A Pear of Smoothies!

Yup pear…hehe…Okay, So!

I’m back, I’m not dead, but I have been justifiably and needlessly busy. Buying a house is a giant time suck. We have seen over 20 houses over the last few weekends. I have looked at hundreds online with listingbook, trulia, and zillow. I have lost countless project, crafting, cooking, and hanging out with friends and family hours to looking up houses and learning about mortgages and loans and down payments and closing costs and escrow. We still haven’t found that perfect home yet, but we have 11 more to look at tomorrow so here’s hoping!

As a sign of good faith and because I was hungry I whipped up two lovely green smoothies, I would have totally shared, but the second one was for Mendal, she was hungry too. 🙂

I love pears, raw, juiced, canned, and apparently in a smoothie! I made a smoothie for two…or a pair of smoothies for us this morning. They were delicious! I think this will be my new go to smoothie for a while, instead of blueberry, banana, kale. Just gaze at that pretty, pretty green color and those pretty fruits and that lovely bagged bag of Trader Joe’s Organic Kale…shoot! I need to buy whole leaf bunches just for photos… 🙂 If you can tear your eyes away from my amazing smart phone picture skills (insert sarcastic tone here) scroll down for the super simple recipe!

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Pear/Kale Smoothies

serves 2

  • 2 Pears (I used Bijou)
  • 1/2 a frozen Banana
  • 2 cups Kale
  • 1 cup Almond milk (I used homemade sweetened with two dates and made using 3/4 cup almonds and 1/4 cup cashews and 8 cups water)

Cut up your pears to get the seeds out, I left the peel on throw everything in the blender then blended and served! I was only able to get a hint of banana, the pears were front and center, and the kale flavor was a no show. Mendal could taste the banana but liked the combo, I might try a bananaless version of this next time. I do typically add a tablespoon of flax seed meal or chica seeds, but this time I wanted a smoother smoothie so I skipped them. In the future, I will be adding flax  for the health benefits.

So go forth and blend up some pears! You won’t be sorry you did. 🙂

Five Things Fri—Saturday

Ok, so this time my Five Things Friday post really is being posted on Saturday. My clock just hit 12:08 AM…This is what happens when I get so excited house hunting I forget to start my post writing! That’s right we are looking to buy a house. Something quaint and cottage with land and trees surrounding it, not street lights and neighbors separated by only a driveway.

Today the Five Things are Five things I have made this week.

1. Donuts.

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Yes! Finally! I found some donut (or doughnut) pans at HomeGoods and scooped them up at a fantastically low price of $3 each. I bought one regular donut pan and one twist long john pan…I have dreams of getting one more of both! For my first Vegan Baked Donut trial I used Chocolate Covered Katie’s “healthy” Kirspy Kreme Baked Doughnut recipe…I will be posting a more detailed post about these beauties soon!

2. Snack Time.

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I’m all about simple and quick snacks, and when they are healthful and yummy all the better! This came about when I was craving Ants on a Stick (Log? however you want to say it). You remember that snack from our childhood…or at least mine! Typically it involves smothering the channel of a celery stalk with peanut butter then topping with a neat row of raisins. This day, my celery was a little on the small side, very narrow…so I mixed raisins into my peanut butter and used it like a dip! I loved how easy (and less messy) this was and still tasted delicious. I have a feeling I will be making a tray with raisin and peanut butter dip at my next party! Uh, I wonder if I could add raisins to my peanuts the next time I make peanut butter!?!?! New idea…to me anyway! Yes, that is my copy of Whole Grain Vegan Baking sitting next to my snack. I was paging through it while chomping on celery, I can’t wait to start making the amazing foods in this book!

3. My Mom’s Yumzetti.

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This is my childhood. My mom hates cooking, so she loved all in one pot meals. Yumzetti in our house meant egg noodles, one can of tomato soup and one can of cream of mushroom soup and a punch of peas and a pound of hamburger cooked in the microwave then added to the finished dish. I loved this dish growing up. A few years ago I made it vegetarian by using Morning Star crumbles, this time I veganized and healthified (yes this is a word in my house) it! Instead of canned soups I made my own using cashews and portobella mushrooms and a can of tomato sauce and tomato paste and instead of “fake” meat I used steamed crumbled tempeh with a little soy sauce. It was yummy and totally filled the craving I had for my mom’s cooking. This recipe may make it onto the blog…but I didn’t really write things down so who knows!

4. Jewelry.

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I’m finally back at my bead table creating shiny, sparkly, pretty pieces of jewelry. I’m loving it! I made these earrings for myself, then loved them so much a made one more pair to sell…Coming to my etsy shop soon!

5. Mendal’s Knobs.

Drawer/Door Knobs that is. She is awesome, I know I have said that before. But really she is so creative and original! This woman has created some truly cool retro looking Star shaped knobs using ice/candy molds and epoxy and star sprinkles (yes edible sprinkles) I will hopefully remember to come back and post a picture…I can’t believe I didn’t snap one this evening when she unveiled them! She made these for her mom’s kitchen, which is yellow, green, blue and red…and her mom’s favorite shape is a Star. She is such a sweet daughter right?

So that is this weeks 5 things! There were other things made In The CatHouse this week…and maybe some will show up as a post before next weeks 5 things. I really need to start a few more themed posts to increase my blogging…maybe a Wednesday post? We shall see!

Five Things Friday

Okay! So Clearly this themed post thing is working to help me post. I have three draft posts waiting to be finished/edited/photos. I also have some posts I want to write but I forgot to take pictures of the food or project and now feel like the post would be pointless…in some cases it’s an excuse to remake them!

Well now, on to this weeks Five Things! Since I went on a mini vacation over the weekend, the 5 things are beach/vacation related. This is going to be a simple list of things I experienced this week, more like a journal entry to help me remember our 2013 beach visit.

1. Dolphins. I saw two of them barely 10 yards from the beach. One much smaller, I watched the mother and calf swim in the shallows near the beach while two others stayed farther out. It was beautiful and serine.

2. Sand. How can I love the feel of it between my toes so much, but hate the feel of it anywhere else! Also how do you get that pretty, lovely, sand out of the carpet in our new car!

3. Antique Malls. I love antiquing, but I wasn’t really impressed with the 2 antique shops and 2 antique malls we visited at our beach destination. Most of the booths and both shops had new items and handcrafted beach themed items. While I have no problem with this stuff, I don’t understand why it is in an antique shop…it seems better suited to a gift shop or farmers market. I was still able to find another wine glass for my set and a few vintage earrings for my collection.

4. Continental Breakfast. I am not one to complain about the lack of vegan cuisine at restaurant or even vegan establishments, but I truly wish that hotels would add more vegan items to their breakfast. Our options were fruit, regular oatmeal, peanut butter, jelly, dry cereal (don’t know what its fortified with), and if were willing to risk it the white hard bagels that are most likely egg and dairy free. Since my sister Miranda and I are attempting to go refined sugar free for a month, we would have been left with only plain oatmeal and fruit…now I know there are millions of hungry people in the world, I should not complain about my lack of options when there is perfectly edible food to be had…but I just can’t help but to feel left out during breakfast at hotels. Which is why this time we packed whole wheat bagels and Trader Joe’s This is Not a Tub of Cream Cheese vegan spread along with fresh kiwis and Trader Joe’s almond milk cartons and a few coconut and almond milk yogurts from Wholefoods. We were “the vegans in the room” at breakfast, making others look on with curiosity as we toasted our delicious bagels and cut up our bright green kiwi and poured our almondy creamy milk. So, yes, I wish hotels offered more non-animal product breakfast items, but by packing food myself, I ended up having a great time at breakfast. I felt satisfied and like I was setting an example or planting a seed simply by  being in the room and eating my vegan foods. It is the first time since going vegan that I didn’t complain or feel annoyed or negative at breakfast in a hotel (I stay at a hotel at least once a month), instead we had a very positive and enjoyable meal.  I had a very Colleen Patrick-Goudreau moment.

5. Nissan Cube. I love our new car. Last December Mendal and I bought a certified pre-owned 2011 Nissan Cube at a local Nissan dealership and we are in love with it! We have always had to rent cars for long trips because our other car is a small Hyundai Accent, Pugsley, without cruise. Now we have a spacious Cube, tons of room on the inside and cute little package on the outside. The day after we bought the Cube we drove all the way to Springfield, IL to see Mendal’s Mom. It was over a 16 hour drive due to stops for food and rest stops. We every hour depended our love for our little Cube and in the months since it has only grown. Now that we have taken her on our first family beach vacation she is truly part of the family. Some how though, she still doesn’t have a name. Pugsley was named when the Accent flipped over to 100,000 miles. We don’t want to wait that long for the Cube…she needs a name ASAP. Despite remaining nameless she made our 5+ hour road trip to the beach very nice, even with all over our clothes, beach chairs, giant beach umbrellas, and coolers of food. The four of us were comfortable and safe thanks to our Nissan Cube (and Mendal’s driving)!

So there you have it, five things from our 2013 family vacation! I had a great time with Mendal (my awesomely, loving and understanding partner), Miranda (my sweet and fun sister, I love seeing the beach/ocean through your eyes), and Patrick (Miranda’s adorable boyfriend who makes every outing that much more interesting and fun). This was our second summer vacation including Patrick and he has been a perfect addition to our family! 🙂

Note to anyone confused by the posting date. I am writing this at 10:30pm on Friday August 2nd. I truly need to start posting in the mornings, but as a hazzard of working 3rd shift this IS my morning as I wake up at 10pm on work days. For some reason my wordpress account has me in a different time zone and I don’t know how to fix it…any direction would be fantastic!

Five Things Fridays

Happy Friday! I am starting a new thing to help me post more regularly. I know other bloggers do 5 thing Fridays, and I just realized it’s a genius way to generate a post when struck by writer’s block or overwhelmed with a back log of items to post.

Today’s Five Things are Five New Recipes I love!

1. Vegan Hot Dogs I followed this recipe to a T from Julie of baked-in.com

2. Vegan Brownies I halved this recipe from Chinmayie of lovefoodeat.com

3. Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies I tweaked this recipe from Kathy of lunchboxbunch.com

4. Vegan and Refined Sugar Free Blueberry Handpies I made up this recipe to be posted soon!

5. Vegan Chickenpea Salad Sandwiches I came up with this recipe also to be posted soon!

So these five things were all created to take on our annual family beach vacation. The family includes me, Mendal, Miranda (my sister mentioned somewhere on here before), and her boyfriend Patrick. Unfortunately, we can’t bring our kittens along, so the cats will rule the house for the next few days!

Let me start out by saying all five things are very good, delicious and made of awesomeness. But, for me, the Hot Dogs are the winners here. I think the Brownies won out according to Mendal and Miranda. And I’m not sure about Patrick’s vote since he hasn’t tried anything yet.

So I encourage you all to visit the blogs above, they are all beautifully created with equally beautiful and delicious food. And I hope you will come back next week for the Blueberry Handpies and Chickpea Salad Sandwich recipes!

Author’s Note: I actually did post this at 11:59pm on Friday the 26th…but for some reason wordpress things I’m in a different time zone where it is 3:59am on the 27th. . .If anyone knows how to change a time zone issue with wordpress I would greatly appreciate the tip!

 

 

Vegetarian to Plant Based, Plant Based to Vegan

The following is a long explanation on where I’ve been lately. The short answer is that I’ve been reading, watching, and soul searching.

Back to the title of this post. The differences might not seem that big to most people, but they are huge to people who go through the changes.

By definition Vegetarians do not eat meat, but there are different types of vegetarians, Mendal and I were Lacto-Ovo Vegetarians. This meant we ate Dairy and Eggs. If you are interested in learning about other types of vegetarians go here.

Then we decided to try going plant based for health reasons. We were eating way too much cheese and simple carbs, we were typical lazy vegetarians eating the American Diet of french fries and cheese covered foods. Going plant based was the best thing we ever did. While I was able to cut dairy out right away, I did eat a few eggs until we ran out of them. Mendal is doing incredibly well, she now only eats cheese and sour cream when we eat out at Mexican or Italian Restaurants, she has hopes of being dairy free eventually, but we all have our own speed of changes. Our home is vegan, with the exception of our kittens’ food there are no animal products or secretions in our home.

I, like many people, became vegetarian because there is no difference to me between my muscles and animal meat. This similarity helped me see that we are all animals, the only true difference to me is that I am a human animal and my cats or the cows and chickens and fishes I ate years ago and most still eat are nonhuman animals. I thought by being vegetarian I was doing my part in ending the suffering. Even after going plant based I still didn’t understand how eating cheese and eggs actually leads to the abuse and eventual death of the cows and chickens who make these foods. I experienced this awakening when I started listening to Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s Podcast Vegetarian Food for Thought because I wanted to learn more about eating plant based. Turns out Colleen’s Podcast tells you more than how to ensure a balanced diet, she also shares the horrifying truths of the dairy and egg industries.

picture from advocacy.britannica.com

For example, I knew the dairy cows had to be pregnant to produce milk, so I knew there were calves born to each one every year. But I had never given thought to what actually happens to those innocent babies! The answer is that the girl calves are doomed to ensure the same fate as their mothers, and the boy calves are housed in small crates for a few months then killed for veal. Veal! So, yes, by buying milk products we are supporting the veal industry. How disturbing is that? If you want to read about this click the calf picture on the right.

picture from advocacy.britannica.com

Colleen also talks about the horrors the chickens who produce eggs live through, even those so called “free range” chickens. For example did you know that in some cases free range simply means the building the chickens are packed into by the thousands has a single window? In other cases it means the cage is a few inches bigger or less crowded. In very few cases, and never at the large production levels, are the chickens literally roaming outdoors in green pastures. While the egg laying chickens’ lives are sad and cruel, the lives of the male or boy chicks are a terrifying nightmare. When chicks are hatched in egg laying chicken hatcheries the baby boys are killed soon after hatching.  The newly born chicks are sorted, the boys are worthless and are literally either thrown into trash bags alive where they suffocate or thrown live into giant meat grinders alive. They are a waste product of the egg industry. Millions of boy chicks are killed every year so you can have your omelet. How is that okay? I know that this knowledge does not sit well with me and has ensured I will never knowingly eat another egg. If you would like to read more on about egg laying hens click the picture of “free range chickens” on the right.

When I became Plant Based, I said I would eat small amounts of dairy when I had no choice. I thought I would be okay eating a cheese pizza every once in a blue moon. I even told one of my sisters I would be eating a piece of her wedding cake with all it’s egg and butter glory. Now after spending the last few weeks listening to Colleen’s Podcast and watching such films as Earthlings and reading tons of websites about what it means to be vegan, I can say with confidence I will never eat a cheese pizza or or traditional cakes. I am no longer simply Plant Based, I am Vegan.

To me the difference between Plant Based and Vegan is intention. Plant Based people want to eat healthier and might also be concerned with their carbon foot print. Both of which are fantastic and commendable reasons to stop supporting the meat and dairy industries. Vegans typically come from a place of compassion, they stop consuming animals and their secretions (to use a term Colleen loves) because they do not wish to harm other living beings. This includes not using leather, silk, wool, or feathers in fashion or home decor or car interiors. From what I have heard and read, Vegans typically put the animals well-being before their healthful diets. Which is why there can be unhealthy vegans, just like when I was vegetarian.

I can be vegan and still eat Oreos! But I can’t eat them if I am plant based, because there is nothing whole foods nor plant based about that processed, refined, overly sweet cookie. Luckily for me I have never like Oreos, so I’m not tempted, but there are still tons of accidentally vegan and purposely vegan products that are bad for you. So I will be doing as Colleen teaches and eating whole foods, plant based because it is healthy and because of my vegan compassion. Though now when I “slip” from plant based foods, I will be having vegan cheese on my pizza and coconut milk ice cream. I no longer allow myself the idea of having cheese again “someday” nor will I be eating my sister’s wedding cake.

This journey has taken me almost exactly 5 years. I became vegetarian in June of 2008, I became plant based in March of 2013, and I became vegan in May 2013. It has been an amazing ride, and I cannot wait to see what this newest destination will bring to my life!

I hope now that the initial drive for vegan and animal rights information has past, I will find time to once again write up some posts. I have my list posted a while ago and I have a bunch of photos of yummy foods I just need to write and edit and post!

Meet the Cats of The CatHouse!

Mendal and I love kittens, and by kittens I mean all ages of the feline! We just seem to always call our cats kittens. Even when they are 15 years old, they are our babies. There are currently 5 kittens living in the CatHouse. Below I have listed them from youngest to oldest with their pictures:

Lincoln, our newest baby is just barely 1 years old and is a Giant! I Love that striped tail!

Lincoln

Lincoln Tail

Gertrude Holiday “Gertie” is our tiny baby kitten, she’s actually 5 years old but so small!

Gertie 3

Gertrude

Eve is the queen bee. . .or so she thinks this ball of grey fur so bad her middle name is Elle. She is around 9 years old.

Linked Chain Necklace Eve

Lilith is the bossiest 12 year old kitten ever, very demanding for love and food and attention!

Lilith

Edwin our crotchety old man is 14 years old, he is a lover and loves Spiderman almost as much as his mommy Mendal!

Ed

I will post more detailed posts about each of our cats in the future, they are all special, individuals with their own interesting stories.

I also will be posting about our beloved fluffy, orange boy Gus, who passed away on December 31st, 2012.

meep in a box

He is missed every day. Just look into his sweet Puss in Boots eyes!

Coconut Curry Tempeh

Coconut Curry Tempeh

I have recently been obsessed with Popcorn Fanatic‘s Coconut Curry Popcorn. First let me say this…I hate popcorn, seriously I get nauseated at movie theaters because of the smell of freshly popped popcorn. I also detest the smell of microwave popcorn at home. My three younger sisters and Mendal all love popcorn. I first went to Popcorn Fanatic dragging my heals complaining about the smell. This place is a locally owned shop that specializes in a bazillion flavors of popcorn, they also have fudge, truffles and specialty cakes, but popcorn is their main focus. I remember as a child loving that nasty orange hot cheese popcorn you could only find in gas stations. So, I tried Popcorn Fanatics hot cheese. . .wasn’t as good as I remembered, theirs was much too cheesy, then I tried their buffalo wing and that was it! That hot cheese popcorn I loved as a kid must not have contained much cheese!

Needless to say, I was hooked. Then one day when buying Mendal her Chicago Mix (cheese and caramel popcorn) and my buffalo wing, I saw a new flavor that sounded interesting. Coconut Curry. I tried it and then purchased a bag, it almost didn’t make it home! So, short story longer, I have been hooked on coconut curry and have pinned a recipe for vegan coconut curry from The Kind Life (if you haven’t read it yet Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet is awesome).

Now to the point of this post: While grocery shopping at my local Harris Teeter I stumbled upon Turtle Island Foods Tempeh Coconut Curry flavored. If you have not yet tried this Tempeh, or any of the other flavors, you need to! I baked some at work, since I don’t have access to a stove, and chopped up 3 pieces and threw it on top some brown rice, drizzled with Kimmon Organic Soy Sauce. Then I grabbed two of my cut up carrots I brought as a raw snack sliced them up added some water and microwaved them for 2 minutes, I drained them and threw them in with the rice and tempeh. It was so good and easy for a quick lunch at work. Would be easier to have all the parts prepared at home, but some of the best tasting lunches come together on the fly! I so want to make my own homemade coconut curry tempeh. . .possible future post? Maybe. . .no promises!

Coconut Curry Tempeh 2