Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Los Angeles Day One: WorldFest

“Toto, we are not in Kansas Pittsburgh anymore.”

Last week was my fourth trip to Los Angeles. Every time I go to LA I like it a little bit more. Each trip changes my opinion a bit more. You see different things. You experience the culture. You learn the language.

Los Angeles is like a different country to me. I don’t know what it is about LA, but there is something about it that feels foreign compared to all of the other places I have been in the USA. Maybe it is the culture of celebrity perfection. Perhaps it’s the free spirited way of life. I don’t know really. Whatever it is, life in LA amazes me.

I am dividing my trip into two posts, one about all the amazing restaurants and another about my first trip to WorldFest.

It is totally ironic that I ended up in LA on the same day as WorldFest, which is billed as Los Angeles’ largest Earth Day festival. Sign me up!

My trusty travel partner and I hopped into our rented Prius (so LA) and hit the freeway, venturing to Woodley Park on the outskirts of LA. Driving on the freeway is enough to make me want to take out a second life insurance policy, but nothing is going to get in my way of this festival.

Here is my Chubby Vegan recap of WorldFest

I have never seen that much vegan food in my life.
There were at least 12-15 food stands, each serving exclusively vegan food. In fact, WorldFest requires that only vegan food is served and sold at the festival. The craziest was the line at the Southern Fried Vegan BBQ, which served made to order fried loveliness. As delicious as that sounds, I was not about to wait in the enormous line. So…

I may have had the best Indian food ever.
Now, take this statement lightly because it’s been far to long since I have had any Indian food. I love Indian food. Sadly, most of the Indian places in Pittsburgh are buffets that use dairy. Boo! This plate, which doesn’t look very appetizing, was incredible. I don’t even remember what was on it, except that one of the sections was jackfruit. Who knew jackfruit was so good?! Plus, this may have been one of the best samosas I have ever had. Makes sense since the place was called Samosa House.

I saw Nathan Runkle from Mercy for Animals and he is definitely NOT a chubby vegan.
Don’t know why this is important, but I just felt like sharing. If you don’t know who he is, visit Mercy for Animals and read about him. He is a really cool guy, but I feel like I need to invite him over for dinner. I may get Italian grandma on him… "EAT! EAT!"

The whole festival was powered from solar energy.
I don’t know about you, but I think that is pretty freaking cool.

LA vegans folks are not quite the same as Pittsburgh vegans folks.
Don’t get me wrong; I think we could be great friends. But I literally walked in and looked at Kelly (my travel buddy) and said, “Well, we certainly are not in Pittsburgh anymore.”

There is just something about life in LA that is different. Part of me loves it and part of me is horrified by it. Remember that whole East coast, West coast rap feud? I think it started for a reason.

More from WorldFest after the jump…

Friday, May 27, 2011

Chick-O-Stick Cookies

Have you ever heard of Chick-o-Sticks?

They are very unusual candy that tastes pretty much like the inside of a butter-finger; a crunchy candy made of peanut butter and coconut. I had never heard of them until a few months ago and I started seeing them everywhere. 

I hosted an event at work around the same time that had a candy buffet. Low and behold, chick-o-sticks were on the buffet. When the event was over we had so much candy left over; literally pounds of candy. I took the chick-o-sticks and decided to do something creative with them.

What to do… what to do…

Chick-o-stick cookies sound like a good idea, right!?!?

When I first took these out of the oven I thought they were going to be a miserable failure. They looked terrible and didn't taste as good as I had hoped. But, after they cooled they were delightful and actually looked really cool; almost like a crackled Halloween cookie.

Whoever said you couldn’t use leftovers?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

One Year Vegan-Versary

This weekend marks my one-year “vegan-versary.” It was one year ago this weekend that I decided to make the jump from 7 years of vegetarianism to choosing a vegan lifestyle.

Memorial Day is a fitting time for a change in one’s life. Beyond its significance of celebrating the lives of fallen soldiers, Memorial Day has always meant a time of change and renewal for me. It marks the end of the school year for children across the country. It defines the beginning of summer. It was when, in 2003, I decided that giving up meat was the right thing to do.

It is a time to remember the past and hope for the future.

It also brings with it many celebrations. Fireworks, backyard parties, and the “opening of the pool” are traditions that happen right around this time at the end of May. This is my season and I think it is time to celebrate.

So how should I? One year of choosing a cruelty free life is so exciting to me that I just want to mark it in someway. But, I need your help. I have chosen 4 celebration ideas and I want you, my loving readers, to vote!
  1. Give away 3 copies of Skinny Bitch, the book that started it all for me.
  2. Host a vegan only summer barbecue at my house for family and friends.
  3. Set a goal to raise $500 for Farm Sanctuary through support from Chubby Vegan readers.
  4. Make my first video entry sharing how I make one of my favorite recipes.
Take the poll on the top of the right side of the page ----->
Take the poll on the top of the right side of the page ----->
Take the poll on the top of the right side of the page ----->
Take the poll on the top of the right side of the page ----->

The poll will close at midnight on Friday, May 27th.

Thank you for following me on my journey. Looking forward to seeing the results!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I Heart New York

I love New York.

I have made that clear here and here. From the first time I got off the train in Manhattan I knew there was something special about NY for me. I felt like Madonna when she arrived in New York and said, “take me to the middle of everything.”

Note: Most moments in my life can be directly correlated to a Madonna moment or song.

I jump at any chance I have to be in New York, which I really believe is the center of everything. Culture, art, food, scandal, love, live, and everything in between can be found in New York. GUSH

I was in New York last week for a brief work trip and had the chance to try out a couple vegan eateries. Here is the good, bad, and ugly… 

I have posted about One Lucky Duck before when they had a promotion on Daily Gourmet, but I finally had the chance to visit. First off, it was my first time in Chelsea Market and it was so fun! One Lucky Duck is tucked away in a large room of vendors and is predominately raw with lots of delicious juices, smoothies, and raw yum-yums. I asked for a smoothie suggestion and was led to the simple banana, cashew milk, and cinnamon. Seems so boring, but was so delicious. It was the perfect treat for a humid NY day. Yum!

The name of this place makes me chuckle, so I had to visit… Let me start with the positive. The atmosphere in this place is amazing. It is SO cute and just has that perfect level of underground NY that made me feel like Andy Warhol at a 1974 cafĂ©. I had the maple and tamari smoked tempeh, which was just lovely; a fusion of flavors that blended perfectly.

My travel partner got the red lentil and roasted cauliflower cakes. Sounds good, right? She took one bite and damn near spit it out. The cakes were spiced with curry, which she is NOT a fan of. Problem is the menu had NO mention of curry at all. We all know many people have a love / hate relationship with curry and it is a really strong flavor. Yet, they completely disregarded this and left no mention of it on the menu. My travel partner is a new vegetarian and I know how disappointed she was. Clearly, I was too. She ate around it, but I hate when people have to do that. So, if anyone from Caravan of Dreams reads this, I hope you will adjust your menu in the future. A simple change would lead to a world of difference.

Ice cream perfection after the jump…

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sweet Potato Lasagna

“Normalizing” vegan food is one of my favorite things.

I always say how often people get scared of what vegan food is. I had someone ask me once, “Did you try the food before you decided to go vegan?”

Why, yes. I have eaten a vegetable before.

Normalizing vegan food to me is about making things that don’t sound odd or scary to non vegans. I guess people get freaked out by words like seitan and tempeh. If you say tofu; it usually equals an instant nose scrunch.  That would never stop me from making it; I might just conveniently avoid saying it… (CV Disclaimer: Please tell me if you have a soy allergy. I don’t want you kicking it at my next chubby party)

This recipe is from one of the kings of normalizing vegan foods, VILF Rip Esselstyn. Rip is the author of the Engine 2 Diet, which is an excellent book detailing how a vegan diet dramatically improved the health of a group of firefighters in Austin, TX. The stories in his book are great and the recipes are all really simple and sound delicious! The book is a great gift for someone who is thinking of “easing" into a vegan diet.

If health reasons turn the switch to a plant based diet for someone, I will take it!

This lasagna is big and unbelievably hearty. There are just so many vegetables in it; I don’t even know what to do with myself. Make this… Now!

Recipe after the jump…

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hot & Cold Sesame Salad

It was only recently that I discovered peanut butter could be merged with anything but jelly or chocolate.

For some reason, when I take a glob of peanut butter and mix it with soy sauce or any other non jelly related substance I just feel as if I am doing something wrong. Is that weird? Does anyone else feel that way?

I love peanut butter. I use it quite frequently. When I started making peanut sauces I had a bizarre reaction to blending gooey peanut butter with other ingredients. These kinds of things don’t “gross me out,” but I definitely have a reaction to it. Of course, how do most peanut sauces get their perfect “peanutty” flavor, you guessed it- peanut butter.
This is probably just a really strange observation, so take it as you will.

This noodle salad is from NY pixie and one of my top gals I wish would go vegan, Rachael Ray. Imagine, 30 Minute vegan Meals on the Food Network! The recipe was completely vegan on its own and required no modification. TY Rachael!

This is a really good summer noodle salad with just enough of a spicy kick to it. It would make a nice addition to a summer picnic or pot luck. I would also add that this is a great vegan dish to bring to a party. With this recipe people would never say, “Oh that is some strange vegan thing _______ brought.”

Never hurts to sneak in a little unsuspecting vegan love.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Birthdays Are for Celebrating

Ladybug Loves Birthday

Have you ever met those people who hate birthdays?

Those people who get pissy and pretend they don’t want you to celebrate are silly. Or, they get mad because they don’t want to draw attention to the fact that they are getting older.


Every birthday is another day we are here and I think we should be thankful for it. We should also celebrate it in every way we can. My birthday was last week and I got some delightful presents from friends and family. I wanted to share some with you because they just deserve to be shared.

Vegan Gift Basket from Pangea

 Vegan Mostess Cupcakes from Dozen Bake Shop

Husband got me a massage (sweet) and facial from a local salon. Let’s just say that appointment can’t come soon enough! We also bought a new camera that you will slowly start to see pictures from once I get a better grasp on how to take more awesome pictures.

I also took a little trip with one of my very best friends that I can't wait to share with all of you.

So if your birthday is coming up, make sure you celebrate… preferably with a delicious vegan birthday cake!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Moving on up...

I have been debating on whether or not to have a Chubby Vegan fan page on Facebook for awhile now. I am pretty much a twitter-holic, so I thought adding Facebook in the mix would divide my attention.

However, I realize more and more how much the combination of all social media, not just one web vehicle, is the real key to communicating your message.

Thankfully I have excellent social media gurus in my life (ahem, SWF) that help guide "The Evolution of The Chubby Vegan." I also think that will be my autobiography title.

So follow me on Twitter and join (like) me on Facebook.

We can change the world, one meatless meal at a time...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Corn Chowder

For some reason, I relate food to childhood memories. Good food for good times. Bad food for bad times. You know the drill.

For so many people, food is a comforting drug when things are going poorly in their life. You can always reach for a pint of ice cream when you had a bad day. Of course, most of us don’t feel any better once the sugar high wears away and you realize you just packed away a pint of ice cream.

Do you ever wonder where that comes from? Do we bring upon this level of emotional eating onto ourselves? Do we learn it as children? Is it just a contemporary problem for well developed countries where food is abundant for so many people?
I watched Oprah yesterday and Dr. Phil was on. I am getting deep.

Chowder is a specific comforting food for me. I have really good memories of going out to eat with my family to this local fish joint called McMenamy's. I would always get a plate full of fried something and a bowl of clam chowder. Growing up in New England, creamy chowder is a rite of passage.

When I saw this recipe from a local vegetarian blogger, I thought it sounded like the perfect chowder “fix” I have needed lately. It was delightfully wonderful and paired perfect with a crusty dinner roll. Easy and delicious; my favorite combination!

Recipe after the jump…

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Italian Stuffed Zucchini w/ Tempeh

Do you ever notice how people are always trying to give away zucchini in the summer?

Gardeners always seem to have an abnormal amount of zucchini, like it’s some sort of weed. Of course, I would never consider zucchini a weed. When it is in season it is one of the best vegetables out there.

I think the problem is people just don’t know what to do with it. I generally see zucchini prepared in one of three ways:

1. Breaded & Fried
2. Zucchini Bread
3. Pan fried to hell with onions.

Don’t get me wrong, all of these are delicious but there just has to be another way.

I, of course, like to think of zucchini as more of a vessel. Just think of all the wonderful things a hollowed out piece of zucchini can hold!?!?!

These zucchini boats are ridiculously easy and you can be as creative as you want with them. Serve them with a small side of pasta or couscous and you have an excellent and easy way to use your zucchini.

I made some with a little bit of Daiya and some without. Both were excellent!

Click “Read More” for the recipe…

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Laughing Chubby Baby

This chubby vegan loves two things in life.
  1. Awesome and delicious food.
  2. Babies
It is a little known fact, but I love babies. I just want to hug and squeeze them all day. They make me smile and laugh and I just think they are the best.

When my friend posted this video of her delightful laughing chubby baby, I knew I had to share it with you. It is 100 million percent guaranteed to brighten your day. If it doesn’t, you have no soul.

So live, love, and laugh with this angel face baby. Then, share it with your friends. They need a laugh too.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mini Donuts

Does anyone remember that famous Dunkin Donuts commercial, “It’s time to make the donuts?”

I always thought that “Fred the Baker” was the coolest. As a child, I was pretty convinced that he was behind the counter at my local Dunkin making all of the donuts. Like a donut Santa, he could be at multiple places at once.
Fred the baker, Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, they are still real to me dammit!

However, I think Fred the Baker may need to move out of the way and make room for Chubby Vegan. My latest attempt at Mini Donuts was a pretty big success if I do say so myself.

First of all, you need a special pan to make this recipe. It can be purchased online or at Crate & Barrel. I suppose you could try making these by hand, but I have a feeling they will look a little special.

Mini pastries are totally in right now, so if you make these you will be a hit at any party you attend. I promise. Everyone will be amazed at your mini cooking skills. You can just feign humility and go on being awesome.

Recipe and tons of photos after the jump…

Thursday, May 5, 2011

One Ingredient Ice Cream

The sun is out today!

I better run outside quick before it goes back into hiding. Blasted gloomy Pittsburgh!

In honor of this momentous day, one out of 59-145 sunny days, I think we should celebrate with ice cream. When it is nice out, everyone deserves ice cream. It is my most guilty pleasure and I could probably have it every day.

Thankfully, vegan ice cream is so much more than just vanilla Tofutti. Trader Joes soy ice cream and Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss are just a few that make my mouth water.

However, a few months ago I stumbled upon this little trick for “Homemade Banana Ice Cream” with no ice cream maker required. 

No milk of any kind. No added sugar. No high fructose bull crap. No anything; just banana and a food processor. Yes. It’s true.

I bet you want to know how to make it. The super complicated recipe is after the jump…

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Little Trip to Georgia

Once upon a time I was a Chubby Vegetarian, who lived in Georgia.

Imagine that, a New England boy living in the South! I had never met anyone who went to a mega church or didn’t believe in evolution. Nope. Never.

So moving to Georgia was a major adjustment for me. When I told people that I was moving there they assumed I would be killed because I was gay, outspoken, and fill in the ___. Thankfully, I wasn’t. Plus one for me!

I ruffled a couple of feathers in Georgia but I wouldn’t take the experience back for a second. I grew tremendously as a person and met some really amazing people.

Husband, although born in Pittsburgh, spent the majority of his formative years in Georgia and we get back to Bulldog country as much as we can.

My favorite restaurant on the planet, The Grit, is in Athens, GA. I get the same thing every time and it never disappoints. Sadly, it was super dark in the restaurant and I couldn’t take any good pictures. So use your imagination:

The Golden Bowl = Fried tofu in oil and soy sauce, coated with nutritional yeast, layered over brown rice, and a bunch of vegetables. Cover it in some Frank’s hot sauce with a cold beer. *I just fainted*

If you ever have the chance, please go to The Grit and tell them Chubby Vegan sent you. Make sure to get dessert too! 

While we were there we also got to try out a new(er) place called Mama’s Boy for brunch. It was just lovely and they made a tofu stir fry strangely reminiscent of my favorite food from The Grit. Theirs came with toast and an incredible raspberry jelly.

This was their only vegan friendly brunch option but it was delicious so I still give them a Chubby Vegan Stamp of Approval. I was a member of the clean plate club that day!

Whoever said chicken & waffles and barbecue is all you can eat in Georgia? 

Click "Read More" for a few more pictures...

Monday, May 2, 2011

(Almost) Raw Pie Crust

After coming off one of the best weekends ever, it just doesn’t even seem right to write about something so simple.

Let’s just say I have some serious posts coming up that I am so excited to share with all of you. I can barely handle it I am so excited.  *SQUEE*

Okay, okay… On to the pie crust…

So, you all know I have been really into researching the raw food movement. I am just fascinated by all of it. After my first raw appetizer in New York and a visit to a totally raw restaurant in Austin, I am just digging on it more and more.  I have no plans on being the Chubby Rawist, but I think integrating creative raw recipes into our cuisine is really great. Vegans are creative. Raw foodists take food creativity and kick it up to a whole new level.

This piecrust is from the Engine 2 Diet book and is the basis for a couple of different recipes in the book. I made the Chocolate Icebox pie from the book which 

1.      Thought was just okay
2.      Forgot to take pictures of…

Therefore we get to be creative and think of all the things you could possibly use this crust for. I have compiled a list of my suggestions, as well as the recipe, after the jump…

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...