vegansaurus!

04/02/2014

Get gourmet Philly pretzels right here in Brooklyn!  »

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You KNOW your friend Megan Rascal loves the Philly pretzels. So how excited was I when I heard about Pelzer’s Pretzels? Hint: SO EXCITED! 

Pelzer’s Pretzels, located in Crown Heights, BK, was started by a Philly transplant, in the hopes of bringing the Philadelphia soft pretzel game to NYC. Because really, Philly soft pretzels should be as ubiquitous across the country as the prison industrial complex! If not more so!

I emailed with Pelzer’s to find out if they had any vegan options. They have some meaty and cheesy pretzels but their everything, original and cran-mary are totally vegan! I even double checked because the pretzels were so shiny I thought they must be an egg-wash—nope! Veegs! Pelzer’s sent me those three varieties for free to try and some of their spicy beer mustard too. I shared the pretzels with my coworkers because I’m so nice to them. They were a hit! The spicy beer mustard went like hotcakes. 

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You can see just by looking that they are not like regular Philly pretzels, these are on some gourmet steez. They remind me of this super delicious pretzel I had at the Zurich airport once (Megan Rascal: International Hassle). The outside/skin/whatever is so amazing! It’s flavorful and thick and awesome. 

I liked the original of course, and I liked the everything. I thought the everything would be my favorite as I’m an everything-enthusiast, and while I really liked the everything, I’m head over heels for the cran-mary! It’s cranberry and rosemary, if you didn’t get the name. I’m not super into cranberries but they were SO GOOD in the pretzel. And the rosemary? HAVE MERCY. 

You’ll also like this bit from their about us: 

As the source for artisanal Philadelphia style soft pretzels in New York City, Pelzer’s Pretzels is committed to making wholesome and delicious pretzels from the best available ingredients, providing fair wages and promoting worker dignity, and investing long-term in our local Brooklyn community.

Love it! Totally Philly style too. Without the massive chip on the shoulder part. 

You can stop by their storefront or, if you live in Brooklyn, you can have them delivered for a few bucks! I wish I could have everything delivered. Work, love, etc. But especially PRETZELS! 

In conclusion, these are a can’t-miss for any pretzel-lover and a definite boon for the accidentally-vegan Brooklyn food scene! All thumbs up!

Keepin’ It Kind’s Tofu Chèvre recipe is a vegan cheesy grand-slam!  »

imageChèvre, olive oil, balsamic reduction*, fresh chopped tomatoes and julienned basil on toasted slices of sourdough baguette. 

I am quite the vegan cheese connoisseur, and by that I mean I enjoy all of it**, especially the most expensive varieties! Right now, however, I am living in a place where the only vegan food I can trust comes from my own kitchen, fancy cheese included. There’s no Kite Hill for miles in these parts. I can’t complain too much though, as the olive oil and wine produced here are pretty fab!

Last week I wanted to treat myself, with as little work and ingredients as possible. Fortunately for me, I had bookmarked Keepin’ It Kind’s tofu chèvre, saving the recipe for a rainy day! Just kidding, I live in SoCal now, which means it was most definitely not raining the morning I made this! It was however, reigning Breaking Amish on Netfilx in my kitchen all day, that’s for sure! Man, I loved watching those four Amish and one Mennonite, making their way through the big apple. Oh, how I miss city life!

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Alright, enough TV talk (we can use Twitter for that), let’s get to the cheese. I was stoked at just how easy this recipe was to follow, and that the results following were spectacular! I did change it a little, because tahini is not something I ever have on hand, nor was I willing to buy it for a half tablespoon. I substituted a little more miso (which means I should’ve cut back on the salt) and lemon. When this baby came out of the oven it took everything I had not to just eat it by the spoonful. By the time it cooled I had only about half a log left, which I used to make the most delectable bruschetta of my life! 

imageChèvre, olive oil, balsamic reduction, avocado and julienned basil. 

I can’t recommend this recipe enough, as it’s both scrumptious and elegant! I’m making it for every party I host or attend in the future, because the world needs to know about this vegan cheese! My fave part was that not only did I make an artisanal cheese at home, it was a fraction of the cost of most vegan items on the market. I can’t wait to make this pesto and chèvre grilled cheese sammie and then this pizza! Who’s coming for dinner? I heard a rumor that Kristy Turner, of Keepin’ It Kind, may be working on a cookbook and so you better believe I’ll be ordering online from the seat I’m in right now first in line for that hard copy!

*You don’t have bother looking up a recipe for balsamic reduction, unless you like things exact. I simmered about 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar for approximately 20 minutes. It hardens as it cools, so don’t worry if it doesn’t seem syrupy enough when it’s warm. Don’t use a whole bottle of vinegar for a glaze you’ll use twice. Or do whatever you want, it’s your fridge space! 

**Never the FYH vegan cheddar though. NEVER THE CHEDDAR.

Sea Bakin’: Crispy, savory, aquatic vegan treats!  »

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The three glorious flavors of Sea Bakin’

I am a fan of sea vegetables in pretty much any form (hello, B12 source!), but let’s face it, when it’s in the form of “bakin’” (aka crunchy, flavorful awesomeness), I want IN on that action!!

I’d heard that the makers of Sea Bakin’, The Great and Wonderful Sea of Change Trading Company (say THAT three times fast) were walking around Natural Products Expo West, but (sadly) I missed running into them. I was so bummed—I wanted to eat free vegan bakin’, ya’ll!!! Thankfully, I have an in with them (an old friend from my DC raver days, but that’s a WHOLE other story), and they kindly sent me samples of all three flavors to try. Score! The flavors are Garden Vegetable, Maple, and Thai BBQ. I think the Garden Vegetable was my fave, but I liked them all! 

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Up close and personal. They aren’t that pretty but they sure are tasty!

They have a unique texture, but if I were to compare them to anything, I’d say they’re a hybrid of flavored kale chips and toasted seaweed snacks. Seriously deeeeeelish! I ate them alone, and I tried them sprinkled on salads and tofu scrambles. 

Where do you get these delicious little snackys you ask? Their website says they’re available in natural food stores across California (and they’re working on other places), but you can also order directly from them

And finally, what’s a post about bakin’ without some Bacon?!

04/01/2014

Review: Vanessa Elise Skincare in San Francisco! Vegansaurus readers get 20% off!   »

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Vegan skincare is a tricky one, and I often find myself confused by ingredients and labeling when it comes to cosmetics. Thank goodness then for Vanessa Elise Skincare, a one-stop vegan shop for all your facial and waxing needs, based in San Francisco! I’ve known Vanessa for a while and not only is she a dedicated, very knowledgeable and completely professional esthetician, she is a fantastic, thorough and patient teacher at Marinello. She was one of my first roommates and friends in San Francisco, and it’s been so much fun watching her grow within her career!

I don’t trust many people or skin care products with my complexion, but I have no problem surrendering to Vanessa’s expertise. She gave me my very first facial at Marinello School of Beauty in downtown San Francisco, for which I was kind of nervous. I was her “model” and not only had I never had a facial before, I was going to get one in front of her students. Vanessa’s humor, professionalism and demeanor put me completely at ease and it was such a fun experience. I was stoked when she asked me to visit her Style Seat location months later, because my skin looked so impressive after that first facial. I appreciate that Vanessa understands not only the importance of what a vegan lifestyle means to certain members of her clientele, but what food allergies mean in terms of the kind of products she uses. She does her research not only based on cruelty-free products, but for all the various skin types and allergies as well! She has assessed I have sensitive skin, which I never really considered before, but is now so obvious. Vanessa has given me so many valuable tips* about how to care for my particular skin type, for which I am eternally grateful. This second time I went to see her, the stress of making a long-distance move had reared itself on my complexion and I was embarrassed. She assured me that she had my back, as she was in the business of fixing faces. What a relief! Vanessa also tinted my eyebrows, a procedure I had never had done before! She went back and forth about it, worried that tinting my brows would make them too dark against my pale skin and light hair. That is until I cried, “IT’S SO GWEN STEFANI, DO IT!” My friend Britney was in the room and not only laughed at my outburst, she was so impressed by my brows, she had Vanessa shape hers!

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That’s me, getting a facial! Photo by Britney Roque

Enough about my experience, let’s get to know the woman behind Vanessa Elise Skincare a little bit more. Tell us more about yourself, Vanessa!

I’ve been a licensed Esthetician since 2006. I am still teaching the Esthetics program at Marinello, and I’ve been here since last Spring. Previous places I’ve worked were Super/Perricone MD, Sephora, Pure Beauty, Always Tan Skin & Body. The things I consider to be my specialties are brows and treating problem skin (acne/clogged pores, sun damage/hyperpigmentation), but I offer facials for all skin types and ages. I do chemical peels (lactic, glycolic, TCA) and use microcurrent to lift, red LED to stimluate collagen and firm, and ultrasonic technology to exfoliate and infuse products into the skin. My whole concept is that professional skincare should be results-oriented AND cruelty-free, and that people shouldn’t have to compromise on either one of those things. I wanted to create a space where clients could feel confident that they are going to get the results they want, be it clear skin, beautiful eyebrows, or a basic bikini wax, with products that are ethical and luxurious at the same time.

The products I use and sell are from Skin Script and Dawn Lorraine Conscious Skincare. Neither line is 100% vegan, but all of the products I have from them are. I also sell Hurraw! Lip Balms. Dawn Lorraine is made up Nevada City, and the line uses organic ingredients whenever possible (meaning, when it will not compromise the effectiveness of the product), is paraben and pthalate free, uses eco-friendly packaging and supports animal and environmental protection. Plus it smells AMAZING. I use skinscript to fill in the gaps where Dawn didn’t have vegan options, mostly for acne stuff, and my professional enzymes and peels.

Right now, Vanessa is offering vegan facials and waxing treatments a couple days a week in downtown San Francisco, using Style Seat. If you are interested in booking an appointment with Vanessa, you can do so hereShe has generously offered 20% services for Vegansaurus readers’ first visit, so let her know you found out about her here! Be sure to follow her on both Facebook and Twitter, as she is always offering specials to current and future clients! You an learn more about Vanessa and her campaign to open her own skincare studio here

*Valuable tips include the importance of eye cream (the skin around your eyes has no oil glands and needs the extra moisture of eye cream to help keep wrinkles at bay. Drier areas of the body show age quickly) and not using an exfoliator, no matter how gentle, on my sensitive cheeks. 

Full Disclosure: Vanessa did give me my Style Seat facial on the house, but I was so impressed, with both my skin and the products that she used, I purchased the exfoliator and moisturizer, and I have contributed to a past IndieGoGo campaign to get her started. I will definitely be booking an appointment with her during my next visit to San Francisco. I still can’t get over how clean my face feels after visiting Vanessa! 

Images courtesy Vanessa Elise Skincare. 

How to make kale chips! Spoiler: It’s easy!  »

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Many of you are prob like duh, I been making kale chips longer than you’ve been out of rehab! But I had never made them until a few weeks ago and now I’m addicted. It did take some trial and error though so I thought I’d share my methods for the first-timers in the crowd. 

I also want to add that I wasn’t that into kale. I don’t like it raw and I don’t really like it steamed. But I love kale chips! So if you aren’t that into kale either, you should definitely give chips a try if you want to find a way to like this uber-nutritious green. 

Ok so set your oven to 300 degrees. 

I like curly leaf kale best so that is what I would go with. First, wash your kale! Get it all clean. And then I lay the leaves out on paper towel to dry. You want them dry! Then I take each leaf, pat it a bit more, and place it on a cutting board. 

Now, here is where my special method kicks in. My problem the first time making kale chips was too much olive oil! Too much olive oil means they will be soggy and won’t crisp up or will take forever to crisp up. That’s bad. But I couldn’t figure out how to put some oil on, but not too much. Then I had a genius idea! I took paper towel and doused it with olive oil, then I rubbed the paper towel over the full leaf. PERFECTO! 

So take some paper towel and get it wet with oil. Rub over both sides of the leaf, dabbing a bit at the edges to make sure they get some oil. Then you take a knife and slice out the stem. I hear the stem is very bitter. Bleh. Then you cut or rip the rest of the leaf into about two inch pieces. 

Now place them on a big ol’ cookie sheet (or lasagna pan if you are me and lost your cookie sheet). Arrange them in a single layer. Then sprinkle with salt and Nutritional Yeast, if you want to (you totally want to!)). If you have more kale pieces than fit in a single layer, you will have to do the chips in batches. Unless you have like one kale leaf, you will be doing this in batches. 

Ok place the sheet in the oven. It will only take about 9 or 10 minutes for the chips to be ready! They should be crispy like leaves on the ground in the fall and a little shriveled. You can check on them at 7 or 8 minutes to see how they are doing. You can flip them too if you want, but I don’t think it’s necessary with the curly. If you use Lacinato kale, you should prob flip them half way through (I just flip them with my bare hands, the chips themselves aren’t very hot). 

And then you have kale chips! THEY ARE THE BEST I WANT TO EAT THEM ALL THE TIME. 

Here’s the inside of March’s Beauty Box from Vegan Cuts! I’m very excited for the LVX nail polish—a full size bottle! And a pretty color. I’m also stoked about the Pangea Organics face mask. It’s got a super-long name with all these super-important sounding ingredients. Wait, let me look it up, hold please…
Found it! It’s the Japanese Matcha Tea Acai Goji Berry Facial Mask. RIGHT?! Sounds very important. My face is intrigued. 
I got this for free but the box subscription is $19.99 a month, shipping included (for US addresses. International is more). 

Here’s the inside of March’s Beauty Box from Vegan Cuts! I’m very excited for the LVX nail polish—a full size bottle! And a pretty color. I’m also stoked about the Pangea Organics face mask. It’s got a super-long name with all these super-important sounding ingredients. Wait, let me look it up, hold please…

Found it! It’s the Japanese Matcha Tea Acai Goji Berry Facial Mask. RIGHT?! Sounds very important. My face is intrigued. 

I got this for free but the box subscription is $19.99 a month, shipping included (for US addresses. International is more). 

03/31/2014

UN Court calls bullshit on Japan’s whaling program!  »

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Image from Greenpeace.

Yay! The International Court of Justice has ordered a temporary halt on Japan’s annual whale slaughter! The UN Court does not think the program is truly in the name of science (screw science anyway, save all the whales!). And according to BBC, Japan said it will honor the ruling. 

From NYT:

Reading a summary of the judgment, presiding Judge Peter Tomka of Slovakia said that the present “research program,” dating to 2005, has involved the killing of 3,600 minke whales and a number of fin whales, but that its “scientific output to date appears limited.” The ruling suggested instead that Japan’s whaling hunt served political and economic reasons.

Lawyers attending the proceedings said there was a gasp in the audience when Judge Tomka ordered Japan to immediately “revoke all whaling permits” and not issue any new ones under the existing program.

AWESOME! Let’s hope it sticks!!!

A final note from Captain Alex Cornelissen of the deservedly proud Sea Shepherd Global

Though Japan’s unrelenting harpoons have continued to drive many species of whales toward extinction, Sea Shepherd is hopeful that in the wake of the ICJ’s ruling, it is whaling that will be driven into the pages of the history books.

 

Two Boots brings vegan pizza to Mets fans!  »

This just in! Two Boots will be serving up vegan pizza at Citi Field. Via their twitter: 

Happy MLB #OpeningDay! Didja know we got #vegan pizza @ #CitiField this year!?

We are taking over the sports game! Vegans are total jocks! Rally! Rally! Hit it in the alley!

That is all. 

Faux Moccs: Stylish vegan shoes for kids are here!  »

Finding vegan shoes for children isn’t very easy. I had been searching high and low for about six months with only a few questionable pairs to show for it when I heard about Faux Moccs, a company created by Kortney Campbell, one of the Vegan Housewives, I knew that I had found my solution. I interviewed her for an in-depth look into this vegan mom-run company. 

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According to Kortney, the soft-bottom design of Faux Moccs is especially important for the development of baby and toddler feet. The sylish design of the Faux Moccs encourages babies and toddlers to spread their toes and feet naturally while still offering protection from the outdoors. The fact that children’s developing feet were taken into consideration in the construction of the shoe makes them worth their weight in eco-friendly material. They are made from either nylon or polysester fiber matric manufactured in the USA (the vast majority being nylon). They are breathable and water resistant with no PVC, vinyl or plasticizers. Eco-friendly, vegan, AND biomechanically sound? This is a combo unlike any I’ve ever seen in the kids’ shoe department.

Kortney came up with Faux Moccs when she was having a hard time finding cruelty-free footwear for her 17-month-old son, Judah. Once she realized that other moms were probably having the same issues, she decided to veganize a shoe that would fit her (and his) needs. She tapped into her love of moccasins, her degree in fashion design, and her hero, Betsey Johnson, for inspiration. The resulting design is nothing short of genius. The array of colors offered combined with the handsome look of the shoe are sure to make any mom happy to dress up her little one for a playdate. Kortney says she hopes to release new designs with each season — our kids can be fashionable all year long as they outgrow their stylish vegan shoes.

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Check out Faux Moccs here.

Jessica Schoech is the founder of The Vedge App, an up-and-coming app that will revolutionize the way we find veg food worldwide. She is a self-professed crunchy, vegan mom (cloth diapers, anyone?), wife, and foodie, who finds the most joy in welcoming people of all backgrounds to the green side, especially vegan parents and children. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and at Power to the Veg! on Facebook. Images courtesy Faux Moccs.

03/28/2014

Los Angeles! You need to get in on this! It’s an event at Mohawk Bend where you get to eat all of Tal Ronnen’s food and then hang out with your stomach out and have the best night of your life. It’s gonna be the most delicious thing that’s ever happened to you or anyone you know, and it’s only $35 and will totally sell out, so you should probably get on it now. 
Details:

Join us for the next event in our Authors Worth Celebrating Series and meet Tal Ronnen, Chef and Co-owner of prized Los Angeles restaurant,Crossroads Kitchen and author of New York Times Bestseller “The Conscious Cook.” *** Space is limited, reservations required. Please e-mail authors@mohawk.la to reserve. ***Enjoy a four-course prix fixe meal of Chef Tal Ronnen original dishes prepared in collaboration with our Executive Chef Erick Simmons followed by an intimate Q&A. Menu: ~The appetizer duo: Grilled artichokes with Caesar dressing and sweet onion beggar’s purses~Cream of asparagus soup~Kale ricotta tortellini with saffron cream sauce~Oven roasted banana rum cheesecake with spiced pecan crust and maple rum sauce
The dinner costs $35 per person (tax and gratuity not included). Books will be available for purchase.

Also, I’ll be there so come by and say hi and let’s be best friends, OK?? BEST FRIENDS!!!

Los Angeles! You need to get in on this! It’s an event at Mohawk Bend where you get to eat all of Tal Ronnen’s food and then hang out with your stomach out and have the best night of your life. It’s gonna be the most delicious thing that’s ever happened to you or anyone you know, and it’s only $35 and will totally sell out, so you should probably get on it now. 

Details:

Join us for the next event in our Authors Worth Celebrating Series and meet Tal Ronnen, Chef and Co-owner of prized Los Angeles restaurant,Crossroads Kitchen and author of New York Times Bestseller “The Conscious Cook.” 

*** Space is limited, reservations required. Please e-mail authors@mohawk.la to reserve. ***

Enjoy a four-course prix fixe meal of Chef Tal Ronnen original dishes prepared in collaboration with our Executive Chef Erick Simmons followed by an intimate Q&A. 

Menu: 
~The appetizer duo: Grilled artichokes with Caesar dressing and sweet onion beggar’s purses
~Cream of asparagus soup
~Kale ricotta tortellini with saffron cream sauce
~Oven roasted banana rum cheesecake with spiced pecan crust and maple rum sauce

The dinner costs $35 per person (tax and gratuity not included). Books will be available for purchase.

Also, I’ll be there so come by and say hi and let’s be best friends, OK?? BEST FRIENDS!!!

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