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Archive for the ‘review’ Category

Vegan Soul Kitchen

Monday, January 7th, 2013

A couple quick book reviews today. One an impromptu rave from my friend Scott and the other one I’ve been intending for a while now.

OK, this first book comes highly recommended by Scott. He sent me an email last night drooling over the new flavors to which he’d been introduced by this book over the weekend.

The source of his excitement? Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry which was serendipitously just sitting there on the shelf of a small bookstore calling out to him following a date with his wife at a local Thai restaurant (where he inadvertently ordered their hottest boost of heat, which the waitstaff apparently writes down as “HELL SPICY” – LOL).

In particular, he ended up making the Creole Hoppin’-Jean recipe two nights in a row, it was that good. Here’s how it looked with black beans substituted for the black-eyed peas (next time):

Scott’s description, which has me looking forward to trying it…

“This thing was freaking good. I’ve been craving something different from my regular (and boring) recipes, and this delivered. I wish I had the ingredients for his ‘quiona-quinoa cornbread’ recipe too, but we’ll get to that next time after grocery shopping. I think that a key step was the homemade Basic Stock found in his book, plain old simple and GOOD.”

He also noted how healthy everything was, with the only processed food seeming to be store-bought seitan (which I’ll have to show him how to make from scratch), and with the salt and oils likely being unnecessary. The herbs and spices were right on and easily found in a well-stocked pantry.

The other book I meant to review before now is Veggies For Carnivores by Lora Krulak. I was sent this one gratis and still haven’t had a chance to make anything from it, so it’s coming with my next time Scott and I get together for a smorgasbord.

That said, I did get to read it and not just skim. Much about her approach to food feels familiar to me in the way she encourages experimentation. As she writes in the intro…

“Everywhere I traveled, I asked a few more questions of the locals and learned a little bit more about the importance of spices, herbs, seasonings, and freshness. Through my trials and experiments, I became a rare mix of culinary adventurer and dietary problem solver. As I sought to decode my own nutritional riddles, I came to understand how to do that for others.”

As you might expect from the title, it’s not all vegan; there are some egg and dairy ingredients, and even an occasional mention of meat, the latter coming via little “carnivore’s choice” notes. However, there’s a lot here to inspire and the angle is unique. It’s like a how-to guide for preparing vegetables in general (versus becoming a vegan).

While the subtitle is “Moving Vegetables to the Center of the Plate,” you won’t find a bunch of main dishes here, no casseroles, vegan meatloafs, etc.. What you will find is that aforementioned inspiration in the form of sides (“small plates” which can be combined to create a meal), soups, salads, sauces/dips, and beverages, many with variations and “fun facts.” Recommended for those cooking for a mixed dietary crowd or in need of party food ideas.

BPA Free Tomatoes

Monday, November 12th, 2012

In a post a couple years back, I discussed some of the hazards of Bisphenol A and listed some BPA free canned food products. Among them were even canned tomatoes, namely those from Muir Glen, though they’re considerably more expensive. The best price is probably that obtained by buying a 12-pack from Amazon.

Anyway, I’m revisiting this topic because I was recently alerted to the existence of boxed tomato products from Pomi. These are presumably BPA-free, but I’ve written to them to seek official verification.

Before we celebrate too much, however, there may still be health issues with Tetra Paks. The company responds to such concerns in their FAQ by answering the question “Are aseptic packages safe?” thusly:

Yes. There are no health concerns associated with the aseptic package. The silver material you see on the inside of the aseptic package is an ultra-thin layer of aluminum, which forms a barrier against light and oxygen, eliminating the need for refrigeration and preventing spoilage without using preservatives. Aluminum does not touch the food product. The inside layer of an aseptic package, which touches the product, is polyethylene (plastic), not aluminum. Moreover, there is no leaching of aluminum or aluminum components through the polyethylene layer. The polyethylene used in the aseptic package, low-density polyethylene (LDPE), is an FDA-approved food-contact surface material. It is the only material in the package that comes in contact with the food product, and in addition, industry tests have shown that no polyethylene leaches into the food product.

-from http://zoblue.com/assets/prof/tetrapak/faq.html#12

Returning to the positives, they’re much easier to fit in your cabinets, they’re only slightly more costly ($2.29 at my local grocery store), and check out that list of no’s (No fat, no sodium added, no artificial flavors, no preservatives, no water added, no citric acid, no refrigeration required)!

Lastly, they taste like tomatoes should; while at Scott’s a couple weekends ago, we made a pasta sauce with the strained tomatoes and a salsa with the chopped, and they were fresh and worked well. That said, Muir Glen’s Smoked Diced tomatoes are still the favorite in their household.

Good Greens Bars

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

OK, it’s official, I have a new favorite vegan candy bar: Good Greens Bars. They call ‘em “nutritional bars,” and they certainly pack a wallop of that too, but dang are they sweet and guilty-pleasure-ish. I think it’s the chocolate. Mmmm… :)

Thing is, they stack up very well against Larabar and the other vegan snack bars as far as ingredients and nutrition facts are concerned, and they’re raw and gluten free too.

I was fortunate to receive a sample pack containing each of the flavors… Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate Mint, Chocolate Chunk, Chocolate Raspberry, Chocolate Coconut (kinda tastes like I remember Mounds vars), and Wildberry (the only one without chocolate).

Chocolate Peanut Butter Good Greens Bar Chocolate Mint Good Greens Bar Chocolate Chunk Good Greens Bar

The first three in that list, depicted above, were the best to my taste buds, and I’ve since gone on to buy a box of mint and peanut butter, but they were all good! Definitely something to give a try at least once, if you haven’t yet. Unfortunately, as with most of these healthier treats, they’re a bit on the expensive side.

Chocolate Raspberry Good Greens Bar Chocolate Coconut Good Greens Bar

What’s your favorite vegan candy bar? Have you had any of the Good Greens bars yet?

Almond Milk Ice Cream

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

The other day while in the grocery store, I made a discovery that pleased me very much. You see, I’m always checking the small vegan ice cream section of the cooler to see if anything new has come in. Of late, it’s been monopolized by the coconut milk ice creams, and they’re just too high in fat for my liking, so I usually walk away empty-handed.

Well, this time, a few weeks back, there was indeed a new treat. Almond milk ice cream in both chocolate and vanilla from So Delicious. And, they were reasonably low in fat too, especially as it regards saturated fat. I picked up a pint of chocolate, and it was great. Not thin like rice milk, but actually creamy.

Then, came the real surprise when a week or so later they added mint chip to the line-up. Like I told my Dad, I was “over the moon.” It’s been ages since I’ve been able to enjoy a commercially-made mint chocolate chip ice cream (my all-time favorite ice cream flavor), and this almond milk one absolutely hit the spot. Refreshing and rich, but not cloying.

I have to admit I’ve gone a bit overboard (shhh ), and it ain’t cheap at $5/pint, so I tried my hand at one using my ice cream maker just using what was on hand. Typically, I’d use tofu, which is definitely creamier than the one I whipped up here with just chocolate soy milk, a banana, chocolate chips, and peppermint extract.

It’ll be interesting to see if they also start stocking the other So Delicious almond milk ice cream flavors, as I see on their website, they have butter pecan, cherry amaretto, cookies ‘n cream, and mocha almond fudge.

Vegan Ice Cream Recipe Books:
The Vegan Scoop | Vice Cream | The New Scoop | Lick It!


My Cookbook:

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