June 29, 2011

Blurry Weekend

Well it was a bit of a whirlwind weekend so I thought I would share a little picture re-cap of it all. Thor had a meeting in Portland on Friday so we decided to make a mini vacay of it! While Thor was in his meeting, I grabbed a yummy raw and vegan lunch at Prasad. From Portland we headed east to Cannon Beach for dinner and to catch the sunset. Then we drove up to Seaside to spend the night. The next day we spend some time in Astoria and then headed up to Kent, WA for a surprise visit with my mum. We got back to Spokane late Saturday night and then spent Sunday at hoopfest visiting some good friends! PHEW!

I didn't get pictures of everything, but here are a few highlights.

OK the photo above does need a bit of a caption. While in Astoria we decided to drive to the top of the hill to check out the view. We stumbled upon this cool tower that you climb up about 10 flights of a spiral staircase and then have 360 degree views at the top. As we walked onto the deck, Thor stopped short and exclaimed "Warren!". Turns out a junior high teacher of Thor's had accidentally stumbled upon the same tower!

June 27, 2011

Conquering my black thumb

The black thumb of death has been haunting me my whole life. I mean I only have to look at a plant and it starts to wilt and die. I don't even want to think about the number of plants I have sent to vegetation heaven. I have even had fish commit suicide...

To celebrate the summer solstice I went to a yoga class where we did 108 sun salutations (108 has some significant meanings in yoga/ Buddha land). During the class they talk briefly about mantras or affirmations and the idea that the more you say something the more true it will become whether or not what you are saying is factual. I know it sounds CRAZY but stay with me here....

To me, all the mantra mambo jumbo is all just about self talk. Do you go through life saying "I can't do this" "I'm too tired for that" or "I'm not strong enough to manage it"? Imagine if you made a habit of replacing all those negative words and cants and started telling yourself that you were strong and that you could do it. The easiest example is when I go out for a run. If I take off on a run telling my self that I am tired, am not a good runner, should just be eating cheesecake on my couch etc.. my run sucks! If I run and tell myself how happy I am to be outside and running, that I am strong and healthy, that I can run further today than I did yesterday (whether or not I an really believing these statements at the time), then I always have a great run!

Bringing it back to the plants....I decided maybe I needed to practice a little positive self talk and instead of telling my self that I have a black thumb, try telling myself that I can keep a plant alive! It seems to be working! While I have one plant that may be beyond saving the other two are doing quite well!!

The plant that is dying a long, slow and painful death. I over water it, under water it, and just cant seem to get things right for this poor little guy. It started with three bulbs and I am down to one. :(

This is a plant that came from a little starter off my mums plant! I placed the starter in water until I had a nice growth of roots and then planted it and away it goes! Woo hoo! It is so pretty with red a green leaves and grows really fast. Although, I have no idea what kind of plant this is So I would love to hear the name of it if any of you know?! My mum did call the other day and asked me how it was going, I said it was growing well and getting pretty tall! She said "Really? That's strange mine is a hanging plant." Hmm, don't really know what to make of that then.... lol!

And finally my first successful edible vegetation..... Basil!!!!! **Moment of silence for all the other herbs that died in my hands before this success.**
I love Basil! I love putting this wonderful plant that I am growing into my pasta, on my pizza, on my salads...etc! I LOVE IT! I know I know its bizarre but every time I run up my stairs to harvest a few leaves to add to a dish I just giggle with joy! MY BASIL IS ALIVE!!!!

Look at all the new baby Basil leaves!!!!! Grow babies, grow!

Maybe, just maybe, I will one day have a whole vegetable garden.....

June 26, 2011

The Sweetheart Cookie

Thor had a break though! First, he told me that he realized that pot lucks were not just a weird and inconvenient way to eat lunch and that he now understands that it is the sharing of ideas and bonding over food that make pot lucks so popular. AND THEN.... he asked me to bake some "like whole wheat vegan cookies or something".

WOW! Thor has never actually asked me to make food for a function of his before. He will tell me about a given event, let me know he is going to buy a "vegetable tray or something" from the store, and then I will insist that I will handle it, but never this!

Naturally, the week he asks me to do this is also a bit of a crazy week at work (I feel like I have been saying that often....) but I was not about to turn the opportunity down! I wanted something of course vegan and healthy, sophisticated but still irresistible to the inner child, and likable by health nuts and "normal people" alike. Well then, you have to have dark chocolate. Maybe with some cherries? Well chocolate and cherries practically beg to be baked with slivered almonds. And oatmeal... the ultimate health comfort food. All of this wrapped into a vegan and whole wheat cookie! Lets go!

To work with my busy schedule I actually had to sneak out of work when I had a break between clients one morning, drive home and prepare the dough, drive back to work and then finish baking in the evening! I felt like the crazy cookie lady but I got it done!

2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup all-purpose flour*
2 cups old fashioned oats
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup earth balance (or butter spread of choice)
1.5 cups organic brown sugar
1.5 cups dried cherries
2 tsp vanilla
2 servings of Egg replacer
1 cup dark or semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup slivered almonds

*I decided to go with a blend of whole wheat and white to make the change less dramatic for Thor's co-workers. If I were baking these for peeps accustomed to whole wheat, I would go with all whole wheat flour.

**You could easily half this recipe if just baking for a few...or one :) **

1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk with a fork.
2. Melt earth balance and whisk in brown sugar. Add to flour and mix in well.
3. Add cherries, vanilla and egg replacer mixing in well. Fold in chocolate and almonds. If you need to run back to work to teach a yoga class or something, now is the time to wrap in saran wrap and place in the fridge.
4. Drop about a TBSP of dough onto greased (I use coconut oil) cookie sheets and bake at 350 for about 12 mins.

June 20, 2011

Running and Cleaning

Being in the fitness biz, Ill occasionally get asked if I run. Umm if you call boppin along, singing to music at a very slow joyful pace running, then the answer is YES! I LOVE that!!

It has kinda bugged me though that my "runs" are not a good work out. If I saw a client of mine doing what I do, I would certainly yell at them and tell them "This is not a dance party, get your but moving!" (Not really, but I wouldn't be impressed). So I decided I needed a new running goal! The Spokenya Run is a 7k run that takes place along a scenic route right here in Spokane. Not only is it a great run, but proceeds go directly to bring clean water to the people of Kenya! On Sunday morning I decided to go run the course and time myself, to help set a goal for the run at the end of July. Running while timing yourself is in a whole other world than just running to listen to the new J LO cd...

I am actually pretty happy with the time I got! I was expecting it to be a lot closer to the 40 minute mark (although I might have messed up the course a tad). Now I am going to attempt to train myself and get a faster time when I run this course in a month! Wish me luck!

After the run, I got to meet up with my best gal pals for some coffee and chit chat (and a wrap) (OK OK AND a cinnamon roll...). I love just decompressing with my ladies! One of my friends was telling me that she was cleaning out her closet and follows a rule that if she hasn't wore an item more than twice in the past year its gone. My first instinct was that I could no way do that! I mean I don't even have ANY clothes and I never have anything to wear! And then I came home and saw my closet...keep in mind that I had two loads of laundry going and I'm not even going to show you where the fitness clothes are kept...
Well I was inspired by my friend! Although I couldn't be nearly as strict as she is, I cleared out a good 30+ items from my closet (some of these dating back to high school years!!)

Before                                                                       After                                         

OK, it doesn't look as dramatically different as I thought it would... maybe I need to do a 2nd sweep?

June 17, 2011

Ahhh, Juice!

I realized that since letting you guys know that I purchased my first juicer, I have not posted any yummy juice recipes. And after my indulgent cupcake post I figured it was the perfect time. I realize that most do not have a juicer, but you can always blend up a Green Smoothie.

I tend to juice about 2 times a week. It is the best pick me up if I'm feeling a little lethargic, have been exposed to a onslaught of germs or just know I have been slacking in the vegetable consumption department. The juices I made this week are not actually the prettiest juices, but I have had so much fun with all the colours!
I have also discovered a bit of a fetish for ginger.. I can't get enough of the stuff. It is really good for and known to help increase the appetite.. not something I generally struggle with...

Green Goddess
2 green apples
1 cup spinach
1 small bunch Bok Choy
1/4 Lemon
1 inch ginger
1/2 cup pineapple

*Made this for the first time today since I had left over bok choy from the Spring Curry... LOVE IT! Lots of goodness but nice n' sweet!

Sunrise Special
3 large carrots
1/4 beet with greens
1 green apple
1 inch ginger

*This is one for the vegetable lovers. If you are new to vegetable smoothie you might want to add a 2nd apple.

June 14, 2011

Cupcake Wars

Chocolate Cupcakes W/ Vanilla Frosting and Raspberry Glaze

Some days a girl has just got to make cupcakes. I don't think I need to expand on that anymore. I have found that making a good healthier vegan chocolate cake is not too challenging. I even have made a great gluten free chocolate cake. And of course I have the super yummy chocolate frosting. But sometimes you want white frosting... and making this healthy posed a little greater of a challenge. There are some versions out there but they are infamously finicky, tend to melt at room temperature, and just not the fluffy sweet goodness of that white frosting from your childhood... hmmm

More on the frosting later... but first the cupcakes!

1 cup non-dairy milk (I used coconut milk)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup stevia
1/3 cup grape seed oil
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat  flour
1/2 cup garbanzo/fava bean flour (you can use all WW but I ran out :) )
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
3/4 tsp sea salt


1. Preheat oven to 350F, line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.

2. With a fork, beat together milk, vinegar, sugar, oil and vanilla in a large bowl until nice n smooth (you could use an electric mixer but I like the arm workout)
3. Now sift the dry ingredients (flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt) into the wet. Mix well, until all clumps are gone.

4. Spoon the batter into prepared cupcake pan, about two thirds full for each cupcake. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the cupcake slowly springs back when pressed with a finger. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Almost ready!!

Time to Frost!

So I hit the drawing board full of energy and enthusiasm for creating the worlds best and healthiest vanilla frosting. My big idea was to use coconut cream (as used in banana brownies) instead of butter and sweeten with agave instead of confectioners sugar. This started out pretty well although was not as thick and fluffy as I wanted (I was using a food processor and not an electric mixer - this might make a world of difference) so I added some arrowroot powder- not bad. How about some xantham gum to really thicken it up.....BIG MISTAKE! It thickened it right into a big slimy goop of a mixture! Maybe I should have started with less than a TBSP of this....

So it was back to the drawing board but unfortunately I had used all my coconut cream with the batch that became the slime monster.. I resorted to using Earth Balance (vegan butter) and a blend of agave and natural cane juice sugar. Again, not bad but since I was using the granulated sugar in place of a confectioners sugar it was of course a little grainy... No problemo.... Ill just gently warm the mixture to dissolve the sugar, then refrigerate to thicken it up and re-process. URGHHH! (or however you type that obnoxious game show buzzer noise that you were way wrong). FYI, once you melt earth balance and dissolve sugar into it, it will not magically reform into its previous state... who knew?!?

At this point I let the vanilla frosting win.... I blended some Earth Balance, Confectioners Sugar and Vanilla and frosted the cupcakes. The battle is lost but the war is not over.... healthy vanilla frosting - I will discover your secret and unmask it to the fine readers of this here blog...

With my yummy, albeit not super healthy, vegan frosting in hand I went to work. I reserved a little bit of frosting and then mashed some raspberries into it to make a glaze and then topped with 1/2 of a fresh raspberry.

I devoured a few cupcakes and went to bed slight defeated but mostly happy... 'cause who doesn't LOVE cupcakes?!?!

Inspiration for the cupcakes goes to Oh She Glows!

What is YOUR favourite cupcake?

Chili Con Cocoa

Occasionally someone will ask me if I have missed meat since becoming a vegetarian and I have to think about it because I feel like I should miss meat. I used to be the biggest meat eater. I liked steak and I liked it raw! Some days I would just crave steak and would cook it up and nothing else. Thor still laughs that on our second date we came home a little late (around ten) and I cooked us both big slabs of steak and served it up like it was a very typical late night snack.

Funny thing is, I don't miss meat at all. If there was ever a day that I really wanted a piece of meat I probably would eat it, but that hasn't happened yet. Last time I was around a lot of meat was when I went to the Grille from Ipanema with some friends.The smell of meat was everywhere and there were just these big skewers of different meats "floating" around the restaurant. The strangest thing happened, I went into the restaurant expecting that I would crave all the meat that was around, but instead I became physically ill. I actually had to go sit outside (in very cold temperatures) to try a calm the nausea! I can not explain why this once bloody steak lovin' girl got queasy over some meat but there it is.

Turning vegetarian also had some unexpected positive side effects. I was forced out of my comfortable meal patterns and found new foods and a passion for cooking. I just love cooking for friends and breaking it to them that their meal is vegetarian/ vegan/ white sugar free/ white flour free etc...

I don't think that being vegetarian is for everyone and I hope to never come across as preachy. I do believe we can all enjoy wholesome plant based hearty meals together and no matter your dietary preferences "breaking bread" with others is a valuable experience to share with family, friends' and strangers.

This chili is the perfect comfort food for vegans and meat lovers alike. I served mine with a baked potato and a salad.


1 tbsp Olive Oil
1-3 cloves garlic, minced (I used 1 large)
2 bell peppers, chopped ( I used 1 green, 1 orange)
1 sweet onion, chopped ( I only had half left!)
3 carrots, chopped
1 cup frozen corn
1 tbsp cumin
3 tbsp chili powder
pinch sea salt
pinch cayenne
1 can each: black beans, white kidney beans, red kidney beans (rinsed)
1 lg can diced tomatoes with juice
1 fresh tomato, diced
2 tsp oregano
3 mushrooms, chopped
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Juice of 1 lime
 2 tbsp Chia Seeds (optional- but a nice thickener and its the latest super food!)
1 jalapeno, chopped ( I omitted this 'cause Thor is not into the spicy food...)

1. In a large pot warm OO. Add first 5 ingredients and saute until everything is soft. Add the rest of the ingredients, cover, and cook for about 30-40 minutes. Medium-low heat or a very gentle simmer.

2. Well I guess there is only  step really.... Serve! I garnished mine with avocado and some vegan pepper jack cheese but you just garnish away with whatever you little heart desires!

June 13, 2011

Arbor Crest Winery

I admit I have been a bad blogger. This weekend I made some yummy recipes and I did not take a single picture! The Cherry Almond Chocolate Cookies are long gone so I am afraid you will have to wait till next time for pictures of those but there is some left over chili which I will photograph and post soon! To peak your interest the chili recipe calls for my fav ingredient...cocoa!

However, I did get snap happy when my friend Jeannette and I headed to Arbor Crest Winery for some live music, a bottle of wine and assortment of "picky bits". If you are in the Spokane area I highly recommend a Sunday evening at Arbor Crest. It is just beautiful and they always have great bands! They allow you to bring in food so pack some yum yums and a blanket.

June 9, 2011

Spring Fling Curry!

On an average day I wake up at either 4am or 7am. Head to work, sit at a desk, yell at train clients, teach some yoga or cross training, possibly get in a run or workout of my own, head home (a whole ten minute commute!!!) and scramble to make dinner, do laundry and all of life's other little tasks before tucking into bed. How are earth do parents do all this and more?? When you have a child do they give you secret pills that add 4 hours to each day? There are not enough hours in the day!!!
That being said I have become quite proficient in meals that can be cooked in 15 minutes. This is a nutritious, delicious and vegan FAST meal idea. As a little added bonus it uses seasonal spring produce that is so yummy right now!

Thanks to a couple of pre-packaged items, you can whip this meal up in about 15 mins and have enough left overs for a couple of lunches! You could easily do this without pre-packaged items but some nights you are just too lazy...

1 TBS Coconut Oil
1/4 sweet onion
1 clove garlic
1 Medium bunch Bok Choy, chopped separating thick stalks from green's
5-6 Asparagus Spears, chopped
1 Jar of curry sauce (some will not be vegan, cooks preference :) )
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
Whole Grain 90 sec Rice

1. Saute onion and garlic in coconut oil until onion starts to tenderize. Add bok choy stalks and asparagus, cover and cook for about 5 mins.
2. Add bok choy greens, black beans and curry sauce. Cook for about 5 mins.
3.Cook 90 second rice in microwave

The picture really doesn't do this curry justice but believe me for 15 minutes of cooking it was divine!

June 6, 2011

Pizza attempts and knitting inspiration

I have been slacking a little bit on the recipe posting lately and I apologize about that! Last night I did make my very first pizza crust! It did not turn out super well...probably because I was simultaneously making home made pasta and rushing to get to my cross training class (which I showed up to with dough crusted all over my hands looking like a strange skin disease). I do feel like I have a better understanding now though and I will dedicate more than 50% of my attention to it on the next go! My biggest problem was that I don't think I used enough flour because the center of the crust and the cookie sheet became one during the baking process.... Ay Ay Ay. So now my cookie sheet is soaking in warm soapy water at home... the part that wasn't attached tasted good though...
I am open to suggestions on pizza dough creation....should I get a pizza stone??

Most of you know that I am an on again off again knitter.. I generally always have something on some needles but it may sit idle for weeks and weeks and then one week Ill be up till all hours knitting like a fiend.. I would like to get a nice light summer knitting project going and I found this free pattern for the gorgeous shawl below! What a great piece for cooler summer nights and transitioning into fall! I cant wait to get started... I am thinking of a nice warm creamy colour but am open to suggestions...

June 2, 2011

house shopping

Many of you may know that Thor and I are in the processes of looking at houses. When I launched myself into the process I thought it would be SO much fun! Like all of those HGTV shows where they look at three houses and then pick the favourite.....it is NOT like that in real life...

A couple of summers ago my little brother came to visit me and I was all excited with a week of activities planned. I took him on a fairly tough 8 mile hike. At about mile 2 he started asking if it was almost over...at mile 5-6 I had to tell him why calling 9-1-1 was not an option. This picture was taken at the end of the hike....
The reason I share this, is that this picture captures pretty exactly how I feel about house shopping.

At least I have a wonderful man to share the experience with! It will all be worth it in the end!