Sunday, October 2, 2011

gone bananas for baked bananas

New obsession alert: baked banana.

I shy away from complicated recipes because, let's be real, life is already complicated enough without long ingredient lists and big messes.

Then I found the easiest recipe in the world:
(1) Set oven to 400 degrees.
(2) Insert whole banana.
(3) Bake for 15 minutes.

I was a little freaked out when I saw the banana was black (like really, did I mess up this simple of a recipe?) But as soon as I caught a whiff of the hot gummie-bear-banana, I knew it was true love.

All you have to do is peel the banana and dig in with a spoon. The experience reminds me of a warm banana pudding. You can also add sugar/agave/maple syrup to make it super duper sweet.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

GF/V Review: Arlington, Virginia actually has GF/V cupcakes!

I did a good deed the other week--not expecting cupcakes in return--but then, I got cupcakes in return! Not just any cupcakes, but two gluten-free, vegan cupcakes!

You may wonder why this is such a big deal. It's because I live in Arlington, Virginia, where the only vegan cupcakes are at the
Bakeshop, and they're not gluten-free.

Where did these little gems come from? Red Velvet Cupcakery, tucked away inside Rabbit Salad and Grill in Clarendon.

Karma bestowed upon me two flavors: vanilla on vanilla and chocolate on chocolate. For those of you who don't know me, I'm hands down a vanilla-on-vanilla sort of gal, so it's not surprising I licked the frosting off that sucker first (first I lick off the frosting, then I eat the cake...frosting is superior to cake). My ratings are below:

Vanilla frosting: A+ (simply spectacular)
Vanilla cake: B+/A- (it was perfectly delicious, but could have used a wee bit more sugar)
Chocolate frosting: A+ (I don't even like choco frosting that much, but this was the bomb)
Chocolate cake: C (ehhhhhh)

Now that I'll be getting my cupcake on on the regular, I took a gander at the Rabbit Salad and Grill menu. Although I have not inquired about the ingredients and can't say for certain it's GF, I am very intrigued by crusted-tofu-with-bell-peppers-and-zuchinni entree. I have a sneaking suspicion I will be testing it out soon.

By the way, the pictures for this post suck more than usual because my main concern was getting at the vanilla frosting, and not documenting the cupcake for my readers. Whoops.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

cutting the crap: avoiding over-priced and nutritionally-hollow GF breakfasts

My biggest issue as a gluten-free vegan was figuring out the breakfast situation. The products marketed to the GF crowd are generally made of a combination of corn and sugar, potato and sugar, or rice and sugar. They also generally contain honey, which is a no-go for honey-abstaining vegans. Not only are cereals and bars made by big GF companies like Glutino nutritionally hollow, they are also more expensive than your average cereal or bar.

Although I found some refuge in EcoPlanet Instant Hot Cereal--which includes wholesome gluten-free grains like quinoa and amaranth--I was very annoyed to pay around six dollars a box for a few measly bags that did not even fill me up and couldn't get me through the week.

So over feeling mal-nourished or hungry after the most important meal of the day (while still paying a pretty penny) I decided to go macrobiotic and get back to basics for breakfast. Why was I paying six dollars for a GF oatmeal made partly of quinoa, when I could buy quinoa in bulk for 3.99 a pound (re-using the bag and forever losing the box) and make something way tastier, healthier, and cheaper myself? (Quinoa has eight grams of protein and five grams of fiber per one-cup serving).

And that's just what happened. My new breakfast obsession is quinoa in a bowl of almond milk, with a chunk of raw, crunchy almond butter, and sprinkled with cinnamon and ginger. Sometimes I add chopped bananas for an extra kick. I realize the picture I posted might look disgusting to some, but I promise it's so yummy. For those who want a sweet breakfast, I would recommend either adding fruit, using vanilla milk, or adding agave or sugar.

As a side note, someone recommended cooking quinoa in almond milk instead of water to make it taste more breakfast-y. I find no difference in the taste of quinoa based on whether I cook it in water or almond milk.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

GF/V Review: Sun Cafe is my new hot spot

Heading back east for law school poses a huge problem: letting go of my summer addiction, Sun Cafe (also known as Sun Power Natural Cafe, located at 3711 Cahuenga Blvd, Studio City).

I've tried a few things on the menu, but I believe I have my order down to an art. Bring a friend and split a raw Supreme Pizza and a half size of the raw Kale Colossus (the half size is huge). If you only have time for a drive-by, order the Sweet Kale shake (kale, cashew, banana, agave) with a shot of spirulina and 1/2 the usual amount of agave (unless you want it really sweet). You can also sub dates instead of agave as the sweetener.

Let me start with the pizza. Such perfection is hard to come by in a pizza, let alone a raw, gluten-free, vegan pizza. The glory of the Supreme Pizza is that you don'teven have to be a raw foodie to enjoy it. If it's so good, you may wonder why I recommend splitting: because the crust is made out of seeds (and maybe some nuts) and the raw cheese is also made from some kind of nut or seed...and all that seed/nut action leaves you feeling a little
queesy after stuffing your face with the entire thing.

This is why you must also get the Kale Colossus, which is the most amazing kale salad--in fact, the most amazing salad--I have ever had. Don't be deterred by the banana; I also thought that combo seemed odd. Turns out, it's also taste bud perfection. The dressing is a sort of raw, vegan twist on ranch with some sort of cashew cheesy sauce.

As for the dessert, I tried the raw chocolate cheesecake. It was good, but I'll never order it again because a) it wasn't that good, and b) the raw cheesecake is also nutty and how many nuts can I person eat without feeling sick?

I'm also super happy to know that Sun Cafe is only two years old, but still making it in the valley during a rough economy. In my experience, everyone who works there is super friendly and I love the environment. Definitely check it out!

See the menu.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

the hardest part of being a gluten-free vegan...

Being a gluten-free vegan is very do-able, but challenging. However, I have a bigger problem than the handful of GF options at my favorite veg restaurants, or the burden of carrying mini packets of GF soy sauce in my bag.

The hardest part of being a gluten-free vegan is dealing with the people around me, and in many instances, the closest people to me.

Since I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease a few months ago, many have overwhelmed and disheartened me with their skepticism, backhanded criticism, and otherwise discouraging commentary.

None of this makes sense to me. With a macrobiotic, gluten-free, vegan life, my body finally feels right—for once, everything seems to be working. Stomach acid? Gone. Constant bloating? Gone. Asthma? Dramatically reduced and improving regularly. Muscle aches? Dramatically reduced.

My feelings of wellness outweigh any challenge that a gluten-free vegan lifestyle poses. I do not want to eat gluten, “not even a little” as those around me prod, because it makes me sick. I do not want to be sick.

All and all, I am just confused as to why a person would think that pressuring me into eating flesh—something that I am intellectually and emotionally uncomfortable with eating—would improve my quality of life. Although my transition to GF/V was a bit of a struggle, I am now very happy with how I eat and am thankful that Celiac Disease gave me the push I wanted to go macrobiotic. I have now experienced for myself that foods can heal the body and truly impact the mind.

This post is not to say I am uncomfortable discussing the challenges of my lifestyle or having conversations about what I eat or how it has changed my life. I simply mean that when a person comes at me with a negative attitude, or implies that I am unhappy or hungry, I get annoyed.

I love food—it just might be different food than you enjoy. I have found that people become very uneasy and even rude around people who subscribe to a minority dietary lifestyle. I don’t fully understand what that’s about, but I prefer to enjoy my kale-cashew-banana shake in peace. Thanks.

Monday, July 11, 2011

"feminist" guilt: how demonizing sexist expression is an intellectual no-carb diet

I begin this post with a qualifier: there is no single type of "feminism" or "feminist ideology". For the purposes of my discussion, I am referring to a particular feminist narrative that has drastically shaped and continues to shape my life, and in no way seek to cast feminism as one-size-fits-all. Further, my analysis does not speak to all--but to young girls and women who may identify with my lifestyle and experiences.

Back to the point.

The feminist narrative I speak of has certainly changed and developed over time, but in the aggregate, it is crudely summarized as follows: (1) because I am a woman, I am viewed as a sexual object; (2) because I have been raised a woman with a feminine gender performance, I have internalized sexist norms, intertwined them with my own concept of self-esteem, and have become my own oppressor; (3) because I have been raised a woman with a feminine gender performance, I have been indoctrinated with aspirations of reproducing in a nuclear-family setting; and (4) because I have been raised a woman with a feminine gender performance, all expressions of sexuality and aging devalue me.

You can imagine the impact these new-found beliefs had on a former cheerleader who enjoyed all-pink ensembles and celebrity gossip--my world turned upside down.

Disgusted with myself and the material possessions I idolized, I embarked on a new journey during my college years. With a shaved head and unshaven legs, I was determined to transcend the misogynist and oppressive cultural norms that had me constantly vying for hetero male attention as a vehicle for self-worth. I'm a smart, ambitious girl; how did I ever fall for such an anti-intellectual and de-humanizng arrangement?

I can't recall the exact order of what happened next, but as my hair began to grow out, and my reclusive obsession with self-discovery faded into my return and re-claiming of the party scene, I had to come to grips with an undeniable reality: I love high heals, short dresses, and dancing.

Now, feel free to psychoanalyze that all you want; trust me, I do it all of the time. But the bottom line is, however arguably "sexist" or "degrading" these behaviors are, one way or the other, they have become a part of my expression; whether I am a willing participant or simply brainwashed, I love me some top 40 and a good dance floor.

Throughout the past few years of feminist guilt weighing in the back of my mind as I picked out stilettos, LBDs, and crop tops, I found justification with the fact that as long as I am thinking about and questioning my own desires and their implications, I can be intellectually comfortable with crossing the boundary between intelligent feminist and unrestrained fun-seeker. Although I have struggled with whether I am serving as a true role model to younger girls, I have taken comfort in encouraging ambition, confidence, self-discovery, higher education, career-orientation, and open communication.

All of this being said, lately, I have been thinking a lot about this "guilt" and what it means. And then it occurred to me. How can a feminist voice reach young girls when that voice, while motivated by ideals of liberty and humanism, effectively demonizes most forms of expression with which (many) heteronormative girls identify? As a general matter, you are simply asking girls to fail and hate (a part of) themselves. This method is as flawed as a no-carb diet.

In most cases, people on no-carb diets demonize "bad foods", typically cheat, punish themselves, rinse, and repeat. If you are self-regulating and self-destructive enough to stick to life of restriction, I suspect you will not fully experience or enjoy your life. I think the same applies with demonizing all forms of expression that (my) feminist narrative considers oppressive.

As with food, a relationship with any type of feminism should be mindful, nourishing, and fulfilling. If it isn't--something isn't working for you. Not to say you should give up without a fight, but I cannot ask young girls to jump on a bandwagon that may (in some cases) have them feeling unreasonably left out for not participating in subject activity, or "cheating" and feeling "guilty". That's not my brand of feminism. (note: sometimes it's better to be left

Throughout the past 6 years of my self-discovery, my world view has developed, changed, become un-complicated, and become more complicated in lots of really interesting, challenging, and exciting ways. The more I grow, the more I identify with one of my favorite quotes from Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins: "there are no group solutions."

Where I am right now in my ever-evolving journey works for me--and I no longer feel guilty about it. Not that I am so old, or so wise, or so accomplished, but my message to young girls is to challenge, but also to love, all parts of you.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Last night, GFVFBF and I headed down to Santa Monica to check out Planet Raw--a casual joint that boasts a menu of exclusively raw, gluten-free, and vegan food (except certain items contain honey). In short, my mind was blown. GFVFBF agrees.

Some background. The raw food movement is a dietary belief that uncooked food is healthiest (although food can be heated to 104-118 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the raw foodie you ask).

Appetizer. To start with we had spring rolls sans avocado (I'm allergic). Honestly, it was INCREDIBLE. The sauce is something to the tune of blended cashews, lemon, ginger, and garlic. As you can tell by the picture, it's really creamy and tasted so good that GFBFVF and I were eating it plain when we finished the spring rolls. GFBFVF, who generally doesn't like cabbage, loved the shredded cabbage with the spring roll sauce.

Entree #1. GFBFVF had the good sense to order the cheesy
kelp pasta. Again, words can't describe how creamy and amazing the raw cheese was. This dish was so delicious that I have been fantasizing about eating it all day today. This dish contained cauliflower, and, like the cabbage, GFVFBF was all over it even though he normally doesn't like cauliflower.

Entree #2. Despite the perfection of the spring rolls and cheesy kelp pasta, I could not stand the pad thai--for the sole reason that it contained a lot of rosemary. First, I hate rosemary and all things rosemary-flavored with a fiery passion; it sickens me. Second, who in their right mind would think that
pad thai would come with rosemary? Barf. GFVFBF, on the other hand, enjoys rosemary and thought it was a fine dish (although I think he was lying to make me feel less guilty about scarfing down his cheesy kelp pasta...what a lovely partner I have).

Although I LOVE LOVE LOVE Planet Raw and will be a devoted patron for as long as I live, there are a few things that I didn't like. First, it tries to be a restaurant and a raw food quickie mart at the same time in a very small space. I find it rather disjointed and would prefer it to be less casual. Second, GFBFVF and I had an early dinner (around 6), but ingredients had run out for 3 of the dishes we originally wanted (this is how I ended up with the nasty rosemary wannabe pad thai).

Complaints aside, Planet Raw is now on my favorite list and I cannot wait to go back again.

Monday, May 23, 2011

"Health Care Reform Starts in Your Mouth"

Garrett Mize really hit the nail on the head in his piece "Health Care Reform Starts in Your Mouth."

As a progressive political activist, I attend a lot of political get-togethers and events. But if you take a look at the food offered at any one of these events, you’d think I was at a Republican fund-raising dinner for Sarah Palin. At fancy dinners steak, pork tenderloin, and lobster is on the menu. At activist events and phone-banks cheese pizza with pepperoni and extra sausage is the preferred choice. At morning grassroots planning meetings breakfast tacos filled with egg, cheese and sausage and bagels with flavored cream cheese are the expected progressive staples...It doesn’t make a lot of sense to chow down on pizza while phone-banking for health care reform, or to have a BBQ party to celebrate a successful legislative session that included the expansion of health care...
Obviously it's extreme to say one must eat 100% healthy food 100% of the time. I read this in terms of general lifestyle trends, and not as a call to police every bite of food.

The article continues with a great clip of BC. Really hoping the plant-based message can at least resonate with people vulnerable to or struggling with heart disease.

GF/V Review: Rice Divine's Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Ice Cream

Despite the rumors that us vegans only eat vegetables, many of us (me included) love to get down with some ice cream. Celiac Disease impacts my love of ice cream, particularly when it comes to coconut, rice, almond, or soy milk ice creams that have cookie chunks in them (sad panda).

Now that I'm living at home in LA for the summer (woot woot), Mama Bear brings home lots of goodies for me from Whole Foods. Today's goodie: Good Karma Organic Rice Divine Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge.

I totally dig this flavor. While the chocolate-flavored ice cream isn't anything out of the ordinary, the magic lies in the fact that it's filled with chunks of GF/V cookies and random spots of organic, creamy peanut butter.

But, don't take my word for it. After all, I have the warped taste buds of 3.5 years of vegan living and don't even remember what ice cream made from cow lactation is even like any more. For a more objective assessment, I put this flavor to The Dylan Test. In case you don't remember, Dylan is a grubby 7th-grader who lives off of hamburgers, french fries, pizza, and Coke.

Turns out, this flavor passes. As Dylan salivated and back-washed melted ice cream all over my spoon, he described the flavor as "awesome."

(Although, I will admit that I didn't want to give Dylan a bite with cookie or PB chunks, so his reaction is based solely on the plain chocolate ice cream. Whoops.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

If you're leaving veganism, be honest about it.

Perusing Ecorazzi, I was quite peeved to read about Ginnifer Goodwin's cowardly bow out of veganism.

If you no longer desire to be a vegan, just be honest that you wanted to stuff your face with animal flesh, lactation, or embryos. No one can knock you for sharing your sincere feelings.

But if, instead, you take the Goodwin route--scapegoating on "health" issues--you only reaffirm the damaging myth that vegans are necessarily weak or somehow nutritionally lacking. And let's be real, her feeble attempt at saving face didn't work. This interview is obnoxious.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Candy Tree's Gluten-Free/Vegan Licorice

Dear readers,

I have been keeping something from you--my new fav treat!

After my diagnosis with Celiac Disease, I was devastated to learn that my fav candy, licorice, is conventionally made with gluten products.

Hearing my sorrow, my very gluten-free/vegan friendly partner--let's call him my GFVFBF--sent me a box of Candy Tree licorice, which are both gluten-free and vegan.

I love them. I will admit, they do taste "healthy" and therefore, not just anyone will appreciate them (not sure that they would pass the Dylan Test). I, on the the other hand, am happy to turn in Red Vines for these organic, naturally-sweetened, naturally-colored delights. Also, they are a bit chewy, but well worth the extra jaw work.

In fact, they are so delish that, upon hearing I finished a boxful, GFVFBF sent in re-enforcements just in time for finals.

Ingredients: organic corn syrup, organic rice flour, organic rice starch, organic concentrated fruit juice (raspberry and apple), organic raspberry flavor.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

"meat reducers"--so hot right now

Cheers to a new wave of meat eaters: meat reducers!

Vegetarian Star and Ecorazzi recently covered Chipotle founder Steve Ell's identification as a meat reducer:
“I used to think of meat in the center of the plate. Today, I am a meat reducer. This means I eat less meat and make sure that the limited meat I do eat is of the highest quality. My plate is comprised of seasonal and local vegetables with meat as an accompaniment. While this is a healthier diet, the main reason I now eat this way is because it tastes better and I feel better.” Read more
Love it.

Perhaps in time, Steve Ell's will join Steve Wynn and Bill Clinton in the "rise of the power vegans."