The Other Munch

Two restaurants named Munch in one month.

Wednesday was my birthday and I had a big day planned. I squeezed in a short treadmill run before heading over to Akasha Yoga in Crystal Lake for a massage with Jessica at Wild Roots Yoga & Bodyworks. The hour long Thai yoga massage was just what my tight hips needed. After the massage, I headed down to Oak Park to grab lunch and do some shopping. The vegetarian (mostly vegan, but some dairy cheese is offered) restaurant Munch is much better than the Woodstock restaurant of the same name. This was my second time to Munch and the food is decent. It’s no Chicago Diner or Native Foods, but they don’t try to serve you kalamata olives with Thai dressing. I ordered the “Beefy” Tostada Plate with vegan cheese. The “chorizo” seitan was tasty. The salsa was the wrong texture for me – too chunky, but it was fine without the salsa.

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The best thing about Vegetarian Munch is that it serves Temptation ice cream, which means milkshakes! I got the cookie dough shake to go and headed over to Amour de la Terre.

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Amour de la Terre is Chicago’s new vegan shoe store. They had a bunch of great brands, including a new one I had not heard of, Coral 8. Unfortunately, Coral 8’s shoes run a tad big, which is a problem when you wear a size 6, the smallest size they make. I had to say no to these beautiful driving moccasins but I did get some sparkly pumps, which at least have a t-strap to secure them.

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The shoes are not only vegan, but eco-friendly, too. No cheap plastic shoes a la Payless here. The owners are super nice and I am so happy that Chicago has something like this.

They also have a small selection of kids shoes. E and Little H have gone 11 months without wearing shoes, but Little H is almost walking and winter is coming, so it’s time to buy them some shoes. However, the one time I did buy them shoes, they were too small, so the twins need to be with me to try some on. Of course, that means another trip to Oak Park for more milkshakes and shoe shopping!

Chicago Veggie Fest

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve taken the twins out by myself. It’s hard to coordinate feedings and pumping and naps. Plus there is no telling whether they’ll be fussy or happy. I took the risk last month to go down to Naperville for Veggie Fest. I left at morning nap time so they slept almost the whole way there. With the exception of a few fusses, they were good at the festival. There was a nursing tent so that made feeding and diaper changes easy. We played on the playground, walked around the booths, tried some Indian food (they weren’t so sure about that), listened to some music and tried to go to a talk on healthy eating for kids. We left around their afternoon nap. It was about as perfect as it could be.

I started off with a green smoothie.

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So Delicious was handing out free ice cream sandwiches. They also gave me some creamer to try.

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E in her bonnet. People can tell she’s a girl now (I used to get “two boys?” all. the. time). But one woman did ask whether I had two twin boys. No, the one in the floral bonnet is a girl.

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Lunch: Masala Dosa with Sambar

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More Indian snacks: Chole Bhatura

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Eating some English muffins in the stroller

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Enjoying the park

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I picked up the new book from Matt Frazier (of No Meat Athlete) and got a sticker, too.

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Take out from Chinese Palace: Sweet & Sour chick’n with noodles for dinner

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Munch!

It’s that time again! The Vegan Month of Food.

I don’t have a theme this year; I’m just trying to use Vegan MoFo to get my vegan blog mojo back. I’ll start of with a restaurant review.

Woodstock’s classic sushi/miniature golf combination ended this summer. Golden Rolls is moving to the former location of the world’s second worst restaurant, Vaughan’s Broasted Chicken. Major renovations had to be done, including removing some hideous wood siding to reveal a brick exterior! No wonder Vaughan’s closed; it had bad taste all around. There aren’t many restaurants that serve chips and guacamole along side AAC rolls and tofu steak, so I hope Golden Rolls opens soon.

A new restaurant opened up next to mini golf, Munch. We ordered take out from there. It’s still overwhelming to take two babies to a restaurant, but H said it looked baby-friendly. H called in an order; he checked the ingredients of a couple menu options that sounded vegan. However, I forgot to ask if they put butter on their hummus sandwich (?!?). Rookie mistake. Fortunately, I had some ciabatta buns in the freezer, so I transferred the “generous” schmear of hummus (the chef & I have different definitions of generous), lettuce, tomato & avocado to the ciabatta bun.

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I also got the hot ma-me salad, which was supposed to be served with edamame. The kitchen was out of edamame, so they subbed kalamata olives. I love kalamata olives, but they didn’t go well with spicy Thai peanut vinaigrette. The dressing was delicious with the other salad veggies and it would have been great to have the protein from edamame. H said the chef was very apologetic.

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Munch has potential; we’ll definitely go back again and hopefully they’ll have edamame.

We ate dinner at the kitchen counter while the twins played; our new normal “restaurant” experience.

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Four Years

Four years ago I finally made the decision to go vegan. After being vegetarian for 13 years and toying with the idea of being vegan for three years, I finally took the plunge in August of 2010. It has been one of the best decisions of my life. I’ve met some great people and eaten some delicious food over the past four years. And now I get to share that experience with two amazing people: E and Little H. 20140209-112103.jpg

E and Little H were born last October. We got off to a rough start with E spending almost 6 weeks in the NICU, but she was able to come home for Thanksgiving and has been doing great ever since. After many sleepless nights over the past nine months, I feel like we have somewhat of a routine now.

E and Little H have a great nanny, which has allowed me to go back to work part time, cook, train for a marathon, and occasionally take a nap. I’ve filled the blogging void with Instagram (follow me here), but I hope to get back into blogging at least once or twice a week now.

Besides baby smiles and laughs, the highlights of the last few months include:

1. Isa Does It. This cookbook is amazing. Most recipes are pretty quick, so it’s great for a week night. Everything we’ve tried has been delicious.

2. Getting back into running – the Woodstock Challenge 5K.

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3. A family trip to Wisconsin and a meeting of the cousins!

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4. A road trip to Nashville to celebrate the marriage of my best friend from high school.

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(The Wild Cow)

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(Khan’s Desserts)

5. A 24-hour trip to New Orleans for a bachelorette party

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6. Cookies – for Christmas, Chinese New Year, the Super Bowl, Groundhog Day, and St. Patrick’s Day

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Ramen

Ramen, the cheap college food staple, has become the newest food trend. Apparently people stand in line for hours to eat burgers with a bun made out of ramen noodles. At H’s request, I veganized the ramen burger.

You can use whatever burger recipe you want. I tried to do something with Asian flavors and threw in the ramen spice packets. For the bun, I cooked two packages of ramen (drained and rinsed) and combined with about 1/3 cup of Vegg. I formed 4 patties by using mason jar lids covered in tin foil and refrigerated them while I made the burgers. I topped the burgers off with bok choy and a spicy ketchup. It was good, but I wouldn’t stand in line for hours to get one.

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Whole Foods sells these vegan ramen flavors. Most, if not all, ramen sold in stores by me contains animal products. While it makes decent buns, it also is an easy snack, especially when you’re sick.

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And that concludes a very unsuccessful Suburban Vegan veganmofo. Apparently I overestimated how much I could blog this month. While I’m still not on bed rest, moving around has become more of a challenge. I’m lucky if I’m making one meal per week.

Chocolate Cupcakes

Today is Vegan Mania in Chicago and I am so sad that I cannot make it this year. I’ve been the last two years and it is a great event with tons of delicious food and great speakers. But we have so much work to do to get the nursery ready and if I go to Chicago, I need to go to the Land of Nod to get sheets. I don’t have time to go to Vegan Mania and Land of Nod and make it back to Woodstock in time for a 4:00 wedding. So, if we get everything done today, then we’ll go to Chicago tomorrow for a reward. We’ll get sheets, have lunch at Native Foods and get milkshakes at Chicago Diner. Happy Birthday to me! If you are in Chicago today, you better be going to Vegan Mania and eating Temptation soft serve ice cream for me and pre-ordering a coat from Vaute Couture.

Not going to Vegan Mania means that we’ll be able to stop by the Loft BBQ for lunch. So, of course, I made cupcakes for the occasion – chocolate with peanut butter frosting & sprinkles and cookies & cream.

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Butternut Squash & Chickpea Stew

One of my running friends also has twins and recommended joining the local multiples club. The group has play dates, book clubs, and mothers night out events. It also puts on a huge resale and offers meal support for new twin moms. I doubt I’ll take advantage of the latter because I think a vegan meal request would be too overwhelming for most McHenry County residents. But I’m more than glad to share the vegan love with other new moms. So I signed up to bring a butternut squash and chickpea stew with couscous and chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting for dessert. It stood out a bit from the chicken pot pie and meatloaf.

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All wrapped up and ready to go.

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Treeline Soft Cheeses

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Crystal Lake Health Food store has started selling Treeline Treenut Cheese. I tried the scallion flavor first.  I spread it over gluten-free crackers. It was good; it would have been even better with a glass of red wine. A lot of vegan cheeses are poor substitutes for the real thing, but nut based cheeses seem to be the exception.

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I used the herb-garlic flavor to make macaroni & cheese

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 12 oz. Macaroni or other Short Pasta
  • 6 oz. Treeline Cream Cheese
  • 3/4 c. Almond, Coconut, or Soy Milk
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Pepper

Cook pasta according to package.

Heat olive oil. Add non-dairy milk and stir. Add Treeline Cream Cheese and stir until combined.

Season with salt and pepper and combine with pasta.
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It’s not as good as VegNews’ famous mac & cheese, but it’s tasty and it’s quick and easy. We ate it with a Gardein grilled chick’n salad.

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Lemons & Blueberries

I have a friend who pins the most amazing looking baked goods on Pinterest. It’s my morning routine: feed the cat, grab a cup of decaf and curl up on the chaise to view Mary’s pins. Usually I just look, but every once and a while one makes it into my “Recipes that need to be veganized” board. One of those was a lemon blueberry yogurt cake.

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Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Loaf

Veganized from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

Loaf:
1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain coconut yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons ground flax seed
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (approximately 2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed and rinsed

For the Lemon Syrup:
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar

For the Lemon Glaze:
1 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom and sides of one 9 x 5-inch loaf pans; dust with flour, tapping out excess.

In a large bowl, whisk flax seed with 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon of water. Set aside for 5 minutes.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
In the large bowl, whisk together the flax eggs with the yogurt, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.

In a separate bowl, mix the blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of flour, and fold them gently into the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing loaf to a wire rack on top of a baking sheet.

While the loaf is cooling, make the lemon syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir together the lemon juice and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once dissolved, continue to cook for 3 more minutes. Remove from the heat; set aside.
Poke holes in the tops of the warm loaf and brush the top with the lemon syrup. Let the syrup soak into the cake and brush again. Let the cake cool completely.
To make the lemon glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and 2-3 tablespoons of the lemon juice. The mixture should be thick but pourable. Add more lemon juice if the mixture is too stiff. Pour the lemon glaze over the top of each loaf and let it drip down the sides. Let the lemon glaze harden, about 15 minutes, before serving. I used less glaze than the recipe called for and it was very good, but the glaze is delicious, so I’m sure using the whole amount would be pure sugar bliss.

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Blueberry lemonade

With the remaining lemon syrup, lemon juice and some frozen blueberries, I made a glass of blueberry lemonade.

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Vegan MoFo 2013 – Twinsies

The Best Pumpkin Muffins from Vegan with a Vengeance.

White chocolate chip & walnut

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My very first vegan cook book (bought in 2006); it’s seen better days.

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It’s Vegan MoFo 2013! This year it’s in September; I guess to get away from the 200 posts on pumpkin baked goods from previous October and November vegan mofos. So have a pumpkin muffin! The recipe title is accurate. As she was eating a white chocolate pumpkin muffin, my friend described them “the best.”

I haven’t been a very active blogger since I became pregnant. While I may have physically recovered from morning sickness, my motivation in the kitchen never bounced back. I imagine finding time to blog with two infants will be a challenge, so Vegan MoFo came at the right time this year. In honor of the twins, this year’s theme is Twinsies: similar but different foods (like pumpkin muffins done two ways), product reviews of two flavors, getting ready for the babies while eating enough protein for a multiples pregnancy.

White chocolate chip pumpkin muffins

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Walnut pumpkin muffins

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Together

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