The Vegan Egg

Yes it’s true! Follow Your Heart recently created a product called The Vegan Egg. It’s a plant-based egg replaces that works well in baking or on its own. I decided to test it’s ability to mimic a scrambled egg: The true test.

The Vegan Egg is packaged in a small egg carton. The shape is universally recognizable as an egg carton. Inside, however, is a bag of yellow powder. I whisked a bit of the powder with cold water, as instructed on the package. It sure looked like an egg.

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I pushed it around the pan until it was fluffy. It took longer than it takes an actual egg to cook (10 minutes probably).

I tasted a bit. The texture was spot on! It wasn’t as “eggy” in flavor, which I found was a good thing. If you like more egginess, add a bit of kala namak (black salt from an Indian grocery).

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I put my egg in a taco with crumbled Field Roast Sausage and Parmela Creamery aged vegan cheddar shreds because I recently bought The Taco Cleanse cookbook and met real taco scientists and tacos seems like a great way to start the day.

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So what is the egg made of? Algal. That’s a type of algae. It’s got fiber and complete amino acids and is nutrient dense. My only complaint is that it’s over-packaged. It could be sold in a small bag and would be cheaper and less wasteful. I realize that the packaging is part of the draw. Maybe online reorders could be no frills.

I’ll make a quiche next!

Katzentempel: Germany’s first cat café

During my trip to Germany this past summer, I got to visit Café Katzentempel, Germany’s first cat café. What made this place extra special was the 100% vegan menu.

menus

Katzentempel (Cat Temple) is a wonderful café and restaurant in Munich. Students from the nearby university sipped on cappuccinos worked on laptops, while at other tables, groups dined on delicious vegan fare.

The food was ganz lecker (totally delicious) but the cats stole the show. Six rescued resident cats made themselves at home in the café.

Balou

Gizmo

Even the artwork was cat-themed.

cat art

I liked that the cats’ wellbeing was paramount. No flash photography and no manhandling of the cats allowed. Of course, we were lucky and some of the cats visited us. On their terms, of course—as cats prefer.

Jack naps

Ayla rests after a drink

Robin on his perch

Sleepy Saphira

I was lucky that one of the café owners was there so I learned firsthand about how the café was created. Thomas Leidner came from the world of finance but wanted to do something completely different. An ethical vegan, he knew the cats would be a huge draw, and would help him reach more people with delicious vegan food. He’s helping people improve their relationships with animals in more than one way!

Thomas and friends

Balou sees an opening on the calendar. Next time you’re in Munich, stop by—the cats will be waiting for you!

Balou and calendar

Vegan Philadelphia

I got to spend the 4th of July weekend in the City of Brotherly Love. My friend Donna and I enjoyed all the city had to offer: shopping, art, American history, and of course, food.

Philly is a great city to be vegan. We tried a few different vegan restaurants and found vegan options at omni restaurants. People knew what vegan was and were happy to accommodate me. Here’s the rundown:

Blackbird Pizzeria is a small, all-vegan casual dining environment. Order at the counter and your food will be brought to the table. I didn’t have a chance to try their pizza because I had a vegan Philly cheesesteak and the hottest seitan wings I’ve ever had. This meal was delicious! The cheesesteak was seitan-based too, making this a gluten-licious meal. The wings had a cool dipping sauce that redeemed me after every scorching bite.

blackbird pizzeria

Vedge is the opposite of Blackbird. A vegan fine dining experience, reservations recommended. The plates were small and artistic, making it perfect to try a starter, hot course, and side. I didn’t have a lot of room for dessert, but I ordered one anyway. We had soup, salad, golden beets, grilled tofu, Brussels sprouts, and cheesecake. Their cocktails are beautiful and refreshing.

vedge

Charlie was a Sinner is a dimly-lit fancy vegan bar. Small plates are great to nibble on while enjoying a cocktail. The kitchen is open late. I wasn’t too hungry at midnight, but I tried the crab cakes anyway.

crab cakes

At El Vez, the waiter helped me pick out tacos that I could veganize. It’s worth a stop at this restaurant for their house-made guac alone. The frozen cocktails are an added bonus.

tacos

The menu at Fuel proudly states that all salads and entrees can be made vegan, so that’s what I did. I had a healthy sandwich with tofu and tons of veggies. It was flavorful and healthy.

sandwich

While exploring the city, we grabbed quick meals here and there. It seemed like every place had at least a veggie burger—even the burger stand in Franklin Park!

veggie burger

The avocado toast with gazpacho and salad that we ate on the patio of a cute sandwich shop was a nice treat on a hot day.

toast and soup

We didn’t get a chance to try Hip City Veg or V Street, so I have at least two more reasons to go back to Philly.

Also, those wings!

Visiting the Cherokee Rose Inn

It’s no secret that Portland is a very vegan friendly city. But not everyone knows about a true gem, the all-vegan Cherokee Rose Inn, tucked away in Southeast Portland.

cherokee rose inn

photo c/o Cherokee Rose Inn

I usually stay in a hotel downtown when I visit Portland. To mix things up, on my latest trip to Rose City, hubby and I visited this lovely B&B.

Staying in a big house in a real neighborhood made us feel like locals. The inn is a true bed and breakfast, and is walking distance to Belmont Street, where you can eat and drink your fill of vegan food and libations at the Sweet Hereafter, and also not far to Stark Street, home of the world’s first vegan mini-mall: Sweet Pea Baking CompanyHerbivore Clothing, Food Fight Grocery, and Scapegoat Tattoo.

Proprietor sandy Miller is a welcoming host and strikes the perfect balance. She’s hospitable, but respected our privacy. A long-time vegan, she’s done a wonderful job decorating her beautiful home and providing creature comforts in the two upstairs guest rooms, sitting room, and bathroom. We stayed in the Eagle room, a spacious room with queen-sized bed, walk-in closet, and extra trundle bed.

We had already planned to eat our way through Portland’s many vegan restaurants, and were we ever delighted with Sandy’s breakfasts! We had Belgian waffles with coconut whipped cream and homemade sausage patties the first day–and coffee, tea, and freshly squeezed orange juice!

The second morning, we were treated to down-home Southern cooking, vegan style: biscuits and gravy, black-eyed peas, grits patties, greens, fruit–and of course that great OJ!

The Cherokee Rose Inn is a place you’ll be glad you visited. Next time you’re in Portland, stop by and tell Sandy, and her little dog Hamish, I say hi!

at the front door of the Cherokee Rose

Miyoko’s Kitchen: A vegan cheese game-changer

It happened again. I served Miyoko’s Creamery to a vegan friend today and:

“What is this? Where can I get some? Oh wow!”

miyoko's on a cracker

On New Year’s Eve, the same thing happened. I brought a wheel to a party and the omni host declared it the best thing she’s ever eaten. She promptly went in on an order with me.

Let me take a step back. Miyoko Schinner is a gourmet vegan food goddess who literally wrote the book on Vegan Artisan Cheese. People have been making and raving about her delicious vegan cultured nut recipes, but like many good things, they take time to make. Cheese doesn’t age in a day!

Luckily for people like me, who crave instant gratification, Miyoko began selling her creations.

miyoko's creamery

Every time I serve Miyoko’s, people gobble it up. It’s a great way to show non-vegans that vegan food is delectable. The vegans who try it are happy to have a cruelty-free savory cheese in their lives once again. It truly is a game changer.

When I share a wheel of Miyoko’s, I usually pick a spreadable style like Classic Double Cream Chive or Double Cream Sundried Tomato Garlic. I think these are my favorite. They’re very versatile. In addition to tasting great on a cracker or bagel, they make the best cheesy mashed potatoes or mac and cheese. I used Miyoko’s in the recipe for this dish.

mac n cheese made with miyoko's

Rustic Alpine is a sharp, harder cheese that I ate on crackers and crispy, toasted bread. The Smoked Chive Farmhouse is a smoky hard cheese that, while not bacon-y at all, will get you over any bacon cravings. The satisfaction is in the wood-smoked flavor. French Truffle is a real treat. It’s earth and mushroomy and tasted great spread of a cracker. Or, like I did with half a wheel, make a mushroom stroganoff dish.

pasta with Miyoko's

Those are only five of the flavors you can find on Miyoko’s site. She has others too that I will definitely be trying. Miyoko’s ships throughout the continental US. Orders arrive in two days, icy cold and safe in an insulated box. You can freeze the cheese, which is a great incentive to stock up.

The trouble is, you might eat it all right away!

Vegan mac and cheese

I’ve been to a few potlucks recently and I was running out of ideas for simple, delicious dishes to bring. So I thought about veganizing a traditional baked mac ‘n’ cheese casserole. I started off following the directions on the package of pasta and strayed wildly–with great success!

Ingredients:

16 oz elbow pasta
2 cups vegan cheese*
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 slice of bread
2 tbsp. margarine
2 tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. turmeric
salt to taste

Directions:

First, I brought a large pot of water to a boil (4-6 quarts). Then I added an entire box of elbow noodles and cooked them to al dente (firm).

While the pasta was cooking, I turned half a slice of bread (I used Dave’s Killer Bread) into bread crumbs in my food processor and set it aside for the topping. Then I crumbled 2 cups of vegan cheeses in the food processor and set it aside too.

food processor

* I combined five types of cheese to create the two cups needed for this recipe: Field Roast Chao Cheese Slices in Coconut Herb; Field Roast Chao Cheese Slices in Tomato Cayenne; Daiya Jalapeno Havarti; Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds; and Sundried Tomato from Miyoko’s Kitchen. Use whatever brands and flavors of vegan cheese you prefer.

In a small pot, I melted 2 tbsp. of Earth Balance margarine and added 2 tbsp. of flour and 2 cups of vegetable broth (I used a bouillon cube to create the broth). I added chili powder, turmeric, and black pepper, set the element to low, and whisked the mixture until it thickened.

The blend of spices and spicy cheeses gave this dish a nice kick. If you don’t like a lot of spice, you can use plain cheeses and less pepper.

broth and spices

When the pasta was ready, I drained it into a colander and poured the broth mixture into the big pot where the pasta was. I added the cheeses and stirred until it was mostly melted. Then I added the pasta back into the post and mixed it up well.

Finally, I scooped the whole thing into a 9′ x 9′ glass casserole dish, sprinkled the bread crumbs over the top, and baked it uncovered on 450 F for 10 minutes.

vegan mac n cheese

I let it cool a bit, covered it up, and took it to Christmas dinner with friends. Everyone loved it–even the non-vegans. One omni even said she would have been fooled if I hadn’t told her it was vegan. A compliment for sure!

Unilever drops lawsuit against Hampton Creek

Can you believe it? A couple of months ago, industry giant Unilever sued Hampton Creek over the use of the word “mayo.” Unilever, maker of Hellman’s mayonnaise, didn’t like that Hampton Creek named their eggless product Just Mayo.

Hampton Creek is a San Francisco-based food technology company that was founded in 2011. They focus on plant-based products and they currently produce Just Mayo and Just Cookies (both vegan). By comparison, Unilever is one of the oldest multinational companies, with over 400 brands in more than 190 countries. They’re the world’s largest producer of food spreads, with over 30% market share.

In a classic David vs. Goliath scenario, Unilever sued Hampton Creek over market share and claimed Hampton Creek is falsely advertising its product as mayo, even though it doesn’t contain eggs.

just mayo

Well Big Mayo lost this battle. They dropped the lawsuit amidst a flurry of bad PR. People were infuriated at the food giant’s bullying and sided with Hampton Creek. The lawsuit actually gave Hampton Creek millions of dollars in free publicity, and may people who’d never even heard of them vowed to buy Just Mayo on principle alone!

On a side, note, I encourage people not to buy any Unilever products for one other reason: They test on animals! Here’s some info on their testing (no graphic images), and an infographic with some of their most popular brands.

unilever

So, if you haven’t already, I encourage you to try Just Mayo. You can get it at Safeway, Costco, Whole Foods, Target, Walmart, and a host of other retailers.