Thursday, December 18, 2014

Recipe: Creamy Dreamy Mint Green Smoothie

Tonight, I experienced one of my toughest-yet power yoga sessions.  All of those warrior 2s, planks, and camels left me feeling like a champ... and starving.  After unpacking from the day and settling in, I whipped up this little treat to serve as my dinner.  

My favorite ice cream has always been mint-chip.  But since I no longer partake of standard dairy-based desserts, I like to get creative.  The nice thing about a raw food lifestyle is that you can enjoy something that tastes like dessert with zero guilt!  This milkshake-style smoothie contains plenty of vitamin-rich fruit and veggies with a great balance of carbs and protein for an after-workout recovery meal.  It tastes amazing, and won't weigh you down.  I will definitely be making this more often!

Creamy Dreamy Mint Green Smoothie

1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (I used my homemade hazelnut milk for this one.)
1-2 cups of kale
3-4 frozen bananas
1/2 cup fresh mint
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 scoop plant-based protein powder (I use Plant Head brand vanilla protein.)
2 tsp Dandy Blend tea (optional, but awesome.)
Pinch of salt
Sweetener of choice (I used a scoop of stevia for extra sweetness.)

Add all ingredients to your blender and blend until smooth and creamy.  Enjoy! 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Recipe: Quick and Easy Raw Pad Thai

Since I discovered raw and living foods, this has been one of my go-to dinner recipes.  It's really fast to whip up, delicious, and with so much fiber, very filling.  Plus, it's super versatile and easy to adjust depending on what's in the fridge.

Raw Vegan Pad Thai
Serves 1 or 2

3-4 of your favorite veggie:  carrots, zucchini, diakon radish, cucumber, etc. (Use all of one or a combination.  It's totally up to you.  For the bowl in the pic, I used 4 heirloom, colorful carrots.)
1-2 scallions
Cilantro, for garnishing

2 tbsp tahini (can use peanut, almond, or cashew butter)
1-2 tbsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos (could use soy sauce, tamari, nama shoyu)
1 lemon, juiced
1 tbsp sweetener of choice
1 garlic clove (or tsp garlic powder) 
1" fresh ginger (or tsp ginger powder)
Dash of cayenne pepper

For the noodles, just cut into shreds using your favorite tool for the job.  I used my food processor with the shredder plate.  It was the fasted way to go for me.  If you don't have a special tool or processor, just use a veggie peeler and make long flat noodles.  Chop the scallions finely and set aside.  

For the sauce, blend all the ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.  I have a Baby Bullet that works great for small batches of sauce and dressings. 

In a large bowl, add the sauce and noodles, then combine well until all of the noodles are coated.  Sprinkle the scallions and cilantro on top, and lightly mix.  You want the color from the toppings to stay vibrant for presentation. I was out of cilantro, so I just left it out this time.  

Then, pull out a pair of chopsticks, and dig in!  You may use a fork if you must, but I think it takes away from the feeling of eating international cuisine. ;-)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Vegan Vacation, Part Four: Meeting Naturally Lauren, A Juice Bar, and Adventures in Pizza

When I got into this raw vegan thing a few years back, I never expected that my YouTube stalking of Dara Dubinet would lead me to making new friends in all parts of the country, but what do you know?  After joining the "More with Dara" community, I met some amazing people... Fellow women (and some men, too) who had been through their own health struggles and healed with the help of natural living and healthy food.  It was such a joy to find these other people who understood me and why I live the way I do.  We shared instagram handles and Facebook info, and discovered that a lot of us are bloggers.  One particular MWD (that's what we call ourselves) was something of a kindred spirit.  Both of us with young daughters, we just "clicked".  I started following and reading about her day-to-day adventures and healthy struggles.  Lauren is a J-poucher, and if you don't know what that is, don't feel bad.  Neither did I until I read her awesome post about her digestive issues and the incredible road she's taken to heal.  You can check it out here:!My-Journey-to-Jpouch-No-Colon-Still-Rollin/cmbz/67EA1602-81D6-49F4-991F-8F330D2FEAB4

All of this to say, Lauren is awesome, and basically, my sister from another mister.  So, when we realized that she only lives about 20 minutes from my mom in New Jersey, we knew we HAD to make time to meet.  On the last full day of our vacation mom, Matt, Aubrianna, Charlotte, and I met Lauren and her daughter, Little A, at Fresh Press Juice Co in Cranford.  I fell in love with this town, you guys.  The juice bar is located right on the main drag in a little modern retail center that resembles as old town square.  It's adorable.  Lauren and Little A were waiting on us, and as soon as we walked in, it was hugs all-around.  I felt like I'd know her for years.  The funny thing is that I was a little nervous on the way there.  You know how they say, "never meet your idols because you're bound to be disappointed."?  Well, that was kinda stuck in my head.  I worried that our in-person meeting would be uncomfortable or awkward, like maybe we'd be different face-to-face.  Silly, right?  These are my insecurities, fellas.  I shouldn't have worried because it was a great time.  She is every bit as warm and lovely as she appears online, and I'm so happy that we were able to spend that time together.  We got to chat for a couple of hours and learn each other's stories.  The kids had an amazing time, as well.  The older girls loved that fact that their names are almost the same, and Charlotte enjoyed chasing them up and down the hallway to the bathroom.  I have to say sorry to the owner at this point in the post.  We were a little rambunctious that day.  But that's what happens when you get hopped up on green juice and acai berry bowls. 

Instant buddies... And stinkers.  So much cute in this picture.  We make pretty kids, let me tell ya.
Acai bowl a.k.a heaven.
Carrot cake smoothie for the road.  This one's not on the menu, but if you ask, I bet she'll whip it up.  So delicious!

Speaking of the owner, what a kind, driven, and knowledgable lady.  And drop-dead gorgeous, I might add.  I sampled a few things, and all of it was delicious!  They offer all kinds of juice, smoothies, superfood bowls, and even some grab-n-go items in the cooler.  Charlotte spotted the beet hummus first thing, so that's what she had.  Lauren's daughter had a cup of banana ice cream with a few little toppings added in, all healthy of course.  I can't wait to go visit again next time we head up there.  I want to try everything!

It was hard to leave, but all good things come to a close.  So, we hugged and said our goodbyes.  I had such a lovely time that day.  

That night, mom's "other half," Gary, picked a place for dinner that he thought would be great for me.  It's called Healthy Garden, located in Piscataway.  It's a nice little natural food cafe that serves a bit of everything... Sandwiches, burgers, pizza, burritos, quesadillas, salads, smoothies, juices, with lots gluten-free and dairy-free options.  I ordered a veggie pizza, and meant to have them leave off the vegan cheese since I'm really not a fan of Daiya.  I know, I'm not a good vegan if I don't espouse the virtues of fake cheese, but I just really think it tastes awful.  (There goes my shot at an endorsement.)  It reminds me of the "cheese-like food topping" that I accidentally bought once back in my omnivore days.  I'll give them props for making a convincing-looking substitute, but I just don't like the flavor at all.  So, as you can guess, I wasn't impressed with the pizza.  The crust was really tasty, but apparently if you order their vegan version of this pizza, instead of swapping the parmesan containing pesto out for a different sauce, they just didn't put any sauce at all on it.  It was crust, veggies, and melted Daiya which came out surprisingly greasy.  I think if I go back, I'll request that they add red sauce and leave off the cheese.  The veggies were nicely seasoned, though.  Everyone else thoroughly enjoyed their meals.  They had some very nice looking sandwiches.  My niece got a veggie burger that was as big as her head!  Definitely a good bargain for the price.  This place has tons to offer, so I'm looking forward to trying it again and getting something different.  It seems very promising, and I'll know to be more specific next time.

The next day, we were leaving for home.  Our flight wasn't until early evening, so we took advantage of the time we had and went shopping before meeting Gary for lunch at Brick House.  I was a little worried when we chose a place renowned for their grilled animal carcasses, but as it turned out, they had an easily-modified flatbread pizza with mushrooms and arugula.  It's totally vegan if you leave off the cheese.  The server was very understanding and helpful, too.  And this pizza, was super delicious, even with very little in the way of toppings.  The sauce had so much flavor, that it didn't need much else.  Granted, I would prefer more vegetables in all my meals, but for making do, it was great.  They fire-grill their pizzas, so the crust was to-die-for!  Definitely calling this one a win. 

After lunch, we started our long, traffic-laden drive back to Newark.  After a stop at Target for some essentials and a hat modeling adventure...
... We said our goodbyes, and parted ways.  Mom, of course, cried.  Aubrianna, of course, cried.  And I tried to be the tough one, but I whimpered.  My brother, though, was totally the strong one.  It's hard to walk away from my momma, no matter how old I get.  But, I sure hope that's how Charlotte feels when she's grown.  

Waiting for our flight.  She just couldn't hang anymore.  

The flight home was without incident, and it sure was nice to get back to my bed, and who am I kidding?... My food.  No matter how nice convenience feels, nothing beats making my own green smoothie or gigantic salad.  I hope that next time we can try more of the raw offerings in New York City.  That will make for some incredible blog posts!  Don't ya think?  

See ya next spring, Jersey!