Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Savory Watermelon, 4 Ways

Image: Kirti Poddar, licensed under Creative Commons
We hosted my cousins in Seattle the week before we moved. One of the nights they were with us, we sat around the coffee table in our living room (picnic-style, if you will), and started our meal with a Watermelon and Heirloom Tomato Salad, from Kim Barnouin’s latest, Ultimate Everyday Cookbook.

I had chosen the recipe for its simplicity, because it would let the flavors of crisp, sweet watermelon, and the ripe heirlooms blend and satisfy – particularly after a day of summer sight-seeing. Drizzled with a touch of balsamic reduction, it was perfect.

Before that night, I had only prepared watermelon as a snack or healthy dessert – I cubed it, chilled it, and served it on its own. Kim’s recipe introduced me to a world where watermelon can be a part of fuller, more savory courses; part of a summer meal.

For this time of year, as we just want to savor the flavors of summer in their plainest glory, over meals that take little time to prepare, but can be enjoyed over the joyfully long stretch of evening, here are four more ways to prepare watermelon in your main course:

(Veganize by omitting the goat cheese.)

(Veganize by substituting crumbled tofu for the feta.)

Friday, June 10, 2011

How To Choose the Best Vegan Sausage

One of the best things about going vegan these days is that you can find substitutes for your former-favorite foods. And, not only can you find vegan cheeses and meats, you often have a selection of brands and flavors.

However, not all vegan meats are created equal. Upon tasting, some clearly rise above the rest. And, it's important to know which ones, because you deserve to enjoy your food (especially when many of these products cost $4 - $5 per package - who wants to spend all of their time and money figuring out which one is best?).

This week, Slate published a review of three of the most popular, nationally-distributed brands of vegan sausage - Tofurky, Lightlife, and Field Roast.

Click to read the full review and find out which product won this taste test - and which one you should pick up before your next BBQ:

Taste-testing vegan sausage - which fake meat is best?

LET US KNOW: Do you agree with Slate's review? What's your favorite vegan sausage?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Recipes: Vegan Sushi

Yesterday, Stephanie shared her visit to Organic Lives cafe with us. Today, I'm excited to share her recipes for homemade sushi with you.

Now, I'm still a bit intimidated by the idea of rolling my own sushi. I just have visions of it not coming together, or falling apart as soon as I think it's actually holding. But, these recipes are inspiring me to try - and, if you've got suggestions on rolling sushi, please share a comment below!

Photo credit: Stephanie Falcos

Stephanie's Homemade Vegan Sushi

Makes four rolls

7 medium mushrooms
⅔ medium cucumber (seeded)
2 medium carrots
½ cup alfalfa sprouts
1 red bell pepper
1 small avocado
8 dried seaweed sheets
Handful, organic greens
Organic stone-ground mustard
Organic tamari sauce
Kelp powder *optional
Agave nectar *optional

Roll #1:
1. Chop 3 mushrooms and toss in food processor with 1 tsp tamari sauce and a touch of agave. Process until the mix has a grain- like texture.
2. Roll on 1 seaweed sheet with alfalfa, carrots, red pepper, and cucumber. Wait several minutes, and roll in another sheet of seaweed. (I do this because if not eaten right away, the mushroom makes the sushi wet, and hard to cut.)
3. Top with mustard.

Rolls #2 and #3:
1. Slice 4 mushrooms and marinate in tamari and agave for 20 minutes. Roll with carrot-beet pate (see below), alfalfa, and additional carrots.
2. Wait several minutes, and roll in another sheet of seaweed to make it easier to cut.

Roll #4:
1. Slice avocado, and roll with cucumber, red pepper, and lettuce. (I topped mine with kelp powder.)
2. You may not have to roll this one twice. Test how moist it is, and cut away!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Feast Your Eyes: Stephanie revives a family tradition with vegan sushi

Today, I'm excited to share a guest post from Stephanie Falcos of Vegan on the Go. Stephanie is a fantastic vegan blogger and photographer, who recently revived a special tradition with a visit to Vancouver, BC's Organic Lives cafe. Read on to learn more about her experience and view pictures of her vegan sushi rolls. Stay tuned for vegan sushi recipes, and be sure to check out Stephanie's blog!

Though I love being vegan, one of the hardest things about transitioning was giving up a tradition I shared with my mom. On weekends, we used to go to all-you-can-eat sushi buffets, where we would eat everything from Yakisoba to our beloved California Rolls, to our hearts’ content. When I couldn’t continue this tradition with her, we were both disappointed.

As vegetarian for seven years, I had worked my way from eating no red meat, to no meat at all. Becoming even more conscious, I began to look into the animal bi-products I was consuming, and finally went vegan early this year; I had started to feel the same way about the eggs on my plate, as I had about eating the chicken that they had come from. I initially thought becoming vegan would be difficult, but, I changed my mind when I was at a friend’s house in Chicago, and his roommate cooked up an easy, delicious stir-fry. I decided then, that there was no reason for not making the commitment – even though I would miss my shared sushi tradition.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

How to Make Going Veg a No-Brainer

Welcome Vegan Consultant Readers!
Thanks for reading my interview with Kelly, and welcome to my blog! In my interview, I advised those considering a vegan lifestyle to choose a set of core recipes to help the transition. Here are some more thoughts on that:

To many ears, “going vegan” sounds difficult and limiting.

“How do you stay the course?” people wonder.

To this question, many will tell you about animal rights, climate change, and your health. Given the facts, how can we not be vegan? And, I agree with all of this.  

But, you may still be thinking, "How do I give up brie cheese and chocolate chip cookies? Practically, in my day-to-day life, it’s too hard to be vegan."

To you, I offer the secret to making it easy.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Recipes: Falafel, 5 Ways

With summer around the corner, many of us are thinking about picnics and barbeques - grilled pizzas, vegetable kebabs, and potato salad.

But truly, my favorite summer sandwich is the falafel.

Image via: Chow Vegan

Heartier than a summer salad, but lighter than a veggie burger off the grill, to me, falafel is pure balance - textured, spicy, cool, creamy, complex, crunchy, bright, comforting, zesty.

Friday, May 20, 2011

New York City's Twelve Best Vegetarian Restaurants?

Refinery 29 recently put together a slideshow of what they consider to be the 12 best vegetarian restaurants in New York City...and having lived in or just outside NYC for four years, I'm not so sure I agree with all of their picks.

Image via: Refinery 29

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Recipe: Lauren's General Tsao's Tofu

On cooking at home for herself and her non-vegetarian husband, she said: 

"I try to make things that he likes that are vegetarian. He likes to order General Tsao’s chicken at Chinese restaurants, and so over the years, I’ve perfected my General Tsao’s tofu recipe, which he loves.

It’s a good challenge for me to find things I can cook for us both, so that he doesn’t feel like he’s missing out. I personally never feel like I’m missing out, like, “Oh, I wish I could go eat a hamburger.” So, I don’t want him to feel that way, either."

Today, she shares that recipe. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Don't worry about "what's allowed": How Lauren Quit Meat, Learned to Cook Veg, and Lives Consciously in NH

In the 7th grade, Lauren came home from the mall wearing a button saying “Meat is Murder.” It was her way of telling her parents that she was giving up red meat. Having identified with a vegetarian lifestyle from that young age, Lauren’s diet has been continually evolving. Today, she considers herself to be a pescatarian (a self-described vegetarian who occasionally eats wild-caught fish). Here, she talks about growing up as the only person who identified with vegetarianism in her New Hampshire-based family, cooking veg for her non-veg husband, and not being restricted by labels.

What are you eating today?

Trader Joe’s sells these awesome vegan enchiladas that I buy by the case - literally. I eat them all the time, with some fresh cut avocado, for lunch – which is usually a working lunch for me. For dinner tonight…the weather’s starting to get nicer, so we’ll probably do something on the grill - veggie burgers, with sweet potato fries and corn on the cob.

You grew up in small-town New Hampshire, among family and friends that all ate meat. How did you make the decision to stop?

As a kid, I always loved animals. We always had pets. Once I found out about slaughterhouses, factory farming, and where my meat came from, I was horrified. I just couldn’t put that aside. My answer was to immediately stop eating red meat.

For me, it was a very simple equation that the animal on my plate was no different than the one sitting in my lap.

You were 12. What was that like for your parents?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Grocery Shopping? Go to the Farmer's Market First.

I love the farmer’s market experience.

Image via: The Atlantic

In fact, when my husband and I were on our honeymoon in Kauai, we went to the local farmer’s market. (We weren’t cooking on our honeymoon, but when I saw the ad, I had to check it out.)

I just love being outdoors, in the fresh air, picking through recently-delivered heaps and barrels of local produce, and feeling the raw potential of how those ingredients can be combined, seasoned, presented.  

I also love the fact that buying from the market cuts my grocery bill by about 30% every week.

Now, I know this isn’t something that holds everywhere. When I lived in New York City, the Union Square Farmer’s Market, for example, while inspiring, wasn’t cheap.

However, if you pick the right places to go, research now is showing that farmer’s markets are, in most cases, less expensive than surrounding grocery stores.

This article from The Atlantic outlines the major findings of the research: The Farmer’s Market Myth

The kitchn did a summary post: It’s true! Farmer’s Markets are Cheaper than Supermarkets!


To take advantage of this, I go to the produce market first, pick up everything I can get from there, and whatever I can’t get (tortillas, dried beans, bread, Daiya cheese), I pick up at my second stop – the grocery store. This cuts my grocery bill by about $30 a week. Plus, the produce is fresher.


Here are seven more tips on making the most of the farmer’s market, from Serious Eats: 

LEAVE A COMMENT AND LET US KNOW: Is your local farmer's market is cheaper than the supermarket? Do you use any of the tips offered by Serious Eats? How do you make the most of the farmer's market?

Monday, May 16, 2011

You Might As Well Market Weight-Loss Cookies

According to this recent NY Times article, exclusive nightclub owners in New York City have partnered up with a high-end beauty vendor to create a line of cocktails that will erase your fine lines, even out your skin tone, and restore elasticity and glow to your skin.


Things that used to make you look like crap – lots of alcohol, late-night partying, and little sleep – can now actually help you look younger, healthier, glowing!

How does it work? Frank Bruni had the same question when he was researching this article, and didn’t see any fine lines disappearing. The cocktail co-creator’s response:

“…the antioxidants and other nutrients infused into the cocktails had undeniable health benefits, and that getting them via alcohol was better than not getting them at all.”

Ok, guess what. Green tea is supposed to suppress your appetite and help you lose weight. So how about I bake some green tea powder into my new fabulous recipe for chocolate chip cookies and create a new line of desserts that will help you lose weight? Will you buy them – my weight-loss-inducing chocolate chip cookies?

Right, I didn’t think so.

FACT: Alcohol is dehydrating, as cookies, albeit delicious and whimsical, are fattening. So, mix whatever you want into your cocktail – or your cookie – it’s not going to help your skin (or your waistline).

Thank goodness the article ended on this note, from Manhattan dermatologist, Patricia Wexler,
“Nothing in a cocktail will give you younger skin,” she said in an e-mail. “But your judgment might be impaired, and you might see Angelina in the mirror.”

If you want great skin, these cocktails got one thing right - it does start with what you put into your body. And a plant-based diet can do wonders, because healthy skin is rested, hydrated, and well-nourished, by naturally occurring sources of vitamins and minerals.

Here’s the truth, from personal experience, (and common sense):

I used to have terribly congested skin. Maybe I’ll put a photo on this blog one day. I went to dermatologists for years. I took pills and underwent procedures. Nothing worked.

Then, I transitioned to a completely plant-based, vegan diet. I cut out alcohol and processed foods. I drank water all day long (with the help of this). It took time for my body to fully detoxify. But, it did. My skin has completely cleared up. The scars have diminished. I don’t take any medication. I will have the occasional drink, but mostly stick to non-alcoholic grown-up beverages like the ones in this post. I feel confident enough to go out without makeup on. And my 22-year-old self would not have believed that I could have looked the way I did at my wedding last December. (Not a point of vanity or arrogance, just personal joy at a food-initiated transformation and healing.)

(Here’s the woman who helped me do it – and the proof is in her own skin. She’s turning 72 this year – 72.)

Want your skin to lock in hydration? Save yourself the $20+ dollars on the Soothing Cucumber cocktail, and go spend $0.49 cents on a cucumber. Throw it into a salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, shredded carrots, baked tofu, and sprouts, dressed lightly with some olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Drink a tall glass of water, flavored with a couple of orange slices – or even cucumber slices! (Like they do at actual spas, where they specialize in actual skincare, and serve you cocktails water with cucumber.) Go to bed on time. And, call me in the morning and let me know how it works out for you.

LEAVE A COMMENT & LET US KNOW: How has a plant-based diet improved your skin, or your health overall? What other products, making outrageous health claims, do we need to watch out for? 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Recipes: Potato Salad, Six Ways

When I was growing up, I ate potato salad at school picnics, my friends' pool parties, and the end-of-the-season family BBQs for my brothers' baseball teams. I (admittedly) remember liking it - though what I was eating really tasted like mayonnaise and eggs, with potato-like lumps in between.

Having grown up, (in both age and palate), and become vegan, I hadn't eaten potato salad in a long time - until a couple years ago, when I was craving something starchy to pair with a green salad. French fries would be too, well - fried. I did not want a sandwich - too heavy. And, then I found Lolo's recipes for potato salad - two ways.

It was one of those joyous moments for young vegans - "Hey, I CAN eat [insert any food you missed from your previous life, but now know you don't have to sacrifice]!"

Since that time, I've been delighted to discover a series of varied, innovative, simple yet sophisticated, recipes for potato salad - all of which taste contain ingredients that taste like their real selves, and impressively, only one of which calls for (vegan) mayonnaise.

With Memorial Day on the horizon, without further ado, I present to you my six favorite recipes for potato salad...

Potato Salad, Two Ways, Vegan Yum Yum

Grilled Potato Salad, 101 Cookbooks

Samosa Potato Salad, Bittersweet

Red Potato Salad with Scallions and Radishes, the kitchn

Mustard Roasted New Potatoes, Joy the Baker

...and challenge you to make them for your non-vegan friends at your next get-together.

Tell me what you (and they) think!

Want more great recipes, and top veg stories from around the web, delivered right to your inbox? Click here to subscribe to The Veg Post!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hey! Where's my Veg Post?

Several subscribers have shared with me that they didn't receive yesterday's issue of The Veg Post.

If this group includes you, I'm truly sorry. For many, the issue ended up in spam folders - probably because I used the phrase "hangover cure" in my subject line. 

To ensure that your Veg Post doesn't end up in your spam folders again, please: 
1. Open an older issue (I'm hoping they're still in your e-mail!). 
2. Scroll down towards the bottom of the e-mail. 
3. There, you'll see a link that says "Add us to your address book." 
4. Click on this link - and you should be good to go!

If the newsletter is nowhere to be found (not even in your spam folder), then please e-mail me at vegpost@gmail.com. I'm working with our service provider to help resolve this issue, and will make sure you don't have this problem again. 

For those of you who missed it, here is a link to yesterday's issue: The Veg Post, 05.05.11

Thanks for your patience, and your continued support!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Would you have eggplant parm for dessert?

Eggplant parm for dessert...?

It's not what you think - according to Mark Bittman, pastry chef Brooks Headley's version is a "fantastic version of a classic Neapolitan eggplant-and-chocolate dish." In fact, when Bittman, "...ate this dish in Naples, it was grossly sweet; [Headley's] version is like a dessert eggplant Parmesan prepared by a wizard."

Continuing the trend of chefs who are showing that vegetables can be the star of a dish, and in line with predictions that 2011 would be the year of the vegetables, Chef Headley is earning rock-star reviews with his vegetable-based desserts, including a plate composed of "...celery sorbet with a little dressed celery salad; goat-cheese-mousse balls coated with olive-oil-sautéed bread crumbs; [and] macerated figs with balsamic vinegar."

No matter where you fall on the herbivore - omnivore spectrum, it's exciting and inspiring to see continued innovation with fruits and vegetables, further elevating them as foods of interest (not just sides) to the masses. 

Click here to read the full article, with four vegetarian recipes.

LET US KNOW: Would you make one of these vegetable-based desserts?http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/08/magazine/mag-08Eat-t-000.html

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Recipe: Soft Peanut Butter Cookies

I was craving something sweet after dinner tonight.

I knew I didn't have chocolate chips. But, I saw something else on the counter that could be made into a sweet treat: peanut butter.

I Googled "vegan peanut butter cookie recipe," and found this absolutely perfect one:

Auntie Angie's Soft Peanut Butter Cookies

I loved that the cookies in this recipe are sweetened with maple syrup. And, I had all of the required ingredients to create soft, moist morsels of peanut butter goodness.

So, I set out to create the dough,

break off chunks, roll them into balls, and flatten them with a fork.

Just as I was getting ready to pop these in the oven, I thought, "PB&J...wouldn't these be delicious with a dollop of jam?"

So, I used my pinky to create a small dent in a few of the cookies, before popping them into the oven.

Eleven minutes later, I had these:

And, with a tiny spoonful of jam, here's dessert:

Want these now? Get the recipe here.

Want more great recipes like this one? For a weekly round-up of the best veg news, recipes, tips, and stories from around the web, subscribe to The Veg Post e-newsletter here. (Hurry, the next issue comes out on Thursday!)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Veganized Recipe: Roasted Asparagus Soup (Six ingredients, five minutes)

Inspired by a series of asparagus-related tweets, I was moved to do something with the lovely spring asparagus in my fridge today.

I've made one-pot, multi-step, asparagus soup recipes before. But, these recipes have long time gaps between sauteeing the onions and adding the asparagus, leaving me standing in kitchen, filling my time by rearranging my oils and adding dishes to the dishwasher, one by one.

So, I was delighted when I found this incredibly simple asparagus soup recipe today - it basically boils down to chop, roast, and blend - and adapted it to be vegan.

Added bonus - this recipe calls for roasting the asparagus. I love how roasting adds depth to my butternut squash soup, and a soulful quality to my red pepper hummus. Here, it adds an earthiness that layers beautifully with the lightness of the asparagus.

Recipe: Roasted Asparagus Soup
Adapted from Pictures and Pancakes

4 cups, coarsely chopped asparagus
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 small onion, chopped
1 tbsp., olive oil
1 1/2 cups, vegetable stock
1/2 cup, soy milk
salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Mix the asparagus, garlic, onion, and olive oil in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet.
Roast for 20 minutes.
Transfer the roasted mixture to a blender.
Add the stock and soy milk.
Puree until smooth.
Add salt and pepper, if necessary.
Serve and enjoy!

Friday, April 29, 2011

WINNER: Free Membership to Spork Online!

Congratulations, Neha G.! You've won a one month membership to Heather and Jenny's fabulous online vegan cooking classes!

HUGE THANKS to everyone who entered. Your enthusiasm for learning how to cook with tofu, seitan, quinoa, garbanzo beans, fiddlehead ferns, and more, is inspiring!
For all of you, I have some good news - the items you mentioned are covered in archived Spork Online classes! So, all you have to do to learn the best ways to prepare tofu, or cook with dark leafy greens, is start your Spork Online membership today. 
Thanks, again, for participating, and happy cooking!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

WIN a membership to THE BEST ONLINE COOKING CLASSES anywhere: Spork Online!

I wish I could enter this contest myself.

The fabulous Goldberg sisters - Heather & Jenny - co-owners of the groundbreaking organic vegan cooking company, Spork Foods, have expanded their LA-based business nationwide. That's right - their fun and engaging cooking classes, complete with delicious and easy vegan recipes - are now available ONLINE.

There is so much that makes these classes simply the best -

- The food is delicious and the recipes are easy to follow. Every class features a four course meal, so you'll get a lot out of every session.

- The videos are professionally shot and edited in HD video, making you forget that we ever clamored for a vegan cooking show on TV. The classes are shown in real-time, so you actually get to see the entire cooking process from start to finish. And, as a web series, you can watch these fantastic videos on demand!

- The online classes are taped with an actual, diverse class of students present, so you get to follow along with the conversation, and get answers to the questions you might also ask in class.

- In addition to a new class every month, membership to the site comes with TONS of great bonuses:
  • Access to archived classes
  • Exclusive bonus recipes
  • Out of the kitchen adventure videos
  • Direct access to Heather & Jenny for answers to your cooking questions, through Food 911

Watch a sample video on the Spork Online site, (you can even watch a FREE full class), and you'll see -
Heather & Jenny's classes are simply one of the best things out there for anyone who wants to cook healthy food at home.

AND, now you can WIN a FREE one-month membership to Spork Online!

HERE'S HOW TO WIN: Name one ingredient you'd like to learn to cook with, in a future Spork Online class. Leave a comment below telling us about that ingredient. One lucky commenter will win the free membership!

The contest closes on Monday, April 25 at 11:59 PM, PT. We'll announce the winner on Tuesday, April 26.

Good luck!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

WINNER: The $25 Whole Foods gift card goes to...

...VegPost subscriber Theresa W.!

As a new VegPost subscriber, and active reader, Theresa can take $25 off her next trip to Whole Foods - on us.

Thanks for reading, Theresa, and stay tuned for future contests!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Veganized: Ravioli Salad from Heidi Swanson's Supernatural Everyday

I say veganized like it's a triumph.

Which, it is.

But, in this case, as with most of Heidi Swanson's recipes from her blog, 101 Cookbooks, or her new cookbook, Super Natural Every Day: Well-loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen, it's pretty easy to vegan-ize.

To give us a preview of her newest cookbook, Heidi released this sampler, which has six much-loved, (and much-to-love) recipes from her new book.

One weeknight, I decided to try out the Ravioli Salad, which was easily veganized by:
  • replacing the Parmesan cheese with some mozzarella-flavored Daiya shreds (I'm not a big fan of the vegan Parm options that currently exist). 
  • choosing a ready-made vegan ravioli. 
This is a very elegant, but quickly assembled dish. So, it's great for an interesting and flavorful weeknight dinner. It's also great as an appetizer or side dish at a dinner party. If you bring it to a potluck, chances are most people won't even know it's vegan.

I started by putting a pot of hot water on to boil (for the ravioli). And, while I waited for that to boil, I prepared the cilantro-pepita pesto, by pulsing up some olive oil, lemon juice, cilantro, garlic, and pepitas, in my Vitamix (which I am obsessed with, and could dedicate a whole post to).

Initially, I just removed the Parmesan cheese to make this pesto vegan. But, when I tasted it after initially blending it, I did want to add some cheese-like flavor and texture. So, I added a small handful of Daiya Mozzarella Shreds, some sea salt, and blended some more, until I had a deliciously fresh, tangy, and creamy cilantro pesto:

By this time, the water was boiling. For my Ravioli, I chose:

Rising Moon Organics has a couple of vegan flavors. I thought that the butternut squash would go well with the cilantro-pepita pesto and olives. (And, ultimately, I think I was right.)

I started with frozen ravioli:

And, seven minutes later, had this soft and pillowy pasta:

 which I tossed with a spoonful of the pesto.

I let it sit for a few minutes while I started to clean up the kitchen - to let the pesto sink in. Then, I added some more pesto, and some chopped black olives, and gently tossed the dish again.

I transferred it to a serving dish, and sprinkled it with the rest of the olives and some roasted pepitas.
Heidi's recipe called for also garnishing the dish with some fresh thyme - I didn't have any on hand, so used some dried thyme.

And, here's dinner!

LET US KNOW: Have you tried other recipes from Super Natural Every Day: Well-loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen? What are your favorite recipes from the book? Ones that are easily veganized?

Want more great recipes, and top veg stories from around the web, delivered right to your inbox? Subscribe to The Veg Post (the next issue, exclusively for subscribers, is coming out tomorrow!)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Congrats to our Cookshelf Contest Winner...

Ryann Salik! As the winner of The Veg Post Cookshelf Contest, Ryann has chosen to receive a copy of Appetite for Reduction: 125 Fast and Filling Low-Fat Vegan Recipes by Isa Chandra Moskowitz!

Subscribe to The Veg Post to learn about future contests, and congratulations again, Ryann!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Veganizing Cake Pops (Even Non-Bakers Can Make Them!)

Cake pops have become something of an obsession for me.

I like eating cupcakes. But, the craze doesn't really drive me to make them all the time.

Cake pops - chocolate-dipped, just-right bites of moist cake, sitting on the tops of lollipop sticks, inspiring the child inside of you - however, are a different story.

I love to cook, but I am not a baker. When I saw the kitchn's recipe for cake pops, however, I had to veganize them. I ordered a siftercake pan, and lollipop sticks from Amazon, and got to work on my plan. The timing couldn't have been more perfect - Seattle's Bake Sale for Japan was right around the corner.

Now, I'll let you in on a little secret - I backed out of all the precise measuring, sifting, etc., that baking requires, and used a box mix for the cake portion. But, if you've ever tried Cherrybrook Kitchen's vegan cake mixes, you would wholeheartedly support my decision. Especially, if you're more of a cook than baker - this mix will make you look good.

And here's how it went:

I started by baking the chocolate cake, according to the box directions. If you're braver than I am, you can use your favorite chocolate cake recipe, in place of my shortcut.

I let the cake cool completely. Then, came the fun part. In a large bowl, I broke the entire cake down into crumbs, with my hands. You know, like how one-year-olds are expected to do with their birthday cakes?
In a separate bowl, I whipped together:
  • 8 ounces of Tofutti cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups of confectioner's sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of Earth Balance vegan butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon of soy milk (and perhaps a little more when necessary)
Then, I mixed this creamy mixture into the cake crumbs (again, with my fingers!), until the two were completely combined, and I was left with this moist cake mixture (the last of which, you can see here):

I covered the mixture and refrigerated it for an hour, to firm it up. But, you can keep it refrigerated for a couple of days, also.
Time to start making the balls. I used a spoon to help me measure out equal portions of the cake mixture. I rolled each spoonful into a ball, and placed it on a baking sheet, covered with parchment paper.

I stuck the lollipop sticks in. And, then I stuck the tray in the freezer for 10 minutes, while I prepared the dipping chocolate and toppings.

To me, this was an important step - one of the issues with cake pops is that the cake ball can easily come off the lollipop stick. Freezing these for a few minutes helped me keep them together during the dipping.

I melted 12 oz. of vegan chocolate chips in a double boiler on the stove. I stirred the chocolate to keep it smooth, and then one at a time, dipped each cake pop in, until covered. Pulling it out, I covered each cake pop in coconut flakes or vegan sprinkles, (you can use any topping really - nuts, mini M&Ms, mini-marshmallows, colored sugar, etc.), and then returned the cake pop to the parchment paper to harden.

You'll eventually have a beautiful assortment, like such:

The first time you make them, not all of the cake pops will be perfect. (See below.) However, because I couldn't sell this, it was just for me. :)


And, then, I packged them, and took them off to Cake Spy in Seattle, where we raised $3,100 for the earthquake and tsunami relief efforts!

(Can you see my cake pops? They're on the right, over the blue card...!)

LET US KNOW: Have you tried making vegan cake pops? How did yours turn out? Any suggestions you'd offer?

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What's your favorite veg cookbook?

With so many veg cookbooks out there, I figured it was time to create a list of Veg Post favorites.

Some of my favorites include:

Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook: Crazy Delicious Recipes that Are Good to the Earth and Great for Your Bod

The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet

Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook

Leave a comment and let us know - what is your favorite veg cookbook, and what are some of your favorite recipes from that book?

One lucky commenter will win a copy of the veg cookbook of their choice!

(Contest closes at 11:59 PM, PDT, on Tuesday, April 5.)