And yet, I have a secret joy : I love looking at holiday gift guides. I just like reading about all the cool goodies and books and treats that exist, even if I never buy them. So, in light of that, I thought I'd present you with some of my favorite finds of the year, as well as a few stand-by favorites-- books, treats, and fun stuff. You can buy them for people on your list, or you can put them on your own wish list, or you can just read about them and then give everyone some applesauce and homemade cookies. ha ha! If you're a fellow homemade-gifts fan like me, be sure to make it to the end of the post - I've got a giveaway for a copy of Joni's amazing book "Vegan Food Gifts." Yeah!
Wax Orchards Chocolate Sauce ~ Freddy Guys Amazing Hazelnuts ~ Julie's Original Gluten Free Cake Mixes
Wax Orchards Chocolate Sauce
Have you ever tried this stuff? I love it so much. It's entirely sweetened with fruit, it's thick and fudgey, and it's only 45 calories for a whole tablespoon. I first found this stuff many, many years ago when I lived in Seattle after graduating from college. Happily, it's vegan, and delicious. When I looked up the link, I saw that now that have peppermint and orange fudge sauces too. Those sound great, but I've never tried them! I love putting this stuff on my vanilla ice cream, or - more commonly - just eating a little dab of it when I want a chocolatey blast.
Freddy Guys Amazing Hazelnuts
These are the best hazelnuts ever, anywhere in the world. I first found them at the PSU farmers market in Portland, and fell in love. Then, I tried buying roasted hazelnuts other places - and even tried roasting my own. Nothing compares to these. Now, I order these online and always get enought to give my family and friends for holiday gifts. They're perfectly fat and plump and perfectly roasted and consistently great, one after the next. Pro tip: They are really good with chocolate chips.
Julie's Original Gluten Free Cake Mixes
I finally tried these mixes recently and was super impressed - I plan on giving a couple boxes of these as gifts to some of my gluten-free friends. I also plan on using my last box of the Fudge Brownie Mix to make brownies for my gluten-free yoga students!
Sweet & Sara Marshmallows
Sara makes the most crazy delicious vegan marshmallows. They come in classic vanilla, many other great flavors, snowman shapes, reindeer shapes, smores, and my favorite: Toasted Coconut. She also has the sweetest Facebook feed, in which she shares the joys and toils of being a small business owner and her overflowing love for her darling parents, who work with her at the marshmallow factory. You can buy delicious treats, support an awesome family, and feel doubly good about your purchase!
Just Great Stuff
I've noticed that most powdered peanut butter fans seem to prefer PB2, but I like this stuff. It has pretty much the same nutritional profile, but unlike PB2, Just Great Stuff Powdered Peanut Butter is organic and GMO-free. This especially matters to me with the chocolate variety, because organic chocolate has a much higher likelihood of being grown and processed without slave labor.
Jeanette Zeis Ceramics
Oh man. Swoon!! Jeanette's work is SO beautiful. I've been coveting her work and hoping desperately to win one of her exclusive annual "Vegan MoFo" mugs for years. Last year I finally broke down and bought myself two small blue cereal bowls and two cheery yellow plates. The bowls have a little bird stamped on the other side, and the yellow plates say "vegan" and have a little heart-shape stamped into them. You've definitely seen these dishes make frequent appearances on my blog and on my Instagram account. I love them so much. Beautifully crafted, perfectly glazed, sunny and clearly made with love.
Mat and Natt Bag
A while back, I was looking high and low for a new purse. I had so many picky things that I wanted in my "perfect bag." Then, along came the VidaVegan Con conference in 2013, and I spotted this turquoise Mat and Natt bag and it was love at first sight. I couldn't stop thinking about it, and my awesome mom bought it for me - right then and there! - for a birthday present. I've used this bag every day, rain or shine, around the world for about 18 months now and it is truly as good as new. No signs of wear, as pretty and lovely and functional as ever. Mat and Natt makes loads of bags, wallets, and accessories - all vegan (!), for men and women, all very stylish. They aren't cheap, but based on my experience, they're worth the investment.
VidaVeganCon 2015 ticket!
While we're on the topic of VidaVeganCon, did you know that the next best-ever-vegan-extravaganza-little-conference-that-could is coming up in May of 2015 in Austin Texas??!! It's gonna be so super awesome. I'll even be there as a speaker (and as a fellow attendee). Put it on your wish list folks, the VVC is such a great time.
Elephant Sweatshirt from Herbivore
How about some fun goodies from Herbivore? You can buy some for your friends and family, and put some on your wishlist too! Over the years, I've got tees, sweatshirts, buttons, stickers, wallets, jewelry, cards, and cookbooks all from Herbivore. I have at least 4 different versions of the "Compassion is Invincible" t-shirt, and my recent favorite is the bright blue Elephant fleece sweatshirt. It's cozy and beautiful. You can probably find something awesome for most people on your list at Herbivore - and you'll be supporting a super awesome vegan-owned store too!
Jambu Esmerelda Boots
Truth be told, I am usually wearing flip-flops. Since I'm often on my way to or from teaching yoga, i like to be able to easily kick off my shoes. My second most common pair of shoes is probably my bike shoes. But sometimes, I wanna get out of my yoga clothes and feel like a legitimate member of society. These Jambu boots are so pretty and so comfy and I always feel swanky and awesome when I wear them. They give me a little swagger in my step! They're quite warm too - I think they're lightly lined inside - so they keep my feet stylish and cozy all at once.
Tom's Vegan Platform Wedges
Sometimes I even go all the way out and put away my yoga shorts and put on a skirt! Imagine that! People always seem a bit surprised to learn this, but I like wearing heels. It makes me feel tall and fancy. I've got 3-4 pairs of heels in my closet, but once I found these, they immediately became my favorite pair. Because they're platform wedges, you get the height without much pressure on your feet. They're really comfortable, totally vegan, and really pretty too. Plus, they're on sale on Zappo's right now!
Merrell Vegan Hiking Boots
I just bought these recently, when my old pair of non-vegan hiking boots finally bit the dust (after 15 years). These Merrell boots are vegan and comfy and pretty and my feet feel really secure in them. It's so great that there are so many vegan hiking boot options these days!
Awesome Vegan Cookbooks!
The Oh She Glows Cookbook - by Angela Liddon
This book was the surprise hit of the year for Mr VE&T and me. I have made so many recipes from OSG that have become instant favorites in our household. I absolutely love the style of Angela's recipes - healthy (without being obsessive), fresh, textured, delicious (!), and easy. There are super healthy meals, indulgent treats, and everything in between. I am a total convert, and I've already bought this book for a few people this year.
Salad Samurai ~ by Terry Hope Romero
Terry's salad book was another of my top favorites this year! SO many delicious, creative, and memorable salads that have graced our table thanks to this book. The recipes are organized by season (love this!), and are truly special. Left to my own devices, I can make a killer green salad, but don't really know where to go from there. You might think a whole cookbook dedicated to salads seems silly, but this book is definitely worth owning because the recipes are exciting and not like salads you've had before.
Vegan Casseroles ~ by Julie Hasson
I've really been enjoying the recipes in this book a lot - especially in the fall and winter with more family gatherings, and more of an appetite for warm, oven-baked hearty dishes. I think this is a really great book to have in your collection for those times when you want to cook a delicious and hearty meal to feed a crowd (or to feed yourself for a few days!). Plus, giving cookbooks to people who might also one day cook for you is also a very clever tactic - because then they will know what to make for you. Mwahaha!
Oatrageous Oatmeals ~ by Kathy Hester
I actually won this book from a giveaway, and I love it! It's chock full of creative recipes for oatmeal breakfasts, drinks, savory entrees, and treats. I am quite amazed at how many compelling uses Kathy has found for oats - and I have so many recipes bookmarked already!
Maybe, even after looking at all those fun gift ideas, you still just want to bake cookies and give homemade treats to your loved ones. Homemade gifts are always so special! Last week, Joni over at Just The Food asked me if I'd like to do a giveaway of her awesome book "Vegan Food Gifts." Heck, yeah!
a few of the goodies I've made so far from "Vegan Food Gifts:"
1. Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies ~ 2. Candied Orange and Lime Peels ~ 3. Savory Bar Nuts
As soon as I got my copy, I dove right in and got busy. I'm in the holiday spirit, y'all! I made two batches of candied citrus peel - a double batch of orange peels and a batch of lime peels (all with fruit from our own trees!). These were fun and easy. I have in mind to give some of these as gifts and to use the rest of it in holiday baking. Next I made a batch of the Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies. I got 40 cookies out of it! I'm hosting a vegan Holiday Cookie Party this weekend, so these will be up for swapping this weekend. I also made a batch of the Bar Nuts. These are amazing! Unfortunately I slightly over-roasted them just a tiny bit, but I rescued them before anything actually became too roasted to be tasty. Next time I think I'll lower the temp &/or the time a little bit. But the flavors are amazing: various dried herbs and a touch of sweetener combine for super, super tasty nut nibbles. I put some in the fridge for Mr. VE&T, and hid the rest from him so I can give it as gifts. Yum!
So, thanks to Joni, I'm delighted to host a giveaway for a copy of this great book just in time for the holidays to one lucky person. And, best of all - since Joni is so rad, this giveaway is open to everyone in the whole world! Ho ho ho!
To enter, just leave a comment here, about your favorite gifts to give or the best homemade gift you've ever received - and I'll pick a winner Thursday Dec 11th.