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!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

All Pro-Science Complete Vegan Protein Supplement

I’m not into protein supplements for a lot of reasons, mostly because it’s incredibly easy to get protein in the diet without having to supplement. But I am a huge fan of smoothies and, in the summer, I usually have a smoothie for breakfast or dinner every day and I like adding all sorts of things to them like greens, nuts, seeds and even the occasional protein supplement. When I was approached by the folks at All Pro Science to try their vegan protein supplement I wasn’t exactly overjoyed. For years I’ve been trying to like Vega supplement only to find myself pinching my nose and forcing it down my throat every time I try it. To put it mildly I hate the stuff. My biggest issue with supplements like Vega is the vanilla they add to the mix. I like vanilla in my candles and cookies but not my smoothies and supplements. All Pro Science has “VANILLA” stamped proudly underneath its 100% All-Vegan label so I already knew my taste buds were in for an unpleasant experience.

I tried All Pro Science a couple ways, in a variety of smoothies, stirred into every juice you can think of and even into a little almond milk. All in all, I have to say that I actually like this stuff. Mind you, the vanilla is still off putting to me but it isn’t as strong as in Vega and the overall formulation of All Pro Science’s protein supplement goes down a lot smoother without any of the grit I’ve found in Vega. All Pro Science is gluten free and uses a mix of Hemp, Pea, and Brown Rice Protein in additional to flax seed powder and has 23 grams of protein per scoop. All Pro Science also doubles as a multi-vitamin and a multi-mineral and is high in all the B vitamins. A container of All Pro Science is also $20 cheaper than Vega and for this reason alone it will be the supplement of choice in my house.

With all that being said I do hold one issue with All Pro Science Complete Vegan Protein Supplement. On the label it says that individuals need to consume 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight which is simply 100% false and scientifically inaccurate. It’s really nothing more than a cheap ploy to sell more protein supplements and further the protein myth. According to the World Health Organization individuals only need 0.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. The USDA’s Recommend Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram. 1 kilo gram = 2.2 pounds. So if you are an individual that weighs 150 lbs then you weigh 68.1 kg and should be taking in somewhere between 34 to 54 grams of protein a day. The American College of Sports Medicine, the American Dietetic Association and the Dietitians of Canada have come up with a consensus protein requirement for individuals in strenuous physical training (this is not for the average person who exercises 5 times a week for at least an hour a day but for someone training on the level of a professional athlete). Their recommendations for resistance athletes is 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight and for endurance athletes 1.2 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight [1]. However, an athlete should be taking in more calories overall because of a higher calorie output and would therefore be eating more carbohydrates, protein and fat in their diet and would also be able to achieve their recommended protein intakes without supplementation. Let’s take the example of our same 150 pound person. If they were a resistance athlete then they would need to consume approximately 109 grams of protein a day and if they were an endurance athlete they would need to consume approximately 81 grams of protein a day. The funny thing is the average American is already consuming 91-113 grams of protein a day[2] and I highly doubt that all those folks are resistance and endurance athletes.

Encouragement of the protein myth aside – I really do like All Pro-Science’s Vegan Protein Supplement and will be adding it to my smoothie’s (at probably ½ a scoop) all summer long.

For Coupons and Discounts on All Pro Science Supplements head to their website

1. Williams, M.H., Nutrition for Health, Fitness and Sport. 8th Edition ed. 2007: McGraw Hill.
2. Fulgoni, V.L., III, Current protein intake in America: analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2003-2004. Am J Clin Nutr, 2008. 87(5): p. 1554S-1557.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Spicy Kale Slaw

I don't believe in using the term "super foods" but if there were ever a food that embodied that term it's kale. Kale is rich in vitamin A, K, C, Calcium, omega 3 and 6, B vitamins, and many other essential vitamins and nutrients. My CSA always has an abundance of kale, which means my fridge is always stocked with it. I prefer to eat my kale raw but have been running out of ways to prepare it. Week after week I remixed recipe, after recipe, blending a little bit of this and a little bit of that until I happened upon this Spicy Kale Slaw. The ingredient list looks daunting but most of it is just common spices. It literally takes minutes to put together. I recommend starting with 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne and working your way up. The flavor intensifies overnight so keep this in mind when deciding how much cayenne you will add as well.

Spicy Kale Slaw
4 cups thinly sliced kale, any variety
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
½ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup golden raisins
½ cup Veganaise
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon paprika
1/8 to ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon curry powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground clove

Add all ingredients to a large bowl and toss until kale is evenly covered. Cover and chill for at least an hour.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cookbook Review: Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero

Although I wrote Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food for the masses, my ultimate comfort food cuisine is Latin food. I’m a California girl so Mexican food is number one on my list but I adore the flavors or Argentina, Costa Rica, Cuba, Colombia, basically any Latin country you can think of I would eat their food morning, noon and night and never be bored. When Viva Vegan! By Terry Hope Romero showed up on my doorstep I knew that this book would either be the answers to my Latin food prayers or a huge disappointment. I’ve been cooking out of books that Terry has written since I went vegan 4 years ago so I instinctively knew that Viva Vegan! would be in heavy rotation in the Vegan Guinea Pig home.

Ok, so let’s get down to it – I loved the book. But, like most international cookbooks, you will need to take a trip to your local international market or Hispanic grocer to get some of the key ingredients. My only issue with this book is that there aren’t enough everyday alternatives to some of the more hard to find ingredients. While I was trying out recipes from Viva Vegan! to write this blog I was also in the middle of a 2 week ban on grocery shopping in my home, so I could only cook out of my pantry, freezer and fridge. No grocery shopping and only a trip to my CSA for fresh veggies. I would advise the average person that was about to crack open Viva Vegan! and get cooking to head to the back of the book, page 257 to be exact, and take a look at the shopping list that Terry has made. You can easily pick out what you have handy and what you’ll need to pick up from your local international market. I highly recommend adding every spice, sauce, grain and chile on the list as they will all come in handy when working through this book.

Now on to the good stuff – it was impossible for me to narrow down the 200 recipes in Viva Vegan! down to 5, so I made a top 10 list. The first recipe I tried as the the Tempeh Asada and it was incredible. When it comes to tempeh I don’t always love it but this recipe hit the mark. The recipe says that it only needs to be marinated for 10 minutes but I highly recommend allowing the marinade to sit overnight to let the flavor really soak in. I decided to create Tamales from the Tempeh Asado. I used Terry’s Savory Vegan Masa Dough recipe and filled the tamales with sliced Tempeh Asado and thinly sliced fried plantains (this recipe is also in the book). Since I had some leftovers plantains I decided to make Terry’s Bean, Rice and Plantain Empanadas. I didn’t have the ingredients necessary to make her corn dough so I used my own empanada dough recipe and everything turned out beautifully.

If you’ve ever seen me eat a churro it’s like a scene out of national geographic – I just attack. I was very happy to see not one but two churros in Viva Vegan, both of which were astounding. I typically don’t like chocolate with my churros but Terry’s Chocolate para churros has officially changed my mind. My hands down favorite recipe from the book is the Tostones with Avocado and Palm Ceviche (minus the avocado). I can’t even begin to explain what happened in my mouth the first time I tasted the combination of unripened fried plantains with the tangy palm ceviche. I’ve had a jar of hearts of palm in my pantry for months that I had just given up on. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to make it into anything delicious – ceviche was, without a doubt, the answer.

One of the best parts of Viva Vegan! is the opportunity to try foods that I’ve never heard of from regions that I love. Patacones was a prime example of this. Patacones are a bite size green plantain sandwich filled with shredded seitan, avocado, Terry’s Spicy Salsa Golf, lettuce and tomatoes. The Red Beans with Dominican-Style Sazon was a simple yet flavorful dish that will be a staple in my home. In fact, there are a few cups of it in my freezer right now. I paired the Red Beans with Dominican-Style Sazon with Braised Brazilian Shredded Kale and my own Mexican-rice recipe. As my pantry started to dwindle I looked around and found a few potatoes, a couple links of Field Roast Mexican Chiptole Sausage and a big bunch of kale from my CSA. The next natural step was to make the Potato-Kale Soup with sizzling chorizo. I cannot explain how delicious this soup was. Even on a 95 degree day in Atlanta I found myself licking the bottom of the bowl of hot soup. Using the same combination of ingredients I tried Taquitos with Chorizo and Potatoes, also a hands down winner.

To recap, my top 10 favorite recipes from Viva Vegan! are:
Tempeh Asado (all variations)
Beans, Rice and Sweet Plantain Empanadas
Chocolate Para Churros
Tostones with Avocado and Palm Ceviche
Red Beans with Dominican-Style Sazon
Braised Brazilian Shredded Kale
Potato-Kale Soup with Sizzling Chorizo
Taquitos with Chorizo and Potatoes

Now go pick up your copy and start cooking!

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