Beans and Toast the Queen Herself Would Adore

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The other evening, I rinsed and soaked some navy beans even though I had no idea what I wanted to do with them. Did I want soup? Baked beans? Bean salad? No. Freaking. Idea. Well, regardless, I put them in a pot to soak overnight. Yesterday morning, before I went to work, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do with them. So, I put them in the crock pot, added some stuff that I thought would taste good, and decided that, when I got home from work, I’d figure it out. Turns out, they were absolutely delicious, and I had the strange desire to put them over a nice, thick piece of toast. Delish! I seriously thought I was a genius. It looked super gross, and probably looked like something that even a bum would turn their nose up at, but man oh man was it ever delicious.

Then, my ego got checked for real. I typed in “beans and toast” on Google to see if anyone else had ever thought of this…and I’m sure you can imagine my surprise and humiliation when I discovered that it is basically like, the national food of Great Britain!! Foiled again!! Well, although it wasn’t as creative as I thought it was, considering it’s been eaten by the Brit’s for hundreds of years, it was still awesome, and I think I came up with a pretty spectacular bean recipe, so I’m going to at least share that with you all.

Spicy, Savory Navy Beans and Toast

1 cup of Navy beans, rinsed and soaked overnight
4 cups of water
4 tsp. vegetable bullion
4 tsp. Onion Seasoning (I use Mrs. Dash salt-free onion seasoning)
3 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on Low for 7-9 hours or High for 4-5 hours, stirring every couple of hours.
Smother two pieces of whole-grain toast with Earth Balance Buttery Spread and cover with navy beans.

Simple, yet delicious, I promise!!! And if you’re on a budget, a meal doesn’t get much cheaper than this!!

(I got even more than what is in this stock photo I found online!! Amazeballs!!)

By the way, I want to give a huge shout-out to Earth Balance!! I think everyone should become a fan of theirs on Facebook, because they are quite generous! I recently won a contest on their Facebook page for a gift basket. Little did I know that this basket would basically be all the vegan butter tubs, sticks, almond and peanut butter I could need for a year!! Major props there, Earth Balance!!

Vegan-Friendly Airports

Monday, June 21, 2010

First off, I want to say thank you for all of the support with my beloved dog passing this past week. It was a really hard thing to go through, and receiving the support that I did from all over really helped. So, thank you all so much for your words of kindness.

I travelled from Wisconsin to Washington, D.C. this weekend to spend some much needed time with my mom, where we shared many happy memories of the friend we had to say goodbye to. This was also the first time that I have travelled via airplane since going vegan (I like to drive wherever I go since flying is rarely a positive experience for me…I’ve even driven cross-country to avoid airports!) and needless to say, I was quite nervous about what my food options would be. So, I have put together a little rating system, if you will, for the airports that I travelled through:
Milwaukee, WI: F
Detroit, MI: A+++
Washington, Dulles: D-
Minneapolis/St. Paul: A

I left from the Milwaukee, WI airport, and let me tell you, they FAIL the vegan ratings. I found one place in the entire airport that sold a “veggie southwestern salad”. This salad’s description listed cheese, but I tried ordering it without the cheese. The guy then proceeds to tell me that all of the salads are pre-made and that they actually have chicken on them, too, because “nobody wants a salad without chicken.” Ummm…really?! I asked if he could make me one, and he said that they don’t stock the ingredients. So, starving Danielle had to wait, and pray that I’d have better luck during my layover in Detroit.

Let me just say, I left work that day at noon, was not able to grab lunch before driving the 90 minutes to Milwaukee (we were going to grab food before the boy dropped me off, but a bad traffic jam caused us to run a bit late), and so I had only had a small bowl of oatmeal the entire day. It was now around 5:30 when I arrived in Detroit, and I honestly thought I just might pass out (my own fault for not packing snacks, I know…but my head was in outer space when I prepared for this quick trip). I walked off the airplane, and knew that I had entered the Vegan “Oz” of airports…there was literally restaurant after restaurant, more than I had ever seen in an airport, and as I read every menu hanging outside, I realized that every single one not only offered vegan and vegetarian options, but clearly labeled them as such as well!! I was literally drooling after about ten restaurants, and since I had a few hours, I decided on the Mediterranean Grill located at gate A54 (if I recall!). I was sat quickly, greeted quickly, and since I had looked at the menu posted outside, I knew what I was going to order and quickly ordered the falafel pita platter with dolmas (stuffed grape leaves). My food was out in record time, and I quickly dug in. The super spicy falafel was like heaven in my mouth. Tucked away in a perfectly toasted pita, and stuffed with hummus, tomato and lettuce, and of course, plenty of falafel. And to top it all off, I had four massive dolmas awaiting my stomach. Even with how famished I was, I could hardly manage to finish ¾ of my meal so I went ahead and took the bill…$8.49?!?! This couldn’t possibly be right. A nice, sit-down restaurant in an airport I already knew was going to set me back around $15-20. But, I managed to sit down, have a beautiful meal presented to me for less than ten bucks!! I was so happy, and am actually looking forward to the next time I get to travel through Detroit, as there were so many delicious looking places that I cannot wait to try!

Mediterranean Grill, Detroit Metro Airport

On my way back, I left from the Washington D.C./Dulles airport. I honestly thought I’d be all set here, because, well, it’s a huge city, a massive airport, and I truly thought I would at least be able to find SOMETHING. Well, I was clearly mistaken. The ONLY think I was able to find was a mini carton of Silk Chocolate SoyMilk. I found this at a little coffee shop where I tried to get a plain bagel. The man at the counter asked what kind of spread I wanted on it, and I said I didn’t want any. He told me that the price includes it, and I said I don’t mind paying full price, but I don’t want any spread. I was told they couldn’t do this…what?! What kind of crazy rule is that?! So, after standing in line, I at least wanted something, so I picked up a carton of soymilk and bought that. Not too tasty (I hate anything with a milky texture, real milk or not), but it was something in my tummy until I got to my next destination.

I arrived in Minneapolis and was at first disappointed, as the only options I saw right away were the standard Burger King, McDonalds, and Starbucks. However, the closer I got to my next gate, the more options started popping up. I ended up eating at a little place directly at my gate called the French Meadow Bistro, as their foldout sign clearly exclaimed that their soup of the day was a Vegan Black Bean Chili. Obviously excited by the fact that they were so proud of their “vegan” chili, I stopped in. I took a look at their menu, and they had a plethora of vegan options, which were all organic as well. Yay! I ended up just getting an order of the chili, which came with a side of vegan sourdough and every single bite was a perfect little taste explosion in my mouth. Perfect. And at $4.95 for a cup and bread, it didn’t totally break the bank either.

French Meadow Bistro, Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport

So, these were my experiences at these four particular airports. Has anyone else had good/bad experiences at any other airports? Would love to hear suggestions!

Homage to a Dear Friend

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I’m sorry that this blog has been slightly inactive the past week or so. It’s been a rough one. I’m in the process of being tested for a few different auto-immune disorders (don’t’ worry, I’ll be fine no matter what), and on top of that, my very best friend in the entire world, my golden retriever Lambeau, has passed. I’m so saddened and distraught, and quite frankly, cooking and recipes are the furthest thing from being on my mind right now. I appreciate those of you who do take the time to check out my blog, or let me know how recipes worked for you, and don’t worry, I will be back with new recipes, but I’m taking a slight hiatus for a while, as I try to pull myself together. Once again, thanks for stopping by.

"He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds; my other ears that hear above the winds. He is the part of me that can reach out into the sea. He has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason for being; by the way he rests against my leg; by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile; by the way he shows his hurt when I leave without taking him. (I think it makes him sick with worry when he is not along to care for me.) When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive. When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile. When I am happy, he is joy unbounded. When I am a fool, he ignores it. When I succeed, he brags. Without him, I am only another man. With him, I am all-powerful. He is loyalty itself. He has taught me the meaning of devotion. With him, I know a secret comfort and a private peace. He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant. His head on my knee can heal my human hurts. His presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things. He has promised to wait for me... whenever... wherever - in case I need him. And I expect I will - as I always have. He is just my dog." - Gene Hill

"Shout at the Devil" Spicy Black Bean Guacamole

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Okay, so I’m not gonna lie, I was in the mood for some serious junk food the other day. Well, the sucky thing is, I’m actually trying to avoid said “junk” food as I am trying to make a little less of myself at the moment. Looking through the fridge and the cupboards to see what I had lying around to turn into something I could fool myself into thinking was junk, I came up with a little something special. I took two of my favorite foods, black beans and avocados, and turned them into another one of my favorite foods, guacamole! I was told it would taste better with cilantro, and I’m sure it would! Unfortunately for me, cilantro makes my gums swell up like nobody’s business! So obviously, you won’t find it in my recipes, but feel free to add cilantro to your heart’s content! I also tend to add a lot more chili powder than most people can handle, but I like a burn, so you might want to taste as you add so it isn’t too spicy for you. I ended up smothering this on a whole grain tortilla, popping it in a 450 oven for about 8 minutes, and my junk food craving was more than satisfied, and there was no junk necessary! Definitely give this recipe the good ole’ college try!

1 avocado, peeled and pitted
1 (19 ounce) can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 roma tomato (seeded and chopped)
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
2 teaspoon chili powder (less if you can’t handle spicy heat)
1 teaspoon cumin (toasted and ground)
salt and pepper to taste
1 lime (juice)

1. Mash everything together (I prefer to do this part with my hands whilst headbanging to some Motley Crue) until the desired consistency is reached. You may want to use a food processor or whatnot, but I enjoy mashing all things involving avocado with my (clean) hands. It gives it a nice, unpredictable texture, and the oils from the avocado always make my hands feel super good!

Now, I took a couple pictures of this, but let’s be honest. Take a look at these ingredients. Better yet, make this recipe yourself. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the end result of this combination probably doesn’t look too pretty. So instead, I leave you with some stock photos of lovely avocados…nature’s perfect food!!

Heartland Farm Sanctuary

Monday, June 7, 2010

Since moving to Madison, I have been trying to find a good place to volunteer at that not only helps animals, but helps people, too. Surrounding Los Angeles, there are a few different farm sanctuaries that work with animals and troubled youth. There are also programs where they rehabilitate animals to be suitable to adopt through a program working with prison inmates. These types of places are where I like to donate my money, time, or both, as I feel that they help everyone involved.

Well, I finally stumbled across a Farm Sanctuary in Madison that is apparently very new. The Heartland Farm Sanctuary was founded in 2009, and is actually still looking for a land donation to provide for the animals they rescue! They are very new, and their outreach goals are very wonderful, and I truly believe that this is an organization that will benefit the entire community. I know that not everyone who reads this blog is from the Madison area, but even a couple dollars can help this sanctuary really get its bearings. They currently have two rescued goats that a farmer is letting them keep in his barn for now, but as the need for their services increases, so will their need for an adequate space for these animals.
Rock and roll Vegan Joan Jett Volunteering at a Farm Sanctuary

“Heartland Farm Sanctuary, founded in 2009, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping homeless farm animals in Wisconsin, and building connections between animals and vulnerable youth. We created Heartland to provide a safe, peaceful environment where youth and farm animals could come together to heal, grow, and have fun.
Many children today face significant life challenges such as physical, emotional, or cognitive developmental delays, a history of delinquent behavior or other detrimental life choices, and an abusive or otherwise troubling home life. Research has shown that these children can benefit tremendously by taking part in animal-assisted therapeutic activities, such as those programs developed by Heartland using the farm animals we help.

Our mission is to provide care for farm animals in need, nurture people through the human-animal bond, and foster respect and kindness toward animals and each other.”
(Direct quote from their website)

There are farm sanctuaries currently across the US, but it seems that the area of the country with the greatest amount of farm animals and agriculture is the area that has the fewest sanctuaries for these animals. When the floods hit Iowa in 2008, sanctuaries in New York had to send rescue services there, because there were not enough of these organizations in the Midwest to aid these abandoned animals. By creating this organization here, there will be a huge need fulfilled to the people and animals of this region.

I guess what I’m asking…is do you really need that Starbucks coffee this morning? What about this week? Instead of feeding your coffee habit, or Diet Coke habit, maybe think about putting even that small amount of money toward a great cause like this today. Every couple of dollars helps. And, if you live in the Madison area, be sure to shop at Whole Foods on June 17. On this day, 5% of the entire day’s sales will go directly to the Heartland Farm Sanctuary. How easy is that? You need groceries, and this way, when you buy your groceries, you’ll be helping the Sanctuary at the same time! I signed up to be a volunteer for the sanctuary today, and cannot wait to hear back to see how I can help the animals, and the children of the community. Please visit for more information on this amazing organization!

Saved cows are happy cows!!

Farmer's Market Recipes

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My favorite thing about going to the Farmer’s Market each week, is that every week, there is always something new that is in season. This week, the market was flowing with all sorts of potatoes!! The best part, one farmer was so excited about this gorgeous white potato that he grew for the first time this year, he handed me five pounds, wouldn’t take payment, just told me to come back next week and tell him how they were! Well, this cocky farmer knew I’d be in love, because he now has a customer for life!! So, with my large bag full of goodies from the market, I went home and started putting together some delicious goods:

Salad with spray-free mixed greens, tomatoes, squash, and chickpeas – all from the Farmer’s Market. (Ignore the Jack Daniel''s the rocker in me, I can't help it!!)

Potatoes, chopped asparagus, 3 tsp. minced garlic, olive oil to coat potatoes, onion powder, popped in the oven at 425, taking out and shaking up a bit every ten minutes for 40 minutes. Potatoes and asparagus from the Farmer’s Market.

Sunshine Burger patty marinated in BBQ sauce, sliced tomatoes and pickles on whole grain pita with spicy hummus. Tomatoes and pickles both from the Farmer’s Market.

Cheap, delicious produce like this is the number one reason I freaking love summertime! And each week, it’s just gonna keep on getting better!

Vegan Doughnuts...Oh...My...God!!!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Doughnuts. Quite possibly one of the worst/greatest things to ever happen to America. On one hand, they’re deep-fried sugar that thicken waistlines and clog arteries with every sweet bite. On the other hand, they’re just so damn good! Now, up until this weekend, the last time I had a doughnut was almost two years ago, so I am pretty sure that having a couple this weekend was okay. And my goodness were they ever tasty!!

My amazing cousin Candi sent me a package of delicious VEGAN doughnuts from halfway across the country for my birthday! They were from this amazing place in Portland, Oregon called Voodoo Doughnuts, and I highly suggest stopping in if you are ever in the PDX area! Vegan or not, they have quite the array of doughnuts on their menu, and the overall vibe seems pretty badass! And unlike the few places I have seen that offer vegan doughnuts that usually have only one type, and aren’t very good, this place definitely delivers! My package had nine vacuum-sealed doughnuts in it (excellent shipping work, Candi!), and picking which one to eat first was HARD! I ended up going with a cinnamon-sugar doughnut, which was soft, moist, and super sweet! After that, I ate half of a coconut one, and had to stop myself right then and there, otherwise I knew I’d eat all of them! The next day, I allowed myself a chocolate one covered in crushed peanuts…and I absolutely could not believe that the frosting and everything is vegan!!

I can't believe it's vegan!!!

I have since placed the rest of the sinful little buggers in the freezer, and they will be my “milestone” treats on my trek to lose weight…cuz we all need rewards every once an d a while! I will not eat another one until I’m down 15 more pounds, but the way that my new Wii Game is kicking my ass, that might be sooner rather than later!

But seriously folks, you gotta stop by this freaking rad doughnut shop in Portland…the amount of vegan goodies they have is enough to make any veg-head fall to their knees in sweet heaven!!

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