Tag Archives: holiday

Bookmarked

While I was busy…well, not blogging, it turns out the blog world carried on. (I know–I’m not sure how it functioned without me either!)

So I thought I’d share just a few of the posts that caught my eye while I was catching up on my Interweb browsing. This list is my no means comprehensive, nor was my “research.” It’s also not meant to be a list of all my favorite blogs, but rather more of a random handful of gems.

With that said, I hope you enjoy!

EATING

1. First of all, thanks to Ashley, I’m dying to host a veggie sushi party!

This is not just any sushi party, mind you. It’s a deconstructed sushi party, which (and I know this from watching multiple seasons of Top Chef) is a pretty big deal. Culinarily speaking.

However, considering Tom and I own a total of two chairs in our little abode, guests might have to eat on our floor. I’m thinking we could tell them that this is a traditional Asian way of eating? That sounds much better than, “Don’t worry, we just cleaned the floors last week!”

I’ll let you know how it pans out.

2. I’ve also had my eye on Gena‘s raw, vegan eggnog.

Yes, I’m aware that it’s practically February. But I ask you: Why should something as delicious as eggnog be relegated to a 2-month window? It’s one of life’s mysteries. With this recipe, it can be enjoyed year round.

In fact, I made this the other week (with the addition of a titch of vanilla) and it was very tasty indeed! I proceeded to ruin it by adding too much booze, but that’s another story. And also explains why this is still on my “to make” list.

Why should it be on yours? A.) It’s super easy to whip up; B.) The ingredients are plant-based and wholesome; and C.) It contains booze! Enough said.

3. If you’re over the whole festive holiday season thing (fair enough), Gena also makes a mean, green salad. Ever since she posted a recipe for a Green Monster Salad comprised of collards and spinach with avocado, sundried tomato, and broccoli, I’ve been craving it like it’s comfort food!

4. Jenna’s Vietnamese sandwich looks out of this world.

If you’ve never had a Vietnamese sandwich before, go get one now. Or sometime this week. Trust me, they are amazing. I’ve been meaning to create a vegan version of this miracle of a sandwich for a while. Then again, let’s be honest, I’ve been meaning to do a lot of things, like organize my closet, frame a painting I purchased two years ago, and send thank you notes for…nevermind. Needless to say, this is definitely on my list!

5. Lest we forget dessert, Chocolate-Covered Katie’s Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies are also on my list.

I think the reasons are self-explanatory but I’ll lay them out anyway: A.) Eating cookies for breakfast appeals to me; B.) Eating cookies, period, appeals to me; and C.) My sister tried them and told me they were delicious.

Sold.

6. I’m also intrigued by the new Cappuccino Larabar flavor, which many bloggers seem to have tried.

Dear Larabar,

If you’re reading, please consider sending me some of the new flavor for review on my blog. And also include some Larabar minis in the package because they’re very cute. I am good at blogging…and not blogging.

Love,

Kelsey @unmitigated grub

GOING VEGGIE

If you’re looking to go vegan or vegetarian–or just to cut back on meat in the New Year–there are so many great resources to help you begin your journey:

1. No-Meat Athlete‘s comprehensive guide: 50 Fantastic Resources for New Vegetarians. (There is so much great info in one post, you will want to bookmark this, too!)

2. Mama Pea‘s awesomely delicious guide on how to turn five vegan recipes into 25 dinners. Pure genius!

I, for one, can personally attest to the Peanut Mmmm Sauce. It’s truly like no other peanut sauce you’ve tried! Not only is it Tom-approved, but so versatile: This past week, I’ve enjoyed it atop grains + veggies, as salad dressing, and by the spoonful. Mama Pea has even more ideas for this sauce. It did not last long in our household small apartment.

3. The wisdom of Mark Bittman, via the also wise Molly. This is another great resource on ways to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet, complete with recipes. No meat, no dairy, no problem!

Speaking of Mark Bittman, here’s a very interesting read on why Americans are eating less meat. Who knew?

And while I’m on a Mark Bittman tangent (never a bad thing), if you missed this post, check it out! (Yep, I just linked to myself. Because I’m great.)

LAUGHING

1. If you’re looking to laugh, I would recommend essentially every post by Mama Pea. I kind of wish I was a part of her family. (Adopt me!)

But that’s weird, right?

2. Check out this awesome video by the new-to-me Meghan the Veghan: Shit Meat Eaters Say to Vegans, featuring everything from the ubiquitous, “Where do you get your protein?” to the hilarious, “If I put a slab of meat, like, in your bed, you’d freak out, right?” Love it!

Meghan’s holiday party survival guide also made me laugh. (And, again, I am aware that the holiday season is over. Just let me enjoy my eggnog, dammit!)

3. Although not a blog post, Tina Fey’s Bossypants is also hilarious.

I literally could not put it down and read it in less than 24 hours. Five stars!

4. I also love Liz’s Workout for the Attention-Span-Challenged. Not only did it make me laugh, but it is very informative! As someone who does not currently belong to a gym (and has a living room!), I am excited to give this circuit training workout a try.

Starting tomorrow.

I could go on. I know I’ve only scratched the surface of all the fabulous recipes and posts out there.

But that’s where you come in!

What have you bookmarked lately? What new blogs have you discovered? What has made you crave something, think, laugh, or excited to exercise?

Include link(s) where possible!

* Note: No photographs or art featured in this post are mine; please click on each photo for its source!

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Gone Running

I’m off on an early morning run, feeling so grateful my injury is on its way out!

And, yes, I always have a line of fans cheering me on as I run. Don’t you? ;)

I’ve missed you all, but I’m going to have to leave you with this wee post, as I’ve been a busy bee! I promise a return to regular postage tomorrow. For now…

Happy National Running Day!

To my fellow runners: Why do you run?

For me, running is empowering. I love the way it makes my body feel: the mental and physical challenges, pushing my limits, the endorphins, the sense of accomplishment, proving something to absolutely no one but myself. I love the time to myself, being alone with my thoughts.

And running is always there. Even when I’m injured or in a rut, I know that I can pick it back up, and like talking with an old friend, get back into a familiar rhythm once again.

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Recipe Revisited

A while back, I made some almond-coconut granola balls that were almost perfect. I knew with the addition of a sweetener, they would be out of this world.

In fact, I was so confident in this, I shared the recipe without testing my theory. Risky business.

But I would never lead you astray! And, after finally attempting the new and improved recipe, I can confidently say: make these.

I had been waiting for the chance to test this recipe once and for all, so when Tropical Traditions kindly sent me a jar of their gold label virgin coconut oil, made from fresh, organic coconuts from the Philippines, I knew exactly what I was going to make.

What better way to use coconut oil?

Did I mention they were almond-coconut balls with tart cherries and chia seeds?

Yep. Amazing.

If you’re a regular reader, you know I heart all things coconut. I love coconut oil (as I mention here) because it’s great for cooking and baking; it can be heated to high temperatures without becoming a trans fat. It’s also a unique form of saturated fat in that it’s easily digestible and immediately converted into energy by the liver (as opposed to being stored in cells).

The coconut flavor in these treats comes from the coconut oil, coconut flour (oat flour can be subbed), and unsweetened shredded coconut. The almond flavor is infused through the almonds, almond butter, and almond extract (optional, but a nice touch).

The balls are not dry and crumbly in the least; they hold together beautifully. And with the addition of brown rice syrup–a very mild sweetener–they’re not overly sweet either. The texture is almost like a mini scone with oats. Or a slightly chewy oat-y treat, its flavor reminiscent of a macaroon.

I’m not sure how else to describe them, except to say, they are nothing short of lovely–and may even be one of the best creations to come out of my kitchen.

The perfect accompaniment to tea or coffee.

Healthy enough for breakfast. Delicious enough for an afternoon treat.

For the updated recipe, go here. See below for the process in pictures…

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

If you were hesitant to attempt my imperfect recipe the first time, rest assured that these are worth your while.

And, don’t worry, Mom; I’ve saved some of these for you!

Happy Mother’s Day! 

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Seis de Mayo?

No, it doesn’t have the same ring to it.

But we’re going to get festive today anyway! Because, let’s be honest, you don’t really need a reason to eat Mexican food.

I did plan on sharing these easy tempeh tacos with you on CINCO de Mayo; I love any excuse to make food for special occasions. There was Bara Brith for Saint David’s Day. Green oats for St. Patrick’s Day. Rice Jambalaya…just ‘cuz I went to New Orleans. Matzo Ball Soup for Passover…and I’m not even Jewish.

Yep, any excuse. ;)

But life sleep got in the way. The good news is, these are tasty any day of the year.

First, a word about tempeh. For those that aren’t familiar, tempeh is a fermented soy product that is high in protein, making it a great meat replacement. One serving of LightLife organic garden veggie tempeh–four ounces–provides 38% of the Daily Value for protein (19 grams) for only 240 calories, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, and no cholesterol. Not too shabby. It also scores well in the vitamins/minerals department; it’s rich in vitamin B2 (riboflavin), magnesium, manganese, and copper.

So how is it different than tofu? It’s made from the fermentation of the soybean (like miso), which benefits digestive health. Elise explains a bit more about what sets tempeh apart in this post, where, incidentally, you will also find a recipe for another delicious Mexican meal involving tempeh. :)

Are you still awake? I promised a fiesta, and I’ve put you to sleep!

Let’s get cooking, yes?

I know this looks long and complicated, but it’s really not. With a little prep the day before (making the tempeh marinade and the world’s easiest red cabbage slaw), all you have to do is whip up your guac, saute your tempeh, and assemble!

Tempeh Tacos 

Serves 2

  • 8 oz. tempeh
  • 4 taco shells (I used Maria and Ricardo’s soft taco size sprouted grain tortillas)
  • red cabbage slaw (recipe below)
  • guacamole (check out my favorite guac here)
  • salsa (optional)

Marinade* 

* for extra ease, taco seasoning would work well as an alternative to the spices

  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs water
  • 1 Tbs tamari (soy sauce)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/3 tsp red pepper flakes
  • juice from half a lime

DIRECTIONS:

1. Whisk all the ingredients for the marinade together in a container that can fit your tempeh.

2. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Boil tempeh for about 10 minutes. (As I learned from Elise, this helps remove some bitterness!)

3. Place tempeh in the marinade. Cover and let it work its magic overnight. (If you don’t have time to marinate overnight, try to do so for at least an hour.)

4. When you’re ready to assemble your tacos, heat your taco shells in your oven until warm.

5. Meanwhile, dice up tempeh and saute until it’s golden on both sids, about 10 or so minutes.

6. Assemble! Start with the tempeh, then add the red cabbage slaw, and top with guacamole and salsa.

Simple Red Cabbage Slaw (make ahead)

  • About 1/4 head of red cabbage, shopped
  • 2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • A drizzle of agave (about 1 tsp)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • hint of lime juice

Toss together and let flavors mingle (I put this together the night before; alternatively, let it hang out for at least a half hour).

Altogether now…

Mmmm. While I’ve enjoyed many-a-tempeh in my day, this was my first attempt at working with it in the kitchen. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Overall, I liked it. I think marinading it overnight was key to giving it flavor.

And Tom loved it–I think because, texturally, tempeh’s a bit meatier than tofu. It definitely worked well in tacos, as would the meaty seitan (remember these beauties?).

These tacos were tasty. And had a great combination of flavors and textures happening.

If you had to choose: tofu or tempeh? Or none of the above?  I’m a fan of tempeh, but in general I think I’m more of a tofu girl…

I continued the festivities with last night’s dinner: a tex mex veggie burger. Which only sort of counts as Mexican. Just how today is almost Cinco de Mayo. Except not.

Whatever. It was good. :)

I’d only ever tried Dr. Praeger’s California veggie burgers before, so this was new–and delicious! A little less mushy than their California-style ones, and very tasty.

I served with avocado, mixed greens, and salsa on Ezekiel sprouted grain bread.

And with that, happy Seis de Mayo Friday!

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Matzo Ball Soup

This past weekend, I decided to have a little fun with matzo (today is the first day of Passover).

Though I’m not Jewish, I do work for a Jewish magazine–and have a tremendous respect for the Jewish tradition. I enjoy learning as much as I can about Judaism while I’m there.

People often find this fact about my job surprising and amusing. I always get asked, “Do they know you’re not Jewish?” (yes) followed by, “How did you find that job??”

Craigslist, of all places. Who knew?  And it has turned out to be an incredibly enriching experience–on many levels.

Plus, I get Jewish holidays off. ;) Yesterday I was off at 1:00 (as Passover began at sundown), and today I have the whole day off. Not too shabby!

But this post isn’t about my job, or religion, or days off. It’s about soup.

Last year, I made my first matzo ball soup during Passover.

Now, I have no idea why I have a picture of this because A.) I was not a food blogger when this was taken, and B.) I was not planning on becoming a food blogger any time soon. Clearly, I must have been proud?? I am not sure what I planned to do with this picture ha.

Anyway. The soup was delicious. Matzo, I discovered, is not particularly flavorful on its own, but paired with tasty spreads or transformed into matzo balls, it’s pretty great. (For those who don’t know, matzo is an unleavened bread that is similar to a cracker.)

This year, I was determined to make a vegan matzo ball soup–in part as a nod to Passover, and in part because I really love matzo ball soup; the texture is delicious and the soup is so comforting.

So I turned to Robin Robertson’s 1,000 Vegan Recipes–the mother of all vegan cookbooks, as a vegan version of pretty much anything you’re in the mood for–and sure enough, matzo ball soup was there. I followed the recipe fairly closely, only making a few adjustments. Here’s what I did.

Matzo Ball Soup

Adapted from 1,000 Vegan Recipes, by Robin Robertson. Serves 2. 

For the balls:

  • 1/2 cup matzo meal (I just processed my mazto crackers)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp finely ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup crumbled up tofu (drained and pressed first)
  • A scant 1/4 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 Tbs fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1.5 Tbs olive oil
For the soup:
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 2-3 Tbs fresh dill, minced
  • 1 Tbs fresh parsley, minced
  • sea salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

1. Combine matzo meal, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

2. Add the tofu, vegetable stock, dill, parsley, and olive oil to a food processor and puree. Stir this into the matzo mixture until well-combined. Cover and refrigerate for about 45 minutes or so (can refrigerate overnight).

3. In the meantime, heat olive oil for the soup in a large saucepan. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Saute until soft, about five minutes. Add dill, parsley, salt, pepper, and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer for about 30 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. While the soup is simmering, form the matzo dough into six balls and place on a lightly oiled baking tray. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool.

5. Assemble the soup. Ladle soup into two bowls and add three balls to each. Enjoy.

This was so flavorful. The matzo balls weren’t quite as…fluffy as the ones I made last year. But they were hearty and tasty.

The soup itself was a great base. Loved the addition of dill!

To all my Jewish friends: Happy Pesach!

And I welcome other ideas for what to do with matzo; I’m not gonna lie, last year’s remaining matzo was tossed out this weekend when I realized it was over a year old. Ooops!

I’m off to enjoy my day off! Not to rub it in. ;)

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Sláinte!

For those who don’t speak fluent Irish, this means “cheers!”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

This holiday holds a special place in my heart, as I studied lived in Dublin for six months during college. I loved my time in Ireland. It was such a carefree yet eye-opening time in my life that will stay with me forever.

But enough sappiness. Let’s get tacky. :)

St. Patrick's Day Parade, Dublin

To celebrate, I had a GREEN MONSTER bowl of oats this morning. It was smoothie-meets-overnight oats. Glorious!

I don’t have smoothies very often because I don’t have a blender (gasp!). I know; I need to rectify this ASAP. I used my food processor for this, but it’s a lot of clean-up for one meal–no matter how much of a monster this bowl is.

But today is a special occasion. :)

Green Monster Oats

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a food processor, combine frozen banana, spinach, nondairy milk, hemp, and Vega. Process until smooth.

2. Add to a bowl with a heaping 1/2 cup oats. Stir. Top with pepitas.

3. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

soupy the night before...

4. Enjoy!

bulks right up

So green and soooo good.

Speaking of Ireland and food, I thought I’d tell you about one of their specialties: the chip butty.

If you haven’t heard of this, a chip butty is a sandwich comprised of generously buttered white bread with chips (thick American fries) in the middle. Toppings include (but are not limted to) ketchup, mayonnaise, garlic mayonaise, curry sauce, and more.

You’re probably either gagging right now or want to go make one immediately–or are maybe vascilating between the two reactions. On the one hand, it’s bread and chips…what’s not to love? On the other hand…gross!

You either love ‘em or you hate ‘em, that’s for sure. :)

I’ll admit; I definitely consumed a few chip butties in Ireland (when in Rome…)–garlic mayo and all–and they make great drunk food. Don’t think any less of me!

my friends enjoying chip butties

 

Does a chip butty look appealing to you? If you’ve had one before, what did you think?


And because it’s green and from Ireland, check out this Tesco find…

This was no joke. Neon green “peas” called “Mushy Processed Peas.” HA! They don’t even try to hide the fact that they’re processed! (And just to clarify: my Irish friends did not find this appealing either.)

Anyway.

Because Ireland is so much more than St. Patrick’s Day and green nonsense, here are a couple photos to redeem its beauty.

Georgian architecture

Saint Stephen's Green, Dublin

 

the Cliffs of Moher

 

off Grafton Street

the Aran Islands

the Ha'penny Bridge

cute little lambs

A green monster to start the day….

…and probably a green beer to end, we shall see. Or preferably a pint of Ireland’s Smithwick’s (pronouced Smittick’s in Ireland); Guinness is a bit dark for me.

Not bad. :)

How will you be celebrating?

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Happy Saint David’s Day

No, I’m not making up holidays; today is Saint David’s Day. If this is news to you–you just got a bonus holiday. :)

Saint David is the patron saint of Wales and, for centuries, March 1st has been a day of celebration in Wales and beyond. To mark the occasion, people wear either a leek or a daffodil.

So why am I celebrating? (Besides the obvious: why not?)

See, even though Tom was born (and grew up) in London, both his parents are Welsh making him Welsh as well. Case in point: He supports Wales over England in rubgy and football. Enough said. When he was little, his mom pinned a leek onto his school uniform and a daffodil onto his sister’s in honor of Saint David’s Day. Adorable.

No, Tom and I are not doning the leek/daffodil look today. But I did bake a classic Welsh treat: bara brith.

Bara brith (meaning “speckled bread”) is a sweet quick bread traditionally made with raisins, currants, and sometimes candied fruit soaked in tea.

I used a Welsh cookbook his parents gave me (Welsh Teatime Recipes) as a basis for this recipe. It was actually quite easy to veganize (the only non-vegan ingredient was an egg); the hard part was trying to convert ounces and pints into cups! I was flummoxed and at times broke the cardinal rule of baking: I guesstimated. I also swapped out the self-rising wholemeal flour for whole wheat pastry flour (adding baking soda and powder), the “mixed spice” for pumpkin pie spice, and the brown sugar for agave nectar (in part because the brown sugar in my cupboard was hard as a rock).

The good news is it turned out well.

Bara Brith

  • 10 0z. mixed dried fruit (I used TJ’s Golden Berry Blend plus more raisins)
  • 1 1/4 cup hot tea (I used Twinings–proper tea, according to Tom–but any English black tea would work)
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 2 tsp chia seeds mixed with 2 Tbs water
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or mixed spice, if you can get your hands on it)
  • Grated zest of one whole lemon

DIRECTIONS:

1. Soak your dried fruit in the brewed tea overnight, covered.

2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a loaf pan.

3. Strain the fruit, reserving the liquid.

4. Mix chia seeds in water and let sit until they begin to gel up.

4. Whisk flour, baking soda and powder, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and lemon zest in a bowl. Add in dried fruit, agave, and chia seed mixture. Stir in the reserved liquid a bit at a time. Mix until well combined.

5. Add mixture to loaf pan and bake for 45-55 minutes. Your kitchen will smell Ah.Maz.Ing.

6. Let cool and then slice and consume.

This bread is scrumptious!

Now, to be completely honest, I can’t tell you if this tastes like true bara brith as I’ve never had it before. What I can say is that it is great. The tea flavor is apparent (in a good way) and the dried fruit makes it so juicy. The lemon zest adds a nice contrast to the pumpkin pie spice and the sweetness of the fruit.

And it passed the taste test of a certain Welshman. :)

I will be enjoying this later today, warmed and spread with a bit of Earth Butter. Served with tea, of course.

In honor of Saint David’s Day, I will leave you with a look at Wales. I was lucky enough to go to Cardiff over the holidays this year to visit some of Tom’s family. It’s a lovely city–and happens to have a castle from the 11th century in the city center, no big deal. (Sadly, I didn’t get a decent photograph of the castle.) It was also, fittingly, drizzling on our visit, hence the gray tones of this picture. But believe me, it is a beautiful place. :)

As Saint David’s Day is normally in the shadow of its very fun Irish cousin Saint Patrick’s Day, let’s give it some love this year, no?

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