Life + Kitchen - November

Besides all the excitement leading up to Thanksgiving (and my Third Annual Thanksliving feast!), November has been a relatively quiet month for me.

I’ve been fighting off a cold, working hard at the office, and otherwise taking it pretty easy with lots of time at home & in the kitchen.

Read on for the highlights in my Life + Kitchen this month…

Friends Brunch

We’ve been in our house for about 3 months now, so it’s about time we had Mike’s college friends over to see it!  We recently had a bunch of them over for brunch (so much cheaper & healthier than eating out!).  In addition to Omelets made by Mike and some frozen hashbrowns, we also made:

  • DIY Fruit Salad Station – Since raspberries are so delicate, bananas brown fast, and not everyone likes coconut, I set out separate dishes with the components of a Fruit Salad for everyone to mix and match – this worked really well!
  • Chocolate-Swirl Banana Bread from Isa Does It – it was really fun & easy to make and got quite a few compliments (next time I want to add Walnuts though!).  

New [Vegan] Snow Boots

We had several snowy days in Chicago, including a few days of {Brrrr!} February temperatures!  I got through them much more comfortably than usual thanks to my new Kamik Snow Boots – not only do these have great traction but they are incredibly warm and comfortable since they have a down-like polyester fill.  I found mine on REI.com and got free shipping.  Now I’d just love to find a new Vegan “Down” Coat!

Coming to my Kitchen in May

When discussing favorite Vegan Chefs, I always call a tie between Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Dreena Burton – two chefs that I’ve had a 100% success rate with their recipes and whose recipes strike up a perfect balance between healthfulness & good taste.

I knew Dreena was working on a new cookbook (coming out in May) and so as soon as I saw it pop up on Amazon, I went ahead and placed my pre-order.  Imagine my surprise when Dreena let me know that I might be the first to have done so, since she hadn’t even announced the pre-orders on her blog yet. 

Care Package

My dear friend Amy (a vegetarian RD-to-Be) sent me this amazing care package, exactly half way in between my Birthday & Christmas.  So far, I’m especially enjoying the amazing scents of the Purring Buddha soaps & sugar scrub she picked up while travelling in Utah.  

I’m also really excited about the huge bag of Earnest Eats Blueberry Chia Hot Cereal (it comes unsweetened!) and eager to try the Munching Monkey dried tofu (she gets it from an Asian Grocery Store and says it’s delish)!  And yes, those are mustache Post-It Notes too!

 
My Most “Liked” Photos of the Month {a countdown}
 

#4. We’re trying to start a routine of weeknight dinners at my In-Law’s place once or twice a month.  My Father-in-Law made my “most-liked” photo list two months in a row now!  This time, with this recipe for Pasta with Roasted Squash & Kale from the Chicago Tribune.  And that’s Trader Joe’s Fig Butter on the baguette – SO good!

#3. I finally tried out the Waffle Maker we received as a wedding gift last year, putting it to work on a Meal Prep Sunday.  I made a huge batch of the Sinfully Wholesome Waffles with blueberries from Isa Does It.  The waffles were tasty, but our favorite part of this breakfast was the batch of Dreena’s Blueberry Maple Syrup from Vive Le Vegan that I made on the side.

#2. I can’t recommend highly enough these Cumin Roasted Sweet Potatoes from Vegetarian Times magazine.  After roasting, I tossed in some canned Kidney Beans to transform this side dish into a meal.  This made for an amazing week of packed lunches!

#1. My most popular picture this month was of a huge batch of Down Home Curry I made,  also from Isa Does It.  I also made a huge batch of brown rice in my pressure cooker and had plenty of rice leftover to freeze for the future.  

My Favorite Eats of the month

It’s been a busy month in my kitchen! In addition to the Cumin Roasted Sweet Potatoes I also especially loved the following eats:

Breakfasts:

  • Orange Oatmeal from Happy Herbivore Light & Lean – I never knew Oats cooked in Orange Juice could taste so amazing!
  • Savory Rosemary-Veggie Oatmeal  from Vegan Yack Attack – I’d never made savory oats before and was worried Mike & I might not love them enough to have as a week-long breakfast – but much to our surprise, we did!
  • And my current favorite weekend breakfast – a Sprouted Wheat Sesame Bagel with Hummus, Tomato, Salt & Pepper with a Pink Grapefruit on the side.

Dinners:

  • Quick Kale Salad – I whipped up our new favorite Kale Salad by massaging a bunch of kale with salt & avocado, then sprinkling liberally with Balsamic Vinegar and our special ingredientthe water from a jar of roasted red peppers!
  • Blaze Pizza – I brought Blaze Pizza home one night from the location near my office.  The service was Meh but the combination of Spicy Sauce, Daiya Cheese, and Kalamata Olives made Mike declare this his favorite Vegan Pizza ever.  ( I still think it’s second only to Dimo’s!)
  • Vegetable Pot Pie Bowls from More Quick Fix Vegan – Easy, Healthy, Hearty, and Delicious – this recipe is a keeper.  I love that the sauce is made thick & creamy from blending in protein-packed Chickpeas!

My Favorite Links of the month

Meet the New Dirty Dozen: Food Additives you Should Avoid

Most of you are probably familiar with the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) “Dirty Dozen” list of fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides, which is updated every year.  Now, for the first time ever, the EWG has created a separate “Dirty Dozen” list of Food Additives to beware of.

Sadly, the list contains additives I see far too often – even “Natural Flavors” are on their Dirty Dozen list.  Unless a “Natural Flavor” is certified Organic, it can actually contain synthetic chemicals since the word “natural” is not fully defined by the FDA.

The Cheapest Produce Month by Month

Mike is all about the bargains!  He sent me this list of the Cheapest Produce by month (basically, what’s in season) for use in my Meal Planning each week.  I’m looking forward to lots of tasty produce in December!

via frugalliving.about.com

5 Shocking Reasons you should skip Angora Wool

A couple of photos in this article are heart-wrenching, but I’m so glad I read it anyway and gleaned these unfortunate facts:

  • 90% of Angora sold has been imported from China – a country known in the animal rights community for its lax animal welfare laws.
  • Male Angora rabbits are routinely killed immediately after birth since they’re not profitable to breeders as their fur yield is only about 80% compared to females.
  • Longer hairs are worth more money, so it’s not uncommon for the rabbits to be plucked alive instead of sheared.

An Angora Rabbit – via OneGreenPlanet / Nick Bramhall

 

[Video] How not to let fear (or anxiety) get the best of you

In this short video, Kristin from Will Travel for Vegan Food offers some simple yet powerful advice for letting go of fear and anxiety.  Check it out!

Easy Activism: Veganizing Recipes on Non-Vegan Food Sites… and Commenting on them:

I usually find myself navigating to exclusively vegan sites for recipe inspiration, but as this author points out, we might be able to do much more for mainstreaming veganism by veganizing a recipe from a non-vegan site, and leaving a friendly comment about the results!

With the world of food blogs growing at a seemingly unstoppable rate, there exist ever more venues for vegan activism. One word: comments. Rather than dismissing those non-vegan food sites, search around them for veganizeable recipes,  make ‘em, then comment on the recipe and let readers know how easily they can make the dish animal-friendly!

 
I’d love to hear from you!
 
What’s the best recipe you made this month?
 
What is your favorite article, blog-post or website from October?