Monday, July 21, 2014

Product Review: No Cookie Cookie

“Yes they're chewy, yes they're moist, yes they're delicious. They are baked by my wife and me in our Oakland bakery, it’s the No Cookie, Cookie" greets the owner, Bilal of the vegan cookie that’s satisfying tummies internationally. Bilals' bright smile and charismatic charm pulls in the crowds while his delicious vegan and gluten-free cookies pull our bellies.

The ingenious No Cookie Cookies are prepared at The No Bakery based in Oakland,CA by owner Bilal and his wife. This family owned business started small combining hard work, healthy ingredients, and love to create what has now become one of the most sought after vegan treats in the San Francisco/Bay Area. The creation of this cookie began as a challenge to Mr. Bilal 14 years ago by his vegan friends; who challenged him to create a tasty vegan cookie that could compare in taste to non-vegan cookies. Bilal welcomed the challenge and created his first vegan cookie which proved successful. What began as merely a challenge grew into what we now know as The No Cookie Cookie.
For those of you, like myself looking for a healthy treat to satisfy your sweet tooth without the guilt, dairy, or gluten look no further The No Cookie Cookie is dairy free, wheat free, and free of refined sugars. Their motto: vegan never tasted so good only scratches the surface of how amazing The No Bakery treats are. I love how flavorful, chewy, and moist each cookie is. My favorites are Oatmeal Raisin and Island Coconut. They come in packs of 2 or 4 and are enjoyed best with almond milk, non-dairy ice cream, or simply alone.

Visit them online or at a healthstore near you. The No Cookie Cookie comes in 7 different flavors: Oatmeal Raisin, Carob Mint, Chocolate Chip, Ginger Spice, Peanut Butter, Island Coconut and Lemon Poppy Seed. Oh, I forgot to mention they also have a moist and delicious No Cookie Brownie. Yum!!!

Me and my sweet tooth are feeling right, right about now!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Loooooong Overdue I know.....but I am Back Now

Its been awhile. Which is an understatement. During the school year it becomes difficult to write,edit, and post meaningful blogs in the midst of lesson planning, grading, meetings, and my second 25 hour part-time job. Plainly stated blogging was put on the back burner to my 85 hour work week. I am back now. Queen of the summer. I have been relaxing, local traveling, exercising, eating out, cooking in, and enjoying my free time. I am loving it.

In the past four months I have ran two half marathons, joined a fitness boot camp, experimented with new cooking recipes and completed a 5 day juice cleanse. I am feeling super focused on my health goals and looking forward to seeing some major results.

Stay tuned for recipes, restaurant and product reviews, progress photos, fitness goal updates and more.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Restaurant Review: Donut Farm

Donut Farm is a a fairly new restaurant to the Bay. It began as a bakery distributing whole sale vegan donuts to small and large companies. In the past 2 years they opened their doors to the public for weekend brunch. The restaurant resembles a small hole in the wall, hipster, mom and pop joint with 7 cafeteria style tables and an old school waitress counter. The menu offers classic American breakfast vegan style with a hipster twist.

During my Birthday week I decided to celebrate it by visiting all of my favorite vegan friendly restaurants each day, each restaurant with a different friend. I chose to spend Sunday Brunch with my long time friend Jay at Donut Farm in Temescal. Prior to this visit I had visited Donut Farm two other times before. The first time I was extremely impressed the food was amazing, the service great, the price was right, and the company was awesome too. However, the second time around I was sorely disappointed the only thing that remained consistent from the previous time was the awesome company. The food was mediocre, the price was outrageous, and service iffy. So, upon arriving for my Birthday Brunch I had zero expectations; to prevent any post-experience let down.

Jay and I are both health conscious, very particular, and in some ways food snobs. We love great ambiance, attentive and personable service, cleanliness, and most of all fresh and tasty food. Initially, Jay was overwhelmed with the wealth of options on the menu until he finally decided on the fruit and granola bowl and a breakfast burrito. I got the tofu scramble with toast and hash browns; along with a mug of Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate (which was soooo delicious). I enjoyed my meal. It tasted very fresh, it was well portioned, and well seasoned. The service was ok, and the price was decent. Yet, on the other hand Jay wasn't so impressed with his burrito. He said it lacked flavor and creativity thus, his hungry tummy only ate half of the uninspiring burrito. We shared the granola bowl. It came with almond milk, granola, and bananas it was super simple and tasted good. 

 A major highlight of Donut Farm, are Pepples donuts. They have vegan cake donuts and vegan yeast donuts. The cake donuts come in over a dozen of flavors from Matcha Green Tea to Cinnamon Sugar. My favorites are the glazed yeast donuts. After our meal I got a couple cake donuts for my friends and a glazed for myself. They are amazing. They melt in your mouth and will make any woman forget they were watching their weight. I totally forgot to take pics so sorry, I only got a pic of the box which pays no justice to the how awesome the donuts are. Overall, it was a good experience. Jay was glad to try something new and I was glad to get my last free Birthday Meal haha!!! LOL

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sweet Tooth Soother Smoothie

My new go to sweet tooth soother is this bomb banana almond smoothie I created on a whim with some leftover ingredients in the pantry. It is super simple to make, with only 3 ingredients all of which are organic, vegan, and yummy. This smoothie satisfies the taste buds and is super filling.

It is great for raw vegans too because it is packed with nutrients, natural sugar, and it's calorically dense for boosting energy.

3 Frozen bananas
2 cups Almond milk
6 Pitted Dates

Blend until liquified and creamy. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Traveling Vegan in L.A

My girl, Francessca and I decided to visit Los Angeles, CA for our 3 day weekend off school. As teachers, it's advised to live up every break to the fullest in order to come back refreshed. I really wanted to try to some new vegan food and word on the street is L.A has some of the best vegan spots in Cali, so I was down for the journey. My home-girl on the other hand really wanted to show stop at a few parties- so we combined our two agendas and headed to L.A.

I recently converted my friend to veganism (she dabbled with it in the past), so she was down for some vegan food variety. Our first meal was at her favorite vegan spot Native Foods in West Wood the menu was extensive, the staff was super friendly, and it was an amazing day. 87 degrees in January who could ask for anything better.

 In our dresses, we curvy vegans ordered an appetizer, drinks, and one entree each. We sat outside, in the sun, and for a moment we truly considered relocating to L.A . Taking into account the good food, the cool people, the nice weather, the shopping, and the nightlife.

I was super reluctant to order at Native Foods which has a large selection of vegan comfort food. I feared my body would reject rich vegan junk food, which would be no bueno on vacay. So, I stuck with their Yo Amigo Taco Salad and a lavender lemonade which was amazing.

For our appetizzer we shared polenta bites and vegan super nachos. Between are drinks, the appetizers, and the meal we couldn't finish anything. SOoooo.... we took it all to go.

After a night of tearing up the dance floor our stomachs were grumbling. The next morning we went to Real Food Daily in Santa Monica. We were greeted by the dessert case which was mouthwatering. We nearly lost our minds looking at all the amazing desserts.

 Although, we were eyeing the dessert case our tummys wanted breakfast. We made our way to our seats and we both ordered The Weekender Platter. Which included pancakes, hash browns, cashew cheese, tempeh bacon, and a tofu scramble. Francessca ordered the same except with french toast and a bagel. Breakfast was ok. The RFD in Pasadena (I visited last year) was a little tastier with better ambiance but the service at the Santa Monica location was stellar.

Fran vegan buttering up
The Weekender with French Toast
Ready to eat
The Weekender with Pancakes

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lean, Mean, and Green in 2014 Fitness Challenge

Every year I create fitness goals for myself. Last year it was 13 races in 2013 which I thematically coined “13 in 2013”. This year is: “Lean, Mean, and Green in 2014”. I have set some pretty high goals for myself so high I am reluctant to share them. I was once told when you share your goals it encourages you to be more accountable so accountable I’ll be. in 2014 I have 4 goals:

  1. Complete 2 travel races (somewhere outside of California)
I want to explore other states and what better way to do it... while running. I currently have  my eyes set on Las Vegas and Oklahoma- (I know 2 totally different ends of the spectrum.)

  1. Volunteer at 6 races
After completing 13 races I realized the importance of volunteers at races and instantly became grateful for them. They do so much and without them races wouldn't run so smooth. Due to this fact, I want to give back to support races the same way they supported me.

  1. Complete a half marathon training plan
Sooooo, I hate to admit that I never created an actual training plan. Don’t get me wrong I  didn’t run completely untrained. I just never followed a plan. This year I really want to complete one to see how my performance improves.

  1. Compete in a bikini (bodybuilding style) competition
    My biggest and wildest fitness goal ever. I have always been a fan of lean yet curvy bodies. I don’t want to just be a fan and admire from the sidelines anymore I want to be apart of it. In effort to challenge myself and my body- I want  to say I tried it once. Typically this sport requires a lot of discipline, time, and money all of which I will need to find more of to make this dream a reality.

    Root for me yall all support is welcome!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mom's Vegan Meal Just for Me

Vegetable lentil Stove-top Stew
As many vegans know It can sometimes take family a while to adjust to change. Deciding to be vegetarian created a lot of discomfort for my family. They wondered how/when we’d eat together, if I’d get enough nutrients, and warned of “supposed” inconvenience of being vegetarian.
Okra, Corn, Tomato succotash

Now, after 11 years as a vegetarian and a 1.5 years of being vegan. My family now fully supports my decision. So much so my mother takes pride in making me vegetarian (close to vegan as she can) meals when I visit. Which she also admits to enjoying.
Southern hot water corn bread
She prepared one of my all time favorites meals is okra, corn, tomato succotash, lentil vegetable stove top stew, and hot water cornbread (cornmeal and hot water).
Mom's Vegan Meal (includes slice of non-vegan corn bread)
When you put it all together and what do you get?.......A beautiful, healthy, vegan meal. It is super filling, yet light so I don't feel so stuffed I can't move. All the ingredients are unprocessed, organic, and vegan.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

13 things I learned during my 13 in 2013 Challenge

I completed my 13 in 2013 Challenge and boy do I feel accomplished, empowered, in-shape and host of other feelings but most of all I feel educated about this whole process and I’m here to share some of what I learned.

1. Eat a balanced carb load meal the night before
My first half-marathon I felt overweight and was following a strict diet. The night before my race I told my aunt I was having a smoothie for dinner. She told me: "that’s fine if you wanted to burnout half way through." She was right, so I ate some of the pasta dinner she prepared and I believe that is the only reason I completed that race. Nowadays, I take in at least 600 calories in carbs for my pre-race carb-load dinner.

2. Wear comfortable socks and underwear
I learned the hard way the importance of quality underwear. I ran a race with socks that were too thick that made my feet hurt severely and with panties that rode up with every stride. The discomfort caused both chaffing and docked me some time of what could have been a PR.  I now purchase quality socks and comfortable underwear.

3. Enlist support
I perform better when I know someone is on the sidelines waiting for me to finish victoriously. My friends shouting “Go Enjoli” as I sprint to the finish line is one of the best moments of a race.

4. Register early
Most people I know like to save money. The sooner you register the more money you save. Prices raise by $10-$25 dollars depending on the race, after each deadline.

5. Go to packet-pick up
Go to packet pick-up and go early. Here is where you’ll get your shirt, race bib, timing chip, and safety pins. In addition, most packet pick-ups are like fun expos to meet new people, learn about new products, and get free samples galore.

6. Reward yourself
Each time I made a PR or sometimes just completing the race itself, I gave myself a reward as both an incentive and a gift to self. I'm a sucker for cute workout shirts on Etsy so I frequently rewarded myself with one after races. My final gift to self was a medal holder which holds my race bibs, my medals, and a picture of me. One of my best treats this year.

7. Pack healthy post race snacks
Post-race snacks are vital for recovery. As a vegan it’s very important to pack your own snacks because you can’t depend on the organization to have vegan options. After one race the only options were ice cream, brownies, cookies, goldfish and danishes...not my cup of tea

8. Get a good nights rest before
Although, I am known to get under 6 hours most nights this is not recommended before a race. A good night's rest is crucial to performance on race day. I recommend 8-9 hours of sleep and no exercise 1-2 days before race to allow the body to fully rest.

9. Follow a training plan
I have to admit I didn't follow a training plan and I honestly believe had I followed one my PR would be so much better. People who did follow a plan seemed better prepared on race day and recovered with zero to few injuries.

10. Join a running group
A running group helps build new friendships, motivates you to run, and empowers you to improve. I joined running group Black Girls Run almost 2 years ago and have run with them a few times for conditioning and love running with them during big races. There is nothing like seeing a friend cheer you on while running through a tough spot.

11.Smile for race pics
Smiling seems to increase my energy number one and it when race photos are processed I’m more inclined to love and purchase my photos. In my first few race photos I looked tired, uncomfortable, and out of breath. This time around my hands are up in the air with a big smile.

12.Bring post-race toiletries
If you're like me and want to take photos after the race and/or eat out among the normal world of not sweat or dog-tired people you’ll want to bring a mini toiletry bag. I always pack face wipes, deodorant, perfume, gum, and lip gloss. I love looking (and smelling) fresh with my new race bling around my neck.

13. Wear something fun (and comfortable)
When I first started running I wore whatever outfit I could find. Little did I know I should wear comfortable undergarments, something I feel cute in, and a splash of something fun. During my races I often seen women in tutu’s, colorful knee-high socks, frilly arm, waist, and head bands neon bright. I loved seeing these women they looked like they were having so much fun. So now I like to add a little something fun when I race. Super important to wear something comfortable and train with it to be sure it won't impede running. For my divas race I wore a tutu which got caught between my legs at every half bueno.

*Bonus tip* Have fun
Whether you're trying to make a PR, beat a previous PR, or just in it for the bling. Most important is to have fun and not take it too serious. The body responds negatively to stress which will directly impact race day performance. So best to stride with ease and a smile.