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.
Guest cookbook review: Veggies for Carnivores by Lora Krulak »
Last I checked, Vegansaurus is a vegan lifestyle blog. It’s not called Pescetariansaurus or Vegetariansaurus or Omnivore Rex. I feel the need to point this out because this cookbook, Veggies for Carnivores, mentions many non-vegan things. Most notably is the use of honey in a handful of the recipes. None of the recipes call for meat, though some have little blurbs called “A Carnivore’s Choice” that list different types of meat that would “go” with that particular entry. So after reading the cookbook for the first time I was left a little confused. Why would someone take the time to market to a vegan blog?
Per the back cover, Veggies for Carnivores is supposed to introduce new flavors that “will make veggies irresistible—even to the most die-hard carnivore.” Of the seven chapters, only one is on entrees. The others, not including the introduction, are dressings, dips, soups, salads, and smoothies. If we’re moving vegetables to the center of the plate, shouldn’t we have more than one chapter on veggie-based entrees? Sides and starters are thoroughly covered, but if the basis of the book is to get “die-hard” carnivores to move their meat to the side, I would have assumed there would have been more of an emphasis on plant-central plates.
The book does a great job of promoting healthy eating; it’s ideal for all of our stubborn relations who could use an overhaul in their diets. Krulak does an excellent job of spelling out the benefits of vegetables in her recipes and overall as a staple in our diets. She uses her history of world travel with cute anecdotes and infuses her knowledge of many cultures into most of her recipes. I have never thought to use maple syrup in lieu of olive oil in cooking until I read this book. I tried it while sauteing onions, peppers, and Tofurkey sausage, and I was really impressed.
Beautiful avocado dressing on my frou-frou salad.
The first recipe to really jump out at me was one for Sweet Avocado Dressing. It was super small, ingredients wise, and extremely easy to make. I’ve never made my own dressing before, but have seen my partner make them on numerous occasions. It called for avocado, lime, soy sauce, maple syrup, and olive oil. I cut the amount of olive in half; I use a ton of dressing on my salads so I didn’t want to overload myself on EVOO. The dressing came out pretty awesome, even if my blender doesn’t allow me to blend slowly while drizzling in the olive oil, as the recipe states, without making my kitchen look like a crime scene.
Veggie for Carnivores is a good, short cookbook. It may not be aimed at a vegan household, unless you don’t mind having to make some easy substitutions. (You may need some stickers or white-out to cover up the salmon or tuna suggestions.) And as I stated previously, if you have a relative who is notoriously omnivorous and wouldn’t in a million years give up his meat (like my own dad), and who could stand to eat more vegetables, then yes, this cookbook would be perfect for him. But as a vegan looking for new and exciting dishes? Not so much. Maybe the fine folks at Notreallyveganorvegetariansaurus.com would like to give it a try.
Andrew E. Irons is a blogger from Long Beach, Calif. He co-created and contributes to Rhode Island-based hip-hop website The Echo Chamber Blog under the pseudonym Verbal Spacey. You can track his daily diatribes by following him on Twitter.
Guest Post: Meatless Monday Murderers? Chico State students not stoked for Meatless Monday! »
A few weeks back, someone in the USDA sent out a newsletter that seemed to favor the latest push to wean Americans off of their meat addiction, Meatless Mondays. But as soon as the proverbial ink dried on this newsletter, the clowns in the meat industry cried louder than the millions of livestock they brutally slaughter everyday, claiming this new fangled Meatless Monday was a detriment to the farmers of our fine country. The idea behind USDA’s Meatless Monday was part of a “green” initiative, not so much a diet. Their endorsement of Meatless Mondays was meant as a push to lower the ecological footprint. Well…how dare they.
The outcry from the middle states, the ones with right-angle-borders and no indoor plumbing, makes some sense. But here, in my supposedly progressive state of California, we’re having a similar issue. California State University, Chico, may be the latest school to participate in Meatless Monday. However, the school’s agricultural department, both students and instructors it seems, are taking to the school’s Facebook page to voice their displeasure over the decision to being part of a Meatless Monday campaign.
Seems not-so-shocking, right? An agricultural department not wanting to be part of an event that caters to consumption of…agriculture. But it gets worse. Chico is like many Cal State schools that has multiple areas where students can find food. This Meatless Monday event is only going to take place in ONE dining hall, Sutter Hall, where only ONE of the five food stations would be serving meat-free dishes on ONE of five days of the school week. Whole lotta ones.
This Tuesday, October 9th, there will be a Meatless Monday meeting held on Chico’s campus at 5:30 PM in BMU 209. The Humane Society of the United States will be on hand talking about the Farm-Animal Rights Movement as well as the Meatless Monday campaign. If you or anyone you know lives or works near Chico, I encourage you to voice your support. Both in terms of a greener planet and healthier diets, we have to crawl before we can cartwheel off the pommel horse. Bullies like the Ag Department at Chico and the meat industry on the national level will do anything to stop us from crawling. And are proud to do so. Just take a look at these comments:
And now I’m off to grab a hamburger.
Courtesy of Jennifer Ryder Fox, Dean of CSUC School of Agricultural. This is how she signed off on an e-mail to all the agricultural students where she stated she was appalled by the school’s decision to include Meatless Mondays. She also went on to say:
…which was clearly influenced by the Humane Society of the United States, who uses its cover of a caring, moderate animal welfare organization to advance its true mission of ending animal agriculture.
Right. Now let’s mirror that to the comments made on Twitter by Iowa Senator Charles Grassley after USDA pulled their newsletter:
I will eat more meat on Monday to compensate for stupid USDA recommendation abt (sic) a meatless Monday.
Perhaps the Dean and the Senator should hook up on LinkedIn.
Visit Chico for Animal Rights FB page to learn more about AR efforts on campus.
Andrew E. Irons is a blogger from Long Beach, Calif. He co-created and contributes to Rhode Island-based hip-hop website The Echo Chamber Blog under the pseudonym Verbal Spacey. You can track his daily diatribes by following him on Twitter.
Sunbiotics Probiotics Are Chewable Candy For Your Colon »
One of my life missions is to bring supplementation to the vegan masses through any means necessary (see: the B-12 patch and Omega-Zen). Something I’ve been wondering about lately is how to make vegan supplements taste like candy, because I feel strongly that taste matters a great deal when it comes to ensuring our population is adequately supplemented. If it tastes like acidopholous, you’re not going to take it very often, am I right?
If you’re jonesing for a probiotic that satisfies the palate as well as the body, you have GOT to try the new Sunbiotics Probiotics. They’re chewable! How cool is that? You can feel like a kid again, crunching one of these nickel-sized tablets and enjoying the benefits of improved intestinal bacterial health. I used to work for a raw vegan retreat center where the suppies staff got into big debates about what kind of sweetener should be used to feed and grow the probes. Some supplement companies use inulin derived from jerusalem artichoke, which is rad, but it can cause irritation and sensitivity in some individuals. I once took a bunch of inulin-containing probiotics right after I broke a seven-day green juice fast and my body was super sensitive and insta-broke out in icky blotchy hives. I took an Allegra prescription allergy pill I keep on hand in case I’m attacked by a patch of poison ivy or mangoes (did you know they’re in the same family? Plants are crazy!) and was fine but vowed never to take probes made with inulin again!
Lucky for me, Sunbiotics Probiotics mean I won’t have to! My friend Alex Malinsky, the mastermind behind Rawtella, sent me a free batch to try. These tablets are made with organic yacon root prebiotics and cut with lower-glycemic coconut sugar vanilla flavor. It feels like eating tiny round marshmallows made for astronauts! The one issue I have with them is that they taste so good, if you find yourself crying over a bottle of probiotics you might be tempted to take them all at once. Don’t do that! Find yourself a 12-step program and seek answers outside the supplement bottle!
Sunbiotics probiotics are raw, gluten-free, vegan, and organic—absolutely free from yucky fillers or preservatives, unlike some other supplements on the market. I highly recommend these to anyone who’s afraid to take supplements or who just wants a really solid vegan probiotic made with high-quality organic ingredients. Get them online or demand them from your local health food store!
Guest Post: Fabe’s Vegan Cookies: Face-Sized Deliciousness! »
I’ve been vegan for the better part of a decade now, and one of the best things about being vegan in the days before plant-based cheeses took over the world (remember? Those were sad, sad times) was monster-sized Alternative Baking Company cookies. Available almost exclusively at health food stores, these cookies reinforced that going vegan didn’t have to mean forgoing baked goods the size of your face.
These days, in the American-sized vegan cookie arena, there are tons of amazing contenders. ABC, who first stole our large, ethical cookie-loving hearts, recently released a line of gluten-free cookies that taste pretty good, but now lots of other big vegan (and xgfx) cookie options include (but are not limited to!): Liz Lovely, The Inspired Cookie, Nana’s, Fabe’s, Sun Flower Baking Company, and, of course, Sarah Brown cookies made by Eat Me!
Fabe’s recently sent me some samples of their various vegan cookie varieties. The chocolate chip (containing gluten) and the macaroon (gluten-free) were pretty solid, but the gluten-free dark chocolate was so delicious! Sweetened with only non-GMO beet juice syrup and palm sweetener, these tasted fudgy yet were still cake-like, far superior to textures I’ve experienced in other gluten-free vegan “cookies,” which were more like chocolate-coated oily Passover buiscuits. Fabe’s aren’t quite as large as some of the other large vegan cookies on the market, but they’ve achieved one of the finest gluten-free vegan textures and mouthfeels I’ve experienced so far in my plant-based-cookie-tasting journey! Definitely worth a try if naturally sweetened gluten-free cookies are your thing.
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.