Partaaaay!

Yep. I’m lame. But it’s my birthday, so I’ll dance if I want to.

You know where it’s always a party? Times Square!

Taxi-tastic!

🙂

Grand Central Station. Glam.

“I have a big head, and little arms!”

MSG!

Sp

Fenway Park 🙂

Which inspired this…

I legitimately went on a Green Monster rampage and bought a shirt that says Green Monstah. I may or may not have worn it four times in the few days that I have been home.

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

Boston Common!

You know I used copious amounts of hand sanitizer after this.

Honestly, I felt like I’d won a dream vacation when I went on this trip. It was a party the whole time! 🙂 I had such a fantastic adventure, and I’m so glad I can share my experiences with you all through my blog. I couldn’t help but want to pass on the happiness from One Lucky Duck…which leads me to the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The winner of my $10 One Lucky Duck gift card!

*drumroll please*

And the winner of the One Lucky Duck giftcard, randomly chosen by random.org, is commenter #28, Alex from Spoonful of Sugar Free!

Congrats, Alex. Drop a comment here with your e-mail and I’ll send red rover …erm..your gift card on over.

Thanks to everyone who entered, you really made my first giveaway a great success. I’ve got another one planned for pretty soon, so be in the lookout for it 🙂

Now I’m off to enjoy my day and party. Cause I want to.

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Know Your Limits

July 28, 2010

Time for a non-food related post!

But before I get to the good stuff, let me remind you that you have one day left to enter my giveaway. I’ll randomly pick a winner on my birthday, July 30th.

Anyway, on to the crux of the matter.

This is a representation of me this evening:

This is an artist’s interpretation of me post-running this evening:

I was spent. Exhausted. Pooped.

I ran with Caitlin and Emma tonight, and something was totally off for me from the beginning. My knee was being a brat and then I got a nasty stitch in my side about halfway in. I managed to last about 2.8 miles (I think?) before my knee said NO and I had to stop. The whole way home my stomach and chest were aching and I had to pull over at one point, taking deep breaths.

When I was halfway home, I realized my problemo.

I’m completely burned out.

You see, I decided a few weeks ago to up my exercise to five to six days a week, an hour a pop, switching between cardio and weight/circuit training. It’s been good for the most part – I’ve discovered my love for weight lifting (there will be a post on that soon, trust) and I’ve also learned to be more adventurous with my cardio (i.e. doing quarter mile sprint intervals on the dreadmill instead of chugging along on the elliptical for 50 minutes). But that’s about it.

I’ve never been one to dread going to the gym. Perhaps it’s the supa cute guy that runs the desk (and occasionally bends over to wipe off the bottom of the treadmills…mmm), or maybe it’s the fact that I feel super inspired and love running on the treadmill next to the others. I think I just like an excuse to be sweaty in public.

Creeper.

I think tonight I realized what I should have learned weeks ago…that working out six days a week, an hour a pop was only going to lead to guilt when I couldn’t fulfill my high expectations. Essentially, I was opening the door to my previous behaviors. I was starting to feel how I felt back in my compulsive exercise days – guilty, worried, and anxious. If I wasn’t “good enough” or didn’t work out for quite enough time, I would obsess over how I could do better. I once again started a food and exercise journal, and I found myself in a vicious spiral once again. A few days ago, I even Tweeted that I felt guilty for eating dark chocolate as well as having a scheduled rest day. Um, hello?!

My body was trying to tell me it was tired tonight. Caitlin made me stop running tonight because my knee was hurting me, but I was trying to ignore it (Thank you, Caitlin!!). I felt like I was weak, like I was quitting. I’ve run 10 miles before, why can’t I do this 3 mile loop? But you know what I figured out?

You’re not quitting if you’re listening to your body.

So, body, I’m going to start listening to you more. If that means skipping a workout to rest, that’s okay. If it means cutting my gym sesh short (and seeing Cute Butt Desk Guy less), that’s just dandy. I’m not going to die and the world won’t blow up because I missed a workout. Because it’s all gonna be okay in the end. And if it’s not okay, it’s not the end (thanks to whoever said that!).

And I think my body’s trying to tell me what it wants right now:

I’m so down.

Looking for my giveaway? Click here!

You know the phrase: When in Boston…. visit Chinatown?

Apparently.

Despite having our map (as well as a good dose of shame for our touristy ways) and the help of two friendly subway workers, we still got lost. But it wasn’t our fault – the one station we needed just happened to be shut down for construction. We totally didn’t have to ask the same woman for directions twice. Of course not. Despite our setbacks, we discovered that the subway in Boston, called the T, is so much easier to get around on than the one in New Yawk. Everything is color coded for people who tend to get lost. AKA, me.

When we eventually made it to Chinatown we just had to make like tourists (because the map just isn’t enough) and do this:

I so wish I was Asian.

(By the way, that’s how I normally look on vacay. I call it my “trying to pass it off as curly” hair. Hot.)

At least we didn’t have fanny packs. I couldn’t find mine….what a shame. 😉

For real, you guys, Chinatown was friggin awesome. Maybe I just think this because I’d never been in a legitimate one before, or maybe because I have such a deep love for Asians and their culture. But the whole little area (it wasn’t very big at all) didn’t even feel like Boston. It was, dare I say, magical. Even though there was a lot of dirt, noise, and quite a few creepers. Oh yeah, and the shop owners got pissed that I had a camera in my hand even though I wasn’t going to take oodles of pictures of their goodies.

I just wanted this stunning display of good grammar.

Or maybe they only have one kite and one umbrella to sell?

I ❤ bad grammar.

I also ❤ those giant lanterns that  are all over the place, too… so this impulse buy (thanks again, Roomie!) became my birthday present.

I cannot tell a lie. Our room is gonna be bangin’ this semester.

After two hours of window shopping and sneaky picture taking in the stores, we were HANGRY. My vegan senses must have been tingling, because I had previously spotted a sign that said “Thai” and “vegan” in the same sentence. In fact, I had spotted it the moment we arrived in Chinatown. Way to go, VeganSenses. Man, do I love Boston.

You MUST eat here.

It was a little sketchy, to be honest. The restaurant, My Thai Vegan Cafe, was supposed to be on the second floor, but I think it was on the third. That or the stairs were magically growing as we walked up them. I was immediately hit with the horrid stench of cigarettes upon entering the stairwell and my legs were screaming at me. We’d walked over 35 miles in five days at this point, stayed up far too late, and had regular gym and sauna sessions. Stairs still aren’t my friends.

But the epic mountain stairwell climb was worth it.

Talk about cute!

Roomie and I were the only ones eating, which is why the restaurant was empty, if you’re wondering. What, you mean you don’t eat dinner at 4:30 PM?! 😛

The menu was huge and I was indecisive. It was a deadly combination.

This is the takeout menu…. there was more on the other side, and this didn’t include the selection of 100% fully vegan and delicious cakes, desserts, and bubble teas!

After perusing the menu for a good twenty minutes (the poor, poor lady who was serving us kept staring and wondering if we were illiterate), I decided to start off with Temple Soup.

A big ass bowl of warm coconut milk, butternut squash, sweet potato, pinto beans, and peanuts.

Holy. Crap. You guys, this was sweet and savory and slightly salty all at the same time. At first, I was hit with just the coconut milk, but that was quickly followed with the crunch and saltiness of a peanut and then the sweet, soft texture of the roasted butternut squash. And for 3.25 this was one heckuva bowl of soup.

Roomie got the miso soup. Classic.

I need to learn how to make this stuff.

I couldn’t believe I’d ordered a main course after this “starter” soup. My stomach was already in contented fullness, squash and sweet potato swimming away inside. But they’d have budge up and make room for the Pad Thai.

Yumtastic.

I’ve probably said this phrase far too many times for it to actually mean anything by now, but this dish was one of the best I’ve ever had. I think it’s the fact that it comes from an all-vegan kitchen, so there isn’t the bitter taste of worry in every bite… AKA “Oh lawd, is there oyster sauce in here?”

The worst part is that I was hoping to save some for breakfast lunch the next day, but there was no way that was happening. It was too good to stop eating it. I’m just that kind of person…. a pig. 😉

Roomie got the curried vermacelli. Smelled mm mmm good.

Chopstick skillz!

Of course, after massive obliteration comes massive full stomachs.

But that didn’t stop me from ordering something so fantastic, so amazing, so mindblowingly delicious that I just HAD to save it for later so that I could fully enjoy it. And I never do that.

Chocolatey heaven.

Obviously home made (with love), this was fresh and sweet, but not overly so. The menu said their cakes were sweetened without refined sugars, so I was worried the cake would be overly agave-sweetened (I don’t like the stuff as much as good ole maple syrup), but it wasn’t. There was the perfect balance between the dark chocolate, a hint of coffee, and sweetness.

This sucker was, without a doubt, the best vegan cake I’ve ever had. I don’t care how many times I’ve said that phrase now, ’cause I’m pretty sure nothing is going to come close to this cake for a looooong time. I don’t know how this baby lasted 12 hours in the hotel room, untouched by human hands.

Oh yeah, I do. It was the pad thai in my belly.

Nevertheless, I had the most decadent breakfast ever the next day to hold me over as we once again got lost on the T.

Do you have a great sense of direction, or do you tend to get lost a lot?


One Sexy Fruit

July 24, 2010

Looking for my giveaway?

No, I’m not talking about Neil Patrick Harris.

But isn’t he lovely?

I’m actually talkin’ bout a certain berry.

Look at that baby.

Strawberries are oh so healthy. Here’s a short list of some of the goodies packed inside these plump, juicy cuties.

-Vitamin C

-Potassium

-Folate

-Flavanoids and antioxidants

-Iodine

-Fiber

-Zinc (which is why Gillain McKeith calls them a “sexy” fruit *cough*)

-Amazing taste!

I love summer because of strawberry season. It comes and goes rather quickly, but while it’s here, I love it. There’s a strawberry farm just about a half mile away from my house… so what could be better?

Erm… chocolate, actually.

I’ll tell you something: this girl‘s got it right. Life is so much better the chocolate way. In my humble opinion, there’s absolutely nothing better than drizzling chocolate on something, especially fresh strawberries. Besides, I can say it’s good for me if I use dark chocolate. 😉

Okay, not exactly dark. But I couldn’t find anything better in the store. 😦

A few weeks ago, when I discovered a rather ghetto panini press in my kitchen, this happened. I became obsessed with making warm, crisp sandwiches with gooey, comforting insides like bananas and peanut butter or pesto, tofu, and avocado. Mmm, creamy. That’s what inspired tonight’s panini.

Kahlua Soaked Strawberry and Chocolate Panini

Got your attention with the name, didn’t I? This sandwich is great for a “splurge” while still being pretty darn healthy. This would be perfect to give your date and it would probably make you look like a master chef. It’s decadent, warm, melty and chocolatey….and so much better than any panini Giada de Laurentiis might make (even if she does use pound cake instead of bread).

You’re gonna need:

1 cup of strawberries, sliced

2 tablespoons Kahlua or instant coffee

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 serving (or more!) of good dark chocolate

2 slices of whole wheat bread (I use Ezekiel bread)

First, get to work on soaking your strawberries. Just combine the sliced berries in a small bowl with kahlua and vanilla. Let it chill out in the fridge and absorb, mix, and mingle.

Don’t feel you have to use kahlua or any kind of alcohol in here – I think if they were just vanilla-soaked these devils would still be to live for. I rarely cook with alcohol, so this was a one-off splurge for me and I wasn’t even sure if it would work, to be honest. But it did. It soooo did.

It’s five o’clock somewhere.

I let it soak for about a half hour. Just be careful, ’cause you don’t want soggy strawberries!

Chop your chocolate into chunks and lay it on one slice of your bread. If it helps it stick, put a teeny amount of Earth Balance or vegan margarine on the bread. Then layer on your strawberries, a little more chocolate on top (just for good measure, right?) and pop it into a panini press.

Be patient…trust me, it might be tough, but wait it out and you shall get this:

Ooey gooey goodness.

Lemme say this: Best. Dinner. Ever.

The strawberries were warmed through and the vanilla flavor permeated throughout. That flavor was only improved by the flavor of hot, liquid crack. I mean…chocolate. And then I got to the crunchy, toasted crust that was laced with strawberry juices and extra chocolate and I think I passed out.

Because I didn’t want all of this mouth partying to end, I was inspired to have more chocolate and strawberries in my breakfast a la Katie. Hello, chocolate covered sundae for breakfast.  Um, it’s still healthy, right? 😉

Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Sundae…for Breakfast

I’ve been waiting for a chance for more strawberry banana smoothie oatmeal. You see, my precious blender that I bought over winter break didn’t even last a whole semester. The little baby was my precious green monster maker, but it sadly died in the line of duty. Being home for the summer means I have access to my mother’s fancy schmancy blender, which equals happiness.

And let’s face it, nothing is better than chocolate covered strawberries.

Git yo self:

1 frozen banana (that makes it creamy like ice cream! Trust.)

1 cup kahlua soaked strawberries (if you have leftovers…or regular old strawbz, if you aren’t feeling the ever so slight taste of alcohol at breakfast time, but who wouldn’t be? 😉 )

1/2 cup of almond milk

splash of vanilla

ice

dollop of dark chocolate PB

1/3 cup raw oatmeal

Toss everything but your chocolate and oatmeal into a blender that you wish was yours but it’s actually your mother’s  (hence the need for a magic bullet, hint hint 😉 ) and proess until smooth.

Pour over your oats and stir. Or pour into a bowl and top with oats. Or eat straight outta the blender.

Now the magic happens…. drizzle on just a smidge more dark chocolate  or peanut butter. Or both! My poison of choice? A teaspoon of this:

Magical.

You know, you could use One Lucky Duck’s raw chocolate truffle butter if you were to win my giveaway. Yay for plugs! Shame? What’s that?! 🙂

The end result was almost too pretty to eat. Almost being the key word.

What’s better than a healthy, filling, AND chocolatey breakfast?

Now I just have to figure out how to afford to incorporate chocolate into every meal for the rest of my life and I’ll be set. 🙂

What’s your favorite treat?

A Sweet Discovery

July 23, 2010

Okay, so I thought I should let you guys know that I’m back in the dirty dirty. I didn’t blog and wasn’t really supa active in the blogosphere while I was gone, so I apologize for the lack of life. Anyways, onwards and upwards we go.

New Yawk was amazing. Bawston was immense. Posts from here will be about the trip for a while, cause I have a lot to say, mmmkay? I promise I won’t be boring. 🙂

Goodbye, New York! Hello, Boston!

Such pretty architecture,

I will own this one day.

Great views,

and a crap ton of cute shops.

(This reminded me of you, Mama Pea!)

And amongst all our shopping and dropping, Roomie and I made an amazing, fabulous, epic, and very sweet discovery today, nestled among rows and rows of fancy and uber expensive boutiques… a cupcake store! But not just any old cupcake store.

This brand new and oh so adorable little cupcake shop was called Sweet. You’re gonna see this word so many times it’s going to stop making sense… don’t you hate when that happens? Sweet sweet sweet sweet sweet…..

Everything was pink and there was a large chandelier over our table. How cute is this place?! It was as if it came out of a fairy tale or a dream. Everything was sleek, modern, and PINK!

Adorbs.

The menu was pretty extensive, and the selection in the case was even bigger.

Of course, I instantly saw the bestest cuppycake flavor within a few moments of being behind the counter. My cupcake senses were tingling.

CHOCOLATE.

I feel like the decision to buy this little gem had been made even before I walked into the store. It was fate. Destiny. Whatever you want to call it, me and that little cupcake were meant to be together forever.

Happy cupcake face!

Adorable Roomie and her red velvet cupcake.

I can’t remember the last time I had a good cupcake. And by good, I don’t mean the crappy Betty Crocker kind or the one that comes in a box from the grocery store. I mean a made-from-scratch-with-oodles-of-love-inside kind of cupcake. The ones that make your heart sing and your taste buds dance. To be honest, I can’t remember much of this cupcake, but only because it BLEW my freaking mind.

Roomie tested, Roomie approved.

This is the part that I’m supposed to show you pictures of the inside and how moist (ew, I hate that word), soft, and chocolate-y this sucker was. But I was too busy having multiple parties in my mouth to remember to take pictures. Just imagine the best cupcake your grandmother/mommy/lover/private chef could ever bake for you and then make it even better. That’s how good this was.

That’s why I have a sad-last-bite face.

Now I just wish we had a vegan cupcakery in the dirty dirty. Until we do, I’ll be singing.

Have you ever made an epic, tasty, fantastic discovery?

PS – don’t forget to enter my giveaway!

There’s a giveaway in this post! 🙂

On our second (and last) day in NYC, I was persuasive lucky enough to get to visit One Lucky Duck, the takeaway shop attached to Pure Food & Wine.. Do a Google search for “vegan food in NYC” and I can guarantee you One Lucky Duck will be on the top five places listed, along with Babycakes vegan bakery. Admittedly, One Lucky Duck wasn’t first on my list. Babycakes NYC was…because let’s face it, I hadn’t had a legit cupcake in the longest time and I was jonesing for a refined sugar free high. It’s hard to make good vegan cupcakes.

When we realized that Babycakes was 3.66 miles away from the hotel we were staying at (and I couldn’t make Roomie and her mum walk over 7 miles for vegan food), I looked up where One Lucky Duck was. 1.2 miles? Right on. 1.2 miles in the heat? Major suckage. By the end of our trip there, my jeans were stuck to my legs like jeggings (what the heck are those things all about?!?) and I could feel the sweat dripping down my back. My feet were aching (by this time, we had walked over a marathon distance as well as running at ze gym) and I knew blisters were well on their way.

But it was worth it. Soooo worth it.

Super cute!

The menu was so intense. I wanted it all.

The first thing I noticed when I walked inside was the super chill atmosphere. There was some music playing in the background – perhaps The Decemberists – and the decor was abso-freaking-lutely adorable. One wall, painted red, had pictures of ducks and stringed lights hanging from the ceiling. I took a picture, but it ended up blurry. 😦 Sad times.

The other wall, however, was full of DELICIOUSness.

O hai, Roomie!

These little pouches of goodness are worth the ridiculously expensive prices. Seriously… despite the fact that I spent $25 on an epic smoothie, cookies, and crispies. But you’re paying for amazing quality. Everything in the shop is raw, vegan, gluten and refined sugar free, and it’s also organic. And orgasmic.

On to the eats!

Banana-nut-crackcocaine smoothie.

This little treat was so tasty, I couldn’t stop sipping it. I was surprised I made it out the door with a fifth left in the cup. The first thing that hit me when I took that glorious first sip was bananas and then a hit of cinnamon. I think they put a loaf of banana bread into the vitamix. It was frothy, rich, creamy, and just how a milkshake should be. On such a hot day, it didn’t leave me with an overly sweet mouth and desperate for a sip of water.

I was also surprised that the chocolate crispies that I bought lasted the train ride to Boston. They made the four hours of reading about Hitler and the Cold war soooo much better. These crispies are intended to go in cereal, kind of like raw cocoa pops, but there was no way these babies were going to make it another week – I had a long arse train ride as well as a trip on a plane to make it through. I needed these.

Organic buckwheat, organic maple syrup, organic maple powder, organic cocoa powder, organic vanilla extract, Himalayan crystal salt.

What?! Where’d they put the crack? Cause these things are good eats… even if they weren’t cereal-ized.

Which is why this demolition happened approximately two hours later in the hotel room…They lasted a whole 8 hours!

One Lucky Duck luckily, I still had something chocolate-y and fantastic up my sleeve.

Chocolate chip heroin cookies.

(seriously, why do I keep adding addictive substances to these cookies?! They must have put ’em in there, how can something raw taste so great?)

These adorable heart-shaped cookies were fantastic. Phenomenal. “Fantasmagasmic,” as Roomie says.

I wish I could tell you guys how much I loved this place. But I just can’t put it into words. I now understand why One Lucky Duck is a must. Why it’s on so many vegan websites, featured in magazines, and why it’s so well known. I understand why people can “do” raw food without missing things like cookies, chocolate cereal, and ice cream.

Sarma, you are a goddess.

So do you want to be a lucky duck too?! Well read on, my friends! That’s right, I’m hosting a GIVEAWAY!

One Lucky Duck Gift Card

One lucky duck reader is going to receive a $10 gift card to One Lucky Duck’s online store, sent straight to their e-mail address. With those ten buckaroos, they can get some [help in buying] fantabulous snacks, great books, or wonderful body products. We’re talking macaroons, chocolate bars, cookies, chocolate truffle butter (!!!!), and *Atisana* products. You do not want to miss out on this, take it from me. The best part is that the heroes at One Lucky Duck will ship their store products worldwide, so this contest is open to everyone and anyone!

How to enter:

1.) Leave a comment on here telling me  your best restaurant experience and why. Or bribe me with chocolate. 😉

2.) Tweet about this and let me know. (You can follow me on twitter @southernbritish)

3.) For an extra entry, link to this on your blog and post that in your comment, too!

You will automatically win if you buy me chocolate.*

I will randomly pick a winner one week from today.

Good luck, ducklings!

*not really…sorry.

Noms: Gnu Food Bar

July 20, 2010

My first NYC breakfast probably wasn’t what you’re expecting. I didn’t go to Babycakes and pick up a cupcake (though I totally would do that, regardless of the time of day) and I didn’t find a small, chic café and sip on a soy-no-whip-mocha-vanilla-chino something with a newspaper in my hand. After a 6am flight (that meant getting up at 4 to make it to the airport in time! Brutal!) I was in no mood to be chic or fancy. So instead of going to a restaurant, I experienced my first NY take out deli. It was everything I hoped for and more.

Loud, busy, and full of people behind the counter, belting out people’s orders. The lights were dim and there were fingerprints all over the counter tops. There were even flies in the seating area. A public health student’s nightmare. The cooks taking the orders were pretty ruthless, taking orders at the speed of light and frying, grilling, chopping, and speaking with a thick Spanish New York accent. At first, I was kind of intimidated because I didn’t want to be that complicated vegan and order something no one would be able to make. And then I realized that there wasn’t really anything vegan on the menu and even if there was, it would probably be cooked on the same surface/with the same utensils and gloves as the meat…so that would just be a waste of time.

So I picked up some local-looking bar that was vegan as well as an apple and a banana. When I say local, I mean the company is based in NYC (I think).

Hey there, Gnu Foods!

This little sucker was apparently a Peanut Butter flavor, and it was vegan so I decided to give it a try. Apparently one bar has about half of your daily fiber needs with 12 grams packed in there, and the bird on the wrapper felt the need to tell me that the roughage really is stuffed in there.

TMI, little buddy.

What creeped me out a little bit more was the visible mechanical innards of a cow. I guess this wrapper is just… creative.

Moo…. *beep*

Upon further investigation, I found just what that cow is doing on the wrapper.

“The Gnu has an ox-like head, the mane of a horse, and the horns of a buffalo. It may look unusual from the outside, but inside, it functions beautifully. Flourishing in the grasslands and plains of Southern and Eastern Africa, the gnu lives in balance with nature” (from Gnu Foods’ website).

Creepy label aside, this bar wasn’t really something to write home about. The ingredients list was relatively short with no weird chemicals or refined grains. The fiber came from 6 legit sources (whole grains) and there were no refined or added sugars. The ingredients list made me a happy vegan.

Gnu High Fiber Blend™ (whole rolled oats, organic whole wheat flour, wheat bran, organic kamut, psyllium, flax, millet), chicory root inulin, fruit juices, rice dextrins, rice, canola oil, peanuts, apples, plums, natural flavors, wheat protein isolate, salt, baking powder.

But I think the happiness kind of ended there. Once I took my first bite, I was less than impressed. The texture was pretty darn grainy, and I didn’t really get a taste of peanut butter. I got banana bread-y with a hint of flour-y wheat-y flavor.

Overall, if given the choice, I probably wouldn’t buy this bar again. For $1.50, it was only marginally cheaper than a Larabar, and I can easily get my fiber from other sources. The taste wasn’t too peanut buttery, and if I’m going to get a peanut butter bar, I want some peanut butter darnit. I think perhaps this bar was intended for people who eat nothing but white bread and meat?

Either way, the bird on the wrapper was right.