Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Black Bean Hummus

 This is the most delicious black bean dip I have ever made. We make it constantly, almost as much as hummus, and it's just as easy!

Black bean hummus:
1 can black beans, drained
3 tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 to 2 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon olive oil
splash of garlic powder, or a little bit of a garlic clove

Place all ingredients in food processor and blend. I blend mine for a long, long time because I like it extra creamy.

 We like to dip black corn tortilla chips in our dip, as well as carrot/cucumber/celery/zucchini sticks!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Crazy Confessions

  Sometimes on the way home from work in the morning I listen to radio stations where the DJ's just talk. I'd prefer to listen to music, but on occasion they can be really, really funny. The things people say when they call in make me feel better about my own life.

  A few mornings ago there was a particularly funny show on about the weird things that people do, including OCD behavior and just downright funny/stupid things. That combined with a similar blog post about the same thing got me thinking about the "crazy" things I do. It's time for a little confession session, my dear bloggys. If I called into the station, I would say:

 I confess that when I drive through a yellow light, I have to kiss my fingers and then touch the ceiling of the car. If I don't, I will get in a car accident. It's something I've done my whole life...I thought everyone did that? Guess not. Does that make me crazy??

 I confess that each time I leave the apartment, I have to kiss my cat and tell him I will be back. Then I have to kiss my dog and tell her I promise I'll be back soon. If I don't do this, they might get their feelings hurt or think I'm never coming back. No matter how big of a hurry I'm in or how late I'm running, I will find the cat and dog and speak to them.

I confess that I am so paranoid of getting bed bugs from a hotel/motel/holiday inn that I keep my bags and clothes elevated and off the floor at all times (either on the desk or bed). Does this make me super paranoid, or just plain crazy?? 

I confess that I have a ritualistic order to my shower routine. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash. Any interruption or change in this makes me have to start all over again and complete it in the right order. Does this mean I have OCD or does it just make me crazy??

I confess that when I see or hear an ambulance, I have to say this huge prayer to myself in my head. If I don't, the person in the ambulance might die. you knew this question was coming... What do you do that makes  you  crazy?? Don't be shy now....

Friday, July 22, 2011


 Hello, happy Friday! Are you ready for the weekend??

 I am so happy to have a few days off work. After working every night from Sunday through Wednesday, I came home Thursday morning and crashed! I slept from 8 am to 5 pm, then fell back asleep at 9 pm and slept until 9 am this morning! Oh em gee...Night shift is so exhausting! However, I woke up this morning feeling like a new person and am so happy to be on *day shift* for a few days!

 After posting this post about a great movie you can watch on the internet called Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead I received a lot of positive comments and emails! I loved hearing about everyone's favorite juice recipe and most importantly I was thrilled that people are juicing at all!

 After I watched the movie, I was so motivated to juice more. I broke out the juicer again and have vowed to juice at least three times a day. Each day since Sunday, I've been waking up and making a glass of juice. I sip on for about half an hour, then juice another glass. I pack my lunch and get a shower before I go into work and then juice and drink another glass. I have "lunch" around midnight or 1 am at work, which has been a salad and piece of fruit, and then I go home in the morning and go to sleep. Rinse and repeat each day. I've felt great (although tired from working four night shifts in a row) and have decided to continue as long as I can.

 This morning I juiced the following vegetables:

 That's beet, kale, celery, cucumber, carrot, and apple.

 If you watched the movie I posted above, you'll remember that he held a large bowl of fruit and vegetables up and asked, "How long would it take you to eat and chew all these?" The answer is, a long time! If I physically chewed the beet, kale, carrots, celery, cucumber and apple, I'd still be chewing into lunch time! Throw it all into the juicer, however, and you get all the micro & macronutrients you wouldn't get by masticating alone (which means chewing). Juicing breaks down the components and brings out the best you need! People have cured cancer by juicing! Vegetables are good for you!  

 My beautiful glass of vegetable & apple juice:

The vegetables actually produced two large glasses, (the beets gave almost an entire glass by themselves) so I made two glasses: one all beet, one the rest, and did half and half in each glass. The apple and beet were so sweet that it tasted like fruit juice, but I knew there were lots of vitamin A, C, K and everything else laced into the sweetness! Remember kale alone is a superfood! 

 Have you been juicing at all?  Like I said, I've been doing it every day, making juice at least 50% of my intake each day.
Any plans for the weekend?  This weekend is my friend's cambodian wedding. It will be my first non-american wedding i've ever attended. It is a two-day event, each day different and unique in its own way. I'll post pics after the weekend! 

 Have a great weekend! 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sick,Fat & Nearly Dead + Juicing

 I watched a great movie the other night called Sick, Fat & Nearly Dead. This is the trailer:

 I streamed it from Netflix, but you might be able to watch the whole thing on youtube as well. I'm not a big fan of The Biggest Loser or I-used-to-be-fat-and-then-I-started-eating-right-and-working-out and look at me now videos, but for some reason this one struck a different chord in me.

 Joe, an overweight australian who was over 300 pounds and on numerous medications, came to America to get healthy (ironic, right?) and he did it by living off vegetable juice for 60 days. The movie chronicles his good days, bad days, and entire weight loss, complete with doctors visits, test results and the like. It's no surprise to me, a green-smoothie-drinking, vegetable-juicing raw-food-eating vegan that his health turned around and he was able to lose 200 pounds and get off all his medications, but I think it's a good message to send into the world for non-believers, or even skeptics.

 The best part of the movie, for me, was a trucker he met at a truck stop while interviewing random people. I can't tell you what happens or it would be a huge spoiler. You'll have to watch it yourself! :)

 Another thing I liked about the movie was how he kept on juicing even when people put him down, discouraged him, or thought he was crazy. He carried a little juicer in the back of his car and he let numerous people try the green juice, wherever he was. He was so enthusiastic and excited about it. Most of the time, that's how I feel about green smoothies, juicing, and veganism, yet the general population is such a downer about it.

 After watching the movie I was so incredibly motivated to start juicing more.

I've already done two juice fasts in my life, one which I blogged about here (and each day of the fast is chronicled) and I own a juicer, but after it's put under the cupboard and it's out of sight, out of mind, it's hard to remember to bring it out and juice things.

Perhaps the biggest, and best thing I learned from watching the movie is that it's okay to combine all my vegetables! I used to juice only one thing at a time. A cup of carrot juice in the morning, a cup of celery and apple in the afternoon. This was, of course, boring and lead to me only juicing for one isolated day and going back to my old way of eating. After watching the movie, I did as they instructed and I went to the farmers market and bought everything I laid eyes on:
 parsley, romaine, spinach, celery, cucumbers, carrots, kale, apples, peaches, lemons.

 Then I put it all into the juicer together! My first juice (and first meal of the day) was parsley, a whole head of romaine, one stalk of celery, one large cucumber, one large carrot, and water.  It looked like this but much more:

 I thought it would taste like grass and be so awful with all the lettuce and parsley, but it wasn't much different from the other times I've juiced. The carrots did a fine job of sweetening everything up and I didn't even need to add stevia or an apple. It was quite good and I drank it without any problems. I had enough energy to go to the gym and complete a crossfit workout x2. When I got home from the gym, I juiced another batch, same ingredients. For dinner, I had some solid food with more vegetables.

 Vegetables contain so many nutrients, minerals and vitamins that can't be released unless you chew, and chew, and chew. It would take you hours to chew all the vegetables that you can drink if you juice them into one cup. Some tips on juicing:

 Warm your juice up to room temperature. Either let your vegetables sit out of the fridge for about an hour, or let your juice sit for a little while until it is room temperature. It is better absorbed into your system if it is room temperature and not cold.

 "Chew" your juice. Your saliva is meant to integrate digestive enzymes into the food we eat, so drink slowly, allowing this to happen. It will let your body digest and absorb it better.

 Drink it slow. Don't drink it all down at once. This could result in a stomach ache. I usually drink a glass in about 15 to 20 minutes, sometimes longer. Imagine if you were chewing all those vegetables, it would certainly take longer than that, so give your stomach time.

Vegetable juice is alkaline. If you have problems with your body or health, there is a chance it is due to to an offset in the acid-base balance. My body needs a lot of alkaline food to balance out the natural acidity of it. When I eat acid-producing food, my body gets way out of balance and I experience skin breakouts, rashes, indigestion, etc. I have noticed the more alkaline foods I eat (carrots, celery, cucumber, spinach) and juice, the better I feel.  As hard as it was to quit drinking coffee, I have to admit it was the probably the best thing I've ever done, especially for my skin. Coffee is very acidic and ever since I stopped drinking it, I haven't had to have any prescriptions from my dermatologist.

 My goal is to increase my fruit and vegetable juice intake per day, and so far so good. Today I am on day #2, but hopefully soon I won't have to count days because it will just be incorporated into my lifestyle. They say it takes 30 days to form a habit, so here we go!

 Do you juice vegetables and/or fruit? What is your favorite combo?
 Have you seen the movie Sick,Fat & Nearly Dead? 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Zucchini (better-than-crab) Cakes

 I tried out this recipe from the brilliant Kelli and it came out wonderful! If you have an extra zucchini or two laying around, or you used to like crab cakes before you became vegan (wink wink) I highly recommend this recipe!

 Zucchini Better-than-Crab Cakes

4 cups grated zucchini (i used a cheese grater and left the skin on)
2 egg replacers (or two eggs if you aren't vegan)
3 Tablespoons Earth Balance vegan butter, melted
2.5 cups breadcrumbs
1/2 cup flour (I only had garbanzo bean flour and it worked fine)
3-4 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
few teaspoons oil for frying

Grate your zucchini and sprinkle with a little salt to sweat the excess water off. Blot with towel or paper towel. This step is important because if you don't get all the water out, the cakes will be too mushy. I actually put all my grated zucchini into a towel and squeezed as much water as I could out.
 Mix zucchini in with egg replacer and butter. Add breadcrumbs and seasoning. Mix well and form into patties. I was able to make five good sized patties with my batch. Put oil in frying pan on medium to high heat until hot. Dredge patties in flour before putting on frying pan. Sizzle until each side is golden brown.

 These little cakes were the fastest "burgers" we have ever made. Much, much faster than homemade black bean burgers, and faster than homemade falafel. It was literally one, two, and they were done. Bazinga!

 The Boyfriend and I made these into sandwiches and enjoyed them for two meals.  They were simply wonderful. Thank you Kelli!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Myrtle Beach Half Marathon

 Some friends and I have signed up to do a half marathon in South Carolina on Oct 23, 2011!

Initially I had asked my friend Melissa if she wanted to run it with me, and then a few other girls overheard and we asked them too, and then a few others, and now there's quite the group of us ICU nurses running! I am so excited because I've never ran with more than myself or just The Boyfriend. Speaking of boyfriends, mine and a few other of the girls boyfriends/husbands are running it with us, too!

 The good thing about running with co-workers is that we can hold each other accountable, check in with one another, and train together! 

 The run description is that it is an easy, flat road on the boardwalk

And we get little surfboard metals at the end! 

 The best part, (besides the run, of course) is that there is a beach party afterward, complete with music and beer! My co-worker has rented out a beach house for us that holds 20 people and we can stay the whole weekend. Can you say weekend getaway??

 What fun runs are you doing this year?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Homemade Spring Rolls

 We had a carry-in (potluck) at work the other day, and my friend Kemry brought all the ingredients for do-it-yourself spring rolls. After a quick lesson we were all huddled around the table, stuffing and wrapping our own spring rolls and hungrily eating them. They were so easy and delicious I knew it would be my next meal for an at-home-date-night with The Boyfriend. We decided that night would be last night, since he has a swim meet this weekend and I work until Wednesday.

 We ran to the store to pick up hoison sauce, spring roll wraps, and soba noodles. You can use any kind of noodles, these were on sale so I bought them.

 Then I cut up some lettuce, cucumbers, and celery. Traditionally, mint leaves and parsley leaves are used, but I was fresh out of these, so I went without. At work, my friend brought grilled chicken to put in the rolls too, but for obvious reasons we did without that as well.

Then you fill a wide-brim bowl with some tap water and dip the spring roll shells into the water. They will not turn soft immediately. Simply dip them in the water until the whole side is wet, then place back on cutting board/table/plate.

 Place the noodles and veggies on the wrap near the bottom of the wrap.

At this time, the wrap will be soft and pliable, like magic! You should be able to pick it up and roll it without problems. Roll it from the bottom up, and tuck the sides in.

 My finished roll:

And after a few more times I got pretty good!

 Dont forget the dipping sauce! I mixed some peanut butter in with the hoison sauce and sweet begeezus it was a peanut buttery goodness that melted in my mouth.

 Now go make your own!

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

 I have fallen in love with a new smoothie creation. The vanilla/peanut butter /banana smoothie:

(Strategically placed on my balcony next to our "seeds of love", which have finally decided to bloom after five months of lying dormant...)

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
3 ice cubes
1 cup almond milk
1 banana
2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
1 cup spinach

 The rich, dessert-like flavor of this drink makes you feel like you are drinking a real ice cream smoothie, yet almond milk has only 90 calories in 1 cup and no animal fat. It also has Vitamin D and Calcium without hurting anything! Spinach is high in iron, vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin E. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, is high in fiber, and aids in digestion, eye, skin, and brain function. So grab a handful (or four) of spinach, some almond milk, and whatever fruit you fancy, and blend away! 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Potato Skins

 I don't know about you, but I've always loved potato skins. Fortunately for me, I found a way to veganize them, so I can still have them if I find myself craving them, (which I may or may not do after a night of adult beverages...)

Potato Boats:

 Two potatoes 
 one tablespoon oil
 two tablespoons nutritional yeast
 one teaspoon frank's red hot/ sriracha sauce/ other hot sauce
 salt and pepper
 1 tablespoon vegan sour cream
 daiya cheese

 Puncture your potatoes with a fork, wrap in plastic baggie or damp paper towel, and put into microwave for about five minutes.
 Slice them longways and scoop out all of insides except about 1/4 of an inch around on all sides.
 Mix the insides in a bowl with oil, nutritional yeast, hot sauce, and vegan sour cream.  You can add more or less nutritional yeast and hot sauce depending on hot cheesy and spicy you want it. Re-pack the insides of the boats with this stuffing mixture. Top with daiya cheese and put boats back into the oven for about 20-25 minutes or until you can tell the cheese is melted.
 Dip in additional sour cream/other dressing as desired! 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

What We've Been Loving

  We've been loving the weather

The attractions

We've been loving the outdoor bands that we get to listen to

On our date nights!

And beer menus that are two pages long!

We've been loving spending time together

But mostly, each and every day we give thanks to the fact that we are alive, healthy, and happy.

  Happy 4th of July!

What have you been loving?

World's Best Veggie Burgers

Veggie burgers have long been a favorite of mine, whether store bought or from the restaurant. Yet it seems like such a crime to pay so much for them when you could be making them at home! With determination in my cooking veins to make the perfect veggie burger, I've struggled over the past two years with homemade burgers. I remember the first time I ever made them two years ago (with a black bean and corn base) they were too dry and wouldn't stay together. And again, the last time I attempted, just weeks ago, I made them with a chickpea base and they were too moist. Even after frying in a bit of oil they came out kind of mushy.

Years ago I was in Columbus, Ohio visiting my dear friend Amy, and because she is always-accommodating to my vegan lifestyle, she suggested we visit northstar cafe at dinnertime for a veggie burger. Now, my opinion on veggie burgers: You've had one, you've pretty much had them all, so I wasn't too quick to jump on this idea, so I asked what else there was to eat around there. She insisted that this particular veggie burger would be the best I have ever had. Still skeptical to taste the "best ever veggie burger" from a non-vegan, I wanted to keep my options open. She continued to talk about them all day; while we watched old DVDs of our fave show, while she cut and colored my hair, and while we drove to her parents house. It wasn't until she mentioned the idea to her parents and pretty much sent them into orbit over the sound of having northstar veggie burgers that I thought: Wow, there might be something to these things if non-vegetarians are getting all googly-moogly over them. So off we trotted to this magical cafe to pick up our two bags that held the mysterious veggie burgers. I have to admit, as I stared down at this massive burger on my plate that was complete with tomato, lettuce, onion, and the largest bun known to mankind, I knew it was going to be an epic experience.

The rest is history. I fell in love that day, and have since been trying to recreate this majestic veggie burger. My dreams are made of brown rice, black beans, and the infamous "secret" ingredient: beets. Okay, not really, my dreams are rarely of food, but if I dreamed in food, these northstar veggie burgers would be dancing around on pink clouds. The beets, the secret ingredient, give this burger a meaty texture and a warm color, which is kind of odd for a vegan to see after not seeing cow-beefy burgers in a while, but all is forgotten as soon as the burger hits your tastebuds.

 I googled Northstar cafe burgers and came across the following recipe on "the kitchn" site, although I did tweak it massively. The following are the ingredients according to the way I made the burger:
1 cup brown rice, cooked
2 small onions, diced
2 beets, cooked and diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
squeeze of lemon juice
oil (I use safflower because it is for high heat. Be warned: olive oil is NOT supposed to be heated. Why no one knows this is a mystery to me.)
1 tablespoon parsley, minced
Chili powder
Salt and pepper
Any other seasonings. Keep in mind I tweaked
this recipe, so add as much or as little of these spices and any other spices you like

The "meat" of the burger is the rice, beans, and beets. The seasonings, onion and garlic can be adjusted as much as you want.

Cook rice and set aside.
Cook beets and shred them in food processer.
Mash beans in a large bowl.
Cook onions and garlic, then add beets to them. Add this to the rice mixture. Add the beans. You now have the "meat" of the burger. Add spices and seasonings. I also added bragg's liquid aminos (which is vegan soy sauce). You can add bbq sauce, liquid smoke, whatever. At this point, my mixture was kind of wet. I had to add some flour, one tablespoon at a time, to get it to thicken up. After adding flour make sure you taste the mixture. I hate the taste of too much flour, so I then had to add more seasonsings/sauce to get it just right again. It's a delicate balance, but well worth the time invested.

Here is a picture of the mixture before I cooked the patties. This is how much mixture was left AFTER making 5 burgers. Be warned: this makes a ton! We will be eating them for days. But that's okay because they are so good!
Heat a skillet over medium heat and put some oil in it. Flour your hands up and make patties, adding more flour if needed to keep the mixture from sticking to your hands. Place in pan, it should sizzle immediately. Cook about 2 minutes on each side, flipping to make sure it doesn't stick to bottom of pan. I added cheese on top about 2 minutes before taking off.

The Boyfriend's reaction to the burger was much like mine when I first tasted it. I got a closed-eyes, big-exhale "mmmmm" and then he said it was a 10 on a scale of 1-10 and he couldn't imagine tasting anything better.