Get-Better Broccoli Soup

I worked from home today because of a major toothache that caused a sore throat and ear pain.  I usually eat breakfast and lunch at work so I really didn’t have much food in the house, especially because it is nearing the end of the week!

I honestly wasn’t feeling breakfast at all (so much pain!) and stuck to tea after tea all morning. Around noon I was starting to get hungry though. I had canned soup that I could have easily heated up but I’ve been reading about how bad BPA is for us, especially for women and our fertility (call me crazy or paranoid except not really because it’s fact) so I decided to get creative in the kitchen!

I whipped up a broccoli soup that was so yummy, I’ll be making a bigger batch to freeze in the near future. I used ingredients I happened to have on hand and this recipe as my muse.

The cumin and lime give this soup such a nice flavor with just the right amount of kick. Plus, all of the vitamins and antioxidants in the broccoli really did have me feeling better; not to mention the garlic, carrots, and nutrient power-house lentils that were also in there.

I now present you with my Get-Better Broccoli Soup (which is both vegan and gluten free #hey)

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The random ingredients I had to work with… (frozen homemade veggie broth FTW)
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Sauteed garlic and carrots
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Added lentils and veg broth
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Add cumin, lime juice, and frozen broccoli; boil, simmer, blend!

 

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Ta-da 

Get Better Broccoli Soup

Prep time: 10 minutes – Cook time: 20 minutes – Serves 4 *freezes well*

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic – chopped
  • 1 c carrot – chopped
  • 1/2 c red lentils
  • 4 c veg broth
  • 1 c broccoli
  • 1 Tbs cumin
  • 1 Tbs lime juice

Directions

  • Sauté garlic until translucent
  • Add carrot and continue heating for ~1 minute
  • Add lentils, veg broth, and broccoli
  • Bring to a boil
  • Stir in cumin and lime juice
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes
  • Blend together (I used an immersion blender but a regular blender would work too)
  • Serve, sip, and get better!

 

Food and Lifestyle Book Reviews

Last year, I read some really good books that inspired me. Read on for the titles, authors, and quick synopsis.

No Impact Man by Colin Beavan – This book was left in my office by a co-worker I never met and was going to be thrown out before I swooped it up. It sat on my shelf for a couple months before I finally started reading about Colin’s chronicles of living a life with little to no impact, in Manhattan of all places. I found this book to be eye-opening and inspiring. It really makes you think about how much we all consume on a daily basis. There is also the No Impact Man documentary which I watched after reading the book. Highly recommended!

French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon – I’ve mentioned this book on the blog before and will likely continue to do so. Mike’s sister, Wendy, was reading it last year when we were in Australia for Christmas and she was expecting her first child. Wendy summarized the book as she read (and as we traveled the coast of  Australia) and I couldn’t get enough. I ordered a copy for myself right when we got home and devoured it. I’m not a mother but found this book insightful and very interesting. The author moves from Vancouver to France, where her husband is from, with her two young daughters and spends a year learning the “ways” of the French and their non-picky little eaters, very different from (most) kids here. The book describes cultural differences between how food is viewed, prepared, and eaten in North America vs. in France, along with antidotes and a few recipes for readers to try at home.

A Year of No Sugar by Eve O. Schaub – This book was another winner and really helped me solidify my gripes against sugar. (I realize that sounds snobby but I don’t apologize because sugar is the worst and everyone should know it’s truths. …Not to be dramatic or anything.) Eve and her family* spend a year with a very limited sugar intake. I absolutely loved this book. For some unexplained reason, it made me feel nostalgic for a life I’ve never lived. Eve’s way of describing her hometown in Vermont (in my mind, seemingly perfectly simple… think: Gilmore Girl’s Stars Hallow); paired with her relentless quest for more knowledge about sugar; and her  detailed accounts of her findings, feelings, failings, as well as successes, made for a delightful and educational read!

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*I just realized a commonality in these 3 books are the author’s families and how they are kind of whisked (“forced” sounded too harsh…) into participating in these major lifestyle changes because the mom or dad decided to. As a writer myself this reminds me that we have little to write about besides our own lives, journeys, and stories. Which, for the record, is exactly how I like things to be.

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In the past years I have dabbled in quite a few other books about eating and living a compassionate, healthy, informed and educated lifestyle. Below is a list of those books and a sentence or two about each of them. In the spirit of full disclosure, I didn’t make it completely through all of the following books and, for the ones I did read entirely, it has been years since I’ve finished them, so these descriptions are quick and unrefined.

Food Rules by Michael Pollan – This book is an obvious one. This is basically a staple in any “health conscious” person’s kitchen/home and though, as my grandpa pointed out, Mr. Pollan doesn’t have any credentials in nutrition (he graduated with a degree in Journalism), his thoughts and “rules” resonate with me (and many others!).

Eat only foods that will eventually rot …that’s just good sense. (Although I would respectably add a timeline in there because we all know there’s that smart ass ready to tell us that  McDonald’s goes bad too. Eventually.)

Naturally Thin by Bethenny Frankel – Bat shit cray or not, Bethenny has some good advice to give about letting go and just living, urging you to realize food should not be the devil or your best friend; like her rule You Can Have It All, Just Not All At Once – what a relief and a perspective shift! This book helped me let go of some serious stipulations I was putting on my diet and is recommend as a refreshing take on telling you how to eat. (Which everyone is doing, including myself! Ha.)

The Skinnygirl Dish by Bethenny Frankel – Bethenny lists tools and provides recipes in this book for healthy, non-stress noshing.

Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin – I first read this book in college and still remember the authors advise to Trust No One (not even them). I love this advice to this day because it’s so true! In the end, you know your body better than anyone. With conflicting information from experts telling us Paleo Is The Only Way To Live in one article and then Veganism being The Cure For Cancer in the next, it is especially important to do your own research and come up with your own guidelines. (Expect please know, you can trust me and The Veg Voyage when I say vegetables are, in fact, the key;)

The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone – This book is all about being a Vegan with a capital V and living well… kindly. Surface level, I felt kind of …judged while reading this book (which is certainly not a kind feeling!). Alicia outlines the steps for me to become a vegan and then a “superhero” vegan (someone who, if my memory serves me right, eats only nuts, seeds, and maybe a few leafy greens, like on their birthday, for a treat). But, if you can leave your ego out of it, this book is a good one with a meaningful message. It includes pretty pictures and recipes to start A New Vegan Lifestyle. Yeah!

Overall, I give Alicia props for putting it out there and bringing attention to the matter. You do you, girl – regurgitating your food for your babe and everything.

The Honest Life by Jessica Alba – Okay, I don’t know what the deal is with celebrities writing lifestyle books now (what happened to fragrances!? jLo wants to know!) but I’m completely on board with it. (Yes, I already pre ordered Balancing on Heels by Kristin Cavallari…) Like the next girl (who has dreams of having two kids and looking like Jessica Alba after; if she can do it, I can do it, RIGHT!?) I am a fan of J. Alba and …didn’t regret buying her book. Overall I didn’t LOVE the book – and was more interested in an inside glimpse of her life – but I highlighted a few tips and tricks here and there and I dig her message so, it’s all good. Money well spent.

The Body Book by Cameron Diaz – I should probably give this book a second chance because I could barely get through the first chapter… I like Cameron Diaz well enough but I distinctly remember feeling like I was reading an unedited letter while perusing this book. To me, her thoughts sounded scrambled and sporadic… like she didn’t really have an end goal… but the book seems to align with what I’m interested in so I’ll make an effort to try again and let you know how it goes.

Let me know your thoughts on any of the above books or recommendations you have!

#VegOut

♡ Ashley

Washington… you my jam

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Monday was particularly hard today because we spent the weekend away in Washington and had such a good time! Our friends Morgan and Joe (celebrity name: MoJo) moved to Bellevue last year and because life is so busy, Mike and I were finally able to make it up there for a visit (10 months later). We flew out Friday evening and, to tide us over for the flight, split a beer and a small order of potato skins at the airport. Yum, airport food…………..

We arrived in Seattle around 9pm, a little cold (California is in a serious drought and I haven’t experienced life under 70 degrees in a while…) but mostly just really excited to be there! MoJo got engaged this year (!) and Morgan just started a new job so there was a lot to catch up on our drive to where they live in Bellevue.

Bellevue is this perfect little city (that amazingly isn’t too crowded or dirty) about 10 minutes from Seattle. We stopped at one of Morgan and Joe’s favorite restaurant Lot No. 3 before going back to their apartment. We started the night with drinks (wine for the ladies and beer for the men) while we waited for our table. I expected to be starving by this point but wasn’t actually too hungry when we sat down for dinner. Instead of ordering a full meal I stuck with one veggie slider (which were sold individually) and a side of fries. I’m not sure if it’s more of a mental thing or an actual physical reaction but sometimes eating meat (like the bacon pieces on our potato skins) makes me feel nauseous so I thought it was best to go vegetarian at dinner. Washington has all of these amazing local, organic, vegetarian/vegan options when dining out. Heaven!

After dinner we headed to MoJo’s for a few brews and glasses of wine before bed. Which was after 2am… Which is really late for us now… ( Or, at least for me!)

The next morning was pretty lazy with a late wake up call and a decadent brunch. (My favorite kind of morning!) We went to the Hyatt for unlimited fresh squeezed orange juice(!), eggs Benedict and apple + almond waffles. The food was delicious even in the midst of a reverse hangover…. (I have no idea why but I woke up feeling fine and then progressively started showing signs of a hangover…!?!?)

After brunch we drove around Lake Washington to look at all of the nice houses that  surround the area. (Bill Gates lives here, to give you an idea of the houses there…. $$$$$$$$$$$) After a short tour, I was in some serious need of caffeine so we made a pit stop at Cafe Cesura, a “hip” (do people still say that?) cafe where I really wanted to try a latte but was feeling nauseous again so ordered an organic black English breakfast tea to-go instead.

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I’m in the middle of a 30 day yoga challenge so before we headed out again Morgan and I did a quick yoga sesh. After we namaste’d, it was time to go WINE TASTING. We drove a few miles from Bellevue to Woodinville, which is a super cute little town with a lot different places to wine taste. Our first stop was a smaller place where we snagged a corner table and sipped on rosés, whites and reds. Next we went to Mark Ryan, a trendy, open tasting room recommended to Morgan by a friend. This place had cool high ceilings and a more trendier vibe than our first tasting. I’m not a wine expert by any means (I order the cheapest glass on the menu!) but Morgan knows a lot about different flavors, grapes, etc. Slightly buzzed we decided it was time for some quick appetizers at Purple Cafe. The menu here was amazing and, if it was later, I would have loved to eat dinner here. But since it was barely five, we stuck to small plates to share. We ordered a fig and goat cheese flat bread and an order of spicy prawns and frites. After we chowed down (and sobered up), we recognized this combination was a little strange but does it really matter when you’re on vacation? #no

IMG_1175When we got back to Bellevue, we headed to Earls for dinner. Mike and I had been to Earls a few years ago when we did a trip to B.C. and since most of the locations are in Canada, we were happy to be able to go back! I ordered the chicken tacos with a side Cesar salad and a too-sweet peach cocktail that I couldn’t finish. (Like most of the trip, I forgot to snap a picture until midway through my meal but I can promise, the food tasted a lot better than it looks in my crappy picture…) After dinner we went back to MoJo’s where we were planning on calling it a night until we googled a bar recommended to us from some frequent Seattle visitors and realized it wouldn’t be open the next day before our flight. So we headed back out for a nightcap at  Zigzag,  a speakeasy type bar with old school cocktails. I was already showered and in my pajamas when we decided to go and, typically, I would have wanted to stay in but since Sunday was our last day, I figured why not?! You can sleep on the weekdays, after all.

12063018_424036884458587_671607061_nOn Sundy, our flight wasn’t until 8pm so we still had an entire day left to explore the PNW. After another late-start morning, we walked to a nearby cafe for croissants and lattes. Mike and I split the chocolate + almond and ham + cheese croissants. One savory and one sweet to satisfy both of our cravings. And then we were off to explore Pike Place Market, a major tourist spot in Seattle. We walked around the farmer’s market while sampling chocolates and sipping on organic apple cider. Since California  hasn’t gotten the memo that it’s fall now, it was nice to enjoy some cooler weather and cozier activities. (We’re still swimming on the weekends at home.) After Pike Place we went to Capitol Hill, which is the equivalent to the Castro in San Francisco for Seattle. It was fun to explore another new neighborhood and proves that visiting locals in the best way to travel. In sticking with the theme of local-favorites, we headed to Paseo next. Mike’s old roommate moved up to WA and told usIMG_1184 about this sandwich shop-gem. Word to the wise? IF YOU EVER VISIT SEATTLE YOU NEED TO GO TO PASEO! Mike and I split a Caribbean Roast and Paseo Press while Morgan and Joe stuck to veggie options and got the Onion Obsessed Sandwich and Tofu Delight. In between big bites, messy hands, and giant sauteed onion slices, the four of us raved about Paseo’s food the entire meal.

After our massive, marvelous, sandwiches, it was time to go to the airport. Washington was so much fun with some of the best food I’ve had this year! (Which reminded me of how underwhelmed I was with the food when I was in New York a few months ago… Stay tuned for the post!)

#VegOut

♡ Ashley

Going steady…

Food relationships are a funny thing. Everyone has one because everyone needs to eat to live but they vary from person to person. (As, I suppose, all relationships do…)  Some people don’t think twice about what they put in their mouth and others obsess over it. Some only eat ORGANIC while others are sustained on fast-food alone. There are millions of food blogs, videos, tips and tricks on why, how and what to eat (The Veg Voyage itself is definitely food focused) but, in the end, it’s up to each individual to figure out their food relationship.

Today, I have a healthier food relationship than I did in the past but I still think about food a lot more than the average person does… (based scientifically on my own personal pool of friends, of course;) Not only do I think about food a lot but I love reading and writing about it. Those articles that have celebrities list what they eat in a day? I love those… And you don’t even have to be famous for me to care about what you eat! Who knows about What I Ate Wednesday?! (Though, the fact that this exists, does bring me comfort since it means what other people eat is, in fact, interesting to other people.) There are also these videos on YouTube where people record everything they ate in a day… These are pretty long (some around 20 minutes) and I usually get bored somewhere after their breakfast but … I know they are out there… so, there’s that.

For most of my life, my relationship with food was eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. I’m blessed because I’ve actually enjoyed healthy food my entire life. So, naturally preferring veggies to Big Macs (most of the time!) paired with not over-eating, left me healthy, anxiety-free and able to eat basically whatever I wanted. This way of life continued until one semester in college when I had the crazy idea to schedule my classes only twice a week instead of splitting them up over the five days. I was at school ALL day and, not wanting to be left hungry (or broke from eating out 3 meals a day, twice a week), I began planning my meals, coffee breaks and snacks. This snowballed and suddenly I was planning entire weeks’ worth of meals on Sunday evenings.

Like, every little thing I was ever going to eat.

Oh, and I don’t know if you know this buuutt… most of the time, when something is off-limits (which ALL food was UNLESS it was on my MEAL PLAN), it suddenly becomes the most desired thing you’ve ever  thought about.

So, you know, I continued my meal planning every Sunday, “cheating” most days by having a bite of something that was not part.of.the.plan., feeling bad about it, and then starting the whole thing over again.

My obsession amplified when I transferred to University where I felt out of my element. Scheduling everything I was going to eat went from an obsession to, in retrospect, how I felt … in control in a new environment.

Eventually, I broke free from my scheduling (along with not allowing myself to eat the same thing twice in a day but that’s an entirely different post…) and have mostly fallen back into the habit of eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. I can’t tell you how nice it is to let food just be food. It isn’t this constant source of worry and anxiety the way it once was. I rarely feel bad about eating anything and concentrate on balancing things out instead of making them perfect.

Because really? what is a world without Jack in the Box tacos, amirite?!

Of course, I still have my circumstance-induced moments where I can feel myself turning towards food for the comfort of schedule and stability. For example, on vacations, I get antsy when I don’t know when we will be eating next. Should I eat all of my sandwich because we are having a late dinner or 1/2 because we are getting ice cream after this? There isn’t necessarily a schedule and sometimes that stresses me out. Or, occasionally, if it’s dinnertime and we haven’t eaten, I will want to eat more for the stability on ending your day with dinner than because I am hungry.

No matter what though, everyday, I strive to make sure my relationship with food is healthy, balanced, is given proper attention and care but is not all encompassing.

Time to make dinner!

#VegOut

♡ Ashley

A rocky start to my meatless March

It is March 2nd and my goal for being a public vegetarian has already been shattered. Why? Two words. Carnitas nachos.

Growing up and living in California, Mexican food has played a delicious and prevalent part in my diet. I am obsessed with all things beans, cheese and tortilla. Enchiladas, tacos, burritos, nachos, quesadillas. Give them all to me. Now!

To be clear, the meat in these dishes isn’t the main reason for my love affair with Mexican food. I can happily get down with the vegetarian version of any and all Mexican dishes. You might be asking yourself why carnitas nachos already lead me to failure on my SECOND day of trying not to eat meat out… Well, you see, I can resist the meat but the nachos? the light and crunchy fried tortilla chips smothered with melted cheese and beans? the creamy avocado and flavorful pico de gallo sprinkled on top? I CAN’T SAY NO! With or without a side of animal on top.

So, today, when a friend/co-worker asked if I wanted the rest of her carnitas nachos (key word: NACHOS), I grabbed some of her napkins and didn’t breathe again until all of the ooey gooey goodness was gone. Granted, I probably only ate about 5 chips with meat on them, I still ate meat. I still fail.

Hopefully this is my only slip up for the month week but we’ll see… Did I mention I’m going Nashville in 2 weeks? Is it possible to survive in the south without meat?

#VegOut

♡ Ashley

No More Sausage

It is Trader Joe's Chicken Sausagethe week before the start of my Veg Voyage (starting with public vegetarianism, remember?) and I have one package of Trader Joe’s sausages in the freez
er. This particular sausage isn’t worst on the market, by far. However, I’m not so sure about the quality of the chickens they used to make them and how they were treated (!!!!) so, based on my last post, I won’t be buying them again.

Although I can probably find organic chicken sausages to make at home, I can’t help but wonder about the social impact my new lifestyle will have on my life outside of my house. For example, this past weekend I went to a wedding and ate pork, bacon and steak. And no, I did not check to make sure they were grass fed or organic… I was just there, eating meat and drinking wine, dancing and having a good time.

In perpetration for March, I thought it would be helpful to breakdown the options offered and what I will still be able to eat once I give up meat in the public sector.

For appetizers, I sampled a mini caprese salad on a toothpick (word to the wise, don’t plop the whole thing in your mouth at once… not cute.), seared tuna on crackers, a small potato pancake with a dollop of cream cheese and tiny pulled pork sliders.

Then dinner came which consisted of a nice green salad followed by filet, mashed potatoes and asparagus.

Dessert was made-to-order crepes with Nutella and whip cream.

After some (more) drinks and dancing, there were homemade (!) empanadas that I am assuming had meat, chips and guac.

So? say this wedding was next month. What would I have been able to eat? Being vegetarian the following items would be have still been okay to eat:

  • mini caprese salad
  • small potato pancake with a dollop of cream cheese
  • green salad and whatever the veg option was (I believe it was pasta)
  • crepes with Nutella and whip cream
  • chips and guac

Still plenty of delicious options that I think would/will be totally doable but we’ll see how March goes…

#VegOut

♡ Ashley