Vegan Meetup Love!

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I was recently invited to be a guest speaker at the Inland Empire Vegan Meetup. Due to speech anxiety, I wanted to say, “No”, but instead I blurted, “Sure!” I’m glad I agreed, however; because the members were so welcoming that I hardly felt anxious during my talk.

Not only was the group friendly, but they were awesome! They do fun events like potluck dinners, dining out, screenings of vegan-related movies and cooking classes. I was also excited to learn that many of their members are not vegan. It’s a comfortable place for non-vegans and vegans alike. I loved the group so much that I joined, but since they meet an hour from my house I doubt I’ll attend often.

Other Meetups I belong to

Although I haven’t been in a while, I’m also a member of the Greater Orange County Animal Rights Roundtable Meetup. I’ve met some amazing people at this group like Dave Simon, the inspiring author of Meatonomics and talented artist, Tania Marie. This is a passionate group that works hard on behalf of animals.

And I belong to the Plant-Based Living Meetup. This is a health-based group founded by Katherine Nilbrink, the plant-based nutritionist I worked with when I first went vegan. I’d love to attend Katherine’s potlucks and cooking classes but commuting in LA traffic keeps me away.

Since distance seems to be preventing me from attending Meetup functions, last night I searched for local groups. I was excited to find Orange County Active and Vegan for Life in Laguna Beach. I’ve joined them, and since they’re close I hope to be attending soon!

Do you belong to a Meetup?

Image courtesy of Active Vegetarian.

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I Love this Kiddo!

Check him out on Twitter: The Vegan Kid.

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Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies (vegan)

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The plant-strong diet I follow doesn’t allow sugar. I thought it would be impossible to cut sugar out of my life, but it’s not been as hard as I thought it would be. My sweet tooth doesn’t suffer because I’ve learned how to make wonderful medjool date sweetened desserts like Orange Chocolate Pudding.

I have yet to master a great date-sweetened cookie, however. I’m sure there are some out there, but I’ve been disappointed with the recipes I’ve tried. So when I make cookies, I still use real sugar. I figure a little sugar on rare occasions won’t kill me.

The problem with this is that I can’t make cookies without binging on them. And then, once I’ve tasted sugar again, I crave it. So, I decided that I wasn’t going make cookies anymore.

But that resolution didn’t last long!

While visiting my in-laws for my mother-in-law’s birthday last week, my mother-in-law hinted that she was disappointed that I didn’t bake cookies for her birthday this year (I’ve done so every year since I met her). I caved and made her cookies.

Since they were for her 80th birthday, I had to make something special. She told me she wanted chocolate chip cookies, so that was my starting point. It’s hard to improve on chocolate chip cookies, but I just may have done it. It was agreed by all who tasted them that these orange infused chocolate chip cookies were to-die-for!

I will also note that baking the cookies was a nice way to bond with my mom-in-law since I made them at her house. I’m glad I did it, but I’m still afraid that I’ll crave sugar again. Oh well, some things are just more important.

This recipe is inspired by allrecipes.com.

Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds

6 tablespoons water

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup Earth Balance margarine

1/2 cup vegan white sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon orange zest

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon organic orange flavor

1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped

1 vegan orange chocolate bar, chopped into chip sized pieces

3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a small bowl, mix flax seeds with water and set aside.

3. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into mixing bowl and set aside. Cream Earth Balance, sugars, orange zest, vanilla extract and orange flavor together in a large bowl until light and fluffy.

4. Add half of the flax-seed mixture and beat well and then add the rest of flax-seed mixture and beat again. Add dry ingredients and stir until combined. Stir in chocolate and nuts and mix until well blended.

5. Drop by slightly rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Flatten slightly. Bake for about 15 or 16 minutes or until golden. Cool on the cookie sheets.

Makes 4 dozen cookies

Gluten-Free Version

I’m so tickled that this recipe inspired my blogger friend, Violet, to make her first vegan cookies. She altered the recipe to make the cookies gluten and nut-free. She also added the nice addition of cranberries. Check out her yummy recipe here.

Sugar and Oil-free Version!

I may not have mastered date-sweetened cookies, but it looks like my buddy Annie has. Check out her date-sweetened Orange-Triple Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies. I haven’t made these yet, but Annie’s recipes are always amazing!

Notes:

I found Simply Organic Orange Flavor at Whole Foods Market, but it’s also available through Amazon.

I never got any photos of the cookies (we ate them too fast!), so I used a photo representation. The photo is courtesy of Cooking Classy. You might want to check out the Easter Chick Cookies on this site – they’re not vegan, but I’m sure they could be veganized.

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Café Dreams

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Life Alive in Cambridge, MA

When I first went vegan, I fantasized about opening a plant-based café. I even dragged my husband all over Southern Orange County looking for the perfect location for my restaurant.

When I got serious about the idea, I contacted the owner of Life Alive, my favorite vegan restaurant in Boston, to chat with her about restaurant ownership. She invited me to spend some time working in her kitchen and off I went. My time in the Life Alive kitchen, however; squashed my café dreams. Restaurant ownership was hard!

That was awhile ago, and I thought my café dreams were over, but I’m thinking about it again.

Here’s how it happened…

Yesterday I made my first vegan cheese, An Unrefined Vegan’s Cashew Coconut Cream Cheese. The stuff was amazing, better than dairy cream cheese for sure. And it’s a cinch to make. Just whip the ingredients and let it set in the fridge.

This got me thinking about how easy it would be for bagel shops to add vegan schmears to their offerings. Since we live in an omnivore world, however; I assumed few bagel bakeries would bother. This bummed me out.

Then I thought, maybe I should open a vegan bagel bakery. I could sell healthier bagels made from sprouted whole grains and a variety of nut-based schmears. I could even make healthier versions of espresso drinks like vegan mochas sweetened with dates.

Oh no, here I go again!

Photo courtesy of Carrots ‘N’ Cake.

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When Are You Going to Write About My Chickens?

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My sis and her chick

My sister recently told me that she was going vegan, but then she got three chickens to raise for eggs. I was disappointed that she wasn’t following through with going vegan, but I’m not judging her. Sure, I’d like to see her adopt my lifestyle, but a judgmental attitude will only make her less open to veganism. So instead, I took photos of her lovelies.

I’d planned on posting the pictures awhile ago, but I never got to it. Then last night my sister asked me, “When are you going to write about my chickens?” So today, I got to it.

Michelle, Linda and Larissa, this post is for you!

1. I’ll never be a nugget!

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2. Birds of a feather

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3. In the shade

IMG_15514. Two of a kind

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Cool links!

The Joyless Vegan shared this touching article about hens and their eggs: A Hen’s Relationship with Her Eggs, as well as this informative one, What’s Wrong With Backyard Eggs?.

Sophia from Love and Lentils shared a wonderful little video, Bird Brain (it’s really short, check it out!).

My blog follower, Mychael M. shared interesting link: Eggs: What Are You Really Eating?.

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Super Cute

celestedimilla:

Even Walt Disney himself couldn’t create a critter this cute. I think I’m in love. :)

Originally posted on Mud 'n Feathers:

Super Cute

A Japanese dwarf flying squirrel. Too cute for words!

View original

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Was Noah Really Vegan?

 

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When I spoke to my mom the other day, she suggested I see the movie, Noah. “Is it good?” I asked.

“No, I give it one or one and a half stars, but I think you’ll like it because Noah doesn’t eat animals.”

Then today, my blogger friend, Diahann from Stories from the Belly, also said I should see the movie for the same reason. I got the sense that Diahann liked Noah more than my mom did, however.

I don’t know if I’ll see the movie or not, but thinking about Noah and veganism reminded me of when my dad told me that he thought it was okay to eat meat because Jesus ate fish. And I’ve known other Christians who believe that God created animals for humans to use as they see fit, including for food.

Curious, I Googled Noah and veganism. I found a blog post of the same name that shares, “…like it or not, according to the Bible, man was created to be a vegan. I’m not even kidding (see Gen. 1:30, Gen. 2:9)”.

I’m no biblical scholar, but I think that God allowed humans to eat animals after the flood, but only as a concession to our sin and violence.

So what does that mean for Christians? And if you’re Christian, of another faith or spiritual, do you feel that your faith sheds any light on what you should eat?

You’ve got to read these quotes!

My bible scholar reader, Allen, shared a great comment below. Here’s a snippet of what he said:

“Genesis 1:29-30 tells us that human and non-human animals alike were given plants to eat, and as you note, this is reiterated in the ninth verse of the second chapter. Genesis 2:18-19 implies that animals were made to be friends or companions to humans. Taken together, these verses strongly suggest peace between God’s human and nonhuman creatures, prior to the fall.”

Then later Allen writes, “…Noah is a story about a God deeply grieved by human cruelty and violence, not just to one another, but also to other animals, and to the creation as a whole. I think this has clear implications for the way we live now. Factory farms, for instance, are clearly a kind of violence that Jews and Christians alike ought to condemn.”

See below for the rest of Allen’s comment and for more food for thought, check out:

Why Did God Create Animals?

What Would Jesus Eat Today?

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Jane Goodall Inspiration

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Jane Goodall, the inspirational primatologist who is credited for her efforts in the field of chimpanzee research and protection, recently turned 80. But age isn’t holding this chica down, she continues to lecture all over the world and recently released a new book, Seeds of Hope.

I recently ran across an interview with Goodall and was moved by her answer to what working with chimpanzees taught her about life. She said, “:…we humans are not the only beings on the planet with personalities, minds capable of rational thought, and above all, emotions. Now we know many other animals have intellectual capabilities once thought unique to us”.

Then later when asked about how people should treat the environment, she responded “…animals need us to respect them. The way we abuse them is so terrible. The billions of animals raised for food around the world—this process is destroying the planet. Vast areas of forest are cut down to make space for growing grain, or grazing. Vast amounts of methane gases are produced—a worse greenhouse gas than C02″.

Powerful words from an inspirational woman!

You can find the full interview at FEMPOWER. And if you’re not familiar with how eating meat is bad for the environment, check out the article, Why Eating Meat is Bad for the Environment.

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Vegan Easter Candy!!!

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I have a serious sweet tooth, so I thought I’d never be able to follow a Plant Strong Diet because it doesn’t allow sugar. But giving up sugar was easier than I thought it would be, mostly thanks to medjool dates. Once reserved for royalty, medjool dates are so soft and sweet that they taste like caramel. I use them to sweeten everything from chocolate pudding to hot chocolate.

As wonderful as date-sweetened desserts are, there are times when I still eat regular ol’ sugar. I try not to do this often, but it’s an indulgence I allow myself for holidays. That being said, Easter is fast approaching so bring on the candy!

Here’s my vegan Easter candy round up:

Rice Crisp Bunny & Chocolate Eggs 

This adorable vegan chocolate bunny speckled with rice crisps and flavored solid chocolate eggs makes a delightful vegan Easter gift. From Allison’s Gourmet.

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Rice Crisp Bunny & Chocolate Eggs

Veeps – Vegan Peeps

No Easter basket is complete without a few Peeps. Thankfully, Sweet & Sara make a vegan version of this must-have Easter treat. And isn’t this Veep photo from Bittersweet adorable!

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Vegan Peeps

Spring Organic Vegan Dark Chocolates

If you want to ignite a Spring romance, this box of chocolates from Eco3P might just do the trick.

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P Spring Organic Vegan Dark Chocolates

Box of Chocolate Bunnies

Give your loved ones healthy Easter treats with Organic & Fair Trade chocolate from Mama Ganache! They have a great selection of Easter goodies like these delicious handmade Bunnies.

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Box of Chocolate Bunnies

Jelly Beans

Get your vegan jelly beans from Vegan Sweets. And if you’re giving them to a grown up, why not fill a martini glass instead of a basket.

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Jelly Bean Martini

Easter Eggs Gift Box

Celebrate Easter with a gift box of fairly traded and organic egg-shaped chocolates! Be sure to get the dark chocolate ones that are not only vegan, but also soy and gluten-free. From Equal Exchange.

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Organic Easter Eggs Gift Box

Mikey the Magical Milkless Bunny

I love the fun collection of chocolate bunnies from Premium Chocolatiers like Mikey the Magical Milkless Bunny and Vincent Van Vegan Painter Bunny. I also read on Go Dairy Free that these chocolates are especially tasty.

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Mikey the Magical Milkless Bunny

Organic Hazelnut Chocolate Easter Egg

This milk chocolate tasting dairy free Easter egg has infused pieces of caramelized hazelnut in the shell. Sounds delish! It’s manufactured by MooFree in the UK.

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Organic Hazelnut Chocolate Easter Egg

Happy Easter!

Jelly Bean Martini photo courtesy of Elle Ellinghaus. Mikey the Magical Milkless Bunny photo courtesy of Go Dairy Free.

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Recipes to Make You Say, “YES!” to Vegan Cheese

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My mom, my blogger friend, Mike, and countless others have told me that they can’t go vegan because they could never give up cheese. I get where they’re coming from – I was there. I found, however; that giving up cheese was easier than I imagined it would be. Sure, it was hard at first, but once I discovered how to make wonderful sauces, cheese-free pizzas and other cheese replacements it was a cinch (and delicious too!).

I’ve been perfectly content without cheese, but a few weeks ago my sister mentioned that a vegan cheese shop, Peace Cheese, opened up in San Diego. I thought this was strange because I didn’t think it was possible to make really good vegan cheese. Online, however; their cheeses – like Cashew Glow and Pumpkin Sun - looked tasty.

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“Pumpkin Sun” – Vegan Cheese Alternative to mild Cheddar by PeaceCheese

I have yet to make the trip to San Diego to check out Peace Cheese (I will soon!), but they’ve awakened me to the possibility that great vegan cheese exists. What’s funny is that once I opened my mind to vegan cheese, I started noticing tempting recipes on blogs I follow. How did I miss these for the past two years?

So now I’m embarking on a new phase of my veganism, I’m getting cheesy with it! I’m gonna start making artisan vegan cheeses so that the next time someone tells me, “I can’t go vegan because I can’t give up cheese,” I’ll simply stuff their face with a cheese I’ve made and smile.

If you want to “get cheesy” with me, check out these great recipes.

Recipes to Make You Say, “Yes!” to Vegan Cheese

Baked Cashew Cheese

Emma, from Coconut & Berries calls cashews, “the magical nut!” One look at her Baked Cashew Cheese has me convinced that she’s right. Also check out Superfoodista’s remake of this recipe.

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Baked Cashew Cheese

Cashew Coconut Cream Cheese

Annie from an Unrefined Vegan always wows me with her luscious recipes, and her Cashew Coconut Cream Cheese is no exception. Just imagine this stuff on a bagel!

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Cashew Coconut Cream Cheese

Quick and Easy Vegan Cream Cheese

If you want vegan cream cheese in a jiffy, try Welcome to Abby’s Kitchen’s Quick and Easy Vegan Cream Cheese.

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Quick and Easy Vegan Cream Cheese

Vegan Parmesan Cheese

I found lots of recipes for vegan Parmesan. The one pictured below is from Veggiful.com and is made with cashews. Since a lot of the cheese recipes I’ve found use cashews, I was also excited to find The Passion for Compassion’s recipe made from almonds.

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Vegan Parmesan

15 Minute Grate-able and Melt-able Vegan Cheese

Leave it to Poppy from Bunny Kitchen to make what she calls, “a fast, simple vegan cheddar style cheese”. Also check out matchamochi’s version of Poppy’s recipe.

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15 Minute Grate-able and Melt-able Vegan Cheese

Macadamia Nut Brie

The hardest cheese for me to give up was brie, but I guess I never had to. Just look at this Macadamia Nut Brie from Vegged Out. If I bring this to a party, I bet I’ll never get told, “I can’t give up cheese,” by anyone ever again.

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Macadamia Nut Brie en Croute

Tofu Ricotta

Here’s a simple Tofu Ricotta recipe from Girl Eats Greens.

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Tofu ricotta

Vegan Strawberry Cream Cheese

I just discovered that my blogger friend Sophie has some wonderful vegan cream cheese recipes like her Vegan Strawberry Cream Cheese.

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If you don’t want to bother with making your own cheese, Celeste from Compassionate Tummies recomends Door 86 Vegan Cheese. They can be ordered online. And check out this Review of Vegan Cream Cheese Brands.

I’ll close with a cheesy smile :-)

Pumpkin Sun Vegan Cheese photo by Yelper, Reenie V.

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