YOU GUYS. This recipe is a winner. With one of my closet friends as my inspo (read about her wedding we just went to here), I whipped up this vegan roasted red bell pepper sauce to serve over spaghetti squash tonight and it’s so creamy, you wouldn’t even know there isn’t cheese in it.
I’ll admit, there’s a bit of prep work (more than I usually do on a Monday) with roasting the bell peppers. And I made my own cashew milk, which obviously added time. You can prep the cashew milk the night before to save a few minutes but I do highly recommend making your own nut milk for this one; since it’s a savory dish.
I know you can buy unsweetened nut milk but it just always has a hint of sweet in my opinion. Besides, if you can avoid added ingredients, why not? Making your own nut milk is actually super simple. The only pitfall is it doesn’t keep for too long (no preservatives!) but I’ll give you the exact amounts I used for this recipe below.
That means, this post is actually two recipes in one! Your lucky day, friends.
As mentioned, I put this sauce over spaghetti squash (that I did prep the day before) but you can dip bread and veggies in it or use it as a sub for a more creamy pizza sauce.
“It’s supposed to throw you off balance. It’s yoga.” The instructor told the class as I clumsy struggled to stay in half moon. While trying to focus my attention on an imperfection in the hardwood (a yogi trick to help with balance, picking one spot and starring at it), I couldn’t help but relate the instructor’s words about yoga to life.
It’s supposed to throw you off balance…
Thinking about it more as we transitioned into warrior III, I realized this actually happens a lot: the overlap from my yoga practice to my life. (…Maybe my next book will be titled From My Yoga Mat to My Life.) It’s actually one of the things I love about yoga; how my practice isn’t only beneficial for my body but for my mind and spirit as well. Yoga allows me to disconnect with life off of the mat and reconnect with myself. Plus, the skills I learn on the mat are transferable to everyday life. I like to remember that in yoga, and in life, we are going to be thrown off balance occasionally. I’m trying hard to remind myself that a little instability is okay and normal. It helps us stretch (and wiggle) in new ways and also helps us get stronger.
Just like a hardy bowl of homemade granola! amiright!?
I hate how most store-bought granolas are packed with sugar so I thought I would give it a go and make my own! (I used this video from WhatsUpMoms☀️ as a guide=)
We had a double whammy with weekends away this month from Mexico to a mini family vacation just north of Santa Barbara! A few weekends ago, Mike and I met my grandparents, my mom and Andy, my stepdad, down in Solvang, CA. We took a half day off of work on Friday to beat the traffic and headed down around 1pm. The drive was mostly boring except when we were driving along side the ocean and I was reminded how beautiful California is.
Mike and I arrived at the airbnb we were staying at shortly after my grandparents had. We took a quick tour of the house and I was obsessed!
When I booked our accommodations a few months ago when I had read reviews about chickens living on the property and – more importantly – the fresh eggs that were supplied. Being a health nut, I couldn’t wait to try organic, free range (backyard?) eggs AND meet the chickens who produced them. Sure enough, there were about 2 dozen fresh eggs waiting for us in the refrigerator; plus, organic milk, almond creamer, bagels, cream cheese, orange juice, and organic coffee. Peter and Beverly (the owners of the house) were clearly my kind of people!
Since my mom and Andy were still a few hours away and the four of us were hungry, we decided to check out the Firestone Walker Brewery. Mike and I love trying news beers and this place did not disappoint! I ordered the Easy Jack IPA (yum, yum IPAs!) and Mike got a seasonal sour. For food, my grandma and I spilt the ribs (with mashed potatoes and veggies) and a small plate of mac n’ cheese. Mike ordered the flank steak and my grandpa got a burger with fries. The meal was decadent, delicious, and A LOT of food. (I think it’s fair to say Mike helped us eat a good amount of the ribs and mac.)
After dinner we stopped at a local store for a sweet treat. Armed with 3 different cookies, we headed back to the house and waited for my mom and Andy. My grandpa and Mike are both engineers and get along well. It is always nice for me to sit around with my family and Mike and simply just chat. Some of my best adult memories so far are having my grandparents over for the weekend and spending lazy mornings around my kitchen table, drinking coffee (for me and my grandpa) and tea (for Mike and my grandma) while talking politics (luckily we all generally agree with each other!).
Shortly after my mom and Andy arrived we all went to bed, full from cookies and conversation.
On Saturday morning, between cups of coffee and getting ready, my grandma and I went outside to meet the chickens on the property. Then it was time for some FRESH EGGS (that only Mike, Andy, and I felt comfortable eating). I buy “cage free” eggs at home and hate to admit that – at ~$5 a dozen – organic eggs just seem too expensive… I think this was my first time having an actual organic egg where the chicken was free-roaming. (There was even a little feather leftover on one of the eggs as a reminder!)
After breakfast, we drove into downtown Solvang. Solvang is a cute little Danish town that – in Mike’s words – resembles the ride It’s a Small World at Disneyland. We popped into a small nature museum to start the day. The museum had a scavenge hunt for certain paintings and facts about California’s national parks. To be honest, the scavenge hunt was the only thing that kept me engaged during our museum trip. It was fun to run around the room with Mike, looking for answers, while trying to hide our findings from my mom and Andy.
After the museum, my mom was hungry but – having had a later breakfast – Mike and I were no where near ready for lunch. So, instead, while everyone got a bite to eat, Mike and I went exploring. A few streets away we found Copenhagen Sausage Garden and spilt a grapefruit beer (and a few sweets) while sitting outside on the patio. This beer tasted more like juice than a brew and was perfect for a before noon drink.
We met back with my family to go on a trolly tour of Solvang next. The trolly was $14 a person for a 25 minute tour in a trolly car lead by 2 horses. At first I thought the price was a bit expensive but we learned on the tour how well the horses were treated and I was glad to support that. We also saw a building with a roof made of grass (that, if done properly should last 200 years) and, legend goes that when it rains, outdoor pets will climb to the top of these roofs and start digging and digging to get inside where it is dry. If they were successful in digging, it would be “raining cats and dogs.”
After the tour, Mike and I were ready for lunch. We went back to the sausage garden and spilt a grilled pølse (a red sausage) and a charcuterie board. The board had our favorite cheese, humboldt fog, and different salamis and sausages to dip into mustards. It was a lot of meat and dairy for one meal but worth the splurge!
Next, my grandma, mom, and I hit up a few thrift stores, which is one of the most environmentally friendly things you can do(!), while the guys went to check out a motorcycle museum. We were all pretty tired after so went back to the house for some quick power naps before dinner.
We were celebrating my grandpa’s birthday so went to a nice Italian place nearby the house called Trattoria Grappolo. My grandma and I spilt a Cesar salad and the spaghetti and meatballs (can you tell I love to spilt things?!). The food was good but after eating my first meatball, I realized how much meat I’d had that day. I couldn’t stomach another meatball and stuck to the noodles instead.
The rest of our evening was mellow back at the house, turning in again for another early bedtime.
On Sunday morning, Beverly (our airbnb host), taught us all about the chickens on the property. We were able to feed and massage them too. (Who knew chickens love a good back rub?) After our lesson, we packed up and headed to OstrichLand.
OstrichLand has both ostriches and emus. You are given a bowl of food to feed the birds. The bowl is glued to a metal dustpan and you hold it out, with your arms all the way extended, so the ostriches and emus can stick their beaks in and munch. The ostriches are way more aggressive when eating than I thought so I stuck to feeding the smaller emus. We were only here for about 20 minutes but I recommend going. It’s cheap and cool to see those massive birds up close.
Next we went to Anderson’s Spilt Pea for lunch. Mike and I weren’t hungry this early again so we sat and enjoyed the company instead. (Though I did snag a bowl of Anderson’s famous spilt pea soup!) After lunch it was time to say goodbye and get on the road. 😦
Since Mike and I hadn’t eaten lunch we decided to stop at the other Firestone Walker Brewing Co location in Paso Robles (different location, more north). I ordered the Pivo (and liked it so much we bought a 6 pack to take home) and we spilt a chicken burger and the mac n cheese (again).
The weekend was a huge success with a great place to stay, some of my favorite company, and really good noshes. What else could a girl ask for?!
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.
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
When 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.
On 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 us 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!)
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.
It is the 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…