Rainbows, More Rainbows & Good Dinner Links

Hey-o!

I feel like I’m writing a letter to one of my best friends.  Except, like way back, when I was eleven years old and we used lined paper and Lisa Frank pencils.  Can I PLEEEEASE geta’ shout-out for Lisa Frank?  I STILL see Lisa Frank paraphernalia and I have to taper back the enthusiasm in my eight year old heart to purchase it.  “It’s for Dani” I say… finds us coloring together later;-)

Kittens, rainbows and butterflies?  Yes please.

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Dolphins, SMILING with purple sunsets while playing beach ball?  Absolutely.

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Pink dolphins are my spirit-animal.

This post is brought to you by Lisa Frank.  Inspiring and affirming all of the wonder of little girls hearts.  How cute and classy is Lisa in her shades-of-lavender rainbow sweater?  I would expect nothing less of a childhood hear-e-o (that is how my kids pronounce hero;-)  “Thanks Lisa” – Love, all the Little Girls from the early 90’s.

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Alright, on to even more exciting things: Rainbow sandals.

I am approaching year nine on this pair.  Yes, NINE.  I’ve worn these every summer, possibly more than any of my other shoes.  Rainbow sandals are forever sandals.  Here is a gorgeous photo that I ran downstairs to capture of my sandals in their natural state.  I titled this, “resting after another hard days work.”

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You’ve served me well Rainbows.  They are beginning to crack on the top leather and I’ve all but worn down the bottoms.  It is time for a new pair.  If you’ve been searching for a pair of casual sandals then search no more. Nordstrom also sells them if you’d like to try them on.

Time for food.

A few months ago, I went on a super quick girls weekend to Napa with two of my dear friends.  They were both in my wedding and when we lived together we created a pretend sorority.  We named it after ourselves, Beta (Bek), Sigma (Sarah) and Kappa (for Jen’s last name because we either couldn’t find the Greek letter for J or it doesn’t exist, and her last name started with C at the time so it was close enough).  We have Christmas stockings with glitter glue immortalizing this time of our lives.  Beta Sigma Kappa forever in our hearts.

Here are Sarah and I with some friends (Annie is second from the top and my friend Bonz is on the bottom) doing important things, obviously.

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As you can tell we were a fancy sorority with only fancy events.  One of our house parties involved giving the weather the what-for by pretending it was summer in the middle of a rainy March.  We insisted on summer by turning up the heater, dressing in tank tops and skirts and drinking margaritas over spring break.  We made fake summer and it was awesome, take that rainy days in March when they are naturally occurring.

Now that we’ve walked down memory lane, on to the food.  On our trip we discovered that we were all in a dinner rut involving the same few favorite meals that were quick go-to’s.  One of them came up with the brilliant idea of sharing our top faves in an email (we are SO original).  So, having done so, without their permission, I am going to share with you some of my favorites and some of my friend’s favorites.  These recipes HAVE BEEN tested and eaten and enjoyed so much that they are the tops of the tops.  We literally cook them a few times a month, if not weekly.  Now, Sarah is a vegetarian and Jen and I often cook vegan in our homes, so many of the meals are vegetarian, vegan or close enough;-)  But please remember how much I like ALL food.  I often cook vegan at home because I believe it is incredibly healthy, but I’m not about to sacrifice tastiness.  All that being said, this food can be plated among my favorite fish tacos or a delicious fried chicken and hold it’s ground just fine.  It’s not, “good for vegan food”, it’s just good in general and happens to be fairly healthy.  So give the veggies a try.

#1: ‘Cept it has chicken, sub for grilled tofu if you like :http://www.recipetineats.com/satay-chicken-noodle-salad/

#2: Easy summer recipe with guac exception below: http://ohsheglows.com/2013/09/18/tex-mex-spaghetti-squash-with-black-bean-guacamole/

USE THIS guac and add black beans to it: http://www.recipetineats.com/best-ever-authentic-guacamole/ this guac is my favorite guac.  I make it all the time without the chilies, because I couldn’t find them.  Side note: you can freeze chopped red onions and toss them in frozen for the next time, they smashe up easier when cold.

Here’s the guac on top of a summer enchilada from Happy Herbivore’s Meal Mentor Trial.

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Yes, I made an enchilada salad.  It was really just a good excuse to eat an entire avocado.  I’m serious.

#3: Time consuming, but delicious: http://www.chowhound.com/recipes/vietnamese-style-summer-rolls-with-peanut-sauce-10641#!

we serve them next to: http://www.neverhomemaker.com/2010/07/noodle-salad-and-peanut-sauce.html

#4: Quick and delicious: http://damndelicious.net/2014/04/19/quinoa-black-bean-tacos/

#5: Instead of take-out: http://damndelicious.net/2014/05/30/pf-changs-chicken-lettuce-wraps/

#6: Be still my heart – last meal of my life type of situation (sub with soyrizo): http://www.recipetineats.com/mexican-breakfast-tacos-chorizo-and-egg/

#7: I really like this girl because she has a photo of herself putting food in her mouth.  Solid work: http://rachelschultz.com/2013/02/28/better-than-takeout-easy-pad-thai/

* for this one, I’ve made QUITE a few changes, picture attached below.  We eat it once a week.  It’s great as cold leftovers for a lunch to-go.  We leave out the Sriracha in the cooking process and use it as a condiment instead.  I use udon noodles and we usually add an entire bag of shredded carrots from TJ’s.  Love me some carrots.

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Be sure to double the sauce, otherwise it’s just a sad, sad bare noodle situation.

100% eat some of the leftovers cold on top of a bed of dinosaur kale.  Be sure to slice out the thick stems on the kale, they are the bitter!

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Crazy good lunch.

Dinner intermission with…

SNACKS:

I make this often and serve with sliced granny smith apples: http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2011/05/23/want-to-eat-an-entire-bowl-of-cookie-dough/  This girl has some GREAT oatmeal recipes, desserts and otherwise.  

Back to mealz… 

#8: These are coconut cauliflower tacos.  Ate these tonight.  Davin made them for us.  All by himself.  LOVED them, LOVE him: http://www.veggieinspiredjourney.com/2015/05/23/crispy-coconut-lime-baked-cauliflower-tacos/

#9: Jen mentioned she uses the chickpeas and cauliflower as left overs with brown rice the next day as a work lunch: http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/roasted-cauliflower-and-chickpea-tacos/?m Pretty sure I made these and FORGOT the cauliflower, and they were still yummy, also sans the jalapeno.

10: Summer salad (especially if you have zucchini growing in your garden): http://www.marthastewart.com/1014032/quinoa-salad-zucchini-mint-and-pistachios

11: Easy peasy: http://iowagirleats.com/2014/10/15/caramelized-sweet-potato-kale-fried-wild-rice/

12: These pita “gyros” are quite good.  Although I STRONGLY recommend buying the Tzaziki.  Making this one is a BEAST in my opinion compared to standing in a store, literally moving your arm towards a container in the refrigerated section, grasping it with your hands and then letting it go near your cart.  Sweet girls first instruction on, “the worlds best tzaziki” was “1. Strain yogurt using a cheesecloth or coffee filter for 30 minutes to 3 hours to remove some moisture.” Followed by mine:

  1. Cry.
  2. Try to get soul back into body.
  3. Buy tzaziki from the store.

http://www.liveeatlearn.com/roasted-chickpea-gyros/

Well my friends, being an ENFP, compiling that list in any sense of order about did me in.  I did it for YOU though, because I like you, and vegetables.  And vegetables are good for you and I.  And we should all eat a little more sometimes, but not all the time.  Sometimes we should eat chocolate.

Bandwagons and a Smoothie Review

I’m just going to start out by saying I am a fan of bandwagons.  Whether they are a real bandwagon or I make them up and get other people to join me is besides the point.  When I get excited about something new, I’m ALL IN.  I’m not saying my bandwagons are always current either, it could have been a bandwagon in the 70’s and if I just discovered it, it may as well be from the future (Bill and Ted style) I’m so stoked.

Recent bandwagons I’ve hopped onto partially or completely: the plant strong/vegan bandwagon, the essential oils bandwagon (that stuff smells amazing!), the all natural bandwagon, the homemade house cleaner bandwagon, the smoothie bandwagon, the gardening bandwagon, the buying stuff that benefits other people bandwagon (Toms, Noonday, Three Strands, Orgins Coffee).  I could go on.

Bandwagons are stinkin’ awesome because everyone on them is like, “YEAH! OUR BANDWAGON IS THE BEST!”   Apparently I like it when other people around me are enthusiastic about the same thing.

I totally get that bandwagons fade, because you can’t be on very many at once.  You have to get off one to jump onto another.  It’s possible that I  jump from two or three bandwagons to two or three more, every couple of years, with little easy ones in between.  I’m thinking about jumping onto fitness bandwagon, but we shall see, it’s still just in thought form and that one has been around FOR-ever!

On to the fun stuff!  I gave myself a time limit on writing today (because Davin and I have jumped on the yard work bandwagon).

I am on the smoothie bandwagon.  I’ve been making smoothies for about two years now, but for Valentine’s day my husband gave me a super fancy blender.  Things just got way better in my smoo-me (as the kids say it) world, they actually are drinkable through a regular straw. Prior to this I was using a Cuisinart food processor… sad face.

Here’s the thing about smoothies; there are like 3.5 million smoothie recipes out there.  My blender even came with a giant cookbook and like 1/4 of it was smoothies.  BUT, it is super lame slash borderline infuriating when I take a bunch of precious time to make a smoothie and it tastes like a compost heap or is pointless health wise.  I get that I can blend up ice cream and chocolate chips and that will taste delicious, I know how to make things JUST taste good, but that’s not the point of a smoothie in my mind.  I’m referring to an ACTUAL healthy breakfast, with like natures vitamins and stuff.  The general point of a smoothie in my mind is to:

1) Taste delicious

2) Make me feel and actually be healthy, add good choices to my day

3) An easy way to eat vegetables that take too long to cook/prepare or are boring as salad everyday

4) throw in some healthy greens to the beginning of my day to get me energized in a way that Lucky Charms won’t.

A smoothie is not a side drink to a meal in my mind either.  It IS the meal.  Smoothies also don’t generally tide you over till lunch.  I typically need an early lunch at like 11:30 or a snack till late lunch.

Now that you are real clear if we are on the same smoothie page, let’s continue.  My point of this post and any smoothie posts that follow is to review only smoothies I would make myself on a regular basis, which is why you will probably only see a few, because I repeat them.

The first one is from Oh She Glow’s sister page, The Green Monster Movement.  Here is the link to the smoothie page, it is the third drink down titled, “‘Amazing’ Cantaloupe-Banana Green Monster”

I feel like putting the actual smoothie recipe here would be blog-world cheating, and since I don’t know all those rules yet, I’ll just let you click the link and have the recipe there.  Here is the review and modifications:

‘Amazing’ Cantaloupe-Banana Green Monster” Review

This smoothie is mild and goes down easy.  It’s a good starter in the world of healthy smoothies.  The cantaloupe gives a surprisingly refreshing aftertaste to each sip.  I prepped my cantaloupe the day prior and froze it because it was starting to rot/mold on my counter and I love freezing as many ingredients as possible before I make a smoothie.  My bananas were already chopped and frozen as well.

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What-up freezer organization? I did this yesterday, and I am so proud, like almost as proud as I would be if I had taken 7th in the biathlon at the Winter Olympics. I like using dollar store Tupperware because if I crack it from stabbing at a banana configuration, I’m like, “oh wells that sucker was only 25 cents!”

I didn’t have any wheatgrass, and I tried that once at a Jamba Juice and said never again, so that was left out.

I did however add olive leaf extract because it’s another bandwagon I’m testing out.

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Reviews: so far I favor the now brand (alcohol-free and Amazon prime) is better than the Elliott’s which has 45-55% grain alcohol. It also smells like nature and looks thicker.

I doubled the original recipe and added extra almond milk (the Trader Joe’s Original) to thin it out a bit.

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One of TWO almond milks I will actually drink or use.  TJ’s Original tastes the least like almonds and most like cows milk.

It took two go-arounds on the smoothie setting with some extra milk sloshed in on the top to thin it even more.  This fed both Davin and I, and made little cups for the kids.  I like this one because one serving is 3 cups of spinach!  THREE!  Foloic acid all up in He-Ah.  And, bananas and cantaloupe are good for us and not tooooo terribly high in sugar.  It also was BRIGHT green, which made me even more happy to drink it.

So if you’re thinking about jumping on this bandwagon, this one is an easy start.  I’m going to add one of my favorites in a day or two, so keep an eye out for that if you like chocolate and pretend milkshakes.

As always, thanks for reading.

fast food. (this one is ACTUALLY about food!)

Sometimes, I think I’m like Oprah, and that everyone wants to know my favorite things.

I personally, think my favorite things are awesome – hence their title.

So today, dear reader, I give you – a (*mostly) vegan fast food recipe, that you put together yourself in about ten minutes.

It’s not made from scratch, in fact it’s not even 100% plant strong super duper healthy times.  But I’d say it’s pretty  healthy (by which I mean it’s better for you then a fast food burger or something) and it tastes AMAZING.  We (meaning my husband and I) eat this a few times a week for lunch.  Now that you’ve all recognized that I’m obviously a nutritionalist… on to the recipe!

Fancy iphone photos included!

Garlic Naan Wraps with Cold Green Grapes

(serves 2)  (baby/toddler version on bottom)

try not to be jealous of my awesome photography skills in capturing the deliciousness of this entire meal.
Try not to be jealous of my awesome photography skills in capturing the deliciousness of this entire meal.

(you don’t have to be super familiar with Naan to try this one – I promise, it sounds super foreign, but it’s not that crazy)

What you’ll need: (veggies can be added to or interchanged at your will)

  • 2 Garlic Naan (they sell this frozen at TJ’s, or fresh at Whole Foods) among MANY places (we freeze the wf kind) *THE NOT COMPLETELY VEGAN PART)
  • 4 generous tablespoons of Hummus (I use basil pesto hummus, my husband likes garlic hummus)
  • 1/2 a diced avocado
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 or 2 diced green onion (remove root looking part – I know, I’m a chef with that specific direction)
  • 1/4 cucumber or zucchini (about 3 inches)
  • 1/2 bell pepper (yellow, orange or red for the sweetness)
  • baby kale mix (or other green leafy vegetable)
  • 1 smallish tomato
  • 1 Morning Star, Grillers Vegan
  • Few shakes of salt (optional)
  • bunch of COLD green grapes from the fridge (if you put these in the fridge when you get home from buying them at the store, they might be cold when you make this the next day or whatever).
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Award winning photography.

Instructions: if you want the quick version because you’re very hungry, just read the bold, if you want to hear commentary and tips, read all of it.

Toast two garlic naan in toaster oven, flat side towards toaster heating apparatus, or on the driveway if you live in Dasht-e Lut, Iran (the hottest place on earth).  Chop your veggies.  Just don’t forget about your naan – set the timer or something.

Dice your avocado by slicing it in half, ninja chop the seed (carefully!) and then turn it clockwise out with your knife, it will come right out.  Do not do this if it doesn’t feel safe, do not.  Leave the fruit inside and slice it horizontally, then vertically, use spoon to scrape it out.  Save the other half by putting the seed back in it’s placing and plastic bag it (try to get all the air out), refrigerate.

Slice your green onion.  Make baby triangles out of your cucumber or zucchini.  Slice the whole bell pepper and slice the other half of bell pepper into long pieces for a snack to dip into hummus later.  For some reason if my veggies are already cut in the fridge, I’m more likely to eat them for a snack.

I even chop the greens, because I don’t think I look particularly cute pulling a giant piece of lettuce into my mouth with my tongue like a giraffe, just sayin’.

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She’s cute though, she can get away with it.  She hail’s from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado.

Dice your tomato.

Cook your single Morning Star, Grillers Vegan as directed on the box. (assuming you did not buy it on the vegan black market and not get the box), once cooked, dice it up.

Bust out that hummus and plaster the those naan on the non-toasted side.  Add 1/2 your ingredients down the center of one naan, then repeat with the second.  Leave the avocado and tomato for the top so you can salt it a bit (optional)

Chomp chomp!  Done.

Baby/Toddler version:

Some kiddos are more likely to eat something if they’ve picked it out.  I pull out the reusable cupcake liners (amazon has fancy colors) and let the kids fill three or four with their choice of veggies.  I typically put out: cherry tomatoes, sliced raw zucchini, sliced raw cucumber, sliced carrots, diced avocado and green onion and bell pepper.  Then I put a spoonful of their hummus of choice in a cupcake liner and let them dip their veggies.  Once they’ve eaten a decent amount of veggies, (or in one of my children’s cases, eaten the hummus by dipping all four fingers and scooping it into his or her mouth like a giant human hand spoon), I give them 1/2 a slice of toasted garlic naan and some grapes.

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This child was the ONLY one who enjoyed the roasted beets and carrots I made a few weeks ago. It was NOT-delicious.  It was NOT.

For the baby, I chop the veggies up SUPER small, and drop them onto a plastic plate already smeared in hummus on the bottom, (kinda like it’s a pizza), as she picks them up, she gets both veggie and hummus.  I then hold my breath and hope she eats some more of them.  I also put strips of garlic naan out for her.  My kids even as babies liked lots of different flavors, so I never did the “no seasonings” thing.  Slice grapes into millions of pieces, and only feed them to baby’s who have all of their teeth, and then some more, and can pronounce the word, “especially” with ease and perfection.  Totally kidding, but grapes can be SUPER dangerous choking hazards if your kiddo is little, so seriously, dice and dice – it takes tons of hours and it 100% worth it to keep your baby safe 😉

This advice is useless however if you have kids who drop food on the floor, and then the baby goes for second breakfast hobbit style and finds them wholly in tact.  That’s why I always keep these links handy, and have printed versions for my baby-sitter binder in case I freeze up in a panic and forget what to do.

The Mayo Clinic on Choking

Heimlich on Child

Heimlich on an Infant

Thanks for reading!

The simplicities of eating Plant Strong

Although I am primarily a plant strong (mostly vegan) eater, you might occasionally find a piece of pizza in my hands with cheese on it – that being said, I’m not a legalist, but I cook plant strong at home.

So, from time to time I have to laugh at the way some of the recipes I come across read to me.  Here is a sample, from my own imagination, of what I’ve encountered when venturing into new plant strong recipe lands…

Recipe: Super healthy vegan crab-cakes with clam and buffalo meat sauce chilled soup (vegan)

Recipe Cook time: (91 days, plus gathering and cooking time), so about under 30 minuets

Serves: 12 people, unless you eat like a normal person, then about 3 persons or 5 cats

Ingredients:

Garden Fresh 90 day ripened Roma tomatoes

Nutritional Yeast (this is in EVERYTHING and is a terrible fake cheese substitute comprised of lies)

Unicorn Dust

Tempeh

vegan sausage crumbles

hoisin sauce

tamari

tahini

beans (soaked overnight, then cooked for hours)

Plain Soy Yogurt

Step one:

Plant your own tomato garden, harvest fresh 90 day ripened ROMA tomatoes (if they were not grown in your own backyard, with organic materials, and you harvested on day 91, don’t even bother with this recipe, it won’t work – your life is a waste of time).

Step two:

Create cheeze sauce from nutritional yeast and unicorn dust.  Unicorn Dust is typically found at your local natural food co-op located just 45 miles outside of town and is open for exactly three hours during some days when you get there it is usually closed.  It’s also easy to find this rare ingredient at your local Asian foods store that is too small for a children’s stroller and everything is in spanish (why??), good luck.  Mix the two together on stove in small ceramic pot (not teflon, teflon is for animal haters and people who don’t care about their health – fools)

Step three:

Crumble tempeh and mix with hoisin sauce, you don’t know what hoisin sauce and tempeh are because no one cares about them, but you should, and you do now.  Spend exactly twenty-three hours in Whole Foods looking for both of these items while at least one of your children cries the entire time (or they take turns), once you find them smile at your good fortune and high intelligence.

Step four:

Put tahini in something.  You can make your own tahini and should with millions of sesame seeds in a food processor.  It’s easy if you loves messes and being a mass food production person because you have so much time on your hands already from cooking from scratch, looking for unheard of ingredients and raising small children on a plant strong diet.  McDonald’s is basically a swear word in your home.

Step five:

Soak your beans overnight.  You have a perfect memory for doing this with three small children running around your house, after you’ve cleaned up all the messes, put them to bed and finished your Pilaites-yogos, you are now ready to remember to prepare your overnight oats, and soak your beans.  You would never forget this because you already remember what you’re cooking for dinner tomorrow night because you are that organized in your life.  Then, cook your beans in a crock pot for hours and hours the next day, do not forget about them and burn them while enjoying your easy life.  Disregard the fact that they sell fully cooked beans in a can at the grocery store for 79 cents, and you can just wash off the extra sodium in a strainer.  DISREGARD THAT FACT.

Step six:

Recover from the emotional trauma of debating the soaking your beans process vs. buying a simple can of pre-cooked beans.  Locate plain soy yogurt at your local grocery.  Never-mind the fact that the main manufacture of plain and vanilla soy yogurt (WholeSoy) is under some sort of company reconstruction and soy yogurt is now only being sold on the vegan black market, so it’s pretty much unattainable unless you are a plant strong monk, or look like this guy. (“Borrowed” from the Reuters website;)HareKrishnaYou can substitute with coconut yogurt (which gives all your food a coconut taste), or almond yogurt, which is acceptable, but no soy yogurt mind you.

Step seven:

Blend everything together in a VitaMix (they cost 6 bajillion dollars, but are on sale at Costco).  Blend for awhile, the soup will heat itself through the intense blending process, serve in handmade bowls of wicker.  Enjoy.