vegansaurus!

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. 

Apr 16

Help the Cinnamon Snail get a new shell!

The Cinnamon Snail, the best food truck on the East Coast, needs a new truck! Want to help them get it? Of course you do! They are the greatest and living with the Snail is a trial and punishment that none of us, vegans and omnis alike, deserve.

So get a piece of that sweet Kickstarter action! The rewards look pretty sweet, too; if I had $250 to spare, I’d sign up for the cooking course (for heaven’s sake, someone teach me what to do with tempeh, I canNOT) for sure.

The streets of this great city are bereft without the glorious food of our beloved Cinnamon Snail. For their sake, for our own sakes, we must get them back in business. To Kickstarter, food lovers!

Lulu’s chocolate: organic, raw, vegan, and chocolaty!

imageMaca Buttercups. 

Lulu’s is an organic raw chocolate company with not only super exciting wrapping design, but lots of yummy flavors! They are on the Food Empowerment Project’s recommended chocolates list, wrapped in vegetable-dyed, environmentally-conscious packaging, made with fair-trade cocoa, and sweetened with low-glycemic coconut sugar. Basically: EAT WITH RECKLESS ABANDON! Lulu’s sent me a bunch of free chocolate to try and now I will tell you all about it.

imageSexy packaging! Rococo, mother-lovers!

Overall: LOVE. And I don’t know if I’m just gassed from their write-ups, but I felt like I was totally eating something that is good for my body! Chocolate is good for you now, right? Especially raw chocolate!

My very favorite was the smoked sea salt almond bar. Salt and chocolate is the best combination and Lulu’s pulls it off perfectly! I shared all the bars with my coworkers (because I am so nice to them) and they liked everything, but this bar was especially popular with them as well. 

My other favorite was the coffee crunch bar. I also love coffee with chocolate and once again, Lulu’s does it right!

imageSmoked sea salt almond bar.

At the top, you can see the maca Buttercups. Maca is supposed to be super good for you, I think? At least it’s supposed to be an aphrodisiac. Below is the chocolate maca chunk. 

imageChocolate maca chunk bar. 

I have to be honest, I wasn’t that into the maca flavored chocolates. They are fine but just kind of not that flavorful and not as good as the straight chocolate bars. But the Buttercups were pretty good actually! Besides the Buttercups though, I would mostly get the maca chocolates for the interest-factor. I.e. APHRODISIAC SEXY TIMES!

imageLove truffles. 

The love truffles are pretty exciting. They have hazelnut Rawmio! They were a little too rich for me, all truffles are, but my coworkers really liked them. So if you are a truffle person, these are for you. They have a hint of salt too! Yum.

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So clearly I am a Lulu’s fan! If you want delicious chocolate that’s actually good for you, Lulu’s is where it’s at. 

In other Lulu’s news, they currently have an Indiegogo campaign! They want to open a “chocolate lounge” but they need your help. There’s less than a week left and they still have a ways to go! So let’s help them out! I love when we get together and support vegan, socially and environmentally-conscious businesses! And you don’t have to be in Arizona to donate, the perks include LOTS of chocolate! So if you are thinking of buying any of their chocolate to try, think about doing so through the campaign so you get yummy raw chocolate AND you help out a vegan business. Let’s do this!

Apr 15

Bee Free Honee introduces FOUR new flavors! Vegan honey options abound!

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Before we get started here, I just want to say that Bee Free Honee has seriously blown my mind. When I first read about it, I was like, “It’s made with apples and lemon, so it’s probably like a fruity, sugar syrup. That’s cool. At least no bees were harmed.” And yes, Bee Free Honee is made out of apples and lemon, but it is also so legit, it can’t quit. It tastes exactly how I remember honey tasting! The consistency is there too! But you already knew that, because we’ve talked about it here before.

I was never the biggest fan of honey, but I’ve had a special place in my heart for it because my grandpa would eat it with his oatmeal and I just thought he was the coolest! He also ate his shredded wheat with apple juice instead of milk, which was something I just couldn’t get into. Believe me I tried, once, with cornflakes. I like to think he would dig Bee Free Honee, and you know why? BECAUSE IT TASTES JUST LIKE HONEY! No joke!

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Katie Sanchez, the innovator behind Bee Free Honee, sent me not only her Original Honee, but all of the new ones as well: Chocolate, Mint, Slippery Elm and Ancho chile! They are all so good. The flavors are really subtle and herbal. I wish I enjoyed drinking tea more, because any of these would be so great in a hot afternoon beverage! OR A HOT TODDY? I don’t know, I don’t like whiskey either [Ed. note: SQUARE!]. I used the chocolate and mint Honees to make brownies! While you can definitely use these cup for cup in place of sugar when baking, the brownies were a little too floral and herbal for me. I should have consulted the recipe page before proceeding! Oh well, we learn from our mistakes [Not me! -Megan Rascal]

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My two favorites were the Original and the Slippery Elm, because they had the most classic tastes. It’s not because I’m boring, it’s because my favorite thing to make with honey used to be baklava! And by make, I mean what my mom would make and I would eat. I knew when these Honees were on their way that baklava was going down. My mom and I made a batch, and it was WONDERFUL! So, thank you Bee Free Honee, because being able to eat my mom’s baklava again was a fantastic experience! I didn’t think it was going to be a possibility to enjoy it again, so I am beyond stoked. 

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Recipe coming soon! Maybe, someday.  

You find where to purchase Bee Free Honee here! I’ve seen it at Sprouts and Viva La Vegan in southern California. You can also follow Bee Free Honee on Facebook and Twitter

Full Disclosure: Bee Free Honee sent me their product free of charge to review; all of the opinions stated above are my own. 

Vegan Chocolate Online Fundraising Auction TOMORROW!

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Guys! Tomorrow from 9am-8pm PDT (so that’s noon to 11pm for us East Coasters), there’s an online vegan CHOCOLATE auction to benefit Food Empowerment Project!

You know we love FEP here so I hope you will support this fundraiser. PLUS AUCTIONS ARE THE FUNNEST! And chocolate is the chocolatiest. So it’s perfect. 

It’d be super fun if you get stuff and tell me in the comments what you got! I just want to know. And I barely ever ask you for anything so jeez just do me this one favor gawd!

Help Asbury Park, New Jersey get its very own all-vegan chocolate shop!

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Cinnamon Chocolate Covered Toasted Macadamia Nut Truffles! Yum!

Kristina Swenson learned to make chocolate as a child in Hawaii, now she wants to bring her skills to New Jersey! A natural progression. But Kristina needs your help to get her chocolate shop, The Chocolate Rabbit, started. 

I haven’t tried these chocolates but they sure look nice! And I am excited to have an all-vegan chocolate shop to force my family to stop at when we drive the NYC-Philly route. 

I know, another day, another vegan kickstarter, but I happen to love that our community can come together to fund the vegan endeavors of our brethren. We are mighty! Plus you KNOW I love kickstarter perks. Imma get some chocolate!

You can learn more and donate here. Good luck, Kristina!

Apr 14

Curry Up Now in San Francisco’s Mission District hits the spot!

imageI love drinks in mason jars! It feels so Portland, Oregon

One of my last afternoons in San Francisco, I found myself in the Mission District’s Curry Up Now restaurant. I had been meaning to go for a while, and was in the mood for a light snack. Samosas and beer it was! 

I enjoyed my afternoon pit stop. My only regret is that I was not more hungry, because many of their menu items sounded pretty good! Curry Up has a nice beer selection, along with special vegan and gluten-free menus. The prices were fair, dare I say, even on the inexpensive side? Inexpensive for San Francisco, that is. I thought this would be a good place to grab a bite to eat and a drink with co-workers, when everyone is different levels of hungry and spend-happy! It’s also open late (midnight) on Fridays and Saturdays, which is great because I get HUNGRY when I go out. I don’t always want a burrito; I like variety! 

imageI pretended to be enthralled by the decor (which is actually quite nice) while I eavesdropped on the young, hipster girls at the table next to me discuss Taylor Swift at length. It was a little slice of heaven. 

Curry Up Now has three locations in the Bay Area, including 659 Valencia in San Francisco, 321 Hamilton Ave in Palo Alto, and 129 South B Street in San Mateo! 

Blossom Du Jour goodies now available at NYC Whole Foods!

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Check it out! Whole Foods and Blossom Du Jour have teamed up to bring you Blossom goodies on the go. They will be rolling out a lot of products over the next year but the first out are Almond Biscotti Chips, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Double Choco Brownie Bites, Oatmeal Cookies & Pot Pies. POT PIES?! YES!

The line debuted at the Chelsea Whole Foods last Friday. I haven’t tried anything yet but best believe I’m getting pot pies as soon as I can get my chunky hands on them. And if they box up the vegan cronuts OMG!!!