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

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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

Van Gogh Roses

“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!

Status Report

What I look like after 1 week of going vegan

What I look like after 1 week of going vegan

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.–Ernest Hemingway

So, I promised a status report and here you go! This is Day 8 of my vegan adventure and so far so good. I have gone through the cravings and lived, started to sleep better and have been inspired to organize my environment. Not to mention the motivation to actually want to move around and exercise. I have also successfully cooked a few vegan meals this week, started meditating and last but not least I have lost 5 lbs.

Yes, I have lost 5 lbs which in a week is amazing. I have not really changed my routine much except for sleeping deeper, drinking a little more water and being vegan. My yoga routines have not been very strenuous so it is not like I am exerting more energy than normal either. My guess is some of it was water weight. I am not as puffy looking as I was and I don’t have the little extra pudge underneath my chin that plagues oh so many people.

My dark circles are also going away, my skin isn’t as itchy as it was, I have more energy and I am also calmer. The biggest thing I had to deal with was craving sugar and caffeine, as well as the smell of dairy products (grilled cheeses still smell amazing might I add). Thankfully fruit has helped alleviate this issue as well as cacao nibs with coconut milk. It’s a lot better for you than plain old hot chocolate and it tastes just as yummy I might add. As for cheese, well I have just had to grin and bare it.

This next week I am planning on cooking more, upping my exercise and yoga routine, and trying to go to bed earlier. Not to mention making meals ahead so I can take them with me to work so I don’t have to rely on peanut butter all the time. Oh, here is a note. DO NOT BUY NONDAIRY SPREAD FROM TRADER JOES!!!!! I really wanted cream cheese for bagels so I thought it was a good idea…no. It’s awful and tastes like watery sadness with a bitter taste. If you really need a cream cheese substitute, buy Tofuti. I know that it’s at my local Whole Foods and comes in a few flavors. My favorite is the onion.

Also, on another note, when you ask a server if you can get something made without butter or dairy in The South, you get very strange looks. I went out with a good friend of mine to a fairly nice restaurant here in Winston Salem. I ordered a portobello wrap and a side of sweet potato fries. I asked them to not use butter with the veggies and not to add cheese. The waiter got a glazed look on his face, then our food took forever for it to come out and then to top it all off, they brought me a big blob of butter on my plate to go with my fries. WHO IN GODS NAME WANTS CINNAMON BUTTER ON SWEET POTATO FRIES?!?!?! And at the very end, he even asked if I wanted dessert. I was quite irritated. Needless to say I will not be eating there again. This is why I like Mediterranean and Asian food. I do not have to worry about butter for the most part.

So, that is what is up for now, I will have another status report next week. I hope you all enjoy and namaste!

The Vegan Supper

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So, in short I love to cook. It is one of my favorite things to do, especially when I get to cook for others. The way their faces light up when they eat the goodies I have made just makes me beam with joy and thankfulness. However, with becoming vegan it has been interesting when it comes to food. The normal things I would reach for on a daily basis are now off limits. Cheese in salads to give it that extra kick, cream in soups to make it velvety, some bacon to go with the collard greens to make them smoky, you get the idea.

This is the first vegan meal I have really cooked in awhile. I have been too busy to really “cook” this week so I have just picked up things at local places and made salads. Tonight, however, I made something amazing! Stir-fried veggies with an orange turmeric sauce, black rice and coconut flakes. It was quite spicy, totally unintended but delicious. Most of my food has an Asian/ Indian inspiration to it. I cook lots of different dishes, but most of the time I am making Thai or something along those lines.

I also don’t really follow recipes unless I have to. This was one of those “hmmm, what do i have in my kitchen” kind of days and I am quite pleased with myself. So, here is the “recipe” if you would like to try it out.

  1. Chop up a cup or 2 of preferred vegetables of choice. In a pan on medium heat, toss vegetables in a tbsp of oil of choice and cook for a few mins.
  2. Squeeze the juice of one orange into pan, add a pinch of turmeric powder, 2 dashes of Hungarian paprika, and add salt and pepper to taste. Then add in a pinch of sugar (or sweetener of choice) and a tbsp of soy sauce (or liquid aminos, that’s what i used). cook till tender and sauce has reduced.
  3. In another pan, cook your gain of choice with a little sesame oil, salt and pepper till done (Quinoa would be great as well if you aren’t a fan of rice).
  4. Place a serving of grains in bowl as well as your stir-fry on top. Top with coconut flakes or another nut of choice. Then eat!

Simple as pie. 🙂 I used cucumber, spinach, tomatoes and mushrooms. You could also add a little seaweed here for extra yumminess! Be creative, enjoy cooking your food as much as you would eating it. After all, love is always the secret ingredient. That’s why grandmas food always tastes so good! I hope you all enjoy and are inspired to be contagious in your cooking. Enjoy!

Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship. –Buddha

Thoughts on being vegan

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So, as part of my list of New Years Resolutions for 2013, I have decided to challenge myself and become vegan for all of the month of January. The response I have got from friends, family and random strangers have been varied. There has defiantly been concern, teasing, support and down right hatred. People don’t really understand what I am doing or why I am doing this, even if I explain it. So, to clear the air, I shall explain my actions and possibly debunk a few “myths” in the process.

Being vegan means not consuming meat and animal products (eggs and dairy). Think of it like extreme vegetarianism. That being explained, I am sure a lot of you are baffled at this life style choice. The reason I have chose to do this is because I am an absolute foodie. I love all things delicious, and yes, that does include meat and animal products. I have done many experiments with food and my diet over the past few years, and I have found when I eat more fruits and veggies and less meat/ animal products, the better I feel.

That is from my own personal experience. I do realize that there are a lot of people out there who can not be vegan because of their body and its needs. Mine craves more veggies, yours might crave steak and that is very OK. However, this is indeed a challenge for me. I have cut out red meat and poultry for the most part in my diet before this. If I ate meat, it usually was fish or sea food, with the occasional piece of bacon here and there. I love eggs but my biggest issue was milk products. Me and milk don’t get along very well. I don’t drink milk really either, unless i have no other option with coffee and such. Cheese, on the other hand, was my guilty pleasure. Give me a good high quality cheese, some bread and red wine and I was on cloud nine! It was hard not to indulge…

I also have a HUGE sweet tooth. I love anything dessert, especially chocolate. It was practically impossible for me not to indulge! So, with all the food loving, my body started to not feel so hot. I have gained a few lbs, but that isn’t the main issue. I feel tired a lot, I have been craving coffee more often, I get sick more than I use to, I break out at least once a month (if not more), I would get sick with eating certain foods, irritability, mood swings, not being able to concentrate, loss of sleep, being anxious…the list goes on! So, in the words of Socrates “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.” I figured it couldn’t hurt.

So this is a test of my will power, and also a detox for my body. I figured if my body is not happy, then lets take away some of the main food offenders and see if it improves. No, this does not mean I am going to just load up on tofu. I try to avoid tofu if at all possible, unless its organic or fermented soy products. Reasons? I hate Monsanto and all things associated with it. It boggles my mind what they do to plants. Why do I want a giant tomato that tastes like cardboard and is spliced with genes from a flounder? That is not natural at all! It also decreases the nutrients in food. The biggest offenders for GMO’s are Corn, Soy, and Dairy (plus others, but this is what pertains to me in this case). Sadly, most products in conventional grocery stores and chain restaurants do contain GMO’s. It’s rather sad. So, no soy latte for me thank you!

“But Michelle, if you don’t eat tofu then what do you eat? How do you get enough protein? You will be malnourished! Veggies don’t have protein!” And so the charlatans speak! What has been feed to us through media, school, and various other things as “healthy” Is a load of…well bull shit to be blunt. Vegetables do have protein, it is just different from animal protein and it is easier for your body to digest. Animal protein takes a long time for your body to break it down, while plant based protein is easily absorbed into your body. 1 serving of Kale has almost 3 times the amount of protein than an egg. Also, whole grains has protein in it as well. So, if I have a serving of brown rice, a side of sauteed mushrooms and kale with almonds on top then I have loads of protein right there. Myth Debunked!

Also, on the malnutrition bit, the key to being healthy is varying your diet. Eating the same things over and over again not only leads to boredom, but also nutrient deficiencies. Many people are what you would call “rut eaters”. This means getting stuck in a pattern of what you eat all the time. This is why the body starts to crave things like soda, salt, sweets, carbs and so on. Usually if you have a craving, your body is sending you a signal saying “HEY! I NEED THESE NUTRIENTS ASAP!” and instead of listening to them, most of us just give it more junk. This is the product of “quick fix” culture and “convenience foods”. So for a healthy body, feed it lots of different things.

Well that’s enough of me soap boxing on health for now, back to my explanation. So, this is to help build my willpower, detox my body and find a whole new love for all things vegetable! After January is over, I will be adding things back in. I will be eating what you would call a macrobiotic diet. Mostly fruits and vegetables, loads of whole grains, beans and legumes, some fish and eggs here and there and minimal amounts of dairy and junk foods. So yes, I can still have my red wine and cheese, it will just be a special treat. As I continue this blog, I will be reporting on how I feel, trials and tribulations, improvements and such. It will be interesting to say the least.

So, that is all for now! once this week is over, I shall have a status report! Take care!