Monthly Archive: December 2011

Yay Area

I’ve managed to create my own personal Twelve Days of Christmas:

12 hours night shift-ing

6 miles bike riding

10 minutes showering

0 seconds sleeping

350 miles I-5-ing

2 stops for peeing

HOME SWEET HOME!

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We arrived to an empty house (family was out seeing the new Sherlock Holmes movie), but it still felt warm and home-y thanks to the decorations.

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I immediately raided my parents’ kitchen (as I do whenever I get home).

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It’s a hippie dream come true!

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The winner of all snacks?

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Trader Joe’s Iced Triple Ginger Biscotti

Hell to the yeah.  Three kinds of ginger in one treat?  Don’t mind if I do.

Despite being crazy exhausted, I still stayed up through the rest of the day…making the sleep : awake ratio of the last 3 days 6 : 72 hours.  Not great.

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For dinner we went to Tomatina, a cute pizza place in Walnut Creek that I’ve blogged about before

It’s insanely popular, which is why the wait was an hour long (even at 5:45!).  With time to kill we decided to swing by my sister’s apartment to show it to my Aunt.

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Her tree is decorated a bit differently from my parents’ with the Bud Light cans and the Stella bottle in place of a star.

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Eventually we headed back to Tomatina.  The wait was starting to take a toll on me as my eyes were drooping and I neared melt down status. 

Finally our buzzer went off and we were seated.  Naturally, we all already knew what we were ordering.

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Kyle started with a polenta dish, which was the night’s special.

I ordered a make-your-own pizza which first arrived covered in cheese.  Ummm, no.  After some ‘splainin’ I got a new order placed, but it was still quite a wait.  There’s nothing more painful than watching your entire family dig in to warm pizza while you sit, hungry & tired – just trying to keep your head up. 

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At last my personal pizza arrived, with spinach and tomatoes on a wheat crust.  I didn’t wanna make a huge fuss (again), so I ignored the absense of roasted red peppers and just ate.

It was so so, but from now on I’ll stick to the dish I usually order, the Hummus Piadine.

Now I’m soaking up my last few hours in Lafayette before Kyle and I drive up to Clearlake to ring in 2012!

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I’m a few batches of quinoa granola deep…so stay tuned for some yummy new breakfast recipes in the new year.

Who are you spending the 31st with?  Anywhere special?

A parrilla in espana

After covering Madrid on foot, you’d think I’d just want to pass out rest before dinner.  You’d be correct. 

Then my dad got inspired and somehow dragged me into checking out the hotel gym with him.  “Just to see it.”  One thing led to another and suddenly I was roped into a 5:30 pm workout date with my pops.  Damn.  I had totally come to peace with my exercise free vacay.  Sure I was slightly annoyed that I had wasted precious cargo space on my running shoes and other cardio gear, but I like being prepared for all scenarios.  My girl scout training (always be prepared) really backfired this time. 

So I was coerced into it (at first), but to be honest, 40 minutes of elliptical-ing felt pretty damn good.  I read a mag, listened to music, stared out at the rooftops of Madrid, and zoned out while doing some decent sweating.  Then I did some arms, abs, and stretching and called it a day week.

Back at the room I ghetto (sink) washed my clothes and hung them to dry before I showered myself. 

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Pretty soon it was time to get ready for pre-dinner drinks.

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We met A & E and walked over to the fancy schmancy Ritz (which was basically diagonal across the street from the Royal Palace).

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Holy pricey drink$!!!  WTF.  25 Euro for a cocktail?  Does that include dinner and a massage?  No thanks.  We took a photo and promptly left.  Sorry to any facebook peeps who wrongly assumed Ethel’s tag meant we were ballin’ it up at the Ritz. 

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We may have been staying at the Royal Palace, but we are far from rich.

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Instead we went to A & E’s hotel a few blocks around the corner from ours.  It had a bar and had (free?) tapas, too.  Way more reasonable.

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I got bubbles.  :)

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We discussed El Escorial and Paris plans and got excited for tennis.

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And we may have gotten a little tipsy too. 

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Good thing dinner was just a block away.  The lure of Argentinean fare at La Cabana sucked the carnivores in, but I had minimal options* and thus dug into the bread with vigor.

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*This is especially ironic having now been to Argentina and seeing how vegan friendly the city is.

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Dad browsed the Malbecs (typical) while we made our way to the back of the restaurant (hide the obnoxious Americans, stat!).

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The table setting was beautiful. 

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We got a bottle of Tempranillo for the table.  Emina Crianza 2007, Do Ribera Del Duero.  It was my fave of the trip.

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The olive oils also got two thumbs up from me with infused seasonings that were really good. 

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My mixed salad was a big dud but I got my dinning choice the previous night so I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) really complain. 

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My dad was really excited for his soup.  This pic makes me laugh a lot.

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Gazpacho.

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Carne.

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Ensalada.

We walked home and zonked out, sad that the next day was going to be our final one in Spain. 

Clean Food Cornbread (with a side of eggs)

Another Clean Food success story. 

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Since I was working on the 25th, Kyle made me Christmas dinner, which included Terry Walters’ skillet cornbread recipe.  He made it in a casserole dish instead, with a few changes, indicated below.

Clean Food Cornbread

  • 1/2 cup corn flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp powder egg replacer 1 whole egg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup rice milk almond milk
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 seeded, minced jalapeno (omitted)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, minced
  • 1 cup corn

In separate bowls combine dry and wet ingredients.  Mix the two together.  Pour into glass dish and bake at 375 for 25 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean).

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Half the dish was gone after our first dinner, and the rest only lasted 24 hours. 

The fresh corn and bell pepper were so good!  I bet sprinkling some Daiya (or another vegan cheese) on top for the last few minutes in the oven would make this recipe even more rich and heavenly, too. 

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Actually, it was pretty much outstanding on it’s own.  Soft and fluffy without a hint of dryness thanks to the kernels of corn studded throughout it. 

Ordinarily I would pile my cornbread with hummus to the heavens, but the tweaks in my dietary choices are the reason I’m having such success with FODMAPS*.  So sadly, the hummus was benched. 

Hummus = beans = galactans

Cornbread = wheat = fructans

As I mentioned before, I try to avoid mixing FODMAPS, especially galactans.  It seems to be the one group that I really need to be mindful of (eating on it’s own). 

*Many of you seem to be very curious about FODMAPS, so I’m going to start a separate tab for all the questions I’ve been getting on it and all the posts addressing the topic.  In the meantime, you can search for all the various posts I’ve done on the subject by entering “fodmaps” in the search bar (upper right corner).

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This recipe could be made gluten free by swapping the all purpose flour with another grain flour (like oat flour, brown rice flour, or a combo perhaps), but I am not too savvy with GF baking yet to suggest how to do it.  It’s also vegan (if you follow the original recipe calling for egg replacer), which Kyle did not do. 

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Speaking of which…

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I will inevitably get questions about it, so to preempt the inquiries, yes, I’m eating eggs.  I tolerate them fine, so I’ve never seen a reason to exclude them from my diet if and when I craved them (which was an extremely rare occurrence).  That said, I seem to have gone from zero to full speed ahead with them.  I used to be really grossed out by yolks and uncooked whites, but over the last month I’ve suddenly become obsessed with them.  I blame it on Buenos Aires’ brilliant use of them – atop gorgeous salads, in tortilla espanola, alongside fresh-out-of-the-oven-bread.  I hardly recognize myself (as I mop the runny yolks up off my plate with whatever food I can find)!  Its so weird.  I’m like a yolk-aholic now.  Who knows.  I’m constantly going through food phases, so I’ll just let this one play out.  No sense in denying myself something full of nutrients (and free of FODMAPS) that my digestive system tolerates.  Right? 

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Phew!  I feel glad I’ve gotten that off my chest.  Now I can continue posting about my plant based diet and people won’t have to wonder why I’m opting for eggs over hummus when I’m looking for a food to partner with cornbread (or another non-galactan FODMAPS containing food). 

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FYI, I still prefer baking with chia and flax seeds. 

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Work breakfast: oats, peanut butter, banana, raisins, stevia

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Work lunch: spinach, butternut squash, eggs, salt & pepper.

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Work dinner: kale, butternut squash, pasta, seitan, Bragg’s liquid aminos

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Work drink: teeccino caffeine-free hazelnut herbal coffee (Lollihop sample)

Work dessert: candied ginger, Dagoba new moon dark chocolate

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Work snacks: carrots, corn nuts, FSTG blue corn chips

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Off to Nor Cal for some family time and a fun NYE with friends! :)

Butter me up

I’m sorry for leaving you all in suspense after the nutty teaser.

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I made this trio of nut butter spreads for Kyle’s dad…

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Holiday Spiced Peanut butter

Chocolate Cake Almond Butter

Coconut Peanut Butter

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There weren’t really leftovers…mostly because Kyle kept poking his head in the kitchen when he heard the food processor stop…smart boy.  But I did make an extra batch of the chocolate one.  Because you can never have too much cocoa almond butter.

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Since we’re on the subject of chocolate, I may as well start with that recipe.

Chocolate Cake Almond Butter (v, gf)

  • 3/4 cup raw almonds
  • 4 tbsp agave nectar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste

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Continuously pulse raw almonds in food processor until they butter.  It will take a while.  Be patient.  Scrape down sides of FP as needed.

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Add cocoa, vanilla and agave and continue to process until the contents look like silky cake batter.

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If you refrigerate it, it will keep longer, but it’s easier to spread at room temperature.

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Unlike almond butter, when it comes to home-made peanut butters, I think the key is using dry roasted peanuts.  They provide a better flavor than raw ones.  I typically opt for unsalted nuts which gives me the flexibility to add salt later or not (depending on what I’m doing with them).

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Holiday Spiced Peanut Butter (v, gf)

  • 3/4 cup dry roasted Virginia peanuts
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt

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Just like pureeing almonds, you add the peanuts to the food processor and wait until they are smoothly buttered.

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Then add the spices and maple syrup and prepare to see your breakfast future (and lunch and dinner).

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This peanut butter is perfection.  It almost tastes like toffee.  It’s just divine.

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This next recipe is inspired by one of my all time favorite nut butters by Tropical Traditions.  As far as I’m concerned coconut goes with anything and everything.  And peanut butter isn’t too far behind it in that regard.  So it only makes sense that they should be united in nut butter form.

Coconut Peanut Butter (v, gf)

  • coconut butter (made from 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut)
  • 3/4 cup dry roasted Virginia peanuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For this recipe I made the coconut butter first by simply processing the shredded coconut until it was creamy and smooth.  Then I added in the nuts and continued to process.

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Eventually I added the vanilla, agave, and salt.  And at the end I had one big butter ball.  It smelled and tasted like raw peanut butter cookie dough.  Jarring it up for others was almost torture!

At least I knew I had my own jar of chocolate cake almond butter.

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I will be adding this to every single thing I can think of in the next week.  If it lasts that long…

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Do you like flavored nut butters?  Or do you prefer the plain and simple kind?  Have you ever made your own?

Cavity central

Our apartment is a dentist’s nightmare. 

The only thing I brought back from Argentina was chocolate.  Chocolate bars, chocolate cookies, chocolate covered this and chocolate covered that.

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Cadbury makes so many products you can’t get here in the states, so I obviously had to bring home several to sample.  And since I fell in love with alfajor cookies, I brought a dozen or so of them back with me too.

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Needless to say, I have a few pounds of desserts to work through in 2012 and I’m very happy about it.

Add on top of that the treats my patient sent home with me…

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If there’s a store near you that sells Uncle Eddie’s vegan cookies, do yourself a favor and buy them.  You’ll love me and hate me for the recommendation. 

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And then there are the treats Kyle brought back from his parents’ house…

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These are vanishing at an alarming pace (Kyle’s work, not mine).  Once upon a time there was an entire tray of them.  Serving sizes don’t exist with home-made goodies.  Especially when they contain Crisco.

It gets worse better…

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Holy Nestle basket!

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How long do you think it will take to polish off this entire stash?  No really.  I want guesses.

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Because I don’t think I’ve ever had this much candy in the house.  TWENTY BARS!?!  Crunch bars, Butterfingers, Baby Ruths, and 100 Grand bars, oh my!

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I didn’t even know Nestle made half these things!  Dark chocolate Raisinets? Wonka Exceptionals Fantabulous Fudge bar?  Chocolate Waterfall bar?  Skinny Cow Dreamy Clusters?

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On the healthier front, I had goodies from Lollihop.

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So many new snacks to try.  I haven’t even had my [real] Christmas yet, but this month’s box was above and beyond.  Lollihop really outdid themselves in December…I felt like I was opening a stocking! 

  • NuGo Dark pretzels
  • 479 popcorn
  • Giddy Up & Go granola
  • Twin Cakes biscotti (yes!)
  • Good Health apple chips
  • Zing chocolate PB
  • 18 Rabbits cinnamon
  • RW Garcia
  • Teccino herbal coffee
  • Artisana nut butter
  • Bella Viva almonds

Pus a cute Lollihop tote bag!

But the icing on the cake was this gift from Larabar.

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New flavor alert!  Cappuccino!!!!

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With all these new sweets, I decided some organization was in order.  And by organization, I mean hiding these treats from myself. 

The “pantry” has been in need of spring winter cleaning for quite some time anyway. 

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I’m pretty Type A when it comes to keeping things tidy, so this is chaos at it’s extreme. 

The problem is we don’t have a true pantry, so when I go grocery crazy or get samples shipped to me, we wind up storing snacks in our linen closet. 

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See?  Horrible.

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As I started dumping everything on the counter I began finding things buried in the mess that I didn’t even remember I had!

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PureFit protein bars (vegan and gluten free). 

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S’mores HALO ProBars

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This is a fraction of it all.  I think I need to stop shopping for bars.  Or enter myself for a hoarder show intervention.  Or go for monthly dental appointments. 

How much chocolate do you keep in your house?  Candy? 

Do you still have holiday treats? 

When was the last time you organized your pantry?