Friday, May 8, 2020

Rouxbe Cooking School

I hope everyone is staying sane and safe during this weird Coronavirus time. I think there is a lot of good that can come out of what many consider to be bad and giving us all the space to slow down and take time for ourselves is one of those things. For me, I've enriched my life with many positive things like being able to spend more time with my boyfriend, taking an ethics course online, and taking cooking classes online.

Some of you know that I went to a cooking school in Boulder, Colorado and it was absolutely fantastic. That school also started an online program a few years after I completed my certificate and I thought, 'well, that can't be as good as the real thing,' and while I still somewhat believe that to be true, I recently took some online courses at the leading online culinary school, Rouxbe, and was really impressed.


The first course I took was the longest and most involved and that was the Plant-Based Cooking: An Introduction. It starts with a course platform tour that helped me understand how the platform works. The opening information about the course made the course seem accessible to all: "Switching to a plant-based diet is challenging, even for experienced cooks," which is totally true. They also introduce their Map of Cooking, which is the framework upon which the courses are based and is helpful in organizing information.

The courses follow a logical progression and are organized by units, lessons and tasks. I loved that it started with knife skills, which are really important for veg chefs. Each task has a combination of text to read, videos, and practice. Most things are demonstrated in a video that you can stop and play back as needed. I was amazed at how much I learned in this course.

I enjoyed refreshing my knife skill knowledge by practicing with scallions. There was also nutrition information that was spot-on! And immediately beneficial was the explanation of moist-heat vs. dry-heat cooking methods. While we all cook in some way, I'm not sure everyone understands why we do things in a certain order in a recipe. Rouxbe explains all of that. I really wanted to do some more roasting so I made the Roasted Cauliflower recipe and it turned out amazing.



Then, I was inspired to try the Roasted Eggplant recipe. It was much more involved than you would think, but in the end, I made the best roasted eggplant I've ever had and turned that into Baba Ganoush! I was so impressed with the end result!

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They go into the combination cooking methods as well like braising and stewing. Then, into vegetables and salad. Do you know the proper way to make vinaigrette? Do you know why we add acid during cooking and to which vegetables this enhances color? Do you know how to properly store salad? Do you know how to preserve vegetable pigments while cooking? All of this is covered. I also made the Kale Salad as a practice recipe. Delicious!


Juicing is covered as is how to properly cook grains, legumes, and rice. I really enjoyed the section on the different ways to cook rice. It shows that we can all learn and relearn these things over the years. Some of this stuff was a really nice reminder and some was new.

The practice recipes were really top-notch and there are still so many more I want to try. In addition to this course, there are lots of others. The ones I took and enjoyed were Art of the Wok: Stir-Frying, Food Safety, How to Cook & Make Pasta, and Cooking Vegetables. While there is definitely some overlap, I found I learned some important techniques in each of these courses.

I also liked that there is a self-assessment at the beginning of each course and practice quizzes before the final exam. At the end, you are given a certificate and sent on your way!

Rouxbe offers a free 30-day trial and is currently offering a special membership of only $59.99 for the year, which is well worth it in my opinion. To sign up, click here.

Full Disclosure: While I received a free two-month membership to Rouxbe, that did not influence my veracious opinion.

Monday, April 6, 2020

What the heck should I do all day? Version 2

For those of you holed up due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all this free time could be driving you crazy. But, for those of us that have been lucky enough to stay healthy, the extra time we have on hand could be a blessing in disguise. It has allowed companies and individuals to think creatively and now you can even use this time to take that course online that you always wanted to take.

Here are 5 of my favorite things to do right now:

1. Netflix Party: By installing a Google Chrome extension, you can now watch Netflix shows and movies with your friends. You just log on to your Netflix account and once you find what you and your friends want to watch, then you click the NP extension in your browser and voila! you receive a link. Send that link to your friends and you are now watching it live together complete with a chat room on the side that you can use to discuss the series or movie.  Now you too can watch Tiger King with your friends! To download it, click here.


2. Free Online College Courses: Class Central has put together an amazing list of the top nearly 450 free online courses by Ivy League Colleges. I was surprised at how many free courses were available! And I'm currently taking The Ethics of Eating course by Cornell, which raises some interesting points about factory farming and its effects on...well everything. This course, however, is not pro-vegan, rather it states arguments from those who promote the eating of animals as well as those who do not and a lot more. I'm only in week two now, but I'd recommend it based on what I've seen. To see the list, go here.


3. Hamsters: You know they are cute. And how about spending just five minutes watching one of the coolest and cutest videos of all time?! A spine that allows a hamster to turn 360-degrees inside a small tube and cheeks that extend to their hips--there's so much to learn with the amazing videography and narration in this video.


4. Free Photography Courses: Nikon is offering free photography courses during the month of April. This is your chance to learn how to better photograph the landscape, people, pets, and much more. These classes run from 15 minutes to one hour in length and usually are available for a charge, but this month only, they are free. Access them by clicking here.


5. Virtual Vegan Happy Hour? Why not! Join the Vegetarian Society of DC for a Virtual Happy Hour tomorrow, April 7 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. Pour up a Quarantini and a cute vegan t-shirt and meet like-minded people online. Join here.


That's it for now! Stay tuned for more if the quarantine continues...

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Papa John's Now Offers Vegan Pizza Delivery

In these days and times, it is better to order food than to go pick it up. So why not order a pizza today?! Papa John's now offers vegan pizza delivered!

There was a time, in the not too distant past, when certain things were hard to come by. One important example: vegan pizza. Now it's yours for the asking, and you can even get it delivered to you. It's all part of the pizza revolution: pizza the way you want it, with nutritional ingredients, fresh onions, peppers, roma tomatoes, and mushrooms. To get a custom pizza without any animal products, you just have to build the pizza the way you like.
  • Start with original hand-tossed dough that contains no animal products
  • Add the original or BBQ sauce
  • Layer on an assortment of veggies such as peppers, spinach, pineapple, and onions
  • Throw on some seasonings or sauces to add flavor


There, as quick as that, you have veganized your pizza. For a complete meal, add a side such as original breadsticks and drinks and you are all set. In a few minutes, the pizza will be delivered to your door.

The Importance of Quality Ingredients
It is important and understandable that you want to know what goes into the food you are eating. Fortunately, now it's easier than ever to find out all of the nutritional info on your orders by looking online or asking a customer service representative. It can be comforting to know that the best gluten free pizza crust is yours for the asking. Made from ancient grains, including sorghum, teff, amaranth, and quinoa, the crust is thin and crispy and has a uniquely delicious flavor. This is all part of the "better ingredients, better pizza movement," with a simple goal: provide quality foods for customers. In 2016, this resulted in the removal of artificial flavors and synthetic colors from the food menu. Other enhancements include not using certain preservatives or flavor enhancers, partially hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup in any of the menu items. It's all about menu transparency and giving customers the needed tools to make informed choices.

The Importance of Affordability
It is always nice when the food you eat and love is good for you, and it's certainly helpful when you get a good deal. When it comes to the affordability scale, nearly everyone will agree that free pizza is about as good as it gets. With a robust rewards program, you can rack up points every time you order. Soon you will be rewarded with a pizza on the house. You can also look for exclusive offers, deals, promo codes, and discounts that make this already affordable choice of pizzas or Papadias even less expensive. This includes a vegan pizza or one with a gluten-free crust, as well as everything else on the menu. It's an affordable choice for treating the family to a night out, or bringing the meal to you with delivery. Eat well today and get your favorite pizza.



Full Disclosure: This is a sponsored post by Papa John's. Besides that, I love Papa John's pizza. :-)

Thursday, March 19, 2020

What the heck should I do all day? (In response to COVID-19 isolation)

Hello everyone! As you may have noticed, I've taken a break from blogging since I relocated to Switzerland in August of 2018.



What? Why did you do that?


Good question! As many of you know, in addition to being a vegan blogger, I'm also an extreme sports athlete. Having started with drag racing at the tender age of 22, it seemed only logical that I someday get into skydiving and BASE jumping (jumping off of buildings, antennas, bridges, and mountains with a parachute). I've been participating in skydiving regularly since 2016 and BASE jumping since 2018. My BASE jumping "career" almost ended abruptly in my first year when I had a terrible accident in Norway in 2009 that resulted in me shattering my heel bone and breaking my ankle. It was during this time of reflection that I started this blog.

Now let's fast forward to November 9, 2016, which is the day that Trump was elected president. I do not want to turn this into a political blog and appreciate all of my followers regardless of which party they identify with, but, for me, this was equivalent to the end of the world. In 2017, I called the German Embassy to see if I might have been born a dual citizen as my mother was born in Germany and come to find out that the law changed the year I was born, so I was born a dual citizen even though my older brother was not. So I could actually leave the country? It started as a joke, but ended up changing my life. I went to the German embassy in Washington, DC in 2017 and picked up my passport, then moved to Switzerland in August 2018 where I've been happily BASE jumping since!


Again fast forwarding...this time to today and here we are in a crisis. Here in Switzerland, everything has closed except for pharmacies, grocery stores, gas stations, etc. We are supposed to stay inside, but that's driving everyone crazy. And I have a personal crisis in that I ruptured my ACL and tore my meniscus in a skiing accident, so I've been recovering inside since December 30! This experience has made me grateful for all that I have and now I'd like to give back to my community. So, I thought I'd share some resources that may help brighten your day. Instead of overwhelming you with lots of resources, I'm going to highlight just five to begin.

1. Rouxbe Cooking School: They call themselves the leading online culinary school and while I'm currently taking their classes and planning to review them, from what I've seen, they are very high quality classes. They have just announced a 30-day FREE membership providing access to 75 lessons, hundreds of chef-created recipes and more than 12 courses ranging from pasta to knife skills. Everything is available to members 24/7 and can be streamed on any device. With restaurants being closed in many areas, it's the perfect time to hone your cooking skills! To sign up, visit https://rouxbe.com/trial.


2. The Dailey Method Meditation: This FREE 21-Day Meditation Challenge is perfect for those who don't feel like they have time for meditation. I've been doing it from Day 1 and it starts with just 5-minute long meditations and progresses up to a 13-minute long meditation (so far). I find it cleansing to clear my mind and be present a few minutes per day. They started on March 2 and are scheduled to continue through March 22, so be sure to access them soon. I imagine they'll be online a bit longer than the last scheduled day. You can access the meditations at https://thedaileymethod.com/Online/browse/class-format/dailey-meditation/21-day-meditation-challenge/.



3. DuoLingo: Learn a new language for FREE! Using DuoLingo's platform, you can begin learning a new language right away. They make it fun and interactive and some languages allow you to access "stories" to chat with a bot. If nothing else, it's entertaining and you are bound to learn a thing or two. To join, go to https://www.duolingo.com/.

4.  Yoga District: DC's leading yoga studios is offering live online classes in yoga and meditation. This studio employs top-notch instructors and offers high quality instruction. Full Disclosure: I used to teach yoga there as well. :-) To see the class offerings, go to https://www.yogadistrict.com/.


5. Tour a Museum (Virtually): Travel and Leisure Magazine put together links for 12 museums that offer online interactive or video tours and they are really cool! Who said you couldn't become more cultured sitting at home? To view, go to https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours.


So that's it for today. I hope you enjoy these resources and I hope to be back with more soon. Let me know if you know of some I can share with others!