Monday, April 25, 2011

Winning Sandwich and A Winner!

When I visited Sacramento last year, one of the highlights of my trip was dining at Sugar Plum Vegan Cafe, where I enjoyed one of the most delicious sandwiches that I have ever tasted, a Sweet Po and Avo Panini. (They now call it a "Garnet Yam and Avocado Panini," which is more accurate, but I like the old name better!) Either way, I'm sure it's just as incredible as it ever was, but since I didn't return to Sacramento as soon as I'd hoped to, I decided to venture into creating this sammie at home. Coming up with a tasty Lemon Poppyseed Aioli was a bit challenging, until I figured out that I like it better without garlic. (Typically, aioli is made with olive, oil, garlic, and eggs.) The most challenging part was figuring out how to assemble this sandwich so that it doesn't fall apart when you pick it up. But no matter how I layered the avocado, yam, grilled onions, tomatoes, and creamy dressing, it still was one sloppy sandwich. Some breads work better than others, (ciabatta and hard rolls were no less messy), but the combination of flavors is so delicious, it's totally worth getting your hands dirty. Enjoy!


2 sweet potatoes or yams, cooked and sliced
1 tomato, sliced
1 large red onion, sauteed in water
1 avocado, mashed
Lemon-Poppyseed Aioli (recipe below)
Ciabatta bread, grilled (or use your favorite hearty bread)
Earth Balance for grilling
Daiya cheddar (optional)

Lemon-Poppyseed Aioli:

1 10.5-oz pkg Mori-Nu silken tofu
3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp agave
½ tsp salt
½ tsp dry mustard
⅛ tsp white pepper
2 Tbsp poppy seeds

For the Aioli:

Place all ingredients except the poppy seeds in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Add poppy seeds and pulse a few times to thoroughly combine.

To assemble the Sandwiches:

Lightly brush one side of ciabatta with Earth Balance and place face down on grill. Lay some Daiya (if using) on other side of bread and place face down, and grill for a 1-2 minutes.

Spread mashed avocado over daiya side of bread, layer with yams, onions, and tomatoes, and spread aioli on other slice of bread. Repeat with other sandwich.

I'd like to extend my most heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated in my So Delicious Dairy Free Ice Cream and Sorella Luna giveaway. It was the most successful Hungry Vegan giveaway to date, and I had so much fun sharing all the tasty new ice cream flavors and gorgeous Italian pottery with you. Congratulations to Cara, who won five free So Delicious product coupons and two lovely Deruta ceramic bowls. You can thank the handy-dandy random number generator for choosing your name! Check your email inbox, and as soon as you send me your snail mail address, your goodies will be on their way!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Ice Cream and Art,
An Incredible Giveaway,
and a Winner!

I don't know about you, but I am pretty excited about the new No Sugar Added Coconut Milk Ice Cream from So Delicious. As you may know from my earlier post, after reading Dr. Klaper's thought-provoking article, "Slaying the Sugary Beast," I've been drastically cutting back on my sugar consumption. And as if premature aging wasn't enough reason to tame my sweet tooth, a few days ago, I came across the New York Times article, "Is Sugar Toxic?" after my friend, Julieanna Hever posted it to her facebook page. (It's quite lengthy, so do save it for when you have time to read it.) Sweetened with erythritol (a plant-based sugar alcohol) and monk fruit extract, what a gift to dessert lovers these new No Sugar Added Coconut Milk Frozen Desserts are! They come in these five mouthwatering flavors and in two tasty bars:

The dreamy creamy Fudge Bars taste like frozen chocolate mousse on a stick! And weighing in at just 80 calories, it's a sweet treat I can enjoy every day, if I like! (And I do!)

I couldn't wait to sink my spoon into the Chocolate and Toasted Almond Chip flavors! They have all the sweet deliciousness of So Delicious agave-sweetened ice cream, but only 1 gram of sugar per serving!

The Vanilla Bean flavor just screamed to be enjoyed in a sundae. With just 100 calories per serving, I could add some delicious toppings like sliced banana, chopped walnuts, marionberry syrup, and Soyatoo Whipped Topping for a totally indulgent, but low-calorie Banana Split!

So right about now, I'll bet you're wondering where I got all these pretty bowls from, aren't you? They're on loan from my favorite new art gallery, Sorella Luna in Portland, Oregon. Sorella Luna means "Sister Moon" in Italian, a phrase taken from the Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon of St. Francis of Assisi:

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.

These gorgeous Italian ceramic bowls are hand-crafted and hand-painted, making each piece a unique one-of-a-kind treasure! (And I know what you're thinking—and the answer is: Yes! It will be difficult to part with them!)

Mark and I got to visit Sorella Luna as part of my belated birthday celebration. Being surrounded by so much vibrant color was a breathtaking sensory experience. This feast for the eyes was totally intoxicating, and it was easy to get lost for hours in the beauty and wonderment of all this eye candy!

Speaking of eye candy, gallery owner Giovanni Angello is busy at work on his computer totally undisturbed by me (or at least pretending not to notice), as I'm going around snapping all these photos! And as I watch him I'm thinking how magical it must be to come to work each day surrounded by so much color and beauty! Can you imagine traveling to Italy to find all this stuff? (Dream job!!!)

Looking for an extravagant wedding gift? This jaw-droppingly exquisite place setting not only caught my eye, but had me oohing and ahhing. And although I'm not getting married again anytime soon, it's certainly on my personal wish list!

So now that I've let you in on my two greatest passions, I'm going to share the love. Would you like to win 5 FREE So Delicious product coupons so you can try their new No Sugar Added Coconut Milk Ice Cream? And would you like to own 2 gorgeous hand-crafted ceramic bowls from Deruta, Italy? Then here's all you do: Simply visit Sorella Luna's website, come back here, and leave a comment telling me which items are now on your own personal wish list. (This is mandatory for entry, but fun! Just peruse the fabulous eye candy, and pick something pretty to tell me about!) Please make sure I have your email address, so that I can contact you when you win. Here's what your prize will look like:

I'm so excited about this giveaway, I'm going to give you 10 ways to earn additional entries! For each of the following you complete and leave a separate comment for, you'll earn another entry!

1.  Follow Hungry Vegan by clicking the "Follow" button in the upper left-hand corner of this page.
2. "Like" Sorella Luna on Facebook.
3. "Like" So Delicious on Facebook.
4.  Follow me on Twitter.
5.  Follow Sorella Luna on Twitter.
6.  Follow So Delicious on Twitter.
7.  Follow Hungry Vegan on Networked Blogs.
8.  Post a link to this giveaway on your Facebook page.
9.  Post a link to this giveaway on your blog.
10.  Tweet this message: Enter to #win 5 FREE @So_Delicious coupons and 2 Beautiful @thesorellaluna Italian Ceramic Bowls! #vegan #giveaway (This one earns you two entries!)

Ooh, and I almost forgot some unfinished business—I have a winner to announce from my last post, too! Congratulations to Noelle who pens An Opera Singer in the Kitchen! She won a fabulous Mediterranean Bread-Dipping Gift Set from Olive Grand! Thanks to everyone who participated, and good luck in this week's giveaway!

*Sorry dear international friends. Coupons are only redeemable in the U.S. and giveaway is limited to entries with a U.S. postal address.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Olive Grand Tasting Bar and Delicious Giveaway

I spent the night of my birthday in the emergency room with my husband. (He's feeling much better now!) But as soon as he was well enough, we decided to celebrate my special day in grand style! We began our celebration with a trip to our local Olive Oil tasting bar, Olive Grand. I've never been much of a barfly, but that could all change now. This fabulous marketplace sells the most wonderful olive oils and balsamic vinegars (balsamic is my one true weakness), along with an assortment of teas, pasta, spices, cookbooks, and artistic treasures.

As part of Eugene's First Friday Artwalk, several artisans were in attendance at Olive Grand the evening we visited. Giovanni Angello, owner of Sorella Luna Gallery in Portland was there showing off his spectacularly beautiful imported pottery from Deruda, Italy. (I'll write more about Giovanni and his amazing gallery in a future post, so stay tuned!)

How blessed I feel to have been gifted with this gorgeous cheese plate. Thank you, Giovanni! It makes me wish I had some lovely Dr. Cow Tree Nut Cheeses or Ste Martaan on hand. (Click on the pic to see a more detailed closeup of this colorful plate.)

Michelle McLaughlin of Copper Moon Artisans was there, with some of her partner Chardin Reascos' beautiful pre-Columbian-inspired embossed copper designs on handmade paper made from recycled newspaper and banana leaves.

Owners Tamara and Michael have created a beautiful and inviting haven for foodies and art lovers, alike. But the centerpiece of Olive Grand is the tasting bar, where you can sample shots of delectably flavored extra-virgin olive oils paired with some of the most amazing flavor-infused balsamic vinegars. Here, Tamara is pouring Mark one of his favorites, Blood Orange Olive Oil with Chocolate Balsamic!

As with wine tasting, there's an art to tasting olive oil and balsamic vinegar. You want to first warm the cup between your hands, then swirl the oil and vinegar around, take a small sip, and let the flavors melt on your tongue before swallowing.

I prefer to dip a small piece of Italian bread into the delicious mixture. This time it's a citrusy Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Blueberry Balsamic. It reminded me of a lemon and blueberry poppyseed muffin. So good!!!

The most difficult part of visiting Olive Grand is deciding which flavors to take home with you. They're all so amazing. In addition to the two pairings mentioned above we also tasted Peach Olive Oil with Cherry Balsamic and Rosemary Olive Oil with Chocolate Balsamic, which were both crazy good!

Explore these along with all of their other incredible flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars online at Olive Grand. And don't fret if you find something that sounds enticing. (Did I mention their Chardonnay Wine Vinegar?) They can ship to anywhere in the US and Canada. 

Here's a quick and easy appetizer that will make your tongue dance. You can choose any combination of  olive oil and balsamic. Let your creativity run wild!

Dreamy Basil and Balsamic Bruschetta

1/2 cup balsamic (I used fig)
2-3 Tbs olive oil (I used lemon)
1 large tomato, diced small
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped fine
salt and pepper to taste
10-12 slices Italian or French bread


Place  olive oil and balsamic in a small bowl. Stir gently to combine. Add chopped tomato and basil and mix to coat.  Toast bread slices, and spoon mixture over bread. Serve immediately. Makes 4-6 servings. 

And now for the really fun part: One lucky reader is going to win a fabulous Mediterranean Bread Dipping Set—complete with a delicately balanced Spanish Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a sweet and syrupy Fig Balsamic Vinegar (my personal favorite!), and Olive Grand's own Mediterranean Bread Dipping Spice Blend with hints of Lemon and Garlic. The set also comes with two beautiful pour spouts so you can control how much you pour and savor the precious contents of your new bottles awhile longer. This is truly a Mediterranean food-lover's dream!

To enter to win, simply visit Olive Grand's website and come back here and leave a comment telling me which oil and vinegar pairing sounds most delicious to you. Please do make sure to include your email address in your comment so I can contact you if when you win.

If you'd like to earn additional entries, you can do any or all of the following. (Please leave a separate comment for each action you take, and you'll receive an additional entry for each one!)

1. Follow this blog by clicking the "Follow" link in the upper left-hand corner of this page.
4. Follow me on Twitter.
5. Tweet this message: Enter to #win a Mediterranean Food-lover's Olive Oil & Balsamic Bread-Dipping Set from @Vegiegail & @OliveGrand!

The winner will be chosen at random before my next post. Good luck! Oh, and I'll be sharing the rest of how we celebrated my birthday in my next delicious post. Ciao!

Monday, April 04, 2011

The Perfect "Cup" of Tea and
The Most Sublime Sweetener
Libre Tea Glass and Just Like Sugar

If you've been following Hungry Vegan, you know that I'm in love with glass. I never go anywhere without one of my pretty Glass Dharma straws. Now I'm taking my herbal tea to go with my new Libre Tea Glass. It's lightweight, durable, practical, and beautiful. A BPA-free polycarbonate surrounds a glass interior that keeps nine ounces of tea warm for up to an hour. The pretty flower in the bottle? That's a flowering jasmine tea bud from Mountain Rose Herbs.

I take my Libre Tea Glass with me everywhere! It's so much prettier and more stylish than a coffee mug. It also fits perfectly in my car's cup holder!

Notice the gorgeous detailing on the lid.

Underneath the lid there's a stainless steel filter that allows loose tea leaves to steep. (Alternately, you could place a tea bag inside the glass jar.) Simply fill the glass, wait a minute or two to allow the steam to dissipate, screw on the filter and lid, turn it upside down and let sit for a few minutes, and voila! Freshly brewed tea for one! If you love tea and want to treat yourself to something beautiful and practical, a Libre Tea Glass will make you feel elegant while you sip your favorite tea. It would also make a lovely gift for the tea aficionado in your life. 

Speaking of tea, just how do I sweeten mine? After reading Dr. Michael Klaper's illuminating article, "Slaying the Sugary Beast," I began weaning myself off sugar, and I no longer have these insatiable urges for sweets. That's not to say I won't ever enjoy a little something sweet. I just don't feel like I'm going to rip someone's head off if I can't get to the next vegan Boston cream donut. Stevia is a wonderful option, but its sweetness is very different than that of sugar, and it isn't always an ideal substitute for many recipes. That's why I love Just Like Sugar and have been using it to sweeten everything, not just my tea!

Just Like Sugar's sweetness comes from chicory inulin, a naturally occurring non-digestible carbohydrate. It's also nature's best example of a prebiotic, selectively stimulating the growth of friendly intestinal microflora. So Just Like Sugar tastes sweet, has zero calories, and it's actually good for you! 
And unlike artificial sweeteners, which are not only toxic, but actually increase your desire for sweets, Just Like Sugar satisfies without making you crave more. So now I'm sprinkling Just Like Sugar on my morning grapefruit, and it tastes just like sugar!

And I'm enjoying my bedtime hot cocoa-like beverage made with raw carob powder, Unsweetened So Delicious Coconut Milk, Foods Alive Mesquite Powder, and Just Like Sugar!

The real test was baking with Just Like Sugar. I decided to first try it in Dreena Burton's Chocolate Pumpkin Pie recipe, which called for a scant two tablespoons of sugar. The pie was super rich and sweetly delicious

with a lovely cheesecake-like texture.

I've since made cookies, chocolate pudding, and slow-cooker oats with Just Like Sugar, all with superb results. While Just Like Sugar isn't cheap like sugar, it's comparably priced to stevia, and so much more versatile. If you're looking for ways to reduce your consumption of sweets but still want to have your cake and eat it too, Just Like Sugar may be just right for you!