vegansaurus!

05/14/2014

Need a side dish for tonight? I just made Isa’a caramelized beets, and they were delicious! Mine came out pretty close to what the picture on The PPK looks like, maybe a tad more charred. Oops! That is what happens when you ignore instructions like “cut 3/4-inch chunks” and dice them very small instead. Doesn’t matter, still delectable. I just have to do a quick shout-out to my internet friend Angie for guiding me to the recipe in the first place!
May I suggest buying beets with the greens still attached, as opposed to loose beets, to make this recipe? The greens and stems are absolute perfection sautéed! [Ed. note: this sounds like crazy talk] All you need is a little salt, pepper and olive oil. While Isa suggests serving with quinoa, I shudder at the notion. Not only does quinoa taste just awful to me, I’m uncomfortable for days after eating it. This affects about one in 15,000 vegans.* If you don’t do quinoa either, and you’re out there, reading this, know you don’t have to hide it anymore! We’re out there, I’ve found others, you’re not alone. 
*I made that up, it’s a number based on emotion. The emotion of isolation.  

Need a side dish for tonight? I just made Isa’a caramelized beets, and they were delicious! Mine came out pretty close to what the picture on The PPK looks like, maybe a tad more charred. Oops! That is what happens when you ignore instructions like “cut 3/4-inch chunks” and dice them very small instead. Doesn’t matter, still delectable. I just have to do a quick shout-out to my internet friend Angie for guiding me to the recipe in the first place!

May I suggest buying beets with the greens still attached, as opposed to loose beets, to make this recipe? The greens and stems are absolute perfection sautéed! [Ed. note: this sounds like crazy talk] All you need is a little salt, pepper and olive oil. While Isa suggests serving with quinoa, I shudder at the notion. Not only does quinoa taste just awful to me, I’m uncomfortable for days after eating it. This affects about one in 15,000 vegans.* If you don’t do quinoa either, and you’re out there, reading this, know you don’t have to hide it anymore! We’re out there, I’ve found others, you’re not alone. 

*I made that up, it’s a number based on emotion. The emotion of isolation.  

05/07/2014

Product Review: Greenbody Basics deodorant!   »

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I already went over the trials and tribulations of finding an awesome vegan deodorant the last time I gushed about a brand I loved, so I’m going to keep this quick.

Greenbody Basics brand deodorant is phenom! I got a sample in my April Vegan Cuts Beauty Box, and I’m super into it. At first I was skeptical, because it came with a little pamphlet about how you get kind of smelly when you detox from using non-vegan and aluminum-full brands. When I finally gave it a whirl, though, everything was hunky dory. I also like tea tree and rosemary, so I’m glad I got to try the balanced scent. it was just right!

I’m so pleased to have choices when it comes to vegan deodorants. You can pick up a tube of Greenbody at the website or over at Vegan Cuts

05/05/2014

Too Faced Tinted Beauty Balm! Perfect for the the cruelty-free, no-makeup makeup look!   »

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I love makeup! I love eyeliner, blush, lipstick, lipgloss, and mascara! It will be a glorious day once I learn how to use false eyelashes. (Dear Cally, can you help me?) The thing I don’t like however, are concealers, powders, foundations, the act of contouring; they’re all beyond me and I dislike how they feel like a mask on my face. Never mind the fact I walk everywhere, and these things usually just melt right off. Fine, it’s also that I just like to roll out of bed and go. Bedhead is still chic, right?

I do like the look of a finished face, though, and that is why I am a fan of tinted moisturizers; I used to use Laura Mercier, but in recent times, that company has gone the route of animal testing as “required by law.” What’s a would-be low-maintenance vegan to do? Consult my secret weapon, Logical Harmony, of course! Tashina has been forever telling me to try Too Faced Beauty Balm. I love their mascara, so I don’t know why I was so hesitant. Just kidding, I know exactly why: It’s kind of pricey. It’s difficult for me to buy expensive makeup, for fear I won’t like it or I’ll choose the wrong color.

imageMy favorite vegan mascaras! It took a while to find them, but now we’re inseparable.

Long story short, I finally made the big purchase and I love it! I like the soft tint of it, and it’s super lightweight on my skin. My vegan moisturizers don’t have SPF in them, and so I’m digging the SPF 20. Sometimes I just mix a little in with my day moisturizer. Then I add a little pressed powder, some blush, lipliner, lipstick, eyeliner, mascara, and I’m set! Low maintenance, see? 

I was worried about choosing the right color, because even though I’m told I’m pale, I like to believe I have sun-kissed skin all year round. I got the tint one shade darker than the absolute lightest shade, and the tint is perfect! I probably could have even gone a shade darker and been OK, because the color and coverage is not as heavy as a foundation. On the other hand, I may have been in trouble if I’d gone with, say, Beach Glow. That would have been just ridiculous on my end (and something I’ve done rather recently).

If you are in the market for a new day moisturizer, or a tinted moisturizer with light coverage and an SPF — protecting your skin from sun damage is extremely important! — I recommend the Too Faced Beauty Balm. When I ordered mine directly through the Too Face website, it came with two free samples, which was not too shabby. I don’t know if Too Faced does that all the time, but it was a great gesture (i.e., way to get me to buy more products from them).

For more information on exactly what a Beauty Balm is, plus a second opinion, check out Logical Harmony’s review of the same product! 

05/02/2014

I have a confession to make: I don’t like nutritional yeast very much. Over the years, I’ve acquired a taste for it in very small amounts, but it is not my favorite thing. That being said, I am totally obsessed with this Macaroni and Cheeze recipe via From the Garden! I make it at least twice a month, if not more! I don’t know what it is in here that makes the nooch so palatable for me, whether the richness of coconut milk or the combination of ketchup and mustard (my fave). I love baking the macaroni and cheeze with blanched broccoli, and recently I baked it in muffin tins (350F for 30 minutes). That was great because they come out crunchy around the edges and remind me of Cheese-Its, which I was quite fond of. I didn’t even try to grab a pic because the savory mac-muffins were not pretty, just incredibly tasty! Oh yeah, Sriracha lovers, you can sub that in place of Louisiana hot sauce. I know that because it’s what I do! 

I have a confession to make: I don’t like nutritional yeast very much. Over the years, I’ve acquired a taste for it in very small amounts, but it is not my favorite thing. That being said, I am totally obsessed with this Macaroni and Cheeze recipe via From the Garden! I make it at least twice a month, if not more! I don’t know what it is in here that makes the nooch so palatable for me, whether the richness of coconut milk or the combination of ketchup and mustard (my fave). I love baking the macaroni and cheeze with blanched broccoli, and recently I baked it in muffin tins (350F for 30 minutes). That was great because they come out crunchy around the edges and remind me of Cheese-Its, which I was quite fond of. I didn’t even try to grab a pic because the savory mac-muffins were not pretty, just incredibly tasty! Oh yeah, Sriracha lovers, you can sub that in place of Louisiana hot sauce. I know that because it’s what I do! 

04/30/2014

Southern California’s suburban vegan oasis: Falkner Winery in the Temecula Valley!   »

imageSwept up in a turn of events I didn’t fully anticipate, I have found myself living in Southern California’s Temecula Valley for the last two and half months. Soon I will be relocating to Los Angeles, but Temecula will always hold a special place in my life. For one, my sister, bro-in-law and niece live here; and two, there’s vegan fun to be had! It hasn’t been a breeze, navigating menus around here, as cheese is SPRINKLED ON EVERYTHING, WHY WHY WHY?! The Yardhouse was not as vegan-friendly as I had hoped, though their cocktails are pretty spectacular. PF Changs was a sweet relief in terms of ordering, but I carried around a salt-bloat for days. Suburban vegans, I have never given you the credit you deserve when it comes to eating out (all the phone calls and questions!), so this is me giving you mad props! 

Temecula, however, does have a few local spots that cater to vegans. One of those places is Falkner Winery. Falkner Winery not only has a delectable vegan and gluten-free menu at their restaurant, all of their wines are vegan too! This is fantastic news, as Temecula is known for it’s bountiful vineyards and wine-tasting excursions. 

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My mom is all about the logo glass, more so than the wine itself! 

I emailed Falkner Winery to be sure they did not use animal products in the processing of their wine, and was thrilled by their friendly and rapid response. Ray Falkner addressed my inquiry by stating, “we do not use any animal products in either the fining or filtering process. We also never add any animal products along the way in the winemaking process.” Let the tasting begin! 

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Even though I usually go for white, I loved this peppery Syrah. Of course if you can, you should check out the vineyard. But if you aren’t in the area, you can buy a bottle through the magic of the internet!

Of course I also had a meal at Falkner Winery’s Pinnacle restaurant, because a girl can’t live on wine alone (though she may try!). I had the sweet and sour vegetables (picture below). They were scrumptious! This feast includes shaved Brussels sprouts, kale, and a lemon risotto cake, which I was assured, by our charming waiter, was vegan. Brussels sprouts are sure having their day, aren’t they? [Ed. note: Jenny, you’re so seven years ago.]

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Pinnacle Restaurant’s Sweet and Sour vegetable dish.

Should you find yourself in Temecula, as I know a couple of you have, check out Falkner Winery and their Pinnacle restaurant. Not only is the food and wine excellent, but the vineyard is beautiful, with expansive and lovely views! 

04/29/2014

How to, yo: VEGAN PIZZA! Tips and tools from start to finish!   »

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I wish I could explain this logically, but it’s not really a logic desire. Here’s the thing: for as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pizza. Something about that cartoon pizza, it just looked so good, and pizza in real life never quite measured up! I know I’m not alone in this.

Something changed once I started making vegan pizzas; they just had that ooey-gooey look to them, the very look I’d been striving for my entire life! Something about how the cheese melts and the vegan pepperonis bake in, it’s a visual and tasty delight! Of course, using vegetables on your pizza is much healthier, and I highly recommend it (I take mine with mushrooms, spinach, roasted garlic and sometimes pineapple). Or you can make your own vegan sausages with this recipe

That’s enough waxing poetic about my favorite 80s/early 90s cartoon, let’s get to the pizza dough part! I don’t like working with dough. THERE I SAID IT. I will always go for convenience when it comes to bread, pastries, pie dough and pizza dough! That is, until I stumbled across this pizza dough recipe by Bobby Flay! It’s really easy and you don’t even need a stand mixer to make it! 

If you do have a stand-mixer, you can follow the recipe as it says, but if you don’t, here’s my method:

In a small bowl, mix the yeast, sugar, warm water and olive oil. Let sit for a couple of minutes.

In a large bowl, add 3 1/2 cups of the flour and salt. Mix, make a well in the center and then add yeast mixture. Knead until all the flour is incorporated, adding the last 1/2 cup of flour if too wet. I find I usually don’t need it. Now follow the rest of the directions in terms of letting it rise! (When I make my dough, I add just a pinch of extra salt and about a tablespoon of dried rosemary.)

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When it came time to bake my pizza, I did at 450F, on a baking sheet, for about 10 - 15 minutes, until the bottom was nicely browned. If your oven smokes at high temperatures, you can bake at 400F for a longer period of time—just check the bottom of the crust periodically. If you have a pizza stone or fire brick oven, what are you reading this for? You are probably a pizza wizard and could be giving me tips! 

Now, if you choose to use vegan cheese, Daiya is probably the easiest in terms of melt and go. If you are a FYH soy mozzarella fan, but are exasperated by it’s melting abilities, I’d like to help you! You gotta melt it in a double boiler first (I shred it, or cut it up real small, then melt it). Once it’s melted, spoon it onto your pizza. Yeah, it’s an extra step, but it’s worth it! I like Daiya alright, but I get tired of it. Every time I use melted FYH soy mozz, at least three people on Instagram tell me I’ve been duped, that there’s no way my pizza is vegan. That my friends, I call a success! I have been thinking this homemade tofu chèvre would make a tasty addition for a very sophisticated pizza! 

I have some tips on shaping pizza dough here! Basically, it’s easiest to work with when at room temperature and DON’T TOUCH THE OUTSIDE CRUST! 

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As far as pizza sauce goes, I usually use jarred marinara sauce. The other night I made my own, and it was really easy! I sautéed, in olive oil, half a diced onion, three cloves of minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste (1/2 tsp of each, maybe) and 1 TB of Italian herbs. I added a can of diced tomatoes, and about 1/2 cup of white wine (totally optional, and red is great too), then let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Add a tsp of sugar if it’s too tart. I like my pizza sauce smooth so I blended it, but you could also just use canned tomato sauce! 

Sick of the same ‘ol, same ‘ol? Here’s my recipe for BBQ “chicken” pizza! 

As always, we love to hear from you! What are your favorite toppings? Do you have a recipe for a great gluten-free dough? Did you love the Ninja Turtles as much as me? Let us know! 

04/28/2014

Celebrate Mother’s Day with a special vegan brunch in Berkeley!  »

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I have to admit that lately, I’ve been slightly envious of those of you in the Bay Area. Since I left in January, there have been so many fantastic vegan happenings: Hella Vegan Eats is everywhereRepublic of V opened and the S + M chefs are popping up around town! And now, I am stoked to announce, From the Garden is hosting a Greenhouse brunch, just in time for Mother’s Day! Kyle and Ashley make sure to point out that, though it is a “Mother’s Day Brunch,” their elegant feast is for everyone and anyone who would like to attend. Go, go, go, because their food is absolutely fantastic! Bring your mom, your friend who’s a mom, friends who have no affiliation with motherhood except that they came out of one, or just yourself. You can meet new, fun people there! 

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Their presentation alone is gorgeous! 

This brunch takes place in Kyle and Ashley’s greenhouse in Berkeley, on May 11, at noon. There is a possibility if the noon brunch fills up quickly, they will add another seating later in the afternoon. The theme is “Flowers for the Ones You Love,” which could totally apply to yourself, no judgement here. They will be serving three courses, complete with drink pairings (you can request non-alcoholic), all made with edible flowers from their greenhouse! Kyle and Ashley are asking for $45 per person. For more details (like location), and to make a reservation, email Kyle at chefkyleknies@gmail.com! 

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I attended a From the Garden brunch in early January, and it was phenomenal. One of the best meals of my life! I still think about that Greenhouse Mary and bacon-avocado-biscuit breakfast sandwich. 

You can follow From the Garden on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for updates and information on future events. Word has it there’s a Rhizocali tempeh dinner in the works!

04/25/2014

Your vegan-friendly weekend plans, NorCal! Sacramento, Hella Vegan Eats and a haunted hotel!   »

According to a recent list by the Huffington Post, “anything off a food truck” is one of the 22 most hipster foods on the planets. Vegan cookies, tacos and beer made the list as well, so whatever. I bet the writer’s head would explode at the thought of SactoMoFo 7 in downtown Sacramento! 

If you live in the Sacramento area, go check out Vegansaurus fave and Bay Area darlings, Hella Vegan Eats! The festival is free with a canned food item, or $5 at the door. Hella Vegan Eats, a beer garden and live music — sounds like an incredible afternoon to me! If you are considering coming from the Bay Area, why not make a weekend out of it and head to beautiful, vegan-friendly Nevada City afterwards? (Shout-out out to South Pine Cafe, my tofu scramble was DELICIOUS!) They’ve got a haunted hotel and I even heard there is outdoorsy stuff to do. I wouldn’t know, I spent all my time there in the old-timey bars and interrogating the staff at The National for all the ghost stories

04/24/2014

This weekend: Artisanal LA Spring show with Courtesan Cupcakes!  »

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Plans this weekend? Why not hit up this artisanal spring show in downtown Los Angeles? It looks like Etsy in action. I LOVE ETSY! I wish I could go, but I’m moving. You know how that is: lifting heavy boxes and waiting for the electric/internet/gas company to show up and set things up. Exciting! Exhausting! Maybe I’ll go on Sunday, we’ll see! My heart wants what it wants, and that just so happens to be sweets by Jessika Lauren’s Courtesan Cupcakes, and she’ll be there! I’m dying to try her stuff—it’s all so beautiful and 100% vegan. Plus, our LA vegan queen (via London now, I know), Quarrygirl, says those cupcakes are some of THE BEST

I love these events because I always find fun vegan goodies that aren’t necessarily geared towards vegans, ya know? Presale tix are $12 and available right here. Otherwise, it’s $15 at the door. Happy shopping!

04/23/2014

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! 

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