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, January 29, 2010

Vegan Bake Sale For Haiti!

Come out and indulge in some of the finest vegan sweet treats Atlanta has to offer while helping support those devastated in Haiti! All proceeds will be going to Doctors Without Borders/MSF USA.

Criminal Records is located at 1154 Euclid Ave NE in Atlanta's Little 5 Points Neighborhood (12-4pm). I'll be there with vegan treats from my cookbook that is currently in production Quick and Easy Vegan Celebrations as well as some other crowd favorites. I hope to see you there!

Monday, January 25, 2010

The TV Dinner is back! New Leaf Simply Delicious Tuscan Pesto Pasta

In the Land O’Vegan there aren’t an abundance of options in the frozen food section aside from meat analogues and frozen veggies. It’s not like I’ve been complaining my Amy’s Bean Burritos and Enchiladas have helped me out in many a culinary pinch. But you don’t know what you’re missing until something comes along that blows your socks off like New Leaf Simply Delicious Tuscan Pesto Pasta. It’s low in fat, super low in sodium (only 250mg), low in calories (340 calories for an entire meal!) and high in protein (15 grams). Not to mention super creamy, tasty and filling. Surprisingly enough, the only drawback to this dish is that I wish it did have a little more salt! I know, I know. It’s the opposite of what we’ve been saying we want in a good, healthy, vegan dinner but the flavor was lacking a bit of salt and pepper. But that was easily remedied and will definitely not deter me from buying this dish again.

UPDATE: you can find New Leaf Simply Delicious brand products at most Whole Foods. Also check the New Leaf website for other store locations

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Gardein's Super Dreamy Chicken Scallopini (Plus Bonus Chik'n Cacciatore Recipe)

Last year the good folk’s over at Gardein sent me out a bevy of their products to sample, some have been hits like the Tuscan Breast and some have been misses like their Buffalo Wings (which I purchased myself). But the biggest hit of the bunch has been Gardein’s Chicken Scaloppini. I let these little cutlet’s sit in my freezer for over a month having no clue what to do with them. Usually when I try a meat analogue it’s already seasoned up, drenched in whatever sauce it needs to be and ready to go. But this was just a blank slate. I haven’t cooked or eaten chicken in 8 years so I didn’t even know where to begin flavor wise.

Then one rainy day I found myself hankering for some tofu cacciatore but due to my Puttanesca Scramble addiction I was completely out. Then I remembered these little cutlet’s hanging out gathering that funny freezer fuzz and decided to break them out. I defrosted one cutlet in the microwave for 30 seconds, sliced it thin, tossed it in a little flour, pan fried it and added it to my homemade cacciatore sauce. One bite and I melted. It was so delicious. I made “Chicken” Cacciatore everyday for the next week and if you follow me on twitter you know that it was my last dish of 2009 and the first dish I had in 2010 (at 4am!)

Of course I wouldn’t leave you guys hanging without the recipe for my cacciatore sauce so here it goes:

Makes 2 Servings

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ cup diced white onion
2 clove garlic, mined
1 small carrot, diced
One 14 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon capers
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon parsley flakes
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Sauté Onion, garlic and carrot in olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until onions become translucent. Add remaining ingredients, stir to combine. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

If using Gardein Chicken Scaloppini defrost desired number of cutlets for 30 seconds in the microwave, dust with flour and pan fry in a separate skillet. Once cooked slice then and serve over cacciatore with brown rice.

Also check out my Chik’n Quesadilla recipe using Gardein Chicken Scaloppini here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Quick & Easy Chik'n Quesadilla w/We Can't Say It's Cheese

A new vegan cheese has entered the market. But it’s not up to same old tricks. Wayfare Foods has created a new line of products called “We Can’t Say It’s Cheese” that is incredible. The entire product line is soy free, wheat free and of course dairy free but what makes it so unique is its ingredient list. The main ingredient in all four of “We Can’t Say It’s Cheese” flavors is Whole Grain Oatmeal! And it contains healthy oils like coconut, olive and safflower oil. Each serving is only 50 calories, has 4 grams of fat and no saturated fat. I am head over heels in love with this stuff. The kind folks at Wayfare were nice enough to send me over samples of all their flaors so as I work through Wayfare foods whole line of products I’ll post the recipes I come up with for each but here’s the first.

As you probably know by now when it comes to food I like it to be quick, easy, delicious and of course nutritious. For lunch today I had a Chik’n Quesadilla made with Gardein Chicken Scaloppini and We Can’t Say It’s Cheese Mexi Cheddar-Style Dip. There’s no concrete recipe here. Just follow these instructions and you’ll have lunch in less than 5 minutes:

What you’ll Need (to make 1):
1 breast Gardein Chicken Scaloppini (thaw in the microwave for 45 seconds and cut into thin strips)
Bell pepper, any color, sliced thin
Red onion, sliced thin
1 large flour tortilla
We Can’t Say It’s Cheese Mexi Cheddar-Style Dip
Canola Oil

In a large pan or griddle, sauté chicken scaloppini with bell pepper and onion for about 3 minutes. While that is cooking spread the Mexi Cheddar-Style Dip over the entirety of the flour tortilla. Add cooked ingredients to one side of the prepared tortilla. Fold over and cook on the griddle (or in the pan) until lightly browned on both sides. Cut in half and serve!

We can't say it's cheese is available at select store locations and online at

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Restaurant Review: Ria's Blue Bird (Atlanta, GA)

I am not a morning person. If the sun isn’t up then my body can’t even begin to process anything beyond orange juice and tea. Last semester I somehow ended up with a 7:30am research class which required me to be up before the sun, my goats, my bunny and my dogs – in my opinion if the companion animals aren’t up yet then there is no earthly reason I need to be up either. It’s just nature right?

Every Monday and Wednesday I would run out the house, brushing my teeth on the way out the door, shoes and socks in hand with no more than a mug of hot black tea or orange juice to fill my stomach. By the time class was over my stomach was not only grumbling it was yelling, cursing and I think it might have even back-handed me a time or two. Usually when I came under assault from my stomach I would head to my usual spots like Stone Soup Kitchen, R. Thomas Deluxe Grille or even Whole Foods but one morning I was craving something new. A quick Google search on ye ole blackberry and tada! – I was off to Ria’s Blue Bird (421 Memorial Drive Atlanta, GA).

As I pulled up to the parking lot I realized I’ve passed by this place dozens of times and not even realized it was there. It’s one of those unassuming dives that just blends into the background of a city drive. The menu is geared more towards vegetarians than vegans but the waiter was super friendly, helpful and steered me in the direction of all things vegan. As with Stone Soup Kitchen, Ria’s “soysage” isn’t vegan (haven’t these people ever heard of the joys of gimme lean sausage?!)

However, their southwest scramble is and it is marvelous! Although the description is very clearly laid out on the menu when I got my big bowl of southwest scramble it was nothing like what I expected, but I was still pleasantly surprised. The base was black beans, then there was your standard tofu (cubed, not scramble) topped with tomatoes, onion, and broccoli (it comes with a cilantro pesto which I just automatically told them to leave off since I always assume pesto has some hidden cheese in it). The combination of flavors was a fiesta in mi boca (that's a little spanglish for ya)! I would have never thought of putting this combination of flavors together in this way. It was such a filling meal that incorporated nearly every food group. And best of all the service was fast (which was great because I think if I would have waited one more minute my stomach would have hauled off and dropped kicked me).

Other vegan-friendly menu items are:
Country Fried Tempeh (minus the buttermilk biscuit of course)
Oatmeal (boring!)
Granola (super boring!)
Tempeh Reuben (hold the cheese please)
BBQ Veggie Riblet
Arugula or Spinach salad + tofu or tempeh (sin queso)

You can also get a side of spicy tofu, cup of beans, grits, or a fruit cup. Eat up!
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