An Exercise In Trivial Pursuits

Fatshion, Food & Frivolities – Life in Las Vegas & Singapore


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VegeNation (Las Vegas)

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T and I have been to the newly opened VegeNation twice. The first time we went, it was before their official opening. I have been following them on Instagram for quite a while and have heard about them from our neighbour Brandon who’s opening a Po-Boy shop just down the row from them. The entire area is up and coming with lots of hipster and start-up types as a result of the Downtown Revitalisation Project which I’ve talked about a few times.

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The first time we went, T and I ate so much I thought I would die. I like the decor, the ambience and location. It’s in town and hip but not crowded and noisy like The Strip. It also helps that both of us are vegetarians (not Vegan but this restaurant is Vegan-friendly). Prices are very reasonable and service pretty standard – nothing bad to say about them. I like the funky names on their menu items – Pho-King-Delicious (a mushroom/veggie noodles in broth), Mama Mia (spaghetti and “meat”balls), Muchas Gracias (sweet potato quesadilla) etc. Expect to pay about $3-5 for drinks and $9-12 for entrees.

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This is not the kind of vegetarian place that is all salads and health foods. I can barely tell that I had the good stuff – quinoa, chia seeds, shirataki noodles. But it’s all good and delicious! I guarantee the steak and potatoes guys would forgive this place if they gave it a chance. It’s pretty good! I also like that some of the drinks are refillable. You expect that of regular fountain sodas but I’m talking about the nice stuff like hibiscus punch and the coconut water lemonade that we ordered. The servers happily top your drinks up without asking too!

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The second time we went was just a few days ago. Our friend from Singapore was in Vegas for a holiday and he was getting wiped out with The Strip. Did all the touristy things – casino hopped, watched shows etc. So we decided to take him a little outside for lunch. We walked around the Downtown Container Park to show him a more hip and family-friendly area of Vegas before going to Vegenation for lunch. (After that, we took him 30 minutes away from town into Red Rock Canyon and he loved the contrast.)
IMG_1506_2 IMG_1507_2With the power of 3, this time we had more desserts. Previously T and I shared the blueberry cheesecake and I was already so stuffed that I could barely enjoy it. I nibbled a little on T’s brownie sundae and had a small taste of the chocolate tacos Adrian ordered.

All in all, I can’t wait to go back there again. I have a new detour to my Las Vegas guide now! I’m ready to take on more family and friends who come visit! We’re getting better with showing people around and taking them to interesting places outside the casinos!

VegeNation – recommended for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike! I hope they have one closer to where I live. 4/5*

VegeNation

616 E Carson Ave Ste 130

Las Vegas, NV 89191

PH (702) 366 8515


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Fat-shionista #574

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This is what I wore yesterday. I was a little busy bee helping T set-up his office (mostly cleaning up after him), then I went out to get groceries. I usually only buy groceries on Wednesday unless I need to get something that’s at a really good price – yesterday it was 79c Pilsbury cake mix and Gardein for only $3.49 per pack at Smith’s. My sister Rachel wanted 10 boxes of WHITE cake mix which she uses for her rainbow cakes. Apparently they cost about $5 each in Singapore but I only managed to get 9. I guess other people had the same idea.

Other than that, T and I also went out to Mantra Masala (just about 10 minutes from our house) for Indian food before heading to catch Interstellar at Town Square. Dinner was good even though it was quite pricey for the location and we ordered only vegetarian but because it’s near where we live, we’d probably go back. T asked for 8/10 spice level but said he could probably handle 10/10. Made me so proud! Whahahaha!!!

The movie afterwards was 5/5 in my books because it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a science-fiction movie that could suspend my disbelief. Compared to Gravity, I liked the soundtrack and effects so much more. Oh and earlier this year, when T went to E3 in LA, we stayed at the Westin Bonaventure – which was where the NASA space station in Interstellar was supposed to be. It was so obvious because I thought the hotel was quite weird and creepy to begin with. It had strange pods and all these concrete upper floors.
IMG_9080So anyway, this is what I wore yesterday:

Top: Heather Grey Pocket-Front Cropped Tee from OLD NAVY

Accessories: Pink bangle from SONIA RYKIEL POUR H&M; Pastel floral necklace (gift from T)

Bottom: Lilac with blue dots ROCKSTAR skinny jeans from OLD NAVY

Bag: Beige bag with Pink bow from BETSEY JOHNSON

Footwear: Dark Beige moto boots from MADDEN GIRL

 


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LYFE Kitchen (Las Vegas)

IMG_6930I first heard about LYFE Kitchen coming to Las Vegas in June and even though it opened this July, we didn’t get to visit it till a few days ago. T and I came here to celebrate my 1st full year living in the US. I’m very happy with my experience even if it wasn’t life changing. I’m glad the purported healthy eating is none too obvious here. T and I went to Cafe Gratitude in Venice Beach (California) a few months ago and we found the food (and ambience) rather contrived – maybe raw foodism just isn’t for us.

IMG_6929Technically this branch isn’t located IN Las Vegas but Henderson, which is a more family-friendly and upscale area just outside. But who cares? It’s about 30 minutes’ drive from where we live and about 20 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip itself, so if you live in Las Vegas or are visiting, this technicality is negligible.

What I loved about LYFE Kitchen:

1. The bright/airy decor – it wasn’t too crowded even when it was almost full. There is also outside seating.

2. Segregated menus for easy ordering – they have a gluten-friendly, a vegan-friendly, an EVERYTHING and also a wine/beer one.

3. Reasonable pricing – came up to about USD40 for both of us – 2 entrees, 2 starters and 2 drinks.

4. Good portion size – if you’re looking for buffet-style, value-for-money, then this is not the place. What we ordered was just right. I didn’t feel sick after eating everything nor did I go away feeling half-empty. In fact, we even had space for dessert elsewhere about 30 minutes later.

5. They offered 3 types of water on tap at the self-service kiosk where you grab your own cutlery and napkins.

IMG_6931T and I ordered: Vegan Unfried Buffalo Wings, Sweet Potato Fries, Crispy Chick’n Sandwich, Italian Sausage & Mozzarella Ravioli, Cucumber Mint LYFE Water and Hibiscus Beet LYFE Water. ALL 100% good! We polished everything clean and loved it all!

When I asked T if he preferred Veggie Grill or here, he said Veggie Grill only because he liked their fast-food concept. I am still undecided because both are delicious and warrant their own merits. Also both are very similar – down to decor and the way you order (queue at the entrance, order at the cashier, pay and find a table, wait to be served). I agree with T with regards to the more fast food type options at the Veggie Grill but I also like that LYFE Kitchen serves organic and low-calorie choices as well as the fact that we can bring non-vegetarian friends here because they also serve meat!

LYFE Kitchen, highly recommended. Only gripe is their dessert menu and I hope they open more branches in Las Vegas! 4.5/5*

LYFE Kitchen (Las Vegas)
140 S Green Valley Parkway #142
Henderson, NV 89012
Ph: (702) 559-0131


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Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Chinese Dumplings in Soup

IMG_6873This is my vegetarian tofu version of Shui Jiao, the larger cousin of the more common Wanton (aka wan tan or won ton). These Chinese dumplings are traditionally served in a light clear broth and that’s what I did here. Other than swopping out minced pork and prawns for tofu, nothing’s changed. T and I had it both boiled in hot soup as well as deep fried – we love them equally much!

Vegetarian Chinese Dumplings in Soup

Serves 2-4 (makes about 15) Prep Time: 15 minutes. Cooking Time: 15 minutes.

1 block of extra firm tofu (pressed dry)

5 water chestnuts

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 cup cilantro

1 egg

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons corn starch

1 cube of vegetable stock for broth

5 cups of water

15 – 20 Wanton wrappers (Pre-made in a packet)

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Method:

1. Chop up the water chestnuts and tofu into mince. Then add it to a medium mixing bowl.

2. Add garlic, cilantro, egg, sesame oil, soy sauce, pepper and only 1 tablespoon of corn starch.

3. Mix all the ingredients in the bowl thoroughly to make the filling.

4. Mix 1 tablespoon of corn starch and 2 tablespoons of water to form the sealing agent for the dumpling skins.

5. Bring water and the vegetable stock to boil while you fill the Wanton wrappers (if you use a premix liquid stock, then there’s no need for water).

6. Take 1 generous teaspoon of the filling and put it in the centre of the dry Wanton wrappers.

6. To seal, dab a pinkie finger in the starch mixture and trace the border of the wrapper. Fold and press firmly.

7. Drop the completed dumplings into the boiling water. Put in a few at a time to prevent crowding. I use a medium sized pot so I put in about 3 to 5 each time.

8. When the dumplings start to float, they are about done. Let them cook for a little while longer before removing them. I usually dish them out into the serving bowls.

9. Once all the dumplings are cooked, you can pour the boiling broth over the dumplings in their serving bowl and garnish to serve. Some people use clear boiling water and keep the soup broth separate but I don’t think it is necessary.

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That’s it! Enjoy your hot Chinese Dumplings aka Shui Jiao.

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Meatless Monday: Kuah Satay Linguine

IMG_5939I’ve been having the weirdest PB&J cravings lately and I’m not even a fan of peanut butter. Dare I say, I don’t even like Reese’s Pieces? For some reason, it goes really well with the Oatmeal Walnut loaf that I baked (using THIS RECIPE). After eating it 4 days in a row, I had a craving for satay gravy (or kuah satay). I loved satay and when I ate meat, my favourite were chicken and lamb satay. I’d eat lots of raw onions (YES), cucumber chunks and ketupat while dunking the barbecued meat skewers generously in the peanut gravy. Oddly enough, my inspiration for this dish is not the Satay Beehoon commonly found in Singapore but pad thai (hence the use of linguine).

Peanuts are a wonderful protein source for vegetarians. I’m very concerned about the protein levels in our meals because T is a big guy and he mentioned several times that he doesn’t think he’s eating enough protein required for his height/weight. Peanuts and peanut butter are great in lieu of meat, and in this recipe, I use both.

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KUAH SATAY LINGUINE

Serves 2. Prep Time: 5 minutes. Cook Time: 15 minutes.

Pasta (enough for 2)

3 tablespoons lime/lemon juice

1 teaspoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

1 cup hot water

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/4 cup crushed peanuts

2 tablespoons crushed red pepper

Handful of spring onions (for garnish)

Method:

1. Cook pasta as directed.

2. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients except crushed peanuts and spring onions. Whisk.

3. Pour the peanut sauce over cooked and drain pasts. Mix to coat noodles.

4. Serve with crushed peanuts over noodles and garnish with spring onions.

HOW EASY WAS THAT??

The best part is that this dish tastes delicious cold too. Keep the extra sauce separately in the fridge and pour over the cold noodles to re-coat them the next day. Also, add more crushed red pepper if you like it spicier!

Want to use this sauce for your satay skewers? Just add another tablespoon of peanut butter (and switch to chunky peanut butter if you want), and throw in the crushed peanuts to mix. It’s that simple!

I served this yesterday for lunch with boiled edamame soya bean pods and BeyondMeat Chicken-Free Strips which I grilled with some Panda Express Mandarin Sauce.

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10 Things In Our Vegetarian Pantry

I’m often asked about the restrictions in my vegetarian diet but as I’ve proven in my varied meatless recipes, I eat a lot of different things even if I am by a far measure considered anywhere near being a good cook!

This post is inspired by my recent obsession with trying to bring our savings up to at least 50% per grocery run (extreme couponing is difficult when you tend to be brand loyal). I have a small pantry and we’re only a 2-person household, so stockpiling hundreds of boxes of the same thing is rather ridiculous for me as I don’t want to worry about expiry dates, keeping things dust-free and clutter around the house.

Here are a list of 10 things I stock up on and keep an eye out for coupons or sales. I try not to stock up more than 3 to 6 months of ANYTHING (including loo roll and toiletries) because I don’t want to so many things lying around collecting dust. Also I have better things to do than clean them, rotate them, keep an inventory. HAH!

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1. SILK Soy and Almond Milk

I would be happy to drink regular milk – anything that’s $2.99 per gallon or less. But T prefers the taste of Soy Milk, especially this brand. At our regular grocery store, this usually goes for about $3.60 – $3.90 for a half gallon carton so I don’t buy it that often. Recently though, I chanced upon another grocery store selling it at $2.99 AND I also had coupons for them. And since they last longer than regular milk, I bought up enough to last us for the next 2 months! However, because this other grocery store is further than the regular one we go to, I’m not sure if I’ll make the trip there just to buy soy milk unless I’m in the area or there are extreme savings to be had. (The Chocolate Almond Milk is mine btw. I’ll drink them when they’re cheap, if not it’s back to regular dairy for me.)

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2. TRUVIA

Truvia is a sugar substitute and supposedly much better than other alternative sweeteners because it’s stevia-based. I use them to sweeten hot drinks from time to time but mostly bake with them. They’re definitely a lot pricier than regular sugar so I bought a bunch of them when I found coupons and when they went on sale. As a diabetic, I do what I can even if I can’t keep my sweet tooth at bay. So far, we haven’t been able to tell the difference. I’ve baked for T, my neighbours as well as my in-laws! So yeah, it works!

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3. RAGU Pasta Sauce

I’m not brand loyal to pasta sauce but T is and this is his favourite. That is to say, if we do ever run out of pasta sauce and there’s something cheaper, I won’t buy RAGU but when possible, I will stock up so we won’t be in that uncomfortable situation where I want to stoically stick to my budget and T has to eat something he doesn’t like. I do make extra effort to buy as many bottles as I can (without being a hoarder) when they are about $1 each – clipping coupons, looking out for promotions etc. These keep well and I make pasta at least once every 7 to 10 days. There are many different flavours that are vegetarian-friendly, so that helps!

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4. BARILLA Whole Grain Pasta

I began the switch to whole grain pasta only several months ago and I wasn’t brand loyal at all. T has had bad experiences with other whole grain, brown rice and quinoa-based pasta so he wasn’t too keen on the switch till we tried Barilla. Unlike the other brands we’ve tried, this cooks well and doesn’t taste any different from regular pasta. I managed to stock up about 3 months’ worth of their whole grain pasta through couponing and crazy checking of sales. This is what’s left of it. The cheapest I’ve ever gotten them for is about 67c per box, which I think is rather decent especially when coupons don’t double here in Las Vegas and I don’t deliberately hunt for coupons other than the ones I get in my mail.

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5. MORNINGSTAR FARMS Veggie Meat Products

I try to keep at least a few varieties of soy meat in the freezer so we can have different sources of protein. They keep longer than tofu and they do help keep those junk food/meat cravings at bay. We always have the Grillers Recipe Crumbles (they’re like minced pork/beef) because T loves them in his pasta sauce (I make a vegetarian bolognese thing with it) AND my favourite are the Bacon strips even though there are so many things in their range that I really like. These things can get really pricey so I only ever buy them when it’s at a price point I want, therefore sales and coupons come into play again. If not, we can go months without touching them and only eat tofu and eggs for protein.

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6. BOCA Burgers

I’m married to an American man/child. How can we go without burgers (or pizza)? I find BOCA burgers on sale more often than I do other brands of veggie protein and burgers are so easy to deal with so I always have 2 to 3 boxes around. Just the other day, I came back from yoga and before I went to shower, I greased up a pan, popped a few patties into the oven while I refreshed myself. Then when I was done, I went back to the kitchen to grab some multigrain burger rolls, melt a slice of 2% American cheese on the freshly grilled patties, add some fresh veggies between the buns and that’s it. Lunch was ready in 30 minutes! Depending on what veggies are on sale that week, sometimes we have it with a slice of tomato, sometimes cucumber, sometimes lettuce and if we get lucky, we get to have an entire side salad AND steamed corn on the cob!

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7. GARDEIN

I love Gardein (garden +  protein – so clever right?) but they never last very long in our house – this is the last of my stash until it costs about $3 a pack again. I’ve used them for grilled satay (marinated in the teriyaki sauce), they’re easy to throw into a stir-fry (beefless tips and broccoli)  and I’ve done creamy “roast chicken” pastas as well as a “battered chicken” pot pie. So easy, so delicious! I wish I could afford them for every meal!

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8. Frozen Vegetables

We’re vegetarians, of course we eat vegetables at every meal. Unfortunately we live in Nevada, so even when we go to the farmers’ market, the fresh produce isn’t very fresh by the time we get them. Also, there are seldom coupons for fresh fruit and veggies, so I buy frozen ones most of the time. I’m not brand loyal but I do have a certain price point that I’ll work with. I’ve read that fresh vegetables aren’t necessarily always better because produce is flash frozen at the point when they are at their freshest and most nutritious. No shame in buying frozen vegetables – especially if you’ve been basically living off your savings for the last 10 months without a job in sight. I don’t spend more than $5 on fresh produce for both of us each week because while I think it’s necessary to get your vitamins from the source, I try to make-do with whatever is in season thus cheap.

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9. YOPLAIT Light Yoghurt

This actually started with my sister. Before that, I would buy whatever yoghurt was cheapest and always stick to plain vanilla (it’s also my go-to flavour for ice cream). When my family came to visit last December, my sisters went crazy when the Yoplait at our regular supermarket went on sale for 50c each. They stocked up on the WHIPS range and once I tried it, I liked it. I’ve been buying 10-20 each time it goes on sale because T loves the Banana Cream Pie and Boston Cream Pie flavours (which he says are really close to the real thing).

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10. KELLOGG’S Special K

Actually it’s between this and Cheerios – which are healthier. We used to always buy Captain Crunch because T loves the peanut butter flavour but ever since I’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, I’ve been looking for alternatives. I stock up on General Mill’s heart-healthy Cheerios when they’re at a good price point but I buy Kellogg’s products whenever I can because I take part in their rewards programme (MorningStar Farms products also earns you Kellogg’s points for redeeming products, vouchers, coupons and partaking in sweepstakes). So if Cheerios and Special K are the same price – always Special K.

My meatless pantry is quite decent, right?


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Meatless Monday: Ginger & Sesame Oil Stirfry

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Prior to this, I’ve done 2 stirfry recipes (methods?) in my other Meatless Monday posts. Both of which required the use of minced garlic. The thing is, not everybody likes the taste of garlic and some people (like staunch Buddhists) don’t consume garlic at all. Here’s another simple Chinese-style stirfry method that I use. It’s basically 3 ingredients and takes less than 15 minutes from start to end – HOW EASY IS THAT?!

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Ginger & Sesame Oil Stirfry

Serves 2. Prep Time: 5 minutes. Cooking Time: 10 minutes.

3 tablespoons Sesame Oil

1/2 cup of sliced ginger

2-3 cups of any kind of chopped veggies of your choice (I just used a frozen pre-packaged mix)

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Method:

1. Peel ginger root, cut into thin slices, then julienne them into matchsticks.

2. Heat the sesame oil in a frying pan or wok.

3. Add the ginger matchsticks into the oil and fry till they turn golden brown.

4. Add the veggies (I don’t even bother defrosting mine) and fry till vegetables are soft.

5. Serve hot!

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That is all! And that was what we had for lunch the other day!