Tuesday, July 29, 2014

New Vegan Burger Bests the Rest

I have just tried the new hand-formed Field Roast burgers. They are ridiculously good, by far the best store-bought, plant-based burger I have ever had. You have to try these. I got mine at the Whole Foods in the Domain.  What makes them so good is the fatty quality to them. They are not Goodseed Burgers, which are awesome, but are super healthy, too. The Field Roast burger has 24 grams of total fat per burger or 37 percent RDA versus 10 grams and 15 percent RDA for the Goodseed Burger. Yup, it's the fat that makes it so good. That and the amazing flavor of all Field Roast products.

Want Vegan Honey? Mesquite Beans Have the Answer

I just made a wild personal discovery. Mesquite bean jelly tastes like a mild honey. I've bought Bee Free Honee, and while good, it tastes nothing like honey. It is made out of apples. I have no idea where I got this mesquite bean jelly (I've had it for a while), but it is awesome and a Texas product. Plants win again.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

You Don't Need a Birthday Party to Order Vegan Cupcakes, But It Helps

Vegan, Celeste's Best, Cupcakes, Austin

One of the best things about hosting a child's birthday party: an excuse to order gourmet vegan cupcakes from Celeste's Best. We got three kinds: chocolate with chocolate frosting, orange with vanilla frosting, and raspberry swirl with lemon frosting. They were amazing and oh so delicious.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Not Holding Back with This Vegan Birthday Cake

Vegan, Cake, Austin

OK, this cake I baked for my son's fourth birthday may not look so great. I guess I didn't blend the powdered sugar in well enough and probably did not add enough of it to make it as thick as it should have been for the outer chocolate icing. That said, however, I think I'm breaking some decadence laws with this one. I used the devil's food cupcake recipe from Betty's Gone Vegan, Isa's coconut icing recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance as the middle filling, and a slightly modified chocolate icing recipe from Joy of Vegan Baking (I added coconut milk to tie in the flavors). I did not hold back on sugar or fat, but I used mostly whole wheat pastry flour with about a 1/3 cup of oatmeal flour. I also used a little apple sauce and apple cider vinegar, in addition to a liberal amount of baking soda. It did come out fluffy but also really rich. That is OK. It is not normally how we would prepare something, but since this was a birthday celebration, I thought I'd have a little fun. He definitely burned off any calories he consumed on his new bike. Total amount of Earth Balance used: 1 1/2 cups.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Real Men Eat Plants, but Reporter Sticks to the Meat

There was a great story on NPR this afternoon about vegans and masculinity. There was just one small detail that rubbed me wrong. When is it OK for a news reporter to make announcements about him or herself while reporting on a topic? In this case, maybe to prove her credibility, Neda Ulaby needed to clarify that she eats meat. If she were reporting on serial killers, would she state she abstained from murdering people? If she reported on the World Cup, would she make a point that she prefers American football? This is not only inappropriate, but it is irrelevant, as well.

Taking the Plant Out of the Plant-Based Diet

I can't tell you how concerned this Washington Post story makes me. First it was Gardein and Beyond Meat engineering plant proteins (by a process of heating and cooling) to resemble animal proteins, then we hear of a project to do this with cheese, and now ta-da, we will have engineered plant-based cow's milk (Muufri, sounds like Moo-free). Yes, this saves animals; that is great. But I am deeply concerned that all of this bioengineering will take away the benefits of a plant-based diet. If you eat these products made out of plants that have been refashioned into analogs of the animal versions, I am willing to bet that you will take away any and all health effects. Will the plant version of casein (milk protein) have the same effect on growing cancer as the real version of casein? I don't know, but if it molecularly resembles the original, there is a strong chance it will have the same results in the body. A plant-based diet once offered hope, but that is starting to change. If a food is bioengineered to be like something else, the question stands whether it will have the same effect in the human body. I am speculating that, yes, it will. To me, these advances are similar to the more rudimentary form of bioengineering in which vegetable oil is hydrogenated. This process was supposed to make a healthier version of butter, but the reality is that it didn't. It created transfats, which are not exactly the same as saturated fats, but they have the same effect in the human body. All of the vegans who buy into these vegan analogs of the real deal will become human experiments, and we will find out after years and years of nutritional studies what happens in the human body as a result of this. What we are doing amounts to taking the plant out of the plant-based diet. Part of what concerns me if you look at the ingredients of a product like Gardein, they look great, but the label does not tell you the science behind how it is made. This takes processing foods to the next, heart-clogging, cancer-growing level. My hope is that scientists researching the health effects of a plant-based diet will quickly start studying this issue. In the future, we may have to differentiate between different kinds of plant-based diets.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Our Food Choices Matter

What we eat does mater, not just to the animals who are threatened by what we consume but also to the people who pick the food for us. Here is a nice Tedx talk about this by the founder of Austin's Action for Animals, Lauren Ornelas. She started Action for Animals in 1992 when she was a student at St. Edward's University. I wish there were more people like Lauren out there.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Review: Pulse Vegan

I finally got a chance to try out Pulse Vegan. It is really exciting to have a new vegan trailer in Austin. I really dig sandwiches, so this is up my alley. I got to try the Frenchy, the Philly, the Mac, the Savory Greens, the Dill Fries, and (not pictured) the Barbecue Black-Eye Peas. I did not try the Buff Boy barbecue sandwich this time. I was a bit surprised at my reactions to the dishes. I was super excited about the Frenchy beforehand, but while it is OK, I did not think it was great. There was a strange flavoring in the dipping sauce. Maybe allspice? The sandwich by itself was good, but it did not scream bold flavors. It had seitan, onions, and vegan cream cheese inside a baguette. I think that it needs something a little more flavorful added to it. The Philly, which I did not expect to care for, really surprised me in a pleasant way. It had seitan, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, vegan cheese, mustard, and Cajun mayo inside the sandwich. It was quite tasty and full of flavor. The Dill Fries and Savory Greens were both quite delicious. The Mac, which my children surprisingly rejected, tasted a bit like cornbread stuffing. I would not get that again. The Barbecue Black-Eye Peas were a bit too strongly flavored of smoke for my taste, but my wife and daughter really dug the taste. I can't wait to go back and try the Buff Boy and see what other things they create. Welcome to Austin.

Austin, Vegan, Pulse Vegan

Austin, Vegan, Pulse Vegan, Philly

Austin, Vegan, Pulse Vegan, Mac and Cheese, Dill Fries, Savory Greens

Austin, Vegan, Pulse Vegan, Frenchy

Sunday, July 13, 2014

World Cup Soccer Ball

Here is a little known World Cup fact for those of you who took the time to watch some of the games this year: The ball, designed by Adidas, is made of polyurethane rather than leather. I can't say whether it is vegan, but at least it is more animal friendly than balls of many other professional sports. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/worldcup2014/article-2641897/The-science-Brazuca-World-Cup-2014-ball-set-surpass-Jabilani.html

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Finally, A Vegan Egg-Style Sandwich to Get Excited About

Years ago, when I was a reporter at the Times Record News (Wichita Falls), coworkers and I would go to the nearby Bar L for drinks and food after a hard day's work. Some coworkers would get that disgusting Red Draw drink invented at the Bar L. It's basically tomato juice and beer. I don't remember what I drank, but I do remember getting egg sandwiches all of the time. They were toasted bread with mayo, scrambled eggs, and tomatoes. It is one of those meals I had before I became a vegan that I have always had fond memories of. Maybe it was the great sandwich or the great company? I don't know. For years, I tried to make a vegan version of that with no success. I always made it with scrambled tofu, and the flavor would not be right, and the sandwich would be impossibly messy. I had pretty much given up on the idea of having that sandwich again, but the other day when I made a plain tofu omelet, it struck me that this was the perfect filling for my "egg" sandwich. The taste was perfect, and it held together really well. Here is a picture of the result, also with fresh garden tomatoes. I have to say that it was a great success! I will be making this again. I imagine it would be perfect with a beer and a friend and stimulating conversation. Here is the link to the recipe I used for the plain omelet without any filling: http://mouthwateringvegan.com/2012/06/17/vegan-cheese-omelette/

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Is It OK for Alicia Silverstone to be an Occasional Vegan?

So, one Facebook, someone posted this story from US Weekly about Alicia Silverstone occasionally slipping up on her "vegan" diet. The question posed was whether it is OK for her not to get eat vegan. I would be the last person to chastise someone for not staying true to a vegan diet, but Alicia Silverstone is not just someone. I agree generally about people trying their best and that no one is perfect. However, Silverstone has projected a certain image and has tried to make money off of that image. Look at her books, Kind Diet and Kind Mama. She is the vegan expert and wants to instruct the masses. In that sense, she is a role model, just as Isa Chandra Moskowitz is. What would we all think if Isa starting eating steak? It was good while it lasted? I suppose when people are supposed to be the experts, they have a higher standard. Would Jillian Michaels lose her status as a weight loss expert if she ended up overweight? If Alicia Silverstone wants her own private journey, then it should be just that. She shouldn't be trying to make money off of it. She is not simply just a case of a celebrity turning or never really having had her heart in it. To her, it's a business. I don't make any money off of being a vegan. My journey is my journey. I would think you would have different expectations of me if I had my own vegan empire. It does not surprise me that a celebrity would slip up, and it wouldn't bother me if that celebrity did not have a vegan business. That said, I do not think we should be using celebrities as role models. People are really let down when these celebrities get bored with their cause and move on to something else. Gwyneth Paltrow comes to mind with her losing all vegan virtues to eat across Spain with Mario Batali. Or how about Natalie Portman when she got pregnant? They send the wrong messages to people.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Vegan Breakfast, the English Way

I made an English-style breakfast with an apple-sage sausage from Field Roast, baked beans (Texas style), maple mushrooms, roasted tomato, and a plain tofu omelet (Its secret ingredient was tahini.). Of course, I'm missing white oatmeal pudding, which can be made vegan, and some tempeh bacon. Maybe next time. Of course, this was quite a feast. Everything was quite delicious. This was the first time I had the sausage from Field Roast. I loved it. Here is the link to the recipe for the omelet, which I made without any filling, but it was still yummy: http://mouthwateringvegan.com/2012/06/17/vegan-cheese-omelette/.