Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Vegan Junk Food Giveaway

I've recently exceeded 2,000 followers on Twitter and I'm really pleased that so many people have decided to follow me. As a way of saying thank you I decided to give away some vegan junk food. You may or may not know it, but I live in the area of Pennsylvania that is home to several snack food companies (Utz, Snyders of Hanover, Wege). Some of their snacks just happen to be vegan so it seems only right that I choose local snacks to give away. One reader will win all the goodies shown above.

From Utz in Hanover, PA: potato chips, sweet potato chips, snack size corn chips, snack size pretzel wheels, snack size kettle classic chips, and snack size natural gourmet medley chips.

From Hempzels in Lancaster, PA: pumpernickel & onion sourdough hemp pretzels.

From Hollabaugh Brosthers, Inc. Fruit Farm & Market in Biglerville, PA: apple chips.

To enter you must follow me (@thevegankitchen) on Twitter, tweet a link to this giveaway, and leave a comment here letting me know you did both those things.

You can get one extra entry for doing each of the following and leaving a comment for each here to let me know you what you did:

1) Like The Vegan Kitchen on Facebook and a link to this giveaway on your Facebook page (include your name in the comment here)

2) Subscribe/Follow this blog (you should be able to do this with google on the main page, left side partway down)

Be sure to include your Twitter handle and/or email address with each entry comment. Entries need to be completed and posted here by Monday 12/13/10. I will choose a random winner (drawn from a hat... or basket or something) on Tuesday 12/14/10 and announce the winner on Twitter via a tweet and a DM. If you win you will need to reply by Wednesday 12/15/10 with your mailing address so I can send the snacks to you.

Good luck, and THANK YOU!

UPDATE: The winner has been announced. Congratulations to Amber Shea - @AlmostVeganBlog on Twitter! Thank you for entering and as always thank you for your interest in my recipes and for following me on Twitter, Facebook, and here!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sweet Potato Soup *

2 – 2 ½ lbs sweet potato, cooked and skin removed
2 cups plain or unsweetened soymilk or other non-dairy milk
3 cups So Delicious Original Coconut Milk Beverage
1 ¼ tsp garam masala
½ tsp salt
2 TBSP grade B maple syrup or agave

In a large pot mash the sweet potato thoroughly with a potato masher. If you want a smooth soup be sure not to leave any lumps. Stir in the remaining ingredients and heat the soup over medium (or medium-high and pay close attention to avoid burning). Serve hot.

My seasoning in relatively mild since I have to accommodate the taste buds of a 4-year-old. You may wish to add more garam masala to taste, but keep in mind that this soup will taste spicier as leftovers than the day you make it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Apple Salad *

When making fruit salad, I prefer to use only fruit that is in season and in fall that means apples. If you have fresh, ripe, local apples which taste delicious on their own it may seem silly to add a dressing. The dressing for this salad is important, however, because it keeps the apples from turning brown after being cut up.

1 very large or 2 medium red delicious apples
1 very large or 2 medium golden delicious apples (or other mild, sweet, gold colored apple)
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 English walnut meats, broken into pieces
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (roughly one lemon worth)
1/4 cup agave
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Wash, core, and cut the apples into 1/2" pieces. Place the apples, raisins, and walnuts into a bowl. Combine the lemon juice and agave in a separate container and whisk or stir until well blended. Pour the lemon/agave dressing over the salad and stir to be sure all the apple chunks are well coated. Sprinkle on the cinnamon and stir again to distribute it through the salad. Anything that will not be eaten the same day should be refrigerated in a sealed container.

This recipe is a part of the September 2010 SOS Kitchen Challenge hosted by Diet, Dessert, and Dogs and Affairs of Living

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Product Review Blog: Vegan Ice Cream

Between the oppressively hot days this summer and the availability of a greater variety of vegan ice creams, I’ve been eating more of the frozen dessert than I normally would. That is why I’ve decided to dedicate the first ever review entry to this blog entirely to vegan ice creams and all that goes with them.

First up is Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss. While I was camping (in a cabin) in early July I found Luna and Larry’s Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge on sale at Kimberton Whole Foods (Douglassville, Pa). This was not the first coconut milk ice cream I tried but it was the first one where I didn’t feel the coconut flavor overpowered everything else. It was light, airy ice cream with a richly chocolate flavor and large pieces of hazelnut mixed through. The coconut flavor was present but not in a way that detracted from the chocolate and hazelnut.

The next product is not an ice cream but a sorbet: Ciao Bella Dark Chocolate Sorbet. Normally I dismiss store-bought sorbets as not worth trying, because they always seem excessively sweet. This one looked so good on the carton that I was tempted enough to buy a pint. I am very glad I did. Ciao Bella is not lying when they call it “dark chocolate”; this sorbet is extremely chocolate (like the equivalent of eating a bar of chocolate with a cocoa content above 70%) and not overly sweet. A peek at the nutrition panel reveals that it does in fact contain plenty of sugar (19g per ½ cup) but the sweetness doesn’t seem too much when combined with the strong chocolate flavor.

I first tried So Delicious Purely Decadent vegan ice creams a while ago when all that was available was soy-based. Out of those, my favorite was (and still is) the Peanut Butter Zig-Zag with salty peanut butter swirled through creamy chocolate. When the coconut-milk-based pints first appeared in my local grocery store the options were Vanilla and Cookie Dough (which happens to be gluten-free!). The first time I tasted the Cookie Dough I didn’t love it; the cookie dough bits were perfect but the coconut flavor was strong and (not that I don’t love coconut) I wasn’t sure I wanted cookie dough ice cream to taste that much of coconut. I might not have bought it again had my 4-year-old not decided he liked it very much. On vacation at the beach recently, I found a pint of Purely Decadent German Chocolate coconut milk ice cream in Green Street Market (Rio Grande, NJ) and decided to try it based on the logic that coconut is an important flavor in German chocolate cake, so what harm could the coconut milk do to it? This time not only did the coconut milk not detract from the flavor of the ice cream, it enhanced it. The chocolate was creamy but strong, the caramel was sweet and smooth, the bits of coconut and pecan added texture without too much crunchiness. It is now my favorite of all the vegan ice creams I’ve ever tried. Unfortunately, since coming home from the beach I haven’t found it anywhere; even a trip to Whole Foods didn’t produce any pints of German Chocolate. I did find two other delicious coconut-milk-based flavors there. The first was Pomegranate Chip, which I was skeptical of (pomegranate with chocolate?) until I actually tried it; the coconut flavor was pretty much hidden by the pomegranate and it actually reminded me of black raspberry soft serve I had at a park-and-eat restaurant (Tropical Treat in Hanover, Pa) as a kid, but with chocolate chips thrown in. My 4-year-old, who called it “the purple kind”, thought it was wonderful and between the two of us we managed to finish it off in just two days. The second kind was Cherry Amaretto. The cherry-vanilla flavor doesn’t have much almond to it, despite being called amaretto. It has a coconut aftertaste but it’s so light and airy, yet very creamy, that the coconut isn’t enough to keep me from thoroughly enjoying it. There aren’t as many cherry halves in it as I would choose to put in, and I wish there were chocolate chips, but it is still delicious.
(Unfortunately most of the flavors I mentioned aren’t listed at Turtle Mountain’s website yet but I promise they do exist.)

With the popularity of bite-size chocolate covered ice cream bits it is almost surprising that a vegan version didn’t appear sooner, but finally there are Almond Dream Bites. In the past I had tried Rice Dream and Soy Dream and was not impressed but the chocolate covered almond-based vanilla ice cream bites looked too good to pass up. The chocolate is smooth and melts nicely if you don’t bite into the “bite”, slowly revealing the sweet vanilla ice cream inside. There is a slight almond flavor but not as much as I expected. I could easily eat a whole pint of these bites in one sitting if not careful. There are also pints of Almond Dream not in “bite” form. The Chocolate is good, with a flavor similar to hot cocoa. The Cappuccino Swirl is similar in flavor to So Delicious Mocha Fudge, coffee with chocolate fudge swirled through; I think I prefer the Almond Dream version slightly to the soy-based So Delicious. I am not really a fan of praline as a rule, so I was surprised to find how much I liked Almond Dream Praline Crunch; I would recommend it to any vegans who miss butter pecan ice cream because if my memory of it is correct this is about the same flavor. The Almond Dream ice creams are not as rich as coconut-based, but I perceived them to be sweeter; they’re creamier than soy-based varieties but seem to be pretty equal with them in terms of sweetness. (Again, the products I mention don’t seem to be listed on the company’s website yet.)

All the vegan ice cream cones I’m going to include here also happen to be gluten-free. The first brand I stumbled across in a store was Edward & Sons Let’s Do Gluten Free Ice Cream Cones. The ones I’m referring to are the “cake cup” style cones, not sugar cones. Besides being a little more fragile they’re basically a vegan, gluten-free equivalent to wheat flour “cake cup” style cones. They’re crunchy (be sure to store in a sealed container with as little air as possible to avoid getting stale) and have very little flavor just like the cones you may remember getting at ice cream parlors.

The second brand, Goldbaum’s, I found in a local health food store (Sonnewald in Spring Grove, Pa) and a week later in a not particularly vegan-friendly grocery store (Martin’s Country Market in Morgantown, Pa) which was a pleasant surprise. This time the cones were my favorite type: sugar cones. The first box I got was the standard sugar cone flavor but the ones I found in Morgantown were chocolate sugar cones which, paired with chocolate ice cream, could please any chocolate addict. Goldbaum’s sugar cones are gluten-free and I actually prefer them to the wheat-based cones I remember eating because they have the flavor I remember enjoying so much but the texture is lighter, crunchier, and I have yet to find one getting at all soggy from the ice cream inside. They’re so good I’ve munched on one like a cookie without any ice cream inside on more than one occasion. If you look at the Goldbaum’s website (which is not very elaborate and difficult to read, sadly) it appears that they also offer “cake cup” style cones, waffle bowls, and “jumbo” cones; I haven’t seen any in a store yet but I’ll be watching for them.

The last product I’m going to include here is Soyatoo! Rice Whip. I tried the Soy Whip some time ago and while it was nice to have a vegan whipped cream there was something about the flavor I didn’t particularly like. My 4-year-old, however, thought it was wonderful, probably because it was so novel to him. More recently I was in Whole Foods looking for a can of the Soy Whip and while it was out of stock they did have Rice Whip, which I had not seen before. It wouldn’t matter to my son whether it was soy or rice so I bought a can of it. He was pleased with it and I decided to taste it too. This time Soyatoo! got vegan whipped cream right! Their Rice Whip is fluffy, creamy, just a little sweet, and is superior in flavor to the Soy Whip. I will seek out Rice Whip in the future and not Soy Whip.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gluten-Free Banana Pancakes *

These are just like my original banana pancakes except that they're safe for vegans who cannot eat wheat or gluten. Actually, there is a second difference: unlike with wheat pancakes, you can put chocolate chips directly into this batter and not end up with pancakes that stick to the pan. Even if you don't avoid gluten you may want to give these delicious pancakes a try!

1 cup white rice flour or King Arthur gluten free multipurpose flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1 TBSP tapioca flour/starch
1 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP baking powder
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups soymilk (or other nondairy milk)
1 very ripe banana, mashed
1/3 cup vegan gluten-free chocolate chips (optional)
margarine or oil for frying

In a large mixing bowl, combine the first six ingredients and stir. Add the vanilla and soymilk, stirring until any lumps are gone. Add the mashed banana (and chocolate chips if using) and stir, then allow the batter to sit for a few minutes. Place a bit of margarine or oil to your frying pan over medium-low heat; you may need to add about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp between each batch of cakes to avoid sticking so keep it nearby. Pour the pancake batter into the pan to form 3-4" diameter pancakes. These pancakes WILL NOT BUBBLE so you need to pay close attention and flip them when they are getting firm around the edges and the bottom is a very light golden brown (too dark and they will be crispy). These do not take long to cook so don't leave them unattended. Cook on the second side for about half as long as on the first & then enjoy!

NOTE: If you are not using salted margarine for frying you will want to add a pinch of salt to the batter. If making chocolate chip pancakes, I recommend using Enjoy Life chocolate chips because they are the size of mini chips and that way you get some in most bites.

Banana Pancakes

These are light, fluffy pancakes I developed after my sister requested banana pancakes to spread with peanut butter and sprinkle with chocolate chips.

1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour OR white flour (King Arthur white whole wheat is great for this!)
4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup agave
1 1/2 - 2 cups soymilk or almond milk
2 very ripe mashed bananas
margarine or oil for frying

Combine the first 3 ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir. Add the agave and 1 1/2 cups soymilk, stir until the lumps are gone, and then stir in the banana. Add the extra soymilk if necessary to reach pancake batter consistency (you will need to add some but not necessarily all so do this slowly, stirring in a spoonful or two at a time). Add a little bit of oil or margarine to a frying pan at slightly below medium heat. Pour the pancake batter into the pan to form 3-4" cakes. Flip the cakes when a few bubbles form on top and the bottom is light golden brown. Cook on the second side for just a moment and then enjoy!

Don't have ripe bananas? You can still enjoy these pancakes. Just skip the bananas and use the whole 2 cups instead of 1 1/2 of nondairy milk to compensate for the lack of bananas. You can even stir chocolate chips right into the batter if you like; it just makes them a bit messier and sometimes a bit likely to stick in the pan mildly.

NOTE: If you use oil instead of margarine for frying you will want to add a pinch of salt to the batter. I do not recommend choosing hemp milk for your nondairy milk in this recipe as it leads to sticking in the pan; your best bets are soy or almond.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Leek & Potato Soup *

2 large or 3 regular-size leeks
1/4 to 1/3 cup dairy-free margarine (more = creamier soup)
1 quart vegetable broth
1 stalk celery, finely chopped.
5 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
1 cup soymilk or other non-dairy milk, plain or unsweetened (plus extra if needed)

Selecting just the white & VERY light green portions of the leeks, wash and finely chop them to about 1/8" by 1/2" pieces. Discard the dark green portion or save it for another use. In a large pot, melt the margarine over medium and then sautee the leeks for a few minutes until they start to look translucent. Add the vegetable broth, celery, and potatoes, bring to a boil, and then simmer over low uncovered for 25 minutes. If the potatoes are not thoroughly cooked, cover and simmer until they are soft. Using a lid or other means, pour as much of the broth as possible into a bowl or measuring cup. Thoroughly mash the potato mixture with a potato masher, return the broth to the pot, add the soymilk, and stir. Add more soymilk if you would like a thinner soup.

Note: If you use a margarine that is not salty you will want to add salt to taste.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sesame Tofu *

After missing out on going to my favorite Chinese restaurant for some vegan sesame "chicken", I decided to find out how to make my own. Instead of using fake meat, however, I went with tofu and skipped the breading. It works well served with rice & steamed broccoli or some string beans stir-fried with garlic.

1 package firm or extra firm tofu (not Japanese style)
safflower or other vegetable oil for pan-frying
4 1/2 TBSP agave
3 TBSP sugar
3 TBSP Ketchup
1 1/2 TBSP distilled white vinegar
sesame seeds

Drain and press the tofu, then cut it into 1" chunks. In a large frying pan, cook with the oil over medium heat until the outside gets golden brown or becomes slightly crispy. Place the tofu on paper towels to soak up some of the oil while preparing the sauce. Remove any crumbled tofu bits from the frying pan, then combine the agave, sugar, ketchup, and vinegar in it. Stirring frequently, heat this mixture of medium until it boils, then reduce heat and cook until it begins to thicken. Remove the pan from heat and replace the tofu, stirring to coat it with the sauce. Once the tofu is on plates or a serving dish, sprinkle it with sesame seeds. There should be some sauce leftover in the pan which can be drizzled on top of veggies if desired.