Category Archives: Product Reviews

Raw Pecan Pie

Hello, everyone! Yes, I’m alive, but make no promises as to the frequency of my posts henceforth. I’m never going to be a super regular blogger – I’m just too much of a space cadet. Wait, what was I talking about?…just kidding. But yeah, I’ll post from time to time when I have something worth showing you! Also, I’ve decided to transition my blog into more of a general healthy living blog. My main interest in blogging is to have a place to display my photography, whether it’s food, pets, friends, travel, you name it. So that’s that.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! This year marked the first time that I celebrated with only my immediate family, so mine was quiet, but honestly, that is exactly what I needed after a rough midterm #3 in O-Chem. Despite the fact that there were only four of us – well six, counting the two dogs (yes, I said TWO dogs…my sister just got a new puppy, who I’ll introduce you to soon!) – we somehow ended up making at least ten different dishes. In fact, so many dishes that we lost track of them and my sister ended up completely forgetting to serve her coconut milk creamed corn. #FirstWorldProblems.

Of course I whipped up a batch of my famous mashed cauliflower, but the sweetest (in both senses of the word!) thing I made was Kimberly Snyder’s Raw Pecan Love Pie. I don’t really eat sugar anymore, but I’ll make an exception for a date- and maple syrup-based raw dessert on special occasions and holidays. I’ve followed Kimberly’s blog for years, and always thought this pie looked cute. Well, it turns out it is as delicious as it is cute…

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The only change I made to the original recipe is that I used Brazil nuts instead of walnuts in the crust since Oh! Nuts had kindly just sent me a bag of their jumbo raw Brazil nuts to sample. I love the unique flavor of Brazil nuts. Plus, who doesn’t want to get like 500% of their daily value for selenium while eating pie?

Another fun fact: the dates I used were from my friend Cody’s family date farm in California! They are so much moister than the dates you can buy at the health food store.

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Back to my regular sugar-free routine of course, but I’m glad I had the chance to indulge a little with this lovely pie! Try it yourself this holiday season (link is above) if you’re into dessert, but not so into gluten, eggs, dairy, and sugar.

Bok Choy and Chickpeas with Cashews

Okay, we all know I have an insatiable vegan cookbook addiction. Well, you probably don’t know, but if you looked back through my posts, you’d find that everything I make is from a different cookbook. I just outgrew my second full shelf.

Accordingly, there are some cookbooks that I write off in my head–as in, “Oh, I have so many, and that one doesn’t seem especially…special.” For some godforsaken reason, Clean Food was one of those books. I think its dull title threw me off. I mean, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar? How exciting! Viva Vegan? ¡Olé! Peanut Butter Planet? Um, TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER! But Clean Food? Oh, okay…yum?

Consider this post my apology to Terry Walters because this book rocks. I was lucky enough to have wise friends who knew what’s what better than I did–thank you, Newmans! I’ve already made the Maple Nut Granola, Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Pineapple Tempeh Kebabs, and have yet to be disappointed. But as good as all of those recipes were, none of them compared to my Sunday breakfast of Bok Choy and Chickpeas with Cashews.

Obviously not your typical breakfast, but as Terry says, greens are energizing in the morning! I love this dish, not only because it’s to live for, but because it epitomizes what Clean Food is all about. I can almost count the ingredients in this recipe on one hand, and half of them are already in its title! Bok choy, chickpeas, cashews, ginger, liquid aminos, mirin, and olive oil. That’s what I call clean. Clean, simple, quick, wholesome, and full of wonderful textures and flavors.

I love me some pancakes and french toast, but sometimes you just need some fresh, whole-food fare first thing in the morning; and for those times, Clean Food is your best friend. As usual, the moral of the story is, “don’t just a book by its cover…or title!”

And here’s a riddle: what’s more vibrant than a leafy green-packed breakfast? My best friend, Joanna! She’s 22 today, and a little over two years ago, she inspired me to go vegan with her. I love you, Jo!

Finally, I was honored to be interviewed by the lovely Janna of Just Flourishing as part of her “vegan week.” Check out what I have to say about veganism and vegan health here!

Wine and Cheese

How did this vegan spend her Friday night? I think the title says it all.

Earlier that day, Steph and I headed to the store with our Barnivore list of vegan wines, hoping to strike it big. We returned victorious with a bottle of organic (and vegan of course!) Bonterra Muscat–a super sweet dessert wine. The perfect accompaniment to the three wheels of Dr-Cow raw nut cheeses we’d ordered a few days before.

We opted for the Aged Cashew, the Aged Cashew & Crystal Algae, and the Aged Cashew & Brazil Nut cheeses. They cost us a pretty penny (especially with the cold shipping), and we were pretty surprised at how small they were. Yes, they’re extremely rich, and three wheels of cheese was maybe a little decadent for only three of us (Steph, Dawn, and I), but still–for how much money it cost us to obtain these, they were laughably tiny. Probably an inch and a half in diameter?

Anyways, complaining aside, these raw cheeses were something. They have a super complex, earthy, dare I say, moldy, flavor, and went superbly with our sweet wine, TJ’s multigrain crackers, and apple slices.

The cashew and–surprise!–the algae cheeses were definitely our favorites. The brazil nut cheese just tasted too much like…brazil nuts. What did we expect? The algae was a bit tangier than the plain cashew, but both were a nice balance of sharp and mellow. Plus, check out the color of that algae cheese! Hubba hubba.

It was a very enjoyable and sophisticated–for college students at least!–night of booze and eats, although next time we all agreed that we’d hit up Mooifood’s raw vegan nut cheeses in lieu of Dr-Cow’s. Dr-Cow’s was fun to try, but Mooifood is local (LA) and their cheese comes in more flavors (herbs herbs herbs!) and colors. Hopefully theirs will also be cheaper and–crosses fingers–come in a serving size larger than a pillbox. :)

Cuckoo for Coconut Peanut Butter!

As you all know, peanut butter is kind of my thang. Although straight up PB will always be my favorite, I do have a soft spot for “special” peanut butter–as long as it’s free of weird additives and oils. I thought I’d pretty much explored the world of specialty peanut butter–and what a wonderful world it is!–with Peanut Butter & Co., Justin’s Nut Butters, and Naturally Nutty, but I found out I was wrong when Tropical Traditions’ Coconut Peanut Butter walked into my life.

Tropical Traditions provided me with a jar to sample, and I’m so grateful that they did. This product contains just what it should and nothing else: organic dried coconut and organic roasted valencia peanuts. That’s it.

Those two ingredients are all it takes to produce a butter that’s so sinfully salty-sweet, you’ll think you’re eating frosting.

So after eating half of the jar with a spoon over the course of a couple weeks, I started thinking about what foods it would go best with. Turns out, coconut peanut butter can pretty much be put on anything you’d put regular peanut butter on, with similar or better results. :)

Like sweet potatoes:

As you can see, coconut peanut butter is much runnier than regular peanut butter. It takes on that thin meltiness of coconut butter more than it does the thick spreadableness of peanut butter. When cooler than room temperature, it’s solid.

Okay, so this next one’s slightly more decadent than a sweet potato, but hey–those peanut butter Newman O’s were asking for it!

And finally, the ever-versatile oat bran. In this case, sweet potato oat bran, topped with coconut peanut butter, and–get ready–sweet potato coconut paste! The paste was from the care package that Jessie at Vegan Minded exchanged with my mom. I stole it from her, hehe. Thanks Jessie!

As you can see, Tropical Traditions Coconut Peanut Butter is a fantabulous product; whether you’re a PB lover like myself, or just want to add a unique and healthy product to your diet, you should pick up a jar for yourself!

Raw for Dessert

I was recently contacted by the Book Publishing Company in Summertown, Tennessee with the opportunity to review one of their many vegan cookbooks! Being a fan of some of the BPC’s classics–such as The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook and Becoming Vegan–I was more than happy to take advantage of the offer, and gleefully requested a copy of Raw for Dessert by Jennifer Cornbleet.

I love raw desserts. Not only are they easy to make and incredibly healthful, but they generally seem to feature more unique, creative, and exciting combinations of flavors and textures than their cooked counterparts. I’m not gonna lie–I love me a good chocolate chip cookie fresh from the oven, but sometimes a raw chocolate brownie, rich and dense, can do the job just as credibly.

Before I get to the recipes I made, I just want to say that this book is laid out really nicely, and it truly runs the gamut of the dessert world in its 7 chapters: Basics (mix-and-matchable creams, sauces, frosting, and crusts that many of the subsequent chapters require), Fruit Desserts (ranging from simple strawberries soaked in orange juice to the more complex Banana-Caramel Crumble, which I made), Sorbets, Ice Creams, and Sundaes (whether you want Concord Grape Sorbet or a Knockout Brownie Sundae, this chapter’s got it!), Cakes, Cookies, and Bars (Cheesecake, brownies, etc.), Pies and Tarts (which includes a pumpkin-less Pumpkin Pie that I’m dying to try), Creamy Desserts (you probably thought you’d never have crème brulée again after going vegan, but what about a raw Vanilla Bean Crème Brulée?!), and Candy (Truffles and stuffed dates galore!).

I tried to cover the book’s variety in choosing my review recipes, so there’s a little of everything!

First up, Dark Chocolate Truffles.

Talk about crack in spherical form. Made from coconut oil, dates, maple syrup, and cocoa powder (okay, so these aren’t quite raw due to the last two ingredients, but they’re a heckuva lot more raw than what I’d be eating otherwise!), these little gems were melt-in-your-mouth sinful.

I made half of them with the traditional cocoa coating, and half using the coconut variation that the recipe provides.

Next time I make these, I might try the curry variation. My mom vetoed it this time around, but what does she know?!

Along with the truffles, I made some Pine Nut Caramels. Who knew that dates, pine nuts, and vanilla were so sexy together? These caramels lived up to their name–buttery, sweet, and, well, caramel-y!

Leaving the Candy chapter, I also explored Fruit Desserts by making the Banana-Caramel Crumble, and, boy, did I choose wisely.

Bananas are mashed with a Shortbread Crust, then topped with a date-cashew butter-maple syrup caramel sauce, and finally with more crust crumbles. I took Cornbleet’s suggestion and placed the crumbles in a slightly heated oven so that they would “warm up,” while still remaining raw.

The crumble was quite sweet, but given that it’s served in small ramekin-sized portions, it’s just right. My family and I agreed that no one would ever know that this dessert was raw without being told.

In my last post, I mentioned that I made a raw carrot cake to go with the standard carrot cake for my sister’s birthday. What I was actually referring to was the Spice Cake from this book, to which I added some grated carrots, and frosted with Vanilla Cashew Cream. Lucky for you, the Book Publishing Company has given me permission to share one recipe, and I knew it had to be this one.

Raw Spice Cake with Vanilla Cashew Cream
Yield: one 6-inch cake (8 servings)

Cream Ingredients
1 cup cashews, soaked for 8 to 12 hours (1 1/4 cups after soaking), drained and rinsed
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup light agave syrup or maple syrup (I used maple)
1 vanilla bean, seeds only or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used extract)

Ahead of time: Soak the cashews for 8 to 12 hours. Drain and rinse. Soaked cashews can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days.

Place the cashews, water, and agave syrup in a blender and process until very smooth. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the blender jar with a rubber spatula. Add the vanilla bean seeds and process until well combined. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.

Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator, Vanilla Cashew Cream will keep for 5 days.

Cake Ingredients
1/2 cup raw almonds (unsoaked)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded dried coconut
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch ground nutmeg
1 cup raw walnuts (unsoaked)
1 cup raw pecans (unsoaked)
8 pitted medjool dates
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 cup raisins
1-2 carrots, grated (my addition!)
1 tablespoon maple syrup or dark agave syrup (I used maple)

Place the almonds, coconut, cinnamon, ginger, salt, cloves, and nutmeg in a food processor fitted with the S blade and process until finely ground. Add the walnuts and pecans and process until finely ground. Add the dates and orange zest and process until the mixture begins to stick together. Add the raisins, maple syrup, and carrots and process briefly to incorporate.

Line a 6-inch cake pan with a parchment-paper round. Pour the nut mixture into the pan and distribute it evenly. Press down with your hand to compact.

To serve, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Place a serving plate upside down on top of the cake pan. Invert, then lift the pan off. Remove the parchment round.

Frost with Vanilla Cashew Cream.

Covered with plastic wrap, Spice Cake will keep for 5 days stored in the refrigerator or for 2 weeks stored in the freezer.

This cake is wonderfully dense, moist, and rich, so a little goes a long way. The orange zest was an especially nice touch–every bite was full of its vibrant flavor. Paired with the velvety sweetness of the cashew cream, this cake was dreamy.

If you didn’t get the message yet, this is a book that’s worth buying. Whether you’re an omnivore, vegan, or raw foodist, you’ll flip over these and countless other recipes. Plus, as far as I could see, none of the recipes called for a dehydrator, which, if I may generalize based on my own experience, can be frustrating for the average raw food amateur. As far as I’m concerned, Raw for Dessert blows Ani’s Raw Desserts (the only other raw dessert book I have) out of the water!

What are you waiting for? Go make some raw cake! If you’re still skeptical, check out Hannah’s, Celine’s, Bianca’s, and aTxVegn’s reviews!

How We Love Zee Pizza!

First of all, I just wanted to thank all of my caring readers for being so supportive of me in my half marathon! Your words meant a lot to me, and for those readers who said that my race had inspired them to consider training for one, I’m so glad that I was able to inspire you to inspire yourself! In other running news, I’ll most likely be doing the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon at home in January! I guess once you start, you can’t stop! I wanna get under 2 hours!

Now to the main point of business. So, um, Zpizza is the bomb.

Recently having discovered that there’s a Zpizza in Upland, just 20 minutes away from Pomona, my vegan friend Stephanie and my gluten- and dairy-free friend James decided to have a study party with pizza pizza party (to be fair, we maybe did homework for 15 minutes…)

The only pizza I’ve had since being vegan, not counting ones I’ve made myself at home, was at Viva Herbal in NYC and at Green in Tempe (will be posting about that soon!), but NEVER before have I had delivery pizza. Classic, greasy, delivery pizza with a real crust and melty “cheese.”

I’m pretty sure Stephanie and James were in a similar boat, because we were all really freaking excited when these boxes finally arrived (we were also excited that delivery was free…)

Zpizza is unique in that, not only do they have vegan cheese (they used to have a non-vegan soy one with casein, but now they use Daiya, which is soy-free – and free of most allergens, at that – and made of cassava root! They haven’t updated the site yet, so just call your local Zpizza to make sure they now use Daiya), but they also offer whole-wheat and gluten-free crusts, and organic tomato sauce. And that’s not to mention their more than extensive range of fresh and healthful toppings! Some of which toppings you’re about to get a nice little preview…

Steph and I split a large pizza (we ordered whole-wheat, but I’m pretty sure that’s not what we got…oh well). My half was roasted garlic sauce, Daiya cheese (duh), spinach, caramelized onions, roasted yams, pineapple, and fresh basil:

Steph’s was the same, but with eggplant instead of the pineapple, and with tomato sauce as well:

And Jamesie got a nice little gluten-free personal pizza. He wanted his to be a traditional cheese pizza, so he stuck with tomato sauce, Daiya, and basil. Can’t blame him, though. Look at it!

Yeah, I know you’re waiting for the delightfully greasy, mid-bite money shot…

Daiya tastes best hot, so be sure to reheat your slices if they cool down – it really makes a difference in your Zpizza experience, I promise.

Next time, I think I’m getting tomato sauce, Daiya, avocado, sun-dried tomatoes, and cilantro. Oh, and actually on whole wheat this time.

Back to the pizza party. You didn’t think we could end it without dessert, didya?

What flavor? Why, only the best ice cream known to vegankind – and mankind! Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Cookie Dough!

It’s gluten-free, which I had forgotten until I saw the labeling at the store, and then I just knew I had to get it to round out our night. See picture below for humongous chunk of said gluten-free cookie dough.

Happy kids, finally feeling like typical, unhealthy college students.

Gluten-Free Sunrise

Two gluten-free sunrises, actually! I’m sure most of you are familiar with Nature’s Path. Not only are they an exclusively organic company, but, as far as I’m concerned, they have yet to make a bad cereal – well, I’ve only tried the vegan ones, but I’d guess that 90% of their cereals are vegan anyways, the main non-vegan offender being the occasional inclusion of honey. I lurrrve their Peanut Butter Granola and my family adores their Flax Plus, especially my dad. He has a bowl of Flax Plus with raisins and bananas every single morning of his life unless I happen to be whipping up some pancakes or muffins, in which case he can usually be prevailed on to leave the Flax Plus in the pantry. He even uses 1/2 soy milk in it! Someday I’ll get him to 100% soy milk – funny story: when I was little, my dad had read that soy is especially beneficial for young girls in early stages of development, so he started diluting my cow’s milk with soy milk, gradually upping the concentration until my little five-year-old self eventually caught on and called him out on it!

Anyways, Nature’s Path makes an insane amount of gluten-free cereals. I tried my first one – Mesa Sunrise – this summer when, with my stomach problems, I was afraid I might have a gluten-sensitivity. It turned out not to be a gluten-allergy (I still don’t know what it was!), but the “scare” got me more interested in gluten-free, or at least wheat-free, alternatives because I, like most of you, eat a lot of wheat, and too much of anything isn’t a good thing. A large percentage of wheat is genetically-modified too. Finally, even if wheat isn’t unhealthy per se, it’s not as nutrient-packed as other grains like quinoa.

So, you can imagine how excited I was when, at work at the Weil Lifestyle office this summer, one of my coworkers announced a shipment of Nature’s Path cereal samples had arrived. The chance to sample unreleased cereal from one of my favorite health food companies in the world? And gluten-free cereal? And one of them is MAPLE flavored? Um, hello!

I present to you Crunchy Maple Sunrise and Crunchy Vanilla Sunrise, Nature’s Path’s two new gluten-free options. Maple Sunrise:

As you can see, it has a great texture. Although I enjoyed the Mesa Sunrise I tried over the summer, the flakes were a little monotonous. These new cereals have flakes and various sizes of puffs. Yummy, and keeps you on your toes!

Here’s the Vanilla Sunrise, served with Trader Joe’s new Whole Grain Milk (which is also really good – have any of you guys tried it?):

I really liked both cereals, but as I’m a bit of a maple fanatic, it was obviously my favorite of the two. And yes, they are sweeter than something like Flax Plus, but sometimes that’s okay! I’d say they’re on the sweeter side of healthy. That’s a nice way to put it, isn’t it?

According to this article, they should be on sale next week (September 13th!), so go get ’em!