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Archive for December, 2012

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These New Year’s Eve inspired chocolate molasses muffins were born of a desire to make a rich, hearty chocolate muffin including the iron-rich goodness of molasses to celebrate a brand new year! I am grateful to be on this vegan adventure and grateful to be sharing this superb recipe! These muffins are gluten-free, soy-free, and delicious. Will they become a NYE tradition?

Gluten-Free Chocolate Molasses Muffins (Makes 16 muffins)

Ingredients:

1 tbs molasses

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup oat flour

1 cup gf all purpose flour

1 tsp acv

1/2 cup applesauce (or 1 medium apple vitamixed)

7 drops stevia

1/4 cup xylitol

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup nut mylk

1/2 cup warm water

2 tbs ground flaxseed

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup cacao powder

1 pinch salt

1/4 cup coconut oil

Instructions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin tins. Add ground flax seed and hot water to liquid ingredients. Mix dry ingredients. Add liquid to dry.

 Add mixture to tins or greased muffin tray. Bake for 25-28 minutes. Enjoy, and happy 2013! Thank you for reading!

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I just returned from a superb trip to Los Angeles. I absolutely love my friends and family in LA. My wonderful older brother Asher and I are both vegan and get along smashingly (incidentally, he’s @Smasherbrown on Twitter!) and had an amazing time seeing friends, making delicious vegan smoothies, juices, soups, bean dishes, steamed greens, and doing other fun sibling stuff–even cleaning the backyard to indie music at full blast is fun with my brother–seriously.

While in LA I actually only ate at two restaurants–three times = a charm at Sage Organic Vegan Bistro, an Echo Park favorite located on Sunset Blvd. just a few blocks from my brother’s beautiful home, and the second was Xoia Vietnamese restaurant, also on Sunset Blvd a few blocks from Sage, which I went to with my college friend and his lovely partner.

At Xoia, my friends and I shared mushroom/tofu spring rolls to start and as a main I got the Vegetarian Mi Quang, which included wide rice noodles served with tofu, shiitake, enoki and beech mushrooms, lettuce, bean sprouts, sprinkles of crushed peanuts, banana blossom, fresh mints, and sesame crackers in a shiitake broth. Everything was so delicious, I would definitely return!

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Vegetarian Mi Quang at Xoia.

Though I went to Sage three times this trip,  each time I veered in different menu directions. The first visit was a catchup lunch with my fabulous friend Puki. I ordered the “street tacos” and for dessert we shared the raw chocolate espresso cake. It was pretty amazing. In the picture I’ve featured it shows the street tacos served with rice and beans, but I opted to have mine with salad (not pictured).

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Street tacos at Sage. Photo Credit.

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Raw espresso chocolate cake from Sage. Puki took this photo!

The next time I went to Sage was brunch with my brother and some of our mutual friends; my college friend and his partner, Kelsey, and Ivory! I ordered gluten-free vegan waffles and an almond mylk latte. The third time I went was with Mark Hawthorne and lauren Ornelas, who generously took me and my brother out to lunch! I had the kale salad and the chocolate superfood ice cream (amazing) and it was seriously so sweet of Mark and lauren to drive out to Echo Park and to treat us to such a decadent, ethical, organic lunch. Truly lovely.

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The lively Farmers’ Market in downtown LA. I also visited the Sherman Oaks Farmers’ Market this trip.

Other gastronomic highlights of the trip included smoothie making with my bro–we got really into using various protein powders, chia, berries, local fruits and greens and even young thai coconuts! My bro has a Vitamix so it was super convenient to make them each morning–including on the way to BodyPump classes which I attended at a local gym downtown–I’m trying to build these little plant-based muscles! Asher and I also held a little vegan taco dinner party at Pollution Studios, the film studio he runs and co-owns! Some of our friends came down to the studio to help us cook and eat and I want to give special props to the wonderful June Zandona, a sweetheart vegan Los Angeles based director and cinematographer who spearheaded the thumbprint cookie-making.

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Homemade gluten-free vegan thumbprint cookies made in the Pollution Studios kitchen!

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Asher’s pineapple salsa and mulled wine, made at Pollution Studios.

The trip had many other highlights, including gluten free vegan challah making, frequent scenic hikes in Elysian Park, decaf almond mylk lattes at Fix, trips to Erewhon, dancing at Pollution, watching the Avatar cartoon series (it’s a really beautiful and inspiring show with a vegan protagonist!) and beating Zelda: Skyward Sword with my brother, celebrating Christmas with movies and vegan Chinese food (it was pretty good and definitely satisfied our craving for tradition), going to Shabbat at LGBTQ-friendly synagogue Kol Ami while managing to get in some work and writing at the same time. I’m back in Philly now; there’s snow on the ground and I just made the best Spinach Ginger Beet Energy Juice! Here’s the recipe:

Spinach Ginger Beet Energy Juice (Serves 2)

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Ingredients:

1 large beet

1/2 large ginger knob

1 medium cucumber

2 cups spinach

1 small apple

Instructions:

Juice it in a juicer or use my technique to make the juice in a blender. Enjoy immediately.

I’m gearing up for 2013 with my beloved and feeling super grateful for all of the blessings–especially those of family and friends–in my life. Happy 2013!

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My good friend Aviva is in rabbinical school. Aviva writes a fantastic blog about her rabbinical school journey called Becoming Rabbi, which you can read by clicking here. I’m currently in LA visiting family and friends, and Aviva and I decided that we would catch up while making loaves of the traditional Jewish Sabbath bread challah. Aviva lives in Bel-Air, a gorgeous neighborhood in Los Angeles made famous by The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I’m currently living in West Philly so visiting Aviva at her beautiful Bel-Air home to make challah seemed especially appropriate!

Aviva is a whiz at making all kinds of challah. She knows how to craft perfect loaves of crunchy yet gooey raw vegan challah (we worked together at the raw vegan retreat center, where Aviva honed her craft), traditional (non-vegan) challah, and glutenous vegan challah, but never before had Aviva made (cooked) gluten-free vegan challah!

We were both up for the challenge and spent several hours making the bread and waiting for it to rise while gabbing, catching up with her wonderful hubby, listening to music (Aviva always has the latest and coolest mixes), and just enjoying the spirit of making Shabbos bread. Here’s the recipe we used, adapted from several challah recipes to include our gluten-free twist. I hope you enjoy making it and sharing it with loved ones, whether you celebrate Shabbat or just want some seriously awesome gluten-free vegan bread!

Gluten Free Vegan Challah

(Serves 6-8)

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The braided challot prior to heading to the oven.

Ingredients:

Dough part 1:

2 1/2 tsp gluten-free rapid rise yeast

1 cup warm water

4  1/4 cups gluten-free flour

1/3 cup coconut palm sugar, xylitol or regular raw sugar

1 tsp salt

4 Tbs canola oil

Dough Part 2 (Egg substitute):

3 Tbs canola oil

3 Tbs warm water

2 tsp baking powder

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Pour the yeast into the water along with a pinch of sugar in a large bowl. Mix these until well combined. Let the mixture rest for a couple minutes until bubbly and creamy. Add the sugar, salt, and 4Tbs of canola oil and mix. Beat the “Dough Part 2″ egg replacement ingredients with a whisk until it fizzes and pour this into the yeast mixture. Add the flour, one cup at a time, until the mixture is thick and difficult to stir. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it until it is springy and elastic (about 5-10 minutes).

The ingredients for “Dough Part 2″ work as the binding agent or “egg”.  Add part 2 to part 1 right before you mix the flour. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a slightly damp cloth or plastic wrap and set in a warm place for an hour and a half. After this, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and separate the dough into equal portions, depending on how many challot you care to make. We made 4 pieces and 4 challot. Divide each piece into 3 pieces and roll out into 3 equal-sized strands. Pinch the ends together and braid the dough.Place on a baking sheet or greased pan and bake for 30 minutes. Enjoy! :)

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Aviva and I, holding our freshly baked gluten-free vegan challah!

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Amazing vegan activist/radio host Erin Red and her entertainment co-host Laura Yaz invited me to do a guest appearance on the radio show Erin Red Radio to cover the recent controversy surrounding Ellen DeGeneres and “happy eggs”. It was a great discussion (my interview starts about 1 hour in) and a great show. I was honored to participate and invite you to check it out!

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Today, I saw this video of Alicia Silverstone (created by PETA) showing the horrors of the down industry. Yesterday, I flew first class on U.S. Airways (I snagged some miles that were set to expire from a family member) and the seats were leather, the airline forgot my vegan meal, and didn’t have any vegan options on board (the airline provided their first class passengers with a “food” option of either feminized animal protein-laden pasta or dead chicken carcass slathered in barbeque sauce).

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Today, I’m thinking about those who wear fur, who eat foie gras, who buy  “gourmet” meats to celebrate holidays or promotions. Everywhere I look, especially around the holiday season, I see ridiculous examples of the skewed ways some in our culture envision luxury.

Why is it that the most coveted things in our society are often those sourced from cruelty towards human or non-human animals?

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Why has luxury become synonymous with cruelty in so many cases? When I think about the true meaning of luxury for me, it has nothing to do with exerting dominance over another creature or person.

My definition of luxury includes: getting to spend time with loved ones, feeling creatively inspired and having the time to act on this inspiration, getting to travel several weeks or months of the year, enjoying really special gourmet vegan meals at restaurants sometimes, having the freedom to choose my schedule, sleeping on an organic mattress, etc. Notice that my definition of luxury does include some material things: I would certainly survive and would be quite happy without gourmet vegan meals and designer vegan apparel, but since we’re talking about luxury and not “necessity,” this is my list. What my definition of luxury does not include is exploiting and killing innocent creatures for my personal benefit. It does not include eating “fine” chocolate sourced from child slavery. I call for a culture-wide re-examination of what we consider to be luxury–for the animals, for our fellow humans, and for the planet.

What does luxury mean to you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments . . .

Note: I realize that flying is terrible for the environment and while I can say that I’m trying to fly less these days, it’s still a big deal. Just because I’m vegan doesn’t make it innocuous.

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Gorgeous new Philly juice spot “Ryan Crown’s Club” opened just a couple weeks ago and is already bursting with positive vibes.

Jar Bar, one of my favorite spots in the city to grab a bite of raw food or juice–the only raw food restaurant in Philly–abruptly packed up and moved all operations to the suburbs last week. While I wish them great success in their new location in Radnor, I was pretty bummed that the options for organic juice in the city had gone from really solid to practically zero overnight. My love and I had actually made plans to grab juice at Jar Bar with Rachel, a beloved childhood friend I hadn’t seen in years, and suddenly our juice venue of choice had closed without warning! Oh no!!

Luckily–fatefully–Ryan Crown’s Juice Club opened just a couple weeks ago and I’m SO glad we were able to down our liquid nutrition and spend some quality time there! Ryan Crown’s Juice Club is a gorgeous spot nestled in a great location, the Sweat Fitness on 15th and Arch. The bar is a tiny oasis packed with beautiful living accents like plants suspended above the bar in mason jars.  The juice menu is the product of mastermind owner and creator Ryan, who lovingly prepares extraordinary libations for his juice delivery clients and juice bar patrons. Ryan is seriously knowledgeable about juicing. Got acne? He’s got a genius herbal and veggie blend to take care of that. Craving green juice that tastes amazing? Grab the Lemon Ginger Blast, Ryan’s signature drink that recently landed him “Best Green Juice In the City” accolades from Philadelphia Magazine.

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Ryan Crown’s Juice Club menu is artfully and thoughtfully designed to meet your taste and health needs.

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Ryan looks peaceful in his cilantro and aloe plant juice kingdom.

Drinking "Alkaline Forest" at Ryan Crown's Juice Club.

Drinking “Alkaline Forest” at Ryan Crown’s Juice Club.

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Taking sweet and lovely wheatgrass shots prepared–on the house!–by Ryan.

The alternate title for this blog post was going to be “If You Juice It, They Will Come,” because I’ve decided that despite our unhealthful gastronomy reputation, Philly has a growing nutrition awareness current flowing through it and just needs the right visionary leaders and businesses to usher in a new age of wellness here. I’m super grateful for the new Ryan Crown’s Juice Club, and will be sure to patronize it as much as I can. Let’s all support this gorgeous new Philly institution and get our drink on, yeah? Check out the juice bar and juice delivery service by clicking here.

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Even with all the weird Landmark stuff and employee lawsuits and everything else I still think Cafe Gratitude is the shit (pardon my French, I’ve just returned from a trip to Montreal!) and I will forever love the restaurant, its creators, the cookbooks from the brand, and everything about the experience of dining there.

While living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I had easy access to four Cafe Gratitude locations: the Berkeley restaurant, which was super near my apartment while I was living in Berkeley, the San Francisco Harrison St. location while I was living in the Mission District, the Whole Foods in-store mini cafe in Oakland near my nonprofit jobs in downtown Oakland, and the San Rafael location while visiting The Chocolate Puma in gorgeous Marin.

When I recently lived in LA for a few months, the Larchmont Cafe Gratitude location nourished me after yoga classes and fueled me for my journey to Babycakes NYC a few hundred feet down the road. Cafe Gratitude has since closed some locations and branched out to Los Angeles and beyond (Kansas is SO lucky!) and I’ve moved to the East Coast (for now!)

Since re-locating to Philly, I’ve really been craving the “I Am Whole” bowl for a while. While I’m due to return to LA to eat at Cafe Gratitude visit my incredibly amazing brother Asher, I decided that it’s time I make the dish from scratch and stop relying on the amazing chefs at Cafe Gratitude to get my Whole fix. I own the I Am Grateful cookbook and it has a super detailed version of the entree mapped out, and though I’ve glanced at it plenty of times while searching through for other recipes, I’ve found it difficult to bring myself to take all of the elaborate steps necessary to make it.

Tonight, I decided to make a super-easy, inauthentic but delicious version of the “I Am Whole” bowl. Instead of using the recipe in Cafe Gratitude’s cookbook (which I highly recommend picking up, by the way!) I winged it and took shortcuts and the results were really delicious. The dish wasn’t quite as awesome as the dish at the restaurants–the kale wasn’t massaged properly, the Aduki beans came from an Eden Organics can rather than being lovingly stewed, sauerkraut was substituted for the restaurant’s homemade kim chee, I didn’t cut the carrots brilliantly, the tahini sauce was very simple–you get the idea. But still, the results were really solid. I truly am grateful for this dish and the restaurants that inspired it, and invite you to make it for yourself or your family, knowing full well that you’re filling your body(ies) with super yummy whole ingredients!

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Easy Version Of Cafe Gratitude’s “I Am Whole” Bowl (Serves 1, easily doubled)

Ingredients:

Bowl:

1-3 cups Raw Kale

1/2 cup quinoa

1/4 cup aduki beans

1/4 cup raw sauerkraut

1 carrot, chopped into little pieces

2 strips raw wakame, pre-soaked and cut into little pieces

Nori strips (optional for garnish)

Sauce: *Note: You’ll have leftovers of sauce if you use these proportions, I just wasn’t sure how to make a smaller amount*

2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup raw cashews

1 tsp tamari

1 Tbs chickpea miso

1 Tbs tahini

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Instructions:

Blend the tahini-garlic sauce and prepare all other ingredients (cook the aduki beans and quinoa, pre-marinate the wakame, etc.) Layer the bowl as such: Add raw kale to the bottom of your bowl. Next, add quinoa, aduki beans, wakame, carrots, and sauerkraut and nori strips if using. Then, drench in glorious tahini-garlic sauce. Enjoy!

Question: Do you have a favorite dish from a restaurant that you’ve made before or are interested in making? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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