Saturday, January 24, 2009

How vegans can enjoy Girl Scout cookie season

Ok, I know it's only January, but I am fairly positive that I have already found my favorite recipe of 2009. Drum roll please. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrumclang! It's this homemade version of the Thin Mint a.k.a. the best cookie in the world.

That's right folks, girl scout cookie season is upon us and here are are some reasons why you should make your own instead of shelling out $4.50 per box:

1) Girl scout cookies infamously use a ton of packaging. No need to destroy the Earth anymore than is necessary!

2) Like 99% of mass produced foodstuffs, girl scout cookies contain all sorts of weird ingredients such as TBHQ which has been shown to cause tumors in lab rats (although to be fair, what hasn't been proven to cause cancer in those little furry buggers???). Not to mention milk which may be a problem for you if you are a vegan, which if you are reading this blog, you may very well be.

3) The girl scouts actually only get 50 cents per box sold. So why not just donate 5 bucks to your favorite troop instead. For that matter, why not donate 5 bucks to a worthier cause. Girl scouts don't really need your money to go on fancy vacations--which is what my troop always did with our funds.

Now you may be reading this post and remembering that I am on a detox which means I really have no business making chocolate cookies dipped in even more chocolate. Ahhh yes, it's true. I did take a little break from the detox to make these, but only because I HAD to. You see, Kirby Von Scrumptious and her boy toy Joe were awesome enough to watch my beloved doggie while I hit the slopes in Mammoth earlier this month, and I absolutely had to give her a little token of my appreciation. You see? Making these cookies was an absolute necessity . Of course, half way through the baking process I remembered that Kirby was also doing the detox. Doh! Luckily, as any girl scout knows, thin mints are best enjoyed straight out of the freezer, so these babies will last a long time, as in they will be there for when the detox ends. The Von Scrumpster, knowing my love of toy cameras, also got me this awesome fisheye camera for Christmas which I used to record my Mammoth trip. Don't you wish Kirby was your BFF too???

Back to les cookies: to veganize the recipe I simply used Earth Balance in place of butter and soy milk in place of dairy. When I first tasted the dough I thought the peppermint was too overpowering, however, after baking and then being dipped in chocolate, I think next time I will actually pump the peppermint extract up from 3/4 tsp. to a whole teaspoon. I also tried using less butter in the chocolate dip portion of the recipe as, although the coating is completely delish, it does taste a bit buttery. However, you really need the butter to make the chocolate be the right consistency. These cookies at bottom are ones where I didn't thin the chocolate enough and you can see they are pretty gloppy and unpretty. Next time I will experiment thinning with soy milk instead of Earth Balance for a subtler taste.

101 Cookbooks also has a recipe for thin mints that would be easily veganizable. I might try this recipe next time (although that won't be for many months as these cookies ended up SERIOUSLY comprising my diet) however Heidi has the peppermint oil in the coating and not in the cookie which is just plain inaccurate so I will have to remedy that :)
I highly recommend you making these, unless of course you aren't willing to pack on a few pounds in the name of sheer tasty pleasure.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Naturewell Opens in Silver Lake

After walking by the "opening soon" sign for Naturewell many a time over the past few months, the juice bar and bulk good shops has finally opened. Craving a smoothie but finding I was out of frozen fruit, the pup and I decided to check the new place out.

I had a berry smoothie which was great but, let's face it, it's pretty much impossible to make a bad smoothie. They use regular or vegan ice cream as the smoothie base, but as I am detoxing, I just asked if they could mix it with apple juice and they happily obliged. At $6.50 for 32 oz (mine pictured here was 16 oz.) I will probably just keep making smoothies at home for a fraction of the cost, but I am excited to have a bulk good shop so close to home.

Aside from the "wellness bar" where one can get smoothies or custom made juices made from a menu of fruits and veggies, the shop has a decent selection of bulk grains, beans, dried fruit, cereal, and snacks. They also sell some prepackaged vegan goodies like vegan ice cream bars and those expensive tortilla chips they sell at M Cafe. Here is their juice menu:
Naturewell also has a cozy little nook with fluffy white pillows as well as tables outside, so you can stop and enjoy your buys in comfort. I for one am pretty excited about this place. You may notice that this menu includes a type which is one of my biggest pet peeves: spelling Silver Lake as one word. Don't ask me why this bugs me so. It just does. It's two words people!!! Ok, I'm starting to sound bananas...

Naturewell is basically a smaller version of Naturemart with a juice bar, so go knock back a wheat grass shot and get some groceries at the same time. It's also a couple doors down from Flore, so maybe you can cap it all of with a tasty vegan dessert!

3824 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Another soul crushing "Biggest Loser" and cupcakes galore

Okay, first order of business. Is anyone out there a Biggest Loser fan? I don't know how you couldn't be. It is by far the most fascinating and emotionally charged social experiment of our time. Kirby Von Scrumptious and I like the show so much that last year I made some phone calls (in which I may or may not have acted like my own personal assistant so as to seem like an important Hollywood player) to get us tickets to the live taping of the Season 5 season finale. I continue to watch the show even though I often suffer from post-show depression from tearing up and/or sob an average of five times per episode (although at least one of those times is because I am so disgusted by the absurd abundance of product placement.)
The episode that aired tonight was particularly killer. I cannot believe those knuckleheads voted off Jerry!!! I know there has only been two episodes this season but I've already fallen in love with that white-haired teddy bear and to see him go so soon was like taking a swift kick to the head. Which is what I will give to those contestants who voted for Jerry to leave should I ever encounter them out there in the real world!

On to some food...

This winter I finally got in on the cupcake craze with the rest of the vegan blogosphere. It all started when I made a batch for a coworker to bring to the set of the new show he works on. They turned out great and then I had all the ingredients in the cupboard so I just kept making more. The most popular turned out to be the Cookies 'N' Cream cupcake from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Maaaaan oh man are they good. If you want to woo a cute boy or girl, I highly recommend making a batch of these babies.

I also made VCTOTW's Mucho Margarita Cupcakes. With real tequila in the mix, what's not to love?

Here is The Food Monster getting ready to cram a Jelly Donut cupcake from Veganomicon into his face. These were also delish although they were almost more breakfast-y than dessert like. Also, the book says that the jelly is supposed to submerge itself while baking, which did not happen with mine. I've seen other bloggers had their jelly sink successfully (like Vegan Dad's) so I don't know what's up with mine.

My favorite cupcake flavor turned out to be a concoction I whipped up myself after being inspired by a lunch at Hugo's: horchata. I am going to save the recipe for a little creative venture I'm working on (no, no, not a cookbook), but I will post the recipe at a later date because everyone should be able to experience the exquisite joy that is an horchata cupcake.

You may notice that the frosting in all of these pictures looks rather thin and flat. These photos were taken in my earliest cupcakes before I figured out that lessening, or in some cases, completely omitting milk from the frosting recipe creates a more normal, thick frosting. Also, I want to point out that I have learned to cut the frosting recipes from VCTOTW by a third because they recipes make an INSANE amount. I was sick of having an entire mixing bowl of frosting left over.

Ok, I need to stop looking at this cupcake porn now--a detoxing lady can only take so much temptation!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Odds and Ends

Hello friends! Long time no blog. I have been M.I.A. for a while due to general holiday insanity. Before I skipped town to visit various family members in various cities, I was super busy running around like a maniac making Christmas presents, doing things that I had put off all fall because I couldn't bring myself to leave the hammock, and taking my dog to visit Santa.
Here are some odds and ends from the vegan life of late.

Vegan Potluck
Vegyogini and Your Vegan Mom hosted a wonderful vegan potluck for the local vegan blogging community. Everyone brought an hors d'oeuvres which meant that we had one mean spread to feast on. All the food was amazing. Personally, I think I ate about 300 of the little testicular Saku that Foodeater brought along with 99 fried raviolis (I can't remember who brought those ravioli but damn they were good!) in addition to all the other awesome goodies that were there. I had planned on making homemade summer rolls but with the aforementioned insanity that was December, I needed something less labor intensive. So I ended up whipping up a batch of Veganomicon's walnut-mushroom paté. It was pretty tasty and was fairly simple to make so I would definitely recommend it. The group of omni boys who happened to be shooting a web video in my apartment while I was making it (seriously, December was truly bananas) gobbled up the paté that didn't fit into my serving dish.
It was so awesome finally being able to put faces to bloggers! Hopefully there will be more meet ups in the future. Unfortunately I had to peace out a little early because I had to run and catch The Food Monster on his last night in town before he moved out of L.A. I can pretty much guarantee the vegan blogging community will not miss you one bit my offensive friend, but I, for one, have cried myself to sleep every night since you left. At least we didn't have to have a teary goodbye on The Food Monster's last night in town as we met up mere days later at my favorite karaoke spot in North Carolina. Good times, good times.

A Mighty-O Surprise!

Ever since I heard about Mighty-O Donuts in Seattle about a year ago, I have been gushing about wanting to try to them to my friend Leif, a Seattle native. When I got back to L.A. for my one day between trips right before New Year's, Leif dropped by my house with a surprise: TWO DOZEN MIGHTY-O DONUTS and an ADORABLE Mighty-O t-shirt!!! Happy New Year to me! I could barely manage to snap this photo of the donuts before I tore into them. There was a vast assortment of flavors including lemon poppy seed (my personal favorite), chocolate coconut, plain, chocolate glazed, chocolate peanut, cinnamon sugar (my second favorite), and sprinkle.
Holy cannoli these were so friggin' good. Many regular donuts (i.e. not cake-style) are actually inherently vegan but cake donuts are not, so it has been a long while since I've had the joy of stuffing a scrumptious cake donut into my head. This was the perfect treat at the perfect time-- I stuffed these into my car for the second leg of my holiday vacation to Las Vegas and Mammoth and they managed to continue feeding me and my passengers for the next 5 days! I was shocked how long the shelf life of these babies were, especially since they don't have preservatives. I mean they didn't taste 100% fresh after a week (Leif got them to me two days after he bought them) but they still tasted great and not at all stale. Everyone who tried the donuts could not believe they were vegan, which is the ultimate test of how good your vegan product is. It's probably a pretty good thing we don't have a Mighty-O in L.A., elst I might pack on a few hundred more pounds. Thanks Leify!!!!

An Awesome Vegan Cheesecake
My boyfriend and I had our own post-Christmas Christmas dinner since we weren't in the same state for the actual day. He volunteered to make dessert and found a recipe for a vegan cheesecake. I must admit, I was a little skeptical about whether or not he could pull it off. He literally had never baked anything before in his life. He had to call me a couple times for some clarification (what's a water bath? how do you zest a lemon?) but that damn cheesecake came out perfectly! He smashed up some blackberries and picked up a can of Soy Whip whipped cream for toppings. He even made the crust from scratch! I was very, very impressed. If you are looking for a good vegan cheesecake recipe, I totally recommend this one.

Veg food in Mammoth Lakes

The last leg of my holiday tour took me and the bf to Mammoth for a few days of snowboarding. I was fully prepared to be able to eat pretty much nothing both on the slopes and in the town, and had packed an arsenal of Lara Bars and other goodies to keep me fed, but was pleasantly surprised to find that Mammoth is very vegan friendly! I was shocked when we stopped to rest at Mill Cafe on the mountain in between runs and found vegetarian chili. Usually ski lodges are about as veg-friendly as ballparks (although Dodger stadium actually is veg-friendly, you know what I mean--like most other baseball stadiums). We asked if they could pour our chili over an order of fries and that was basically the best idea of all time. I couldn't think of a more perfect snack to warm me up and give me an energy boost than those delicious chili fries. I don't know if they have that chili at all of Mammoth's food spots, so be sure to check before you ski down there.
We also had a super excellent meal at a Mexican joint in town called Gomez's. We both ordered the Grande Veggie Burrito which was filled with super fresh veggies and was surprisingly light for being a pretty ginormous burrito. Their complimentary chips and salsa were pretty much the best I've ever had. The chips were so light and non-greasy somehow. It was one of the best Mexican meals I've had.

Everyone can now Comment :)
It was brought to my attention (thank you, Foodeater!) that my blog was set so that only people with gmail accounts could post comments. I had no idea! Oooooops. I have changed the setting so now everyone should be able to comment away!

It's detox time!
In February of last year, Kirby Von Scrumptious and I did a 28 day detox that was pretty difficult but was really great as it makes you feel really fantabulous. As I am already vegan, the detox just requires that I don't have any white flour, wheat, refined sugar, salt, caffeine, or alcohol. It may not sound too difficult but trust me, after a week with no flour, you start having dreams about eating 45 bags of plain tortillas. I had started the detox but then got derailed two days in to it (woops!) so I am starting again tomorrow. And now I have to. Because it is published. on the web. its official. see? Anyway, look out for a lot of healthy posts from me in the near future!