Monday, February 28, 2011

Vegan guilt?

So today I wanted to talk about vegan guilt.  Is it just me or do others out there often hide the fact that we are vegan?  Or feel like it's something to apologize for?  I feel this way on a pretty regular basis, especially at work.  I am currently reading FREE THE ANIMALS by Ingrid Newkirk.  This is a book about the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and I feel like a teenage boy reading girly magazines in class.  Seriously I hide it inside a script so that people think I'm reading whatever spec just went out.  But here's the thing: I know that if my boss noticed the title (or cover of a masked person holding a rescue dog), I would hear a non-stop litany of shit.  Now my co-workers are not unkind per se, just uninformed and have no desire to learn any other way.  I understand this.  Hell, I practiced it for 27 years.  However, it annoys me that I am made to feel badly about my choices.  After all, I am just trying to live my life in accordance to my ideals.  I want to stop animal cruelty and suffering. I want to end mass pollution.  I want the Earth to be habitable for future generations.  All of these things can be achieved with a vegan diet! How crazy and awesome is that?  To know that we really can make a change.  If only I could convince those around me to join the cause.

I've already managed to navigate the waters of cupcake birthday parties.  I just say that I am trying to lose wait for my impending nuptials. It's funny because I see how badly they feel for me when in reality, I feel bad for them.  Ten minutes from the time they scarf those sugary, milky sweets, they all start to complain about feeling sick.  About thirty mins to an hour later, each of them looks haggard with glazed eyes in the throes of a sugar crash.  They all vow never to eat the cupcakes again but then it's someone else's birthday and it starts all over again.

So here is my question to all you vegans out there: how do you deal with vegan guilt?  I know I should learn more quick sound bytes to combat bigoted thinking and silly questions like "What do you eat?" (Answer EVERYTHING! Except meat and dairy :))  Any advice would be much appreciated.  Do other people work in offices where vegetarianism, let alone veganism, is shunned or looked upon like some alien species?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Follow Your Heart

Ok, so double posting today.  So after my Portland extravaganza, I flew back to LAX and went directly to Follow Your Heart in Canoga Park.  I had a Groupon there that was going to expire so I called Becca and we had our reunion there.  We had been there once before so we were excited to get a couple of classics and try a couple of new things.  First off, we ordered the Nachos (no pic since I am allergic and Becca scarffed them) and the Lorenzo Tofu Eggwich.  It's listed as: A Grilled Scrambled Tofu Pattie, Tomato and *Pastrami* Wheatmeat, with Avocado and Vegenaise® on our Homemade English Muffin. Served with Potatoes or Fresh Fruit.  We opted to have it with the fruit.  This is my second time eating this sandwich and I was not disappointed.  I don't know how they make that tofu egg patty but it is scrumptious. 

Next, Becca ordered the Reuben, which I didn't get a good enough picture of.  She commented that it was on the sour side but I thought it was fab.  I love sauerkraut so I didn't mind the tartness one tiny bit.  I ordered the Wok Stir Fry: fresh Vegetables and Organic Tofu, Stir Fried with Garlic, Ginger and Tamari. Served with Organic Brown Rice.  It was also fantastic.  I ate all my leftovers yesterday at lunch time and they held up very well.  Just take a look at the quantity and variety of veggies.  I recently read that the average American gets 2 servings of vegetables.  They say to shoot for 5 on the food pyramid but in reality, we are meant to get 9 (yep NINE) servings daily.  How many would you guess that is?


So it was my best friend's 30th birthday last weekend so we met up in Portland, Oregon with a couple of her other friends as well.  We stayed at the Downtown Waterfront Marriott, which was conveniently located to the shopping area, which my bestie was most interested in.  However, it turns out to only be a hop, skip and a bridge from the Vegan Strip Mall I've read so much about on Quarry Girl.  Granted, it took about two days longer than expected but I finally convinced my bff to go before dropping me back at the airport.

First off, I think it's amazing that four vegan businesses have gotten together.  I will say that I was a tad disappointed with Herbivore Clothing.  While I love message t-shirts, sometimes a girl just wants a plain vegan outfit, ya know. There wasn't anything in store that you can't get online, though there is no sales tax in P-town.  Food Fight Grocery was adorable!  I stocked up on Health Valley Graham Crackers (gonna make more of Alicia's peanut butter cups!).  However, the shining winner was of course Sweetpea Baking Company.

So Kelli and I walked into the quaint adorable shop and took a look at the menu. Everything looked so good (and I have to admit that I was half starved for organic, vegan food after spending most of my weekend eating Boca burgers and french fries at heavily meaty restaurants chosen by Kelli and co) that I couldn't make up my mind.  I asked the pregnant woman behind the counter (turned out to be owner Lisa Higgins) and she recommended her namesake sandwich The Higgins.  I was sold in a minute.  Kelli ordered the hummus sandwich with lots of veggies because she's still not sold on fake meat.  I also got some potato salad and Kelli ordered a hazelnut latte.  My only minor criticism is that Lisa was a little rude, I'm not gonna lie. I wanted the whole experience to be sublime for Kelli's sake because I want her to see that I'm not deprived of anything and that vegans are not judgemental.  However, from the moment we walked in, we sorta got the cold shoulder.  Could it be my (over)enthusiam?  More likely the culprit being Kelli's leather boots and belt, or maybe she was just having an off day?  No matter, the food more than made up for it and here we go!

First off was Kelli's latte.  Sooo pretty with the leaf design on top.  In Kelli's words: "It's almost too pretty to drink."  But alas, it was delicious.  I snuck a few sips before she scooted it away to her side of the table.

So on the left is the Higgins and the right is the Hummus Sandwich.  I didn't get to try Kelli's sandwich because she ate it so quickly!  I was so happy that she enjoyed it, although she said that it had a lot of bread.  I don't know, I love bread so I don't think it would have been a problem for me.  Nevertheless, she ate everything on her plate so I have to assume that it really didn't hinder her too very much.

My sandwich was literally the best sandwich I've had as a vegan.  I love me some Reubens from Native Foods and the like, but this Italian sub was so much better.  It was wheatmeat, fake pepperoni, pepperchinis, veganiase and lettuce.  Now I don't know what kind of pepperoni they use, whether they make it in house or not, but it was PERFECT.  Unlike most vegans I know, cheese was never the hard thing for me to give up.  No, it was salami and pepperoni that I missed the most.  I have never enjoyed a sandwich so thoroughly in my life.  I WISH that they imported to Los Angeles.  The potato salad also rivals Flore.

Now that I am aware that there are so many more vegan options in Portland, Becca and I have to plan a trip up again soon.  This time the focus will be on vegan food rather than shopping and birthday partying.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I usually don't take to my blog to air grievances but if I don't put it somewhere, I may just explode.  If people do not want to read negativity, step away from this post and don't look back.  I warned you.

Ok so here's the thing. I work for a millionaire, possibly on the verge of being a billionaire.  And by I work for him, I mean I work for his company, not him specifically (thank God).  Now he has a ridiculous amount of money and yet pays his employees (or at least the assistants) barely anything.  This would be forgivable since most entertainment industry companies do the same, but he's constantly harping on us to "work for our money."  I'm sorry but In and Out Burger employees make roughly the same amount of money as I do, so if he'd like a double double, then sure maybe I could find a way to whip it up (not really because it makes me nauseous to think about).  However, when he requests that since his assistant is busy running to get him a latte (that he pronounces lottie), I go gas up his car, this is when I draw a line.  My days of coffee gophering ended in college and I have no intention to go back there.  Oh and this is compounded with the fact that he doesn't remember my name...EVER.  I've been here for nearly a year AND share the same name as one of our executives so seriously how hard is it to remember?  There are a total of three women that work here so it's not like he just can't keep us straight.  Finally, he never, not once, shuts the fucking door. I'm sorry but seriously how hard is it to close the door?  It rained all day yesterday so it was cold out (I know I know, LA cold is nothing compared to say Michigan cold but I don't care).  He just leaves the door open then complains that it's chilly inside.  He asks "will one of you girls shut the door" as if a. us "girls" should be responsible for closing the door and b. he had nothing to do with the wide open door in the first place.  Ugh. It sounds trite, I know it does.  But these are the little things that drive me up the wall.

If you thought the boss man was a dick, however, that's nothing compared to the girl I share my office with.  Now I know there is a certain level of hypocrisy here since I'm whining at this very moment, but this girl never stops complaining.  I try to be a fairly positive person so it's hard to deal with such a cryptic personality.  She had a shitty old computer that they wouldn't replace so I get being annoyed when she couldn't do something as simple as open a YouTube link.  However, she has since gotten a new computer and she complains whenever a page doesn't open instantly; meanwhile she has 10 programs all open. She also has bad hygiene, which is weird because lots of boys seem to like her.  Sometimes she shows up all gussied up in heels and skirts, which look good but she doesn't wash her hair which ruins the whole effect.  Oh and she comes from a big agency so she's got a lot of friends willing to slip her scripts, books and information.  She often looks like a rock star here.  Am I jealous?  I guess a little bit because I work hard, read as much as possible, but still come out looking like I've got no juice in this town.  I don't know who she blew to get so many people willing to do her favors, but it must have been killer.  She got the first Oscar screeners so by the time I got some, they were old news.  She has moles at her old agency that will tell her about upcoming projects so she looks ahead of the curve.  And she never misses an opportunity to call me out if I know something.  Like I heard about a pitch going out today and she glommed on saying, "Oh yea, I heard about that yesterday but there's already producers attached."  I just stared daggers at her because I friggin' knew that.  I was about to say that to my boss but she had to make sure that she was the one that appeared to have all the information. Blah.

Ok I'm done.  My breathing has returned to normal and I am going to be ok.  I know there are bigger problems in the world than these but I seriously don't want to let this shit linger in my mind.  I'm over it.  I just need to keep looking ahead.  Soon it will be September and I will be getting married.  Then I will look for and score an amazing new job. It. Will. Happen.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Peanut Butter Cups!

Last night I decided to make Alicia Silverstone's peanut butter cups.  I will also add the recipe in full below.  However, I just wanted to say with only 7 ingredients, these are perfection.  Next time I think that I will add more chocolate on bottom and top to help them keep their shape.  Though it says that the recipe makes 12, I only came out with 10 but hey they were still great.


1⁄2 cup Earth Balance butter
3⁄4 cup crunchy peanut butter
(preferably unsweetened and unsalted)
3⁄4 cup graham cracker crumbs or 10 graham cracker squares
1⁄4 cup maple sugar or other granulated sweetener
1 cup grain-sweetened, nondairy chocolate or carob chips
1⁄4 cup soy, rice, or nut milk
1⁄4 cup chopped pecans, almonds, or peanuts

Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. (If You Care makes unbleached liners made from recycled paper.)
Set aside.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.
Stir in the peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs, and maple sugar and mix well. Remove the mixture from the heat.
Evenly divide the mixture, approximately 2 tablespoons per cup, among the muffin cups.
Combine the chocolate and milk in another pan.
Stir over medium heat until the chocolate has melted.
Spoon the chocolate evenly over the peanut butter mixture.
Top with chopped nuts.
Place in the refrigerator to set for at least 2 hours before serving. 

They are great soft, but even better a little firmer!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Native Foods does it again

I don't mean to be a total Native Foods whore but I really really love this place.  Today I tried the Wild Buffalo Wrap, which is battered Seitan strips tossed with Louisiana hot sauce, shredded lettuce, cucumber strips and tomato. Served with homemade ranch dipping sauce. It is intensely amazing.  Just the right amount of spice.  Thing is I'm really not sure what the calorie count on this bad boy but I guestimated on my iPhone.  I only ate half because I'm tracking calories in an attempt to lose weight for the wedding.  Becca's been doing really well lately (though about 3 months late to the party) so she hounds me about working out and tracking weight.  On one hand, it's faboosh to have someone in this with me.  On the other, it drives me crazy because some mornings I just want to sleep.  All the same, I have about 20 pounds to lose so here goes nothing...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Waaay Behind

So it's been awhile since I last posted, but lots of vegan goodness has gone on.  The funny thing is I am always taking pictures of my food and creations, but somehow never make it back here to post them.  So excuse the clutter but I got a bunch of stuff.  First of all, I finally got back to Native Foods to try the spicy meatball pizza!  I gotta say it was absolutely worth the wait.  The "meatballs" were amazing.  They had the most perfect texture ever. I don't know what Chef Tanya uses to make them but I bet that any omnivore would be fooled by these ones.  The only thing is that it wasn't very spicy as the namesake states but that does not by any means detract from the deliciousness.

Next, I attended yet another AMAZING class with the Spork Sisters.  This was a 50's TV dinner class edition in which we made seitan pot pies, mashed potatoes with caramelized onions and crunchy sage, succotash and chocolate peanut butter swirl brownies for desert.  First of all, if you haven't attended a Spork Foods class, sign up for one immediately.  If you can't because you don't live in LA, then go to to sign up for their online classes.  I do both and I have to say there is nothing more adorable than the Sporkies.  The Goldberg sisters are so much fun in class and really are the kind of vegans I aspire to be.  I cannot say enough good things about them. This class also happened to be Becca's first Spork Foods class and she loved it.  Here's a girl that has dug her heels in when it comes to giving up all meat all the time and now she realizes how much fun and enjoyment can come from a vegan diet.  Plus, she finally sees why I suddenly took a new interest in cooking after attending a class!

Now here's the food!
I didn't get a photo of the brownies because by that point I had already gone into a food-lovin frenzy.  Also, they made amazing ice tea using tea they bought while in vacation in Kona!

Next up (and I sense a theme here), Vegan Pizza Day!  On Saturday the 29th, it was World Vegan Pizza Day with a number of places teaming up to supply the best vegan pizza possible. My ultimate blogger crush Quarry Girl reported on ZPizza as one of the options.  I had never tried this place and Becca and I were in the neighborhood running a number of wedding errands so I said we should go.  The WeHo location is clean and nice-looking.  The guy behind the counter was very nice and accommodated our requests (no mushrooms, double onion on half) for the Vegan Berkeley.

Honestly I gotta say I wasn't super impressed by this pizza. I think there was too little sauce, too much Daiya and the tomatoes made it all a little watery.  The crumbles they used were fan-fucking-tastic though.  I am writing my Whole Foods begging them to stock them because they tasted exactly like sausage, not that I was a huge sausage fan before.  But yea, the service was great. The guy gave us a free soda and was super sweet, but the pizza just wasn't great.

Finally, last night I made my finest meal to date.  Everything turned out perfectly! I made spaghetti aglio e oilio which is actually super easy to make.  I used spinach spaghetti then cooked 1/3 cup oil with 6 cloves of garlic and a liberal sprinkling of red pepper flakes. When the pasta was ready, I tossed it with the oil "sauce".  Then I made garlic cheese biscuits (yes, you heard me) and they were about a million times better than Red Lobster (especially on second day I found).  Finally I made some garlic spinach as well.  YUM.  This was all so good I didn't even get a chance to snap pictures. We merely inhaled all the food.  It was a left-over neither Becca or I minded reheating at work today.  My only warning is this is not a first date meal due to the excessive amount of garlic.  On that note, also no vampire dates for the aforementioned reason.