Balls of Heaven and Weekday Semi-Vegan

Ever try nihuangbao? No? Oh, I feel sorry for you.

A few years ago, I traveled to England with my best friend, Connie.  Connie is a fellow yogini and a huge foodie.  She and I visited her aunt and uncle who live in Essex, and they took us out for dim sum.  For dessert, we were presented with nihuanbao: steamed buns filled with egg custard.  We were in love with these little balls of heaven.  Ever since then, we’ve tried to find them stateside but you can only really get them in either Asian foodstores or NYC.

About a week ago, my best friend went into New York City to visit family.  They went into Chinatown (she’s Asian) and stopped by a bakery to get some treats for home.  Connie and I have a deal that whenever we make trips into the city that involve Chinatown, we must buy nihuangbao to share with the other.  She called me from the bakery and asked what I wanted from the store aside from the steamed bun.  I said “surprise me!”

And she did!

Not only did she bring me bao (pictured below), she also got me sticky rice cakes that are vegan and gluten-free, and as a bonus: a pork bun (char siu bao)! Not pictured because…well.  It was long gone by that point.  Coincidentally, she got me these presents the same day my mom wanted us to have Chinese food for dinner.  I paired the pork bun with my order of steamed chicken and broccoli, and for dessert…it was bao time!

Creamy, custard-y, rich and gooey.  Amazing.  And the rice sticks were pretty cool! Tasted like solid rice pudding.  Thanks, Connie!!!!! I owe you some Italian desserts!

Now, on to the other part of my subject heading.

As you know, I suffer from severe IBS and lactose intolerance.  I can eat yogurt, but only in small amounts, and the times I’ve tried to have regular ice cream, it’s just given me a stomach-ache the next day.  This past week, I’ve attempted to detox my system of all dairy and meat products (and attempting to go gluten-free, too), and it’s made an incredible difference.  I’ve started to feel my body cleansing itself from the inside out.

But at the same time, I love chicken.  I love eggs.  I love Greek yogurt parfaits.  So…here’s the deal.

I’m going to try going Monday through Friday being totally vegan, with the exception of eggs if and when I need them.  It’s going to be hard, but I feel like my body wants it.  Ever since I started doing yoga, I’ve been craving foods that satisfy and nourish me but don’t weigh me down.  Vegan food has hit the spot for me in so many ways.  And I’m also going to ATTEMPT eating less gluten, however sometimes that just won’t be possible for me (I live in a family that runs on pasta the way America runs on Dunkin)

Take for example this amazing salad I concocted the other day: I cooked about 1/4 cup of a mixture of brown, black and wild rice (dry measure) with a few broccoli florets.  I then added about 1/2 cup butternut squash cubes and 1/2 cup chickpeas, then topped it with unsalted roasted pistachio meat on a bed of raw spinach.  I then doused the entire thing in nutritional yeast and balsamic vinegar. Completely vegan, filling, and delicious.

sidebar: I used to HATE pistachios, but now I love them.  Although the idea of pistachio ice cream weirds me out to no end.  They’re too salty and rich for ice cream! (although sometimes that rule can be bent a little bit.  Salted caramel ice cream? Sign me up!)

About a week ago I enjoyed this giant bowl of hazelnut cocoa cranberry oat bran, which filled me up and hit every spot on my “YUM” meter.

And a few days ago I enjoyed a smoothie in a bowl! I believe this contained 1 cup almond milk, 1 pear, 1/4 avocado, a huge handful or two of spinach, 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, unsweetened coconut flakes and raw cashews.

Oh, and a few days ago before I went vegan for the week I needed to use up the rest of a tub of Greek yogurt.  So it went on top of waffles, doused with apple/cranberry compote.

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2 thoughts on “Balls of Heaven and Weekday Semi-Vegan

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