Friday, April 29, 2011

My Heaven

A paid day off from work. (Good Friday.)

Homemade banana bread. (That my husband made.)

Nutella spread on said banana bread. (Why have I never done this before?)

Plain latte. (Made at home to save money.)

And blogging for you lovely folks. (While it rains outside.)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Homemade Veggie Burgers

Whenever I want veggie burgers, it almost always goes like this:

"I want veggie burgers."

"I don't want to make veggie burgers. I'll buy some frozen ones at the store."

"Damn, these things are expensive. Fine, I'll make them myself sometime."

Then I never get around to it. But this time I did!

I've made black bean burgers and even mushroom veggie burgers before, but this is my first time completely freestyling this. In my head, I was combining other recipes I'd made in the past to make an ultimate vegetarian superburger.

I started with sliced mushrooms (of course), some diced red onion that had been in my fridge almost too long, some minced garlic (the kind in a little glass jar that you keep in the fridge), and some butter. Thank you, Pioneer Woman, for turning me on to butter.

So I sauteed all that over medium-high until the mushrooms were soft.

Dumped all that into a small bowl.

Added a can of drained black beans. I almost always buy Clearly Organic black beans because they don't have a bunch of extra weird ingredients in them and they're not much more expensive than the cheapest black beans. Rarely do I have enough foresight to soak my own dry beans and save money.

Anyways, back to the burgers. I added some plain oats, an egg (on top of the oats so as not to cook it on the hot ingredients) and some plain bread crumbs. In the future, I'll use a little less bread crumbs and maybe buy the Italian-flavored ones. Or just add some Italian seasoning to this.

Mix it all up. I mashed part of the beans with a fork to try to get it to hold together better. Next time I'll mash even more. By the time I made this into patties, it felt a lot like hamburger!

Melt a little butter in a skillet. Or if I've already used too much butter for you, use oil or cooking spray.

Patty up and fry up! I cooked about two minutes per side.

These are really quite delicious, and they grew on me every time I ate more as leftovers. I think I got nine burgers out of this. I ate them topped with melted feta cheese and salt, with a side of my roasted potatoes. Normally I don't add salt to my food, but these needed quite a bit of salt. So in the future I'll add salt and maybe some freshly ground black pepper to the mixture before I cook it up.

My "recipe" below is more of a guideline because I didn't measure and I'll probably change it up a bit in the future. But if you're comfortable playing around with this, I think you'll be quite pleased with your dinner result!

Freestyle Mushroom/Bean Veggie Burgers
(makes 5-10, depending on proportions and size)

Sliced mushrooms
Diced onion
Minced garlic
1 can black beans, drained
Bread crumbs
1 or 2 eggs

1. Saute mushrooms, onion and garlic in butter until soft.
2. Transfer to a bowl and add other ingredients. Mix well. Mash some of the beans with a fork.
3. Make into patties and pan-fry in butter.
4. Taste-test and add more salt if necessary.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Conference Outfits

When I went to my St. Louis for work a few years ago, I took photos of my outfit to show off to my friends how professional I can dress when I want/have to. Then for my first Health Journalism conference last year, I took photos of each day's outfit and shared them on Facebook. Yes, this is pure vanity. And kind of weird. But I'd like to continue the trend for some unknown reason.

Also, I am in fact vain and I'd quite like to brag for a day about my new derby-fitness body. I'm so lovin' it.

Before I left (you can see my bedroom in the background) I tried on a suit I haven't worn in years because it was too small. I bought this my senior year of college and wore it to an interview at my current job. Then I was afraid it would never fit again.

For the conference, I decided I'd try to be young and cool and hip and wear a cute t-shirt under a professional suit. So I tried it on, asked a friend for her opinion, and packed it. Then I chickened out at the conference and didn't wear it anyway. But I think it's quite adorable and would like to share with anyone who made it reading this far today.

By the first full day in Philly, I felt like poo. In my pathetic, wheezy voice, I warned everyone I met how sick I felt just so they'd be aware of my germ-spreading potential and have a chance to run away if so desired.

But I didn't want to look like poo, so I layered up a few pieces that I've had for years and put on my best no-I'm-not-too-sick-for-the-world face.

Thanks to some prescription-strength cough syrup prescribed by an uber-nice doctor I talked into examining me the day before, the second day was a little less miserable. For at least a little while, I managed to avoid pulling my hair back into a ponytail. If I'd been smart, I would have re-dyed it before I went. But sometimes I'm not smart.

Also, although I'm not vegan, I'm trying to not buy leather if I can help it. But if I already have it, I wear it. And if it's second-hand, I feel less guilty. As far as my purse goes, I'm never giving it up.

While in Philly, I stumbled across the most lovely independent shop, Smak Parlour. I bought a cute black skirt (short, black, pockets, comfortable, machine-washable, machine-dryable and 50% off = so sold to me) and this short sweater. I have so many dresses I tell myself I'll wear with cute little sweaters, but then I never buy said sweaters. So with some encouragement of my new friend who happened to be with me, I indulged and bought this one. Then on my last day, I wore it with the t-shirt originally intended for my ironic suit outfit.

Thanks for bearing with my odd vanity today.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Who knew--derby girls blog! Check out some of my fellow Dead Girls' works:

Betty Fright:
Edith Myfist:
Notorious L.I.Z.:
Mega Manic:

If I forgot you, a) I'm so sorry! and b) let me know in the comments!

Also, a couple high-school friends:

And some college friends:

Share the love! And if anyone is interested in-guest blogging anything food- or derby-related for me, e-mail me at

Monday, April 25, 2011

Veggie Snacks On the Run

There are certainly fast-food vegetarian options, but I don't like to rely on those. If you're busy and active, you'll probably need to plan ahead, lest you end up starving in the middle of the day. While I'm certainly no food saint (I like Doritos as much as the next girl), I do want and like to eat healthy most of the time.

If I'm going to be out and about all day shopping or whatever else, I try to take a reusable water bottle full of at-home filtered water with me. This keeps me from buying bottled water (an unnecessary expense and waste of plastic), and even more so keeps me from caving and buying myself a sugary coffee drink or soda somewhere.

You'll usually find a granola bar or two in my purse. When I'm hungry, I'm hungry right away. And if I stay hungry longer than about 15 minutes, I get grumpy. Granola bars tide me over for a while. Store-bought ones hold up better in my purse than homemade, so I really like soft Kashi bars or Odwalla.

In college, I'd spread crunchy peanut butter on a whole-wheat tortilla, throw in some dark chocolate chips for tastiness, and keep that in my backpack until I was hungry for lunch. Nut butters are really great for high-protein snacks on the go.

Especially if you're an athlete and/or vegetarian, what snacks do you carry with you? Surely I'm not the only one of us with a stash of healthy and indulgent foods in her top work desk drawer.



Friday, April 22, 2011

Sick Movies/Books

Please forgive me for any subpar posts or lack of photos. As I mentioned yesterday, I was in Philadelphia for five days for an awesome work conference, and I've been getting over some sort of bronchitis-like stuff. In case you were wondering, travel + sick = sucks.

So I'm not describing these books as "sick" in any sense, but rather these are the media that made my being sick livable.

The Tuesday before my trip, I tried to go to work. I must have looked/sounded terrible because my coworkers pretty quickly insisted that I go home. Because I'm not good at relaxing, I rented three Redbox movies to bribe myself to stay on the couch most of the day. It worked pretty well! I got:

Love & Other Drugs
I LOVED this movie! I'd been wanting to see it for months and wasn't at all disappointed. This movie made me laugh out loud and cry a lot.

Social Network
Everyone's been telling me that I need to see this movie, so I finally did. I liked it a lot. The whole time I kept thinking "Wow, this guy's barely older than me." Oh, and "2003? That was a long time ago... Wait a minute... That was my freshman year of college... HolycrapamIold?!" Definitely worth seeing.

After watching the above two, this movie wasn't "good" per se, but it was very enjoyable. I kept thinking how pieces of the dancers' outfits would make great derby items. My brain is so fully infected with roller derby, it's not even funny.

While traveling, my chest was filled with a lovely death-rattle that gave me an impressive circle of personal space in airports and on the planes. To stay awake but not roaming the terminals, I did my best to get lost in a couple books. Whenever I got up to move around I'd launch into coughing fits, so this worked pretty well. I also consumed more cough drops and hot tea that ever in my life.

Down & Derby: The Insider's Guide to Roller Derby
One of the lovely Dead Girls lent this to me and it was really great. It helped clarify a lot of things about derby culture that I didn't understand before. Fed my obsession while out of town and unable to skate quite well.

'Salem's Lot
I started reading this book on the day I had knee surgery. That was back in August 2010. It is now April 2011. For some reason I just couldn't get into this book even though I liked it. Plus I get nightmares pretty easily, so I didn't want to read it at night. Once I finally got into this, I really enjoyed it, although I felt a little let down by the end. My copy of this book was printed in the '70s, which I especially loved.

Omnivore's Dilemma
This one I'm still working on, but I'm fascinated by the section on corn. It seems that my entire world is made up of creatively disguised corn. Is my computer made of corn? How about my clothes? I don't think so, but now I'm starting to wonder.

What are you reading?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How to Clean Derby Pads

First of all, happy birthday to one of my bestest friends in the world (and Cooking on Skates contributor) DeVeeM!

Before I left for a recent work trip, and also before I got sick with something that may have been bronchitis, I realized I needed to wash my stinky, stinky derby pads. You know it's past time to wash them when you go "Ugh, what's that smell?" only to find out... it's you. It's your elbows, your wrists, whatever.

Your wrist guards, knee pads and elbow pads are ready to wash. Take the foam lining out of your helmet, being careful not to tear out both layers of Velcro. If you have any additional supportive equipment (knee brace, Neoprene brace, gaskets), take out any removable pads from those so they can be washed as well. Put all the pads and padding in your kitchen sink. Clean the sink first if necessary.

My kitchen sink is not oversized and I thought it worked just fine. You could use a bathtub, but I think you'd have to waste a lot of water.

First, I soaked all of my pads in warm water with about a cup of plain white vinegar. Let it sit while you go watch TV for a while or something. I think I waited about half an hour.

Drain the sink and rinse off the pads.

Next, fill the sink back up with warm water, unscented/undyed laundry detergent and about half a cup of baking soda. Let sit a while. Then agitate with your hands to get everything all worked up, and sit a while longer. After 15 minutes or more, drain the sink and rinse the pads well.

Let the pads air-dry on a counter or outside. This can take 24 hours or more, so I would recommend washing your pads right after practice one day when you know you won't need them for a couple days.

After I washed my pads this way for the first time, they went from quite funky-smelling to practically good-as-new! I plan to repeat this process every couple of weeks.

Does anyone else have suggestions for how to effectively clean pads while extending their lifespan?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Roasted Potatoes

You won't need photos to understand how to make them, but I want to show you how beautiful they in order to try to convince you to make them for yourself.


I mean...

Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease? Pretty pretty pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease?

These may be the easiest potatoes you'll ever make, and they're incredibly delicious for the minimal effort involved. My husband even ate tons of these without any convincing on my part.

Roasted Potatoes
(serves four as a side)

Red/new potatoes
Olive oil
Italian seasoning
Kosher salt

1. Wash potatoes and cut them into quarters. If the bigger potatoes look too big, cut them a little smaller. Place in a glass baking dish (or whatever you have.)
2. Toss in olive oil to coat (a couple tablespoons per pound of potatoes). Mix in minced garlic (a tablespoon or two) and sprinkle the top with Italian seasoning (enough to cover).
3. Bake at 375 degrees until fork-tender. I start checking them every five minutes after half an hour.
4. Sprinkle the tops with kosher salt before eating.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dandelion Flower Cookies

Dandelion Flower Cookies

1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
1⁄2 cup honey
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup dry oatmeal
1⁄2 cup dandelion flowers.

1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. Mix the oil and honey and then beat in the 2 eggs and vanilla.
3. Remove the yellow flower parts from the green parts.
4. Stir in the flour, oatmeal, and dandelion flowers.
5. Drop the batter by tablespoonfuls onto an oiled cookie sheet.
6. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until golden.

Recipe courtesy of Edith Myfist. Check out her blog at

Monday, April 18, 2011

Strawberry-Almond Granola Bars

These are so good:

Seriously, these may even be better than Roller Derby Granola Bars. Of course, I do consider these to be derby food. Why, you ask? Because when I'm skating for two hours at a time an average of four or five days a week, I'm always starving. But because I don't want to overcompensate in calories consumed, I've been trying to snack healthily and often. I figure this is how high school kids must feel. It's been long enough that I don't remember what it's like to be a teenager.

The author of the original recipe (whom I adore!) insists that she's the most impatient person ever. I may disagree. I shortened her recipe a bit. Also, I needed granola bars rather than bits of granola, so I didn't toss it throughout.

I took photos of this process and the end product. Then my phone mysteriously deleted a bunch of pictures. WTF.

By all accounts, these are DELICIOUS.

I need to start buying honey in bulk.

Strawberry Almond Granola Bars
(makes 12 granola bars)

2 cups oats
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup mini almonds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup honey
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup strawberry puree

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, microwave butter. Stir in all other ingredients.
3. Press into sprayed 9x9 pan.
4. Bake until slightly browned, about 45 minutes.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Curried Udon Stir-Fry

The Other Kelly started this by sending me a recipe:

Let me start off by saying that this is one of the more involved recipes I've made. It's not that it's difficult, per se, but it did take longer than I usually spend making dinner during the week. In all, it probably took 45-60 minutes. And it was so delicious that it was worth every minute. But I would not call this a beginner recipe.

It might also be beneficial to read the original recipe for clarification. Just don't be frightened! Be patient, but this is going to be so worth it.

I started with four bundles of organic udon I'd had been staring at in my cupboard for waaayyyy too long. You could use as a little as two, but I'd say three would be perfect.

Cook these according to the package and the drain them.

In a separate saucepan, start the roux. I must admit, rouxes scare me. So does trying to make roux plural. This is my first time not screwing up a roux.

Once it smells toasty and looks almost caramel-colored, add the peanut butter. Stir with a whisk. Yum!

In the biggest skillet you have (or a wok), fry some sliced onions and sliced tofu in a little oil for about four minutes. Cook them longer than this picture shows.

Add some chopped broccoli and sliced red peppers. Or green peppers if you don't dislike them like I do.

Cook those until the veggies are all soft.

Toss the cooked udon on top of all this, and cover that with low-sodium soy sauce. Stir-fry a couple minutes.

Then add the sauce and stir to coat. Add water if it's too thick or dry.

Plate it up and try your hardest not to eat every last bit.

Curry Udon Stir-Fry
(serves 4 for dinner)

1/2 pound dried udon noodles
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, sliced
1 teaspoon dried ginger
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 package extra-firm tofu, sliced
1/2 pound broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized chunks
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons soy sauce

1. Prepare the udon first: Cook the udon according to the package directions, about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse well with cold water.
2. Next, prepare the curry roux sauce: Combine the flour and 2 tablespoons peanut oil in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture browns to the color of caramel and smells toasty, about 10 minutes. Stir in curry powder and cook for another minute while stirring constantly. Switch to using a wire whisk, then pour 1/2 cup of water slowly. Whisk in the sugar and cook the roux, stirring constantly, until a thick sauce forms, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
3. To prepare the stir-fry: Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick skillet or a wok and cook the sliced onion and tofu for 5 to 6 minutes. Add the ginger and red pepper, and stir-fry for another 5 minutes, until the pepper starts to soften. Add the broccoli and stir-fry for 4 to 5 minutes, until it turns bright green.
4. If the udon is sticking together, rinse briefly in warm water and drain. Add the noodlesto the stir-fried vegetables, sprinkle with soy sauce, and stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Pour the sauce over the stir-fry and stir to coat everything completely with the sauce. Add a little water. Stir and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the sauce is simmering and the noodles are warm.
6. Remove from the heat and serve.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Goat Cheese Breakfast Soft Tacos

On a usual hungry weeknight, my only mission was to use up leftover herbed goat cheese my husband mixed together when he made me pizza. I was planning about as well when I'd gone to the grocery store the weekend before, so I had some mushrooms on hand and no particular purpose for them. So I sliced some mushrooms and put them to cook in some butter.

Repeat after me: Butter is good. Butter is good for you. I love butter.

Unless you're vegan. Then I'll excuse you. But only then.

Once those were sufficiently cooked, I added a wee bit more butter and two stirred-up eggs.

Scramble until the eggs are cooked. I don't like any egg goo. Sometimes I can't even bring myself to eat eggs, so when I do, they're DONE.

Then spread goat cheese on whole-wheat tortillas, or any ol' tortillas.

Put half of the filling in each.

Turn the stove off, but use the residual heat in the pan to melt the cheese in both sides of both soft tacos.

Flip after about 15 seconds per side.

This was a filling dinner, but I'd say this would feed two people for a light breakfast.

I'm beginning to think I need to create a Quesadilla label, there are so many on here!

Goat Cheese Breakfast Soft Tacos
(serves 1-2)

1 handful of mushrooms, sliced
2 eggs
1 tbsp butter
3 oz goat cheese
2 wheat tortillas

1. Saute mushrooms in butter.
2. Add scrambled eggs and cook until firm.
3. Spread goat cheese on tortillas.
4. Fill tortillas with eggs and mushrooms.
5. Turn off stove and heat all sides of "tacos."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Easier Sweet Potato Chili

Have you tried my Vegan Sweet Potato Chili yet? If not, you really should. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

However, I do realize that some people have children and/or are far busier than I am. During the week, most of the time I don't want to wait long enough for something like chili to cook. Enter: Shortcut vegan chili!

Chop up a sweet potato or two. This is one. I also threw in some diced red onion because I had some that needed to be used up. Cook these in a little oil on medium to medium-high until soft enough to bite.

Next, drain but don't rinse a can of black beans.

Dump the can of beans into the pot. Add enough salsa to get the consistency you want. I used about half a cup of medium chunky Pace Picante. I go through TONS of this salsa.

Stir and keep cooking until it's all warmed through.

Serve in cute little bowls and eat! This went from unwashed potatoes to eating dinner on the couch in about 20 minutes.

A couple days later, I ate microwaved leftovers with a little leftover herbed goat cheese. Oh. My. God. I vow to try to always eat it this way from now on. Obviously, it would cease to be vegan at that point, if you care about that.

Easier Sweet Potato Chili
(serves 2-3)

1 sweet potato, cubed
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 can black beans, drained
1/2 cup salsa

1. Wash and dice sweet potato. Cook in saucepan on medium-high until soft enough to eat.
2. Add black beans and salsa. Cook until warmed through.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chicken Yummy

What you will need:
1 roll of croissant rolls in a can
1/3 of a package cream cheese
10-12oz of chicken in a can

Red, green, orange or yellow peppers
Various peppers and spices

Preheat the oven to the temperature required to cook the croissant rolls. Then you will need to get a medium mixing bowl, open and drain the chicken. Empty the contents into the bowl and with the back of a fork.

Separate the chicken into smaller pieces/strands of chicken! Next take your third of a pack of cream cheese and cut it into smaller chunks and add to the chicken. With the fork, blend it together until it becomes a nice mess of chicken and cream cheese. Next you can add you optional flavorings, I have 2 special favorites that I like:

1) Chicken Tikka Masala spices. Locally you can get these from the River Market or World Market in addition to the onion and peppers.
2) Franks Buffalo Wing Sauce. (If you use a liquid to flavor your Yummies, go ahead and use a little less cream cheese.)

Next step is to open the croissant rolls and join 2 triangles together. Or for a rectangle for pouch-making, you can gently squish the 2 edges together for a seal. Once that is done, you can place them on a large baking sheet and begin to fill one half of them with the mixture. (Be sure to leave room around the edges to seal them.) There is enough to fill all 4 rectangles. Then you fold over the croissant pouches and begin to crimp the edges to close them up. Follow the directions for cooking the croissants, and within 10 minutes you'll be eating the Yummies!

The best thing about this recipe is that you can change the chicken out for tuna, or even mushrooms. The flavorings that you put in are completely up to you, and you can even go with the garlic-butter croissants. The possibilities are endless, as are the flavor combinations! Its a quick and cheap option that takes 25 minutes to prepare and cook. They freeze well and they microwave well, so its a very awesome addition to your food arsenal.

Note: Today's post is from Dead Girl Derby ref and Cooking on Skates guest Sir Rink Pain.

Monday, April 11, 2011

(Almost) Sugar-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you have the brown-sugar version of Splenda, you can make these completely sugar-free. Otherwise I use all regular Splenda and add a little molasses to make up the flavor difference.

While I think all sugar-free baked goods are a little lacking behind their full-sugar counterparts, I must say that these are about the best I've ever had! The recipe is my own original, modified from my regular chocolate chip cookie recipe. These are lower-carb than usual, but I wouldn't say low-carb because of the flour.

And I didn't take pictures, but I can promise you that these look like my other chocolate chip cookies! My dad didn't like them, but my mom (hi, mom!) wouldn't let me take them back home with me.

Try making these for any diabetics you know and love. Anyone dieting on South Beach or Atkins (some people still do!) would like them as well, but I estimate these at about 8 effective carbs each.


(Almost) Sugar-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
(makes about 24)

2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup butter-flavored Crisco
2 cups Splenda
2 tbsp molasses
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 bag sugar-free chocolate chips

1. Soften butter in microwave.
2. Mix in Splenda, molasses, eggs and vanilla.
3. Add baking soda, salt and flour. Mix until combined.
4. Add the chocolate chips.
5. Ball into cookies and bake at 350 until just starting to brown. Let cool before transferring to a plate. Store in a Ziploc bag or airtight container.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Eat Veggie Anywhere

I am more and more food-snobby every day. To be honest, I don't even like most fast food anymore. But because most fast food restaurants can only provide me with ice cream and french fries as vegetarian options anyway, this works out pretty much all right. Fortunately, there are some nationwide restaurant chains that do have really good veggie offerings.

Planet Sub (
This isn't completely nationwide, but I love it so much that I could eat there every day. Not that I would, but I could if I could afford it! They have more vegetarian sandwich options than any chain I know of, and they're all amazing. And I love that the first one (a Yello Sub) was in Lawrence, Kan.

Panera (
My husband and I eat at Panera disproportionately often. I almost always get a Mediterranean veggie sandwich, sub whole-grain bread, with half a salad or broccoli cheese soup. The broccoli cheese soup isn't quite vegetarian, but I love it too much to give it up. They do have a couple vegetarian soups that are pretty good, though. There's also a tomato-mozzarella panini, but I've never tried it. If I'm not very hungry, I'm happy with a fruit smoothie and a bagel.

Noodles & Co. (
This place has TONS of veggie options, and you can choose to add organic tofu to just about anything. They have vegetarian pastas, soups, salads, appetizers and sandwiches. But they have so many meat-containing options that I can go here with just about anyone, and everyone's happy.

Pei Wei (
This is one of my favorite Asian restaurants, and definitely my favorite nationwide Asian chain. Lots of meatless and tofu-containing options, all of which are clearly marked on the menu. Huge portions, so I always plan on taking home half.

Chipotle (
I probably like Chipotle less than anyone I know, but I'm always up for it if someone else suggests it. The nice thing is that everything is made-to-order in front of you, so you can be as vegan, vegetarian or carnivorous as you like. If you're worried about the often-high calorie counts, go for a Bol and pass on sour cream, guacamole and cheese. Personally, I pick one of the three and pass on the other two.

Thanks for everyone's suggestions on Kansas City-area vegetarian spots! Share your favorite chain here as well. I will say that Burger King has a veggie burger, but I'm just not very excited about it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My Favorite (Weird) Sandwich

Everyone thinks I'm crazy the first time they see this sandwich. "Apples and peanut butter, sure. But I just can't eat that." But most of the time if I can convince someone to take a bite, suddenly they see the light. This is an amazing sandwich. Unorthodox, but delightful. And wonderfully healthy.

Start with some whole-grain bread. I usually have something like that on hand, and this time I used this:

Two pieces. Surely you know how to make a sandwich.

Slice an apple. I use a little less than half an apple for this. I happened to have an organic Braeburn on hand. Your favorite apple will work great. Granny Smith are especially strange but wonderful in this.

Sliced sharp cheddar cheese. As always, whatever cheese is in your fridge will suffice. Personally, I'm a sharpest-possible cheddar girl. For this particular sandwich, it makes a great contrast to the other ingredients.

Whatever nut butter you have. I've had this sandwich with cashew butter and loved it. I've made it tons of times with various peanut butters. This time my natural peanut butter was getting to the bottom of the jar and difficult to spread, so I used almond butter. It's all good.

Again, I don't REALLY like carrots, but one of the two times I've had this sandwich in a cafe, they put carrots on it. It's a nice way to round out the other ingredients, get some extra crunch and add a color. Chop up a carrot or baby carrot. Someone left some already-sliced carrots at my house, so I had no excuse not to use some this time.

Squish together and eat! I took this for lunch and it held up nicely in Tupperware for a few hours.

What "weird" sandwiches do you like to eat?

Cheddar Apple Sandwich
(makes 1 sandwich)

2 pieces whole-grain bread
1/2 apple, sliced
Sliced sharp cheddar cheese
2 tbsp nut butter
Carrot matchsticks

1. Assemble sandwich.
2. Eat sandwich.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

KC Area Veggie Restaurants

As soon as I stopped eating meat, I enjoyed eating out less. Every restaurant had the same mediocre black bean burger or portabella monstrosity. Seriously? Known for barbecue, I didn't think Kansas City would be especially veggie-friendly, but I've found some local businesses that I think do vegetarian options quite well.

Waldo Pizza (75th and Wornall)
Not only is this my favorite pizza anywhere in the world, they have an impressive bar menu, as well as vegan and gluten-free cheeses, toppings and desserts.

FUD (813 W. 17th St., KCMO)
All menu items are vegan and many are raw diet-friendly. Don't get the jack "phish" unless you want your food to taste like fish because it really does! Small and adorable, but not fast or quiet. Hit this place up at a weird time of day when you can relax and wait for your food.

Crossroads Coffeehouse (310 Southwest Blvd., KCMO)
This is absolutely my favorite coffee shop. They offer rice and soy milks for their drinks. They have meatless quiche and breakfast burritos, as well as a vegetarian soup at least most days. Sandwiches are made-to-order and delicious without any meat.

Westport Coffeehouse (4010 Pennsylvania Ave., KCMO)
Great coffee and sandwiches. Wonderful staff and delightful atmosphere.

Broadway Cafe (4106 Broadway St., KCMO)
What can I say, I love coffee shops. This place has good pastries, coffee and sandwiches. Many vegetarian options most of the time. And it's the first place I had my favorite sandwich!

McCoy's (4057 Pennsylvania Ave., KCMO)
Best black bean burgers around. Lots of vegetarian and some vegan options. Plus I hear the beer's good as well. My non-veggie husband and friends love this place, too. Johnny's Tavern is similar and has a good veggie burger if there's one closer to you.

Mi Ranchito (six locations in Johnson County)
This place is surprisingly accommodating and veggie-friendly. I usually get a veggie quesadilla or burrito, but the last time I went there was a new vegetarian item on the menu. Because I tend to eat my weight in the best chips and salsa anywhere, I don't order a lot of food. I'm thrilled that this place is so willing to make things meatless for me because I'm sad to no longer eat their chicken tamales.

Eden Alley (707 W. 47th St., KCMO)
I'm not a huge fan of the Plaza area in KC, but this restaurant makes it worth going downtown. The entire menu is vegetarian and most items can be made vegan. The patio is delightful, and the inside is nice as well. Most non-vegetarians I've known that have gone there have enjoyed their meals. If I had the money, I'd consider eating here at least once a week.

Mud Pie Vegan Bakery and Coffeehouse (1615 W. 39th St., KCMO)
Yesterday was my first visit to this all-vegan bakery, and already I'm hooked. You wouldn't guess that their cupcakes are vegan, and they come in mini- and mega-sizes. Coffees are made standard with soy milk, but other non-dairy milks are available, including hemp, cashew and sunflower.

There are certainly others, but these are some of my favorites. Anywhere that I can get a great veggie meal and my husband can order a burger makes me really happy. Then everyone wins.

For dessert, grab a huge cupcake from my favorite KC sugar dealer, Cupcake a la Mode (1209 W. 47th St., KCMO). They don't usually have vegan cupcakes in their case, but I think you can special-order them. As a non-vegan vegetarian, I'm addicted to this place.

Where do you eat vegetarian out? Did I miss a good Kansas City spot?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Magic Meaty Mushrooms

By "magic" mushrooms, I really just mean delicious mushrooms. For "special" mushrooms of any kind, I'm not your girl. While I may be quirky, I'm pretty darn square.

So delicious mushrooms, huh? These were kind of an experiment, but I'm really pleased with how they came out. I started out by slicing a package of baby portabellas in half. I'd guess you could use just about any mushrooms, but I like the texture of these. Cremini would work as well, but they're gillier. (Gillier = having more gills. Obviously.)

To these I added some soy sauce (I'll use low sodium in the future), worcestershire sauce and honey (not pictured, again obviously).

Mix all that up a bit to coat.

Cook over low heat.

Keep cooking until you taste them and they're delicious!

These have a delightfully hearty and meaty texture. That's not to say that they taste like meat, which they don't. That's one of the reasons I like them. But they're a great side dish, if you ask me. And they were delightful alongside some homemade pierogies!

Quick Sauteed Mushrooms
(makes about two cups)

1 package mushrooms, cut in halves
1/4 cup soy sauce (approx)
1/4 cup worcestershire (approx)
1/4 cup honey (approx)

1. Combine all.
2. Cook over low heat until desired texture, about 15 minutes.