Monday, July 29, 2013

Rum Raisin Cupcakes

I don't like rum, but I love these little cakes. They're not too rummy. Just enough to go with the raisins and spice. Don't be put off by the beans. You can't taste them, and they do a great job of adding moisture as well as protein. These treats are actually pretty good for you, as cupcakes go.

Rum Raisin Cupcakes
vegan, gluten free, oil free
makes about 3 dozen mini cakes, or 1 dozen regular cupcakes

1 cup raisins (packed), soaked in water for 15 minutes
1/2 cup apple sauce
1 cup black beans
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup Meyers's dark rum

1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 cup organic sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 350º. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
Drain the soaked raisins, and place them in a food processor with all other wet ingredients. Blend well.
Stir dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Stir in blended wet ingredients.
Fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 full.
Bake at 350º for 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven and the size of the cupcakes. A toothpick should come out clean when they're done, and the tops will be lightly browned and a little crispy.
Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Orange-Rum Frosting
1/2 cup cashews, soaked 20 minutes or more
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange extract
2 T rum
1/4 cup almond milk
1 pound organic powdered sugar

If you have a Vitamix or Nutribullet, you can get a super creamy frosting. If not, be OK with a little graininess from the cashews. It will still be sweet and lovely.
Place all ingredients except the powdered sugar in a blender or food processor, and blend until very smooth.
Pour the blended mixture into a large bowl, and using a hand mixer, gradually add the powdered sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time. Mix well with each addition until you've mixed in all the sugar. You might want to add a few drops of liquid if it gets too thick, or leave some of the sugar out once you get the consistency just right. Frost cooled cupcakes and top each with a raisin.

Want almost 3 years worth of PV recipes in one handy place? Get the Recipe Box!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Vegan Cuts Beauty Box

I love girly stuff, like makeup, skin care, and nail polish. I also want products that are vegan, cruelty free, and free of harmful ingredients. They're out there, but not always easy to find. That's why I was thrilled to learn about the new Vegan Cuts Beauty Box. For just $19.95 a month you can subscribe to have a fun box of beauty surprises delivered to your door. The July box arrived a few days ago, and I've been having a great time trying out all the products inside. Here's what I got, and what I think!

This great collection came to me quickly in a USPS Priority box, all snuggled into a friendly nest of crinkly, recyclable paper shreds. Some of the items in the box are available on the VeganCuts site, along with lots of other great deals on vegan snacks, clothes, jewelry, and other necessities. Check there first if you decide to buy, because they often have discounted prices.

Starting from the left, we have a sample of Essence of Vali essential oil blend called "Sleep." It contains lavender, cedarwood, and other nice things to help calm the mind and ease you off to dream land. I like it a lot, and did sleep quite well the 2 nights I tried it. The recommendation is to place a drop of the oil on the corner of your pillow. That worked pretty well for me, although I found it a bit strong if I crunched my pillow up and put my nose right in it. I think I might try mixing some in a small spray bottle with water, and misting my pillow instead.

The darling little green zippered bag in the back is the Jemma Pouch from Namaste. It's soft, lovely, genuine not-leather, lined with genuine not-suede. It's really good quality, and just the right size for all sorts of little things. Now I also want the larger Devin wristlet, available on VeganCuts (in black please, if anybody wants to send me a present.) I can't help it. I'm a bag lady.

Next to the bag is a sample tube of Suntegrity tinted moisturizer with sun protection. I've been using it and like how it moisturizes nicely without being goopy, adds a hint of coverage, and keeps some of those harsh New Mexico rays off my pretty face.

The full size bottle of LVX nail polish was a real surprise, in a couple of ways. This stuff sells for $16, so it was a very generous addition to a $19.95 box of goodies. It's a non-toxic polish that goes on smoothly and wears great. The color (Deco), which didn't grab me at first, turned out to be a really fun summer color, kind of like peachy ice cream. I thought I might give it away, but no, you can't have it. It's mine, and I want more colors.

On the right is a sample bottle of NYL Skincare Rosewater Face Wash. It's supposed to act as a moisturizing cleanser and astringent in one. It smells nice, and I really wanted to like it. I have to be honest though, this was the only product in the box I wasn't taken with. It doesn't foam up much, and I didn't feel like it cleaned my skin. I used some of my regular astringent afterwards, and the cotton ball collected a lot of residual dirt and tinted moisturizer. I won't give up on the brand though. It looks like they've come up with some other really nice products, and I hope they'll send others.

Up front there's a small sample tube of GlamNatural mascara. It goes on nicely and doesn't clump, but doesn't really do a lot of lengthening or thickening. Mostly it colors the lashes in a soft, natural way that I think is really nice for casual daytime wear, when you want to look awake but not all made up.

The little pot next to the mascara is a shimmery loose powder eye shadow from Swagger Cosmetics, in Golden Rose. It's a pretty, eye-opening highlighter that goes on easily and stays in place. I like it!

And last is a sample of Argan Oil from Acure Organics. Argan oil comes from the argan tree in Morrocco, and is being used in lots of beauty products these days. It has a faintly floral, soft scent, and is reputed to repair skin imperfections and restore elasticity. It's too soon to tell, but I'll be dabbing it around my eyes at night until the sample runs out. If I had a vat of it I'd soak in it!

That's everything. I hope you found this helpful in your search for healthy, fun beauty products. It was sure fun for me, and I'm looking forward to my August Beauty Box, which of course I'll tell you all about! Shop VeganCuts or any of the contributor's websites for these products, and order your own Beauty Box for next month, because like I said, this stuff is mine!

Want almost 3 years worth of PV recipes in one handy place? Get the Recipe Box!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Recipe Box Link Fixed

Oh man... just when I think I have everything connected and working, a glitch sneaks in to spoil the fun. Just goes to show me how great and powerful I am... not!

If you tried to get to the Recipe Box Sampler this morning and it didn't work, please try again on the main Recipe Box Page. And do let me know if you have any trouble. Thanks!!!

The Positively Vegan Recipe Box is Here!

Over the almost 3 years I've been writing this blog, I've posted tons of great recipes for you. So many, in fact, that I'm always getting requests to do a cookbook. A book still seems way beyond my capabilities, but I do want you to be able to quickly find your favorite recipes here without having to scroll back through years of blabby blog posts. So what I've done is sort through all of my recipes, organize them by category, and list them all in what I call the Recipe Box. It's a step in the book direction, and one thing I really like about it is I can add to it as I go. Every time I post a new recipe on the blog, I'll also pop it into the box, without any of the bloggy banter.

Looking back through my older recipes, I could see that a lot of them needed re-writing and updating. I've learned a lot about writing recipes over the years, and now everything in the Recipe Box is written in a nice simple format, with lots of pictures to help you out and make you hungry. Pictures are important, and they're expensive when you do them in a printed book. I'm happy that I didn't have to skimp on them for the Recipe Box!

Unlike the original PV Recipes PDF, the Recipe Box is online. There's nothing to download or store, and you can open it on your computer, tablet, or smart phone. And if you prefer to have a printed recipe in front of you, it's easy to copy and paste your favorites into a text document and print them out.

Right now I'm only charging $9.97 for the the big fat Recipe Box. Get it quick before I raise the price! There are already almost 100 recipes in the Recipe Box, and as I said, I'll be adding more each week. (In fact I added one as I wrote this post.) You only have to pay once, but you'll get all the updates. A cookbook can't do that for you! (If you already purchased the PV Recipes PDF, I'll be sending you a free link to the Recipe Box. Check your email!)

Want to see how it looks? Go to the FREE Recipe Box Sampler page! I promise to keep working on the book idea, but for now, I really think you're going to like the Recipe Box! Enjoy!

UPDATE! The button wasn't working earlier. Grrr! For some reason Blogger won't let me hook up the html. So I've rerouted the link over to the Recipe Box page on my website. It works there! Please try again! Thanks!!!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Lemon-Blueberry Scones

Every since our honeymoon in Victoria, BC - more than 20 years ago... wow - I've been smitten with scones. I love to whip up a batch on a Sunday morning and share them with Rick over a hot mugs of tea. Much more romantic than biscuits or toast, scones are really easy to make. Here's a version we really like.

Lemon-Blueberry Scones
gluten free - makes 8 scones
1 T ground flax seeds mixed with 1/4 cup water
2 C brown rice flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup agave syrup
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 400º. Line a baking sheet with parchment, or a light coating of oil.
Mix the flax seeds and water first, and set aside for a few minutes.
Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and almonds.
Add and stir in the flax/water, vanilla, oil, agave, and lemon zest and juice.
Stir in the blueberries after everything else is mixed well.
Pat the dough onto a lightly floured board, into a circle about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 8 wedges. Transfer the wedges onto the baking sheet, and bake at 400º for about 20 minutes, until they brown slightly. Serve with vegan butter (we like Earth Balance) and all-fruit jam.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

KeVita Love

I'm still sorting through all the biz cards and brochures I brought home from VidaVeganCon. There were so many samples there, it was hard to get to them all. (I did my best though.) One that stands out is the tasty and good-for-you KeVita sparkling probiotic drink. I fell in love with it at the conference, and continue to buy it here at home.

KeVita is organic, vegan, non-GMO, and gluten and soy free. The slightly fizzy drink comes in 10 lovely flavors. My absolute favorite is the lemon-ginger, which is the best thing ever on a hot summer day. Rick likes the mango-coconut. We sampled almost all of them at the conference, and really, you can't go wrong. They're all refreshing and tasty.

I also love the KeVita bottle. Not important? Is too! It's a nice size for holding and sipping, and has a wide mouth with a cap that closes tightly. It's glass, so readily recyclable, but also the perfect size to reuse for homemade sauces and salad dressings. And maybe best of all, there's a little heart molded onto the bottom of every bottle, which means there's happy energy mixed in. What's not to love?

Learn more, and find a store near you at! And take advantage of the $1 Off Coupon they've asked me to share with you. Cheers!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Tortillas + Pizza = Tortizza

Vegan pizza is an important thing to get right, and to eat often! I've shared these here before, but the method has changed some so it's time for an update. My friend Anne came up with the name. Before that I just called them Tortilla Pizzas. Ho hum... Everything tastes better with a snappy name, right? This is super easy to throw together on a busy week night or for lunch, and makes a great do-it-yourself party food.

1 pie per person is usually enough
flour tortillas - 2 for each pizza
Cashew Cheese - optional
Daiya shreds - any flavor, or any vegan cheese
spaghetti sauce
fresh spinach
mushrooms, sliced
black olives, sliced
fresh oregano

Of course the toppings are up to you. For families or parties, arrange a bunch of toppings like a "pizza bar" and let everyone make their own.

Preheat the oven to 425º.
Line cookie sheets with parchment, non-stick liners, or a light spray of oil. 2 pizzas will fit on each tray.
Place 2 tortillas side by side on each cookie sheet. Spread a thin layer of Cashew Cheese on each tortilla, OR sprinkle a little bit of Daiya on each.

Top each tortilla with another tortilla.
Spread sauce on the top tortillas, and sprinkle with a small amount of Daiya.

Arrange your toppings any way you like them, as far out to the edges as you can go.
Top with a little more Daiya. (Note: Daiya tastes great and makes a great "glue" to hold it all together, but I don't use as much as I would regular cheese. Less tastes better.)

Bake at 425º for 12-15 minutes, until the edges of the tortillas crisp a little bit.
Remove from oven and slide the Tortizzas off the trays, onto a cutting board.
Allow to cool for a minute or two.
Slice and serve with a salad.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Positively Vegan Has a YouTube Channel!

As more and more people are beginning to wonder "what is vegan" and to search out vegan recipes, I've noticed that a lot of folks are venturing into the kitchen as relatively inexperienced cooks, in need of some technique basics and clarification. Sometimes it's easier to show than to tell, so I've decided to do a series of really short videos, sharing things like how to hold a knife, how to cut pretty little matchstick carrots, how to press tofu, what to do with lemons (beyond lemonade), and simple recipes that can be shown in 5 minutes or less. Spring rolls are up this week, and they're easier than ever. Do not fear the spring roll! Make it your own!

I'll do my best to post one new video each week. Please take a moment to wander over to YouTube and subscribe to my channel, so you don't miss a single one! And while you're there, please be sure to click Like on the videos, leave comments if you're so inclined, and of course Share my link on Facebook and Twitter. It will really help me. Thanks so much! I hope you enjoy my foray into Positively Vegan Video Land!

PS - If there's anything vegan you'd like me to do a video of, please let me know!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Happy Vegan Birthday to Me

I had the nicest birthday dinner with Rick and a few friends earlier this week, at one of the best restaurants in Taos. Getting a good vegan meal in a restaurant in New Mexico is no easy thing, but with a little planning it all worked out beautifully. There's a trick to dining out that vegans need to get comfortable with, and that's simply calling ahead and asking for what you want. More often than not a restaurant with a good chef will be more than willing to either modify an existing dish for you, or come up with something new. And the more we ask for vegan fare, the more restaurants will realize there are lots of us out here, hungry and looking for someplace to spend our money. The smart ones will feed us!

Lambert's of Taos is a well established local favorite, recently moved into a larger space once occupied by the Apple Tree. When I checked to see if the chef might possibly consider making something vegan for Rick and me, the instant answer was yes. I should admit here that my daughter used to work for the owners in a different restaurant, so we sort of had an "in" with the kitchen. But I'm fairly sure they would be just as happy to accommodate other vegans who drop in for lunch or dinner. It's that kind of place.

We reserved a table on the patio, and were treated to a beautiful warm Taos evening, free of the blustering thunderstorms that are common here this time of year. We settled in with good friends, tasty beverages, and pleasant and helpful servers.

Basically we ordered off the menu, with only small modifications. The beet salad was excellent, and leaving off the goat cheese wasn't a problem at all. Rick had a green salad that only needed the cheese left off too, so again, we didn't cause too much of a kitchen fuss.

We both ordered the risotto, and they were ready to make it vegan style for us because we'd called ahead. It was rich and creamy and wonderful with vegetable broth, fresh vegetables, and of course no butter or cheese. I wouldn't have changed a thing, and couldn't have asked for a better birthday feast.

The moral of the story: Don't think that because there are no vegan restaurants in reach you can't go out to eat. Be brave. Make a phone call. Ask for vegan food, and expect a yes because you're likely to get it. I know for sure you'll be well fed in Taos if you find your way to Lambert's.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Spring Roll Update

I've made a lot of spring rolls in the past year, ever since I learned the secrets of the spring roll universe from Mark Reinfeld in his fantastic Vegan Fusion 10 Day Immersion. Since then I've been fine-tuning and streamlining the process to suit my simplistic sensibilities, and to make it easier to demystify the technique for others. The way I make them now is so easy I really think anyone can do it. And you should! Spring rolls are a fun way to eat lots of fresh veggies. They're great for parties too because they look so fancy and are the perfect finger food. Some people call them Summer Rolls, and that seems like the perfect name for them now, since summer just happens to be in full bloom. I made these the other night for friends, as a pre-birthday celebration for myself! They're a slightly different twist on the average Spring Roll, and we all really, really liked them.

For the quick 2 minute VIDEO of this technique, visit my YouTube Channel!
And while you're there, why not subscribe? Yes, please do!

Summer Rolls
rice paper wrappers
lettuce and arugula, thinly sliced and mixed
carrots, cut into match sticks or grated
celery, thinly sliced
sunflower sprouts
cranberry sauce, canned or cooked from fresh

Make the Smoky Baked Tofu early in the day, or better yet, the day before. Cut it into 1/2 inch sticks.
Prep all your ingredients and set them out in the order you'll be using them, along with two cutting boards to work on, and a shallow dish of very hot water for dipping the wrappers in.

Soak one rice paper wrapper in the hot water for about 20-30 seconds, until it's soft but not soggy. There should still be a little bit of a crinkle to it when you remove it from the water, and it will be stretchy and elastic.

Lay the wrapper on a cutting board and quickly fill it with a little bit of each ingredient. Go easy. Over-filling makes for difficult rolling! Start with a strip of lettuce running most of the length of the wrapper. Add the other fillings in the order given, ending with two sticks of tofu, running sideways so you can easily roll around them.

This might be more filling than you want to start with... ;o)
Now lift the side of the wrapper closest to you, and gently wrap it over the sideways fillings (not all the lettuce). Pull the fillings toward you, tucking them in as tightly as you can. Fold the ends in toward the center, and continue rolling until you reach the end. The bare piece of wrapper will stick itself to the roll, sealing it all up.

Set the finished roll on the other cutting board, and repeat the process to make as many rolls as you want. When you're finished, cut the rolls in half at a slight diagonal and arrange on a platter with some Chipotle Cranberry Dipping Sauce. Instant party!

Chipotle Cranberry Dipping Sauce
cranberry sauce
vegan mayo
chipotle powder

Mix equal parts cranberry and mayo in a small bowl. Season with chipotle to taste.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

How To Eat More Vegetables

A funny thing happens when I'm chatting with a new acquaintance, and they find out that I'm vegan. They almost always say, Oh... I need to eat more vegetables... And then they shuffle their feet and avoid eye contact, I suppose because they're afraid I'm going to try to recruit them into the Vegan Army. As far as I know, nobody ever wants to go vegan simply because they've just met a vegan. But something about coming face to face with a full-time plant eater seems to nudge people into realizing that maybe they don't eat quite enough plants for their own good.

Do you need to eat more vegetables? Great! Eat more vegetables! Problem solved, right? Well, I wish it was that easy. When most people think of "eating vegetables," they have dull visions of pale dinner salads, woody carrot sticks, and maybe some overcooked bell peppers on their meat-laden pizza. I can't blame anybody for not getting excited over that. 

But still, the key to eating more vegetables actually is to eat more vegetables. In some ways, it really is that simple. Look for ways of sneaking vegetables into your meals. Grate or blend vegetables into soups and sauces. Add chopped veggies to casseroles. Make grilled vegetable sandwiches and pizzas. Get crazy with exotic, hearty salads. Make a carrot cake for dessert. Have a green smoothie for breakfast. Without making a big deal over it, you can pack a lot of veggies into your day without ever having to suffer through a plain bowl of lettuce.

When you do this, and make it into a habit, sooner or later the vegetables will begin to displace some of the less healthy foods you're eating. You can only eat so much, right? Eat the veggies first, and let them crowd out some of the other stuff. Then, the next time you meet a vegan, instead of feeling uncomfortable, you might even have a few recipes to share!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Smoky Baked Tofu

Happy July! It's my Birth Month, and I celebrate all month long, which of course calls for special food! This is my own personal Birthday Sandwich, and of course it comes with a story. When I was born, the first thing my Mom asked for after the delivery was a turkey sandwich. For years and years it was my tradition to have a turkey sandwich on my birthday in her honor. That kind of fell by the wayside for a while, for obvious reasons, but this year I have this new version of my old favorite, and it tastes amazingly like the turkey sandwiches of my earlier years, only way better.

I've teamed up with the nice folks at Nasoya for this. I met them at VidaVeganCon, and they graciously asked me to sample their new vegan Nayonaise and Nayo Whipped. I love them both, and either one is great on this sandwich. The one you choose will depend on whether you were raised in a Mayo Family or a Miracle Whip Family. The Nayonaise is a delicious vegan mayo, and the Nayo Whipped is fluffy and sweet like Miracle Whip. Pretty amazing. Both are vegan, and although it doesn't say it on the labels, they are made with non-GMO soybeans, which is important to me!

I just happen to use Nasoya tofu all the time because it's my favorite, and again because it's non-GMO. They aren't paying me to plug their products, but I really do like them!

Kim's Happy Birthday Sandwich

whole grain bread
Smoky Baked Tofu (recipe below)
Nayonaise or Nayo Whipped
avocado slices

My ultimate birthday lunch is this sandwich served with "crack chips" - Kettle Organic Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper Potato Chips. I'm just so happy to be here!

Smoky Baked Tofu

1 package extra firm tofu
1/4 cup tamari
1/4 cup agave or maple syrup
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika

Drain the water off the tofu and leave the tofu in the package. Cut it into 8 slices. Set the tofu package in a bowl or plate to catch marinade overflow.
Mix the tamari, agave, and paprika together, and pour the sauce slowly over the tofu, making sure to let it seep in between all the slices. All of the marinade should fit, filling the tofu package right up to the top.
Cover the tofu and let it marinate in the refrigerator for several hours, preferably overnight.
To bake, line a small (10x10-ish) baking dish with foil, and lay the tofu slices out in one layer. Spoon a little bit of the marinade on top of each slice. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes. Flip the tofu slices over, spoon on the remaining marinade, and bake for another 30 minutes.

This tofu is also excellent in stir-fries, noodle dishes, salads, and wraps. Enjoy!