Breakfast of Champions

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I went to a cafe that advertised breakfast anytime, so I ordered French Toast during the Rennaisance.” –Stephen Write

As we all know, breakfast is really good for you. It wakes you up, breaks the hunger from when you are sleeping (thus breaking the fast), and it boosts your metabolism. But what is a vegan suppose to do at breakfast? Most breakfast foods now a days are not vegan friendly. Sure, you could get the vegan bacon that tastes like cardboard or the sausage that resembles a hockey puck (I have had good versions but most are sub par, mind you) or even do a tofu scramble which is a poor substitute for eggs. But what about soup?

Tons of Asian countries have vegan friendly breakfast options that most people are not familiar with. A few of my top favorites are Congee, a rice porridge from china; Nabe; a Japanese breakfast soup; Miso, another Japanese soup; and Golden Milk; a thick Indian drink. There are plenty of others, but what I have been doing lately for breakfast is just making a quick vegan veggie soup in the morning. Sometimes even in the microwave if I don’t have much time in the morning. All you need is some hot water, a miso packet or vegan bullion cube, a few greens and mushrooms or veggies of choice and BAM! Breakfast is served. It’s warm, healthy, and easy.

If you want something crunchy or toothsome then make a piece or 2 of toast from some local bread. I really like Jewish Rye because it has a lower glycemic index and it also has lots of flavor. Plus it tastes really good when you dip it in the broth. Maybe it’s just me, but I always feel better when I have something warm for breakfast and it makes me feel alive again. So, next time you don’t know what to make in the mornings, try some soup along with your morning cup of coffee or tea. Namaste

Where to Eat in Chapel Hill (411 West)

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“Non tutte le ciambelle riescono col buco. (translation) Not all donuts come with a hole.” –Italian Saying

Looking for some yummy Italian food while on Franklin Street? 411 West is probably your best bet if you are looking for atmosphere and great service. We ended up stumbling upon this lovely gem because Butternut Squash (vegetarian) and Lime and Basil (Vietnamese) were both closed. The odds of both of those places not being open made me a bit upset, however I am not complaining in the least bit. I normally don’t eat Italian food because I have been a bit spoiled with having friends that are from Napoli, Italy and them knowing how to make authentic food from scratch. I am sorry, but Olive Garden just doesn’t cut it.

I will say, this place did make quite an impression on me. First off, the decor and the indoor patio/garden room are amazing, not to mention romantic. I really enjoyed the lighting because it was quite a warm day so it ALMOST felt like we were eating outside, but without all the bugs and pollen. They brought us out bread and butter (in which I did not partake in the butter) and I had awesome sparkling water with lime while Bryce had the in house made citriusaid, which was quite tasty! They had a fantastic wine list as well and we both had a glass of the Malbec which had been recently added. I really liked the fact that they gave details about each of the wines on the list so you could get a feel for what you’re getting before you order it.

I started off with a wood-grilled pear salad. Can you say amazing? Local mixed greens with grilled pears, walnuts and in house made balsamic dressing. It was suppose to come with gorgonzola but I opted out of having cheese (of course). It was probably the best damn salad I have had in a good while. For my entree I had the roasted wild mushrooms over a polenta cake with hazelnut-butter and rosemary. Yes, it was vegan and yes, it was fricken tasty! The meatiness of the mushrooms was so rich and it melded to well with the creaminess of the polenta. I need to learn how to make that…it was that good. I didn’t get to taste Bryce’s dish because it wasn’t vegan, but from what I could tell it was a small version of a handmade personal pizza with a flaky crust. It looked quite yummy.

I did cheat a bit and had dessert which wasn’t vegan, but we ordered the dessert sampler so I only had a bite or 2 of each thing. I didn’t get sick either afterwards probably for that very reason. I think they didn’t have that much dairy in them to begin with…but no dairy for awhile. It included the key lime pie, millionaire’s pie, chocolate gelato, and creme brulee. They were all decent, but I am still fond of vegan desserts more so. They did have sherbet though so I will be having that next time to satisfy my sweet tooth. In short though, if you want a restaurantthat appeases both carnivores and herbivores alike, this is a safe bet.

We went during lunch, but from what I have gathered the place is popping at night and is a great place to go for Sunday brunch. So next time you get a pasta craving, go here. I hope you all enjoy and Namaste! (more pics of the food below)

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Diet changes

So you remember how I started out wanting to do this whole “vegan diet” for a month and then change into a macrobiotic diet? Well I have had some thoughts on all of this and I have decided to extend my veganism for a good while. Yes, I have decided to stay vegan. YAY!!!! All you veg heads out there can cheer and be super happy now.

However, there is one thing I will go ahead and say. I AM NOT GOING TO BE PERFECT!!!!! There are days when I am going to want to have a delicious juicy cheese burger (cruelty free, local and organic please) and I might give into my cravings. This does not mean I am a horrible vegan and will be punished by the vegan gods or PETA is going to shun and attack me.

I come from a mindset of if you are going to eat the animal make sure it is local, organic, and cruelty free and by god eat the whole damn thing! I am a very strong supporter of Nose to Tail cooking. It makes sense. It is wasteful not to cook the entire animal and use all of it to make something. Tan the hide and make a coat or pair of shoes, use the bones as fertilizer once all the marrow is out of it, use all the meat and stuff to feed your families and know that it was a happy animal when you got it from your local farmer. You are supporting your community people!!!

Also, there are times when I can not avoid eating things like dairy or eggs. Not many places here in NC, or the South in general, cook without butter, cheese, yogurt, eggs, ect. That is okay.  So if I have a little goat cheese on my salad that was from a local source  I am not going to freak out. I will take pleasure in the once in a blue moon treat. I’ll do my best to avoid it, but I am not going to be like, “Oh, well there is nothing vegan here so I will just eat nothing.” Skipping meals is more detrimental to my health and yours than having to suck it up and deal with a little butter.

I have also found out through this experiment that dairy and me are not friends…at least conventional dairy. Highly processed hormone injected monster cow milk is not healthy. Raw milk from local places on the other hand is. Why? Flash pasteurization kills all the good stuff in the milk and denatures the proteins so that it makes you have all this gunk in your throat. That’s why it also leaches calcium from your bones. People always say “Oh well what about the bacteria in the milk!!!” You know why their is bacteria in the milk? Because those cows at the conventional farm are being pumped full of hormones, milked to death, constantly becoming pregnant so they keep making milk, and becoming sick because of it. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound awesome to me. Also, a little bit of dirt isn’t going to kill you, it builds your immune system. So IF I have dairy at all (which is going to be very rare to begin with), I will be using that. Same goes with eggs. Local, farm raised eggs are much better for you than the ones you get at the local grocery store (plus they taste delicious).

So there is my rant and how I feel about food. I am not going to be the “Super Natzi Vegan” that everyone fears and throws paint on fur coats. I am coming from a place of compassion and understanding. I am willing to talk about my experiences, share my story and inspire others to live a more plant based lifestyle. I am not going to flip out on someone for ordering a steak in front of me either. Fighting fire with fire brings war and destruction, only love can bring peace. I also recommend the book “The Kind Diet” for people interested in the way I am eating. It is a wonderful book and has changed my perspective on veganisim as a whole. Best part is I read it last year around this time and I still remember a lot of it. It also comes with really tasty recipes. 🙂

Also, I will be posting my “update” tomorrow since it is the last day of January so i can give my thoughts on how this whole thing feels. I will also be making a poetic post to make up for Sunday probably tomorrow or Friday. I am also going on a trip to Connecticut next week from Wednesday-Sunday. I will be making regular posts during my trip so stay tuned. I hope you all enjoy and Namaste!

Satus Report Week 2

One of the many meals I cooked this week

One of the many meals I cooked this week

So it is the end of week 2 on my quest to becoming vegan. I did accomplish cooking more than I did last week and moving a bit more so mission accomplished. I am feeling pretty good about all this stuff. I am getting the hang of what I can and can not eat, resisting the urge for sweets and having it be replaced with savory cravings, I have slept better (most nights, minus the road trip), and I have even lost 2 more lbs!

Yep, I am now at the lovely weight of 130 and I have 5-10 more to go! I am shocked at how quickly this has worked in that department. I feel lighter, my clothes fit better and other people have started to notice too! For example, I had this pair of jeans that was always tighter than the rest of the ones I wore…for what ever reason it didn’t have the stretch in it as much as the others even though its the same brand. I tried them on and low and behold, they fit better! Still not as awesome as they could be but I could really tell a difference.

As far as my skin goes…well its a bit ick at the moment, but it usually happens once a month because of hormones. It is not as bad as it normally is so that is a relief in itself! Still not as itchy either. Dark circles are about the same as last week but I think that is for the lack of a proper sleep schedule. I am thinking a revamp in my facial stuff is a good idea.

So as far as the food goes; brussle sprouts, spinach, mushrooms and rice has become my best friends. I tend to put them in everything, I even have them for breakfast sometimes! :O I also love beats! So yummy and versatile! I am thinking of adding a juice only day to my plan though, so I can have it be my reboot day. Sunday would probably work out the best for that, but it might end up as another day so we shall see. I am also thinking of making Chai seed pudding so stay tuned!

So here is my goals for this week:

  1. keep exercising and trying to move more
  2. revamp my facial and body products for more natural/ organic solutions
  3. add in a juice only reboot day
  4. cook even more this week
  5. Get more sleep and set up a regular sleep schedule.

We shall see how this week goes…after last nights dream about BBQ and not eating it I am not sure whether to be scared or proud of myself! I hope you all enjoy and Namaste!

“People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

 

Eating Vegan on the Road

Vegan Indian food in DC

Vegan Indian food in DC

So this is what I had at the restaurant Rasika. The server was very helpful and told me everything I could have on the menu and even said they would modify some of the dishes if I chose to have them instead. He was kind, caring, courteous, and above all helpful. Needless to say, if you pick a restaurant in DC then go there and not just because of the service, but for the food too!

We had a chickpea pattie with onions and tomato chutney on top for our appetizer,along with some Truffle Naan (yes, it had truffle oil in it. It was delicious!!!). Then for our entree we had an eggplant and potato stew in a tomato sauce, some pan fried okra with mango powder and then a vegetable rice. It all was fantastic! The okra was my favorite part besides the naan. Also the presentation was divine!

So, besides this meal, I also ate on the road. Now, as most of us know, fast food usually means meat along with grease and fat and other nasty stuff. BUT…you can eat vegan on the road if you try. I packed snacks so I wasn’t as tempted to eat fast food. Gogi berries, seaweed chips, fruit, and small veggies and all great to take with you. Not to mention home made trail mix! But, if you have to eat a big meal, then here are a few pointers.

  1. If you aren’t sure what is in it, then just ask. If you don’t ask, then you don’t know. Most restaurants have a nutrition chart and list of ingredients that are in their food now. So it is better to eat at sit down places because you have more options, but fast food chains will do what they can with what they got. French Fries are usually a safe bet.
  2. A salad isn’t always safe. Again, you have to read what is in it. You can ask for no cheese and make sure your dressing doesn’t have anything in it that is dairy or egg based. If you need a bit of flavor, then vinegar or lemon juice makes a great dressing.
  3. Mexican food is your friend. Most burrito places and even taco bell have a bean option and you can just ask for no cheese and load up on the veggies. Just make sure they don’t use re-fried beans. It’s filling, healthy and quite yummy.
  4. Plan ahead. Snack foods are great and having a sandwich in the car just in case is always better than going hungry. It is also easier on the wallet.
  5. Did I mention read your labels? I can not stress enough all the gross things that come in most packaged food. milk powders, egg derivatives, loads of sugar and salt, ect. Most local gas stations aren’t going to carry natural products, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

So, those are my tips and tricks for you. I hope this helps out some of you. 🙂 Enjoy!

The Meaning of Classical Art

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“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.”― Leonardo da Vinci

 

So, being able to see artistic work by some of the absolute greatest artists of all time was so moving to me. I could have stayed in that museum for hours and would not have cared one bit. Monet, Van Gough, Toulouse Lautrec, Renoir, Degas, Cezanne, Cassatt, Picasso, Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli,  Titian, Bellini, Lippi, and so many more. To be able to see every emotion and detail and not be moved is just asinine. Not to mention the gilded work from the Byzantine period. Or even the mosaics that were plopped into the  floor as if it was nothing.

So, the artists accomplished exactly what they were suppose to do. They moved me, created emotion, left me breathless, amazed and astounded me, made me study their work, and left me with a memory I will never forget. The original plan for this road trip was to go and see a Lichtenstein exhibit.  It was one of the last days we could go and see it before it was moved to a different location. Now, I like pop art, but it is no where near the shock value of classical art. I could not see any brushstrokes in Botticelli’s work. It literally looked like he took a buffer and made everything the same texture and evenness. Compare that to a painting of a hotdog or Donald duck… it’s just not the same. Those pieces are so old and valuable…that was the oldest damn thing I have ever stood in front of!

Needless to say it was the best day ever. I can die happy now, my life is complete. I will NEVER forget that day as long as I live. I did also take some mindfulness from this experience. Too often in life do we try and stick to the plan and stay on track. Not to deviate or let things stand in the way. But, sometimes it is best to get off track, slow down and just smell the roses (or oil paints in this case). Surprises are all around you, don’t be too busy to take them in or appreciate them. Appreciate your surroundings and put love into all that you do. Life is truly amazing.

Another cool thing that I did was get to see an albino squirrel in the wild (if you consider city is “the wild”), have some awesome Indian food, walk around DC and take in some of the sites and learn a lot from a really good friend. Life is full of wonders and taking it all in is just wonderful. I will be planning to go back hopefully next month at some point for a full weekend and not just a day. It will be amazing. 🙂 But for now, I will enjoy my art high and be content in my memories. Namaste!

ROAD TRIP!!!!

The after affect of seeing beautiful classic art.  <3

The after affect of seeing beautiful classic art. ❤

So I went on Road Trip to Washington DC yesterday. Because of that (and the lack of a proper tablet device like an ipad) I was not able to post. I apologize for the inconvenience. However, I do have photos and such that I have uploaded here on my facebook: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.589824711035037.161885.100000225393483&type=1&l=e24cc85e12

I will be posting later today about how the artwork actually made me feel (life long dream accomplished and yes, I did cry) and then tomorrow I will be putting another installment about eating vegan on the road. I know it plagues a lot of people who try to eat healthy, let alone have special diet needs, when traveling. So, for now please check out my pictures and leave a comment or 2. I hope you all enjoy and stay tuned!

Do not tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have traveled–Mohammed