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Archive for the ‘kale’ Category

Working on the weekends isn’t too bad when the days are mellow and the weather is mediocre (I swear I heard the phrase “June gloom” six hundred and fifty three times yesterday).  Having interesting patients helps too…

My shift flew by and as 7 pm approached I texted dinner plans to Kyle. 

me: Veggie Grill take-away tonight?

kyle: yes.  what do you want?

me: Baja Fiesta salad, add chik’n, dressing on the side

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Done and done.

I got this same order last time so I knew it would hit the spot. 

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This time I had my camera to take photos of my Baja Fiesta salad at home (as opposed to my cell phone for sub-par pics).

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Chopped romaine, papaya, avocado, roasted corn salsa, quinoa, cucumber, cilantro, tortilla strips and a ginger-papaya vinaigrette (plus the chillin’ chickin’ I added on).

I love their ginger papaya vinaigrette, but I also squeezed some lime juice in for an acidic punch.  It complements the avocado.  :)  

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I also dumped some extra quinoa on top because I like carbs

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Obviously none of these tweaks were necessary, and getting the salad how it’s intended in the restaurant is perfectly delicious.  I’m just unable to leave anything be once it enters the kitchen.  Cookbook recipes included.  Anyone else have this problem?

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Kyle got the All Hail Kale salad, which is one I’ve been eyeing for some time now.   I’m glad he got it so I could scope out how it looks. 

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It has marinated kale and red cabbage, roasted corn salsa, agave-roasted walnuts with a ginger-papaya vinaigrette (you can add blackened chickin’ or tempeh for extra).  Kyle got it with blackened chickin’ and a side of sweetheart fries (aka sweet potato fries).

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He said it was really good.  In fact, he was talking about it all night…so I’m not sure what he was expecting, but clearly it was way better than he was anticipating.  I don’t think I need to say how the fries were.  They were obviously outstanding. 

The Veggie Grill is definitely becoming a staple take-away in our lives.  It’s such an easy option – fast and fresh – plus I adore that they are bringing veg-friendly fast food to the masses.  I will support that.  They recently opened a new restaurant in The Grove, too.  Expand and dominate a la Starbucks!  Now if only they would open up their next location on the I-5. 

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After dinner I had a lot lot lot of dessert.  I lost track of the number of rice cakes I had, but I know that the peanut butter jar was left feeling significantly ravaged. 

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A few months ago my parents went to this restaurant in Newport Beach.  And when they told me about it, I was actually kinda jealous…until I found out a Santa Monica location was coming soon.  Hooray! 

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Kyle and I went to celebrate him being done with finals.  One year down!  Since the weather was gorgeous, we walked to Santa Monica Place.

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The menu has a variety of options, from vegan to meat courses.  They even indicate which items are vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free to assist the diner.  Also, the staff is super knowledgeable about why certain dishes aren’t vegan (the panang curry has shrimp paste that can’t be left out).  And they are able to help you make certain non-vegan dishes animal-free…which is what I did.

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Tuscan Kale Salad made vegan.  But first we had shared some starters.

Kyle and I both brought our appetites, so we got two different appetizers.

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This is the Herb Hummus with pita bread, tomato, onion & feta.  It was savory and delicious.  I navigated my way around the feta and olives, but hogged all the tomato and cucumber which were marinated to perfection. 

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The second app we chose was the Shiitake & Tofu Lettuce Cups with ginger, cashew, and toasted garlic. 

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If you’re familiar with P.F. Chang’s version of this dish, you know taste-wise what we’re dealing with.  Now imagine all that flavor, but with fresh, local produce.  It was stellar.  All of it.  Even the lettuce was amazing.  I could easily order twenty-four plates of these as my entree. 

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Pretty cool that we could watch them in the kitchen the entire time. 

Foodie that I am, I scoped out the menu before we arrived.  But, true to myself, I changed my order six more times before finally choosing the Tuscan Kale Salad.  Despite the fact that there were several vegan items on the menu, the kale caught my eye.  I asked if they could leave the parmesan off and add tofu for some extra oomph.  They were perfectly happy to oblige and voila!

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Look at this beauty!!

The salad was topped with a yummy lemon based dressing and breadcrumbs.  So good.  Also, there was quite a bit of tofu, which was totally awesome. 

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Kyle got the Roasted Chicken with basmati rice, English peas, and Indian spices. 

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He moaned (literally moaned) out loud the entire time he was eating it and swore it was the best chicken he has ever had.  And he repeated this to me multiple times.  Aside from the perfect preparation of the chicken, he couldn’t get over how flavorful the rice was.  He thinks the spices were chimichurri, which calls to mind one of the dishes I miss most from NYC

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Kyle’s beer was from Weed, a tiny town we passed on our I-5 drive up to P-town.  I tried a sip and loved it.  I’m picky with my beers, and this had delish flavors with no bitter aftertaste. 

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As you can see, the restaurant is quite spacious.  I love the open feel with the views of the staff prepping the food and the chefs cooking.  It also felt down to earth and casual without feeling cheap.  It is definitely going to be a new favorite spot. 

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What’s especially cool is how much they support local farms and emphasize the produce in their cooking.  On the wall in the back of the restaurant is a list of their favorites, along with the items they purchase from them. 

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Oh, hey there Alana…methinks I’m gonna have to seek out this roasting coffee soon.  All in all, I loved True Food Kitchen.  I’m planning on returning frequently. 

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I didn’t get a lunch sleep break last night because there was a code on the unit right when my break should have been.  Clearly a patient’s life trumps my snooze time, so I just kept powering through the night sans rest.  It was a long code (holy chest compressions batman!) and the third of the night in the hospital, but it ended with a beating heart and oxygenated blood, and that’s all you can hope for, right?  Right. 

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I had a delicious dinner packed up.

The salad had spinach, sprouts, farro (love!), hummus, bell peppers and carrots.  And it was drowned in Bragg’s liquid aminos as well.

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I’m so glad I was finally able to find farro in stores.  I had a serious search party on the lookout for this grain!  After trying it in my Tender Greens salad I fell in love and wanted to make it for myself. 

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I managed to get organic farro by Montebello at Whole Foods.  It resembles wheatberries or barley in it’s uncooked form.  I made it in the rice cooker, just to see how it would work. 

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It made it a bit more gummy than I’d imagine it would be if cooking it the traditional way, but I don’t mind the sticky factor.  It’s just so dang chewy!  I love it. 

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I can’t wait to use it in more recipes.  The side snacks in my “lunch” were pretty much the same old same old (read: not so thrilling to blog about), but still great in my eyes (apples, carrots, and more hummus). 

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These kale krunch chips were a new treat for me though. 

Kale in your kitchen is a relatively new company, and they offered to send me a sample of each of their flavors – original and spicy – to try out.

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They make each batch of kale krunch by hand with only 8 whole food ingredients.  Nothing is engineered or processed, and there are no chemicals, flavor enhancers, generic "spices", or preservatives.  In other words, nothing artificial, just whole food.  They are organic, vegan, soy and gluten-free, and gently dehydrated (not cooked) in order to retain the raw food enzymes.

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Ingredients: Organic Kale, Organic Red Bell Pepper, Organic Fresh-pressed Lemon Juice, Non-GMO Nutritional Yeast, Organic Cashews, Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Organic Red Chili Pepper, Organic Garlic, and Pink Sea Salt

When I first tried them, I thought they were good, but a bit on the lemony side.  They didn’t really wow me, but next thing I knew, they were almost gone!  Addicting little buggers.  Needless to say, I’m excited to try out the spicy flavor next.  When it comes to savory snacks, it can be hard to find nutrient dense options that are both flavorful and healthy.  Most of my favorite whole foods snacks – like Larabars – fit the bill in the sweet department, but when it comes to savory things you can munch on throughout the day, they’re more difficult to find.  I have to hand it to Kale in Your Kitchen, they definitely accomplished the feat! 

Speaking of Larabars

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Would you like to win an entire box?   I’m talking about a box of 16 delicious bars all for you!

What if I told you, you could pick the flavor, too?  That got your interest huh?

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My favorite changes all the time, but at the moment it is chocolate chip cookie dough.  It’s one of the new flavors, and it’s heavenly.  I’m also a big fan of the cashew cookie, peanut butter cookie, and coconut cream pie

Since becoming vegan, Larabars have been a staple in my life.  Not just because they are made form pure, simple, whole foods, but because they are delicious.  Simply put, they are the most amazing on-the-go option, whether you are vegan or not, they are hard not to drool over.  If you’ve never tried one, you’re missing out (but that’s where this giveaway comes into play…).

To win your very own box of Larabars:

1) Comment below telling me which flavor is your favorite (or which you’d like to try).

2) Tweet about this giveaway, mentioning @elisehippie and @larabar (then comment again to tell me you tweeted).

3) And just for sh!ts and giggles, I’ll give you a third entry if you tell me a new flavor combo that you think would be good (not that Larabar needs any help in this department). 

You have until Monday (4/11/11) at midnight to enter.  I’ll randomly choose a winner and announce it the following day (Tuesday, April 12th). 

Ready set go!

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Vegas may be a blast, but in my experience, the aftermath is enough to turn you off of the place for at least the next few months.  I feel like the door hit me on the way out…and by hit me, I mean knocked me on my a$$.

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Not one to dwell on the past, I started Monday fresh and clean.  No point in wallowing in the pits of (booze-infused) despair.

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Oatmeal with apples, blueberries, and Sunbutter was the perfect morning meal to get my system back on track.

I even went for a run, which felt friggin’ great.  Whenever I take a few days off, it feels so excellent once my feet hit the pavement again.  I felt like I was flying high, even though it was only a couple of miles around the neighb.

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My lunch was thai inspired.

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After last week’s debut of Tropical Traditions’ coconut peanut butter, several readers commented that it would make an ideal ingredient for thai flavored peanut sauces.  I thought this was brilliant and ever since the recipe has been in the back of my mind.

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All I did was blanch kale and carrots and then add them to these rice noodles.

For the sauce, I mixed 1/4 cup coconut peanut butter, 3 tbsp Bragg’s liquid aminos, 1 tsp powdered ginger, and a splash of hot sauce.

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I had seconds because it was THAT good.  Really really good. If you want some extra heat, you can add in extra hot sauce, but I thought it was brilliant as is.

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Before heading in to my night shift I snacked on some pretzels, roasted salty almonds, chocolate covered almonds, and raisins.

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Naturally, a 12 hour shift required caffeine injected into my face.

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Froth, party of one.

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And with that, I was back in action.  It’s amazing how a shower and a few clean meals can bring you back from the dead in just 24 hours.

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So…yeah or nay?

The combo of daylight savings and working night shifts allows for food photography with much improved lighting.  At least that’s the silver lining I’m choosing to embrace (as opposed to the fact that I lost an hour and then had to pull an all nighter).  

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If I had pendant lighting in the kitchen, this wouldn’t be an issue, but I don’t.  As a result, my late night food pics are sometimes lacking.  No matter what camera settings I use, there’s no substitute for natural sunlight. 

So.  Yeah.  About that night shift…

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This So-Yah Creamy Coconut Curry Tofu Shirataki Fettucine was another Expo West discovery. 

Many of you guys may be familiar with House Foods’ Shirataki noodles.  So-Yah is the latest line of products from House Foods which includes tv dinners packaged dishes made with these tofu noodles and various sauces.  This flavor happens to use the fettuccine variety with a coconut-based curry sauce.  Unlike a typical TV dinner, House Foods’ meals aren’t frozen, nor are they kept in the fridge.

A few things come to mind when I hear the phrase “stable for storage at room temperature.”  (1) What a perfect ready-to-eat product to have on stand by; (2) This product has amazing potential to get lost in the depths of my pantry; (3) This product must have a sh!t ton of additives in it to stay edible without being refrigerated. 

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When I was getting ready to pack up for Sunday’s night shift I was still pretty disorganized.  All my Expo swag was strewn about the living room…and I had no intention of straightening things up before I left for work either.  Hence the above meal choice.  It was at the top of the freebie mound, and simple as that, dinner was served.  Easy peasy.  Despite my reservations about the lengthy list of ingredients, I can’t deny the fact that it sounded good.  And what can I say, free is free.

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Thank goodness the container is only one serving.  That probably would have been a deal breaker.  However, the environmentally conscious hippie in me really isn’t a fan of this packaging and for this reason, I can safely say I won’t buy So-Yah on my own.

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Prep is virtually nonexistent.  All you have to do is peel back the lid and pop it in the micro. 

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However, I didn’t like the idea of a veg-less dinner (or microwaving that plastic container), so I added some fiber by massaging kale and then adding the So-Yah noodles on top.

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It’s a decent way to get greens while still putting VERY little effort into cooking. 

Confession: Growing up I ate very healthy food.  My mom made us home-cooked dinners and packed all our school lunches without processed crap.  I loved everything from oatmeal to salads, so naturally I thought nothing of it.  BUT.  There was a brief phase in my pre-teen years where Spaghetti-O’s made up a good 75% of my diet.  Ok maybe not that much, but put it this way, if my hometown had homeless people, they would’ve thought they hit the jackpot after rummaging through our trash. 

Why am I sharing this with you?  [Good question]  Filter I have not. 

After tasting my So-Yah meal, I was instantly reminded of my Spaghetti-O days.  House Foods’ ready-to-go noodle dishes are like the natural foods version of Spaghetti-O’s.  If Campbell’s made a “healthy” dish, it would probably look and taste something like this.  The curry noodles dyed my fork just like the canned soups and it’s sauce had that same creepy ability to defy the laws of physics with it’s unnatural cohesion. 

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And yet, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like it.  It was delicious in spite of it’s non-food-like appearance (ok that was a bit harsh, it is food).  What I especially liked was that the flavors weren’t bland or muted down for the generic palate.  I was sweating and coughing as I ate it (and I can handle spice!).  For the record, I consider myself a 3.5 (out of 5) on the spice scale and this was a 4.5 at times, even with the kale to break up the bites of noodles. 

To quickly summary my main thoughts:

Negatives (nays)

  • Sodium content (850 mg is practically half the recommended daily allowance…in one dish?!?)
  • Extra ingredients (although the package says “no preservatives,” in order to be shelf stable, there are more additives on the label than I like…TOFU SHIRATAKI NOODLE [WATER, TOFU(WATER, SOYBEANS, CALCIUM SULFATE, GLUCONO DELTA LACTONE), YAM FLOUR, CALCIUM HYDROXIDE], WATER, COCONUT CREAM [COCONUT EXTRACT, WATER, NATURAL STABILIZERS (XANTHAN GUM, CARRAGEENAN, AND GUAR GUM)], TOMATO PASTE, PREPARED GARBANZO BEANS (WATER, CARBANZO BEANS, SALT), RED PEPPER, CARROTS, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF THE FOLLOWING INGREDIENTS: ONIONS, CORNSTARCH, SUGAR, CURRY POWDER (CORIANDER, TURMERIC, CUMIN, CITRUS PEEL, LICORICE ROOT, AJOWAN CARAWAY, SPICES), VINEGAR, GARLIC, SALT, GINGER, YEAST EXTRACT, MALTODEXTRIN, CAYENNE PEPPER ALLERGEN INFORMATION: CONTAINS SOY GLUTEN FREE)
  • Overly processed (this relates to the above point, but regular readers know I try to avoid food that’s not real)
  • Plastic container (not eco-friendly, not good for food storage, no thanks)

Positives (yeahs)

  • Storage (it’s nice to have a pantry item that doesn’t use up valuable fridge/freezer space)
  • Prep (it’s literally ready to eat in 90 seconds)
  • Gluten free (for those who have this dietary concern, So-Yah is a wheat free noodle option)
  • Low calorie (I debated listing this as a positive, but the fact that obesity is a national epidemic makes the meal’s 200 calories seem like a pro in the grand scheme of things…even if I personally don’t look for low calorie foods, others may find this info useful)
  • Taste (I liked the flavor of the sauce)
  • Veg friendly (similar to the low calorie stat, the fact that pre-packaged vegetarian meals are becoming more and more available shows a step in the right direction for the health of our nation)
  • Healthy (there are worse thing to have in your pantry – ie Spaghetti O’s)

All things considered: Yummy – yeah.  Nutritious – meh.  Would I buy it again – nay.

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The rest of my work eats included a gala and mini Larabar.  It was the new(ish) Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavor.  Do I even need to review this bar?  I mean really…it’s chocolate, nuts, and dates.  It was superb. 

Fortunately work went by quickly because I was in a zombie state (I’m blaming it on daylight savings) and I returned home to get some shut eye.  

Now, since I shared my dirty little secret embarrassing Spaghetti O’s phase, it’s only fair that you tell me about your own favorite unhealthy packaged eats.  [Either as a kid or now]  Lemme hear it.  What did you love that was canned or out of a box?  I was always jealous of classmates that had cool things like Lunchables, which seems so hilarious now.  One thing I do remember was at the end of the school year when our teachers returned our (unused) emergency earthquake packs to us, it had stickers and a note from my mom in it as well as gushers and fruit roll ups and the likes.  Seeing that bag was like Christmas morning (although now that I think about it, we still never got to eat any of the stuff in it).  I wonder if my mom used the same bag year after year?  Hmmm…

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I haven’t had very many interesting things to share.  The weather went from shorts and tank-top temperatures to bundle in layers degrees.  Don’t you gauge the season by outfits, too?

I still fit a 4 mile run in yesterday between stuffing my face with brownies.

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One, two, buckle my shoe unbuckle my belt…

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Okay, okay, I didn’t JUST have brownies (as if you’d judge me either way).

I had a huge bowl of nearly-spilling-over-the-edge oatmeal.

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  • 1 cup whole rolled oats
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • dash of cinnamon
  • drip of NuNaturals’ vanilla stevia

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Perfection

My evening was uneventful.  Kyle and his waffle team are working furiously on their big presentation this week, so I was left to my own devices for the entire day.  Amazingly, I got very little accomplished, unless you count clearing out the DVR.

Dinner was simple.

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Sweet potato stuffed with hummus (a new flavor!) with a steamed kale and carrot salad and falafel crumbled on top.

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One half of the sweet tater had the last bit of the old Sabra flavor (roasted pinenut), while the other side had the new kind (spinach and artichoke).

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This was confusing for my taste buds.  It really didn’t have enough chickpea or tahini flavor going on and for me, it was mostly like a spinach artichoke dip.  It was good, but shouldn’t be categorized as a hummus.  Make no mistake, I enjoyed it thoroughly (and definitely added heaps more after taking the photo).

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For dessert, I opted to nix the brownies (lest I OD in under 24 hours), and chose a new-to-me Clif MOJO.

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Sweet & Salty Trail Mix Bar…mmmm…

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These bars are perfect in satisfying either kind of craving – salty AND sweet.  The crushed pieces of pretzels and mini butterscotch chips are drool inducing.  Try as I might to slowly savor the bar, I still scarfed it in under a minute.

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I may have to attempt a home-made replication of this soon.  It was friggin’ awesome.

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After dessert, I packed up my work food for the day and started settling into my PM routine.

Work was work.

Jillian-ed it up with The Shred at 4:30 am then broke the fast with coffee and an apple.

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Work breakfast was oats.  Nothing too fancy, just strawberries & cinnamon.

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My main course for lunch was steamed kale topped with spaghetti squash and vegan Field Roast (and subsequently doused in Bragg’s liquid aminos).

Oops, I still owe you all that Field Roast review, huh?  Ok, I’ll get on that 🙂

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Don’t tell Kyle, but me and Nana are starting to have an affair.  This is my 3rd in a week.  😉  Ginger is one of the best flavors.

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Whoever is the grandchild of “Nana” is SO effing lucky.  These cookies are out of control.  I’ve tried every flavor and they are all perfect.  Chewy, gooey, and melt in your mouth sweet.

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Best of all they don’t shoot your blood glucose through the roof.  Always a plus.  My only complaint is that the serving size is 1/2 a cookie.  Because it’s BS to think that anyone could eat half of one of these babies and call it a day.  I dare you.

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The rest of the snack pack included raw cauliflower and carrots with Sabra hummus, two apples, and mucho candied ginger.

I have to share a photo that I took on my lunch break (with my phone’s camera) because, well, you’ll see…

I’m sorry about the quality (my blackberry is certainly no iPhone) and the odd angle (I was trying to be semi-incognito), but as you can see here, some mighty fine characters hang around the hospital.  Allow me to draw attention to his plastic gold stunna shades, his ghetto phabulous chain necklace, and his beach blanket (a pile of stripped clothes).  The best part of all, however, which is sadly not caught on film, is that this was mid-exercise.  Mid-crunches, to be specific.  Let me tell you, the guy had spectators.  It was a scene.  Anyway.  I thought you may enjoy it.  It definitely made my lunch break that much more entertaining.

When I got home I did some damage to the brownies and eventually contemplated dinner.  More on that later…

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Kale is the new spinach

Anyone see the latest Modern Family?  Well, whether you did or didn’t, you’ll be happy to know that veg friendly foods are getting major shout-outs on sitcom TV as of late.  In addition to the aforementioned episode highlighting kae as the new “it” green leafy veggie, a few weeks ago seitan was featured on Parenthood.  Hooray for making vegan cuisine more mainstream!!

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One giant leap for vegankind…

On that note, I finally got around to making a dish I’d been toying with brainstorming for a few months (yes, months).

Vegan Creamed Kale

Ingredients:

  • kale, 4-6 big leaves
  • 1/4 cup soaked cashews
  • 2 tbsp honey mustard
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 tbsp garlic salt (more or less to taste)
  • 1 tbsp onion powder

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Directions:

Rinse and drain soaked cashews and combine with all other ingredients in a food processor.

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Pulse until smooth.

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Taste test 🙂

Sautee kale in a pan with a glug of EVOO.

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While a “glug” may not seem a technical instruction, it’s not rocket science.  Just add the kale, cover with a lid, and let the steam do most of the work.

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Steamayyyy.

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Once the kale starts to get a little wilty, pour in the cashew sauce.

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Fold the sauce into the kale so the leaves all get evenly coated.

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Let it simmer for another few minutes until the sauce heats up and starts thickening.  And voila!  Creamed spinach kale.

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I served mine up alongside a big heap of fresh-from-the-rice-cooker quinoa

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And then I mixed it all together.

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Holy. BLEEP.

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I’m pretty sure this is the best recipe I’ve made to date.  How is it that cashews make the most insanely simple concept so freakin’ fantastic?  This tasted like a creamy, warm-your-belly, comfort dish.

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I am definitely bookmarking this one for future Thanksgiving and/or Christmas dinners because I know everyone will love it – vegans, carnivores, even my picky little sister who finds some ingredient she doesn’t like in every recipe on earth (sorry bee, you know it’s true!). 

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I had seconds (duh) and then added the last of the quinoa to the drippy drops of sauce left in the food processor so as not to waste even a nanogram of cashew cream. 

If there weren’t the risk of slicing off my tongue I would have licked the entire blade clean too.  Kyle always jokes that I am like a cat because I lick EVERY inch of food clean on my plate/utensil.  What can I say?  I don’t like waste like food.  🙂

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