One of the hardest parts of being a new vegan (or even an old seasoned vegan) is trying to keep up with all the new products out there. I must have spent over $50 looking for the "right" vegan cheese my first year being a vegan and I have over 50 vegan/vegetarian cookbooks in my arsenal but not all the recipes are the greatest. I’m the first born so I’m used to being a Guinea Pig and now I’m your Vegan Guinea Pig. So here are my recommendations and critiques. Let me know what you think!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Tofurky Strikes Again! – Amazing Breakfast Links

Finally, finally, finally a breakfast link that I actually just want to eat for breakfast. I really liked Lightlife’s breakfast sausage style links but they tasted better as a pizza topping than as a side on my breakfast plate. Tofurky breakfast links are clearly made to be a standout accompaniment to your breakfast, not an afterthought. What I like the most about these breakfast links is that they don't try to imitate the taste of meat. They have their own distinct wonderful flavor that makes my mouth water just to think about it. Although the preferred cooking method is to lightly pan fry them I cut down a bit of the fat by cutting each link into 4 diagonal slices and warming the links in a toaster oven somewhere between 400-450 degrees. They take about 1-2 minutes to brown and get the perfect texture. These little links are also a great source of protein at 11 grams a link. Add this to a breakfast of a blueberry muffin and a glass of orange juice and you have a perfect way to start your morning.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cookbook Review: Vegan Fusion World Cuisine

Lotus flowers, chimpanzees and Mt. Fuji are not usually images that come to mind when you think of vegan cooking. However, Mark Reinfeld and Bo Rinaldi's book Vegan Fusion World Cuisine turn every idea you have about a vegan cookbook on its head.

Before even reading one page of this book I decided to just thumb through it and see what it had to offer. I was captivated by the artistry of the book. It is literally a trip around the world not only of the culinary variety but through amazing pictures from around the world that blend seamlessly with photos of fresh and beautifully prepared food.

Once you get over the beauty of the book and delve into the "meat" of it you quickly realize that Vegan Fusion is a movement towards greater consciousness on all levels. From the inspiring and insightful forward by Dr. Jane Goodall, the UN Messenger of Peace, to the authors incredibly compelling explanations of why Veganism is so important. They explore veganism from the angle of health, the environment, politics, and ethics giving a well rounded argument of why one should go vegan and stay vegan.

Now I'm sure you're thinking "But what about the food?!" To put it plainly the food is delicious! Inventive yet uncomplicated recipes blending comfort foods with innovative raw foods and flavorful dishes that let the natural elements of whole foods shine.

Every cookbook should have 5 recipes you can't live without and after testing the majority of the book here are my top 5 from Vegan Fusion World Cuisine:

That's Amore Tofu Cacciatore (I used the roasted tofu variation but goes great with seitan too)

Shoyu Marinade

Shaka's Vegan Cheezcake

Green God Smoothie

J.J.'s Vegan Mayonnaise

In addition to my top 5 recipes my favorite section of the book is the condiments section which is perfect for those of you who live far away from stores that carry vegan mayo, sour cream or cheese (they have a great recipe for cashew cheeze).

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Almond-Licious Ice Supreme Raw Ice Cream

The world of vegan ice cream has come a long way in the past 5 years or so. There’s an ice cream for every taste, allergy/sensitivity, or nutrition concern. Rice -based ice cream, soy-based ice cream and frozen yogurt and even coconut-based ice cream. But there is a new kid on the block and its Raw Ice cream also know as Almond-Licious Ice Supreme.

What sets Ice Supreme apart from all the other vegan ice creams out there? It’s raw, soy free, rice free, gluten free, free of refined sugars, has a low glycemic index, is trans-fat free and has zero preservatives. The ingredients list showcases its pure and simple ingredients: water, almonds, cashews, raw agave nectar, raw vanilla bean and Himalayan salt. With just this handful of simple ingredients the makers of Ice Supreme were able to make a rich, smooth, creamy and decadent ice cream in strawberry, chocolate, vanilla and pecan (which taste just like butter pecan). Out of their four staple flavors the strawberry and pecan are my absolute favorites! I haven’t had anything that even taste close to butter pecan ice cream in over 4 years and to my knowledge Ice Supreme is the only vegan ice cream brand to make this flavor. In addition to their staple flavors Ice Supreme also has seasonal rotating flavors that are available on their website.

Currently Ice Supreme is available at Whole Foods, various co-ops and health food stores throughout the Atlanta Area as well as Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee. But no worries, if you don’t live in any of these areas you can have Ice Supreme delivered right to your door! Check their website for more details.

While Ice Supreme is one of the best ice creams I have ever had it does have one Achilles heel and that is the price. In retail stores it averages about $7.50 a pint and for online orders it is nearly $10 a pint. However, because of the low glycemic index and use of ingredients like almonds and cashews, having only about ¼ cup of Ice Supreme is more than enough to satisfy any sweet tooth without leaving you feeling like you need to eat the entire pint in one sitting (which is also great for your waistline). Despite the price I highly recommend trying this amazing product. No freezer should be without at least 1 pint of Ice Supreme.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (and the best croissant sandwich ever)

Growing up I used to love walking to the local Safeway and getting a turkey croissant sandwich. When I went vegetarian I change to a veggie croissant sandwich but when I went vegan I stopped heading to Safeway and just accepted the fact that croissants and vegans just don’t mix. But then one day I checked the back of the label on Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, only to discover that they are in fact vegan!

I immediately bought two packages and went home to start making the sandwiches of my childhood. Here are my recommendations for the best croissant sandwich ever:

Stoneground Mustard
Brussel/Alfalfa/Broccoli Sprouts
Thinly sliced tomatoes
Banana Peppers
Bell Peppers
Red Onion

But these crescent rolls are great for more than just sandwiches, you can serve them as dinner rolls, pigs in a blanket or as I like to call them pups in a blanket with vegan hot dogs. Or use them to make a breakfast sandwich: cut them in half and add tofu scramble or mini crustless quiche with a little extra nutritional yeast sprinkled on top or slice of vegan cheese.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Method's Wood for Good Bamboo Dusting Clothes (Almond Scent)

Veganism is more than just a diet it is a lifestyle, from the food you eat to the products you buy. You wouldn't want to eat a veggie burger only to find out they cooked it in beef fat right? The same principle applies with every purchase you make including home care products. You want to make sure that the products you buy are 100% cruelty free. The same "label scan" you do for food can easily be done for beauty and home care products as well. A lot of manufacturers are also adding helpful tags on their labels such as "100% vegetarian" "cruelty free" and the ever popular "not tested on animals". But remember even when something is 100% vegetarian it may still have honey in it so always give it a second glance.

Method is one of those brands that is 100% cruelty free. All their products are vegan, environmentally friendly and free from a majority of those nasty harmful chemicals that are in most home care products. I love that at any Target anywhere in the U.S. I can get Method cleaning products for a great low price. My latest obsession is Method’s Wood for Good bamboo dusting clothes. These little bamboo cloth wipes are also compostable on top of being non-toxic and animal friendly – or “panda friendly” as the package describes.

These almond scented wipes are so amazing that they set me off on a 4 room dusting spree where I dusted everything that was wood, looked like wood or wished it was wood. I just couldn’t get over the sweet smell of almond that filled every room that I dusted and the oil free shine that it left on every piece of furniture it touched. These wipes even worked well on my electronics (you don’t expect me to actually try to find a separate cleaner for my electronics now do you?). As an added bonus my hands now smell like almond as well so I as I type this I’m constantly smelling them. They were a little under $4 and well worth every penny.
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