Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Vegetarian Stuffing

This year I spent Thanksgiving with my family at our home in California, which was a real treat. Last year, my boyfriend and two very close friends of ours had our own make-shift Thanksgiving, which was great as well, but getting to be with my family this year on one of my most favorite holidays was truly special. 

We celebrated the holiday at a family friend's house and most of the food was taken care of. My dad and I, however, couldn't resist contributing. He made his famous 'iç pilavi', which I watched him prepare this year. This Turkish specialty consists of rice with pine nuts, dill, currants and other yumminess but because it is a family recipe passed down from my grandmother, I won't be sharing the recipe. Some secrets have to remain secrets, don't you think? 

I decided on a vegetarian stuffing. Despite stuffing usually having bits of turkey or chicken broth in it, if I'm not mistaken, it has always appealed to me. Turns out stuffing is super easy to make! I used this recipe from The New York Times and was delighted by the results.  Speaking of, if you didn't have a chance to check out The Times' Vegetarian Thanksgiving Interactive Feature, you must do so. They have so many amazing vegan and vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes that it surprises me that anyone would even bother with a turkey. I am always thrilled that this prominent newspaper makes Thanksgiving extra special for vegetarians as well as omnis. I really believe times are changing- did you know that 'vegetarianism' was trending on Twitter during Thanksgiving week? Can you believe it! I think it's pretty cool. 

I used the Italian flavored sausage. 

Back to the stuffing! I made a few minor changes to the recipe, but all in all, I would say the stuffing was a success. It was gone before anyone had a chance to go for seconds- guess I underestimated the power of Tofurky sausage. 

1. I used 3/4 stick of butter instead of the full thing. This is something I almost always do. No one notices the difference and I find that most recipes contain way more butter than necessary. I totally could have gone with only 1/2 a stick, but when cooking for suspicious non-veggies, butter helps! 
2. I couldn't find chestnuts so I omitted them. 
3. Instead of figs, I used Medjool dates, which I love and I think they worked fine. 
4. I've never even heard of this spice 'quatre épices', so I just left it out. (On further investigation, turns out its a mix of pepper, nutmeg, clove and ginger). Didn't miss it. 
5. My dad and I added fried sage at the last minute as a garnish. 

I thought this stuffing was delicious but it could have been a bit more moist. With the addition of gravy, though, it was just perfect. 

And just for fun, here is a photo of the turkey I sponsored this year, from Farm Sanctuary. For $30, you can choose which turkey you want to sponsor, and know that you did something good for turkeys on the big day. PS: how cute that they listed his favorite foods!  

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Blue Cheese Biscuits

Happy Thanksgiving! I think you'd be hard-pressed to find an American that doesn't love Thanksgiving. After all, it's a holiday dedicated to eating, and not much else. 

This year we have a full house here in California, as my cousin and her husband, as well as her husband's parents are here staying with us. Including my parents, that makes seven of us. 

You can substitute any kind of cheese you like. 

My family loves breakfast/brunch and I promised my mom I'd make a nice brunch for everyone while in town. I was awoken this morning to my mother saying, 'Your crowd is waiting'. She meant that everyone was waiting for me to get into the kitchen and start baking!

It might seem weird to make a large brunch on Thanksgiving, being that tonight we will have quite the feast, but we won't be eating again till tonight, so it made sense to start the day off with a nice, filling breakfast. My cousin and mother are cleaning out the garage, my dad and uncle are playing backgammon and I'm getting ready for a brisk fall run, after this blog post. The perfect Thanksgiving day. 

Mix until just combined. 
I had been wanting to try these blue cheese biscuits by Deb from Smitten Kitchen for a while now. I love biscuits. If done correctly, they are moist and not dry, and buttery thanks to buttermilk and butter. Along with some eggs, perfection. I also made eggs with mushrooms, spinach and Parmesan, using this recipe. The one difference is that I didn't bake the eggs and just made them on the stovetop instead. It was my first time making breakfast for 7 people and with the help of my expert chef father, I'd say we did quite well. 

These biscuits were amazing. The blue cheese is delicious and has just the right amount of punch. The eggs were cooked perfectly. One tip for the biscuits: serve them immediately! They are best when fresh out of the oven, as the blue cheese is melty and gooey

If you recreate this breakfast for your family, I promise they won't stop talking about it! If you are intimidated to try biscuits, don't be. They are super duper easy to make and quick as well. You can even make the dough and leave them in the fridge till you are ready to use them. 

For Thanksgiving this year I made a vegetarian stuffing. I really like stuffing but usually can never enjoy it as it has sausage in it, so since we are celebrating at a friend's house this year, I made sure to make something that I would enjoy, just in case there aren't many veggie options. I'll have that recipe for you tomorrow or the next day. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The No Gossip Challenge

Though I usually post about food here, I like to share other parts of my life with you guys sometimes. I've written about my running and you guys seemed to like that. 

Some of you who know me may know that I'm a bit of a gossip. And when I say 'a bit', I may be underestimating it, just a tad. Truth is, I love a juicy story. And unfortunately for me, people tend to like to share private things with me. This puts me in a super precarious situation. Since I have a wide circle of friends, I tend to know a lot, about a lot of people. 

This is not something I'm proud of, but sometimes I will share information with friends. Either way, I have decided to stop gossiping for one month (and hopefully for good!) I am posting this here, to keep me accountable. I have always been pretty good at keeping promises because I am very stubborn, but I also wanted to share with you guys my reasoning. 

Recently a close friend of mine chose to not share something with me, because as she said, I have a big mouth. That upset me. But it's true and she's probably the first person who has ever been so blunt with me. And it made me think: I would rather be the person my friends can confide in, than the person who always has the latest gossip. 

It's been 4 days now and I haven't gossiped. It may sound immature or childish to you; after all, there are way bigger issues in life than my gossiping. But I am a firm believer in the fact that we should never stop challenging ourselves and growing. I think if there is an aspect of yourself that you don't like so much, you should work on it. Don't just take the easy way out and say, 'this is me'. 

So what exactly qualifies gossiping? Well, the way I see it, if you share something with someone about someone else, for the sole sake of entertainment, that qualifies as gossip. Telling your friends how another friend got into grad school- not gossip. Telling your friends what schools your friend got rejected from and how upset she is- gossip. 

Even though it's only been a few days, I feel so much better. I think there are certain things that we know are wrong, and even if we participate in them willingly, they can end up making us feel bad about ourselves. For example, I used to smoke, and I always felt bad about it. Every single time I smoked, but I used to make excuses for my habit. But that's a story for another time. 

I think part of growing up is becoming more honest with yourself and the person you are, and the person you want to be. And for me, that includes not being the town gossip. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Eggs in tomato sauce

This breakfast recipe is so so yummy. It's a bit like shakshuka, which is a Middle Eastern dish of eggs poached in a tomato sauce with peppers and spices. The main difference is that I didn't use peppers, but you could. What's strange is that even though it uses the same ingredients as Turkish menemen, it doesn't taste like that at all. Maybe because of the omission of feta and green peppers...Either way you must try this breakfast dish immediately.

I used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen as inspiration. Instead of sautéing garlic though, I sautéed some onions. We also didn't have any Parmesan cheese so we used some cheddar we had lying around. I should have added the cheese earlier so it would have melted into the eggs, but we were too hungry to wait. With a side of sautéed spinach, this was the perfect breakfast. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

But where do you get your protein?

The title of this blog is one of the most annoying questions I get asked as a (mostly) vegetarian. For those of you who are new to the blog or just stopped by, I don't like to label my eating habits, but I eat mostly vegan at home, and vegetarian when I eat out at restaurants. 

This question really annoys me for two reasons
1. Most people that ask me this question know far less than I do about nutrition and health (yes, I'm a bit snobby about this subject, but ask any of my friends, nutrition is my passion!)
2. It makes me feel like the person asking me this question thinks they know more than I do about my body, which again, is super frustrating. 

However, I understand that people are hung up about protein and could really just be curious. But no one asks me where I get my essential B vitamins from- why not? B vitamins are just as crucial to the body (for nerve function) as protein is. 
Of course I smothered this in Sriracha after. 
Fact is there are so many vegetarian sources of protein it is incredibly easy to get enough protein, for me. I say for me, because I eat a diet of mostly whole foods. If you are consuming only vegan junk food (like vegan cupcakes) I guess it technically could be possible to be protein deficient. But have you ever in your life heard someone say they have kwashiorkor? Probably not because Americans don't get protein deficient! It's just not possible if you eat a mostly whole foods diet. 

Some vegetarian sources of protein include beans, tofu, dark, leafy greens and nuts. Did you know that 100 calories of spinach has more protein than 100 calories of beef? It's true! I thought it would be fun to share what a normal lunch looks like for me, with the approximate protein calculated. 

Most of what I eat for lunch is super fast and easy to assemble. I like to spend more time preparing dinners, but lunch tends to be quick. The other day I had black beans, leftover sautéed spinach and broccoli and half a roasted sweet potato. Delicious, fast, nutritious. 

Let's break down how much protein this meal had. 
Black beans, 1/2 cup : 7.5 grams protein
Sauteed spinach/broccoli, 1 cup: 5 grams protein. 
Sweet potato, 1/2 of one: 4 grams protein. 

In total, this meal provided me with 16-17 grams protein
Guess how much protein a turkey sandwich has (based on a 3 oz serving)? 11 grams

And this is just in one meal! Considering that I tend to have a tofu scramble for breakfast and sometimes even more protein at dinner, I am more than good to go. I also do eat fish once or twice a week, so clearly I don't have an issue, but I want to illustrate that it is possible to get enough protein from vegetarian sources. 

An excess of anything isn't good for you. An excess of protein in the body just turns in to fat, so all my body-building guy friends who think a healthy lunch includes 5 chicken breasts, watch out. That protein might be doing more damage to your arteries than you think. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Run Extending Playlist

I've been trying to take advantage of this gorgeous New York weather (Nor Cal, eat your heart out!) before it gets super cold and I'm forced to take my workouts indoors. 

A few days ago I went on an amazing run. One of those runs where before you know it, it's been almost an hour, and you feel like you could keep running forever. I headed out, without a specific route in mind, and just discovered my neighborhood a little bit more. 

One of the best things about running outdoors that I often forget about is the fact that because you have to stop at red lights (if you are running in the city), you end up doing intervals instead of a straight run. I've already read about how much better interval-training is, compared to running nonstop, because the act of starting and stopping pushes the body a lot harder. It also feels easier, getting to stop every so often. 

And the most crucial part of any run is the playlist. If I have a bad playlist and no new music, my run will almost without fail be shortened. The other day I put together this playlist, with some tracks taken from Angela from 'Oh She Glows'. I have some songs from the Glee Soundtrack on here. I don't even watch the show regularly, but I've found some of the cover songs to be really fun and motivating to run to. 

So here it is, my Run-Extending Playlist
Here's a photo of supermodels running to inspire you. 

Moves Like Jagger- Maroon 5
We Found Love- Rihanna
Don't Stop Believin' - Glee Cast
Hurts Like Heaven- Coldplay
Mr. Saxobeat- Alexandra Stan
On the Floor- Jennifer Lopez
Misery- Glee Cast
Black and Yellow - Wiz Khalifa
Nightcall- Kavinsky
Good Feeling- Flo Rida
Memories- David Guetta
Paradise- Coldplay

The playlist is about 45 minutes long, which is perfect for a long, leisurely run outdoors. 

Also, I'd like to mention that I run when hungover, and it really helps. Last night I had a few glasses of wine and am not feeling particularly perky but I know a run will straighten me out. People tend to have mixed feelings about this so I encourage you to try it. You might find that it gets rid of your hangover much better than that bloody mary and eggs ever could. 

*Edited to add that my run really did annihilate my hangover! 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Carrot Cake Oatmeal

Yesterday morning I woke up around 6am starving and fell back asleep. So by the time I woke at 9 (okay, it was actually 10), I knew I wanted something heartier than my usual green smoothie

I've read countless times how good oatmeal is for you but I prefer savory breakfasts to sweet ones; however, a recipe for Carrot Cake Oatmeal I read on 'Oh She Glows' looked good enough to make me try it. I am so glad I did because it was delicious! 
What's so cool about this oatmeal recipe is that it includes 1 cup of shredded carrots! Any breakfast recipe that allows me to have had one serving of veggies before lunch is a winner by me. I added half a banana, sliced, which upped my fruit/veggie intake to 2 for breakfast alone. This is definitely a recipe I will go back for time and again. The recipe was for 1 large batch or 2 smaller servings, so I'll also be able to enjoy this for breakfast tomorrow. 

One change I made to the recipe was to use Oat Bran instead of oats. If I'm not mistaken, oat bran are just oats that are finer and smaller than regular oats. Either way, I doubt it made a big difference; it's just what I had on hand. 

With a cup of coffee, this was the perfect, creamy breakfast. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Curried Lentil Soup

My boyfriend was here for two weeks, during which we were super active, running all around town and eating out at restaurants a lot. So when he left, I was totally okay with staying home, being lazy and eating leftovers. I didn't cook much and what I did cook didn't turn out right, hence the lack of recipes. 

Yesterday I decided to make a big ol' batch of lentil soup to last me through the week. I don't mind eating the same thing everyday as long as it's only for one meal. Example: I can eat the same soup everyday for lunch, as long as I get to mix it up with dinner (or vice versa). 

I have been cooking a lot from Angela's blog 'Oh She Glows'. I've mentioned this site before and I definitely go through phases with blogs. For a while I was all about 'Smitten Kitchen' and then 'Happy Herbivore'. I love that most of Angela's recipes are low fat and all of her recipes are vegan. Even though I'm not vegan, I like to eat vegan at home, and eat vegetarian (or pescatarian) when I'm at restaurants. It's a nice way I've found to limit my dairy and fish consumption. 

What I loved about this lentil soup recipe is that the ingredient list is short and it comes together very quickly. I actually made it yesterday for lunch and from start to finish it took a little under an hour, with most of that time being inactive (allowing the soup to simmer for 30 minutes). 
I undercook my lentils just slightly so they have some bite. 
I made one significant change to the recipe which was adding a (non) beef bouillon cube. I felt the broth was a little bland, despite all the curry, and the bouillon cube really gave it a kick. I am super into these (non) beef and chicken bouillon cubes as of late; I much prefer them to veggie bouillon cubes. They just add a nice base flavor to any soup. 

Angela also pureed part of the soup, but I left it as is just because I was too lazy to dirty my blender and I don't have an immersion blender. Finally, I can imagine this soup being super delicious and hearty with the addition of some veggie sausage, but it was fine without as well. 

I'm looking forward to seeing how the flavors have developed overnight when I enjoy this for lunch again today. Almost all soups get better the next day

My awesome followers!