Kittens, final classes, vegfest, oh my!

Hi! I’ve been slacking a bit with my posts, but with good reason!

First, I adopted a kitten!

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He’s the best. He was already named when we got him. His name is Sam (his litter mates were all named after Lord of the Rings characters), but we like to call him Sammy. He’s so playful and cuddly but also a little skittish.

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(oh, and as you can see I am rocking a new colorful hair style!!) I’ve been spending a lot of time with him, bonding and such. He was really scared at first and was skeptical of sleeping in my bed, but now he likes to cuddle with me in it, especially in the mornings. He’s keeping me on a better sleep-wake routine which is awesome. He is 13 weeks old, and we got him when he was 12 weeks. He really loves people too, lots of people have met him so far, and he isn’t afraid or timid of any of us.

Next up on my big news, I finished all the work for my degree! As part of one of my classes, I made a new website too and got business cards! You can check it out at veg-edu-ables.com! I’m hoping to start mentoring people who want to be vegan near me, and doing other things like cooking classes, food demos, providing food for different organizations, helping with people’s writing (which can be for anything, vegan or otherwise, but most of my writing has something to do with veganism, so that’s why it’s there too!), and more! I finished all my work for my Bachelor of Science degree on October 18, 2015! I will have that paper in my hand some time after December 31st! (My college has 8 week terms, where you take 2 classes each term for a total of 4 classes per semester). I’m so happy to be done early and have some time to really start working on some of my awesome projects!

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This calls for some celebration!

Part of that celebration was going to the Boston Vegfest! I went there today with my mom…my mom was really excited because she’s lactose intolerant and could have cheese and chocolates and all kinds of stuff! She’s never actually been somewhere that she can have so much stuff at! I got a lot of cool stuff, some for my birthday coming up this Thursday the 29th…

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I couldn’t decide what stickers to get at Herbivore so I got a ton…also some pins from Compassion Co.

I also got this gluten free magic bar from FoMu:

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I also got a vegan bacon chocolate bar from Rescue Chocolate, a t-shirt with a cow on it that says “Create Kindness” from Herbivore, some (vegan of course) sour cream and chive cashews, some Pulsin protein bars (it’s really hard to find good gluten free AND vegan protein bars), and tons of free samples. My mom was especially excited that So Delicious was giving away free full size mocha ice cream pops, her fave! (I was surprisingly not very hungry and so I didn’t eat that much stuff until I had a vegan hot dog that came in a gluten free wrap and had a delicious kale salad, coconut bacon, and chipotle mayo on it!! yum!) It was a really great day and my mom actually loved it, which I was a little worried she wouldn’t like it as much as she did! 🙂

I came home and made some pizza with Schar’s gluten free crust which makes pizza so much easier for me. It was a buffalo chicken ranch pizza.

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I made it by spreading the buffalo sauce on the crust, putting a mix of Follow Your Heart (hand-shredded) mozzarella and cheddar on top, cooking up Beyond Meat vegan chicken strips and then cutting them into pieces and putting them on top…then I baked the pizza. When it was done I drizzled this amazing vegan ranch dressing I found at my local grocery store!

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It’s so good, it has a coconut milk base. I love it! And they have other varieties that are both gluten free and vegan that I want to try too! 🙂

So yeah, it’s a really easy pizza to make. I also made a similar one not too long ago with bbq sauce…

Anyways, that’s the update, hope you’re having as much fun as I am lately!!

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Done with the semester! Woohoo! A Black Forest Cake Smoothie recipe to celebrate!

Hi everyone!

I’m super excited. Yesterday I finished all my work for the term at college. I have one class this summer, and two classes in the Fall before I complete my Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational and Community Studies and Psychology (It’s a bit of a mouthful, I know!) Since I am so close, I will be walking with my class at College Unbound this May 30! I’m so excited. In two weeks I will be giving a special presentation on my journey towards this achievement and feeding people delicious vegan treats!

Anyhow, I think I’ve created the most delicious vegan protein smoothie ever!! It’s a Black Forest Cake Smoothie! For a long time as a child, my brother would request black forest cake every birthday. It was his favorite, and sometimes difficult to find. Last week, this obsession of his randomly popped into my mind, and I realized what a great smoothie it’d be!

Here is the recipe (feel free to add stuff/substitute as desired):

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Vegan Black Forest Cake Protein Smoothie (Gluten free):

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 scoops (depending on serving size) vegan chocolate protein powder (I used Vega One)
  •  3 tbsp Glutino Brownie Mix (or other gluten free and vegan cake or brownie mix, I like Glutino because it has mini chocolate chips in it!)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 cup organic, vegan, gluten free cherry pie filling
  • 1 1/2 cups of your favorite vegan non dairy milk (I used almond milk, but coconut milk from a can would be even more amazing!)
  • Handful of baby spinach (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a blender, blend everything together until smooth.
  2. Serve in a cup. If you use a small straw, some of the chocolate chips from the brownie mix may get stuck inside, so beware.
  3. Enjoy, it’s delicious!!

I’m so happy that I’m so close to being done with school and have a bit of a break! I am looking forward to posting here a bit more frequently!!

Another blog? Yup! And some other exciting plans!

Hey everyone!

I have started to train for a half marathon. Don’t ask me why I am thinking this is a good idea as Winter is just about starting, but regardless, I am.

In response to my training I have decided to start a blog where I document what I am thinking about while on my runs. Sometimes I think about some really interesting stuff, other times not so much, but either way I thought it would be cool to see. I hope to inspire people with the way that I share my thoughts and that’ll encourage them to tackle things they think are scary but want to do anyhow (like how I did with running).

You can check it out here at http://streamoflaura.net

Over my winter break from school I’ve decided to produce a cookbook zine. I am hoping it will be ready to go by January 20, but we shall see! It’s going to be chock full of kid-friendly recipes, since it is about my favorite recipes that I grew up with turned vegan, and the memories I have about them.

For a project with school right now, I am designing a series of posts for this blog about Labor History for vegans. I hope to educate my readers about issues of labor in our food choices and how we can understand labor issues past and present and consume foods that are not just helping save non-human animals, but also are treating the human workers that make our foods nicely and honoring their rights. Look for that, as well as some more educational topics I will be exploring soon!

Vegan Mofo day 24: Worldly Wednesday: Walnut Meat, tofu ricotta, and pesto lasagna

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Hello everyone! I’m very excited today because I just got put up on my college program’s website about the work I’m doing. They interviewed me and I talked about my blog and my future plans of incorporating a vegan project into my education plan.

You can view that article here!

Anyways, on to the food!

This lasagna is quite rich with the walnut meat, and has tons of protein due to the tofu ricotta, and a healthy dose of greens due to the pesto (with basil and parsley!).

This walnut meat here is very similar to my earlier recipe but changed slightly to change the flavor from a hamburger style to a more italian style. The tofu ricotta is also quite similar to the one for the pizza recipe I posted earlier on Sept. 12, but I changed it again because there is a separate basil factor with the pesto, so extra basil in the ricotta was not necessary.

Here is the recipe:

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Ingredients:

For the walnut meat:

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 portobello cap
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes in juice, no salt added, canned
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the pesto:

  • 2 cups basil, packed
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley, not packed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

For the ricotta:

  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • 1 tsp salt free italian seasoning blend
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 3 tbsp water

Other necessary ingredients:

  • 1 & 2/3 cup Tomato sauce, either homemade (your favorite recipe) or store bought (I love Victoria brand marinara)
  • no-boil vegan lasagna noodles
  • 1/3 cup Daiya brand vegan mozzarella style cheese, optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Prepare the walnut meat. Place walnuts, onion, garlic and portobello into a food processor and blend until everything melds together but remains chunky.
  3. Place this mushy walnut meat into a bowl, and fold in the remaining ingredients.
  4. On a parchment lined baking sheet, pat down the “meat” into a thin layer with a spatula.
  5. Bake 15 minutes. Take out of the oven and with a spatula, scrape up the “meat” and flip it.
  6. Bake for 15 more minutes and set aside.
  7. Prepare the pesto. First place the basil, parsley, and garlic and chop in the food processor until finely ground.
  8. Add the pine nuts and olive oil into the mix, and blend. You will need to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula to ensure that everything gets properly mixed together and to get a good consistency. Set aside, in a bowl, but leave some of the remnants of the pesto in the food processor for the next step.
  9. Make the ricotta by adding all the ingredients into the food processor and blend until smooth. Scrape down the sides with the rubber spatular once or twice to get everything together.
  10. Grease a 9 x 13” pan with cooking spray.
  11. Lay out three dry lasagna noodles (or more if you could not find the no-boil type after boiling them, of course) on the bottom of the pan.
  12. Spread 2/3 cup of the sauce on top.
  13. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta and pesto on top.
  14. Crumble and sprinkle 1/2 the batch of the walnut meat on top with your hands.
  15. Place another layer of dry lasagna noodles on top and repeat steps 12-14.
  16. Place the final layer of noodles on top, and add just 1/3 cup of the sauce and the remainder of the pesto and ricotta (with the ricotta on the top layer!)
  17. Sprinkle 1/3 cup daiya mozzarella on top.
  18. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes.
  19. Let sit 10 minutes after taking out of the oven, and enjoy.

photo 1 (4)The pesto

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The ricotta

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The first layer of the lasagna

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Buon Appetito!

An Update finally! As of yesterday I am a graduate with an Associate’s degree!

Hurray! I graduated from my community college yesterday with high honors (my gpa ended up at a 3.72!). This was an extremely important milestone in my life, as it’s been a long time coming, and there was a point in my life where I never thought I would graduate from any college or even finish a semester. 

 

ImageAfter the ceremony and reception, we went to a local restaurant, Blaze, which has a whole section on the menu of vegan dishes. I got the Penne with pink vodka sauce, which also had a variety of mushrooms in it, and a huge portobello mushroom on top. It was quite good.

Then we went home, I whipped up some hot fudge sauce and some coconut whipped cream, and this happened:

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A vegan hot fudge sundae with FoMu salted caramel ice cream. FoMu is a Boston based vegan ice cream company that just started selling pints of their ice creams in RI Whole Foods stores! It is pricey but so worth it! http://www.fomuicecream.com/

I’m really excited to have graduated, and I’ll probably relax for a few days, and then get back to regular blogging activity! The last month and more of this semester was tough, but I got through it (even got straight As!) 

 

 

 

mish mosh of things and the week in review of foodie photos (albeit a day late!)

Yesterday there was no post because I was so tired! I had to get up really early and go to an event at the school I plan to go to for Culinary Arts and hopefully nutrition! I got to try out working in a culinary classroom for three hours. I made the quinoa salad that was on the menu, which was nice. I was really scared/nervous and struggled a bit due to that, but I am so excited to learn more, and I learned so much in that short amount of time! It was so enjoyable and went by really fast, there was no time to spare!

I am looking forward to starting in the Fall!

I have decided to try to only use my banana ratings system for vegan products and companies that I try now. The reason for this is because I want to be supportive of people like me or my vegan chef role models even if I don’t love a recipe as much as I would like to. I will still make suggestions and tips and maybe some constructive criticism when necessary, but will try to be more positive from now on. I think that’s fair because I would like the same types of things said about me and my recipes.

I made some really good food this week!

Here are some pictures/descriptions/links to them!

Buffalo Cauliflower (Made without hot sauce!) with dill cashew dip

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This recipe was amazing! I ate so much of it! I love that it does not use bottled hot sauce and instead uses herbs and spices to make your own. This way, I could control the sodium content and it was not ridiculous in that regard. It was extremely tasty, too. I put a little more cayenne in it and it was the perfect hotness. The dip blew me away though! It tastes exactly like blue cheese somehow!! I liked it so much that I am going to make it again this week!

Tempeh Sloppy Joe’s

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My picture definitely lives up to the “sloppy” title. Oops. I found this recipe here.. It was quite tasty and I loved that it had so many servings of vegetables in it! The cooked cherry tomatoes were a great idea. I added black olives (although I did not like how they tasted in it really), chopped scallions, and tofutti sour cream into half a pita. I did mix the tempeh with the sauce.

I think that was it, I had lots of salads and was eating leftovers from last week too!

This upcoming week you should get some really great ideas/inspiration from the recipes I will be cooking from! Or at least, have to wipe up your watering mouth. Hopefully I’ll be able to post at least on Friday, but it depends on my schedule and school stuff!

This is a non food related post. It’s about my personal transformation in many ways

Awhile ago, I was having a conversation with a friend whom I had not talked to in a long time, but we are friends with each other on facebook. She said, “this is your year.”

I told her I didn’t want just this year to be my year.

I actually think this next calendar year will be even better! I have a lot planned for it. But really, I think each year can get better and better, considering all the things I have accomplished this year, and how much my attitude and mindset has changed!

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In 2013, starting in April (I’m not one to care about new year type things really, I need more personal reasons to make change in myself), I have gone from being very unhealthy with my food choices, to being a conscious, healthy (with unhealthy vegan food in moderation, which I personally feel is important) vegan. I have lost 65 pounds. I have made working out a routine. I have tackled many of my fears, for example, being afraid to run, math, making up my own recipes, etc. I have started this blog and though I don’t write in it as much as I’d like to or as much about what I want to write about, I keep up with it and do it. I have even improved my health in measurable ways, like my hemoglobin a1c levels, my bmi, my blood pressure, my cholesterol, and my iron levels (they were very low). I took on an important role in an organization I love and that empowers me and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy (Girls Rock). I have tried to make practice of being more creative and doing more awesome things. I am starting to work on having a better social life, something I’ve been neglecting to do for awhile.  I accidentally discovered a recipe I created two years ago was semi famous. And other awesome things I am forgetting or not putting a priority on.

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Next year though, I believe will be even better. I will graduate a college program, something I have been longing for a very long time but never quite achieved. That’s a big one for me. I would like to see if maybe I can win the contest to speak at my graduation, but that’s not something I can control the outcome of (I also think I might start bawling if I started to speak about all the things I’ve accomplished during my time in school. It’s one thing to write about it, but to speak it? heh). I will continue to write in this blog.  I plan to either start a new college program, or begin to work on my career goals. I will volunteer at an animal shelter (which I’m actually starting this year after finals hopefully). I will be a vegan for the longest stretch of time so far. I will continue to be a healthy person and have goals for that…including running a 5k by the time I turn 30 on my Birthday in October (or thereabouts), and starting to lift weights. I will have stronger relationships with my friends. Most importantly, everything about me will get stronger. My mind, body, everything.

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My mom and I! She’s a big supporter 😉

I am sharing this because maybe someone is reading my blog and is feeling badly about their ability to meet their goals, or get healthy, or change their bad habits, or whatever else. I want to inspire people, that’s my primary goal. Well, that and help as many people as possible. If 2013 is the year of the Laura and 2014 will be an even better year from what I can see and so on for the rest of my life, then other people can do the same thing! I don’t want to spew too many cliches. But really, believe me when I say that anything you put your mind to is possible.

Okay. Now here’s the part where I talk about what/who has helped me out when I thought I couldn’t do it. I’m not going to mention everything, but there are some clear, concise things I want to share that everyone can use if they want to.

Mostly it’s just support from other people. Like especially my mom, my aunt, my friends, mentors, doctors, etc.

Also myself, which I’ve already alluded to. Like really. It’s all about my mindset. I watch the Biggest Loser sometimes on tv, and I would tell myself I am my own biggest loser, as silly as it sounds. Actually it’s not really silly. It’s true. I did it without having to go on a tv show that’s actually pretty extreme and a last resort kind of thing. Or, I’ll be my own therapist sometimes, by anticipating the advice another person would give me, but instead it’s me giving myself actually helpful advice, and then just doing what the advice tells me I should do instead of waiting to feel bad I haven’t done it, or have someone else telling me to do it. Like today, I beat my own personal record for running. First of all, I walk and run in intervals, and I keep track of my progress with an app called Runkeeper. Usually I have been setting my activity to “walking” but today, I was like “okay I am going to run!” and set it to run. And I ran. I ran as far as I could for as long as I could, as fast as I could, until I needed to walk, and kept going for 45 minutes. Plus, I set a goal to run faster than my usual record when I was walking more. I wanted to go just under 13 min/mile. Instead, I ran 11:51 min/mile! I was proud and sort of in shock. But I am not surprised. If someone else could hear the awesome things I was telling myself while they were running, I bet they’d do just as well (considering some factors, of course).

Another final thing I want to mention, to make it more inline with the purpose of my blog which is spreading, sharing, and showing the awesomeness that comes with being a vegan is this facebook group I belong to. I really like to follow the work of Christy Morgan, author of the Blissful Bites cookbook, and awesome athlete/vegan educator extraordinaire. After commenting on one of her photos on instagram, she asked me if I belonged to her vegan ladies who lift facebook group. I was hesitant because I don’t think I am ready to be lifting weights quite yet, but she still encouraged me to join. And it’s one of my favorite vegan facebook groups! It is so supportive and everyone there is awesome. Not only do I get inspired by so many other strong vegan ladies, but I can also inspire others there. And it’s very informative and just…really cool for lack of a better description. So, I highly recommend it if you’re a vegan lady and interested in also getting stronger.

Okay, well, sorry this isn’t about food this time! But I hope this is just as tasty a read as any of my other entries. And I hope you were inspired in some way from my story. Here’s to having each year be the year of us for a very long time!