Cookbook Review: Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease and a Cookie Recipe!

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Vegan-Ease by Laura Theodore

I’m so thrilled and honored that I was asked to review Laura Theodore’s latest cookbook, “Vegan-Ease: An Easy Guide to Enjoying a Plant-Based Diet.” I’ve been a fan of Laura Theodore, a.k.a. The Jazzy Vegetarian, for a long time! I’ve listened to her radio show and watched her cooking show and checked out her other cookbooks — you name it. As someone that has been involved in some capacity with the arts since childhood, I’ve always appreciated she incorporates her own passion for jazz music into her calling to share delicious, healthy vegan food with the masses.

After going through this cookbook page by page, I literally got out pen and paper and made a list of all the great features of Vegan-Ease so that I didn’t forget to talk about all the things I like about it (and you will, too!).

First off, I love the clever title, teehee 😉 So often people make the mistake of assuming eating a plant-based diet requires too many expensive or complicated ingredients (neither of which are in Laura’s recipes in Vegan-Ease!), or that you have to give up some of your favorite dishes — not true! Eating a plant-based diet, especially in 2015, is…easy! Furthermore, I love that she uses the word “enjoying” in the full title. After all, no one is going to eat anything that they don’t enjoy. Yet again, people mistakenly assume a plant-based diet isn’t enjoyable; they assume it’s nothing but boring, tasteless tofu and vegetables, and while I love both tofu and veggies, any vegan can tell you there’s so much more to enjoy in the plant world. I mean, geez, I’m a chocoholic and regularly enjoy more than my fair share of goodies!

Secondly, Laura has given every recipe an “ease factor” of 1-3 based on the amount of ingredients used in each recipe and the length of cooking time. So no matter how stocked your pantry is or how much time you have, you can always flip to a recipe to determine what to cook — I love that!

Speaking of pantry-stocking, Laura lays the groundwork for what items to keep on hand and what utensils to have in your kitchen to help you always be prepared for joyful, plant-based cooking.

This cookbook is also highly educational with sections on why a plant-based diet is a good choice, how to get adequate nutrition on a vegan diet (sources of vitamins D and B-12, calcium, protein, etc.) and every recipe has nutritional information. There are even little “Chef’s Notes” that help you save time in the kitchen, suggest recipe substitutions (such as swapping out tofu for chickpeas in a breakfast scramble), and provide general “good to know” plant-based diet tips. I’m telling you, Laura Theodore must be some sort of cooking guru 😉

4 ingredient cookies RI5A9723One of the things I really can’t stand in cookbooks is a lack of food photos. It’s silly, I know, but I’ve heard this complaint before from other people, so it’s not just a pet peeve of mine. And even though our food doesn’t ever come out looking like the food in the photos, we can’t deny we “eat with our eyes.” At any rate, I’m happy to report there’s a photo for almost every single recipe in Vegan-Ease! Yay!! Thank you, Laura! And man, there are a lot of recipes — appetizers, beverages, breakfasts, quick breads, soups, salads, sandwiches, pasta, pizza, desserts, and even holiday recipes — to name a few.

And just so you aren’t ever sure what recipe to serve to whom or for what occasion, there’s a section on meal-planning (whether you are serving your own family or hosting a whole plant-based dinner party) and a menu section that literally plans out your menu for any theme-type of dinners you want to have, such as “Holiday Dinner”, “Burger Deluxe”, “Fabulous Fiesta”, “Gluten-Free, Soy-Free” and more.

In a nutshell, no matter how new you are to a plant-based diet, no matter what course you want to serve, whatever questions you have about plant-based nutrition, Laura has everything you need in this new cookbook. You can tell she’s put a lot of time, thought, and focus into making the transition to a plant-based diet as tangible as possible.

And as your reward for taking the time to read about “Vegan-Ease: An Easy Guide to Enjoying a Plant-Based Diet”, Laura has graciously allowed me to share her recipe for Four Ingredient Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies!

These cookies, as the title suggests, only uses four simple, wholesome ingredients and have an “Ease Factor” of 1. They are quite scrumptious and hit the spot for that cookie craving without sending you into a sugar coma. I can vouch for this as I ate quite a few in one sitting 😉

Four Ingredient Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

four ingredient chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

Makes 16 to 18 Cookies

2 large, ripe bananas
1¼ cups rolled oats
1⁄3 cup raisins
1⁄3 cup vegan dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
Put the bananas in a medium-sized bowl and mash with a potato masher or large fork until smooth. Add the oats, raisins and chocolate chips; stir to combine.
Using a cookie scoop or large spoon, drop a heaping tablespoonful of the cookie batter onto the lined baking sheet, gently flattening it with a rubber spatula or clean fingertips. Continue in this manner with the remaining cookie dough.
Bake for 13 to 17 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and cookies are almost set. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, cookies will keep for about 3 days.

Recipe © 2015 Laura Theodore, published by Jazzy Vegetarian, LLC, reprinted by permission.

 

New Cookbook Review: Vegan Bowls by Zsu Dever PLUS a Recipe!

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Vegan Bowls vegan cookbook

One complaint I regularly hear about cooking meals at home is that it takes too much time in the kitchen to put together a delicious, satisfying, and healthy meal for the family. After all, we live in a society where it’s all too convenient to hit the drive through. That’s why “the bowl” meal is your saving grace. By throwing together your basic meal components—protein, starch, and vegetable—you get everything you need in one easy bowl. Zsu Dever’s new “Vegan Bowls: Perfect Flavor Harmony in Cozy One-Bowl Meals” cookbook will not only show you how to do this, but will help you create a bowl that hits all the right notes—texture, aroma, color, flavor combinations, and taste—speedily and healthfully.

Before I delve into the highlights of this cookbook, be sure to check out Zsu’s website. She has an extensive background in the restaurant business and vegan cooking, and hails from a long line of culinary professionals and restaurateurs. She is passionate about teaching new vegans and vegetarians how to succeed with their plant-based lifestyle and sharing the recipes that keep her family happy. Considering most of these recipes only take about 30 minutes to prepare, I daresay you and your family, too, will be pleased with the recipes in this cookbook 🙂

Zsu’s book is broken down into several bowl sections:

  • All About Bowl Food
  • Just-in-case Basics
  • Grain Bowls
  • Sautéed Bowls
  • Pasta Bowls
  • Grilled Bowls
  • Salad Bowls
  • Soup Bowls
  • Breakfast Bowls
  • Build Your Own Bowls

The first and last chapters help you understand the basics of building a successful bowl meal and the Just-in-case Basics chapter provides a few extra recipes that “will augment the others in this book.” Then you get into a plethora of recipes for whatever type of dish you’re in the mood for—breakfast, lunch, dinner, pasta, soup, etc. There are a lot of traditional dishes in this cookbook that pay homage to classic recipes (with a vegan twist) as well as original recipes from Zsu, so there are a fantastic variety of meals to choose from.

It’s important to read the recipes clearly before you begin cooking (as is the rule for any recipe) and to put all your components in place beforehand. This makes for being as efficient as possible in the kitchen, which, of course, is something we all want 😉

One thing Zsu mentions, and I can attest to this in my cooking from this cookbook, is that just because the end result is a one-bowl meal, you’ll still want to make sure you have the appropriate utensils, pots, and plenty of counter space before you begin cooking. In case there’s any question about what you’ll need, Zsu has provided a handy “Kitchen Equipment” section in her cookbook. There’s also an ingredient glossary so you can do the appropriate grocery shopping, although many of the recipes call for ingredients that aren’t too hard or inconvenient to come by these days. Thank goodness for that; I can’t stand it when a cookbook that claims to help you save time calls for hard-to-find ingredients that you actually lose time in trying to find!

Another feature I really love about this cookbook is that there are plenty of little side notes that detail gluten-free, soy-free, even oil-free options as well as other substitutions tips.

I was thrilled with the recipe I made from Vegan Bowls—the Indonesian Stir-Fried Noodle Bowl. The sauce was flavorful and really elevated the basic ingredients that tend to have little-to-no flavor on their own. That’s the magic of this cookbook—the art of the perfect bowl. This recipe serves four people and the portion sizes are pretty good (in case you have a hearty appetite like me!). And while I’m not a member of a family of four, I’m actually okay with that. More bowl for me!

Indonesian Stir Fried Noodle Bowl

Indonesian Stir-Fried Noodle Bowl
SERVES 4

Mei goreng or bami goreng is a popular street food all over Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. It is a sweet and spicy dish of noodles fried with vegetables and eggs. The sauce usually calls for kecap manis, a thick, sweet sauce, but here we will make our own sauce using tamari, mirin, fresh ginger, and garlic.

NOODLES
8 ounces medium-thickness brown rice noodles

SAUCE
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup reduced-sodium tamari
1/4 cup mirin
1 tablespoon sambal oelek, or to taste
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon natural sugar

VEGETABLES
1/4 cup vegetable broth, divided
1 small red onion, cut into 1/8-inch slices
3 cups small broccoli florets
3 cups finely shredded cabbage
1 celery rib, cut into 1/8-inch slices
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or vegetable broth
6 ounces baby kale or baby spinach
1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed in a bowl of hot water and drained

NOODLES: Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil. Add the noodles and cook just shy of al dente, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. Drain the noodles and cool under running water. Set aside.

SAUCE: Combine the broth, tamari, mirin, sambal oelek, ginger, garlic, and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.

VEGETABLES: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of broth and the onion. Stir and cook until the onion is browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside in a medium bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of broth to the skillet. Add the broccoli. Stir and cook until the broccoli begins to char, about 2 minutes. Add the cabbage, celery, garlic and 1 tablespoon of broth. Stir and cook until the cabbage begins to char, about 2 more minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside with the onion. Add the sauce to the skillet and simmer until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add the oil or 2 more tablespoons of broth, the kale, the edamame, the reserved noodles, and the reserved vegetables. Stir and cook until the pasta is warmed through and beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with more sambal oelek and tamari. Serve hot in bowls.

(Recipe from Vegan Bowls, copyright© 2015 by Zsu Dever. Used by permission from Vegan Heritage Press, LLC.)

5 Fabulous Vegan Chocolate Recipes

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5 Fabulous Vegan Chocolate Recipes

Hey, friends! It occurred to me as I am working through a lot of the business of life that it’s been some time since I’ve talked about one of my great loves in life — chocolate! After all, one of the reasons I started this blog as a new vegan was to talk about not only how bountiful a vegan diet is but that you can most assuredly have your (vegan) cake, and eat it, too! While I have an extensive vegan cookbook library that has no shortage of baked goods recipes, there are always those staple recipes that I come back to time and time again. So…I thought it was time I shared them with you. Best of all, these recipes are right under your sweet (pun intended!) little nose on the web. Whether you want a cake, a brownie, cookies or something to share for the holidays or a party, I’ve got you covered. Here are 5 of my favorite vegan chocolate recipes:

PCRM’s Wacky Cake

vegan chocolate cake by pcrm

image: PCRM

The Happy Herbivore’s Single Serving Brownie

vegan single serving brownie by the happy herbivore

image: The Happy Herbivore

Kelly Peloza’s Giant Bakery Style Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

vegan giant bakery style cookies

image: instagram.com/gotvegan

Chocolate-Covered Katie’s Brownie Batter Dip

vegan brownie batter by chocolate covered katie

image: chocolate-covered katie

The PPK’s Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf

vegan chocolate spice loaf by the ppk

image: The PPK

I have personally made each of these recipes many times, and I can vouch they are delicious! No one would ever try these tasty goodies and think they were missing animal-based ingredients. Go ahead…give ’em a try and let me know what you think 🙂

What’s your favorite go-to vegan chocolate recipe? (I’m always on the lookout for more chocolate! 😉 )

Review: The Abundance Diet by Somer McCowan – Delicious & Nutritious Plant-based Meals and Meal Plans for Everyone!

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the abundance diet cookbook

image: VedgedOut.com

Ever thought about going plant-based for better nutrition, to manage your weight, or heal your body? No matter what your reasons for incorporating more plant-centric meals into your diet, the premiere cookbook, The Abundance Diet, by Somer McCowan of the popular vegan food blog Vedged Out will help set you on a course for success.

Complete with a variety of meals — juices, smoothies, breakfasts, salads, entrees, desserts — as well as an awesome meal plan and exercise tips, Somer’s many recipes are perfect for a novice cook and vegan newbie. Many of her recipes are gluten-free and soy-free. She even shows you how to make your own soy-free tofu by using chickpea flour, aka “burmese tofu”. (See photos below!)

Somer’s personal story in her cookbook is truly inspiring. She took control of her own health by switching to a plant-based diet to heal her body from an autoimmune disease. Her passion for helping others get healthy through nutritious meals and a more active lifestyle really shine in both her cookbook and food blog. And she can tell you as a busy wife and blogger that it IS possible to make lifelong positive changes no matter how many ways life is pulling you.

In her cookbook she provides a 28-day meal plan (for one, two or four people) and activity guide to help you get started. If you want to see the success of following this plan from regular ol’ folks like you and me, check out Nick and Jack’s results from following Somer’s plan on their blog, Happy to Be a Table of Two. (I love these guys! 🙂 )

I, myself, did not follow the meal plan and I already lead an active lifestyle. Instead, I had fun picking and choosing which meals and recipes I wanted to make (and still have yet to make!). If you know anything about me, then you know I’m going to look for the chocolate recipes first, tee hee! So of course I chose to make several of the recipes that use this delectable ingredient, but I also chose several more savory recipes as well. I made the:

  • Burmese Tofu (see photos below)
  • Tofu feta
  • Somer’s all-purpose gluten-free flour blend
  • Annie’s Da Cherry Bomb Smoothie (see photos below)
  • Vegan Chocolate Buttermilk Pancakes (see photos below)
  • Roasted Red Pepper Dressing (see photos below)
  • Oil-Free Goddess Dressing
  • BBQ Roasted Chickpea Snack (see photos below)
  • Cheesy Cauliflower and Potato Bake
  • Happiness in a Cookie Bite
  • No Bake, No Stovetop Cookie Bites

IMG_6332 IMG_6333 IMG_6336 IMG_6341 IMG_6593 IMG_6600 IMG_6606 IMG_6607 IMG_6615 IMG_6616 IMG_6617 IMG_6622 IMG_6623 IMG_6639 IMG_6661 IMG_6997

Overall, this cookbook uses simple ingredients and simple instructions to create meals that are whole foods-based and will help you renew your relationship with food for the better while nourishing your body with the nutrition it needs. Just as the title of this cookbook implies, if you are new to eating plant-based, you will soon learn it’s not about what you are giving up, but all that you, your body, and your health have to gain by making abundant plant foods the focus of your meals.

P.S. Check out what other bloggers had to say about The Abundance Diet and the recipes they shared!

  1. Vegan Richa: Moroccan Lentil Soup
  2. Olives for Dinner: Rawkin’ Rainbow Kale Salad and Creamy Chili Lime Dressing
  3. Spabettie: No Bake, No Stovetop Cookie Bites
  4. An Unrefined Vegan: Raw Cashew Horchata
  5. Zsu’s Vegan Pantry: BBQ Roasted Chickpea Snack
  6. Chic Vegan: Tomato Basil Bisque
  7. Ricki Heller: Cheesy Cauliflower and Potato Bake

 

How To Get Your Bacon Fix Without Harming The Piggies

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image: thetimes.co.uk

image: thetimes.co.uk

When people find out I’m vegan, they usually respond in one of two ways:

“I could never give up cheese.”

“I love my bacon.”

Now, I try not to let my eye twitch too much when I hear these excuses because hey,…I used to be the same way. But it’s 2015. The vegan food industry has come a long way. Not only do you not have to give up cheese, but you don’t have to give up bacon, either. Heck, just recently it was discovered that cooking a certain strain of seaweed tastes just like bacon!

Check out all the plant-based ways you can enjoy that bacon taste and flavor and leave the little piggies alone.

Products

Recipes

And because I’m such a chocoholic, allow me to direct your attention to a fabulous Vegan Salted Dark Chocolate Maple Bacon Bark recipe from Keepin’ It Kind. (Oh my goodness, just look at that photo!)

Salted-Dark-Chocolate-Maple-Bacon-Bark-41

And lastly, here’s a handy tutorial on how to make almost anything into vegan bacon!

I think this meme from Vegan Street pretty much sums up my point.

Vegan Street Vegan Bacon Meme

What are your favorite vegan bacon products or recipes?

10 Reasons You’ll Love Living The Farm Sanctuary Life (Book Review)

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Living-the-Farm-Sanctuary-Life-Book-Review

image source: Farm Sanctuary

Thanks to a recent .99 cents sale on Buck Books, I purchased Living The Farm Sanctuary Life by Gene Baur (with Gene Stone): The Ultimate Guide to Eating Mindfully, Living Longer, and Feeling Better Every Day on Kindle. It’s a wonderful book for anyone who’s interested in adopting a plant-based diet, understanding what it means to live compassionately, and really sheds a light on how the animals we share this Earth with are so much more than what society deems as a “food source.”

After having read the book myself, here are the top ten things I loved about this book (and I think you will, too!):

  1. Inspiring testimonials from people who visited Farm Sanctuary and went vegan, especially when adopting a vegan diet or even caring about animals were the furthest things from their minds.
  2. “The Panoply of Beings Is Infinite” by Bob Comis: This story of a hog farmer who struggled with raising his pigs for food — so heartbreaking, beautiful, and hopeful. It was by far one of my favorite tales sprinkled throughout the book!
  3. Animal stories that tell the tales of the many animals rescued and living at Farm Sanctuary that not only tug at your heart strings, but shows people the many sweet personalities of animals the most of us in society don’t get to see due to the closed quarters and secrecy of factory farms.
  4. Studies and insightful information on the positive effects animal relationships have on our overall health and wellness.
  5. Bios on people who are making animals and compassionate living a central focus of their day-to-day lives and work, such as Jasmin Singer & Mariann Sullivan of Our Hen House or award-winning fashion designer John Bartlett.
  6. Beautiful photography — of the animals, of the volunteers, and the serene and breathtaking views of the Farm Sanctuary landscape.
  7. Inspirational quotes — these little gems are tucked throughout the book. Thoughtful, provoking, and inspiring. One of my favorites was “If people were superior to animals, they’d take better care of the world” by Benjamin Hoff, author of The Tao of Pooh.
  8. Helpful lists and tables for some of the most common concerns people have about adopting a plant-based diet such as “Protein-packed Plants”, “Calcium-rich Plants”, “Benefits of Plant-based Eating” and more!
  9. Gene Baur’s accessible and sincere writing style: while I know this book was co-authored with Gene Stone, I’ve heard Gene Baur speak before at Bethlehem Vegfest and he speaks in an intelligent yet down-to-earth style no matter the topic. (Did you see him on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart?!) His kind and passionate manner is charismatic and makes people want to listen — and they are able to because Gene, despite his vast accomplishments, keeps his tone and writing style simple for everyone, no matter where they are on the spectrum of plant-based eating.
  10. Recipes! Not only will this book warm your heart with animal stories, challenge your thinking about how our food choices affect the planet, but it will also nourish you — figuratively and literally. Many amazing and talented chefs lent recipes to this book and they all look and sound delicious. Some of my favorites were the Superfood Dark Chocolate Granola, Pizza Buns, Bangkok Butternut Squash Chowder, and pretty much every dessert 🙂

If you love animals, admire Gene’s work, are thinking about visiting Farm Sanctuary, know someone who is curious about going vegan, or simply love reading books that align with your ethics (as I do!), then don’t miss this book. Buy it, read it, and pass it along 😉

P.S. Check out more reviews for Living the Farm Sanctuary Life:

Have you read Living the Farm Sanctuary Life? What did you love about it?

 

Product Review: Hodo Soy Beanery Products

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Hodo-Soy-Beanery-Product-Review

Sure…the world has heard of tofu and soy, but how many people know about yuba? I was fortunate to discover Hodo Soy Beanery’s amazing tofu puffs, tofu burgers, and yuba noodles recently through my friend Kristin (a.k.a. The High Impact Vegan) who found these high-protein and completely satisfying products at our local health foods store.

If you’re not familiar with yuba, Hodo Soy explains on their website that yuba, also known as “bean curd sheet,” is the thin veil that forms on the surface as the cream rises in heated soymilk. Imagine fettucine noodles — that’s what they look like — but way more flavorful. They come already fully cooked, so you can eat them cold or give them a quick reheat in the microwave or stovetop. They make a great topping to a cool salad but are the perfect protein for a warm stir fry as well.

After sampling a bite from Kristin’s lunch one afternoon, I knew I simply had to try these goodies for myself. All of Hodo Soy’s products at our local market — the burgers, the tofu puffs, and the yuba — were met with Kristin’s approval, and she has a very sophisticated palate. I dashed off after our get-together to get a package of each for my own taste test 😉

There are a couple of flavors of both the puffs and the yuba, so I chose one flavor each as well as the tofu veggie burger.

While I love beans and whole grains, I find I am the type of person that responds better to the satiety and protein levels soy foods provide. Not only was my tummy satisfied, but so were my taste buds. The tofu burger had a wonderful, meaty mouthfeel without being greasy as some vegan burgers tend to be, and the five-spice tofu puffs and sesame yuba noodles were deliciously flavored with awesome texture.

You can buy these products online or check the Hodo Soy Beanery website to find a retailer near you. And if you can get your hands on them, I suggest you do!

hodo-soy-sesame-yuba-noodles hodo-soy-yuba-noodles-stir-fry hodo-soy-tofu-puffs-1 hodo-soy-five-spice-tofu-puffs-package hodo-soy-five-spice-tofu-puff-and-greens hodo-soy-tofu-burger

 

I’m Blogging for Chic Vegan!

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chic-vegan-contributor

Hi, friends! A while back there was an “open call” of sorts from the editor of Chic Vegan for vegan bloggers. While you might see the title “vegan blogger” in some of my social media profiles, I use that title sparingly. I don’t consider myself one of the “great” vegan bloggers; I certainly don’t make any kind of living from it. It’s just an outlet for me to talk about my passion — the vegan lifestyle.

At any rate, I contacted Dianne Wenz saying I would like to contribute in any way I could, and fortunately for me, I was welcomed as a guest contributor!

I’ve written a few posts by now for Chic Vegan:

If you’re not already familiar with Chic Vegan, you must become a reader! There are fabulous recipes, interview series with some inspiring movers and shakers in the vegan world, vegan lifestyle tips and advice, tons of amazing product reviews, and more. It truly is a wonderful site for anyone interested in and passionate about vegan living. 🙂

Chic Vegan logo from chicvegan.com

Celebrating a Milestone in NYC

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NYC-Statue-of-Liberty-FB-size

I just returned from a long weekend in New Jersey/New York City where some of my family members and I were celebrating a big milestone…my older sister just hit the big 4-0! It was a fabulous weekend with good weather. We went to some of the usual tourist sites such as The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park, Top of the Rock, The Empire State Building, the 9/11 Memorial Museum, and Times Square.

I could go on and on about the attractions — how electric Times Square is at night, how blessed and humbled one can feel at the feet of Lady Liberty, how my knees quaked while atop some of the tallest building in Manhattan, how utterly mournful and heartbroken one can still be while looking at the images and debris at the 9/11 Memorial Museum — unforgettable sights and sensations to be sure. However, what I think most readers will really be interested in is…the food 😉

My husband and I are the only vegans in the group. The other family members are omnivores; the birthday girl actually follows a paleo/primal eating diet. Fortunately, NYC is rife with places that are both vegan and paleo-friendly.

We all had an amazing lunch in Hu Kitchen, which is paleo-centric but offers plenty of vegan fare, too. They had juices, smoothies, coffee, raw snacks and desserts, and plenty of sides with lentils, or grains, or vegetables that you can piece together for a very nutritious and delicious meal. They also had a vegetarian chili on the menu.

Hu-Kitchen-lentil-salad

Lentil salad

Hu-Kitchen-kale-salad

Kale salad

Hu-Kitchen-brussel-sprouts

Brussels sprouts

Hu-Kitchen-smoothie-and-hazelnuts

Smoothie and chocolate-covered hazelnuts

Another place we went near Central Park was Dean & Deluca. They are more of a market than a restaurant or cafe but nonetheless, there were plenty of side dishes I pieced together for a main entree. The employees were kind enough to let us taste samples of things before we made our choices and were also very knowledgeable about the vegan diet and food ingredients. And because no meal of mine is complete without a little sweet something at the end, I was elated to find vegan-friendly chocolate-covered graham crackers (no honey!) from a local Brooklyn-based chocolate company NuNu Chocolates(You can order products online; vegan products are denoted by a “V” symbol. Woot woot!)

lentil-salad-seasoned-mushrooms

Lentil salad and sauteed, season mushrooms from Dean & Deluca

nunu-chocolates-1

nunu-chocolates-2

NuNu Chocolates vegan chocolate covered grahams

I had an incredible “vegan food moment” at DF Mavens. This vegan ice cream shop has plenty of incredible flavors to choose from, as well as four different flavors for their waffle cones, a few vegan toppings that include chocolate sauce (yummm) and plenty of additional desserts and pints of their ice cream in their freezer section. There are soy-based and coconut-based options and a few options are also gluten-free or sugar-free. So…there’s pretty much something no matter your dietary needs. (Again, you can order these products online. Yay!)

DF-Mavens-refrigerated-desserts DF-Mavens-vegan-ice-cream-pints DF-Mavens-vegan-ice-cream-options-1 DF-Mavens-vegan-ice-cream-options-2 DF-Mavens-vegan-ice-cream-cones

DF-Mavens-vegan-ice-cream-cone-2

Chocolate sugar-free ice cream in a chocolate hazelnut cone with shredded coconut

DF-mavens-vegan-ice-cream-cone-1

Peanut butter ice cream in a chocolate hazelnut cone with chocolate sauce

Melissa-at-DF-Mavens-NYC

The photos I have below don’t even begin to capture the fun we all had. I asked my family members what the best part of the trip was; they all had different answers. For me, I think it was just being blessed enough to make new memories with my sisters. Aside from my husband, my sisters are my best friends in the world. As long as they are with me, any place is good enough for me 🙂

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*header image credit: Ashley Anstead

(More) Not-to-be-missed Vegan Cookbooks, Spring 2015 Edition

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new vegan cookbooks spring 2015

As I write this post, it’s a very cool Spring Saturday. The sun is shining, but the wind is blowing and I don’t think the temperature will get above 55 today. Nonetheless, I can feel that things are coming to life, colors are getting a bit brighter outside, and I’m feeling more energized now that the sun is staying out longer every day. Yup, there’s an excitement in the air for sure.

With this new season comes for exciting things: new cookbooks! See, I have a bit of an obsession with cookbooks. Right now, I have a fabulous collection of cookbooks that even if I cooked every single recipe from each book for every day for the remainder of my life, I probably wouldn’t be able to get through all of my cookbooks, ha ha. Still, I love having them! I love seeing the creativity of the cooks, reading their stories, supporting the vegan community, and of course, eating!  So…occasionally I check out what’s new and upcoming on the vegan cookbook scene.

There are plenty of new titles coming up — some coming this month, in fact! Here are a few that are most enticing to me and caught my eye (in no particular order — they all sound amazing!):

1. Street Vegan: Recipes and Dispatches from The Cinnamon Snail 
(May 5, 2015)

Street Vegan recipes from The Cinnamon Snail

image: Amazon

The vegan world was saddened recently to learn that the beloved and award-winning New Jersey and New York City-based food truck, The Cinnamon Snail, was closing. I had the pleasure of eating their food on at least 3 occasions and it was AWESOME. While the truck may be off the roads, you can bring their truly delicious food right to your own kitchen 😉

2. Vegan with a Vengeance, 10th Anniversary Edition: Over 150 Delicious, Cheap, Animal-Free Recipes that Rock (May 26, 2015)

Vegan with a Vengeance 10th Anniversary Edition

image: Amazon

Isa Chandra Moskowitz, queen of vegan cooking, PPK founder, and chef and owner of Modern Love in Omaha, has updated her successful Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook with even more recipes — something which we vegan foodie fans never grow tired of, right?

3. Tres Green, Tres Clean, Tres Chic: Eat (and Live!) the New French Way with Plant-based, Gluten-Free Recipes for Every Season (April 21, 2015)

Tres Green Tres Clean Tres Chic

image: Amazon

The title by Rebecca Leffler was of particular interest to me for a couple of reasons. I studied French for many years so the title alone caught my eye, but also, this is more than a cookbook. The recipes are vegan and are devoid of gluten, soy, and refined sugar, but this book also covers eating seasonally, natural beauty remedies, and illustrated yoga poses with playlists. It sounds like all-around wellness to me!

4. Healthy Happy Vegan Kitchen (April 28, 2015)

Healthy Happy Vegan Kitchen cookbook

image: Amazon

I’ve enjoyed reading Kathy Patalsky’s Healthy Happy Life vegan food blog for quite some time now, so of course her cookbook caught my eye. Plus, she seems to have such a positive, kind spirit; how could I not give her a shout-out on this list?

5. Lookbook Cookbook: Simple, Delicious, Gluten-free & Vegan Dishes for Fashion Loving Foodies (May 12, 2015)

Lookbook Cookbook

image: Amazon

I first came across Lookbook Cookbook recipes from my Girlie Girl Army newsletters. While I’m a simple tshirt-hoodie-jeans-sneakers kind of girl, I have always loved fashion from a distance. I say from a distance because I’m just too low-maintenance to shop for “outfits” and accessorize. Still, I love looking at fashion magazines and getting my Project Runaway fix. At any rate, the recipes have always looked tantalizing so I’m sure the full-on collection of recipes (which are vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free) won’t disappoint. P.S. You can “peek inside” the cookbook on Amazon!

6. The Abundance Diet: 28-day Plan to Reinvent Your Health, Lose Weight, and Discover the Power of Plant-Based Foods (June 9, 2015)

The Abundance Diet vegan cookbook

image: Amazon

Last, but certainly not least, I’ve got to say I am super duper excited about Somer McCowan’s cookbook. Both my husband and I have been following her food blog, Vedged Out, whose recipes have been featured in numerous print and digital publications, for a while. I’ve never met Somer, but we’ve spoken via social media several times and I can tell you she is passionate about food and health. Her story — how she reversed chronic illness with a plant-based diet — is quite extraordinary and inspiring. Definitely check out her recipes, her story, and pre-order her debut cookbook!

If you missed my previous must-have vegan cookbook titles post, be sure to check that out. Some of the cookbooks featured in that post are already in bookstores and available online. 😉

Finally, I’ve reviewed a few cookbooks I have on my own shelf that you’ll find add-worthy to your own collection if you, like me, are a little addicted to cookbooks.

Thanks for stopping by the blog today and giving it a read. Until next time, I hope your days are warmer, sunnier, happy, and healthy.