April 28, 2018

Chickpeas get deliciously hip and snacky

I'm still making my way through the last samples brought home from Vegfest 2018 — I'm a slow snacker, I know. I had a few packets of Hippeas to try, but I had avoided opening them. Maybe it was because I had had a less than pleasant experience with a different chickpea snack, and the Hippeas just didn't seem appealing. I love homemade crispy chickpeas, but haven't been impressed with commercial ones. But, I needed a little something fast to eat, and grabbed a bag of Hippeas organic chickpea snacks — not what I was expecting. I was picturing little, round, toasted chickpeas, but I got a crunchy puffed snack that grabbed my immediate attention.

These crispy little crunchies were delicious. They have a definite cheesy, nutritional-yeasty flavor that I found irresistible — kind of like their bright orange supermarket counterparts, but, you know, organic and vegan. My sample bags were tiny, and I wanted more. We looked at our local co-op and at Whole Foods, but couldn't find them. Then, we went to do our bi-monthly Costco shopping, and were wandering down the snack isle, with Hippeas the farthest thing from our minds, when what did we see sitting on a shelf but a big bag of Hippeas! You just never know what you'll find at Costco — it's always a treasure hunt. (You also don't know if the great product you found will ever be there again!) I now have two bags in the pantry.

I've only tried the cheddar version, but they come in assorted flavors — sriracha sunshine, far out fajita and a few others. Amazon has them if you can't find them locally. They are GOOD! I admit, for the past two nights I had some for dessert after dinner!

I was not asked to write a review. I received my Hippeas as a sample at a public event. All opinions are my own. The Amazon links earn me a few cents if you use them to purchase the product, but mostly I include them as a convenience to readers.

April 24, 2018

Food and weather

Simple split soup based on this recipe from Bittersweet Blog. Perfect for a chilly day.

 Last Monday when I walked to yoga it was 42˚, raining and windy. Although hardly anyone in Seattle deigns to carry an umbrella, I brought one along because I didn't feel like doing yoga in wet clothes. I was thinking about a dog walk recently where my pants were soaked from the knees down, and a repeat was unappealing. I brought an umbrella because, seriously, I'm way beyond the need to look 'Seattle cool.' This sucks, I was thinking as my umbrella blew inside out, and I struggled to get it righted again. Bleh. I didn't want to arrive at yoga in a bad mood, so I began looking for positive notes and cheerful signs along the way.

My 'winter' smoothie. Perfect when it's chilly. Recipe follows.
Sign number one. I passed an elementary school where the kids were at recess, running around the yard shrieking and laughing as if it were just a normal day. Wow, I thought to myself, it is a normal day as far as they are concerned. They're from Seattle, what do they know. They were all so happy it couldn't help but shine a little (not-sun) light on me.

Sign number two. An actual light. The yoga class meets in the community center located at the lake, across the walking path from the beach. At the last intersection where I cross the roadway that circles the lake, and enter the path, there's a walk signal operated by pressing a button. Within two seconds of hitting the switch, the traffic light turns red and the walk signal turns on — instant gratification. Press the button, stop the traffic, walk across the street. I love it! I press it even when there isn't any traffic, just in case. It's the little things, right?

Harira with eggplant and chickpeas from Isa Does It. Recipe here. Perfect when
big flavor is desired. You can read my soup review here.
Sign number three. The first view of the lake always gives me a little thrill. Depending on the weather, and time of day, the water has a different look — always unique and beautiful. Last Monday it was deep blue-grey and glowing, in spite of the gloom.

Miso cauliflower gravy from Chow Vegan. With air-fried tofu, steamed broccoli
and something else over rice.

Sign number four. It's a short walk to class once I hit the lake walking trail, and when I arrived on Monday, I was startled to see a woman in a bathing suit heading from the beach into the lake. She went into the water at least up to her waist before I left to enter the building, and was shrieking and laughing. I watched for a few minutes to make sure she was okay, but saw she had a friend (dressed appropriately in a warm coat) watching from the beach, so I figured she was fine, having fun, and not trying to commit suicide.

This Monday, one week later, the walk was completely different. It was in the low 50s when I left my house, the sun was shining, and the day promised to be gorgeous. There was a chilly breeze but that didn't stop the locals from wearing shorts and tees. By the time I walked home it was in the upper 60s, and so warm I took off my coat— finally! Today it's in the 70s, and although the locals are in tank tops, I'm still sporting my long-sleeved tee.  And, in spite of the fabulous warmer weather, I was craving my winter smoothie this morning.

Back in February, I started occasionally making a breakfast smoothie that I could sip for breakfast during the colder months without making my teeth chatter. I've even made it for the grandkids, who now request it. It's so simple I feel silly sharing a recipe, but in fact, I measured and wrote a recipe — and now I can't find it. It doesn't matter, though. When I made it this morning I didn't have a recipe, but it still turned out creamy, comforting, warming and soothing, so let's just say the recipe is flexible. The key is no frozen fruit — the opposite of a traditional smoothie.

Winter (or spring!) smoothie
  • one medium-to-large ripe banana
  • two medjool dates, pitted
  • three fresh strawberries (optional but good, esp. in spring)
  • 1/2 cup plain soymilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • two tablespoons hempseeds
  • one tablespoon chia seed (optional)

Place all in a high speed blender and blend until creamy and smooth. If it's too thick for you, add more soymilk, one tablespoon at a time, but it's meant to be thick and creamy. The result will be slightly warm and delicious. Serves one adult.

April 16, 2018

Kati Vegan Thai and The Cookie Counter ice cream shop

Two vegan food bloggers go out to dinner.

In my last post about Seattle Vegfest, I mentioned that my husband and I attended a cooking demo by cookbook author and blogger, Hannah Kaminsky, and we three later went out to dinner together. We've been blog friends for a long time, and it was wonderful getting to spend real-life time together.

When we went to pick up Hannah from her air B&B, we were startled to find it located in the middle of the steepest, most alarmingly vertical city street we've ever seen in Seattle. It was so steep that my husband, who was driving, refused to drive down it, so we parked at the cross street at the top, and carefully walked down to meet her. I kind of wanted to drive down the slope just to see what it felt like, but I had to settle for walking. I imagine on snowy or icy days, people who live on the block don't bother to get out of bed. In nice weather, if you wanted some exercise, you could just walk up and down the street a couple of times and call it a day. Lovely house, though, and good views!

We had picked a restaurant relatively close by in South Lake Union called, Kati Vegan Thai. It's always a treat to go to a restaurant that's 100% vegan where you don't have to negotiate the vegan options. My husband and I had been there twice before and enjoyed it, and I already knew they had lots of gluten-free dishes. In addition to having good food, it's a pleasant, quiet place where it's possible to have a conversation as well as dinner. My friend Kati recently dined there, and said she was told by the owner that 'Kati', pronounced Kah tee in Thai, means coconut milk. The food at Kati Vegan Thai isn't exotic, heavily sauced and intensely spiced — it's fresh , simple, delicious food.

According to their Web site, "Making it ‘easy’ is keeping things simple, getting it right, and doing it fast. It’s about picking the best ingredients at the open air market every afternoon. It is trusting in technique over ‘secret sauces’. It’s about channeling natural flavor combinations instead of eclectic fusions and rare ingredients from afar. Says Fon, 'Perfect does not have to be complicated!' We believe in honesty and respect for ourselves and our customers. Kati specializes in healthful and flavorful cuisine made with plant-based ingredients. We choose fresh ingredients with only as much cooking oil as needed. We also want to live in a clean and sustainable world, and choose biodegradable products."

We ordered four dishes —

larb makua, a “sautéed eggplant salad with mushrooms, toasted rice, diced green onions & cilantro;”

tom yum, “the classic sour and spicy herbal soup;"

old-style pad Thai, "a uniquely delicious pad Thai found only at Kati;” and pad pak, “broccoli, cauliflower, napa cabbage, and carrots stir-fried in mild garlic sauce.” I forgot to take a photo of the pad pak, the last dish to arrive at the table. Guess I was too busy eating by the time it appeared. I enjoyed all four dishes!

After dinner we began talking about vegan desserts, with an emphasis on ice cream, a subject dear to Hannah's heart. We decided to travel to the Greenwood neighborhood for scoops of ice cream at the Cookie Counter, an all-vegan ice cream parlor and bakery. The Cookie Counter started as a vegan ice cream truck, then crowd-funded into an adorable little shop where they make and sell delicious coconut milk-based ice cream. It was close to closing time when we arrived but there were still lots of people enjoying ice cream, and more people arriving. Ken got a scoop of chocolate in a waffle cone, I got a scoop of mint chip in a cake cone and Hannah got a scoop of mint chip with a chocolate shell in a waffle bowl. I didn't notice the waffle bowls or I would have gotten one, too! Next time.

Once again I neglected my blogger duty to photograph all food I encounter, but Hannah saved the day by capturing an ice cream moment.

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In other news, if you have any interest in entering a vegan recipe contest, read the notice below. There are lots of good prizes!

Call for vegan recipe submissions opens in April with $1,000 as grand prize

DENVER, CO - Kroger’s Live Naturally magazine, along with Kroger’s organic line Simple Truth, are partnering with celebrities and brands within the plant-based market to offer a recipe contest offering $1,000 as the grand prize. A call for recipe submissions began on April 3, 2018 and ends on July 15, 2018.

World-renowned vegan chef and 2017 Vegetarian Hall of Fame Inductee Mark Reinfeld of Vegan Fusion and The Doctor & The Chef created the contest to encourage creativity and create awareness of plant-based cuisine. Celebrity judge Ellie Krieger will help choose the winners. Ellie is the host and executive producer of the new cooking series “Ellie’s Real Good Food” and is well-known from her hit Food Network show.

One winner for the grand prize will be announced on August 15, 2018. Runner-up prizes will include, but are not limited to, the following:

Vitamix Blender
Kroger Simple Truth Goodie Bags & Coupons
Signed copy of Healing the Vegan Way cookbook by Mark Reinfeld
Signed copy of You Have It Made: Delicious, Healthy Do-Ahead Meals cookbook by Ellie Krieger
Vegan Fusion Academy & Vegetarian Times Online Course
The Doctor & The Chef One-Year Vegan Wellness Online Membership
Copies of various plant-based cookbooks from award-winning authors and chefs
Additional prizes from national brands and sponsors
And more...

For contest rules, a complete list of prizes and to submit your recipe, visit www.LiveNaturallyMagazine.com/RecipeContest/.

April 10, 2018

Seattle Vegfest 2018: products we loved

TBV (throwback vegfest) from a 2011 volunteer stint.

On Saturday, we did what we usually do around this time of year, we went to Seattle Vegfest at the Seattle Center. We went early to avoid the crowds, and ended up standing in a long line waiting for the ticket windows to open. Avoid the crowds? What was I thinking? This was the busiest Vegfest I can remember. It was packed with people even just after opening at 10 a.m., which I suppose is a good thing, as it indicates a booming interest in vegan and vegetarian food. Vegfest isn't 100% vegan, but this year it seemed that nearly everything I encountered was vegan. I was astonished at all the food tables filled with vegan, gluten free, organic food. I think there were more than 500 foods to try, and everything I tasted (except one fizzy drink) was delicious. In addition to eating enough food to make me feel full long before we reached the last of the tables, we also attended two cooking demos — one an Indian food demo revolving around chickpeas, and the other a demo by none other than Hannah Kaminsky, the intrepid blogger (Bittersweet Blog) and cookbook author, cooking foods from her latest cookbook, "Real Food Really Fast." I was excited to catch up with Hannah after her presentation, and we ended up going out for dinner (and then out for ice cream!) later in the evening. More about this later.

I'm embarrassed to say I didn't bring my camera to Vegfest, nor did I take a single photo with my phone, thus the 2011 throwback photo at the top of the page. (We were volunteering that day stationed between Mighty-O doughnuts and Theo chocolate — and I personally took full advantage of that positioning.) When I mentioned to my husband that I hadn't taken any photos, he suggested I recycle old ones, as a joke, I think. Well, looks like the joke's on him. This year my blogging credentials are at risk, I know, but I'll try to make up for my failure by showing you some of the finer things we tasted, then bought and brought home, as well as a couple of samples we acquired. And there's also the dinner...

Our first item bought at vegfest was purchased by my husband, when we came upon Doshi,  a company selling vegan leather products such as purses, wallets and belts, as well as backpacks and briefcases. The business is a new one, and we were told they had held up production until they were sure they could provide a quality product that would last. They are an ethical, vegan company giving 5% of all (profitable) sales to non-profits benefiting animals, people, and the environment. Ken bought a beautiful belt, and it does seem to be of excellent quality.

The purses and backpacks were gorgeous, too, if you're looking for a beautiful vegan bag. The wallets were also nice. Look above at their card with contact information if you want to find out more.

Oh boy, these two items were so delicious. Not just delicious, but easy to use. I was especially taken with the Nutra Kik vegetable broth powder from Kawi Foods, which was the tastiest broth I've tried in a long time. It takes one tablespoon per cup of boiling water to make veggie broth, or you can use it straight from the package to add extra flavor to a casserole or whatever. The ingredients are non GMO nutritional yeast, organic onion, sea salt, org. garlic, org. shiitake mushrooms, org. fennel, org. paprika, org. red beets, org. oregano, org. basil, org. cayenne pepper, org. thyme. There are other varieties as well, and I wish I had realized there was a salt-free version. I like to add my own salt.

The cashew sauce from the Beyond Better company, comes in several flavors but I only tasted the original. It was rich and creamy. Homemade cashew sauce is pretty easy to make but if I'm pressed for time I think I'll be happy to have a couple of packets of Beyond Better cashew sauce on hand for quick, savory and cheesy toppings. The ingredients include org. cashews, nutritional yest, org. tapioca, org. sea salt, org. herbs and spices, org. onion, org. garlic, org. acacia fiber (prebiotic), guar gum, org. turmeric, org. yellow mustard, org. cayenne, xanthan gum, vegan lactic acid. Vegan, no gluten, no GMO, no soy, no grains.

Jilz crackerz may be too addicting for me to have around the house. We snagged a few samples, though, so I can indulge a little until they are gone, then we'll see how long I can last before I buy more. They come in three flavors — original cracked pepper and sea salt, Mediterranean, and Tuscan. You can find the crackers on jilzglutenfree.com, on thrivemarket.com, on Amazon, or possibly in a store near you. Check the Jilz website for a list of stores.

We also love Thin Stackers — a thin, small, square flat rice cake from Lundberg. Our sample was red rice and quinoa. I'm very fond of spreading things on crackers.

I wasn't especially hungry when we finally got home from Vegfest, what with all the delicious foods we sampled, but a couple of hours later I felt a little snackish. I ate an entire small bag of crunchy, Lundberg Rice Chips, and I liked them a lot!

I also want to mention the Kite Hill Greek yogurt sample I tried. It was the best tasting and best textured vegan yogurt I've had — not counting my homemade soy yogurt. My husband purchased a few small containers of Kite Hill almond yogurt (plain) — not Greek yogurt — at the co-op, and I liked it almost as much. The Greek yogurt I had tried at vegfest was flavored, but I prefer to buy plain yogurt and add fresh berries and raisins. Do you have a favorite yogurt?

I was planning to write about our dinner and dessert with Hannah, but I think I'm going to have to do it another day. If I don't publish this now, it might be days before I finish!