Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cold Cucumber Soup, Raw Butternut Squash, and Brownies!

Wow was it hot today.  96 degrees with a heat index of 107.  Tried to walk as much as I could, considering.  Drank lots of water.  I think it's going to be the same tomorrow, but at least tomorrow is technically my "day off" but I'll be doing weights instead of cardio. Bought myself some heavier weights, thanks to Averie's post and I'm looking forward to it, although I know my muscles will be burning for a while afterwards :)

It was so hot, I needed to make something cold for dinner.  Here's my recipe for cucumber soup.

Tanya's Cold Cucumber Soup
(serves 2, medium bowls or 1 large)

2 large cucumbers, peeled & cut into chunks (you can leave in the seeds!)
3 tbsp vegan sour cream (or you could use yogurt)
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
1 tbsp dried dill plus a little extra for garnish
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

Blend all ingredients together until creamy.  Pour into bowls and top with extra dill. (If your ingredients are not cold, you may want to chill this before serving)

The other day I wanted a recipe using butternut squash, since I'd gotten one at the farmer's market.  It really wasn't big enough to put into an oven to bake and for some reason, baking/roasting squash/eggplant, etc, annoys me.  Hahaha....I don't know why.  Anyway, I found a recipe using raw butternut squash! I didn't even know you could eat it raw.....and it was really good (except next time I would use half the salt...seemed quite salty to me).  Thank you, Ani Phyo.  It's the Walnut Cranberry Squash "Rice" recipe from her book "Ani's Raw Food Kitchen". I just keep finding amazing recipes in the two books I have of hers.

BROWNIES! They have to be my absolute favorite dessert.  And last night, I just needed some.  I know they're not the healthiest dessert in the world, but I've been doing pretty well as far as that goes.  So I thought I'd splurge.  I made the Double Chocolate Brownies from Robin Robertson's "1,000 Vegan Recipes".  I used mostly spelt flour, with a little whole wheat thrown in (ran out of spelt), cut down the sugar to just under 1 cup and ended up adding a good amount of extra water.  They were really tasty.  Perhaps a tad dry, only because I used whole grain flour, but still really good and cured my craving.  Thank you, Robin!

Today was market day: watermelon, peaches, golden zucchini, shiitakes, bell peppers, tomato, herbs, lima beans, limes, cucumber, baby eggplant, sprouts, and rice.

My indoor gardens: mizuna and swiss chard!

Don't forget to enter my $40 CSN Stores gift card GIVEAWAY!!! You only have a few days left and so far, your chances are lookin' pretty darn good.

Eat smart,

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Giveaway Day! (even though I'm sick) [CLOSED]

So the night before last I started feeling that itch in my throat.  And last night was a knife was cutting into my throat. Anyway, I feel a bit better today, although I feel it moving into my nose and I was very tired today (even though I slept a ton last night).  My throat is still in some pain.....yuck.

Look, my brother sent me cool stuff (he lives in Malaysia):
(lots of cool pure chocolate stuff! And great looking coffee beans!!)

And UPS dropped off my Bob's Red Mill order on my doorstep yesterday. Yay!
(oat groats, whole wheat flour, rye flour, sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds, and hemp powder)

But, for the good news......CSN Stores offered to do another giveaway!!
So I'm giving away a $40 Gift Card to any of their amazing array of stores! (I especially love their cookware store)

Here are the rules (I believe it's US & Canada only):

Mandatory Entry:

1. Go to the CSN Stores website and tell me what you'd buy AND tell me what you do to help you get through a cold/flu more quickly (remedies, stuff to take your mind off, comfort food, etc....). Leave a comment below.

For extra entries:

2. Follow my blog publicly (Google Friend Connect, on the right hand side of the blog) & leave a comment telling me you did.

3. Follow/Like my Facebook Page and leave a comment telling me you did.(also on the right hand side of the blog)

4. Blog about this giveaway and leave me a link to your post, in a comment below.

5. Follow me on Twitter (also on right hand side of page) and leave a comment with your ID.

6. Tweet about this giveaway and leave me a direct link to your tweet (one per day, leave separate comments)

       "Win a $40 gift card to CSN Stores on @TanyaTheViolist's blog:"

Update: The giveaway ends August 5th, 2010 at noon, CST.
(make sure you leave your email address either on your comments or available via your profile)

Good luck!

What's the easiest way to add that TweetMeme button to a post??  Not to the general blog, but just to a specific post?  Do I copy the html directly into the "edit html" and then where exactly do I put it to show up in, say, the upper left hand corner of the post?

Eat smart,

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Spicy Pea Stew, Stuffed Tomatoes, and A Smoothie

I got a TON of pink-eyed peas from the farmer's market this week and last week, so I decided to go ahead and finally cook them!  Boiled them for about 1 hour.  Drain and done.

This week's market: pink-eyed peas, lima beans, baby shiitakes, peaches, nectarines, plums, fresh oregano, cucumbers, butternut squash, little eggplants, tomatoes, and bell peppers.

And that leads me to today's lunch!

Tanya's Spicy Pea Stew

1 1/2 cups cooked pink-eyed peas (or black-eyed)
1 cup strained tomatoes
1 cup corn kernels 
1 large bell pepper (any color), chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium/large tomato, chopped
1 tsp cumin
2 tbsp Creole seasoning (or a mix of cayenne & other peppers)
1 tsp salt
garlic powder & crushed red pepper flakes

Saute the onion in 1/4 cup water.  Add water as needed, so it doesn't stick.  When soft, add the celery and peppers.  Cook on medium for 2-3 minutes.  Add the corn and a little more water and cover.  Let steam for 2-3 minutes.  Add the peas and all spices, except the salt.  Stir and add the strained tomatoes.  Add in the chopped tomato and cook for another few minutes.  Just before serving, add the salt and stir.  Serve over couscous or brown rice.

I served mine over Near East couscous, as they were kind enough to send me a few boxes. I haven't had couscous in a while and it was very tasty :)

Speaking of couscous, they also sent me their Toasted Pine Nut flavored couscous, which went really well in the Sicilian Stuffed Tomatoes I made from Robin Robertson's 1,000 Vegan Recipes.

Some with a little Daiya on top, and some without:

One of the blog's I read is Mama Pea's Peas and Thank You blog.  You should check it out, especially if you have kids (her girls are so cute!).  And I've probably bookmarked a billion of her recipes by I decided I should finally make one. I made her Simple Black Beans and Corn and Millet Pudding. The only problem I had was that the millet would NOT grind up.  I still put it in, but I added in a few spoons of cornmeal to help.  Not sure why the millet wouldn't grind up in my food processor.  Maybe it would have, in the Vita-Mix?? Anyway, it was all delicious!  Now I have a ton of beans....I froze most of them :)

On to another smoothie recipe:

The "what do I call it?":

1/2 banana
1 peach, pitted
2 carrots
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup water

Blend. I think ginger might go nicely in there, but I haven't tried it yet.

Have any of you tried Stevia? I tried it (and spent a lot of money for the little container) and can't stand it.  I do love licorice flavor, but that was just toooooo much. Bleh.  I bought the powdered stevia extract.  But I also tried my mom's regular stevia powder (not extract) and still didn't like it.....I tried both in my oatmeal.  Maybe it's better in a smoothie?? Any other suggestions?

Other stuff I've eaten:

Nori rolls with Ani Phyo's "Sushi" Rice made from jicama:

My friend's eggplant dip:

Ok, that's all for today.  Glad we didn't get a tropical storm this week after all :)


LeslieLovesVeggies is giving away 2 copies of "The 30-Minute Vegan's Taste of the East" cookbook!

Look for a post Monday or Tuesday about my giveaway!!

Eat smart,

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mushroom Barley Burgers

This is going to be a short post.  Not sure why.....I've definitely been cooking. Hmmm.....perhaps I've just been making things I've already made and didn't want to re-post the same old stuff.

I bought a new cookbook the other day: Veggie Burgers Every Which Way by Lukas Volger.

So far, I've only made one burger, the Mushroom Barley burger and it was delicious!  Nice and crispy on the outside, yet soft on the inside. Just how I like 'em :) Can't wait to try more burgers. I served it with my Potato Salad Oregano.

I also made Ani Phyo's Raw Sushi "Rice" this morning, to use up my jicama.  It's really tasty....although I haven't made anything with it yet. It's waiting in the fridge for me, but I had to taste it. And I made her Chinese Chickenless Salad for lunch.  Excellent!! Both are from Ani's Raw Food Essentials.

And here's a picture of some spiralized veggies in my salad the other day:

Oh I wish I had an Excalibur Dehydrator! Hahahaha......well, maybe one day.  I don't have any room for it at all in this apartment. I keep staring at all of Ani's awesome looking raw recipes for crackers, etc....maybe I'll have to try them on the lowest oven the Fall :)

Today was my exercise day off. Only walked about 2 miles.  I just can't NOT walk on my day off.  It doesn't feel right.  Anyway, I did my weights workout tonight.  I think this workout routine is working for me. I feel pretty good.


LeslieLovesVeggies is  giving away an awesome Energizer Emergency Power Kit. Enter now!
An Opera Singer In the Kitchen is giving away a $50 CSN gift card. Enter now!

And in the next few days, I'll be doing my own CSN Stores giveaway......stay tuned!

Eat smart,

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Market goods, Pad Thai, an awesome smoothie, and some giveaways

Stuff I got at the market on Saturday: white button mushrooms, okra, basil, nectarines, blueberries, tomato, peaches, eggplant, plums, cucumbers, pink-eyed peas, and sweet peppers.

Last night, it was Thai night here.  We had our friend, Josh, over and a good time was had by all, albeit a bit spicy :)

We started off with spring rolls (celery, carrots, cucumbers and green onions, wrapped in rice paper) dipped in plum sauce (no, I didn't make the sauce....sigh.....I should have):

Then came the main course: PAD THAI.

I scoured the internet for various recipes for this...including Noelle's from OperaSingerInTheKitchen.

So this recipe is inspired by Noelle's Pad Thai recipe (thank you, Noelle).

Tanya's Spicy Pad Thai

14 oz package of wide rice noodles
1 red bell pepper, sliced in thin strips
2 carrots, sliced in thin strips
3 green onions, sliced
1 package of tofu (optional, I used preseasoned)
2 cups bean sprouts
3/4 cup soy sauce
6 tbsp sunflower butter (or any nut butter)
3 tbsp hot chili sauce (I used Sriracha) use more if you're into amazingly spicy.
1/3 cup agave
1 tbsp sesame oil (or just use water)
1/2 cup crushed peanuts (or use other if allergic)
1 lime, cut into wedges for serving

Follow directions to cook or soak noodles.  Drain and set aside.

Mix sauce: soy sauce, agave, hot chili sauce, & sunflower butter. Whisk and set aside.

Put sesame oil (or water) in large wok or saute pan.  Add 2 of the 3 chopped scallions (leave 3rd for garnish).  Heat for a few minutes.  Then add the tofu (if using), cut into small pieces.  Let them brown a bit, for about 5 minutes. Add water if it's sticking to pan.  Add the peppers and carrots (and any other vegetables you have lying around...I added yellow squash and zucchini, just make sure they're sliced in thin strips). Cover the pan and let steam for a few minutes.  Add the noodles and sauce.  Mix up well.  Throw in the bean sprouts and let cook for another 3-4 minutes.  Done.  Serve with a wedge of lime, topped with green onions and crushed peanuts. 

This recipe makes A TON!  I would say it makes at least 9-10 good sized portions, so you WILL have leftovers.  Cut the noodle amount in half, if you want less. 

I made the most amazing smoothie yesterday!  It's a bit high calorie, but sometimes you just need a sweet snack :)

Tanya's Choco-Banana drink:

1 banana
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 tbsp agave
1+ tsp cinnamon 
1/2 cup almond milk (unsweetened)
4 ice cubes

Blend in your Vita-Mix! It's a bit more on the thin side. If you like it more "frosty"ish, use frozen bananas and 1 cup of almond milk.

A couple of giveaways:

Averie at LoveVeggiesAndYoga is giving away a $100 CSN shopping spree!! I so want that :)

LeslieLovesVeggies is giving away some great coffee from Larry's Beans.  (I'm an addict and I want them!)

Question of the day:

How do you clean your Vita-Mix?  Do you put soap and warm water and run it on high?  Do you just rinse it out with hot water?  Do you scrub it down with a sponge??

Eat smart,

Friday, July 16, 2010

Our music and a restaurant review I forgot about.

Since my husband and I recently recorded some music, I thought I'd post the two "videos".  Both are music my husband wrote for his mother's memorial concert in 2008. (in case any of you are interested in this kind of music.....) Thought I'd test out the new video option on blogger :)

The first is called Postlude (I am playing the solo viola part while my husband is playing ALL the rest):

The second is the Intermezzo (two violas):

And now for that review.  I forgot to include it in my Northampton post.  On our last day, we thought we'd walk around town and get some breakfast before heading out.  Stopped into the Haymarket Cafe.  BAD CHOICE.  I ordered a large coffee with soymilk and their oatmeal without the dairy stuff on the side.  The woman asked if I was sitting upstairs or down.......I pointed to my husband and said, "We're sitting here.".  And she said...."ok, upstairs".  We walked in off the street and I hadn't seen any stairs anywhere, so I assumed we were downstairs, but that's ok.  I pointed that out, and she got nasty and said "I was only asking a question" in a really mean tone.  Ok, fine.  Got upstairs is street level, and downstairs is, well, down the hidden stairs in the back.  I stood there for a while waiting for my coffee. Nothing.  So I assumed maybe it would just come out with my food.  I sat down with my husband.  We waited.  Meanwhile, I saw tons of people coming in and being handed coffee.  (at this point, I REALLY wanted my coffee already) I thought it was kind of weird that they'd wait to give you your coffee with your food.  We waited and waited. My husband even went downstairs to ask about the food (it seemed to take forever).  Finally our food came up (from downstairs....perhaps they were irritated that we were sitting upstairs when we ordered food??) about 20 minutes later.  I asked where my coffee was and the woman said I should've gotten it at the counter.  JEEZ!!!!  So my husband went up to the counter to retrieve my coffee and they claimed they had put it on the counter for me when I ordered! That was just a plain lie, because I stood there for at least 2 minutes after I paid, and nothing ever showed up on the counter and nobody handed me a coffee.  So anyway, I ate fast, and left. So there you have review in a large nutshell :)

Giveaway: Vegan Crunk is giving away SoapNuts!! (You gotta check these out)

Eat smart,

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Exercise, Vegetable Coulis, Creamers, and other stuff

So I logged 7 3/4 miles walking today.  I've been trying to get in at least 5 miles a day.  It's spread apart of course, in 2,3, or even 4 parts. Although this morning I got a good 4 mile walk in just going to and from Borders Books, after I dropped off my husband at his recording session.  Felt good.

I've seen various reports saying that if you do the same exercise everyday, it won't do much, or it'll "stop" working.  I'm not sure what that means.  They tell you to vary your exercise routine.  I decided to take two days off per week of walking.  And on those two days I do weights (arms, shoulders, etc).  I think that's a pretty good routine so far.  But really, if I just keep walking everyday for 5-7 miles a day, will I not lose weight anymore?  Do I need to do a different form of cardio?? What are your thoughts?

By the way, I didn't gain any weight on our 3+ week trip.  Although I didn't lose any either.  Tried to keep walking a lot.  We did try a bunch of great vegan restaurants, including vegan cupcakes and other baked goods. Guess that's why I assumed I would've gained weight.

I made spaghetti squash the other day, and topped it with a vegetable coulis I made in my Vita-Mix.  Is it possible to eat too much fiber? I think I should call this sauce, FIBER COULIS :)

Veggie Coulis (very concentrated):

1 tomato
1 red pepper
1 cup broccoli pieces
1 pint shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup nooch
2 cups strained/pureed tomatoes (I use Pomi or Bionaturae)
1/2 onion
1 cup kale
1/2 cup red wine
oregano, garlic, black pepper, salt

Blend in VitaMix: everything but wine
Pour into a pot and turn heat on medium.  Add wine to thin.  You may at this point add more water/wine to thin it out even more.  It's VERY thick!  For leftovers, I've been adding even more strained tomatoes to it, because it's just too thick and fiber dense.  So perhaps this is more of a concentrated coulis :) Sever over pasta, potatoes, grains, or spaghetti squash.

I think when we got back home, we went back to our fiber rich foods too fast.  Whole grains, lots of vegetables, etc....but we feel better now that we're back on our routine.

Nori rolls I made with the Sunflower Seed Falafel:

Tonight's version of my Eggplant Parmesanless:

Creamers. Why do I always have a problem with creamers?  For a long time I used Silk's Original Soy creamer.  I loved it in my coffee.  But recently, more often than not, they go bad really quickly, or they're bad right out of the container. Why is that? Has anyone else had this problem? I had tried my almond milk in my coffee, but didn't like it.  I did however try the Almond Breeze unsweetened in my coffee and it's not bad. I can deal with that.  Soy milk is another story.  Sometimes it curdles, sometimes it doesn't. I don't get it.  I think if you pour your coffee fast into the soymilk, while stirring, you're ok.  If it's done very slowly, or if you add the soymilk to your coffee after the coffee's already in your mug, you're out of luck.  But of course it's not always the same effect.  Grrrrrr. Does this aggravate anyone else? Or is it just me?  I found MimicCreme.  I've tested it out and it's pretty good!  I realize now (after this morning's coffee) that you really should stir it into your coffee. Just because it's at the bottom of your cup when your coffee goes in, doesn't mean it will mix itself in. But I like it.  Can't find it anywhere locally unfortunately. (you can order it online) I also like it because it's NOT soy, it's made with almonds and cashews.

Here's what I don't like....errr....I mean what else I don't like. SoyGo.  I ordered a bag of it online.  It's powder.  I was hoping....just would be better than that awful old non-dairy crappy powder that all the hotels and truck stops have. It's not.  It doesn't mix in.  It's all grainy and powdery in your coffee. Bleh.  And since I'm not going to use anymore, I should give it away, don't you think?  I'll have to come up with a giveaway to include it in soon.

Update: I've been in contact with the people from SoyGo recently and they sent me a new bag of creamers.  I've been testing it out and will continue to test it in different places and ways.  I will let you know the outcome! The folks there have been very nice and very patient with me :)

If you have any other suggestions for creamers, at home, and on the road, please PLEASE let me know!!

For a list of other great vegan blogs, click here.

Eat smart,

Monday, July 12, 2010

I got a VITAMIX!!!!

So here I was......wandering into Bed Bath and Beyond to pick up a 50% off Aerogarden (yes, it's my third one) and what do I see out of the corner of my eye????  A VITAMIX! Sitting on the clearance rack.  I thought it couldn't way....just when I had decided to go for a smaller blender and buy a big fancy food processor.....yup, there it was.  Sideways.....piled on top of other items.  I thought to myself, "Oh no! The 20% off coupons I have with me say NO VITAMIX!!!" So I snatched it up and brought it immediately to the customer service counter to see if they could hold it.  Sure enough, they said they could, for 24 hours.  I went and picked up my Aerogarden, and asked at the cashier if you can use a 20% off coupon even if it says you can't use it on that brand. You know what her answer was??  You can use it on anything. ANYTHING!  So I   pushed my cart all the way over to the customer service desk and asked to check out there, with my Vitamix. It was on clearance for $319.99! AND I used the 20% off coupon, so I got it for around $256!!!  OMG! Yes, it's the 4500, but that's ok.  It's still a Vitamix :)

Then of course, I brought it home thinking "I'm sure it won't work.  That's probably why someone brought it back."  I tested it.....3 times. It works!

Test one: cleaned it out with warm water and soap, as per instructions.

Test two: green smoothie

1 cup cold filtered water
1/2 apple, cored
~3/4 cup broccoli florets
~2 oz spinach
1/2 carrot, sliced
BLEND. Much better after you put it in the fridge and drink it cold.

Test three: fruit smoothie

1 banana, in chunks
1 cup blueberries
1/2 apple, cored
4 large ice cubes
BLEND. Really good!

Was so excited to share this great news with you guys! I've wanted one of these forever and didn't think I'd ever be able to afford one.

Our first farmer's market back home: baby okra(I knew the season would come), blueberries, nectarines, peaches, cucumber, plums, speckled butter beans, yellow squash, bell peppers, baby pink eggplant, & baby shiitakes.

Stuff I made recently:

"Tuna" salad sandwich out of the raw falafel recipe.  I just added celery, onions, and dill! So tasty:

Same thing, but without the celery and onions, stuffed in a pepper:

My Indian curry dish, with lots of veggies (no potatoes or chickpeas this time):

Cold barley salad (cabbage, broccoli slaw, red pepper, celery, cucumber, & balsamic vinegar, salt, garlic):

Isn't she pretty??? (see below)

Check out LeslieLovesVeggies for a Pomi tomato giveaway!! I love that stuff :)
MamaPea is giving away a chance to win a cookbook! (can't turn THAT down)

Ok, I believe that's it for today's post.

Eat smart,


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