coconut date rolls

The Eves Before the Eve

Happy 2011 everyone!  I know I promised the giveaway winners today, but I’m not quite ready yet…

Since I’ve been MIA for the past few days, I have some catching up to do first.  Even though I got the 31st and 1st off of work, I was still at the hospital for the rest of 2010.  And so before ringing in the New Year, I packed up my lunches as per usual.


The above is what I call operation use-up-leftovers. 


Chopped NutsOnline dried figs + golden delicious apples + quinoa seasoned with stevia and cinnamon


Pureed butternut squash with vanilla soymilk and cinnamon


Apple + ‘stachios


Broccoli, chickpeas, and carrots with marinara sauce.  If that’s not the most leftovers sounding combo, I don’t know what is.  It still kinda worked.


Leftovers were the name of the game for dinner. 


Asian tofu (WF hot bar) with butternut squash and quinoa.


Ezekiel english muffin with Earth Balance a la mode.


I enjoyed a dessert plate of PB stuffed medjool dates (sprinkled in shredded coconut) as I packed my bags for my trip to Nor Cal.  Sigh.  While I love heading home, this is my second weekend in a row of driving up the I-5.  Can you believe we have put 5,000 miles on our car in 3 months?!?  My “commute” to work is only a mile, so that mileage is literally ALL from driving up and down the CA coast. 



I was talking on the phone with my mom all the while, so the clothes I packed ended up being not so coordinated. 

I also had to pack up my lunch for work the next day.  And since we were leaving as soon as I got off work, that meant I would be taking whatever I had with me at the hospital along with me to Nor Cal.


Not wanting to have dirty tupperware with me ‘til 2011, I opted for the most portable eats with the least amount of containers. 


For breakfast I made oats with a packet of Three Sisters Brown Sugar & Maple oats.  I used some of my home-made trail mix for add-ins (almonds, dried fruit, carob chips, etc.).


I had another bag of trail mix from the Westwood Whole Foods’ bulk bins section.  There were soooo many kinds of trail mix that I had a difficult time choosing which to try first.  I forget what this mix was called but it has dried dates, apricots, raisins, walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds, and who knows what else.  Super nutrient packed. 

For lunch I had soup and salad combo.


Ok, it was really more of a pilaf. 

Dr. McDougall’s sent me a ton of products to sample and I have been waiting for the day to dig in.  You see, while I love packing my own lunches, I also know myself and I know that sometimes I have lazy days that I want to be able to turn to packaged food.  Unfortunately, finding packaged food that’s healthy and not full of fat and sodium can be hard.  On top of that, finding vegan options is even more difficult. 

Not to exaggerate or make huge claims of greatness, but I honestly think that Dr. McDougall’s Right Foods are the most convenient vegan products on the market.  They are decently sized portions, not too big, but not leaving you wanting more.  The ingredients are as pure as a packaged product can be (yes, there are still dried and dehydrated veggies and seasoning packets), but they are nothing like those nasty MSG laden Cup ‘O Noodles. 


I do find it annoying that one cup has 2 servings, but aside from that, I have no issue with the ingredients (and I’m very picky about that stuff). 


In the hospital cafeteria I added boiling water, then I closed the lid, ate my salad, and within ten minutes I had a hearty, well seasoned dish. 

[Sorry about the ugly cell phone pics]


I’m fairly impressed (dare I say, surprised?) that this Curry brown & wild rice fruited pilaf tasted as good as it did.  It was flavorful with a nice balance of grains to other ingredients.  There weren’t too many veggies, which I didn’t mind, and the accent of slivered almonds and raisins offered a sweet crunch every once in a while that I really liked.  As you might expect with a just-add-water item, the rice was a bit more crunchy than a regular pilaf.  But I wasn’t expecting much so I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t so hard that it got stuck in my teeth or completely mushy. 

I will definitely be buying these again. 


This spinach, butternut and raisin salad was the one tupperware I did bring.  With my sweet tooth cycle in constant motion, I’m finding veggies are the craving I have most often.  My body must know how to to auto-correct itself or something. 

After work, Kyle picked me up and we hit up Whole Foods for dinner…and then we were on our way up north. 

Two of my patients had strokes that day, so I was beyond exhausted.  As soon as I let myself relax, I started nodding off.  Not good when you are only an hour into a 6 hour commute.  I demanded a Starbucks stop (gas station coffee is unacceptable plus they don’t have soy milk).  When we finally found one, I swear I almost cried tears of joy.  Turns out, it was the worst visit.  The employees were rude and horrible.  They were out of soymilk and didn’t care one bit. 

What’s that slogan again? 

Oh right.

And yet, the employees refused to give me what I wanted or compensate me in any way.  How hard is it to give me a free coffee?  It’s not even about the 50 cents either, it’s the principle. 

Starbucks should know better than to piss off such a loyal customer.  Especially a gold card holder with a food blog and obsession with twitter. 

I’ll be back later with the winners of the Three Sisters cereal. 

Adrenaline rush 30,000 feet in the air

Before I even GET to my Olympics recap, I have to describe to you the craziest flight I have ever been on.  EVER. 

You see, there’s a reason I don’t have many food pictures from my 5 hour flight, and it has to do with this simple phrase:

“Is there anyone on the plane in the medical field?”

[Insert profanity here]  The good news (for them)?  I was on board.  The bad news (for me)?  I was on board. 

At first, when I heard the flight attendants call for help, I got a rush of adrenaline, but the feeling that quickly followed was more of a stomach drop.  The passenger was visibly suffering, couldn’t seem to get enough air with each breath and even after slapping oxygen on him, didn’t show signs of relief.  In the back of my head I knew that there were minimal options in treatment.  I mean we were up in the clouds with little else on board aside from millions of peanuts.  Not the ideal setting for nursing.  Fortunately, the flight attendants procured a stethoscope and blood pressure cuff and I was able to have a listen to his lungs and heart and get a set of vitals.  I’ll gloss over the nursing mumbo jumbo…but after an hour or so, he was looking a bit more stable so I headed to the back of the plane to talk to the doctor they had patched through to the plane.  They were trying to decide whether or not they should do an emergency landing to get him to the hospital. 

“The nurse is on the line now, over.”  “Roger that.”   ;)  I felt like I was an air force nurse….only I kept forgetting to say over, so then I would click back in just to say “over.”  I’m sure they are still laughing about how ridiculous it sounded. 

Anyways, the story gets better…Because they were having issues with the mics in the back of the plane, the pilots asked me to go in the cockpit.  How many people have been in a cockpit post-911 while flying?  None.  And then I came along…it was crazy.  They had to guard the door while I entered and then again (30 minutes later) once I exited.  HOLY CONTROL PANEL!!  It was dark and there were buttons and lights and gadgets galore.  I was so scuuurred I was thinking please ignore me, please ignore me the entire time.  I’m sure they know what they are doing up there, but the last thing I wanted was to shift their focus from flying to helping me with the friggin’ mic.  Finally I got patched through to the MD on ground and I told him about the passenger and what we had done so far and what the person’s current status was.  He agreed to continue to monitor closely and upon landing they would have EMTs waiting.  Awesome.  This was what I suspected he would say, so I was relieved to go back to my seat. 

I’m always looking for ways to pass the time on cross country flights, but this is one I don’t think I will be trying again anytime soon. 

The flight attendants and other passengers were so sweet, and really made me feel proud that I could step up, so it was kinda neat.  At the same time, I was pretty nervous throughout the ordeal, but knew that everyone was watching me.  Accordingly, playing it cool was important not just to keep me in the zone, but also to keep the rest of the people on the plane out of the panic zone.  Fear is a funny thing.  It can be helpful in small doses, but once it gets overwhelming, it is beyond detrimental. 

With an hour left until we arrived on the East Coast, I THOUGHT I was home free…  Not so much. 

Next thing I know, they are running to get me again for a different passenger!    Geez.  It’s like the flight was cursed!?  This second person lost consciousness and hit his head on the bathroom door on his way down.  He came back pretty quickly, but naturally I did an assessment just to make sure there weren’t bigger issues at play.  When all was said and done, it was time to begin our descent, and I was able to pass off responsibility to the EMTs.  Both were breathing with pulses at the end of the flight, so mission accomplished I suppose.

Talk about working on my day off!  The airline did reward me for my help, and I will admit, the flight went by far quicker than it usually does, so there were a few perks in exchange for the bullets I was sweating for hours while 30,000 feet in the air.  I have only a fraction of my eats on film because I wasn’t as incognito as I usually am, and busting out my camera mid-flight wasn’t an option.


Half of this was left over from my first flight’s snackies.  Kyle made fun of me saying it looked like I was preparing for a famine, but the joke was on him when he wanted in on my treats.  Of course I shared.  I also had a few apples, bars, and a sandwich, which barely made it to the first layover.  Then we hit up Qdoba for a burrito bowl salad with the works (black beans and guac up the yin yang). 

We landed just after 11, and thanks to the most brilliant eavesdropping, we were able to share a taxi into Manhattan, this avoiding the complete nightmare that is NJ Transit. 

Sorry for the picture-deficient post.  I promise the next will include Olympic highlights, a Vancouver restaurant review, and BIG NEWS!!!  Stay tuned…

Hummus heritage

Even though I’m predominantly Irish and German, I can’t help but wonder if there is a long lost Mediterranean family member.  How else do you explain the POUNDS of hummus I consume on a daily basis?? (…not to mention my love affairs with falafel, beans, and fresh veg salads…)

Does your heritage creep it’s way into your diet?  Or do you have love for foreign flavors?

Even though part of my family is Japanese (not by blood), white rice was never really something I got into…although it did make for some very tasty (albeit unconventional) Thanksgiving dinners (one of which was totally ruined after my grandpa dared me to consume a 2 cm wide ball of wasabi) – what a sucker 😛

Anyways, back to the day. 

WORK (le sigh).


The usuals: dried figs, almond/cashew/raisins/carob chips, apple, hummus mini-tub, spinach salad (with carrots, brocc slaw, dried craz, chickpeas), superfood odwalla, coconut cream pie larabar, and apple crisps.


The only thing I want to say about this lunch was how weird it felt to eat dried figs in the humid hot summer weather.  I haven’t had them for a while, and it brought back memories of winter and cold weather…is it just me or do some foods seem like they only belong in certain seasons? 


For dinner I had some treats that I bought on yesterday’s WF trip. Falafel!!!


Falafel, meet hummus.  Hummus, meet veggies.  Food meet my mouth. 


NOM!  The roughage in that bowl was NO JOKE.  Fiber food baby.


I got this in the mail today!  Can I just say how effing excited I am to read this book!  Clean Food by Terry Walters is all about the idea of eating seasonally and locally (sign me up).  I will let you all know what I think once I have done a more thorough read, but I can already tell I’m going to love it.  It is broken down by season and has tons of recipes.  Loves it.


If you aren’t drooling over my dessert, there’s something wrong with you.  Fo realz.  I started off with a cashew carob raisin bowl, but then went balls to the wall with my VitaTop (helloooo lover).  I melted carob chips on top of the blueberry flavor.  HOLY yum 🙂

**I may not be posting again for a while, since I am heading to Atlantic City for the weekend**


I am planning on cooking the (above) vegan dinner from Veganomicon Saturday night.  Other than that…I guess you’ll have to wait for a Monday recap to see what veg options this hippie managed to track down in the city that prides itself on casinos, salt water taffy, and all things Trump. 

ICU…and I raise you!

Welllll…this weekend was pretty intense. 

I worked. 

I saved lives. 


I try not to go into too much detail about my job (a) because of the whole patient privacy thing and (b) because I have a feeling it’s not very thrilling to read about.  But sometimes I wish I could share all the crazy things I see and do on a daily basis because, well, it’s a big part of my life.  Or at least a part.

Anyways, as I’ve mentioned before, I work in the cardiopulmonary critical care unit (CPCU), which is the step down unit for the surgical intensive care unit (SICU).  Basically I get patients after any open heart surgery (bypass, valve replacement, pericardial windows, etc.) and occasionally lung surgery, too.

Since the CPCU and the SICU work together, occasionally I’ll get sent to work in the SICU, which is what happened on Saturday.

My patient was on the verge of flat lining the entire shift…you can’t IMAGINE the kind of stress that can have on a person. 

It can be a little scary.  A whole lotta crap went down…but the only part that matters is that my patient is doing well now (and knowing it’s because of me isn’t too shabby either). 

Bring it on ICU!  (just kidding, please don’t, the stress of Saturday cost me 4 years of my life)

On Sunday I transferred my patient upstairs to the CPCU since she was a bit more stable.  I was glad to be getting back in my comfort zone.  Home base – yessss! 

Oh, and did I mention I got an additional patient on Sunday, too.  Heaven forbid my stress level enter a manageable range…

I left work each day in such an exhausted state…all I wanted to do was a swan dive into a pile of pillows pass the eff out. 

ANYWAYS, sorry about the rambling…I’ll get back to the real reason you read…let’s start with Saturday’s eats

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Coffee & coconut date rolls – the breakfast of champions?  For sure.

Pre-packed lunch. 


Ensalada grande:  spinach, carrots, snow peas, cherry tomatoes, clover sprouts, dried cranberries, and more seaweed/sesame salad.

Courtney, I promise I’ll post more on the seaweed/sesame salad later!

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More snacks: Newman’s Own dried organic apples, Berries GoMega odwalla bar, apple, and Ocean Spring Mixed Fruit crisps

Check out the cute starfruit!  By the way, anyone know what a jackfruit is?  Because I had some for lunch.

The best part of the day was when Kyle surprised me after work!!!  And guess where we went for dinner?


Whole Foods!!!! 

The baked tofu is one of my fave hot bar items, and you can’t go wrong with chickpeas…the wild rice/edamame/carrot mix was a new one for me and I LOVED it.  As usual, WF delivered.  My dinner was perfectly fulfilling and satiating.  Mmmm…

Later on I had some dessert, which wasn’t my best creation.


It was almost worthy of a “Heat the Salmon Butt” title.  But I did finish it, so I guess that says something.  I thought this was the vanilla flavor, so imagine my surprise after I mixed it all up and took a bite. Plain greek yogurt with PB and carob covered raisins? 

Fortunately, peanut butter masks anything and everything enough to delight my taste buds (and carob raisins clearly didn’t hurt either).

So I licked the cup clean 🙂

As for Sunday’s eats…I packed a similar lunch the night before.


The only difference between this salad and Saturday’s was the addition of baked tofu (the 3 leftover chunks from WF).

Estrogen?  Check!

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The 2 remaining dried apple rings in the bag, an apricot Clif bar, an apple, and some ridiculously overpriced grapes.

Here’s an action shot of my salad half way through…


I love mixing my salads up in tuperware. 

Shake, shake.  Shake, shake, a shake it!

If you are looking at my lunch and thinking…that’s not very much food.  Well, you’re right.  I was starvin’ marvin by 4 pm – scavenging the unit for random eats.  The search was somewhat fruitless, as you would expect of a Jewish Kosher hospital (under construction on a Sunday no less).  Ugh.  I had 23 glasses of apple juice instead.  Awesome.

I nearly passed out on the subway ride home…which is why I was SO thrilled when I got home to this!


Look what greeted me when I walked in the door!  Kyle gets MVP for the weekend.  Meeting me downtown for a Whole Foods surprise dinner on Sat and BBQing vegan eats for me on Sun…I hit the jackpot with this one!

Look at him all proud of his skillz.  Cue master K! 


I love BBQ corn!  He also made mushroom/bell pepper skewers and LightLife smart tenders (plus 2 un-pictured chicken breasts for himself). 


I think I tried this brand of smart tenders long ago and wasn’t a huge fan, but this was a new flavor (Lemon Pepper) and wasn’t too bad. 

As I mentioned whined about earlier, I was hangry by the time I got home, so I immediately made up a plate.


I added 3 tender strips and a kebob to a handful of spinach and corn.

Hit. The. Spot.

Here’s plate numero dos, with a multi-v vitaminwater on the side.

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Anyone tried these new lower calorie vitamin waters?  This was the first time I tried one and I’m still a little unsure how I feel (I’ve never tried any of the original vitamin water flavors either).  I noticed rebiana (the stevia extract) on the ingredient list, but I think it’s in the form of Truvia (the one with “natural sweeteners”).  Hmm…


Dessert was huge fruity melon mix and a pair of hermits.


So chewy and delicious!

After watching three horrendous hours of Celeb Apprentice killing my last few functioning brain cells, it was bed time.  Thank goodness I have Monday off!  I have so much catching up to do!

I’ve got B.O. (beets and okra)

Don’t worry I’m a clean hippie.  Showers are me time.  But wait ‘til you see my lovely dinner…it’s packed with salad newbies. 

But first things first. 


I have no idea why, but I woke up WAY freakin’ early.  On a non-work day, WTF!?  Anyways, I had a frothy mug of joe to get things rolling…followed by a strawberry chobz with diced strawberries on top.


Mmmm…look at all that greek yogurt goodness.  I also had an apple while reading blogs and watching last night’s Gossip Girl and The Hills killing some brain cells.

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After I felt significantly dumber, I had some dried pineapple rings and then hit the road to tackle my laundry list of errands. 

Whew.  I didn’t get home until pretty late in the day and I was starving and dripping with sweat.  New York has no in-between, it goes from 30 degrees to 90 degrees.


I managed to slice apples and bread before going to town on the hummus.  This held me over enough so I could make myself a real lunch. 


Spinach, hummus, and seitan on a toasted english muffin.


WOW.  Be jeal, it was as good as it looks   🙂

Even though I had already walked miles and miles doing all my errands, I still decided to gym it up.  I was actually even more sore today than yesterday, so I did the elliptical for an hour, progressively increasing the resistance from 7 to 12, then stretched and peaced out (no mat work).

Post gym I had this little baby, which I got in my half marathon goody bag.  I like free things, especially when they are chocolate and soy.


I heart Silk – and I heart chocolate…pretty sure this is old news to you all though.


While making this (see above) for Kyle, I snacked on this (see below).


As promised, here’s some info about key nutrients and their vegetable sources (starting with the most per serving):

Minerals: elements that originate in the soil and can’t be created by living things (ie plants and animals). Plants absorb minerals from the soil and animals get their minerals from eating plants/other animals. Most minerals in the human diet come directly from plants

Calcium – artichoke, peas, squash, broccoli, kale, lima beans, spinach

Iron – lima beans, peas, avocado, kale, spinach, broccoli, squash, potatoes

Magnesium – avocado, artichoke, peas, squash, potatoes, corn, spinach, kale

Phosphorous – lima beans, peas, artichokes, avocado, corn, potatoes, asparagus

Potassium – avocado, lima beans, potatoes, peas, artichoke, squash, kale, sweet potatoes, broccoli, corn, carrots, spinach, asparagus, green peppers

Vitamins: organic food substances found only in living things (ie plants and animals). They are essential for our bodies to function properly and (with few exceptions) the human body can’t manufacture or synthesize vitamins, so they must be supplied in our diet or in man-made dietary supplements. Vitamins can’t be assimilated without also ingesting food, which is why it’s best to take supplements with a meal (caution with synthetic vitamin supplements because they can be of varying quality).

Vitamin A – sweet potatoes, kale, carrots, spinach, avocado, broccoli, peas

Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – peas, avocado

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – avocado

Vitamin B3 (niacin) – avocado, peas, potatoes, mushrooms, squash, corn

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) – avocado, sweet potatoes, potatoes, corn, lima beans, squash

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) – avocado, peas, potatoes, carrots

Vitamin B9 (folate/folic acid) – lima beans, asparagus, avocado, peas, artichoke, spinach, squash, broccoli, corn, sweet potatoes

Vitamin B12 – none

Vitamin C – sweet potatoes, green peppers, kale, artichoke, peas, onions, potatoes, asparagus, avocado, broccoli

Vitamin D – mushrooms

Vitamin E – none

Vitamin K – kale, spinach, broccoli, and most other dark green leafy vegetables

*This info and more here, including daily requirements and amounts per veggie serving.

Who knew avocados were such power houses!?  Looks like my half a day habit is pretty healthy.

The major red flag for vegans/vegetarians to note is Vitamin B12, which is only found in animal products (meat, eggs, dairy)…and even though many sources claim it can be found in fermented soy products (tempeh) it is often not.

All my research really got me in the mood for a mega salad with TONS of new veggies.  So, in honor of Miss GlidingCalm and Melissa, I tried 2 new ingredients (beets and okra), along with several other colorful veggies.


Look!  It’s okra!  How cute! (and tasty too I might add)


On a bed of spinach was sliced okra, cherry tomatoes, broccoli slaw, baby beets, shredded carrots, and smart deliturkey.”


Sometimes I can’t reign in the creative forces…and instead of being selective, I go overboard and add every single thing I can get my hands on into my salads…


…case in point, the above confetti in a bowl.  This was way too big.  I had a food baby after.

So full.

I think I may be in love with these two new veggies.  Okra has a wonderful crunch factor that really lends itself to salads.  The only thing that was a little weird was it seemed to sweat a kind of gooey sap when cut, but I can get over that because it’s texture and flavor were superb.  I can already tell okra and hummus are going to be a dynamic duo, and that’s really the only test a food needs to pass in my book.  As for the beets, they are so flavorful, I can see why Melissa loves them (and Dwight grows them, hehe).  I want to find out other ways to use them besides in a salad, because they are really tasty.  The only downside is their potential to stain my clothes if I’m not careful.

After dinner, Kyle was still at work, so I decided to go for a PM stroll and do a few more errands.  The weather was still perfect outside!  I ended up getting a manicure, which is very necessary since I am going home on Thursday for my friend’s wedding – and I can’t show off my bling bling with unpolished nails!!!

Obviously by the time I got back home I was ready for dessert.

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Dates stuffed with carob raisins and an apple.  Game. Set. Match.

For the vegetarians or vegans out there, is there ever a time you crave meat, or miss any dairy or other animal products?  Just wondering.  When I was out and about today I smelled bacon, and it smelled delish.  The funny part is, I’ve NEVER had bacon beforeEver.  My Mom is a vegetarian, so growing up, there were several foods I never tried.  Bacon is one of the foods, and although it smells divine, it still grosses me out.