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!

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).

Monday, January 3, 2011

Poblano Chickpea Patties by Moo Moo’s Frozen Meals

My experience with Moo Moo’s Sweet ‘N Spicy Curry Tofu was less than favorable too put it mildly. I spent a week giving Moo Moo’s Poblano Chickpea Patties the stink eye in my freezer as I grazed on leftover BBQ Baked Beans and frozen veggies. Finally, one rainy afternoon I mustered up the courage to pop these patties in the oven and just get the whole thing over with. The patties were much larger than I expected and didn’t looked to be pre-cooked at all which was a disappointment as I was expecting a crispy patty. I popped them in the microwave for 5 minutes, let them cool then took a bite. They certainly weren’t the worst things I had ever eaten yet not the best. As I suspected the patties were far from crisp and were, in fact, really mushy with the corn mix underneath them being their saving grace. Thankfully this was an easily remedied problem. I simply popped each patty in the convection oven broiler for about a minute on each side and they came out nice and crispy with just the right moist center. Then I added a little homemade salsa and voila! The perfect meal. The sodium content on these patties is pretty high (510mg) but the calorie count is low at 230 calories for the entire meal. I might get these again to keep around if I’m in a pinch or I ever find a coupon for them. The calorie count alone makes it pretty great even with the high sodium. But with so many other great vegan frozen food options popping up every day I can’t guarantee that this will be a staple in my freezer.
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