Monthly Archives: January 2014

Welcome to the Year of the Horse!

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Chinese New Year is just around the corner. On Friday January 31st, the world will welcome the Year of the Horse. Here in Baltimore, you can find a few parties happening. But just 30 miles south of us, in D.C., there’s a fabulous parade. Dancing dragons, fireworks. Amazing – worth seeing at least once in your life in some major city – New York and San Francisco also have famous celebrations.

Can’t get to the parade? Welcome the horse at home with this recipe for Slow Cooker Sweet & Sour Tofu. This recipe has a secret – frozen and thawed tofu. For those who have never tried this technique, it’s a good one. We use it all the time. When you freeze and thaw tofu before using it, the block holds its shape better; gains a different, firmer texture and absorbs flavor more as well. Just throw the tofu for this in the freezer when you get home. About four to six hours before you begin this recipe, let the tofu thaw on the counter. Really, it’s like magic. You’re going to want to use frozen and thawed tofu all the time once you try it.

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This recipe is currently on the Sister Eden blog. Just click here and you can find it. And the best thing is – this recipe is REALLY easy. Like most slow cooker recipes, once the veggies are chopped up, all you need to do is toss everything in the slow cooker and walk away.

You can even serve this at a Chinese New Year party next week – it serves six people and is perfect over rice or noodles. It’s gluten-free too, as long as your soy sauce and ketchup are gluten free (check labels!) Want to see this meal again…? Yea, okay. ūüôāChNY_Tofu2_lr

Click on over to Sister Eden’s blog. This tasty meal is waiting to help you welcome in the Year of the Horse!

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Sweeties: Haute & High Class Chocolates

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Is your Valentine really classy? We’re talking uptown, chic, high-end, all her purses come from Susan Nichole type gal or a guy who wears only tailored shirts and has a collection of Etsy cufflinks made from vintage coins. You know who we mean.

Guess what: we’ve got the perfect vegan chocolate for the glam. It’s called Vosages and even as I type the brand name, I feel a little weak in the knees. Vosages is the chocolate of queens and kings, in our opinions. It is exotic, luxurious and absolutely decadent.

And Vosages has a page devoted to vegan chocolates & bars. Yes, there is a truffle collection. It is mouth-watering.

vosages_lrThis brand of chocolate was introduced to us by our friend Emily. She showed up one day with a copy of their catalog. Talk about food porn. The photography is delectable. You may want to eat the pages it’s printed on. No joke. But we didn’t get to try these truffles for several years, till another friend, Brittany, presented them to us as a gift. ¬†And yes, Vosages vegan truffles are ALL THAT.

Chocolate and coconut milk, agave nectar and dried fruit create two varieties of alluring, sensual truffles:

Coconut Vegan Truffle  100% dark chocolate ganache blended with organic agave nectar and organic coconut milk and rolled in organic coconut flakes

Açaí Vegan Truffle 100% cacao dark chocolate ganache blended with organic agave nectar, Brazilian açaí and organic coconut milk and rolled in pomegranate powder

There are six of each. And no matter how much you love your Valentine… the reality is that you may eat all these before he or she can even open the box. ¬†Twelve truffle collection is $25.00 and available online from Vosages. Vegan bars are available online and at Whole Foods.

Oh – we got so wrapped up in the chocolates, we forgot to mention that Vosages is a green company, through and through! This woman-owned company is based in Chicago.Their eco-initiatives can be seen in their ingredient sourcing, energy use, packaging and employee facilities. Really, it’s just one more reason to love Vosages.

Share the love with Vosages elegant confections. And stay classy – very classy, in this case!

Touchdown! Buffalo-Beyond Meat Pinwheels

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It’s true, we’ve got the hook-up on Beyond Meat. And we intend to make good use of it. We’re starting the year off right, with some Buffalo Beyond Meat Pinwheels.

These little treats are ideal finger-food for watching football (or basketball… or hockey…) and are simple to make.¬† If you have kids, this is a super recipe for them to help with, too, as working with the Crescent dough and making hand rolls is really fun. Considering the entire thing is complete in about 20 minutes, it’s also good for those who want to eat, like, now.

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If you’re ready to make this recipe, hop on over to the Sister Eden blog, where this is guest-posted as part of her Superbowl Party line-up.

And no matter where you are reading from, this ingredient list is doable. Cuz even Pillsbury makes vegan Crescent roll dough! Check it on Sister Eden.

Sweeties: Easy Vegan Love

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It’s not every day you walk into a store like Target and see a display of non-GMO, vegan, made-in-the-USA chocolates, all wrapped up in a cute Valentine’s Day box. But we did. Here in Maryland, Target is carrying a selection of Valentine’s Day candy from Seattle Chocolates. What a treat! This is easy vegan love, folks.

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More good news – Seattle Chocolates are kosher, gluten-free and sourced responsibly. In 2014, they began using only Rainforest Alliance cocoa. By 2015, their entire line will be certified and bear the Rainforest Alliance seal. A worthy goal.

And what about the candy itself? The individually wrapped Dark Chocolate Truffles with Cocoa Nibs are hand-packed. The candies are rectangular and firm – the centers aren’t gooey. Instead, it’s dense, heavy chocolate flavor. The ingredients list is simple and short. This is a chocolate-lover’s truffle – not for someone who like sugary-fake chocolates. We loved them. The truffles melt in your mouth into a mess of chocolate-y heaven. It’s almost a buttery sensation. Yum.!

If your Target doesn’t have Seattle Chocolates, you can shop online or try their handy state-by-state locator for a dealer near you. This is sure to delight your sweetie. Show him or her how easy it can be to share vegan love!

Cluckin

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That’s right. We’re cluckin. With happiness! Cuz the Dirty Hippie won a FREE YEAR of BEYOND MEAT! A few months ago, we posted a recipe and review of Beyond Meat (South West Casserole), and while we were writing it, we spotted a Twitter contest giving away the goods. He entered it and moved on. We enter contests all the time, and it’s not often that we win, ya know?

Imagine his surprise when a rep from Beyond Meat made contact to say he had WON? Yep, that’s the East Coast rep, Brian, on the right and DH on the left. The prize included coupons for 52 free boxes of Beyond Meat, a tee shirt and other little goodies.

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So now we’re looking at a year’s worth of Beyond Meat meals – sandwiches, wraps, casseroles, sautes – basically anyplace you would use chicken, you can substitute Beyond Meat. We look forward to updating some old family recipes using this great vegan, gluten-free ingredient.

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And we plan to post one each month. That way you, dear friends, can also experience a year of Beyond Meat with us! Stay tuned for more original recipes featuring our prize!!

Thanks Brian and everyone at Beyond Meat – we’re so excited about this win! In the words of A Christmas Story: It’s a major award!!

2014 Vegan Living Program

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Thinking about going vegan? Or are you already vegan and willing to share your experiences? We’re excited to tell you about the Vegan Living Program (VLP), sponsored by Open the Cages Alliance in Baltimore. This well-designed program pairs new vegan pledges with vegan coaches – folks with at least one year of vegan living behind them. ¬†The VLP is a series of educational events that cover the hows and whys of vegan living, including the ethical and environmental implications of vegan lifestyles, nutrition, cooking, meal planning, and living vegan in a not-yet-vegan world.

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Thirty people pledge to live vegan for the 5-week program, with the help of volunteer vegan coaches. Vegan pledges receive a binder of resources and recipes, as well as a goody bag of free vegan stuff to make the transition easier and more fun! Classes and cooking demos are free and open to the public.

The VLP is currently taking both pledges and coaches.

To be a volunteer coach… you need to have a positive attitude as your pledge makes changes;¬† have maintained a vegan lifestyle for a year or longer;¬† attend one of the pre-program meetings March 1st or 8th; commit to attending all six VLP sessions (dates below); and stay in touch with your pledge throughout the five-week program, to provide support and advice.

To sign on as a pledge, you must be ready to commit to diet and lifestyle changes and attend all six VLP sessions.

Vegan-curious, but not ready to pledge? Come to the educational sessions! The sessions are open to everyone, but coaches and pledges must attend all six sessions! (Why would you want to miss them?!)

Here is the 2014 Schedule:

Saturday March 15th 3:00-6:00pm @ Mobtown Ballroom (861 Washington Blvd, Baltimore, MD 21230) – Coach/Pledge Intros & Meal Prep Demo
Saturday March 22nd 3:00-5:00pm @ Mobtown Ballroom – Vegan Nutrition
Saturday March 29th 3:00-5:00pm @ Mobtown Ballroom – Environmental Benefits of Vegan Living
Saturday April 5th 3:00-5:00pm @ Mobtown Ballroom – Making the Connection: Sustaining Veganism by Understanding the Big Picture
Saturday April 12th 1:00-3:00pm – Field Trip to Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, 15200 Mt. Nebo Road, Poolesville, MD
Saturday April 19th 3:00-5:00pm @ Mobtown Ballroom – Vegan Pledge Graduation! (For Pledges & Coaches only) Below is a photo from 2013’s graduating class of the VLP.

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The VLP community is continuing to get together through the Veganism Support Meetup Group!¬† This Meetup group is not just for VLP participants; it’s for anyone who wants to give or receive support for their vegans or those aspiring to a vegan lifestyle…or anyone who just wants to ask questions in a friendly, supportive environment!

Want to help this program succeed but can’t commit to being a pledge or coach this year? Donations are welcome – remember this is a FREE program for participants. At the very least, help by spreading the word. Please post this program on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr – you get the idea!¬† Paper flyers are also available to leave at your gym, office, place of worship, library, fave coffee shop. Anywhere!

Have a question? Want more info or flyers to hand out? Email info@openthecages.org or call (443) 478-3074. You can also find Open the Cages Alliance on Facebook and Twitter, too. OTCA offers other programs/events throughout the year centering on veganism and animal advocacy.

Baltimore Vegan Drinks @ Red Emma’s – Jan. 28th

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Baltimore Vegan Drinks is back up and running for 2014! The first event will be at the new location of Red Emma’s in downtown Baltimore. The space is HUGE and very cool, located at 30 W. North Ave. Parking is available on-street (free after 6pm) or at the pay-lot on Maryland Ave. one block away.

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First and foremost, Red Emma’s is a coffee house. Yes, this almond-milk latte was as good as it looks. The folks at Red Emma’s even roast their own coffee beans on-site!

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Now, about the food… This is vegan LOX on an everything bagel with loads of veggies and capers. Before visiting Red Emma’s, we had never even heard of vegan lox.

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The best-selling item at Red Emma’s is their cheesecake. It’s creamy, dreamy and in this case, smothered in a sweet cranberry topping.

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The vegan powerhouse is another staple menu item. Always delicious, always hearty.

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Each day Red Emma’s offers a different soup. This is Greek Five-Bean, served with gluten-free & vegan corn muffins. Perfect on a winter day!

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What’s that you say? Vegan pesto? Smeared all over toasty baguette slices? Yes, please!

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Red Emma’s tasty pesto also finds a tasty home on the Malapesto Sandwich, featuring tomatoes and vegan cheese, shown here on a grilled bagel.

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Tofu Bahn Mi anyone? You gotta try the lemongrass tofu on this one. Eureka.

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Let’s show off the desserts a little more… First a chocolate coconut cake. Then a gluten-free mocha chocolate cake. All vegan, all made in-house.

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Red Emma’s in special in other ways too. They are a cooperatively owned business with a social mission to bring ethical living, eco-awareness and justice to all. We’re all for that. And we’d like to say we’re deep because we love this mug – but really, our big struggle was deciding how many menu items we could eat at one sitting.

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There’s a super bookstore on the grounds too – they even have great vegan titles.

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Don’t miss this terrific event! Baltimore Vegan Drinks at Red Emma’s will be from 7pm to 9pm on Tuesday January 28th. It’s free to attend and all ages are welcome. Specials will be announced on Facebook close to the day-of, including coffee cocktails and wine/beer offerings. See you there!

Stomping Ground: Stickyfingers

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Everyone knows Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats, right? ¬†It’s nestled in a cute space at¬†1370 Park Rd. NW,¬†Washington DC 20010. They’re open seven days a week.¬†Formerly known as Sticky Fingers Bakery, this shop came to fame via Food Network. That’s right – a vegan bakery took on Cupcake Wars and WON.

Owner Doron Petersan is a cupcake master. Her tasty creations brought vegan baking into view of the masses. Her very public victories on national television made vegan food even more legit to those same viewers.

But we knew all along. ūüôā Stop by Sticky Fingers any afternoon and the place is packed. The decor is fun, quirky and retro. You can buy vegan chocolate bars and marshmallows out of an unplugged fridge. There are calendars on the wall showing off Pin-Ups for Pitbulls. Oh – good luck finding a seat. Locals are always around, vegan or not, to partake in the excellent food.

Now, we always love sweets and baked goods. No arguments about that. But we want to give props to the savory food at Sticky Fingers. Yep – you can get a full meal there and the savories are so delicious, we are hopeful that Doron’s next cook book might be on this topic.

This plate of vegan Biscuits and Gravy with Tofu Scramble is worth rolling out of bed for on a lazy Sunday. The biscuits are just like your southern-grandma used to bake (if you had one, of course) Рflaky and  buttery, yet melt-in-your-mouth light. The gravy is hearty and rich. You will be sopping it ALL up, trust me! Allow me to take this moment to say Рthere are bad tofu scrambles out there. This one is great & flavorful, though. So take heart Рits not a pile of jiggly, unseasoned tofu that someone warmed up. The tofu scramble at Sticky Fingers sticks to your ribs and fills you up.

Continuing on the savory path, we’d like to recommend the “Tuna” Sandwich. This isn’t on the daily menu, so you’ll need to catch a special if you want to reel one in. The sandwich has a distinct flavor of the sea, but it’s not fishy. A wonderful lunch paired with one of Sticky Fingers‘ Cowin Cookies or Brownies.

The Breakfast Burrito is another favorite. This not-so-little wrap is crammed with fresh salsa, tender black beans, ¬†Daiya cheese, spinach and the shop’s signature Tofu Scramble. Good stuff. And we liked it any time of day, though this is another item on the weekend brunch menu. Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays until 2:30pm.

No trip to Sticky Fingers can be complete, though, without SWEETS!

On any given day, the bakery’s signature cupcakes are awaiting your arrival – Classic Vanilla, Peanut Butter Fudge, Strawberry Creme, Chocolate, Brown Sugar, Cookies-N-Cake, Raspberry, Tiramisu and Coconut are some of the lusty flavors you can partake in. Come on, folks – these are THE cupcakes that won over Food Network. You just gotta have one. Or one dozen. Flavors change daily, so check on their FB page for updates. ¬†There are always gluten-free cupcakes too.

But honestly, we dream of the other sweets… things like Cowvin Cookies. Sticky Buns. Cheesecakes. Mousse Cake. There are even fresh-baked vegan dog cookies for your four-legged companion to drool over.

The DH would walk across the continent for a Cowvin Cookie. No joke. They’re vegan versions of everyone’s childhood favorite, Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies. For me, it’s all about the Cheesecake. No contest. It’s rich, smooth and decadent. Though I do love a Sticky Bun with a cup of tea…

Sticky Fingers and owner Doron Petersan are local vegan treasures. Not only can you get tasty, incredible vegan sweets and eats at Sticky Fingers, you can also meet a living legend! Doron has given so much to the vegan community with her appearances on Food Network, as well as her animal advocacy events, public cooking demos, and best-selling cook book, Sticky Fingers’ Sweets: 100 Super Secret Vegan Recipes. ¬†(See our book report here, we loved the book!) She is actually hosting an event TONIGHT, Thursday January 16th, to raise funds for the Washington DC Humane Society. It’s a Yappy Hour – so you can bring your pooches!

Visit Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats at 1370 Park Rd. NW, Washington DC 20010. Their number is (202) 299-9700 if you want to call and check on hours of operation.

Can’t make it to DC? No problemo. You can find Sticky Fingers sweets all over the Maryland/Virginia region and you can even order many items online.

Now… about that Sticky Bun… Mmmm!

Creature Comfort

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There’s nothing like a cozy nap in the winter time. And who better to snuggle with than a zebra? Or, maybe a frog‚Ķ Not real ones of course, but botanical-filled ones from Herbal Animals. These adorable critters are actually eye pillows, stuffed with organically grown herbs that have relaxing properties.

The weight of the animal massages accupressure points around your eyes and the fragrant herbs will coax you into a deep, healing sleep. This is serious relaxation, folks. We picked up two of them at the DC VegFest. We thought they would be sweet gifts for our niece and nephew, who are small children. Ahem… they never got them. The DH uses the frog. I use the zebra. We love them so much, we even take them on trips.

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Abra K’ Zebra is filled with lavender.

Lavender, originally a Mediterranean shrub cultivated for its aromatic flowers, is one of the queens of herbs. It relieves nervous tension, headaches and insomnia.

Buddy Bullfrog (aka, the Prince) is filled with lavender and orange.

Orange is an evergreen tree which originated in Asia and is now commonly cultivated elsewhere. Orange is an antiseptic aromatic.

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Different Herbal Animals have different herbs. The varieties include¬†lavender, chamomile, peppermint, spearmint, orange, lemon balm, mugwort, passionflower, hops, rose, sweet annie and linden flower.¬†¬†Each animal pillow is made with 100% certified organically grown herbs, seeds, and cotton. Each animal’s colors and herbal scent is unique.

There are lots of critters to choose from, too: turtles, bulls, cows, camels, panda, brown bears, puppies, kitties, elephants, otters, piggies, dolphins, deer, iguanas, seals, tigers, monkeys, bunnies, sheep, whales, stallions and penguins are all available to soothe you to sleep. There are also “nighties” for the eye pillows, which can be washed and keep your Herbal Animal free of eye-goop, as well as 2-foot long animal shoulder pillows.

Herbal Animals donates to¬†Feed the Children, The Humane Society, and Save the Children. Basically, they help kids + animals lead happier lives. And help you get a good night’s sleep!¬†Did we mention they’re also eco-friendly? In addition to using all organic materials, these cuddly sleep companions are made in the USA in a local company based in Bethesda, MD. ¬†Their boxes are recyclable – and made with recycled board printed with soy ink. Their website offers other eco-goodies too, like jewelry made from upcycled telephone wire and records, as well as bags and wallets made from upcycled bicycle tires.
If you are between the ages of 3 and 103, or so, you will love an Herbal Animal. Ours are like part of the family now. Even our dog has been found cuddling with them!¬†The cutie eye pillows are $18.00 each online and are certified Cruelty-free. Neck Pillows are $39.50. If you order a bunch, there’s free shipping on $90+ of merchandise. Sweet Dreams!

The Numbers

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We recently got a fun note from WordPress, our host for this blog.

They told us that 10,000 of YOU visited US in 2013.

Those are the numbers. And we are humbled!

So thanks, and keep coming back! We love when folks stop by to visit. Feel free to leave a comment and let us know you were here, or “like” us on Facebook. We update regularly on FB with eco and vegan topics of all kinds.

Gracias!