Matched (Matched, #1)Matched by Ally Condie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Good storyline. A little reminiscent of "The Hunger Games" but only that it's set in the future in a society ruled by the government. I loved how the story could have gone one of two ways. And when you're reading it you really don't know how it's going to end up at first. I also liked the characters and felt attached to both Xander and Ky. I like books that don't make you favor one over the other right away, that way each character gets an equal following. =) I also really liked Cassia as the main character. You can tell that she's torn over what to do and she's not entirely selfish like most other leading ladies. I'm curious to see how the rest of the story plays out.

View all my reviews


DAY 16.

Last weekend my sister went to a vegan bakery in San Francisco and got me a couple treats. This particular bakery was what they call a "baking cooperative" meaning that different bakers come together and sell their food at this one bakery. The baker is called Arizmendi.

She got me a number of different items. There was a vegan mint chocolate, chocolate chip cookie.

A banana nut muffin. (which was VERY good. moist and not too sweet; perfect!)

And focaccia that had a Middle Eastern taste to it. It was covered in mushrooms and had a curry taste.

Anyway, all the things I tried were great! I love finding new things to try from all these different places. I am trying to go to a vegan restaurant soon.

Also as a little treat for myself, I LOVE these little vegan doughnuts that they sell at Whole Foods. The blueberry and maple are the only ones I've tried but they also have plain, chocolate, and cinnamon and sugar. YUM!


DAY 15.

Yesterday, March 25th, I made bean burritos!! They were very good, slightly spicy but I like that. What's awesome about this recipe is that everything isn't necessarily vegan items, they are just ingredients that are naturally vegan and don't contain eggs or milk. I'm not being too much of a stickler, if I read the label and it says "Contains: Wheat, Soy" then that's good enough for me! =)

First I got all my ingredients together: Refried Beans, Green Chiles, Salsa, and Taco Seasoning

Then heated some vegetable oil in a pan and I chopped up a quarter of an onion. And sauteed them in a pan until they were soft and lightly browned.

Once the onions were cooked I added the refried beans (and these were low sodium since I was adding taco seasoning) green chiles, and taco seasoning.

At this point you can see how thick the mixture of beans is going to be. I actually added an extra can of beans because I realized that the seasoning packet had a lot. Depending on how thick you want it, you can add as much salsa as you like. I added about half a jar because I didn't want the beans too dry and thick. Then I mixed it all up.

At this point you can eat the beans anyway you like. I warmed up some corn tortillas, filled it with the bean mixture and topped it with salsa for vegan bean burritos!!

OR you can eat it like bean dip with chips! :) I just topped it with fresh diced tomatoes and green onions for a little something extra. Both ways are delish but I love bean dip so this was my favorite option. There are many other ways to eat it I'm sure, these are just a couple of ideas. ENJOY!!


DAY 14.

A Vegan Kid's Dream...

It's fun to be a kid!! One of my favorite childhood meals is chicken nuggets and fries! It's actually something that I crave every so often because when I was a kid I was a very picky eater. And one of the only things I would eat was french fries. I was so skinny because I never ate anything. My mom thought I was sick so the doctor gave me vitamins to help me gain weight. Anyway, this is one of the few meals I would look forward to. I thought it would be nice to find a vegan option! =)

My favorite brand of meatless "meat" items is Morning Star. However, not all of the items are vegan. It's good to check the label to see if it contains eggs or whey (milk). I like Boca, but I had a Boca burger once and it was too mushy for my liking. I thought I'd try the Boca brand Chicken Nuggets since the Morning Star ones contained eggs and milk.

I just followed the directions on the bag, bake at 400 degrees until brown or crispy. I also baked some fries. Most frozen fries you'll have to look at the ingredients and make sure they just contain potatoes and vegetable oil and some kind of seasoning.

I put them on a baking sheet and baked them together, occasionally checking to see the color. I like them lightly browned but I like my fries crispy.

Once they're cooked through and browned to your liking, serve and enjoy! =)

I really liked the Boca brand chicken nuggets, they were very tasty.



DAY 13.


One of my favorite types of food (besides Italian and Japanese) is Mexican food. And I have a love of tacos! I crave them ALL the time. And I'm serious when I say I think I could eat them everyday for a week and not get sick of them!! I love hard and soft shell tacos. Being vegan, it's hard to substitute proteins and have the flavor taste exactly the same as if it were meat. I'm still learning what things I like and don't like. Today I tried making "chicken" tacos with soft corn tortillas.

For the "chicken" I used the Chicken-less strips from Trader Joe's

I then sauteed some green bell pepper and onions and then added the "chicken strips." After everything was cooked I added taco seasoning. This is just a blend of spices like red pepper, cumin, chili, etc. You can actually find recipes for this online to make your own at home or buy the packages taco seasoning. Just make sure to look for packages that don't contain whey (milk).

After the filling mixture was done, I heated a corn tortilla and topped it with the filling, fresh tomatoes, and lettuce. (I don't like much in my tacos when I make them at home)

In all honesty, this wasn't one of my favorite vegan dishes I made. It wasn't too bad, but I'm not a fan of the chicken-less strips. I think the texture was too mushy for me. I should have used the "ground beef" that I used for my spaghetti sauce a few days ago.

This would have made for a better filling. Although you want to be careful with these meat substitutes because most of them are pre-seasoned and you don't want your food to be too salty.


DAY 12.

The one thing that I've found hard to accomplish as a vegan is finding things to substitute eggs. Mainly when I'm baking it's hard to find recipes that don't require eggs or recipes where an egg substitute won't alter the taste of the original dish. Also, eggs are one of my favorite things to eat. I love breakfast and I love making omelets, frittatas and scrambled eggs! So here are a list of items that work as egg substitutes weather you're cooking or baking something.

instead of 1 egg, you can use...

1 tbsp gram (chick pea) or soya flour and 1 tbsp water
1 tbsp arrowroot, 1 tbsp soya flour and 2 tbsp water
2 tbsp flour, 1/2 tbsp shortening, 1/2 tsp baking powder and 2 tsp water
50g tofu blended with the liquid portion of the recipe
1/2 large banana, mashed
50 ml white sauce

replacements for eggs as leavening agents (mainly in baking)...

use self raising flour
add extra oil and raising agent (e.g. baking powder)
use about 2 heaped tsp baking powder per cake
instead of baking powder, use 3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda and 1 dssp cider vinegar (good for chocolate cakes)
try sieving the flour and dry ingredients, then gently folding in the liquid to trap air

alternative binding agents...

soya milk
soya dessert - vanilla, chocolate, strawberry...
custard - see below
mashed potato
mashed banana
plain silken tofu
soya cream
sweet white sauce (soya milk, vegan margarine, sugar and cornflour)
agar agar



DAY 11.

I LOVE Chinese takeout! I mean, it's probably the one type of food that I really crave but if I have too much of it I'll get sick of it. So I very rarely eat it, but when I do it's LOVE. And of course there aren't very many vegan options for Chinese food because almost all the dishes, even if they are vegetarian contain some kind of oyster or fish sauce. So I found a veggie stirfry package that came with a soy based sauce and it the packaged is labeled vegan. I also added some tofu to make it more filling and ate it with brown rice. SO good.

First I drained the tofu (tofu is usually packed in water to keep it fresh) and patted the pieces dry because I fried them to get a little crunch and I didn't want the oil popping everywhere. I just sliced the tofu and browned it.

Then I followed the stirfry directions that are on the package. The stirfry is from Trader Joe's. I removed the sauce packet to defrost it while the tofu was still frying.

I drained the tofu on some paper-towels and waited until they cooled a little before I cut them into pieces.

Meanwhile I was measuring and warming up my brown rice. I used to cook my own brown rice but it takes a long time; roughly an hour. So I started buying the frozen, ready-prepared brown rice and I've tried a few brands but I like this one that I found at Costco. You just measure out your rice and heat it in the microwave. It doesn't come out too dry either so I like it.

After my tofu was done cooking, I cooked the veggies in a pan with some vegetable oil. Just enough so that all the veggies are heated through. I've tried some stirfry packages but I like this one because it has a variety of veggies.

Once the veggies were heated through I added the tofu and the sauce packet and mixed it just to evenly coat everything with the sauce.

Serve it with your brown rice and ENJOY! :)

DAY 10.

Today I'm posting for last Saturday and Today (Sundays don't count). On Saturday my sister had some leftover pizza dough so I decided to make focaccia. Focaccia is basically a pizza with now sauce. You just pile up the toppings onto the dough and sort of press it into the dough so once it bakes all the flavors are in there.

First I liked my pan with parchment and spread the dough out on top. (It looks sticky but once it bakes the crust should peel right off of the parchment.) Pizza dough is one of those things that is normally already vegan: flour, oil, water, yeast; but if you're not sure just ask your local store or pizzeria if the dough has milk or eggs. Also, this particular dough I used was from Trader Joe's.

The drizzle it with olive oil and season it with salt and pepper. (This is so the dough won't dry out and it'll add flavor.} Afterward I topped one half of the pizza with the leftover vegan spaghetti sauce that I made on a previous day. What's great about this sauce was that I was able to divide it into single servings and freeze it so that I can just warm up one serving at a time and conserve the rest.

The other half I left without the sauce just to have a different variety and then I topped it with vegetables that I sliced up. I just used typically pizza toppings: green bell pepper, red onion, tomato, I added spinach as well. Black olives would have been good but I didn't have any on hand. I'll pick some up and try it again :)

After I finished topping my pizza dough I did a final drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. I always season along the way to ensure flavor. And a light seasoning is perfect. I baked until golden brown or just to your liking (some people like their crust toastier) and then cut it into slices and served. :)


DAY 09.

Blogging twice for today because I've been behind. But finals are over and I'm so relieved to have some free time for a week! =)

I thought a good topic for vegan food would be snacks! It's a little hard to go out with your friends and have no options to eat so it's nice to carry something that you can take on the go. Or if you're just looking for a tasty treat or midnight snack these might be your perfect solution.

Quick sweet treat: Silk Soy Milk (vanilla, chocolate, plain, etc.)
All soy milk has a little sweetness to it but my favorite is either vanilla or chocolate. It's got the calcium and added nutrients which is a bonus. If you don't like soy your other options can be rice or almond milk.

Something Salty: Olive Oil Popcorn
I was actually skeptical about these because I thought "olive oil and salt, they probably taste really healthy" but they are VERY good. They have just the right amount of salt and you don't miss all that fatty butter either. These were from Trader Joe's.

Go Nuts: Nuts are always a good option because they are packed with protein and good fats!! My favorites are cashews, almonds and pistachios!

Breakfast "snack": I don't ever eat a full-on breakfast because I tend to get sick in the morning if I eat to much but since breakfast is an important meal and one you should never skip... I make toast! Toast with some jam or peanut butter, or both! Or you can add soy "cream" cheese like I've done here with a side of strawberries.

For Some Crunch: VEGGIES!! I love baby carrots! They're my favorite and perfect to have in a ziplock in your purse. I love eating them with peanut butter since ranch is not an option.

Another Option: Corn! This is a nice side dish or just snack. I love the roasted corn that you can find from Trader Joe's in the freezer section but you can always used canned as well as long as the only ingredients are corn, water, salt.

Make a Parfait: I love yogurt so I was very surprised to come across a plain, unsweetened, soy yogurt. This you can layer in a cup with fruits. You can also sweeten it with a little agave nectar (which is an all-natural sweetener that has a low glycemic index so it's safe for diabetics) and top it with nuts or granola.

Chips N' Dip: One of my favorites lately has been hummus dip and pita chips. What is AWESOME is that you can add hummus to a lot of other dishes. So far I've used it for falafels, quesadilla's burgers, it's great!!

Have a drink: I love juice or iced tea or iced teas mixed with juice :)
I found this great 100% pineapple juice at Trader Joe's and it's SO good. They also have a good unfiltered apple juice as well.

There are a multitude of other options but these are just a few I've tried out. Also, the best vegan snacks are fresh fruits and veggies! Apples and bananas are my fave!