Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Jambu Sparrow Vegan Shoes: Product Review

in grey / stone blue

Recently the folks at Jambu Shoes sent me a pair of their new vegan Sparrow shoes to try out and to review. I am a long time fan of Jambu shoes and I've reviewed other shoes from them in the past (here, and here.) Over the years I have had and loved many, many pairs of Jambus!

As soon as I opened the box, I was happy to see a little tag on the shoes saying that they were vegan. Don't you just love that? Jambu (and their sister brands JBU and JSport) make a lot of styles that are not vegan, but they also all make several styles of vegan shoes for women, everything from winter boots to sandals and sporty shoes. And the vegan styles are clearly labeled, and advertised as such! That makes my vegan heart so happy!

view from above of my cute shoes, and of Snoopy's cute toes

The Sparrow shoes come in 4 different colors and I selected the grey / stone blue. These shoes are "Water Ready" -- so you can wear them in the water and they're made of materials that dry out quickly. The only water sports we've had around here lately is dashing through pouring rain and jumping over puddles (not that I'm complaining!) So, I haven't had a chance to do any summery water hikes or beach days in my shoes, but even in lieu of that, I still appreciate the fabric and the super-breathable feeling of these shoes.

Since I teach yoga and practice yoga so often, I'm always taking my shoes off and putting them back on, and then off again, and then on again. I feel like I usually just end up wearing flip flops because it's so easy to kick 'em on and off. These new Jambu shoes are a great new option for me and I have been wearing them non-stop. It's easy to pull them on and off, and I really like how light they are. My feel feel so light and sporty when I have them on! It's like walking on little clouds!

As you can see, Snoopy was very excited about our shoe time photo shoot.
Footie was less interested in shoes, and more interested in sun bathing.

I think the Sparrows run a bit on the big side. I usually wear a 9 or a 9.5 and I selected a 9 in these. The laces are actually just decorative, so you can't make them any more snug. It took me a little getting used to at first, but now I am into it. They fit me a little more loosely if I wear them with no socks and more snuggly if I wear them with socks. Happily, I find them quite comfortable both ways! When it's wintry and cold out, I like to wear them with socks - and if I'm just dashing out for a few errands or if it's sunny and warm out, I like to wear them au naturale.

Sometimes when I wear shoes with no socks, they get all stinky and yucky... but since these shoes are designed specifically to be breathable and aerated, my feet feel super comfortable without socks - even after a long dog walk. The information that came with the shoes says that the footbed is even antibacterial! Hopefully this means that only Snoopy will be sniffing at my shoes! They also have a nice grippy sole, which I always appreciate.

When I am gone from the house for several hours, Dottie Bonkers likes to loving transport my shoes and bring them all to my bed and leave them on my bed. She used to chew them up, which was a bummer, but now she just likes to move them around. It is so cute. Of course my new Jambus have already found their way to the bed a few times! 

In addition to sending me a pair shoes to wear and review, 
the folks at Jambu also gave me a coupon code to share with any of my readers : VEGANEATS10 
This code will get you 10% off any of their full-price shoes until March 14th, from their website.
Let me know if you get some and we are shoe twinsies! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day Pancakes & Cookies!

Happy Valentine's Day to you! 

 this morning's special breakfast! 

This year Valentine's Day lands on a Tuesday... which means I'll be busy teaching two back-to-back yoga classes tonight. But we didn't want to miss out on the opportunity to do something fun and special together... so of course we decided to eat pancakes! Special breakfast is pretty much my favorite way to celebrate almost any occasion, so I don't actually mind missing out on a dinner date. We've been looking forward to our Valentine pancakes for a while now, actually.

kitty love!

My favorite pancake recipe is the Puffy Pillow Pancakes from Isa Does It (or online here). They always turn out perfectly and puffy, just like the name promises. I like them plain, but I also love them with with bananas and walnuts added in. That's what we went for today... except, you can see from my bottom pancake and extra banana that I forgot to add the bananas to the first few pancakes. Ooops. (the truth is, I stepped in cat barf and got distracted. thanks, Yummers!) No worries, even the ones without bananas were perfectly delicious. We enjoyed our pancakes with coffee and fresh OJ (squeezed from oranges from our orange tree!). I put out lots of toppings - vegan butter, two kinds of peanut butter (his and hers - organic trader joes for me, Skippy for him), two kinds of syrup (natural maple syrup for me, artificial syrup for him), apricot jam, and applesauce. Yum. Pretty much the best way to start a day!

Stevie says Hi!

fancy cookies!

Like I said, I'll be teaching two evening classes tonight - and Valentine's Day isn't always a great turn out for evening classes. So I promised my students that I would bring some treats for them - and that the treats would definitely involve chocolate! That's just straight up bribery, and I'm not afraid to admit to it. Ha ha. I made a double batch of the Soft Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies from the Aquafaba Cookbook. This is by far my new favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe! I usually add in a few extra tablespoons of coconut flour, to get the batter to the consistency that I like. Wow, they are so perfect and soft and chewy and great. I also got a cookie scooper for Christmas, which makes me feel very fancy, and now I can easily make cookies that are uniform in size. The nerd in me is very pleased about this. 

Snoopy has a Valentine for you! 

After baking the cookies, I tempered a few of the remaining chocolate chips and used the melted chocolate as "glue" to attach the fancy vegan chocolate hearts to each cookie. One way to guarantee a huge class is to only bring 10 cookies. If you only bring 10 cookies, it is for sure that 15 people will show up. On the other hand, if you make 20 cookies, probably only 4 people will show up. And yet, you must play it safe. So, with any luck, we will have some left over cookies ourselves after dinner tonight! 

Dottie wants to shake your hand! 

gf cookies!

I also always like to have a gluten-free offering in case some of my students are gluten free. I actually made these first, so that I wouldn't contaminate any of my cooking utensils or surfaces with gluten. As you can see, my original "brilliant" idea was the bake the fancy vegan hearts right on top of the cookies, but that clearly didn't work out as planned. Ha ha. Sorry, gf students! Oh well, at least they still taste fantastic. And, I'm also glad this mishap occurred with my smaller half-batch of gf cookies, rather than with my big double batch of regular cookies. 

By the way, have you tried baking with this new Gluten-Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour from Bob's Red Mill? I'd read good things about it online and I finally found it at our natural foods store. It really works so well in baked goods. I've used it so far for cookies and bars, and have had great success with it. If you don't do much gf baking, this would be the way to go, because you don't need to have separate bags of white rice flour, sorghum flour, xantham gum, tapioca starch, etc in your cupboard. Also, it doesn't have chickpea flour in it, which means it doesn't taste beany - a much appreciate improvement, especially for sweet baked goods! 

I hope you have a good day today - with some love from pets, pals, family, and yourself... and hopefully a little chocolate or a pancake too. 

Mr. Vegan Eats and Treats out delivering Valentines

**Giveaway Winner**

Here's a special Valentine for one of you...
Congratulations to comment #16: Affectioknit!
You won my giveaway for a copy of the Oh She Glows Everyday Cookbook
I'll send you an email 

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Product Review: BFree Gluten-Free Breads

The world of vegan gluten-free bread options has really come a long way. Recently the folks at BFree reached out to me and asked if I'd like to try some of their breads. I'm not gluten-free personally, but a lot of the people I love are, so I like to know what's out there in the world -- so that we can "break bread" together. I always really appreciate it when people make a special effort to accommodate my vegan diet, and so I like to do the same for my gf peeps.

Well, imagine my delight and surprise when I received a massive box full of so many goodies and loaves of bread and buns and rolls and bagels and wraps -- it was a literal bread box! 

gluten-free goodies for your GF BF!
for your gluten-freebie bestie! 

avo toast, a timeless classic!

I gotta say, as someone with no gluten issues at all, I am sometimes a bit wary of gluten-free goods. But I really like BFree bread -- it comes in two varieties: Soft White Sandwich Loaf and Brown Seeded Sandwich Loaf. My loaves flew out of the bag in a hurry... for sandwiches, avocado toast, toast with jam, and various other quick and tasty snacks. The texture, as you can see, is airy and also a bit dense, and not too far toward either. The Soft White Loaf has a slightly more dense texture and, as you would expect, a more neutral flavor. In the Brown Seeded Loaf, there are sunflower seeds and oats in the bread and more "whole wheaty" flavor. They are both great! 

Two bags of GF Bagels!

Multiseed and Plain Bagels

The two bagel varieties are Plain and Multiseed - the texture is dense - like a proper bagel. I toasted my bagels and had them with jam, Kite Hill cream cheese, or peanut butter... and enjoyed them all. I liked the plain ones better with jam and the seeded ones better with the more savory toppings. I also found that all of these BFree goods froze well and were easy to defrost and pop in the toaster oven any time I wanted one. In fact, I still have a few stashed in my freezer!

who needs champagne when you and your glutenfreebie pals can chink your bagels instead of your champagne flutes? Cheers! 

Gluten-Free Stone Baked Pita Breads!!

look at that! 

I was really impressed with these gf pita breads. They had a perfect baked browning on the edges on the exterior, along with a soft interior. They held up well, even stuffed full with hummus and tomatoes and veggies, but they also have a lovely taste. I like their oblong pita shape - for whatever reason pitas in the U.S. tend to be round - and I always like it when I can find oblong pita. I love how you can make a nice deep pocket of deliciousness in there! These really knocked my socks off. I shared a lot of my BFree treats with one of my GF besties and she was also super delighted to have some gluten-free pita breads. It had been quite a while since she had gotten to eat a pita bread! 

way better than a pity party! 

You can see the whole-grainy texture and color of the inside of the Brown Seeded Hot Dog Buns (I kinda man-handled this one with my knife, so it's a little beleaguered!) - and you can also see the flax seeds on the outside of the buns. I'll confess that I liked these so much that I ate a couple of them as rolls with my lunch! It says on the bag that they are "super soft," and they really are! Such a nice flavor and texture in these rolls! I didn't get a picture of the inside of the white rolls before I "accidentally" ate all them, but they are just as lovely, with a more traditional hot dog bun flavor.

 I enjoyed my GF hot dog bun with a glutenous Tofurkey bratwurst sausage! This was such a fun and delicious lunch - I slathered on a generous dollop of Dijon mustard, a big pile of sauerkraut, and my hot dog. So filling and satisfying - and the bun was just great - it stayed soft and chewy without getting soggy or mealy at all. Honestly, these products really changed my mind about gluten-free breads, they are leaps and bounds better than any gf bread I had tried previously. It's not like I'm an expert, but still. These breads really are good.

Soft White Roll, toasted with vegan butter

Soft Brown Seeded Roll with broccoli tahini soup and dukkah (from Persepolis)

I really love both flavors of these rolls! They are light and just the right balance of fluffy and chewy. You can see from my two pictures that the two flavors of rolls are quite different -- the white rolls have a nice "french bread" texture - not super airy, and also not dense. The brown seeded rolls have a seeds throughout and slightly more robust flavor. I enjoyed my rolls in simple ways -- just toasted with a little homemade vegan butter... which is kind of the true test. I also enjoyed some as "mini sandwiches," which was also great. They would make good mini slider buns! 

Quinoa and Chia Seed Wrap 
filled with Portabello Pepper Steak (from Appetite for Reduction)

Bfree also makes two kinds of wraps/tortillas. I was happy with the flexibility and flavor of the wraps. Waaaay back in the day, I tried a few gf tortillas that just cracked in half as soon as you tried to bend them. That was no good at all. I warmed my wraps lightly in the toaster oven, just to take the chill off, and they were fantastic : tasty, substantial but not overwhelming, and durable. They held up great, even when stuffed full of goodies. 

...aaaand that's a wrap! 

I can definitely recommend these products -- especially to any of you who are gluten-free, or the next time you have a gf friend visiting or coming over for dinner! 

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Book Review & Giveaway: "Oh She Glows Everyday"

I was late in the game to appreciate the amazing recipes over at OhSheGlows.com, in fact, I didn't discover Angela Liddon's recipes until I received a copy of her first cookbook The Oh She Glows Cookbook to review for this blog. Within just a few recipes, I was smitten. Over the years I have made and loved and shared so many recipes from The OSG Cookbook and from her blog. I even have the OSG app* and I really love it. So, I was super stoked to have the opportunity to review her second book: Oh She Glows Every Day ! I made lots of goodies from this beautiful book...

*By the way, if you like cooking from apps, I really like the OSG app. It's got lots of recipes and Angela is always adding more. Also, I was stoked to see that the app is now available for Android phones too. I switched from Apple to Android, and now I can have it on my new phone too! 

cooking from the OSG app

a soup so full of veggies, it's practically a stew!

I have loved pretty much every OSG soup recipe that I've tried, so I'm always interested in new soup recipes from Angela. The first time I flipped through OSGED, this Metabolism-Revving Spicy Cabbage Soup caught my eye right away - especially because after all the rich and abundant eating of holiday times, I was attracted to such a light and nutritious soup. I really loved the flavors and textures and body of this soup and I've already made it twice. It's not really all that spicy, as much as well-spiced, flavorful, and light. As most soups do, this soup also got better and better with each passing day.  This is a recipe I'm sure to make again and again.

a perfect winter time soup

Mr. VE&T and I loved this 6 Vegetable and "Cheese" SoupIt's loaded with veggies like sweet potatoes, broccoli, and carrots; it's got a hearty dose of nutritional yeast, and the result is thick, chunky, rich, and satisfying. I took the picture before I put on the pepitas and croutons for topping (doh!). It's not the most photogenic soup - ha ha! - but don't let that deter you from making it. I promise, it's really good! 

colorful and nutritious and delicious! 

I think this Sweet Potato, Chickpea, and Spinach Coconut Curry is one of my favorite recipes so far from this book. As you can see it's full of veggies and chickpeas. What you can't see is that it's warm and warming and super hearty. It's also a great use for chickpeas if you've been cooking up chickpeas just for the aquafaba. I like having a good stash of homemade aquafaba and homecooked chickpeas in the freezer -- in case of culinary emergencies! 

BFFs: Sweet potatoes, Chickpeas, and Me

so perfect

This Crowd-Pleasing Caesar Salad totally lives up to its name. I made this when some friends came over, and we all loved it. The base is a combination of Romaine lettuce and Lacinato Kale, with a rich and really delicious caesar dressing. The creamy tang of the dressing with the fresh crunch of the greens is an extremely satisfying combo. And, the toppings really make it even better: 
the Garlic-Roasted Chickpeas are an excellent spin on croutons, they're quick and easy to prepare and they provide a good umami blast, some chew, and some more protein to the salad.
The Vegan Parmesan Cheese is also in the book and is quick to throw together and also adds a lot to the salad over all - increased depth of flavor and cheesiness. Just writing about this recipe makes me want to eat it again right now! 

giant piles of good stuff!

This recipe for Loaded Sweet Potatoes is pretty straightforward, but somehow it is also so goood! I don't make potato-y things very often, but I loved these baked sweet potatoes overflowing with beans and salsa and Avocado-Cilantro Crema. In fact, as you can see, I've made these twice and I've been dreaming about them ever since. I especially loved the idea of using sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes - the sweetness goes so nicely with the salsa and the other toppings.
sweet dreams in my little sweet potato

creamy perfection!

Oh man, it doesn't happen often, but Mr VE&T and I disagreed on this one. I really really liked this dinner, and he didn't like it. What the heck!? Oh well, more for me! The All-Purpose Cheese Sauce in this Mac & Peas is great, with cashews, potatoes, carrots, nooch, a little coconut oil, and other goodies. It's thick and creamy and lovely. At least I thought so! Now I'll have to wait for Mr VE&T to have some other dinner plans so I can make this again. I'd also love to make the cheese sauce and put it to use as a dip or sauce with veggies, or on nachos! 

gluten-free and loaded with yumz

Oh wow, these Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies were so good! I love that this book has so many gluten-free treats. (In fact every recipe indicates up at the top of the page whether it's gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, oil-free, etc ) These cookies have shredded coconut, chocolate chips, oats, maple syrup, and peanut butter! I made these for one of my yoga classes - and they were a big hit! I always like to make gf cookies for my students, just in case any of my students are gf. I also have lots of friends and loved ones who are gf and so I'm always on the look out for special treats I can make for them. Also, I must say, I haven't yet ever made a dud cookie from one of Angela's recipes. I think she has some real cookie skillz! 

spiced, a little crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside

Speaking of excellent gluten-free cookies, I've already made these Chewy Molasses Spelt Cookies three times - they were just perfect for the holiday season and wintry treats! I love the amount of spices in this cookie and the crispy crackle of the outside paired with the chewy molasses-y insides. I also made these for my yoga students and they were happily devoured! 

ours is a household full of cookie fans!

There are a lot more recipes that I'd still like to make: 
Chili Cheese Nachos
Big Tabbouleh Bowl
Creamy Thai Carrot Sweet Potato Soup
Marinated Italian Tofu
Sweet Potato Casserole
Marinated Lentils
Thai Crunch Salad
Soba Noodle Salad
Chocolate-Almond Espresso Cookies

The book is divided up into nine chapters:
Smoothies and Smoothie Bowls
Sides and Soups
Cookies and Bars
Homemade Staples

True to her style, the recipes in OSGED are healthy without sacrificing flavor and tasty without being overly complex or requiring elaborate ingredients - both which I really appreciate.  This book would be especially good for newer vegans, for someone who is interested in exploring vegan or plant-based food, or as a gift to get for family members who never know what to cook for you. I particularly love that there are hardly any unusual "specialty" ingredients, you won't need to go to two natural food stores, the mainstream store, and Trader Joe's to complete your shopping for any of these recipes.

As I mentioned, I also have the first OSG cookbook and there are some similar recipes in both books, so there is a little bit of overlap. Several of the recipes in OSGED are quite simple: things like nut butters, coconut butter, chia pudding, two hummus recipes, guacamole, and avocado toast. I already know about these things, but I know there are a lot of folks out there who don't, and the book presents them really well and in clear and appealing way. And also, her recipes are consistently reliable: good, clear, easy to follow, easy to prepare. I really appreciate that about her recipes so much. I can't remember ever making a recipe from OSG and not having it come out the way I expected it to, which is really saying something. This book presents a good balance of simple and quick recipes along with more complex flavors and recipes. 

Aesthetically, the book is fantastic: every single recipe has a beautiful full-page color picture, the font is clean and lovely and easy to read, the ingredients are laid out clearly and in order of use, every recipe indicates if it's soy-free/gluten-free/oil-free/kid-friendly/etc, and prep time and cooking time estimate are provided. It's a pleasant and effortless user experience! 

As for me, I especially love the entrees, soups and salads, and the desserts! Plus, I mean really, a whole cookie chapter? I am, after all, the gal that made 13 kinds of cookies for my own wedding instead of a cake! 

The publishers at Avery Press sent me my copy of the book to review, and are are allowing me to offer a giveaway to this beautiful book to one lucky reader in the USA. To enter, please leave me a comment and tell me which recipes sound good to you, or what you ate for lunch today, or just about anything will do! And please leave your email or make sure I can get a hold of you or I will just pick a different winner! Good luck!