Our Top 100 favorite things about being vegan (celebrating our 100th post!)

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HAPPY 100th POST TO US! It’s been so much fun sharing our food, laughs, and life with you over the past year and we are excited for hundreds of more posts to come! As a tribute to what plant-based lifestyle has done for our lives, we are breaking the barrier of our normal hump-day laziness to share our top 100 reasons for being vegan (in no particular order).

100 Favorite Things About Being Vegan

  1. Having enough energy to workout, work long hours, cook delicious meals, write a blog, plan and partake in adventures, and live passionate life.
  2. Saving 50+ animals a year

    We found a magical snow elephant snowshoeing this weekend!

    We found a magical snow elephant snowshoeing this weekend!

  3.  All the amazing, compassionate, open people we have met because of our interest in plants
  4. Losing over 60 pounds between the two of us
  5. Creating and re-creating favorite meaty & cheesy meals
  6. Kayrn’s on Green (oh man – our fav)
  7. VooDoo Donut Apple Fritters
  8. Quick recovery time after hard workouts
  9. Discovering new substitutes (and proving that vegan cookies are breathtaking)
  10. MindBodyGreen
  11. Taking a more mindful interest the role each meal plays in the quality of my life
  12. Helping others to discover their healthiest, happiest selves (even a few more plants is great!)
  13. Yumm sauce
  14. Veg-fest’s galore: Portland, Chicago, San Fran

    Rockin' Out at Chicago Veg-Fest 2011

    Rockin’ Out at Chicago Veg-Fest 2011

  15. Eating Animals – good for thinkers of going veggie
  16. Papa G’s

    Deli of vegan deliciousness in Portland

    Deli of vegan deliciousness in Portland

  17. Portobello
  18. That sweet potato fries can be considered a meal
  19. Cruelty free products not tested, or made with, sweet fuzzy loving animals
  20. Daiya – we lika the cheeze!
  21. Post Punk Kitchen
  22. Coconut Bliss Ice Cream
  23. Veganomicon
  24. Predictable and extraordinary poops
  25. Millennium
  26. Vegetarian House

    All vegan chinese restaurant in downtown Portland - and right across the street from VooDoo Donuts!

    All vegan chinese restaurant in downtown Portland – and right across the street from VooDoo Donuts!

  27. Tofutti Cream Cheese
  28. Farm Sancutuary
  29. Food, Inc
  30. Vegan Essentials
  31. Clear skin (not for everyone, but most see an improvement)
  32. Lara & Halo bars
  33. Vegucated
  34. Sweet and Sarah marshmallows
  35. The Vegan Sourcebook
  36. Forks over Knives
  37. Trader Joe’s Vanilla Almond Milk
  38. Mastering the art of making our own meats
  39. Scott Jurek
  40. Sizzle Pie – Spiral Tap Pizza will bring you so much joy100_sizzle
  41. Finding veggie friends using Meetup.com
  42. Asian markets
  43. The Green Owl Cafe

    Where our love from BBQ Jackfruit was born

    Where our love from BBQ Jackfruit was born

  44. Vega products
  45. Soy milk commercials
  46. Food coop’s (and getting memberships to actually support them!)
  47. The China Study
  48. Happy Herbivore
  49. Planning vacations around restaurants, and maybe fitting in some other things
  50. Trumpet Blossom (get dessert peeps!)
  51. Vegan MoFo (vegan month of food)
  52. Chef Chole Coscarelli
  53. Babycakes
  54. Vegan Cuts – sign up for their monthly vegan snack box
  55. Diet for a Small Planet
  56. BBQ Jackfruit (and knowing what Jackfruit is – never would have ordered before going veggie)
  57. Tofu scramble Sunday brunch
  58. The Vegan Stoner
  59. Herbivore clothing
  60. The day that you can feel your body begin to crave vegetables more than junk food
  61. Vegan with a Vengence
  62. Isa Chandra Moskawitz
  63. The Joy of Vegan Baking (best.cookbook.ever)
  64. Taking our love for all beings to another level
  65. Warrior Force protein powder
  66. Sage’s Cafe – and Salt Lake City
  67. Mad City Vegan Fest
  68. No more cholesterol!
  69. Two Beans or Not Two Beans
  70. The Shop ‘N Kart (Our new favorite grocery store.)
  71. Getting creative at Thanksgiving and blowing your families mind
  72. Cinnaholic

    The best part of Berkley after the people watching

    The best part of Berkley after the people watching

  73. Meat is for Pussies  – veggies for bros!
  74. Vegan Brunch (another favorite – you can tell by the amount of pancake batter between the pages)
  75. Finding new and interesting ways to use tempeh
  76. Rich Roll
  77. Juicing – and having your body show you how happy it can really feel
  78. Prepping ourselves for our first visit this summer to NYC as vegans
  79. Dandies marshmallows
  80. Thunderbird Energetica Bars
  81. Chocolate-Covered Katie

    I love a girl that loves cupcakes:)

    I love a girl that loves cupcakes:)

  82. Upton’s Natural’s Seitan
  83. So Delicious coconut milk egg nog (that’s right, I said egg nog mofo!)
  84. Kickstarter funded veggie cookbooks like The Lotus and the Artichoke
  85. Earwax Cafe  – the place it all began for Evan, and we are still mourning it’s loss
  86. Cocomels – sea salt are the bomb
  87. VITAMIX!!!

    The day we finally got rid of our old blender and bought a Vitamix. We had feelings.

    The day we finally got rid of our old blender and bought a Vitamix. We had feelings.

  88. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn
  89. Thai food – especially Tom Kha with Tofu NOMS!
  90. Veggie Superbowl menu planning!
  91. Bearded brother’s bars100_beard
  92. Moo Shoes
  93. Cornbread Cafe – I could curl up and live in their menu

    Cornbread Cafe in Eugene - sandwiches of the gods

    Cornbread Cafe in Eugene – sandwiches of the gods

  94. Sea vegetables on everything
  95. Babycakes cookbooks
  96. Slowly beginning to use coconut oil for literally everything
  97. Food Democracy Now
  98. Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead
  99. Bare Escentuals  – cruelty free beauty
  100. Getting to do this amazing blog for you amazing people every day – we hope you enjoy reading it even half as much as we love sharing it with you. LOVE!

Top 10 Reasons Living in Oregon is Awesome

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It’s been almost 9 months since our big move from Ames, IA to Medford, OR – and besides some fleeting moments of homesickness for our families’ cute faces, we have not looked back. After years of moving around, for once it’s become difficult to imagine ever living anywhere but in here. And here are the reasons why:

10. A few hours to everywhere

Giants game in the city or isolated in the forest is only a short drive

At first we thought we would be sad to walk away from a 3.5 drive to Minneapolis, four hour drive to Omaha, and five hour drive to Chicago. But then, as it always does, Google showed us the light:

  • Seven hours to Yosemite National Park or Seattle
  • Six hours to San Francisco, Mount Hood, or Lake Tahoe
  • Four hours to Portland
  • Three hours to Bend and Mount Bachelor
  • Two hours to Eugene
  • 90 minutes to the ocean and Redwood Forest
  • 30 minutes to the closest ski resort at Mount Ashland
  • Minutes from best snowshoeing, mountain biking, trail riding, hiking, and wine in the U.S.

9. The Pacific Ocean

Those Deadliest Catch dudes are nuts.

Commuting to visit the business owners I work with used to take me down Interstate 35 where I would then turn my wheel once onto Interstate 80 covering a territory within 5 hours. I cover the same distance now, but my commute takes me through the Redwood forest along the ocean on Highway 101. Corn vs Ocean – no contest.

8. The Redwood Forest

My brotha!

I’m fairly confident that in my other life I was a tree – something about being in the forest makes me feel at home and totally aligned in joy. If that is so, these bad boys are like my ancient ancestors. If you haven’t seen a redwood up close, prepare to add it to all of your top 10 lists of cool shit in your life.

7. The Race Scene

The hideous socks were the only way we could stand apart from the elite pack of racers. The only other way to tell is if you heard our start line conversation about strategizing the number of donuts and chips we would eat post race.

As kids grow into adults, often the superheros of our youth either disappear in cynicism and rage or evolve into either inspirational family members or our favorite public figures such as politicians, quarterbacks, or Will Ferrell in anything.  At our house, elite athletes from often obscure endurance sports like the Tour de France, cyclocross, the Ironman , and ultra-marathoning are the shiz. It wasn’t until we moved to Oregon that we realized a crazy high percentage of those peeps we admire actually live here, including Hal Kroener, twice winner of the Western States 100, who lives in the next town over and owns our community running shop. Not only are we amongst our heroes, but any day of the week if we want to run, ride, or tri with them in competition, it’s a cornucopia of options – we could do killer races every week if we wanted. Oh, and remember you are racing with a view of some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

The venue for the 1st annual Enchanted Forest Wine Run. Luckily I was injured for this one and spent my time making friends over a few bottles of wine while basking in the sun on the front lawn. Bummer.

6. Beer

2012 Southern Oregon Craft Brew Festival

While we are nestled in the middle one of the most popular and best wine regions in the world, there is also this supreme culture of home and microbreweries. Actually, I think it’s pretty close to being a state law that you cannot drink anything EXCEPT microbrews – oh, and no limit to the amount of alcohol content. Drinking beer here is like the drinking culture in Ireland …everyone’s doing it man.

5. The strange and unusual

And the best part? Someone sits in his head and talks to you through a microphone. I have so many questions…

I used to use Burger Kings and Shell stations as landmarks, now I use directions like “turn right at the Burl outlet and drive until you pass the second Sasquach carving. If you reach the Alpaca farm, you’ve gone too far.”

There are cars here that I didn’t even know are still street legal…and I’m rather confident we WILL own a Westfalia any day now. It is an Oregon right of passage.

Just when Evan and I thought we had seen it all, we pulled up to a stoplight last weekend and witnessed a BMX bike gang of dudes in their mid-forties, an obese woman riding a razor scooter, a teenager playing a guitar, and a guy dressed as Kiss properly and casually use the crosswalk all in the same field of vision. Most importantly (and I will speak to this later), everyone looked totally happy and self-assured. This. Place. Is. Awesome.

4. Playing Outdoors

Crater lake is GORGEOUS – and a few hours away.

The only way that makes sense to cross this meadow on top of Table Rock is Sound of Music, turning in slow motion with Baptist praise-jesus hands.

This one is no surprise  – I think everyone who thinks of Oregon thinks gorgeous scenery and endless things to do…but I never expected to be this overwhelmed with options for ways to play outside. We have been here almost a year and haven’t even left a six hour vicinity  – why would we need to? It’s not only the number of things to do but the people who live here, whether they are physically active or not, all seem to really enjoy and appreciate the outdoors…and that makes it feel like one, big, tree-hugging family.

Kayaking on the Rogue.

3. Friends

Housin’ vegan bar food at Standing stone

You may have seen pics of our peeps before, but our closest friends from Iowa, Sarah and Brian, were a big inspiration for us moving to Oregon. It works out great that they live in Portland and we are in Medford as the vibes are so different and each trip is a little escape. But as I’ve said, people are so chill here that everyone feels like friends, even the otherwise creepy people.

2. It’s a Vegan Mecca

Read our blog for a few days and you will see that we do NOT go hungry. Oregon, especially Portland, really is the mecca for vegan food and although we have been there dozens of times, there are always more places to try. Southern Oregon has some opportunity in this department, but at least when we tell someone we are vegan they recognize what that means and cater the best they can. In Iowa, we would either get a strange look or someone would bring us chicken with a side of mozzarella sticks with a proud look on their face.  They have a little catching up to do. (Be sure to check out our Restaurants tab as we will continue to update it as we try new places).

All vegan chinese. F yeah.

Stuffed pickled peppers at Portobello

1. Everyone is so nice. Like CRAZY nice. Crazy AWESOME nice.

There really isn’t a good way to truly articulate how serious I am when I say EVERYONE is nice. Yesterday, a homeless gentleman politely asked me if I had anything to offer so he could get a sandwich, and when I told him I only had change, he complemented me on my fashion choices and thanked me for my ‘unexpected kindness’. Whether the people drive fancy cars or are waiting at a bus stop, standing in long lines or in a hurry at the bank, look like they are from the runway or the side of the highway – EVERYONE has been kind, respectful, and giving of their time to engage in conversation. It’s not until you have experienced this kindness that you realize how it changes everything – you are happy so you treat others happy and the cycle continues.

Please come to live in Oregon. We have an extra bedroom and have become so extra nice that we probably won’t be creeped out if you want to stay. Believe me, you won’t want to leave.

P.S. Did I mention you aren’t legally allowed to pump your own gas in Oregon? Not only does it provide more jobs to keep down unemployment, it’s amazing to sit in your car on cold days and just relax. Come on – that’s REALLY awesome.

Me too babe.

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Saturday brunch: Eggless Benedict

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Brunch benedict at Portobello in Portland, OR makes me feel both happy and inadequate at the same time…much like my high school years.

Brunch is just simply wonderful. A Folger’s-esque morning of flannel PJ’s,  slow drip coffee, and reading the newspaper supine on the couch still saturated in Friday’s musk. We flip through recipes, write down ingredients, take a quick trip to the store, come home, turn on Paul Simon’s Graceland on LP, and create a masterpiece.

The one downside to brunch that people don’t tell you is that you’re f’n STARVING by the time you get around to eating, and few things make me a more unpleasant person then being hungry. Evan is like my mother and always makes sure to have snacks stashed on his person to whip out when the wrath begins to swell. Besides running for your life from a murderer, nobody has more terror in their eyes then Evan when I say I’m getting a little hungry. Terror.

An actual murder almost happened this morning as brunch wasn’t completed until after 11:00 AM, and the buck-standard signs of a spiral were taking place – beginning with heavy sighs and progressing into my uttering of dark, sarcasm laden questions like, “You know what I love Evan? Doing your laundry then seeing it still piled up on the washer.” So instead of taking beautifully staged photos of our Tofu Benny to share on the blog, Evan’s unsteady hand was desperately handing me my plate and positioning the camera with a few fingers, taking one awful picture…thus the post of the tofu benedict from our trip to Portobello in Portland a few months back. Just for your comedic viewing pleasure, I will put the picture at the bottom of the post – that way you don’t have to become ill until after you see the ingredients. You are very welcome.

TOFU BENNY (from Vegan Brunch

Ingredients:

  • English Muffins (we like Ezekiel brand)

Hollandaise Sauce

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond (alt) milk
  • 2 tbsp plus 1 tsp arrowroot
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp vegetable broth powder
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt

 Marinade

  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 tsp arrowroot
  • 1 tsp black salt
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Tomatoes

  • 6 large slices beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes
  • Smoked salt to taste (or 1 tsp liquid smoke and a sprinkle of salt)

Prepare the tofu

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Gently press the water out of the tofu then lay it on its narrow side and slice into three pieces lengthwise. Use a 3-inch cookie/biscuit cutter to cut out circles in the tofu. Marinate the tofu for at least an hour, but overnight is best. Begin to cook tofu while hollandaise sauce is cooling . Just pre-heat a cast iron pan over medium heat, coat with olive oil, and cook until golden brown on each side – about 15 minutes total.

Hollandaise Sauce

In a small pot, saute the shallot in oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes. In the meantime, mix the milk with the arrowroot in a measuring cup and stir until the arrowroot is dissolved then set aside. Add the white wine and vinegar to the shallots. Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes until the liquid has reduced to about 2 tablespoons. While it’s reducing, add turmeric and broth powder to the mixture. Once it has reduced, add the milk to the pan and lower to medium heat. Whisk consistently for 5 – 7 minutes until the sauce thickens, otherwise it will be lumpy. Once thick, add the nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and salt. The best taste is if it sits for 20 minutes, as the milk will mellow out and the flavas will marry.

Get yo stack on!

Toast the english muffins then put on the plate with tops up. Place the tomato on the english muffins and sprinkle with smoked salt. Now place the tofu on the tomato and pour the hollandaise over the top. Use your favorite herbs to garnish (we used chives).

Now eat before your girlfriend rips your face off.

Yikes. Even photoshop didn’t help this ‘masterpiece’. Tastes like heaven though.

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