Saturday, February 26, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award!

Something pretty I made and ate a while back . . .
Sally Kitten at "Of the Kitten Kind" has bestowed the "Stylish Blogger Award" upon "A Midlife Vegan" among other blogs. I am honored!  I love Sally's blog. Her recipes are inventive and luscious (I featured her "Almond Parsnip Soup" on "A Midlife Vegan" once). Her photos are beautiful and artfully done, which is no surprise since Sally is also an artist -- there's a link to some of her amazing artwork on the blog. Besides the rich content of Sally's blog, I get a real kick from visiting because of Sally's positive, youthful exuberance. I always leave smiling and refreshed.

As a recipient of the Stylish Blogger Award, I need to provide seven facts about myself:

1. I have been vegan for a little over a year now. I provided details ad nauseum about this transition in a recent post "Happy V-Day to Me!" Suffice it to say, it was the right decision. I'm not going back.

2. I've not held a full-time job since 1993 when I was a Campaign Associate at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. My duties there included Events Planning, Fundraising and  Speech Writing. I was honored to work with remarkable people including survivors of the Holocaust. I used to give hardhat tours of the Museum's construction site to prospective donors. My husband and I moved to Detroit right before the Museum opened its doors to the public.

3. Since getting married in 1992, we have moved eight times. Cities have included Detroit, MI, Williamsburg, VA (back to my alma mater for a couple of years -- William and Mary - yeah!), Winston-Salem, NC, Fairfax VA, and Alpharetta GA. We have been planted here in Georgia for over ten years now.

4. Being a mother is the most fulfilling and most difficult thing I've ever done. I would not have missed it.

5. I love writing -- I've published some articles and have a book of short stories that is languishing on my hard drive since blogging is currently a better fit during this "drop everything" chapter of life with teenage kids.

6. I have ambitions for more schooling, maybe something in healthcare for my second chapter of employment. I'd love feedback about suggested courses of study from any of you with experience in this area.

7. I've been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis for over 15 years now. I have been giving myself injections daily for over ten years. The injections are not interferon, which I tried for a year before starting this "decoy" medicine. I think interferon is the devil and will not try it again under any circumstance. Integrative Medicine has been very helpful to me. The vegan diet has provided the most dramatic benefits.

Now I get to award ten more recipients of this coveted "Stylish Blogger Award". I will do so with the caveat that I have a feeling I've seen some of my favorites with this award already, So if you find yourselves "doubly awarded" don't feel the need to go through all the motions again, unless you want to!

I'm in a bit of a "branching out" phase of my veganism, and am loving learning more about specific nutritional approaches. One blog that is very intriguing to me of late is Lisa's "Raw on $10 a Day (Or Less!)" The content is so new and fresh to me that I had to run right out and buy a dehydrator! I'm officially inspired. But beyond the content, we have another artist here folks! The blog is gorgeous and meticulously styled and Lisa's actual artwork (link is on her blog) is ethereally beautiful. It positively transports. When I look at some of Lisa's pieces, I am compelled anew to pursue neglected dreams with a youthful vigor. Well done, Lisa.

Another blogger whose nutritional expertise is much appreciated is Dr. Joanne M. Williams at "Foods for Long Life". Dr. Joanne has been inspiring my cooking and attention to nutrition for quite some time. Thanks!

Debbie at "The Health Seekers Kitchen" is someone else with some nutritional expertise I'd like to recognize. Her healthy, creative recipes never disappoint and her photos are gorgeous! Though I've not personally met Debbie, she feels like a good friend through the blogwaves. Debbie is one of those I may have already seen as a "Stylish Blogger Award" recipient.

While we are still on the subject of nutrition, I'd like to feature someone whose work I've recently been enjoying, Ainslie from "Everyone Is Vegan". Ainslie is a nutritionist (forgive me, Ainslie, if I don't have your title just right). In any case, she sounds like she knows what she's doing. I always feel like I have learned something important about the vegan food I'm eating whenever I visit Ainslie's blog, and as a bonus I get to enjoy quirky clips from different sources that mean something to Ainslie. I remember one day, during my son's recent health crisis, being afforded a much-needed belly-laugh from a "30 Rock" clip posted by Ainslie on her blog. Ainslie's energy  is enjoyable in a blog format. Her irreverance is refreshing.

Speaking of irreverance, I LOVE "Vegan Burnout".  Shannon is amazing, she's just . . . anything I say won't do her justice. You've just got to read her for yourself.  She's awesome -- oh yeah, and her food is good too!

Trying not to veer off the subject of nutrition just yet, I do want to mention Vivaciousvegan at "Adventures of a NutritarianVegan in Midwestern America". I am absolutely positive that Vivacious recently received this award, but I need to count her as one of my most current inspirations. Besides a wealth of knowledge about nutrition beyond the scope of my own, Vivacious (who does have a name, I think it is Jennifer? -- I can no longer find it on her blog and my short-term memory loss is kicking in . . .) is inspiring to me as a fellow chronic-illness manager. Right after my diagnosis, many family members urged me to find a support group, but I intuitively knew that belonging to such a group would be the beginning of my demise. I employ a healthy dose of denial in my disease management. So, while my approach of "let it be as if it were not," has worked for me thus far, it does leave me with a deficit of identifiable associative personae. Vivacious' (Jennifer's?) blog allows me to step harmlessly for a moment into the experience of another with perhaps similar challenges (though our diseases are very different). Vivacious' upbeat attitude through it all is most healing to my soul. Thanks, Viv!

Talking soul-healing now, I must feature Jeri and David of "GOD'S DREAMS FOR ME in my Vegan Playground". These amazing people are wise, holy. When I visit I am always inspired and, in Jeri's words, "refreshed". This is another one I'm almost certain has received this award, and again, someone who feels like a friend, though I've never met her personally.

In the same genre of "inspiring cyber-friend" is, of course, Lindsay Wolf of "Kiss Me, I'm Vegan!" Lindsay's star shines brightly and her activism, beyond the scope of anything I am likely to accomplish until perhaps my next chapter in life, is infectious nevertheless.  Inspired!  (Yeah, you've probably gotten this award already too, huh?)

One of my earliest inspirations is Morgan at "Little House of Veggies". Before I learned how to cook for myself, "A Midlife Vegan" was one reinterpreted "Little House of Veggies" recipe after another! (though I did cite her!) Morgan is an amazing chef, her photos are beautiful and I predict she will go far wherever she puts her energy. She is a wonderful cyber-friend to me. Thanks Morgan! -- You continue to inspire!

Another blog I love lately is Stephanie's "Diary of a Frenzied Vegan". This girl has got the goods. Stephanie is a great cook and I've been eating a lot of her creations lately, albeit with my lazy spin upon them.

That's ten already, but since there are quite a few here who've already gotten the award (I think) I can mention a couple more who mean something to me:

Melissa at "Green Beans and Yam" -- Activism, young energy, spiritually and healthfully blooming -- an inspiring cyber-friend.

Sara at "Busy Vegan Mama" -- Great cook, visiting this blog transports me back to a lovely chapter of my own life, but Sara is doing it better through veganism. The cheeks on those babies!!

Hilary at {Plate+Simple} who has been on hiatus from blogging for an undisclosed exciting project, has nevertheless been an early and huge inspiration for me as a vegan. Plus, I love her rockin' haircut which I just copied. I'll post a new photo soon if I get one. Anyway, Hilary's blog archives are worth checking out if you haven't yet. Best of luck to you, Hilary, on your project, and if you can, come back to the blogging world -- we miss you!

I could go on and on. There are so many creative souls on the blogosphere who inspire daily. I'm grateful to honor just a few, and thanks, Sally, for the award!

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Who'd-a-thunk-it? Of all the things I could have presented to my omnivore-man, who'd have thought this would appeal? I don't know where I got the gumption, but I kept "arranging" this salad until it was pretty as a picture. But would it translate to delectable?  Yes! And further, while I was waiting for him to come to the table, my even more picky son looked wide-eyed upon it and asked if he could nibble on part of the blossom. I told him he would have to take it up with his father. Dad relented and both of my guys ate flowers for dinner!  My husband said the salad was really delicious, and my son did not seem offended by the experiment.

The salad is simply a tangle of fresh watercress topped with half an avocado, a couple of pansies, salt and pepper and a little drizzle of blood orange olive oil. That is all. The peppery watercress and creamy avocado were perfect foils for one another and the mildness of the pansies did not upset the balance. The light, flavorful oil was lovely on the mix. Food-styling lesson to self -- add the blossoms after the oil. Oil on a pansy spoils its velvety texture, but not its luscious, mild flavor.

Be brave -- eat flowers!  (only the edible ones!)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel

You all know me -- I believe that, as a vegan, I should never find myself in a state of want. In other words, I believe the lifestyle is a gift to myself and never want or expect to feel deprived. Nevertheless, a busy life sometimes does not afford the planning and organization needed to be fully stocked.

Though our family is just about out of the woods with my son's health crisis, we are still not back to a normal routine, spending a lot of time even now in doctors' offices. So I'm not shopping very often. I have availed myself of vegan frozen convenience foods on several occasions recently, and, while I am grateful for the wholesomeness and convenience, I crave my own basic creations.

Today I opened one more box of convenience, a vegan soup by Pacific: Thai Sweet Potato, but also created my own wrap from what I could manage to glean from my larder.

These two turned out to be an odd combination. I was not expecting much from my multigrain wrap of hummus, arugula, brown rice, sesame seeds and pickles, but is was surprisingly delicious, and rendered the little soup bland and flavorless. Thai soup, bland and flavorless? Yes, unfortunately, when compared to the rockin' flavor of the Wickles Pickles I piled into the wrap. I'm not convinced Wickles are vegan, but the ingredients list looks okay. They are very sweet and VERY spicy -- an addictive combo. I guess they would make anything taste good.

I finished the lackluster soup for its nutritional benefits, and savored the remainder of my odd pickle-loaded wrap. I promise I will be more creative tomorrow!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Good Morning!

Breakfast -- the most important meal of the day.  Most early mornings I'm not up for eating a lot, so a smoothie or some eziekiel toast suits me just fine, but on this lazy Sunday I wanted a big bowl of tofu scramble.  My favorite scramble includes roasted potatoes, carrot, spring onion, collards and garlic. Here are the fresh bits. At this point the tofu is already pressing and the fingerling potatoes, diced and coated in olive oil, salt and pepper, are already in a 450 degree oven. After 15 minutes I was ready to pull out the crispy potatoes, and put it all together in a pan. While it sauteed, the pressed tofu was broken into pieces with a wooden spoon. A dash of ume vinegar, some more salt and pepper and enough turmeric to flavor and color the bean curd to a lovely egginess, and I was all done and ready to eat. Oh -- a generous shake of smoky, cheezy nootch was also amazing on top.  Mmmmm.

Friday, February 18, 2011

There's No Such Thing As Too Many Greens

I was inspired last Sunday by something I'd seen on Jeri and David Taira's blog, "God's Dreams for Me in My Vegan Playground" ( An easy soup was featured that their son had come up with: a can of Amy's Organic Lentil Soup with kale added to it. Now that's what I'm talkin' about!  LOVE simple!  Of course, true to form, I start with easy and am then so comfortable that I begin cleaning out the crisper. So, still easy, this soup contained not only the added kale, but also some diced carrots and daikon. Then I had to add more water because the whole thing was so chunky I couldn't submerge the veggies. This soup was fabulous!

But before I could eat it, the other family members got a hankering for their weekly Chinese fix. Since I'd just had kale and fried tofu for lunch, and was going to have this soup for dinner, I only added Garlic Baby Bok Choy to the order, along with brown rice:

So here's my second dinner plate. Greens, greens and more greens -- Bliss! Seriously, does anyone out there ever feel they've had too many servings of greens?  I cannot imagine ever getting tired of them. I dream about eating them -- not kidding. YUM!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Beefless Stroganoff!

I adapted this from the Beef Stroganoff recipe in The Joy of Cooking. Here's the recipe:

Beefless Stroganoff
a package of Gardein "Beefless Tips" 9 oz. ("Joy" calls for 1 1/2 lb. of beef!)
2-3 Tbsp. Earth Balance butter
1 large diced onion ("Joy" only calls for 3/4 Tbsp. of onion!)
3/4 lb. of sliced mushrooms, or as much as you want
salt, pepper, fresh nutmeg
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 c. dry white wine
1 c. tofutti sour cream

In the butter, saute the onion and mushrooms until onion is transluscent, about 5 minutes, stirring periodically. Add "beef" and wine and saute another 5 minutes or so over medium-high heat, stirring so it won't stick. Season with salt, pepper a generous grind of nutmeg and basil. Add sour cream, warm through and serve over noodles or potatoes, whatever you like.
Serves 2 

This recipe was very easy and quick. The Joy of Cooking version serves 4, and you could double the "beef tips" to achieve that amount, but I didn't, since I wasn't even sure if my carnivore would go for it, "fake meat" and all.  Guess what?  He DID! He even ate seconds and called it delicious! I'm so excited!!

We had the stroganoff over whole wheat linguine. I really wanted brown rice fusilli, but didn't want to overload my good-sport carnivore with new experiences!

Another meal that I wasn't going to feature since it is only a different combo of lots of the same leftovers I've been eating lately is this:

See those big bite marks all along the front edge? I was well into the nirvana that is assorted-vegan-leftovers-on-a-flatbread when my son walked in and said, "Wow."

"What? It's good!" I responded.

"Yeah, I think if I were vegan that would be good to me too. It just looks really healthy." he said.

"That's part of what makes it so good!" I continued.

"Seriously, it looks like you just scooped that out of a really healthy jungle," he added, diplomatically.

I started to giggle.

"That looks better than that Yoda-food you were eating the other day!" He continued.

He meant this:

One of my radicchio pizzas extraordinaire -- my very most favorite thing to eat of late. It looks even more like Yoda-food after it's been under the broiler for a couple of minutes.  I'm not offended.  Very wise, Yoda is. Honored to dine with him, I would be!  I'm just glad my son is noticing.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Feeding the Crave

I love perusing recent posts of my favorite blogs. I enjoy the personalities of my fellow bloggers and am also continually inspired by their kitchen endeavors. Sometimes it's hard to remember from whence an inspiration has come, and usually I find myself changing a recipe due to my own laziness or to avoid another trip to the grocery store. I am not the most organized vegan.

Yesterday I knew my inspiration was from something I'd seen on Stephanie Leah's "Diary of a Frenzied Vegan" ( I began working with a dish she had created with wild rice, butternut squash and an apple among other things. But then I realized I'd been eating a fair amount of rice lately and I really wanted red quinoa instead. Looking back, I realize I'd also been inspired by a quinoa dish on Stephanie's blog as well, and I sort of morphed the two very loosely.

This dish involved a lot more effort for me than I usually expend, but then wrestling with any raw winter squash without slicing myself is a guaranteed way to kill half an hour or so. Obviously I am not eating many winter squash, but then that's what makes this delicious panful so special -- it doesn't come around every day!

After successfully chopping the butternut into submission without losing a finger (maybe I just need a sharper knife?) I did enjoy the rest of the prep work for this amazing meal. I started by roasting the butternut and the apple on a parchment sheet at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, as Stephanie does, but otherwise I used up items in my crisper which were on their way to being not so crispy -- a carrot, a large garlic clove, two sad leeks (I removed the sad parts) a cup of red quinoa, some olive oil, a vegan bouillon cube, enough water to keep most of the quinoa moist, and then added at the end three well-chopped collard leaves, a large handful of cilantro and a spring onion. I obviously followed no recipe after roasting the squash and apple, so I would definitely direct you to the source -- Stephanie's recipe.

I really enjoy "shopping my own larder" and finding ways not to waste the food within it. The food in the above panful is truly what I am always dreaming of -- deeply-colored fresh veggies with nutrient-rich whole grains. I crave it all day long. I am eating it now for my "second breakfast" (a smoothie was my first, but looking at that photo I had to have it). The leftovers are delightful, cold out of the 'fridge!

I have to giggle when I realize that many of my omni-friends will take one look at the object of my desire and grimace. I guess I may not have been so hot for this panful of yum a year ago either. But now?  Obsessed!

Saturday, February 12, 2011


We are still in a season of lazy vegan eating around here as creativity is taking a sabbatical while my focus is necessarily upon matters other than food. I do feel rumblings of that old vegan mojo, however. I'm finding myself interested in learning more about nutrition and planning some fresh experiments when time is again mine.

When I was in Kroger looking for baby bok choy and hemp milk, I saw a little carton of these crunchy sprouts, comprised of adzuki beans, lentils and green peas. It is clear that these three sprout at different rates since the peas seem to be the most robustly sprouted and there is nary a sprout upon an adzuki. Still, the mix is different from anything I'd ever eaten and is very satisfying. The price tag was a bit hefty for a tiny little carton -- $2.79 or somesuch, but the purchase was worthwhile to me for educational and inspirational purposes. I bet, with a little research, I could cheaply sprout any manner of seeds.

Why sprout?  Well, I'm sure I will have more info on this topic after the aforementioned research, but I do already know that a sprouted seed is more bioavailable. In other words, the nutrition is more readily absorbed into the system and less of it is wasted. Also, once a seed is sprouted, the body treats it as more of a "plant food" than a starchy "seed". I look forward to learning more about this subject when I am afforded the time for a new project.

The photo above is of one of my lazy, simple lunches. It is a flatbread spread with spinach hummus and topped with arugula and the crunchy sprouts.

Here's another version of almost the same thing, in a different format:

In this case, instead of bread and hummus, I have cannelini beans, leftover steamed cauliflower, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and of blood orange olive oil. Otherwise, I again feature the arugula and crunchy sprouts.  Both meals were very agreeable and easy to throw together.

For you regular readers who may be interested -- We are nearing the end of my son's health crisis, I think. Today was his first day out. He drove his own truck and met us for lunch at Taco Mac (which now features a black bean chipotle burger btw! Yippee!) He was overjoyed to be out of the house without a headache. I am cautiously optimistic. If I can get him back to school on Monday I will know we are out of the woods. Thanks again for all your prayers and good wishes through it all. You are much appreciated.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Happy V-Day to Me!

What, Valentine's Day? Nah, not that! Today is my Veganniversary! Yes, kids, as of today I have been vegan for one year! Everyone's experience with a major life change such as becoming vegan is different, so I can only speak for mine. In case you are interested, here are some notes I would make about my experience turning vegan.

1.  The decision was not difficult. I "sat" on it to make certain I was sure, only for the amount of time it took for Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Life to arrive from Amazon.

2.  I did not announce my decision to my family for a while, and I have never demanded they share my lifestyle change, but they do happen to like many of the vegan meals I prepare. If they don't, it's okay, more vegan leftovers for me!

3.  Detox wasn't fun, it took a good three months for me to cease craving dairy, but the rapid, easy weight loss during that time was enough for me to avoid second-guessing the decision.

4.  During detox I really disliked vegan "meats" and "cheeses" so I built my vegan foundation on real, whole foods like grains, veggies, beans, nuts and other legumes. This is all for the best. Now that I do actually enjoy the vegan "meats" and "cheeses" I only have them occasionally, still mostly craving the unadulterated foods.

5.  The first three months (detox) I lost 1-3 lbs. per week. Once I shed all the non-essential goop that was in my system, the weight loss stopped, and I am left at what I suppose must be the ideal weight for me, at around 15 pounds lighter than pre-vegan. This goes up and down about 3 lbs. according to what types of vegan foods and alcoholic beverages I am consuming, but always effortlessly balances out again after one or two meals of greens and grains.

6.  Medications hit me hard and immediately now. I avoid them most of the time, and when they are needed I take half a dose or less. My Integrative Medicine M.D. explains that this is because, after being vegan so long, my liver is more clean that it has been in my adult life.

7.  I have more energy than I have had since my M.S. diagnosis in January 1996. This is the first time since then that I don't need a daily afternoon nap.

8.  Most of my life I have succumbed to seasonal allergies that invariably resulted in at least four sinus infections a year, necessitating antibiotic intervention. This year I did not get any sinus infections until the Christmas tree came into our home (this Christmas tree allergy happens every year, and I suspect it has more to do with pesticides and other greenery-prolonging chemicals than with the tree itself. Evergreens in nature don't do me that way.) The Christmas-tree infection was cured after 4 days of antibiotics. Yes, I know, we are supposed to take the whole 10 days-worth, but I didn't, because intuitively I knew I didn't need to.

9.  Last Spring, when I got a "little ole' lady" injury walking on the beach (sprained sacral ligament from speed-walking barefoot on hard wet sand -- yeah, don't do this -- wear shoes if you are walking for cardio benefits) I got an x-ray. The technician had to do a double-take at my age on the chart. "These are not the bones of a 44-year old" (I'm now 45) she said. Do you take calcium? "No, I take kale and collard greens!" I answered. The technician went on to say my bones were more dense than most 30 year-olds!

10.  I have always loved animals, but now I REALLY love animals! I realize when I look into the eyes of livestock, they are not so very different from the eyes of my sweet chowish-labbish Emma. Seriously I can get a glimpse of their personalities which are so individual and different. I believe that those of us who eat animals have blinders on about the lives and personalities of the animals who will become our food. We just don't let ourselves "go there". I believe being vegan opens one's heart and soul to comfortably SEE the animals. I can see the curiosity in the eyes of a cow. I can see the playful, cuddly nature in the eyes of a pig. What a gift!

The vegan journey isn't over. Though the rapidity of the changes has slowed, I can see my health continually evolving, and I suspect my whole animal awareness will continue to sharpen as well.

To celebrate my veganniversary I have been indulging in something I ordinarily wouldn't. I've learned my system doesn't like sugar so I truly usually avoid it. However, my daughter's vegan friend at school was turning 13 and so I had to make her "My Favorite Cupcakes" from The Kind Diet. I sent 6 of the cupcakes to school for my daughter's friend, and kept 6 for myself. I have already met Wynne's friend's mother, who asked me, "What should I cook for her?" at the time, so I knew it would be okay to send the cupcakes along with a little birthday card explaining where I got the recipe.

Here's Wynne's friend's little boxful of vegan birthday yum! I had to use some pretty tissue paper to divide the cakes so they wouldn't be a vegan fudgy mess as Wynne schlepped them to school.

So I have been indulging in a cupcake per day since I made the cupcakes, and I do note the slightly tired edge to my day, and the slight craving afterward where before there was none. I've only got one vegan cupcake left for tomorrow, and I'm glad I will only have a week or so until the sugar craving abates, not the three months that dairy would take. It's all good.

As I mark this Veganniversary, I want to thank all those creative, wonderful vegan souls, cookbook authors and bloggers alike, who have inspired and informed me. The blogging community, in particular, feels like a warm, fuzzy bunch of good friends to me. This was a vegan benefit I never expected -- Thanks beautiful vegans!

Thursday, February 10, 2011


You folks in the northeast will think I am a nutcase, and I concede that to be entirely possible, considering the recent whole week the Atlanta area was shut down due to ice, but when I awoke this morning to freshly fallen snow I felt hopeful. My life circumstance has not changed. Still I am racked with worry, still I am not sleeping. Still my child is checked out of life as we continue to tread the circuitous path of the medication maze.  But yet, in the quiet of the morning I was able to breathe. I looked heavenward and saw something lovely -- these majestic towering pines dusted with clean fresh white, and rooted firmly to the earth. Just . . . thank you.

Somehow, receiving this grace makes it clear that each day has the potential to be better than the last.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


We are still in our season of "trying times" here, and as such I've found myself lacking in culinary creativity. Thankfully, however, this narrow focus on a problem beyond myself does not necessitate a compromise of vegan standards. No, I cannot come up with something creative to eat right now, but that doesn't mean I reach for a can of Spaghettios. It means I look around the pantry and see a can of beans, and an avocado, and in the fridge a package of arugula that still happens to look pretty good. So that's what I eat, drizzled with my Blood Orange Olive Oil and a grind of fresh pepper. So I guess the vegan lifestyle is the right one for me. It's the core of who I am. It's the most effortless choice. In this case boring? Maybe. Good? Yes.

Monday, February 7, 2011


Well, we've got the boy home from the hospital. There's no diagnosis, but there was nothing life-threatening. Apparently the consensus is that his whole system seized up when we abruptly stopped a migraine preventative medicine which was no longer working. Everything is back in working order now, but he's slow-moving (detoxing from the narcotics he got at the hospital, no doubt) and we still have the migraine issue. He's not back at school yet. We are starting the next preventive medicine today to see if it is a match for him -- this is truly a process of elimination.

Obviously there is much more we can do once he is stable, i.e. going to school on a regular basis, but there is no point in going the holistic and nutrition route until it looks like we will have some compliance. My Integrative Medicine M.D. is a miracle worker, but she is not cheap and is not covered by insurance.   My sweet, smart, wonderful boy is not himself when he is not well. He sometimes becomes someone only a mother could love. And I do! (teenager+extreme chronic illness=we pick our battles) I feel confident that once we maneuver the migraine medicine maze my son will be more open-minded about what else he can do to ensure good health.

I want to thank all of you who were with us in spirit through our crisis. I have no doubt it contributed to getting our boy home.

I've obviously not been in the kitchen too much lately, but I wanted to give you a pretty picture today. This is a wrap I fixed pre-crisis with the same lavash bread I've been eating lately. It was delicious! I sauteed a sliced shallot and a sliced portobello mushroom cap in olive oil. I did not marinate the mushroom. I personally don't care for marinated portobellos that I've had at restaurants -- all I could taste is balsamic vinegar! I prefer the flavor of the mushroom, but that's just me. Once the mushroom and shallot are cooked, I let them cool a bit while I spread the hummus on the bread (hummus is an excellent "glue" for wraps!) then I arranged the mushrooms and shallots over the surface of the bread and topped it off with plenty of arugula, and rolled it up. It was simple and delish!

Thanks again for all the good wishes, and for bearing with me as I use my blog as therapy. What a wonderful way to "shrink" myself, right in the comfort of my own home!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Food For Trying Times

Though I wouldn't wish times like these upon you, most likely you've had them, and if you haven't, you will. I am talking about those moments when life appears in sharp focus as we deal with crises. Everything happens in slow motion as we, wide-eyed, become vigilant and strong.

Personally, we've had a tough week. Some of you may know my teenage son suffers from migraines. In addition to the health issue we are used to, on Thursday night my boy was beset with excruciating abdominal pain. He has been in the hospital ever since as the doctors work to determine the cause of his pain. My husband and I have been tag-teaming so that one of us can always be in our son's hospital room with him. It makes him feel better and also we would hate to miss a doctor's visit or a decision about pain management or diagnostic tests.

So as we go through this time of uncertainty, balance and health becomes very important. I am grateful, once again, that my vegan body speaks very clearly about what it needs for nourishment. This morning, as I was readying myself to relieve my husband at the hospital, I realized my usual morning coffee wasn't calling my name. I wanted something milder, more subtle and slightly sweet. I made myself a Yerba Matte with a splash of silk nog from Christmas (yes, it's still good!) The warm drink was delicious and calming. My nerves didn't need any help being on edge.

Before I left for the hospital, I knew I would need to pack a lunch for myself. There is NOTHING at the hospital for a vegan. So ironic -- My son can opt for low carb, low sugar, low fat, diabetic, gluten-free and more, but no vegan, no vegetarian. Here's an idea:  How 'bout cancer free, high blood pressure free, heart disease free?  In other words . . . vegan!  Yada yada, I could write another post on that topic. Back to my lunch today:

This is an enormous lavash bread (about 11"x14") spread with roasted red pepper hummus, a large handful of arugula, some leftover quinoa and a few slices of Follow Your Heart vegan mozzerella. I rolled it up, actually expertly (I was shocked) into a perfect big old honkin' burrito. I was in such a rush to get to the hospital that I forgot to take a photo of the assembled burrito, but trust me, it was a sight to behold. It was also quite delicious and sustaining. In the evening my daughter and I returned home for dinner, leaving my husband at the hospital, intending to return for a couple of hours before bedtime.

So, at home and in a rush once again, I did my version of vegan fast food:

This is my crispy collards, only 5 minutes from crisper to plate. I quickly wash, de-stem and chop about 10 large collard leaves, throw them in a pan over medium-high heat with olive oil and a small forkful of minced garlic from a jar. I keep it all moving with a couple of wooden spoons for about 2-3 minutes and it is finished. A tiny sprinkle of kosher sea salt finishes these veggies beautifully. With my crispy green-leafies I had:

An Amy's frozen bean and rice burrito, some more leftover quinoa and more "cheese" melted slightly over the top. This was quick and hearty healthy comfort food.

As it turned out, when we were hopping back into the car for the hospital, my husband called to tell me my son was finally asleep and so he was going to unfold his convertible chair they brought him and try to sleep himself. So it's time for me to cuddle up with my daughter and a chick flick, and then an early night so I can be back in my son's room bright and early.

My vantage point of having many years under my belt has afforded me the realization that "this too shall pass". Of course I still worry about my sweet boy, and the uncertainty is very unsettling. But staying strong, healthy and focused, myself, is one thing I can do to reduce the stress on the family. If you are so inclined, we could use some of your prayers, good vibes, angels, karma or whatever you've got. Thanks, and I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Food As Fuel

It's repair season in our 10-year-old home (how did those years fly by so quickly?) so I have been busy sanding and spackling, applying joint compound and sanding again. This is not my favorite thing to do because wall dust is all pervasive and feels poisonous to breathe. Yes, I wear a facemask, but it still gets through. When the dusty mess is mostly cleaned up and it's time to paint, I can enjoy the process.  I'm loving the ceiling paint that goes on pink and dries white, by the way. It is easy to lose track of a wet edge up there.

The other day I was painting the kitchen ceiling after repairing a calamity (don't ask . . .) and in between the third and fourth coats hunger struck. This pile of fresh greens topped with cold leftover parsnip puree from dinner the night before,* pine nuts, sunflower seeds and a drizzle of Goddess dressing sustained me through the end of the project. All hail the noble leftover!

When the job was all finished, I rewarded myself with a little soft-serve:

Doesn't it look pretty in the old blue bowl? I made this by putting a small handful of frozen berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries) and about one and a half frozen bananas in a blender with a small handful of blanched almonds for fattiness. The blender really didn't want to move, so I also added a tiny splash of almond milk and that got things moving. This tasted quite decadent but not too sweet. It was energizing without imparting that "blah" ice cream feeling. Perfect!

*Parsnip puree:  have you tried this? just boil 'em and whirl them up with a little "butter"salt and pepper in the food processor -- amazing!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

He Liked It!

Not superhero, but veggie-filled and luscious, here's a yummy recent meal that my carnivore really loved. My husband famously prefers most foods straight out of the jar, so I always offer everyone that option as well, and I don't mind so much if it is something as healthful as Barilla Marinara.

Imagine my surprise when I jazzed my Barilla up with well-chopped collard greens and smashed garlic cloves and the carnivore came running! He liked my jazzed up version better! I'm happy. I don't have a recipe for the sauce, but I used about 4-5 fresh collard leaves, minus the stems, and two big garlic cloves. I added the garlic while the sauce was warming on the stove, so they got a little cooked, and then I just stirred the collards in as I was pulling the pan off the heat. When I first added collards to a sauce, in days gone by, I thought it would be cool to create lovely chiffonade ribbons. Yeah, don't do that unless you want your chin all wrapped up like a very healthy Italian mummy. Little pieces of collards are better in a sauce!

Under the featured sauce is gnocchi, which is beloved around here. Gia Russa makes gnocchi that is vegan, both the whole wheat and the white varieties. But I picked up an Italian brand that I found at Wal Mart because I was curious. This Italian gnocchi has spinach in it. It was lovely and luscious. I have to fess up and admit that I am not sure the Italian gnocchi was vegan. My one semester of Italian did not afford me the ability to decipher the ingredients. I was looking for some reasonable facsimile of "huevos"  (though trying to use Spanish in place of Italian has gotten me into trouble in the past -- long story) but I didn't see anything that looked like "egg". I apologize to the Italian chickens, though, just in case. I liked the mystery gnocchi, but it wasn't any more fabulous than the kind I know to be vegan, So there ends my straying.

This meal was most satisfying, while being effortless. It takes hardly any time to add piles of veggies to something. Start chopping!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Watch Oprah Today!

Garden harvest, summer 2010

Bonus post today since I forgot to mention this: today the Oprah Show is all about healthful eating and she and her staff (300ish people) are all pledging to go vegan for a week!  This is a big deal, kids, since Oprah speaks to many, many people. Education about our oft-misunderstood diet and way of life can only be a good thing. Remember when Alicia appeared on Oprah last year talking about her diet and her book? That's what got the ball rolling for this vegan.

So watch this afternoon if you can. It's on at 4:00 eastern time here in the Atlanta area and I'm planning on recording it in case I miss anything. Sorry about the double-daily post, but I thought you'd want to know if you didn't already.

This is How I Do Takeout Now

Around here ordering takeout is a bit of a family bonding event, and it usually happens on Sunday nights as we are lazily gearing up for the week. There's something about the anticipation of the ordered goods and the happy unwrapping frenzy that sparks excitable chatter and regenerates our familial bond. Since I'm usually the boss of which purveyor of food we choose (I'm the picky one) It is either Chipotle or Chinese. The choices thus narrowed, I am then met with my own issues -- I tend to order too much. Nothing gets wasted, but I just love all that veggie yumminess and have trouble remembering that some of the stuff I want to order is already in my fridge. So now I add more vegan leftovers to the top of my takeout instead of ordering more than one dish. I like to eat a lot!

Featured above is my burrito bol from Chipotle. It contains cilantro rice, black beans, peppers and onions, two salsas, guacamole and lettuce. But no, that wasn't enough. I needed more beany goodness from my own larder -- black eyed peas with snap beans which I had previously prepared for my poor migraine-ailing 17-year-old in my unending quest to find veggies to which he is not allergic. (He wasn't allergic, but wasn't wild about them either) The augmented bol was delish!

Here's what I had on another Sunday when we ordered Chinese delivery. Normally I order two entrees for myself because I cannot choose: Garlic Baby Bok Choy and Szechuan Tofu. When I do this my choices alone cost about $18. Nothing gets wasted -- I eat from it for days afterward, but the Sunday of the above meal, I realized how silly I was being since I did already have some darling baby bok choy in my fridge. So I ordered the tofu and quickly steamed my own greens. Very YUM, and I still got to eat from it all for days!

This takeout plus my own food makes sense mostly because my refrigerator is usually brimming with leftover goodness or raw veggies which take little to no time to prepare. The whole point of takeout is to indulge in laziness, but I still feel pretty lazy washing some greens and sticking them in the steamer for a couple of minutes or opening a bowl of leftovers. It works for me, I get more veggies, and it's cheaper too!