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Food Puncher: Sea Tangle Snacks

Teno and I are going to have to agree to disagree about roasted seaweed. I personally think it’s one of the finest snacks on Earth but…well, you can watch the video. Frankly I’m shocked at how polite he was with his opinions on this one, but maybe he’s saving the mock barfing for something homemade that I actually spend a bunch of time on.

Anyway, if you want to try Sea Tangle Snacks you can find them at Whole Foods. No Whole Foods near you? Sea weed snacks can be found at Trader Joe’s and lots of major grocery chains, too!

Vegan Cuts

Posted in BLOG, Food Puncher, More, Product Reviews | 2 comments

Microwave and Destroy

My name is Natalie, and I almost always hate my lunch.

Let me back up… I officially signed with a publisher and you can all expect to see Bake and Destroy: Good Recipes for Bad Vegans on the shelves (virtual shelves and actual shelves) in Spring 2013! You’d think with all the cooking I’m doing as I develop recipes I’d have plenty of leftovers for lunch, but the opposite is true. I’m cooking so much for the book that I just can’t face the kitchen another second in order to actually feed myself. Ironically, as I have been developing delicious, 100% plant-based recipes, I have fallen off the wagon myself, and started eating disgusting lunches containing the lowest form of cheese-like stuff.

With Teno reviewing snacks over on The Snackpot these days, I figured I’d throw my hat into the packaged goods review game as well. So here are some reviews of the frozen meals I’ve been living off of lately. I bought all of these myself, no PR folks involved, so my opinions are 100% genuine. By the way, I know that these are all gross and bad for me. I’ve shamed myself plenty, believe me.

Amy’s Cheese Enchiladas – The folks at Amy’s describe this entree as a “blend of cheeses, accented by olives and peppers.” I think “accented” was a very clever choice of words to describe a dish that is, essentially, two pieces of beige construction paper swimming in cheese-flavored oil. There isn’t a ton of flavor other than salt and oil and guess what? They consider ONE package to be TWO servings, so each one of these I mildly tolerated at lunchtime contained 28g of fat and 480 calories. Gnarly.

candle cafe vegan frozen entreeCandle Cafe Tofu Spinach Ravoli – “Wait, wait, wait,” I said to Tony the other day in the freezer section at Whole Foods. “Is this the same as Candle 79? I fuckin’ love that place!” Sure enough, these frozen entrees come from the Candle Cafe kitchens in NYC, where I enjoyed a delicious vegan feast not too long ago with my lady Melisser, author of A Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life. I admit I was scared, but I was shocked and amazed to find myself actually enjoying my lunch for once. Of course these retail for about $6 each, which is more than a freshly-made sandwich at Potbelly runs me… but it’s worth it to sit at my desk reading Cracked during lunch instead of being out among other humans.

Morning Star Farms Sweet n’ Sour Chick’n – I was so stoked to see Morningstar Farms get into the frozen entree game. I’ve been an office drone since 2008 and one of my major skill sets is eating stuff out of the microwave. When I was a newbie lazy vegetarian all I ate was Morning Star Farms stuff so as a lazy vegetarian lunch-eater, these entrees seemed heaven-sent. The lasagna is pretty good, but I make lasagna at home quite a bit so I bought the Sweet n’ Sour Chick’n a couple of times. The portion is really small, and there are only 4-5 chick’n nuggets in each one. The breading is soggy, and the sauce is more sweet than sour. Pretty gross, all in all.

Kashi vegetarian frozen entreeKashi Mayan Harvest Bake – The whole time I was eating this I kept pulling the box out of the garbage to re-read what was in it. “Plantains with roasted sweet potato, black beans and kale. Spicy ancho sauce with pumpkin seed garnish served over Kashi seven whole grain polenta, plus amaranth.” I admit, it was…weird. But I would eat it again. I also appreciate that one serving = one entire entree so I don’t have to do math to know that I just ate 340 calories and 9g of fat. Kashi stuff tends to have a good amount of protein and fiber, too, so I actually stay full when I eat it.

Amy’s Vegetable Parmesan Bowl – I speak in hyperbole, which is unfortunate because it means I have to go out of my way to describe things I hate when truly I hate them. I fucking hate this entree. I ate it this week and I’m still angry about it. Let me describe it to you. It’s a black, plastic tray half-filled with miscellaneous mushy vegetable-type squish sitting in a puddle of warm water, topped with greasy cheese. I don’t know what the vegetables were, because they tasted like wet thing and clinical depression. But hey, it was only 260 calories so at least I’ll be hungry again in 5 minutes!

Amy’s Mexican Casserole Bowl – Oh Amy’s, I’m not being very nice to you, am I? Let’s talk about one of your entrees I do continue to eat because I love it so. Mexican Casserole, and all its 16g of delicious fat is a staple in my disgusting, microwaved lunch diet. I’ll be honest – I’m just in it for the masa. Yes, I could eat a tamale if masa is all I want, but they don’t have vegetarian tamales in the freezer section at Target, and that’s usually where I am when I realize I didn’t bring anything for lunch. So I microwave this bowl of corn, cheese and beans and try to eat it all before my co-workers notice how gross I am.

Basically SWAD Foods Makes – At the end of the day, I know the truth about all this microwaved garbage I eat for lunch, It’s unhealthy, because it’s full of fats and salt to make it taste OK, and it doesn’t really taste OK because it’s made in the microwave and prone to mushiness. It’s the price I’m willing to pay to not have to wake up 15 minutes earlier in the morning to make myself lunch. Also, I kind of hate sandwiches, which are the official food of lunchtime. So what’s a girl to do?

Thankfully, there is SWAD. I get these packets for $1-2/each at my local Indian grocery store, and I’ve seen them in most major grocery stores. Zap a packet for 2 minutes and pour it over rice for a lunch that actually tastes like something, and has enough lentils and chickpeas and whatnot to keep you full until 4pm granola bar time. If you’ve never had paneer cheese, you might not want SWAD to be your first exposure, but I can vouch for all the cheeseless vegetarian dishes.

So that’s my confession about how disguising I am Monday-Friday between the hours of 12pm and 1pm. Actually typing that out might have influenced me to work on more entrees for my book so I have something to eat that I don’t have to be ashamed of. What do you guys eat for lunch? Anything I should be eating?

Posted in BLOG, More, Product Reviews, Reviews | 2 comments

Come to NYC With Me on DishPal

Hello! I’m headed to the airport in a few minutes – going to NYC to film a segment for Cooking Channel’s The Perfect 3. I made a quick video to tell you about an app I’ve been using called DishPal*. It’s free, and it’s kind of a neat way to connect with other foodies. Download it and do a user search for me – Natalie Slater – so you can see all the stuff I manage to shove in my face in this quick trip.

Hey! Don’t forget to vote for my Vegan Chai Koala Cupcake every day until 2/12 – if I win I’m donating the entire prize to Grind for Life. It could mean a whole lot to a family dealing with cancer, so tell everyone you know!

*Nope, I’m not being paid to tell you to use DishPal. I was compensated to test the beta version, and I thought it was cool so I’m sharing it with you.

Posted in BLOG, News, Product Reviews | 1 comment

Vegan-friendly Smores Donuts

With another SugarSlam under my belt and the boys away camping I thought this week end would be an awesome time to get a lot of work done on my book. While I did record a few more recipes and mess around with the intro a bit, I mostly succeeded in finding new and exciting ways to procrastinate. I Skyped with my friend Matt and Joy from Lucky Cupcake Hairclips. I make a batch of triple chocolate cupcakes for my friends at The Alley. I ate Chinese food in the middle of the day, got a couple of Journey t-shirts made for my mom and me… I read A Game of Thrones and then I finally wrote a little bit and fell asleep.

So when Teno and Tony returned with left over graham crackers and a half bag of Dandies marshmallows I decided it was time to get out of my food-making slump and make something new. Not for my book, just for me. And for you. Smores donuts, to be exact. See, for my last birthday my friend Jessica gifted me the traditional 31st birthday present – an electric donut maker. If you have one already, here’s a new recipe for you to try. And if you don’t have one, it actually works pretty well – you should get one! You could also use this recipe with regular donut pans, though.

You can make this recipe vegan or not. Mine was sort of a mashup of dairy and non-dairy ingredients because that’s what I had on hand.

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup finely ground graham crackers (my Ninja did the trick in about 3 seconds)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbs baking powder
  • 1 egg (or your favorite egg replacer)
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used almond, you can use dairy, soy, whatever you like)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (I chopped up some vegan chips from Whole Foods)
  • a handful of Dandies vegan marshmallows

Then you:

Stir the dry ingredients together. Add the egg (or replacement,) vanilla and milk and beat for 1 minute with an electric mixer or by hand. Add oil and beat 1 more minute. FInally, stir in the chocolate chips.

Follow the instructions on your donut maker to bake the donuts. When they’re done, and still hot, top each donut with a Dandie marshmallow and toast with a kitchen torch. Sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs and chocolate chips.

In other news, the Threadcakes competition is under way and I’m happy to say I’m serving as a judge for the second year in a row! So get out your whisks and do something impressive! Oh, and one more thing – come hang out with me on Tumblr!

 

Posted in BLOG, Product Reviews | 5 comments

The Gentlemen Broncos Diet (Vegan Mac n’ Cheese)

Hello, why have you not seen this movie?

I expected to get a lot of questions from my friends and readers when I started on the 28 Day Healthy Eating Challenge. Things like “how will you get your calcium without drinking milk?” Hmm… well, I guess I’ll get it the way all other adult mammals do – through a well-balanced diet that includes lots of leafy greens. “Where will you get protein?” I dunno, let me go ask this 4.6 ton elephant where he gets his and I guess I’ll eat that. I only hope it’s enough to sustain my 5’2″ 115 lb body! Surprisingly, though, the two most commonly asked questions so far have been “WTF is nutritional yeast” and “WTF is hemp milk?” I don’t have sassy answers to those questions, so I’m going to answer them as seriously as I’m capable of.

Let’s start with yeast – mostly because it reminds me of Gentlemen Broncos, which makes me laugh. If you haven’t seen it yet, smoke some hemp milk and then watch it. It’s one of the best intentionally terrible movies you will ever see. Bonus: Then yeast will make you laugh too. Here’s some stuff you should know about nutritional yeast:

  1. Technically a fungus, nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast grown on cane and beet molasses.
  2. The flavor is best described as nutty or cheesy, which also makes me laugh.
  3. Depending on the type you buy, it either looks like cornmeal or yellow flakes.
  4. Our New Zealand friends know it as Brufax. They also pronounce “aluminum” hilariously.
  5. Nutritional yeast is a complete protein, rich in B-complex vitamins and it makes you pee bright yellow.

Now that you’re basically a yeast expert, WTF do you do with it? Well, if you’re a good little vegan or vegetarian you’re probably already putting it in almost everything you eat. Because of its savory nature, nutritional yeast is great sprinkled into soups and stews, stir frys, in dips, on salads… I sprinkle it on popcorn for a cheesy flavor and use it like Parmesan on my pasta. Even if you’re not vegetarian, it’s a great flavor and nutrient boost to all of your food.

This week end we used a whole heap of nutritional yeast in a vegan mac and “cheese” recipe my husband has been talking about since I met him about 8 years ago. Its Eric Z’s mac n’ yeast, and it was worth the 8 year wait. We went for the classic elbow-shape so Teno would eat it, but rotini or anything else that grabs onto sauce would work too.

The Gentlemen Broncos Diet (Vegan Mac n’ Cheese) Recipe

vegan mac & cheese

By BakeandDestroy Published: May 24, 2011

    Our friend Eric owns Refuge Skate Shop in Detroit. He's an OG vegan who has been making this mac n' yeast since at least the early 90's. You can make this recipe with any kind of pasta you like - whole wheat, brown rice, plain old semolina.

    Ingredients

    Instructions

    1. Preheat your oven to 350. Cook the macaroni half way (whatever time the package instructs, half it.) Drain and set aside.
    2. . In a saucepan, melt margarine over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth and bubbly.
    3. Add boiling water and soy sauce or Bragg's, whisk until smooth and thick. Add nutritional yeast and whisk until completely smooth.
    4. Add seasonings and mustard -then mix 1/2 of "cheese" with the noodles - transfer to a casserole dish.
    5. Pour the remaining "cheese" on top and sprinkle with paprika and bread crumbs.
    6. Bake for 25 mins and finish in broiler until crispy and browned.

      WordPress Recipe Plugin by ReciPress

      Hemp Milk

      In all of my 14+ years of on-again, off-again veganism I was way too straight edge to even consider it. Sure, hemp seeds don’t contain THC, the chemical that makes stoners awesome and stupid, but the idea of getting caught with a box of hemp milk on my way home from the store? Nope. Too crucial for that. Then I started reading about the many health benefits hemp seeds offer - Omega-6 and Omega-3 essential fatty acids, magnesium, phytosterols, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, calcium, fiber, iron, potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin, niacin and thiamin – and I started to consider it as a viable alternative to soymilk, which I try not to consume too much of, and cow milk, which I find repulsive. (Not for any ethical reasons so much as the fact that it’s squeezed out of a COW. ::shiver::)

      This is Tony. He hates everything.

      So after my Cooking with Greens class at Whole Foods last week I wandered around putting things in my cart that I knew Tony would make faces about: Coconut milk ice cream, Braggberry salad dressing and a box of Tempt hemp milk (unsweetened vanilla.) I was scared, I will admit. But I was determined not only to try hemp milk, but also to make my first green smoothie.

      In the morning I threw some frozen mixed berries, a chunk of frozen spinach, a few pieces of frozen pineapple and some Tempt hemp milk into my blender. I took a shot of hemp milk first, determined not to let it’s foreignness ruin my drink – it was good. Pretty mild. So I hit puree. The blender seemed to be choking on the concoction, so being the genius that I am, I jabbed at the contents with a wooden spoon until it started whirring around. It looked like Satan’s vomit in a glass, but I gave it a try anyway.

      You can also bake with hemp milk. Look, I made these!

      It tasted like Satan’s vomit in a glass, but Tony had already stated that green smoothies were gross, so I stubbornly drank it anyway. It wasn’t until a few hours later when I was loading the dishwasher that I noticed a chunk missing from my bamboo spoon. It wasn’t in the blender and it wasn’t in my empty glass. What happened to my digestive system later in the day leads me to believe it was in my belly.

      Anyway, I knew hemp milk was a-ok, so I wanted to give green smoothies another shot. (And I know there are true green smoothies – that actually look green, but mine are purple because I like berries. I do whatever I want, it’s part of my charm.) So the next morning I threw in another bunch of frozen berries, some pineapple, fresh organic baby spinach (a big handful) and some Tempt hemp milk. It was a little less sweet than I like it, so I drizzled in some agave and achieved pure smoothie happiness. I also replaced my crappy Kitchenaid blender with a Ninja, which has a cooler name and three big, scary blades, making for a much smoother smoothie.

       

      Posted in 28 Day Challenge, BLOG, Giveaways, Product Reviews, Savory Stuff, Vegan | 32 comments

      Kitchen Sink Post: Reviews, giveaways, nonsense

      In honor of nonsense: This shirt is aces.

      If you read my About Me page you’ll see that I’m not entirely PR-friendly. But, like I say on that page, I’ll bend my “no reviews” rules if something is particularly awesome or particularly stupid. I’ll review something without question if I received it as a gift from someone I know or if I bought it myself – those are unbiased and fair. Reviewing free stuff is tough, though, and I turn down a ton of free stuff because I always want to be honest with you guys.

      So if I do say yes to a sample of something it has to be something I really think you guys would want to read about or something I’ve always been curious about. That means I say no to a lot of gourmet cake mixes, cocktail mixers and beef jerky samples. Yep. Beef jerky. No idea how I ended up on that mailing list.

      That being said, I’ve been sitting on a handful of reviews for a while and figured I’d put them all together in one post that you can easily ignore if you have no interest in it. If you bear with me, though, I have a prize for one of you that makes almost as little sense as this post does.

      Reviews

      POM Wonderful pomegranate juice

      First of all I was not going to accept these samples because I remember reading that this company tests on animals. I read a little more to discover that they have stopped such practices in recent years, but it’s still yuck. This was one case, however, when Tony was really excited to try something I was offered so I gave the OK to ship me some samples. I should have trusted my instincts, however, that a juice tested on animals was going to be many things – delicious not being one of them. I try to avoid disposable plastic drink containers and of course, that’s what these are packaged in. I prefer to make my own juice or buy it in larger containers and then pour it into small reusable containers. Tony and I had plans to reduce this stuff and use it on a savory recipe but after trying it we decided it tasted like sweet dirt. I would say that’s my juvenile taste buds at fault, but Tony likes almost everything and he didn’t like it either. So thumbs down on that one.

      Kari’s Malva Pudding

      Here’s a case where my curiosity got the best of me. I had no idea what Malva pudding was, it sounded weird, and I wanted to check it out so I said yes. I received a cooler with two Malva puddings inside – chocolate and original. Apparently Malva pudding is a South African pudding cake named for the woman who made them best – Malva. Kari is a South African import, now living in California and making these traditional treats for lucky folks in the states. I followed the heating directions, cooking the chocolate pudding for about 30 minutes and topping it with a scoop of Trader Joe’s coffee ice cream. Holy man. Yes. I love Malva pudding. It’s kind of like tres leches cake – very, very moist and almost liquid in the middle. Thumbs up to Kari’s Malva Pudding.

      Capresso Froth Pro

      This is all Tony wanted for Christmas so he was pretty stoked when my mom bought it for him. I had to include this thing in my round up of reviews because it’s my official favorite appliance in the house. Tony prefers the heating disk, which warms and fluffs the milk with only enough of foam for a perfect latte. I go big or go home with the frothing disk which produces a big, fluffy pile of foamy milk every time. It works just as well with soy and coconut milk, by the way. Paired with the awesome (but wasteful) Tassimo my grandma gave us in January we are hella caffeinated at all times. Thumbs up to the Capresso Froth Pro.

      Twix Coconut

       
      WTF is all this crap?

      I did the happy dance when I got an email offering me samples of the new Twix Coconut candy cars. Twix are among my favorite candies and I love all things coconut and caramel. I’m always a little shocked when PR companies overnight non-perishable things to me – it’s so expensive and so environmentally unfriendly, but I was willing to over look the 2nd Day Air packaging waiting for me when I got home yesterday knowing that Twix Coconut would be inside. I opened the relatively big box, excited to pre-game my dinner with a Twix and suffered a major boner-killer when I saw the contents. A big, plastic coconut cup and straw, a non-woven polypropylene Twix shopping bag, a Twix thumb drive and ONE Twix Coconut bar.

      What the fancy fuck am I supposed to do with a plastic coconut cup?  I shared the ONE candy sample with Teno and Tony, and we all liked it. Actually, it tasted a lot like my favorite Girl Scout cookie, Samoas. So mixed emotions on this one – thumbs up for the candy itself, thumbs down for all the extra weird stuff that came with it.

      Drank

      I actually received this sample after making fun of it on Twitter. I’ve been a longtime skeptic of energy drinks. Have you ever seen the people who drink them? In my experience they’re normally slouching on the couch or in front of a computer, throwing back their fourth Monster and not exerting a whole lot of energy. So when I saw an ad for Drank, I (ironically) loved the name and the concept. “Slow your role.” People are so lazy and stupid, it really is awesome.

      However, the girl who reps this company happens to be a Bake and Destroy reader and she was nice enough to send me some to check out. I decided not to give it a try after seeing how much high fructose corn syrup was on the ingredients list (seems like a bad idea right before bed) but Tony chugged one at about 7pm. I warned him that the other ingredients - valerian root, melatonin, and rose hips – have been known to knock me out on occasion but he weighs over 100 lbs more than me and of course, always knows best. Dude was out cold by 9pm, after spending an hour complaining that he was tired and didn’t know why. I stayed up watching The Soup re-runs until about 11 and then made fun of him in the morning for getting wasted on Drank. We won’t be buying it anytime soon, but if you’re looking for an anti-energy drink, I’m going to have to say thumbs up on this one.

      And now for some other stuff…

      BUST Magazine Craftacular and Food Fair

      If you happen to live on this planet and have eyeballs, you may have noticed my recent excitement about being one of the food bloggers featured in Bust magazine’s Food Issue. Well, the ladies at Bust are getting ready for the BUST Magazine Craftacular and Food Fair in May, and have asked me to get the word out that they’re looking for over 100 total vendors and that they’ve love to include more food artisans and specialty foods. I know Bake and Destroy readers are the most delicious ladies and gents out there, so you should probably apply now.

      New baseball T

       

       

      Baseball T’s and other things

      I recently used my Mamapedia points to make some custom Bake and Destroy stuff over at Cafe Press. After posting a picture of my baseball T on Facebook I received a lot of requests to make more. If I had to screen print them here in Chicago like the stuff in my shop it would be mighty pricy and time-consuming, so I opened up a Cafe Press shop to make affordable stuff quickly for you guys. Check it out at http://www.cafepress.com/bakeanddestroy Of course I still have screen printed stuff, stickers, and other things in my shop. Update: Please visit my new new shop here: http://bakeanddestroy.spreadshirt.com/

      Giveaway

      I realize this was a weird post. Look, the recipe I made this week didn’t turn out so hot and it wasn’t funny enough to even post as a fail. To reward you for making it all the way through, I have a package of nonsense to send one of you. Leave me a comment below about anything you please – the stuff I reviewed, something else I should review, whatever is in your pocket, what you had for breakfast, song lyrics…whatever – and one of you will receive roasted peanut soap, a beer-scented tea light, an assortment of Seibei 1″ buttons, a whole bunch of Bake and Destroy stickers, oh… and a Twix thumb drive. :) The other stuff I include depends on who wins. I’m not sending a dude funny hair clips from China Town, but I might send him a fart machine from Uncle Fun. This is all weird stuff I’ve collected over the past few weeks just for this purpose, I’m not just emptying my junk drawer and sending it to you.

      With that, I’m going to go finish reading Fargo Rock City, which I believe may be the best book I read all year. (Nerd.)

      XXX

      Casey Ann, you win! Thanks!

      Posted in BLOG, Giveaways, Off Topic, Product Reviews | 64 comments