The countdown is on and I have implemented a "Salad & Smoothie" challenge... for myself. I have 11 days to go until my wedding and began this challenge at 25 days out. The rules are simple -- eat nothing except for salad and smoothies. I've also quit drinking alcohol and caffeine for the duration of the challenge as well, mostly because if I'm confining myself to super healthy whole foods (barring croutons, of course) why keep setting myself back by pouring on the calories and dehydrating myself by drinking beer after beer or chugging iced coffee? Listen, I love beer and iced coffee, but if there's ever a time to be proud of how you look, it's on your wedding day. I haven't been perfect.. I admit to eating a dunwell doughnut yesterday... But I worked out double and made up for it. Still -- I must not stray! Here is what my life has looked like so far this summer:
I wish fruits and vegetables weren't so expensive. It makes perfect sense that the USA holds such a strong drive-thru culture. It's cheaper! I bought a ton of fruits and veggies for smoothies and salads, that might last me three days at best and it set me back about $70.
There's got to be a more effective way to do this. I go to the store at least once every 2 days and my bill ranges from $30-$60 pretty much every time. Do any of you guys have tips on where to shop or how to save on fresh produce? It also kills me because my local place doesn't have the greatest produce. I know when I go to a Whole Foods-style place that even though I'm paying more, at least I'm getting really great produce and I can see the difference. But at my local place, a Key Foods, it's really hit or miss. But usually miss. And it's not cheap. I wish it could be easier. Help a girl out with a case of the Bodega Blues.
I've been making my smoothies almost exclusively from Somer McCowan's The Abundance Diet and had yet to try any of her other recipes! This is the "Rawkin Rainbow Kale Salad" which has kale as the main lettuce with a red pepper dressing, some cabbage, carrots and avocado. Oh! and jicama! I spiralized my jicama to make it fun. Then I covered up the pretty spirals with cabbage. The spirals are under there. Swear.
This is the BBQ Tempeh and Dilly Slaw Bowl from Salad Samurai. I've made this one before but came back to it last week when I was craving something more hearty than kale and tomatoes. It calls for BBQ chips to be sprinkled on the top, but I didn't have any, nor do I think it would be a good idea to pick up a bag to just have hanging out in my reach while I stay in strict salad-mode. I did have some pita, so I tossed some pita triangles in some cayenne and chili powder, toasted them and made like they were bbq chips. The bbq sauce is also from Salad Samurai, which I like, because sometimes I can't read the ingredients on bbq sauce bottles because they are all chemicals. What gives?
We went to Central Park last week and saw Father John Misty on a beautiful summer night. It was the most gorgeous night and seeing outdoor shows on nights like those is exactly what summer is for. We are getting a little old for the pit and are thinking we might become "lawn people" pretty soon, but we managed to hold our ground and threw some elbows at bros trying to come at us and push us out of our spots. Though my feelings on FJM are mixed, he put on a great show and the music was totally amazing. I love shows like these.
The very next night we had tickets to see Desaparecidos at Webster Hall. While I hate Webster Hall, the upstairs room is the nicest and most tolerable. I was completely fine with not drinking at this stupid venue. The week before we went to a show in one of the downstairs rooms and Alex was going to get a beer but it's $9 for a beer and they expect a tip, so I asked for tap water after waiting in a long line and the bartender said they "don't do tapwater." You have to buy a $5 10oz bottle of water instead. I asked if he was joking, but he was not. I hate Webster Hall. End of rant. The So So Glows opened, who are great, so we were happy to see them before Desaparecidos came on. It's always nice to see Brooklyn or other NYC bands play local. Sometimes it seems like there is no real "local scene" here, which is a shame. This band represents NYC the way I wish others would.
Desaparecidos were great. I am old and tired and after 2 nights in a row of standing at work and standing at shows, I was wiped out and it was hard to fully enjoy the show. I was also thinking about all the other stuff I have to do, what with a wedding to-do list a mile long and getting paperwork straightened out to register for classes in the fall, my mind was kind of elsewhere. The show was still great, and I realized I hadn't seen Connor Oberst at all since 2007 when Alex took me to see Bright Eyes in Boston for our three-year anniversary. Such nice memories. Anyway, he doesn't seem to have changed, still smarter than most people I know despite not going to college, and leading the way in the indie rock field of what would inspire a most gigantic wave of bands for at least a decade. I always equated him and Isa, maybe because they're both Omaha-based, chose their passions over school, and came out pioneers in their fields. Both very inspiring people that have shaped different sections of my life and personality.
Back to food. These are two salads from Salad Samurai, the Fiery Fruit and Quinoa Salad, and Pesto, Pea and Potato Salad. I used the pasta variation using veggies elbows made with squash and carrot. The quinoa salad has grilled peaches, my fave, grilled onions, and grilled corn with herbs and a chipotle-chia-citrus dressing. I brought these to a party the next day and both were all gone by the end. Someone asked me for the recipe of the quinoa one, and I started by saying "it's really easy, it only has..." and then I realized it has far too many components to be considered "easy" to your average person, and so I stopped listing ingredients and shoved some more quinoa in my mouth. The pesto one has toasted pine nuts too, which I managed not to burn for once.
Glamour shot of my Apple Pie Green Smoothie, my favorite from The Abundance Diet.
On Sunday I made this Pepperoni Tempeh Salad from Salad Samurai, with a tomato-y dressing that was kind of like tangy pizza sauce with balsamic vinegar, and the tempeh had a tomato/soy sauce/paprika glaze to make it taste like pepperoni. Then it's topped with croutons and kalamata olives. Overall it was wayyy too salty for me. The olives are probably responsible for the overkill but I really couldn't eat too much of it without drinking a full glass of water alongside each bite. I think I made this one before and don't remember any salty issues, so don't judge this just based on me. Maybe I should have sprung for the low sodium soy sauce and low sodium tomatoes? I am not sure.
Now here's a salad that can do no wrong. This is the Backyard Buffalo Tofu Salad with Cashew Ranch. It has croutons, romaine, slaw mix, and Buffalo Tofu. Alex doesn't like his tofu Buffaloed so I concede every time and make it BBQ for him. I'm nice. I have nothing bad to say about this salad and feel like I could go for some right now even though it's 8am.
My Italian customer brought me some beautiful heirloom tomatoes from his garden yesterday, and I knew immediately that I should make this recipe from Salad Samurai. It's just a cashew and pea puree with garlic over fresh ripe summer tomatoes dressed with some balsamic vinegar and fresh ground black pepper. I don't get tomatoes like this almost ever, so when they are gifted to me I truly appreciate it. Last year he brought me a giant haul and I made some fresh sauce, which was the best sauce I ever had. The tomatoes at my local place are always a let down, so it was such a great treat to have these huge beautiful tomatoes for a change.
For some reason I made all this food for a Monday night dinner...
More from Salad Samurai, This is the Plums Love Arugula Salad. This was great the night I made it, but the next day the plums were no good. Also the five-spice must have amplified overnight and all I could taste was star anise the next time around. I say if you don't love star anise, don't put five spice in this salad, and put something different on your almonds and in your dressing instead. Or you could make the sriracha & smoke pecans instead! I love stone fruit, you guys. Cheers to stone fruit season.
Okay this picture is from BEFORE the salad and smoothie challenge began, so everybody just CALM DOWN and look at my knishes. I was at a bookstore while visiting my hometown this summer, and of course made my way to the vegan section of the cookbook rack, and saw the 10th anniversary edition of Vegan With A Vengeance which I didn't plan to buy, since you know, I have way too many cookbooks, and I shouldn't buy another that I already own, but as I flipped the pages and saw all the new beautiful photos and re-vamped recipes, I sunk into a nostalgic state and knew this book was coming home with me. I remember making her Fettuccine Alfreda and loving it as a newbie vegan, and as I flipped through, each recipe triggered a memory of being 22 and moving to New Jersey, and beginning to cook with vigor and backbone for the first time in my life. I shed a tear, and paid the twenty-something dollars. The book had bought me.
The biggest stand-out picture for me was the knishes. I am not Jewish and have no history of sampling Jewish foods, nor do I understand what they are based on their descriptions, so was really important to have a visual for this one. I had never had a knish before so I wasn't sure I had nailed this one, but I brought a bunch of these in to my boss, a "native New Yorker", who had had knishes many times over, and he proclaimed them to be as authentic as any! Knish Success!! I'm sure Jewish food is the best food now. After all, isn't Rugelach Jewish?? Enough said.
This is Modest Mouse! We saw them at the Bandshell at Prospect Park. We've been going to summer shows there for the past few years, and each year they have someone amazing. It was also my first time seeing them live! I can't believe I hadn't before, since they've been one of my favorite bands, especially in college. It's a shame that the people who attend shows are so awful, and have no respect for any other human beings around them, but I was able to enjoy most of the show nonetheless, despite their best efforts. It's hard for me to believe that those people have anything they can identify with Modest Mouse. Enough complaining. The show was great. They have so many good songs that it would be impossible for them to play all the songs I wanted to hear. The show definitely reignited my love for them.
I went through a kale phase. I had kale in smoothies, kale in salad for lunch, and kale for dinner. For weeks. I realized it was the best salad green, what with all its texture and ability to soak up good dressings. This is the Deviled Kale Salad from Salad Samurai with added tofu. Alex loves his breaded tofu and couldn't live without it. They could have served as the crouton, but I added croutons anyway, and had the best kale salad ever.
Last, but not least, a kale-less salad from Salad Samurai, this is the Creamy Corn Salad with cashew-lime dressing. It's supposed to be like mexican street-corn in salad form. I loved it, especially since I put "half" an avocado on top of my bowl. Let's just say Alex's "half" didn't seem to measure up to mine. This had spiciness from jalapeños and creaminess from cashews. It was the best kind of salad, pretty much. It's only salad since it's cold food in a bowl, mostly made of vegetables. Still counts right??
Alright everybody, I've got 11 days left in Salad and Smoothie world and as a single woman on paper. Pretty soon I'll be eating Ethiopian food and lots of vegan cake. Hang tight, enjoy the rest of the summer and I'll see you all on the other side.