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Archive for May, 2008

Hell’s Kitchen Goes Meatless

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

Yeah, right, that’ll be the day! Hardly a single meal on that show is vegetarian, but I got a chuckle a couple episodes ago. Here’s why…

The hotheaded chef Gordon Ramsey had cooked up a little taste-test challenge for the contestants. He asked them to identify the missing ingredient in several main courses. While they guessed the usual herbs and spices, none of them noticed the very bulk of the dish was what was “missing.” In every case, the animal protein, spanning the species from fish to bovine, were all made from soy! :)

Of course, the chef considered this a major failing of their palettes, but I was cheering on the fake meats all the way. Not because I eat them anymore—too processed and high in sodium to be truly healthy. Rather, it suggests even die-hard carnivores have no excuse.

Unfortunately, such was not the conclusion of this guy, who after a week-long attempt at veganism, threw up the white flag and congratulated those of us who live it on a daily basis.  

Clearly, he hasn’t had well-prepared vegan food, despite his claims in the, as you might expect, copious comments such a piece garners. Depending on your mood and experience, it’ll have you laughing, crying, sympathizing, or raging. Worth a read anyway, especially the well-educated responses.

PROBAR “Sweet and Savory” Review

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Yesterday, I had some old college buddies over to watch the UFC and in general to just enjoy the beautiful day (we hit the mid-70′s), good food, and good company. One of these guys I hadn’t seen in years! It was good to catch up. :)

My friend Scott made the black bean burger mix from the Student’s Go Vegan Cookbook. Rather than patties, we simply packed a loaf pan and reheated in the oven. It was enjoyed by all. I had mine wrapped in collard greens and topped with my obligatory homemade salsa.

The plan had been to get all our food prepped and beers in hand before settling down to cheer on our favorite fighters. Alas, we started off with a taste-testing of a new line of vegan food bars, and we were all surprisingly satiated after the experience, so we held off on lunch until mid-program. That’s probably exactly what the folks at PROBAR would like to hear, considering they’re billed as meal replacements.

So, what the heck am I talking about? Well, one of the perks of being a vegan blogger is you occasionally get free samples of books or food accompanied by a request to review, without restriction. Of course, when you’re a CRONie, such reviews are bound to screw up your restriction for a day. These certainly did that! But, we had fun. :)

The products in question: The new “Sweet and Savory” line of meal replacement bars from PROBAR, consisting of five flavors (the ones currently labeled as “NEW!” on their website). The about page claims their bars are organic, raw, and vegan. That may be true of most of the ingredients and/or their first offerings, but with pretzel sticks, roasted corn, etc. in these, they’re clearly not 100% raw.

The testers: Me (vegan), Scott (vegetarian), and the three Standard American Dieters, Chris, Andre, and Ksawery

Our methodology: Seeing as there were five of us total, everyone got to sample a fifth of each bar. We tried to refrain from influencing the others while we filled out the questionnaires. Once the gorging was complete, then we discussed our impressions.

Conclusions: Interestingly enough, the two vegans had the least favorable opinions of the bars, while the SAD-eaters raved! I’d guessed it would be the other way around.

We all thought the packaging was gorgeous, but the consensus ended there. The favorites were the Cocoa Pistachio and Kettle Corn (which tasted like a rice crispy treat to me). The Maple Pecan was right up there too. The Cherry Pretzel was too sweet and the Sesame Goji just <shrug>.

Personally, I found them all too salty. Looking at their other bars, however, the rest are low in sodium, so it’s apparently how they approached the savory part of the line’s name. I might well like the originals.

The texture didn’t vary much across the flavors. I was expecting and hoping for more crunch and chunkiness. Instead they were chewy. Not everyone minded that though, so if you’re a smooth peanut butter person… ;)

Finally, the price seemed a little high to everyone, but the winning flavors could probably command it.

Click below to view the completed questionnaires. Where a number is given it’s on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the best. For the Expectations rows, the choices were Exceeded (Exc), Met, or Fell Short (FS) of flavor expectations based on the packaging. I hope you found this post interesting (it took me far too long to write  ).

>—– The Data —–<

Green Smoothie Central

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

As promised, now that my blog is on a more professional host and I’ve time to come up for air, I’m ready to make my big announcement. I’m really excited about this and put in a lot of sleepless nights and weekends, installing and fighting software, crunching the nutritional numbers, etc..

As you know, there’s a lot of buzz these days about green smoothies. Even Oprah has whipped up a blenderful or two on her show. In fact, she’s currently trying a 21-day vegan challenge! It seems all my dietary modifications started with time-bounded experiments that continued past their fourth-dimensional boxes. Let’s hope it does the same for her and her fans.

My latest personal “challenge” (the quotes because it wasn’t challenging at all) was a couple weeks on a self-designed liquid raw healing protocol. Green smoothies were front and center. While there’s nothing new under the sun, I purposely avoided reading raw food books or searching the web for ideas during this period, in order to at least attempt creating just that.

I expected to emerge with twenty-one new raw blender recipes. Instead, I was having too much fun. With the habit firmly entrenched, I just kept going. Now, a smoothie a day is back in my repertoire. Back? Indeed. Funny thing is, before I went vegan, a yogurt smoothie was my breakfast of choice.

Toss the yogurt and replace with a tossed salad and you’ve got something closer to what I enjoy today. Ultimately, I stopped compiling the recipes at just over 50. After all, I’d told everyone they were on the way. And now, they’re here! Better yet, I set about creating a community forum where members can share their own creations, modifications, and in general just get to know each other.

Check it all out at… :)

Green Smoothie Central

p.s. – My chessblog is live.

On Moving A Blog: Back And Faster Than Ever

Monday, May 19th, 2008

It’s been a little while since I last posted. Well, only two weeks, but that’s longer than I prefer. Anyway, there are a couple good reasons:

  1. I’ve been working hard putting together the results of my raw food liquid diet. It really was a positive experience, and I wanted to do more than just an ebook. More on that in my next post.
  2. I had to prepare for a long-overdue hosting change. The blog’s old home had been experiencing database issues that made for excrutiating load times, and support was impossible to obtain.

But, it’s back now and faster than ever. I moved it to InMotionHosting, where my other sites live. They’ve always had awesome support, no wait times, 24 hours a day. And my old host didn’t even have cPanel and had old versions of PHP, etc..

In case anyone else finds themselves in the unenviable position of needing to transfer their WordPress blog, I wanted to share the process I used.

  1. Backup your blog’s database.
  2. On your new host, create a MySQL database
  3. Import the backup
  4. Create an add-on domain
    (or just a directory, if you’re not moving an entire domain)
  5. Copy all your files to the resulting directory
  6. Modify your config.php to point to the new database
  7. Cancel your old account and get them (or your registrar)
    to point your domain at the destination’s name servers

That last step is when you hold your breathe and wait up to 24 hours for the change to propagate around the internet. I decided to use the downtime to upgrade to the latest version of WordPress. All in all, with some careful planning, things went pretty smoothly. I hope you can tell the difference in speed.

Ultimately, I want to be able to write more about chess too without boring my vegan friends. So, I’m going to split that topic off into its own blog. I’ll make quick mention of it here when I do, and that’ll be that. :)

I hope this post helps my fellow bloggers. Thanks for your patience.

My Cookbook:

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