Eating, Veg/Vegan

Eating Vegan in San Fran!

During our one-week trip to California, we only spent two beautiful, glorious days in the big city of San Francisco. San Fran has always been known for its activism, openness, and emphasis on love and equality, coupled with its stunning natural beauty and penchant for the unique. From block-to-block, there’s no city in the world quite like it.

We knew we’d be spending a few short days in the city, so Terry had been amping me up about the gourmet vegan food world captivated within many of San Fran’s distinctive districts. We walked around the gorgeously forested Golden Gate Park, dotted with wild buffalo, museums, ice cream stands and winding storybook creeks and rivers.

Our first food stop was La Méditeranée in the Fillmore District, a family-owned Mediterranean restaurant that served up old-school Turkish coffee, homemade Baklava, and a full vegan menu. Open since the 70’s, the place was small, quaint and warm, with a flurry of friendly waitresses guiding us through the menu and to our table.

The waitress steered me toward the veganized Mediterrean plate, a standard hodgepodge of plant-based mid-east dishes. It featured grape-leaf Dolmas, baba gounesh, hummus, olives, mixed greens, and homemade falafel. The food was just as incredible as the atmosphere and service – straight-up perfect.

The next day we drove around the bright, rainbow-adorned Castro Dstrict and stepped through an alley of wall art, one of my favorite things to discover in a new city. Gigantic faces boldly declaring equality, unity, peace and love decorated every wall as we wound our way down the street and stepped out into the Mission District.

My friend was ecstatic to take us to Gracias Madre, an artsy tavern serving up organic, locally-sourced vegan Mexican dishes (say whaaaaat!). I was stoked to discover that they served a HORCHATA LATTE, two of my favorite things combined in one.

I was so in love with my mole enchiladas stuffed with potato and zucchini, black beans and kale that I could barely contain myself in public. My boyfriend also got cashew cheese nachos, which we’re definitely made and fried in-house. It’s been a few days and I am still super obsessed with this place!

I also grabbed some vegan ginger snap cookies from Hot Cookies, a quaint little cookie shop in the Castro District. We stopped there after a few drinks and a lot of dancing, and sadly, I forgot to take a picture.

I ate a quick, healthy breakfast at the hotel. After adventuring around the city, we drove through the Pacheco Pass, a long and windy northern California road that cuts through the region’s abundant farmlands. We stopped at a fruit stand to grab avocados, oranges, pickled garlic, eggplant and asparagus to grill at T’s mom’s house in Merced, our final destination. The prices were rock-bottom, and the fresh fruit was top-notch.

We spent the night in the quaint town of Merced, and woke up to an impressive spread of fresh fruit and locally baked bread laid out by T’s mom. I filled up on freshness and grabbed some snacks for the road back to Santa Cruz.

The last meal of our adventure was on the plane to Hawaii, after a long day of traveling. We took a bus from Santa Cruz to San Jose, then the BART to San Fran, an air train to SFO Airport, sprinted to our gate to catch a flight to LAX, then sprinted from our arrival in LAX to our plane departing to Honolulu.

It broke all my traveling rules – we didn’t stock up on enough snacks, we didn’t eat before getting on the plane, we didn’t drink enough water. We were starving, grumpy and lethargic on the plane, and decided to cave in and purchase food. I was stoked to find an all-vegan, non-GMO Tapas box from Delta. It was packed with gluten-free seeded crackers, quinoa and red pepper dip, hummus, almonds, organic dark chocolate, a lemon fig bar, and more. It was surprisingly cheap, filling and satisfying, and I was happy to vote with my dollars to keep the option around.

All in all, it was a busy and fulfilling trip that totally re-stoked my love for vegan food and rekindled my dedication to living a life of kindness. Thanks much, San Fran!

Veg/Vegan

Belated Cinco de Mayo Vegan Enchiladas!


Guys, I totally failed on making and posting this recipe for Cinco de Mayo. In fact, I haven’t exactly done a great job of posting regularly, either. What can I say? Life’s hard. Life’s busy. And for me, life has been a whole onslaught of major life changes, big risks and bold gambles. My poor little blog has simply got lost in the shuffle.

Moving on, I whipped up these gorgeous enchiladas in a belated celebration of the blessed, tequila-and-food-infused holiday that is Cinco de Mayo.  These babies are a healthier, non-fried and dairy-free recipe jam-packed with potatoes, black beans, bell peppers, onions, soyrizo, jalepenos and green chiles. The green sauce is complemented by Daiya jalepeno-havarti cheese and lots of lime, time and love. They’re also quite easy to make, although I can’t promise much on the mess factor.


Here’s what you’ll need:

12 corn tortillas

5 russet potatoes

2 4oz can diced green chilies (don’t drain them – we gon’ use that juice!)

1 large bell pepper

1 large onion

1 can black beans

Soyrizo (found at most grocery & health food stores)

Diaya vegan jalapeno & Havarti cheese block

Coconut oil

1 lime

1 28oz can green Chile enchilada sauce

1 jalapeño, seeds removed

Chili powder, salt, pepper, & garlic to taste

Directions:

First, rough chop the bell pepper, onion, & potatoes. I boiled my potatoes for about 20minutes so they’d cook well with the rest of the filling.


Next, fire up a pan with some coconut oil and start with the onions. Cook until they almost carmelize, throw in a little more oil, and toss in the bell peppers and potatoes. If you like, add some beer! (I always do)


As the veggies cook, add in the can of black beans and the green chiles – they chile juice will help flavor the filling. Also add salt, chile powder, pepper, & garlic to taste and judge by the aroma.


Next, add in the can of black beans, potatoes, and a quarter cup of Soyrizo and mix thoroughly; keep adding more (if need) to taste. Keep cooking until the filling looks fully cooked and limp.

Next, stack your corn tortillas on a plate with a damp paper towel in between each tortilla, and toss them in the microwave for 30 seconds or until they’re limp and malleable. The paper towels help ‘steam’ the toritllas so they are easy to roll.


Next, dump your giant can of enchilada sauce into an even bigger bowl. Set up your ‘station’ with the tortillas first, sauce second, and filling last. Also line a baking sheet with foil & oil and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To move through your station, take each tortilla and do as follows:

  1. submerge tortilla completely in the giant bowl of enchilada sauce and let sit for a few seconds.
  2. Retreive tortilla and place on foil-lined baking sheet
  3. Add filling and roll up!

Do this for all tortillas, and then cover the entire baking sheet with the remaining sauce, ensuring you don’t get too crazy and spill.


Take your Daiya cheese block and grate the cheese ALL over the place.

Cook for 20 minutes and enjoy!

Eating, Veg/Vegan

Training – the Vegan Way


My schedule is  a fitness junkie’s dream: I have two half marathons, two full marathons, a Spartan race and a long season on two different soccer teams crammed into my life before the end of December. While I’ve got lots of training and recovery plans in the works, it only makes sense for me to shift to the most wholesome, healthiest, and ethical diet possible. For me, that’s a vegan diet – whole foods, plant based, and focused on the unprocessed foods I already love. From fruits & veggies to legumes, beans, nuts and seeds, I’m stoked to fill my plate with a powerful array of macro and micronutrients that’ll put my exhausted body at optimal health and recovery speed.


Plus – sorry about it but veganism is pretty badass. From endurance athletes to mma fighters to pro soccer & basketball players, a plant-based diet is the way to go 🙂

I’ll be dutifully blogging my progress, training times and go-to meals as I get through this crazy next few months! I’m happy to share this beautiful way of living, especially when I’m blessed to live on a tropical island with gorgeous farmer’s markets all year long. I may not be an elite or professional athlete, but I am an athlete – and just like abs, endurance, speed and recovery are built in the kitchen.


I’ve gone vegan before, but always fell off the wagon for convenience reasons. I also was a poor, starving college student at the time, so my diet was more junk food vegan than exploring the endless, bountiful world of plants and whole-foods substitutes. Now, however, I’m a working professional that can afford the vast array of veggies, nuts, seeds, sprouts, legumes, beans, starches, and grains that comprise a healthful diet.

I’m proud to tackle this new lifestyle and incorporate it into my training & nutrition. It’s a peaceful, mindful, and of compassionate way of living – and I truly can’t wait to make it my own.

Here’s a few infographics on veganism & athleticism, and the potentials for getting strong & sexy the plant based way!

Uncategorized

Happy World Vegetarian Day!


Vegetarianism isn’t an extreme that involves chalky bakery products and feminist hippies. You don’t have to sentence yourself to a lifetime of chomping on romaine lettuce and feeling awkward in group settings and holidays. Vegetarianism is a beautiful way of living that is better for your body, wallet, animals, and the planet. Yup, that’s right – it’s cheaper, healthier, and damn easy to do, especially given its popularity today. Um, sorry, but even Beyoncé went vegan – and anyone who’s done it will probably tell you that it wasn’t that hard and they felt like a rockstar.

Personally, nixing meat makes me feel lighter, healthier, faster, and more wholesome. I easily get plenty of protein. I don’t eat too many carbs. I’m currently training for a marathon and have barely any issues with tiredness, recovery, fatigue or indigestion, as many first-time marathoners do. And my diet is so cheap and easy I barely have to think about it.

The most important thing to remember about being vegetarian or vegan is this: nobody is perfect. It’s okay to slip up or fall off the wagon. Never forget that every month, day or even meal spent cruelty-free makes a difference.

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Cooking:

Here’s a few of the plant-based proteins I always keep on hand to whip together meals. The easiest thing is to cook the things you’re used to, but just replace them with plant-based options:

Veggie burgers, tempeh, lentils, mock ground beef crumbles, tofu, and every kind of bean on the planet.

For recipes, it’s great to use “meaty” vegetables like butternut squash, mushrooms and even avocados because their thick texture easily makes up for the lack of meat.

Ordering Out:

If you’re not vegan, the easiest thing is to snag some pasta/salad/quesadilla with cheese. If you are, get creative: I’ll often order side dishes, such as steamed broccoli, brown rice, and a baked potato and have an impressive meal for a lower price and save loads of calories, fat, sodium and sugar.

Another great option is dragging your carnivorous friends to ethnic restaurants, especially Vietnamese, Thai,  Mediterranean and Indian food, which have dishes that are traditionally vegetarian and/or vegan. My ultimate favorite is Lebanese food, followed quickly by Vietnamese Tofu Pho and Vegetable Sour Soup.

Here’s a few infographics on the benefits of eating cruelty free 🙂 Have a great day!

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Travel

Travel Tuesday: Vegetarian in London!

Eating animal-free on the go can be troublesome stateside, but in Europe, it’s a cinch. Even in London, I was amazed by the plethora of plant-based choices at pubs, mom & pop’s, hotels and the like.

Warning: If you’re vegan, it’s a whole different story. Cheese, butter & sometimes eggs are prevelant in meat alternatives. All of these choices are sans-meat, but not all are vegan.

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My first (& one of my favorite) vegetarian meals was at a local pub, recommended by the concierge at our little hotel. There, I immediately spotted vegetarian bangers & mash, a meat-free take on classic English fare. The plate featured yummy veggie sausages (the “bangers”) atop a pile of mashed potatoes & peas. I’m not a huge fan of peas, but the English seem to put them on everything – whether they be mashed, creamed, mushy, or firm. I think I’ve officially hit my lifetime limit of peas. Anyways, I loved that I got to try some English food the veggie way, particularly at the very first pub we went to!

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Thankfully, beer is always a good choice anywhere in the world 🙂 Our trip was off to a really good (animal-friendly) start.

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Just like in the States, ethnic food is an easy way to garauntee that delicious, healthy & plant-based abound. In many cousines, veg dishes aren’t just an accident or tossed in the menu to appease vegetarians – they’re main dishes, delicacies and staples. One of my favorite things on the entire planet is Lebanese food, and local spots were dotted all along London’s quaint streets. I feasted on a Batata Harra wrap, a spicy mix of diced potatoes and sautéed veggies, creamy sauce and hummus. It was so delicious I honestly almost cried! I love pairing spice with creamy, and this wrap was cheap and totally blew my mind.

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Thankfully, we were wise enough to order some baba ganoush, an hummus-type dip made of cooked eggplant, oils, tomatoes, onions and spices. Ours even featured some pomegranate and bell peppers, alongside homemade Lebanese pita bread. Yum!!

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As if the meat-friendly meal couldn’t get any better, it totally did. Every table finishes off with a plate of fresh fruit and varieties of Baklava. Each one was so insanely delish that we were fighting over the crumbs like little kids. My favorite was the one in the back with green filling – an uber-yummy pistachio delicacy.

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Another English staple is the crispy, greasy, fried fish & chips – with, of course, a side of peas. I was stoked to find two different pubs that served up a vegetarian-friendly version. The fish filling is made of a certain kind of cheese, which sounds really odd – but the thick texture of the cheese and fishy seasoning were surprisingly close to the real deal. Again, if you’re vegan, this wouldn’t have been an option, but it’s still a welcome gesture that it’s even offered.

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English tea time: a beautiful, adorable, and necessary food-related experience while on the British isle. Tea time was quaint, cool, and a total blast – and eating meat-free was a cinch. My sandwiches came with peeled grapes & brie, and were arguably the best little sandwiches on the menu. I’m totally going to make these at home, tea party or not. The second tier (you work your way up) was filled with yummy scones and clotted cream, followed by some super-sweet little desserts. If you’re vegan, again, tea time would be a toughie.

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We also stopped by an adorable little French cafe on the river outside of Windsor Castle. We feasted on warm bread, a beautiful pea & pumpkin soup (there’s the peas again!) and this delicious, flaky pastry stuffed with goat cheese, olives, and ratatouille. Yea, you read that right. I’m salivating just writing about it – the flaky pastry and ratatouille combo blew any soup & sourdough Stateside experience out the window.

IMG_0405American airports are known for being crammed with overpriced fast food and mile-long Starbucks lines. To be fair, they have been getting a little better with their food chocies, but still pale in comparison to every experience I’ve had in Europe. The UK was no different – we found ourselves starving & overtired, struggling to pick what and where to eat. Since we were also nearly out of money, we popped into a convenience store and found an awesome combo deal for a drink, wrap & snack. I chose this insanely good wrap and a side of edamame & hummus, coupled with an all-natural, no sugar added ginger rootbeer. Why don’t we have this many healthy, affordable options in the States??

I had an amazing time in England – I honestly can’t wait to go back! And, of course, eat more food 🙂 happy travels!

 

 

 

 

Eating, Running, Veg/Vegan

ENERGYbits Product Review

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I wrote a post a few weeks ago about natural preworkout alternatives – how you can fuel your body with coffee & tea instead of getting cracked out on neon-colored, chemical-laden junk. A little bit after, I was lucky enough to get a sample of ENERGYbits in the mail! I’m always on the hunt for  holistic workout options, so I was stoked to give these green little powerhouses a try.

I’d promised myself I’d go on a run when I got home today, but I had a long day at work. I was mentally frazzled & physically exhausted, but obediently forced myself to make my run happen. I figured it was the perfect time to try the ENERGYbits, since I really needed a boost just to muster up the energy to lace up my shoes.

Despite their deep green color, the bits lacked any odor or flavor. They were smooth & easy to swallow, and I took them 15-20 minutes before leaving my house. I didn’t expect to feel much (since they were so small and suspiciously non-neon colored) and still felt sluggish as I embarked into the chilly evening.

About a mile into my run, though, my pace picked up. I docked a minute off my second mile, and my body felt a little lighter and faster with each step. It wasn’t until mile three that I remembered, “hey, I took those tablets! They’re totally working!” Instead of overwhelming my body in a chemical-fueled rush, the bits lifted my energy naturally and comfortably. There was no flushed, red skin, prickly hands and feet, or racing heart beat, but they definitely worked.

I ended up running four miles and a decent negative split. The ENERGYbits felt like they freed my body from its own grogginess, allowing it to have a great workout. My run, in fact, turned my crappy day at work right around! I loved the bits, and would love to have about a zillion more samples to try with different workouts.

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Sooo…..what are ENERGYbits??

These cute, green little tablets – bits, if you may – are 100% spirulina. This algae is a super star among super foods, touting the highest concentration of protein in the world, over forty nutrients, and plentiful amino acids to soothe & rebuild cells and muscles. This stuff is downright awesome. As quoted from their website:

“Our organically grown spirulina is NON GMO, 100% natural, 100% green, carbon neutral, has only ONE calorie per tab and contains no sugar, no caffeine, no chemicals, no gluten, no soy, fillers or anything artificial.”

So, it’s basically every fit girl’s dream? Pretty much. Spirulina helps fight fatigue, hunger, and cravings, and promote athletic performance, weight loss, physical energy.  This blue water algae also helps build muscle and strengthen bones, nails, hair & skin. It’s also a great alternative to animal protein! Vegetarians & vegans – especially active ones – are always in need of protein alternatives.

got-algae_energy2Ingesting algae sounds a  little icky, but as I mentioned before, the bits don’t really have any taste or smell to them. They were so easy to take, and I liked that they were effective without all the crazed/crack-ish side effects.

The ENERGYbits were great, but the company also makes SKINNYbits, RECOVERYbits, and VITALITYbits, each with their own mix of superstar algae-based ingredients. I’d love to try some of their other bits, and would definitely reccommend using these as part of your workout routine!

If you’d like to learn more or snag some ENERGYbits, click here!

Eating, Veg/Vegan

Vegan, Dye-Free Shamrock Protein Shake



With St.Patrick’s Day upon us, McDonald’s has brought back its famous Shamrock Shake. The eerily green, minty concoction might mark Saint Patty’s, but its quite the nutritional sin. A sixteen-ounce medium touts a whopping 550 calories and eighty-two grams of sugar (yea, you read that right!) This seasonal treat racks up almost four times the daily sugar intake recommended for the average woman.

Thankfully, we can curb our shamrock cravings with this healthified version. This easy-peasy vegan version is comprised of a few ingredients thrown into a blender and viola! instant minty yumminess. 



This shake is packed with protein, potassium, and micronutrients and is low in calories, carbs, fat and sugar. Using frozen bananas for texture and kale & real mint for color, sip this mock shamrock shake instead. It only takes a few minutes to whip up, and you can customize by adding less or more mint, kale and sweetener.

Ingredients:

1 large frozen banana

1cup kale (frozen works best)

1 cup almond milk

1/2 packet stevia ( or honey/sweetener of choice)

1 small handful fresh mint leaves

1 scoop protein powde

Mix all ingredients together and enjoy!