Favorite Spring Vegetables and What to do with Them

When people ask me what my favorite season is, I always have to think about who is asking the question. Are they talking about my favorite season in terms of nature and its beauty? Autumn obviously! Are they asking in terms of my deep pluviophile nature, which loves grey and gloomy days and having any and every excuse to practice Hygge? Winter, of course! Are they talking about relaxing, being playful and enjoying my city's life to the max? Summer, of course! Or are they talking about vegetables? 

When it comes to seasonality, each person is so different! I remember my veggie vendor at the farmer's market once told me: "you are SO not a summer girl. You come in August looking for kale and asking where the heck are all the vegetables, and when I show you my peaches and nectarines you look so unimpressed!". He is so right, as much as I enjoy fruit, vegetables have the key to my heart and summer veggies are just not that abundant.

The fall is great for green leafy vegetables and squashes, and even the winter brings about some of my favorites, but spring has magic in it and it has nothing to do with all the flowers.

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Now Vegan Me, Meet Year One Vegan Me: Lessons Learned through the Years while Being Vegan

Sometimes Carlos and I have these super fun brainstorming sessions over beers or veggie burgers in which we make a list of topics we want to cover in videos, podcast episodes and blog posts. I love getting his perspective because he always gets these awesome ideas that are really helpful and in line with the many questions we get from all our readers and listeners. Today's episode and post is entirely his creative baby. A few weeks ago we were talking about how differently we see things now, a few years into being vegan, as opposed to our first year, and he jumped up and said: "oh my God! You should make a podcast episode where your now vegan self meets your year one vegan self and gives her a slightly different perspective, based on all the lessons learned through the years!".

I know... genius right?

So that's what we're doing today, our current vegan selves are going to share how different things are now, from how we see and understand veganism now, to the kind of content we share, to the way we advocate, to the worries that were eased with time, the social situations that were handled better with time, and how they got so much easier and much more.

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Mindful Eating Basics

You've hear me talk about mindfulness and mindful eating a lot. It's because just as some people always place a pitcher of water or a salt and pepper shaker at the table, mindful eating is always a main character at ours. It wasn't always that way though. For most of my life, and even for most of our marriage we ate full of distractions, many times in front of the TV, and how much we ate depended on how much I, or the person making the meal, would put on our plates. While I was on the many diets I tried, it was the restrictive diet du jour which told me how much I should eat. Making it so that everything that was "allowed" was eaten, no more, and no less, regardless of hunger, of satisfaction, and even regardless of whether the food was enjoyable or not.

You've heard this little dichotomy I was so fond of before, right? If the diet du jour told me 1 cup of this or that, I followed it with rigid perfection. Then, when I couldn't anymore because, well... diets!, I would pile on the food, gobble it up mindlessly, feel overly full, and only if a second helping wasn't offered would I stop there. If seconds were even mentioned, or if it was a particular favorite of mine, or if serving platters were on the table and still had food on them, I would eat until plate, ladle and pot were squeaky clean. Not because I was really hungry, or because the food was giving me so much pleasure I just had to dig in, but because....well, diets. 

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Hummus, Kale, Shiitake and Turmeric Toast

There are many reasons why Carlos thinks I'm a little alien from outer space. One of the biggest reasons is that when he wakes up and is thinking about vegan croissants with jams and jellies, peanut butter, sweet porridges or cereal, he walks into the kitchen, and there I am, spatula in hand, sautéing mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, kale, or getting sauerkraut out of a jar and the hummus out of the fridge. He calls me a breakfast alien. I just call myself a savoury breakfast eater, which is actually more common than you might think!

I love having jams and jellies and croissants as much as the next person, but I always need something savory, and I simply don't think that vegetables and breakfast clash!

"Says who?!" is what I always tell Carlos when he says vegetables and breakfast together define my alien status.

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Red Lentil and Mushroom Spaghetti Bolognese

Who doesn't love a good bowl of pasta? Carlos's favorite pasta is a simple spaghetti with no sauce, just olive oil, lots of garlic, sautéed kale and mushrooms and lots of vegan parm, mine is pesto and definitely anything with tomatoes as a base (assuming Mac and cheese doesn't count because that's its very own food group right?). Add to that lots of chunkiness in the case of spaghetti bolognese and I'm extra happy. 

Ok fine, I love any and all forms of pasta.

Of course, we can make a delicious bolognese without using any meat, either with vegan meat crumbles, crumbled tofu or tempeh, chopped seitan, TVP, or, in the case of today's recipe, with something anyone can find at their regular store: lentils and mushrooms.

So here's the deal, red lentils (which are actually a cute pink/orangy color, are actually quite strange, they don't keep their round shape like other lentils do, which means they're not the best choice for cooking and eating whole or using on salads or veggie bowls. They're best in soups, dahls or curries, and in today's recipe and here's why.

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My Journey into Veganism

In last week's post and episode I told you all about my journey into cooking, so I thought it was fitting for me to follow that up with the story of how I ended up being vegan in the first place. To say I was as far away from vegan as possible for most of my life is the biggest understatement of the century! I wasn't born a health nut, I had no idea that the word "vegan" even existed, I never even questioned where my food came from. All I knew is I came from a house of total foodies. Food was our entire social life and shared experience as a family. I come from the weirdest family you'll ever meet, but fantastic food always seemed to be the thing that pulled us all together. In last week's episode I also told you all about my uncle Aly, who was the best cook I've ever met. I remember grilling steaks with him over an open fire in his house in the Catskills. Digging into steak tartare and "swimming" in an ocean of sushi. Just so you get an idea of how much of a carnivore I was, my family would joke when choosing restaurants for celebrations by saying "is there steak on the menu? Otherwise Kim won't be there". This sounds like a stretch but it wasn't. I would quickly browse a menu and stop the minute I saw the word steak, and say "yeah.. we can eat here!".

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My Journey into Cooking

Our idea for Brownble initially came from my desire to teach people how to cook vegan food, and the fact that we live far enough away from the city that starting with a  small group of "in person" classes was a bit complicated. That's when Carlos came along with his high tech ideas and placed the first grain of sand into what Brownble is today, not only our new site and this blog, but also our online vegan cooking classes as part of our cooking membership program. What I realized the other day was that this has actually been a huge metaphor for what my journey into cooking has been like, and now I'm looking at Brownble in a whole new different light. Today I'm sharing a bit of that story with you. By the end of this post you'll know all about the strange way my mom influenced my cooking, what I used to do as a teen every single day after school, my obsession with the French, how veganism completely changed my experience in the kitchen, and why cooking scrambled eggs under a tree made me into the vegan cook I am today. Yes, I said scrambled eggs!

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Stuck in a Rut: Adding Variety to your Cooking, Exercise Habits and Life

When I was planning out this post, I first thought there would be lots of head scratching if I told you about my relationship with routine. Then I thought that there are probably many of you out there who might read about my two sided dilemma and say "yup! That sounds about right!", so let me paint a picture for you. I love and I mean LOVE having a steady routine I can depend on. I thrive on knowing what the next day awaits, and I love those great comfy feelings I get when I know which days I have time scheduled for going to the farmer's market, or to the movies, or when a hike is coming so I can spend quality time with my dogs and my husband. I love being able to plan things out and having a written schedule really helps me focus and get things done. I love the calm that comes with knowing where life is at the moment and where it's going, and I stick to my people for life. In a way, I find that sticking to what I know and what feels comfortable is right up my alley. I am however, also very prone to get extremely moody and feel overwhelmed when I've had the same exact routine or structure for too long. I start to fret, begin feeling anxious and less energized in the morning upon waking, and I find my mind wandering, I feel unfocused and uneasy. It took me years until I finally understood what was going on, I was stuck in a rut and I needed a boost of variety to bring me back to normal. Knowing that I could get a little bag of tools I could whip out at any time gave me the biggest sense of relief, and that's what I'm going to share with you today.

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