Friday, December 30, 2011

Farewell 2011

I admit, I'm startled to find 2011 almost complete, but at least I'm still eating well even in my daze about the prospect of writing "2012" on things next week. This morning's breakfast was a new find of my Mom's: Multigrain Hot Cereal with flax and soy, cooked with 1/2 water and 1/2 vanilla soymilk. Topped with peaches. 

And now I'm going to indulge one of the things I love most about blogs: the chance to look back at memories, happy or sad, and see the way things turned out. There's an overwhelming amount, both foodie themed and otherwise and I can't cover all of them, so here's a few:

10 Significant Moments and Trials of 2011 
(In no particular order)

1. In February, I started a blog. This blog. Mostly food/health, but also other parts of my life. My parents were delighted because sometimes I post and that's proof that I'm still alive. Here's my first post.

2. In light of difficult medical school experiences, I had (and have) crippling crises of both confidence and identity. In this post [When the Scores Say You're not Enough] I tried to fight against feeling my scores were defining me. 

And in this post [Tachy Med Student in Tears] I wrote about how hard it is to always feel I'm doing something wrong. I'm muddling through, but this is something that will get better very slowly.

3. I took (and passed!) the first half of my medical boards, the USMLE Step 1. It was a bit harrowing, but I wrote about it here [USMLE Step 1-pocaplypse]. 

And in this post [Tachy Med Student: Step 1 Scores Released] I talked about the results and how I felt about it. 

4. I bought a coffeemaker and developed a daily habit. At some point I'd like to not be addicted, but that day is not today. Maybe that will be a 2012 resolution. 

5. On May 31, I got engaged! And I shared the story here.

6. I participated in Vegan Month of Food and posted 31 times in the month of October. A couple of my favorite posts were One Year Veganversary, Cooking Time Audit, and My 24th Birthday.

7. I tried 118 Degrees, a raw restaurant. I thought it was great, and John was a good sport, but I'm pretty sure he'll be okay if I never take him back. 

8. My hands and feet turned orange. I tried to stop eating carrots and sweet potatoes for awhile, but then we got to Fall and pumpkin season and I just decided to embrace it. 

9. I bought a bike and named her Nora. And started commuting by bike to class. Then I started third year and dressed in pencil skirts and mostly stopped. But I'm still glad I own a bike. 

10. I spent Christmas with my Fiance for the first time, after 5 years together, and got to meet his extended family.

Bonus: I ran my first 5k in November, but since I still haven't written about it, there's no post yet for that.

Happy New Year all, see you soon with some resolutions, and then in 2012! 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas! And Vegan Christmas Dinner

Happy Christmas all. I hope everyone was able to spend it happily with the loved ones that drive you crazy. As I mentioned before, I was with my fiance and future in-laws in Santa Cruz and we had a pretty great time. 

This is what Christmas morning looked like:

To hop back a day, Christmas Eve activities included the new Sherlock Holmes movie (very entertaining) and lunch at Alfresco - the very vegan-friendly food cart in Downtown Santa Cruz. 

I got the North African Stew over couscous and John got the spinach salad with brown rice. Both were very good. 

And for dessert a Vegan Vanilla Milkshake from Saturn Cafe. 

Christmas Eve dinner took a bit of planning. It was one of those times when I felt kind of weird for my food choices, and at the same time glad it's been over a year because I'm more comfortable adapting things to my needs. We went to Clouds, which had a lot of seafood and steak options, but I had called ahead and knew that the spinach salad without dressing or meat would work for me - but would basically be oil and vegetables. I wanted to bulk it up a bit, so I went to Trader Joe's ahead of time and bought the savory tofu, then chopped up half the block and stored it in a ziplock in my purse. Yes for real. Tofu in my purse. So when it came time for dinner, I added it to my salad, and it was awesome. Worth feeling kind of odd. 

And that brings us to Christmas Dinner.

Dinner had been ordered ahead of time from Honeybaked Ham for most of the group, so I wanted to make myself something simple and inexpensive.

Roast potatoes with savory tofu, steamed broccoli and cauliflower (thanks to John), and Trader Joe's parbaked rolls. 

Simple Roasted Red Potato and Onion (+/- tofu)

Small sack red potatoes, each quartered
1 onion, cut into 1/8ths
1/2 block pre-marinated or Trader Joe's savory tofu, chopped to bite size pieces
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Italian seasoning

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
2. Fill a pot with water and boil potatoes about 5-10 minutes, until softened.
3. Drain potatoes, then return to pot and shake (with the lid) 1-2 minutes.
4. Combine potatoes with the rest of the ingredients (except tofu if using) on a roasting pan and toss until coated. (I didn't measure any of my seasoning, but give a few liberal shakes of everything, and use enough oil to coat without drowning your veggies.)
5. Roast 30 minutes in the oven. Stir every 10 minutes for even crisping.
6. Add the tofu 10 minutes before finishing if using. 
7. Remove from the oven and place in a serving dish. Or if you're like me just serve it from the roasting pan. Adjust seasoning to taste.

This made a perfect main for me, and the leftovers made a contribution as a side dish for everyone else.

This morning John and I woke up at 5 to leave early for the long drive to my home in Oregon, and here we are. We're spending the next week with my family, and I'll be up here until the end of January for my family rotation.

I missed my sisters and parents a lot even though I had a wonderful time meeting my new relatives, and it feels nice to be home.

We'll be celebrating Christmas with the extended family on Wednesday, not to mention visiting friends and New Year's coming up. 

It's the day after Christmas, but there's lots to look forward to. 

We're blessed to be safe and with our loved one. 

Happy Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas Eve

Happy Christmas Eve! Greetings from Santa Cruz. 
(Check out this post for some Santa Cruz vegan food review from the last time I was here - Saturn Cafe is a gem.)

This year, for the first time ever, I'm not spending Christmas at home in Oregon. I'll see my family next week, but this year for Christmas I'm with Fiance and a large group of my future in-laws. It's the first time I've met this side of the family, and there's quite a few names to remember, but John briefed me with a family tree before we arrived, so I'm doing all right. We're having fun and I feel welcomed like part of the family. 

This past week we've had quite a few stops and activities.

We started in Loma Linda with the end of my OB/Gyn rotation. It's a relief to be done because the hours were long, but I did all right and liked it more than I thought I would. Still going to be a pediatrician though, definitely haven't changed my mind.

Then we went to John's parents' house in San Diego and spent some time with his family. 

We decorated a tree.

And this is Panda. He's precious.

We also went to Irvine for a night, Jamba juice oatmeal and the Carrot Karma smoothie. We did all our Christmas shopping while we were there, so now we're ready. Bring on Christmas. 

On the way up to Santa Barbara we stopped for lunch at Nature's Grill in Ventura. It's the same as Natural Cafe in Santa Barbara, and I got the vegan version of the Buddha burrito. It was enormous, but I saved half for lunch the next day.

We also stopped and dropped my ring off at Van Gundy's - the jeweler John purchased it from, and we got it sized and polished. It's now as shiny as when he first gave it to me. AND it fits. I thought my ring size was 6 - it's 4.5. For the past 7 months I've been wearing a ring snuggie and now no more - it's wonderful. 

My friend Bri had a baby in September and we got to meet him finally when we arrived in Santa Barbara. He and I got along great. I promise not to steal him, I'll just be a good aunt. 

There was also Thai food - Tom Kah soup. 

And Backyard bowls - no trip to Santa Barbara is complete without it. Hot oatmeal bowl (they make it with in-house cashew milk) with agave, strawberries, blueberries and walnuts. 

We found this in Ventura when we went to pick up my ring. It tasted like those chocolate oranges you get at Christmas, but better. And more reasonably sized - I was never able to stop eating those big orange ones before I felt sick. 

We did some cliff walking at Shoreline park in Santa Barbara. 

THIS is the best vegan pizza of my life. From Pizza Guru in Santa Barbara - this is the White House with vegan white sauce and Daiya. It also has sundried tomatoes and artichoke hearts. I ate half and saved the leftovers.

These are the Cowboy Cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. They have coconut, chocolate chips, pecans and oats. They might be my favorite from the book so far. 

And the next day brought us to Backyard Bowls again - this one is the Island Bowl, a blended Acai berry base with granola, fruit and coconut topping.

Lunch yesterday was the leftover pizza, and dinner was veggie pizza from Woodstock's here in Santa Cruz.

And now you're all caught up. Happy Christmas.

This morning I went on a 10 mile run. When I got back I couldn't feel my hands, but it was pretty fun. I left in the dark but looped back around in time for sunrise over the ocean and it was really beautiful. 

We're not sure what the rest of the day will hold, but it's Christmas Eve with family, so it will be good. 

And Merry Christmas to my other family - see you in a couple days!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal

A Breakfast Tale

John arrived to visit on Thursday, just in time for me to fall asleep. When I saw him after my day of work on Friday afternoon, I asked how the morning was. The exchange went like this:

Him: "It was all right."
Me: "Did you find something good for breakfast, I know I don't have any cereal."
Him: " don't have any breakfast food. Not even oats."

I proceeded to open my pantry to discover it was very true, I was out of oats. I vaguely remember back to sometime before Thanksgiving, running out of oats. However, I've literally eaten a banana and a Luna Bar for breakfast every day for a couple weeks (with the exception of when I was in Oregon, eating pie for breakfast). This isn't for lack of oats - it's because my stomach's just not awake at 4:30, so it has to be quite portable, and eaten between seeing patients or I'll be starving through rounds - more like 6:30. It didn't even occur to me that I hadn't bought oats. 

It's been a while since I put up a proper food post. This isn't really a recipe - just a favorite easy oatmeal combination I choose to write about in celebration of the fact that I actually got to eat a real breakfast today. I had to round, so was still up at 4 am and in by 5, just in case the list had blown up over night. However, we finished rounds (complete with a little teaching) in time for me to eat breakfast by 9 am, so I held out for some proper oatmeal. 

(Definition - "Blowing up the list": v. When the list of patients to be followed/taken care of on the service in the hospital gets significantly bigger in a short period of time.)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal
1/2 cup rolled oats + 6 oz. soymilk 
Microwave 2-3 minutes. Keep an eye on it, mine start to bubble over the sides around 2 minutes. 
5 g Ghirardelli Hot Chocolate Powder (your choice of flavor - it would probably work with other hot chocolate powders too, but Ghirardelli's pretty much the only widely available vegan one.)
 1/2 banana, sliced
1 tbsp peanut butter
Stir, let sit a few minutes to cool/thicken.
Enjoy like it's the last non-bar breakfast you'll eat for a week. 

Far too hungry to plate it pretty. Pretty okay with it. 

What do you forget when it gets busy?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December: Welcome.

I love December first. More than Nov 30, more than December 2. That's because December first is really truly finally Christmas season even by the accounts of those judgmental people that frown at me when I promptly start playing Christmas music on October 28. It's also still 24 full days until Christmas, and once Christmas actually comes, of course there's New Year's, but then it's kind of a dreary time, very minimal holidays, limited festiveness, just grumpy people trying to pay their Christmas credit card bills and stick to their unrealistic resolutions. Just me? Okay. So I want Christmas season to last as long as possible, and I love December first. 

So welcome December. Maybe it'll finally get cold down here in Southern California? All I know is it was 72 today and I was sweaty. 

Or I would have been, had I ever gone outside. The hospital OB/Gyn rotation is swallowing me up. I haven't run since Thanksgiving because I just can't bring myself to go to bed at 7 or 8 so I can get up at 3 so I can run before I go to the hospital. I still have a couple weeks, working weekends too, and when am I supposed to study? I get up at 4 am, hospital by 5 am and I'm there until at least 5:30 pm, sometimes lots later if there's a surgery going or something. Maybe it's not that much and I'm being a wimp? Probably. I know all my fellow students are in the same situation. We all do this. I guess I'm just a month in and tired. It's not that I dislike it, it's that I would dislike anything on this little sleep. 

Which brings me back to my original point - Christmas season! Thank goodness. I can't wait. 

I want to set a reasonable December goal, but I really have no idea. If I eat and shower in a day it's a pretty big deal right now. I like working toward goals, but I don't have any energy left to give this month. 

How about something I simply can't fail?

This December I'm setting a goal of listening to all my Christmas music - at least once per song.
I could listen for 12 hours and not hear the same song twice, so it's actually not insignificant. 

We'll start with this one:
I'm 12 on the inside. 

Happy December!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Vegan Thanksgiving

I know, it's already Nov 27 and maybe you're getting out your Christmas decorations and dominated some Black Friday shopping and you're thinking, "What? Just now you're posting a Thanksgiving meal? That was ages ago."

And to that I say, fair question, and yes, I'm just now getting to it. I've been deeply immersed with my family in many games of Bananagrams and I am very okay with it. For Thanksgiving we had my immediate family (Mom, Dad, Sisters x3) plus my Dad's parents, and Aunt Karen, Uncle Bruce and their two little boys. It was great to spend it all together.

See? Family.






Thanksgiving Food

So when you're the only vegan at Thanksgiving, what do you eat? I think it varies by the person. Some of you in carnivorous households are probably stuck with salad and a potato you baked yourself, but my family's a blessing and I had a feast like nothing else. Almost everything on the table had a little vegan version for me.

Vegan Stuffing Balls - made with a flax egg instead of real. They were more crumbly than usual, but tasted great.

Mashed potatoes.

The whole wheat ones are from Great Harvest, they're vegan. 

Sweet potatoes with orange, lemon, sugar and cinnamon, made with Earth Balance instead of butter. 

Corn casserole with coconut milk. Cheese-topped except for the little close corner there for me. 

Veggies. Naturally vegan.

And don't forget the sparkly.

My actual plate: Roll, corn casserole, potato, stuffing ball, salad and sweet potatoes. I ate at least 3x that sweet potato amount and 2x the stuffing during cooking. 

Nicola: "Look! I'm on a roll."

Mom, Uncle Bruce, G-rents. 

My precious sisters.

Cute faces run in the family it seems. 

And dessert? 

Vegan versions of both Apple and Pumpkin Pie. With coconut milk vanilla ice cream. 

Left: Vegan. Right: Regular. You can tell that it doesn't hold together quite as well without egg, but it tasted great.

My dessert plate. Okay, I had like 3x this. I don't mess around with Thanksgiving. 

Happy [late] Thanksgiving all. 

How did you celebrate Thanksgiving?