Thursday, March 31, 2011

A few Vegetarian tips:

So a friend of mine recently asked me to send her some tips on vegetarianism.
I spent a while coming up with an extensive list, and I decided I might as well share it with the blogging world!

Here's how I get by (and LOVE) being vegetarian.

Quorn brand nuggets are awesome. They're soy-free (too much soy is a bad thing, so don't go overboard on soy products) and taste awesome. They're made from a mycoprotein, basically a fancy fungus, and absorb flavors really well. Highly recommended.

Morningstar Farms also makes EXCELLENT veggie burgers & some delicious spicy buffalo wing nugget things. I love their stuff. It's a bit pricey though, so I usually just pick one of their products per grocery visit.

Orange juice. Stuff of life. It helps you absorb iron, which is harder to get as a veg. Kroger has some awesome Homestyle orange juice with a little bit of pulp in it. It's cheap, delicious, and often my breakfast-on-the-go if I wake up too late. A big glass of orange juice can just about count as a snack. =)

EGGS, EGGS, EGGS. Seriously, eat a lot of eggs. I love them on everything. Put a poached egg on top of a veggie burger, a little bit of spinach, and some grated cheese on top. Delicious. Omelets are a great way to sneak in healthy veggies. Scrambled & fried eggs are good for any meal. It's a good way to get protein. They're totally my stand-by snack.

Spinach. sauteed spinach is my new favorite food. It's awesome on sandwiches, eggs, burgers, stir-fry, salads, you name it. Spinach goes great in almost any dish. I add it to just about everything. I recommend the spinach that comes in a plastic box, rather than bagged spinach. Bagged spinach tends to wilt faster than the kind in a box.

I love cheese. And I put it in everything. Not highly recommended, but it's tasty as hell.

Pasta is a good meal, too. Just don't over-do it. It's such an easy fall-back meal for vegetarians, but I try not to make it at home too terribly much. Pasta is a great dish to order when you're out to eat, so I usually try to stick to just ordering it out and then making it one or two times per week. I love pierogies (pasta filled with potato). It's tastyyyy. Pasta is actually also a good way to get extra veggies in. I like to put plain tomato pasta sauce & add some fresh veggies into it in a small sauce pan before I put it on my pasta.

Sandwiches. This is one of the tricky ones. I actually really love plain veggie sandwiches, but not everyone does. They make some pretty good vegetarian deli slices (usually found in either the vegetarian/organic section or by the fresh fruits & veggies at the store). I usually just make sandwiches with some tasty mustard (worth investing in some really yummy condiments, since you won't have the added salty flavor of meat), cheese, tomato slices, and spinach. Go crazy, add whatever veggies you can find!

I also love buying canned fruit. It's absolutely NOT a "good" or favorable alternative to fresh fruit. I'd prefer the fresh stuff any day. But fresh fruit is expensive & goes bad quickly. I buy canned peaches & pineapple & then drain the liquid, rinse a few times, and eat them up as a tasty snack or as part of a meal.

Yogurt is also a great stand-by snack. However, you'll want to make sure to check the labels of your yogurt. Most yogurt contains gelatin, which is technically NOT vegetarian. I avoid gelatin as much as I can, but I also don't freak out if I accidentally consume it. Stonyfield Farms makes really good gelatin-free organic yogurt. Or you can go with Greek yogurt.

Things to watch out for: When you go out to eat, it's always a good idea to ask your waiter if things are vegetarian or not. You'd be amazed at the things they put chicken stock into. For example, the spinach dip at Cheesecake Factory and the mashed potatoes at J Alexanders both contain chicken stock! Dumb. Seriously, things that you'd assume are vegetarian are often not. Meat stocks & meat fat are quick, cheap, easy, lazy ways for restaurants to thicken & flavor foods. Always ask. Especially if it's soup. Almost ALL soups have chicken stock in them, even vegetable soups.

Also watch out for gelatin. It's in most fruity candies (and Junior Mints.... which sucks cause I love those things), yogurt, marshmallows, jello, etc. Just keep an eye out for it.

Check labels, if you're as anal about it as I am. Otherwise just enjoy your food knowing that you aren't eating big chunks of meat. =) You're helping your body, the environment, AND some sweet animals.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

our little garden

Things have been CRAZY.
And life is finally beginning to slow down a bit...
either that or maybe I'm just totally slacking on my schoolwork.

Regardless, Nathan & I have had some fun dates together lately.

Last night, we had the best date in a while...
We bought the beginning of our balcony garden!
We've done some research & decided that we really wanted to have a container garden in which to grow our own food. Neither of us have taken on such a huge task before, but I think this is the perfect new hobby for us to enjoy together. We brainstormed ways to make it work & different things to grow, as well as the whole process of container gardening (which is actually different than gardening in the ground).

So off we went to Home Depot. It was so much fun pushing a cart around through Home Depot together, picking out pots and plants and hangers. We are SO excited about our garden, and have high hopes for its success. Part of our balcony receives nearly full sunlight, so we decided it was definitely worth a shot.

Here are a few photos of the very early beginnings of our garden:

In the pot we'll have spinach and lettuce

The window box is home to mint, basil, oregano, and cilantro

And hanging off the balcony is a whole bunch of strawberry plants!

Still to come: carrots, tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, and lots of flowers.

To finish up our fun date last night, we made a delicious dinner!

Complete with pierogies in vodka sauce, baked asparagus, and a portabella mushroom sauteed and topped with cooked spinach. Of course, a glass of Pinot Noir to finish things up.

It was an absolutely wonderful date. We ended the evening watching a documentary about the ocean on Netflix. Haha.

Today we did all the dirty work of getting the garden potted & set up. It was intense, but somehow still fun. I love making this apartment a home with Nathan. It'll be a lot easier to do that once he's actually living here with me. But I sure am going to miss my amazing roommate (and bridesmaid) Caroline.

Tonight's date: Maggiano's (we have a gift card to use!)

And of course, the countdown: 65 days until I marry my best friend.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Joy in the midst of Stress!

I don't have the time or energy to post a legitimate blog entry, but I will share with you one of the most exciting things to happen this year:

I met & conversed with Gene Robinson!!!! He is a personal hero. If you don't know much about him, look him up. He's seriously an incredible man and a blessing from God to the world.