This is my third year attending the Sweets & Snacks Expo, but the first time I’ve ever done a write-up of stuff I found rather than just posting it on social media. To be honest, most years I go, get totally overwhelmed by how many people there are, am shy because I’m always the only “weirdo,” and I leave without taking any samples or talking to anyone. But, I do a lot of these shows now for my company I Heart Keenwah, so this year I wasn’t shy and I actually found some cool stuff.
I started the day by interviewing Joy Bauer from the Today Show on Instagram live. Her company Nourish Snacks just rebranded with bold new packaging, and she reformulated her granola bites. Since the interview was live, it’s lost in space now, but the folks who were able to tune in got to hear Joy talk about how she chooses beneficial ingredients for her vegan-friendly snacks. Sarah from I Heart Keenwah and I also chatted her up about the healthy food biz and she was extremely gracious and generous with her time. I love meeting people like that in this business!
OK, onto five of the best things I tried at the show:
- Cocomels were sampling their new chocolate-covered coconut caramel bites so you know I got all up in that. I was a weird little kid whose favorite candy was Rolos so these things are near and dear to my heart. For Christmas I got my mom a subscription to Vegan Cuts and anytime Cocomels is in that month’s box I get a very happy text from her, followed by a complaint that my nieces ate them all.
- A Swedish company called Candy People was on hand with an elaborate display of gummy candy. I almost walked right past when I noticed they had “gelatin-free options” on their sign so I stopped to see if that meant vegan. It didn’t, as many of the candies contain carmine, but they did have clearly-marked vegan options like Sour Vikings. They taste like Sour Patch Kids, only they’re huge! It takes 2-3 bites to finish one, which in my opinion is a good thing.
- I’m honestly more of a savory snacker than a sweet one, so I was happy to see a brand called Green Mustache with a vegan, gluten-free take on the Goldfish cracker. Their Mustache Munchies are light and crunchy, and are made with chickpea flour, kale, and chia, so they’re actually nutritious. I tried the Cheddar-ish, but they also had Spicy-ish and Parmesan Rosemary (now that I think about it I have no idea why I didn’t try this one as it would have been my favorite, I’m sure.)
- One trend that I really loved at the show was seeing companies making whole, healthy foods snackable. Oh Snap Pickles had little snack pouches of pickles, plus new pickled veggies to snack on like carrots and string beans. My beloved Oloves was there with their delicious olive pouches, too. Those things save my life in the airport on a regular basis.
- The most interesting snack I saw all day came from a company called Porta Bela. They’re, you guessed it, a mushroom company, and the snack I tried was their new Porta Bela Chips – mushroom chips! These are so new they aren’t even on the company site yet, but the folks at the booth told me all the flavors were vegan – and I spotted a guacamole bacon and a blue cheese onion flavor so that’s pretty rad.
This show has hundreds of exhibitors, and while a lot of it is still pretty gross and weird to someone used to the natural food space, it’s awesome to see brands like Dandies, Hungry Buddha and Beanfields holding their own in a sea of cheesy poofs and sugar bombs.
Aquafaba has to be the biggest revelation to vegan cooking and baking since, I don’t even know what… the internet? Somewhere along the line, some genius figured out that the cooking liquid from beans is a near-perfect match for egg whites and vegan food has been unstoppable ever since.
Aquafaba has quickly becoming one of the it-ingredients, right up there with nutritional yeast and jackfruit – and for good reason. It whips into perfect peaks, bakes into airy meringues and macarons, binds in baking, fluffs falafels, churns into cheese and so much more.
I personally have two cookbooks based on the stuff, the latest of which is Aquafabulous!: 100+ Egg-Free Vegan Recipes Using Aquafaba by Rebecca Coleman. This book runs the gamut from sauces to savory to dessert, giving lots of uses from this unlikely ingredient.
Today I’m sharing the recipe for S’Mores Cups because one of aquafaba’s many talents is making vegan marshmallows and marshmallow fluff. If vegan graham crackers are tough to locate in your area, you can make your own. And, if you don’t have whole vanilla beans on hand, you can also use vanilla bean paste – but you really want to use one of the two instead of vanilla extract for the most marshmallowy flavor.
A note to aquafaba beginners: It is literally the cooking liquid from beans. Light-colored beans like chickpeas or Northern beans tend to be the most popular. You can reserve the cooking liquid when you cook beans, but the easiest way to get it is to buy a can of low-sodium or no-salt beans. Drain the can and reserve the liquid – that liquid is aquafaba! There are tons of tips for making your own, freezing it, storing it, making a concentrate, etc. in this cookbook so if you’re curious, pick it up!
Courtesy of Aquafabulous! 100+ Egg-Free Vegan Recipes Using Aquafaba by Rebecca Coleman © 2017 www.robertrose.ca. Available where books are sold. Image credit: Colin Erricson.
Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links.
Vegan S'Mores Cups
By May 7, 2017Published:
- Yield: 6 Servings
Aquafaba has to be the biggest revelation to vegan cooking and baking since, I don't even know what... the internet? Somewhere along …
- 1 cup vegan graham cracker crumbs
- 1/4 cup vegan butter
- 1/2 cup chopped dark vegan chocolate
- 3 Tbs Unsweetened nondairy milk
- 1/4 cup aquafaba
- 2 Tbs granulated sugar
- 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/8 tsp vanilla bean seeds
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 6-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Grab a hand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and if you have one, a kitchen torch.
- In a small bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter.
- Place 2 Tbs of this mixture in the bottom of each lined muffin cup and use the bottom of a glass to press it down.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pan on a wire rack.
- Fill a small saucepan with 1-2 inches of water and bring to a gentle simmer over medium-high heat. In a heatproof metal bowl, combine the chocolate and nondairy milk. Set the bowl on the saucepan so it doesn't touch the water. Stir the chocolate until melted and smooth. If it's thick, add a bit more milk.
- Spoon 2 Tbs of the chocolate mixture over each graham cracker base, and shake the pan so form an even layer. Allow this to cool for 30 minutes.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the aquafaba, sugar, cream of tartar and vanilla bean seeds. Beat with the hand mixer on low for two minutes. Then turn the speed up to medium and beat 2 more minutes. Crank it up to high speed and whip until fluffy and peaks form, about 4-6 minutes. It will look like marshmallow fluff.
- Spoon as much fluff as possible into each cup, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, but preferably over night. (Bonus: You'll probably have leftover fluff.)
- Just before serving, pop the cups out of the pan and peel off the paper. Use a kitchen torch to toast the tops, if desired.
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Mansplaining. It’s a word that induces cringes from coast-to-coast… mostly in men. Unfortunately it’s a reality for many women – and also unfortunately – it’s often misused, rendering it meaningless to those who need to understand it the most.
Mansplaining is not when a man explains something to a woman. Mansplaining is when a man condescendingly (“well, actually”) explains something to a woman who is just as knowledgeable, if not more knowledgeable on the topic as he is. Mansplaining stems from what I call the “Prove It” Culture – the misogynistic tendency of men to refuse to believe or accept that a woman could be knowledgable about a traditionally male topic. Sports, heavy metal, comic books, video games, cars, etc.
Here is an example from third grade: It was the height of the Bulls dynasty. My mom was a Bulls fanatic, and my little brother an aspiring basketball player. Basketball was the topic of conversation around the dinner table more often than not. I went to school in a Chicago Bulls t-shirt and was immediately confronted by a male classmate, who challenged me to “name three players.” When I was able to (duh, Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan and Horace Grant were gods in the Chicago suburbs) some other insult was hurled my way.
As as adult I have been challenged to “prove it” over my love of thrash metal, professional wrestling, and mixed martial arts. I have yet to meet a man who has ever had to prove that his interests were genuine. In fact, when I jokingly challenged a male friend to “name three Venom songs” when I first posted this video, he actually did it because he didn’t realize I was kidding. No one had ever done that to him before.
Now that I’m older, and have established myself pretty well as a person knowledgable about the things I speak about most often, I get less “prove it,” and more “well, actually.” This happens most often in my profession. I’ve spent the last 10 years as a marketing professional – specializing in social media strategy. Despite the fact that I’ve grown various brands’ I’ve worked for’s social media following by more than 600% in a period as short as six months, I still get social media bros “well actually-ing” me about everything from the best way to run an Instagram contest to the most effective hashtag strategies.
This is a really long intro for this video, but I know this is a subject people are very confused by, so I wanted to give it some context. When I recorded this Instagram story a few days ago I’d had two mansplaining incidents happen to me in a row and it was just too much.
Please be aware that I cuss like a sailor in this video (I was so, so mad) and, as always, the opinions expressed here are mine, and do not reflect the opinions of any of my clients or employers.
What do you think about mansplaining? Has it happened to you? Have you done it to others? Tell me in the comments!
Hey guys, who isn’t stoked about celebrating Mexican army’s victory over the French troops at the Battle of Puebla in 1862? I know I am! That’s why I did the unthinkable – two new posts in one week!
If there’s one thing everyone knows about me, it’s that I love beer-fueled social gatherings, so let’s get this party started! Before we begin, let’s do a little housecleaning. First, please answer the following questions:
- Are you a non-Hispanic person planning on wearing a sombrero to this evening’s festivities?
- Will you at any point tonight refer to the day as Cinco de Drinko?
- Will fake mustaches be involved in your gathering?
If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, you should be aware that you’re on the verge of acting like an asshole. But, I’m here to help.
I don’t mean to be a killjoy here. I know people just like a reason to party. So, if you don’t want to be an asshole this Cinco de Mayo, here are some things you can do:
- Celebrate at local, family-owned Mexican restaurants
- Do not wear anything that mocks or co-ops Mexican culture
- Stay home, make delicious Mexican food and watch Mexican wrestling
- Donate to non-profits that work with Mexican immigrants (like Border Angels or the National Immigration Law Center)
My friend Kelly posted something yesterday on Seitan Beats Your Meat that you may find helpful – everything from how to order vegan food at local, Latinx-owned restaurants to how to respectfully celebrate Cinco de Mayo. I suggest you read it!
P.S. If you are staying home, here are some recipes you might want to try out:
- Vegan Ranch Tacos
- Cheap Vegan Nacho Cheese
- Nacho Chee-Zee Quinoa Casserole
- Red Chile Jackfruit Tamales
- Smoky Tofu Mole Tacos
- Vegan Chilaquiles Verdes
- Taco Lasagna
I hope the past 10+ years of me doing this site has helped change the way people think about Chicago. Yeah, we love deep dish and hot dogs piled high with green relish and tomatoes (no ketchup, I swear to god we will hurt you) – but we also have a bangin’ vegan scene. We have tons of vegan restaurants and non-vegan restaurants with awesome vegan options, an action-oriented community with tons of pop-up markets and dinners, organized protests and meet ups, and, plenty of vegan cookbook authors, too.
One of those authors is Heather Crosby, creator of YumUniverse. Three years ago Heather released her first book, which was filled with healthy, gluten-free and vegan recipes and she’s back with a creative take on vegan/gf food once again. In her new book, YumUniverse Pantry to Plate: Improvise Meals You Love – from What You Have!, Heather offers up templates for recipes you can personalize a million and one ways.
For example, the Cheesy Comfort Food template offers up a mix-and-match of essentials for recipes featuring vegan cheese – veggies, cream.aromatics, acid, funk and extras. Using this template, you can customize your dream cheese using your fave ingredients – or whatever you have on hand – and then use them any way you like. She also includes recipes with each template to get you started (you know, if you went to Catholic school and like rules, like me).
I’m sharing her recipe for Sriracha Mac, which can be found in the Cheesy Comfort Food section – and inspired by the template idea – I’m noting here that if you don’t have or don’t like delicata squash, you could use another squash, sweet potato, or even cauliflower to make this sauce.
Recipe from YumUniverse Pantry to Plate © Heather Crosby, 2017. Photographs copyright © Heather Crosby, 2017. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. theexperimentpublishing.com. Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links.
Vegan Sriracha Mac
By May 3, 2017Published:
- Yield: 4 Servings
I hope the past 10+ years of me doing this site has helped change the way people think about Chicago. Yeah, we love deep dish and hot …
- 1 12 oz package of macaroni noodles use gf, if desired
- 2 cups peeled, seeded, and diced delicata squash steamed
- 3/4 cups water
- 1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews soaked 4-6 hours, drained & rinsed
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp unrefined coconut oil
- 1 tsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp sea salt plus more to taste
- 1 tsp Sriracha plus more to taste
- 1/2 tsp peeled, minced fresh ginger or 1/4 tsp ground
- 4 scallions sliced
- toasted sesame oil opptional
- Boil a large pot of water and prepare the macaroni noodles according to the package directions.
- While the noodles cook, combine the squash, water, cashews, garlic, lemon juice, coconut oil, nutritional yeast, salt, sriracha and ginger in your blender and puree until very smooth.
Taste, and add more sriracha if needed.
Transfer into a large pot and heat over a low flame.
- Drain the noodles and add to the pot of sauce; add the scallions. Stir, and season with more salt if desired.
- Drizzle with toasted sesame oil and serve warm.
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I was on my way to a work event when a meme someone posted on Instagram stopped me in my tracks. Long story short, it was inferring that women who post selfies are less intelligent and socially aware than those who don’t. Basically that we’re too busy taking selfies to make a positive impact on the world. (This was aimed specifically at women, but I’ve seen plenty of ill-will online for men who post selfies too – possibly even more so than women.)
It really burns my biscuits that people are constantly put in the position of defending their self-confidence. We all struggle – every single one of us – so what’s wrong with feelin’ yourself once in a while? Or all the time? I, for one, love to see your selfies, and will continue to post my own as long as it makes me happy to do so. I could go on, but it seems I already did in my Instagram Story, so here’s the rest:
Obviously opinions I express in my videos and on this blog are mine and mine alone, and don’t reflect the opinions of my clients or employers.
Thoughts on this video? Tell me in the comments!
It’s been four years since my first book came out, and ten years since I started Bake and Destroy. I’ve had six jobs, three major hair style changes and more pet fish than I can possibly count in that time – but the one thing that’s been a constant is my husband, Tony Slater.
Not only is he one of the few people I can tolerate for more than the span of a lunch meeting, but he’s also an excellent cook and a supportive partner. A few of his recipes made it into Bake and Destroy: Good Food for Bad Vegans, and many more have made it onto the blog and my social media over the years.
There is truly no one on this entire floating rock I’d rather share a pizza, much less my life with than this guy and so it only made sense that we do a book together.
Most of these vegan recipes are meant to serve two – so shout out to single people, share with your bestie or give two servings to the person you love most – you. These are inspired by the dishes we make at home for the two of us while Teno eats his third veggie burger of the day because he’s eleven years old and completely impossible. Kids book coming next? Doubt it.
Recipes such as:
- We Make Quite a Pear Pancake(s)
- Barack and Michelle-o Salad
- Bonnie and Fried Chick’n
- Your Name is Tattooed on My Tart
- Sinking Ship: Rosewater and Jackfruit Cocktails
If you’re excited for this book you’ll definitely want to check out my other books, Bake and Destroy:Good Food For Bad Vegans, Wide Mouth Strikes Again: 96 Moz-Inspired Mason Jar Recipes, Kale and Kill: 96 Vegan Recipes Inspired by the Speaker-Blowing Music of Manowar, Caught in a Nosh: 125 Vegan Kosher Recipes and Eat Shit and Die: 101 Killer Recipes from Bake and Destroy!
Happy April Fool’s Day! Thanks to Ken from Everyone Sucks But Us for help with the book cover design. Keep your eyes peeled for a line of t-shirts and other things featuring his designs!
A few years back I shared a recipe from Aine Carlin’s first cookbook, Keep It Vegan and remarked that had our cookbooks gone to highschool together, they wouldn’t have run in the same crowd, but they’d probably meet and become friends later in life. Carlin’s second book The New Vegan: Great Recipes, No-Nonsense Advice, and Simple Tips is every bit as preppy-perfect as her first, but once again, I found myself sucked into the luscious photos and descriptions of her dishes – allowing me to temporarily abandon my preference for the unpolished.
This book is intended to support new vegans’ quest for easy, flavorful dishes but even a seasoned vegan will find new ideas and inspiration. Such was the case for me with this recipe. I’ve been eating polenta my entire life, but never for dessert. (Once for breakfast, at my grandmas, we collectively decided as a family to never do that again.)
You’ll want to make the cashew frosting for this cake first, and stash it in the fridge while you work on the rest. Be sure to let the cake cool completely before frosting it.
For the cashew frosting:
- 1 cup cashews, soaked for at least 6 hours
- ½ cup agave nectar
- juice and zest of ½ orange
- ½ tsp orange extract
- 1 heaping tsp coconut oil
- 2-3 Tbs water
Drain and rinse the cashews and blend in a food processor or high-speed blender with the agave, orange juice and zest, orange extract, coconut oil, and 2 tablespoons of the water. Scrape down the sides frequently until it becomes completely smooth, adding a little more water if necessary. The frosting will go through several stages; nutty,coarse, and eventually silky smooth. You really do have to persevere to achieve the perfect frosting consistency, but don’t take a shortcut by adding too much liquid. Keep blending and it will eventually become a shadow of its former cashew self. Refrigerate until needed.
Please note: Some links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you click & make a purchase I might earn a small amount of money. I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher, but the opinions expressed here are my own. Recipe and photos reprinted with permission.
Vegan GF Orange Polenta Cake
By March 20, 2017Published:
- Yield: 8-10 Servings
A few years back I shared a recipe from Aine Carlin's first cookbook, Keep It Vegan and remarked that had our cookbooks gone to …
- 1 cup polenta or corn meal
- 3/4 cup ground almonds
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- zest and juice of 2 blood oranges
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup agave nectar
- 1/2 tsp orange extract
- 1/2 cup soy yogurt
- 2-3 Tbs crushed pistachios, to decorate
- Preheat the oven to 325°F and grease and line a 6-inch cake pan.
- Make the frosting as directed above.
- Mix the polenta, ground almonds, chickpea flour, and baking soda together in a large bowl. Stir through the blood orange zest to ensure it is evenly distributed.
- In a separate bowl, vigorously whisk together the oil, blood orange juice, agave, orange extract, and yogurt.
- Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the orange and olive oil mixture. Fold gently and transfer to the prepared cake pan.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Check whether the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer to see if it comes out clean.
- Once baked, let cool briefly on a wire rack before removing it from the pan. Set aside until completely cool.
- Slather with the chilled cashew frosting, smoothing it around the sides with a spatula. Finally, decorate with crushed pistachios. The cake is best eaten fresh, but will keep for up to 3 days.
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Before we get started, I need you to know that I already know the following two things:
- This recipe is adapted from Taste of Lizzy T’s recipe. You may have seen her video of this recipe making its rounds on Facebook. So did I. Which is why I decided to veganize it.
- Maraschino cherries are an abomination and should really not be consumed by humans. But sometimes it’s fun to test fate. More on this later.
Ok, so now that those are out of the way I will also add:
3. This recipe is so, so bad for you. But I am the person who birthed Doritos-Crusted Tofu into this world, and I’m not going to apologize for that. If you want overflowing mason jars of green smoothie you are reading the wrong blog. Yes, I did just make an overflowing mason jar of smoothie joke in the last post I did. They’re just really, really stupid and I hate them.
Maraschino cherries, as stated earlier, are disgusting. But they are also delicious. It’s a real conundrum. If you are repulsed by their ingredients, which consist mainly of fake sugar and artificial coloring, you can modify this recipe by making your own maraschino cherries, or you can buy all natural maraschino cherries. Either of these options will taste good, but won’t get you the bright pink color pictured here. To recreate that naturally, you could use a few drops of beet juice.
There are also other subs you could make if you want to make these slightly less trashy – like swapping in coconut oil for canola, using a high-protein gluten-free flour blend and cutting back on the sugar somehow that I am not aware of and do not care about.
But I did none of those things. I fed my family a loaf of sugary, artificially-colored, gluten-full cherry loaf and god damn it we were happy. I used Ener-G Egg Replacer in my version, but a flax egg would also work well.
P.S. Some of these links are affiliate links which means if you click and make a purchase I will earn a laughably small amount of money.
Vegan Maraschino Cherry Bread
By March 20, 2017Published:
It's real bad for you. I've said it enough times now that you really don't need to email me or leave comments about it. K thx.
- 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- substitute for one egg flax egg or Ener-G works well
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 10oz jars maraschino cherries drained & chopped, reserving liquid
- Pre-heat the oven to 350F and grease a 9"x5" loaf pan.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, non-dairy milk, oil, egg substitute, and vanilla.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir. Be careful not to over-mix, some lumps are OK.
- Gently fold the chopped cherries into the mixture. Transfer mixture to baking pan and bake 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then remove from pan and cool completely. (About another 30-40 minutes.)
- Top with glaze made from the following:
2 cups confectioner's sugar, 1/4 cup reserved cherry liquid, 2 Tbs melted margarine (or coconut oil) and 1/2 tsp almond extract. Mix all of the ingredients together and pour over the top of the cooled bread. Allow the glaze to set up and then slice.
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I recently had the pleasure of being a guest on the Not Your Milk Podcast, a laid-back little chat show featuring vegans from all over the world. Jamie and I spoke about being tattooed parents, our life-long love of pro-wrestling and how to avoid being the vegan police. Enjoy!