Monthly Archive: December 2008

chaiwalla

Good morning from the west coast (aka the BEST coast)!!

I started the day off as any good day should begin, with caffeine in a fun mug. I kinda messed up the ratio of lactaid to coffee again (but sorta on purpose this time since it was so good yesterday). Btw, the combo of BOTH lactaid and vanilla silk soy milk is pretty amazing.

At about 11, I went on a walk around the Lafayette reservoir with my high school besties (plus the boyfriends). Since I have no car, Lauren picked me up and we met Elaine and her fiance, Dave at the reservoir for some “exercise” while catching up (the consensus was the loop is 3ish miles). It’s so fun to see all the people with their dogs walking the res. Lauren brought her guide puppy in training, so we felt included in the scene :) See him in the pic below (lying obediently) in the bottom right corner. L-town is pretty fabulous.

After our walk, we went to lunch at Chow, which is a pretty popular spot in Lafayette. Casual, simple American food – nothing too outside the box, but standard is good.

The vegan options were pretty non-existent

Kyle and I split the bowl of organic fruit to start, which had grapefruit, kiwi, blueberries, and apples.

Then I had the organic lettuces salad, with veggies and lemon-shallot vinaigrette. The salad was good, mostly because of the dressing, since the salad in and of itself wasn’t that thrilling. But, the bread on the side was soft and fresh and a great compliment to the salad.

Following that, I had a cup of the minestrone soup. The broth could have had a little more pizzaz, but I could tell the veggies in it were really fresh and those croutons on top were THE BEST! They were kinda toasted, but still soft enough to soak up the broth – yum! I only wish there had been more of those. They should make an entire dish of just soup soaked croutons (I’d buy it)! I used the bread on the side to soak up the soup, too, but it wasn’t quite as good as the croutons. After lunch, Elaine drove me home, and I got ready to head into San Francisco. I couldn’t believe how late it was! We didn’t get home until nearly 3, and our movie in SF was supposed to start at 5:50! Eek. I put a load of laundry in, and then Kyle and I walked to the bank (exciting, no?).
Anyways, my sister works/lives in SF, and she was getting off work at 5:30 so we had a hot date planned that I was pretty excited about. Dinner (vegan restaurant) and a movie!
I was lagging in a BIG way, so after we got into the city, we stopped so I could re-caffeinate. Starbucks, thank god. We were kinda speed walking, so I’m amazed the pic even came out. Short coffee with soy milk = heaven.

OMG! Slumdog Millionaire was THE best movie of the year, like, by far. Hands down, amazing. We all totally loved it. My sister is a movie fanatic, so her opinion isn’t too reliable (she bought Crossroads – enough said), but since me, Kyle, and my sister’s friend all agreed with her, it’s safe to say, universally, the movie was a huge hit!
After the movie we headed to dinner at Cha-Ya Japanese. Everything on the menu is vegan. I got the vegan roll (creative name, right?) which had spinach, atsuage tofu, cucumber, broccolini, pickled burdock, seasoned shiitake, kampyo gourd, and pickled ginger.

It was good, but the pieces were HUGE. I couldn’t fit the roll in my mouth in one bite (I know this because I tried to the first time and it took a good 4 minutes to chew and swallow). I liked the fresh veggies in it, and the tofu was good (but could have a bit more flavor).

The other roll I got was the special, which was wrapped in lettuce (crazy?!) with tofu, brown rice, and other veggies inside. This one was my fave. The warmth of the inside stuff with the crunchy lettuce was cool! To be fair though, I pretty much love all sushi, and anything and everything tastes good with soy sauce.
After dinner, we said goodbye to my sis, and K and I walked back to BART and took the train back to Lafayette. I can’t believe I leave tomorrow morning :( I’m so sad about how short the visit home was. I feel like the time just flew by! I miss my fam and friends…being so far away on the East coast sucks sometimes. Now I have to start mentally prepping myself for the below freezing weather…

“hey la my boyfriend’s back!”

I woke up bright and early and decided to play with my new camera. Here’s some shots of the backyard…
I love the sun beams coming through the trees behind the creek. I definitely miss having a yard (and space in general) in Manhattan, so it’s nice to go home and enjoy nature.

(Unpictured to the left) is the tire swing and the 2 bird feeders. The birds were ALL OVER them the entire time I was home…even the squirrels were having at it when the birds were away. It was pretty amusing watching them try to shimmy down the wire to balance while hanging from the feeder, too.
Back inside I got a nice frothy mug of coffee, although it was practically a latte since I messed up the ratio of coffee to “milk” (half lactaid, half silk plain soy milk)…I think I’ll need more caffeine later because this was tasty, but not the kick in the pants that I’m used to.
I was QUITE productive after the coffee…I dragged my sister off the couch (I gave her Twilight for x-mas and since then she and the book have been inseparable) and we headed out for some sissie bonding.

She was a sweetie and drove me to the DMV so I could get my CA driver’s license replaced (since my wallet got stolen in Europe last month). Stupid california makes you go IN PERSON to get a new ID card (lame)…but fortunately we went early enough that the line wasn’t too bad, and I had all the forms ready, so we were in and out in 30 mins. The down side was I had to take a new photo, which I was NOT prepared for…I’m a little nervous to see how it comes out since I thought they had taken the photo and started walking away, only to then have a flash go off mid-stride…hmmm. Never a good sign. Anyways, after the DMV we went and got mani/pedis. SO much cheaper than in NYC! Love it. Then we headed home for lunch.
I decided on a soup and sando combo (shocking I know).

Alfaro’s Cafe and Bakery is in Santa Cruz, and their bread is pretty amazing. I’ve heard good things about their sun dried tomato loaf before, so I was excited to try the 6 grain. There was even an end piece left for me :) SO thick and hearty with lots of seeds and grains that gave it a great flavor and texture.
I decided on an open faced grilled “cheese” with the cheddar veggie shreds.
Isn’t this snowman plate the cutest? As for my product review, the veggie cheese melted just like normal cheese and it totally tasted like normal cheese!! Granted it’s been years since I’ve had real cheese, but still…def a product I’ll get again.
I also had a can of TJ brand organic (vegan) split pea soup. It was pretty good, but it also tasted healthy. It didn’t have that sodium loaded (progresso) canned soup taste, but it was no Bruno’s soup. I’m spoiled!
I topped it off with some cheddar veggie shreds :)
I was in the mood for something warn after, so I made a mug of TJ Spiced Chai Tea.
This was WAY flavorful! My parents are so lucky to have a Trader Joe’s so close to them. Manhattan only has one so the line is always out of control!!

I’m trying to use only x-mas mugs while I’m home. I’m pretty envious of my parents’ coffee mug collection…can’t wait to have an apartment with space.
A little bit later I worked up the energy to get a run in. Gotta take advantage of the warm(er) outside weather while I have it, right? I did a different loop than my last run since (1) I had time and (2) it was the afternoon so I didn’t have to worry about the darkness. It was a GREAT run. I felt so invigorated throughout the entire thing and I was really sweating. It was between 4 and 5 miles – def felt like it was a good work out.
After I showered, I headed to the store for dinner ingreds…I also picked up an apple to snack on before I got things going in the kitchen.

My sister feeding the kitty cat. Think she’s hungry?

Notice the apple sticker I put on her back – hehe.

The wine was flowing as I got dinner under way…Cucao Chardonnay. Nice and light. Then Kyle arrived!!! Hooray! Now the holidays are perfect :)

On the menu was stir fry, brown rice and (chicken for the fam) and baked tofu for me.
In the stir fry: snow peas, brocc, red and orange peppers, water chestnuts, edamame, mushrooms, and sprouts (all organic and fresh). I sauteed them in sesame oil and water.

Here’s the baked tofu (I was lazy so I bought it already seasoned). I’ve never seen or heard of this brand before, I love going to new markets and discovering all these new products! It was honey sesame flavored and was GREAT! Not too strong and not overly salty like some prepackaged seasoned tofu can be. I’m going to have to find this in NYC.


My plate. YUM!

Here’s my mom’s plate (the chicken one)
Here’s me and K in front of the tree :)
Whew, what a long day. Gotta get some zzzz’s.

my REAL christmas

Thanks to the time zone changes, my circadian rhythm was totally messed up, so I was up early, while everyone else slept in…well, not everyone. My mom was in the kitchen already starting the cooking/baking/prep and one set of Aunt and Uncle were off for their AM walk. I sat in the kitchen with my mom and made myself a big mug of coffee.

My parents have the same froth machine as I do, so I made a nice perfectly foamy (and lactose free) coffee.

Then I got ready for company (since people were coming over before noon I figured pajamas weren’t quite fancy enough). Naturally, the second after I was dressed I was sent to the store for last minute groceries, followed by lots of chores in the kitchen. Check out the massive trays of root vegetables, including rutabaga, turnips, brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, and carrots.

My parents are hippies, so all leftover scraps (and I mean ALL leftover scraps) go into the compost bin, which sits prominently on the kitchen counter top. Literally every shaving of the rutabaga skin to banana peel to coffee grounds goes into the thing, so it was DEF due to be emptied after all the chopping and slicing and dicing for our x-mas meal.

Here’s one of the 2 bins that’s in the kitchen (it smells great).

Here’s my mom dumping it into the huge compost bin in the backyard. Yes, that swing set in the background is STILL there from when we were young! Churn it up a bit with the hand help hoe, and voila, you have your own “fresh” home-made fertilizer! Yes, green takes on a whole new meaning at our house…

Environmentally friendly. LOVE it!!

Some family shots:


Youngest sister, g-ma, me.

Bart and Uncle Matt.


Appetizer #1 (carrots, ginger snaps, and Trader Joe’s hummus). Sabra is still my fave hummus, but TJ’s is a close runner up.


Appetizer #2 (crackers and brie) – I didn’t have any of this one, although I did borrow a few of those whole wheat sesame seed crackers to dip in hummus.


Murphy Goode “Liar’s Dice” zin was the drink of choice for the night. Wine-o fam that we are, of course we had to have a zin with our own grapes :)
Middle sister pouring water for the grown up table.

The kids table.

Mom and youngest sister getting the potatoes out of the cauldron.

Middle sister pondering the most efficient way to fill the water pitcher.

The whole spread.

Stuffing! My portion was set aside separately, since it was made with veggie broth, rather than stuffed in the bird.


It did have walnuts :( but I managed to avoid most of them.
Mashed potatoes made with veggie broth and without any cream or butter. Yep, my family was on board with the vegan cooking (and my sisters are both lactose intolerant, too).

Btw, peels left on = way better taste AND quicker prep. Two thumbs up for no more potato peeling!


From top to bottom, bowl of weird flavored croutons for a salad I didn’t try, then wild rice with butternut squash, and finally the root vegetables (my FAVE).

Here’s my plate…mostly root veggies, a bit of cranberry jelly, mashed potatoes, wild rice/butternut squash, and vegan stuffing.


The wild rice with butternut squash was a new recipe, and I really really liked it. I never would have thought to use butternut squash like that, but it was so good. The cranberry sauce was as amazing as ever. I only like the Ocean Spray canned kind, ridges and all…nothing else compares, I don’t care how fake and sugary it tastes, it’s the best. The stuffing was good, but I was caught off guard with the walnuts. Everyone else loves them, though, so that’s a battle I’ll never win. Hands down, the best of the meal were the root vegetables. OMG, I just love ‘em. Sweet potatoes, turnips, and brussels, oh my! All they had on them was EVOO, salt and minced sage. Easy peasy!
Later we opened presents, had some coffee and busted out the desserts. There were no lactose free options really, so I went for round 2 of the root veggies.
On the late night I snacked on some Medjools.

These were GOOOEY

Of course family time, movies, and games kept me occupied the rest of the night. I can’t wait to play with my new toys tomorrow!

home for the holidays

Airport on my way home!! WTF were they thinking when they made the new terminal for JetBlue – no Starbucks?! I’m not a fan. They DO have all these new creative dining places though, with lots of potential options beyond fast food (which is nice), including salad and hot food bars. But still, at 7 am that is little consolation for the lack of soy for my coffee.

So I ended up going to Dunkin’ Donuts :( and ordering a small black coffee and a HUGE water. I’ve got a aisle seat, kids, no worries!

Here’s my bag of goodies for the plane…odwalla bar, apple, and music. I tried to fall asleep, but that was a no go, thanks to the rows of children (and the coffee). I have never looked at my watch so many times on a flight, my god, I was eager to get home. When I arrived the entire fam was there to pick me up (well all the girls at least). The ’95 van on it’s last legs was loaded with my mom, 2 sisters, grandma, and 2 aunts!!! We all drove into San Francisco to see my sister’s new apartment and then headed home.


My parentals hadn’t yet stocked up on the necessary vegan supplies, but they did have lactose free milk, so I dug into a big bowl of Life cereal. I was gonna do banana slices, but I was lazy.
I LOVE seeing the fam. I was so happy that my whole mom’s side was visiting from Southern CA, too. We played guitar hero on my sister’s Wii that she brought home with her, and I’m pretty sure I missed my calling. Drums, not so much, but the guitar, I was really in my element (if I do say so myself)!! After a few too many repeats of Michael Jackson, my sister and I headed to the store for the ingreds for TACO NIGHT!!! My fam does taco night right.

Here were some of the new products I got to try out (Cheddar Veggie Shreds and Yves Ground “meat”).

After the grocery shopping I decided to head out for a jog, since I was kinda going crazy after the flight. I hate sitting for such long periods of time, I just get all stir crazy. I also really wanted to take FULL advantage of being in an area with nice enough weather to run outside without losing a limb to frost bite. I have done the run to my elementary school a million times, so I wasn’t too concerned that it was dark out. What I didn’t take into account was being blinded by oncoming cars’ headlights. Such a frustrating run. I kept having to stop so I wouldn’t trip after the blaring lights of oncoming traffic. The route is only about 3 miles (round trip) but it took me practically 30 minutes to do it because of all the stopping and going. Still, it felt good to work up a sweat, and I was happy that I did it. After I showered it was time to open presents!
I got a new camera!!!!!!!! It is SO cute, and now I don’t have to steal Kyle’s! I’m so so excited. Oh, and I also got new slippers. What a perfect holiday!
So dinner was running a little late after all the festivities. But once my Dad got underway making taco shells, it was GO time. I was WAY ambitious in my taco making…I ended up just turning mine into a burrito (I opted for a sun dried tomato tortilla instead of the shells my Dad was frying in the veg oil). I should have gotten a side view since you can’t tell how much crap I heaped onto it. The not visible ingreds that are piled on top of each other are: veggie refried/pinto/black bean mixture, meatless ground “meat,” avo, salsa, veggie cheddar shreds, and then the lettuce and tomato.

All on a snowman plate :)
YUMMMM…so full. I couldn’t even roll the thing up! It was amazing. I heart being home. After dinner we all played apples to apples. Hilarious. I feel so cheesy, but I honestly couldn’t be any happier than being home with my family (ok, I take that back, Kyle arrives in a few days, so then it will be REALLY perfect).

packing, shopping, and going HOME!!!

Coffee #1 frothy soy misto.

Coffee #2 lactaid-y latte.

Everything in moderation, right?

Originally I was supposed to work today, but after the past 2 beyond boring days, I knew they could do without me, so I switched shifts and now I can do all my random errands before I go home (rather than waste precious time with the fam (finally) doing my x-mas shopping). I have been so anxious to get home!!! I really miss my family back in sunny CA. Even though I now have to work on the 1st, sleeping in today ALONE was worth it. Plus, New Years is time and a half – hey, extra $$ isn’t bad either!

After my coffee, I headed out to get my family x-mas shopping done. I have never been so behind in my holiday gift buying! Fortunately, the after-christmas sales were def working in my favor, and having a plan when I set out, kept the trip efficient. In & out with the perfect gifts in an hour flat. That’s my kind of shopping!

I was craving cereal, so on my way home I went to a different health foods store for some groceries. Carrying cereal in the apartment is a dangerous move, so whenever I want it, I head to this particular store because they have cereal in bins, so I can only get what I want, thus avoiding eating an entire box.

Genious!! I mixed together multigrain o’s, bran flakes, peanut butter puffins, multigrain chex, rice and bran puffs, and these cute little stars that I had never seen before.


Silkified bowl of cereal, to which I also added some cinnamon and raisins (which all sunk to the bottom to hide from the camera).

Later on I snacked on soy yog. I finally managed to get my hands on the chocolate O’soy flavor. Why are these yogurts never in stock? Stonyfield?!?
I went to the gym in the afternoon and did a mega workout. Feels SO good. I started with 40 minutes on the elliptical (levels 12-14) then switched to the tread mill (30 minutes). After that I went to the mat to stretch and do abs/arms, followed by a cool down on the elliptical for 5 mins. Sweaty times.
Cleaning, packing, cleaning, packing.
Dinner: I needed an Ezekiel english muffin. Yes, needed.

Toasted and hummus-ed, plus a GN veggie burger.

It was difficult to eat because of how thick it was. Don’t get me wrong, that statement was not a complaint, merely an observation. I love stuffing my face :)


I used the carrots and celery to slather on hummus between each bite of the veggie burger. Oh Sabra, how I love thee…

I finished the rest of these veggies with the hummus.

Round 1 (rounds 2, 3, and 4 are not pictured)

Dessert(s)

Raisins and dates.
Going home tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!