My Top 20 Posts of 2011!


2011. I've had so much fun creating and sharing vegan recipes with you all this year. I hope you picked up some new favorite recipes from my blog. And I love stumbling upon brand new favorites of my own - like my Toasty Pumpkin Fritters, Coconut Whip, my Fully Loaded Kale Salad, Caramel Apple Pie, My Macro Bowl and my summer obsession: the Watermelon Frosty. And many more.

So lets look back at the Top 20 Healthy. Happy. Life. posts of 2011. Did your favorite make the list? This is a great way to catch up on some of my popular posts from the past year that you may have missed!..

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Healthy Food at Disneyland: Where's the Magic?


You may have noticed from my tweets that I spent Christmas day at the Happiest Place on Earth: Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California.

But as a food blogger, I had more than Space Mountain and Mickey Mouse on my mind. Investigating Disney eats would be a whole new adventuresome part of this trip. Could the vegan and/or healthy Disneyland food options live up to the famous Disneyland Park magic?..

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Vegan Chocolate Chip Walnut Vanilla Bean Cookies.


For my Vegan Chocolate Chip Walnut Vanilla Bean Cookies, I've taken one of my favorite cookie recipes and made it even better. Huge chunks of organic California walnuts, mini dark chocolate vegan chips, Vietnamese cinnamon, and my secret ingredient for taking just about any cookie recipe to the next level of awesomeness...

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Raw Breakfast: My Busy Season Power Fuel.


I would have liked to have slept through breakfast this morning. But in fact, I did not. I worked through breakfast. Tis the season to keep food bloggers very, very busy.

AM. Outside the sun crept into the sky, a pool of periwinkle flooding the windowglass. I stumbled to the fridge for my usual early morning swig of Pressed Juicery raw coconut water, then over to my computer like a drowsy moth to a glowing streetlamp.

Cue the "spinning hands on the clock" visual. And suddenly it is noon. Then 12:30pm. Breakfast, officially skipped. Or maybe just perfectly delayed..

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Spa-tastic Giveaway! 10 Tips to Manage Holiday Stress.


Stress. We all have it. Some of us let it take us down like a ripped linebacker tackling a waify quarterback. And some of us are stress-masters, grabbing hold of stress and buckling it up tightly so that we control its every move in our bodies. And yes, stressed is desserts spelled backwards. So that means stress and a plate of holiday sugar cookies do not mix well together.

Don't let stress scrooge-up your plans for holiday cheer.

Ahead, you'll find my 10 Tips to Manage Holiday (and everyday) Stress! Plus I have an awesome $75 SpaFinder.com + C3* for Stress giveaway for you! Breath in ....... breath out..... click ahead.

Stress touches us all - and there is really no way to remove the stresses in our lives - unless you are planning on moving to a private island, chucking your cellphone to the sea and saying adios to society. Well, actually, I'm sure there are everyday stresses in paradise too. A cloud blocking your sunbeam could be quick upsetting I'm sure.

Is stress effecting you right now? Signs of stress can include:
* higher blood pressure
* increased agitation
* stomach problems
* decreased concentration
* decreased sex drive
* weight gain

Fact: 75-90% of all doctors office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints. -source C3*

We are all in the thick season of stress: the holidays, So rather than attempt to ditch stress, lets simply try to manage it. Here are ten of my favorite ways to feel a little more chill.

See GIVEAWAY details and my C3 review at end of post! (#10 on the list)

10 Tips to Manage Holiday Stress

1. Deep Breathing. Each breath you take has a startling impact on how you feel. And each breath also reflects on how you are feeling. Here is a breathing exercise to try to help you manage a stressful situation or just stay in a zen mood. Close your eyes and find your zen within each deep breath you take.

2. Break a Sweat (in your holiday sweater!) Holiday shopping isn't the only way to get a workout this time of year. Grab your favorite cheezy holiday sweater, pull on some leggings, top it off with a Santa hat and pump up the holiday music for the silliest dance-off ever. Invite some friends or simply strut your stuff solo with twinkly lights in the background - your kitty cat on the couch giving you a curious gaze. Breaking a sweat is my personal favorite was to manage stress :)

3. Water Power. I'm a huge fan of bubble baths. And adding little goodies to bring your bath up to par. Try essential oils, sea salts, Epsom salts and even some bubble-bath-approved kitchen pantry items like day-old wine, sugar for scrubbing your skin and baking soda. And for total rejuvenation, try some hot/cold water therapy.

4. Ginger Juice. To calm a troubled tummy (tummy troubles often have roots in everyday stresses) - try juice that is boosted by some fresh ginger. You may have to seek out a juice bar if you don't have a juicer. I have several ginger-infused juice recipes in my drink index. Try my AM Sunrise Juice.

5. Travel Zen. Try my pre-travel routine to ease travel stress.

6. Give Santa a Year Off. One of my favorite tricks for decluttering the holidays is to plan a vacation as part of your family gift. That way you'll be so excited about your travel plans that presents won't seem like the big highlight of the holiday and you'll be more focused on spending time together rather than unwrapping gifts under the tree. (Less presents means less stressful shopping!)

7. Probiotics! Again, tummy troubles are no fun. And stress can set them off. So be sure to take a probiotic around the holidays and load up on probiotic foods like soy yogurt, kombucha and fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles, tempeh and more.

8. Try Chamomile. Blend up a Calm Chamomile Smoothie or brew some chamomile tea.

9. Grab a Banana. Keeping your blood sugar levels up during the holidays is a must. So I always keep bananas on hand and even in my purse when I am out and about. Heck, Starbucks and 711 even sell fresh bananas! Bananas are a perfect calming food because they contain Vitamin B6, potassium, fiber, are easy to digest and have actually been shown to interact with the lining of your stomach to produce digestive-enhancing mucous, helping to protect your stomach against acid. Potassium, an important electrolyte for a hydrated, happy (and calm) body. Try my Banana Almond Shake for instant energy.

9 1/2. Bonus: Manage stress by staying hydrated by chugging some potassium rich coconut water. Try to find the raw, real stuff from a fancy juice bar if you can (or buy and crack open one of those big white coconuts for sale at Whole Foods. Raw coconut water is truly the best.)

10. Try C3* for Stress - and enter my giveaway! I was pretty amazed that this stuff actually worked and gave me a fuzzed-out, chill feeling within minutes. Fizzy and lightly sweetened with a zesty flavor - C3 is easy to drink. Visit C3* for Stress for more info and enter my giveaway below!!

C3* for Stress + SpaFinder.com GIVEAWAY! (note this is not a sponsored post - I only received a free sample to try the product and a giveaway prize to offer my readers)



C3* for Stress Review. I was skeptical. I'm not a big fan of supplements featuring big claims. And a powdery pack that claims to calm me down seemed pretty outrageous to me. But I swirled the mixture into a glass of chilled water and sipped. Within minutes I felt different.

A main ingredient is kava root. C3*'s blend of kava and other botanicals like polygala root, longan berries and more definitely chilled me out. I personally would only use c3* in the PM hours because it was so strong for me. But if you want a buzz - a buzz of calm - try this stuff and see if it works for your stress management routine. I love that C3* is sugar free - sweetened with stevia - and contains 100% RDA of vitamins B6, B12, Zinc and Niacin. Note: always read packaging and warnings before trying - and I'm a huge fan of always discussing new supplements with your doctor before trying them.

*GIVEAWAY ENTRY PERIOD HAS ENDED* Congrats to the winner: Heidi.

Giveaway Prize: (1) $75 gift card to SpaFinder.com AND a one month's supply of C3* for Stress (two 25-packs)

How to Enter -> enter by commenting on this post. You must comment to gain initial entry into the giveaway. Comment by telling me what your go-to way to manage or reduce stress is. Maybe it is a food, activity or even a favorite calming quote.

Additional entries:
* tweet this post and include @replies as shown: " I just entered the @C3forStress Giveaway hosted by @Lunchboxbunch - enter here: http://bit.ly/sOzXfU "
* Follow Lunchbox Bunch on Facebook and share this post on Facebook (easy share link at top)

NOTE: for additional entries add the tags #tweet and/or #FB to your comment so I know that you shared.

Giveaway Entry Period Ends Wednesday December 28th at 12pm PST (I'll tweet the winner and contact via email)

More info and learn how to get a free sample of C3: C3* for Stress


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Holiday Edition! Meatless Monday Recipe Round-Up


In the words of Madonna, "Hol-day-ee. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Celebrate.... lalala."

Super-jam-packed Holiday Edition of this week's Meatless Monday Recipe Round-up via my posts over at Babble.com's Family Kitchen - AND this week, I'm listing ALL my favorite recipes from this holiday season (and a few of my favorites from season's past) here on Healthy. Happy. Life. as well. Your vegan holiday feast is ready..

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Jumbo Soy Nog Snickerdoodles


These jumbo-sized Soy Nog Snickerdoodles are my way of infusing some holiday spirit into one of my favorite cookies. Light and chewy, these tender spiced cookies have gentle notes of holiday nog in each bite. Leave a stack out for Santa or gobble them up yourself. Pairs well with an ice cold glass of vanilla rice milk with a dash of fine cinnamon...





I'm still in shock that Christmas is a week away. I may be caught up on holiday recipes, but my present count is pretty dim. But that's OK. Some Christmases I'm just not in a huge shopping mood. Then some years I go way overboard, stuffing the tree with stacks of twinkly wrapped presents and goodies.

This year I'm feeling minimalist about Christmas. And even though giant LA shopping malls and decked out Rodeo Drive is just a speedy (or more likely, quite traffic-jammed) trip down Santa Monica Blvd, the present-bug hasn't bit me yet. Maybe I'll go mingle with some last minute holiday shoppers and catch it. Anyone else not caught up on holiday shopping and feeling sorta oddly zen about it?

..Or maybe it is just the lack of sparkly snow and brisk Christmas air that is throwing my present cravings off. Hmm.

Well even with no snow in LA, there certainly are a lot of twinkly lights. Check out my view last week from Griffith Observatory..



Snickerdoodle Inspiration. I was presented with a super stellar holiday baking gift from the from little elves of Microsoft. It was filled with inspiring things like some adorable tiny measuring spoons with labels like "dash" as well as some baking tins and such. Super cute stuff. It's nice to get a present with no strings attached. Also included was a jar of Vietnamese cinnamon. Super high quality cinnamon meals one thing: Snickerdoodle baking time.


Jumbo Soy Nog Snickerdoodles
vegan, makes 12-14 cookies

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp cinnamon (Vietnamese if you have)
a few dashes of nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegan butter, melted
1/4 cup safflower oil
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup soy nog
2 tsp apple cider vinegar

cinna/sugar mixture for rolling dough balls in

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
3. Add in the wet ingredients - fold the vinegar in last. note: depending on how "wet" you like your dough, you can adjust the soy nog amount. Add gradually so you get the perfect consistency for rolling balls of dough.
4. Roll large balls of dough between your palms - about 1 1/2 Tbsp of dough. Then roll around in the cinna-sugar mixture and place on a greased baking sheet. I personally don't mind if a little cookie ought sprawl happens and the cookies touch as they bake - but if you do, you'll need to use two baking sheets and separate cookie dough balls by at least 1 1/2 inches.
5. Bake at 350 for about ten minutes.








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Virtual Vegan Dinner Party: I'll Bring the Pumpkin Pie!


When I heard about this festive potluck-style vegan dinner party with some of my fave vegan bloggers, I said..

"I'll bring the pumpkin pie!"

Virtual Feast. You are invited to ogle this online feast - and you don't even have to get all primped and pampered. Stay cozy in your slippers and take in some vegan eye candy to inspire your own holiday meal preparations. Step inside the Virtual Vegan Dinner Party..

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The Vegan Big Stack. Breakfast Sandwich. Spinach. Citrus. Panko.


Why have one layer when I can have two? This is the thought that ran through my head as I was carefully plating my latest breakfast sandwich creation: The Vegan Big Stack. Breakfast Sandwich...

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My Pressed Juicery 3-Day Cleanse. Juice Bonanza.


"Our bodies require vital nutrients to function at their optimal levels, and the quickest and most natural way to get them is through fresh juice." - Pressed Juicery website.

Last week I signed on to try 3-day juice cleanse via the Los Angeles-based company Pressed Juicery. The juice-guru trio behind the company: Hayden Slater, Carly Brien and Hedi Gores. The Pressed Juicery has locations in Malibu and Brentwood and just opened a new West Hollywood location (the first super fan customer of the day? Nicole Richie).

Fresh off my 3 day juice-chugging bonanza - green, red, white, yellow and pink colored fresh juices on demand - at my fingertips - I can say I am a changed lady. And I have one new reason to love LA.

Juice Journey. Although I not a juicing-newbie, during this cleanse I was shocked to discover a few new things about my body and juicing. Get my story and lessons learned on my Pressed Juicery 3-Day cleanse..

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Meatless Monday Recipe Round-Up 12/12


This week's Meatless Monday Recipe Round-up via my posts over at Babble.com's Family Kitchen: holiday-infused recipes including Cocoa Cardamom Cake, Holiday Lattes - veganized, Soba Noodle Stir-Fry, my coziest soup ever: Leek, Potato, Mushroom with vegan Field Roast Sausages, my list of the top ten best vegan cheeses - and more inspiration your meatless day and the week ahead! Plus find out my holiday favorite treat of the week...

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Cinnamon Citrus Soy Nog French Toast, a la Pita!


Juicy golden winter satsumas, silky sliced bananas and zesty green kiwis pair perfectly with this cozy platter of holiday french toast - a la pita!..

My latest breakfast creation: tender, crisp edged Cinnamon Citrus Soy Nog French Toast Triangles (a la Pita). These crazy cool pita triangles are worth staying cozy in your PJs for.

Holiday Mood. Why fight it? Embrace your cozy, festive, just-wanna-nap-and-watch-holiday-movies-all-day mood this weekend. Soak it in. And if you are lucky, maybe a few snowflakes outside. Or at least some sparkly sunshine...

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One Lucky Duck Giveaway! And 15% Off! Gift Ideas Galore.


Holiday offering for you, my wonderful readers! I'm excited to bring you guys a giveaway from one of my favorite brands: One Lucky Duck. Enter to win a $50 e-certificate to the OneLuckyDuck.com online store. But wait! There's more. Since you are reading this post, you get a treat: a holiday discount code for 15% off any One Lucky Duck e-store purchase.

So get all your holiday shopping done in one healthy, happy, vegan swoop! And also ahead, I'll share my Top 10 favorite One Lucky Duck products/gift ideas and why I love them. Happy holiday giveaway details ahead!..

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Easy Vegan Family Meal. HSUS Party too..


This fancy, golden plate is loaded up with Vegan Southern Comfort eats with flavor combos I crave. It's all here: creamy, spicy, zesty, crispy, savory, sweet, sassy and a little bit of green too.

The eats: leftover cheesy shells, lovely wilted spinach, zesty sautéed sauerkraut, savory rice and red beans and some spicy Buffalo Bites. Grab a plate and dive into this buffet of deliciousness.

Ahead, get the recipes to create my Southern Comfort Plate and hear what I was up to this weekend!.. Including my time at the Humane Society Wrap Party here in LA - and my brush with fashion destiny as I pulled on my very first Vaute Couture coat. Emerald, plush, vegan fashion heaven..

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Vegan Spicy Chipotle Shells and Cheese.


Meet my dinner last night: Vegan Spicy Chipotle Shells and Cheez. Totally served up seconds with this dish on the table.

Thick and creamy, spicy "cheese" sauce coats tender pasta shells. Dollop on a few more spoonfuls of sauce and pile on spicy, crispy, sizzling nubbins of Field Roast chipotle sausage - sautéed with zesty diced onion. The final step: green, fresh, fragrant chopped cilantro on top.

Each bite pairs bold spiciness with cozy, oozy, creaminess. And while this pasta is totally decadent - it's also loaded with healthy stuff! Sweet potatoes and beans anyone? Recipe ahead..

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Meatless Monday Recipe Round-Up 12/5


This week's Meatless Monday Recipe Round-up via my posts over at Babble.com's Family Kitchen: holiday-infused recipes including Pumpkin Macadamia Scones, Frosty Holiday Cocoa Shake, Cardamom Breakfast Latte, Cinna-Sugar Flutes and a few fun recipes like Spicy Vegan Buffalo Nuggets (with only 3 ingredients!) and my right-now obsession: sautéed sauerkraut - and more inspiration your meatless day and the week ahead!...

Holiday Season Eats. Celebrate the holidays with the help of my other site: FindingVegan.com - hundreds of vegan recipes sure to inspire you (and more being posted everyday). From savory to sweet. FindingVegan's #HOLIDAY tag

Meatless Monday Recipe Round-Up - 12/5

* Easy Protein Recipe: 3 Ingredient Buffalo Nuggets
Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. These super flavor-packed bites are covered in crisp Panko crumbs - a spicy kick of hot sauce in each zesty bite. Veggie protein-packed.

* Holiday Treat: Holiday Frozen Cocoa
Every year I whip out the frozen cocoa recipe for a frosty treat that might not be the best idea when 'coming in from the cold' - but it certainly is delicious is sipping by a warm roaring fire, or even for my friends in not-so-snowy climates (like myself in LA this year!) Frozen coconut milk ice cream cocoa shakes with vegan dandies on top are the best!

* Treat: Cinna-Sugar Flutes
A lovely accompaniment to your hot bevies this holiday season: my Cinnamon Sugar Hazelnut Flute Twists. Sticky caramelized cinna-sugar crusting these tender pastry wands. Lovely!

* Beverage: Cozy Cardamom Nog Breakfast Latte
This cardamom-spiced breakfast latte is sophisticated and cozy all at the same time. It satisfies my new found cravings for all things cardamom.

* Side Dish: Sauteed Sauerkraut
Sauteed sauerkraut is my latest obsession. I think I've served it at dinner every night for the past week. I just love the zesty flavor of sauerkraut warmed to a perfectly cozy temperature - some fine pepper and other flavor accents added to the mix. Give this easy recipe a try to perk up just about any meal.

* Cookie: Coconut Snowball Cookies
The best part of holiday feasting is bringing back your favorite recipes year after year. These coconut snowballs are a holiday standard in my house - I enjoy them every year (with or without a pre-treat snowball fight.)

* Protein Side Dish: Citrus Scented Tofu Cubes
I featured these tasty little tofu cubes in my "Salad for Breakfast" recipe post. I love this simply morning-approved tofu recipe. It's a little bit of tofu in the AM, without the standard "scramble."

* Treat: Pumpkin Macadamia Scones
Still hoarding a pantry full of canned pumpkin? This recipe is for you! Buttery, cake-like scones are flavored with spiced pumpkin and studded with buttery crisp macadamia nuts. Perfect pairing for your AM holiday cocoa, latte, tea or nog.

* Holiday Side: Pita Stuffing
Just in case you missed one of my favorite recipes from Thanksgiving - read up and bookmark this one for the upcoming December holiday feasting. Perfect pita stuffing is my mistake-gone-good.

Something sweet, something to sip, something protein-packed and something green (my Meatless Monday round-up needed that something green..)

* Easy Salad: Easy Cheezy Kale
Put some greens on our dinner table in a flash with this basic nutritional yeast-infused kale recipe.

* Snow Day!! 14 Snow Day Recipes!
When those snow days come, you'll want to be prepared! Here are 14 of my have recipes to inspire you - and get you energized for some serious snowball fights and snow-angel making sessions.

Also, be sure to check out this year's Veggie Girl Power Series. And catch-up on past interviews here: 2009 and 2010 and 2009 quotes.

Previous Meatless Monday Recipe Round-Up's:

* 11/28 - Post-Thanksgiving Meatless Monday recipe.
* 11/14 - Pre-Thanksgiving Meatless Monday recipe.
* 11/7 - Pumpkin Cheesecake, BBQ Chickpea Wrap, Easy Spicy Chick'n Ranch Wrap, Concord Cranberry Sauce and more!
* 10/31 - Halloween Bonanza - treats, sips, and more..
* 10/24 - Banana Pecan Muffins, Halloween Candy Veganized, Halloween Cupcakes.
* 10/17 - Papaya bowl, witches brew broccoli cheesy soup, cheezy broomsticks, Spiderweb Brownie Bites, Tofu Triangles over couscous with candied cashews and broccoli.
* 10/10 - Pumpkin Pizza, Fruity Faces, Peanut butter Banana Pudding, Carrot Juice and Double Pumpkin Cream Pie.
* 10/3 - Naughty/Nice Vegan Desserts, Raw Chocolate Shake, Pumpkin Potato Salad, Pumpkin Spice Cider Smoothie and more..
* 9/26 - cauliflower soup, pomegranate fizzy cocktail, food truck gyros at home, ghost whip, almost tiramisu pie
* 9/19 - apple jack flapjacks, seared tofu, tropical green smoothie, vanilla coconut latte, sumac salad
* 9/12 - ginger frosty, peanut butter cream pie, vegan chili, easy coconut rice and wonton lunch, peanut butter fruit stack sandwich
* 9/5 - Labor Day "Southern Food" Feast - biscuits, "chickn" fried seitan, cole slaw, pb shake
* 8/29 - pesto alphabet pasta, banana split, sweet potato biscuits, pasta salad to-go, cheeze sauce
* 8/22 - tropical smoothie, mushroom bites, veggie burger, love your green juice, peas and pasta cheezy style
* 8/15 - vegan jello, sunny pesto pasta, peachy "A" Smoothie, creamy cole slaw recipes, vegan sloppy joes, apricot cobbler and lime basil sorbet!
* 8/8 - jumbo croutons, fresh tomato hummus, peanut butter pillows, veggie burger slideshow, sticky maple french toast, cinna-rolls and more!
* 8/1 - hazelnut hummus, pesto pasta, tofu scramble, squash blossoms, savory waffles, hash browns.
* 7/25 - smoothies, vegan burrito, blueberry bread, panzanella salad, beet salad, peach crisp.
* 7/18 - roasted pepper hummus, raw food eats, papaya smoothie, owl cake, chocolate pudding parfait, hemp mashed potatoes and watermelon recipes.

And you can always peruse my HHL Recipe Index for many more vegan, meatless recipes!


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Salad for Breakfast: Green Your AM. Try it!



If you're sick and tired of following the pack and ordering up a classic "sweet heavy" American breakfast, this post is for you! And even if you think that Salad for Breakfast sounds simply nuts - you should still read on. Maybe all this sunrise salad talk will inspire you to give it a try. Before you know it, you may be having crunchy green salad cravings before noon too!..

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ZingBerry Holiday Wrap! Tempeh, Cranberry, Slaw.


After a sunny weekend of holiday loveliness, I'm finally settled in LA and ready to slowly sink myself into the warm fuzziness of the holiday season. And perky recipes like my ZingBerry Holiday Wrap are just the thing I need to keep my mood peppy and my energy up for the busy food-filled month ahead.

ZingBerry Tempeh. Sticky sweet cranberry tempeh meets cool, crunchy Vegenaise-slathered slaw and creamy fresh avocado - all snuggled together in an extra large whole wheat wrap. Hand-held lunchtime bliss packed with zing-y flavor, protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins and maybe even a little holiday cheer...

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Artisana Giveaway! Organic Raw Nut Butters and More.


You guys know when I'm obsessed with a product. I tweet it. Rave. Gush. And whip out the camera. Foodie flashbulbs galore.

My latest product obsession comes from an awesome organic, raw brand called Artisana. Creamy, dreamy, rich, organic nut butter spreads (and more) so lovely that I simply had to ask them to allow me to host a giveaway of their goodies. They obliged me and I'm happy to offer you a chance to win their "Artisana Basket of Goodies!" GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED - Congrats to Cee for winning!..

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Holiday Detox: Grapefruit-Cado Sunrise Smoothie (and Mishap Stuffing)


Well I'm happy to say that my Vegan Thanksgiving went perfectly!! Well, OK, not really. I guess it depends on your definition of perfect. Martha Stewart perfect? No way. But "Kathy perfect" in the end? Oh yes.

The high pressure day cluttered with sideline errands, missing ingredients and kitchen tools, lack-o-real-dining-table yet (a la moving in scenario), makeshift serving platters and "a very late start to cooking" may have been ingredients for disaster. But holidays always seems to turn out OK when you are surrounded by loved ones. That "perfect" snuggly moment surfaces. And suddenly, "perfect" has a new definition.

More Thanksgiving recap and my Black Friday "Detox" Smoothie Recipe ahead!..

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Healthy, Happy Vegan Thanksgiving 2011!


I hope you are all having a healthy, happy, safe Vegan Thanksgiving! Take a peek inside my holiday (the whirlwind that it is this year!)..

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Vegan Holiday Shakes: Soy Nog & Persimmon.


I adore two holiday flavors: creamy rich Soy Nog and sweet, juicy persimmon. And what better way to enjoy these two flavors than blended up into a creamy vegan dessert shake made from decadent coconut milk ice cream! Cinnamon spice and Dandies vegan toasted marshmallows accent my Soy Nog Shake and this peach-toned Persimmon Shake is a persimmon-lovers dream!..

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Thanksgiving Week: Meatless Monday Round-Up!


Happy Thanksgiving week! It's the busiest time of year for at-home cooks, self-proclaimed foodies and food bloggers like me. Recipes, shopping lists, party preparations, bevies, table settings and plenty of pumpkin pies can keep our minds quite busy this week. So whether you are crafting an all-vegan feast or simply want to add some veg-friendly dishes to your spread - my recipes will give you a helping hand - and hopefully calm your mind just a tad.

From lovely pumpkin pie to hearty vegan stuffing and tangy sweet cranberry sauce - I've got you covered this holiday season! So here is this week's oversized Meatless Monday Recipe Round-up via my posts over at Babble.com's Family Kitchen - PLUS my Thanksgiving inspiration for the week ahead...

(Babble Meatless Monday round-up follows the Thanksgiving recipe links)

Vegan Thanksgiving Round-Up! So many recipes, so little time.

Lets start with some Thanksgiving basics. This slideshow over at Babble has it all! Stuffing, cranberry sauce, veggie sides, entree ideas, desserts and more. Check out my 15 Vegan Thanksgiving recipes <-- START HERE. My classic faves and a few creative twists on tradition.

A few more holiday faves I pulled from my recipe archives:

Entrees:
* 11 Alternatives to Tofurky

Drinks:
* Ginger Pear Shooters
* Fizzy Pom Cocktail

Desserts:
* Peanut Butter Desserts (pb choco chip pie!)
* 5-Ingredient Pumpkin Pie or my 4-Ingredient Pumpkin Pie
* Easy Pumpkin Pudding (lighter dessert option)
* 7 Dairy-Free Cream Pies (pumpkin cream pie too!)
* Classic Cheesecake Pumpkin Pie, Swirled
* Pumpkin Cinnamon Bun Cake
* Caramel Apple Pie

Sides:
* Sweet Potato Biscuits
* Trio of Stuffings
* Ginger Sage Butternut Pumpkin Soup - like velvet
* Cranberry Sauce Two Ways
* Cranberry Balsamic Brussel Sprouts
* Citrus Butternut Squash Dip
* Toasty Pumpkin Chickpea Fritters
* Spiced Hazelnut Hummus
* Easy Cheezy Garlicky Hemp Mashed Potatoes
* Arugula Macadamia Mango Avocado Salad
* Deep Red Beet and Greens Salad (aka The Twilight Salad - your teen guests will love this one!)
* Roasted Cheezy Broccoli over golden saffron quinoa
* Creamy Dill Potato Salad
* Panko Crispy Green Bean Fries (fun alternative to casserole!)
* Sweet Potato Tofu Hash - cozy concoction of tofu, sweet potatoes and veggies
* Sweet and Sassy Sweet Potato Pockets - an old have of mine!
* Pumpkin Spice Cashew Cheese Dip
* Vegan Cheezy Spinach Dip
* Lemon Thyme Hummus Dip

Breakfast:
* 18 Holiday Season Breakfast Recipes (lattes, cinna buns, savory breakfast sandwiches and more!)
* Creamy Pumpkin Maple Rice Porridge
* Holiday Spice Cranberry Tropical Oatmeal

Finding Vegan. I'm not the only vegan blogger posting a flurry of holiday recipes. Check out my other site FindingVegan.com - my goodness I've never seen so much yumminess in one place. Finding Vegan has hundreds of vegan holiday recipes submitted by a variety of talented bloggers. FindingVegan's #HOLIDAY tag

Meatless Monday Recipe Round-Up - 11/21

* Breakfast: Holiday Spice Cranberry Tropical Oatmeal
Cranberries, warm oats, macadamia nuts, spice and bananas make this a lovely breakfast for the holiday season.

* Healthy Foods: Thanksgiving Foods to Indulge in!
Thanksgiving is actually one of the healthiest meals all year if you pile the right types of food on your plate. From sweet potatoes to cinnamon - find out why these super foods are so super good for you! Have a guilt free feast.

* Thanksgiving: 15 Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes
Need a little help throwing together a vegan feast this year? From stuffing and cranberry sauce to sweet potatoes and dessert - these 15 recipes will have you well on your way to a wonderful holiday! Delicious for you, happy for those sweet, fluffy-feathered turkeys. Turkey kisses to all!

*Entrees: 11 Alternatives to Tofurky
I adore a good Tofurky - but if you are a bit Tofurkied-out this year, here are 11 alternative entrees rich in vegan protein. Have a veg-friendly feast!

* Holiday Appetizer: 5-Minute Glazed Cocktail Balls
There is nothing worse than a room full of hungry guests and a dwindling appetizer platter. Sure veggies and dip will work, but try these steamy hot cocktail balls glazed in a spicy sweet sauce. Zesty pineapple on top.

* Bowl: Mandarin Crispy Chick'n Fried Rice Bowl
Fried rice and sticky sweet, savory crisp Gardein chick'n bits. This warm bowl has nothing to do with Thanksgiving week .. but maybe that's a good thing! Fried rice gone vegan..

* Kitchen Safety: Holiday kitchen Safety Tips with The Muppets
These adorable kitchen safety videos help you brush up on a few tips and get a good muppets-giggle in at the same time.

* Snow Day? 14 Snow Day Recipes!
When those snow days come, you'll want to be prepared! Here are 14 of my have recipes to inspire you - and get you energized for some serious snowball fights and snow-angel making sessions.

Also, be sure to check out this year's Veggie Girl Power Series. And catch-up on past interviews here: 2009 and 2010 and 2009 quotes.

Previous Meatless Monday Recipe Round-Up's:

* 11/14 - Pumpkin Porridge, Tofu Triangles, Senate Bean Soup, Glazed Sweet Potato Rounds.
* 11/7 - Pumpkin Cheesecake, BBQ Chickpea Wrap, Easy Spicy Chick'n Ranch Wrap, Concord Cranberry Sauce and more!
* 10/31 - Halloween Bonanza - treats, sips, and more..
* 10/24 - Banana Pecan Muffins, Halloween Candy Veganized, Halloween Cupcakes.
* 10/17 - Papaya bowl, witches brew broccoli cheesy soup, cheezy broomsticks, Spiderweb Brownie Bites, Tofu Triangles over couscous with candied cashews and broccoli.
* 10/10 - Pumpkin Pizza, Fruity Faces, Peanut butter Banana Pudding, Carrot Juice and Double Pumpkin Cream Pie.
* 10/3 - Naughty/Nice Vegan Desserts, Raw Chocolate Shake, Pumpkin Potato Salad, Pumpkin Spice Cider Smoothie and more..
* 9/26 - cauliflower soup, pomegranate fizzy cocktail, food truck gyros at home, ghost whip, almost tiramisu pie
* 9/19 - apple jack flapjacks, seared tofu, tropical green smoothie, vanilla coconut latte, sumac salad
* 9/12 - ginger frosty, peanut butter cream pie, vegan chili, easy coconut rice and wonton lunch, peanut butter fruit stack sandwich
* 9/5 - Labor Day "Southern Food" Feast - biscuits, "chickn" fried seitan, cole slaw, pb shake
* 8/29 - pesto alphabet pasta, banana split, sweet potato biscuits, pasta salad to-go, cheeze sauce
* 8/22 - tropical smoothie, mushroom bites, veggie burger, love your green juice, peas and pasta cheezy style
* 8/15 - vegan jello, sunny pesto pasta, peachy "A" Smoothie, creamy cole slaw recipes, vegan sloppy joes, apricot cobbler and lime basil sorbet!
* 8/8 - jumbo croutons, fresh tomato hummus, peanut butter pillows, veggie burger slideshow, sticky maple french toast, cinna-rolls and more!
* 8/1 - hazelnut hummus, pesto pasta, tofu scramble, squash blossoms, savory waffles, hash browns.
* 7/25 - smoothies, vegan burrito, blueberry bread, panzanella salad, beet salad, peach crisp.
* 7/18 - roasted pepper hummus, raw food eats, papaya smoothie, owl cake, chocolate pudding parfait, hemp mashed potatoes and watermelon recipes.

And you can always peruse my HHL Recipe Index for many more vegan, meatless recipes!


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Portia de Rossi: Veggie Girl Power Interview!


I'm so excited to be closing out my 2011 Veggie Girl Power Interview Series with Portia de Rossi, a passionate lover of animals and proud voice for vegans everywhere. Get to know Portia...

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Spa Water at Home. and Monterey.



Today I arrived in Monterey California for a blogger summit hosted by Dole, on one of my all time favorite topics: salad. Yup, it's called "the salad summit" - I'm so freaking excited. Tomorrow, I'll get a first hand look at the true farm to table process, receive a tour of a Dole Growing Fields and Processing Plant - and immerse myself in what is only described as "Lettuce 101" - I think I could probably skip to Lettuce 102, but I'll humor them. So I can't wait to share all of what I learn with you guys very soon.

And to prepare for my trip, I have been chugging what I call "Spa Water" all week long. I like to nice and hydrated/relaxed when I embark on a travel adventure. Because lets face it, travel is usually anything but relaxing.

So, if you need a break from daily life - or just the dull glow of your computer screen - move into the kitchen and whip up a pitcher of this stuff. Instant Zen. My Spa Water recipe and the view from my room...

Not a bad view of the bay. Many more pics to come this weekend!..


This "Spa Water" is inspired by the Mandarin Oriental Hotel's water that they serve in their spa facility. I adore the Mandarin. And every time I have been lucky enough to visit their spa (I was married at the Mandarin in Miami!) I have gulped down their spa water. Laced with floating citrus rounds, and usually with a light pink hue. I think the Mandarin may add berry tea or some sort of tea or fruit juice as well. But my spa water is minty citrus bliss.

This spa water is really not anything flashy or complex - but the basic premise of having a large jug of fruit slice-infused chilled water, flavored lightly by natural ingredients - is quite soothing It's always there for you to grab and chug. Zenfully chug, of course.

This water makes the process of "drinking water" into a spa-like experience that will hopefully take you to a place of zen.

drink up.

Spa Water at Home
makes 9 cups

6 cups chilled spring water
1 1/4 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh mint sprigs
1 cup citrus slices

Allow mixture to "marinate" in the fridge for at least 15 minutes until serving.
Serve over ice.

Also try my Triple Citrus "Spa Lemonade" recipe here.






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Kathy Freston: Veggie Girl Power Interview!


Next up in my 2011 Veggie Girl Power Interview Series is Kathy Freston, one of the most inspirational vegans of 2011. From major media appearances (Oprah, Ellen, Martha just to name a few) to the successful launch of her best-selling book Veganist - Kathy has represented vegans in a mainstream spotlight all year long - and she sure has made us proud! Get to know Kathy!...

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Cali Veggie Burger Sliders with Carrot Sunshine Slaw.


These California Veggie Burger Sliders are piled high with fresh avocado slices, sweet onion and crisp baby romaine lettuce.

These tender veggie patties contain brown rice, garbanzo beans, creamy tahini spread and sweet corn. A side of my Cali Carrot Pistachio Sunshine Slaw makes for a zippy side dish. Serve with sun citrus iced tea or maybe some fizzy minted ginger ale.

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Meatless Monday Recipe Round-Up 11/14


This week's Meatless Monday Recipe Round-up via my posts over at Babble.com's Family Kitchen: Creamy Pumpkin Spice Porridge, Snow Day Breakfasts, Senate Bean Soup, Salt and Pepper Tofu, Seasonal Recipes, Sweet Potato Medallions glazed in maple spice and more inspiration for today and the week ahead...

HOLIDAYS are coming.. Celebrate the holidays with the help of my other site: FindingVegan.com - hundreds of vegan recipes sure to inspire you (and more being posted everyday). From savory to sweet. FindingVegan's #HOLIDAY tag

Big shout our to my mom - today is her birthday so Happy Birthday mom! She is indeed my biggest blog-fan. And I'm so very proud of her the past few months she has transitioned her diet into "almost vegan." Soy milk, tofu, low oil, lots produce and other vegan goodies in her diet have helped her lose about 15 lbs - as well as increase her HDL and lower her LDL cholesterol. I love vegan success stories. And I'm especially proud of people who embrace vegan foods later in life. It can be hard to break habits that you have kept your entire life. So bravo mom! And Happy Healthy Birthday!!

Meatless Monday Recipe Round-Up - 11/14

* Breakfast or Dessert: Creamy Pumpkin Spice Maple Rice Porridge
Creamy rice porridge infused with vanilla, pumpkin, spice and maple. This creamy, hearty bowl is delicious for a sweetly-kissed breakfast or hearty dessert. Oh, maybe a side scoop of vanilla soy or coconut cream over top the steaming hot rice - yum dessert..

* Soup: Veganized Senate Bean Soup
This is my new have soup recipe. I love it. White beans, vegan buttery mashed potato a few veggies and a nice burst of .. hot sauce! This is a recipe with a try history in the USA. The US Senate serves it at lunch every single day! So I decided to help them out with a delicious vegan version. Easy and delicious. Healthy too. Protein and fiber packed.

* Thanksgiving: 15 Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes
Need a little help throwing together a vegan feast this year? From stuffing and cranberry sauce to sweet potatoes and dessert - these 15 recipes will have you well on your way to a wonderful holiday! Delicious for you, happy for those sweet, fluffy-feathered turkeys. Turkey kisses to all!

* Entree or Appetizer: Salt/Pepper Tofu Triangles
These crispy, delightful little tofu triangles will have you ... craving tofu! Can you just imagine the dipping sauce possibilities?? Easy recipe that's a great party app!

* Holiday Breakfast: 18 Holiday Season-Approved Breakfasts
Start your busy holiday mornings off right with some serious vegan fuel. Pumpkin, spice, maple, pomegranate and more flavors of fall and winter ahead!

* Side Dish: Maple-Spiced Glazed Sweet Potato Medallions
Easy, delicious sweet potatoes - worthy of the snazziest holiday feast table.

* Snow Day!! 14 Snow Day Recipes!
When those snow days come, you'll want to be prepared! Here are 14 of my have recipes to inspire you - and get you energized for some serious snowball fights and snow-angel making sessions.

Also, be sure to check out this year's Veggie Girl Power Series. And catch-up on past interviews here: 2009 and 2010 and 2009 quotes.

Previous Meatless Monday Recipe Round-Up's:

* 11/7 - Pumpkin Cheesecake, BBQ Chickpea Wrap, Easy Spicy Chick'n Ranch Wrap, Concord Cranberry Sauce and more!
* 10/31 - Halloween Bonanza - treats, sips, and more..
* 10/24 - Banana Pecan Muffins, Halloween Candy Veganized, Halloween Cupcakes.
* 10/17 - Papaya bowl, witches brew broccoli cheesy soup, cheezy broomsticks, Spiderweb Brownie Bites, Tofu Triangles over couscous with candied cashews and broccoli.
* 10/10 - Pumpkin Pizza, Fruity Faces, Peanut butter Banana Pudding, Carrot Juice and Double Pumpkin Cream Pie.
* 10/3 - Naughty/Nice Vegan Desserts, Raw Chocolate Shake, Pumpkin Potato Salad, Pumpkin Spice Cider Smoothie and more..
* 9/26 - cauliflower soup, pomegranate fizzy cocktail, food truck gyros at home, ghost whip, almost tiramisu pie
* 9/19 - apple jack flapjacks, seared tofu, tropical green smoothie, vanilla coconut latte, sumac salad
* 9/12 - ginger frosty, peanut butter cream pie, vegan chili, easy coconut rice and wonton lunch, peanut butter fruit stack sandwich
* 9/5 - Labor Day "Southern Food" Feast - biscuits, "chickn" fried seitan, cole slaw, pb shake
* 8/29 - pesto alphabet pasta, banana split, sweet potato biscuits, pasta salad to-go, cheeze sauce
* 8/22 - tropical smoothie, mushroom bites, veggie burger, love your green juice, peas and pasta cheezy style
* 8/15 - vegan jello, sunny pesto pasta, peachy "A" Smoothie, creamy cole slaw recipes, vegan sloppy joes, apricot cobbler and lime basil sorbet!
* 8/8 - jumbo croutons, fresh tomato hummus, peanut butter pillows, veggie burger slideshow, sticky maple french toast, cinna-rolls and more!
* 8/1 - hazelnut hummus, pesto pasta, tofu scramble, squash blossoms, savory waffles, hash browns.
* 7/25 - smoothies, vegan burrito, blueberry bread, panzanella salad, beet salad, peach crisp.
* 7/18 - roasted pepper hummus, raw food eats, papaya smoothie, owl cake, chocolate pudding parfait, hemp mashed potatoes and watermelon recipes.

And you can always peruse my HHL Recipe Index for many more vegan, meatless recipes!


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Veggie Girl Power Interview: Anya, aka G0lubka


Next up in my 2011 Veggie Girl Power Interview Series is Anya, the talented woman behind the raw, vegan website G0lubka. Some of the most beautiful food photos and recipes I have ever seen are on Anya's site. Find out what inspires this creative blogger!..

Raw Vegan.
I always like to include at least one raw vegan blogger in my series each year. In 2009 I interviewed Sarma of Pure Food and Wine fame. Then last year I had Gena from ChoosingRaw and Ani Phyo of cookbook fame. Actually, I have to thank Sarma since she is the one who introduced me to G0lubka's fabulous website via twitter.

Light, Love, Beauty. I'm talking food people. Anya's food radiates all those things and more. Such gorgeous photos can only be accomplished with food that is pure, inspiring, living. Anya's raw vegan blog is filled with recipes that even if you don't end up making - are still incredibly inspiring. Check out the photos from Anya's latest blog post. She never misses - every post is amazing!..

Photos from Anya's latest post Caramelized Onion Bread with Green Olive Tapenade..




What's behind the name G0lubka? Anya says this, "Golubka means "dove" in Russian, my native language. I have had lots of links with golubkas and doves throughout my life. My maiden name is Golub. Back when paper letters were the primary means of communication, my mother used to sign each one with a custom-made dove stamp instead of a written signature. You could say it's our family amulet! My younger daughter's name is Paloma, Spanish for "dove," we couldn't resist that one. And I very much like the bird itself, as a symbol of peace or just a free creature in the sky."

Green Kid Inspired. Anya and her friends recently did a video about their kids drinking green smoothies: Green Kids. Super cute video, play below..



Why the video? Anya says "We're passionate about feeding our kids nourishing food and very concerned about the state of school lunches in our country. Since then, we've decided to start hosting interactive gatherings called 3D Dinner, Decor, Delight, where our guests do both the cooking and the eating, all the while learning about healthy ingredients. The profit from these events will be sent to Jamie Oliver's Foundation, which works a lot on improving school lunches." More info about 3D.

Onto the VGP interview!..

2011 Veggie Girl Power Series Interview: Anya, of G0lubka.com

Q1: Sunrise, what is the first food and/or drink you reach for to start your "Veggie Girl Power" day?

Anya: A glass of purified water, followed by a green smoothie or green juice.

Q2: As a Veggie Girl Power trailblazer you inspire many girls, who or what has inspired you?

Anya: I'm endlessly inspired by amazing food bloggers like David and Luise from Green Kitchen Stories and Coco from Roost. Sarma Melngailis influenced me the most in linking creativity with food and lifestyle. When I first read her cookbooks and learned about her restaurants, I felt like I discovered a whole new world of possibilities. My older daughter, who is the creative editor of Golubka, has always inspired me with her wisdom, high ethics, and talents.

Q3: When you first went vegan, what was the most challenging aspect of your new lifestyle? How did you overcome those obstacles?

Anya: If following the principles of a vegan lifestyle precisely, going out with friends can be a bit of a disappointing experience, at least in the Tampa Bay area. Even a good vegetarian dish is not always available in common restaurants here. When it comes to particular items, giving up cheese is the most difficult for me.

I constantly experiment with new flavours and like to learn about new foods, which help to keep my meals exciting and make overcoming cravings easier.

Q4: When people ask you why you 'went vegan' what is your usual response?

Anya: I like the idea and challenge of a vegan diet. Our blog is devoted to vegan food almost exclusively, but we don't like to label our food as vegan, raw, or anything else, but would rather focus on it being tasty, vibrant, seasonal, and fresh.

Of course, I find myself in situations when people assume that I eat nothing but vegetables and ask the famous protein question. I've yet to find the simplest answer to it, so I often refer to books like Eating Animals or Crazy Sexy Diet, and movies like Food Inc. I try to avoid arguments and focus on the pleasure of good food and a nice time at the table. I find that the laid back approach attracts people's attention in a much more effective way.

Q5: What is the one message that you always try to project to your fans/followers?

Anya: Healthy food can and should be delicious and visually pleasing, and therefore appealing to everyone.

Q6: Vegans love to share their knowledge about food and nutrition, what is an interesting food fact you love to share with people?

Anya: Most of the time, I leave the nutrition facts to specialists. But because I love green leafy veggies so much, here is one - they have the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food.

Q7: Vegans don't live on carrot sticks and hummus alone, give us your most creative/delicious vegan snack idea!

Anya: I love my homemade sprouted pecan butter on fruit, crackers, or raw bread. Also, thinly julienned zucchini with a drizzle of macadamia oil, or any fruit in season sprinkled with buckwheat crunchies. Nothing beats chia pudding or anything with cocoa. Oh, I am a Libra and can never pick one!

Q8: Words to live by: what is a favorite life tip or quote of wisdom?

Anya: From Jonathan Safran Foer's book Eating Animals - "If nothing matters, there is nothing to save."

Q9: How do you respond to negative comments from those critical of a vegan lifestyle - both online and in the real world?

Anya: I find that it's best to avoid telling people what they should or should not eat, that also helps keep negative comments to a minimum. What is right for one person is not necessarily perfect for another.

At Golubka, we often like to mention that first of all, we love how our food tastes and looks, and the fact that it makes us feel healthy and is better for our planet is a wonderful bonus.

Q10: What vegan ingredients and/or vegan products have you discovered that you simply couldn't live without?

Anya: It has to be Irish moss. That doesn't mean that I like to chew on it, of course, but this seaweed's ability to improve the texture of many dishes is amazing. The culinary possibilities it provides, from raw preserves to breads, are truly endless, and the health benefits are great.

Connect with Anya and G0lubka:
Twitter
Facebook - G0lubka
Website - http://g0lubka.blogspot.com/
Flickr

Check out all the interviews in this year's VGP series! more ladies to come.

(Linked ladies have posted already)
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart
Stephanie Morgan
Annie Shannon
Anya
Kathy Freston
Portia de Rossi



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Sour Cream-Swirled Pumpkin Pie for Vegan Thanksgiving.


Meet my Cream-Swirled Vegan Pumpkin Pie. Velvety maple-pumpkin-cashew filling accented by a light swirl of tangy-sweet cream. Light meets rich as swirls of cream blend with dense fall pumpkin.

I promised this recipe as a spin-off to my 4-Ingredient Vegan Pumpkin Pie. Only one added ingredient needed to make the "cream-swirled" upgrade. Both recipes are holiday-approved.

Plus I want to share a short story about my little old houseplant. Oh, the things we can learn from plants..





First, a story.

I have a few houseplants. Those shiny green, thick-leaved types that can go weeks without watering (trust me I know). I guess you can say I don't have a green thumb. But I do love my plants.

A few months ago I moved one plant to a new spot. The top of the fridge.

Today as I was watering this plant I noticed something strange. He (yes, my plants are "he's"), he was drooping. This wasn't a slight droop, but a full tilt lean to the left. I inspected the root area and it looked as though the dirt in the pot had become too dry and the plant too top-heavy with its sprawling, fluffy leaves. I thought that sadly, the plant pulled its roots out of the ground - thus the sudden lean.

Shoot. I really liked this plant! I hoped I could repair the roots. But after closer inspection I found that my hypothesis was very wrong. The roots were sturdy into the dirt - not budging a bit. The lower stalk strong as well. The explanation?..

The plant was half-bathed in sunlight everyday. That spot of morning light that hits the top of the fridge and glows a bright golden orange was just a few inches out of its reach. So slowly but surely this plant, this living yet brainless organism began moving. Changing. Reaching. Actually leaning towards that speckled ray of sunlight on the other side of the fridge. My plant was on a journey towards his happy, warm sunbeam. Why? Because he knew what made him happy. And more sunlight was it.

Smart plant.

Cool little story with a nice metaphor for life. If my houseplant has the will to change direction and move towards the sun, maybe, just maybe we should too.

So ask yourself: Are you fully bathed in sunlight each day? Or are there directions you can turn and changes you can make to move towards your full-body sunbeam? Sometimes the "easy" thing to do isn't what really makes us happiest. Sometimes we have to get up and grab that darn sunbeam.

And yes, I moved him to a sunnier spot.


And when busy chasing sunlight, you'll need a few easy holiday recipes like my Cream-Swirled Pumpkin Cheesecake is a spin-off of my 4-Ingredient Pumpkin Pie. Add in only two more ingredients for a tangy sweet cream swirl accent. But this isn't a "cheesecake" pie. For that recipe, you can see my Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe posted over at Family Kitchen.

The "cream" in this pie is vegan sour cream. No vegan cream cheese in this swirled pie. I love the silkiness of the sour cream. And when blended with the maple it creates a nice sour-sweet cream flavor. Very unique and worth a try if you are up for something new.

Sour Cream-Swirled Pumpkin Pie
vegan, makes one pie

1 1/4 cups raw soaked cashews
1 cup maple syrup
1 can organic pumpkin puree (16 ounces) (or use fresh puree)
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt

Sour Creamy-Top Swirl:
1 1/4 cups vegan sour cream (try Tofutti brand, in blue tub)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/8 tsp salt (to taste)

ingredients notes: using high quality spice is helpful. Also, I prefer grade B maple syrup for its rich amber tones and caramelized flavor - but grade A works too.

One standard vegan pie crust - or make your own crust - recipe. Vegan Pie Crust How-to video.

Coconut Whip on top:
*recipe one (with dispenser)
*recipe two (hand beater)

To Make:

1. Soak about one cup of raw cashews in about 2 1/2 cups of water in a large bowl. Add about 1/2 - 1 tsp of salt to the bowl - mix to dissolve. The salt allows the water to absorb more efficiently into the cashews and also adds some salt for your recipe. Note: you may want to soak more cashews than needed and make two pies - or use in other recipes like my vegan pumpkin spice cashew cheese!

2. Soak this cashew bowl overnight in the fridge. You want well-soaked cashews so that your pie mix blends up perfectly creamy. I soaked my cashews for about 18 hours. At least 8 is optimal. Don't soak for more than two days or the cashews can get grimy in my opinion.

3. The day of your actual pie making allow at least 3 hours from the time you start to the time you wish to serve the pie. I like a cool time of at least 2 hours.

4. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

5. Add your vegan sour cream and maple syrup to blender. Blend until smooth. Pour out and set aside. You do not need to rinse the blender.

6. Next, drain the water from your cashews. They should be very soft to bite and a slight purplish dark hue. This is normal. Add 1 1/4 cups of cashews to your food processor - or even better, a Vitamix or high speed blender. Get your own Vitamix here with free shipping!

7. Add pumpkin to blender. Next, add in the maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice. Blend on low -> high for about 3-5 minutes until the mixture is completely creamy. If your mixture is a bit thick for some reason - you can add in a few teaspoons of either water, maple syrup or even non-dairy milk. After blending, do a taste test and add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt if needed. I added in about 1/3 tsp extra salt. But taste before adding.

8. Pour your mix into a par-baked vegan pie shell. Then spoon the sour cream mixture over top the pie. Swirl it roughly down deep towards the pie crust. Then use a toothpick to create fine swirls. Try not to over-swirl or the colors will become muddled.

9. Bake pie at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Then reduce to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes - or until the edges look fluffy and a darker caramel orange tone. Use a toothpick in center if unsure. The tooth-picked filling should come out slightly wet - but very thick and dark. It is important to remember that your pie will firm up significantly upon cooling and chilling in the fridge.

10. Remove pie from oven. Cool on counter for at least 30 minutes. Then place in fridge until ready to serve. At least 2 hours cooling and/or chilling time is my preference. A warm pie will be tasty, but still a bit "wet" to slice.

11. I serve chilled with a swirl of my vegan coconut whip on top..









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