Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Vegan Slow Cooker
Book Review and Giveaway

I was bubbling with anticipation for the release of my friend, Kathy Hester's first book, The Vegan Slow Cooker: Simply Set It and Go with 150 Recipes for Intensely Flavorful, Fuss-Free Fare Everyone (Vegan or Not!) Will Devour. You may wonder why, because when I first heard that she was writing a book, I didn't even own a slow cooker. But I've been a fan of Kathy's blog, Healthy Slow Cooking, ever since I learned that she can whip up the most enticing oatmeal recipes in her slow cooker. (Rather, in one of her many slow cookers!) She drew me in with her recipe for Carrot Cardamom Oatmeal (inspired by Indian Carrot Halwa), and she kept me coming back to her blog every day with recipes like Vanilla Fig Oatmeal Topped with Baklava Filling and Pear Applesauce Cake Oatmeal. Although you can make any of her recipes on the stove top, since Kathy created them in her slow cooker, how could I not get one? Here's a photo of the Slow Cooker Kheer Oatmeal I made back in March. I think I ate this for breakfast everyday for two weeks! It was just that yummy!

When my copy of The Vegan Slow Cooker arrived in the mail, I had to stop what I was doing, rip open the package, and start picking out recipes to try! I was completely floored by the stunning collection of intensely flavorful recipes and gorgeous photographs nestled within its pages. (Kudos to photographer Bill Bettencourt. The photo of Balsamic Brussels Sprouts is downright sexy!) While I couldn't wait to dive in to each and every recipe in this book, quite possibly the most exciting find for me was the recipe for Tea-Scented Tofu, which I made with Mountain Rose Herbs Lapsang Souchong tea. This tea's strong, smoky fragrance is reminiscent of a campfire, and it enveloped our home throughout the night. I never imagined that I'd ever be making my own smoked tofu, but the results were so much more delicate and delicious than anything store bought, I don't think I can go back to eating packaged smoked tofu again.

Inspired by the mouthwateringly appealing photo on page 119, and being a fan of sweet-and-sour dishes, with my homemade Tea-Scented Tofu all ready to go, I set out to make the recipe for Sweet and Sour Smoked Tofu. Prepared with just a few simple ingredients, this dish was colorful and flavorful.

Confession time: Before becoming vegan (many moons ago), my boyfriend and I would dine out weekly weekly at an elegant (read pricy) restaurant. During these hedonistic excursions into gluttony, we'd polish off two bottles of chardonnay and indulge in the most decadent appetizers and entrees, finishing off these dinners with one of everything from the dessert cart. (I kid you not!) I won't go into the gory details about all of the animal products that comprised such meals, but the Eggplant Rollatini appetizer is the dish I remember most fondly. Each forkful of Kathy's Italian Eggplant Casserole with Cashew-Tofu Ricotta was every bit as delicious and transported me back to a very happy place and time.

It would never have occurred to me that one could make bread in a crock pot. Nor would I have ever thought of making cornbread with fruit. Again, Kathy amazed and delighted me with her Scrumptious Strawberry Cornbread recipe. Its perfect tender crumb and sweet corn flavor pair perfectly with strawberries. A little shmear of Earth Balance Coconut Spread, and I was on cornbread cloud nine!

Dessert in a slow cooker? Yep, you can make that, too! By now my readers know that I'm a rice-pudding fool, and this luscious Mango Coconut Rice Pudding not only tasted sensational, but the whole house smelled like coconut while it was cooking!

No need to worry if you've never cooked in a crock pot before. The Vegan Slow Cooker contains all the handy tips and slow-cooker basics you'll need to start creating mouthwatering recipes for everything from simmering soups to decadent desserts. So dust off your mother's crock pot—you know, the one that's been sitting idly in your cupboard—or buy yourself a new one. (They're not outrageously expensive.) Just think how nice it will be to wake up to a hot breakfast or have dinner waiting for you when you come home from work! With the The Vegan Slow Cooker, you'll be able to start enjoying delicious home-cooked meals that are ready when you're ready to eat!

I'm so excited about this book, I'm giving away a copy to one lucky reader! Simply leave me a comment telling me why you enjoy cooking in a slow cooker or why you think you might like to start! (Please make sure I have a way to contact you when you win.) That's it!*

Update: Congratulations to Sarah, who won a copy of The Vegan Slow Cooker! Please send me your postal address, so I can send it right out to you. You are really going to love it! Thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway! Stay tuned for more great giveaways to come ...

You can also earn additional entries by doing any or all of the following. Just leave a comment for each one you do:

1. Follow this blog by clicking the "follow" link in the upper left-hand corner of this page, subscribing via email, or through NetworkedBlogs.
2. Tweet the following message: Win a copy of The Vegan Slow Cooker via @Vegiegail and dinner will be ready when you're ready to eat! #vegan #giveaway
3. Like Healthy Slow Cooking on Facebook.
4. Follow @Vegiegail on Twitter!
5. Follow @geekypoet on Twitter!

And to whet your appetite even further, following is the for recipe Mango Coconut Rice Pudding from Kathy Hester's The Vegan Slow Cooker, excerpted by arrangement with Fair Winds Press. Copyright © 2011.


2 mangoes, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 can light coconut milk
1 1/2 cups vanilla-flavored non-dairy milk (I used So Delicious Sugar Free Vanilla Coconut Milk)
1/2 cup sugar or maple syrup or agave
1 tsp vanilla extract


Oil the crock of your slow cooker. (I used coconut oil.) Add all teh ingredients and cook on high for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Add a little more non-dairy milk if the mixture is not wet or creamy enough.

*Sorry international friends, you must have a valid US mailing address to enter.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

World Vegan Day Super Giveaway!

Happy World Vegan Day! I'm celebrating with a few of my favorite things! OK—I'm not Oprah. But I do love sharing, so I'm giving my readers a chance to win a fantabulous prize package containing every one of my favorite things! So let's get right to it! Here are the very special gifts that await you ...

1. So Delicious Coconut Nog and Mint Chocolate Holiday Beverages

Not only are these the most decadent-tasting holiday treats to come along in ages, (this is seriously the best vegan nog I've ever tasted!), you can also make some spectacularly festive and delicious dishes with them, too—like this fabulous French Toast! (Imagine waking to the sweet smell of cinnamon and nutmeg wafting through the house on a chilly morning!)

Or how about this luscious Mint Chocolate Macaroon Tapioca Pudding? The recipes for both dishes are right on the cartons! Visit So Delicious Dairy Free's website, and explore their many delicious dairy-free possibilities! 

What's not to love about these luscious little morsels? These guilt-free treats were created out of a daughter's love for her father and her desire to help him heal and achieve vibrant health. And now you can enjoy them, too! They're salt-free, low in sugar, and made with yummy wholesome ingredients like brown rice, organic coconut, almonds, and flax meal. Whether you buy the mix or the morsels, you will enjoy eating them with your favorite dairy-free milk! Here's the yummy batch I made with pumpkin and cranberries, along with a delicious glass of sugar free coconut milk!  Visit Mac-N-Mos and check out Mac's favorite flavor!

When I first posted about these lovely, useful, eco-friendly tea carriers, I had just become the proud new owner of my very own Libre Tea Glass. It's lightweight, durable, practical, and beautiful. More than six months later, I am still madly in love with mine, and I rarely drink tea from a cup or a mug. Is it because the Libre Tea Glass is made from lightweight BPA-free polycarbonate surrounding a glass interior that keeps nine ounces of tea warm for up to an hour? I'm not sure. I think it's more likely that I just love the way it looks and how comfy it feels in my hand. Sipping herbal tea from a Libre Tea Glass makes me feel special. This is the most elegant way I know to tote around your coconut nog, hot cocoa, or chai tea on a crisp autumn or cold wintry day! And WOW! I just noticed they have a new glass 'n poly mug! I'm going to need one of those! To see how cute it is, click here! 

4. Dark Chocolate Fantasy Stevia-Sweetened Hot Cocoa Mix

It has become my bedtime ritual: sipping a cup of hot cocoa made with Dark Chocolate Fantasy, So Delicious Sugar-free Vanilla Coconut Milk, and a sprinkle of Sweet Spice. It's sweet, chocolatey, sugar-free, creamy, rich, deliciousness. It feels like a naughty indulgence, but each cup contains just 54 calories! (There are only 9 calories in a one-tablespoon serving of Chocolate Fantasy!) Treat yourself to a cozy chocolate indulgence! You can order your very own Chocolate Fantasy right here on their website

5. Chocolate Brownie from Allison's Gourmet 

Speaking of chocolate, I've been a fan of Allison's Gourmet for more than a decade. Nowhere else will you find the kind of vegan baked goods and confections that will exceed the expectations of even the most discriminating palate (vegan or not!) Whether you choose Mexican Chocolate, Toasted Coconut, Pecan (my favorite!), or Original, you will think you've died and gone to chocolate vegan heaven when you bite into one of Allison's deep, dark, sin-sationally scrumptious chocolate brownies. Want to explore all of Allison's tantalizing options? Satisfy your sweet tooth with everything from cookies to candies and so much more. You can even choose a Cookie, Brownie, or Fudge of the Month Club and start enjoying your favorite delectables discounted and delivered each month right to your door! Visit Allison's Gourmet for details.

6. Glass Drinking Straw from Glass Dharma

I am crazy about my Glass Dharma Straw. Their motto is "sip the world, taste the difference." And you really can taste the difference when sipping your favorite hot or cold beverage through one of these elegant, eco-friendly straws. They come in several sizes, some are straight and others have the classic bend, and their smaller gauge "shorty" straws are perfect for children, juice glasses, single-serve beverages, and even martinis! They also make decorative dots straws like the ones you see above, in Green, Blue, Amber, Clear, and Black. I drink my morning smoothie with a Glass Dharma straw, and I take one with me when I go out to eat. It makes drinking Thai iced tea (one of my few decadent indulgences!) even more special. Get yourself a Glass Dharma Straw, and discover just how much fun sipping your smoothie (or anything else) can be!

So many fabulous vegan cookbooks, so little time ... (sigh!) It would be impossible to choose just one favorite, but when it comes to preparing knockout meals using simple, inexpensive ingredients in lightning-fast speed, Vegan Unplugged: A Pantry Cuisine Cookbook and Survival Guide by Jon and Robin Robertson is my go-to choice.

Don't let the book's unassuming cover deceive you! Although it may look like something you may only want to keep on hand for emergencies, consider that anytime you are short on time can become a "what the heck will I make for dinner tonight?" emergency! Within the pages of Vegan Unplugged you'll discover a bounty of taste-tempting recipes, like this delightfully colorful Tuscan Chickpea Stew. Made with garbanzos, potatoes, artichoke hearts, and roasted red bell peppers, this dish showcases how easy it is to create a spectacular meal using ingredients you can always keep on hand.

Whether you're the kind of person who plans ahead for emergencies, or you just want to sink your teeth into some super delicious, easy-to-prepare dishes, Vegan Unplugged is a must-have. You'll come back to its recipes again and again. Want to learn more about this wonderful book and several other great vegan titles? Head on over to the blog at Vegan Heritage Press!

8.  Vegucated DVD

What happens when you challenge three meat-and-cheese-loving New Yorkers to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks? Documentary filmmaker Marisa Miller Wolfson's award-winning tour de force is taking America by storm!

Travel with veg-novices Brian, Ellen, and Tesla as they uncover the hidden side of animal agriculture and discover for themselves just what's inside the burgers, cheese, and egg omelets formerly resting on their plates! With compassion, creativity, and a healthy dose of comedy, Vegucated is an inspiring and insightful account of the journey towards creating a healthier, more sustainable, and kinder world, one delicious bite at a time. Take a peek at the trailer, and find a screening near you by clicking here.

Finally, a vegan lip balm that is smooth (not sticky!), shiny, sleek, and long-lasting! And wait until you get a load of all the amazing flavors, (like vanilla, chai spice, black cherry, almond, and chocolate!)

I love my tasty grapefruit flavor lip balm. It smells just like freshly cut fruit, and makes my lips feel silky smooth! Visit Hurraw's website, and explore all the yummy options! The only problem you'll have is deciding which flavors to choose!

10. Mountain Rose Herbs Firefly Chai and Make Tea Not War Ceramic Mug

I am a chai drinker from way back when, but caffeine and I don't get along. So when I discovered Mountain Rose Herbs Firefly Chai, it was like a gift from the gods. Its perfect balance of exotic spices and red rooibos tea delivers the most intoxicating fragrance and flavor experience. (Think: bliss in a cup!) For a delightful steamy, hot November brew, check out this recipe for Pumpkin Pie Coconut Chai!

Visit the Mountain Rose Herbs website, and immerse yourself in the most heavenly, organic herbs, spices, teas, essential oils, and skin, body, and pet care products on Earth! 

Update: The giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Lauren, who pens Everyday Revelry! She won the whole vegan enchilada! Lauren, please send me your postal address, so we can send you all of your lovely prizes. Thanks so much to everyone who made this the most amazing giveaway ever! Stay tuned for my next post, and more chances to win some of my very favorite vegan things!

Well, there you have it, dear friends! One lucky winner will take home a prize package containing ALL TEN of my favorite things! To enter, browse the wonderful prize sponsors' websites by clicking on the links above. Find one or more fabulous things, and leave a comment here telling me which vegan-wonderful things you might  like to give as gifts this year! That's it! (Please make sure I have your email address so I can contact you when you win!) And if you would like to earn extra entries, do any or all of the following, and leave me a comment for each one you do:

1. Follow this blog by clicking the "follow" link in the upper left-hand corner of this page, subscribe by email, or through NetworkedBlogs.
2. Tweet the following message: It's Vegan Awareness Month! Enter to win the super #vegan prize package on @Vegiegail's Hungry Vegan Blog! 
3. Follow @Vegiegail on Twitter!
4. Like So Delicious on Facebook or follow @So_Delicious on Twitter.
5. Like Mac-n-Mo's on Facebook or follow @macnmomorsels on Twitter.
6. Like Libre Tea on Facebook or follow @libretea on Twitter.
7. Like Chocolate Fantasy on Facebook or follow @fantasyDrink on Twitter.
8. Like Allison's Gourmet on Facebook or follow @AllisonsGourmet on Twitter.
9. Like Glass Dharma on Facebook or follow @GlassDharma on Twitter.
10. Like Vegan Heritage Press on Facebook or follow @GlobalVegan on Twitter.
11. Like Vegucated on Facebook or follow @vegucated on Twitter.
12. Like Hurraw on Facebook or follow @HurrawBalm on Twitter.
13. Like Mountain Rose Herbs on Facebook or follow @MtnRoseHerbs on Twitter.

* Prize package contains the following:
1. Two VIP coupons redeemable for free So Delicious for Coconut Nog and Mint Chocolate Coconut Milk Beverages or the products of your choice. (Expires 12/31/11.)
2. One package of Mac-n-Mo's Morselicious mix.
3. One Libre Tea Glass.
4. One package of Dark Chocolate Fantasy.
5. One individual chocolate brownie from Allison's Gourmet.
6. One Glass Dharma straw.
7. One copy of Vegan Unplugged.
8. One DVD copy of Vegucated. 
9. Three flavors of Hurraw Lip Balm.
10. One 3-oz bag of Mountain Rose Herbs Firefly Chai and one Make Tea Not War ceramic mug.

Prizes will be sent to the winner individually from each of the prize sponsors. Please allow up to four weeks for delivery. (Vegucated will  be shipped in December.)

Sorry international friends, you must have a valid US mailing address to be eligible. Canadian readers may enter to win the Libre Tea Glass.