Creamy Apple (or Pear) Spice Green Smoothie

Every Thursday, Ferry House picks up a half-bushel of local apples and pears from the always-friendly folks at Wilklow Orchards from Vassar’s on-campus farmers market. Our 21 house members easily devour this generous box-full of autumnal fruit within five to six days, employing the crisp, jewel-toned apples and juicy, champagne-fleshed pears as on-the-go snacks or, in my case, in my ubiquitous morning green smoothies.

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While frozen berries had played an integral role in my smoothies since the summer, lately I’ve found myself gravitating toward smoothies that incorporate the grounding fruits of the cooling weather, both because they produce a less chilled smoothie than do frozen berries (a quite positive aspect considering that I prefer not to shiver when eating my breakfast), and because they serve as optimal bases for warming spices like cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Employing Ferry’s apples and pears in my smoothie rotation also greatly reduces the personal money I spend each week on specialty foods such as flax oil and kombucha, since frozen berries tend to cost a pretty penny.

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The recipe below yields a gorgeously creamy, attractively hued smoothie with a flavor nicely balanced between sweet and spicy, mostly thanks to the bite of fresh ginger. Served in a glass or as a Green Smoothie-Granola Breakfast Bowl, this smoothie will assuredly prompt your tastebuds to sing the praises of the fall season. Ooh, a smoothie-themed musical? Hello, Broadway…

Creamy Apple (or Pear) Spice Green Smoothie—Can be Raw, Soy Free, and Nut Free; Oil Free, Low Sodium, Low Fat

Makes one 16-oz smoothie.

Ingredients:

1 large banana, frozen and sliced
1 medium-small apple or ripe pear, diced
1-inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
1 scoop of vegan protein powder (optional; I love Ultimate Meal and Garden of Life)
1 large handful of kale
1 cup non-dairy milk (Edensoy for Ali, forever and always)

Place all ingredients in a blender in the order listed above. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. To make this smoothie into my infamous Green Smoothie-Granola Breakfast Bowl, serve the smoothie in a bowl topped with 1/2 cup granola and a tablespoon of nut butter.

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Recipe submitted to Wellness Weekend and Healthy Vegan Fridays.

Until next time, Ali.

Green Smoothie-Granola Breakfast Bowl

Confession: I harbor a deep-seated adoration of green smoothies. Granted, I may or may not have inadvertently revealed this infatuation in my recent guest post on Green Thickies, or in my detailed instruction guide on How to Make the Perfect Green Smoothie, or in the 37 various green smoothies highlighted on my What I Ate Wednesday Smoothie Compilation. Regardless of how ostentatiously I promote my love affair with green smoothies, or of how many consecutive mornings I’ve reveled in green smoothie goodness for breakfast (please don’t force me to count), the fact remains that nothing provides me more morningtime contentment than diving spoon-first into a brightly hued, creamy, refreshing green smoothie.

One of my favorite smoothies: my creamy Blueberry-Basil Smoothie. Perfect for turning into a Green Smoothie-Granola Bowl!

One of my favorite smoothies: my creamy Blueberry-Basil Smoothie. Perfect for turning into a Green Smoothie-Granola Bowl!

Providing the ideal vehicle for incorporating more wildly nutrient-dense leafy greens into one’s diet, green smoothies can also fulfill one’s daily fruit quota, as well as offer ample amounts of protein depending upon if one chooses to add vegan protein powder, various nut butters, chia and/or hemp seeds, etc. However, while one can easily cram tons of nutrients and energy into one blended concoction, I find that doing so masks the pure and simple flavors of the fruit integral to smoothies—an especial tragedy if the aforementioned fruit consists of summer’s bounty of peaches, berries, plums, and the like. In order to provide for easy identification and full enjoyment of each fruit incorporated in my daily smoothies, I only add six uncomplicated ingredients into the blender each morning: a banana, 1/2 cup each of two different “feature” fruits, a scoop of protein powder (completely optional), a generous two handfuls of chopped kale, and 1 cup of the best soymilk known to humankind. This basic smoothie template ensures a delightfully thick, creamy smoothie bursting with the pronounced flavor of both feature fruits.

I topped this mauve-hued smoothie of banana, blackberry, and cantaloupe with a delicious maple-spice granola and almond butter.

I topped this mauve-hued smoothie of banana, blackberry, cantaloupe, and kale with a delicious maple-spice granola and almond butter.

While scrumptious and nourishing on its own, this unpretentious smoothie tends not to adequately satiate my hunger or provide enough calories to support my quite active lifestyle. To add nutrient and caloric density, as well as a satisfyingly toothsome contrast to the smoothie’s creaminess, I always top my smoothies with a heaping half-cupful of homemade granola and a spoonful of nut butter. These simple (yet oh so tasty) additions transform a healthy morning snack into a nutrient-packed A.M. meal, a humble green smoothie into the ultimate breakfast: the Green Smoothie-Granola Breakfast Bowl.

As I previously alluded, the proper Green Smoothie-Granola Breakfast Bowl requires three components:
1.) The green smoothie.
2.) The granola.
3.) The nut butter.

These three components allow for infinite variations depending upon taste preferences, caloric needs, and seasonal fruit availability. Lately, I’ve blended cantaloupe, blackberries, peaches, and plums into my smoothies; I’ve made numerous adaptations of this fabulous recipe for my granola (using maple syrup instead of honey, of course); and I’ve rotated between peanut and almond butter for my morning nut butter spoonful. I’ve also hugely enjoyed adding handfuls of herbs into my smoothies—fresh thyme, basil, and cilantro all nicely brighten any smoothie. Obviously, your Green Smoothie-Granola Breakfast Bowl will most likely vary immensely from mine—this only showcases the customizable beauty of such a breakfast!

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If you’ve ever experimented with green smoothies for breakfast but found that they didn’t sufficiently quell your hunger, I’d highly recommend offering green smoothies a second chance in the form of a Green Smoothie-Granola Breakfast Bowl. Your tastebuds and tummy will thank you.

Submitted to Healthy Vegan Friday and Wellness Weekend.

Until next time, Ali.

If I Were to Open My Own Vegan Restaurant…

At not more than seven years of age, I typed up a rainbow-hued list of menu items (including “French toast sticks” and “peanut butter sandwich”), stuck it inside a three-ring binder, and scrawled “Seiter’s Place” in Sharpie across the front. At age thirteen, the pique of my Food Network fandom, I received (facetious, I’m sure) confirmation from my mother that I could attend culinary school as long as I earned my undergraduate degree first. After going vegan in my sophomore year of high school, I jokingly entertained requests from friends that I serve as their personal chef and health coach. In other words, I’ve long viewed the culinary arts as a legitimate and desirable career option to pursue.

Fully intending to devote the remainder of my professional and personal life toward bettering the lives of animals, promoting veganism, and fostering a more equitable worldwide society, I envision before me a sea of career paths: nonprofit management; grassroots activism; magazine, book, and blog authorship; restaurant work; the list continues. I’m steadfastly certain, however, that my primary livelihood will include two aspects: writing and cooking.

Thus, at some point in my life (perhaps after writing my first book on the links between plant-based diets and egalitarian societies, or after launching a nonprofit devoted to dismantling corporate seed-patenting and winning back the rights of farmers in the non-Western world to grow their own food…or whatever), I would wholeheartedly love to open a vegan café/community bookstore that hosts social justice-related speakers, book and discussion groups, yoga workshops, and various other educational outreach events—kind of a Busboys-and-Poets-esque type thing. Engaging in such a project would allow me to combine my passions of social justice activism, the written word, and culinary creativity in a meaningful manner, with the potential to reach, educate, and inspire a generous amount of individuals.

I’ll iron out all of the details later, but for now, I’d like to provide you with a working menu for the seasonally inspired Farmers’ Market Vegan Café.

Breakfast and Brunch (available all day)

Trio of Granolas with Accompanying Milks
Apricot-lavender granola with lavender-vanilla almond milk, berry-lemongrass granola with coconut-cashew milk, sweet corn-thyme granola with maple soymilk
*Raw trio available upon request

Waffle-nanza Platter
Gluten-free sweet potato waffles, maple tempeh bacon, and coconut-braised kale

Fruity Waffle o’ the Day
Changes depending upon fruit seasonality, always served with coconut mascarpone and infused maple syrup

Raw Spirulina-Banana Crepes
Filled with cashew whipped cream and fresh fruit coulis

Seasonal Vegetable Tofu Scramble
Seasonal veggies and greens scrambled with tofu in a curried peanut sauce.

Seasonal Smoothies
Changes depending upon fruit seasonality, favorites include blueberry-basil and peach-raspberry-ginger
*Add a topping of your choice of granolas for an extra charge
*Add kale to any smoothie at no extra charge

Fresh Bakery Selection
Includes muffins, sweet breads, fruity crumble bars, and granola bars
*Raw options available; all baked goods are free of refined sugar and flour, and are sweetened with either dates or local maple syrup

Appetizers

House-Made Bread Basket
Served with a selection of seasonal hummus and pesto

Cheese & Cracker Plate
A selection of house-made nut cheeses served with seasonal crackers
*Raw crackers available upon request

Herbed Garden Gazpacho
Topped with roasted chickpea “croutons”
*
Add a side of house-made bread for an extra charge

Toasty Kale & Coconut Summer Rolls
With lemongrass tofu and sweet almond or peanut dipping sauce

Raw Nori Rolls
With seasonal veggies, sprouts, coconut meat, and sweet almond or cashew dipping sauce

Salads

*Add seared tofu or tempeh to any salad for an extra charge

Big ol’ Farmers’ Market Salad
Mixed greens, alfalfa sprouts, seasonal veggies, chickpeas, and quinoa or brown rice, all tossed in house-made Liquid Gold Dressing

Tangy Kale Salad
Kale, seasonal veggies, raisins, and sunflower seeds tossed in maple-mustard dressing

Spinach & Wild Rice Salad
With almonds and tarragon-mustard dressing

Purple Potato and Haricot Vert Salad
With red onions and miso-mustard dressing

Fall Medley Salad
Brown rice with pomegranate-infused roasted butternut squash and cauliflower, toasted hazelnuts, and baby arugula

Sandwiches

All non-raw sandwiches served on house-baked bread (gluten-free available) with your choice of side salad, baked sweet potato fries, or house-made root veggie chips (raw or baked)

Roasted Brussels Sprout Grilled Cheese

Caprese Sandwich
House-made vegan mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, and basil

“Chickpea of the Sea” Sandwich or Lettuce Wrap
A delectable mash of chickpeas, avocado, and dulse flakes

Raw Garden Vegetable Sandwich
Scallion cashew cream cheese, marinated mushrooms, and butter lettuce, served with house-made raw root veggie chips

Entrees

Fig & Hazelnut Pizza
With caramelized onions and basil sauce on a raw buckwheat crust

Socca o’ the Day
Seasonally rotating French-style chickpea pancake

Bowl o’ the Day
Seasonal veggies, steamed or sautéed leafy green, whole grain, baked tempeh or tofu, and dressing

Miso-Maple Roasted Eggplant & Kale Tacos
With lentils, gingered cashew cream, and mango salsa

Beverages

On-Tap House-Brewed Kombucha
Seasonal flavors

Green Juice o’ the Day
Seasonal flavors

Hot Tea
Selection of organic & fair-trade brews

Herb-Infused Iced Tea
Seasonal flavors

Dessert

Raw Cheesecake o’ the Day
Changes depending upon fruit seasonality

Chocolatey Pudding
Carob, avocado, and banana pureed into a smooth pudding

Trio of Seasonal Ice Creams
*Raw selection available

Raw Cookie Dough “Blizzard”
Banana “soft-serve” with raw cookie dough bites and seasonal fruit swirl

Until next time, Ali.

Guest Post on Green Thickies: How to Green Smoothie On-the-Go

Another day, another guest post. Though I only recently had the honor of featuring my banana soft-serve know-how on Becky’s “Not Your Ordinary Recipes” blog, Katherine of Green Thickies has shared my undying—even while traveling—devotion to green smoothies on her lovely site. My guest post for Green Thickies provides tips for enjoying green smoothies while on-the-go, ensuring you optimally healthy breakfasts even while out of the comforts of your own kitchen, as well as a winning, superfood-packed recipe for an Apricot-Goji Smoothie with Maca. Head on over to Green Thickies to check out the post and recipe!

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I’d also like to mention that the lovely Kylie and Laura of TeenVGN have featured my Pomegranate-Infused Brown Rice Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, Cauliflower, Hazelnuts, and Arugula as their June Recipe of the Month! You can see the recipe on the TeenVGN site here.

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Until next time, Ali.

 

Review of Numi’s New Savory Teas

A couple weeks ago, I entered and very unexpectedly won the Numi Organics Savory Tea giveaway hosted by Sonnet at the top-notch blog For the Love of Food. Confident that I would immediately adore Numi’s savory tisanes based upon my ardent enthusiasm for tea, veggies, and Numi’s products, I eagerly awaited my sampler pack of Numi’s new line of savory teas. Upon arrival, I thoughtfully tasted each tea individually on separate days, steeping them for 10 minutes as instructed before taking the first sip and then allowing the tea to continue to infuse as I happily lapped the savory pick-me-up. Each flavor of Numi’s savory tea combines organic dehydrated vegetable bits, herbs, spices, and naturally decaffeinated green or black tea to create a broth-like, immensely comforting beverage perfectly accustomed for afternoon contemplation. I’ve recorded my thoughts on each of the savory tea flavors below.

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Spinach Chive
Ingredients: Spinach leaves, chives, dried lime, dill, onion, decaf green tea, coriander, turmeric, garlic.

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Undoubtedly my favorite of all the savory teas, the Spinach Chive tasted like the essence of a comforting herbed spinach soup. The savory dill and onion predominated in a prevalent yet not overpowering manner to imbue the tea with a light, springtime flavor. Rather unfortunately, I chose to enjoy this tea first out of the six flavors in my sampler pack, causing the remaining five teas to pale in comparison.

Beet Cabbage
Ingredients: Beet, cabbage, dried apple, decaf black tea, mustard seed, parsley, orange peel, coriander, clove, honeybush.

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Boasting a much more succulent flavor than Numi’s other five savory teas, the Beet Cabbage derived its pleasant earthy-sweetness from the complementary combination of beets and apples. While the clove predominates in both flavor and aroma, I could still slightly discern the cabbage’s cruciferous undertones, which verily impressed me.

Carrot Curry
Ingredients: Carrot, curry, cilantro, onion, ginger, turmeric, decaf green tea.

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Though I usually find overwhelmingly spicy the flavor of curry powder, the Carrot Curry tea nicely balances the curry’s intensity with the carrots’ slight sweetness and the cilantro’s mild citrus undertones. Though a quite nice tea, the Carrot Curry did not harbor as complex a flavor as some of the other five savory teas, and thus tasted a bit one-note.

Tomato Mint
Ingredients:
Tomato, onion, mint, lemon peel, parsley, cinnamon, black pepper, decaf black tea, allspice.

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Probably my second favorite of the five savory tea flavors, the Tomato Mint offered the unmistakable summery aroma of tomatoes and somehow managed to capture the fruit’s juicy succulence, as well. The individual flavors of every ingredient in the tea come through to create a symphony of brightness: the onion lends its savory bite, the hint of mint recedes nicely into the background for a refreshing aftertaste, the citrus offers a barely discernible yet much needed tang, and the cinnamon enhances the tomato’s natural sweetness.

Broccoli Cilantro
Ingredients:
Broccoli, celery leaves, allspice, onion, cilantro, decaf green tea, garlic, black pepper, sage, turmeric.

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While I held high hopes for this tea based on its tantalizing aroma, the Broccoli Cilantro unfortunately lacked a depth of flavor present in some of the other five teas. The allspice overwhelms the tea, forcing the earthy cruciferous and bright citrus notes of the cilantro to recede well into the background.

Fennel Spice
Ingredients: Fennel, celery root, orange peel, onion, dill, decaf green tea, honeybush, black pepper.

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Similar to the Broccoli Cilantro, the Fennel Spice left me a bit disappointed. With my deep adoration of any and all things fennel, I wholeheartedly wish that the unmistakable anise flavor would have made its presence more obvious in the tea. Instead, the dill overpowered the fennel, causing the tea to taste more like a less oniony version of the Spinach Chive rather than a distinct tea in its own right.

All in all, Numi’s new line of savory teas verily impressed me, and I fully intend to order more of both the Spinach Chive and Tomato Mint flavors. I’d highly recommend these savory teas to any tea-lover for a delicious twist on their normal tea routine.

Note: Numi did not contact or pay me to write this review. The opinions expressed in this post are completely my own, uninfluenced by Numi.

Until next time, Ali.

A Night of Academic Discussion and Vegan Deliciousness

A number of readers have expressed interest in hearing more about the general happenings as well as the fantastic food of Ferry House, the egalitarian vegetarian/vegan co-op in which I reside at Vassar along with 20 of the kindest, most insightful individuals I’ve ever met. To fulfill such readers’ wishes, I thought it fitting to recount on the ol’ blog a recent Ferry event: Professor Dinner. Every semester, the members of Ferry invite one or more of their favorite professors to enjoy a convivial vegan potluck dinner in the Ferry living and dining rooms, as well as to engage in stimulating conversations with the academics they most admire. Rife with a cornucopia of plant-based yummies and enough throught-provoking interactions to blow the roof off of Ferry, this semester’s Professor Dinner proved wildly successful and highly enjoyable. Pictured below is the vast array of dishes on the Professor Dinner buffet table, contributed by Ferry members and professors alike.

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Mixed berry smoothies served in an assortment of mix-and-match glassware.

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Gluten-free spicy tempeh empanadas with sweet potatoes, swiss chard, raisins, and pepitas. Made by yours’ truly and inspired by the recipe to which this picture links.

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Shepherd’s Pie with mixed veggies, veggie meat crumbles, and mashed potato topping.

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Fruit salad–a rare and coveted occurrence in Ferry since fruit proves too expensive to fit into our weekly shopping budget. For Professor Dinner, though, we go all out!

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Salad with dark-leaf lettuce, carrots, snap peas, and cherry tomatoes served with a take on my famous Liquid Gold Dressing.

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Whole wheat linguine tossed with peanut sauce and roasted tofu, carrots, and broccoli, with a smaller portion of gluten-free peanut noodles next to it.

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Millet pilaf with almonds and raisins.

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Peanut butter bread.

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GUACAMOLE! Also a highly prized dish in Ferry since avocados cost a pretty penny.

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My plate of Professor Dinner scrumptiousness.

To my immense disappointment, the professor I invited to the potluck—fellow vegan, animal rights advocate, Joyce-lover, and blogger—had to cancel at the last minute, but luckily, my dear friend and fellow VARC member Alan had invited another like-minded professor to dinner—Jill Schneiderman from the Earth Science department. Professor Schneiderman shared a troubling story with Alan and I that detailed a social experiment she performed informally on a group of students she planned to take on a week-long venture to the deserts of the American Southwest. In preparation for the trip, Professor Schneiderman had to collect the eating preferences of the participating students so that the desert facility where they would stay could adequately cater to their needs. As a pondrous vegetarian and scientific researcher, Professor Schneiderman decided to tell her students that the facility provided vegetarian meals by default, and that individuals who wanted to eat meat had to request it specially. She then passed around a sheet on which students could denote whether or not they felt it necessary to eat meat on the trip, and to make the facility provide dining options that included meat. To Professor Schneiderman’s surprise, nearly all of the students checked the “Wants to Eat Meat on Trip” box, and displayed their indignance that the facility would dare not serve meat unless specifically asked. The situation reminded me of Melanie Joy’s book—Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cowswhich discusses how society regards the eating of animals as “normal” and the abstention from eating sentient beings as “deviant.”

While rather disheartening that such a phenomenon would occur on a college campus as progressive and liberal-minded as that of Vassar, the fact that at least a handful of incredibly passionate students and faculty members understand the ethical implications of eating animals and work to spread this awareness throughout campus make me proud to attend Vassar. Additionally, since many of these individuals live in Ferry or often interact with Ferry members, I feel so lucky and honored to reside in a house surrounded by like-minded individuals, which provides me with the strength to interact with those who may not share my viewpoints on veganism and animal rights in a compassionate manner. All hail, Ferry House!

Until next time, Ali.

What I Ate Wednesday #64

Breakfast: A green smoothie of 1 cup frozen mango, 3 deglet noor dates, 1 scoop Amazing Grass Green Superfoods powder, 2 tbsp chia seeds, 4 large leaves lacinato kale, and 1 cup homemade almond milk, all topped with a homemade granola of apples, buckwheat groats, cooked brown rice, walnuts, goji berries, blueberries, hemp seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, maple syrup, and coconut oil.

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I crafted this particular granola on the first morning of my stay in my parents’ NYC apartment over Vassar’s spring break, implementing the limited supply of items in their pantry as well as the various superfood ingredients that had traveled with me. Thus, instead of abiding by my usual template for fresh fruit-sweetened granola by pureeing up a mixture of fresh & dried fruit with various spices and coconut oil in which to coat nuts and grains, I shredded an apple and mixed it with about 2 tbsp each of maple syrup and olive oil to provide adequate moisture for the rest of the granola. Quite crunchy, nicely spiced, and bejeweled with bursts of juicy blueberries, this makeshift granola turned out surprisingly well for a creation comprised of odds and ends.

Breakfast Checklist: Protein—chia seeds, almond milk, walnuts, hemp seeds. Whole Grain—buckwheat, brown rice. Fruit—mango, dates, apples, goji berries, blueberries. Leafy Green—kale. Superfoods—Amazing Grass powder, chia seeds, hemp seeds, goji berries.

Morning Tea: Mayan Secret Green Tea from local NYC store Spices and Tease.

Though the aroma of this tea (which includes sencha green, mate, rooibos, and darjeeling teas mixed with lemongrass and bits of carrot, pineapple, and papaya) promised a complex fruity flavor, the amalgamation of various teas created a harshness that vastly overpowered any hope of a pleasingly refreshing tang. Perhaps I’ll simply have to play around with the steeping time and amount of tea used for each cup, but my experiences with this tea thus far have proved rather unfortunate.

Lunch: A sandwich of BBQ Tempeh strips, celery-apple-carrot slaw coated in Luscious Lemon Dressing from the Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen, and avocado slices between two experimental cornbread fritters. I served the sandwich alongside a salad of mixed greens, alfalfa sprouts, mixed bean sprouts, sprouted almonds, and dulse flakes, tossed with Liquid Gold Dressing and topped with Green Raw Slaw from Bao’s. For dessert, I enjoyed a raw truffle made with sprouted sunflower seeds, sprouted almonds, dates, and maca powder, inspired by this recipe.

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The impetus for this sandwich began with my discovery of a waffle iron hidden in the back of a cabinet in the NYC apartment currently subletted by my parents. Inspired to craft a savory waffle in part by this recipe of Kristy’s, I contemplated a southern-flavored checkered quickbread to complement the Barbequed Tempeh Sandwich Filling that I had made earlier that day from a new cookbook of mine—the James Beard award winning Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley, who apparently served as the executive chef at NYC vegan staple restaurant Angelica Kitchen for nine years. Unfortunately, the lack of gluten-free flours in my parents’ sparse pantry rendered me scrounging for waffle base options. In a bout of vegan MacGyver-ness, I combined 1/2 cup white cornmeal (already in the pantry), 1/4 cup roasted buckwheat grouts finely ground in the food processor, and 1/4 cup almond pulp leftover from the milk I had made that morning to comprise the full cup of flour required for four waffles. After mixing the flours with nooch, baking powder, baking soda, paprika, cumin, oregano, tomato paste, maple syrup, liquid smoke, almond milk, and coconut oil, I excitedly heated up the waffle iron, oiled it, spooned the batter in to yield a satisfying sizzle, closed the iron, waited for the light to signal the waffle’s completion, opened the iron, and…experienced utter failure. The batter had all but completely stuck to the iron, probably due to both an inadequate oiling of the iron and an overly thick batter lacking in a starch of any sort. Sigh. I managed to salvage the remaning batter by pan-frying it into thick pancakes, but still reeled from crushed waffle-based dreams. Curse you waffle iron! I shall prevail eventually.

Meal Checklist: Protein—tempeh, sprouted almonds, sprouted sunflower seeds, almond meal, tahini. Whole Grain—cornmeal, buckwheat flour. Vegetables/Fruit—celery, apple, carrot, avocado, alfalfa sprouts, bean sprouts, dulse flakes, ginger, pears, dates. Leafy Greens—mixed greens, kale, collard greens, dandelion greens, radish greens.

Afternoon Beverage: Choice Organic White Peony tea.

A bottle of Carpe Diem’s Kombucha in Quince flavor.

With an off-putting taste of artificial sweetener (certainly not one of the actual ingredients, though) and an inadequate amount of carbonation, this particular brand of kombucha failed to fully satisfy my mid-afternoon beverage needs. Try as I might to find a brand of local kombucha (other than the Madison-based NessAlla, of course) of as high a caliber as GT’s, I’ve not yet honed in on one. The search continues!

Dinner: A Middle Eastern feast, shared with my parents in their temporary NYC apartment, of Cookie & Kate’s Crispy Baked Falafel with Creamy Tahini and Dill Dressing, sandwiched between Cara’s Gluten-Free Pita Bread along with mixed greens and cherry tomatoes, accompanied by a side of cauliflower and carrots roasted with cumin, paprika, and coconut oil.

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My changes to Kate’s original falafel recipe include substituting canned chickpeas for dried (I worried about the digestibility of merely soaked rather than fully cooked beans), adding 1/2 cup sprouted almonds and 1 tbsp GF flour blend to the mixture, and omitting the salt. Though Kate warns against implementing canned beans in the recipe, I found that adding the almonds and flour ensured adequate binding of the falafel, even when using the more moist canned chickpeas. Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and not at all dry or mealy like many of the falafel recipes with which I’ve experimented in the past, the falafel verily impressed my parents (and fulfilled my mother’s three-day-long craving for falafel), who helped me to scarf down the entire batch of herby chickpea fritters. My only critique of the recipe pertains to the Creamy Tahini and Dill Dressing; the lemon tasted a bit too harsh, in my opinion. However, that minor flaw certainly did not prevent me from slathering the dressing all over my falafel sandwich.

As for the pita bread, I utilized the gluten-free flour blend from Bob’s Red Mill instead of Cara’s homemade blend, replaced the sugar with maple syrup, substituted 1 tbsp flaxseed meal for the xanthan gum, and decreased the salt to 1/4 tsp. I had rather excited myself about the prospect of perfectly crisp, toasty, homemade pita pockets, and therefore became thoroughly disappointed when the pitas would not puff up or slice open as promised (reasons for this fault include the omission of xanthan gum, not allowing the water bath to adequately heat up in the oven, or over-working the dough). Regardless of cooking complications, the pitas still tasted delicious, acting as sliced of bread between which to sandwich the falafel and fixings, rather than as pockets in which to stuff the ingredients.

Meal Checklist: Protein—chickpeas, sprouted almonds, tahini, chickpea flour, fava bean flour. Whole Grain—sorghum flour. Vegetables—onion, garlic, tomatoes, cauliflower, carrots. Leafy Greens—mixed green, parsley, cilantro, dill.

After-Dinner Beverage: Traditional Medicinals’ Organic Eater’s Digest tea.

Comment Provoking Questions: How do you adapt your cooking to kitchens not as well-stocked as to which you’re accustomed? Do you own a waffle iron? Have you had luck with it? What is your favorite brand of kombucha other than GT’s? Have you made pita bread yourself before?

Happy WIAW!

Until next time, Ali.

Austin Extravaganza, Day 2: Juiceland, Nomad Dosa, & Counter Culture

You can find the first post of my Austin Extravaganza series here.

The first full day of my long-anticipated spring break jaunt to Austin, TX began with a green smoothie sprinkled with my new favorite granola, both of which I picked up at the flagship Whole Foods market the night before. After waiting for Ashley—my best friend of eleven years who provided the main reason for my visit to the southern U.S.—to awake from her slumber, I suggested that we kick off our action-packed day with a journey to Barton Springs. A man-made pool incorporated into a channel of Barton Creek, Barton Springs serves as a popular venue for nature enthusiasts who prefer to swim in fresh spring water, as opposed to chemically treated pools, surrounded by chirping birds and lush foliage. The area proved absolutely gorgeous and rife with wildlife, including lizards and a regal blue jay of whom I managed to snap a photo.

During our lengthy stroll to Barton Springs, I began to feel a bit peckish and enthusiastically welcomed the sight of Juiceland, a juice and smoothie bar with four locations around Austin that specializes in cleanses and liquid nutrition. Their extensive menu boasts three categories of juices (milder “fresh & easy” juices; fruity agua frescas; and “next-level” juices packed with veggies, greens, and spices), four categories of smoothies (basic fruit smoothies; sweet green smoothies; protein smoothies—many of which implement whey protein, unfortunately—; decadent dessert smoothies; and “next-level” smoothies, one of which even includes durian fruit, wowza!), superfood “cocktails,” herbal tonics, energizing shots, and a selection of premade to-go salads and raw desserts. The tiny liquiteria also sold a wide array of locally prepared kombucha, fresh young thai coconuts, raw chocolates, and vegan fruit-and-nut bars, including those crafted by Caleb and Chris of the Bearded Brothers—an organic snackfood company specializing in generously sized raw, gluten-free, and vegan energy bars. Ashley and I would later have the pleasure of sampling their tantalizing snack bars at the Wheatsville Co-op, but for the time being, we would simply stare longingly at mouthwatering flavors like Bodacious Blueberry Vanilla, Fabulous Ginger Peach, and Mighty Maca Chocolate. Yum. Wanting to satiate myself until lunch without ruining my appetite, I opted for a light snack of a wheatgrass shot and a couple sips of Ashley’s “Hydrator” smoothie of watermelon juice, peaches, and lemon.

Premade juices, oodles of kombucha, and fresh coconuts for sippin’.

Ahh, the sound of a wheatgrass juicer motor.

A journey back across town to Congress Ave landed Ashley and I smack-dab in the middle of a conglomeration of food trucks, including a health-conscious Indian one, referenced in many of my Google searches of “best food trucks Austin,” known as Nomad Dosa. The young hipsters inside Nomad Dosa’s sleek, silver caravan create all of the truck’s fare without the use of meat, wheat, gluten, soy, additives, gums, refined flours, and sugars (whew!), and implement nourishing food preparations including fermenting their soaked rice-and-lentil batter for several hours, carefully selecting spices to optimize digestion, and utilizing only olive and coconut oils in their cooking. Not only do Nomad Dosa’s gastronomic tenets jive perfectly with my own, they also mingle to produce some of the freshest, most flavorful, and most satisfying Indian cuisine I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting—completely unlike the overly greasy, muddled-tasting dishes I’ve sampled at many an Indian restaurant. Hungry and eager to dosa, Ashley and I put in our orders, paid an incredibly reasonable sum (only $9-$10 for ginormous dosa, a chutney, and a side of either rice or lentil soup), and awaited our food for a mere five minutes before hearing the sweet call of, “Ali and Ashley—your order is ready!” Ashley ordered the “Holy Cow” filling—creamy spiced potatoes, sauteed onions, roasted cashews, and green peas—on a soft dosa topped with shredded carrots served alongside a mild coconut chutney and a lentil dipping soup known as sambar, while I opted for the “Kerala Kokonut” filling—butternut squash, zucchini, eggplant, carrots, and cauliflower in a coconut curry—on a soft dosa topped with romaine lettuce and avocado, served alongside a spicy cilantro chutney and sambar. A spongy, sourdough-tasting dosa wrapped around impeccably spiced, veggie-laden stews and accompanied by a thick, bliss-inducing lentil soup? Be still my beating heart.

Ashley’s “Holy Cow” dosa.

An inside view of my “Kerala Kokonut” dosa.

After our immensely fulfilling lunch, Ashley and I meandered down Congress Ave, popping in just about every storefront along the road, including a nifty antique shop called Uncommon Objects, described by Austinites as “your eccentric uncle’s attic on steroids.” There, I fawned over the vintage mason jars, old-style cameras, and clickety-clacky typewriters while Ashley revealed a peculiar obsession with science-lab-style glass vials. We also passed an open-air adoption event hosted by Austin Pets Alive!, the city’s most prominent and almost completely volunteer-run organization devoted to achiving a 100% no-kill rate of sheltered companion animals in Austin.

Sufficiently tuckered out after our active morning and afternoon, Ashley and I rejuvenated from the balmy Austin weather in her air-conditioned apartment. However, another bout of hunger soon overcame us, and we trekked out once more to enjoy a casual yet scrumptious meal at Austin’s almost-one-year-old vegan restaurant, Counter Culture. Born from humble beginnings in July 2009 as a food truck, Counter Culture launched a wildly successful Kickstarter project in February 2012, the 195 donors of which enabled the business to relocate to a brick-and-mortar, diner-style restaurant bedecked in cheerful aquamarine-and-brown decor. On the Counter Culture menu, owner Sue Davis emphasizes nourishing, wholesome versions of comfort foods alongside playful raw dishes, while devoting her restaurant’s ethos to animal welfare, environmental sustainability, and long-term health. In utter support of Counter Culture’s mission and drooling over the tantalizing photos on their website, I quite looked forward to sampling their dinner fare. Though the Raw Bruschetta with flax crackers, cashew cheese, pesto, and tomatoes called my name, Ashley turned down my offer to split the appetizer, arguing that she’d like to save her money for dessert. Her miserliness couldn’t stop me, however, from ordering the Meltdown sandwich—a creamy garbanzo bean “tuna” salad with celery and dulse flakes, topped with melty cashew cheese and sliced tomatoes, layered between two slices of toasted gluten-free bread and accompanied by a side of the novel Pac Man salad of kale, Pac-Man-shaped carrot slices, and chia seeds in a creamy garlic dressing. If you recall my recent declaration of love for sandwiches, you can no doubt envision a starry-eyed, beaming Ali munching on the Meltdown’s hearty layers, each bursting with unique flavor (including the tomatoes! Perhaps the south enjoys quality tomatoes earlier in the year than does the midwest). After analyzing Counter Culture’s online menu, Ashley continually expressed her excitement toward ordering the Jackfruit BBQ sandwich—shredded jackfruit smothered in chipotle barbeque sauce, topped with red onions and pickles, and stuffed inside a multigrain hoagie bun, accompanied by a side of perfectly roasted sweet potatoes and beets. The meal certainly lived up to Ashley’s high expectations, causing her to exclaim how surprisingly accurately the shredded jackfruit resembled pulled pork (in texture and flavor, not oppression and exploitation, of course). For dessert, Ashley and I shared an ice cream sundae of vanilla coconut milk ice cream (supplied by local vegan ice creamery Sweet Ritual, which Ashley and I would visit in two days), silky raw cashew cream, and berries, as well as a tropical-flavored raw truffle of almonds, dried pineapple, shredded coconut, and dates. While delicious, the meal left my stomach not quite as full as I would have preferred; Counter Culture seems to keep its portions on the small side. I knew I should have partaken in that bruschetta appetizer!

Counter Culture interior.

Meltdown Sandwich with Pac-Man kale salad.

BBQ Jackfruit Sandwich with roasted sweet potatoes and beets.

Ice cream sundae.

Raw tropical truffle.

After catching a bus back to Ashley’s apartment and pajama-ing up, we planned our eating excursions for the following day, which would include lunch at Austin’s staple macrobiotic, community-based restaurant, Casa de Luz, and dinner at the gourmet raw eatery of Beets Cafe. Stay tuned for summaries of those meals in an upcoming post.

Until next time, Ali.

What I Ate Wednesday #63

Breakfast: A green smoothie of 1/2 a cameo apple, 1/2 of a frozen banana, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 1 tbsp hemp seeds, 1 tsp maca, 1/2 tsp spirulina, 1 tbsp goji berries, a large handful of kale, and 1/2 cup Gingerberry kombucha, topped with the last half-cupful of my most recent granola creation featuring GF rolled oats, raw buckwheat groats, unsweetened shredded coconut, flaxseed meal, pecans, and walnuts coated in a puree of apples, dried apricots, almond extract, cardamom, cinnamon, and coconut oil.

breakfast

Though I ran out of almond milk for this particular smoothie, later this morning I blended up an experimental milk comprised of the nutty odds-and-ends in my pantry to create a hybrid almond-cashew-pistachio-flax milk. Tinted slightly green from the pistachios, this milk serves as a deliciously creamy precursor to the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day festivities, and boasts those heart-healthy omega-3′s about which we health-conscious folk rave thanks to the flax seeds. I may just start regularly incorporating different nuts into my homemade milk routine to compliment the standard almonds.

Breakfast Checklist: Protein—chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseed meal, pecans, walnuts. Whole Grain—GF rolled oats, buckwheat. Fruit—apple, banana, goji berries, dried apricots. Leafy Green—kale. Superfood—hemp seeds, chia seeds, spirulina, goji berries, maca, flaxseed meal, kombucha.

Morning Tea: Pukka Herbs’ Three Fennel tea with sweet fennel seed, wild fennel seed, and fennel leaf.

I picked up three sample packets of this lovely tea at last weekend’s NYC Vegetarian Food Festival and have adored its powerful anise flavor and aroma for the past couple of days. A huge sucker for anything fennel, I fell in love with this tea upon first glance and deeply regret having already exhausted my meager supply of it. Perhaps a tea shipment is in order…

Lunch: A salad of mixed greens, shredded carrots, slivered almonds, diced dried apricots, sage-braised giant white beans, brown rice, and dulse seaweed flakes, all tossed in Liquid Gold Dressing and topped with Bao Fermented Food’s Green Raw Slaw of kale, collard greens, dandelion greens, radish greens, apples, pears, garlic, and ginger.

lunch

Unexpected leftovers discovered in the refrigerator comprise a wonderfully positive aspect of living in Ferry Haus along with 20 other talented veg*n cooks. The sage-braised white beans gracing this salad stem from one such occasion of wonderful lunchtime surprise.

As for the Green Raw Slaw, I picked up a jar from Bao’s booth at the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival and cannot adequately express my happiness with my frugal ($4 off of the original price at the festival!) and mouthwatering purchase. Kale and fermented food all rolled into one immensely flavorful salad topper? Be still my beating heart.

Meal Checklist: Protein—white beans, almonds. Whole Grain—brown rice. Vegetables/Fruit—carrots, apricots, apples, pears, garlic, ginger, dulse flakes. Leafy Greens—mixed greens, kale, collard greens, dandelion greens, radish greens.

Afternoon Beverage: Choice Organic White Peony tea.

A bottle of GT’s Organic Raw Kombucha in Gingerade flavor.

Dinner: A simple saute of broccoli, brussels sprouts, and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos; an amaranth-millet pilaf seasoned with liquid smoke and paprika; and a pile of crunchy roasted chickpeas seasoned with liquid smoke, agave nectar, and paprika.

dinner (1)

Stay tuned for the recipe for this deeply satisfying dish, inspired by my mother (who recently adopted a vegan diet after watching Forks Over Knives), in an upcoming blog post.

Meal Checklist: Protein—chickpeas. Whole Grain—amaranth, millet. Vegetables—brussels sprouts, broccoli. Leafy Greens—brussels sprouts, broccoli.

After-Dinner Beverage: Traditional Medicinals’ Organic Eater’s Digest tea.

Comment Provoking Questions: Do you like to combine different nut/seed varieties when making plant-based milks? How do you feel about fennel/anise-flavored items? Does your local grocer carry Bao’s tasty raw, fermented products? Have you tried roasting chickpeas before?

Happy WIAW!

Until next time, Ali.

A Weekend in NYC, Part 1: The NYC Vegetarian Food Festival

This weekend, U.S. VegCorp hosted the third annual New York City Vegetarian Food Festival at the Metropolitan Pavilion in the Chelsea neighborhood. After enviously listening to Erin Red recount her delightful experiences at last year’s festival on a past episode of her podcast, I rushed online to discover the dates of the 2013 event and vowed to attend. Luckily, my parents decided to rent an apartment in NYC from mid-February until the end of April, providing me with a convenient home base in the city and practically begging me to take advantage of all the vegan goodies and happenings NYC has to offer; frankly, the universe would have admonished me had I not patronized the veg fest this year.

Numerous reliable vegan sources stressed the value of purchasing a VIP ticket for the festival in order to avoid the up-to-four-hour-long line for entry into the venue. Indeed, my decision to heed their advice and shell out the most well-spent $30 of my life on a Sunday VIP ticket proved quite prudent—I bounded through the building’s glass doors, displayed my ticket to a smiling woman who awarded me with a specially market wristband, and threw myself into the torrent of enthused veg*n/veg-curious attendees, eager vendors, tantalizing noms, and cruelty-free fashions, eliciting a couple resentful glares, I’m sure, from those still standing outside in line.

Arriving at the festival around my lunchtime, I first paid a visit to the renowned vegan food truck The Cinnamon Snail, whose selection of baked goods rivals any of a traditional brick-and-mortar bakery (can you say lavender-pear turnovers, passionfruit-glazed donuts, and strawberry cheese danishes?). Unfortunately, none of these mouthwatering creations bore a gluten-free (or sugar-free, for that matter) label, but I certainly contented myself by ordering a Raw Goji Berry Bar to accompany my Fiery Southeast Asian Salad of kale, homemade kimchi, sliced fresh jalapenos, curried peanuts, and chili oil. Both vittles satisfied my tastebuds immensely—the goji bar harbored a mysterious coconutty-cashew flavor while the salad excited the palate with its fresh spiciness (though it did feature a tad too much chili oil for my liking).

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The Cinnamon's Snail baked goods case.

The Cinnamon’s Snail baked goods case.

Fiery Southeast Asian Salad.

Fiery Southeast Asian Salad.

After enjoying a lovely lunch, I began making my rounds about the festival. Immediately upon entering, I spotted the ice cream counter of DF Mavens—a coconut-based frozen treat free of gluten, soy, and (in the case of some flavors) sugar about which I had heard at the recent Ivy League Vegan Conference. The company has not yet launched their products into stores, but to give you a sneak peek, some of their tantalizing flavors include Sicilian Hazelnut Truffle, New Orleans Salted Praline, Alphonso Mango, and Peanut Butter Fudge Mash. Wowza.

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Free samples of DF Mavens.

Free samples of DF Mavens.

Oodles of jewelry-makers and clothing-crafters showcased their wares, including the well-known vegan t-shirt company Compassion Co., a woman who creates gorgeously unique bracelets out of dehydrated fruits and vegetables at Wired Up Creations, the rebellious Portland-based outfitter of Herbivore Clothing Company (positively thrilled to meet her, I basically fawned over owner Michelle Schwegmann, who has gained plenty of fame in my book thanks to Our Hen House), and an independent jeweler with no company name of which to speak but who provided lovely graphic pendants. An independent screen-printer stood next to the DF Mavens booth and enthusiastically demonstrated the screen-printing process at my confession that I’ve long yearned to learn how to screen-print.

One of Compassion Co.'s t-shirts emblazoned with, "Anything you can eat, I can eat vegan." Love it.

One of Compassion Co.’s t-shirts emblazoned with, “Anything you can eat, I can eat vegan.” Love it.

"Animal Liberation" pendant from an independent jeweler.

“Animal Liberation” pendant from an independent jeweler.

Stickers from Herbivore Clothing Company.

Stickers from Herbivore Clothing Company.

Original screen-print t-shirt design from the friendly independent screen-printing guy.

Original screen-print t-shirt design from the friendly independent screen-printing guy.

The festivals’ bounty of cosmetics included allegedly intensely healing face creams and serums derived from broccoli sprouts, as well as deliciously fragrant soaps from Fanciful Fox and Metropolis Soap Company

Broccoli sprout skin cremes.

Broccoli sprout skin cremes.

Soaps from Fancful Fox.

Soaps from Fancful Fox.

Of course, the festival couldn’t deem itself a food festival without an inordinate amount of yummies rampant throughout the convention hall. Though I didn’t snap a picture of every single food booth, I’ll provide you with a sampling:

"Raw Slaw" fermented veggies from Bao Fermented Food and Drink--they also sell home-brewed kombucha, sauces, and superfood shots.

“Raw Slaw” fermented veggies from Bao Fermented Food and Drink–they also sell home-brewed kombucha, sauces, and superfood shots.

I picked up a jar of Bao's Greens Raw Slaw, packed with kale, collard greens, dandelion greens, radish greens, apples, pears, ginger, and garlic.

I picked up a jar of Bao’s Greens Raw Slaw, packed with kale, collard greens, dandelion greens, radish greens, apples, pears, ginger, and garlic.

Vegan & gluten-free empanadas from Brooklyn's acclaimed V-Spot.

Vegan & gluten-free empanadas from Brooklyn’s acclaimed V-Spot.

The ever-popular Dandies marshmallows--gelatin-free!

The ever-popular Dandies marshmallows–gelatin-free!

Fryin' up some Field Roast sausages.

Fryin’ up some Field Roast sausages.

Pastel-hued cookies from Pipernilli Bakery.

Pastel-hued cookies from Pipernilli Bakery.

Cashew-and-coconut-based ice cream from the Raw Ice Cream Company (chocolate hazelnut, anyone?).

Cashew-and-coconut-based ice cream from the Raw Ice Cream Company (chocolate hazelnut, anyone?).

Monkey Boy peanut butter with banana extract and raisins from the Saratoga Peanut Butter Company

Monkey Boy peanut butter with banana extract and raisins from the Saratoga Peanut Butter Company.

Gorgeously frosted cupcakes from Pink Frosting Bakery.

Gorgeously frosted cupcakes from Pink Frosting Bakery.

Rehydrated dried fruit from Fruit Bliss--apparently, re-moistening dried fruit is all-the-rage in Europe!

Rehydrated dried fruit from Fruit Bliss–apparently, re-moistening dried fruit is all-the-rage in Europe!

Delectable and creamy Faux Gras, Basilcotta, and Superfood Pesto from the Regal Vegan

Delectable and creamy Faux Gras, Basilcotta, and Superfood Pesto from the Regal Vegan.

Spicy Mang roll from Beyond Sushi (for dinner later that night) with avocado, mango, cucumber, and black rice topped with spicy pickled veggies and toasted cayenne sauce.

Spicy Mang roll from Beyond Sushi (for dinner later that night) with avocado, mango, cucumber, and black rice topped with spicy pickled veggies and toasted cayenne sauce.

King-sized gluten-free cookies from Dauphin Bakery, included Ginger Spice Molasses. Mmm...

King-sized gluten-free cookies from Dauphin Bakery, included Ginger Spice Molasses. Mmm…

Three Fennel tea from Pukka Herbs. The woman behind the stand generously gave me three free tea bags of this blend, in which I have reveled for the past two days due to my ardent love of fennel.

Three Fennel tea from Pukka Herbs. The woman behind the stand generously gave me three free tea bags of this blend, in which I have reveled for the past two days due to my ardent love of fennel.

Vegan scallops (yes, you read right) from Sophie's Kitchen, made from Elephant Yam Root, aka Konjac. Fascinating!

Vegan scallops (yes, you read right) from Sophie’s Kitchen, made from Elephant Yam Root, aka Konjac. Fascinating!

Certainly my favorite aspect of the entire festival comprised of schmoozing with prominent vegan activists, bloggers, and authors whom I’ve long admired. Though I didn’t snap any photos with them, I also met the bloggers (Sharon and Dianne, respectively) behind Big City Vegan and VeggieGirl, two quite successful blogs in whose footsteps I hope to follow.

I've become quite a fan of Erin Red's podcast, Red Radio, and her special brand of no-nonsense activism. Honored to extend our relationship from Twitter to the real world!

I’ve become quite a fan of Erin Red’s podcast, Red Radio, and her special brand of no-nonsense activism. Honored to extend our relationship from Twitter to the real world!

Farm Sanctuary founder Gene Baur delivered an inspiring speech that touched upon effective animal advocacy among many other topics. His assertion that "being right is not the same as being effective" struck me as particularly important.

Farm Sanctuary founder Gene Baur delivered an inspiring speech that touched upon effective animal advocacy among many other topics. His assertion that “being right is not the same as being effective” struck me as particularly important.

Ximena and Derek from my all-time favorite yoga studio, Jivamukti, described the intrinsic connections between yogic philosophy and veganism.

Ximena and Derek from my all-time favorite yoga studio, Jivamukti, described the intrinsic connections between yogic philosophy and veganism.

Matt Frazier of the acclaimed No Meat Athlete blog showcased his merchandise and gave a talk on Saturday of the festival.

Matt Frazier of the acclaimed No Meat Athlete blog showcased his merchandise and gave a talk on Saturday of the festival.

I still cannot fathom how I managed to meet the legendary vegan author and lifestyle coach Victoria Moran.

I still cannot fathom how I managed to meet the legendary vegan author and lifestyle coach Victoria Moran.

Though I didn't manage to snag a photo of Miyoko Schinner, author of Artisan Vegan Cheese, I did sample some of her very own gourmet nut cheeses after her talk.

Though I didn’t manage to snag a photo of Miyoko Schinner, author of Artisan Vegan Cheese, I did sample some of her very own gourmet nut cheeses after her talk.

Of course, standby animal rights organizations like PETA, Mercy for Animals, Compassion Over Killing, and Sea Shepherd also made appearances at the festival, along with eastern farm animal sanctuaries like Woodstock and Catskill. I had the pleasure of meeting two immensely friendly COK volunteers who welcomed me with open arms when I informed them of my summer internship with the organization—further proof that the animal rights movement attracts the most generous, all-around wonderful human beings.

To round out my festival experience, I indulged myself in adding yet another vegan cookbook to my collection: the Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen by Talya Lutzker. I haven’t yet had a chance to thoroughly examine the book’s recipes, but cannot wait to learn of the doshas and how to eat in order to best balance inner energy—like yoga and eating all rolled into one! From my quick flip through the book (which has sat on my Amazon Wishlist for quite some time now), all of the recipes feature only wholesome, unprocessed ingredients and include a host of raw, sugar-free desserts. My Ferry housemates will surely taste at least a couple of goodies inspired by this book!

After spending over three hours chatting, sampling, and handing out homemade Farmers Market Vegan business cards, I had thoroughly exhausted myself and decided to trek back uptown to my parents’ apartment before catching my train home to Vassar. Witnessing such a successful outpouring of vegans and omnivores alike (2,000 people attended the festival on Saturday alone) fostered within me such hope for a shifting mainstream consciousness toward a more compassionate, deliberate, conscious, and healthful lifestyle. The innovative products featured at the festival also aided in proving that leading a vegan lifestyle by no means entails sacrificing the joy of delicious food, chic fashion, and effective skin care. I fully intend to attend many more events similar to this one, with the third annual Veggie Pride Parade on Sunday, March 24th as the most upcoming one.

Stay tuned for a post detailing my meals at Candle Cafe West and Blossom on the Saturday before the festival (yes, I’m posting out of chronological order, but I wanted to recap the festival before recounting my fabulous meals).

Until next time, Ali.