Saturday, December 29, 2012

Interview with Happy Herbivore Lindsay Nixon and Cookbook Giveaway

I had the opportunity several years ago to meet up with Lindsay at the Uptown Juice Bar in Harlem, NY and we got to spend a few hours talking and hanging out with some friends for a few hours.  It was a pleasure getting to know her on a personal level and I had always hoped to meet up with her on one of my charter flights to Ste. Maarten where she was living.  She currently lives in the states but for a charter pilot on the road, making plans is always a moving target, so perhaps it will be another time and another place.

Lindsay Nixon, The Happy Herbivore

I follow Lindsay's fat free/low fat vegan food blog and I had the opportunity to interview Lindsay, (via email), as part of the 31 Day promotion

for her new cookbook, Happy Herbivore Abroad.  Of course I asked Lindsay about a topic near and dear to me, namely, being on the road as a vegan.  I was also invited to do a giveaway of the new cookbook.  You can start entering as of today, 12/30/2012 and the drawing will be on 1/15/12.  (So before I forget, Happy New Year!!)

I enjoyed Lindsay's other cookbook, "The Happy Herbivore," in all aspects except that my old eyes had trouble with the small type.  That problem is unequivocally and thankfully solved in "Abroad"!  I also downloaded the ebook version and although I hate to have electronics in the kitchen, it did solve the problem.

I have so far made 2 recipes from the "Abroad" cookbook and both turned out very well.  Although I live in Manhattan and can easily hop on a train to Little India where I can find some of the most expansive spice stores in the world, and live, literally equidistant between two Whole Food Markets, there is nothing that you can't find in your local supermarket's spice or produce section in this books ingredient list.

The recipes are basic, simple, require no advanced technique or equipment other than a blender or food processor.

The Aloo Gobi used ketchup which I think came out a bit more in the finished flavor profile than I would have liked but I'll play around with tomato puree and sauce to change that up a bit.  (I'm a ketchup addict and pretty much see food as ketchup delivery systems, just so you know).  The recipe turned out a dish that was also a bit wetter than my previous attempts yet was no worse for it.  It did have a nice gentle Indian flavor profile.

Lentil Loaf

Lentil Loaf
 The Lentil Loaf was also a straight forward and easy recipe and the results were a perfectly textured and hearty flavored loaf.  (I cheated and topped it with some pre made vegan mushroom gravy ... I know, I know, I almost just wanted to try the gravy more than I just didn't want to cook up some mushroom gravy.  It was a Shitake Mushroom Gravy from Road's End Organics and was totally acceptable as pre made gravies go.  Just add water.)

Aloo Gobi

I love the fact that "Abroad" is an easy cookbook.  Sometimes you want to put together a recipe with 20 ingredients and sometimes you just want good tasty food, easily made, for your every day meal.  It's also a very nice smattering of recipes from all over the globe, so if you're looking for a particular culinary style, you'll in all likelihood find it here.

Although I did, (in the interest of full disclosure), get my copy as a review copy I can recommend this cookbook wholeheartedly.

Here is the interview and the contest information is at the end of the post.  Enjoy and good luck!!

1)  What was the best vegan meal you "stumbled" into?

I can't think of a favorite -- there have been so many wonderful meals, but I recently stumbled into a cafe in Ireland. It was a small village -- hours from the bigger cities. I didn't know if I'd find anything to eat but the chef was more than happy to create a special vegan meal just for me (and my husband). It was exceptional.

2)  Do you maintain your dietary "restrictions" regarding ingredients when you eat out?  How?

Always. I've never had trouble finding plant-based (vegan) fare traveling. It's not always the most convenient, but what's a little effort for great health?

3)  I've had this issue even in the US when servers' first language isn't English:  How do you handle a situation when you aren't sure what you're asking for isn't being understood completely?  (I've found the Veggie Passport app indispensable).

I speak a few languages, which helps, but I always have a phrase book with me with terms for food and ingredients, plus how to explain my dietary needs in their native language. I've never really had a problem. Even telling people "no oil" hasn't been much of an issue.

4)  If you're leaving on an extended trip, (I go out on the road for 15 days at a time), what few things are definitely in your cooler bag?  I am a coffee junkie, (well, for my first cup in the AM anyway), and my daily treat(s) is to have some vegan coffee creamer.  I usually take a container with me, (as a crewmember I can bring slightly more than the 2 point whatever ounces of liquid through security), along with some vegan protein bars in case I end up working a 14 hour day with no chance to go and find a meal.

I don't have a cooler bag. LOL. I take McDougall soups and oatmeals with me -- just add hot water. I like to have them in case I don't have time to stop and look for a meal. Eating in restaurants also gets tiring on me. so it's nice to have those options. I can't eat those vegan meal replacement bars -- they upset my stomach.

5)  What is the worst travel experience you've had regarding meals on the road?

Someone told me that the bean burrito at taco bell was vegan, if you leave off the cheese. My husband and I were in a very rural area, but they had a taco bell, so we decided to try it. WORST CHOICE EVER. I was so sick -- terrible stomach pains. Even if it was vegan, it's not real food. My poor stomach didn't know what to do with it. A reminder to stay off fast food!

Thanks Lindsay, and good luck with the book tour!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Oasis in Sarasota provides for vegan options abundanzza

Florida is nothing short of a vegan wasteland.  There are a few outstanding oasises but for the most part there are cities with no vegan options short of a juice bar or coffee house.  Sarasota is one of them.  I don't actually know how things like this escape me as I've been here more than a few times but through Happy Cow, up pops another place with a full vegan menu.  I am continually blown away by how those of us who are looking for these options seem to have to look far far under the radar.

Vertoris Pizza is just such a place.

It's also really weird since I just looked at HC again for the correct name and nothing came up under Sarasota.
Well, Happy Cow did say there were a few items on the menu and requested a review to see if they should keep this listing.  They most definitely should.  The restaurant comes up under Bradenton.

A mom and pop pizzeria with about 9 tables and a most amazing buzz.  3 TVs played sports channels and the kitchen was grinding out food.  About 30% of the diners are ordering off the gluten free or vegan menu.  I hate when places lump these two dietary choices together as only 1 is really a dietary choice, veganism being a lifestyle and philosophy and belief system.  And there really ARE two different menus.

I went a little (ha) off the gluten free diet I've been following the last few days and ordered the garlic breadsticks with dayia and marinara.  I loved them even though the garlic wasn't pervasive and the marinara was more like a chunky tomato.  Why is this important?  It really isn't but it's hard to scoop up the sauce if the chunks keep falling off the bread.  A milled sauce might have been more appropriate but the crust, (and why didn't I ask for a gluten free crust??), was outstanding.  And what is truly bad with Daiya?  So this dish is a hit.

Garlic breadsticks are really a whole pie with garlic and Daiya.

Potato skins are something I haven't had in years because aside from the potato I won't have the cheese, bacon or sour cream.  Which leaves a potato with skin and why should I waste calories on deep frying it?  These were deep fried.  I think.  But maybe not since the skins weren't really crispy.  I'm thinking now, do I really know how potato skins are SUPPOSED to be prepared?  I always thought baked to a well done state.  There was a meld of textures and there also was a tad of oil in the bottom of each skin, a bit more grease than I'd have preferred, but when you melt Daiya, (there's that layer of miracle again), on anything it ratchets up the vegan desirability a notch or three and when you add the chunky marinara and then put a dollop of vegan sour cream on top it just comes together in a decadent combination of crunch, smooth, and shmoosh.  Another hit.

What can I say about a salad except the wine balsamic dressing was really nice and the greens crisp and fresh.  What else needs to be said about a salad?

My entree got a little confusing as I was matching something off the vegan menu and something else that was labeled Dairy Free off of the gluten free menu.  (I should have checked before and I advise you to also say that you want your gluten free dish to be vegan as egg is gluten and dairy free in some circles.  I later had that thought, did check, and my dish was vegan but still, check).  I wanted the Vegan Eggplant parm but wanted a gluten free breading with daiya and gluten free pasta.  I think I got the eggplant lasagna with gluten free pasta.  At least that's what one of the waiters said I had when he looked half way through the meal.  The eggplant was a tad under cooked, well parts were, but as the dish sat and steamed there were less and less chewy bites and more shmooshy ones.  There was a bit of doughy toothiness to the gluten free pasta but I know my palate isn't accustomed to the different consistency yet.  It had a delicious sauce and daiya and came together very nicely but I missed the crunch of a parm dish.

There were two vegan cupcakes, one a chocolate with peanut butter icing and the other a pumpkin with cream cheese icing.  I liked them both, my vote going to the chocolate, (for obvious reasons), because everyone knows that chocolate kicks any other dessert butt, and the other vote going to the pumpkin.  They were small enough to eat a few more but in the interest of self restraint I kept it to half of each for each of us.

This is by far a go to place not because the it's the ONLY place but because it's a place to find and extensive menu, they are trying to cover different diets, they seem to know what they're talking about, and although this might be a minus to some, there are others with dining companions who are still eating animals and both can find what they're looking for here.  It does mean you might be looking at things that repulse you but I just sigh, hope in the great scheme of things that the animal on the plate next to me is in a better place, that the omnivore next to me is exposed to a different impression of vegan food.  (The pilot I was with was open to trying everything although Daiya didn't bowl him over and convert him on the spot to a tapioca seeking refugee from the dairy side of the street).

We both got what we wanted, the food was good solid Italian hearty comfort food and I'll definitely be seeing the inside of this place again.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Trader Joe's Announces Nearly 5,000-Pound Recall Of 'Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice' Over Listeria Risk

I'm going to say it again, and I'm going to keep on saying it. Go Vegan and minimize your risk of getting these food borne illnesses. It won't totally eliminate it because there's always the risk of someone spraying cow poop on your spinach, but you won't likely get it from the source. In addition to health, environmental and compassion or course.

Hey, give it a try for 3 weeks of your life and decide for yourself how you feel:
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Monday, December 3, 2012

Climate Change Study Indicates Amount Of Heat-Trapping Pollution Rose By 3 Percent Worldwide Last Year

"Livestock's Long Shadow" is a report by the UN. It points out the exorbitant amount of greenhouse gas produced by animals raised for food. It takes carbon 100 years to leave the atmosphere but methane, (an even more potent greenhouse gas), dissapates in only several months. The conclusion is that the most immediate and dramatic thing we can, "throw at the problem" is shifting to a 100% plant based diet. Lightbulbs and Prius cars really pale besides dietary change in effectiveness. They are red herrings.

Not to mention the health aspect of a 100% plant based diet. Not to mention the drastic reduction in water use to produce plants to eat as opposed to plants to feed to animals to eat.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost