I have been buying food at TJ Maxx for quite some time and it’s truly such a hidden gem for expensive healthy foods. I have staples in my pantry like chia seeds and avocado oil that are normally very expensive, but TJ Maxx offers high end food for a fraction of the cost. It has also exposed me to really cool brands that aren’t always sold in mainstream stores. Two Moms in the Raw make these amazingly healthy and delicious raw granola bars that are sold here for only $6.99. Simply sprouted is another awesome company that makes delicious tortilla chips which are sold at TJ Maxx for only $2.79! Next time your shopping at TJ Maxx make sure to check out their food section, you won’t be disappointed!
Betty‘s is my favorite place in Buffalo to get brunch. I discovered it about 3 or so years ago when I was vegan because it was listed as a vegan friendly restaurant. My two personal favorite brunch items are the chilaquiles and the tofu hash, although my fiance argues that the breakfast burrito is hands down the best menu item. Well now that I am back to cutting out most animal products I recently went there and fell in love all over again with the tofu hash. I gave Betty’s a calll yesterday morning and asked them what they used for the flavor, and they were nice enough to tell me they cooked the tofu in garlic and used soy sauce and hot sauce as well. My dish didn’t turn out like theirs, but it was still really yummy. To be perfectly honest I am not a tofu lover, I actually ask for no tofu in a lot of dishes. Tofu is a very adaptable ingredient and can taste very different depending on the dish. So if you think you may hate tofu you should try this recipe out or ask for a tofu hash next time a restaurant offers it. My fiance LOVES this dish and that says a lot because he is not really one you would peg as a tofu lovin man. I hope you enjoy 🙂
- 2 yams
- 1.5 box extra firm tofu -cubed
- 1 small red onion-diced
- 1 red pepper- diced
- 2 teaspoons of “butter” spread
- 2 heaping teaspoons garlic (I ran out of fresh so I used jarred garlic)
- 3 teaspoons Tabasco (add less or more depending on how much spice you like)
- 1 teaspoon turmeric (gives it a beautiful color!)
- drizzle of organic honey
- 1 can organic bpa free black beans-rinsed
- fresh ground pepper to taste
- 2 whole wheat vegan pitas
- Start by peeling and dicing the yams into bite size pieces and rinse. Place them in boiling water and lower heat to medium, cook until fork tender, drain water and set aside.
- In a skillet take the “butter” spread and place heat on medium to high, once the “butter” has melted add the garlic, stirring for 3 minutes. Add the pressed tofu (read on how to get the water out of tofu in the link). Let the tofu brown up and stir frequently. Add the onions, red pepper, and rinsed beans to the dish (making sure they are all as dry as possible), continue stirring for 5-7minutes.
- Add the yams and the turmeric, soy sauce, Tabasco, pepper and honey. Let cook for about 3 minutes stirring to let all the flavors combine.
- Serve with a warmed grilled pita!
Today was the last day of my ten day Kundalini yoga workshop. These past ten days have truly been life changing. The workshop began March 4th at 4:30 am to 7:30am and ended today March 13th. These 30 valuable hours changed my outlook on life, and for that I am forever grateful. I found this workshop on groupon and really had no idea what I was getting into. The first day of the workshop was a huge challenge for me; I had so much judgment filled within me that I didn’t enjoy any of the exercises, breathing or mediations. I could not stop judging everything we were doing and I had convinced myself that I would not be coming back the next day, at the very end of class we did free form dance, the first song I was still judging away, but something shifted inside of me when he played the second song. I stopped being so critical and started laughing and it felt really good.
The days that followed were truly incredible; I experienced every emotion known to mankind. I felt extremely frustrated and angry one moment and content and blissful the next. I cried and laughed and released a lot of deep rooted feelings I didn’t even know were inside of me. The two main things that I took away from this workshop were self-awareness and the concept of pain.
The mind and the body are two separate things yet we don’t always view them that way. For the first time in my life I paid attention to my mind and tried to control and quiet it. We focused a lot on breathing, always inhaling across the shoulders and exhaling down the spine, and did a lot of Bhastrika breathing as well. One exercise that really resonated with me was when we would shake our bodies chaotically while keeping the mind focused, at the end Gary (our amazing instructor) would tell us to freeze and to pay attention to what was happening inside our bodies. Our hearts were beating so fast yet our minds were focused and still, we would watch our breath come back down to a normal pace all on its own without doing anything. This kind of self-awareness did a lot for me in my life. In the past ten days I have made some significant changes. I have stopped eating meat, fish and eggs; I have educated myself by watching a few documentaries about the food and way of life in America (Food Matters, Vegucated and I am.) I disabled my texting services, stopped watching mindless television, read more, cleaned more and I focused more on my breath than ever, I felt a level of calmness that I’ve never experienced before.
We only did two asanas throughout the course; cobra pose and the shoulder stance pose. I have only been to yoga classes that are Vinyasa Flow so the poses are not held very long. In this workshop by day ten we held each asana for 32 minutes!! Holding cobra pose for 32 minutes taught me an insane amount about my mind and my body. Your mind is so powerful and strong and can take over your body. My mind was thinking of every possible way I could get out of the pose, but my body remained strong. Gary told us to do nothing but focus on our breathing and if our mind wanders not to get frustrated, but simply focus back on your breath. He told us to observe our bodies like we were watching a movie and settle into the pain.
The pain aspect of this course taught me knowledge I will never forget and want to continue to explore for the rest of my life. I have had my fair share of “issues” in my life. I have had stomach problems my entire life, was diagnosed with reflex sympathetic dystrophy in my right foot a few years ago and was told that I had to just live with it (my foot was blue, see through, freezing cold and I had a limp) and just recently had two bulging discs in my low back. I am a very willful person so I never took the pain lying down and was always searching for a way to alleviate my pain, but what I learned in this workshop that is we should never run from our pain. Pain is an extremely powerful tool, our body is trying to tell us something and instead of immediately booking an appointment to go to a doctor to find out what’s wrong with your body, YOU should find out, listen to yourself because NO ONE knows your body better than you do. During cobra pose the first few days I felt an excruciating amount of pain in my low back, I constantly had to break the pose and lay down. On the second day of the workshop I broke down and told him that I was afraid of hurting myself. Later on in that day I realized I had a lot fear about a lot of things in my life, and that the fear itself was inhibiting me to truly heal from my emotional and physical pain. By day six something miraculous happened, we were in cobra pose my hands were tingling and completely numb and my back was throbbing, and Gary told us to focus on our breathing and any pain we were feeling to try to settle into and accept it. I felt an extreme shift within me, my breathing was stronger than ever and I accepted the aches and pains that my body was experiencing. From then on I didn’t break the pose once in the workshop and my back pain has been better than ever. I no longer fear hurting myself. I know that I am in control of myself and that if I do experience pain it will be okay too, I will not try to mask it with pills or shots I will learn from it and grow from it. Click on this link and scroll down to the section titled Pain to read more about Gary’s thoughts on pain.
This workshop has been transformational and eye opening. I began the workshop full of doubts and anxiety. Every morning that I woke up the doubt and fear diminished a little by little, I began trusting in myself knowing that I would get up in time and physically make it there, but also continue to grow and work on my mind and body together. The people that I met in this workshop were amazing and so honest. Gary is an amazing teacher and I will be forever indebted to him for showing me what it is to truly be self-aware and in the moment. We are always thinking of the past or the future which is not real and it is a true gift to be able to fully present. I could go on forever about how this workshop has changed me, but to be very honest putting it down in words doesn’t seem to really describe and capture everything I am feeling and went through these past ten days. If any of this sounds remotely interesting or enticing to you I strongly encourage you to take a workshop with Gary or try something similar to this in your local area.
“Meditation allows for self-awareness, being self-aware can create a life of meaning and real purpose”
-Taylor Alberts 🙂
I normally just buy organic vegetable stock pre-made at the store, but yesterday after looking at all of the fresh produce I had I decided to make my own. It’s so easy and its great to freeze to have on hand when the recipe calls for it! I ended up using the vegetables for our dinner afterwards. I diced the veggies then added some barley, lentils, cabbage and kale to my dish with about 3 cups of the veggie broth. When making a basic vegetable stock, you want something with a fairly neutral savory flavor. Some recipes recommend adding salt and other spices, but unless you know how you’re going to be using the broth , it’s better to add those flavors when you are making the actual dish.
- 1 large onion
- 2 to 3 carrots
- 3 to 4 celery stalks
- 4 to 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 small bunch parsley
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
- 2 cloves garlic
- Roughly Chop All The Vegetables: Wash any visible dirt off the vegetables and give them a rough chop. You don’t even need to peel them first unless you really want to. Throw all the vegetables in a pot big enough to hold them plus a few extra inches of water
- Cover with Water and Simmer: Cover the vegetables with enough water that you can easily stir them in the pot. Less water means that your stock will be more concentrated; more water makes a lighter-flavored stock. Set the pot over medium-high heat and bring it to just under a boil. Once you start to see some bubbling around the edges of the pot and a few wisps of steam on the surface, turn the heat down to medium-low
- Cook for One Hour or So: This isn’t an exact science, but one hour is generally enough time to infuse the water with vegetable goodness. If you need to take it off the heat a little early or don’t get to it until a little later, it will be fine. Give it a stir every now and again to circulate the vegetables
- Strain and Store Take the pot off the stove and remove all the vegetables with a slotted spoon. Set your strainer over a big bowl and line it with cheese cloth or coffee filters. Pour the stock through. Divide the stock into storage containers, cool completely, and then freeze.
Niagara Produce has been around since 1961. It’s located on the intersection of Transit road and Millersport Highway in Lockport, NY. My friend Jess recently told me about the expansion of their store that just opened in the beginning of March. I buy a lot of fresh “organic” produce on a weekly basis and it can get very expensive as well as exhausting to try to determine if the quality of the produce is truly organic and wholesome. Just because something says organic that doesn’t necessarily mean its good for you. I had these organic apples from Wegman’s in my fridge and they literally look the same from the day I bought them, which was over a month ago. Listen to your common sense…its food, it should rot and have imperfections. Niagara Produce has a mixture of prepackaged and the real deal homegrown produce. I was blown away by their apples and carrots! They look just like the veggies from my dad’s garden; overgrown,bruised and beautiful. This store inspired me to start juicing again, I was able to buy 10 massively large carrots for $2.99. One of the main reasons I stopped juicing was cost. Niagara Produce has made juicing a reality again for me and that’s truly amazing. I walked away with an abundance of fresh produce and my bill was only $56.00; talk about a seriously successful Saturday! I highly recommend checking this fantastic local upscale farmer market out!
I was feeling very inspired yesterday and wanted to make something with really pure ingredients. I absolutely love mushrooms, but unfortunately my main squeeze does not. I decided last night that I wanted to get back together with mushrooms and I did just that. They were so good. This dish was seriously satisfying, I feel very lucky that my fiancé not only eats meals like this but actually embraces and enjoys them. I love to cook for him because he has such a great appetite for healthy food, and how awesome is that? Happy Friday!!
- 1 cup organic broccoli- rinsed and diced
- 1 cup organic baby bella mushrooms-rinsed and diced
- 1/2 cup chopped scallions
- 5-6 leaves of organic kales- rinsed and chopped
- 1 15 oz can organic BPA free can of black beans- rinsed and drained
- 1/2 organic avocado -diced
- olive oil as needed
- 4 organic sweet potatoes – washed and poke holes
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 cloves organic fresh garlic-diced
- 1 tablespoon of an all spice herb (I used 21 spice by Trader Joe’s)
- Start by preheating the oven to 425 degrees, bake the sweet potatoes for about 45 minutes or until fork tender.
- Heat olive oil in a medium sized skillet over medium to high heat, add the garlic, stirring frequently for about 2-3 minutes, add the scallions and let cook for another 3-5 minutes, continue stirring.
- Add the kale and turn the heat down to medium, stirring occasionally, cook for about 5 minutes or until kale begins to wilt.
- Add the beans, mushrooms (I had mine in a separate pot because of my fiancé), salt, pepper and spice blend.
- When the sweet potatoes are ready, cut open with a knife and place the veggie mixture on top! Add the avocado, and some feta cheese if you eat cheese 🙂
I started a ten day Kundalini yoga workshop on Tuesday night. It begins at 4:30 am in Buffalo so I have been setting my alarm at 3:15 am. It’s only been three days, but so far I am seeing incredible changes in my body and mental state. I have not had the desire to eat meat and have been eating vegan the past few days and feel seriously incredible. I highly recommend this soup for anyone, the smell filled up my whole house and was truly divine. The lentils, quinoa and chickpeas jam pack this soup with protein. I had it again for lunch today and feel so full but in a good way, not the I need to go nap way. I hope you enjoy, happy hump day!
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 large organic carrots, peeled and diced
- 5 stalks organic celery, chopped
- 3 organic cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
- 1 1/2 Tbsp curry powder
- 1/2 lb red lentils
- 3 cups organic vegetable broth
- 1 (28oz) can organic diced tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 (15oz) can organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup cooked organic quinoa
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 cup of tabouleh (Optional: I went to Pita Gourmet for lunch and had a side of it, so I threw it in)
- In a large pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onions, carrot and celery, sauté until tender, about 10 minutes.
- Add garlic, ginger, and curry powder, sauté for about a minute or until fragrant.
- Add lentils, broth, tomatoes, tabouleh and bay leaves.
- Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer until lentils are tender, about 10-15 minutes.
- Add chickpeas and quinoa, heat through. Season with salt and pepper, and red chili flakes (if you like spice) to taste and adjust seasoning as needed.