Laura Miller, down-to-earth amazing creator of Sidesaddle Kitchen has a new YouTube show called Raw. Vegan. Not Gross. Watch as her don’t-give-a-damn gorgeous self teaches you how to make mouthwatering raw creations sans any fancy schmancy equipment. And don’t worry, there are no “goddamn salads” involved!
Sasha Funk is a plant eater, juice maker and crazy cat lady living in Connecticut. Follow her on instagram.
Restaurant review: Rawlicious Soho! »
Meave: Remember how I was saying last week that we are really lucky vegans? Let’s double that sentiment, because recently Megan and I were invited to a tasting at Rawlicious Soho, the new Rawlicious spot at 249 Centre Street in Manhattan. Of course we said YES to fancy free food, because what are we, not hungry? Not eager to try new dishes? Not kind of obsessed with cashew cheese and raw vegetables? Well, maybe the last one is more me than Megan, but still. To Rawlicious Soho we went!
Meave: First they brought us this plate of nut-and-seed flatbread topped with dill cashew cheese, caramelized onion, and cherry tomatoes to share. It was beautiful, vibrant, and really tasty. If you’re not eating all of the tomatoes you can get your hands on during the summertime, you are missing out. They’re perfect when they’re ripe and totally nasty out of season, so take advantage of the summer and get snacking.
Megan: Yeah, the whole thing was great but the tomatoes were out of control. I was like, where the hell did they get these and can I get a 100 more? That was true across the board—they must have some super taster finding their fresh veggies, everything was just perfect.
Meave: Next, they brought us each a plate of their taco salad, which was made of avocado, salsa, walnut refried beans, red and green onions, cashew sour cream, and sundried tomato nacho chips, over romaine lettuce. You guys, I loved this salad. I still think about it. The avocados were perfect, firm and yielding and buttery in that avocado-y way. The walnut refried beans I could’ve eaten alone, forever, but with the crispy lettuce and the tangy cashew sour cream—a really great combination. Though I have always been partial to taco salad (it was my main jam at Gratitude before all the ugliness).
Megan: The avocados were cray! Totally perfect! And ditto on the walnut refried beans—who ever heard of walnut refried beans?!
Meave: Then they brought us each a slice of flatbread pizza with cashew cheese, pesto, tomato, zucchini, mushroom, and basil. Rich! basil-y! Unctuous, you guys, the combination of cashew cheese and basil was unctuous, so rich and savory, plus the firm vegetables and the crispy flatbread—so good.
It was at this point that we realized we were both getting pretty full.
Megan: Loved the pesto! Additionally, damn, why’s Meave gotta use words I have to look up?
Meave: After we managed to eat our entire pieces of pizza, they brought us plates of their pad thai with kelp and zucchini noodles, carrots, red cabbage, green onions, and cashews in a “tangy Thai sauce.” Crispy-crunchy, savory-sweet, and very good. Not as spicy as I would have liked it, but the textures were delicious, and it was nice and cool on a hot summer afternoon.
Our lovely server, who had been vegan for all of three weeks (hooray!), had to box our dishes for us, as we were both reaching stomach capacity.
Megan: I have to differ on this one, I wasn’t that into the zucchini noodles. I’ve never been a big fan of raw food but everything here was so great I think I’m a changed woman! But this is the kind of dish I think of when I think of raw food—“noodles” that are all crunchy. Not my thing. Good sauce though (but I don’t like spicy).
Meave: But of course we had room for this tiny, flawless dessert: a brownie bite with coconut “frosting” and chocolate banana ice cream. Because it’s sweetened with dates (and bananas), you could really taste the walnut, cacao, and coconut flavors. Again, the texture was incredible. I should really stop being surprised that raw desserts can be so goddamn good, but still, this was amazing and I am in love with it.
Megan: Guys guys guys, this thing was OFF THE HOOK. Why am I not eating this little chocolate wonder all the time?! And I usually don’t even like coconut (I know, I’m that picky vegan) but this was perfect! The banana chocolate ice cream was awesome. The whole thing was awesome. It was my favorite part of the meal.
Meave: It stands to reason that we would be biased, as Rawlicious offered us this tasting free of charge, gave us a table with really great lighting, and were totally accommodating and very nice. Of course we’re biased. Still, the food was very, very good. The restaurant space itself is charming, light and airy with an exposed brick wall and bright, interesting art.
Megan: I’m not at all biased because I’m stone cold and hard to impress. But I was impressed. I just don’t usually go in for raw food so I was skeptical, but the food was so good! And yeah, my first reaction was, whoa, this place is nice! It’s not at all hippie like Cafe Gratitude or something—which is another association I have with raw food (despite Pure Food & Wine). When I think of raw, I think of crunchy cold food and new-age crap. This place is not like that! I even liked the paintings, and I’m hella snobby about paintings. So the place is upscale—but comfortable all the same. Our waitress was soooo nice. Like Meave said, a brand new vegan! I gave her some tips of course because I’m me.
Meave: I would absolutely go again. Especially on a date! Definitely I would invite a gentleman here for a beautiful meal in an attractive space, where the lighting makes everyone look like a total babe.
Megan: Agreed except it wasn’t the lighting, Meave is a total babe. In conclusion: I WANT MORE CHOCOLATE BANANA BROWNIE BITES!
Raw dessert is basically negative calories, being made of fruit and nuts. Make sure you tell everyone that as they dive in. I know I do. Raw dessert for every meal!
Learning to live and love and eat hella delicious raw food in San Francisco (without Cafe Gratitude) »
That’s what I wrote about over at The Bold Italic today! You should read it and then make me some Key Lime Pie! And by you, I mean Jenny Bradley, who used to work there and make KLP for a living, LUCKY GIRL. Lucky, that is, except for all the shady-ass shit the Cafe Gratitude employers were pulling, more of which seems to come out daily, of which I report on in a very shady manner. What can I say? I love to gossip and nobody every accused me of being a journalist lolz. Fair and impartial has no place on the internet and the sooner we all learn that and everyone just starts publishing websites that consist entirely of Top 10 lists (e.g. fat people’s 15 favorite foods, Phyllis Diller’s top 20 sexcapades, Best 16 reasons to end it all today, etc.) then the sooner we can all move into the future, burning cities and all.
Insider gossip/news: more Cafe Gratitude drama-rama! »
An anonymous tipster wrote in with this juicy tidbit of even more fucked-up Cafe Gratitude happenings:
This is more than a tip. It is a fact. Cafe Gratitude stuck the owners of the building in Healdsburg with over a year and a half lease by breaking the lease early on the official five year lease. Cafe Gratitude was profitable in Healdsburg after three and a half years of drilling their employees to increase profits. Every time the employees met the goal for the month, the Engleharts would raise the bar even higher. And the employees kept meeting it, with a final gross daily of $2000 at the time of closure.
The owners of the Healdsburg building did everything they could to build up Cafe Gratitude, even forgoing rent and utilities for an entire year, and after that moving to a very beneficial 5% of gross sales to the Engleharts for another year, and doing much of the buildout for Cafe Gratitude in the beginning despite it being under contract for the Engleharts to pay.
How were the very generous and hard working owners of the building treated? They received nothing in return except a very short notice of closure and the last month rent unpaid. The Engleharts develop a culture of trust and community in order to receive from others. But what do they actually give to their landlords and employees other than their love?
Verrrrrrry interesting. Now, what do you think of all of this? I think it’s bullshit and I’m bummed about how shitty Cafe Gratitude’s weirdo mcbeardo (look for that technical diagnosis in the DSM-VI) owners treated their employees and I sure as shit will miss that key lime pie. Man, I loved that pie. I loved that pie more than I love most/possibly all people. Thank the lord for Rachel’s Cafe Gratitude bereavement plan… although I’ve been way too lazy thus far to make anything because I’m extremely lazy. But seriously, PIE:
[photo from Green La Girl]
Raw Vegan Banana Coconut Cream Mini Pies! Banana pudding with Nila wafers is my ALL-TIME FAVORITE DESSERT so I’m always looking for delicious ways to recreate that taste sensation and this looks pretty g-d tasty! I might make it even easier by rigging some sort of a vegan vanilla wafer no-bake crust. I’m sure a recipe for that exists on this glorious internet of ours? I love the internet*!
*except for when I hate it.
Product Review: Green Tara Spirulina Energy Bites and Spirulina Crunchies »
I was overjoyed to discover Green Tara, a Phoenix, Ariz.-based raw, vegan, organic, gluten-free foods company that produces foods with delicious, nutrient-dense spirulina! In Buddhist traditions, the Green Tara is considered the Buddha of enlightened activity. If eating pond scum doesn’t count as enlightened activity, I don’t know what does!
Green Tara sent me their Spirulina Energy Bites, which looked like cubes of dried lawn clippings, and Spirulina Crunchies, a unique dehydrated spirulina product, shaped like Grape-Nuts, which works great on salads, soups, and other raw dishes. I have always loved Spirulina Crunchies (this particular product is also sold by a company called Vivapura, which is also located in Arizona), and put them on my raw vegan salad just to make sure they’re still awesome. They are. The Spirulina Energy Bites have strong coconut notes, and are the perfect size and shape to toss in raw trail mix or eat alone for snack. They’re dense and chewy, and, thankfully, they’re not over-dehydrated.
I am a bit biased, as my partner is the Spirulina Junkie [read our Spirulina Junkie review!] and I love spirulina in many forms, but this Green Tara spirulina is the real deal. I’ve tried some crappy spirulina brands, and they can really turn a person off to algae for no reason! Since spirulina is so high in beta-carotene, iron, and easily absorbed plant protein, it’s a great loss if a poor-tasting batch or brand turns a veg person into an algae abstainer for no reason.
I am glad the Green Tara uses only the best spirulina in its products, and look forward to sharing them with friends and family just getting into the algae!
[Picture from Green Tara’s website]
eBook Review: The New Green Smoothie Diet: Going Green Never Tasted So Good »
These days, it seems like everyone in the health world has a different perspective on what we should and shouldn’t put in smoothies. Some say all-fruit is the way to go, while others advocate using only low-glycemic fruits like berries and grapefruit (including the medical doctor who runs the raw vegan retreat center where I worked for two years). Well-known raw foodist David “Avocado” Wolfe advises tossing in durian, mangoes, bananas, goji berries, and every “superfood” on the market. Others say not to use any fruit at all. Even regular self-help people want to weigh in! Martha Beck, a personal favorite motivational life coach of mine (with several Harvard degrees, to boot!) says in her latest book Finding Your Way in A Wild New World that we should blend following a 1:1 fruit to veggie ratio. Kris Carr’s new smoothie e-book is out, and though I haven’t read it yet (I want to!) I strongly suspect she’s got her own spin on the smoothie ingredient debate.
The New Green Smoothie Diet: Going Green Never Tasted So Good by Hilary Greenleaf predictably stakes a claim about which ingredients belong in smoothies. Greenleaf says we should drink smoothies that are 60% fruit and avoid putting powders, nut and soy milk in our smoothies, and only use water for liquid. I guess that’s good for some people who may get all confused by labels and accidentally toss in something crazy like, say, whey powder or maybe arsenic along with their produce. But what about super nutrient-dense add-ins like raw, vegan supplements Vega, Green Grasses, hemp protein, maca, cacao powder, and HealthForce Vitamineral Green, spirulina, chlorella, etc.? I just had a smoothie this morning that included many of the aforementioned discouraged smoothie ingredients, so I’m a bit biased, but I wonder why would she suggest these added raw vegan organic ingredients are a bad idea, without much explanation? Greenleaf includes lots of studies and research in her 50-page ebook, but I wish she would’ve rounded up some optimal smoothie ingredient studies, because somebody needs to get the final word on the smoothie debate once and for all!
Once I got past my initial distaste for yet another dogmatic yet scientifically unsubstantiated approach to smoothies, I found plenty to like in this e-book. I appreciate that it cites lots of articles and studies on obesity, health and nutrition, and mentions the importance of choosing organic when possible. Other claims made by author Greenleaf, like how green smoothies can combat “liver sluggishness,” I wasn’t so sure about, but I am intrigued by all of the recipes here that include guava! According to Greenleaf, a small guava added to smoothies can lead to strong hair and clear skin. Sounds yummy and healthful! I’m willing to pick up some guava and give it a whirl. Other highlights include weird recipes like The “Salty Smoothie,” which Greenleaf says also works as a cold summer soup. As the title suggests, all recipes include some greens to give you caffeine-free energy.
There aren’t tons of recipes in this book—it focuses mainly on the nutrition benefits of smoothies and the recipes feel like kind of a side note. Still, there are some gems that are worth trying! This morning I made the Energy Smoothie, “a great salty smoothie to help increase your energy levels and ‘warm’ you up.”
Here’s the recipe (with permission from author!):
(Note: author does not indicate how many servings this makes; I’d say based on my experience it makes 1-2 servings)
One head of lettuce (author recommends red, which I used)
1 cup Swiss chard
1 medium cucumber, peeled
1 cup turnip or collard greens (I used collards)
1 lemon, peeled and seeded
1 tsp seaweed (I tossed in a little bit of kelp)
I’m not sure about the whole “warm” thing, but I did enjoy my thick, chewy puddle of green nutrition! Normally, I’d be very tempted to separate out the pulp using a nut mylk bag after blending just greens and citrus, but I abstained from straining this time and actually enjoyed the chew factor. If you like your green smoothies strong like I do, this recipe is pretty rad!
If you’re open to looking past Greenleaf’s strict smoothie rules and advice about how many calories you should aim to eat at every meal (this totally assumes we all have the same physical activity levels, body types, weights, and AH THIS FRUSTRATES ME SO MUCH SO I’M JUST GOING TO STOP), then The New Green Smoothie Diet isn’t a bad place to start if you’re just getting into the blending game. Overall, this recipe ebook is a winner. Happy blending!
Top 10 links of the week!: A mad dash with the track team of veganism! »
Another video sent in by my grandpa! He always finds me the best stuff. I want to meet lil’ gorillas! PS: Can’t see the video? Watch it on Vegansaurus.com!
A Grist writer attacks soy and is super annoying! Like we always say, soy is destroying the rainforest because of THE BEEF INDUSTRY! She even says that—listen to this action: “Many vegetarians turn to soy as a meat substitute, but the soy industry is inextricably linked to meat. Some 80 percent of the conventional soybeans grown in this country end up on factory farms as livestock feed.” Um … makes what sense this does? As my new favorite person J. Kenji López-Alt responds: “Because the rest of the soy is used to feed cows, the soy that I eat is somehow tainted? I mean, water is essential for the manufacture of weapons. Am I being complicit in their construction if I don’t stop drinking it?” Love that guy.
Chelsea C. alerted me to this story a while ago, what do you think? This artist makes fur stuff out of of roadkill. Chelsea thinks it’s grody to the max but I don’t know if it bothers me. What’s your take? Discussion topic of the week!
If you want to read something nauseating, than this HuffPo post is for you!: Do Not Compare my Dogs to Pigs. Ever. It’s really just bizarre. She doesn’t say what exactly bothers her about pigs. She does say stuff like this: “If you have the audacity to compare my working dogs to my edible livestock, I have already stopped listening to you.” Edible livestock? What constitutes edible? Are people edible too? Can I just put edible in front of whatever I want? I also like how she has to add that her dogs are “working dogs,” because unemployed dogs are the worst.
Reader Alexis M. sent this link in and had the following comment:
"As a student with a degree in biology from an Ivy League university’s school of agriculture and hands-on experience with dogs and farm animals alike, I am particularly ashamed and upset to see such biologically incorrect statements being perpetuated on the Huffington Post. Culturally it is true that Western values make us see dogs and farm animals as different groups to which we attribute arbitrarily different anthropomorphic characteristics, but such views are solely those perpetuated by the human psyche and not the true biological nature of the beasts at hand. As someone with college training in evolutionary biology and comparative anatomy in particular, such statements that dogs are "better" or more emotionally proficient than pigs reeks of human hubris and an inability to remove oneself from societal influences to see unbiased scientific data. In continuing to perpetuate Western hegemonic values of "speciesm" you further reinforce the fact that we as a society can designate subgroups such as "farm animal" from which to remove rights, emotions, and intelligence, and thus remove the need to provide such subgroups with compassion or justice. I am ashamed that such unabashed cultural biases towards accepting violence and lack of scientific rigor are being displayed on public venue to influence others, but such is the nature of our society, unfortunately."
Dang! Well said, Alexis!
Over at Crazy Sexy Life, Shell Feijo tells of her experiences with weight and veganism. I can’t believe what some woman said to her! People are whacked.
Hey, you! Don’t forget to read Laura’s Week in Vegan! And leave her comments so she knows you care!
The Veg Speed Dating blog has an interesting post about masculinity and veganism—does being a veggie male hurt your chances of landing a lady? Tell me!
This Dish is Veg has four reasons why networks should add veg cooking shows! Are there more?
How cool would you be if you could help care for animals in times of disaster? Hint: SO COOL! Guess what, S.F. peeps! You can take Disaster Animal Response Team training!
Lastly, hey guys! If you have any links you think I should share (don’t be bashful with your own stuff!), email me! Otherwise I have to do all the work myself! Bleh.
Café Gratitude Bereavement Plan »
It sure sucks that Café Gratitude is closing. Lucky for me, I said my goodbyes a few months ago with a slice of raw cheesecake, right after I said goodbye to S.F. Pride and right before I got on a plane and moved to Denver.
Lucky for you, I’ve had time to figure how to live Life without Gratitude. And because I’m the nicest person ever, I’m going to share that hard-won knowledge.
Gather round, grasshoppers. Here’s what you do:
WARNING! REPLACING CAFÉ GRATITUDE IS HARD AND EXPENSIVE AND WILL MAKE PEOPLE THINK YOU’RE WEIRD! PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK! BUT IT’S HELLA TASTY!!!
- Admit that the best thing about the restaurant was dessert. Then buy Sweet Gratitude, the book that will tell you how to make said desserts.
- Flip through the book. Cry a little when you realize how hard and complicated they are and how much better it was to just pay for them.
- Take a deep breath and COMMIT. It will be worth it!
- Buy Irish Moss.
- Buy a kitchen scale.
- Buy raw coconut oil.
- Buy soy lecithin.
- Buy raw cacao butter, powder, and maybe nibs.
- Buy raw vanilla beans.
- Buy a VitaMix. Or don’t but you’ll wish you had one. Trust me.
- Choose a recipe. Buy the rest of the stuff you’ll need, like almonds and cashews and dates and agave and coconuts, from the grocery store.
- Plan ahead. You’ll probably need to soak things for various amounts of time, from one to 24 hours. Maybe make a Gantt chart?
- Whip! Blend! Chill!
- EAT AMAZING FOOD!
That’s a lot of steps, partly because I’m making fun of it. To be honest, it really is worth it, at least for special occasions. I still haven’t tried making the tiramisu at home. But I will. And you’ll hear about it.
Look what I made! Raw lemon-blueberry cheesecake! It rocked!
- Start with some of the simpler recipes. The cheesecakes, for example, don’t need Irish Moss.
- Making this food will make you covet a better blender, unless you have a great one already.
- Blend longer than you think you need to.
- If you’re not a raw food purist, don’t be a raw food purist. Use canned coconut milk. Use the almond milk you always use. Screw raw vanilla, use regular. Yeah of course it’ll taste different but you’ll be more sane.
Thanks, Gratitude. I am grateful you existed, and grateful for the challenges you’ve left us. Though I’d still rather just let you do the work.