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Random Acts of Kindness wrap up

I gave myself until the end of January to complete my 30 acts of kindness from when I turned 30 last January.  I’ve completed my list, but the kindness lives on.  I’ve signed up to do a few regular volunteer gigs, such as working at my local food pantry and helping out with Garbage to Garden‘s volunteer needs.

First 10 acts

Second set of 10

The remaining 10 acts are below:

21.  Donated jars of applesauce to Wayside Food Bank via Whole Foods Market during the holidays.

22.  Wrapped presents for Make-a-Wish foundation with my mom.
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23.  Donated a gift to iBec (the creator of my business site Lola Studios) for Toys for Tots.

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24.  My mother-in-law Cissie donated money toward layaway items at Renys in my name.

25.  Gave my parking space to a man that parked in front of me near a hydrant and gave him my parking slip with an hour’s worth of money left on it.

26.  Donated money towards a local child’s kidney transplant.

27.  Donated containers of coffee to Preble Street via a Yelp event at Flatbread.

28.  Wrote a thank you note to the person that was the reason for me moving to Maine for my internship and finding my husband and the life I now have.

29.  Volunteered at my local food pantry.

30. Donated bags of clothes to a family that recently lost their home to a fire.

That wraps up my 30 Random acts of kindness for the 31st year of my life.  This has been such a fun, easy, and rewarding experience. It takes so little effort to help others and a little really goes a long way.  I will continue to embrace these ideas in 2014 and in the rest of my life.

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Thanksgiving in the Carolinas

This year I went to visit my Dad in North Carolina- I was literally flying solo. Sans my hubby who stayed with his parents and our pup this year.  I missed having him around, but it was nice to have some quality time with my Dad. I don’t get to see him very much during the year especially after moving to Maine.

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We made a Thanksgiving spread for two.  It was a lot of food for two people, but it was the preparations and tradition that made it special for us. We have our favorite dishes we like to see each year.  If you caught my blog about my vegan diet- I did excuse myself from it for Thanksgiving day especially since I was preparing the bird.

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I made these fun turkey name cards a few years ago when I lived in Brooklyn. I found them in Martha Stewart Living.

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We always have a great time walking around town and we were lucky to catch the gingerbread display at the Carolina Hotel in Pinehurst.  The pastry chefs make remarkable replicas of the prominent buildings around town including, the Carolina itself.

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We also had a chance to have lunch at the country club in Pinehurst.  I hopped back on my vegan bandwagon with this amazing portobello and grilled veggie sandwich on foccacia bread.  It even had a long toothpick with a tee at the end.

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Happy Holidays!

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All Raw Vegan all the Time!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  I’m back on my raw vegan diet.  I started a six week trial over a year ago and it was the first time in my life I didn’t suffer from stomach aches, fatigue, constipation (TMI?) etc.  There really is something to a plant based diet.  In addition to adding living foods I’ve also cut out lactose and gluten.  I always suspected that lactose played a role in my extreme discomfort and now I know it’s true.  Especially after reading about what our cow’s milk really is.  After my mom had similar severe issues she was told to go off lactose and gluten.  She’s been thriving ever since.  I figured it was worth a try for me too.  It definitely made an improvement, but for me it was hard to break 28 years of SAD (Standard American Diet) habits.

Enter Elizabeth Fraser of Girl Gone Raw.  A co-worker recommended her to me and though I was skeptical I was also intrigued.  Elizabeth’s knowledge and personal dedication to the raw vegan diet was inspirational and I looked forward to each week when we’d prepare meals together.

After the six weeks I was going strong until my husband and I got our first home and shared most of our meals together.  I gotta say it’s hard to eat a salad when someone is downing a burger next to you.  Alex was very supportive in my raw food journey he just wasn’t ready to hop on board.  The beer festivals didn’t help much either.  About a year later and 20 pounds heavier, I cannot sit back and let myself slide anymore.

This week I started working with Elizabeth and Maggie part time in their Kids Gone Raw kitchen and adopting the raw vegan lifestyle once again.

Here are just a few of the snacks they have to offer.  See more of their treats here.

I’ve already lost four pounds since Monday.  I like to keep track of the pounds I lose with this common items list.  Here’s another one.  I’m hoping to lose the average number of pounds of cheese Americans eat in a year (it’s 30).  Right now I’ve lost between a box of wine and a bag of sugar.

Sound intriguing? Here are some baby steps you can take:

1. Take 2 weeks each to eliminate meat, dairy, and wheat/gluten.

2.  What’s left you say?  Plenty!  The raw vegan diet is made up of plants, nuts, nut milks, nut cheeses, and coconut oil.

(These are just suggestions from my experience and are not meant to be thought of ask medical advice.)

3.  Use these resources to learn fun new recipes and faux versions of your favorites.

Girl Gone Raw

Alissa Cohen

Rawmazing

I’ll keep you posted- let me know if you’d like to try!

New to The Bangor Daily News!

Hi Everyone!

I’m excited to be joining your blogging community!  It looks like I’m in good company.  I’ve been working on Happy New Lear for over a year- I started right before Alex and I got married. It’s been my own little outlet to share with my family and friends across the country and also a way to build a community with those who share similar interests.

My husband and I live near Portland with our little French/English bulldog, Walter. I’m a photographer and he is a writer/musician.  We’ve been in our home a little over a year now and love our little oasis.  We’re both kids at heart and we still feel like we are in a house without parents home.  It all seems too good to be true.

I love crafting and trying new recipes so you’ll see a lot of that here as well as book reviews and seasonal events.  I look forward to getting to know you all through your blogs and maybe some convos.   I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks!

Lauren

Free Grilling Ebook Today ’til Monday!

Starting today “No Frills Grillin” will be available for free until midnight on Sunday.  Follow the link here to download from Amazon for your Kindle or Kindle app for ipad.

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Also take a look at my last post for the recipe I tested from the ebook.

Grilled Peaches with Ricotta and Honey Almond Sauce

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Happy Grillin’!

Lauren

Vino, Vida, Vici

I wined, I saw, I conquered!  Alex and I shared a lovely evening at home with friends and family while we hosted a Wine Shop at home event.  Renee Curtis was our wine educator for the evening and walked us through the subtleties and nuances of three sweet whites and three bold/spicy reds.  We paired these with a few interesting bites to change the palate.   Good times were had by all and we were happy to enjoy our “new to us” deck furniture donated by Alex’s wonderful parents.

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I also got to do a craft I’ve been saving for about a year now- Tiki wine bottles!  I got the design from Design Sponge.

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Cheers from the Lears!

Lauren

Light Summery Cocktails and Pickled Cherries

I’m back on the raw diet in full force which means I am trying to look for healthier options when happy hour comes around.  I found this deliciously light and sweet Red Red “Vine” Cocktail on yummly.

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You’ll need:

  • 12 Fresh Concord grapes
  • 2 oz Bulldog Gin
  • 2 Fresh mint leaves
  • 1 (.25-inch) slice Fresh ginger
  • 3 Lemon wedges
  • 1 tsp Raw sugar
  • Club soda

Directions:

In a shaker, muddle the grapes. Add the remaining ingredients except the club soda and fill with ice. Shake well and double strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice. Top with club soda and garnish with a mint leaf and a grape cluster.

I’ve also learned about the many healthy benefits of eating fermented items such as pickles and sauerkraut so I was delighted to find this recipe for pickled cherries in the new Sweet Paul magazine.

Pickled Cherries

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1 quart sweet cherries ( I used both Bing and Rainier and the sweetness of the Rainer worked much better with the sweet and spicy recipe)

You’ll Need:

2 cups white wine vinegar

2 cups water

2 3/4 cups sugar

2 tablespoons honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

zest of 1 lemon

4 bay leaves

2 hot peppers

Directions:

1. In a medium sauce pan, combine all ingredients except cherries and bring to a boil.

2. Lower heat and simmer liquid for 5 minutes to infuse with flavor.

3. Add cherries, continue cooking for 2 more minutes, and remove from heat.

4. Let cool and and serve or refrigerate.

I also made an adaptation of the cocktail above with the leftover juice from this recipe.

 Pickled Cherry Cocktail

1 part cherry pickling juice

1 part gin

1 part club soda

add one pickled cherry to drink

Enjoy!

Lauren

Mumbo Jumbo, I Love GUMBO!

I was recently told by my acupuncturist that I needed to add more okra in my diet.  Aside from having it with pasta, I was inspired to try to make my very first gumbo!  It just so happens that it’s just in time for Fat Tuesday as well.  I grew up on my mom’s jambalaya, but have never made gumbo.  I never knew the difference before either, but I’m guessing it has a lot to do with the roux.  According to http://www.chowhound.com, jambalaya is more of a rice based dish, while gumbo is more often referred to as a soup or stew with okra.  Apparently, jambalaya is the African word for ham with rice and gumbo is the word for okra.  Here is the recipe I found on http://www.allrecipes.com from user: dailyrecipedoctor.

Good New Orleans Creole Gumbo

Original recipe makes 20 servings
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup bacon drippings
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped celery
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, sliced
  • 3 quarts water
  • 6 cubes beef bouillon
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco®), or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning blend (such as Tony Chachere’s®), or to taste
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons gumbo file powder (Sassafras powder) I didn’t have this on hand 😦
  • 2 tablespoons bacon drippings
  • 2 (10 ounce) packages frozen cut okra, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 pound lump crab meat
  • 3 pounds uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons gumbo file powder

Directions

  1. Make a roux by whisking the flour and 3/4 cup bacon drippings together in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat to form a smooth mixture. Cook the roux, whisking constantly, until it turns a rich mahogany brown color. This can take 20 to 30 minutes; watch heat carefully and whisk constantly or roux will burn. Remove from heat; continue whisking until mixture stops cooking.

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2. Place the celery, onion, green bell pepper, and garlic into the work bowl of a food processor, and pulse until the vegetables are very finely chopped. Stir the vegetables into the roux, and mix in the sausage. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat, and cook until vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside.

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3.  Bring the water and beef bouillon cubes to a boil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Stir until the bouillon cubes dissolve, and whisk the roux mixture into the boiling water. Reduce heat to a simmer, and mix in the sugar, salt, hot pepper sauce, Cajun seasoning, bay leaves, thyme, stewed tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Simmer the soup over low heat for 1 hour; mix in 2 teaspoons of file gumbo powder at the 45-minute mark.

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4.  Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings in a skillet, and cook the okra with vinegar over medium heat for 15 minutes; remove okra with slotted spoon, and stir into the simmering gumbo. Mix in crab meat, shrimp, and Worcestershire sauce, and simmer until flavors have blended, 45 more minutes. Just before serving, stir in 2 more teaspoons of file gumbo powder.

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I must say that this recipe was quite amazing; I am a fan 🙂 .  I’m sure that it’s blasphemous to not have the gumbo file powder, but I think it worked pretty well without it this time.

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Enjoy!

Lauren

Beet, Apple, Pear, Ginger Juice

You might have seen my last post where I mentioned Beet Juice…

Beet juice is my new favorite to make and it happens to be a favorite of the Olympians as well. It’s rich in nitrates which give athletes a performance boost. The nitrates help muscles use oxygen more efficiently and have been compared to illegal performance enhancing drugs. Nitrates have a bad rap, however, researchers believe that the naturally occurring nitrates in vegetables may be responsible for some of the cardiovascular benefits of vegetable-rich diets. They come packaged with a bunch of health-protective compounds (minerals, vitamins, antioxidants). I love this blend due to the sweet and tangy zip from the pears and ginger.

BluePrint Cleanse- Apple Beet Pear Ginger

(also on Kris Carr’s juicing guide)
1 1⁄2 Granny Smith apple, quartered and cored ( I use 4)
1 1⁄2 Bosc or D’anjou pear, quartered and cored (I use 2)
3 small or 1 large (3-ounce) red beet, cut into small pieces
1-inch piece ginger

Blend away in your juicer.

A rainbow of nutrients.

Yes, that much food only makes one 24 oz. glass of juice. However, think of the time it would take you to eat all that. Juicing provides you with all of the nutrients you need in a fraction of the time and is absorbed into your system quickly because your body doesn’t have to work as hard to digest it.

Plus, its fun to see the pretty colors you can make! Drink up!

~Lauren

Eating RAW

Today signifies the end of my first week on my new raw diet.  I couldn’t have done it without the help of Elizabeth Fraser of Girl Gone Raw.  She is our local raw food enthusiast and helps others in the community reach their raw potential.

Elizabeth and her Veggie Maki Rolls

I have had many stomach issues since I was young and have tried many different avenues to help ease my pain.  It wasn’t until recently when my symptoms were spiraling that I decided to try something drastic.  I’d heard great things about raw food and Elizabeth in particular and decided to sign up for her 6 Weeks to a Healthier You program.  I couldn’t be more pleased with my decision.  In just one week, not only have my symptoms have gone away, but I’m actually feeling great!

I was a little nervous about diving in and leaving all my hot, greasy, fatty, cheesy foods behind.  But, now I actually crave my raw creations.  Its unbelieveable! Elizabeth has been very helpful each step of the way.  We meet once a week to cook an entire meal complete with dessert and she also introduced me to all the raw food goodies at Whole Foods.  So far, I’ve learned how to make my own almond milk, nut cheese, yummy cashew burgers, and even a chocolate bars!

I’ve just come home from another wonderful evening of raw food making with Elizabeth and want to share all the goodies we created.

Veggie Maki Rolls

You’ll need:

-4 sheets of Nori

Filling:

1 cup of cashews, soaked for 2 hours

1 carrot

1 minced scallion

1 tsp fresh grated ginger

sea salt to taste (1/4 tsp)

Veggies to Roll:

1 carrot

1 avocado

1 cucumber

8 sprigs cilantro

1/2 cup of sprouts

Dipping Sauce:

3 Tbs nama shoyu

1 Tbs olive oil

1 Tbs tahini

grated garlic or ginger


1. Chop and mix filling ingredients in food processor

2. Julienne carrot & cucumber, slice avocado & mango into strips.

 

3.  Arrange filling an inch from bottom of nori.  Place veggies on top.

4.  With dry hands, roll the nori up and over the filling, keeping the roll as tight as possible.  As you roll and see a half an inch left, wet the end like and envelope and seal the roll.  Set aside.

5.  Whisk your dip together. Slice roll into half inch slices and enjoy with dip.  YUM!

This might be my favorite recipe so far, the dipping sauce is so flavorful and a great compliment to the rolls!

Veggie Stir Fry

Rice:

2 medium parsnips

1 clove garlic

Veggies:

1 1/2 cups broccoli

1 1/2 cups mushrooms

1 cup snap peas

1 carrot julienned

black sesame seeds

Marinade:

1/3 cup of olive oil

2 Tbs nama shoyu

1 Tbs agave

1. Place broccoli, mushrooms, and marinade in a bowl. Stir to coat.  Let it sit for 1/2 hour.

 2.  Peel parsnips, chop, and place in food processor with cashews and garlic.  Blend until mixture has the texture of cous cous.

 3.  Julienne carrots and chop snap peas in half.

4.  Mix cous cous, veggies, and broccoli mixture in a bowl.  Enjoy!

(Modified from Rawmazing.com stir fry recipe)

Frozen Fruit Sorbet

2 frozen bananas

1 cup frozen mango

1 cup frozen strawberries

1/4-1/2 cup water or almond milk

1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth & creamy- approx 1 minute.

Serve right away and top with fruit, nuts, coconut, or agave.

Thanks Elizabeth for guiding me in my raw food journey and for letting me share these great recipes!

You can find Elizabeth at http://www.girlgoneraw.com

~Lauren

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