Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween, everybody!

Hope everyone has a safe and fun Halloween! 









And get ready...Vegan MoFo starts TOMORROW! I'm so excited! I'll be posting every single day of November, so please check back and see what I'm up to! 




Friday, October 29, 2010

Whole Foods favorites

I spend way too much time and money at my local Whole Foods. Is it weird that I actually like going in there to just peruse the aisles to see if there are any must-try-now vegan products?  And it feels so much more rewarding as a vegan to find something that I may have taken for granted in my "pregan" days. Before I may have thought something like, "Oh are these cookies new? Haven't heard of them before. Maybe I'll give 'em a try". Not really thinking much about it, and definitely not reading over the ingredients. But now it's more like, "Whoa, vegan cookies!! Are they new? Do they come in other flavors? Should I buy two boxes?? Well now I've got to get some vegan ice cream to go with it!" Yeah, I take it to a whole new level. But I love it! 

My husband loves the gelato at Whole Foods. He'd meander over to the gelato/sorbet case for a sample or two while I shopped around. But one day he called me over there to point out some of the sorbet flavors to me, since they are all vegan (well, 90% of the time they are anyway). And I'm so glad he did!! Check out the sorbet section of the case:
 I'm usually not a huge fan of sorbet. I mean, it's good but sometimes just a little too tart for me. Well I guess I've been eating the wrong sorbet cause all of Whole Foods' sorbets are awesome! But these two caught my eye:

And of course I had to get a sample of both of them. Let me tell you, they are both so good in their own way, that I really cannot decide on a favorite. You just have to try them for yourselves and decide! But make sure you do it soon, the staff told me that these are seasonal flavors and will be gone in a couple months. Oh, the horror! Well it gives me something to look forward to next fall, then!



Hot Cocoa sorbet, with Dandies marshmallows of course!


...and Apple Cider sorbet!



OMNI-APPROVED!
 
Another favorite Whole Foods item of mine are Hilary's vegan cookies. I'm not sure if these are sold outside of Illinois (but they should be!), but have a look next time you're in a Whole Foods and pick up a box (or two!).


My favorite is the Peanut Butter & Chocolate. But that's subject to change. Whenever I try a new flavor, that one becomes my favorite. 


OMNI-APPROVED!
 
And while I'm at it...here's my latest favorite Whole Foods beverage:
Now don't think I consume all of these products in one sitting! I would if my stomach could handle it, though. I usually try to limit myself on these treats, and lately my bank account is making sure I stay very limited!


Whole Foods, Halsted & Waveland
3640 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60613 










Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Supermarket discovery: Eggplant Sticks!

I always enjoy discovering clearly labeled vegan snacks at my local supermarket. It's like I've hit a vegan jackpot and by purchasing this item I am paving the way for vegans everywhere to have frozen snacks readily available to them whenever we'd like...even if a product has been there for a while and I've just never noticed. Hey, it's new to me, right? Anyway, here's my latest find. As you can see, it is labeled "vegan" right on the front of the package (thumbs up!). But of course I didn't notice that until I read over the ingredients 3 times and said to myself, "I think this is vegan, but you never know...." I maybe even said that out loud, but this is Chicago so no one cares.

I thought these were quite good! And JX liked them, so that's a double thumbs up. Well, my kid pretty much loves anything fried so I won't get too excited.

I didn't have vegan ranch dressing at home, but I did have marinara sauce. My eggplant stick presentation may not have looked like the picture on the box, but they were still very good and I'd buy them again! I'm paving the way here, folks...paving the way.

Monday, October 25, 2010

New York Deli, Chicago Vegan Week!

Tonight I made my first visit to one of the four participating eateries here on the North Side, The New York Deli

Their vegan offering is a Chik'n Parmesan Sandwich. Going in there I wasn't really sure what to expect, the place was pretty small and I had to ask for the vegan option since it wasn't advertised anywhere in sight. But the guy who helped me was very nice and told me that they had actually sold out of the vegan sandwich earlier today and had to run out and grab more patties and Daiya! So that's a good sign! You know what was an even better sign? Seeing how delicious my sandwich looked when he brought it to me!!!
See those chips in the back there? Yeah, they were SO good. I glanced at the ingredients however and saw "natural flavors"  listed, so I wrote an email to the company this evening asking if there are any animal derived ingredients in the "natural flavors". I'll make sure to update as soon as I hear back! Man, I hope that they're vegan (I'm pretty sure they are, but ya never know)! If they are, get these chips with your meal!! 

They use Boca Chik'n Patties and Daiya (as mentioned above). I know it seems simple enough to do yourself at home, but they use their own spices on the patty and the bread and it's all so nice and hot and melty and delicious. 


In my opinion, this meal is big enough to split. The sandwich is about $8, if you add chips and just drink water, you and a friend would each end up paying only about $5! I was pretty hungry when I sat down to eat, but I only finished half of my sandwich and less than half of the chips (well, I kinda stopped eating after reading about the "natural flavors") . 


In other good news, the employee there said that they are considering keeping this sandwich on the menu permanently! And they deliver! If you can, please check out New York Deli this week, I'll keep you posted and let you know if they decide to keep the Chik'n Parmesan! They only take cash, but there is an ATM machine inside.




New York Deli
2921 N Clark St
Chicago IL 60657
(773) 549-3328


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cold Udon Noodles with Peanut Sauce and Seitan

This is one of my favorite recipes from my favorite vegan cookbook, Vegan with a Vengeance. This book will always hold a special place in my heart. I bought it along with Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World a few years ago when I was contemplating going vegan, and I was blown away! Reading through those books made me realize that veganism was something that was definitely possible, and armed with my 2 new cookbooks, I took the vegan leap! Even though I've expanded my vegan cookbook collection a bit since then, I still feel that these two books are great starters for new vegans, and Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar should probably be included as well!

Truth be told, I was afraid that I'd have to give up my precious sugary treats when going vegan (boy was I wrong!). I had no idea what a vegan cupcake or vegan cookie even looked like, let alone tasted like. (Keep in mind I was living in a fairly small town in North Carolina at the time and there was no such thing as "vegan" anything! Hey, I was lucky to even find those 2 books at the bookstore!)

But of course vegan baked goods look exactly like their non-vegan counterparts, and they taste the same, if not better!! Anyone who's even contemplating going vegan should definitely check the books mentioned above and then you'll too see that choosing a vegan lifestyle isn't about "giving things up", it's about gaining knowledge to all the wonderful cruelty-free options that are out there! Do your best to try it for a week, and see for yourself!

OK...so back to the Udon!! I have made this dish many times, so I kind of have a system down. It takes a few steps and Isa has recommendations for servings temperatures for each component (noodles, seitan, veggies, sauce), but trust her and follow her "instructions"! But I usually omit the bean sprouts and scallions just to make it more kid-friendly.

I made this for a non-vegan friend once and she really liked it! Overall I do think this dish is omni-friendly, so keep this in mind if you have omnis in your house (like I do) and want to make a lunch/dinner that everyone can enjoy!




Friday, October 22, 2010

Pick Me Up munchies!

This blog isn't even 2 weeks old and I've already had 2 Pick Me Up posts, so it's obvious I go there a lot!

I had to convince JX that "Pick Me Up doesn't have French Toast on Thursdays, I'm sorry sweet pea...." just so I could get my beloved Vegan Benedict and eat it while NOT dealing with a toddler meltdown! Am I a bad person? 


I like my Benedict without mushrooms, just so you know. 

I decided to get JX some Vegan Mac n Cheese, so if he didn't want it at least I could eat it!

OMNI-APPROVED!

And here are some shots of the dessert case with plenty of vegan choices!













And just when you thought this post was over....

My husband suggested that I mix my leftovers together and make a Cheesy Mac Tofu Benedict for lunch today. Don't knock it till you rock it, it was delicious!





Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls, people. Pumpkin. Cinnamon. Rolls. 

Last week I discovered this really great blog, Peas and Thank You. The author is hilarious, and her kids are adorable. Oh, and I am amazed by her awesome looking vegan recipes. Of course this one caught my eye and I just had to make them ASAP. They were very easy to put together and tasted good! JX devoured his in record time.
The one and only change I'd make to this recipe is adding more pumpkin. 

If you're interested in the recipe, please click here!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tofurkey Vegan Pizza

This has got to be my favorite vegan pizza right now. Made with Daiya "cheese" (my favorite vegan cheese right now), this pizza is addicting! There are three flavors available, which you can check out here. But plain 'ol cheese is the kind I usually go with!

My only real issue with this pizza is that the nutritional info says "3 servings", but I find that I usually turn it into "1 serving".  Don't judge me, folks. I likes me pizza.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Chicago Vegan Week! October 24-31!



So as some (or none) of you may know, October 24-31 is World Go Vegan Week. I was just informed yesterday (thanks, Bryan!) about "Chicago Vegan Week" which is of course happening on the same days. I've got a flyer here with four different Chicago eateries that are participating! Exciting! 

New York Deli

Clark St Dog

Ian's Pizza

Drew's Eatery

Click on the link(s) for more details! 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Starbucks and Scarecrows


Every Friday morning JX has an Arts and Crafts class at Wrightwood Park. I recently discovered a Starbucks near there (is anyone surprised to hear that?), and decided to grab a drink while JX was crafting it up for 45 minutes. This morning was a little chilly, so I changed things up a bit from my usual iced favorites and went with a Tall Raspberry Soy (No whip! Who do you think I am?) Mocha. Believe it or not, I find that Starbucks puts TOO much syrup in their drinks, so I go with 2 pumps instead of their normal 3 for tall sizes. Can you imagine? 3 pumps of syrup AND 3 pumps of chocolate? Not like 2 pumps is THAT much of a difference, but hey, I do what I can.




And...JX made this awesome scarecrow. I love it.

Banana Blueberry Pancakes


Yes, I know...another "not so stellar" photo from BunzOfCinnamon, but I'd rather post a so-so photo than no photo at all....right? 
This recipe is the go-to one in my household. Even the husband makes it. I add blueberries when I have them...and today was such a day!

Banana Blueberry Pancakes
1 cup flour
1 heaping tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
few shakes of salt
1 cup non-dairy milk
2 tablespoons oil

1 mashed up banana
1/4 cup blueberries (optional)

Mix dry ingredients together
Add oil and milk and mix until almost combined
Fold in banana and optional berries
Pour into preheated pan/griddle/what have you


I like to let the mixed batter sit for a few minutes to let the gluten develop a bit, but sometimes that just isn't possible when there's a hungry and grumpy toddler waiting. Do as you desire!

OMNI-APPROVED!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Not your average Wednesday!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of seeing not one, but TWO good friends that I haven't seen in years. In the morning, I met with Faith, who I haven't seen in about 4 years. We met up at Pick Me Up, which is one of my favorite places to eat. 






Normally when I go, I'm torn between the Vegan Benedict and the BBQ Seitan Sandwich (I'm sure they'll both make it to the blog soon enough), but since I had JX with me and we're short on money, I went with an order of Vegan French Toast for us to share. 

 

It was delicious as usual of course, but I wanted me some Benedict! Next time, next time.
Unfortunately Faith had to be on her way after our brief meeting, but I'm hoping she can make it back out here sometime soon! 

Faith looking beautiful, JX showing us his butt.



Next, JX and I were on our way out to Midway Airport to meet up with Mindy and FINALLY meet her two kids and introduce her to JX! I haven't seen her in SIX years! We had to take two trains out there (red line and orange line) but JX was awesome. All he needed was an iPod and headphones to watch a movie and he was good to go! 






Mindy was unfortunately "stuck" in the airport (long story, folks!) so we set up camp in baggage claim and let the kids get to know each other (AKA: run around and beat each other up) while we did our best to catch up.




Don't be fooled by these innocent smiles!


 It was GREAT to see Mindy again, I'm sad that we didn't get to explore Chicago together, though!! I'm trying to bribe her to make it back up here one day. But even if she can't, that's OK because I'm gonna try and make a trip to Austin next year to visit her. Nice, warm Austin visit during a cold Chicago winter...sounds good to me!!

How much do I love this Birdo!?!?!





  Come visit again soon, Mindy and Faith!! Please!


I never said I was fancy.....



So this was lunch yesterday. Let me just say that I had to push myself to double-up my broccoli serving. I normally wouldn't think that this meal was worth mentioning let alone photographing, but I just wanted to give a high-five to Gardein Seven Grain Crispy Tenders. They are hands down my fave "nugget" I've had. But only when they're baked! I tried microwaving them once and they were not nearly as crispy.

The only thing missing from this plate is barbeque sauce. Yep, we're out. So I made sure to compensate for that absence by adding twice as much Earth Balance butter to my baked potato. Don't judge me.

Happy Birthday, Sammy!


                                          Look who's FOUR today!!

Just wanted to let anyone and everyone know that today is my favorite dog's birthday! We've had her since she was 7 weeks old and she's awesome. Even though she thinks she's a lapdog. And she's a bed-hog.  

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Almost-Instant Chickpea-Tomato Soup, from Vegan on the Cheap


The great thing about this soup is if you've got a well-stocked pantry, all you need is a lemon and this can be on your table in about 10 minutes.

Overall I felt that this soup was lacking something, but I couldn't quite figure it out. Although I love to cook, I am not good enough (yet) to be able to taste something and say, "this is good, but it could use some _____" except when that "something" is salt. I followed the recipe exactly, as I almost always do when cooking/baking something for the first time. In the end I added more lemon juice. I think next time I might add a bit of vegetable broth to thin it out a little more to my liking. 

However....my 3 year old ate it!! That is a wonderful thing! Granted I had to dump a handful of soup crackers into his bowl, but whatever...he ate it!

All in all, I think I would make this again. I'm a fan of quick recipes, and of course I'm also a fan of anything from a book called "Vegan on the Cheap"!!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Breakfast Smoothie

Ok ok, I know....I need to work on my photo skills!! I'm learning as I go, folks.
This morning I made one of my breakfast staples, the "Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal" smoothie. The original recipe is from one of my healthy eating cookbooks, but I've doctored it up just a little bit to make it more kid-friendly. The recipe makes 2 servings, so it's always easier when my son shares with me.

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Breakfast Smoothie

1 frozen banana
1 cup of non-dairy milk (I usually use soy)
1/3 cup rolled oats
3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 tablespoon flax seeds
1 tablespoon wheat germ
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Handful of ice cubes

Put all ingredients in blender. Blend!!
I've found that sometimes I need to add more or less soymilk. Feel free to do whatever the heck you want!


Also, I forgot to mention in my very first post that I will not only be posting Chicago vegan-themed stuffs, but things that I cook at home as well! And these days we've been flat broke....so there may be quite a few more "home posts" before I am authorized to venture out again!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Quick Lo Mein, from Vegan on the Cheap

Tonight's dinner was very delicious, although I may not have taken the best photo! Unfortunately this was the best (indoor) lighting I could get...it was already getting dark outside when I finished making it! I love fall, but this is the one downside....less daylight.

Anyway, as the title says, I decided to make "Quick Lo Mein" from Vegan on the Cheap, the latest addition to my cookbook collection. I had made it once before and used ramen (yes, the cheapy kind!), tofu, and cabbage, but this time I went with spaghetti, seitan, and broccoli (all the other ingredients were the same in both dishes). Author Robin Robertson suggests either ramen or spaghetti to use and I was much happier with the results using spaghetti. And I've come to realize that I'm not the biggest fan of tofu in my homemade stir-fry. I prefer the texture of seitan overall. Don't hate me, tofu lovers!

Also, I was a little generous with the seasonings, cause that's how I like it!

Hello!

Greetings from Chicago!

I have just started this blog today and clearly have no idea what I'm doing yet. But I'm learning as I go! I enjoy exploring Chicago and discovering new vegan and vegan-friendly spots with friends and family. So I thought I'd start a blog to document any new discoveries and also spotlight some of the "oldies but goodies" that I frequent way too often.

I also have a great family that will occasionally make it to the blog as well! I enjoy going to the gym, but I'm pretty sure I will NOT be blogging about that. I mean, let's stick to the important stuff, right? Like Vegan, Family, Friends, Love, and Junk food!!!

Oh, and I drink too much coffee.