Get Healthy Salad and a New Lease on Life

I’ve been feeling a little under the weather for the past week, but it really came to a head when I woke up this morning. I skipped breakfast because I wasn’t hungry, and I NEVER skip breakfast.

When I came back from work around 11 my appetite was picking up a bit so I decided to throw together a “get healthy” salad, basically just using whatever struck my fancy in the fridge. This meant kale, grapes, pecans, cheese and an egg. Since this isn’t really a recipe, more of a throwing together of random ingredients, I’ll just describe the process.

I’ve grown to love kale over the past couple of years, especially when I was vegan, but I definitely prefer it slightly cooked and warm. So I tore it into bite size pieces, cut a bunch of grapes in half and massaged all of it together with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Then I added pecans and put everything over medium heat on the stove top.

When it was cooked to my liking, I tossed it with some parmesan, pan fried an egg, added some hot sauce, and voila, lunch was served.

kale salad

Now I think it’s time to do some talking about my diet. As my faithful readers know, I was vegan since June 2012 up until about June 2013. I loved being vegan. I felt healthier, I learned to use a lot of new ingredients, I cut down on a lot of bad stuff in my diet. But when I got home from school last June, my parents basically gave the ultimatum “Eat what we cook or buy your own food and make it yourself.” OK, so it might not sound too difficult just to make my own food. But between juggling a 50 hour a week job and an internship, there wasn’t going to be a lot of time for me to be able to do that and eat enough to stay healthy. So I relented and became vegetarian.

The transition was a little tough but after a month I was feeling more comfortable about adding things to my diet. But the thing is, I felt about the same as I had pre-veganism, when I was eating everything. So when I came back to school I started toying with the idea of going full omnivore. Another reason for me was that I love to cook for people but no one wanted me to cook for them if they weren’t going to get any meat. Furthermore, I live with two omnivores who stock up our fridge with meat. Life was getting pretty difficult, so finally I made the switch.

To be honest, I wish I was still vegan but I don’t think I am at the right point in my life to be eating that way. It doesn’t fit with the college lifestyle and it doesn’t fit with my friend’s or family’s lifestyle. I stay away from red meat and I still avoid dairy for the most part, but now I’m all for an organic, whole food diet. AKA I’m staying away from processed food and only eating stuff I can name the ingredients of. A lot of veggies and fruit, nut butters, free-range chicken, eggs and good grains (quinoa, whole-grain pasta, etc). I feel pretty good.

Another new aspect that I’m working with is exercising more. I’ve always wanted to be good about going to the gym but I made a promise to myself that I would do it as much as possible this year. Thus far I’ve been pretty faithful and I can feel the difference. Honestly the difference of being in shape versus not being in shape is a lot more than being vegan to not being vegan.

Well, that’s all for now. If you have any questions or want to berate me for giving up my vegan ways, feel free to comment. But for now, enjoy the Petite Kitchn and bon appetit.

A Week In the Life

As I may have mentioned before, I have seem to come too close to the end of my Dining Dollars (aka money to buy food with) to be comfortable. Finishing the last month of school with no way to eat probably isn’t the best way to head into finals week, so I’ve had to start budgeting. But one of the great things about Hopkins is that it is actually much more cost effective to buy fresh vegetables to cook myself than go to dining halls. For about 4 dollars I can buy a potato and a vegetable, combine it with my Gardein chick’n and have a meal. Although it does take significantly longer to cook, and my kitchen is far from ideal, being forced to cook at least 3 times a week has been very good for me the past couple of weeks. It has made me better at having limited ingredients but still having to make nutritious, filling meals.

So for this post today I thought I would show some of the things I’ve been cooking up! Just to really drive the point home, my kitchen sucks. To see how much it sucks refer to this post. But I have been able to overcome, and I think I’m getting better at cooking with all this practice!

soy vay gardein chick'n

This kind of a random assortment of ingredients, well mostly just the combination of teriyaki chik’n and vegetables with whole wheat pasta. But I thought it was delicious so that’s all that really matters. Ingredients: Whole wheat pasta, Gardein chik’n strips, button mushrooms, brocolli, Soy Vay sauce (if you haven’t had this yet, you must try it. So good!), canola oil spray

baby potatoes, broccoli, Gardein chick'n

This is a more cohesive meal. As my great grandfather used to say, “I could make  meal out of potatoes.” Obviously this plate is so exception, but in my defense I ate most of the broccoli waiting for the potatoes to cook. Here I just boiled them for a short amount of time, pre cut, and then sauteed them with salt and pepper. The chick’n is covered in honey mustard, my favorite condiment. Another variation of this meal (potatoes, veggies, protein) was tofu, potato, asparagus. This is my usual formula for dinner. Ingredients: Baby potatoes, Gardein chick’n, honey mustard, broccoli, canola oil spray.

pasta, rice cheese, Gardein

 

And finally more pasta! I can’t lie, I could eat pasta everyday. If I’m not eating potatoes, I’m eating pasta. What is that sprinkled on top? Rice cheese! This is the first time I’ve had it and I can’t lie, I love it. Yes I have been eating it straight from the bag. There was supposed to be asparagus with this but I may have eaten that all while waiting for the pasta to cook (I can’t help the fact that whole wheat takes significantly longer to soften!) I sauteed chick’n with asparagus, added pasta at the end and mixed all of it with jarred tomato sauce. Delicious. Ingredients: Whole wheat pasta, asparagus, Gardein chick’n, rice cheese, canola oil.

Hope this gives you a couple ideas of easy meals you can make with just two stove tops! I’ll try to post new options every week. Next week I’m thinking about getting Gardein beef tips. Bold decision? We shall see. As you can tell all of these meals are based around staple items (pasta and chick’n) so make sure whatever you buy a lot of, you like it. I promise chick’n is not that bad!!!

Happy cooking!

 

 

Vegan on Vacation

Hello there! Due to photography issues I won’t be able to post my recipe post this week, but I’ll give you a hint for next week… It includes ice cream.
So instead I’ll be talking about being vegan on vacation. Currently I am writing this post from the beach in Marco Island, Florida. And it is perfect… Hopefully I’ll be returning to Baltimore a few shades darker.
Of course traveling vegan can get pretty tricky. And I’ve found in the past day that Marco is not particularly vegan friendly. But what else can be expected from a place that caters to tourists who want seafood. So I’ve been going over countless menus trying to find restaurants in walking distance that have vegan options. I promise you, if I survive this vacation with three meals a day vegan then you can survive almos anywhere.
My meals started at the Baltimore airport yesterday. But with their newly constructed Chipotle I was good to go. I think I could eat their guac by the bucketful.
Things got a little more interesting when I set out to find dinner. After perusing some options online I set out for a plaza called Marco Walk. Unfortunately I stumbled upon a giant St Patricks day celebration there, so even the places that could have been options weren’t doing take out, which I needed. Walking a little farther along I found Toucans Bar and Grill. Of course this was exactly the type of establishment the name suggests. Cheap fried food, stereotypical Floridian old people and me. For example the woman I say next to waiting for my food was decked out completely in green and had the seat next to her saved for her little dog.
But Toucans saved the day as I found a portobello burger on the “Healthier Side” menu. Of course I cancelled out any healthy aspects by ordering the waffle sweet potato fries but I can never say no to sweet potato fries.
All in all the burger was good, not the best portobello sandwich I’ve ever had, and the fries were a little under seasoned (but yes I still ate the entire order).
I’ll keep you updated on my future meal adventures. I’m hoping for Mexican tonight!
Wishing you sun wherever you are!

In The Words of LMFAO, I Work Out!

If you’ve read my introductory post you probably know part of the reason I became vegan was to make better food decisions, while also fighting the weight I put on in college. Right now I’m definitely at a perfect weight and I don’t want you all to think I’m changing it up to lose more weight. But the truth of the matter is I am really out of shape. Ever since I had to stop horse back riding I’ve let myself become lazy and sit around watching romantic comedies instead of going to the gym.

And I really want to be in shape, just for my own self gratification. So first I told myself I was going to try and train for a half marathon. And let me tell you, that is not happening. I blame it mostly on the fact I have sports induced asthma and tendonitis in one ankle but let’s be honest, I also can’t stand running more than a 5k. And I have a feeling a lot of you out there feel the same…

So instead I’m going to start doing yoga, get my ass back to the gym and on the elliptical and do strength exercises during tv shows. If you have ever been on Pinterest I’m sure you’ve seen those workout routines that have you do, say ten squats every time Chuck or Blair say they can’t be together (yes that is a reference to my favorite tv show of all time, Gossip Girl). I tried one of these routines and it actually was a great strength workout. I ended up having to do practically 100 squats. And it burned.

But it’s not just about working out for my journey to being fit. I’m also going to try and stop posting baked good recipes all the time. So get ready for some healthy lunch or dinner ideas coming up.

Like today’s recipe! Spicy tomato, vegetable sauce with rotini. I tried to think of a shorter, more glamorous name but I got nothing. Clearly it’s time for me to go back to school and start creative writing again…

Another special note about this recipe is I made it with my cousin, one of my closest friends. She had made it a bucket list item to get on the blog so here’s my shout out to you, Genna! Thanks for joining with me to make such a healthy delicious dish.CD8U6307

Also, as a precursor for the recipe, if you don’t like heat in your pasta sauce just omit the red pepper flakes and then it will just be a delicious garlicky, red sauce. Also you can choose any time of pasta for this but I would suggest using something like rotini or shells or ziti so they can hold more sauce.

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Easy Spicy Tomato Vegetable Sauce with Rotini

Ingredients:

15-20 cherry tomatos, cut into halves

1/2 medium yellow onion, diced,

1 orange pepper, cut into bite sized pieces

1-2 portobello mushroom caps, sliced

2 garlic cloves

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp oregano

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup favorite pasta sauce (only add if you want a saucier sauce) (sorry that’s a terrible description)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 box rotini

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Directions:

1. Heat water on stove.

2. While water is heating, add oil to pan on medium heat. Once the oil is heated add garlic and red pepper flakes.

3. Once the garlic is browned, add tomatos, onion and pepper.

4. Once the tomatos have broken down, add salt, pepper, oregano and mushrooms. Hopefully by this point the water is boiling and the pasta has been added.

5. Once the pasta is cooked, add a quarter cup of pasta water and however much red sauce you want to bring the sauce to the desired consistency.

6. Pour the pasta into the sauce pan with the sauce and cook for a minute or so. Serve immediately.

It’s such an easy sauce and you can really sub in more or less vegetables as you choose.

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What do you all do for fun workouts?

Any dinner or lunch dishes you want me to feature on the blog?

Happy eating!

Tour of the Freshmen Cafeteria (Guest Post!)

Today I have a special guest post from one of my friend’s on campus. Over the next few weeks I will be doing vegan reviews of the places to eat on campus. What better way to start it off than with a senior going back to the freshman cafeteria. It’s also great to have someone else’s perspective on vegan eating, especially someone who is still making the transition. Enjoy!

Hi, I’m Vegan Collegiate’s senior friend! I am honored to have an opportunity to write for her and share some of my passion for food and healthy living!

Today some of our cute freshie friends offered to take us back to this place of our so called, “youth”. OHHHH to be young again! As a senior, there are definitely a few things I miss about being an underclassman. However, nothing quite sums up freshman year

like the freshman cafeteria. Oh yes, the epicenter of the freshman social scene, the location in which all chow down, and most of all, that of freshman sexual tension. I will never quite forget when I spotted my first college crush… sweaty after a grueling pre-season football game, as he nommed down on 5 slices of pieces, 3 chicken legs, a hamburger, and a large side salad drowning in Ranch Dressing, ohhh and I can’t forget two plates of French fries. I was smitten. Yes, those endless French fries aided in his solid weight gain I noticed as I creeped on him in the cafeteria. That said, I also fell victim to those freshman 15. Every meal became an event…first course, second course, third course….on and on! And then, one more plate of French fries!

Upon entering, I felt like I’d stepped back in time. So many memories! Since my freshman year, so much had also changed in the cafeteria, specifically on the food front. I was thrilled to see so many vegan options! Though I only tested out being vegan for a month (my steady streak was broken by the temptation of a Thanksgiving feast) I still try to make conscience decisions to eat more vegan meals.

In my total of four trips back and forth to the self-serve cafeteria stations I acquired quite a spread. My vegan coconut carrot soup was the delicious beginning to a HUGE hearty salad! YUMMMM. And sautéed mushroom with rice was also much enjoyed! Yes, the pizza and chicken wings still prevailed, yet if you look between the cracks I was amazed at the outcome of my meal. Taking veggies from different stations proved to be a great way to make an interesting sald. I.e. the Asian sautéed broccoli from the Asian station was a yummy addition to the barbequed carrots and peppers I was delighted to find at the grill station.

Freshman Throwback... So many options

Freshman Throwback… So many options

So many people think it’s too difficult to hold onto special dietary choices in college, but today’s experience really made me realize what a blessing a cafeteria could be to a vegan. There were so many different options (the sweet and sour tofu was delish). Yes, I could imagine the soup and salad bar would get old fast, but a trip to the sandwich bar loaded with fresh veggies, or a meatless stir-fry could do just the trick. I admit the fact that I’m not eating at the freshman caf for every meal, dramatically alters my opinion on it’s quality, thus, I had a very enjoyable experience both on the food front, and in getting back in touch with that freshman still within me. Plus—there were definitely some cute freshman boys!

Just to let all my other readers know if you’re ever interested in writing a guest post just e-mail me at vegancollegiate@gmail.com… I’d love to get lots of different perspectives on here, especially non-vegan ones.

College Kitchen Conundrum

I had this whole post worked out that would show off my latest baked good – Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread. Unfortunately, the whole loaf was gone before I could get a picture. Actually, my friend and I made two half loaves — one gluten free and one glutenous. I really applaud those of you out there who can do gluten-free, the taste really does not do it for me. However, I believe both loaves turned out great. We used to Happy Herbivore recipe. Be warned, these are delicious but they aren’t the buttery, calorie laden breads that Momma makes. They taste healthy. Also, if you do gluten-free flour, add a teaspoon of xantham gum per cup of flour, and it will take extra time to bake. Here is the glutenous recipe:

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup plant-based milk
  • ¼ tsp lemon juice
  • 15 ounces pumpkin
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or spray a standard bread pan. Whisk non-dairy milk and lemon juice together until bubbly and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, cream pumpkin, sugar, syrup and extract together. In a large bowl, whisk pumpkin pie spice, flour, baking soda and baking powder together. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and stir until just combined. Pour into bread pan, using a spatula to evenly distribute and smooth out the top. Grab a large piece of aluminum foil and make a tent over the pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If using icing, prepare while bread is baking. Once the bread has cooled but is still slightly warm, gently remove it from the pan and on to a serving plate.

However, on to other things. Like my kitchen. As I’ve mentioned before, my kitchen is tiny and practically useless. There is no counter space, no oven, no microwave. Of course, you gotta work with what you got and I’ve been trying. I’ll be honest, I think I’ve made my own meal twice in the past month. Not exactly working that hard. But I’ve turned over a new leaf, and I’m going to make a valid effort to make most of my own meals. Today? I’m two for two. Not that mixing a cup of Cheerios with a tablespoon of strawberry jam is exactly trying, but I’m also working with limited ingredients. That’s been a big issue — ingredients. If anyone has recommendations for what I should have stocked that would be great! Remember, all I have is a toaster oven and a stove top. Also, things go bad quickly and I’m working on a budget.

Anyways, I included some pictures of my kitchen to give you an idea of what I have to deal with. I did manage to saute some veggies today with marinara sauce that made for a good wholesome lunch, but sauteed veggies is a bit dull huh. I’ll update you all soon on my cooking conundrum!

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