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!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

And The Winner Is....

This has been one of my most fun contest ever. I absolutely loved reading about everyone's favorite celebrations from weddings and birthdays to impromptu celebrations with friends over food. But without further ado the winner of a signed copy of Quick & Easy Vegan Celebrations is Janel! Not only that but Janel is a newsletter subscriber who put in the secret newsletter code so she also gets a free 1 pound bag of royal harvest flax seed. Congratulations Janel! Send me your shipping info to

Friday, October 28, 2011

GIVEAWAY! Win a free, signed copy of Quick & Easy Vegan Celebrations

Wowzers. Vegan Mofo went by so quickly this year! I didn't get in half  or even a fourth of the blogging I planned to and now the Vegan Month of Food is almost over and I have yet to have one giveaway! Well that's all about to change. With a new baby on the way and my latest cookbook Quick & Easy Low-Cal Vegan Comfort Food off to the publisher I have a lot to celebrate and want to share my joy with all of you so what better way to do that than to have a giveaway of my sophomore book Quick and Easy Vegan Celebrations.  This giveaway is running not only on the Vegan Guinea Pig blog but also on my new blog The Lady and Seitan and if you win and you happen to be a newsletter subscriber then you get a special bonus gift as well (more information to come in today's upcoming newsletter). The rules are simple. Just post, in the comments section, on either blog or both blogs your favorite celebration of the past, present or one you're planning for the future and I'll randomly select a winner from the bunch! If you post on both blogs you double your chances! Contest ends 10/31/11 the last day of Vegan Mofo and my last official day of blogging for the rest of the year (but rest assured I've stock-piled some great reviews and recipes that are scheduled to post throughout the rest of the year). Good Luck!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Royal Harvest Flavored Flax Oils

A little over a year ago, by happenstance, I found myself having lunch with a man that had been vegan for 30 years. I picked his brain about the evolution of the vegan diet from the whole foods diet (which was all that was available when he went vegan) to the tower of processed foods that are now staples in many diets. The conversation was absolutely fascinating and as he got up to leave he turned and gave me one word of caution "don't forget your fatty acids or you will pay the consequences to your heart health later. I wish I had know that decades ago." As a masters of nutrition student I already know of the countless benefits of essential fatty acids but something about this real life example of how important they are turned a light on for me. Ever since that moment I've been obsessed with making sure I get my essential fatty acids in everyday and now as a pregnant vegan growing my own little one I find it even important and don't go a day without incorporating several types of essential fatty acids into my daily routine.

You might have heard about the omega 3's, 6's, ALA's and GLA's that seem to be the buzz words of the moment? Those are all essential fatty acids or EFAs and can be found in nuts, seeds, blue green algae and variety of other oils and fats. One of my favorite ways to get these EFAs is through ground flax seed and flax oil. Royal Harvest has just come out with a new line of flavored flax oils and super fine ground flax to help fill this need. And when I say super fine this ground flax is feather light and practically dissolves into smoothies, over cereal or into baked goods. It comes in chocolate, which I like to stir into almond milk for a healthy chocolate milk. Coconut flavor, which I put in smoothies and make one mean virgin pina colada with. Caramel, which I drizzle over vanilla ice cream (vegan of course). And lastly, Banana which I either blend into a smoothie with frozen strawberries or drizzle over ice cream to make a healthy version of a banana split. Stay tuned for my virgin pina colada recipe and a giveaway!

Currently, Royal Harvest products are sold online and at select natural food and grocery stores including Hannaford, Shaws, Earth Fare, Mom’s Organic Market, Roots Market, Dave’s Marketplace, Feel Rite Fresh Markets, Mrs. Green’s Natural Market, Wild by Nature Market, and Whole Foods Markets in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Florida. Made by Shape Foods, Inc., headquartered in the heart of North American flax country, Royal Harvest Flax Oils and Flax Meal are gluten-free, vegan friendly and Kosher certified.  Suggested retail price is $9.99 per bottle and $3.99 per bag.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Vegan Snack Bar Alert! - New Orchard Bars

I can't tell you how many food and energy bars I receive to taste and review for this blog. Typically they're all seeds, twigs and berries and not worth mentioning and nearly always they are so packed with calories that they could almost be considered a meal and definitely not something I would recommend as a snack. Orchard Bards kin of fall outside of the realm of a snack bar or a meal replacement bar and remind me more of a dessert bar of treat. I don't think this was the intention of the company but, for me, the sweet fruity taste of these bars are the perfect treat at the end of the day and a much healthier alternative to my new favorite candy bar - Jokerz (but by no means am I giving my Jokerz up!)

Every Orchard Bar is 100% true to the taste of the flavor on the package. The pineapple macadamia nuts has candied bits of real pineapple pressed with generous slices of macadamia nuts. It's so sugary sweet I could only eat half the bar at a time. Even though it taste like sugar dipped in sugar there are only 18 grams of sugar per bar which is half that of an average 12 ounce can of soda. Plus the Orchard Bar is packed with natural vitamins and minerals and made of real food products, no mystery ingredients on the label. The strawberry raspberry walnut flavor taste exactly like strawberry fruit roll up and the blueberry pomegranate almond taste like a you dipped yourself head first in a blueberry orchard.

My parents were it own when these arrived at my doorstep and became completely obsessed with them. They would ask me everyday where they could buy them but unfortunately the current distribution is quite limited to just a few retailers in the west - check to see if you're near one of the lucky locations here Thankfully they are available online - and my parents took full advantage of this stocking up on cases of the bars. Hopefully this great brand will expand to more retailers nationwide soon.

Currently, Liberty Foods (the makers of Orchard Bars) are selling a sample pack of 3 bars for only $2.50 on their website with free shipping so even if they aren't available at a store near you give them a try!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hazelnut Hot Cocoa

Wondering what that chocolatey beverage is steaming in the mug behind my Chocolate Hazelnut Pumpkin Pancakes. It's Hazelnut Hot Cocoa and here's the quick and easy recipe.

2 tablespoon Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter
1 cup plain almond milk

Whisk hazelnut butter with 1/4 cup almond milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add remaining milk and continue to whisk until warm. And there you go!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Chocolate Hazelnut Pumpkin Pancakes

Once I started experimenting with Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter I just couldn't stop. Pancakes, cookies, hot cocoa. I've been eating this stuff everyday since I bought it! Here's my recipe for Chocolate Hazelnut Pumpkin Pancakes.

Makes 11-12 Pancakes

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cup plain almond milk
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup canned pumpkin

Warm  a griddle or large skillet over medium heat.

Add flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt to a medium bowl and slowly stir in almond milk, canola oil, pumpkin and hazelnut butter until smooth (I did all this in a standing mixer  with the whisk attachment to cut down on time).

Brush warmed skillet or griddle lightly with oil and pour a about 1/4 cup worth of batter for each pancake. Once edges dry and bubbles start to form lightly check the underside to ensure it is golden brown then flip and cook the other side. Serve immediately with a little maple syrup or powdered sugar.

As an added bonus here's the nutrition information per pancake:
124 Cal (38% from Fat, 7% from Protein, 55% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 5 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 2 g Mono Fat; 17 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 3 g Sugar; 91 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 248 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter (Move Over Nutella)

There's a lot of things that I never had as an omnivore or a vegetarian - a Philly cheesesteak, a Reuben and I never had nutella.Now in my vegan life I have fallen so in love with a vegan chicken philly that I actually took one on a plane wrapped up in foil back from Philly to Atlanta and I make tempeh Reuben's at least twice a month. Now that I have found Justin's chocolate hazelnut butter I will be adding a new vegan experience to make routine.

When I look at the nutrition facts label of Nutella I see why I was never allowed to have it as a child and why I steered clear as an adult. It's basically frosting disguised as a nut butter. I honestly can't believe they advertise this stuff as a breakfast food with toast. A 2 tablespoon serving has 20 grams of sugar in it! To put it in perspective Pillsbury's Chocolate Fudge Frosting has 18 grams of sugar per 2 tablespoon serving. No wonder everyone loves this stuff so much. Who doesn't love sugar on a spoon?!

Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter has only 7 grams of sugar and double the protein of Nutella and it's damn delicious. And of course, unlike Nutella, Justin's is 100% vegan. Made of hazelnuts, almonds, cane sugar, organic cocoa cocoa butter, palm fruit oil, vanilla and sea salt. It is a bit pricey, I've seen it at Kroger and Whole Foods and both retail prices hovered near or over the $6 range for a 16 ounce jar. The taste is so good that the price doesn't dissuade me from buying it, it just ensures that I will use it conservatively and cherish every bite of it.

So far I can't stop cooking with it. Stay tuned for my Hazelnut Chocolate Pumpkin Pancakes and Hazelnut Hot Cocoa recipes!

Oh! I can't believe I forgot one of the best parts! This wonderful spread also comes in little individual packets so you can take it anywhere with you. I always keep one in my purse  now. You never know when the moment strikes that you just need a little chocolate and hazelnut.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

It's Vegan Mofo Time!

Welcome to the Vegan Month of Food 2011! Better known as VeganMoFo. What is VeganMofo? It’s an entire month dedicated to, you guessed it, vegan food. I’ll be blogging like crazy on both Vegan Guinea Pig and TheLady and Seitan Blogs all month long. I’ll be sharing with you new cookbook reviews, vegan bakeries, great new vegan convenience foods all month long on the Vegan Guinea Pig blog. Over at the Lady & Seitan Blog I’ll be doing what I always do, whipping up veganized versions of Paula Deen classics all month long.  Not only that but there will be weekly giveaways running on both blogs simultaneously so stay tuned! 
Unfortunately this will be my last month of blogging until 2012 as my family and I prepare for the arrival of our first child (hooray for vegan babies!) I will do my absolute best to pack in a month full of amazing blogs for you guys. Thank you so much for your support!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Vegan Brioche brought to you by Have Cake Will Travel

I don't know what's gotten into me lately but I have been canning, preserving and pickling summer fruits and vegetables like a madwoman. I've had to head to the container store on more than one occasion to buy new risers for my pantry to accommodate my growing collection of jams, preserves, chutney's, sauces and pickled veggies. But what's a girl to do with row after row of summer treats? I've gotten bored w/spooning preserves over coconut ice cream, biscuits for breakfast, lunch and dinner slathered in blackberry port jam (who am I kidding I could never get tired of this) and waffles with coconut whipped cream piled high with strawberry preserves.

Just when my brain couldn't think of a thing left to do with all these summer fruits Celine from Have Cake Will Travel invented a bit of vegan genius. Vegan Brioche bread! For those of you who have ever attempted to veganize brioche you know it is a feat not taken on by the meek or weary. I've tried it thrice myself with failures every single time. Since stumbling upon her recipe a couple weeks ago I've made brioche not once, not twice but three times the last time making a double batch so I could make brioche waffles and mini brioches which I stuffed full of blueberry spiced jam and devoured every morning this week for breakfast. The waffles actually freeze incredibly well so I can enjoy those for weeks to come.

I beg of you, if you do nothing else with the rest of your year - make this brioche! Now there is one word of caution. This bread does take a bit of time to make, and by a bit of time I mean at least a day so you do need to plan ahead. It's not super labor intensive but the dough does require 6 to 18 hours of standing time in the fridge and then another 2 hours of rising time before you start the baking process so it's a great bread to make on the weekends. I usually start on a Saturday morning. Take the dough out the fridge Sunday morning, let it rise while I'm running errands or making brunch and then bake it up. The actual baking time on the brioche is only about 30 minutes total so all in and it's really super easy to put together. Because of the amount of time it takes to set and rise I think I will always make a double batch. The recipe only calls for 1/2 cup canned coconut milk so doubling the recipe also allows me to use nearly a whole can of coconut milk without having to think of something to do with the rest of it. When doubling the recipe I still make it in two separate batches not one big batch. I don't want to rock the boat too much. Usually I go rouge on a recipe and start improvising but this one is so perfect as it is I couldn't imagine doing it any other way than how it's written. Please please please head over to Have Cake Will Travel and try this awe inspiring recipe!

Photos re-posted with permission from Celine Steen at Have Have Will Travel

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Go Max Go Foods Jokerz Candy Bar

Growing up I wasn't allowed to eat much candy. Let's just say I was a "spirited" child with more than enough natural energy to go around and my mom wasn't about to take the chance that adding a little extra sugar would send me over the edge into a tiny tazmanian devil of energy. Since I never really ate candy or chocoaltes as a child  I have to say they don't appeal to me very much as an adult and so when Go Max Go came out with their line of all natural vegan candy bars I wasn't that excited. I was even less thrilled at the price tag, it's been a while since I bought a candy bar but I don't recall that they were ever $2.50 each which is the hefty price tag that these bars carry.

Finally one day last month I found myself at Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe picking up a small list of vegan goodies and as I started to eye the healthy protein bars and snacks my attention began to shift to the Jokerz candy bar glistening in it's bright red packaging begging for me to try it. Being the lady I am I can't turn down a candy bar's offer when it just flat out asks me to eat it so, of course, I did. I waited until I got into the parking lot, and slowly unwrapped the bar. It smelled like a sweet little piece of chocolate nirvana and before I knew what was happening half the bar was gone. The chewy peanut nougat, velvety caramel and roasted peanuts all covered in chocolate are reminiscent of a Snickers. But Snickers pale in comparison to these nougaty wonders. Snickers are like the red headed step child (no offense to the red headed step children out there) to the Jokerz. I can't believe it took me so long to try these. They are worth every penny of the price and, on a positive note about the price, it is set high enough that I won't be tempted to eat these every single day so they will remain a lovely treat that I get to indulge in from time to time. 

To purchase Jokerz Candy Bars head to Whole Foods, Earth Fare, The Fresh Market, assorted health food stores, Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe, Natural Candy Store and

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Independence Day BBQ Tempeh Hoagies with Chipotle Mayo

After a nearly 4 month absence I'm back! I've been busy working on my new book Quick and Easy LOW-CAL Vegan Comfort Food  and a new blog dedicated to veganizing Paula Deen recipes called The Lady and Seitan. I'm busy as ever but finally back and I have a stockpile vegan goodies to review for you. What better way to start the month than with a recipe for BBQ Tempeh Hoagies with Chipotle Mayo from Quick and Easy Vegan Celebrations. Enjoy!

BBQ Tempeh Hoagies with Chipotle Mayo
Makes 4 hoagies

Get your napkins ready and your bib on tight because you’re about to dive into a boat of Smokey Maple BBQ Sauce with a little tempeh on the side. If there are skeptics of vegan food in your life then this is the hoagie to start them out on. I set these out at a cookout last year just for a moment while I went to grab some chips, and when I came back I found they had all been kidnapped by my omnivore friends. Let’s see how long they last at your summer cookout.

2 tablespoons canola oil
½ small white onion, sliced thin
½ medium bell pepper, of any color, sliced thin
One 8-ounce package tempeh, any variety, sliced thin
1 cup Smokey Maple BBQ Sauce (recipe below)
4 hoagie rolls, lightly toasted

Chipotle Mayo
½ cup vegan mayonnaise
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon adobo sauce
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
¼ teaspoon dried oregano

Warm the canola oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and bell pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add the tempeh and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the tempeh is warmed through, stirring often.

While tempeh is cooking, add all chipotle mayo ingredients to a mini food processor and process until smooth.

Remove from heat and stir in Smokey Maple BBQ Sauce.

Spread Chipotle Mayo on each side of the hoagie roll and fill with the tempeh mixture

Smokey Maple BBQ Sauce
Makes 1¾ cups

1 tablespoon canola oil
½ cup diced white onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup ketchup
¾ cup Grade A maple syrup
2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon hickory liquid smoke
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Warm canola oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Put in the onion and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Stir in the ketchup, maple syrup, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, and red pepper flakes.

Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. This sauce can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator in an airtight container

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Vegan Bake Sale for Japan!

I can't believe I haven't blogged in over 6 weeks! The daily grind of school, work, writing a new book and working on a new recipe based blog has me thinking I might have bitten off a little more than I can chew and my poor Vegan Guinea Pig blog has suffered. Well, I'm working on a bunch of new content for you guys but in the meantime I can think of no better reason to break my 6 week silence than to plug the Vegan Bake Sale for Japan taking place this Saturday, March 26th from 12-5pm at Criminal Records in Atlanta. If you don't live in the Atlanta area check around your town and I'm sure there's a Vegan bake sale in the making and if there's not then it looks like it's time to organize one! :)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Whole Kitchen Pad Thai with Tofu Frozen Dinner

Many moons ago, back in my ovo-lacto days I used to live and die for a good ole fashioned Whole Foods Whole Kitchen brand frozen meal or soups. Their french onion soup was stacked in my freezer 4 x 4 deep. For the longest time the Whole Kitchen brand hasn't really had much to offer in the world of vegan dishes. However lately, slowly but surely, I'm starting to see more vegan products creeping into the line. Even though these days I feel like I'm in the kitchen 24 hours a day (writing cookbooks, cooking for my new blog and making treats for friends and family), inevitably once or twice a week I'll open the fridge, starved and tired, only to realize that I started a component to a dish but didn't finish the rest and I can either spend an hour conceptualizing and cooking the rest of it or I can rummage around in the freezer for something quick, easy and thoughtless. Needless to say I'm always in the market for a new frozen dinner.

Whole Kitchen's Pad Thai with Tofu looked pretty appetizing out the box but once I heated it up I became a wee bit skeptical. I gave it a good stir and my first bite was not a pleasant one. It was bland and tasteless. But on this particular day I was too starving and tired  to find an alternative meal so I was determined to power through it. I gave this dish another good stir to get all the sauce over every inch of noodle and voila! The perfect Pad Thai. They key to making sure this dish tastes amazing is really making sure you get sauce on every square centimeter of rice noodle real estate. The Pad Thai was sweet, peanuty and perfect. I also like that the picture on the package was true to form of what the dish really is. The tofu wasn't minuscule in comparison to the big plump pieces on the package and the peppers were as big green and bright as the food stylist, who no doubt meticulously positioned them in the photo, made it. All in all it takes about 4 minutes to heat this dish up and about $4 to buy. With 9 grams of protein, 340 calories and 490mg of sodium ( a bit high, but it is a frozen meal after all) the Whole Kitchen brand has now found a new place of prominence in my freezer.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Book Review: The Vegan Girl's Guide to Life by Melisser Elliott

Over here in the land of the Vegan Guinea Pig I get boat loads of vegan cookbooks to look over and review month after month. There’s so many amazing (and some not so amazing) cookbooks out there that it seems to take forever to review them all. What I don’t get often is a vegan book that is more than just a cookbook but a real guide to what being vegan is all about.

The Vegan Girl's Guide to Life: Cruelty-Free Crafts, Recipes, Beauty Secrets and MoreOn the off chance you’ve been living under a rock or on a deep sea adventure for the past couple of weeks you might not have heard that Oprah and 378 of her staff members went vegan for a week and chronicled the entire experience for her show. I had mixed feelings about the show but one positive that came from it is that it peaked a lot of folk’s interest in a vegan lifestyle. I’ve been getting non-stop emails, calls, and tweets asking how to make the transition to veganism, what are the best cookbook’s to try, where do you start, etc. Before I mention one cookbook (even my own) I refer people to Melisser Elliott’s The Vegan Girls Guide to Life. The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life is more than just a how-to into the land of veganism but it actually puts you face to face with vegan mavens and mavericks all over the world, shares their stories, experiences, likes, dislikes and the amazing vegan resources they use.

I honestly can’t think of a better how-to guide to veganism. Elliott goes over the basic in’s and out’s of veganism (what a vegan eats, what a vegan doesn’t eat, what a vegan wears, what a vegan doesn’t wear, what kind of soap a vegan uses, what kinda of tattoo ink to look for, the list goes on forever).  She also dedicates a whole chapter to the nutrition aspects of veganism, surviving as a vegan in a non-vegan world, shopping for non-food related products (with a very extensive list of great vegan health, beauty, clothing, and home products). I’m a shoe-freak so I dog-eared the shoe and handbags section to keep handy anytime I find a few extra nickels at the bottom of my purse. Elliott then follows it all up with a hearty section of simple recipes that will help get you started on your road to veganism. Vegan superstar’s Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero even contribute a few recipes.

My only bone to pick with this book is the nutrition information. But then again, you would expect that of me by now. I really wish Elliott would have called on a vegan registered dietitian for help in this section of the book. There are so many fabulous, knowledgeable RD’s out there that are always willing to share that it seems a shame that more vegans don’t utilize them as resources. I cringed reading chicken breast being put into a nutrient battle with kale when a better example would have been a similarly protein rich plant source like legumes or nuts and seeds. Some of the recommended daily allowances (RDA’s) were a bit on the low side of what is recommended for vegetarians and vegans which can be slippery slope especially when making recommendations to menstruating women. But, all in all, it’s a good place to start and thankfully, like some other vegan books I’ve read, she doesn’t give any out and out incorrect nutrition information.

Nutrition section aside The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life is a must have for new vegans, anyone who has ever pondered going vegan and even for old seasoned vegans. The personal stories and spotlights throughout keep it light, entertaining and a joy to read. Bravo Melisser! I can’t wait to see what you have coming up next!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Game Day Nachos (from Quick & Easy Vegan Celebrations)

I'm not a sports kinda girl by any stretch of the imagination. I managed to make it through 2 years of cheerleading in highschool without ever actually learning how the game of football is played. But what I can do is cook up a big vegan feast for damn near any occasion and Super Bowl Sunday is no exception. Here's my recipe for Game Day Nachos from the Game Day Spread chapter of Quick & Easy Vegan Celebrations. Other Super Bowl Sunday favorites from this chapter: Spicy Seitan Burgers, French Onion Burgers, Sun-Dried Tomato Pinwheels, Loaded Potato Skins, French Onion Dip, Spinach Artichoke Dip, Seven-Layer Dip, Roasted Five-Spice Nuts and Brownies.

1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled and diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
½ cup diced white onion
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 cup water
½ cup cooked navy beans
¼ cup canola oil
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ cup cashews
One 10-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained
One 13-ounce bag tortilla chips
1½ cup cooked black beans
2 green onions or 1 bunch chives, chopped
1 cup sliced green or black olives
½ cup jalapeño slices
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce

Combine the potato, carrot, onion, garlic, and water in a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. The smaller you cut the vegetables, the less time it will take to cook them.

Put the navy beans, oil, salt, lemon juice, cashews, and cooked vegetable with the cooking water into a blender and process until completely smooth.

Transfer the sauce to fondue pot or large mixing bowl and stir in the diced tomato with green chiles. Ladle the sauce over tortilla chips and top with the black beans, green onions, olives, jalapeños, and lettuce, as desired

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Book Review: Garlic-Onion-Beet-Spinach-Mango-Carrot-Grapefruit Juice by Nathalie VanBalen

Garlic-Onion-Beet-Spinach-Mango-Carrot-Grapefruit Juice, now say that five times fast. On second thought maybe that isn’t the best idea, I just tried and confused myself by try three. This might sound like the contents to possibly the worst cup of juice ever (try kissing your significant other after taking a big gulp of garlic and onion laced juice) but in fact it’s the name of Nathalie VanBalen’s new children’s book featuring a fuzzy little monster name Thora who lives with two birds, Zwee and Geep and most importantly two Vikings, Aksel and Krog.

Garlic-Onion-Beet-Spinach-Mango-Carrot-Grapefruit Juice is a children’s book unlike any other. It made me laugh out loud from the first page and if you’re not afraid to look a bit like a fool for the sake of a child’s smile then you’ll love acting out all the parts of this book and jumping full force into the adventures of this unlikely group of friends. The book is a mix of illustrations and photos. The photos are of the main characters on their adventures, but the kicker is the characters are dolls being propped up by very visible hands throughout the book. At first I thought it was a little odd but slowly but surely I found that it just added to the cuteness factor of the book. Let’s face it, there’s few things as endearing as a big hairy arm holding up a little stuffed animal. The only criticism I have of the book is it’s length. It was a marathon for me to get through when I read it to a group of kids to see how they would like it for this review. As with most children’s stories the more animate the reader the better the story but by the time I was finished reading Garlic-Onion-Beet-Spinach-Mango-Carrot-Grapefruit Juice I was an exhausted pile of mush on the floor with children jumping up and down on me like a bean bag chair. 

 Garlic-Onion-Beet-Spinach-Mango-Carrot-Grapefruit Juice  is $20 and can be purchased at

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Homemade Potato Bread

I haven’t had potato bread since going vegan, I’m not sure if a vegan version exist commercially so I was ecstatic to see not one but two recipes for potato bread in The Bread Lovers Bread Machine Cookbook by Beth Hensperger. One version calls for you to bake and mash your own potatoes and the other calls for instant potato flakes. Beth seemed pretty in love with the instant potato flakes version so I chose the quick route and went with the recipe using instant potato flakes. Here’s my veganized recipe for Potato Bread using a bread machine:

Potato Bread
Makes 1 ½ pound loaf

½ cup water
2/3 cup almond milk
1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons agave nectar
2 ½ cups bread flour
1/3 cup instant potato flakes
1 tablespoon gluten (optional)
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
2 ¼ teaspoon bread machine yeast

Place all ingredients in the pan according to the order in manufacturer’s instructions (usually liquids on bottom, solids on top) be sure not to put the potato flakes and the liquids close together as he flakes will absorb the liquids too fast and change the outcome of the finished product.

Set the crust on medium and use the basic white bread cycle (do not use delayed start for this bread).

When the baking cycle ends immediately remove the bread from the plan and place it on a rack to cool. Allow to cool to room temperature before slicing.

Friday, January 7, 2011

It's A Breadmaking Bonanza!

Hello, my name is Alicia and I’m addicted to kitchen gadgets. Over the past 5 years, for every holiday that involves gifting, I have asked for kitchen gadgets and gizmos. Everything from Wusthof knives and Le Creuset cookware to my most recent wish list items, a bread maker and a yogurt maker. For years I’ve been going to local bakeries for my fresh bread and recently I started to make my own at home but, while some people find bread making a soothing cathartic experience, it was tedious, time consuming and held me hostage to the kitchen while I waited for dough to rise, punched it down then waited for it to rise again.

This Christmas my sweet parents got me the Cuisinart CBK-200 Bread Maker and I immediately went to work. First I made a big loaf of seed bread that I ended up using for everything from sandwich and breakfast toast to crunchy croutons. Since my bread recipes are pretty much limited to seed breed and Challah (recipe in Quick & Easy Vegan Celebrations) I bought The Bread Lovers Bread Machine Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and started earmarking recipes immediately. I'll be baking from this book for years to come and will be, of course, sharing all the veganized recipes you with guys. 

My first time making bread in my new bread-machine was otherworldly. I was instantly freed from my usual practice of mixing, kneading, rising, kneading, rising and baking to adding all the ingredients to the breadmaker and just walking away. While my bread baked I ran errands, jogged a couple miles, made lunch and cleaned the house all the while my house slowly filled with the sweet smell of fresh  baked bread. Look forward to a year full of veganized recipes from starting with Potato bread next week (likely followed by a seed bread recipe I've been working).
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