Thursday, April 26, 2012

Vegan Confusion

I get lots of different emails from my favorite blogs and websites because I'm pretty much a food-aholic.

Hi, my name is Marisha and I have a problem.

I mean, have you seen my boards on Pinterest??? Check out my madness here.

So I get these emails and I love it when I see "vegetarian" in the subject line or the body of the message. I get excited and settle in for some real delicious goodness that is good for me.

Then I see something delicious-looking like "Asian Favorites" and think WOOHOO!! But I click and the very first recipe calls for 5 eggs. Huh?? OK, next, thinking that possibly they are just including recipes that don't include actual meat. So I find "Chicken Spring Rolls" or "Asian Chicken Noodle Soup". What. The. Heck. Really??

For those who are confused - like me - let me clarify what I found to be the definition of "vegan".

A vegan is a vegetarian. HA!! They honestly are the same thing when you get down to it. Someone who does not consume any type of animal products - milk, eggs, meat, cheese, etc. Some choose to not even wear things made from animals such as leather or feathers. I'm not one of those.

A definition from Wikipedia:
Vegetarianism encompasses the practice of following plant-based diets (fruits, vegetables, etc.), with or without the inclusion of dairy products or eggs, and with the exclusion of meat (red meat, poultry, and seafood).

See? The exclusion of meat. This being said, there are different kinds of veganism or vegetarianism.

  • Ovo vegetarianism includes eggs but not dairy products.
  • Lacto vegetarianism includes dairy products but not eggs.
  • Ovo-lacto vegetarianism (or lacto-ovo vegetarianism) includes animal/dairy products such as eggs, milk, and honey.
  • Veganism excludes all animal flesh and animal products, including milk, honey, and eggs, and may also exclude any products tested on animals, or any clothing from animals.[23]
  • Raw veganism includes only fresh and uncooked fruit, nuts, seeds, and vegetables. Vegetables can only be cooked up to a certain temperature.[24]
  • Fruitarianism permits only fruit, nuts, seeds, and other plant matter that can be gathered without harming the plant.[25]
  • Buddhist vegetarianism (also known as su vegetarianism) excludes all animal products as well as vegetables in the allium family (which have the characteristic aroma of onion and garlic): onion, garlic, scallions, leeks, or shallots.
  • Jain vegetarianism includes dairy but excludes eggs and honey, as well as root vegetables.
 There is also:
  • pescetarianism, which includes fish and some other forms of seafood;
  • pollotarianism, which includes poultry;
  • "pollo-pescetarian", which includes poultry and fish, or "white meat" only;
But these are not categorized as types of "vegetarianism". 
(Note - I copied this from Wikipedia)

People, I did my research before starting my new lifestyle and for the most part I think I understand it. I find myself on the fence, sometimes, about certain things or have questions about other things. But for the most part I get it. I get the recipes that include eggs or cheese or honey. But CHICKEN?? Or another one that used steak? How in the world can these possibly be classified as any kind of "vegetarian"? They have meat for goodness sake. And personally, when I'm in full-on vegan mode I don't even want to see meat - not even read about it.

I see these recipes and think "they have it all wrong". But what bothers me the most is I find it misleading to the non-vegetarian majority. These recipes do not represent true vegetarianism and that is aggravating. While tempeh and tofu may not seem appetizing to most people or the thought of my veggie riblets or garden burger might make YOU feel uneasy - I want to hear about it!! Thankfully I DO subscribe to several blogs that are totally and completely vegan and I know when I'm "clicking" I will get what I came for!

So here you go - good vegan food. Heck, you might learn something!!

Peas and Thank You
Healthy. Happy. Life.

These are a few I read regularly but there are so many wonderful people out there sharing their vegan love. Check them out!

Hugs & kisses....

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Chocolate fixes everything!

Weekends. They absolutely do not last long enough. Or come often enough.

This past weekend was great so it somewhat made up for the general lack of weekend time lately.

Lots of beautiful weather. Lots of yummy food. Lots of time with my fabulous husband.

And chocolate cupcakes. Heck yeah. What more could a girl want?

Shoes....obviously....or precious jewels....but let's be realistic.

Preston and I had our first date in Gruene, Texas several years ago. We spent the day walking around little shops and then drank a beer at Gruene Hall and listened to some good ol' country music. Gruene Hall is Texas' oldest dance hall. Not sure if anyone else remembers but this is where the scene from "Michael" was filmed where John Travolta danced. Good movie.

Saturday was also "Market Days" in Gruene so there were extra things to see.

We ate lunch at The Gristmill, I love this restaurant!!

Just a note: the restaurant is huge, right on the rive and the food is great. But the wait to get a table can be LONG. We got there at just the right time and were seated immediately. They do have a great little bar and outside area to wait but don't wait until you're starving to get a table.

We started out with one of their homemade salsas, the Garlicky Salsa, and amazing tortilla chips. Sadly I didn't take a picture. I think we ate them too fast.

Preston had the Beef Tenderloin Sandwich with a side of fries...YUM.

As he was eating there was so much meat that it was falling out of the bun. Can't beat that! I was really trying to stay true to eating well so I chose the Spinach Salad - it usually comes with chicken but I ordered it without - it did NOT disappoint.

This salad was HUGE. And delicious. Lots of fresh baby spinach, Greek olives, red bell pepper, bacon crumbles and feta cheese - all topped with a creamy vinaigrette. I couldn't finish it. I will admit that next time I will order it without the bacon. That's just me though.

We meandered through the shops and Market Days tents and then headed home late in the afternoon. It was a wonderful day!!

Sunday, after church, we ended up at Red Robin. I remembered that they have a Boca Burger and a Garden Veggie Burger on their menu so I wanted to test it out.

The simplest way for me was to build my own. I chose the Gardenburger on marbled rye bread, pickles, tomatoes and avocado. It was good. I was happy and since this is one of Preston's favorite places to eat, well let's just say he can still eat his Royal Red Robin.

Now let's talk cupcakes.

Chocoate. Vegan. Cupcakes.


I found the original recipe on Pinterest and I was excited to find a vegan chocolate recipe. I have several cookbooks saved on my Wishlist on and a few of them are vegan baking books but this saved waiting for someone to buy one of them for me! I halved the recipe and added to the frosting to get my cupcakes. I also made slight changes to the original recipe.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes - makes 2 dozen

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 3/4 cup almond milk
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 2/3 cup coconut sugar (or regular)
1 1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Put all of the dry ingredients in a bowl (except the sugar).

Sift the ingredients twice.
Whisk the wet ingredients with the sugar. The original recipe calls for "superfine" sugar. The coconut sugar is a little heavier so running it through the food processor might be a good idea for next time. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Fill the cupcake cups.
Bake at 315 for 18 to 20 minutes.
While the cupcakes are cooling let's make frosting. Oh how I LOVE frosting.

Dark Chocolate Vegan Frosting

This makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes - generously. I would definitely at least double up if making 2 dozen.

1 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco)
2 cups powdered sugar
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled
1/4 cup almond milk

Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe dish. Set aside to cool.
Cream the shortening and sugar together.
Add the cooled chocolate. Add milk gradually until you reach the desired consistency.

So a few notes:

I used coconut sugar.
Little Sister gave this to me a few weeks ago but I finally found it at my local HEB. Note to everyone - it isn't cheap and the package is small. You use it just like regular sugar BUT it is low on the glycemic index. For those who don't know what that means - it means it's better for diabetics. Not that it gives us open season on sugar but it releases slower into the blood stream which helps my blood sugar to not spike so quickly and so high. Excellent. You could use regular sugar in this recipe but I need to test using Splenda and the Splenda/Sugar combination. 

This is the chocolate I used.

I'm not using vegan chocolate chips BUT because of the higher Cacao percentage on these chips it is better than using milk chocolate.I read the label and although milk is not listed as an ingredient the label warns that these are made on a machine that comes into contact with milk - so there might be a little. I know it's just a warning but for some that's important!

These cupcakes were YUMMY. For my diabetic friends - these are NOT sugar free so don't pretend they are. La la la....why is my blood sugar 185??? Powdered sugar. Frosting is not my friend but I love it. They were pronounced good by all but I found them slightly dry. Might be I baked them a bit too long or maybe they need a little more moisture in the mix. I will play some more when I make them again.

A great end to a fabulous weekend. More good things on the menu this week so stay tuned!!!

Hugs & kisses.....

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Frittering about.....fritters

I'm thinking I should just go ahead and dub this week the "Hormone Week from Hell". Really.

I'm feeling quite psychotic yet peaceful at times. Blissful for me - not so much for those around me.

I know myself when I'm like this. I have learned after years of having "crazy" time to stay away from others. When I'm like this, let's face it, I don't play well. Unless I like you. Then you're relatively safe. 

Relatively. Not completely.

I had the "crazy" under control for all of those glorious years when birth control helped to balance my hormone levels. Since my heart attack - no HORMONES. So I'm psychotic. Poor Preston. He met me when I was still my sweet little self and has watched me develop into a maniac over the past year and a half as the extra (balancing) hormones have seeped from my system. So for about a 24 - 72 hour period I become irrational, unapproachable and my tolerance for stupidity goes WAY down. Yay. 

Last month wasn't too bad. I only lost it briefly but once I had a meltdown I quickly recovered and everything was bunnies and jelly beans. Literally. 

But this time out world. 

But onto fritters....they are so lovely.

They bring me so much joy.

Preston pronounced them "OK" but I disagree. Try them for yourself and see!! The original recipe can be found here but mine includes more pictures. I honestly think you could use yellow squash or even those pretty, multicolored sunburst squash when they are available. YUM!!!

Zucchini Fritters

2 small zucchini
2 teaspoons salt
4 scallions, minced (finely chopped)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped from dill (or 2 TB dried)
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup flour

Grate the zucchini over a small colander. Sprinkle with the 2 teaspoons of salt and mix together. Allow to sit in the sink for 10 minutes.

I think the salt helps to pull all of the moisture out of the squash. Squeeze the liquid out of the zucchini - I was surprised how much there was!!! Place your squash in a small mixing bowl.

Add the scallions, parsley, dill, egg, Parmesan and flour. Mix very well.


Place a skillet over medium heat and heat olive oil. Form the squash into small patties and place in the skillet.

Cook on both sides for 3 to 4 minutes.

Serve warm (and delicious!!).

Just a note: last night I made just enough for myself and used 1 zucchini and the egg white. I'm working on something to use as an alternative to the egg and Parmesan and will update you when I figure it out! I also think adding a little cayenne and cutting the dill would make them even more lovely.

Hugs & kisses....

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

From the heart....or about it really....

Just to let you know, before you start, today's post doesn't contain any cute puppy or kitty pictures, no food references and is just me being serious and sharing my heart.

I have been reading a LOT lately about other women's struggles with heart disease. And consequently thinking a lot about my own. Add to that how I really feel about being diabetic and it makes for a lot to think about. For anyone. And please, before anyone tells me to let God carry everything, I try that - every day. Some days it is easy and I lean on Him like I'm supposed to. Other days the problem is all mine and I carry it the best that I can. So please don't judge.

October 19, 2010. A day that is forever etched in my mind. I can almost relive every moment, see people's faces and hear their voices. Can it really be that in 2 days it will be 1 1/2 years behind me? Sometimes it feels like it was yesterday. Honestly. There are moments when the pain and absolute terror wash over me like it is happening all over again. I suddenly can't breath or feel a pain in my chest or have strange feelings in my arm and wonder is this it?? Is it happening again? And will this be the "big one"? There are times when I feel overwhelmed and all alone, like no one truly understands my fears and doubts. I have become quite adept at acting like everything is great and I have moved on in my life when I really want to run and hide or simply stay in bed and sleep. There are days that I do. There are times I use words like "defective" or "burden" when I talk about myself and I mean them. Sometimes that is how I see myself. Thankfully the brighter and happier days outnumber the dark and ominous days. I am so thankful for that. 

I can never fully explain to anyone how I feel. Or the ever present fear I carry with me. I try but the words don't form or the tears start to and I give up. I carry it all inside. I remember a doctor telling me that at some point in my future I will have another incident. I could be 45 or 80. I know that at some point I will have the scar on my chest and the painful reminder of bypass surgery. It makes me angry and scares me at the same time. But it will happen. I am somewhat in control of when that might happen by talking to my doctors, taking my pills and watching my diet - by fighting and not giving up. That gives me SOME control. But the human body is an intricate and complicated creation and I have no way of knowing what will or will not cause my next "event". Or when it will be. Therein lies the fear.

Don't get me wrong. I do NOT live every day fearing what might happen. I have never been the fearful girl who was afraid to stay at home alone or live alone or the one that doesn't try new things. On the contrary I live my life like it is a second chance. That every day is a blessing to be thankful for. Actually, every moment. I look around me daily and am reminded that the small things are just that - small things. Why waste a precious moment being impatient because I'm standing in line? Or waste a thought on the driver who cuts me off on the way to work in the morning? I do, however, get impatient with cruelty, bullying and ignorance. Those things just don't make sense to me in any circumstance and I will never understand them. I look for the smiles and the joy that life brings and cling to them. Those moments when everything is quiet and the world actually seems at peace.  They don't seem to happen as often as I would like but I enjoy each one. 

There seems to be a constant battle raging around me and it is all mine. No one can fight it for me. Like bombs, there are little reminders that pop up throughout my days - and even wake me at night. Only last week I woke up screaming. Silent screams because my breath wouldn't come - but in my head they were loud and I kept wondering why no one was responding. Scary. Every time they draw blood I quietly panic and fight back tears but I also think about the wonderful ER nurse who held my hand while I trembled every time they stuck me with another needle. I hear an ambulance and I remember being scared and feeling helpless but I remember the EMT who spoke to me gently and stayed with me when I had to leave Preston behind. I hear someone talking about the "cath lab" and suddenly my body feels cold and I feel alone until I think about the nurses who talked to me and covered me with blankets and brushed my tears away. Scrambled eggs remind me of ICU and trying to eat while lying flat on my back, unable to move for 6 hours and of the sweetest nurse who hand fed me pieces of egg and tortilla and then patiently spooned oatmeal into my mouth. A pink blanket that lies folded on the couch is a reminder of the calm and gentle way Preston got me to the car and then drove me to the ER and saved my life. Little reminders....everywhere.

I would very much like to be able to pack my feelings away in a nice, neat box and put them on the shelf in the closet and forget about them. But I don't work that way. Yes, I'm thankful to be alive. Yes, I have a second chance. Yes, I'm lucky or blessed or whatever word you choose to use. But it still sucks and I struggle. It sucks to have to be very vigilant regarding my health, never truly getting a rest from it. If it isn't my heart then I'm worried about my diabetes. Or my cholesterol. Or my weight. Or my headaches. Something is always there and often one leads into another and it becomes a vicious cycle. And at some point they will start to pile on top of each other and I won't be able to face them one at a time. Or something else will happen. It's a battle of medications and trying to maintain a balance with everything. For the first time since right after my heart attack my blood sugar is back under control. My A1C is almost normal. But now my blood pressure is slightly elevated and my heart rate is too high. So for a moment there is relief and then fear sets back in and brings its friend frustration and I start over. I wait for the day when I'm whole again but I know that means leaving this earth and I'm not ready for that right now. 

Before anyone yells "pity party", stop. That is not what this is. I'm not asking for pity or sympathy. It is simply me carefully thinking through how I feel in this moment about my current set of circumstances. It is an expression of true, heartfelt emotions that are sometimes raw and just beneath the surface. This is a way for me to express what I feel in a way that I hope will reach out there and touch someone who might be facing some illness that feels like an albatross around their neck. I have read different posts by so many women who are feeling the same way - and feeling that their doctors simply pat them on the head and send them along their way or throw another pill into the mix. True. No one says "hey, you're out of the hospital but the mental crap is only beginning". Nope. Often not even a warning it just appears. I don't want another "pill" to fix this - I want to get rid of some pills actually. And sometimes writing and feeling a connection with one other person might be the momentary "fix" that I need.

So I write. I pray. I hope. I cry. I scream. I fight. I persevere. I live another day.

Hugs &  kisses....

Monday, April 16, 2012

Craving Burgers....

Hunger Games anyone??

I'm almost finished with Mockingjay, Book 3 in the trilogy. I have devoured (ha!) all three books. I love love LOVE them. I probably annoy Preston when I suddenly yell "NO!!" when someone dies or make little sounds of frustration when something happens that I don't like. I can't help myself!!

By the way....George (our crazy Russian Blue cat) has asked to be called "Cat"niss Everdeen from now on. Yes, she asked. What??? Don't your animals talk to you?

Sunday lunch was at one of my favorite places - Freebirds World Burrito. This place brings back happy college memories for me and also provides great atmosphere and yummy food. Preston and I already enjoyed eating there but since I decided to eat vegan it has become a favorite Sunday lunch place because we can both eat exactly like we want.

Preston can have meat. He loves their nachos - I do too but since I steer clear of cheese most of the time they aren't a good choice for me.

 I opt for the "Burrito in a Bowl" option - minus the tortilla, meat and cheese.
Super yummy cilantro rice topped with black beans, sauteed onions and peppers, lettuce, pico, corn relish and avocado. I top it with a good dose of the their "mild sauce" and am always stuffed and left feeling healthy. I will admit that I sometimes gaze longingly at Preston's queso and feel pangs of desire. Oh well.

I found this beauty outside of the restaurant.

I love South Texas.

Confession: I have been remiss lately about planning our meals for the week. This is something that makes me feel SO much less stressed on a daily basis. I will admit (sadly) that I have focused so much more on my own meals lately - poor Preston. I feel awful about it. So I planned a yummy one for him on Sunday. Hamburgers!!

Oh wait, I'm vegan. What the heck???

Of course there are alternatives - of COURSE! I planned on making these Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers that I found (and pinned) but I honestly just wasn't feeling like I wanted to make the effort. And I have "veggie" patties in the refrigerator that I bought a few weeks ago at Costco - but didn't want those either. I found Preston a  very yummy looking "Cowboy Burger" at the meat counter - complete with bacon and cheese inside. So I wandered the aisles trying to decide what to do for myself. I knew I wanted sweet potato fries (YUMMMMM) and found these.

Not only are these ALWAYS delicious but these are new to my store. Crinkle cut AND seasoned with sea salt and pepper. Glorious! AND there was a $2 coupon for....

I saw these when I was looking at the frozen vegan choices but they seemed pricey so I moved on. But $2 off! Made it worth a try for me AND I wasn't going to be left out of the burger deliciousness. I was pleasantly surprised. They reminded me of a turkey burger. Preston declared that it looked dry (after he grilled it) but it was moist enough to make me SO happy. I cheated and added a piece of cheese to my burger but I felt absolutely NO guilt about it.

I bought us both whole grain rolls (mine was more grainy), I used fresh tomatoes and avocado on mine PLUS Soy Free Vegenaise from Follow Your Heart. Little Sister bought this for me to try and OMG. I loved it!! Preston even tried it and said it "tastes just like the real thing". That's a HUGE compliment in my opinion.

Dinner was delicious and I think I made peace with myself about somewhat ignoring my wonderful husband's food needs. I have several yummy meals planned for him this week too.

Question: Who wears this shirt and then chooses to curl up on Daddy's lap???
Oh, that's right Shiner. Probably only because Mommy MADE him wear the shirt and so he runs to Dad.

Whatever. He knows who feeds him.

Hugs & kisses....

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Blog withdrawal...

So I feel like a horrible person. Sigh. I haven't blogged in WAY too long. How is it that life really gets in the way sometimes??? I mean seriously.

I'm super swamped at work. I feel even more swamped at home. Life is just overwhelming.

So when life gets overwhelming what is a girl to do???



So here is a recap (including some pictures) of the last week or so.....

After finally recovering from the dreaded pink eye I went back to work. Apparently Shiner was NOT happy about this and took it upon himself to.......

...chew up make FAVORITE new shoes. That I had worn once. Yeah. I was mad. And he knew it. Preston said "buy another pair" but of course when I got online it read "Not available in Size 9". Sadness. Panic. Frustration.

Even after checking with the local store - NONE. While we were out shopping on Saturday we found another store....SCORE!! They actually had 2 pair in my size. Thank you Shoe Fairy.

After my visit from the Shoe Fairy we decided we were hungry. Well, I was hungry. Ha.

We picked Brio Tuscan Grille

Because we were celebrating Preston's birthday I wasn't "vegan" for the day.  We started with the "Calamari Fritto Misto". Not only the did it have calamari but peperoncini as well. It came with marinara sauce and horseradish sauce. YUM!!

So even though I decided to go not vegan I didn't want to eat just whatever. I wanted a salad - every one that passed by looked crisp and fresh. So I decided on the the Pranzo Flatbread and Insalata. 

I have a confession. I am a sucker for wedge salads. I'm not sure why a big piece of iceburg lettuce makes me SO happy - but it does. So I chose the Bistecca Insalata - a wedge of lettuce, Gorgonzola, bacon, Roma tomatoes and creamy Parmesan dressing. When they brought it there was a huge knife wedged in it. Awesome.

For my flatbread I chose the Margherita Flatbread. I LOVE fresh Mozzarella. Cheese has been the only thing that I really miss since going vegan so I thought I would enjoy it! Mmmmm.....fresh Mozzarella, vine-ripened tomatoes and fresh basil.....

 Doesn't look like a Margherita Flatbread does it??

Nope. It was Sausage, Pepperoni & Ricotta flatbread. UGH. I know it looks delicious but it was not what I wanted. I would have sent it back but I was already bordering of full from the calamari so I cleaned the salad side of the plate (I probably would have licked the plate - it was that good) and took the flatbread home. (Preston's lunch on Monday!)

We had a great weekend celebrating Preston's birthday. He has been wanting exotic western boots for a while so I helped him get these.

I love that man. Truly. Madly. Deeply. The last few weeks have been rough at times and overwhelmingly stressful but I have had Preston by my side and he keeps me going. I can honestly say he was surprised which made me SO happy.

More blogging to come!!

Hugs & kisses....