Monday, April 27, 2015

Weekend of Eating All the Food

Finally, AP and I are both back to 100%.  This past weekend we celebrated our good health by going out and Eating All the Things.  Even though the weather report cautioned rain on Saturday, it was a gorgeous weekend, so we spent a good deal of time outside enjoying our last California spring.

Friday night I peaced out of work early and met up with AP at Quinto Sol for kick-ass margaritas.  I got the enmolatas which are vegan as-is on the menu.  I love their mole sauce, but I'm always afraid to recommend it to others.  NorCal folks take their mole seriously.

I could drink this sauce with a straw, mmmmm......
On Saturday morning, we woke up early and trained into Oakland for the first ever Oakland VegFest!  I'd never been to Lake Merritt amphitheater before and didn't realize it was basically a small open park- I'd been expecting it to be bigger, and enclosed.  I have to say it was a pleasant surprise; it was a very laid back setup and the view was gorgeous.

Beautiful view, crappy pics, my bad. 
We got there before the 11am start time so we were able to score one of the goodie bags they were giving away.  Free samples, whoot!  I loved the Beanfields chips- the volunteer gave me a fistful of coupons that I can't wait to try out.

WTF am I supposed to do with the coffee flavored "mylk"? Anyone?
Since it was a small event, we'd seen what there was to see fairly quickly.  AP was getting hungry and cranky, so we headed down to Jack London Square to one of his fave restaurants, Souley Vegan.

AP's plate: southern fried tofu with ranch, mac and cheese, rice and beans.  The mac sauce is a basic nutritional yeast concoction that we are both fans of, although this batch went a little heavy on the garlic powder.  Still delish though.

My plate: BBQ tofu, collards, mashed potatoes and gravy.  These collards were insanely good.  I just ordered them to get a green veggie on my plate, but I was beyond impressed.

We weren't hungry for dinner until about 8.30pm, so I threw together a salad.  Gardein chicken strips, toasted tortilla strips, southwest blend, and spicy marcona almonds.  For the dressing, I mixed vegan ranch and BBQ sauce.

A salad that AP actually enjoyed.
AP was getting pouty about the lack of vegan baked goods in our home and in Starbucks (his home away from home).  I decided to test out the Pinterest trend of soda cupcakes.  You take a box of cake mix (Duncan Hines has a ton of vegan ones) and instead of adding the eggs, oil, water, whatever, you just mix in a can of soda.  Coke for chocolate cakes, lemon-lime for vanilla cakes.  I used a Duncan Hines devil's food and a can of diet coke.  They turned out pretty good- AP liked them better than regular cupcakes.  Fluffier.

I just bought a can of frosting to top them with, because laziness.
On Sunday morning, I tried out another cheater recipe, canned biscuit donuts.  This one turned out pretty good as well!  The dough wasn't as sweet as traditional donut dough, but I counted that as a plus.

I used the recipe off the Pillsbury website, with some changes- I used the regular sized biscuits instead of Grands (so they'd be mini sized- also they cooked in about 10 seconds per side), I coated them with powdered sugar rather than granulated, and for the icing I halved the recipe and used 1/4 c Nucoa margarine and 1/4 c coconut oil.

How cute are these??
Pups and I did take a break from our gluttony to get some nice walks in around town.  We also found the time to stalk some geese.

Not pictured: six geese flying frantically into the bushes.

Soon, ducks... soon...

Lunch on Sunday was sandwiches from the place across the street.  They have a ton of veggie meats, but I kept mine simple with a veggie-only version.

Lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, mushrooms, marinated artichokes and a little soy cheese.
We finished off our weekend with the traditional Sunday evening pizza.  Routine is the best way to end a week of adventure. 

BBQ sauce, Follow Your Heart mozzarella, pineapple, chopped up Field Roast patty and scallions.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Keeping it Simple

It seems that we are nearing the end of the pneumonia epidemic that swept through our house, leaving havoc and destruction in its wake.  I'm pretty much back to normal, and AP is slowly regaining his strength,  He's highly irritated that he was not able to bounce back in 24 hours or less, as per his usual M.O., but at least now he is able to work on his dissertation and other various nerdy academic projects.  Some people work to live (holla), but that dude lives to work, even though his work annoys the crap out of him.  Academia, you are a conundrum.

Of course, even in our weakened state, we were able to celebrate National Grilled Cheese day! We had Field Roast Chao slices, spinach, and spicy mustard on sourdough, with oven fries and plenty of Vegenaise and ketchup for dipping.

Pups in the background, plotting his grilled cheese heist.
I attempted to make Indian food, as I was craving tofu makhani, which is rarely seen on a takeout menu.  Everything looked amazing, smelled divine, and tasted... bland.  It was ok, it just wasn't Indian food. AP ate it to be polite... but the next evening we sprung for takeout and got to enjoy the real deal.

So colorful, so meh.
The above disaster combined with my insane work schedule convinced me to keep it simple the rest of the week.  Gardein tenders and oven fries to the rescue!

Cajun seasoning on the tenders FTW
Another easy vegan meal is mac and cheese!  There are a ton of vegan cheeses on the market- and these days, they're actually good.  However, personally I love a good nutritional yeast based sauce.  I use a tweaked version of the Minute Man sauce from the Ultimate Uncheese cookbook.  It's one of AP's favorites, and he actually prefers it to most other mac and cheeses, even back when we ate dairy.

I buy the little 7 oz bags of La Moderna pasta at the grocery store (they're usually in the "Hispanic Foods" aisle).  About 1/2 cup of sauce coats this amount of pasta nicely.

Shells are the best mac and cheese shape, obvi.
Another easy meal- the often overlooked baked potato.  It's just the two of us, so instead of waiting for the oven to heat up to bake one tiny potato, I just tossed it in the toaster over.  I chopped up a Field Roast sausage and sauteed it with some frozen Southwest blend, seasoned with salt, pepper, chili powder and smoked paprika.  That went on top of the potato, along with some vegan sour cream.  

That Southwest blend is awesome, by the way.  I put it in quesadillas, on nachos, in enchiladas, and on salads. It's perfect for lazy, quick meals.

Potato and salad.  Boring? I think not.
Today for lunch, it was 70 degrees in the apartment. Too hot to cook, and the place I wanted to pick up lunch from is closed on Sundays.  Augh!!!  Instead, I picked up some dips and nibbles while I was out shopping and threw together a mezza plate.  Salad with pico de gallo, hummus, baba ghanoush, spicy marcona almonds and fresh pickles.  Served with fluffy pita.  Devoured by AP in 2 minutes.

I'm officially on a pickle kick. It's gonna get intense.
Today is Sunday, pizza night.  I had a tiny bit of Daiya, Chao and Follow Your Heart cheeses to use up, so I made a three cheese pie on a homemade herb crust.  I use tomato paste rather than sauce- more of a flavor punch.

Crispy crust to let the toppings shine.
I did allow myself to get a little creative for breakfast this weekend.  This recipe for banana oat pancakes appeared in my inbox early in the week, and I dreamed about it each night until I was able to try it out.  I am usually a pancake ruiner (I can't flip 'em for anything), but this recipe worked out perfectly and deliciously. 

So healthy, until I loaded them with Earth Balance and maple syrup :P

A tried and true recipe, cinnamon rolls!  I prepped these on Saturday night, and let them rise in the fridge  overnight.  Popped them in the oven on Sunday morning while we snoozed, and devoured them once we were coherent enough to slather icing on them.

Icing makes everything perfect.

Pups and I have been back to our regular kick-ass walks.  He's been tuckered out at the end of the day, as have I.  It's insane how fast you lose muscle and stamina- two weeks of being sick had me sore after a two mile walk as if I'd hiked half the Appalachian trail.

Happy Pup :D
Luckily I have the best workout buddy, who doesn't let me give up and encourages me every step of the way.  Huskamutes are the best personal trainers.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Healthy Vegan Friday- Breakfast Chow

Just as I was starting to feel better, AP decided to run out and pick up the flu.  Just to keep things interesting around here.  He's out for the count and I'm getting worn down again, and crossing all the fingers and toes that I don't come down with his plague.  And so, we venture into our fourth weekend in a row filled with naps, Netflix and takeout.

However, I'm definitely well enough to participate in Healthy Vegan Fridays this week!  This week I'm sharing AP's breakfast.  I make a batch of this granola every Sunday, and he eats it for breakfast all week long.  If you've been granola shopping recently, you know how ridiculously expensive it is.  $8 for a little bag of oats???  Not on my watch. 

My recipe is based on this one, but pared down and spiced up a bit.  With crappier pictures.

Peanut Butter Breakfast Chow
1/2 cup PB2 powder (you can use regular peanut butter or almond butter if preferred)
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup
1.5 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla
1-2 teaspoon garam masala, depending on how much zing you want.
6 cups rolled oats

Dump everything except the oats into a huge bowl, and stir until fully combined.

PB2!  I love how it blends in sauces, much smoother compared to regular nut butters.

That's the good stuff. 
Once everything is combined.give it a taste, make sure you like it. Then add in the oats; add 3 cups, stir until fully coated, then add the other 3 cups and stir until it's all uniformly peanut buttery.

Leave no oat uncoated.
Spread the chow on a nonstick pan, and toss into a 350F oven.

Make sure it's spread out evenly. 
Let the granola go for about 15 minutes, then take it out and stir it so it doesn't burn.  Put it back in for another 10 minutes or so.  Keep an eye on it- every oven is different!  My oven takes 15 minutes, stir, 5 minutes, stir, 5 minutes, done.  It's an old crappy oven though, so your mileage may vary.


Bam! A week's worth of fancy granola for pennies.  I even got a swank cereal box from Ikea.

Suck it Whole Foods.
That's all I got this week- hopefully by next week this family will be back in full swing.  Or at least weaned off our humidifier addiction.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Back from the Dead

Well well well, time flies when you are bedridden and doped up on sizzurp.

I've been sequestered in the house for the last two weeks, allowed out only to be poked and prodded by various doctors.

Thoroughly irritated.

Hiding my face from the paparazzi
It started out as just a virus, but thanks to my shitty compromised immune system it quickly upgraded to full-blown pneumonia.  As awesome as the Humira is for keeping my AS symptoms in check, it makes it a hell of a lot easier for non-serious shit to morph into crazy shit.

I managed to avoid hospitalization thanks to my wonderful nurse AP, who diligently monitored my breathing, but it was pretty gnarly.  I was sleeping sitting upright on the couch and couldn't go 5 feet from the humidifier.

Today was the first day I've left the house at all since Tuesday's rheumotologist trip.  We grabbed a zip car, ran some errands, and then swung by Veggie Grill for some grub.  I haven't been eating anything substantial while I've been sick, so it was super exciting to sit down to a healthy, delicious meal!

Bombay bowl!  Kale, quinoa, roasted veggies, beans and green curry sauce.  Not pictured: a piece of chocolate chip cookie and a kickass strawberry lemonade.
Tonight I'll be making lazy pizza for dinner.  Thaw some frozen homemade dough, top with sauce, vegan cheese and veggies, and you're good to go.  It's a small step but it's nice to be getting back to normal.  Once I stop wheezing and am back to my daily Pup walks, I'll be much happier.

Um... what?

Leave me alone, I'm waiting for Daddy to come home.

For once I don't ruin my mom's picture with a grouch-face.
I will miss the extra cuddles he's been giving me.  Even though they've all been a ruse to try and eat my used tissues, I've been enjoying them.