Columbia Mailman Orientation +Vegan Eats in NYC

Oy! It was orientation week. I thought I’d blog through a wee bit of the past week for ya, in case any of you are interested.

Saturday + Sunday

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I flew into NYC early Saturday morning, and got straight to apartment hunting. Apartment hunting in New York City is among the worst activities one can put oneself through on earth. Anyone who has done it can vouch – it is literally the most ridiculous, stressful, and upsetting processes of all times.

I ran around the city all day, ate a bunch of snacks (apples, bananas, nuts, nut butter packets, chocolate covered nuts, etc) and eventually grabbed Just Salads for dinner. I have a weird obsession with Just Salad.

 

Everyone I know prefers sweetgreens. But I’m a Just Salads gal FO LYFE. I got kale + romaine mixed, double roasted sweet potatoes, apples, chickpeas, organic roasted tofu, beets, and jicama, with a side of each spicy avocado dressing and agave mustard dressing. And bread, because bread.

I passed out, and did the whole damn exact same thing the next day. And repeated dinner. Good times.

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Monday

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Monday was day one of orientation. Lunch was a buffet style of yummy food. The quinoa salad had chickpeas, cranberries, herbs, and a lemony (I think?) dressing. Wrap was white bean dip and grilled veggies. P impressive.

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Swag:

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There was also a reception that night with lots of appetizers and snacks. I made a plate of fruit, crackers, nutty bread, guac, hummus, and nuts. Yum.  I was pretty impressed by the food selection at Mailman. They did a good job of providing healthy, yummy, filling options. Bravo!

I had a bad day that day for personal reasons. Really bad day. My anxiety is out of frickin’ control. I found out some icky stuff about my mom’s health issues, and was rejected from an apartment, because as a student in NYC, you need a guarantor who makes 64-80 times the annual rent to co-sign your lease. My mom was rejected, because she can’t provide proof of employment (since she doesn’t work since she is disabled). I found this frustrating; I understand that renters want to be sure rent will be paid, but I find this is also somewhat discriminatory. So if you aren’t wealthy or know someone who is, you can’t get a place? #annoying.

I ended up at my friend’s place in Brooklyn late that night, where I ate a banana with peanut butter and some of his leftover kale salad. And a bunch of chocolate. And went to bed.

Tuesday

Tuesday was day 2 of orientation. I’m bad at orientations. We got boxed lunches (I went with that day’s vegan option), and then we had a long 5 hour small group discussion thing on diversity and privilege. Tough conversations, etc. I was having another bad day with anxiety, and probably came off as emotionally unstable to other people since I was being overly emotional. Oh well. Just gotta move on and not obsess.

Bathroom signs at Mailman:

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For dinner, I stopped at Whole Foods out of fatigue and convenience. I got a salad with roasted sweet potatoes, lemon roasted tofu, and some vegan dumplings. I also got a ‘power’ bagel (whole wheat with cranberries and seeds) on the side because my body wanted CARBS baby. Eaten with a vegan cookie. Noms.

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Wednesday

Wednesday was another day of orientation. I had some errands to run in the morning, then headed up to Mailman. I had a hummus wrap and grapes and chips for lunch, but didn’t snap a photo. After orientation, my friend Raag made us some yummy Indian food for dinner.

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He also taught me some cooking tips. Apparently, many Indian dishes are prepared by first browning onions and tomatoes together. This was new to me. Usually, I add tomatoes much later. This was a fun new tip! He also taught me I should rinse my rice before I cook it. I was happy to learn his tips. He’s so kind, and an awesome cook!

Thursday

Thursday I ran some errands around the city and sat around like a crazy anxious person waiting to hear back about an apartment and catastrophizing my life in every way imaginable. At some point, I stopped and enjoyed an organic peach in Bryant Park.

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I swear my anxiety has been peaking this week. I have really been struggling to get through normal daily activities. I know I have to get it under control, but this week has been so busy I haven’t had time to deal with myself. I am VERY thankful to my supportive friends and aunt for being there for me this week.

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A bit later I once hit up Whole Foods for lunch. I got a Justin’s almond butter packet (on sale for $0.50 WHAT UP), another bagel (because I really enjoyed the last one, and for $1.00, it’s a lot of filling carby goodness), a banana, and some salad and hummus from the salad bar. I think the cashier rang up my order wrong, because this lunch ended up costing me $2.77 which I didn’t even notice until I looked at the receipt while eating? Okay. I’ll take it.

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My friend Caty let me come over and sit on her bed and watch dumb videos on my laptop while she went on a run with a friend. I had been pinning out at coffee shops all day but needed to like, not be sitting in real pants around humans. THANK U CATY.

We grabbed a late dinner at Peacefood, which is one of my favorite restaurants in NYC/the world. We split the Asian greens salad (with greens, jicama, tempeh, carrots, and a yummy spicy peanut dressing), and the vegan cheeseburger. Pardon the crapy pics; that place has dim *~*trendy romantic*~* lighting.

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This cheeseburger. You guys. It is my FAVORITE vegan cheeseburger on earth (and I’ve had a lot of veggie burgers in my 17+ meat-free years). It’s a house-made vegan patty with cheese, guac, pickled peppers, caramelized onions, and some sauce or something on homemade focaccia. It is messy and hearty and flavorful and delicious. LOVE.

After dinner, the Van Leeuwen truck was parked right by Peacefood. Van Leeuwen makes the most delicious, rich craft ice cream I have ever had. Their vegan base is a blend of coconut, cocoa butter, cashews, and extra virgin coconut oil. It is OUTSTANDING.

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I ended up with “one scoop” of vegan strawberry jam, and one scoop of vegan cookie dough.

One scoop ended up being more like a pint. And I ate it all because it was FRICKIN’ delicious. I was really glad I sampled the strawberry jam, because it was honestly one of the best ice creams I’ve ever had! And not something I would normally think to order (I tend to be a chocolate/nut ice cream over fruit kinda gal).

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But it had a rich base with swirls of housemate strawberry jam and pieces of biscuit that were like crunchy and sort of soft simultaneously. And the vegan cookie dough was obviously amazing, with big chunks of vegan cookie dough. My fav flavor there is vegan banana nut, which tastes likes straight up banana bread, but they didn’t have it at the truck. Which probably turned out for the better, since I tried the strawberry!

We ate in Union Square Park, then headed back to BK. I went to bed at my friend’s apartment, and she went out with some friends.

Regarding the large amount of ice cream…I DEFINITELY ate past the point of fullness. In fact, I felt a little TOO full about 30 minutes later. I inhaled it because I think I really needed a good meal after so much walking the previous few days, but the stuff is soooo rich I think I overate beyond my needs. Yes, I was a bit uncomfortably full. But you know what? You live and you learn. Yup, I probably inhaled like, a day’s worth of calories in the form of vegan ice cream in like, 2 minutes, but it is NOT worth obsessing over. I went to bed with a very full tummy and decided to slow down on my ice cream inhalation next time (also, usually they don’t give me THAT much, even when I order two scoops instead of one…I think the guy just was feeling generous).

Friday

Friday I woke up early, went on a run (hadn’t exercised besides walking all week and figured it may do my anxiety some good), showered, and got brunch with Caty and one of her friends.


She called me around 10:40am asking if I wanted to go to Champs, which is a vegan diner. I was bummed I had LITERALLY just finished a bagel with nut butter and banana and wasn’t super hungry but decided to go anyway. I’m glad I did.

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Since I wasn’t super hungry I got a pancake with berries. And syrup. Champs was fun. It’s like an old school diner with classic diner entrees, but all vegan. And with fun art.

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The pancake was yummy. Tasted like a straight up diner pancake, if that makes sense. Like that unique, griddle-cooked taste.

After that, I spontaneously booked a plane ticket for that night and decided to head home for the long weekend, since I learned the apartment I was approved for wouldn’t let me move in until Thursday, and I was quite frankly in need of some real sleep on a bed (not a couch) and some alone time.

I’m quite the introvert, and not having any personal space, especially during an orientation week, makes me feel anxious and overwhelmed. I literally often feel like I need to be alone and calm down to get back to baseline when I’m overwhelmed with anxiety, and having no place to just sit and be by myself has increased my stress, anxiety, and panic.

Also, I MISSED MY FRICKIN’ DOG who has been in Wisconsin until I’m settled with a place.

Thanks for reading! Sorry I’ve been absent this week. Haven’t been in the headspace to blog. But feel much calmer home and with my doggo and with a good night’s sleep in me.

Can any introverts out there relate to feeling super overwhelmed when you don’t have your own space? Any tips for crippling anxiety? Let me know and stay #blessed!

Spicy Black Bean Soup

Do you ever get a cooking itch you just have to scratch? Like you get something in your head and you just can’t crush the desire to make it until it happens? That’s what happened to me a few weeks ago upon realizing I had never cooked with dried beans (seriously, WTF).

Delicious Vegan Spicy Black Bean Soup

So one recent Saturday, I was digging through the clearance food items at Target (shocking, I know) and happened upon a 1 pound bag of organic black beans for $1.42. And I took it as fate.

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Cue the urge to make black bean soup. Spicy, hearty, black bean soup. Yum.

Black Bean Soup - Vegan!

This recipe is sort of inspired by Panera Black Bean Soup. But I gotta say it – this might be a little better (sorry/still love you Panera).

Easy Spicy Vegan Black Bean Soup

This was my first time using dried beans for anything, and I must say, I totally understand why people prefer using dried beans over canned. The beans turned out al dente and were less mushy than canned beans.

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Yes, it took longer, but if you have the time (and you really don’t have to babysit the soup), I’d say it’s worth it!

Spicy Vegan Black Bean soup

I made this soup super spicy, but you don’t have to. The recipe includes ranges of spices to use and you can base how much you use on your taste preferences. Personally, I like it HOT HOT HOT so that’s just how I made it.

Vegan Black Bean Soup - Kbaked

This soup is excellent with some cubed avocado and cilantro on top. You could also top it with shredded cheese or vegan cheese, and tortilla chips. Up to you!

Black Bean Soup - Vegan!

Spicy Vegan Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Title Card

Prep Time:  30 minutes
Cook Time: 1-3 hours, depending on if you use dried or canned beans
Servings: 3-4

Ingredients – Soup:

  • 1 cup dried black beans or 2 cans black beans
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons liquid aminos or soy sauce (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1-2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 – 1 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1-2 tsp turmeric (adjust all species to preference)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Cilantro & avocado for topping, plus any additional desired toppings (suggestion: vegan cheese, crushed tortilla chips)

Method:

  1. If using dried beans, soak for one hour in 4 cups water. Boil for 10 minutes and allow to simmer for additional hour.
  2. Place poblano pepper in foil and broil in 500 degree oven until charred.
  3. Meanwhile, dice onion and bell pepper. Mince garlic.
  4. Heat oil and onion and garlic on stove and cook on low heat until onions are translucent.
  5. Add spices and continue to cook. Add bell peppers and cook until peppers are soft.
  6. Remove charred pepper from oven. Peel off skin. Remove seeds. Dice. Add to other peppers.
  7. If using canned beans, rinse and drain. Add to large pot with 3 cups water or veggie broth.
  8. Add nutritional yeast, aminos/soy sauce and onions/peppers to beans and allow to simmer on low heat for one hour.
  9. Add juice of one lime. Top with cilantro and avocado and serve.

PS: You Can watch me make this on YouTube!

San Fran Recap

Hello! If you follow me on Insta or know me IRL, you probably know I visited San Fran last week Friday – this week Wednesday. It was my first time there so it was quite the adventure. I thought I’d recap it on the blog since I love reading travel recaps. So here we go!     IMG_6556

Friday:

Friday I left work, went home, grabbed my stuff, and headed straight to the Milwaukee Airport for my 3:20pm flight to SFO! Travel snacks included apples, Trader Joe’s Just Beets beet chips (SO GOOD), a mix of almonds + cashews, a Larry’s and Lenny’s cookie, and Kashi Peanut Butter Chocolate bars (a new #vegan flavor)!

All were packed in my Stasher bags, which are my latest obsession. If you’re trying to reduce your plastic consumption, I highly reccomend them. They’re also silicone, so you can dishowasher them, and microwave food in them! #smartstuff #notsponsored #justafan

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Friday night I got in around 6:40pm local time and took an Uber into SF. Traffic was poopy so it took a solid 2 hours. Once I was in town, I met two of my good college friends for dinner at a place called Souvla. The place had super cute vibes and we sat outside in a garden area with Christmas lights and heating vents. I had heard SF gets cool at night, and I gotta say, that is true!

We all got giant salads. I’m not sure why so many of my photos from this trip are so blurry. I think I was often hangry and I also need a new phone.IMG_6516

I got one with Japanese sweet potatoes (my FAV!), olives, walnuts, pickled red onions, pea shoots, and subbed the garlic yogurt sauce for olive oil + lemon juice and asked for no cheese.On the side, we shared some Greek fries (that had olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, etc).IMG_6514

Nom! It was a good time catching up and enjoying some food (it was almost 10:30pm my time by that point, so I was starving). It was probably one of my fav meals of the trip! Kinda wish I had gone back and got a sandwich, but maybe next time!

After that, I headed back to my friend’s place for the night (HUGE thank you to my friend Cassie for letting me stay at your place!). We just kinda crashed and watched RHONY <3.

Saturday:

Saturday morning started out with a trip to the farmer’s market at the Ferry Building. It was awesome! IMG_6553

We waited in line for about 30 minutes for Blue Bottle, but once we got (yummy yummy) coffee we were ready to explore:

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Yummy fresh produce and cute little baby gherkin cucumbers that looked like mini watermelons!

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#ViewsOnFleek

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Also at the farmer’s market tried fresh soy milk from this really cute homemade tofu stand. It was…much different than the kind you buy in the store lol.

After that we walked around inside and eventually headed over to the Golden Gate Bridge and walked across it! It was windy and a bit cold but pretty cool. We literally walked through clouds.

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Peaking sun at the top!

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Look! My wrinkles aren’t that noticeable here. lol #oldpeopleproblems

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Due to our inability to hail an Uber/Lyft on the other side, we walked back across, and then took an Uber to Blue Barn for a super late (like 5:30pm) lunch.

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I had a salad and some booch. It was okay but overpriced IMO. I think I misordered. I will say though the veggies were SO FRESH and the dressing was excellent.

I’m just not that into quinoa in salads? Not my thing. Wish I had noticed the build-your-own option before ordering! Wanted tofu!! Would have probably been way more satified if I’d noticed adding it was an option before paying. The tiny wedge of rosemary bread was delish though; wish I had 20 of them. Oh well!

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After that we went back to my friend’s place and chilled for a bit. At some point we ended up going to Oakland to go to some Japanese Fried Chicken Place and check out some bars. My bocce ball game was fuego, apparently (I think because I was the least only one not intoxicated?)

I didn’t take any pics because idk why. Anyways, it was a good time and I stayed out much later than usual!

Sunday:

Sunday I got up super late for me! Like 9am or something…granted it was 7am central time but still. After we got coffee at a cute place by my friend’s apartment, we strolled about and headed to brunch.

We stumbled upon a place called Jane, and shared avocado toast with pickled jalapeños (which I’d never had on avo toast before and it was super yum) and shallots, and a poached egg (which I let her enjoy), a super yummy seed bread with almond butter and house-made jam.

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We also shared a very refreshing a ‘detox’ smoothie bowl. Lol @ the use of word detox. P sure my liver and kidneys get rid of the toxins in my body, but ya know, #marketing.

I also liked how this cafe had a ‘Breakfast Salad’ on their menu. Such a cute, good idea. Because no rules say when you eat certain foods. #nofoodrules 🙂

Then my friend indulged my desire to be touristy and we went to Alamo Square so I could take photos of the Painted Ladies, aka the Full House houses. Cool shit, man.

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After that, I met another friend (originally from MKE) in Delores park. He was kind enough to show me around the Mission District (where I saw two men naked minus weiner covers).

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We popped into some various odd stores (like ones with bones and taxiderme’d (I googled past tense of ‘taxidermy’…and couldn’t find a definite answer lol) animals and adorable coffee shops and famous local chocolate and Mexican places.

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And saw some cool street art.

At one point, I wanted a snack, so we got some Sourdough bread at a bakery. I can’t recall the name which is a bummer, but it was yummmy. I got a big roll that was whole wheat sourdough + walnuts. I should have gotten 6. Give me bread all day long. I also ate an apple I found in my bag (lol).

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We also stopped at a bar, before I took an Uber to Trader Joe’s by my friend’s apartment around 7. I grabbed some veggies (since we were planning on dinner at her place that night) and, of course, former TJ’s employee that I am, a local bag.img_7233

At least at the Trader Joe’s I used to work at, it was a thing to collect bags from all over. I have Wisco, Colorado, Chicago, Arizona, and now San Fran, and am always eager to add to my collection. :).

I also got chocolate (for personal needs), some bananas (DUH), and an additional bag of beet chips. And one for my dear friend who was so kind to let me stay with her:).

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My friend sautéed some veggies in coconut aminos + oil and some other stuff and we made salad bowls. I also ate more bread and half an avocado. And chocolate. Because chocolate.

Before bed, I enjoyed a white grapefruit I purchased at the Farmer’s Market the Day before. #SOFRESH. Have you ever had white grapefruit before? I had never!

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Then, it was Housewives (Orange County this time) + bed time.

Monday:

On Monday I had planned to attempt to get day-of tickets to Al Catraz, but ended up switching plans per recommendation of my friend Shawn who suggested I venture to Muir Woods National Monument.IMG_6659

I went with Shawn’s rec, and after a clusterfuck with my debit card not working and the bus route being messed up due to construction, I got in an Uber and headed on my way.

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I had put my Uber destination as a shuttle station for one of the shuttle buses that goes to Muir Woods, but after conversing with my Uber pool mates, realized that they were going to Muir Woods! Their final destination was Muir Woods, and they were in a hurry, so I asked the driver if I could just go to Muir Woods since he was headed there anyway and the Uber Pool mates didn’t want to waste the time dropping me off. He agreed! And didn’t even charge me extra. #win

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My Uber Pool mates also happened to be public health professors at a university (can’t remember which one exactly) in Austin, TX! How neat! I told them they were my #goals.

I got to Muir Woods around 11.

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There was no cell service/wifi which was pretty refreshing. I spent about an hour and a half walking around the grounds and scoping things out.

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Around 12:30, I headed back to the Visitor’s Center for some fuel. I ate a banana, an apple, a bagel with peanut butter, some random vegan ‘protein cookie’ thing (which I ate as a cookie, not as a protein supplement/meal replacer) and full bag of beet chips (lol). I packed food in anticipation of not having access to any, unaware that there’s an awesome looking organic cafe with vegan options at the visitors center…oh well…maybe next time? I guess I prob saved some $$, so at least there’s that.

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Then, I went on a longer hike way up into the tops of the mountains (? not sure these are actual mountains…but I hiked all the way up the steepness into the clouds).

Here’s me at the top (yes I asked a nice family to take my photo LIKE A SUPERFICIAL DORK.

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Muir Woods was SO lovely. Just look at the trees! The redwoods were ginormous. It was really refreshing to have a day to myself and disconnect.

Around 3 I decided I was pooped from walking up hill for over an hour and then downhill for an hour (after an hour + of walking flat surface pre-lunch) so I decided to catch the 3:15 shuttle to Sausalito.

I waited for the shuttle. 3:15 came. No bus. Not to complain or anything, but it was chilly. I was hangry. People were all grumpy and confused and wifi-less. Around 4:00pm, a bus rolled up and the driver told us that due to construction and a bus issue, they were short on busses and running behind.

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He then let on about 20 people (I was not one of them) and assured us another bus would come soon.

Around 4:30, another bus came. And the bus driver got off. And then he said it was time for his break….and to the displeasure of all of us waiting…proceeded to go pee and dissapeared for a while. Hey, everyone is entitled to a potty break….but I think the crowd was hangry, cold, and tired, and was quick to express displeasure lol.

I DID get on this bus when it came back tho. And eventually got to Sausalito around 5:15. I was debating taking an Uber back to SF since I was cold and exhausted, but then someone offered me a Ferry Ticket for $5 (regular price is $12) so I took it.

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The Ferry was….bumpy lol. The waves were a bit intense. But it was a nice experience.

The Ferry brought us to Pier 39. I walked back to my friend’s place. Along the way, I stumbled into Ghiradelli Square. I popped my head in to pee in their bathroom (lol) and as I walked in someone handed me free chocolate! I was super hangry so it was perfect. I didn’t take many pics there because I was so focused on peeing and eating and leaving.

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Near my friend’s hood, I grabbed a venti coconut milk chai from Starbucks while I waited for her to return. Then, she went to a kickball thing, and I just chilled. I also went out and grabbed some food at a nearby store (I just got a bunch of random things – multiple rolls, an almond butter packet, some potato thing (lol was def feeling carbs), and a salad. I ate that + a cookie and some chocolate.  And fell asleep at some point because I was pooped. Yay sleep!

Tuesday:

Tuesday was probably my fav day of the trip. I woke up and ate a banana with pb and then  took myself on a long walk to the famous Tartine Bakery. It was about a 50 minute walk from my friend’s place, but I had the time, and it was nice to see the city.

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I ordered the orange tea cake, which was the only vegan option. I really only wanted sourdough bread, but they said I’d have to buy a loaf….lame. The tea cake was pretty good, but not phenomenal for the $5 price tag. My friend said I couldn’t judge them since I ordered something vegan and that’s my own fault. It just wasn’t special. It was good, but only good (wouldn’t go back for it). It also wasn’t labeled vegan; I asked if there were any vegan options and that was it. So you could order it and not know it’s vegan.

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In my opinion, if a bakery is talented, or a chef is, they should be adaptable. I would have been happier if I just had my damn bread (was craving it), so I think my mood was already a bit skewed. What do you think?

Anyways, after that I got myself over to a train station and took the Cal Train for about an hour to Menlo Park to visit my friend who works at Facebook HQ! Lol yes, their address is really 1 Hacker Ave!

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Visiting Facebook was seriously awesome; thanks so much to my friend Travis for letting me visit!

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For lunch we hit up a food court type place (they have like 9 restaurants…it’s like an all-inclusive resort). I got a bunch of vegan kale ceaser (which was NOM), and some kelp noodles with pesto, a black rice salad, some bean dish, a curried cauliflower rice stuffed tomato, and tried famous Dutch crunch bread that was totally meant for a salad…but I just ate as a side 😀 (what can I say I love carbs lol).

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Then we ventured over to the Sweets Shop (yes, a whole resto for sweets) and I got a vegan vanilla froyo with chocolate covered hazelnuts, carob nibs, strawberries, and other random stuff. YUM. Oddly, this was the only frozen dessert I consumed in SF…not sure if it was just me…but I found the vegan dessert options lacking in the area?

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I couldn’t take pics inside, but we also went in some buildings. Holy cow they have amazing snack options. And beverage options.. Like, if I worked there I’d never not be consuming something. That’s all I will say lol.

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We also stopped at the Facebook gift shop and I got a super comfy eco-friendly Instagram shirt. #fashun. And some cool iconic Facebook Thumbs Up magnets.

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After that we took a bus to Insta HQ. And obvi I took some pics in these things lol.

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Then, my friend drove us back to SF. He worked out, while I charged my phone and answered some emails at Starbucks. At Starbucks I ordered a decaf iced Americano which was DEFIANTLY not decaf and I felt insane halfway through and asked if they made it wrong. They did. Blehh. Over-caffinated yuckies.

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Afterwords, we headed to dinner at Shizen, a vegan sushi place. It was supah cute inside!

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We got spicy soy shishito peppers, ginger miso ramen (my first time trying ramen!), a beet salad, and 3 sushi rolls (can’t remember which ones). My photos are blurry because by the time we ate it was like 9:00pm and I was HANG.GREE.

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OH! Also the best thing we ordered were these yummy sweet potato dumplings which were basically giant sweet potato tots. I could have eaten those all day errday.

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The food was yummy! A bit expensive tho IMO. I feel like SF is significantly more expensive for eating out than NYC…?

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Also, I feel meh about ramen, probably because I just don’t like broth with noodles in general (give me veggie soup or pasta…but broth with noodles? never been my thing). Maybe I should give it another go elsewhere, like a Ramen shop 🙂

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After food, it was late, and bed was on the agenda. I was going to go to Denver after SF, but last minute opted to go home instead (needed some me time/missed my baby), so I rescheduled my Denver trip for later this month (holy cow it’s August?!?!?! WTF), and went home to my baby. #NoRegrets.

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Overall, a good trip. Learned a lot and saw a lot. #success. Next time I’d def want to check out some more vegan-focused restaurants (I heard Vegan Burg is super good), but overall I had a good time. 8-). And it was lovely to see my friends!

Vegan Watermelon Feta Balsamic Salad With Tofu Feta + Mint

Watermelon goes surprisingly well in salads. I still remember the first time I had watermelon in a lettuce salad. It was at LPQ right when I moved to NYC to start at NYU. It was served with arugula + feta + mint and seriously good balsamic.

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My mom and I adored this meal. To us, the flavor combo was new. Now, you see this stuff all over. But at the time, it seemed like a fun, wild treat to us. Something I totally would have Insta’d. But that was an age where people didn’t Insta their food. Strange to think about, I know.

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Anyways, when watermelon is in season, I have thrown it into salads ever since that day. I love it.

Now I’m plant-based mostly, and rarely have feta around. Even when I wasn’t plant-based, I rarely bought cheese because it was rare I’d use cheese for more than just a garnish. I was never a huge cheese eater.

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But it adds such a nice a lovely saltiness and a bit of staying power to the salad. So here we are. I used this homemade tofu feta, but you can totally use conventional feta or purchase a plant-based feta at the store.

Arugula provides a nice peppery green, but you can also use baby kale or whatever green you want.go together surprisingly well together. I also often add avocado to this salad. Because avocado. Duh.

watermelon salad ingredients

Also, it’s essential to use a good balsamic. I mean, really you don’t have to, but it will truly kick it up a notch. And if you haven’t experienced a really good balsamic yet in your life, you should. They are sweet and sticky and wonderful.

I used this one from Trader Joe’s, which I’d highly reccomend.

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Speaking of Trader Joe’s, I need to hit it up tomorrow. This week has been crazy busy. I started 2 new jobs, did a lot of freelance, and took a day trip to Chicago, which I’ll be sharing soon.

Stay tuned!

Tofu Feta

Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Servings: 1 as entree or 2 as side, easily doubled or tripled

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups arugula, baby kale, or spinach
  • 1 cup watermelon, cubed
  • 3/4 cup tofu feta or conventional feta, or plant-based store-bought feta
  • 1/2 large avocado, sliced (optional)
  • roughly 1/4th cup fresh mint
  • 4 tablespoons high quality balsamic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Assemble greens, avocado, watermelon, mint and tofu feta in a bowl. Drizzle with desired amount of balsamic and oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Serve with crusty bread and enjoy.

 

 

Herby Tofu Feta

Feta: a cheese I never really purchased, but enjoyed when it was used as a seasoning. Tofu: something I have always adored plain and/or manipulated. Tofu feta: a fun experiment I simply had to try one day and have loved ever since.

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So here we are: Herby marinated tofu feta. Are you ready for this? I hope you’re ready for this.

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Simply to prepare, and full of flavor, this stuff is good on salads, pasta, pizza, sandwiches, avo toast — you pretty much can’t go wrong.

Tofu Feta Kbaked

Does it taste like authentic feta? No. And I’m not going to lie to you about that. This isn’t really a good substitute if you’re craving hardXcore cheese. For that I’d reccomend buying an aged plant-based cheese or actual feta.

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This IS a delicious, protein-packed, flavorful way to eat tofu and something I am going to be making regularly from now on.

I used Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute as a shortcut. If you’ve never had it, it is delicious. I add it to so.many.things: like vinaigrettes and roasted veggies. SO GOOD. If you don’t have it, I listed easy swaps.

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Make this and add it to your next salad or Greek salad. Then HMU on Insta and let me know what ya thought!

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Tofu Feta

Prep Time:  minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes, but at least 2-4 hours for chilling
Servings: about 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 12-16 ounce package tofu
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Trader Joe’s 21 seasoning salute (or, 1/4 tablespoon) garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, and 1/2 tablespoon dried basil)
  • pinch sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Method:

  1. Drain and press tofu with a paper towel. You want to remove excess moisture.
  2. Cut tofu into small cubes.
  3. Combine lemon juice, water, vinegar, nutritional yeast, olive oil, oregano, sugar and sea salt.
  4. Place tofu into marinade and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours, or longer if desired.
  5. Serve on top of salads or with pasta. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Peanut Butter & Sriracha Veggie Sandwich

Hello and welcome to a recipe post that probably sounds very strange at first. But bare with me. Let me walk you through my logic.

Vegan Peanut Butter and Sriracha Veggie Sandwich

Behold the PB&S. PB&S? Can we make that a thing? Okay great. Because it’s surprisingly delicious. Sure, the combination sounds weird and perhaps even a bit icky at first, but think about it: do you like pad thai? Of course you do. Pad Thai is delicious. Pad Thai also has a peanut butter-based sauce. And is spicy and has veggies in it and is paired with carby noodles.

So why not pair peanut butter and Sriracha (or not if you don’t care for spicy) with some crunchy veggies on bread, add some cilantro, and call it lunch?

So here we are. A savory veggie-packed peanut butter sandwich. This is a highly satisfying combination, and makes for a fun way to switch up your lunch time game. I suggest pairing it with a nice crunchy apple with additional peanut butter for dipping.

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And then eat something sweet for dessert. Maybe a cookie. Or maybe a marshmallow fondant covered spotted dick. Have you been watching Great British Bake Off on Netflix?

I can’t stop. I binged the entire three seasons available on Netflix in 4 days. And now I’m rewatching it. If you haven’t seen it yet, you simply must. It makes every other food show feel inferior. I don’t think I’ll ever look at the Food Network again.

Vegan Peanut Butter and Sriracha Veggie Sandwich

There’s just something about how compassionate the contestants are towards one another that is simply beautiful. Also, the hosts are hilarious.

Would anyone reading this be interested in me diversifying my content? Because that’s what it’s about to happen. I realized I like blogs that share things like daily life info and eats so I’m going to try and experiment with that soon, instead of just recipe post after recipe post.

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Also, I apolotize that pictures look blurry on WordPress lately. All of them look crystal clear on my computer, but WordPress keeps distorting them. So I’m working on figuring out how to fix that since it’s been stopping me from uploading content. So for now just deal with my blurry pics plz.

Anywho, happy spring. And on your mark, get set, MAKE (a sandwich) !

Peanut Butter Sriracha Sandwich

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: ~5 minutes
Servings: 1 sandwich

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices of bread, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
  • Sriracha (as much or as little as you please)
  • 3/4 cup chopped vegetables of choice  (I used carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, and lettuce, because that’s what I had in my fridge, but any of your favorite crunchy veggies would do)
  • small handful of cilantro (optional)

Method:

  1. Toast bread.
  2. Spread peanut butter on both pieces of bread.
  3. Chop vegetables and cilantro and add to bread.
  4. Drizzle with Sriracha.
  5. Assemble sandwich and enjoy.

Ginger Miso Soba Noodle Soup with Wasabi Tofu

All aboard the hot mess express! Choo-choo we’re chuggin’ along. What mess, you ask? Well, let’s see. I move across the country in 5 days with zero help, I haven’t packed (but I did do some laundry! – #win), I don’t have an apartment to move into when I get there, AND I have about a million things to do before I leave, including work on Saturday. Heyyyyy reality, it’s really nice to ignore you.

Ginger Miso Soba Noodle Soup with Wasabi Tofu-Vegan

Also, a massive wrench was just thrown into my life and everything is more complicated now. People keep asking me “What are you going to do?” to which I respond, “Go get an iced coffee and chill.” And that’s about all I can handle right now. Hi, adulthood, you scare me.

Ginger Miso Soba Noodle Soup with Wasabi Soy Tofu - Vegan

Anyways, when it comes to crazy times, nothing comforts me more than baking, and/or making a nice home-cooked meal. Home-cooked meals = comfort x 20. Even when you cook it yourself. It can’t be beat.

So the Recipe Redux challenge for August was, “Back to the Table,” and asked contributors to share a recipe that was either an old family favorite or a current family favorite – just something that brought or brings your family together as school and fall and reality sink back in. Speaking of school, hellooo graduate school at Columbia University, I’ll see you Monday! And hopefully maybe I’ll have an apartment by then…

Ginger Miso Soba Noodle Soup with Wasabi Tofu - Vegan .

Anyways, my mom used to make the most amazing home cooked meals ever! Favorites were always her pastas and soups (she kicks BUTT at those), and other dishes full of perfectly cooked or roasted vegetables nd homemade salads with homemade dressing and berry crisps for dessert. Yum. You raised me well, mama. Thanks.

Life is much different now than back when I could sit with a family of four and eat. Lots has changed. And family meals have taken on a new meaning. I did actually live with my mom this year, and we actually did share a lot of dinners. But now-a-days with a different family structure and just the two of us, “family dinner,” has a much different meaning.

Ginger Miso Soba Noodle Soup with Wasabi Tofu - Vegan

My mom isn’t really  able to cook much anymore, so we made a lot of simple things and/or went out to sushi. Every Monday and Tuesday is half-price sushi and hibachi and ramen and noodle bowls an excellent Japanese place nearby. So right now, to me, family meals mean Japanese.

No complaints; I love Japanese food. It’s simple, clean, and allows flavors to speak for themselves. The weekly-Japanese dinners inspired this meal, as now I associate Japanese food as mommy time.

Miso Ginger Broth

So here is a big bowl of delicious soba noodles in an umami ginger miso broth. I bought mine at Trader Joe’s. I then added some marinated Wasabi Baked Tofu because marinated baked tofu is delicious and I just found wasabi paste on clearance at Target for $0.84 and felt like I won the lottery. WHOO! I love wasabi. #feeltheburn.

This dish probably is not in anyway authentic Japanese cuisine (just like chicken parmesan is faux-Italian), but hey – it’s inspired by Japanese flavors and my current definition of a family dinner. Hope you enjoy! And if you like Japenese-ish things, check out this Miso Ginger Baked Tofu, this Miso Hummus,  or these Soba Noodle Asian Kale Salad with Soy Ginger Dressing. Yums.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30-45 minutes
Level: Easy

serves 2-3 as entree, 4 as side

Ingredients – Ginger Miso Soba NoodleSoup:

  • 32 ounces (1 box) Ginger Miso Broth (from Trader Joe’s – you can substitute other miso broth and add additional ginger) with 1/2 cup reserved for tofu marinade.
  • 4-ounces soba noodles
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 scallion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (can substitute dried ground ginger)
  • 3/4 cup mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup sugar snap peas or broccoli (or both!)
  • 1/2 cup diced green onions

Ingredients – Wasabi Tofu:

  • 1/2 cup Ginger Miso Broth
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2-4 teaspoons wasabi paste, (depending on desired level of spice ~ I tend to like things really hot)
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice (can substitute one tablespoon sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1-2 tablespoons Sriracha (optional)

Directions:

  1. Drain as much liquid from the tofu as possible by pressing gently with a paper towel. Prepare marinade by combining Ginger Miso Broth, Soy Sauce, wasabi paste, freshly grated ginger, orange juice, and Sriracha. Whisk well.
  2. Slice tofu into bite-sized pieces and place in a low baking dish (a 9×9-inch or similar baking tray should work). Pour marinade over tofu. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator, at least 30 minutes (ideally 2-3 hours)
  3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 F. Prepare soba noodles according to directions on package, drain and rinse in cold water and set aside.
  4. Place tofu in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until firm, browned, and crispy around the edges, flipping halfway through if desired. When finished, remove from oven and allow to cool. While it’s baking, you can prepare the broth, below.
  5. Dice scallions and garlic. Dice green onions and set aside. If using broccoli, wash and cut into bite sized pieces. Wash and dice mushrooms.
  6. In a large skillet pan over medium heat, warm oil with scallions and garlic and allow to simmer until scallions become translucent. Add freshly grated ginger and allow to simmer. Add broccoli and/or snap peas and mushrooms and cook until vegetables become slightly tender, 4-6 minutes. Add broth and allow to warm and simmer, about 15 minutes.
  7. Add soba noodles to broth and warm for an addition 2-3 minutes.
  8. Serve in bowls and top with tofu and green onions, and Sriracha if desired. Serve with this Asian Kale Salad.

For more Recipe Redux Back to The Table Meals, click around below:

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