Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Book Review: Going Raw by Judita Wignall

Do you think raw food is for rabbits? Maybe you think you would be bored, malnourished or hungry. Thankfully, you would be very wrong. Judita Wignall is the author of two books that can show you how easy, tasty and fabulous a raw diet can be.

Today I'm taking a look at her first book, Going Raw (published by Quarry Books). It comes with a DVD where she shows you basic kitchen techniques in a very clear and easy to follow manner. The book provides wonderful information on what raw really means and why you should consider a raw diet. She provides a glimpse of why processed, junky food is so inexpensive (surprise, government subsidies).

The book offers fantastic nutritional information and answers the age old question of "How do you get your protein?' There is a section on the kitchen tools you will need to help make prep a breeze. It's no surprise that my favorite part of the book is the fact that it is full of gorgeous pictures and fantastic tutorials in living color! Oh and lets not forget the recipes! Each recipe includes prep times and when necessary, soaking and drying times to make it easy to plan. There are recipes for juices, smoothies, breakfast, lunch, dinner, salads, soups, desserts and snacks. All the bases are covered in colorful healthy fashion.

My pictures don't hold a candle to Judita's, but here they are. From Going Raw:

Blueberry Cream Green Smoothie (pg.61)

The crazy dark color is from the optional spirulina I added. Contrary to the way it looks, it was sweet, creamy and delicious.

Cucumber Gazpacho (pg. 90)

This was a must as we had a lot of cucumbers coming out of the garden. It took no time at all to whip this up and it made enough for a couple of days. This light refreshing dish is perfection in hot weather.

Orange-Chocolate Mousse Parfait (pg. 130)

This is some serious dessert. It is so rich and decadent. It's creamy texture was incredible! I only needed a small portion to satisfy my sweet tooth. 

Now it's your turn for an opportunity to Do it in the Raw! One lucky reader will have a chance to win a free copy of Going Raw by Jidita Wignall. Just leave a comment on today's post about something you would like to learn about raw food preparation or nutrition by midnight, Sunday, June 30 MST. Please make sure to leave a way to contact you.

I will be posting an interview with Judita and the name of the winner on Monday, July 1st. Now that's a great way to start July!!! I will also be giving away a copy of her newest book Raw & Simple in July! Make sure to check back on July 1st to see if you won!

US, Canada and UK residents only for this giveaway please. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fathers' Day Breakfast

I put the apostrophe at the end of Fathers' Day on purpose. My dad had his strengths, but the emotional fortitude to be a father was not one of them. He did the best he could in other areas and for that I am grateful. I was truly blessed with the fathers of my friends and other family members. They provided me with guidance, confidence, love and stability. I can't ever thank them enough. I think of them all often and smile.

These days I have the pleasure celebrating with Fred who is the father of two human kids and now foster-father to two fur kids. This morning I decided I would celebrate his special day with a fantastic breakfast.

I started with one of my go-to favorite recipes Banana-Pecan Pancakes from Vegan with a Vengeance. These pancakes are seriously the best I've ever had. I often sub walnuts because I always seem to have those on hand. I had some breakfast sausages in the fridge. I can't figure out which book they are from, but I need to figure it out, because they are so good! The seitan bacon is from Upton Naturals. I found them at Whole Foods this week. I was pretty excited to find them in AZ as I tried their crumbles when I was visiting Chicago a couple of years ago. They are chewy, salty and smoky. I'm looking forward to a BLTA with them later on! I try to make it a rule to eat some type of raw fruit or veggie with every meal. Strawberries are awesome right now, so I cut some organic ones up to make the plate complete. Fred was a happy camper.

Happy Fathers' Day to all of you fathers out there (and to the moms who are both parents!)

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Winner of The Sexy Vegan's Happy Hour is...

Thanks to all of you who came by and shared some happy hour thoughts with us! Don't get me wrong, I love to go out and meet friends for happy hour. But to me, happy hour can happen anywhere. All you need is good friends, good food and good drinks.

I'd like to share some of my great Happy Hour Memories with you!

The Bye and Bye, Portland, OR
With Some Awesome PPK-ers

The Riverwalk, San Antonio, TX
With Two of my Besties from Childhood

A beach in Maui, Hawaii with Fred

Showing, Once Again, I always get a bigger pour

In the Winter Time with a Roaring Fire
with Mr. J, the best Glugg maker in the world...Miss you!

On the Deck, Apple Canyon Lake IL
With One of My Very Favorite People

The W, Chicago, IL
with Tami and Liz so much fun!!

Al Fresco, Oviedo, Spain

At Roosevelt Lake, Arizona

Chile Themed Happy Hour

As you can see, you don't need to go out to a bar to partake. You can make it happy hour just about anywhere. Especially when you have great ideas like the one's in The Sexy Vegan's Happy Hour at Home.

Thanks for going down Happy Hour memory lane with me. Now let's get down to what you are really waiting for!

The winner of the giveaway is....#13! Wilmet.forsyth!!!
Congrats!!! Please contact me at vegintraing at g mail dot com with your shipping info. May all of your hours be happy!!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Book Review - The Sexy Vegan's Happy Hour at Home

He's sexy, he's vegan and he's all about happy hour! Brian L. Patton, author of The Sexy Vegan Cookbook, has done it again. He uses his very approachable, humorous style and great happy hour ideas together in a book that is fun to read and easy to navigate.

I love to entertain, so I was very excited when the publisher contacted me to review this book. I tend to obsess and obsess about what to make. It often takes me longer to figure out what I am going to make than it does to do the cooking and cleaning. Sometimes a cooking obsessed girl needs a break from her own menu planning. Brian provides 20 different happy hour menus, so you can pick and go without agonizing over the details. Each menu comes complete with a shopping list. The list can help prevent that "Oh crap, I forgot an ingredient" syndrome. I'm world famous for having to run to the grocery store multiple times for one or two forgotten ingredients.

The menus are designed to take about 1 hour to prep. This one hour timeframe assumes you are using some pre-made, store-bought items like pizza dough and vegan sausage. The good news is you have choices. If you don't like to buy the processed stuff and want to make your own, there are recipes included for those items. I like options!

If I'm following one of the cardinal rules of cooking from someone else's recipe: read the entire recipe first, there are fantastic "efficiency tips" sprinkled throughout the book. These help with timing and prep. Make sure to read them lest you make your life harder. I also love the "WTF" boxes. These are tasty tidbits of knowledge about different ingredients. Hey, you never know, this info could help you win some obscure trivia question down the road.

I had 8 people coming, so I decided on two of the menus: Nothing Rhymes with Citrus (Menu 5) and two thirds of Charred and Roasted (Menu 12) (sorry my time management left something to be desired). The citrus menu was almost a perfect choice for the 110 degree days we have been having. I say almost, because I did have to turn on the oven to bake the tofu for the Tofu-Citrus "Titrus" Dippers (pg.51). The creamy citrus dip was the perfect match for the crispy chunks of tofu. The marinade from the tofu made appearances in the other two dishes on the menu. Being a Virgo, I love the efficiency of this. The light, fresh flavors of the Citrus Soba (pg. 53) and Grilled Pineapple Salad (pg.54) made my tastebuds dance. My guests were crazy about all of it, but the very simple Citrus Soba seemed to be the favorite.

Oh did I mention? The cucumbers are from our garden!!!

The Charred and Roasted menu is super easy! I can't believe I ran out of time and didn't make the Sunflower Seed Spread with Crackers! I have the ingredients, so it will happen. It really looks like it takes no time to make, but the doorbell was ringing as I was rolling the pepper from the Roasted Pepper Rolls, so game over for the cooking portion of the day.

I usually like to make my own hummus, but this fine day I opted for an organic spinach and artichoke version I found at Sprouts for the Roasted Pepper Rolls (Pg.112). These are seriously a slam dunk quick and pretty appetizer. How much easier does it get than drying off some jarred organic roasted red peppers, spreading a little hummus on the strips, rolling up with a leaf or arugula and skewering a kalamata on top with a toothpick? Voila! Oh and the colors are perfect for Christmas!

I love veggies on the grill, as you probably already know if you read my column or saw the recent grilling post. The Charred Broccolini (pg 111) is a quick, tasty way to get your green on. I used my pasta pot insert to cook the Citrus Soba (above). This way I could save the boiling water to blanch these guys with ease. Then it was a quick turn on the grill and a toss in the seasoned olive oil to finish it off. I loved this dish!!!

Oh and let me not forget the tasty libations! Each menu has a libation suggestion. I laughed out loud when Brian suggested that I "just grab whatever floaters of shitty light beer are left on you coffee table from the night before". It brought back memories of the days when my room mates and I actually would make cocktails from leftover drinks. Ah the days of being poor and young. My head hurts just thinking about it.

The Cocktails chapter has some rather interesting twists on traditional adult tasty beverages. He uses some funky ingredients in some of the cocktails. I love the fact that he uses a lot of fresh juices, but if you don't have a juicer, some of these drinks would be left in the dust. We tried the Punchy Pineapple. I had visions of grandeur about making fresh pineapple juice. I'm glad I bought a backup of organic juice. After cleaning the house and the dog, I just didn't have it in my to bust out the juicer and clean it afterwards...options I say!!!

Now the most exciting part of today's post. Yes, dear readers, it has been some time since I've given anything away. No time like the present! Tell me a little happy hour story. Leave a comment about a real or dreamed happy hour experience you've had by midnight (MST) this Thursday, June 14th. The winner will be drawn Friday because according to Brian's Happy Hour Rule Number 3 - "Happy Hour is on Friday. Period."  this is the only logical day to draw a winner. This one is for US residents only. Please make sure to leave a good email address to contact you!

Good Luck, good eating and many happy hours!