Monday, November 30, 2015

I Heart Keenwah Review

The nice folks at I Heart Keenwah asked me to check out their snack products and tell you what I think. I'm always up for a snack! And if it leans over to the healthier side of snacking, I'm all in. As you probably know, quinoa, the adorable little super pseudo-grain (it's actually a seed) is packed with complete protein. As a base for a snack, it's really much better for you than a lot of the other crunchy-salty things we love to munch on. One serving of the savory flavors has 5 grams of protein, and the sweets have 3 grams. That's pretty good.

First of all, I think it's brilliant of them to spell the name phonetically, so people can learn how to say it. KEEN-Wah! Now we got it!

On to the taste test! There are 5 varieties of the "sweet and crunchy" snacks, and 4 varieties of "savory and airy," which turned out to be my favorites.

Rick helped me sample 3 of the savories - Herbes de Provence, Sea Salt Truffle, and Sweet Chili. All 3 were great! They're a lot crunchier than your typical old school cheese puff, and smaller than they look on the package, which is not a bad thing at all. They're munchable!

The flavors are pronounced and real and identifiable. Rick liked the Sweet Chili the best, because he goes for a sweet slant, even in savory foods. They were spicy too! My favorite flavor was the Sea Salt Truffle. These tasted sort of... elegant. I like that right out of a bag! And we both agreed that the Herbes de Provence tasted a lot like Thanksgiving, and thought they'd be really good used as croutons on a salad or soup. Any of them would, really.

The 2 sweet flavors we sampled were The Chocolate Sea Salt and the Cashew Cranberry. We loved them both, but as usual, I preferred the saltier one, while Rick reached more for the sweeter fruity one. It all works out so perfectly.
Bottom line is, would I buy these? Yes! And you can too. Get I Heart Keenwah snacks online, or check their Stores page for a store that carries them near you!

A Happy Cow Look at Portland VegFest 2015

Check out this video link from the folks at Happy Cow! It's a fun look at VegFest, and doubles as a mini tourist guide to some of Portland's vegan highlights. You're going to want to visit us!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Easy Meatless Monday Recipe - Winter Lentil Soup

Living in Portland, I don't cook as much as I used to. There's so much great, affordable vegan food here, and I have such a crummy little kitchen, I'm just not feeling the recipe-inventing love. However,  a lot of you ask me for easy vegan recipes to either help you get started on a plant-based path, or add variety to your already-vegan diet. I'm happy to help with that! A little research turns up hundreds of great, simple plant-based recipes. I know you don't have a lot of time to filter through all that, so I'll dig around for recipes that look like something I'd like to try in my minimal kitchen, and share them with you here. Hope it helps! Enjoy!

Thank you for the lovely photo and recipe!
With Thanksgiving coming up this Thursday, it's nice to have some easy recipes to float us through the early part of the week with minimal effort. Make a big pot of this, and eat it for days!

Winter Lentil Soup

Here's what's in it:

olive oil
canned whole tomatoes
sweet potatoes
brown lentils
fresh thyme
salt and black pepper
grated [vegan] Parmesan (optional)

Look good? Get the whole recipe at!

Monday, November 16, 2015

It's the Post-VegFest Post!

Portland VegFest was this past weekend. I was there for almost all of it, and I have lots to share. It was a terrific event, bursting with food, fun, and information for vegans and veg-curious folks of all kinds. My focus was on the Fashion and Beauty Stage, since that's what I was invited to cover.

There was so much there. Too much to share it all here. I mean really, the idea is for you to go and experience the whole glorious thing for yourself. If you missed it, well, I'm sorry. Don't let that happen again, OK? Highlights for me this year were, in no particular order of preference:

100% Pure offers beautiful, natural, organic skin care and fruit-pigmented makeup. The company was a major sponsor of VegFest, and also quietly partners with various animal welfare organizations. They gave me some delicious lotion and hair care samples, and asked me to extend a 20% online discount to you! Use the code VEGFEST2015 until December 20th. You're welcome!

CompassionateCloset is an online purveyor of women's and men's clothing, shoes, and accessories from a wide range of vegan manufacturers. They carry super cool things like sunglasses made from recycled skateboard decks, and gorgeous shoes and boots.

Herbivore Clothing, a dandy Portland store, carries all sorts of animal-friendly items, like t-shirts, books, bags, stickers, housewares, and tons of accessories. They brought a bunch of great stuff with them, and had a happy buzz around their booth all weekend.

dōTERRA + Mind Body Spirit shared an amazingly scented mini-spa space filled with the very best in essential oils, and absolutely lovely, caring, sharing people. I followed my nose in, and was whisked into a comfy chair for a free hand massage that left me smelling like a sunny orange grove, and feeling refreshed and somehow "lighter."

V Apparel makes super soft, organic, fair trade, ethical T's in gorgeous, thoughtful designs. 10% goes to the animals. Sweet!

Vanessa Huntley offers hair styling, skin care, and massage in her all-vegan salon. She showed us how to do a simple, pretty up-do using safe, natural products that smelled so good her model went through the audience letting us sniff her hair. I also learned the correct way to use a bobby pin, which should be bumpy side down. Who knew!

Deja Bags are made of actual mylar film from used movie theater reels. They're super strong and stylish, and you can even tell what movie your bag is made from. Some are x-rated! Oh my!

Arbonne is a large, multi-national, botanically-based, all vegan company that makes an extensive line of skin and hair care products, as well as cosmetics, fragrance, and nutritional supplements. Even if you're not in the US, I'll bet you can order from them!

Compassion Co "provides shirts that allow people to announce their cruelty free lifestyle to the world." They're all about setting a positive example while creating connection and conversation between the wearer and others. Their clothing is organic, sustainable, and eco-friendly.

Kat Mendenhall is a lifelong cowgirl who went vegan a few years ago, and realized she needed an alternative to her usual leather boots. Finding nobody who was already making them, she set out to create her own company. Her "Kick Butt Boots" are absolutely gorgeous, and yes, I want a pair very much. She also offers belts, and soon there will be bags and wallets too.

North Coast Organics specializes in deodorants and bath and body care. The founder wanted a natural deodorant that would stand up to his 50 mile bike rides. Finding nothing on the market that suited him, he came up with it himself. The scents are wonderful. I bought the one called "Creativity," and so far, I smell sweet and fresh, even though I have no intention of ever getting on a bike.

Schmidt's Deodorant is an all-natural, cruelty-free product I'd sampled in the cream form a few years ago. I liked it a lot, but was wishing for a stick, which they now offer. Yay! I got my favorite, the Bergamot-Lime scent. It works great!

Cykochic offers creative, custom handbags in a variety of designs and colors, using Peta-approved, super soft vegan (polyurethane) leather, as well as "linen" made from recycled plastic bottles. They're adorable.

Vegan Beauty Review tells you more than you thought you wanted to know about cruelty-free and vegan beauty brands. Check this site before you shop. You'll find some real treasures, as well as a lot of good information.

Driftwood Magazine is brand new on the scene. Leaving the food, nutrition, and recipes to other fine publications out there, Driftwood offers "stories of vegan travel adventures, profiles on people, and advancements in our global community." It's seriously, playfully beautiful, and you'll keep each issue around long after you've read it.

Although most of my time was spent at the Fashion and Beauty Stage, I did manage to sneak off to other parts of the festival to sample some amazing food (free samples everywhere!), and listen to some expert speakers.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau shared some really useful insights regarding the excuses so many of us make for not going vegan, and debunking some of the myths surrounding a plant-based diet.  She also  responded thoughtfully and helpfully to audience questions about difficulties conveying our vegan values to our non-veg family and friends. Benefit from Colleen's gentle wisdom via her website, books, videos, and podcast.

Michael Klaper, MD gave us the lowdown on salt, sugar, and oils. I eat better than almost anyone I know, but I still have some improvements to make! There's a lot of great information on his website. Explore and thrive.

My friend Deb Kay, whom I met at Vegan Fusion teacher training, did a fun and tasty cooking demo, and shared some simple dessert recipes, just in time for the holidays. With permission, here's her incredible recipe for Lemon Pudding, made with cauliflower!!! To make it into a pie, just add 1 tablespoon of agar powder to the blender mixture, and then pour it into your favorite pie crust. Top with coconut whipped cream and enjoy some lemon heaven!

Lemon Pudding
Recipe from Deb Kay
Vegan and Gluten Free

3 cups roughly chopped cauliflower
1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
2 tablespoons sugar, agave, or maple syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
zest from 1 large lemon
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Place cauliflower, milk, sugar, vanilla, and zest into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, uncovered. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer and cook uncovered for 5-7 minutes, until cauliflower is very soft. Remove from heat.

Add lemon juice (and agar if using) and pour into food processor or blender. Blend on high for 1 minute, or until very smooth. Pour into a clean bowl (or pie crust) and allow to cool at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight, for at least 18 hours. Refrigeration helps the bold lemon flavor subside and really transforms this pudding. Do not skip this step!

Thanks Deb!

And there you have it. Two days of vegan fun, fashion, beauty, and then some. I hope you'll check out the websites I've linked for you. Every single one of them has something special to offer. I know I'll be supporting these super vegan businesses, and maybe I'll become even more fashionable and beautiful in the process!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Portland VegFest - November 14-15, 2015

I finally got the lineup for my special assigned area of Portland VegFest - the Fashion and Beauty Stage! This is going to be so much fun, and so busy, busy, busy! I'll be there both days, so I'll have time to see it all, as well as check out all the great food and health gurus who will be there too.

Read the full (very full) schedule here - Program.

Right off the top, I'm particularly interested in hearing what Vanessa Huntley has to share about vegan hair and skin care (my hair needs help!) The organic, fair trade clothing from V Apparel is super cute, and "boots that kick butt" from Kat Mendenhall, just knock me out. Must meet them in person. Yep, they're vegan. Wow!!!

The list goes on and on, and I know there will be lots of surprises. Of course I'll tell you all about it after it's over. But hey, wouldn't it be better if you met me there and saw (and tasted and touched and listened and learned) for yourself? Yes of course it would!

VegFest covers the entire range of life in the veg lane. There will be experts on everything from food and health to animal rights and environmental issues, and of course, fashion and beauty! This is the best one-stop event for anyone who's interested in learning more about going vegan, and how to love being there.

You can get your tickets online or at the door. Be sure to use the $1 off code or coupon!
See you there!

Thanksgiving at Sullivan Street Press

For the next couple of weeks, Deborah Emin, publisher at Sullivan Street Press, where my friend Paul Graham's book, Eating Vegan in Vegas "lives," is doing a series of special blog posts devoted to helping us plan our vegan Thanksgiving festivities. She's sharing recipes and restaurant suggestions from across the country, along with thoughts on how it's so easy and fun to celebrate the holidays in a vegan way. Follow Deborah's blog here, where today she shares my recent post on the wondrous Portobello Vegan Trattoria here in Portland.

Who knows... someday there might be another book - Eating Vegan in Portland!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Vegan Thanksgiving in Portland - Portobello Vegan Trattoria

When asked to suggest a great place to enjoy a fabulous vegan Thanksgiving dinner in Portland, I instantly thought of Portobello Vegan Trattoria. This well known and popular Portland restaurant will be offering a four course prix fixe Thanksgiving feast for $45 per person.

I was also told that you can call ahead to order take-home dinners for just $25. What a thoughtful way for non-vegan hosts to dazzle the "vegan at the table" with a beautiful meal, without having to fuss or puzzle over what to make. Now there's something to be thankful for!

The Thanksgiving Menu has just appeared on their website, and I'm hungry just looking at it. Start with Corn Bread with Maple Butter, Warm Olives with Citrus, Roast Pepper Stuffed Mushrooms, and then make your choices from the elegant options created just for this meal. 

Soup isn't just soup. It's Heirloom Squash Soup with Fried Parsnip and Pumpkin Seed Cracker. If you prefer salad, choose the Warm Roast Beet and Carrot with Hazelnuts, Maple Mustard Vinaigrette, Mixed Baby Greens, and Crouton.

The main course offerings are Confit Delicata Squash with Chanterelles, Roast Chestnut, and Cannellini Cassoulet, or Roast Portobello with Fried Shallots, Savory Stuffing, Brussel Sprouts with Trumpet Mushroom Bacon and Cranberry Chutney. 

And then for dessert... Pumpkin Cheesecake with Chocolate Chili Crust, Candied Pepitas, and Chocolate Chili Sauce, or Apple Pie Crostada with Bourbon Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Salted Caramel Sauce and Candied Rosemary.

Pardon me while I dap the drool off my chin. It all sounds amazing, and fortunately, if at least two people are dining together, you can order everything and sample all of it. They also serve beer, wine, and cocktails, and offer wine pairing, which I really appreciate. I love wine, but know nothing about it.
As I've written about Portobello in the past, it's absolutely one of my favorite places in Portland (or anywhere) for a truly extraordinary meal. If you can't make it for Thanksgiving, visit them any time you get the chance, for dinner or Sunday Brunch. The vibe is special without being stuffy, and the food is always incredible. The menu changes seasonally, so there will be surprises every time you go. What I've sampled at other times of the year has always been truly inspired.

Roasted Portobello Mushroom with Polenta

Asparagus and Beet Salad
Be sure to make your reservations well ahead of time, either by calling the number below, or online. No matter when you dine at Portobello, you'll walk away well fed, happy, and no doubt grateful to have found a new favorite place to share a memorable meal whenever you're lucky enough to be in Portland.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Tart
Portobello Vegan Trattoria
1125 SE Division Street
Portland, OR

Friday, November 6, 2015

Portland Vegfest is Right Around the Corner!

Portland VegFest, "Oregon's premier plant-based food and lifestyle event," is coming to the Oregon Convention Center November 14th and 15th. By my calculations, this will be the 7th Vegfest to be held here. And from what I saw last year, the good people at Northwest VEG are experts at putting together an event of this size.

Just look at the lineup of speakers! Big names like Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, Michael Klaper, MD, Miyoko Schinner (say vegan cheese!), Dan Piraro, the funny guy behind the Bizarro comic, and many others, are joined by talented, informative locals like my friend Deb Kay, who's presentation, "Making Common Treats From Uncommon Ingredients," promises to be in perfect sync with the holiday season.

Dan Piraro
Do you have your tickets yet? They're offering a $1 off coupon, so get going!

I have the particularly fun assignment of covering the Fashion and Beauty Stage, which is sponsored by 100% Pure, a natural, cruelty-free skin care and cosmetics company I'm looking forward to getting familiar with. While I don't have the complete F and B lineup yet, I do know that the gorgeous Gunas vegan handbags will be there. A new purse? Filled with makeup? And it's all vegan and pretty? We're off to a good start!

One more time, got tickets? See you at Portland VegFest!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Meatless Monday - Winner's Gumbo

I've shared a lot of great recipes with you here over the years. Now and then I like to go back and spotlight some of my favorites, so they don't get forgotten, and so new readers will find them. This recipe for Winner's Gumbo is my own version of one they make at Disneyland. It's easy to make, great in chilly weather, and makes enough to serve a crowd, if you're so inclined.

Find the whole story, and the recipe, in the original post. I can't wait to make this again. Glad I found it!