March 26, 2012

Balsamic Pasta w/ Greens

......And just cuz I'm nice, I'll post the runner-up recipe too :)

Balsamic Pasta w/ Greens
We had a little contest on our Facebook page, asking fans what recipe they wanted to see - this one came in second place (or last place if your a pessimist).  You can find the first place recipe, Creamy Roasted Garlic Pasta, here.  I adapted this recipe from The Plant-Based Dietitian website/blog. I really like dietitian Julieanna Hever's recipes, but this one really caught my eye.

If you haven't ever made a balsamic reduction, you need to immediately.  It is ridiculously easy and so very yummy.  Balsamic vinegar is delicious, but very........well.........vinegary.  However, when you simmer balsamic vinegar gently for a few minutes on the stove, it reduces into a sweet, yummy syrup.

Typically, I make a balsamic reduction as a dressing for spinach salad - which is literally just baby spinach, red onion, with a drizzle of balsamic reduction, and a touch of salt and pepper.  So simple, yet so fancy.

The idea of using balsamic reduction as a pasta sauce was new to me - and a fabulous idea (wish I would've thought of it!).  This recipe is the epitome of whole foods, plant-based.  Brown rice pasta, balsamic vinegar, garlic, herbs, beans, greens - it doesn't get simpler than that.

Not to mention healthy with your whole grains, protein, fiber, calcium, iron, etc., etc.  No fat, no weird ingredients.  Just food.  Healthy, lovely food.

Love & Kale,
Ali

                        ___________________________________________________

Balsamic Pasta w/ Greens
Serves: About 4-6
Don't get freaked out if you don't think you have enough balsamic vinegar - a little goes a long way when it's reduced!  Feel free to play with the recipe - use whatever herbs you like or have on hand!  A squeeze of lemon and a little lemon zest would be fabulous!  

Print here.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb brown rice pasta (or any other whole grain pasta)
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed (I used white navy beans)
  • 1 bunch of baby spinach or kale, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Few tbsp of basil, rosemary, oregano - whatever you want!
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions:
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.  Add spinach or kale in the last minute or cooking time. Drain and rinse.
  2. Reduce balsamic vinegar - simmer on med-low heat in a saucepan for a few minutes - until it's thick and a syrup-like consistency (it should be able to coat a spoon).
  3. Combine the vinegar reduction, herbs, minced garlic, pasta and spinach or kale.  Serve and ENJOY!
Ingredients

Spinach and kale

Drain and rinse your beans

Boil pasta, then add greens and boil

Reduce your balsamic vinegar

Not quite done yet....

Perfectly reduced - a syrup consistency

Toss everything in a bowl together...

ENJOY!

March 25, 2012

Creamy Roasted Garlic Pasta

Last post, I spoke about the splurges that took place over the weekend.  Now I'm certainly not condoning splurging on a regular basis - you can still have vegan splurges that are just as satisfying. 
 
Progress, not perfection.

So let's get things back to normal.  We had a fun little contest on our Facebook page (like us!), asking our fans what recipe they would like us to post about.  Well the votes are in and the winner is.....

Creamy Roasted Garlic Pasta!



(Those who wanted the Balsamic Pasta recipe  - don't worry, I'll post it soon!)

I got this recipe from my good friend, who said it was amazing - super creamy and super garlicky - and I love both of those qualities in a recipe.  But when this friend mentioned it had tofu in it, I balked.  

I am in the minority of vegans and happen to not like tofu that much - not unless it's fried, which is certainly not healthy.  However, the silken, or soft, tofu can be used to make sauces, etc., super creamy - and it's totally disguised, so you don't even know you're eating it!  Plus, it's amazingly healthy - very low in fat and calories, no cholesterol, loaded with protein, calcium, iron, magnesium, etc.  

I have also discovered that paired with roasted garlic in a blender and some some seasonings... make a great substitute for creamy alfredo!

So if you're newly vegan, and finding some difficulty finding a good "alfredo-like" recipe, you'll be all over this one... and it's easy too!  The most difficult part was peeling the garlic!  And this recipe calls for TONS of garlic......LOVE IT!  

Love & Kale,
Ali

                     ____________________________________________________

Creamy Roasted Garlic Pasta
Roasting garlic brings out the sweetness, and helps subdue the "bite" that raw garlic has.  This sauce is rich and creamy, and oh-so-garlicky.  The spinach gives you that serving of the all-important leafy greens (full of calcium, iron, fiber, vitamin C, folate, beta-carotene, vitamin K, etc.).  The tofu isn't recognizable; just there to give a rich, creamy texture to the sauce.  
Serves:  A lot.

Print here.

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb whole grain pasta (I used fusilli) 
  • 1 bunch of spinach 
  • 1 block of silken (or soft) tofu (12 oz) 
  • 2 heads of garlic 
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1/4 c of oil (omit if desired - I put in just a splash) 
  • 1 tsp salt, pepper 
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup bread crumbs

Instructions:
  1. Peel all of the cloves of garlic and remove their tough bottom tip. Bake them at 400F for 30 minutes loosely wrapped in aluminum foil (they should be slightly softened, light golden in color and much sweeter and less pungent than raw garlic). 
  2. Boil your pasta according to package directions (until al dente), then strain.  Coarsely chop your spinach, or tear into pieces. 
  3. Combine even parts flax seeds and breadcrumbs in a small bowl; set aside. 
  4. Once the garlic is done, throw it in a blender along with the tofu, nutritional yeast (if using), oil and salt and pepper.  Blend until smooth. 
  5. Mix the pasta, spinach and garlic sauce all together and transfer to a large casserole dish and sprinkle with the flax seed/bread crumbs. 
  6. Bake in the oven at 350F for about 15 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Ingredients

Peel garlic and wrap in foil - stick in oven

Roasted garlic - your house will smell amazing at this point

Ninja toast
Breadcrumb/Flaxseed mixture

Stick all sauce ingredients into blender - blend away!

Mmm....creamy alfredo sauce (but it's healthy!)

Chop spinach and add to bowl, with sauce and pasta

Top with breadcrumb mixture and bake for about 15 min until golden brown


Creamy Roasted Garlic Pasta

 







March 22, 2012

Chickpea Burgers & Splurges

Spring has sprung, and so has my garlic.


 
Let's talk splurging.  Coming home from a weekend away, I did a bit of splurging (kind of like I did when I went to Texas with all that freaking guacamole).  Just because you're a new plant-based rock star, doesn't mean you can never again splurge.  It’s okay to once in a (GREAT) while have a “splurge.” 

However, a “splurge” does not necessarily have to contain animal products. 

My “splurges” are sorbet at Graeter’s (full of sugar), So Delicious Ice Cream Bars (vegan but not healthy) and french fries (more often than I care to admit).  However, if the occasional splurge will create a domino effect for you, you should probably only very rarely splurge on vegan porn food (something sugary, vegan chocolaty, etc.).

As for the ice cream, come summer it gets a little difficult.  On warm summer evenings, it’s always fun to go to the K&W or Graeter’s, sit outside and have a cold treat with the family.  If I find myself in the situation, I typically choose sorbet.  Or, I will just make my chocolaty vegan ice cream at home, with my new ice cream maker (recipes to come!).  Hey, I’ll probably save money too! 

Here’s an awesome article about how to deal with cravings – my favorite part:  

The reality is, you are completely normal for wanting those kinds of foods. We seek high caloric density foods. Back in the day we could go days, even weeks without eating, and so when there was food available we ate it. The trouble is that now we have food around us all the time, but we still have the same response as if we might starve – if there is high caloric density food (like cookies) around we will want to eat it.”

So it's normal to have cravings.  Just important to plan and keep splurges to a minimum.  It's about progress, not perfection.

So keep these tips in mind when splurging:

1)  Splurging in moderation is okay from time to time, as long as I don't make a habit out of it and try to keep to vegan splurges.  
2)  I was actually excited about getting home and back into the kitchen.  
3)  When things don't turn out, just keep trying. 
4)  Spend money on proper equipment. You will never enjoy that spinach smoothie if it's not properly blended.
5)  Use garlic cloves quickly and keep out of direct sunlight.  

Recipes from the post-splurge weekend are below - enjoy and get back on track!  Summer is right around the corner people!

Love and Kale,
Ali

                                         _________________________________________

Chickpea Burgers
Crispy outside, chewy inside, this burger is a great base to build your perfect burger.  I serve it with a fantastic and ridiculously easy dill dip, tomato, lettuce and red onion.  Delicious, creamy, light and lovely. 
Serves: 4

Print here.

Ingredients:
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 potato, boiled
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseeds mixed with 3 tbsp water – let sit for 5 min)
  • Dusting of flour
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Just a little olive oil (for frying)

Instructions:
  1. Mash the potato and chickpeas.  Combine with the onion, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper.
  2. Add the flax egg and mix well.
  3. Shape into burgers and dust each side with the flour.
  4. Fry in the olive oil (just a dash!) until golden brown on both sides.
  5. Serve with fresh dill dip:  Mix 1 container Tofutti Sour Cream with a tbsp or so of dried dill.  Great dip or condiment!
Mix everything together - 1 bowler!




Fry in a little bit of oil

Serve with dill dip and a side salad.  



                                 ___________________________________________

Zucchini Chips

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups sliced zucchini (about 2 small zucchinis)

Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. In a medium bowl combine breadcrumbs and black pepper
  3. In a separate bowl add flour, milk and vinegar, gently stir until combined but do not over stir
  4. Dip zucchini slices in milk mixture, then in breadcrumb mixture.  Then place the slices on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, flipping the slices over once halfway through cooking, or until browned and crisp.
  5. These would be good with the dill dip above!


Slicing my zucchini

This is what the zucchini chips are supposed to look like - mine looked more like death.
 

March 19, 2012

Healthy Kids & Fun Recipes

We're fresh off our fun lecture, "Cooking for Healthy Kids."  And it was a great success.

I did what I did best, lecture.  And Ann did what she does best, be socially awkward and make people laugh.

The lecture was put on by Ann's church (just like the last one we did), and the turnout was great - a dietitian, Dr. Stevens, spoke on the importance of encouraging children to eat healthfully - as well as the dangers of childhood obesity, which is on the rise.

I think her most interesting point was when she said that we don't have to love absolutely everything we eat.  We eat because we need nutrients for our bodies.  Not every single bite of food we take has to be the absolutely best freaking thing you've ever tasted (although if you make our recipes, it just might be :).  Encourage your children (and maybe yourself) to not just see food as something that tastes really, really good.  See it as something that nourishes our bodies, helps our minds, and keeps us healthy so we can avoid disease and hospitals.  For example, if you like, but don't love, spinach, eat some anyway.  Maybe your taste buds will change, and it will become more enjoyable.

Dr. Stevens speaking
For our part (well, my part), I told the crowd what I tell everyone when they ask me why I'm a vegan:  I'm not looking to live 'til 100.  I'm just looking to avoid debilitating diseases, prescription medications, chemotherapy, surgeries, and a poor quality of life.  It's about quality, not quantity.  And if you want to live however many years you will live, with a high-quality life, you need to start with the most ridiculously easy step - the food you eat.

I also encouraged people to not always hide the healthy food they feed their kids.  Don't disguise the food, or tell them it's something different.  Although it will be tedious at first, tell your kids what fruits and veggies are in their meals.  Tell them that those weird looking things are garbanzo beans, and they give our body fiber and protein so we can be strong and healthy.  Plus, it's fun to say garbanzo!

GARBANZO!

Remember, it's about creating your new "normal" - for not just yourself, but for your kids.  Arm them with the information they need to know how to make healthy choices - and to know why they're making healthy choices.  It will take time (just look how long it took us to mess up our palettes!), but it will be worth it.

Ann made people laugh by telling them that although the all-natural foods are a bit more expensive, she's going to save a bundle on prescription medication costs and co-pays.  It's funny 'cuz it's true.

Heidi, fellow healthy food blogger, also presented to the crowd and made some awesome food!  You can find her amazing Caribbean Black Bean slow cooker recipe on her wonderful blog.  I will be making this recipe this week - YUM!

For our part, we made our Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins (recipe below),



our Cheezy Broccoli Orzo (click for recipe),



our No-Bake Cookies (recipe below),



and our Meatless Balls (click for recipe).



For the balls, I altered the original recipe by making them in mini-muffin pans, instead of the regular muffin pans.  Then, I whipped up some mashed potatoes (pun intended) by boiling 2 russet potatoes, mashing them with a touch of Earth Balance and some soy milk, salt and pepper.  Then, I put the mashed potatoes into a large ziploc bag and cut off the tip of one of the corners:


Then, I frosted my little heart out.


Voila - adorable (and healthy!!) little meatless balls with mashed potato "frosting"

Ann made some awesome Cookie Dough Dip (recipe below) for the kids to dip apple slices and pretzel sticks.



Then, we had each table make some Energy Balls (recipe below).  This is a fast, easy and healthy recipe that I absolutely love.  You get your whole grains from the oats, your fiber and omega fatty acids from the ground flaxseeds, your protein from the peanut butter, and your awesomeness from the coconut and chocolate chips.  Be warned though - these are addictive little things.

We felt that these recipes exemplified how easy it can be to serve your kids healthy foods - that are FUN!  Cookie Dough Dip?  Meatless Balls that look like little cupcakes?  Cheezy Orzo?  Fun little Energy Balls!?

Yup, kids can be vegan rock stars too.

Love & Kale,
Ali

                               ______________________________________________

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins
Makes 1 dozen awesome muffins
Original recipe from Forks Over Knives.

Ingredients:


  • 1 medium banana, mashed
  • 1 (15-oz.) can sweet pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole oat flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 cup grain-sweetened dairy-free chocolate chips


Instructions:


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, combine mashed banana, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.
  2. In a small bowl, combine oat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Transfer mixture to large bowl and mix together gently until well-combined. Avoid over-mixing to prevent toughness in the final product. Fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Spoon batter into silicon muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes or until the muffins are lightly browned. Remove muffins from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Store muffins in an airtight container.



                              ___________________________________________



Fast No-Bake Cookies
Makes about 8 cookies.
Print here.

Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup 
  • 1/3 cup almond milk 
  • ¼ cup cocoa 
  • 3 tbsp peanut butter 
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • 1 ½ cup oats 
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts, optional

Instructions:

1. Put maple syrup, almond milk, and cocoa into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 2-3 min, stirring frequently.
2. Add the peanut butter and stir until incorporated.
3. Remove from heat and add the vanilla, oats, and walnuts (if using).
4. Stir well, the form into small cookies and let them firm up on wax paper.

                          _________________________________________________

Energy Balls
Recipe from this website.  Makes about 18-20 balls.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Instructions:
  1. Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl until thoroughly incorporated. Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.  Once chilled, roll into balls and enjoy! 
  2.  Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.
                                    _____________________________________________

Cookie Dough Dip
Serves 2-3
Recipe from this website.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 2 tbsp almond butter (or any nut butter you choose)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp non-dairy milk (we used coconut milk)
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
Instructions:
  1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a blender or food processor (cashews through vanilla).  Stream in the non-dairy milk until mixture reaches a "dip-like" consistency.
  2. Transfer dip to a bowl and add chocolate chips.
  3. Serve with apple slices, graham crackers, pretzels, etc.!  Enjoy!

March 16, 2012

A Very Vegan St. Patrick's Day!

Green is my favorite color - so although I'm not Irish, and I don't drink beer, I have come to really enjoy St. Patrick's Day.

Plus, you get to eat green food!  And there are lots of awesome green foods - which we will explore now.

Instead of all that sugar-filled, unhealthy candy, why not make a plate of green fruits and veggies for a special St. Patty's Day treat??  What green fruits and veggies you ask?  Well first of all, I gotta go with kale.  Obvi.  There's kiwi, green grapes, honeydew melon, green peppers, broccoli, zucchini, etc.  Spinach rocks too.  In fact, it rocks so much, that we made a special St. Patrick's Day treat with it.

Enter, the Vegan Shamrock Shake.



This shake puts those other non-vegan ones TO SHAME.  Plus, it has less than half the calories, half the fat, none of the cr*p, and a lot of nutrients.  With 2 cups of spinach (that you absolutely, positively cannot even taste), you've got calcium, protein, iron, etc.  With the almond or soy milk, you've got your Vitamin D, Vitamin B12 (usually fortified), protein and calcium.  With the ground flaxseeds, you've got your omega-3, omega-6 fatty acids, fiber and some protein.  And with the banana, you've got your potassium, Vitamin C, and fiber.

So, yeah, needless to say, it's WAY better than the other cr*ppy Shamrock Shake.  And it tastes AWESOME.  We did add some Hershey's Dark Chocolate syrup (just for garnish) and Newman O's for fun - it's our St. Patty's Day "splurge."  The cookies are totally vegan, made of more natural ingredients than Oreos, but still packed with sugar.  Again, only for special occasions.

So go eat your greens, make an awesome Vegan Shamrock Shake on Sunday when you're hungover, and have a very Happy St. Patrick's Day from Project Kale.

And kiss me, I'm Irish-ish.

Love & Kale,
Ali


                       ___________________________________________

Vegan Shamrock Shake
Makes 1 large shake
Print here.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond milk (or soy milk, coconut milk, etc.)
  • 1 frozen banana (peel, dice, put in a bag and freeze)
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
  • 2 Newman O's (natural mint oreos, basically)
  • 2 ice cubes
  • Hershey's Dark Chocolate Syrup (for garnish, optional)
Instructions:
  1. Place all ingredients, except ice cubes, in a blender (or Vitamix if you're lucky!) and blend until smooth.  
  2. Add ice cubes, blend again until smooth.
  3. Line a glass with Hershey's Dark Chocolate Syrup and then pour in your shake.  Drink, do a jig, and ENJOY!
Add all ingredients in blender - blend until smooth!



YUMMY Shamrock Shake!

Ooooo-da-lalee!!



                     _______________________________________________________


March 15, 2012

Plant-Based Breakfast: Vegan French Toast

So many people have asked me, "What do vegans eat for breakfast!?"

Well, obviously the cholesterol, fat, and calorie laden bacon, sausage and waffles are out.  But despite that, there are less obvious breakfast choices that are delicious - hashbrowns, potatoes, toast, oatmeal, whole grain cereal with plant-based milk, granola, smoothies, fruit, tea or coffee. 

Oh, coffee.  Love coffee.

Just instead of regular cream, I either drink it black, or with a touch of Silk French Vanilla.   And it's awesome.   

I came across a recipes for something I never thought I'd eat again - French Toast! 


And it's amazing. 

If you don't love banana-flavored foods, don't worry because you can't really detect the banana flavor in this batter.  If you love bananas, then cut up another one and put it on top! 

Serve with fresh fruit and pure maple syrup?  Vegan breakfast heaven

Love and Kale,
Ali
                       ____________________________________________________

Vegan French Toast 
Serves: 3
The original recipe is from The Engine 2 Diet.  

Print here.

Ingredients:
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • 6 slices of whole grain bread

Instructions:
  1. Mash up banana and all other ingredients in a shallow bowl (I ended up using a blender to completely "hide" all banana remnants). 
  2. Dip slices of bread in the banana mixture, covering both sides, and place in a skillet on medium heat.
  3. Cook on both sides for about 2 minutes until golden brown.  Serve with 100% Pure Maple Syrup and your choice of fruit.
Ingredients

Mash it all up

Dip the bread - smother on both sides

Place in skillet, over medium heat, for about 2 min on each side

Voila - easy vegan french toast!

March 14, 2012

Project Kale Does Texas Y'all!

Living a plant-based lifestyle is really not too tough.  It does, however, get a little more complicated when traveling.

And even more so when traveling to Texas, where grilling meat is a competitive sport.

However, I also knew that I'd be able to get guacamole with every meal.  And I could eat guacamole by the boat load.  Plus, I've been living this lifestyle for over 2 years now, so I'm not tempted by much at all - I'm to the point now where even the smell of meat, cheese, and butter turns my stomach.  Although I completely understand if you're not there yet - no biggie.  

If you're not there yet, you might be tempted when traveling.  You might say to yourself, "Oh it's just easier to cheat, and I'll start back on it when I get home."  Yes, it's easier to give in and cheat.  But really, with some planning, it's not that difficult to stick with it........and it's just as - if not more - satisfying, and obviously much healthier (check out yet another study - this one a 20+ yr study from Harvard - that's come out warning of the dangers of meat consumption).

As usual, planning is key!  So, let me give you a run-down of my vegan adventure in Texas!  

On my way to the airport, I knew I'd be hungry on the plane and there may not be many options for food at the airport.  So I did two things - I packed a cr*pload of Larabars, a banana, and some Veggie Sticks.  I then stopped at Subway on my way to the airport, so I could eat lunch while waiting to board.  Subway is a vegan travelers BFF.

Subway - $5 footlong baby!
Veggie Chips

When I arrived, I met my brother and sister-in-law at their apartment.  Now, I have a very supportive family, who got awesome vegan food in while I was in town.  They also found some interesting and fabulous places at which we could eat out.  If you inform your family, friends, or whoever you're visiting, that you're on a strict plant-based diet, you most likely will find that they will be happy to help you find places to eat with good vegan options.  Most people are cool like that.  And who knows, maybe you'll inspire them a little :)  They had two different kinds of amazing cookies for me (my "junk food cheat" since they had a ton of sugar):

Delicious vegan cookies
Vegan Newman's Own Oreos - YUM!

I'm quite happy eating my vegan cookies

So after eating a couple of cookies , we downed a few glasses of wine, then headed out to eat!  

First stop was The Hobbit Cafe.

 


I'm a huge Lord of the Rings dork fan, so I was in heaven!  Plus, they had vegan options!  Although I was in meat-loving Texas, I was in one of the largest cities in our country (Houston), and usually metropolitan places have vegetarian and vegan options galore.  Plus, Mexican food is always a great option for vegans - and there was a ton of Mexican food!  At Hobbit Cafe, I had the vegan black bean burger - and of course, lots of guacamole!



Before
After

The next day, we went to the Houston Rodeo.  Now, initially, I thought this would be a vegan's nightmare.  However, I was really excited to go to a rodeo, since I've never been.  I figured I wouldn't be able to eat much there, so I packed some Larabars, and ate a lot before we went.

YEEHAW!!
The rodeo was quite the experience - watching real-life cowboys getting bucked off a horse, while not breaking their backs or necks, was amazing!  The food.....not so much.  As we made our way to the food court, I looked at the menus:  Sausage, sausage on a stick, steak, steak on a stick, hot dogs, hot dogs on a stick......you get the idea.  I found some guacamole (thank God!) and a baked potato (well, it was stuffed with butter, sour cream, cheese, bacon and pork).  Here's how that gem of a conversation went:

Me:  "Can I please have a plain baked potato."
Cashier:  "Okay, plain so just with butter and cheese then?"
Me: "Um, no, just totally plain, with nothing on it."
Cashier (looking very confused):  "Oh....okay, sure."

So this was my rodeo meal:



I put the guacamole on my baked potato - and it was really good.  It gave it the saltiness and creaminess that cheese would have, but without all the cancer.  Plus, I mean what's not better with guacamole!?!?

Next stop was my favorite restaurant while in Houston - Chuy's!  It's a fabulous Mexican restaurant with the BEST guacamole soft tacos I've ever had.  I mean, I dream about these things.  I was a happy, happy vegan.

Guacamole Tacos with rice and beans
Inside tacos
Besides eating guacamole and shopping with my sister-in-law, I had some fun QT with my niece, Daisy Mae.

Daisy Mae

She's not vegan.


Taking a break for a moment from the guacamole, we headed out for sushi on my last night in town.  This  sushi restaurant actually had a separate vegetarian menu.  How cool is that!?  I was excited when I found out that the tempura was vegan.  A lot of times, the tempura vegetables are made with an egg-based batter.  But these bad boys weren't.  And they were freaking awesome.  I forgot, for a moment, that I wasn't eating guacamole at this meal.

 



My last day in Houston was great - the weather finally cleared up and I had a really nice, relaxing lunch with my brother and sister-in-law.  We went the a restaurant we had been to before - it's almost completely vegan and so it's almost completely awesome.  Field of Greens.  Yeah so it also has an awesome name.  



I got the Vegan Tofu Burger.  I'm not usually a huge fan of tofu, but the dude at the counter said it was one of his favorites on the menu.  I ended up having to ask someone advice on what to order because it was taking me forever to decide.  As a plant-based rock star, I'm not used to actually having more than 2 or 3 options at a restaurant.  This was quite the treat!!  My brother went with the Green Pasta - a gluten free pesto pasta salad.  Both were amazing! 

Tofu Burger with a side salad
Had guacamole on it....phew!


Happy girl!
Salad even had vegan ranch dressing!





Pesto Pasta


I also treated myself to a green smoothie - naturally.  

 


It was a great trip.  I think I ate my weight in guacamole while I was there.  And I'm okay with that, because it was my little "splurge" for the weekend.  You would think that all I would be thinking about was what I couldn't eat........but on the contrary, I was so ridiculously focused on the yumminess that I could eat.  I mean, you see the things I ate!!  It was freaking plant-based heaven.......y'all!

Love & Kale,
Ali