You’re the random winner of Sharon Gannon’s Simple Recipes for Joy! Also, well done on taking that step into vegetarianism. I think this cookbook will be ideal for you as you transition to a vegan way of life Thank you to everyone who entered and hopefully, I’ll have some more giveaways coming up! Stay tuned.
I am delighted to share with you this fabulous cookbook, Simple Recipes for Joy: More than 200 Delicious Vegan Recipes by Sharon Gannon, founder of Jivamukti yoga and owner of Jivamuktea Cafe in New York City’s Union Square. You might be asking, What on earth is Jivamukti yoga?! Well, in 1984, along with David Life, Gannon created this type of yoga that combines hatha yoga and vinyasa-based-physical style yoga with adherence to five central tenets: shastra (scripture), bhakti (devotion), ahimsa (non-harming), nada (musis) and dhyana (meditation). Social activism, animal rights, veganism and environmentalism is also a major component to the practice.
“Jivamukti Yoga is a path to enlightenment through compassion for all beings. Jiva mutki is a Sanskrit word that means to live liberated in joyful, musical harmony with the Earth. The Earth does not belong to us—we belong to the Earth. Let us celebrate our connection to life by not enslaving animals and exploiting the Earth, and attain freedom and happiness for ourselves in the process. For surely, the way to uplift our own lives is to do all we can to uplift the lives of others. Go vegan!”
Don’t be too fooled by the whimsical cover; Gannon takes veganism, her yoga and her recipes very serious. The forward, by the crazy, sexy vegan herself, Kris Carr, is an informative, poignant and compelling opening that highlights the importance of adopting a vegan diet for the health of humans, animals and Mother Earth. Gannon’s passion and heart comes through in the pages of her introduction, where she discusses her path to veganism and why it is so imperative for us to go vegan to not just better our health, but to save the animals and the planet. If you’re a longtime vegan, you may find it gets a little redundant, but for a new vegan, it’s such an awesome resource, especially when you might need a hand in explaining to others the importance of a vegan diet. Packed full of facts and figures, Gannon’s introduction should be read by every meat-eater on Earth. In addition to a plethora of recipes, Gannon also includes an informative FAQ section, Cooking Tips, what makes a well-stocked kitchen, 30 Sample Menus and how to do a 21-Day Cleanse.
As the title says, many of these recipes are very simple. The seasoned vegan might scoff at some of the simplicity of a few recipes like the Vegan BLT on page 238, or the “Toasts” chapter, but the beauty of these recipes, is that it shows new, or thinking-of-becoming, vegans who might have the misconception that veganism is difficult. There are plenty of unique recipes, however, that will challenge your taste buds and maybe even introduce you to flavors and ingredients you’ve never tried before. I’m anxious to try the Maharini Dal on page 61, the Spaghetti and “Meat Balls” on page 104 and the Hippy Carrot Cake on page 282. There’s something for everyone from tons of soup recipes, pastas, grains, sandwiches, desserts and lots more. With beautiful pictures throughout, this is a joyful and delicious cookbook to have.
So far, I have made . . .
Lemon-Lentil Soup, page 65
Oh, lentils! Love them! This soup, ladled over basmati rice is a flavorful, lemony dish that is easy to prepare.
Caesar Salad with Tempeh Croutons, page 128
Fabulous! The dressing is tangy and delicious and I love using sauteed tempeh as croutons.
Cornbread, page 256
Made with coconut milk, this cornbread is moist, delicious and ever-so fluffy! And talk about simple—it was ready in no time at all.
So, I’ll bet you want to win a copy for yourself, or for a friend, right? Well, all you have to do is leave a comment and tell me why Simple Recipes for Joy would be the perfect addition to your cookbook library. (It also wouldn’t hurt to like my Facebook page, while you’re at it.) The cookbook will be released September 16th and I will giveaway a copy Friday, September 19th, so get your comments in by midnight, MST on Thursday, the 18th. Good luck!
I was thrilled to have the opportunity to try out these Hand-Formed Burgers from Field Roast. Each package comes with 4 hand-formed burgers all ready for the grill (or in my case, grill pan).
To start, here’s what’s in ‘em.
One of the reasons I really enjoy Field Roast products (besides the absence of strange, unpronounceable ingredients) is that they don’t taste like real meat. That’s right. Sometimes, when meatless products taste too similar to the real deal, it grosses me out. But with Field Roast, even though the texture is very, very similar, the taste is all its own. With lots of vegetables, fruits and seasonings, Field Roast products taste fresh and flavorful. (Even our meat-eating friends and family have enjoyed Field Roast). These burgers are really no exception. We don’t use the grill that often (so I’m sure there’s a wasps’ nest inside of it by now), so I opted to use my trusty grill pan. I lightly sprayed the surface with cooking spray and over medium heat, I sauteed the burgers, about 3-4 minutes per side.
We didn’t get too fancy with all the toppings, as I didn’t want to mask up the flavor of the Field Roast, especially since this was the first time I was trying them. I went with the traditional lettuce, tomato, mayo and ketchup.
SO DELICIOUS! The three of us loved these burgers and would certainly buy these (although the fat content is a lot higher than I’d like). They stay moist, not dried out like a typical “veggie burger.” And of course, the flavor is outstanding; just the right amount of seasonings. These burgers can also be crumbled up and used as a ground “beef.” I have another package left and I’m torn over what to do: we have a neighborhood BBQ on Tuesday, so do I save the other package for that, or crumble them up for a new recipe?! Oh, the dilemma! You’ll probably find out soon. Since we had gone all traditional with these burgers, I couldn’t resist making some oven-baked fries to go with them . . .
The Husband’s neatly sliced burger . . .
I just went for it . . .
Overall, another excellent product from Field Roast that makes my vegan life even easier (and tastier). Thanks, Field Roast!
So how green is your garden? Right now, ours is pretty white . . . and brown. It was certainly a nice surprise when Green Buffalo Food Company asked me to review one of their fresh produce boxes, delivered right to my door, no less. I’ve mention GBF before and how their box of organic fruit and veggie goodness had saved me (more than once) when it came to making dinner. GBF, based in Fort Collins provides locally-grown, certified organic fruits and vegetables to homes in Northern Colorado. (To see if your zip code is within their delivery routes, click HERE). You can opt for weekly or every-other-week delivery, choose from several different sizes of orders, AND customize your order, which takes the mystery out of that “mystery vegetable” that many CSAs include in their orders.
Recently, Grant Farms, one of the country’s largest CSAs, located north of Fort Collins, filed for bankruptcy and left thousands of its customers without their produce. A few years ago, myself and two other neighbors shared an order from Grant Farms and after one season, we decided that not only was it too expensive, but we always ended up with an unbalanced box of produce. I love kale, but even I can’t go through 5 bunches of it in a week! I love the idea of customizing my fruit and veggie order so that I know exactly what I’m getting—and we support a local farmer in the process. Not only that, it’s delivered right to my door.
I was given the option, via email, to customize my box, but I was pleased with what was already on the list. I received GBF’s Fresh Front Range box:
Gorgeous, huh? This box, a mix of both fruits and vegetables, is $33.99. I received: (all organic)
2 Cameo apples
2 Red Delicious apples
2 large avocados
1 lb bag baby carrots
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch leaf lettuce
2 red onion
3 Navel oranges
2 green bell pepper
2 (delicious!) heirloom tomatoes
As always, I was impressed with the quality and size of the produce. It can be difficult to find organic produce in stores that are not half the size of conventionally-grown produce, and frankly, ugly as hell. No homely runts here.
Everything is packaged carefully and in the summer, you can even expect ice packs tucked inside to keep the produce fresh. Green Buffalo also strives to live up to their name by committing themselves to being eco-friendly by recycling their shipping cartons, having efficient driving routes, and composting any unusable produce to The Growing Project. They are also committed to making the community a better place by donating leftovers to the Larimer County Food Bank.
Green Buffalo Food boxes start at $24.99 for The Mini. A typical box includes 2 apples, 2 avocado, 1 head of broccoli, 3 bananas, 1 carrot, 1 grapefruit, 2 pears, 1 leaf lettuce bunch, and 3 baby bok choy. And don’t forget, you have the option to change anything in this box, as well as add anything, ala carte style! GBF has eight different box options to choose from, so you’re bound to find one that fits your needs.
I also received a one-page newsletter with recipes, specials of the week, and other veggie news. There are no upfront costs, no membership fees, no cancellation fees, or contracts to sign. You are only charged on the day of delivery and you can cancel or make changes to your order anytime up to 2 days before your delivery date. You can Get Started and easily maintain your account online—it’s that easy!
Green Buffalo Foods have been such a pleasure to work with and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them. I think we all know how important fruits and vegetables are to our diet—especially organically-grown ones, and GBF really takes out the guesswork. Check out their great blog for recipes and much more. Also, be sure to visit their Facebook page for updates and contests!
I haven’t been cooking or baking anything exciting lately, so sorry for my lack of recipes since Thanksgiving. So I thought I’d throw in a product review. I found these earth-friendly and sustainable cosmetic brushes at Walgreens (of all places) and thought I give them a try. They’re by EcoTools and they have a pretty large line of cosmetic accessories. Unfortunately, I couldn’t peruse their site because they seem to be having problems with pages loading. As soon as they’re back up and running, I’ll update the link. Not only was I drawn to the fact that are made from the ever so sustainable bamboo plant, natural and recycled materials and 100% cruelty-free, but because they were very reasonably priced. The 6-piece brush set was $11.99 and the single brush was $7.99. The five brushes also come with a cotton and hemp bag that has a zippered pocket and folds over.
The brushes are incredibly soft (which of course, is true for any new cosmetic brush) and I thought they all worked beautifully. In case you’re not sure how certain brushes work, the back of the package will enlighten you . . . which never hurts.
Like with all cosmetics brushes, I recommend washing them at least once a week with a mild liquid soap and lay them flat to dry, never standing up, as the water will rot the handle. Walgreens also carries a few of the products from EcoTools’ Alicia Silverstone line. (Again, the link is down, so I’ll update when it’s up and running). In the meantime, you can at least check out their homepage.
I discovered these crackers a few months ago, and I’ve been buying them ever since. They’re made by Edward & Sons and come in a variety of flavors including vegetable, toasted onion, and black sesame. I’ve only been able to find the vegetable and toasted onion ones at the store, but you can order the other varieties HERE. Of the two, the vegetable flavored one is my favorite. These are vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, and 96% organic. Ingredients: Organic Brown Rice Flour, Organic White Rice Flour, Organic Expeller-Pressed Sunflower Oil, Carrots, Garlic, Onions, Red Bell Peppers, Tomatoes, Sea Salt, Citric Acid, Green Bell Peppers. Dehydrated vegetable powders. It ain’t easy finding a tasty vegan and gluten-free cracker, but it looks like Ed and his sons have done an excellent job!
They’re ideal with Daiya cheese!
Not eating wheat, it can be tough not being able to make a quick sandwich. Scouring the pantry, I found Chunky Chickpeas from Tasty Bite.
We’ve taken these camping because they’re so easy—just pour into a pan and heat. At home, you can heat the packet in the microwave for 90 seconds. In this case, I decided to combine the chickpeas with some cooked rice and diced mushrooms. So easy! During the last few minutes of cooking the rice, throw in some mushrooms. Then heat the chickpeas in the microwave (according to the package instructions) and stir into the rice. Voila. Lunch is served.
The ingredients in the packet are simple: water, chickpeas, onions, sunflower oil, garlic, ginger, coriander, salt, cumin, and spices. There’s even 9 grams of protein per 1/2 a packet. I don’t remember how much the packets are, but I know they’re just over $3. (The Bombay Potatoes variety is awesome)!
The Husband and I picked up this $6 bread mix, made by Mannons Foods, a while back and I finally got around to making it. Seeing as the Broncos played (and WON) today, and we were headed over to our friend’s house to watch, it seemed like the ideal thing to bring. And on top of that, I made it with our favorite local brew, Fat Tire from New Belgium. Oh yeah, and the bread mix is made in Colorado, too!
All I had to do was combine the mix with 12 ounces of beer, pour it into a greased loaf pan and bake it for 50 minutes. That’s it.
It smelled incredible as it baked, too. So what’s in the magic bag? Check out the ingredients:
Bleached Enriched Flour, Sugar, Baking Powder, Chile Peppers, Onions, Salt, Garlic & Jalapeno Peppers.
The mix can be used as a batter on veggies, too. 1/8 cup of the dry mix contains 100 calories, no fat, and 2 grams of protein.
I let it cool for about 5-10 minutes before removing (quite easily) from the pan.
I wrapped it foil and about an hour later, it was still warm. It sliced very easily.
We were all very impressed! The bread was moist and had so much flavor. The Red Chile was not overpowering, nor was the beer taste. It would be great paired with soup, or even drizzled with some agave. You can find all kinds of products from Mannons Foods and have them shipped directly to you.
The other night just seemed like an appetizer night. Every once in a while we’ll peruse Whole Foods, or Sunflower Market for some vegan appetizers for dinner. We had never tried Nate’s Savory Mushroom Meatless Meatballs before and anything that says “savory mushrooms,” we’re all over it. I’ve had Nate’s Zesty Meatless Meatballs, and we weren’t that impressed. They had no flavor—even with marinara sauce and cheese on them. I was willing to give these a try, however.
There are three methods of cooking them listed on the back: stove top, oven or microwave. We went with the oven: 375 for 10 minutes. They come with zero saturated fat, no trans fat, no cholesterol, 8 grams of protein, and only 4.5 grams of total fat. So onto the taste . . . they weren’t good. Not only did they have NO FLAVOR, the little taste that they did have, was not good at all. They tasted very fake. All three of us tried one and none of us liked them. Bummer. We were hoping for more. You’re better off making your own.
Now, on to better news . . .
These were outstanding! I usually have a problem with fake chicken products that taste too much like the real thing—it really grosses me out, but for some reason, these don’t do that to me—and the consistency and taste are pretty close to real chicken. We all loved these, especially with the vegan ranch dip. Gardein makes many varieties, and the Chipotle Lime flavoring is just right—not overpowering. We baked them at 450 for 20-25 minutes. They have 6 grams of fat (0.5 grams of saturated fat), no cholesterol and 16 grams of protein. These would be ideal cut up for a “chicken” salad.
The guys wanted onion rings and vegetarian tamales as well. I made some hummus to go on pitas and crackers and it was a fun and delicious (minus the “meat” balls) appetizer night.
Bacon. People love bacon. I have a friend who said that her husband would give her up before he gave up bacon. I swear it ranks up there with the right to bear arms; don’t take away my guns or my bacon.
Believe me, I’ve eaten my share of bacon before I went vegan, so I understand. But I can honestly say that I don’t miss it. Lately, I’ve been making sandwiches with Lightlife’s Smart Bacon and we really love it. The 5-ounce package is about 14 slices and come sealed.
The slices peel very easily. Lightly spray a skillet with cooking spray and cook the slices for 3 to 3-1/2 minutes on each side. Look at that! They’re not swimming in grease! They do, however, smell very similar to real bacon as they cook. They’ll start to get slightly brown on the edges and cook up rather crispy. Obviously, without all the fat and grease, Smart Bacon is dryer and crispier. We all really like the taste of it and agree that on a sandwich, it tastes amazing and incredibly like the real deal. By itself, you’ll notice it’s different, but it’s still extremely tasty in its own right. The other thing is that it’s thick; closer to the thick-cut bacon kind.
Here’s a list of ingredients:
Water, soy protein isolate, wheat gluten, soybean oil, texured soy protein concentrate, textured wheat gluten, less than 2% of: natural smoke flavor, natural flavor (from vegetable sources), grill flavor (from sunflower oil), carrageenan, evaporated cane juice, paprika oleoresin (for flavor and color), potassium chloride, sesame oil, fermented rice flour, tapioca dextrin, citric acid, salt. Contains: soy, wheat, sesame.
Now, let’s look at the nutritional facts: (I compared it with Farmland Thick Cut Bacon)
1 slice of Smart Bacon contains 20 calories, 10 calories from fat, real bacon has about 100 calories and 80 calories from fat. Smart Bacon has 1 gram of fat, no saturated fat, no trans fat, no polyunsaturated fat, and no monounsaturated fat. Real bacon contains 9 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat and doesn’t list totals for the other fats. Smart Bacon has no cholesterol, where real bacon has 15 mg of cholesterol. Smart Bacon has 140 mg of sodium per slice where real bacon contains 320 mg of sodium. Even though there are 2 grams of protein in Smart Bacon and 5 grams in real bacon, I’m willing to grab some extra protein somewhere else—it’s not worth the added fat, sodium, and cholesterol those extra grams of protein come with.
*Keep in mind, there are a number of companies that provide several varieties of bacon. Even the thin-sliced, “all-natural,” uncured bacon still has over twice the calories and 4x the fat of Smart Bacon. By the way, turkey bacon isn’t that much better than real bacon. It still ranks up there with calories, fat, and sodium.
So let’s get to the BLTA (bacon-lettuce-tomato-avocado) sandwich! Put it all together, let’s compare the caloric intake.
I used Rudi’s Sourdough, reduced-fat Vegenaise, 2 slices of Smart Bacon, 1 medium sliced tomato, 3 slices of avocado, and a large iceberg lettuce leaf. It’s important to remember that regular mayo (including Vegenaise) contains 90 calories per tablespoon. The reduced fat is 45—the same for both regular and soy-based ones. Bread makes a big difference, too. That’s actually where the bulk of the calories come from. 1 slice of Rudi’s Sourdough has a whopping 100 calories! (Yes, I will be finding a healthier version).
A regular BLTA:
2 slices of bread: 200 calories, 2 slices of bacon: 200 calories, 1 Tbs reduced-fat mayo: 45 calories, 1 medium tomato slice (1/4″ thick): 4 calories, 1 large leaf of iceberg lettuce: 2 calories, 1/8 of an avocado (3 slices): 70 calories. For a grand total of: 521 calories
A vegan BLTA:
2 slices of Rudi’s Sourdough vegan bread: 200 calories, 2 slices of Smart Bacon: 40 calories, 1 Tbs reduced-fat Vegenaise: 45 calories, 1 medium tomato slice (1/4″ thick): 4 calories, 1 large iceberg lettuce leaf: 2 calories, 1/8 of an avocado (3 slices): 70 calories. For a grand total of: 361 calories.
I definitely recommend trying Lightlife Smart Bacon! Have it on sandwiches or crumble it up in salads. It’s a great tasty, healthy alternative to real bacon. Your colon will thank you! By the way, if anyone knows of a delicious vegan, low-calorie bread, let me know!