vegansaurus!

09/07/2012

Get crazy with smoothies for Nativas Natural’s “Smoothment!” Plus: smoothie recipes!   »

On Saturday (that’s tomorrow!), Nativas Naturals is launching the Back-to-Basics Smoothment—a smoothie movement! From what I gather on social media, a bunch of you hippies are into this kind of “healthy milkshake” thing. You’re in luck—Nativas has got your back. Just head on over to the website, and sign on up! It’s all free of charge, and you’ll gain access to instructional videos, receive free recipes and even get discounts on featured raw, organic products. Just the incentive you needed to plug in that blender, isn’t it?

When it comes to smoothies, I like to think of my friend Caroline as the professional between the two of us. I prefer my blended drinks at a tiki bar, but Caroline actually drinks smoothies for breakfast. I thought that’s what coffee was for? Silly me, I have so much to learn! For all of our sakes (mine especially), I recruited Caroline as Vegansaurus’ own Miss Smoothment! Armed with products and a blessing sent to us from Navitas, Caroline agreed to share a couple of her own recipes with us, to kick off the occasion. Take it away, girlfriend!

Anyone who follows me on Instagram is well aware that I’ve been obsessed with smoothies lately (I mean, why eat your food, when you can drink it?), so I wasn’t totally surprised when Jenny asked me to help review some of the Navitas superfood products.


You may have seen the colorful Navitas packaging in your local health food stores—I’ve definitely used some of them before (namely the chia seeds and cacao powder—great for raw desserts). Needless to say, I was STOKED when I had a whole box of their goodies to play with.

I usually start my day with a protein smoothie of some sort (using a vegan protein mix and my kitchen staple, the immersion blender), so I did what any excessive American girl would do — I mixed all the powders together for the mother of all breakfast smoothies. I wanted to see how this stood up to my “rigorous” morning workout (hello, I’ve got to be at my best when working out beside the retirees in the San Francisco Presidio Y). I also wanted to see how it compared to the more “performance”-oriented mixtures that I’ve been using. The verdict? I felt totally energized (as much as I can at 8 a.m.), and wasn’t hungry afterward. Not to mention, it was super delicious! (Bonus that all their products are organic—I’m not a fan of drinking chemicals and pesticides in my smoothies—raw, and gluten-free.)

Here’s what my typical morning smoothie looks like:
Serves 1 (6-foot girl)
2 Tbsp raw Hemp Protein powder

1 Tbsp sprouted Flax Seed powder
1 Tbsp Freeze-Dried Acai powder
1 tsp raw Maca powder
1 Tbsp raw Cacao powder
12 oz almond milk (or a mixture of half-almond, half-rice)
1 banana
Handful of blueberries
Handful of ice


Lately I’ve been having a smoothie for lunch—again, why go through the hassle of chewing your food? Below is the recipe for one of my favorite combinations. I added a few of the Navitas superfoods to the mix, and felt extra pumped. (My boss has a Vitamix, which I try to put to use as much as possible.)

Lunchtime smoothie, serves 2:
3 Tbsp raw Hemp Protein Powder
2 tsp raw Maca Powder
12 oz almond milk
Handful of baby spinach (kale is good, too)
1/2 of an avocado
Handful of raspberries
Handful of strawberries
3 Tbsp organic peanut butter
Handful of ice


I shared this with a friend of my boss and she said it was the best thing she had ever tasted. Not bad for a testimonial, eh? I totally agree—why else would I drink this almost every day?

Since I’m already armed with so many of Nativas amazing products, I have no choice but to participate in their Smoothment. I also can’t stand not joining things (only child syndrome). Perhaps you’ll give it a whirl, too (Get it? Bad smoothie puns!).”

As usual, please share your personal recipes with us!  Don’t forget to follow my girl Caroline on Twitter and Instagram (@wakeupcaroline)—I can’t wait to see all the smoothie talk that will ensue, while wondering if rum is also a suitable ingredient in your icy beverages.

03/16/2012

Vitamix: The Über Kitchen Tool Every Vegan Should Own!  »


I have wanted a super-fancy blender for a while now, and read a bunch of comparisons of Blentec and Vitamix models. But you know, while these blenders are very high quality, come with extended warranties, and can perform miracles in the kitchen, they are also quite expensive. So, I made inferior smoothies with my existing blender and dreamed of better, more smoothly mixed times.

And then: a deal to purchase a Vitamix Aspire blender on a payment plan, no interest. What’s a newly knocked-up lady to do? I need awesome smoothies for protein, guys! So a few days later, a Vitamix arrived at our house.

The Vitamix really is a handy machine, one that replaces your blender and food processor in pretty quick order. You can blend. You can chop. You can even heat up stuff to make soup! If you get the dry-goods attachment, you can mill your own flours. You can make homemade milks like almond and cashew. You can make smoothies so velvety and perfectly blended you’ll swear they were from your favorite shop. And you can make delicious salsas, chunky or otherwise. You can even make baby food!

The Vitamix comes with a recipe book, but it’s pretty hit or misss. It’s a good way to get ideas but I wouldn’t stop there. There are no shortage of recipes online—check out the wide variety at Healthy Blender Recipes to start off. You can filter them by several options, including vegan, raw, and gluten-free. Oh She Glows also has a ton of great smoothie recipes, all vegan and many gluten-free. For books, I’d check out Green Smoothie Revolution and Liquid Raw, though there is no shortage of publications with great ideas for juices, smoothies, desserts, sauces, and soups.

As you can tell, I really like my Vitamix. If it weren’t so pointy, I’d sleep with it at night. If you’ve been thinking about getting one, add this testimonial to your considerations! I’ve always been a shopping enabler.

Terri Coles lives in Toronto, where she enjoys barbecuing, feeding feral cats, going to local music shows and getting really mad about hockey games. She blogs about her adventures in plant-based eating at The Vegina Monologues. We edit out all her extra vowels.

12/08/2011

Recipes: The most amazing, soy-free, gluten-free alfredo sauce!  »

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m patting myself on the back for this recipe. Now, normally I like to stay humble, but sometimes I have to throw that notion aside and exclaim that I am a GENIUS! Too much? Probably, but I assure you, this alfredo sauce is a crowd-pleaser. Plus, you can feed it to your allergy-ridden self or friends.

Ingredients
Heaping 2/3 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1 1/4 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
About 2 Tbsp. olive oil, for sauteing
1 small yellow or white onion, finely chopped
4 to 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 Tbsp. salt
3 scant Tbsp. nutritional yeast (large flakes)
1 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. coconut aminos, Braggs, or soy sauce (using soy sauce will no longer make it soy- or gluten-free)

Instructions:
Boil your cashews until they are soft. I boil mine on medium heat, because I like the idea that it’s gentler on the cashews. It takes about 20 minutes. This will give you about 1 cup “soaked” cashews. Make sure you rinse the cashews before using them.

To make the cashew cream, I blend my cashews and 1 1/4 cup water to make 2 cups of cream. I use a Vita-Mix to make my cashew cream, but I understand not everyone owns one, as they are very expensive —but so worth it! Because cashews are a softer nut, you can use a food processor or run-of-the-mill blender. Your sauce may come out a little chunky, but some people like texture, right? A small immersion blender would probably work as well.

While your cashews are boiling, you can start sauteing the other ingredients. On medium heat, saute your chopped onion in olive oil. I like to take mine until caramelized, but you can go until they are transparent (depending on how much time you have). Next, add your chopped garlic and cook a couple of minutes, until fragrant. It’s important you do not let the garlic brown, as it becomes bitter. Add all your spices (salt, pepper, nutmeg, soy sauce, and nutritional yeast) and cook on medium-low heat for about three minutes. I am constantly turning the mixture with a spatula, as I don’t want it to burn, or the garlic to brown.

image
Onions, garlic, spices, nooch, lemon juice, and coconut aminos.

Now add the lemon juice. Cook until it’s hot, about a minute or two. If you haven’t made the cashew cream, do that. Then add your sauteed mixture to blender or food processor and blend until smooth! Taste. I like the seasoning mix I came up with, but we all have different palates. Do you like a cheesier flavor? More nooch! Not salty enough? Have at it! Adjust to your liking.


Inspired by Eat More Kale man, I like to add sautéed kale and mushrooms to mine! I find those two vegetables go very well with this creamy, cheesy white sauce! What do you do with yours?

12/06/2011

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!!!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Take a deep breath and COMMIT. It will be worth it!
  4. Buy Irish Moss.
  5. Buy a kitchen scale.
  6. Buy raw coconut oil.
  7. Buy soy lecithin.
  8. Buy raw cacao butter, powder, and maybe nibs.
  9. Buy raw vanilla beans.
  10. Buy a VitaMix. Or don’t but you’ll wish you had one. Trust me.
  11. 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. 
  12. Plan ahead. You’ll probably need to soak things for various amounts of time, from one to 24 hours. Maybe make a Gantt chart?
  13. Whip! Blend! Chill! 
  14. 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!

Pro tips:

  • 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.

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