Monthly Archives: February 2012

NEW…NOT YET IN STORES – So Delicious Almond Milk Products

I teased you on Facebook this morning by showing you a picture of boxes on my doorstep that arrived early this morning from So Delicious.  I promised you a review and have been working on it feverishly all day (If you can call eating….er sampling products “work.”).  Have I mentioned how much I love what I do?  I felt like a kid on Christmas morning when the boxes arrived.

These products haven’t even hit the stores yet, so I truly feel honored that So Delicious asked me to review them.  Are you dying to know what these new products are??? I am sure the suspense is killing you.  So Delicious has come out with a new line of non-dairy almond milk products!

I am one of the most fervent supporters of Turtle Mountain’s So Delicious line.  An outsider might assume that I am on their payroll, but I assure you I am not.  So Delicious has provided my family with so much joy through their wonderful products and I will forever be grateful to them for that.  I am also very appreciative of the fact that they are committed to providing products that are 100% plant based with no artificial sweeteners, trans-fats or hydrogenated oils.

NEW PRODUCT REVIEWS

I have been an almond milk drinker for years and have liked what I bought well enough, but I have had complaints.  I usually purchase lowfat unsweetened vanilla almond milk and it tends to be watery and lacking body (akin to fat free milk).  The new So Delicious line of almond milk is LOWER in fat, HIGHER in protein (5 times more!!!), LOWER in sodium, and LOWER in sugar that my usual brand, AND has body.  How do they do that?  I swear they have magicians working in the R & D department.

I tried both the Vanilla and the Original and was impressed by both.  I am definitely switching to this brand of almond milk once I finish the boxes of my old brand that line my pantry.  I am excited to try the Unsweetened variety for savory cooking applications.

The Almond Novelties I tried were awesome.  While I really liked both, I ended-up doing more than “sampling” the Chocolate Covered Vanilla Mini (I demolished the entire bar).  I appreciate the fact that they make these desserts minis…otherwise I would probably end-up being maxi.

All kidding aside, the bars are very reasonable dessert choices in that they range from 90-150 calories each.  The ice cream sandwiches (which I didn’t try) have only 2.5 grams of fat a piece.  Not bad at all!

And then there was ice cream…

I will be the first to admit that almond milk ice creams are not usually my favorite because they tend to be a bit on the icy side and not at all creamy.  Not so with these.  I am not sure how they did it (that’s why they make the big bucks), but they managed to make creamy almond milk ice cream.  I am usually a chocolate (with peanut butter OR mint) kinda gal, but I couldn’t get enough of their Butter Pecan almond milk ice cream.

I tasted buttered pecans and brown sugar on every spoonful.  At 160 calories and 7 grams of sugar per serving I am amazed that they were able to pack so much flavor into each bite.  Divine.  I was also pleasantly surprised by the Cherry Amaretto flavor which was so fresh tasting and loaded with cherries.  The Chocolate was über creamy and the Mocha Almond Fudge had just the right amount of coffee flavor and was very generous with almond chunks,  though I wish it was more generous with the fudge (but like I said, I am a chocolate kinda gal).

Onto the real test of almond milk ice cream…vanilla.  Their Vanilla was so light, delicate, and decadently creamy which is a huge feat for almond milk ice cream.  All others that I have tried have failed in the vanilla department in my opinion since the taste of almond and iciness is usually so present.  With So Delicious’s Vanilla all I tasted was a beautiful creamy vanilla.  I am blown away.  So Delicious has a few additional flavors which I did not sample, but I am sure will impress as well; Cookies N’ Cream Mint Chip.

What surprised me most about the products is that even after eating copious amounts of them (I did it all for you) I never experienced the sugar crash or craze that I usually do.  What gives?  The frozen dessert pints are lower in sugar than other almond milk frozen desserts due to the use of monkfruit as a sweetener (they range from 6-10 grams of sugar per serving).

I am so excited for all of you to try these new products.  The Almond Plus almond milk is already rolling out to stores!  The remaining almond milk based products will be available the Spring 2012 (I believe they will begin hitting shelves in March).

For nutrition information on the new almond milk based products click here.

To request coupons click here.

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13 Comments

Filed under Gluten Free, Product Reviews, Vegan, Vegetarian

Q & A WITH DR. McDOUGALL – Low Cholesterol

When I attended the Healthy Lifestyle Expo back in October, I had the opportunity to ask Dr. McDougall a question.  I thought you might enjoy reading his response.  My friend Sirica taped the response for me with my iPhone, so I have written it word for word.

GRETCHEN – My doctor is really supportive of my vegan diet, however with my latest blood work my cholesterol was 130.  My doctor was telling me that she was concerned that my cholesterol was too low (Audience laughed).  How do you approach your doctor when they want you to raise your cholesterol?  She said she has seen problems with cholesterol that is so low.

Dr. McDougall (Smiling ear to ear) – Well, has she really?!?!?!  I would ask where those problems are because I have been at this for 43 years and I have never seen any.  Certainly sick people, say you have cancer, you don’t eat, your cholesterol goes low, but, the cause and effect is clear there.  

Unfortunately your doctor, although probably well meaning, has no experience or education on the effect of diet and cholesterol and I really know this from her statement.  As I said, I have been at this for 43 years, and now people who get sick, say you get cancer or severe heart failure, you get so sick you don’t eat, and when you don’t eat your blood cholesterol will go down just because you don’t eat, and that is where the association comes from…sick people don’t eat and their cholesterol goes low.

If you eat a healthy diet and your cholesterol goes low, that is a completely different relationship, and that is ALWAYS helpful.  I generally recommend a cholesterol less than 150 mg/dl, but I RARELY put somebody on cholesterol lowering medication if they can’t achieve that by diet alone.  

So, I think that is something you can look at as a big “A” on your report card if you have a cholesterol of 150 or less.  

I wouldn’t change doctors because of this one error in understanding.  This doctor probably has a lot to offer.  I would make a small attempt to educate the doctor, just see if she is interested, if not, ya know.  Use professionals for what they do well.  If you are going to have a baby, you want a doctor who is a good catch (laughs), you want a surgeon who is an artist.  You don’t really care if that person smoked a cigar a 1/2 hour before they walked into the operating room, you want somebody who is an artist.  

It looks like you are not looking for a doctor who will tell you to eat a healthy diet or what that diet is, because you already know that, you don’t need to hear it from a doctor.  You just need them for the services that they will provide and doctors have some really specialized skills that you ought to take advantage of, but the skills of knowing what a human being ought to eat have somehow never gotten into the curriculum.  That just never happened and it just blows me away.

My son is finishing his last year of internal medicine residency and some of you may know I am a professor at Touro University Medical School and the student don’t know, they have no idea and neither do the professors.  The students care, the professors are threatened by the fact that they may not know something as crucial as what a human being eats.  I mean, what a question (he is giggling)?  

Anyway, did I answer your question?

Yep…he did.  It was amazing to be able to ask Dr. McDougall this question and hear his answer.  I had a pretty good idea from reading the literature that I was healthy with a cholesterol of 130, but I wanted to have some more facts and specifics to be able to go off of.  Hearing that the low cholesterol / unhealthy connection was usually a factor of being REALLY sick and not eating made me feel a lot better.

I have so much respect for Dr. McDougall.  I think I first read one of his books when I was in high school, so being able to personally ask him a question was an absolute thrill.

Photo of Dr. McDougall courtesy of Processed People.

4 Comments

Filed under Cholesterol, Education, Events, Heart Health, Vegan, Vegetarian

DOUG LISLE – Q & A

As promised, here is the Q and A that followed Doug Lisle’s Pleasure Trap presentation  (click HERE for my recap of his presentation).  Doug has some great suggestions and insights.

The questions below are written exactly as they were asked.

QUESTION - When everyone around you is eating crap, how do you stay on track?

When you go to drug rehab, everyone supports you and it is acceptable to make the decision to stay away from old friends and bad influences.  The same does not hold true when you are trying to kick your food addictions.  While food addiction is not as potent as drug addiction, it can actually be a harder habit to kick because there is generally very little support and it is not acceptable in our society to distance yourself from people merely because they are bad food influences in your life.

I suggest you tell people you are conducting an experiment.  Tell them that you read a book that makes sense to you, so you are going to give this way of eating a try.  Be humble and tell people that it is probably just a wacky idea and may be wrong (that takes people off their guard), but you want to try it.

QUESTION - If you have eaten a lot of crap in your life, are you more susceptible to being sucked back into eating the crap?

We will never know because we have ALL been exposed.

QUESTION - Since we naturally want to conserve energy, how do we add exercise into the equation?

Some people like to exercise hard (though not most people) and some people like to do social exercise.  For most people, in order to stick with exercise, there has to be an additional benefit from the exercise (i.e social interaction).

QUESTION - How do you get children eating healthier and more plant-based?

I only really care about dairy.  They have plenty of years to see the light later, because they generally won’t end-up with cancer or heart disease until their 20s.

Dairy is a HUGE proponent of auto-immune disease and can make children very sick (He mentioned that some children have a 1 in 16 chance of getting diabetes…THIS is what I found when trying to research that statistic).

They can choose their later life, but we choose this for them and it’s not fair for us to choose the possibility of auto-immune diseases for them.

2 Comments

Filed under Children, Education, Events, General Vegan, Junk Food, Weight Issues

PRODUCT REVIEW – Repurpose Cups

I wished that I could say I never buy disposable cups, but I can’t.  Every year we host a big holiday party and I buy a ginormous amount of hot cups for the coffee / tea / cocoa / hot cider station that we set-up.  And then for the rest of the year I use those cups when cruising about town to kid activities and mommy activities.  I do try to keep the use of those cups to the times when I will be out of the house, but I have always wished for a better option (other than the reuseable hot drink mug I know I should be using).

I seriously had no idea that there was a better option out there until I was contacted by Repurpose.  Repurpose really does have the coolest green coffee cup around and I was excited to find out that they are carried at Bed, Bath and Beyond (I need to get out more).  They also carry cold cups and different variations of both hot and cold cups.

You have to appreciate their motto…Reuse First, Repurpose Second.  A little bit of background:

“Repurpose was founded in 2009 by a group of young environmental entrepenuers, looking for quality solutions to the problem of single use petroleum based plastic products. After searching and finding few quality and cost competitive compostable solutions, they decided to manufacture their own. Repurpose was born with its mission to replace all single use disposable plastics with high quality, innovative, plant based alternatives. Repurpose makes products from plants, not petroleum, using Ingeo resin and meet ASTM 6400 compostability standards.”

Repurpose is also holding a photo contest on their Facebook page and the winner will receive an iPad 2!  They are looking for entries consisting of everyday objects that have been “repurposed” into new and creative uses… inventive ways to repurpose what might otherwise be considered disposable.  Lovely idea.

Click HERE for more product details.

Click HERE for FAQ.

3 Comments

Filed under Product Reviews

MY CEDARLANE SOLUTION

I recently took over the position of Editor at Chic Vegan (I am super stoked about it!!!) which means I am in the middle of experiencing a steep learning curve (translation – I don’t have a lot of extra time).  There have been more than a few days when I have looked-up from my computer screen just in time to go get my daughter, help her with her homework which we finish just in time for my son to come home from school and then before you know it it is time for gymnastics and Jiu Jitsu.  Where does the time go???

The other day a I was making a MAD-DASH through Costco (I know other mamas out there can get through Costco in 15 minutes flat too, right?  Not my preferred method, but necessary at times.) to pick-up a few essentials like organic pre-cooked edemame, seaweed salad, and some organic produce when something caught my eye.  In the refrigerated section I noticed that they had some Cedarlane Vegetable Barley Soup…SCORE!!!  I looked at the back of the package and although it didn’t say vegan on the packaging it did say DAIRY-FREE and upon further examination I couldn’t see any non-vegan ingredients.  One word to the wise is that this is NOT a gluten-free soup.  Barley is a gluten-containing grain.  Fortunately my daughter does not have an allergy to barley.  That being said, I still do not give it to her very often.

My easy meal solution was to warm the soup and adjust the final soup for each person.  For the boys in the family I added some Gardein chicken that I first chopped-up and browned.  I ate the soup straight-up, but there is a very slight spicyness to the soup, so I poured some into a bowl for my daughter, added a little filtered water and a squeeze of ketchup to tame the spice.  This was such an easy and quick meal!  Costco to the rescue again.

5 Comments

Filed under Main Dish, Product Reviews, Quick, Recipes, Soup, Vegan, Vegetarian

MUSHROOM STROGANOFF

One of my favorite dinners as a child was Beef Stroganoff (I hadn’t seen the light yet).  My mom would lug out the electric skillet and make a huge batch of it for dinner.

Things have changed a bit in my dietary life since then, but the memory of stroganoff and how much I liked it still lingers.  The egg noodles have been replaced with gluten-free Quinoa shells, the beef has been replaced by mushrooms, and the sour cream is now vegan.

The end result…bliss.  My family lapped-up this dinner.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup diced onion
12 ounces mushrooms (1/2 finely diced, 1/2 sliced)
1 Tbs. Earth Balance soy-free spread
1 box Quinoa shell pasta
2 Tbs. cornstarch + 2 Tbs water (make a slurry)
1 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
1 cup So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk
3/4 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
1/3 cup So Delicious original creamer
2/3 cup Sour Supreme
Chopped cilantro and / or parsley for serving
 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

After cleaning the mushrooms, place half of them in the food processor and process until finely diced.  Slice the remaining half of the mushrooms.

Sauté the onions, mushrooms, and Earth Balance until the onions are translucent.

While sautéing the onion and mushroom mixture, boil the shells until they are very al dente.  You do not want to cook the pasta too much or it will become soggy when you bake it.   When the pasta is ready, drain it and pour it into a casserole dish.

Once the onions are translucent add the broth, So Delicious coconut milk, and wine (optional) to the onion and mushroom mixture.    bring the mixture up to a low boil and add the cornstarch slurry along with the salt and pepper.  Allow the mixture to thicken.  When the sauce has thickened, take it off of the heat and mix in the creamer and Soup Supreme.

Pour the finished sauce over the noodles, mix to incorporate, and bake covered for 30-45 minutes until the noodles are soft and have absorbed a good amount of the sauce.

Serve topped with chopped parsley and / or cilantro.

For a printable version of this recipe click here.

22 Comments

Filed under Gluten Free, Main Dish, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

ASK GRETTIE – High Speed Blender vs. Juicer

I thought I would share with you one of my Chic Vegan “Ask Grettie” columns…

So, after catching my second sore throat/cold/whatever in a month I am starting to think that I need to add something to my diet and am ready to take the plunge and start juicing.  I did a bit of research and found two options, a juicer or a Vitamix.  A friend of mine really is pushing the Vitamix for two reasons:  you keep the fiber and you can add things that you can’t really juice like kale, etc. and get more out of it.  Thoughts?

Thanks,
Alison

Hi Alison,

I am so sorry to hear that you have been sick so much, but I applaud you for wanting to take steps to strengthen your immune system through nutrition.

I see tremendous value in both juicers and high speed blenders.  Both products serve different needs, though both are great tools for you to use to boost your immune system.

It is true that with a Vitamix you retain the fiber and that is very beneficial for the digestive tract.  I use my Vitamix every single day of the week to make green smoothies.  A high speed blender makes it so easy to add veggies to a smoothie while pulverizing them into a smooth drink.  My Vitamix is one of my favorite kitchen gadgets.  It does need to be said that a high speed blender can be used to make juice, albeit with a bit more work.  To make juice with a high speed blender, you would essentially make a smoothie and then strain it through a nut milk bag.  A Vitamix is very diverse and can be used to make everything from soups to dressings and raw desserts (ice cream, cheesecake, etc.).

Juicing is a wonderful way to support the immune system since juicers strip the fiber from the plant resulting in a tall glass of nutrients.  Since there is no fiber in the juice, the nutrients are immediately available and do not require much digestion.

With regards to kale and juicing, I add kale to my juicer all the time!  Juicers usually have at least two speeds and one of them is optimum for juicing kale and other leafy greens (Read the insert that comes with your juicer for specific instructions).  When I make a kale salad I strip the kale from the stem and keep the kale stems in the fridge to use in my juice the next day.  I also keep the broccoli hearts to do the same (if I am too lazy to peel them and use them in my cooking).

It is a tough decision whether to go with a high speed blender or a juicer, but I do see real value in both.  Since your immediate goal is to strengthen your immune system, I would suggest that the juicer is the way to go initially because of the maximum nutrient load you will get from veggie juice.  Juicers are also available within a wide price range.  Costco usually carries a decent juicer at a very reasonable price.  High speed blenders tend to be on the expensive side, but also available at Costco on occasion.  Either way you won’t go wrong.

Here’s to health!

Gretchen

5 Comments

Filed under Alkaline, Chic Vegan Column, Detox, Education, Immune System, Vegan, Vegetarian

GO GREEN LUNCH BOX WINNER

Ashley is the winner of our Go Green Lunch Box Giveaway for the comment she made on January 31, 2012 at 8:58pm.

Congratulations!

Ashley, please e-mail me at gretchen (at) veggiegrettie (dot) com with your address and Go Green Lunch Box Design choice.  To browse the designs, click HERE.

Happy Monday everyone!

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Filed under Uncategorized

VEGAN HOLIDAY KITCHEN – Giveaway

Over the holidays I was gifted a copy of Nava Atlas’s Vegan Holiday Kitchen by my parents and I absolutely love it.  I was recently offered a copy of the book to review and when I mentioned that I already owned it we agreed that it would be wonderful to give a copy to one lucky Veggie Grettie reader.

Nava Atlas is the author and illustrator of many books on vegan and vegetarian cooking, most recently Vegan Holiday Kitchen, Vegan Express, Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons, The Vegetarian Family Cookbookand The Vegetarian 5-Ingredient GourmetA book on leafy greens, Wild About Greenswill be published in June 2012.

I have been given permission to share three of the recipes from Vegan Holiday Kitchen with you…the hardest part was choosing which ones to share!

CORN FRITTERS WITH CILANTRO SAUCE

Click HERE for the printable recipe

HEARTY LENTIL AND MUSHROOM SHEPHERD’S PIE

Click HERE for the printable recipe

CRANBERRY-CARROT CAKE

Click HERE for the printable recipe

 *** WE HAVE A WINNER ***

ASHLEY won the giveaway with the following comment-

I would really appreciate this book because I have recently been diagnosed with Lupus and as a part of keeping myself healthy (as well as my family) I have changed to a vegetarian/vegan diet as it helps keep my symptoms better controlled.
Thanks!!

All recipes and images reprinted with permission from Vegan Holiday Kitchen © 2011 by Nava Atlas, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.  Photographs by Susan Voisin

132 Comments

Filed under Appetizers, Cake, Dessert, Dip, Giveaways, Holiday, Main Dish, Recipes, Sauce / Spread / Jam / Yogurt, Vegan, Vegetarian

MOLTEN LAVA CAKE – Vegan & GF

On the way to a great recipe, there are often a lot of disasters.  I don’t usually highlight my recipe failures, however I decided to share my Vegan Molten Lava Cake recipe creation process with you.  A lot of work goes into coming-up with one of my new recipes.  It is rare that a recipe comes together on the first try, but it does happen from time to time; My PB Chocolate Chip Dessert Hummus was one of the rare exceptions in that I really liked the results of my first recipe version.

I sometimes feel like I am in a chemistry lab when I attempt to bake vegan and gluten-free.  Gluten-free flours work so differently than standard wheat flour and when you throw in the monkey-wrench of not using eggs, everything changes yet again.

The photo collage above tells the story of my first and second recipe attempts.  Version one used flax eggs and almond flour as the base.  I thought I would try to see if I could make this molten lava cake in the microwave and… let’s just say I got the “lava” part spot-on.  I had some more batter left, so I tried baking  it in the oven and it completely puffed-up only to deflate all the way back to the bottom of the ramekin.  So, for version two I switched to using baking soda and vinegar eggs (I got the tip from Chef Chloe’s website) and added some more blanched almond flour.  It looked so promising while baking, like a beautiful soufflé, and then TOTALLY deflated when I took it out of the oven.

When I am in the middle of the recipe writing process I get a bit obsessive and tend to think about it constantly.  After stewing about this for yet another day it came to me; everything started to make sense.  I needed to take out some of the blanched almond flour, add in some gluten-free flour mix, a little xanthan gum, and some baking powder.  Voilà, vegan and gluten-free Molten Lava Cake.

That being said, isn’t it so true that those missteps make the successes all that more sweet?  I set-out to create a molten lava cake that was vegan and gluten-free while also being easy on the waistline.   I am really proud of this recipe.

My honey LOVES molten lava cake and now I have a much healthier version to serve to him.  Some people buy their men electronics or cologne for Valentines, I made mine a cake.

 INGREDIENTS
Serves 2
 
Wet
1/4 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips
3 Tbs. So Delicious original creamer
2 Tbs. applesauce
1 tsp instant decaf coffee crystals
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla
 
Dry
2 Tbs. blanched almond flour
2 1/2 Tbs Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flour mix
1 Tbs. cocoa
3 stevia packets
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp. xanthan gum
Pinch salt
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (I used a toaster oven).

Whisk together all of the dry ingredients.

Melt the chocolate chips over a double boiler or in the microwave.  If melting in the microwave, do it in 30 second intervals and stir in between (this will prevent the chocolate from burning).  It usually takes about 90 seconds to melt the chips completely.

Once the chocolate is melted, whisk it together with the rest of the wet ingredients.  The coffee crystals are included in the wet ingredients so you can make sure they melt into the mixture properly and are completely disbursed.

Whisk the wet and dry ingredients together.  The batter will be very thick like brownie batter.

Lightly oil and flour a small (approx. 4 1/4 inch) springform pan.  When flouring the pan use a mixture of flour and cocoa in order to preserve the gorgeous brown color of the cake.  I used a heart springform pan by Wilton that I found at Homegoods.  I also saw that the pans are available at Target (Click HERE to see them on Target online).

Pour the batter into the pan making sure to only fill the pan 2-3 full.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  The top and edges of the cake should be set while the middle will be slightly loose.  After the cake has baked for 10-12 minutes,  remove it from the oven and allow it to cool on the counter for 5 minutes.

Serve the cake immediately after it has cooled for 5 minutes.  This cake is best HOT from the oven and would be awesome with some Vanilla So Delicious coconut milk ice cream and strawberries.

For a printable version of this recipe click here.

31 Comments

Filed under Cake, Dessert, Gluten Free, Holidays, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian