Thursday, May 30, 2013

Birthday Vegan

That's my little nephew Kenji... he's obsessed with Toy Story (I got him all the DVD's for his birthday!) & at his ripe old age - he's bilingual!  He speaks English & Japanese because my brother is fluent from spending 3 years in Japan & his wife IS Japanese.

So the whole family got together at Kenji's house in Fort Lauderdale to celebrate his birthday & guess what my Mom decided to do?  Make the entire birthday luncheon VEGAN!!!  I was blown away by her idea (she didn't tell anyone ahead of time) & amazed by how supportive she continues to be of my new lifestyle!  My Mom is a part-time Vegan ;)

So... Mom made sprouted lentil and bean burritos with salsa, avocado, soy cheese and black olives.  Nobody was asking for steak or chicken when she served these babies!!

They were so good - shockingly good!  But that wasn't even the best part!  

You are looking at a mocha vegan cupcake made with coconut oil and covered in dark chocolate shavings.  I've died & gone to healthy chocolate heaven!

***By the way, on a total side note, if you're bored one day, google coconut oil because it's amazing!  A super oil worthy of exploring, it's great for cooking, increasing metabolism, fighting weight loss, increasing immunity, fighting viruses AND it's great for the skin!  In fact, the cattle industy once tried plumping up cows by feeding them coconut oil, but to their dismay, the cows actually lost weight!  It's a good, healthy fat & I put a teaspoon in my green smoothie every single morning now.  One of my friends also said it's yummy in coffee... but I haven't tried that yet.  But I do it buy it by the bottle now & I even use it as a moisturizer all over my body straight from the shower instead of lotion!***

I think Kenji liked the vegan birthday lunch because I got a great thank-you kiss!

He's still young & he's my little monkey!  Monkeys are herbivores, right?!  Well... technically omnivores... but that's not the point!  Maybe I can convert him before he even realizes it!  Could you imagine the lease on a healthy life you could obtain if you were lucky enough to be fed a plant-based diet since birth?  I only wish I had that same opportunity!  But at least I'm starting now & I can make a difference everyday & reverse all the bad junk that I've put in my body over the last few decades.  Now I'm just wondering if I should switch the little munchkins to a plant-based diet... did you know there was vegan doggie food??  I just found that out!  Now I'm pondering... let me know if you have thoughts about this... Anyone?  Bueller?  Bueller?  I would love to get some feedback on this!  I'll report back my findings in a future blog post! 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Urban Veggie Cowgirl

Hey ya'll!  I just got back from Fort Worth, Texas!  There I am leaving my mark on the "White Elephant Saloon."  It's a right of passage in the Stockyards... no joke... google it!
Soooooo... what was this Miami girl doing in the Lonestar State?  My good friend Brian Ely took the plunge and tied the knot with his beautiful bride Kristen Jarret!

My best friend, Sasha Andrade, joined me for a fun girls weekend!  And boy did we two-step our way all over Texas!  I made her wear cowboy boots because I thought, "When in Texas..."

Don't ask me why we thought it was a good idea to take pictures in the bathroom... but there was a lot of this going on the entire weekend!

Hey, we were in town celebrating the Union of our good friends, how often does that happen?
And Cowboy Bars are a dime a dozen in FW!
Anyway... since I made Sasha dress in what I thought a real Texan would wear, she proceeded to tell every single person we met, that we were in "costume."
Hey, as far as I'm concerned, she's lucky I didn't make her wear a Cowgirl HAT!

No worries!  We had a great time and met awesome people!  I am a BIG fan of Texas Hospitality!

We found this gorgeous water park in the middle of Downtown Fort Worth.  Cool fountains in the middle of a cement city - perfect for a hot May day!

I was working on my South Florida tan in Texas while Sash was practicing her water ballet!

And being Vegan, Sasha didn't think I would be able to stick to my diet and actually eat in "Cowtown."  That really is the name of a restaurant there and NO I did not eat there!

But I managed through the help of lovely servers at all the local restaurants...
Actually... a big shout-out to all the super-sweet people in Texas!

If it's true what they say about everything being bigger there, the locals really do have big hearts!  Nobody gave me any trouble for ordering off-menu with special requests, quite the contrary, they were ready and willing to help make me happy with my menu!

No barbecue for me!  This is my version of "bar food" - steamed veggies and baked sweet potatoes

Back at the wedding, it was all photo booth fun!  We made memory books for our friends by just being our normal, crazy selves.  I gotta get one of those photo booths for my house!  Could you imagine the fun you could have at every party!?  I'm a scrapbooking fool and I love to take pictures that you can look back at and laugh and laugh and laugh!

Our favorite Boy became a Man & Married his Sweetheart!
I couldn't be happier for him!
As for my short weekend love affair with the 2nd biggest state in America... I loved the people, I loved the food, I loved the bars, I loved the personality of Fort Worth and guess what?
I will be coming back now, ya hear!!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Vegan Vibology

Road trip time!  Have doggies... will travel... doggy seat required!
As you know by now, I am the proud mother of 2 boys & they pretty much go wherever I go sooooo... we set off to Vero Beach again last weekend.  Not to relax & enjoy the beach.... Nooooo way!  This was not a pleasure/fun weekend, this was a working weekend!  Ever see the show "Hoarders"???

Yeah... it was my job to clean out my grandmother's apartment.  Not fun for Jacey!  Did I ever mention that I have full-blown, undiagnosed, organized-to-a-fault OCD???  Just looking at this mess gives me the shakes!  So after a few hours of barely making a dent in the mess, my Dad saved me & took me out to a cool little sandwich shop.  Upon my request, they made me exactly what I wanted.

A veggie wrap of my choice!  I got to pick all the ingredients & the owners of the "Barefoot Cafe" in Downtown Vero were so helpful!  So, my Dad & I go outside to eat our wraps & 3 girls walk up to ask me about vegan, since they overheard me ordering.  I end up talking to the girls for awhile about the improvements I've seen with the change: weight loss, glowing skin, massive amounts of energy & overall just feeling great & loving my new life.  The girls walk away inspired, telling me that they are going to try to go vegan 5 days a week!  I tell them any change, no matter how small, will help make a difference!  So, I'm on Cloud 9, feeling like I have helped the movement, when we walk next door to "Tea & Chi" to go see my Dad's friends.  So, I'm still kind of hungry... I have high metabolism... I eat a lot... what do you want from me?!  :)
So, I see that there is a vegan soup on the menu... black bean & sweet potato... possibly the yummiest & weirdest combo I have ever tried!  Anyway, the girl sitting in the tea shop asks me about vegan & ends up telling me how she tried it, but gave it up due to feeling pressure from her friends to be "normal." Oh hells no!  You know that just fired me up & I started spreading my "gospel" again.  Fast forward to: we exchanged business cards & we have a Vero Vegan date the next time I am in town for pleasure & not cleaning out a hoarder house!
I can't make this stuff up!  Isn't that so cool?  Well for me, it is way cool!

After a weekend of cleaning & garage sale-ing, it was time to head back to the MIA (thank God!) so look at what my Mommy made me for the road: a salad of romaine, baby greens, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, hemp seeds, red peppers, avocado & balsamic dressing.  As I've said before, I like food-planning so that I don't crave junk or make poor choices so I always like to have food with me rather than have a growling stomach & hunger pains!

So once I got back to work, it was my last weekend working with my buddy Michael Smith!  We celebrated our last newscast together with a vegan cake & funny faces!  Look for more from Mikey... he's going places!  I'm sooooo proud of him!  

And my other boys at work were busy covering the Heat & the Finals on the Road to Repeat!  Victor Oquendo & Will Manso are consummate professionals that take their work very seriously!  

Me, on the other hand, I actually do take my work extremely seriously!  And the other day I was covering this story where a 22-year-old woman jumped off the Rickenbacker Causeway... she's ok!  So I'm working and a still photographer randomly comes up & starts taking picks of me while I'm working...

And he's really talented!!

If you are ever looking for a great photographer... check out George Wakefield Photography!  GW really is AWESOME!!!

Food Festival... Vegan Possible??

I recently attended the Las Olas Wine & Food Festival.  I had an awesome time!  Can you tell by the pics?  Who wouldn't have a blast when the only thing on the agenda for the entire evening is to drink delectable wine & eat fantastic food while walking up & down Las Olas on a gorgeous night?  Well... a Virgin Vegan may be a little nervous that she might go hungry because of the lack of food choices!  I haven't mentioned this before but I need to come clean:  I need to eat every few hours or else I get.... let's just say... VERY cranky! Ask ANYONE who knows me!  My friends, family and loved ones can see the monster coming and they have very specific directions to keep me happy & smiling... just feed me!  Normally I keep a piece of fruit or a bar in my purse at all times but when you are headed to a festival, you are excited to try the featured food, right?!  So imagine my surprise when there were more than enough choices that were sans-meat and dairy free!  By the way, I didn't have to go carb-heavy to make it happen either!  There were great soups, quinoa salad, bean/lentil side dishes and veggie kabobs.  It made the night even more fun & once again, it showed my friends that my diet isn't as restricting as many of us may think it is.

So, my visits to restaurants don't feel limited & it's great!  Minerva & I went out to Sugarcane in Midtown last night.  Now, our tradition has always been to go there for happy hour for the discounted drinks and the $5 sushi rolls... last night was no different except that I stuck to the veggies & she enjoyed the seafood.  I was willing to allow myself a little tiny cheat if I was in the mood for a tuna or salmon roll... but I found myself telling her that I just don't have the desire to cheat!  Even as I talk to other vegans, who have been committed for years, I'm shocked at how quickly I acclimated to the lifestyle!  I mean, look at what is in my fridge these days:

Fresh organic veggies, fruits and grains galore!  I LOVE eating clean & I love sharing the "gospel" with anyone I meet!  In fact, yesterday I went to my first Orange Theory class with my girlfriend Tory... we kicked some serious butt!  She inspired me to go & I really loved the fast-paced mix of cardio & weights!

But after the class, we went next door to Gilbert's, which was recommended by a friend, but can only be described a a burger joint!  But get this, both of us were able to eat fully vegan without even stressing about it!  I'm a soup fool... so I was blown away that not only do they make homemade soups every single day... but out of the 4 offered... 3 were non-dairy vegan!  How cool is that?  So Tory & I both got the mushroom barley and we both ordered the portabello mushroom burger covered with fresh grilled veggies.  Watch out Tory... you may like the lifestyle... working out & eating clean... come on! Does it get any better than that?!?

Ok, just in case you get the idea that little Miss Virgin Vegan quit meat & dairy cold-turkey & that life is just a bed of roses with the new diet... don't be fooled!  While I am on fire with my lifestyle that I love, I certainly have not quit refined sugar completely!  It is on my list of things to do & I am working towards that but... sometimes a girl just has to have some frosted flakes!  Better than cake & cookies & ice cream, right?  So here is proof that I do have a few vices & I am such a bad influence that little Jagger discovered that he likes sugar-covered corn flakes too!  Ok, ok I promise, I'm working on it.  Check back later to see how I do with giving up the most addicting ingredient in the WORLD!

However, I am not giving up chocolate!  That's Tory & my friend Victor checking out my vegan chocolate that a friend sent to me at work!  It's made locally here in South Florida by this cool vegan chick.  Her company is call Cioccolada - check it out if you are craving something sweet that is still good for you!  All dark chocolate... yummy for my tummy!
But as long as we are being honest & airing all MY dirty laundry... here are a few other VICES of mine that I am NOT giving up!!!

I'm not proud... but these things do make me mighty happy!  Don't judge!  You know you have your Vices too!  :)

Veggie Vision

Ok, so the number one question I get about eating vegan is, "How do you do it?"  The next statement I get immediately after that is, "Isn't it hard?"  My answer is always, "No!"  It's shocking (even for me) to realize how easy this lifestyle has become!  Maybe it's because I like rules and limits and lines in the sand.  I'm a planner, I like control over my life and my diet, so being Vegan fits perfectly in those parameters.  So, let's walk through a typical day of eating without guilt, cravings, hunger or animals!

Let's start with breakfast on-the-go (the only way I know how to go)... first of all... there's NO WAY I'm giving up my coffee!  It's organic, it's full of anti-oxidants, it's good for my metabolism, I only drink one cup a day and all I add to it is almond milk.  So if you're looking for someone who says they gave up caffeine and love it... don't look at this girl!
Moving on... green smoothies are my new obsession!  The one above is better than any protein drink you could drink or any veggie plate you could eat.
Ingredient List: banana, blueberries, flax seed, chia seed, chlorella, bee pollen, plant protein, maca, organic kale, parsley, sprouts and spinach.
Now, this is coming from a girl that used to eat greek yogurt smoothies everyday of my life!  But this switch worked perfect for me because I'm still getting plenty of protein plus the super foods that keep me full all day!  Not to mention the antioxidant punch first thing in the morning that packs me with energy all day!

I happen to pack my lunch at home every night, for the next day.  I used to make turkey sandwiches... I'm a creature of habit... I eat the exact same thing all the time!  So once I gave up meat, I switched out the turkey for veggie, garden, black bean, mushroom, red pepper, boca or any other vegan burger you can imagine!  I have boxes and boxes in my freezer!  I make the sandwiches open-faced with an english muffin on the bottom and then I pile on mustard, sprouts, spinach, broccoli slaw and then the "burger" of choice.  I personally love, love, love mayonnaise but since I went vegan, I have not found the substitutions to be the slightest bit tasty, so I just gave up mayo and I use mustard instead.  What else is in my lunchbox?  A bag of raw, cut up yellow, red and orange peppers, a bag of chips... yes I eat chips!  And I also throw in some fruit, granola and a piece of chocolate.  Voila!  No cravings possible when you have a packed lunch with you AND it keeps you from making a mistake and eating junk food, when you really don't want to!

Now, the next thing people ALWAYS say to me is, "It must be really hard for you to find options when you eat out, right?"  Once again... NO!  The yummy pic above is a veggie roll that I ordered when I went out to the sushi restaurant, Yakkosan, with my girlfriend Marcy.  It's filled with mushrooms, peppers, spinach, avocado, tomatoes, cucumber and rice.  I also had edamame & soup & was perfectly content.  I love that I can order vegan pretty much anywhere I go, because it doesn't affect my social life or make my friends feel uncomfortable thinking we can only go to Vegan-friendly restaurants - I can eat anywhere! 

But, I do have to say I had the most amazing dinner out at a restaurant that IS Vegan!  Great ambiance, amazing food & fantastic cocktails...

SUBLIME in Fort Lauderdale!  Ever heard of it??  We took my friend Michael for his "going-away" dinner.  He is NOT Vegan & he still loved it... especially the sliders... they taste like actual burgers... but they are not!  We had soooo much fun that I can't wait to go back & bring more of my non-vegan friends... because this is a place that can encourage even the most dedicated meat-eater!

It's a beautiful restaurant right on US-1 so go check it out if you can, because you won't regret it.  Hit the bar for happy hour for 1/2 price wines & apps too!  Can you tell that's where I started?!  :)