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Vegan Whoopie Pies!

If someone invents a new diet where all you are allowed to eat are Whoopie Pies from The Piping Gourmets, I’d do it. Even if the diet actually turned out to be a cult and you had to sign a billion year contract stating that all you would ever eat, for your next thousand lifetimes, are these whoopie pies, I’d still sign up in a hot second. 

These delicious little desserts are one of those products I’m really excited to share with you guys. They come in five flavor combos (you can see them all in the pic above), and they are:

  • Vegan
  • Gluten-Free
  • Kosher
  • Non-GMO

I found them in my local Whole Foods and Safeway stores, but there are stores all over, as well as online retailers. I chose the Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Frosting, Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Frosting, and Chocolate Cake with Mint Frosting. I wanted to try the Vanilla Cake/Frosting combo ones, but couldn’t locate them nearby. 

These were my favorite: 

I’m always a sucker for the chocolate-vanilla combination, no matter the dessert. They were sweet, but not too sweet, and they’re individually wrapped so they were perfect for an easy dessert where I didn’t have the temptation of eating more than I needed, like with an entire cake or pie. The Chocolate Raspberry was a close second, followed (also closely) by the Chocolate Mint. The raspberry and mint frostings had so much flavor, and contrasted really well with the chocolate. 

They come frozen from the store, which is also the best way to store them at home. Then, a few hours/days before you’re ready to eat them, just transfer them to the fridge…

Or…

Eat them straight out of the freezer. I tried this on my second one, as I hadn’t planned ahead and defrosted any. Surprise, surprise, this turned out to be my favorite way to eat them! The chocolate sticks to your fingers a bit more when they’re frozen, but if you keep the wrapper on to hold it while you’re eating, problem solved!

I’m so grateful to companies like The Piping Gourmets for creating delicious vegan products like this, and I definitely recommend you guys buy a box (or seven) the next time you’re at a store that carries them! 

 

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Nacho French Bread

Vegan Nacho French Bread | www.thatwasvegan.com

What on earth is Vegan Nacho French Bread, you might be asking yourself right now… Well let me tell you! It’s all the delicious toppings you’d put on nachos, except they’re on the carbolicious goodness that is toasty warm french bread.  So, sort of like nachos and french bread pizza had a baby, I guess.

I read Off The Menu on Thrillist every week (if you’ve ever worked in a restaurant, you’d probably enjoy it too), and one day this popped up in their sidebar. Theirs isn’t vegan of course, but I knew it would be easy (and tasty) to veganize. And, as always, I was right.

Vegan Nacho French Bread | www.thatwasvegan.com

Any toppings would work. I kept it pretty traditional with seitan crumbles cooked in taco seasoning, refried beans, tomatoes, onions, black olives, cheese and avocado. It does have one super secret special ingredient that really makes it work though… cream cheese! You can see a bit of it there, under the bean layer. It really added a surprise sweet layer.

Vegan Nacho French Bread | www.thatwasvegan.com

Okay, so no… this isn’t the healthiest meal, but damn was it delicious! 

Vegan Nacho French Bread | www.thatwasvegan.com


 

Nacho French Bread
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 loaf French bread, sliced in half lengthwise
  2. 1 loaf chicken-style seitan
  3. ~1 tablespoon olive oil
  4. 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  5. ~4 tablespoons vegan cream cheese
  6. 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  7. 1 jalapeno, diced
  8. 1/2 can vegetarian refried beans
  9. 1/2 onion, diced
  10. Sliced black olives
  11. Shredded vegan cheese (I used Daiya cheddar)
  12. Hot sauce
  13. Any other nacho-type toppings you'd like- guacamole, sour cream, salsa, green onions
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375. Place the bread, cut sides up, on a cookie sheet.
  2. Crumble the seitan in a food processor. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the seitan and taco seasoning and cook till lightly browned and a tiny bit crisp, 5-6 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Top the bread with cream cheese, spread evenly across the two pieces. Microwave the refried beans (in a bowl, not the can!), and add them on top of the cream cheese.
  4. Add the rest of your toppings, finishing with the cheese.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Feel free to stick it under the broiler for 30 seconds to a minute if needed.
  6. Top with any greens or hot sauce, cut, and serve hot!
Notes
  1. This makes 4 fairly normal-sized servings, but depending on how many additional toppings you add, it could stretch farther!
Adapted from Thrillist
Adapted from Thrillist
That Was Vegan? http://www.thatwasvegan.com/
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What I Eat When I’m Not Blogging #14

Happy Friday Friends! Hope everyone is ready for a great weekend- I know I am. Today is a big project day, getting the yard summer-ready. I’ll share pics as soon as I’m done.

And now a close-up look at some of the yummies I’ve been chowing down on!

I enjoyed a huge to-go bowl from Tokyo Joe’s one day, because I had a ‘free bowl’ coupon. I 💕 free food, haha! I built my own bowl with tofu, sweet potatoes, broccoli, water chestnuts, sweet onions and edamame. Yum!

What I Eat When I'm Not Blogging #14

I’m a huge fan of tofu scramble, even more so than some of the new egg replacers on the market. The other night I whipped up a batch of My Favorite Tofu Scramble and added in a can of Ro-Tel and enjoyed it with roasted potatoes and some Field Roast Chao cheese:

What I Eat When I'm Not Blogging #14

A couple mornings later, after a lovely hike with Teddy, I toasted an english muffin, added a little Earth Balance and had more of the scrambz:

What I Eat When I'm Not Blogging #14

Here’s another super easy meal I made- Just two small red potatoes “baked” in the microwave, topped with a slice of Daiya cheddar, salsa, and some green onions:

What I Eat When I'm Not Blogging #14

Annnnd another “baked” potato, this time a big ol’ sweet potato, only this time I mixed up a can of black beans with sweet corn and a bit of taco seasoning:

What I Eat When I'm Not Blogging #14

I ran out of potato before I ran out of topping, so I used some (along with another slice of Daiya) to make a quesadilla the next night:

What I Eat When I'm Not Blogging #14

My bestie Eric and I hit Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs again (I swear almost each of these ‘What I Eat’ posts has a Steve’s pic!), and I had the Chicago Veggie Dog and sweet tater tots:

What I Eat When I'm Not Blogging #14

Also, here’s a shot of us- I just love this guy. You know how some friends just get you, and it’s so easy to be around them, no stress to make conversation or to get along, you just chat and laugh the whole time? That’s us! He’s been there for me through some serious shit and crying-fests (me, not him. mostly) and I swear he helps keep me sane. 

My mom has been helping me with tons of DIY projects lately, and we always do lunch when we’re done. This day we went to Taj Mediterranean Grill, which is a local Denver chain. They’re similar to Garbanzos but better. And all their vegan options are clearly marked. I had falafel (which weren’t burnt, it was just weird lighting in this shot), with hummus, basmati rice, pickles, and spicy potatoes. 

What I Eat When I'm Not Blogging #14

After the next project we decided to choose from the prepared foods at my local Whole Foods, and I realized they were serving up the Beyond Burger! OMFG is that thing amazing! 

What I Eat When I'm Not Blogging #14

I got mine with lettuce, tomato and onions, Chao cheese, some kind of garlicky vegan mayo, and sweet potato fries. Look at that texture!! The most realistic veggie burger ever. Ever. 

What I Eat When I'm Not Blogging #14

And I’ll freely admit that we went back the next weekend too!

What I Eat When I'm Not Blogging #14

Okay that’s all I got- hope you guys have been eating as well as me! 

 

 

 

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Giveaway: Neat Egg and Neat Italian Mix

 

Giveaway: Neat Egg and Neat Italian Mix

Mmmmm meatballs! Or should I say, vegan Neatballs! The fine folks at Atlantic Natural Foods sent me a couple of their Neat brand products to try- The Neat Egg, an egg substitute for baking, and Neat Italian Mix, a flavorful meat replacement for Italian meatballs, spaghetti sauce and lasagna. Even better- they’re going to share them with a lucky reader as well!

The Neat Egg is all natural, derived from chia seeds and garbanzo seeds. Just two ingredients! The 4.5oz bag is the equivalent of 18 eggs, and is soy and gluten-free, as well as vegan and kosher. I’m no baker, so the only thing I’ve used it for so far is in the neatballs I’m about to show you. Bianca, AKA Crunk Master B, just did a review of the neat egg in cupcakes though, so you should check that out. 

I really liked the Neat Italian Mix! As soon as you tear the package open you can smell all the delicious seasonings they used. And it was super easy to turn into meatless balls- I just whipped together one neat egg (note: it appears that newer packages of the Italian Mix come with the neat egg already included, but mine didn’t), the mix, and some nutritional yeast (subbed in for Parmesan cheese), add a bit of water, and voila! Neatballs! I baked them in the over for about 18 minutes, and then this happened:

Giveaway: Neat Egg and Neat Italian Mix

Pasta, sauce, some diced peppers and onions… and my Neatballs. Delicious. The mix is made from pecans, garbanzo beans and spices, so these do have a “beanball” taste and texture, which is a good thing because I like beans! The outsides got nice and crispy in the oven, and they held together really well. Just like the Neat Egg, this mix is soy and gluten-free, and vegan and kosher. 

The Neat brand is more than just Italian neatballs and egg replacer though- they have ten mixes, everything from Cinnamon Pecan Pancakes to Mocha Dark Chocolate Cookies to Black Bean Brownies! And you can buy them nearly everywhere, it appears. The other day I actually noticed a few of their products on the shelf at my local King Soopers (I have my eye on the breakfast mix, because I loooove breakfast sausage sandwiches!).


The Giveaway

One lucky reader will win two packages from Neat: The Neat Egg Replacer, and the Neat Italian Mix! To enter, leave a comment below telling us your favorite way to eat meatballs. With pasta? On a sub sandwich? With some crazy sauce in a crockpot? You can also earn extra entries via social media. Contest ends Sunday, April 16th at midnight (mountain time). One winner will be chosen at random and announced the following day. Be sure and log your comment into the Rafflecopter to make it count. Open to residents of the US only, good luck!
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

*I was provided free product to review but the opinions are 100% mine!

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48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

photo credit

I’m very lucky to live in Denver, a really vegan-friendly city, but when I travel I love love LOVE eating my way through the vegan options in other cities. This week I had a quick work trip to DC, 48 hours exactly, and wow did I eat well!

Sunday afternoon:

First stop (after checking into my Alexandria hotel) was Sticky Fingers,  the famous all-vegan bakery and cafe Doron Petersan opened after winning Cupcake Wars with her delicious vegan cupcakes. Their menu is full of tempting foods, but I narrowed it down to the Loaded Sweet Potato Fries (with chili, house-made cashew cheddar & salsa, avocado, and a side of soy sour cream) and a cup of Cheesy Mac, with a coconut water to drink. And of course the book I was reading- American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst.

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

I went with two appetizers, rather than an entree, so that I could try more. I knew I’d likely only eat here this one time, so it made sense to me. It was still too much food though, I wasn’t able to finish everything. 

The Cheesy Mac was my favorite- so hot and creamy and flavorful! You could tell it was made with their own house-blend of cheesy goodness, and would have been perfect on its own, in the larger bowl portion!

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

I had expected the loaded fries to be my fave, because I love me some sweet taters, and nachos are always on my wish list, but sadly… they didn’t live up to my expectations. I mean, they were good- and I think if they had been prepared the way they were meant to be, they would’ve been fantastic! But while the fries themselves were hot, the toppings were all barely room temperature, even the chili. Oh well. They were still good, and I’d definitely recommend them, when made right. And of course, I could’ve complained and had them remade, but I just didn’t feel like it. 

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

I’ll try Sticky Fingers again the next time I’m in DC. I think it just wasn’t what I wanted that afternoon. I wanted a comfy place to sit and read my book and enjoy a glass of wine with my meal, which just isn’t Sticky Fingers. Which is okay! I think it would be the most fun place to have brunch with a group of friends, or to stuff my face with cupcakes. I’m sorry I didn’t order a boozy milkshake on my way out, but I was just too full. 

So I got back on the metro, stopped at the mall to see cherry blossoms, and then headed back to my hotel, with visions of sugarplums sparkling rosé dancing in my head. Unfortunately, our hotel (while close to the King St. station) wasn’t in Old Town. It was in a very business-park like area which not much in the way of restaurants or bars, so I ended up in my hotel bar, The Trademark. It was nice, but a little pricey and didn’t have a ton of options (although they did offer a Vegan Mushroom Ravioli entree for $24). I was still full, so I just had a glass of rosé (not sparkling, which made me sad).

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

In hindsight, I really wish I had saved Sticky Fingers for another day. I was tired from the flight and really wanted wine. Knowing myself I would’ve been happier finding a restaurant with both booze AND vegan options (like Busboys and Poets, my DC fave!). Lesson learned!

Monday afternoon:

I just had coffee for breakfast, and didn’t take a picture, but lunch was at the Census Bureau cafeteria, which isn’t actually that bad! I saw they offer a veggie burger, although I didn’t want to stand in line to ask if it was vegan. There were a lot of prepared foods, some of which looked like they might be good, but I settled on the salad bar, where I loaded up with baby greens, roasted beets, chickpeas, bulgar wheat, carrots, celery, tomatoes, edamame, sesame sticks and a little balsamic vinaigrette, with a side of prepared Asian veggie noodle salad. Because I’m an introvert, I shunned all my colleagues from the conference and ate by myself with my book, which made me happy 🙂

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

Monday evening:

When the conference ended at 5, I was back on the metro… this time headed to the Gallery Pl/Chinatown station. Destination? Busboys and Poets, of course! Of all the amazing restaurants I’ve tried in DC over the years, this is my favorite. I love the vibe (inclusiveness, political awareness, acceptance) and of course I love the food. Each time I’ve been, I’ve sat at the bar with my book and each time have ended up with the book down, chatting with the people next to me. 

And, each time, I’ve ordered something different from the menu… and there’s still so much to try! This time I went with the Coconut Tofu Bites, served with a plum-red pepper sauce. In my pregan days I was a big fan of coconut shrimp, and that’s EXACTLY what these tasted like, minus the cruelty! The sweet coconut they were fried in, along with that sauce!? Amazing. The best thing I ate on this trip for sure.

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

There were 10 or 12 of them on that plate, all hot and crispy and calling my name. But I’m proud to say I didn’t eat all of them myself! I started chatting with Ron, the guy sitting next to me. He was in his young 20’s and had been vegetarian for a few years, which I found very cool. I love meeting young veggies because they are totally the future of our movement. I also liked that he had lots of tattoos, just like me 🙂  Not all vegans and vegetarians are that stereotypical old hippies, you know!? And it didn’t hurt that he was cute af, haha. His friend wasn’t vegetarian, but had tried to go vegetarian in middle school after learning about the cruelties of using animals for food, which I thought was great, even though it didn’t stick. Anyway, I forced them to each try a coconut bite, because these things were just too good not to share! 

Anyway, I knew I needed some veggies, so I also ordered a side salad:

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

This was a side-sized portion of the Busboys House salad, a mix of baby kale, tomatoes, carrots, jicama, tons of sesame seeds, and an amazing yuzu vinaigrette. It was citrusy and a little sweet, just perfect. Other than worrying about the sesame seeds stuck in my teeth, I really enjoyed this salad.  And all this great food was washed down by a two pints of Devil’s Backbone Vienna Lager, a local beer from Virginia. Darker than what I usually like, but really good!

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

Oh, and then there was dessert! I really wasn’t hungry but after skipping sweets the day before, I was ready. Plus Busboys and Poets has a great vegan dessert menu:

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

So many options, but I went with the cheesecake, which happened to be raspberry swirl, and I’m glad I did. And I didn’t share a single bite of it!

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

Tuesday afternoon:

Coffee for breakfast again, before the final morning of our conference. When it ended at noon, I was back on the metro, this time headed to &Pizza, whose menu I had been drooling over all week! They’re a great company who pays a living wage to their employees- who in turn apparently love them so much, lots of them have &Pizza tattoos! 

It’s a casual place where you stand in a line choosing what you want on you ‘za, it goes through an oven and comes out by the cash register, all in the time it’s taken the line to move you that far along. Their menu includes vegan cheese and vegan “beef” crumbles, as well as a ton of veggies. Everything is clearly marked whether or not it is vegan AND as soon as you order vegan cheese, they ask “Is this a vegan pizza, or just dairy free?” So then, when I specified that it was vegan, it was marked as such through the rest of the process so that it wouldn’t come in contact with stuff I don’t wanna eat. They even had a special vegan pizza cutter at the very end, as they boxed it up!

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

I went with a build-your-own, with traditional dough, classic tomato sauce, and vegan mozzarella…. Then I had them add spinach, tomatoes, and vegan beef. After it was cooked, they offer what they call “Finishes”, and I chose fresh basil and a light drizzle of olive oil. It was so good! I ate the whole thing, and I don’t even feel bad about that!

Look how gooey and delicious!

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

&Pizza is a chain, so if you live in DC, Maryland, NY, Pennsylvania or Virginia, I recommend you get your butt there and order a pizza. I wish they’d come to Denver!

After stuffing myself with all that pizza, it was time to head back to the airport. I had a little time before boarding, so my trusty book and I found a bar near my gate, so I could have a glass of wine… but then I saw their taps:

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

Allagash Brewing is from Maine, named after a river there. It was also the name of my dad’s dog, who was totally his favorite child. Allie as we call her is still going strong, and we both miss my dad, so I just had to order a pint of their white, and it was really good.

Here’s a really cute shot of me and Allie, a few days after my dad’s funeral as I was about to leave for Colorado. Isn’t she cute? 

So that’s it! 48 hours and enough for for probably twice that, but who cares? I go to DC about once a year for work, so if you have any favorite spots there to recommend, let me know!

 

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When I first decided to travel to Puerto Rico, at least three different people immediately started talking trash about how I wouldn’t find anything to eat there, but like most people who trash-talk, they were so wrong. I ate so many delicious meals in San Juan, all vegan, all easy to find, and all well-priced. So please believe me when I say: There are a lot of vegan food options in San Juan! 

And I’m going to share them with you, along with everything else. 

This trip really had a lot to do with my 40 Before 40 goals. It was about pushing my boundaries, trying new things, and learning more about myself. Of course, this is what travel should always be about (plus relaxation, of course), but this was also my first solo trip. I haven’t decided if it’s going to count towards the “travel alone internationally” goal because PR is a US territory, but taking this trip was still a big step for me. I traveled alone, didn’t know a single person on the island before I arrived, and it was also my first time staying in a hostel! 

But let’s start at the beginning…

I arrived early Friday afternoon after taking the red-eye from Denver. Part of my badass plan was to take the bus whenever possible. Uber isn’t allowed to pickup at the airport in San Juan, so it was down to a $25 cab or a .75 cent bus ride. The bus was fine, and air-conditioned, which was the only thing I cared about at that point! I made it to the hostel (I stayed at Villa Eshta– 2 blocks from the beach!), changed and immediately hit the beach. BTW, Walid, who owns the hostel, was very impressed that I took the bus- apparently most people aren’t able to find it at the airport. Guess those Spanish lessons are paying off 😉 

I spent Friday afternoon sitting in the shade on the beach with my kindle, watching dogs play and enjoying the atmosphere. It seemed like everyone in PR had at least one well-loved dog, and they loved playing at the beach. Seriously, dogs everywhere. Buenos perros en todas partes! This big boy came running right up to me with his ball, begging me to throw it. Of course I obliged!

When I got too hot, I wandered over to Calle Loiza, the main street through that part of the city, where all the restaurants and bars and shops are. I wasn’t hungry and never looked at a menu, and don’t even remember the name of the place. All I wanted was AC and a cuba libre. Well, I started with one. Una mas, por favor!

I wandered back to the hostel where I met the other woman staying in my dorm, Jami from Toronto! We immediately became friends and decided to meet up later that evening for a drink. I cleaned up and headed out to find dinner, stopping at the beach one more time. I love the beach after sunset, but before it’s dark. It’s moody and colorful and special that time of day. 

Then I walked a few blocks to Ocean Park Cafe. I haven’t reviewed any of the places I’ve eaten on Yelp or Happy Cow yet, but I need to. They were all wonderful, but OPC is tied for first place. That first night I had Beefless Nachos which were made with a heavenly, spicy quinoa mix and served with chips made from a local root vegetable. I can’t remember what the veggie was called, but it was something I had never heard of, and tasted great. And healthier than tortilla chips! There were more chips than topping, so also got a small side of bean dip to go with it. Vegan food in Puerto Rico FTW!

The wonderful thing about OPC was that nearly half the menu was marked Vegetarian, and most of that was vegan or could be made vegan. And the staff spoke perfect English and completely understood what was and wasn’t vegan. They made it so easy for me that first night. Oh, and they also have a full bar which is important because you’re gonna want to drink some rum in Puerto Rico!

After dinner I met back up with Jami and we drank made our way up Calle Loiza. We were intending to meet a friend of hers in a more touristy area of the city, but ended up asking two guys on the street for directions (any excuse to practice mi español), and ended up spending the rest of the evening with them. They were locals, both so nice. Frank, the one in the glasses, also spoke English which helped. 

We hit a few more bars and then got very local- the entire city is apparently open container, so we bought a few beers to drink as we walked. When in Rome, right?

The second day I boarded the bus for Old San Juan. This is the part of the city that’s most photographed, and probably what people think of when they think of San Juan.

The buildings are full of amazing architectural detail, are painted soft Caribbean colors, and are beautifully decayed. Many of the streets are cobblestone, and even the alleyways are beautiful.

That last shot is of La Capilla Franciscana, a church built for St. Francis in 1756. Here’s a shot of the inside. Amazing.

Speaking of churches, I also stopped into the Cathedral Basilica San Juan Bautista, which was breathtaking. Also a bit overwhelming for a non Catholic. I sat in the pews for a while, just taking it all in. The church was built in 1521 and according to Wikipedia is the 2nd oldest cathedral in the Americas, which is mind-boggling to me. 1521 is mind-boggling to me! (Although, not as mind-boggling as when I was in Germany and visited a structure that dated back to BC times!)

I didn’t take a lot of pictures because it felt disrespectful. I just sat there in the cool(ish) shade and looked around and watched the people dabbing on the holy water, and looked at all the murals. It was peaceful.

But then it was time for Ben & Jerry’s. I purposefully avoided American chains (except for Walgreens- the only pharmacy near my hostel), but I feel like B&J’s deserves a pass because they’re awesome and definitely do not represent what America has become lately. So I got a milkshake made with almond milk, their dairy free PB and Cookies ice cream, and was very happy. 

I found a shady park nearby with a bunch of great, crazy art and drank that whole thing. And yes, it was a large. But hey, vacation, right? 

Is that a kitty cat dragon?

Sitting on a shady bench in that park, sipping my milkshake and people-watching was the first time I truly felt on vacation. You know that feeling, usually the second day or so, when it actually sets in that you’re in another city or another country and you don’t have any of those regular responsibilities on your shoulders and you can relax? This was that moment for me. It was also the first time I knew for sure that I really like solo travel. Being on my own schedule suits me, and not having to deal with other people when I don’t want to really suits me. 

Dinner that night was at my other favorite spot- Cafe Berlin. A fried tofu sandwich with plantains, hummus, lettuce, carrots, cukes, tomatoes, olives, and vegan cheese. A side of chips and a Medalla Light, my favorite PR local beer and a really good respite from rum. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian traveling to Puerto Rico, I really recommend this restaurant- they have some of the best vegan food in San Juan!

I’ve decided that I love plantains and plan to cook with them a lot more now that I’m back. I have a few recipe ideas in mind…  

The next day, Sunday, was The Beach Day. And it was The Best. 

I rented a lounge chair and an umbrella, and spent nearly 7 hours sprawled out in paradise. I had pre-loaded a few good beach reads on the kindle before I left, so I alternated between reading, bobbing around in the waves, and drinking ice cold Medalla Lights that a few nice men were selling from their coolers as they walked up and down the beach. Cerveza fría, por favor! It was an absolutely gorgeous PR day- 85 degrees, a few scattered clouds, and humid- but at the beach that doesn’t matter. With my beer and a book, I was in heaven. This was the second time on this trip when it really hit me how enjoyable solo travel can be. When you’re lying next to someone, you have to listen when they talk. Sometimes you have to get up and get something for them. And you probably had to wait for them (or be rushed by them) getting to the beach in the first place. But not me. I was on my own schedule. I was thirsty? $3 for a beer. I was hot? I’d jump in the ocean. I wanted to ignore all the other humans and focus on my book? Easy. 

I did end up a little pink after too much time in the sun, but that had an unexpected bonus- I spent the rest of that evening feeling a little chilly, something I had definitely not felt up until that point! 

I went back to Ocean Park Cafe for dinner and another cerveza, and this time I had the veggie spring rolls with a pineapple mango dipping sauce. They were full of cabbage and (I think) plantains, and they were crisp and flavorful and just what I needed. 

Later that evening I Ubered over to the part of the city where Jami was now staying in an Airbnb, the very American part of the city. As in, we ended up at one of the only bars that wasn’t a Chili’s or similar. It was still fun though, and I had my first and only frozen drink of the trip, a Miami Vice, which is half pina colada and half strawberry margarita. I was tired from all the sun though, so it was an early night. Well, early for a vacation night!

I spent the next morning walking along the beach, taking in the sights and sounds and smells. It’s so beautiful, but there are also these pockets of abandoned properties that are quite surprising. This was a house on the beach, and judging from the signage (and my limited Spanish) it has been purchased recently by a developer, but it obviously sat vacant for a very long time. There’s something creepy about such an abandoned place, surrounded by life. 

Monday afternoon was spent back in Old San Juan shopping for souvenirs with Jami. It was nice- we’d visit a shop or two, then pop into a bar for a drink. A shop or two, then a drink. And of course, a snack.

At Cafe Berlin (again), I had a Medalla Light and the hummus plate:

More Medalla and fried plantains at Hecho En Casa, while Jami had rum punch and guacamole (she’s pescatarian!)-

Happy hour with a random kitty cat…

And another trip to Ben & Jerry’s!

After a final look at the beautiful views…

… we headed back towards the hostel for a final dinner, which funny enough, was at the most “American-ish” restaurant I ate at the whole trip. Which made sense, because it was in the touristy area near all the nicer hotels. Silk Restaurant, which had a generic mix of Asian foods, plus some sushi. And wine. Is anything more refreshing than a really cold glass of pinot grigio? 

And that’s pretty much it! I visited the beach one last time before heading back to the airport Tuesday around lunchtime. It was a short trip, but a fun one. And an important one, too. I learned a lot about myself, most notably that:

  1. I love solo travel, and am looking forward to another trip on my own.
  2. Without someone there to nudge me, I do get a bit lazy and wont go out of my way to do things like rent a car so I can hike in the rain forest (something I really wanted to do, but just didn’t find time for).
  3. Hostels are okay for saving money, but 2 nights is probably my limit.

And with that, I’m ready to plan my next trip! 

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Hello friends! A quickie update on some of the progress I’ve made on my 40 Before 40 list, and some oversharing of the foodstuffs I’ve eaten when I’m not creating recipes for the blog. 

Here we go…!

  1. Take Spanish Lessons. Check! I started last month on my first class, and it finishes right before I leave for… Puerto Rico! This was intentional and planned from the get- I knew having a trip would keep me motivated to learn, and would also be great practice using my new words. I’m going to continue taking classes, but I’m calling this one donezo. And if you happen to live in Denver and are interested, I’m taking the classes at Colorado Free University
  1. Organize all 7 closets at home. Dudes. In one afternoon I tackled the two closets that were bothering me the most- the coat closet (that I also use for storing extra kitchen gear) and the utility/storage closet that’s off the downstairs bathroom. The floor of the coat closet was cluttered with my tool chest, this huge duffel bag of additional tools that I recently inherited from my stepfather, dog food, dog leashes, dog hair,  and a bunch of other crap. The utility closet is pretty big, but half of it is taken up by the water heater. The other half was being taken up by 487 gallons of old paint left by previous owners and some other stuff they apparently didn’t want to take with them when they left. So I brought the paint to one of those nifty places that accepts paint (you can’t just put it in your trash, you know), organized beautifully the paint that I chose and is still in use, and moved the tools (neatly!) in there as well. Nothing makes me calmer than a neat and spare closet, and these two are an absolute joy to me now! 2 down, 5 to go.
  1. Create a more aggressive financial independence plan. Oh hell yes, I have kicked some serious butt on this one. I’ve increased my savings rate, am close to doubling my emergency fund, and figure to be fully financially independent about 17 years ahead of schedule. My dream is to be able to take a job doing marketing and communications for a non-profit that I love without worrying about the salary. Based on my calculations, I should be able to do that sometime around 45… which isn’t that far off, haha. I also have to recommend this Networthify tool- it’s a lot of fun (especially if you’re a PF nerd like myself). Plug in your current savings, your savings rate, and find out when you’ll be financially independent too! Done.

It feels so freaking good to be crossing things off that list! I’m truly a listy person, and I’ve made peace with that. Embraced it, really! I enjoy it, it keeps me happy and organized, so why not? And now, some of the many delicious things I’ve eaten and drank over the last few weeks… 

My mom and I went shopping for her birthday earlier this month. We started at this adorable place called The Barn– it’s antiques and handmade crafts, and clothing and jewelry and really just a bit of everything, all housed in a nearly 100 year old barn. Very chic. Then we had lunch at Blue Nectar: I wouldn’t call them the most vegan-friendly restaurant, but they had a couple options. I had the Veggie Fajitas minus the cheese and sour cream. The veggies were hearty pieces of squash and zucchini and carrots instead of just peppers and onions (although there were some of those too). And wine, because lunch with mom. 

Also because it was my mom’s birthday, I baked her a cake brownies. We live in Colorado, so I’ll leave the recipe up to your imagination 😉 And they actually didn’t turn out so well- We didn’t have vegetable oil (I was using an accidentally vegan boxed mix) so I melted Earth Balance. They ended up a bit… goopy. #BloggerFail

This next one should probably be a little embarrassing, but blogging is all about over-sharing right? I found these adorable vegan dog treats at Homegoods (they were only $4.99!), they’re made by Three Dog Bakery, and they’re basically Doggie Oreos. And I tried one. They were pretty good! The cookie part tasted like regular golden oreos, and the filling tasted like peanut butter. Please tell me I’m not the only one who has ever tried one of their dog treats!?

I’ve been ridiculously sick lately. I know I mentioned having a cold… and then that cold morphed into bronchitis, and then I think I got another cold. I missed 3 days of work the first week, then 2 the second week. I basically slept for five days straight BUT did wake up long enough to meet two of my fave girls (Happy birthday Chelsea and Denise!) for a Bottomless Margarita Brunch last Sunday:

I went with Strawberry on the rocks (no salt!), and had the Veggie Street Tacos, minus the cheese. They were so flavorful, full of mushrooms, squash, and corn. This was at La Sandia in Park Meadows. 

Then of course we had to shop off the margaritas, and there’s nothing sillier and three drunk girls at the mall, right? 

Is there anything better than great girlfriends??

 

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I Heart Keenwah Giveaway

Happy Valentines day, if you’re a person who cares about Valentines Day 💕 Personally, I could care less but! There is something that I do care a great deal about and that, my friends, is snacktime.

Snacktime is the most important time(s) of the day, and when you add a little peanut butter & chocolate, or chocolate and sea salt to the mix… it only gets better. I was lucky enough to get some of that chocolate-peanut butter-sea salt amazingness in the mail from a great company called I Heart Keenwah and you’re lucky too because they were kind enough to host this giveaway so that one lucky reader will win two bags of their Chocolate Puffs- Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Himalayan Pink Salt!   

You’re probably asking yourself was these even are, so let me tell you: They’re chocolate covered quinoa puffs. Yes, quinoa. Imagine puffed rice… only quinoa. It’s a new concept, but I promise it’s a good one! 

They’re also a “healthy indulgence”, with only 140 calories and 6 grams of sugar per serving, plus 3-4 grams of protein. They’re also made with organic fair trade certified dark chocolate, and of course, they’re vegan. They’re also gluten-free. 

They come in two flavors, and Dark Chocolate Himalayan Pink Salt was by far my favorite. I’m not the biggest chocoholic, and I loved the way the salt made these taste so sweet. Not overly sweet, but sweet in that way salt does with chocolate. You know what I mean. 

I Heart Keenwah Giveaway

The Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter puffs were delicious too, although they didn’t have that hint of sweet. If you’re one of those death by chocolate people, I predict these ones will be your favorite. 

I Heart Keenwah Giveaway


The Giveaway

One lucky reader will win Two Bags of Chocolate Puffs from I Heart Keenwah, one in each flavor! To enter, leave a comment below telling us how much you love chocolate, and if you save it for treats or eat it for breakfast!  Contest ends Sunday, February 19th at midnight (mountain time). One winner will be chosen at random and announced the following day. Be sure and log your comment into the Rafflecopter to make it count! Open to residents of US only, good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

*I was provided free product to review but the opinions are 100% mine!

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BBQ Chick’n Pizza. Easy. Vegan.

Delicious and easy vegan BBQ Chick'n Pizza from thatwasvegan.com

It’s been a shockingly long time since I’ve shared a pizza recipe! It’s not that I haven’t been eating pizza… I’ve just been ordering it from Uncle Maddio’s, my fave vegan-friendly spot. But sometimes the pizza craving is so specific, so precise, that there’s nothing on the menu that will satisfy it. Hence my BBQ Chick’n Pizza. Lots of flavor from my homemade chick’n seitan, sweet n’ spicy bbq sauce, and the bite of red onion and cilantro! 

I actually made this a couple weekends ago, the same day I made the Spicy Sweet Potato Hash with Roasted Poblano Peppers. It was this pizza (and my need for the seitan) that necessitated using tofu in the hash, which turned out to be brilliant, if I do say so myself! 

Delicious and easy vegan BBQ Chick'n Pizza from thatwasvegan.com

You know what’s not brilliant though? Having a cold. I’m currently fighting a whopper of one right now, and actually missed two days of work because of it. I currently have the upper hand though (after two days of non-stop napping and Gilmore Girls, which is apparently the best cold remedy around!?), and fingers crossed it wont turn into anything nasty like bronchitis. 

But it’s Thursday, the week is almost over, and I’m looking forward to a lot more sleeping this weekend. And maybe some pizza? 

Delicious and easy vegan BBQ Chick'n Pizza from thatwasvegan.com


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Gather: Organic, vegan pet food

My dogs aren’t fully vegan (especially not Teddy after that squirrel incident, yikes!) but the food I buy for them definitely is. I don’t want to contribute to the suffering of animals in factory farms, and that goes into all the purchase decisions I make- both for myself and my pets. 

There are actually quite a few vegan pet food options on the market right now, which is both a little surprising and awesome! Whether you’re shopping at a fancy boutique or the Petsmart in your local strip mall, you have options, which I think is fantastic. And now… you have another option as well: Gather Endless Valley, from Petcurean! I (or, rather, Sally and Teddy) agreed to test out a bag of the vegan kibble, which is full of all the good stuff:

  • Certified organic & sustainably grown peas
  • Omega 3 & 6 for healthy skin and radiant coats
  • Complex carbohydrates for quick energy, and 
  • Antioxidants for increased immunity

They also skip the bad stuff, so there are no GMOs, no by-products, no antibiotics, and no artificial colors or preservatives.  

Gather: Organic, vegan pet food

This is very clearly *not* one of my dogs, but I wanted to show how small the kibbles are. Sally is just a little cocker girl, and they weren’t too big for her at all. And while I can’t give any firsthand opinions on the flavor, I can tell you that my dogs gobbled it all up! Of course, I started by mixing it in with their previous food to avoid any upset tummies (there weren’t any!) but within a few days they were eating 100% Gather. 

I also think Petcurean is very responsible and forward-thinking for including a vegan recipe in their product lineup, and I appreciate that. They have a great article on their website about dogs and vegan diets that will probably answer all your questions, if you’re thinking about having Fido go vegan for the first time. You can also find local retailers and even score a $5 coupon

*I was provided free product to review but the opinions are 100% mine!

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