Friday, November 13, 2015

Lots & Lots of New Yummy Vegan Goodies: Product Reviews

From time to time, I get sent special vegan products and goodies that are new to the market, with the idea that I will do a review of them on my blog. Over 50% of the time, I don't really fall in love with the product, and I decide that I probably wouldn't buy it again, and I decide not to do a review. My policy is that if this is a product that I buy again with my own money, then it's worth sharing with my blog readers.

Back when I first started blogging and reading blogs, reading about vegan products was actually one of the most helpful parts of the blogging community for me. There weren't nearly as many choices back then, and often I heard about something for the first time from a fellow blogger. This is still true today, in fact. And I like knowing what's good and what's worth looking for or ordering online, and what isn't. The word of mouth and recommendations from friends mean a lot to me. Especially when specialty vegan products can be pricey or can require an online order + shipping costs. I don't usually do any negative reviews, because it doesn't really seem worth my energy. If I were really strictly a review-oriented blog, I would do that... but as you know, I tend to focus on home cooking.

So, all that is to say that the products below have passed my muster. Some of them I've actually had for quite a while, sitting in my "to be blogged about" file... while I waited to see how I really felt about them, how often I used them, etc.

Yuve asked me about sampling their protein powder and then they sent me this most adorable little package. I have to say, that mid-size shaker cup has become my #1 favorite. Also, I have to say, this Yuve protein powder is absolutely great. I have several different protein powders in my cupboards and I tend to drink them on days when I've had a strong workout or my planned meals are otherwise leaning toward the low-protein side of things. Yuve is packed with lots of good ingredients and has a great nutritional profile:
155 Calories, 16 g protein, 25% calcium, 18% B12, and lots of other good stuff too.
You can see their whole nutrition/ingredients page here

But most of all, this stuff is seriously, legitimately tasty. It has quickly become my favorite tasting of all the protein powders, and my go-to choice when I don't need my protein powder to also be packed with every nutrient ever. Since I received this trial package, I have purchased and consumed two small tubs of Yuve, so I think that is a pretty good endorsement. I really love this stuff. It looks like they even have a deal on their website right now where you can receive a trial packet for free, so you should check it out! They were also voted the favorite protein powder in the VegNews Awards, so clearly I'm not the only one who likes this stuff.

So Delicious:
CocoWhip! and Oregon Mixed Berry Coconut Milk Ice Cream
and Strawberry Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Yum Yum Yum Yum Yum Yum Yum! This was pretty much one of the best packages I have ever received in my whole life. Even with all the new vegan ice creams out there in the world, I am and always have been a So Delicious fan. I usually go for chocolatey flavors, so it was fun to receive these two berry flavors that I wouldn't have necessarily picked, but both of which I really loved. Strawberry ice cream reminds me of my childhood! In this Strawberry ice cream you can definitely taste the coconut base. I don't always like that, but in this case, strawberry and coconut seem to be a nice flavor combo, so it's not a problem at all. That said, this Oregon Mixed Berry ice cream really stole my heart. It's a beautiful purpley-red color, and is laced through with ribbons of berry jam. The berry flavor is so strong that you don't taste the coconut base nearly as much. It's so delicious! My only "complaint" about these ice creams is that they got really hard in my freezer and each time I wanted some, I was forced to wait several minutes before it was scoopable. Several long, emotionally uncomfortable minutes, if you know what I mean. Ha ha. 

warning!! This might happen to you too

Now, let's talk about the So Delicious CocoWhip! This biz is GOOD. I had heard of it, but I didn't realize that it would make my life complete. It's easy to keep because you can keep it in the freezer and then just thaw it in the fridge for at least 4 hours before eating it, and then you can re-freeze it. It comes in regular and lite, but even the regular is only 30 calories for a generous 2 Tbsp dollop. It's super light and fluffy and sweet but not overwhelming. It's so fun to eat. Be warned. I am considering making myself a bonus pumpkin pie just so I can eat it with this stuff. When we were in NYC, our housesitters made some delicious sweet stewed quince halves and left us some in the fridge, each with a scoop of CocoWhip in the center. What a beautiful treat to come home to! This is a product I probably never would have selected because whipped cream / cool whip isn't something I really missed. But now that I've tried it, I am a big fan for sure! 

Coconut Dream Yogurts

I wasn't sure about reviewing these yogurts. I am, in truth, a soy yogurt fan. I make my own unsweetened yogurt, which I am quite stoked about. Usually if I want a fruity yogurt, I just add some jam to my homemade soy yogurt, and am content. But - as you know - soy yogurt is sadly underrepresented in the market today. (*cries real tears for the loss of WholeSoy*) The two main reasons I prefer soy yogurt over other non-dairy yogurts is that 1) they have protein and 2) they seem naturally thick and seem to require fewer gums and thickeners. All that said, I think that if you are fan of coconut yogurts, you will like these new ones from Coconut Dream. I especially liked the Raspberry and Vanilla flavors (but, that's probably in part because I especially like those flavors in general). They don't have protein, and they're definitely on the sweetie side of life, but if you're looking for a sweet yogurt treat that has probiotics and is dairy-free (and soy-free, which might be a preference for some of you), I think you should give these a try. I definitely liked them more than some other coconut yogurts and almond milk yogurts I have tried.

Also, some of those European soy yogurt companies should please bring their bounty to the USA.

I love these little mints! They are sweetened with Xylitol, and are free of aspartame. Aspartame gives Mr. VE&T leg cramps (!), so we learned a while ago not to buy chewing gum or other things sweetened with it. Xylitol has a pretty good flavor in applications like this, I think - but it is also poisonous to dogs, so keep your mints away from your pups!

this is me, poppin' the pur mints on my way to class

I love the variety of flavors these mints come in: Polar Mint, Spearmint, Peppermint, Mojito Lime Mint (yum!) and Tangerine Tango. I like to have mints in my purse, because sometimes when I am on my way to teach yoga class, I get worried that I may have eaten too much garlic or drank too much coffee at lunch time. Ha ha. Having mints on hand is a good thing! I really like the flavor of these, and I also like the texture and feel. They're not tiny, so one is enough, and they have a pleasing oval shape that's fun to have in your mouth. Plus, they're smooth and not grainy. I have a couple packs left still, but this is definitely a product I'd buy again to keep on hand for my pre-teaching moments! I see that Pur brand also makes vegan chewing gum - so I'll look for that too.

If you're interested, they gave me code to share with my readers for $10 off an order: VEATST10  give 'em a try! They make gum too!

Have you had these? First of all, I love that name. And also, I love their packaging. It's covered in awesome cartoons of badass vegans being badasses while eating power cookies. YES. Badass cookies come out of their silvery package looking like swampy-green hockey pucks, but actually, they are really yummy! They're a moist (a little too crumbly perhaps), dense oatmeal-raisin cookie full of oatmeal flakes and raisins. I don't know what spirulina tastes like on its own - but I didn't find a distracting taste of it here. I took one of these on a big hike and had it with my sandwich for lunch, and I was super stoked at how filling and yummy and satisfying it was. These babies are not particularly low-cal, but they aren't small either. I broke my other one into two-pieces, and still felt like I got two good snacks out of it.
Here are the stats per cookie:
360 calories, 13 g sugar, 10 gr protein, 15% Iron

just saying the word "badass" kinda makes you feel like a badass

I received this quite a while ago, but am only now finally writing about them. Sorry, Marukan friends! First of all, just a nod out to them for some exemplary packaging. As someone who took Japanese art history in college and fell in love with Edo period prints, this box totally made me happy. It took me an irrationally long time to finally recycle it.

As for the products, well, they are really good! I already had purchased Marukan Rice Vinegar many times, but I hadn't ever tried Seasoned Rice Vinegar or Ponzu Sauce. The seasoned vinegar has added sugar and salt and is used in making sushi rice and in many other recipes for just a little extra kick. I've especially fallen in love with that Sudachi Ponzu though. It's a slightly sweeter and citrusy soy sauce that adds an extra touch of je n'sais quois to your cooking. I love it! I see on their website that they also have a Yuzu Ponzu (Sudachi and Yuzu are two Japanese citrus varietals), so when I run out of this bottle maybe I'll try the Yuzu one next. It's fun to have special ingredients like these in your pantry to spice up your regular culinary efforts!

I think "Ponzu" would be a good name for a dog.

Upton's Naturals Jackfruit: Bar-B-Que and Chili Lime Carnitas

YUM! Last, but definitely not least, in this line-up of vegan products are the new Jackfruit offerings from Upton's Naturals. Have you had a chance to try them yet? I first tried these at the VidaVeganConIII down in Austin TX, where Dan & Nicole from Uptons had samples at the Vegan Fair, and then were also selling tacos and sandwiches at one of the evening events. They use young jackfruits, which they have very carefully and conscientiously and ethically sourced from Thailand. The young jackfruits haven't yet developed a fruity flavor, but they do have an excellent chewy and "meaty" texture. Like tofu, they are happy to impart whatever flavors you bless them with - and these two mixes from Uptons are both really great: super high flavor, ready to heat-and-eat, great taste and great texture. You can pretty much open the package, heat it up, and eat it. 

I used my Chili-Lime Carnitas for some homemade tacos with a pickled carrot-jalepeno-cabbage slaw, and an avocado-lime-cilantro sauce. SUCH a great combo. And dinner was ready in minutes! I used my BBQ jackfruit to make simple and delicious little sandwiches (I accidentally deleted my photo) - with some sauteed red cabbage on fresh bread. I really love these and will definitely have them on hand. They have a nice long shelf life and don't need to be refrigerated either, which is nice. Just a note, as far as "meat substitutes" go - these have great taste and great texture, but pretty much no protein, so you'll need to meet your daily protein needs in other ways. However, they're also super low-cal (180 calories in a whole box), so they make for a nice light dinner component. They're also soy-free, oil-free, and gluten-free... but deffers not flavor-free! So, you can enjoy these with pretty much all your various dietary-needs friends and family. 

The Upton's Guy and Me... groovin' on each other.
I wonder what he sees in me??

p.s.! We have a winner!
Congratulations to Dana
Dana, you've won a copy of DIY Vegan
Thanks for reading my blog!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Eating the Ethiopian Eats from "Teff Love"

Have you heard the exciting news about my friend Kittee's book Teff Love? It was chosen by VegNews as the cookbook of the year! I am so happy for her! 

My favorite picture of Kittee ever

I first met Kittee online when we started reading each other's blogs. That was so many years ago. Like maybe 9 years ago? Then, in 2009 I went to New Orleans to take a 10-day course on the Yoga Sutra. I didn't know anyone else in the program, and I was staying at a little inn by myself. But, I did know Kittee, who was still living in NOLA at the time. So, we arranged to meet up, and within seconds, we were friends for life. We baked king cakes, I met her mom, we went on dog walks with Vee, we drew faces on beans, and we did a lot of fun things. Kittee is A+ tops. She has a heart of gold, a true sweetness, she's a creative genius, she's a culinary wizard, and she is who she is with honesty: the good the bad and the ugly -- which is something I really admire. 

VeeSeven and Me
Vee is Kittee's dog, in case you didn't know. He's kinda famous.

Kittee and I were very naughty. Apparently we didn't take a single picture of the two of us together on that trip! 
So I drew a doodle of us from back then. Kittee had bangs and I had a pony tail. It was winter, so we were all bundled up. 

I bought Teff Love because I needed to support my awesome friend, but the truth is, I didn't think I liked Ethiopian food. I've only had it in restaurants a couple of times, and both times the injera bread gave me an upset stomach. That's kind of a bummer. I guess it's kinda like what I said about sushi and seaweed a few posts back... I want to like it, but I can't make it happen. So, I never made anything from Teff Love, I just admired it. 

But then, I had a realization. I could just skip the injera! haha. DUH. I'm not sure why it took me so long to have this extremely obvious realization. I late-night messaged my pal Cadry, who I know is a certified Teff Love Enthusiast and asked her what would be some good recipes to try that didn't require the injera, and she gave me so many great suggestions. Thanks Cadry! 

So, I busted open my Teff Love and Got To Work. 

Some basics for getting started.
as an ode to Kittee, I put pretty little words on my picture

First I had to make some basics so I could take it from them. I started with Berbere Paste, Awaze Sauce, Ye'qimen Zeyet (seasoned oil), and some Chickpea Tofu. These were all fun and easy to prepare, and for the Berbere paste I finally got to put some of my vast spice collection to use! You can't find store-bought Berbere powder anywhere in Santa Cruz, so I was grateful to have a recipe for making it from scratch. I loved seeing all the different spices and seasonings that went into these, and tasting the complex and wonderful results. The chickpea "tofu" uses chickpea flour and comes together really quickly. It takes a little while to set up, but that's not active time in the kitchen. On it's own, it's a quiet, plain flavor - but as you'll see below, it was soon transformed into something crazy good.

Awaze Tofu, Stewed Collards, and Garlic Jojos (served with extra Awaze Sauce)

Look at this amazing dinner! It was so good and we both loved it! We are both big fans of collards, and I know Kittee is a true collards fan as well - and these Ethiopian collards (prepared with the spiced oil) were really easy and delicious. The Garlic Jojos were oven-baked potato fries coated with spices and seasoning. In other words they were just about the yummiest thing ever. At Cadry's suggestion, I also made the baked version of the Awaze Tofu and it was great. I had some left over after dinner and had it for breakfast the next day. I have a soft spot in my heart for cold baked tofu for breakfast. I am a vegan.

Chickpea Tofu Dumplings 

Next up, following another of Cadry's suggestions, I made the Ye'shimbra duket kwas, aka Chickpea tofu dumplings. I guess I made mine smaller than Kittee makes hers, because I ended up with lots and lots of these little guys! I always make my cookies small, and I guess i like small dumplings too. These little cuties are made with the chickpea tofu I mentioned before, as well as with a bunch of veggies and some extra seasoning... then baked in the oven.

Ye'tofu Kwas Be'siquar Denich Alicha 
aka Savory Tofu Dumplings with Sweet Potatoes in a Mild Sauce

In either language, this dish has a long name. I made this for dinner and we ate the whole thing. So, we just call it "No Leftovers." Then I used the other half of my little dumplings and went out and bought another sweet potato and made it again for lunch the next day. Even if there weren't going to be any leftovers, I was determined to have it again for lunch. DAMN this dish is SO GOOD. We are in love.

Ye'misser Wot Be'ingudai (Red Lentils with Mushrooms in a Spicy Sauce)
Ye'atakilt Wot (Potatoes, Carrots, and Cauliflower in a Spicy Sauce)
Ye'bedergan Wot (Buttery-Soft Roasted Eggplant in a Spicy Sauce)

Next up, I spent a fun afternoon in the kitchen and made three different spicy dishes, which fed us for dinner two days in a row (plus some bonus lunches). These are spicy, in the sense of being full of spices, but I didn't find them to be overwhelming spicy-hot at all. That's easy to enhance if that's your thing, but don't let the name scare you if you're averse to spicy hot. As you can see, I avoided the danger of an upset tummy by making rice instead of injera. These were all great dishes, but I especially loved the spicy eggplant and the veggies mix.

I'm getting tough on old ideas about what I will or won't eat!
blam! pow! 

I tend to go on little jags, where I pick one book and cook from it for a week or two, and then a different book... like that. It was really fun to have a week of meals from Teff Love, and I'm excited to cook from it a lot more. Do you have any favorites from this book to recommend?

-- I'll pick a winner on Friday!

Friday, November 06, 2015

DIY Vegan ~ Book Review, Recipe, and Giveaway!

Way back at the first VidaVeganCon, in 2011, I met so many wonderful people who are still friends of mine today. Two of the great people I met were Lisa Pitman and Nicole Axworthy. They're both bright-eyed, thoughtful, and present people. They've collaborated on many projects together over the years, and now they have a beautiful new cookbook called "DIY Vegan." I was delighted when they asked me to be a part of their book's blog tour. 

Full disclosure, these gals are my friends, and their publisher sent me a copy of the book for review. That said, wouldn't it be awkward if I didn't like the recipes? Ha ha. Happily, I was not concerned, and it hasn't happened! As you'll see below, I've made a number of things so far, and really enjoyed them all! 

But first... a few things about this book. The subtitle is "More than 100 Easy Recipes to Create an Awesome Plant-Based Pantry." In the last year, I've reviewed two other books that are similar - Miyoko's "Vegan Homemade Pantry," and Celine and Joni's "Complete Guide to Even More Vegan Food Substitutions." Each of the three books has something different to provide, and I think they're all great books. I'd say that "DIY Vegan"'s niche is really in very wholesome and appealing recipes, with uncomplicated ingredients, natural and healthy recipes, no refined sugar (they use natural sweeteners instead), and lots of gluten-free options...  You won't need a dehydrator or a stand mixer or anything like that. I found the recipes to be very appetizing without becoming so complicated or decadent that I'd only consider making them once or twice a year. There are very few specialty ingredients called for, but even with straightforward ingredients, the dishes I made were compelling and delicious.

DIY Vegan focuses on recipes for pantry basics, and then in many cases also includes recipes for how to use the mix or sauce or seasoning you've created (for example: along with a recipe for pancake mix, there is also a recipe for the pancakes). 

The recipes in DIY Vegan cover a really broad range! 
Some of the recipes I still have bookmarked to try include: 

Cream Cheese ~ Easy Cheese ~ Buffalo Mozzarella ~ Date & Fig Cashew Cheese 
Pecan & Raisin Rice Crackers ~ Coconut Bacon Chips ~ Chia Cereal
Thai Peanut Sauce ~ LP's Worcestershire Sauce ~ Maple Masala Mustard
French Onion Dip Mix ~ Sour Cream and Onion Popcorn Shaker
Peppermint Patty Hot Chocolate Pucks ~ Lemon Curd ~ Caramelized Chai Popcorn

So, you see - that's a wide range! From sauces and staples, to breakfasts and dinners. 
From cereals and snacks, to drinks and desserts. 

Salsa Verde

The first thing I made was Salsa Verde. The whole thing took about 10 minutes and was so delicious! All summer I've been eyeing the tomatillos at the farmers market, but I hadn't bought any yet this year. I thought I had missed my chance, and was feeling a little blue about it. Then I spied some at the market and knew what to do! This recipe was super easy, and super flavorful, which is a pretty great situation. In this case, DIY Vegan doesn't tell you what to do with your salsa, but you didn't really need them to, did you? Here's what I did:

Top: Tacos from "Vegan Tacos" with grilled seitan and eggplant
Bottom: Simple corn tortilla + Chao cheese Quesadilla with my bright green salsa*
*I have been eating a lot of these.

Nacho Cheese Sauce

Mmmmmm! Doesn't that biz look tasty? Well, guess what? It is tasty! I'm pretty much always game for trying a new nacho cheese sauce recipe, and I've tried and enjoyed many. This one might be my new favorite! It's super thick and creamy, made with white beans and steamed sweet potatoes (good nutritional value!), perfectly seasoned, and generally fun to eat. Veggies with queso is one of my favorite healthy lunches, and so I enjoyed my nacho sauce with steamed romano beans and a big batch of roasted cauliflower. This good stuff is all gone, but I am planning to buy more sweet potatoes tomorrow so that I can make more. I love this recipe. 

White Chocolate Chips

Long time readers will know that I am a big fan of white chocolate, and I saw this recipe and got super excited. At first, I made a mistake and measured my cocoa butter after melting it rather than before melting it (oops.) So then, I basically just doubled the other ingredients and ended up with a big batch of white chocolate. This won't be a problem, but it was kinda funny, since my original vision was to use the white chocolate to decorate some black cat chocolate truffles for Halloween. I just needed some little kitty eyes and noses! Now I have a bunch of white chocolate in the fridge, awaiting further culinary inspiration. The flavor and texture are really good - rich and creamy and vanilla-y. In the end I didn't get these done in time for Halloween, so I made them for one of my yoga classes instead, and they were happy! 


Cookie Dough (made into cookies)

These cookies were quick and easy to make and came out really tasty. They're gluten-free (oats + almonds are ground to make the flour), oil-free (but full of almond butter!), and call for un-refined sugar. My almond butter was oddly liquidy, so I doubled the oats, and that was a good idea. I also brought these to my yoga students and they were a big hit! No left overs! I like having sweeties around, and sometimes I like to go all out on big decadent full-throttle treats. But most of time when I want a sweetie, I just want a little taste and I'm happy if it's also not a super rich or huge thing. These cookies are perfect for that! They're a cute little size, yummy, and one or two will happily do the trick. 

this is me, showing up to teach class, with my mat, my binder, my purse, and TWO different treats! 
The week of Halloween I usually bring my class treats, but this year I just didn't think of it until after class... at which point everyone confessed that they had all most certainly noticed! ha ha. So I promised them treats the following week - and I kept my word! 

Savory Egg Mix

I was intrigued by this recipe! The mixture is a dry mix of seasonings and starches and a few other goodies... all whisked together. Then, you can use the mixture to enhance your tofu scrambles or for french toast. It makes a lot, and I was running low on nutritional yeast (vegan failing!)... so I only made a half batch, which was still plenty. I put some to use in a tofu scramble, following the suggested recipe in the cookbook. I really liked it! It gave my scramble a great texture and flavor and was also great as leftovers. Even with a half batch, I still have plenty left over for future scrambles! 

Sweet Ginger Stir-Fry Sauce

Ha ha, what a silly picture. I was trying to make it look special. Because actually, it is special! This sauce took all of 10 minutes to throw together... and then I had dinner pretty much ready to go:

The Stir-Fry

Once you've made the sauce, DIY Vegan suggests cooking up your favorite "VIPs" (Very Important Plants) hee hee. They gave some suggestions, and I loved the idea of including bok choy and mung bean sprouts, two foods I don't buy often. I also used a red bell pepper, a block of black soybean tofu, and two summer squash. I dry-fried the tofus first, set them aside, then sauteed all the veggies. Heat up the sauce, add it in with the sprouts and viola! dinner is ready. The sauce makes 1.5 cups, which is enough for 3 moderate stir fries or two big ones. This dinner was so delicious and healthy and satisfying and quick. We both really loved it.

I was really excited to make this again the next day. Tragically, my little jar of sauce tipped over in the fridge and spilled everywhere. I was sad about the mess, but even more sad that I had lost some of my precious elixir. I plan to make this again pronto and have it on hand. It was so easy to prepare that I think this would be something I could even cook up for a really healthy and satisfying lunch.

Here's the recipe for you, so you can try it and have an excellent dinner ready in a matter of minutes:

Sweet Ginger Stir-Fry Sauce
Makes 1½ cups (enough for 3 stir-frys)
One of the easiest ways to increase your vegetable consumption is to add a stir-fry to your weekly meal plan. But pass up the shelf-stable bottles with the ingredient lists you’d rather ignore, and create your own ready-to-go, saucy-sweet ginger goodness. This recipe makes enough sauce for three batches of stir-fry.

1/3 cup Bragg Liquid Aminos or tamari
¼ cup pure maple syrup
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons blackstrap molasses
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1½ tablespoons arrowroot powder

1. Combine all the ingredients, except for the arrowroot powder, with 1/2 cup water in a small airtight container. Shake it to mix well. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

2. When you’re ready to make a stir-fry, in a small saucepan, just before you turn on the heat, mix sauce and arrowroot, using 1/2 tablespoon of arrowroot powder for each 1/2 cup of sauce. Stir until all the lumps are dissolved. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium heat and cook until it

3. Sauté your favorite VIPs—very important plants (e.g., mushrooms, bell peppers, broccoli, bok choy, watercress, cashews, mung bean sprouts). Once everything is heated through, pour the sauce over your veggies and stir until everything is coated and glistening in all that goodness. Serve warm.

* recipe shared with permission, copyright Nicole Axworthy & Lisa Pitman, St. Martin's Griffin publisher 2015

Hoorah! The publishers have graciously allowed me to offer a copy of DIY Vegan to one lucky winner! This contest is open to anyone in the USA or Canada. To enter, please just leave a comment here and tell me about a pantry staple that you enjoy making from scratch, or that you would like to learn how to make. I'll pick a winner in one week, on Friday the 13th (spooky!)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Lots of Good Stuff I Have Been Eating

the joys of piles of cookbooks, snuggly pets, and open-ended menu planning.

Between doing lots of fun book review posts and a whole month of MoFo, it seems like it's been a really long time since I could just site back and make whatever the heck I wanted to make for dinner. And I do actually have another fun book review coming soon, but for the last couple of weeks, I've had the joy and luxury of just cooking whatever I'm in the mood for. It's so fun! 

Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Lasagna from The Abundance Diet

This lasagna recipe from The Abundance Diet is pretty much one of our favorite foods ever and sometimes we discuss the possibility of only ever eating this from here on out. So, as soon as I sensed an opening in my culinary schedule, I knew what to do. Plus, as you shall soon see, I am currently engaged in a manic effort to eat as much eggplant as possible before the season is over. Somewhat by surprise, I am quite into eggplant this year. We got a good solid 8 servings out of this lasagna, and it makes great leftovers and we love it. I already bought more eggplants so I can make it again next week.

imaginary Eggplant PJs
plus Yummers snuggles

Farmers Market Panini from Chef Chloe

When we were in NYC, we ate at Chef Chloe's new restaurant "By Chloe," and we were really impressed. The food there was fantastic! So, inspired by that happy experience, I decided to see what sort of eggplant recipes she might have on her blog... and came upon these panini. The finished sandwiches were super tasty - grilled eggplant, a garlicky white bean spread, fresh avocado and tomatoes... all on a fresh bun. I made Mr VE&T a big sandwich, and a mini for me (plus a bunless all-eggplant version for myself: it was really good!). The recipe as written calls for 1/2 cup oil, but I just lightly sprayed the eggplants, and then reduce the oil in the white bean spread to 1 tbsp and it was great. No problemo. The white bean spread was very good and I used the leftovers as salad dressing, which was really great!

3 Dishes from Vegan Richa's Kitchen:
Eggplant with Cumin & Nigella, Gobi Mutter Masala, Spinach & Black Eyed Peas

I finally got to bust open my copy of Vegan Richa's Kitchen and made a bunch of Indian food. I made 3 dishes and then we had it for dinner for two nights in a row, plus a few lunches for me. (Mr. VE&T likes to go out for lunch). I think our favorite was the Gobi Mutter Masala - a lightly creamy concoction with cauliflower and peas and a deliciously spiced sauce. So good! I jacked up my Spinach and Black Eyed Peas with some hot sauce and loved it that way! So many more promising recipes in this book to explore. Do you have any favorites to recommend?

Quick & Easy: Gardein Fishless Fillets, Frozen peas, Homemade Tartar Sauce

Ha ha, this isn't a dinner you see often on my blog, is it? Well, I've heard so many good things about Gardein products, but I still hadn't tried them -- until I found them on sale at Grocery Outlet. I got the nuggets, the mandarin orange nuggets and the fishless fillets (pictured here). I actually really liked the nuggets a lot, and was excited and curious to try the fishless fillets -- especially since I've heard so many rave reviews about them. Well, I really didn't like them.

Ever since I can remember, I have never liked fishy things. As a kid, I always hated fish. Even now, I have an unfortunate aversion to seaweed that makes it impossible for me to enjoy sushi*. I don't want it to be this way, but it is this way. So, I thought I'd try these fishless fillets and see what i thought... maybe my tastes have evolved? Nope. Mr VE&T was totally impressed with them ("they taste like fish!" "I can't believe this is vegan!") - but then, he likes fish. I ate one, and just could not bring myself to eat another. Alas, Mr. VE&T ate it happily... and I returned to the kitchen and cooked up some of the regular nuggets and enjoyed those just fine. 

*Recently I spent a day in San Francisco with some pals and we had a really great dinner at an all-vegan Japanese place called Shizen. I was excited to try the sushi and see how it went... but I also played it safe and ordered some (delicious!!) non-sushi items as well. The sushi came, and I tried it... and I just wasn't able to enjoy it because of that darned seaweed in there. It ruins everything for me. I am a little sad about this, but also kind of amazed. Isn't it interesting that we don't really get to decide what we like and don't like? 

Tofu Omelettes (from Vegan Brunch) with Cherry Tomato Filling (from Fresh Food Fast)

In addition to copious amounts of eggplant consumption, we have also been diligently eating our tomatoes. This is one of my favorite combos, and I've made it several times before. Everything comes together very quickly, it's fresh and filling and healthy, and fun to eat. A perfect early fall dinner.

Our tomato plants have been working hard and producing so many tomatoes -- especially cherry tomatoes. My frugal nature dictates that nothing must go to waste, so I am always on the lookout for recipes wherein I can include loads of homegrown tomatoes. Happily, just last week, I bought tomatoes at the farmers market for the first time all summer, because our plants are finally getting used up. Phew.

Now, the apple tree is just coming on, so next I will be eating my body weight in apples. If it's not one crop, it's another. :)