NYC: Free cooking class with Alexandra Jamieson! »
Alexandra Jamieson (of The Great American Detox Diet and Top Chef: Just Desserts fame!) is teaching a cooking class on Sunday, Mar. 13 and it’s FREE! We just heard that there are still spots left—spots that could be filled by your beautiful self! It’s part of the NYC 21-Day Vegan Challenge that I mentioned a little bit ago. Here’s the info:
Great American Detox Diet author and superstar vegan nutritionist, Alexandra Jamieson, who literally wrote the book on eating vegan (Vegan Cooking for Dummies) will teach an intimate class on how to make seitan chimichurri skewers and chickpea blondie brownies with almond cream—recipes that are super-easy, filled with protein, and 100 percent gluten free.
Chickpea blondie brownies with almond cream?! WANT. I may have to register myself! OMG and you could register too and then we’ll meet over chimichurris and fall in love! Or, you know, I could do my usual Sunday routine which consists of watching Matlock reruns on channel 55 and cursing the day I discovered red wine.
Chow Down and All-Star Veggie Panel! It Was Crazy! »
[Can’t see the video? Watch it at Vegansaurus.com!]
Like I mentioned on Friday, I went to a screening of Chow Down on Saturday. The movie was good; I liked it. It was hokey as fuck with all these cartoons and shenanigans but it was informative and comprehensive despite the scientific subject matter. The film focuses on two men who are faced with surgery for heart disease. Instead of surgery, both men opt to work with Cleveland Clinic doctor Caldwell B. Esselstyn and follow a “plant-based diet.” The results are very impressive; both men hadn’t had a single coronary indecent since changing their lifestyle even though they were told they would die without surgery.
The other aspect of the movie that was very interesting is it really goes into the business of nutrition in America. It has a lot of information about the hold that the milk and dairy lobby has on the USDA and the huge conflict of interest the government organization has when it comes to being a.) responsible for national nutrition recommendations and b.) in charge of promoting American agriculture. The film interviews the woman who created the first food pyramid and even then, the main component of the recommended diet—the bottom of the pyramid—was supposed to be fruits and veggies. The government rejected that and replaced the bottom with good old American grain. Ultimately, the first food pyramid was bagged altogether under pressure from the meat industry. What a tangled web we weave!
Guess what else: it was made by some Philadelphians! I knew the one guy in the movie was Philadelphian as soon as he opened his mouth. Hilarious.
So that’s the movie; it was fine, good even. But THEN! It was time for the Q&A with the all-star panel! This is when things took a turn for the awful. OMG I think I hate vegans! I know, I can’t believe I said that but these people were kooks! And so like cocky and self-promoting! Maybe I’m overreacting; it wasn’t really the panel that got to me, it was more the Q than the A. The panel included Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary; Michael Parrish Dudell of Ecorazzi; Simone Reyes, some chick that’s on Running Russell Simmons (haaa, that was a hilarious inclusion); Victoria Moran, super-author; Alexandra Jamieson, super-author, Top Chef veganizer, and co-star of Super Size Me; and Gary Null, crazy-ass mofo. Also on the panel were Julia Grayer and Gage Johnston, the filmmakers.
I really liked Jamieson and Moran; Dudell was good and I liked him, but he said he would be a strict moderator and ended up being a total nancy. That was the problem: crazy people in the audience kept hijacking the discussion! They would make these barely understandable rants with the only question being like, “What are your thoughts on my rant?” I forgot how much I hate Q&As! I used to go to them for films all the time when my mom worked at the Philly Film Festival. You have these really interesting people there but all you end up hearing all about are the trials and tribulations of various audience members trying to get funding for their own projects. It’s the same with authors: “But how do I get my book published?” Oy! Give me a break.
The crazy audience was only half the problem; the other half? Crazy-ass Gary Null. Oh my god, I did a face-palm whenever he started talking. He’s a complete nut. Like Christopher Walken on crack. He only made sense half the time and he kept talking about getting people to be vegan through spirituality, which just isn’t my bag. The worst was that he was like making sermons with dramatic pauses and bringing in Martin Luther King and crap. And he kept directing his rants at the panel too—who the eff are you to lecture them? If I were the panel, I’d be like, Screw you, bro. And he barely let anyone else talk.
One theme that emerged in the questions was about inclusion and how to unite vegans; THEN at the end, this woman who organized the event came up to speak about this initiative she organized called NYC Goes Vegan. The whole event was supposed to kick off the start of this 21-day challenge. Granted, she was not the most eloquent and she really didn’t promote her initiative very well, BUT! The same people who were talking about uniting vegans and asking what we can do to reach the mainstream started talking straight-up shit on this woman WHILE she was talking! She was a very attractive, model-looking woman and she looked about 26—though she’s actually 38—and made a comment about facing old age and the older women around me like ‘bout had a mutiny! And they were talking trash on her “Valley Girl” speech. Is that how you spell inclusion?! Just petty. I was shocked. I wanted to stop being a vegan just to spite these people! Don’t worry, still vegan (I know you were worried).
Basically, your friend Megan was about to bust heads. It was a shame. I wanted to hear more from the filmmakers, like why they avoided the word “vegan” in the movie, and if the doctors are hesitant to talk about veganism and deliberately stick to “plant-based diet.” I would have also liked to hear a lot more from Moran, she was kind of awesome but didn’t speak much.
The movie was pretty good though and you can actually watch it RIGHT NOW on hulu. It’s only an hour long, you can handle it.
Project Just Desserts: Veganizing Top Chef! Week eight: VEGAN Mini Sweet Potato Cheesecakes with Puffin Potato Chip Crust and Vanilla Sugar! »
Episode eight of Top Chef: Just Desserts was another two-dish winner, so guest chef Alexandra Jamieson chose Mascarpone Cheesecake with Cap’n Crunch and Tarragon Sugar over a pink pavlova with grapefruit curd and meringue. Considering the devil of a time episode five’s red hot macaron gave Vegan Dad, we completely understand her decision. Her choice has nothing to do with the quality of her veganized dessert, however—she was insanely creative, making these adorable little vegan cheesecakes with Kettle Chips and sweet potatoes that your Vegansaurus could eat alllll day.
Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, we are only able to show you one small photo of Alex’s lovely little finished cakies. Please accept our humblest apologies, and try to make do with this image of the original dessert instead. While this isn’t the first time we’ve been without proper pictures of the final vegan product, we do hope it will be the last. We hope you don’t let this cloud your judgment of our wonderful chef’s creation! Our apologies made, let’s get cooking.
Mascarpone Cheesecake with Cap’N Crunch and Tarragon Sugar becomes
Vegan Mini Sweet Potato Cheesecakes with Puffin Potato Chip Crust and Vanilla Sugar!
Yield: 1 dozen
1½ cup Barbara’s Puffin Cereal
1 cup Kettle Sea Salt Potato Chips
4 Tbsp. unbleached white flour
1 Tbsp. organic sugar
½ cup Earth Balance, melted
Sweet Potato Cheesecake
½ cup Tofutti cream cheese
zest of one lemon
⅓ cup sweet potato puree
⅓ cup organic sugar
1 vanilla bean
2 tsp. organic sugar
Combine the cereal, potato chips, flour, and sugar in a food processor fitted with an S-blade. Pulse about 15 times until the ingredients become a sandy mixture.
Stir in melted Earth Balance to combine.
Press 1 Tbs. of the mixture into silicon or metal molds and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Bake at 325 for 15 minutes, remove from oven, and cool completely.
Sweet potato filling
Combine the cream cheese, lemon zest, sweet potato puree, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with an S-blade. Process until totally smooth. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Split open the vanilla bean and scrape out the black seeds. Combine the vanilla seeds and organic sugar in a spice grinder and grind until powdery.
To assemble, remove the cooked tart crusts from their molds and top with 2 to 3 tsps. of filling. Sprinkle on a few pinches of vanilla sugar and serve.
That sounds delicious, pals! Much better than boring old extra-creamy mascarpone, which as we know is part of a creepy government plot to get us all to buy more cheese. We are on to you, and the next time we want baby cheesecakes we are making them with sweet potatoes and tofutti. You can find more of Alexandra Jamieson’s excellent recipes online at Nutrition for Empowered Women, and soon at Week in a Weekend! Her books include The Great American Detox Diet and Living Vegan For Dummies, and Vegan Cooking For Dummies will be released on November 20! Thank you so much, Alex!
Remember to let us know if you try out any of the recipes in our Project Just Desserts series; we would love to see your dishes. Wednesday is the ninth and penultimate episode, so do come back!