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 :)

We had a real ‘cold’ spell here in Florida, and the low last night was 42 degrees! I am no fan of the heat, but I had to turn it on because it was JUST that cold in the house that night. So we hit up my favorite quick recipe finder, my pinterest board and found this delicious Thai Curry soup.

It seems that we can’t really keep things as they call them to be…so we’ve been altering the recipes to my pregnant needs lol. The link above will take you to the original recipe, however this is what we made: (it made 4 large servings for about 440 calories each.)

  • 2 tbsp Thai Red Curry Paste
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 15 oz can Whole Foods Brand Light Coconut Milk
  • 1 15 oz can Whole Foods Brand Light Coconut Milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 small can (6 – 8 oz) Bamboo shoots
  • 1/8 cup fresh basil leaves chopped
  • ½ cup chopped spinach (we used 365 Organic frozen spinach)
  • 1 cup of water chesnuts
  • 1 cup of Pineapple chunks
  • 2 cups Four Seasons Blend Organic Veggies (Whole Foods brand)
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 Block Firm tofu (we baked this and seasoned it…see recipe below)

Before you do anything, if you want to season your tofu, while it is still one block drain it by pressing as much water as possible out with a towel. Then cube it into bite sized cubes and lightly toss them with olive oil. We then added some basil leaves (dried) seasoning, and some of the curry paste about 1 tbsp, and tossed the tofu in this. We then put it in an “envelope” of aluminum foil and baked it on 425 for about 30 minutes.

Next steps we followed according to the recipe we loosely followed:

1. Place the curry paste and ginger in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the broth, coconut milk, and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil.

2. Add the mushrooms, green beans, and carrots to the saucepan and simmer until just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the tofu and snow peas and simmer until the snow peas are bright green, about 1 minute more.

3. Stir in the lime juice. Sprinkle with the basil and serve with the chili garlic sauce.

So a few weeks ago, we went to brunch at a really amazing little Café in Ozona, FL called Café Ohana. I ordered this Quinoa bowl with brown rice, quinoa, black beans, a Hawaiian tomato salsa like yumminess, and avocados.

Well, we were short on time, and long on hungry so we tried to recreate it. Well, we did recreate it, but we made the Clements’ version! Jasmine rice, quinoa, black beans, mixed vegetables, and garlic roasted tofu. Mmmmmmmmm…SO incredibly delicious! 31.5 grams of plant based protein if you do it this way, and so full of flavor!

The garlic roasted tofu is reason enough to want to eat this at least once a week. I have found that every vegan has their ‘go to’ ingredient. Ours is garlic. Annie Shannon (my vegan superhero idol) of www.meettheshannons.com is liquid smoke  Kind of like the one ingredient you will absolutely find in every one of our recipes…(I don’t bake with it so don’t worry! And Annie doesn’t bake with liquid smoke!) So to make garlic roasted tofu, just visit here and you can recreate this fabulous protein rich lunch, dinner OR even breakfast!

Quinoa, Rice, Avocado and Black Bean bowl

Begin with a block of your favorite firm or extra firm tattoo. While it is still a single block, use a towel to drain as much water as possible out of the tofu as you can. Then you will want to cube the tofu into bite sized cubes. Next step is to create an “envelope” of baking foil if you will, to bake the tofu in. You want to put the tofu in, and drizzle it with your favorite oil. We use either olive or safflower. Just use enough to lightly coat the tofu, maybe 2 tbsp at most. And then we take Frontier organic garlic powder and coat the tofu in it. Now I am a HUGE garlic fan…we put garlic in pretty much everything we cook (nothing we bake mind you) but EVERYTHING. If you like garlic on a mild scale, don’t use this brand of garlic powder. It is HIGHLY potent powder, so you can either use half of what we do, or use a different brand. We use about 3 tbsp of the Frontier brand…and wow does this stuff kick butt with garlic! The entire house smells like garlic…no joke, but for me it’s heaven. Vampires might not desire to be present, so if you don’t like them like I don’t like them…pour it on!! We then toss the garlic powder in, drizzle some Bragg’s over the top and sprinkle everything with nooch. Then we put it in the oven for about 45 minutes at 425 and ta-da! Garlic Roasted tofu! And it’s heaven for me! I hope you enjoy!

Café Ohana located in Ozona, Florida has become a new LOVE for me. First of all, I think most of us who are Disney fans, know that Ohana means “family” and you definitely feel like family when you walk into this cozy and quaint place. We were greeted with Aloha’s and hugs from each person we saw. The owners and staff are lovely people who are also kind, and loving. You will feel like a part of the family when you show up!! The décor is Hawaiian and simple. Great atmosphere, and for a Sunday brunch get there BY 11am…we did and reserved a table and boy were we glad we did! It was packed within 15 minutes of our arrival!

Since went there for brunch I ate off of the breakfast menu and my hubby ate off of the lunch menu and we were famished so we started with the lomi-lomi tomoto bowl served with organic tortilla chips that they make in house. Oh wow was it good!!!!

My breakfast was a warm bowl, which was brown basmati rice, with quinoa, black beans, lomi-lomi and avocado. It was a perfect size, full of protein and good nutrition, and absolutely delicious! Lomi-lomi is what they describe as a “side dish in pacific island cuisine that was introduced to Hawaiians by early western sailors. It is typically made with salmon but ours is a delicious vegan variation.” It is reminiscent of a salsa, lots of fresh tomato, cilantro, red onion (I think I remember…) and absolutely delightful.

Dave had the Aloha Avocado Sandwich. It was avocado, tomato, sweet onion, spinach, vegenaise, Dijon mustard all served on a toasted sprouted wheat bread or multi-grain ciabatta. Dave chose the ciabatta. I got one little taste of his sandwich, and it was also delicious. I was so in love with my breakfast bowl that I couldn’t share it, so I only got a bite since that was all I would share!

We definitely plan to go back again, as they simplify the menu by having a blue flower by each “vegan selection” a pink flower by everything “Gluten Free” and a green leaf by anything “Vegetarian Friendly.” There are plenty of delicious options for a vegan on the menu, loads of delightful and healthy dishes to try, so we know we have to go back. If you’re in the area, St. Pete or Tampa even, it is well worth the drive. The prices are all great and there is enough selection for carnivores and vegans alike! So my suggestion is get there, get your hug on, and give it a try!

So I found this Avocado Jalepeno Grilled Cheese sandwich on Pinterest and I was totally craving it the minute I saw it. Though we didn’t have thick crusty bread, or jalepenos, we DID have the Daiya Havarti wedge…with jalepeno in it. And some Ezekial Bran for Life bread. To me ANYTIME is a good time to have Ezekial bread. It is hearty and filling and loaded with great nutrition for me and my baby.

This sandwich became a total improvisation since we didn’t have the ‘meat’ they suggested either. BUT I used the Daiya Havarti wedge as well as the cheddar shreds and I had ‘meatless deli turkey slices’ from Yves and of course we always have avocado so I threw on some ‘butter’ to my Ezekiel bread, slapped on two slices on each side of the ‘turkey’ and sliced the avocado on top of the ‘turkey’ and then sliced up the wedge & put on the cheddar shreds. Then I threw it all on the George Forman Grill. I think it is pretty funny that originally the grill’s purpose was for meats, chicken, sausages, etc. NOW that I am vegan, I LOVE using it as Panini press! It makes sandwiches hot and melty and delicious!

This Avocado Jalepeno Grilled Cheese sure did not let down. Absolutely delicious! I might have to try the recipe ‘as-is’ next time to see what the pin was all about, but this was definitely delightful and easy!

Avocado Jalapeno Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Well I am officially 26 weeks and a few days pregnant. I can’te tell you how worried practitioners and friends are about a vegan getting enough protein. I really have to laugh in hindsight, because their panic caused me to really be worried. My hubby and I use an iphone app called “Lose it” which you can also log online at www.loseit.com because prior to getting pregnant I was on the road to wellness and losing weight. We decided to ensure I didn’t gain too much weight while pregnant and to monitor my intake of food, calories and nutrition, we would continue to use the app.

Thank goodness for this app. I can see every meal, every food, every day how much of my key nutrients, including protein, that I eat. And most often it is 80-100 + grams of protein per day. I now have my ‘loaded weapon’ of proof when people ask “how do you get enough protein?” There are so many annoying things about people making assumptions when you are pregnant. Like touching you…NO it’s not okay to touch my stomach, as my t-shirt that my wonderful hubby got me says “If you didn’t put it in there, don’t touch it.” It’s odd, and rude to be honest. You don’t just grab someone because they are pregnant.

I also get a bazillion questions on my vitamins…well how do you get your DHA? I get it from the source, which is seagrass/seaweed…not from the fish that eat it. They DO in fact make really good vegan prenatal vitamins AND DHA! I get plenty of vitamin D from the Florida sunshine and the rest of the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, I get from food! It really IS possible!

I started off my pregancy strong eating loads of kale, spinach and tons of greens and salads and fruits and veggies. Then the second trimester came…and as it progressed so did my desire for carbs, cookies, ice creams, cake, cupcakes, sweets, etc. I have a total aversion now to greens really. I still love my kale & tofu that the hubby cooks up, and in fact I think we’ll eat that tonight, but I can’t stand the idea of a salad. SO…thank goodness for the Blendtec! I just make smoothies…pack in the greens then throw in my fruit and almond or coconut milk and some vegan protein powder and BAM! A healthy fruit/veggie packed snack that I can count on to give me those healthy vitmains and minerals from my greens.

I honestly think it would be much harder to eat meat while you’re pregnant. I developed such strong food aversions in my first trimester that subsided a bit in the middle of my second trimester but have come back with a vengeance. I cannot stomach the smell of any kind of burger cooking…meat, boca, vegan, etc. Enter Hillary’s Adzuki Bean Burgers which just smell like a blend of spices since they are seasoned spectacularly and are totally plant based! Delicious!

So basically if I WERE a preggo carnivore, I wouldn’t have any real protein options since the smell of everything is off putting. I am so thankful I can enjoy tofu, seitan and tempeh! And hello BEANS and quinoa and grains are also loaded with proteins and rich in vitamins. Keeping it real with whole foods is the way to go…vegan or not!

Some people have attributed my lack of morning sickness and general great healthy pregnancy to being vegan, I attribute it to a blessing. No one knows WHAT causes some ladies to get morning sickness and others not to but I am glad I didn’t deal with it. I just can’t wait for her to be born and show everyone it is SO possible to have a healthy baby that was a vegan pregnancy AND a baby that is raised vegan with a breast feeding vegan Mama!