Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Jambu Wingate Vegan Boot: Product Review

For most of my life, I was a devoted fan of Summer and only Summer. I pretty much had no appetite for any of those other rotten seasons. Gradually, I made my peace with Spring, because (obviously) Springtime is beautiful and full of life and magic. But it took a lot longer for me to come around to Autumn and Winter... As you may know, we had a long intense drought that went on for about 5 years here in California. During that time, I bought a business, my dad had some major health problems, and the whole thing got to be pretty exhausting. I kept thinking "I just really want a cold and rainy day to bundle up and feel cozy and sit around the house and rest." And it never came! (well, eventually it did, but it took 5 years!). 

That whole experience really changed something in me. Now I look forward to Autumn: shorter days and longer nights, scarves and warm caps, cozy afternoons, and socks and cozy shoes! 
Cozy Cozy Cozy!!

JSport Wingate Boot

Speaking of coziness!!! I received these boots from Jambu to review -- these are the Wingate Boots, by Jambu's sister brand JSport. They are super-cute, super-comfy, AND super-cozy! Currently, my only problem is that it's not cooling off here at all and I am impatient to wear these boots every day. In honor of taking pictures for this blog post, I got all bundled up and pretended it was cold out, but actually it was about 80 F. ha ha ha! Fake news! 

I'm ready to get cozy!

cute boots and cute Stevie Wonder

I really love these boots! First of all, they are very comfortable to wear: they basically feel like sneakers once they're on your feet. They're flexible on your feet, and they also have a very smooshy memory foam insole, which feels lovely. The soles have good traction and grip. The shoes come on and off with a really easy zipper on the inside of ankle, but the laces are also functional, so you can make the shoes as snug as you want. You can also adjust the tightness of the buckle around the faux fur on the top of the boot. (see the detail picture below)

I have pretty big calves and haven't really ever found a calf boot that works for me. These are great because they just come up to the mid-calf and don't get in the way of my "fancy" calves (ha ha).

  a few detail shots from the Wingate Boots

1. The top of the boot is lined with a super fuzzy faux fur, but the rest of the boot is lined with an equally-compelling, but more low-profile faux fur. I love the little tag that proudly proclaims "FAUX FUR."

2. The strap that goes around the top of the boot is adjustable if you want to make them more or less snug. As are the laces. In the boot in the back, you can see the zipper that allows the boots to come one and off easily.

3. Just to see some of the materials involved: quilted exterior fabric, rubberized around the bottom of the shoe and especially at the toe area.

4. Good rubberized soles. Not super deep tread on these, but it feels like a good grip.

the doggies love doing high-fives!

As you can see, these boots are comfy for leaning over, squatting and goofing around with my dogs. They aren't stiff and they don't limit my range of motion

Sizing: I usually wear a size 9, but always trending up to a 9.5. As you see above, these boots are lined with cozy faux fur, and I knew I'd want to wear them with socks, so I ordered mine in 9.5. This was definitely the right choice for me. Jambu calls them "weather-ready," which means they are designed for wear in wintry conditions like rain, sleet & snow. If these Wingate Boots aren't quite your jam, Jambu has several super cute vegan shoes for women, including quite a few other good Autumn - Winter shoes and boots. 

After all this talk about coziness, I must confess that I live in California... so my idea of "autumn" and "winter" is certainly different than it is for my friends in New York or Estonia! I'm not sure I'd be so enthusiastic about that! Even though it's still tomatoes and sunshine around here, I have a trip to New York City coming up next month - to visit one of my favorite besties who recently moved there. It had better be autumny for that trip, because then I can wear these super cozies the whole time! Fingers crossed! And for now, I'll carry on enjoying our balmy autumn... I'm sure rain and darkness will be here soon enough.

Coupon Code for You! 
As you know, I recently became a brand ambassador for Jambu, and as such, I received these boots for free to review. I'll have one more style to review in a few more weeks. 

You can use the coupon code VEGAN17 for 20% off 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking // Cookbook Review & Giveaway

Spoiler alert: this is a glowing review! 

When I first went vegan, there weren't very many vegan cookbooks. I only had one, and it was kinda funky. Instead, I used vegetarian cookbooks and just left out the cheese, or tried to convert the recipes myself... with very mixed results. So I still get a little thrill every time a new vegan cookbook is published. I just kinda can't believe it! 

Now that I've been doing this vegan thing for 17+ years, though, I'm also pretty experienced in the kitchen. I often meet people who are interested in becoming vegan, or who've only just started eating vegan, and now there are so many great cookbooks for people like that -- which is so wonderful. But, as for me, I love when a vegan cookbook isn't afraid to cater to experienced home cooks... and if you're in the same boat, I think you will love this new cookbook: Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking, by Celine Steen of the beautiful blog Have Cake Will Travel. 

I've already made 7 things from this book, and we loved all of them. The recipes truly live up to the title - strong, impressive and memorable flavors. Nothing meek or forgettable here! The recipes also don't shy away from specialty ingredients (harissa, gochujang, dried shiitake powder, various special spices)-- but the book also offers recipes for many of them, in case you don't have access at your local market. Personally, I find this all very exciting! Veganism is already a bit of a limitation, and it's such a thrill to explore new flavors and cuisines and feel my vegan horizons expanding.

Not a book for people who are scared of specialty ingredients. 
Definitely a book for people who don't need another recipe for oatmeal or avocado toast!

Teriyaki Tempeh Tacos

The first recipe I made was these delicious Teriyaki Tempeh Tacos. My homemade tortillas were a bit funky and rustic, but make no mistake -- these tacos were just wonderful! Even though there were several components, they came together pretty quickly. First is a gently seasoned batch of rice. Next up is a batch of tempeh, sauteed with homemade Teriyaki Sauce. And then lots of veggies cooked lightly, but still crispy -- including highly desirable water chestnuts and snow peas. Ha ha. Mr. VE&T *loves* water chestnuts and snow peas, neither of which I cook with all that often. So he was very happy! Then the tacos were garnished with Kimchi, sriracha sauce, and a few other goodies. So many flavors! 

Smoky Kale and Chickpeas with Miso Peanut Drizzle

Hello, Miso Peanut Drizzle, nice to meet you!! This Smoky Kale and Chickpeas with Miso Peanut Drizzle is a super quick and nutritious meal to put together, with very satisfying flavors and textures -- so much more than you would expect from something so easy to prepare. Instead of the roasted sweet potato suggested by the recipe, I used my final butternut squash from last winter's garden! The Miso Peanut Sauce really is special, and calls for red miso, for extra umami oomph!

umami oomph!!!

Gochujang Kimchi Sausages

I love homemade seitan, but I guess I am kinda lazy, because I really don't make it very often. And yet, when I saw a recipe for Gochujang Kimchi Sausages -- seitan sausages with pureed kimchi in the batter?! Yes, please. These are spicy little sneakers, but not it's too much. They're just bursting with flavor - the ingredients list reads like a Who's Who of umami highrollers. So much great stuff packed in!

Gochujang Kimchi Bowl

I used some of my magical seitan sausages in this lovely Gochujang Kimchi Bowl. Once you've made the sausages, this is a super speedy recipe -- veggies, a hearty dose of kimchi, and some flavor-punch garnishes. I made a big batch and had it for lunches for several days. Just looking at it is making me want to eat it all over again!!

Soy Pomegranate- Glazed Baby Eggplants with Dukkah

Mr. VE&T is a card-carrying member of the eggplant fan club... so I am always looking for tasty eggplant recipes to make for him. This recipe for Soy Pomegranate- Glazed Baby Eggplants with Dukkah is a bit more like an appetizer... so I made a size of tofu cubes to go with it. Because we are two people who love to eat, I bought several extra mini-eggplants. Even if you just make a regular batch, I recommend making a bit extra of the marinade. It's really tasty and it adds all the flavor to the dish. What a great dinner. 

I also really liked this dukkah mix. Dukkah is just so good and so easy. Why isn't it more of a household ingredient? Why did it take me so long to know about dukkah? Who was keeping the precious secret from the world? I used the leftover mix on my morning avocado toast and sprinkled on hummus for lunch.

Fresh Corn Tacos with Salsita Verde

Alas, as I am writing this post, it's just after midnight... and is officially the first day of autumn. I actually really love Autumn, but looking at this picture is making me wish I could just have a little more time with summer. These Fresh Corn Tacos with Salsita Verde were absolutely amazing. Pretty much brought down the house. The corn, onion, and bell pepper are perfectly seasoned - spunky but not overpowering. And the fresh tomatillo salsa takes seconds to prepare and is totally dynamite! They're served with slices of avocado, roasted pepitas, and cilantro... SO PERFECT. I have some corn that I froze in the peak of corn season, so I think I will have to make these again pronto.

fiesty flavors!

Miso Sweet Cookies

Last, but not least, the desserts chapter in this book deserves special mention. SO many enticing recipes to explore! Of course, I am a cookie monster, and when I saw a recipe for Miso Sweet Cookies (cookies with miso!?), I got straight to work. I actually made a double batch - I gave half to a special friend of mine who had a long flight ahead of her, and I brought the rest to class for my yoga students. I like to bake them treats from time to time.

These cookies are so special and unique. The recipe calls for a whole 1/4 cup miso - but the saltiness isn't overwhelming at all -- just fantastic. In addition to the miso, the cookies have oats, dark sugars (Sucanat and Turbinado), nuts of choice (I used sliced almonds)... and the super magic ingredients: fresh orange juice and orange zest. What a combo!!

flavors that pack a punch!!
*this doodle was Mr. VE&T's idea!*

Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking also has an amazing and inspiring "Staples" chapter -- full of exciting spice mixes, toppings, sauces, pickles, and condiments that you can make yourself and open up a whole new world of flavors in your home cooking!!

The cookbook is very beautiful, with gorgeous color pictures, and a layout that is very enticing and easy to read. The recipes are labeled "gluten-free" "in a hurry" "soy-free", and so on... so you can get a sense of which recipes suit your needs for any particular meal.

Here are just a few of the many recipes I'd still like to make, just to give you a sense of some of the great range of flavors and ideas in this innovative book! 

Red Curry vegetables
Harissa Sprouts and Chickpeas
Indonesian Inspired Rice Pancakes
Summer Plate with Pickled Pepper Cream
Grilled Pineapple with Tahini Lime Nuts
Orange Creamsicle Tartlets with Ginger Pears

*** GIVEAWAY! ***

If you are a fan of flavor, I've got great news! The publishers of this fine book, Page Street Publishing, are allowing me to offer a giveaway! To enter, please leave a comment on this post and tell me about one of your favorite big flavors, or secret power ingredients, or really, just say anything. And be sure to leave your email address or another way to contact you, or I will select a different winner! 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Jambu Jackie Vegan Shoes for Women

It's time for another Jambu footwear review! I've recently signed on as a Jambu brand ambassador - because I am such a fan of their sporty, comfortable, stylish vegan shoes for women.

 like a stylish stretchy super sock hugging your foot!

These are my new Jackie shoes... and I LOVE THEM. I swear, I can't stop wearing them... they have replaced my beloved flip flops! They're effortless to slip in and out of, but once they're on, they have a comfortably snug / secure fit. Can you see how cool they are? They feel like a super neat stretchy knit sock with a tennis shoe structure around it. So comfy and unique!

dusty, sweaty legs in the hot sun and feet in super comfy shoes! 

Aesthetically, I really like the pretty pattern on the knot part of the Jackie shoe and the overall look of the shoe - sporty but not garish. Functionally, I like that there is a drawstring and I can make them feel a bit more snug and secure. I also like that they are quite breathable, and are comfortably worn with socks or without socks. Even on a warm day, they don't feel stuffy and my feet don't feel overheated.

this is actually how I took these pictures,
standing on a little stone wall on the edge of a cliff! 
all that yoga's gotta be good for something! ha ha

In fact, I wore these shoes for our special anniversary outing recently! It was our five year anniversary and so we decided to do something special - we rented electric bikes to ride along the coast of Big Sur. This is such a stunning area, and the road is usually a bustling highway. However, the heavy rains last winter caused a huge landslide to the South and destroyed a major bridge to the north -- leaving a very serene stretch of road which in between. The hills are big and the landscape is rugged, so electric bikes were awesome!

in love with my new shoe buddies

The only downside - our anniversary turned out to be the hottest day over the year. It was 107 F!! Perfect for a totally-exposed bike ride in the middle of the day! My poor Mr. VE&T actually got heatstroke!  What an adventure. Nonetheless we had a totally great time, because it was just so special to see that wonderful place in a new way. And my shoes were perfect for a casually active day - a little hiking, biking, then poking around on our way back home. As you can see, I took lots of pictures of my new shoes with all the beauty of Big Sur in the background!

off to teach the yogaz!!

I also really like that these shoes look cute with pants, shorts, or yoga tights... makes them so versatile! I think these shoes are great for everyday activity, walking around, feeling snazzy and sporty, fun bike rides, and casual wear. They've become my new favorite for slipping on and dashing out the door to go teach or get to the farmers market.

my new shoes make me feel super sporty and festive! 

I selected steel gray, but Jackie shoes also come in navy and in black. I find these shoes to be perfectly true to size and comfortable for my somewhat wide feet. The stretchy knit means they have quite bit of leeway for narrow or wider feet.

If you'd like to get some Jackie shoes with me, or try any of Jambu's other vegan shoes for women, use the coupon code VEGAN17 for a 20% discount! Woot!

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Cooking for People I Love

One of my favorite things to do is cook food for people I care about. It's such a good feeling to spend that time in the kitchen thinking about the person and putting all that love into the food... and thinking of them enjoying their food and being nourished by it.

delicious cake for a special friend.

Last week, one of my very best besties moved all the way across the country to New York City. The good news is that now I'll have a good reason to go to NYC more often, but the bad news is that I already miss her so much. You should have seen us saying goodbye at the farmers market, standing among the fruits and veggies sobbing and hugging each other forever. You may not know her by name, but her culinary creations and collaborations have been featured on my blog countless times.

*** a super special friend ***

She and her partner had a really lovely goodbye party at their house - where friends could just drop by all afternoon and evening... So, I knew that it was friendly duty to make them a super special Goodbye Cake. After much deliberation, I decided to make a Neopolitan Cake! I made 3 layers: chocolate, vanilla, & strawberry. For the cakes, I used the recipes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. I made 1 1/2 batches for shallow layers in my 9x13 pan, which worked perfectly.

For the vanilla layer, I added the scrapings of a vanilla bean -- for extra vanilla power! For the chocolate cake, I used extra cocoa powder and chocolate extract. The strawberry cake took a little more creativity. I used the vanilla cake recipe as the base but instead of using non-dairy milk for the liquid in the batter, I pureed a bowl of fresh strawberries and used that instead. I also bought a bag of freeze-dried strawberries and used my Vitamix to obliterate them into powder. I mixed that into the dry ingredients. I was really happy with how it turned out -- super moist and strawberry-ish. If I were to make it again, I might even splurge and add one more bag of those freeze-dried berries!

Maybe you can see that it had a "little issue" with the strawberry cake ... I forgot to use parchment paper and it stuck to the pan. Novice move! I obviously figured it out for the next two layers. Ha ha. Luckily, I was able patch it up and move right along!

you can't go wrong with Neopolitan! 

I used frosting recipes from VCTOTW. The chocolate frosting recipe in that book deserves special mention. Man it's good! For the strawberry frosting I used strawberry puree for the liquid... and I used a whole layer of sliced fresh berries on top. I'm not actually a huge frosting fan, but I know that my beloved pal is definitely a frosting fan -- so I went big and slathered that biz on! ha ha.

Here's an inside shot. Just looking at it makes me wish I was eating that cake again!


cooking with love in my heart! 

I've also cooked a lot of meals for people lately -- and I didn't always get pictures of it. Unfortunately, right now I know several wonderful people who are receiving treatment for cancer. What a tough time in their lives. It can feel overwhelming to hear news like this, and not know what to say or how to help... but cooking a nutritious and love-filled meal for someone is a little something that's a lot better than doing nothing.

Here's a meal I double-cooked for two families in the same week: Potato Kale Enchiladas from Veganomicon (with pepitas and extra enchilada sauce on the side), Mexicali Chop Salad from The Real Food Daily Cookbook (with dressing on the side), and Snickerdoodles from Oh She Glows blog.

Whenever I cook for someone who's sick or just had a baby or just struggling, I try to make lots of food -- one dish that is hearty and toasty and also easily frozen, one dish that is lighter and more fresh, and always a sweet treat too. I've heard from people on the receiving end that the constant casseroles and soups get kinda old, so in addition to asking about allergies and food preferences/aversions, it's also always good to ask and see if someone has any special requests. That's also why I think it's nice to include a special salad, since it's so fresh. As for sweeties, sugar isn't really very good for the immune system -- but it is good for the soul and the heart. So I like to make some cookies or a treat that's not too sugar-laden, but still baked with lots of love.


happy yogis!

Speaking of baking with love, I taught a special yoga workshop last month and whenever I teach a workshop, I also bring some homemade baked goodies. It's partly spreading the gospel of veganism through the power of delicious treats, and it's partly just my deep personal belief in the joy of treats.

I know that people come to yoga to feel healthy, so when I cook treats for my yoga students, I look for recipes that are on the healthier side of things. I also prefer to make recipes that are vegan and gluten-free, so that no one is left out. For a chocolatey treat I made the Chocolate Almond Espresso Cookies from the Oh She Glows Everyday cookbook. These were a total hit and easy to throw together!

amazing nectarine bars

For something on the fruity side, I made a batch of these UH-mazing Nectarine Crisp Bars. I texted with my trusty friend Kittee for some ideas about what to make and this recipe was her suggestion. Thanks Kittee!! (ps. Kittee & Julie have a new gluten-free and vegan business that is awesome Julie & Kittee -- check it out!) I used the recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars from Smitten Kitchen... and then I made the following changes:

I used a few nectarines instead of the rhubarb and strawberries
I used 1/2 coconut oil and 1/2 Miyoko's Vegan Butter (from Trader Joe's) instead of butter
I used Bob's Red Mill 1:1 gluten free flour blend instead of regular flour 
                          (obviously, if gluten isn't an issue for you, then don't worry about it!)
I used coconut sugar for any sugar called for in the recipe

Both treats were super delicious and are highly recommended. It's such a nice feeling to send all my students off with treats in their hands and smiles on their faces! 


Have you cooked for anyone special lately? Or maybe someone has cooked for you? Do you have any favorite dishes that you make for other people? I'm always up for some inspiration, and I think I have more cooking in my future!