Monthly Archive: July 2010

Seattle continued: Sisters and Skewers

Top of the mornin’ evening to ya!  Day two of our Seattle adventures started with more java loading from The ‘Bucks. 

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Tall for me, grande for my beau.  How cute is it that Kyle’s drink of choice now is a soy misto?

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After a liquid kick in the pants, we decided to get ed-ju-ma-cated on the history of Seattle.  Creeping through the depths of downtown worked up quite an appetite. 

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Lunch time!

Initially we had our sights set on an African place called Pan Africa Restaurant on 1st Ave.  We browsed the menu when we passed by the day before and it had several vegan options that all sounded so tasty.  Plus, I’m always intrigued by different cuisines that I’ve never tried before.  Unfortunately the place was (is) closed on Mondays, so that was a bust.

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Instead, we made our way back to Post Alley (it’s just around the corner) and settled on Sisters European Snacks.  The Pike’s Place area definitely isn’t lacking in good food!

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Look at those shelves!  Dried noodles, beans, grains, and spices – oh my! 

It was really difficult to choose between a sandwich and salad.  I hate when I want multiple items on a menu.  Grrrr…so frustrating!  Despite the fact that they had several items on the menu that caught my eye, in the end, it was Sisters’ deliciously famous focaccia bread that sealed the deal.  I just couldn’t turn down the fluffy carb-a-licious goodness. 

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In the end, Kyle and I both got (different) sammies which came with side salads tossed in a simple oil and vinegar.  The salads were a perfect accompanying crunch.  Not too complicated, just a nice crisp to contrast the grilled sandwich.

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Before Kyle started in on his sandwich though, he prepped his tum with a bowl of soup.  Yes, it was a million and one degrees outside, and yet he still wanted the soup of the day – a tomato based vegetable soup with cheese ravioli.  The heart wants what the heart wants stomach wants what the stomach wants, I guess.  It looked pretty good, but the focaccia was all I was focused on.

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I ordered a combination of the Nasruddin (hummus, baked eggplant, olive paste, roma tomato) and the Gesundheit (sun-dried tomato, cream cheese, roma tomato, sprouts, avocado).  Can you guess which ingredients I got?

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Hummus, tomatoes, avocado, and sprouts.  Duh :)  It was everything I had hoped for and more. 

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And look at that focaccia!  Oh baby!  It was hot off the press – sprinkled with fresh yummy herbs.  Like a party for my taste buds – heyo.   

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I didn’t leave a crumb behind. 

We explored more of Seattle the rest of the day, leisurely strolling from one ‘hood to the next.  The bottom of my feet were black by 4 pm.  It was pretty gross. 

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Random side note: while visiting Starbucks store #4 of the day, I discovered a new favorite iced bevie.  1/2 green tea + 1/2 passion tea = pure yum

Back at the hotel gym I squeezed in 20 minutes of cardio on the elliptical before showering and heading off to dinner. 

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Wild Ginger was all over the foodie websites when I was doing my pre-trip dining research.  Not only were there pages and pages of good reviews (the Zagat doesn’t lie people), but they have an entirely vegetarian menu too. 

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#1 Restaurant in the Pacific Northwest for 11 consecutive years is no small feat.  Ladies and gents, we have a winner! 

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I ordered a pot of matcha tea to start because my stomach was being a little iffy and it did just the trick!  Matcha is my new IBS drug of choice I think.  The only down side is I drank the entire pot and was peeing every 30 minutes for the entire night. 

And then the feasting began.

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We started with VIETNAMESE BUDDHA VEGETABLE ROLLS which came with a pineapple dipping sauce on the side.  I know it looks like butter, but it was definitely not.  The rolls were stuffed with veggies and glass noodles and tasted perfectly fresh and crunchy.  And the pineapple sauce was so delicious when added to the rolls.  I basically submerged each bite in the sauce for a minute or so before eating it. 

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When dining at Asian restaurants are you a chopstick or fork person?  I’m all about the chopsticks…I wish it occurred to me use them more at home.  I have really nice ones, so I have no excuse; plus they are fun to eat with. 

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Or in Kyle’s case, perform surgery with…

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You already know most of my food quirks, but I bet you didn’t know this about Kyle.  He doesn’t eat cucumber.  Or pickles.  Or anything in the zucchini family.  And there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.  He’s quite dexterous with his chopsticks as a result.  He’d probably dominate at Operation

Another random tidbit (I’m full of them today, huh?) that you may or may not have known is that my grandpa was Japanese (past tense because he is deceased).  To be honest though, my chopstick skillz are not the result of any of his teaching, but rather learning by my own trial-and-error method as a young thang.  Anyone else remember using chopsticks for Asian cuisine from childhood?  Ok, back on topic.

After our rolls were gone, our entrees arrived. 

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Kyle got the special, which was some sort of white fish over a green mango salad.  We also each got rice with our meals…I’m sure you can guess which was mine and which was his.

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Unlike my better more decisive half, it took me a decade to choose what to order because everything on the menu sounded awesome.  In the end though, I decided to break away from the curry direction I was leaning towards and go down a road less travelled (but equally beloved). 

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And that would be satay.  If you aren’t familiar with satay, it’s a Thai dish in which food (usually meat, but in this case non-meat) is skewered and grilled with a marinade of spices.  This one was served with an orange-teriyaki dipping sauce, which I could have slurped down all by itself.  For the skewers, I had the option of choosing as many skewers as I wanted of ZUCCHINI, EGGPLANT, SPICED TOFU, SHIITAKE MUSHROOM, and/or PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM. 

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I went with two tofu skewers, one zucchini, and one shiitake mushroom.  On the side was a pickled cucumber salad and a turmeric sticky rice cake

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If someone held a gun to my head and asked me what my favorite part of my dinner was, I still don’t think I could come up with an answer.  It was all TOO FRICKIN’ GOOD. 

The turmeric rice cakes were so chewy and moist, it was like a savory ball of carby goodness.  I wanted 8 more of them…and with the satay sauce…oh geez.  I’m getting hot and bothered just thinking about it now.

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But then I remember the tofu skewers and I forget all about the rice cakes.  The tofu was crispy on the outside with bubbles of blackened spicy char while the inside was warm and simply melted in my mouth.  It was 100% the perfect satay.

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This was the first of my 4 plates.  Yes, I finished the brown rice.  Yes, I finished all the skewers.  And yes, I finished every side dish.  I was very full.  No complaints…just sayin’ ;)

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Kyle still made room for dessert though.  No surprise there.  But then, flourless chocolate cake can make you do silly things. 

Entering Emerald City

Seattle, Seattle, where to begin?!?  Too much good stuff. 

There’s no way I could fit everything in one post – and why would I want to?  No sense in glossing over the sweet eats and fun times. 

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Soooo, now that I’m back in the Bay Area and doing mostly wedding shiz, I’ll spare you all and skip the boring non-blogworthy crap (you’re welcome), and instead share my vacation in Seattle post by post!  Sound good?  Great!

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We arrived Sunday afternoon, fueled by Starbucks coffee.  The drive wasn’t too bad and navigating the city was fairly easy too, aside from the steep hills.  Once we had checked into our hotel and unloaded our 20 pieces of luggage (including a soccer ball, flat of apples, electric guitar, 5 suitcases and much much more), we explored the surrounding downtown area (Pioneer Square). 

By then it was lunch time, and we found ourselves at the Pike Place market.

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Fresh local produce and the first ever Starbucks…it’s like I went to heaven.  I sampled sampled sampled to my hearts content, and don’t think I even came close to trying 5% of the farm fresh fare.  It was almost too much for me to process.  So happy!!

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Pomegranate, apricots, and several varieties of plums. 

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Carrots, beets, and turnips.

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Greens and the siren (oh how she called to me…).

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White and yellow cauliflower.

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The most beautiful cabbage ever.

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There was just no end to it…rows and rows of glorious produce.

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Thyme, sage, oregano, spearmint, chives, etc. 

I wanted to buy this entire cluster of planters, but something tells me the commute back to CA wouldn’t have been easy on them.  I can’t wait to get my own herb garden once we move into our new apartment!!!  Our balcony has a planter on it’s ledge and I’m constantly brainstorming which herbs I want to grow in it.  Ideas are welcome!

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Anyways, we snacked our way through the afternoon, explored the water front area, wandered through Post Alley, and eventually made it to the Space Needle.

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Post Alley parallels the market and has restaurants, shops, and cafes hidden away.  It also has the famous (?) gum wall. 

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It’s a little gross and a little cool.

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Nobody can say Seattle is lacking in it’s uniqueness.

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I love that everything is within walking distance in Seattle, which makes the area so accessible.  Homeless people aside, I found it to be very friendly with a fun vibe.  They also have a decent public transportation system, including a bus route that’s free within the downtown area. 

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We found our way to the Space Needle with ease and up we went!

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Lake Union

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Seattle and Mt. Rainier

After soaking up the views, we headed back to the Pike Place market area for dinner at Steelhead Diner

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We had seen this place while dilly-dallying around earlier in the day and decided it looked good.  It was gorgeous weather so we sat outside.

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We started with bread and wine.

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There were two whole grain pieces and two cheesy pieces.  I hardly got one piece before Kyle had dominated his way through the other three.

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It was super yummy, full of flax seeds and other grainy deliciousness. 

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Then my Sparkling Riesling arrived.  I’m such a light-weight, I was drunk by the time our entrees arrived. 

Kyle got the daily special which was a SALMON dish. 

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He was mmmmm-ing through the entire meal, so it must have been good.

Despite the numerous veg options on the menu, I was in the mood for fish.  My order actually shocked me as well as Kyle…but the fish entrees sounded amazing, so I just went with it.  The weird part is, I rarely read non-vegan items on the menu, and my eyes just made their way there.  Bizarre.  I can’t even explain myself, so I’ll just stop and show you my dinner.

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This was the KASU MARINATED OREGON BLACK COD with Sautéed Shiitake Mushrooms, Baby Bok Choy & Carrot Ginger Salad.  I did ensure that there was no butter or dairy in the broth before ordering it, but otherwise I was pretty much flying by the seat of my pants in terms of expectations.

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Let me tell you something.  This was one of the best meals I’ve had in a very long time.  Fresh caught fish makes a world of difference.  It practically melted in my mouth, and I savored each and every morsel.  Sorry Eric Ripert, but this was actually better than the $$$$ dish I had at Le Bernardin.

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After dinner, we took a stroll and found our way at The 5 Point Cafe, a dingy bar that is so ghetto small it hardly deserves blog time (it wasn’t a completely random choices though, Kyle has some kind of history with the joint).

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The only notable thing about this P.O.S. bar is the fact that they have Bragg’s apple cider vinegar on the shelf.  But other than that, it was kinda your average hole-in-the-wall.  The chardonnay I ordered was so bad I couldn’t even finish. 

Once the sun began to set, we again made our way to the Space Needle.  We had purchased the day/night pass so it was time for the PM pics.

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Gorgeous no?

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Can you believe everything we managed to tackle in half a day?  The rest of our time in Seattle only got better and better, so stay tuned.  :)

Vegans in Vegas

I know I said what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas…

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BUT…

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…there was (slightly) more to my Bachelorette weekend than boozing and dancing.

And, by that, I’m referring to the food.

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So.  Now that I can look at the weekend’s photos without feeling nauseous, I feel it is my duty (as a blogger and a girl on a budget) to share with you all how to survive Vegas…without gaining 50 pounds from an all-you-can-eat buffet or losing $500 from pool side munchies.

I’m not making any such promises about the alcohol though.

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For the record, Smirnoff Ice is neither vegan nor tasty, especially at 8 am.

That said, getting “iced” before you even leave for the airport certainly gets you in the mood to P-A-R-T-Y!

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The above pic is only one of the reasons you should fly on Virgin.  Another reason?  They have a 70 pound weight limit on luggage…

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Do you know how much 10 bottles of champagne, 1 handle of Vodka, and a double air mattress weight?  Only 59 lbs.

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Do you know how much money BYOB saves you?  $$$$$

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And staying in a penthouse suite, with a kitchen bigger than my previous NYC apartment, doesn’t hurt either.

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Let the EtOH flow!

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Now that we’ve covered how to minimize the liquor bill, let’s move onto food.

Allow me to open with a little disclaimer.  My pre-trip research was minimal and my knowledge on the gourmet dining options in Sin City is far from extensive.  Our goal was to keep things cheap and vegan-friendly, so if you’re here looking for the vegan dishes offered at Fleur De Lys in Mandalay Bay, I assure you, this post is not going to be helpful.  We also were trying to keep things within walking distance.  So, if nothing else, this post will be economical.

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Caesar’s Palace has restaurants up the yin yang.  There’s Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, and Las Vegas’ only James Beard award winner, Bradley Ogden, as well as Michelin two star recipient Restaurant Guy Savoy.  But there’s also a nice little area called the Cypress Street Marketplace, that has several casual cafe-style dining options.  It’s perfect for large groups that want different cuisines.  Mediterranean, Chinese, Mexican, BBQ, salads, sandwiches, wraps, pizza…you name it, it’s there…and in the center of it all is a common dining area.

I went with a hummus and veggie wrap (minus the tzatziki and feta cheese)

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…and 4 beers.

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What!?  It was 2-for-the-price-of-1 :)  I’m no econ major, but I know a deal when I see one.

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Who wouldn’t get on board?

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I think my sis was sad she didn’t get more!

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Skipping straight ahead to the next morning…

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Things to note in the above photo:

  • Kirkland trail mix
  • Nalgene water bottle
  • Sour worms
  • Nail polish
  • Champagne

Classy?  Debatable.

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Other key items in hangover prevention survival: Mrs. May’s Trio bars, water, and Whole Foods’ catering.

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I really wish I had taken more photos of the platters, but I wasn’t in the best shape.  You understand, right?

Here’s the important part.  Pay attention ok?

Whole Foods does not deliver.

Here’s the solution: www.anythinguwantdelivery.com

They are open 24 hours, and will pick up and drop off ANYTHING you want (there is a flat fee in addition to a percentage of the delivery cost, but it’s very reasonable).

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Being the crafty planners we are, we arranged for a delivery in advance.  We got the assorted bagel platter and a fruit platter.  Maybe we were a bit bold in having the delivery arrive at 9 am, but at least it got us up!

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We even got our dinner platters then (see below photos), which allowed us flexibility in planning around the rest of the day/night’s activities.

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We stored the platters in the fridge all day and as difficult as it was to not dig in throughout the afternoon, come dinner time, it was SUCH a relief.  Cheap and simple with no thought required (you have to remember, we were operating on very few brain cells at this point, so the more pre-planning, the better).

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Whole wheat/white pitas, sushi, grilled veggies, spinach salad, and the Mediterranean Dipping Platter.

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VN = vegan

VT = vegetarian

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Veggies anyone?

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Oh baby!  Hummus and pitas galore.

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In total, we had a feast big enough for our party…and 50 more.  Seriously, so much food.  Whole Foods’ catering platters are far bigger than they lead on.  I swear, they can do no wrong in my eyes.

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As for lunches, we went to the exact same place both days (creature of habit?).  We were staying at the Vdara in the new CityCenter, which was absolutely amazing (no smoking + no gaming = spa like vacation).  However, they didn’t have the best dining options.  The poolside eats were super pricey and the portions were TINY.  Fortunately, the CityCenter’s sister hotel, the Aria, has several casual restaurants.

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Cafe Vettro is open 24 hours on the Casino level of the Aria – and it serves good food with reasonable prices.  I ordered the Asian Chicken Salad (without the chicken) for lunch BOTH days we were in Vegas.  It was so good!  If it ‘aint broke, don’t fix it – right?

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I only wish I had taken pics of my meal [blogger fail].  My plate was piled high with tons and tons of veggies (edamame, bell peppers, celery, the works…).  Plus, the dressing was great and it was a very generous portion (they even gave me extra veggies since I cut the chicken).  I am rarely so pleased with salads that I don’t make myself, and I didn’t have the highest expectations with this one (I mean, it’s Vegas, not New York).  But I’m happy to report that this salad was 100% awesome.  The rest of my girls loved their dishes too, so it’s a crowd pleaser if you are in a big group.

Here are the dining options at various other casinos on the strip:

The Venetian

The Hard Rock

MGM Grand

The Bellagio

Flamingo

Caesar’s Palace

The Luxor

New York New York

Mandalay Bay

The Mirage

The Wynn

The Aria

Be sure to note, Las Vegas is not cheap, but there are tons of good options that don’t feature award-winning chefs.  Finding the middle ground between fine dining and buffets requires minimal work, but I suggest you do it while sober.  Hopefully the links above are helpful…and don’t forget to have fun!

The lost footage

My last two days in Lynden were borderline horrible.  Friday’s migraine sidelined me like a shot to the liver.  The worst is when you know it’s coming…and (unfortunately) I’m very familiar with the onset of migraines.  I used to get them all the time in high school – and I mean the whole she-bang – aura, nausea, pounding head.

So yeah, the I second the halo appeared, I knew I was in for it.  What I didn’t count on was being out for so long!  Bummer.  Thank you all for your advice and kind words.

In the midst of it all, Kyle and I left for Seattle, and so I have a bunch of random pictures than never made their way to a post.

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Which is sad when they are beauties like this!

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Kyle’s mom found this vegan chocolate & almond butter cupcake at their local co-op.  It was massive and had me utterly hypnotized with it’s decadent chocolate and almond buttery exterior.

I had half of it; and although it was good, it wasn’t quite as awesome as I was expecting (or as good as other vegan desserts I’ve had).  Not to be picky, but it was a bit dry.  I still ate it, but if I’m going to indulge in a rich nutty dessert, it better be a damn good one.  I’m a simple girl and a dessert in my opinion may even be an extra tub of hummus.  Or a few (dozen) medjools stuffed with nut butter.  You know?  Or maybe I’m just not a chocolate person…I do prefer carob.

Kyle had the second half and he thought it was so-so, but nothing to write home about.  He agreed that it was dry…and that’s coming from a chocolate lover.

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I bet if the almond butter had been woven throughout the cupcake it would have been more moist and delicious.  It’s quite a photogenic treat though :)

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There were also a few random fruit bowls full of apricots and a pound or two of grapes.

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It took the flat of apricots from Costco a while to ripen, but once they did, I was pounding them at an alarming rate.

In addition to the above sweets, there are a few random salad pics that I never had time to show:

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Snap peas and celery provide the perfect crunch in salads.  And bell peppers are just plain tasty.

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The “meat” in there is Quorn.  Oh, and by the way, eating that salad was virtually impossible because of how high I piled the ingredients.  I ended up transferring it into a bigger bowl.  Can’t have anything spilling out!

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Dave’s Killer Bread has mini-baguettes!  I know I’ve gone on and on and on about DKB’s delicious bread, but this was the first non-sandwich bread I tried.  Ok, that’s a lie.  I just remembered this cinnamon roll (that was so good it made it’s way into a few posts).

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Dave has such clever names for his bread too.  The above is called a Sin Dawg, and it tastes as sinfully delicious as it’s name implies.  The below is called a Peace Bomb.

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It is jam packed with seeds, nuts, and whole grains.  I had it plain, I had it with hummus, and I had it with fresh berry preserves.  There is no wrong way to eat this bread.

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It’s so fluffy and moist, with 5g of fiber, 8g of protein, and 480mg Omega-3s (ALA) in each serving.  But be sure to heed the warning: May cause overwhelming sense of peace, love, and happiness. Use of peace bomb around strangers may cause spontaneous friendliness, leading to good vibes and lifelong pals. Do not use if allergic to serenity, relaxation, and peace of mind.

Now that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

To round out this completely random post, I have one last dish that somehow dodged all my previous Washington posts.  I only realized this when I posted photos of the leftovers yesterday.

So here are the pictures of the OG dish (it was delicious and shouldn’t be slighted because I’m scatterbrained my computer eats jpg files without rhyme or reason).

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I made a hummus-y sauce to top a few pounds of steamed broccoli with dried cranberries.  Part garlic, part roasted red pepper hummus, part rice wine vinegar, and entirely delicious.

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I will definitely be repeating this “recipe” because it was such a surprise success.  Without even intending to, I made a topping that replicated a cheese sauce so closely, it was pretty shocking.  Sauce, broccoli, and cranz – that’s all.  A very simple dish that turned into new flavor combination that I never saw coming.  Non-dairy cheesy broccoli?  Why not!

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I had it alongside a massive avocado/bell pepper creation that somehow evaded the camera.  Hmmm…something fishy is going on with my computer.

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These past couple of days Kyle and I have been in Seattle having a total blast.  Expect posts filled with great eats to come!

Thrive

I’m going with a minimalist approach. 

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Inspired by the farm fresh produce of the area, the day centered around fruit.  Four courses of it to be exact.

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Pluots + pink ladies

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Ditto + raspberries

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Apple count thus far…four.

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Make that five.

Eventually I moved away from the fruit.  But I didn’t stray too far. 

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Produce how I love thee.

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Celery + carrots + avocado + leftovers (that I never posted on).

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Half an avocado can make dirt taste good.

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As you can see much of my recent eats (and musings) have been inspired by my latest read obsession.  Brendan Brazier has me hooked.

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My afternoon snack was another creation I made with the Thrive Diet in mind.  Plus a new product Kyle’s mom found me. 

Hemp bread + hummus + avocado =  :)

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Silver Hills Bakery’s Hemptation bread is a live sprouted bread, very similar to Ezekiel or Alvarado Street bread in taste and consistency.

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Not only is it delicious, but it’s also good for you.  And I mean really good for you.  I could go on and on about the benefits of hemp, especially for vegans, but too be honest, you should just buy his book and read about it for yourself.

I had it again for dinner.

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Toasted and then dressed up with a vegan Boca burger, tommies, a crunchy shaft of romaine, and all the best condiments.

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By that I mean BBQ sauce, naturally.

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You know what?  I’m veggie burger-ed out.  I want a home-made burger with nuts, grains, seeds, and vegetables.  I want a plant burger.

That didn’t stop me from having seconds though.

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I can’t get over how beautiful this hemp bread is when toasted!  And it has such a hearty flavor. 

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For some reason I was even more ambitious when I put this burger together.  I double stacked the tomato slices which made it slightly difficult to get into my mouth (twss).  I still got it down (twss).  :D

Despite the fact that the veggie burgers were cooked on the BBQ (that beats any other way to cook it without question), the bread was still the obvious star of the meal.  Sadly, this company is Canadian, so I have a feeling I won’t see these products again until I return to visit Kyle’s parents. 

This trip has been filled with such awesome meals – new recipes, new products, etc. – and now I’m starting to think this may have been their ploy all along to get us to stay…