Posts tagged ‘vegan’

TLC

Well, hello there. *Wink*

After my rough evening last night, I felt like I really treated myself well today.

My lunch went undocumented because I scarfed it up so quickly. Seriously — you gotta make this Greek quinoa salad. It’s easy as pie, keeps well, and tastes incredible!

And for the record, Trader Joe’s organic pea shoots are SO TASTY. They’re like a cross between sprouts and sugar snap peas.

I left work a little early because I needed to get to a doctor’s appointment by 5:15. As I mentioned before, I was dealing with some health issues that were really stressing me out. Well, after today’s appointment, I finally feel like I can rest a little easier.

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the view from the beach in Bonita Springs, FL -- my happy place

I’ve always had a lot of moles all over my body, but never really thought much of it. Recently, though, I have noticed that several were oddly colored, oddly shaped, or would get raised or itchy when I would get a sunburn. After silently stressing about it for far too long, I finally went to my doctor and asked her about it, thinking she would shrug it off as nothing.

Unfortunately, she didn’t do that — she told me to make an appointment with a dermatologist right away to have them looked at. I was super freaked out, but didn’t let my fears get too out of control before seeing the derm. Two weeks ago today, I headed to the doctor, unsure of what she would say. After looking at the three or four that I pointed out, she told me that two were unusual looking, but not overtly cancerous-looking. She wanted to remove them anyway and have them biopsied and sent off to a lab to check for cancerous cells.

I don’t know if I’ve told you guys, but I am completely, utterly, absolutely terrified of needles. It’s a legitimate phobia — one that I know is totally irrational, but one that I can’t seem to shake. I’ve gotten much better about it in recent years, but it’s like no matter what my mind says, my body just totally freaks out. What that means? I faint.

Yep, I faint every time I get a shot. So after they injected the lidocaine into the two spots to be biopsied, I laid there patiently in my paper gown, waiting for the procedure to be over, breathing deeply — in and out, in and out. That is, until I started to feel lightheaded…I’ve fainted enough times to know what it feels like before it happens, but let me tell ya — you don’t have much time to get that message across.

Before I could finish my, “I think I feel lightheaded..” sentence, I was out cold.

Oh, and I pissed all over the place.

………..

Yes, let’s just sit here for a second and let that sink in. I peed all over myself and the exam table at the dermatologist’s office.  For the record, I was unconscious, so it wasn’t inentional. I feel lik this is obvious, but just wanted to, ya know, throw it out there. I debated for quite awhile whether I wanted to post about it, since it was pretty embarrassing, but ultimately it was more hilarious than anything. I think the most humiliating best part was having to throw out my underwear, and then being sent home with a pair of bright blue paper underwear, reserved for liposuction patients. In white jeans. My life really should be a sitcom sometimes.

Well, I went back today, two weeks after the pee incident, and received the incredible news that the lab results came back negative, meaning nothing showed up cancerous. One of the moles had “abnormal architecture,” which basically meant it could potentially have turned into something down the road, but it was removed completely so it won’t be an issue. Needless to say, I am so incredibly relieved.

:)

—-

After leaving the doctor’s office feeling like a million pounds had been lifted off my shoulders, I had planned on meeting up with a few friends for drinks and dinner. Sadly, our plans fell through, but I had a serious hankering for pizza since our plan was to hit up Piece in Wicker Park. So… I decided to improvise.


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I toasted a FlatOut Wrap in a cookie sheet in the oven for 5-7 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Then I added all the goodies.

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And cooked it for 7 minutes or so in the oven at 375 degrees. This bad boy started with some Whole Foods marinara, then I added a hefty layer of baby spinach, some sliced red pepper, halved cherry tomatoes, crumbled goat cheese, garlic gold and red pepper flakes.

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It was SOOOOOOOOO good. Just what I wanted, and healthy to boot. I didn’t calculate the calories, but now I’m sort of curious. Certainly it’s gotta be better than restaurant pizza, anyway ;)

After taking some time to clean up (but I’m still not even close to being finished) and letting my food settle, I got myself ready for the gym and headed out the door. Unfortunately, the sky was green and I felt a few rogue sprinkles coming down, so I dashed back inside and grabbed my umbrella. The last time we had a big storm, I was unprepared…

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hey, baby

I thought I looked too hilarious and SOAKED not to take a picture. Check out those sexy raccoon eyes! ;) Hubba hubba.

Anyway, I got about ten feet down the street toward the gym when it started to pour. The sky turned black and the wind picked up out of nowhere, it was so neat. I love storms, so instead of giving up and going back home, I decided to wait under an awning for the storm to pass, or at least for the rain to slow down. It took a good ten minutes before my umbrella would have even made a difference, so I was really proud of sticking it out and keeping up wtih my commitment to hit the gym.

Because my legs are still having issues (shin splints, IT band and knee pain, blegh), I decided to take it easy and read my new issue of Women’s Health on the recumbent bike for a good 40 minutes, then I hit the elliptical for another ten. By that point, it was actually hailing, so everybody at the gym was just glued to the windows, mouths agape. Let me tell you — this was good motivation to stay at the gym and keep working out! Haha.

I did some wall squats, which I’ve read are easier on your knees and also strengthen your gluteus medius, which is supposed to help with knee pain. I also did some hip raises (I’m pretty sure my hips are super weak because my running gait is all sorts of wrong) and shoulder + chest exercises. Finally, I finished off with a good ten minutes with the foam roller of death. It hurt, but I could tell I needed it badly. I really need to get one of my own for home.

When I got back, I needed a snack and couldn’t figure out what I was craving at first. After looking through the fridge for a minute, I decided to top a toasted Kashi waffle with some whipped cream cheese and a little fig spread, then topped it with a sprinkle of chia seeds. This was beyond delicious — I think I could eat this every day of my life and not get sick of it.

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eattttt meeeee

Sorry my pictures are kind of blurry — I’m not quite sure why I’m still so sucky at snapping my food!

Speaking of which, I realized I never posted pictures from my dinner with Allie and Mel at Karyn’s the other night. I had two undocumented (aka too delicious to remember to take their picture) drinks — a caipirinha and a Sazerac, and we shared an arugula, potato and Daiya pizza to start.

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I had two slices, and while I’m not a huge fan of Daiya, this was pretty tasty. The heaping mass of fresh arugula really made it fresh and delicious.

For my main meal, I had their “chicken” drumsticks. They were served with barbecue sauce, which was sweet and delicious, and reminded me of Sweet Baby Ray’s, and some spinach and sweet potato hash. I ate the whole thing! The chicken was made out of seitan and was perfectly crispy on the outside, and very “meaty” on the inside. I was surprised by how good they were.

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cute little "drumsticks!"

Again, sorry for the blurriness. But how lovely is that presentation?? I think I moved it around a little bit before taking this, so it didn’t look quite as asymmetrical when they first brought it over ;)

Anywho, I’m going to get a little work done, then hop in bed with my book. I’m currently splitting my time between The Hunger Games and More Than It Hurts You. They’re both excellent and I can’t wait to finish them.

Thanks for all your kind words and comments lately — you guys are so great :)

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June 30, 2011 at 11:39 pm 8 comments

Laggard

I was browsing though the dictionary, looking for the antonym of punctual — and it turns out that it’s actually “unpunctual.” Hmph. I hate that word, so I have decided to confirm what many people already know with the word “laggard.” It means someone who takes more time than necessary, or constantly lags behind.

*Raises hand*

I was super late to work today. My sleeping schedule is completely off (think washing the dishes and folding laundry at 2:30 last night) so I have had a really hard time getting up in the mornings. Since I am running my first 5k in less than 2 weeks, I really need to kick up my exercise schedule a notch if I plan on not…well you know, dying during the race. I know I can run 5k, it’s just a matter of how embarrassed I’ll be with my time.

source: Proud to Run

But since there are so many amazing things to do in Chicago in the summer, it’s really hard to commit to doing anything after work, since usually there are a thousand free concerts, festivals, happy hours or simple icy-cold drink-fuled hangouts to be had instead. Why the hell would I want to be huffing away in the gym when I could be drinking an Oberon by the lake? Pfft!

source: Beersurfing blog

I’ve been able to work with this problem a little bit by scheduling a few runs with friends after work, which is a great way to catch up and chat while getting some huffing & puffing in (not to mention being able to wander around the city, one of my favorite activities!), but I can guarantee that those runs will ALWAYS take a back seat to booze, music and sittin’ outside in the sun.

What’s a social butterfly like me to do?

This is why I need to exercise in the morning. Duh. But um, how exactly can I do that when I can’t even get up on time for work? I’m completely stumped — how does everyone seem to be able to juggle a social life (read: staying out late) while still being able to wake up and be a functioning adult? This isn’t me waxing poetic here, I need some advice — Help!!

—–

I had a pretty decent weekend. Friday after work, I met up with a few friends for beers at one of my favorite bars in Chicago, Guthrie’s Tavern. It’s a bit divey (just how I like em!), has a great (and cheap!) beer list, and provides board games for you to play for free! We snatched up Scrabble and chatted for a bit before diving in.

Somehow, I grew up without ever having played Scrabble (criminal, right?) so this was only the second (third?) time I had ever played in my life (the first being on a date….with a guy who was VERY good at Scrabble. He thought I was a complete moron and never called me again. Oops). I killed though! I still lost, but only because my friend stumbled into a ridiculous coincidence of a word and won in the last five minutes. I still won in my head!

Saturday was sort of a crapshoot of a day; I was supposed to meet some friends for the Old Town art festival, but apparently AT&T’s reception crapped out because there were so many people there (shocker), so no one could get any calls through. I ended up sitting at home for a good chunk of the day waiting to hear from my friend who I was supposed to meet, but got really frustrated and annoyed because I never heard from her. I did get a good run in (perfect running weather — 60 & breezy!), and ended up walking across the street to do a few hours of work at Caribou, so the day wasn’t a total loss.

That night, I met up with Amy and we grabbed dinner at The Chicago Diner, a vegetarian and mostly-vegan restaurant with the slogan, “Meat-free since ’83!”

source: Real Estate in Chicago

It’s right by my apartment, so I’ve walked past it a zillion times and had never been in it before. There’s always a huge line outside, and I’ve heard nothing but good things, so I was really excited to try it when Amy and I couldn’t agree on anything else except this place for dinner :) I love you Ames!

We both got veggie burgers — mine was a BBQ Bacon burger made out of seitan, and I topped it with Montery Jack cheese and avocado. It was SO GOOD. The texture of the seitan wasn’t weird or gross at all, and it was so flavorful and filling. It was also served with a side of sweet potato fries that were super crunchy and salty, the best and only way to serve them, IMO. I wish I had thought to take a picture, but I was too hungry and scarfed it down before the thought had even occurred to me!

I had an Oberon on the side, and since Amy and I had both heard about their amazing desserts, we decided to split a chocolate peanut butter cookie dough milkshake, completely vegan. Yes, you read that right.

source: Chicago Reader

It was made with a soy-based frozen ice-cream, and was TO-DIE-FOR. Not only was this bad boy rich, creamy, and free of any weird soy aftertaste, but the best part was that I didn’t feel gross, bloated or sick to my stomach at all afterward (since I am lactose intolerant). I’ve never been able to enjoy milkshakes, so this was VERY exciting! If you’re ever in Chicago and want to try an amazing veggie-friendly restaurant with classic diner food (they do offer eggs and dairy cheese, just no meat!), you’ve gotta give this place a try!

After dinner, I met up with some of my close friends who were in town for a bachelorette party, and hit a few bars with them. The bars they went to weren’t really my scene and were pretty overpriced, so I only had a few drinks and ended up going home in a bad (aka sad) mood.

———

I tried to sleep off the bad mood on Sunday, so after spending far too much time in bed, I got up and met Amy to head down to BluesFest! It’s a tradition for me to go every year since my Dad has been taking me since I was little, so I was psyched that Amy wanted to join me. We wandered around the fest a bit and picked up a few free samples (some not so great ZONE Perfect bars and some sickly-sweet soda — blegh!), then laid our blankets out in the sun to enjoy some of the great live music. It was a perfect way to spend the afternoon :)

source: xfx the mag

We both were craving a drink afterward (but didn’t want to spend $13 for a nasty Bud Light at the fest), so we went out for tapas and sangria at Twist! after leaving the festival. We had a great meal and some seriously tasty peach sangria, but had the funniest/most awkward moment when we paid the bill. Apparently both of us had neglected to deposit enough money into our accounts over the weekend, so BOTH of our cards were declined at the same time (we split the bill). The waitress came back and tried to insist that something must have been wrong with the machine, but both of us knew better and just started cracking up. One of the reasons we are such good friends is that we have a problem with expensive dinners and shoe shopping :D

Awkward, yes. Embarrassing, yes. But totally hilarious? Of course!

I’ve got some more work to catch up on, then I’m planning on either meeting up with a friend for another free concert in Millennium Park, or a nice long run before the hot weather comes back to torture is (high of 70 today! love!). Hope you’re having a great Monday!!

June 13, 2011 at 2:41 pm 2 comments

Beer, cheese and beans

Hello friends!

My apologies for my brief reprieve — I was out of town this past weekend and have been scrambling to catch up since I’ve been back!

I’ve had quite an interesting past week…As you may recall, I went on a date, but I failed to mention that I actually went on two. Oh yeah, I’m a player.

Okay, I’m not really a player — but I really didn’t expect to go on two dates with two separate people and like both of them. I’m worried this may get me intro trouble, but at the same time I think it will not only help me keep a healthy perspective, but also be…well, fun! I mean nothing malicious by it, I just happened to meet both people at the same time, and for once had good luck!

I am getting together with suitor #1 tonight for some beers and grub at a casual beer-nerd bar, and I’m quite excited. He has invited me to join him along with some friends even though we have only gone out once, so this could end up going very well, or very — VERY badly.

Anywho, this past weekend was spent in Madison! I went to school there waaaaay back in the day (not really) and hadn’t been back since I moved to Chicago last summer. I had a blast seeing old friends and even got to visit with my friend’s brand new 10-week old golden retriever. She is the CUTEST little bugger in the world and I will post more pictures tonight or tomorrow, but here is a little sneak peek:

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Meet Shandy :) Doesn’t she look like a stuffed animal? My heart just about melted.

Since I left for Wisconsin right after work on Friday, I didn’t really have a chance to pack much aside from a bag of clothes. Knowing how things tend to go on weekends away though (especially in a state known for beer, cheese and brats), I was worried that I would spend the entire weekend eating junk with nary a vegetable in sight. This did, in fact, turn out to be the case — however, thanks to some savvy preparation on my part, I snuck some healthy foods in anyway!

It was freezing and raining as the work whistle blew Friday, but I trudged over to the grocery store anyway and picked up a few essentials: rolled oats, apples, bananas, baby carrots, Justin’s almond butter packets, red peppers (on sale!) and dried blueberries. The oatmeal was the real lifesaver, as the friend I was staying with had little more than cereal and milk for breakfast — and as we all know, this gal doesn’t do milk. I made peanut butter-y oats with dried blueberries and some borrowed honey + cinnamon both mornings, and even made some for her the the second time around! Her reaction when I arrived with a full bag of oats was hilarious, though — she was looking at me like I was nuts. (Okay, maybe I am a little nuts — but I was happy that I had again made the initiative to be healthy!)

That doesn’t mean I didn’t indulge in some good old Wisconsin fried cheese curds and beer though. Never heard of cheese curds? Look em up. They’ll change your life.

Trying to contain the drooling right now...

source

Speaking of taking healthy initiatives, I was really stretching my dedication last night. After staying at work late and stopping home to have a snack, I was exhausted and unsure if I would make it to the gym. I hadn’t been in almost a week and was feeling very sluggish, but was too far out of my regular routine to want to go without much of a battle in my head.

After some serious couch-ridden pondering and a few longing gazes at my pretty pink sneakers, I decided to just go — even if it was already 9:30 pm!!! I know, I’m totally nuts, but sometimes you just gotta make it happen. I did a quick 2 mile run (which, shockingly for me, took almost zero effort!) along with a few full-body power moves (think squats with shoulder raises and walking lunges with bicep curls). In the end, even though I left the gym at the whopping hour oh 10:30 pm, I felt amazing. As Julie said today, “You’re just one workout away from a good mood.” She always has the best mantras!

My lunch today was pretty incredible. I am way impressed with myself, guys — no joke. I haven’t gone grocery shopping in quite some time due both to time restraints (hey, dating takes a lot of time!) and going out of town. So when I was trying to decide what to have for lunch today, I was stumped. But then the simplest (and cheapest — I am way broke at the moment) occurred to me on the way home from the gym — beans and rice!

It’s the ultimate budget food staple, and couldn’t be much easier to prepare. Unfortunately though, I didn’t have any black beans, so I decided to try my hand at a Middle Eastern classic instead — Mujadarrah.

I wanted to kick mine up a notch as well as use some stuff from my giant freezer stash, so this is what went into the mix:

  • 1/2 can french lentils, rinsed and drained
  • liberal pour of olive oil
  • 2 cubes frozen garlic
  • handful of frozen spinach
  • handful Trader Joe’s fire-roasted pepper + onion mix
  • veggie/chicken broth
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • cumin
  • paprika
  • cayenne pepper

While I was sauteing the onions and cooking the lentil mix, I made some brown Jasmine rice in the rice cooker, then mixed equal parts lentil/onion mixture and brown rice. It was HEAVENLY. I really had no idea something so cheap and easy to prepare could taste so decadent. And depending on whether you use veggie broth or chicken, this dish can also be completely vegan. Win! I brought a dollop of plain Greek yogurt along and stirred it into the mix to make it nice and creamy, then had a basic salad and honey mango on the side for lunch today. Love.

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yum!

Off to finish the rest of today’s work, then it’s date night!

March 8, 2011 at 2:29 pm Leave a comment

Avo-goat-o + dabbling in veganism

I made the beeeesttttt sandwich for work today. Lately I have been craving creamy, cheesy comfort food like nobody’s business (although watching Man vs. Food last night probably didn’t help), so I wanted something particularly tantalizing for lunch today, not to mention easy.

Solution: found.

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I took a Morningstar Farms chick’n pattie that I had hidden at the back of the freezer, two slices of whole wheat bread, half of a PERFECT avocado and some goat cheese. This bad boy made me weak in the knees.

Really though, is there nothing better than cutting into a perfectly ripe avocado? It rarely happens, so I always do a little dance when I get one. <—nerd

I’ve had the goat cheese/avocado combo many times in salads, but never together on a sandwich and all I say say is HOLY COW. Or rather, holy goat. <———bigger nerd

When I was in college and vulnerable to just about any “alternative” idea, I decided to go vegan for awhile. Like many women, I read “Skinny Bitch” thinking it was a diet book and, of course, was horrified to read what it was really about. That stuff is a big shock if you’ve never read about it before, and I had never really been exposed to veganism.

Disgusted, I immediately cut out all animal products in a dramatic cleansing of my cupboards, and found myself with next to nothing to eat immediately after. I did what many “starter vegans” do, buying meat substitutes of every food item you can imagine, as well as some vegan junk food. I tried soy milk for the first time (and hated it, but eventually grew to love it), switched to agave from honey — the whole 9 yards.

Long story short, I slowly began lapsing on my good choices because I found that this lifestyle was simply not practical for me. I am by no means saying that a vegan diet is bad (I think it’s awesome) or that is is impractical in general, but I did not feel my best when doing it and, especially being in college, had a very hard time keeping it up while maintaining the lifestyle that I wanted. (Hello, I lived in Wisconsin — beer and brats, anyone?)

BUT, going vegan for awhile had some very positive impacts on my life that I still keep up with today. After cutting out cow dairy for several months, I found that I had a really hard time digesting it when I tried it again. I now know that I (along with a huge portion of the population) am lactose intolerant, and while I can handle small amounts of yogurt (Greek mainly) and cheese (not ideal but tastes WAY too good to avoid), I absolutely cannot handle milk or ice cream. It makes me sick sick sick and very…er…unpleasant to be around. Heh. I now drink either soy milk or almond milk and don’t even miss milk! I still use half & half in my coffee, but use only a splash and almost always buy organic.

Being temporarily vegan also introduced me to an entirely new world of vegetables. Before that, I would maybe eat broccoli or salads once in awhile, and would occasionally get some vegetable soup. But having quickly realized that you can’t subsist on tofurkey slices and bread all day, I began trying vegetables that I either had never considered or hadn’t even heard of previously. Brussels sprouts, asparagus, jicama, you name it — to this day, I will eat just about any vegetable. Peas (regular, not snap) are my one exception, but I’ll still eat them sometimes anyway.

It was also a great way to learn  how to introduce meatless meals into my diet, and I began to become more and more aware of how much better my body feels when I eat vegetable-heavy, low-dairy and nutritious meals.

Have you ever dabbled in veganism?

March 3, 2011 at 3:18 pm 2 comments


Hi, I’m Laura!

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