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.