My VegNews Cover Photo! And a Dessert Shake Recipe.

Oh yea, I'm so excited to finally hold in my hands the Sep+Oct Food Issue of VegNews Magazine - with my Pumpkin Carrot Cake photo on the cover. Take a look inside the issue and toast with me! I'm cheers-ing with a tall, frosty Peanut Butter Banana Shake. Recipe and more mag pics ahead!..

The Hunt. All last week I had been strolling into Barnes and Noble checking and waiting for the Sep/Oct issue of VegNews Magazine to be stocked. Nope. Nuthin. Funny how their cafe had pulled out the Halloween themed ghost and pumpkin shaped cookies (already!) - but the September issue of VegNews? Nope. One of my friends in NYC told me she spotted it in Moo Shoes. And another friend had it delivered to her mailbox days before. But I had yet to find my very first cover photo mag. The hunt continued..

Then finally, on a super stormy pre-Irene day, I wandered into Whole Foods. I was reaching for a fuzzy peach in the produce section and spotted my photo on the new VegNews issue, stocked right above Food and Wine Magazine. I squealed. speechless, I grabbed my husband and pointed to the magazine rack. He looked at me confused. What? Peaches? It took him a moment to realize what I was pointing at. Then he joined me in speechless delight. I grabbed a copy. What a thrill.

When I got home, I blended up this Banana Peanut Butter Shake and flipped through the magazine.

Banana PB Shake Cheers!..

Thumbs Up VegNews. As I chatted about in this post, I'm so incredibly proud of VegNews for stepping up their photo game and showcasing vegan food photos - controversy officially resolved in my opinion. So for those who have wondered or whispered on comment threads, yes the cover photo is 100% vegan - and totally delicious might I add. You can find my cake recipe in the interior of the issue.

A look inside the issue (my shake recipe ahead too)..

You can also see two of my photos in the Vegan Food Truck/Cart section! My fave NYC vegan cart - the dosa guy..

Want to subscribe to VN? Go for it -> VegNews (I get the tree-free edition, it comes to my inbox, love it.)

RECIPE: Shake it.

Shake-spiration: Really good peanut butter..

Banana PB Shake. I've been making this shake a lot lately. I love it because it is so easy (very few ingredients) and it totally tastes like an ice cream shake. OK, so it's infused with heaping spoonfuls of high-fat peanut butter, but "nut fats" are oh so much healthier than traditional shake saturated fat from dairy. so indulge your shake craving. The secret "frosty" texture ingredient is the frozen extra-ripe banana slices.

Banana Peanut Butter Shake
serves 1-2

1 1/2 cups frozen banana slices, very ripe banana (black spotted)
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/3 cup good peanut butter, room temperature - it should be soft and spoonable - (fresh ground is even better)
1/4 cup+ soy creamer (you can also use soy milk, almond milk or another non-dairy milk)
optional: cinnamon
swirl in: 1 Tbsp peanut butter when pouring

tip: if you are having trouble blending the frozen bananas, add in 1/2 fresh banana to loosen the blend.

To Make:

1. Add you frozen bananas, maple syrup, peanut butter and 1/4 cup liquid into a high speed blender - my Vitamix ( shipping with my link if you are interested in buying a Vitamix!) blended this shake perfectly.
2. Blend on low until the bananas are chopped into smaller bits. Then turn blender to a higher speed - adding extra liquid (as needed or desired) until creamy.
3. Pour into glass and add the extra Tbsp of peanut butter in layers as you pour - swirl effect at top.

That's it! Easy.

shameless Nelly shot..


Easy Cheezy Ballpark Nachos. Melty Cheez. Plant-Based Snack for Everyone!

Last week was a Mac/Cheez kind of week for me. And I had quite a few little tubs of leftover vegan cheese sauce. There are a few yummy recipes to use up leftover cheez sauce. But my favorite is to make these Easy Cheezy Ballpark Nachos...

Fun, easy, delicious - this red basket of nachos really looks similar to that creamy, fluorescent orange sauce-coated snack you find when you order nachos at a ballpark or any sporting/stadium event really.

The only difference is that this sauce is healthy and vegan! Instead of processed dairy and preservatives - this sauce is filled with good for you fiber, protein, vitamins. Bold cheezy flavor. You'll find this bean and potato-based sauce is light, silky and creamy - perfect for drizzling and dipping.

Each silky rich spoonful of sauce hugs the round golden corn tortilla chips and oozes over the crevices of fresh chopped Mex veggies. Grab a chip and enjoy!..

silky, creamy, rich, cheezy orange sauce..

The neatest thing about this sauce is that there is actually no "cheese" - not even vegan cheese - in the recipe. The sauce is really a whole food sauce created from a flavorful mixture of beans, potato, nutritional yeast, cider vinegar, spices, olive oil - and more. Very little soy as well. The creaminess and lightness is due to those white cannellini beans and the starchy potato. All that cheezy flavor is from the addictive nutritional yeast.

Nut-based vs Bean/Potato-based. I've tried a few cashew-based cheez sauces. And in comparison, while they have fab flavor, they are much heavier than this sauce.

So ballpark-believable that my husband starting shouting out ballpark ref calls as he happily munched away :) Love the enthusiasm.

Easy Cheezy Ballpark Nachos
vegan, serves 2 (it's fun to share!)

1 cup round tortilla chips - I like the mini sized chips
1 cup leftover vegan cheese sauce (recipe here)
1/2 avocado, diced (tossed in fresh lime juice)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 cherry tomatoes, diced
1/2 jalapeno, sliced
1 lime, sliced
fine black pepper

other optional add-ins:
sliced olives
chopped onions
hot sauce

To make your cheez sauce "spicy" - simply add a few dashes of cayenne or teaspoons of hot sauce - stir into the sauce before pouring over chips. The chopped jalapenos will also add a nice heat - especially if you leave the seeds on.

To Make:

1. Re-heat your cheese sauce. I warm mine in the microwave for about a minute.
2. Drizzle warm sauce over top round tortilla chips.
3. Add garnishes. Serve!


Fake-Out Mac 'n Cheese!

Bowls and bowls of vegan Mac 'n Cheese have been tumbling out of my kitchen the past few days. I've been seduced, yet again, by those fluffy golden curls of pasta. I've already posted quite a few vegan Mac/Cheez recipes, but this time I was craving a classic bowl. I wanted to put that "blue box" Mac to shame. So this is my fake-out version of what vegans like me may remember Mac 'n Cheese to look, feel, taste and sound like. Yes, sound like too..

Sounds Like Mac. When I fold my fake-out cheese sauce into the steaming, warm, pillow-y macaroni pasta I hear the sound of Mac 'n Cheese. It's a sloshing, gurgling, wet and bubbly sound as the thick sauce oozes between the tubes of macaroni and coats the silky curves in a delicate way.

I actually hadn't heard that sound in a very long time. Maybe back in early college, still a vegetarian, in a desperation move I whipped up a "blue box" Mac. The strangely silky cheese sauce coated each piece of pasta in a dramatic slithering way. Slapping against the side of the bowl as the electric orange powder transformed magically into "sauce." But the taste of "blue box" Mac never trumped the crazy color of the sauce.

But really, this recipe is s much better than my "blue box" memories. It's really a play on what my mom used to make. Rich, thick, creamy pasta that oozed with each spoonful bite. Comfort Mac. Yup, I can veganize that..

Inspired Again by a Memory. So yet another food memory of mine turned itself into my recipe inspiration. Do we see a pattern here folks?

I guess I'm trying to re-create my childhood (or actually, veganize my childhood) one dish at a time.

Fake-Out Mac 'n Cheese
makes 5-6 cups

3 cups fake-out cheese sauce (see below)
6 cups cooked macaroni pasta
2 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes (optional)

To prepare: Cook Pasta. Drain. Toss with nutritional yeast and parsley (opt'l tomatoes). Fold in prepared cheese sauce. Serve warm or keep warm in oven until ready to serve.

Tossing Process:

Fake-Out Cheese Sauce Recipe Below

Stretch Your Cheese Sauce - 5 uses
Find five more uses for my Fake-out Cheese Sauce (think cheesy nachos and vegan 'special sauce').

Fake-Out Cheese Sauce - updated 11/12
vegan, makes 5 cups

1 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 can cannellini beans, drained (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard (or add to taste)
1/4 tsp fine pepper + salt to taste
1 cup mashed sweet potato
1/3 cup vegan butter (Earth Balance) softened
1 Tbsp tahini (optional - adds a tang to the sauce – just as real cheese would)
add a few dashes cayenne or red pepper flakes for heat!

Last step: thin out to desired thickness with PLAIN soy milk, soy creamer or water

To Make:

1. Bake your sweet potato – if using that method.
2. Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor. I used my Vitamix. Blend on low and increase gradually until mixture becomes smooth.
3. You can do a taste test and adjust spices, sweetness. Lastly, thin out the sauce to your desired thickness using soy milk, soy creamer or water. I added in a splash of soy creamer.
4. If serving with pasta, add directly to hot, just drained pasta and the pasta will heat the sauce. Otherwise, you can simmer the sauce on your stove top until ready to be served or used in a recipe. Simmering the sauce is great if using for a cheesy dip or fondue.


Meatless Monday Recipe Round-Up, 8/29

This week's Meatless Monday Recipe Round-up via my posts over at! Inspiration for today and the week ahead...

VOTING ENDS WEDNESDAY! Only a few more days to vote in the VegNews Veggie Awards! Healthy. Happy. Life. is up for Favorite Blog. Fill out the quick survey and you'll be entered to win some fab prizes. I'd really appreciate your vote! And to all those who have been voting: thank you!

Meatless Monday Recipe Round-Up - 8/29

* Silly Green Pesto Alphabet Pasta
Though I planned this to be a fun way to get kids to eat their green stuff (via fun whole wheat alphabet pasta), I actually fell in love with this quickie recipe. These pesto pasta bites are studded with sun-dried tomatoes and plenty of wilted spinach. And a few scoops of nutritional yeast folded in makes this pasta extra savory-delicious. A must try for any pasta-loving kid at heart.

* Sweet Potato Biscuits
I've posted a few Sweet potato biscuits already, but I love this one for its simplicity and flaky, buttery biscuit bliss. These sweet soft biscuits are perfect for pairing with savory veggie bean soup (as I did last week amidst all the rainstorms). Plus, I love that these biscuits are extra large compared to the normal size I make - and a handful of vegan cheese adds bonus flavor. Easy recipe for almost any dinner feast! Bake a batch and feel like a vegan Martha Stewart.

* 25 Back to School Sandwiches
If you can only dream up one or two vegan sandwiches to make for your kids (or your) lunch box, or if pb&j is being played out way to often - here are some recipes to boost your creativity and inspire healthy, happy, vegan lunches! These are 25 of my fave kid-friendly sandwiches for this busy back to school season. And coming soon: back to school two part series! Later this week.

* 350 calorie Banana Split
Last Thursday was National Banana Split Day and Tastespotting held a nice lil party of their page. Dole Bananas asked folks to come up with "healthier" banana splits that had less than 350 calories. I love a challenge - so I whipped up this tall, dreamy, vegan dessert. All under 350 calories with the help of my "banana booster" secret. From creamy scoop to sweet red cherry, every bite is real sundae bliss.

* 5 Uses for "Cheese" Sauce
You've probably noticed how cheesy I've been this past week! Vegan cheesy of course. Cheezy Kale Chips. Mac/Cheez. Cheezy Nachos. Well if you have extra cheese sauce lying around, here are 5 yummy uses for it.

* Pre-teen Girls Dieting Book?
I heard about this diet book last week and was pretty appalled. So I did a post on it. My soapbox for why girls ages 7-12 need anything and everything (love, good food, praise) - everything EXCEPT a diet book..

* Lemon Veggie pasta Salad for the week!
Busy people listen up! This is my fave go-to recipe to make early on in the week. You'll see how it makes life a lot easier. This one recipe can save you all week long!

* And happy first day of the US Open. I love tennis. So I just may celebrate by making these Lemon Lime Tennis Ball Cupcakes again.

And just for fun, my "drink of the summer" (get it while summer is still here!!)
* Watermelon Frosty..this sip goes with any Meatless dinner feast! :)

Previous Meatless Monday Recipe Round-Up's:

* 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.


Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Daiya Sandwiches

I climb into my kitchen, turn the oven to 400 degrees and start roasting some veggies for a perfect pairing that I have been craving all week: Tomato Soup with Grilled "Cheese" - fresh leaves of basil stuffed between the fluffy toasted sandwich bread. My homemade tomato soup has a velvety texture infused with flavors of sweet tomato, sweet onion, rustic Italian spice and plenty of silky, buttery olive oil. Each steamy spoonful leaves me feeling cozy as can be. Even cozier than snuggling on say, a pile of sweaters. (I'll explain.)

..And if you've never made tomato soup from scratch, from fresh tomatoes, it's a must try! This recipe will come in handy on the next cold and rainy night that pops up..

The inspiration..

..and even more sheets of veggies to roast..

August weather in DC is a roller coaster. Friday night I found myself stranded under the Whole Foods awning for a half hour, two heavy bags hanging from my shoulders, while an angry thunderstorm washed over the neighborhood for a good while. Gushing water plunging from the Whole Foods rooftop. Mucky puddles at my flip-flop wearing feet. No umbrella. It was sunny and only a bit blustery when I had left. But clear skies can vanish and appear in a matter of minutes this time of year.

Sunday was a classic crazy weather day as well. The cloudy, faded blue sky quickly closed up into a cluster of puffy grey drifting clouds, soon melting into a hazy darkness of doom just waiting to explode. Then suddenly, it's raining. It's pouring.

I grew up in Cali where the 'storms' rarely get this bipolar, wild and weird, scary and exciting. The cracking thunder and flashes of lightning usually send my kitty darting into the the hall closet, right on top of the cluster of winter sweaters, all snuggly and warm. I wish I had a cozy cove to climb into. A pile of sweaters would be nice right about now. But instead I climb into my kitchen, turn the oven to 400 degrees and start roasting some veggies.

..Today it was tomatoes, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, onions and garlic. But the tomatoes were my muse. I didn't have a plan for the other veggies, but the tomatoes were for my grilled cheese/tomato soup craving.

Nelly rolling in a temperamental August sunbeam..

Those roasted, caramelized onions blended into the soup act as a natural thickener - plus they compliment the bright acidic tomato flavor nicely. I like to add a few as garnish..

Grilled Cheese Pairing. Here are a few recipes that pair nicely with this soup. I made a basic Daiya Pepperjack Panini.

* Pepperjack Basil Panini
* Fire and Ice Panini
* Black and White Panini
* Classic Vegan Grilled Cheese - 101
* Apple Cheese on Cinna-Raisin Bread

Before Roasting:

After roasting:

Easy Roasted Tomato Soup
makes 6 cups

For roasting veggies:
2 lbs vine tomatoes
1 sweet onion, chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt + 1/4 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp dried Italian herb blend
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2-6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Add-in to blending step:
1 Tbsp agave syrup (to taste)
2 Tbsp vegan butter (Earth Balance)
1 tsp garlic paste or 4 cloves roasted garlic (roast cloves with the onions)
a few dashes of cayenne
salt/pepper to taste

To Make:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Add tomatoes to a roasting pan. Remove most stems. You can leave a few on for tomato on stem garnishes as seen in my photos. Also chop and add onions to pan.

3. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, Italian seasoning, fresh thyme sprigs, optional garlic cloves and sea salt to the tomatoes and onions. I like to brush some of the lemon/oil onto the tomatoes to evenly distribute. Add in the fresh thyme. You will remove the thyme stems after roasting. The liquid should form a shallow pool for the veggies to soak in as they roast. You can use more or less olive oil depending on how rich you want your soup - as the excess liquid will be poured into your soup blend.

4. You onions should be caramelized and nicely roasted in about 20 minutes or so. You can remove them and let them rest while the tomatoes roast for another 10-20 minutes - you want them to burst and become slightly shriveled and the edges browned - but not burnt. Remove fresh thyme stems.

5. The last step is to blend the soup. Add the de-stemmed tomatoes, roasted onions and the 2 Tbsp vegan butter to a high speed blender like a Vitamix. Blend on the lowest setting possible for a good 2-3 minutes. Do a few seconds, up to a minute on high speed. Turn off. Do a taste test. You can adjust salt/pepper/oil as you'd like. You can even add in other ingredients like cayenne, fresh basil, other dried spices and more. Note: the high speed setting will not only break up any tomato skin clumps or onion skins, but it will also heat the soup even more. But use with extreme caution as hot liquids can explode in a blender setting.

6. Serve warm - no need to reheat! The soup will be perfectly warm and ready to serve. Or you can place over low heat on the stove (in a soup pot) until ready to be served.

Serve with some warm grilled cheese sandwiches for ultimate coziness. (sandwich recipes above)


Earthquake? Frosty!

Strolling outside, just about to swing by Whole Foods, I felt a familiar sensation. Rumbling. Rolling. Then out of the corner of my eye, streams of screaming people came swimming out of a hair salon - wet hair and all. Building cave in? Giant mouse? Bad highlights? Nope...

The rumbling became stronger. Louder. More permanent. Yup, it's an earthquake. I shrugged my shoulders. Watched the DC folks scramble and gush from local office buildings and felt a tad confused. What's all the fuss. That was nothing! I know, I'm another annoying Californian - but this girl has seen much worse quakes. Actually, I think quakes can be fun. Really annoying right? Let me explain..

I guess when I lived through a 7.1 and saw so much tragedy evolve from quakes and the emotional aftermath, I had to deal with them some way. I decided to just never fear them. There's really nothing I can do about preventing them, so just go with the shakiness and take them for what they are. I pray that no one gets hurt, but for anyone out there who is scared right now, just take a deep breath and breathe. You're OK. And that's good. Don't let fear take over you. Or at least try not to let it.

So dear DC, you hit me with a quake, and I say, it's Watermelon Frosty Time! The earth shakes, I sip...

Oh, and go hug your pets. They feel it worse than us! My kitty darted under the bed. Her fur on end. Shaky and scared. I scooped her up, gave her a hug and she was fine. I of course had rushed home to see if she was OK. Pressed past the people standing outside my building and ran up the stairs to see her.

Once I was settled, I needed something to chill out my nerves. Watermelon frosty please. SO glad I had some frozen watermelon in the freezer.

Classic Watermelon Frosty Recipe

or see today's below..

And don't forget tonight's VegNews Twitter Chat!!

VegNews TwitterChat! Join me and a few of my favorite vegan peeps for the next VegNews TwitterChat! The Topic: Blog to Business

When: Tuesday, August 23 @ 6pm PT/9 pm ET

Special Guests: Susan Voisin (@susanffvk), Carolyn Scott-Hamilton (@HealthyVoyager), Laura Beck (@mrpenguino), Kathy Patalsky (@lunchboxbunch), Allyson Kramer (@ManifestVegan), Ayinde Howell (@AYINDE), and Chloé Jo Davis (@GirlieGirlArmy). (LOVE all these vegans!)

And if you follow me and want to MUTE me during this hour-long chat, you can go to

Shaky Quaky Watermelon Frosty

2 cups frozen watermelon cubes
2 Tbsp maple syrup, grade B
4 limes, squeezed
4 Tbsp water
1/4 tsp cayenne (shaky kick!)
1 extra large ripe banana

Blend in your vitamix. Serve. Chill. Smile.

Hope everyone is safe and sound in the DC area and beyond!!!!!