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Vegan Road Trippin

Nervous, excited and car packed to the top, off I go to the sunny west coast!!

As I mentioned before I am now living in Northern California, having just moved here from the East Coast.  I drove across country by myself and enjoyed (almost) every minute of it.  Lol there were quite a few long stretches of drive that were extremely boring, with no sights to see.

However, as promised back in February when I announced my decision to move to California, I planned as much of my trip as I could to stop at some vegan places!!  It wasn’t quite as many as I had hoped but I didn’t have as much time as I wanted and I had to also be a bit frugal.

First awesome vegan stop was Chicago.  

I stopped at Karyns Fresh Corner  which was amazing!  It’s an all raw vegan cafe/restaurant.  It was so tiny but filled with amazing food.  A bit pricey, but I had planned accordingly, so I loaded up on raw food and packed it into my cooler to last me for the next 2 days.

Next up was nothing quite as special, but I stopped at Whole Foods in Nebraska to reload on snacks until I got to Boulder, CO.

In Boulder, CO I met up with a friend who I had not seen since High School!  We went to a pizza place called Boulder Organic Pizza which was some amazingly fresh tasting!  They didn’t have vegan cheese but for those of you who are vegan well know, pizza doesn’t even need cheese to taste amazing if you have the right toppings.


Next up was Reno, NV of all places!  I stopped at Freeman’s Natural Hot Dogs, which is both vegan and non vegan.  It was a quick dinner though since I had a ways to go still.  But it totally hit the spot!  It was such a cute little place, totally unsuspecting, but delicious.  I loaded that baby up with all kinds of awesomeness, vegan cheese, onions, vegan aioli sauce…. drool….

And unfortunately that was it!! I wish I could have stopped at more places but time and money did not play in my favor on this trip.  Plus I had planned accordingly and had a whole bag full of Justin’s Almond Butter packets to go with my apples in my cooler, as well as Lara Bars and ProBars meal replacement bars for those long stretches where I knew there wouldn’t be anything but truck stops.


That’s one thing that I love about being vegan and health conscious, it has taught me to pre-plan my meals and think about the fact that there would indeed be nothing but truck stops for a majority of the way unless I went out of my way to find the vegan spots.  And most of them were not necessarily right along the exit stops.

Next road trip across the country, as I’m sure I will be doing it again next year at some point to move the rest of my stuff out here, I will definitely take more time, and perhaps take the southern route like I had originally wanted.  :-)

  I’d love to know how you all pre-plan your meals!  Do share!

And the Oscar goes to…..

Ohhh how I love award shows! Especially the Oscars.  I love seeing all of the celebrity’s, the fashion, the fact that it’s live and anyone could say anything!

I am totally celeb obsessed! And yes, it has also been my life long dream to become famous.

I’d be great at it don’t you think??  Lol

So I’ve been hemming and hawing over what to make for tonight’s special occasion, and finally came up with a nice menu for two, my roommate and I.  I was deathly ill yesterday… let’s just say that I had a lapse in judgment, more rather, was having a fantastic time out with friends and did not stop to think that after having a couple glasses of red wine, drinking a long island iced tea might not be the bestest of ideas….. yea noooo bueno.  However, I treated myself with extra sleep, coconut water then made a lentil vegetable soup and today I feel as good as new!!  Again, the powers of whole foods strike again! Lol

Oscar Night Menu

- True Cilantro Cheesy Grits

- The Fighter Garlic Basil Sweet Potato Fries

- Black Swan Grapefruit Avocado Sprout Salad

- The Kings Speech Peppermint Tea

- Toy Story 3 Chocolate Cake with a Lemon Mint Blueberry Glaze

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the Oscar goes to…….

Me!!! Lol

Yes, that is a real Oscar!!  About 4 years ago I went to LA for a wedding and it was right around Oscars time so they had this whole display with all of the real oscars in cases, and then one that was attached to a cord that you could hold and take a picture with!  You can only imagine my sheer excitement!!!

I won’t post all of the recipes here as that is a tad overwhelming!  So I’ll start with the Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Cake!!

Gluten Free Vegan Brownies with a Lemon Mint Blueberry Glaze

- 3 tsp Ener-g Egg Replacer

- 6 Tbsp Warm Water

- 1 3/4 Bobs Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour

- 1/3 cup Carob Powder

- 1 tsp Baking Powder

- 1/2 tsp salt

- 1/3 cup melted Coconut Oil

- 1/3 cup chopped Green & Black 86% Chocolate Baking Bar

-   1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract

- 1 ripe banana mashed

- 1 cup Vegan Sugar

* Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

- Whisk together the EnerG Egg Replacer and warm water and set aside.

- Add the flour, carob, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together until they’re thoroughly blended.

- Chop the chocolate bar and place in a medium-sized microwavable bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave another 30 seconds and stir again. Whisk in the melted coconut oil until the mixture is smooth. Add the vanilla, mashed banana, and egg replacer and blend well. Stir in the sugar.

- Add the wet mixture to the large bowl with the dry ingredients. Gently mix together with a large spoon or curved silicone-type spatula until the batter is just blended.

- Line an 8” x 11 ½” pan with parchment paper. Spoon the batter into the pan and spread out to the edges.  Place in the middle of the pre-heated oven for 30-35 minutes. They’re done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.

- Cool in the pan, remove, and cut into squares. (Best stored in the fridge.)

Lemon Mint Blueberry Glaze

- 1/2 Cup Frozen Blueberries

- Small bunch mint roughly chopped

- Juice from 1 inch of lemon

- 1/4 – 1/3 cup vegan sugar

- 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds

*  Place all ingredients (minus the chia seeds) into small sauce pan and heat (stirring constantly) on medium heat.  Heat for about 2-3 minutes until it comes to a rolling boil.

* Add in the Chia seeds and keep stirring constantly until the sauce becomes a slightly thick jam like consistency.

* Pour onto the chocolate cake and enjoy with a nice cup of peppermint tea!!

I Heart Alfredo!!

Ok, so I have a confession to make, I have become OBSESSED with making this Pasta with Alfredo sauce.  Like literally, I cannot seem to get enough of it!!  I may need an intervention.

“Hi, my name is Erin, and I am a Pasta Alfredo-holic”

It’s just soooo delicious and creamy and…. delicious!!!

Creamy Alfredo Sauce

1 cup unsweetened original coconut milk (or any other plain unsweetened milk)

1 cup raw cashews

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

2 Tbsp Tahini

1 Tbsp ground mustard

2 large cloves garlic

2 large pinches dried Thyme

1 tsp Paprika

Juice from a 1 inch lemon slice

Salt and pepper to taste

* Put all ingredients into a blender and blend on high.  (Depending on your blender and its power, you may need to add a bit more milk in to make sure it blends well.)  The sauce will be a nice thick consistency.

* Pour sauce into pot with drained pasta, put on low heat and stir until pasta is fully mixed with sauce.

* Put into favorite bowl with any of your fav veggies, or just add scallions (my fav) and some basil and enjoy the delicious decadence slooowly!!! (I made the mistake of inhaling it too fast the first time because it was so good!! then got sad when it was gone too fast)

The good news is that I have admitted that I have a problem with this amazing vegan cheesy goodness.  The bad news is that I really don’t want to let this go!! Lol

This dish is a bit on the decadent side, and definitely not one that should be consumed as much as I have been consuming it in the past few weeks.  However, it is most certainly WAAAAYYY better then the real tushy stuff (tushy is the new term which I have picked up from Kris Carr, when referring to anything regarding dairy or cow).

I am finally just about cleared of my cold thank god!! I’m tellin  you all, those cold buster smoothies and juices worked!! Along with my Samubucus lozenges.  Those lozenges tasted horrible! but they work! A major perk of working at a holistic pharmacy, I am surrounded by awesome remedies all day long that can make me better!

I hate that this blog today wasn’t filled with interesting knowledge Lol but I find that after I get home from work in the evenings, I don’t have a ton of time to write.  But I’d rather post something rather then nothing :-)  All for the love of my growing crowd of readers :-)

Here is my question for you all today:

Are there any topics or questions you would like me to cover in any up coming blog postings?  I have a few up my sleeve which I would like to cover when I have a bit more time to go more in depth.

Vegan Eats around the DC Metro Area

About a month ago I got my very first fan mail!!! It was so exciting! and it totally made my day.  The person was saying how they had just had their 1 year anniversary of being vegan, and how they stumbled across my blog and noticed how I had not posted anything in a long while (this was of course during my lack of a computer period :-(  so very sad)  and was hoping that I would start up again soon.  They then asked if at some point I could post a blog about my favorite vegan restaurants in the area.  So here it is!!! My review of what I feel are the best places to get some fine vegan grub in and around the DC metro area.

1) Sticky Fingers Bakery (they are finally updating their website!!)

Ahhh I remember when they were just a tiny little hole in the wall back on 18th street near Adams Morgan.  *sigh*

This place will always hold a special place in my heart, as it was the very first place I discovered when I first became a vegan.  It brought me such great joy to find a place that served delicious vegan sweets!  And they have totally and completely expanded!  They serve sandwiches, brunch on weekends, cakes, cupcakes, cookies, brownies… they even have a cupcake happy hour on the first wednesday of every month!! They have adult flavored cupcakes which rotate (can we say fuzzy navel cupcake?? yummmm or chocolate stout cupcake anyone?? anyone? Bueller? Bueller? anyone?)

2) Cafe Green/Java Green

Java Green was the first place to open and it’s more of a work day place to go for lunch, in terms of their hours (though I haven’t checked their hours recently, they may have extended them) because of their location, in the heart of DC work area.

Cafe Green is by the same people who opened Java Green and they recently opened in 2010.  These two places are awesome as they serve a blend of Vegan and Raw foods.  They are a bit pricey but oh so delicious.

3) Elizabeth’s Gone Raw

I recently discovered this place when I went to go see Kris Carr speak at her book signing.  When you walk in it feels as though you have stepped into Marie Antoinette land!! So very chiq and vintage and cozy.  It is not yet opened on a daily basis.  So far it is only open for events that they hold on a fairly regular basis and if you would like to host events.  It is an all raw restaurant and the food is amazing!!  This place would be perfect for graduation parties, wedding receptions, anniversary parties etc…

4) Bus Boys and Poets

This place is perfect for going to with your friends who are not vegan.  They serve both vegan and non vegan food.  It also is a very hip and cool place to hang out, sip coffee, have cocktails hear live music, poetry readings, watching documentary’s and shopping at a fair trade books store!! It is quite the boho chiq poetry slam dive kinda place to be.  And they’re vegan desserts are from my faaaaaaaaaaavorite place ever Vegan Treats I guarantee if you give your non vegan friends a bite of your vegan cheesecake, they won’t be able to tell the difference, in fact they may even think it’s better then the real thing!

They also have several locations in DC and one in VA

5) Great Sage

Another fantastic place to go for parties or celebrations.   I went  here to celebrate my finally graduating from college.  It is a bit far, but oh so very worth it.  The ambiance is also quite breathtaking.  I’d recommend going when the weather is nice so you can sit out on the gorgeous patio and take in the nice green scenery.  The inside decor is very modern and Asian styled.  The food not only is incredible but they also plate each dish very stylishly it almost makes you not want to eat it because its so beautiful!! **I’d recommend taking a picture of it so you can continue to salivate over it all the way home**

6) Toscana Green

Another great place to go with friends who may not be vegan.  They serve vegan, raw and non vegan food.  They also hold monthly events for vegan singles with music and dancing.

7) La Pain Quotidien

This place isn’t vegan per-se, however they do have vegan options.  It is a wonderful place to go and grab some coffee with a friend or go for a nice light lunch or dinner.  It is an all organic french bakery/restaurant.  It is a green run restaurant and their meals are all proportioned correctly!  They don’t use any processed stuff and you never leave feeling stuffed or weighed down.  I love going there for brunches with friends.  And another plus, they have them all over the world! So when traveling you can scout out if there is one near where you are going to be!

8.) Pizza Paradiso

Pizza!!! I got two places on here for this.  This place is a bit more upscale the Z-Pizza.  It’s more of the “go out with friends for pizza” type of place.  They have vegan options for cheese! And there are several locations around the DC metro area.

9) Z Pizza

Consider this your “Dominos” or “Pizza Hut” of ordering out for pizza options.  They use all organic ingredients and have vegan cheese and “meat”.  They do have tables where you can dine in as well.  They also serve salad, sandwiches and pasta.  My fav sandwich is the veggie sandwich on whole wheat baguette and of course I tweak it to my liking…. as I tend to do with most things Lol

10) Asylum

Punk dive bar!!! woohoo!!!  I got two of these on here also!

Located in Adams Morgan, this place is so awesome.  They serve vegan brunch (as well as non vegan) on weekends.  They also offer vegan bar food.  They have live music on occasion, and downstairs they have all kinds of regular bar games like pool, darts etc…  It’s your typical grunge bar where you can chill, relax and enjoy non popped collars and boat shoes Lol aka you can be yourself!!

11) Galaxy Hut

A place where you can go and “everybody knows your name…” no seriously… it’s that tiny.  I love this place, it’s right in my neighborhood, they have a rather large assortment of beers and ciders, its about as big as a living room and every friday (or just about) they host local small bands (which makes the audience space even smaller, but somehow they make it work).  They offer a few vegan options like their “pulled pork” sandwich and a few other options.  But more than that, the atmosphere is awesome, total dive bar where you can just relax and enjoy a nice cold beer with friends.

I hope you enjoyed my reviews! and I hope it helps you to spread your vegan wings and check out some sweet ass places to go with friends and eat some kick ass vegan grub!!

Have a great weekend :-)

A Few Wishes and Amazing Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Goodness!

So I have been doing some “wishing upon a star” lately….. no one star in particular really… just wishing in general.  I have soooo many wishes these days.  Most of which have to do with time moving just a smidge faster so that I can magically be exactly where I am wanting to be.  Also, my life long dream to become famous is becoming stronger and stronger… why? I don’t know but if anyone has any connections give me a hollah!!

Life in general and what the future holds has been on my mind a lot lately, and when I say a lot I mean like ALL THE TIME!  By no means is this a bad thing, I just wish I had more answers to it all.  Lots of open ended questions:  Where am I going with my life?  When will I find “The One”?  Should I go to Grad school?  How am I going to get to California?  How long is it going to take until I finally can reach my ultimate goal?   ………and the questions continue, but I won’t bore you with my laundry list of “when’s”  but you get my drift right?

In particular, after having been single for the past ohh…. almost three years now, I am ready to get back into the dating field.  Not to mention the fact that after my 27th birthday this past year, I started getting that “settle down” itch which totally freaked me out!! So needless to say I would very much love to find my prince charming soon! Lol

Cinderella is my all time favorite Disney movie.... does that mean anything?? Lol

So with all of that “woe is me” yammering I just did, I shall share with you the amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies I whipped up to settle my nerves and mind this weekend.  I tend to hit up the kitchen when my mind is all a flutter, I find it soothes me, calms me down, I become “Zen” :-)

Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Chloe Coscarelli

2 1/4  All purpose flour

1 tsp Baking soda

1 Tbsp Ener-g egg replacer

3/4 tsp Salt

3/4 tsp Cinnamon

1 cup Earth Balance Butter

3/4 cup Vegan Sugar

3/4 cup Brown Sugar

1/4 cup Water

1 Tbsp Vanilla

1 cup Chocolate Chips

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

1.) In a medium bowl whisk together the: flour, baking soda, egg replacer, salt, and cinnamon

2.) In a stand mixer (or can use hand mixer):

- Beat the butter for 30 seconds

- Slowly add the sugars in a stream while mixing

3.) In a small bowl mix the water and vanilla together

4.) Once the butter and sugar is mixed, add the water/vanilla mixture while still mixing the butter and sugar

5.) Put stand mixer on “stir” or if using hand mixer put on “low” and add in the flour mixture a 1/2 cup at a time.  Make sure that after each addition of flour the mix gets fully incorporated.

6.) Add in the chocolate chips and lightly mix (not too much! but just enough for the chips to get mixed in)

7.)  Using a cookie scoop or a tablespoon, scoop dough onto cookie sheet leaving enough room for them to spread.

8.) Using the palm of your hand, flatten the dough a little bit so they look nice and round

9.)  Bake for 12-18 minutes (depends on how you like your cookies)

- for super chewy doughy cookies bake for 12, for super crispy bake for 18.  – for medium texture use your judgement from 13 to 17 minutes

So I leave you with this one last question…

 

Green Festival and Vegetable Soup

 

  Well hello there!! to whoever might be reading this blog.  Today was a beautiful day, though I spent most of it inside…. but still walking to and from the metro was quite beautiful. 

   The Green Festival started today, which I of course went to.  The Green Festival happens once a year and occurs in different cities across the US.  It’s like the mecca for all crunchy granola hippies, vegans and eco-conscious people.  I woke this morning feeling like it was christmas!! a) because there are always tons of awesome samples that you can take with you and always lots of vegan type vendors and b) this was also like a job fair for me!!  So I printed out a bunch of copies of my resume and frolicked over to the convention center to network away!

 

  There were hundreds of vendors, everything from eco-friendly housing (lighting, insulating, kitchens, bathrooms, flooring etc.) to ec0-friendly beauty products, veg friendly food, ec0-clothing, jewelry and….. schools! I even saw my high school had a booth!! It made me laugh because of course my high school (Washington Waldorf School) was the only high school there and of course only my high school would you see in the booth someone spinning their own wool and felting…. ohhh Waldorf… I wish I had taken a picture but I was so caught up in the fond memories it slipped my mind. 

  I was very excited to grab some lunch there, everything was vegan, so hard to choose!! But I finally decided on a veggie wrap, unfortunately it was awful… I hate when I spend money on something ($8!!!) on food that I have to force myelf to finish, simply because I dont want to waste money.  The hummus was dry, the lettuce tasted horrible and there were like no veggies, just tons of bad tasting lettuce.   Bleh… and only one of the two mini muffins I got for dessert was good.  Thank god I had that one last so my meal ended on a good note.  So I then proceeded to where all the food vendors were to get lots of samples since I was still hungry.

 

  *Sigh* so disappointing…. oh well  

 So, the good news is that I walked away from the festival with an interview set up for monday and a handful of other contacts of which I will be sending my resume to. Yay!!! :-)

   I came home and decided I wanted to make some vegetable soup… although after just having some I believe I need to make some changes to the recipe.  I need to soak the beans first then cook them and then add the veggies.  I may try doing what my roommate just suggested and put it all in the blender and make a bisque!! If that proves to be tasty then I shall post the recipe :-)  I love experimenting with cooking  and baking, I do believe I can thank my dad for that one.  So Thanks Dad!!

Fueling your body for running, vegan style!!

  I have recently gotten more serious about running which has been awesome!  Before I really only ran on a treadmill for about 30 minutes, which yes is still running but it doesn’t push you very hard, unless you change the incline which I never really did. 

   So, running… I have a love hate relationship with it.  I love how awesome I feel after my run, and I especially love when I have those awesome runs where you just feel like you could run for hours and hours and feel light as air… however, I am finding that those types of runs don’t happen every day which is annoying.  I keep trying to figure out what makes those types of runs happen, so far I got nothin.

  Today’s run was odd, my legs felt awesome, felt like I could keep running for hours, however my lungs not so much.  I felt like I couldn’t quite get a deep breath.  One of these days I will get it all figured out and find just the right routine, at least thats what I keep telling myself.   Perhaps I should work more on my meditation and breathing….

   Before I went on my run I made myself this awesome concoction:

Pre-Workout Hydration Energy Smoothie

1 cup coconut water

1 tsp maca cocoa powder (or just plain maca)

1 Tbsp chia seeds

1 frozen banana

1 scoop Amazing Grass wheatgrass powder

 2 handfuls spinach (or kale)

   Blend together in blender

 

  (I forgot to include the Amazing Grass Wheatgrass powder in both the photo and my smoothie this morning, oops! think I got a lil excited about taking the photo)

   I love this smoothie because it energizes you for your run as well as hydrates you for your run!   The coconut water in it is amazing for both before and after your run because it is a natural electrolyte.  Ever since I discovered coconut water I can never go back to those sugar filled sports drinks like gatorade or propel.  Also chia seeds are hydrating and packed with protein!  They also thicken smoothies up (and any other type of liquid) if you let it sit in the fridge for about 15 minutes.  The maca also adds a big bang of energy!! Woohoo!!

  Check out what I saw on while out on my run…

       A MINI HORSE!!!  Just walking down the sidewalk with a child on it Lol

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