Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Way of the Happy Woman

The Way of the Happy Woman isn't the typical type of book I review on Hugger Food.  I tend to stick to cookbooks, specifically vegan ones.  However, when the publisher approached me about this book that contains vegetarian and vegan recipes in addition to self-care and yoga practices, my interest was piqued.

The book is split into 4 parts, one part for each season.  Each part contains a message centering on the meaning and intentions of that season, a one-day retreat, a group of recipes, a yin yoga practice, a flow yoga practice, a meditation, and a reflection.

I focused on autumn, the chapter for which is introduced with a few pages discussing change, diving into one's heart, and staying grounded.  There are instructions for daily self-massage with oil and for a beautiful full-day, at-home, technology-free retreat.  The author spells out the entire retreat day, so it's easy to follow without temptation to stray.

The recipe section has a list of foods that best support health during the season and continues with a couple recipes each for breakfast, lunch, snacks, beverages, dinner, and dessert.  I made a lovely Apple Walnut Quinoa Porridge fully of omega-3-rich flax seeds and warming cinnamon (I also added ginger).  It's the perfect start to an autumn day.  There's a Spiced Apple Cider recipe that I'm sure would be wonderful to sip in front of a lit fireplace on a chilly night.

Being a yogini, I love the inclusion of 2 different yoga practices.  Asanas (yoga poses) are sketched out in order in stick figure form, which is how I was taught to create a practice back when I was in yoga teacher training.  I think the stick figures would be difficult to follow for a newer yoga student, but that is just my perception.

I'm looking forward to experiencing the other three seasons through the guidance of The Way of the Happy Woman.  I enjoy the insight around seasonal rituals, self-care, and healthy eating that the author imparts.

As an aside, The Way of the Happy Woman's publisher, New World Library, is the publisher behind Christine Arylo's Choosing Me Before We and John Robbins's Diet for a New America.  Christine Arylo is a frequent contributor to Mastin Kipp's The Daily Love website and is a huge proponent of treating oneself well as a constant practice (her brand-new book is Madly in Love with Me).

Diet for a New America's 35th Anniversary Edition will be published next month!  I vividly recall reading this book on a flight to New York City two-and-a-half months after becoming vegetarian on October 10, 1998.  For many, it's the book that created the opening to vegetarianism and veganism.  From the publisher:  "In Section I, Robbins takes an extraordinary look at our dependence on animals for food and the inhumane conditions under which these animals are raised. Section II challenges the belief that consuming meat is a requirement for health by pointing out the vastly increased rate of disease caused by pesticides, hormones, additives, and other chemicals now a routine part of our food production. Finally, in Section III, Robbins looks at the global implications of a meat-based diet and concludes that the consumption of the resources necessary to produce meat is a major factor in our ecological crisis."  I have been recommending it for 14 years now and I know it's loved by many, so I'm grateful it continues to be updated as years pass.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Chloe's Kitchen

According to Chloe Coscarelli's Facebook page, today is her 25th birthday.  In honor of her reaching the quarter-century mark, I bring you this post about a birthday dinner I made for someone in my life a few weeks ago.

I perused many cookbooks and many recipes to choose the perfect birthday meal and the end result was a three-part meal I created from Chloe's Kitchen.

For dinner, we had Garlicky Greens and Penne alla Vodka.  I omitted the garlic from the greens this time because the pasta also contained garlic.  The greens were wonderful, with a little heat from red pepper flakes, and the brightness of fresh lemon juice.  The pasta was incredibly delicious; I had never eaten penne alla vodka before and I loved the creamy, tangy sauce.   

Dessert was Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes.  I was surprised that a dessert so decadent was so easy to make.  I very quickly whipped up the batter and arranged it in ramekins before making dinner, then popped them in the oven while we were watching a movie.  One of the best aspects of this recipe is that the prepared ramekins will keep in the freezer for up to a month, so even though I only made two cakes that night, four more could be waiting in the freezer for a nearly instant dessert next time I have company.  Fantastic!

I have many other recipes bookmarked to make in Chloe's Kitchen.  There is a nice variety, the book structure is well-organized, the photos of the food are lovely, and the ingredients are easy to find.  Chloe also writes with an exuberant voice and her enthusiasm for food is evident.

Chloe has managed a feat I haven't seen another vegan cookbook author achieve yet:  international publicity.  Her father is a filmmaker and (I am making a huge assumption here and I could be absolutely incorrect) I am assuming he has been able to get her access to a great agent/manager team.  Her sweet-as-pie personality, youthful beauty, and the fact that she was the first vegan baker to win on Cupcake Wars likely add to her on-screen appeal.  Bravo to Chloe for being able to break the barrier and for bringing vegan cuisine and cookbooks to a much larger audience.  Some of her media appearances can be seen here:

Today Show

The Doctors

The Talk

The Better Show

Makeover Your Meals with Chloe Coscarelli

She also appeared on VH1, CNBC, The Talk, and ABC 7 in San Francisco, and made a recent television appearance in Canada.

I also have a funny small-world-LA story about Chloe.  Around four or five years ago, I took a Spork Foods cooking class and a Madeleine Bistro cooking class with Chloe's mom (who is also prominently featured in Chloe's Kitchen).  Chloe was away at college at the time and was adding vegan recipes to her arsenal so she could cook for Chloe when she was home on school breaks.  Little did either of us know that Chloe would write and publish a cookbook and go on to be a highly-visible vegan ambassador!

Happy birthday, Chloe!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Vegan Cuts FeedYourFace Caramels

Have you signed up for Vegan Cuts yet?  Started by a vegan couple, it's a site (similar to Groupon and LivingSocial) providing discounts on vegan products to help consumers discover new cruelty-free companies.  In addition to daily deals, Vegan Cuts offers a marketplace featuring deals on vegan food, fashion, and body care. 

Vegan Cuts approached me a couple weeks ago to review a new line of coconut milk-based caramels by Etsy store FeedYourFace.  Being the caramel-loving vegan I am, I happily accepted and received a package containing a huge variety of delicious caramels.  When I say "variety," I'm not whistling Dixie.  Check out this list of flavors:
Hawaiian red sea salt
dark chocolate Hawaiian red sea salt
pumpkin spice
dark chocolate pumpkin spice
double ginger
lavender brown sugar
lemongrass coconut
blood orange
spicy mango
pomegranate balsamic
green tea chai
spicy (cinnamon/chipotle) dark chocolate
vanilla-orange creamsicle
carrot cake
dark chocolate orange
limited edition mulled apple cider

The caramels are soft and each one has a distinct essence.  The simple vanilla caramel delivers just as much flavor as the exotic spicy mango.  A note on the FeedYourFace site indicates that the caramels hold up well in the fridge and freezer, so they're easy to store for a sweets fix. 

FeedYourFace is also an eco-friendly company, packaging the caramels in biodegradable, compostable bags and wrappers and filling the shipping box with recycled and recyclable shredded paper.

Vegan Cuts is now offering a discount on this caramel sampler that brings the price down from $22 to $14.99.  It's a great opportunity to support one vegan company, through another vegan company while also getting something delicious to eat!  To take it one step further, Vegan Cuts is offering Hugger Food readers an additional 10% off your order (not including shipping) through Halloween 2012 by using the code BLOGFRIEND at checkout.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Sexy Vegan

Brian Patton, also known as "The Sexy Vegan," has been getting a lot of attention lately.  He's been featured on The Huffington Post and Compassion Over Killing's website, chosen as one of the Top 10 Books on, reviewed on TreeHugger, and countless vegan blogs (recipes included in all these links).   There is also a fantastic Q&A wherein he names LA's own Madeleine Bistro's Red Beet Tartare as the sexiest thing he's ever eaten.

Brian's goal is to educate about veganism through one of the most accessible means possible:  Humor.  His brand of humor is pretty base, which is to be expected from the book's subtitle:  "Extraordinary Food from an Ordinary Dude."  Some of the recipes have ridiculous titles, like his signature dish My Balls (tempeh meatballs) and The Girlfriend's Favorite Salad That She Constantly Asks Me to Make and Won't Shut the Hell Up About, but many have run-of-the-mill titles like Minestrone.  There's something for everyone here, from breakfast dishes to sandwiches to traditional entrees to snacks like Jalapeno Poppers (I can't wait to try these) and alcoholic beverages for those of you who imbibe.  I'm impressed by the depth of this book that's only slightly masked by Brian's signature off-color jokes.

Another important aspect of this book is that it is full of QR Codes, those small black-and-white squares that you can scan with a smart phone if you have one.  Brian's QR Codes link the reader to a video demonstrating the corresponding recipe.  Cool, right?  His website is also full of recipe videos.

I have made two of Brian's dishes so far:  The above-pictured Sambar, a beautifully-spiced Indian-inspired stew, and The Almond Brothers Breakfast Bar, a homemade granola bar that I forgot to photograph.  Each recipe was quick to prepare and full of flavor.  I'm excited to continue cooking my way through this book and encourage you to do the same.     

Brian is making an appearance at WorldFest this Sunday, May 20, if you will be in Los Angeles.  Their website describes WorldFest as "a solar-powered celebration of music, the environment, animals and humanity."  It's always a day of basking in the sun with friends (and family) while enjoying a huge variety of vegan food, listening to empowering speakers, seeing food demos by favorite vegan chefs and cookbook authors.  Please go and take your friends and family with you!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Let Them Eat Vegan!

Dreena Burton's long-awaited new cookbook, Let Them Eat Vegan!, is now available in all its glory.  If you purchased the book between April 30 and May 6, she is even offering a fun contest for prizes!  Just use this link and follow the rules.

Since I was one of the lucky recipe testers for LTEV, I know first hand how wonderful the recipes are.  Check out my VeganMofo posts from November 2010 for tons of photos from my recipe testing for this book.  The above is a refreshing and nourishing Goji Strawberry Smoothie.  LTEV is full of healthy, whole foods recipes that are also delicious and creative.  There are no processed ingredients and many allergen-free recipes to suit all palates.  I've loved these recipes for nearly two years now and am so excited for you to be able to enjoy them, as well!     

Saturday, March 24, 2012

I Am Sustained & Immortal

You'll often find me at Cafe Gratitude for lunch or dinner, but it's uncommon that I'll treat myself to breakfast. Today was an exception and I began my day with a phenomenal bowl of I Am Sustained (steamed quinoa with fresh strawberries, bananas, apples, goji berries, cinnamon, maple syrup, and coconut milk) and a nice warm cup of I Am Immortal (Immune system enhancing, consciousness expanding, ancient tonifying elixir made from Reishi, Shilajit and Ormus. Served hot with coconut milk and raw honey (I order it without the honey.)).

I'm always so taken with simple preparation of food that truly showcases its freshness and natural vibrancy. After savoring every bite of I Am Sustained, I decided I will start making myself similar breakfasts as regularly as possible. I eat both breakfast and lunch at work Monday through Friday and it would be easy for me to create a breakfast grain bowl to eat at my desk. I love when a restaurant meal inspires me in my daily life!

I also took home a wonderful raw quinoa crispy treat called I Am Truth (quinoa, coconut flakes, dates, coconut butter, vanilla, lucuma, and salt), which is one of the best desserts I've ever had at Cafe Gratitude (and I've tried almost all of them).

Monday, March 19, 2012

Celebrate Vegan

When Dynise Balcavage's new book, Celebrate Vegan: 200 Life-Affirming Recipes for Occasions Big and Small, arrived in my mailbox, I read through it trying to decide which of her featured occasions I should celebrate first. Would it be my birthday, Cinco de Mayo? What about Nowruz or Festivus or the recent St. Patrick's Day or Tea Time? With so many marvelous options, I was having difficulty choosing. Then, an extremely persistent upper respiratory virus permeated the armor of my self-proclaimed immune system of steel. I've been steadfastly battling this virus, which seems to be compounded with a very bad allergy attack, for well over a week now.

I've barely eaten anything other than toast in the past week, but last night, I wanted soup. I started flipping through this cookbook and found that one of Dynise's celebrations is none other than...Sick Day! The Sick Day menu is three-fold: Ginger Tea, Minimal Pastina with Spinach (soup), and Baked Apples. I made all three and enjoyed warming comfort food in under 20 minutes.

Dynise is a very gifted story-teller and each of Celebrate Vegan's recipes is introduced with an anecdote. The menus are thoughtfully and creatively put together with two indexes that make navigating the book a dream. I've bookmarked many other recipes and the only question remaining is what should I celebrate next?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Manifest Vegan Recipe Testing

Last year, I was fortunate to be able to test recipes for Allyson Kramer's (of Manifest Vegan fame) upcoming cookbook, Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats. Since my mom has Celiac disease, I was able to share a lot of these treats with her. Here's a preview of what to expect from this fantastic volume.

Spicy Sesame Noodles

Chocolate Muffins (My mom has repeatedly requested these since I first made them.)

Stuffed Cabbage

Banana Bread Scones

Roasted Cauliflower
(with a secret ingredient!)

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Kasha Breakfast Bars

Almond Butter Cups

Mochaccino Milkshake

Lemon Biscotti

Pumpkin Chili

Cherry Vanilla Bean Pancakes

Sweetheart Cookies

Cheesy Broccoli Soup

Coconut Rice with Peaches & Rum Raisins

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mac 'n' Cabbage Polenaise

I'm missing photographs for the Minted Green Pea Bisque, Cashew Cream, Chocolate Hazelnut Butter, Tofu Feta Crumbles, Butterscotch Amaretti, and Creamsicle Smoothie. The book is due to be published on July 1, 2012, but Allyson has just posted several sneak peek recipes to tide us over in the meantime.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sinfully Vegan

Lois Dieterly released a revised and updated version of Sinfully Vegan last year. I've had the original probably since it's 2003 release and it has the distinct honor of containing the recipe that convinced my brother that soy milk is awesome. I made the Orange Creamsicle Smoothie for Mother's Day brunch many years ago and it tasted just like the Orange Julius drinks of our childhood.

One aspect I love about this book is that there are savory recipes in addition to dessert recipes. I definitely plan to make the Peach Salsa with Tortilla Triangles at some point. There are decadent recipes and healthful recipes, classic recipes and nontraditional ones. So far, I've prepared three recipes from the new version and each one has been lovely.

Peaches 'N' Cream Ice Cream (topped with test recipe granola from Dreena Burton's upcoming cookbook Let Them Eat Vegan)

Peanut Butter Balls (these were a gigantic hit at work)

Not pictured is the Rich Hot Cocoa, which is my go-to vegan hot cooca recipe and is omnivore approved. I'm looking forward to trying the many recipes I've marked in this book and to continuing to share the deliciousness.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Appetite for Reduction

I've been busily cooking from Appetite for Reduction since I received it at the end of 2010. What stopped me from not posting about it until now was that I kept thinking "It doesn't make sense to write about it yet because I still want to make this recipe and this one and this one..." Clearly, that type of logic could go on infinitely with a book this great.

Forty-Clove Chickpeas & Broccoli

Hottie Black-Eyed Peas & Greens

Upside-Down Lentil Shepherd's Pie (atop a test recipe for Manifest Vegan's mashed potatoes)

Black Bean, Zucchini, & Olive Tacos

Although I can't find a photo in my archives, I also made the Arabian Lentil & Rice Soup. Each recipe I've prepared from this book has been healthful, satisfying, and flavorful and there are numerous recipes on my want-to-make list. I'm pleased that Isa Chandra Moskowitz took into consideration the desire some people have for low-fat cuisine (in the past, I've always eliminated the oil from the recipes in Vegan with a Vengeance, Veganomicon, and Vegan Brunch) and that she thought to not include a dessert chapter in this book (I love dessert; it just makes sense to not include a dessert chapter in a cookbook of this nature). Her creativity and variety are wonderfully showcased in this volume and I can't wait to taste what's next.