Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tackling a Pie

I did it! I made a pumpkin pie from scratch! I cheated and bought a pie crust, but I'm still damn proud! I used Oh She Glows' recipe for the pie filling, but subbing real pumpkin for canned. I baked a sugar pumpkin, scooped out the insides and blended it just to be sure it was lump-free. This was a trial run for Thanksgiving, so more food posts to come for the holidays!

Here are some pictures of my feat:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Hello, fall!

Two weeks ago, I packed my bags, removed the baby seat from my car and mentally checked-out for my two-week vacation! Two glorious weeks without kids, job hunting, errands or interning.

Our (Brittinski came along, too) trip started with three days in Las Vegas! We did all the touristy stuff - drank, played the slots, lost money and watched the fountains at the Bellagio (I looked for Brad Pitt and George Clooney with no luck. Bummer.).

After Vegas, we flew to Chicago where we met up with our parents and stayed with relatives. Since we've been to Chicago many many times, we skipped a bunch of touristy stuff but we did go to the Art Institute of Chicago. Afterward we proceeded to stuff our faces at the Chicago Diner. I'll be damned if this place alone doesn't tempt me to move there. I mean, c'mon, those vegan milkshakes... how could I resist?!

From Chicago we headed to Monroe, Michigan. It's where my parents grew up, met and got married. Lots of family history there. We stayed with my aunt and got to visit with aunts, uncles and cousins and binge on authentic Polish food. Along with a scenic boat ride on Lake Erie, being surrounded by my dad's huge family tugged on the heart strings.

Next, we drove up to Traverse City, Michigan. This is where my mom's immediate family lives. We used to spend every summer here, so it's comforting and nostalgic. Again, we were urged to eat and be merry. Also - if you're in the area, go to Om Cafe, it's delish. It's suffice to say I need a major cleanse after these two weeks. Oatmeal, big salads and the gym will be my friend for a while.

Enough blabber. Here are the money shots.... of food, of course.


Monday, September 17, 2012


July marked my ONE YEAR anniversary living in the East Bay! August marked my TWO YEAR anniversary living in California! It's so strange to think that it's been that long since moving out here.

I loved growing up in Miami and I love going back for vacation, but I could never live there again. The humidity, the materialism, the attitude... no thanks. However, there are many things I do miss. Thunderstorms, warm-watered beaches, family & friends, and, of course, Caribbean food. On days when my cravings get out of hand, I make dinner like this:

Sticky, sweet maduros, frijoles y aguacate con limon.

When my mind wanders back to Florida, I also get caught up with intense emotions of UF memories. This normally happens on Saturdays while watching college football:

My pup, Mia, wanting more pets, less football.

So, to sum it up, I miss "home," even though my home has been California for two years now. I will always call Miami home. It's a bit of a love hate thing. I'll leave you with a mouth-watering picture of my absolute favorite fruit. Summers in Miami are ridiculously hot, humid and scattered with hurricanes, but they also produce the most delectable mangoes. I gleefully gorge myself on these when I'm home. Some may call it an addiction, I call it my reward for dealing with the negatives of Miami.

Mango from my backyard and mango smoothie. Uh-may-zing.

Love these pictures? There's more on my instagram: VeganGator

Friday, July 13, 2012

Tree Hugger

Me and my first redwood sighting.
A vegan tree hugger. Surprised? Didn't think so.

Some people are vegan for health reasons. Others because it's trendy. Let me briefly rank my reasons:

  1. Environmental
  2. Ethical (animal rights related things)
  3. Dietary
Dietary is least important to me because I think, vegan or not, you can lose weight with two things: diet and exercise. I think going on fad diets is a 'magic pill' solution and 99% likely to not last. While fat vegans aren't in the majority, it is certainly possible to be a shitty eater and still be vegan. No magic pill, folks.

I'll skip over the whole ethical rant - vegans and omnivores have heard it all before. Environmental reasons are lesser known, however.

The meat industry wreaks havoc on the environment. It uses more water, creates more pollution and disrupts fragile ecosystems. If you haven't read The Omnivore's Dilemma or Eating Animals, I highly recommend them. People's idea of the little red farm and roaming animals is no longer a reality and I think hope if people knew the reality, they would be less inclined to endorse the meat and dairy industries.

This is a very drawn-out introduction to my original reason for blogging.

I went camping in Lassen Volcanic National Park this past week. I love camping. My parents raised us to be outdoorsy girls (after all, my dad got three girls and no boys!). I've always loved the scent of trees, the sounds of crickets at night and the humbling sights at a hike's summit. Camping also gives me a boost in the human race. People tend to litter less. Nobody locks their tent in fear of robbery. Camaraderie is embraced along trails and around bonfires.

It's refreshing to disconnect for a while. No phones, Internet, jobs, traffic or television. It also amazes me how quickly you adapt to this. The first day you may repeatedly check your phone for service or updates. The first day you may walk daintily to avoid getting dirty. The first day you may be impatiently waiting for water to boil or fire to cook your food. 

But soon, at least for me, I find myself waking up at sunrise without an alarm. I easily reach for sunscreen rather than makeup. Walking for miles seems natural. I feel like a living piece of the Earth rather than a robot in an electronic society. Sound crazy hippie? Try it. Seriously.

On a more day-to-day subject, Siren and Goldie left for Florida to visit their "G-ma" and family today. Goldie is too precious - giving me hugs and telling me "Me love you" and "Me miss you". Siren, on the other hand, was in the car and ready to go before I managed to say "Have fun!". Oh well. I am also off to Florida in a few days and cannot wait! Time to see family and friends, lay on the beach, enjoy some magnificent thunderstorms, gorge on Caribbean food and smuggle back some home-grown mangoes.

Oh, I was also contacted and asked to spread the word about Music in the Meadow, a benefit for Animal Place. Animal Place is a great sanctuary in Grass Valley, CA. The event is Sept. 22, but if you cannot make it then, I hope you go another time. I've been before and it's an uplifting, nurturing place for otherwise unlucky animals.

Vegan and hippie rant over. You may return to your regularly scheduled program.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Solstice

I can't believe it's summer. I've been living in California for almost two years now and should be used to these 'summer' temperatures, but to me, 50 degrees at night screams winter, not summer. Anyway, today is the longest day of the year! This is a bit sad - it means the days will slowly get shorter again. If it's one thing I hate, it's going to work and getting off work in the dark.

On another note, I did my raw challenge. I lasted five days, hahaha. I had no intention of sticking strictly to Ani Phyo's book (no chewable food for three days?!), but I think I did pretty well. Honestly, I felt lighter but I also felt hungry and with lower energy (I lowered my caffeine intake, too). I still think a healthy balance of cooked and raw food works best for me. Have you ever tried a cleanse? Did you stick to it? Did it 'work'?

If you're an Instagramer, you see way more of my daily food pictures. Today, though, I present to you my home-made, no-recipe, noodles-less vegan lasagna. I had the day off, so why not!

This bad boy is layered with tomato sauce, eggplant, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, tofu ricotta (blended with spinach and roasted garlic) and nutritional yeast.

It may not be the prettiest meal presentation wise, but it was gloriously delicious.

Bonus: no pasta, cheese or meat means less guilt!

Tonight, I plan on enjoying the solstice with a few mojitos (made with home-grown mint!) and a fire in our backyard with Brittinski. Ah, summer...


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Raw Challenge?

My Uncooked boss heard about my tentative plans to do a raw good cleanse and sent me Ani Phyo's new book, 'Ani's 15-Day Fat Blast.'

I've taken today to read through most of it: it's a great guide for people looking to shed a few pounds through a raw food cleanse. She includes nutritional tips, shopping lists, meal plans and even an outline on maintaining your weight loss. I'm not doing this for a 'fat blast,' but rather just to test myself and see if there are any significant changes in my mood/skin/energy.

The first three days are all shakes, smoothies and soups. No solid food. No chewing. No cooking. That is gonna be a shock to say the lease.

For now, however, my cousin is coming to visit from Chicago for Memorial Day weekend. No raw food cleanse just yet! There is indulgence to be had!

In other good news, I have a job interview tomorrow! I'm trying not to get my hopes up - I've had three others that did not result in a job offer - but at least it's a glimmer of hope.

Last weekend was also Bay to Breakers in San Francisco. It is a race (7.5 miles) from one side of the city to the other, but it is better known for the costumes and debauchery it attracts. Many people don't run at all. Instead, people get dressed up (or undressed...), get sloshed (starting at 7am) and walk it (or at least the end part of it). In case you're interested, I did not run :)

Here is a picture of our group (we were 'Super Fruit') on BART on our way that morning.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

May Day

May 1st was my grandpa's 89th birthday! He's amazing - great memory, hardly any wrinkles and unexpectedly funny. I hope I get those genes!

May also means there's only this month of school left for Siren and Goldie, which in turn means more time with me. This also means I have been looking for a 'real job' for 10 months. TEN MONTHS! Jesus.

Brittinski and I have taken advantage of this spring weather by tackling some DIY projects. We bought a used table, 4 chairs and wooden bench from a refuge place in Berkeley. The chairs were cleaned and spray painted. The bench was disassembled, sanded, re-stained and reassembled. We also bought bricks and made our own little fire pit. Kale, tomatoes and new flowers were also planted.

If I don't go for a run before Tuesday, it will have been a full MONTH since I ran last. The last run I did was the US Half Marathon on April 8th. I'm not burned out (well, maybe a little), but I've been trying out lots of classes at the Y to make my paid membership worth the moolah.

Inspired by my Uncooked internship, I'm also considering doing a 5 or 10 day long raw food experiment. Kind of a like a cleanse. I don't plan on ever being totally raw, but it's good for you and frankly, I just want to see if I can do it. Crazy? Maybe.

Adios for now. It's Cinco de Mayo, afterall! Everybody knows that's just an excuse to whip out the tequila and chips. Whatever, I'm doin' it.