Paulie Gee’s is one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago (find it among my other faves in my Chicago’s Best Vegan Eats Guide). It’s an omnivore, woodfired oven joint with extensive vegan options. We’re talking housemade faux meats, cheese that isn’t nasty old Daiya, vegan cake AND ice cream for dessert… I just love it. So I was EXTRA stoked when the owner of the Logan Square location, Derrick, asked me to compete in their first all-vegan Dough Down Throw Down pizza battle!
I got to choose my competition, and I had a long debate (with myself) about whether I should choose a vegan restaurant owner, some fancy chef, or one of my friends who has a small vegan business. I ultimately decided to challenge my friend Nahum, one of the chefs behind Ste Martaen and the Vegan Food Truck (and soon, Meet Stop) here in Chicago. I love Nahum’s food, and I love him as a person – so regardless of who wins I know we’ll have fun in the kitchen together and all the guests will have some killer pizzas.
As if that wasn’t going to be enough fun, I’ve asked my friend Chelsie, the cutie pie behind Hootenanny Vegan Country Kitchen to help me out the night of the battle.
Who: Me vs. Nahum!
What: A vegan pizza battle
When: Sunday, June 3, 5pm – 10pm
Where: Paulie Gee’s Logan Square
Why: Because for just $30 you’ll get 1/2 of each pizza, a cocktail and a housemade vegan dessert (plus there will be additional vegan ala carte items available, including slices of cake from Pie, Pie My Darling
RSVP on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/2238590386364284/
Buy your ticket: https://www.exploretock.com/pauliegee
People ask me all the time what my favorite vegan protein powder is, and up until last year when I joined a gym and stopped eating like a raccoon that lives in an all-vegan dumpster, I honestly had no idea because I’d never tried one. Fast forward to now when I down a nutrition shake every morning for breakfast and I’ve definitely separated the studs from the duds.
Everyone’s tastes and dietary preferences are different, of course, so don’t take these picks for gospel. They’re just some suggestions from someone who has tried a LOT of vegan protein powders in 12 short months. It’s my personal preference to blend my smoothies with a low-sugar blend of frozen berries and unsweetened cashew milk. I only ever drink them mixed with water in an emergency. So if you’re a simply water or ice-blender, these will all be slightly less sweet than what I describe. Also, most of these are considered a nutrition shake, or meal replacer, but always double check the nutrition panel to make sure your protein powder has everything you’re looking for.
This is my current favorite, as it has a really good chocolate flavor without being too sweet, and it blends really smooth and not chalky. The ingredients list is simple (only 12 ingredients in this flavor, which includes a variety of real-food proteins like hemp and pumpkin seed) so I don’t feel like I’m drinking a concoction as much as I feel like this is a whole foods smoothie. It’s also available in Vanilla, Mixed Berry and Banana, which I haven’t tried yet, and you can get it in single-serve pouches for travel. Buy it on Amazon
Sweetener: Monk Fruit
A couple years ago I met John “Bad Ass Vegan” Lewis at Green Fest in San Francisco. He was at the VeganSmart booth and persuaded me to try the Chocolate flavor, even though at that point I hated this sort of thing. But out of Midwestern politeness, I tried it, and was surprised that it was actually pretty good. Now this one is sweetened with Stevia, but it also contains several fruit powders as part of its whole food complex, and I believe those natural sugars cut the bitter aftertaste that makes most people have Stevia. These shakes come in lots of flavors ranging from the standard Chocolate and Vanilla to more adventures ones like Chai and Peaches and Cream. Available in tubs and in travel pouches. Buy it on Amazon
Sweetener: Stevia, with other fruit powders
Ingredients-wise, this one isn’t my favorite, but I did pick up a jar of the Peanut Butter flavor when I found myself scooping peanut butter powder into all my smoothies for flavor. It tastes pretty good, and the ingredients are organic – but there are quite a few thickeners and preservatives in there that don’t show up in some of my other top picks. This one is available unflavored and unsweetened, or in a lot of flavors like Pumpkin Spice and Iced Matcha Latte. Sometimes you can grab it really cheap at Costco, or on Amazon, though, it even though it’s made with Stevia I haven’t found it bitter when I blend it with frozen fruit. Buy it on Amazon
Sweetener: Stevia, or unsweetened
This is a good option for an ingredient purist – no gums, no “natural flavors” and there’s even an option with no Stevia. With up to 26g of protein, depending on the flavor you choose, this is the highest protein option of all the ones I’ve tried. I like the blends they put together, too, it takes the guesswork out of adding superfoods to your smoothie. One other bonus to this brand, the multi-serving option comes in a resealable pouch instead of a big plastic tub. It takes up less room in your kitchen and it less to recycle or throw away when it’s empty. Four flavors are available right now. Buy it on SproutLiving.com
Sweetener: Stevia, or unsweetened
5. Carrington Farms
This is another one for clean label freaks – between only three and five ingredients! Obviously with such a short list of ingredients you aren’t going to get all the prebiotic, whole foods complex bells and whistles of some of these other options but the beauty is you can add whatever you want and not worry about drinking a bunch of weird thickeners and additives. This one only comes in two options – unsweetened and unflavored or in Chocolate. Buy it on Amazon
Sweetener: Stevia, or unsweetened
If you’re just looking for a vegan protein powder with no flavor or sweetener – either to make your own custom blend, or to add to baked goods and other recipes, try some of the options listed as “unsweetened” above.
Here are some ideas for healthy additions to your daily protein shake:
D’Vash Organic Date Nectar – I used to throw a whole, soaked date in my smoothie to sweeten it without spiking my blood sugar, but it never quite blended all the way and pieces always got stuck in my straw. So now I use this organic date nectar that contains 25% less sugar than honey.
Turmeric Liquid Drops – Turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory to add to your smoothie. I like it in liquid form like this because it’s concentrated, and your body absorbs it faster and better than in powder form.
Gelatinized Maca Powder – Don’t let the name scare you, this is a vegan ingredient. Gelatinized just means that the maca was heat-treated to remove some of the starch, which makes it easier to digest. This is a great additive if you’re experiencing hormonal imbalance.
Peanut Butter Powder – Peanut butter flavor and protein, minus the fat. I use this for flavor, mostly – it’s especially good with chocolate, duh. Sometmes for a late night snack, though, I rehydrate it with water and eat it with apple slices.
Vanilla and/or cinnamon – I never thought about these two ingredients, Amy Dumas is the one who first suggested them. Just like in baking, each of these adds a really nice flavor to your smoothie without contributing a significant amount of calories, fat, or really anything else.
What are your favorite vegan protein powders and smoothie ingredients? Tell me in the comments!
Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you click and make a purchase I could earn a comission. Additionally, some of the items in this post were sent to me for free by the companies, but my opinions and recommendations are my own, and I was not compensated for any of the opinions expressed here.
It’s been a while since I did a random round-up of vegan snacks (re: Vegan Chocolate Attack, Healthy Snack Obsession and Vegan Sweets and Snacks) but I’ve been having really good luck trying new things lately and wanted to share. Some of these are not so much snacks as pantry items, but hear me out because they’re worth a try.
1. Rule Breaker Snacks
Duuuuuuuuuuude. The folks at Rule Breaker Snacks reached out to me to see if I wanted to try their new Birthday Cake flavor (they’ve had Deep Chocolate Brownie and Chocolate Chunk Brownie for a minute now) and I went from having zero expectations to being a fan in one bite. These chickpea-based brownies (in some cases, blondies) are gluten-free, free of most of the top allergens (nuts, dairy, eggs) and good god, so good. They aren’t in any stores near me (Chicago) but you can buy them by the case on Amazon – and you should.
2. Aloha Organic Protein Bars
Aloha and my company I Heart Keenwah did a product swap – it’s a fun thing food brands do, mail each other snacks. They sent us a million protein bars and again, I had no expectations. I’ve just been burned by too many gross, chalky protein bars. But theirs remind me of cookie dough – they’re chewy and sweet (but not too sweet). I tried the peanut butter chocolate chip one and it honestly tastes like dessert, but has the nutritional profile of a healthy snack. I’ll also be talking about their protein powder in an upcoming post about, um… protein powder.
3. Endorfin Foods Chocolate
I saw Endorfin Foods in a list of NorCal products for something I was doing for work. Curious, I checked out their website and almost fell off my chair when I saw they offer an Absinthe flavor. You might recall that I’m obsessed with controversial flavors like licorice and absinthe. While I do love the complex flavor of that bar, my favorite is their Coconut Mylk Chocolate with Ginger and Rose. It’s a must for any chocolate lover. I’m hoping they get expanded distribution this year, but in the meantime you can order them online, and keep an eye out for a collab bar with I Heart Keenwah.
4. Beyond Sausage
OK. Before we begin, let me tell you that these are $8.99/pack and a lot of people on Twitter have a lot of opinions about that. My opinion is don’t buy it if you don’t want to. Me? I bought four packs the day they hit the stores because I’m the fuckin’ 2 Chainz of vegan sausages. These gluten-free links are unlike any vegan sausage you have ever tried. They aren’t seitan. The taste and texture is so realistic I panicked. The casing crisps when you cook them, and has a snap. If you can get your hands on a pack it’s worth the (apparent) splurge. (Oh and if you’re curious about why some foods are pricier than others check out the “Food Biz” archive on my Instagram bio where I break down pricing and distribution from a professional’s POV.)
5. Shishito Gold Mustard
I don’t know why my job is coming up so much in this post, but I actually tried this mustard because of a collab we did with Punk Rawk Labs. My boss takes all of our social media pics, and after he received his package from PRL he chatted me online, “Have you tried this mustard? It’s legit.” Ravi isn’t one to casually hand out compliments, so I picked up a jar at Heartland Cafe, a local restaurant with a little natural grocery attached. I’ve been told mustard obsession is a Chicago thing, but I think it should be a people with mouths thing because it adds amazing flavor to everything – especially vegan cheese sauces. Shishito Gold Mustard is really bold, a little sweet, and kind of spicy but in a flavorful way, not a hurt your face way.
Bonus: Elmhurst Plant-Based Milks
I just read in Forbes (yeah, I read Forbes, shut it) that plant-based milks now make up 10% of total milk sales. Which, as someone who used to have to buy soy milk in a can from Asian grocery stores, is very amazing. Elmhurst actually used to be a dairy producer, until they shifted to a 100% plant-based model. Now they make “milked” nuts and grains in pretty white cartons that look really fancy. They were nice enough to send me a sampler and Teno finished off the Milked Peanuts with Chocolate in one day. Peanut milk is unique, to be sure, but really good in smoothies. My nut allergy friends are really excited about their grain-based options, and I like that many are available unsweetened.
It’s been nine years since I was a judge on the pilot episode of Cupcake Wars, but my tell-all post about the experience is still one of my most popular! At the time I just wanted to address the questions I was getting about my specific episode, but now I want to address some of the more general questions people search, leading them to my original post.
Oh, and if you want to see the episode I was on, it’s on Amazon for $1.99.
1. What Happens to All the Cupcakes?
Again, it’s been nine years since I was on the show, but on my episode there was no shortage of people willing to take cupcakes home. When we filmed the pilot there were probably 50 people involved – hair and makeup, editors, producers, a zillion camera operators, sound engineers, show runners – and we were filming inside a giant tent on the UCLA campus. So imagine how much production got ramped up once the series was actually picked up.
Some of the cupcakes quite honestly weren’t worth keeping either from not being well-prepared or just melting under the studio lights. But the ones that survived were snatched up by the show staff pretty quickly.
2. How Do They Come Up With Recipes On the Spot?
In the interest of not getting sued by Food Network, I should say that I actually didn’t ask anyone about this, so my answer is simply speculation from the perspective of someone who has been on the show. That being said, I believe the contestants are told ahead of time what the general theme of each challenge will be so they can prepare.
It’s a pretty common practice for cooking competitions – Iron Chef does it. Sorry to disappoint if you’re someone who still believes reality TV and food competitions are 100% real and unscripted. I guess this would be a good time to let you know that the outcome of professional wrestling matches is also pre-determined.
3. How Do the Contestants Build Their Displays So Quickly?
On the pilot episode, the on-site carpenters were part of the show. I haven’t watched lately, but if I remember correctly that’s an aspect that didn’t make it into any of the regular seasons. For our episode, they did meet with the contestants before we even started filming to plan their displays, which leads me back to my theory that the contestants know the themes ahead of time. The carpenters worked off camera during filming to build the display, but all of that was edited to appear that they only had an hour to complete their work.
It also took two days to film the episode I was on – so even though the contestants really did only have 30 minutes to do this, or an hour to do that, it was spread out over multiple days.
4. How Do the Judges Choose a Winner?
This is probably the trickiest one to answer, which is weird because I was a judge, right? I can only speak for my episode, but on the first day of filming one of the producers was telling us about each of the contestants. It was a casual run-down, and not framed as instructions in any way. When he got to Elfie, the baker who won the episode, he said some nice things about her bakery and her personality and then he said, “She’s going to win.” It was definitely not “you are going to choose her,” it was more like a prediction. But I remember thinking it was a weird thing to say to the judges before the competition even started.
As the contest went on, it was clear that Elfie was, in fact, the superior baker, and she did end up winning. We judges had maybe a two-minute whispered conversation about who we were choosing, and I remember a production assistant looming over us insisting we hurry the whole time. (Which is also weird because it took two days to film this show – why are we in a big hurry all of the sudden?)
Nevertheless, we ended up agreeing with the producer and choosing Elfie as the winner. But I often wonder if they cast the show with a ringer, knowing full well who will win ahead of time. They definitely didn’t tell us who to eliminate, or in what order, so maybe it’s just chance that it ended up the way it did? Who knows.
5. How Do You Get on Cupcake Wars?
In my case, as a judge, the casting director and I had actually previously chatted about me possibly being on a different show she was working on. When they decided at the last minute that they needed a third judge she called me and I flew to L.A. the next day. But if you’re looking to compete on the show, keep your eye on the Food Network casting call page – it’s where they post about all of their competitions. They definitely also scout social media to see if any bakers are shaking things up on the Internet, too.
I hope that quenches people’s surprising thirst for knowledge about this show! If you still have questions leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer!
Some links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you click and make a purchase, I will earn a commission.
My friend Ashlee Piper’s amazing book Give a Sh*t: Do Good. Live Better. Save the Planet.hits shelves this summer (but you can pre-order it now!) and I’m so stoked for her I decided to dedicate this #FridayFive to her favorite subject – giving a sh*t about the environment.
My favorite thing about Ashlee’s book is how incredibly practical it is. My second favorite thing is that she asked me to write a blurb for the jacket. She makes reducing your footprint fun, easy, affordable and stylish, too. So in her honor, here are five easy, stylish, and non-dorky ways you can cut back on waste every day:
1. Drink Like You Give a Sh*t
By now I hope you’ve weaned yourself fully from bottled water, and make a conscious effort to carry your own water bottle. I mean, it’s been proven time and time again that most bottled water comes from municipal sources (aka tap water) so why spend money on it? I’ve been using the same Klean Kanteen for eight years, so I’d say it’s more than paid for itself.
But coffee, tea and soft drinks are an area where a lot of us still make a lot of garbage so I suggest the Juice Cleanse of Righteous Fury Tumbler with Straw for your to-go iced lattes and green teas. For hot drinks, I love my Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug because it keeps things hot for hours and hours, and it’s spill-proof and slim enough to fit in most cup holders.
I also have a set of Stainless Steel Drinking Straws that I use at home for smoothies, cold drinks and the occasional milkshake. There are tons of varieties, including glass, and extra wide straws for thicker drinks.
2. No Diggity, I got to Bag it Up
Last year Chicago enacted a shopping bag tax, and while I don’t have the statistics on hand, my eyeballs tell me that it’s significantly reduced the number of single use bags used in the city – nearly everyone in every store brings their own totes. I’ve had the same set of Reuseit EarthTote bags for eight years now – I just throw them in the washing machine every once in a while. (If you’re wondering why everything is eight years old, it’s because I worked for Reuseit.com eight years ago.) Another way to cut down on waste when you’re grocery shopping is using Reusable Mesh Produce Bags with the tare weights printed on the tag, so you aren’t paying for the extra weight.
And, don’t forget about your lunch bag where you can reduce lots of waste – from using containers and reusable snack bags instead of Ziplocks, to a reusable utensil set, napkin and even the bag itself.
3. Filth is My Life
Ironically, we make a lot of garbage when we clean our houses. From the disposable plastics our cleaning products come in to the mountain of paper towels we throw away. Thankfully, a lot of store-bought natural cleaning products offer refills, which cuts back on waste, but ultimately you’re still tossing out a refill package. If you have the time and patience to make your own cleaners at home, there are tons of resources online and I’ve found many of them to be inexpensive, effective, and easy to make.
I haven’t been able to totally say goodbye to paper towels in my house (thanks largely to my dog) but Skoy cloths are a decent alternative. They’re made from cotton and wood-based cellulose, so they’re compostable, but more importantly you can use, sanitise, and reuse them over and over again. Designate different colors for different uses around the house and you’ll cut back a lot on your paper towel use.
4. Cooking Up Garbage
A few years back I wrote a long post about ways to cut back on waste in the kitchen, so I’ll just highlight a few here. If you’re a baker, definitely invest in a few silicone baking mats to not only cut back on how much parchment paper and aluminum foil you use, but also to save water as you can wash your baking sheets less frequently.
Try to use reusable containers instead of plastic baggies and plastic wrap, it sounds like common sense, but it’s easy to fall into the habit of storing leftovers in disposables. You can also take a page out of my grandma’s book and save the containers your yogurt and other foods come in, and reuse those.
You can also buy a lot of staples in bulk – things like nutritional yeast, flour, coffee, nuts. Store them in clear, airtight containers and you might find that you’re using them more often than when they were hidden away in plastic bags and cardboard boxes. For other staples that you typically buy in single-serve containers, like yogurt, try to buy the larger one and portion it out into reusable containers. Then save the tubs and use them to store other things.
5. Yep, You Can Reuse Those Too
Understandably, a big source of disposables for the ladies of the house are hygiene products. I mean, we bleed on them, of course we want to throw them away. Some women swear by washable and reusable menstrual pads – I personally tried them and found them to be sweaty and uncomfortable. But, there are lots of alternatives like the Diva Cup. They aren’t totally practical if, for instance, your office has a shared bathroom and someone might walk in on you rinsing it out. But, even if you use them half of the time you’re preventing a lot of waste and saving money, too.
Did you find anything new in this guide? How do you cut back on waste?
Some links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you click and make a purchase, I will earn a commission.
Update: Since posting this story I’ve visited my local White Castle to try this burger. I thought I’d pass along the info that the combo they’re promoting includes one Impossible slider and one regular slider – some locations have allowed people to instead purchases two Impossible sliders but the location we went to was not as cooperative. Additionally, ordering this item without the non-vegan cheese was tricky for us – the first round came out with cheese despite ordering them without. Hopefully they work out the kinks as more vegans hit them up.
I’ve also had a few people call into question the vegan nature of a product that was tested on animals. I believe you have the right to your own opinion on this, but here is mine: Palm oil production kills thousands of animals every year and vegans gobble it up. Millions of rodents and insects are killed to protect crops that vegans eat. I do not like the fact that an ingredient in this burger was tested on rats, but ultimately I believe every Impossible burger sold displaces a meat-based product and so, it’s for the greater good.
Another thing to keep in mind – this product was never really intended for vegans. Are all the ingredients plant-based? Yes. But Impossible Foods has always been clear that their intention and goal is to disrupt animal agriculture, turning omnivores onto plant-based foods. So for once, my fellow vegans, it is not all about us.
If you feel strongly that this unfortunate decision to test heme on rats makes this product unsuitable for vegans, you have every right to feel that way. What I do not believe you have the right to do, however, is to try and revoke someone else’s “vegan status” because they’re trying this product. In all my years as an herbivore I have never seen an issue so divisive in the community – people are truly at each other’s throats over it. I think we should all take a deep breath and remember that we’re all on the same team here.
Starting Thursday, April 12, 2018, the “Impossible Slider” will be available anytime in 140 White Castle locations throughout New York, New Jersey and Chicagoland. I don’t normally share news like this on my site, but as a 20-year herbivore I was struck by the significance of fast food chain White Castle adding it’s third vegan option to the menu.
The Impossible Slider Debuts At White Castle
Starting April 12, the “Impossible Slider” will be available at 140 White Castle restaurants in three states. Sliders will cost $1.99, and are available as part of a combo meal. With this, White Castle becomes the largest single restaurant group to serve the Impossible Burger by far.
The burger will be topped with smoked cheddar cheese (not vegan, optional), pickles, onions and served
on a dairy-free signature bun.
The Impossible Burger is made from simple ingredients, including water, wheat protein, potato protein and coconut oil. One ingredient — heme — contributes to the characteristic taste of meat and catalyzes all the other flavors when meat is cooked. This ingredient has caused some controversy as last year the company revealed they conducted animal testing with rats to develop this ingredient.
Will you be trying this burger at White Castle? Tell me why or why not in the comments.
Back in 2013, Teno and I got to spend Halloween morning baking BurgerTime-inspired whoopie pies on You & Me This Morning – which was cool, but not as cool as meeting Svengoolie on set. We stayed in touch, and reunited this week on the set of his iconic show.
For any squares reading this, Svengoolie is late-night a horror/sci-fi movie host (think Elvira or Vampiria, but you know, a dude). The character originated with Jerry G. Bishop in 1970, and was taken on by Rich Koz when the show was resurrected in 1979. Rich still plays Svengoolie to this day and he was kind enough to invite me to the studio earlier this week. I not only got to see what goes on behind the scenes, but I also earned a coveted role as chicken thrower, along with my friend Megan.
Here are some of the most interesting things I learned on set:
1. Svengoolie is Efficient AF
Filmed on a cozy, elaborately-decorated set, the show has a small-but-mighty crew consisting of Rich Koz, director Chris M. Faulkner, executive producer Jim Roche and a small handful of engineers who are technically employed by WCIU/MeTV, the station that airs the show.
In the few hours I was on set, they knocked out opens, closes, commercial breaks and even sponsored segments for three episodes. To put this into perspective, I once worked for a cosmetics brand that filmed three YouTube eyeshadow tutorials – it took two full days and a crew of 15 people, multiple stylists, and several of us from the brand. If I ever need an eyeshadow tutorial filmed in the future, I’m going to hire the Sven crew.
2. There is an Art to Throwing Chickens
If you’ve seen the show, you know there are two key times when the rubber chickens go flying – at the end of the opening monologue, when Sven delivers a groan-inducing dad joke or pun, and then again at the end as he walks from the door back to his coffin. What you may not have thought about, though, was that someone needs to throw those chickens.
Typically, a station staffer is responsible for this role, and the show’s FAQ clearly states that they do not accept chicken-throwers off the street. So when Sven asked if I’d want to come take on this honorable role, I literally took the day off work to do so.
Megan and I sat on small mats between the coffin and one of the show’s three cameras. The trick, as explained to us by Jim, was to throw ’em high, get some arch in the toss, and try not to hit Sven in the face or knock any shit off the tables or shelves. It took us a couple of takes to get it right, but pretty soon we were throwing chickens through the air like pros. There are about 20 chickens, in varying sizes and shapes, many of which were gifts (with messages scrawled on them in black maker). Once you throw all 20, which happens fast, you kind of crawl around, grabbing whichever ones you can reach, to keep the air full of chickens until the scene ends. Also, some of them make noises. More on that later.
3. The Sven Crew Are the Right Kind of Nerds
Sven’s pun-filled commentary about the films shows a breadth of knowledge about the films, their actors and directors and the genres themselves, that I’d always assumed was partially in thanks to researchers and/or writers working on the show. Upon meeting the crew, and talking to them off-camera about the films, I realized these guys are the researchers and writers.
Sven and Jim in particular are wildly knowledgeable about horror, sci-fi and slapstick, and as a woman who is also a fan of these genres I often find myself either being ignored, or being mansplained to, by male “experts.” This could not be further from the experience I had on set with these guys. Megan and I were included in every conversation and every joke, and if we weren’t familiar with a certain film or actor, we got a quick education without even the smallest inkling of a patronizing tone. If you’re a dude reading this, you’ll probably never get it so just move on – but I know all the women reading this are smiling. For a show that’s been on since the 70s, this was a pleasant surprise and made me an even bigger fan.
4. Sven is So Hot Right Now
In addition to executive producing, Jim Roche is responsible for booking Sven’s appearances, and travels with him to conventions and signings. I don’t want to put a label on it, but I was picking up some best friend vibes that made me happy.
It was amazing to hear that after all this time, the calendar is more packed than ever. (Check out the appearances section of Sven’s site to see if he’s coming to a town hear you.) After meeting these guys and seeing how much they still love putting on this show, I really encourage you to support their live appearances, and buy some merch while you’re at it!
5. I Love Puns and Dad Jokes, But Not as Much as Megan Does
And now, please allow me to tell you about what a joy it was to bring Megan with me to throw chickens for Svengoolie. First of all, I asked Megan because she’s a dear friend, and incredible artist whose work dabbles in the kitch and creepy.
Sven usually did 1-2 walkthroughs of a scene, then filmed three takes before moving on to the next one. (Seriously, so efficient.) This meant that we heard every joke at least five times in a row. I won’t give it away, but let’s just say there was a Doritos joke that made Megan laugh all five times. It was at that moment I knew I’d made the right choice about who to bring with me.
Half way through the day, when we’d already become certified professional chicken throwers, something happened. One of the chickens that makes noise, made a noise. A long noise. A loud noise. I believe this particular chicken was on the bottom of the pile, and the weight of the other chickens set off the squeaker in a haunting, low, drawn-out squawk. Megan noticed first and her eyes went wide, then welled with tears because in addition to being loud and inappropriate, the noise was hilarious. All four of our hands started flopping around in the pile, trying to find the offending chicken, while also trying to keep the other 19 chickens in the air, flying toward the coffin. Finally, Megan grabbed it, and flung it toward Svengoolie. As it traveled through the air, the squawk only grew louder, and lower, and it continued for 2-3 seconds after it bounced off the coffin and hit the ground again.
I am not exaggerating when I tell you that my grown-ass friend Megan cried over the hilarity of an ill-timed chicken noise. Tears streamed down her face for several minutes after the rest of the crew had moved on. Hours later, in a Lyft riding away from the station, she started to laugh uncontrollably once more. And even the next day, she texted me about the noise. It was a glorious moment that I will never forget.
Witness My Professional Chicken-Throwing Skills
Want to see my artful tosses in action? Hope to hear the wayward squawk? The episodes Megan and I helped out with will be airing in April – check your local listings!
Last week I received two books in the mail that were so beautiful, they literally made me say, “Ooooooh!” Those books were Nourish & Glow: Naturally Beautifying Foods & Elixirs and Fresh & Pure: Organically Crafted Beauty Balms & Cleansers by Jules Aron.
You may remember Jules’ name from my post about her book Vegan Cheese last year. This year she’s back with two new books – Nourish & Glow, which features recipes for nourishing foods and elixirs (think juices and smoothies) and Fresh & Pure, which features loads of DIY beauty recipes.
Jules told me the books are meant to look like old apothecary books, and I think they nailed it on design. Inside each book, you’ll find 75 recipes and some truly stunning photography.
Today I decided to not only share one of the gorgeous recipes from Nourish & Glow, but also to give away a copy of each new book. Enter below, and for more entries check out my Instagram giveaway too.
- 1 1/2 cups walnuts
- Sea salt
- 8 Medjool dates, pitted
- 1/3 cup raw cacao powder
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons water
- Raw brownies
- 1 1/2 cups walnuts
- Sea salt
- 8 Medjool dates, pitted
- 1/3 cup raw cacao powder
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons water
To make the brownies:
Chop 1/4 cup of the walnuts and set aside. Place the remaining walnuts and salt to taste in a food processor or blender and process until finely ground. Add the dates and process until the mixture sticks together. Add the cacao powder, vanilla, and water and process to distribute. Transfer the mixture to a glass container and pack it in evenly. Spread the reserved walnuts evenly on top. Place in the refrigerator to cool. Cut into squares before serving.
Beauty Food Spotlight
Golden Milk is a truly synergistic healing blend. The turmeric and curcumin, its most documented bioactive ingredient, include powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and healing properties.
Black pepper, whose sharp taste comes from the alkaloid piperine, enhances the anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric. And since turmeric is also fat soluble, the coconut milk maximizes absorption of its healing properties.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you click and make a purchase I could earn a commission. I received these books for free in exchange for my honest review.
Golden Milk Ice-cream Brownie Sandwiches
By March 7, 2018Published:
- Yield: 8 Servings
From the author: Tucked between two chunks of these oh-so-chocolaty, nutty, chewy brownies is creamy, coconut milk-based ice cream, inspired from the sweet and spicy drink affectionately known as Golden Milk. Ground turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, ginger, and cardamom bring plenty of rich, warm flavor to this delicious frozen treat.
- 2 cups canned coconut milk
- 4 quarter-size slices fresh ginger
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- fine sea salt
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 4 bananas frozen
- To make the ice cream:
Place the coconut milk, ginger, maple syrup, turmeric, cinnamon, pepper, cardamom, and salt to taste in a large saucepan and heat over medium heat.
Bring to a simmer, whisking to combine. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla. Whisk once more.
- Taste and adjust the flavor as needed, adding more turmeric for intense turmeric flavor, cinnamon for warmth, maple syrup for sweetness, or salt to balance the flavors.
- Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
- Strain the mixture, transfer to a blender, add the bananas, and blend.
- Transfer the mixture to a large, freezer-safe container and freeze for 2 hours. Remove from the freezer and process in the blender once more.
- Cover securely and freeze overnight, until firm.
- To assemble the ice-cream sandwiches, cut a brownie in two horizontally and scoop ice cream between the two halves. Serve immediately.
- Kitchen Note
Take care not to overprocess the frozen bananas, as they will melt
and ruin the ice-cream effect.
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If by some chance you haven’t seen Avant-Garde Vegan’s YouTube videos yet, you’re welcome for the rabbit hole you’re about to fall down. But before you go, take a look at this recipe from his new cookbook, Vegan 100: Over 100 Incredible Recipes from Avant-Garde Vegan.
The recipe for the chickpea “omelette” is a keeper – throw in different herbs and veggies as you please and top it all different ways. The filling and topping suggestions here give it a Moroccan flair.
- 1 red (bell) pepper
- 1 small red onion
- 6 cherry tomatoes
- 10 pitted green olives
- handful of spinach
- a little olive oil, for frying
- handful of fresh baby spinach
- 1 tbsp of a hummus
- sliced avocado
Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you click and make a purchase I could earn a commission. I did receive a review copy of this book for free, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own.
Moroccan Chickpea Omelette
By March 5, 2018Published:
Recipe excerpted with permission from Vegan 100 by Gaz Oakley, published by Quadrille February 2018, RRP $24.99 hardcover. Photo by Simon Smith.
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1 tsp ras el hanout Moroccan Spice Blend
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/4 tsp chopped fresh thyme
- pinch sea salt and cracked black pepper
- 2 Tbs nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup water
- First up, you will need a large mixing bowl. Add all the omelette ingredients to the bowl apart from the water. Give it a thorough mix, then whisk in enough water until you have a pancake batter consistency.
- Cover the batter and pop it in the fridge for 15 minutes while you prepare your filling ingredients.
- Finely slice the red pepper and red onion. Thin, even slices work best for this dish. Simply halve the tomatoes and chop the olives into 3. Make sure the spinach has been washed.
- Preheat a large, non-stick, oven-proof frying pan and add a small drop of olive oil. (I use a 28-cm [11-inch] pan.) Preheat your grill (broiler).
- Add the peppers and red onion and sauté over a medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring often. Once the peppers and onion are soft, remove them from the pan and add them to a bowl with the tomatoes, olives and spinach.
- Turn the heat down low and add a touch more oil if you think it needs it. Ladle in the batter, then quickly follow with a good covering of the pepper and spinach mix.
- Cook on a low heat for 3 minutes before placing the pan under your grill just to cook the top. Cook for around 3–4 minutes or until golden.
- Slide the omelette onto a warm plate and top with lightly dressed spinach, hummus and avocado.
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If you and I are friends IRL there’s a solid chance I’ve given you a stack of vegan cookbooks at some point. Each month I receive anywhere from 5-10 new ones to review and most of them end up in a friend’s collection. It’s not that I don’t love having a plethora of vegan cookbooks, but I’ve dedicated one kitchen shelf to them and once the shelf is full, the purge begins.
There is a small handful of these books that will never get donated. I may even be buried with them. They’re sticky, the pages are falling out, and often times I don’t even need to reach for them because I have all my favorite recipes memorized. There are definitely more than five favorites in my collection, but for the sake of brevity, here are the five vegan cookbooks I use the most:
1. Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
Yeah, I could do a whole post about my favorite Post-Punk Kitchen books, so hang onto your butts. Vegan Bunch tops the list if for no other reason than it contains Tony’s most-requested recipe: Navy Bean Gravy. (Real talk, Tony also loves Isa because she always kind of makes fun of me when we run into her in NYC.)
Aside from that super-savory, rich and creamy gravy recipe, Vegan Bunch is also home to Teno’s favorite Old-Fashioned Chelsea Waffles recipe and about ten more that I make all the time. It is by far the dirtiest, most falling-apartiest cookbook in my kitchen.
2. Vegan Casseroles by Julie Hasson
This was a tough call for me, because I also reach for Julie’s Vegan Pizza book pretty often, but when it comes to simple, delicious recipes I want to make over and over again I just can’t quit Vegan Casseroles. Whether you grew up calling them casseroles, bakes or “hot dish” you cannot beat some starch, veggies, protein and sauce mixed together and baked.
My personal favorite is the Truffled Cauliflower Mac n’ Cheese, but I also make the Almost Alfredo Sauce by itself all the time to use on pizzas or to pour over veggies. I’m so committed to my 4-5 favorite recipes I still haven’t even ventured into the dessert section of the book, but one of these days it’ll happen.
3. Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner
Recently, my friend Melisser and I were trying to talk a cheese monger into making nut-based cheeses. When we told him about Artisan Vegan Cheese we both blurted out “It’s the Bible” at the same time and kind of freaked him out. But it truly is a must-own for anyone who’s ready to move beyond nooch sauce and get serious about vegan cheese.
You’ll need a few special ingredients, but nothing you can’t buy online or track down in a health food store, and once you have them, most of them will last you for months. It’s well-worth the time and effort the first time you unveil perfectly fluffy pillows of homemade cashew mozzarella to a party full of astonished guests. Oh, and there are a couple simple noochy sauces in there too if you need baby steps.
4. Vegan Cooking in Your Air Fryer by Kathy Hester
Oh shit, a rookie made the top 5! Well, with eight or so cookbooks under her belt Kathy is no rookie, but this book just came out in January so to already be a go-to on my shelf is pretty special. What can I say, I love my air fryer and Vegan Cooking in Your Air Fryer makes it easy.
I already went on and on about this book when I shared the Carrot Cake in a Mug recipe, so I’m not going to repeat myself. But if you own an air fryer, you need this book.
5. Bake and Destroy: Good Food for Bad Vegans by Natalie Slater
YAAASS bitch, I named my own book in this list! Listen, if I’m not using my own book all the damn time, why should you? Bake and Destroy, even five years later, still stands out from the crowd. I make my Nacho Chee-Zee Sauce at least once a week, and I can’t tell you how many hundreds of Banana Bread French Toast Cupcake photos I’ve been tagged in over the years.
The first edition sold out, so it can be a little tough to find new but you can definitely grab a used copy on Amazon or track it down on another online seller. I’m working on getting the rights back from my publisher now – still trying to decide if I should make some major updates and reprint, or just give all the recipes away on my blog while I work on a second book. What’s your vote?
So that’s my top five – what are your faves? Tell me in the comments.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you click and make a purchase I may earn a commission. That being said, the opinions expressed in this post are my own.