Sunday, February 27, 2011

AFR Love: Sushi Roll Edamame Salad!

If you have Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, make this salad!  It's rocking my world right now!  It has all of the components of sushi without having to make sushi.  I double up on the nori sheets to give it more of a sushi taste.  Also, I owe it to this salad for making me realize that avocado is not as high in Weight Watchers points as what I thought.  The key is to measure the avocado out on the food scale.  It's really very reasonable to eat 1/4 of an avocado and even 1/2 of one. 

There are two of us at my house and the salad dressing made enough for 4 servings so what we did is made the salad twice in one week since we had the dressing all ready to go.  It's my current favorite recipe from the cookbook!  We also made the Red Velvet Mole this past week and it was delicious as well.  I did a post awhile back on some of the other recipes I have made from the book so far.  

If you haven't already, buy this cookbook (especially if you are a vegan trying to cook healthy)!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Kale Smoothie Revisited

When we got back from Hawaii I was inspired by the kale smoothie that I got at Sweet Home Waimanalo.  I had always been afraid of the green smoothie.  But after I tried it there, I was an instant convert.  As soon as I got home, I decided to make my own.  The woman at Sweet Home Waimanalo was gracious enough to tell me that she used about 2 handfuls of cut up kale so I had a pretty good idea of how much kale to use when I made my own.  Now that I have been making these for over 2 months now, I have just modified a thing or two and have learned some do's and don'ts of the kale smoothie.  Here's my original kale smoothie post.

I have started adding a bit of vanilla extract to the smoothie for a little added flavor.  I use the original unsweetened almond milk in it but if I used the unsweetened vanilla flavor, I probably wouldn't add the vanilla extract.  I also use a packet of Truvia to give it a little more sweetness although it's really not completely necessary.  It would be fine just as it is, I just like a little more sweetness.  All kinds of lighter color fruits are perfect for the smoothie: bananas, strawberries, pineapple, peaches, mango, etc.  Also, I continue to blend up the kale with 1/2 of the almond milk first.  You want to make sure the kale is completely blended up so you don't end of with chunks of it in the final product.  That would be kind of off putting!  

The main thing I have discovered NOT to do is add dark fruit like blueberries.  It makes the smoothie look  completely unappealing (I have not taken a picture of it with blueberries).  It looks like toxic sludge with darker fruits added in.  If you want your food to be pretty and aesthetically appealing, DON'T add blueberries!  :)  I will add them sometimes but I haven't recently because I realized the smoothie wasn't as enjoyable when it's not appealing.  

I think it's beautiful in the pictures above!  I love the bright, vibrant green color!  I know some people might be grossed out by this.  (I posted a picture on my Facebook page and within one minute someone already posted how it looked like green paint and looked gross!)  But that's not how I feel, which I guess, is all that matters!  

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Books for Frugal Vegans

(Photo Source:

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about participating in the "No Buy Month" challenge.  So far, so good!  I have been utilizing the library A LOT lately!  One book I am currently reading and loving is John Robbins's The New Good Life.  It's a great book about living with less but not feeling deprived.  I haven't finished reading it yet, but so far I am really enjoying it. 

(Photo source:

Vegan on the Cheap is great cookbook that focuses on inexpensive ingredients.  I have cooked a few recipes out of it, and I have really liked what I have tried.  There's also a comprehensive section at the beginning about different ways to save money on groceries.

(Photo source: VRG)

I haven't made a lot from this cookbook, but Supermarket Vegan is another cookbook that uses easy to find, inexpensive ingredients you can find at most grocery stores.  I have made one recipe that was tasty and I have made a list of others to make, I just haven't gotten around to it yet.

I am always on the lookout for new vegan books that will help me be frugal.  There are also lots of blogs and online articles out there that tackle the subject.  These are just a few of the books I have.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New Food Finds-Part 3

Every now and then, I try to post some new food products that I am eating.  I started thinking about it this time, and I really am not eating a lot of “products” these days.  That’s a good thing!  That means that I am eating a lot more whole, unprocessed foods.  I really just wanted to be able to talk about the Ole Xtreme Wellness tortillas but I felt like maybe I should mention some other products too!  I have also put together lists other lists over the past year.  You can find them here and here. 

Tofu Shirataki Noodles-I was so hesitant about these noodles for the longest time.  It seemed like I only heard really negative things about them.  But finally I decided to give them a try (and make this recipe) and I love them!  I follow Hungry Girl's directions to wash them very thoroughly and then place them between two towels to get out all of the liquid.  I have done this two times now and it's worked like a charm.  I would give them a try if you are open to trying out new foods.  The nutritional information will knock your socks off!

Nature’s Own 9 Grain 35 calorie/slice bread--This bread is only 1 point per slice on the new Weight Watchers program so that's quite a "bargain."  Most foods higher in carbs really went up in points.  So being able to have a decent bread that is not too high in points is pretty hard to find.  I like this bread because it has whole grains in it.  It's not the best bread you will ever try in your whole life, but it's great for toast and even french toast

Almond Breeze Unsweetened Almond Milk (Original, Vanilla, and Chocolate)--I really like all of these varieites.  Just make sure to buy the unsweetened kind if you want to get the kind with the lowest calories.  All of the boxes look pretty similar, so be careful!  I buy the kind in the refrigerated section most of the time but the other day I bought the chocolate kind on the shelves because that was all they had.  I just add a packet of Truvia if I want the taste of sweetness in my milk.  Otherwise, it's good as is.  I have used it for smoothies, cereal, oatmeal and chocolate oatmeal and just anything else that calls for milk.  The unsweetened original kind is really the most versatile but all of the varieties are great to have on hand.

Tortillas-Ole Extreme Wellness--This is such a good find for those you doing Weight Watchers!  These tortillas are a very good size and they are only 1 point per tortilla.  When I have done the math, they still stay at just a point a piece when you have two rather than going up to 3 or 4 like so many foods do sometimes,  Make sure to get the High Fiber Low Carb variety though because the other kinds are 2 points a piece.  Not that 2 points is bad, but I would rather not waste my points when there's a kind with just 1 point! 

Reduced Fat Vegenaise--This is the only reduced or low fat vegan mayonaise that I have liked.  I have tried several on the market and some of them will work in a pinch, but this is the only one I truly like.  It tastes just like the full fat variety of Vegenaise.  I love the taste of it and it's great to use in vegan ranch dressing or on a Tempeh Tomato Vegenaise sandwich.  It's harder to find though.  Whenever I find it, I make sure to buy some because they don't have it at my local health food store or anywhere around me.

Dandies Vegan Marshmallows--Okay,so vegan marshmallows are a bit of a splurge-definitely not a food to help me with my weight loss journey.  But it's so exciting to have marshmallows that taste just like the marshmallows I always remember!  As far as points go, when you are garnishing them on hot cocoa or for something like that, the points really are not bad.  You can have 28 grams for 2 points.  I measure them out on the food scale.  These should be very exciting for vegetarians too because marshmallows are not only NOT vegan but they are NOT vegetarian either. 
Zevia soda--Zevia is kind of a financial splurge but it's really nice to have sometimes.  We will sometimes buy a can every 2 weeks or so as a treat.  We rarely buy a 6 pack of it because we don't want to get in the habit of spending a lot of money on soda.  It adds up fast when you drink a can (or more a day).  But Zevia is great!  It's sweetened with Stevia and it doesn't have all of the artificial junk that other diet sodas have.  It comes in several different varieties but my favorites are the Dr. Zevia and the Cola kind.  I like to keep it simple!  If you do drink a lot of soda, you can find it a little cheaper on Amazon with the Amazon Subscribe and Save option

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

2011 Goals Collage is complete!

I finally completed my 2011 Goals/Resolutions collage!  I worked on it for several weeks before I completed it.  I finished it a couple of weeks ago but haven't gotten around to sharing it.  Since we are now into the second week of February, I will revisit my goals/resolutions to see how I’m doing.   

Goal 1:  To run a 5k (hopefully for an animal organization).--I feel like I am making progress here but it's limited.  I don't have a gym membership, so I only run outside.  I also try to run on relatively flat ground, so that means I have to drive about 15-20 minutes to the place that I run.  I have jogged the past 2 Sundays because the weather has been nice enough to, but that's been it.  As soon as the weather gets nicer, I will incorporate more runs into my workouts.  Running a 5k will probably be something I try to complete during the summer. 

Goal 2:  Blog more (at least once a week).  Yay!!  I have been keeping up with this.  Most weeks, I have been blogging about twice.  This week has been a little busier so it's been just once.  However, I am keeping up with my "at least once a week" goal!

Goal 3:  Learn to use my new camera--I have been working on it!  I feel like there's so much to learn but I have been learning a little at a time.  I really want to take a photography class, but just not right now. 

Goal 4:  Incorporate more upper body workouts (at least 2-3 times a week).  Yay!!  I have been doing this too!  I do upper body workouts at least twice a week.  I feel like I am getting a little more toned and making some progress in this area!

How are you doing on your New Year's goals/resolutions?  I would love to hear about it!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

February is the "No Buy Month" Challenge!

(Photo source: The Frugalista)

A few years ago I was driving down the road listening to NPR and got inspired by Natalie McNeal—also known as “The Frugalista.”  She was talking about how the idea of “No Buy Month” started out as a news story or an experiment that she would do and then write about it during the month.  What she discovered was that she saved $400 the first time she did it!  That’s a substantial savings in one month’s time!  This was around the time we were thinking about buying a house and we knew we would have to really start budgeting our money in order for that to happen.  So, while I was listening to “The Frugalista” on NPR that day, I decided to take charge of our finances and stop senseless and unnecessary spending. 

I got inspired by being frugal!  I decided to look at where our money was going and how to shop and spend money responsibly.  I attribute this one day and this one NPR story to a lot of changes I made about spending money.  That was really when I started buying clothes at Goodwill.  I RARELY spend money on clothes at stores other than thrift stores anymore.  This is actually for a couple of reasons—reason #1 is that it saves me money.  Reason #2 is that it’s good for the environment b/c I am recycling and reason #3 is that I am not supporting sweat shops by purchasing my clothes this way.  It’s a win-win-win scenario!  However, after I started losing weight, I did start to slack off a bit.  Instead of always going to a thrift shop, I did start to go to stores like Target because I wanted to be able to try on clothes and buy new clothes in a smaller size.  I don’t do this often and I don’t feel guilty about going into Target and being able to fit into and buy a pair of size 10 jeans!  Granted, I could have done the same thing at Goodwill, but I was near a Target and it was convenient for me that day. 

When I first heard about the Frugalista that day, we already had a trip planned to NYC for the summer.  We had paid for the airplane tickets and where we were staying.  This trip was actually a bargain.  I also don’t regret spending money on travel because it’s one of my greatest joys in life.  I LOVE to travel and I would rather go without a lot of “things” to be able to spend more money on traveling.  Anyway, as I started reading the Frugalista’s blog, she talked about finding free things to do on vacation or when you are in a different city.  She also had a trip planned to NYC and decided to find all of the free and fabulous things you could do there.  There are so many!  I also did some research on this and found a lot of great things we were able to do.  Many museums have discounts and even free days.  We went to the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art for FREE!  Yes, it was crowded, but isn’t all of NYC?!  J  I can handle a few more people to be able to get in for free!  We also did a lot of walking and using the Subway instead of taking cabs.  We saw so much of the city this way and we got a lot of exercise.  It really was an inexpensive GREAT trip and part of that was because I was so inspired by the Frugalista’s blog. 

We were able to buy a house that summer and slowly but surely, I got back into my old ways of buying too many books on Amazon and making too many senseless purchases.  But lately, I am really trying to focus again on making smart financial choices.  That is why I am taking part in the “No Buy Month” challenge.  Here’s what it will include:

-I will still buy groceries but I will work to be as frugal as possible with what I buy at the grocery store. (I plan to blog a lot more about this very soon!)

-No dining out

-No paying for entertainment

-No ordering books on Amazon (especially vegan cookbooks!)

-No shopping for clothes, shoes, kitchen gadgets, etc. (Basically, the necessities are it-that’s all I can spend money on.)

-No spending money on Valentine’s Day-we are going to figure out how to celebrate without spending any money.

-We will still pay our bills (of course). 

There are a few exceptions to the “No Buy Month” challenge:
-We are going to pay $5 a piece to see Forks Over Knives (the $5 also includes vegan dessert and tea)
-R will get her car stereo installed that she got for her birthday.
-I have a hair appt. that’s been scheduled for a long time that’s at the end of February-I may keep it and not reschedule since I have had it planned since before the “No Buy Month" Challenge.  We will see. 

So, that’s basically it in a nutshell.  How can we be frugal and fabulous?  How can we not spend money but still have a good time and not miss out on things?  That’s what February is going to be all about!