25 October 2012

Minneapolis: Christos

If you're anything like me, you're wondering why the hell I forgot to put the apostrophe in Christos in the title and it's preventing you from taking me seriously right now because I just did it again.  Well.  Look at this picture.  There IS no apostrophe.  And you know what?  It's because... because! ... because the singular nominative form of Greek nouns always ends in -os!  There.  I said it.  Now you know.  And now I'm trying once again to repress my memories of college-level Ancient Greek.  UGH.  I mean I love the idea of the language, but learning it kicked my patootie into the Dark Ages.

Happily, eating Greek is much less full of nerdly stress than reading Greek.

2632 Nicollet Ave S
Minneapolis, MN  55408
(612) 871-2111

Christos will immediately charm your mouth open.  The space is full of strings of soft, sweet lights and the white walls are peppered with bright blue images of Greece.  Matt and I played hangman on the paper table protector before Mom arrived.  He gave me a long one.  It turned out to be "Want to go see Frankenweenie tomorrow?"  OMG SO ROMANTIC, RIGHT?  (Not totally sold on this movie idea I mean could it have a worse title?  The things we do for love.)

We started with the Dip Sampler for $9.45 - which comes with INCREDIBLE pita.  I'd even say it's as good as It's Greek to Me's.  Cakey, moist, and tasty even through the flavors of each spread.  The stuff is probably what they dip into ambrosia on Mount Olympus or something.  The pita was the clear winner of the entire dish, though the hummus pulled up in a close second - it's the second from the left up there.  It had a strong tahini taste, but like the other spreads it didn't lack for garlic.  The melintzanosalata - the gray one - was super smoky!  I'm not clear on how they do that to eggplant, 'cause I'm pretty sure they don't use liquid smoke.  And the skordalia at the top had a more subtle garlic flavor that allowed a little of that mashed potato taste to surface.  It didn't quite measure up to IGtM's skordalia.  Then there's the dairy-yogurt-filled tzatziki sauce.  Let your dinner compatriots field that one, or ask your server to leave it out.

My appetizer portion of Dolmathes at $6.65 included three large stuffed grape leaves and some sizable, yet easily removable chunks of feta.  You can certainly order yours without - or your spouse might slurp them up for you.  The dolmades contained herbed rice, parsley, and scallions, and were doused with lemon juice and olive oil.  Once again, I must say that although these puppies were delish with a grainy, brothy, dry thing going on, they were just not as amazing as IGtM's dolmades.  Sorry, Christos.  Favorite, but less favorite.

Now what you NEED to order, muffins, is the Falafel Sandwich for $6.25.  It's filling, cheap, and GAWL is it delicious.  The pita pocket comes stuffed with perfectly fried falafel and fresh, tangy tabouleh.  Drizzle your tahini sauce on and you've got yourself the best falafel sandwich this side of the Mississippi.  It's properly moist, warm, deeply flavored, and so satisfying.

So eating my way up Nicollet is alright.  I mean I guess I kind of am in love with all the restaurants I've eaten at so far.  What's next?  Peninsula?  Maybe.  What's your fave?  ... Don't say Black Forest Inn.  Unless you want me to eat wiener schnitzel and blow chunks all down Eat Street.  FUN!

21 October 2012

recipe: Greek greens and beans

Brunch is a magical time when both savory and sweet foods are acceptable.  It's also a great excuse to have second breakfast.  I asked Matt which he'd like - savory or sweet - and he couldn't decide, so I made pancakes AND this yummy Greek thing.

It's been 6 years since I've been to Athens, but I remember the food with crystal clarity.  It was incredible.  There were zero bad restaurants.  I don't know how that's possible, but Greece is Greece.  When life hands you a lemon, you make a freaking incredible dinner that will blow tourists' socks off and haunt them for years as they constantly search for another meal as perfect but never quite find it.  (Wow, depressing.  HAHA YAY FOOD)  One of the dishes I got there was made with butter beans and this magic sauce with flavors of lemon and dill that really popped - and here is my best effort at recreating it.

Greek Greens and Beans
GF - 25 minutes - serves 4 as side

Olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1t oregano
1t thyme
1t dill
1/2t paprika
1/2t coriander
1/2t salt
Few dashes freshly-ground black pepper
1/2c white wine
1c water or veggie broth
1lb collards or other greens, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 can butter beans, rinsed and drained
Juice of 2 lemons

Throw a little oil in a large skillet or wok and put it on medium heat.  Toss in your onion and sautee until translucent (right), about 5 minutes.  Chop your collards while you're waiting!  Add the garlic to the onion and sautee for another minute.  Then go on a mad dash to dump in all the spices along with the salt and pepper at the same time.  Or, if you measure things, put everybody in a little dish ahead of time so you can just slip the spices in all together.

I love this part: pour in the wine.  Watch it bubble.  Turn your heat up and let it reduce for 3 minutes, then add your water or broth.

Once everybody's boiling, you can start putting your collards in the wok.  If they all fit at the same time, great!  If not, stick them in by the handful and wait for them to wilt a little before adding more.  Stir them up so the onions, garlic, and spices are distributed relatively evenly (left).  Then you just need to let them steam for 5 minutes, tops.  They should be limp and dark (below), but not brownish.  Brownish means you've gone too far and you need to turn the heat off like 60 seconds ago.

If you're using a different sort of greens, follow the same rules but watch the cooking time.  Collards take a little longer than most others, so make sure you don't overcook.

Lower the heat and mix in the beans and lemon juice.  Give that 3 minutes to let the flavors disperse, then turn off your stove and serve immediately.  Or, serve immediately after you drain the liquid out, which is an unnecessary step but makes your dish look a little nicer.

If you want to make this a main course, just whip up a grain to go with it and add it at the end with the beans and lemon juice.  Brown rice, quinoa, or polenta would be delish.  Alternately, serve alongside a grain and you have yourself a meal.

Or with a pancake.  That's a grain.  It's totally a grain.  Like, with Earth Balance and stuff.  Sure.

I used whole wheat pastry flour, okay?!  And didn't cross the streams.*

* A colloquialism for not putting the two foods on one plate at the same time.  A colloquialism that I made up.  So... not really a colloquialism.

19 October 2012

Minneapolis: Quang Restaurant

Remember that time I had Vietnamese in Mankato?

... I'm sorry, let me start over.  Remember that time I had inauthentic mediocre vaguely Asian cuisine that was for some reason labelled Vietnamese in Mankato?  Kay.  Well this place is so much better.  I mean it's not even in the same ballpark.  Quang is authentic, full of local awards, popular, and not in Mankato.  Yay!

Sorry, 'Kato.

Quang Restaurant
2719 Nicollet Ave S
Minneapolis, MN  55408
(612) 870-4739

The dinner menu says vegan next to only 2 items - Goi Cuan Chay spring rolls and Hu Tieu Chay noodle soup.  We asked our server about other menu items that appeared vegan, but were merely labeled veggie.  She confirmed that the two veggie Platters are indeed vegan.  As long as the menu item you're eyeing is vegetarian and doesn't look like there's egg in it, you'll be home free.  You can always ask if you're not sure.

I started with 209. Nuoc Dua Tuoi - coconut water with coconut flesh.  3 bucks.  Every time I drink coconut water the first words that pop into my head are acquired taste.  That happened here, except... the more I drank, the better I liked the cool, savory, refreshing flavor.  Apparently I have a very discriminating palate when it comes to coconut water.  So true coconut* water enthusiasts: try this stuff.  I, um, think it's good.  Or something.

Matt also thoroughly enjoyed his 208. Soda Chanh - freshly-squeezed strawberry limeade for $3.  He'd like you to know there are real strawberry slices in the drink, and the server gives you a bubble tea ginormo-straw to suck 'em up.  (You can order bubble tea here, if you're into that kind of thing.  Oh, but... wait.  I'm going to need to return to Quang so I can ascertain whether their bubble tea is vegan.  OH DARN.)  Matt wanted me to taste his limeade so badly.  I declined because there was sugar in it.  In retrospect...  I don't even really like strawberries, so no big loss.

I don't even really like SUGAR, so.

YES OKAY I know I'm a little weird.  I want to pretend I don't want to get off topic, but I don't crave sweet things like, ever anymore.  I'm telling you.  You too can free yourself from the sugar addiction! [/slightly uncomfortable tangent]

So these 103. Goi Cuon Chay vegetarian spring rolls were only $3.50 and so extraordinary!  Usually spring rolls are a relatively ho-hum combo of unflavorful fresh veggies you have to dip in a sauce that's too sweet.  These bad boys were full of exciting textures and contrasts!  The thick, peanutty brown sauce made each bite super delicious.  Did I mention there's fried tofu involved?  It got to the point where suddenly the spring rolls had disappeared, but our table was inexplicably like 20% dirtier.  In our haste to cram every last morsel into our mouths, we'd unwittingly dropped a few bits of tofu onto the tabletop.  I shamelessly chopstick'd them up, dunked them in sauce, and slid them down my gullet.

My 406. Com Chay platter - $8 of mock duck, tofu, rice, and salad - was perfectly done.  There was a very layered smoky, deep, grilled flavor that penetrated each bite all the way to the center.  Tones of garlic threaded through the dish.  It came with a little bowl of soy sauce mixed with sugar and lime, which I used on the rice.  That was okay.  But the mock duck is where it's at.

Not sure whose meal I liked better, mine or Matt's.  He ordered the 417. Dau Hu Xao Ot Chuon for 8 bucks - bell peppers, tofu, and "broken rice."  I don't know who broke that rice, but nobody broke the tofu, that's for sure.  It took me forever to get the picture of my mock duck to take correctly, so Matt fed a piece of his tofu to me while I struggled.  And I was blown away!  I'm sure I looked awesome, half standing on my toes, half kneeling on the seat of the booth during the height of the dinner hour, batting my hair out of the way of the lens with a piece of food in my mouth as I lowered the camera, looked at Matt, and said, "Holy swears.  That is incredible."

It's got all this tangy spicy chili flavor jiving with the super well-cooked tofu, crispy bell peppers, and tasty onions.  The tofu was so well-cooked, in fact, that it took one full minute of both Matt and I pulling in opposite directions on a piece of it with our chopsticks before it broke apart.

We're good at sharing.  And don't tell anyone we broke the tofu.

Before you take up your table for another hot second - because I promise, somebody else wants it - know that once your server hands you the check, that's your cue to trot yourself up to the front counter to pay.  Take a moment while the guy is running your card to admire the very green-tinted photographs of their lunch sandwich menu on the wall.

Now you're full!  You can go home and watch Star Trek for two hours!  ... That is what everyone else does after going out, right?

* In the referenced paragraph, I mistyped coconut in several ways, many of which I feel that I cannot share in public.

16 October 2012

ask alli: why don't you die during menstruation?

Nobody really asked me why I don't die during menstruation.  Unless you count me asking myself!  Which I apparently do.  It's nice to have an ego with whom you can keep yourself company.

Oh, um, disclaimer and stuff: dudes might want to sit this one out.  Do any guys even read my blog?  There'll be hardcore man-threatening heavy duty estrogen in this post.  It might make you less manly.*

Here we go!  Seriously.  Next sentence is going to involve blood coming out of my lady bits.

I used to have THE WORST periods.

No, you don't understand.  The.  WORST.

This was back before I was vegan.  I had awful cramps and a week-long flow that was just too heavy.  My emotional ups and downs gave me whiplash and tears.  Ugh.  And the worst part was the digestive mayhem.  There were at least 5 periods I clearly remember my body dealing with as if I'd had food poisoning.  Stuff came out both ends (once at the same time!).  And during the weeks I managed not to spend completely in the bathroom, I still felt like the chunks could bubble forth from my mouth at any second.  Not the best feeling.  Once a month I ranted to anyone who would listen about how much I wanted a hysterectomy and how biologically inefficient menstrual cramps and bleeding are.  (Well.  I mean.  THEY ARE.)

Then came my long relationship with oral contraceptives.  I didn't start taking the pill to avoid getting pregnant; I started taking it because my periods sucked and I wanted in on that plan where you have 9 weeks between cycles.  The fewer periods in my life, the better.  End of discussion.  It worked out well for a few years.

I came off the pill several months ago - just because I didn't want to be polluting my body with something as risky as hormones for too long.  You know, possible cancer and all that.  (Major props to Valynne, who knows everything about the female reproductive system and helped me realize how unnatural oral contraceptives are!)  Plus my periods, although still on the 9-week plan, had gotten bad.  I wondered what my vegan diet would do to my natural menstrual cycle.  The two had never collided.

And you know what?  My first period off the pill - and every single one since - was a piece of cake!  Seriously!  I get cramps, but mild ones.  So mild I haven't even looked at Midol.  No PMS whatsoever.  My flow is much improved.  I'd say about half of what it used to be.  I have one day of heavier bleeding and 2-3 days of light stuff, then it's over!  Not even a whole week!  On top of it all, I never feel like dying.  Not even a little.  I don't even feel like complaining that periods are a waste of blood and energy.

There's a reason for this magical change.  The Kind Diet divulges that dairy products are so full of artificially administered hormones that it does stuff like cause reproductive cancer and premature puberty in human females.  Well if dairy can cause such severe problems, of course it's also meddling with your monthly cycle.  Ever read Skinny Bitch?  (I recommend it - it's a totally fun, informational, and sassy vegan treatise.)  It explains how the average American diet with its meat, dairy, and junk has lots of fat in it.  (Duh.)  This fat ramps your estrogen levels up too much; but then during your period, estrogen makes itself scarce.  This swing in hormones is linked with all the crappy symptoms of menstruation.  Ew.

However, a vegan diet is statistically proven to reduce cramps, cravings, and bloating.  It's not just me having a fluke.  The fiber and low fat content of a vegan diet keeps your estrogen levels balanced throughout the entire month, period included.  It's pretty freaking amazing.

I'm glad we had this talk.  We bonded.  Isn't that simple?  Doesn't that just make so much sense?  Artificial, meaty, and dairy foods create your own personal hell on earth once a month.  A natural, healthy vegan diet gives you a natural, healthy period that doesn't suck.  And rainbows and sunshine will burst forth from your loins.

* SO TONGUE IN CHEEK OMG masculinity is funny get over yourselves.

13 October 2012

Minneapolis: Korea Restaurant

Open Gangnam Style!

Nah, not really Gangnam style.  Gangnam is way 80s glam.  (I mean they have a LUSH.  Not that that's indicative of 80s glam.  But I did get to mention LUSH again, so.  That's always good.)  Korea Restaurant is more Kwang Jang style.  Total hole in the wall.  Don't be scared!  Holes in the wall can have the BEST food.  I promise you won't even be afraid for your life.

Although, now that I think about it, if you were to make up a song and dance for this place, it's so crowded and cramped that the Gangnam Style choreography would be pretty much the only routine you could safely perform inside without knocking peoples' faces into their food.

Well if I don't think about these things, who WILL?!

Korea Restaurant
211 Oak/Beacon St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414
(612) 746-0559

It had been too long since I'd bibimbap!  That's the real reason I dragged Matt here on date night.  Good thing he was up for it.  There's a reason we call him Captain Adventure.

The place smelled fantastic and was jam-packed with couples and friends conversing in rapid Korean as they shoveled food into their mouths.  The place does counter service.  You order off the huge numbered menu on the wall, pay, wait for your number, then collect your food.  Easy peasy.  I was all, "Gamsa hamnida!" (thank you) and let me tell you, I was WAY more pleased with myself than the guy behind the register was.

Downside: only one vegetarian menu item.  Goon Mandu, fried vegetable dumplings for $7.49.  Do not despair, vegans!  This dish happens to be vegan, AND I had no trouble adding the simple words "no beef" to my Bibimbap (they spell it Bibim Bab) order, which wound up being $9.49.  You could make the same change to your choice of several other dishes and achieve your own vegan Korean nirvana.

So this Goon Mandu?  Um.  My vegan horizons were blown away.  The un-gross fried texture, the salty awesomesauce, and the extraordinary filling were incredible.  I scarfed one and a half of them before really rolling the texture around in my mouth.  Those little dried radishes in there were so unique!  They tasted like vegan stuffing, almost.  Gawl, those dumplings are good.  Eat them.

My Bibimbap rocked too, although it wasn't quite as tasty as the stuff AJ and Shelley fed me in Korea.  Check out all the fixings that came with it!  Soft, yummy eggplant, sweet potato, spicy kimchi, white rice, and a fun smoky-tasting salad that reminded me of BonDish.  There were other little dishes of things that were probably also vegan, but... I didn't want to take any chances.  I threw the above five sides into my bowl of mushrooms, greens, tofu, and other veggies, with some of the sweet-spicy chili sauce from the red bottle on the table, mixed it all up, and reveled in the delicious crunchy freshness.  There were like a grillion flavors in there, and every combination my chopsticks snagged on comprised another new taste explosion.*

Oh, um - don't forget to remove the fried egg from your Bibimbap.  That's like a thing.  If you're lucky like me, you can feed it to your spouse.  I just love Matt!  He takes beautiful pictures, goes to weird places with me, and even eats eggs!  What CAN'T he do?

Fly.  I have an inkling he might buy a jet-pack one day.  Just hope it's not the one from Arrested Development.

* First person to comment and tell me where the phrase taste explosion comes from (without having to look it up, srsly, who even are you) gets a hug.

12 October 2012

recipe: magenta winter soup

Know how beets have that beety taste?*  And how it's practically impossible to get around?  This soup solves that problem.  It's super yummy AND healthy - comfort food with a twist.  Many of the veggies are optional and/or can be substituted with other things.  But don't mess with the best: roasted garlic is the key.

Well.  I mean.  What ISN'T roasted garlic the key to?

A raise, it turns out.  Back to the drawing board on that one.

Magenta Winter Soup
GF - 75  minutes

Olive oil
1 bulb garlic
1 large yellow onion
3 large tomatoes (I used green tomatoes)
1 bulb kohlrabi
2 bell peppers
1 large or 2 small winter squash, peeled and seeded
2 large or 3 small beets, peeled
5c water
1c brown rice
1 can white beans (navy or cannellini), drained and rinsed
2T fresh or 2t dried rosemary
2T fresh or 2t dried sage
2t fennel seeds
Salt to taste
Juice of half a lemon
Few dashes freshly-ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 400F and line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Toss your rice and 2 cups of water into a saucepan with a little oil and salt and bring to a boil.  Once bubbling, turn down the heat and let that do its thing at a simmer for 50 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the water and become food.

While the rice is going, dress down your squash and beets.  Cut them into pieces no bigger than the palm of your hand, and yes, please do take depth into consideration.  If you have olive oil in a spray bottle, where have you been all my life?  Spray those suckers down on one of your baking sheets.  If not, brush or sprinkle the oil on.  You want a little on each piece, but not so much you have puddles on your parchment paper.  Adorn with a bit of salt, and throw them in the oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the rest of your veggies; get the onion, tomatoes, kohlrabi and bell peppers pared down to skinny bits that'll cook through quickly.  The shape doesn't matter - you'll puree them later.  Give these guys the same treatment with oil and salt across your other two baking sheets.

Grab your garlic.  Peel off as many of the papery layers as you can without tearing the cloves off the bulb, then chop the very top off.  You want to expose the tips of the cloves, so if you wind up slicing into them a bit that's fine.  Pour a little olive oil over the top of the bulb and wrap in tin foil, then place it on one of your baking sheets.  Stick both veggie-loaded sheets in the oven.  15 minutes.

Your squash and beets come out here - remove them from the oven and flip them, then place them back in for 30 minutes.

Do the same for your peppers, onion, garlic, tomato, and kohlrabi when they're ready, and put them in for 15 more minutes.  Now they should be done at about the same time as the beets and squash; if not, you can fudge a little and use one timer for both anyway.

While everybody's jamming in the oven, you can finely chop your fresh herbs, if using, and get your beans ready.  Your rice is probably done by now.  You can give it a stir.  Stare at it.  Stare at your cat, who's obviously on top of the fridge.  Stare to your heart's content.  Poke her cute little face.  Tell her she's the best little potato who ever meowed, yes you are!  Yes you are!  You have down time.  Yes you do!

When your timer goes off, check to see if any of your veggies are done.  The squash and beets will take the longest, but you put 'em in first, you clever chef.  They should give easily when you try to slice them in half with your turner.  Flip sufficiently squishy squash and beets into a large pot if you have an immersion blender; a food processor if you don't.  The garlic will be done, so take that out, unwrap the foil, and let it cool a little.  The peppers should collapse under their own weight and look like their skin's too big; the onions should be soft and almost translucent; and the tomatoes should have dried up a little.  The kohlrabi'll start looking translucent, too, and get soft.  If done, those bad boys go in the pot with the squash and beets.  If anybody needs to go back into the oven, give them 10 minutes at a time.

When you can handle the garlic without wanting to die, squeeze or unwrap each clove into the pot.  They'll be soft and easy to manage.  You are going to LOVE the way they make your soup taste.  There's a reason the Maori tribe invented garlic and began roasting it under giant magnifying glasses.

Once all the veggies are set and steaming up your pot, dump 3 cups of water in and grab your immersion blender.  Go to town.  Those of you with blenders or food processors instead may have to go in batches.

Set your beautiful magenta puree on the stove and turn the heat on low.  Add the cooked rice, beans, herbs, salt, and pepper.  Once it's achieved a volcano boil, switch off the heat and squeeze in your lemon juice.

Serve garnished with a sprig of fresh rosemary and a hunk of good crusty bread.  That's like a million food groups.  Eat your heart out.  It's like the same color as your soup.  COOL.  And that, boys and girls, is how you cook beets.

* Beety taste is actually a technical term, meaning, "I would rather eat celery for the rest of my life."  Unless you're Shelley.

09 October 2012

Bloomington: LUSH

Advanced Vegan Beauty.  This is a 300-level class, noobs.  (Sounds better than, "This is an ad for LUSH."  Which... it is MOVING ON.)

As of this moment, your only option in the Twin Cities for LUSH is that black hole of consumerism, the Mall of America.  LUSH is the only reason I ever go there.  That, and DSW.  But!  There's hope for us yet - a new LUSH will open soon at 50th and France in Edina.  One mile from my apartment.  Goodbye, paycheck!  Hello, seriously concerning vanity issue!

E-112 E Market St
Bloomington, MN 55435
(952) 854-9672

LUSH really blows my skirt up, as my mom would say.*  I have like 500 million LUSH products around here, all of which are upstaging Dish (left) with happy little Vs signifying their vegan manufacture.  I... might always want more.  Dish might too.  For different reasons.  Like eating.

So LUSH is, first and foremost, a really cool company.  Around three quarters of their products are vegan.  Their website is plastered with text about how hard they fight animal cruelty in the industry.  They have recycled packaging and waste-free products.  You'd be hard-pressed to find a more sustainable company this successful.  I have a larger-than-life consumer crush on LUSH.  Can you tell?

The only downside is the steep price, but you most definitely get what you pay for.  Not only are the ingredients amazing in origin and quality, but they combine to give you a completely incredible product.  Their Big shampoo and Veganese conditioner really do make my hair look fantastic.  The Rockstar soap actually produces more lather than you've ever seen.  And all the stuff I use on my face genuinely suppresses zits and makes my skin glow.  Oh, and it all smells and feels amazing.  No, extraordinary.  Or, like world peace and winning the lottery and Felix Felicis.

I'm fighting the urge to begin several tangents about LUSH - I must control myself, find my center, and be organized.  Like a tree.  Or something.  Can't talk about these products all willy-nilly!  We'd be here all night!  Instead of going through each product one by one, I'll tell you how to shop here, whether you're a guy or a lady.  It's really tough.  Ready?

Walk inside.  Wait for approximately half a second.  A bubbly LUSH employee will tell you everything you ever needed to know and answer every single question you have about any beauty issue and point you toward the correct products for you and maybe even give you a facial and a free sample.  You'll probably find the meaning of life in there somewhere.  I give you permission to place 100% of your trust in your LUSH barista.

As Matt walked around taking pictures for me, one of the employees stopped him.  I mean, stopped him from taking pictures.  They wanted to know if he was from 3M or some other corporation - apparently people have tried to copy LUSH products by checking ingredients at the store.  Captain Adventure put her mind at ease - he pointed to me and explained that his poor wife was spending her annual one day out from the institution about the blog - and the LUSH rep relaxed and encouraged him to keep snapping.

I can't resist telling you about my favorite LUSH item: Lust solid perfume.  The ingredients say there's jasmine involved, but all I smell is pure love.  There's something so fun about applying scent with a little stick instead of spraying it on.  Oh, and you know how walking through the perfume section of a department store is totally sickening?  You could sample LUSH's perfumes (right) all day without barfing.  I know from experience.  That was a good day.

I rewrote this post several times - what you're seeing is a very abridged version.  If you have any questions about LUSH and/or have xenophobia and don't want to ask your LUSH representative, feel free to ask me and/or see a therapist.

* She'll deny it.  But I got that phrase from SOMEBODY who gave birth to me, and it wasn't my doctor.

05 October 2012

recipe: addiction-forming granola

Oh, muffins!  Look!  This marks the beginning of endless delicious vegan recipes straight from me to you.  I don't want to make a big deal about it, so I'll just tell you I wet my pants and we can move on.

I felt it appropriate to begin with granola, because people request this recipe from me quite often, and eating it is how I start every single day, even when traveling.  It's also what I eat for a snack.  It's also... sometimes... what I eat for dessert.  IT'S REALLY GOOD, OKAY.

Addiction-Forming Granola*
GF (with certified GF oats)
30 minutes

4c oats
1c almonds (any raw nuts or combination thereof will work; almonds are the cheapest, but I like to use a mixture of almonds and cashews)
1c shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2c raw millet
1/2c sunflower seeds
1/4c flax seeds
1T cinnamon
1/2c maple syrup
1/2c canola oil
1c raisins

Preheat your oven to 350F, crank The Current up to 11, make ready an ungreased baking sheet with edges, and sing your little vegan heart out.  Your granola will taste better.  I know, I've tried.

Throw all your dry ingredients except the raisins in a big bowl and use a spoon to mix them together with reckless abandon.  You are going to get addicted to all those little guys, so you might as well be excited.  Add the syrup and oil; toss to coat everybody.

Spread your granola onto your baking sheet.  The oil in the granola will prevent it from sticking to your pan unless you burn the crap out of it.  Use your spoon, spatula, or an appendage of your choice to make sure it's evenly spread.  Bake that sucker for 15 minutes.

Remove your pan from the oven and toss the granola around a little.  Your objective here is to stir; you'll be putting it back in the oven and you don't want the browner bits to get too much heat.  Cook for another 5 minutes.

Check it out when you remove the stuff from the oven again - it should be golden brown and smell like falling in love.  If it's any less toasted than this, you need to repeat the last couple of steps - stir and bake for 5 - until it looks done.  Mine's always ready to come out at this point.

You can sprinkle the raisins on now!  I don't add them until this point because baked raisins get really tough, but if you like that kind of thing, go ahead and chuck 'em in earlier.

Let the granola cool completely before you store it away.  You may want to invest in a ridiculously enormous tupperware-type container usually used for keeping flour.  Like mine.  Well what else am I gonna do?  I make 2 batches at once and the lid barely stays on at first as it is.  And it would seem that I can't make 3 at once because there just aren't any bigger tupperwares.

* I lifted this recipe from Shelley - really.  It's practically the same as hers.  Like, I'm not even sure why she's still friends with me because I'm blatantly stealing this from her blog.  Look.

04 October 2012

the exercise talk

I was totally that kid in middle and high school who used any excuse to get out of gym.  Especially when running the mile.  That thing killed.  There was no worse torture my teachers could've possibly inflicted on me.  First.  World.  Problems.  Squared.  I died on that track.  FOREVER.

Allow me to lighten the mood.  If you continue reading, you will become 15% more attractive, 30% happier, live five years longer, and you will be admitted into Hogwarts.*  True story.

Unlike running, I've always loved biking.  I bike to work everyday there's not ice on the streets, I zip around Minneapolis to run errands and meet up with my homies, and I used to take a 20-mile loop around the city every weekend just for fun.  I still would, except I found something better.


What?  No, sorry, let me file that back into the category of sports I'll never actually consider sports.


I abhorred running as recently as one year ago.  If you're not and have never been a runner, odds are you've also been scraped off the ground after running to catch the bus and missing it in a panting heap of failure.  Truth was, I just never knew how to START running properly.  Here are some tips on that front, all of which I'm shamelessly stealing from my life coach Shelley:

  • Read Born to Run.  Be inspired by Scott Jurek, Minnesota vegan distance runner extraordinaire.
  • Start slowly - like, really.  Run around the block.
  • Increase slowly.  Run around 2 blocks, or just do a 50% increase.
  • Run every other day rather than every day.  This, along with the previous two items, will save you from injuring yourself.
  • fanpop!
  • Don't ever run on a full stomach (you don't want to be like Michael from The Office, barfing up pasta on the sidewalk).
My body is perfectly happy to run for 10 miles - maybe more! - on nothing but 100% vegan fuel.  I love the way I feel while I'm running, and the glow lasts all day.  And do you want to know what the best part is?  All this running, biking, and dancing (my fave team sport) makes my metabolism SO high that I get to stuff my face - ALL THE TIME.  With delicious and healthy vegan food.  Here's a list of everything I ate today:

  • 1c homemade granola with 1/2c amaranth and unsweetened almond milk
  • 8 oz OJ
  • Black chai tea with unsweetened almond milk
  • Luna Bar
  • A freaking enormous honeycrisp
  • 1/2 package Power Snack bites
  • 1 serving homemade Indian curry with brown rice
  • 1/3 bar of chocolate
  • Massive orange dreamsicle smoothie
This evening I plan on eating:
  • More granola with unsweetened almond milk
  • Edamame
  • Miso soup
  • Epic garden roll
  • Herbal detox tea with unsweetened almond milk
  • Your mom
Just kidding, she's not vegan.

Why tell you all this?  Wull, 'cause when you exercise the benefits never end!  Seriously, LOOK at all that food!  How many calories is that?  I don't even know, like a billion!  I cannot go 90 minutes without eating unless I'm unconscious.  I'm not joking.  Ask my co-workers.

Exercise gives you weight loss, a higher metabolism, more energy, increased strength, more endurance, and yes, your butt WILL look utterly fantastic in those pants.  Confidence.  Being comfortable in your own skin.  Not feeling like you have to suck in your gut all the time.  Knowing your body is functioning at peak efficiency and your risk of illness is laughably low.  Once you get going, you're like, "Oh my god, I can't even believe I used to put up with feeling so crappy all the time."

There's something so amazing about doing exactly what humans are designed to do out there on the trails alongside all the animals and plants who are just doing their own thing, too.  Maybe you already exercise.  Running is the pinnacle.  It took me a long time to realize this.  But now I LIVE for running.

And also for granola.

* No promises on what house you'll get sorted into.  I don't eat dairy.  I'M A HUFFLEPUFF!