Some Bad Yogi Love

Maybe you’ve been there.

You cue up an online yoga video, roll out your mat, and clear away the coffee table, floor plant and drying rack so you have room to stretch out.  Then, sitting comfortably in the middle of your mat, you click on that little arrow button in the middle of the black video screen and wait for your fun, invigorating session to begin …

…only to shut it off three breaths into downward dog because the yoga instructor is the most irritating person you’ve ever had the displeasure of listening to.

It happens.  A lot.  The instructors layer soothing, calming music over their recorded practice – which is great.  At least until their drifty, breathy voice and recurring “snnnniiffff, ahhhhhh” noises make you want to throw your yoga block through the screen of your laptop and the only thing stopping you is your lack of funds for a replacement macbook.

I’ve been there.  I absolutely adore yoga.  I love me some Celtic flute and deep breathing.  But so help me goddess, when a video instructor is forcing the mood on me, oblivious to my own desires for the practice, or the day, sometimes I want to scream.  That’s not very yogi, right?

So what do you do? If you’re like me and you can’t afford a membership at a yoga studio past the cheap introductory month, it can get pretty frustrating.  I want a practice that I can make my own – with instruction, maybe a bit of background on why the specific poses are helpful and … that’s it!  Don’t recite Chinese proverbs at me or worse, recite Chinese proverbs under the guise of your own, remarkably life-affirming words.

Just teach me, damnit!

Don’t get me wrong.  There’s a time and a place for deep relaxation, for a spiritually purifying, ritualistic practice that leaves you feeling otherworldly and firm in your desire to help everyone, everywhere, today.

But that time and place isn’t Tuesday morning before class, when I just want to stretch out my tight hips.

Enter Erin Motz.

Perhaps better known as the “Bad Yogi,” Erin is a self-professed carnivore, wine-lover and cheese-feaster.  And she feels no shame about it.

As Erin writes so astutely, being a bad yogi isn’t about purposefully doing the things that “real” yogis don’t do.  It’s about doing what you want.  And doing yoga.

I loved Erin’s videos and blogs from the first vinyasa  flow, but I didn’t think I really fit with the bad yogi creed.  I mean, I’m Vegan.  That’s one of those big things that yogis tend to push.  And that’s when I figured it out.

It’s the lack of that very push that makes me a Bad Yogi.  I don’t expect everyone else to be Vegan.  I don’t have a real opinion on what the best yoga style is (overlooking my post on Bikram…).  I definitely don’t do yoga to be cool; most of the people I know don’t think it is!

Erin wants everyone to do yoga.  But for themselves, not for the glory or the ability to fall over into wheel from a standing position in the middle of a crowded street just to wow onlookers.

And I love her for it.

So what are you sitting here finishing this post for? Get on over to Erin’s blog and fall in love.

Just don’t stalk her, ok?  That’s creepy and besides, only one of us can fit in the bushes.

Cheers!

Lou*

Oh, Erin’s on Facebook too, guys.  Also, she has this neato Kickstarter project in the works.

Breakfast Bloggin’

If you’re anything like me, the obligatory bagel with peanut butter doesn’t always appeal.

It’s delicious, it’s easy and filling, but some days I just need something new and exciting!

Something that smells like chocolate…and has a bit of a crunch…

Chocolate Trail Mix Oatmeal

  • ½ cup oats (quick is fine, but I prefer regular because they don’t get as soggy)
  • ¾ – 1 cup almond milk
  • Handful chopped walnuts
  • Handful chopped pecans
  • Handful raisins or dried cranberries
  • Cocoa powder or a handful of cacao nibs
  • 1 T chia seed
  • 1 T ground flax*
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)

IMG_2268

Mix it all together, and toss in the microwave for about 3 minutes.  The stove also works perfectly well, but I’m in a “reducing dirty dishes” mindset these days.IMG_2270

*Speaking of flax, did you know that our bodies can’t break down the seed as well as ground flax?  Unless you chew them – and let’s face it, between showering, yoga and hair styling on Monday morning, who has time to concentrate on chewing flax seeds? – your body won’t benefit from their goodness. 

Definitely opt for ground flax, but note that it does spoil.  If you have a coffee/spice grinder you can make your own from seeds.  Otherwise, keep the ground flax in the freezer.

The beauty of this meal is that you can toss in whatever you have on hand.  Throw on a sliced apple or banana after you’ve nuked it.  You could swap out some of the oats for other grains, or use a pre-mixed 12-grain cereal.  Your options are endless!

And hey guys – eat breakfast! It’s so easy to prep something the night before, or keep granola bars on hand.  We don’t have excuses not to eat in the mornings anymore.  Have left-over pizza, for goodness sake.  Just show your bod some morning love!

Stay savvy,

*Lou

Pizza Party

Greetings!

Throughout the craziness that has been the last month, I have learned a few Vegan-y things:

1. Most veggie samosas are Vegan!  This is excellent news for my tummy, and not-so-great info for my student loan-sized budget.

2. The London Fog is the perfect fallback when a coffee shop’s chai latte has honey/milk powder in it.  Again, not such wonderful news for the pocket-book, but definitely a life saver on drowsy mornings.

3. As long as you don’t preach or make faces at their burgers, folks are genuinely interested in Veganism!   Even if they just end up using it as an inroad to talk about how much they love bacon.

But the past four weeks haven’t been all spicy Indian awesomeness and fragrant soy pick-me-ups.  I really have been eating at home most of the time, though my meals are often less than creative.  For instance, I broke down and bought potato and onion perogies, and I make a lot of popcorn.  Unfortunately, this means I’ve been using a lot of oil, and I really need to work on that.

In amongst this laziness, I have had a few, fleeting moments of inspiration.  Today I want to show you my latest pizza creation!

I have a tantalizing love affair with Amy’s No Cheese pizza.  But seeing as I haven’t figured out how to make one last into a second day, the price was really beginning to hurt.  (But don’t get me wrong – totally worth every penny).  I decided to try my hand at a homemade approximation of my fave treat.

I recently discovered Flatouts.  These nifty flatbreads come in various shapes and flavours, and the oblong Italian Herb option looked perfect for pizza.

The result by no means tastes like Amy’s (plus I’ve made it with ‘cheese’ every time so far), but it touches on a number of choice flavours in the original.  Therefore, I dub it a win!

The Yummy Pizza That’s Small Enough You Don’t Feel too Badly Eating it All …

  • 1 Flatout! Italian Herb flatbread
  • 1 sm yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 button mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ red bell pepper, seeds removed
  • a few artichoke hearts, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp vegan margarine
  • ½ – 1 clove garlic (based on Expected Vampire Interaction for the day), minced
  • ½ cup Daiya mozzarella shredded “cheese”
  1. Set oven to broil.  Place half pepper directly on a high rack, and roast until skin is blackened.  You may want to put a tray on the lower rack – the peppers tend to leak a bit!
  2. When skin is black, remove pepper from the oven and put in a plastic bag to cool and steam.  Once it’s cooled, the skin should slide right off.  Slice the pepper finely.
  3. While the pepper is cooling, gently brown the onions on the stove, and let them caramelize.  Part way through the process, add the sliced mushrooms and artichoke hearts.  Note: Usually when I am caramelizing onions, I will add some water partway through.  The mushrooms supply the water in this case, since they lose quite a bit of it when they are cooking.  photo 1 (1)
  4. Set the oven to 350 F.  Be sure to move the top rack back to the middle!
  5. Melt the margarine together with the garlic, and spread over the flatbread.  Scatter the sliced pepper and caramelized onion mixture and sprinkle with Daiya.photo 2 (1)
  6. Place the pizza on a cooling rack, and then on a pan.  Because the crust is so thin, I found that if the pizza sat directly on a pan, the bottom got kind of soggy.
  7. Bake the pizza until the cheese is melted.  I sometimes switch to broil partway through to avoid burning the crust.  If your toppings were warm enough when added, you could probably just broil the whole time.

photo 3 (1)

Sound good?  Oh, it was.

Thanks for tuning in!

*Lou

Spice of Life

To lead an exciting culinary life as a Vegan, we really need to be fearless when it comes to strange flavour combinations.  Cheesy Pepper Rice bowl?  You might not think it, but it’s remarkably tasty!

Before I get to that, though, I want to discuss my latest spice discovery.

Not that I’m taking credit for this discovery, mind you.  I have read through countless recipes that call for Smoked (or Smokey) Paprika.  Every time, I thought of deviled eggs with their pretty red topping and figured – the non-smoked stuff has practically no flavour; how much difference can the “smoke” make?

If any of my readers feel the same – stop. Now.  Get out to Bulk Barn or some place that sells a bit beyond the regular, and buy some smokey paprika.

This little spice makes an unbelievable amount of difference in dishes (and at this point, many of you are probably going ‘yeah…duh’).  I finally tried it when my mom’s friend listed it among the spices I was free to play with for supper.  I said oh! I keep hearing about that.  And she said: oh my goodness, try it!

I can’t explain the flavour, except the say that it’s smokey.  I know, I’m a wonder with words.

Now that I have – with a bit of luck – either sold you on it or solidified myself as clueless in your mind, I’ll share this recipe with you.  I honestly just needed to get rid of some stuff in the fridge.  I had a rice portion that I pulled from the freezer a few days ago.  I also had some peppers, mushrooms and Daiya cheese.  So I figured what the heck, and I made this:

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • ½ red pepper
  • ½ yellow pepper
  • 1 cup cooked rice (I happened to have a wild/Arborio/etc. mix)
  • Mushrooms (I only had two, but I would definitely use more next time)
  • ½ cup Daiya cheddar “cheese”
  • Smoked paprika
  • Cayenne powder
  • Fine sea salt

I sautéed the peppers and mushrooms for a little bit, then dumped in the rice.  Once the rice was warmed, I added the cheese and spices (all to taste; I never measure) and stirred until the cheese had melted.

cheesy pepper rice

Voila!  How easy is that? And the wonderful thing about Leftover Meals is that you can toss in whatever! I am thinking maybe some firm tofu for protein, or even some kind of faux Italian sausage.  Starting with some onion would be great.  I certainly would have added garlic, but that all I have at the moment is whole cloves and I didn’t feel like chopping one.

This was my breakfast.  It would be perfect for any meal, and assuming none of your ingredients were too old, would likely taste delicious as a leftover in itself.

Enjoy, lovelies!

*Lou

There’s Always Time for Cookies!

Well, I’m moved in and settled – or at least as settled as a person partaking in an intensive, eight-month university program ever gets!

I’ve mentioned a couple times that the likelihood of my coming up with any fancy recipes over the next year is pretty slim.  That said, there’s no reason I can’t be trying out other folks recipes.  I’ll be going for simple and cheap these days, and I very much doubt I’m alone in that preference.  Therefore, I will continue to share with you the tasty morsels I try out, and I’ll try to occasionally whip up longer, more informational posts.

Ok, with all the preliminaries out of the way, I have a recipe to share! (Good grief, I certainly hope I would, after all that lead in.)

When I was looking for an apartment in my new city, I ended up connecting with a property rental company that specializes in purchasing and fixing up buildings in more run-down areas.  The downside to this is that the areas are sketchy.  The upside is the suites are beautiful and freshly updated, and the tenants are well-vetted.

The woman whom I dealt with regarding lease signing and all that fun stuff is an absolute gem.  As a result, I promised that I would bake her cookies once I was settled in my new place.

True to my word, the other day I whipped up a batch of these chocolate chip goodies, created by Bake Something.  Man, were they good!

The first batch I followed to the letter, with the minor exception of swapping out half the coconut oil for canola oil.  As much as I think that coconut oil is the best multi-purpose item in my cupboard, I’m still a bit sketchy on the saturated fat issue, and I try to avoid eating it in excess.  And let’s face it – I only had to look at the recipe for these cookies to know that I’d be eating whatever the rental agency lady didn’t … excessively.

The cookies were stupendous (though I kind of gave away that punch line in the previous paragraph)!  They were soft and chewy, and totally didn’t flatten out or go hard overnight.

Naturally, since I had to initially share the batch, it wasn’t more than a couple of days until I made some more.  Since these ones were all for me, I wanted to make them a little bit healthier; I swapped out half the oil (but still used half coconut, half canola) for applesauce.  Then I did as the Baking Rule says, and cut back the sugar because of the applesauce…

The cookies were still good.  Really, really good.  But don’t listen to the Baking Rule – leave in all the sugar, at least in this recipe.  This second round of cookies was definitely less sweet than the first, and not in a good way.  Maybe it’s because I use unsweetened applesauce and the people who make up the Rules use sweetened, or maybe it’s because I used whole wheat flour because I don’t buy white flour (oh yes, I suppose that was another slight change).  But whatever the reason, I highly recommend the full cup of sugar.  Besides the sweet factor, the second batch didn’t change in texture at all – so definitely a win for the applesauce.

I just now realized that I don’t have any photos of my cookies.  I swear it isn’t because I ate them all in one sitting.  I sat at least twice…

Give them a try! I know I will be making them again very soon!

*Lou

bluejayIn lieu of cookie pictures, I’d like to share my Saturday morning vistor!

Shiny!

After a few weeks MIA (for perfectly legitimate reasons, of course), nothing beats receiving a reminder to return in the form of a blogger award nomination.

My lovely fellow Vegan Blogger “The Vegan Glutton” has flattered me with a nomination for the Shine On award – isn’t that peachy?

My mission – and I totally choose to accept it – is to nominate seven other bloggers, and tell the powers that Blog seven little details about myself.  Let’s start with the latter:

1. I recently made a big move cross-country to attend a program I have yearned to take for years.

2. I’m a bit of a yoga junkie … but I’m not very advanced.

3. I started Veganism as a one week cleanse, and it felt so incredibly right, I never stopped.

4.  When life gets too much I don’t scream, or cry, or go for long runs – I write. (Well, sometimes I do those other things, too.)

5.  I love to bake cookies.  It’s unfortunate that I don’t get out much, because that usually means I’m the only one left to eat cookies.

6. I wish I were just an inch taller.

7. Fresh Picked Vegan came about as an outlet to keep me focused in my new-found path.  It continues, now that Veganism has become less of a challenge to me, as a way to share with others how very easy it is to make the transition and love every minute of it!

Thank you so much for reading, and thank you, The Vegan Glutton, for nominating me.

In return, I nominate (in no actual order, cause you’re all super cool):

itdoesnttastelikechicken.com

pramudiya.wordpress.com/

figgyandsprout.com

thesweetlifeonline.com

vegangela.com

veganyumyum.com

fithippiechick.blogspot.ca

As I mentioned above, I have become incredibly busy and will probably remain so until next Spring.  But I will try to post semi-regularly, none the less.

All the best to the nominees!

*Lou

I’m still here!

I guess I’ve been away for awhile…

My apologies.  My posts may be less regular now, since I am about to set off on a new and exciting tangent to my life.  Aka: I’ll be really busy.

But the plus side to that is that I will most likely be discovering all kinds of quick and easy Vegan meals, which of course I will share with you!

Today, I want to re-stress that you really must check out Oh She Glows, if you haven’t already.  The other day I decided to make Brussel Sprouts for supper, and I found myself jonesing for some cheese sauce to go along with them.  Since I didn’t have any butternut squash, I hit up the net for another idea.

Lo and behold, I came across the recipe that seems to have led Angela to her butternut squash delicacy!  It’s pretty much the same, minus the squash, it’s right here, and boy is it good!
brussel sprouts

Secondly, I want to share this recipe for Kitsune Soba.  Wowza!

This broth is so good, I would happily swap it in for plain ol’ veggie every time!  My picture isn’t nearly as exciting as the creator’s, but believe me when I say it tasted wonderful.  Soba noodles are definitely a new staple in my closet – I even added them to my miso soup!  I used this brand, which are actually only 30% buckwheat to 70% whole wheat but I will be keeping my eye out for an all-buckwheat version (apparently easy to find in Asian food stores).

kitsune soba

I hope these links give you some great new ideas.  Please hang around – I promise I’ll keep posting for as long as you keep reading!

Cheers!

*Lou