Posts Tagged ‘Vegetarian’

Super Saturday!

I finally went out last night for the first time in weeks now that everyone’s back in town! It was so great getting to see everyone again; highly reinvigorating and a good way to start Lent Term. Aside from the amazingness of seeing everyone again, I also discovered one of my new favorite places in London: Porterhouse! We started our night there yesterday and they have my most favorite strawberry-kiwi cider drink (they score automatic points for that), plus a great atmosphere and a live band! Here’s proof of happiness:

With classes beginning on Monday, I hadn’t had a great deal planned for today. My friend’s boyfriend is in town until tomorrow and we all planned on linking up for lunch today so I could finally meet him. After looking for veg-friendly joints around town, we decided to hit up Covent Garden’s Food for Thought. Now, I have been to FFT on one occasion, but it was for take-away late in the evening and the selection was super limited. Today, however, we were (literally) first in line when the doors opened and had a seriously delicious veggie meal! I was the only vegetarian in the group and the other kiddos (read: carnivores) loved the food, too! Super healthy, super affordable, super homemade and super delicious! If you happen to hit it up while you’re perusing Covent Garden (it’s on Neal Street), definitely opt for the Caribbean stew if it’s on the menu. It’s a bowl of pure deliciousness. I surmise it’s secretly laced with crack cocaine; it’s highly addicting. Side note: it’s cash only. Sad.

After our rendezvous in Covent Garden, P. and her boyfriend, A., had planned on catching a matinée showing of Les Mis at the Queen’s Theatre in Soho. Since I didn’t have any afternoon plans (aside from doing nothing and being holed up in my room), a small group of us ended up going together! We snagged tickets for a super affordable £15 each and ended up with a pretty decent view! I am a serious musical-lover and I definitely expected great things of one of the most renowned musicals of all times. Although the performance was great and the music was spectacular, I wouldn’t see it again. There are some musicals that I would see over and over (The Lion King, Wicked, Phantom), but this is definitely not one of them. It’s pretty depressing & the plot is semi-confusing if don’t familiarize yourself with it beforehand. That being said, it was still a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon & worth £15! Next on my list of musicals: Avenue Q. I’ve been dying to see it for months & I am definitely going before it stops playing (March 2010).

Now it’s 730P, I’m back at home after a fun-filled (and freezing!) day and am ready to sit in bed in my pajamas drinking hot chocolate (Wen, if you’re reading this — I DO like hot chocolate). Class is starting Monday and the reality is finally setting in. Gotta get a few readings done today and tomorrow so I can bring my A game this week!

Hope everyone’s weekend is superb!

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Regaining My Spirit…

…Today has marked the first day of valiant attempts at regaining my spirit. After nearly two weeks of not being able to hit the gym (a week in Malta + time in Scotland + holidays do well to sabotage my gym-going), I finally got in an hour of cardio followed by an hour and a half yoga class. It was invigorating, indeed, if not a bit ambitious. I can already feel the soreness plaguing my legs; it’s truly amazing how tight one’s hamstrings can get in two short weeks without proper exercise. I have effectively stretched them out but not without a bit of pain. I’m happy to say I’m back on track with my gym and eating habits just in time for the New Year!

After that super fun-filled gym session, Wen and I hit up Sherlock Holmes at the Empire Theatre in Leicester Square to further revive my spirit. I think Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have been proud to see Guy Ritchie’s work on this film. Good movie, substantial plot and a hot cast — Robert Downey, Jr. + Jude Law + Rachel McAdams = a lot of gorgeousness on the screen at any given time. Now I’m back at home, marinating in bed with a much-needed cup of coffee in my hand to ward off evil spirits (aka caffeine headaches) watching Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. I just ran across this list ranking Disney movies from 48th up to 1st place and I was a bit surprised by the outcome… How can 101 Dalmatians or Pinocchio outrank the likes of Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast or the Lion King? Perhaps it’s a generational thing… in any case, I’m re-watching Sleeping Beauty (haven’t watched it in a good 15 years) to see what puts this film ahead of 38 other films in the ranking. I find that in re-watching some of these movies as an adult, I pick up on some adult humor/innuendos that I hadn’t noticed as a kid. (Note: Re-watch Disney’s Hercules… it’s much funnier as an adult!)

On the agenda for tomorrow — gymming (complete with Pilates sesh!) followed by a visit to Zara… there are loads of amazing sales this time of year and I plan to enjoy a few of them while I can! Also, on a different note, I have been revisiting the idea of veganism. I had attempted to go from vegetarian to vegan once upon a time but had a difficult time when I realized how difficult the process truly is (eggs and dairy are in everything). With a bit of a stronger spirit, I have been investigating the move once more… it’s definitely a possibility for 2010! Anyone interested in veganism, check out this great blog: FatFree Vegan Kitchen… great recipes! Mmm!

Lots of love,

Does Food Here Really Suck?

I was perusing the aisles of Sainsbury’s on my way home from class yesterday and starting filling my mini basket up with groceries for the week when I realized that I have fallen into a routine. There are some things that I absolutely love here; my go-to items, if you will. All, in all, I find that aside from produce being a little lackluster, some of the stuff here is actually pretty great! My new favorite things:

1. Cauldron Mushroom Burgers: Pure deliciousness. I was slightly afraid that the British grocery chains wouldn’t be as accommodating for vegetarians, but I discovered quite the opposite! The Cauldron Mushroom Burgers are absolutely ahhh-mazing! I could seriously eat them every day without question. They were out of stock yesterday and I could nearly feel tears welling in my eyes.

VegPot

2. Innocent Veg Pots: I’ve never seen these bad boys in the US, but they’re probably one of my most favorite inventions ever. They’re perfect for students because they take 4 minutes to microwave and I managed to snag two for 5 pounds yesterday! They’re really low-fat and low cal (most are under 300 calories) + they have three servings of veggies and are pure amazement. The Moroccan Giant Cous Cous is one of my faves!

Hot Chocolate3. Options Mint Madness Hot Chocolate: Hot chocolate is the ultimate comfort for me, but real hot chocolate is way too sugary and has too many calories for me to actually enjoy. Swiss Miss has their low-calorie stuff (25 calories per pack), but it just tastes like brown water and splenda. Options Mint Madness hot chocolate is amazing and it’s only 34 calories per serving. They actually sell their stuff in individual packets (the only way you can purchase it at Sainsbury’s) and I think the lady thinks I’m crazy because I purchase between 5 and 7 every single time I’m in. Yes, they’re THAT good.

4. Cauldron Marinated Tofu Pieces: Delish! I’m always wary of marinated tofu because the flavors can be a little off, but these guys have it down pat! A little salty, but they work well in recipes or mixed into stir-fry! Mmmm.

Fruit n Fiber

5. Kellogg’s Fruit n’ Fibre Cereal: It’s really weird seeing the Kellogg’s name on cereals I’ve never heard  of, but this Fruit n’ Fiber cereal is actually legit! I was a bit thrown off the first time I tried it since the fruit part of the equation constitutes dried fruits and raisins, but it’s actually quite delish with a bit of soy milk (which Brits refer to as soya milk…hmmmm.)

5. Hummous. I love all things chickpea, so the fact that hummous is ridiculously prevalent and inexpensive here pretty much makes my life. I can snag them for 1 pound each at Marks & Spencer (low cal versions, too) or I can get them 2 for 1.50 at Sainsbury’s (no low-cal that I’ve seen as of yet). Absolutely delicious with carrot batons!

Most of the food has actually been pretty good here. Granted the fruit isn’t quite as fresh, ripe or juicy as we’re used to/spoiled with in California, but for the most part, I have found some awesome things to stock my fridge and pantry with!

Anyone have any other amazing British goodies that they’re loving?

Signature Stamp - Shannon

‘Wicked’ & Wine!

Wicked

Considering the fact that I have been diligently holed up for the past week, working voraciously on my presentations, papers, etc., I felt (semi)justified in going out a few evenings this week! After Wednesday’s Arsenal match, I needed another amazing event to top off Thursday night! I organized a trip to see ‘Wicked’ at the Apollo Victoria theatre (which is conveniently a stone’s throw away from the Victoria tube station) for my Social Policy & Development group. In total there were 16 of us and it was a blast! I happen to be a lover of musicals/plays/general live performances and Wicked definitely exceeded my expectations. The set, the lighting, the singing, the music — it was all amazing! Plus, because we were a large group of students, I managed to snag superb tickets for £17.50 per person (versus £45-£60 that they would normally be)!

Andy & I at the TheatreLadies
We all had such a blast, we’re hoping to plan Round 2 at the Gielgud Theatre in Soho to catch a showing of Avenue Q! If Wicked is playing at a theatre near you, I highly recommend it. It’s almost tied with the Lion King for amazingness!

Last night, after having too much fun on Wednesday and Thursday, my flatmate and I wanted to keep it low key with date three at Mildred’s in Soho. For the record: the risotto cake was out of this world! Whether you’re a veggie or a carnivore, it is definitely something that can be appreciated by all. After a few glasses of wine there, we met up with a group of folks at Gordon’s Wine Bar, apparently the oldest wine bar in London. Rudyard Kipling actually lived in the building back in the day! The place has a very cool vibe; it’s underground in what could best be described as a cave. It’s dimly lit, reasonably priced and a great place to mingle with a slew of different people! A must visit if you enjoy wine.

Gordon's Wine Bar

After three nights of fun, today is dedicated to finishing up my presentation for Monday and working on my paper for the coming week. Only a few more weeks of crazy intensity and then back to having a semi-normal schedule!

Hope everyone’s weekend is fantastic!

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Mmmm…Mildred’s <3.

As luck would have it, my blonde Californian flatmate happens to be a fellow vegetarian with a love for all things chickpea. The chances that we got placed into the same flat are probably relatively astronomical and very fortunate since I now have someone to share my soy and hummus-loving ways with. Yesterday night marked week number two of our newly-minted weekly ritual involving veggie love at Mildred’s in Soho. Mildred’s is all vegetarian (and mostly vegan) and has a pretty solid variety of vegetarian fare.

Mildred'sI had some of the best tostadas ever (aubergine + courgettes  + guac = heaven) and Lindsay’s chickpea, pumpkin & beetroot burger looked amazing! Plus, the side of sweet potato fries is intensely amazing if you love sweet potatoes. {Side note: For anyone that’s yet unaware, sweet potatoes are the most amazing food of life and, thus, my favorite food on the planet. Sweet potato pie, sweet potato latkes [for the Jew in me], sweet potato casserole… delish.}

Lindsay

Check out Mildred’s main courses here — even for the carnivores out there, you’d be surprised at how delicious vegetarian food can actually be when prepared properly! Can’t wait for next Wednesday!!

Does anyone know of any other London-based vegetarian spots worth hititng up?

Sending lots of veg love your way,

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Platform 9 3/4… plus the National Gallery & Buckingham Get a Visit!

It’s 110P right now and I’m currently sitting in the third floor of the library, where I have comfortably been stationed since 9A. I find that trying to handle my readings and note taking in my room is next to impossible with all of the nearby distractions: the kitchen, facebooking, flatmates to talk with, etc. In the library, I feel a bit more dedicated. I do need a break though, so I thought it would be a good time to post some fun pictures from yesterday!

Friday night, I put my new mattress topper (courtesy of Argos!) on my bed and if sleep time is any indication of the mattress’ success, then this thing is Grade A. I slept in until 1030A. For anyone that knows my sleeping habits, you know that 1030 is about an hour longer than I have ever slept in in my life! I’m normally up by 730A on weekends to get a good start on the day; occasionally, I find myself sleeping in until 830, but it’s very rare. 1030… that’s definitely one for the books. In any case, I hit Oasis Sports Centre immediately and got a good solid workout in by 12P. Alex and I met up with a bunch of fun Canadians at the National Gallery for a quick run-through around 130P to get a start on our afternoon. The National Gallery is quite a sight; admission is free and there are loads of amazing artists that have their work displayed. We passed by some works by Van Gogh, Cezanne and other influential artists, but only got through about 30 minutes of artsy gallivanting before ADHD/general short attention span syndrome peeked its nasty little head.

The National Gallery

Although Alex was pumped to see Van Gogh’s sunflowers, this painting (below) was my most fave. Random, but definitely amazing up close:Van Gogh

After the Gallery, we headed to Buckingham Palace to check out the sights and snag a picture of a beefeater (and a picture with a bobby!)

Bobby Action!

Gates of Buckingham

After doing the super fun/touristy Buckingham deal, we decided to make our way to King’s Cross, the site of the infamous Platform 9 3/4. Due to the fact that most of us are huge Harry Potter geeks afficionados, we were intensely pumped on nabbing some awesome shots.

Platform 9 3/4 // King's Cross

We headed to a nearby pub to grab a few drinks and a bite to eat before I headed home for the evening and locked myself up to get some readings handled. I am happy to announce that London is official veg-friendly; the menu had veggie bangers and mash, veggie lasagna, veggie jacket potatoes and (my choice) a veggie burger with chips! Absolutely delish!

Now that I have spent 15 minutes away from my readings (and cleared my head), it’s time to get back to work. Social Policy for Development is calling my name, and it’s high time I answered!

Lots of love,

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Mmmmm — It’s a Winner!

Manicotti

So, I have been trying to come up with new ways to make delightfully delicious vegetarian dishes; something that not only I will like, but something that my carnivorous boyfriend would also enjoy. Well, I just finished whipping up the most delicious manicotti dish ever! We’re not huge pasta fans, but I like the fact that with manicotti, the pasta is just being used as a shell to house the real stuff! Vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike will love this!

Shannon’s Veggie & Tofu Manicotti

10 – 12 manicotti shells
10 oz. package frozen spinach
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced (I limit onion because I’m not a huge fan!)
8 oz. package of mushrooms, sliced
14 oz. box extra firm tofu (I use Azumaya)
2 eggs
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 c. chopped basil
2 Tbsp. chopped garlic
2 c. alfredo sauce
2 – 3 c. prepared spaghetti sauce
Parmesan
salt and pepper, to taste
pine nuts, to garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta shells according to the package directions (9 or so minutes.) Meanwhile, put frozen spinach in a microwave-safe bowl, cover and microwave on high about 5 minutes (rotating once); let it cool (be careful, some parts will be super hot!) In a non-stick skillet with a lid, heat olive oil on medium heat. Saute onion for 3-5 minutes, until brown on edges. Reduce heat to low and stir in garlic and mushrooms. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes. While the mushroom-onion mix is simmering, place tofu in a mixing bowl and sprinkle lemon juice over tofu and mash with a fork (or your hands!), crumbling tofu into small curds so that they resemble ricotta cheese. In a separate bowl, mix up eggs; mix them into the tofu mixture. While the tofu settles, squeeze all the excess water out of the spinach, if you haven’t done so already. Once mushrooms have finished sauteing for 10 minutes, add in the tofu, spinach, olives, chopped basil, salt and pepper. Add in 1/2 c. to 1 c. of Alfredo sauce to taste. Simmer over low heat another 10 minutes. (Note: Snag a taste of the filling at this point and add salt or sauce to taste — if the flavor is lacking, the dish won’t be nearly as good!) Preheat oven to 375. Spread thin layer of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 12×8″ baking dish. Spoon vegetable-tofu filling into the shells VERY GENTLY — the shells have a tendency to break, so be careful (if they do break, don’t fret; you can easily camouflage them and your guests won’t know the difference). Arrange in tight rows on top of the sauce and cover with spaghetti sauce and thin layer of Alfredo. Sprinkle with Parmesan, to your liking. Cover and bake for 15 minutes on the middle rack. Remove cover and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Sprinkle shells with pine nuts and broil for 3 – 5 minutes. Serve warm.

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The filling makes a load! I had a lot left over, but it is so good, I could eat it on it’s own! My boyfriend couldn’t even tell it was tofu and not ricotta. Like I mentioned, I’m not a huge pasta fan, but this gets me really pumped for the Italian leg of my journey in the coming year! If you’re digging the vegetarian Italian dishes, check out this website for other delicious veg recipes from other folks around the world!

Enjoy!
Signature Stamp - Shannon