Tag Archives: vegan

High Tea at The Talking Teacup

For my birthday, Mrs. Benzio got me a groupon for High Tea for two at The Talking Teacup!  Dominique and I try to set a date to do this at least once a year, so I was thrilled that we could go this summer (and not have to pay!  She even gave us some cash for a tip!)  We had trouble scheduling a time, but we finally found a day…yesterday!

I told Dominique to "act natural" lol

High tea consists of four courses of delicious teatime food, as well as your own pot of one of their signature teas.

After much deliberation, I chose the “Immunity Booster” herbal infusion: “Rosehips, orange and lemon peels with the immune system enhancing properties of Echinacea. Cinnamon bark and ginger to aid digestion and improve circulation. A fruity taste much like that of a softer, less tart fruit blend with citrus notes. Refreshing and invigorating.”  Indeed it was!  It was craving something light since its summer, but I still wanted something healing, like cinnamon and ginger.  It totally hit the spot!

First course is always scones with Devonshire cream and jam.  Today’s flavors were cinnamon walnut and chocolate chip!

They are always warm and fresh out of the oven!  Since they aren’t huge, you can have two 😉

The next course is a soup course.

Tomato bisque!  We’ve had theirs before; they make a really good one!  It’s not too creamy and really flavorful.

Next course….tea sandwiches!

7 different flavors!  I asked for all vegetarian in my sandwiches.  Here’s what I can remember

  1. cucumber herb mayo on white
  2. Egg salad on wheat
  3. Artichoke on white
  4. Cheddar and jam on cinnamon swirl
  5. Sundried tomato
  6. Pumpernickle swirl with something really delicious I can’t remember!
  7. Apple butter?

teapot sammie!

Last, of course, is DESSERT!

Sugar cookie, white cake with orange marmalade, and chocolate chop blondie.

That’s a lot of food, right?  I had to be really strategic because for dinner my parents said that my sister and I could go out to eat, their treat!  She wanted to go to the local family Italian place, Luberto’s.  So, I just had a banana for breakfast to make sure I was nice and hungry for lunch!  At The Talking Teacup, I ate both the scones (because they are always the best part) and I only had half of the soup.  Then, I just ate a few bites out of each sandwich so that I could try each one, then went back and nibbled on the remnants a bit (pssst I still nearly ate them all :)).  Lastly, I just had half of all the desserts.  And I was still stuffed!!!

We had such a wonderful time at the talking teacup.  We always feel like princesses, and we always gabgabgabgabgab!  Thanks so much, Mrs. B!!! Best present ever!

Eating Vegan at an Italian Restaurant

I ate vegetarian at the Talking Teacup, but I wanted to try and eat vegan at the Italian place.  It wasn’t too hard at all!  They give you bruscetta (just crostinis with an herb tomato topping) and rolls made of pizza dough (that I drizzle with olive oil and pepper), which I ate as we were waiting for our food.  For my meal I ordered a salad made from zucchini, eggplant, kalamata olives, and plum tomatoes sauteed in olive oil and garlic.  I felt good about all my choices, but I still felt like I ate too much.  But I guess sometimes you have to eat like a queen!

How do try to eat well at restaurants?

Namaste.

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Crowd-Pleasing Vegan Recipes

I’ve been doing a lot of cooking the past few days!  And I would like to share a few of the vegan recipes that I created – my whole family enjoyed them!

First,  I have stuffed peppers.  This is really just a Spanish rice recipe stuffed into some green bell peppers 😉

  • First, get some brown rice cooking.
  • Then, chop off the tops and remove the seeds from some bell peppers.  Dice up the pepper caps along with some stewed tomatoes.  Cook up about 3/4 pound mock meat crumbles, like Morningstar brand, in a frying pan.  Add the peppers, tomatoes, and some corn to the pan.  Stir in 1/2 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, and 1/8 tsp pepper to the mix.
  • Add the rice to the veggie mix, stuff the peppers and bake until the pepper is softened.

We had these for dinner the other night, and my whole family loved them!! They used ground chicken and added some cheese into their peppers, but they were easily transformed into a full vegan meal.  Just one pepper was so filling, and I especially loved how spicy there were 🙂

The other day I discovered a great vegan Spinach and Artichoke dip!  It’s actually just Sabra spinach and artichoke hummus warmed up in the microwave for a few seconds!  Tastes just like the real, creamy, cheesy thang!

Then, last night I made dinner so that my mom would have time to go to pilates with me!   I served:

Summertime Succotash from The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone  (the only change I made: edamame instead of lima beans)

Seared Portobellos from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan  by Dreena Burton (I added some sliced onions to the pan, too)

Emma’s Garlic Bread My creation!  I lined a baking sheet with foil, sliced Italian sesame bread, and arranged it on the pan.  I drizzled olive oil on one side, then flipped them over.  I minced two cloves of garlic and mixed it with some olive oil, then painted the mixture on the other side of the bread with a pastry brush.  (I also drizzled some Parmesan cheese on a few for the cheese-eaters.)  I popped them in the oven on 450* for 10 minutes.  So crunchy and delicious!

All those these recipes were ridiculously delicious and tasty, but I loved them most because my family loved them too!  I hate to be an inconvenience to my family when I eat vegan, but I get such a high off the feeling that my family understands and appreciates the food I like to eat, too!

Are your vegan recipes a hit with the whole family?

Namaste.

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“Are you a vegetarian now?!”

I got that (sort of desperate) email from my good friend Tara the other day.  (Fun facts about Tara: she has been committed to a vegetarian diet for the past few months and she is currently living in Galway, Ireland!  and I miss her.)  I was a vegetarian for about five years, for animal rights reasons, until I started college and my roommate Jocelyn and our good friend Kelsey began to force feed me wings every so often 😉  We managed to keep it a secret until I felt too guilty and had to come clean.   Plus, after watching Food, Inc. I realized that it was not just the American meat industry that I didn’t agree with, it was the entire American food system!

So for the past year, I’ve tried to live as closely to a “thoughtfultarian” diet (as Kath described) as I could.  This means eating wholesome (organic, local, karma-free) foods whenever possible, wile not restricting myself AND sticking to my college-gal budget.

But I must be honest: I haven’t been happy or satisfied with that diet.  I still truly believe that animals can serve a much greater purpose in life than our dinner (just look at Heifer International).  My response to the veg question lately has been, “I have vegetarian sympathies,” though personally, I still identify myself as a vegetarian.  In fact lately, I’ve been even more closely identifying myself as a vegan.

  • I am trying to avoid dairy because of my skin issue and a slight lactose-intolerance I tend to suffer from.
  • I am trying to avoid meat because I believe in the life-changing potential of all animals
  • I am trying to avoid all animal products because of the cruelty they suffer and because I wish to eat karma-free
  • I may never be able to give up fish because of the strong fishing culture of my family and its unparalleled health benefits
  • I am trying to eat produce that is local, organic, and in-season for the sake of our depleting family-farm values, our environment, and its nutritional value

But at the end of the day, I’m not going to kid myself.  I know that right now I cannot commit to this diet because of money and my frequent traveling.   Though inside my little head I believe I am a “vegan,” I can’t publicly identify myself as such because I don’t want to offend those who do live a committed vegan diet.  But I can commit to awareness. I can commit to eating a wholesome, healthy, balanced diet, and that is the most important eating philosophy of all.

So what did I eat today, you may ask?  Before my run, I had a piece of wholemeal toast with crunchy peanut butter.  Best fuel ever.  On my way home, I stopped at The Juicery for a Green Monster!  My yoga friend, who owns the place, asked me if I was out “Sporty Spice-ing” lol!!

As I power-walked the rest of the way home, I enjoyed an ice-cold blend of leafy greens, apple juice, pineapple, banana, almonds, and sesame seeds (and I added chia seeds!).

Yay a new sticker for the collection!  For lunch, I had some very eggy French Toast.

Two slices of wholmeal bread dipped in an eggy mixture (eggs, cinnamon, a dash of oat milk) then grilled crispy-perfection

and loaded with mixed berries and banana!

On the way to class, I had one of my homemade oat bars:

It wasn’t enough 😦  I have class from 2-7:30ish every Wednesday.  Class is held in the Marae, a sacred Maori building in which you cannot eat or drink.  This is proving to be very challenging for me.  By the time class is over, I’m totally out of it with a headache and ravenous hunger.

(Class was very interesting today, despite my fatigue.  In Maori society, we learned about the mysterious discovery of New Zealand.  Maori tradition and Western beliefs clash!  In Leadership, we talked about the importance of being proactive.  We learned about the first female Maori Queen who was a pretty cool chick!  More on that later, I have to write a paper on it.)

Dinner was very replenishing and satisfying: lettuce wraps!

While I babysat the quinoa as it cooked on our ghetto stove,

Hannah cut some tomatoes, carrots, and zucchini.

I ❤ balls falafel balls

I love when I eat something that is also an activity, I had so much fun building my wraps!

I also enjoyed an Isaac’s Pear Cider.  SO refreshing!

The rest of the brownies were eaten for dessert.  I’m sad to see them go 😦  But maybe my next dessert rotation will be vegan!

What kind of diet to you try and follow?

Namaste.

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Confession: I’m a Yoga Rule-Breaker

I woke up excited to try out my new friend:

Yesterday, I took a run to the closest whole foods store (3 kilometers away!) to check it out.  The organic section in Countodown is 😦  so I’ve been on withdrawal!  Plus, I really wanted to get some non-dairy milk so that I can still enjoy oatmeal and such, but cut down on my dairy intake.  The store was called Harvest Wholefoods and it was super cute and well-stocked!  I got some quinoa and lentils from the bulk section, plus this oat milk for just nz$3.95.  I was searching for almond milk, but my choices were soy milk, rice milk, and oat milk.  This O.M. was on sale, so I figured I’d try it out!

I made my oatmeal with it this morning.  It was very tasty! I noticed that the oats absorbed it faster than cow’s milk, so I needed to put more in.  But I loved the flavor!

Oatmeal with bananas, cinnamon, and shredded coconut.  The bananas were very under-ripe and sour.  Ick.

Then, I got down and dirty: I had a massive amount of lesson planning and research to do.  I basically made a rough outline of all the lessons I will be doing this semester and got other logistical stuff organized for my internship.

Plus, I have a paper on literacy due in three weeks that I decided I should start.  I need to research and discuss this quote:  “Reading is not a natural activity, but a set of gradually acquired component skills intitially learned independently, but later integrated and automated” (Owen & Pumfrey, 1995, p. 80).  It’s definitely an interesting topic (if you are a teacher, that is!) and there are so many aspects of it I can discuss!  My first priority is to research the topic, then form a thesis, but here are some of the roads I might go down:

  • “Competing” theories on literacies are really all correct
  • Reading is essential for learning: reading is understanding
  • Implications for struggling readers
  • Implications for a culturally diverse classroom

So many possibilities! Are you as excited as I am?!

I worked straight through until lunch.

Mondays are awesome because at Pita Pit, just around the corner from my apartment btw, the large ginormous falafel pitas are on special for nz$8.

It’s a beast.  I basically got all the (vegan) fixings: tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, shredded carrots, jalapenos, black olives, sprouts, pickles, hot sauce, baba ganoush, and grilled falafel, onions, mushrooms, and green peppers.

I was a bit let down because they didn’t have wholemeal pitas!  I was stuck with white.  Also, I missed the feta cheese and tzatziki, but you know what?  I don’t need it.  But who am I kidding? That pita rocked my world!  (PS – I only need 6 more pitas until I get a one free!)

I needed something sweet after all that spiciness.

I enjoyed a small brownie square.  (The dye form the mini M&Ms is weirding me out.)

I like the nuke them in the microwave and eat them with a fork.  Heaven!

After my treat, it was back to work for me!  More reading about reading, tee-hee.

I was a very bad yoga girl today.  I had a snack a little over an hour before class.

4 big multigrain crackers (two with hummus, 2 with crunchy PB).  You are supposed to refrain from eating the two hours before a yoga class; it’s better for your practice.  But I would rather have a slightly full tummy than be hungry!  In my opinion, that’s one of the B.S. rules of yoga.  Sort of like the rule that women who are menstruating shouldn’t do inversions.  Load of crap.  That definitely sounds to me like something a man made up.

I had a great yoga class today, despite the crackers in my stomach 😉  I want to write about the great studios I’ve found, but it deserves its own special post!  Coming soon…

Are you a yoga rule-breaker?

Namaste.

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Vegans like the Superbowl, too!

The best part of the Superbowl? The food, obviously.  But they do tend to be a bit meaty, creamy, cheesy, and, well, fatty.  But you can easily make healthy, even vegan Superbowl munchies, without spending a fortune.  Today, I made two of my favorite football foods:  Chili …and…. Guacamole

Here’s all the good stuff I put in my Chili today….

  • 1 carrot
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 sweet onion
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Olive oil
  • 1 small can of mushrooms
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • chili powder
  • 1 package firm tofu
  • 1 large can of chunky crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1/2 can of corn
  • 1/2 can of black beans

I admit, I sort of went crazy.  Maybe I should call this the Kitchen Sink Chili.  I also bought garbanzo beans, but upon making it, I realized it already had too much going on and I needed to calm down!  But, hey, that’s the beauty of chili!  Start with one large can of crushed (or better yet, CHUNKY crushed!) tomatoes as “broth” and then decide what veggies and beans you are in the mood for/whatever is cheapest at the market.  I would just make sure to choose at least one bean and at least two veggies, for optimal nutritional value.

Now here are the magic ingredients that go into my Guacamole…

  • 2 avocados
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Lime juice
  • Lemon juice
  • Chili powder
  • Cilantro
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 small tomato
  • 1/2 can of black beans
  • 1/2 can of corn

I would say that the lemon juice is optional, but we had some in the fridge, so why not!  The red onion is also optional, and I secretly hate raw onions anyway, so I regret putting them in, lol.  The black beans and corn were also a surprise because I was planning on putting the entire cans into the chili! But then I thought that they would be perfect add-ins to the guac.  And, again, there was enough going on in my chili.

So here’s what I did.  First, I got the Chili going, since you’ll want it to cook for a while on the stove so all the flavor flaves can marry.  Start by prepping the veggies to be sauteed.  For the sake of time, I shredded the carrot instead of chopping it.  Then, I gave the celery and onion a good choppin (I love chunky vegetables).  For the pepper, I sliced it off the core first and THEN rinsed it.  This saves a few seconds since you will rinse off all the sketchy residue and the seeds at the same time.

Pretty colors!  I got them going in the pot with some olive oil.

Then I squashed in the cloves are garlic, using my best friend: the garlic press!  It’s so much easier and faster than trying to mince up those itty bitty cloves.  Plus, I have a theory that it releases the flavors more intensely(?).  Then, I added in the can of mushrooms and the tofu.  I am a big fan of Nasoya, because it’s organic and, oh yeah, soooo tasty. Though I’ll admit it’s not the cheapest option.

But I mainly chose this one since it’s already cubed and “Super Firm” (yeah, baby ;)).  You could always just buy a regular package of firm tofu and chop or crumble it yourself.  But this was a perfect time saver!  You really don’t need the tofu, anyway (the beans provide protein-a-plenty!).  I would tell you that a more affordable option would be to get some kind of ground meat, but we are being vegan-friendly today!!!

While the veggies and tofu are sauteing in the olive oil, don’t forget to add my secret ingredient

For those of you who have never tried Old Bay, I am very, very sorry for the void you may not know exists in your life.  It’s a blend of celery salt, mustard, red pepper, black pepper, bay leaves, cloves, allspice, ginger, mace, cardamom, cinnamon, and paprika–basically anything you could ever want in your chili.  The only seasonings I added to this chili were copious dashes of Old Bay and a few dashes of chili powder.  It’s all you need to do for a very complex and scrumptious array of flavors.

After you have sauteed everything for about 10 minutes, you can add the rest of the ingredients.  In goes 1 can of chunky crushed tomatoes (this is a double-threat since it adds some “tomato broth” and some nice chunks of tomatoes).

Lookin’ good! Then add a can of kidney beans.  Chili wouldn’t be chili without them, after all!

Then add half a can each of corn and black beans (set the rest aside for the guac!)

Bring it to a boil, and then bring down the heat and let it simmer…

As you get the GUACAMOLE going!

It’s my belief that a party isn’t a party without some guac.  My dad thought he could be really cool and get the pit out with one swift twist of a knife….

As if!  Lol, nice try, Dad.  He did get them out for me, though!  I then spooned all the avocado goodness into a bowl and smoothed out the chunks with a whisk.

I like it nice and smooth.  Then I added lemon and lime juices (to taste), plus a dash of olive oil.  I would add salt here, but since we bought some salty chips, I decided we didn’t need it.  I did add the garlic of course!  And some cilantro.

LOTS of cilantro.  Then I chopped up a small tomato and half the red onion…

Why do I do this to myself?  Lol.  I think I was too excited about the black beans and corn to remember my opinion of raw onions.

How could you not be distracted by those beauties?!  Mix it all together, and what have you got?

Pure vegan heaven…

and I think the chili is about done, too!

I like to eat my chili out of a mug. There’s something so comforting about it.

But I mostly just like it in my belly.

GO STEELERS!

Namaste.

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