Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Vegan Shoe Review! JSport Spin Encore

This is the park where we take the dogs most often for their dog walks. It's right near our house and it has a beautiful view of the hills and the valley. It's especially gorgeous in the golden light at the end of the day.


It's time for another Shoe Review! Today I'm reviewing the new Spin Encore vegan slip-on shoe from JSport (a sub-brand of Jambu.com). As you probably know, I am a vegan brand representative for Jambu - they make a ton of great vegan shoes for women in lots of different styles. This Spring I'll be reviewing four new vegan spring styles from Jambu.


The Spin Encore is a lightweight and sporty little ballet flat. This is an excellent little kick around shoe for fun days and dog walks and errands. The fabric is mostly a stretchy mesh, so they are quite breathable, with some vegan "microbuck" at the toe and heel. The insole is comfy, and there's a bit of arch support, but not a ton - so take that into account. I find them very comfortable and airy without socks - my feet haven't gotten clammy or hot at all, even on warm days.

After a real, genuine winter with so much rain, these shoes arrived just in time when the sun finally came back. I've really been loving the freedom to take the dogs out for walk with no jacket and no cozy socks! Ahhh, the spring air! These little Spin Encore shoes are super lightweight, and they almost feel like slippers. The mesh is quite snug and holds on tight. Even with all the pebbles and decomposed granite on these paths, I don't get any annoying pebbles in my shoes. A major attribute!

Even though they're quite light, the rubber soles are durable enough that you don't feel every single rock or pebble under your shoe. So they're light, but I don't think they feel flimsy.

It was so hard for me to get Snoopy to sit still like that. He's never been very bright and also generally just loves to do whatever he wants to do, and on top of all of that, he's also losing his hearing... so the whole situation is fairly helpless! ha ha. He never really cared what we were asking him to do in the first place and now we can't even tell if he heard us or not!



For me these feel true to size, maybe a bit large? If you run a little small, I would probably order down a size... or try both. I have one foot that's a bit smaller than the other (annoying!) and it's a bit looser in this shoe than the other foot.

I've worn these with my yoga tights and with my *actual pants* (ha ha, I feel so fancy when I am wearing non-yoga tights). I think they'd also be cute with skirts, but I haven't busted out any skirts yet this season. They're a little dressy... casual dressy, if that's a thing!


High Fives!

Overall, I really like these shoes. They're light and stretchy and fun to wear. I love how they look nicer than a lot of my sandals or flip flops, but still feel sporty and feminine. Obviously the doggos are pretty excited about them too! All our dogs like "high fives," but no one loves it quite as much as Dottie Bonkers (on the right). She absolutely LIVES for High Fives. If you look closely, you'll see that both doggies are actually airborne in these pictures! So cute. 

**COUPON CODE!**
Use the coupon code VEGANEATS19 at Jambu.com for 20% of all styles 
- good through June 30th, 2019 -
Keep in mind that not all Jambu shoes are vegan, so check out their vegan shoes here



full disclosure: I was sent these shoes for review from Jambu, 
the opinions expressed are entirely my own! 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Stevie Appreciation Party! & Cookie Recipe!

Last weekend we had a super extravaganza Stevie Appreciation Party to celebrate our beloved pup Stevie Wonder. If you follow me on FB or Instragram, then you already know that our Stevie has cancer. We just found out last month, and it was a total shock to us. She didn't have any symptoms at all, and we were just taking her in for her annual check-up and shots... It was a whirlwind of shock and appointments and hope and sadness. In the end, we learned that her cancer was fairly advanced and has already spread to her lungs and lymph, and she also has kidney disease on top of it all. It was a really tough few weeks. Right now we have her on some cancer meds, kidney meds, and we've modified her diet. After some rocky adjustments for all of us, she seems to be tolerating her medicines pretty well, and it seems like we will be able to slow down the inevitable... and enjoy at least a little more time together.

We immediately began spoiling her and doting on her with MAXIMUM ZEAL and she has been absolutely loving all the attention. Finally!! Stevie is a special dog who really remembers people that she loves, and we had the idea to have a party to celebrate her specialness... and to do it while she is still healthy and strong enough to enjoy a party.

So, that's just what we did!
Let's get this party started! 


We started off the party with a group walk at one of Stevie's favorite parks. We planned to walk off leash... but when we arrived, the animal services truck was there, looking for scofflaws like us!! Ha ha. Luckily, after about a half lap or so, he finally took off, and we went back to our lawless ways. Doesn't Stevie look happy prancing in the grass? 


Stevie and her friend Saffron

I wasn't sure if the Stevie Appreciation Party would end up being more for us humans, or if Stevie would actually enjoy it - but my fears were put to rest immediately on the walk, when Stevie was absolutely BEAMING. Of course, she always enjoys a good dog walk, but she was about 10 times happier and more prancy-pants than usual. We tied a sparkly gold bow around her neck, and she looked so pretty. She was very jaunty and had a great time getting lots of pets, sniffing in the gopher holes, leading the pack and seeing all her friends. As you can see, we also got lucky with really beautiful weather! 


After the walk, we all headed back to our house... 
All over the house I had hung up special Stevie Wonder banners like the one on the mantle here - with all sorts of photos from her life and her activities: beach days, snoozes, forest adventures, sunbathing, and so on. I loved the way they turned out. 


Stevie Wonder Magnets! 
For party favors, I ordered a whole bunch of magnets from Shutterfly with a bunch of my favorite pictures of Stevie. I set them all out and let everyone pick out their own favorites (after I picked my own favorite for our fridge of course!). 


Stevie Wonder temporary tattoos! 

I purchased some temporary tattoo printer paper online and made two different designs - one had Stevie's pretty face with a big red heart and the other was a classic sailor tattoo kind of design. They came out super well and they were so much fun. I currently have one on each bicep! ha ha. I had a little tattoo station set up with the tattoos, and washcloth and instructions. Why are temporary tattoos so much fun? 

We had such a beautiful collection of people come to our little festivity. There were a handful of special people that I knew we had to invite (our housesitters - past and present, for example)... and then I put out an open call to anyone who self-identified as being a friend of Stevie and wanted to spend some quality time with her. It is so sweet how many friends Stevie has. 


Stevie Coloring! 

I made a few coloring sheets with different Stevie drawings and set up a little coloring station. Coloring is fun and meditative and an excellent way to reflect on how wonderful Stevie is. I loved seeing all the busy folks engrossed in their coloring! 

Stevie's friend Kendra did an extra super special coloring job that even captured Stevie's perfect little pink piglet belly. 



many busy happy hands... 


Treats for Stevie!
Of course we had some treats up on the mantle so that anyone who wanted to could give Stevie a little treat. We had a couple of her favorite (non-vegan) treats, and also some steamed green beans and steamed broccoli - which are two of her all time favorite treats. Ha ha. I think she learned that from Yummers Potatoes. In fact, this morning I put some of the leftover steamed broccoli in her breakfast bowl and it was the very first thing she ate! So cute. 


Our youngest party attendee, W. is a devout lover of cats, but even he enjoyed the Stevie party. He especially had so much fun giving Stevie pieces of the broccoli. It was extremely cute. He was dangling it around and Stevie was watching that little broccoli floret with rapt attention and finally W's mom said "you gotta give it to her, she's not a cat!" Ha ha. 


Dog Treat Decorating!

Stevie's friend Kendra had the brilliant idea that I should make dog biscuits that everyone could decorate for the party. "It's just what you do at your other parties but for dogs!" Ha ha. After lots of looking around I decided to make this very simple and appealing Pumpkin & Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits from It Doesn't Taste like Chicken. This recipe was really wonderful - it only has oats, peanut butter, and pumpkin! It was easy to make and the doggies really love these treats. We left some of the decorated cookies on the table after the party, and while we were out the doggies breached the "no dogs on the coffee table" rule to eat them all! A good sign! 

For the Doggie "Frosting" I used a recipe I found on YouTube: 1/2 c unsweetened yogurt, 1/2 cup tapioca starch. I used 1 tsp each of beet powder, spirulina, and turmeric for the food coloring. Special thanks to Connie for bringing me some of her homemade yogurt when I realized at the last minute that mine had gone bad! 

Connie also brought along a big tray of adorable Peanut Butter PupCakes! Cupcakes for pups! I didn't get a proper picture until after several of them had been enjoyed or taken home for other pups... but you can see them on the right there. Oh my gosh the dogs love these! After the party, I've stored the extras in our fridge and every morning I split one for the pups to share with breakfast. They love it! Here's the recipe that she used. 


*reserved for Stevie Wonder*

This part of the sofa is by far Stevie's favorite place to rest. When we have parties, we usually force the doggies to just accept their fate and surrender their sofa zone to our human guests. But, not this time! We made a special sign for our guests to know that this spot was reserved for Stevie. Looks like someone can't read! *cough* Snoopy! *cough*

In the end she was too busy enjoying her own party - eating treats, taking selfies, and being appreciated to spend much time in her favorite spot! 


Stevie Selfie Frame!

I made a little selfie frame for folks to get pictures with Stevie, if they could be lucky enough to convince her to sit still and look at the camera! I think Connie got one of the best pictures with Stevie! I also love this cute picture of my mom and dad in the I Heart Stevie frame! <3 cuties.="" frame.="" p="" stevie="" such="">


Human Treats!
You might be wondering if there was any food involved in this festive gathering... there sure was! But, to be honest, it wasn't my main focus. I made a big batch of homemade hummus, topped with toasted sesame oil and dukkah. I also ad-libbed a batch of some white bean and pesto dip, which turned out really well. I had several kinds of crackers, including some GF rice crackers, some baguette slices, and the requisite fresh veggies. 


I also had some Bitchin' Sauce - Have you ever tried this stuff? My aunt Sara got some for us and it's really rich and super savory. It packs quite a punch and I really like it.

The Cashew Cheese is the original flavor from Treeline. I love their cheeses, and clearly other people do because this was totally gone in no time at all. I should have bought two of them! 


My friend Connie brought these super cute (and classically delicious) sugar cookies in the shape of dog biscuits.  Ha ha, I loved that these human  treats were in the shape of dogs treats. We had all the dog treats carefully displayed on the mantle, and the human treats on the table... just so there would be no confusion!! 


Scottie Dog Licorice

I love licorice and one of our little nicknames for Stevie is "Licky Licorice" because she loves to lick our hands for as long as we will tolerate it. So these licorice scottie dog candies were one of the first things I thought of for our party. They are SO good. I'm happy that there are still a bunch left in the bag... 

I didn't get great pictures of the whole set up, but we also had Chocolate Bark (get it??), and I even got black paper plates and black napkins from the party store - in homage to Stevie's beautiful black coat. 


STEVIE PAWS

Mr. VE&T and I have wanted to invent a cookie recipe called "Stevie Paws" for the longest time. The thing is, Stevie has PERFECT little paws. They are tidy and adorable and irresistible... and they are also completely off-limits. No one is allowed to touch them. Back when she was a youngster, this was the single element that caused her to fail her Canine Good Citizen Test. She did everything perfectly but absolutely refused to let that lady touch her paws. No Way. 

So, we've been thinking about this mythical cookie for so long... but nothing quite sounded special or "Stevie" enough. It couldn't just be another chocolate and peanut butter cookie, because Stevie is not just another cute dog. You guys, she is SO SPECIAL. It's hard to explain. So the cookie had to be special too. Well, leave it to Mr. VE&T... all of a sudden he's like "What about Mushrooms?" and I was like "YES." I knew Stevie Paws were finally going to happen.

Why Mushrooms?? There's something wild and earthy and Stevie. She almost seems like a wild dog. When you take her to the forest, she just comes to life - she puffs up and rushes around and sniffs and moves with clarity and purpose. It's so beautiful. Also, Stevie is unique! And have you ever heard of a cookie with mushrooms in it before??? The mushrooms were just RIGHT. So here's the recipe, featuring Porcini Mushroom Powder, Black Cocoa Powder, Dried Figs, and Hazelnuts. These are fancy cookies because Stevie is fancy and worth it. No apologies!! 

Also, believe it or not, they turned out SO WELL and they are so interesting and delicious. You can't quite taste the mushroom, but the cookies have an elusive earthiness about them that is so lovely and perfect with the hazelnuts and figs. The black cocoa is entirely optional, but gives a more delicate flavor and a MUCH darker color for a satisfying cookie that looks more like a real Stevie Paw!


Stevie Paws
Makes 12 cookies
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup hazelnut meal
2 Tbsp regular cocoa powder
2 Tbsp black cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 T chopped roasted hazelnuts
3 T chopped dried figs
3 T chocolate chips
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp porcini powder*
1/4 tsp black pepper
*note: my porcini powder wasn't brand new, so it's possible that if you have strong, fresh porcini powder, 2 tsp could be enough. 
--
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract (or hazelnut extract if you can find it!)
1/4 cup canola oil
--
2 Tbsp chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, hazelnut meal, regular cocoa powder, black cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, chopped roasted hazelnuts, chopped dried figs, chocolate chips, sugar, salt, porcini powder, and black pepper.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, vanilla extract, almond extract, and canola oil.

Add the wet ingredients into the dry and use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to integrate the ingredients all together. Scoop walnut-sized balls of dough and place them on the lined baking sheet, a couple inches apart. Use the back of a spoon to gently flatten the globs just a little bit. Use the extra 2 Tbsp of chocolate chips to press a few chocolate chips into the top of each cookie.

Bake for 11 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a cooling rack. Enjoy! And think of Stevie!

*I'd like to thank Dreena Burton for her bajillions of excellent cookie recipes. I used an old recipe of hers as the foundation for this recipe, and tweaked it from there. Thanks Dreena! 



When Stevie is very happy and very excited she spreads her cute little toes.
Otherwise, she keeps them all very close together, each in their proper place! 


This is Stevie getting some love from her very first human friend, Toni. I've known Toni all my life, and it just happened that we both got new dogs around the same time. Back when Stevie was our only dog she and Toni's dog Lily were in dog training class together. For a while, Stevie and Lily were friends and had play dates. Eventually, they both became less interested in playing with other dogs, and the playdates came to an end, but Stevie has never lost her abiding love for Toni! 


For now, our sweet Stevie still seems so happy and healthy, it's hard to actually fathom that she has this disease inside her beautiful and perfect little body.  Who knows how much time we will have together with her? In the meantime, we are determined to let her have lots of fun and get as much love and snugs as she wants!! Our Stevie party was so wonderful, and by the end of the evening, she was absolutely sated with treats and activity and attention... standing in the middle of the room, just barely able to keep her eyes open. It was so cute! 








Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Weekend of Yoga Retreat Eats and Family Brunch!

Hello dear readers! I had a fun weekend this past weekend... and there was lots of good food involved! A perfect reason for a blog post! 

On Saturday I taught an all-afternoon "mini-retreat." It's one of my favorite formats for teaching - we do a nice long, proper asana practice, followed by a teaching on yoga philosophy, and some pranayama (breathing). It's a fun day, but it's a long day, and I like to give people a little break and a treat after the asana practice. You gotta re-fuel!

I made three different treats - all gluten-free (just in case!), some with chocolate, and some without. I like to cover several bases, so that various preferences can find something appealing. I also usually try to make treats that don't feel super indulgent or decadent... that never feels like a good fit after lots of yoga. The cookies I decided to make were Snickerdoodles and Turtle Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Dates (both from Oh She Glows), and Golden Milk Macaroons (I combined this recipe from Minimalist Baker and the Macaroons recipe from Oh She Glows Everyday). I really increased the recommended spices in the macaroons because I wanted a real golden milk punch. I think the OSGE called for a little too much salt... next time I would definitely use less. Nonetheless, they turned out pretty cool and the yogis gobbled them up. I'm curious to return to this recipe and tweak it some more! 


Of course it's good to have some fresh fruit too, so in winter that means citrus! I love mandarins - easy to peel and yummy to eat! 

Last time I taught a mini-retreat, one of my students brought a big bowl of nuts and everyone ate them up. But hey! I'm supposed to provide the treats to them! So, I took the hint, and included a big bowl of nuts. Why didn't I think of that sooner? Of course it's nice to have some savory nuts in the snack offerings!  

I always have hot water and a selection of various teas, and I always make a big jar of "spa water." This time around I put in lemon slices, orange slices, lime slices, and fresh ginger slices. I love spa water! 

The workshop was a great success and we had a full house (I accidentally over-booked by two spots, and everyone was super gracious about it). Luckily there were plenty of treats and even a few left over, which means no one went hungry! Huzzah!


The very next morning, my parents and my nephew came over for a lovely and relaxed brunch together. My nephew had been home from college for a week, but I'd been busy preparing for my workshop and hadn't connected with him. It was so wonderful to have breakfast together - just the few of us. We had a lovely conversation, and a very sweet morning together. 

In lieu of spending any time preparing brunch the day after my retreat, we went down to the Bagelry right near our house and got a whole selection of bagels. Just like that, breakfast is sorted!  

To go with the bagels, we had a big selection of spreads. My mom brought along some cream cheese (not vegan!) for those non-vegans, and I got some "tofu del fuego" topping from the Bagelry (it's a spicy tofu spread - so good), tomato slices, green onions, olives, sunflower sprouts, earth balance, black berry jam... Lots of options to go sweet or savory. We all had fun doctoring up our own bagels, just the way we liked them. 



In case someone needed a more legit sweetie, I also made a half-batch of Lemon Poppyseed Muffins from Vegan Brunch. I love this recipe, it's flawless and quick! A half batch made six muffins, which was perfect for the five of us. I sent the leftovers with my nephew to take back up to college. Also, isn't my little chihuahua platter just the cutest? I got it when we were in Stockholm and I love it. 

my mom brought some grapes and they looked so pretty!
They were perfectly sweet and yummy. 
It was a really lovely morning together. I hope you had a pretty nice weekend too. 


Sunday, January 13, 2019

Yummy Eatz & Cookbooklette Winners!

Healthy Potato Soup from the Oh She Glows App

We've been having a lot of rainy weather and I am loving it so much. The rain helps me feel cozy and makes me feel like I have permission to cuddle up and read and draw and snuggle the pets. It's so nice. It also gives me an excuse to make soup over and over and over again, which is great because that's kinda all I want to do. I love soup so much. 



I made this "Healthy Potato Soup" from the OSG App. I really like that app! I don't use it all that often, but sometimes I just don't want to sift through cookbooks looking for dinner plans, and I like knowing I can always find something healthy and appealing on the app. I almost never eat potatoes, so it was fun to make potato soup. It's got a bunch of fresh spinach in it, which is what turns it so green. I loved the super smooth and velvety texture of this soup, but my favorite part was the crunchy, seasoned "potato croutons" that were made with roasted potato dice. 


(transparency alert: I am re-using an old picture of my favorite borscht recipe!)

I made a huge batch of borscht, which I guess I was too busy eating to photograph, so I am reusing an old picture. This is the *amazing* recipe from an amazing old cookbook called "Voluptuous Vegan." The really miraculous thing is that Mr VE&T had decided that he "doesn't like borscht" for a while now and it has been causing me great emotional grief. It's funny because he loves beets, but claimed not to like borscht. Meanwhile, I love borscht, but am not totally crazy about plain ol cooked beets. ANYHOW, Mr VE&T reluctantly agreed to try my borscht again, and loved it!! HUZZAH. Let there be borscht!!!


Tomato Soup with White Beans and Roasted Garlic, from Veganomicon
This is pretty much a dream lunch for me! 

The next soup I made, at Mr. VE&T's request was the Tomato Soup with White Beans and Roasted Garlic from Veganomicon. Mr VE&T is pretty much obsessed with tomato soup and rice, and I particularly love this recipe because of the addition of the white beans (a bit more body and protein) and the roasted garlic (2 whole heads! maximum umami oomph!). I had some leftover soup for lunch with sauteed kale, a Chickpea Cutlet, some roasted cauliflower, and some kiwis that my friend gave me. Ahhhh. I just love a huge, hearty lunch. 


Stuffed Shells!

I also made a big batch of stuffed shells... one of my all-time favorite foods! Stuffed shells are kinda like lasagna, but feel like less work. I used my own semi-recipe from this old post: I sauteed a couple huge leeks into a wonderful smooth texture, made a batch of tofu ricotta, sauteed/browned some mushrooms with some sherry... then I added a bit of nooch, extra sherry, and miso to the whole shebang. So good! Mr. VE&T said this was my best batch of stuffed shells ever, and I think I agree! 


Eating out at Solaris

We don't eat out very often... I usually prefer cooking at home (or getting take out from our local Thai spot)... but one of my beloved yoga students gave me a tip-off that a local restaurant called Solaris had lots of vegan options on their menu. It was really good! AND they had TWO vegan appetizers (we chose the hummus plate), an appealing vegan entree (edamame cakes with veggies in curry), AND a vegan berry crisp for dessert!! It was so exciting that they even had a dessert! I can't remember the last time I ate out at omni restaurant that offered a vegan dessert. What a fun date night, we would definitely eat here again! 


Chocolate-Covered Caramels

Lest you think I'm just eating soup and kale all day (ha ha ha), I also made some chocolate covered caramels! I used an old recipe that I printed out from the internet ages ago. Do you have a favorite caramel recipe? One of my pals had been struggling to make vegan caramel, so I told her I'd show her what I knew. Making candy is so weird... it requires so much faith and patience! Ours took FOREVER to get to temperature. The caramels came out with a great texture, perfectly gooey. I tried to make mine look beautiful with covered chocolate, but I messed up the tempering... so the chocolate also turned out unattractive. The caramel also gooed through the chocolate... I wonder why this happened this time? 

I know Lagusta of Lagusta's Luscious is coming out with a cookbook soon and I will be ALL OVER that biz. I'm sure she'll be able to give me some good tips for making my caramels more beautiful and perfect. In the meantime, these not-very beautiful caramels are certainly sufficiently delicious! 


COOKBOOKLETTE Giveaway WINNERS!!

Congratulations to abrimmer, Sarra, vegan1, Beth, Joan, Hobbs, Jennifer (one-sonicbite), Liz S, Jacquie, Apricot, and Laurie! You're all winners of my annual Holiday Cookbooklette! 

Vegan1, Joan, and Liz S. - send me your mailing address at ameyfm at yahoo dot com
so I can send you your cookbooklette!