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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Southwest Garbanzo Pita Sandwich

"The plastic on your sandwich really doesn't have to be made to last 50 years."
 - Charles Moore

Hello my friend.  May you be blessed with smiles and positive thoughts the entire day through.

How is the "almost vegan" thing going?  Tiffany and I have lots of dairy products to cycle through but we'll get there.  No-fat Greek yogurt in the fridge and too many frozen wedges of cheese in the freezer.  It's going to be quite a while until we get there but one step at a time, okay?  The good news?  I won't be buying anymore dairy-based products any longer (except when dining out on occasion).  That's a good first move, right?

Garbanzo Pita Sandwich
I decided to make a 1/2 pita sandwich for lunch this past Friday.  A quick something that I had concocted to use up some goat cheese before it spoiled.  Nothing extravagant but quite delicious.  I know, I know... it's not vegan when dairy cheese is utilized.  I was just trying to get rid of some remaining cheese.  Besides, it's not going to be replaced with a dairy product in my refrigerator.

The good news?  My mind is already planning ahead for the vegan version of this Garbanzo Pita sandwich.  I'll share that with you when I've made and tested it.  In the meantime, here is the recipe for a vegetarian version.  If you wish to make it vegan, simply use vegan cheese instead.

Now, doesn't this look tasty?
GARBANZO PITA SANDWICH (vegetarian version)

Serving Size:  1 pita = 2 sandwiches

  • 1 whole wheat pita bread
  • 1/2 can (7.75 oz) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup fresh salsa
  • 2 oz crumbled goat cheese
  1. Mix drained garbanzo beans, salsa, and crumbled cheese in bowl.  Stir well to mix.
  2. While flavors in bowl are melding, heat pita bread in microwave for approximately 20-seconds to warm.
  3. Slice pita bread in half and use butter knife to open (separate) each pita half.
  4. Using half of mixed filling, fill pita half.
  5. Enjoy at room temperature or slightly warm the sandwich prior to eating.
Tiffany and I each had a sandwich on Friday for lunch.  This with a cup of Vegan Posole Soup was incredible!  My goal was, is and continues to be minimally processed food.

Nutrition (serving size = 1/2 pita)
Hi-dee hi-dee make-yourself-a-pita-sandwich-today-ho my friend.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Small Vegan Steps

"I am not a vegetarian because I love animals; I am a vegetarian because I hate plants."
 - A. Whitney Brown

Hello everyone.  May the sunshine sneak past any clouds that surround you and provide a little warmth.

I thought that perhaps a few words are in order.  Nothing spectacular to share.  Let's call it an update, okay?
Last night's pulp (not juice) meal?  1/2 green apple, 1 large carrot and 1 cup broccoli I believe.  Tiffany picked it out of our new juicing book and told me the ingredients but I haven't a good memory.  Chucky's motto is, "I cannot remember whether I have Alzheimer's."

None of the latest concoctions can stand up to a Tiffany's Green Smoothie but all choices have been digestible and filling so far.  The only thing taking Tiffany and I some getting used to is the consistency of pulping (using whole fruit in a Blendtec) as opposed to using a juicer.  Last night's dinner was somewhere half-way between applesauce and a slightly thickened juice, fluid but fibrous.  If not for the innate ability of the human body to dissimilate nutrition from waste, we'd quickly migrate to juicing.

If I were able to utilize all of the juicing by-product in another raw form, we would quickly dust off the Breville juicer.  I simply refuse to toss the juicer's waste into the compost bin.  There's simply too much additional nutrition being tossed away!  Of course, there exists the beauty of the pulp-free juice.

In other plans, Tiffany and I are seriously considering an almost totally vegan lifestyle.  In a two-phase approach, we first plan to use those dairy items that we currently have on-hand (free range eggs, no-fat yogurt, cheeses, etc.).  We have both agreed to switch to vegan alternatives as we deplete our existing food stuffs.  Ultimately, we will only consume animal based products on those rare occasions which we dine out.  For example, an egg white omelet at Maitland Breakfast Club or an egg white breakfast sandwich at Subway.

Our approach will become eating animal based foods only on rare occasion.  To make this the exception rather than the rule.  Who knows?  Maybe we can eventually ween ourselves off of eggs and dairy completely?

Why this sudden change in our vegetarian tactics?  The more we've researched, the more we've read, and the more we've investigated; we have finally opened our eyes (and brains) to conclude that most of life's ailments can ultimately be tied to human consumption of animal based products.  Even GMO's are now scaring the hell out of me!  Only in the USA can dairy cows be injected with rBGH hormones.  The Europeans and Canadians are smart enough not to permit it.  The more you learn about what you're putting into your body, the scarier that it becomes.

No, I don't purport to believe that I'll ever be able to escape all pesticides, herbicides, GMO's, genetically engineered corporate-profit food stuff additives, hormones, steroids, etc.  But... there exists one simple fact.  I will never even come close without trying!  We human beings have that wonderful ability to think, judge, evaluate, and decide.  Tiffany and I?  We plan to dust off some off that unused brain material and begin putting it to good healthy use.

Just my two-cents?  Whatever you are doing I am certain is good for you.  I won't preach because I'm still quite ignorant.  If I were not ignorant I would have become health conscious a very long time ago.  Maybe it's simply my moment?  It only took many, many years and processed foods to get me here.

Thanks for the ear!  What do you think?  Are Tiffany and Chucky about to jump off the deep end?  Is my picture blurred?  Am I missing a key point?

Hi-dee hi-dee think-about-what-you-are-about-to-eat-before-your-next-bite ho my friend.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Reborn Vegetarian Day 2

"I have a great diet.  You're allowed to eat anything you want, but you must eat it with naked fat people."
 - Author Unknown

Hi everyone!  Is that sunshine outside or is that simply your positive attitude shining bright today?

Another day of a revisited vegetarian lifestyle.  For a recap simple see yesterday's post.  In yet another effort to bore my blog readers, here is a synopsis of this Tuesday's culinary affair:

Pre-Breakfast - 1 glass of water.  Hey, notice that I gave up the first cup of java this morning?

Breakfast - 1 cup of coffee (no cream, no sugar).  6" breakfast sandwich consisting of:  9-grain whole wheat sub roll, egg white, sliced bell pepper, sliced onion, sliced jalapeno pepper, sliced banana pepper, sliced tomato, fresh spinach, one slice of vegetarian smoked turkey, fresh jalapeno, and lots of hot sauce.

Lunch -  2 cup of Saucy Indian Veggies consisting of:  cauliflower, potato, peas, tomato, and spices.  1.5 cup of vegetable soup (only vegetables) consisting of tomato, vegetable broth, hominy, cabbage, diced butternut squash, and spices.  1 fresh peach, 1 fresh apple, 38 cherries, 1.3 oz pumpkin seed, and 0.5 oz sunflower seed.  2 cups of fresh Japanese green tea (no sugar).

Dinner - Cabbage juice (pulp) consisting of:  1/4 head purple cabbage, 1/2 apple, 1 carrot, 1/2 Tbsp no-fat yogurt, 1/8 tsp dried dill, and 4 fresh basil leaves.  Blended in Blendtec blender with water added to liquify.  1 glass almond milk (4 ounces).

Post-Dinner - Fresh cherries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries.  No sugar, no additives.  Just fresh fruit full of wonderful nutrients!

Other - Water, water, everywhere!

Too early to assess?  I don't know.  Perhaps it's the mental element of stepping up the healthy eating a notch but both Tiffany and I think that we feel better today.

One thing that we discussed at the dinner table tonight was the possibility of bringing out the Breville juicer and using it instead of the Blendtec.  Basically, this would mean replacing "pulping" with "juicing".  The thickness and texture of our dinners is taking some getting used to.  Instead of being a liquid juice, ours is somewhere between juice and applesauce on the texture scale.

Our decision?  We both agreed that our dinner "pulps" step up the "juice" equivalent a notch.  We get the entire fruit for our bodies to make the decision.  Instead of composting the seeds, rind and pulp; we consume it all and allow the added treat of a fiber cleanse.  Our bodies own internal digestive system can ultimately decide which minerals and vitamins to use & store and those parts it deems waste.  

It's not as refreshing as a juice perhaps.  But knowing that it's dinner super-charged makes it bearable.  We may ultimately bring the juicer out of retirement but I have my doubts.  It'll simply stay tucked away on the shelve until our next bumper crop of oranges.

Well... that's about all I have for you today folks.  Wish it were more exciting but that comes in time when I jump back onto the scale.  So far, so good.  I miss my partially-processed snacking but those now become my rewards.

Hi-dee hi-dee have-a-healthy-juice-today-ho my friend.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Reborn Vegetarian Day 1

"The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not."
 - Mark Twain

A mighty fine and surely sincere day to you my friend!  Let's make this one to remember and one which we should be proud.

Uh... um... what is Chucky to share today?  How about yesterday's dining choices?  After all, I bragged and boasted that I'm making a dramatic change to my food consumption.

Saucy Indian Veggies over brown rice & bean w/ Sesame Soy Asparagus & Mushrooms

So ~ to be frank, fair and honest with you, here 'tis:

Pre-Breakfast - 1 cup of coffee (no cream, no sugar).

Breakfast - 1 cup of coffee (no cream, no sugar).  6" breakfast sandwich consisting of:  9-grain whole wheat sub roll, egg white, sliced bell pepper, sliced onion, sliced jalapeno pepper, sliced banana pepper, sliced tomato, fresh spinach, one slice of vegetarian smoked turkey, and lots of Frank's hot sauce.

Lunch -  2 cup of Saucy Indian Veggies consisting of:  cauliflower, potato, peas, tomato, and spices.  1.5 cup of vegetable soup (only vegetables) consisting of tomato, vegetable broth, hominy, cabbage, diced butternut squash, and spices.  1 fresh peach, 1 fresh apple, cherry tomatoes, cherries, pumpkin seed, and sunflower seed.  2 cups of fresh Japanese green tea (no sugar).

Dinner - Beet juice (pulp) consisting of:  1 organic beet with leaves, 1 apple and 1 carrot.  Blended in Blendtec blender with water added to liquify.  1 glass almond milk (4 ounces).

Post-Dinner - Fresh cut cantaloupe, cherries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries.  No sugar, no additives.  Just fresh fruit full of wonderful nutrients!

Other - Water, water and more water!

Tomato, cabbage, hominy & butternut squash soup

Before you go grabbing the calculator and determining the total calorie intake, let me assure you that it's much less than I would have otherwise consumed.  I'm not so much counting calories now as watching what I am eating.  Only fresh veggies and fruits, no added sugars, reducing caffeine intake, avoiding processed foods, eliminating dairy product, and thinking before choosing.  

What do you think?  Do you have an opinion?  Am I doing something wrong?  Do you foresee roadblocks ahead?  Please, I want to know.  Share your ideals, thoughts, comments, and experiences with us!

Hi-dee hi-dee it-is-forward-and-downward-(weight)-ho my friend.

Monday, July 25, 2011

344 Is Such An Ugly Number

"No diet will remove all the fat from your body because the brain is entirely fat.  Without a brain, you might look good, but all you could do is run for public office."
 - George Bernard Shaw

Hi everyone!  I hope you experience a most wonderful week.  This week in 2011 only comes around but once in everybody's lifetime.  Make the most of it and leave nothing but positive marks where you tread.

344?  Yeah, an ugly number.  I had a doctor's appointment and all was going well until the nurse called me back and asked me to step onto that "truth teller".  She called it a scale but I called it a downer. Or, did I???

Am I depressed?  Bummed?  Disappointed?  Yes and no, actually.  It's truly no-one's fault except my own.  No-one can influence this number except me, myself and I.  I'm not going to yell at myself or allow myself to get depressed.  Depression invokes negativity and why would I impose this onto myself (or those around me, yourself included)?

What did I learn?  Chucky - The Fat Vegetarian isn't getting any lighter.  Common senses says that unless Chucky makes some changes, over and beyond this vegetarian lifestyle, that the only way he will get lighter is when he is either cremated or buried in the Earth to slowly decompose.

First of all, allow me to unequivocally state:  "I have absolutely no regrets whatsoever for making my vegetarian lifestyle choice back on October 1st of 2011."   Weight aside, I and the planet around me is in a much better place because of the change.  Mentally and physically I feel 101% better today than I did less than one year ago.  So... I believe that I haven't done anything wrong.  I've been making fantastic choices as I live and learn and stroll the vegetarian path of life.  So many positive changes that I don't know where to begin:  making organic food choices, reducing dairy consumption, choosing less processed foods, etc.

Okay ~ Chucky feels like he's doing some of the right things and is not looking back.  What am I going to do now?  Logic dictates that weight isn't going to "wish itself away".  My steps are small but significant, I hope.

Here are some of the changes to be made:
  • Attempt to eliminate processed food stuffs from my diet.  Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts become the primary source of nutrition.
  • Live a detoxifying lifestyle.  Plan juicing in the daily regiment thereby replacing processed or over-cooked foods with fresh wholesome and nutritional vegetable/fruit juices.  Put that Blendtec to work!
  • Where abstinence is not practical, make absolute best choices possible.
  • Give up dairy and go vegan.  Eww... this will be tough!
  • Etc., etc., etc. 
Even this morning I am able to cite positive lifestyle examples.  Due to a medical situation, I am forced to temporarily alter my daily schedule.  Until this medical situation has been rectified, my schedule is somewhat adulterated.  For convenience, Tiffany and I have elected to stop by a Subway early in the morning to experience our breakfast.  We're forced to rise much earlier than our normal times and somewhat rush out of the house each morning to attend this personal (medical) business.

I had a 6" breakfast sandwich on 9-grain whole wheat bread (their lowest calorie selection) using egg white, no meat, no cheese and no sauces.  Simply egg white, bell pepper, onion, jalapeno slices, banana pepper, tomato, and spinach on a 6" roll.  Upon taking our meal to the table we add a piece of vegetarian meat and use 0-calorie hot sauce for condiment.  Until this morning, I varied on the bread choice and always included cheese.  I've effectively knocked 50-calories from my morning sandwich with this simple and easy change.

Tiffany & I watched "Fat Sick and Nearly Dead" on Netflix over the weekend.  We're so pumped up wanting to do a 60-day juicing detox!  We dropped by Borders bookstore yesterday to purchase two really nice juice recipe books.  We can't immediately jump into 100% juicing but it's in our plans.  First we will cleanse our refrigerator of perishable processed and dairy foods.  We will probably wait until my medical necessities have taken their due course.

But ~ instead of making excuses and waiting for that day, we will be choosing mornings as our processed food meal (Subway sandwich) and electing homemade vegetables (soup, steamed, broiled, grilled, etc.) for lunch, and liquid raw fruit/vegetable juice for dinner.  Not quite a detox but better than sitting and waiting.  I told Tiffany that this was my "S, S & J Diet" (Subway, soup and juice).  <LOL>

Coffee in the morning for breakfast but green tea and water thereafter.  Simple subtle changes included.  A calorie saved here and a calorie saved there can certainly snowball into a substantial amount.  I'm on cloud ten right now!   My actions need only follow my mind!  Due diligence and sacrifice will take me to health nirvana that I seek.

You don't have to wish me luck because I don't need it.  No amount of warm wishes or fond hopes from you that I achieve my goals can help.  I am the captain of this ship.  It's my name on my contract of life.  The credit for success or loss falls entirely with yours truly.  Guess what?  I am not going to steer the ship into an iceberg.

It might be hard to tell from my blog postings but I consider myself a relative positive thinker.  The glass has never been half empty on my table.  Life is simply too short.  I don't believe in the blame game either.  With the knowledge that attain, it's my belief that any intelligent person can weigh right from wrong on the balance scales of health.

A word of personal thanks.  Thank you Michele for turning Tiffany and I onto Joe Cross' film   If not for your blog post, I may have never discovered this gem on my Netflix.  I not only offer you my written "Thanks!' but will show you personal thanks with expressions of weight loss and health gained!  Smile my friend... your blog post has touched someone (me).

Hi-dee hi-dee I-am-renewed-this-day-ho my friend.

PS:  Stay tuned, okay?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Wine Tasting - Valserrano Finca Monteviejo Cosecha Rioja 2006

"Penicillin cures, but wine makes people happy."
 - Alexander Fleming (1881-1955), the Scottish bacteriologist credited with discovering Penicillin in 1928

Hello my friend.  May a smile be placed upon your face by someone else's action and passed along by you to another.

Yes, another fantastic wine sampled by Tiffany and me at the June 26th "The Sexy Wine of Spain and Portugal" class.  This wine selection is a high scoring Spanish wine of Tempranillo grape heritage.

Chucky's Point Score:  94
Tiffany's Point Score:  96

Valserrano Finca Monteviejo Cosecha Rioja 2006

Appellation:  Villabuena de Alava, Rioja, Spain
Other:  Denominacion de Origen Calificada
Grape Varietal(s):  95% Tempranillo (old vine) & 5% Graciano & Garnacha
Retail Price:  $41.99
Vintage: 2006
Producer:   Bodegas de la Marques
Alcohol:  15.0%
Calories:   104 per 4 ounces

Tasting notes as follows.

Chucky's Tasting Notes

Tiffany's Tasting Notes

The label reads as follows:

"Made from grapes from a single vineyard planted in 1948.  The "Monteviejo" estate, which has a very low yield per hecta acre.  What allows to achieve the maximum expression of the "terroir".  Tempranillo (95%), Graciano and Garnacha (5%).

Aged in new French "allier" and "nevers" oak casks for 16 months and bottled without fining.  So it is possible to find some sediment in the bottom of this bottle.

Intense aromas of red fruits, exotic woods and toasted spicy nuances in the mouth. It is meaty, round and tasty with powerful and sweet tannins, long and lingering.

It is a good match for red meat and game dishes, as well as some deserts, like cured cheeses and chocolate.  Serve at 16°/17°C.  It will reach its peak after 2-3 years in the bottle."

A dark purple wine with powerful aromas of eucalyptus and licorice on the nose.  Elegant tastes of dark cherry and dark fruits upon the palate blended with tastes of chocolate and coffee (or tobacco).  An elegant bold delicious red wine from "old vines".  This wine has a tiny production of less than 500 cases annually.  The vines have aged and struggled for 62-years to produce this most magnificent elixir.

A most perfect bold red aged wine.  Elegant characteristics deserving high marks from both Tiffany and I on every measurable level of our scores.  Yes, we were so fortunate to have sampled this wine and purchased a bottle for our wine cabinet.

Hi-dee hi-dee this-wine-is-K-I-L-L-E-R-stuff-ho my friends.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hot Diggity Dawg

"A highbrow is the kind of a person who looks at a sausage and thinks of Picasso."
 - Alan Herbert

Greetings my friend!  May every minute of your day exude rays of sunshine and arches of rainbow.

OMG!  Chucky just learned that he is highbrow (see quotation above)!  Say it ain't so!  Say it ain't so!  Sorry Mr. Herbert... I rather believe it's because I am a vegetarian and have newly discovered the joy of an edible fennel sausage.  So... phooey on you my dear man.

Spicy Fennel Sietan Sausage in sprouted grain bun with fixings

If this picture doesn't make a vegan or vegetarian smile and salivate, it is only because they were raised as such and animal flesh never met their lips.  First of all, permit me to clarify my fennel sausage fascination.  It's not the pork or meat that I so crave.  It's those fond memories of the taste of fennel seed when combined with the texture of a really good sausage.  Neither Tiffany nor I would have ever thunk we'd find a recipe for a most excellent vegan fennel sausage substitute.  But, my friend... we have.

I cannot take credit for the recipe.  Nor shall I boast about placing it onto a bun.  Yeah... that's certainly an ingenious use for a sausage.  <LOL>  I might take a little credit for marrying Tiffany who led me to the promised vegetarian lands and whose culinary aptitude made me this delicious lunch box surprise.  What could be as nice and pleasant surprise to find in one's lunch bucket a spicy fennel seitan sausage tucked in a sprouted grain bun, a light slathering of mustard, delicious grilled onion and topped with a half slice of lite Swiss cheese?

"Stop it Chucky!  Enough of the fluff stuff.  Where do I get this purported killer vegan fennel sausage recipe?"  Wow... You folks are demanding (as would I be).  The credit for Spicy Fennel Seitan Sausage goes to The Millennium Restaurant and Shaheen over at Allotment 2 Kitchen for getting the permission to share.  Vegan Dad also has a version which he calls Homemade Sausages.  Do yourself the favor of visiting these blog sites where you shall find culinary vegan nirvana.  Cheaper than a one-day ticket to Walt Disney World and a lot healthier than theme park food.

I followed the Spicy Fennel Sietan Sausage recipe except (oops ~ hehe) added just a little more fennel seed (2 tsp, freshly crushed) and steamed them wrapped tightly in aluminum foil.  i used a rice steamer and ordinary water.  Next time I plan to slightly roast the fennel seed on the stove before preparing the sausages.

Hi-dee hi-dee these-vegan-fennel-sausages-look-and-taste-like-the-real-thang-ho my friends.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sharing Quick, Easy and Healthy

"The qualities of an exceptional cook are akin to those of a successful tightrope walker: an abiding passion for the task, courage to go out on a limb and an impeccable sense of balance."
 - Bryan Miller

Hi everybody!  Shove those bad vibes aside, feed that positive energy and go out and have nothing short of a most wonderful day.

Do you like quick meals?  Do you like simple ideals?  Do you like eating healthy?  And do you like absolutely delicious?  Wow... Do I have the blog post for you!  Michele over at The Big Personality of a Little Vegan has recently shared yet another of her most wonderful blog posts, "Homemade Spring Rolls".

Noodles, bean sprout, carrot, basil and vegan scrambled egg

Tiffany and I made them for dinner night before last.  I absolutely cannot wait to do a dinner repeat (tonight).  They are totally amazing!  So simple, so versatile.  We used the following ingredients in ours as it's what we had conveniently on-hand:  pasta noodle, mung bean sprout, shredded carrot, fresh basil leaves, and vegan scrambled egg (tofu recipe).  I can envision countless combinations of ingredients such as cucumber, zucchini, squash, tofu, seitan, tempeh, crushed nut, steamed rice, steamed cauliflower bits, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, fresh cilantro, bamboo sprout, fresh mushroom, etc.  Your mind is your limitation.

And, after you have created that "perfect combination" of ingredients you still aren't done!  This is a most wonderful opportunity to sample and taste-test a plethora of table condiments.  Tiffany and I both favored low-sodium soy sauce with the sweetness of Spring roll sauce.  I also experimented with Sriracha ("rooster"), hot, and hoisin sauces.  I elected to cycle through a multitude of sauces with each bite.  

Pure ecstasy in a roll (and, no... you can't smoke 'em)

Bite off one end, pour in some Lee Kum Kee low-sodium soy sauce, a dab of Sriracha sauce and taking a bite.  Next, how about some LKK soy and Spring roll sauce combined?  And so on, and so on.  As with the ingredient combinations, the sauce combinations are limitless.  Peanut sauce, Sambal Oelek (crushed pepper sauce), Chinese hot mustard, wasabi paste, etc.  Hey! What is hiding in the back of your refrigerator, long-time neglected, and dying to come out onto the dining room table?

Not only has Michele shown us how so simple working with rice wrapper truly is, but she has enlightened me on the perfect preparation.  So... I shall warn you about some of the online and YouTube videos about rice wrappers.  Please be forewarned!  Michele has the perfect method!!!  Instead of soaking the wraps in room temperature water until they're soft and mushy, simply soak them on both sides, hold them above the bowl to drip drain and then lay them onto your work surface.  Doing this allows them to lay in a complete and perfect circle.  By the time you fill them and are ready to roll, they're as soft and pliable as the "other" method.  If you decide go the YouTube route, you will have a very difficult time getting the wraps to lay out flat (see first picture above).

I experienced only but a single unforeseen issue when making the Homemade Spring Rolls.  Finding the Spring Roll wraps was unexpectedly difficult here in the Orlando, Florida area.  I honestly thought that I would find them easily in any grocery store, in the Asian foods section.  This wasn't the case.  I finally gave up and went to our local Asian supermarket to buy my shells.  Luckily, their prices tend to be significantly better than the major grocery store prices for my Asian food needs.

As I finalize writing my blog entry, my mind dances with fond Homemade Spring Roll memories.  The crispness of the mung bean sprout and delicious texture of the cooked pasta when combined with the exotic sauces make my taste bud memory explode in crescendo.  Add the low-calorie health benefits of this meal choice and my stomach yearns for its next serving.

My health-filled and genuine thanks goes to Michelle for sharing her blog.  Winner, winner...Asian dinner!

Hi-dee hi-dee visit-The-Big-Personality-of-a-Little-Vegan-blog-for-more-delicious-ideals-ho my friend.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wine Tasting - Gallo Family Vineyards Pinot Noir

"Remember gentlemen, it's not just France we are fighting for, it's Champagne!"
 - Winston S. Churchill, 1918

May your day be pleasant, productive and conclude with the sweet nectar of wine upon your lips.  If not practical, then perhaps may it conclude with visions of soon uncorking some vino.  If this too not practical, may you simply sit back and look forward to that day you become 21 years of age (legal drinking age).

Chucky and Tiffany have been on another quest, my friend.  Ne'er have two 4-foot plastic characters been on so many dawggone quests, huh?  'Least it keeps us busy and out of trouble?

What has this particular quest been?  <Oh, no!  Chucky's about to go onto one of his wild tangents again!>  Short, sweet and brief...  To find that most beloved Carrabba's Italian Grill house wine, "Copper Ridge".  It's a Gallo wine sold exclusively under private label to restaurants.  "Purportedly" sometimes available on supermarket shelves.  So far, no success.  Thus, our quest.

We purchased this wine (along with a bottle of their Cabernet Sauvignon) hoping it to be a pseudonym of their Copper Ridge private label.  As nice as it was, it was indeed not the Copper Ridge we seek.

Chucky's Point Score:  84
Tiffany's Point Score:  84

Gallo Family Vineyards Pinot Noir
Appellation:  Modesto, California
Grape Varietal(s):  Pinot Noir
Retail Price:  $5.00
Vintage:  See Note 1/
Producer:   Gallo Family Vineyards
Alcohol:  12.5%
Calories:   88 per 4-ounce

Note 1/:  Young wines that are meant to be drank when they are purchased typically do not include a vintage.  There would be no relevance to include a date.  It's not the style or type of wine that can be aged in the wine cellar nor should it be re-corked and shelved upon opening. Although most vintners include the vintage, it is not a requirement on US labeling laws.

Tasting notes as follows.

Chucky's Tasting Notes

Tiffany's Tasting Notes

The label reads as follows:

"Gallo Family Vineyards is proud to celebrate over 75 years of family winemaking.  Since 1933, our family has had but one single purpose:  To craft the finest wine that skill and care can produce.  Each bottle of Gallo Family Vineyards reflects four generations of our family's passion.

Our Pinot Noir is medium-bodied with aromas of cherry and sweet fruit flavors with a smooth and light finish.  It is a very approachable wine that is as fun to share as it is to discover.

Our family promises to consistently deliver exceptional wines to celebrate life's joyful occasions with friends and family."

Oh... We can mail order Copper Ridge wine but it's simply not economical for a wine of it's stature.  The Carrabba's Italian Grill house wine is most excellent but not of the $15 to $20 bottle merit.  Although mail order wines can be had for a most excellent price, the costs of shipping and handling quickly diminish this route of procurement.

"But what about this Gallo Family Vineyards wine, Chucky?"  Oh yeah... the wine.  I almost forgot the wine (Ha!  That'll never happen.)  It isn't an extraordinary wine but it's not purported to be.  It's the family's "standard" label and representative of a very palatable wine at a bargain of a price.  If willing to spend, the Gallo family has alternative wine worthy or a few more bucks.

All in all, both Tiffany and I liked this wine.  Certainly $5 very well spent!  It was certainly similar to the Copper Ridge labeled wine that I seek but the slightest bit made from a lesser crop (or source) of grape.  This wine was contrived from those grapes grown "out back behind the barn".  Perfectly good grapes, have you, but not of the same character as those grown over there on that hillside.  Someday soon these vines may have struggled and aged enough to become "Copper Ridge label worthy".  But, until that date has arrived (if it ever does) we'll just continue to market it as Gallo Family Vineyards wine.

This wine grew on me.  Maybe it's simply the affect of the alcohol but the last glass was even better than the first.  But, this is true of the majority of our wines.  Buy a bottle, allow it to breathe, sip, enjoy, and realize that you got one helluva bargain for around the $5 price point.  I would not be ashamed to serve this wine to a group of friends whatsoever.  However, if these friends were "affectionado vino extraordinaire", I might move up a price range or two.

Hi-dee hi-dee may-you-stumble-upon-a-decent-and-affordable-wine-today-ho my friends.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Destination: Lowry Park Zoo, Tampa, Florida

"Zoo:  An excellent place to study the habits of human beings."
 - Evan Esar

Yes, ugh... It's Monday but that does not mean that this simply can't be the first of many Fridays which you experience this week.  Chucky no longer says, "You know it's going to be a bad week when by 8:05 AM on Monday you're already looking forward to happy hour on Friday!"

Chucky and Tiffany at Lowry Park Zoo, Tampa, Florida
I would ask you to guess what Chucky and Tiffany did yesterday (Sunday) but if today's blog title doesn't give you a clue you're simply a slow learner and you couldn't be up to the challenge of an answer.  Yes, Tiffany and I met my brother and his sweetheart for a day at the zoo.  He was in Clearwater, Florida finishing up a regional bowling tournament so we decided to go over to Tampa and spend the day with them.  Tampa is just a wee bit over two hours from our boxes (home).

Sadly, I used to live in Tampa for a couple of years many, many moons ago.  Back before they demolished and rebuilt the city's skyline, when University of South Florida called themselves the "brahmans" instead of the "bulls", when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers began their first or second season, when the Bucs played in the "The Big Sombrero" (their old stadium), when the Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer team existed, when Rodney Marsh played for the Rowdies and when brothers Lee Roy & Dewey Selmon played for the Bucs.  I remember all of the "Throw McKay (John) in the Bay" bumper stickers and when fans wore paper sacks over their heads to hide their identities when watching the games (if it truly fair to call them that).  For anyone familiar with Tampa, the city of Lutz was nothing more than orange groves.  Yeah ~ quite a long time ago.

In all of that time studying in school over there, I never watched a Tampa Bay Buccaneers football game, never watched a Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer game, never visited historic Ybor City, and never visited the Lowry Park Zoo.  I was just too busy between working, studying and sleeping for anything else to do.  Any spare money in my pockets went to a box of Minute Rice and a can of Campbell's Chunky soup to last me six or seven meals of the week.  Oddly enough, those were really nice days and I appreciated a dollar more than any subsequent time of my life.

Guess what I learned today?  A couple of things actually.  Most important is that the Lowry Park Zoo is a fantastic place and worth every penny of admittance!  Second, I used to live but only a few miles away from the zoo in the Town 'n' Country area of Tampa.  I used to work close to the zoo at I-75 (since renamed I-275) & Hillsborough Avenue (SR 580).  I knew that I was close but never imagined that I was so close.  Sometimes it's strange the small things learned later in one's life, huh?

"Oh?  The zoo?"  Maybe pictures can do more justice than any of my words can do?  I've seemed to once again ramble on in preface to my subject matter.  I hope that you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed being there and taking them.

Wild Turkey -  Could have been USA national symbol if Ben Franklin had his way.
Warthog - Who says there are not hippies in the animal kingdom?
Even nature's animals get together for afternoon chat.
Okay, okay... it's a big butt but it's an attractive butt!
Oh?  My brother and his girlfriend?  Let's just call them "Brad" & "Angie", okay?
Hi-dee hi-dee visit-a-local-zoo-in-your-community-ho my friend.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Love: Then and Now

"Marriage is based on established roles of compromise: the husband always admits to being wrong and the wife forgives him."
 - Author Unknown

Literary utterances of best wishes to you this fine day.  And, what makes this particular day a "fine" one?  You, of course.  You control your daily destiny and others only attempt to influence it.

A little something off of the beaten path today.  A reflection of growing older and becoming more health conscious?

Then: My mother places a Little Debbie snack cake into my lunch box because she loved me.
Now: Tiffany places an apple in my lunch box because she loves me.

Then: I give "The Seed" table scraps as a treat.
Now: I give "The Seed" sliced carrot, cucumber and celery as a treat.

Then: My mother uses Crisco to fry me a chicken fried steak for dinner.
Now: Tiffany uses Pam non-stick cooking spray to fry me a veggie burger for dinner.

Then: To grab a quick bite to eat when running about I stop at McDonald's (Big Mac, large fries), Burger King (Whopper, large fries), Wendy's (Double Stack w/cheese, large fries, Frosty), Pizza Hut (pepperoni pizza, hand tossed crust), or Kentucky Fried Chicken (fried chicken, biscuit, mashed potato, gravy).  Note:  In these days there was no such thing as "KFC" because they sold only fried chicken.
Now: To grab a quick bite to eat when running about I stop at Firehouse Subs (medium Grilled Veggie sub, whole wheat, no mayo), Subway (Veggie Delite, whole wheat bun, no mayo/sauces), Burger King (BK Veggie Burger, no mayo), Wrap Planet (everything acceptable),  Green Day Cafe (everything acceptable, substitute hummus for meat), or Papa Murphy's Pizza (veggie pizza, thin crust).

NOTE:  It is with much regret (but many happy memories) that I must report that Wrap Planet is now out of business.

Then: Let's use commercial white bread!
Now: When available, sprouted grain bread.  Otherwise, whole grain wheat bread (look at nutritional label).

Then: Potato chips, tortilla chips and crackers for snacking.
Now: Pickled veggies, hummus, baked whole grain chips (limited quantity), fresh fruit, and sliced veggies for snacking.

Of course, the above could simply be the rantings and ramblings of a really old person too.  Never mind.  Go on with your day.  Thanks for visiting though!

Hi-dee hi-dee life-changes-us-every-minute-ho my friend.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Product Review - Moophrey Vegan-Vegetarian Burgers

"A vegetarian is anybody who will not eat anything that can have children."
- David Brenner

A plate of my finest salutations to everyone!  Remember... each passing day is but a single allotment of time which you are afforded on the planet.  Why wouldn't you want to make the very best of it?

Moophrey burger in whole wheat pita with cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle & guacamole.

Today I ate my first Moophrey burger.  I've probably eaten anywhere from half dozen or so pre-packaged "veggie burger" varieties since becoming a non-carnivore convert.  Guess what?  I can't fathom finding a more realistic one than the Moophrey Vegan- Vegetarian Burger from Food of Life.  From the same fine folks that brought Ezekiel sprouted breads into our lives!

The looks, the smell, the taste and the texture all get 5 out of 5 carrots (stars) in my book.  Tiffany and I are in agreement with this burger.  I would love to find a better pre-packaged burger but believe that I will not be able to do so. 

INGREDIENTS:  Filtered Water, Organic Soy Flour, Textured Wheat Gluten, Wheat Gluten, Contains Less Than 2% Of Konjac Flour, Carrageenan, Organic Soy Fiber, Safflower Oil, Wheat Starch, Natural Flavors (Non Meat), Yeast Extract, Onion Powder, Sea Salt, Evaporated Cane Juice, Garlic Powder, Malt Extract, Carob Powder, Sage, Ginger, Sweet Basil

If you were to serve these from the grill to your carnivorous friends & family, I don't think that they would be the wiser.  Of course, I have two caveats in saying this.  The first being that you've hidden the bright orange box from sight.  And the second being that you actually associate and socialize with carnivores!  Of course, I'm kidding.  I don't dislike carnivores, it's simply that they smell funny.  I used to be one.  I used to be one of those human beings who sometimes held bits of animal flesh between his teeth.

Now that I have discovered Moophrey burgers, I'm in a quandary.  I've fallen in love with discovering and making my very own fresh homemade veggie burgers but now have the added dilemma of craving these little tasty goomers.  Oh well ~  I suppose there are lesser problems in my life.  <hehe>

Hi-dee hi-dee try-a-Moophrey-burger-today-ho my friend.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wine Tasting - Offley Boa Vista Vintage Porto 2007

"Alcohol is necessary for a man so that he can have a good opinion of himself, undisturbed be the facts."
 -Author Unknown (but could have just as easily been Tiffany)

Hello to one and all.  May this hour only be surpassed by the next hour, so on and so on.

This blog post focuses on a most wonderful gem uncovered during a wine class which Tiffany and I attended on June 26th.  If my recollection serves me correctly, this is the highest scored wine which either Tiffany or myself has experienced (to date).  Absolutely and without any doubt whatsoever incredible!

Chucky's Point Score:  94
Tiffany's Point Score:  93
Wine Enthusiast Score:  93

Offley Boa Vista Vintage Porto 2007

Appellation:  Portugal, Douro, Porto
Grape Varietal(s):  Port Blend
Retail Price:  $69.99
Vintage:  2007 (bottled in 2009)
Producer:   Sogrape Vinhos, S.A. (Offley Boa Vista)
Alcohol:  20.5%
Calories:   approx 37 to 47 per ounce

Tasting notes as follows.

Chucky's Tasting Sheet

Tiffany's Tasting Sheet
The label reads as follows:

"Offley, a port house renowned for it's pioneer history of almost 3 centuries of heritage and experience became famous due to Joseph J. Forrester (1809-1861), who was granted the title of 'Baron' from the King of Portugal, for his role in the expansion of both porto wine and Offley.  Offley vintage wines are traditionally limited to the famed Quinta da Boa Vista, one of the oldest and best known estates in the Douro Valley.  This top quality wine is purple, opaque, with a very intense and complex aroma of red ripe fruits, resin and spices on the palate.  The structure and firms tannins of a great quality are an impressive balance to the long and robust finish.  Offley Boa Vista Vintage 2007 is ideally drank with a creamy cheese such as Serra da Estrela (Portugal), or a Stilton due to its characteristics. Vintage porto bottles should be stored laid horizontally.  Overtime natural sediments will be created, requiring the bottle to be carefully opened and decanted, after standing up for 24 hours."

I've always been somewhat a fan of port wines due to my fondness of sweet grape nectar.   Tiffany, on the other hand, has discovered an affection for select port wines by virtue of our wine classes.  Of course, until we began attending monthly wine classes we had no wine acumen.  Our favorite wine had but a single label, "Cheap".

The more bang-for-the-buck in a 1.5 liter bottle, the better.  This was my goal when making a purchase.  Since I did not know a Pinot Noir from a Cabernet Sauvignon from a Shirah or Zinfandel, why delve out my hard earned dollars?  This is to say Tiffany or I did not truly "enjoy" a wine in those days.  On rare occasion, a bottle of vino simply seemed appropriate for our dining venue.

But, those were the "old days".  Tiffany and Chucky have since graduated into big grown-up people.  You would be both amazed and impressed to see how much wine we little 4-foot plastic bubble-headed folk can consume!  Not only that, the quality of our wine selection continues to grow and grow.  I am so proud to display our selections to anyone entering our abode.

Oops... Back to my blog subject, huh?  This Offley Boa Vista Vintage Porto was so good and delicious that we had to purchase a bottle!  No way were we leaving without our grubby little plastic hands scarfing this wine booty.  It's the crème de la crème of our wine collection right now.  Well... this and a Barolo from Piedmont, Italy perhaps.  My "special" little wine cellar (refrigerator) has a few "keeper" wines stashed away for special occasions like winning the Lotto.  At worst case, Tiffany will be having one helluva party when they bury me 6 feet under or sprinkle my ashes over a vineyard?

This port was nothing less than extraordinary and almost beyond words.  But I shall try anyway.  My eyes teared up in love and passion upon my initial whiff.  Upon smelling the intense raspberry and chocolate notes, I so wanted to change myself into a bottled genie!  And I knew exactly the bottle!

Only to be outdone by the aroma were the absolute perfect flavors upon my tiny little palate.  Intense cherry immediately awakened any sleeping taste buds.  Mixed with the tasted of raspberry, blackberry, chocolate, and tobacco a true party was going on.  Never has my palate been so happy.

Let me say something about its viscosity.  Unlike your typical port wines, it's not thick or syrupy to the feel.  Nor is it fluid and free flowing as an ordinary wine.  The viscosity is somewhat between the two in a most wonderful place to the tongue.  It melds the intense grape taste of a wine with the elegance of an aged tawny port.

Deep dark fruit flavors, extremely smooth and lingering bliss.  That's what this port wine is all about.  This wine is the epitome of why grapes exist on this beautiful planet of ours.  I am sorry if I tend to paint such a pretty picture.  Offley Boa Vista Vintage Porto 2007 is simply that good!

Hi-dee hi-dee this-is-a-must-have-port-ho my friends.