Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Pineapple Express

I just want to start out by letting the universe know that waking up to a winter wonderland on the last day of March is not really my idea of a good time. Seriously, it looks like a Holiday card outside. No thank you.
If anyone noticed I had two pictures on my blog yesterday! I finally have been learning the art of copy and paste, and then some! It's exciting, I really do love to learn, as long as it's something I want to learn.Ha! Anyway, it's a process, and it's really good training to be patient with myself. I'm really starting to appreciate patience, both in myself and others. It wasn't something that was always extended to me, or taught to me, so I think I kind of spent too many years of my life not understanding it's importance. Earlier this morning I did a yoga posture that I have struggled with for years, and I remained calm, and kept breathing, and trying, and I eventually did it. It felt amazing, and unbelievable, just like having two pictures on my blog! There are times in the past where I have just skipped trying to do this posture. And there are many times I have really wanted to stop this blog. I've gotten frustrated, and felt so dumb, but I stuck with it. And I've stuck with yoga for many years, even though sometimes I fall on my face, or I feel like I've twisted, and I can't get out.  They say you can't love anyone else if you don't love yourself, and I also think you can't be patient towards others if you can't be patient with yourself.
Also, as promised I tried the pineapple peach Kevita Kombucha. I don't normally like peach flavored things. I love peaches, hate peach flavor. Also stevia is the last ingredient, and I cannot say enough bad things about the taste of stevia. Stevia makes me want to heavia! I had to. Anyway, with two strikes against it, I think this might be my favorite flavor I've tried, and that's saying ALOT because Tart Cherry! It has a very pronounced pineapple flavor, which I love. It tastes almost like if Jones soda made a slightly healthier pineapple soda. It has ginger extract, which I can taste. The ginger adds more of a background zip, than a strong ginger flavor. I hope I am conveying how mind blowing this booch is. I kind of hate Kevita for making such an amazing product. I want this all of the time, damn my own brewed booch! I wish I could say which flavor is best, but so far all of Kevita's Kombuchas have blown any Kombucha's I've had out of the water.
Anyway, I'm going to go practice patience with Mother Nature over the snow. I put my boots away, and I will not pull those things back out no matter what!!! I hope everyone's day is filled with patient wishes, and Kombucha dreams!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Booch better have my Flavor!

I've been making my own Kombucha for awhile now. I still keep my eye out for new flavors and brands when I'm out and about. I had tried Kevita's ginger kombucha awhile ago, and it was so great! The kombucha was perfect, not too sweet, not too tart, and the ginger flavor really stood out. Well. while at the Co-op this past weekend, I noticed that they had added some Kevita kombuchas to their collection. They had the tart cherry, pineapple, and hibiscus berry flavors! Even though I had just bottled a fresh batch of booch, I still had to try the tart cherry, because cherries! Wow, wow,wow, if you like kombucha, and you can't find this brand, do yourself the biggest favor and ask them to carry this kombucha. Kevita has booch brewing in the bag. I think that's how you say it. They have it down pat is what I'm saying. I will be trying the pineapple next, and I predict true love. I never thought to add pineapple juice to my kombucha.

Like almost everything else, kombucha has people who swear by it(hand up) and people who think it's useless, some even believe it to be harmful. I noticed a big difference in my digestion when I started taking probiotics, and as a former caffeine, and energy drink addict I appreciate the natural buzz of energy I get. Actually, I don't even feel like it's a natural buzz of energy, I feel like it's more that kombucha makes me feel a happy and healthy buzz. Like a little buzz of overall health. I have been drinking it regularly now for about five years, and I will probably be a booch lover till the day I die.
Kombucha, yay, or nay?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Snack Time!

I love finding new snacks that are of course vegan, and also delicious, without a lot of weird and scary ingredients. And for as long as i can remember, salty and crunchy have been a weakness of mine. I spotted a new to me chip, called Simply 7  Quinoa Chips. The store I was at had sea salt, and slow smoked barbeque. After making sure the ingredients met my requirements, I chose the barbeque. Although the barbeque chips have more than seven ingredients, I don't have a problem because the additional ingredients were the seasonings needed to make the barbeque flavoring. The chips are gluten free, non-gmo ingredients, and no preservatives. The chips are in kind of a square with groovy little waves in it. A little like a Sun-Chip, but with a lighter, less dense texture. The barbeque flavor is delicious, but subtle. These aren't "jacked, flavor explosion," chips. These chips are subtle, and sophisticated. They are salty without being too salty, and flavorful without knocking your face off. They satisfied that chip craving, without the not so good feeling after eating too much grease. Apparently this company also makes lentil chips, and hummus chips(!). They do have a cheddar variety, so they aren't a 100% vegan company, so of course check ingredients, but if you see these  at your grocery, try, try, TRY!  Sometimes a good old snack is needed in life, and I love that we can have snacks that fill that junk food craving, and not have to eat a bunch of terrifying ingredients.
One other thing I forgot to mention about these quinoa chips. If extra protein is your thang, a serving of these chips has 8 grams of protein. And of course as usual, I have to mention that I really think these would please vegans, and non vegans.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Parsley and Apple Sitting in a Tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G!

I've been adding fresh juice that I make myself to my daily diet for almost two years now. I mostly do green juices, but for almost a year now I've been adding beet juice, along with various citrus blends into the mix. I really do notice a difference in my energy levels if I skip a day or two. I don't even use or own a juicer. I just blend, and strain and press through my little strainer that I have. I've experimented with many different fruit and vegetable combinations. I've learned that pineapple and citrus, especially limes are very helpful if you  are like me and fine beets to be a little too "earthy".
Yesterday I discovered a delicious green combo that really blew my mind. I did my usual kale, romaine, celery, and apple green blend, but I have parsley that needs to be used since my Falafel recipe never came to be. So, I added a large handful of parsley to my juice mix. Apples and  parsley compliment each other really nicely. The juice was crisp, and tasted like a crisp, clean smelling spring morning. I've added herbs like basil and cilantro to other green blends, and i always enjoy the extra flavor. Cilantro and cucumber are another very nice combination.
I've read arguments for and against drinking juices and smoothies. I don't personally replace meals with juices or smoothies, (I need to chew at a meal) but I do use both as I guess snacks. I truly notice a positive effect, so I choose to continue juicing. There are some vegetables that I don't care for, and truth be told would not force myself to eat, but I can tolerate drinking them in juice form.
I feel great today. I had lots of greens yesterday to make up for my junky dinner the night before, and the greens tasted great, and I  feel like I  have had some I guess comfort type food, and also tons of very nutritious foods. As someone who has a very disordered eating past, it's really nice to find balance with food.
I veered way off topic as I sometimes do, but if you are a green juice lover, try the combo of apple, and parsley the next time you make a juice. Fresh herbs are going to be abundant as we creep our way into spring. I don't know about anyone else, but where I live, winter does not want to leave. No matter, spring will prevail!
Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Fun with Food.

Something unexpected came up yesterday, and I was going to make homemade Falafel, but i unfortunately burned the garbanzo beans i was cooking from dry. I ended up having to make a quick run to Wegman's, and i picked up an oldie, but a goodie for dinner. A Tofurky vegan pepperoni pizza! It was everything i remembered and more. The crust is thin and crispy, there are decent amounts of both cheese, and the vegan pepperoni, and the sauce is not outstanding, but does the job on this pizza. A few shakes of some crushed red pepper, and it's a pizza! It's definitely not a health food, and shouldn't be dinner every night, but as a once in awhile treat, it's not too shabby. It's way better than a standard cheese and pepperoni pizza. I have served Tofurky and also Amy's roasted vegetable pizza to many non-veg friends, and have always gotten positive feedback. I'm happy so many vegan convenience foods exist, making life easy for us vegans who can't be bothered to cook all the time, and also I'm super glad these exist for people who are transitioning. It's a delicious reminder that everything vegans eat isn't green!
I feel best when I  am eating whole foods, and the secret cootie-phobe in me prefers preparing my own food, but I like a junky treat every now and again. I was raised in a house where white bread, cereal, rice anything was prohibited. I never took kiddie vitamins, it was fully leaded horse pills from the jump, and I remember sometimes wishing the rules were a little more relaxed. At this point in my life, I appreciate the nutritious upbringing, and enjoy the health that comes from eating healthy foods. But, I also enjoy breaking out of the antioxidant/super foods world every now and then.
Now, to balance my not so healthy dinner, I had a huge green salad for breakfast, soon to be followed by a green juice. Balance is our friend, friends!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The World is your Oyster Mushroom

So yesterday I stumbled across a short article by a blogger who used to be vegan, found the "diet" too restrictive, and now considers herself a clean eater, eating any food as long as it is a whole, clean food. The article didn't go into a lot of detail about her diet, but it did mention that she is still mostly plant based, she just wanted the wiggle room to have animal products. I think when vegans fall off the wagon so to speak, it's people who became vegan, or plant based for some reason other than a love of animals. For the most part, when I read about someone becoming vegan for any kind of weight loss, anti-aging, detox kind of reason, I always hope for the best, but I don't lose my mind when they go back to their meatier ways. I just wish they would go away quietly!  I hate to think of someone reading that and just assuming the vegan diet is restrictive, so why bother looking into it.  In my opinion the vegan diet is the opposite of restrictive. I eat a much wider variety of foods now than when I was vegetarian. I used to rely on cheese ALOT! I didn't experiment with nearly as many different fruits and vegetables as I do now, and I certainly didn't cook with as many different beans and grains. And I never knew the beauty of a creamy, dreamy cashew cream sauce! I ate more fast food type of foods such as subway, Burritos from various Chipotle type places, cheese pizzas, and other junk. I ate a lot more processed foods as well such as various frozen veggie burgers, things like Amy's mac and cheese, and other such tasty but processed stuff. When I first made the vegan plunge,  I definitely had an adjustment period. I remember I hated soy milk in my coffee, it just wasn't the same. I missed the hell out of cheese. I had to battle some serious cheese cravings. And soy yogurt has come along way, but back in the day, it left ALOT to be desired! For probably a good year I struggled with my choice to be a vegan. I felt great, and felt great about my choice, but I did feel jealous of my friends with their cheesy nachos, and grilled cheese, and delicious yogurt. This was before Daiya, and certainly way before my beloved Chao, and vegan cheese was not good. But, after awhile, those feelings just went away. It kind of just happened without me noticing. I just stopped feeling bad about not having these things. Daiya came along, there are now thick and luscious  vegan coffee creamers, and yogurt tastes delicious when it's made out of coconuts! When I serve people greasy, animal product heavy foods at my job, I don't feel bad for myself, I feel bad for the people who are eating that stuff, and think that's what life is all about. I don't crave, or desire it at all.
Everyone is different, and everyone does things for different reasons. I just want to really encourage anyone who has just become vegan, or is thinking about it to stick with it, and really give it a serious go. It might take close to a year for all of the urges and cravings to really go away. But they do go away, and your taste buds do change, and adapt. You will discover foods you probably never knew existed. You will learn the art of when to add a little coconut oil to give your dish that unctuousness you might crave. Vegan food has come so, so far, and continues to grow, and improve that you can still have any kind of ooey, greasy, fatty food you could ever dream of.
I truly don't feel restricted at all as a vegan, I'm curious  how other vegans feel?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Stand Up and Laugh!!

I love to laugh. I love the slobbery, snorting, tears rolling down your face kind of laughing. The kind where you got a full ab workout. Years ago I was a cocktail waitress at a comedy club in Seattle, and it was one of my better jobs. The customers couldn't really talk to me very much, and I got to laugh all through my shift. I also met Lewis Black, and several other somewhat famous comedians. I think people who can make others laugh so hard that they forget about their problems, even if it's for one hour have a special talent, and gift. I think being able to turn some of life's injustices into something you can laugh at is just amazing.
My laugh track has been turned way down where I live. I find the general population to be extremely unfunny, and this winter really tuned my smile upside down. A few weeks ago, while cleaning my apartment, I realized I needed some laughs. I remembered that Netflix has a lot of stand up comedy shows, and boy did I find a good one. I don't know if anyone has watched Parks and Rec, but it is a very funny, laugh out loud kind of show. (Netflix has the whole series streaming) Anyway, one of the actors on the show, Aziz Ansari (Tom) is also a stand up comic. He has several stand up shows streaming on Netflix, and if you like to laugh you should cancel everything and watch one of his shows. It will lead you to wanting to watch all of his shows, and wanting to watch anything he is involved in. I laughed so hard while I was cleaning, I had to take breaks to catch my breath. He has a list of jokes aimed at meat eaters that is both sad, because he's pointing out certain atrocities, but also hilarious because of his delivery. It's something that if a vegan said this, many would label as an unfunny, judgmental vegan joke, but since Aziz is not a vegan, and he's including himself in the selfish meat-eater category, so people can laugh. And you never know, these facts might stick with someone after the show, they might look into the industry, and decide they need to cut back on their meat consumption. Anyway, I have now watched all three of his stand-up specials on Netflix, and I'm dying for more. He is seriously one of the funniest, most energetic comedians I've seen in awhile.
A good laugh doesn't solve your problems, but it sure does ease the stress of life a little bit. Think of a life with out cracking up at least once a day. So, the next time you need a laugh, look up anything with Aziz Ansari!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Tale as Old as Time

Last night I just couldn't be bothered with cooking, so I decided it was a great night to try Beyond Meat's new veggie burger, The Beast. The burgers come two in a package, both burgers wrapped together in plastic. Right away I noticed that the burgers are bigger than a lot of veggie burgers. The directions say to grill, or cook in a pan on the stovetop, but I put my burger on a baking sheet and baked it in a 350 degree oven for about seven or eight minutes. They cook very quickly.(bonus!) These burgers are similar to Gardein's beefless burger in that they are very juicy, and somewhat oily. Not in a bad way, but these are clearly designed to please standard burger lovers. I once heard a famous chef say he doesn't want to eat a burger that doesn't dribble juices down his arm when he bites into it. Well, this Beast of a burger would give him all the drippings he could ever want! The burger was slightly smoky, I'm sure grilling these would amp up the smoke factor. They had a very rich, savory taste, and again, they are pretty huge! I had mine on an Ozery Bakery sandwich bun, with some romaine, Dijon, and a schmear of Just Mayo. It was super filling, and was satisfying in that kind of greasy, fast food way. (I mean greasy in the best way possible!)
The burgers are kind of packing some serious heat in the nutrition department. They are gluten and soy free, and non-GMO.  They are full of protein, and according to the box they contain more Omegas than salmon. They also have vitamins B-6, B-12, and C, D, and E. Although the ingredient list is somewhat lengthy, the ingredients are things you recognize, and for the most part can pronounce.
These burgers are delicious, and I feel they would really satisfy someone who is transitioning, or trying to cut back on their meat consumption. This would also wipe the smug of off people's faces who think vegans live on salads, seaweed, and twigs. The fact that they are relatively good for you is just an extra bonus.
So, I've said all of my pros, I have just one con. As with a lot of faux things in the vegan world, these babies are a little pricey. I paid $ 7.00 for a box, which has two burgers in it. Zoinks. If someone has a family of four, with say a couple of people who might eat more than one burger, that's a little much, in my opinion. Wegman's sells Gardein's beefless burgers under their name, and you get a package of four burgers for $3.99. To be honest, if I ever feel the need for a super "beefy" vegan burger, I would go for Gardein.
If you have the money to splurge, you really won't be disappointed in these burgers!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

One Love, One Bun

I love bread. I don't love weird chemicals in my food. There are a lot of funky things in a lot of  breads. I used to force myself to just not think about it, and buy the chemical laced bread. I just feel like I can't do it anymore. Now, I only buy certain organic, or at least all natural brands. If I have a week where I can't afford the natural brand, I just don't buy bread. I certainly can't afford an all organic diet, but I also can choose to not eat processed food with words I don't ever want to know how to pronounce!
Last week when I discovered the Co-op had Beyond Meat's newish Beast burger, I had to get a box! I realized I needed bread, and I didn't want sprouted grain hamburger buns. I meandered around, and landed a section of bread that seemed to be mostly Rudi's products. A lot of Rudi's breads have dairy and/or eggs. I bought a package of their sandwich thins awhile ago, and while they were good, they were slightly sweet which was kind of off putting in a savory sandwich. I came across a new to me brand, Ozery Bakery. I found the original, One Bun multigrain thin sandwich buns. They are vegan, I know what the ingredients are, and they are my new favorite. They're a little bit bigger than other sandwich thins, allowing you to make a heartier sandwich, and also perfect for a heartier veggie burger. They are wonderfully soft, and fresh tasting right out of the package.  I made a big veggie sandwich with romaine, cucumber, green pepper, red onion, hummus, spicy Dijon, and a red wine vinaigrette, and the bread held it's own, did not get soggy, did not fall apart. And it has a subtle wheat taste, it doesn't punch you in the face and yell "I'm healthy", it just calmly lets you know you are eating something delicious, and by the way not toxic.
I perused their website, and I can't say for sure if all of their breads are vegan. These One Bun muti-grain buns are, and I know they have something called Morning Rounds, and I have read reviews on vegan blogs, so I feel safe saying they are very vegan friendly, but still read the ingredient list if you come across this brand. I don't remember what I paid, but I would put money on around the five dollar mark. That seems to be the general price, give or take of course for the Organic and/or natural breads. If you see bread from this bakery at your grocery, don't feel scared to try it, it is amazing, and well worth the extra money.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Three Cheers for Spring!

Today is the first day of spring! I feel like I made it through a battle or something. Winter took more of a toll on me than I even realized. As soon as it started consistently staying in the twenty five degree and above range, I felt like someone gave me a shot of 100 proof happy. Spring is when I always feel inspired to make changes/resolutions, not so much the New Year. It was actually last spring that started the ball rolling for a lot of positive changes in my life. Spring is when I started really looking seriously into juicing more, Raw till 4, and no-poo. And all of those things started the wheels in my head spinning, which eventually led to me picking this blog back up. I know my fur family agrees with me, as there have been a few days where I have been able to open some windows and get some fresh air in, and as they say the crowd goes wild!  I love the smell of the early mornings in spring. You hear the birds chirping, and everything has the sheen of dew, and it just smells so full of life and fresh. Even walking through a concrete jungle smells fresher in the spring. And if you live somewhere that had a rough winter, there is a lightness in the air, and in people's attitudes. Everyone is so damn happy to be not wearing boots anymore! I feel like a huge cloud has been lifted from over my head. What I'm trying to say, is I love you Spring!
I've been eating more fruit, and even though it's still a little on the cool side, I've been drinking more smoothies, and I notice a marked improvement to my energy and mood. My creative juices have been flowing more in the kitchen too. Last night, I made a red pepper pasta sauce, and I made Raw sunflower seed "parmesan"! I improvised, and it turned out great, first try. Thanks spring! I threw half a cup of  raw sunflower seeds, a little more than a fourth cup of nutritional yeast, and a hefty pinch of sea salt in a blender, and pulsed until a fine, "cheese like" consistency. I suppose if I had roasted the sunflower seeds the taste might have been a bit richer, but I liked letting the nutritional yeast be the star flavor. Be generous with the sea salt if you try this, remember parmesan was a saltier cheese. The sunflower seeds made it a heftier substitute than just nutritional yeast alone. It really had a very similar texture to parmesan, and I love it. I will be adding this to salads, and on top of soups. Also, with summer coming up, it would be a great addition to vegan pasta salads! Yay for warm weather foods!
This is a great vegan parmesan substitute for people with nut allergies, and also sunflower seeds are tons cheaper than nuts, so it's wallet friendly too!
I hope everyone has a little extra spring in your step today!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Kick-Ace Day in the Kitchen

Don't you just love it when you spend some time in the kitchen, and you have total success? I love it. It always cheers my mood. I needed some cheering up yesterday, so I found a Joe Rogan podcast, put on my imaginary apron, and got into it. I made two recipes, one I found on the webz, one from Isa Does It, freshly borrowed from the library. The first recipe I made was the Mini Tofu Omelets from Isa Does It. These are amazing! I have never been able to make a beautiful omelet, vegan, or non. Like never. I have watched a gazillion tutorials, tried a thousand techniques, and recipes, and it is always a disaster. Well, these little cuties are perfect, because you make the mix(batter?) and pour it into lightly greased muffin tins, and they cook in the oven, no flipping required! It's always the flip that gets me in trouble. I am not a good flipper of food. The recipe is super quick and easy, I added some scallion to mine, but other than that I followed the recipe exactly. I did have to bake mine for about ten min. longer, but I have a rather imperfect oven. These were delicious. They use silken tofu, and also garbanzo flour. I think the garbanzo flour gives these an "eggy" taste that plain tofu omelets lack. If you had black salt in your possession, it would take the egg flavor up a huge notch. These are great to have in the fridge for a quick snack. As Isa mentions in the description, they taste great cold. This will be a weekly thing now.  All the thumbs up.
The next recipe I made is one I've been wanting to make since the holidays! It is the Kick Ace Extra Sharp Raw Vegan Holiday Cheddar Cheese Ball. Remember those cheese balls rolled in pecans, or almonds at holiday parties? I always remember them at everyone's house for Thanksgiving served with the vegetable platter. I remember how savory the cheese was, and I loved the creaminess with the crunch of the nuts. Well, my vegan friends, this kick ace ball is our answer to the very delicious, but very non-vegan holiday ball. It is basically a delicious cheese made with cashews, and also coconut oil, along with various flavorings. It calls for a small amount of sun-dried tomatoes which help give it the famous orange hue. After you've blended everything, it doesn't seem like it will harden up enough, but don't worry, after it's chilled, because of the coconut oil, it hardens up to the perfect texture. I haven't even rolled mine into a ball, I've just been scooping it right out of the pan it chilled in. It definitely has a sharp cheddar taste, and I was thinking next time I may add a few drops of liquid smoke to make a smoked cheddar version. I so recommend this recipe. My mind is blown. I'm convinced coconut oil can help people become vegan. Just like with the Chao slices, this cheese ball has a rich I guess fattiness from the coconut oil that makes it very satisfying. If I had any kind of function, I would make this, and not even label it as vegan. People would most likely be asking about this wonderful cheese, and where did you get it, etc. It is rich, decadent, and full of flavor. I really don't think even the most cynical non-vegan would taste this and think VEGAN! This recipe is a winner, and will be in my rotation for sure.
Good food is good food, and I think sometimes at functions where there are non-vegans, sometimes leaving the vegan out of the description might make more people try it. Tell them after they've tasted it and loved it. It might open their mind in the future.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Strange Lessons

I have a bit of a funny work story from last week that I would like to share. I think we can all have a nice takeaway from it. Okay, so I was at work last week, and two of my female coworkers were discussing hair, and other such issues, and they turned on me. One said she liked how I had my hair (it was in a ponytail) and they both agreed that I had "good hair", and went on and on singing the praises of my hair. I politely said thank you, eager to move onto another topic, because I knew what was coming next. I was asked about my hair care "regime". I work with women who are way into products, and natural is maybe what you do on your day off to give your hair a "rest".  And they speak of hot rollers and diffusers! Nothing against those things, I'm simply saying my "regime" is perhaps a bit more earthy. So, I went for it and said I use baking soda to wash, and I use an apple cider vinegar rinse. They both, after just going on about the health of my hair, started telling me how that will dry/ruin my hair. I said, well I've been doing this for almost a year, and my hair is shinier, thicker, and healthier than ever, like in  my whole life. As soon as I said that, they became completely disinterested, made one last know it all comment for the road, and I walked away.  You see, I didn't say what they wanted to hear. They want to use products, and stuff, and on and on. That's totally fine for them, it's just not for me. It's funny because both of them were seeking out new products for various hair issues, and I don't use products, and I have no current hair/scalp issues. So, my takeaway is this, no matter how strange someone else tries to make you feel, if you are having success, and reaping benefits, stand tall in your glowing, compassionate truth. People will try to tease you, or say your wrong for their own reasons, not caring what is best for you. It's nice to be able to have a laugh at this, and take a little lesson!
Another amazing lesson I learned about my newest obsession, CHAO SLICES! I am a hardcore addict, I'm afraid. These are the best thing, since vegan sliced cheese!(super bad, but I had to!!!) I heard some people saying they had issues with Chao under high heat, such as pizza. I even read some reviews that said it lost it's flavor. So, I have mostly snarfed my Chao cold, but I have now cooked with it twice, with success both times. The first time, I used the coconut herb flavor, I simply broke it into small pieces, and stirred it into pasta with a vegan Alfredo type sauce, and it melted and was super creamy. Last night I made a pizza, and I sliced slices of the creamy original to mimic shreds, and I put the cheese on after the sauce, then topped it with some lentils, olives, onion and garlic. The cheese melted under the lentils, and wow this pizza was satisfying. The Chao is much richer than daiya, so although it's been a million years since I've had dairy cheese, I felt this mimicked the richness better. Some of the small pieces around the edges that weren't covered didn't melt, so ithink the key is to cover the Chao to let it melt. So. try it on pizza, just put it under your other toppings.
I'm eager to try Follow Your Heart's new vegan cheese line, I've heard nothing but good things, and from what I understand it's right up there with Chao.  How great is it to be a vegan?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Oatmeal is for Eating

My consumption of plant milk has increased thanks to Whitney from Eco-Vegan Gal. She has been doing daily videos on her What a Vegan Eats YouTube channel, and for at least a month she has been raving about brown rice cereal, and how satisfying it is. She's been following a low histamine diet, so sugar, and a lot of fun but not so healthy stuff has been a big no-no for her. So, brown rice cereal has really helped satisfy some of her sweet cravings. I resisted for awhile, but I learned resistance really is futile. Whitney is one smart lady. Brown rice cereal rocks! I've been going back and forth between no sugar, and low sugar for quite some time myself, and I find some brown rice cereal with a little bit of coconut sugar is a very satisfying dessert. And Nature's Path makes an eco-friendly bag that I found for $1.99! There is one ingredient. Brown rice. So, not being a huge cereal eater, I never would have thought of this on my own. If you've never tried it, seriously watch a couple of Whitney's videos, you will see how appealing it is!
I say all of that to say that I experimented with homemade oat milk, as a way to save money and all I can say is no. I have had success with homemade almond, and coconut milk in the past. I just find the oats to have too strong of a taste. I blended half oats, half coconut with water, a little vanilla, and a pinch of salt .I then  strained it through a nut milk bag. The milk was a luscious, thick texture, but it tasted like liquid oatmeal. When I ate my brown rice cereal, I didn't know if I was eating oatmeal, or cereal. It's safe to say it was a total fail. Luckily I still have some raw coconut, so today I plan on making good old coconut milk. My takeaway is that oat milk is not my thang, but homemade plant milk is so much cheaper to make, and it really is an awesome feeling using milk you made yourself. Also, try brown rice cereal. It's crazy how something so simple really can satisfy cravings!

Monday, March 16, 2015

My Vegan Milkshake Brings all the Boys to the Yard

Coconut is a trendy food, if not superfood. It's trendy even in the non-vegan world. Apparently coconut anything fits well into the paleo lifestyle(diet?) So coconut specialty things are pricey. Coconut bacon? The price for a flimsy bag makes me gag. I am not a fan of coconut water, thank gourd because it seems like a super expensive way to hydrate yourself. Super food equals super expensive.
If you live near a store with bulk bins, look for coconut pieces that are raw. It's so cheap to make your own coconut bacon, or really any flavor chip you want. I've noticed other coconut "chip" flavors and the price is just out of control, in my opinion. In the summer, I make big batches of coconut bacon and keep it in a jar in my fridge for quick B.L.A.T 's and to top salads.
I said all of that to say that I stocked up on my coconut stash at the Co-op this weekend, because I'm going to experiment with a homemade oat/coconut milk blend. And I might make a batch of coconut bacon now that the temps are rising!! And for my final coconut fact- add it to a smoothie! I haven't had a smoothie in awhile due to freezing temps. So, yesterday was almost forty degrees! so I decided to make a delicious fruity smoothie. I threw about a cup of frozen mixed berries into my blender with two bananas, about 1/4 cup of  flaked coconut, and about a cup of water. It was so pink and beautiful. It was like the freshest berry milkshake ever. The coconut added more of a texture than flavor. It made the smoothie (shake!) creamier, and also little pieces of coconut didn't get blended, so it had that Pina Colada texture. Oh, I forgot, I added a drop of vanilla extract, and about a tablespoon of coconut sugar. I find in the summer berries don't need any sweet help, but in the winter they need a little extra sweet love. It has been a million years since I've had a regular milkshake, but from my dusty memories, this won wins hand down. No berry "flavor" here!
I can't recommend bulk bin shopping enough! I spent $ 1.76 for raw coconut pieces. From that batch I will be making milk, making bacon, and adding to two more smoothies. $ 1.76 might buy one coconut bacon piece. If I have success with my milk, and I think I will, I will do my very best to remember to write down measurements.
Have an amazing day!!!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Success of the Twilight Bark

Sometimes it can be intimidating as a vegan to go to request certain foods at either a restaurant or grocery store. I'm sure every vegan and vegetarian has a few stories of getting strange looks, or snide comments. Sometimes the thought of dealing with such rudeness can make it not even seem worth it to make requests. Well, I have a story to remind us all that we count too, and we should make requests!
Many months ago, when I first started reading about Beyond Meat, I knew I had to try it. So, I requested it at the local Co-op. No one there had ever heard of it, and they said they would look into it. Well, the next time I went there, they had Beyond Meat beefless crumbles, along with the lightly seasoned chicken free strips. The person who works in that section said they were selling like crazy! And ever since that time, I have noticed that often times they are all sold out. Around the same time, I requested Earth Balance cheddar squares, and also their boxed mac and cheese. The employees were excited to hear that there were vegan cheese its on the market! So, yesterday when I was shopping, the person who I had originally talked to about the Beyond  Meat informed me that they now have the Beast Burger from Beyond  Meat! I was so excited to have another veggie burger option! And what happened next was music to my ears! He told me I was the one who started the whole she-bang by letting them know about Beyond Meat in the first place! It was a great moment, and it kind of made up for other times I've been treated like a weirdo.
It's up to us to spread the word, and say that we want other options besides Lay's, Kraft, and Tyson. And now more than ever, people are veg. curious. I want amazing products to be available not just for me, but for people who aren't fully committed to the lifestyle. I want them to see that meatless Monday doesn't have to be a painful affair.
If you're like me, and you don't have  a Whole Foods, or Trader Joe's, or any kind of super vegan friendly store in your area just ask someone. Worst case is you get a side-eye or a snide comment, and that won't kill you, trust me. The best case is you get what you asked for, which is awesome for you, for other people, and most importantly the animals we want to save!
Does anyone know where this post title came from?

Saturday, March 14, 2015

I Was Working as a Waitress in a Cocktail Bar.........................

This morning my Yogi teabag is telling me to "Have wisdom in your actions, and faith in your merits".  Pretty sound advice, wouldn't you say? I want to carry this around in my pocket and pull it out when I'm dealing with people who are being rude, and confrontational. This week I've mostly talked about dealing with those awkward situations when people just want to get under your skin. Sometimes it feels like where is the peace. Vegans get flak from non-vegans, and then even as vegans we have to pick each other apart. For me, no matter how much poo has been thrown my way, at the end of the day when I lay my head down, and I know that my heart is in the right place, and I caused as little suffering as possible, that's what matters.
Today is also my 250th post! I can hardly believe it. I'm so proud of myself, because I really don't know what I'm doing, but I'm sticking with it. and it's really been something I've come to love, and it's an important part of my daily routine. I plan on making some surprise improvements over the next couple of months, so yay! I want it to be a surprise, like one day you just notice something different. It's so nice to feel human again. Double digit temperatures ROCK!
And last, but not least I need to vent about one thing. Last night at work, a customer had a shirt on that said "Keep calm, carry Guns"! What the hell? And before anyone asks, he was not a hipster wearing this shirt ironically. He probably actually had a gun if not on his person, in his monster truck. I tried to mention it to some co-workers, but they saw nothing insane about it. I think a lot of them own guns themselves. Knowing that very close minded, racist alcoholics carry guns when they are drinking makes me feel so mother loving happy I don't hang out in bars. If people who loved guns appeared to be calm and rational, or even kept one in their house for protection I would feel a little better. But just walking in and out of bars getting drunk with your gun is a little too wild west for me.
Reason number twenty million why I need to find a better way to make a living! Viva la Spring!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Never Let Them See You Sweat

So I work at a private club/restaurant that is not only very vegan un-friendly, it is not for the health minded. I'm talking deep fried everything, instant mashed potatoes, everything canned or frozen. The "chef" is an actual chef. He went to the culinary institute in Pittsburg, or Philadelphia. But there is not one thing on the menu that is homemade. It's very sad. It always makes me imagine what Gordon Ramsey would say. Sometimes that fantasy is all I have to help me get through my shift. Anyway, I am simply saying that there are some low standards to the food here, and I can only come to the conclusion that the members have pretty low food standards as well. I mean, not only do they pay for their meals, they pay to be members! I can't make this stuff up. It's always awkward when people ask my opinion on the food, because the truth of the matter is even if I weren't vegan, the food served would not be my thang at all. So, telling people I'm a vegan is the perfect way to avoid offending anyone. They get to think I'm the weird one. Every so often I get the question of "what on earth do you eat"?  I've learned the perfect response is to simply say "if you really think about it, there are so many foods that have nothing to do with animals, there are many more varieties of plants than animals". If nothing else, it gives you a few seconds while they are thinking to escape. I have escaped to the kitchen a gazillion times while people's wheels are turning. And then by the time I go back to the table, they've forgotten all about our conversation, all thoughts of plant food drowned out by grease, salt, artificial ingredients, and death.
Another question that gets lobbed your way when you are vegetarian, or vegan is where do you get.... insert whatever here. I used to get tongue tied, and I felt like I had to know every factoid available to defend the vegan diet. Now, I simply let my good health speak for itself. Whether or not I want to lose ten pounds, or wish this that or the other about my appearance, I know I look as healthy as I feel. So, I simply say, "do I look like there is anything missing in my diet"? I have not yet had anyone say anything other than no, or sometimes they just sit there clutching their pearls, not knowing what to say. I always say it in a very breezy, friendly way, and again it gives you time to make a quick escape.
I feel like you get to a certain point where you can tell when people's questions are coming from a sincere place, and that is when you really take the time to offer helpful information. When people are just asking dumb questions to be rude, just having some quick little one liners can really save the day.
A lot of times people just want to see you get upset. It makes them feel like they've won, or are superior in some way. So, as a very emotional person I have let a lot of people get the best of me. It still happens of course, but thankfully less and less often as time goes by.
Spring is starting to make winter feel less and less welcome, and I just couldn't be happier. I never really knew thirty five degrees could feel like such amazing warmth. I'm just feeling so good, I hope this post helps someone, as I have been helped, and you will help someone. As we talk about our experiences with people being confrontational, and how we handle it, we're helping each other to continue the good fight. We have come sooooooo far, but we still have a very long way to go. So, grab a snack and a one liner and battle on!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Stronger than we Know

Have you ever spoken to someone who is cutting back on their meat consumption because their doctor told them to? Or passed someone in the grocery store who has some boxes of various veggie burgers in their cart for health reasons? It seems like even the most aggressive meat eater will limit the teasing and judgment since it's for their health. They sleep easier at night knowing that Jim and Carol would be eating bacon wrapped cheeseburgers if it weren't for that idiot doctor. It's when you choose to not eat animals that things get weird. It's even worse when you make that choice because you believe animals aren't here to be eaten. For some reason that just brings out the anger in some (a lot) of people. I've seen the same behavior when it comes to healthy habits. If someone is forced by their doctor to live a healthy life, well okay. But if someone chooses to live a healthy life to prevent having to ever be forced to live a healthy life, well bring on the side eyes and rolls. It can be so frustrating! And although I am a proud vegan, and always will be, sometimes it gets so frustrating almost always being the minority. I can think of several situations where someone is being a dick towards veganism, and all of a sudden the whole room is staring. So now you're stuck defending your choices/veganism to more than one person. It's overwhelming, and intimidating. It can be enough to make you just want to be silent about your convictions. It's definitely silenced me in the past. I've worked in restaurants where I would be fired for saying I don't eat meat. I'm supposed to go along with the myth of meat and potatoes equals a delicious, satisfying meal.
I want to encourage all of us who love animals and believe that they have as much of a right to life as we do to not let the masses silence us. What I've come to learn is choosing your battles is crucial to keeping your sanity. It doesn't make the vegan argument weak if you say agree to disagree to someone. If someone were trying to convince me to eat meat, at some point they would have to walk away, because it's just mot going to happen. So, I am a proud vegan, and I proudly say I'm a vegan here in Wal-Mart land, and I accept the looks and snide comments. I'm learning that balance of being proud and loud about who I am, while also realizing that I haven't yet received my wand that turns everyone into a peace loving vegan. I'm told it's in the mail, so fingers crossed it's coming soon!
I know that things are changing. More and more people are at least flirting with the idea of eating less meat, more and more restaurants are offering vegan options, CHAO!, and fur, and even leather are slowly becoming very outdated, we are making changes for the better. We don't have to fight every battle, and we don't have to waste our energy answering every inane comment people throw our way. But we don't have to hide our veganism either. We are vegans, not criminals. We should all share our stories of dealing with people who challenge/bully us. What I'm learning more and more each day is there is strength in numbers, and also it feels so good to share, and have other people relate. It reminds us that we aren't alone!
Slow and steady wins the race!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

When Librarians Attack!!!!!!

I had an interesting experience at the library yesterday. I haven't been to the library as often as I like this winter, and so it was really exciting being able to go. Things looked up even more when I saw that they had Isa Does It. I have to give this library credit, for as much as I rail on this city, the library is pretty impressive. They have a decent collection of vegetarian/vegan cookbooks, and they even stay somewhat current. I go to check out, and I just am feeling so great because it's forty degrees, and I'm at the library, and then the librarian has to choose to be a dick. I won't say it ruined my day, but it was an unnecessary downer. The librarian must have noticed the word vegan in the title, and decided to kind of challenge veganism. She went on a diatribe of how she was raised on a farm, and she is of the mindset that a) animals were created to be eaten and b) if we didn't kill and eat the animals, what would we do about population control, they might outnumber us all! There were other annoying factoids that she threw in, but those two stood out, as I have heard those weak ass arguments many times already. What surprised/irritated me is other times I've heard this it's at least been part of a conversation where I offered up a vegan viewpoint, prepared to defend veganism. I wasn't prepared to have to listen to this at the library. I can only imagine some of the strange books people check out. I felt very uncomfortable, and I felt like this woman was being really defensive with me for no apparent reason. In the past I would have argued with her, and let it really affect me. I told her simply we would have to agree to disagree. I said as strongly as she felt about eating animals, I felt that strongly about not eating them. I then took my books, said have a nice day, and left. I'm going to let it go this time, but if that ever happens again at this library, I will be complaining for sure. I feel I should be able to check out books without having to defend myself with a librarian. For a long time vegans were the butt of tons of jokes, from the crappy vegan food to the weak, sickly way we looked and so on and so forth. Times have changed, we are strong and healthy, not weak, and we now have vegan cheese that can be eaten cold. We've come a long, long way, and if I'm not forcing my ideals down your throat, I certainly don't want anyone else's shoved down my throat. When someone tells me animals are here only for consumption, I just have to walk away. I've learned through too many hours of debate that people who believe that are capable of coming to a different conclusion, but it has to be when they are ready to have that light bulb moment. We only learn from those moments when we are ready and accepting of the chance to learn and grow.
I'm curious how other vegetarians/vegans handle unexpected defensiveness and confrontations?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Comforting Food and Thoughts

I was in the mood for something creamy and rich for dinner last night. I decided to make a cashew Alfredo sauce, and just to gild the lily, I added roasted onion and garlic. I love making onions this way. It's similar to caramelizing, but you don't have to dirty a pan! I just sliced one onion, added four peeled cloves of garlic, a glug of extra virgin olive oil, s&p, and a pinch of dried oregano. Wrap in foil, and bake at 350 for thirty to forty minutes. The flavor is so rich and deep, it makes the Alfredo so incredibly delicious, I want to eat it like soup. Adding the roasted garlic and onion to hummus also takes it over the top. I wish I would have written everything down, but alas, I'm still working on writing things down when I cook. But I wanted to share the roasting onions with your garlic tip. I love the rich flavor of caramelized onions, and this is just kind of a shortcut to achieve that flavor. It turns almost jam like, you could just spread it on some bread and call it dinner. (speaking from experience)  You can add whatever herbs you like, that you think will go with your dish. Sometimes I add some crushed red pepper and basil, other times rosemary and thyme.  I'm not much of a gravy person myself, but I bet it would make the base of a super savory gravy. It makes a tasty topping for a pizza too. It elevates the pizza to fancy status.
In non-vegan/foodnews, for the past two days, it's been over thirty degrees where I live(!), and today and tomorrow close to forty degrees! I feel insane saying this, but it truly feels amazingly warm! Just to be able to step outside, and have it not hurt to breathe is pretty amazing. As much as I love roasted garlic and onion Alfredo, I absolutely cannot wait for "I can't even turn on the oven it's so hot" weather. Winter is dragging it's heels, but it will be defeated.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Just Beet It

Beets seem to be one of those vegetables that you either love, or hate. Some people love the sweet flavor, others find them too earthy (dirt). I am not a fan myself. They are so unbelievably gorgeous, it seems impossible that something so brilliant could taste so dirty!
When I first started incorporating juices and smoothies into my diet, I did a lot of research into what fruits and veggies are most beneficial, what goes well together, and what fruits and veg I wanted to eat/drink more of. Beets came up over and over for a few reasons, two of which are they are powerhouses nutritionally, and I realized I needed to get more red into my diet! I'll never forget my first beet juice experience. I remember it was beets, carrot, cucumber, and apple. The juice itself was so beautiful, I thought it would have to be delicious. Man, I could not have been more wrong. I choked it down, but it took a loooooooooooong time! One of the many benefits of beets is that it helps to detoxify the liver. And it helps purify the blood. Since I drank so heavily in the past, I am always looking for foods, and herbs that heal the liver. So, I had to find a way to make beet juice palatable. I've done ALOT of experimenting, and I've learned a lot. I've learned to not mix celery with beets, pears work better than apples to mask the flavor, if you can, add pineapple to the mix because pineapple loves to overpower beets, and the juice of a lemon, or lime is imperative to cut the earth flavor. Adding ginger, or fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley also help make tastier beet juice.
And now, I have learned the biggest and best beet flavor fighter. Blood oranges. For some random reason, I found a bag of blood oranges on sale for $1.99! Blood oranges are usually out of my price range, so I figured blood orange and beet juice would be my new experiment. I blended two smallish beets, plus the greens, one pear, a small knob of ginger, and four blood oranges, strained my juice through a mesh strainer, and had a beautiful glass of juice. The blood oranges made the juice even more ruby than usual. I squeezed in the juice of half of a lemon and gave a tentative taste. I couldn't believe it, for the first time in my life, I almost liked it! Something about the tartness of the blood orange really cut out almost all of the dirty(sorry earthy) flavor of the beets! I came so close to enjoying this juice, I'm gonna go ahead and say it, it really was a bloody miracle!
If you eat or juice beets, make sure you're usint the greens as well. The greens are full of Vitamins A, K, and C. As well as containing high amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and choline.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Stop Hammer Time!

It's easy to get angry when someone disagrees with us. Maybe not over small things, but big issues, especially things we're passionate about. There's a reason people use that rule of not discussing religion or politics in public. Sometimes you even may want to kind of talk down to people. It's easy to think of people as idiots, dumb asses, morons and so on and so forth. It seems that's how various 24 hour news channels fill a lot of their time, putting down anyone who disagrees with them. I had an experience last week where I was severely put down by someone because of my beliefs, and I have to be honest, it was painful. The first insult came when someone in my family who knows that I believe in being kind to the earth, decided to launch a military verbal strike against environmentalists, any "idiot" who believes in climate change, and basically anyone who believes in science. This person was talking with so much rage that it was almost scary. Like I almost thought I could get my ass kicked for believing in climate change. The next day, the same kind of situation arose when the same person asked me if I like a certain artist, and I gave the wrong answer by saying yes. Clearly the correct answer was no. My truth led to a very angry diatribe, with some mid level racism thrown in for extra credit.  Whoever you are, whatever side you're on, whatever your belief system is, when you silence someone by yelling, or name calling, you haven't won anything. You haven't helped your cause, if anything you've hurt it. When I was silenced this past weekend, it wasn't because I conceded to the fact that this person was right, and climate change isn't happening, I quieted down because saying anything else would only result in further name calling. I prefer to save my energy for battles that might make a difference.
I'm writing about my experience last weekend because it really hurt my feelings to be so insulted. I certainly don't expect the world to share my viewpoints, but I am no more or less of an idiot than anyone else out there fumbling around, trying to make the world a better place. I see a lot of anger in the vegan community at times, a lot of differing views of how we should eat, how we should look, who we should support, and not support, and so on and so forth. I don't want vegans to be hostile and downright mean to people who disagree, or aren't all the way there yet. When you get so verbally assaulted, you don't want to learn more about the other point of view. You want to run away from the mean people.
Last weekend's events kind of tied into me learning more about The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. The first agreement is Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity, speak only out of truth and love, and don't use your word against yourself or others.  Pretty powerful stuff. I'm working on this first step, and it's hard. It's hard to use only good words. I notice that while I'm not a gossipy person, when I'm at work and everyone's talking bad about everyone else, it's easy to fall into that toxic sandpit.
I hope we can at some point learn to be more tolerant of differing ideas. Maybe if we were willing to learn more about other views, and try to practice empathy, maybe we could make more positive changes. I prefer the gentle fairy dust approach, as opposed to hammering my opinions in your face.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

If You're Vegan and You Know it Clap Your Hands

After tasting my way through all three Chao flavors, I still can't believe what I tasted! I still can't believe that not only did I eat vegan cheese cold, straight out of the package, and I preferred it that way. Amazing if you ask me! There has been a lot of negativity in the vegan world lately, with the recent Beyoncé meal plan and all. Also, if you ever read any YouTube comments, you can see a lot of animosity between certain vegan diets. And man vegans can be as mean as any bully, or Fox News personality I've ever seen. So, because of all the negative nellies out there, I wanted to write about the positive progress I see happening. First of all, Beyoncé's vegan meal service made news all over. As someone who has a weakness for celebrity gossip, it was all over all the glossy mags, and websites. And almost every news outlet picked up at least a blurb. We live in the land of must have 24 hours of news, so yeah, a vegan meal service started by Beyoncé will make it to CNN. And the only negative thing I heard or read was about the price. No one was making fun of vegan food, or the diet. It's weird, mainstream, meat eating society was more accepting of this vegan meal service than vegans. Weird, right.
Chao slices of course make the list. Field roast has made vegan cheese something to be taken seriously, not laughed at. Field roast also makes the tastiest vegan sausages, and I love their roast. I think it's called celebration roast. It is out if this world, it makes tasty sandwiches.
Just Mayo is another company that changed my life for the better. I loved Veganaise for so many years, but after tasting Just Mayo, there's just no going back. Just Mayo could be slathered on any non-veg's sandwich, and I guarantee they wouldn't even notice.
Beyond Meat is another company that is really working on making meatless meat for the meat loving crowd. A lot of vegans actually have a problem with the realness of the texture if their faux chicken. But we want food that appeals to the meat eaters. If we want to stop the harm and murder of animals, we have to make food that appeals to carnivorous taste buds.
And I can't forget to mention all of the amazing snacks that Earth Balance has been putting out. I mean the vegan cheddar flavor chips are the stuff dreams are made of. And the vegan cheese crackers take all of us back to childhood eating cheese nips, or its, depending. They also have made some great vegan boxed mac and cheese. The white cheddar is my personal fave.
Vegans are not the butt of as many jokes as before, and I think that says a lot for how far we've come. Even recognized carnivores are speaking of Meatless Mondays, and now promoting going at least two days a week without meat. I know it's so easy to get pissed, and feel like we're getting nowhere. I live in a town where people hunt. Like a lot of people. And I work in a non veg restaurant, although I hesitate to call it a restaurant, anyway I see and wait on nothing but your typical Wal-Mart style 'Merican who loves meat, and the more the better. But when I get too discouraged, I remind myself of the progress that is being made. Vegans are a force to be reckoned with, and we aren't going anywhere.
I hope things simmer down for awhile, and we can find some peace within the movement, and try again for nice. It kind of makes us look like asses when we are promoting compassion for all beings, but then using our words to tear each other down, and tear down anyone who disagrees with us, or does something we don't like. Lets be a wonderful, nice, and kind group, with some kick-ass food. Let's be the cool kids everyone wants to be a part of!

I forgot to mention Gardein. I have not had one Gardein product that hasn't blown my mind. The mandarin orange chick'n strips are dangerously good. I bet a Gardein beefless burger with a slice of Chao cheese, any flavor would please most meat lovers palate!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Chao Up, it Gets Better!

After going two full weeks of single digit, and below zero temps, yesterday reached a balmy thirty plus degrees. I was able to trudge to the Laundromat. Even though the laundry is only about three blocks away, it is not a journey I'm willing to take in the single digits. I will pull the cleanest dirty item I own to wear. The walk was of course spent weaving in between the streets and sidewalks as people have overall decided to say eff shoveling, ever. When I arrived, I figured I'd be alone since I got there very close to opening. I don't know about other Laundromats, but the two close to my apartment seem to be a refuge camp for sex offenders and people you run from in a dark alley. You would never see me in either place after dark. Of course there were a couple of pervy convict types in there. It's very uncomfortable when people are staring at your undergarments as you're trying to shove them in the machine as quickly as possible. Anyway, my day is going downhill fast as I'm fearing for my safety, (at eight-thirty in the morning, I might add.) I look out of the window, and it's snowing pretty hard. NO NO NO! I finished my laundry, walked home through the snow, almost biffed it several times, and then finally got home, and before I could even take my coat off I see someone has gifted me with a hairball! I  was pretty frazzled, and I seriously understand toddlers having tantrums. Sometimes you really do need to cry, and slobber, and kick and punch. Anyway, after putting laundry away, and calming down a bit, I remembered that I still had a package of tomato cayenne Chao slices in my fridge! Like any addict knows, nothing calms you down like a quick fix. What I  noticed first is that field roast really nailed it with the color. It looks much closer to a good quality cheddar than other vegan cheeses. When I  opened the package, these slices smelled very reminiscent of pepper jack. And it looked like pepper jack, except if memory serves, pepper jack was white. It tasted like cheddar, but like a pepper jack cheddar. I would say the tomato flavor is very subtle. It has a spicy kick, but definitely a mild kick, and it has a nice cheddar bite. As with the other flavors, the slices separate easily, and it has a great firm texture that I adore. I ate a slice on it's own, and then I  had some sesame crackers with the cheese on top, and wow, I  almost cried tears of joy. All of  my laundry, and weather issues went bye-bye. I totally zoned out on my Chao buzz, all thoughts of snow and pervy weirdo's floated away, in a spicy haze. What I'm really trying to say is that field roast has nailed it in every single department, as far as I'm concerned. Field roast can drop the mic, they've won it all. I did not combine any with my ripe avocado, once again, I just wanted to eat it in it's natural, lovely state. It would make kick-ass nachos, or Queso dips. I've seen a few recipes and pictures online, and yum. Or julienned and put on a taco salad, or burrito bowl. I bet it would make amazing jalapeno poppers too! Maybe What I  have left of my package will make it into a recipe. Maybe. I see what my grocery splurge is going to be week, after week.
I've tried all three flavors, and I can't really pick a fave. If I were forced, I would have to say creamy original, because it reminded me of childhood in some kind of way, and with no other competing flavors, the tang of the cheese really shined. The tomato cayenne is nipping at the heels. Something else super cool about this cheese is it has a pretty long expiration date. I bought my packages on Saturday, Feb. 28th, and they are good until July 13th. If anyone out there buys this cheese, and the expiration date becomes an issue, please let me know. I would be amazed if this cheese lasts in any household for more than a week!
My alternate Chao title was going to be Third time's the Chao-m. I'm here everyday folks.

Monday, March 2, 2015

You're Going to want to Chao down on This Pasta

I did it! I managed to exercise self control, and save some of the coconut herb slices to cook with. It's been so cold and snowy, and the winter blues have been mucking up my spirits, so something mac and cheesey sounded so good. I decided to really splurge and make my favorite vegan Alfredo sauce, and then add the Chao to really make it beyond decadent. This was a meal that I would make for someone really special. Chao is really changing my life. I'm so sorry daiya, but I can't imagine going back to you. I might keep a bag of you in the freezer for Dylan, but I am all about the Chao! I have one last flavor to try, the tomato cayenne which I will be trying today. I have a perfectly ripe avocado. I see the two coming together and making some delicious music together.
Sorry, I'm getting all ahead of myself. Back to this wonderful cheesey dish. The Chao melted beautifully in the pasta, and it made the sauce so unctuous. It added to the dish much more than daiya does. It didn't liquefy, and kind of melt away. It melted, but kept some body and let it's presence be known in the dish. Chao slices are no shrinking violets! Here's the recipe, I hope if anyone tries it, they love it as much as I do.
                                                        Vegan Mac& Chao Cheese!
                                                             1 C. Raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours
                                                              4 T Nutritional yeast
                                                              1tsp. garlic powder
                                                              1/2 tsp. onion powder
                                                               1tsp. dried oregano
                                                               1 tsp. miso paste
                                                               3 slices Chao coconut herb
                                                               1/2 C water
                                                                1/4 C unsweetened plant milk of choice
                                                                1 1/2 tsp. arrowroot, or cornstarch
                                                                S&P to taste

                                                                2 C. Dried pasta, any short shape you prefer.

Blend all ingredients minus the Chao, and pasta. While making the sauce, also boil your pasta according to directions. Cook one minute under time directed. You will be cooking it with the sauce to melt the cheese, and you don't want mushy pasta. (unless you do) You might have to add a little more liquid, I find it's always a little different each time. You want the sauce to be thick. Not so thick that it won't pour out of the blender, but still thick. Once your pasta is done cooking, drain and put back into the pot. Add your cashew sauce, and over med. low heat, stir for one minute to thicken, and come together. Tear the Chao slices into small pieces, and slowly stir into the pasta. Turn off heat, cover pot, and allow to sit for four or five minutes. (so hard.)  Once the time has passed. open the lid and witness the creamiest, dreamiest bowl of pasta ever!

  This is a rich and decadent dish, and the Chao added both wonderful flavor, and texture to this dish.
Now that I've made this once and let Chao kind of be the star, I think next time I might add some roasted garlic to the sauce, and maybe even caramelized onions. The possibilities are endless! Enjoy.

Chao-a-bunga Dude!

I'm becoming a vegan cheese addict, just when I was getting used to a life without. I used daiya sometimes, but maybe like once or twice a month. But I can't stop eating these chao slices! I am now working on the coconut herb, with black pepper. This one would be great on a toasted baguette, with a little drizzle of balsamic vinegar. It's a little sharper than the creamy original, and definitely is herby, and peppery. This flavor is definitely unique. It doesn't remind me of any type of cruel cheese, but it still has the rich, cheesy texture. I bet it would be super tasty topping a Portobello burger. I ingested the whole package of creamy original cold, and I want to try to do something cooked with the coconut herb. I'm going to experiment today, if I can exercise self control, and not eat all of the slices straight out of the package. I feel like the coconut herb would also be wonderful julienned and added to any kind of fancy salad. It doesn't taste super strongly of coconut, but there is a hint of it for sure. Like I said, it's unlike anything I've tasted before, so it's hard to describe. I haven't yet tasted the tomato cayenne, but so far I would say the coconut herb is the one I would put on a cheese and crackers table. It looks all pretty and fancy with the specks of pepper, and oregano.
I truly feel addicted, and part of me doesn't even want to mess around with cooking this cheese. I'm kind of enjoying my addiction, sneaking slices out of the fridge, worrying about how I'm going to get more. It's just so amazing being able to eat it out of the package, I even bought crackers that I still haven't opened, because the cheese is so dang good I don't want anything else ruining the bite!
Another joyous, beautiful win for Field Roast!!!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Smile, and say Chao!

After what feels like the longest wait EVER, I was finally able to splurge on some fresh Chao vegan cheese! Life is good. I planned for this magical moment, and splurged on all three flavors, tomato cayenne, coconut herb, and creamy original. I know that I should practice my patience here, and wait until I've tasted all three flavors, and then talk about it. But what can I say, my life seriously lacks right now, so I want to have three separate, joyous experiences. I'm dragging this out like a reality show. Anyway, I opened the creamy original first. I smelled it, and I swear everyone was right! It smells so cheesey! It does not have any kind of strange, mystery smell at all! And it is not slimy or sweaty, or damp in any way. It feels firm like a deli slice of Swiss, or provolone. And the slices separate very easily, no broken pieces here. I was so nervous tasting it cold, I think most vegans can agree on the fact that if it's not a nut based cheese, do not dare to eat it plain, or uncooked. And once again, everyone was right. I don't know what else to say, I ate two slices plain, right out of the package, and I had to stop myself from eating it all, standing in my kitchen! It reminded me of a muenster, or even maybe a baby Swiss. Honestly, it's been so dang long since I've had cruel cheese, I can't exactly remember, but it has a mild, yet rich flavor which is what I remember about those two cheeses. I then made myself something I thought I would never eat again. A cold cheese sandwich! With just mustard! And it was so freaking good I'm almost in tears thinking about it now.  It has such a nice, firm texture that seems to be lacking in other vegan cheeses. If you haven't tried this cheese yet, I truly can't recommend it enough. When I first heard rumblings about this new vegan cheese that tasted great cold, I was very full of hope, but also doubt. When daiya first came out with their Swiss slices, I felt like it kind of smelled like Swiss. So I ate some cold, out of the package, and all I can say is NO. Good in a grilled cheese, or some other cooked preparation, but not cold, and alone. I am so overjoyed that the hype was so deserved. I would easily serve this to anyone who is not vegan, and even dubious non-vegans. I can't imagine anyone having a problem. I want to give Field Roast the biggest hug for making this delicious product. I paid $5.99 per package, which on my tiny budget is a splurge, but trust me, it is a super low price considering the quality. Field Roast is nailing it, between their grain sausages, and deli slices, and now this insanely delicious cheese. I keep saying it's getting harder and harder to use taste as an excuse for cruelty.
I plan on experimenting with cooking with this cheese, and of course I will be trying the two other flavors very soon, so I will be reporting on all of my findings.Oh, I forgot to mention that the package comes with ten slices, and the slices are hearty. Also, his majesty, Dylan is apparently a daiya shreds loyalist, he wants no part of the Chao. More for me, but I feel bad for him because Chao is pretty much going to always be my vegan cheese of choice. Sorry dude!