Friday, April 30, 2010

Three Day Challenge

So it's finals time... I'm basically out of commission until next Saturday at noon. By that time I will be done (hopefully) with two more essays and two finals. I've just completed two, one due today, one due Wednesday.

After that it will be blog-city for the rest of summer starting with our four day trip to NYC (which you can be sure will be all about food!... I've already made a list of where I want to go...). Until then, I wanted to give a short update:

1. GUAC OFF! I'm entering the Harvard guacamole making contest next Wednesday; hopefully it will go well. I was planning to enter my house Top Chef, but off course my house (Leverett) sucks and decided not to do it...

2. I'm trying to show how easy it is to be a vegan so I'm going to do a three-day round up of my meals, basically what a vegan eats from day to day :) Started off good so far with a vegan thai tea with boba & a Mediterranean wrap from boloco!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tapas at Toro

La Especialidad de la Casa. Grilled corn with alioli, lime, espelette pepper and aged cheese

Over Restaurant Week, Antonio & I took our friends out to the South End to enjoy some Tapas at Toro. With a lovely oak-stained wooden interior, Toro exudes an old-world, traditional Spanish vibe that seeps through into the modern world by way of Beatles' music & its eclectic customers out for a mid-day brunch. It's a small space but open & airy enough that you could spend hours in there (and, in fact, we ended up doing so).

As to be expect from a Spanish restaurant, garlic is a favorite and prominent ingredient in most dishes. I thought it pair great with their Spanish-style Bruschetta. Many of the items were moderately priced for the amount you got & while simplistic in ingredients, everything was fresh & worked great together.

Oh yeah, and they are very accommodating to vegans as well. I ended up not opting into the Restaurant Week menu, but I think it turned out to be a better deal anyway since my portions were a bit bigger. If you are coming here for an afternoon lunch or evening dinner, since it is quite small, be prepared to put up with some slow service. We didn't really mind, but it's not the type of place you can sit down for a quick meal.

Here are some of the pictures from my meal (the top picture is obviously not vegan, but I had to include it because its a great picture & their house special; the last dish is amazing):

Marinated olives in bay leaf, lemon and spices

Fried potatoes with alioli and spicy tomato sauce

Marinated wood roasted eggplant, onions, peppers, and tomatoes with sherry vinegar and olive oil

Toro $$$
1704 Washington St.
Boston, MA

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Detox Day One: Veggie Day

So we (Antonio & I) started our spring cleaning detox, working to flush the toxins out; combined with some yoga & extra meditation, I think this something my body has been needing this, a kick-start as finals go into full gear. Here's the link to the detox info.

Today is veggies only day (raw or mostly raw, only water & herbal tea, no salt, oil, extra fats etc).... even I--as a vegan obsessed with getting my veggie intake--can only take so much raw veggies alone (at least the raw foodist gets some nuts & fruits in the mix). Anyway, the day is almost over & was survived with help from a packet of organic seaweed (sea veggies!) which, by the way, can help reduce fat intake by 75%! For only 10 calories a sheet & no salt, I knew this was always a great snack :) I also subsisted on various crudites.

Tomorrow, thankfully, will be fruit day! That means smoothies, fruit juice, & a big bowl of fruit salad all day... I can def. subsist on an all fruit smoothie or two; that's often a breakfast favorite of mine that fills me up till way past lunch :D

Saturday will be fasting day; lots of herbal tea, two glasses of fruit juice, & curling up with a warm blanket (Keep warm! Being cold makes us hungry because food warms us up)... I'm actually getting up extra early because I could NOT resist attending the Harvard Culinary Society Taste Tripping party! hmm...

...I'll keep you updated on the process. :)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My Thursday Night Dinner Date: New Rafiki Bistro near Harvard Square

So I was just alerted as to the soft-opening next Tuesday of Rafiki Bistro, a health-oriented up-scale bistro with a focus on using all-natural, eco-friendly & organic products. If you know me, you know that the words health-oriented, all-natural, eco-friendly, & organic are music to my ears... the only thing that could improve such a phrase would be the word 'vegan'. Sure enough, they not only have numerous vegan options (from vegan scones to vegetarian chili to lentil burgers) but they offer tofutti cream cheese! I've just become a recent convert to tofutti cream cheese: I love real cream cheese & so I was amazed this stuff was such an amazing replica of the yummy taste with way less fat & calories (& suffering)!

Anyway, I digress. As soon as I saw my email I knew this was going to be our next date night dinner for next Thursday... though I am just as compelled to go there by myself for a cafe trip (they have free wifi!) for some fair-trade tea & delicious vegan baked goods.

I suggest everyone check out their menu & website. I, for one, am very excited about this opening & will post as soon as I get the chance to try it out for myself!

Rafiki Cambridge Bistro
1682 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138

Vegans make better lovers (& cookies!)

Vegan Rosewater & Pistachio Cupcake w/ Fluffy 'Buttercream' Frosting

So last weekend the Harvard vegetarian society (VEGITAS) had our semi-annual vegan baking workshop. Contrary to popular belief (including my own belief a few months ago when I started down the vegan path), vegan baking is not only easy but its soooo delicious. Honestly: my boyfriend is obsessed with sweets & the second best cookie he said he's ever had in his life was a vegan chocolate chip (from Other Side Cafe in Boston). Now this is second only to the compost cookie from Momofuko in New York, and really, it's hard to argue with that place.

So my own first experience with vegan baking were kind of boring & bland... since I just became vegan I was also very health-conscious; I still am, but I realize now that to make a good cookie or cake--vegan or not--you can't expect it to be that good for you (I attempted only fat-free vegan goods, but have since expanded my horizon). But I'm okay with that; we all need to indulge once in awhile and if we are going to do so, we might as well be compassionate about it.

I used to hate baking but the ease of adapting recipes into vegan recipes (ex. soy milk = milk, flax seed or cornstarch + water = an egg) & plethora of vegan baking recipes on-line has gotten me into the mood & so you can always expect I'll make a cake or cookies or some ice cream after a dinner party.

Back to the event: the baking workshop went great. In less than 2 hours we baked 6 different goodies, everything from muffins to cupcakes to cookies. All were delicious, all were different, and everyone who came to learn seemed to have a great time & lively conversation about the important ethical & social implications of vegetarianism & veganism (many of the people there had just turned to a veg life or we're very interested in it).

Here are some more pictures from this amazing event:

Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookies w/ Peanut-Butter & Flax Seed

Chocolate & Peanut-Butter Pillows

Happy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Almond-Quinoa Muffins

Banana Maple Cookies (naturally sweetened, no white sugar added!)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Pizza Party!

So my friend Chris is leaving tomorrow on one of his usual adventures, a trip sailing and backpacking around California for around 4 months. Lucky us we'll be in California over the summer as well and will probably see him (possibly at Burningman as well). Still, we'll miss him & so we all said goodbye last night at a party at his house.

I was told he makes the best pizza around, infamous in fact... I was not disappointed. He was kind enough to make me my own vegan pizza and it was delicious! He pre-made crispy flatbreads, covered it with tomato sauce and then we went crazy (see below):

Flatbread pizza topped w/ sundried tomatoes, spinach, caramelized onions, & Daiya mozzarella cheese

The best part? I was finally able to use my new Daiya Cheese! This great vegan cheese just went on sale at Whole Foods everywhere and I could not wait to buy it: all the best vegan restaurants use it, especially pizza places. Plus, it's quite healthy (not an ingredient I didn't know on the label for one) & does not use soy or nuts in case of allergies.

Ohyeah, and it is sooo much better than other vegan cheese: it tastes amazing, it looks amazing, its gooey and stretchy perfection... All in all, it was a good night with friends, pizza, & yummy sides (salad & perfect strawberries!)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Why I'm Looking Forward to Summer

Sun. Beaches. More time for Yoga (with my mum!). COOKING. More time for Meditation. Flip-flops. Comfy clothes. Friends. Burningman. Wanderlust (hopefully!). EDT Pop. EDC. Mammoth hiking trips. Mammoth skiing trips. Farmer's Markets. Catching up on movies. More time for blogging. Brunch in Pasadena. Cooking classes. Trips to Mexico. Many, many trips to the Bay area. Outdoor concerts. The California Strawberry Festival. Community clean-up. Continued Harvard & thesis research work. Burningman Psych Research. Fresh squeeze orange juice. Drives up PCC. Camping!

L'Espalier Powerlunch Goes Vegan

Last Friday that Harvard Culinary Society organized a trip to one of Boston's finest restaurants L'Espalier for a mid-day power lunch. At only $24 a person, it was a deal that could not be beaten (want to take a girl on an impressive date? Try a fine dining restaurant for a weekday lunch; the deals are great and the service and food is still amazing).

The best part about going to a restaurant like L'Espalier, even with a meat-heavy prix fixe menu, is that they are usually always accommodating to special diets (you should call ahead of time to be sure).

The food was amazing, the service very fantastic, and all in a beautiful setting. I've attach some of the photos before of the special vegan lunch they prepared for me:

Curly endives with roasted red onions and a mustard vinaigrette dressing

Kale, red peppers, grated carrots stir-fried in spicy soy sauce topped with a grapefruit slice

Caramelized banana slices, fresh apple & tangerine slices, and blackberry sorbet with grapefruit and blood orange sauce

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tex-Mex Dinner Party

So we threw a Tex-Mex Dinner Party with some friends this last weekend. It went great; so great in fact that the food was gone before I could take a picture of it all (I was busy cooking :x). I did snag a quick picture between it all of our dessert though:

Mexican Chocolate Cake Topped w/ Bananas Flambe

So I adapted the recipe from here. It's vegan & delicious (don't know about health). I made it for our anniversary a month ago and I thought I'd switch it up this time. The whole cake soaked up some of the rum flavor... yum!