Archive for the ‘pumpkin’ Category

I’ve seen this game going around, and since I’m a fan of such activities, I’m going to give it a go too!

A is for Apple, what’s your favorite variety?


Galaaaaa.  Can’t you tell by their unwavering presence in my daily eats?  I have two a day minimum.  My record is over a dozen in one day.  Just as between meal snacks, mind you.  Yes, I like apples.  A.  Lot.

B is for Bread, regardless of nutrition, calories, or whole grains what is your favorite type to have a nice big piece of?


Well, whole grain (specifically whole wheat) is my all time favorite.  However, I am partial to anything that’s freshly baked.  Being in Europe, that meant baguettes around the clock.


Recently I’ve been all over Whole Foods’ pretzel baguettes though.  Have you seen these heavenly creations? 


They are TO DIE FOR. 


If you like pretzels and soft chewy bread, you must tackle your nearest Whole Foods store manager and beg them to start getting these goods. 


[They are in the baked foods section where you buy individual muffins, rolls, bagels, etc.]


With hummus, with peanut butter, with nothing at all…I know for a fact, that I could live on bread alone.  As you can see, I’ve had quite a few loaves. 

C is for Cereal what is your favorite kind currently? (just one)

Are you kidding me?  Seriously, didn’t I just discuss this.  Picking one, and only one, is like my personal Sophie’s Choice.  [FYI, I’ve never even seen that movie, but it’s so often referenced, I’m guessing the struggle I face with this question is very similar to her own struggle]


Three Sisters Graham Crackerz are my current numba one stunnaz. 

D is for Doughnuts, you might not currently be eating them but what kind do you fancy?

When we were little we used to get doughnuts after church and I always chose the old fashioned kind with maple glaze.  Kyle thinks I’m a freak for liking that kind, but the traditional ones aren’t appealing to me at all. 

E is for Eggs, how would you like yours prepared?

As you guys know, I rarely rarely rarely eat eggs, but while in Spain, I couldn’t turn down my all time favorite meal…


I basically lived on tortilla espanola when I studied abroad in Barcelona, so I relished the opportunity to enjoy Spain’s finest cuisine.

F is for Fat Free, what is your favorite fat free product?

It’s kinda hard to think of products like this.  I know I like skim products, but I don’t know how to sort them in my mind by their fat content.  I’m thinking greek yogurt is the only thing officially designated “fat free” in our fridge.  But I like fruit and veggies and I know (most of) those are fat free too, right? 


Stonyfield Oikos organic Greek yogurt and Bob’s Red Mill Apple Blueberry granola.  If you’re wondering about the lap photo it was an on-the-go meal. 

G is for Groceries, where do you purchase yours?

Whole Foods.  No ifs, ands, or buts.


H is for Hot Beverages, what is your favorite hot drink?

Do you really have to ask? 



I is for Ice Cream, pick a favorite flavor and add a fun topping.

Anything with chocolate…topped with anything else chocolate-y. 

J is for Jams or Jellies, do you eat them, and if so what kind and flavor?

I pretty much only eat jam in PB&J sandos…and I like almost any berry flavor.  Strawbeezies, blackbizzles, and raspberries are the best of the best.  My mom makes a killer plum jam though (tutorial here).


K is for Kashi, name your favorite Kashi product?

I can’t really recall the last Kashi product I bought.  I think they have some pretty bombass cereal.  Not a big fan of their bars, though. 

L is for Lunch, what was yours today?


Hugh Jass salad, apple, Equal Exchange organic extra dark chocolate, & candied ginger.  [I eat the chocolate with the candied ginger – it seriously rocks]


Plus Sabra hummus and the bestest tortilla around.  I’m talking about Alvarado Street’s sprouted tortillas, yo!


Were you wondering about that salad I mentioned above?  It was legit.  I swear, there’s no such thing as a bad salad once the ingredient list gets longer than five things…the more the merrier, fasho.  The lettuce was fancy, and had mega organic baby greens including normal things like red and green romaine and crazy things like oak leaf, lollo rosa, tango, organic red and green chard, organic mizuna, organic arugula, organic frisée, and organic radicchio.  Earthbound Farms has really stepped up their products. 


Aside from the lettuce, there was green bell pepper, carrots, corn, tomato, and kaia foods sprouted pumpkin seeds.


I fell in love with these after I got a sample at EXPO West.  The flavor isn’t too strong.  It’s perfect as a salad add in because the crunch and spice is just enough to bring some extra pizzazz to veggies. 


The dressing I’m all about lately is a simple balsamic, but for some reason this Oro Nero Balsamic is better than your average vinegar.  You can get it at Dean & Deluca (or online).

Ok, M through Z will continue in a later post…

Feel free to chime in with whatever letter suites your fancy!


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Loafing around

I made another hippie loaf


This pumpkin banana bread recipe is crazy yum.  I should have made another batch way sooner.  I don’t know what was holding me back.  Actually I think I do.  I rarely let bananas get to the mega-brown state that is oh-so-perfect for bread making.  Smoothies and oats usually get them long before they reach that point of no return.


This batch was moist like a muffin, but also fluffy like bread.  Perfect when warmed and topped with peanut butter.

With a side of coffee and berries.


The weather lately has been kinda meh, and the other day I used it as an excuse to stay inside and have a dance party in my sweats (yes, I actually did this).  When I hear Gaga I can’t help but bust a move, much to our downstairs neighbor’s dismay.  It was a pretty good workout, too. ;)  Not my typical day off cardio, but whatever.  Back to work manana. 

This week I’ve had some interesting patients.  I mean, I always like chatting it up with patients, but this week some of them have had especially intriguing life stories to share.  That’s one of the best things about my job – I hear the most incredible and unbelievable things.  Sometimes I feel like I should write them down (but of course confidentiality prohibits such actions).  Unfortunately, I have plenty of horribly difficult personalities to balance the gems out.  I cared for a real terror back-to-back days last week, and they were the most mentally taxing shifts.  Psych patients are really not my forte.  This patient had me nearly pulling my hair out.  I have a difficult time when reasoning and rationale don’t work.  Crazy is just not my thing.  I can handle rude people.  I can handle people who disagree with me on religious and/or political grounds.  I can even handle racist people (although it can be super awkward and hard to listen to hideously ignorant remarks).  But when a person is creating stories out of thin air, acting paranoid about medical care, hallucinating and/or lying…well, it’s difficult.  I have mad props for psych nurses because that’s just NOT my area of expertise.  I would prefer a patient hemorrhaging from an ascending aortic aneurysm almost any day. 

But back to my interesting patients.  I found myself spending hours in their rooms just listening to stories and soaking up their experiences.  Not only does it make the time go by faster for me, but I think it helps create a more personal bond between us.  I feel like anytime I can break down the barrier between caregiver and patient, it creates a better relationship and promotes improved patient outcomes.  The separation between the person being treated and those giving the treatments is sometimes inevitable, but as a nurse, making myself a positive, friendly ally (hopefully) removes any intimidation and opens up the lines of communication.  This is pretty much my biggest goal in patient care.  By treating my patients as if they were my own family members, it helps me remember that they are more than just a room number and/or disease.  So when I have the extra time to find out about a person’s past, it makes it easier to see the bigger picture.  It just so happens that along the way, I tend to hear some pretty cool life stories.  Anyway, enough rambling. 


Moving on.  Here’s a lentil loaf that I recently made.  It’s ridiculously delicious.  I’m pretty sure it could (and would) convert any carnivore to veganism. 


Recipe forthcoming. 


This one’s a winner. 

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On the road again

Does it seem like all I do is drive?  Because it seems that way to me.  After a big celebration on New Year’s Eve, I was out of commission for most of the next day.  Kyle and I eventually hit the road after noon, leaving Chico in the dust snow. 

We arrived home to my parents house a few hours later…just in time to watch the end of the Rose Bowl and dig into a family size vat of garlic hummusHalf a loaf of bread later (not exaggerating), I snoozed, did laundry, and ventured into the kitchen for round one of dinner.


My parents had leftovers upon leftovers (as always) and since they were leaving for Cabo the next day, they wanted me to help clean out the fridge (to pull a Monica if you will).  Friends references anyone? 


This asparagus and mushroom strata is one of my faves.

The above serving was my first helping, the below serving was my second. 


Ordinarily, this might be considered enough to feed a small family, but (sadly?) nobody in my family was even phased by my lack of portion control. 

I nursed my semi-stuffed stomach with tea and football.  Then I packed for the next road trip ahead of us…this time we were headed back to LA. 

Most of the stuff I packed was non-photo-worthy (including a few different baggies of trail mix, nuts, cereal, granola, and dried fruit).  My parents also encouraged us to take as many perishables as possible, since they would be going to waste in the empty house anyway. 


Uhhh, you don’t have to twist my arm.

I said goodbye to my parents and sis before hitting the sack because I didn’t expect them to wake up at the a$$ crack of dawn with us.  We left at 6:30 am to avoid traffic on the I-5 and made it back to Santa Monica just after noon.  Several cups of coffee (and pee stops) fueled us all the way.


I made a huge pot of pumpkin cinnamon oats when I got home, which filled this bowl four times.  Oof.  Where did my ability to practice moderation go?  I really need to find it soon. 

On that note.  Who is ready for a healthy giveaway to start off 2011?

I’m thinking this little teaser may just lure you in.

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You didn’t work on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? 

I didn’t really mind it, since I got to celebrate early with my family

On the 24th, I woke up early to sweat out a quick 20 minute Shred, which I followed up with a hearty tupperware full of overnight oats.


I used 1/2 cup rolled oats and then mixed in an almost equal portion of canned pumpkin with only an itty bit of water.  This created a crazy thick consistency as it “gelled” overnight. 


Other goodies included Tropical Traditions shredded coconut, dried cherries, and NuNatural liquid stevia. 

Dried cherries are so so good and they make a normal bowl of oats taste like the holidays when combined with other sweet ingredients.  For some reason I always think of Starbucks’ Bliss Bars.


At work, I had these orange eats.  Not a joke, this color scheme was actually a complete accident. 


I made this butternut mash using 1/100th of my squash supply.  It was so simple and so good. 


Rather than roast the squash I left it in the slow cooker all day, which resulted in some seriously mushy squash.  Precisely what I was hoping for!  I didn’t even have to use a food processor or blender to puree it. 


You could probably steam it if you don’t have a slow cooker. 

After separating the flesh from the skin, I added nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, and a dash of coconut milk.  Any non-dairy milk would do, though.  I didn’t measure anything and basically played mix-master until I got a nice cheesy, savory flavor.  The result was a vegan squash mash that happens to be way healthier and more nutritionally dense than mashed potatoes! 

*When I say more nutritionally dense, I mean it too.  Nutritional yeast contains B12, and it is actually one of the only vegetarian sources of this vitamin.  Obviously if you are a vegan, this is a key supplementation requirement, so unless you are consuming massive amounts of nooch (a completely legit possibility), you may want to consider taking a B12 supplement for (since B12 is really only found in animal sources).  There are foods that are fortinfied with B12, too, so just be sure to do your research.

Moving on…

Oh hey, what do we have here?


Orange you glad I packed a meal with some non-orange food? 

Orange you glad I have such a lame sense of humor?  😉

If you are looking at the above photo with confused wonder, you wouldn’t be the only one.  Salad?  What is this foreign thing?  Sadly, my body reacted similarly to the green invasion.  Eek! 

After weeks of chocolate, sweets, and treats, I’m pretty sure my stomach had no idea what to do with this lettuce concoction.  Not a good sign.  The salad had spinach, carrots, blanched broccoli, and dried cranberries with Bragg’s liquid aminos (added after the photo). 


I also packed NutsOnline’s raw Acai Blueberry Superfood Cereal for my second breakfast (aka my work breakfast).  Holy fabulous ingredients!


It took me a while to identify why this cereal tasted so familiar and then I realized…


The coconut flavor, the crispy crunchy texture…


It tasted JUST like my hippie-roons.  Yum. Yum. YUM! 

I definitely need to buy a bigger portion now because that sampler completely piqued my taste buds.  So good.  I love when cereal is crunchy without being hard, and since I’m rather particular about granola and cereal (especially ones with clusters), I get really excited when foods surpass my expectations.  This cereal is RAW and it still maintained a beautiful crunch.  No stale texture whatesoever.  I’m not sure the acai came through, but the blueberry flavor was delish.  All in all, this cereal gets 5 stars…and NutsOnline continues to impress me with their quality products! 


After work, I had some boring, non-blogworthy food.

Artisana’s raw almond butter packet sandwiched between two pieces of Alvarado Street sprouted bread


Not the least bit gourmet, but totally yummy.


As always, the packet needed some kneading before it was soft enough to squeeze out.  I can’t get over how good Artisana’s products are – and they are raw!  No unnecessary processing, no additives, just pure almonds. 


The aftermath of dessert looked something like this.  Sigh.  Because one wasn’t quite good enough…


Home-made Reese’s anyone?  Vegan peanut butter cups with chocolate fudge casing sounds much fancier, doesn’t it? 


After the peanut butter cup was done, I still wanted more, so I went for a cranberry/coconut fudge cup


I’m clearly on a dessert kick.  The holidays are a nice excuse to have multiple servings of sweets.  Santa doesn’t care if you get sick from too much chocolate and neither do I.  Orange you glad about that?  :) 

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On Saturday night I was invited to a pre-opening meal at a new restaurant…

[these are the perks of food blogging that Kyle really enjoys]


You may have heard of The Veggie Grill before, since they have a few other locations in the Southern California area.  This new site is mere blocks from our apartment, so we were both excited to try it out (for free no less!). 


Several staff members welcomed us upon arrival and then explained the menu, highlighting the favorites while encouraging us to browse it for ourselves.  We both ended up ordering burgers with the same side. 


Iced teas, lemonades, and the likes…no soda, no fake sugar. 


Agave was the only sweetener option, and the other condiments were just as pure.  I love that they stay true to their mission with real, wholesome, quality products (like Annie’s ketchup).

While waiting for our meals to arrive we chatted with one of the owners, T.K. Pillan.  I was really impressed with his passion for making healthy living more mainstream.  Making simple (yet delicious) plant based food for the average diner seems like a lofty goal, but he was definitely 100% behind the operation.  I couldn’t be more pleased to help spread veganism to the fast-food eating community. 

Then our food came and it was time to get down to business. 


I got the Bayou Chickin’ burger which had a (plant-based) chickin’ patty, lightly blackened with cajun spices, lettuce, tomato, red onion, avocado, spicy vegan mayo.


On the side I got an order of mac ‘n cheese.




I really didn’t know what to expect with the chickin’ since faux meat can be hit and miss with me.  The weirdest thing was how real the texture of it was to meat.  The way it was blackened made it so similar to how a BBQ-ed breast might be.


See how the inside is thick and tough?  It was eerily meat-like. 

Since I have no meat cravings whatsoever, this wasn’t really a pro in my book.  I liked the flavor and I thought it was a good dish, but I’m not sure it’s something I’d seek out.  I think the nearly authentic meaty quality of the chickin’ may be more of an advantage for those who are newly vegetarian or just seeking to reduce the amount of meat in their diet (it’s certainly a healthier option for carnivores who want a hearty burger since the plant based protein doesn’t clog your arteries with cholesterol). 


The avo and spicy vegan mayo added a real punch that definitely “made” the burger. 


I was getting full as I polished off my last bite, so I saved the mac ‘n cheese to take home. 

I can’t wait to try the rest of the menu, especially some of the salads.  The menu was packed with things I was debating ordering – always a sign of a good restaurant. 


Kyle ordered The V-Burger which had a marinated and grilled veggie-steak burger, pickles, lettuce, tomato, red onion, chipotle ranch.  He nixed the pickles, and got mac ‘n cheese on the side, too. 


He described it as a cross between a fatburger and a veggie burger since it was like a greasy, but healthy patty.  Kyle mentioned this (as a compliment) to T.K.  Similar to my reaction, he was surprised by how close to a real burger it was in texture.  He and T.K. then went on to discuss business mumbo jumbo…while I zoned out and returned to my meal. 


After our dinner plates were bussed, dessert arrived! 


First up, carrot cake.  The frosting on this was sooooo good.  It tasted like cream cheese with a subtle sweetness and carrot flavor.  Yum.  The cake was good, too, and I don’t even like walnuts (which were sprinkled throughout the entire dessert).


The chocolate chip cookies were also quite tasty.  I like my cookies with more hearty grains (like oats), but these tasted about as traditional and close to the classic dessert as you could get (without butter, eggs, and sugar of course).  I was totally impressed. 

Thank you to The Veggie Grill for treating us to this delicious pre-opening meal!  The restaurant seems like it will be a big hit…the inside is vibrant and fun, the dining crowd looked like a good mix (with multiple generations represented), and the food was healthy, wholesome, and delish.  I’m thrilled that it’s so close by and now I can’t wait for it to open.  I know I’ll be back many many times. 

As far as vegan restaurants go, The Veggie Grill is (hopefully) paving the way for the future of food.  I love that plant-based menus are now becoming more mainstream…clearly the owners have found success already because they are expanding to more locations.  I only hope that this trend continues and veganism continues to get the spotlight it deserves.  With more support, maybe their growth will eventually allow them to replace some of the McDonald’s and Taco Bell’s.  The I-5 could certainly use some of these veg-friendly establishments.  ;)  I hesitate to compare it to fast food, as that implies a poorer quality, but it’s definitely a quicker to-go option (that doesn’t cost as much as Whole Foods) and exponentially superior for your health. 

The next day I was back to work. 


The leftover mac ‘n cheese made for easy lunch prep.


Mmmm…Daiya deliciousness.  Apparently they just revamped the recipe, and I have to say…It. Was. Awesome. 

How long has it been since I’ve had mac ‘n cheese?  Ummm…years!  I was completely and utterly content, sitting in the hospital cafeteria, watching the rain pour down outside, with my warm ooey gooey mac ‘n cheese. 


I also repeated my quinoa and veggie dish from the other day…this time bringing Artisana’s raw cashew butter to add in.




My oatmeal add-ins included pumpkin, shredded coconut and raisins


I snacked on this cereal, almond, granola, carob chip mix en route to the hospital (Kyle drove…to be explained later).  Other lunchables included apples, chocolate, dried fruit, candied ginger, and a pear


But this guy stole the show.  It’s no wonder it was voted #1 restaurant in Orange County.  The crumbled toasted topping, the gooey nature of the cheese, the perfect ratio of noodles to sauce…it was all amazing. 

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Pumpkin coconut oats.



Whole wheat pita with faux “tuna” salad and roasted red pepper hummus.


This is a new brand of pitas and I couldn’t be more in love.  The fluffier, the better.




Three Sisters Cinnamon Sweets.


Enjoy Life Boom Choco Boom bar.


Do you really not know what this is?

I totally Top Chef marathon-ed it for most of the day.  With many chocolate breaks.


How a hippie eats a Reese’s vegan fudge peanut butter cup.


*Note: you may want tea for between bites because this is one rich dessert.


Peel back the wrapper…and dive in with all your taste buds.

IMG_5103 IMG_5104 IMG_5105





Done and done.  🙂

This was one of a dozen or so sources of chocolate consumed in the past 48 hours.  I think it may be that time of the month…or maybe I’m just missing my beau (he’s up in WA with his fam).  Either way, the chocolate cravings hit and I’m not one to deny myself.  So yeah, it happened it’s happening.


Since I can’t for the LIFE of me find the nutcracker toffee dark chocolate theo bar that I fell in love with a few weeks ago, I resorted to the cherry & almond dark chocolate variety.

Oh mamacita, this was good.  I guess it’s ok that I can’t find my former flame since I now have a suitable replacement.


And for those who don’t know how to determine which chocolate bars are vegan, don’t be scared off by the sugar or cocoa butter listed in the ingredients.  In general, if there is over 70% cacao it is considered vegan.  This one is nice enough to say at the end “suitable for vegans.”  🙂

For dinner, I had more than just chocolate believe it or not.


Roasted fingerling potatoes, butternut squash, mushrooms, and meatless meatballs.


All drizzled with this glorious raw nutbutter.


I am finding that everything I make suddenly seems like it would be better when topped with Artisana cashini butter.  So, in addition to the roasted veggies, I added cashini butter to some sesame flat bread.


In other non-news, I literally can’t remember the last time I had a salad.  Weird.  Kinda makes me sad (I like salads).

Note to self, eat more green things.  On that note, I’m off to blanch some broccoli.  And maybe have another square of dark chocolate.  😉

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Here’s the line-up (the photo shows the eats in chronological order of consumption).


And here’s the hourly breakdown…

7:30 pm – I pack the above eats for work.

8:30 pm – In an attempt to get back on track, I tuck into the covers extra early.

4:14 am – My alarm goes off and Kyle lovingly nudges shoves me out of my slumber to shut off the beeping.

4:30 am – Jillian Michaels makes me regret seeing the sunrise with weights and cardio.

5:00 am – Shower time.

5:15 am – I sip on coffee #1 while watching the morning news and checking email.


6:15 am – I pour coffee #2 and pack up a granola/cocoa nut/carob chip breakfast mix for the road.


10:00 – I step away from my patients for a few minutes to grab coffee #3 and eat half (see reason below) of my pumpkin oats with coconut flakes.


10:10 – My new ICU patient arrives on the unit (post-heart & renal transplant).


10:45 – I reheat and finish up the remainder of my oats with my baby apple.


11:45 – I pop a few organic raw cacao goji energy squares.

12:00 – My Tazo passion tea warms me from head to toe but also leads to trip number 481,290 to the bathroom.


12:45 – My stomach shockingly doesn’t want lunch because NutsOnline’s goodies are too satisfying.  Wha?!?

1:00 – I ignore the above issue and head outside for my lunch break.


1:15 – My stomach happily accepts leftover lentil soup with a slices of Alvarado street bread (for dipping).


1:30 – I munch on baby carrots while chatting with Kyle.


1:45 – I hit up my second home (Starbucks) for some free hot water (which I then used to make Tazo chai tea).  I’m all about BYOB you know?  [Bring Your Own (tea) Bag]

2:00 – My lunch break comes to a close and I head back to the unit after some candied ginger settles my tum.

3:00 – Apple time!

4:15 – I finally drink the chai tea from my lunch break.


5:30 – Clif’s seasonal Iced Gingerbread bar makes my taste buds dance.

7:15 – I leave work and my mind starts planning dinner.

7:30 – I finish off my baby carrots on the way home.


7:45 – I walk into the apartment expecting to find Kyle studying hard…but instead find the above scene.

7:45 – Kyle tries to convince me that Wii golf is realistic (and semi-athletic).

8:00 – Shower time (yes, this is the second of the day, and yes, this must happen before dinner).


8:15 – I toss seitan, carrots, and quinoa together with mucho mucho Bragg’s liquid aminos.


9:30– Top Chef All Stars breaks my heart (we get East Coast feed on HD).


10:10 – I beat Kyle in Wii golf and suddenly he claims the game isn’t so realistic.

10:35 – Zzzzzz…

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