VitaTops

Natural and Native Foods

After another LOOOOONG morning at the Natural Foods Expo, lunchtime rolled around and Kyle and I were beyond tired (read: ready to throw in the towel).  We came, we saw, we conquered, and we were exhausted. 

Rather than return for another 5 hours of crowds and chaos, we decided that we had pretty much enjoyed everything Anaheim had to offer.  Game, set, match.

With grumbling tummies (I don’t know how), we said goodbye to the Convention Center and set out to find a real meal. 

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A quick search on my blackberry revealed we weren’t too far away from the Costa Mesa Native Foods.  SWEET!

I ordered the Scorpion Burger.

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This sando is made with Chef Tanya’s original homemade tempeh blackened with chipotle sauce and topped with lettuce, carrots, avocado and onions.

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It was much spicier than I remembered, but I enjoyed the kick in the pants mouth.  Chef Tanya should really package the rub on this…it might even convince me to make my own tempeh dishes at home. 

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Here’s a shot of my sammie doing the splits (with one bite missing).  I licked my plate (and fingers) clean.   

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Kyle got the Portobello and Sausage Burger with juicy grilled portobellos, homemade seitan sausage, pomodoro, caramelized onions, sweet roasted garlic, creamy pumpkin seed pesto and mayo.

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He enjoyed it very very much, along with the side of sweet potato fries.

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After a few minutes of browsing the cute shops surrounding the restaurant (dubbed crazy hippie spots by Kyle), we headed back to my G-ma’s to pack up our stuff and head back to Santa Monica.

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After two days straight of snacking on packaged samples, I was craving fresh fruit like nobody’s business, so I practically bee-lined for the fruit basket upon entering the apartment. 

While I got to work uploading photos and unpacking, I decided to sample a new VitaTop flavor.

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Vitalicious Apple Crumb.

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It smelled like Christmas when I opened it.  Must be the cinnamon.  My family has a tradition of making cinnamon coffee cake on Christmas morning, so it was sensory nostalgia from the get go.

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I heated it in the microwave for a few seconds to get it warm, just like real coffee cake.  Mmmm…

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It wasn’t quite like a true muffin top, because it was more airy and light.  Muffin tops (in my opinion) are the more dense and less bready portion of the muffin (so this was more like the muffin bottom).

The first ingredient is water (weird?), and from there on it lists whole wheat flour, apples, natural chicory fiber (inulin), applesauce, etc.  While it’s not vegan (it has trace egg whites further down on the list), the ingredients are not terrible.  There are more than I typically like, but it’s healthier than coffee cake if you are going to have a breakfast treat.  And while I rarely take note of calories or those kinds of stats, you should know that the entire muffin has a mere 100 calories with negligible amounts of fat.  In other words, you I could eat a dozen no problem.  I would definitely put them in the “diet” category of products (not that there’s anything wrong with that, I’m just calling it like I see it). 

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By the way does anyone else think of Seinfeld when they think of muffin tops?

So yeah, the Vita was my pre-dinner snack.

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And then eventually, I made a wrap.

Ingredients:

  • Alvarado Street Bakery sprouted tortilla
  • Earthbound Farms organic spinach
  • organic tomatoes
  • organic sprouts
  • seitan
  • Pita Pal hummus
  • honey mustard

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Ingredients for change

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So big!  Seitan overload.

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I was far too ambitious with this wrap for sure.  It ended up being a fork and knife kind of meal. 

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I had a big hunk of brownie for dessert – a chocolate deception brownie.  And once my stomach was satisfied, I allowed my body to succumb to the waves of somnolence that I’d been fighting all day.  Zzzzz.

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).

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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.

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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? 

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

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

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

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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.

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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**

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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. 

NuNaturals NuStevia NuNeighborhoods

After working a few days in a row, I just wanted to sleep in ‘til noon today.  Unfortunately, my circadian rhythm wasn’t in on the game plan.  I was up and getting my caffeine on by 8.

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A few days ago, this lovely package arrived from NuNaturals, so I was thrilled to have a massive fake sugar free NuStevia filled cuppa-joe. 

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As usual, I brewed and frothed…

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Then, I added 3 drops of Vanilla Stevia to the Caffe Froth, and 1 packet of NuStevia white powder to the coffee. 

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Perfection.  No bitter after-taste.  Not too sweet.  Plus, I only needed a tiny bit (and I like my coffee sweet).  To be honest, I like this brand better than the Stevia in the Raw brand, but it’s also more $$, so do what you will with that information.

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Along with my coffee, I toasted a Blueberry VitaMuffin, which MAY have gotten dunked in the Pomegranate greek yog.  My chobz/vita combo was like the poor man’s parfait.  K, please come to NYC and show me how it’s done.

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Mmm, toasty.  I did some crossword-ing, cyber stalking blog reading, View watching, etc.  Miraculously, my sore throat was gone – yeah!  But my back was acting up big time.  I rarely address my back issues on the blog, because it’s a chronic thing…so I’m used to ignoring my pain.  Lately, however, it’s been so bad that I can’t deny it’s presence.  A few times, I have nearly gone to the ER because I’m in agony and no position provides relief.  But what are they going to do?  Give me painkillers (that I won’t take).  I’ve been pondering the idea of seeing a chiropractor, but I’m a little nervous about it (and I have no clue if they would even take my insurance).  So for now, I think I’m going to switch from my massive shoulder bag to a backpack.  Hideous – yes.  But, hopefully the absence of pain will make up for the absence of style.  I digress…

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Juicy, watery, melon.  It was a big a$$ bowl.  Luffff.

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I was sloshing around after all that liquid.  After my kidneys did their thang and filtered out the Kombucha swamp water, I headed to the gym.  Remember what that is?  Hmmmm…vaguely.

I ran 6 miles on the treadmill, then another 2 on the elliptical.  Endorphin-high, how I missed you!!  After the cardio sesh, I spent some serious time stretching on the mat, with a few ab exercises thrown in for good measure.

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Post gym, post shower, snack-age occurred in the form of pitettes, and hummus.  I swirled the roasted red pepper flavor into the OG for a fabby duo.

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Then I moved on to veggies.  Broccoli/cauliflower and humm-daddy.

Since it was still early in the PM, I headed out to tackle some things on my to-do list.  Hours later, I returned home ready for dinner.  I was supposed to go out with friends tonight, but one of them had to cancel, so I tried to scrape together something with the random contents of my fridge. 

Step 1: grate zucchini, add brocc slaw

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Step 2: top with hummus

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Step 3: add dried cranz

Step 4: mix, stir, and grub

I opted for a carb-a-licious ending to the meal, too. 

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No more pitettes left (tear).

After Kyle got home and ate dinner, we went for a stroll up to the Columbia campus.  I’d never been up there before, and it was so nice!  As ridiculous as it seems (maybe it’s just me being naive), I’ve always felt a little nervous about going up to that area, but it was awesome.  I discovered a book store that trades in old books for store credit, a few restaurants to try out, a cool bar with live jazz, and the most breath-taking church (Columbia’s St. John the Divine).  Who knew all this was right up the street?  Living on the UWS, when I go out, I always head downtown…(except that one time when Kyle wanted to see the Seinfeld restaurant), but now I’m committed to exploring more in different directions.  Next up, the northern part of Riverside Park. 

We got back, watched Sunday’s Entourage episode.  Who else can’t stand E’s new girl?  I want Sloan back!

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I snacked on red bell peppers and carrots.  Post photo-op, the hummus came out to join in on the fun.  And it was fun.

Have you ever lived somewhere before, and never really explored the area?  I tend to stick the familiar until I have visitors in town…then I do touristy things that I would never do otherwise.  I really should be exploring more neighborhoods while I’m here in NYC.  They are all so unique and interesting!

All I want is peace(food)

I worked both days this weekend.  So on Saturday, while everyone else was frolicking in the sun, I was dealing with my patient who decided she was through with the hospital, and removed her own chest tube.  Don’t worry, she’s fine (physically at least…psych-wise I’m still on the fence).

Anyways. 

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Yummy pre-packed food includes: raisin/almond/cashew/carob chip mix, dried mango/papaya, Tribe hummus mini-tub, apple, raw salad, and some bars.

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Odwalla Superfood (I heart every green millimeter of this flavor) and a Cashew Cookie Larabar (also a favorite).

The rest of the day flew by uneventfully (just the way I like it), and Kyle met me on the unit to commute home together.  We decided to try out a new vegan restaurant in our neighb – Saturday night IS date night after all!

Peacefood Cafe 

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Such a cute joint!  This is the delicious view you get upon arrival. 

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It was open and bright with big windows and high ceilings.  We ordered at the front counter/bar area and then chose a corner table while waiting for our food. 

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In the meantime, Kyle sipped on an Acai smoothie, of which I managed to snag a couple tastes. 

*I apologize in advance for the low quality photos taken by my bberry (I’ll gladly accept an iPhone if anyone’s offering).

We ordered a few things to split along with our own main dishes.  The first to arrive was “the other Caesar salad.”

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This was crisp with yummy fake bacon-y things on top (smoked tempeh).  Kyle didn’t think it held up to the real deal.  I, on the other hand, haven’t tasted a true Caesar salad in so long that I thought it was great!  The portion was good to split as an app – it wouldn’t have been enough on its own as an entree, and yet it was too big on its own as a starter.

Next were the chickpea fries.

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OMG.  These were a hummus lovers paradise.  Mashed garbanzos in a crispy fried batter = delish!  They weren’t overly oily, but definitely a treat (as I’m sure they weren’t exactly the healthiest option on the menu).  We split them as a side dish and the arrived piping hot. 

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Because I have no patience, I lost a layer of skin on the roof of my mouth, but they were still divine.  Kyle mentioned that they reminded him of mozzarella sticks, and I had to agree.

Our entrees arrived while we were going to town on the fries.

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I got the Tahini Sprouts sandwich, which contained mixed sprouts, creamy avocado, cucumber, onions, shredded carrots and a miso tahini with poppy seeds spread.

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The miso tahini poppy seed sauce and the bread were probably the best part of this sando.  The dark rye had a beautiful seedy crust and was freshly toasted.  Mmmm.  The sandwich was good, but didn’t break the mold by any means.  Some times simple is all I want, though, so it got the job done.

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Kyle’s Panini on the other hand looked to DIE for.  He got the Fried Seitan medallion panini with soy cheese, arugula, tomatoes, mustard and vegan mayo.

He wouldn’t share (not a square to spare!), so clearly it was as good as it looked!  He was stuffed after, which is always a good sign.

All in all, this cozy joint was a nice casual dinner place, and in the words of Ahhhnold "I’ll be back!"

After dinner we strolled back home, enjoying the 5.3 seconds of rain-less sky, then I packed up lunch for work, and hit the sack.

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More of the same (ok, the ONLY change is the new Larabar flavor Cherry Pie).

 

Sunday AM was another rough wake up.  I had a coarse feeling in my throat, and it hurt each time I swallowed…uh oh…

It didn’t take me long to realize my swollen tonsils weren’t going away.  I sat in Bruno’s (the cafe my home across the street from the hospital) and gulped my coffee down in 3 long pours, hoping the warmth would help.  No such luck 🙁

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Can you see the artsy reflection of the hospital in my cup of liquid love. 

In case you are wondering why I was being a Starbucks traitor…fear not!  On the weekends Starbeezies doesn’t open until 6:30 am, and I have to be at work before that, so I go to Bruno’s on the weekends, and Starbucks on the weekdays.  I know it sounds crazy, but they are next door to each other, and so I alternate because I feel guilty walking past one to cheat on it with the other. 

Anyways, neither had a solution to my sore throat, so whatever.

Lozenges?  Anyone?

I sucked on some mints I had stashed in my locker, and even gargled warm salt water (nast!).  No luck.  Being sick is no fun, but being sick while caring for other patients is worse.  Anyways, I’ll quit my whining and get onto the eats.

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Cherry is TART my friends.  Not that I didn’t like it…I just don’t think I’d buy it again when there are so many other flavors out there that I adore.

When I got home, I wanted a quick & easy snack to tide me over while I made a real dinner. 

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I may have gone a bit overboard…two pieces of PB lathered toast does not a snack make.

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Rest assured this didn’t ruin my appetite.  Newly invigorated, I assembled a big bowl of goodies for my true dinner.

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Quinoa, seitan, broccoli slaw, raw corn, shredded carrots…tossed and turned to perfection.  Later I added half an avocado on top, which added a delish creaminess.

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Mmmm…

Kyle and I ended the night with the latest episode of TrueBlood – WTF!? – and a sh!t ton of carbs. 

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Jillian would NOT approve of this late night snack.  My little bowl of goodies (carob chips, raisins, cashews) were great, so the accompaniment of the toasted Bran VitaTop was not at all necessary.  What can I say, long work weekends bring out the glutton in me. 

Looks like my HGH (human growth hormone) levels won’t be doing much “restoration” with all my pre-snooze sugar loading.  Oops!  Oh well, it’s not like I’m sick or anything…

whatevah, I do what I want

Because yesterday’s post prompted such passionate and wonderful comments (I love you guys!!!), I’d like to post my response, just in case some people don’t check follow up answers in the comment section.  This is just such a great discussion matter…

First off, can I just say how PROUD I am of the responses I have gotten on this issue, not just as a (self proclaimed) foodie, but as a female in general!

You all are absolutely right, it can be a slippery slope from checking portion sizes to obsessively counting each and every calorie – especially for the OCD, type-A people out there (hello, takes one to know one)!  And since I am truly happy with my body, I have no interest in changing the way approach eating.  I LOVE food and enjoy everything from cooking and creating new meals to setting up camp in my frequent food ruts (downing tubs of hummus day after day after day).  I have found a nice (mostly) balanced way of living, with splurges that I don’t berate myself for, and wholesome food that gives me the energy I need to remain as active as I love being.

In the end I love food way too much to let something like the serving size deemed appropriate by the government dictate how I choose to get my grub on!

OK, now back to your regularly scheduled programming Friday’s food…

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Java & greek yogurt/fruity mix (apple + plum + pear).

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This brekkie is getting too predictable!  I’m gonna have to switch it up soon. 

I went to the gym and had a mild elliptical sesh, followed by some arms and stretching – then I adios-ed to enjoy the sunshine!

I read and crossword-ed (it’s a word!) on the rooftop (lathered in sunscreen, I assure you)…and eventually came back down for lunch.

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I made another batch of seitan, this time with a few adjustments (more veggie broth).  So this cutlet was nice and juicy, easy to cut, and perrrrrrfect.  I had it with the rest of the edamummus on the side.

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Here’s the pre-cooked seitan (as I kneaded the f%^& out of it)…

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…and here it is pre (above) and post (below) oven lovin’.

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I know it looks weird, but seriously guys, it’s SO easy to make, and tastes yum (x 6).

I also had some hummus-y bread.  Do I need a reason?

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Later I had the weirdest shaped apple ever.

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For dinner I had a philly cheese steakwelllllll, with a few adjustments.

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Seitan cutlets, veggie slice “cheese”, and Alvarado street bread.  Very Elise.

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YUM!

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Desserttttt…cranbran VitaTop with some EB and fresh fruit.

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Work weekend, enjoy the sun for me kiddos!