Thursday, December 26, 2013

Comfortably Yum
Review and Giveaway

What happens when a trailblazing vegan chef/entrepreneur and award-winning food columnist sets out to write her very first cookbook? Magic happens. Pure magic. Fans of Allison’s Gourmet vegan bakery, confectionary, and chocolaterie and Veganize It! column will be blown away by the recipes in Allison Rivers Samson’s gorgeous new ebook Comfortably Yum

Within its brightly colored pages, you’ll be treated to a collection of vegan comfort-food recipes that will transport you and your taste buds back in time. As a lucky taste tester, I had the privilege of getting a sneak peek of all the recipes, and with dishes like Magic Mac ‘n Cheese, Homestyle Veggie Pot Pie, and Open-Faced (Save the) Tuna Melts, I felt like a kid again, savoring (and reliving!) many of my most cherished childhood food memories.

A few of my friends have asked if I have a favorite recipe. But it’s impossible to choose just one, when every recipe is such an outta-the-park winner. However, given my insatiable sweet tooth, I wouldn’t mind being stranded on a remote desert island with Allison’s Chocolate Salted-Caramel Pudding Parfaits. Who doesn’t love chocolate pudding? This one is so velvety rich and chocolatey, it just melts in your mouth. And the salted-caramel pudding is the closest I’ve had to butterscotch in twenty-five years. (Yikes! I’m smacking my lips just thinking about it!)

 Photo: Nicole Axworthy from Comfortably Yum ©Allison Rivers Samson 

Each recipe is exquisitely photographed and will whet your appetite for all the deliciousness to come. (You can feast your eyes on all of the photos here.) And as though a kitchen angel had landed on your shoulder, Allison has included her Top Tips for Culinary Success in the Kitchen. These wonderful little pearls of wisdom will save you oodles of time and energy and ensure that you’ll have delicious success with all of your cooking and baking.

Allison's long-awaited first e-cookbook, Comfortably Yum, features 10 scrumptious recipes that will delight not only vegans, but omnivores, too. It will  make such a lovely gift for you or someone you love, and right now you can grab a copy for $5 off the regular price! If discovering 10 tantalizing gluten-free, whole-food, plant-based recipes that will win over even your most hard-to-please non-vegan friends isn’t enough to inspire you to grab a copy this very instant, perhaps knowing that you can do good while eating fabulously will. $3.00 of every purchase will be donated to Animal Place, a wonderful farmed animal sanctuary in Grass Valley, California.

Feeling lucky? I’m giving away a copy of Comfortably Yum to two readers!  Simply tell me which of the recipes you’re most excited to try in a comment below for a chance to win! (Please make sure to include your email address if I don’t already have it, so I can get your book to you!) 

Update: Congratulations to HilLesha and Terri Cole! You each won a copy of Comfortably Yum: 10 Whole-Foods Vegan Recipes for Everyday Yum! Please check soon for an email from Allison Rivers Samson! Thank you so much to everyone for taking part in the giveaway! 

Comfortably Yum: 10 Whole-Foods Vegan Recipes for Everyday Yum

Magic Mac ‘n Cheese
Open-Faced (Save the) Tuna Melts
Meltable American Cheese Slices
Homestyle Veggie Pot Pie
Clam-free Chowder
Vegan Egg Salad
Beet Burgers
Caesar Salad
Chocolate Salted-Caramel Pudding Parfaits 
Chocolate-Glazed Fudge Cupcakes

To earn additional entries, you may also do one or more of the following. Please leave a separate comment for each item you complete: 

1. Follow this blog.
2. Follow @vegangail on Twitter. 
3. Follow @allisonsgourmet on Twitter. 
4. Follow @yourmostvibrantlife on Twitter. 
4. "Like" Allison’s Gourmet on Facebook. 
5. “Like” Your Most Vibrant Life on Facebook. 
6. I’m tweeting to #win a copy of @AllisonsGourmet’s new ebook Comfortably Yum. You can win a copy too: #vegan #tunamelt

Happy holidays, and good luck!

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Great Vegan Bean Book
Review and Giveaway

Nutrition. Flavor. Value. Variety. Versatility. Sustainability. What's not to love about beans? Along with other legumes, beans have been harvested among the Earth's most ancient cultures for a very long time—as far back as the Bronze Age. But aside from baked beans, refried beans, and bean burritos, many of us really don't know beans about beans. And if you ask most people to list their top ten favorite foods, I would venture to guess that beans would not hold a spot on most lists. Take me, for example. I really do love lentils, I favor fava, I'm crazy about cannellini, and I'm goofy for garbanzos. But when it came to knowing about the amazing variety of beans and the multitude of ways they can be deliciously incorporated into just about every kind of recipe imaginable, well, what I knew about beans didn't amount to a hill of beans. 

Beans are inexpensive and packed with nutrients. They're low in fat, high in protein and fiber, and are a great source of B vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidents. Some beans are also a great source of other vitamins, like edamame, which has a whopping 30 mcg of vitamin K per quarter cup. Just about every culture is known for its own special bean dish, and according to, beans are a perennial staple crop that can be harvested non-destructively. Like all legumes, they are one of the world's basic foodstuffs, and the harvesting of beans does not kill the plant nor prevent future harvests.

Kathy Hester's latest book, The Great Vegan Bean Book contains more than 100 delectable recipes that will revolutionize your relationship with beans. 

The recipes are broken out into type of dish, and you'll love the cute chapter titles like "Noshy Beans" and "Portable Beans." I wanted to try something completely different from my typical bean fare, which consisted mainly of black bean burritos and various kinds of dal, so I started with the recipe for Pineapple Rum Beans Over Coconut Lime Sweet Potatoes. The flavors were every bit as lusciously tropical as they sound! I'd show you my own photo, but it doesn't compare to RenĂ©e Comet's lovely image from the book:

From breakfast (oh yeah, I'm making those Enchanted Vanilla Pancakes!) to dessert (there's a little sneak peek below)—The Great Vegan Bean Book contains an enticing collection of recipes that will quickly elevate your opinion of the humble little bean.

As a side note, I  admit that I have come to rely a bit to heavily on canned beans. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But my friend Allison, has been telling me for years that there's nothing like the flavor, texture, and extra nutritional boost you get from cooking beans from scratch. And while I don't own a pressure cooker (Allison's preferred method, because they cook up in just 35 minutes!), I do own a slow cooker (thanks to falling in love with Kathy's first book, The Vegan Slow Cooker), so I followed the directions for slow-cooker beans at the beginning of The Great Vegan Bean Book and have been cooking up perfect beans every time! There are cooking instructions for every kind of bean imaginable—Rattlesnake beans? I had no idea! Nor had I ever heard of Barlotti, Apaloosa, or Goat's Eye beans! (Have you?)

I couldn't recall the last time I'd enjoyed beans as part of a dessert, so I couldn't wait to try Kathy's creative recipe for Vanilla and—my heart be still—Rose Water Parfaits. Sandwiched between bands of vanilla cookie crumbs, the lusciously creamy layers are made with lentils, tofu, and coconut milk yogurt (I used So Delicious, of course!) delicately flavored with vanilla and rose water. I improvised a little by mixing in tiers of strawberry sauce infused with Rose Petal Jam from Premrose Edibles. These parfaits would make such an exquisite finish to a special meal, an indulgent breakfast, or a delightful midday treat!

If you love beans and especially if you think you don't, get your hands on a copy of The Great Vegan Bean Book! Your taste buds will thank you, and your appreciation for one of nature's most perfect foods will soar. And if you'd like to win a copy, I'm giving one away. Here's all you need to do:

Update: Congratulations to Lizzie Bordello, the lucky winner of The Great Vegan Bean BookHuge thanks to everyone for participating in the giveaway! More fun reviews and giveaways to come, so please stay tuned ... Lizzie, please check your email inbox for a message from me on how to claim your prize. 

Leave a comment below telling me what your favorite bean dish is.* To increase your chances of winning this fabulous book, you can also do one or more of the following, and leave a separate comment for each item you complete:

1. Follow this blog.
5. Tweet the following message: I'm Tweeting to win a copy of Kathy Hester's The Great Vegan Bean Book via @vegiegail #vegan #recipes #book #giveaway

Good luck!

*Sorry international friends. This giveaway is open only to US residents.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Nut Butter Universe
Review and Giveaway

I am honored and proud to welcome back one of my very favorite vegan cookbook authors, Robin Robertson, with a guest post about her brand new book, Nut Butter Universe. Her latest contribution to making the world a more deliciously compassionate place contains a collection of tantalizing recipes.

I couldn't wait to dig into this book, and headed right for the luscious-looking recipe for Penne Primavera with Avocado Cashew Cream. It was, in a word, divine.

Every recipe in this book sounds incredibly enticing—from Walnut Butter Banana Bread to Peach Almond Butter Quesadillas, your mouth will water just from reading the Table of Contents. So without further ado, here's Robin:

Beyond the PB&J

Not long ago, the only nut butter sandwich around was the traditional PB&J made with peanut butter, grape jelly, and white bread. Did you know that before the age of 18, the average American child consumes 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?

But why settle for tradition, when you can put your own spin on the classic sandwich. These days, you can choose from over a dozen kinds of nut butters, paired with an orchard full of jams, jellies, preserves, and marmalades, and served on a wide variety of whole-grain breads. You can also get even more creative by adding another flavor layer to your sandwich filling by sprinkling your spreads with anything from dried or fresh fruits, to crushed nuts or chocolate, or even shredded carrots or cooked vegan bacon. Even Elvis got creative with his now-famous grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich (which he reportedly ate with a knife and fork.) 

Variations on a PB&J are, in fact, infinitely versatile when you consider that by combining a different variety of nut butter for the peanut butter, and a different flavor of jam, jelly, or preserves, combined with different “add-ons” as well as types of bread, you could potentially enjoy more than 32,130 different variations of America’s favorite sandwich.

The sandwich recipes in my new book, Nut Butter Universe, include:

·      My Favorite PB&J
·      Grilled Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich
·      Flower Power Almond Butter Sandwich
·      Walnut Butter Waldorf Wraps
·      Open-Face Peanut Butter and Tomato Broil
·      Chocolate-Hazelnut Paninis
·      Roasted Eggplant Pita with Garlicky Lemon-Almond Sauce
·      Peach-Almond Butter Quesadillas

And one of my personal favorites, these Thai Tofu-Vegetable Wraps...
Photo by Lori Maffei

Thai Tofu-Vegetable Wraps

Filled with baked tofu strips, crisp fresh vegetables, and a creamy, zesty sauce, these wraps make a yummy lunch or a light supper. You can add more vegetables, if you like. For an even quicker version, you can use a package of ready-made baked marinated tofu, although making it yourself is more economical. In place of tofu, you can substitute seitan or soy curls. To make them gluten-free, use gluten-free flatbreads.

8 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into strips
2 tablespoons wheat-free tamari, divided
Salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons cashew butter
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 to 1 teaspoon natural sugar
1 teaspoon chili paste, or more to taste
1 cup shredded lettuce
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup bean sprouts (optional)
2 tablespoons finely minced red onion or scallion
2 lavash flatbreads or large flour tortillas

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or spray it with cooking spray. Arrange the tofu strips on the pan, drizzle them with 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bake until lightly browned, turning once about half- way through, about 20 minutes total. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
2. In a small bowl, combine the cashew butter, tamari, lime juice, sugar, and chili paste. Blend well.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the lettuce, carrot, bell pepper, bean sprouts, if using, and onion. Toss to combine.
4. Spread the cashew mixture onto each flatbread, dividing evenly. Top with the vegetable mixture, spreading on the lower third of each wrap. Top the vegetables on each flatbread with strips of the reserved tofu.
5. Roll up the sandwiches and use a serrated knife to cut them in half. Serve at once.
Serves 2

From Nut Butter Universe, by Robin Robertson. Copyright ©2013 Robin Robertson. Reprinted with the kind permission of the publisher, Vegan Heritage Press.

Update: Congratulations Billie Jean! You're the lucky winner! Please send me an email with your postal address, so I can send your book to you! Thank you everyone for participating! Stay tuned for more delicious fun to come! Giveaway: Almond butter, cashew butter, or good 'ol peanut butter? Simply leave a comment below telling me your favorite nut butter for a chance to win your very own copy of Nut Butter Universe.*

And to earn additional entries, you may do any or all of the following, and please leave a comment for each item you complete:

1. Follow Robin Robertson on Pinterest.
2. Follow @GlobalVegan on Twitter.
3. Follow this blog by clicking the "follow" link in the upper left-hand corner of this page, subscribing via email, or through Networked Blogs.
4. Follow @Vegiegail on Twitter.
5. Tweet the following message: Win a copy of @GlobalVegan's new book Nut Butter Universe: Easy #Vegan Recipes w/Out of This World Flavors! #giveaway

Please make sure I have a way to contact you if you're the lucky winner, (leave me your Twitter handle or email address or make sure it's linked to your blogger account.) Good luck!!!
*Sorry international friends. The giveaway is open to US residents only.