Wear a Hat!

Seriously! I love wearing hats. Here are my reasons why I think you should give hats a try:

1. A hat is a great accessory to most outfits. A hat can add character to an outfit like a little sassyness or attitude or can make you look more chic.

2. In the winter a hat keeps you warmer. The top of your head is an extremity of the body through which body heat can escape. So if you wear a hat outdoors it’ll keep you warmer. If you wear a hat indoors and your office environment is chilly, the hat will serve the same purpose as it does outdoors–you’ll stay warmer.

3. It totally bucks tradition. Think about it. The only time I ever see people wear hats is in winter time, outside in the cold. Do you ever see someone wearing a hat indoors? It’s rare. And I’m not talking about a dude wearing a baseball cap because he’s having a bad hair day. I’m talking about cute hats like the ones at Charming Charlie. That’s where I get all of my hats from. Wear a hat! Dare to be different!

4. Hats can cover bald spots and receding hairlines. Hey, it’s better than the spray-on-hair or a rug. Yikes.

5. If you wake up late and your hair looks similar to Albert Einstein’s (like mine usually does) just grab a hat. It saves you precious time! Sadly, though, I don’t think you’ll inherit Einstein’s brain by putting on a hat. Maybe I’m wrong–maybe there’s a smart hat lurking out there somewhere.

6. Hats that have brims are great for keeping the sun out of your eyes, raindrops off of your glasses and horrible office fluorescent light out of your eyes. I know that strong lighting can be tough on people that suffer from migraine headaches or hangover headaches. A brimmed hat is a great solution to keeping the light out of your eyes in either case!

7. Running outside and producing sweat with the sun shining down on you? Wear a moisture-wicking running hat or a visor–a close cousin of the hat. I highly recommend a visor in the summer sun-shiny weather. DO NOT wear a hat if it’s above 70 degrees. It will trap heat and you will sweat like mad. I did this one day and do not recommend it. That’s when I decided to get a visor which still blocks the sun but leaves the crown of the head exposed to let heat escape. If you are running outdoors do not wear a cotton baseball cap. People will know you’re a newbie.

8. Hats make great conversation pieces. Shy? Wear a hat. It’s a great way to get people talking to you. People will wonder where you got your hat. It’s a great conversation starter.

9. Digging for compliments? If your hat is unique like a fedora, painter’s cap or pageboy hat chances are good you’ll get minimum one compliment a day.

10. Here’s my favorite reason: the looks you get. Do you like to watch people? Watch people watch you. I get the funniest looks from people I know and don’t know when I wear a hat. The expressions on people’s faces are priceless. I’ve gotten the “she must be a bag lady look” and the “she must eat granola, paint pictures and smoke pot all day” look. And the ultimate look is “why the hell does she have a hat on indoors?”. My answer to that look is “why the hell not?”

You gotta try a hat. If you have $10.00 you can get a really cute hat at Charming Charlie. It’s really fun and a very practical thing to do. Dare to be different! Wear a hat!



Vegan Dinner Idea: Gnocchi with Rainbow Swiss Chard and Tomato Sauce

What is gnocchi? It’s small potato dumplings. I’ve loved these ever since I was a kid. When I was 12 and home alone with nothing to do on summer vacation I decided I’d fire up the stove and try cooking something. I didn’t know what to make so I went digging through my mother’s pantry. I found a vacuum-sealed package inside a box which contained what was going to be one of the best meals I’ve ever made and also the worst stomach ache I’ve ever had. I read the directions on the box on how to cook these little buggers: Put in boiling water, when floats to top of pot just skim them off the surface with a spoon and enjoy. The box recommended putting something on the gnocchi for a little more flavor and butter was one of the recommendations. I took half of a stick of butter, put it in a large Pyrex measuring glass and let it melt in the microwave. I poured the half stick of butter over the entire package of gnocchi and enjoyed. This was one of the most decadent meals I’ve ever had. Whenever I see gnocchi on a restaurant menu I think back to that day when I was lapping up the butter and gnocchi. I also remember back to the horrible stomach ache I had when I finished my creation. Thankfully I was a 12 year old girl and not an overweight 50 year old man on the verge of a heart attack because I can guarantee I would’ve been feeling chest pains!

Bottom line: I like gnocchi! These little potato dumplings can be prepared a number of ways. A non-vegan example of that would be pouring a little (not half of a stick) of butter with a little parmesan cheese over it.

If you’re looking for a slightly healthier and vegan/vegetarian approach, you could prepare gnocchi the way Pete and I did tonight!

1. Vegan basil and gnocchi (organic)-Whole Foods (marked Vegan right on the package)
2. Fresh basil (organic)-Whole Foods
3. Onion (organic)-Whole Foods
4. Sliced Mushrooms (organic)-Whole Foods
5. Rainbow Swiss Chard (organic)-Whole Foods
6. Garlic (organic)-Whole Foods
7. Canned plain tomato sauce (organic)-Whole Foods
8. Red wine (not organic)-Whole Foods

This makes about 6 servings the way we did it.

We sauteed the minced garlic and chopped onion until they were translucent. Then we added the garlic and onion to following mixture: chopped basil, 2 packages of sliced mushrooms, 4 cans of tomato sauce and some dry red wine to taste (we used Shiraz). We let that come to a boil and then let simmer for a while so the sauce would thicken. Let it simmer as long as you like to get to the thickness you desire. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil, put in 2 bunches of chopped rainbow Swiss chard and let that blanch for about 4 minutes. The Swiss chard will float so take a large slotted spoon and skim the chard off of the water surface and place into a bowl. You can set your oven on warm and put the bowl containing the chard into the oven to keep warm while you prepare the gnocchi. After the chard is done, take the FROZEN gnocchi (we used 4 packages) and place into the boiling water. They will sink to the bottom at first and you’ll know they are done when they float to the top. They will look soft and pillowy. Take a spoon and skim them off the surface of water and put them into a bowl.

Now you are ready to serve! Take a bowl and place some gnocchi on the bottom and some rainbow Swiss chard on top. Then ladle some of the sauce over the gnocchi and chard and enjoy. This goes great with a glass of dry red wine–like Shiraz for example!

Note from the Chef (actually, two): We ended up using about a half-bottle of wine in the sauce. Add to your liking, of course, but with plain tomato sauce as the base, this added a rich flavor that wouldn’t have been present otherwise. If you do follow this suggestion, remember to add a little extra simmer time for the sauce, as that much wine will thin the sauce out noticeably. Also, I recommend adding the gnocchi in 1 or 2 box batches, and definitely not all four at once, unless you’re cooking in a blast furnace, behind a jet engine, or over a blacksmith’s fire. Anytime you add anything below 212°F to boiling water&mdash (and frozen gnocchi are well below 212°F!), the second law of thermodynamics the water temperature drop below boiling, and the larger the mass you add, the further the water temperature will drop. So, the less gnocchi you add at once, the quicker the water will return to a boil, and the less time your gnocchi will spend sitting in hot-but-not-quite-boiling water.

I explained the vegan way to make this dish. If you are vegetarian you could always add a little parmesan cheese on top.

These little dumplings may be tiny but believe me they are filling. Even if you are an omnivore, I don’t recommend adding meat to this dish because it will be way too filling. There’s something about these little dumplings that really fill you up. Don’t judge them by their size. You will be deceived. I kept warning Pete tonight not to take so many as he was loading up his plate. After not listening to me and finishing his meal, he exploded back in his chair, belly fully inflated stating, “Wow, that was really filling!”

There are lots of ways to play with this dish to dress it up and if you’re not vegan, you can still take the vegan idea and run with it to make it your own non-vegan dish. Do whatever makes you happy!


The Last Thing You Remember

Two weeks ago I went to church. While I’m sure the pastor gave an excellent sermon I honestly don’t remember what he even talked about. For some reason there were a bunch of kids in the congregation that day. Kids age 3 and under. Kids that age make a lot of noise when they’re upset and fussy. It was really irritating. At first, it was cute. I’d hear a kid get upset and start fussing or crying a little bit. But then the parent would sit there with the fussing kid and not do anything about it. That led to another fussy kid and another one. I don’t know if the nursery wasn’t functioning that day or what. Point being it left a bad taste in my mouth. When I go to church I don’t want to have to focus so hard on what the pastor is saying that I’m tired when I leave. The hard focusing was a result of straining to hear what the pastor was saying. I was so annoyed and it left such a bad taste in my mouth that I had this fear that these kids would be there when I went back last week that it made me not want to go. And you know what? I didn’t go. I got up at my normal time and when it came time to jump in the shower I thought to myself, “I really don’t feel like dealing with that again.” I stayed home. The last thing I remembered about the church session wasn’t the pastor’s sermon. It was the screaming, crying, chattering and in my opinion annoying kids.

A similar experience happens to Pete when he tries to work out with me at the gym. Pete wants to workout with me and will try and follow whatever I do when it comes to weights, etc. Pete doesn’t always do so hot and winds up sore and tired. The last thing Pete remembers is a painful workout. When I ask Pete if he wants to workout at the gym, he will just so happen to forget his gym clothes that day.

I like going to church so I’m going to go back. I can guarantee that as I enter the sanctuary I will be checking for kids. Sometimes the last thing you can remember leaves an impression on you and depending on how much you like it or don’t like it may depend on whether you resume your regularly scheduled activity.

Just like I like church Pete really likes yoga. He always remembers his clothes on Thursday nights for yoga class. Since he joined the gym I can’t think of a Thursday night when he’s forgotten his clothes. But if it’s supposed to be a workout in the weight room, he’s a lot less likely to show up because he associates the harder exercises with pain and soreness thus leaving a bad taste in his mouth. When Pete leaves yoga he’s had a pleasurable and relaxing experience and will therefore keep going back week after week with no argument.

Depending on how closely connected you are to the activity and how badly you get burned by something can also affect whether or not you return to it. For instance, I love dance and movement. It fascinates me. I really love ballroom dance. I got burned in a major way and I did a complete 180 on it a year ago and have a very hard time wanting to go back. I had too many bad experiences with this particular activity that I will never return to it. I can’t support something I feel so strongly about in such a negative way. On the flip side, if I tried scuba diving once, got stung by a jellyfish and decided I didn’t want to try it again it wouldn’t be so tragic to me because I didn’t have much invested in it in the first place. Dance is the harder one for me to get over because it’s something I’ve done for most of my life.

Negative associations come in tandem with positive ones. It’s just how it goes. If you like something or somebody and something negative happens take a break from it and then get back to it. At least give it a second or maybe even a third chance. Don’t give up on it right away. I’ll be back at church this week. I won’t go back on the dance floor. And as for the scuba lessons…I couldn’t even force myself to take them because I saw a girl get stung by a jellyfish the day before I was supposed to take the class and couldn’t go. I was too scared. It was my loss. If you don’t try, you’ll never know. Nothing ventured nothing gained. And jellyfish scare me!


The Short of It All

I’m five feet tall. Just 60 inches. I think I stopped growing in 5th grade. I’m keeping up the calcium intake because I definitely don’t want to get any shorter as I get older. No old age shrinking will be happening to this girl (hopefully). If you’re tall, read on for a new perspective. If you’re short, read on because I bet you can relate.

There aren’t many people shorter than me, but I will admit I get super excited when I see one! I will even point it out, which I realize is poor form but I do it anyways. I can’t contain myself. I’ll say, “Wow you’re shorter than me. That hardly ever happens.” Believe me, it’s not like I walk around spouting off this phrase. You don’t realize how rarely I actually get to say that.

When you’re short and have a young-looking face, people think you’re younger than you are. You’d be amazed at the number of people that will ask me what school I go to. It may seem like a compliment; however, it’s a little irritating sometimes. I’m 30. I’m not 18 anymore. I don’t want to be associated with the dumbness that goes along with being 18. So asking me if I’m on fall break is kind of an insult. I think it’s great that people think I look young, but please know I don’t like people thinking I’m 18 either.

When you’re short you may hear the phrase, “Oh, I just didn’t see you there.” I’ve had people walk right into where I was standing. They didn’t see me until I quietly moved out of the way and will turn and look at me oddly and then apologize several times for what happened. I’ve had people almost sit on my as well. Really? How can you almost sit on someone and say you just didn’t see them? Don’t you look before you sit?

When you go to the movies or a show or parade (those are the worst) it’s hard to see if you’re not in the front row. Think about it. Parents always want their kids to get into the front row because they’re small and they want them to see what’s going on at an exhibit or parade. When you’re 30 and as short as a kid no one has any sympathy that you are in the back and can’t see. You just have to suck it up.

Pants. Drama. If you’re short you will need a good tailor. Most stores do make pants for short, average and tall women; however, short doesn’t fit all. Most of the time, I wind up having to get the “short” length pants taken up because they are for women 5′ 4″ tall. That 4 inches is a lot of length when you’re only 5 feet tall! It’s a nightmare when pant come in a one-size-fits all length. To put the pants into perspective for you here’s an example: I bought some cropped pants at Express. Cropped pants are meant to hit just below the calf muscle. Cropped pants don’t usually come in “lengths”. When I tried the pants on at the store they went down past my ankle. The dressing room clerk told me she, in good conscience, couldn’t let me walk out of the store without me knowing that she thought those pants looked terrible on me and highly recommended getting them altered so they looked like actual cropped pants instead of high-waters.

The grocery store. If you’re short and needed something off of the top shelf in one of the aisles in the supermarket chances are good you’ve scaled the shelves. I have. The worst is when what you need on the top shelf is pushed back so far that you still can’t reach it even after you’ve scaled Mount Supermarket Shelves. Then comes the shame…asking the tall person to get it down for you. That just feels like admitting defeat. I know it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for help. There’s nothing wrong or shameful about it. It just feels like defeat because there’s nothing you can do about it except ask for help.

Here’s what I like about being short: I pack a lot of punch. I’m quick and zippy. I’d compare myself to a little city car…maneuvers easily, quick, and peppy. I may be short but I’m super strong and have a lot of power. I have a lower center of gravity which makes me quick. I have a compact body and that muscle has to go somewhere. It’s spring-loaded and ready for action. Being short always served me well for dancing. I’m a real powerhouse and I love that. I’m also a really fast spinner. Most of you haven’t ever really seen me dance so you probably don’t know what I’m talking about. But spinning or turning in dance is my thing. When you’re low to the ground and quick and have good spotting technique so you don’t get dizzy, you will rock pirouettes and chaine turns. Trust me! What dances am I good at? The fast ones…Quickstep and Viennese Waltz especially…because I’m quick and can fly across the floor. Dances I’m not so good at would be Waltz and Foxtrot. While I may be strong that doesn’t necessarily mean I get a good stretch across the floor like those dances require.

I’d never trade in being short for anything. I don’t try and hide my shortness either. I hardly ever wear high heels. Being short is part of who I am. That may sound strange, but it’s true. I’m quirky and cute and peppy and fun. Short seems to fit the bill for those personality traits. Serious, sleek, lanky and long just don’t fit me…literally. I would never try those personality traits on for size because they just aren’t me. That’s the short of it all.


Buck the Bridal Shower

I was thinking about a bridal shower the other day. I won’t be having one but I was thinking about what it meant. A bridal shower. The term bridal defines that it has nothing to do with the groom. The word shower could imply rain. If it rained on the bride that would piss her off. My guess would be that the word shower implies showering the bride with, in this case, gifts. Not just any gifts though…traditional gifts.

I’ve been to one bridal shower in my life. Do you feel sorry for me? Please don’t. I wish I could get those few hours back. Sitting at a table eating lunch at a stuffy country club followed by watching the bride open kitchen and other household items meanwhile saying, “Oh thank you for my gift” is not my ideal way to spend an afternoon. If it were me, I’d be pissed off if someone dared to get me a set of pots and pans, knives, a blender or a vacuum cleaner, etc. What’s even sadder is that tradition dictates that you must register for items like these.

The term “registering” is even funnier to me. It’s a way of saying, “This is what I need. You can get me what I need at this store.”

Let’s think about this: in the time before the marriage, neither person had a set of knives? Really? And neither person had a set of pots and pans they could’ve used and brought into the combined household? Hmmm…somehow unless you were cooking on a hot plate using plastic picnic-ware, I’m guessing the couple had these items before they got married.

Why does the bride have to ask for things she technically may already have? New sheets? Really? You don’t have a set of sheets to sleep on? New towels? Really? What were you using to wipe down with after a shower before…toilet paper?

Let’s buck tradition for one minute. Let’s say you have an athletic bride, like myself. Why not register for a your favorite pair of running shoes at your local running store along with some running shorts, tights, a couple jackets for cold weather, hydration belt and your favorite gels? Well for one, I don’t think running stores have a bridal registry but if you know one that does then props to them! The other reason is that it’s not traditional. Wedding guests would look at the bride like she was nuts if that’s what she asked for.

I do understand the real reason why brides register for things they already have. They’re getting married and starting a new life with someone and tradition says we must have new things. The bride must have new kitchen appliances to have dinner on the table by 5pm when the hubby gets home. The couple must have brand new sheets unsoiled by previous relationships. I really do get it. I just don’t accept it.

I have all of the “stuff” brides get at a bridal shower already. Is that why I’m not having a bridal shower? No it’s not. The real reason is that I just don’t want to be bothered doing something I don’t believe in. I don’t subscribe to the belief of a traditional wedding and all of the events that go with it. Does that piss people off? Sure it does. Do I care? No. I’m doing what makes me happy. I’m getting married for my own sake, not for the sake of people around me. If you’re a non-traditional bride like me it’s really ok to buck tradition. In fact, give it a big roundhouse kick in the face. Maybe then we can move on from having daddy walk the little lady down the aisle to give her away to someone so she can have dinner on the table by 5pm.


Hittin’ the Road Again

Starting January 2011, I decided I wanted to start running. I needed a focus for my running so I signed up for a half marathon program at Fleet Feet Sports in Schererville, Indiana. Every Saturday morning at 9am, despite the temperature and weather conditions, I was at Fleet Feet without fail. I missed two Saturday runs. One because I overslept and the other because I was sick. I ran my way through the winter and right into the summer. We didn’t have much of a spring as far as temperatures goes in 2011. I completed my half marathon race in early May.

I took three weeks off and then started training for Chicago marathon. I trained through the summer heat and humidity and ran Chicago marathon on October 9, 2011.

I ran another race in November in Chicago called the Hot Chocolate 15k.

After those races I needed a break. My body didn’t so much need a break. My mind needed a break. Sometimes doing the same thing over and over and over can get redundant just like saying over and over and over can be.

I was talking with my running buddy last week and we both discovered that neither of us had really run since we did our last race in November. I’ve run a few times on the treadmill since then and so had she. We both agreed that we were a little burned out from running so much, that we needed a break and the break were taking has been nice.

When January rolled around this year I thought about signing up for another half marathon program again but I wasn’t ready so I decided not to. I just wasn’t into it. If don’t want to do something then I won’t fully commit to it. I don’t believe in doing something half way. If my heart’s not in it then I won’t take it seriously. I chose not to sign up.

I haven’t been sitting on the couch eating bonbons and rotting in front of the television by any means. I’ve been going to the gym about 4 to 5 times a week. I’ve been doing a lot of swimming in the pool and kick boxing classes at the gym. I’ve been doing some strength training and biking. I also do yoga every Thursday. The change and variety has been so nice! I feel mentally refreshed. Physically my body is stronger from all of the cross training I’ve been doing.

As I was driving to work the other morning I realized it’s nearly March and the weather will start to get nice again. I realized I’m ready to get out of the gym and back on the road for some fresh air. Fresh air and exciting scenery is something you do not get in the gym. I’m going to ease my way back into running by running a 5k in March at the Indiana Dunes called Ringing in Spring. In May I’m signing up for a duathlon (12 mile bike ride and 5k run). I’m going to be purchasing a bike in April and will be riding on the bike trails around Northwest Indiana which I’m really excited about! I’m going to do some triathlons over the summer and early fall. Afterwards I will be training for the Disney marathon.

The variety has been nice. I’ve discovered some new sports and realized that there’s more out there than just running. Stepping away from the running and taking a break from it made me appreciate it more and want to go back to it because I’ve had a chance to miss it. Moving forward I’m looking forward to mixing it with other things like biking and swimming!

Change is good. Changing things up is good for you mentally and physically. If something is burning you out, take a step back or take a break from it. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. In my case, absence made me go running back to what I missed!


The Greek Eating Project: Greek Hamburgers on the Grill (Pan)

As all of you know, Sara decided to divert her energy for two weeks into the Very Vegan Valentine’s Day Project, so I was drafted to work on the Greek Eating Project while she’s away. Now, as I think Sara mentioned, this isn’t entirely accurate—I’ve actually been the “chef to be named later” from the beginning—but this will be my first attempt at writing the project report. Fair warning: if you liked Sara’s reports, this probably will not be an improvement.

The first thing I want to say is that I am most emphatically not a chef. I’m not a bad cook at all, and I can improvise a bit when the need arises, but I’m mostly a follow-the-recipes kind of guy. Now, I do feel that for the last few years I’ve begun to really understand different cooking techniques (and maybe even a few baking ones), but that puts mean in the same relationship to an actual chef that, say, a kid building a bridge with her erector set has to an engineer—she may be on the right track, but she’s got a few more things to learn before she can claim that title.

So, with that out of the way, on to this week’s meal: Greek Hamburgers on the Grill (Pan). Granted, probably not the best choice, being mid-winter and all, but I had two main criteria last week: I needed something easy and I wanted to make something Sara wasn’t likely to ever make herself. I dismissed the the vegan, vegetarian, and chicken dishes immediately, since Sara was favoring those types of dishes for herself it wasn’t clear what the results of the Very Vegan Valentine’s Day Project would be (you’ll have to read Sara’ posts on that project to find out!), so that left the beef and lamb dishes to choose from. Since, generally speaking, hamburgers pretty much involve three steps prior to cooking—chop one or two ingredients, mix all ingredients together, and shape into patties—these seemed a perfect first dish. And I do have a nice grill pan, so all I really lost was a bit of the flavor from the grill, which in some ways was better—it gave me a chance to see what the hamburger tasted like without the added flavors from wood or charcoal smoke.

One of Sara’s traditions is to include what is or isn’t organic and where she purchased it at, and it’s a good tradition, so I’ll continue it in my fill-in role.

Here’s a list of the organic ingredients I purchased and the store I got them at:

  • Eggs (Costco)
  • Lemon juice (Whole Foods)
  • Parsley (Whole Foods)

Here’s a list of the non-organic ingredients I purchased and the store I got them at:

  • Ground beef (Beef Mart)
  • Bread crumbs (Town and Country)
  • Olive oil (Costco)
  • Sea salt (Town and Country)
  • Pepper (Molly Bea’s)
  • Oregano (Molly Bea’s)

I want to note is that all of the ingredients are available organically from Whole Foods, although I’m not sure how easy it would be to get organic dried spices and fresh parsley locally. I’m not saying you can’t, but I haven’t really looked so I can’t say that you can either.

As I’ve already mentioned, the prep work for this dish isn’t that hard—you just chop up some parsley, measure everything else, mix it all together, and shape it into patties. The real secret is in the combination and proportions of the ingredients, which I won’t reveal here (also per good Sarathlete blogging tradition), except to say I cut the recipe in half without cutting the number of eggs in half, and I think it still turned out darn tasty.

I do want to say a couple of things about preparing this dish, though. First, don’t skip the lemon juice! What? You weren’t even considering that? It never crossed your mind once? Well, for some of you that may be true, but I’m betting at least a few of you would thought about doing just that, because I did. Yes, I almost decided to omit the lemon juice. After all, this is supposed to be a hamburger, and who puts lemon juice in a hamburger. All I’m going to say is resist the temptation and leave the lemon juice in.

Second, I strongly recommend eating this burger plain on a bun the first time you try it. I’m not saying you can’t add other things on burgers two and later, but for the first one just try it plain (OK, you can put a little mayo on the bun if you must, especially if you go with a slightly fattier grind of beef than I did, but that’s it—and definitely avoid ketchup). The lemon juice in particular gives this hamburger a slightly light and surprisingly refreshing taste, and before you decide what flavors to add, you should know what you’re adding those flavors to.

Third, I was rather surprised by the texture of this burger, which I can only describe as creamy. Yes, it was moist, but I wouldn’t call it “juicy”. To be fair, this was probably primarily a result of the grind of beef I chose to go with, ground sirloin (at a guess in the roughly 93% lean range), so there wasn’t a lot of fat to contribute to the moisture or texture. The lemon juice kept it from getting dry, but the juice largely gets absorbed into the bread crumbs, dried oregano, and even a bit into the meat itself, so instead of producing that juiciness that comes from fattier meat, you get a burger that has a texture closer to a moist, velvety cake.

So would I do anything differently if I made this dish again? Yes, one thing. Instead of going with all ground sirloin, I would try either a ground round (for a little more fat) or, even better, a 50/50 blend of ground sirloin (for the flavor) and ground chuck (for the fat). I should probably point out this isn’t necessarily a change to the recipe, since it simply calls for “very lean ground beef”, but isn’t any more specific than that, so who’s to say Anna didn’t intend for “very lean” to be 85% lean instead of 93%? After all, I’ve had a burger that was 60/40% lean, so by that standard, 85% is pretty darn lean indeed! Of course, the choice of how much fat you like in your burger is purely personal, and I want to stress that for those of you who prefer lower-fat dishes, the all 93% lean ground sirloin burger was pretty darned tasty (or did I say that already?)! The flavors are wonderful, and the burger is plenty moist with a nice, smooth texture.

One last thought, a bit of a drink pairing note: I tried this both a red Shiraz and a Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat beer. Both worked very well with it, although I think a red with a little less body would pair slightly better than the Shiraz did. If, however, you make these in the summer on a charcoal or wood grill, or go with a slightly fattier cut (or mix of cuts) of beef, the Shiraz may be the better choice. I guess I’ll have to try one or both of those combinations and drop an update to let you know the results!

And now, a word from my Very Vegan Valentine:

Pete made paprika fries as a side dish with the burgers. They were 100% vegan and really awesome, and I imagine they would go great with the burgers!

I’ve been making those fries occasionally for years, so I forgot to mention them, but my Very Vegan Valentine is right: they are and do!

Until next week…opa!

Guest blogger and sort-of cook

A Very Vegan Valentine’s Day Project is Over

Yep. It’s over….the project I mean.

I like this so much that I’m going to make it my way of life.

This is a brand new way of cooking, shopping and eating that I really like. It’s a lifestyle that I can sustain. I like how I feel. I love the health benefits that I can reap from it after reading the Engine 2 book by Rip Esselstyn. Reading that book is a real eye opener on the effects animal products and by-products can have on your body and how eating a plant strong diet is nutritional and tasty at the same time.

So there you have it. A Very Vegan Valentine’s Day Project is over because after Valentine’s Day and after next Sunday I’m going to stay vegan.

I’m really grateful for my running friend for hosting her party “A Very Vegan Holiday”. It opened my eyes up to a whole new way of eating and a whole new way of thinking about food. Her party gave me some knowledge to go out and do some more of my own research. I refuse to give her identity away on the blog but thank you very much Very-Vegan-Holiday hoster!

I’d also like to say thank you to my running buddy for doing this project with me. I loved having your support through this. Two heads are better than one!

That’s it for now! Short post tonight. Pete will be coming with his first Greek Eating Project post early in the week. I’ll also post my Greek Eating Project post as well–vegan style. Lots to look forward to!


A Very Vegan Lady Date!

That is a Whole Foods napkin held by my lady date in her delicate Vanna fingers. Underneath the napkin sit two vegan hot dogs Chicago-style. They were super yummy. My lady date paid for my hot dog! Isn’t that nice? She’s awesome. She’s also my vegan buddy and is going vegan for the two weeks with me and doing it in her own way! Vegan lady dates are awesome! Yep we left the men at home.