Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Must repeat!

 Okay, well the thing about tonight's dinner is that it was amazing. I was really in the mood for something with a whole lot of flavor. I needed to blow my taste buds away, and I had no idea where to begin. I opened the fridge to being exploring the possibilities. Asparagus is in season now (and totally delicious) and my dad had given me some to take back to Boston with me. I only had a few stalks left...maybe five or six. Just enough to throw into a sauté pan with some onion, garlic, and the last handful of sweet peppers in the fridge (also brought from home).

While that glorious combination sizzled away I began searching for a grain. Quinoa! The perfect solution. Brown rice is probably my favorite grain but sometimes we are at odds because it takes too long to cook if I'm absolutely ravenous. Quinoa cooks in about 15 minutes, is chock full of protein, and has an amazing nutty flavor. I urge you to try it if you haven't already.

While the quinoa simmered, I added some balsamic vinegar to the vegetables in the pan and then cut up some fresh tomatoes, grabbed the last bit of spring greens for garnish, and grabbed a carrot and some peach soy yogurt for dessert. Will most definitely be making this again. I mean, just look at the picture! Does that not look amazing?

It was also the weekly Whole Foods grocery trip this afternoon, and I went with a few of the usual staples: carrots, romaine lettuce, daikon, almond milk, peas, granny smith apples, millet, and tomatoes. I also did something unexpected today. Sometimes I like to put something I usually get back on the rack and get something different. Today that something different was a jícama.

Jícama is actually a kind of fruity Mexican turnip, often referred to as a 'yam bean'. Strange. Anyways, I have been lusting after them for quite some time, feeling an insatiable need to experience their flavor. I had read on the sign that the jícama is very tasty when dipped in salsa. Well it just so happens, as my readers know, that I make fresh pico de gallo (pretty much salsa) every single weekend. I also now have a jícama sitting in my kitchen! You had better believe when I finally get to slice this bad boy up there will be pictures documenting the experience...the WHOLE experience.

The other news is that there may not be an update after tomorrow for a bit. My beloved macbook needs to go into the shop, as it has been giving me an incredibly hard time. The hard drive is beginning to collapse into itself, and I am unable to open anything save for Firefox (with inconveniently shuts itself down ever half hour), iTunes, and iPhoto. Luckily those open, but I'm not enjoying this. I can't open Microsoft word, I can't reach any of my documents or applications folders, and the computer is running so slow it's actually closer to crawling than running. I might have to leave you at the edge of your seats for the next update, so cross your fingers the laptop comes back from the hospital quickly!

It's actually with impressive consistency that my dad is saving me from impending doom. Within minutes yesterday he had an external hard drive headed to Boston for me to back up my stuff. I honestly don't know where I would be without him. Probably drooling in a gutter somewhere eating chapstick, I don't know.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Try not to laugh if I've left anything out...

I'm grateful for having a best friend, a sister by blood I can count on always.
I'm grateful for a mom who will kick my ass because she loves me enough to be that person to me.
I'm grateful for a dad who is proud of me and is forever looking out for me, even when I make mistakes.
I'm grateful for a brother to laugh with, who almost always understands what I'm saying.
I'm grateful for having someone to sleep next to, to roll over and kick in my sleep.
I'm grateful for having people to hug me, and people for me to hug.
I'm grateful for having someone to be with, and to do absolutely nothing with.
I'm grateful for having friends to laugh with until my ribs hurt.
I'm grateful for having a dog and kitties to shower kisses with, who are always happy to see me.
I'm grateful for having an opportunity for education, to learn new things every day.
I'm grateful for having elders and people in my life to learn from.
I'm grateful for having sunshine, trees, water, and green grass.
I'm grateful for having food and the opportunity to eat when I am hungry.
I'm grateful for having a warm place to go when it is cold.
I'm grateful for having my health and that my loved ones do as well.
I'm grateful for having the same eyes as my brother and sister.
I'm grateful for having lots of fruits and vegetables.
I'm grateful for always having so many people to be happy about and to be grateful for always.
I'm grateful for having people that read my blog.
I'm grateful for music, for pictures, and for stories in all forms.
I'm grateful for eyebrows.
I'm grateful for razors.
I'm grateful for bandaids and eyeliner.
I'm grateful for chocolate.
I'm grateful for belly button rings and interesting socks.
I'm grateful for letters to write and phones to call people with.
I'm grateful for ALL OF YOU.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Okay, so yesterday I fell in love. With Chinatown.

It started off as a quest for inexpensive sea vegetables and udon noodles but it turned into so much more! It was terribly exciting, diving headfirst into the kind of market where every single label is either in Chinese or Japanese and not a single soul speaks a lick of English.

Granted, it did take me a long time to find what I needed given the whole 'labeling' situation, but I was in heaven. So many different things in such a small space! So much inspiration for new things to try! Surprisingly, there was also a Vegan Cafe right outside of the Chinatown T-stop! Offered that little nugget of information up to Boyfriend, and he's down to try it.

So. Dinner. After my new experiences, I wanted to go for an interesting dinner. Naturally, dinner ended up including Pico de Gallo as an appetizer, but its so delicious one really can't complain. We made sushi! Enough brown rice was made for two vegetable rolls, so Boyfriend and I chose our fillings easily. I wanted a regular vegetable roll with avocado (my favorite), cucumber, and carrot. Boyfriend wanted a slightly less conventional roll: he chose cucumber, carrot, and was hell bent on putting the Mexican flavored Pico de Gallo into the sushi roll. Go figure.

I took a picture of mine, as time was running out and we were both very hungry.

They may not look like much, but trust me when I say they were both filling and delicious. Anyways, its not breakfast time and we were definitely thinking IHOP. I'll take some pictures and you can drool over them later!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fat Head...at least he got something right...

Another roommate related post. I know... poor form. Really, though, if you met them you would understand. Not one to usually use names when calling someone an idiot, we shall spend this blog entry referring to this roommate as 'Jim".

I am not in the practice of telling people how to eat. I clearly have my opinion on what foods bring optimal health, but I am also the only vegan, much less vegetarian, person I know (internet friends don't count). It may be because of this that I am particularly unsettled by my obese roommates informing me that the way I eat is wrong. This is an interesting proposition, as I feel that, by being the only person in this apartment that doesn't have to shuffle my body sideways to get down the stairs, my meal plan wins by default.

I understand that life (and Hollywood) can throw us some confusing curve-balls. As I was making dinner the other night one of my roommates ("Jim") decided to scoff at my soaking beans as inadequate fuel. My response, in as flat a tone as I could muster, was to point out that this was cheaper and healthier than a double cheeseburger. Jim then begin attacking the documentary 'Super Size Me'. That's a very interesting approach, as I hadn't brought up that particular movie in conversation. Nor had I used that in any arguments with Jim to support my choice of beans and greens over meat. Why are some people so easily threatened?

For those who haven't seen 'Super Size Me', you really should. It, like most other independent documentaries, has its flaws. Changing two variables that are fundamental to one's health, Morgan Spurlock makes a radical dietary change overnight from a largely plant based diet and stops exercising. This would automatically cause someone to gain some weight, but once you look past the exaggerations present in the documentary you can still see some incredibly valid arguments.

1. McDonald's does not care about the health of the consumer. They are a business, interested in what turns a profit. Cue their incorporation of what are quite possibly the world's highest calorie yet nutritionally weak 'salads' into their menu in the midst of a "health craze".

2. The average American does NOT go out of their way to read the nutritional information. Yes, if you try hard enough you can come across it but how many of you are actually doing that? The general behaviorments are usually as follows:
"I know it's bad for me, I don't need to look at the nutritional information to know that. Geez, are you some sort of dummy?"
"I don't care."

3. Morgan Spurlock questions where the line between personal and corporate responsibility lies. He doesn't answer that question, instead he leaves it up to the viewer to decide.

That is generally what I, personally, took from that movie. I didn't see it as Morgan Spurlock necessarily blaming McDonald's for the obesity crisis, but simply calling attention to our country's poor eating choices.

Jim has apparently read about a movie called 'Fat Head' that supposedly (and this is a direct quote) "destroyed everything Mogan Spurlock said in 'Super Size Me'." I hadn't seen it, so I decided to take a gander. Jim insisted that the creator, Tom Naughton, doesn't diet or count calories. Apparently he ate whatever he wanted and still lost weight. I can't lie to you, my friends, I was intrigued. This man must be some sort of medical marvel! I questioned his blood test results (not simply choleterol, but vitamin levels, etc.) and Jim proudly informed me they were perfect.

Jim's false sense of pride makes me a little bit sick, so we can gloss over the fact that he has not made ANY personal victories through Naughton's documentary. He is still a fat ass who now, thanks to Tom Naughton, believes he can finally begin to shed those two hundred extra pounds by eating his daily hot dogs. I have to say I am curious at the logic being used here... if he hasn't lost weight eating in what seems to be preparation for a long standing pie-eating contest then what makes him think the weight loss is going to start now?

I decided to figure it out. I signed onto Netflix and immediately searched for 'Fat Head'. Like most documentaries, they had already moved it to instant-watch. I have many thoughts on this movie. Steady yourself, because quite honestly, I hadn't mentally prepared myself enough.

'Fat Head' opens with creator Tom Naughton discussing the possibility for one to lose weight while eating fast food. At his preliminary doctor's appointment before he starts his new 'diet', Naughton is informed that his beginning cholesterol is over 230. This number is already above average, and when compared to his weight (over 200 pounds) and the fact that he is 31.2% body fat one can see his is already the anti-Morgan Spurlock.

This whole opening scene was interesting for me to watch, as everyone complains that because Spurlock was so radically healthy he suffered from more side effects because of his new diet. Is Naughton's debut really so different? He's simply at the other end of the spectrum. Medically considered 'obese' with high cholesterol, Naughton's solution is to eat at fast food joints for one month and lose weight by eating a low carbohydrate diet and by consuming less than 2000 calories per day while ramping up his exercise routine. I suppose Jim must have just glossed over that part.

In contrast to Spurlock's arguments, Naughton's are as follows:

1. Carbohydrates are the enemy. His consumption of fewer calories will lead to weight gain. This is simply REVOLUTIONARY! I'm not quite sure I can understand what is supposed to move me by his elimination of fries and less than 2000 calories a day paired with daily exercise. It's been done before with the same results, but honestly how many Americans are successfully utilizing the golden arches as a dietary supplement?

2. Health food stores are the enemy. Their attempt to sell us 'vegetable oils' are causing huge problems in our diet. How about screwing the oils, Naughton, and eating the actual vegetables? Oh wait. They don't sell those at McDonald's.

3. Fat people who exercise are healthier than naturally thin people. This seems skewed. Gasp. It is! In a quickly glossed over moment, Naughton conceeds that this is only geared at thin people who don't exercise. So what we're really getting here is that PEOPLE who exercise are healthier than those who don't? Shocker.

4. Spurlock exaggerated the lack of nutritional information. If you wanted to walk to the next McDonald's to get the nutrition facts you could. Another laugh. How many of you would actually do that? I like exercise and I'm totally into reading about what I'm eating, but I wouldn't even go that far. Though I'm just one person, so considering the average American is absolutely swimming in free time, I'm sure they would love to.

5. It's the vegetarian's fault. No, really. Naughton credits his weight gain to having been "talked into" being a vegetarian. So much pasta! Well, Naughton, stuffing your face with processed carbohydrates really isn't the fundamental platform of vegetarianism. We can sound it out together if you want 'vegeta-rian' sounds like it has at least PART of the word vegetable in it, doesn't it?

Copious amounts of pasta will make anyone gain weight. Instead maybe consuming whole grains with those vegetables and beans you probably weren't eating at the time would have been a healthier choice. Just sayin'.

According to Naughton, radical vegetarians are uneducated when it comes to the effect carbohydrates and sugars have on the body and instead blame all health issues on meat. I actually snickered. Vegetables are clearly famous for giving people their high levels of cholesterol, and vegetarians are forced to guzzle bowl after bowl of pasta to feel sustained! It's amazing I've lasted this long without developing diabetes or getting fat!

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association makes more money off of telling you that meat is essential to health than actually being honest with you. Will it kill you? Probably not if you eat it in moderation, but I can't make any promises.

At least we can all agree on something: eating too much of anything will make you gain weight.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I have to preface this entry with a thanks to my friend, Nick, without whom there might not be an entry and there definitely wouldn't be such an interesting meal. Today was a busy day, and last night was date night so (obviously) there was no dinner prep done in advance for tonight. This lack of forethought doesn't happen often, but when it does it leaves me severely crippled in terms of dinner options.

I buy dry beans. This means that they need to be soaked the night before, rice takes at least an hour to cook, and I had eaten all of the kale. I was also out of balsamic vinegar, my default salad topping. Tofu was living in the fridge, but I hadn't had the chance to marinate it. What to do for dinner? I didn't leave school until 6:30 tonight, and by the time I left I was starving. My mind was running through ideas on the subway ride home (the most popular one being consuming two luna bars and maybe some carrots) and was texting my friend Nick. He reminded me of my blog, and I realized that I really do have the capabilities learned from my parents to make something delicious out of nothing. I need to stop being such a big baby sometimes.

With a renewed sense of purpose, I plowed on home and created THIS! I looked into the pantry and pulled out a jar of sunflower seeds, a jar of flax seeds, a can of stewed tomatoes, a box of Trader Joe's whole grain sesame crackers, some nutritional yeast, and some whole wheat flour. I grabbed the tofu and some almond milk out of the fridge and got to work. It immediately got pressed with a towel (to get the extra water out) and cut into six pieces.

I then grabbed a ziplock bag and put a handful of each of the following: sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast, sesame crackers, and flax seeds. This was crushed with a rolling pin until it was mostly crumbs. I then dipped the tofu pieces first in some flour, then the almond milk, and then the ground seed/cracker mixture I created (it was meant to resemble breadcrumbs). I put it on a tray and baked for about 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

While the tofu "cutlets" were baking, I dumped the canned tomatoes onto a saucepan and added some minced garlic and diced Spanish onion.

Normally I prefer fresh things to canned, but aside from the obvious save in a pinch, tomatoes are an exception to this rule. Contrary to their year-round availability in the supermarket, tomatoes aren't really in season all the time. Usually they start reaching full potential in the summer/early fall. When making a sauce any other time of year it is better to use canned tomatoes. They pick the tomatoes for canning when they are actually ripe, as opposed to picking them while they are still green and ripening them with ethylene gas like they do with out of season tomatoes.

The sauce simmered away on the stove, and with nothing but time and excitement on my side I was then seized with another surge of creativity. I grabbed some umeboshi plum vinegar, soy sauce, maple syrup, and Dijon mustard from the cabinet. A salad would go great with these "cutlets", and who needs balsamic vinegar anyhow? I'll be damned if I let that ever stop me from having a salad again. The maple syrup may sound strange, but umeboshi vinegar is very bitter. Delicious, but bitter. It goes great with soy sauce, but some sweetness really helps to balance out the acidity when consuming it raw like I was about to, so I threw in the maple syrup to tone it down. All I really had for salad were some mixed greens, three small peppers, and some cucumber so I chopped those up and threw them into the bowl with the homemade dressing. It was AAMAAAZINGGGGGG!!!

By this time, my stomach was about to eat itself and the "cutlets" were finally ready. I threw two of them onto a plate with a sizeable portion of the sauce, took a picture for you all, and went to town. This may not seem like a crazy meal by looking at the picture, but the taste was incredible and the tofu cutlet was baked to perfection (crispy but still moist on the inside). I'm glad I wrote this all down in the blog so I could remember what I did.

It also tasted even better because of the effort, I think. The whole meal was a big experiment, and it worked out so freaking well I can't believe it. You'll notice a chocolate soymilk there. I know. I shouldn't. BUT I was rewarding myself for not being such a turd. So what did YOU have for dinner?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

In the news...

Okay, so something super-duper awesome happened last night! I was talking to a friend from my Roman civilization class and I showed him by blog. This wouldn't normally be a huge deal, except that he has offered himself up as a guinea pig in what will be a pretty cool experiment: the vegan for a week challenge.

I have already begun compiling a grocery list, a list of dos and don'ts, and some elementary information for him to start with. I am so excited! The challenge will begin on Monday and it will be very well documented on this blog.

In other news: I get to see boyfriend tonight! Date night, and it starts in about nine minutes so the rest of this update must be brief.

I FINALLY got to get back in the gym today. I was dying! It really made my day. You know what else made my day? Scoring a one hundred and one on my Western civilization midterm. How crazy is that? I was freaking out all this morning while I was waiting to get into class so I could just find out how I did. I definitely wasn't expecting that, though!

Cleaned my room up a bit this morning. I hadn't finished unpacking my clothes since I got back from Connecticut, and they were taking over my room. Clean floors now dominate, and my yoga mat has room to stretch out!

Well! It is that time. Phone rang, boyfriend is outside. More updates tomorrow. Ciao!

Monday, March 21, 2011

I know, another post!

I just had a sudden surge of energy! I was fairly tired today (I'm blaming the weather and my early morning wake up call), so I am actually very surprised by this.

This sudden surge of energy might be attributed to my having just ingested a sizeable amount of grained wheat pasta topped with nutritional yeast and some raw green onion. I hadn't intended to be up this late and had meant for the pear, hummus, and carrots I was munching on while skyping my parents to be dinner. Life had better, tasty plans for me. I hadn't had nutritional yeast in almost two weeks and was going through a withdrawl of sorts, especially since my mom and I talked about it a few times while I was home.

The only challange with this meal was the green onion. Lately I've been trying to be good and eat the whole thing. The funky looking roots at the end are absolutely action packed with nutrients, and I'm trying to take full advantage. I haven't really had many texture issues with food. I love mushrooms, sauteed green leaves, tempeh, and (more recently) tofu. This should speak volumes. There are two things on this earth I've been struggling with texture-wise. Eggplant and the roots of green onion. Eggplant feels like I'm eating a sponge, but more importantly we need to address the green onion root. Why does it have to look SO weird? I feel like I'm eating miniature fingers. The good news is, the roots look less strange when I mince them, but I know they're in there!

I need to grow up at some point. I've done a good job eating them anyway, but I felt like if I wrote it out on the internet maybe it would psych me out a little bit less. Also, I've learned that waiting to put my snacks away when I'm done eating them is better than leaving them on my bed. The bag of carrots I was munching on earlier was neglected and took a nap next near my pillow. The result? I flopped onto my bed and face-planted into a bag of beta carotene. Whatevs.

Back in the swing of things...

Nothing gets you out of the vacation mindset like a huge dose of reality, right?

I slept through my alarm by two hours this morning! This almost NEVER happens to me. The good news about the whole situation is that I had set my alarm two hours early the night before, so it didn't do much damage aside from being a general fail. Hooray! Aside from being defeated by an alarm clock, I looked out the window and noticed it was snowing. You heard me. Snowing. This is what I call a lose-lose. The snow loses because it has to be here knowing nobody likes it, and I lose because all I've been dreaming about for weeks is sunshine and green grass. I'm just so glad the weather feels comfortable enough in our relationship to cover my dreams in an avalanche.

The next dose of reality came about as abruptly as being smacked across the face with a slab of ham. I have roommates. Who doesn't, right? Smart people, that's who.

My roommates like to eat. A lot. Cool. Specifically, they like to eat things that I don't eat (meat, dairy, heavily processed things, dog shit, hamburger helper, etc.). As long as you're not shoving a fifty cent hot dog smothered in chili that both smells and looks like diarrhea down MY throat, I don't really care. At least...usually I don't care. The circumstances in which do I care are very few, but they do include particular episodes like the one that occured this morning. I was trying to sleep like a normal person and instead I was woken up around three in the morning by billows of thick, putrid smoke and a screeching smoke alarm. Turns out, one of my roommates thought that he would cook his nightly dose of hot dogs in a pan instead of boiling them (what he usually does). What clearly didn't occur to him was that once a hot dog goes on a pan it needs to be closely watched and turned consistently. Yes, even me, the vegan, knows this.

Instead, he decided to go watch some T.V. while he waited for his food to hop off of the stove and climb into his mouth. This resulted almost immediately in an apartment filled with smoke, destroyed hot dogs, and disappointment. So glad I came back, can I move into one of the supply closets at school now?

I'm not bitter about it. I'm sure this will all be but a painful memory to be repressed in about eight years.

Lunch today is barley and lentils sauteed with onion and a green salad. A delicious and uncomplicated way to begin the week! I'm going to go, because my sister aka bestfriendinthewholeworld just facebook chatted me!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Post-Birthday, I'm Back!

Craziness! I can't believe it has been over a week since I have updated! I just got so into being home, then it was my birthday, and then I had to make the trip back to Boston. It was a fun filled week and the good news is that means I have lots to say!

Let's begin with my sister making it safely to France! As soon as my dad got to the train station to pick me up my sister called his cell phone to let him know she had made it to her host family's house. It was truly perfect timing because I got to talk to her! When my dad and I finally got home I got to mom, my brother, and my dog! I haven't seen my dog or my brother since I moved to Boston a few months ago and my mom since she visited me a couple weeks before, so it was all very exciting. My dad and I spent the afternoon doing the weekly grocery shopping and chatting, and I made fried udon noodles with cabbage for dinner. It was delicious and even my older brother enjoyed it (he's a skeptical eater). It was a perfect first evening home, and my dog got to lick my plate when I was done so everybody was happy.

The next night I recreated Olivia Wilde's vegan bolognese recipe, and this was a big hit (especially with my parents). I tried it the first night on some fresh spaghetti squash and then a different night I spooned it on some actual pasta like a real human would. Spicy and full of awesome.

Onto the rest of the week! As some of you may know, it was my birthday on Thursday so now I am old. Twenty one! I hope you guys can believe it, because I am still having trouble wrapping my mind around the whole thing. I spent Tuesday night and Wednesday morning making chocolate vegan cupcakes and coconut frosting. They were absolutely delicious, and I used some green food dye to tie in the whole 'St. Patrick's Day' theme. 

My original intent was to find a vegan cake at the Whole Foods near my nana's house, but they didn't have any! They did have a larger produce section than the one I frequent in Boston, but I wasn't terribly impressed with their bakery section. Win some and lose some, I suppose. This led to the creation of my own birthday treat. I love cake, but having an entire cake sitting in our kitchen is never a good idea. 

The perfect idea was then suggested: bake a batch of cupcakes, set aside four for our family on my birthday, and bring the rest to my mom's school and feed her class! It was fan-tab-ulous. Only thing was, I made six more cupcakes than I needed and this resulted in their immediate consumption. I have no self control and ended up with a serious sugar-hangover. Though I did get to see my friend Steve, so that made the whole thing incident fade into the background a bit.

Cut to my birthday! I don't mean to make this moment all about me, but it kind of is, right?
So this is me...using my dad's shoulder as a birthday snack. If you thought my turning twenty one was going to signify my debut into adulthood you are going to be sorely disappointed. So we spent the first part of the afternoon after returning from my mom's school lounging, taking pictures, and discussing how I am now decrepit.

Now once you look past the fact that I am so pale I look dead, this is actually a cute picture! That's my mom on the right, and my daddy on the left. Aren't we cute? I am totally wearing my sister's prom dress, but I will attempt to justify this by explaining that I couldn't bring any clothes home with me since I took the train.

Since I know you're all here to read about me getting drunk on my birthday. I'm not sorry to report that drunk isn't quite the word I would use. Pleasantly incapacitated might be more appropriate. According to my family, it is incredibly difficult to tell if I am drunk or just being myself. I can't tell if that is good or bad. We went to P.F. Chang's for dinner, as that is definitely one of my favorite restaurants.

 Chris (my brother), me, and my dad in front of the restaurant.

I tried the stuffed lettuce wraps for the first time. I didn't used to be a tofu person, but the chefs there have really turned me to the dark side. It is spicy, flavorful, and totally delicious. Plus, anything wrapped in lettuce automatically gets five points. Interestingly enough, this was my brother's first experience with P.F. Chang's. I am happy to report he enjoyed it, and also that I ordered a Mai Tai for my first drink.

Me, still deathly pale, consuming my first [legal] alcoholic beverage!

The party continued after we left Chang's. We relocated to a bar near my house called 'the Ancient Mariner'. It's a small place and has been around since before I was born! It was there that I came to meet my new favorite drink: the whiskey sour. Ohhhh my goodness. I love sweet and tart, and this drink definitely didn't let me down. I had a few...maybe more but it was so worth it. It was honestly the most fun way I could have spent my birthday. It has been brought to my attention that most people wish to spend their twenty first birthday passed out in an alley, but I'm fairly certain my family is about 500 billion times more fun than that. Boyfriend couldn't make the party (he wasn't on vacation so he had to stay in Boston) and my sister was still in France, but aside from that this was definitely one of my better birthdays.

We made our way back home after a while and then popped open a bottle of Nihonshu (Japanese sake) my dad got me for my birthday. We sipped on this while I opened my presents! My parents and sister got me a book called 'Clean Food'. I know, perfect. My parents also made me a photo album with pictures from every birthday I've ever had. It was the best! I'm glad I enjoyed the night so much, because I hear that it all goes downhill after twenty one. 

As I'm writing this I feel the need to address the above saying for a quick minute: isn't going downhill better than going uphill? I don't mean to shine a spotlight on my natural laziness, but really... That expression seems so misplaced.

My last night home we went to the Applebee's bar for a few drinks before going to see the new movie Paul. I tried my first non-virgin piña colada. Consensus: seriously sugary, very delicious. Due to the extreme sugary nature of the drink, for my next drink I traveled a slightly lighter route with a 'Hurricane'. It was rum mixed with pineapple juice, sweet & sour mix, orange juice, and grenadine. Eughmygod so good! Very strong, though. I have to say, Paul definitely lit up the evening. It was witty and had great references, so comic book reading dorks (me) and anyone born before 1990 would definitely enjoy it.

So I'm back in Boston now. The morning following the trip to the movies was filled with whirlwind packing and squeezing in a breakfast with my friend Chelsea. I hadn't seen her since Christmas break, so it was really fun. After a prolonged farewell, Chris and I headed for Boston. I quickly unpacked the goodies my mom sent me and hopped on the subway to see boyfriend. It was a joyful reunion, filled with dinner at Panera, a pit stop at Newbury Comics, lots of hugging, and a walk outside featuring the biggest moon seen from earth in twenty years. It was SERIOUSLY huge and gorgeous, everyone! I hope you all got to see it... Thankfully the night was devoid of anything alcoholic. I'm not a big drinker to begin with, but I think I'm boozed out for at least a week :)

When I got back to my apartment this morning I munched on some kale and mochi for breakfast (still feeling the aftereffects of all the drinking/sugar) and then walked to Whole Foods to restock on some perishables. I needed apples, garbanzo beans, edamame, and some arame (for those of you unfamiliar, it is a sea vegetable). The second I got back from Whole Foods? Created a sizeable tub of edamame hummus. Is hummus not the best thing ever? I don't ever forget that I like it, but I do forget just exactly how much I enjoy it. I always make mine a little extra garlicky and throwing some edamames in there gives it a really interesting and fresh flavor. I meant to go to school to update this blog and to do some work, but it was already three o'clock and apparently the shuttle to the school closes earlier on Sundays than usual, so it didn't end up being worth the trip. The good news? I had that extra time to make this update extra long! Will be updating on a more regular schedule now that vacation is over, so fear not. This is not the end.

Friday, March 11, 2011

This is it!

My last post before I am home sweet home! I'm so excited I can hardly stand it. The countdown now stands at 19 hours!

Last night was interesting... This whole week has been orbiting around a 'let's clean out the fridge before vacation' theme. I had a sweet potato, some bok choy, and seitan with green beans. It was awesome and I ate while talking to my grandpa. The funny thing about my grandpa is that he likes to call my sister and I 'the kind of pet my dad can't get rid of'. This is all lovingly said, of course.

I then got to talk to my mom. For three hours. It was crazy! Especially since we were both so tired (I didn't even sleep the night before). We had begun plotting the trip to Portland, Maine our family will be taking. They don't know about the trip yet or the fact that it will be tons of fun. It will be! Once we got off the phone I passed out and didn't wake up until ten! I can really only equate the kind of sleep that was with what I imagine being comatose is like.

Quite honestly, I am having the hardest time concentrating on this post. All I can really think about is coming home! My sister a.k.a best-friend-in-the-whole-world leaves for France tonight, so I'm also consumed by that. Family is funny that way, isn't it? They demand ALL of your excitement! YAY!

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Yes, Folks, it is finally here. Vacation. My professor canceled class for tomorrow, which means the moment I make it out of my Western Civ class at 3:15 I will be DONE!

This really couldn't be coming at a better time. I felt it necessary to pull an all-nighter last night. Those of you who know me also know that I love sleep. I think sleep is essential to optimal health and to feeling good, so I make a conscious effort to get at least 7 or 8 hours a night. I am not a fan of sleeping through the day, so usually this means I am headed to bed around 11 or so. Last night, however, I found myself too nervous for the midterm I had this morning! I took the extremely difficult quiz he gave us last Thursday to be a sign that this would be a big one. I found myself recopying notes by hand (this always helps me remember them) and giving myself pep talks around three in the morning. By the time I had given myself carpal tunnel from all the writing, I was too nervous to sleep!

Luckily I was able to recharge at six with homemade granola and some spinach! By the time I got to school I felt a bit more confident. The exam didn't disappoint. It was probably the hardest exam I have taken in all my years as a student, and also the exam I spent the most time studying for. It was a lot of multiple choice, which normally might be good, but this guy is tricky! He did warn us in class of his love for 'trick questions', but still...rude.

I got out of the exam early, knowing I had done my best. At this point, despite the lack of sleep, I was high on granola, spinach, and post-exam bliss. I headed over to the gym and was pleasantly surprised to find it COMPLETELY empty! It must have been a pre-vacation fluke, but either way it was nice treat to have all the equipment to myself for the first half hour!

Since I now have all this extra time to kill before my last class, I thought I would share this link my friend Steve sent me. I think this is something everyone should read, because I feel like a lot of people like to overlook the fact that animals have feelings too. It's not a terribly long article so I really think everyone should read this (A Note to My Mom: it is not about being in a slaughterhouse and there are no gruesome pictures, so you should read this too).

Empathy in Chickens!

Isn't it incredible the things living creatures are capable of?

Another fun note, as some of you may have seen, Mike Tyson has a new segment on Animal Planet! I had no idea until I saw the commercial, and I spent about ten minutes speculating with my boyfriend as to why Mike Tyson would be on Animal Planet surrounded by pigeons...

Turns out Mike Tyson (yes, THE Mike Tyson) is a vegan! No kidding, I honestly had no idea. He is a huge supporter of animal rights and has even admitted that the first fight he ever got into was over the defense of an animal! How cool is that? Maybe I should actually check out some Animal Planet next week when I'm enjoying my vacation...

Speaking of enjoying vacation... my sister leaves for France tomorrow! I'm super bummed I can't make it home in time... she has some plans to visit me here in Boston when she gets back, so I am definitely holding out for that. She is going to have SO many fun stories to tell and I already can't wait to hear them (even though they haven't happened yet).

Hourly countdown continues until my return home. We are now at 47 hours and counting! Cat-urday can't come soon enough!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It gets easier...

Something I've noticed as of late: being vegan was never terribly difficult to begin with, but it gets even easier as time goes on. I have been trying to avoid too many processed vegan foods for two reasons:
  • The first reason being that processed foods are not nearly as good for you as fresh, whole foods. 
  • Another reason is that studies have shown that heavily processed soy (faux meats, cheese alternatives, soy milk, etc.) doesn't have the same benefits that less processed soy (edamame, tofu, and tempeh). 
When I was just a vegetarian, I leaned heavily on processed soy. As I took a leap into veganism I was simultaneously making an effort to eat better foods. Don't misunderstand me, I am not swearing against processed soy. I still treat myself to soy turkey or a soy yogurt every once in awhile, but I have decided that these things shouldn't be a part of what I eat on a daily basis. This and the lack of cheese are what I thought would be the hardest parts of my new lifestyle. On the contrary, I've found that my body has begun to really gravitate towards the things it needs. I used to start my days with mochi drizzled with brown rice syrup and a piece of fruit. The past few days I've found myself craving some steamed spinach on the side (I know that may sound gross, but really it wasn't even a conscious decision...one morning it just happened).

I still haven't tamed my sweet fang, though. I have found that a piece of fruit or some dried apricots usually do the trick, though if it is a particularly strong craving sometimes I'll go for a spoonful (or two) or Rice Dream or some vegan chocolate. We also mustn't forget that incident with Paul Newman's dairy free cookies the other week...

Did anyone else notice they moved 'Jersey Shore: Season 2' onto Netflix instant-watch? I did. Holding out until vacation to watch it is borderline unbearable. Also, over half of my America on Film class was absent today. I have a feeling some people have decided to pregame vacation.

Countdown: 68 hours until I am back home...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


This week might kill me. I refuse to use business as an excuse to let any of the many things I have to do slide, but I think it may come at the cost of exhaustion. I know I promised to update on the train ride home, but I have a feeling I may end up napping through that entire ride. As vacation draws near there are a myriad of exams and papers due (thankfully, most of these had been studied for/written previously) but touch-ups to reports and regular studying have to go on top of the new material teachers would like for us to learn before the break. This way we can forget it all and then re-learn it when we come back! Doesn't that sound lovely?

I was studying on the elliptical this morning, looking something like a crazed maniac, when I noticed in the margin of my Roman Civilization notes that there is an Italian archaeologist coming to speak today at 4:15. Obviously I'm going to see this, so I need to find a way to work it into my schedule. With some moderate acrobatics, it should be fine. I have an exam later this afternoon before the archaeologist comes to speak. Wish me luck? I'm too nervous for lunch. Perhaps I will be hungry when the archaeologist gets to talking about perfectly preserved late Pleistocene hominid flesh... I should pack a snack, yes? I'm thinking carrots and hummus, then I can pretend the carrot stick is a decomposing prehistoric bone and the hummus can be the sediment I found it in! Nom nom nom.

On another note: still counting the hours until I arrive home. Right now we are at approximately 96 hours and 15 minutes. Jealous? You should be.

Did I mention I got an 'A' on my first Roman Civilization exam? That's how we do it here in Boston. Yay!

Monday, March 7, 2011

The long delayed post...

SO sorry for the delay, all. I hugely appreciate your patience when it comes to my laziness in updating. It is just that my weekend was SO busy (not really). I actually had a pleasantly lazy weekend, spent in Quincy.

I did a lot of nutritional reading on burdock and beets this weekend AND I was also able to take in the wonderful Indiana Jones marathon that graced my boyfriend's television. I had forgotten how good these movies are. Since this is my future profession, not just the archaeology part, but the kicking ass part as well, I figured it would be fruitful for me to do some intensive research on my field from the couch.

What enhances the Indiana Jones cinematic experience? I'll tell you. It is fresh, homemade pico de gallo. You can't go wrong. My boyfriend and I decided to whip up a fresh batch during Temple of Doom. It was D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S. I know I never posted those pictures of the garbanzo bean burgers, but it was only because they were eaten before I could get the camera into the fray. Just know that they were both beautiful and mouth watering. To make up for the lack of burger photos, boyfriend did take a picture of the fresh pico de gallo (he's the better photographer).

Doesn't that look incredible...like...the most amazing thing ever? The amount of pico de gallo we eat is obscene. It goes on everything: the garbanzo bean burgers, rice, chips, salad, etc. I sometimes even eat it straight out of the bowl with a spoon! I will never tire of it.

I must say, as I am getting closer to going home I am getting progressively more excited. I even talked to the pizza maker from my old work today! For those of you who might not know me personally, I used to waitress at this small Italian restaurant in my hometown. My mother remains to be the Queen of Pizza, and this is the only person who has ever come close to her level of pizza-perfection. I was expressing how much I missed his pizzas, but also how I don't eat dairy anymore. Luckily for me, he reminded me that my favorite pizza on the menu (the salad pizza) is completely dairy free!

My dad spent part of his night getting my train ticket all in order for Saturday. My boyfriend will be dropping me off at the Boston Amtrak station in the morning. I shall update while I am en route (if there is internet...I think there is). My daddy will then be picking me up around 11:30! I am already so excited I feel like I just had a whole bunch of caffeinated diet coke!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Marvelous Lunch!

I know...I was bad today. A touch too much of my time was devoted to moseying this morning, so I was not left with enough time to pack a lunch. Solution? Salad bar at the cafeteria. Usually if I forget my lunch I prefer to wait to eat until I go home, but today was not one of those days. I couldn't wait, was absolutely ravenous, and weirdly enough couldn't stop thinking about bananas. Maybe I needed some potassium. This whole situation may seem unfortunate, but it turned out to be delicious. I keep forgetting to buy sunflower seeds when I go to Whole Foods and they are just absolutely delicious on salads. My school's cafeteria has them! Go figure. I also got to the salad bar just as one of the cooks was unloading some fresh romaine! I loaded up on the beets too (another fabulous salad addition). Banana for dessert :)

It looks so pretty so I'm sharing a picture! It's a little bit fuzzy/funky since I took it with Photobooth on my laptop so forgive the low quality.

I'm currently enjoying it's deliciousness as I write. I'm super psyched to make garbanzo burgers tonight. I know they will be delicious, and the hard/lengthy part of the process (soaking and cooking the beans) has already been taken care of! Will definitely be taking pictures, worry not.

Talked about sodomy in my Roman Civilization tonight. Apparently I have not grown out of my giggle fits. Am also starting to think that will never happen.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Not really any fun pictures today. This is mostly attributed to the fact that I had a very simple salad for lunch and am having an equally simple dinner. This seems so unlike me. Why? I wasn't home at my usual hour to prepare dinner and I had little prep time for recipes between classes an the gym. I was also surprised by some after school socializing!

This is really because I have the best boyfriend ever. I got such a treat today. Instead of hanging around school for an excessive period of time after class I got picked up by said boyfriend and we went back to his apartment for a special viewing of last night's 'I Used to be Fat' rerun. It was the reunion special, and I think I died from the awesomeness. I was also gifted a marvelous bag of my favorite grapes. I should just say that I LOVE grapes, but I usually avoid purchasing them because they are awfully expensive. This was such a treat, and I did eat half of the bag already. I know. I shouldn't.

I am getting exponentially excited for my return home and also for my twenty first birthday. I can legally purchase alcohol! I don't really drink often enough for this to be a huge deal, but it does mean that I can get into bars and such. This has been a problem as it seems almost everyone I end up hanging out with in Boston is at least a year and a half older than me, and they often want to see bands/go to bars. This is something I will SOON be able to do! Can't wait. I have decided that my birthday drink will be sake. One warm and one cold to see which I prefer. My feet are twitching.

New recipe to try for tomorrow: mentioned that I had some garbanzo beans (chickpeas) soaking at home to my boyfriend. I had decided I was going to make a spiced chickpea burger out of them and he got excited by that notion and requested that I make that for dinner tomorrow. This is perfect since I just got home and was really not feeling up to the whole mooshing, grinding, and pan-frying process that is required of burger-making. Dinner tonight? A luna bar and more grapes (someone stop me from inhaling the whole bag). Possibly some steamed spinach and an early bedtime. Sounds fantastical, no?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

So much excitement!

I remain in good spirits today, despite the red alert from my school about a MEASLES outbreak! Apparently a professor was diagnosed with measles, so those of us who can't verify immunity are not allowed to participate in public activities (like the gym, going to clubs, etc.). Lucky for me, I am immune. Thank goodness.

I almost wish I wasn't allowed to go to the gym, though. Apparently I'm a spaz and can't handle any kind of thigh-weights. Tried some a few days ago and have been very sore. Yesterday I thought I would suck it up and work through it. Bad idea, because this morning when I went to put pants on I fell over and ended up crawling back over to my bed like a wounded animal. I wasn't aware that I had that much muscle that could hurt THAT much. Needless to say, I skipped that particular set of weights during this morning's workout.

I have a picture of last night's dinner for y'all. I had a date with myself and made an amazing but simple brown rice pilaf. It was just some short grained brown rice sauteed with some toasted pine nuts and maple-caramelized onions. This was topped, of course, with some shoyu (soy sauce). The picture doesn't really do it justice, but trust me when I say it was fantastical.

This morning I woke up a little bit early since I went to bed a lot a bit early last night. Since I was up with some extra time I decided to make some home-made granola out of toasted rolled oats, some sea salt, and some maple syrup. It smelled SO good while it was in the oven, and I didn't take a picture since it was enthusiastically consumed within three minutes. I am a pig. Though it was delicious, I'm not sure if I would start my day like that often. It was very sweet/salty and almost overwhelming for a morning treat. Definitely kept me full for a long time though.

Cut to lunch. My second class of the day was canceled and I ended up home earlier than usual. This was a bit of a mixed bag, as it allowed me to eat what I pleased but also meant my quiet 'me time' I get at school was nixed for the day. I was feeling like maybe I could go for some alkalizing vegetables to counterbalance the granola episode of this morning so I made some miso with mushrooms, broccoli, onion, carrot, green beans, and the ever present daikon. Delicious. I paired this with some spinach sauteed in balsamic vinegar (my mom always served spinach in vinegar when I was a kid and whenever I eat it I get a pleasant throwback to family dinners in the kitchen).

Don't tell anyone, but I may have eaten some of my leftover pilaf from last night as well... it was just SO good! Generally the whole meal filled me up completely and I felt much more balanced after that. On the other hand, since I just recently finished eating it and it is past five o'clock I have a feeling that was more of a supper than anything else.

I talked to my mom last night for a bit on the phone, and I was just getting so super excited for my birthday. I can't believe how close it is! I think I'm mostly just excited to be home. I still get to talk to and see my family when I'm not living at home, but the hardest is leaving my dog. She's the sweetest thing and obviously can't understand what 'going to college' means, so whenever I go home she follows me around for days until she's fairly certain I'm not leaving again. I always do, and that is part of what makes it so hard. I'm also bummed that my sister won't be home for my birthday. Did I mention she is going to France that week? How cool is that? She's going to take a lot of pictures because if she doesn't she knows I will kill her. Ha-ha. But really.

Did I mention the fun thing that happened to me on the subway this morning? A lovely older gentleman selling Boston Globes gave me one for free on the condition that I kept showing the world "my beautiful smile". How cute is that? I think I was just working off of my granola-high so the smiling may not have been intentional. It was also a bit funny because, as I looked at the front of the paper, I noticed that my very own school had made the front page for the whole measles debacle.

Am currently multitasking. I'm both studying for a midterm I have on Tuesday and am also browsing recipes to try when I go home to visit. Just found one for a vegan coconut-lime pie with a raw almond-date crust. Yum!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

THE incident.

I know this is the second post of the day (I fear I am becoming fanatical), but I have something to share. I really needed to get this off my chest, and is there a better place to disclose utter humiliation than a public blog? I don't think so.

Here it is. Roommates use a lot of toilet paper. I am not home often and don't use much, so when the last bit of the toilet paper I put money into was used up I decided I am not going to put my money into a toilet paper pooling system anymore, I will simply purchase my own and save myself about 5.7 million dollars a month. I also am very sore from a strenuous workout yesterday that was intensified by my gym activities this morning. Ergo, I am not feeling up to walking all the way to the store for this quality purchase. This act is so shameful, but I can't help but center on my need to explain myself. Let me just tell you what happened...

Like a hobo, I stole a roll of toilet paper from the school bathroom...and yes, I am justifiably filled with shame.

The thing is, I promise I'm going to go actually PAY for some tomorrow and I'm also going to stop trying to rationalize this. I am an animal.

I'm sure the best part of this story might be the looks I got from passers-by as I exited the bathroom with an uncomfortably sized bulge under my sweatshirt. I need better clothes for this...like a black ninja outfit.

Was thinking this was a new low but on the other hand I'm fairly certain there are times in my life that I've sunk lower...

Something intelligent and witty so you will think I'm dynamic.

I had a moment today. It was after having a quiz and going to the gym, and as I was fantasizing about the bean salad I had tucked away in my backpack. I was about to eat it until (not to sound like a freak or a sap) I realized that I almost never take the time to give thanks for my food anymore. I know everyone is aware that there are so many people in this world that don't have good food to eat and I also know that is something we don't like to think about.

When I say 'give thanks for my food' I don't necessarily mean giving thanks to any specific religious deity in particular, but just having general gratitude for the opportunity of that meal. This may sound like it is coming completely out of nowhere (and it kind of is), but my parents didn't raise me to take things for granted. The average person doesn't usually expend a great deal of personal effort into food cultivation or preparation anymore, so I think (and I speak for myself here) that maybe that has numbed us a little bit to the whole process.

Realizing all of this, I took a minute before diving headfirst into my bean salad and I feel like it made my food taste just a little bit better.

Plans for today? Another update later this evening. Also, I have another quiz to go study for AND I need to go hunt down my 'Watchmen' tshirt. I left it at the gym yesterday like a doofus, and I need that shirt back! It totally brings out my inner nerd. Or outer nerd. Both? The gym doesn't have it's own lost and found apparently, so I have to go check out the one in the campus center. The good news is I don't think anybody will want that shirt. I left it AFTER working out yesterday, so it definitely smells like a dead moose.