Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Running Vegan

My daughter and I are running in the Disneyland Half Marathon in September. It's something she's wanted to do for a long time, but it was a total whim on my part. When she told me she was doing this, I jokingly said I ought to do it with her, and within an hour, I had signed up. To be clear, I am not a runner, and haven't done anything particularly physical in about 30 years. I've just never enjoyed or been able to stick with any kind of exercise habit as an adult, although I was active as a kid, and my body has suffered for it. But something has shifted now. I'm feeling younger...

Part of it is the whole healthy vegan lifestyle I've immersed myself in for the last two years. Exercise is another part of the equation, part of the natural flow. It makes sense, and I think it makes me much more credible when I encourage other people to change their diets and reclaim their health.

I'm actually a little bit surprised at how well it's going. I "run," which means run/walk, three times a week, all by myself, and I love it. I also walk with my husband three times a week, and on those days I go to a water aerobics class for some cross training. This is so unlike me, but I've been doing it since February, and have no intention of stopping. Ever. I'm losing weight, building muscle, and feel better than I have in many years. Why would I stop? At first the goal was to just finish the race, but now that goal has expanded and extended to finishing my entire Life Race with as much grace and energy as possible, and to make it last as long as possible. The middle of life, which is where I roughly am, if I live to be 100, which I intend to do, is no time to let it all fall apart. There's still too much to do.

My daughter Lauren and I have been writing a weekly co-blog over at TakingTheLongWayHome, under the heading, "Kim & Lauren," but I now feel it's time to move it to a new home here on PV. What I'm doing is certainly a personal adventure, which is what I usually write about over on LongWayHome. But more and more it's tied in with how I eat, and my growing philosophy on how I want to treat my body, and how I participate in life on Planet Earth. I'm convinced that I could not be doing all this exercise if I wasn't committed to a super healthy vegan diet. It's not at all weird that I'm a plant fueled runner. I'm able to run because I eat plants. I think this is a journey worth sharing here, along with the tasty recipes and helpful information I've been providing all along. I can say for sure, from my own ongoing experience, that if you want to change your life, your health, and your body, you can absolutely, happily, positively do it - at any age.

I'm not sure if we'll hear much from Lauren this summer, but I'll let her pop in and share her marathon training experiences when she has time. She's not vegan. She's mostly vegetarian. I'm working on her... and of course she's finding her own way, in her own time, on her own path. I can't wait till our paths cross in September, hers from Seattle, and mine from Taos, to stand at the starting line with Mickey Mouse, and to cross the finish line on my own two feet, because my girl has inspired me to get off my butt and get moving.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Our First Vegan Potluck

We had our first Positively Vegan Potluck here on Saturday night. For a first time thing, I think it went pretty well, but there are a few things I'll change if I do it again. All things considered, it was a good learning experience, and fun too. And the food everyone brought was beautiful and delicious.

I also made mashed pesto cauli-tatoes and mushroom gravy, and we had a wonderful feast.

I offered a free, short Spring Roll class an hour before the party started. Only one friend showed up for this part, and Rick joined in too. They were both star students, and soon we had a nice big plate of spring rolls, which were really good with the Buddha Belly Sauce I'd made ahead of time.

So what will I change if I do this again? Well, it was way too much work for me, which is not the purpose of a potluck. Next time, everybody will need to bring their own plates and utensils, and take everything home with them, so we're not left here with a kitchen full of dirty dishes, plus a bunch of serving dishes that get left to behind. It has to be a communal event, or it's just not going to happen. I also want to branch out beyond our own circle of friends. We'll include them too, of course, but I realize it's hard for some of them to embrace the idea of an all-vegan meal. One friend was so baffled, she brought a bowl of fruit, with a disguised can of whipped cream... pretty funny.

Rick and I are the only vegans we know in Taos, but we can't be the only ones here. I'll consider some ways of reaching more into the community to find like-minded eaters, but meanwhile, I consider this first potluck to be a success, and who knows - maybe some of our friends were at least a little bit inspired to add more plants to their diets. We never know how we affect people. And as I say quite often, I'm just holding the door open here. They can decide to come in if they want to. It's up to them.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Buddha Bowl

Up until recently, stir-fries were one of our easy go-to dinners. It's good to have a few of those, for nights you don't want to read recipes or figure out something new. But now I'm not using much oil in my cooking (like none at all in the last week), and I'm not sure how to manage a dry stir-fry in a cast iron pan. The solution is actually pretty simple. Steam some vegetables instead of stirring them, put them over rice or quinoa, and add a killer sauce. The result is a favorite I've had in restaurants lots of times - a Buddha Bowl. It's delicious, simple, and comforting, and really versatile too. Make different sauces, add tofu or tempeh, use all sorts of different veggies, and any kind of grain you like. This is my new "stir-fry."

Buddha Bowl
Start a pot of rice, quinoa, or other grain. Lately I'm into mixing brown basmati and wild rice.

Chop a nice pile of vegetables for steaming - anything you like. Here I used carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, napa cabbage, and kale. (This strainer/steamer full of veggies cooked down to just enough for two of us) Place the veggies in a steamer over a pot of water, but wait to steam them until the rice is almost done.

While you wait, make the sauce. I call this one...

Buddha Belly Sauce
In a saucepan, measure very imprecise amounts of peanut butter (on the right), tahini, red curry paste, and miso paste (two small blobs). Whisk them together over low heat.

Add water or coconut milk to thin the sauce to the desired consistency. Add the juice of one lime, a little maple syrup, and tamari to taste. Warm the sauce gently on low heat, but don't boil.

When the rice is about 5-10 minutes from ready, bring the water under the vegetable steamer to a boil, cover the veggies, and let them steam for about 4-5 minutes, until they're just tender.

To assemble the Buddha Bowl, start with rice, top with vegetables, and pour on a generous amount of sauce. Top with fresh basil and chopped cashews.

Relax... enjoy... dinner's ready.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Food Coaching, Nori Rolls, and Jumping Through Hoops

To make a long story short, sort of, I went online to order the Engine 2 Diet, because I wanted some ideas on oil/fat free cooking that I could meld with the Vegan Fusion way of layering ingredients, to give everything maximum flavor, as well as nutrition, and I somehow ended up on the E2 webpage, where I immediately zeroed in on the link to Food Coach Training... Was that a run on sentence? Probably. And thanks for paying attention.

The synchronicities are too many to ignore in all this. From talking about moving to Austin, Texas the day before (for no reason anyone could come up with), to saying to Rick, Hey, I don't know what to do, but I know I could get a call or an email at any moment, that could change everything, " to being contacted by someone close to me who asked if I'd like to do something very similar to Food Coaching...

So I looked at the Food Coach information, read the FAQs, and went straight to the application link. You don't just get to sign up for this course. You have to apply, be approved, pay a bunch of money, and travel to Texas to make it happen. I don't know for sure that this is right for me, but I also don't know that it isn't, so I'm going forward with it for now.

One part of the application is a video, less than 3 minutes, to give them an idea of the applicant's personality and aptitude for sharing information. Oh dear... this could have stopped me. Scary! But with Rick as my camera man and chief encourager, we knocked out a little video this evening that might be passable enough to get me in... if it turns out I actually want to be in. Want a crash course on making Nori Rolls? I have a video for you! Next time I'll have Rick turn the iPhone the other direction, but for now, this is what we have...

As I dig deeper into the application, much of what they want to know doesn't actually apply to me. Like "professional references"... I've been self employed for over 20 years, and answer to no one but myself. If anyone would like to volunteer to be listed as a professional reference, please let me know. I could use a couple of good ones! I'll fill it out the best I can, but I'm beginning to think I'm a little too much of a free spirit to fit in with what they want. That's okay. I'm learning as I go, and even if I only learn a thing or two about making a cooking video, that's pretty valuable. I'm not all that good at jumping through other people's hoops, but sometimes I don't mind spinning them around and having some fun with them. If you make some Nori Rolls, do let us know how they turned out. My real goal is to help you make good food. So eat your greens, and meet me back here later.

Monday, May 21, 2012

One Good Reason #2

Happy Meatless Monday!
Here's One Good Reason to go vegan for a day (or more!) -
I often hear people talking about conserving water, and while I'm all for low flow toilets, short showers, and turning off the water while I brush my teeth, the very most important thing I do every day to conserve water is to eat a plant-based diet instead of meat. According to studies reported by PETA, it takes an astonishing 2,400 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef, but only 25 gallons to produce a pound of wheat. Almost half the water used in the US goes to raising animals for food... "You save more water by not eating a pound of meat than you do by not showering for six months! A totally vegan diet requires only 300 gallons of water per day, while a typical meat-eating diet requires more than 4,000 gallons of water per day." (From PETA: Meat Production Wastes Natural Resources)

How about that?

Tonight I'm using up some good leftovers from the weekend. We had company, and I was too busy to photograph a new recipe for you, so today I want to steer you over to a recipe I posted a while back - Sweet Beans. As summer bar-b-que seasons rolls around, these good beans go great with all the vegan treats you toss on the grill, like veggies, tofu, tempeh, and veg-burgers. My original recipe calls for black beans, but I used pintos last night, and they were just as good. I'm going to revise the fried pineapple-kale that's shown with the beans, and see if I can make it just as tasty without the coconut oil. I bet I can!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Happy Pig Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don't bake often, but I've been on kind of a cookie kick lately. Rick is very happy about this. I was shopping online for a cookie jar the other day, because I thought it was just wrong to not have one, and I fell in love with a sweet vintage pig cookie jar on eBay. I don't really want a vintage pig cookie jar, because things tend to get broken around here, and just about anything vintage is simply too much responsibility... and too expensive, as it turns out, in the case of piggy cookie jars. I did a little scouting, and came up with a website offering replicas of all sorts of vintage kitchen things, and that's where I found my pig. I think she's just beautiful, and I can't wait for her to arrive. Get yours at Storybook Ceramics.

So now that I have a cookie jar on the way, I'll need to fill it with something. I know from experience that when I make cookies, we eat cookies, so they have to be healthy. I made a batch yesterday that, so far, pass everyone's taste tests. They're soft and a little bit cakey. Very tasty. And very healthy because they have no oil in them, and they're sweetened with maple syrup. I imagine I'll be sharing other versions of this recipe, but here it is at its starting point.

Oil Free Happy Pig Chocolate Chip Cookies

Wet Ingredients
Combine in a bowl:
2/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2/3 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla or peppermint extract (or 2 tsp orange extract)
1/3 cup water
2 T ground flaxseeds

Dry Ingredients
Combine in a large bowl:
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
3/4 cup buckwheat hot cereal (uncooked) or rolled oats
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp xanthan gun (you can do without this, but it helps hold a gluten free dough together)
1 cup vegan chocolate chips (or raisins or anything else you like in a cookie)
1 cup chopped walnuts - optional
If using orange extract, add a little cinnamon and nutmeg

Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Let chill in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350º.  Place spoonfuls of the chilled dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet, and flatten into a nice cookie shape. They won't do it on their own. Bake for about 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool a few minutes before removing from pan.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Avocado-Orange Salad Dressing

It's been coming at me from all directions for some time now, the idea that oils - even the "good" oils like olive and coconut - are not actually all that good for us. I've felt that as vegans, we leave enough out of our food already - all that yucky animal fat and cholesterol - that cooking with olive oil couldn't be a bad thing. I think perhaps I've been fooling myself, because adding fat to food, is, well, fattening. Want some convincing? Watch this short video from Jeff Novick. It'll make you think.

I've been running at least 3 times a week for almost 4 months now, and although I'm in better shape than when I started, I've only lost about 4 pounds. Dang, that seems unfair! I watched The Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue yesterday (you can stream it on Netflix), and that hunky fireman, Rip Esselstyn, from Forks Over Knives, convinced me to take another look at adding fat to my food.

I know some of my friends will just sigh and shake their heads, but I'm really excited. This is a fun challenge for me, to take the amazingly delicious vegan foods I already love, and make them even healthier (and slimmer) with some help from my recent Vegan Fusion chef training. Can the food around my house get any better? Yep, it sure can. My mission, starting today, is to see how little oil I can add to our food. This is not meant to mean "fat free." The human body needs fat, but we get plenty of it from whole, unprocessed foods. Oil, even olive oil, is processed, concentrated fat, so if I want the flavor of olives, I'll use olives, because they're still a whole food, filled with nice little nutrients and fiber.

To get me started, I tackled something we eat almost every day for lunch... salad. Nothing wrong with a big bowl of fresh crunchy veggies, but what about the dressing? Most of mine are oil based, so I had to do a little looking around for tasty oil-less dressings to make at home. I never buy bottled dressings. Never! Flipping through the book, Forks Over Knives, I spotted a recipe for Citrus Chile Dressing that looked good. Below is my version of it, and it's terrific.

Avocado-Orange Salad Dressing
1 cup orange juice
juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic
1 T maple syrup
1 T ground flaxseed
1 avocado
1-3 tsp chile powder, to taste
a little chipotle powder, to taste

Blend everything in the blender. Adjust seasonings. The flaxseed will thicken the dressing after about 5 minutes. The original recipe doesn't call for avocado, and it works great either way. The addition of avo adds some lovely, truly healthy fat, and a richness that's often missing from totally fat free dressings. It changes the color from bright orange to a more brownish orange, but who cares? This is great on a salad with black beans, corn, tomatoes, black olives, and maybe even a little more avocado. Mmmm... real food!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Meatless Monday - One Good Reason #1

Since I'm meatless every day, I don't think much about Meatless Mondays, but I do want to encourage anyone who still eats meat to consider going without it just one day a week... for starters! I realize a lot of people don't have the time or interest to read entire books on the subject, or even to watch some of the really enlightening films on a vegan diet's effects on our health, animal welfare, and the health of the planet herself. But for those people, maybe just one good reason, one at a time, would be enough to get some curiosity going. So today I'm starting a new "feature" here on PV, called... One Good Reason! I'll pop in with these now and then, whenever the mood strikes me, and I think most especially on Mondays. So here we go...

One Good Reason (to go vegan) #1:

"Growing meat (it’s hard to use the word “raising” when applied to animals in factory farms) uses so many resources that it’s a challenge to enumerate them all. But consider: an estimated 30 percent of the earth’s ice-free land is directly or indirectly involved in livestock production, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, which also estimates that livestock production generates nearly a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases — more than transportation."

This is from a 2008 article in the NY Times, so it might actually be worse now... So how can we turn this into a positive? By whipping up a batch of Black Bean Burgers! I got this recipe from my son's girlfriend, and I wouldn't change much about it, except to maybe add a little extra flaxseed, and maybe some rolled oats to give them a bit more body. It's a really flexible recipe, so feel free to change the seasonings to suit your tastes. See? Meatless Mondays might be more fun than you thought!

Delicious looking photo gratefully borrowed from Eat, Live, Run, where you'll find this recipe for  Boyfriend-Approved Spicy Black Bean Burgers. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Happy Mother's Day! I won't be seeing my kids today, but I'm proud as can be to be their mom. I'll be celebrating veg-style here, by vegging out a bit, cooking some good vegan food, and maybe going to a movie with my darlin' Rick this afternoon.

I'm also celebrating another little blogging triumph. My post from the other day, Eating With Friends, will in the spotlight on BlogHer on Friday, as as featured member post on the Food page. I just love it when I get these little bits of attention. Sure, it's great for my ego, but that's not what's important. The cool part is that it brings more attention to what I'm up to out there, which is raising non-vegans' awareness about the many benefits of a vegan diet, and also, as my friend Paul Graham says, "building bridges" between people of all kinds, who eat all sorts of food. Can we all share a table and a healthy plant-based meal and still be happy? Of course we can! And I'm so grateful to the editors at BlogHer for helping me get the word out.

To take bridge building a step further, I have a loosely formed idea to host a Positively Vegan Potluck at my house once a month. It will be for vegans, omnivores, and everyone in between, but all the food will be vegan. The idea is to encourage anyone who's even the tiniest bit interested or curious to try going vegan - for just one meal a month.

I think it might also work to hold a mini class an hour or so before the party. I could teach some simple recipes and techniques, build my teaching confidence, and maybe have Rick catch bits of it all on video, so we can share it online too.

Mostly, the potlucks are meant to be fun and social, with no vegan evangelizing, no propaganda flyers, and no judgement. But in the process of finding and making vegan recipes, I have a feeling a certain amount of self-education will happen automatically. And once people start to learn more about all the reasons behind the current and growing vegan-mania, and taste more and more delicious vegan dishes, well, who knows... maybe some people will go all crazy and start having a vegan meal every week, or adopt entire Meatless Mondays into their homes, or dare I hope, go all out vegan someday. But reaching my mind that far into the future is pointless and silly. Basically, I want to throw a party, and I want everyone to have fun and to be well-fed. So the wheels are turning, and the planning is in the works. I'll keep you posted.

Happy Mother's Day to all of us, and our animal friends, living together on our Mother Earth.

Thank you, IDA Blog, for the lovely picture, and for your Vegan Earth Day Outreach post, which reminds us that, "A 2010 Report from the United Nations International Panel of Sustainable Resource Management strongly urges a global shift to a plant-based diet to both feed a hungry world and greatly reduce environmental impacts like global warming."

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Eating With Friends - Beanloaf and Gravy

I've been thinking about putting together a class called something like, "A Vegan is Coming to Dinner. Help! What Do I Feed It?" I think there are lots of people out there who have new vegans in their lives, whether it's friends, or co-workers, or kids coming home from college. It can be confusing, I know. And I think a simple one or two day class could do a lot to fill in some of the blanks for people who are used to centering a meal around a piece of meat.

I'll start working on that soon I think, but last night I found myself faced with the opposite side of the coin, and not for the first time. We have relatives visiting, and they're devoted, unapologetic meat eaters. I wanted to please them, but was not willing to compromise my own personal ethics to do so. The challenge in these situations is to come up with something that's just like what the beloved omnivores are used to eating, but to make it out of plants. Nothing weird, nothing too exotic, and certainly no seaweed.

My solution to last night's Welcome To Taos Dinner... Beanloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, and Salad. It was a hit. And it felt really good to find some common dietary ground, and to come up with a meal that was satisfying to all, and might even get these guys thinking that the vegan life might not be so crazy after all.

To recreate this dinner yourself, make a big salad and stash it in the fridge. I imagine you also already know how to make mashed potatoes. For this meal, I boiled equal parts potatoes and cauliflower, and whipped it all up as usual, for less starch, and more nutrients. The only thing anybody noticed was that it was good!

The Beanloaf is ever evolving. I like it the way it is now, but will probably keep tinkering with it, as beanloaves, and bean burgers too, have a tendency to fall apart more than I want them to. Try this though. It's very tasty!

1 can each pinto and black beans, partially mashed (or about 1 1/2 cups each if you cook them from dry)
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup dry rolled oats
2 cups chopped fresh mushrooms - any kind you like
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup arrowroot
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp pepper, or to taste

Mix everything together well, with your hands, and let it sit for 5 minutes or so, so the chia seeds can do their gelling magic. Feel free to taste the mixture and adjust the seasonings. Since there's no meat, it can all be eaten raw. Nice perk to vegan cooking!

Place in a well oiled loaf pan, and bake at 350º for about an hour. Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting, and use a spatula to help serve. While the Beanloaf is baking, make the gravy. So far, everyone who tries it says this is the best gravy they've ever had. I could just eat a bowl of it...

Mushroom Gravy - this is my spin on Mark Reinfeld's original recipe, which can be found in The 30-Minute Vegan, on page 236.

1 yellow onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, diced
2 cups fresh mushrooms, chopped (I like baby portobellos)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
about 1-2 T dry or fresh herbs to taste - try basil, thyme, sage, oregano
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup tamari
1/4 cup brown rice flour - most other kinds of flour will work too
1/4 cup oil - try organic sunflower or olive
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion, garlic, and mushrooms in a little oil, over medium heat, until the onions are soft and transparent. Stir in the nutritional yeast and herbs, then the broth, wine, and tamari.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and oil. Gradually add the flour-oil mixture to the gravy, stirring over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat and stir until it thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve it up with the beanloaf and potatoes, and be sure to eat your greens. Get that salad out of the fridge and fill half your plate with it! Enjoy! 

Here's to eating with friends!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

PV is on Facebook!

Are you on Facebook? I've created a new page, just for Positively Vegan. I felt like it was time to separate the beads from the beans, so now I have two "Fan Pages" on Facebook. Come on over and "Like" them please! PositivelyVegan, and KimMiles.

I know you're hungry for some new recipes. I'll have something tasty for you soon! I've been playing in the kitchen a lot since I got home, re-creating some of my favorite recipes from class and adjusting them to make them easier and more suited to my tastes. Sometimes I have to make the same dish several times to get it the way I want it, and then I make it again at the right time of day to get good pictures. Rick is a good sport though. He never complains about eating the same thing three days in a row. What a sweetie!

See you back here soon, and on Facebook too!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

At the End of a Vegan Road Trip

When we started our trip to Seattle a few weeks ago, I posted here about some of the preparations we made, in order to make vegan traveling easy. Such organization, such good intentions, such big plans. It all seemed good in theory... Here's the shot of the back of our neatly packed car, on our first day out, when we stopped in Durango to make up a nice salad for lunch.

The salad making happened exactly once. Pre-chopped veggies didn't stay cold enough in the plug-in cooler, and the ice chest was full of drinks. We ended up munching on carrot sticks and hummus, as carrots are a much sturdier vegetable than lettuce, and there's no bowl required. Nuts and chips made up the rest of our drive-day diet, along with water and the occasional coffee stop, always refilling our beloved insulated Kleen Kanteens. These are at the very top of the packing list whenever we travel. In fact, we use these every day at home, and rarely leave the house without them.

When visiting unfamiliar cities, Happy Cow can be a terrific "friend in town," who can point you right to all the veg-friendly restaurants in the area. You can get their app for your phone too. And if you're lucky enough to have an actual vegan friend in a place you're visiting, make use of them! We did just that in Las Vegas, when we took my friend Paul Graham's advice and took the time to go to Pura Vida for breakfast before we hit the highway in the morning. Paul writes the blog Eating Vegan in Vegas, and he knows his way around that crazy town's restaurants. Pura Vida was a high point on our trip, and certainly worth a little detour off the Strip next time you're in Vegas.

By the time we got to the Grand Canyon on our way home, all hope for organization was lost. We brought all our food into the hotel room, which fortunately had a fridge for our juice, hemp milk, and hummus. We ate granola and fruit for breakfast, and made peanut butter sandwiches to take with us as we explored the park. Not fancy, but not bad either.

Dinners were a weird mish-mosh of cafeteria food not even worth mentioning. Two bright little lights on the Grand Canyon dining scene though were the vegan and vegetarian items on the menu at El Tovar. We didn't eat there, since it requires a reservation and a certain amount of dressing up and acting civilized. We just didn't have it in us at that point in the trip, but we were very happy to see that somebody must be listening to the traveling vegans of the world, who are apparently visiting our national parks and asking for something besides steak and burgers.

Back on the road a few days later, another sanity and blood sugar saver was good old Subway, which these days can be found at most Travel Centers (which I think used to be called Truck Stops). As of today, they claim "36,752 restaurants in 100 countries," which means we have a decent vegan alternative to typical fast food. Choose your bread, load up the veggies, pickles, olives, and peppers, choose mustard and vinegar over cheese and mayo, and you have a road trip meal you can feel good about.

Another less well-known sandwich place is Togo's, which seems to be a west coast, mostly California, operation. I remember when the first Togo's opened in San Jose in 1971. No one had ever seen sandwiches like these, and it looked like business was booming from the very start. When we ran across this old favorite, right next door to a Subway, I convinced Rick to give it a try, and he was glad I did. We had wraps this time, but I can sure vouch for the sandwiches too.

On our last day out, as we drove through Arizona and New Mexico, I spent a lot of time making lists. While it's fresh in my mind, I want to make notes on what to pack for the next trip, and also what not to pack. Not only food related things, but clothes and books and stuff in general. We really don't need as much as we think we do, and the fact that we're traveling by car doesn't mean we have to fill it up. Vegan travel, like vegan life, can be so simple. I'm on a mission to fine tune the way I do this. For me, that means taking a whole lot less of everything when I head out into the world... including shoes...