Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Gluten-Free Vegan Breakfast

Last night, I gave an overview of The Complete Guide to Gluten-Free Vegan Cooking and shared pictures of some Baked Chickenless Nuggets from the book. But tonight, I'd like to talk about breakfast.

For gluten-free vegans, conventional breakfast cereals and wheat toast aren't options. And some people who are really sensitive to gluten, such as celiacs, can't even eat oats because they could be contaminated with gluten. But thankfully, a few vegan breakfast basics are naturally gluten-free, like this Go Green Tofu Scramble from The Complete Guide to Gluten-Free Cooking:

The only gluten-free swap in this recipe versus a regular tofu scramble was the tamari. Tamari and soy sauce usually contain gluten, but gluten-free versions are available. What I love about this scramble has nothing to do with it's gluten-free-ness, however. I love all the green veggies first thing in the morning! This scramble is packed with kale, green bell peppers, green onion, and cilantro.

Although tofu scrambles are naturally free of gluten, this book does feature some special xgfx breakfast recipes that require the use of alternative flours, like brown rice flour and buckwheat flour. The Buckwheat-Flax Pancakes sound fantastic, and I'm definitely bookmarking the Sorghum Corn Cakes with Berries and the Orange and Vanilla-Kissed Waffles.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gluten-Free & Vegan

I don't have a sensitivity to gluten (thank god), but sadly, lots of vegans (and omnis) do. And that means no conventional baked goods, no seminola pasta, and most depressingly, no seitan. That has to suck. Of course, you can create your own gluten-free goodies, but for many, gluten-free baking and cooking is a whole new world. Even people who are quite adept in the kitchen at creating gluten-containing foods may be clueless when no flour or other wheat products are allowed.

Enter The Complete Idiot's Guide to Gluten-Free Vegan Cooking. I was asked to review this new book, and even though I'm not giving up gluten, I'm always up for learning something new. I've never attempted gluten-free baking and only ever tried cutting gluten during my annual 21-day January cleanses.

The first thing I tried were the Baked Chickenless Nuggets:

These little finger foods are made with pressed and marinated tofu. Instead of a flour breading, these are coated with a mixture of chickpea flour and crushed cornflakes. I've made lots of variations of tofu nuggets in my day, and these are pretty darn fantastic. Perfect dipped into a homemade agave-mustard sauce.

While this recipe really didn't branch out into new territory for me, there are several things I want to try that do. Perhaps most interestingly, there's a recipe for gluten-free seitan! What?! I didn't even know that was possible. That's like saying, gluten-free gluten. I'm actually cooking up a batch right now. But I'm not planning to blog about it until I use it in a chili on Thursday. So stay tuned.

Also exciting: Shepherdess' Pie, Drunken Black Beans (made with gluten-free beer), Multi-Grain Sandwich Bread, Savory Kale Chips with Hemp and Flaxseeds, and of course plenty of xgfx desserts. The Chocolate Chip Cookies, Mochi Cream Puffs with Vegan Pastry Cream, and Lemon-Yogurt Pound Cake are all on my to-make list.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Vegan Hair Care

Yea, I know this is a food blog, but I wasn't about to turn down samples of Surface's vegan haircare line to review. I typically buy the cheapest vegan hair products available, which means lots of Nature's Gate. And I'm pretty basic — shampoo, conditioner, Aveda Control Paste (my only hair splurge), and hairspray.

But after asking me about my hair type (flat, thin), the folks at Surface sent me their Surface Jump Volume Mousse and their Surface Bassu Shine Spray:

I'll be honest. I had not the slightest clue what to do with mousse. I thought mousse was like styling gel, and I got a little freaked out. But my co-worker Hannah, who is much more of a proper girl than I am, explained that mousse is added to the roots when the hair is wet. Then it's blow-dried and combed out to create a voluminous mane. I've been using it and my hair really does seem more full!

I also didn't know much about shine spray, but like a fairy with ADD, I'm attracted to anything shiny and sparkly. I immediately liked the idea of shiny hair in a bottle. I really love this stuff. I've been spraying a little on my hair before using my straightening iron. The only thing that could make it better would be if it contained glitter!

Here I am sporting a head full of new vegan product:

The Surface line is totally animal free, and that means no animal testing either. Plus, it's gluten-free and paraben-free. But unlike so many "health food hair products," this line is salon quality. I'm hoping I can find Surface products around here when I run out, but after using the salon locater on their website, I'm not so sure I'll have any luck.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chips and Oreos!

Despite my goal of trying to eat healthier, I've been really loving Lane Gold's Vegan Junk Food cookbook. In my last two posts, I showed you healthier versions of vegan entrees, like tandoori tofu pizza and takeout orange tofu. Those were amazing, but they didn't feel too much like junk food to justify eating those dishes for dinner.

But in my final Vegan Junk Food review post, I wanted to show you some of the real junk food from the book. You know, the stuff you can only eat once in awhile because it really is junk food. I made two of these recipes from the book for a vegan potluck at my friend Leslie's this weekend. I always feel better sharing the less healthy food at potlucks because everyone else can help you eat it, and you can all feel equally guilty.

The Baked Onion Dip from Vegan Junk Food was hit at the potluck!

OMG, y'all. This stuff tastes like the creamy, fatty French onion dip from your childhood, but it's even better because it's baked and covered in vegan cheese! I could have eaten the entire dish. The onions were caramelized and sweet, and the dip was made creamy with vegan cream cheese and mayo. Perfect with Kettle Brand Salt & Pepper chips.

For my dessert, I made the Oreo Chocolate Truffles:

But I made them with the new limited edition BIRTHDAY CAKE OREOS!!!!!!! Have y'all seen these? They're Oreos, but the creamy stuff has rainbow sprinkles and it tastes like birthday cake! Never have I been happier that Oreos are vegan.

Anyway, I crumbled the birthday cake Oreos in a food processor and mixed them with vegan cream cheese. Then it's dipped in chocolate. So delicious. So sinful. Yea for Vegan Junk Food!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Takeout at Home

There are few foods more comforting than Chinese takeout. But that stuff's loaded with grease, MSG, and nasty white ricey-ness (yes, I made that word up). And while such foods taste AMAZING going down, I always get that icky feeling later, and I spend the rest of the evening wallowing in self-pity and regret. Okay, not really, but things sound so much better when I'm melodramatic.

Anyway, tonight I had all the tastiness of takeout without that unpleasant slit-my-wrists feeling later (okay, now I'm being REALLY melodramatic!). I made Lane Gold's Takeout Orange Tofu from her Vegan Junk Food cookbook:

I've never actually had orange chicken at a Chinese restaurant, but I have had the mock orange beef at New Hong Kong, our local vegan-friendly Chinese place. And this sweet and tangy sauce is spot-on. The tofu is lightly battered and fried and then coated in a thick, sweet sauce.

It was perfect alongside Gold's Takeout Fried Rice:

Made with brown rice instead of white, this is a fried rice you can feel good about. If this is junk food, then call me a healthy junk food vegan!

The publisher of Vegan Junk Food generously allowed me to share the tofu recipe! So here goes, courtesy of VEGAN JUNK FOOD: 225 Sinful Snacks that are Good for the Soul (Adams Media, a division of F+W Media; December 2011) by Lane Gold.

Takeout Orange Tofu
(Reprinted with permission from Adams Media)

Serves 4

1 cup water
Zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons orange juice
3 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon grated ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons cornstarch
½ cup water
½ cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 16-ounce package firm tofu, drained, cut into 1-inch pieces
Oil for frying
2 green onions, chopped on the diagonal

1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine 1 cup water, orange zest, orange juice, lemon juice, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, pepper flakes, ginger, and garlic. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and ½ cup water. Add to the saucepan. Bring back to a boil, then turn heat down to medium-low; cook until sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. In a shallow dish, stir together flour, salt, and pepper, then add tofu and stir to coat all pieces in flour mixture.

4. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add about 2 tablespoons of oil. Cook the tofu in batches, frying until golden and very crispy on each side. Drain on paper towels.

5. Add tofu to sauce and stir in green onions. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Vegan Junk Food

I'm a junk food vegan at heart. You all know that. But lately, post-cleanse, I've really been trying to clean up my diet with more raw foods (mostly side salads lately), less sugar (sorta failing there), and less processed foods (this doesn't mean I'm giving up Gardein, just eating less of it).

To clean up my diet, I'm keeping a few simple steps in mind. And I shared those steps today in an article I wrote for called "7 Steps to Becoming a Healthier Vegan." Check it out! And while you're on the VegNews site, look what else they did! They pimped my Cookin' Crunk cookbook in their 2012 Cookbook Preview!

But before you get all sad thinking I'm giving up Oreos and Ramen, think again. I'll never totally give up junk food, but I hope to make it less the star of the show and more like an extra on the set. I was still totally psyched to check out Lane Gold's new cookbook, Vegan Junk Food: 255 Sinful Snacks That Are Good for the Soul.

This book is filled with veganized versions of comfort food classics, like pizza rolls, Mongolian beef, and sloppy joes. But despite the book's title, many of the recipes are actually pretty healthy. Take for example, this Tandoori Tempeh on Onion-Garlic Naan with Cucumber Soygurt Sauce:

I made the naan with whole wheat pastry flour and it's loaded with sauteed onions and garlic. The tempeh is marinated in unsweetened soy yogurt mixed with cumin, coriander, and some other spices. The tempeh and some chopped onions top the naan, and it's broiled for a few minutes. Then its topped with a homemade cucumber sauce. The recipe didn't have enough spice for me, so I added sriracha after this shot was snapped.

Of course, with a name like Vegan Junk Food, you've got to have a few guilty pleasures! There's a Baked Ziti Pizza (yes, pasta on a pizza) that I would love to try. And the Chicken Fried Seitan and Gravy is definitely on my to-make list. Other highlights: Barbecue Chip-Crusted Tofu Bites, Crispy Chicken Ranch Burger, Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole, and Jalapeno Bacon Poppers. For dessert, I must try the Coconut Cherry Vodka Bars and the Butterfinger Chunk Cookies (they have Chick-O-Sticks in them!!!).

I'll be making dishes from this book over the next few days, so expect more review posts tomorrow and Sunday night.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

King Caaaaaake!

Even though Memphis is a good 6-hour drive from New Orleans, some folks around here embrace Fat Tuesday like it's our own. We have a tiny downtown Mardi Gras parade. But even though we don't have quite the crazy Mardi Gras scene, beads and King Cakes are everywhere in Memphis on the day before Lent.

Every year, I bring a vegan King Cake to work, and I always make the same recipe from Kittee Berns. It's a recipe I tested for her years ago before she went gluten-free.

I've tried cinnamon-praline filling and cherry filling in year's past, but this year, I opted for a Blueberry-Cream Cheese Filling. I used Kittee's vegan cream cheese filling recipe and a can of blueberry pie filling. This was my favorite filling so far:

As for the colored sugar, I already had some yellow sugar that was marked down at Target last Easter. But I dyed my purple and green sugar with a little food coloring.

And I finally found plastic babies! In year's past, I've stuffed a bean into the cake in lieu of a plastic baby. But I tracked down the cute little boogers in a cake shop on Summer Avenue. My co-worker Mark found the baby in his slice, and that means he's supposed to bring the cake next year. But I'm not holding my breath for that. I'm sure I'll be making it again. Here's the little baby all covered in blueberry guts:

Let the good times roll, folks! I'm off to enjoy an Abita in the last few hours of Fat Tuesday.

Monday, February 20, 2012

My Next Cookbook

Although my first cookbook has yet to hit store (and Amazon) shelves, I've been done with the recipe development for over a year. I spent all of 2011 making stuff from other people's books because I wanted a break from creating my own recipes. And I'm still doing lots of that because I find few things more relaxing than cooking other people's recipes.

But my creative drive has needs. So I'm slowly but surely starting my next project. My first book — due out in late spring or early summer — is a vegan Southern cookbook, filled with downhome veganized versions of the classic country cookin' that I grew up eating. But I've decided that my next project will be veganized versions of retro recipes from the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Sort of a vintage vegan approach.

I love flipping through my mom's massive collection of retro cookbooks. The food they ate back then was SO not vegan-friendly, but that makes it all the more fun and challenging to remove the eggs, dairy, and meat. I'll slowly make things here and there, and we'll see where it goes. Another cookbook? Maybe an e-book? Who knows?

But I'm launching this project with a homemade Cream of Tomato Soup:

This was veganized from the Better Homes & Gardens Vegetable Cookbook (published in 1965). Despite its name, this skinny hardcover book is filled with meaty recipes. This recipe was vegetarian though, but I swapped out some basic ingredients like soymilk and vegan margarine. It's creamy, thick, and delicious. And dare I say way better than the old Warhol-esque Campbell's condensed tomato soup from a can? I'm saving up these recipes for a possible second book, but to celebrate my first recipe for the new project, I'm sharing this one.

Cream of Tomato Soup
(Adapted from the Better Homes & Gardens Vegetable Cookbook)

Yields 4 cups

1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes

1/2 white onion, chopped

1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. agave nectar

1/4 tsp. pepper
1 bay leaf

2 Tbsp. vegan margarine

2 Tbsp. whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 cups unsweetened soymilk

Break up the tomatoes with your hands and drop them into a saucepan. Pour the remaining tomato juice from the can in the saucepan. Add the onion, salt, agave nectar, pepper, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf and discard. Allow the the tomato mixture to cool slightly and transfer to a blender. Blend the soup until everything is pureed.

Rinse the saucepan and melt the vegan margarine in the pan over low heat. Slowly whisk in the flour and stir constantly to make a roux. Slowly whisk in the soymilk, and turn the heat up to medium. Continue to whisk over medium-low until the soup thickens slightly, about 10 minutes (it won't reach a gravy consistency, just a thicker soymilk consistency).

Slowly the tomato mixture into the soymilk and stir to combine. Allow to heat through.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Chubby Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

Oops! I'm not sure if anyone noticed, but I totally forgot to announce the winner of last week's Good Belly product voucher giveaway! The contest ended on Wednesday, but it totally slipped my mind. Sorry! The winner is ... Leslie from Pixiepine! Yea!!!! She was lucky number 2 using's number generator.

Now, on to tonight's post. My friend/co-worker Justin Fox Burks and his wife Amy, both of The Chubby Vegetarian blog, are working on a Southern vegetarian cookbook. It's kinda funny because my Southern vegan cookbook will be out in late spring or early summer (the months keep getting pushed back, so I'm being vague now). Two veg cooks from Memphis, who happen to work together, putting out vegan and vegetarian Southern cookbooks! How cool is that? Justin (who develops the savory recipes) is lacto-ovo and quite the gourmond, so our styles and ingredient preferences are very different. I think our books will be quite different too.

Justin and Amy (pictured on the right in a picture I stole from The Chubby Vegetarian) will be including some vegan recipes in the book though! And I volunteered to test a few of their vegan recipes. I've known Justin for awhile, and his food is always amazing. Last October, he guest cheffed an all-vegan dinner for Memphis' usually-not-vegan underground supper club, and the food was five-star, upscale, gourmet stuff.

Over the weekend, I tested his Vegan Sloppy Joe recipe, and even it was pretty fancy:

Only Justin would think to include a hint of white wine in his lentil- and mushroom-based sloppy joe. As most vegan know (thanks to Isa), lentils make the perfect sloppy joe base. But this one was more flavorful than any other lentil-based joe I've tried. A winner, for sure.

You wanna be a tester for the Chubby Vegetarian cookbook? They're looking for more help. Head over to their testing site and claim a recipe by posting a comment. You have a week to test it out, and then leave feedback (on how you liked it and if the instructions were clear) in another comment.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I Grew Mushrooms!

When I saw the Back to the Roots mushroom growing kits in a fall issue of Vegetarian Times, I knew this would be the perfect Xmas gift for my picky friend Greg. He hates almost everything, so he's really hard to buy for. But he does love oyster mushrooms. And he's kind of a plant guy. Vegan Cuts had a coupon code to get 20% off when you ordered two kits, so I had to get myself one too. Damn. ;-)

These kits come with a bag of mushroom spores mixed with coffee grounds. You soak the bag and cut a hole in it. Then you put the bag back into the box and mist it twice daily. I started my first batch almost three weeks ago, and for a week and half, it did absolutely nothing. I have the world's worst black thumb, so I was convinced that I was over-watering or giving the mushrooms too much sunlight. And then suddenly, last week, mushrooms just sprang up overnight.

They grew to a decent size, but I had no idea how large they should get. So I kept misting each morning and night, hoping they'd continue to grow. But I learned the hard way that mushrooms don't keep growing like regular plants. They quickly reach their peak, and then they start to harden.

Mine were hard as a rock a few days after they sprang up. I thought I'd wasted my precious shrooms. But from reading the FAQ on the Back to the Roots website, I learned that hardened mushrooms can be soaked in hot water to bring them back to life. So I did just that.

There's a lot of recipes on the Back to the Roots site, and I chose this simple preparation — Yummy Mushroom Pasta:

It's my homemade marinara sauce over whole wheat pasta tossed with balsamic vinegar and topped with sauteed onions and oyster mushrooms. Since I had such a small harvest (and since I grew them myself), these really felt like a delicacy.

I'm a little sad that I only had enough mushrooms for one serving, but thankfully, Back to the Roots guarantees at least two harvests per kit. So I'm hoping another batch will spring up soon!

Pretzel Dog Buns!

Chef Marisa Baggett has hot buns. Hot VEGAN buns.

Baggett recently launched Hunny's Buns, a side venture to her real job as a well-known Memphis sushi chef. She offers several varieties of stuffed steamed buns, most with meaty fillings, but she also offers a pretzel dog bun stuffed with hot dogs and Chinese hot mustard. And she'll stuff 'em with soy dogs if you'd like.

I first read about Baggett's new venture in the Memphis Flyer (where I work), and as soon as I saw "soy dogs available on request," I knew I had to try these. I emailed Baggett to inquire if the buns were vegan, and she said she'd be happy to leave out the eggs and replace the honey with sorghum. She doesn't have a storefront, so she delivers the buns to her customers. Yesterday afternoon, only one day after placing my order, this package arrived at my office.

Inside were six vegan pretzel dog buns! And they were still warm!

I immediately cut one bun into three pieces and shared them with two of my vegetarian co-workers. My editor Susan happened to have a promotional Memphis Grizzlies tall boy can of Coors Light at her desk. So we enjoyed our pretzels with beer.

These buns are out of this world. The bread is soft and doughy, just like a ballpark pretzel. But the bun has a more complex taste than a traditional soft pretzel. It's got a hint of sweetness from the sorghum, and the sesame seeds lend it a nutty flavor. The Chinese mustard soaks into the buns and perfectly compliments the hot dog.

I ate another bun last night before hitting the gym, but thankfully, I have four more buns in the freezer. If you live in Memphis, check out the Hunny's Buns Facebook page for ordering instructions. You can specify vegan preferences in the "special request" box on the order form. She also has a Japanese curry vegetable bun that can be veganized. The buns are six for $12 or 12 buns for $22.

If you don't live in Memphis, you can still check out Marisa's vegan sushi recipes on her website. There's even a recipe for eel-free eel sauce!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy V-Day!

So there's only two hours of Valentine's Day left, but hope you had a happy one. Since my co-workers at the Memphis Flyer and Memphis Magazine were my first Valentines of the day, I brought them some Strawberry Cupcakes from the 2012 Happy Herbivore calendar:

These whole wheat cupcakes are made without oil, like all of Lindsay Nixon's low-fat recipes. They've been staring out at me on my February calendar all month, and V-Day seemed like the perfect excuse to make them.

The cupcakes are low-fat because they're made with applesauce instead of oil. And they're topped with royal icing instead of buttercream. Strangely, there's no strawberries in the cake or icing, yet they're called strawberry cupcakes because they're topped with a strawberry. But nonetheless, they were delicious. And they were only 160 calories!

One thing to note if you have this calendar and want to make these cupcakes: There's a typo in the recipe on the calendar. It should include 1/4 cup of applesauce, according to Lindsay's original recipe in Happy Herbivore. Fortunately, I just happened to check out the recipe before making these.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Not Your Mama's Pot Roast

On Sunday night, I did something that little old ladies have been doing on Sunday nights for years. I made a pot roast! But this was not your grandma's pot roast. In fact, it was the Not Your Mama's Pot Roast with Roasted Vegetables from Vegan Diner:

This seitan roast is slow-simmered along with red potatoes, carrots, and onions in a Crock-Pot of flavorful broth for hours. I haven't had pot roast in at least 17 years, and although I don't remember exactly what roast tastes like, I think this was pretty spot-on.

I always make seitan from scratch, and I've tried many, many recipes ... all of them delicious. But this one may be the most flavorful. The recipe did come from Julie Hasson, after all. She's the woman who gave us the steamed sausage. Of course, her seitan pot roast would be fabulous!

The tender, juicy roast is seasoned with Marmite and porcini mushroom powder, which I almost left out because it sounded too expensive. But thankfully, Whole Foods had dried porcinis in the bulk bins, so I was able to just get a small amount and grind them down into a powder using my mortar and pestle.

On the side are the veggies from the Crock-Pot, which were also bursting with slow-roasted flavor, and my own recipe for smoky collard greens (it'll be in my cookbook). This was the perfect Sunday meal, even though I cooked it too late on Sunday night and didn't get to try it until Monday night.

This is the first recipe I've made from Vegan Diner, a Xmas gift from my BFF Sheridan. But everything looks so amazing. The Grilled Cheezy Sandwiches with Homemade Great Smoky Mountain Cheeze, the Blue Plate Special (waffles 'n' gravy with potato scramble!), the Brown Rice Hazelnut Burgers, the Beer-Battered Onion Rings, and the Vampire Fries (garlic fries!) are next on my list. Oh, and don't forget the Ooey-Gooey Brownies and Mocha Malt for dessert.

Also, don't forget to enter my Good Belly probiotic drink giveaway!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Good Belly Giveaway!

About 13 days ago, I embarked on the 12-day Good Belly challenge. The folks at Good Belly sent me vouchers to purchase enough Good Belly Plus to have one of the fruity probiotic multivitamin shots each day. Good Belly guarantees their customers will be satisfied in 12 days or they'll send your money back.

They can't legally make specific health claims about what probiotics can do for you, but they're said to aid with digestion. So did it work for me? Although I was skeptical that I'd notice any real change, I have to admit that my digestion did improve. I'm pretty, um, regular anyway, as most vegans are. But I noticed after downing the small Good Belly shots each day, I'd have to go within 15 minutes. And it was a really good go, if you know what I mean. I don't even think I was this regular during my 21-day Crazy Sexy Diet cleanse last month.

Now that my 12-day challenge is over, Good Belly is sponsoring a giveaway for free product vouchers for one lucky reader. The vouchers are good for the Good Belly Plus (fruity shot with 20 billion live active cultures plus vitamins), Good Belly Family-sized Quarts (fruit juice with 20 billion live active cultures), Good Belly Big Shots (with 50 billion live active cultures), Good Belly Straight Shots (sugar-free oatmilk with 20 billion live active cultures), Good Belly Kids (fruity shots with 10 billion live active cultures), or Good Belly Splash (a low-calorie fruit juice with 20 billion live active cultures)
Here's how to enter:

1. Leave a comment letting me know which of Good Belly's products you'd like to try. You can learn more about the Good Belly varieties on their website.
2. "Like" Vegan Crunk on Facebook and let me know about it in a separate comment.
3. Tweet a link to the giveaway and make sure to tag me @biancaphillips. Then leave another comment letting me know you tweeted.
Also, keep in mind that you only need to comment once to enter. The Facebook and Twitter mentions are just for extra entries. Be sure to include your email address in the comment if your email address isn't accessible through a blog. I'll use to choose a winner on Wednesday night.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Mystery "Meat"

Before we get to the meatiness of this post, I have an exciting announcement! LP of the Skimming the Ocean blog was the random lucky winner of the Allison's Gourmet giveaway!! (LP, I left a comment on your blog, but please shoot me an email and we'll work out the deets. My email is in my Blogger profile).

Now, can you guess what's in this bowl? It's not meat. And it's not even fake meat. Any guesses?

Would you believe it came from this can?

What you see there is jackfruit in brine, a weird Asian fruit that's not sweet when it's packed in salty brine. In fact, it doesn't have much of a flavor at all. It comes in wedges, almost like a pineapple, but when you rub them between your fingers, it shreds into something that looks exactly like pulled pork barbecue.

Of course, it doesn't start out with that sexy barbecue color that you see above. It looks pale and off-white, like the picture on the can. But I finally jumped on the vegan jackfruit taco bandwagon of a few years ago and made Melisser's recipe for Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos from the Vegan Girl's Guide to Life. You can also find the recipe here on her old Urban Housewife blog:

After simmering in the Crock Pot overnight with fresh onions and garlic, salsa verde, chili powder, cumin, and other spices, the jackfruit tastes exactly like shredded beef. Even the texture was pretty spot on from the way I remember pulled pork. Granted, I've not had pulled pork in 17 years, but ...

I topped my tacos with leftover vegan rotel dip, avocado, tomato, lettuce, and tequila-lime salsa. On the side, I made a batch of my Raw Mexican Rice:

I really want to share this recipe, but I developed the dish for a article I'm working on. So you'll just have to wait, but I'll definitely link to the article here as soon as it goes up. I can tell you that the "rice" is actually raw butternut squash shredded in the food processor. The dish was inspired by Ani Phyo's Walnut Cranberry Squash Rice from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen, but I completely changed the add-ins and used Mexican spices.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I Love Tots ... for Breakfast!

Tater tots for breakfast?! Yes, please.

That was my reaction when I read through the recipe for the Hearty Breakfast Bowl in Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites:

Tater tots are topped with scrambled tofu, bacon bits, and a cheesy gravy made from nutritional yeast and ground cashews. It really doesn't get much better than that. I'm a savory breakfast girl first and foremost, and this is the sort of day starter that makes me like getting up in the morning. I made the tofu and gravy on Sunday, so each morning this week, I'm heating the tots in the oven and 15 minutes later, breakfast is served.

I will admit that I felt a little guilty eating tots for a weekday breakfast, so I bought the Cascadian Farms organic Spud Puppies to make me feel a bit better about it.

Remember how I said I would continue juicing every morning after my 21-day Crazy Sexy Diet cleanse? Well, I have been ... until this week. Instead, I'm enjoying organic orange juice with my breakfast. I'll get back to green juicing next week, but I really needed an excuse to use this adorable orange juice mug that I ordered from Lynn at Scissors and Spice's Etsy shop:

Isn't that adorable? You can't really read it here, but the bottom of this four-ounce cup says "Orange Juice Is Good." And since I'm not much of a fruit eater, OJ is good for me. It's the only way I'll get my vitamin C. I'd much rather drink fruit than eat it.

If you haven't entered my Valentine's Day giveaway for a $25 Allison's Gourmet gift certificate, do so here. The contest is open until Thursday evening.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Legume Love (and Some Bacon Love Too!)

Way back during Vegan Mofo, I was the lucky winner of a giveaway of dried legumes from the Pacific Northwest Farmer's Co-op. But these dried legumes are so fresh (I know that sounds like a contradiction, but stay with me here), PNW actually had to wait for their harvest to send me my prizes. When huge, 2-pound cloth bags of Spanish Pardina Brown Lentils, Green Split Peas, and Pedrosillano Cafe Garbanzo Beans finally arrived, I knew these legumes were worth the wait.

I wasn't sure which variety to try first ... until I came across the Lentil and Bacon Pot O' Stew in Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites:

This thick stew combines tender brown lentils, homemade tempeh bacon, shallots, leeks, carrots, and garlic. The smoky bacon pairs so perfectly with the lentils. I've never met a tempeh bacon recipe I didn't love, but Celine and Joni's is especially awesome. It has sesame oil it, along with Liquid Smoke. And dude, those shallots and leeks really took this dish to a special place. I always forget how much I love cooked leeks since I rarely ever buy them. Celine and Joni are geniuses!

Also, these PNW lentils seemed much tastier than the kind I typically buy in the grocery store. I guess freshness really does make a difference, even in dried foods.

If you haven't entered my Valentine's Day giveaway for a $25 Allison's Gourmet gift certificate, do so here. The contest is open until Thursday evening.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Allison's Gourmet Giveaway!

How would like it if someone gave you this for Valentine's Day?

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Yea, you'd like that? Well, good. My awesome dad wants to give away one $25 gift certificate to Allison's Gourmet, the all-vegan bakery and confectionery, because he loves you.

Above is the Artisan Chocolate Assortment from Allison's Gourmet. The assorted chocolates include Orange Blossom Truffle, Raspberry Blush Truffle, Peppermint Swirl Truffle, Coconut Joy Truffle, Pure Vanilla Caramel, Salted Chocolate Caramel, Butterscotch Pecan Caramel, and Mocha Caramel.

Oh yea, I'd be all over that Salted Chocolate Caramel. Or instead of chocolate, what if someone gave you this Chocolate Almond Toffee from Allison's Gourmet:

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Not a candy person? Well, that's weird. But to each their own. Perhaps you'd rather have a few varieties of Allison's Gourmet cookies, like these gluten-free Mint Chocolate Chip ones:

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Whatever your fancy, $25 worth of Allison's Gourmet treats can be yours. Here's how to enter: Leave one comment per entry for a total of four entries per person, and be sure to include your email address in the comment if your email address isn't accessible through a blog.

1. Leave a comment letting me know which of Allison's Gourmet treats you'd love the most.
2. "Like" Vegan Crunk on Facebook and let me know about it in a separate comment.
3. Tweet a link to the giveaway and make sure to tag me @biancaphillips. Then leave a comment letting me know you tweeted (or twatted ... or whatever).
4. "Like" Allison's Gourmet on Facebook and let me know about it in another comment.

Remember, you only need to enter once for a chance to win and you can do so by simply leaving a comment (see #1). Any extra entries for Facebook likes and Twitter mentions just help your chances, but if you're not on FB or Twitter, don't sweat it.

I'll randomly choose one lucky winner on Thursday. And no, you probably won't get your candy in by V-Day, but when it arrives post holiday and the rest of your friends have already gobbled up their Valentine's candy, you can rub yours in their sad little faces ... or share. It's up to you.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Food > Football

I didn't really care who won the Super Bowl tonight. I always root for the underdog. So in the first quarter, when the Patriots were down, I wanted them to get ahead. And in the end, when the Giants scored that final touchdown, I was happy for them too. Whatevs. I don't watch the game for the game. And I don't really even watch for the commercials.

I watch the Super Bowl every year for one reason: vegan hot wings, beer, and chips. Okay, that's three reasons. Oh, and this year, there was a fourth reason: Madonna. Madge still has it! That halftime show was fabu.

This year, I made a batch of my Spicy Seitan Wangs:

The recipe is included in my cookbook, which will be out soon! Late spring or early summer! I worked all weekend to get my manuscript up to speed with the Book Publishing Company's current author guidelines, and I just sent off the edited version tonight. Progress is being made!

On the side, I made another appetizer from my cookbook — "No Tell" Rotel:

This creamy cheese dip is similar to the crock pot ro-tel dip so popular at Southern church potlucks and family reunions, so that explains the name. It was delicious with Garden of Eatin' multi-grain blue tortilla chips. And of course, there was plenty of celery and carrots with Organicsville vegan ranch for dippin'.

By the way, these images are the first ones shot using my new Square Perfect light box! My parents bought me a light box for Valentine's Day, but they came over today to deliver the gift early. I've always had to shoot food photos outside in the sunlight. And in the winter, that meant saving dinner leftovers to shoot in the daylight the next day. But now I can shoot my meals any time of day!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Hearty But Healthy

Just days before I was set to start my 21-day Crazy Sexy Diet last month, Joni Newman sent me an email asking if I'd review her and Celine Steen's latest tome — Hearty Meals for Monster Appetites. Of course I would!! But sadly, the cleanse meant waiting three weeks before I could crack it open. After all, the cleanse was about eating smaller meals, not monster ones.

But I knew, as soon as the cleanse was over, I'd be looking for a monster meal in a big way. And boy have I?! I feel like Celine and Joni wrote this book just for me! It's packed with everything I love to eat — five-cheese baked vegan macaroni, a patty melt, fried mac & cheese balls, tator tot casserole, vegan "Haute Pockets,"and maple bacon-freakin'-donuts. I love all of Celine and Joni's work (500 Vegan Recipes, The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions, Joni's blog Just the Food, and Celine's Have Cake, Will Travel), but this book takes the banana cream pie cake (yep, that recipe is included in there too).

I plan to cook several dishes from this book over the next few days, but I started with this Waldorf Salad Wrap:

Granted, this isn't the most sinful recipe in the book, but it just sounded really tasty. Romaine, green apples, celery, red onion, pecans, and raisins are mixed with a creamy homemade poppyseed dressing. Not only was the wrap delicious, but I also learned the proper way to roll a super-stuffed, deli-style wrap without making a mess. It's all about the parchment paper, y'all!

On the side, I made my Almond-Miso Soup, a recipe I've been making for ages:

I'd post it here, but I'm saving it for an upcoming piece I'm writing for So I'll be sure and link to the recipe as soon as it goes up their site.

As for Hearty Meals, expect to see several more posts about this book in the coming days. On my to-make-from-the-book wish list: PB & OM Muffins with Ricemallow Cream, Broccotato Soup with Bacon Chickpeas, BBQ Slaw Tacos, Crispy Pepperoni Bites, Garlic Truffle Fries, and Celine and Joni's best gift to the vegan world, the Double Take (a veganized version of KFC's "Double Down" sandwich featuring chicken as bread).

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Good Belly 12-Day Challenge

In December, I posted a review of Good Belly probiotic juice drinks. They sent me coupons and I tried a couple of flavors of their family-sized quarts and some strawberry Good Belly Plus (probiotics plus vitamins and minerals). Everything I tried from them was delicious! It's thicker than regular fruit juice, and it has a creamy yogurt-like consistency. But it's totally vegan.

Well, after my review was posted, the company contacted me to ask if I'd try their 12-Day Challenge: Drink Good Belly for 12 days in a row, and notice a change in what's going on with your digestion. If you go to their website, they'll send you coupons to get started. Plus, Good Belly offers a money-back guarantee for anyone who doesn't love the stuff in 12 days.

Good Belly sent me some vouchers, and I chose three four-packs of these cute little Good Belly Plus shots in mango, blueberry-acai, and pomegranate-blackberry. They're only 50 calories each!

I started the challenge yesterday, and I couldn't have picked a better time. After ending my 21-day Crazy Sexy Diet cleanse two weeks ago, my tummy's been a little pissed off. I went from eating lots of raw food and whole foods to more cake, wine, and fried stuff than I'd eaten in awhile. I didn't mean to go off the deep end, but I don't do well with deprivation. When I can't have something, I want it ten times worse. So last week was my relapse week.

I'm on better track this week to sticking with my post-cleanse health goals. But I could use a probiotic boost to help my digestive tract get back in line. Over the next 10 days of the Good Belly challenge, I'll post updates on how the stuff is helping (or not helping) my digestion. And then at the end of the challenge, Good Belly said I could host a giveaway for free vouchers for one lucky reader. Stay tuned!