Tag Archives: vegan

Thanksgiving Leftovers Casserole!

I received complimentary products from Pacific Foods. They did not ask me to write a post, nor is this post sponsored. My (positive) opinion is my own.

Every now and then Pacific Foods sends me a variety of products to sample, and I honestly have had the Organic Vegan Mushroom Gravy they sent me in my pantry for almost a year now! But what better occasion to use gravy than right after Thanksgiving, when leftovers are abound? My mom sent me home with plenty, plus a bag of fresh Brussels sprouts. When I got back to Boston on Sunday, I could hardly wait to get this casserole prepped!

Once my casserole was in its pan I just put it in the fridge, and the next night I put it in the oven and I was ready to chow! Plus I ended up with leftovers…of these leftovers. Does that qualify as inception?

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WIAW: Taste of Nature Bar Giveaway!

I received complimentary samples of Taste of Nature bars to review. This is not a sponsored post and my opinions are my own.

This post is not about the type of bar folks usually associate me with. No cocktails here, just what cocktails usually lead to – snacks! Taste of Nature reached out to me to ask if I’d be interested in doing a blog post about their bars, and once I checked out the flavor variety and the nutrition facts, I was 100% on board. Plus they’re up for doing a giveaway with five winners, which is rare to find in the blog world and something I didn’t want you guys to miss out on!

The perfect giveaway for a WIAW link-up!

Regular readers probably already know this: I’m not that into bars as a daytime snack. But night time? Let me at ’em! I love crumbling all manner of goodies into my sugar-free chemical-laden vice (Jello Chocolate Pudding) and enjoying my snack after dinner, in bed, with a book. The Taste of Nature bars made for a nice evening snack because they’re full of a nice balance of healthy fats, fiber, and protein – plus not too much sugar. That’s the number one thing I look for in a bar, even before I look at its calorie count (not that I want to be focused on that…)

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Two Marvelous Homes

This past weekend was spent in both of my marvelous homes – Boston and Connecticut. Even before I made my move I knew I’d be coming home for Penelope‘s first birthday party, which was on Saturday (the same day as her actual birthday). So I spent Friday night in Boston and Saturday night in Glastonbury. I told friends in Beantown that I would be “going home” Saturday, but then I told friends in CT that I was going “back home” on Sunday. I haven’t stopped calling Connecticut home, but I’m already calling Boston home too. Who says I can’t have two?

This link up of marvelous is brought to you by Katie!

Marvelous was…a date with a blend. Annie and I have hung out several times in a group setting but we’ve been wanting to get together for a heart to heart for awhile now. Finally, Friday night, we made it happen. She suggested what ended up being a great spot, City Landing. The restaurant was so extremely accommodating for both vegan and gluten-free diets, but also offered plenty for those following no specific diet. Our bartender was so awesome – when we asked her to take a picture of us she took several, did the “above angle”, and positioned our drinks (which were amazing) so that they showed in the photo. I will definitely be making a return visit to City Landing; Annie and I especially want to bring Greg!

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Back In Town

Tonight is New Year’s Eve, and I wish I could say I’m going into it ready to enjoy myself, but I’m experiencing lots of hesitation about my plans for the evening. I don’t have super-high expectations of a special New Year’s Eve; I learned long ago not to hope for “that magical night”. But my plans involve dinner at Bricco Trattoria then celebrating at Rooftop120. I’m going to be with my siblings and some of my oldest friends. I need to be excited! But New Year’s Eve out after trips to NYC and Florida, which happened to fall around the food-and-drink-heavy Christmas season, just has me thinking about calories. And the poor workout I will have the next day if I feel even the slightest bit hungover.

I got in almost all of the restaurant trips I wanted to this vacation. I already mentioned Chick-fil-A and Duffy’s. I also got to have a healthy plant-based lunch at Christopher’s Kitchen, got my Quizno’s fix in the airport during the trip home, had a special dinner at Seasons 52 with my family, Kat, and her sister, and got to take my sister and good friend Greg to the Rum Bar for some tropical beverages. And though TooJay’s was out of black and white cookies on Christmas Day, I got one later!

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It’s Only Natural Vegetarian Restaurant Giveaway!

A huge thanks to all my supports who helped my blog’s FB page hit – and surpass – the 600 like milestone yesterday! My next milestone goal is 4,000 followers on Twitter and I am currently at 3,917 – so close! So if you’d like to throw a follow (or 83) my way, I wouldn’t object 😉 I’m so thankful for all of those that continue to support me!

I’ve been to It’s Only Natural – a popular vegetarian restaurant in downtown Middletown, CT – many times. My area does not have many vegetarian/vegan restaurants, so every meal there feels special. The food is always unique and fresh.

My last visit was unfortunately, while delicious, also slow and sullen thanks to a waitress who was overstaffed but also making no effort to apologize for the speed of service or make customers feel welcome. I was there with Kaitlin, who elaborated on that negative part of our visit on her blog.

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WIAW: Additional Florida Edition

Oo bet that title confused you just a little bit, huh? Stay quick on your feet folks, because this post will be speedy. I miss blogging so much and have not felt at all satisfied with what I have had time to post which is not much. I had a nice chat with my girl Meg about this yesterday – I also miss reading and commenting on all of YOUR wonderful blogs. But it also doesn’t do me any good to place stress on myself and try to make time for everything, because then what I do end up doing will suffer. I would rather do a few things to my best ability, and right now my top priorities are school and (alas, as much as I hate to say it) work. Hey, I gotta pay the restaurant bills. I have so much more than just FL vacation food recaps to share – there’s a lot of feelings associated with that food and the vacation and my birthday. I hope I will get to go deeper into that soon.

For now though I’m going to quickly use What I Ate Wednesday to recap my eats during my latest vacation to Florida. Alas I haven’t even had time to upload my camera photos so I only have Instagram photos to share for now but will try to share camera pics later when I discuss my feelings on the vacation food/drinks. I’ve recapped FL eats before in this photo-dump manner and it seemed to work well! So let’s get this Jenn-hosted party underway. I landed in Florida on Sunday afternoon 3/24 after some bothersome flight delays, and wasted no time stocking our condo with…provisions.

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For Love of Fairfield

I’ve already showed Kaitlin (of For Love of Carrots) my turf, and the time came this past weekend for her to show me hers – Fairfield County! I visited her from Saturday evening to Sunday afternoon and she showed me a great time. Then again, I knew she would since our tastes are so similar! Prime example number one – we both wore black tops, black shoes, jeans, and statement necklaces to dinner.

Saturday Night


I borrowed the necklace from Kaitlin, the queen of statement necklaces!

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Floridian Blends

My $50 Mohegan Sun gift card giveaway in honor of their Restaurant Week ends tonight! Hurry and get your entries in!

My lovely lady blend and Florida resident Brittany of Go The Extra Mile was home for her winter break while I was visiting Florida last week, in the same general area. Um, hello meet-up! We knew we’d be in the same place around Christmas-time since we got to talking during the Chobani dinner at HLS in August, so we’ve been psyched for our December meetup for several months. And it did not disappoint.

Brittany and I were seatmates at the Chobani dinner!

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Tuesday Treasures: Foodie Edition

I’m so happy that you all enjoyed my recap of the CT NOW Love Your Body 5K! Not only am I proud to have run it in less than 30 minutes, but I am still feeling inspired by the message behind the event. Being surrounded by so many others who share my passion for self love is pretty powerful.

I went to visit Heather a couple of weeks ago (you can read about some of our shenanigans on her blog) and came home with some amazing new memories created with her, her boyfriend Matty, and her best friend Raquel. But I also came home with far less money (lose) and a crapload of foodie treasures (win). Obviously I decided to share said treasures with you today just so I could use alliteration in this post title.

Of course whenever visiting Heather, we make it a point to visit Wildflour, a vegan bakery, cafe, and juice bar, while blogging in bliss. The vegan eats at this place are incredible and if you are ever in the Providence, RI area, I highly recommend passing on any of the restaurants by the mall and making the short drive to Pawtucket, RI to visit Wildflour (and the vegan restaurant next door, Garden Grille). Whenever I go there I leave with $30-$50 worth of goodies to take home and devour (as slowly as I can because I want it to last). This trip was no different. Here’s my haul:

  • a slice of whole wheat cheese-less butternut squash & broccoli flatbread
  • pineapple coconut jerky (YES)
  • raw garlic tomato kale chips (so far I’ve tried this flavor, garlic, and pizza…must try salt & vinegar and nacho still)
  • soba noodles with slaw (bottom left)
  • tofu tuna-style salad topped with carrots, served over greens (bottom right)

I threw MANY of these goodies into my lunch salad beasts and am in fact still working through the soba noodles (my first time having them and they are very interesting but it’s taking me awhile to use them since I’m not a huge noodle person). Pictured above is the entire container of the tofu “tuna” salad, thrown into a bowl and amped up with more greens and veggies. It was incredible!

I dreamed of dipping the pineapple coconut jerky into plain Chobani from the moment I purchased it, and that’s just what I did for a nighttime snack. However I was foolish to think the four pieces of jerky above would be enough with all that Chobani. I ended up polishing off the whole bag on that fine evening 🙂

The flatbread was a great carby option for me this past Saturday when my stomach wasn’t feeling well, and I enjoyed half the kale chips on the way home from Heather’s (great road trip snack) and half at work one day while at my desk typing away.

I’ve tried the Dino Smoothie (almond butter, banana, almond milk, spinach, kale, blueberry) at Wildflour before and though I ADORE it, I wanted to go for something new and had a mean green craving! So this time while blogging there I snacked on the Sillyantro (spinach, kale, parsley, cucumber, OJ, ginger). The ginger was just what my sensitive stomach  needed and the OJ was the perfect hint of fruit to balance out those greens. I wish a juice bar like this existed near me!

I always get a large black slow-pour coffee and vegan scone to keep me company as I blog with Heather, but they didn’t have my usual (spinach and mushroom) that day. No worries, another savory beauty awaited me…the above broccoli cheddar (vegan of course) scone. Holy moly! I always dip my scone in that heavenly coffee and was happy to try a new flavor.

Wildflour was also bustin’ out the free samples that day. I’m not a huge raspberry fan but the above gluten-free razberry cheesecake brownie sample rocked my world. The real star though was a sample of this beauty…

That seems like a steep price but I’d say it’s worth every penny. The above pumpkin cheesecake is made with tofu and Heather promised it’d make me swoon. My BB never breaks a promise!

The two of us also made a fun little trip to Whole Foods, where I happened upon a gem I’ve been anxiously awaiting to try since I first heard about it a month ago…the limited edition Cedar’s PUMPKIN SPICE HUMMUS! I also purchased two squeeze packs of Justin’s Honey and Vanilla Almond Butters – perfect for sampling these new-to-me flavors. Heather also gifted me with a jar of garlic-stuffed olives she had at her house, because she knows olive garlic (haaaaa).

I have been dipping many-a-vegetable into the hummus. So incredible. I love dipping savory food into a slightly-sweet dip. Last night I was even dipping chicken into it.

I was pretty proud of the below epic snack combo that I came up with at work one day last week. I peeled the banana, put vanilla almond butter on each bite, and topped it off a pretzel stick. Legendary! I just finished the vanilla yesterday and next up will be the honey AB.

Finally, Heather, Matty, and I ventured to Trader Joe’s right before I went home so that she could do some grocery shopping and I could shop for things I didn’t need.

  • BBQ Popped Potato Chips – SO MANY CHIPS IN A SERVING #win
  • Nacho Kale Chips – Only $4…the Wildflour bag I got was about $8. Just to give you an idea of how crazy this deal is.
  • Savory Thin Mini Edamame Crackers – These kinda remind me of rice crackers. We’ll see how they are!
  • Balela Middle Eastern Salad – All things Caitlin. Chickpeas, cilantro, tomatoes, black beans, and fabulous flavor. This stuff has made it into all my salads and I’ll be sad when it goes bye-bye.
  • Olive Tapenade – WOW I love olives and this has been great in my salads, on bread, on meat, you name it. Another sad face when this guy goes.
  • Hot & Sweet Mustard – I’ve heard so much about this gem from many favorite bloggers like Katie! I am a mustard fiend and am gonna bust this open when I finish my current jar.

And okay, I was in Massachusetts in the company of TJ’s wine. So much CHEAP wine. In CT, our grocery stores can’t sell wine (we only just got Sunday sales, talk about behind on the times). So I picked up the above three bottles of Charles Shaw (Cabernet, Merlot, Shiraz) for $2.99 each and the Blue Fin 2011 Pinot Noir for $3.99. You may recall that I sampled the Cab recently and was super impressed. Can’t wait to give the Merlot and Shiraz a spin. Also had the Pinot Noir and wow, I sure can see why it was a whole dollar more expensive 😛 GREAT stuff and I don’t even usually like Pinot Noir (too light).

Mother-daughter wine glass sizes 🙂

FINALLY my last Tuesday treasure in foodie land is the below gem from my town’s farmers’ market. I spontaneously stopped by on Saturday after the 5K (notice my Team #AmazingMe tee!) since it’s right by my usual weekend study spot, Daybreak Coffee Roasters. Can you believe this guy was just $3?! He was in a bucket with a bunch of other smaller butternut squash that were the same price. NO brainer, I picked out the biggest squash in the pile! Just to make my girl Lisa proud of me. And apparently it was the last day of the market so good thing I stopped by! Hello fate.

Oh how I love a vegetable that’s bigger than my head.

My mom is away for the week but once she returns, we have big plans for this big squash. I hear that the skin tastes tres gross so does anyone have any tips on easy squash peeling-and-roasting? Who has some recipes I can try? I already know I want to do quesadillas but need more ideas because this is one big squash!

Which of my Wildflour goodies would you like to munch (or sip) on most?

What was your last gem of a find from Whole Foods and/or TJ’s?

Tell me about your most recent farmers’ market purchase!

Here Comes a Fighter

Have you entered my Mohegan Sun BrewFest giveaway yet? Don’t forget – you could win two passes to this weekend’s beer bonanza! Giveaway closes tomorrow (Wednesday 10/3) at 12PM EST.

Geez, so far fall has been extremely busy in terms of my full-time job!By the time I got home last night from my post-work gym session all I wanted to do was sit on the couch with my mom and watch the season premiere of Grey’s on the DVR with dinner. And wine. So that’s what I did – no blog post.

My setup at Art With a Twist in New Haven, CT!

But now I’m ready to blog about this past Saturday. As I mentioned in Sunday’s brief giveaway post, I have a lot to say! The day started out in typical Caitlin fashion – spin class and #plankaday, a few hours of much-needed study time at Daybreak. Then I hit the road for New Haven to have a date with Maria of Pappa Don’t Preach! We’ve never been able to do a good one-on-one hangout before, but we are two peas in a pod and I’m so grateful to have met her through blogging. She drove all the way from Stamford to meet me at Art With a Twist for a BYOB painting class! We used a Groupon🙂 of course.

Maria listening to our instructor, the fabulous Bella Zadore.

Maria did a great job sharing more photos of Art With a Twist’s lovely location, and info about the business itself, in her recap! We decided to go sweet on the booze and shared Riesling and champagne. Thanks Maria for introducing me to Asti! It was delicious.

Everyone painted the same illustration, but then everyone’s came out looking different. My water turned out a bit sickly looking, and Maria pointed out that I was just trying to paint the Long Island Sound. Truth.

Pondering the sounds of the Sound…champagne in hand.

I also must’ve still had BlogHer on the brain because my palm trees looked like Lorax mustaches.

Lorax #1

Lorax #2. He’s unimpressed. Source

I was doing a little too much hating on my painting, so Bella sprinkled me with confetti as “punishment”. Okay okay, I complained on purpose so that I could get showered in confetti. Who doesn’t love that?!

There’s a 30% chance it’s already raining.

I had a great time chatting with Maria about our gym sessions that morning (of course) and also taught her how to take silly photos. She deemed me a silly photo queen. I am honored!

Help me take silly photos, Caitlin!

Don’t mind if I do!

How amazing are the “men/women” signs for the bathrooms?! Bella is so creative! She decorated everything in Art With a Twist herself.

Blogger in action.

Despite the fact that my painting did not look like Bella’s, I’m gonna refrain from saying that it wasn’t as good as Bella’s. After all, she wasn’t painting the Long Island Sound!

It’s beauuuuutiful!

Stealing this from Maria’s post…BYO-Blend!

You are what you…paint?

After class we hit up 116 Crown for a pre-dinner cocktail. Because when you’ve been drinking since 2:30PM, why stop?

I ordered the Negroni!

Unfortunately before I could even get to the point of ordering, I had to wait outside with Maria for 15 minutes because we arrived at 4:45PM and they weren’t open yet. It’s fine, another opportunity to practice her silly photo taking!

Let me at the cocktails!

Why am I not drinking a cocktail right now?!

Once we were seated and with drinks in hand, our kind bartender (and very patient I might add, we had SO many drink ingredient questions) took some awesome above-view photos of us 😀

I love the modern “pod” seating!

It was my second time at 116 Crown in September (and ever). I’ll definitely be back! It’d take me eons to work through that drink menu.

Falafel, hummus, cucumber yogurt sauce, pita.

By the time we got to the ultimate dinner destination, Red Lentil, I was staaarving! I’ve been pumped to try the place because it offers unique vegan/vegetarian dishes and had gotten a rave review from Heather. Maria and I started with the appetizer special, the above falafel platter. Be still my heart! It was excellent. I also had the beet-sweet potato-apple latkes. The picture looks totally ugly but they tasted the opposite of ugly.

They may or may not have been equated to “bad weed” in an Instagram comment.

After dinner, I hit the road…but I didn’t head back home like I thought I’d be doing when I woke up that morning. Instead, I responded to a spontaneous text I received during the paint class, inviting me to the Full Moon Onyx Moonshine Party at Taqueria Tavern in West Hartford.

Onyx is an awesome local CT company. I love local, I love booze, and I love unique marketing. Onyx Moonshine has all three of those on its side! You may remember that I worked with them at the Farm to Shaker Bartender Challenge as a cocktail competition judge!

The party included many delicious Onyx drink specials (I had a cinnamon infused Onyx on the rocks that was to die for) and a super-spicy wing eating contest. The photo above includes the two Onyx founders Pete and Adam, and between them is the winner of the wing-eating contest, Judson!

Judson and his winnings!

Judson is a champ. He decided to enter the contest THAT day! He also happens to be the boyfriend of my friend JenniferThey’re an adorable couple.

Jennifer and I!

I took a bite of one of the wings (DUMB) and my mouth was on fire for almost an hour afterward! I don’t know how these champs did it! JD of Ripe Bar Juice (also from the Cocktail Competition at the Coventry Farmer’s Market) ordered me up a Kahlua drink made with Onyx, and it certainly coated my mouth with some cooling dairy and helped stop the burn.

JD is fearing the wing!

I’m realizing right now that this post is really long and I am only just now getting to the part of it that I have been wanting to write for the last couple of days. This was a long day. I was drinking from 2:30PM to about 10:30PM. I definitely did some chip nomming at the Mexican restaurant. That Kahlua drink most definitely had whole milk in it. I didn’t get home until 11:30PM. The day may have started out Caitlin-style, but it didn’t end that way.

And as fate would have it, the beautiful Becki has started an October challenge that I decided today to join, because it fits with what I want to say today and what I want to DO for myself for the rest of the month and beyond. You can read the details here, but it entails 10 minutes a day of meditating on why you are AMAZING.

I woke up in the middle of the night on Saturday after having gone to that party in a panic. I was about to go get my mother out of bed and pour out my heart. I felt worthless. I felt guilty. I felt like I didn’t deserve to have the fun Saturday I’d just had.

But instead of going to get my mom, I took a deep breath. I lay in my bed in corpse pose and tried a calming tactic that has worked for me before. I breathed in and out, and after each breath I said out loud something from my #AmazingMe list. In, out. “I worked out yesterday.” In, out. “I had a wonderful time.” In, out. “I did something I knew would put me out of my comfort zone.” In, out, until I fell back asleep.

After all, only #AmazingMe could have made this painting!

I woke up on Sunday morning still feeling, to put it bluntly, like a piece of shit. I was proud of myself for having worked through my mid-night anxiety on my own, but was still being bombarded by the most hateful, mean thoughts. I went to the gym – yes, partially because I felt like I wanted to get in a workout to “make up” for the previous night. But also because I wanted to be powerful, feel strong, and do something that I enjoyed. I even putzed around the house for a bit before hitting the gym instead of dashing there like I usually do on weekend mornings, because I just wanted to wait it out and go to the Sunday morning spin class, which always leaves me feeling refreshed and has the BEST music. I did a lot of singing-and-spinning that morning.

I took a little social media vacation. I went on Instagram for a second, and realized the last thing I wanted to see was peoples’ food and workouts. Sometimes I’m okay with that stuff, but sometimes it triggers me like crazy. I tweeted that I was going to spend the day doing nothing except what makes me feel good. Then I stayed away from Twitter for most of the day.

After the gym, I took a long, slow, hot shower. I had a date to study with Jenny at J. Rene Coffee Roasters in West Hartford, and was still going because seeing Jenny and drinking coffee in a unique cafe does NOTHING but make me feel good, but I decided to take it slow. I decided not to be go-go-go to the next appointment on my “agenda”. I closed my eyes and sang in the shower, because that felt great. And while I was getting ready to go, Avril Lavigne “With You” came on my playlist and I suddenly got the urge to just dance around my room like a half ballerina, half hip-hop queen. I felt like it’d make me feel good. So, that’s what I did.

Even right now as I write this I am overwhelmed with pride over how much self love I practiced this past Sunday. Almost every activity I did, every action I took, I stopped and asked myself, “Is this what I want to do?” If it wasn’t, I didn’t do it. I still felt the hateful thoughts coming at me from every direction. But I was on a mission to medicate and heal their damage with something other than restricting, than over-exercising. I didn’t want to lose another battle.

At the end of Sunday evening as I lay in bed listening to an inspiring NPR interview recommended to me by Jenny, coloring with my Sharpies, inhaling my Pumpkin Buttercream Yankee Candle, I felt at peace. Again, I still had mean thoughts popping up in my head. I still felt a bit miserable. But getting past this is going to come in increments, and any little peace I can give myself means the world to me and makes me feel proud.

An evening of serenity.

What this all comes down to (I felt a bit word vomit-y as I wrote this but I just kinda let it flow), is the following: Yes, I was beating myself up all Sunday for having a spontaneous Saturday night. BUT I did not curl up in a ball and hide. I did not obsess over how I’d “make up” for what I had “done wrong”. I did not try to punish myself by letting my mind just sit back and take the negative thoughts. Instead I tried to HEAL myself from their damage by practicing self love and doing things that soothed me and taking it easy. I took it easy on myself, and as a result, felt like a fighter. I still feel like one! I didn’t feel that way a couple weekends ago in Tennessee, but this time I feel like I have come out successful in this battle. You lose some, you win some. And hopefully this is the start of continuing to win some!

Have you ever been to a unique BYOB activity or partaken in a crazy food contest?

What do you think about Becki’s Leaf Your Negativity Behind challenge? Who’s with me?!

Tell me a way you recently practiced self love!