Friday, January 30, 2009

Vegan Product of the Week - LUSH

Even though I have been a vegan for over 7 years (and a vegetarian a lot longer than that), I still love finding out about new and old vegan products. Being that I have learned about so many great vegan products from the other vegan blogs, I thought I would start a "vegan product of the week" feature as my contribution.

This week's product is the LUSH line of cosmetics. LUSH is 100% vegetarian and they are great about listing which items are vegan. They use minimum packaging and everything is made so fresh that they list the date each product is made and when to use it by. They have stores all over and you can buy their products online.

All solid products are just wrapped in paper. If you buy them at the store, you can request no packaging!

The three wrapped items are bar soaps. The round one is a holiday bubble bar. The unwrapped bar is the trichomania shampoo (crazy name but great product).

If you love taking baths, you must try their bath bombs and bubble bars. My absolute favorite LUSH products are their solid shampoos. No packaging and they are incredible! They also have solid lotion bars, solid conditioners and bar soaps so you could be packaging-free! Online, it states if the item is vegan under the description or you can select to have it show you only vegan items. In the stores, it is listed on the descriptions next to each product and the staff is usually very helpful and knowledgeable. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Maitake and Black Trumpet Mushrooms

Mushrooms are great in stir frys, soups and in pasta sauces but my favorite way to eat mushrooms is to roast them. These maitakes and black trumpet mushrooms came from the Santa Monica Farmer's Market. I like the mushrooms to be the focus of the dish especially mushrooms that have a subtle taste or are on the pricey side, as these are.

Roasted Mushrooms
Do not wash maitakes. Break them apart if they are in large clusters.
The black trumpets can be slit in half and wiped with a damp dishtowel to get the dirt out.
Drizzle mushrooms with olive oil.
Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. I like the maitakes a little crunchy so I cook them about 30 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Variation: Add fresh or dried thyme

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Larabars Recalled

Being that my favorite energy bar has been recalled due to the peanut salmonella scare, I have had to find another safe snack bar. LARABAR Peanut Butter Cookie flavor and some CLIF bars and many others have been recalled. The FDA website has the whole list.

So I made the Super-Charge Me! cookies from Dreena Burton's Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. These cookies are incredibly healthy and very tasty. These will be my new snack bars!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Sunchokes, also called Jerusalem Artichokes, are a strange looking but delicious tuber completely unrelated to the artichoke. They have a bit of an artichoke flavor, hence the name. I usually roast them along with other root vegetables and recently tested a great sunchoke salad recipe for the Urban Vegan. They can be hard to find. Check farmer's markets and gourmet grocery stores.

Roasted Root Vegetables
Assorted root vegetables (carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, sunchokes, parsnips, turnips, beets)
½ head of garlic
handful of kalamata olives
olive oil
salt and pepper

Chop an assortment of root vegetables in uniform pieces. Peel the garlic cloves and add to veggies. Drizzle with olive oil. About halfway through the cooking, add a handful of pitted olives.

Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 30-45 minutes until vegetables are tender. Season to taste.

Urban Vegan's Sunchoke Salad

Monday, January 19, 2009

Inauguration Celebration

Being that tomorrow is such a historic day, I thought it would be good to post the schedule and some ideas for an inaugural celebration.

Martha Stewart has place cards that have the design of Lincoln's china and Inauguration labels to put on bottles of wine for use at your own dinner:

Here's the menu, with the recipes, of what Obama will be having at the inaugural lunch (in honor of Lincoln). It could be veganized. You can serve a vegan soup instead of the seafood stew, tofurky instead of the horrifying meat dish they are serving, sweet potatoes (easily veganized) and a fruit cobbler instead of the apple sponge cake. posted a great fruit cobbler recipe by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

Here's a detailed list of what happens Tuesday (times are Eastern)

Swearing-in Ceremony

11:30 a.m. - West front of the U.S. CapitolThe President-elect and Vice President-elect and their families will participate in the traditional inaugural ceremonies and events. For the first time ever, the length of the National Mall will be open to those wishing to attend the swearing-in ceremony. No tickets are required to view the Inaugural Ceremony on the National Mall west of 4th Street. If you’re planning on attending, you can find more information here to help plan your trip.
Festivities will include:
• Musical Selections: The United States Marine Band, followed by The San Francisco Boys Chorus and the San Francisco Girls Chorus• Call to Order and Welcoming Remarks: Senator Dianne Feinstein• Invocation: Dr. Rick Warren• Musical Selection: Aretha Franklin• Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr. will be sworn into office by Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, the Honorable John Paul Stevens• Musical Selection: John Williams, composer/arranger with Itzhak Perlman, (violin), Yo-Yo Ma (cello), Gabriela Montero (piano) and Anthony McGill (clarinet) • President-elect Barack H. Obama will take the Oath of Office, using President Lincoln’s Inaugural Bible, administered by the Chief Justice of the United States, the Honorable John G. Roberts, Jr. • Inaugural Address• Poem: Elizabeth Alexander• Benediction: The Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery• The National Anthem: The United States Navy Band “Sea Chanters"
After President Obama gives his Inaugural Address, he will escort outgoing President George W. Bush to a departure ceremony.
Inaugural Luncheon
Following the swearing-in ceremony, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, and members of their families will attend an inaugural luncheon hosted by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.

Inaugural Parade

The 56th Inaugural Parade will make its way down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House with groups traveling from all over the country to participate. Find out more information about the parade. While there is no official start time for the parade, it traditionally begins around 2:30 p.m.

Neighborhood Ball

7:00 p.m. - Walter E. Washington Convention CenterPresident-elect Barack Obama will host the first-ever Neighborhood Inaugural Ball, the premier event of the night, with musical performances by: Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Faith Hill ,Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Shakira, Stevie Wonder and Nick Cannon (as DJ ). To help bring this unique event to neighborhoods across the nation, ABC will air the event live from 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Macrobiotic Eating

We ate at M CafĂ©’s newest location in Culver City. The Culver City one is much bigger than the Melrose location. For some reason the food wasn't as good at this newer location. Our food didn't taste as fresh as it usually does. It is a bit pricey so it was a little disappointing. M Cafe is a macrobiotic restaurant which basically means that it has vegan food and fish. They serve mostly salads and sandwiches and some sushi (most is vegan).

Panino Tuscano (seitan, carmelized onions and arugula)

Panino Margarita (soy mozzarella, tomato and pesto) served with kale

Chocolate cupcake

Even the cupcake was a bit disappointing. The frosting was great but the cake part was just mediocre. So I think we'll stick with Melrose location!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Black Bean Soup

When I became a vegetarian in the 1980s, Moosewood cookbooks were the go to resources for great vegetarian cuisine. Now as a vegan, I find the Moosewood cookbooks still relevant. They do include non-vegan recipes but there are plenty of vegan ones.

One of my favorite recipes, black bean soup, is from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home. I served it with guacamole and baked blue corn chips. The guacamole is another tasty test recipe from the Urban Vegan.

Guacamole with blue corn chips

Friday, January 9, 2009

Treats from the Urban Vegan Recipe Testing

Recipe testing has been going well being that the Urban Vegan, has lots of great recipes!

Our kitty Teddy, sneaking a peek/sniff of peanut brittle

citrus-scented blueberry muffins


arroz con leche

jackfruit-banana smoothie

cranberry-upside down cake

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Urban Vegan's Test Recipes

These are some of the test recipes for the Urban Vegan's, upcoming cookbook, The Urban Vegan: 250 Street-Smart, Animal-Free Recipes.

Cauliflower-Chickpea Tagine

Portobello Burritos

Green Goddess Soup

Smoky Split Pea Soup

Monday, January 5, 2009

Out and About in LA

Galco’s Old World Grocery in the Highland Park area of Los Angeles is the place to go for a taste of nostalgia. Galco’s has the most amazing selection of regional sodas (many sweetened with cane sugar-no high fructose corn syrup) and retro candies. John, the owner, is passionate about his hard to find soda and candy and is always there to greet his customers. Since most soda is vegan, I got a few of my favorites.

Luckily some fun retro candy just happens to be vegan. If you miss Butterfinger candy bars, then you must try Chick-O-Sticks. There is no chocolate on them but they taste like the inside of a Butterfinger bar. You could dip it in chocolate to get the full effect.

They also had Rainbow Coconut Bars and Crows (gummy licorice drops). The Rainbow Coconut Bars are pretty much comprised of sugar, coconut and bright pink dye, but they are tasty! I didn’t say this was a healthy outing!

Whole Foods Indian food bar for dinner. Not the most photogenic dinner but pretty good.

Lunch on Sunday in Malibu. It was a beautiful day in LA. That is Catalina Island and some smog in the distance.

You can probably guess from the name of the restaurant, Reel Inn, and fish on the sign that this is not the most vegan friendly restaurant. Contrary to popular belief, every Los Angeles restaurant does not cater to vegans!!! So I had the standard vegan fare in such a place, a salad. It was a big salad and was pretty good. They also had home fries that were vegan. It was for a birthday celebration so I didn’t mind.

Laker game at the Staples Center. We were seated in the very upper level so the pictures of the court are not great. If you look closely, courtside on the right, Jake Gyllenhaal (wearing a grey beanie) and Reese Witherspoon are sitting 4 people up from the table. Jack Nicholson (in black) is in his usual spot courtside on the left, 3 people up from the table.

Everyone in the Staples Center won 2 free tacos at Jack in the Box…every vegan’s dream…

...I didn't want images of nasty tacos seared on your retinas so replace them with this smog filled ocean vista!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
To celebrate the New Year, we had olives with roasted garlic, lentil soup and beans and greens (Urban Vegan’s test recipe). Italians usually have lentil soup on New Year’s Eve and on New Year’s Day. The more you eat, the more wealth you are to have that year.

Olives with Roasted Garlic
2 cups of your favorite olives
½-1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
Garlic cloves from 1 head of roasted garlic (see below)
Zest of one lemon or orange
1 sprig each of fresh thyme and rosemary or 1 tsp each dried
1 T olive oil

Mix together and serve.

Roasted Garlic
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Slice off the top of the head of garlic to expose some of the cloves inside. Place the head on a piece of foil. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap in the foil. Roast until cloves are lightly browned and tender, about 30-45 minutes.