Sunday, August 28, 2011

Product Review: Grapeseed Oil

I am a sucker for trying different oils. Partially because of their deliciousness, and partially because of the health benefits different ones offer.

I kept hearing about grapeseed oil so I decided to just go for it.

I chose Napa Valley Naturals because it was fairly inexpensive and it is made in a sustainable / eco-friendly way.

I don't know what I was expecting, but I thought the bottle itself was green. Did you all know that the oil itself is a BRIGHT GREEN color? I literally giggled when I poured it in the pan. Much greener than olive oil.

Besides being a glorious bright green color (legitimately made me think of leprechauns and rolling hills of grass and four leaf clovers) this oil has a high smoke point which means that it's very versatile and can be used for stir frying, deep frying, and all sorts of other crap. A good go-to oil to have on hand.

On top of all this, grapeseed oil is also a pretty freaking healthy oil.

According to wikipedia (I don't care what you say, wikipedia is ingenious) the oil contains vitamin E and increases levels of good cholesterol in your body, and reduces levels of bad cholesterol in your body.



On a side note, the taste is a little nuttier than olive oil and a little crisper. I prefer it, for sure.


Pancakes Fail

I promised myself when I started this blog that if I failed to make a perfect meal, even if I failed MISERABLY, I would still post about it. Partially because I am, after all, rating recipes...and also because I know that every single person fails at cooking sometimes and it's nothing to be ashamed of.

Disclaimer: I'm almost POSITIVE this failure was due to my own ineptitude, not the recipe. But I'll try it again soon and letcha know. ;)

So this recipe is from the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook. You can also find it on her blog's website, here:

Easy Weekend Pancakes

1 1/2 Cup Soymilk
1 Tbs Sugar
2 Tbs Oil
1 Cup Spelt (or all-purpose*) Flour
1/3 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Extract (any flavor, I used orange, but vanilla is a no-brainer)
1-2 Tbs water, to thin batter if needed

Now here's what you do. You preheat the oven to 200 degrees and find an oven-proof plate. This will be so you can create your stack o' pancakes and keep them warm while you cook the rest of them. Nobody wants a cold little pancake on the bottom of a stack of pipin' hot pancakes. That's just awk.

Now, Lauren's pancakes were purposefully made in a blender so that you can store them overnight and have the batter all rarin to go first thing in the morning. It was already morning for me and I thought I could just mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and have at it. Maybe this recipe gets it's magic from chilling overnight...

Things I did differently (that I won't do next time because I want to see if what I did was foolish / ruined this recipe):

1. I used coconut milk instead of soy milk. This usually isn't a problem for me, but who knows?
2. I used all-purpose flour and NO spelt flour.
3. I did not thin out the batter with water because the recipe mentioned to do that so as to thin out the batter that had thickened overnight, and I wasn't keeping the batter overnight.

So anywho, I mixed all the ingredients besides the water in a big bowl.

Then, I made some pancakes! :)

On medium heat, pour your batter into an ungreased nonstick skillet. You know what to do from here. :)

Unfortunately for me, I don't know what went wrong...maybe I should have thinned out the batter a little more. But my pancakes were thick, dense, oddly bubbly, and fall-apart-y. They also stuck to the pan.

Here's what I got:

Not so pretty. What a pathetic excuse for a pancake.


Deliciousness: 2/5 
An awkward taste. Chewy, dense (not fluffy), and a little too sweet? Or something? Awkward. Possibly salvageable, but I will have to make a hella-thin pancake next time.

Ease of Preparation: 5/5 
If it were a delicious meal, this would be my go-to breakfast treat because it's so quick....

Prettiness: 1/5 
You saw that blob, right? That is one pancake that will never be able to get a pancake date.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

More Tattoo Madness

Nothing to do with vegan recipes, but I figured I'd post an update on my tattoo.

The outline took probably hour? A little more? Anyways, you'd think that the further it got to the middle of my chest (less flab-age to cushion the blow) the less painful it would be. Alas, that goddamn tail hurt SO MUCH WORSE than any other spot on the tattoo.

The black shading / blue shading is only part of what needed to be done (I still need the tongue and ears to be pink, the body to be a stony gray, and some lighter blue highlights on the fur) but I was legit about to pass out from the pain so we had to stop.

September 9th I finish all the rest of it. :)

Anyways vegan pals, this place rocks and it's all vegan. And even if it hurt like a bitch, this was totally worth it (and will be totally worth it once it's all done!)


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Vegan Wine

Something I learned the other day:

Not all wine is vegan-friendly!

I have to admit, part of the reason why I didn't know this is because I don't really love wine. I'm a beer kinda girl. (Who doesn't love a good stout?)

So I've been on a rampage to find a good Washington-made wine to bring my friend Grandy Andy when I visit Portland. :) This adventure has turned into something a little more intense than I thought. My friends Tyrell, Mary, and Andy invited me to go to wine tastings with them this week, so I could find a good wine / maybe learn to like wine.

When I went to the first wine tasting, I noticed a wine on the bottom rack that was labeled "The Vegan Vine."

So I asked the wine store guy what makes this vegan-friendly. He said that a lot of wines are finished or processed with animal ingredients or byproducts! Just like beer, so I should have guessed. :(

I asked him how I could find out if a wine was vegan. He said that since there are no laws on labeling wine with ingredients / processing methods, it's really hard to tell if a wine is vegan-friendly. However, a lot of Indian wines are vegan-friendly (and have a green dot on the label) and of course, The Vegan Vine has all vegan wines.

So when I got home, I did a lot more research on this subject.

^^^^^^ This link helped answer a LOT of my questions.

To summarize what I've learned:

A) The non-vegan ingredients usually used to make wine are gelatin, egg whites, casein, isinglass, and sometimes even blood (but rarely).
B) Most wines aren't labelled with their ingredients or processing methods, so you usually have to contact the winery to find out what they use or buy wines that are specifically labelled as vegan.
C) This link: has a list of wines that are vegan! Sweet!

So anyways, now you know. And you're probably also pissed that you know because now that's just another thing you have to make sure is animal-friendly.

Sorry. But also, you're welcome.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Vegan Tattoo Ink

Little known fact: Not all tattoo ink is vegan-friendly.

I am getting a tattoo next Tuesday (eeee!) and did a little research to make sure that I found an artist who offered vegan ink. I ended up going with Suzanna Fisher at Damask Tattoo here in Seattle.

When I talked to the artist, she told me that most tattoo inks are made with an animal-derived glycerin, but the kind she uses has a plant-derived glycerin.

I have also heard from other sources that some black inks are made with bone char (burnt animal bones) and shellac.

Damask is a really cool place because the owner tries really hard to make everything as environmentally friendly as possible. Here's the quote from the website:

"It would seem that a tattoo studio would be an unlikely candidate as a green-focused business, but this is not an average tattoo studio. Damask Tattoo and Permanent Cosmetics uses plant-based, petroleum-free after-care products and tattoo session balms. I used to use straight petroleum jelly or other ointments during the tattoo process, and recommended petroleum-based after-care, until I learned that petroleum is very harmful to our skin. It coats the skin making it unable to breathe, makes it sticky so it clogs pores, attracts dust and dirt, and can actually increase the risk for skin cancer—also, it comes from a non-renewable resource. Once these things were brought to my attention, I started looking into the other products that were being used in the process and started making changes. I found a small local business, Black Creek Botanicals, that has worked for years with tattoo artists to develop tattoo products that are not only petroleum-free and plant-based, but are the best products that I have ever used, hands-down. I also spent some time researching sunscreens for protecting tattoos from fading due to UV exposure. I found a great company called Soleo Organics, and now have their sunscreen available in my store. Then I took it a step further—I offer vegan ink as an alternative option to the standard tattoo inks. The studio itself is in a professional building alongside naturopaths,acupuncturists, chiropractors, and a massage therapist. Decorated with antique, salvaged, and reused furniture, we approach green with an ornate Victorian flair. We provide a discreet salon-style experience and a patient and empathetic approach with our clients. We have private tattoo rooms where we do custom tattoos that compliment the body’s natural shape and embody the vision of the wearer. We offer permanent cosmetics that are soft and natural, all the way down to individual hair-stroke eyebrows. Imagine never buying chemical-laced and overpackaged cosmetics again, but retaining the enhancing effects that makeup can offer. It’s truly a joy for me to know that I’m doing what I can to reduce the chemicals that my clients and I come into contact with, and reducing the demand for those products overall. I’m very excited with the direction we’ve taken with Damask Tattoo, and look forward to progressing even further into the world of green in the future."

It's really cool to find a tattoo place that cares so much about the environment. :-]

I also asked the artist if it costs more for me to choose vegan ink. It doesn't! I don't have to pay anything more than the expected amount for a vegan-friendly tattoo than for a cruelty-friendly tattoo. So exciting!

I will post pictures later of the finished product, but here's the sketch she drew for me last week:

There will be some blues and pinks involved in the final product, and it's going to be tattooed right underneath my left collarbone.

So excited!

Product Review: Sea Tangle Noodles

I would like to talk about Uwajimaya again, and how much I love it.

I love it THIS much:

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 !

A few months ago, I bought this stuff called "sea tangle" because it sounded fucking gross. Again, remember my morbid food curiosity.

It was like $2.39 for a bag, so I wasn't going to lose out on much if it turned out to be revolting.

I should post a picture (I probably will later) of what it looks like in a dish, but really it looks just like glass noodles. The texture is a little spongier and stiffer. I guess because it IS a type of seaweed (I assume).

The nice part about these is that they have a cool presentation (transparent noodles look extra-fancy!) and there are very few calories in a bag of these. And you can make a LOT of noodles with one little bag.

The bag said they were ready to eat, but I found that if I boil them beforehand, they are less stiff and therefore more noodle-y. :) I actually end up using these on a regular basis because of the fact that they are SO low calorie and they're pretty damn cheap.

I say: try it. It's not that much more amazing than any other noodles, but it does look cool and is a great conversation starter when you hand someone a dish made with noodles from the sea!



Thursday, August 11, 2011

Chickpeas + Tomatoes = Splendid

I recently bought a giant soup pot. Did I  mention that? I probably did.

So I've been OBSESSED with making soups. Especially because I've also done a lot of reading on nutrition lately and there's just something about eating mashed-up food that's good for your body. Apparently because we rarely chew as much as we should be chewing, our body supposedly misses out on some important digestion shit and therefore we don't get as many nutrients...whether or not that's true, I've been doing a lot more chewing lately because I am easily influenced by 'nutritional experts.' :)

Vegan Yum Yum was one of my favorite blogs for a long time ( And then Miss Lauren came out with a book! My soul was joyous.

Flipping through her soup section, I found a delightfully ORANGE soup. Orange is my favorite color, and while I rarely find orange sauces appetizing (shitty sweet and sour sauce, awkward tomato-y sauces that should be a luscious red) a healthy burst of orange in a soup sounded great.

The soup didn't require a soup pot, which was only mildly disappointing. I like playing with my new toys!

Spicy Tomato Chickpea Soup Pg 180

2 - 3 tbsp vegetable oil, your choice
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1 cup hot water
black pepper, to taste

Firstly, you will heat up your oil in a pan with high sides (I used a wok!) and saute your onions for about 2 - 3 minutes.

Secondly, you will add the garlic, cumin, and chili flakes. Saute for about another minute, stirring frequently.

Thirdly, add the mustard seeds, turmeric, and drained chickpeas. I didn't have turmeric or mustard seeds. So I improvised and added a little curry powder and some cardamom.

Fourthly (4th-ly), you're gonna add your giant can of diced tomatoes to the mix and simmer for about 10 - 15 minutes.

When everything in your wok or giant pan or what-have-you is nice and mushy, you will add all this shit to a blender, plus the hot water and nutritional yeast.

So this was actually a really funny experience for me...Let me introduce you to Mr. Crappy Blender from Hell.

This little fucker never blends ANYTHING. I swear to GOD, it hates the idea of me eating a smoothie after I workout. I'm usually sweaty and gross, then come home to expect to have a coconut water / banana / blueberry smoothie...and I put it all in the blender and Mr. Crappy Blender From Hell just SCREAMS AND SCREAMS and doesn't blend SHIT.

So I, sweaty and gross and pissed off and tired, end up eating a chunky version of a 'smoothie.'  Not smooth at all. Annoying.

I wasn't expecting Mr. CBFH to blend my soup. So I was looking at him and getting preemtpively mad. So here I go, putting my soup stuff in the blender.

So then I press the button to blend this at the highest level and listen to him scream.

And guess what happened?!

I popped off the top of the blender and I took at peek. And it looked like THIS:


Pleased and hungry (because it's lunchtime and I have been playing with chickpeas for the past half hour), I put the soup into a bowl and garnished it with a little black pepper and cilantro.



Deliciousness: 4/5
A warm, soothing soup with the beany texture and taste of chickpeas, plus the sweetness of tomatoes. The spices I used probably changed the entire taste of this soup, but I really liked what I chose. Cardamom is one of my favorite spices right now. :) This was a great, light lunch, and would probably go well with some fresh sweet potato fries. I think next time I'll saute a chopped jalapeno with the onions to give it more of a kick.

Ease of Preparation: 3/5
It's hard to find a healthy vegan recipe that doesn't require a lot of chopping / mincing / etc. All in all, the soup was fairly straightforward to make but did take a few different steps and different tools. Plenty of dishes for a simple soup.

Prettiness: 5/5
BRIGHT ORANGE! The cilantro garnish really gave it a beautiful contrast (orange and green are my favorite colors so I might be biased....hahahah.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wheatball Sub (Sorta-Kinda)

I realized I never actually followed up with the wheatball sub I made a while ago.

The official recipe was from Vegan On The Cheap.

So I made the wheatballs from Vegan On The Cheap (and that adventure can be witnessed here:

I also made the marinara sauce from Vegan On The Cheap and will be posting all about that a little later, when I upload the pictures. You can always buy some marinara sauce, though. :)

Finally, I made the cheezy sauce from Vegan A Go-Go! and that adventure can be witnessed here:

So have you ever had a meatball sub, back in your carnivorous days? Because if you remember what that's like, it's easy to replicate it with these ingredients. Just put some wheatballs, cheezy sauce, and marinara sauce on a toasted bun. Thanks, Vegan On The Cheap, for such straightforward directions! :)

I could NOT, for the life of me, find vegan sub rolls though. I must have been looking for an hour at three different grocery stores. And NONE to be found. :( If anyone knows of any brands, let me know! I didn't check Whole Foods so I guess I'll try that next time.

Since I had no rolls, I kinda just threw all this together on a plate and ate it like that. The innards of a wheatball sub. :)

Now imagine that on a nicely toasted, warm, wheat roll....DELICIOUS.

It felt so delightfully decadent!




Deliciousness: 5/5
If only I had found some vegan rolls! Alas, it was still simply DELIGHTFUL and satisfying. The combination of the nutty-cheesy flavor of the sauce with the fresh tomato-y flavor of the marinara with the spicey wheatballs was freaking awesome. No other way to describe it but: Italian Decadence On A Plate.

Ease of Preparation: 5/5
As long as you have wheatballs, marinara sauce, and cheezy sauce on hand, this is easy as HELL to slap together.

Prettiness: 5/5
Now this wasn't on a roll...but I can imagine it on a roll...and it's pretty schmexy.

Seitan-ic Delightfulness (Piles of Shit)


Now before you whip out your holy water and 3-foot-tall crosses, let me explain myself.

Seitan is a meat substitute made from wheat gluten flour. It's PACKED with protein and tastes eerily like meat. It even has that smokey, earthy flavor that meat has.

Seitan is delicious specifically as a beef substitute, which is probably why I rarely use it (I never particularly loved beef). The other reason I never really used seitan?

Wheat meat is PRICEY, ya'll.

So I conducted an experiment. I invested in a $6 bag of wheat gluten flour and decided to try my hand at making this stuff myself. To see if A) I could do it, and B) if it were cheaper.

I used Isa's recipe from Vegan With A Vengeance!

Homemade Seitan Pg 157

1 cup vital wheat gluten four
3 tbsp noochy (nutritional yeast)
1/2 cup cold veggie broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed or grated on a microplane grater
4 more cups veggie broth
4 cups water
1/4 cup soy sauce

So to start, you will be mixing the wheat gluten flour and noochy together. :)

Then you're gonna whisk together your cold veggie broth, soy sauce, lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine!

Then comes the fun part. KNEAD THIS CRAP!

When you poke it, it should be a little bouncy because of the gluten. :)'s fun to poke!

I forgot to mention that your four cups of water / four cups of veggie broth / 1/4 cup soy sauce should be getting ready to boil in a huge pot on your stove.

When you've got your dough kneaded and your soy sauce / veggie broth mixture is boiling, cut up your seitan into chunks. It should look disgusting, like piles of shit.

I didn't take any more pictures of the next few steps. Why? Because these little turds are then put into a pot of boiling brown water. Appetizing? If you find a public toilet appetizing, then perhaps.

Regardless, you should know that you're supposed to simmer these bad boys for 45 minutes in a pot with the lid loosely covering it. Then you let them sit for 15 minutes and then chop up your turds; then store them in the poop-water until you're ready to use them. Gross.


This really is seitan, and it really does taste like a meat substitute, and it really is EXTREMELY high in protein. It's good stuff, guys. I also learned that it is CHEAPER to make this shit than to buy it; I made a huge amount of seitan for about $3 worth of ingredients.


Deliciousness: 4/5 
It tastes like seitan, which is excellent! It's just as legit as the store-bought stuff. Next time I'll spice it up, maybe throw in some more noochy and a little basil.

Ease of Preparation: 3/5
Kinda messy, kinda time-consuming. But not easy to mess up.

Prettiness: 1/5