Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wellesse Supplements Giveaway

I am so excited to share a really fun giveaway with you all today.  About a month ago, I was offered some samples from Wellesse, a liquid supplement company located in Ferndale, Washington.  Wellesse offers a premium line of liquid vitamins and supplements that are not only fast-absorbing, but are certified gluten-free. For anyone with Celiac disease (or who is gluten-intolerant), this is wonderful news!

I am a big believer in getting your nutrition through your food as much as possible and I try not to take extra supplements unless absolutely necessary.  A few years ago I worked with a nutritionist who discovered I was deficient in Vitamin D and iron, even though I eat lots of iron-rich foods.  My nutritionist recommended liquid supplements because the body absorbs them better than pills.  I have a couple of brands that I have used over the last couple of years, but I was very excited to try Wellesse's supplements.

Overall, I was really impressed with the taste of their supplements.  Each bottle comes with a small measuring cup that makes it easy to measure out the correct dose.  Their products are very affordable and are available at many drugstores and online.  Wellesse does not test any of their products on animals, but a few of their supplements are not vegan so please see my notes below* if you are concerned about this.

I know that many of my readers here are interested in better supplements and gluten-free products so I wanted to offer this great giveaway to you.  (Please know that all opinions here are my own and I was not asked to endorse this product or required to offer a giveaway.) 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dreamsicle Smoothie

If you think it's hard to be a food blogger, I promise you that it's harder to live with one.  We food bloggers are a rare breed of creativity and crazy in the kitchen, but those that love us and have to put up with us on a daily basis are really the ones that deserve the credit.  This post is dedicated to all the significant others of food bloggers who have ever had to hear these words... probably repeatedly.

Don't eat that!  That's not for you, that's for the blog.

Don't touch that!  I haven't taken a picture yet!

No, I can't right now.  I have ten minutes of light left and I need to get these pictures taken.

Get out of the kitchen, I'm blogging.  Take the cats.

Can you edit this for me?  No, you can't wait until you finish that level on your video game.

Not yet.  I have to tweet, facebook, post this on foodgawker, tastespotting, finding vegan, healthy aperature, and.... I'll be there in a minute honey.

Thank you dear partner for all your patience and support.  I think it might be time to celebrate you.  How about a dreamsicle smoothie?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sauteed Dandelion Greens

One of the things that I love most about this time of year is the bounty of fresh greens.  Everywhere you look at the farmers market, booths are exploding with baby kale, collards, perky lettuce, spinach, and dandelion greens.  Dandelion greens are a bitter green that, you guessed it, come from the dandelion plant.  (Yes, that same "weed" that grows in your yard makes a wonderful side dish for dinner!)  You can find them in spring and early summer and most health food stores even carry them.

You could also pick your own dandelion greens, but if you do this make sure you are picking them from somewhere that has not been exposed to chemicals or pollution.  It is best to avoid areas near traffic (like freeways and roads) or near train tracks.  There are many great books available about foraging for wild plants and weeds so I highly recommend doing your research before getting too adventurous.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Raw Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Without fail, there is always one weeknight when I don't feel like cooking.  Even though I have a stash of quick dinners handy, I will find myself staring into the fridge and thinking that nothing sounds good.  My back-up plan in this unfortunate situation is to walk down to my local co-op and grab two slices of their vegan pesto pizza.  Not only is it the best pizza I've ever tasted, but it's covered with veggies -- totally my style.

Every time this happens, the same pizza guy is standing behind the counter, ready to serve me my usual order of two slices of vegan pesto.  The awkward thing about this situation is that the pizza guy kinda looks like JT.  No, really.  If you have ever wanted to to experience a hippier version of Justin Timberlake serving you pizza, your dream can come true right here in Seattle.  The truly awkward part though isn't that he looks like JT. The awkward part is how he flashes the peace sign at you as you take your slices of pizza and I can't but help imagine JT with pizza singing "Cry me A River."

Just as I'm leaving on my way out of the co-op, usually embarrassed and laughing at myself, I am invariably tempted by the most amazing vegan carrot cupcakes made fresh in their bakery.  If I have been craving something sweet, I already know upon seeing those cupcakes that I am done for.  And even if I haven't been thinking about dessert, who can resist moist, sweet carrot cake with a dense and creamy frosting? 

I decided this week that it was time to recreate those amazing cupcakes at home.  The result?  A moist, sweet carrot cake with dense and creamy frosting... but this version relies on raw ingredients like fresh carrots, coconut, dates, and nuts for a delightful treat that you can feel good about eating.  

Monday, June 18, 2012

Lessons in life... from the kitchen

I've mentioned here before that I am in the process of starting my own business.  I will definitely have more to share with you all very soon, but in the meantime I am weeding my way through IRS tax tutorials and a plethora of website headaches.  I thought it might be fun to take a break from my usual recipe posts to share with you a few lessons I am learning (and re-learning) in life right now.

  • We all have to start somewhere.  No one was born knowing everything. 
  • Be kind to yourself because you are your toughest critic.
  • Know when to outsource.  Sometimes takeout can be your friend.
  • The best culinary inspiration doesn't always happen in the kitchen.  It's important to step away and take breaks because breaks are what give us perspective.
  • Be kind to others.
  • Overeating does not relieve stress.  It only results in bloating and a stomach ache.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Raw Zucchini Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce

You can tell a lot about what's going on in my life by what's on my library queue.  I have this weird habit of getting fascinated by one particular subject and then reading everything I can about it until I get bored and find my next interest.  This year alone I've been through a gardening phase, a running phase, a preserving food phase, a cycling phase, a twitter phase (yes, there are books on it!), a vegan nutrition phase, and a writing phase. My newest phase?  Raw food.

With the weather warming up and longer days approaching, my body has been craving more cooling and fresh foods like salads, raw veggies, and raw soups.  The only problem with a lot of raw food recipes that I've seen is that they tend to be a tad labor-intensive and nut-based.  I really enjoy using nuts in recipes, but I wanted a recipe that was a bit on the lighter-side.

This week I set out to create an easy raw entree that is fresh, delicious, and can be prepared quickly.  I ended up with a hearty zucchini pasta dish covered with a light, creamy tomato sauce.  The best part?  This meal can be prepared in under 5 minutes!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Kale and Spelt Berry Salad

If you did not spend your Friday evening making kimchi and rocking out to Cher... then you really missed out on a good time.  If you did not spend your Saturday morning spilling a green smoothie on yourself while doing the Minion Mambo and rocking out to the Despicable Me soundtrack... then you really missed out this weekend.  And if you did not spend your Sunday evening making a kale salad and writing an embarrassing post about yourself ... then what did you do this weekend? 

For me, Sunday evenings are lazy evenings.  I am just starting to come down from my weekend-high and am about to crash right into reality.  This reality usually hits about 5 pm when I realize that a) dinner time is quickly approaching and I have nothing that's easy to prepare b) I haven't made Monday's lunch and c) I don't feel like making dinner for tonight or lunch for tomorrow.  These things are usually enough to make me a tad cranky, at least for the moment.  Luckily kale usually steps in to save the day.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Late Spring Farmers Market

I am so excited for summer this year and it feels like the sun can't come fast enough.  But, it's still spring here in the Pacific Northwest.  Luckily there is already an amazing mix of local produce available at the farmers market.  

For most of the year, we have an abundance of carrots and root vegetables.  I love the fresh, baby carrots of spring that taste so tender and sweet.  These are wonderful eaten raw with a dip like hummus or simply roasted to bring out a bit more flavor.

Fiddleheads, fiddleheads, fiddleheads.  I love that word.  Fiddleheads are uncoiled ferns, a true springtime treat.  If you've never heard of them, you can read more about them here along with a simple recipe.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Roasted Radishes and Greens

I'm not going to lie to you.  Sometimes it's okay to eat your feelings.  Really, it is. And everybody does it on occasion... (right?!)

Sometimes it's okay to eat your feelings when you're feeling under the weather because it's grey in Seattle. Again.  In June.  And it's pouring buckets of rain everywhere.  And you just wish you lived anywhere else but here.  But that's too bad.  Because you live here. Then it's okay to eat your feelings a little, I promise.  (Especially if you eat your feelings with one of these.)

Then there are those moments when you want to recover from eating your feelings.  Sure, it was a little fun while it lasted, but now it's time to get something healthy and fresh in there pronto.  Sounds like you need some roasted radishes my friend.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

FAQ: Shopping At The Farmers Market

Farmers markets are popping up in more and more cities across the country and it is becoming easier than ever to find local produce in your area.  However, going to a farmers market for the first time can be a bit overwhelming!  How do you know what to buy?  Is it more expensive?  What should you bring with you? Today it’s time to answer your questions and get out to the market!

Why should I shop at the farmers market?

There are many reasons to shop at the farmers market:  it supports local farms and farmers, builds community, connects you to the seasons, and decreases the number of miles that food travels before reaching you.  Since food is traveling a shorter distance, it is much fresher because produce is being picked just before arriving at the market.  Not only does the produce have more nutrients because it is fresher, but it just simply tastes better!

Is the produce at the farmers market always organic?

Organic produce means that the food is grown without the use of chemicals, pesticides, and fertilizers. Not all produce at the farmers market is organic because it depends on the farm.  Many farms at the market are certified organic and will proudly display the organic label on their banner or booth.  Some of the smaller farms do practice organic farming methods, but cannot afford to go through the organic certification process.  If you are unsure if a farm practices organic farming, ask them!

Is the farmers market more expensive?

This is a tricky question because the answer is both yes and no.  If you compare the cost of produce at the farmers market to conventional produce at the grocery store, the produce at the farmers market may cost a little more.  However, if you compare the cost of produce at the farmers market to organic produce at the grocery store, the produce at the farmers market can actually be cheaper.  Since food is traveling fewer miles and is coming to you directly from the farmer, you are actually getting a better product (because it is local, most likely organic, and much fresher than at the store) for a much better price.  When looking at the true cost of food, one cannot simply compare dollar to dollar because that does not take the value of the food into account. 

I am often able to find great deals at the farmers market that cost less than the store.  Farmers will often discount items at the peak of the season when they are overloaded with one type of vegetable so keep an eye out for deals.  You can also save money by buying produce in bulk and freezing or preserving it (this is especially great for seasonal fruit).  Some farms also feature bins of discounted produce that is perfectly edible, but have bruises or discoloring.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Super Antioxidant Smoothie

I think it's time we talked about the good, the bad, and the super awkward.

First, the good:  I am learning how to swim. After conquering a lifelong fear of water, drowning, and most certain death, I recently signed up for adult swim lessons. And I'm loving it! I'm loving it so much that I've been trying to practice in between lessons so I can keep improving... which leads me to the bad.

A bad idea, that is. It is a bad idea to go to the community pool for public swimming time on a Friday night. I was expecting to find the pool empty with maybe myself and a couple of adults getting in some late-night cardio. No such luck. Instead, the pool was packed with children of all ages and every single floaty device ever created. I could instantly tell I was going to be the oldest person there by over a decade, but I stuck with my (bad) decision and stayed to practice my kicks. And then it happened.

The super awkward. After 45 minutes I grew tired of getting kicked in the face by tiny feet and hit over the head with floaty things so I retreated to the hot tub to take a breather. Note to self: the next time I hear a prepubescent male voice say "Hey, what school do you go to?" get up, and leave. No explanation needed. Because things only get super awkward from here.

But my former naive self, who didn't want to seem rude and had no idea what was coming, politely responded, "I don't go to school." To which my young male friend asked, "Well what college do you go to?" Me: "Uh, I am sorta... post-college." I was met with widened eyes and an "Ohhh."

Ladies, you should know that what follows this will be the following three questions: "So, are you here with your friends?" then, "Do you come here often?"  and finally, "What are you doing next Friday night?"

It's awkward enough to get hit on by junior high boys in junior high... but in your late twenties, it's just a sign that you should stay away from public swim night.