Monday, October 31, 2011

Vegan MoFo Day 31: Lula's FTW!

I had it all planned out that Lula's would fittingly end Vegan MoFo for me, but, as it turned out, I didn't wind up getting there as I'd been expecting to all month (yes, the italics are supposed to represent my innate bitterness).  This was especially infuriating since on my mid-cleanse visit I couldn't eat anything!  Now I know how you folks on the other side of the country feel; I feel your pain.

So, in lieu of a real time visit, I'll take you on a stroll down memory lane- both to a visit about a month ago, as well as to the the sundaes of my teenage years.

I went vegetarian at 13.  Coincidentally, I began working at an ice cream store around the same time.  Because I knew nothing about nutrition or meal planning and, since I spent most of my non-school time there, most of my diet consisted of whatever I could concoct at the store.

I went through a few phases: coffee chip shakes, frozen candy bars, and anything with butterscotch.  But over the course of the four years that I worked there, what I ate most frequently throughout the day (and never tired of) were perfect mini-sundaes.  Let me explain.  When assembling a sundae, it is almost impossible to precisely proportion your topping to ice cream ratio.  Through experience I discovered that if I made a sundae in what we sold as a "kid's cup", the result was a few spoons full of complete sundae bliss.  The architecture of my perfect mini-sundaes was as follows:

the recollection
dollop of soft vanilla/chocolate twist
squirt of hot fudge
squirt of caramel
whipped cream
rainbow sprinkles

I'm sorry to say that I've no photographic documentation of these sundaes.  Times were different and we didn't all photograph our food back then!

As you know, I've enjoyed some pretty epic sundaes at Lula's and have had no complaints.  But never this particular combination.  Then, recently, I noticed both hot fudge and caramel were listed as sauce options on the board simultaneously; it was time. 

the recreation
scoop of hard chocolate ice cream
scoop of hard vanilla bean ice cream
hot fudge
whipped cream
chocolate chips

The caramel was AMAZING and just what I hadn't realized my previous sundaes had been missing.  Every time I think Lula's has outdone themselves they go and get even better.  So, my advice to you, no matter where you live?  Get down there and make a perfect sundae of your own.

As for me, I'll just finish up my scrumptious pumpkin ice cream

and call it a day.

And that, my friends, (not so) fittingly concludes Vegan MoFo 2011 for me!

Your regularly scheduled blogging will continue...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Vegan MoFo Day 30: Donuts, Hummus, and a Movie

On this lazy weekend day I delved into the pre-cleanse stash in my freezer to retrieve...Cinnamon Snail donuts!  Now that the Snail will be in NYC regularly, most of you have no excuse not to visit soon and often.  But, just in case that's not a possibility, rest assured that you can confidently over-buy and freeze for future enjoyment; they defrost just fine!  For myself, I'd saved the Vendy Award-winning vanilla bourbon creme brulee donut:

And for VM, what else but an apple cider donut:

I did get a chuckle out of the fact that I'd sealed both donuts in a container that I'd previously used and thusly marked otherwise:

Oh yeah, there was Starbucks too.  A cinnamon dolce latte for VM and a tall-soy-raspberry-extra-hot-no-whip-hot-chocolate for me.

Lunch/Dinner was one of my favorite hummuses (hummi?) and the reason why I don't buy store-bought- house hummus: hummus topped with cherry peppers, olives, and roasted garlic from Sahara Restaurant in NJ (I know, I know; more beige).

And, finally, I had the opportunity to watch Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead.  Overall, I thought the production was a little more slick than Forks Over Knives, but I was extremely disappointed that it relied mainly on the weight loss results for shock value, rather than the significant information that could have been provided by the grossly under-utilized asset of Dr. Fuhrman, who was in the movie only briefly.  I was surprised by the apathetic responses most of the people interviewed gave about their health and futures, but mostly I was bummed that there was no vegan message whatsoever.  I know that vegans are supporting this movie because it promotes a veggie & fruit (juice) filled diet, but I think that the audience could have easily absorbed and benefited from more detailed information about why.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Vegan MoFo Day 29: Back to My Routine: A Study in Beige

On top of all of the meal prep-work, another time-consuming thing about the CSD cleanse was that there was a lot of chewing; meals tended not to be things I could consume in front of the computer.  While that's not necessarily a bad thing, sometimes I don't want each and every meal to be a ceremony.  So, with that said, yesterday I harkened back to my regular, daily, efficient, eating routine to see how it would go.

For breakfast: pumpkin flax granola cereal with (vanilla) soy milk.  As soon as I poured everything into the bowl I thought, "beige".  But, it was good, simple, and I only needed a little to fill me up.

For lunch: peanuts and raisins.  More simplicity and efficiency, not to mention the original sweet and salty combination of my youth.  Do peanuts count as beige food?

For dinner: leftovers!  So easy to simply reheat: Angel hair with homemade marinara and cheesy garlic bread.  Outstanding!  But also lots of beige carbs.  A simple swap could include a recreation of John's avocado bruschetta in place of the cheesy goodness and/or zucchini spaghetti, but let's face it: nothing beats an Italian feast.  It's just good to remember it's not meant for every day.

The overall theme?  Beige, beige, BEIGE!  A month ago I wouldn't have thought twice about this day's menu, but now- where are my veggies?  Raw cauliflower, asparagus, radish- anything would have been appreciated and I'm sure would have assuaged how desperately thirsty I was all day.  Perhaps the old routine requires a bit of tweaking.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Vegan MoFo Day 28: Food Fight Delivery!

Last week a friend asked why I didn't time the cleanse so that it ended on the weekend, allowing me to really go to town. I had just discussed this with my boss because I actually thought it was better that it was ending midweek- so that I could attempt to maintain some measure of self control.  I also told her to expect to find me at my desk hidden by a mound of candy wrappers, but that's neither here nor there. For the record, she told me that if I put myself into diabetic shock at this busy time of year I'd be fired. Incentive to take it slow! Or so I pretended... Of course my ruse of self-control was to be exposed, since I had my massive Food Fight order shipping to my office. Curses! Foiled again.

As it turned out, I didn't have to worry about overdoing it; right after the cleanse ended I took it slow and did just fine.  Then, a few days later, there I was, sitting at my desk, minding my own beeswax, when it happened. The friendly, neighborhood, UPS man arrived with my bounty.

I really think Food Fight could sense how desperate I was to receive these goodies because they shipped them right away.  And, may I say, did a superb and most impressive job maximizing the capacity of the relatively small box by fitting everything in like a gloriously edible, vegan puzzle.  I considered leaving it sealed until I got home, but haven't I suffered enough?

I'd just eaten lunch (romaine with carrots, celery, and tomato), but I still couldn't resist the Uncle Eddie's peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.  At first I just sat them on my desk.  Then, a nano-second later, I dug in.

If you've never tried Uncle Eddie's before, let me assure you that they are a-ma-zing.  I haven't had them in years, but I always recall them as one of the first and best store-bought vegan cookies I ever tried.  They are as soft, chewy, chocolate chippy, peanut buttery, and fantastically decadent as ever; I can't recommend them highly enough.

So, it's official; I'm not over sweets (I still get credit for the potato chip revelation, though).

Now I know you took one look at that first picture of the order and called me a fatty in your head.  Well, I'll have you know that the entire bounty was not mine; it was a combined effort.  Don't worry; I accept your apology.

As it turns out, my friend, MVG, purchased these items:

A respectable assortment of Secret Aardvark Habanero hot sauce, pomegranate hint mints, Chreese mix, peanut butter cups, and peppermint patties (that I resisted even though I inhaled the intoxicating aroma as soon as I opened the box). 

As for me, I ordered one or two things more: Holy Kakow chocolate sauce, Uncle Eddie's, Horchata (first time trying), Secret Aardvark (What? It's supposed to last me all year), a few hint mints, Nacheez (for blogging comparison purposes only), corn-taters, cocomels, a Rescue Chocolate peanut butter pit bull, and the newest Go Max Go candy bars: Snap and Cleo's.

Hey, don't judge me; I just finished a 21 day cleanse!!!

To make me feel like even more of a fatty, ever-generous MVG immediately offered to share his goodies.  This while I was scarfing my third, okay, fourth cookie in as many minutes.

It was at that point when I packed everything up and re-sealed the box.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Vegan MoFo Day 27: VM's Spaghetti with Daiya Mozzarella Garlic Bread

It was no use holding VM off any longer; even though she wasn't a huge fan of the cleanse, she doesn't necessarily condone ice cream as a meal replacement (often).  So, it was spaghetti time!!

Angel hair with VM's homemade, sweet pepper marinara.  Besides no wheat pasta, there were no cooked tomatoes on the cleanse- this was a real treat!  I still like my zucchini spaghetti, but there's no denying that the original takes the cake.

To complement, I made Daiya Mozzarella Garlic Bread.  Who says you can't eat 21 days worth of bread in one sitting?

[UPDATE 10/27/11: I know a lot of folks are trying out gluten-free diets (no doubt in no small part due to the fact that the food industry has actually embraced that dietary preference with a vengeance, inexplicably bypassing the ever-growing number of vegans who have been plugging along reading ingredients for decades) and I just wanted to note that the overload on gluten after a 21 day hiatus did not affect me in the least.] 

A note about junk: I had some potato chips yesterday and it did not go well.  I wound up feeling completely and utterly disgusted for the rest of the afternoon.  My mouth felt dry, my stomach uncomfortable.  Whether I want to acknowledge it or not, it seems that the cleanse is using my reactions to certain foods to clue me in to what's really bad for me.  There are splurge foods and there is junk; my post-cleanse life seems not to handle the latter with much ease.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Vegan MoFo Day 26: The Cleanse is Over; Bring on the Grub!

Woot! Woot! That's the sound of the police good-ies. Woot! Woot! That's the sound of the beast (me eating)!

At about 10:00pm on the last night of the cleanse I decided I needed to at least smell chocolate, so I unwrapped one of the Earth balls I'd been saving.  Imagine my furor when I realized I'd bought milk chocolate by accident.  Here I was expecting those deep, dark, spheres of days gone by and instead: milk.  I bellowed, "I BOUGHT MILK CHOCOLATE BALLS!" to no one in particular, and then pouted.

By midnight I was ready to call this cleanse a (21) day(s) and I went to grab my peanut chews.  Unfortunately, I'd forgotten where I'd hidden them.  After a few panicked minutes of searching I found them and dug in.  Eew; was this what I'd been waiting for?  No; yuck!  They didn't taste at all like I'd remembered; so, rather than continue eating something I didn't particularly want, I abandoned them.  I had been looking so forward to enjoying them and instead of satisfying my long overdue sweets craving, all they did was leave a bad taste in my mouth- literally.  Had I lost my taste for sweets? I decided to go to bed and consider the thought in the morning; it was too mind-boggling.

I knew that even I wouldn't feel like candy first thing in the morning, but I expected to be giddy at the prospect of eating whatever I wanted.  Instead, I woke up full.  Full?  From a bowl of soup & 1/5 of a peanut chew?  Who had I become?

I also woke up unusually early and well rested, so I just started the day with some orange juice.  It was sweet, good, and...filling.  Really?  Really.

An hour passed and I still wasn't really hungry, but I knew I had to eat something before I headed off into commute-land.  Believe it or not, I was stumped; the limitless choices seemed unnavigable.  Oatmeal?  Awfully heavy when compared to cucumbers.  Buttered toast with a mountain of cinnamon sugar?  VM was probably right- not exactly appropriate for the first post-cleanse morning.  So, my breakfast wound up being a toasted bialy half with cream cheese and black raspberry jelly

Delicious, but heavy.  I usually dig the dough out of my bagels, but I was so out of practice that I forgot.  So, halfway through my nosh I was stuffed. 

For lunch I bought, washed, chopped, prepared, and packed NOTHING!  It's pretty slim pickins around where I work, but I left myself open to get salt and vinegar potato chips whatever I wanted.  And what do you know?  I wanted kale salad.  Who am I?  With none in tow, I decided to splurge and go to Starbucks.  Well hello, tall-soy-decaf-cinnamon-dolce-extra-hot-no-whip-no-foam-latte; so nice to see you again.

Ultra creamy and rich; it took me 40 full minutes to savor this beverage.  I guess it's true what they say, that you appreciate things more when you don't have them often.  But I was beyond full from the veritable cup of soy milk for the rest of the day.

Dinner!  VM halfheartedly offered to make me ceremonial spaghetti (she really doesn't like to cook) now that the "madness" was over, but I asked her to hold off; I had another meal in mind.

That's right, it was time to break out the Lula's pumpkin ice cream I'd been saving (admit it, a part of you thought I'd eaten already).  And what better to do with it than to replicate the happy ending sundaes of my Friendly's youth? 

Thank you for labeling, Mia!
Did I forget to mention that I'd also stockpiled a pint of chocolate chocolate chip?

So good!  Now this is something to enjoy.  Smooth, chippy, chocolate chip and perfectly creamy, autumnal pumpkin goodness; thank you, Lula's Sweet Apothecary; that really hit the spot!

Did anyone catch it?  In lieu of whipped cream, I used my Sweet and Sara marshmallow bat-wings for the clown hair!  I know: culinary genius.

To recap, the first day post-cleanse didn't go exactly as planned.  Instead of blindly gorging on everything I could get my hands on, I found myself thinking thoughtfully and carefully about what I wanted to eat, and didn't waste any chewing on things that I couldn't truly enjoy.  So maybe there is something to this cleanse idea after all, even for me.

So sad!
I admit it, the idea of clean food really appeals to me and I could stand to eat raw more regularly.  It's the feasibility of maintaining it as a constant lifestyle that makes it so repellant to me.  Making your own dressing every time you want a salad is tiresome!  Oh yeah, I also love snacks.  But a cleanse isn't intended to be a lifestyle; there is a happy medium and I will try to find it.  To be continued...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Vegan MoFo Day 25: The Last Day of the Cleanse!

So, the last day of the cleanse was yesterday.  I admit that I was completely over it and ready to move on, not putting much effort into my eats.  I had crisp, cool celery and zucchini for breakfast.  With the thermometer holding steady at 43 degrees, I would have much preferred something warm, like oatmeal, or at least something room temperature.  Let's be honest, Starbucks wouldn't have hurt.

With the previous night's dinner I'd finished what was left of my produce; per usual, this led to an inability to pack a lunch.  I decided to head over to Whole Foods, but nothing I wanted was cleanse-appropriate.  I wound up splurging on deydrated, raw, kale chips.

In spite of the tendency towards crumbs rather than large pieces, I like Brad's the best (no pointy stems).

I hadn't tried this flavor before, but one bite and I decided it's my new favorite variety.  It's just like my previous fave, the cheese, but this one has the added bonus of delicious, jalapeno heat.

I wouldn't say "nasty" hot, but, rather, "appropriately" hot
While I was there, in anticipation of my post-cleanse munching, I cleaned them out of Almond Bites.  No, really; I did.  The cashier was asking me if they were good (no doubt prompted by my bounty) and I talked them up so much that she said she was going to buy them.  Then I had to break the news to her that I'd bought all they had.  Don't judge me; it's every man for themselves when it comes to Almond Bites.

For dinner, leftovers of the fantastic fennel and yellow split pea soup, which was even better a day later.

Are you snoring yet?  Because...

Ladies and Gentleman, that officially concludes my 21 day cleanse!  It's been a long, hard road...for you as well as for me; thanks for putting up with it!

Please stay tuned, as MoFo still has six days to go and I have a lot of eats to make up for; let's see how I fare, shall we?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Vegan MoFo Day 24: Hourslong Soup

VM & OD went to a dinner recently and came back raving about a soup that they'd enjoyed.  They were armed with a recipe, but it was shoddy at best.  Vague ingredient listing, insufficient instruction, and missing steps: even the sentence structure was wrong!  But I figured it was a good weekend project for VM & I while I was still in the throes of healthy cooking mode, so I decoded it and we came up with this.

Fennel and Yellow Split Pea Soup
serves 10

4 1/2 cups dried yellow split peas, rinsed
4 tbsp butter
2 bulbs fennel, diced
2 onion, diced
8 stalks celery, diced
12 small carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic
salt and pepper
1 tsp turmeric
14 cups vegetable stock
2 cups water
4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

Place peas in a ginormous pot where they take up from 1/4 to under 1/2 of the room, then fill up to the 3/4 line with water and a sprinkle of salt.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat slightly to prevent boiling over, and let cook for 30 minutes.  Stir occasionally, being aware that the peas will significantly expand.  When finished, drain, rinse, and set aside.

In any even more gigantoid pot, melt butter over medium-low heat.  Cook fennel, onion, celery, and carrots with garlic and salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

Add the turmeric, stock, water, potatoes, and peas; mix well.  Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, for 2 hours.

Once cooled (this will take hours), use a food processor to puree in batches until smooth. 



I realize we made a most significant batch, but we're both of the mind that if we're going to go through all the trouble, we may as well wind up with enough to freeze for a couple of meals.  If you choose to cook this quantity, know that the prep time is 2 hours, with more than two hands pitching in.  Granted we're far from culinary professionals, but eegads that's a long time.  I want to stress that the result was DIVINE, but there's no denying Amy's,- gotta love 'em. 

To accompany, a salad of romaine, tomato, red onion, and avocado with sun-dried tomato-walnut dressing (AFR p. 50), subbing lime juice for vinegar.

No lunch today, but for breakfast I had sliced banana with the LAST of my almond butter.  How fitting.

I know, I'm still having issues with the orientation of my pics.  Even though I correct it after uploading, it still appears out of whack.  Who cares?  Tomorrow is the last day of the cleanse!  Maybe I should fast completely in order to make room for the feast that awaits me?