Monday, January 24, 2011

In a State of Sipping Bliss
Glass Dharma Straws Review and Giveaway!

What's your favorite beverage? Is it a smoothie, bubble tea, iced coffee, or a piña colada? Whatever you love, isn't it much more fun sipping it through a straw? I have the cheeriest childhood memories of slurping chocolate milk through flexible paper (and later, plastic) pastel-colored straws. Drinking anything through a straw (even maté tea) just makes me feel like a kid again.

But paper and plastic straws are disposable, and aren't we all looking for ways to live more sustainably? Enter Glass Dharma Straws—They're reusable, sustainable, and beautiful. They're so durable, they come with a lifetime guarantee! If you accidentally damage or break your straw, they will repair or replace it for free! And this is the part I love best: You don't have to choose between paper or plastic anymore!

Glass Dharma straws are also:

• Made in the USA
• Non-porous and hypoallergenic
• Handmade from borosilicate glass—the strongest type of commercially available glass on the market
• Great for all hot and cold drinks
• Perfect in specialty drinks like bubble teas, shakes and smoothies, and iced drinks
• Beautiful in cocktails—they make a highfalutin' accessory to any martini glass
• Kid-friendly and kid-safe
• You can even use them for drinking wine, coffee and tea so you don't stain your teeth. (Okay, maybe you'd raise a few eyebrows sipping your Merlot through a straw. Although maybe not—check out the snazzy little decorative dots number further down in this post.)

If you plan to take your eco-chic Glass Dharma straw with you when you dine out, I encourage you to buy a neat little hemp sleeve carrying case that will fit easily into your purse, pocket, or backpack. You can see mine on the table in the lower right-hand corner of the photo below. I brought my GlassDharma straw with me out to Manola's the other night and enjoyed sipping my Thai iced tea with coconut milk so much more. I already carry my own chopsticks, so why not my own straw? The chopsticks even fit inside the carrying case along with the straw! BYOS, is my new motto when eating out, which stands for: bring your own stuff! Speaking of which, did you know there's a movement to have restaurants encourage patrons to bring their own reusables and even offer reusables for sale as an upgrade to menu items? Check out TakeOutWithout, a company whose mission is to reduce restaurant waste. I learned about them on Glass Dharma's blog.

No, Johnny Depp didn't just walk in to the restaurant. 
I'm simply in a state of sipping bliss!

Glass Dharma straws are available in several sizes, and I really like their smaller gauge (7mm) "shorty" straws. They're 6.25" long and perfect for small children, juice glasses, martinis, and my favorite new grab-and-go beverage: So Delicious single-serve vanilla coconut milk beverage! This straw is thin enough to fit in the little punch-hole where the plastic straw would normally go in. My straw has red decorative dots on it. They also make decorative dots in Green, Blue, Amber, Clear, and Black. Yes, come to think of it, that straw would look quite grand in a glass of red wine!

I recently got a bag of acai powder from Mountain Rose Herbs and thought I'd use it to make a breakfast smoothie. Since I am prone to gulping down my smoothies rather than sipping them, I thought that sipping one through a Glass Dharma straw might encourage me to slow down and savor the the flavor. Check out the vibrantly beautiful fuchsia-like color of this one:

To make this smoothie, I blended together 1 cup cranberry juice, 1 tablespoon Acai berry powder, 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, 1/2 cup frozen raspberries, and 2 teaspoons agave.

I've had no problem cleaning my GlassDharma straws either by hand or in the dishwasher (which we seldom use). But if I ever forget to rinse one out right after using it, it's kind of nice to have a cleaning brush on hand. They're available as an optional accessory, but one is included when you buy a set of four straws.

I'm really tickled about my new glass straws. Like Dorcas Lane from the BBC series, Larkrise to Candleford, these straws are my one true weakness. (If you've never seen the show, this character says that about everything she loves.)

Would you like to win your very own Glass Dharma straws and make them your "one true weakness"? One lucky reader will win a $25.00 Gift Certificate from GlassDharma! To enter, visit GlassDharma's website, and then leave a comment here telling me which straw you'd most like to own or give as a gift. The winner will be selected in a random drawing and notified by email. Glass Dharma will also email the gift certificate to the winner.  (What I'm saying here, is please make sure that I can access your email address when you enter!) Open only to US and Canadian residents, please. Contest ends 1/31/11 Good luck!!!!

If you'd like to earn extra entries you can do any and/or all of the following: (You don't have to do any of these to win, but you'll earn 1 additional entry for each one you do and let me know about in your comments.)

• Follow this blog.
• Tweet this: Make sipping your smoothie sustainable and fun! Win a $25 gift certificate from @GlassDharma Straws!
• Follow Glass Dharma on twitter
• Follow me on twitter
• Mention this contest on your blog and include a link to this post.
• Post a link to this contest on your Facebook page.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Pizza, Some Sushi, and A Winner!

The other night, just by chance, Mark and I created the most amazing Artichoke, Asparagus, Spinach, Sun-dried Tomato, Mushroom, Onion Pizza!

I usually take the time to make homemade dough, but sometimes not. (Mark rolls it out. He has professional pizza-making experience!) Sometimes I have the time to make a homemade sauce, and sometimes not. Either way, homemade pizza is still delicious! And with enough tasty toppings, you don't even miss the cheese! Because friends have been asking for the recipe since I posted this photo on my facebook page, here's the quick and easy recipe for when you're short on time:


1 packaged pizza dough (I like the pizza dough made by a local company, The Bread Stop)
1 16-oz jar Trader Joe's Fat-free Pizza Sauce
1/2 yellow onion, sliced into 1/4-inch rings
8 asparagus stalks, tough ends removed
1 cup spinach, roughly chopped
1 cup baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 15-oz can artichoke hearts, drained and sliced into 1/4"-thick rings
sundried tomatoes
fresh basil, roughly chopped


Preheat oven to 450°F. Roll out pizza dough and place on a lightly-oiled pizza pan or pizza stone. Bake on the bottom rack for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and gently press down any parts that have risen.

While dough is baking, using a large skillet, gently cook onions in a tablespoon of olive oil, or for a fat-free version, use 1/4 cup water.  (If you have more time, you can caramelize the onions for even more flavor!) Remove from heat, and set aside. 

Place asparagus spears in a steamer basket, and steam for 3 minutes, just until bright green in color. Remove from pot, and set aside.

Spread sauce over par-baked pizza dough, and then evenly place asparagus spears over pizza, so that each pizza slice will have an asparagus spear at its center. Arrange spinach, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, onions, and basil around asparagus spears, decorating as you please. Bake on center rack for an additional 15-20 minutes, until outer crusts begins to turn slightly golden-brown. 

Monday nights are sushi night at our house! It's a cooking-free night for me, and an opportunity to indulge in my favorite veggie sushi rolls: Gail Rolls (avocado, cucumber, and inari), and Crop Burning (marinated shitake, avocado, cucumber, and hot sauce) which we take-out from Sushi Domo. Aren't they pretty?

Okay, enough about food, already. Let's get to the good stuff! The winner of a copy of my favorite new cookbook, Appetite for Reduction is ....~Cee~! Congratulations! Please check your email in-box for my message. Thank you to everyone who participated in this contest. Stay tuned for more to come!

Friday, January 07, 2011

Appetite for Reduction
Book Review and Giveaway!

I adore the cover artwork, don't you? It's so beautiful, I'm inspired to write another book just so I can ask Lisa Diercks to design the cover. Wouldn't you love to own a copy of Appetite for Reduction? Read on for a chance to win one!

Did I mention that Isa wrote this book just for me? Well, not really. It only feels like she wrote it for me. Actually, she wrote it for her own personal reasons. But let's be honest: Who among us hasn't eaten more than our fair share of vegan cupcakes and cookies? (Thanks in no small part to Isa.) After all that indulgence, I celebrate Isa for creating Appetite for Reduction and for filling it with so many gorgeous, delicious, low-fat, low-calorie, winning recipes.

AFR is written in Isa's characteristic easy, breezy style,—and it's peppered with lots of helpful sidebars, like the "Ingredient Scavenger Hunt". The introduction to each recipe is sprinkled with amusing tidbits like "Don't be like Dick Cheney, cook your pasta properly!" This will make you smile a lot, which is a very good thing to do when you're playing with food.

You won't find any tempting desserts in this book, but what you will find are more than 270 pages of super-satisfying soups, salads, sandwiches, sides, stews, bakes, bowls, casseroles, curries, and pasta dishes, many with whimsical names like Unfried Refried Beans, Cajun Beanballs and Spaghetti, and 2nd Avenue Vegetable Korma residing in equally adorable-sounding chapters like "Rub-Your-Tummy Veggies" and "Talk Pasta to Me (& Noodles!)." These dishes are made with easy-to-find ingredients, and you won't have to spend hours in the kitchen preparing them (many can be made in under 30 minutes!). The 14-page insert of full-color photographs will make your mouth water, even if you're not hungry and will inspire you to roll up your sleeves and get cooking. (The photo of Spinach Lasagna with Roasted Cauliflower Ricotta & Spinach is jaw-droppingly spectacular.)

If you haven't already sampled the recipe for Isa's OMG Oven-Baked Onion Rings, you'll want to go straight to page 55 as soon as you get this book in your hot little hands. (Or maybe you'd like to take a quick detour to the color insert facing page 146, where you'll find a mouth-watering photo of Isa's onion rings.) These babies brought back happy childhood memories of paper-mâché masks and huge side orders of onion rings from the Belaire Diner—but without the newspaper and the high-fat grease. Making them was gobs of fun. Eating them was even more fun!

Deciding what to make next was a bit more challenging. OK, maybe not so much. Everybody knows how much I love barbecue. I honed in on the recipe for Tamarind BBQ Tempeh and Sweet Potatoes. This was seriously the most delicious barbecue sauce I've ever eaten and by far, the easiest to make. I marinated the tempeh for over an hour and was glad I did, because the sexy-sweet, tangy-tart flavor of tamarind made the sauce really sizzle. This dish would have been great with onion rings, but since I'd already eaten like a hundred of them that day, I served it with Polenta Stuffing (one of Isa's recommendations.) It wasn't even Thanksgiving, but it sure seemed like a holiday meal!

I really wanted to try the recipe for Quinoa, White Bean, and Kale Stew, but I didn't have any white beans on hand. So instead of substituting, I chose Smoky Tempeh and Greens Stew, as I always seem to have tempeh in the fridge. (Interestingly, Isa says you can substitute white beans for the tempeh in this dish, if you happen to be out of tempeh). The seasonings in this dish (think: lots of smoked paprika) were very mellow, but blended together beautifully. Only Isa could get me excited about a dish that has lima beans in it. And this one tasted better with every bite!

Mark and I were really in the mood for pasta. But which recipe? (Pasta de Los Angeles and Creamy Mushroom Fettuccine were both contenders). I decided on Fusilli Roasted Veggie Primavera, because fusilli is fun to say and tickles your tongue when you eat it. This was one of those dishes that makes you want to sing Italian love songs while you're making it, and makes you feel like you're in Little Italy while you're eating. In a word: magnifico!

If you want to treat your taste buds to lots of delicious new recipes and your be very good to your waistline at the same time, don't wait another second to get yourself a copy of Appetite for Reduction. And if you'd like to win your very own copy, here's all you have to do:

1. Follow this blog.
2. Leave a comment on this post telling me what dish sounds most appealing to you and/or why you'd like to own a copy of this book.
3. Make sure I have a way to get in touch with you to let you know you've won.
4. That's it!

I'll use the magic random number generator to select a winner next week. Good luck!