Monday Happy List: I’m F***ing Freezing Edition

As the temperatures continue to drop and my work load continues to increase, I’ve kind of adopted a certain numbness when it comes to the unpleasant things in my life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still stopping to smell the roses and all of that good stuff, I’ve just realized the extent to which we as humans have the capacity to get used to pretty much anything.

The ungodly cold used to shock me when I trekked off to work, but now wearing leggings under my pants, a sweater, fleece, parka, two pairs of socks, hat and mittens is a standard I just don’t think twice about.

I used to consider myself “slammed” at work if I had to write three scripts in a day, but now I pump out four in the first half of my work day alone.

Despite this seemingly endless conveyor belt I’m on at work, and being in the midst of the Winter Without End, there’s always a happy list to be found.

  1. A New vegan restaurant just opened up in my hood! It’s called Vive, and it serves absolutely indescribably delicious casual French food. I cannot explain the excitement and general “Willy Wonka” feeling that bubbles up when I’m in an all vegan restaurant. Where most places I dine, I have to significantly alter a vegetarian option or just get a side salad, at vegan restaurants, I have an ENTIRE menu to choose from, something I once took for granted. Anyway, this place is just the bomb. The people were so so friendly, gave me free coffee from their fancy shmancy drip coffee thingy (I’m not up on the coffee lingo) and were so excited to hear that I’m a vegan! My best friend and I both got sandwiches and soups, and left 100 percent satisfied and honestly awed. My soup was a root vegetable with orzo and pesto and came with grilled bread and my sandwich was roasted red pepper with massaged kale and maple vinegarette on ciabatta. The sandwiches come with their homemade chips, made from carrots, sweet potatoes, and parsnips. TO. DIE. FOR. I think I sense a new go-to place!photo (57)
  2. Homemade Almond Milk & Oatmeal Raisin Cookies! After learning more and more about the harms of consuming carageenan and really trying to commit to making most of my kitchen staples homemade, I decided to give making homemade almond milk a go! Expecting it to be some kind of daunting process, I was pleasantly surprised when it was basically just soak almonds, drain, blend, and strain! You would not BELIEVE the world of difference between homemade and store bought almond milk..unreal! My almond milk is creamy, actually nutty, beautifully white, and rewarding. I’ve always hated cow’s milk even before I was a vegan, and never truly enjoyed a tall glass of ice cold milk until I poured myself a glass of this liquid ecstasy to go with some leftover oatmeal raisin cookies I made last week. I had my nostalgic snack on a sunny Sunday in my cozy apartment and finally let myself slow down from the prior week and remember that it’s the little things, ya feel me??

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ALMOND MILK:

  • 2 cups raw almonds, soaked over night
  • 6 cups fresh water
  • Cheesecloth or a nut milk bag (I used cheesecloth)

Once almonds are soaked over night, drain and rinse them well. Put in a blender with the 6 cups of water, and blend on high for 2 minutes or so. Place a fine strainer over a large bowl and pour the milk mixture through. Take whatever pulp is in the strainer and wrap it in cheesecloth, tightly squeezing the liquid into the bowl. Just to be extra careful I got all the grit out of my milk, I strained two more times through the strainer until there were no tiny pieces of almond grit left. Put in mason jars and keep in the fridge. I’m pretty certain it lasts about a week. I use mine for savory dishes as well as sweet, so I didn’t sweeten or flavor mine, but you could use fresh vanilla bean, dates, cinnamon, maple syrup, agave, etc. to make your own flavored milk.

The cookie recipe I got from good ol’ pinterest: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

3. Fun Cake Bakin! When i was in high school, I got super into baking cakes and cutting them into cool shapes/designs for special events, bdays, etc. Not gonna lie, I was pretty well known for it…at least in my group of friends who I baked them for. Since I hadn’t made one of my good ol’ fashioned funky cakes in about a year or so, I decided to whip up a cake for my friend Mike’s birthday this past weekend. He’s a huge dead head, jam band loving weirdo (sorry, hate jam bands) so I made him this Phish cake! While my cakes are always just a tiny bit ghetto, they always put a smile on my face and make the recipient happy, so I love to make ’em!

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Cheers to a week filled with warmth (yeah right…), relaxation, productivity, and fun.

Happy Monday!

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Why I Don’t Wear Makeup

I don’t wear makeup because I wake up

at 5 AM to kick box, stretch my limbs, work

up a sweat in any way I can before I conquer

the snow banks that conquer the sidewalks

lining my way to work.

There is no room for makeup beneath

my parka hood, my hipster hat, my hand

knitted scarf.

My cold-shed tears would wash away the handy

work of morning mirror time before my destination

came close.

I don’t wear makeup because my eyes itch

and I like to scratch them.

I don’t wear makeup because I do not dare

fall in love with a fake face I no longer

recognize. Mascara would murder

my multitude of freckles found lining

the trail of my pug nosed tip to the ears

plugged with piercings.

My lips stay the color of lips, my lids remain

crayon tan. My lashes are lanky by their own accord,

they need no nurturing.

My Cherokee cheeks cut knives

no brush can build, my eyes gleam

the green no pencil can puncture.

I don’t wear makeup so my skin can sigh,

gulp the air its been strangled by.

I don’t wear makeup because I won’t

let my beauty go down the drain at the end

of every day.

Current Cabbage Obsession + Asian Peanut Slaw

Just a few short months ago, if someone had mentioned cabbage as a tasty staple in his/her diet, I would have rolled my eyes and conjured up images from my childhood of my mom making that gratuitous pot of corn beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day.

…Ya know, the one you’re kinda obligated to make, but that no one really likes at all considering the fact that it makes your whole house reek for days on end/just isn’t tasty? (Sorry, Mom!)

Though I tolerated cabbage in things like spring rolls, I have never been a cabbage eater, and it didn’t make an appearance on my grocery list until I was strapped for cash and saw it for 50 cents a head at my local farmer’s market. Considering I’d recently seen countless Pinterest recipes highlighting this humble veg, I thought I’d stop being a little bitch about it and give it a go!

I added it to stir fries and curries, ate it raw in salads, and even made a wrap or two with it, falling in love with its crunch and surprising subtle sweetness.

Ever since that fateful day at the Public Market, I’ve tried to incorporate more cabbage into my diet, especially during weeks when I’ve been hit pretty hard in the money department.

This past week, I scooped up a GIGANTIC napa (or Chinese) cabbage to play around with, and decided to change my mind about cole slaw, which I also detested until this week based on my memories of it growing up…ya know, the mayonnaise-drenched, mucus-inducing, flavorless bowl of gunk at BBQs (sorry, Grandpa!)

In order to ensure I would like the slaw, I decided to go the Asian route, since I’m almost 100% guaranteed to adore anything Asian, as I’ve expressed many times. Thanks to Pinterest inspiration…Pinspiration? I concocted this recipe that I cannot keep my fork out of!

asianslaw

INGREDIENTS:

For the slaw:

  • 1/2 GIANT head of Chinese cabbage
  • 2 large carrots, shredded or cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cup edamame, unshelled
  • 2 scallions, minced

For the dressing:

  • 1 tbsp. organic crunchy or creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. grated ginger
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced/pressed
  • 1 tbsp. tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. sriracha
  • salt and pepper to taste

Chop your cabbage into ribbons and place in a large bowl. Add shredded carrots, scallions, and edamame and give a good mix. 

In a smaller bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients, tasting for seasoning and adding more salt and pepper as you please. Pour dressing over slaw mixture, and give a good mix to coat veggies with the dressing. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. The veggies will absorb the dressing and go down in volume quite a bit.

Trust me…this shit is GOOD, and quite magical seeing as it made me change my stubborn mind about slaws, and strengthened my new found devotion for cabbage.

Try this out and make believe it’s summer with me!

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Surviving Winter + Millet Stuffed Acorn Squash

Okay, Winter, your shit is getting pretty old.

When I wake up at 5 in the morning to bust out a workout, I get in my gear next to the saving grace that is my space heater (thanks, mom), carry it with me to the kitchen while I make breakfast since by then my sweat has dried and I’m even colder than I was when I woke up, and then proceed to wrap myself up in a blanket and fleece over my sweat-stained workout clothes to enjoy my breakfast with a side of Gilmore Girls.

The next part is the hardest: Dragging myself into the shower.

Obviously my space heater nips at my heels as it follows me into the bathroom while I shower, making it at least a bit bearable to leave the pseudo sauna that is my steamy shower.

Now that I’m dressed and semi-warm, the worst is yet to come.

I suit up and walk the one mile to work through the poorly-shoveled (and many, not shoveled at all) sidewalks, where it takes a surprising about of effort to balance my hat-ed and hooded head, backpack full to the brim with my lunch, snacks, and shoes to change into.

At work, my feet never quite dry out or warm up even with a change of socks and shoes, and my hands are perpetual icicles. I lay a blanket over my lap all day while I huddle up at my desk since our building is a grandma and apparently the heat doesn’t work correctly.

You get it….I’m cold. I’m cold all the time. The only times I am truly warm are when I’m working out, taking a shower, or eating soul-soothing, body-warming food.

This past weekend, when it was particularly hard to handle the winter vortex we’re succumbed to for eternity, I made this stuffed squash that I consider truly healing for everything from a broken heart, a sore throat, or the winter blues.

It’s healthy, but totally stick-to-your-ribs thanks to the hearty millet filling. It’s creamy, had a rich flavor that just screams “soul food”, and is surprisingly easy to put together.

stuffed

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium acorn squash, cut in half, seeds removed.
  • 1/2 cup dry millet
  • 1/2 cup kidney beans, already cooked
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1/2 medium zucchini, diced
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup veggie broth
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 dry or fresh bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Preheat over to 400 degrees. While over preheats, slice squash in half, removing seeds. Drizzle 1/2 tbsp. olive oil, dividing evenly on both sides, and rubbing to coat the squash. Place squash halves face down on a cookie sheet, and roast for about 25-30 minutes, or until squash is fork tender.

While squash roasts, cook millet according to package and set aside. Next, preheat a skillet on medium-high, and add sliced onion, diced zucchini, cooking until soft and tender. Next, add the garlic and kidney beans, and sautee for another few minutes until everything is incorporated. Add the veggie broth, balsamic, wine, and bay leaves, and give it all a stir. Turn heat up to high, and let boil rapidly for 3-5 minutes. Turn heat back down to medium-low, and add the millet, stirring to incorporate. Add salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes to taste. 

Take the squash out of the oven, and scoop out just a bit of the inside, making more room for filling. Spoon millet filling into the centers of each squash half, filling as much as you please. Place back in over for 5 minutes or so, until top is slightly browned.

I had a ton of filling leftover, which I am eternally thankful for since it makes an excellent and comforting bowl of goodness.

This recipe really helps you slow down and remember the bright side to winter: cozying up after a long, cold day and enjoying the warming sensations that come with winter comfort foods.

Enjoy and stay warm!

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Rise and Shine Apple Carrot Juice!

If I haven’t expressed it before, I am the ultimate morning person.

While nights do have the whole comfort and security of knowing a day has come to a close, and you can now kick off your shoes and walk around naked thing going for them, nothing beats the endless possibility that comes with rising each day.

I’m simply at my best in the mornings. I wake up easily, always give myself ample time to make a balanced breakfast and relax a little before work, and get the most productivity out of my AM time.

I tend to be much more positive, alert, focused, and in tune with my mind and body during the first part of the day, all while feeling more grounded, calm, and aware of my surroundings.

I’m not sure if all my fiery energy and positivity throughout the day kinda sucks the life out of my nights or what, but I just usually cannot muster the same amount of enthusiasm once the evening rolls around and all that’s left is the looming darkness out my window.

BUT, lately I’ve had LOADS of energy, from morning until night and I seriously feel superhuman. I’ve been adding maca powder to a smoothie or tea each day, waking up at 5 to smash in a workout before work and have had energy during the evenings to take soul soothing (and utterly freezing) winter walks, work on my old lady cross stitch projects, and read before bed.

In honor of my increased energy even after the mornings I tend to thrive in, here is a recipe for the juice that put a much-needed pep in my step mid morning today while I was dreading writing a script for yet another Holiday Inn.

Just by looking at it, I thought it would be kinda gross to be honest since the orange is on the murky side, but holy shit was I wrong. This stuff is tangy, refreshing, sweet, and has the perfect amount of zing.

I highly recommend making this juice before a day loaded with tasks and guarantee it’ll get you through the shit show that is work.

applecarrot

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 apples
  • 5 carrots
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 large bunch parsley
  • 1 thumb of ginger

Prepare all of your producer by chopping up the apples into fourths, quartering the carrots, peeling and quartering the cucumbers, quartering the lemon, tearing the parsley, and peeling the ginger. Since my juicer is kind of old, I alternated between the produce that would go easy on it like the cucumber and carrots, with the apples, parsley, and lemon. I then ended with the ginger. 

***In order to get the most out of the organic fruits and veggies I juice, I remove the pulp from my juicer and run it through the juicer one last time, usually getting another good 1/3 of a cup at least! 

This juice combo filled about 3/4 of a large mason jar, and it perfect for a mid-morning snack or late afternoon pick-me up. Plus, you send those vitamins and shit straight to your cells.

Happy Friday everyone, and seriously, try this out and let me know 🙂

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Monday Happy List! (Boston Edition)

So good to be home. What, with walking in the latest blizzard to work this morning only to find out that we could come in an hour later, Collin’s car not working so I have to share mine, and an empty fridge…I sure missed ya, Rochester.

NOT.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s always such a comfort to come back home after a trip, get organized, grocery shop, and settle in, but this time around I’m still wishing Collin and I were in our dream world of a comfy hotel, miles of streets to explore, delicious food to eat, and awesome music to see. At least I can relive the weekend by sharing some of the highlights here!

I bring you, my Monday Happy List featuring my trip to Boston!

  • AMAZING ASIAN FOOD. If anyone here has been consistently reading my posts (thank you!), then you know how deeply my love of Asian food runs. I am never NOT in the mood for Asian food, whether it’s Chinese, Japanese, Thai (my favorite), or Vietnamese, I’m always down for some Eastern lovin’. Being a vegan, Asian restaurants are always my best bet trying to find a menu where I can eat more than just 1 dish, so we did some damage in Boston when it comes to eating Asian! As a connoisseur of sorts, I can tell you with confidence that the two Asian dishes I had in Boston were some of the best I’ve ever had. Friday night, we ate at My Thai Vegan Cafe in Chinatown, which are where the two photos below are from, and on Saturday we had lunch at Pho Basil on Massachusetts Ave., where I unfortunately forgot to snap a few pics even though it was equally, if not more, delicious.

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  • SOFA CAFE ESPRESSO. We braved the cold Saturday and spent all day traipsing around the different sections of the city, and stumbled upon Sofa Cafe on Newbury Street, where I tried my very first espresso. The cafe is in the downstairs of one of the beautiful brick buildings on Newbury and was cozy, warm, and just eclectic enough to still be classy. (Collin ate the cute lil’ cookie since I bet $1,000,000 it wasn’t vegan).

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  • I BEEN DRANKIN’ I BEEN DRANKIN’. Since we were on “vacation” I did have my fair share of drinks. But, my hands down favorite came from The Gallows. This bar is just my kinda scene. Beautiful wood, bartenders who know what they’re doing, and music that fit my taste. Plus, this drink was out of this world good and fucking gorgeous. It was Grapefruit Kombucha with a Vodka Fizz and tasted like a frickin’ Grapefruit Izzy (please tell me you remember those).

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  • DR. DOG IN DA HOUSE (OF BLUES). We marked the end of our weekend by seeing Dr. Dog, a band we both like, at the House of Blues Saturday night. We got the time of the show mixed up, and after slamming down some drinks at the bar next door, got there just in time to see the band’s first song. But, because our section was unbelievably packed, could barely see a thing. I had to take measures into my own hands and slipped us into the VIP balcony while security wasn’t looking. I do what I can to get what I want, and there was NO WAY I wasn’t seeing the band we came there for! It was so worth it though. We danced, sang, and cheered with the best view in the hizzy.

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  • Soaking up undisturbed time with the one I love. Although we live together, we’re two full-time, busy little bees who have plenty of obligations and don’t always get to just forget the world for three days to spend time just having fun together. This trip was my Christmas present from Collin, but the best part of all was just being together, basking in our happiness and falling more in love (sorry, when it comes to this shit, I’m  sap).

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Wishing you all zero snow, warmth, and love on this frigid Monday.

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