Sunday, January 31, 2010

I made my own yummy pizza!!!!!

Posted By: Leah
For everyone who cooks for their family every night, I'm sure you are sick of reading about how excited I get in preparing these simple dishes. But for those of you, like me, who 'cook' maybe once every 2 months and the rest of the time throw in a lean cuisine or open up a can of soup, I know you are as proud of me as I am for myself for creating all the delicious and nutritious foods I have been making.

Here is where the pizza idea came from... last week we went out to eat and I was STARVING. We were at an Italian place and I ordered an app of ... I don't know what it's called, but it's marinara with toast that you dip in it. Cristini? something like that. So we didn't eat all of the marinara and I had it boxed up and brought it home. Tonight out of nowhere I had the inspiration to make personal pizzas on whole wheat tortillas. I had just enough of my left over sauce and random veggies to make it perfect. It was absolutely delicious! AND I have more good news... JASON ATE IT AND LOVED IT! I sat down with my pizza and when he saw it and asked for a slice. I said 'sure!' and he said 'wow that's really good!' I said 'I have 2 more, feel free to have one.' and he did! He ate it up!!! The whole time I was texting my sister (who is also a veggie) just flipping out that he was eating SOY CHEESE and loving it (he is a 'meat-atarian'). I did tell him (after he finished it all) what was in it and he said 'wow you tricked me, but this was delicious!' And this is equally amazing.. I gave Gav 2 tiny slices and he ate them up! I am so proud of both of them.
Here are pics!

I sauteed the onion and green pepper (I only had 1/2 of each, but it was just enough), because I knew the tortillas wouldn't be in the oven too long. I put them in at 450 for 10 minutes.
And here is the finished product. I had not tried to melt soy cheese before, but it actually did melt! I used a monterrey jack/cheddar mix I found in the produce section of the store (nothing fancy).  

YUM!!!! Make this, everyone will love them!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow Day = Snow Cream!

Posted By: Leah

We got snow... again! 2nd time this winter, which is awesome for North Carolina. I love playing in the snow, making snow angels (hahah look at me on the right). This year Gav is old enough to go sledding and ride down the hills on his own; it's the most fun! Another super fun thing that I really like is snow cream. I even have a can of sweetened condensed milk in my pantry all ready for snow cream. But... I'm not doing dairy anymore as you recall from my zillion other blogs, so today I had to get creative. I mean not too much, there isn't a lot in snow cream to begin with.

After lunch (I had some pasta salad, ooh I need to post how I made it!) I was pretty hungry still so I thought what better to make today than to make snow cream! I got my snow, and the soy milk I had was already vanilla flavored. But I REALLY like vanilla so I added more lol. I put everything into a bowl (I didn't measure) and stirred it up. I have seen a Christmas Story enough times to know that ice + metal + tongue = bad news lol so I ate it out of a plastic bowl with a plastic spoon hahah. 

Verdict is: eeh... not the best but not the worst. I think rice milk would have been better... maybe I just don't like the taste of this brand soy milk? Also, in 'real' snow cream I always add sugar, which I didn't add today. I have some rice syrup but to use it it has to be boiled and I was not in the mood to melt my snow, etc.  I tried to give some to Gav and he opted to eat the plain snow instead LOL. oh well, I tried!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Book Review Time! (diet/health/veggie/vegan)

Posted By: Leah
I have been reading soo much recently and thought maybe someone else on here has been reading these too or will read them and we can discuss the books! Or maybe you have thought about reading them and wasn't sure of the content (head's up these are all non-fiction, diet/ weightloss/ health/veggie/ vegan books, so if that's not your interest feel free to stop reading this blog now unless you just like reading what I write!). I have put my very brief thougths in the order of when I read each book. For someone who NEVER reads, I have been reading A LOT this year. I started reading The Kind Diet on New Year's Eve and all of the others in the past 3-4 weeks. wow go me LOL.
The Kind Diet. I blog about this book, idk... ALL THE TIME! I read it and it changed my life. Full of amazing recipes; it took me on fun adventures to unique grocery stores and  I am an all around better person because of this book. I think this is a MUST READ. Actually, a must OWN! I cannot say enough good stuff.  I never thought a thing about activism, but through the gentle words of this book I discovered that deep down inside I do care about how animals are treated, I do care about the planet... The Kind Diet is motivational, inspirational, and a fun book to read. Oh, and I loved Alicia Silverstone in Clueless and I could 'hear' her telling me everything in this book. I think if you are a fan of hers you absolutely, without a doubt, must own this.

Veggie Revolution. After I read TKD (above) my dad said he had a book that I may like. Someone had given him this book and he had not had a chance to read it. It was by a local author in Charlotte. I enjoyed reading this book because I had a lot of questions after reading TKD about how much protein I actually need, etc. This book reads more like a text-book, but the info is sooo interesting that I felt like I was filling my brain with knowledge. Also, Veggie Revolution offers more info about how to let other people know you are vegan with scenerios, how to answer questions about it etc. It's like you get sooo excited with all of this new-found knowledge that you forget everyone isn't as into it as you. Heck, I still think the term 'vegan' describes a bunch of hippies wearing birkenstocks. LOL!

French Women Don't Get Fat. I remembered hearing about this book a few years ago but not thinking too much of it. When my boss saw me with Skinny Bitch in the Kitch (oops! I left that one out of my line-up, I'll add it after Skinny Bitch which will be next) my boss said she had French Women Don't Get Fat and it offered to let me read it. I actually really enjoyed this book. My cousin got married in Paris and I have spent some time in a couple areas in France including Paris where we stayed for a little over a week. A lot of things I wondered while we were there all 'clicked.' Examples: French women don't go to the gym, they walk EVERYWHERE, there are no elevators, they find ways to sneek exercise into daily lives, they don't drink water with ice, etc. This book explains WHY. Also the French only eat fresh local food (also discussed in TKD), eat off of small plates, and truly enjoy their delicious, sometimes rich, food. Lovely book.

Skinny Bitch is honestly a book I had not heard of until one of my friends recommended it to me after we talked about TKD. I flipped through it at the bookstore with my sister and we put it back due to the language such as "Sugar is the Devil" I was on a kindness kick at the time, what can I say? But, I kept hearing about Skinny Bitch. OH! And my friend at work received Skinny Bitch in the Kitch for xmas, so I was like wow this is a sign! LOL! Anyhow, this book is VERY similar to TKD, except the language is explicit and hilarious. The foods suggested are easier to make, but there are no photographs (I know, I like picture books lol!). I have spent the last month following TKD's suggestions but Skinny Bitch pretty much sums it up, smacks you in the face and says 'you wanna get healthy, save the earth, you wanna get skinny? Eat this!' I actually really enjoyed this book, and recommend it (with a little bit of sassy humor). 

Skinny Bitch in the Kitch. last book. Actually, this is basically a cookbook Thanks Lauren for letting me borrow it! Skinny Bitch recommends all these delicious-sounding things, then tells you to go get a vegan recipe online for it. I am fine w/ that but some people need more direction so that's what this book is about. They give amazing sounding (I've yet to cook any, lack of ingredients) recipes like three cheese macaroni (soy cheese, obviously) and chocolate cake, but they still use their 'sassy humor' to remind you why you need to be eating their versions and NOT use dairy/meat/any animal products. I wouldn't recommend buying this one, but if you cook a WHOLE LOT this book will add some variety and you will be all set.

OK, so time for my summary/conclusion/key points etc.  All of these books had several things in common (even French Women, a book that says eating meat is okay). I guess the common subjects really are what everybody already 'knows' but we need to be reminded and sometimes see it in print to not forget.  
1- Eat small portions and stop when you are full.
2- Eat local (if possible), natural, whole-grain foods, and in-season. (Basically, go to the farmer's market). Organic is always best (even though more expensive unless you go to the farmer's market).
3- Take your time and eat slowly, chew well.
4- Move! Eating the most healthy food in the world will only get you so far, you have to incorporate some kind of movement into your day... but DO NOT OVER DO IT. All of these books said you do not need to go to the gym or a 5 mile run unless you want to. Walking and taking the stairs are the best things you can do.
5- Carbs are good! I mean not simple carbs (white flour/bread, white sugar etc.) but complex carbs (whole grains, brown rice, etc.) are. You can eat them 3 times a day. They will make you full and happy.
6- Fat is good! Not butter, but nuts and oils like olive oil are good for you.
So what am I eating? (I know you are dying to know lol) Out of these books with many similarities, but a few differences... well... I tried The Kind Diet for the past month, like I said. I made lots of healthy and yummy recipes. I cut all meat out of my diet and I eat very very little dary (only if it is IN something, like bread), and I've lost some weight. My energy is amazing (when I follow the plan exactly) and I feel so much happier and full of life.

But... I am having a very very hard time getting the 'carbs are good' thing through my brain. I get it that they give me energy and keep me full, but I feel like I'm eating too much. Same thing with the 'fats are good' thing. If I see 13g of fat per serving, I don't think 'oh this is tahini, it is good for me.'

SO... for the next 2 weeks I am going to take a step, not down... but over, to the Skinny Bitch's recommendations. Again, these books are basically the same but for example: TKD recommends eating whole grains (eg. brown rice), vegetables, and even soup (like miso) for breakfast. (Just an extreme example, but it is an option in there). Skinny Bitch recommends eating nothing but fruit for breakfast, and only after you are hungry. Then also have some protein or grain, but fruit first. For lunch/dinner TKD recommends 1/2 your plate be veggies, 1/4 grain and 1/4 protein. In Skinny Bitch for lunch it is a huge organic raw veggie salad, maye some beans or tofu for protein, then dinner is where you can have lots of grains, proteins etc. I think it will work for me because I really don't need or want a ton of food at work and dinner is when I can take more time cooking/eating. So I will check back in 2 weeks... just in time for Valentine's day lol (well probably many more blogs in between). With my verdict. I guess it's all a process and everyone is unique with what their body wants/needs.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Who watched Oprah yesterday and/or saw Food Inc?

Posted By: Leah

The documentary Food, Inc. was discussed... have you watched it? Also, my girl Alicia Silverstone was on discussing The Kind Diet. So what did you think about Oprah's show yesterday? I think she did a really fair job of showing statistics and talking about how people don't know where their food really comes from. Here are some of the rules discussed on the show by Michael Pollan, author of Food Rules (also a contributer in Food, Inc):
#2 - Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. Pollan gave portable yogurt tubes as an example. Would your great-grandmother recognize this as food?
#7 - Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third grader cannot pronounce.
#13 - Only eat foods that will eventually rot. Pollan mentioned individually packaged little cakes stuffed with cream (golden color).
#39 – You can eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself. If you want French fries, cook them yourself.
Pollan said the low-fat diet craze is what has made everyone fatter in the past 40 yrs. When you cut out one thing, like fat, you end up eating more processed carbohydrates. This may have led to our obesity epidemic.

Oprah asked Pollan what he ate. “I cook a lot”, the author responded. "Cooking is the only way you can take back control of your diet from the corporations that control your food." So true, but it's tough to cook every single meal. It takes a lot of planning and work I know, but hopefully I'm being a semi-decent inspiration that even working moms can cook healthy, wholesome food... even though I screw up 99% of what I make it still turns out healthy LOL.  After all that I have learned in the past month (when I first embarked on my healthy eating/plant based diet (and yes I've had non-plant based things, but I felt yuck afterwards).. if you understand what it takes to make food cheap and easy, you will lose your appetite.

Here is the trailor for Food, Inc. I think from yesterday until Saturday this weekend Oprah's offering a deal with Amazon and it's only $9.99. I can get it free on Netflix, but like I said before... I 'get it' but if you aren't sure or just need more information, this is a good thing to watch.

One last thing... so we are holding the 'Biggest Loser' competition at my work. Honestly my heart (and stomach) weren't really into it the last time I participated (I lost maybe 1 lb in 3 months and that was just luck lol). But it starts again next Monday (February 1) and this time I'm in it to win it. I have a new motivation/ new inspiration/  and know what I can eat to help me look and feel my best (Without being hungry!!!).

When I read The Kind Diet I learned for the first time about conditions of slaughterhouses. It was very hard for me to read and to be honest, it brought me to tears. I have seen parts of Food, Inc. but I don't think I can handle seeing the whole movie. Just reading the few pages about how farm animals are treated in The Kind Diet made me want to immediately give up meat for good. In other books I've read like Skinny Bitch, honesty... I have to skip over the slaughterhouse details section.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Oprah Tomorrow!!! Set your DVR NOW! Alicia will be on!!

Posted By: Leah

OMG I am soo beyond excited. Alicia Silverstone, author of The Kind Diet (and star of Clueless), will be on Wednesday’s episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show. During the episode titled “Before You Grocery Shop Again: Food 101 with Michael Pollan,” viewers will learn where their food really comes from and how food affects their health.

During Silverstone’s segment, the actress takes viewers shopping for plant-based food then heads to Laura Linney (from the Truman Show and now in a play w/ Alicia)'s apartment to cook up some recipes from The Kind Diet. She also discusses how her vegan diet changed her skin and eliminated her weight worries.

On her website Silverstone writes, “I believe that this will be a very important episode. If you know anyone who is on the fence about this lifestyle, it would really be worth having them watch this episode. I think it will help a lot of people get on board with a healthier lifestyle and the seriousness that it deserves.”

In The Kind Diet, Silverstone shares her reasons for adopting a vegan diet and outlines the benefits of that decision. The Kind Diet also features delicious plant-based recipes. The book is available on The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet

Everyone please watch and/or DVR! I am soo excited about all I have learned from reading the Kind Diet and want everyone to have more energy, lose weight, and feel as awesome as I do!

Here's a preview from the show:

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hearty Pinto Bean Stew (aka Baked Beans)

Posted By: Leah
Ok YUM on this one!
I know I complain about how I am such an awful cook all the time, but this one has now turned out delicious two times. It's a winner! A+++ ! Ok check this out, I'm actually going to post the recipe. Yes! I am giving away Alicia's secrets! (And you KNOW I didn't type this LOLOL. I just found somebody else who did and c&p. I am noting in italics all the spots where I totally didn't follow the recipe (nothing new!) and did my own thing).

Hearty Pinto Bean Stew - The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone
Serves 2 just go ahead and double this. I can eat it all in one sitting.
1 c pinto beans, soaked overnight in water to cover I used canned always.
2 cups tomato soup ( Imagine brand is good) I use Progresso tomato basil.
2 tsp shoyu Not sure what this is, so I don't use it.
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 onion, cut in chunks
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp chopped fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried
dash of dried oregano
dash of red pepper flakes I use more than a dash, like a tsp or so
fine sea salt to taste

I have left the real recipe below, but here's all I do.... put the oil, onion and garlic in a pan and sautee until translucent. Then add everything else, cook until everything is hot and eat. Ok back to the real recipe...)
Combine the tomato soup, 1 cup water (omit, it would be too soupy), shoyu (omit)and oil in large
soup pot. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Drain the
soaked beans (if you are into non-canned) and add them to the stock. When the liquid returns
to a boil, reduce the heat to med low, cover and simmer for 30
mins. (that's a long time!)
After 30 mins of simmering, add the onion, garlic, basil, oregano
and red pepper flakes. If the stew seems too thick, add more
tomato soup or water. Place cover slightly askew over pot, and
simmer 30 to 40 mins longer (this is like a 2 hr recipe!) or until the beans are very tender.
Season to taste with salt

I like my recipe best, but I know the more macrobiotic way is to go with the original. I'm sure the Progresso soup has some sugar in it, that is why it is so good, but the entire dish tastes just like delicious spicy baked beans to me. I give this 2 thumbs wayy up!

Bean Croquettes

Posted By: Leah

So remember how I was making the delish rice (spelt) crispy peanut butter chocolate (carob) treats and I said I couldn't ever follow a recipe, have the right ingredients, or measure correctly? (here's a link to the blog for a recap). So tonight was no exception. My TKD recipes have been turning out sooo well... until tonight. I always try to go off the cuff to create something new and fun, but tonight it wasn't working for me. Check out the nice picture I took of the finished product! It actually didn't look half bad!

At work sometimes I click around and learn from others who have tried various recipes in The Kind Diet (see above TKD link). A lot of people said they had trouble with the Black Eyed Pea Croquettes so I was going to not make the recipe at all. But this morning I was looking through the book and they looked so easy and for once I *thought* I had all the ingredients.

I get home and pull out my ingredients and get to work. I remembered reading that people had trouble mashing the beans in a food processor. I have a biscuit cutter aka general chopper that works great for stuff like this so I used it and felt like I was doing really well! I had a can of black beans and needed 1/2 cup more for the recipe so I just threw in a can of kidney beans too (I totally forgot that it was BLACK eyed PEAS required in the recipe (I knew it was some kind of black bean. Seriously... I have recipe issues!)
But I didn't know I was doing anything wrong, I was actually really proud of myself! Look at my little croquettes! I ended up with three extra and figured I could maybe take them for an exciting lunch tomorrow and brag about what an awesome cook I am learning to be. (A secret vegan goal of mine is to make people jealous of my awesomeness and convince everyone to convert LOLOL. Ok I am totally kidding it SOO isn't for everyone. But don't knock it until you try it. You will drop weight super fast, have crazy amounts of energy and look/feel awesome. Who isn't down for that?).
So Meanwhile I had my oil (I didn't have safflower oil, only vegetable oil. Is there a difference?) on the stove. I know I'm a southern girl and all, but I have never friend anything in my life. I had the oil in there on high and no boiling. I just figured I'd drop a croquet in there and see what happened... Well THAT is what causes the bubbles... who knew?? Oh! and in the back is the 'dipping sauce.' Again, I didn't have the right ingredients AT ALL. Instead of barley syrup I used rice syrup. It's the consistency of molasses as you recall from my previous post and it has to be boiled so you can do anything at all with it. I KNEW I had some dijon mustard in my house. But of course as all this frying/boiling is going on there is none to be found. So... I had to use the ONLY thing even remotely close... honey mustard. It is like some Kraft cheap stuff I have had for who even knows how long.

Anyhow so I put the croquettes on a paper towel to 'dry off' and 'rest' or whatever for a while. I am sorry this picture looks so disgusting. It was the black beans kind of falling apart.
Ok so the final step was to get this all plated up and eat. I had originally told Gav he could have some but after a quick sample I didn't think they would go over well with him. So he got some ravioli instead haha. I took a bite and they were crisp (not burned) on the outside and the inside was hot, but really mushy. The sauce (glaze) was much too sweet (totally my fault) and I got a headache pretty much immediately after eating these (I'm going to blame the sauce). I re-read the recipe. I had done soo many things wrong (mainly the type of beans and the sauce). I felt like I had to eat a salad to get the gross oil taste out of my mouth. I'd give these a C-. I really wanted them to be good, but they just weren't. I'm not sure if I will attempt them again. OH! But I must add that in the recipe Alicia says the consistency I made them (crisp on the outside, soft inside) is correct. I guess the last kind of croquette I had was salmon and this is far, far from that.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I climbed to the top of the Empire State Building this week!

Posted By: Leah
... But I've been in North Carolina, how is it possible for me to climb the Empire Stat Bldg? So technically I climbed the equivilant... 102 floors! Am I out of breath? no, Am I sore? no... so how did I do it?? Well, remember my blog from last week about how I never had time/energy to exercise? One of my ideas in there was everytime I get up at work to go to the bathroom (I work on the 1st floor of a 5 story bldg) is to run the stairs up to the 5th floor each time. I've been drinking my 8 cups of water/hot tea at work every day and that equals about 4 trips to the bathroom at work (sorry, TMI!!). So 4 trips to the 5th floor a day = 20 floors a day... and it's been 5 days I've been doing the stairs so that is 100 floors! I go across to the hospital and take the stairs sometimes so thats where I'm counting my extra 2 floors. Yes!!

Another thing I've been doing (admittedly only 2 days, yesterday and today) is waking up 30 minutes early and doing some kind of exercise show from tv. I DVR'd a bunch of stuff from FitTV (like Bollywood, Brazilian Carnival Dance, yoga, etc) and those are actually kind of fun! The TV wakes Gav up, so he just lays on the couch and watches me. Maybe him waking up earlier will mean he will go to sleep earlier... what a wonderful thought!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What I purchased on Etsy's HeartsforHaiti! (I'm in love)

Posted By: Leah
I blogged earlier about Hearts for Haiti, Etsy's awesome shop where hundreds of artists (including me!) have donated items and when they sell, 100% of the profits go directly to Doctors Without Borders.

I was on the site just clicking through accessories, seeing what other people had donated and came across this amazing headband. I make headbands mostly because I am a huge fan of them. I saw this one and I HAD to have it. I even e-mailed it to my co-worker Courtney and told her to stop me from purchasing it (more expensive than most handmade headbands... but it is soldered medal and not to mention gorgeous!) I told her about Hearts for Haiti and she said "how can you NOT get it??" So I am now the proud owner of this gorgeous swallow headband!

I feel great about my purchase (why doesn't all shopping make me feel this good?) and encourage everyone to check out Hearts for Haiti.

Also a shout-out to the etsy creator/donater of this lovely headband mylavaliere.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hearts for Haiti!

Posted By: Leah

I am excited to be a part of Hearts for Haiti. This singular store was created to raise money to rebuild Haiti. 100% of the proceeds from this shop (minus Etsy fees and Paypal fees) go directly to DoctorsWithoutBorders ( ) in bi-monthly increments. This shop has permission to use the DoctorsWithoutBorders name and a separate bank account and Paypal account have been opened to maintain the integrity of this shop.

Items have been donated from many individual shops; each shop has included their particulars (country, shipping time) in each listing. All items include seller-donated free shipping (most worldwide, see individual listing) because the need is SO great, we want you to buy and help support Etsians helping Haiti. The theme for the next few weeks is on heart items but we have more than just that. Please browse our sections to the right and know that your purchase in this shop not only gets you a great Etsy item but it also helps alleviate the needs in Haiti through donations to DoctorsWithoutBorders (MedicinesSansFrontiers ).
My item donated was my Upcycled Nautical Bag and Cuff. This was a shirt and now so much more. I loved donating this item because it is symbolic to me of 'rebuilding into something better and stronger than it was before.' It is only $10 (on sale from $15). Please look through Hearts for Haiti's hundreds of listings and know you are making a difference with each purchase. Thank you!

Crispy Peanut Butter Treats with Chocolate Chips. OMG, YUM!

Posted By: Leah
I've come to the conclusion that I am cursed with a chronic inability to 1- follow a recipe, 2- have all of the ingredients... and ok 3- measure correctly. Generally these are the reasons for 99% of my kitchen disasters, thus the reason I never cook, and why I buy so much crap/convenience food. Well check this out... thanks to Alicia's amazingly variable recipes in TKD, I can royally screw them up/not follow the directions and they turn out FABULOUS! Did you see my random variation of like 2 of her burrito recipes from yesterday? YUM!

This Crispy Peanut Butter Treats with Chocolate Chips recipe is one that I read about on her website and everyone, I mean EVERYONE loved them! And the way she writes about them in her book, it's a sure-fire hit! So of course I had the drama from my three above-mentioned cooking pitfalls. 1- I couldn't find the required '1 box brown rice crisps cereal' So I got 'puffed spelt.' What is spelt? not sure... but it looked like honey smacks and that seemed good enough at the time. 2- the 'puffed spelt' box seemed really small, maybe 3/4 or less the size of a normal cereal box. the recipe called for a whole box, but on the forums people mentioned the batch was huge and they get stale too fast. Sooo I used 3/4 of the 'puffed spelt' and then about 1/2 the brown rice syrup (can I mention this is really good stuff? It smelled sick and was thicker than molassas... seriously! but yum!) and then I used 1/2 the peanut butter.

I combined the ingredients, I used less bowls than it said (why can't you mix in the same pan that they will set up in?). And I was on the fence about adding carob chips. At the last second I added a handful just to the top. That was it, no banking, just letting the peanut butter / rice syrup mixture cool and then cut and eat.

Alicia starts the recipe for these with:
"These little yummies will blow your mind. Everyone- and I mean everyone - in your life will love these."
I wanted to believe her... I really did but sometimes I tend to think these poor vegans chefs haven't had 'real food' in so long they think their own food is soo good when it isn't. Well guess what? This was freaking rockin! I could have eaten the whole batch. And trust me, if I reallllly wanted to I could have, but because there is something in the rice syrup that isn't as 'addictive' (I'm just quoting the book here, I don't know for sure. Sugar is the Devil, ask the girls from the "Skinny Bitch" series) it's like I could have one square, be perfectly happy, have a super happy belly and stop eating. Kind of amazing. And I'm a self-confessed binger if something is as good as these are.

I decided that instead of cutting these into 9 or 12 (remember, I made a smaller batch to begin with) I would cut them into 6 LARGE squares and have them for breakfast. I put each in a ziplock bag to keep them fresh and take one to work. They are SOOOOO good. I would compare them to like a caramel/nut sort of thing. I happen to LOVE the taste of carob (I was brought up on it) but I think the recipe says non-dairy chocolate chips work too.

This is yet again, another recipe that gets 2 thumbs way up... and I didn't even really follow the recipe!

Homemade burritos, guac and nori!

Posted By: Leah
When Gav and I were at the Super G Mart on our International Shopping Adventure he recognized an avocado. They were doing the 'try it... you'll like it' song on Yo Gabba Gabba that morning so he was all about trying some avocados (he hated them of course, but good effort!). Also, at the Super G I found the nori I needed for the carrot dikon tea (recipe and review coming in a couple days... gotta see if it 'works' first).

As all of you who know me for real know, I'm not much of a cook. I have been so inspired by TKD that I have really been trying to fix not only dinner... but bright, colorful, fun and healthy dinners. I am the only one in my family who ends up eating them (for now!) but hey, more for me and an easy lunch for the next day already ready for myself!

So back to Gav eating the avocado... he actually wouldn't even try a tiny bite when he saw the inside. I told him how 'creamy' it was, but honestly I'm not a huge fan of them raw so I took my steal of a deal ($0.70) avocado, some salsa I got, random spices (probably 5 yrs old) and made my own guacamole! I tried to look up a recipe, but I wasn't really in the mood so I did a google search on my phone and saw something about a red onion (something else gav saw that was 'pretty' at the Super G) and chopped it all together and it's what I called guacamole. Technically I guess it was more of a chutney, but whatever it's a huge step for me to make anything like I said LOL!

Anyhow, I had some leftover green pepper/onion mix that I had added black beans to. And Jason by accident got brown rice with quinoa (which he hated so I got to have, score!) and that was my 'filling.'

I put my homemade salsa aka chutney on top then added some spinach (for my 'real' vegetable) and wrapped it up in a wholewheat tortilla... yum!

And guess what? I STILL had some of the green pepper/onion/rice/beans left over so guess what I made tonight? Another burrito, but instead of a tortilla... I used... (drum-roll...) nori! And what is nori? It's the seaweed (yes!) wrapped around sushi. When Jason saw it he said "Is that PAPER?" I said "no" and left it at that.

To be perfectly honest, it sort-of did taste like sushi for .005 sec. But as the nori got heated by the rice and beans and the ingredients settled, it was really good! That nori is tough stuff, it held my messy burrito really well. OH! I should add tonight I had the exact same ingredients but also added dikon sprouts (the ones I thought were real dikon, before I looked it up).

So all and all I will call this recipe a success! Yay!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

International/Health Food Grocery Adventure!!!

Posted By: Leah
I have been waiting weeks to get a chance to buy all of the unique/exotic/extra healthy ingredients I have read about in TKD. Finally today was the day. I packed up Gav and we set out on our International/Health Food grocery store adventure!

I did research (I later learned not enough) but at least had a list of the foods I was looking for. I was sure I could get most at an Asian grocery store, and whatever I couldn't find there would be at the health food store. Specifically on my list were: brown rice syrup, shoyu (still not sure what this is), umeboshi plums, daikon, nori, and a bunch of other stuff like that. I did a google search before I left and had the addresses of two Asian markets on Market Street (about 10 min away). I told Gav we were going on an adventure (this is what I always tell him when we go shopping, mainly because it is true), and he gets hyped for the trip and this makes my life slightly easier.

So we get to where the GPS said the first Asian place was and the only thing there was a 'European Market' I don't really know what that was, but I figured my needed ingredients were Asian and the western/non-western/eastern worlds don't exactly collide together at the European market place, so I went into the next strip mall. There, they had an African/Middle Eastern Market. Again, I was thinking wrong hemisphere, I'm not going to find my North-Asian stuff. So I typed in the 2nd Asian market's address into the GPS. This place was about a half mile the other way down Market street (OK the irony of it being called "market street" just now hit me! wow). So I missed the main entrance and I went into the next one on that strip-mall. This is a newer section. I always assumed it was primarily Hispanic stores because the colors are like bright orange and green and yellow and blue on yellow stucco. So I turn in to try to cut through to the Asian market and amazingly enough in front of me is this huge grocery store called "Super G Mart" and under that it said "International." I wasn't sure at first because I thought why would they put two Asian markets in the same strip? So I took a quick peek out my car window to check the clientele and walking towards me were several families of people who looked Asian! I was like "Yes! High-5!" I circled back around to find a parking spot and saw some Obama and Coexist bumper stickers and knew this was the place for me! Hahah.

So I put Gav in a shopping cart and in we went! It was AMAZING!!!! I have been in international markets before but they are always small. This was HUGE. A real grocery store, but beyond that was a flea market, home furnishings, an Asian gift store (we will get to the infinity Hello Kitty items soon). It was awesome! It was also PACKED! There were people of every nationality/race shopping. I just started making laps in the produce department because nothing on my list was jumping out. I actually had to break out my phone and do a google image search to see exactly what a daikon looked like (fat white carrot, just fyi). So I couldn't find anything, but they were sampling all sorts of exotic fruit, it was fun! I headed to the aisles and 90% was in another language. Luckally the tags below the groceries containing the prices were in English. OH and the prices were so low! Here is a picture of Gav I took on my phone when we got to the cookie aisle. He was slightly overwhelmed/annoyed with my constant circling of the aisles/departments so I got him some panda cookies. They seemed healthy enough and Gav loved them! Here he is back at home with one. We got the whole box for I think $1.79.

So I ended up getting a few items, I won't go into all the details because this will be the longest blog EVER! But I couldn't find my umembosi plums. I asked in the produce section but little did I know they are pickled and wouldn't even have been there even if they had them! Anyhow we got all the things below... all for only $11. Actually we got more, but I left them out of the picture lol! Oh and Gav somehow also talked me into the gummy bears, they were in the prettiest colors! hard to tell in the photo, but trust me he needed them LOL!.

OH! so I am forgetting the 2 best parts of this place. 1- the Asian Gift Shop section! It was like a Hello Kitty party!!!!! they had everything from slippers to hair accessories, luggage to magnets. Awesome! There was a whole row of lucky bamboo and bonsai! Then, on our way out this dude was standing by a machine that was literally shooting something that looked like a dry pancake out. I have tried for the last 10 min doing google image searches and there are zero pictures. All I know is it was DELICIOUS!!! (I got a sample). I got it as we were walking out and I literally almost did a 180 to go buy some, but I figured I'd be back. The man had a sign that said '100% rice, no oil, no sugar.' They were so freakin good. Just trust me on this. Not at all like a gross Styrofoam rice cake. It was like a pancake, but crispy and airy, but a great flavorful taste almost like a pancake!

Ok so next stop, the co-op! I had driven by there only infinity million times in college (it's on the corner before the turn to Wal-Mart LOL). But I never knew really what it was. So I went in and it was very small, a little crowded. I was able to get my daikon, I learned about the umboshi plums (this dude who worked there and stood a little 'too much' into my personal space told me their history, asked what I was doing w/ them etc. I was like "uh they are for a recipe.") Anyhow they cost $17!!! So I don't care what they were made of I didn't get them whole. I got the paste but that mess was freakin $9 so I'm ready for a miracle to happy in my belly or something. I mean come on? Actually all the prices were a little high. I noticed the Annie's Goddess salad dressing I got for $3.49 at Lowe's Foods was $6.59 here! Same thing exactly! So I also found a few more things on my the daikon. OH! And there was a sign in the produce section that kids could have a free piece of fruit. I asked the 'close talker' dude and he said for Gav to just pick one. He got a pink lady apple.... which he threw on the floor of the car as soon as we left. I promptly picked it up (5 sec. rule), blew it off (not too dirty) and ate it. YUM! I can go for some organic (free) produce!

Next stop... Earth Fare! I have already blogged about their awesomely amazing promo where you trade in your crappy unhealthy high fructose corn syrup foods for FREE replacements. Anyhow I had some of my groceries to trade in. If you missed that blog and need a link to the info, here it is! I really like shopping at Earth Fare, I will not lie. It is the closest to a real grocery store (I mean it IS, but you know what I mean). It's not too crowded, it's layed out well etc. The prices are high, but their products are all organic and they offer a large gluten free/vegan/veggie etc. variety so its all good. Anyhow I got the last random things (well, what I could find of them) from my list. I did a little 'normal' shopping for like 2 things I needed. I feel like I spent more than normal for those products, but I got all the free Earth Fare products, so it was a good value overall.

Gav was flipping out for his SO Delicious brand fruit bars. I think these cost A LOT (over $5 for the box), but I tried one and omg... SO worth it lol! Here's a list of the ingredients. I was impressed and had no problem giving gav 2nd's and going back for 2nds myself!

I plan to make the following with the things I got and will be back with reviews, etc. if they are especially good! If not I will just suffer through eating them (Like i did with my tempeh from last week YUCK)!
Peanut Butter / Rice Krispy / Carob Treats
Miso Soup
that's all I can remember LOL!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Where are you Exercise? I will find you...

Posted By: Leah
So this is going to sound like a huge excuse and it's not, but I really, truly do not have the time/energy/resources to exercise. I have been trying to find ways to sneek it in, but I am not sure any of these ways really 'count.' Isn't it true that it is necessary to elevate your heart rate for 20 minutes for it to really make a difference? Oh here are some ways I've sort of been exercising:
1- Taking the stairs. I work on the first floor of a 5 story building, so technically I have no reason to take the stairs anywhere ever. But there are bathrooms on all the floors, so what I do is instead of going to the 1st floor bathroom I run up to the 5th floor taking the stairs then come back down to the bathroom on the 3rd or 2nd floor. I think this may be about 2 minutes of exercise.
2- Putting gav to bed. Back in the olden days when the child wasn't allowed 3 hr naps at daycare and went to sleep at a decent hour, I would exercise at 9 or 10pm after he was in bed. Well now he needs zero sleep so he will go to bed at 11:30 at the absolute earliest. But I found that as I'm chilling in his room waiting for him to fall asleep, I can do some exercising in the dark (ok really, how sad is that??) I can do sit-ups, push-ups, leg lifts, pilates sort of things. It's quiet, but it is maybe 10 minutes max and doesn't exactly get my heart rate up.
3- This is my last possible way (ok, next to last) and I think will be my only hope... waking up BEFORE gav and exercising at 6:30am. Considering I don't get to sleep until after midnight on most nights and 6 hrs of sleep is not enough for me... I really dispise the idea of waking up early to exercise. I have set my alarm early enough, but I hit snooze 3 times, and oh look, it's the time I'd normally get up.
4- Last possible way... this also involves me getting up early... if I get to work 30 minutes earlier I could then take an hour lunch instead of only 30 minutes. I work across from a nice park and on pretty days when it's warmer and not raining I could go for a quick 30 minute walk. I actually used to do this until I found I wasn't using my hour lunches and would sit down, forget to clock in after my hr was up ans get in trouble for 'missed punches' on the timeclock. This is why I stopped.

Are there any other ways I could find a way to exercise? Once it is not pitch-dark in the evenings I could go with gav on walks. but there are no sidewalks where we live and I don't want to walk in the parking lot, so I guess we could drive to a park... but that seems like a lot of effort....

Any thoughts, suggestions??? Thanks!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

1 Away...

Posted By: Leah

I have been blogging about this pending giveaway for idk... MONTHS! so there is only one more follower until... it's official. I said I'd have a giveaway when I have 25 followers on my blog and I have 24 right now. I feel like the boy who cried wolf and by the time it's really time for my giveaway no one will listen lol. PS I have started following three amazing new blogs this week. There is seriously a blog on every possible interest. Love it! So here it is again... GIVEAWAY Info! OH! so what the giveaway will be for, yeah, that's still up in the air. I'll have a choice of 2 things and pictures of each. Probably one will be an organza/chiffon pin and the other hair clip(s).

Pick one or all three and you can be entered three times!

1- Simply follow my blog (how easy is that?) AND comment on your favorite thing from my ShopLeah store in the comments section of this blog.

2- Follow my blog (I'm trying to get followers, lol!) and then in YOUR blog, post something about me! :) then in the comments section anywhere on my blog, send the link. In your blog feel free to write anything you would like... from your favorite product, to how awesome I am... it's up to you!

3- Follow my blog (obviously) and then become a fan of 'ShopLeah' on Facebook! Next, post on your YOUR or MY FB wall, your favorite thing from my ShopLeah store. Just send me a link in the comments section of this blog.

That is it! Super easy. Ok so now for the fun stuff... what I'll be giving away! It will be YOUR CHOICE of one. But one of the previously mentioned items sold, so I will be choosing a new selection. All I can say is that whatever I post, I know you would love them! (what I'll do is have an end date for everyone to follow and send me their comments by)

So encourage your friends to follow and we can get this giveaway going! I have been posting about this for months, come on you guys... :)

Monday, January 11, 2010

MFM What I'm Eatin'

Posted By: Leah
Have you heard about MFM (Meat Free Mondays)? So awesome. If you are interested in learning more, click here to go to Paul McCartney will sing you a song about not eating meat on Mondays, good stuff.

Anyhow in honor of me supporting MFM I am posting what I am having for dinner tonight! I LOVE spicy black bean burgers. omg, so delicious.

And have you gotten those Arnold flat breads yet? YUM! I don't even like Arnold bread (my parents made me eat it when I was growing up and it was the dryest, grossest sandwich ever). Anyhow this kind of bread is delicious!

oh, and I was trying to be extra fancy and I put warm hummus on it! Ok I know... sounds sick. But it was sooo good. The only other thing I threw on there was some random raw spinach (I am out of lettuce). Best meal in forever! I don't know exactly how healthy it was, but I am thinking extra super healthy. And I am so full and happy now :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

4 Away from a GIVEAWAY!

Posted By: Leah
So earlier, I talked about my awesome giveaway I will do once I have 25 followers. I had 4 followers when I posted that, then I had 13 last time I posted it in November ... now I'm up to 21 but I need 4 more!!! You KNOW you want a ShopLeah item for free, right?? first, here are the rules and how to enter up to 3 times.
Pick one or all three and you can be entered three times!

1- Simply follow my blog (how easy is that?) AND comment on your favorite thing from my ShopLeah store in the comments section of this blog.

2- Follow my blog (I'm trying to get followers, lol!) and then in YOUR blog, post something about me! :) then in the comments section anywhere on my blog, send the link. In your blog feel free to write anything you would like... from your favorite product, to how awesome I am... it's up to you!

3- Follow my blog (obviously) and then become a fan of 'ShopLeah' on Facebook! Next, post on your YOUR or MY FB wall, your favorite thing from my ShopLeah store. Just send me a link in the comments section of this blog.

That is it! Super easy. Ok so now for the fun stuff... what I'll be giving away! It will be YOUR CHOICE of one. But one of the previously mentioned items sold, so I will be choosing a new selection. All I can say is that whatever I post, I know you would love them! (what I'll do is have an end date for everyone to follow and send me their comments by)

So encourage your friends to follow and we can get this giveaway going! I have been posting about this for months, come on you guys... :)

Monday, January 4, 2010

OMG I need this for my 30th Bday.

Posted By: Leah

I am not joking when I say I must have this delivered to me on my 30th birthday (that will be in exactly 4 mos, 1 day). I have already e-mailed my mom... so she is aware. She can start saving now ($59 + $12 delivery). Greatest thing ever. Did you see the pineapple??? omg.

Ok so really, all I would need was a piece of pineapple and this for $3.99 on ebay. But not as fun.

Happy New Year- Living a Kinder Life!

Posted By: Leah
Happy New Year!
I hope everyone had a fabulous and safe new year's, I did!
I picked up this book on new years eve after hearing lots of wonderful things about it from a variety of people. I don't want to sound too corny, but I think reading this book just may have changed my life. I am not over-the-top on global issues at all, but hearing it all in my girl Alicia Silverstone's voice really makes sense to me. She has this book sooo crazy-well researched and her tone of writing is so fun! I have seen Clueless, I dont know... a thousand times hahah so I really can 'hear' Alicia. I told my sister Sarah all about this book (also an Alicia fan). She is a vegetarian and was just as shocked as I was I think to learn all the info in this book. If you have friends who are vegetarian or vegan, or if you are interested in the planet, or if you are like me and a Alicia Silverstone fan... or being healthy...I REALLY recommend you pick this book up The Kind Diet. I will blog more about how it has changed me more (I mean it's only day 4 of the year). But sometimes in life you see things or read things and *smack* it hits you like the perfect storm and everything just clicks. I think thats how it was for me.
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