Product Review: Williams Sonoma and Navitas Naturals smoothie mix belongs in your porridge!  »

I rarely make it to big-chain malls these days (I mean, who has the time!) but I do remember visiting the Williams Sonoma at the mall as a tweenager—and that it didn’t have too many veg options. When I heard the exciting news that Vedge Restaurant co-owners Kate Jacoby and Rich Landau are doing a deal with them for all-vegan sauces and they’ve now teamed up with beloved raw vegan company Navitas Naturals to make superfood smoothie mixes, I got so excited! Looks like Williams Sonoma has totally decided to make vegan deliciousness happen on a large scale (they have more than 250 stores nationwide).

I haven’t tired the Vedge Sauces, but Navitas Naturals and Williams-Sonoma did send me a complimentary bag of one of their three new organic superfood smoothie blends—the Protein Smoothie Mixer! It’s high quality (As you’d expect from Navitas) and made with the nutrient-densest superfoods, including hemp powder, maca, and cacao powder. You can definitely taste the hemp, but the low-glycemic sweetener lucuma (grown in Peru) helps offset that a bit. This certified organic powder blend is super simple to use, making smoothie-making a no-brainer: Just toss it in a blender with ripe fruit and and any other nut milk or fresh ingredients you like. No guessing, no measuring. It’s superfood smoothie-making for the average bear! Get it at Williams Sonoma stores and online.

While smoothies are great, sometimes you’re living with five people in a two-bedroom apartment in the Mission and your roommates left for Burning Man and forgot to pay the electric bill, and the Vitamix just won’t run that day. Or maybe you just don’t feel like slurping your breakfast all the time—chewing is nice, too. Regardless of your motives for going blender-free, this superfood smoothie mix chia porridge will satisfy your palate and keep you going for hours!
Superfood smoothie mix chia porridge
Serves 2 to 3

1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup Navitas Naturals-Williams Sonoma Protein smoothie mix
1/4 cup raisons or goji berries (or both!)
1/4 cup blueberries (optional)
7 drops liquid Stevia
2 cups almond milk
1/4 cup water

Optional toppings
Buckwheat groats
Chocolate chips
Granola (pictured)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl or container. Let sit for 20 minutes or overnight in the fridge. Enjoy!


Product Review: Sproutein, Epic Protein, and Sprout mixes turn smoothies into nutrition explosions!  »

imageConfession: I think everything Alex Malinsky touches turns to gold. Known in the raw food world as the “raw guru,” Alex got into raw foods super young and has emerged and maintained his status as an A-list raw goods preparer and purveyor. Although Alex hobnobs with celebrities, he still takes time to let me know about his new products, and sends me free samples now and then. I’ve tried a bunch of his stuff over the years—Rawmio is sooo good—but I have to say that I think his new protein powders are the most delicious products of his I’ve ever tried!

I drink raw vegan smoothies almost every morning and I’m always on the lookout for newer and better protein powders and superfood add-ins. I’m not satisfied with enjoying the same smoothies every day, and I think variety is what keeps me coming back to the blender on the reg. Alex and his brother Mark’s Sprout Living's new line of Sproutein and Epic protein powders and sprout mixes are really, really high quality stuff. They come in a variety of really mild-tasting yet nutritionally dense flavor varieties, including Vanilla Lucuma, Chocolate Maca, Original, and Sproutein.

Anything Alex puts his energy into has to be organic, raw, vegan, bioavailable (read: has usable protein and nutrients), fiber, ethically sourced, low glycemic, sprouted, etc. but these really go above and beyond. The Sproutein contains high quality sprouts that are easier to digest than full-grown greens and high in minerals and chlorophyl. Ingredients include such dreamy ingredients as: Freshly Freeze Dried Sprout Powders (sunflower, amaranth, millet, kale, quinoa, mung bean, alfalfa, chia, and golden pea), Hempseed Protein Powder, Goji Berry Powder, Maca Root Powder, Yacon Root Powder).

All of the powders contain healthful ingredients, but If you’re particularly interested in bombing yourself with hearty protein, the Sproutein blends have nine grams of protein per serving, and the Epic Protein blends (my favorite is the Vanilla Lucuma, with Chocolate Maca in close second!) contain 19 grams (!!) per serving.

My verdict is that these powers are very low glycemic and blend so nicely with my typical berry-banana smoothie combos that they’re a no-brainer addition to my breakfast—and maybe yours? I also tried and loved the Sprout Living Broccoli and Kale Sprouts Powder Mix in the smoothie too, because superfood smoothies can have all kinds of rad ingredients!

I’ve included a recipe for an absolutely delicious smoothie I made this morning, topped with millet puffs and some Rawmio Raw Chocolate Truffle Cake shavings. I added in Vanilla Lucuma Epic Protein and Broccoli and Kale mix. Amazing!!! And my colon is so happy. Enjoy!

Strawberry Banana Epic Protein-Sprout Mix Smoothie
2 cups frozen strawberries
1 1/2 frozen bananas
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup water
2 heaping scoops Vanilla Lucuma Epic Protein
3/4 tsp. Broccoli and Kale sprout mix
5 small ice cubes
6-8 drops stevia (to taste)

Blend and enjoy with your favorite ingredient toppings.

Get Sproutein, Epic Protein, Sprout Mixes and all other Alex Malinsky-approved products online and in select health food stores nationwide.


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.

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.


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!

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.


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. 

You can buy Nutru’s O-Mega-Zen online from Vegansaurus-supporter Vegan Essentials or at Pangea or Food Fight


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.    

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.


CLOSED! Vegansaurus Giveaway: Opti3 Omega-3 supplement!  »

The lovely (and healthy!) folks across the pond at Opti3 were kind enough to ship over a sample of their fine product for an honest review, and the verdict is in: This is one heart-healthy, smart-making, mama-supporting, ass-kicking Omega-3 supplement! Opti3 is a 100 percent vegan, high-strength Omega-3 EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) supplement, which are considered essential fatty acids because our bodies don’t produce them on their own. These fatty acids ultimately affect the function of virtually every system and every cell in our body and are responsible for cell flexibility, nerve function, mood support, and even weight control. Basically, they’re SUPER-IMPORTANT.

Some less-evolved peeps may get their Omega-3s from eating the bodies of our fine-finned ocean friends, but Opti3 has eliminated the known risks (and environmental damage) of consuming fish—including the toxins—by creating a high-performance vegan formula.

More from the Opti3 website: All of the ingredients in Opti3 are 100 percent vegetarian- and vegan-approved. This includes the capsule itself, which is vegetable-based and gelatine-free. Opti3 is produced under pharmaceutical quality-controlled conditions.

You want to boost your overall health and support an awesome vegan company, right? OF COURSE YOU DO! You’re in luck - Vegansaurus and Opti3 are going to give away a FULL BOTTLE of Opti3’s newest, high-strength formula to three lucky readers! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post including another vegan source of Omega-3s. Yup, that’s it! You have ONE WEEK from post date to enter, and we’ll pick three winners at random. A bottle of Opti3 will be shipped directly to your door—it’s as simple as that. Get healthy and enter today! [images via Opti3]


Fish oil sucks, makes your burps smell gross  »

Hey guys, turns out those fish oil capsules everyone and their damn brother have been taking aren’t so beneficial after all.

In a new study by the American Journal of Epidemiology involving 3,461 male participants, results showed that men with the most DHA (the omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil) in their bloodstreams were two-and-a-half-times more likely to have a particularly aggressive form of prostate cancer.  Similar studies in Europe discovered the very same results. In case that doesn’t scare your cojones back up into your body, further studies from bigwigs like Harvard and the American Medical Association reveal that fish oil is linked to type-2 diabetes and may actually increase risk of cardiac arrhythmias in some patients.

I’m sure the capsule-fanatics are thinking to themselves, “But what about my heart and brain function? Surely all those marketing claims about reducing the risk of heart failure and aiding Alzheimer’s patients must be true?!”

Sorry, y’all, researchers have found that elderly adults showed absolutely NO benefit at all in tests for reaction time, spatial memory, and processing speed measurements.  Reports showed that the supplements did not slow mental decline in these patients, and nor did they benefit babies’ cognitive development in vitro when taken by pregnant mothers. What’s more, the British Medical Journal reported way back in 2006 (and again in 2009) that omega-3 fatty acids have ZERO heart-health benefit. The New England Journal of Medicine had the same results in 2010.

Looks like we have even more reasons to leave our fine-finned friends at home in the water.


Guest post: Why are there so many ex-raw vegans?  »

Friends, strangers, vegans at large, please welcome back our official raw food writer—and our favorite eater of raw food in general—Sarah E. Brown!

For more than six months, I’ve served as the Vegansaurus raw vegan correspondent, and I’ve been delighted to report about Bay Area raw food awesomeness in a light-hearted fashion.

But this is a serious post. A very, very serious one. It’s about the very real, growing epidemic of ex-raw vegans. First, I should say that this is not a post aimed at typical vegans who sometimes cook food and sometimes don’t. Please understand, I’m not out to lord raw veganism over anyone trying to live compassionately (and deliciously) as a plain old awesome vegan. This post is directed towards ex-raw vegans, many of whom (though certainly not all)  came into the vegan movement for health reasons, then left it for health reasons that are downright avoidable.

Many find they feel better for a while when they incorporate more raw, plant-source-only food in their diets, and eliminating the dense animal proteins, processed sugars and refined carbohydrates that are endemic to the Standard American Diet (SAD).

Yet it is commonly observed that many raw food vegans eventually start feeling “less-than-optimal,” and begin reintegrating animal products into their diets. So why do many mostly live, plant-source-only eaters switch to animal products? It could be that the typical, raw-cacao-filled, high-glycemic, raw vegan diet is the culprit of this lifestyle conversion. How could plants, especially plants in their raw state, be high-glycemic? Of course fruit sugar is better than processed sugar, but it still affects our bodies. In addition, many of our essential minerals, amino acids and essential fatty acids (including the all-important mood and health-boosting Omega-3s) come from lower-glycemic, raw vegan foods. What does this mean? It means the “fun,” dried fruit-filled, agave-filled, high-sugary-fruit-filled raw diets, which initially draw people into the lifestyle and can help them initially get healthier—because they are still taking in less harmful stuff than on the SAD diet—cause them to burn out. Cacao can also fatigue the adrenals when it is not eaten in moderation.

The problem with formerly raw vegans who eat this way is that they often believe their imbalanced diets to be due to the fact that there are no animal products, when many health experts, including Dr. Gabriel Cousens, M.D., have shown that this is not the case. Instead of eschewing their ethical diets in favor of animal products, raw vegans can feel better by changing the nature of their raw vegan diets. Perhaps that might mean incorporating some more grounding cooked vegan dishes like quinoa or lightly cooked soups and vegetables. It might also mean cutting down on high-glycemic, raw vegan foods and desserts in favor of a more balanced diet.

The secret to sticking with a vegan diet long-term is to focus on longevity. If being a vegan for the long haul means you’ll need to kick ass and take names at every vegan bake sale, then honey substitute, DO IT! But if you’re a raw vegan in it for health, that means eating more mineral and essential nutrient-dense, lower-glycemic, raw vegan foods and supplements. Dr. Cousens has recently published an article that explains how both meat eaters and vegans—raw and predominantly non-raw—need to supplement their diets with essential nutrients such as B-12 and essential fatty acids like DHAs. So we can all keep living this way, it’s good to pop a pill every once in a while and eat some greens. OK? That’s all I’m saying. Here’s to ex-raw vegans realizing you can be healthy and avoid killing and exploiting things, because that means less overall suffering.

This is the latest in Sarah E. Brown’s raw vegan series for Vegansaurus. Thanks, Sarah!

[top photo by joana hard; bottom photo by Urban Mixer]


Product review: Ultimate Superfoods chlorella spirulina tablets!  »

Have you ever wanted to drop E but not really because you are on a more orthodox spiritual path and, like, this isn’t sophomore year of Vassar anymore? WELL, guess what? This is your jam. Spirulina-chlorella tablets are chewy, cheese-like, protein-filled algae pills that you crush up with your teeth—you know, like most pills. Similar to the drug that my neurologist papa says puts Swiss-cheese holes in your BRAIN, these tabbies make you feel like you are swimming in a pool of happy feelings without causing you to wake up in your roommate’s bunk bed wearing only her little sister’s boxers.

This is the latest post by Vegansaurus raw correspondent Sarah E. Brown. It originally appeared here. Thanks, Sarah!

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