Monday, July 25, 2016

Hey SkinnyPop!

Hey SkinnyPop fans,

am an entertainer.  I don’t sing and dance (well, not in public) but I love to hang with friends and family, open a bottle of wine, serve up some delicious bites, and laugh.

As a vegan, finding something great to nosh that my non-vegan company will also eat can be tough, but that’s where SkinnyPop popcorn comes in!  With this guilt-free snack (seriously, 39 calories a cup!) I have a bunch of flavorful, crowd-pleasing options and, thankfully, I can leave the calories at the door.  What’s even better are how the SkinnyPop varieties pair with wine. Yes.  You heard me.  Popcorn and wine.  Hello happy hour!

While opening a bag of the White Cheddar SkinnyPop (yup, it’s vegan) on a Friday at 5pm and sipping on some Chardonnay is easy enough, let’s discuss a few other ways to enjoy these tasty nuggets…

Thursday night, girls are over…maybe your book club even read the book you said you would.  How about some Sauvignon Blanc and a side of Jalapeno SkinnyPop to keep things spicy?

You’ve just turned on NCIS.  Mark Harmon is still hot, but maybe you, like me, are still mourning the loss of Michael Weatherly?  We can grab a Malbec and some Sea Salt & Pepper SkinnyPop to help us cope.

It’s 10:30pm and Trevor Noah is about to kick-off on Comedy Central – who won’t be watching him and Stephen Colbert closely through November?  I’m thinking some indulgent Dusted Dark Chocolate SkinnyPop and a glass of Pinot Noir may be the only other options getting me through this election season!

However you enjoy your SkinnyPop and wine, cheers!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Avocado Toast

I love avocado toast. I honestly believe I could eat it every day.  I often enjoy it at Le Pain Quotidien with a drizzle of evoo, pickled vegetables and seasoned salt. I even make it at home when I want a quick and simple little vegan dinner, with just some fresh lime juice and kosher salt.  

This version from VegNews Magazine (photo by Julie Morris) sounds fabulous!  I snack on Nori when I want something yummy, quick and salty, so this recipe is next on my list.
You will need:

2 nori sheets
1/2 c mashed avocado (about 1 avocado)
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp kosher salt
4 slices sprouted grain bread
1 TBSP coconut oil
1 TBSP chia seeds
1/4 c chopped walnuts

1. Into a wide bowl, crumble sheets of nori into large flakes.

2. In a small mixing bowl combine avocado, lemon juice, and sea salt and mix well. Add half the crushed nori flakes and fold gently until mixed well.

3. Toast bread in toaster or broiler for 1-2 minutes until lightly brown. Brush with the coconut oil and cut into quarters. Top with the avocado mash, the rest of the nori, the chia and the walnuts and serve!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Make An Oath

The next time you are in Chestnut Hill, the Boston suburb, you must take this oath to head to Oath Craft Pizza.  

Their oath:

"An oath is a promise.  A bond.  A word of honor.  That's really what an oath is - honor.  It's about creating something that's honest and good and true and different.  Something that changes things.  Real things. Like neighborhoods or beliefs or even just someone's day. Oath Craft Pizza was founded on the notion that doing good and doing something extraordinary are not mutually exclusive.  That's what drives us.  That's our real craft.  That's why we're here.  To make better.   That's our oath."

So what's this doing on a vegan blog?  

A) The crust is vegan.  It's thin and crisp and super delish, and you can get a full personal size pizza or a half.
B) They have vegan toppings galore!  This list is proof it's a happy place...

roasted potato
roasted or plain cherry tomato
roasted garlic
balsamic drizzle
truffle sauce
roasted portabello
baby spinach
rose pickled or plain red onion
kalamata olive
jalapeno relish
sweet red or green pepper

C) They offer Daiya vegan cheese (wahoo!)

D) They have 5 vegan pizza sauces:

vine-ripened tomato
balsamic glaze
classic bbq

E) They also have four salads, three of which you could modify to make vegan as well.  Get the pizza.  If only they delivered to New York...

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Vegan Pesto with Brussel Sprouts

I purchased some beautiful basil at the market last week. Often what I choose to make is what catches my eye as I walk by. I had also picked up some heirloom cherry tomatoes and Brussel sprouts while I was there, but chose to use the basil to make a delicious fruity and nutty quinoa.

This morning I was motivated to do something with the basil because it was starting to bruise and it was too good to pass up.  I took some ingredients out of my pantry and refrigerator and decided to try my hand at a vegan pesto. In an attempt to do something other than put it over pasta, I decided to clean and prep my brussel sprouts and roast them in the pesto. The result was delicious!  Next time, I will definitely make a pasta...

For the pesto you will need:
1/4 c walnuts
3 TBSP pine nuts
2 large handfuls basil
1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
2 TBSP vegan Parmesan 
Salt to taste
2 c Brussel sprouts

Purée all of the ingredients in a blender or Nutribullet and then toss the cleaned sprouts in the pesto.

Roast for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Let cool just a touch and serve.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Heck of a Halva!

When I was younger, I remember learning about halva.  It was a weird, oily, flaky "treat" served at bar and bat mitzvahs.  It was definitely not something I looked for in my pantry when I got home from school each day and wanted a snack.

When I went to Israel at 13, and again at 16, and most recently at 39, I always sampled the halva in the markets in Jerusalem.  It just felt like what you were supposed to do when you were there.  The taste and texture became more and more pleasing as I got older, and to have a vegan sweet, that wasn't too sweet at all, was also appealing.

Last week I was in Chelsea Market in the NYC's Meatpacking District with my son and some friends of ours.  While wandering in and out of every storefront, and picking up little items at many of them, we stumbled across Seed + Mill, purveyors of halva, tahini and even goat milk ice cream. I know, random, and the latter was surely not vegan, but keep reading!

There were no less than a dozen varieties of halva in the case, and nearly half were vegan.  I was curious, so for $6 I purchased a sampler which offered three flavors.  I chose pistachio, nougat and dark chocolate. 

We were heading to a big dinner at the Sugar Factory (which actually has some vegan items on the menu, though not in the dessert department) so I just wanted a pinch of each.  They were each delicious - I would be hard pressed to tell you my favorite.  Even my friend's daughter, a teenager and totally skeptical, liked the nougat flavor she tried.

If you're not in NYC but want to order, just check out their website.  You can shop online and they'll send it out right to your door.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Perfect Summer App

I was asked to bring a vegan appetizer to a BBQ tonight that friends are hosting. I wanted something light enough for the warm weather, but satisfying enough that it could carry me through a dinner that was not aimed at vegans!

What I came up with is this colorful, brightly flavored recipe that could be paired with a crispy chip or eaten as a salad.

You will need:
2 ears of corn, kernels cut off the corn or one can of organic kernels, drained (there was no corn at my market!)
1 can organic black beans, drained
1.5 avocado, diced
1 c flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 c cherry tomatoes, quartered 
1.5 large cucumbers, seeded, and finely diced
The juice of 4 limes
Kosher salt to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well but gently so the avocado doesn't get smashed in the process.  

Spread out some forks and small bowls or grab some of your favorite chips and go dipping! (I added a little light reading on the side...) Enjoy!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Sweet Treat

I was in Boston over the weekend for a family event, and snuck in some time to catch up with friends before heading home.

Brunch was at The Cottage, a beachy-feeling restaurant in the heart of Chestnut Hill. Not too many vegan options grace the menu but they are flexible, so I had some sautéed veggies with some fruit and whole wheat toast.  Nothing too exciting but it boasted a nice atmosphere.
Next door a kid's birthday party was going on at Treat, a local cupcake shop. We went in just for a look, and out of curiosity. To my great surprise, not only do they have an adorable concept where you can build your own cupcakes (which these little girls were loving,) they also had 8 different kinds of vegan cupcakes on their bakery schelves!
Cookies 'n Cream, Mint Cookies 'n Cream, Orange You Cute, Haystack, Plain Janes, Pumpkin Pie, Mochaccino and Vanilla Coconut.  Decisions decisions!
There were four of us so we got 3 to share and sample: Haystack (a chocolate cake with a vegan mounds bar on top,) Cookies 'n Cream (think Oreo) and the Mochaccino - my favorite.  The cakes were all moist (and were warmed) and that coffee-infused frosting was just so yummy and decadent...we honestly couldn't finish them!

If you find yourself nearby and craving something sweet, definitely swing by.