Giving Thanks Via List…Duh.

Today while I was in the shower before work worrying about how I was going to get home for Thanksgiving before the Eastern NY storm that is now hitting my hometown, I decided on a whim to take a sick day and trek home at 7 a.m. before it got too nasty outside.

After a treacherous last hour of my 4.5 hour journey home, which included at least 3 almost accidents and white knuckling it through my town before pulling over and begging my plowman (thank god) dad to pick me up at the coffee shop down the road from my house, I finally got home and settled.

So, because it’s Thanksgiving Eve, and because I’m not dead on the side of the road (sorry for the image), here is a compiled list of some things I’m thankful for.

  1. My Falafel with Tahini Garlic Sauce recipe being published on elephant journal yesterday! (Check it out and give me some love hehe).
  2. Like I said before, my dad being a highway worker and coming to my rescue when I was shaking in fear from snowy roads.
  3. Being downstate in my house with the fire going, my oatmeal face mask on, Gilmore Girls playing and some tea by my side.
  4. Starting Oil Pulling. Just from a week of it, I’ve noticed my teeth already whiter, my stupid Halloween break out FINALLY getting cleared up, and increased energy and fresher breath. Try this guys!
  5. Making this Vegan Buffalo Chickpea Dip so I can chow down tomorrow even though I’m the only vegan in my family…again, TRY THIS. I just had a spoonful because I just couldn’t resist and it’s even better than buff chicken dip since it’s full of healthy fats, meatless and even more flavorful!
  6. My eccentric family that I love despite it’s quirky sense of dramatics.
  7. Getting to see my best friends while I’m home
  8. My indescribably incredible boyfriend who also happens to be my best homie and roommate.
  9. Holding a headstand and pushing up from chatarunga into updog cleanly during yoga today
  10. A life I truly love that’s even sweeter because of how hard I worked for it.

Happy Thanksgiving, beautiful bloggers! I encourage everyone to take some time and think of 10 (or more of course) things you’re thankful for.

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Sweet Potato Black Bean Chipotle Chili and Corn Beer Bread

Just like any other self-respecting foodie, cold temps mean a crap ton of root vegetables flooding your cabinets at all times since they’re all dirt cheap, and one pot comforts.

Last week at the Public Market, I loaded up with four HUGE sweet potatoes for $1 and completely forgot about their existence until I looked on my list of food to make for this past week (sometimes I’m a cooking dweeb, sue me), and saw that sweet potato chili was at the top.

So, with that at the forefront of my Saturday where I spent the day reveling in the gift that is time alone, I embarked on a journey of good old fashioned comfort food with a healthy and extra spicy twist, along with a side of delicious in the shape of a loaf.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large can tomato puree or diced tomatoes
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 1 can of green chiles
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cups veggie broth
  • 3 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1 handful cilantro
  • 4 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • salt & pepper to taste

In your microwave, cook your sweet potatoes half way so they’re just starting to soften. While they’re pre-cooking, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat in a large soup pot. Add onions and peppers and cook for 5 minutes. Next, add garlic and dry lentils, stirring to incorporate everything. Add the veggie broth, and bring mixture to a boil. When it comes to a boil, turn heat down to a simmer and place a lid on the pot, cooking until the lentils are tender.

Next, cube the partially cooked sweet potatoes and add them to the lentils and veggies, along with the can of tomato, can of black beans, chopped chipotle peppers, and can of green chiles, stirring to incorporate again. Once everything is mixed together nicely, add the chile poweder, cumin, salt and pepper and stir once more, tasting to see if it’s to your liking.

Simmer the chili over medium-low heat for at least a half an hour so the sweet potatoes finish cooking and the flavors merry. Once chili is done, taste test, add any more seasonings, and add handful of chopped, fresh cilantro, giving the chili one last stir.

Last week, I made a version of Blissful Britt’s Beer Bread that Collin and I pounded down in about two days. For this chili, I wanted corn bread, but I also wanted some of that beery goodness again, so I made Corn Beer Bread!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 cups unbleached white flour or whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 1 bottle good quality beer that you adore (Baba Black Stout for me)
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup melted earth balance vegan butter, plus a bit more for coating the bread with before the oven.
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup

In a large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients and give a thorough mix. Next, add bottle of beer, melted butter, and maple syrup. Mix with a wooden spoon until everything is combined and no lumps remain. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until a fork comes out clean.

This bread was moist like the classic beer bread, but still had that crumby, cornbread-y texture I was looking for, so I’d say it was a success and a half.

It went perfectly with my sweet and spicy chili and made for one stick-to-your-soul kinda holiday time meals….you know what I mean.

Enjoy!

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Exercise Blues

For all of you non-New Yorkers who aren’t aware that Mother Nature has lost her shit and is dumping foot upon foot of snow on Western NY, let me tell you, not being in Buffalo is what I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Here in Roch, just one hour East of Buffalo, we’ve only gotten a total of about 6 inches, which is just enough to be winter wonderland-y, but not so much that getting to work is virtually impossible.

But, as beautiful and magic-filled as the snow may look, it’s cold. It’s so, so cold.

Since I’ve lived in western NY since I was 18 and starting college, you’d think I would be used to not just the bone-chilling cold that seems to just laugh at my misery all winter long, but also the harsh wind that seems never to cease. But, I’m still not used to it, and I don’t think I’ll EVER be used to it.

My body just doesn’t agree with the cold. I’m pretty positive I didn’t officially thaw out after last winter until around June of this year. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m a smaller individual with not much body fat, or if I have some sort of legitimate issue with my circulation or what, but during every winter I am in a constant state of cold…shivering, don’t-touch-me-if-you-don’t-want-frostbite COLD. My hands, my feet, my nose, everything is cold to the touch.

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Me, all winter long.

The worst thing about being cold isn’t the usual agony of not being able to feel my feet even with two pairs of socks on, or my heating bill going through the roof in order to function in my house…. It’s not being motivated to exercise!

While on the positive side of things, I’ve built a consistent and improving yoga practice, and go to class at least 2-3 times per week, my cardio has been lacking in so many ways.

The treadmill at the gym at work is always taken during lunch and running outside right now is out of the question, so I’ve been turning to my old friends T25 and Insanity to get my cardio fix. While I love these workouts and used to get so pumped doing them, lately I just cannot find my JUICE. Ya know, that feeling you get right when you’re in the thick of things during your workout, when you feel your most badass….yeah, my juice cup seems to be empty, and my workouts have been half-assed, not badass.

All I can think about during my workouts is being done, getting in a hot shower, eating a ton of hot food,  getting into long johns of some sort and knitting the night away. Apparently the cold has made me age 60 years.

I have incorporated more strength exercises into my workouts which anyone who knows me know I absolutely HATE and have even turned to my childhood favorite past time of jump roping, where I have found some of my juice, but it’s just not the same.

I guess I just A) miss running and B) would rather be cozy 24/7 than workout these days.

In hopes of not turning into a hopeless, pudgy couch potato, does anyone have any tips on how to get motivated to workout this winter? Any workout suggestions? I’d really like to keep improving my fitness, and need something new to jazz it up.

Please enlighten me, beautiful bloggers, I need ya.

Peace, Love, and WARMTH.

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Vegan Black Bean Enchiladas

One of the greatest things that came out of my mom and ex step dad’s (I know it sounds weird and kinda white trash but that’s the correct term so deal with it) marriage, besides forming an excellent relationship with said ex stepdad that influenced my deepening spirituality in terms of the universe when I was barely a teenager, was the enchiladas he introduced to our family.

His brother and sister-in-law live in New Mexico, and would send him authentic New Mexican chile powder from the Chile Shop every year for Christmas, causing my sister, step brothers and I to basically go into premature food comas just thinking about the mass amount of enchiladas my step dad would make in the coming months.

I know many people don’t think that the chile powder makes the enchilada, but I’m here to tell you that in the case of my ex stepdad’s enchiladas, this was, in fact, the deal breaker.

There was nothing too incredible about the enchiladas I fell in love with as a kid besides the sauce. They were filled with shredded chicken (sans spices, I might add), and mexican blend cheese from walmart. BUT, when the sauce soaked into the corn tortillas and into my heart, I couldn’t stop myself from inhaling enchilada after enchilada at the table, and counting down the minutes until my lunch period so I could dig in again and be the envy of my friends at school the next day.

Last year my mom got me a pack of said deliciously amazing Chile Powder:

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And let me tell you, I have impressed myself with the level of self-control I’ve had with this magical crack sauce in my clutches, only making a few batches of enchiladas throughout the year.

Well, last night I used the last of my beloved powder, and made enchiladas that I believe would still be delicious using another chile powder, and also unlike my childhood enchiladas, 100% vegan!

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For the Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp. Flour
  • 8 tbsp. Dixon Chile Powder (or your favorite chile powder)
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1 3/4 cup veggie broth
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced, or 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • salt & pepper to taste

In a saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil and flour, whisking together until it forms a thick paste. Next, add chile power and garlic, and combine. Add tomato paste and veggie broth, whisking everything together until it’s well-incorporated and silky. Bring to a bubble, and simmer until it reaches your desired thickness. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For the Enchiladas:

  • 1 can organic black beans, rinsed
  • 1 pack corn tortillas
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 package button or baby bella mushrooms
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup enchilada sauce
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin

Heat pan over medium heat and add olive oil, sliced onions, sliced peppers, chopped mushrooms, spinach, garlic and beans, and saute for about 8 minutes or until softened and browned slightly. Add 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce from above once it’s finished, plus the salt, pepper, cumin, and red pepper flakes and stir together. Turn heat on low and cook for another 5 minutes. Let cool.

Once filling is cooled, spray baking dish with cooking spray. Heat corn tortillas in the microwave with a wet paper towel over them for about 2 minutes so they softened and become pliable. Ladle some of the sauce on the bottom of the baking dish, and coat both sides of a tortilla with the sauce before spooning in a spoonful of the filling. Roll carefully. Repeat this process until filling/tortillas as gone, and pour remaining enchilada sauce on top of the enchiladas. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 1/2 hour, or until middles are hot.

I served mine with a simple side of black beans and rice and some of my Guacamole. But you could also make some vegan sour cream, top with daiya pepperjack cheese, or some Salsa.

These enchiladas pulled at my heartstrings and tastebuds with my beloved sauce, hearty, flavorful filling, and veganized deliciousness.

Get your enchilada on.

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Monday Happy List: Third Edition

I am bumming HARD today, and have just about succumbed to my Monday blues.

I’m extremely fatigued, shaky, and a bit feverish (…flu anyone??) and made a stupid mistake at work simply from pressing the wrong button on my keyboard because of said pre-flu fog.

So, as usual, my Monday Happy List this week is an attempt to help cheer me up, lift the fog I’m hoping is just from lack of a good night’s sleep, and help me to stop and smell the roses.

  • THE FIRST REAL SNOWFALL OF THE SEASON! 
My best friend and I back when we were 16 and snow days meant one thing: Adventure.

My best friend and I back when we were 16 and snow days meant one thing: Adventure.

While I’m not a complete and total snow devotee, I am a complete seasons devotee. The East coast girl that I am, I’ve always appreciated the fact that I get to experience all four seasons and the unique glory that comes with each of them. And as a complete Christmas nut, waking up to fresh powder on my car only brought feelings of innocent excitement, and not the dread of starting my car for 15 minutes prior to using it…that’ll come after a few long, Rochester-y months of the white stuff.

I love the start of each season, and the snowfall today just reminds me of romps in the deserted road trekking to my eclectic little hometown with my best friends, it reminds me of Christmas magic, of baking mountains of cookies with my mom while blasting Jewel’s Christmas CD in the kitchen. Knowing that outside of my bustling workplace is falling snow brings peace to my heart, even though it’s in the midst of a bleak downtown.

  • MISS REPRESENTATION.

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Speaking of my best friend, she recommended this movie to me a few months ago and man oh man did it change our lives. As a proud feminist who has overcome (and is still overcoming) a lifetime of body image, self-esteem and depression issues, I was very eager to watch this movie. I recommend it to every person in America and elsewhere, woman or man to watch this movie, and realize what the media has done/continues to do to women everywhere, from distorting the minds of young girls into thinking they exist to look pretty and to be sexual objects, to creating the idea that men must see women in this way, that men must have power, status, and not show their emotions.

I re-watched this movie last night with Collin who, knowing about my personal struggles, wanted to see the movie (FYI THIS IS ON NETFLIX WATCH INSTANTLY…I ENCOURAGE EVERYONE TO GIVE IT A WATCH). I was especially effected by it this time around, as was Collin. I cannot stress enough how important it is to empower young women, to allow them to be who they are, from the inside out, to not let the media dominate our perceptions of reality. We cannot change the future if we do not change the present.

  • COOKIES!

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After we watched Miss Representation last night, I was in a very dark mood. While last time I watched the documentary, I was filled with empowerment and drive to embrace my mind, my spirit, and my power as a woman, this time around, I was overcome with grief for my younger self, who absolutely hated what she saw in the mirror, who she was as a person….everything about herself. I was filled with overwhelming empathy for girls going through what I went through today and I could not shut off the water works!

Collin, being the fucking angel he is, asked me what it would take to cheer me up before we went to bed and the first thing that came to my mind was to bake pumpkin cookies and listen to Christmas music. So, at 10:30 pm on a Sunday night, that’s exactly what we did. I got this recipe from Pinterest, and like an idiot, didn’t pin the stupid thing so I can’t credit it, but if you search for vegan pumpkin cookies, I’m sure you’ll find something to woo your tastebuds like these babies wooed mine!

I am so thankful for a guy who lets me be me, who goes along with my crazy ideas, and who doesn’t just “make me happy,” but is there for me, offering anything he can, while I discover how to make myself happy when I’m down. I’m also thankful for these cookies, which I topped with my homemade almond butter (post to be coming about that endeavor this week…).

  • APPLE CIDER VINEGAR!

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I know most everyone these days has heard/read something or another about how amazing apple cider vinegar is for literally everything, and I’m here to tell you that I am one of those suckers who believes it! For the past few months or so, I’ve been drinking a shot of ACV mixed with 12 oz. of water as soon as I wake up and let me tell you, they’re not lying (who is “they” anyway?!) when they say that this shit is a magical elixir from the gods. Not only is my digestion better than ever, after I drink my ACV water (while I plus my nose thoroughly, of course…vinegar is smelly business), I feel energized!

So, since using ACV as a digestion enhancer, I decided to take the plunge and use it as a facial toner as well. I’ve recently broke out around my mouth like I used to when I was in high school and I have no idea why! It hasn’t happened since I became a vegan, in fact my skin has been crystal clear, but all of a sudden PIMPLES EVERYWHERE AHHH! Anyway, after a week or so of constant pimple pop-ups, and my dermatologist-prescribed cream doing nothing to help, I mixed equal parts ACV with water and used a washcloth to rub it all over my face, and let it air dry. I woke up this morning with my pimples noticeably less red, less inflamed and even smaller!

I repeated my toning ritual this morning and my face is looking even better as the day goes on! Seriously, people, this shit is pure gold, whether it’s for drinking or slathering. Give it a try for a natural facial toner that has no chemicals or harsh, impossible-to-pronounce ingredients.

Well, as usual, writing this list has cheered me up a considerable amount…or it could just be the Pecan Pie clif bar I just inhaled and the fact that I only have an hour left at work (time flies when you blog on the job…).

If anyone watches Miss Representation, bakes cookies, basks in the snowy glory, or uses Apple Cider Vinegar for slurping or skin enhancing, let me know what you think/what you bake/if you made a snowman/if you smell slightly of sauerkraut like my vinegar-y self.

Oh, and have a happy friggin Monday!

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Tempeh Stir Fry with Peanut Miso Sauce

If you guys haven’t noticed, I love Asian food.

Specifically, Thai food is my all-time favorite cuisine (maybe tied with Mexican…maybe).

I usually make at least two Asian inspired dishes for dinner per week, and still can never get enough. I’m a complete savory food lover, preferring dinner to dessert any day, and Asian food always comes through in the clutch when I’m craving something flavorful, savory, and surprisingly healthy.

Since I had one of the most delicious Thai meals of my life a few weeks ago at the King and I in Rochester, (If anyone is a Rochestarian, GO! IT’S OUT OF THIS WORLD THAI FOOD), I’ve been in a Thai daze. All I want is to drench everything I eat in coconut milk, curry, peanut sauce, and sesame oil. I may have even considered making Thai style oatmeal for breakfast a few days ago…

Didn’t happen, but I really did consider it a possibility.

Anyway, I patiently waited for dinner a few nights ago rather than regretfully shovel in the world’s hottest mess of oatmeal (I don’t waste food so I would’ve forced myself to consume the whole darn thang).

Since I made that salad with Peanut Miso Dressing, I’ve been craving my King and I Thai dish even more. It was a spicy yet sweet coconut hot chili sauce over stir fried veggies and tofu….basically all of my favorite things heaped into one steamy, delicious pile. So, instead of spending the money to go back, I utilized what I had on hand, which happens to be a ton of Asian ingredients since I obviously have a slight obsession, and made this beauty:

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 Package Original Organic Tempeh
  • 1/2 Package Rice Noodles
  • 2 Cups Broccoli
  • 1 Onion, Diced
  • 1/2 Small Eggplant, Diced
  • 1/2 Red Bell Pepper, Diced
  • 1 Bunch Bok Choy, Roughly Chopped
  • 3 Large Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 tbsp. Sesame Oil
  • 2 tbsp. Organic Peanut Butter
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Light Miso Paste
  • 1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp. White Vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Sriracha Sauce
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Begin by cooking your rice noodles according to directions on box, and set aside. *Make sure they don’t overcook/stick together in one, mushy clump.*

Next, chop your tempeh into cubes, roughly chop all of your veggies, except the garlic, and add 1 tbsp. of the sesame oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chopped veggies to oil, and stir constantly until they are browned and softened. Lower heat to medium-low and prepare your sauce.

Add peanut butter to a small bowl, and microwave for 30 seconds to get it soft and pliable. Next, add the remaining 1 tbsp. sesame oil, miso paste, vinegar, soy sauce, sriracha, garlic, and salt & pepper. Whisk until mixture is smooth and incorporated thoroughly. 

Turn heat back to medium-high, and add sauce to tempeh and veggies, stirring to coat. Once veggies and tempeh are coated, add rice noodles and stir constantly until the sauce coats noodles, veggies, and tempeh, and everything is heated through. Serve with crushed peanut, bean sprouts, minced onions, or whatever you’d like and enjoy!

I served my dish with some Trader Joe’s Thai Lime Chili Cashews and some extra sriracha cause I’m a spice fiend.

This dish is seriously badass. The flavors are bold and beautiful, and it is one dish where I can definitely identify pure Umami goin’ on…Just flat our finger (or pan in my case) lickin’ good!

Enjoy lovely foodies of the internet!

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Check out my Elite Daily article out today!

I just recently became a contributing writer for Elite Daily, and my first article for them has been published TODAY! It’s about my thoughts, feelings, and general philosophy behind true friendship, and why I have always believed that less is more.

I would love it if you beautiful bloggers would take a look and let me know what you think!

My Article!

Have a most beautiful day!

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