Monthly Archive: August 2011

Plan B

This overnight concoction tasted just like a peanut butter and jelly Larabar. 

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While I never really cared much for the whole oats-in-a-jar phenom that rocked the blog world circa 2010, I also can’t stand waste. 

Fact: the best way to get every last lick of peanut butter is use the nearly empty jar as a vessel for overnight oats.

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I added in oats, maple syrup, apricots, and almond milk, then topped it off with almonds, cashews & dried cranberries.

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The next morning is was super gooey. 

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After breakfast I caught up on blogging, watched the US Open, and went for a run. 

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Geez, I get it, you’re organic!  My afternoon was snack-tastic, but nothing was extraordinary.  I started with apples with coconut butter.  There was a long parade of things that followed but I couldn’t be bothered to photograph them all. 

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I know there were almonds and watermelon in there though.

Later on Kyle got home (so early!!) so we took the opportunity to get a few errands done together.  We went to the Promenade to shop, stopped by the bank to change the name on my cards (finally), and eventually made our way over to the NEW Tender Greens for dinner. 

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Or not.  Sunday was supposed to be their grand opening, but clearly they weren’t ready yet. 

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I took a peek inside to check on the status and it seems like it may still be a few more weeks :(  I’m so ready for this place to open!!  I realize I’m not that far from the Culver City location, but this one is within walking distance from our apartment. 

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Plastic wrap.  Paint cans.  Stray furniture.  You don’t have to have tuned into an HGTV marathon to know that Tender Greens is still more of a construction zone than a restaurant. 

Luckily, our plan B restaurant was only a few blocks away. 

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Planet Raw has been on the to-try list for a LONG time. 

I love raw food when it’s well done, but there’s really no gray area.  It’s either outstanding or blah. 

Kyle’s wishy washy on raw food because he doesn’t always leave feeling satisfied.  It has less to do with the fact that the food is uncooked, and more to do with the serving sizes.  His one (and only) dining experience at Pure Food & Wine is to blame due to the tiny portions.  He also detests zucchini which is a very common ingredient in raw food.  But still, he remains open minded. 

And so we got our raw on.

We started with the Spring Rolls.  They had avocado, kelp noodles, cabbage and Thai herbs in a coconut wrapper with a no-peanut sauce

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OH. MY. WORD.  I can’t tell you how this knocked my socks off. 

Taste buds <— blown away.  The no-peanut sauce could have been made from baby tears and I still wouldn’t have stopped eating it.  It was SO good.  The coconut wrapper was like a savory fruit roll up.  It was complex and my mouth didn’t know what to make of it, but I definitely loved it.  Texture wise it was like a hearty (less sticky) fruit roll up, but the flavor was salty/savory.  It complimented the crunchy veggie insides perfectly.  I could go on and on, but words mean nothing.  You can’t understand it until you try it. 

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For Kyle’s main course, he chose the Taco Salad with fresh avocado, heirloom salsa, cashew sour cream, crispy flax chips and ground mushroom taco nutmeat.  He was a big fan and agreed with me that the sauces were fantastic.  He finished off every bite except for the beets.  Not sure why.

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For my entree, I got the Sundried Tomato Cheeze Wrap with collard greens, nutcheese, avocado, onions and sun dried tomatoes.  I was having a hard time choosing between two options, but I was completely sold when I found out the nut cheese was made with cashews and the wraps were layered in both seaweed AND collards.

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I know it’s blurry, but check out that saucy sauce!

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The ratios of dressing to salad and sauce to wrap were perfect – not too doused but deliciously oozing nonetheless. 

Serving size, perfect.  Belly, happy.

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At the end of our meal, an older couple was seated next to us…clearly very unfamiliar with raw food.  I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on their conversation (I’m not nosy, the tables are quite close).  I was delighted at how patient and helpful the waitress was.  They told her they had never tried raw food before and asked for her advice.  She guided them beautifully, without an air of condescension or superiority (even as they asked questions like “is the food fattening?” and “what kinds of fish do you have?”).  And they seemed very satisfied with both their orders and the raw food concept. 

Tips for diners new (or not) to veganism or raw food:

  • tell the server you are new to the restaurant/diet (they probably get this all the time, so don’t be embarrassed)
  • ask for suggestions (they know the menu best and they probably know what meals will best please new-to-raw palates)
  • ask questions about the menu (I asked what nut was used in almost every sauce/puree/paste/etc. and Kyle asked if there was zucchini in every “pasta” dish)
  • communicate what you typically like in your food (if you’re a spicy person, tell them so)

I was SO pleased with my meal at Planet Raw.  For a backup restaurant, it certainly blew my mind.  Hands down, top five favorite meals in LA.  I loved every single saucy bite, I wanted to slurp the plate clean.  I most definitely need their cookbook (which has 250+ pages of recipes) for the nut based dressings alone.  I can’t describe how flavorful this meal was!

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On the way home, we stopped for dessert at Interim Cafe, but we saw flies in the dessert case.  Ummm, that’s a no-go.  But (as per the sign in the photo) I had cookies on the brain…and wound up eating quite a few as I prepped for the work week. 

When was the last time your Plan B surpassed your Plan A expectations?

Have you ever dined at a raw restaurant?  Tips/advice?

Seven minute strata

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I made this on a whim because I had veggies on their last legs and part of a package of tofu.  Traditionally, you make strata with eggs and cheese and you bake it in the oven (here’s my mom’s recipe for a goat cheese, mushroom and asparagus strata).  But here’s a vegan version that’s fast and microwaveable.

Vegan Veggie Strata

Ingredients:

  • leftover sautéed zucchini and squash
  • 3-4 de-stemmed leaves of kale
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 2 slices of bread
  • 10 oz (~3/4 package) silken tofu
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • optional: spices to your preference (garlic, onion, paprika, cayenne pepper, etc.)

Directions:  Add veggies to the bakeware.

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You could really use any vegetables you have on hand (cauliflower, squash, mushrooms, asparagus, etc.) just be aware of how quickly they cook.  Squash will obviously need more time to cook (as compared to mushrooms), so either pre-cook them or chop them into smaller sizes.

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Because my squash and zucchini were already cooked (from this meal), I wasn’t worried about the various vegetables’ cooking times.  I just made sure the broccoli florets were on the smaller side and added the kale raw, knowing it would soften up once cooked.

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Next I ripped up pieces of bread and added them to throughout.  You could also sub in potatoes or yams for this ingredients.  Those would also make the recipe gluten free.

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In a blender, combine almond milk and apple cider vinegar.  Let them sit for a few minutes to curdle (sounds gross, but I promise it’s not).  This creates a vegan buttermilk of sorts.  Then add the tofu and Bragg’s and pulse them all together.

You could use any non-dairy milk in place of almond milk, and you could sub soy sauce for Bragg’s.

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After I blended the liquids, I poured it over the veg and popped it in the micro for 5 minutes.  After the first five, I observed the status and did another two.  Seven minute strata!

Totally yummy.  And probably one of the easiest recipes on the planet.

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I’m a fan of clean food, so I didn’t add anything else, but I think adding various spices could really excite the palate.

Where it all began

On the anniversary of our first year of marriage, Kyle and I took a stroll down memory lane…

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To our alma mater, where it all began. 

I’ve shared the abbreviated story of how Kyle and I met and started dating on the blog before, but for my newer readers, it was our on-campus job that brought us together. 

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From there it was an unnecessarily complicated course…due to my own disbelief that he was in fact as wonderful as he seemed [turns out, he was is]. 

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Dear 20-something ladies,

Keep your heads up and hearts open, because in a sea of douche bag college boys, occasionally a wonderful, kind, and caring guy will come along.  I promise!  So don’t give up hope.  Or worse, stand in your own way (like I almost nearly did).  I know it’s hard once you’ve been burned by a relationship gone south, but always give love the benefit of the doubt.  That said, make him work a little, too…you’re worth it.  ;)

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Kyle and I “dated” on and off for a full year before making it official.  It was a year full of sorority date parties, Spanish study sessions, and campus work shifts – all spent flirting shamelessly – but that’s as far as it went.  Not Kyle’s favorites as far as memories go.  Having been screwed over by loser(s), I wasn’t ready for a relationship.  It only takes one idiot male to ruin it for the rest, right?  Plus, I was a senior (he was a sophomore), and I wasn’t thinking straight. 

Thanks to the support of our friends and Kyle’s persistence, we eventually became a real couple.  It was the perfect ending to a long and exhausting summer courtship.  Within weeks, I realized our love was undeniable.  We just…fit. 

Unfortunately, this was right before he went abroad to Madrid.  Not great timing on our part. 

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I visited him in Spain and we had the time of our lives; and when he came back to school in the winter, we picked up right where we left off. 

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At that point I had graduated (pre-med with no intention of going to medical school) and was working part-time at the hospital while taking nursing school pre-reqs.  The next two years were amazing and it was clear that we were meant to be. 

Me and Kyle wine tasting

Between 2006 and 2007 we went through a lot of (location) changes, but our relationship never suffered.  Kyle graduated and took a job in San Francisco, while I started nursing school in Philly.  Goodbye LA!

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Long distance was hard and it wasn’t.  I missed him terribly, but we were both so so busy.  It was almost easier to continue and pursue our dreams apart because of how focused each of us was.  Career advancement aside, we always put our relationship first, which is how we made it through living so far apart.  That same year, Kyle’s group in SF dissolved and he was offered a position in NYC.  I was close to finishing nursing school and even though I had planned on starting my life as as RN in California, there was an excitement to NYC that made us say “What the hell!?  Let’s go for it.” 

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And so we did.  Kyle moved to New York in April of 2007 and I joined him as soon as I graduated. 

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And the rest is history…

Now back to this weekend. 

Like I said, we decided to take a stroll through campus on our anniversary.  For nostalgia’s sake.

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Of course we had to stop by our old “office”.  :)

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It may be cheesy, but it was nice to reminisce on the past and think back to the early days of our relationship.  And that’s how we celebrated year number one. 

Westside Native

On Sunday I broke my coffee-free streak.

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USVAB almond milk, Wholesome Sweetener organic vanilla agave, cinnamon.

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Artisana makes the best nutbutter, but it also happens to be the most $$$.  Once this coconut butter is gone (which will be very soon), I will be making my own only.  No room in this hippie’s budget for jars of something I can make on my own for a fraction of the price.  No matter how delicious and convenient it is to purchase.

After digesting, I went for a short run, made shorter due to the weather.  It was HOT!  Also, the Santa Monica stairs were super crowded.

I generally try to to avoid this popular work-out spot on the weekends, but I forgot that it was a Sunday (and regretted it once I saw how many people were there).  Oh well.  I did one climb up and ran back home to take the coldest shower ever.  Felt so good.

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Kyle and I headed into Westwood for lunch.  We are both very familiar with our former college town…having lived there throughout our undergrad years.

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Native Foods Cafe is one of Westwood’s vegan treasures.  I’ve been to this location before, but never blogged about it.  I have reviewed the Palm Springs location (twice) as well as the Costa Mesa one though.

In my opinion, Chef Tanya does a great job of making vegan meals for all ranges of diets…from those who are high raw to those who dabble in the plant-based world to meat eaters (like my husband).

Kyle and I both got seasonal specials and we both loved our selections.

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He ordered the Portobello and Sausage burger with “juicy grilled portobellos, homemade Native Sausage Seitan, caramelized onions, salsa pomodoro, sweet roasted garlic, creamy pumpkin seed pesto and mayo.”

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The “sausage” seitan looked just like Field Roast “meat”, which I love.  Kyle seemed to enjoy the burger a lot.  On a scale of plate cleaning to finger licking, it was on the finger licking end.  No shame.

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I hemmed and hawed over two kale dishes, and in the end went with the Sesame Kale Macro Bowl.

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The menu describes the dish as “Chef Tanya’s tempeh atop steamed kale, brown rice, creamy ginger sesame sauce, tangy sauerkraut, gomasio and toasted sesame seeds.  Green onion garnish and crunchy cucumber seaweed salad on the side.”

Mine actually had quinoa underneath, which was fine with me, since I prefer it to brown rice.

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Quite the presentation!

I don’t think I’ve ever had sauerkraut before – I really liked it!  The tempeh was nice and nutty, and even though it did have a slightly bitter aftertaste, it was still great.  I think I’m the only one who detects this flavor in tempeh anyway…everyone else (Kyle included) seems to love it.  I do too…when I don’t prepare it myself…which is why I almost always order tempeh when I go to restaurants that offer it.  Native Foods’ tempeh based burgers are better at masking the bite (I loooove the scorpion burger).  But I’ve ordered it twice and I am really trying to branch out.  Rather than re-order the same thing over and over again, I got the macro bowl.

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It was what I craved, so it was what I got…grains & greens (and protein, oh my!).

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Definitely a great choice.

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After we finished eating we wandered around on campus.

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Of all the people to run into on campus, we saw Ethel who was showing her cousins around.  So random!

It’s especially fitting that we saw her on our anniversary since she was one of our biggest relationship cheerleaders.  She was there when we first met (she also worked at the same on-campus job) and championed our getting together from that first day on.

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After I got a Kombucha from the student store, we peaced out.  Being a Sunday, we decided to get some weekend errands done, so we hit up Costco.

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Unpictured: obscene amounts of hummus and toilet paper.

Both are equal in terms of necessity in my life.  And I’m serious when I say that.

We made use of some of our latest groceries for dinner.

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Potatoes.

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Green bizzles.

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Field Roast smoked apple sage “sausage”.

There was team work in the preparation.  I did roasted the potatoes and steamed the green beans, while Kyle BBQ-ed the sausage.

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Olive oil + salt + paprika + 35 minutes on 375.

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The trick to timing roasted potatoes has to do with the size of the chunks.  If you’re in a hurry hungry, cut the potatoes into smaller pieces and they will be ready faster.  I often use the broiler for the last minute to get them extra brown and crispy.

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Perfect.

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These were simply steamed and salted.  Nada mas.

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Dinner is served.

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I had two rounds of dinner…and then two rounds of cookies.

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The bottom of the cookie jar is FINALLY in view.

If you missed it, here’s the Tropical Tradition oat giveaway winner.

When did you last visit your college campus or town?

Who gained 5 pounds

Drum roll please…

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Comment #3 –

Greta August 27, 2011 at 3:41 am
Hmmm. Since I eat oats for breakfast almost every day, it probably wouldn’t take me that long. A couple of months, perhaps? Maybe three? And then I’m not even counting baking with them… Well, maybe two, then.

Congrats Greta! You just gained five pounds.  In a good way. 

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I hope there’s lots of granola and oatmeal making in your future!  Email me your address so I can get your oats on their way!