Tuesday, September 30, 2014

MoFo #30: Liebster Awards x2

This MoFo, I've been nominated twice for the fun Liebster Awards. It's just a little way to connect with other bloggers and do something fun. It was suggested as a great way to end MoFo, so I'm going to do that. Tomorrow, I will share all the leftover photos that didn't make it into a post. :)

I received the first nomination from May The Veg Be With You.

(1) Favorite herb or spice - Chipotle powder! I like it spicy.

(2) #1 pantry staple - dried beans, since my spice cabinet doesn't seem like a proper answer. [Actually, I don't have a spice cabinet anymore. Donated everything to Food Not Bombs in Houston in prep for this move to Japan.]

(3) Fondest food memory - My grandma used to bake hardcore when we were kids. My mom is a mediocre cook, so seeing my grandma make pies from scratch as a kid was really cool.

(4) #1 comfort food - Anything with sugar, I love a good cookie or cupcake. ;)

(5) I'm vegan for the animals. I don't want to kill animals myself or pay someone to do the dirty work for me.

(6) My favorite vegan restaurant is Gracias Madre in Mission District, SF. Amaze-balls.

(7) Foods I can't live without - tofu, chickpeas, sugar

(8) Last meal selection - Hmmm that's tough one... It's a toss up between Mexican food and Southern comfort foods.

(9) I used to hate onions, but now I use them all the time. I really only dislike fennel seeds and anise. If it's vegan, I'll probably eat it.

(10) If I could be a kitchen utensil in my next life, I'd like to be something practical, like a sharp chef's knife.

I received my second nomination from Self Sufficient Cafe.

(1) I could not do without tofu and chickpeas (so versatile)... and sugar.

(2) Last dinner in 3 courses - Mexican food or Southern comfort foods - those don't come in courses, but I'll take 2 dessert courses. ;)

(3) Current favorite show is Big Bang Theory, except I kinda dislike Penny.

(4) Favorite comedian is Eddie Izzard, for sure. Saw him in Houston!

(5) Favorite junk food is anything with sugar - cookies, cupcakes, candy bars. I'm a sugar junkie, what can I say?

(6) I've been vegan for 5 years, with another almost-5 years as a vegetarian before that.

(7) Has your health improved since turning vegan? --> I've always been pretty healthy, but I guess I bloat a little less without cheese in my diet. I was mostly borderline underweight as a teen, so I've actually had more weight fluctuations as a veg than as an omni. I went veg at 18, but my senior year of college and last year of grad school made me chunky. Once the stress goes down, the weight slowly comes off (or faster if I work out). From my mom's genetic contributions, I don't usually have problems controlling my weight until I eat a 3000+ calorie/day diet (cheese in college, vegan cookies in grad school).

(8) I had never heard of nutritional yeast. I thought it was so nasty the first couple times I tried it. Now I love it!

(9) My favourite smell... Hmmmm... Today the answer is my dude's laundry detergent smell. We haven't seen each other in 5 weeks!

(10) A typical Sunday in Houston involved going to vegan brunch group, working around the house, and running errands. The dude and I would get together for Game of Thrones when it was on tv, even though we rarely hung out on Sunday evenings. Right now, I'm in Florida on vacation, so I sleep in and then help my mom with whatever she needs to do on her day off work.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

MoFo #29: Midnight Beauty Grapes

OK, so grapes probably shouldn't get an entire post, but I'm loving these Midnight Beauty grapes lately! I should enjoy grapes while I can because the dude said grapes and apples are super expensive in Japan. I saw a market with a sign that said Cotton Candy Grapes. I'll have to try those sometime in the next 2 weeks, as well as enjoying my mini gala apples!
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Sunday, September 28, 2014

MoFo #28: The Best Sandwich

The title might be an exaggeration, but this sandwich was an awesome lunch. I saw in a vegan food photos group on fb that Super Target now carries Sweet Earth seitan products. The posted photo was a breakfast burrito! Well, I zipped over to Super Target this morning in search of this burrito and some items for my Halloween costume. In the freezer section, I found so many awesome items! They were out of the breakfast burritos because they were on sale. There were a couple of another burrito type left, but two whole shelves were wiped out. I saw the Sweet Earth burgers and BACON. In the same area, there were other vegan meats - Target's store brand, Gardein, Hilary's Eat Well burgers, and some Quorn and Morningstar (not all vegan, so read those labels!). The new Target store brand Simply Balanced vegan meats looked SO GOOD, but I'm trying to limit the amount of stuff I buy before my trip. The mushroom miso vegan turkey was calling my name at only $4, but I might go back for those! The meatless chicken choices are Korean BBQ, chipotle, and teriyaki. OK, time to explain this awesome sandwich. I grabbed the vegan bacon and some Hilary's vegetable bites. The sandwich was toasted wheat bread, half an avocado sliced, a handful of spinach, two big pieces of jarred roasted red pepper, and four slices of vegan bacon. NOM NOM NOM. I served the sandwich with the veggie tots with sriracha ketchup and had a Tofutti drumstick for dessert. I spent the rest of the afternoon painting the front room. :)
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Saturday, September 27, 2014

MoFo #27: Pizza Casserole, Pizza Crescents

I love Randomofo.com for browsing MoFo goodness. I came across a pizza casserole at MoBettaVegan! I had a few Tofurky pepperonis left over from making the pizza crescents (simply crescent rolls with a little Daiya and Tofurky pepperoni rolled inside, then dipped in pizza sauce after cooking). For the casserole, I used marinated Italian mushrooms instead of fresh. My mom picked up the mushrooms and canned tomatoes on her way home from work, so she thought I meant jarred mushrooms when I asked for canned tomatoes and mushrooms. I skipped making the nutty parmesan and just sprinkled on nutritional yeast. I also did not use as much Daiya as listed in the recipe because I didn't have that much left in my bag. It was so good and it makes a huge pan, which is always a plus for me! My mom and I usually don't eat the same thing, so I like cooking for a few days at a time. Speaking of my mom, she told me that she told 4 or 5 people at her work about Cowspiracy. My idea of ordering her some vegan books for xmas suddenly seems less crazy! :)

EDIT 9-30-14: My mom had 2 BIG servings of this casserole and liked it. She's been eating my vegan meats, asking about nooch and chia seeds, and seems open to trying some vegan dressings to replace her calorie-dense oily/eggy dressings!

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Friday, September 26, 2014

MoFo #26: Out for Lunch - Genghis Grill, WF Sushi

My mom and I were running errands last week around lunchtime. She's always concerned about where I can find food. I tell her we can go anywhere and I'll be fine. As we driving down the road, we saw that Genghis Grill was open. I thought that location had closed, but I was happy to see it's still open. The idea is that you build your own bowl, it gets cooked on a big grill, and they add a starch of your choosing. The ingredients bar starts with animal protein, but I skipped down to the spices and veggies. I noticed they had a mixed bean selection in the veggie area, that's new! I chose tofu (of course), baby corn, bamboo shoots, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and one of the sauces that did not list shellfish or dairy in the allergens or contain honey in the name. I picked udon noodles for the starch, then topped the bowl with sesame seeds, crushed peanuts, and sriracha.
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As I said in an earlier post, I went out looking for Halloween costume stuff and stopped at Whole Foods in Tampa. I picked up sushi and veggie dumplings for lunch. I used the little packet of low salt soy sauce to add a little umami. I was able to sit outside and enjoy my little lunch before heading back home. I did find a dress and shoes for my costume! I still need two more things, but I have a little more time before I go to Japan. :)
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

MoFo #25: Cowspiracy & Burgers

Tonight I took my mom to see Cowspiracy at our local theater. The group Florida Voices for Animals arranged the screening. The theater was about two-thirds full, so that's upbeat! I told her that it was not going to be a graphic movie, so she did not freak out about going to an animal rights type movie. She really seemed to like Howard Lyman's comments and even picked up some literature. I've been trying to talk to her about being vegan and eating a plant-based diet while I'm home because she has borderline cholesterol and high blood pressure. She says it's genetic, but I have my doubts. She definitely has some lifestyle habits she could change. She doesn't eat much beef, but she does eat chicken, dairy, and pork in addition to smoking and consuming copious amounts of caffeine. (I can definitely tell where I got my caffeine addiction from, haha.) She is very active because our yard requires A LOT of upkeep, she works on 1.5 acres for the house and let the goats maintain the back 1.5 acres. The ironic part of the day is that we went to Red Robin (a fast casual burger joint) for lunch. It was that or Panera Bread. I wanted the unlimited french fries. I got a Boca vegan burger on a sesame bun. The website says the bun is free of dairy and eggs, they use soybean oil for frying, and they offer a vegetarian Gardenburger and a vegan Boca patty at no extra charge. I had my burger, fries, and extra serving of fries. Not bad, but they don't seem to grill the patty. I guess that prevents cross-contamination. It was a nice to try a new place, but I don't think there will be any Red Robins near me in the near future.
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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

MoFo #24: Beyond Meat Beefy Tacos

I tried the Beyond Meat chicken a while ago, but did not really like it. The texture freaked me out. But I wanted to give Beyond Meat a second chance with their beef-style crumbles. I figured the crumbles were less likely to have texture issues. I picked up a bag of the regular crumbles knowing tacos would be in my future! I sauteed some onion, garlic, bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes before adding the crumbles to the skillet. The package said to be careful to not overcook. I added the crumbles when I put the shells into the oven to crisp. I used a pre-made taco seasoning packet for convenience. When the shells were crispy, I added a scoop of the crumbles with veggies, then topped with sliced avocado, a sprinkle of nooch, and spinach (instead of lettuce). NOM NOM NOM.
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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

MoFo #23: Gardein Fishless Filets

I never liked fish. My mom occasionally prepared shrimp or crab legs, but never fish. I was curious about the Gardein fishless filets since they were so well reviewed. I have tried a few of the Sophie's vegan seafood items, but didn't love any of them. The Sophie's stuff is ok, but it's not something I would buy due to the cost. My mom let me use her car the other day to go search for Halloween items. I decided to swing by WF in Tampa for lunch and do a little shopping. I wanted to find Just Mayo, Gardein Fishless Filets, and Theo's PB cups. I did not find the Theo's PB cups (boo), but I did find the Just Mayo and Gardein Fishless Filets. I got a few other items that I'll share in another post and left behind a few items that I might try before I go to Japan. I made the fishless filets for dinner the other night with a box of Road's End alfredo style vegan gluten-free mac. I did not like the mac and cheese, but the fishless filets were GREAT. They had a hint of fishy taste and reminded me of fish sticks. My mom took a bite and said they did remind her of fish sticks. The fishy taste was not overpowering, just enough to be fishy. Very interesting.
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Monday, September 22, 2014

MoFo #22: Meals with Shortcuts

I have a few simple meals to share. Gotta love those meals that come together when you've got to clean out the fridge/pantry. First up, I made a lentil taco bowl. I cooked some lentils in my rice cooker then seasoned them, sauted some frozen peppers and onions, microwaved a bag of brown rice and another bag of frozen corn, and put these together into a large bowl. I topped with a generous serving of premade salsa and a quick cheesy sauce (from The 30 Minute Vegan book). I stirred everything together before eating, but I wanted to try to show the layers in the photo. The next quick meal is Upton's seitan chunks cooked with peppers, tomatoes, and matchstick carrots. I added BBQ sauce to the chunks and made sandwiches. My friend got a bunch of free Upton's from his job, so I scooped a few packages from his stash (he offered on fb to share). There is nothing easier to make than a sandwich for dinner. The last quick meals are tofu stir-fry - just toss whatever veggies you have in the skillet, add tofu, make a sauce (coconut curry using half a can of coconut milk that I had frozen or soy sauce/sriracha) and make a grain. Done.
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Sunday, September 21, 2014

MoFo #21: Vegan Monkey Bread Simplified

When my mom and I were in Walmart last week, she spotted a frozen monkey bread. I checked the ingredients and it was definitely not vegan. I said I could make us some monkey bread, surely there would be recipes on google. Well, many recipes used dough from scratch or canned biscuits. I checked the ingredients on Pillsbury biscuits and they all had milk. I kept searching the web and eventually found this page where they used pizza dough. Brilliant! Publix and Whole Foods both sell pizza dough balls. They make them and let them rise before bagging them up. To make pizza, you'd need a second rise, but not for this monkey bread! I went out to the store this morning and picked up a ball of pizza dough. I let the dough come to room temp while I gathered my other ingredients (from this link) and let the oven preheat. I wasn't able to find a bundt pan in my mom's cabinets, but she had a springform cake pan. I mixed the cinnamon and sugar in a big zipper bag. I plucked off a few pieces of dough at a time and rolled them into balls, then put them in the zipper bag for a shake. When all of the dough was used, I melted some Earth Balance in the microwave and mixed in dark brown sugar. I poured that over the top and popped the pan into the oven. My mom came in from mowing right as they finished. I whipped up a glaze with powdered sugar and soy milk. We dug in! She couldn't even wait for me to grab my phone from the next room for the photo. Talk about diabetes - dough in cinnamon sugar, coated in vegan butter and brown sugar, and glazed with powdered sugar. CARBS.
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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Dodgeball, An Earthquake, & Shuba Shuba

We met playing kickball. We both played in the WAKA leagues in the past. Eventually we ended up on the same team. There is no kickball league in Tokyo, but the dude found a dodgeball group! We made so many friends through kickball, so I have high hopes for dodgeball. The dodgeball group plays monthly, not weekly. The dude attended an open gym session and a tournament last weekend. After the open gym, the group went to a British pub. How cool! People went out after the tournament, but the dude skipped it.
Dodgeball & a trip to a British pub on Saturday night.

This was a scary text! There was a 5.4 magnitude earthquake in Japan this week. The dude was at work, so he put on the hardhat provided by his company. He said his office is not close to the epicenter, so that's good news. The newer buildings have rollers to stabilize them. He said he felt like was on a boat.
The dude experienced his first earthquake in Japan. Eek!

After a few days of falling asleep after dinner, the dude sent me this photo of Shuba Shuba. I had never heard of it, but you can read this link for info.
The dude went out for shuba shuba last night.

MoFo #20: So Many Mac & Cheeses

Earth Balance's new mac and cheeses in a box are great. So simple. The orange cheddar is a little better than the white cheddar. The orange one isn't as pungent or electric orange in color as that other big brand. I really wish the box was three times as big!
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I also made a new roux-based recipe. I can't seem to find the recipe link. It's similar to this recipe though. It wasn't as creamy as I would have liked; I guess I'm spoiled by cashew sauces. The second photo is Isa's chipotle mac!
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Friday, September 19, 2014

MoFo #19: Sweet Earth Seitan

I recently discovered Sweet Earth seitan products. I have tried two types of veggie burgers from the company, the Santa Fe and Teriyaki varieties. The Santa Fe burger has black beans, corn, and green chiles. The Teriyaki burger has ginger, garlic, and green onions. I made the Santa Fe patties into your usual burger, cooking them on the stovetop. However, for the Teriyaki burgers, I decided to make a bowl. This was a total cheater meal - microwavable brown rice, frozen peppers and onions, the seitan burgers, and soy sauce and chili garlic sauce for extra flavor. I added a few sesame seeds and Sriracha on top of the bowl.
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Thursday, September 18, 2014

MoFo #18: Cashewtopia Gelato, CoYo Yogurt, and Hatch Chiles

I found this Cashewtopia vegan gelato in the Tampa Whole Foods. I'm home for the month of September, so my mom and I are spending time together when she's off work. We went to WF one day for lunch and because I wanted to buy supplements. I couldn't help but browse a little after I got the items I wanted. Each store carries slightly different inventory, so it can't hurt to look. My mom has a love of chocolate and cherry together, plus she's an ice cream addict. I knew she would love this! It tastes great, but it does melt quickly. I also snagged some EB mac, Beanfields, and EB puffs. We have a family function coming up and I'm bringing my own food and snacks.
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When I was still in Houston, I found this new CoYo coconut cream yogurt at HEB. It is the fatty part of coconut milk (the cream) cultured for yogurt. It's tangy and thick, but goodness what a calorie bomb. This little container (~5 oz) is over 300 calories. Geez. Most vegan yogurts are about half that! I normally don't count calories, but I don't know if I'd eat this yogurt often. It's all fat, high calorie, and about $5 for a single container!
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Another HEB find was HATCH CHILE goodies. I had never heard of hatch chiles before moving to Texas. There are mild and hot varieties. I bought a salsa and tortillas (made in-store!) with the mild varieties and a guacamole with the hot variety. I used these to make quesadillas, an obvious choice. I added vegan refried beans (the cans marked vegetarian and fat-free are usually vegan) and cheddar Daiya inside the tortilla, baked them in the oven, and then topped with the salsa and guac. Quick and simple.
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

MoFo #17: Irregardless Cafe - Raleigh, NC

As I mentioned in a previous post, I went to visit the dude's family. I had never met his family in person, so it was a big deal. We used Facetime to talk when the Japan move was announced. They wanted to meet the person who was dropping everything to move with their son. Fair enough. His family was super nice. Sometimes I feel like my family rushes to get through holidays, but the dude's family seemed content just being around each other. His sister is married and they have a baby. After having a baby, they moved really close to his parents, like a half mile away from his parents' house. They joked about the house across the street being for sale, but I don't see his job ever allowing him to live in NC. His dad works in the business side of biotech/medical. He currently works for a company that models disease risk based on biometrics. Because his work has always been health-focused, his parents were totally cool with eating vegan food at home during our visit. They eat mostly plants anyway (70-80% they said!), but also some fish, no cheese but some milk, etc. They told the dude he looked much better (he's lost 20 lbs in the last year), which made me laugh because I thought the dude was pretty lean before he lost all that weight (from p90x3 and a wicked case of strep throat). One day we ventured out for lunch and some sightseeing. We stopped at Irregardless Cafe. I ordered the vegan polenta lasagna. Nom. We walked around a local grocery, saw UNC and NC State, went to the farmers' market, and stopped for this lunch. One night we even walked around their neighborhood after dinner. It was a busy few days, but I'm glad we achieved this relationship milestone. :)
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

MoFo #16: Thai Cottage - Houston, TX

Mofo wouldn't be complete without a Thai Cottage post. We had to get here one last time. We ordered the yellow curry, his favorite. There are lots of potatoes, carrots, and tofu chunks in a rich coconut sauce. I normally order fried tofu, but the dude prefers the baked tofu. This is one of the few places that does not use fish sauce in their curries. They have egg noodles listed on the appropriate entrees, so it's pretty clear what is vegan-friendly.
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Monday, September 15, 2014

MoFo #15: Phoenicia Specialty Foods - Downtown, Houston, TX

When I was downtown for the Comic Con with the dude and another friend, we escaped the con's chaos for a walk. We saw a festival happening on Discovery Green, but we couldn't figure out if there was an admission. We listened to the music for a bit and even saw some people dressed in Carnival-style dance outfits. Houston is such an interesting city, there is always something going on. After walking around Discovery Green, we walked down to Phoenicia Specialty Foods. It's a market with a restaurant/bar attached. The restaurant part did not have a vegan-friendly menu, so I went into the market part for a few bites. I found vegan sushi, lentil salad, and elephant beans in tomato sauce. The lighting wasn't the best for a photo, but it was tasty.
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Sunday, September 14, 2014

MoFo #14: Hobbit Cafe - Houston, TX

Many people have recommended the Hobbit Cafe to me over the last year. The dude and I finally ventured over there this summer. We had the spinach and mushroom enchiladas with mole sauce, but I requested no cheese. I really enjoyed this meal. It felt like comfort food! Next time we'll need to try their veggie burger. Hobbit Cafe has some really interesting decor, we got a kick out of the old posters and trinkets. There are movie posters, carvings, figurines, and all things Hobbit/LOTR related on the walls.
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Saturday, September 13, 2014

MoFo #13: Potbelly's Sandwich Shop - Houston, TX

Well, on 4th of July, Potbelly's was one of the few places open in Midtown. We had planned to grab dinner and head over to the park for fireworks. Our first stop was closed, whomp whomp. Luckily, we saw a Potbelly's nearby with the lights on. I got the Mediterranean sandwich without the feta cheese and added mushrooms. The regular bread is vegan, according to their website, but not the multigrain. By the time we arrived at our friend's house with these sandwiches, we gobbled them down. We brought chips to the party, and snagged some fruit and other little snack foods from the buffet set up. This sandwich hit the spot after thinking we'd end up skipping dinner to avoid being late for fireworks.
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Friday, September 12, 2014

MoFo #12: Local Foods - Rice Village, Houston, TX

My friend and I enjoy going to Local Foods for lunch. We usually go to the Rice Village Starbucks for our Sunday afternoon friend date, but we decided to do lunch and Starbucks one last time. I'm going to miss her a lot. I've asked the dude to consider using some of his airline miles to fly her to Japan next year. We'll see how her work stuff goes since her lab is in a bad place financially. Local Foods has vegan chili, falafel, and bahn mi. I like the tofu bahn mi the best. I get the homemade chips seasoned with Old Bay and the quinoa salad. They do have a kale side that can be vegan without the parmesan. Just make sure to be patient, because that place gets SO busy at lunchtime.
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