Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Many of you asked about my extremely cool Lotus Sanitizing System that I highlighted in my last post. It was a gift my mom got me from my Amazon wish list for the holidays last December (thank you again, Mom!). You can find it on Amazon here. I'm loving this system so far. It's really nice to bring fresh fruits and veggies home, run them through the system (the process takes about 5-7 minutes), and put them in the fridge to grab quickly later.

With my birthday coming up on Monday, I just might have some other Amazon wish list goodies to share with you soon! A girl can dream, right?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Day of Firsts

Last Saturday was a day of firsts for me. The fabulous Bazu, who is incredibly generous, sent me a packet of her sourdough starter (along with an adorable origami animal touting veganism). After reading the extensive instructions, I revived the starter, allowing it to work overnight, and baked some amazing biscuits with it Saturday morning. I admit that I was shocked when the starter actually worked for me; I expected it to fail due to my inexperience. Since I generally don't consume white flour (these were made with unbleached all-purpose flour), these biscuits tasted extremely decadent with some organic raspberry spread from Trader Joe's. Thank you, again, Bazu!

Next on the list was my first visit to Juliano's Raw. My friend R is considering a raw diet because she has horrendous, chronic migraines, so we planned a trip to try this restaurant together. The restaurant is unassuming with a plethora of raw food supplies and goodies for sale. The seats had cushions on them to make us cozy. We started off with a gorgeous and sweet waiter, who was unfortunately prompted to take a break by the waitress who was on staff that day. The reason I consider this unfortunate is that our waitress was incredibly rude and dismissive. R has a long list of foods she's not supposed to eat because of her migraines, among them nuts, which are raw food staples. So, we had a lot of questions for this waitress and she was quite impatient and decidedly unhelpful.

Now that I've gotten that complaint out of the way, let me tell you that the food at Raw is absolutely delicious! R and I split the kale chips, which I forgot to photograph in all the excitement. It's difficult to conjure appropriate words to describe exactly how incredibly scrumptious those kale chips were. They were chewy and a bit sticky from the delectable sauce that coated them. I could taste ginger and probably Bragg's in the sauce, but I couldn't put my finger on much else. When we asked Miss Unhelpful, she brought us a container of brownish powder without an ingredient-containing label. That was the best she could do to tell us what was in these kale treats. If I could eat those every day, I'd be an extremely happy girl.

For my entree, I chose the Green Curry Pasta (from the menu: Zucchini Pasta Mixed with an Amazing Thai Nut Curry Kream Topped with Coco-Noodles). You can see from the photo how beautiful this dish is (and imagine if I'd been using a real camera as opposed to my cell phone). The zucchini pasta was about the thickness of angel hair, possibly a bit thinner, and was coated in a spicy, creamy, deeply-flavored curry sauce. I was loathe to share even one bite of this dish with R, but I offered it up with a smile anyway. On top were noodles made of coconut with a texture that was a mix between fruit leather and corn tortilla. They were fabulous in their own right. There was a purple cabbage salad and broccoli that had been heated to the extent that raw food allows heating. Those vibrant swirls of sauce on the plate were as flavorful as they were colorful. Can you tell that I loved this dish every bit as much as I loved those kale chips? Again, I could eat this every day.

To cap off this amazing lunch, R and I got shakes. Mine was chocolate (from the menu: Sapote/Cherimoya, Carob, Cacao, Fresh Vanilla Bean, Honey & Nut Mylk). When I asked Miss Unhelpful if the shake could be made without honey, she volunteered agave syrup instead. I was shocked and very pleased that she understood what I was asking, temporarily earning her a reprieve from the moniker I've bestowed upon her. My shake had a very deep chocolate flavor and wonderful crunchy and chewy things on top (from the menu: Goji, Cacao, Dried Blueberries, Buckies & More (the more seeming to be finely chopped nuts and fresh mint leaves)). Wow, was that good. R got a strawberry shake, which you can see in the background. I tasted a bit of it and can tell you that it was fresh and extremely flavorful.

Be forewarned, Raw is not an inexpensive dining experience. With tip, this meal for two cost us $62. Neither one of us is made of money, so we won't be dining at Raw often, but we truly enjoyed this experience. We already have plans to try another Santa Monica raw restaurant in the (hopefully) near future.

After R and I finished lunch, we took our first trip to the Santa Monica Co-Op. I've been wanting to check out this store for ages, but it's nowhere near my home or office. Fortunately, it's near Raw and made for an easy drive up the street. R and I spent a solid hour and a half perusing the aisles, filling tiny baggies with different things in the bulk spices section (pumpkin pie spice and chia seeds for me), finding raw and gluten-free goodies for her to try and educating her on different vegan foods of which she was previously unaware. We had a great time and I'm looking forward to going back (next time, armed with a grocery list)!

On a refrigerated shelf at the Co-Op, I found these single-serving containers of young coconut water. I'd never tried it before, but I've heard that it's a very healthful beverage, so I bought one. I have to say that it wasn't the best beverage I've ever consumed and I probably wouldn't buy it again. It didn't taste like coconut to me and I felt like I was drinking something sweet and watered-down. I'd just rather have water than a sweet, watery drink.

R and I eventually parted ways and I headed to my local Trader Joe's, where I bought Asian pears. These are probably the most fragrant fruits I've ever smelled. They taste sweet and have a pear-like texture. I prefer the crispness of apples, but these are a very nice change of pace.

Last on my list of firsts for that Saturday, was my first use of the Lotus sanitizing system I received as a holiday gift last December (yes, I'm a bit behind). I got home from Trader Joe's and immediately washed my apples and Asian pears in this fancy contraption. The website says that the system "infuses cold tap water with an extra oxygen atom, creating a natural sanitizer," killing bacteria and viruses and neutralizing pesticides. The water smells a bit odd once the machine has processed it, but if it works, I'm all for it!

Foodeater and I went to lunch at Madeleine Bistro today as an early celebration of our May birthdays. Mine is May 5 and I'll let her tell you about hers. It was a fantastic meal and a blog post will be coming sometime soon!

Friday, April 25, 2008

In a Galaxy Far, Far Away...

The cool people over at Galaxy Foods noticed that I was feeling left out and offered to send me some of their vegan goods to sample and review! Thanks, Galaxy Foods! So, this lucky vegan blogger received a cooler box containing a block of vegan soy cheddar cheese and a package of vegan rice pepper jack cheese slices. They even said they're going to send me hummus in May! I haven't had a chance to try the cheddar yet, but I ate a slice of the pepper jack as soon as the package arrived a week or so ago. The texture is reminiscent of the American cheese slices of many people's youth, but the flavor is really good. I really enjoyed this spicy, creamy cheese.

Tonight, after a long and exhausting week, I came home and made a quesadilla with the pepper jack slices (they didn't really melt) between two brown rice tortillas from Trader Joe's (I love these tortillas, even if they don't heat very well; hence the curling edges). The photo is crummy, but this dinner really hit the spot! My mom used to make us quesadillas on the nights she didn't feel like cooking, so this was pure comfort food for me.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Herbivore Dinner and Dessert Testers

I had a day of many "firsts" on Saturday, but the last few days have been incredibly hectic and I'm too tired to write a long post. Instead, I bring you recipes that I tested last night for Happy Herbivore:

Baked bean flautas with fat free sour cream (see Happy Herbivore's post about the same dish using 2 different kinds of beans here; mine only used one kind of bean)

Oatmeal raisin cookies (Happy Herbivore posted about these here)

Both recipes had incredibly delicious results and I admit that I surprised myself by really enjoying the fat free sour cream, as I never cared for sour cream pre-veganism. I'm going to have to give away most of the cookies so I don't eat them all!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Spork Foods: Southeast Asian Cuisine

My apologies for how late I am posting this entry. I spent my Easter Sunday with the fabulous Jenny of Spork Foods, learning all about vegan Southeast Asian cuisine. It is such a treat to take one of Jenny's classes. She has an enormous heart and a wealth of knowledge to impart. In this class, she prepared:

Fragrant Coconut Tofu Soup

Sweet and Sour Tempeh with Peppers and Carrots

Rice Noodles with Spinach and a Tangy Peanut Sauce

Caramelized Banana Spring Rolls

I am so fortunate!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tester Oatmeal

I often eat oatmeal for dinner on weeknights because it's quick, filling, and comforting. This, however, is not my usual dinner concoction. It's a fabulous oatmeal I tested for the Happy Herbivore cookbook!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Green with Envy

I landed in Phoenix, AZ on Good Friday last month and left very early in the morning on Easter Sunday. I was there for the Angels' spring training and knew that I would eat as many meals at Green as possible. This vegan girl knew ahead of time that there was so much to try at Green and so little time! Just check out their menu and you'll know what I mean. I'd eaten dinner there once last year when I was out for spring training and I brought home a feast for a little Oscar viewing party the next night, so I'd already gotten a taste. I can't wait to go back!

Good Friday night dinner:

Green's line was literally out the door!

My fabulous Original "G" Spicy Po-Boy (From menu: Spicy Buffalo mock chicken with carrots, lettuce, tomato, and roasted jalapeno vegan mayo. Served with thyme fries). This sandwich was spicy and flavorful with chewy faux chicken on soft bread. My only question is why are these called thyme fries when I can't taste any thyme? They're tasty, crispy shoestring fries, but no thyme flavor whatsoever.

My dinner companion's Mum's Meatball Po-Boy (From menu: Our mock meatballs cooked in 'mum's' tomato sauce topped with melted mock mozzarella). This was also very yummy, especially the tomato sauce.

For dessert (something I'd been looking forward to since my visit last year!), I had a Tsoynami (Green's fierce competition for DQ's Blizzard), which is made with Green's homemade vegan soft serve! They had vanilla that day and a multitude of mix-ins from which to choose. My selections were Newman's Ginger-O's, chocolate chips, and a ribbon of peanut butter. Oh, yes, it was as incredibly delicious as it sounds!

I got take-out for the ball game the next day and completely forgot to photograph the evidence before eating it! First up were the Samosas (From menu: Curried potatoes, peas, carrots, and fresh garlic wrapped in a thin fried samosa with tamarind dipping sauce). These were quite greasy, which was unfortunate because both the filling and the dipping sauce were amazing! I also got the Green Hummus, as I'd forgotten that I'd tried this last year for the Oscar feast. Had I remembered that I'd previously tasted it, I wouldn't have ordered it again. Despite the fact that the menu described it as a "garlicky poblano and chickpea spread," it was surprisingly lacking in flavor and I really didn't like that it was served with fried pita as opposed to fresh. What's more is that there was a pool of olive oil on top of the hummus and I really didn't think it needed all that extra fat right on top. Their hummus is ok, but not worth ordering when there are so many other wonderful-sounding options to try!

Saturday night dinner:

We shared the Jerk Tofu Salad (From menu: Jerk spiced house tofu over fresh greens tossed in Jamaican jungle dressing). The texture of the tofu was excellent. It had a good bite, a nice crispy exterior, and a firm interior. I didn't taste any spice on the tofu itself, despite the menu description, though. The dressing was good, but I would've preferred more spice and a little less garlic in it. I would order this again.

We also shared the Classic Pizza, topped with their "homemade tomato sauce with vegan mozzarella cheese." The crust was thin and crispy, the vegan mozzarella seemed to be Follow Your Heart brand, and the tomato sauce was the same yummy sauce from the meatball sub. This was a very satisfying pizza. Yum!

The Sopranos Amaretto Soda (not mine).

My Tsoynami that night was the same as the first night with the addition of marshmallows. I expected a ribbon of Ricemellow Creme, but it was chunks of Vegan Sweets marshmallows instead. This was still great, but the chunks of marshmallows didn't add anything. I would've preferred it without them.

Just to prove that Green really is green, this is a shot from their powder room. ;)

If you're ever in the Phoenix area, please eat at Green! Their staff is so sweet and their food is amazing. They definitely deserve the business.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I'm a Tester!

I can't tell you how long I've been waiting to become a cookbook recipe tester. So many bloggers have been the fortunate testers for so many cookbooks now and it's finally my turn! I am honored to be one of the testers for Happy Herbivore's upcoming cookbook. Expect to see many tester recipes on this blog until the testing is complete!

Raspberry Cream Cheese Muffins

Crispy Chickenless Nuggets


Good Eats!

I'm a big fan of the Food Network and the show Good Eats with Alton Brown. Lately, I've seen a plethora of single-subject episodes centered around veggies, fruits, legumes, and grains. While the recipes themselves aren't necessarily vegetarian or vegan, the episodes deliver great information and, usually, veganizable recipes. For example, I just watched the lentil episode that I had on my DVR and it provided a cookie recipe using cooked and pureed red lentils! I'm definitely going to try that. Once the butter is replaced with Earth Balance, they're vegan cookies!

Other episodes to check out include:


This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but I wanted to point out a few specific episodes for you.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Veggie Queen

Consider me jealous. Many of my fellow vegan bloggers have been the lucky recipients of oodles of free vegan food recently. So far, I've counted 4 who have received a plethora of free vegan products (faux cheese and hummus, I believe) from Galaxy Foods: Get Sconed!, A Veg*n For Dinner, Melomeals, and Eden in the Kitchen. Then, there are the 2 who were gifted with Lightlife products: Eat Air (who got a similar package last year, as many, many others did) and Melomeals. (Don't even get me started on the many fortunate people who got Wheeler's Black Label ice cream!) Mind you, those are only the ones who've blogged about their free goodies (so far) and I might have even missed some, so there might be a lot more people who got such packages. Please don't think I begrudge any of these wonderful bloggers their bounty. On the contrary, I'm quite pleased that vegan companies (or, should I say, companies that make vegan products) are seeking out vegan bloggers to test their products. I see that as a win-win situation because maybe the companies will take the bloggers' critique to heart and produce even better vegan products. However, I feel left out and would love to be part of the game. Just like elementary school. Ok, maybe I didn't always want to be part of the game back then.

Way back in February, though, the Veggie Queen, Jill Nussinow, offered to send me a copy of her cookbook, The Veggie Queen:
Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment
. Of course, I eagerly accepted her generous offer and was very excited to be singled out by her. Since I generally read cookbooks cover-to-cover like novels, it took me until late March to find time to read it.

Jill has an earth mother quality that comes through in her writing and thoroughly expresses her love of veggies. I definitely learned about some varieties of veggies that were new to me. I'm not sure that I'd be able to find a lot of those same varieties at my local Farmers' Market, but probably at the larger Los Angeles-area Farmers' Markets. I found a few typos, which I've learned is not uncommon in cookbooks (much to this natural-born editor's chagrin). The only one that was a big deal was on page 6 in the Roasted Potato, Mushroom and Asparagus Salad, which gives instructions for beets, but doesn't list them in the ingredients list and omits any instructions for the potatoes. When I mentioned that to her, she sent me the recipe and indicated that this is only an issue with the second printing of the book.

She mentioned Beano in the book, which gave me pause since Beano is not a vegetarian product, but then I realized that this is not a vegetarian cookbook; it's a vegetable cookbook and there is a difference. She did a very nice job explaining legumes and gave great tips on preparing them. I had no idea that there were certain ones that fell into an "heirloom" category. Until I read this book, I'd only heard of certain tomatoes being referred to as heirloom. (I'm assuming that those of you who garden knew this, but I am not a gardener.)

The pressure cooking section was also really good. I don't have a pressure cooker and I found her tips on how to choose one and which she's prefer to be very good. She even stated which brands and sizes were best.

I've made 2 recipes so far: Wilted Lemon Spinach and Carrots with Honey, Lime, and Dill (I made mine with agave nectar and left out the dill, which is not my favorite herb). They were both very good ways to showcase their respective veggies. Sometimes simple preparation is best and I enjoyed both these recipes.

Receiving this book was a huge treat for me. I absolutely LOVE getting packages and mail, so I was very excited when this book arrived for me. Thank you again, Jill, and I'm looking forward to trying more of your recipes!

Oh, in the photograph, you'll see a spread on my toast. It's the Chipotle Lime Two-Bean Hummus from ED&BV and it's really good! I've enjoyed it on toast and as a dip for raw baby carrots. I was expecting it to be far smokier and spicier since the word "chipotle" is in the title, but it only calls for a small amount of chipotle hot sauce. In fact, this hummus is a bit on the sweet side, if you ask me. Next time, maybe I'll use a chipotle in adobo sauce, as well.