Properly Full

Today marked the opening of yet another all-vegan food cart in Portland! I am forever lost in the numbers of vegan-friendly dining options here since Tim and I rarely go out to eat. But, we were lured by the opening of this new cart, Kitchen Dances, because the owner used to be a partner at Proper Eats, one of our most favorite places to dine in Portland. We impulsively decided to take a quick bike ride over to the new cart for lunch:

The cart is located in the Good Food Here cart pod on SE Belmont and 42nd Avenue (surprisingly, Tim and I had no idea this cart pod even existed! See? We don’t eat out much!). It’s tucked away in the back, but you can’t miss the bright red exterior or lovely aromas wafting from the inside. For their first day of business, Kitchen Dances had a non-stop flow of customers, which makes me insanely happy because I want this cart to stay firmly planted right where it is! The menu boasts super-fresh cooked and raw items:

After a few moments of pondering the menu, the woman working there offered us a free sample of their homemade basil-hazelnut pesto spread on some awesome chewy bread:

I was seconds away from darting off with the entire plate of samples because (1) I love bread; (2) I love pesto; and (3) I love free samples. While we were waiting in line to order, the gentleman behind us asked if we had ordered yet. I told him that we had not and when it was our turn to order, he cut in front of us and placed his order first! What? If ever there were a time for me to exercise my desire to punch someone in the face, this would have come close. Don’t fret, I’m not violent and I pretended not to notice.

I ordered the Raw Hummus Wrap for $5.00 and Tim ordered the Roasted Eggplant Sandwich for $7.50. The prices are fair considering the amount of food you get and the quality of ingredients. The food is so clean and so good for you – there’s no guilt! Kitchen Dances also offers desserts, primarily from Black Sheep Bakery. We didn’t get any desserts because I overdosed on chocolate yesterday… Maybe next time though!

Our food:

Tim’s Roasted Eggplant Sandwich consisted of: roasted eggplant, caramelized onion, and tomato with a garlic-herb aioli and a side salad. He said it was really good. I was proud of Tim because when we go to Proper Eats, he ALWAYS gets the Tempeh Reuben (which is on the menu at Kitchen Dances too) and he tried something new today!

My Raw Hummus Wrap: this was a chard leaf filled with raw hummus, carrots, beets, tomatoes, cucumbers, and quinoa tabouli. I was a bit disappointed because there were no carrots or beets (two of my favorite veggies) and the tabouli was loaded with lots of onions (which I’m not a fan of, sadly). The hummus was delicious and so was the chard leaf, but I couldn’t finish my wrap due to all the onions. Tim devoured it though, even after cleaning his own plate.

I will definitely be riding my bike back to Kitchen Dances because there were other items on the menu that looked incredibly yummy. I should have known better about the onions, but I was too excited and didn’t think before I ordered.

Yay for even more vegan food options in Portland!!!

And hey, if you haven’t entered my giveaway yet, you should! I keep adding more fun items to the prize!! I hope everybody’s week is off to a good start.

Portland VegFest 2010 and a Giveaway!!!!!!!

Hey everybody! I hope you’re all enjoying the last weekend of summer. It’s raining in Portland and I couldn’t be happier! Tim and I spent a decent chunk of our day at Portland’s 2010 VegFest, which seems to grow bigger each year. There were heaps of vendors, exhibitors, and some amazing speakers. The event lasts two days but I am pretty sure I got more than my fill in one day! We sampled treats ranging from Equal Exchange Chocolates, Wild Wood Smoked Tofu, Dave’s Killer Breads, Doctor Kracker, Coconut Bliss, Numi Teas, Amy’s Mac-n-Cheese, Genesis Juices, Galaxy Rice Cheeses, Earnest Bars, Blossoming Lotus’ Live Fudge, Tempt Hemp Milk, Chicago Soy Dairy’s Nacho Cheese and Dandies, Heidi Ho Organics Cheeses (a new local Portland company!!!), and a medley of other yummy delights. It’s quite possible that I revisited some of the tables more than once (or twice).

The growing crowd wandering tables at VegFest

Flapping my arms with glee over my love for broccoli (note the circular tile by my feet)

With tummies full, we headed across the hall to watch Tal Ronnen do a live chef demo. This may have been my favorite part of the day. It’s always fun watching a professional chef prepare delicious foods (some of which we were able to sample!). Chef Ronnen was extremely personable, entertaining, and mesmerizing to watch. He prepared two recipes from his book, The Conscious Cook, Celery Root Soup with Granny Smith Apples (so gooooood!) and Quinoa, Avocado, and Sweet Potato Timbale with Roasted Tomatillo Dressing. Tim and I weren’t able to get a seat in the crowded room, but we did get to stand in the back with an unobstructed view of Chef Ronnen. Here are some photos I took:

Chopping celery root

Tossing celery root into pot over imaginary flame

Making rich cashew cream for the soup

A nice bowl of sweet potatoes for the fancy salad

Dicing avocado

Molding the salad

Dotting the soup with Chive Oil (yeah, that’s right, Chive Oil!)

The finished salad (I was too far away to get a nice, focused shot, but you get the idea, right?)

Overall Tim and I had a lot of fun. I came home with a bag full of samples and treats. And guess what? I collected enough to share with one lucky reader!!!! Yeah!! Here’s what you could win:

* The October 2010 issue of VegNews magazine
* Steel Cut Oats and Muesli from Bob’s Red Mill
* Coconut Cream and Cherry Pie mini Lara Bars
* Earnest Eats mini Almond Trail Mix Bar
* A bread bag clip and measuring scoop from Bob’s Red Mill
* Tons of coupons for super vegan food items (Manitoba Harvest, Coconut Bliss, Wildwood Organics, Amy’s Organics, Emerald Valley, Lotus Foods, Galaxy Nutritional Foods, etc)
* Pins from Chicago Soy Dairy
* Stickers!
* Bragg Nutritional Yeast sample
* A nifty little pen from Amy’s Organics
* A packet of shelled hemp seeds from Manitoba Harvest

And, I’ll even throw in one of my handmade cards! Woohoo!!  To enter your name in the giveaway, leave a comment telling me about one of your favorite vegan food items. Easy as heck! I will choose a winner on Sunday, September 26th. Please note: due to shipping costs, this giveaway is only open to folks in the US, I’m sorry :(

Scentaholic (and a giveaway!!!)

A few weeks ago Soy Candles by Phebes contacted me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing a few of their candles. I was delighted at the opportunity considering I had a bit of an obsession with all things scented when I was an adolescent (ooooh, scent is the latter part of adolescent… Nifty, no?!). I was keen on scented erasers, lip balms, pens, candles, lotions, and stickers (remember scratch-n-sniffs?). I’ve grown out of that phase, but do still enjoy lighting candles when the need to relax makes itself present.

I received two candles from Soy Candles by Phebes (thank you, Mike!!): clementine and lavender. When I visited their website, I discovered that there are around fifty different scents available. Fifty! You are guaranteed to find at least a dozen that will float your boat. Plus, they are hand-crafted, made-to-order, vegan-friendly, and generously sized at 8.5 ounces (in a nice, sturdy glass jar). There is no room for disappointment!

I excitedly opened the boxes my candles came in and sniffed, sniffed, sniffed. The lavender candle immediately took me back to my childhood. My grandmother had this wee oval tin with a scented candle inside that smelled almost identical to the Phebes lavender candle. She kept it in a drawer and whenever I visited her I would take the tin out of the drawer and smell the candle. My grandmother passed away almost a decade ago so I no longer have the ability to rummage through her drawer just to sniff my favorite candle. Needless to say, I lit the lavender candle first. The scent is soft, delicate, and soothing. It isn’t overpowering like some candles; instead it filled my apartment with a light cloud of lavender aroma. I love it! Even Tim, whose is obviously a dude, likes the smell.

The clementine candle smells just like it should: fruity, citrus-y, vanilla-y. Since the clementine is one of my favorite fruits, I was mighty happy with the aroma wafting from the jar. I haven’t burned the clementine candle yet, but when I do, I will be eating a bowl of clementines!

Do you like candles? Does your home stink? Do you need some relaxing scents drifting about under your nostrils? Well guess what? The generous and kind folks at Soy Candles by Phebes are giving one lucky reader a free candle (of the winner’s choice)!! Yeah! All you need to do is visit their website and leave me a comment telling me what scent you would like to receive. Easy as heck! I will randomly choose a winner on Monday, June 28th. Good luck!!!

And, if you read one of my previous posts, you will know that I am taking part in Portland’s 2010 Run for Congo Women on June 26, 2010. I am only $155 shy of my goal (which is $500). If you want to donate funds to a great cause, please consider helping me reach my goal. I would be most appreciative!!! It is a challenging 5K run on a forested trail and all money raised will help the women of the Congo and also raise awareness of the devastation occurring in the Congo. I am running with a small team of vegans and we have raised over $1,600 so far!!! Yeah!!! Thank you in advance if you make a donation. And thank you to the folks who have already donated – it means so much to me!

Year-End Giveaway!!!!

Hey everybody, what’s up?! This year is quickly coming to a close and I’m still back a few months trying to reach the present… My holiday cookie baking intentions are simmering somewhere in outer space (well, except for a few batches I managed to whip up last weekend). I mentioned in a previous post that I would be reviewing My Sweet Vegan by the lovely Hannah Kaminsky and this post is dedicated to that decadently yummy book.

Lately I have been trying to reduce my sugar intake so this review was a test of my will power against sweets. Don’t misunderstand, I do love treats, but my body responds much differently than my taste buds. Anyways, Hannah’s book is impressive from the start. An extensive ingredient guide will familiarize you with items you may not know much about. There is a color photograph accompanying each recipe (taken by Hannah herself!) so you know how the final treat should look. The recipes range from muffins, scones, cakes, pies, tarts, crumbles, and even parfaits!!! There is definitely a recipe for everybody (and a food allergy index at the back of the book to help you choose appropriately) and every season. I have made a handful of wonderful recipes from My Sweet Vegan: Whoopie Pies, Rootbeer Float Cupcakes, Power Hungry Granola, and Orange Hazelnut Biscotti. Several recipes are marked for future baking binges: Strawberry Spirals, Sweet & Simple French Toast, and Dried Fruit Focaccia. While the ingredients for the recipes can be expensive to purchase and are not always in your pantry, it is fun to whip up some seriously indulgent desserts once in awhile. I keep my copy on hand for special occasions and have found that you can make them a bit healthier by substituting different flours, milks, sweeteners, etc. But, it is a dessert book, so don’t expect low fat recipes!!! Treat yourself, friends, family, and co-workers!!!! Yes indeed.

Orange Hazelnut Biscotti – pretty addictive and perfectly enhanced with orange zest and juice. Have some with a cup of tea, why don’t you?

And here comes the best part – I am giving away one copy of My Sweet Vegan to a lucky reader (thanks to Alisa from Go Dairy Free for providing the copy)!!!!! Woohoo! I meant to have the giveaway earlier so I could mail the book out before the holidays, but we bake all year, so I guess it doesn’t matter much, right? Good! To enter the drawing, just leave a comment telling me your favorite baked treat (recipe links would be awesome!!!). I will happily ship overseas so don’t let that stop you from trying to win!!! I will choose a winner on Wednesday, December 30th. Hurry up already and leave a comment!!!! Get excited to bake up some seriously sweet treats!!!! Good luck!

I hope everybody enjoys the remainder of 2009. I am partial to even numbers, so I am mighty happy about the approach of 2010. Best wishes to each of you in 2010.

Sweetness (=Giveaway!!!)

Do you remember when I reviewed a wonderful product called Xagave? Well, Robyn from BetterBody Foods & Nutrition has graciously offered to send one lucky reader a free 18-ounce bottle of Xagave! Nice huh? If you would like to participate in the giveaway, simply leave a comment telling me about your favorite use for agave nectar (recipes are always a good idea!). I know lots of us are planning to bake up a few storms with the onset of the holidays and some free agave nectar would certainly make life a bit sweeter, right? Right. Oh, and please make sure to leave your comment by Friday, December 4th. I will randomly select a winner on December 5th. Good luck everybody!!

Agave nectar makes pretty cupcakes: