Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spanish Tortilla with Red Bell Pepper and Peas

This tasty vegan recipe was inspired by a dish from the episode, "Egg Dishes with an Accent" on America's Test Kitchen.

Not to be confused with the flat round bread eaten in Mexico, in Spain, a tortilla refers to a dish very much like an Italian frittata. Traditionally made with eggs, a classic Spanish tortilla can be served warm or at room temperature, as an appetizer or along with a salad as a light entrée. My version was veganized with help from the basic omelet recipe in Vegan Brunch.

This recipe does call for quite a bit of olive oil, so it's definitely not McDougall friendly. But the oil is necessary to make the potatoes very creamy and to keep the tortilla from sticking to the pan when it's time to flip it over. I was having a friend over for dinner and decided it was a good time to try something new. We both agreed that this dish was as delicious as it was colorful. The recipe will serve 4 as a light entrée or 6 as an appetizer.


6 tablespoons (divided) plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1½ lbs Yukon Gold potatoes (3 to 4 medium), peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices
1 medium onion, halved and sliced thin
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves
1 lb fresh (not asceptically packaged) silken tofu
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp fine black salt (kala namak), plus extra for sprinkling
½ cup chickpea flour
1 Tbs arrowroot or cornstarch
1 red bell peppers, chopped
½ cup frozen peas, thawed


Toss 4 tablespoons oil, potatoes, onion, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper in large bowl until potato slices are thoroughly separated and coated in oil. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Reduce heat to medium-low, add potato mixture to skillet, and set bowl aside without washing. Cover and cook, stirring with rubber spatula every 5 minutes, until potatoes offer no resistance when poked with tip of paring knife, 22 to 28 minutes (it’s OK if some potato slices break into smaller pieces).

Meanwhile, chop garlic in a food processor, then add the tofu, nutritional yeast, 2 tablespoons olive oil, turmeric and black salt. Puree until smooth. Add the chickpea flour and cornstarch and puree again for about 10 seconds, until combined. Make sure to scrape down the sides. Add a bit of water (up to 1/4 cup), if necessary to make the batter pourable.

Pour tofu batter into a large bowl. Using rubber spatula, fold hot potato mixture, red peppers, and peas into tofu batter until combined, making sure to scrape all potato mixture out of skillet. Return skillet to medium-high heat, add remaining teaspoon oil, and heat until just beginning to smoke. Add tofu-potato mixture and cook, shaking pan and folding mixture constantly for 15 seconds. Smooth top of mixture with rubber spatula. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook, gently shaking pan every 30 seconds until bottom is golden brown and top is lightly set, about 3-5 minutes.

Using rubber spatula, loosen tortilla from pan, shaking back and forth until tortilla slides around freely in pan. Slide tortilla onto large plate. Invert tortilla onto second large plate and slide it browned-side up back into skillet. Tuck edges of tortilla into skillet with rubber spatula. Return pan to medium heat and continue to cook, gently shaking pan every 30 seconds, until second side is golden brown, about 2 minutes longer. Slide tortilla onto cutting board or serving plate and allow to cool at least 15 minutes. Cut tortilla into cubes or wedges.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Book Review: Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows by Melanie Joy, PhD

"Never underestimate your power to change yourself."
~Dr. Wayne Dyer

What is the belief system that enables us to love some animals and eat others? Social psychologist and professor of psychology and sociology Melanie Joy calls our underlying assumptions about meat eating (eg, that it's natural for us, it's a given, and it's the way things are and the way they've always been), carnism. This pervasive ideology is ingrained in us from earliest childhood by our parents, teachers, friends, and community. Insidious industry slogans that proclaim that "Milk does a body good" and "Meat is Real Food for Real People," continuously condition us into believing that without animal products, we would wither and die (or at the very least, become sick or frail). How ironic, when just the opposite is true.

In Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows Joy reminds us how these messages further ingrain in us the false belief that eating certain, "inferior" animals is ethical and appropriate. But why only certain animals? Why is a pig thought to be less intelligent than the family dog? (Actually, pigs are even smarter than most dogs.) And why do we believe that certain animals like chickens and fish are not capable of feeling pain and fear, when science and logic tell us that they do? Such cultural ideas are transmitted and repeated over and over, spreading like viruses—duplicating and infiltrating every aspect of our lives. They become so completely entrenched in us, we never stop to think about the impact our adherence to carnistic ideology has on ourselves, the animals, or the planet.

Ten billion animals are (deliberately) slaughtered for food in the US every year. While the vast majority of them either have feathers or live in the sea, how many of us know that each year millions of factory-farmed egg-laying chickens suffer uterine prolapse or death by wood chipper? How many of us know that hundreds of billions of dolphins, sharks, sea turtles, seals, whales, and other "nontarget" fish get tangled in nets and hooked by long-lines, are thrown back into the water, and left to slowly bleed to death?

"If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities." ~Voltaire

Such enormous disregard for life is made possible by our attachment to carnism, an ideology that is, as Joy points out, an oppressive cultural mind-think, as noxious as racism. In the same way that Nazis were able to murder Jewish children and then go home and hug their own sons and daughters, we cause the suffering of cows, pigs, lambs, turkeys, chickens, and fishes, eat their bodies, and then hug our dogs and cats.

But Joy does not lead us on this journey into mass delusion without also providing a light to guide us out of the darkness. She reminds us how all systems of violent oppression depend on both their invisibility and our ability to dissociate or find elaborate rationalizations to keep from recognizing the suffering of socially sanctioned inferiors. In Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows she unmasks the underlying mythology that keeps us chained to carnism, and by naming and witnessing it, offers us a clear path from apathy to empathy.

Special thanks to my friend, Arnold, for sharing the following poem:

Learning to Be a Dutiful Carnivore
By Jane Legge

Dogs and cats and goats and cows,
Ducks and chickens, sheeps and sows
Woven into tales for tots,
Pictured on their walls and pots.
Time for dinner! Come and eat
All your lovely juicy meat.
One day ham from Percy Porker
(In the comics he's a corker):
Then the breast from Mrs. Cluck
Or the wing from Donald Duck.
Liver next from Clara Cow
(No, it doesn't hurt her now).
Yes, that leg's from Peter Rabbit
Chew it well; make that a habit.
Eat the creatures killed for sale,
But never pull the pussy's tail.
Eat the flesh from "filthy hogs"
But never be unkind to dogs.
Grow into double-think-
Kiss the hamster; skin the mink.
Never think of slaughter, dear,
That's why animals are here.
They only come on earth to die,
So eat your meat, and don't ask why.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The New So Delicious Coconut Water Sorbet Is a Refreshing Tropical Treat!

It may be a bit too soon to be dreaming of summer, but yesterday was a somewhat balmy, sunny 65°—a perfect day to start cleaning up the garden and then reward myself with a refreshing treat. After all, it's never too soon to be dreaming about the next delectable dessert option, and after all that yard work, I deserved a sweet treat! So Delicious Coconut Water Sorbet was recently launched at Natural Products Expo West, where it received the prestigious "Best in Show Award" from VegNews magazine. (You can view the complete list of winners here.) Since I couldn't get to Expo, I feel fortunate that I was able to get my hands on some award-winning sorbet. (Living in Eugene has its advantages!)

What can I say about these luscious-looking frozen treats before I even taste them? Well, they're made with organic coconut water (yum!), sweetened with organic fruit juice, and weigh in at only 100 calories and zero grams of fat per serving, which makes them a perfect guilt-free indulgence.

Pictured above clockwise from top left, Hibiscus, Lemonade, Raspberry and Mango.

These sorbets certainly look seductively beautiful, but how do they taste? The one issue I've had with any sorbet I've eaten in the past is that it usually tastes very sugary to me, with the sweetness overpowering the fruit flavor. The only exceptions I can recall are a chocolate sorbet I can no longer find and a coconut sorbet I tasted in Hawaii—both were exquisite. (Flavor hints to Turtle Mountain). My guess is that the other sorbets relied on cane sugar as a sweetener and probably contained too much of it. While there's nothing subtle about the fruit-juice-sweetened flavor of So Delicious Coconut Water Sorbet, the fruit flavors take center stage, while the sweeteners and coconut water assume supporting roles. This gives these sorbets a uniquely fruity, full-bodied aliveness.

Which brings me to the Hibiscus flavor ... My first spoonful reminded me of the fragrantly floral flavor of hibiscus tea, but with overtones of deep, dark berry. What a delightfully lovely taste! The Lemonade flavor is definitely tangy. I might prefer it ever-so-slightly sweeter, but my husband Mark, who loves all things lemony, thinks it tastes perfect! My favorite flavor is Raspberry. It's got a rich, bright, eye-opening kind of thing going on—just the kind of sweet flavor I wouldn't mind having in my mouth all day long. And the Mango tastes just like they'd taken some sweet, ripe mangoes, puréed and then frozen them. There's just the slightest hint of coconut, which makes this flavor all the more enticing. Is there anything that doesn't taste better when it's made from coconut? I doubt it!

I'm told by the good folks at Turtle Mountain that So Delicious Coconut Water Sorbet will start appearing on store shelves in the next few weeks. Keep your eyes open for them. They will make your mouth very happy!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Happiness in a Bottle!

I've tasted lots of bottled coconut water sold under many different brand names. The reason I haven't written about them before is because I couldn't get excited about any of them. For some unknown reason, none tasted like coconut water from a coconut, and they all seemed a bit sour to me. But during my recent visit to Grass Valley and Nevada City, I discovered Taste Nirvana Real Coconut Water. I was very thirsty, so I bought a bottle. OMG! My tongue was met with sweet, sweet coconut water—as if I'd just cracked open a fresh young coconut!

I have no idea why this coconut water tastes so much better than others I've tried. Maybe it's because it's bottled in Thailand, while others are bottled in Brazil. I had to read the ingredients twice to make sure they hadn't added any sugar! Sure enough it read: "Natural Coconut Water" and nothing else.

I read somewhere in the company's marketing materials that Real Coconut Water is like a $2 plane ticket to Thailand. Well, I've always wanted to go to Thailand. So hold on a sec while I take a sip, close my eyes, and imagine I'm on a beach on Phuket Island ... Okay, slather me with coconut oil, I'm there!

It's comforting to know that you can still find truth in advertising. The cap says, "Happiness in a Bottle." It must be true. You should see the smile on my face right now.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Happy Persian New Year Biscotti!

Ahhh...spring! The magnolias, cherry blossoms, and daffodils are in full bloom ... I love Persian New Year (called "Nowrouz" in Farsi), which begins on the vernal equinox marking the beginning of spring, which often coincides with my birthday. But this year, Nowrouz is today, and my birthday is tomorrow. My dear Persian friend Parandeh's birthday is the day after mine. So this time of year is always filled with great joy and gives me many reasons to celebrate.

Since Parandeh lives way on the other side of the country, this time of year also makes me miss her terribly. It's been decades since the last time we spent our birthdays and Nowrouz together. So when I stumbled upon this incredible recipe for Biscotti with a Persian Twist on a blog called "West of Persia" written by Bria Takavoli, it seemed like the perfect thing to cheer me up.

The combination of cranberries, pistachio, and cardamom in a nearly fat-free cookie is even more delicious than it sounds. They'll be really wonderful with nice cup of chai.

A big kheilie mamnoon and Nowrouz mobarak to you, Bria. And Tavolodat mobarak va Nowrouz mobarak, Parandeh, azizam! To everyone else, Happy Spring!

Monday, March 15, 2010

And the Winners Are ...

Congratulations to Andrea Miller and Carly Johnson! You've each won 5 free coupons for your favorite So Delicious and Purely Decadent products! Thank you to everyone for making this contest such a huge success. Stay tuned for the next one!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Love So Delicious and Purely Decadent? Here's Your Chance to Win!

What is your heart's desire? Is it a big bowl of Purely Decadent Cherry Amaretto Coconut Milk Ice Cream? Or how about a cup of rich dark chocolate hot cocoa made with So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk Beverage? Want to keep those healthy intestinal flora in balance? Then maybe you're craving a tall glass of So Delicious Strawberry Coconut Milk Kefir? Or for the sheer joy of it, perhaps you're wishing you had a box of those delectable little So Delicious Coconut Milk Minis in the freezer. Well, now you can win all of the above, with FIVE, yes, count 'em, 5 free product coupons from Turtle Mountain that are good for any of their delicious frozen or refrigerated items.

The more friends you tell about this contest, the more chances you have to win!

First leave a comment here after you have either tweeted this contest or posted it to your Facebook Page. You can even post it on your own blog or website, but only leave me one comment saying which you did. Your comment could say, “Hey, I Tweeted, I posted to my Facebook page, AND I posted to my own website.” That’s fine. But please, only leave one comment here.

Now, here’s where the friend part comes in to play…
When you tweet or post to your Facebook page, blog, or website, make sure you tell your readers to MENTION YOU when they come here to enter the contest. 

For example, you can post this, and ask your friends to do the same, when it's their turn to post:

“I just entered to win 5 FREE product coupons from Turtle Mountain, but I need YOUR help. Go to Hungry Vegan, comment to win, and mention that I sent you." 

Or you can tweet this:

"Let's win some So Delicious & Purely Decadent #dairyfree! Go to http://bit.ly/aBU6iT to enter the #contest, say I sent you & we can BOTH WIN"

The idea is to get your friends over here and have them leave a comment that says that YOU sent them. Why? Because if their comment is randomly chosen as the winner, BOTH of you will win five free product coupons! That means you could have hundreds of chances to win!

So call your Aunt Shirley and tell her to enter. Email your high school friends from 1973. Tweet about this contest, and broadcast it to your friends on Facebook and Myspace. The more friends you bring to the party, the better your chances of winning some of the most delectable dairy-free goodies on Earth!

You may be wondering, what happens if the random winner comment is one of the comments that only says something like “I Tweeted..” – Still great news for you … YOU WIN and you get to choose a friend to give the other five coupons to! 

Now, here's the biggest RULE of the game—you MUST either FOLLOW @SO_Delicious on Twitter OR be a FaceBook Fan. One or the other. I will be verifying this once the winners are randomly selected. If you follow @So_Delicious on Twitter and follow as a Facebook fan, you'll double your chances of winning!

Sorry Canadian friends, but this contest is only open to those with U.S. Postal addresses, as coupons are only good for products purchased within the United States.

So let the contest begin, and good luck!!!

Oh, and one more thing, please tell me WHO you are on twitter or FB. :)

Update: Okay, we're gonna wrap this up on Sunday, March 14th at 11:59 PM PST!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Living la Vida Vegan in Eugene—Well, Almost

I am really excited about the opening of The Divine Cupcake at 1680 W. 11th in Eugene. The day they opened there was a line out the door for the free cupcakes they offered each new customer who came by to celebrate the grand opening. It was a wonderful opportunity to showcase to the local community just how delicious vegan can be.

Divine Cupcakes have moved a long way up the yummy scale since I first tasted them at a local market a couple of years ago. In all fairness to DC, it is possible that the cupcakes I tasted in the past sat too long on store shelves before I bought them. But with their own retail outlet, that's no longer an issue. Their cupcakes are moist and delicious, and the their frosting is sweet and butter-creamy. I love all the cute names they come up with for their array of flavors like Thai Me Up, The Electric Pumpkin, and Bananarama. I'm not sure I'm brave enough to try them all, (Thai Me Up is a peanut curry-flavored cake topped with peanut buttercream frosting sprinkled with ground chili peppers), but you can sure count me in for a Lavender cupcake the very first time I see one.

With so many flavors to choose from, it's difficult to imagine ever growing tired of stopping by for a treat. And I really like the fact that they offer minis as well as full-sized cupcakes for those of us attempting to watch our calorie intake, and sugar-free and gluten-free choices, as well.

The interior is pretty and inviting—it's the kind of place I could get used to hanging out in, far too often for my own good. If you love cupcakes, check out Divine Cupcake.

Seemingly overnight we received the blessing of not one, but TWO vegan food carts in Eugene! Viva Vegetarian Grill (formerly known as "The Tofurky Food Cart") is located in a parking lot on the east side of Willamette at 12th.

The day I visited Viva Vegetarian Grill, it was a typical cold and overcast winter day. But that didn't stop patrons from lining up outdoors for lunch.

Owner Dave Wagenheim has been feeding hungry country fair attendees and Eugene residents and visitors since 2006. His fun-food menu includes vegan versions of the classic Tempeh Reuben, Footlong Hotdog, and Philly Cheesesteak!

The other vegan food cart is Cornbread Cafe, located on the southeast corner of 13th and Oak.

The lovely ladies there offer some of the tastiest vegan comfort food I've ever tasted.

With down-home choices like Southern Fried Tofu and Barbeque Pull-A-Parts, you can get yours as a plate or sandwich, with sides of Mac UnCheese, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, or Fries and Uncle Todd's Mess O'Greens or Sassy Slaw. I always opt for the BBQ plate with perfectly cooked greens, yummy Mac UnCheese, and some really darn delicious cornbread.

Finally, I visited Holy Donuts. Before I say what I'm about to, let me preface it by saying that anyone who has ever read any of my books, newspaper or magazine articles or blog posts knows that it is not my style to criticize. I generally only write about things I am crazy about, because my philosophy is that there is enough negativity in the world. But I'm pretty disappointed and confused right now. Holy Donuts has been marketing and wholesaling vegan donuts around Eugene for the last two years and finally opened a retail location on Willamette. I couldn't wait to check it out and was immediately enchanted with their insanely cute little courtyard and shop.

But my cheerful mood soon evaporated when I noticed that there were little signs saying "dairy and egg-free" on only some of the donuts in the display case. Wait a minute, isn't this a vegan donut shop? I mean that's what their facebook logo and business card said:

So I asked the gal behind the counter, "Are all of your donuts vegan?" Well, everything except the maple twists, which have have bacon on them," she answered. Bacon? Are you kidding me? "Why?" I asked. "Because people like it," she matter-of-factly replied. (I later learned that they sometimes use eggs, too.) When I heard this news, I felt deeply disappointed, because my need for consistency/logic/compassion was not being met. I'm all for supporting businesses that are moving towards veganism, but away from it? Sorry, but I don't think there's anything "holy" about animal flesh on any baked good, especially one that is touted as vegan. I had just taken a bite of a little banana cream donut when I received this news, and it put me off completely. I just couldn't take another bite. Owner Karen Nunley, who is not vegan, assured me that she has issues of any potential cross-contamination from animal products under control. That may bring comfort to many vegans, but it doesn't bring any comfort to me. Apparently, I'm not the only one who was duped into thinking the donuts at their shop are vegan:


If you're going to build your business as a vegan company and then change the game plan, that just feels like bait-and-switch marketing to me. Bacon? I completely understand that most people who eat donuts in Eugene (or anywhere else for that matter) are not vegan. But no one was ever offended by a donut that didn't contain meat, eggs, or dairy, especially if it tasted delicious. On the other hand, I think that you run a risk turning off the very heart and soul of your market if you start including animal products after years of promoting them as vegan. I also realize that there are some vegan businesses that simply don't survive. But in my experience, they have failed to thrive for reasons having nothing to do with being vegan. But maybe I'm wrong. What do you think? Am I being overly critical? Have you ever experienced bait-and-switch marketing? How did you feel?

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Sweetly Delicious Goodies from Allison's Gourmet and The Winners Are ...

Allison Rivers Samson is beautiful, successful, compassionate, and a gifted gourmet vegan chef. Her cookies, brownies, and confections have made believers out of vegans and non-vegans alike. For years she has proved that vegan treats can taste just as good if not better, than baked goods made with milk, butter, and eggs. I have been a fan from the beginning. So when Allison surprised me in Nevada City with a gift box of her delightful treats, I was completely blown away. I also knew that I would want to share the contents with you here.

Beautifully wrapped with her new signature lavender bow, it's hard to believe that I resisted the temptation to open the box before I got home.

Peering inside, I was met with a feast for the eyes—a gorgeous assortment of cookies, candies, and truffles!

And to my sheer delight, hiding beneath one package of cookies was a delectable pecan brownie! (I made work of it too quickly, I think!)

I cannot begin to describe how moist, chewy, rich, and delicious all of Allison's baked treats are. I've yet to taste one of her cookies or brownies that I didn't love, and she's always inventing exciting new seasonal items and flavors. (Can you say "Vanilla Chai Fudge"?)

This was the first time I tasted her chocolate truffles, and I kid you not when I say that they are the most sensuously sweet truffles this side of heaven. Mark and I had a hard time deciding which ones to eat first, as they all looked and sounded so divine: Hazelnut, Chocolate Caramel, Almond, Mocha, Pecan, and Peanut Caramel. Biting into one was like sinking my teeth into nirvana.

I'm not usually big on caramels, but the caramel truffles were insanely delicious. And the Chipotle Caramel Candies, made with coconut milk and agave nectar are lovely. Their sweet-and-spiciness reminded me of a sultry summer day in New Mexico.

Whether you're looking for the perfect gift for someone special or want to treat yourself to an epicurean indulgence, check out the exquisite offerings at Allison's Gourmet. Emblazoned on Allison's homepage are the words "Unadulterated Decadence," and that just about says it all.


Congratulations to the winners of my little Sweet and Sara's mini marshmallows contest ... Kelli and Tweedle! (Generated by random.org) Kelli, I need your email address. Tweedle, please check your email inbox!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

A Contest! How Would You Like to Win Some Sweet Little Vegan Pillows from Heaven?

Back in 2004, I reviewed my two favorite vegan marshmallows made by Vegan Supremes and Tiny Trapeze. They were very, very good! But by early 2006, they were nowhere to be found. The reason: It turned out that the vegan gelatin manufactured by Emes Kosher Foods, which both companies used to make their delicious treats, was suspected of not being vegan. According to several sources, the gelatin tested positive for the presence of animal protein, and it looked as though Emes Kosher-Jel was not so kosher (or vegan) after all. (You can read the whole distasteful story here.) Without a suitable replacement for this vital ingredient, both companies stopped making vegan marshmallows, and vegans went back to doing without. And sadly, this put Vegan Supremes (a woman-owned vegan company), out of business. It looks as though Tiny Trapeze is gone, although I'm not sure their departure is at all related to the vegan gelatin fiasco.

But then a very industrious and creative vegan baker named Sara Sohn spent over a year in her Long Island City (my hometown) kitchen, quietly developing a genuinely vegan gelatin that would enable her to create a soft, chewy, meltable vegan marshmallow. And what a success her effort was! Sweet and Sara Vegan Marshmallows are a delightful gourmet vegan treat that taste incredibly delicious. These heavenly little pillows come in some very luscious flavors: Vanilla, Toasted Coconut, Cinnamon Pecan, and Strawberry. They are packaged in 8.5 oz containers which hold about 16 large marshmallows (the perfect size for toasting!) Sara also makes the most incredible S'mores I've ever eaten> They're so rich, I can't possibly eat a whole one in one sitting, which means that I get to have my S'more and eat it, too!

More recently, Sweet and Sara introduced Mini Marshmallows that are the perfect size for hot cocoa (and for satisfying any marshmallow cravings in fewer-calorie bites!) Sara sent me a few packages to try, and I have to say they are every bit as soft and sweet as the full-size marshmallows, and far better tasting than any other vegan marshmallows I've tasted.

So how would you like to win your own bag of vegan mini marshmallows? I've got three bags, and I'm sharing them with my readers. (One for me and one each for two of you!) To enter to win, simply visit the Sweet and Sara website and then come back here and leave a comment telling me about any of their products you've tasted, or which of their goodies sound most exciting to you. I'll pick 2 winners at random, so please make sure I can contact you by email.

I made my hot cocoa with So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk Beverage and Stevita Delight Chocolate Powder. It's very chocolatey, rich, and delicious! Oh, and did I mention the cute little Sweet and Sara vegan Peeps you can buy just in time for Easter? Go check them out!