Thursday, April 29, 2010

Violently Chocolately

The weather sucks and I've been having mean chocolate cravings all day, so I decided to fight fire with fire.
My baking supplies are a little sparse right now, but this Brownie Recipe from Fitness Magazine is pretty simple, so I fired up the Kitchen Aid and whipped up a batch. It calls for 4 tablespoons of butter, so you could sub Earth Balance or Smart Balance Light if you want vegan brownies. I also used about 4X the chocolate chips the recipe called for...
I baked it for 18 minutes, and the middle was still gooey, but I like it that way. Here's what I got:

With my ooey gooey piece out of the middle. Seriously, I don't know what I even bother to bake stuff sometimes. I got really insane and devoured it with a scoop of Soy Dream chocolate fudge brownie.

The verdict?

Oh. My. Gosh.

A big, gooey bowl of chocolatey amazingness with more chocolate on top.

And I feel like I won't want chocolate for a week. Take that craving!

But soooo good.

The Very Hungry Kellapillar

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cake Fight!

This is what happens when I don't pay enough attention to my husband. I brought some cake home from work, and Sam kept trying to get me to watch some CollegeHumor videos with him and I wanted to mess around on my computer, so he grabbed a handful of cake and smeared it all over my face!
I couldn't have that, so I pulled a big glob off my face and smeared it all over his. Eventually, it turned into this:
Kinda looks like we've been playing in a sewer.

I still have frosting up my nose.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I'm finished. No more tests, no more tuition or textbook bills, no more jumping through hoops. Four years of non-stop working my tail off and I'm finally graduating!
Granted, a BS in English isn't the most prestigious degree, and no one is going to be banging my door down for me to analyze Tennyson or Joyce for them, but at this point rest means more to me than money.
So I'm sticking with my job in childcare so I can hopefully get a promotion. That way, I'll be bringing in decent income from a job I love while I try to get my writing career off the ground.
I've reached another landmark this week, which really can't be measured or displayed like a diploma, but I feel it's just as significant.
This morning, my jeans were a little tight, so I got the little orange measuring tape from under the bathroom sink.
The difference is, this time I didn't freak out when I saw I've gained a 1/2" in my thighs. I got rid of my scale long ago, but that measuring tape still lurked under the sink for whenever I felt masochistic. So what did I do?
I threw it in the trash, put on some comfier clothes, and sat down to read Fablehaven. I was much more concerned with the Sphinx's plot to open Zzyxx than my thighs. A few years ago, I would have cried and downed a pint of something cold and creamy and/or planned a new diet and exercise program to start tomorrow. When I'd fall off that wagon, I'd gain more weight and wash, rinse, repeat.
I've struggled with weight and body image all my life, but especially since my eating disorder in junior high, when I existed on 600-700 calories a day and lost forty pounds in three months. I've yo-yoed between 130 and 185 since then, but now I'm right in the middle, about 155 or so on my 5'8" frame, which the books say is healthy but feels a little uncomfortable, but I'm not stressin'. I've been working with Intuitive Eating for the past year and a half or so, and I only feel that I've really made progress in the last two months while I've been experimenting with a more plant-based diet. I can hear my body signals so much easier, I naturally choose healthier foods and I've been exercising because I want to. In the last two weeks, I've even been eating less because I've been less hungry. I think my body is ready to let go of a little extra weight. Either way, I'm fine. If I lose, great. If not, that's ok too. If I gain, no biggie. I'll just have to buy bigger pants and everything else in my life will stay exactly the same. Weight gain isn't the apocalyptic event it used to be.
I think I'm finally free of disordered eating and body image. I'm seeing myself clearly for the first time, and I can honestly say I love my body, flaws and all.
To me, this is just as valuable as graduating from college.

No if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to Fablehaven.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sleepy Sunday post.

I hope everyone out in the blogoshpere is enjoying wonderful weather this weekend! I haven't seen a cloud in days and flowers are popping up all over the place, tree branches are weighed down with blossoms, and little birds are hopping around with beakfuls of twigs to build their nests. This was one nasty winter, and I'm soooo glad it's over!
No recipes today, but thought I'd leave you with a few silly Louka pictures and a survey question.

We know who wears the pants in the family.

I was working at my desk, and she just hopped up and wedged herself right in. Of all places.

Today's topic: Comfort Food

Are you totally free of emotional eating, or do you have a favorite comfort food? I think it's funny how different people have totally different foods. I love sweet things like my chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and the chocolate/peanut butter combo always works. Notice all the peanut butter cups and thumbprint cookies and stuff all over my blog.
Sam, on the other hand, likes meaty stuff like pepperoni pizzas and bacon burgers.
Do you think emotional eating is always bad, or is it ok sometimes? I think a good cookie can brighten any day, but constant emotional eating isn't the best thing for obvious reasons. Do you struggle with this? How do you keep your hands out of the cookie jar every time you have a rotten day?

Nap time.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Almost done!

I graduate one week from tomorrow! Four years of working my tail off and I'm finally getting my BS in English Creative Writing! I'm staying with my current job for the summer and I'm going to try to get my novel published, so life is good and let's see how everything works out, huh?
So here are some of the culinary adventures I've been up to, in no particular order:

Green smoothie making in my new Blendtec! This one is banana, papaya, and kale with a little almond milk.

More creative lunches. This is seitan with barbacue sauce (Amber Shea, avert your eyes!) and a salad topped with homemade baked kale chips! When I first made the seitan, I thought the texture was a little weird, but I found it gets lots better after it sits in the fridge overnight or even for a few days.

Chocolate peanut butter thumbprint cookies, to feed my pb and chocolate addiction. I found these on Pursuing Balance, so go say hi to Meredith and pick up this yummy recipe!

Banana softserve, courtesy of my Blendie. I got a huge case of overripe bananas from work, so I peeled them all and stuck them in two plastic ice cream buckets in my freezer, so I just pull a few out and blend whenever I want ice cream! I usually mix it with cocoa powder, but it's more photogenic this way.

Congratulations to any other students for finishing another semester, and double hooray's if you're graduating.


PS- Louka, my kitty is curled up next to me asleep, and she's snorting like a little piglet! I've never heard a cat do that.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Lazy Treats and Fake Foods

I've seen recipes for homemade Reese's cups, and because Reese's are so dear to my heart, I tried them. Then I got lazy and started skipping steps, and eventually, this is what I came up with.

Kella's Lazy PB Cups:

Fill some muffin cups or a silicone muffin tin about 1/4 full of chocolate chips.

Nuke for 1 minute. When they come out all melty and delicious, add a dollop of peanut butter to each cup, like so:

Stick 'em in the freezer and wait. This is the hardest part. In about twenty minutes, you have some chilled, chocolate and peanut buttery disks. Not Reese's, but something amazing in their own right. Takes care of that chocolate-peanut-butter craving.


Next Topic: Fake Food

As I wandered the grocery aisles yesterday, I got a little sidetracked reading labels of some horrendous, "health foods" filled with artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated oils, dyes and preservatives, HFCS, artificial flavors, etc. The only reason they were toted as "healthy" was because they were low in fat and calories. People! Low calorie and fat content does not equal healthy! Breakfast cereals, nutrition bars, drinks, packaged snacks, diet desserts, it's everywhere!
It makes me sad, but I think people get so wrapped up in society's body ideals and dieting that they completely ignore what they learned in 4th grade health class-eat your veggies, food is fuel, eat a variety- and focus only on the top two numbers on the nutrition label. Anything goes as long as it's low-cal. I'm guilty too; I've gone through a sugar-free pancake syrup phase and I've choked down more than one meal-replacement bar. It's tempting, with sites like Hungry Girl, creating low-fat low-cal low-food versions of popular foods, usually filled with sugar-free puddings, diet cheese and cake mixes.
Listen to your body. You'll get much more benefit from a handful of almonds than a HFCS laden granola bar. Real maple syrup is healthier and more satisfying that sucralose-filled sugar free syrup.

Also, fake food hides under another veil:
I've read tons of books and articles about switching to a plant-based diet, but quit reading as soon as they recommended stocking up on soy deli slices, chik'n nuggets, dairy-free cheese, and Fakin Bakin. Why do we have to replace these products, when so many foods are naturally vegan and far more nutritious?
If you're cutting back on animal products, do yourself a favor and ditch the Tofurky and stock up on fruits and veggies, whole grains, legumes, and raw nuts. Focus on adding in healthy foods instead of subtracting other foods and replacing them with half-rate substitutions. Instead of not-meat or un-meat, call it seitan, or nut pate. Call it what it is, because truly nutritious foods deserves to be enjoyed in it's own right, and not be compared so something else.

Eat real food, be real healthy.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Move over Lunchables!

Remember those nasty things? In Elementary, the cafeteria introduced their own version of Lunchables complete with cold cuts, crackers and dried-out veggie sticks. I tried one to be cool once...I'll take greasy cafeteria food any day.
But don't worry, I've got you covered for lunch, with not one, but TWO yummy recipes I threw together in the name of using up leftovers.
For fun, I decided to try Chocolate Covered Katie's Chopstick Challenge. I bought a bunch of fun chopsticks in China last summer, so I eat with them all the time, but I'm always up for a challenge.
Here we go:

Recipe #1: Orange-cashew seitan

1/2 daikon, cut into matchsticks
1 C chopped cabbage (or bok choy if you really want to get fancy)
1 T sesame oil
1/4 C water or broth
1/2 small can mandarin oranges, drained
2 T orange juice
2 T soy sauce
1 t apple cider vinegar
2 T minced chives
6 oz seitan, cubed (this is a guestimate. I just threw in a big cutlet. Also, feel free to omit or use tofu if you don't do gluten.)
1/4 C cashews

Saute the daikon and cabbage in the sesame oil until tender. Add all other ingredients and stir-fry until mixed and heated through. Eat by itself or on a cooked grain. I put mine on millet.
Eat with chopsticks! (note: millet is not the easiest thing to eat with chopsticks!) Serves 2

Recipe #2 Hash-brown tofu scramble

1/4 chopped onion
1/2 chopped bell pepper
1 small potato, grated, thinly sliced, or cut into matchsticks
handful of spinach
4 oz. firm tofu
1/2 tomato
3 T snipped chives
1 T nooch
salt, pepper, tumeric, and cumin to taste
Salsa and diced avocado for topping

Spray a skillet and cook the onion, pepper, and potato until tender. Add the tomato, tofu, and spinach. Add chives, nooch, and spices. Stir until everything is cooked and the tomatoes start to get saucy. Top with avocado and salsa, then devour. This one is more chopstick-friendly.
Serves 1 if you're hungry, 2 if you're willing to share.

Stay tuned for dessert!


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Meant to be?

About an hour after posting yesterday's "To run or not to run", I check my mailbox and found a letter from a group called Team in Training, a group that participates in athletic events like marathons and adventure hikes to raise money for blood cancer research. I've been looking for a way to volunteer or do SOMETHING for someone else, and I don't think it was coincidence that this ended up in my mailbox the day I decided I want to make running a part of my life. I RSVPed to the information meeting in three weeks, and until then I'll work on running to see if this is something I can do. Can I really run a half-marathon by the end of October?
Maybe helping people with leukemia will give me the push I need. I guess if I'm not up for the half-marathon, I can do an adventure hike. I'm a decent hiker already and if I can hike eight hours through the bamboo jungles of China, I can hike through Zion National Park.
Thoughts anyone? Am I going overboard? This feels right to me.
I got up early to go for a short run this morning before class. I was out for about thirty minutes, and I ran most of the first half and power-walked the uphill ending. I felt great when I got home, and I love that rosy-cheeked feeling. I want to make this a habit.

Have an awesome Thursday.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

To run or not to run?

"I don't run unless something's chasing me; and even then I prefer to hide,"
That's been my running motto most of my life. My nickname in school was 'slowpoke', my gym teacher made us run laps if we showed up late and the longest I've even run at once is a mile. I've done that twice in my whole life.
I read a lot of health and fitness blogs, and people seem to like running. What is this elusive "runner's high"? I've never understood.
I'm curious though, and I've decided to try running. I've actually run a little bit for two mornings in a row, which is the most I'v ever done! (Yes, I know how pathetic that is) You know what? It was actually fun! I woke up to a foot of snow though, so I was stuck in the indoor track, but I ran anyway, or tried to. I ran off and an for about a half hour both days. I've been skimping on cardio lately so it was harder than it should have been, but I really liked it, and I'm looking forward to running outside as soon as the ice melts.
I notice sometimes that running sounds really good when I'm angry or wired. Maybe there is a runner in me.



Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Say it ain't seitan...

I'd never heard of seitan until I started reading vegan blogs, but I looked it up, and I get some vegetarians avoid it on principal because it's too "meaty" tasting. My curiosity was piqued.
So I ran down to a local store that specializes in emergency food storage and bought a carton of vital wheat gluten.
I found a few different recipes online, so I decided to try a chicken-style version and a pepperoni version you bake in the oven.
I mixed the gluten with the spices, broth and soy sauce. I can't remember the last time I followed a recipe to the letter, but I figured I'd better learn to do this right before I play with it. So here's what I got:

I love kneading this stuff, it's stretchy and globby. Mom, you should have taught me not to play with my food!
So I separated it into two blobs, and I made 3 sausage shapes with one section and rolled it up into tin foil and popped it in the oven at 350 for 75 minutes, like an obedient little cook. I separated the other half into four cutlets and boiled it in chicken-flavored broth with some onion and ginger for an hour.
It poofed up pretty far, so I had to switch the biggest pan I own. After an hour, I had this:

They looked like they were 'sposed to, but they were still pretty spongey, so I threw them on the griddle for a few minutes to let some of the broth cook out.

They firmed up a bit and I sawed off a little piece to taste. Really interesting. Too salty, so I'll probably leave the soy sauce out next time, but they texture was better. I boxed them up and threw them in the fridge and once they cooled, they had firmed up.
The pepperonis? I opened the oven and laughed.

They escaped!

So what do I think of this stuff? I honestly don't know. I might play with the recipe a little more, but I'm not jumping for joy or anything. Also, I had some tummy troubles after eating about half a cutlet for lunch. I've never had trouble digesting wheat products, but straight-up gluten might be a little rough.

What do you guys think of seitan? Does anyone have a really good recipe or any tricks?

Have an awesome Tuesday,

The Kellapillar.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Snack bombs

I love peanut butter, and I love snacks. When I know I have a butt-kicking busy week ahead, I whip up a batch of these babies for quicks snacks or meals. They're little, but don't underestimate them. These little guys pack an energy punch and they're delicious!

It's more of an idea than a recipe. Basically you start with oats and a few other dry ingredients.

Here's the oats, flaked coconut, raisins, sunflower seeds, and ground flaxseed. Use any kind of seed or chopped nut, dried fruit, and chocolate chips.

Then add enough nut butter to make everything stick and sweetener to taste if you want it sweet. You could probably do a savory snack bomb, but I always go for sweet.

So add your nut butter of choice:

Check. I like the original Adam's because it's just peanuts and salt, and after you stir it's all soupy and creamy on top, but there's still a bit of thicker stuff on the bottom to be eaten with a spoon.

I added a little agave and a stevia packet, then I decided I wanted some cinnamon too.

Then mix it all up and drop spoonfuls onto squares of tin foil or plastic wrap.

Now bundle them up and throw 'em in the fridge, and you have a yummy snack to grab on your way to the class you almost slept through. These snack bombs are gluten-free, 100% vegan and can easily be "rawified", so they work for everyone!

And now for the goofy pet picture of the day:

Ruby has free reign of the top of the bookshelf she sits on, and her favorite place to hang out these days is in the ugly bowl I made in a high school ceramics class. I fill her cage with nice, soft bedding and she wants to sit in a cold, hard bowl. Go figure.
So cute though.

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter!


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

I might do a real post later, but for now, enjoy your chocolate!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

My body hates me right now.

Though I am sprawled on the couch feeling a little sick (Burger, fries, ice cream) I think this is a step in the right direction. I knew animal products didn't make me feel great, but after eating so much wonderful plant food and then stuffing myself with garbage, my body is screaming "You are suck a JERK!"
I'm ready to jump back on the healthy train.
Sam and I just decided that if we could go for a whole month without eating out, we'd indulge in one nice restaurant meal. Eating out is killing our bodies and our bank account, so I think I'd rather do without it for awhile.
I want my tummy ache to go away:( More carrots please.

A very sad, sick Kellapillar.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Dinner and a show (and by show, I mean a rant)

I'm off work until Tuesday because the school's out for Easter Break (one of the many perks of working in a school) so Sam and I had an "adventure day". We went to see How to Train Your Dragon, which I loved. The dragon was adorable; like a kitty and a puppy and a bat all rolled into one.
For dinner, we hit up one of my favorite restaurants, Jasoh Prime and Pub. I love it because everything is made fresh; the bread, the salad dressing, everything! The restaurant's split into two parts: fine dining and the 'pub'. We sat on the indoor patio of the pub side with a lovely view of Historic 25th Street (if you don't mind telephone wires)

I ordered the pear and goat cheese salad because it always looked amazing and I've been dying to try it for months. It didn't disappoint:
Mixed greens, d'anjou pears, pistachios, and few pieces of goat cheese tossed with homemade sherry vinagrette. Yummy! It filled me right up, and I enjoyed it with a piece of bread dipped in olive oil and pomegranate-infused balsamic. They offer the bread and dipping oils free of charge if you ask.
Sam ordered the Picasso burger, which is a build-your-own burger dish with gourmet toppings like sun-dried tomatoes and sauteed mushrooms. I stole most of his sweet frittes, which are thin-cut sweet potato fries. They have a really good veggie burger. This place is seriously amazing and the service is wonderful.
Husband did not want his picture taken.
That's better.

Next topic: Something that makes me very, very sad and very angry.


Did you know this word comes from the Latin word for "to die"? I think there's a reason for that.
I see so many amazing people, who were blessed with incredible talents using so much of their precious time and brain space worrying about how they look and pushing themselves through grueling workouts and eating 1000 calories a day. It really upsets me, because I know what it's like to spend less time doing things I love so I can count calories, plan menus, feel like crap, etc. I know how it feels to eat lettuce and vinegar for lunch while getting up at five in the morning to work out and never see the scale budge. I've had otherwise perfect days ruined by a stupid number on the scale. I've hated myself, my body, moaned about my round hips and thick legs and soft triceps when I could have been enjoying my life. I've wasted vacations hiding in a car or hotel counting calories from restaurant meals and planning an attack plan for when I get back.

I've wasted too much of my life.

The ironic thing is, I once lost 50 pounds effortlessly because I didn't worry about it. Life was more exciting than food, and I only thought about food when I was hungry. As soon as I started obsessing about food again, I gained 20 pounds. Strange huh?

I believe that by treating your body well and not subjecting it to the mental and physical stress of dieting, it will find it's healthy size. Easier said than done; and believe me, sometimes dieting is a lot easier, but our bodies are smart. Throw away the scale, the meal replacement shakes, the dieting books and pills, all that garbage and listen to your body. It will always tell you what it needs, and by working with it and giving it the respect it deserves, weight problems will take care of themselves.

If anyone reading this is struggling with dieting or weight issues, I strongly recommend the books Intuitive Eating by Elysse Resch and Evelyn Tribole. Check out blogs like Beautiful You and Healthy Girl. Wear flattering clothes that fit, move your body in a way you enjoy, eat food that feels good in your body and don't apologize to anyone for not fitting into some cookie cutter idea of beauty. I can't stress this enough.

Diets don't work; and they can destroy you. Do yourself a favor and swear off dieting. You'll never regret it.