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US VegWeek – Take the Pledge!
Apr17

US VegWeek – Take the Pledge!

My friends at Compassion Over Killing are always up to great things, including encouraging people to make better choices on behalf of animals. There are 52 weeks in a year. Why not make one of them vegetarian? That’s the idea behind US VegWeek, a nationwide campaign COK first launched in 2009, empowering thousands of people from coast to coast to pledge to choose vegetarian foods for at least seven days as a way to discover the many benefits and flavors of meat-free eating. This year’s US VegWeek, starting next Monday (Earth Day!), comes on the heels of a United Nations report urging the developed world to cut their meat intake in half in order to avoid continuing down a path leading to serious environmental damage. It couldn’t be easier to give meat-free a try and feel good about making choices that make a difference. US VegWeek provides a fun and supportive opportunity for pledgers to explore delicious meat-free meals while receiving support, recipes, and tips via its web site. And you will hardly be alone in the adventure. In addition to the thousands taking the pledge this year, several cities and counties also have expressed their support for US VegWeek through official proclamations including Washington, D.C., Tucson, Arizona, Montgomery County, Maryland, and Charlottesville, Virginia. “Every time we sit down to eat, we can stand up for our health, the planet, and animals simply by choosing vegetarian foods,” says COK’s Executive Director Erica Meier. “And US VegWeek offers a fun and supportive way to get started.” So what are you waiting for? Take the pledge and enjoy being a part of this awesome nationwide...

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Eating in Raleigh, North Carolina
Apr10

Eating in Raleigh, North Carolina

I recently made my first trip to the Research Triangle and enjoyed some great vegan food while I was visiting. Downtown Raleigh and the surrounding cluster of quaint neighborhoods feature lots of shops and restaurants, including some fantastic veg-friendly places. The Irregardless Cafe (the Literature major in me chuckles at this non-word people still use so often) has a wonderful energy about it, bustling with diners and some great live music, with a cozy setting of warm woods and local artwork. There’s a “Vegetarian and Vegan” section on the menu, but other vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-friendly offerings, including appetizers and salads, are clearly marked on the menu for the veg crowd. Someone at our table ordered the vegan Vietnamese Spring Rolls, which looked and tasted delicious. Meanwhile, I ordered the appetizer special of vegan “oysters” (a blend of seitan and soy, with just the right amount of salty to make a convincing substitute) to pass around the table. For our entrees, I had the Happy Bowl, a heaping mix of steamed vegetables — I got extra vegetables in lieu of tofu — with short grain rice and green lentils with ginger miso sauce. SO good. My husband Seth had what may be one of the best vegan Pad Thai dishes I’ve every had — not too sweet, and it came with vegetables and seitan. Other places to try if you’re in town: The Remedy Diner This bar/cafe in the heart of downtown (that kind of feels more like a British pub) turned out to be the best surprise of the trip. We started with the flash-fried broccoli bites, which are  seasoned with garlic and served with a homemade vegan ranch dressing. It doesn’t look like anything fancy, but… wow. Then we ordered two sandwiches. The “Tempeh Tantrum,” voted by PETA as one of the Top Five Sandwiches in the U.S. was a delicious combo of tempeh, pesto, and avocado slices; the tempeh reuben may be the best vegan reuben I’ve had. Finally, we topped it off by sharing a slice of rich, super-moist chocolate cake. Thaiphoon Bistro Sleek, cool zen vibe. I had a mild yellow curry made with coconut milk that came loaded with vegetables and tofu. Seth usually gets vegan Pad Thai when he has the option, but here he ordered the XXX, which I tasted and thought was really good (though more than a forkful would have been a little too spicy for me). Blue Mango Right across the street from Thaiphoon. I didn’t have time to eat there myself, but there are plenty of veg-friendly options at this contemporary Indian cuisine spot. Fiction Kitchen Sweet...

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Tal Ronnen’s New L.A. Restaurant
Apr02

Tal Ronnen’s New L.A. Restaurant

I have been a huge fan of Chef Tal Ronnen for a long time. At home, we use his cookbook The Conscious Cook. When in Vegas, we choose to stay at The Wynn, where he serves as Collaborative Chef to ensure incredible vegan cuisine at each of the hotel’s restaurants and cafes. So how bummed was I that during our most recent jaunt to L.A. there simply was no time to have dinner at his brand new restaurant, Crossroads Kitchen, which just opened a couple of weeks ago. NEXT time. My friend Jaya has been kind enough to share photos of her recent meal at Crossroads. The Kale Spanakopita looks like it alone may be worth a plane ticket back to L.A. asap!   Thanks for sharing, Jaya! As always, you rock. Chef Ronnen: Crossroads NYC?...

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Galileo’s Freckles (and birthday cupcakes!)
Mar29

Galileo’s Freckles (and birthday cupcakes!)

Happy 7th Birthday, Galileo! Our darling “fluffer nutter” Galileo has peanut butter-colored freckles as plentiful as the stars of the constellations, but early on I decided on this story: Once upon a time, in heaven, a bunch of angels were huddled together. The angel Galileo approached them to find out what all the buzz was about. Someone explained: “There’s a family down there for one of us. One of us is going to show up for them as a puppy.” Of course, this meant that whatever angel took on the job would have to leave behind his wings for a while. Galileo thought about it. He took a look at this family of four: he’d have a mom, dad, and two canine brothers. Galileo volunteered. He was so excited, he started flying around in circles over and over again, just as he runs around and around today (always to the right). With great ceremony, Galileo’s angel friends helped him remove his shimmery wings and hang them in the closet, where they wait for him. Then he became a puppy, covered in marshmallow-soft white fur; there’s an iridescence to the fur — in the sunlight, you can see a rainbow of colors — that’s a lot like his glorious wings. Then, to say “farewell for now” and wish Galileo well, all the angels gathered around him and showered him with kisses. And they each left their mark – each of the hundreds of freckles, the kiss of an angel. As we say in our home: another day, another gift. Today — every day — we celebrate Galileo and what a blessing it is to have him as part of our family. Thank you to Tucson’s Foundation for Animals in Risk (FAIR), the foster/adoption organization that brought us together. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * “Fluffer Nutter” Birthday Cupcakes We nicknamed Galileo after the combination of marshmallow and peanut butter. So, today my six year-old nephew Nicky and I made vegan “Fluffer Nutter” cupcakes in honor of our birthday boy: Yellow Cake Mix by Cherrybrook Kitchen (I use Earth Balance vegan sticks instead of butter) Suzanne’s Ricemellow Creme (“fluff” frosting) Earth Balance Peanut Butter Large Baking Cups by If You Care I wanted to use peanut-butter chips to more closely resemble his freckles, but there aren’t any vegan ones available on the market yet. I found a simple recipe that combines peanut butter and vegan white chocolate chips (melt, pour into tray, cool, and cut). Maybe next year I’ll give it a try. As for tonight’s birthday...

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Poco in Bisbee, Arizona
Mar07

Poco in Bisbee, Arizona

After an afternoon in Tombstone, we (husband, parents, nephew, and I) took the short ride to Bisbee before heading back to Tucson. Bisbee has a rich history dating back to the late 1800s as a mining mecca; these days, charming houses line the edges of the Mule Mountains and various shops and galleries are nestled along its narrow and winding streets, creating a unique artistic community that has a bit of European flair. Although we didn’t have much time for shopping, we made a point of stopping in at Bisbee’s vegan Mexican restaurant, Poco. The restaurant  is tucked away in a little alley right off of the town’s Main Street. Brightly colored tables and white lights strewn overhead, the atmosphere is festive but intimate enough to be the setting for a perfect romantic dinner. In our case, it proved to be just as perfect for a little late-day noshing. Although it was a beautiful day for patio dining, we stayed inside (just as colorful and cozy), where we enjoyed chatting with owners Kelly and Emily in between bites. The nachos were sublime: the melted cheese was so creamy — my mom (non-vegan) gave the dish a 10 out of 10. My husband Seth and I also split a burrito. Poco uses Beyond Meat as its chicken substitute, which is beyond amazing, but we opted for something totally new to us — a Brussels Sprouts burrito. The roasted sprouts had a slightly smoky flavor thanks to the chipotle aioli — what a treat! And Kelly and Emily were sweet enough to send us home with a scrumptious organic, vegan chocolate cupcake. Back in the car, my six year-old nephew Nicky looked at the container with the cupcake sitting on my lap: “Aunt Sharon, organic is vegan?” I explained to Nicky in simple terms how organic has more to do with chemicals and pesticides than animal welfare; and that, although on organic farms the animals may fare better than those subjected to factory farming, in the end those animals too will be slaughtered for food. Nicky’s eyes lit up as it came together for him: “Oh! I get it! So… the BEST is when something is organic AND vegan!” So thanks, Poco ladies, for your part in making the cupcake-inspired conversation happen. It’s the most wonderful thing to see just how curious, thoughtful, and compassionate a child can be. The next generation of animal advocates already in bloom. Poco 15 Main St Bisbee, AZ 85603 (520) 432-3733        ...

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Vegan Mac n Cheese at S’MAC
Feb25

Vegan Mac n Cheese at S’MAC

When S’Mac first opened its doors in New York’s East Village, I was among its fans. With a variety of cheeses and “mixins” to choose from, you could have a hand in your own comfort food creation, served up in a personal skillet straight out of the oven. Alas, S’Mac fell off my radar when I went from vegetarian to vegan. Until. A little over a week ago, a Facebook friend of a friend shared a picture from S’Mac. Oh — if only! I thought. So I posted a message to S’Mac’s Facebook page: “I would LOVE it if you would offer a vegan option… pretty please?” How elated was I when I received an almost immediate response with a link to S’Mac’s vegan section of the menu. YES! So here’s the deal: once you choose your skillet size, you’ll decide whether to fill it with traditional elbow macaroni, multi-grain, or gluten-free. Then you’ll select up to three ingredients from S’Mac’s vegetable and herb lists. I went with shitake mushrooms, broccoli, and roasted garlic; my husband Seth added jalapenos to his mix. Maybe your creation will include fresh rosemary or basil, or spinach with garlic. Once you place your order, the S’Mac crew works their magic. The velvety vegan cheese melts to perfection. And a fine layer of bread crumbs tops off all that smooth deliciousness with a delicate crust. Just feast your eyes on my dinner from last night: S’Mac Locations 345 E. 12th St. (between First & Second Ave.) 157 E. 33rd St. (between Lexington and Third Ave.) Kiosk at the corner of First Ave. and...

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