Marty Tribble is a local yoga instructor, life coach, vegan and much more. She writes a fantastic blog called Ahimsa Kitchen with tons of great vegan recipes. She and John Arms have organized a retreat to help new and old vegans expand their plant-based culinary skills.
From Marty:"Are you an established vegan, new vegan, or vegan-curious? Whether you are already on the plant-based foods path or just beginning your exploration, this retreat is for you! Come build your plant-based culinary skills in an accepting, loving, commUNITY oriented atmosphere."
Visit Marty's website for lots of details on all the great things you'll learn about healthy vegan cooking and food preparation.
What's included: Lectures, Q&A, hands-on tutorials & cooking demos, all food supplies and equipment, all meals, gentle yoga for digestion, and lodging Friday and Saturday night.
Cost: $375-$425 per person, depending on when you register
When: Friday April 25 at 5pm through Sunday April 27 at 3pm
Where: Shalom House in West Bend, Wisconsin
Details and Registration: http://www.martytribble.com/midwest.html
Other links for Marty Tribble Yoga:
Recently I sat down with Cassie, owner and creator of a new vegan whole foods dessert company called V.Sweet. We swapped stories and I was reminded of how comforting it is to talk with others who have gone through similar struggles upon discovering the problems with the standard American diet. As a mother and someone who leads a healthy lifestyle, she has struggled with satisfying her (and her family's) sweet tooth without relying on processed sugar or other unhealthy ingredients.
I asked Cassie to sum up her company and she shared the following:
"My mission for V.Sweet is to create a whole food dessert company passionate about creating hand-made, vegan desserts sweetened only by what nature has provided. I take pride in the transparency of our ingredients, business, and intentions. By promising to use only whole foods, organic and local whenever possible, we always cook with love and intention so that you can truly live healthy and eat sweet. I want to serve the health-seeking community of vegans and whole-foodists alike who, like me, want to see more food on our shelves without preservatives and ingredients we can't read."
Although Cassie is in the beginning stages of developing her company, she already has several well-tested products online available for purchase. She shared some Peanut Butter Chocolate Date Balls and Vegan Fudge with me. At first I was a little worried--I had tried a lot of "healthy" desserts in my time and they were never comparable to the "unhealthy" ones in flavor or richness. When I brought them home, I even told my boyfriend (before trying them), "you probably won't like these because they're healthy." WOW. I was totally wrong--everything was incredible!
The date balls tasted like the buck-eye ball cookies my mom used to make--rich chocolate and peanut butter flavors with a great texture. Of course, once I realized how amazing these were I shared them with my boyfriend and another guy friend who wouldn't normally appreciate a "healthy" dessert--they both loved them! These are made with only Medjool dates, raw organic cacao powder and natural peanut butter.
Thrilled with my first taste, I moved on to the vegan fudge. Now, I'm not a huge lover of regular fudge--it's always too rich for me, so again I was a bit hesitant. The ingredients are 100% organic maple syrup, organic brown rice syrup, peanut butter, organic coconut oil, organic raw cacao, bourbon vanilla, and pink himalayan sea salt. These tasted like Reese's peanut butter cups--so flavorful without being overly sweet! My boyfriend loved them too, of course. :)
Cassie is determined to expand her business this year. To get the word out to more people in the best ways possible, she has dedicated herself to this as her full-time job. A few weeks ago, she launched a Kickstarter Project for V.Sweet Dessert Company and encourages everyone to check it out. Make sure to visit soon since the Kickstarter ends on February 21st!
Cassie wanted everyone to know:
"I love the strong, growing vegan community here in the Dairy State and since I am a bootstrapping solo-preneur who has not taken on any partners, I hope you will feel comfortable with my accountability and level of commitment to getting V.Sweet off the ground and continuing to serve the Milwaukee area (and beyond!) for as long as you seek health and still have a sweet tooth:). I pride myself on being open and honest, so please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any feedback or questions about me, V.Sweet products, or the Kickstarter project and I will get back to you quickly! Thank you!"
If you live in the Milwaukee/Waukesha area and you want to order some of her desserts, you can do so online and have them delivered, or you may be able to arrange for a pick-up/drop-off situation if you contact Cassie directly. Enjoy healthy sweets and support a local business at the same time!!
Rocky Shepheard, creator of The Vegg vegan egg, was kind enough to send me some of the Vegg to try, along with the great cookbook you see here. If you haven't heard of it yet, the Vegg is a powdered, natural product that mimics eggs in both flavor and texture. There is also a baking mix that is slightly different that was created specifically for egg replacement in baking.
The 1.56oz size I received makes the equivalent of 30-40 yolks. This size is available at VeganEssentials.com for $6.99, but you can get the larger 4.5oz size at the Vegg Shop directly for $8.50 and it provides over 99 servings.
I've been working with the standard egg replacement which contains the following ingredients: Fortified nutritional yeast (dry yeast, niacin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, thiamin hydrochloride, folic acid, vitamin B12), sodium alginate, black sea salt, beta carotene. It's a no-fat, no-cholesterol, gluten-free and soy-free option for dishes that work best with either an eggy flavor or that require a binder.
Our first question was "what's sodium alginate?" That was the only ingredient that we weren't familiar with. In fact, to create an actual yolk, one of the the recipe calls for you to add more of this. Well, we looked it up and saw it has been used for indigestion, dental impressions, and even help pull radioactive substances from the body (woah!). But Wikipedia also notes, "In recent years, sodium alginate has been used in molecular gastronomy. Ferran Adrià pioneered the technique, and it has since been used by chefs such as Grant Achatz and Heston Blumenthal. Sodium alginate is combined with calcium lactate or similar compounds to create spheres of liquid surrounded by a thin jelly membrane." Well, there you go--spheres of liquid surrounded by a thin membrane...makes sense. It's totally safe too, by the way, and you can even stock up on Amazon.com.
We made two main recipes so far. The first up: crepes. This is something my boyfriend loved to make, so we were excited to give it a try. I was in charge of prepping the Vegg. You can see the powder in the photo here. This recipe called for 1/4 cup, so I blended 1 teaspoon (I know this photo shows 2tsp, but don't worry, we did it right) with 1/4 cup of water in my mini-blender.
This was actually the trickiest part in both recipes we followed. You are warned not to mix the Vegg by hand--it probably would not be blended enough. So, my mini-blender worked great, but when you're working with such small amounts you really need to make sure you don't have any leftover lumps floating around or stuck to the wall. So, I'd suggest opening the blender once or twice and making sure all the powder was blended in properly.
As you're doing this you will notice the "egg" smell right away...it's a sulfuric smell that comes from the black salt in the mix. The texture is like a whisked egg.
For the crepes, the recipe was fairly simple--blending the Vegg with non-dairy milk, water and flour. The batter stuck together as expected and the crepes themselves were tasty. We sprinkled a little sugar on them and added some fruit preserves. And...had a side of tempeh bacon. They don't look as awesome as the photo in the cookbook, but they were delicious!
Our next recipe was Scrambled Tofu with the Vegg added. This time it called for 2tsp of Vegg powder mixed with 1 cup of water. We did that in the mini-blender again while in the pan we had already sauteed some onions and mushrooms (put aside) and were now cooking the tofu crumbles. I avoided all the other things I normally add into a scramble, such as tahini, soy sauce, and various spices to see what this would taste like on its own. I think all we added was a little garlic salt and pepper at the end.
Here you can see what it looked like right when we poured the Vegg into the scrambled tofu. As we cooked it, the mixture became firmer. At this point you can decide how "wet" you want your scramble and stop when you like the texture. When it was almost ready, we added the mushrooms, onions and chopped tomatoes in. We served them up like breakfast burritos. Although the flavor was good on its own, I always add hot sauce and that made it even better!
Now, my boyfriend is still vegetarian (so he does eat real eggs occasionally) and he has never been a fan of my regular tofu scramble. This, on the other hand, he really enjoyed because it was closer to a real scrambled egg. He said he'd definitely make this again, which is a big step for him :)
We only scratched the surface here with these two recipes. Some other dishes I want to try include the french toast that everyone seems to rave about, quiche, using it to coat veggies before breading and frying, and using it as a binder in a veggie burger (keeping all those tasty ingredients together is a challenge sometimes).
I would definitely recommend the Vegg to all vegans to try at least once. (If you're really put off by the sulfuric egg smell, I might avoid it though.) The cookbook is highly recommended too if you want a great selection of recipes to start your experimentation. If you do a lot of baking, the baking mix would be perfect for an easy substitution for eggs in standard recipes. Overall, I think there are a lot of possibilities here if you used to love the taste eggs or if you're like me and never really cared for them, but like the way they function in food.
Feel free to share your experiences with the Vegg as well!