vegansaurus!

Apr 23

I just made my first batch of vegan fudge, and I’m really into it! I used this recipe, and added a handful of semi-sweet vegan chips and some pomegranate liqueur. I guess I didn’t expect it to turn out, so I didn’t measure out my changes. I melted the liqueur (A shot? Half a shot? Who knows!) and chips down with all of the other ingredients. It’s super delicious and easy, so go on and give it a whirl. Next time I am going to try it with coconut milk, and maybe half a cup less of powdered sugar* because it was very sweet and just a little bit grainy. But otherwise very good! 
*I know sugar is a hot topic, so here are a couple resources on finding vegan sugar! 

I just made my first batch of vegan fudge, and I’m really into it! I used this recipe, and added a handful of semi-sweet vegan chips and some pomegranate liqueur. I guess I didn’t expect it to turn out, so I didn’t measure out my changes. I melted the liqueur (A shot? Half a shot? Who knows!) and chips down with all of the other ingredients. It’s super delicious and easy, so go on and give it a whirl. Next time I am going to try it with coconut milk, and maybe half a cup less of powdered sugar* because it was very sweet and just a little bit grainy. But otherwise very good! 

*I know sugar is a hot topic, so here are a couple resources on finding vegan sugar! 

We totally heart Cocomels: delicious coconut-milk vegan caramels!

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Guys, I’m happily OBSESSED with Cocomels vegan coconut milk caramels. Like, completely OBSESSED. JJ’s Sweets sent me a bunch of free stuff to try and as usual, I shared these goodies with my coworkers. Everyone absolutely loved them and multiple coworkers said these are the best things I’ve ever made them try. 

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I was never much into caramels but I thought I’d give these a try anyway and boy am I glad I did! They are nothing short of awesome. And totally addictive. 

As they are made with coconut milk, some of them have a bit of a coconut flavor. People were comparing the vanilla Cocomels to Samoas Girl Scout cookies. I’ve never had those but that’s what everyone said they tasted like.

The coffee and sea salt have less of a coconut flavor. The coffee is my most very favorite of all the flavors! It tastes like rich coffee, like when you get coffee ice cream—not a subtle cappuccino flavor. The sea salt was my second favorite as you know I love the salty and sweet combo. 

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Now, don’t die! They also sent me a few of their chocolate-covered varieties!* I gave my mom the chocolate-covered vanilla ones and she pretty much died. These were all good but I actually prefer the straight up caramels. The chocolate seemed a little minty almost? Maybe I’m being cray but that’s what it tasted like to me. Loved the sea salt one of course! Here’s a picture of the chocolate-covered sea salt Cocomel, in all its glory:

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Jeez, don’t drool on the computer! OK you can because it’s your computer and you can do whatever you want. Unless you are at the library (NERD), in which case do not drool on your computer and keep it down over there. 

Other exciting bits of info:

-I love the packaging design! (Reminds me of the sidewalks in Rio. Why yes, I am fancy. Thanks for noticing.)

-Cocomels are made in copper kettles, all old-school like!

-They are gluten free, organic, non-GMO and corn syrup-free!

-The boxes are made with wind power for freaks sake!

-The chocolate they use is fair trade!

I know, it’s all so exciting! You can buy Cocomels online at their siteFood Fight Grocery, and Abe’s Market. You can also get them at Whole Foods Market stores in the NorCal, SoCal, CO, NM, UT,  NY, CT, NJ, TX, LA, AR, OK, KS, NV;  Select Sprouts in AZ and CA, Vitamin Cottage, The Fresh Market, New Leaf, and numerous smaller chains, COOPs and independent grocers. I cannot recommend these enough! I want more!

*UPDATE!: Several people have found the chocolate-covered caramels are sold-out on the Cocomels site! JJ’s Sweets just put this note on our FB:

The Chocolate-Covered Cocomels are available in a two pack only in a few select locations right now, but you will be able to order the larger bags of them on the site in the next few days…. making a fresh batch now! 

Apr 22

Have you made Vegan Yack Attack’s Roasted Cauliflower Tomato Soup yet? It is FANTASTIC. Even though Jackie and I are friends IRL, and she’s aware my enthusiasm knows no bounds, I think she may have gotten weirded out by how obsessed I became with this recipe. OH WELL! I love it, my mom loves it, my dad and grandma love it. I made it about twice a week for a while, no joke! My mom wistfully mentioned it recently and I haven’t been able to shake my hankering for it. Hey, Jackie, hey! I’m like, officially the president of this soup’s fan club, right? 

Have you made Vegan Yack Attack’s Roasted Cauliflower Tomato Soup yet? It is FANTASTIC. Even though Jackie and I are friends IRL, and she’s aware my enthusiasm knows no bounds, I think she may have gotten weirded out by how obsessed I became with this recipe. OH WELL! I love it, my mom loves it, my dad and grandma love it. I made it about twice a week for a while, no joke! My mom wistfully mentioned it recently and I haven’t been able to shake my hankering for it. Hey, Jackie, hey! I’m like, officially the president of this soup’s fan club, right? 

Product review: Vegan Cuts Beauty Essentials Kit!

imageI love vegan cosmetics! In a past more recent than I’d like to admit, I got tripped up by the term cruelty-free on cosmetics, thinking it was an all-inclusive term meaning vegan. That, my friends, couldn’t be farther from the truth, as cruelty free cosmetics often have animal ingredients in them. If I, a long-time vegan, am having trouble with this in the store, how must new vegans feel? It’s overwhelming! With lists and lists of animal ingredients to memorize, these waters are not often easy to navigate—not only in food but in products for our faces, bods and hair as well! 

Thankfully, the Vegan Beauty Essentials Kit exists, curated by Vegan Cuts! This box is filled with such fun and luxurious products, I believe vegans of all experience levels, from rookies to lifers, the curious to the die-hards, will enjoy receiving it! I excitedly tried most of the products immediately, but am saving a few for weekends on the go! Most of the products, if not all of them, are the perfect size to get through TSA, and wouldn’t take up much room in an overnight bag. I enjoy having fancy products to travel with, it adds a bit of excitement and glamour to an on-the-go routine. I can’t just waltz into the drugstore for all my trial-size, traveling needs anymore.

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Let’s be real: vegan products do not come cheap, definitely not as affordable as their cruelty-full counterparts. In this respect, I enjoy having an assortment of sample sizes to try, in order to make informed decisions about which full sizes to purchase in the future. After all, what works for you may not work for me and vice versa. The Beauty Essentials kit comes with 10 -15 surprise items, and while most are sample size, a couple of them are full size! 


Can’t see the video? Watch it on Vegansaurus.com!

I couldn’t recommend this kit more! And what a deal: it’s a $50 value for $27.95. Everything smells so fresh, and is catered to most skin and hair types! (Please, can someone come teach me how to use the eyeshadow, because I have never gotten the hang of that one?) [Ed. note: Megan Rascal’s adorable sister can!]

Full Disclosure: Vegan Cuts sent me the Beauty Essentials Kit to review, free of charge, but all of the opinions stated are my own. I will be purchasing many of these products after sampling them in the kit. I wouldn’t waste your time, nor mine, writing posts that do not reflect my personal experience! BECAUSE I AM THE WORST AND DROPPED THE BALL ON GETTING THIS REVIEW UP, VERSION 2.0 IS WHAT IS AVAILABLE NOW. Looks just as awesome!  

Apr 21

Veal calves: horrifically abused by-product of the milk industry

Mercy for Animals has released another undercover video, this time from a veal facility in Canada. These little babies are not just confined, they are sick and injured, and get no medical attention. Why would they? They are just “food,” right? And then on top of that, the workers in the factory pretty much torture them. I couldn’t watch the whole video, it’s too sad, but the parts I watched are disturbing.

I hear plenty of meat eaters proudly declare they don’t eat veal. Most people know it’s often a cruel industry. But do people know that veal is a by-product of dairy production? It’s very simple: Cows need to have babies in order to produce milk. Many of the babies born are male. These male calves are useless to the dairy industry. So they are shipped to veal farms.

Even “humane” dairy farms do this. That’s what I always tell people when they say such and such dairy farm is so nice to the cows: ask where the boy calves are. I dare you. 

When I was a vegetarian, I had no idea that the cheese I consumed drove the veal industry. When I found out though, that’s when I became vegan. Of course I learned all the other reasons to be vegan eventually, but the link between dairy and veal is what made me vegan pretty much over night. I just thought to myself, if veal is a by-product of the dairy industry, dairy isn’t very vegetarian at all! Basically, being vegetarian isn’t very vegetarian. 

You can learn more about this investigation and send an email from the Mercy For Animals page.

More fun with homemade vegan cheese: testing Miyoko Schinner’s cream cheese recipe!

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I love being able to make fancy, artisanal vegan cheeses at home! I’ve been meaning to try this cream cheese recipe by Miyoko Schinner for about six months now. I finally did, and honestly, it couldn’t have been easier! I used unsweetened coconut yogurt to ferment it, and I let it sit out for the full 48 hours. That was kind of tough! I thought I was going to be super cool about leaving food out, letting the bacteria do it’s job, but it turns out I am an American through and through! 

imageI made toast with Larrupin mustard, pepper and avocado! Delicious. Has avocado on toast always been a thing, or am I just noticing it now? I like to say the British have beans on toast and American vegans have avocado and toast. It really is a great combination! 

I super enjoyed not only making this recipe, but eating it too! I am very into the long fridge life: two weeks! I can’t wait to make frosting or cheesecake with it. It is my dream to try to replicate the blueberry cheesecake from Timeless Coffee in Oakland! It is also crucial I get some more of Sophie’s Kitchen Smoked Lox, ASAP! 

Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use: the coolest dog in the world!

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Often pork comes to mind when people think about federal politicians, but there’s a new legislative caucus in Congress, one that probably wouldn’t mind directing a little more pork toward the poultry industry: The Congressional Chicken Caucus. Colman McCarthy has a great column in the National Catholic Register this week about it.

On the other end of the spectrum, HSUS worked with local lawmakers in Boca Raton to urge citizens to help protect their health and the planet by eating less meat.

Speaking of lawmakers doing the right thing, have you seen the impressive list of them who are participating in US VegWeek? You can join them!

Special props to Upworthy for promoting HSUS’s new, entertaining gestation crate video (yes, it’s really entertaining!), helping to push the video well past a million views.

Paul Shapiro
Vice President, Farm Animal Protection
The Humane Society of the United States
Follow at http://twitter.com/pshapiro

P.S. Video of the week: I used to think I’d had the coolest dog on the planet. I now know I was wrong.

P.P.S. Photo of the week: Thanks to the Winnipeg Humane Society for hosting me this week—they have a very poignant gestation crate display.

Apr 17

Alicia Silverstone releases new book all about being preggers the vegan way!

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I don’t think I’ll ever choose to get pregnant, but I know lots of people do! And we get a lot of questions about vegan pregnancy around here but alas, I don’t know jack about it. Luckily, Alicia does! Silverstone has just released this handy book, The Kind Mama, that goes from getting preggers to breastfeeding, all while staying vegan: 

In The Kind Mama,Alicia Silverstone has created a comprehensive and practical guide empowering women to take charge of their fertility, pregnancy, and first 6 months with baby. Drawing on her own experience, as well as that of obstetricians, midwives, nutritionists, holistic health counselors, and others, Silverstone offers advice on getting one’s “baby house” in order through nutrient-rocking foods that heal and nourish, and, once pregnant, gentle ways to boost comfort, energy, and health during each trimester. She helps readers navigate everything from prenatal testing and birth plans to successful breastfeeding and creating a supportive “baby nest.” 

Well! Sounds like the new vegan pregnancy bible!

So, do we have any soon-to-be parents in the crowd? I’m really curious, what have been the biggest struggles with regards to being vegan? I’d love to hear about everyone’s experiences. I know when people aren’t even vegan, EVERYBODY has something to say about what they should be doing when they get pregnant and have a baby. I imagine it might get even more cray when you’re vegan on top of that. Am I right?

Find links to buy the book here

Victoria Vegan Pasta Sauces: The Vegan Alfredo-Lover’s Dream!

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The lovely family over at Victoria Vegan recently sent me a variety of their pasta sauces for review, and so review them I happily will!

imageThey sent me their Arugula Pesto Alfredo, Artichoke Alfredo, Vodka sauce, Roasted Bell Pepper Alfredo and Original Alfredo to try. I invited my sister over for the fun, as pasta is her favorite food. We called it our “Marinara Tasting Party”, though our party was dominated mostly by Alfredo sauces! 

imageClockwise from top left: My plate, my sister’s plate, sautéed spinach with vegan bac’un bits and my niece Audrey enjoying the Original Alfredo sauce with pasta! I made my sister and I the garlic bread and spinach (veganized), because those were staples on pasta night when we were growing up. 

I had tried the Roasted Bell Pepper sauce a little while ago, so I already knew I was a fan of this brand! It was exciting to be able to sample so many varieties, and though I really enjoyed them all, my personal favorite was the Arugula Pesto. The Artichoke Alfredo definitely came in at a close second. They were so interesting and full of flavor; I thought the creaminess of the Alfredo complimented both the Arugula Pesto and Artichoke so well! My sister’s favorite was the Vodka sauce, so I sent her home with it. (She’s always open to trying vegan food, and it feels like such a victory when we find things she likes.) Audrey just had her 18 month check-up earlier that day, in which she was given the okay to finally introduce nuts in her diet. That was a good thing because Victoria Vegan Alfredo sauces are cashew based (it’s more of a fruit, I know, but you can never be too careful with nut allergies)! The sauces are also non-GMO and gluten-free! REJOICE! Sometimes they are soy-free as well, but be sure to check the labels on that.

After my sister left, I had four open, full jars of sauce to figure out what to do with! Things got creative over here. I had some jumbo shells I was waiting to do something special with, and having the Arugula Pesto sauce was the perfect reason to finally make them! 

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I filled my shells with sautéed mushrooms, garlic, onions and kale. I also added pinches of nutritional yeast, bac’un bits and salt. I was quite pleased with the results! 

By this time I was getting tired of eating pasta, and was racking my brain for something fun to make. I thought fried mac and cheese sounded good, but not quite what I was in the mood for. So instead, inspired by this recipe, I fashioned baskets out of phyllo dough. It’s not as hard as it sounds, I swear! I made mac’n cheese with sautéed onions, mushrooms and spinach, again with a pinch of bac’un bits and nooch. I used the Orginal Alfredo for these, but any of the white sauces would be perfection! [Ed. note: DAMN GIRL GIMME THAT!] 

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Phyllo dough is not impossible or overly intimidating to work with, I swear! My mom’s secret is to keep it covered so it doesn’t dry out, but with a dry towel instead of a wet one. I greased a muffin tin, and then stuffed one folded sheet of dough into each hole. I then filled the dough with a spoonful or two of mac’n cheese, brushed the edges of the dough with olive oil and baked it at 350 until the edges were lightly browned. EASY, SEE? 

All in all, I am a big fan of Victoria Vegan Alfredo sauces! If you see the Arugula Pesto, I’m telling you, pick it up! You can’t go wrong with any of the varieties and seriously, don’t be afraid to dress them up a little when you make them! I don’t live near a Whole Foods right now, but I was daydreaming combining any of the sauces with these ravioli (I can almost taste it!). 

Read more about the Victoria Fine Foods family here! Victoria Vegan products are sold at a variety of establishments, including SproutsRainbow Grocery in San Francisco, and Vegan Essentials.

Full Disclosure: Victoria Fine Foods sent me these jars of sauces, free of charge, to review. All opinions stated above are solely my own. 

What’s for Sunday dinner? How about a VEGAN HAM ROLL?

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What’s for dinner this Sunday? Anything special? I’m hoping to pick up this vegan ham roll by Vegetarian Plus, for the weekend! I had it last last year when celebrating Easter with my family, and I’m a fan. I know meat analogs aren’t for everyone, BELIEVE ME I KNOW, but they’re for me! I always make a vegan version of what my family eats at dinner because I do not like to be left out. This ham roll wasn’t exactly how I remembered ham to be, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. It was fantastic in sandwiches the next day! (Protip: sourdough bread slices and tons of Vegenaise.) 

I picked mine up in the Palo Alto Whole Foods last year, so if I were you, I’d call around to see which stores have it in stock. Caroline was innocently looking for some just-hit-the-shelves Kite Hill cheese and I showed up in line with this hunk of analog ham. That’s what it’s like to be friends with me: always with the atrocious-looking vegan foods! I’ve been surprised to see it somewhat year-round, in natural food stores in both Northern and Southern California.

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If I am able to find it in time this year, I will be sure to bake it with a brown sugar glaze of sorts! For me, the baked-on-sweetness was missing and the apricot glaze didn’t cut it.