Product review: Raw chocolate-covered mulberries kick Raisinets’s ass! »
I’m always on the lookout for weird and crazy raw food, so when the Raw Chocolate Co. posted a glorious picture of chocolate covered Brussels sprouts on their Facebook, I was like OH DANG, this is my perfect food!
Sadly, it was a hoax, used to promote what they actually offer: raw cacao-coated mulberries.
After corresponding with an employee about why Brussels sprouts really should be doused in chocolate, she sent me their raw chocolate mulberries and they are seriously no joke. While they’re not candy derived from a brassica, which was my momentary life’s wish come true (and maybe still is a little bit), they are completely delicious and unique.
Here’s why: Think of your first experience with chocolate-covered dried fruit. If you didn’t grow up in Berkeley under the roof of hippie parents who raised you on public demonstrations and farmers’ market samples, your first experience with this dual-natured candy was likely in the form of Raisinets scarfed alongside your friends in the back of a movie theater. Raisinets are shitty and unethical and not at all vegan, but most of us learned to expect that chocolate-coated dried fruit would be chock-full of fillers and sickly sweet; the hard chocolate shell had tons of sugar, the raisins were sweet by themselves.
Now that you’re a grown-up and frequently dip into the bulk bins of organic chocolate-covered raisins at the Valencia Whole Foods or Rainbow, you’ve come to expect less child slavery and animal cruelty in the same hard shell/dried fruit format—it’s just how these things go.
Maybe it’s because Raw Chocolate and Co. is a British company, or maybe they’re true revolutionaries on all fronts—whatever the reason, their chocolate-covered mulberries defy any chocolate-covered fruit industry standards of which I’m aware. The mulberries are sprinkled with the cacao coating in a way that manages to preserve the integrity of the shape and texture of the mulberries, rather than masking their identity with uniform hard chocolate shells. The mulberries’ cacao coating is just the right amount of sweet (using really delicious unrefined sweetener coco palm sugar!) and isn’t a hard shell that takes a second to dissolve into its components but rather a melt-in-your mouth delicate glaze that gently gives way to the superior quality dried mulberries within.
The package also includes all kinds of helpful math about what’s in them: 44 percent mulberries, 56 percent chocolate. 74 percent cacao overall, raw cacao solids, cacao mass, coco palm sugar, cacao butter, cacao powder, and all fair trade—yay!
I highly recommend trying these raw vegan chocolate-covered mulberries. They come in the most adorable tin ever and would make perfect gifts for that special raw foodie or candy gourmand in your life. And stay tuned for my in-development recipe for raw chocolate covered-Brussels sprouts!
Ethical Vegan Makeup To Make Your Girlfriend Look Even More Gorgeous »
UPDATE! It appears the mascara reviewed is NOT vegan. The eyeshadow is. Purely Posh has a good marking system, we just got confused! Forgive us.
Are you looking for ethical, organic, eco-friendly, gluten-free, completely vegan makeup? I know Urban Decay says they’ll stay ethical (I am glad to hear it and really hope that’s true!) but if you’re looking for a huge variety of vegan makeup products that fit the above description, Purely Posh offers lots and lots of options at really affordable prices!
Purely Posh sent me free samples of two products: Mineral Lights Eyeshadow in color Shangri La and Mineral LashLuxe Mascara in color Onyx. The amazing beauty/model/vegan health and juice coach Courtney Pool radiated with her Purely Posh makeup-bedazzled eyes. Look at those blues pop, ow ow! I don’t really wear makeup but I definitely know sexy vegan gorgeous when I see it! Mmm hmm!
According to founder and owner Jen Gamez, Purely Posh was created to bring awareness to the dangers of chemicals in beauty care products. Our skin is a fast-track to toxic exposure as it absorbs pretty much everything. According to their website, “On average each woman applies 12 different products to her skin each day, totaling about 500 different chemicals.” Wow. Jen says she just wants her customers to feel at peace that they are applying safe and ethically sourced products to their bodies. That sounds and looks pretty radical to me! Get Purely Posh online.
OMG: Ellen Degeneres Admits She’s An Egg Eater »
As I wrote on my personal blog today five minutes after I found out, Ellen Degeneres casually revealed during a recent segment on The Ellen Show that she’s no longer vegan. In an interview with Grey’s Anatomy actress-come-backyard chicken wrangler Ellen Pompeo, Ellen Degeneres said:
We have neighbors who have chickens, and we get our eggs from those chickens because they’re happy.
Eating eggs from chickens that are “happy” is common among the elite Eco-conscious set in Hollywood and beyond. The belief goes a little something like this: Happy chickens = happy eggs = we can all eat eggs and no longer be vegan but still be ethical eaters, because, hey, the chickens are happy, right?!
Because many of us vegans follow “all the news that’s fit to print” and therefore know that all the eggs are shit to eat, we can all now recall a recent New York Times article that showed backyard chicken farming is downright dangerous for humans, especially in certain cities. You can also read our Vegansaurus post about the study showing eating backyard eggs is like swallowing little lead-filled bombs.
I’m admittedly hella disappointed my queer vegan mentor has gone eggy, but Ellen’s admission could be a great springboard for the vegan movement to have a real debate about this weird backyard egg fad. As a vegan movement, we need to address this issue. I suggest doing tons of studies and throwing mad science at the debate by exposing more of the health and environmental dangers of eating backyard eggs, not to mention the big potential for mistreatment of chickens when they stop producing eggs. While I commend actresses and performers for wishing to care for chickens and treat them humanely, I wonder what will happen to these chickens when they stop laying eggs, or if they find lead in the eggs? I have a hard time thinking that every Hollywood eco-conscious person will suddenly want pet chickens once they stop producing; Will they then justify turning them into “happy” humane chicken meat? It’s a slippery slope.
What are your thoughts?
Label me delicious: Bites of Bliss superfood treats rule! »
As a high raw queer vegan, I think about labels a lot, how they’re helpful and also kind of complicated. Labeling a product vegan is a bold visibility move, and I like that. I’ve seen entire Facebook photo albums devoted to highlighting explicitly vegan products. It’s actually really validating, like, WE BUILT THAT, but less offensive because we’re talking about the vegan movement and not political tomfoolery. I do worry that overtly vegan labels might scare people away from trying vegan things for the first time. If all apples had huge VEGAN stickers on them, do you think everyone would still buy them? No, they’d protest until McDonald’s finally took the stickers off, uniformly chopped the apples, coated them in chemicals, and made them into a “pie” or something.
As the Vegansaurus raw correspondent, I get the privilege of seeing a lot of products’ labeling, and that has me thinking—doth the label maketh the product? The short answer is no, but when it comes to labeling raw vegan products, I’m convinced certain labels really do help make the sale, aka trip to my tummy. Alerting consumers that your product is raw, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, agave-free, dairy-free, and contains no GMOs is pretty much required if you want to party with the elite raw vegan foods crowd.
If the above description sounds absolutely incredible to you, then you’re in luck: I just tried Bites of Bliss, and they’re really delicious! I tried the goji berry, carob almond butter (you know there’s a chocolate-free label they wanted to slap on but were too scared of the raw chocoholics seeking vengeance. Best to downplay that particular feature!), and my absolute favorite, pineapple coconut with chia seeds. I haven’t had a piña colada since the early ’00s, but holy tropical fruit, this is truly delicious! It tastes creamy and it’s just the right ratio of pineapple to coconut.
The ingredients are delightfully simple: raw dates, raw walnuts, raw pineapple, unsweetened coconut, coconut nectar (yeah, EFF agave, that higher-glycemic sweetener!), raw chia seeds, and coconut oil—all organic, of course, and the taste is HELLA TROPICAL! I can almost feel the ocean tide and hear someone offering me bathing-suit-optional snorkel lessons. This product is a winner! Get it online and in select Bay Area health food stores.
Do you care about what’s on the label of your raw/vegan products? For research purposes it’d be rad hear about it in the comments!
[images via Bites of Bliss]
Live Superfoods Are Luxury In Your Blender »
I love raw vegan smoothies so much! I tend to drink them at least once a day, for breakfast and/or after my weight lifting class (I’m trying to get super jacked on plants! Wish me luck!) Since I tend to drink the same few smoothie ingredient combinations on the reg, it’s important for me to stop—hold up—and try new flavors and ingredients.
Live Superfoods sent me samples of their organic raw maca powder, organic raw cacao powder, and organic raw coconut palm sugar to try. Though I’m used to adding maca and cacao powder in raw vegan drinks and desserts, Live Superfoods’ versions of these were truly spectacular. I feel like I’ve been adding boxed wine to my smoothies all my life and suddenly someone reached out of the sky and handed me a bottle of Chteau Haut Brion Pessac-Lognan 1982. I’m not sure that high class wine would taste great with chia seeds, but you get the point—these are very classy ingredients!
I’d never used low-glycemic coconut palm sugar before in a smoothie, and I am happy to report that it’s a wonderful add-in! Coconut palm sugar has a different maple-y flavor than stevia, my usual go-to sweetener, and nicely complements berries and other frozen fruits. The Live Superfoods cacao powder was bold and slightly fruity, and the maca was rich and malty. I have to say, this mint-infused smoothie combination is my new favorite, and is destined to be my new go-to in the morning!
Coconut Chocolate Maca Mint Smoothie (serves 1-2)
1 tsp Live Superfoods Organic raw coconut palm sugar
2 tsp raw cacao powder
1 tsp maca powder
1 cup strawberries
1/2 tbs chia seeds
1-2 tsp fresh mint leaves
Strawberries and/or vegan granola
Fresh ‘N Lean: Yummy organic vegan meals delivered to your door! Plus, 20 percent off for Vegansaurs! »
First, a big whopping disclaimer: I am affiliated with Fresh ‘N Lean. It didn’t start out that way—I was just an unsuspecting lover of their maple-sweet homemade granola, gluten-free vegan lasagna, hearty chickpea Asian salads and savory lentil soup.
Then they asked me to write for their blog in exchange for an ongoing weekly supply of their incredibly delicious plant-source only food—how could I say no to that offer, right? [Ed. note: how can I be down?!]
Months later, I’m still one of Fresh ‘N Lean’s biggest fans. And since it’s vegan and delicious, I thought the Vegansaurus audience would be interested. The concept behind Fresh ‘N Lean meals is that lots of people who want to eat healthfully are just too damn busy. Blame it on the Capitalist Man, or maybe your crazy travel schedule as a hydroponic saleswoman, but most of us really can benefit from someone else doing the cooking, at least once in a while. Though the Bay Area is super great in terms of options for the vegan on the go, it can get expensive. Fresh ‘N Lean is priced to be cheaper than healthful vegan takeout, so it’s pretty cost-effective to sign up to get a few meals a week from them (or a whole week, if that’s your thing!).
Fresh ‘N Lean is totally vegan. The food tastes good, but doesn’t have tons of added salt, sugar, or anything like that„ so it works really well for people with preventable diet-related lifestyle diseases. I worked at a raw vegan retreat center where many guests were into the idea of eating vegan food, but once they got home were like, “What the what do I eat?” This is a cool option because while it’s not all raw, it is all fresh and good for our heart-attack-recovery celebrity friends (Hi, Rosie!) and neighbors.
Besides being yummy, Fresh ‘N Lean meals are gluten-free, corn-free, non-GMO, organic, and, like I said, vegan. My favorite dishes include the chia porridge breakfast, signature green bean salad, gluten-free vegan mac’n cheese, and all of the quinoa vegetable medleys. If you’re trying to get friends and family members into healthy vegan food, this might be a great gift. My brother, already vegan, owns a film studio, and I gifted him a weekly plan to help him feed himself when he’s so busy on set.
Fresh ‘N Lean is based in L.A. and ships nationwide.
SPECIAL DEAL for Vegansaurus readers: Use the code “vegansaurus” to get 20 percent off your order!
[Photos via Fresh ‘N Lean]
Product review: Sacha Vida’s nutty-tasting, omega-3-packed, delicious sacha inchi oil! »
Sacha Vida sacha inchi oil, made from sacha inchi seeds grown in peru and bottled in the Napa Valley, tastes like a cross between hemp, flax, and peanut oil. Like hemp and flax, this oil cannot withstand heat and therefore must be used exclusively in raw dishes. Obviously that’s fine with me, because I just love raw food!
The health benefits linked to sacha inchi seeds are impressive: ideal ratios of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin E, cardiovascular health, improved skin health. Apparently the oil causes less gas than some others, and has way more omega-3s than soy, olive, sunflower, or flax oils. It is the most unsaturated vegetable oil on the planet, according to the Sacha Vida website. It contains natural antioxidants. As oils go, this one has a pretty ideal nutrition profile for vegans of all stripes!
Sacha Vida Sacha Inchi oil is obviously super-healthy, but how does it taste? To find out, I used a free sample of sacha inchi oil sent to me by Sacha Vida, and employed it in this recipe I created:
Kale Pomegranate Sacha Inchi Salad
Serves 1 to 2
1 bunch kale
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped beets
1/4 cup raisins or goji berries (optional)
1 Tbsp. Sacha Vida oil
1 pinch black pepper
1 to 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp. miso (I used chickpea miso)
1 tsp. coconut aminos, tamari, or Braggs
1 pinch kelp flakes (optional)
Mix all dressing ingredients and massage into salad ingredients. Let sit in the fridge for 30 minutes or more before serving in order to give it time to marinate!
The oil tastes delicious. The peanuty flavor is heightened by earthen notes that satisfy the palate. Mixed with greens, it feels silky on the tongue, and has a slight lingering mouth-feel that is sweet and savory at the same time. I feel like I just drank golden nectar, something the Greeks would have loved to have imported from Peru to consume after the cheaper oil was all used up for wrestling.
Interview: Meet Nicole Marquis, owner of HipCityVeg in Philadelphia! »
Healthful vegan fast food maven Nicole Marquis dreamed of serving fast food to Philadelphians and visitors to the City of Brotherly/Sisterly/Gender-is-a-construct Love. And when she built HipCityVeg, we did come, in arugula taco salad-chomping droves. Now it’s silly to even think of eating anywhere else in Rittenhouse Square! I mean, I guess you could think about it, but it’d be better to save your precious brain space for finding the best spot in Rittenhouse Square to sit with your gourmet vegan take-out deliciousness from HipCityVeg!
Nicole brought me into her adorable restaurant to have me try the groothie, an organic green smoothie made of a rotating blend of fresh local greens and fruit (amazing!) and one of the most popular dishes, the Crispy HipCity Ranch. This overflowing faux chicken burger was battered fried amazingness. I rarely go for that stuff but wow, am I glad I tried it! So ridic!
I love the decor of the place: the whole pieces of organic fruit spilling onto the counter (in an artistic way), hardwood floors, and pretty potted plants. So lovely!
Nicole e-mailed me responses to my questions about how she envisioned and created HipCityVeg, her role in supporting the fast-growing vegan scene in Philly, and her life’s mission to spread the delicious veggie love.
Vegansaurus: Are you native to the Philly area? Where did you grow up?
Nicole Marquis: I’ve lived in the Philly area all my life except for a period living in L.A. during college. I grew up in Lower Gwynedd, but have been living in Rittenhouse Square for a few years.
V: When did you become interested in vegan food?
NM: I first became interested in nutrition by reading Andrew Weil. Then I read Mad Cowboy and realized what animal cultivation was doing to the earth. After reading Eat to Live and The China Study, I realized that a plant-based diet is essential to my health. I became vegan a few years ago after being vegetarian for several years, but the change in conciousness was actually developing for a while before that.
V: How did you get involved with now-closed Philly vegan fine-dining restaurant Horizons?
NM: I worked in the restaurant industry for years, mostly as a server before managing a local night club. While working on another project I met Rich Landau and he recruited me to help run Horizons.
V: What made you decide to open HipCityVeg?
NM: I felt a mission to popularize plant-based food. When something has great importance to you personally you want to see it grow and flourish. I also wanted a world where I didn’t have to peice together a couple of sides every time I ate in a restaurant.
V: What has most surprised you about operating a vegan restaurant in Philly?
NM: I was surprised by the pent-up demand. People said they were waiting for this for a long time. Who knew?
V: How many customers do you get on average per day? More during certain hours of the day?
NM: We serve about as many people as can fit in the restaurant (and onto the sidewalk), really. Our busiest time in this location is around lunch.
V: What is your most popular dish?
NM: Our best-selling sandwich is the Crispy Hip City Ranch, which is delicious. But our overall best-seller is our signature drink, the Groothie. It’s a smoothie made of bananas, apples, organic greens, and a seasonal fruit. There really is nothing better for your body.
V: How do you envision the growing veg scene in Philly? Do you think it’s greater now for any particular reason?
NM: Philly is becoming a great vegan city. It really is a hip city. People here love to challenge their tastes, to embrace the fringe. But they crave real, clean, fresh food. I love my hometown.
V: What are your hobbies, activities besides running the restaurant?
I love yoga. I love the arts. I love eating in great restaurants. I love my family and friends.
V: Anything else you’d like to add?
NM: I want everyone to feel at home in my restaurant. I hope we share the vibe of love. We’re all family!
[Groothie and Crispy HipCity Ranch photos via HipCityVeg]
Product review: Yummi Bears vitamins are perfect for kids, and the kid in you! »
UPDATE!!!: Turns out, these are NOT vegan. They contain lanolin. However the company says that Yummi Bears Organics Immunity and Yummi Bears Organics Brain Health are both vegan.
When you’re a queer vegan like me, you learn to improvise in situations where inequality is at play. No same-sex marriage in your state? Road trip with your pleather biker fiancé to Northhampton! No vegan gummy vitamins on the market? Squash one of your regular vegan multivitamins and one of those wacky German vegan gummy animals together and chew it down before you taste anything horrible (like the part that isn’t gummy bear)!
The thing is though, times are changing. Rainbow marriage is on the horizon (you heard it here first, folks!) and finally, vegans have an awesome gummy multivitamin to call our very own. Hurray! Yummi Bears Organics Multi-Vitamin is completely vegan, as well as free from allergens, gluten, casein, gelatin, and GMOs, and all natural and organic. Yummi Bears make four varieties of vegan organic vitamins: a multivitamin with 16 essential vitamins and minerals; a Brain Health vitamin with DHA and B-complex; an Immunity Health with rose hips and astragalus (I LOVE ASTRAGALUS); and a Bone Health vitamin to give kids healthy bones, teeth, and gums (you know, when they’re not messing up their dental work with gummy bears).
The company sent me free samples of the Multi-Vitamin and Bone Health. How do they taste? AMAZING. They really taste like candy. Because, you know, they are candy. I felt insta-fortified after trying three of each (that’s the serving size according to the package, don’t hate!) and I know you/your kids would, too.
I really love taking vitamins, and I’m passionate about vitamin accessibility in the vegan community. I once considered living in a co-op near Lake Merritt but decided not to because it didn’t sit right with me that they had a communal condom drawer but didn’t share vitamins. I mean, I get that, but c’mon. Choosing safer household sex over safer household B-12 blood levels? They didn’t have their priorities straight. That’s why I moved to Philadelphia, where people share cigarettes and horror stories about traffic to the Jersey Shore. And now I have these amazing gummy vitamins to share—so far I’ve brought some to a young queer Jews of Philadelphia National Coming Out Day party, and I can confirm that I made exactly 3.5 friends while passing out gummy bears over by the hummus (that’s always where you’ll find me!). A great victory for supplementation proliferation and my heeb social life. Yay!
Get Yummi Bears Organics at Rainbow, Whole Foods, and other health food stores, or online.
Product review: Perfect Fit brown rice protein is superb in smoothies! »
I know there’s a lot of debate out there about what should go in smoothies. Greens? Nut milk? Berries? Durian mixed with agave and raw cacao sauce? It can be tough to decide what your smoothie should have in it—I know I’ve stood, mouth agape, in front of my blender for upward of two minutes trying to decide whether 1/4 cup of maca is overkill (note: it is).
There are as many ways to blend as their are ingredients under the moon, but I highly recommend whatever you put in your smoothie, you start it with a protein-rich or green-rich base. That way, you’re at least fortifying yourself when your smoothie consists of just cacao nibs and avocado (admit it, you’ve tried that combo at least once!).
Perfect Fit Protein by Tone It Up scared me with its name—I’m not interested in toning anything when I drink smoothies, except maybe my hair if it’s that time of the color cycle—but its ingredients are absolutely non-scary! I love that it has so much protein (15g serving! Woohoo!) yet includes only organic raw, gluten-free, non-GMO brown rice protein, stevia, and no common allergens. The company sent me a bunch of samples and I absolutely could not taste the flavors (in a good way!) in my usual berry-maca-almond milk-chia seed smoothie.
I highly recommend adding this stuff if you’re interested in a no-fuss protein boost without tons of added ingredients you’ll likely find in other vegan protein powders. This is a winner! Find it online.