Monday, September 19, 2011

Portland VegFest! My Faves From The Conference

Hi friends!
I had the most amazing weekend, and I give full credit to Portland VegFest 2011!

For those of you who missed out, wow, I'm sorry, because it was amazing. It completely rejuvinated me and reinforced my decision to go vegan. It was exactly what I needed. My biggest regret was only making it for one day, if I'd known what to expect I would have spent the entire weekend there.

Since I missed most of the speakers and demos (ughhhh bummer), I spent my time at VegFest checking out all the booths in the exhibit hall! A lot of the products I'd tried before, because lets be honest, I've devoted an entire blog to finding new products i can eat. But there were a few that were new to me that I'm really excited about!

First of all, my boyfriend Joe bought a Vitamix, which means my smoothies and soups are about to reach a whole new level of awesome. Stay tuned for recipes!!

Oregon Ice Works - I'd seen their food cart before, but never had a chance to try their stuff, so VegFest gave me the opportunity. Wowza. They make vegan Italian Ice in all sorts of flavors. I got to try the marionberry and the vanilla which were both out of this world. The only drawback is that their products are sweetened with cane sugar (although it is fair trade which is nice!). But other than that its just water and fruit! Pretty great, right? You can get more info at their website: http://oregonice.com/.

It's Alive - So this is one I've tried before, I'm actually a regular buyer of their raw dill sauerkraut, but they have some new flavors and products that I feel deserve attention! Like....their seaweed kimchi! I know it sounds weird, but if you are a fermented foods junkie like myself, you'd LOVE this stuff. It would take a pretty great flavor to pull me away from my beloved dill sauerkraut, but this one did it. Because its new, it isnt available everywhere yet, but they do have it in bulk at Peoples Coop which is awesome! The other product that's amazing is their dehydated snack mix, which is a mix of seeds and spices that was absolutely to die for. My favorite was the Wasasbi Nori. For products and locations, check out http://www.itsalivefood.com/index.htm

Foods Alive - Ok, this is a bit random, but I've never had oil as tasty as their flax oil. Oh my god. I would eat that stuff straight out of the bottle. And its full of vegan omega 3s, which is an added bonus! They also make salad dressings that use the oil as a base as well as flax crackers that are pretty dang good! Unfortunately, they can't be found locally, but its totally worth buying online: http://www.foodsalive.com/

Al Amir -  Al Amir is a lebanese restaurant here in Portland, but they make some of their dips and sell them through grocery stores. We tried their garlic sauce, and WOW was it good. We kept going back for seconds and thirds and fourths, and if we'd had the cash both my friend Ilan and I would have bought it on the spot. This stuff is amazing, and its available at a bunch of places apparently, even Fred Meyer! Also a plus, their restaurant serves gluten free falafel, so heyyy, that's a win!

But of all the vendors, I did have a favorite...drumroll please

And the winner is....Solstice Snacks!

Oh my stars. They make these goji snack bars that are like rice crispies and fruit and all sorts of yummy goodness and I think I probably had at least two samples of every flavor (unfortunately some of them have peanut butter). Of all the flavors, my favorite is a toss up between Chocolate Mint and Thai Spice. I noticed the thai one isn't on their website, so it must be fairly new. These little snackies are sooo delicious! I can't wait to go buy some once I'm off my cleanse! More info can be found at http://store.solsticebars.com/


So I did kinda lie, I actually had a product I liked as much as the Solstice Bars; Sorta Sausage Hemp Burgers. I was all ready to write them this glowing review, when I checked their website and found out they contain corn! I'm so bummed! I was dumb for not asking ahead of time, especially because I had enough samples to equal a whole burger. I like want to cry. It was one of the best things I've ever tasted. I'm hoping to write to them and comment that they should make a corn free version. However, if you aren't allergic to corn, you HAVE to try these. Find out more here: http://sortasausage.com/

At the end of the day, Ilan, Joe and I stuck around for a screening of the film Forks Over Knives, which was the final straw in convincing me to go vegan 7 months ago. If you haven't seen it, I HIGHLY recommend it. It's out on video now and its also available on Netflix. What gets me every time about this movie is how well researched it is. With so much conflicting info out there about nutrition's part in health, its easy to get confused. I still do, after all this time. But this movie really reminded me that I am doing the right thing. I think the thing that makes this movie so awesome is that it presents the information from a health standpoint, rather than being a slasher film full of clips of animal cruelty or an intimidating and annoying liberal protest-fest. This movie focuses solely on the research that proves eating animal protein can lead to the growth of cancer cells, as well as cause diabetes and heart disease. It appeals to such a wide audience, which is really what I'm trying to accomplish as well. So seriously, SEE IT! It will change your life.

I can't even express how perfect VegFest was for me this weekend. After being run down from my cleanse, it was exactly the boost I needed to remind me why I live the way I do. It got me excited about veganism again. I was seriously glowing after I left, my whole being was filled with energy. I definitely plan on attending more NWVeg events, and I'll keep you all posted on each one! And be on the lookout for more VegFest related reviews, I have a couple new restaurants to try and tell you about!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ready to get Clean!

This summer has been a ride...

With the drinking (and hangovers that keep getting worse), eating out, and never ending stomach issues, I think my body needs a break.

About a month ago I ran across a book called "Clean". The author, Alejandro Junger, discusses why it's important for us to detox our bodies, and how to go about it without derailing our busy lives. It completely fascinated me, and although I've done cleanses before, this one seemed to be way legit. He's an M.D., so I feel comfortable knowing that he went through med school and still believes that this is the way to go. It definitely takes a more mainstream approach to the idea of fasting.

I'll be deviating from his cleanse just a bit, but you can find out more about his program here:



After talking to my natropath, I've come to the conclusion that although my stomach is improving quite a bit, eating a ton of raw veggies may not be ideal for my healing process. So instead of eating a solid meal at lunch, I'll be eating smoothies, blended soups and juices throughout the day. I feel confident that with this cleanse and the homeopathic supplements I'm taking, I'm on the right path to full healing.

I'm going to be giving a day to day account of my progress on my other blog, including recipes for the smoothies and juices I create. I'm hoping to also post some of those recipes here, but the other blog is the best place to follow me on my journey. Also, I'd definitely recommend checking out Dr. Junger's book, it's really interesting stuff, and it appeals to a wide audience in that it definitely applies to everyone.

Stay tuned, I'll be all clean before you know it!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Portland VegFest 2011 is Coming!!

Hi all!
I know not all my readers are vegan or even vegetarian, but I assume if you read my blog you love good, healthy food that makes you feel great! Maybe some of you are even a little veg-curious, but don't know much about plant based diets or aren't sure how to transition to one. It can definitely be intimidating to ask for answers from hard-core vegans (I'll admit...that scares me a little too!).

But hey, it doesnt have to be that way!! My recommendation? Come to Portland VegFest!! This two-day conference, held at the Oregon Convention Center, features guest speakers, chef demos, family activities, resturants and vendors, and best of all, free food! It's a great place to explore vegetarianism and get your burning questions answered.

I'm most excited to see Dr. Neal Barnard speak...he's an MD who specializes in healing the body through a whole foods, plant based diet and he's been featured on numerous talk shows like Ellen, plus he has a best selling book out. He'll be a fantastic resource for vegan and veg-curious attendees alike.

Also a plus for you veg-curious types, the documentary Forks Over Knives will be screened during the conference. This is the movie that convinced me to go vegan back in February! After seeing this movie, you'll have no doubt in your mind that veggie is the way to go. And don't worry, its not full of grotesque images of abused farm animals (although that tends to get the job done as well); its all about how your health can truly benefit from a plant based diet, and it shows success stories of people curing their diabetes and other chronic illnesses with this way of life. Very inspiring, and very cool!

Here's the info on the event, I truly hope you'll join me in attending this fabulous event! I've been looking forward to it for months :)

What: Portland VegFest 2011
Where: Oregon Convention Center
Date: Sept. 17-18
Time: 10am - 6pm
More info: Check out http://nwveg.org/

Friday, August 12, 2011

Plum Vegan Bistro - Seattle, WA

Yes, I'm still alive.

I say this every time, I know, but I've neglected the blog once again while I attempt to make sense of the craziness that is life. I'm still without a new job, which brings both anxiety about money and the childlike excitement of having four day weekends! Last weekend Joe and I ventured up to Seattle (again, I've been there a lot this summer!) with the boat to check out Seafair. Seafair is basically a big festival complete with drunken hoards on boats, watching the blue angels fly, and hydroplane races. I'd never been so I didn't know what to expect...but wow, it was unreal. Boats literally everywhere, swells that you'd expect to find amidst a storm way out at sea (which sucks when you are hungover, ughh), and a flight show by the Blue Angels that is sure to blow your mind. I loved it!

What I also love about visiting Seattle is trying new restaurants!! Seattle's no Portland, but it has it's share of vegan, allergy friendly cuisine. Last time, I checked out Chaco Canyon, which was absolutely to die for, but this time we stayed in Capitol Hill so I was determined to find somewhere a little closer to try for the first time. Luckily, Joe's friend Chris, who we stayed with, has a roommate who's girlfriend is vegan, so a quick text and we were on our way to Plum Bistro.


Upon arriving, it was clear to me that this was the most upscale vegan spot I've ever been to. The decor made me feel like I was in some exclusive, members only ski lodge in Aspen; wood beams on the ceilings, dim light, just a very elegant feel.

The menu honestly looks like a menu you'd get at a regular gourmet restaurant: protein dishes, gourmet burgers and pizza, pasta, salads, and a custom drink menu. Yet instead of ordering a "steak", "seafood", "pork" or "chicken" entree, you ordered a "tempeh", "seitan", "quinoa" and "tofu" entree. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. This was definitely the first time I'd ever seen a menu like this in a vegan restaurant. To top it off, they label what is gluten free by adding a little G with a slash through it next to the description, AND everything on the menu is made with 100% organic ingredients! That being said, it's obviously on the spendier side, but so worth it.

We started with an appetizer, and I absolutely could not resist ordering the avocado roll. I love sushi so any chance for me to try a new type of vegan sushi roll I'm all over it. But it seriously exceeded my expectations; I can easily say it was the best vegan sushi roll I've ever had. Better than like actual sushi places. The concoction inside the roll tasted like it could almost be raw tuna, but better due to whatever seasoning was used. I honestly still am not sure what was in it, but it was amazing. Even cooler, they make it with brown rice instead of white...I hardly come across that in sushi places and I'm so glad they were conscious enough to make the switch!

For dinner, I couldn't wait to try a tempeh entree. Although the Tempeh Vermouth is their most popular item, I decided to go off the beaten path and check out the Chipotle Glazed Tempeh (which, I just noticed, isn't on their permanent menu...bummer). It came out topped with mango salsa on a bed of steamed greens and man was it good! I think I may have licked my plate clean....it really inspired me to get good at cooking tempeh.


Joe, of course, couldn't resist ordering a burger. He ended up with the Crazy Jamaican Burger. The burger was jerk tofu, topped with ripe plantains, sweet onions, potato salad and tomatoes, with a side of fries. Thanks to the bun I couldn't try an actual bite, but I tasted the burger part and the fries and WOW. Easily some of the best fries I've ever had, and the burger had such a unique but satisfying flavor. And of course, Joe and Chris both loved it, which means it had the "normal-eater" stamp of approval :)



At the end of the meal, it was honestly all I could do to not order more food, I was so intrigued by the menu and seriously dying to sample everything! There is no question I'll be back....I gotta find out the secret ingredient in that sushi so I can make it and share it with all of you! ;-)

Monday, August 1, 2011

WTF Brewfest??

What a weekend!

First off, I can't even say how thankful I am that we are finally having nice weather! And its been consistent! This is what I live for...especially when I can spend my weekends on the boat, perusing farmer's markets, and experiencing all that summer in Portland has to offer!

If you are a Portlander, you know that the Oregon Brewer's Festival, lovingly dubbed "Brewfest", is the biggest (and there are quite a few) brewer's festival in Portland. Always the last weekend of July, it showcases beers from all over the Northwest, many of them made right here in town. Although I'm not a beer drinker (hello gluten!), I always go because I love the atmosphere...tons of wasted people being wild and loving life. I have a blast everytime, despite being sober in a sea of drunks.

This year however, I was pleased to hear that Brewfest would have a gluten free beer for the first time ever! Deschute's Brewery's Gluten Free Pale Ale (which I love), was among the beers being showcased. I was so excited that I'd finally be able to participate in a ritual that is so loved by Portlanders and out of towner's alike.

All my friends planned on going Saturday afternoon and staying all day, and sure enough, when Joe and I arrived, we immediately ran into people we knew. It was super packed, and everyone seemed to be having an amazing time already. We made a beeline for the Deschutes trailer, eager to try their GF concoction, only to find....nothing. The sign for Deschutes brewery had a makeshift sign up advertising some beer that was definitely not gluten free. When I inquired, I was informed that they were out. OUT. As in, nothing left. I was so disappointed. And then I was kinda angry. Here's my deal. People like me who are gluten free usually don't expect to be included in festivities involving beer. Like I said, I've had a blast in the past sober, simply because thats what I went in expecting. But when you go out of your way to advertise that you will be offering a gluten free beer, you open the doors for celiacs and gluten intolerant people to finally come where they may not have before. Once we are there, and have paid our money to get in, we don't really have any options besides that one gluten free beer, and its not like admission and tokens are refundable. So we naturally expect that what we came for will be there. So Joe and I were stuck with an extra mug and wayy too many tokens (we had leftovers even after Joe blacked out...).

I think what annoyed me most about the whole deal is that when we got to the front of the line to buy tokens, I specifically asked about the GF beer, making sure I hadn't been misinformed that it even existed and finding out where it was located. The guy assured me it existed, sold us tokens, and pointed us in the right direction. I understand that it would be overwhelming to keep up with all the beers and which ones had run out, but when you have an entire demographic that comes for one specific beer for health purposes, you'd better be on top of your ish...

I'm normally a big complainer, since I know I'm one of the most high maintenance eaters on the planet. I'm usually happy that people even consider accomadating my requests. But when you advertise something, you should really pull through on it, especially because if you don't, you are losing an entire demographic of people. I do plan on sending an email so that they don't make the same mistake next year. If you feel the same, please send an email as well, requesting not only that they serve gluten free beer, but that they bring enough! I'll be contacting the festival director, Art Larrance, at art@oregonbrewfest.com, I encourage you to do the same!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Vegan, GF Enchiladas! Just like mom used to make...kinda

Hiieee friends!
Once again, I've abandoned you for a whole week. I'm sorry! Life has been crazy with job hunting, house hunting, and most importantly, playing in the sun! I had a pretty awesome weekend; saw Katy Perry in concert with my sister, spent a LOT of time boating, participated in a pub crawl...makes it tough to get back in the swing of things when a new week starts.

The good news is, I did pick up a second job, so that lessens the job search a little, and there is a very good chance the house search could be over by the end of the week, so more time to make up some recipes for you guys! Especially cause Joe and I are getting sick of cooking the same dishes every night, so we are trying to branch out.

My mom used to make these KILLER homemade enchiladas that were basically corn, wheat and dairy all mixed together and cooked...needless to say I haven't had those in a while. But I'd been craving that recipe and I knew I could probably figure out a way to make them, so I attempted it last night. I used soy curls instead of chicken, because we tried soy curls at Blossoming Lotus that were marinated in enchilada sauce they tasted just like chicken, no joke. It got the Joe Kemp (aka non-gluten free and non-vegan) seal of approval, so I figured it was worth sharing!

Mom's Enchiladas (Vegan, GF, corn free)
Serves 2-3

1-2 cans enchilada sauce (if you are avoiding tomatoes, use a tomatillo one like I did...its the green one)
6 small GF tortillas (we used French Meadow but they do have a trace amount of corn, you can also use Food for Life and tear them in half or just make super-sized enchiladas haha)
~1/2 c. Wayfare Mexi Cheddar Style Spread (if you can't get this, I'm assuming any vegan cheese spread will do)
1/2 c. Daiya pepperjack shreds
1 1/2 c. soy curls

Heat about 3/4 of the enchilada sauce over medium high heat until warm. Stir in soy curls and remove from heat, letting them sit at least 20 minutes if possible (they will soften up more in the oven, but the longer you can marinate them the better). Take each tortilla and spread about a tablespoon of chedder spread in the middle. Top with soy curls and daiya cheese, roll up, and place in a square baking dish. Use a toothpick to hold them together if needed. Cover with remaining enchilada sauce (the more you use the softer they'll be) and sprinkle more Daiya over the top. Cook in oven at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

They aren't a perfect replica of my mom's enchiladas (they were packed FULL of cheese), but they'll definitely do in a vegan pinch! I'm just happy I can make enchiladas again! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Have a wonderful week, and if you live in the Portland area, make sure to check out the Oregon Brewers Festival this weekend....they are FINALLY serving a gluten free beer!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Kitchen Dances

Hello all!

Thought I owed you guys a post since I feel like I've been so behind these last few weeks. I've now spent two weekends in Seattle, which totally throws off any semblance of routine I have. When I'm out of town its hard to keep up with my meditation, yoga, morning juicing, and sadly, blogging. But its Monday morning, I've had my juice for breakfast and my salad for lunch, and I'm ready to write!

It's been an interesting week. I went to Seattle for my best friend Kelli's birthday. As excited as I was to celebrate with her, I was super bummed that I wouldn't be able to partake in any drinking thanks to my parasite (which Kelli named Clarence, by the way). Thursday of last week, I couldn't take it anymore. My diet is so restrictive as it is and although I'm a big advocate of treating things the natural way, the meds my natropath had me on were just taking too long. So I bit the bullet and went to a regular doctor. Thankfully, the new doctor I tried out was actually pretty awesome, so I appreciated that. They had to retest me for the parasite but once my results come back I can get on a more hardcore treatment that will hopefully knock little Clarence out. So I decided to go off my parasite diet for the weekend! And as a result I had an amazing weekend with Kelli and her friends. As much as I'm a stickler about my diet and health, there is really something to be said for letting go every once in a while. I think a little indulgence is good for our wellbeing.

Moving on...

If you are from the Portland/Vancouver area, you are well aware that Portland has a big food cart scene, one that is supposed to be the best in the country. There are seriously food carts for EVERYTHING! Aside from late night drunk munchies, I haven't done much exploration of these food carts simply because many of them only have hours that suit a lunch crowd, and seeing as I get a half hour lunch and work in Vancouver, I don't have the luxury of testing them out. Lucky me though, with my new work schedule, I get Friday's off as a part of my weekend. So I figured, what better way to celebrate this new freedom than check out a vegan food cart?

I happened to be running errands in the SE Belmont area, and I'd heard of this place called Kitchen Dances. It's located on Belmont and 43rd in a parking lot that has a whole bunch of carts all clustered together. You can't miss Kitchen Dances, its in a cute little red cart with an outdoor seating area towards the back. The menu is all vegan with a lot of raw and gluten free options and specials that change daily. But probably the most exciting little tidbit about this spot is that 2011 Vegan Top Chef winner Piper Dixon runs the cart...so you know the food is gonna rock!

I had a really difficult time deciding what to get...everything sounded amazing. They make vegan quesadillas and they even have gluten free tortillas for us celiacs, the beet ravioli also looked pretty unreal, but I ended up going for the salad that was on special, which was a delish mix of greens, topped with pear, avocado, carrots, sauerkraut and a super-fresh lemon tahini dressing. It definitely hit the spot, although I did consider ordering a quesadilla afterwords as well.


(I forgot to take the pic until I was halfway through...it was THAT good)


In addition to fresh lunch options, they also sell some of their stuff to go. They've got hummus made from raw chickpeas which I'm absolutely dying to try, as well as vegan cheesecake and all sorts of other little goodies. If I hadn't been on the parasite diet at the time, you KNOW I would have tested those out. Oh well, guess I have a good excuse to go back! Please go out and support this cart, I promise it is well deserving!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Chaco Canyon Review - Seattle

Hello all!

Sorry its been awhile! I have a ton to blog about and not nearly enough time! Like seriously, I have a list in my iPhone of posts I need to write. I need to figure out how to make blogging my full time job.

This last weekend I spent a night in Seattle, dropping Joe off for his first Seattle to Portland ride! Every year, 10 thousand cyclists ride 204 miles from Seattle to Portland (if you couldn't guess), and this year I'm proud to say that my boyfriend was one of them! I honestly couldn't be more impressed. I've ridden 20 miles with him before, and that was just about all I could handle.

Here is Joe at 4:30 a.m., getting ready to embark on the STP journey:


And here he is crossing the finish line, 14 hours later. Unreal right?



As is normal for any kind of trip, I had to find somewhere I could eat! We went up Friday night so he could leave early Saturday morning, so dinner had to be pre-planed. I figured this wouldn't be too difficult in a big city like Seattle, but it was also important to us to find somewhere close to our hotel, since he wanted to be in bed early for the big race and Seattle traffic is nothing short of unpredictable. 

Thanks to my iPhone and Yelp, I was able to find a place super close to us (we went to the West Seattle location, but there is also one near University of Washington) called Chaco Canyon. Reading the menu online got me really excited...it reminded me a lot of one of my go to spots, Proper Eats.

The West Seattle location is in a quaint little neighborhood, right off one of the more main roads (I never have any idea where I am when in Seattle...its so confusing to me). It's got a very organic feel to it, lots of wood decor and a sustainable bus-your-own-tables mentality. You order at the counter, where you can also pick up their house-made granola, pumpkin seeds and a wide assortment of baked goods and desserts. Your order is then brought out to you. While you wait, you can check out a wide assortment of business cards, flyers, etc. pertaining to like-minded businesses and events. (I always love checking those out, they have one at Proper Eats too).

As usual, I had to order juice to start my meal. Places with juice bars score huge points with me these days. I ordered the Green Goddess, which according to Joe, tasted like a garden, and according to me was fresh and delicious! Joe got an apple, carrot concoction that I believe was called the Swamp Monster, and that was delicious as well, much sweeter than mine and definitely not green.

Choosing what to have for dinner was way difficult, a) because I have an unreal amount of limitations on my anti-parasite diet (no coconut...WTF?) and b) because everything looked amazing. Their menu clearly indicates what is gluten free, raw, and soy free, which I love. They have a whole list of specials that change every month, and reading through all of them still makes my mouth water...Raw Falafels anyone (contained tomato though, sad day). I ended up settling on the Raw Ginger Sesame Bowl, which was basically a ginger sesame dressing over a mix of kelp noodles and shredded zucchini, topped with carrots and their tamari pumpkin seeds on a bed of spinach. It actually reminded me a lot of the salads I eat at home, only made by professionals :). And you know I love my kelp noodles! I was so excited to actually see them on a menu! As I'm sure you could guess, it was freaking amazing...


I also got tempeh added to the top...Joe and I have decided we are tempeh connesseurs, so we try it everywhere we go. Not my favorite tempeh, but the rest of it was so good I could care less! And honestly, you can never go too wrong with tempeh in my book, I'm the girl who eats it right out of the package.

Joe ordered the Thai Peanut Bowl, which I obviously had to taste...it was pretty dang good too. Very peanut-y if you're into that. It was also super creamy for not having dairy, which is always a plus!

I think what impressed me most about this place was the service. The lady who helped me was one of the best restaurant employees I've ever encountered. I'm usually pretty high maintenance, but due to this stupid anti-parasite diet, I'm worse than ever. I've gotten to the point where I don't even get upset when someone seems annoyed with me, I'd be annoyed with me too, so I just apologize until my face falls off. But this lady was amazing. Not only was she patient, she went out of her way to help me decide what to get. They have a handy-dandy guide of all the ingredients in every item on the menu, which was awesome and made everything a whole lot easier. She even let me take it and look through it, which helped me out tremendously. After dinner, we had a hankering for something sweet, so even though I couldn't have any of their desserts (and trust me, she checked the ingredients on every single one), she made me an iced hemp milk with agave and chai spice that totally satisfied my sweet craving. Unreal service, I would go back in a heartbeat. I did actually, to get my morning juice for Saturday's breakfast :)

I would highly recommend this place to anyone travelling to/living in Seattle who wants a healthy gluten free, vegan meal. I can't wait to go back post-parasite and try more stuff!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Some thoughts on Hummus (includes recipe for Raw Hummus)

Hello my friends!

Fourth of July weekend is upon us, and I can't tell you how excited I am for some sunshine on my four day weekend. I plan on spending as much time on the boat/at BBQs/camping on government island as possible watching other people get wasted and soberly nursing my stupid parasite problem. At least I will be amused...

To kick off my weekend, this morning I got some cavaties filled! Yayyy!! Haha not...apparently that's what happens when you avoid the denist for two years. Oopsie! Won't be making that mistake again. My appointment was at 8 am and the left side of my face is still completely numb (its noon...). This is what I looked like trying to smile at 9:30...have a good laugh people:




I'm starting to get hungry for lunch, so that better go away real fast.

Moving on...

As the title suggests, this post is entirely dedicated to one of my favorite foods....hummus! The way I eat it, it could honestly be its own food group. It's THAT good. Never tried it before? Don't worry, I won't lead you astray, I'm a bit of a hummus snob so you're only getting the best of the best!

I'm sure you are already aware that I'm a huge King Harvest fan, there is no question they make the best hummus I've ever had. What you don't know is that they have a new flavor, and its easily one of my new favorites! Get this...Seaweed Hummus! So perfect for me right? Now I know that probably sounds hella weird, but honestly, give it a try. It's not fishy or anything, its freaking delicious. Be open minded people! My new thing (and keep in mind that I'm a very strange human being), is spreading seaweed hummus on a sheet of nori with some raw dill sauerkraut (which is baller for digestion). It's amazing, I swear.

My newest hummus-related find is The Hummus Stop. I discovered them at the Vancouver Farmer's Market where they were selling homemade hummus, babaganouj, fresh pita chips and other bomb-looking stuff. While their price is a little too high for my liking (5 freaking bucks for a little container, come on people, I'm a poor blogger), they have the most interesting flavors. I splurged and bought four... Artichoke, Roasted Garlic and Chive, Jalapeno and Cilantro and Avocado and Cilantro. They are all bomb. I still prefer King Harvest as far as texture goes, but the flavors of the Hummus Stop are so different, I can't help but be impressed with their creativity! It definitely inspired me to be a little more creative with my homemade hummus. Last week, I made a traditional hummus recipe with fresh oregano and chives from our CSA share...UNREAL. By the way, if you get a CSA share with tons of herbs you don't know what to do with, throw them in hummus, its almost guaranteed to be good.

So here's my new thing, this is a great way to make your hummus last. I've been using hummus as salad dressing! I love salads, I have one every day for lunch, but most of the time I don't have time in the morning to make a really good dressing from scratch. I tried this one morning and have been doing it ever since! Mix 1-2 tbsp of your favorite hummus with 1-2 tbsp of water and mix until the hummus reaches a salad dressing consistancy. You can add more or less water depending on how thick you like your dressing. Pour it over salad and voila! The best I've made into dressing is the King Harvest Jalapeno hummus. It brings a whole new dimension to my salads!

As much as I love hummus, I'm sad to report that eating too much of it really doesn't make me feel great. I don't know if I'm mildly sensitive to garbanzos or what but every once in a while I need a break. Plus, I try to eat mostly raw foods at breakfast and lunch, so hummus doesn't tend to fit in. If you are in the same boat, never fear! I found a recipe for Raw Hummus that will blow your mind! It's made with a zucchini base (whoever thought zucchini could replace chickpeas?), but pretty much all the other ingredients are the same! I tweaked it a little bit to make use of some of the stuff I bought at my local farmer's market.

Yumm, fresh local zucchini and yellow zucchini :)

Almost done! So freaking good. The recipe is as follows:

Raw Hummus

1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 medium yellow zucchini, chopped (if these aren't in season, use 2 zucchini)
1/2 c. raw tahini (I like Artisana brand, so much better than the roasted stuff!)
1/3 c. lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
dash of olive oil
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. sea salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor and mix until desired constistancy is reached. Any add-ins you might use in a normal hummus recipe should work here. I've tried basil and oregano (delicious!), and I'm sure any herbs, jalapenos, whatever would be bomb as well. It's definitely a little different that your average hummus, but my "normal-eating" boyfriend Joe loved it, so that's always a sign that I succeeded!

So have a happy, hummus-y 4th of July! Have a gluten-free beer for me, since I can't :-/

Thursday, June 23, 2011

GF/Vegan Entertaining on a Budget

Ahh I love parties! I really do. I'm such a social butterfly; I just love catching up with good friends, cocktail in one hand, some delicious appetizer in the other (or sometimes another cocktail, let's be real). However, I'm hardly ever the one throwing the party. There are a few reasons for that: a) how mortifying would it be if no one showed up, b) how mortifying would it be if people showed up and all the food sucked and c) I absolutely hate cleaning up my apartment and thats basically a requirement of a good hostess.

BUT, I decided to overcome my fear of party failure and throw a little get together for my girlfriends last night. Put out the official facebook invite and everything. Unfortunately, not a lot of people can commit to a random Wednesday night, but there were 8 of my good friends there so I can't really complain! Any more than that and the whole hostess things gets a bit overwhelming. There's only so much catching up you can do when you want to get a piece of everybody right?

I don't think it occured to me until a week or so before this get together that I would need food and booze in order to pull this ladies night off. Um, hello anxiety! How the hell do I make party food that other people will get excited about that I can also eat without inducing a massive body meltdown? Bahhh I've never done this before! As comfortable as I am sharing my recipes with you, its a whole nother story when you have to watch people try your stuff....is that a real smile and nod or are they covering up the fact that they are choking with disgust? Yikers!

My other issue, of course, is cashola. How do I pull off a classy-ish party with no money in the bank?? I knew I was going to have to get real creative to make this work for both me and my guests.

So, I figured, you can't go wrong with the classics. Make things that people expect at a party, then don't tell them till after that it has been modified. Sheer effing brilliance. My menu? Mexican layer dip, spinach artichoke dip, stuffed peppers and chocolate covered strawberries, all vegan, gluten, corn and sugar free of course! Oh, and a little Andre Peach Passion champagne with frozen berries...cheap and tasty (just don't drink too much unless you love being hungover)!

I was so relieved how everything turned out! So cute right?

I think the favorite was the Spinach Artichoke Dip, people were shocked that it was vegan. I think that was definitely my proudest accomplishment. I did bite the bullet and buy corn chips (they are so cheap and everyone else can eat them!), but at least I bought the organic ones with only 3 ingredients! And I of course, used Beanitos (definitely polished off a whole bag, oops!).


I wasn't as excited about the Stuffed Peppers, mainly because I forgot an ingredient in the filling and was expecting them to be more flavorful, but everyone else loved them! I guess we are usually our own worst critics.


And the Chocolate Covered Strawberries of course! I used unsweetened bakers chocolate that I already had, but you can use any dairy free sugar free chocolate you can find (they are usually spendy though, unfortunately). I topped a few of them with Suzanne's Ricemellow Creme instead of whipped cream, but they are definitely just as good without! Well, my friend Renee thought so anyway....


I did have some leftovers, I planned for like 10-12 people and got 8, so that's to be expected. I know we were all super stuffed afterwords (mainly from gorging on Spinach Artichoke Dip), so thats always a good thing! Including booze, the whole thing cost me around $60, but you know me, I buy organic and stuff too so that factors in. Really, you just can't have a good party with special diet food without spending a little cash, but I definitely think it was worth it!

So without any futher ado...here are the recipes! Enjoy kidlets!

Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip

1 bag frozen spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry (10 oz)
1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained (13.75 oz)
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 package firm silken tofu (12 oz)
1/2 c. daiya (I used pepperjack) or nutritional yeast
3 garlic cloves
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute onion, spinach and artichoke in coconut oil until onion is soft. Meanwhile, blend tofu, cheese or nutritional yeast, garlic, vinegar and seasonings in a high powered blender until smooth. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and add extra spices or cheese if needed. Smooth into a baking dish and cook 15-20 minutes (took about 17 for me) or until golden brown on the top. Serve with corn chips or Beanitos!

Stuffed Peppers

1/2 cup quinoa
1 c. vegetable broth (to cook quinoa in...this is where I made my mistake, dont forget this step!)
1 package (12 oz) firm tofu
3 tbsp. minced white onion
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
dash of stevia powder (1 tbsp. agave also works)
1 tbsp. freshly grated orange zest
1 tbsp. minced fresh oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
20-ish mini sweet peppers (they are the same size as hot peppers but they taste like bell peppers, please dont accidentally buy habeneros or jalapenos!)

Cook quinoa according to package, subbing the veggie broth for the water. In a large bowl, crumble tofu and add the onion, vinegar, agave or stevia, orange zest and oregano. Stir in quinoa and season with salt and pepper. Slice the stems off the peppers and remove seeds. Fill each pepper with quinoa mixture. I made this the night before and served them chilled...delicious!

5-layer Mexican Dip

1 can vegetarian refried beans
1/2 pkg. pepperjack Daiya cheese
1/2 pkg. King Harvest Jalapeno Hummus (or hummus of your choice)
1 c. tomatillo salsa
1 1/2 c. vegan sour cream (I prefer Wayfare to Tofutti)

Spread beans in a microwave safe baking dish and top with cheese. Mircrowave about 2 minutes until cheese starts to melt. Spread hummus over top with a spatula, then do the same with the salsa and top with  sour cream. You can also add a layer of olives or guacamole!

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

1 bar chocolate
However many strawberries you want

Make sure strawberries are dry. Microwave chocolate until it becomes soft, about a minute and a half. Dip each strawberry in chocolate, making sure to coat all sides and place on a cookie sheet. They can also be dipped in coconut, sprinkles or nuts, or topped with whipped cream of some sort. Refridgerate until chocolate hardens, about an hour.

I definitely want to experiment with more party recipes in the future, but here are a few to get you party people started! And make sure to have a drink for me :) Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mmmm Lebanese... Review of Nicholas Restaurant

It's no secret I looooove my Greek food, in addition to my hummus obsession (it's gotten unhealthy....) and my addiction to gluten and corn free falafel (aka non-Americanized falafel). But as I've done more research into the Portland vegan restaurant scene, I've noticed Lebanese places popping up quite a bit. You know me, I always want to try new ethnic foods, especially ones that have awesome vegan and gluten free options. One place, Nicholas Restaurant, stuck out to me (after reading positive reviews on Yelp and the Food Fight PDX Guide), so I decided to make a point to try it!

Luckily, my opportunity to tantalize my taste buds came pretty fast. Even though we went to Cabo and had family dinner for Joe's birthday, we just can't seem to stop celebrating (shit I want to turn 28 if it means my birthday is a week long!). Our friends Marcus and Tabitha wanted to do a birthday dinner with us, and because of all my limitations, they suggested I pick a place. Yay! I pick Lebanese food! Everyone was down for it so we checked it out last night and DAMN I was impressed!!

The restaurant actually has 3 locations in the Portland Metro area, one on SE Stark, one on NE Broadway and one in Gresham. The Stark one got the best reviews on Yelp so we chose that one. Quaint little place, I've probably driven by it hundreds of times and never realized it was there. It wasn't so inconspicuous last night though, their were people dining on the sidewalk due to the 70 degree weather. The place was packed, luckily a table opened up right as we got there because there's really nowhere to wait.

First thing, they brought out this giant piece of housemade pita bread with an herby dip thing. I was disappointed that I couldn't partake in the devouring of that little guy...it smelled freaking delicious. But my mood was immediately lifted upon realizing that the falafel was not only gluten free but corn free as well. Hell yeah!! The waitress knew the answers to all my questions without even having to consult the kitchen. I'm always a sucker for good service! Plus, the menu was dotted with "V"'s to indicate which items were vegan.

Being such a lover of new ethnic food, there was no WAY I was going to be able to pick just one thing (especially when there are so many things on the menu I can have), so I ordered the Vegan Mezza platter: Falafel, tahini, tabouli, hummus, mjadra (a lentil/rice dish) and a garbanzo plate. I subbed an extra falafel for the tabouli, since tabouli is traditionally made from bulgur wheat, def not gluten free.

Um....YUM!! Everything was so tasty, seasoned to perfection, an explosion of chickpea-flavored goodness in my mouth. The falafel is among the best I've tasted, and dipping it in hummus and tahini was a killer combo. The rice lentil dish was plain-looking, but was definitely delicious, as was the garbanzo plate. Every flavor complimented the others perfectly and I was seriously in hog heaven. The only thing for me is I unfortunately don't tolerate an overabundance of chickpeas well and I honestly eat mostly raw at home so it was definitely a heavy meal. But hey, what would life be if we didn't treat ourselves every once in awhile? We definitely needed to take a walk afterwords, but when you have the gorgeous Eastbank Esplanade to stroll along, you can't really complain!



I would DEFINITELY visit this place again. Not even a question. And I hope it's soon cause I know I gotta get that falafel fix on a semi-regular basis....oooh I need to learn how to make raw falafel, anyone know of a recipe?

Check this place out, and until next time, Live Free!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Being a "Vitortarian" in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

My body has been back from vacation now for 4 days, but my mind is just now catching up, hence the delayed post! We were only gone 4 nights but man, we fit in a lot of craziness in a short time. It's hard to come back from that, and to rainy Vancouver no less...

Cabo was an absolute blast. It's not exactly my first rodeo in CSL, but it's definitely the first time I've been there since I've been on my current diet. I was a little worried, because the first thing I found when I searched "vegan" and "Cabo San Lucas" on Google was a thread of people posting about how hard it is to eat vegan in Cabo. Greeeat...

Let's be real, it is hard. From the language barrier to the fact that meat, corn and dairy are staples in the Mexican culture, it's hard to get a good Vitortarian meal in those parts. And seeing as I already have one parasite, I had to be super careful with anything fresh in order to avoid picking up another one.

So, if you are travelling to Cabo (and many of these rules apply to anywhere in Mexico), here's some advice:

1. Guacamole and Fajita Vegetables are a girl's best friends
I ate fajita vegetables and guac like it was my job. I dabbled in the rice and bean arena, but let's be real, Mexican beans arent always vegan and sometimes arent even gluten free, so I definitely wouldn't rely on them. All the rice i had was white rice, which I'll eat if there isn't any other option, but I don't like to OD on. So anytime we ate Mexican food, I ordered fajitas with no meat, no tortillas, no sour cream and no cheese (people thought I was bonkers) and a side of guac. However, I did get pretty dang sick of sauteed peppers and onions, which brings me to my next piece of advice:

2. Bring your own food
I kid you not, in preparation for this trip I packed a whole carryon just for food from home. Unfortunately you can't bring produce into the country (I still did by hiding it in my suitcase but I'd definitely advise against that), so I ate a lot of packaged food which isnt the norm for me but it sure beats being hungry! Rice tortillas and Beanitos Bean Chips were musts, I could bring them along to restaurants to dip in guacamole or pair with fajita veggies. I also packed a butt load of sea snax, those little roasted seaweed things I love so dearly. Also, a few packets of Vega Whole Food Optimizer powder in Chai Vanilla for breakfast (they pack a ton of nutrition into a little packet, and they taste great!), and some Larabars. Again, not exactly ideal food for day to day life, but a whole heck of a lot better than eating flesh and mucus (meat and dairy).

3. Visit the Monkey Business bar
I can't begin to tell you how many sugary effing drinks I had in Cabo. If its not beer or watered down tequila, you can bet there's probably more sugar than alcohol in your drink. I had more sugar in those 5 days than I have in the last 3 years. And my body hated me for it, no doubt about that. Luckily, I had one saving grace when it came to boozing. Joe and I were wandering the town one morning and stumbled across a tequila specialty shop. The man in the shop told us we could sample any tequila at the bar next door. Enter Monkey Business. It's a little outdoor bar, with a few barstools and wood pillars that have been tagged with names, etc. in sharpie all the way around (Joe and I definitely left our mark). The bartende informed us that they'd been voted the best margaritas in Cabo, so naturally we had to try one! Who says 11 am is to early to start drinking? So he gets to work on our drinks and I can already tell that the voters were right...instead of your typical pre-prepared margarita mix and Jose Cuervo, these margs were made with fresh squeezed (we literally watched him do it) oranges and limes, top shelf tequila, and a little soda water.

Everything fresh, no added sugar, definitely up my alley. And WOW they were good, not only was it was the best marg in Cabo, it was the best dang drink I've ever had! We also had mojitos...same deal. In fact, a guy showed up while we were there to deliver fresh mint, which the bartender then muddled to perfection and mixed with soda water, fresh lime juice, and sugar (a mojito staple, I can't be perfect all the time!)

Yummmmmm....We were happy campers

Superstar clientele (besides yours truly...hahaha) include Lil Wayne and Lil John (who were there last year), which basically just made the place that much cooler! YEEAHH (Lil John voice).

4. Pack Your Supplements!
Digestive enzymes and probiotics are an absolute must! I seriously think my enzymes saved my butt a few times when I got accidentally contaminated. For some of the stuff I ate I should have felt a lot worse than I actually did! I took enzymes with lunch and dinner and probiotics twice a day, just like I do at home. Seriously, don't leave home without those babies.

5. Visit our buddy Tim at Salvatore's
One of Joe's distant relatives owns a little out-of-the-way Italian joint in the city. Took us forever to find it, it's pretty hidden and not well advertised but one of the most popular word-of-mouth places in Cabo. They've seen all sorts of celebrities, and been written up as a top ten attraction on Trip Advisor, yet you wouldn't know about it if you didn't hear from a loyal customer. The guy's name is Tim (he owns it and his sons Matt and Sam work there as well), and he took great care of us. Great wine, amazing food, and while the menu wasn't exactly Sarah-friendly, they were more than willing to accomadate. The cook made me a giant plate of artichoke hearts, olives, mushrooms, peppers and a bunch of other veggies, all seasoned to perfection and complimented with a delicious Chianti. I was in absolute heaven. Just watch out for the Sangria, its really dang sweet and it'll get ya...
(Joe, post-sangria/wine)

6. RELAX!!
I really can't stress this enough. So they put a little lard in your beans, or a little tomato in your guac. Unless you are severly allergic, don't freak out about it. Being relaxed will help you feel better anyways, take it from me, anxiety over food only makes all your symptoms worse. Just enjoy yourself you're in freaking MEXICO! Deal with it when you get home if you have to. It's not life or death people.

And don't be afraid to party like a rockstar!

Woo! Viva La Mexico! Enjoy your travels :)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Eating Proper at Proper Eats

YAY! I think I have a new favorite restaurant! Well, to add to my always-growing list of favorite restaurants.

Last night Joe and I went to happy hour at Radio Room and had drinks with some of his work friends. Actually, Joe had drinks, I, thanks to my anti-parasite diet, downed an entire wine bottle full of water. Mmmm... I really had no interest in getting food at Radio Room; while they do indicate their menu items that are vegan and gluten free, there are only 2 that are both and one has tomato...I wasn't about to have edamame as a meal.

So I decided it was time to try a new place. Not that I don't love frequenting Vege Thai and Blossoming Lotus (and I do...I just had Vege Thai the other night), but there are SO MANY vegan places in Portland that I need to discover! I ended up deciding on Proper Eats Cafe in North Portland....an area of town that I was previously unfamiliar with....

BEST DECISION EVER!

Oh my stars this place is so cool! They use all organic and vegan ingredients in their stuff, indicate items on the menu that are gluten free, AND they don't add cane sugar to anything!! There were actually multiple items on the menu that I could eat...and as I'm sure you know I don't usually get much of a choice at most places. Even Blossoming Lotus is tricky thanks to my tomato and corn allergies.

We started with drinks, house-made Kombucha (=LOVE) for me and cabernet for Joe...definitely best kombucha I've ever had. A lot of the store-bought stuff is a little too tangy, this had the perfect balance of bite and flavor. Just goes to show that anything homemade is always better!

The salad menu was unreal...I'm such a dang salad fiend lately there was no way I was leaving without trying at least one. Tough choice too because they ALL sounded amazing! I ended up going with the sea salad, which was raw sauerkraut, carrots, beets, avocado, cucumber, and kalamata olives on a bed of mixed greens with a cashew-nori dressing that seriously tasted exactly like sushi. It was even better than in sounded! Joe got a caesar salad (vegan of course!) that had their house-made tempeh on it and the usual caesar staples. It was a little fishy, despite the lack of real fish in the dressing, but according to Joe (who is a carnivore by the way), the tempeh made it all worth it.

The main course menu consists of sandwiches and wraps (bowls for us gluten free folk), and entrees with an international flare. Tacos, masala (indian dish), asian noodles, shepherd's pie, you name it. Raw fajitas anyone? I was immediately drawn to the Pesto and Veggie Wrap/Bowl... steamed veggies, red and yellow quinoa, and house-made tempeh (my stomach is growling just thinking about it), topped with avocado and arugula-hazelnut pesto (which they totally sell in-store, heck YES!). And once again, it was even better than it sounded. Soooo much flavor and from all veggies and grains! It's amazing how delicous simplicity can be. Joe ordered the "NoPo" Burrito, which included steamed veggies, salsa, tofu, beans and rice, topped with guac and corn-pumpkin seed relish. He made a point to tell me to share his review on the blog... he LOVED it. Which I love...I'm just one step closer to convincing him to eat that way all the time :). I tried a little bite and I was impressed as well...it honestly tasted like a more flavorful version of my once-upon-a-time order at Taco Del Mar. It is, of course, about 10 steps up from good ole TDM however, you just can't beat fresh, organic ingredients.

I never get dessert, nor do I really crave it anymore, but I HAD to get some here. I mean, they had like 7 or 8 different variations of vegan, sugar free chocolate: bars, truffles, fudge, hemp-butter cups...hello! It's like my dream! I had a hell of a time picking one out, but I ended up going with the hempseed butter cups. It's just been too long since I've had a reese's. Definitely a good choice for me, but milk-chocolate lovers beware, it is definitely dark chocolate to the core. Unfortunately, that party-in-my-mouth lasted only moments, I smashed those real fast. Thank God for vegan chocolate.

Aside from freaking delicious food, Proper Eats also offers retail items, including organic (and mostly local!) produce, cooking sauces (like my Thai and True curry pastes!), tofu, and other convenience items (natural toothpaste and local hand-made soaps!). They even sell a lot of their house-made sauces, plus that amazing raw tempeh! Do you know how hard it is to find raw tempeh? Freaking impossible now that everything and it's mom is pasteurized. My favorite part was this shelf of all sorts of flyers and business cards for health and vegan-related businesses and events. I spent forever looking at everything! I sneakily left behind a few of my business cards while Joe stood guard (not sure what their policy is on that).

I don't think its even a question that I'm going to become a regular at this place. How I haven't heard about it until now blows my mind. I'd honestly recommend this to anyone who likes food, vegan or not. There's totally something for everyone and everything tastes amazing! What's not to love?

Live free my friends,
Sarah

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kelp Noodles...

...are my latest obsession.

If you're a health freak like me, you know how beneficial adding sea vegetables to your diet is. If you aren't, get this: sea veggies like kelp, nori, wakame, and arame are high in iodine (which can also come from salt but beware: most iodized salt has dextrose, a corn sweetener, added in), iron and vitamin C, and are highly alkalizing in the body. Adding sea veggies to your dishes also reduces the need for excess salt, which is pretty awful for you if you weren't aware!

I've been a big fan of nori (the seaweed used in sushi) for awhile now; I mean shoot, I literally eat it in sheets right out of the bag. My boyfriend called me out on it yesterday ("I don't think normal people eat it like that..." to which I respond "when have I ever been considered normal?"), and my friend Jennifer calls it my sloth food. But my world has been shifted with the addition of another sea vegetable, kelp, in the form of noodles!

The noodles, made by Sea Tangle Noodle Company are made of kelp and sodium alginate (which is extracted from brown seaweed) and water. I've found them at multiple Portland Whole Foods as well as Chuck's Produce here in Vancouver (Vancouver Whole Foods doesn't appear to carry them yet). They are really jiggly and kind of translucent; I'd compare them to like a cooked rice noodle (those ones you find in salad rolls and stuff). But they are so much more nutritious than rice noodles with much fewer calories! I haven't experimented much with cooking them (they are recommended in stir fries and such), but hot damn are they good in salad!



Here's my favorite recipe so far:

Kelp Noodle Salad with Almond Butter/Miso Dressing

1/3 pkg kelp noodles
2 c. fresh spinach, or 1 c spinach and 1 c. romaine lettuce
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
handful of snap peas, chopped

Dressing:

1 tbsp. Almond Butter
1 tsp. unpasteurized brown rice miso paste
1/2 tsp. maple syrup

Whisk dressing ingredients together, adding water until it reaches a salad dressing consistency. Toss veggies and kelp noodles in dressing and enjoy!

Serves 1.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dairy Free Corn Free Nachos

I've gotten to a point that I eat so well most of the time that it is rare for me to try to recreate one of the less healthy dishes I used to love back in the pre-allergy, pre-vegan days. However, even I believe that everyone should be able to treat themselves once in awhile, and it's an added bonus if you can make that dish a little healthier.

I don't find that I crave any of that old stuff anymore (I mean really, I consider hummus junk food these days), but when I discovered Beanitos corn-free tortilla chips, I couldn't help but wonder how well they'd work in nachos. I used to LOVE nachos, in fact, whenever I go off my diet on vacation or whatever (which I don't recommend by the way but hey, it happens!), I search high and low to find the best nachos before anything else. I remember even having an eye out for a Mexican restaurant the entire 6 weeks I was in Greece (such a thing, I found, does not exist haha).

Sooo when I mentioned the possibility of nachos to my also-Beanitos-addicted boyfriend Joe, who I cook with quite a bit, he was all about it. Unfortunately, I'm not really supposed to be eating beans and rice and stuff as a part of my anti-parasite diet, so it kinda had to be a last hurrah.

This recipe serves roughly two people, Joe and I smashed them in minutes, but we were definitely full after (perfect time for a walk on the waterfront!). Feel free to get creative with toppings, these are the ingredients we used but fresh pico de gallo, refried beans, sauteed bell peppers, and Papa G's Taco Tofu would all be delicious as well!

Diary-Free Corn-Free Nachos

1 bag Beanitos black or pinto bean chips
1 pkg. Daiya chedder cheese shreds (or add/replace with pepper jack to give it an extra kick)
1/2 can black beans
1/4 c. chopped onion
1-2 jalapeno peppers, diced
1/2 can sliced black olives

Heat oven on the "Broil" setting. Place chips on a lipped baking sheet (so the toppings don't slide off in transit to the oven), and top with beans, onions, jalapenos and olives. Sprinkle cheese over the top. Broil with oven door open until cheese is melted, checking often, approximately 3-5 minutes depending on your oven. Serve with fresh guacamole, pico de gallo, and Wayfare dairy free sour cream!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tofu Wraps

So I got a bit of interesting news from my naturopath doctor this last week....Apparently my inability to feel better even when I eat well is being caused by a parasite and having too much H. Pylori bacteria in my body. Kinda crazy, but I'm so relieved to have finally figured out what was wrong with me! I'm on a bunch of supplements and it should clear up in a couple months I guess. Thank goodness for that.

The other thing we discovered is that I may be producing too much cortisol due to stress which has caused me to gain a little bit of weight. I think a lot of the stress stemmed from feeling crappy all the time and not knowing why, but I've always been a little bit high strung/anxiety prone so I'm sure that doesn't help either. As of now, my doctor has me on a blood sugar control diet, which basically means I need to get as much protein at each meal as possible. My veggies and beans are chock full of protein but I may not have been eating enough of them to get the proper amount.

I made this delicious wrap last night that features tofu and hummus as the main protein sources. My taste buds were seriously in love so I obviously had to share it with you!

Tofu Wraps

1 gluten-free tortilla of your choice (I like Food for Life brown rice wraps, make sure you microwave them for about 30 seconds though!)
1/2 c. seasoned tofu, this can be from your own recipe, I prefer either Whole Foods sesame tofu from the deli section or Papa G's sesame tofu
2 tbsp. King Harvest hummus
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 c. spinach
1/4 avocado

After heating up the tortilla, spread the hummus in the middle and start piling on the other ingredients. Wrap up like a burrito and eat! Yummmm!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Top 10 products I'm obsessed with at the moment

I'm so lucky that I work in a gluten free store and have a role in the ordering of new products because I'm always finding new delicious stuff I can actually have. I have cut back on my consumption of even allergy-friendly processed food, but I have to let myself indulge every once in a while! Here's what I'm loving right now:

1. Earth Cafe Vegan Cheesecake
I looooove these. And it's just icing on the (cheese)-cake that they are sweetened with agave nectar instead of sugar. It has everything I could possibly want in a dessert. They remind me of their more expensive but equally delicious counterpart at Blossoming Lotus in Portland, but they are more readily available now that I can buy them at Lingonberries! It's got all the flavor and decadence of normal cheesecake, without the dairy and sugar overload that you get afterwords. Hey, I'll take feel-good dessert any day of the week!

2. Beanitos Black Bean Chips

Finally, a corn-free tortilla chip! I honestly thought I was never going to eat tortilla chips again. I'm so glad I was wrong! And honestly, these are better than your average corn chip. Not only do they taste amazing, they have legit protein and fiber in every serving. All in all, they are still chips, but as chips go they are one of the healthiest. However, be warned, it will be very hard to resist eating the whole bag. Side note: these taste amazing paired with #3 on this list...

3. King Harvest Jalapeno Hummus
Boo, I couldn't figure out how to rotate this picture. I'm computer illiterate. Anyway, this stuff is to die for. I'm not kidding. I don't know anyone who's tried it that isn't completely addicted. My favorite, obviously, is the Jalapeno. Its got the perfect flavor of jalapeno without being to spicy for those with senstive taste buds. I am not one of those people, I've actually been known to add my own hot sauce... King Harvest is a local company out of Portland and they deliver their products fresh, plus there are like 12 flavors to choose from so there truly is something for everybody. I'm also super into the lemo hummus cause they don't add any oil and I've been trying to stay away from oil lately.

4. Sea Snax Toasted Onion
I know you probably think I'm weird for eating seaweed and liking it, but I can almost guarentee that you'd like it if you tried it. Especially because this isn't just plain old seaweed, it's roasted in olive oil and sprinkled with dehydrated onion. And, one little package is a mere 16 calories, yet somehow it's quite the appetite supressant. Its the perfect snack to tie you over at work or if you have to postpone a meal for any reason. They also come in a plain flavor that's got olive oil and a little salt. Yummmm....

5. Jungle Treats Maple Coconut Kale Krisps
Kale has become one of my best friends since I went vegan. I still have yet to perfect the perfect at home kale chip recipe, but in the meantime, these make an excellent substitute. They also come in a Cheezy and a Creamy Garlic flavor, but the Maple Coconut is hands down my favorite. Whoever decided that kale would taste good sweet was a freaking genius. I couldn't be more thrilled with these. Unfortunately, they are kind of hard to find, but you can purchase them directly from their website.

6. Amande Almond Milk Yogurt

As I'm sure you are aware, its very difficult to find vegan yogurt that is also sugar free and, in this case, soy free. Leave to me to discover what seems like the only one that exists. It's definitely a thicker yogurt, and it has the distinctive taste of almond milk (i guess that probably goes without saying). My favorite flavor is peach but it also comes in cherry, blueberry, strawberry and coconut. Now if they'd only make a vanilla I'd be a happy camper!

7. Taste Nirvana Coco Aloe Water













Although I hate drinking my calories (unless they're the liquid calories that raise my BAC), I do occassionally break that rule for one of these guys. One bottle of this aloe-chunk-infused coconut water packs all sorts of electrolytes, including magnesium and more potassium than a banana. The little buggers are perfect post-workout, and are even better for nursing hangovers. Its like reaching for a Gatorade, only its all natural and doesn't have added sugar. The plain coconut water by the same company is awesome for while you are working out, especially hot yoga. (The aloe one doesnt really work thanks to the pulp). My boyfriend comes into the store and buys cases of them, and all the employees are addicted as well.

8. The Better Bean Company Refried Beans









Since becoming vegan I'm a freaking bean fanatic. Love em. They are so good for you and so tasty! And yet, someone found a way to make them even yummier. Also a local company, Better Bean makes three different types of refried beans including red, black and cuban-style black. They are ALL good. I'm obsessed. I make recipes with them but most of the time I can't resist eating them right out of the container. Plus, I met the guy who I believe started the company last summer at a demo at New Season's market and he's suuuch a nice guy. I love knowing that my food comes from good people, it makes me feel secure that I'm not being poisoned by preservatives and other crap. I can't help but believe that food made by good hearted people make food nourishes not only the body but the soul. So buy some.

9. Organ Falafel Mix


















I fell in love with falafel on my trip to Hawaii last fall...I know, kinda random place to be introduced to falafel. There was this little mom and pop falafel stand outside one of the clubs we went to a lot and we ate there drunk almost every night. I'm sure it wasn't gluten free or anything, but I wasn't about to live without it. Luckily, Orgran makes a gluten free falafel mix that is also corn and potato free. All it is is chickpea flour and spices, and all you have to do is add water to the mix and bake or fry them in little balls. The best way to eat them is in a wrap with hummus, cucumbers, red peppers, and sprouts, but they are also delicious eaten plain or dipped in hummus (King Harvest anyone?)

10. Lucini Cinque e' Cinque Chickpea Frittata Mix













Another delicious chickpea flour concoction...this one is a little harder to explain. It's a bit like fritatta but its bean based instead of egg based. Just add oil and water and you can make it into a thick frittata or into thinner chickpea flatbreads that taste great with basil, olives, and anything else with an italian flair. I can't tell you enough how bomb this stuff is, you'll just have to try it for yourself! The best part is a serving contains 9 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber, and an extremely short ingredient list that is vegan and gluten free!

So my friends, you have a lot of products to get out there and try. Happy eating! And if anyone has found a completely tomato, sugar and dairy free pasta/pizza sauce, PLEASE let me know! I'm making pizza tonight and sometimes I get sick of making my own.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

All Things Thai

Lately I've been absolutely obsessed with Thai food. I've been eating curry multiple times a week, both homemade and out at restaurants. I told my boyfriend the other day that I could eat Thai food every day and not get sick of it, and so far that has held true. If you are a Thai fan like I am, then get excited. I've got restaurants, products AND a recipe, all in one post!

If you are a regular reader, you know that I love Ginger Pop, a Thai restaurant that has been nothing but accommodating to my needs (not to mention that the food is out of this world). But I'm always trying new places, and I think I may have found a place that tops the ol' GP. Enter Siam Society. Located on Alberta, this restaurant has everything I want in a dining establishment. Think vegan, vegetarian, AND gluten free menus, a cocktail list that I promise will blow your mind (although more than two of those and you won't remember dinner), and an extremely friendly and knowledgeable wait staff that will make you feel right at home, even if you are the pickiest customer EVER.

I remember a while back my parents mentioned they ate at Siam Society...They said it was good, but they didn't mention it was Thai food. Basically, they've been holding out on me. Thankfully, Groupon seemed to have my best interests in mind when it offered a deal for the restaurant. After using one, Joe and I ended up buying three more, cause we know we'll be going back. So let me paint the picture for you. The restaurant was classy without being stuffy, and hey, it's Alberta street, so no one is going to be dressed to the nines anyway. Our waitress was super goofy and amicable, I liked her right away. She brought out both the vegan and gluten free menus, and when I asked if certain dishes could be made both vegan and gluten free she didn't even hesitate when telling me yes. She also knew off the top of her head that the curries don't have sugar in them, and offered to swap the potatoes in my yellow curry out for kombocha squash , which was way better. Joe had the Pad Kee Mow and loved it, he even mentioned it might be the best he's tried yet. As for my food, well, I ate all of it. And had two Hibiscus Mojitos. Moderation be damned.

It doesn't stop there...another place I'm growing to love is Vege Thai, a completely vegetarian thai restaurant that makes all its dishes without fish or oyster sauce, and has a bunch of different faux meats to add to your meal. You can view my whole review here.

Now if I ate out as often as I had thai food cravings, I'd be 300 pounds. I knew I was going to have to teach myself to make curry at home. And while you just can't replicate that perfect restaurant curry without being a chef, Thai, or both, I think I do a pretty decent job. Although I do have the help of a pretty awesome product: Thai and True curry pastes. Thai and True is a local company that makes vegan, non-GMO and gluten free curry pastes, as well as sarachee and peanut sauce. And they are so easy to use. Throw a tablespoon into a saucepan with about a cup of coconut milk, heat until blended, and voila, you have a blank canvas to create curry masterpieces of your own! My favorite concoction is below.

Easy Curry

Serves 2

1 c. brown or black rice
1 tbsp. Thai and True red curry paste
1 c. coconut milk
1/2 tsp. Thai and True hot chili oil
1/2 block of tofu, cubed
1/2 large onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 c. mushrooms
1 bunch kale, chopped.

Prepare rice according to directions. Heat curry paste in large saucepan with coconut milk over medium heat until blended. Add onions and peppers and cook until soft, or 3-5 minutes. Add remaining vegetables and cook about 5 more minutes or until ideal tenderness has been reached. Add chili oil and mix well. Serve over rice.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An Allergy Friendly Easter (and raw frosting recipe!)

First and foremost, exciting news! The Vancouver Voice just put out a Clark County dining guide and it features an article about my blog! While the dining guide itself doesn't exactly do a great job of outlining which Vancouver restaurants are gluten free, the article has a few suggestions that Christina, the Lingonberries owner, and I made (obviously Ginger Pop and Chutneys). I'm so flattered and excited to finally have some publicity! Hopefully it just gets better from this point!!

Alright, I get excited about holidays because it means I get to experiment with new twists on old recipes. This year, I didn't help at all in the preparation of dinner since we dined at my grandma's house, but I wasn't showing up at Easter dinner without at least one dessert I could eat!

I ended up making two desserts, in addition to my grandma's famous "bunny cake" that she made with Bob's Red Mill's gluten free vanilla cake mix this year (which I still had to stay away from because of the corn and sugar). The first was a cake mix Lingonberries just started carrying called 1, 2, 3 Gluten Free Devil's Food Cake (shown below). When we got this mix in, I noticed the list of allergens on the front of the box that the mix didn't contain. I turn the box over only to find that it's also free of potato! Amazing! So obviously I had to try it.

The inside of the box has recipes to make the cake either sugar free or egg free, but unfortunately not both. I went for the sugar free version since I get a lot worse symptoms from sugar than eggs these days. The first thing I noticed was that the batter was to DIE for. I could have easily eaten the whole thing right out of the mixing bowl. It's very thick and fudgy, as opposed to most cake mixes that are generally runnier.

The cake came out great for the most part. My only complaint is that it was a bit dry, but we ate it after it had spent a weekend in the fridge so that could have had something to do with it. Flax gel as an egg replacer generally makes baked goods moister, so if I made this again I'd definitely make it egg and sugar free. What was really awesome though was the raw cashew cream frosting I made to go on top...

Vanilla Cashew Frosting:
  • 1 1/2 CUP cashews
  • 1/2 CUP water
  • 2 TBS agave syrup
  • 3 TBS coconut oil
  • 1 TBS vanilla
  • 1/4 TSP salt
Soak cashews in water for 2-4 hours. Drain, rinse and place the nuts onto a kitchen towel to gently roll them dry. Blend all the ingredients in a food processor until creamy and smooth. Place in a container and refrigerate for a few hours to thicken up. Keep the icing and cake separate until serving.

I can't even tell you how excited I was to perfect a dairy and sugar free frosting recipe, I'll be using that for all my sweet treats from now on. The cake and frosting definitely got the family approval too, which is an added bonus. (or else I probably would have eaten the whole cake).

Mad props to 1, 2, 3 Gluten Free for being the first to realize that you don't have to add refined sugar to mixes to make them delicious! I've been waiting forever for a product like this to come out! Now if they'd find a way to make their other mixes potato free... Oh well, little victories :-) Until next time, live free!