First off I wish I could take the credit for these beautiful tofu steaks. They’re essentially blocks of tofu marinated in something like an “Emeril’s Original Essence” and then I bake them for about 20-25 minutes in the stove or about 10-15 in our toaster oven. However, they are a “deli” delight from a local whole foods type store called Rollin’ Oats and they are a wonderful store with amazing and awesome employees and owners. If you’re local to St. Pete or Tampa I highly recommend visiting them!

Anywho they are the focus protein of my beautiful little meal but kale is the Rockstar. Chef Tal Ronnen is an amazing vegan chef and inventor (gardein & Kite Hill) and wrote a beautiful and delectable cookbook called The Conscious Cook. I highly disagree with a simple 4 star review of his book though, I would say it is 5 stars all the way. Some very challenging and gourmet recipes but most I feel any vegan could make.

He has a braised kale recipe which I sort of altered to make my own. I always use Lacinato, or dinosaur kale, as I prefer the texture to “curly” kale. I take a full bunch of organic Dino kale and about 1 cup of Not Chick’n Broth (lower sodium) and I cook it on fairly high heat with the lid of my pot on in order to steam and soften the leaves. When I see it is starting to wilt I add nutritional yeast. And when
I say I add it I ADD as much as it takes to make the sauce creamy. Sometimes that’s a cup sometimes two. Remember for vegans it’s a GREAT source of B vitamins. Just 2 tbsp give you a daily source and let’s be honest it tastes pretty awesome!!

So once my tofu is cooked and my kale done I top it off with a couple of caper berries courtesy of the “olive bar” at my local Whole Foods.

Easy and super fast meal and it seems pretty gourmet with the beauty of the caper berries on top!

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I don’t know about y’all but are you as addicted to Pinterest as I am?!?!

There have been some beautiful photos of heirloom tomatoes and being a lover of a good tomato, you know I had to hit up my local Whole Foods and check for some lovely organic heirlooms. They did not disappoint.

As a vegan people think we can’t have pimp breakfasts or awesome and amazing meals because we can’t eat dead animals. Well I have to say why eat something dead when you can eat something vibrant and dripping with ripe goodness?!

I pimped my breakfasts for a few days and got my everything bagel topped with some Go Veggie cream cheese with garlic and chives and then some fresh chives and finally a beautiful heirloom tomato with a sprinkle of Pink Himalayan Sea Salt and a dash of fresh ground pepper.

If you haven’t indulged yet get them while they last!! What’s your favorite tomato? I think green heirlooms are mine!!

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Well you guys know me as Marti or Martina depending on when in life you met me. Martina for PD or Pre-Dave or Marti for AD as in After Dave.

I am a bit odd, have a wickedly strange sense of humor (this illustrates me perfectly!)

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and I am a woman who prides herself in being a contradiction in terms.

Since having my beautiful daughter Ellie on 6/25/13 my life could not be more different. I’ve always been into tattoos, piercings and rock music so a vegan lifestyle wasn’t much farther to stretch as many of those who are vegans are already tattooed rockers! (And I think that’s all awesome!!) But I also first and foremost love Jesus. I am totally and ridiculously in love with Jesus. He is pretty much the awesome-est ness of my life. I am nothing without His love. So for many “religious” people I don’t look like a typical Jesus freak per se but I guess I am not anything typical.

The Jesus I know, love and follow is a lover. He is a lover of this planet and ALL of it’s people. Fundamentally speaking I believe in Jesus, His death and resurrection as well as the Father and the Holy Spirit who lives and breathes in all believers. I believe in miracles, in passionate love for our fellow man and in life abundant. My church and family are the most amazing people I know they’ve loved me into wholeness without allowing me to keep the dysfunctions that held me back.

So Jesus is #1. These two are my number 2:

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That’s my totally handsome and wickedly funny best friend and hubby Dave and my beautiful girl Ellie

As I said my life totally changed when she was born. No, I take it back, before she was born it totally changed. When I got pregnant I became this green and crunchy hippy that I never knew existed. I did a home water birth without any drugs and breastfed exclusively for the first year. Now we eat loads of yummie organic foods together and she still breastfeeds up to 6 times a day if she needs me. I also went from a drug toting gal to being all homeopathic and we use EO’s and homeopathic medicines instead of “drugs.” So I don’t take Advil, Aleve, Tylenol even. They, being everyone, told me “oh you can take Tylenol while you’re pregnant” I said nah…I’ll pass.

So crunchy green mama me emerged.

I also finished a back piece since becoming a mom, re-pierced my nose and am planning my eyebrow to be done as well as a large arm (upper) piece to represent my daughter.

I have struggled in my walk thinking that God doesn’t hear me or love me. But then look back on my dreams, and His promises fulfilled: I got my VW Tiguan with the exact colors and features I wanted (thank you Lord!) and I got to be a full time stay at home mom. So I know that despite the struggles, God is good and He loves me.

I have become even closer to some friends, I LOVE you Stacey, Amy, Lauren & Sarah, and drifted away from those who I thought would support me in my transition to motherhood.

I have moved from the house we birthed Ellie in, to a townhouse in a true family neighborhood.

And I’ve become even more in love with veganism, and vegetables to be specific. Briefly off topic, Ellie loves beets, yellow beets to be exact, and I have found myself really liking them as well!! There are no veggies I don’t like. At least not off hand. I don’t like ANY melons. I also don’t like pears. Ellie, however, devours about a pear each day. She eats kale, spinach, garlic, hummus, spicy foods, beans, taters, and every fruit we have ever given her.

So I am a contradiction in terms of sorts. A tattooed, pierced, rocker mama who loves the “spirit of the south” in that I love the kindness and ease that is associated with it but I hate heat and humidity. I am drawn to Portland. The land of veganism, crunchy non-vax parents and hippies. That’s where this power packed Jesus worshipper wants to land! Oh and did I mention that my dream is to be a worship leader for Jesus?! So you can find me shouting His praises listening to Bethel Music with Ellie. And the same day, rocking out to Godsmack on the Elliptical machine.

Just because I “look” a certain way doesn’t mean I’m not a kind, compassionate, loving hippy on the inside. I love to read James Patterson, Bill Johnson, Danny Silk (who writes THE best books on parenting & relationships,) Banning Liebshcher, Kris Vallotton and more. I also love me some killer rock music: old stuff like Tool & AC/DC, Metallica, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, and newer rock like Three Days Grace, The Pretty Reckless, Godsmack, Rob Zombie, Linkin Park…

Then you’ll also catch me blaring Keith Urban, Rascall Flats, The Zac Brown Band, Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, The Band Perry, Lady Antebellum and more. And on occasion I’ll rock out some pop…mostly dance or techno since it’s good to blast driving alone or at the gym on the elliptical.

So in essence I love Jesus, Dave, Ellie, my friends, my kitties, pitbulls (which I intend to adopt some oldies sooner rather than later), tattoos, rock and country and all things beautiful. Peonies, pink, tulle and being a girl. Cold weather days and snuggles under a warm blanket nights, sweater (or in my case hoodie) weather, gloves, boots and jeans that fit just right. I love a Florida spring day and the feeling of falling asleep in the August sun. I love Portland and rain showers, Hunter boots and puddles. I love the teachings of my amazing Pastor Terri Dieter, Bill Johnson, Kris Vallotton, Steve Hale, Scott Thompson and Todd White. I love Bethel Church and Music and what they’ve done to advance God’s kingdom. I love rock and country and dancing. I love Jenn Johnson, the way she worships and her powerful voice. I love my British husband and family, my dual citizen Ellie Grace. I love my baby’s smiles and giggles and how she lights up every room she enters. Because her name means “beautiful woman, bringer of light” and she does bring light wherever she goes. I love that I’m not like anyone I know but I can relate to a lot of people. I love that I am weird and unique and a wife, mother, daughter and friend. I love being vegan and not doing harm to animals in living the lifestyle I have chosen. I love that Ellie will be raised this way. There is way too much to feel blessed about than not. I am one heck of a lucky woman and am blessed to have a beautiful healthy family and a relationship with God. I. Am. Truly. Blessed.

Sorry folks no exciting food chat here!! Just a bit about what makes me fun and makes me uniquely me.

Now, about me and my “bad movie” choices. My husband and one of my besties, Amy, told me that I have horrible choices in movies. Let me first preface this with I am vegan, I value life, human and animal and take no pleasure in seeing the pain of this world as God never intended us to be full of this much pain. Now, I LOVE what we have affectionately begun calling “MDK” or murder, death, kill movies. To me, some classics are Kiss the Girls, Along Came a Spider, (yes I love the Alex Cross series by James Patterson…I devour those books,) ANY and all Die Hard movies, The Expendables franchise as well as the Machete franchise. I like cop shows (Flashpoint, Blue Bloods, Criminal Minds, Rookie Blue) and stuff like The Fall, The Killing, Durham County, Medium, etc. I swear I’m a normal human though as I have binge watched both Lost & Grey’s Anatomy this year the entire series (and Grey’s to current.) But I don’t typically like what I feel “artsy fartsy” movies. For example I HATED Black Swan. I found it depressing and sad and plain old stupid and weird. But ANY movie listed above I would watch a hundred times over.

Not to mention my favorite all time movie Armageddon. Yes I saw it because of Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck originally but I LOVE Michael Bay films as well. I love that movie SO much that I know most every line. I watch it at least once a year if not more.

I told my hubby that it’s not so much that I don’t like critically acclaimed movies as I don’t like to have to think when watching a film or TV. Heck Alfred Hitchcock had some amazing and horrifying films. I love those. But give me Murder She Wrote, Perry Mason or Matlock as a kid and I was in heaven. I like happy endings all tied up with a bow. I like my heroine and hero to have their happy ending and the bad guy to get what’s coming. Call me simple but if I want to think or be challenged I read.

James Patterson is my go to guy for books to read at the gym. Because I can read about 1 book every week and be enthralled while I work out. I save my thinking books by authors like Bill Johnson, Kris Vallotton, Oswald Chambers, C.S. Lewis, etc for home reading. But I believe TV and movies are for entertainment. So entertain me!!

When I reviewed the Earth Balance Mac n Cheese I said I had a bad movie to watch. Well I personally loved it and will likely watch it again but my hubby would have hated it. I watched “Redemption” with Jason Statham. And I enjoy him (visually and his acting) and have seen nearly all of his movies since seeing him in the first Expendables movie.

Redemption was the perfect Mac n Cheese, night alone and “me time” film. Perfect happy ending all tied up with a pretty bow. All I needed to be happy!!

Do you love artsy fartsy films or are you a bad movie buff too??

Oh Earth Balance why do you make me love you so very much?!

What’s a better night then a night at home to watch crappy movies (well good movies in my opinion, however, the movie review will secede the product review,) eat some vegan and cruelty free Mac n Cheese and have a beer or two?! Not to mention a night alone. And by alone I of course mean a sleeping baby upstairs, and four cats sprawled out on my lap.

So as any good vegan mama would do I tucked in my precious girl and headed downstairs to make some nommie Mac n Cheese brought to vegans and lactose intolerant worldwide by the lovely folks at Earth Balance. (Who may I add make my favorite “butter,” and I have officially switched to their “mayo” after a CRAZY sale price offer I couldn’t refuse and now they make my favorite Mac n Cheese!!!) I popped open a Kona Golden Ale which is also made lovingly vegan. And may I add a super light and slightly sweet perfect summer time beer! Then I set to work on my Mac n Cheese.

First off it is AS easy to make as that blue box junk made by the non-vegan company (who I really hate now with their “kale is nasty and needs fatty death laden ranch dressing to taste good campaign” Kale is my favorite veggie. Who needs nasty ranch on it?! But I digress.) It was box to bowl in about 20-25 mins as it took mine the full 12 minutes to cook and of course you’ve got to add time to boil in. Then you add the magical “buttery spread” and I used Whole Foods organic unsweetened almond milk as my milk. The consistency is NAILED as the Mac n Cheese I remember. The taste is super nice.

Now I’ve been vegan for 5 years so my taste buds have had a chance to reset and I don’t really even eat cheese except the occasional Daiya grilled cheese when I need comfort food and my monthly treat of Kite Hill White Alder which I would eat every single day by the pound if it weren’t for the price, which this stay at home mama can’t swing! SO for me to love this stuff says a lot. I love Daiya melted on a pizza every now and then or a grilled cheese, like I mentioned but I don’t “crave” cheese.

This Mac n Cheese may have changed ALL that. Wow is it a tasty treat and the $2.99/box price tag was a gasp for me as I expected it to cost far more. So for creamy, dreamy, Mac n cheesy look no further. I have only tried the white cheddar as the regular was out but I will review the regular once I’ve had it.

I tasted a few spoonfuls of it in the “natural” state then kicked it up a bit more gourmet and added about 1/8 cup Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce and two Dorot Garlic cubes and I had some killer Marti-style Mac n Cheese!!!! Which ironically made the color look super similar to that non-vegan brand!

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The “sausage” next to it is one of my favorite treats and is Tofurky Italian Sausage with sundried tomato Truly delish. And I always dip my sausage in Koops Horseradish Mustard

This dinner proved to be every bit worth the wait for my solo night.

Dear owners of Kite Hill Nut Milk Cheeses,

Can I please have you adopt me as your own? I realize this could be an inconvenience as I am married and have a baby and 4 cats but you happen to make THE most delicious Brie like cheese I have ever eaten.

I haven’t had Brie in at least 4 years since I became vegan. Even when I ate cheese it was maybe 2-3 times a year that I would treat myself to it. But I spent the $13.99 for the little wheel of White Alder and had great anticipation.

To say I LOVE your cheese is an understatement. I LOVE this cheese. It’s like crack, and no I haven’t ever had it but it’s like really good sex, shoot I don’t want to get obscene but I can’t tell you in appropriate words how much I love this cheese.

I actually allow myself one wheel per month lol. The first week of every month I buy myself some at Whole Foods. I allow myself to indulge and I eat it on the original Ezekial Bread (the orange loaf) with a light spread of Earth Balance Buttery Spread and a light spread of White Alder. Then I add on the side 4 pieces of LightLife Smart Bacon and I could literally go to heaven in a bite.

I am not sure how you have nailed the texture of the “outer crust” of the dairy brie, but you did. I’m not sure how you made the middle creamy and soft and slightly sticky like dairy Brie, but you did.

I am not sure how you have created a vegan masterpiece or why you can’t make it multiply when I open my fridge to find one more packet but I love your cheese. I do. If I could marry a cheese this would be “the one.” My cheesy soul mate.

This is the cheese that you “wait” until you get married for. Daiya is the good time cheese, the trusty one. The one you bring home to meet your parents. But Kite Hill White Alder Cheese…you ARE Prince Charming. White horse, Ferrari, mansion, pool, piles of money…satin sheets…yes. You ARE the one.

So, in closing, would you be MINE and mine alone? Seduce me with your slightly savory, oh so creamy, perfectly textured amazingly flavored cheese. Never leave me. Just promise you can stay. Forever. Oh how I love you!

xxxx

Please know, Kite Hill has in no way paid me to stalk, endorse or love them the way I do. I’m just obsessed. And please don’t get a restraining order. Because I can’t love without this cheese!!!

My cruddy iPhone pics of Kite Hill’s beautifully designed package:

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So for my baby shower, I really wanted to keep everything vegan and let my friends and family enjoy some genuinely good vegan treats. Gigi’s Cupcakes in Tampa is very well known for their delicious cupcakes. Back in January I called to ask if they had any vegan options. Thankfully they did!! They said as long as I gave them a few days’ notice they could do vegan cupcakes. So we set up a cupcake tasting.

First of all, let me say that I had done a tasting at another Tampa bakery which promised me they would provide me vegan options and then delivered cakes to taste with dairy in them. Needless to say I was ill for several hours afterward. I didn’t want to get sick or waste my time at Gigi’s so I called them before the tasting to tell them about my other experience and make sure they knew what “vegan” was. Stacey and Jessica told me that they had almond milk, soy milk, Tofutti cream cheese and vegan butters. They had it DOWN! I was thrilled.

Now what Gigi’s is known for is the delicious cupcakes they have…but they are also BEAUTIFUL. I was thrilled to go to the tasting!

They prepared vanilla and chocolate cupcakes for us, as well as their pumpkin spice cupcake, and then we had chocolate avocado frosting as well as plain vanilla. We devoured the cupcakes (my mom, husband and I,) and my mom who NEVER likes cupcakes (she always complains how sweet they are or they are too dry, too moist, too “cakey,”) LOVED them. She said they were THE best cupcakes she had ever had. And that they were much better than any vegan cupcakes I had made. (well plfffff to her!) But I definitely agreed. We then were chatting about different frosting flavors and Jessica overheard us and asked if we wanted her to make us any other frostings. On the spot she made us lemon and raspberry! BOTH were phenomenal. But for a pregnant woman, citrus cravings are crazy, so I was obsessing over the lemon!

When the ladies asked us what we thought we said we’re ready to order! They did chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, and then we had the chocolate with chocolate avocado frosting, raspberry frosting as well as chocolate hazelnut butter frosting (made with Justin’s Nut Butter – which is vegan. And another side note on the hazelnut is that Gigi’s didn’t have any Justin’s to use, so they let me bring them a tub of Justin’s Hazelnut Butter and they used it since it is vegan, instead of Nutella! I was thrilled just because they were going the distance to make a very happy customer! ) We also had vanilla cupcakes with: lemon frosting, raspberry frosting, their signature “Wedding Cake” frosting which is just white frosting with pink sprinkles and it is SO pretty, their signature “Birthday cake” frosting which was pink with circle sprinkles (since it was a shower to celebrate my soon to be born baby girl!)

Now let me tell you, we decided to order the mini cupcakes, which you order by the dozen. So we had 7 dozen cupcakes lol. They package them in these great boxes, that hold them very still and we had GIANT boxes of cupcakes to take with us when we finally picked them up a few months later. My shower ended up having about 30 people…and 84 cupcakes…not quite 3 per person, but hey. So we had 0 cupcakes left. EVERYONE loved the cupcakes. The lemon & chocolate avocado were two of the favorites. Raspberry was a close 2nd to the chocolate avocado. We were absolutely thrilled at these gorgeous cupcakes and Gigi’s attentiveness to their perfection! I told Stacey that we will DEFINITELY be ordering MANY more cupcakes from Gigi’s and that our daughter’s first birthday cupcakes will come from them!

So Tampabay Vegans…if you need vegan cupcakes go see the WONDERFUL girls at Gigi’s. They have vegan cupcakes DOWN!

So there was this yummie vegan breakfast sandwich on Pinterest that I found ages ago…and eat constantly now because my hubby makes it SO good!!! You take tofu and cut two slices and coat them with nutritional yeast, turmeric, garlic and then just lightly pan fry them. In between the slices you put cheese, some kind of Daiya is my preference. For Easter I used the Havarti with jalapeño in it. Mmmmmm…it is GOOD! And also in between the slices, 2 pieces of Yves Canadian “Bacon” also lightly pan fried. Smack it all together and you can put it in between two slices of toast, a pita, a bagel (as I did on Easter) and I usually just use Ezekial Bread and lightly butter the slices. Easter was “brunch” so I used a bagel and put on some “cream cheese” and chives by Galaxy Nutritional food brand. That is my favorite “cream cheese” since I have become vegan. Absolutely wonderful!!!

Dinner time was also awesome food time. We made ciabatta sandwiches with Field Roast Grain Meat Company’s Celebration Field Roast slices. Tossed a bit of Koop’s spicy horseradish mustard and Vegenaise on the ciabatta and it was miraculously delish! We had a side of pasta salad, which was made with whole grain pasta elbows, red, yellow and orange baby bell peppers, cilantro, green onions, some Vegenaise and again, Koop’s spicy horseradish mustard. I didn’t use any vinegar, but we did leave it to ‘sit/soak’ in the fridge overnight as it was and it was absolutely wonderful. My husband, who didn’t even want ‘pasta salad’ loved it. And then we had it for lunch for the next two days with different Gardein chick’n as sides. Easy, affordable and delicious!

There is something about vegans, cats and cuddles…and Daiya cheese and pizza. Amy’s Margarita with Daiya cheese was always my favorite vegan pizza ever since that came out. My default is and has always been Amy’s Roasted Veggie pizza…no cheese.

My hubby went to the theatre with my Mom because I can’t sit still that long anymore and because I am 33 weeks pregnant and it is super uncomfortable for me. So I was left to my own devices for a few hours and had to get dinner, and have a fun Sunday night. I went to Earth Origins, because they are the closest store that has multiple vegan options for dinner. I intended to get a yummie kale type salad fresh from their ‘fresh bar’ but they had already started putting that all away, and there was really only frozen options available. I started at the far end of the cooler, and saw a “Vegan Harvest Flatbread Pizza.” I thought hmmmm…what is this?! I didn’t know anyone but Amy’s and Tofurkey made vegan pizza!!! YAY!! Who is excited now?! This flatbread pizza seemed pretty plain, with herbs and spices in a tomato/marinara sauce and topped with Daiya. The entire pizza was only 520 calories AND it had a $1 off coupon. Being that it was $9.19 I used the coupon and justified my date night with myself as the excuse for the expensive pizza J

It was WELL worth the $8.19. WELL worth it. It was JUST enough to make me totally full, as a pregnant lady, and I made 8 small slices with my pizza slicer. We always use our pizza stone from Sur la Table, with breads and pizzas, that way the bottom and crust get nice and crispy. What impressed me about this pizza versus Amy’s was the taste of the sauce, the seasoning was really nice, didn’t need ANYTHING added. Then the crust was crispy, but still moist and it tasted SO incredibly cheesy. It was awesome. Just awesome. I think I have a new favorite pizza!!! So YAY for Vegan Harvest Flatbread Pizza. DELICIOUS and I WILL be having it many more times!!

After my yummie pizza my daughter did a celebratory dance and we had the wave going on in my belly. Charlie, our kitten (well, he is still small and skinny and not yet a year, though he is only a month away from being 1!) was snuggled up on my belly. The funny thing was as much movement as she made, Charlie didn’t move. He passed out…was sound asleep and his head kept bobbing up and down. It was SO adorable. We had snuggles and purrs and wonderful pizza. A great night by all counts!! (Especially since Charlie is “Daddy’s boy” who always chooses daddy over me!)

Well my hubby and I got to do a baby moon back in early March (clearly blogging is up on my top to do list ;)) And we went to Gourmet Pizza Company in Hyde Park. We have ALWAYS loved GPC and oh do my little girl and I LOVE carbs!

We got the vegan Daiya mozzarella cheese breadsticks (which were AMAZING as always) loaded with cheese, moist and crunchy. Delish! I of course ordered the Mediterranean pizza, my favorite, done vegan with Daiya mozzarella. The other toppings included tomatoes, banana peppers, black olives, basil, spinach and capers. MMMMMM…it was absolutely delicious. Every single time we’ve gone the pizza is cooked just right, fresh and colorful toppings and a great all around experience.

Thank you GPC for letting me have a delicious vegan pizza to be able to enjoy while on my baby moon :)