My Food Biography

The credit for this post goes to the lovely Kaila, who always has the most creative post ideas! She shared her food biography recently, and it inspired me to think back about what meals have become memorable over the years. I’m going to be sharing 10, but I thought of a lot more!

You can read more about the idea behind a food biography here, but I think it’s a really cool idea. Food is such an important part of our lives, from the social aspect of it to the fact that it’s necessary to sustain life. For me, my food biography isn’t necessarily my favorite foods, since those change all the time, but rather is the foods I most associate with certain memories.

  • Einstein Bros. bagels with cream cheese (specifically the asiago and chocolate chip flavors)

Growing up, on some Saturday mornings my dad would wake up early and grab us bagels from Einstein Bros. Getting to eat a bagel for breakfast instead of the usual cold cereal was such a treat. I remember leisurely mornings around the table with my family, newspaper spread out (we’re big newspaper readers!) and enjoying either a chocolate chip bagel with strawberry cream cheese or an asiago bagel with jalapeno cream cheese. They had the best ‘shmear’ flavors and paired with the doughy bagel, it was just bliss. I haven’t had a bagel in years (major fear food) but I remember this special childhood treat.

  • Soy chocolate gelato at Gelazzi
One of my favorite flavor combos at Gelazzi--the soy chocolate and birthday cake.

One of my favorite flavor combos at Gelazzi–the soy chocolate and birthday cake.

When I first tried gelato (sometime in early HS) I was hooked. Even when froyo became a big thing a few years later, I stuck with gelato. We had one or two local places, but when I went on a college tour of the college I ended up going to, my dad and I just had to try Gelazzi, the gelato place in that town. I remember ordering the soy chocolate gelato and absolutely falling in love. That moment is significant for me because at the time of my college visit, I had recently started recovering from anorexia. I still feared most foods, and going out to eat was really hard for me. The fact that I could order gelato, a dessert, and enjoy it was huge. Since that first experience, me and my family have returned many times to Gelazzi and I’m sad that I can’t go there anymore since I moved away. P.S. Gelato is the reason why I’m only 99% vegan!

  • Teriyaki steak on Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve, for as long as I can remember, my mom made teriyaki steak for dinner. Basically it was flank steak marinated in a teriyaki sauce with lots of green onions. There was a brief time during my childhood that I was obsessed with steak (as long as it was well-done) and I always looked forward to this dinner. Even though I don’t eat steak anymore and I don’t plan on it ever, this meal just reminds me of Christmas Eve–going to church with my family, coming home and enjoying this meal, and then reading Christmas stories before going to bed early.

I’m so thankful my dad took the time to cook meals with me when I started getting interested in cooking. We’ve cooked together many times, but this one sticks out to me in particular. I’ve actually since made vegan eggplant muffulettas with him as well! I remember going to the store and picking out fancy olives and good bread and then coming home and making the sandwiches on the panini press. I enjoyed picking out a recipe with him, getting a little cooking lesson and then getting to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

  • Chili lime pasta

Another mom-made meal that I became obsessed with. When a Williams-Sonoma came to our city, my mom would always take me there to browse all the cool kitchen stuff. One time she found this chili-lime seasoning, thought it sounded good, and bought it. She used it on grilled chicken I think, but what I remember most was her chili-lime pasta. Basically it was a sauce made of olive oil and the seasoning with grilled shrimp, grilled peppers and pasta all tossed together. It was really simple but totally delicious and satisfying.

  • Snack plates
So much good stuff.

So much good stuff.

I still enjoy these to this day, but I was first introduced to them when my family would go camping. We camped a lot during the summers (something I really miss) and on Saturday (and Sunday if it was a 3 day weekend) we would always have snack plates for lunch. I always called it ‘feast’ because it really was–we would have stuff like crackers, veggies, cheese, summer sausage and fruit–and just enjoy a random sampling of it for lunch. Now I always crave a bunch of different flavors, so I still love snack plates for snacks and meals.

  • Root beer popsicles 

Popsicles were my jam in the summers growing up! I always ate the Popsicle brand, since it had the best flavors. Anybody else remember those firecracker pops? Now they have a whole bunch of crazy varieties like Jolly Rancher and Yosicles but when I was a kid, there were just the classics. And my favorite was by far the root beer one that came in the variety pack with banana and lemon lime. I remember the jokes written on the popsicle stick and eating them out on the porch with my little sister on hot days.

  • Jelly Bellies on Christmas

Another Christmas tradition in my family was Jelly Bellies. So random! But one year for whatever reason, we bought Jelly Bellies as a stocking stuffer and the idea stuck. I remember going to Target with my dad and sister a week before Christmas and filling our bags from the different flavored bins. And then my sister and I would tear into our bags on Christmas morning and eat Jelly Bellies before breakfast 😛 They were one of my favorite candies, and I was obsessed with certain flavors, like the strawberry cheesecake and orange creamsicle.

  • Mini cereal boxes

This was another camping staple. My family has always been a cold-cereal-for-breakfast bunch, and when we went camping, that didn’t change. But my mom would give in and let us have those fun, sugary kids cereals (we normally ate healthier cereals like Cheerios and Honey Bunches of Oats). My sister and I would fight over the Lucky Charms and the Cocoa Puffs and the Trix and leave the boring Honey Smacks and Corn Pops to our parents 😉

  • Hummus pizza at Poppy’s
So. Good.

So. Good.

After our camping days came to an end, we made an annual trip to Estes Park for a week spent in a cabin–by a pool, in the mountains, hiking and of course, enjoying the local restaurants. Estes Park is one of my favorite places in the entire world–I’m going to miss going there every summer but I hope I can eventually make it back there more regularly. Anyways, on our first night, we’d always go out to eat at Poppy’s, a pizza place by the river. We always sat outside, listening to the sounds of the river and live music. When I was younger, I’d get weird pizzas with shrimp and green olives (seriously, they had so many topping options) and then for a year or two during the height of my ED, I ordered a plain grilled chicken sandwich because I was scared of pizza, but after that time, my go-to order was the hummus pizza, which happened to be vegan (even before I was vegan). The dough was perfectly soft and chewy and the right thickness. The hummus was homemade and super creamy. The olives and the sundried tomatoes and the artichoke hearts and the spinach were matched perfectly and made it the best pizza I’ve ever had. Last summer when we were in Estes, I tried to order it and they said they’d gotten rid of it 😦 So unfortunately, the pizza legend does not live on. But I still remember how good it was, and how much I enjoyed just being in that beautiful place.

What foods would be in your ‘food biography’?

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Apparently I’m on a roll with these cheesy Christmas song titles 😉 What can I say, I’m in love with Christmas music and I’m so sad that most radio stations (besides Sirius XM) have stopped playing the stuff.

Anyways, I hope you all had a lovely Christmas (if you celebrate it) and a wonderful weekend. It was really nice just getting a couple of days to relax, have fun and not feeling the need to be ‘plugged in’. I love getting a break from technology every once in awhile, and Christmas is the perfect opportunity to do just that. But now I think it’s about time for a recap of the past few days, so here we go!

Friday

My mom and I headed out for last-minute gift shopping. Because we got a lot of snow on Thursday, we weren’t able to get out and get presents earlier, so unfortunately we had to face the crowds. But I was able to get some of my favorite things at Whole Foods, a game for my dad at Barnes and Noble and a cute necklace for my sister at American Eagle. I also bought myself my first-ever pair of jeggings at AE and surprisingly, I love them. I have a lot of issues with my body image, my legs and arms in particular, so I usually stick with looser fitting, boy fit type jeans. But I really needed some jeans that can fit in my new boots without looking baggy, so the jeggings fit the bill perfectly. They’re actually a lot more comfortable than I thought they would be, and not too tight at all. I think I might start actually buying jeggings and skinny jeans on a more regular basis, which is a total body image win!

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas...

Saturday

Christmas Eve! I love this day so much, maybe even more so than Christmas Day, because of the anticipation. The morning and early afternoon were pretty chill, and then we all got ready to go to church. I got to debut my new booties which was awesome! I also really loved the Christmas Eve church service. The end part is definitely the best, because the lights are turned off and everyone lights their candles and sings Silent Night. It’s just so beautiful and reminds me what the real reason for the season is. Afterwards, we drove around and checked out a few light displays and then went home to start on dinner. Now, I’m not gonna lie, I was feeling pretty uncomfortable around this time because dinner was going to be at least an hour later than I feel comfortable with. I hate eating so late because I’m afraid of weight gain, which is so stupid. Our bodies don’t know what time we’re eating, but it’s just a fear I cling to. But once I dug into the dinner I made, I didn’t feel so guilty. I made some vegan butternut squash ravioli, with peanut flour sauce and roasted asparagus spears on the side. It was an amazing Christmas Eve dinner, and I loved enjoying it with my family surrounded by candlelight. After dinner, we watched some of A Christmas Story on TV (best Christmas movie EVER!) and then went to bed…but not before my dad read me a few Christmas stories. It’s one of our traditions, and I always love hearing these classic stories year after year.

Check out my fierce booties!

The best Christmas Eve dinner I could ask for!

Sunday

The big day, of course! I woke up bright and early around 8 ‘o clock and made myself a delicious breakfast of peanutty raspberry chocolate oats and then my sister and I opened our stockings. We always open those in our pajamas, and then get ready for the day and then open presents together as a family. We always go around and open one at a time, so everybody can see what everyone else got and so the present-opening doesn’t go by way too quickly. I got a lot of amazing gifts, which I’m incredibly thankful for. A few highlights include metallic faux-snakeskin Bearpaw boots, a vegan dessert cookbook, a faux leather jacket, some gift cards to my favorite stores and dark chocolate covered espresso beans–a definite fear food of mine, but so so good that I’m not gonna let them go to waste, I’m just going to have a couple a day and enjoy them without any guilt 😀

Presents!

 

I love the dark chocolate+coffee combo!

The cute little countdown to Christmas app I have--I couldn't wait til it said 0 days, 0 hours, 0 minutes and 0 seconds!

Mi madre opening one of her gifts.

Bahaha I love how excited my sister is!

 

My dad is obviously in love with his new space heater.

 

After the present-opening, we continued to watch the 24 hour A Christmas Story marathon while munching on snacks. But the best part of the day was getting to go sledding in our yard! We got probably about half a foot of snow, so the sledding was great. We live on a 5 acre property with tons of pine trees and some hills in the back part of the property, so it’s always fun to get a chance to go sledding. It was our first white Christmas in awhile, and probably one of the only times we got to sled on Christmas Day. My sister, who usually hates sledding, actually went with my dad and I and we had the best time! It was a great workout climbing back up the hill in all that snow, of course, but I was just thinking about how fun it was. I absolutely hate feeling like I’m forcing exercise (which I still unfortunately tend to do) so working out in a fun way is definitely preferred. Sledding definitely did not feel like a workout, but it was nice to be active and get fresh air while still having fun and being with my family.

I ❤ sledding!

 

My dad loves sledding too!

Dinner was an awesome pasta dish that my mom made up. It’s so simple but just really tasty. It’s basically just bell peppers and pasta sauteed with this chili lime seasoning from Williams Sonoma and then she adds in some kind of protein. My version was with whole wheat pasta and shrimp and it was sooooo amazing! I hate traditional Christmas-type dinners (because I’m mostly vegetarian/vegan besides the occasional seafood and because it’s so boring) so this was a really nice change. After dinner, we played two new board games that we got (my family loves board games!) while watching It’s a Wonderful Life. Best way to end Christmas, in my opinion. Oh, but I can’t forget about dessert, of course! I enjoyed one of the raw pecan tartlets that I made–they were soooooo good! I’m not gonna lie that I didn’t feel guilty about eating it, because they’re fairly small but “high” in calories (not really, maybe around 120 per tartlet) but because they have such simple ingredients (basically just dates and nuts!) I didn’t feel too bad and they turned out delicious.

Raw Mini Pecan Pies (vegan, raw)

15 Medjool dates

2/3 cup raw nuts (I used a mix of almonds and pecans)

1 T raw nut butter (I used walnut)

sprinkle sea salt or kosher salt

Soak 12 of the dates for at least four hours and cover. Drain dates and add to food processor with nut butter and salt. Pulse until smooth, adding in soaking water if necessary to thin out. Set aside. Pulse nuts and remaining 3 dates until a fine crumb is form. Pack nut mixture into muffin liners (makes about 5) and freeze for an hour. Remove and pour in date mixture and freeze again for at least another hour. Top with chopped or whole pecans and serve straight from the freezer. 

Cute little desserts are the best!

Monday

I watched Holiday Inn with my dad in the morning (a really cool Christmas/holidayish movie from the 1940s with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire), enjoyed a delicious sweet potato topped with peanut flour for lunch and then ran a few errands with my dad and sister. It was kinda crazy out there to be honest, since apparently a lot of people like to return stuff and go shopping the day after Christmas, but we made it out alive 😉 Then for the best part, we went to Starbucks! I had to get my skinny soy peppermint mocha fix, of course! It was nice enough that we were able to sit outside, and I also bought myself a cute holiday cold cup for $5! Before Christmas, it was twice that much so maybe the post-Christmas bargains aren’t so bad after all!

My Christmas Eve 'dessert': peanut flour sauce, freeze-dried apples and vegan chocolate chips.

Well, today we’re planning on going up into the mountains for more sledding and I can’t wait! I’ll be back later in the week for more updates!

What was the most fun thing you did on Christmas? What is your favorite winter ‘sport’?