Monday, February 22, 2010

Travel: Road Trip Provisions

Two vegans, driving in a car, through the deep south, for 40 hours... they have to eat something on the road, right?

How did we do it? On the way to Florida (our nonstop 20 hour drive there) we packed a hefty reusable grocery bag with plenty of snacks. We're also money (and time) savers, so we tried to bring as much of our own stuff as possible (caffeine included).
  • Apples & Tangerines
  • Mixed Nuts
  • PB & Jelly Sammies
  • 2 Tupperwares of leftover Spaghetti from the night before
  • 1 box of Chai Tea, and 1 box of unsweetened Soy Milk (to mix in our thermoses)
  • 1 Tupperware of "Texas Caviar" mixed bean salad (from Costco).
  • 1 large bottle of water (in a reusable steel bottle)
  • 1/2 bag of dark chocolate chips!
  • green tea
  • organic baby carrots.
  • cucumber (i love it!)

 Those goodies kept us well fed, and fueled for our cross-country roadtrip and then some. On the way home we luckily broke up the long drive with a two-night stay in New Orleans to site-see and reconnect with an old buddy from my childhood. One that first leg back we had:
  • More mixed nuts
  • 1 Tupperware of Jason's homemade salsa we brought with us (too spicy for his fam!)
  • 1 bag of organic blue corn chips
  • 1 bag of fresh Florida citrus
  • the rest of what we still hadn't eaten (some apples, choco chips, and tangerines).
  • the rest of the chai/soy milk from our original boxes.
Since we weren't coming from our own house and pantries, we did have to stop into a gas station or two for a few more snacks... those were:
  • mixed nuts, sunflower seeds (shelled)
  • one truck stop that had (vegan) french fries.
  • bottles of smart water.
  • filled our thermos with hot water and made a large batch of strong loose pearl green tea!
  • and though we didn't buy them, gas stations also tend to carry luna bars, and cliff bars (both vegan- all flavors).

Travel: Florida Oranges

One of our favorite parts about staying in Florida with our relatives in Saint Petersburg, was their amazing, fresh citrus trees right outside their front door. Every morning we picked, squeezed and drank fresh Orange and Grapefruit Juice. It was exactly what my immune system needed to kick the horrible flu/cold I got after our first day of 20 hours straight on the road. yummm. Luckily they gave us a bag of a dozen oranges to take home, and I've made my own OJ to start the day right since we've been back. I will be sad when that bag finally is empty. What a luxury to have your own fruit trees, so tasty.

Travel: New Orleans Dinner

The one night that we took our hosts out to eat somewhere special was so tasty I forgot to take photos of all our dishes before devouring them. We ate at an Indian Restaurant by our friend's house (that they hadn't tried yet) called, Taj Mahal.

What was great about this place, was that printed on the menu it said (pictured below that you probably cant read haha), "Items with *are vegan friendly upon request" AWESOME! I love it when restaurants know what vegan means, and make my menu traversing experience easier (and without as many questions for sometimes confused servers).

Here's the one pic of the veggie, lentil soup we ordered, and unfortunately I forget what my husband ordered, but I ordered a HUGE plate that was one LARGE Vegan Dosa. I passed the plate around to everyone to get a bite because it was MUCH larger than I had expected, and was so yummy. Here's the only pic I took of our food the spicy soup (because we were too eager to eat everything else!).

I highly recommend this place, though it is a bit on the pricier side. Read more reviews here.

Travel: New Orleans Lunch

So many people were curious to see what as vegans, my husband and I would eat during our time in New Orleans. We were lucky enough to stay in a house with some very accommodating hosts, but the time that we were out and about in the city was also (perhaps) surprisingly easy to cater to our dietary restrictions.

Before we entered the city I referred to the trusty Happy Cow website to view a list of veg-friendly places.

We spent one entire day walking around the French Quarter and started out with soy lattes at a cute coffee shop off of Decatur called En Vie. These days its pretty easy to find soy milk at just about any coffee shop, which makes it super easy for lattes and cappuccino fixes.

For Lunch we already had our hearts and tastebuds set on Bennachin, the African restaurant on Royal street (listed on Happy Cow), and we were SO happy that we ate there! Look at our plates, yummm!

I forget what exactly we ordered, but both were off of the vegetarian section of the menu, and completely made vegan. We shared a spicy vegetable soup, and shared a plate of Black-Eyed-Peas, with fried Plantains and Rice, and also a plate of spicy Rice and Veggies with Spinach. We both drank AMAZING ginger drinks, that were super spicy and helped recharge my system (I was battling a cold, and it soothed my belly and throat). We were definitely well fed, and if we ever go back to NOLA, we will definitely eat there again.

Travel: Southern Hospitality, NOLA

One of the most pleasant parts of my husband and my recent road trip through the South, was our two-night stay in New Orleans. We stayed with an old friend of mine from my hometown (we met in PreSchool, and graduated High School together, as many small towns boast this incredible social history with locals). Rose and her husband were incredibly generous, and we had lots of fun with their five-year old boy Luke too! What was beyond our expectations was the amazing homemade vegan food!

After 10 hours of driving out of Florida to reach them (our half-way mark from FL to TX), Rose had a delicious pot of her infamous, "Beans n' Greens" soup hot on the oven for us, with thick slices of bread (wrapped in a warm towel), earth balance butter, and vegan "bacon" bits. She used white beans, and turnip greens, and it was absolutely amazing. We also drank Abitas, the LA local brew, and it was extremely lovely after such a long day on the road.

After we ate these yummy warm bowls, she also served all of us pineapple coconut sorbets (that they usually eat, and just so happen to be vegan!). YUM! Of course, the next night we took them out to a fancy Indian dinner for our appreciatation (look for details in another post).

To top off the southern hospitality, the morning before we drove out the rest of the way back home to Austin, Rose served us a slice of her HOMEMADE vegan apple pie (her tried and true recipe from her mother is naturally vegan!) that she baked while we were there. She even made me a soy latte to help me rev up for my first leg of the drive home!

We were definitely treated like guests of honor, and were absolutely spoiled rotten. We love the Sevin Family! Luckily my husband Jason was able to earn our luxurious keep by helping Rose's husband Ronnie troubleshoot some of his computer problems, and retrieved some of his "lost" files (I love having a techy hubby!). All in all, a great visit, and so fun to reconnect with old friends who may not be vegan, but sure know how to accommodate us vegheads!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Travel: Eating out in Florida

Though Vegetarian Restaurants in St. Pete are scarce, perhaps some do exist... did we go to them? No! Haha, it was a week to spend time with our realatives, and what the grandparents wanted was to eat at their Country Club and other American Restaurants, which was what we did. It was great to spend time together and believably or not, we did find something we could eat (though all times OFF of the menu).

We did end up having to eat a lot of french fries, and salad... but My favorite, was the sour dough Vegan Panini's that were prepared for us in Spinner's (a top story, rotating, circular restaurant with 360 degrees of beautiful beachy views). Perhaps because they also had a mixed drink on their menu called the, "Zombie" (our dog's name). Naturally I had to order one (it too was vegan).

The important thing, is when there is nothing on the menu but fish, poltry, and meat, ASK the servers if they can accommodate your restrictions ( I always say, "Severe Dairy Allergies, no meat, fish, eggs, milk, or butter" because sometimes you say you're vegan in these places and they offer you Shrimp).

It also helped that we stayed with relatives in their house, with a full kitchen. And boy did they put us to work! Even though we were the ones cooking dinner for everyone every night (taco salads, enchiladas-1/2 that were vegan we made, quinoa salad-we put our aunt to work to give us some help! that night were were cooking for eight, BBQ veggies with vegan sausage, vegan chocolate mousse, and primavera spaghetti...), we were just thankful to have full bellies, with more nutrition than fried potatoes. Having access to a kitchen definitely helps when you're vegan, no matter where you are.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Travel: Vegan Dinner for the Grandparents.

This week my husband and I have been out of town, visiting his grandparents, aunt and uncle, and great aunt and uncle in Florida. We drove out here (19 hours in the car, we did it all in one day) with a backseat full of vegan snacks to keep us fed while on the road. Lots of fruit (apples/oranges), Veggies (cucumber/baby carrots), a couple tuperwares of left over pasta, and bean salad, a couple PB&J's, and of course a few boxes of chai and unsweetened soy milk to mix in our thermos to keep us going!


Haven't had much time to post this week, so I'm sure when I'm back in Texas I'll post more then... Last night Jason and I made dinner for eight, when our grandparents came over to eat, with his great uncle and wife, at his aunt and uncle's (where we've been staying). They wanted BBQ, and to be honest we've never done BBQ before, but since we were told we were the cooks we just dove in and did our best. It actually turned out pretty good!

We started making a Quinoa salad to go with with our roasted veggies and tufurky soysage, and thankfully aunt Lucy jumped in to help us finish it off because people were getting hungry.

For dessert, I whipped up some of my favorite Vegan Chocolate Mousse, and we had some delicious fresh strawberries to serve with it. We only had a hand beater to blend it, (rather than my "motor boat" hand-held puree blender,) but it turned out alright. And was great to have everyone eat a full vegan meal! They liked the soysage too, it was fun! (no chocolate for you Chase!).

... excuse my absence, busy week... more to come)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Events: Puppy Bowl VI

I've never been a big sports fan, but the last six years I've looked forward to super bowl sunday for one reason, and one reason alone. THE PUPPY BOWL!!! Hours upon hours of puppies playing in a mini football stadium.

Last night I gathered with a couple of girl friends around a couple bowls of vegan snacks (herb-flavored pita chips, tortilla chips, bean dip and tuffutti sour cream dip, and some girl scout cookies- thanks-a-lot, daisy go rounds, and the lemon ones are all vegan- though still junk food) with cheap mixed drinks and a complete PUPPY OVERLOAD. This year they had bunny cheerleaders, a hamster blimp for aerial views, and of course the kitten half time show. All the pups and kittens are shelter animals up for adoption and I'm sure after the puppy bowl all of them find forever homes.

Oh right, and GO SAINTS! I'll always cheer for the underdogs :)

and if you didn't get enough from those videos, here's another link with the hammies cam up above too

Friday, February 5, 2010

Fashion: Writer

New place I'll be writing! I just joined a team of creative, eco-conscious folks over in England. I will be covering beauty and fashion (from a vegan/sustainable perspective) for the UK based Online Magazine, La Luminata (sustainable design and trends).

The hardcopy print magazine is also premering in March, and will feature each of the contributors with a photo and bio! Check out the about page here, and see if you recognize the writer at the end:

Yeah! :) The More places I can write/get published the better, and I'm really looking forward to contributing to this cool zine! More info, and links to articles I've written coming soon...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Health: The Dirt, or rather, The Sugar.

Remember my post about the arguments against Agave Nectar? Well turns out that it is no better, AND no worse than table sugar, or corn syrup (not to be confused with HIGH FRUCTOSE corn syrup, more on that at the end of this post) as far as empty calories- calories with no nutritional value go.

Interestingly enough, my intuitive apprehension of the study, with Brown Rice Syrup's funding the "harms of Agave" research was in fact confirmed. Though Agave was no better or worse than Table Sugar or plain cooking Corn Syrup, Brown Rice Syrup has actually slightly less nutritional value than Agave Nectar and Regular Sugar. So what sweetener, SHOULD we be using?

According to the latest research, and the hard work of Dr. Michael Greger, M.D., in The Humane Society of the United States Optimum Nutrition Recommendations for 2009 DVD, titled, "Latest in Clinical Nutrition, 2009" the following comparison is made to the following sweeteners:

Nutritional Value of Sweeteners:
Sweet Antioxidants (FRAP ferric reducing antioxidant power umol/per serving) 
The higher the number the more packed with nutrition, and better for you the sweetener is:

Brown Rice Syrup 1 (emptiest sweetner)
Agave Nectar 2
White Table Sugar 2
Corn Syrup 2
Maple Syrup 9
Honey 28
Turbinado Sugar 41
Raw Cane Sugar 47
Light Brow Sugar 102
Dark Brown Sugar 195
Blackstrap Molasses 1,103
Date Sugar 1,300 - (most nutritious, healthiest)

According to the latest research (up to date), Date Sugar is the best, most nutritious way to sweeten your foods. That is because Date sugar is whole dried dates pulverized into a powder, and the only sweetener in the list above that is a whole food. Molasses comes in close second. Date Sugar however also contains a lot of fiber (like all whole fruit and veggie foods, and is great for you, your digestion, and to prevent diverticulitis down the road), but it does have a thickening effect. Because of this, date sugar is great for baking, and smoothies, though some people may not like mixing into their teas (unless you like drinking thick tea).

Also interesting in the sugar segment of this Research DVD, was the results of several no-calorie, sweeteners to see if any were harmless (though containing no nutrition, so not doing any good for you either). It turns out that just about all of the artificial sweeteners (including equal, sweet n' low, and yes even splenda) were of course harmful; however, erythritol ("Z Sweet"- which is also found naturally in pears, melons and grapes) was found to be harmless (not bad for you, but also not good for you). Perhaps a better sweetener for your tea?
Stevia, (for those of you wondering) has grown in recent popularity and is still being heavily researched. It is inconclusive whether it is harmful or harmless (though it is certain that it isn't helpful, or necessarily good for you), perhaps we'll know next year.

And finally, what I found most disturbing and disgusting, was the fact that High Fructose Corn Syrup (which we already know is one of the evilest of sweeteners), has a reliable tendency to be contaminated with MERCURY! Out of 50 various food and beverage products tested, all containing HFCS, 30% were contaminated with Mercury, and of those, 60% of the dairy products tested were contaminated.

While the maxium EPA daily dose of mercury is 5.5 micrograms, women of child baring age can consume HFCS products containing 28.5 micrograms on a DAILY basis. Remember how I said that I feel like High Fructose Corn Syrup is "okay" in moderation? I take that back, I by all means didn't realize the severity of HFCS's toxicity. ICK.


I highly recommend this DVD series. I won the DVD sets from 2009, 2008, and 2007 at the first monthly Austin Vegan Drinks Night! and really look forward to watching them all the way through. There is a lot of information packed into an easily digestible (pun intended) informative format, that anyone can follow and learn a lot from. I'm sure there will be many more posts sharing more info as I watch the other chapters in the coming days :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Health: Vegan Mothers, Babies, Children

My husband and I are doing our research in preparations to start expanding our human family. As a vegan I have come across the following resources showing the health benefits of vegan babies, children and pregnant mommies through the VRA! forum, and my own internet researching.

It looks like the most important vitamins that mommys to be should be sure to get enough of are B12, and folic acid... I found this multi for vegans:

We are also looking into having a natural, at home, water-birth, if when we get pregnant I am not in risk of any complications. Water birth is growing in popularity and more suited for the comfort of the mother and baby, putting them in a warm, relaxing bath that soothes muscles and the body while relieving tension and stresses that make childbirth more painful and a longer process. 

Water birth resources here: 

Here's a video that I find incredibly beautiful and inspiring 
(though perhaps graphic, so you are warned):

We're getting excited with our potential prospects for a baby in the coming year or two! Look at all these cuties!

Monday, February 1, 2010

New Additions to Blog

I just added two side bars. Two lists of favorite links, one for my favorite "fancy"/date-night type dining spots, and another one for places I like to go for casual/low-key dining.

Anyone have any other contributions of favorite vegan/veg or vegan friendly places to eat?