vegansaurus!

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! 

04/22/2014

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!  

04/21/2014

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! 

04/17/2014

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. 

04/15/2014

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. 

04/14/2014

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! 

04/10/2014

Have fun, Oakland: S+M popup at Beer Revolution on Friday!   »

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Did you have plans for Friday, Bay Area? If they don’t include hitting up Beer Revolution in Oakland for the S + M vegan BBQ, cancel ‘em! Or modify them, I don’t know! Please, just make sure you check this out, and then tell me everything. I’ve been hearing amazing things about this new vegan popup in town! I want to see all the pictures too, because your vegan food, cats and cocktails are what I live for on Instagram. Could I be anymore of a cliche? Answer: no. 

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