Monthly Archive: April 2011

Luxxe Friday

This week has been truly perfect.  Much needed after last week’s sh!t storm of crazy.  Friday couldn’t have been a more amazing end to the week either.

Kyle has Fridays off, so we both got to sleep in.  Brilliant start already.  Then we found out his waffle company made it to the finals – open to the public (on May 26th) if you want to attend.  Winner gets investors and money and a bunch of press, so this is HUGE. 

While Kyle had a quick conference call I went on a short run (showered); and then we were off!

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Caffe Luxxe is VERY close to our apartment, and although Kyle has been a few times, I had still never tried the famous Bella Tazza.

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Yummmmm.

We both got soy lattes

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They were delicious. 

This is a semi-random thought, but why do places still charge extra for soy milk?  There’s no way it costs more than regular milk.  It’s just silly.  Maybe at one time soy milk wasn’t as common and restaurants/cafes had to pay more for it, but that can’t be the case now.  It’s an antiquated rule.  Dear coffee shops of the world, please stop charging extra for soy milk, it’s discriminatory, and you are punishing price gauging people who are unable to tolerate dairy (and/or those who like vanilla deliciousness).

But back to Caffe Luxxe.

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After polishing off our cafe, we went for a stroll…down to the beach, up towards Malibu, back down to the Santa Monica Pier, to the Promenade for shopping bathrooms, and then back home for lunch.

Confession: We live across the street from a vegan cafe and we have NEVER been.

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I feel like a failure admitting that, but I’m glad I got it off my chest.  Anyway, we finally hit up Golden Mean vegan cafe.  What took us so long?  I really don’t know.  Maybe I was afraid I’d love it and I’d never cook myself a vegan meal again?  Maybe it’s because Huckleberry is a block away (and that’s Kyle’s fave restaurant).  Who knows.  I have no good excuse. 

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But now we are both big fans. 

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Kyle got the vegan “Chicken” Parmigiana with breaded (soy) chicken served with ancient grain penne pasta in tomato sauce, topped with Daiya soy-free cheese, and served with mixed green salad.  He finished the whole thing so clearly he enjoyed it.  And he said it kept him full until dinner. 

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I chose the Golden Ratio salad with mixed greens, marinated tempeh, kale, quinoa, red bell peppers, butternut squash, and candied walnuts with a Dijon vinaigrette dressing.

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MEGA yum.  I seem to like tempeh ONLY when it’s prepared by others.  I really can’t figure out why, but whenever I attempt to make tempeh, it’s just not pleasing to my palate.  Whatever.  It just means I order it at almost every opportunity I get and therefore enjoy it immensely.  [Side note: Kyle likes my preparation of tempeh, so I think it’s just me]

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The tempeh in this salad was perfect.  Flavorful, crunchy, nutty, and not at all bitter.  Also, the butternut squash and candied walnuts made texture variation in each bite.  It was so good. 

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I had a (thick) slice of my home-made bread with hummus on the side. 

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As requested I will do a step-by-step post about the breadmaking process next time I make a loaf. 

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Wheaty.  :)

After lunchy, we did some errands (Costco, what whaaat) and then my home-girl picked me up for a girls night at her casa. 

We started with wine and bruschetta

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Almost everything was from TJs, including the fresh bread, except for the Garlic Gold EVOO.  We chose to omit fresh garlic because the oil is already infused with garlic goodness. 

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Drizzle bread with EVOO and toast in the oven for 15-20 minutes on 425. 

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Chop and mix tomato, basil, EVOO, salt and pepper.

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Once bread is crisp and golden, add a few drops of balsamic and then top with bruschetta.

I’ll be honest here, I didn’t have my hands in much of the appetizer prep.  Instead, I watched Ethel do most of the work while sipping my wine.  :)  It was good to just chat and catch up with my girls. 

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For dinner we made mini-pizzas with various toppings, including:

  • Follow Your Heart vegan cheese
  • fresh mozzarella
  • hummus
  • tomatoes
  • bell peppers
  • mushrooms
  • salami
  • whole wheat naan

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Rather than use flatbread we chose the whole wheat naan because it looked so soft and fluffy.  In the end, it was a perfectly doughy base for the naan-pizzas. 

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Hummus and cheese options.

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Veg-errific.

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I brought over the above vegan cheese for the lactose-intolerant foodies.  Follow Your Heart makes a few different vegan gourmet cheeses, but I figured the “nacho” flavor would be the best for pizzas. 

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I’m somewhat suspicious of faux products that try to imitate their non-vegan versions.  So I went into the “cheese” tasting as a skeptic (my girlfriends were similarly cautious). 

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Appearance?  Not great.  Flavor?  Pretty good, actually!  Meltability?  Fail.

As I was slicing the vegan cheese we all tasted it and decided it had a distinct pimiento flavor.  Alene likened it to an olive loaf, but I’m not sure what that is.  Here’s the thing.  It’s been over a decade since I’ve had real cheese, so I don’t have much of a flavor memory to go on.  That said, the agar-like consistency was very un-cheese-like. If you forget that it’s supposed to replace cheese and just enjoy it as it’s own product, it’s pretty good.

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Mine is the middle one, with hummus, nacho “cheese,” bell peppers, tomatoes, and mushrooms.

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Pretty yummy looking, huh? 

We made two trays of three with six pizzas total.

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Things to note in the above photo:

(a) very utilized wine opener (yeah buddy)

(b) how pasty Ethel makes Alene look (lucky Filipina)

(c) Alene’s compost bin (love!)

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After they were all dressed up and ready for the party, we popped them in the oven for ~15 minutes.

While they cooked, the difference between the fake and real cheese became very obvious. 

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Alene showed off her Krav muscles as she removed the pizzas from the oven. 

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See how the cheeses differ in meltability? 

I really wasn’t too concerned.  As fun as stringy melted cheese is, the havoc it wreaks on my GI tract is not worth it.  Don’t get me wrong though, it’s not like eating Follow Your Heart’s cheese is some sacrifice.  It was yummy and I enjoyed every last bite. 

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I snapped a photo of the first plate of pizzas (plus another piece of bruschetta), but no more pictures after that. 

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, I had such a fun night.  It was the ultimate Friday. 

Easter reflections

Last year I don’t know what I was doing on Easter, but it was likely something indoors and snow avoidant.  This year I was hoping for a more cheery holiday.

Not quite what I got.  Let me rephrase: not at ALL what I got.

It took me a while to write this because I think I was (am) still in shock about the whole thing, even days after Easter Sunday.  What I do remember is feeling like I was having an out of body experience.  At several points I thought is this really happening?  Like, is this really what is going on right now?  But even writing that feels wrong, because it implies there was enough time to reflect in the moment about the situation.  I know I will never be able to piece it together in entirety because the morning was a total whirlwind.  I couldn’t even recap it if I tried.  It’s just a huge blur that culminated in police invading my patient’s room like storm troopers. 

Deep breath.

I won’t go into details (what’s the point, no charges were pressed, but still, it’s not necessary), but I will simply say that I was very supported by all the hospital (and police) staff.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), one of the measures taken to protect me was transferring me to another unit for the rest of my shift.  And so that is how I found myself starting from scratch with a whole new patient load just before noon. 

You win some, you lose some. 

Happy Easter.

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Here is what I had to satisfy my appetite while I celebrated worked through the holiday.

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Commute munching mix of Three Sisters cereal, Love Grown granola, raisins, almonds, carob chips

Pre-work fruit with mango, strawberries, and tangerines.

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Work breakfast of oats with raisins and cinnamon

Afternoon snacks of candied ginger and gala apple.

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Lunch salad with spinach, steamed broccoli, and a vegan Boca burger – topped in ketchup, mustard, and BBQ sauce.  [Don’t think I’m weird, it’s yummy]

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Snackage on stand-by was Haig roasted red pepper hummus and two slices of Alvarado Street sprouted bread (this time I got the California Style for those wondering).  By the by, I’m now thinking Haig’s is totally my favorite flavored hummus.  Sabra’s original is still my #1 lovah, but Haig’s roasted red pepper has a tangy kick that tastes so good!  Usual it’s the creaminess of hummus that ropes me in, but this is good for entirely different reasons.  And it’s made in SF.  Local pride, yo! 

[Edited to add: I just checked and it appears last year wasn’t too snowy.  Shockingly.] 

Maiden loaf

There’s nothing like a new food appliance to get you excited and inspired in the kitchen.

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After years of ooing and aahing over home-made breads, I finally made the plunge and got what I was lusting after. 

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I did a fair amount of research prior to buying one.  I wanted a reliable machine, but I didn’t wanna blow my bank account on some fancy schmancy professional breadmaker.  I’m not going on Top Chef any time soon after all.

And so I settled on the Sunbeam 2 lb. Breadmaker – model 5981. 

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My maiden loaf was baking within hours of opening the box.  And it was the simplest thing EVER. 

I didn’t even need to go to the store for ingredients, I had all (6) ingredients on hand.  Not too surprising considering it only required water, butter (Earth Balance), sugar (coconut sugar), salt, whole wheat flour, and yeast. 

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Voila!

Vegan whole wheat bread. 

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Toasted with peanut butter.  Mmmmmelty. 

My first bread making experience couldn’t have been more simple.  Or more delicious.  I’m not kidding.  Any idiot could make perfect loaves of bread with this machine.  I’m in love.

Intuition

You may have noticed that I took some time off from blogging this week.  Many people turn to rules and the likes to get back on track, but I prefer the opposite.  Personally, I equate rules with restrictions, and I’m not ok with that.  If that works for you, great.  For me, it’s just unhealthy.  Instead, I go the opposite route, listening (and I mean, really paying attention) to my body for guidance.  I think that being an intuitive eater is extra difficult if you have a food blog because it just increases the amount of time in the day you are thinking about meals.  Blogging is not my full time job, so it’s unnatural for it to consume my every thought, and sometimes I forget that.  Hence, the mini hiatus from HHH.  The past few days have served as a much needed break, reminding me that life is more than a series of meals (shocking, I know).  So rather than revolving around food, my days have been free for other things (more “normal” things – like Gossip Girl walks around the neighb with Kyle).  As a result, the amount of time in the day I think about food has decreased tremendously, allowing me to really hone in on my cravings in the moment (and not several hours leading up to eating).  You see, blogging also adds pressure to meal time in terms of recipe variety.  Since I’m taking the time to photograph and share my food with you all, I feel obligated to make something new and interesting each and every day.  That’s hard enough to do when I’m feeling inspired, but sometimes I just want the same thing for dinner 5 nights in a row.  And that’s why I’ve been using the down time to do simply that.  Eat what I want, when I want.

Intuitive eating.

For some it’s as natural as breathing.  For others, like me, it’s more difficult.

Lately I’ve been getting fairly frequent emails from readers commending me for my ability to eat how I do – disregarding the ridiculous FDA approved portion sizes and such.  Flattering as that is, I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea about how easy this is for me.

The truth of the matter is: I still struggle with the same issues that 99% of the females in this country also struggle with.

The fact that (a) I have IBS, (b) I’m a food blogger, and (c) I exercise with regularity, means I’m hyperaware of how diet fits into my life.  And for the record, being hyperaware is not a fun way to live.  So to any readers looking to me for guidance on being a carefree eater, please know it’s not as easy as it looks/sounds.  I still have voices in my head that I’m constantly [CONSTANTLY] having to push away.  And ignoring the noise is no small task.  I’d love to blame the media, but I know the factors I listed above are also the main reasons I’m so neurotic analytical with my diet.

IBS is why I eat the way I do and what led to blogging in the first place.

Sharing my vegan meals with others and getting feedback is what keeps me inspired to continue.

Fitness just happens to be a hobby.

And due to all of these things, there is a great deal of consideration that goes into my food choices.  I just want to make sure it’s not TOO MUCH consideration.  So if you think I’m living the sweet life without a worry in the world, it’s not that simple.  I’ve worked hard to drown out the noise (the “should” and “shouldn’t” phrases).  Being an intuitive eater is an uphill climb for me; some days I’m rock solid, while other days I need to work at it.

So yeah, that’s all I wanted to say.  I’m human, I’m still a work in progress…and not living in cruise control, yet.

Here are some (food) highlights from the past few days (in no particular order).

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What does intuitive eating mean for you?  Are you good at it (does it come naturally, or do you have to work at it)?

For me, intuitive eating is listening to my body for cues on when and what to eat.  It means ignoring the clock and the times I think I “should” eat, and simply eating as much (or as little) as I want, when I want it.  Obviously, this has some limits – I don’t consider it a free for all.  The point is not to binge or restrict (buzz words be damned), it’s to be in tune with what I really and truly want, and then having it.  In the same vein, intuitive eating also means sensing when I’m satisfied using the same method (listening to my body) and then stopping.  Because I’m full, not because I should be full or want to be done.  It sounds simple, I know.  But it requires me to be present more than I typically am.  It also means I have to accept the fact that some days I’m more hungry than others.  Additionally, some days my body wants food earlier in the day, and some days I don’t seem to get hungry until later on.  I’m a person, not a robot, so I have to treat my body like the complex system that it is, and if that means eating breakfast at 7 am one day and 11 am the next, then so be it.  Routines can be dangerous because over time they can start to become so habitual that you are afraid to branch out.  Change should not be feared.  Intuitively, I think we all know this, but sometimes we just need a reminder.

Who nabbed Nana’s?

I have a new favorite cookie by the way.

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[Yes, I know I already revealed that’s how I feel about every single one of Nana’s cookies, but this time I may be telling the truth]

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The chocolate crunch flavor has a sinfully delicious rich chocolate flavor with the crunch of rice crispies mixed in.  It’s fantastic. 

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Anyway.  Aside from the cookie food porn, I’m only popping in to announce the winner of the Nana’s giveaway.

I really enjoyed reading everyone’s cute cookie memories.  And other drool inducing comments. 

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As for the randomly generated winner…congrats to Kaleigh who tweeted “@elisehippie and @NanasCookieCo Tweeting for the hungryhungryhippie/Nana’s cookie giveaway! Lovin’ this blog!”

Email me your address and also let me know if you’re gluten free so I can get your Nana’s cookies on the way!