Guest Post: Rosie O’Donnell Announces She’s Vegan On Twitter! »
For those of you living in the middle of nowhere Arizona eating raw vegan food, meditating and not checking Twitter on your phone every ten minutes, I feel you: I lived that way for a couple years! I assume your main source of information is Vegansaurus, so we’ll just break it down for you: the awe-inspiring Rosie O’Donnell recently suffered a heart attack and has since gone vegan!
Yesterday Rosie O’Donnell tweeted: ”nine days later - nine pounds lost - eating a plant based diet #likebillclintonhttp://pic.twitter.com/8ItILfpl.
Some debate ensued as to whether she really was outing herself as vegan. I tweeted the news that she was vegan and a few people chirped that she’s not. I apologized for the misinformation, and, lo and behold, @Rosie tweeted me:
The vegan-lesbian tribe is getting so full these days! Yay! Since coming out as vegan, Rosie has received a barrage of vegan-positive tweets, Facebook posts, and messages across the far reaches of the Internets. Let’s keep spreading the veggie love and supporting her heart-healthy journey to an ethical, plant-based diet!
This is Vegansaurus raw correspondent Sarah E. Brown’s latest post! Read more by Sarah on Vegansaurus, and visit her personal blog, Queer Vegan Food.
Guest Product Review: Good Greens: Superfood Nutrition Bars That Taste Like Candy! »
Good Greens low-glycemic gluten-free vegan bars, which boast 40 antioxidants, 10g protein, Omega 3’s, are low-glycemic, and are free from animal products, could taste like chalk and still get a nod of favor in my direction, because I love supplements so hard. These bars boast some of the fanciest and hyped ingredients in the natural health/vegan world, including mesquite, nori, mangosteen, probiotics, flax, aloe vera, chia seed, mulberry, bilberry, broccoli sprout powder, Nova Scotia Dulse (can we please make this the trendy new lox substitute? Yay Jewish vegan pride!), golden berries, alfalfa sprout powder, beet juice powder, wheat sprout powder, cha de Bugre, Siberian Eleuthero Root Extract, DHA, green tea extract, camu powder, pine bark extract, macs, lucuma, chlorella, and spirulina all grace each label of these superfood-packed bars.
With such a crazy A-list of superfoods, there’s very high risk for flavor failure. It’s like those star-studded ensemble cast movies which have such glorious talent but as a whole miss the mark: Paris Je T’aime, New York, I Love You, New Year’s Eve, etc. (Note: These films certainly had redeeming qualities, so if you love them please excuse this analogy!)
Taste may not be the primary concern for vegan health freaks (myself included!) but Good Greens bars unabashedly shoot for mass appeal. They even have a code to scan with your smartphone to learn more about the products! Can you just imagine a bunch of people scanning these on BART? I (s)can!
While a lot of so-called nutrition bars fail badly when they try to cram so many insanely powerful nutriceuticals (or else are seriously effing unethical and won’t disclose whether they source their cacao from places that use child slavery—F you, CLIF!), Good Greens decided to rise above and make bars that are completely ethical and INSANELY DELICIOUS. I shit you not, these are like CANDY! So how do Good Bars orchestrate a symphony of superfoods without creating sheer mouth cococphany?
Actually, it’s pretty simple: chocolate! Nearly every flavor of these bars includes dairy free dark chocolate as the first ingredient. It turns out, dark chocolate is the great equalizer when it comes to flavor-balancing. These bars are sweetened with healthful ingredients but you’d swear otherwise. The chocolate peanut butter, chocolate raspberry, and chocolate coconut flavors will inspire you to break dance in your “Pigs are Friends Not Food” underwear until you hit your target heart rate!
Good Greens, which sent me free samples of each flavor, are available in health food stores and online.
This is Vegansaurus raw correspondent Sarah E. Brown’s latest post! Read more by Sarah on Vegansaurus, and visit her personal blog, Queer Vegan Food.
Rawxies: Heart-shaped raw vegan deliciousness! »
Rawxies (“foxy raw treats,” according to the company’s website) are gloriously delicious heart-shaped raw food bars sweetened only with fruit and coconut palm sugar. Coconut palm sugar has recently gained favor in various raw food circles, and reportedly has less of an effect on blood sugar than agave or cane sugar. Either way, it’s totally delicious, and so are these lovely raw cookie bars! Rawxies sent me some samples of each of their flavors.
Rawxies founder Callie England parlayed her raw food interest with her graphic design prowess to make healthful treats that are so effing adorable they will be guaranteed to impress your date/friend/gym partner with whom you share one of the two heart bars found in each colorful serving pack.
Combined with high-quality organic raw ingredients like poppyseed, almonds cacao powder, cacao nibs, vanilla rains, walnuts, and other delicious add-ins, and sweetened with dates and/or coconut palm sugar with tasty oat groats, these bars really are a cut above many other vegan snacks on the market.
Using coconut palm sugar essentially guarantees you’ll have the low-glycemic-loving raw crowd on your side, and abbreviating “essential oil” to “E.O.” on the package of the mint chocolate chip Rawxies made me feel I’m in a special raw vegan club that has shorthand only cool kids know—except now everyone who reads Vegansaurus knows (in case you didn’t already suss that one out!), so I guess all of us are in a special club, and can eat Rawxies with the knowledge of all of its ingredients, together!
Callie created Rawxies to bring foxy raw food to the masses. Their shape reminds me of the vegan Heart Thrive energy bars that undoubtedly got me through my varsity collegiate cross-country seasons (they were sold through Vassar’s meal plan!). I think that these treats are in keeping with Stephen James Organics’ bars in that they emphasize the fun, flirty appeal of raw food, though I guess a lot of folks feel the need to fight the “raw foodists eat twigs” stereotype! I’ve never worried about being accused of consuming twigs, since I admit to my propensity to down twig tea with abandon, but regardless of whether it’s essential to create raw food products that combat any crunchy public image, I think it’s great that so many people are making raw food more accessible and delicious!
Update: NuTru’s O-Mega-Zen + EPA supplement »
If you recall, our Sarah E. Brown reviewed NuTru’s O-Mega-Zen + EPA, a “vegan source of high-purity algae derived Omega-3 DHA and EPA.” She totally thought it was great, she just thought it tasted “like hell.” That Sarah, so spirited! Well, it turns out she was sent a version that’s no longer on the market, so NuTru sent her the current product to try. Here’s her updated assessment:
“The new, improved, product that is currently the only one available tastes like a faintly sweet vegetable-derived gel cap, which is exactly what it is. I am happy to report no fishy algae taste leaked into my mouthfeel experience whatsoever. The product is indeed as pleasing to the palate as it is to the body.”
There you have it! I’ve heard about this algae-derived omega, supposed to be just as good as icky fish supplements because algae is where the fish get the omegas in the first place! So now you can tell those “but humans are supposed to eat fish” people that they can suck algae.
My partner in vegan crime, Courtney Pool, and I tried vegan boba (bubble tea) for the first time at Vegan Tree restaurant. Wow, what amazing tapioca pearls of joy! How did we live so close to boba places in L.A. and not imbibe regularly?
We’ve decided we’re going to love boba forever and always from now on.
Great job, Sarah and Courtney! Congratulations!
Guest product review: Jem Specialty Nut Butter! »
In the uppermost echelons of the elite nut butter world, being raw, vegan, organic, local, and sustainable is not particularly remarkable. I’d dare to say superior ethics and health properties of high-caliber varieties of nut butters are simply what us highfaluting gourmand vegans have come to expect. Specialty Nut Butters by Jem Raw Chocolate are all of these things, but I must convey to you, dear reader, how uniquely wonderful they are—truly unlike any nut butter varieties I’ve ever tried.
The three flavors Jem generously comped me were Cinnamon Red Maca Almond Butter, Coconut Cardamom Butter, and Chocolate Hazelnut Spread. I come from the superfood enthusiast camp that believes that you can never ingest enough maca, a root vegetable native to the Andes with reported (and annecdotally confirmed) benefits of increasing motivation to engage in the making of love. Eat Jem’s spread and you’ll notice it’s easy to get in your daily dose of maca without the same stigma of “I want SEX ALL THE TIME,” traditionally associated with inhaling tiny mountains of pinkish-golden maca powder in the bathroom at Esta Noche. (Note: Please do not try snorting maca, at home or at Esta Noche).
The Cinnamon Red Maca Almond Butter is jam-packed with raw red maca and cinnamon, sweetened only with lower-glycemic coconut palm sugar. The taste is akin to a snickerdoodle laced with butterscotch. Highly recommended! Coconut Cardamom Butter reminded me of the time I spent a week at a Tibbetan Buddhist monastery. Instead of attaining enlightenment, I got sidetracked by the heavenly smells of cardamom simmering in fresh pots of chai tea wafting into the meditation hall. Learn from my spiritual weakness and bring a jar of this smooth, lucuma-filled treat with you to the next Vipassana retreat! Lastly, there’s the Chocolate Hazelnut Spread. I feel like a bit of a dolt reviewing a flavor of chocolate nut butter after my last word on the subject. The truth is, now that I’ve tried Jem, I have to admit that maybe I like Jem just-a-very-tad-slight-bit-only-the-tip-so-maybe-it-doesn’t-really-count better than Rawmio. I’m not sure though, and maybe I’d need to try both blends over and over forever to make a really unbiased decision!
Ways of eating Jem include spooning it straight from the jar, or enjoying it with fruit, crackers, toast, raw bread—just not with other less scrumptious nut butters, because I’ve heard that nut envy can lead to early onset rancidity. Take my word for it! Available online and in health food stores.
Guest Product Review: KeVita! »
Did you know that we have a second “brain” in our guts? Apparently that whole gut feeling thing isn’t just a bunch of poppycock. Science tells us we actually have a delicate balance of bacteria in our guts that balance out our digestion, appetite, and even may affect our moods and feelings.
There’s long been a group of folks advocating for eating yogurt, a commonly known source of probiotics. But yogurt contains dairy, a.k.a. cultured oppressed cow secretion, and that’s no good! Luckily, the vegan probiotics market is totally blossoming. Raw cultured veggies, sauerkraut, plant-sourced yogurts and drinks can be found at many health food stores nationwide. One of my favorite products that’s been on the market for a little while now is KeVita, all-vegan fiz-tastic coconut water drinks splashed with a variety of other fruity flavors. Most kefir cultures contain dairy, a.k.a. cow oppression juice, but KeVita probiotic drinks are made with water-based kefir cultures, which the company assures are completely vegan (yay!). KeVita comp’d me a few bottles, and my favorites are the coconut (original) and the strawberry açai coconut. The original coconut has like 3 calories, and while I don’t think you should worry about that stuff, I guess that means there’s more room for raw vegan jicama fries and beet juice smoothies? The other flavors are nutrient-dense but not too filling either, and the strawberry açai pomegranate tastes exactly as it sounds: amazing! It’s like kissing a berry fairy with sparkly coconut wings. Really.
The pink-colored strawberry açai coconut KeVita would be a great option to serve at your next vegan wine and cheese party, for sober guests or those who wish to pre-game their Veuve Clicquot with some high-quality probes. Get KeVita at health food stores throughout the Bay Area and nationwide!
Guest Review: Chocolate Vegan Nut Butters Cage Match Winner: Rawmio! »
In the dark ages, vegans pining for Nutella were sod out of luck (Note: I learned this phrase from watching Lip Service, the UK lesbian semi-vegan friendly—they drink tea! sooo vegan!— show now airing on Hulu and some British channel you’d likely get if you’d finally give in to your landlord’s offer to trade sexting for free sattelite TV).
Fashioned from ground hazelnuts, chocolate, and other evil animal-derived ingredients (yuck!), Nutella figured out a great flavor combo, and for that I am grateful. But this is 2012, and while oppressing animals was always awful and wrong, we’re super fortunate now to get to choose from a bevy of delicious, all-vegan chocolate-nut butter spreads.
The vegan chocolate nut butter market is indeed saturated with options. I’ve tried many of them: Artisana’s Cacao Bliss (which is pretty good, although quite coconut-y and rich!), Justin’s Chocolate Almond, Peanut and Hazelnut, Simple Food Chocolate Soy Nut Butter, Peanut Butter and Co.’s Peanut Butter, Dark Chocolate Dreams, and a few other companies and brands that weren’t thrilling enough to mention here.
While I have enjoyed several of the aforementioned varieties, the best and most healthful (in my humble opinion!) has always been Rawtella. Relatively new on the scene, Alex Malinsky and the Raw Guru team developed a coconut sugar-sweetened hazelnut butter confection that used the finest quality, ethically sourced raw cacao and lower-glycemic coconut sugar. The result was addictive spreadable bliss. Rawtella has spawned some new varieties, like Rawtella Mint, Rawtella Silk, Rawtella Coffee and Rawtella Crunch. They’re all great, but I recently completely fell in love with the newest Rawtella called “Rawmio,” features almonds instead of hazelnuts. Alex sent me a complimentary jar of Rawmio and I have to say, it’s absolutely my favorite chocolate nut butter on the market. At cold temperatures it’s a solid, and at warmer textures it’s creamy and luscious (isn’t chemistry amazing?!). You can warm it up and spread it on breads, biscuits, crackers, fruit, carrots, your partner, whatever. I even put some in my peach coconut smoothie the other day and wow, what a combo! Rawmio also makes a raw vegan hazelnut and fig chocolate bar that I highly recommend! Get Rawmio online and at health food stores nationwide.
Product review: You down with Omega-3? Yeah you know me! »
Omega-3 fatty acids are super important, and many, many Americans aren’t getting enough of them. Omega-3 deficiencies can present as depression, and a host of other crappy maladies, including fatigue, dry skin, mood swings, heart problems, and poor memory.
Due to recent increased attention to this crucial brain-healthy and mood-balancing fat, fish oil is selling like crazy at the health food store, and some poor, misguided individuals even fortify laying hens’ feed so their feminized animal protein, a.k.a. eggs, will pop out all omega-3’ed.
The truth is, there is absolutely no reason exploit animals to get omega-3s when good plant-based sources of the supplement abound. Most people can eat chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, and sachia inchi oil and seeds to satisfy daily omega-3 needs.
For those of us jonesing for a boost of omega-3, a great option is NuTru Omega-Zen, a highly purified omega-3 liquid and capsulated DHA. This vegan supplement is sourced from high-quality algae. It makes sense that golden algae is rife with omega-3—where do you think all those fishies got it from? NuTru’s version of Omega-3 comes with EPA and satisfied daily minimum of Omega-3 and similar EFAs.
NuTru sent me a bottle of their new formula, which contains EPA and tastes like hell—try not to use your tongue as you swallow the capsule. Then again, I’m still grossed about by “fish” taste, which is really just algae taste! Try the non-tasting way and the tasting way and see how you feel. Maybe it will satisfy a fishy craving for some people, I dunno. The Omega-Zen3 + EPA bottle boasts that it will bring you inner peace and tranquility. I have no clue if that’s true, but it’s worth a shot, since omega-3s have been linked to brain health, and y’all know vegans need to take care of our amazing brains/ Get it at various vegan online stores and in local Bay Area health food stores.
Product review: Squarebar! For all your vegan bar needs! »
Since Clif Bar got in seriously hot water with ethically minded folks everywhere due to the company’s lack of transparency regarding its cacao-sourcing, I’ve been on the lookout for a bar with the same nutrition content, consistency and crunchiness of a Luna or Clif bar.
Squarebar, a relative newcomer to the vegan bar market, comes in three flavors, and comped me one of each: cocoa almond, cocoa crunch, and cocoa coconut. Each flavor is squishy inside and crunchy outside, and yes, I can honestly say I believe they will definitely satisfy any Clif or Luna cravings.
These are high in protein, which is pretty groovy if you plan to use these to fuel your hike from a meditation circle in Dolores Park to your girlfriend’s sixth-floor walkup in the ‘loin. The cocoa chocolate tastes the most like chocolate Clif bars, but without the gunky vitamin aftertaste. Perfect!
While not raw, these bars are gluten-free, organic, non-GMO, and sweetened with two of my fave low-glycemic sweeteners, coconut nectar and stevia. I’m partial to raw things, but if you like Luna or Clif bars, these will seriously satisfy without the guilt of supporting a company that won’t expose its sourcing practices. Squarebars are available at local health food store or order them online.