Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Backyard Chickens in Albany, NY?

Almost three weeks ago, the "All Over Albany" blog had an entry called "Changing Albany's Chicken Laws."  A couple in downtown Albany are trying to change a nine-year-old law that bans the keeping of "farm" animals, including chickens, in the city of Albany.  The couple in question had been keeping chickens in their backyard for ten years and had been unaware of the law until code-enforcement officers showed up at their house.  The chickens now live at the Albany Free School, which is next door to the couple and is allowed to keep chickens under an "educational" variance.

The article lays out a "case" in favor of chickens and one against them.  However, the "against" segment focuses only on the potential "nuisance" factor--neighbors who don't want the smell or sound of chickens next door.  No one says a word about the ethics of animal use.  In fact, one of the comments contains the following.
Owning domestic animals for the purpose of harvest is not like owning a dog or cat or ferret. The moral contract is different -- though no less solemn -- but not everyone understands it. Those hens will age and at some point need butchering. Do you know how to do that? Maybe there'll be a guy at the farmers market to help. Still, expect a Chickens' Rights movement. Really.
"Need" butchering?  Really?  And then he's incredulous about a "chickens' rights" movement. Oh, those wacky "animal" folks, caring about chickens having rights.  Yes, as a matter of fact, I believe that chickens have the right not to be used or eaten.  I believe that non-human animals are not ours to use.

I also saw a local-news feature on the couple who want to go back to keeping chickens.  They seem nice; I'd expect them to be fellow travelers on lots of issues, such as sustainability.  But this part distresses me:
For Jen and Mike, keeping them increases their own self sufficiency and helps teach their kids where their food comes from. "We involve our kids in cleaning the coop and getting the eggs. You know, people are so far removed from where the food comes from. The only thing they carry is salmonella, and all you need is a little education about washing your hands and washing the eggs."
It saddens me that they are perpetuating in their children the idea that animals are ours to use and that they need to consume animal products.  (As an aside, I am glad that we decided against sending my son to the Albany Free School, which we had considered.  I really hate that they keep chickens.  Not only do I disagree with the message they are sending to their students, but as the parent of an egg-allergic child, I can only imagine the place to be a nightmare of cross-contamination.)  I am teaching my son the opposite.

When I first read about this initiative, I did some searching online regarding advocacy against the backyard chicken movement.  I found this from Farm Sanctuary*, but I was concerned that the message contained in their linked position statement was a little contradictory, in that it contained a part about adopting birds and making sure it is legal to do so in your area. Oppose the movement but make sure it's legal?

I wish the people pushing for backyard chickens wanted to keep them as "animal friends," as the wonderful Jay Wontdart of the "Coexisting with Nonhuman Animals" blog does.  Just check the cuteness of his "chicken" videos.

A question that I've seen come up:  If you keep chickens as companion animals, and they lay eggs anyway, what's wrong with eating the eggs?   Here's the thing.  Laying hens are mutants.  They were bred to lay ridiculous amounts of eggs--more than any equivalent wild bird ever would.  That output is terrible for them physically.  They are susceptible to osteoporosis and ovarian cancer, among other problems.  To help mitigate against such health problems, Farm Sanctuary feeds the eggs back to the chickens:
This dramatically increased egg production is very demanding on the birds’ bodies, using up a lot of nutrients, particularly calcium, which is used to build shells. At Farm Sanctuary, shelter staff collect eggs daily, hard boil them, smash them up (shells and all), and feed them back to the hens to help restore lost nutrients, especially the calcium, which is in the shells. Lack of calcium leads to broken bones, osteoporosis and formation of shell-less eggs (which can be fatal) so it is essential for the health of the birds, especially those rescued from factory farms, to consume the eggs. And, as Susie points out, “It sounds odd to a lot of people, but it is actually not far removed from their natural behavior, as wild chickens will eat broken eggs so they don’t attract predators. Chickens will also naturally eat their own eggs if they are calcium deficient.”
Can you imagine how fiercely the backyard chicken proponents would balk if the ban were lifted but included a stipulation that the eggs had to be fed back to the chickens?

On December 6, there will be a Common Council meeting where comments about this issue will be heard.  I encourage Albany vegans to contact their Common Council members to share their anti-use perspective.  For more information about Common Council, and to find your member, visit hereUpdate: In case you are not sure which ward you are in, ward maps are here. This page has a list of Common Council members listed by ward on the left-side menu.

*While I applaud the work Farm Sanctuary does in rescuing and caring for animals, I have misgivings about their support for single-issue "welfarist" campaigns--those that ultimately give a stamp of approval to certain types of use and slaughter, thus making people feel more comfortable with their exploitation.  See the "Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach" site and the "Humane Myth" site.

Vegan MoFo 30th and Final Day: Chocolate and Persistance

A week ago, I blogged  about chocolate as food for thought--and specifically my son's belief that a dose of good vegan chocolate helps him think/get ideas.  Well, he used up what I had left of the chocolate my wonderful yoga instructor gave us, so I made some of my own over the Thanksgiving break.  I didn't measure out the ingredients, but the proportions were roughly equal parts Dutch cocoa, agave syrup, and coconut oil.  Because the cocoa is roasted, my version is not 100% raw, but still pretty close.  What I did was blend the ingredients in a bowl, pour the mixture into a chocolate mold that I have (it makes little heart-shaped candies), and pop the mold into the freezer.  The results were tasty but not beautiful, as the chocolates did not come out of the mold cleanly.  Clearly, I need to experiment more.  Also, I think I'll try a bit less agave next time.  You'll almost never hear me say (or see me write) that something is too sweet.  I'm the girl who wants the corner piece of cake because it has more frosting and who finds the cake itself a bit on the bland side much of the time.  But these were a bit too sweet even for me and my sweet tooth.  But not so much so that I don't still like them.  :)

So....  Last day of MoFo.  I'm proud of myself for having blogged something for all but one of the days this month.  Before signing up for MoFo, my use of this blog was sporadic at best, and now that I'm in the habit, I think I'll keep posting here fairly regularly (though probably not every day).  I'm inspired by many awesome vegan bloggers out there who post thoughtful essays and beautiful recipes.  I know I'm not in their league by a long shot, but they give me something to aspire to.  Thanks, guys!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 29: Me and my food issues

Being the only vegan at work, I find people tend to be curious about what I'm eating.  I'm learning not to go into defensive mode when this happens--not to assume that as soon as I answer the "what are you having" question, my interlocutor will respond with an "Ew, gross."  More often than not, people tell me that what I'm having looks really good. 

So why do I get defensive and expect a negative reaction?  Well, that can be traced back to my K-12 days.  When my mother used to pack me a cheese sandwich on whole wheat, with alfalfa sprouts or mung beans (obviously this was long before my vegan days).  Somehow, it would happen right after I had taken a big bite out of my sandwich, so my mouth was full and I couldn't answer.  "What's THAT?!"  ::sigh::  How I hated this.  Chew, chew, chew, chew, chew.  Swallow.  Answer.  Response, "EW!"  Gah, I still get upset thinking back on this.

Adding on to the self-consciousness I got that way was a separate self-consciousness that came along with my getting extremely overweight.  I hated to eat in public because I always felt as if people were watching the fat person eat....  Gawking.  Judging.  Sometimes they actually were (one of the things that sucked about being fat!), though a lot of the time, I was just being self-conscious.

So I have my "food" issues.  Enough for a life-time subscription.  And those negative feelings flood back into me when someone asks me what I'm eating.  But I am learning to set aside the assumption that the person plans to criticize or judge.  I am learning to relax, smile, and respond.  And I am relieved at the positive responses I get.  Which reminds me how important it is for vegans to be seen enjoying our delicious vegan foods.  We're the ambassadors.  :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 28: Food You Can't Seem to Keep in Stock

Is there a food that you can't seem to keep in stock in your house--no matter how frequently you buy it or how much you buy at a time?  For us, it's bananas!  I love them and definitely contribute to their erosion, but the family member who SLAMS them?  Our son.  Yup, the one who's seven.  I sometimes watch in amazement at the way this boy puts away food.  And the bananas--I just see them vanishing before my very eyes.  Do you have a food like that in your house?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 27: My Lazy Lunch

Lazy because it's just from items already cooked or available, waiting for me in the fridge.  My typical M.O.!  This time, it's cauliflower, collard greens, beets, olives, and brown rice.  After snapping the pic, I added nutritional yeast and soy sauce and blending it all into a mish-mash.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 26: Experiment Later and Pudding Meanwhile

When I'm feeling less lazy, I'll try my experimental squash pies I was planning on.  I did make the pudding that I'd planned to use as a filling, but...  well, I'm feeling lazy.  Too lazy to run almonds and dates through a food processor to form crusts for my little pies.  Yeah, I know, that's pretty lazy.  So I'm just eating the pudding as pudding.  Here's what I used:

1 15-oz can of pureed squash
1 can's worth of organic plain soy milk (filled the squash can after emptying out the squash because I wanted an equal volume of squash and soy milk)
.25 c. white chia seeds
.25 c. agave syrup
cinnamon, allspice, and ginger to taste
dash of vanilla
dash of salt

Mixed up in a blender and then poured into a container and let it set in the fridge for around 24 hours.  If I make this again, I'll probably double the agave--I just tend to like things a bit sweeter!  Anyway, it tastes pretty good.  No picture, because it's kind of pale and disappointing-looking.  ;)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 25: Pretty Food

One of the things that impresses me about many vegan food blogs is the beautiful presentation.  This is something I admire and, more often than not, fail at!  This is my attempt to pretty up my vanilla chia pudding.  :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 24: My Next Experiment

I've been thinking about trying another experiment.  I'll use muffin tins to make little pies.  Crust will be an almond/date blend, and filling will be a squash-chia pudding I make up.  It could be an incredible failure, but I want to find out.  Tomorrow, I think I will. :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 23: Almond Date Bars

These are my version of Lara Bars.  I've seen lots of similar recipes, but I've tweaked the proportions a bit to my own liking.

2 cups sliced, unroasted almonds
2 cups dried, pitted dates
cinnamon (to taste)

optional: dried, unsweetened coconut

Add the almonds to your food processor first. Sprinkle on cinnamon—I usually just do a thin band of it, about an inch wide, all around the top of the almonds. If using coconut, follow the same procedure adding a “coconut” layer. Process the almonds into a coarse powder, and then add the dates. Process until well incorporated. Remove the mixture from the processor and knead into a dough. Press into a foil-lined bread pan, fold the foil over the top, and use a flat surface (such as the bottom of a second bread pan) into the top to press and form.

Remove from pan, open the foil, and cut into desired size and shape. I either form into bars and wrap in foil, or cut into squares and drop them into a container. They can be fridged or frozen.

If you're in a chocolatey mood, you can replace the cinnamon with two tablespoons of Dutched cocoa. Sprinkle in some ground cayenne pepper if you like a little background bite to the flavor. Usually if I do the chocolate option, I find I need to add a very small amount of water to the mixture when I'm processing it.  (Carob also works very well.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 22: Chocolate as Food for Thought?

Last week, I blogged about the raw vegan chocolate my yoga instructor shared with me.  This past weekend, my son told me that the chocolate helps him think and get ideas.  When I mentioned this to my husband, he said that there might be something to it.  After all, after having had some of the chocolate Friday morning, our son had done exceedingly well on his math test.  So maybe there's something to it.  We'll try a small dose of raw vegan chocolage in the mornings and see if it continues to provied food for thought. :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 21: Chili Recipe

I keep meaning to post my husband's vegan chili recipe--promised days and days ago!

Vegan Chili
2 large onions, chunked, boiled until translucent
5-6 large portobello mushrooms
5-6 large red peppers
1 lb (dry) kidney beans, precooked (yields)
1 lb (dry) barley
2 large cans crushed tomatoes
Approx. 1/2 cup chili powder (we use unsalted)

Cook all the above on low heat until the barley is soft.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 20: I like big salads and I will not lie!

Lunch!  Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cukes, parsley, scallions, red peppers, artichoke hearts, green olives, beets, and balsamic vinegar.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Vegan MoFo 19: MacGyver Smoothie

As I was approaching my office building this morning, it occurred to me that I had no idea what I would blog about for MoFo today.  Then, as I was climbing the stairs to my floor, I realized with a panic that I had forgotten to pack my pre-run smoothie.  Last night, I made a double batch, so I'd have one for last night's speedwork run and another for my noon "easy" run today.  But when I packed up my lunch for today, I failed to pack my smoothie.  ::sob::

We have a little newsstand/convenience store in my building, so I devised a plan for a replacement smoothie.  I keep soymilk in our shared office fridge, and we have a blender in our kitchen.  So I thought I'd buy a banana and also a trail mix so I could mine some dates for the smoothie.  Then, a terrible thought as I approached the store:  it's Friday!  More often than not, they are out of bananas come Friday.  And sure enough:  As I entered the store, I saw there were no bananas.  My next thought was that maybe I could find a replacement ingredient that would allow me to MacGyver a smoothie.

The shelves and the drink case were not promising.  But then I thought of the frozen-dessert case.  FrozFruit!  Some flavors are vegan and some are not, so I hoped for the best and had a look.  Luckily, there were strawberry FrozFruits.  I checked the ingredients to be extra sure, and while it passed the "vegan" test, unfortunately it did contain HFCS.  But the only other possible option was strawberry Italian ice--and that didn't even contain any strawberry or other actual fruit.  So I decided to go with the less-than-optimal FrozFruit.  Next, I picked up a tropical trail mix. Not only did it have dates, but it also had dried, shredded coconut--a partial replacement to my usual coconut oil.

So I mined some dates, coconut flakes, a few pineapple pieces, and sunflower seeds from the trail mix.  I put them in a container and soaked them in my usual mix of soymilk and water (.5 cup of each).  I tucked that away in the fridge and allowed the FrozFruit to thaw for a little over an hour and then stashed it in the fridge to avoid total liquefication.

Smoothie-making time arrived about 2.5 hours later.  I assembled the ingredients in the blender, mixed them up, then added my usual four ice cubes and ground them in, as well.

The smoothie ended up tasting pretty good, though sweeter than what I'm used to.  I did find that I was getting a bit of an odd aftertaste/repeating-on-me effect for maybe 15 minutes after having the smoothie, but that didn't last, fortunately.  And my run went well, too.

That was more drama than I'd prefer to have surrounding my pre-run fuel, but the upside is that my smoothie for Sunday's long run is already made.  Plus, I had something to blog about today.  :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 18: Raw Vegan Yogi Chocolate

My wonderful yoga instructor, a vegan and Jivamukti teacher, does an annual Halloween class called Spooky Jivamukti.  I didn't get a chance to go this year, but he was kind enough to share with me the leftover raw vegan chocolate he'd made for the class.  He uses raw cacao, coconut oil, and agave.  Some of the chocolates also have acai or goji berries, and some have a bit of cayenne pepper.

My son is a big fan of these raw vegan chocolates, and as soon as I came through the door after yoga last night, his eagle eyes zoomed in on the foil-wrapped choccies in the mesh side pocket of my messenger bag.  He asked me what I'd brought home.  It took me a moment to realize he'd spotted the treats and guessed what they were.  :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 17: Veggie Mix = What's for Dinner

Steamed cabbage, carrots, celery, and onions + baked potato + brown rice + olives + artichoke hearts + nutritional yeast + soy sauce

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 14: Chia Pudding

I'm semi-addicted to vanilla chia pudding.  It's so quick and easy, it's nearly instant.  I mix .25 cup of white chia seeds with 2/3 cup plain organic soy milk, a sprinkle of cinnamon, a bit of sugar, and vanilla extract in a sealed container, give it a few swirls, and let it sit for half an hour.  Then, stir and enjoy.  My only problem is that no sooner have I eaten it than I want to make more.  :) 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 13: Artichoke Hearts!

My seven-year-old, an ardent fan of dill pickles, discovered just yesterday that he also loves marinated artichoke hearts.  Now it's "artichoke heart, please?"  Over and over again.  :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 11: Smoothie Fail

Since I'm off from work today, I was able to run whenver I felt like it--which today turned out to be around three this afternoon.  I couldn't make my usual pre-run smoothie because we're out of bananas.  We have several mangoes, though, so I thought subbing mango for banana in my smoothie would be a good use.
You know when you peel a mango, and it's got that beautiful shade of orange, along with a silky texture and sweet smell that tells you you're about to have one of the best foods in the world?  Well, this mango turned out to be almost the exact opposite of that.  I don't know if I'm just no good at judging mango ripeness from the "give" of its skin or whether this was just destined to be a disappointing mango, but it was a stringy, pastel yellow with little flavor.  Boo.

But I was not to be daunted.  I followed the same basic recipe I usually do, but used 1 cup sliced mango instead of the banana, then increased the number of dates from 3 to 4 and the amount of agave from .5 T to 1 T, hoping to compensate for the blandness of the mango.  It didn't work.  It just tasted kind of--like nothing.  I was originally planning to include of picture of it here, but it looked so pale and sad, I thought it would depress people.  ;)

In any event, my run was not disappointing, so all was not lost.  And if I can't get ahold of a banana for tomorrow's run, I'll use some of the frozen mixed berries I have in the freezer.

Edit:  I forgot to mention that I also left the carob out from the smoothie, as I figured it wouldn't be compatible with the mango.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 10: Compulsive Recipe Tagging!

I subscribe to a large array of vegan blogs via Google Reader, and whenever I see a recipe that looks good and whose ingredients and prep instructions are sufficiently non-intimidating, I tag the entry for later use.  At this point, I must have at least a recipe-book's worth of recipes tagged.  The crazy thing is I can count on one hand, with fingers to spare, the recipes I've actually followed through on.  I clearly am more enamored with the idea of making all these great dishes than with putting the time and energy into actually making them.  However, I keep telling myself I WILL, at some point, get my kitchen groove on.

But meanwhile, I confess, I peruse the blogs and get a vicarious thrill from the vegan food pr0n.  I am especially partial to the cupcakes, brownies, and the raw desserts.  In that respect, it's probably for the best that my follow-through is so poor.  If I made and ate every beautiful vegan dessert that catches my eye and earns my "recipe" tag, I'd surely gain at least ten pounds! 

Anyone else out there in vegan blogland who is more of a food spectator?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 9: Breakfast Club

My son and I have a morning "breakfast" ritual my husband dubbed "the breakfast club" (though I'm not sure whether he had the 1980s John Hughes "brat pack" movie classic in mind when he did).  We sit together at the kitchen table and have oatmeal, though ever since he saw Oliver Twist, my son insists on calling it "porridge."  He finds it reassuring to know that if he wants "more," he can have it.  As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I make the oatmeal with nutritional yeast, ground flax, cinnamon, and applesauce.

Even in the summer, when he could at least in theory sleep all day, my son wanted me to wake him up when I got up for work, lest he miss breakfast club.   

Monday, November 8, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 8: Food as Fuel

Something rattling in my head right now is the idea of viewing food as fuel.  It's something that's inevitably come out of my training for distance runs/races, and I'm contemplating the difference in mindset from dieting/weight loss/calorie burn.  Thinking of food as fuel leads me to consider what purpose different foods serve and how my body actually uses them.  On the other hand, I'm still interested in dropping a bit of weight--a combination of "vanity" and "performance" motives.  Objectively, I'm already slim--my usual clothing sizes are 4/6, depending on the cut.  The "vanity" angle has me thinking my upper thighs still have something to give up.  My butt could be slightly smaller, etc.  The "performance" angle is simply that for each pound lost, I can at least theoretically shave two seconds off of each mile (at least as long as I don't drop into underweight, at which point losing more weight leads to weakness and slowness). Two seconds per mile per pound might not sound like a lot, but losing ten pounds = an almost nine-minute faster marathon time.

Sometimes when I'm creating my pre-run, during-run, and recovery drinks/foods, I have a nagging voice in the back of my mind wondering if I'm blowing through all of the calories I'm burning.  Because I want it all:  improved performance AND slimmer thighs.

Contemplating the fuel vs. calorie perspective, it occurs to me that when I focus on the "fuel" model, that can reinforce making the best, most nutritious choices throughout my day.  The balance I want to strike is, of course, to make nutritious choices that are also delicious and satisfying.  This is not to say I'd want to banish treats such as vegan cupcakes and cookies from my life, but that's not going to be my mainstay (not that it typically is, anyway).  There are times when I'm so focused on the nutrition AND calorie angles that part of my mind rebels and it's like BREAK GLASS! ADMINISTER VEGAN CHOCOLATE!  I think the trick is to satisfy the need for treats in a judicious way so I don't feel the need to rebel.  All of which reminds me that my veganning is always a work in progress.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 7: Brief Update on Accidental Experimental Gu

So, with my 15K today, I test drove the home-made Gu I accidentally made yesterday (instead of the intended Brendan Brazieresque Direct Fuel Bites).  I'd say they were semi-successful.  The makeshift Gu flutes I'd fashioned out of foil didn't work too badly, though I didn't completely avoid finger goop.

As my sports drink, I did the "basic" sports drink Brazier recommends if you're short on time--two parts juice to one part water, with salt to taste.  I wasn't so much short on time as feeling somewhat lazy.  (Only somewhat--I did do my smoothie and the aforementioned Gu.)  For my juice, I used organic grape juice, only because we happened to have some in the house.

I finished in just over 1:24.  I was a bit disappointed, because I was hoping for closer to 1:22.  However, it was, for me, a course PR as well as a distance PR, so I'm not despondent.  :)

Fortunately, I didn't have any "pain" issues during the race.  My IT band, which occasionally likes to flare up, completely behaved itself today.  Energy wise, I didn't do badly, but I wish I'd had more "kick" in my legs at the very end.  I can't help thinking I need to tweak my fuelling.  Meanwhile, I've generated a training schedule to prepare me for another 15K, five weeks from today.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 6: Failed Fuel Bites = Experimental Gu?

I've got a 15K race early tomorrow morning, so I'm getting my drinks and fuel ready today. I've made my smoothie and was attempting to make my slightly modified version of Brendan Brazier's Direct Fuel Bites. His recipe goes like this:

5 dates
2 T coconut oil
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice
Sea salt to taste

You combine these in a food processor and then cut them into little rectangles that you can eat before and during exercise.  The dates and coconut oil both provide quick energy.

In practice, I find that if I use those proportions of date to coconut oil, the coconut oil creates a kind of mayonnaisey texture.  I usually do six dates to 1 T coconut oil.  I also leave out the zest because I'm too lazy to deal with zest!

This time, working from memory, I goofed and did 2 T of coconut oil to 6 dates.  Once I realized this, I added another six dates.  But then I also accidentally did more lemon juice than I was supposed to--2 T.  And I kept blending, hoping to get the consistency I usually do--which is kind of like caramel.  This time, no matter how much I blended, I got something frothier.  The consistency kind of reminds me of Gu (which I had for the first time during my first marathon last month!).  So I'm going to try a little experiment.  I'll try using this mixture as Gu.  Instead of trying to cut this into squares, I'll make some little Gu flutes out of foil and see how that goes.  Here's what the mixture looks like:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 5: Food Ruts vs. Habits

Do you find that most of the time you're happy eating pretty much the same things every day?  For longer than I can remember, my routine breakfast has been a bowl of oatmeal (1 cup, cooked), with 1 T ground flaxseed and .5 T nutritional yeast cooked into it and with cinnamon and applesauce added for flavor.  I'm perfectly happy eating this breakfast every day and feel no desire to switch up to something else.  (One exception is that if I have a race or long run early in the morning, I skip my oatmeal and go right to my smoothie [see yesterday's entry]).

I also fall into patterns for my lunch and snacks. I bring fruit and almonds to work with me to have as snacks and most days I've been having lentil soup for lunch.  But a few nights ago, when it was time to pack my lunch for the next day, I found myself staring into the fridge and thinking I was tired of the lentil soup.  Lucky for me, my husband had made chili, so I've been having that for lunch for the past couple of days.  At the same time, I felt like skipping my almonds and brought in a small baked potato instead.  Ooh, so much change!  How can I stand it?  ;)

So I don't know why I was feeling in a food rut for lunch when I've been having the same breakfast every day for longer than I was having lentil soup for lunch--but I suppose this isn't one of those logical things.  Anyone else gone through the same thing recently, with a food rut?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 4: Pre-run Smoothie

When I get home from work today, I am planning to do a five-mile tempo run on the ol' treadmill.  I typically use the treadmill for tempo and interval runs because I suck at judging my pace and do not have a Garmin watch.  Also, it's raining and yucky today, so I'd probably be using the 'mill anyway.

Before doing my run, I'll have a delicious smoothie.  Here's what I'll use:

1 banana
3 dates
1 T ground flaxseed
.5 T white chia seeds
1 T carob powder
1 T brown rice, cooked
.5 T coconut oil
.5 T agave syrup
.5 c organic soymilk
.5 c water
4 ice cubes (added after the previous ingredients are well blended)

I'll whip this up in my blender and then enjoy the deliciousness.  I started making these in the summer after reading an article about how drinking a slushie before a run helps fight off overheating during hot-weather runs.  I really cranked up the ice for those summer smoothies, using 8-10 cubes for a super-thick, icy drink.  Now, of course, overheating is not an issue (it's currently 43 degrees and raining--yuck!).  However, I've really come to enjoy having a nice thick smoothie before a run, so I still include some cubes.

Another variation I sometimes use is to include a tablespoon of either hemp protein powder or raw hemp.  Need to restock at the co-op!

Update:  Here's a close-up--taken via webcam.  :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day3: This Post Will Contain Some Whining

A little over ten years ago, my husband and I decided to move to Albany, NY.  We have no regrets.  Since moving here, we both lost large amounts of weight, kept the weight off, and, of course, became the parents of our awesome little boy.  We've lived in Philadelphia and Allentown during our time as a couple, and by far, Albany is our favorite place to live.  But there is something that we gripe about.

Albany has NO vegan restaurants.  None.  We had one for a little while--a little place called Food For Thought.  Sadly, it was not long for this world.  One thing that really kills me?  Philly is replete with vegan restaurants--somehow, when I wasn't looking, it became a bit of a vegan mecca.  And when we lived there?  We weren't vegan yet.

And having an egg-allergic child adds more complexity to our no-vegan-restaurants situation.  The allergist who tested my son determined that he is allergic to all parts of the egg and advised that he needs to avoid anything produced in a facility that handles egg.  Any restaurant that isn't vegan has to be presumed to be a facility that handles egg!  So while my husband or I can order a vegan dish in a non-vegan restaurant, that's not an option for our son.

One of the best things about a family trip we took to New York City earlier this year was....  VEGAN RESTAURANTS.  Many to choose from!  We could barely contain our excitement.

Once, my son exclaimed, "Albany!  You need to get a vegan restaurant!"  We couldn't agree more.  Even Syracuse has a couple of vegan restaurants, and they're not even as earthy-crunchy as we are.  Albany?  What gives?

One ray of light:  neighboring Troy, NY has X's to O's Vegan Bakery.  I cannot say enough about the yumminess of their treats.  Check out the site, even if you are not local, as they also ship their yummies.

So--I hope X's to O's ushers in a new era of vegan eateries in my area.  One can hope, anyway.  Meanwhile, I am planning to run the Philly marathon next year, and one of my side thoughts is:  "VEGAN RESTAURANTS!"

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 2

I didn't mean to end my first "mofo" entry so abruptly.  Here I'll pick up where I left off....

When we got home from trick-or-treating, my husband weighed our little guy's "take" and then allowed him to replace it with an equal amount of parentally vetted, vegan candy.  Kiddo had one pound, nine ounces of trick-or-treat loot.  Well, minus the bag of potato chips he grabbed out of his bag right away.

On a related note, I received an e-mail message from his teacher last week, letting me know that two separate classmates were coming in with "birthday" treats that week, so that I'd have the chance to send in alternate treats for my son.  I asked him what he wanted, and he opted for the very delicious pumpkin oatmeal cookies from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan With a Vengeance. He was even able to contribute to the process, as his class had visited a farm as part of a field trip earlier in the month, and everyone came home with a pumpkin.  The little pumpkin yielded 1.5 c puree, so I did the entire recipe x 1.5.  A couple of other modifications were:  I used applesauce instead of canola oil* and used some agave instead of the molasses, which I did not have.  I didn't sub for the whole amount, since agave is sweeter than molasses and I just wanted to account for some of the texture.  (I used 1.5 T instead of what would have been 3T for my 1.5x conversion.)  I also left out the nuts and raisins completely.  Although my son would possibly enjoy the nuts and raisins independently, he would definitely have picked them out of the cookie--I guess he doesn't like his cookies to have "things" in them ("things" one can pick out).

Anyway, the cookies came out delicious and made a ton.  I froze about 2/3 of them, and my little guy had one this morning. :)

*Page 222 of VwaV advises that 1/3 c of applesauce can sub for 1/2 c of oil.

Edit:  And here is the glorious Vegan MoFo blogroll.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Vegan MoFo Go

It's November 1st already?  Wasn't yesterday supposed to last longer?  We had a fun Halloween.  My son is seven, and our system is that he goes out trick-or-treating and, upon coming home, swaps out whatever he got in exchange for vegan candies we've purchased. 

Because he is allergic to egg, he has learned to be very, very cautious about any food that doesn't originate with us.  Poor guy freaked out a bit at the first house we stopped at, refusing the chocolate bars the woman there was handing out.  After calming him down and accepting lollipops instead, I reminded him about our swapping system (once we were on our way to walking to the next house).