Monday, December 16, 2013

Eco/Vegan Gift Guide, Part 1

What do you get the vegan/health nut/eco-concious person in your life?

Uhhh where do I begin?!

As a vegan who loves gifts- both giving and receiving, I am sort of an expert on this question. I worked hard to get this post up to answer it in time for the holidays, but the gifts below are good ideas for all-year round and all occasions. Bookmark it and come back for b-days, graduation, anniversaries, and "just-becauses!"
Everything here is me-approved. Unless I clearly state otherwise, I will never post anything that is untried by yours truly. I have zero interest in marketing items I don't personally love and believe in! Felt I should say that, now here we go, categorized by recipient:

1. The No-Meat Athlete

More of my photos on my Instagram: @veganlifeisgood

I made the "Vega Bouquet" above for my trainer/colleague/guy-friend Billy Bad Ass for his birthday. I'm pretty proud of the idea, and he loved it. I got the vase for a $1 at Goodwill and taped each single-serve packet to a bamboo skewer. If you don't know about Vega, they make a line of protein powders, endurance gels, and the like, all vegan and decently tasty. You can find their products in pretty much any store with health and nutrition items; I got these at Whole Foods. Oh, and check out Billy's website Herbivore Athletics while you're at it- sign yourself and your favorite athlete up for his entertaining and informative newsletters. I learn something new every time!

2. The Sentimentalist:

I found several sellers on Etsy who are taking recycled silverware and stamping memorable/funny messages, names, dates, or other personalization onto silverware. I think it would be a cute idea to have one stamped with a name for every member of the table at a dinner party, or at a wedding. I ordered this one from: Bella Jackson Studios.  Note: The shipping on this one took awhile. I would contact the seller directly if you are trying to get it by Christmas or another specific date to make sure it is possible.

3. The Aesthete: 

If you know someone who likes to be surrounded by beauty, even when dining, I cannot recommend these lovely bowls enough. I've ordered 3 and can vouch that they are more beautiful in person, and true works of art. Again, check with the seller on shipping times, they have earned recent recognition in magazines like Everyday with Rachel Ray and seem to be a busy company. They have many more designs and colors:  Owl Creek Ceramics on Etsy

4. The Chef:

Okay, this is also fitting for the aforementioned sentimentalist/aesthete categories. I bought this beautiful cutting/serving board for my friend who is from Oregon. I researched and made sure it would be a quality tool to withstand the test of time and recipes, and in the end she decided to hang it on the wall as art! And who can blame her? I needed it in a rush and the seller, Hans, was very quick to make the custom heart over her hometown of Roseburg and to ship it to me. Many other states are available in his shop, and he states orders by Dec 18 will ship in time for X-mas:
 Alden Woods Designs on Etsy

*I have heard they also have state-shaped cutting boards at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I cannot vouch for their quality, but that at least gives you an option after the 18th if you are loving this idea.

5. The Host/Hostess:

Visiting family for X-mas? Attending a fun party? Let your gracious host or hostess know you appreciate them opening their home to you with this gracious little gift for... their home! Soy candles bypass any vegan debate on beeswax. I personally LOVE the holiday scents from Illume candles (found at Whole Foods), especially "woodfire," which does make the room smell, gently, of its namesake!

6. Bonus Gift- Stocking Stuffer:
My instagram: @veganlifeisgood
If you've been my friend on Instagram for awhile you may have seem this photo posted the day I first bought Go Raw Super Cookies. I still love them and recommend the lemon, gingersnap, and chocolate flavors! So good! They are not only vegan but also nut, wheat, and gluten free. They are available at health food stores, or if you live in San Diego you can go to the Go Raw Life Center at Liberty Station in Point Loma and pick them up in person. Good luck not buying 10 other things while you're there, they are quite an amazing and delicious establishment.

Hope that was helpful to some folks out there. That's it for this round, but check back for many more gift ideas in the future!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Vegan Cran-Pumpkin Sausage Stuffing with Chestnuts and Apple

I know I'm a bit late to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, but there is still plenty of time to say Happy Holidays!
Among all the things I was grateful for, including friends who open their doors (and tables) to me, a few precious days off from work, and leftovers (mmm!), I am also celebrating an anniversary of sorts. 18 delicious months of being vegan! And what better way to celebrate than with perhaps the most delicious and festive vegan dish I've made so far? I mean, look:

See more photos and recipes on my Instagram: @veganlifeisgood

I followed the recipe here almost to the letter (clicking will open it in a new window):

Notes: For the vegan breadcrumbs, I used Ezekiel brand, toasted beforehand then chopped. I added extra OJ and broth as my crumbs were still a bit dry after mixing them in. I also added extra celery, sausage, and cranberries, just 'cuz I wanted to be eating this for a week after spending so much time in the kitchen! I totally did, too.

First thing to do was to score the chestnuts with a shallow "X" to keep them from exploding in the oven.

I prepped everything while roasting the chestnuts. Try to do those ahead of time because hurriedly opening hot chestnuts was NOT fun and a bit painful. I do not know how the open-fire roasters sing about these so cheerfully. They were worth it though. So good!

I used the Field Roast Apple Sage sausage mentioned in the recipe, found at Whole Foods, and it is really good stuff. I'll have to get it into some future recipes, because, well... DANG. I love it. 

By the time I got it into the pan for the oven, I could already tell this was going to be one amazing dish. It came out beautifully, was well-received by members of my friend's not-at-all-vegan family, and stuffed my leftover sandwiches for days, and days, and days. 

The verdict? Total winner. If you have the time to make this and want to impress and amaze, look no further.

PS: The heart bowl is handmade:   Neal Pottery on Etsy
The owners are vegan and really nice folks. I bought two and love them so.

Speaking of beautiful things, stay tuned to the blog for my Vegan Gift Guide, and many more holiday recipes!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Mediterranean Bruschetta with Olives, Capers, and Roasted Red Peppers

Out of everything I made for Thanksgiving, this easy recipe got the most "mmm's!" Most of it was devoured as we dashed around the kitchen, staving off our hunger as we made the last preparations for dinner.

It is easy and elegant and I think it will forevermore replace hummus as my go-to appetizer, to please vegans and non-vegans alike.

See more photos and recipes on my Instagram: @veganlifeisgood

Vegan Mediterranean Bruschetta 

     Adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • Organic Extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 cup or to taste, plus 1 tbsp
  • dash of salt
  • Pitted Kalamata olives, sliced in half
  • Drained and rinsed capers (a whole 2 or 3 oz jar will do)
  • Thinly sliced fresh garlic, 1-2 cloves
  • Red-wine vinegar to taste
  • fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • sliced sourdough baguette

There are lots of ways to roast red peppers, or capsicums. I prefer using the same oil that will be in the rest of the bruschetta and low heat of 400 F, but if you want to really blister them try vegetable oil under the broiler. But I just used that extra tbsp of oil and the salt to coat the slices in a bowl, then spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roasted in the oven for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the olives, capers, and garlic in a bowl. You will want to add the roasted peppers next, and then play with the amount of oil, vinegar, and fresh pepper. I kept adding more oil until I could see a spoonful of the bruschetta really moisten the bread. If time allows, allow the mixture to marinate for a bit in the fridge. Serve spooned onto the bread, toasted or un-toasted. Both ways are delicious!

*Note: Careful with the garlic. It gets more intense as the flavors marinate. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Raw Chocolate Donuts

Do you eat vegan/raw/clean but crave decadent holiday treats? Me too!
This time of year doesn't have to be a challenge. I found a recipe over at Plant Powered Living's website that solves all our problems and tastes as naughty as those little chocolate Hostess Donettes, while still being raw, clean, vegan AND gluten free!!!

See more of my pictures on Instagram @veganlifeisgood

Here is the link to the recipe:  Amazing Raw Chocolate Cinnamon Donuts

 * A couple of notes:
     -I left out 1/2 of the cinnamon in the recipe and subbed nutmeg instead. To me, nutmeg is the essential flavor in donut-making.
     -Have a good rubber scraper on hand. The mixture gets really sticky in the food processor.
     -To make a clean glaze, add cinnamon to a little water mixed with agave or syrup.
     -The recipe calls for cashews OR almonds. I used cashews that had been soaked only an hour and they worked fine! Almonds will need more time.

I met some of the guys from Plant Powered Living at VegFest in San Diego and having been loving the recipes on their website. Check 'em out.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tofu Steaks in a Holiday Marinade

Yesterday I shared a bright and seasonal kale pomegranate salad with a creamy sunflower seed, mustard, and avocado dressing. Here is another beautiful vegan dish featuring fresh satsuma oranges and rosemary, from the same Whole Foods pamphlet. The two recipes together cost me just over $20, though I had several of the ingredients already. The flavors in this one taste very appropriate for a holiday meal! Here is a printable version:

from Whole Foods, love that it's vegan!

Prepping the marinade, trying not to drink up the fresh satsuma juice.

The dates, cinnamon, and cayenne really gave this a unique sweet and spiciness. The marinade gave me an excuse to use a sprig of fresh rosemary from our garden!

Tofu steaks marinating, and smelling delicious already!
I only had time to marinate for 1/2 an hour, and that seemed to work fine, but they can be done overnight too for more flavor.

Warming the oranges in the steak pan after turning the heat off

The satsumas really brighten the plate, in taste and in looks!

See more recipes and photos on my Instagram! @veganlifeisgood

As of today I have a short holiday off work, which means more kitchen time. Lots more holiday recipes coming right up!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Kale & Pomegranate Holiday Salad

I was thrilled to see my Whole Foods put out a little booklet of vegan holiday recipes that are under $20! So far I have made 2 and they are cheap, easy, and delicious. The first was this beautiful salad with an AMAZING dressing. This can be made all year round by substituting the pomegranates for seasonal fruit.

More pictures on my Instagram: @veganlifeisgood

Instead of typing their recipe, I thought I'd take a picture, so those of you with a printer could just print it and head for the store! Here it is:

Free recipe from Whole Foods

Don't forget to toast the sunflower seeds! It really brings out the flavor. I used whole, raw ones.
I substituted stone-ground mustard for Dijon 
This one is worthy of the holiday table. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Walnut Pesto

I love making pesto because it is so versatile. If I have a jar of it, I can reach for it for pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and veggie dip. Here's how I make mine:

More pictures on my Instagram: @veganlifeisgood

Vegan Walnut Pesto:
-1 or 2 cups raw walnuts, soaked in fresh water a few hours or overnight, then rinsed
-1 med. bunch of basil (2- 3 cups packed)
-1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil
-3 garlic cloves
-juice of 1 lemon
-salt, to taste
*optional: vegan Parmesan
-tools: a food processor

Pesto is always an experiment that involves me hovering over my food processor with my taster spoon. I start with some of the walnuts and some of the basil and oil and build from there. I wouldn't even say these are the exact measurements because I add a little here, another there. Flavorwise, I tend to be light on the basil and toss in extra garlic. Oil goes in til the perfect mix of chunkiness and spread-ability happens.

When I dip my spoon in and it finally comes back with a Halleluiah chorus singing on my taste buds, I throw it in a mason jar and enjoy it for up to 5 days. I don't know if that's the shelf life, I've just never had a batch last longer than that before being devoured! If you have extra you can also freeze it.

Tip: You can substitute pine nuts for walnuts to make a more traditional pesto, or sub parsley for basil in a pinch.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Banana Island: Days 1 and 2

For an explanation of the Banana Island cleanse and the health benefits of bananas and raw food in general, see my previous post:
My Banana Island, Day 0: Why Bananas? and Preparations

*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor a nutritionist.What I write here is based on my opinions and research and my experience will not be universal to all people.

Day 1:

On day 1 I had approximately 18 bananas ( I lost exact count at lunch). I felt very full and honestly quite sick of bananas by midday, but soldiered on in the spirit of banana island. Physically I was feeling quite good, probably from how healthy I'd been eating prior to the cleanse, but by the time I got home from work I had an  headache of the magnitude I associate with caffeine withdrawl. This was mysterious to me given that I'd given up caffeine weeks ago. Trying to cure it with icy liquid, I put some frozen raspberries in my water bottle and went to kickboxing class, where I felt very energized despite the headache. I was able to do all the moves, plus sprinting and a sadistic amount of squats. No problems there.
I decided to jazz up my banana dinner with a raw sauce made of blended carrot, banana, plum, water, and pumpkin pie spices. I arranged my banana into a sort of pie and heaped it generously with sauce to photograph for Instagram. The rest I ate together with more bananas out of a bowl:

More photos on my instagram: @veganlifeisgood

As a rule I have not been eating after 8, so it was a rush to get it down after kickboxing. After that, my stomach was definitely full but I was craving something warm. I made honeybush tea, which is lovely and contains no actual honey

At the end of day one my observations were:
-I had plenty of energy and felt calm, and light on my feet
-My skin was looking better daily
-My digestion was slower than usual until nighttime, then started working great
-I didn't think I'd last another day on B.I., as I was tired of bananas.

Day 2:

On day 2 I only pulled off maybe 9 bananas. As I mentioned in my Day 0 post, a flaw in my planning was not going to the store days beforehand to get bananas and ripen them on my porch. I ended up having to eat a lot of not-too-ripe bananas that hadn't grown spots yet. On day 2 I think they hit my system hard. The calm feeling of Day 1 was replaced by irritability and a lack of focus at work, and I ended up eating 2 grapefruits and 2 apples for lunch and only 1 banana. By the time I got home I felt a new resolve to get my banana on, but I did add cacao powder to the 4-banana and water smoothie I made. It tasted great. On a cleanse you really appreciate any variety in taste and texture, so I was loving my smoothie!
However, my energy levels had run low and I fell asleep til evening. I had a last banana, then caved when my roommate presented me with a homemade vegan energy bar. It ok but actually felt too heavy on my taste buds. I also spotted a zucchini in the fridge, and as I was beginning to deeply crave some veggies, it went down the hatch too. More tea and sleep.

Observations from Day 2:
-skin continues looking better/brighter daily
-energy and emotional levels very low
-hard to resist the temptation of other foods
-digestion working awesome

I just finished living Day 3 but haven't had time to write it all down yet. I can say from this side of it, though, that things felt much better on Day 3 and for the first time I could see results on my body. Stay tuned ;)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My Banana Island, Day 0: Why Bananas? and Preparations

I wanted to document my experience with Banana Island, which is essentially a cleanse where you eat as many bananas as you want. I know it may sound fruity! I recommend skeptics head over to and check out Freelee's videos. She is a wonderful inspiration for anyone looking into raw foodism, and helped me when I was making the transition to veganism. Also, her videos and research could explain why I would do this much better than I can put into words, but here are the results of some research I've done*:

Raw foods are full of enzymes, and so aid in their own digestion. Food that is cooked or pasteurized does not contain these enzymes and thus requires a much greater effort from our bodies to digest. Digestion typically requires more energy than any other body function. This is why our energy levels plummet after large, cooked meals (aka the "food coma," you KNOW what that feels like). People who eat large meals of raw vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds, however, usually report an increase in energy levels. This is because they have set their bodies free to perform other functions such as repair and rejuvenation. This is the reason I juice almost daily, because I get so much nutrition for very little effort!

Out of all the reasons I could list, I'd like to focus on one: potasssium. Now, most of us are aware by adulthood that potassium is a buzzword for health. Like, it has a lot to do with something important to our health, and bananas have it. Right? That was the extent of my knowledge until I put in some research.
As it turns out, our potassium-to-sodium levels are a critical key to vibrant health. High sodium, low potassium diets are directly linked to all the major health problems in our country (and leading causes of death) like heart disease, cancer, and strokes. Potassium deficiency has the lesser effects of mental confusion, irritability, weakness, as well as heart, nerve, and muscle problems.The reverse, high-potassium and low-sodium intakes, are preventative to these health problems and are key to lowering high blood pressure. It isn't enough just to restrict sodium, the high potassium intake is also essential.
Most people have a potassium to sodium ratio of less than 1:2, which means they ingest twice as much sodium as potassium. However, researchers have recommended at least a 5:1 ratio, and a diet high in fruits and vegetables can achieve a ratio greater than 100:1! This douses your body in the electrolytes that aide in so many of its most important functions. Without enough potassium, cells will burst their sodium-potassium pump, fatigue sets in and muscles grow weak.

There are some of my answers to WHY. On to the HOW of Banana Island!

See more photos on my Instagram: @veganlifeisgood

Some things to note:

-Even though my sources are, I myself am not a doctor or a nutritionist. The things I write are my opinion and experience, and the things that work (or don't) for me are not for everyone.

-I am not pressuring myself to stick entirely to bananas and am allowing some other raw fruits and veggies. For one, when I went to stock up in the store most of the bananas were still green, a problem I'll explain later. Also, I do not have a specific goal like detox or an expectation of weight loss. If I really wanted those results I would be following Freelee's advice to the letter, but I am doing this mostly to cleanse my digestive tract, maximize my potassium intake, and for the adventure!

-I prepared for this, and even then, I've already discovered that I didn't prepare enough. I urge anyone considering a cleanse to get their body, mind, and pantry in the right place before embarking on one. More on that, coming up...

That's right! Day Zero. This was the day I really prepared myself for cleansing, although I have been eating mostly raw for weeks and eliminated caffeine from my diet, which was a cleanse in and of itself. I will make a post soon about how I did it and why. The point is, after eating so well for so long, I knew I was ready for a cleanse and that it wouldn't be a shock to my system, or my mind. I think a lot of healthy detox and cleanse ideas have a bad rap because people try them without preparing themselves, and as soon as the pangs begin or the fruit basket is empty, failure creeps in along with disgust for the process.

For the mental aspect, I watched some videos on Youtube, including the skeptics. I wanted to be aware of potential set-backs, but usually watching any kind of vegan videos gets me fired up and these just reaffirmed my purpose. There are some really beautiful raw foodists who put their whole selves into their Youtube accounts, and I love them for spreading that around. Anyway, it helped motivate me and get my mind in gear, and it was reassuring to hear from others that they had eaten other things besides bananas too.

Foodwise, that day I ate... mostly bananas! That's right. If you're going on a cleanse, you should work your cleansing foods into your diet gradually, and I had already been eating a ton of bananas. I won't call it Day 1 only because I enjoyed other fruits for breakfast and made a massive spiralized raw zucchini noodle dish for dinner (pictured above).

I also prepped by buying a cart-full of bananas at the store, but this is where I hit my first potential snag: most of the bananas in the store were not ripe. They were still bright yellow or even had a greenish tinge at the stem. A good, ripe banana shows itself by having brown spots (not bruises, mind you, but those freckles of brown that most people think looks unappetizing, but the fruit under the peel is perfect!) and is easier to digest and much healthier. Really, looking back, I should have bought my bananas days ahead of time and ripened them at home. More on this later.

Check out my next post, Banana Island Days 1-2, coming up!

*I got a lot of information from the wonderful book The Complete Book of Juicing. Aside from great recipes, it is a powerhouse of information on raw food and nutrition, and I highly recommend it. I am in no way compensated for this recommendation, I honestly love this book.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Simple Juices: Part 2

Awhile back I posted some easy 2 ingredient juices (click here to see that post) that pack a punch against cancer and are soooo good in so many other ways. Here, as promised, are some more of my favorite supersimple concoctions I put through my juicer:

Watermelon Lemonade
  • 1/2 watermelon
  • 1/2 lemon, peeled
In my original Instagram post, I added lots of fresh water and some agave to this recipe. plus another half lemon with the peel on through the juicer. Not only is this new recipe easier, I think it is actually quite tastier. Why water this down and add sweetener if it isn't necessary? Only add the extras (and plenty of ice!) if you want a pitcher-full for a party.

Orange & Ginger
  • As many oranges as you can drink (I average 5-6!)
  • 1/2" to 1" peeled fresh ginger
When I juice ginger, I cut into whatever else I'm using, in this case an orange, and wedge the ginger inside to easily juice them together.
This is such a good juice for immunity or fighting an existing sickness. I was experiencing a lot of detox symptoms from eating raw and kicking caffeine, so the orange nourished me while the ginger blasted my tummy troubles and migraines. I felt so much better if I could get a big, simple juice into me before a raw meal!

Watermelon + Mint

  • Tons of fresh watermelon
  • Handful of mint, plus more for soaking/garnish
If you read this post you already know of my serious affection for the combination of watermelon and mint. Life really does not get much tastier than these two together. Enjoy the last of summer watermelon while you can, the weather here in Santa Cruz has been alternating between getting a bit crisp then heating back up again.

Stay tuned for many more juices. Or you can follow my instagram account @veganlifeisgood, which shows tons of creations that I can't keep up with on the blog! Here's a little taste of what I've been up to:

Follow me on Instagram! @veganlifeisgood

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Recipe: Raw Bourbon Vanilla Almond Milk

Fresh almond milk has got to be one of my all-time favorite vegan discoveries. The first few times I tried making it, though, I was ready to write it off as more trouble than it was worth. Now that I have access to better appliances I am back on the homemade almond milk train. What a difference a good blender makes!

More photos on my instagram: @veganlifeisgood

Raw Almond Milk
Appliances needed:
  • a fine mesh strainer
  • a bowl
  • a good blender or food processor (I much prefer my blender for liquid recipes, the processor is better for solids)
  • cheesecloth(available packaged in most grocery stores, I use 1 pkg per batch)
  • whole, raw almonds, covered and soaked a few days in fresh water or at least overnight
  • fresh water to add, 4 cups to every one cup of almonds
  • vanilla bean (optional)
  • agave to taste
  • Other great options: cinnamon, dates, or cacao powder for chocolate almond milk!!

1.  Soak: Make sure to soak your almonds and rinse them well afterward. Not only does this rid impurities and make them easier to blend, but check out this amazing fact from the Livestrong website regarding digestion:

~"Almonds contain an enzyme inhibitor in their brown skin that protects the nut until the proper levels of sunlight and moisture allow it to germinate. Since the nut does not release its enzymes until those conditions have been reached, eating almonds without removing the inhibitor limits the nutrients your body can absorb and makes the almond difficult to digest. By soaking almonds, you provide the moisture that makes the almond shed its skin and release its enzymes. The process works with most nuts and seeds." 
I will always soak my almonds before eating them, after learning that!

2.  Blend: 4 parts water to every 1 part almond. So, if you have a cup of almonds, add about 4 of water. Blend very well, and add agave or dates at this point. Hold off on using a vanilla bean or powders though, that one comes later.

3. Strain:  Fit a strainer over a bowl or large cup, then line the strainer with cheesecloth. Use large pieces, you don't wait any almond pulp slipping through the sides or up out of the top when you squeeze. Fill the cloth just full enough that you can still gather all the ends into one hand. Now, SQUEEZE! The milk should run out of the cloth, drip through the strainer for good measure, and reach your bowl pulp-free. Strain as many times as it takes, and restrain if pulp slips out (this is a fairly messy undertaking, so don't feel inadequate if you have to re-strain a bit ;)

4. Taste & Presentation: Pour your milk into a seal-able container (you can find attractive ones very cheap at most any store that sells kitchenware, for mine I re-purposed a water kefir bottle from the market. Mason jars work well, too). If you are using a vanilla bean, cut a slit up the side and stick the whole bean in before refridgerating. The flavors will seep out and mingle. This is also where you might want to stir in powders or spices, or add them by the glass with a blender as you go. Don't blend the bean though. 

More photos on my instagram: @veganlifeisgood

Your milk should keep refridgerated for about 3-5 days, though mine never lasts that long. I love using it in my overnight oats! Also, you can use all the leftover almond pulp to make delicious cookies, bread, smoothies, dips... or dehydrate it for almond flour.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mexican Pizza with Homemade Sour Cream

Wishing you all a belated feliz dia de independencia! I celebrated by polishing off the leftover of a series of Mexican pizzas I started this weekend, and topping it all off with delicious homemade vegan sour cream, which is the exact same recipe as yesterday's cream cheese- it amazingly works for both!

See more pictures on my instagram: @veganlifeisgood

Vegan Mexican Pizza (makes approx. 5, to serve right away or as delicious leftovers):
-5 whole wheat pitas
-1 pkg chipotle-flavored Seitan
-1 can low-sodium vegan black or re-fried beans (or sub soaked beans)
-1 small can green chilis
-1-3 tomatoes
-2-3 tomatillos
-2 small green onions
-shredded vegan cheese (Daiya "cheddar" works beautifully)
-salsa (I prefer chunky pico de gallo)
-small head red leaf lettuce
-vegan cashew sour cream (see yesterday's post here for the recipe!)
-cumin and/or vegan taco seasoning
-fresh cilantro to taste
Optional healthy fat: add sliced avocado
  • Pre-heat the oven to 425. I wanted crispy crusts, so I left the pitas in the oven as it was warming, flipping them once. Meanwhile, chop the veggies and rinse the beans if needed, and heat a little oil in a pan.
  • Lightly fry the seitan and tomatillos in the oiled pan with the garlic and green onion. Add the chilies, cumin/seasoning, and tomatoes at the end. Don't forget to remove the warmed pitas from the oven.
  •  Layer the pitas with beans and the mixture from the pan, plus salsa, vegan cheese, and lettuce.
  • Bake in the oven til cheese has melted and lettuce wilted, anywhere from 10-20 min.
  • Remove from oven and top with any extra tomatoes, chopped cilantro, and a generous dollop of vegan sour cream. Enjoy! Que te pases un buen dia!
See more pictures on my instagram: @veganlifeisgood

See more pictures on my instagram: @veganlifeisgood

Monday, September 16, 2013

Homemade Vegan Cream Cheese/Sour Cream

Last night I made a couple of major discoveries.
The first was that I can make my own cream cheese/sour cream substitute at home with just some cashews and a few common ingredients.
The second was that they are the same recipe.

I made vegan, soy free and gluten free sour cream to add to a vegan Mexican pizza (delicious recipe coming soon). At first I was really taken aback by the flavor, probably because I was expecting it to be just like non-vegan sour cream, plus I'm not used to apple cider vinegar. I actually thought, "Ick." Then I tried some more. Then some more. Then more. I realized I was licking it off the rubber scraper, then diving back for even more.

I can't really describe how the flavor works. But it was amazing on the Mexican pizza, and also delicious the next morning on toast, as a cream cheese, with a fruity jelly.
I am really, really excited about it.

Homemade Vegan Sour Cream AND Cream Cheese:
  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked a few hours or overnight
  • 1/4 cup fresh water
  • 1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • juice of once lemon
  • dash of salt (optional)
See photos for steps! 1. Soak (then drain, of course!)  2. Blend  3. ServeI only had time to soak the cashews for about 2 hours, and it worked fine. I used the Magic Bullet blender, which made short work of things.

See more photos on my instagram: @veganlifeisgood

Sunday, September 8, 2013

How-To: Make Perfect Rice Every Time

Happy Sunday!
The weekend is always great for cooking work-week meals ahead of time. I am healthiest (and happiest) when Monday rolls around and my lunch is already ready to go. Since I eat a lot of veggies, I am often cooking grains to go with them. I don't have a rice cooker, but I don't find that I need one! This rice recipe works perfectly every time:

More food photos on my Instagram! @veganlifeisgood

Perfect No-Cooker Brown Rice:
Cook Time: 50 min (mostly inactive)
  • 1 cup organic medium grain brown rice (tho it will work for any kind, really!)
  • 8 cups water (I use filtered)
  • dash of salt (optional, recommended)
  • a fine mesh strainer
There are 3 secrets to perfect rice:
  1. Rinse & Strain:   Before cooking your rice, rinse it and strain the water through the mesh strainer. That way you wont loose any tiny grains. 
  2. Add Water:  You need a large water-to-rice ratio for great rice. Measure out 8 cups of water per 1 cup rice. I use a soup pot. Granted, I only make about 1/2 cup of rice for 2 days worth of meals, because I keep my plate mostly veggies, but if you need to cook a lot at once you may need a bigger pot. Add the salt and rinsed rice to the water, and once it is boiling reduce heat to a medium boil and partially cover the pot. I leave the lid on halfway, balanced on the pot handles. Set a timer for 30 minutes. This is a great time to go cook your veggies!
  3. Steam:  After the 30 minutes is up, remove the pot from heat. Once again use the strainer to pour out all the water and return the rice to the pot. You could technically eat it now, but for truly perfect rice, cover with the lid and let it sit for another 20 minutes. Fluff and serve and enjoy the perfection!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Vegan Peanut Butter Cups

Move over, Reese's. I'm pretty sure Heaven is real, and it's located inside my mouth at the place where the taste of peanut butter and chocolate collide.

My instagram: @veganlifeisgood

I've seen a few vegan PB Cup recipes make the rounds, and will probably try some others, but my non-vegan housemates and I were over the moon with these. The recipe calls for only 4 ingredients: raw organic peanut butter, coconut oil (available EVERYwhere these days), agave, and cacao powder. In a flash of inspiration I also added a little pink Himalayan sea salt on top.

Here is the link to the recipe:

Some notes:
   *Use a whisk to mix the bowls.
   *The pb will mix right in with the oil, so no need to soften it.
   *I used mini cupcake liners to make these a calorie-conscious size. The recipe yields 9-10 minis.
   *I also used a mini muffin tin to hold them but if you do not own such an extravagance, freeze them in an ice-cube tray.
   *I froze the pb layer a little before adding the cacao layer.
   *These are the best things in the history of ever. Seriously better than the processed candy crud from the store.

Enjoy!  X

Sunday, August 25, 2013

My New Car!

Oh happy day!!!!!!
Here she is, my brand new 2014 Subaru Forester, Moby:

My Instagram: @veganlifeisgood

I'm proud to own one of the greenest cars available. The Forester is a leader in partial-zero emission vehicles. PZEVs produce at least 90% emissions than standard new cars, which means that in smoggy cities the exhaust from the tailpipe is cleaner than the outside air! They are often cleaner than hybrids or alternative-fuel vehicles.

On top of that, I love the spaciousness, the cargo room, all the high-tech gadgets to explore on my wheel and dashboard, and the gorgeous pearl-white color that gave Moby her name. I'll get some pictures and a more detailed review up soon. Once I get tired of driving around my town in circles...

More info on PZEVs and California's low-emission standards:

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Simple 2 Ingredient Juices, Part 1: Cancer Fighters

My instagram: @veganlifeisgood

Energizing Ratio: 2 carrots to 1/2 cup fresh parsley. Push the parsley through your juicer with a carrot. It's wicked delicious.

Why carrots? Everyone's heard the expression about an apple a day, but did you know a carrot a day would cut the rate of lung cancer in half???* Or that our beloved orange carrots are a cultivated mutation, and were originally almost exclusively purple or black in color?  
Tip: When juicing carrots, avoid the greens, which can lead to rash or heighten chances of sunburn.

Why parsley? Parsley is dismissed as a garnish when it is actually a nutrient powerhouse. Eating or juicing parsley after ingesting fried foods inhibits their dangerous cancer-causing properties, so instead of ignoring that sprig on your plate, ask for more! You'll be doing your health a huge favor. Parsley is a natural nerve stimulant and a great source of energy, so much so that many people use the recipes like the one above to replace coffee.
Tip: Revive wilting parsley in some cold H20.


My instagram: @veganlifeisgood

Delicious Ratio: 2 oranges per 1/2 grapefruit. Do peel your citrus, but leave as much of the white spongy part as possible.

Why grapefruit? This has been a long-time weight-loss favorite, as it is low cal while also lowering cholesterol and demonstrating anti-cancer effects. A cool and kind of magical thing about grapefruit is that it normalizes your hematocrit levels (the volume of red blood cells): too low hematocrit = anemia, while too high = heart disease. Grapefruit balances both of these, depending on what your body requires.
Tip: Avoid grapefruit that feels too soft or has green-colored skin.

Why oranges? Well, the memo on oranges containing Vitamin C probably won't surprise anyone. But it's actually the combination of Vitamin C with an orange's abundant flavonoids that really strengthen immunity and support connective tissue in the body. Oranges are another winner in preventing and fighting cancer.
Tip: Many people like to prove the prowess of their juicer by chucking in the whole orange, peel and all. Please don't! Even though citrus peels contain beneficial oils, those same oils will antagonize bodily functions and even inhibit the uptake of the fruits' other precious nutrients.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of "Simple 2 Ingredient Juices!"

*Much of the information in this post comes from the book The Complete Book of Juicing, which I own and love, and highly recommend for anyone interested in the recipes, health benefits, and nutritional information of juices. Here's the Amazon link:
The Complete Book of Juicing
I am in no way compensated for recommending this book, or anything else I post.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

(Raw) Vegan Ice Cream & PBJ Sundae

This is a not-so-well-kept vegan secret that many of you may know already. My roomie, who does Crossfit and is not a vegan, had a similar recipe up on our fridge before I moved in. Everyone seems to have their own version, but they all have one thing in common-
If you didn't know that, Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday, here you go:

Basic Vegan Ice Cream, 2 Ways

1. Raw Ice Cream:
  • As many bananas as you want
  • A bit of water or homemade nut milk of your choice
2. Non-Raw Version:
  • As many bananas as you want
  • Store-bought nut milk of your choice (almond, sunflower, etc etc)
Both recipes essentially work the same. First, cut your bananas into smaller pieces and put them in a tupperware in the freezer. Don't just stick whole bananas in there, it will be very difficult and gross getting the frozen peel off later (and yes, I know because I did it wrong the first time!). After a few hours when they are good and frozen, put them in a blender. They may need help getting out of the container, a zap in the microwave if your container is safe, or carefully use a utensil to coax them out. This is another reason you cut them up.
Blend 'em up with a teeny bit of liquid, just enough to get your blender to mix it all, because the liquid will take away from the ice cream consistency if you add very much.
Enjoy on the spot or store it in the tupperware for later use. I'm not sure how long it lasts but since you are using a fresh ingredient it won't be hard to tell if its gone bad!!**

And now!:
My instagram: @veganlifeisgood

Raw Vegan Banana Peanut Butter and Jelly Sundae:
Follow recipes 1 or 2 as written above, but add peanut butter to the blender step. Dish into a bowl with a cookie scoop.
Meanwhile, blend up your favorite fresh berries, on their own or with a touch of agave. Drizzle it over your ice cream and add some fresh fruit to top!

**If you are storing your ice cream, I recommend adding an ingredient like the peanut butter because if the bananas start to oxidize and turn a darker color it is more appetizing to think of it as being peanut butter-colored than "bad banana color."

Yes, this is good for you! GET on the train to loving your beautiful fruit carbs and you'll never want for regular ice cream again! MMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmm!