Archive for the ‘Minneapolis/St. Paul’ Category

Good Friday!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Friday today, because I did. Today was full of awesome.

First things first. My “lifestyle change” goals are still on track! I’ve been swapping alcohol for water and eating healthier this week and it’s already made a tiny difference. I got into my skinniest skinny jeans today which of course made the rest of the day really that much better.

I also was at an elementary school today assisting teachers in 5th grade, 2nd grade and my absolute favorite…kindergarten. The kids have next week off so today they celebrated Thanksgiving. The little kids are sweet enough on any given day, but today was even more unbearably cute because they had a little Thanksgiving Feast, complete with paper construction bonnets and pilgrim hats. I had a permanent smile on my face all day. Then as I walked down the hallways and looked at the artwork on the walls, I laughed as I found “Don’t eat me” turkey’s some kids made.

I got out of the school early and went to eat a early dinner at Big Bowl and was pleasantly surprised to find out that they have a new vegetarian and gluten free menu! This totally rocked my world! I already love Big Bowl, and had a few signature vegetarian meals that I always ordered but now there’s a whole menu! There’s new appetizers and entrees. Here are some of the new entrees:
Cilantro Salad – cilanto, pressed tofu, roasted peanuts and sesame dressing

Crispy Tofu – chiles, fresh ginger, soy-sesame dressing

Unfried Rice – jasmine rice, wok tossed with fresh ginger, spicy Fresno chilies, shiitake, bamboo, Sichuan vegetable, pressed tofu with sunny-side up egg.

Lucky 8 – eight types of vegetables such as green beans, spinach, napa cabbage and tofu with sesame soy sauce. The complete eight will depend on what’s local and seasonal at the time.

I tried the Unfried Fried Rice. Two thumbs up! And because I’m trying to cut my extra calories, I boxed half of the meal. I actually pushed half of it on one side of my plate and didn’t touch it. This is like a first. Second accomplishment? Passed on the alcohol again! Oh so good. Third accomplishment? Passed on dessert!

My aura is so positive right now, I just had to share because maybe I can pass it on to you! Here’s to accomplishing goals and little kids! Love!

Have an amazing weekend!
“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”  -Winston Churchill

Advertisements

Victory!

I went to the Wild game. I had no beer. I had no pretzel with fake cheese. I settled for water and popcorn! I did good. 😉
On another interesting note: They sell veggie burgers and veggie kabobs at the Xcel Center! Totally awesome.

Who will win tonight?

Being healthy is one thing. Being sober is another. Who knew that the hardest part of my week would be giving up booze? (And it’s only Wednesday.)  All my other goals I am on track with. It’s just this not drinking thing that’s really making me want to rip my face off. How do normal people only consume alcohol in moderation?

Here’s the real dilemma: Tonight I am going to the Minnesota Wild hockey game where I will be surrounded by beer guys shouting out insanities like “Cold beer! Who wants a cold beer? I got your cold beer!” Damn those insensitive jerks. What am I to do? As if the smell of overly large soft pretzels with fake cheese isn’t bad enough, now I have to resist from the juice too? Why did I do this to myself.

Oh yeah I remember. Because I don’t want liver damage. What I’ve done to my liver thus far as well as the rest of my body is near suicide. My poor liver deserves a trophy…whatta champ. It’s time for me to give something back to my body, like health. So here goes. Let’s see if resistance is one of my talents. Go Wild!

“Every moment of resistance to temptation is a victory.” – Frederick William Faber

Where do we eat?! Where DON’T we eat!?

One of the top reasons/complaints/questions I get pertain to where and what I get to eat. “Well doesn’t it suck, like not being able to go to restaurants?”  Why can’t I go to restaurants? Silly people! There are so, so many places in

Azia, we almost had our wedding reception here!

the Twin Cities where I can get vegetarian meals it’s remarkable! Below, I have an extensive list of places that are either all veg, all vegan, or are vegan/vegetarian friendly! The crazy thing? This isn’t even all of them…there are hundreds more from where this list came from! Do a little digging on the internet and you are bound to find more! Happy Hunting!
Vegetarian Options
128 Cafe, St. Paul
Adelita’s (Mexican), Mpls
Amici Pizza & Bistro, Mpls
Azuki’s Sushi, Stadium Village Mpls
Bagu Sushi, Mpls
The Barbary Fig (Moroccan), St. Paul
Barbette (French), Mpls
Barley John’s, New Brighton
The Bean Factory, St. Paul
Bob’s Java Hut (soup, sandwiches, salads), Mpls
Bombay Bistro (Indian), Mpls
Bravo! Cafe and Bakery, St. Paul
Bryn Mawr Pizza and Deli, Mpls
Burger King (I’m serious, they have a Veggie burger!), all over
Chatterbox Pub, Mpls and St. Paul
*Chili’s, all over
*Chino Latino, Mpls
Christo’s (Greek), Mpls and St. Paul
*Davanni’s, all over
Delicious Cafe and Brazilian Grill, Minnetonka
*Dino’s Gyros (Greek), Roseville
Dulono’s Pizza, Mpls
Fuji-Ya (Japanese), St. Paul
*Green Mill, all over
Hard Times Cafe, Mpls
II Gatto (Italian), Mpls
*Jimmy John’s, all over
*Mt. Fuji, Mpls and Maple Grove
*Olive Garden, all over
*Panco Villa (Mexican), Mpls
*Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Rosedale Mall
Solera (Tapas Bar), Mpls
Vegan & Vegetarian Options
5 Spice Asian Take-out, Blaine
501 Club, Mpls
Acadia Cafe, Mpls
Amazing Thailand, Mpls
Anodyne, Mpls (Cafe)
*Asia’s Finest Restaurant, Vadnais Heights
Asian Express, St. Paul Skyway
*Azia, Mpls
Back Door Deli, Vadnais Heights
The Bad Waitress, Mpls
*Baja Sol, all over
*Bambu (Vietnamese and Chinese), Maplewood
Ban Thai Restaurant, White Bear Lake
Bangkok Thai Deli, St. Paul
Bar Abilene (Mexican), Mpls
BD’s Mongolian BBQ, Burnsville
Beirut Restaurant (Lebanese), St. Paul
Best of India, St. Louis Park
*Big Bowl, all over
Birchwood Cafe, Mpls
Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, St. Paul
Black Sea Restaurant (Turkish), St. Paul
Black Sheep Coal Fired Pizza, Mpls
Blue Moon Coffee Cafe, Mpls
Blue Nile (Ethiopian), Mpls
*Bona Vietnamese Restaurant, Mpls
Bordertown Cafe, UofM Campus
Breadsmith, all over
Broder’s Cucina Italiana, Mpls
*Bruegger’s Bagels, all over
Bryant Lake Bowl, (bowling alley with vegan options-weird but cool), Mpls
*Buca di Beppo (Italian), Maple Grove and Mpls
*Burrito Loco, Dinkytown
Cafe Latte, St. Paul
*California Pizza Kitchen, all over
Caspian Bistro (Iranian), Mpls
Cheng Heng (Cambodian), St. Paul
Chiang Mai Thai, Mpls
Chin’s Asia Fresh, Minnetonka
*Chipotle, all over
Cosmos, Mpls
Crave (Italian), Edina
Cupcake, Mpls
*Dunn Brothers, all over
*Ecopolitan, Mpls
Eden Pizza, St. Paul
*Einstien Bros. Bagels, all over
*Erbert and gerbert’s, all over
Everest on Grand (Nepalese and Tibetan), St. Paul
Falafel King (Middle Eastern), all over
French Meadow Bakery and Cafe, Mpls
Galactic Pizza, Mpls
*Good Earth, Roseville and Edina
*Gopher Express, UofM Campus
Grand Szechuan, Bloomington
*Grumpy’s, Roseville and Mpls
*The Independent, Mpls
It’s Greek to Me, Mpls
Izzy’s Ice Cream Cafe, St. Paul
*Jamba Juice, all over
*Jasmine 26, Mpls
*Jasmine Deli, Mpls
Johnny Rockets (60’s drive thru), Bloomington
*Khan’s Mongolian BBQ, Roseville and Richfield
King and I Thai, Mpls
Little Tijuana (Punk Rock Mexican? Whatever that means. Lol, that’s what their site actually says), Mpls
*The Local (Irish bar), Mpls
*Lucky Dragon, Mpls
moto-i (Japanese), Mpls
*Muddy Paws Cheesecake, St. Louis Park
*Napa Valley Grille, MOA
*Noodles and Company, all over
OM (Upscale Indian), Mpls
*P.F Chang’s, all over
*Panera, all over
*Pei Wei (Fast food Pan-Asian), all over
Pineda Tacos, all over
*Pizza Luce, Mpls (3 locations) and St. Paul
*Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge (Bar food), Mpls
*Rainbow Chinese Restaurant and Bar, Mpls
*Sawatdee (Thai), Mpls, Maple Grove, St. Paul
*Shuang Cheng (Chinese), Dinkytown (My favorite restaurant of all time!)
Triple Rock Social Club (Punk Bar-serves breakfast-I need to go here!), Mpls
Tucci Benucch (Italian), MOA
Turtle Bread Company, Mpls (2 locations)
*Village Wok, UofM Campus-open hella late, like till 2am!
Vincent A Restaurant (French), Mpls
W.A Frost and Company, St. Paul

*Places I’ve ate vegetarian meals at, so feel free to ask me questions!

Pictures (Click to enlarge.)

Barbette.

Blue Nile.

Everest on Grand.

Fuji-Ya.

The Good Earth.

Izzy’s Ice Cream Cafe- Vegan ice cream? So cool!

Cafe Latte.

Christo’s.

OM.

Solera.

Jasmine 26; A Step up from the Deli

Last night my best friend G and I took one of our girlfriends out for her birthday, named A. Being that A and I are both vegetarians we decided to try out a new vegetarian place, called Jasmine 26 in Minneapolis. Many people, especially foodies, have heard of Eat Street. Normal folks call it Nicollet, but for the foodies, it is Eat Street…the magical street that boosts every authentic and cultured meal known to Minneapolis. The diversity there is remarkable, from Vietnamese, Mexican, Greek, American, All Raw to Indian (and everything else in-between). Many people have experienced Jasmine Deli…which is owned by the same folks as Jasmine 26. Jasmine Deli, which I have reviewed before ( see post ‘Tofu Wars’) is a great little hole in the wall dive that has a great variety of authentic Vietnamese dishes as well as many vegetarian/vegan options. It literally can only seat 12 people-max, but people still come in droves to wait for a seat anyways. So Jasmine Deli decided to make a larger and more upscale version of their highly successful Deli, and there’s where Jasmine 26 comes in. Jasmine 26 is a beautiful restaurant nestled next to The Bad Waitress on the corner of 26th and Nicollet. The place is larger than it’s proceeder, is spacious and has a remarkably large and full bar guarded by a wall sized Buddha. Very cool!

G, A and I debated sitting outside on the cute wicker chairs and tables they have lining up outside their building but decided since it was over 90 degrees out, inside would be just fine. First dilemma to conquer? What to drink. They have a large and extensive menu of what I call “fancy” drinks, wines and beer. I settled on Sapporo, my fave Japanese beer (that’s brewed in Canada…strange? That will be a different blog…), A settled on a martini, and G got the interesting if not fascinating Frozen Bubble Tea. For anyone who has had Bubble tea, you know exactly why this concoction is strange. Frozen bubble tea? Frozen liqured bubble tea? Well G got it, and we all tried it. Excellente! G got the Mango version, but there’s also other flavors, including coconut. Yum! Yum!

Since we were fiendishly excited over too many options on the menu we all got an appetizer as well as a main dish. On the appetizer course we got the Coconut Cream Cheese Wontons, Sea Salt and Pepper Cube Tofu and Lettuce Wraps. Delicious, delicious, delicious. We were all amazed by the appetizers. So much that we ate almost all of them before I realized I hadn’t snapped any pictures! Opps. So that’s why my pictures show scantily clad plates of food…

The cream cheese wontons were definitely different…it had the familiar taste that we all know and love but then it had a little sweet coconut to it, and served with homemade pineapple sauce, it was perfection. The tofu. Omg. I know I always praise P.F Chang’s tofu as my favorite, but I think I found a new one. This appetizer of lightly fried tofu is a-mazing. G, isn’t even a fan of tofu and she was addicted to that stuff!  On the outside it has a little spicy kick, and flavored so delectably by salt and pepper; on the inside it is hot, soft and with less flavor (in this case it works out so, so well). The contrast between the very flavorful and crispy outside is great with the soft and less flavorful inside. It’s so good. I have been thinking about it all day. The lettuce wraps came out so beautifully wrapped. Seriously like little presents-they were wrapped with rice udon noodles, eggs, cucumbers, mints, bean sprouts and had little baby shrimp on the outside neatly tucked into the cilantro tying the package together. (Everything we got was vegetarian except the lettuce rolls, but you can easily take the shrimp off!)

Onto the main meal. G got the Pho (beef), I got the Vegetarian Pho and A got the Grilled Shrimp Coconut Milk Noodle Salad without the shrimp (she got mock duck instead). G thought her beef broth was good, sweeter than usual but still very delicious. It came out similar to most other places serving pho. Mine however was different, but this was expected. For anyone who doesn’t have Pho knowledge, it is the common Vietnamese soup that can be eaten literally for any meal. It is usually made of (beef) broth, flavored with onions, herbs, bean sprouts, lemon, lime, and is made with rice noodles and served with meat, tofu or mock duck. It is as common to the Asians and foodies, as it is the all American Chicken Noodle Soup. I have it when I’m sick, when I’m cold, when I’m tired, when I’m hungover and most definitely when I crave Vietnamese food. This was my first time ever having Pho that had broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots in it. Your first impression would be, “That’s wrong” and I wouldn’t correct you. It was wrong. I understand that I ordered the Veggie Pho…but I thought all would be replaced was my broth and meat. No, they added in other stuff too. I’m not saying it was bad, I’m just saying it was different and not in a way that I favor. The broth however was good, since I have had vegetarian Pho that has been downright bad before, so at least I can give them props on that. A also wasn’t too impressed with her meal, saying it lacked flavor. It’s described as “Grilled shrimp (in her case, mock duck) tossed in coconut milk with thick “udon-style” rice noodles, garnished with shredded lettuce, cucumber, herbs, cilantro, and a sprinkle of roasted peanuts. Served with house vinaigrette sauce.” Without the shrimp, shedidn’t have much of a coconut taste, so her noodle dish ended up being rather bland. She had to add a lot of hoisin sauce (which they called Ha Noi sauce here, so don’t be tricked) and chili pepper sauce to her dish to make it taste better.

In conclusion, we would probably rate it a B+.

The presentation was beautiful, the place was clean and gorgeous, the service was good, the appetizers had us drooling, our drinks were overall normal, and the main dishes were aiight. So, to round it off we gave them a great B+ and think that if they can improve on their main dishes, and maybe take the prices down a notch it would be a stellar A. Still, we have to be grateful for them to make such a nice, vegetarian and vegan friendly restaurant. Almost every single thing on the menu can be made vegetarinized.  Would we go there again? Totally, and next time you can join us! 😉

PSMF; Day 1

I enjoyed a stroll through Target’s beauty section today, looking for the topical and face wash of my dreams. I’m starting to think I should have gone to Ulta. Anyways, I settled on Clearasil’s new Overnight Face Wash. I have no idea why it’s different than any other face wash since it’s active ingredient (like everything else) is salicylic acid-10%. But after looking over the label it does look like it carries other ingredients, and it also promises to reduce redness and size overnight. Hmm. Sounds good, if it works that is. So I put it in my basket. Next on the list, a daytime face wash. Well since I’m not really into mix and matching products I stuck with Clearasil’s acne face wash. Nothing exciting for this boring lassie. Alright, so far so good. I’ll give these things a try and if it doesn’t do anything, or worse, makes things more unbearable I will stop being so cheap and go to the freaking makeup counter at Macy’s.

Next, a topical. I didn’t like Target’s selection, since nothing really seemed natural enough to put on my face so I headed over to my fave place, Trader Joe’s. Here I found all natural tea tree oil. I had read online that this essential oil can kill propionibacterium acnes (big words for skin dwelling bacteria that causes zits). Compared to benzoyl peroxide (which is in dermatologist’s fave-Differin), tea tree oil has fewer side effects since it’s all natural. I shouldn’t experience itching, burning, stinging or dryness. Nice. I was even more sure of my decision when my teenage cashier said “Oh! This stuff is sweeeeeeeet!” Score! A puberty stricken teenager applauding tea tree oil!? This stuff has to work.

So tonight after washing my face I opened up the bottle of (expensive) tea tree oil. Holy crap. It smells. And not like flowers. It’s like opening up a cheap bottle of vodka  and inhaling it deep into your nostrils. Gagging will ensure. I dabbed the stuff on my face while complaining to my husband that I was going to vomit, and exited the bathroom, which now reeked of the stuff, as fast as possible. I didn’t know how I was going to go to bed tonight folks. No joke. My face smells. WIth every turn, every whiff, I smell a strange, strong, potent, mixture of cheap vodka and strong tequila. This stinks. Literally. But now that I have sat here and blogged for a while, the smell is (A) either gone or (B) I can no longer smell it.

So sweet dreams ladies and gents, lets see if there’s improvement in the morning! This smell better be worth it! Good night!

Day 1 of PSMF

Priority #1? Happiness.

About 5 months ago I couldn’t have told you anything that I can tell you now. Right now I can tell you that I’m going to grad school and getting my Masters. I can tell you that I love my job. I can tell you that I can’t wait to be a teacher. I can honestly say I feel stress, oh, only about 10% of the time. Overall, I am a rather happy, satisfied and optimistic person.

About 5 months ago I could have told you that I hated my job. I had no idea where my future was going. I was confused. I was depressed. I was stressed 80% of the time. Why the huge difference you ask? Well let me rewind…

About 5 months ago I was working at a well known corporation, who has a great reputation, and is doing fairly well for our times. I was psyched when I got offered this position and couldn’t wait to begin my new career. I had originally gone to school for business because I had rather big (and rather shallow) goals for myself. I wanted to be a boss. I wanted to manage because it was my way or the highway (I’m a tad bossy, says my husband). And the worse part of my dream? I wanted to make lots of molla. I wanted to make the greens. I had a brief stint after my first 2 years of college and was playing with the idea of teaching instead, but quickly talked myself out of it. Teachers don’t make any money. Pfth! See? I told you my goals were shallow. Anyways, getting this job was perfect to me. I had high hopes. I was planning on working my way up the corporate ladder and stay with this company for many years in the foreseen future. I was getting a nice paycheck, fabulous benefits, and felt respected.  Finally I had my “grown up job.” This high was quickly deflated when I actually started working.

Working consisted of sitting at my “desk” (aka cubicle), pretending I was busy, kissing ass, following a million procedures-doing a million of them wrong-then fixing them to fit regulations before I got written up, making phone calls after phone calls, and emailing half of the day. It also consisted of meetings with my manager on a daily basis that I seriously had no idea how it was contributing to really any results. Don’t get me wrong…I wasn’t hating on my job because I was failing at it. I was doing great. Top numbers, great results, happy clients, the whole nine yards. However, doing “great” had it’s tolls. Everyday I would come home completely worn out, irritated, stressed and worried about the next day. How was I going to perform tomorrow? Where and how was I going to get my day’s numbers? Who am I meeting with? How many meetings do I have? I wanted to pull my hair out every single night. My poor husband had to listen to me bitch and rant until bedtime, and even then, it didn’t stop. I was loosing sleep from laying there awake with my mind racing about going to work the next morning. I even called my parents and told them, and I never do that. Admit defeat to my father? Yeah right. So this must have been bad!

Then in the morning after my fabulous nights sleep filled with nightmares about work, I would put on my suit…and wanted to shoot myself. It gets worse. I am not exaggerating (and I swear on my future baby’s life) that when I reached the street my office was on, I wanted to throw up. I had to swallow chunks back. ( I know, TMI, sorry.) Not only throw up but possibly get into a car accident so that I could miss work. Oh how wonderful would it be if someone crashed into me? I bet I could get a couple weeks off! I would even find myself cursing and whining all the way into the office like a child even though there was no one there to listen to me.

Each day I’d greet my work bestie and cubicle neighbor R, and give him the look. The look that says “Please kill me. Or punch me. Or anything to put me out of my misery.” I love R. He was one of the only reasons why I didn’t get suicidal. We would email each other back and forth during the day with smiley faces and dumb jokes to lighten up hell.

“R, do you feel like we are living ‘Office Space?” I asked him one day.
“YES. Everyday!”
I only nodded. We didn’t need to tell each other about our miseries…we both already knew them. Finally it hit me I couldn’t do this anymore. Life is way too short for this BS!
“R, I don’t want to do this anymore.”
“Me neither, but what are we going to do?” R shrugged. Get the F out of here is what we’re going to do! I thought.
“Shit. I don’t even really like what I’m doing much less the company. I don’t even really like people!” I started thinking out loud. “I like kids. Damn it. I should have been a teacher.” Long pause. “I think I’m going to do something about it.”
“Like what?” R was half encouraging and half thinking I was looney tunes.
“Hmm. I don’t know yet. I’ll tell you when I know.” And I instantly went to my desk to do some “work.” My work? I went online to search up new jobs. I cruised the internet and started reading about graduate schools, different programs, and careers that are looking’ good in the future. I think I did this for a week. (Shh. I know. Bad bad employee.)

I seriously felt like I was having a quarter life crisis. After getting my undergrad done, my resume built up, my “dream job”…was this all that was left? Was this it? I enlisted the help, advice and opinions of all around me and came to a conclusion.

“R, I’m going back to school, and I’m going to teach kids!” I proclaimed to R the day I made up my mind. I was happier than ever. I was getting out of that place once in for all.
“Seriously?!” Yes he totally thought I was nuts. I was a business major. A former manager. A current private sector employee. What the hell was this person doing about to change her life?
“Yeah. I’m not happy. And I’m not going to stay unhappy forever.” I was sure. I already knew the things I would be loosing…my awesome benefit packages, my fat paychecks, my cute business cards…but really, enough was enough. I wasn’t going to make the mistake of going through the rest of my life wishing I had done something else. So that was that. I quit shortly after, on the spot (to boot!) and have never been happier.

I got judged immediately from what feels like thousands of people.
“Are you sure? But you are such a business woman!” – My mother.
“What are you thinking? Quitting a good job in this economy?” -From my lovely brother in law. Gag.
“You want to start over?”
“You know you’re not going to be getting paid as much.” – My (former) boss! Hah.
“This is sort of a hard time to be making such rash decisions.”
Blah blah blah. Life is too short to be unhappy people. Money, yes we need it, but it doesn’t and shouldn’t rule us. Happiness on the other hand I wouldn’t mind being ruled over. So I stuck to my guns and left. I’m now happily watching kids, making more money, happily a student once more, and prepared to finally do what I’ve always wanted. Money no longer looks like the best option to me, and even though I spent years studying the art of running a business, and how to direct people I don’t see any of that time as a waste. I will someday run a classroom and direct children, so in the end all my education was worth it.

To my bestie R…he’s still there today biting his nails and working his little tush off. His numbers are now the best in the office and he’s getting his well deserved recognition. But I still hope he ends up finding what he really wants and ends up happy. Like me. 🙂

Good night and here’s to a happy tomorrow!