The food at this year's VidaVeganCon was absolutely fantastic. I really can't rave about it enough. Happily, even if you weren't able to come to the conference, you can experience some of the eats because Chef Brad from the AT&T Conference center was gracious enough to share a few recipes with us!!
Now you can create your own mini-VVC by cooking up a few dishes and then going online and reading vegan blogs or Periscoping or just reading the PPK message boards while you eat. :)
What the VVC organizers and Chef Brad did especially well was to provide an array of foods at every meal, so that everyone of every vegan persuasion would be delighted with the options. The foods were fresh and abundant and flavorful, and there were always LOADS of various sauces and toppings and condiments that you could add to personalize your meal up the wazoo. I have never experienced anything like it.
~ Breakfast! ~
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I always wake up hungry, and I love the process of considering all my various options. Most days, I practice restraint and only go with one thing. But on special days like birthdays or VidaVeganCon, I really go hog wild.
left: Vegan Dollhouse and Zak makin' breakfast tacos!
The breakfast buffets were totally spectacular and pretty much my idea of heaven on earth. There were two huge long tables with all the fixin's for Breakfast Tacos. In case you didn't know, the good people of Austin are obsessed with tacos, so there will be a lot of taco information in all these VVC posts!
Each day had slightly different offerings... but this will give you a general idea: corn or flour tortillas, black beans, potatoes or tofu cubes or tofu scramble, fresh kale, Sweet Earth bacon, chorizo crumbles, SO MANY AVOCADOS cut in huge thick slices, bowls of nooch, mutlitudes of salsa & hot sauce choices, house-made coconut bacon, vegan cheddar shreds, fresh herbs for garnishing... Swoon. Just thinking about it is making my heart flutter all over again.
Left: Miyoko of Miyoko's Creamery at the Artisan Toast Bar
Right Sarah of Queer Vegan Food at the glorious coffee bar
Each morning there was also a long table with the Artisan Toast Bar -- with many different kinds of breads and spreads... enough to keep everyone happy.
The coffee and tea bar requires special mention. Happily, this table of hot beverages was up all day long. Hot water for tea, Hot coffee, and decaf coffee. Plus about 6 different creamer options (!!!!!), simple syrup, stevia, and all sorts of sweetener choices. Plus an abundant bowl of mini marshmallows for sprinkling in your coffee (or... uh... for eating). Every time I went back for more coffee, I ran into Sarah there. I think she and I are on the same coffee wavelength. Seriously, this coffee station was the thing of dreams.
top: fruit salad, hot coffee, chia pudding, breakfast taco with black beans & baked tofus & salsa & avo, Sweet Earth brand bacon (yum!), and lemony raw kale. I went back for more.
bottom: Chef Brad's *amazing* cashew yogurt and chia pudding. Plus a giant tray of melon and bowls of granola and Manitoba Harvest Hemp Seeds.
Even with all that, guess what I really fell in love with? It was that crazy-good chia pudding and cashew yogurt! I've made chia pudding for myself many times, but it has never turned out this yummy. And the cashew yogurt was totally fantastic: thick and tangy. My fave was to make a little parfait with some chia pudding and some yogurt, and then sprinkle on some of the granola and hemp seeds. I went back for seconds of this stuff both days.
i love you, little chia pudding & cashew yogurt parfait.
~ Lunch! ~
Kale & Chard Salad bar ~ with quinoa, hummus, loads of avocado and coconut bacon, Sweet Earth Seitan, and noochy abundance. Plus a guava tapioca parfait cup with candied ginger - that dessert was weird and fun and delicious!
Taco Bar: There were options for corn tortillas, flour tortillas, or big butter lettuce leaves. Plus, kale, guacamole, fried tofus, cabbage slaw, seitan and/or raw chorizo, Heidi Ho cheese (I love that stuff!), and Chef Brad's totally delicious Mac n Cheese. Everyone was absolutely wild for that that mac n cheese. I don't even usually like vegan mac n cheese, but I went back for seconds. Happily, this is one of the recipes that he so graciously shared with the VVC community, after everyone was going on and on about how good it was. Check out the recipe on the VVC blog here.
~ SNACKS! ~
You can't go through a whole day of conferencing without a little snack or two... and the kind folks in the kitchen provided us with tasty snacks during the various breaks. There were some delicious cookies and bars, and also big plates of fruit (which I also partook of with great enthusiasm).
On the last break on the last day of the conference, we had some very special snacks delivered to us by Kristen at Capitol City Bakery. CCB is a totally stellar, all-vegan bakery in Austin that makes top-notch, beautiful, creative and delicious treats. Kristen was a panelist and an attendee at the conference, and she brought in copious amounts of huge heart-shaped cookies covered in colorful sprinkles. Within seconds, there were at least 45 pictures of these cookies on Instagram, because they were just that special.
I would especially like to mention how exceptional this food was, given that it was prepared by Chef Brad and his kitchen staff, who (as far as I know) are not vegans or even vegan-food specialists. The food was hands-down the best vegan food I've had prepared for me by non-vegans! The variety and quality spoke volumes about this kitchen team. I was so impressed that I actually came right home and wrote Chef Brad a thank you letter. It's obvious that he is a creative, open-minded foodie who enjoys the challenge of cooking delicious food for all people.
In addition to thanking him in my letter, I also confessed to my surprising love for his chia pudding and cashew yogurt. I was too sheepish to ask for both recipes, so I asked for his chia pudding recipe. Happily, he responded right away and included both recipes -- and gave me the go-ahead to share them both with you all. What a guy!
Vida Vegan Con Recipes!
1 cup water
1 cup cashews
1 teaspoon Probiotics
Blend cashews and the water until smooth in a food processer (robot coupe)
Add the probiotic and blend on low speed until incorporated
Place the mixture in a clean mason jar and cover loosely
Let the mixture sit in a warm location for 24 hours
Chia Seed Pudding
½ cups chia seed
2 ½ cups water
Put chia and water into a container and mix thoroughly
Allow to sit in the refrigerator overnight (at least 12 hours)
*Once the chia gel is made, add the following ingredients:
2 cups fresh nut or seed milk (I used hemp)
2 cups blueberries
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
¼ cup cinnamon
½ teaspoon cardamom
Stevia for sweetness (to taste)