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.

Quinoa-Broccoli Patties (Vegan option)

Once again, a dish made that’s practically vegan… and if you want it to be vegan, just omit the cheese or use vegan cheese, your choice.

One of the reasons I started blogging again is the fact that I felt I kept cooking the same dishes everyday. Pasta. Chicken sausage. Sautéed veggies. I needed to switch it up, and the only way I would do that is if I got inspired. So now I’m back at it, reading blogs everyday and looking for some recipe ideas. So let me know if you have any!

Today’s lunch features quinoa again. I’m trying to use healthier grains in my diet rather than just pasta. But I’m on my last few servings of quinoa, and that stuff is expensive, so look for some brown rice recipes coming up!

quinoa, vegetarian, lunch

Ingredients:

1 cup of broccoli, chopped

1/4 cup quinoa

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup bread crumbs, Italian style

1 cornstarch egg (1 tablespoon cornstarch, 3 tablespoons water)

One lemon wedge

As much parmesan cheese as you want

Salt and pepper

Garlic powder

Olive oil for panfrying

Directions:

1. Steam broccoli and then cut into tiny pieces.

2. Add quinoa and water, bring to a boil then let simmer until all the water is absorbed.

3. Add all ingredients, including quinoa and broccoli, into a bowl. Mix together until everything is well distributed.

4. Heat oil in pan over medium heat.

5. Form mix into balls.

6. Add balls to the pan. Cook each side 6-8 minutes, until golden brown, then place on paper towel to drain excess grease.

I ate mine over homemade tomato sauce. They were so SO good.

Bon appetit!

Back At It- Tomato Chickpea Soup

Well it’s certainly been a while! Lots of updates (obviously the biggest being the fact I am no longer vegan, hence the name change).  But no time for that now when I have a recipe to share… ironically, it’s vegan! I’ve been craving soup a lot since there has been a never-ending amount of snow. So here is something I threw together that ended up being absolutely delicious and healthy. It’s also incredibly easy to make, and it’s a one-pot deal.

vegan, plant-based

Ingredients:

Tomato Chickpea Soup

Two tablespoons of oil

Clove of garlic, minced

Half a white onion, diced

One cup of chicken stock

One cup of water

One 18 oz can of diced tomatoes

One 15 oz can of chickpeas, rinsed

One cup of quinoa

Salt and pepper

2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning

Directions:

1. Heat oil on medium heat. Add garlic.

2. When garlic is lightly golden, add onions. Cook until soft and golden.

3. Add chicken stock, water, salt and pepper, and Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil.

4. Add tomatoes, chickpeas and quinoa. Bring to a boil again then let simmer until the quinoa is completely cooked (15-20 minutes).

Bon appetit!

 

 

Back to the Good Stuff – Hot Chocolate Pancakes

After last week’s somber post I thought it was time to talk about something a little happier. And what is happier than vegan chocolate pancakes. To me there is something really fun about breakfast for dinner, or in this case breakfast for dessert. Maybe that’s because vegan breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. And chocolate is good anytime of day.

vegan hot chocolate pancakes

These vegan pancakes are incredible. Literally one of the best things I’ve ever made, behind the mint chocolate chip cookies (maybe). And I have to credit this deliciousness partly to Paula Dean. The women truly has found the secret to life in butter. She just needs to switch to vegan butter. So don’t for a moment think these pancakes are healthy. They aren’t terrible for you but they are certainly a dessert. But sometimes in life when bad things happen the best cure is chocolate, not matter how bad.

vegan hot chocolate pancakes, vegan pancakes

Ingredients:

Vegan Hot Chocolate Pancakes (adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie)

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp vegan hot chocolate mix (I used Starbucks)

1 tbsp brown sugar

1/16 tsp salt

1 and 1/2 tbsp melted vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)

5 and 1/2 tbsp milk of choice (I used Silk soy milk)

DSCN0199vegan hot chocolate pancakes, vegan pancakes

Directions:

1. Heat pan to medium.

2. Mix dry ingredients, then add wet ingredients.

3. Once well combined, spoon onto pan.

4. Cook until top starts to bubble, then flip (about 4-5 minutes, as these are small pancakes)

5. Cook for another minute or two until pancakes are cooked through.

For me this recipe made 3 small pancakes. These are delicious on their own but if you wanna take it to the next level, layer the pancakes with this vegan hot fudge sauce…. Equal parts hot chocolate mix and melted butter, heated over the low heat. Be careful cause this burns quickly!

vegan hot chocolate pancakes, vegan pancakes

Seriously though add the hot fudge… it melts into the pancakes and makes for pure heaven.

vegan hot chocolate pancakes, vegan pancakes

Just a quick running update… I’ve started my six month training plan, which you can find here. I just want to say thank you so much to the support I received from that post, it means the world to me and my city. We are so fortunate that they found the perpetrator so that justice can achieved. #bostonstrong

vegan hot chocolate pancakes, vegan pancakes

The Terrorist Attack on Boston and My Pledge

It is a rarity that I ever do two posts in one day, but in response to the recent events in Boston I felt it necessary to say a few words. As many of you know I am from Cape Cod, a short drive to Boston, which I have always considered my city. I know the streets and the T well and many of my friends and family live there. I am sure all of you have heard of the terrorist attack on Boston today, targeting the finish line of the Boston Marathon, a timeless tradition of my city. One of my best friends ran in it and I am so thankful that she finished before the attack. However, this does not alleviate the pain of the 141 injured and two killed, including an 8 year old boy.

I am not going to focus on the anger I feel towards whoever felt it necessary to disrupt such a beautiful moment as crossing the finish line after 26.2 grueling miles, coming towards a cheering crowd. Instead I want to appreciate the prayers and thoughts that have poured out to Boston today; never has my newsfeed on Facebook or Twitter ever made me miss home so much or feel so proud of where I come from. I am especially proud and gracious to the policemen, firemen, marathon personnel and the bystanders who took action immediately to help the injured. Considering the enormity of the annual event, the consequences could have been much greater without their incredible efforts.

A marathon is test of human strength. Today it also became a test of humanity. I have never been a runner, never been able to push past 5 miles without giving up. But I know the runners today overcame much more than my petty asthma and tendonitis to run the Boston Marathon, and now 141 will be forced to overcome even more. So I have decided to train for the Cape Cod Marathon that comes in the Fall to honor the victims and all people affected by this tragedy. I feel that this is a respectable way to pay my respects to the athletes who worked so hard for today and traveled from all over the world to the beautiful city of Boston.

All my love is in Boston tonight. Thank you to everyone who feels the same.

Portland Farmer’s Market – A Guest Post

This week I welcome back Becca, my guest blogger from December (here’s her first post, Tour of the Freshmen Cafe). Today she writes about cooking while at home in Oregon, and gives us her recipe for her veggie saute using ingredients from a local farmer’s market. Baltimore has lots of farmer’s markets, unfortunately none of which I’ve managed to get to (mostly because the only one within walking distance closes by 12 on Saturday. I’m usually still sleeping). Hopefully I’ll get myself over there soon and get a review! Now here’s Becca:

This blog post has been in the works since the holiday break! Sorry Liza for being a lazy guest poster!

I was home over break studying for the MCAT, which I didn’t even end up taking, though it drove me completely insane. Though I was going crazy with stress, I did very much enjoy being home in Portland, OR, and enjoying the company of my family and friends, as well as presence of what I’m still convinced is the BEST farmer’s market scene in the whole entire world.

My mom, sister, and I have a tradition of making a farmer’s market run every Sunday to load up on our week’s fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s become more than a “grocery run” but rather a fun way for the three of us to spend quality time together. With my sister in school in New York, my parents living in Portland, OR, and myself in school in Baltimore, it’s rare we are all together in one place. We make a morning of our farmer’s market trips…loading up on gluten free treats at our favorite bakery stand and eating them with coffee at the park next to the parking lot the farmer’s market makes shop in.

We always end up leaving the market with bags and bags full of local, fresh apples, seasonal berries, and assorted vegetables. My mom is the sauteed veggie master and her skills along with the remarkable fresh vegetables we get weekly combine to make one of my favorite dishes….a simple veggie saute:

brussel sprouts
chopped butternut squash
red beets
rosemary
olive oil
salt
pepper

Put all chopped and uncooked veggies in a big mixing boil and apply olive oil liberally, add rosemary, salt, and pepper to taste. Pour into wok pan and allow to satee on high heat until tender (normally 10ish minutes). SUPER EASY!vegetable saute, farmers market, portland vegan, vegan cooking

You can seriously use any veggies…but make sure they are as fresh as possible! This makes the dish!

Now that I’m back at school, fending for myself on the food front, I miss my mom’s cooking more than ever! I also can’t tell you how much I miss my hometown of Portland and it’s amazing farmer’s markets and fresh food I become accustomed to. If you ever make it to the west (BEST) coast, make sure to check out the farmer’s market scene…it’s rampant all up the coast.

It’s always nice to hear about vegan cooking from all over the states. As always, if any of my readers are interested in doing a guest post for the Vegan Collegiate, just email me at vegancollegiate@gmail.com with your idea!

Happy eating!

Sweet and Refreshing – Junior Mint Oatmeal Cookies

I’ve realized when it comes to cooking, I learn the most by trial and error. Now having made pasta with some kind of faux meat and vegetables about 4 times a week, I’m an expert at timing and it comes out delicious every time. Similarly, vegan brownies from the box are my specialty now that I’ve made them too many times to count. But for something like Junior Mint Oatmeal Cookies, a couple more tries would probably benefit this recipe.

vegan junior mint oatmeal cookies

To be clear, these tasted incredible, evaluated by some frat brothers. But the process and end appearance needs some work. As I probably would’ve realized if I was a chemistry major rather than creative writing, I would have predicted that the centers of the Junior Mints would melt into sticky peppermint liquid that sticks great to a cookie sheet. I think the solution to this would be to make a cookie pie so that the peppermint would just go back into the dough when it melts, without covering my friend’s cookie sheet (and requiring a serious arm workout to remove it later). Also I would suggest adding the Mints on the dough after its already been placed in the pie tin.

But regardless of how they looked this time around, they tasted great. If I can drag myself out of the sunshine that just seemed to appear in Baltimore this week I’ll try the pie version. For now here is my original.

vegan junior mint oatmeal cookies

Ingredients (makes 12):

1/3 cup vegan butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

3 tbsp white sugar

1 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 and 1/3 cup quick cook oats

1 package of Junior Mints

3 tbsp water

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C)

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Add cornstarch and water.

3. One well mixed, add flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Mix in the quick oats and Junior Mints. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

3. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: To adjust to my recommendations, do not mix in Junior Mints. Place dough in ungreased pie pan, then put Junior Mints on top.

vegan junior mint oatmeal cookies

Now I’m off to enjoy Spring Fair activities! Maybe a post on surviving fair food next week?

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!

 

 

Nothing Better than Spring Snow and Ice Cream

So I’ve already  talked about my addiction to Nutella. And considering how long it has been since I’ve enjoyed my favorite chocolate hazelnut spread, it’s still at the top of my list for favorite cravings. But a close second is definitely ice cream. I have been known to eat entire pints in one sitting, including a certian occasion where I was bet five dollars in scratch tickets that I couldn’t do it. Oh but I did, in under 15 minutes, and walked away with 13 dollars in winnings. So nobody needs to question my addiction to the frozen treat.

DSCN0154

But it’s no secret that it’s not the healthiest of foods, even the vegan versions (if you haven’t yet, try any So Delicious flavor. A pint of their Cookie Dough ice cream became victim to my addiction this Spring Break). This fact, combined with the new Pinterest fad floating around for banana ice cream, was the inspiration to this recipe. Peanut Butter Banana Cap’n Crunch Ice Cream. PBBCCIC for short. Or may Peanut Butter Banana Crunch. Take your pic.

Banana Peanut Butter Crunch

Banana Peanut Butter Crunch

Basically the idea is that when bananas are blended into a cream, combined with some toppings (in this case peanut butter and Cap’n Crunch), then frozen, it becomes a low cal substitute for ice cream. Lo cal ice cream? That’s a dream came true.

But like many Pinterest fads, this one isn’t perfect. This is not an ice cream for people who don’t like bananas, because unlike the rumors, this will taste like bananas. Maybe I should have tried a less ripe fruit but I’m sure it still would have the flavor. Fortunately I love bananas and peanut butter together so this was fine with me. Other than that, this stayed true to Pinterest promises. It thickened up into a delicious “ice cream.”

DSCN0179

Just a few suggestions before hand:]

1. Remember to peel the banana before freezing it. (common sense I know but this is something I lack during midterm period)

2. Add the Cap’n Crunch at the very end and blend just enough to make sure they’re spread evenly with the banana-peanut butter cream. The bigger the chunks of Cap’n Crunch, the better.

3. Get creative! There’s an endless number of toppings that could be added to the banana.

Peanut Butter Banana Crunch “Ice Cream”

DSCN0153

Ingredients:

1 frozen banana (unpeeled!)

1 tbsp peanut butter

1 tsp agave nectar

1/4 cup Cap’n Crunch

Action shot

Action shot

Directions:

1. Blend banana on high until it has been completely creamed (2-3 minutes).

2. Add peanut butter and agave, blend until well combined.

3. Add Cap’n Crunch and blend for as short amount of time as possible, just until the cereal is spread throughout.

4. Put into a freeze safe container and freeze until the “ice cream” is at a desired consistency. Make sure to cover the container so that the banana does not brown (it’s really ugly)

How banana should look when blended

How banana should look when blended

DSCN0163

Prefreezing

Prefreezing

As the title suggests, we just got SNOW in Baltimore. It’s practically March. I am very not OK with this. Maybe the weather is better wherever you are. Crossing my fingers for a change in temperature over the next week so I can enjoy some Peanut Butter Banana Crunch outside.

DSCN0181

Enjoy!