Friday Favorites

It's Friday! For a lady with no job, that doesn't mean quite the same, but I've been busy enough. We have lots of stuff going on. It's been nice to have time off; I almost wish it could last longer.

Favorite Food:


Leftover vegan cheesesteak burrito from Dos Segundos in Philadelphia. It has seitan carne asada, vegan cheese, lettuce, fried yuca, onions, and smoked mushroom ketchup. They have regular and vegan options and make really good Mexican food there.

Favorite TV Show:


We just finished watching all of Friends! It's all I've been watching for a couple months, so I may experience withdrawals. What should I watch next?

Favorite Night:

Paint Nite was a lot of fun. The lady next to us had plenty of wine so she was fun to talk to. It's crazy to see how different everyone's paintings come out. We went with a couple friends and everyone had a good time. I can't believe how much painting you can do in two hours.

Favorite Recipe:


I tried a new version of flourless chickpea peanut butter chocolate chips blondies and they were just as good as the original. It uses maple syrup instead of sugar, so I may like this one slightly better.

Have a great weekend!

My Vegan Staples

Sometimes people assume that I eat extremely healthy because I'm vegan. That's fair... if you don't know me that well.

I mean, I do all right during the week, but there are also lots of sweet potato fries and Mr. Pibb on the weekend, and cookies pretty much all the time. I only choose sweet potato fries because I think they're more delicious, not because I think they're healthier than regular fries. Although, maybe they are? A little.


So, what are some things that I eat all the time and basically cannot imagine living without?

# 1 - Avocados


I didn't like avocado between the ages of around 12-23, but I am trying to make up for all the lost time, now. Give me some toast, sliced avocado, and a sprinkle of salt.

# 2 - Chickpeas / Black Beans


I'm contributing my share to the canned bean business. I can eat these in anything. Today, I threw together a random salad of chickpeas, cranberries, strawberries, leftover tempeh bacon, and crunchy green stuff.

# 3 - Tacos

Tacos are one of my favorite things in the whole world. There's my husband and my family, my cats, and then tacos. Tacos with pineapple salsa is a little bit of heaven.

# 4 - Earth Balance


I also get crazy looks when I say I can't eat butter. Luckily, there's this thing that is basically the same as any spreadable tub of butter called Earth Balance. Tastes just the same and it is incredible. So, I can still eat toast and make cookie recipes that call for butter.

# 5 - Peanut Butter / Almond Butter


Peanut butter is the ultimate food when you are extremely hungry. When I was traveling and taking some training for work, I would come back after class and my stomach would be growling. All I wanted was chunky peanut butter; it was the weirdest thing. I hadn't had chunky peanut butter in years, but it satisfied my craving. I could eat it straight out of the jar.

I also love the Peanut Butter & Co. peanut butter's. They make a white chocolate macadamia one that is killer.

# 6 - Back to Nature Classic Creme Cookies


I used to eat Oreos when I found out they were vegan. Then, I changed over to the Trader Joe's brand - Joe Joe's, but my newest favorite are Back to Nature creme cookies. These are basically crack to me, so I have a hard time keeping them and not eating them all.

# 7 - Fried Tofu / Tofu in any form

I absolutely love fried tofu, and could basically pop them in my mouth like candy. You can dip them or cook them in any sauce. Yum. I also got some at Moe's while I was traveling and it was freaking delicious in a burrito.

# 8 - Chips and Guacamole

This could be part of the avocado thing, but I seriously love chips and guacamole. When we go to Chipotle, I look for the saltiest chips. I love them lightly cooked with a ton of salt and dipped in fresh guacamole.

# 9 - Field Roast Sausages in Apple Sage


If you want some vegan sausage, Field Roast makes the best. They are savory and can be cooked up with some potatoes or rice and veggies.

# 10 - Trader Joe's 3-Minute Rice


I'm super lazy when it comes to rice, and these also taste really good. They are frozen bags of rice that have about two servings each, and you put them in the microwave for 3 minutes, and it's cooked. I've tried the unfrozen microwave bag of rice from another brand before, but that tasted plasticy. This one tastes freshly cooked with only regular rice taste.

# 11 - Luna Bars

I know these are basically candy bars, so I don't eat them all the time, but if I need a snack to take with me, they are great. My favorite is the Chocolate Cupcake flavor..yumm.

# 12 - Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk


I always loved chocolate milk, so I was so excited when I found chocolate almond milk. I usually buy the dark chocolate flavor, and combine it with a little regular milk to make it a little lighter. I've tried the regular chocolate flavor, but for some reason I like the dark chocolate better. Also, it's perfect to dip those chocolate cookies in. Have I mentioned I love chocolate?

Should you not write posts when you are hungry? Because I was thinking about all the foods as I wrote this.

Confessions

I've got some confessions early this week. We've had a wonderful weekend of being snowed in with no place we need to be, so we've been doing lots of relaxing and enjoying it very much.

# 1 - Sometimes I find something delicious in the store, only to check the back and find that it's not vegan.

# 2 - I spray my cat with a water bottle when she wakes us up way too early in the morning.

# 3 - I found out that there won't be any new Doctor Who until the Christmas Special 2016. Fellow Doctor Who fans, please take this moment to be sad with me right now.

# 4 - I cut one of my peanut butter cookie balls in half in an effort to be healthier, and dropped the other half on the ground.

# 5 - A guy hopped onto the elliptical next to me at the gym and thought it would be a good idea to wear cologne that day. It wasn't.

# 6 - I had a minor meltdown today when I was craving a salad from a local restaurant, and we drove there only to find out that they were closed for the snow. Qdoba was had instead. Greg was very nice and dealt with my freaking out.

# 7 - Sometimes I put my purse on before my coat, and realize I am trapped in a wriggling ball of outerwear when I try to take off my purse.

# 8 - My cat often decides my towel looks better on the floor than on the towel rack, and proceeds to claw it to the ground for me.

# 9 - My family has been sending pictures of the snow they got in South Carolina and the snow men and snow angels they made. Meanwhile, I am here in Delaware with no intentions of going out, aside from our food trip earlier today.

# 10 - If I'm already crying at the preview, I'm probably not going to watch the movie. I feel like the preview is a test and if I can't get past that, how am I going to sit through the whole movie?

I'm linking up with Kathy at More Coffee, Less Talky for Confessions.

Favorite Vegan Recipes Pt 2

I've been eating vegan for almost two years, now. I wish I had the magic answer every time someone asks me how I do it. I seriously love food and try to enjoy it every bit as much as possible. That's why I like to tell people who are curious that I do tons of baking and probably eat more cookies than the average human. I have a huge sweet tooth.

I am sharing some mostly not-sweet-tooth recipes, though, because there's a huge variety of things you can cook that are vegan. Here are some of my favorites, and here are some I have previously written about.

#1 - Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese w/Broccoli and Maple Bacon Tempeh

I may be slightly biased, because we made this last night, but it is going down as one of my favorite recipes ever. We combined a couple easy recipes to make this, including vegan mac and cheese and maple bacon tempeh.

We've also made the mac and cheese by itself and it is incredibly delicious. It's my favorite vegan mac and cheese recipe, so far.

#2 - Veggie Chili and Baked Sweet Potato Fries

The weather's been cooling down quickly. Today, we've got a high of only 28 and I've definitely been craving warm, hearty foods. The bonus is that the recipe made a big batch and I still have some stashed in the freezer to eat later. I also added some veggie sausage crumbled up to make it a little meatier.

#3 - Easy Pizza with Vegan Parmesan Cheese

I have mentioned this pizza before, but I will point it out again, because it is my go-to pizza recipe and easy to make. We use it all the time! The Italian pizza dough at Trader Joe's is delicious, and you can add any toppings you like. I usually go for green and red peppers and black olives, with vegan parmesan cheese.

#4 - Maple Baked Beans and Cornbread Casserole

In the vein of warm and hearty foods, this one will definitely fill you up. It's sweet and savory and wonderful for a cold night. I'm a huge fan of cornbread and bbq, so it fills all my warm and toasty needs.

#5 - Avocado Pasta and Garlic Bread

A combination that you would not expect but goes fantastic together is avocado and pasta. It combines olive oil, basil, avocado, and garlic, and is delicious. We also grab half-baked bread from Trader Joe's to make garlic bread.

#6 - Flourless Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

This is easy to make and uses chickpeas instead of flour! You would never believe that chickpeas could make great cookie bars. I took these to Thanksgiving, and no one could tell that they had chickpeas. They're super dangerous, because I could eat the whole dish.

Have you tried any new recipes you've enjoyed, lately?

Travel Rage Confessions

I have some things I need to get off my chest this week, before Confessions day even hits.

I'm in the middle of traveling, and am FINALLY on my way back home starting tomorrow. I have had about. enough. of. this. shiz.

I like to plan things way ahead of time. Way, way ahead. So, when my traveling companions did not send me any message regarding dinner by 5 PM, I cut out and enjoyed some Moe's on my own. I was cozily back in my room by 6:30 PM. Do not mess with the food schedule.

I have been on this trip all together for about a month and half, so I'm now past the stage of 'having fun meeting strangers that I will be in class with for the next month' and on to the 'please let me never see you again' stage.


This weekend was the last straw in a basketful of straws. Traveling with people you barely know can be hit and miss, and this was totally miss.

We went to New Orleans, and I was super excited. I also seemed to be the only one out of a group of me and three gentlemen to show any excitement.


No one else volunteered to navigate us there and back, so I did that. No one had any idea where to go when they got there, so I suggested places and guided them there like a group of lost puppies.

We looked for a place to get lunch. No excitement shown about any restaurants, so I picked one I liked.

Saw awesome shops and things to look at. Barely registered.

Two of the guys were on their phones ALL the time.

I was already agitated at lunch, and THEN they tell me that they want to watch a football game for THREE FREAKING HOURS in the middle of the day in New Orleans.

I'm sorry, did we just travel to an unknown city so we could watch football???


I was hot, because I had already stated that I don't want to be there at night and NO ONE mentioned a football game until we got there. I would have kept my ass in my hotel room.

So, I decided to take myself out of the game and let them handle themselves. I literally said, "This is all you guys. I'm not navigating or picking a place."

Of course, then we wandered around looking in different places to see which ones have sports on their TV's. Most don't, because that's not really the main goal on Bourbon Street. Finally, when they were about to enter a place called Bourbon Cowboy, I had to take over  and was able to find a sports bar right away just by looking one up.

Then, they sit inside the sports bar, where you can't see anything going on on Bourbon Street, and stare at the TV. I do my best to look as pissed as possible.

Finally, one guy says, looking at me and one of the other guys, who also looked bored, "You guys don't have to stay. You can go walk around if you want."

So I said, "Yeh, I think I'm going to take a walk."

I get up, and they all watch me go without a word. This is a group of three guys and they are letting one female wander around Bourbon Street on her own. I can take care of myself, but damn, heartless.


So, I stormed off and went towards the most populated areas, since the sun was due to set in about an hour. I went back and watched a street performance near Cafe du Monde, and enjoyed myself.

I got a text from one of them an hour or so later asking if I was okay. Great, no thanks to them.

I finally came back when the game was almost over and it was almost dark, and then I had to look up somewhere for us to eat, because they are completely helpless. I feel bad for the wives, out of the two of them that are married.

I have never met such a clueless group of people in my life.


I had to drag them away from the street shows, because it was getting late and I wanted to get to the restaurant before it got packed. They had their chance to see the weird and fun sights in New Orleans and totally missed it.

We went and got dinner, thanks to my navigational skills, and when we got there, there was a short line and the restaurant was packed inside. We quickly got a table, though.

When we left, there was a line out the door. I would have totally lost it if they made us miss a good dinner, too, by arriving an hour later.


So, I've taken away from this that I never want to travel with a group of relatively unknown males again, because at least ladies often look out for each other. And traveling with people with a sense of adventure is much better.

On the bright side, I enjoyed the street show I saw, and had a delicious dinner of a virgin strawberry daiquiri and vegetable gumbo, and if I go back again, I will make sure the group I go with actually wants to have fun and not sit there like a bunch of bumps on a log.

Iceland Trip Recap

I wanted to start off this year with some travel pics from our trip to Iceland, last year. We had an absolutely fantastic time, and I have held onto the pictures for long enough that it is time I shared them.

Warning: Extremely picture heavy!

People often ask me when I tell them I went on vacation to Iceland, what made me choose there? The quickest answer is I saw pictures from someone else who had done a trip around Iceland, and I had been looking for our next adventurous vacation for a while, and I thought, "Why not?" I asked Greg about it, and he's easygoing about vacations, so he was up for it.

Our itinerary included renting a camper van and driving around the entire island of Iceland, stopping to camp and sightsee along the way. Note: I highly recommend a camper van if you decide to camp, because it would have been COLD in a tent!

There is a famous road called the Ring Road that loops around the whole island, and is mostly easily traversable in any car, although we found out that parts of it may suddenly turn into gravel and dirt roads!

The entire Ring Road length is about 828 miles, so it's best to take at the minimum 7-10 days to drive it, since there is so much to see along the way. We took 9 days total, including our travel to and from Iceland. Honestly, you could spend a lot more time there. Although after camping for 9 days, I was ready to get home to my bed and shower.

Our flight was just a hop from JFK to Reykjavik, Iceland. Philly is a closer airport to us, but we went with JFK to save some money.



Reykjavik:

Reykjavik is the capital and the busiest part of the country. It's a nice city with a couple of vegan restaurants we tried and lots of museums, but we didn't want to spend too much time there, since most of the things we wanted to do were along the Ring Road.

This was our first campsite. We were luckily not in a tent and had our camper van, and the amenities were decent, with showers and a nice cooking and cleaning area.
We walked around the city the first day and explored. This is a Lutheran church called Hallgrimskirkja. Good luck pronouncing that.

Iceland is rated at the top on the LGBT happiness index, and they have a street symbolizing pride, which I thought was cool.

 Exploring the Ring Road:

Our journey in our cozy camper van began as we set off from the city onto the Ring Road.

 Thingvellir National Park:

This is a beautiful park, which is also where Iceland's first parliament was founded. It was one of our first stops, and luckily we got there early enough that the tourist groups hadn't arrived, yet. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, even though we had to battle our way through gnats.


 Geysir:

This is actually the first geyser ever described in a printed source and the first known to modern Europeans. The word geyser comes from this geyser named Geysir!

I was amazed, because it erupts every several minutes. You can wait around for it to erupt as many times as you like. There is a crowd of people waiting, and you can sense the anticipation the more it starts bubbling.
 This is the top of the hill above the geyser.

Haafel Goat Farm:

There is a goat farm in Iceland that saved Icelandic goats from extinction. The country was nearing the last goats when the farm was started and the owners began breeding the goats again.

I met the goat from Game of Thrones!! The same goat that got picked up by Khaleesi's dragon!

Game of Thrones does a lot of filming in Iceland, and this was one of the places they used.

I don't know if I can describe how ecstatic I am to meet goats!!

They were very sweet, and would headbutt you if you stopped petting them; I want to adopt some goats.



 Continuing the Ring Road:

The view is wonderful wherever you turn.

 Our little camper van! We slept in the back of that! There's just room enough for two people to stretch out.


 Camping:

I explained a little bit about how I survived eating vegan while camping here, but it was definitely a challenge. I learned how to use a camping stove. We also learned that Iceland doesn't stock black beans in their grocery stores - where are my black beans at??

Myvatn Nature Baths:

The water in Iceland smells a little like eggs, because it is geothermal, but it doesn't smell bad and is fine once you get used to it.

There are several hot springs you can swim in, and we stopped along our way at Myvatn to take a soak.

It was extremely relaxing, like the water was giving you a warm hug and massage at the same time.



 Husavik:

Husavik is a harbor town known for fishing and whale watching. We went on our first whale watching tour on a speed boat, and it was definitely a good choice. We saw so many whales, and we got incredibly close. Our tour guide called the big tour boat the "dinosaur."

They gave us fun red suits and goggles to wear, and we even visited puffin island. We couldn't get too close, but puffins are fast and cool to watch.



Sheep:

Sheep are everywhere! We had to drive carefully, because of the sheep that were sometimes in the road. There are actually over twice as many sheep as people in Iceland.

Dettifoss:

This was my favorite waterfall in Iceland. It was unlike any waterfall I'd ever scene! It is reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe.

It was also used during the opening scene of Prometheus, which is one reason it was one of the top waterfalls on our list to see.



Camping and exploring:

After our Dettifoss trip, we made it to a campsite and I was STARVING. I ate chickpeas straight out of the can, plus some PB and apple.

We did some more hiking around after that. These mounds were built as some sort of art exhibit in the outskirts of a small town we stopped in.

We stopped at a museum where a man sold things he found and collected, like shells and skulls, and there was a dog that played fetch with an old deflated soccer ball with the visitors.


The beaches were filled with black rocks. There is a large portion of Iceland that is volcanic, so the terrain ranges from green and verdant to vast, volcanic fields.

Glacial lagoon:

You can walk right up to the glacier at Vatnajokull Glacier. It is slowly melting each year; we saw a huge chunk break off and float away right in front of us.

There are also large chunks of ice that float onto the beach.




More sheep:

I have an obsession with the sheep. They looked so adorable.

Greg asked the lady who worked at the goat farm what the deal with all the sheep wandering around was, and she told us that in the summer, all the farmers let their sheep wander, and in the winter they collect them.

I wanted a picture with the sheep, but I kept telling Greg not to get too close, because the sheep were between us and a cliff, and the last thing I wanted was to scare a bunch of sheep off a cliff.



Waterfalls:

There are countless waterfalls in Iceland. Almost anywhere you turn, you can see a waterfall tumbling down the mountains. We stopped at several of the biggest ones, like Dettifoss above, but there were so many. This one is called Skogafoss:




We definitely enjoyed our trip to Iceland, and am so happy we got to go!

Next time, our plans will hopefully involve a little bit of hotel time, because I like my amenities and would never make it on Survivor or Bear Grylls's Man vs Wild or any of those survival shows. It was totally worth it, though, and camper vanning our way through Iceland was a fantastic time.

Next trip, who knows? I am excited to plan our next adventure, wherever we decide it is.