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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. 

04/08/2014

Has anybody here seen the series finale for How I Met Your Mother? Are you in an outrage over it like the rest of the internet? I haven’t watched that show in about six years, but I want to see what all this fuss is about! Once someone told me I look like Colbie Smulders and even though I don’t see it, that is a compliment I’m taking! 
Celebrity doppelgängers and disappointing endings aside, here’s a fun, vegan recipe based off a HIMYM story line. Peanuts in pesto: who would’ve thought? A sitcom writer, I guess! 
[Image via Hello Giggles]

Has anybody here seen the series finale for How I Met Your Mother? Are you in an outrage over it like the rest of the internet? I haven’t watched that show in about six years, but I want to see what all this fuss is about! Once someone told me I look like Colbie Smulders and even though I don’t see it, that is a compliment I’m taking! 

Celebrity doppelgängers and disappointing endings aside, here’s a fun, vegan recipe based off a HIMYM story line. Peanuts in pesto: who would’ve thought? A sitcom writer, I guess! 

[Image via Hello Giggles]

04/07/2014

CLOSED: The Oh She Glows Cookbook giveaway! With a sneak peek recipe!  »

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I got to make and review The Eat Your Greens Detox soup from The Oh She Glows Cookbook, now it’s your turn! Not only that, but we are hosting a giveaway for you to own a physical copy of this gorgeous, full-color cookbook! 

Eat Your Greens Detox Soup:

1 1/2 tsp coconut oil or olive oil
1 sweet onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups sliced cremini or button mushrooms
1 cup chopped carrots
2 cups chopped broccoli florets
Fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
11/2 to 3 tsp grated and peeled fresh ginger
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp cinnamon
5 cups vegetable broth 
2 large nori sheets, cut into 1 inch strips (optional)
2 cups torn kale leaves
Fresh lemon juice, for serving (optional)

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent.

Add the mushrooms, carrots, and broccoli and stir to combine. Season generously with salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes more.

Stir in the ginger, turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant. 

Add the broth and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 20 minutes. 

Just before serving, stir in the nori (if using) and kale and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, if desired. 

I can’t stress enough how great this soup is if, like me, you sometimes put your body through the ringer. It’s both warming and so healthy; really great for all seasons. 

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That’s not all though! We are giving away Angela Liddon’s Oh She Glows Cookbook to one lucky Vegansaurus reader! To enter, please link to your favorite Oh She Glows blog recipe in a comment on this Vegansaurus post! It’s okay if you haven’t tried it yet, link one that looks especially scrumptious to you (I want to know what the people think is scrumptious!). Facebook comments don’t count! The winner will be picked Monday, April 14th, around 5pm Pacific. Please, only one entry per reader. 

Eat Your Greens Detox Soup reprinted with permission. Reprinted by arrangement, with AVERY, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright @ GLO BAKERY CORPORATION, 2014.

Cookbook Review: Oh She Glows by Angela Liddon!   »

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Another day, another fantastic cookbook for review! Today we are featuring The Oh She Glows Cookbook, by Angela Liddon. This cookbook is based off  the popular vegan cooking blog of the same name, which you may have visited and even cooked from yourself!

First of all, this cookbook is gorgeous! There are 100 recipes featured, with each recipe given it’s own page of text and full-page, color photograph! I love this, as sometimes I find myself making recipes that aren’t turning out, and I have no idea how they’re supposed to look, which can lead to confusion and frustration in the kitchen. That’s why I love making recipes from blog posts so much! 75 of the recipes in Angela’s cookbook are new, while 25 of them are from her most popular blog posts, just updated. Her recipes are made with “real, whole-foods ingredients,” packed with vegetables and few processed foods. Each recipe is also classified regarding food sensitivities and allergies, so gluten-free, soy-free, grain-free, sugar-free and nut-free labels abound! 

Before we get to the food, I want to add that everything I made turned out as beautiful as the pictures featured*, which the author deserves credit for, for creating easy-to-follow recipes with vibrant ingredients. This is definitely a book for those looking to add some “cleaner” recipes to their repertoire! 

The first two recipes I made were the Eat Your Greens Detox Soup and Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fingerling Potatoes and Rosemary. imageIt was a lot of green in one sitting, but my bod needed it! The soup was maybe not something I would serve guests, but make for myself when I’ve had a long weekend or late night out. It just felt good to eat it. And how can one go wrong with roasted Brussels sprouts and potatoes with fresh rosemary? The answer: you can’t! The potatoes were approved by my 18 month old niece, Audrey, which is one of the highest forms of praise in this household. She is demanding more as I type! 

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Next up I made the Marinated Italian Mushrooms because Bradleys love marinated mushrooms. I have always bought them at the store, not realizing how easy they are to make! The homemade version is delicious, and will be a staple now in my home for years to come! 

When I was flipping through Oh She Glows, deciding what to make, I came across the Perfected Chickpea Salad Sandwich, and it was a done deal. I am a huge fan of adding Vegenaise to anything and calling it a salad. Liddon’s version did not disappoint; I was blown away by how flavorful and colorful it was! Disclaimer: I did not add the pickles it called for because I do not swing that way. imageI slathered this salad on sliced sourdough bread, because any respectable sandwich comes on sourdough when you grow up in the Bay Area. 

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Last but very certainly not least, I made the Glowing Strawberry-Mango Guacamole. Talk about a sight and taste sensation! This guacamole is beautiful. There is a bit of prep involved, to chop all the fruits, but it is SO WORTH IT. One doesn’t even need chips for this, it’s great by the spoonful! 

I recommend this cookbook because it stays true to it’s word: “Vegan Recipes to Glow From the Inside Out.” The recipes I made, at least, made me feel good. They weren’t particularly tricky to make, they were just a little time consuming, as anything chock full of vegetables will be. There are so many more recipes within these pages I can’t wait to make, including her Summertime Cherry-Basil Bruschetta (Megan Rascal told me she loves bruschetta! Maybe I can finally lure her back to California for a visit by making it [Megan Rascal note: YEP SOUNDS PROBABLE BRUSCHETTA FOR LIFE]) and the Roasted Beet Salad with Hazelnuts, Thyme and Balsamic Reduction! 

Full Disclosure: I was sent this cookbook free from the publishing company for review, however, all of the opinions stated above are my own. 

*Well, my food may have turned out beautifully in real life, but I’m no food photographer! Angela Liddon not only created all of her recipes, she also shot all the food within the pages herself! 

04/04/2014

Cookbook review: Mayim’s Vegan Table!   »

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I just received Mayim Bialik’s debut vegan cookbook, Mayim’s Vegan Table, and I absolutely love it. I have had so much fun making the recipes out of this book. They are easy to follow with super accessible ingredients. I got the feeling this book is catered towards people who are new at veganism or feeding picky, young eaters, but I think anyone can enjoy it! While it can be exciting to make challenging recipes with multiple, unusual ingredients, most of the time I want to make quick meals that are big on flavor. In that respect, Mayim’s cookbook definitely delivers! Like, WHOA! 

The first recipe I made was the creamed cornbread, which is pictured above. I never would have thought of using creamed corn. It added a texture to the cornbread that was both soft and incredibly moist! This recipe did call for quite a bit of maple syrup, which I could see some people very much enjoying, but I would definitely cut down on that next time, maybe even adding some jalapeños. But don’t take that as me criticizing: I very much like having recipes in my repertoire that are delicious in their original form, but can also be easily tweaked to suit my own palate!

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The next recipe I made were the brussels sprouts chips. I meant to share these with my dad, but I ended up eating them all in one sitting. Oops! Peeling the layers of brussels sprouts is not much fun, but the result is so spectacular that I don’t mind doing it again! I hadn’t had roasted brussels sprouts chips since I last went to Social Brewery and Kitchen, so this was quite the treat.

imageMayim’s cheese sauce shows up in a few different places in her book, so I decided to give it a whirl, on it’s own. I used Daiya mozzarella, and in place of wheat flour, I substituted rice flour. I was curious if this recipe could hold up gluten-free. Good news: it does! I think many gluten-free substitutes, such as flour, breadcrumbs and pasta, can be used in the same ration without compromising the taste in her recipes. That is just another reason I am loving this book!  

imageI baked the cheese sauce atop enchiladas (my own recipe, not the ones featured in the book). I was very pleased with the consistency of this sauce freshly made as well as baked in the oven! I could see using this sauce not only on the enchiladas and mac’n cheese in the book, but also with burgers and chili cheese dogs! 

Next up, I made the soft pretzels. These were an Instagram favorite, but I have to admit, I already knew that would be the case! image
I knew I had to make the pretzels, both for myself and because if I’m going to do a review, pretzels are going to be the hit. I am super with-it, when it comes to food trends! My first thought was “Oh no, working with bread dough is so tedious.”, but I should have known better! Mayim’s recipe couldn’t have been easier or faster to make. One thing: the recipe says it makes eight, but then only has you form four pretzels. I only made four and they were huge! So next time I will make eight. I brought two over to my sister and her husband, who are both particular about food. They LOVED THESE PRETZELS, and keep demanding more! So, don’t just take it from me that they are incredible. 

imageThe very last recipe I made were the baked zucchini chips! They were fantastic and I ate them all in one sitting. Four zucchini have never disappeared so quickly! I didn’t have any vegan parmesan, and even though the recipe said that ingredient was optional, I wanted a cheesy taste. I diced up some Daiya mozzarella instead, and I thought it worked pretty well. Of course, I then had to dip them in Sriracha, because, what else? 

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So, that’s that! There are so many more recipes I can’t wait to make, including her Matzo ball soup and falafel! The cookbook contains more than 100 recipes, with appetizer, bread, sauce, breakfast, entree and dessert sections. There is also a sweet introduction, leading up to nutritional information for vegans and a few how-tos. If you are in the market for a new cookbook, I think Mayim’s Vegan Table is definitely worth checking out! 

Full Disclosure: The publishing company sent me this book free for review, however, all of the opinions stated in this post are mine. 

04/02/2014

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.

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