Monday, December 28, 2009

Cooking Roundup

Here are a few of the dishes I've cooked up the last few months:

Veggie Stir-fry: This was just a combo of things I had in the fridge (bell pepper, olive, pineapple, zucchini, onion, tofu, tomato, cashew) and served over quinoa.

Pesto Chik'n Sandwich: I was trying to replicate a Loving Hut sandwich I love. You can see the pesto MorningStar Chik'n at the edge there. For next time, I need to add more seasoning and marinate it longer. I also need to research how Herbivore does it for their shawarma (I'm pretty sure they use MorningStar too, but the way they season it is so good and soft and yummy!)

Vegan Pizza: A trip to Rainbow always means pizza is in our future because we'd pick up Daiya cheese. Woohoo! I use Pillsbury Thin Crust Pizza (note: thin crust is vegan but regular crust is not). Toppings include tomato, bell pepper, zucchini, olive, onion, and artichoke hearts. I once tried to use a pre-made dough called Lamonica's that I got at Whole Foods -- big failure! It turned out so tough and nearly made the whole pizza inedible. Nearly. ;-)

Chapati and salsa: I had a craving for a wrap but it's hard to find vegan burrito wraps in store, and even when I do, they come in packs of 10 or 20 and I just can't eat them all before it expires (hubby is not a wrap person). So I thought the next best thing was to make my own and I saw chapatis were relatively easy to make. I must have done something wrong though because it ended up too tough (fire too high?). But it worked for this light meal.

Corn fritters: I had no idea they were so easy to make. Very simple and yummy, but oily. Has anyone tried to bake fritters?

Sloppy Joes: We found vegan burger buns at Trader Joe's (hooray!) and that inspired me to make sloppy joes. I used VeganDad's recipe, and subbed the tempeh with crumbled up Boca Burger. It was a hit! This one is a keeper. :-)

Vegan Lasagne: I used Veganomicon's recipe for basic lasagne. Their Almesan topping made a big difference and made it extra special. Sorry, no picture for this one!'

What shall we cook up next? :-)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Doggie Goodies!

A few months ago, a pair of canine siblings entered my life through adoption from an animal rescue group, Shelter Dogs Needing Homes. This wonderful group rescues small dogs from overcrowded shelters in Southern California and then brings them up to Northern California where there's high demand for them.

I wish I could say I adopted these darlings, but the truth of the matter is they belong to close friends (and my guinea pigs would say "thank goodness" to that!). One of the dogs, Sunny, I get to see every day at work when he comes in with his papa and the other, Happy, I get to visit fairly often. I absolutely adore both of them and consider myself their "auntie". And as any good auntie, I take my job seriously to spoil them. ;-)

As we're all vegans, the dogs transitioned to veganism too with Natural Balance Vegetarian Food. One excellent resource if you have a vegan dog is Molly's It's a Vegan Dog's Life. She has vegan recipes and natural, eco-friendly tips for keeping your vegan dog healthy and happy. Molly recently published a book based on all the useful tips on her blog and I was fortunate to win a copy through (thanks Molly and Whitney!). I highly recommend it to anyone new to dog parenting, vegan or not, as there really are a lot of things to consider to take good care of your dog. You can order a copy through Etsy. I'll be passing my copy to one of the doggie guardians. :-)

It's been a challenge finding a vegan treat the dogs like. I picked up a box of CloudStar's Buddy Biscuits in Peanut Butter Madness flavor at Whole Foods. Sunny liked it a lot in the beginning but for some reason has stopped eating it after 10 biscuits or so (and we only gave him one a day). Then I learned of Olive, an online store that sells eco-friendly products for our canine friends. They offered a few vegan treats as well so I took advantage of their holiday free shipping special and ordered some in hope they will go over well with "my" dogs.

I love Olive for what they stand for and what they do and I loved them even more when the package arrived.

The products were wrapped so prettily with such care and love, I felt like it was a Christmas present! And there was a note stating that all the packaging used earth-friendly, non-toxic, recyclable materials. Awesome!

Then there's a little brown paper bag with my invoice and a personalized, handwritten note thanking me for my order, and a few sample treats. The awesomeness continues!

Here are the things I got for Sunny and Happy. The Huck and Tux toys were a lot heavier and bigger than I thought so I'm not sure how well they'll fare with my little ones. Hopefully they'll take to them and the treats too and then we can begin some fun training aka Victoria Stilwell style. (I love her show!)

I get to dog-sit Happy tomorrow so she'll be the first tester. We'll see what happens!

12/20 Update:
Happy turned her nose up at both treats and didn't play with any of the toys. Oh dear! Here's to hoping Sunny likes them or else I'm stuck with dog stuff and I don't have a dog! :-D

Friday, December 18, 2009

Tempt Mint Chip Ice Cream

I love ice cream in any kind of weather so you'll still catch me buying vegan ice cream in the dead of winter if I stop by Rainbow or Whole Foods. It's a luxury I can't resist.

My usual buys are Turtle Mountain's So Delicious or Purely Decadent (I just realized they're from the same company, ha!). They're often on sale and they have great flavors, my favorite being Butter Pecan. They have a line of coconut ice cream too, but since I'm not a fan of coconut, I happily stuck to their soy versions.

That is until I found THIS:

Living Harvest's Tempt non-dairy frozen dessert made with hempmilk. In their words:
"Mint Chip Tempt combines the coolness of mint with chocolaty bits, blended into deliciously smooth Hempmilk - one of nature's most perfect, planet-friendly foods."

Holy moly, I have found the vegan equivalent of my favorite non-vegan ice cream of yesteryears. What won me over? Not that it's mint flavored, which other brands also carry. Not that it's made of hemp, which is definitely unique and yummy. My dears, the magic touch was the chocolate chip flakes that's in every bite. Please note I said "flakes" because that's what makes this different from the chocolate "chunks" in other chocolate chip ice cream. These delicate flakes offer a super chocolately pizazz before melting in your mouth with the ice cream. The taste and texture is heavenly! And there's LOTS of them, so you're guaranteed a burst of chocolate with every bite. Perfect. Just perfect.

Sorry, the ice cream disappeared before I got to take a picture. It happens.

Tempt comes in several other flavors: Vanilla Bean, Coffee Biscotti, Chocolate Fudge, Coconut Lime.

Give it a try if you see it in your market. According to them, hemp contains no known allergens. And it's a nice addition to the soy and coconut options.

Vegan food rules!

Coupon alert! Just found this $0.75 coupon on any Tempt product. Expires 12/31/09.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Coupons: Kikkoman, Santa Cruz Organic

Santa Cruz Organic® has two coupons:
75¢ off any Santa Cruz Organic® Celebration Beverage
75¢ off Santa Cruz Organic® Peanut Butters

Note: Be sure to put your real name down because it's noted on the coupon: "Check ID: Coupon for use only by the [your name] household."

That's the first time I've seen that!

Kikkoman has a Buy 1 get 1 free deal soy sauce coupon. Click on the top right circle saying "Get your coupon today!"

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

SF Vegan Bake Sale, take two

So last Saturday was stuff-your-face day @ the second SF Vegan Bakesale held in front of Ike's, this time to benefit Save a Bunny and the Food Empowerment Project. Thankfully this was before the frostbite weather kicked in and the bunnies were able to be out and about for all of us to ooh and ahh over. I even got to pet them! Hope they found good forever homes.

Hubby once entertained the idea of adopting a rabbit and letting it run around the house, but once I said he'd be in charge of cleaning up after it, he decided two guinea pigs were enough. ;-)

So on to the goodies. Last time I came rather late and missed a lot of stuff so this time I made sure I got there right when it started. And let me just say, WOW! They really outdid themselves!

I happily filled up one box of goodies and thought I was done but while I waited with my friends in line at Ike's, I saw MORE goodies being delivered. Apparently, the bakers were on a schedule to come at a certain time so goodies kept coming and coming...and I walked away with another box! This time it was full of Cinnaholic's cinnamon buns, which was baked on their wedding day and delivered by their best man. Talk about dedication, folks! They offered four flavors, which were teasers for the 30 they have planned for their upcoming storefront. Can't wait!

I'm a bit bummed I missed out on Sugar Beat Sweets (they came after I had gone) cuz I love love love their cupcakes but there's always next time (and a storefront coming soon)!

By the day's end, the bakesale raised $4,200 for the chosen charities. How awesome is that, considering there's a recession with a 10% unemployment rate? Behold the power of vegan baked goods! Mad props to all the dedicated bakers and money pouch ladies with amazing math skills.

Next SF event will be in Feb, but before that, the ladies of Fat Bottom Bakery will be hosting an East Bay Vegan Bakesale on January 9th in Oakland. We shall conquer the world one city at a time, yes indeedy!

Lastly, I'll sign off with this. Laloofah, this one's for you:

Cinnaholic's Smores Cinnamon Bun, aka Heaven-in-your-mouth

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Up for Adoption @ SFACC!

We adopted Bert and Belle from San Francisco's Animal Care & Control. ACC maintains a listing on their website of the cuties that are in need of a home. I like to check the small animals listing every now and then, just because. :-) They always have bunnies, many of whom end up at the Save A Bunny shelter if they're not adopted within a certain period. Sometimes guinea pigs, pigeons, parakeets, and the occasional iguana would show up too.

Here are two pair of guinea pigs available for adoption now:

Do have a home for them? Visit SF Animal Care & Control if you do!

MorningStar $10 coupon booklet

Had to make a late night run to Safeway to get lettuce for the little munchkins and I saw this posted on the fridge door in front of MorningStar products:

The back of the booklet has 5 coupons worth $2 each for any MorningStar product. Expires 12/31/09. They have several vegan options. I like to marinate their Chik'n Strips in pesto sauce, fry it up, and then stuff it in a sandwich or wrap. Yum!

And if you haven't gotten your $.55 off Silk Soymilk coupon yet, you can still do so HERE. Also expires 12/31/09.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Guinea Pig Massage

I'm always on the look out to find new ways to interact with my guinea pigs. Aside from lap time and floor time, I was out of ideas. Then I saw on YouTube another guinea pig guardian doing this to their guinea pig so I had to try it for myself. It's called the guinea pig cheek massage, which they apparently enjoyed very much!

This is the side view:

This the front view:

I love the round bottom lip! So cute. :-)

Friday, December 4, 2009

SF Bake Sale

Guess where I'll be this Saturday?

Eat yummy goodies for the bunnies! Does it get any easier?

In cooking news, I made Pineapple Fried Rice from Eat. Drink. Better. No pictures because it really didn't look pretty (or even funny) but it did taste good! The recipe included all sorts of vegetables (I just included whatever I had in the fridge) and the special touch was the pineapple cubes and cashew, which added a pleasant taste and crunch to the dish. Yum! Try it for yourself!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksvegan Day

I'm so full I can barely sit so this will be a short one:

Golden Era's special Thanksgiving vegan dinner

This is what I'll be having tomorrow.

Yes, I said tomorrow. Because I just had this at mom's:

those are vegan shrimps in the hot pot

in addition to this:

mashed pumpkin was so good!

If you knew me, you'd be amazed I could eat so much.

But miracles happen when the food is this good.

So the Golden Era Thanksgiving special was ordered to-go because I don't have the will-power to resist any of their specials (which are really exceptionally special). So I picked it up before heading to mom's so I could have it for tomorrow. Yeah, I'm greedy like that. But good food is good food, and I plan on making the spirit of Thankseating last until Sunday night.

Cheers and Happy Thanksvegan from the VeganWheekers clan!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A peek into their huts

It's too cold out there!

Is that a treat in your hand?

Vegan Corn Dogs...or not

Today I had a craving for vegan corn dogs. I mish mashed recipes from Post Punk Kitchen and Vegweb and I created the Frankenstein of corn dogs.

more like oversize tempura

It's not pretty. I mean, just look at it. It doesn't look like a corn dog. And the "corn" part was crispy instead of fluffy soft like I remember from my elementary school days. I'm not sure where I went wrong. But ya know what? Still tastes good! I used Loma Linda's Big Franks for the hot dog -- it's my fav.

And for the real part of dinner (that was just appetizer!):

Vegan mac and cheese (yes, again) with broccoli, zucchini, and cashew.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas...

Holiday officially begins when our local pop station KOIT starts airing Christmas music 24/7, which they did last Wednesday. So now we get to hear a dozen renditions of "Silent Night" and the occasional Mr. Grinch song.

In the mood for some holiday shopping, I went to IKEA today to get a table to set the guinea pig cages on. My hubby had custom built their cage, which is like a chateau compared to what you would find a pet store.

Check out the 2nd floor loft!

At IKEA, we took a break for a drink at their cafe and I saw people eating mashed potato and gravy, which totally got me craving for it too. So while hubby drove to Trader Joe's nearby to pick up ingredients, I quickly searched for vegan gravy recipes on his iPhone. I ended up using a mish mash of ingredients and techniques from VeganDad and VegWeb. Here's the result:

I love lots of gravy and it totally buried the mashed potato in this pic. Also featured are Trader Joe's vegan soy nuggets and grilled brussel sprouts. My craving was definitely satiated. Thanks, IKEA, for the inspiration!

Now we're too full to move, so the guinea pig table setup is going to have to wait...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Vegan Bakery Obsession

I was not always a cupcake junkie. But when I turned vegan a couple of years ago, suddenly the selection of baked goods shrank considerably. Whenever there was a celebration and a cake was needed, we'd pop by Rainbow for a Black China Bakery cake. While I'm grateful to Black China Bakery for making vegan cakes so readily available everywhere, it was starting to get, well, boring.

Then I chanced upon Sugar Beats Sweets cupcakes at VegFest a year ago and it was like a whole new world. Like, riding-on-a-magic-carpet whole new world. I was hooked. Addicted you could even say. At this year's VegFest, I walked away with one of everything they had on display. Of course I didn't eat it all (I could have, but I didn't). I shared the awesomeness with my loved ones so they too can enjoy the wonder that is vegan baked goods. VEGAN, you hear? No eggs, no dairy. Only cruelty-free yumminess.

So if you're a dessert addict too, I have some good news for you. Sugar Beats Sweets is opening up a storefront in SF. Violet Sweet Shoppe sells goodies to Rainbow Grocery. There are organized vegan bake sales that benefit adorable four-legged furballs. Next sale is on Dec 5th in front of Ike's. I shan't be late this time! At least I got to try the baklava from Fat Bottom Bakery. Here's to hoping they'll make it again. If they do, y'all better save me some!

Now I'm off to enjoy Cinnaholic's cupcake from GreenFest. Cheers!

The Cleopatra of Guinea Pigs

Meet Belle, my perpetually hungry girl. After a full meal, she would still wheek and beg for food as if she hadn't eaten for days. Watch this spoiled guinea pig eat in style:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Meeting Patrick McDonnell of "MUTTS" at GreenFest

Since young I've loved animals. Growing up, my family had pet mice, hamsters, parakeets, goldfish, and an orange tabby cat (not all at the same time of course). Now I have my darling guinea pigs and can't imagine life without the simple joy that my animal companions bring.

It is that joy that artist Patrick McDonnell captures so well in his daily comic strip "MUTTS". I fell in love with it the moment I saw it in the newspaper (come on, cute cartoon cats and dogs, how can you not love it?). The antics and innocent musings of Mooch the cat and Earl the dog never fail to make me smile, laugh, or reflect on the beauty of nature and life. I quickly amassed a collection of his books (it helped that some crazy person was selling a set of his earlier books on eBay...their loss, my happy gain!). When the figurines came out, I got Earl first and then was given Mooch as a Valentine's gift to make a perfect pair (my guy sure knows the way to my heart, eh?).

a small sampling of my MUTTS collection

Last week, I learned that he would have a book signing for his latest release "Guardians of Being" at GreenFest. "Eeeeek!!," my inner fangirl squealed. So I dashed over there after work, hoping I didn't miss him. I've never been to a book signing before so I didn't know what to expect. What I found was an unassuming man sitting on a foldable chair at the side of the booth with no crowd around him. Had I not recognized him from his pictures in the books, I would have guessed he was just another attendee, not the great comic genius royalty that he is. Where are the balloons, trumpets, and red carpet, people?! He at least deserved a table to write on! Instead, when I presented him with my copy of the book and gushed some gibberish in awe, he  proceeded to sign it with the book propped on his lap. This man flew all the way from New Jersey and he has to sign books on his lap. So humble is he!

Look, he drew a little Mooch for me! Squeeee!!

I sure wish there were other people around to chat him up just so I could stand around and absorb his awesomeness. (He's vegetarian and a member of the Board of Directors for both The Humane Society of the United States and the Fund for Animals.) But being the shy, awkward, bumbling girl that I am, I quickly thanked him and dashed off before I gave into the temptation to sit as his feet and ask him to read the book to me (aka kindergarten style). Wouldn't be fun to be escorted out by security, would it?

Before leaving, I stopped by Cinnaholic for some baked goodies (hi Kelly!) and VegNews to sign up for a subscription (hi Liz!). They had a great $5 off promotion and I also wanted to thank them for the free GreenFest tickets.

Now your mission, if you so choose, is to head on over to and sign up for the daily comic strip emails to get a blast of sunshine in your inbox everyday! Then head to GreenFest to meet Patrick at another book signing on Sunday at 11am!

I wonder if it'd be inappropriate to bring all of my books for him to sign? :-)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thoughts on Veganism

The other day I came across a blog post titled "Just because it is vegan...doesn't mean it is healthy." And it made me evaluate my veganism because the first thing I thought after reading it was, "That's so true!"

There are many facts proving that a vegan diet is healthier than a meat diet. But I'll be the first to admit I'm not in the top percentile of healthy people. I'm healthier than I would have been on a meat diet (meat = poison) but I'm not ironman triathlon, yoga bending, jog in the forest daily type of healthy. My main reason for becoming vegetarian and then vegan was more for the love of animals than for health and so my daily meals aren't centered around how much vitamins and protein I'm getting. I'm just happy my meal didn't once have a face or a mother.

I'm also a rather picky eater. That post made me realize why I liked VeganDad's recipes so much: they're catered to his kids. My taste buds are still very much like a kid's. I don't like many types of vegetables (*gasp! a vegan who doesn't like vegetables?!*) and I don't take spice or alcohol (how to substitute wine in recipes?). But I've learned to use new ingredients like nutritional yeast and miso, and that nuts aren't just dry snacks but also cooking ingredients. It's whole new world, man.

I guess I should focus on the health aspect of veganism more...but I just love cupcakes too much. Check out my to-go from Sticky Fingers Bakery on my recent trip to DC. Yummy, yes?

And here's their chik’n quesadillas and melty tuna sandwich with Daiya cheese. Healthy? Mmm, questionable. Lip smacking good? You bet.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mac and Cheese

One of the first recipes I learned from VeganDad was his Mac and Cheese. It's so easy and fast to whip up (literally, you just blend the ingredients together) it's our go-to dinner choice on tired nights. When I'm feeling extra fancy, I grill some zucchinis and bell peppers to go on the side. Give it a try!

Deals and Giveaways

In my circle of friends, we have a "cheapo" ranking for who is the most frugal of us all and they somehow  always unanimously agree that I top the list. Perhaps it's because I like to find deals on the Net and to sign up for giveaways. I mean, money saved could be money spent on something better, like animals rescue groups or bake sales supporting animal rescue groups, right? And with websites like, Facebook, and Twitter, it's never been easier to find a deal, especially vegan deals.

The first one I found today is for Silk Soymilk at Coupon Geek. If you guzzle down soymilk as much as I do, you'd appreciate this chance to win a coupon for a free half gallon of Silk Heart Health Soy Milk. They also have a printable coupon for $0.55 off any Silk Soymilk purchase (expires 12/31/09). Print to your heart's content!

A place I visit daily for giveaways is The Bright Side Project which is devotedly run by two lovely gals, Miss B. and Miss K. "The Bright Side Project is here to bring you sunshine every day with themed, daily giveaways. We hope to inspire you to stop for a second and remember life is (still) beautiful and there is goodness in the world." Every month they have a theme and there are all sorts of artsy crafty couture goodies given away fitting that theme (I like to sign up for the vegan ones). All you have to do to enter is answer the thoughtful question of the day and make sure to check back to see if you're a winner. This month's theme is called "The List" to help with your holiday shopping. The contributors are giving two items away, one for you to keep and one to give away. How cool is that?

Speaking of giveaways, I just received two free passes to the Green Festival thanks to VegNews who's a sponsor of the event. It takes place at the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco on Nov 13-15. The Green Festival is 100% vegetarian and I hope there are lots of vegan stuff too. Thanks for the tixs, VegNews!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Vegan Craft Samples

By the time you read this line, they might be gone...

Just kidding -- sorta. Hurry and grab your bag of goodies from Vegan Craft Samples! Artsy folks from around the world sent in all sorts of homemade vegan goodies for inclusion in the Holiday Gift bags. All proceeds benefit the Peaceful Prairie Animal Sanctuary.

There were three bag sizes; I say "were" because the large ones sold out already (I was lucky enough to snag one of them, hehehe). The regular size goes for $25 and the small one for $15. And like a box of chocolate, you never know what you're gonna get (but at least you know it's vegan and that's all you really need to know). If you're the share and care type, you could repackage a few items into smaller bags to give to coworkers or friends for Christmas.

Or not.

In any case, it's a win-win for you and the animals, so what are ya waiting for?  Order one from Vegan Craft Samples or their Etsy page. I can't wait to get mine!

Vegan Wedding

Today marks my one month wedding anniversary to my very own "Mr. Darcy". Being a very low key couple, we had opted for a small civil ceremony with family only, followed by a vegan barbecue at our place with a couple of close friends (canines included). Everything turned out beautifully and we couldn't have asked for more.

There's nothing quite like planning for a wedding, however big or small. There are lots and LOTS of  wedding blogs and websites and I spent many a nights with glazed eyes pouring over them. Here are the ones I loved the most for their witty advice, warmth, and craziness:
Vegan Bride
The Broke-Ass Bride
A Practical Wedding

Since my family prepared the wedding feast, we didn't have to go through the trouble of finding a caterer and venue, but getting a vegan wedding cake was a whole other story. I contacted a few local vegan bakers but they were all busy with VegFest and were unable to accommodate us. At the last minute, we ordered it from Millennium and it was just perfect. I loved it so much, words cannot express. My insides still squeal when I think about it! If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area and in the market for a vegan wedding cake, other options are Sugar Beats Sweets and Violet Sweet Shoppe. I've tasted their regular baked goodies and they are awesome. Be sure to book early (and not right before a VegFest, LOL!).

Happy One Month, honey!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy World Vegan Day and Welcome!

Hallo friend! I've been greatly inspired by the witty and informative vegan blogs out there in the blogosphere and wanted to join in on the fun. I'm too late for VeganMoFo so I'll kick this off on World Vegan Day instead, which marks the start of World Vegan Month. Now there's no better month to bring attention to veganism than in November, when in the US more than 45 million lives of a particular type of fowl are slaughtered just for ONE meal.

I've been vegetarian for 14 years and vegan for the past two. I switched to veganism after I saw what they did to dairy cows. It was also around the same time the Prop 2 campaign started in California and I learned more about the horrors of factory farms. Within the next few months, I dedicated myself to purging all animal-derived items from my house (i.e. dairy, honey, wool, leather, products that test on animals) and now habitually scan for vegan and cruelty-free labels when shopping. Lifestyle change? Definitely. Feeling great? Absolutely.

So that's where the "vegan" part of "Vegan Wheekers" comes in. The "Wheekers" refer to the joys of my life, my pet guinea pigs Bert and Belle, who were adopted from the local animal shelter. Guinea pigs are well-known to wheek (a high-pitched squeal/scream) when they hear the fridge door open, but mine already wheek when they hear footsteps approaching the fridge! And yes, they're naturally vegan. :-)

I must confess I'm not much of a cook (I've been spoiled by my family's cooking for much longer than I'd like to admit) but after I moved out to start a new life with my Better Half* earlier this year, I knew I had to start clocking some hours by the stove. I was proficient at collecting recipes online but was never really good about actually putting them into practice. That is until I found VeganDad's homey, easy to make recipes for all my favorite dishes. Score!

Today I'll be making his Cream of Broccoli and Potato Soup because that's what I have an abundance of at home right now. Off to the kitchen I go!

Cream of Broccoli Soup with Scrambled Tofu and Toast

*I love this song by Keith Urban. I also love Keith Urban. But that's another story. ;-)