Monday, January 30, 2012

Eatin' Vegan in Wisconsin

Happy Monday!  I just got home from spending a few days in Wisconsin, visiting Tim's family.  We had a fantastic time and were surrounded by an abundance of delicious vegan & raw food. 

As soon as we landed in Milwaukee we went straight to Beans and Barley, a natural market, deli and cafe with vegan options.  I had the tempeh reuben and Tim had the portobello sandwich.  Both were very tasty.  The cafe is bright and open with lots of natural light, the service is friendly, and it seems to be a popular place.  Another couple that was on our flight showed up there too.  It's definitely a first stop for good, healthy food in Milwaukee.

The eating out highlight of our trip happened when we took a day trip to Madison.  The Green Owl Cafe is the only vegetarian, vegan and raw food restaurant in town, but even if it wasn't the only all-veggie choice you'd still find me there every chance I get.  We pre-stalked the menu before arriving so we knew exactly what we wanted:  the bbq jackfruit sandwiches with a side of kale crisps.

I tweeted that this was the best sandwich I have ever had.  In my life.  Really.  The jackfruit was light and the perfect companion to the tangy bbq sauce, crisp cabbage slaw, dill pickle slices and ciabatta roll.  The kale crisps were simply baked with olive oil, salt and slightly spicy seasoning.  Our server was super sweet and spent some time talking with us about raw food and making kale chips.  If you find yourself in Madison, Wisconsin, please visit the Green Owl cafe. 

Another must-stop in Madison is the Willy Street Co-op.  The entire place is wonderful, but my favorite department was the juice, smoothie, coffee bar and bakery.  We had Green Zinger: wheatgrass, apple, lemon, and ginger.  YUM.

On Friday night there was a family get together and Tim & I made two big vegan pizzas.  We showcased our stuffed crust, Tim's pistachio pesto, and daiya cheese.  Even though we were the only vegans there, everyone seemed to enjoy the pizza. We also had some amazing sweet potato curry soup made by Tim's aunt as well as roasted vegetables, green salad, fresh fruit and vegan cupcakes from a local bakery.  It was a feast!

We also enjoyed a pasta & bean salad, veggie and split pea soups, banana oatmeal and  cherry and apple pie (!! all vegan and all soooo gooood !!) made by Tim's mom.  Tim made some kale chips and a vegan gnocchi dish.  I made some vegan pancakes.  We felt so spoiled while we were there and couldn't get through all of the good vegan food before we left.

There were several other vegan places, included a new vegan cake shop, that we read about but just didn't have time to visit.  The Milwaukee area seems to be very vegan friendly and I'm looking forward to our next visit and more exploring.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

It's A Green Drink Weekend

Guess what I've been having a lot of lately?  Smooooooothies! I'm on a greens kick right now, so all I have to share are pictures of green colored drinks.

Most have been of the blended variety, but I did get out the juicer for one:

I've been having fun following posts from bloggers who are doing Kris Carr's 21 Day Adventure Cleanse.  And I guess it's rubbed off a little because I've been drinking more greens lately.  So, thanks for that, Food Feud, This Is What I Eat, and Vegan Crunk.  I even bought the book on my Kindle and plan on spending some time with it today.

Ok, I'm going to enjoy a relaxed Sunday and I hope you are too!  See you next week.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Great Smoothie Comeback and Easy Food Times

Coming down from the holidays has led to simple meals, fruits & veggies, and smoothies.  Part of this stems from wanting to just take it easy (aka lazy-times), another from a craving for lighter eats after all the rich holiday feasting.  On work days I need to take along pretty much all of my food for the day.  I've been drinking a big smoothie in the morning then packing lunch, dinner & snacks.  Sometimes this means relying on pre-made food.  This a pretty good example of a day's worth of easy food:

Smoothies have made a big comeback at my house!  In the past I've had trouble drinking ice cold smoothies in the middle of winter.  Adding more hearty ingredients like peanut butter and nuts seems to make it easier.  Actually, I crave them now.  Starting my day with hydrating and nutrient dense blended fruit and greens makes a big difference in my energy level. 

So far January has been busy (lots of work!).  I'm rotating between long work shifts and mega naps.  Green juice has also made a comeback.  I can't get enough of it lately.  My body likes the good stuff.

Hope your January is going well so far, and hope you're all ready for Friday the 13th! 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

First Brunch of 2012!

Good morning 2012!  We brought in the new year surrounded by friends and stayed up late playing games, listening to music and making food.  There was a lot of talk about food nerdery topics like Chopped, Iron Chef, who makes the best vegan breakfast in Portland, and how the right blender can change your life.  It was perfect. 

After 3 hours of sleep my body said, "Time to get up!"  Jerk.  I went straight for this:

And it totally did the trick, followed by some strong black coffee.  By the time BF woke up I was ready to get busy.... um, making brunch!  I wanted to kick off the new year with something extra delicious and also didn't want to leave the house.  Luckily I had some sweet potatoes, mushrooms and daiya pepperjack shreds on hand.  This is what we ate for our first meal of the year:

Biscuits and mushroom gravy with cheesy sweet potato home fries.  

I used the drop biscuit recipe from the Joy of Vegan Baking, but instead of spooning them out I just made four giant square biscuits.  They had to cook for almost double the time listed in the recipe because of their size.  This is the best vegan biscuit recipe I've used. 

The mushroom gravy is based on this one I found online.  I don't strain it and I add the mushrooms back at the end. I used this at Thanksgiving and it was a hit.  The carnivores actually preferred it to the turkey version. Vegan success.

The home fries are sweet potato with onion, herbs, salt and pepper, slathered in daiya pepperjack shreds. 

You all know how I love the sweet-n-salty flavor combo.  Not enough to dip my vanilla cream sandwich cookie into the black bean dip, like some people did late last night.... but this breakfast served up a nice balance.  Yum. 

Now, the kitchen is clean and I could use a nap.  Everyone else is doing it:

I hope your first day of 2012 is off to a great start, whether you're starting a new project or having some cozy relaxation. Cheers!