Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Few of my Favorite Things

Hello friends and a happy weekend to you. Just wanted to share a few of my favorite things. One is random, but if you've been a consistent reader you've probably picked up by now that sometimes I post random things.

My theory is, life isn't all about the veggies.

1. TJ's Soyaki. It's a fabulous veggie-tofu stir-fry addition. I like it because it has more flavor than just plain soy sauce, but doesn't have an overbearing taste. Add rice and a Circus Boy and you've got a fine Friday night meal.

2. Urban Decay vegan palette, make-up and eye-sticks are pretty awesome. I received this from a close friend for Christmas last year and I use it pretty much every day. The eye sticks seem to last forever. I own a purple and black one - and a black glitter version. They clearly mark all of their vegan options on their site and sell products at Sephora. 

The other great thing is that they keep their vegan consumers up to date. For instance, the eye primer in the product below was traced back to production and found not to be vegan. I visited their site and the information was clearly listed in red. 

3. Audra Mae (this is the random one). I'm going to bet she's not vegan. 

Sometimes I forget how great live music is. I went to see Matt Nathanson with a few friends in Portland, Maine. Luckily we got there for the opening act because I thought she was amazing. 

Is it a tad ironic that I'm listing a song called Milk & Honey on this blog? Possibly, however her voice has so much body to it that you should listen to her sing. If you don't soy milk jokes I suggest you skip the first part of the video (and learn to laugh a little). Life is too short not to appreciate the talents of others. 

4. Recipes from Co-workers. Yum. Never underestimate the thought of a generous co-worker. That's why you have office scanners. In addition to copying the regular reports and such.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Love it. Local Sprouts Cooperative…Portland, Maine

This post is so overdue I don’t even know how to explain my life.

Local Sprouts Cooperative
649 Congress St. Portland, ME 04101

Let’s begin. Local Sprouts Cooperative is probably one of the best places to eat in Portland if you’re looking for veggie, local, organic and utterly fulfilling meals. They serve food that is not only delicious but local (hence the name), which makes every Mainer feel good.

I truly appreciate the menu at Local Sprouts because it’s one of the only places where Joe and I can go out to eat and not feel like either one of us is going to compromise taste. He has plenty of meat options and I have plenty of vegan friendly goodness.

Local Sprouts is also home to Bomb Diggity Bakery, which supplies the CafĂ© with vegan and traditional treats. Check out their site for more information and to see their Vegan options. 

MY Experience
Rating: 4.75 of 5
One of the best things I love about Local Sprouts is that I could feel comfortable at any point of my day. It's the type of atmosphere where being chill is necessary, even on a Friday night. I can walk in with my work clothes, with my running clothes, with no make-up or baseball hat and the staff would still be congenial and willing to answer my questions.

Place your order at the counter and seat yourself. The employees will bring out the food when it's ready. The room can be packed at times, so finding a place to sit requires a little bit of strategy depending on the influx of people. They have tables that seat 2-6 people and a bar.

Live music also makes the atmosphere that much more enjoyable. Check out their calendar.  

My Food
Rating: 5 out of 5
Oh! The choices… Salads, soups, sides, sandwiches and more! Depending on the season they offer a variety of vegan choices. I’ll also let you in on a little secret, LC doesn’t skimp on the amount food they serve per plate. I have always received gracious portions and end up taking food home or saving it for later.

I had the small side salad, which was actually pretty big and most definitely tasty. Made mostly of leafy greens, it had a traditional salad ambiance.

Joe ordered a meat sandwich. He loved it. We actually realized that the last time he went there he ordered the same exact sandwich without realizing it. 

I enjoyed Sesame Tofu Stir-fry with seasonal vegetables over Rice. The meal was a lot of food, but tasted wonderful. For veggies it had carrots, broccoli, onions and much more (I can't even remember the diversity supplied in the dish). I would definitely order it again.

I picked up a Bomb Diggity Vegan Whoopie Pie for the road, because let’s face it, when you find a good Vegan Whoopie Pie (which is basically never) you should buy it and eat it.

So that's exactly what I did.

We both ordered a can of Baxter Brewing Co.'s Amber Road Beer. All of Baxter's Beer is listed on Barnivore as vegan, so feel free to enjoy! Yay!

My small salad. My full meal was the first picture!
Joe's sandwich the last time we went to Local sprouts. 
My tempeh sandwich when we went there before, with rice and veggies. Order your food and take it to go.

MY Logistics
Rating: 4.75 of 5
If you live near downtown Portland you may be able to walk. Local Sprouts is located between The Portland Museum of Art and Longfellow Square. Parking can be hard to find. Street parking is available if you’re lucky!

For a salad, a meat sandwich, a Sesame-tofu feast, two Amber-licious beers and a Whoopie Pie we paid about $35. We actually used a LivingSocial $10 Coupon and paid $25 - so that was a score.

Rating: 4.83 of 5
Local Sprouts is a great place to go for lunch or dinner if you’re looking for affordable and delicious vegan food. You’re also supporting Maine farmers, which I think is a great thing.

So, if you’re looking for a great to enjoy food, support a community-focused business and hear some live music, make sure you get to Local Sprouts!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Coexist Football-Birthday Party Recap

"Let's just have people over to watch the Pat's game on Saturday." Was the response I got from my boyfriend Joe when I asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday. 

Yes! Wings and beer! (And veggie platters….oh my.)

In the effort to make it a party with equal veggie opportunities we started planning the food list. Mostly of traditional finger food, but also some new stuff. Everyone invited decided to graciously bring more items, which left a  plethora of food staring at me at 1:30a.m. while picking up the apartment.

Luckily the game was at 8p.m., because I spent most of my day feeling like this girl. I tried to make a homemade family recipe from Joe's grandmother for the cake and it was an epic fail. So epic that at the end of the second try I thanked Betty Crocker for her fine box cake skills, decorated it to the best of my ability and went on my way (like five hours after I started). I will master the original recipe one day...

Thank You, Betty.

Equal opportunity food zone.  Veggie platter, puppy chow and pizza rolls. 

The other successful items that I meshed together are posted below! Vegan Puppy Chow and Pizza Bread Rolls. Yum. 

Lastly, I got the All-Star decorations from target. They're pretty sweet. Oh and of course, the Pat's won so a Super Bowl party may be in my future. 


Simple Vegan Puppy Chow & Green Pepper and Onion Bread Rolls

I remember puppy chow from pasta parties back in high school. Seriously, so yummy. It's also fairly sugary, so I try to make it for special occasions only. Pizza rolls are fair game for basically any Friday night. Enjoy!


1 Cup Organic Unsalted Peanut Butter
1 1/4 Cup Semi-Sweet Vegan Chocolate Chips (I use Trader Joe's!)
1/4 Cup (Or 1/2 Stick) Earth Balance
6 Cups (1 box) Nature's Path Organic Heritage Bites
3-4 Cups Powdered Sugar (I use Whole Foods Sugar - mentioned on their food blog, that it is vegan.)

1 Large Paper Bag (Like a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's bag) 


STEP 1: Melt peanut butter, chocolate and Earth Balance in a small sauce pan on medium heat. 
STEP 2: Pour the Heritage Bites into a large mixing bowl. When wet ingredients are completely melted, stir into dry cereal. Mix until every piece is completely covered. 
STEP 3: Place cereal into a paper bag and add powdered sugar. Make sure the bag is completely closed and shake until all the pieces are covered. Add more sugar as needed. Place in freezer until ready to serve. 


Portland Pie Pizza Dough (Found at Hannaford Supermarkets) or you can make your own, just be cautious of the necessary cook time and judge accordingly
1/4 Cup Pastry flour
3/4 Cup Pizza Sauce
1-2 Cups
Chopped Green Pepper
1 Cup Chopped Yellow Onion
1/4 Cup Shredded Fresh Basil
2-3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil 


STEP 1: Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. On a flat surface sprinkle 1/4 cup pastry flour. Roll out dough in a long rectangular shape until dough is about 2-3 cm thick. 
STEP 2: Place ingredients on bread, keeping in mind that you will roll the dough from the horizontal side of the rectangle. Spread sauce, add green peppers and onions. Add the basil to top third of the bread roll.
STEP 3: Roll dough evenly across until it's completely folded, usually 2-3 times. Place on baking pan (usually line mine with non-stick tin foil) and brush olive oil over the top of the bread roll. Bake for 13-18 minutes, or until golden brown.  

I recommend that you check the center of the bread roll to ensure that the dough has cooked entirely. If not, slice the roll in a couple places and put back into the oven let cook for another 4-5 minutes. 

Let the bread sit for another couple minutes and slice. You can also warm up the extra pizza sauce for dipping!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Holiday Hodgepodge and 6 Things To Note

A final holiday recap post and a few things to note. I realize this post is probably overdue, however I actually made a conscious effort not to turn on my laptop for an entire week. The work phone was also shutdown. The iPhone remained ready for action, as it was a necessary tool to uphold my responsibility of attempted Words With Friends domination.

It was a failed attempt in some cases, but I held my head high and continued matching necessary vowels and consonants. 

My holidays were split between Rhode Island, Illinois, and Maine – in that order. While I was traveling here and there I noted a few things that I would like to share. (Rhyming is not one of them…)

1. If all else fails, bring a veggie plate.

My relatives are lovely, especially around the holidays. They do try to accommodate me in every part of dining and I offer to help. But there is no denying it. They like meat. They devour cheese. Quinoa is about as appetizing to them as the slab of cod fish is to me. I have tried to make more gourmet food only to sit laughing at the expressions of faces at the moment of indecision.

This year I decided to buy hummus and make a veggie plate. It’s not exactly vegan creative, but it is popular. Simple is sometimes the best option.

2. Boys will be boys.

The presents before they were seriously violated. 
Toys! Chaos! Toys!

Just let the chaos happen.

We tried to make the present distribution civilized, we really did. With a house full of 20 people waiting to see the enlightened expressions on the kids faces, it only five minutes into the gift giving that my cousins and I realized we needed a game plan. Sorry, should have marked out a game plan. At that point it was too late and the remaining space between the boys and the sea of gifts under the tree had been permanently breeched. There were three boys, ages 5-1 that were going to tear through the presents whether we liked it or not.

3. New Year's Resolutions are great. Life-style changes are better.

I reached my two-year mark of being vegan on January 1, 2012. It wasn’t a New Year's resolution from 2010, it was changing my way of thinking and my habits. New Year's resolutions are hard to live by because they designate such a short time of your life! Choose health for life, not just for a year.

Here are some tips for getting started.

4. Have faith in your host (or multiple people catering to your vegan needs).

This year I had the pleasure of visiting Illinois for Christmas. Traveling can be a bit stressful at the holidays, especially when you’re the only vegan visiting a 5-person non-vegan family. My flight was FULL on Southwest from Providence to Chicago on Christmas morning. I definitely was not expecting the crowd.

The family that I was visiting this Christmas was more than welcoming to the vegan lifestyle. They made sure they gave me options at every meal over a three day period. Here are some samples: 

  • Vegan Cinnamon Muffins
  • Tofu-Veggie Scramble 
  • Salad
  • Roasted and Stacked Portabella Mushroom
  • Moroccan Couscous
  • Bread Rolls
  • Apple Crisp and More!

I was super grateful for the extra effort that was placed in creating “Danie-Friendly” Dishes.

5. Go for a Walk.

It’s peaceful and fresh air helps you think. When the holidays get too overwhelming, bundle up and go for a walk. I took the pictures from a swing set, because we stumbled upon a school and who doesn't love the swings!

6. Read The Hunger Games Trilogy.

I think this series let me hit my book quota for 2011 in the last week of December.

I know this one is random, hear me out. The Hunger Games, Have you read it? OMG I’m obsessed. (That’s appropriate because of the genre and age group right? Maybe that’s never appropriate…I apologize). 

I’m not usually a Tween-reading book gal. I read up to the third book of Harry Potter, which became redundant, and haven’t touched the Twilight series because the craze of screaming fans, not the vampires, scared me away.

While waiting for my flight from Providence I opened the first book of The Hunger Games and was immediately captivated. I even avoided sitting next to a nice older gentleman on the plane because I knew he would try to pursue conversation and the three hour flight to Chicago really isn’t that much time! (Does this make me a bad person?)

I finished the first book in one day. The second book, Catching Fire, I finished on the flight home and I lucked out. We were suspended in the air for 40 minutes from Hartford to Providence because the wind was too intense for us to land. High winds = more reading time.

The third book, Mockingjay, I purchased on New Years Day and read it in about three days sporadically. As I was buying the last book in Target I thought, “If anyone see me, I’ll just pretend I’m buying it for my 11 year old cousin”. But now that I’m confessing my love to you, I guess there was no real point of concocting that plan in the first place.

My favorites were the first two books, the characters are believable and you feel for Katniss (the heroine) after you realize the reality of her world and what she sacrifices.

The actual Hunger Games are a lottery of children from 12 districts in which they are forced to battle to the death each year in return for more food for their districts. The Capitol runs The Hunger Games as reminder of the strength and control they hold from the last war. I’m not going to give you a full book review because the books are easy to read and interesting. I also don't want to spoil it if you haven't read them yet. If you’re looking for something new I highly recommend the Hunger Games Triology.

And the first movie comes out in March… I will be going.

Lastly, for those of you that made a New Year's Resolution to transition to a plant based diet in 2012, I wish you the best of luck. For everyone else, veggies and meat-eaters alike, I wish you the best personal health for the upcoming year. 


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hipstamatic-Holiday Love

Hipstamatic, so fun.

It has taken me a week, but I'm finally at full force since the holidays. Go team. The holiday season rarely feels like a vacation. I hope you had a nice start to 2012! I celebrated 2 years of being vegan on January 1st, so my New Years was pretty fabulous.

I will a have more extensive post up shortly.

In the meantime, take a look at some of my favorites from the holidays. They're not traditional images of Christmas trees or sweaters with reindeers or presents…. I think of them more of the silent, but essential moments.

BabyCakes NYC Apple Pie Recipe

Joe & Ernie

She's crazy… we must be related.

Fluff is spent from the commotion.