Blueberries, Avocado & Banana Bowl with Tahini Honee Sauce

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Gorgeousness in a bowl! This may be my new favorite snack. I have been eating bananas and avocados together for a long time but the addition of blueberries and tahini honee sauce takes this bowl to a whole new level.

There is a yoga studio near my house called The Funky Om and the owner recently opened Om Organics, an organic grab and go concept that carries fresh pressed juices, chia pudding, salads and a bowl like this one.

To make my own version, I combine Soom Tahini (my favorite tahini) and Bee Free Honee (my favorite sweetener) with a touch of fresh lemon juice for a perfectly vegan and perfectly delicious bowl of goodness.

1/2 tablespoon tahini
1/2 tablespoon Bee Free Honee
1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (a very small lemon or 1/2 of a 1/2 of a big lemon)
1/2 cup blueberries, or a few more (why not!)
1/2 avocado, about
1/2 small banana, about

Whisk together the tahini, honee, and lemon juice in a small bowl.

Cut the avocado into cubes and slice the banana. Pile them on top of blueberries. Drizzle with tahini honee sauce and enjoy!

Watermelon Radishes & Sprouted Watermelon Seeds

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I love finding new things in the health food store. I have never seen watermelon radishes or watermelon seeds before. They are not related in any way but I thought it would make for a nice post.

First, let’s talk about watermelon radishes. They are an heirloom variety of Daikon radish with a pretty pink root. Inside they are even prettier in pink! The center is a hot pink color while the edges are white and sometimes even green like the inside of a watermelon which I assume is where they got the name. They are sort of earthy sweet and perhaps a little peppery (but not nearly as sharp as regular little radishes.) I like slicing them up and adding them to our salads. They especially taste great with cucumbers!

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Next, let’s talk about sprouted watermelon seeds. These little guys remind me of sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds at the same time. They have a nutty flavor and, great news for us vegans, they like little superfoods. They are packed with minerals like iron and calcium, B vitamins, and pack a big protein punch. So next time someone asks me, “Where do you get your protein?”, I have a new answer. We have been popping handfuls of them and topping our daily salads with them.

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Try either or both of them and let me know what you think!

Book Report: Living The Farm Sanctuary Life (+ Bonus Recipe!)

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Here it is! The latest book from Gene Baur, the founder and president of Farm Sanctuary, is called “Living the Farm Sanctuary Life.” 

If you don’t know who Gene Baur is, here are some quotes from his official bio:

“Gene Baur has been hailed as “the conscience of the food movement”…A pioneer in the field of undercover investigations, Gene has visited hundreds of farms, stockyards, and slaughterhouses documenting their deplorable conditions…educating millions about the plight of modern farm animals.

Gene began his activist career selling veggie hotdogs out of a VW van at Grateful Dead concerts to fund farm animal rescues…and is currently Farm Sanctuary’s president. With shelters in New York and California, Farm Sanctuary provides rescue, refuge, and adoption for hundreds of farm animals each year, enabling visitors to connect with farm animals as emotional, intelligent individuals.

Gene believes these animals stand as ambassadors for the billions on factory farms who have no voice, and he has dedicated his career to advocating on their behalf.”

Gene is one cool dude. He even appeared on The Daily Show to promote his book! Watch Gene talk to Jon Stewart here.

If that doesn’t make you run out and buy the book, maybe this will. It is gentle but firm in it’s explanation of the treatment of animals, ethics around eating animals, and living a peaceful life.

It is full of heart warming stories about animals like Larry the cow and Monet and Matisse the ducks. It is full of life changing anecdotes about visitors to the farm who make the connection between animals and food and realize they can no longer eat them. People like Biz Stone, the founder of Twitter, and regular folks of all ages communing with cows, pigs, chickens and ducks, and realizing they are smart, emotional, friendly, and fun creatures that we should all get to know (and stop eating.)

It is full of startling medical facts and information around preventing and reversing many modern diseases like diabetes, obesity and certain cancers. And on top of it all, it’s got100 never-before-published recipes from some amazing vegan chefs.

I have read many books of this ilk and this is one that I thinks speaks to the masses in a non-preachy, matter of fact, and sweet way.

Gene’s major goal is to get the reader to consider Living the Farm Sanctuary Life. A life that is living in alignment with our values (love, peace, justice), engaging in a mindful connection with animals (not just our dogs and cats but cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, goats, and sheep and more!), engaging in a mindful connection with our food (knowing where it comes from, cooking it ourselves), eating plants for our own health (decreasing our risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer) and eating plants for the health of earth (the environment is depending on it!)

Check out this book right now! And because the folks over at Farm Sanctuary are so cool, they said I could post a recipe from the book. I am making these next taco Tuesday!

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Tacos with Salted Grilled Plantains, Salsa Verde, and Pepitas
Jason Wyrick, executive chef of The Vegan Taste
and author of Vegan Tacos

Says Jason: “If the tortilla is the soul of a taco, then the filling is the body, and fresh lime and spicy salsa are the life of it. It’s the fusion of all three of these components that makes tacos the perfect handheld meal. Because the traditional tortilla for a taco is only about 5 1/2″ in diameter, one serving is usually two or three tacos—or four if you’re hungry!”

Makes 12 tacos
Time to Make: 25 to 35 minutes

2 cups fresh masa (corn dough for making tortillas) or 12 small premade corn tortillas
2 medium semi-ripe plantains, peeled
1 tablespoon garlic-infused oil
Grated peel and juice of 2 limes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1 1/2 cups salsa verde
3/4 cup toasted pepitas
2 cups shredded red cabbage

Heat a grill, preferably using mesquite wood. If using a gas grill, bring to medium heat and add soaked mesquite chips in the smoking box.

(Lisa’s Note: we don’t have a grill. I will making these in my stovetop grill pan!)

While the grill is coming to temperature, make the tortillas. Bring a griddle or comal to medium heat. Lay plastic wrap over the bottom flap of your tortilla press. Take 2 to 21⁄2 tablespoons of the masa and form it into a ball. Lay this on the plastic wrap, just slightly off center toward the hinges of the press. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap at least the size of the tortilla press flap over the masa ball. Press down firmly until the masa is flat and you have a tortilla ready to be cooked. This takes a little practice, so if your first few tortillas don’t turn out right, simply re-form the dough into a ball and press it again. Make as many uncooked tortillas as your griddle can handle before laying them on the hot griddle. Typically this will be 2 to 4 tortillas. Make sure to press each tortilla in its own plastic wrap and keep them in the wrap until you are ready to lay them on the griddle. Remove the top layer of the plastic sheet. Flip the tortilla over and remove the other layer. Gently lay it on your griddle. Cook the first side for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until you see the edges of the tortilla change color. Flip the tortilla over and cook for 1 minute. Flip it back over one more time and cook it for another 30 seconds. Remove the tortillas from the heat, stacking them and keeping them covered so they don’t dry out.

(Lisa’s Note: I do not have a tortilla press (yet!) so I will make my basic corn tortillas or use sprouted ones.)

Brush the plantains with the oil. Grill them until they are heavily browned on both sides. Remove them from the grill and chop into bite-size pieces. Immediately toss them with the lime peel and juice and then the salt and chile powder.

To each tortilla, add the plantains, 2 tablespoons of the salsa verde, 1 tablespoon of the pepitas, and the cabbage.

Enjoy!

Matzo & Kite Hill Cream Cheese

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I have been transported to my pre-vegan days. During Passover our favorite thing in my house was to eat cream cheese on matzo. Well, yesterday I found Kite Hill’s Cream Cheese at Whole Foods along with organic whole wheat matzo and we are back in business!

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I have to say that hands down Kite Hill makes the best “cheese” product on the market. Their number one product is their ricotta cheese which, to me, is just like cottage cheese. It is so ridiculously good I almost can’t deal with how good it is but it is almost never available. Insert sad face here.  :(  In fact, the one time I did find it, I ate it out right of the container while we were shopping and there was nothing left for me to blog about.

Anyway, back to yesterday’s find. Kite Hill Cheeses are an exclusive product of Whole Foods. Every time we visit Whole Foods no matter where we are, I ask for Kite Hill. Any Kite Hill. Yesterday, the Lake Grove Whole Foods had the cream cheese – both the plain and chive versions. I bought both, of course.

Yahooooooooooo!

The cheese is made from almond milk so the texture is light and creamy. It is not as heavy as cashew based cheeses and the ingredients are super pure. Compared to other vegan cream cheeses, this wins hands down. Hands down. It’s creamy. It’s smooth. It’s real.

We have been planning our future cream cheese projects while munching on our matzo starting with cream cheese and jelly, cream cheese and tomatoes, and cream cheese and avocados. Not to mention cream cheese frosting, filling, and cream cheese based sauces. Oh the possibilities!

With the exception of the labels and packaging, which could use some serious help, I have only positive things to say about Kite Hill. I hope you find it soon in your local Whole Foods!

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Fran Costigan’s Coconut Macaroons

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Just in time for Passover. Macaroons! When we were little, my mother bought those macaroons in the can. I loved them. Today, I made Fran Costigan’s macaroons which are reminiscent, but better than, those old faves.

The original recipe is actually for chocolate-dipped macaroons but we opted for plain. If you are into that, go to Fran’s website and find the recipe here. You can also get her amazing book Vegan Chocolate which is unbelievably beautiful and full of amazing (and easier than you might think) chocolate recipes.

My son and I made these macaroons just now, kind of on a whim, so we had to use what we had on hand. I hope Fran, or as we affectionately call her, Grandma Fran, doesn’t mind! We used coconut palm sugar instead of granulated sugar and flax instead of chia. They came out great!

Note: These are gluten-free and oil free!

makes 12 macaroons

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons shredded coconut, divided
1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax + 3 tablespoons room temperature water)
1/4 cup coconut flour
7 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons coconut palm sugar, divided
3 tablespoons coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and toast in a 350 oven for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden. Pour off the coconut, line the baking sheet with parchment and keep the oven on.

Place the ground flax in a bowl and cover with water. Whisk together.

In a mixing bowl, combine the coconut flour, 7 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 cup of the toasted coconut.

Whisk the flax egg well and then mix in the vanilla and coconut milk. Pour the liquid into the coconut flour mixture and mix to combine very well.

Press the dough together using your hands.

In a small bowl, combine the extra sugar and coconut.

Use a 1 tablespoon ice cream scooper to make each macaroon and squeeze it into a ball making sure the dough sticks together. Roll each macaroon in the coconut/sugar mixture and then press it onto the baking sheet flattening it just a bit.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the bottoms are lightly browned.

Let cool. Enjoy!

Virgin America to Launch Vegan Airline

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Did you see this article in VegNews today? I totally believed it for an hour until I realized it was April 1st. Great story and wouldn’t it be great if it was real?? Happy April Fool’s Day!

Virgin America to Launch Vegan Airline
by Colleen Holland
VegNews
April 1, 2015

In a surprise move that shocked the airline industry, Virgin founder Richard Branson introduces Vegan America.

In what may be the biggest news story of 2015, Richard Branson made a stunning announcement yesterday outside his San Francisco-based Virgin America headquarters. The airline mogul said that on January 1, 2016, a new fleet of Virgin America airplanes will be rolled out in what the renegade entrepreneur calls “his most important innovation to date.” In exactly eight months, Branson will unveil a subsidiary of his wildly successful airline brand. The name of that subsidiary? Vegan America.

The Virgin Group founder, who owns more than 400 companies and has a net worth of $4.9 billion, told reporters how the idea for a vegan airline came to be. While hosting a CEO mastermind weekend at Necker Island (Branson’s private Caribbean retreat), he and pals Bill Gates, Al Gore, and Chinese investor Li Ka-shing went out for a sunset balloon ride. According to Branson, it was during that ride that he finally made the connection between factory farming and environmental destruction. “I’ve long been searching for solutions to combat global warming, an issue which is very close to my heart. When Bill and Al told me how many gallons of water it takes to create a single hamburger, I was flabbergasted. I knew at that moment that not only would I give up meat, but I needed to make a difference through business. Vegan America is the result of that revelation.”

Branson later told The New York Times that investor Ka-shing—who sunk $23 million into vegan food company, Hampton Creek, in 2014—further convinced him that a plant-based diet is the future. “Mr. Li has an exemplary track record of predicting cultural change, which is why he’s the richest man in Asia. As the sun set on that balloon ride around Necker, he looked me in the eye and said ‘Make no mistake. The end of meat is just years away. By 2050, the world will be vegan.’”

So how will Vegan America differ from sister company Virgin America? Branson enthusiastically described some of the key amenities, many of which he personally created:

  • Sleek pleather seats and plush wool-free blankets
  • An all-vegan snack selection including Justin’s peanut butter cups, Brad’s Raw kale chips, Earth Balance cheese crackers, Hail Merry macaroons, and Miyoko’s Kitchen artisan cheese
  • Made-to-order organic cocktails and bottled green juices (Branson likes Naked Juice)
  • In-flight feature films such as Fork Over Knives, An Inconvenient Truth, and Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead.

First-class travelers will fly in total vegan luxury, with such benefits as:

  • Seasonal chef-prepared meals prepared by celebrity vegan chef Tal Ronnen
  • A Vega smoothie cart for morning flights and a So Delicious ice cream sundae bar for afternoon and evening flights
  • A Matt & Nat-designed amenity kit complete with LUSH moisturizer, a toothbrush by Preserve, and a pair of knee-high socks emblazoned with the word “vegan”

Furthermore, flight attendants will don Stella McCartney-designed uniforms in Virgin’s signature red. And if you’re a member of the airline’s Elevate frequent flier program, you’ll be able to donate points to such organizations as Farm Sanctuary, Mercy For Animals, and the Humane Society of the United States.

As reporters questioned Branson on the mass marketability of an all-vegan airline, he spoke with great conviction. “I want my legacy to mean something and play a role in the future of our planet. I’m a billionaire several times over—I think I’ve proven myself. I want to make a statement with an all-vegan airline, and have fun while doing it.”

Immediately following the press conference, Branson was whisked away in a Tesla to the San Francisco Bay, where he swam from the Golden Gate Bridge to Alcatraz. With a school of dolphins in tow, of course.

VegNews’ co-founder Colleen Holland attended the historic press conference in San Francisco yesterday and spoke to Richard Branson about becoming the official magazine of the Vegan America fleet.

Taste Test: Soom Tahini

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Not all tahini is alike and there is something really special about Soom Tahini brought to you by The Soom Sisters. Their story goes like this:

“Soom Foods is here to Open Sesame! We are a Philadelphia-based, women-owned business of three “Soom” sisters— Shelby, Jackie and Amy— passionate about providing high quality, delicious and nutritious sesame products.

Our company vision started when Jackie’s husband, Omri, an international tahini expert, introduced the sisters to the unique flavor of this tahini made from Ethiopian sesame seeds. And when the sisters tasted Omri’s mother’s tahini carrot cake, they were inspired to introduce this sesame treasure to the American market as the next super food.

And Soom Foods believes in health, sustainability and philanthropy.”

This is my kind of company and their tahini is awesome!

The sesame tahini is just plain tahini perfection. The taste is mellow and almost sweet but not really. It’s better than any tahini I have ever had. I’m not kidding. Usually I just throw tahini in with hummus and that’s about it but there are so many benefits to eating tahini. It is full of protein, high in calcium, and Vitamin A. I really wanted a tahini I could get behind.

And well, then there is the chocolate version. Dessert tahini. It is better than Nutella. Let me say that again. It is better than Nutella! It is a great way to get a quick and healthy chocolate fix.

Hummus. Check.

Roasted cauliflower with tahini and date syrup. Check.

Salad dressing. Check.

Eat chocolate tahini right off the spoon. Check.

I need to figure out other ways to use this stuff! Here is a recipe I adapted from the Soom site for lemon tahini dressing. It is really good.

Lemon Tahini Dressing
2 lemons
2 tablespoons Soom tahini
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Juice the lemons. Whisk everything together all of the ingredients. Serve over your favorite salad. Enjoy!

Vegan Meringue!

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This happened in my kitchen today! Isn’t that gorgeous? It’s basic vegan meringue!!

The vegan blogosphere lit up with vegan meringue a few weeks ago. I first saw it on Somer McGowan’s Vedged Out Facebook page. She said that a guy called Goose Wohlt of the Facebook group “what fat vegans eat” started a chickpea brine (“aquafaba”) meringue craze! It was based on another guy called Joel Roessel’s post on “vegetale foam.” Vegan bloggers worldwide are experimenting using canned chickpea brine and sugar, beating it together until it formed stiff peaks, and calling it meringue.

To good to be true? I had to try for myself. Very rarely do I buy canned chickpeas so I figured I would try it after making my own chickpeas.

Last night, I soaked 1/2 cup of organic dried chickpeas in filtered water overnight. (See Beans, Beans.) Then, this morning, I drained them and rinsed them off. Then I dropped them into a pot and covered them with more filtered water, probably 1 1/2 cups. I brought it to a boil, skimmed the foam off the top, and then covered and cooked for 45 minutes, until the beans were al dente. Then I turned the flame off and let the chickpeas sit in the water until they cooled off completely.

Now for the meringue.

I poured off 1 cup of chickpea brine and dropped it into the bowl of my stand mixer. Then I added 1/2 cup vegan cane sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. I attached the wire whip to the mixer and turned it on low. Then I let it rip on the highest level and eventually the mixture turned white and fluffy! I think it took about 10 minutes.

I have never used meringue so I didn’t know what to do with it! It was kind of like whipped cream or a thin and fluffy marshmallow fluff. Hmm. That’s something to think about. So is lemon meringue pie and Baked Alaska. But for today, we simply cut up some fresh strawberries and blueberries and topped them with a little meringue.

Vegan Meringue
1 cup chickpea brine (aquafaba)
1/2 cup vegan cane sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place all ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer. Attach the wire whip and let it rip until stiff peaks form.

A hand mixer will work fine but may take longer. Enjoy!

Brilliant Oatmeal Pancakes (Gluten-free & Oil Free)

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Melissa over at Tastymakes came up with these brilliant Crazy Easy Vegan GF Pancakes. When they are cooking, they smell just like a big bowl of oatmeal!

Five ingredients. Gluten-free. Oil free. And whipped up in the Vitamix.

We love eating these for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Note: This batter gets thick fast so I like to pour it right out into a bowl. Then I use my tablespoon measure to make 12 to 13 silver dollars.

1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
Scant 3/4 cup filtered water (or plant milk)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place all ingredients into the Vitamix and let it rip for a minute. Pour into a mixing bowl.

Heat up a nonstick skillet and use a tablespoon measure to portion out pancakes. Flip over when bubbles start to pop on the top.

Enjoy with maple syrup or whatever else you like on your pancakes or bowl of oats. Enjoy!

My 4-Year Blogiversary & My Must Have Small Kitchen Gadgets

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I can’t believe I am still blogging four years later! Thanks for your interest in and enthusiasm for everything I post. I love talking to you all and making new friends out in the blogosphere. Also, through this blog, I have had the opportunity to review cookbooks and restaurants and test out new vegan products. What a joy!

My vegan cooking project sure has come a long way. As I have gotten more proficient in the kitchen, I have come to realize that having the right tools are the keys to success. Last year, I highlighted my top 5 kitchen gadgets. This year, I listed my must have small kitchen gadgets.

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1. Stainless steel citrus squeezer
I love my citrus squeezer and use it multiple times a day. I used to have an enamel one but it started to peel so I replaced it with this amazing, stainless steel squeezer that is, quite frankly, so much better.

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2. Garlic press
I love my garlic press. It is super strong so I don’t even have to peel the garlic cloves.

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3. Small spoonulas
My son and I like to find colorful kitchen tools and he picked out these “spoonulas” at Williams Sonoma. Mine is the yellow one; his is the orange one. They are perfect for scraping out the Vitamix and mixing other things together too.

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4. Ice cream scoopers
I cannot live without these. Great for meatballs. Great for cupcakes. Great for cookies. The one on the left is a 4 tablespoon scoop and the one on the right is a 1 tablespoon scoop. 

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5. Two (2) sets of measuring spoons
I have to have two sets of measuring spoons. It just makes life easier when making a recipe that calls for the same measure of different ingredients.

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6. Mini whisk
I love this little baby. Great for small batch marinades and mixes.

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7. Chain Mail Scrubber for Cast Iron
This is how I clean my cast iron skillet.

I am sure I will find some new gadgets to play with in the future. What are your must have and most utilized gadgets?