A semi-(cook)book review: Glowing from the Inside Out via Oh She Glows

When I first stumbled upon Angela Liddon’s blog last summer, I was initially stunned by her photographs of food, nature, and even common kitchen utensils, all elevated to items of worship. Then, I reached the next stage of the OSG nirvana: actually COOKING the multitude of recipes she had tested, tried and true. I consider the Oh She Glows blog my gateway into vegan cooking, and, the opened the door into a entirely new perspective on good.

Clearly, it would have seemed ludicrous NOT to order her cookbook: “The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Over 100 Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Out.” Wait, can you still see this? Or am I glowing too much? Because I have inhaled the recipes tried thus far from this must-have guide to cooking vegan like a pro.

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The Green Monster, while not a new recipe of hers, has become my new morning go-to breakfast. I love the dash of cinnamon (mine becomes more of a good teaspoon). Check out the new glassware obtained over the weekend in celebration of Deep River Brewing’s one-year anniversary shindig (after drinking lots of North Carolina beer this weekend, this smoothie tasted extra good on Monday morning).

As part of my lunch series for this week, I tried her Protein Power Goddess Bowl: chocked full of lentils, quinoa (recipe calls for wheatberries but surprise, surprise, Kroger doesn’t sell them), red onion, bell pepper, tomato, and this UH-MAZING lemon tahini goodness dressing:

IMAG1643Hello giant spoon – shovel away!

Feeling like some spice in your life? Then her Quick & Easy Chana Masala will satisfy you beyond measure.

IMAG1620 Serrano, take me home.

Between the toasted cumin seeds, fresh ginger, garlic, garam masala and additional spices fusing with the chickpeas and diced tomatoes over hot basmati rice (which I had not had in WAY too long), this is a must add to your weekly rotation. While we normally try to avoid eating any “white” rice, it would be a disservice to this dish (in my humble opinion, of course!) to have it over anything BUT basmati – authenticity is key!

Thanks to a friend’s push via social media, I was inspired to take another stab at homemade hummus, and Angela’s cookbook offered her classic hummus. She touts using homecooked chickpeas as the ultimate base. While my bag was a bit too low to make for this batch, I opted for canned but DID pop each chickpea out of its skin (while watching “The Simpsons” on Sunday – definitely made the task a bit more pleasurable).

IMAG1640Take that, chickpea skins!

IMAG1642The result!

Now, it is VERY creamy, as she noted, and it does have a different texture than other homemade hummus recipes I’ve tried sans removing the skins.  It has thickened up greatly in the fridge over the last 48 hours, so I’m learning how to thin it out a bit (although it spreads sooooo nicely on our wraps).

Finally, for now, I was in need of more detox last week (what does that say about our weekend adventures as of late??), so I made her Eat Your Greens Detox Soup.

IMAG1622Let’s call this a little spring cleaning.

To put it eloquently: I freaking loved this soup. Tons of veggies (onion, carrots, kale, mushrooms, broccoli) and some seriously enticing spice combinations of fresh ginger, tumeric, cumin, cinnamon and some black pepper. Honestly, I DID feel better both while and after eating it.

So, more to come from this fantastic resource. If you are still on the fence because you don’t want to add another cookbook to your shelf, don’t listen to yourself: get it. You won’t regret it.

 

And then I became a commuter.

Outside of the extenuating circumstances of required travel, I have been dubbed “lucky” by others for the reason that I have essentially avoided a work commute since joining the world of employment. In fact, the longest round-trip I have undertaken up until this past week was a park-and-ride situation back in Phoenix (circa 2004). The drive itself was only about 15 – 20 minutes each way, and then I had the luxury of cracking open a book and allowing myself the next 30 minutes, each way, to get lost in the pages while someone else ensured I arrived safely to be destination. If that’s not a slice of heaven, I don’t know what is.

Now, I am one of the masses, letting time to slip away while confined to my steel cage (with the “check engine” light still illuminated 14 months later), oblivious to the victories and tragedies of those in nearby lanes. Flipping back and forth between “Team of Rivals” (On disc 24 of 36 – in the midst of the Civil War!) and NPR,  I keep focused on my surroundings because driving in the Triangle is auto dodgeball. Of course, I consider myself an excellent driver. Does everyone say that? Perhaps, but I do know that my intuition (thank you ENFJ preferences) and assertive nature allow me to avoid the mistakes of (most) everyone else behind the wheel.

It does make one’s jaw drop to witness the sheer lack of awareness visible on our roads these days. When did the actual act of driving become our second or third priority? Checking texts and email, making calls, applying lipstick, eating breakfast, putting on pants – it’s like our vehicles have become our second offices, bedrooms, and even bathrooms – and we’re okay with this? We shouldn’t be, especially when staying in one’s lane seems more like a suggestion than an actual safety precaution.

traffic blogAhhhhh…life on the open road…of three feet in front of you.

One of the benefits of this longer commute has been the “me time.” One of the reasons I sought new employment was to be in an office setting to foster collaboration, better communication, and more functional relationships. But, I have forgotten how distracting it can be – I know, obvious statement, right? But when you have been in your own nook for two years, silence was my go-to partner, and frankly, she’s great for knocking out thoughtful responses and conjuring up the right words to add to a strategic plan.  Now, she sits in my passenger seat to and from Raleigh (although she is often muted by All Things Considered).

The time of “decompression” is splendid – even on the morning of my second day where an accident on the Interstate added an additional 45 minutes to the journey. On that day, I felt a strong sense of camaraderie among my fellow commuters. Alas, we were all in the same position: needing to be somewhere, likely 20 minutes ago, and with zero control on changing our situation. The strange sense of kinship during that stop and go period took me by surprise, but I want to relish more moments like that. Frankly, it’s too easy to continue to always identify what makes them different…or bad drivers.

First week of commuting in the books. First week on the new job: exciting, exhausting. Moving into the world of environmental and political advocacy is one – similar to previously working in organ donation – that never crossed my mind as a potential career path. Fortunately, it has, and I embrace what my role in it evolves into over time.

Hello, pizza night.

Friday nights in America. Back in the day, we had the telephone number of the local pizza delivery restaurant memorized (these days, I’m sure there’s an app for that. Or, why call? Just order online!) I have fond memories of the Pizza Hut specialty: the Bigfoot (almost 2′ of pizza goodness). Do you recall this brilliant innovation of food gluttony at its best?

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Toppings? Not really. Well, just extra-extra-extra cheese. I KID YOU NOT. We did order multiple layers of ooey, gooey cheese. Square pizza + 5lb of cheese per slice = one happy kid.

Since the 90s, pizza night has changed quite dramatically in our lives. Last week, we indulged in a pizza night, which had been hiding from our kitchen for months. Now, I’ve done homemade dough, and I will note that I enjoy Bob’s Red Mill’s Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Mix for a nice chewy texture.

But, when one is not in the mood to make crust, my best bet? Trader Joe’s. The chilled pizza dough (which now comes in THREE flavors: white, wheat, and now a fancy herb blend). But, this would be our first homemade pizza sans cheese. Granted, I still don’t miss cheese. Yet, I wondered: how would I feel about not seeing (or smelling) the bubbling, browning topping, giving me the signal that “the pizza is done!”?

Pizza #1: Trader Joe’s marinara sauce base with roasted butternut squash, spinach, and yellow squash (it was a 100% TJ’s pizza).

IMAG1615Colorful!

Pizza #2: Stubbs BBQ sauce, “real” chicken, portabella mushrooms. sauteed onions/garlic, sauteed Brussel sprouts

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The After:

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The second photo should reveal that we dug into the pizza ASAP. Personally, I enjoyed the spinach ‘za much more than the second, mainly due to my lack of love toward the fake chicken. The texture was just…too soft. If using again on pizza or other dish, I would grill it first to give it a nice crispy, slightly charred flavor.

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This dish also marked the official end to my career with Donate Life North Carolina and the world of organ, eye and tissue donation. I have ventured into the world of environmental advocacy – more, for sure, to come from this transition!

What are your “must have” toppings on your pizzas? Anything off the wall that you would recommend?

Recap: Merge 25k

March is almost over.  That statement washes relief over me simply due to the insanity that has been the last 30 days. Amid the transition from previous employer to (almost) current and the epic collegiate sporting event that is March Madness, I donned my kicks for Merge Records 25k race on March 22.

Runners from across the country trekked to Durham for the 25 kilometer race. As written on the  Merge 25k page, we were invited to: “Celebrate 25 years of independent music—kilometer by kilometer—with Merge Records!” And, this was just the kickoff event for more festivities and parties to come for the silver anniversary.

Despite spending my Friday day and night indulging in basketball at PNC Arena for the second round of the NCAA Men’s Tournament (that started with a face-melting upset of Mercer over that one school), I actually felt great come Saturday morning. To say it was an ideal morning for running would be an understatement. A slight chill tinged the air prior to the 7:30am start, but most of us recognized that our goosebumps were temporary. Tackling 15+ miles would warm our bodies, minds, and spirits (or would that be from the DJ booths stationed throughout the course?).

While I normally abhor race photos of me (not to mention my lack in understanding why I would ever want to pay $17 for a photo of me in awkward poses), I did chuckle at my attempt at some badass facial expression here (or am I grimacing?)

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Two things I learned to love from this race:

1) The Metric system: running with kilometers markers instead of miles invigorated my self-confidence (what?! I’ve already ran 6k!) Whether one considers that merely a mind game is fine by this proponent of moving all things into the base 10 system. Of course, each time runners achieved said “miles”, the alarms, whistles and buzzers on their various technological aids rang out, shattering the fragile hold of the non-US standard of measure (just briefly though because soon enough, another beautiful kilometer marker shone in the distance!)

2) Point-to-point races: While it wasn’t my first point-to-point race by any means, stretching out 15.5 miles from Chapel Hill to Durham reminded me how much I appreciate the geographic scheming (and likely organizer sweet-talking) that goes into avoiding the out-and-back routes. During training runs, out-and-backs are where it is at. But, the ability to progress forward rather than face the dreaded orange cone or similar marker requiring the tight turn of doom (I always feel time slows down during those moments) adds such a higher level of enjoyment.

For the last quarter of the race, I found myself flanked between a Catherine and another Katie. Catherine and I (pictured below post-race) found ourselves respect each others apparel choices for that morning’s run.

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Note that really hot guy in orange over my shoulder.

Overall, I loved the course. The Chapel Hill section was an area I had never explored, and it provided a great deal of downhill sections. Not surprisingly, the Durham portion brought just the opposite, with some tougher inclines, especially one last hill right before turning left into the finish (it was one of those hills where, upon turning the corner, I loudly cried out: “Oh my lord” and not in a contemporary Christian singing type of way).

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Yes, I wear that shirt in almost all races. RUNDRM!

25 kilometers crushed in 2:03:03. I had been looking forward to this race, and it did not disappoint. Will there be a 26k next year? One can only hope.

Planning 101: Foraging Fare While Traveling

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Three weeks done. One more to go. I’m halfway through “Team of Rivals” on CD and have logged more than 2,500 miles on my Corolla (check engine light still shines brightly one year later). I’ve driven by the Nantahala River, over the bridge connecting the Outer Banks to Manteo, through Pisgah National Forest, and near the infamous battleship in Wilmington. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the most daunting task for me this year wasn’t necessarily the hours behind the wheel or ensuring my transmission didn’t give out winding up Highway 276 in extreme fog. I was more concerned about: what am I going to eat? (Perhaps less of a surprise since I love to think about food)

Fortunately, this here thing called the Internet makes lessens any dietary concerns thanks to sites like Yelp and other vegan resources (shout-out to Vegan Carolina!) giving the 101 on places that accommodate the plant-based lifestyle.

The photo above comes from Flaming Amy’s Bowl in Wilmington [note: she does apparently have a Burrito Barn in Wilmington as well!]. Back in Phoenix, we had a similar Mongolian-style “build your own bowl” restaurant called Wok Wok that sadly closed in just a couple of years. I was ecstatic to find this gem in New Hanover County. It offered tons of vegetables, plant-proteins (tofu, black beans), and vegan sauce options. If you go, go hungry: all-you-can-eat deliciousness.

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The following day, I ended up at the Tidal Creek Co-Op to mooch free WiFi in between presentations. Above, please meet my lunch: sweet and sour tofu with roasted vegetables over brown rice and a banging salad. While you are seeing the only three hot bar options, they were: 1) incredibly tasty; and 2) all vegan. I could have eaten my weight in that tofu.

Although I lack photos of several delectable meals, I did spend a great deal of time at Earth Fare cafes in Charlotte and Huntersville. Again, free WiFi drew me in, and the $16 salads I built (alright: slight exaggeration but I’m sure I could build a salad that large quite easily) absolutely satisfied. While the Huntersville one was larger, I do have a to give a thumbs down to its layout (not conducive to organized plate filling from hot/salad bar) and no ingredients list for the items, so I had to be extra mindful of what I grabbed.

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Please ignore that pathetic thumb nail. I found this gem at the Tidal Creek Co-Op and HOLY SMOKES DO I WANT MORE! I shall find a recipe soon. Does someone out there have one to share?

Other saving graces on this trip:

  • Green Safe Cafe in Asheville (I almost refuse to eat anywhere else in the #AVL when visiting – the citrus kale salad bowl is, by far, my go to item).IMG_20140318_115816
  • Cabo Fish Taco in Charlotte: now, I doubt my beer battered tofu tacos were vegan but THEY WERE INCREDIBLE (it was beyond noisy in the restaurant and I was stationed as far away from our server as possible); many other options available for the non-fish eating crowd (apologies for the blur of a photo)IMAG1500Just ONE more overnight left next week (Boone!) and you better believe I already know where I’ll be dining. I’ve also made great use out of my cooler bag by carting my own fare to and fro: lots of veggies and hummus, apples, cuties, bananas, and Lara bars.

Are you as anal retentive in planning where you will eat meals on for work/vacations/a random Thursday night?