Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Moving Onward and Upward

Hello, all! I am in the process of moving this blog over to WordPress. If you would like to continue reading, follow me here.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Keeping the Dream Alive

Although this blog has been part of a class project, writing about my vegetarian experiences is something I have come to thoroughly enjoy. I hope to keep this blog updated until I (hopefully) forward it on to a different host.

This week for class, I created a website about sustainability that lists different ways people can be more green on a day-to-day basis. Of course, being vegetarian was on that list! Check it out here!


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Veg on the Road Pt. 2: Kansas City, Kansas

This past week was my first back since Spring Break and I have to admit, it took a toll on me. So, to try and keep my spirits up, I have decided to write an ode to my favorite spring break eatery on my 19 hour journey from Texas to Minneapolis, Minnesota: Noodles & Company.
In case you haven't already figured it out, Fort Worth is pretty much the least vegetarian friendly place to live in, which always makes it fun to go out of town and enjoy a plethora of restaurants that have veg fare. Over the summer this past year, I made the first of many trips up to Minnesota (my best friends Brandon and Courtney are getting married there) and stumbled upon this gem of a restaurant chain while shopping in Roseville. Noodles & Company, founded in 1995 in Boulder, CO, offers noodles, salads and sandwiches with flavors and flair from all corners of the world. Their menu is broken down into three sections: Asian, Mediterranean, and American. Once you figure out which of the dishes you want, you choose the size of your dish (sizes are regular for $5.50 and small for $4.50). For an additional $2.25 you can add your protein, which for my fellow vegetarians would be the organic tofu. This is something I love, because non-organic tofu can be made from GMO (genetically modified) soy beans, which is not so great for your health.
On our way up to Minnesota, Brandon and I spotted our first Noodles & Company in Kansas City, Kansas, and were beyond stoked to eat there again. This time around, I decided to try the Indonesian Peanut Saute, described as the spiciest dish on their menu. Though I do admit it packed a lot of heat, it was nothing my Texas taste buds couldn't handle. Full of a great mix of veggies and tofu, this Asian noodle dish also contained fresh, crispy bean sprouts, which gives your tongue a break from the spicy flavors. Overall, I though the dish was pretty well-rounded in taste and nutrition.
This past month, Noodles & Company has really been boosting their street cred by using social media to create a buzz about their Mac and Cheese. Though I am lactose intolerant, I sometimes break the rules (oops) and this is one of those times a girl has to make an exception. The Wisconsin Mac and Cheese trumps any Kraft you have in a box at home, and you can get your dose of veggies by adding broccoli for only an additional 75 cents. Totally worth it.
I am dying for Noodles & Company to come to Fort Worth, but at the moment, the closest one slated to open is going to be in Austin, TX. Check out their site and follow Noodles and Company on twitter (@noodlescompany) to learn more about their history, food and more.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Veg on the Road: Abilene, Texas

Since I began blogging about my vegetarian lifestyle, I have mainly written about restaurants in the DFW area. I have turned into what some call a locavore, one who primarily eats and shops at local businesses, or eats food that was grown or made within a certain radius of their home town. It is a movement designed to decrease your carbon footprint and become a more sustainable consumer.
 However, I decided it was time to shake things up a bit and write about someplace new. I recently visited my friends Brandon and Courtney in Abilene, Texas for Abilene Christian University's big event of the year, Sing Song, and it didn't take long for them to introduce me to the local vegetarian fare.
Abilene, Texas, is a relatively small town (in comparison to DFW) and gave my friends quite some trouble finding vegetarian-friendly places to eat when they decided to first make this lifestyle change. They would constantly have to make trips home to Fort Worth to stock up on vegetarian essentials, a huge inconvenience to them since Abilene is about 2 and a half hours away. Luckily, they stumbled upon an Abilene gem: the Natural Food Center.

At first glance, the simple colors of the store front don't suggest the Natural Food Center may have anything special to offer. However, this simple store-and-restaurant offers a wide selection of vegetarian essentials, as well as a cafe side where you can order for lunch or dinner. They have a rotating menu which offers vegetarian options daily-- a surprising find in the 'Lene. 
I jumped at the chance to try something, but had a tought time deciding between the Curried Quinoa, Vegetarian Frito Pie, or the homemade Veggie Burger. Eventually I settled on the Vegetarian Frito Pie, since I had had little to no chances to try a vegetarian chili since giving up meat. I paired it with a Blue Sky Natural Orange Cream soda from a cold case in the store, which was also awesome since I have tried hard to give up products containing HFCS. Needless to say, it was delicious! The chili was a great substitute to the ones I used to eat (though it still isn't the same as having one made by Mom), and the melted cheese on top was the perfect way to top of an old favorite. 
After eating, I took to perusing the ailes of the Natural Food Center. They offered multiple types of flour, soy products, LARA bars, drinks, tofu and other things that aren't typically found at a grocery store. They also offered great vegan and natural beauty products, among them being the Nature's Gate line (which I am currenly using and LOVE). Beyond the shampoos, they had a wide selection of natural deodorants, skin care products, and oral mouthcare products. If you are looking for a guilt-free place to shop in Abilene, the Natural Food Center is the place to go, and I cannot wait til I can pay another visit to this store. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Vegan Pancakes

Before Sprouts opened off of I-20 in February, i took a trip out to Whole Foods to stock up on some necessities and decided to look for a vegan pancake mix for those Sundays I can't make it to Spiral for their brunch special. I ended up buying a bag of Organic Oat Bran Pancake and Waffle Mix from Organic Arrowhead Mills.
When I went to Abilene to visit a few friends, I brought his with me for a brunch party we decided to have and the pancakes we a hit! The batter looks a little thick initially, but once they cook up, the texture is perfect and they taste delicious. We added bananas and vegan chocolate chips to them and topped them off with some agave syrup for a filling meal. I can't wait to have them again and figure out different things to add to the mix. Check for it next time you decide you want to make a big breakfast (or have breakfast for dinner).

Fort Worth Fave: Spiral Diner

Favorites. We all have them. They are what we use to describe ourselves, characteristics that people use to distinguish you from all others. Since I began writing this blog, people regularly ask me where in Fort Worth I enjoy eating the most, and the answer is simple: Spiral.
The Spiral Diner I frequent is one of two locations and can be found on Magnolia in the Near Southside of Fort Worth, Texas. A vegan restaurant with a classic diner feel, this restaurant has a friendly staff and a menu to satisfy any taste. All dishes on the menu are 100% vegan, and owner Amy McNutt is dedicated to using quality local and organic ingredients as often as possible. Each month, Spiral offers three to four blue plate specials and a seasonal soup (my favorite of these having been the butternut fennel soup in November).
For the months February and March, my favorite of the blue plate specials was the Teriyaki Bowl. It includes teriyaki-marinated tempeh and pineapple with carrots, broccoli, bell peppers and onions, all served atop hot steamed brown rice. I could not get over this dish! I am a huge fan of Asian flavors, and I will admit that since being vegetarian I have not found a place that makes a good teriyaki dish til now.
The same day I decided to try this bowl, my friend and seasoned Spiral waitress Britney suggested I try their latest flavor of "i-scream", Salted Caramel, in their latte shake. This lovely number has salted caramel ice-cream blended with a shot of espresso and topped with dairy-free whipped topping and caramel drizzle. The salt from the i-scream brings out awesome flavors from the espresso, and since then, I have been back twice just for the shake.
For those who don't care for shakes, Spiral also specializes in vegan baked goods. These include (but aren't limited to) brownies, cookies, cupcakes, tortes, cobblers, and cinnamon rolls that are large enough for two people. They also make cakes for special occasions, such as weddings or birthdays.
Each Sunday, Spiral Diner offers a pancakes brunch special that anyone (vegan or not) must try. For $6.95, you are privy to as many vegan pancakes as you can eat and can choose between either plain or the featured pancake for the week. Top it off with warmed agave to give it that homemade touch.
If you are ever feeling adventurous, or just want some down home vegan cooking, hit up Spiral and tend to your appetite.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Starbucks: More Than My Daily Fix

Two years ago, I took a class offered at TCU and taught by Dr. Keith Whitworth on sustainability and green living. Over the course of the semester, I learned more about myself, the environment, and the ways we have a huge (and mostly negative) impact on our planet through the way we conduct our everyday routine. Our spending and shopping habits as Americans create waste at an astonishing rate: 99% of the things we purchased 6 months before are no longer in our possession, mostly from a perceived obsolescence created for us by the media.
At the time I was working in retail, a business that literally drives its sales by encouraging people to buy more of things they really don’t want— things that advertisers, the fashion industries, and businesses make us think we want— and relentlessly encouraging people to open credit cards, the likes of which have caused our economy to end up in the shambles it is in presently. The fact that I was supposed to be a cheerleader for the people who change trends and force our gently used clothes into a landfill with the introduction of seasonal fashion lines began to bother me. So I decided to do something.
I spoke to a few people about the loathing I had for my job, and my desire to work for a company that practiced active corporate social responsibility. This is what led me to Starbucks.
The Starbucks Mission Statement reads:
Our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.
Automatically, I felt this was something I could get behind. Still, living in an age where people are questioning the big business more and more about what really goes on, I was skeptical. Then I read into their corporate social responsibility efforts.
Although Starbucks is a part of the corporate sphere, they are trying as best as they know how to give back to the communities in which they do their business, both domestically and internationally. They make sure their beans are ethically sourced by participating in programs like the Starbucks™ Shared Planet™ partnership with Conservation International program. They ask partners (Starbucks employees) to contribute to their communities, and have set a goal to increase community involvement to over 1 million hours by 2015. They combine a passion for touching people on a personal and global level.
And so I came to work at Starbucks in October of 2009. After having almost been there a full year, I can say that it has truly been an enriching experience. My partners are uplifting, they are like family. The people that walk into our cafe and make it into their third place— the place they go when not at work or home— have become some of my greatest friends. My experience has brought me to this insight I hope to take with me after graduating from TCU: If you can find a company that believes in the things you believe in, then that’s just perfect.

Below is a video about just one of the many contributions Starbucks makes to the global community and is a big reason I decided to work for a company that shares my beliefs.