April Foodie Penpals!

For the third month in a row, I participated in the foodie penpals exchange run by Lindsey from The Lean Green Bean. For those of you just tuning in- each person who signs up gets paired with someone else and the two of you exchange boxes of goodies! This month I was paired with Denise from Almasdays.com

Side note: the day the box came, Rascal chased our neighbors’ cat up a tree. So the goodies were an especially good treat after handling that fiasco.

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What I got:

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“Slap ya mama” seasoning: I can’t get over how such a basic blend of spices can taste so good! I’ve using this on scrambled tofu to give myself a break on sriracha

Dark chocolate bunny: There is something about smashing these to pieces before eating them that makes them way more satisfying to consume than your average chocolate bar.

Cran-Blueberry Crunch: Kyle and I have both been munching on these. I’m surprised we still have any! They’re so sweet and satisfying!

Ginger-Sesame Caramel Popcorn: I only just dug into this last night- but it’s great! I hate how heavy caramel corn normally is, so this lightened up version was really welcome.

Gold Brick Eggs: I never buy milk chocolate for myself- I forgot just how tasty it is when it just melts in your mouth.

Thanks, Denise! I really enjoyed everything you sent me!

P.S. Remember that tomato marmalade Jessica sent me last month? I eventually just decided to put it on toast. It actually had chucks of tomato and lemon peel but the acidity of both was balanced out with sweetness. Bliss on toast 🙂

Want to try it yourself? You don’t need to have a blog! Click over here to check it out!

 

Salad Season

I’ve mentioned it before, but one of the (many) things I love about summer is salad.

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However…. I’ve been having a problem with food boredom lately. It’s mostly my fault for doing things like consuming 4 large batches of curry style dishes over the course of 3 weeks.

In an effort to to not burn myself out on salad, I’m trying to change things up on a consistent basis.  And since I love brussel sprouts so much, I thought maybe I’d try them out for a salad base.

Boredom Curing Sprout Salad


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Makes 6 large servings

Ingredients!
~15 brussel sprouts (/ one package from Trader Joe’s)
– 1/2 head of cauliflower
– 1/2 red onion
– 1 c pea sprouts (also found these at Trader Joe’s)
– 3/4 c walnuts
– apple cider vinegar
– olive oil
– garlic powder
– 1/2 c Vegan Parm

2014-04-22 17.55.22Steps!
1. Chop and rinse brussel sprouts, pea sprouts, cauliflower, onion, walnuts. Add to a giant bowl and mix.
2. Make and add vegan parm.
3. Drizzle oil, acv and add garlic powder. Taste test and add more until your desired dressing flavor has been reached

Notes:
The chopping is the hardest part of this (as it should be- I mean it’s a freaking salad)

I didn’t include measurements for the dressing because I don’t really do salad dressing, so I don’t know what salad with dressing is supposed to taste like.

I’m sure you can use regular parm- but that recipe is both the easiest and most delicious vegan cheese I’ve ever had.

Annnnd that’s all folks.
Happy salad munching!

Picture it: a very special tea party

On Easter weekend my brilliant friend Eva hosted a tea party to celebrate spring. She went all out (& I helped!). We may need to make this an annual thing.

I ❤ construction paper.

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Flow toys + ballet flats

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Easter egg hunt!

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A guitar is required for every gathering.

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Tea station/ Food station

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And finally…. The food! We had so much food.

M&M cookie sandwich &
Cookie butter m&m blossoms (like peanut butter blossoms but better) & Maple Caramel Macadamia Blondies

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Pao De Quejo (Brazilian cheese bread, plus coconut water equals the best hangover cure EVER).


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Cheese plate/ peanut butter sriracha tofu. I have never seen Kyle enjoy tofu so much (dear Eva, I need that recipe)

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And last, but not least, the most tea party- ish food: mini sammies! Lemon curd plus blueberry/ goat cheese walnut cranberry/ tomato basil bread with hummus and veggies

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A hella fun and delicious weekend!

Have you been to any fun themed parties lately?

Why I’m A Vegetarian

 

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This May marks my 3 year veg-anniversary. I’ve cheated maybe 5 times since I embarked on this diet (and three of those were for a mini maple bacon donut), but not at all in the last year. And honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to eating meat. After three years, I find it pretty unappetizing.

I often get asked why I don’t eat meat. I usually try to keep the answer simple, but there are actually a whole lot of reasons I broke up with meat. And for me, the more research I do on the subject, the more resolve I find to continue refraining from eating meat and cutting back on animal products (cheese, eggs, etc.) in general.

So, why am I a vegetarian?

1. Because a significant percent of carbon emissions come from livestock production. By significant, I mean 18%, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

This was the reason I started cutting meat in the first place.

2. It’s not that I think we humans shouldn’t eat meat. It’s that I believe we’re doing it wrong.

Factory farming is still a relatively new thing. And nothing about it sits well with me. Too few companies own too much off meat industry. And “free-range” and “cage-free” simply don’t translate to better livestock treatment (I’m not saying they can’t, but the labels are only a guarantee of a higher price tag). Male chicks of egg laying hens are still immediately killed. Male cows of milk producing cows live long enough to become veal.

3. “I want to minimize the number of deaths I am responsible” – Hazel, John Green, The Fault in our Stars

4. Ethical and environmental aspects aside, I don’t want to consume animals that have endured factory farming.

Vets may approve, but I don’t want to eat a pig that has eaten pig.

I don’t want to eat beef from a cow who has eaten a “concentrated mix of corn, soy, grains, and other supplements, plus hormones and antibiotics” for most of it’s life.

I don’t want to eat chicken when I know the bird has spent it’s entire life living legitimately wing to wing with other chickens, and never seeing the sun.

5. Because we are running out of water and we are losing forests at an alarming rate.

6. Because I do not need to eat meat to get enough protein. Or whatever other nutrient you think I might be lacking.

Paying attention to the foods you’re eating (veggies, percent whole grains, etc.) is important regardless. And if you’re paying attention already, identifying and consuming the nutrients you need for a vegetarian diet is pretty simple.

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7. Because there are so many delicious plant based foods. And vegetarian/vegan cooking is actually really easy- and most of my favorite recipes are meat eater approved.

Not sure where to start? There are a ton of great vegetarian/ vegan cooking blogs out there. These are a few of my favorites:

Oh, She Glows
Minimalist Baker
Chocolate Covered Katie

 

For a long time I was comfortable being aware of these facts and still eating meat. But the less I ate it, the better I felt.

I’m still working on cutting out/ down on eggs and dairy – I’m not saying this is easy. But I think it is more than worth it.

If you made it to the end- thank you! I hope you found this informative. If you’re looking for more information (because clearly I don’t have enough links in this post already), be sure to check these articles out:

The Skinny Bitch book’s argument for veganism.

NPR: visualizing a nation of meat eaters

Picture This (4/18/14)

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Happy Friday, folks!

It’s been a pretty wonderful week in Pittsburgh (minus the snow on Tuesday- uh what the eff?) & the sunshine has put me in a pretty wonderful mood. Flowers and green buds are popping up everywhere and goddamn do we deserve some nice weather.

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It’s salad season! Which in my mind is mid April through September. In the winter not so much- my food has to be warm because I’m cold. Always. But in summertime the crispness and freshness and overall deliciousness (too many -ness’s but you get the point) are just perfect.

I made big batches this brussel sprout salad and a variation of this “reset button” salad.

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Warm weather also means the return of sidewalk chalk! Apparently it’s popular in the strip? We really need to break ours out. I need to hopscotch now that I’m allowed (so last year when that doc lied and said my bone was mostly healed? He said I could do most things except run and play hopscotch- not kidding).

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This one has been on a cement wall for ages (I kept forgetting to take a pic) and it looks just like a cartoon the lovely Molly used to draw all the time in middle school!

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Now if you excuse me I’m off celebrate a successful day of work & this amazing thing called spring! I’ll be celebrating with Friday night baking, possibly probably wine, and a very special tea party at Eva’s tomorrow.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Favorite things… Pretending it’s summer

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This past week has rocked.

There were a lot of reasons why but they boil down to two categories: the incredible (and fun!) people in my life, and temperatures over 70 degrees.

I’m grateful for:
– getting to enjoy two+ hours of eating, drinking, and laughing at a unique and delicious restaurant
– first bubble tea of the year
-getting to visiting a quiet parklet to hoop my heart out with Eva
– giving hooping lessons at 2am to strangers
– the perfect everything bagel sandwich (though not for the hangover that required it…)
– dress and flat weather
– Looney Tunes. Particularly the Pittsburgh Orchestra version, and particularly when seeing it with someone who appreciates it as much as me
– barefootedness
– reading on the porch, in my dress and barefeet, with no one where else to be
– Kyle: for cuddles, mad men discussions, and calling me on my bullshit 🙂

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Zoo Diaries: Rascal’s Favorite Things

One of our regular installments is Dana’s “Favorite Things” posts. Since she hasn’t written one of those in a while, we asked Rascal to compile his own gratitude list.

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Weekends

Drastic reductions in crate time, boredom, and envy of the free-roaming cats. Drastic increases in time spent outside, time spent with humans, and treats. Also, I get to sleep in the bed.

Cats

They’re fun to chase, and occasionally to snuggle with. But mostly chase.

Rope

This is the best toy ever.

Ball

Wait, no, this is.

Outside

RUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUN

Hiding Stuff Under the Bed

Toys, garbage, shoes…pretty much anything the humans leave on the floor. They still do not seem to grasp the concept of ownership – namely, that anything on the floor belongs to me. Possession is nine-tenths.

Telling Strangers That I Am a Dog

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What are you grateful for this week?