ginger garlic string beans. So much went wrong with this. The cauliflower calls for milk, so I poured in my almond milk. Yeah, that milk is VANILLA flavored. So, I made vanilla, cream cheese, garlic mashed cauliflower. Sound appetizing? And to top it off, they got ice cold instantly, so when I served dinner, they were basically frozen. No one liked them. The hippie loaf wasn’t bad, but it was very plain. I’m not sure what I can do to spice it up, but I’ll figure something out because I really love quinoa. The string beans, though, did not fail.

I already know what I’m making next week, and I’m very excited. It’s pretty basic and I’m telling myself it’s a no-brainer.

On another note, I need to do a quick advertisement. My name is Briana and for years I have tried very hard to like hummus. It’s a healthy dip for vegetables. It’s spreadable on sandwiches. Everyone I know is all, “Oh, I LOVE hummus!” I’ve tried many flavors – plain (vomit), hot pepper, spinach and artichoke. They all failed me, even the artichoke one, which I still can’t believe. Hummus has rejected my efforts until I found Roasted Garlic Hummus. Rainbows spread across the sky, Heaven opened up, and God said, “Here, Briana, be at peace with hummus.” It’s from Good Neighbors and their slogan is “Hummus the way it should be.” Yes, my thoughts exactly! It’s just so garlicky and I’m truly in love. So thanks Good Neighbors for making me wish I could be your neighbor.

March 1, 2012 at 10:24 pm Leave a comment

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