Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Operation: New Years Resolutions

Like a lot of people, one of my New Year's resolutions was to eat better and exercise more. Also like a lot of people, that didn't happen. In fact, this has been my laziest and unhealthiest year in a long time. But hey, 2014 ain't over yet! There are six weeks left in this year and I plan to finish it at least a little ahead of where I started (from a health/weight perspective).

We all know that cooking at home is one of the best ways to eat healthier, so I pulled out my beloved copy of Appetite for Reduction and picked two recipes to make and portion out. First up: Miso Udon Stir-Fry with Greens and Beans. Almost all of the recipes in that book are supermarket friendly, but this one might have benefited from a trip to the health food store. I substituted black beans for azuki beans and brown rice stir fry noodles for brown rice udon noodles. The regular grocery store did have udon noodles, but in the spirit of healthy eating, I thought brown rice was a better choice. I also didn't have the full amount of miso the recipe called for.

My camera didn't want to focus on this, but here's what it looked like:

This is perhaps the first recipe from AFR that I haven't loved. I liked it enough to eat it and I'll eat the leftovers, but it was a bit bland and mushy. I take full responsibility for that, though. I think if I had used the right beans and noodles, and proper amounts of miso and sriracha, it would have been better. It still has a ton of veggies and was a huge pile of food for 410 calories, so I might try making it again.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Usurper Alert: Daiya Frozen Pizza

When Whole Foods opened a store in Midtown Detroit last year, the media went nuts. This fit perfectly into their narrative that there are no grocery stores in the city (disproven here) and that the city was completely abandoned and is now showing signs of rebirth (refuted here). In fact, there was already a health food store a half-mile away from the WF location. But, rant over. Any positive media attention is good for the city. Plus as a yuppie, I love a one-stop-shop for organic groceries, vegan prepared food, fresh flowers and wine. Geez, I can't believe how pretentious that sounds...

When I was there this weekend, I stopped by the frozen pizza section, planning to grab a Tofurky pepperoni pizza. They taste just like the cheap omni pizzas I grew up eating and I LOVE THEM. Much to my dismay, the Daiya pizzas had completely overtaken the freezer case. Rather than pout, I coughed up $10 for the Fire Roasted Vegetable variety.

After (also, after eating 1/3 of the frozen vegetables and cheese while waiting for the oven to heat up):

I was a bit skeptical about the gluten-free crust, but it was actually pretty good. Overall, the pizza was good with the right amount of cheese and flavorful sauce and veggies. This was more of the "gourmet" variety of frozen pizzas, which I always thought were pointless because they cost the same as a fresh (and much better tasting) pizza. For the price, I can get a deep-dish pizza from Buddy's which also comes loaded with Daiya. If these were ever on sale, I might buy a few for emergencies (i.e., after the bar), but I don't see this being a new diet staple.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Peanut butter + waffles = heaven

I was like a kid on Christmas Eve waiting for Vegan Brunch to come out back in 2009. When I finally got my hands on a copy, I made at least half the recipes. I ate brunch food for breakfast, lunch and dinner for months. Then like most new toys, I just kind of forgot about it.

Fast forward to 2014... I wanted waffles for breakfast and leafed through the book to see what I had ingredients for in my nearly empty cupboards. Peanut butter waffles were the clear winner, even though I didn't have any peanut butter [because all PB that enters my home is immediately consumed]. I did have peanuts, and while I felt a little guilty running the Vitamix at 9 on a Sunday morning in my apartment, my desire for waffles overrode any feelings of neighborly courtesy. So armed with some freshly ground peanut butter, I got to work.

The batter was easy enough to throw together, and true to the instructions, very forgiving of my tendency to overmix. My waffle iron was a hand-me-down and came without instructions. After years of disappointment that my waffles never turned out right, I decided to check the internet for an instruction manual. Sure enough, I found it, and realized I'd been using too much batter all this time. And what do you know? These turned out great! I served them with some sliced apples, EB and maple syrup. They were great - not overly sweet, just the right mix of crunchy and tender, and a hearty way to start the day. Vegan Brunch FTW!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Happy Dark Season + a wreath

There are two seasons in my world: leaving work in daylight and leaving work in the dark. With the end of Daylight Savings this past weekend, I was abruptly pushed into the dark season. I know it's technically been fall for a while now, but now that MY season changed, I was finally inspired to make a fall wreath. I stopped by JoAnn to get some ideas and found their fall floral was 70% off (procrastinating DOES pay!). Unfortunately, it was almost all hideous, but I did mange to grab a few sprigs of yellow and orange berry/bud things for $0.89/each, plus a spool of burlap ribbon. I had some old dried wheat that had seen better days (it was turned into maracas during a dance party... don't ask) and a grapevine wreath already, so the whole thing cost $11. I didn't take any in-process pictures, but here's a basic overview of the process.

Step 1: Gather materials.

 Step 2: Recruit assistants.

Step 3: Insert decorations into wreath until it takes desired shape.

Step 4: Admire your handy work.

Unfortunately, there's not much natural light in my apartment hallway, so I can't get a good image of the colors. But I'm really happy with how it turned out, especially considering it cost $11 and took an hour. I really did just jam everything into the wreath in a circular pattern. For the bow, I loosely used this tutorial. I'm pretty proud of my ingenuity, because to make the bow you're supposed to use floral wire. I didn't have any, so instead I used a piece of the wire I'd cut off the sprigs of berries. It required pliers to bend it properly, but it worked!