Sunday, June 26, 2011

Zen Gardens, Cambridge; Healthy Foods & More, Waterloo; and our 5th Wedding Anniversary

On Friday we celebrated five amazing/wonderful/slightly insane years of marriage by stuffing our faces with fried foods.

And before you judge me for it, know that I tried to do the right thing. I swear to God I tried. We had a reservation for a restaurant that does raw vegan and we were going to order the healthiest thing possible. And then three hours before we were to head out there they called saying they had to close the restaurant early that day, due to unforeseen circumstances.

Sometimes, the universe just wants you to have fried chick'n balls. Sometimes.

It's kind of a bugger actually because I've been doing really, really well. Veganism has always been great to me and nearly three years ago when I finally took the plunge my body went through an amazing detox. I lost well over fifteen pounds without doing a single thing other than cutting out dairy (I had cut out meat about a year before). I was also 24 years old and while the difference between 24 and 27 doesn't seem all that great, the metabolism begs to differ. I am no longer at the point where I can consume anything "as long as it's vegan" and not gain, or even maintain, a certain weight. The universe is designed in this particularly cruel way in which it dangles buttercream cupcakes in front of you and then demands that you not eat them. And I've eaten a lot of cupcakes over the last year. And cookies. And deep fried tofu-ish entities.

About a month ago I came to the conclusion that it was time to take my health and wellness more seriously and so I embarked on a cardio challenge as well as cut out all the less-than-healthy treats. I'm down four pounds and feel really awesome. Aside from my personal vanity and the weight I still have to lose, I know that how I feel right this instant is how vegan is supposed to feel and it's easy to forget that now that vegan convenience foods have mass market availability.

In this Project: Get Fit of mine I'm focusing more on the fitness end than the diet end because I tend to think I eat pretty darn well for the most part. And since I have been busting my butt so much on my daily runs, I figured that celebrating five years of wedded bliss at one of our favourite restaurants was not going to kill me (plus I doubled my workout the morning of - that's got to count for something, right?).

At Zen Gardens, we always get the exact same thing. Everytime we go. Because it's so good and I'm always so scared I'm going to be disappointed by trying something new. However, since our visit there was a bit of a surprise this time around I figured I'd better try something different so that I could at least blog about it for those you guys that haven't had a chance to get out there and subsequently blame the blog rather than my own lack of self-control for any scale-related backlash that results.

Of course, those of you who follow me on Twitter already know that we started out with an order of their famous chick'n balls because for God's sake we are only human and there is only so much compromise I can take. But here is what else we got:

Veggie Squid (aka vegan calamari) which is something I never consumed as a carnist but quite enjoyed as a vegan!

Curry Vermicelli
From the menu: Lightly fried rice noodles done Singapore style with seitan, bean-curd, bell peppers, and an assortment of vegetables in a spicy curry sauce.

Kung Po Soy Fritters
From the menu: A traditional Chinese chicken dish. This vegetarian version combines soy protein with mushrooms, bamboo shoots, celery, bell peppers, vegetables, and chillies

Everything was so amazing, as it always is at Zen, but I think the Kung Po takes the prize for best selection of the night. I'm fairly certain it's going to be added to our already lengthy list of "Zen Regulars" and if you can't eat it all in the restaurant I can promise you that it tastes even better the next day. Plus, if you find yourself needing a doggy bag, you get one of these adorable little takeout boxes!

The one thing that we didn't get at Zen that we were looking forward to at the other restaurant was dessert. And we were fine with that. But then yesterday afternoon we found ourselves wandering the aisles of Healthy Foods & More in Waterloo when the bakery called out to us on some subconscious level. I didn't think anything of sauntering through it because the last time I was at the store (months and months ago - we live on the other end of town and rarely get out that way) they didn't really have anything fresh-baked vegan. That I can recall, anyway.

Except now, the entire bakery display case is pretty much vegan. Vegan cupcakes and a black forest cake and a bunch of raw cheesecakes and raw fudge and the mother of all vegan desserts, the Sweets from the Earth carrot cake that I developed an unhealthy obsession with last year at the Toronto Vegetarian Food Fair. And on top of all that there were shelves full of vegan muffins and cookies and whatnot, packaged up and ready to be taken home.

We said a collective "Uh-Oh" and then determined that we had to buy something. I have this thing where if a store/business does something vegan I feel it is my duty to support it both financially and via the blog so that the vegan market is recognized as legitimate and profitable and subsequently more interests will be piqued. It is this self-determined "duty" of mine that has put me in the position of needing to drop a few pounds in the first place but nonetheless, we totally bought some desserts.

Paul had the S'mores Cupcake

And I had the Raw Macaroon

We are so gluttonous we couldn't even wait to get home, we ate the freaking things in the car in front of the store. Can you tell we've been a bit sugar deprived as of late?

And so that is that, we celebrated our anniversary and our marriage with delicious food (and a bit too much wine, even for us - but since our first anniversary the tradition has always been to watch our wedding DVD over some drinks - who am I to argue with tradition?). Now it is back to the business of smaller portions and really long and painful runs up and down hills. God, I hate hills.

Love you PK, xo.

Zen Gardens
65 Water St. N
Cambridge, Ontario N1R 3B4
(519) 620-8809

Healthy Foods & More
75 Bridgeport Road East, Unit 2
Waterloo, Ontario N2J 2K1
(519) 880-0700


aztextpress said...

I live 4 hours away from this restaurant but luckily we have friends who live nearby and so we can justify visiting them once in a while. We NEVER let our friends cook us dinner... we ALWAYS insist on a visit to Zen Garden and it never disappoints us!

Bliss Doubt said...

I could take in that plate of curry noodles in one big slurp!

What a unique and beautiful wedding photo that is.

Kim said...

Happy Anniversary! My hubby were also married 5 years ago this month - great time to get married.
I love Zen - they are so good. And I always order the exact same thing every time I go there (one of the combinations since I'm in love with the soy nuggets). That Kung Po looks awesome and I will definitely try it.
I'm super excited about Heathy Foods. I go there every few months as there is just a few things I get there that I can't find anywhere else but never bother checking out the baking as it's mostly not catered to vegans. That's just awesome =)
Happy exercising!

Mary said...

Axtextpress - Zen isn't all that close to us either, so it is always a treat to find ourselves in Cambridge with an excuse to visit!

Bliss - it was so delicious...reminded me of the old egg noodles we used to get before we were vegans. And thank you! We had a great photographer!

Kim - thanks so much! It was a great month to get married, beautiful weather all around. I haven't had the seitan platter in ages. Our favourites are the seitan platter and the soy ham pineapple rice (they actually sold us a tube of the vegan ham from the kitchen because we raved out it so much - really yummy in tofu scrambles!) And yes I am so happy to have visted Healthy Foods and More...can't believe how much it has changed since I was there last!

Openbox S9 said...

Eventually most of the person attend wedding for foods. I like to eat wedding foods. Sounds really amazing of Wedding anniversary which you have shown above.

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