Saturday, October 3, 2009

Saturday Sustenance for October 3, 2009

This week, Central Market has organic gala apples, $1.49 per lb. and organic red tomatoes on the vine, $1.79 per lb. They also have a foodie freebie where if you buy a whole or cored gold pineapple, you get a free package of 4.4 oz. blueberries for free with an in-store coupon.

Newflower has:
conventional pomegranates, 2 for $3.00
conventional sweet Asian pears, 2 for $1.00
conventional gala, Granny Smith, and Braeburn apples, $0.39 per lb.
conventional hard winter squash (including kabocha), 3 lbs. for $1.00
conventional D'Anjou or red pear, $0.88 per lb.
conventional broccoli, $0.77 per lb
conventional peaches and nectarines, $0.99 per lb.
conventional jewel or garnet yams, $0.99 per lb.
conventional Jack o' Lantern pumpkins, 2 for $10.00
organic red or green cabbage, $0.77 per lb.
organic Roma tomatoes, $1.77 per lb.
conventional whole raw almonds, $2.99 per lb.
bulk short grain brown rice, $0.69 per lb.
Amy's frozen Indian meal, 9.5-10 oz. for $2.99 each
Good Karma organic whole grain rice milk, $1.59
Pacific natural soups and broths, 32 oz. 2 for $3.00
Pacific organic soups and broths, 32 oz. 2 for $4.00
6 inch hibiscus plants, $6.99 each

Sprouts has:
conventional Hass avocados, $0.77 each
conventional red, green, Romaine or iceberg lettuce, $0.88 each
conventional yellow or green summer squash, $0.88 per lb.
conventional cantaloupes, $0.99 each
conventional asparagus, 4lbs. for $5.00
organic gala or Granny Smith apples, 4 for $5.00
conventional Junior Mammoth pecan halves, $3.99 per lb.
conventional macadamia nuts, $4.99 per lb.
Westsoy 32 oz. low fat soy milk, buy one, get one free, regular price $1.79 each

Sun Harvest has:
conventional asparagus, $1.49 per lb.
conventional sweet potatoes, $0.88 per lb.
conventional maradol papayas, $0.88 per lb.
organic cauliflower, $0.97 each
organic celery, 2 for $1.00
Blue Diamond almond milk, $1.79 for 32 oz.
bulk long grain brown rice, $0.69 per lb.
Viovi organic blood orange juice $3.49 for 25.3 oz.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Saturday Sustenance for September 26, 2009

After an unseasonably cold and wet week, forecasts are saying we'll have a warm and sunny weekend, which will be perfect for the Texas-sized potluck with Melisser of The Urban Housewife. It's been good weather for baking or roasting, and the produce at this time of year is delicious slow roasted or baked into sweet or savory goods.

In a semi-related vein, much of our garden was eaten by bugs and others pests long ago, and most of what wasn't eaten withered and died during the long, hot drought, but our trees and a few herbs are still alive and I'm excited to say that the lemons on our Meyer lemon tree are finally starting to to turn yellow. I wish I knew how to tell when limes were ripe, as I imagine the Mexican limes should be ready to eat soon as well. I've been eagerly anticipating the time when we could harvest some fruit from any of our trees, as we've had kaffir lime trees since 2005, and fig trees since 2006--we also have a banana tree, but it's really young, and I don't think it will fruit until 2010 or 2011, if at all in this climate. The kaffir trees have yet to flower, though we have been able to use the leaves in some dishes. The fig trees have produced figs for two years, but late rains last year made the fruit unsalvagable and this year the fruit was eaten by bugs or rodents before it had ripened enough to pick.

In grocery news, this week Central Market has extra large pomegranates, 2 for $4.00, and organic Honeycrisp apples $2.99 per lb.

Newflower has:
conventional asparagus, $1.47 per lb.
20 oz. packages of super cherry tomatoes, 2 for $3.00
conventional jumbo cauliflower, $0.99 each
organic Hass avocado, $0.99 each
Tofutti Cuties, $2.49 for an 8 pack
Pacific Foods non dairy milks, $1.59 for 32 oz.
Pacific Foods organic broth, $0.99 for 32 oz.
conventional raw walnut halves, $2.99 per lb.
Newflower brand artichoke bottoms, $1.99 for 14 oz.

Sprouts has:
hot house tomatoes, $0.49 per lb.
conventional red, orange or yellow bell peppers, $0.77 each
conventional Bosc or Barlett pears, $0.77 per lb
conventional Red delicious, Gala, Jonathan, Granny Smith or Fuji apples, $0.49 per lb.
conventional Sno-White cauliflower, $0.99 each
conventional raw almonds, $2.99 per lb.
conventional Brazil nuts, $3.99 per lb
15 oz. Westbrae organic canned beans, 5 for $5.00
Cascadian Farms organic frozen vegetables, $1.69 for 16 oz.
Tofutti Cuties 8 packs, 2 for $5.00

Sun Harvest has:
conventional cantaloupes 10 for $10.00
conventional large navel oranges, $0.77 per lb.
conventional strawberries, 1 lb. packages, 2 for $3.00
conventional Bartlett or red D'Anjou pears, $0.97 per lb
organic Bosc pears, $0.97 per lb.
organic Fuji apples, 4 lbs for $5.00

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Saturday Sustenance for September 19, 2009

Today is my sweetheart's birthday! I made him his birthday meal last night, and today we plan to hang out with friends and eat German Chocolate cupcakes. I'm really excited because after having a record breaking heat wave--where we had 100+ degree temps every day, and a terrible drought--we finally received tons of rain and have had relatively cool weather this past week, so hopefully Austinites can take advantage of that this weekend.

This week Central Market has red or white organic seedless grapes $0.99 per lb.

Newflower has:
conventional cantaloupe, 3 melons for $1.00
conventional jewel or garnet yams, $0.99 per lb.
conventional green beans, $0.99 per lb.
conventional kiwi fruit, 5 for $1.00
refrigerated Silk soymilk, 64 oz. for $2.49
organic cauliflower 2 heads for $4.00
organic gala apples of barlett pears, $1.40 per lb.
organic bunched broccoli, $0.99 per lb.
organic Cascadian Farms frozen vegetables, $1.99 for 16 oz. bags or 7.4-10 oz boxes
organic High Country kombucha tea, $1.99 for 16 oz. bottles

Sprouts has:
conventional green beans, $0.77 per lb.
conventional sweet potatoes, $0.77 per lb.
Blue Diamond Almond Breeze, 32 oz. packages, buy one at$2.29, get one free
Seapoint Farms organic frozen edamame, 14 oz. bags, 2 for $3.00

Sun Harvest has:
conventional Hass avocados, 4 for $1.00
organic green onions, 2 for $1.00
organic green or red cabbage, 2 for $1.00
organic barlett pears, $0.77 per lb.
Imagine Foods Almond Dream, 32 oz. packages, 2 for $4.00
conventional bulk pecan halves, $5.99 per lb.

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Saturday Sustenance for September 5, 2009

The big foodie news in Austin this weekend is that a new grocery store, Sprouts, has opened two Central Texas locations, one in Round Rock, and one in Sunset Valley. I haven't been to the either of the Texas locations yet, but I checked out Sprouts the last time I was in Colorado, and was struck by Sprouts' similarities to the Newflower chain(called Sunflower in Colorado). I'm glad to have more choice and I have no doubt that there will be insanely low prices, but one thing that I find kind of...aggravating about both of these stores is the subtitle, "Farmers Market" that both companies tack on to the end of their respective names. Don't get me wrong, I do shop at Newflower because it's close, convenient, and reasonable, but it doesn't compare to, and could never take the place of Sunset Valley Farmers Market for me. I guess I just want to reaffirm my love of real farmers markets, and encourage you to check them out before going to a grocery store, especially since they have the freshest, most seasonal, local produce.

There's not really much advertised at Central Market this week for vegans, but one item of note is that the Westgate location is now carrying the Soyatoo organic topping cream in aseptic containers (the non-aerosol variety) for $3.99 a package. I've only tried this once with cocoa powder for a quick, light, chocolate whip cream style frosting for cupcakes, but it worked nicely and was way better than the aerosol version (which inexplicably smelled like play dough). Soyatoo used to be available only through mail order, and while you can still get it from places like Pangea and VeganEssentials, one of it's best attributes is the convenience it offers, and that's not really apparent when you have to order it two weeks before you plan to use it. One other great thing about it is that is has a pretty long shelf life if left unopened. It is also available at Wheatsville, although I'm not sure of the price there.

Newflower has:
conventional Hass avocados, 3 for $1.00
organic bunched broccoli, $0.99 per lb.
organic red, green, or black seedless grapes, $1.99 per lb.
organic Italian or yellow squash, $0.99 per lb.
Boca burgers, 10 oz packages for $2.49
and their 48 hour weekend specials include:
organic Just Tart Cherry pure cherry juice, 32 oz. $3.49
conventional cluster tomatoes, $0.99 per lb.

Sprouts has:
conventional red, orange or yellow cluster tomatoes, $0.99 per lb.
conventional whole seedless watermelons, $0.99 each
conventional green beans, $0.99 per lb.
organic red leaf, green leaf, or romaine lettuce, $0.99 each
44 oz. bottles of Wholesome Sweeteners organic agave nectar, $5.99
Garden Burger veggie burgers, 10 packages 2 for $5.00
frozen Wyman's Berries, 12--15 oz. packages 2 for $4.00

Sun Harvest has:
organic broccoli, $0.97 per lb.
3 lb. bags of organic gala apples, $2.97
organic red of green seedless grapes, 2 lbs. for $4.00
organic Bartlett pears, $0.77 per lb.

Happy Labor Day weekend!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday Sustenance for August 29, 2009

This week, Central Markets continues their Hatch Chile Festival, where they offer fresh roasted Hatch chilies. They also have cara cara navel oranges, $1.49 per lb and organic on the vine tomatoes $1.79 per lb.

Newflower has:
conventional red bell peppers, $0.99 each
organic cantaloupe, $0.77 per lb
organic cauliflower, 2 heads for $3.00
organic, on the vine tomat0es, $1.77 per lb.
Earth Balance soy free buttery spread, $2.99 for 16 oz.
So Delicious Coconut Milk beverage, 64 oz. for $2.99
Lundberg organic couscous, 2 for $3.00 for select 6.8-10 oz. varieties
And, for Saturday and Sunday only, canned roasted red peppers, 19 oz for $1.99 or
Stahlbush Island Farms frozen berries, $2.49 each for 10 oz. bags

Sun Harvest has:
conventional Hass avocados, $0.49 each
organic Valencia oranges, $0.77 per lb.
organic broccoli, $0.97 per lb.
organic Colorado sweet onions, $0.77 per lb.
organic Newman-O's, 9 oz packages, 2 for $3.00

Friday, August 21, 2009

Saturday Sustenance for August 22, 2009

Sorry for missing last week, I wasn't feeling very well. Hopefully, you had a great week.

This weekend, Central Market has Hatch Peppers in from Hatch New Mexico for $0.99 per lb. Both this weekend and next weekend, CM is having their annual Hatch Chile Festival. They also have organic raspberries and blackberries, 2 containers for $5.00.

Newflower has:
conventional on the vine cluster tomatoes, $0.67 per lb.
conventional large Hass avocados, $0.77 each
raw walnut halves and pieces, $3.00 per lb.
organic large bell peppers, $0.99 each
organic celery, $0.99 a bunch
organic radishes, $0.99 a bunch
organic cantaloupe, $0.77 per lb.
organic Newflower brand fruit spread in 9 oz. jars, $1.99
organic Cascadian Farms frozen vegetables, $1.99, 10 oz.
Pet Promise dry pet food, $9.99 for 5--6 lb. bags
Dogswell Veggie Life Treats, $3.99, selected 5 oz. varieties

Sun Harvest has:
conventional Sweet O'Henry peaches, $0.49 per lb.
conventional broccoli crowns, $0.88 per lb.
organic red seedless grapes, $0.97 per lb.
organic on the vine cluster tomatoes, 2 lbs for $3.00
organic strawberries, 1 lb packages, 2 for $5.00
organic white nectarines, 2 lbs. for $3.00
organic Sun Harvest frozen vegetables, 2 for $4.00, 16 oz.
organic Ezekiel 4:9 bread, $2.99
Arrowhead Mills puffed cereal, $0.99, 6 oz.
Maranatha No Stir peanut butter, $2.99, 16 oz.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Saturday Sustenance for August 8, 2009

Central Market doesn't have much on sale for vegans this week, just asparagus for $2.49 per lb. and a deal for a free 10.5 oz. package of Cherub tomatoes and 8 oz. package of sliced mushrooms when you buy a Central Market Organics 1 lb packaged salad, with an instore coupon.

Newflower, as usual, has a large selection of conventional produce on sale:

Bartlett pears, 3 lbs for $1.00

kiwi, 5 for $1.00

broccoli crowns, $0.88 per lb.

artichokes, 2 for $3.00

red or green leaf lettuce, $0.88 each

red, green, or black seedless grapes, $0.59 per lb.

New Mexico Hatch chilies, hot, medium, or mild, $0.88 per lb.

organic kale, green, lacinto or red, $0.99 each

organic strawberries, 8 oz. packages, 2 for $4.00

organic zucchini, $0.99 per lb.

white or wheat frozen pizza dough, $1.99 each

Boca frozen meat analogs, 10--12 oz. packages, $2.49

Amy's organic frozen pizzas, $3.49 for 13--14 oz.

Westsoy unsweetened or Longevity soy beverages, $1.49

and, over the weekend, only, 2 whole pineapples for $3.00 and Santa Cruz organic lemonade, 32 oz. for $0.99.

Sun Harvest has:

seedless watermelons, $1.97 each

white or yellow nectarines, $0.97 per lb.

organic seedless watermelons, 3 lbs. for $1.00

organic celery, 3 lbs. for $1.00

organic strawberries, 1 lb packages, 2 for $5.00

organic yellow nectarines, 4 lbs. for $5.00

Westsoy low fat soy milk, 32 oz. 10 for $10.00

16 oz. organic Bionaturae dry pastas, 2 for $5.00

Purely Decadent frozen desserts, $3.99 each

10 oz. Cascadian Farms organic frozen vegetables, 2 for $4.00

and, for the weekend only:

red or black plums $0.77 per lb.

walnut halves and pieces, $2.99 per lb.

broccoli crowns, $0.77 per lb.

large vine ripe tomatoes, $0.77 per lb.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Saturday Sustenance for August 1, 2009

This week, Central Market has red, orange, or yellow tomatoes on the vine for $1.99 per lb. They also have 6-packs of Breckenridge Brewery beers for $6.99. All Breckenridge beers are vegan friendly, and I've been waiting for them to go on sale so I could try their Agave Wheat, though their Oatmeal Stout, Vanilla Porter, Pandora's Bock and SummerBright Ale also sound good.

Newflower has:

conventional donut peaches $0.88 per lb.

conventional yellow peaches are $0.49 per lb.

conventional red, green or black seedless grapes are $0.88 per lb.

conventional yellow onions $0.29 per lb.

conventional asparagus $1.99 per lb.

organic Woodstock Farms frozen vegetables 10-oz. bags for $1.99

organic Rice Expressions rice blends, $2.49 for 20-30 oz. packages

Rising Moon organic frozen ravioli select varieties, $2.49 (some, but not all varieties are vegan)

Westsoy soymilk, 32-oz. containers 4 for $5.00 for select varieties

And, August 1st and 2nd only, 8-oz. packages of organic strawberries are 2 for $3

Sun Harvest has decent deals on their produce again this week:

conventional red cherries $0.88 per lb

organic yellow onions $0.67 per lb.

organic cantaloupes $0.67 per lb.

organic romaine lettuce $0.97 each

organic seedless grapes $1.97 per lb.

organic pineapples 2lbs for $3

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Saturday Sustenance for July 25, 2009

Sorry about getting this up late, I was not feeling well last night or this morning, and then we had to get a new head for one of JD's drums and help a friend get rid of some stuff at Half Price Books and Goodwill. We did get to enjoy a nice little feast of cucumbers, green bell peppers, hummus, eggplant dip (it was just called eggplant dip, and was better than any baba ganoush I've ever tried), red pepper walnut dip, tabbouleh, pita and fava bean salad from Phoenicia Bakery. I also scored a huge package of lavash(4 or 5 pieces of yard long flatbread) for under $2.50.

This week, Central Market has fresh haricot verts $2.99/lbs. large artichokes 2 for $5, and strawberries, 2 1-lb. containers for $3. In the beer section, they have a yummy-sounding Estella Damm Lager Beer, $5.99/6 pack, though I'm not sure if it's vegan (I don't usually drink lagers, and am not really familiar with the brewing specifics).

Newflower has:
conventional cantaloupes, 2 melons for $1.00
conventional watermelon, 4 lbs for $1.00
conventional black or red plums, $0.99/lb.
conventional white flesh peaches of nectarines, $0.99/lb.
organic yellow flesh peaches and nectarines, $1.99/lb.
conventional red or green leaf lettuce, $0.88 each
64 oz refrigerated Almond Breeze $2.49 each
Cascadian Farms frozen organic fruit, $2.49 for 8- or 10-oz.
Tempt hemp-based frozen dessert, $2.49 for 16 oz.
conventional whole pitted dates, $2.00/lb.
conventional walnuts, $3.00/lb.
Earth Science facial care products, 30% off selected varieties( I love their moisturizer with sunscreen!)
Himalaya Organique Body Care, 30% off entire line
and Diann alerted me to Newflower's 48 hour weekend sale which includes:
conventional Italian squash, 2 lbs. for $1.00
conventional mulitcolored carrots, 2 lbs. for $1.00
So Delicious refrigerated coconut beverage, $2.99/64 oz container
aloe vera juice, $9.99/gallon

Sun Harvest has some good deals on their organic produce this week:
organic romaine lettuce $0.97 each
organic blackberries in 6 oz packages, 2 for $5.00
organic Hass avocados, 4 for $5.00
organic yellow peaches, 2 lbs for $3.00
organic white quinoa, $2.99/lb.
conventional jasmine rice, $0.99/lb
red or black plums, $0.97/lb.
blueberries, $0.99 for 11 oz packages (limit 6)

Hope you're enjoying all the gorgeous stone fruit and berries!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saturday Sustenance July 18, 2009

This week, Central Market has Black Mission or Sierra figs for 4.99 per lb. Walla Walla onions are $0.79 per lb. plus all their bulk herbs and spices are 15% off. The south location has my favorite selection of chili powders and paprikas, so now would be a great time to try something new.

Sun Harvest has:
cantaloupes, 10 for $10
Wild Oats brand frozen organic strawberries 2 10-oz. bags for $3
organic celery, $0.77 each
organic apricots or yellow nectarines, $1.97 per lb
walnut halves and pieces, $2.99 per lb.
Blue Moon, $5.99 for 12-oz. 6-pack

Newflower has
organic white peaches or white nectarines are $1.99 per lb.
organic red or green grapes are $1.99 per lb.
organic red or black plums are $1.99 per lb.
organic Soy Dream soymilk in 32 oz. aseptic containers is $1.59
Nasoya Silken Creations flavored silken tofu is $1.59 per 17 oz. package
conventional bing cherries $0.99 per lb.
conventional green bell peppers, 2 for $1
large cantaloupe, $0.98
Cool Brew Celestial Seasonings Iced Tea is 2 for $5 for 40 count packages

With the high temperatures we've been having, this is a great time to grill out, and most of the seasonal stone fruit is great on the grill.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Change is Gonna Come

Considering I've had this blog since 2006, I haven't made very many posts at all. Part of the reason is that I've had trouble maintaining a constant level of inspiration; usually I was either cooking so much I didn't have time to blog about food, or so lacking in time, inspiration, or other resources that I wasn't cooking anything fun.

The vibrant local blogging community has been having tons of meetups, potlucks and other get-togethers, and while I haven't been able to attend them all, I have met some beautiful, enthusiastic, and generous people, which has lead me look internally to see how I could better contribute. I've been thinking a lot about how I can make a blog that's a great resource, and I've come up with a few ideas. If you've been reading Vegan Vanguard for any length of time, you've probably noticed one big change already, but I plan to implement more in the coming weeks, and I would love to get your feedback.

While I haven't updated this blog regularly, I have had a continuous online presence, updating my flickr account, interacting on twitter, and participating on the VRA forums. These networks and formats, along with my personal experience--teaching, doing lots of trial and error, and grocery shopping, a whole hell of a lot of grocery shopping--have given me some ideas for new features.

In the coming month, I will be adding these features, and based on feedback, tweaking them. The first new feature is a weekly summary of the best local grocery deals. It doesn't sound like a groundbreaking idea, but I've never heard of anyone else doing it before now. Additionally, during this recession, people are looking for ways to save both time and money, and it's a rare occasion that I teach a class without at least one person asking where I bought a given ingredient. I'll be focusing on produce, and items of particular interest to vegans. The biggest piece of feedback I need is which day to post this. Wednesday is the day when new sales start, and some grocery stores do double ad Wednesdays, but I feel like most people do their shopping on the weekends, especially during the summer when the farmer's markets are overflowing. Since I'm posting on Saturday this week, I'm calling this feature Saturday Sustenance. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Saturday Sustenance

This week, Central Market has their Old Tyme varieties of heirloom tomatoes on sale for $2.99/lb. They also have small, regular and jumbo conventionally grown asparagus for $2.99/lb.

Sun Harvest has some of the best organic produce deals:
fresh organic white corn, $0.77 each
organic black plums, 2 lbs. for $3
organic cucumbers, 2lbs. for $3
organic red cherries, $2.97/lb.
conventional red cherries are $1.47/lb.
conventional brocolli crowns, $0.77/lb
conventional young zucchini or yellow squash, $0.77/lb.
conventional red or black plums, $0.77/lb.
conventional white onions, 3 lbs for $1
conventional radishes, cilantro or scallions 3 for $1
bulk long grain brown rice $0.69/lb.
and much of their body care products are 25% off this week.

Newflower has some exceptional deals in their frozen and refridgerated section:
So Delicious organic coconut-based ice creams, $2.99/pint
Nate's Meatless Meatballs, $2.49/12 oz bag
Good Karma organic rice milk, $1.49/32 oz container
organic kombucha, $1.99/16 oz jar
conventional bulk almonds, $2.99/lb.
two different brands of 32. oz organic lemonade, 4 for $5
organic red or yellow onions, $2.99/per 3 lb bag
organic zucchini 2 lbs for $3
conventional fresh green beans, $0.99/lb.
Texas-grown seedless watermelon, 2 melons for $4

Make sure to get out early and visit the farmer's market, as it's currently fig season! In addition to fresh figs, sweet corn, blackberries, peaches, tomatoes, peppers, okra, salad greens, melons, fresh creamer beans, fresh black eyed peas, green beans, radishes, beets, and eggplant are all in season in Austin. If you're lucky you might even find candy cane beets, edible flowers, or fresh young dates.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Vegan Sweets

Austin has a great vegan community and we're really lucky to have such a wide selection of choices and so many great companies that are not only receptive to us, but work hard to accommodate us. This is a particularly good week for vegan sweets in Austin for two reasons. First, this week marks the end of the World Wide Vegan Bake Sale, which Austin is participating in with two separate bake sales:

Bake Sale #1
Date: Saturday June 27, 2009

Time: 11am – 5pm (or until the baked goods run out; be sure to come early!!)

Address: 110 E. North Loop
Austin, TX 78751

More Info: and/or get in on the discussion at

Special Note: We still need bakers! Contact Leslie Ramos at if you are interested in volunteering. She can provide recipes and vegan baking tips to those who might need a little help. Each baker will receive a surprise Thank You gift!!

The second Austin bake sale is very special, and is being hosted by Miss Julie's Learning Center:

Date: Friday, June 26

Time: 3pm – 6:30pm

Venue: Miss Julie's Learning Center

Address: 201 Ranch Road 620 South
Austin, TX 78734

Special Features: Bake sale will take place during our open house. There will also be crafts and jewelry.

The second noteworthy item this week is that Whole Foods' flagship location has begun offering vegan doughnuts. Let me rephrase that, Whole Foods' flagship location has begun offering a variety of doughnuts, all of which are vegan! I've only been able to try two flavors, but apparently they have a wide range including apple fritter, lemon-filled, raspberry-filled, chocolate, glazed, cinnamon sugar, and coconut glazed. If you go and check out the labels, don't be surprised if the coconut doughnut is marked as containing eggs and dairy; I've been assured multiple times that that label is old and that all of their doughnuts are indeed vegan. They also have a variety of vegan cakes, including Joy's Vegan Chocolate Cake (which is, unfortunately, terrible), a carrot cake, and a cookies and cream cake. I haven't tried the latter two cakes, I'm not a fan of either flavor, but I'm very sad that Whole Foods chose to reformulate their Chocolate Mousse Cake and add dry milk powder so that it's no longer vegan. Please go and try them, but get there early or call first, as they've been selling out of the doughnuts daily. If you try them and like them, please send feedback to the store, both the good (how much you appreciate them listening to our requests and responding to us) and the not-so-good (how important it is for those with special dietary needs, religious or spiritual concerns, and allergies that food be properly labeled).

Finding fresh, local vegan doughnuts is especially exciting for me because it enabled me to watch Twin Peaks and eat doughnuts with my unrequited love, Special Agent Dale Cooper. My last attempt to do so was foiled: I had heard by word of mouth and read in the Austin Chronicle that Mrs. Johnson's had vegan doughnuts, but when I called, no one there even knew what vegan meant, and they told me they used a boxed mix which contained milk powder. This is something that's been up for much debate on the VRA forums, but I never felt comfortable trying their doughnuts.

In fact, recently, many area vegans have been corresponding with local businesses that have either been less than forthcoming about what is and isn't vegan, or have possibly been deceptive. This is one reason it's so important to show appreciation and give feedback when companies are receptive and forthcoming to us. But that's for another post, this post is for calling out noteworthy vegan sweets.

Sugar Mama's Bakeshop
has been selling vegan cupcakes since October 2008, but they're one of my favorite places in Austin, and I've never mentioned them. They offer a rotating selection of cupcakes, usually having two vegan options daily, and they don't just relagate the vegan options to plain or predictable flavors, instead they give us Margarita, Dreamsicle, Mint Chocolate, Lemon Raspberry, Pineapple Upside Up, Cookies n' Cream, Birthday Cake, and Ginger Cookie and prove vegan baked goods aren't inferior. The cupcakes are petite, but plenty satisfying, very moist, and flavorful and they offer the only non-homemade buttercream-style icing that I've ever enjoyed. It's sweet, but not immediate sugar headache sweet, and creamy without feeling like a mouthful of fat. They also offer pupcakes for your four legged friends and soymilk if you'd like a drink with your treat. They're committed to being as green as possible using wind power, and compostable, unbleached and recyclable materials and offering discounts if you bring your own box. Did I mention how cute the actual store is? Delightfully adorable! Plus they're located close to downtown and they have free wi-fi and a great website which lists their daily flavors. Sugar Mama's has made a great mark on the community in the short time they've been around, even giving out free cupcakes during much of SXSW. They are also prone to selling out early, so call before you go.

Hey Cupcake! offers vegan cupcakes made by Celeste's Best, unfortunately, I've yet to try them, but from all accounts I've heard they are moist, delicious and come in unexpected and adventurous flavors like banana walnut with buttercream frosting. Celeste makes other baked goods, including cookies, sweet quick breads and cakes. Visit Celeste's site to see her menu of goods and a list of other locations where her goods are being sold.

The last vegan sweet I'm going to mention is NadaMoo vegan ice cream. NadaMoo was created by one of my first vegan/macro teachers, Amy Ramm. Amy is unrelenting in her commitment to quality, and it shows. When she first started producing NadaMoo for local businesses she was unable to find chocolate chips that met her standards, so what did she do? She began making her own chocolate chips! As NadaMoo has grown, its recipe has been reformulated a few times, and now, Amy's found the perfect recipe for smooth, creamy ice cream that's certified gluten free*, agave sweetened, soy free* and lower in calories and fat than most other varieties of ice cream, vegan or not. NadaMoo is also very involved in the community, sponsering local businesses, and organizations and often giving out free samples at various events around town.

*one flavor may still contain gluten or soy.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentine's Day Events and Love Bites

Okay, I'm pretty busy keeping a lot of balls in the air right now, but I'm so proud of this gluten-free cake recipe that's so moist and delicious you can serve it to anyone and they'll ask for another slice, and these Love Bites which are as ubiquitous in my house around Valentine's Day as bunnies and chocolate eggs are for Easter or flags and grilling are for Independence Day. They're the definitive sign that Valentine's Day is upon us. So I'm reposting the recipe for you to enjoy.

Or, if you're in Austin, you could save the baking for another day and come out and buy a few Love Bites from The Natural Epicurean's 5th Annual Bake Sale. I'm leading the baking this year, and I planned the menu as well as created most of the recipes. We'll have three different kinds of Love Bites, including a chocolate mint mousse version, Cheesecake with Chocolate Hazelnut sauce, Blood Orange Coulis, Blackberry Coulis and Pineapple Ginger Coulis, and Hello Dolly Bites, all of which will be vegan, gluten free, and free of refined sugar, plus Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cashew Créme Cheese Icing, Baklava, and Spanakopita, which will be vegan and free of refined sugar. Some of our items will also be soy free. The bake sale will be on the Casa de Luz Campus at 1701 Toomey Rd., Saturday, February 14, 10:00 am - 2:00 pm or until we sell out.

I won't be able to attend the whole bake sale, though, as I'll be teaching a the Annual Aphrodisiacs: Cook to Love, Love to Cook class, where Rachel Zierzow and I will be making showing how to make a luscious and seasonal meal of: Artichokes with Lemon Butter, Porcini Mushroom Soup with Chestnuts, Tempeh Italiano and Toasted Pine Nuts over Seasonal Greens, Risotto Milanese, Maple Roasted Winter Squash with Apples and Fennel, Chocolate Amaretto Mousse with Almond Tuile and Kumquats.

The class is Saturday, February 14th, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm at Casa de Luz in the Cielo Room, and the cost is $55.00 for a single attendee and only $27.50 for a friend or family member who enrolls and attends with you. Per couple, it is $82.50. To register, please call (512) 476-2276.

Love Bites
Christina Terriquez

Yields: 20 servings

Valentine’s Day is a perfect special occasion to indulge in something really decadent with your loved ones. However, one of the biggest problems with indulging is the indigestion and feeling of heaviness that accompanies most baked goods. Nothing ruins romance like an upset stomach or feeling bloated and too-full.

These Love Bites are gluten-free for easy digestion. They have a complex yet classic combination of flavors which is rich and satisfying, yet their petite size makes them a perfect end to your meal, that won’t leave you or your sweetheart’s tummies feeling overstuffed.

1 recipe Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake
1 recipe Crème Anglaise for garnishing, optional

1/4 cup organic juice sweetened raspberry preserves, diluted
with 1 or 2 teaspoons of water

3/4 cup organic unsweetened non dairy milk, like soy, oat,
coconut, almond, rice, etc.
1/2 cup chocolate chips*

organic fresh raspberries for garnishing, optional

Prepare Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake and Crème Anglaise according to recipes.

Place chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl. In a saucepan, heat soymilk over medium-high heat until soymilk just begins to boil. Pour hot soymilk over chocolate chips and let stand for two minutes. Whisk soymilk and chocolate together until a smooth homogeneous texture is achieved.

To assemble Love Bites:
Place a wire cooling rack over a cookie sheet.

Cut off any crisp or tough edges of Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake and set aside for other uses. Cut remaining cake into individual servings using a small heart cookie cutter, or cut into 1 inch squares. If using a cookie cutter, make sure it is no more than 2 inches by 2 inches.

Cut heart in half, so that you have doubled the amount of hearts.

Spread 1/4–1/2 teaspoon of thinned raspberry preserves over the top of half of the hearts, then place another heart on top, creating a sandwich.

Place heart sandwiches on a wire rack/cookie sheet set up. Slowly pour chocolate sauce over each heart, allowing some chocolate to flow down the sides of each heart If chocolate has thickened, heat it or whisk in a tablespoon or two of more nondairy milk. Decorate hearts with raspberries while chocolate is still soft, if desired.

Place chilled and whipped Crème Anglaise in a small plastic bag and cut the very tip of one corner off the bag. Use the bag to gently drizzle crème over each heart.

Allow chocolate and crème to set up. Share with your loved ones.

If you are not gluten free, you can use grain-sweetened chocolate chips. If you are gluten free, but not avoiding sugar, you can use gluten-free chocolate chips. If you are avoiding both refined sugar and gluten, you can use unsweetened chocolate chopped into small chunks and sweetened to taste with agave nectar.

Try using a different flavor of preserves or Cashew Crème.

Substitute your favorite cake recipe for the Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake.

Add 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract to soymilk before boiling.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake
Christina Terriquez

Yields: 9–16 servings

1/3 cup organic quinoa flour
1/4 cup organic chick pea flour
1/4 cup organic white rice flour
1/3 cup organic, free-trade cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon organic ground cinnamon, optional
1/4 cup organic safflower oil
5/8 cup organic unsweetened soy milk or coconut milk (1/2 cup
plus 2 tablespoons)
1 1/2 teaspoons organic white wine vinegar
1/2 cup organic agave nectar
1/8 teaspoon unrefined sea salt, Lima or SI brand recommended
1 tablespoon organic ground flax meal
1/4 cup filtered or spring water
1/2 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon organic almond extract, optional

Preheat over to 350° F.

Prepare one 8 inch square cake pan by lightly brushing with safflower oil, then lining with an 8x16 inch piece of unbleached parchment. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, sift flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon together.

In a large bowl, mix remaining ingredients together. Add dry ingredients and gently mix to incorporate.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30–50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow cake to cool completely on cooling rack. Run a knife along the edges of the cake, and use long ends of parchment to gently remove cake from baking pan.

Double this recipe for a two–layer 8 inch square cake.

Frost with Creamy Chocolate frosting, chocolate ganache, Tofu Cream Icing, Cashew Creme, or serve with Orange Blossom Syrup.

Garnish with a fruit sauce made with fruit sweetened preserves diluted in apple juice or water and thickened with kuzu.

Crème Anglaise
Christina Terriquez

3/4 cup organic unsweetened soymilk
2 tablespoons agar flakes
1 organic vanilla bean
1/3 cup organic coconut milk
1/4 cup organic light agave nectar
1/4 cup organic amasake
1 tablespoon organic vanilla extract
1 tablespoon organic coconut oil, optional

In a medium saucepan, combine soy milk and agar flakes and let rest for 10 minutes.

While agar and soymilk are resting, split vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Scrape the tiny black seeds from each half, and put vanilla seeds and pod into soymilk.

Add remaining ingredients to saucepan and simmer for 10–15 minutes, until agar flakes have dissolved and sauce has thickened slightly. Remove vanilla pod from sauce. Remove from heat and blend in blender or with immersion wand once again. Use immediately for glazing.

If using sauce for garnishing, cool until set. After sauce has set, purée in blender or with immersion wand. Sauce should be soft custard consistency.

Crème Anglaise is usually made with cream, refined sugar, egg yolks and vanilla beans. This vegan version is much healthier for your heart.

Store it in a squeeze bottle (this is a perfect use for your agave nectar bottles when you've used all the agave inside), and use it to garnish any other desserts you make that week.

Make a double or triple batch and put it in an ice cream maker for a rich, French Vanilla-style ice cream.