Pregnancy Nausea and Cooking

One of the things I have disliked most about being pregnant is the nausea and smell issues. I am completely avoiding the kitchen and the refrigerator and sometimes meals all together. This is probably not the best thing for Baby but it is just what happens. As I am ending the first trimester and beginning my second the nausea and smell issues are waning but the want to head back in the kitchen isn’t quite back. I use to find peace and happiness in my kitchen. At one point I am pretty sure I could have cuddled up next to my stand mixer I loved it so much. But these days the microwave and maybe some boiled water are all I can handle doing. Last night I wanted pancakes so I quickly poured the ingredients in a bowl and mixed them but made my husband cook. I was too exhausted to even think about cooking them and I knew we would end up with pancake bricks not fluffy yummy circles of goodness. So as thing progress I will add more recipes but without me doing too much in the kitchen I apologize for the lull. Please check out the old recipes and start to experiment with some of the great new products out there. Beyond Meat is doing some amazing things and I hear there is a cookbook and there are always recipes worth trying out at Chef Chloe’s website. I will post my vegan spaghetti with meat sauce in the next day or two though. I will slowly be getting back to cooking. It just feels like such a long road there! I will probably post my Bisquick pancakes recipes also since it is a few simple swaps outs. Keep reading! Things will rev up soon. And for all you pregnant Mama’s out there… I started reading Alicia’s new book “The Kind Mama”. I will have a review on that coming up too! Until then remember… food is love.

 

The Hippie Gypsy.

Springtime Ingredients and Curried Chicken Salad Recipe

Today is the first day of spring and with so many new ingredients hitting the produce and farm stands, my mouth is already watering. I am thinking of warm pasta dishes with sprinkles of green veggies and herbs. It is almost too much for my little brain to handle!

The weather is warming up over here in the Northeast and with a gray, rainy day today with a mild 37 degree temperature this morning, one cannot help but dream of the plants pushing their stems through the ground and smell the steaming artichokes, peas, and asparagus that will be waiting on our Easter Tables. So lets talk about what is in season and drop some ideas on how to prepare it for a spring brunch or even Easter!

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What is Fresh?

pumpkin soup 5

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  • Apricots
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Cherries
  • Fava Beans
  • Fennel
  • Green Garlic
  • Green Onions
  • Leeks
  • Lemons
  • Lettuces and Greens
  • Mint
  • Morels
  • New Potatoes
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Ramps
  • Rhubarb
  • Scallions
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Onions
  • Turnips

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What are some awesome vegan spring recipes in which to prepare these fresh spring ingredients?

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Apricots: Make a Curried Vegan Chicken Salad with sliced almonds and diced dried apricots (recipe below), or a Moroccan Grain Salad, or roast the apricot and serve it as a dessert just like I did with peaches here!

Artichokes: I am a HUGE fan of artichokes! I roast, steam, or just plain old toss them into so many dishes. Add them to a marinara or a cashew cream sauce with sum sundried tomatoes and they are amaxing. Or go all out for a party and make this awesome Spinach Artichoke Dip!

Asparagus: I rarely eat asparagus but when I do they have to be fresh and either steamed and then drizzled with oil, balsamic and salt (served cold) or roasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Keep it simple!

Beets: Beets are an amazing food. Try golden beets steamed or roasted with a balsamic vinegar drizzle. Heaven on earth!

Carrots: Everyone loves carrots. They are in cans, fresh, and come in every color. Purple is the original color of a carrot though. Try something new with this spiced carrot spread recipe from Martha Stewart!

Cherries: Cherries are such a wonderful ingredient that can be made savory or sweet. Try making a traditional cherry pie or some cherry chocolate brownie cupcakes to indulge!

Fava Beans: Try a twist on the average soup or standard fava bean salad with this Sopa de Habas from Saveur!

Fennel: I love roasting fennel with other veggies and making it almost herbaceous to the dish. Check out my roasted veggies from the holidays here!

Green Garlic: Green Garlic is similar in use to Green onions. I support this unusually garlic by dicing it thin and tossing it in a salad with asian dressing, dried fruits, and sliced almonds. You can even rub the oils from it around the inside of the bowl to help bring out the taste.

Green Onions: I love green onions in two particular dishes (1) is the Dragon Potatoes at the Cantina in San Diego’s Pacific Beach (you can get the recipe and cookbook here), and (2) when sprinkled over a peanut satay noodle dish like this recipe which includes lots of the other items on here. Mix it up and enjoy!

Leeks: Leeks are similar to onions. I like them for soups. Try making a simple traditional potato leek soup at Easter.

Lemons: When I was a little girl we lived in the San Jose area of California. I would sit on the railing of the back deck overlooking our pool and eat lemons with my brother. When I met my husband one of the first things I found out is he still eats lemons and LOVES them. There are a million lemon recipes out there both savory and sweet. My favorites are Lemon Blueberry Breakfast Bundt Cake and Lemon Meringue Pie though.

Lettuces/Greens: We all know how to use lettuce to make a salad but what else can you do with it? Try seasoning it and grilling it. Not sure what kind of lettuce to use. Get a free trial to Cook’s Online Cooking School and learn with videos and recipe lessons how to make them perfectly! I just did the lettuces version this past week and learned quite a bit about what flavors are in each type and when to use them and how to use them! I pay $20/ a month but more serious folks can do the $40 a month program and get feedback from America’s Test Kitchen Chefs!

Mint: I like mint in dessert but I am not much of a fan in savory dishes although it is used heavily in the Mediterranean and middle eastern cooking recipes. So try something totally different and make a mint tea with mint, sugar, and water!

Morels: These mushrooms are so rich and can be made into almost anything! Check out this website and recipe guide that is dedicated to them and start experimenting! Also look at Martha Stewart’s Morels 101 !

New Potatoes: Roasted New Potatoes tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs are a staple. The only spring change I would make… add some edible flowers and Herbs de Provence!

Parsley: I re-blogged a great recipe that had a wonderful use of parsley the other day here with Roasted Potatoes and Avocado. Or try a Parsley Walnut Pesto for a hot or cold salad (swap the parm for Galaxy Foods Vegan Parmesan) or fun bruschetta!

Peas: My father hates peas but I grew up with them on my plate at least a few times a week. From the can with butter and salt. Yum. However with them so fresh try a variety of types and ways to make them! Steam some fresh snow peas or sugar snaps and toss in a stir fry with some tofu. Or perhaps make a minty pea dip or Pea Guacomole!

Radishes: Radishes are inherently a mexican topping. You add them raw and sliced to the top of any taco and it is instant heaven.

Ramps: ramps are a food that many are not familiar with but are part of that green onion/scallion style of food. But here on the east coast they are more common so we pickle them, put them in bread, and even toss them in the fryer! Check out some recipes here.

Rhubarb: My husband is a sucker for a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie from the baked section of our Grocery Store. My mom buys them for him all the time. But when i was little my grandfather used to recite a rhyme to me every so often asking me if the “rain would hurt the rhubarb” and I thought that rhubarb was the same as rebar that was on the cement pillars of the ski lift so I would be rolling my eyes like “No they are always covered in snow”. I laugh at my 4 year old logic. However does the rain hurt the rhubarb?  The answer is apparently no, but it is obviously a common question! That being said eat some of its sweet and sour flesh in a pie (just sub the dairy for non-dairy items)!

Scallions: Scallions grew like weeds in the backyard of my childhood home. I hated the smell but now it is nostalgic. They are great on almost everything so I wanted to find an out of the box recipe for you guys. This is what I found: Avocado, Celery, and Scallion Bruscetta with Mache! Also take a look at Martha Stewart for more inspiration on Ramps, Scallions, and Green Onions!

Spinach: I use spinach mainly in salads or steamed with vinegar on them. How do you cook spinach? Also there is always the Spinach Artichoke Dip above!

Strawberries: I love strawberries. Doesn’t everyone? But its actually not a berry. Although, Pineapples and Bananas are. Make a strawberry chocolate pie for Easter by tossing strawberries with tapioca pearls and sugar and then putting them in a vegan pie crust and pouring chocolate chips in the crevices. It is really that easy. check out Magnolia Bakery’s recipe! Also I love my chocolate dipped strawberry cupcakes. They are fun and easy for kids to make too!

Sweet Onions: I could use sweet onions all day. Onion rings, purree, or in a bread. Yummy Yummy! Try my onion bread recipe!

Turnips: I have never cooked turnips. Ever. So I will rely on some experts on some interesting recipes. Here they are: RECIPES . I must say the Maple Carrot Turnip Mash and the Turnip Slaw look awesome! Some of that slaw over my BBQ Seitan Pretzel Sandwich Recipe sounds devine!

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Curried Vegan Chicken Salad with Apricots and Sliced Almonds (Made for 1 person)

 Ingredients:

  • 6 pieces of Beyond Meat Chicken Lightly Seasoned
  • (1-2) tbsp of Vegan Mayonnaise like Just Mayo by Hampton Foods
  • 2 tbsp of Balti Curry Spice from Penzey’s
  • 1 dried apricot
  • 2 tbsp of sliced almonds
  • Pinch of salt
  • Optional: Sliced Bread, green salad

Dice chicken strips into tiny pieces. Toss with mayo, then season, and stir until combined. Dice the dried apricot and toss into mixture with almonds, toss lightly, and serve cold immediately. You can put it on a salad or in a sandwich as well! Enjoy!

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The great thing you may have noticed is that many of the recipes use multiples of these ingredients together. That is the beauty of cooking seasonly. The flavors always jive well together. Plus you are helping save the planet by not getting your produce shipped in from a million miles away. Try buying seasonally and locally. It is pretty delicious! Happy First Day of Spring everyone!

Food is Love.

The Hippie Gypsy

Organic Garden Cafe aka Rawbert’s in Beverly, MA

I am not necessarily a big fan of vegan raw food. I think of it as something that goes a little far at times for my abilities and most folks abilities in a cold weather climate. If I lived in Costa Rica it may seem more feasible however. When I heard that a spot near my seaside home was picked as a Best of Boston North Shore (BONS) for brunch and it was vegan I was pretty excited. The write up was positive and discussed lots of good quality food. So I took a look at their website. It said that not only are they a cafe but they also do a volunteer program where you volunteer 5 times every 2 months for 3 hours at a time and you can learn a little about the raw food movement. This was very interesting to me. They had internships and other things but volunteering is my second love so I grabbed my mother, aunt, and cousin and headed over for a lunch time treat. If it was decent I vowed I would ask for the volunteering paperwork. I can always learn something more about vegan food and heck maybe raw is better than I think!

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When we got their we realized the space itself is a bit tiny and a little cramped but very healthy-food-centric. They had plants and painted murals of veggies. Very hipster cool. It is wedged into main street with its own parking lot and next to a comic book store and around other healthy/hippie venues. It fits. The staff was nice and friendly. We were seated quickly. The food was brought out timely and we had a good meal. I loved the crackers and cheese plate we got, the quesadillas were awesome, and the the kale chips were the same flavor as Rhythm Foods Nacho flavor. My mom and aunt got soup. My aunt loved hers as it was a carrot ginger flavor and my mom thought hers was too grainy for a corn chowder. The omelette sandwich filled me up but was a bit mushy since it was some sort of Brazil nut base and reminded me of the soft cheese on the cheese plate. I was surprised at the bagel though, it was excellent. I grabbed some chocolates to go (none of us liked those, they are not sweet and actually very strong in odor like a glass of red wine). I then decided I would ask for an application for the volunteer program.

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Unfortunately, I was met with some surprise on this portion.  Rawbert himself came out and seemed happy to chat. However he thought I was asking about the internship (which as a full time executive I do not have time for nor the need for). I stated no I was looking at the volunteer program. He said they didn’t do that anymore because it was too hard to get volunteers up to speed and they aren’t trained and they get in the way in an already overstaffed busy kitchen. So why then do they allow interns? Wouldn’t that be the same? It seems that interns pay for their spot. That is strange and I am not sure I like that. I grabbed a green juice and headed out. I am not sure I will go back. I have mixed feelings about the whole ordeal after that chat. If I had not chatted, I may have gone back but after seeing that the business is more than about the food and the joy and it is really about money. I felt uncomfortable. Veganism is just one of those subcultures where you feel like you are more about the food, the health, the morals and less about the business of it all. However, I guess that isn’t always the case. Plus isn’t free labor still free labor? Rawbert told me he would update his page and he has, however I am still bummed out. If you want to intern or take classes though for a fee I say go for it! I just can’t fit that into my life as a full time executive.

 

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Food is Love.

The Hippie Gypsy.

@TrueBistro : My Favorite Vegan Spot

I was at the Boston Flower Show on Sunday with my mother and my aunt when I saw that the Wynn Casino and Resort Company was hosting the event. I find this an amazing moment because here in Boston we are contemplating the possibility of a large hotel/casino/resort in the metro area. So not only are the contenders trying to sponsor events to garner attention, but they are also trying to win our favor. The Wynn Company already has my favor however, because Steve Wynn is vegan. This allows for the possibility of more vegan restaurants in the metro area that are high quality and accessible. He makes sure there is a vegan menu at every restaurant at the Wynn Las Vegas and he would do the same in the Everett, MA location. They also plan on cleaning up a large site that used to be home to Monsanto and (no surprise) they left toxic and a mess and then walked away. So the Wynn Company is becoming a fan favorite for a few reasons. However, I have one worry… my favorite restaurant True Bistro. It is an excellent restaurant in Somerville, MA that has amazing food and is high end. This is rare. How rare? They are the only high end vegan restaurant in the whole metro area. I think Candle 79 in NYC is the next closest at what 200 or so miles away?

So the reason for my worry is that a few things can happen during competition. One is that they could force them out and two is that the loyal followers slowly migrate away. I would hate that. I don’t think it will happen though and the reason is Michael the owner. I have had the pleasure of talking to him on a few occasions. He obviously only knows me as a patron, however, he is so kind and fun and chatty but also unbelievably dedicated to this lifestyle and food that I can’t help but write about his spot in detail. I would never replace a night in Somerville with Michael for a night at a large hotel but I may start going out a few more times a month because the Wynn will have convenient parking and all that jazz at larger resorts. This may be years down the road though. The interesting part is that despite all that Wynn could offer… True Bistro has not only amazing food but the are always changing it up with only a few staples and the pre-fixe menus are to die for every time (if you are lucky enough to get a reservation).

I had the pleasure of going there on Valentine’s Day this year and honestly, I think it was one of the best meals I have had in forever. Which is a compliment since I recently did a culinary tour of vegan hot spots in NYC and we go to True Bistro and order 4 desserts fairly often. My husband and I asked for one of everything this time, since there were two items in each section and the wine pairing. I was driving and I also don’t drink so my husband took a sip of this or that with each taste. I was in love with so many dishes and the waitress asked us each time what the culprit was. So I would tell her we loved this, fought over that, not a fan of this wine, etc. She would smile or laugh or absorb. Again, this restaurant is so responsive. Even their waitstaff are experts. How can anyone compete with that level of service? So we continued along and my omnivore husband ate like it was going to be taken away at any moment. He was such a fool for their menu. I was so happy to see this because it is not every day that you can get an omnivore to dig vegan food so much that they try to eat faster so their vegan wife can’t steal back a bite of a plate of seitan. I had a great time that night and the food as always was impeccable.

So where does that leave an excellent vegan four star restaurant in Boston when a huge giant resort shows up? Hopefully still on top. I wouldn’t be able to part with this family or their restaurant. I would miss Michael’s banter, his height, and his joy. He gets excited to clean off a table, he gets excited to chat about his travels, and he gets excited and laughs when he finds out we made it to dinner after having a cancelled flight on a holiday. He has an attention to detail that is unmatched from his choices in food, too his chevre cheese plates, to the fact that he could tell by my eyes I was part Mexican. You can’t compete with that, but perhaps Wynn will supplement it. I will be by sometime soon to wait in the long line for brunch. I can’t wait even though it is 19 degrees out. You should too: http://www.truebistroboston.com . Now I am hungry!

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Food is Love.

The Hippie Gypsy.

 

 

Yogic Principles, Veganism, and Bucket List Item #3: Purging

So when I went to the Ananda Ashram, I learned a lot about Yoga. Not the physical exercise that everyone knows, but more of the principles of “yoga” as a more spiritual guide (Check out this page for a brief intro http://www.healthy.net/Health/Article/The_Ten_Living_Principles_Yamas_and_Niyamas/2410 ). That being said, there are “Yamas” which discuss “moral disciplines” or things you should do and “Niyamas” which discuss “moral observances” or things you shouldn’t do. I just think Y = Yes and N = No to differentiate the two. They are both phrased in a positive way so don’t think that Niyama means don’t be pure or content but instead it means don’t be toxic or impatient. Take a look below at the principles:

The Yamas are:

  • Ahimsa” — Sanskrit for “non-harming”
  • “Satya” — Sanskrit for “refraining from dishonesty”
  • “Asteya” — Sanskrit for “non-stealing”
  • “Brahmacharya” — Sanskrit for “wise use of sexual energy”
  • “Aparigraha” — Sanskrit for “non-possessiveness”

Niyamas:

  • “Saucha” — Sanskrit for “purity”
  • “Santosha” — Sanskrit for “contentment”
  • “Tapas” — Sanskrit for “self-discipline”
  • “Svadhyaya” — Sanskrit for “self-study”
  • “Ishvara pranidhana” — Sanskrit for “surrender to a higher source”

So purging falls under “Aparigraha” which is a Yama. This means to not be possessive.  You should instead fill your life with meaning and not with “stuff” and be happy and content with life as it is. This has always been a hard one for me and I am sure it is hard for most in American consumer culture. Being happy with the life you have and not accumulating distractions. I am constantly distracting myself with things. Whether it be my shoe collection or clothes or just “stuff”. I put memories into these things instead of into a compartment in my heart. Aparigraha makes you realize that you need to live in the now and enjoy life for what it is and not worry about things outside of that. This teaching is not just in Yoga/Buddhism/Hinduism it is commonplace in all religions. Mother Theresa was famous for living with next to nothing and Christianity states that you should not overindulge in things or food or anything. That the poor will inherit the earth. I keep lots of quotes on my Pinterest ( http://www.pinterest.com/thehippiegypsy/quotes-that-i-will-cover-my-walls-with/ ) and one of my favorite is “The first step to getting what you want, is having the courage to get rid of what you don’t” another that is not up there is by Mother Theresa that states “You have to be holy, where ever you are, wherever God put you”. I feel like this tells me that where I am in life I need to be the best person that I can be and remove distractions so I can be “here” in the moment. This I am sure merges into “Santosha” or Contentment one of the Niyamas.

Food is always a distraction for me though. Although it is definitely  a delicious one and makes me feel content. I find that eating more “whole” foods and less processed is going to be a goal this year because (1) by purging what I do not need (despite its contentment it brings me), I find that I do need “food” but not junk food to clutter my system like my shoes I just purged cluttered my closet; and (2) If it is broken and no good I don’t keep it and food should be the same. This year I am saving for a bread maker. I think I am going to start making my own bread. I came upon this idea while using my gift card for cooking things and realizing I cannot buy a pretty bowl when i don’t need a pretty bowl. This is an item that is about $6 for a half loaf of Iggy’s at Whole Foods or $2 for a white loaf at Market Basket that is not at all remotely healthy and barely bread but I could make for much less and make much healthier. Do you remember “Wonder Bread”? I can still smell the bleach when I think of it. Purging things that are useless is a good task. It makes you think of what you actually need. I don’t need bleached white bread anymore, it is now useless. It serves no purpose. So I am moving on.

And those 11 pairs of shoes in my closet that I purged, they serve no purpose anymore either so look at the nearest Thrift Shop ladies because those boots were never worn….

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Food is Love.

The Hippie Gypsy.

 

******DON’T FORGET TO ENTER THE BEYOND MEAT GIVEAWAY THAT CLOSES AT 12NOON FRIDAY!!!******

Tips and Love: Thanksgiving Lull is Over… Time for a Compassionate Christmas

The Thanksgiving lull is over, I have eaten all the leftovers, and Christmas is upon us. I wanted to discuss what I have learned in this two week food coma. 

  1. Yoga, Barre Classes, and the Gym will get you through anything.
  2. Beware of car accidents this time of year. I have had two in the last few weeks. None were my fault but everyone is on the road that normally isn’t, and the conditions are less than perfect in the Northeast.
  3. Christmas shopping is an important time to remind yourself how vegan you actually are.
  4. Take time to meditate, otherwise you will autopilot yourself past New Years and possibly into a real coma.

I would like to elaborate on all of these. Yoga class and meditation are key. I have found that this (as well as a healthy amount of shopping online instead of at the mall) have save my frustrated, over-anxious soul these past weeks. I have been trying to go to Yoga or Barre at least twice a week and the Gym 3 times a week. My diet has been less than ideal and I was bordering on becoming a “junk-food-vegan”. So I ramped it up and started listening to documentaries while I worked concerning food and reading whenever I got home rather than turning on the TV to calm my mind. This reset my brain a little and allowed me to appreciate the odd situation I was in. I have too much food. I have too much good food. This is a rarity in the World as a whole despite the jaded American view of such. I watched “Vegucated” the other day to also help reset my goals as a vegan and realized that watching someone kill a pig for meat actually bothers me intensely now. Not like a few years ago where I chalked it up to “the way things are”. I meditated on this and decided that I needed to start considering the compassionate side of things a little more seriously. The film reminded me of my dog and I can’t shake that image. So I am officially starting to remove things from my needs. I am re-prioritizing and starting fresh. I need to start focusing on healthy, organic, sustainable, and compassionate products. I need to also be these things. So to be healthy in my mind I need to always meditate. To be healthy in my heart I need to always be more compassionate. To be more healthy inside my body I need to be organic and eat for need not want and practice yoga and exercise regularly. Last, to be healthy with the earth I need to be organic and sustainable in my practices.

I realized this is overwhelming and a lot to take on but I think it is worth the effort, time, and money. I am budgeting for it now. Budgeting for a better future. It’s empowering when you think of it. So I started with Christmas. I am trying to recycle all shipping boxes and bags. I request minimal packing materials and shop through Amazon so things can be combined into one package. I am trying to commit to sustainable materials in clothes moving forward and household textiles as well as reusing  or buying second hand. I love books but rather than hard copies which I am in love with I either by used now or from Audible or for my Kindle to keep paper where it belongs, the forest. I also am reminding people to try Meatless Mondays or at least eat more locally. I even had a chat with my family about it last night and it was well received.

I know I am going to be called a hippie and that is okay. I know some people will say ” I could never do that” but I want you to know you can. You are more powerful and resilient than you know. It is absolutely overwhelming at first, but think about what you are giving each other this holiday. Think about the reason for Christmas or your holiday. It is about respecting something greater than yourself that gave up everything so you could be happy. So in a way shouldn’t we spend the holiday sacrificing for the greater good to live like those that we are celebrating? Shouldn’t we be respecting what was given to us? Just think about it when you give someone another gift certificate or candle or pair of leather gloves they already have 2 pairs of. Every year my grandmothers gave me the same thing. One gave me cash, sometimes in an envelope, other times folded into my hand, and once in a plastic shopping bag. She knew it was wasteful to wrap anything. The other gave me the exact same pair of gloves, ear muffs, and gift certificate to the mall. I donated those gloves or earmuffs every year to family, friends, or the goodwill so it ended up working out. But now I wonder about what it took to make those gloves every year and if it was really worth the $5 price tag. I am sure some child in Laos or Myanmar sat there sewing them just so I could give them away. It seems disrespectful and enabling now that I am older and wiser.The environment was also affected by the factory, I am sure. Think about what was sacrificed for that gift and if it is really worth the price tag and if it is, is it what you want that person to remember you for? Be healthy, be happy, and encourage others to also do the same.

This year I am giving only what people need or asked for that I think is also appropriate. I want to be known for giving a good gift but I also want a healthy return on my investment. My family will get wonderful gifts but all ones that inevitably are sustainable, or compassionate, or ecofriendly in some way. There will of course be a few toys or books thrown in there but I am trying very hard to stick to a compassionate theme. One of my stepdaughers loves animals so I gave her books and videos about them and how to be kinder to them both when encountering them and when living her life but I am also giving her a Nook for future books. The other is into fashion so she wants clothes. I tried to stick with cotton and veg friendly shoes instead of leather. It takes a few more minutes but it felt worth it. I felt like Christmas Shopping was more rewarding this year. Did I also mention that because I budgeted my time for this that I am already done? Yes I am. Back to that budgeting for a healthier lifestyle. I budgeted my time to reduce stress and increase happiness. It worked. So now I can handle a broken down car… or two. Accidents happen. It is all about how to handle them in a healthy way. So now its your turn. Turn your holiday around. Make it healthy for your soul, your pocketbook, and your world. I send you all pure joy.

Food is love. Happy Holidays.

The Hippie Gypsy

TREE

My Thanksgiving Dinner

I want to start this with a shout out to the staff at the Bedford MA Whole Foods. You guys saved the day on Thanksgiving. I had ordered a holiday vegan “turkey” en croute from Whole Foods at another location for my Thanksgiving. My mother was kind enough to pick it up while I was working only to find a goat cheese log in the bag as a substitute. First off anonymous grocery staff that so lovingly tried to put a sub in for the missing vegan meat, goat cheese is not vegan. Second, why didn’t you call? I know that sounds like a wounded ex-girlfriend but honestly this is a major holiday and I am always plugging Whole Foods since you are the vegan guru’s of the Northeast as well as I help out writing recipes locally. If you don’t have a product tell the person who ordered it. Don’t just toss in a cheese log and hope for the best. The Bedford Whole Foods got a call from me in a panic and not only gave me many options, they gave it to me for free because they felt bad about what had happened. All I can say is you are amazing. I tweeted how amazing you were that day but I wanted to write about it formally. It made my day and the next day it made my dinner.

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The Field Roast en Croute was delicious. The instructions were easy to follow. I was in heaven and leftovers were easy to reheat with a little water added to the bottom of the bowl. I topped leftovers with a little Daiya Havarti and was in heaven!

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I made the rest of the holiday meal vegan except the Turkey. Yes, I cooked a turkey. It was from Whole Foods and organic and local and all that jazz. I did feel bad but I am the only vegan and I try not to take things too far. My husband eats mostly vegan these days and my mother is vegan or at least vegetarian until dinner time so I feel like I have made such a huge impact that one day a year I will make them something non-vegan on a table that is completely vegan otherwise. They appreciate the effort and I appreciate their effort all year long.

 

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All I can say is that the vegetables with olive oil, salt, pepper, and drizzled with maple syrup were my favorite but the potatoes au gratin were the show stopper for the rest of the group. They loved them and I mean LOVED them. I got more compliments than I could’ve imagined. Especially seeing as only my dad and I ate them last year. I kinda regretted it because I love them and had only a tiny portion left over.

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Dessert was also an amazing success with vegan chocolate chip cookies, cranberry upside down cake, apple caramel pie, and a vegan pumpkin pie my mother bought at Whole Foods in Boston.

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All in all it was a great success and I cannot thank my friends in Bedford enough. So from my Family to yours. Thank you and Happy Holidays!

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(From the left going clockwise: Isaiah my husband’s closest friend, his children, his wife Kristin, my husband in orange in teh center, my father, moth, Aunt’s boyfriend Tim, and finally my Aunt.)

 

Food is Love.

The Hippie Gypsy

 

IMG_2659 (I’m on the far right, My mom is the center, aunt behind, and sister in law on the far left. Her son my nephew Nolan is the beautiful baby! I even named a dish after him!)

How to Make Your Vegan Holiday More Efficient in 20 Steps Over One Month

I serve an omnivore – vegan thanksgiving extravaganza each year. This year I will have about 12 people (I think). So because I am a little OCD and I love fresh food I always wait until the last second to get veggies. This causes a mess of a problem because now I must peel, chop, julienne, etc. in a short amount of time. I learned my lesson this year and started already. I peeled, chopped, diced, and whatever-ed all of my veggies that I could already. Bagged them and sorted them into the crisper. I have the bruises on my hands to prove it and a few knife cuts on my palm and some missing nail polish from that pesky mandolin. However I feel so accomplished! Here are my tips to fast track your Thanksgiving preparation:

 

  1. One month before, order your roast or turkey or tofurkey or field roast en croute.
  2. 2-4 weeks before, hire someone to clean your house the day before the holiday (It is about $150 for a whole house but you can prob get a good deal for just the downstairs). That way they can clean up whatever leftovers are on the floor from your chopping that the dog didn’t want.
  3. One week before get all linens, dishes, china, etc. cleaned. Get your hair done. Get your nails done (shellac or gel is smart in this case). Buy any theme holiday items that you need. Set your table aesthetics but not plates.
  4. Buy all your veggies the weekend before or a few days ahead.
  5. Wash, Chop, and Bag all veggies as you get them. This will make mashed potatoes and roasted veggies go fast the night before. It sounds crazy but peeling one large potato takes about 30 seconds. It will be worth it to do it as you get them when you have 10 lbs to peel and chop.
  6. Buy yourself something easy for breakfast so that you don’t need to cook. Donuts, danishes, or just plain old cereal and fruit. You WILL need energy the day of.
  7. Two nights before, pre-bake crust or buy them already done. Pre-chop all fruit and make any rice or pasta and bag it. Fruit can be tossed with a little water and lemon juice if you are afraid of browning.
  8. The day before Thanksgiving make any sauces and dips. They always taste better if they infuse overnight. Slice any cheeses and prepare any doughs (cookie dough or bread dough).
  9. The night before make any roasted veggies, casseroles, and prep desserts. You can bake desserts fresh since they come after dinner and all your casseroles and veggies can be warmed up while the turkey sits and cools a bit. Also brine your turkey if you get one and place in the fridge.
  10. The morning of place out all plates and appetizer arrangements without the food on them so that you are ready. Make your significant other get up early to put the turkey in the oven, you aren’t eating it anyway 😉
  11. Sit down have some tea and a danish and baste that turkey or tofurkey.
  12. An hour before arrival bring out ice, glasses, drinks, and appetizers and plate them.
  13. By the time you are done others will be arriving. You will look like you have it all together!
  14. When the turkey comes out place all precooked dinner entrees in the oven to warm back up.
  15. When it is time to eat place the desserts in and remove all appetizers and place in covered containers.
  16. After dinner place leftovers in large bowls and containers. At the end of the night you will have a buffet for people to make take home bags!
  17. Place out desserts and coffee and tea after dinner has been over roughly an hour to two hours. People need time to settle.
  18. Take a walk during this time or have an impromptu flag football game for the guys and kids! Or do the dishes if its too cold!
  19. Last, enjoy dessert. Set up the to go containers (I ask all my guests to bring some with) and set up the buffet for people to take home whats left.
  20. You will have less to put away or eat later on in the week 🙂

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FOOD IS LOVE. Happy Holidays from My family to yours.

FAMILY NYC

THE HIPPIE GYPSY

Rant: Why Vegans and Really Anyone Should Go on a Retreat

Going to Ananda Ashram

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This weekend I will be going away to Ananda Ashram in Monroe, NY instead of to New York City with my husband who is working at a conference there. This was not intentional as I am in love with NYC entirely but it is already teaching me why I decided to add this item to my proverbial “Bucket List”. Going to a retreat, a real retreat not a spa weekend, is about going into yourself and pulling out the poisons. Selfishness is one of those poisons. However, I like to think I am replacing the selfishness that is bad with a different kind of selfishness. One that is more focused on taking care of myself and taking that time to care for myself when I otherwise may do something to appease others and support others and allow myself to fall apart. I truly think we all do this at least some of the time. if you are a parent, I am sure you do it more than anyone knows.

So I am looking forward to this because for the first time in my life I will be entirely alone on purpose with no hope to meet a friend or converse heavily or party around the town. I will be volunteering and eating a clean vegan diet as the Ashram is Vegan and Vegetarian, no caffeine, no alcohol, no junk. I love this. I love that I will be somewhere where my already developing “self” is not strange but instead the rule and not the exception. I think this will be a good change of pace. I will also be working 3 hours a day to volunteer. The duties will be at the mercy of the Ashram although I am sure they won’t have me roofing or anything! I just think the reminder of selfless and focus on self is an interesting dynamic. It seems like they are opposites but in truth they are like a yin and yang that are totally in harmony with one’s body & minds & needs.

I think this will be worth the $35 a day it costs with all food included and I hope to find it worth even more in what I take away. There are meditation clinics, chanting, sanskrit classes, and yoga. Although I am not good at any I hope to be. I need a way to wipe out the noise in my head and get back to basics the way I am sure everybody does sometimes. The work – eat – sleep regimen gets old and tiresome. The anxiety overwhelming. If I learned anything from the other night it is that even things that we think we brush up will sneak into our heads at night and if we do not know how to clear them out we will be a mess in the morning.

So I encourage everyone to do this. Take a day or a weekend and go to a retreat. Clean out your body, the noise in your mind, and the stress on your soul. I will report back how it goes on my end. I am sure I will be struggling but it will be worth it.

 

buddah

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Food is Love.

The Hippie Gypsy

 

Dairy, Non-Dairy, Lactose Free, Vegetarian, or Vegan: What do I eat?

MILK:

There are always so many questions when you become a first time vegan or vegetarian. My favorite is: Can you have milk? Because the answer is yes, just not cow’s milk. Always throws a few people off. The word “milk” is a process not really a product anymore. So start thinking of milk as a verb and the things that make it up as the all important noun. According to the Free Dictionary “milking” is to draw or extract. You can milk your bank account or you can milk a tree of its sap. Either way this is milking.

 

As a once omnivore, the common misconception of “milk” is the kind of the “whole cow’s milk infused with vitamin D” variety. We all know the red containers. I grew up on those red containers with pictures of missing kids on the sides. However, now we have so many more choices. Almond Milk, Coconut Milk (canned or drinkable), Hemp Milk, Goat’s Milk, Lactaid Milk, Soy Milk, and the list goes on. When you are lactose intolerant your only concern should be the lactose. You aren’t allergic to all dairy just this one part of dairy. Lactose is basically milk sugar or “whey”. Stay away from any dairy products that have sugar in them and you should be golden. As for cheese, the stinkier the better. The aging process gets rid of the sugar and thus the lactose (check the nutrition label, see… no sugar). That is why your belly would say okay to sharp cheddar and no thanks to fresh mozzarella. Next, there are the people who are Vegetarians. They eat dairy so never think that something marked vegetarian is dairy free. You will have to look at the label. Lactose intolerant people can eat lactose free or non-dairy items with those labels. However, Vegans must be even more careful. Dairy free means just that. Lactose free means just that as well nothing more. However this can be confusing for vegans. Sometimes there is “casein” a cow milk based protein in a food labeled as dairy free or lactose free but that does not mean its a vegan item. So beware.

 

Reading labels is a key instrument in keeping yourself on track no matter what food allergy or choices you make. I am a vegan and that is both my choice and my allergy. My step kids and husband are lactose intolerant and so we do lactaid for them and that is also their choice and their allergy. Going vegan is extremely awesome but I think knowledge is power when it comes to food. If you have an allergy, address that first and don’t feel the need to go straight to veganism or vegetarianism. You will have enough on your “plate” (no pun intended… okay pun intended) without adding another layer of things to remove. If you feel connected to the cause or want to do more for your health though, please do go forward. If you need help. Email or comment on this page. I read everything eventually and respond to everything. I want to be your resource in this crazy journey of eating better for yourself and the world. So enjoy your food and spread the word. Food is love.

 

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Food is Love.

The Hippie Gypsy