Monday, March 9, 2009

A Full Year as a Bloggerina

Hello, everyone! I have returned from a fabulous weekend in DC, just in time to celebrate my one-year blogiversary. It all started as a fun way to spend the afternoon during spring break of last year...little did I know that I would find a new hobby, a side career, and, most importantly, a warm community of health-minded foodies. I've learned a lot about myself in the past year, largely due to your thoughtful comments--thanks for reading, commenting, and providing much needed support.
Now, what should I do to celebrate this milestone?!

I have much to share from the second half of my weekend adventure. Check it out:

We awoke to a beautiful morning on Saturday--as well as rumbling tummies. As a result of our beckoning appetites, we decided to dine in the hotel restaurant for breakfast. I satisfied my never-ending craving for mango and ordered the Mango Oatmeal, which consisted of Irish-cut oats cooked with mango pieces and topped with fresh berries. Much to my surprise, this dining room offered soymilk as an accompaniment, so I enjoyed a glass of that on the side, along with a mug of Lemon Lift tea. I also got my dad to snag a few spoonfuls of sliced almonds from the breakfast buffet. Delish, but totally overpriced.
Then we headed to the National Gallery of Art for the morning. Points to anyone who can identify the artist of the painting with which I am posing:
For lunch, we headed to an eatery called Teaism. Given my infatuation with tea, I was quite excited to discover this place. I ordered the Veggie Bento with roasted vegetables, sweet potato, tofu, edamame, and brown rice. To drink, I opted for the Jasmine Pearl tea (just for you, Rosalie!). Everything was superbly delicious--I wanted to lick my plate!
We met my cousin and her husband as well as a family friend for dinner. The family friend (Judy) actually owns the restaurant at which we dined, Rock Creek, an establishment devoted to "mindful eating." (Check out the link for details!). Anyway, for my salad I ordered the Butterhead Lettuces with Exotic Mushrooms (sans cheese). Then the bread basket arrived, with a subtly sweet focaccia spread with a garlicky eggplant dip. For my entree, I ordered the only vegan entree on the menu, Hawaiian Hearts of Palm with Red Quinoa and Squash Puree. I've never had hearts of palm aside from those that come from the can, and this fresher preparation was clearly superior. The palm had a texture that was oddly similar to meat! Once again, I cleaned my plate entirely, gobbling up every last kernel of quinoa and smear of squash. The dessert menu arrived, and I found that I still had room for a little sweet something, so I ordered the pomegranate sorbet. A perfect ending to a perfect meal.
My bottomless pit of a stomach called to me again later that evening, so I satisfied it with a cherry pie Larabar...good, but not as tasty as my usual smoothie:)
Before heading out to church services, my dad made a run to Cosi, after I had suggested that we try it--I've seen so many of my fellow food bloggers enjoy their relatively healthful offerings. He returned with a sack full of parfaits, egg croissants, and...oatmeal! Can you guess which one I chose? The oatmeal was slightly sweetened with maple syrup and topped with raisins and brown sugar. It was fabulous--it reminded me of the Cream of Wheat my mom used to make me when I was a child. I supplemented the superstar oats with fruit, tea...and a packet of airline peanuts. What? I was still hungry, and I knew fats would do just the trick.
For lunch, we headed to the Cheesecake Factory. Not exactly as unique and sustainably-minded as our other dining locales, but they always have something for everybody. After pigging out on their fluffy brown bread (is anyone else as obsessed with this stuff as I am?!), I ordered the Luau Salad, sans chicken and dressing on the side. The crispy wontons make the salad a bit of challenge to eat, but I really like the chopped macadamias and sweet citrus glaze with which they are covered. Plus, this salad also features more of my recently preferred fruit--mango!
After an afternoon of shopping in Georgetown, we headed to the airport, where I snacked on some carrots with almond butter, one of my all-time fave combos.
When we finally returned home to Birmingham, I looked to the freezer for dinner. I heated up a vegan chik patty and stuffed it in a pita with whole grain mustard and vegan mayo. On the side, I had a salad with Woodstock dressing, Brussels sprouts, and a dish of peaches.
I was blissfully reunited with my nightly smoothie last night: blueberries, chocolate soy protein (Whole Foods brand), soymilk, chocolate syrup, plus a few animal crackers for fun. One word: heavenly.
Following my refreshing run (in 70* weather!), I whipped up a quick breakfast of a smoothie and an English muffin. The smoothie included mango, cherries, and soymilk, and I spread the English muffin with White Chocolate Wonderful PB. I topped both with a dusting of coconut. I thoroughly enjoyed this while browsing the latest Crate & Barrel catalog--check out those cute plates!
I ran a few errands with my mom, then returned home to make homemade hummus for the very first time. I opted to use the Pumpkin Hummus recipe from Everyday Dish TV (my most recent podcast obsession). I got some strange looks from my mom as I was preparing this tasty mess with my hand blender, but I promise it's a delicious combination! I served it with whole grain flatbread, a spinach salad, and an apple. I can't wait to whip up another batch of homemade hummus...what are your favorite variations?
Afterward, I went to Whole Foods with my dad for a big shop--I didn't get a chance to photograph the haul due to the warm weather--it needed refrigeration ASAP! Anyway, some highlights include two new flavors of PURE bars, Graham Bumpers, Rachel's flavored cottage cheese, Earth Balance (I've never tried it), radicchio, and a baby watermelon. Keep an eye out for those in the coming week!

For dinner, I prepared Mock Maryland Crabcakes from Toni Fiore's Totally Vegetarian. I've never had a real crabcake, so I can't tell you whether these tasted "authentic," but I can say with certainty that they were delicious! I dipped them in some tsasiki sauce and served them alongside a salad, and Greek yogurt with cashews and dates.
Now, I am off to do a bit of reading--some for school, some for pleasure (hello, Clean Eating).

Be back soon!


ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Happy 1 year, Caroline! It's been a pleasure to read!

Laura said...

Happy blogging anniversary!

I LOVE Teaism! I work right down the street, and I was just thinking the other day that I haven't been in there in a while. After seeing your meal, I may have to make a special trip!

Maggie said...

Happy Blog Birthday! I love reading :)

*Andrea* said...

happy blog-birthday! i love your blog and hope you continue with it!! cheesecake factory's brown bread is to die for.. i usually load up on that and order an appetizer and then split a cheesecake slice with my sis ;)

Anonymous said...

Happy Blogging Anniversary!

I love reading =)

Anonymous said...

I've never commented before but I absolutely love your blog. I've gotten so many amazing meal ideas from it!!

Marianne said...

Happy Blog Birthday :D

You are posing in front of a Van Gough. I love me some Van Gough, it was a treat to visit the Van Gough museum in the Netherlands. Starry Night is my favourite though.

Those animal crackers are too cute atop your smoothie.

Rosalie Y said...

This is such a *beautiful* post! Teaism looks like such a neat place to eat, and hurray for jasmine tea!

I made one of those green smoothies that have been circulating the health food blogosphere, and I thought about you and your nightly smoothie concoctions ;)

And..... dont you have a 5k coming up soon?!?! Are you nervous? You should blog-update about that :o

Anonymous said...

Hi Caroline!! YAY what a wonderful blog post to celebrate your 1 year of blogism. :) Your entire weekend of eats look ALL so nutritious and delicious!!! Everything you ordered at the restaurants look like they're right up my alley!!!! YUMMY!! I love your taste buds!

Also, the way I score free samples of products is either one of two ways, Either I write an e-mail directly to the company that i'm interested to see if they'd like to share some samples with me, OR sometimes they contact me directly through email to see if I'd like to try some of their goodies. It all works out and i get free food! yay! I also make sure i follow up with companies to see if they can offer a giveaway so everyone else can benefit. I'm still to early in the game to have a track record of scoring giveaways, hahahaha but i try hard!!! I like to think of it as doing some good for awesome readers!!! :)

Hope your monday was awesome Caroline!!! I adore your blog. heehee

Sarah (lovINmytummy) said...

Happy Birthday!

Are those "crab cakes" made with tofu? I have a recipe that uses tofu and Old Bay and its pretty tasty.

I love your nightly smoothies. I have to return to that tradition myself.

Erica said...

Happy blog birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I obviously love your blog! Hope you have a great day and some great eats to celebrate

VeggieGirl said...

Happy one-year blogiversary!!!!!!!

I love how the animal crackers are practically dancing on top of your smoothie :-D

**Favorite hummus variation = ROASTED GARLIC!!!

Courtney (The Hungry Yogini) said...

Happy Blogiversary! SO exciting! Glad you had such a great weekend.

Yasmin said...

I'm glad you had a fabulous time and it looks like you filled it with lots of yummy eats and adventures! Happy 1 year anniversary! Keep it coming...

K said...

HAPPY ONE YEAR!! I think you should celebrate by going crazy in WFs ;) (Oh wait, you did! YAY!! I typed that before I finished reading - now I think you should have a big vegan birthday cake & mail me a slice so I can celebrate with you :D! )

Your DC eats look incredibly delicious! Glad you all enjoyed yourselves! COSI!! I must say I've never had the infamous brown bread before :( I'm missing out!

You know I've got to give a shout out to the English muffin with PB :D

Hummus: I'm a big fan of original, extra lemon, spinach artichoke, and roasted red pepper. I've seen crab cakes made with zucchini before - I'm tempted to try them!

lauren said...

happy blog birthday! looks like a great trip to DC with delicious eats...

megan said...

Happy 1 year! Oh I love this post- it is full of amazing food :) I am intrigued by the EveryDay Dish TV- I am downloading a podcast now!!! Thanks...I had never heard of it before.
Those "crab cakes" look really, really good!!!
Have a wonderful night, my dear.

CeciLiA said...

Oh dear, sorry for the late comment again ~ I promise I'll post earlier nxt time :D

First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to your blog!! Hrmmm, I guess you can make 'it' a virtual cake with a candle on it, HAHA!!

Oh man, the hotel (overpriced) oatmeal looks so pretty ... mango oatmeal - NEVER thought of that before!

OMGaaa, your 'crab' cakes look delish!! Did you bake dem in muffin pans?!! They look crunchy-ly awesome! ;)

Anonymous said...

Happy Blog Birthday Caroline!!! thanks for putting so much into broccoli hut! I adore it!

Lauren said...

Fabulous eats! Happy blogiversary :)

Jaime said...

happy 1 year anniversary! :) glad you had a nice time in DC-- the eats look marvelous! especially those oats with almonds xo

Danielle said...

Happy Blog Birthday! I love you and your blog and look forward to many more years of reading! Wishing you both the very best :)

Vegan On Stage said...

happy anniversary!!!!!! i love your blog as always so keep up all the good work :)

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Hey Caroline,
About the blended grains: If you blend them for a long time (and add enough liquid), you can achieve a pudding-like consistency. If you use a hand blender or only pulse a few times in the magic bullet, you can get a chewy texture but will have the benefit of the flavors blending together. I like to make my oatmeal pudding recipe (I think I remember you trying Ruby Red’s version), and if I blend it just a tad, it actually achieves the texture of rice, but with the added health benefits of oatmeal! Plus, blending is just fun. I’m sure you know what I mean, as you seem to like your MB as much as I do! (Gotta love that it can go in the dishwasher!!!)

Here’s a post I wrote about blending:

Hope you’re having an awesome night, girl!

Yasmin said...

The reason I didn't like the Voskos brand was that it was too watery. To me Greek yogurt should be creamy and I've never missed with FAGE. Thanks for the advice on tossing those "tight" clothes before I give myself an anxiety attack!

ChickPea said...

CCV: Thanks! Double thanks for the info on blended grains;)
Laura: You are so lucky to work near Teaism--I could totally go there every day!
Maggie: Thanks!
Andrea: Haha, good to hear that I am not the only one who buzzes through that brown bread.
Shelby: Aw, thanks so much!
Anonymous: Thanks for de-lurking! I really appreciate your readership:)
Marianne: COngrats! You are correct! I love Van Gogh too.
Rosalie: I should get around to making a green smoothie one of these days...they seem so nutritious! My 5k is on Saturday...wish me luck!
LuckyTasteBuds: Thanks so much for all the info! I suppose I should get over my fear of contacting companies and just ask for samples!
Sarah: Those crabcakes do indeed have both tofu and Old Bay--great combo!
Erica: Thanks, girl! You're the best!
VG: Haha, the animal crax are kinda groovin' aren't they? I'll def have to try roasted garlic hummus.
Courtney: Thanks!
Yasmin: Thanks! Double thanks for the Voskos info:)
K: Ooh! all those hummus flavors sound phenom--have you made them all before? YOU are the culinary goddess!
Lauren: Thanks!
Megan: Ooh! Yay! I love Everyday Dish--I hope you do too!
Cecilia: No need to apologize--I love reading your comments no matter when they come in.
The mango oats were really good--I'll try to recreate them at home for sure.
I just baked the crabcakes on a baking sheet after forming them into patties in my hands.
GC: Thanks so much!
Lauren: Thank you!
Jaime: Thanks! Those oats were pretty awesome;)
Danielle: Thanks for continuing to read and comment despite being abroad! I love reading about your adventures!
VeganOnStage: Thanks so much, girl!

Anonymous said...

Hi Caroline! I know I am totally behind on this, but happy blog anniversary! I remember when you were Miss Beyond Tofurkey, right?! I loved reading your blog and was so excited when you moved on over to The Broccoli Hut - loved the story behind it, too :o)

It looks like your trip to D.C. was amazing! The eats look fabulous, as always, and I'm glad you were able to try out good ol' Cosi!!

Here's to another great year of eats from Chickpea!!