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!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Cookbook Review and Giveaway: Superfood Smoothies by Julie Morris

I have a strong aversion to the word “Superfood”. As a dietitian, I think of all fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains as super food. They are all rich in vitamins, minerals, phytochemical/phytonutrients, fiber, and the right balance of all the essential components your body needs. But it seems the term “superfood” has become a part of the American vocabulary and although I loathe to term I must learn to accept it. I got the book Superfood Smoothies: 100 Delicious, Energizing & Nutrient-dense Recipes just as I was diving deep into my exploration back into smoothies. As I read through the introduction I was impressed at the real world, practical advice the author, Julie Morris, gives readers as well as her thorough explanation of every ingredient in the book. Many of the superfoods she names in the book like Maca and Camu I heard of before in passing but wasn’t very familiar with. Morris not only explains the health benefits of all the superfoods in her book but their flavor profile so you can get an idea of what you’re getting into with these exotic named foods. She also gives a suggested serving size which is helpful in buying the superfoods.

When it comes to buying these superfoods I also wish that Morris could do that for me too. All these little powders, berries and seeds are expensive! This is definitely not a book for a college student on a tight budget. It took me over a week to find most of the specialty ingredients at semi-decent prices. On my first search for Acai powder the results came back with a $40 bag of it at Whole Foods with the next cheapest option being a $31 bag on and that is just for an 8 ounce bag. Eventually I was able to find a smaller bag but it was still nearly $16 for 4 ounces. Many of the superfoods called for in this book like Camu berry, hemp seeds, chia seeds, dried mulberries, maqui berry powder, and lucuma powder were similarly expensive. Surprisingly, goji berries were one of my cheapest finds at just $5. Stocking my superfood pantry cost me, literally, $100 which isn’t counting the flax seeds, cacao nibs, maca powder and hemp seeds that I already had in my pantry and didn’t need to buy.

Once I spent my life savings on the promise of a healthier me it was time to start the smoothie making! As a quick tip for those who make smoothies for breakfast, try getting together as many of the ingredients as possible the night before, prep what you can and put all the frozen items together (pre-measured) in a bowl in your freezer, all the refrigerated stuff together and all the dry items together so that in the morning all you have to do is throw everything in the blender and go.  Literally every single recipe in this book looks divine so it was hard trying to decide on which one’s I would try first. The strawberry chamomile and strawberry kombucha immediately stood out to me but I wanted to wait until strawberries are in season to try them so I’ll have to pass on them for now. First I tried the Raspberry Pineapple smoothie (page 145). It sounds benign but it’s filled with bok choy, coconut milk and maqui powder making it a lovely green smoothie without actually being green. I like brown rice protein and flax oil in all my smoothies as a way to sneak in my omega 3’s, make smoothies more filling and get a protein boost in the morning so for every recipe I tried I added 1-2 tablespoons of brown rice protein and 1-2 tablespoons of flax oil as well. The raspberry pineapple smoothie was downright dreamy. You couldn’t taste the bok choy at all and I plan on experimenting by adding more to the smoothie next time. Next up came the Mango Ginger smoothie (page 172) in addition to the obvious mango and ginger there are goji berries, dried white mulberries (which I doubled up), and Camu powder and chia seeds. That’s a lot of super foods in one smoothie. This, by far, was my favorite smoothie of the book. The only thing it was missing to make it complete was a little greens so I might try it with a handful of spinach one day. Even without greens it is quite literally the perfect smoothie. Next up was the Red Velvet Cake (page 143) which features roasted beets! I’m not a beets fan but to make myself a beets fan I planted a ton in my garden for spring but I couldn’t wait to try this recipe out so I bought a couple fresh beets from the farmers market and tried this recipe out. This smoothie is so rich, sweet and creamy that I might have it instead of birthday cake for my next birthday. The list goes on and on of amazing recipes from cookie dough (which really taste like cookie dough), to Pineapple Papaya to Apple with Broccoli. Morris hits it out of the park with this book.

Wait, you didn’t think I was going to tell you about all these fantastic recipes and then not give you the opportunity to try them for yourself did you? First, check out Morris’ recipe for Maqui Banana and Mint Chip smoothies here! Then enter to win a free copy of Superfood Smoothies for yourself by entering below! The winner will be announced next Monday, May 6th!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Juice Fasting

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Juice Fasting lives up to it's name. The book holds your hand through the juicing process, starting you out with sweet fruit juice combinations and then taking you to the major league of juicing with savory combinations that include everything from tomatoes to wheatgrass - it really doesn't get more major league than wheatgrass. Here are three recipes from the book that take you on the journey from sweet to savory.

Tropical Pineapple Juice
Tropical Paradise Juice 

This scrumptious juice will transport you to a stress-free tropical paradise. This juice explodes with bright, sunny flavors, leaving you in total bliss.

Yield: 4 cups Serving size: about 4 cups Prep Time: 15 minutes


1 medium ripe papaya, peeled, seeded, and sliced
1 small pineapple, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 (1-in.) piece peeled fresh ginger
1 medium kiwi, peeled
1.2 cup fresh young coconut water


1. In a juicer, alternate pressing papaya slices, pineapple slices, ginger, and kiwi.
2. Gently stir coconut water into juice.
3. Serve immediately.

Hollywood Celebrity Juice
Hollywood Celebrity Juice Blend

This brilliantly colored pink juice blend is famous for its tasty pineapple flavor that perfectly complements earthy beets and bright spearmint.

Yield: 4 cups Prep time: 15 minutes Serving size: about 4 cups


1/2 medium-small red beet, sliced
2 large Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced
1/2 large pineapple, peeled, cored, and sliced
3 medium sprigs spearmint


1. In a juicer, alternate pressing red beet slices, Granny Smith apple slices, pineapple slices, and spearmint.
2. Stir and serve immediately.

Muscle builder juice

Muscle-Builder Juice Blend
This savory, power-building juice is bursting with flavor. A medley of some of the most nutritious and tasty flavors out there, we recommend you drink it before or after a workout and during your juice fast.

Yield: about 4 cups Prep time: 15 minutes Serving size: 4 cups


5 medium-small ripe tomatoes, sliced
3 medium celery stalks
3 medium carrots
1 medium lemon, outer rind removed, white pith intact, and sectioned
1 small lime, outer rind removed, white pith intact, and sectioned
Large handful small blueberries
1 TB. cold-pressed flaxseed oil
1/2 cup filtered water


1. In a juicer, alternate pressing tomatoes, celery, carrots, lemon sections, lime sections, and blueberries.
2. Gently stir flaxseed oil and filtered water into juice.
3. Serve immediately.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Getting Green from Inside Out - A Starter Guide to Great Green Juices and Smoothies

Many many moons ago, back when I was a newbie vegan I was into green juice in a major way. In fact, I went vegan during my first 7-day juice fast. The leader of the class, Arden Zinn, is actually the reason I am vegan. For years I was all about the green juice and vegetable juices of all kinds. I did three subsequent juice fast one lasting 14-days the other two lasting 30-days a piece. For someone who is obsessed with cooking and eating, like I am, it opened up so much time in my day to pursue other things that the peace and stillness of not having to worry about what I was going to have for every meal and snacks was a breath of fresh air. Sometime around my juice phase I went through a raw-food phase (seriously, don’t all new vegans go through a raw food phase?) and while I was going through my raw-food phase I got really into green smoothies. You can see the evidence of my love for green smoothies in the first 15 recipes of my first book Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food. Where I blend everything from sunflower seed sprouts to broccolini into smoothies.

When I embarked on a new “healthy me” mission this past February one of the first things I added back to my life was green juices and green smoothies. With a backyard garden overflowing with fresh greens it’s a wonder I didn’t do it sooner. For my juice combinations I turned to several different books for inspiration The Complete Idiot's Guide to Juice Fasting (check out 3 recipes from the book here), The Everything Juicing Book and The Healthy Green Drink Diet were my blueprint for all my juicing needs. For an experienced juicer like me a refresher course in combining flavors was great but after two weeks of juicing my own vegetables at home I found the whole process to be ridiculously expensive and I couldn’t justify throwing all that money into my juicer when I could just eat the vegetables as they are. So I ditched the juice fasting books, tucked my juicer back into the pantry and moved on to green smoothies.

Green smoothies and other veggie based smoothies are where I found my sweet spot of nutrition. First of all, making a smoothie makes a much smaller mess than dealing with cleaning a juicer. Secondly, with green smoothies you get to keep the entire vegetable – all that good fiber and pulp with no waste! I earmarked my favorite green smoothie recipes from Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food then I moved on to some other great green smoothie books my favorites being – What Color is Your Smoothie? = (there is a sweet potato pie smoothie in this book that will blow your mind!), Green Smoothie Joy , and Green for Life . With my spring garden bursting with 5 different types of lettuce/salad greens, collards, kale and spinach the mileage I have been getting and will continue to get out of these books is well worth the extra room they take up in my cookbook library. And for those of you with kids green smoothies make excellent green popsicles!

Now, stop reading this blog, get in your car (or hop on your bike) and get yourself down to your local farmer’s market to grab some fresh greens and start blending!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Viva La Vegan Snack Box!

The first time I heard about Vegan Cuts was through an email I received from them about trying out Brooklyn Dark Chocolate. If you haven't read the review yet, let me just summarize it by saying if my house was on fire I would grab my daughter, my dog, and then this chocolate (in that order). Oh...and then I would probably call the fire department. Thankfully, my house is standing lovely in one piece, fire free so I have the opportunity to try one more amazing item from Vegan Cuts. Well, in truth, it's more like a dozen more items from Vegan Cuts all wrapped up into one. It's their Vegan Snack Box.

When I heard about the snack box it struck me as such a phenomenal idea I can't believe no one has thought of it to this point. When my snack box arrived at my door. I was giddy with excitement. I opened the box to find a cornucopia of vegan goodies that I literally had never seen before in my life - coconut chips (made from dehydrated coconut meat), lentil chips, lots of chocolate in various forms, gummy candy, hemp based lip balm, 3 different varieties of tea and a protein bar. Being the guineapig that I am I love the idea of having the opportunity to try lots of different products without having to commit to buying the entire pack of something. I wasn't particularly keen on the protein bar that was in my snack box and I'm glad that I didn't have to buy an entire box of them to find out I didn't like them. In contrast I absolutely loved everything else in the box. The tea was a surprise favorite as it comes in this cute little cylinder pouch that travels well and looks much cooler to pull out your purse (or man-bag) than a tea bag.

Another big advantage of the box is that, as a mom, I'm always looking for great snack options for my kiddo. She usually snacks on fruits, roasted chickpeas and some type of homemade muffin or cracker that I've made or marinated tofu but, homemade goodies don't exactly travel well and I'm over carrying around a cooler just to ensure she has organic homemade crackers and strawberries when we're on the road (can you tell I'm a first time mom?) So this box is a god-send. She devoured the coconut chips and the lentil chips are a new favorite too. She even had a few sips of my chamomile tea but the chocolate and gummies are for mommy only :) As of today, yep as of right now this moment, I am a subscriber to the Vegan Cuts Snack Box. It's only $19.95 a month and that includes shipping. Viva La Vegan Snack Box!
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