Thursday, March 15, 2018

Real Food, Real Fast: Cookbook Review

By now, you've probably heard about Hannah Kaminsky's fabulous new book "Real Food, Real Fast." It's so popular, that the first printing edition is already almost sold out! How rad that there is such enthusiasm for vegan food. 

Hannah and I go waaaaay back - I've been reading her blog for so many years I can't even remember how long it's been. Hannah was just a (super talented) little teenager back then... but from the beginning, her blog always had an excellent style and sense of personality. She's written a few other great cookbooks, and it's been wonderful over the years to see her interest in photography develop and her recipes become more daring and creative. 

So, I was super stoked to review her newest book, Real Food Real Fast. Plus, I am definitely interested in quick, delicious and healthy meals. That's pretty much what I'm always looking for. 

real food, real fast! 

Tempeh Fries with Peanut Satay Sauce

This recipe is actually from the Snacks and Apps chapter, but it actually made a totally excellent light dinner. These tempeh "fries" have a simple but excellent flavoring on them, and are sauteed in the pan. They are SO good and toothsome and the peanut satay sauce is absolutely delicious. That sauce is so amazing - spiced, spicy, tangy, and rich. 

In the interest of adding some greens to our meal, I made some steamed-then-seared broccoli. It was such a good combo. The broccoli was also super tasty with the peanut sauce. I really love tempeh, but I don't make it nearly often enough. Writing about it and looking at this picture makes me feel ready to eat this again!

bonus gado gado with extra peanut satay sauce 

When I was making the peanut sauce, I messed up the measurements by accident and had to make a double batch to correct my error. Well, no problemo! I was stoked to have a double batch of that good stuff. I made a batch of gado gado to enjoy with the peanut satay sauce. 

Falafel Fattoush

This Falafel Fattoush is from the Salads chapter. I halved the bread and used two pita breads instead of four, and subbed in a bunch of lettuce. This salad was fantastic! We loved the fresh herbs and toasted sesame seeds. And it had an excellent spicy kick from the red pepper flakes. I added some tahini sauce too, because I cannot resist tahini sauce. True to the promise of the book's title, this recipe really was a quick dinner made after one of my late teaching nights.

  speedy doodle 

Three Pea Soup

I am a huge green pea fan, but I'm not actually a huge fan of split pea soup. So I was super stoked to see that this Three Pea Soup uses frozen green peas, fresh snap peas, and pea sprouts. What a fun and fresh spin on pea soup. It's a light soup, and surprisingly filling. All that fresh pea action gives the soup a great pea flavor - I especially loved the fresh pea salad. The recipe calls for cashew butter, which I never have on hand, so I used almond butter instead. I also added a little extra of almost everything - peas, spinach, fennel, salad... because who can resist? But I did reduce the oil, which I almost always do. I'm generally quite wary of fresh fennel, but I really loved the inclusion of the fennel in this soup!

fennel friend! 

Tofu Shakshouka

I've always wanted to try a vegan version of Shakshouka! This one was just a semi hit - I loved it, and Mr VE&T wasn't crazy about it. We both really loved the sauce , but Musty wasn't really a fan of the tofu dumplings. Oh well, more for me!! This recipe is in the breakfast chapter, but I made it for dinner, and then I ate the leftovers for breakfast and lunch. So, it's pretty much a take-all meal. I made a 1.5 batch and got four nice hearty servings out of it.

I left out the smoked paprika, to keep the flavors a little lighter. I might play around with the dumplings recipe a bit and see if I could figure out how to make Mr. VE&T like them - maybe make them a little softer. I think the chickpea flour I've been using is extra dense, so perhaps I will reduce it a touch. I want Mr. VE&T to like this dish, because I really like this quick and savory breakfast.

Straight-up Chickpea Scramble

Whoa! I loved this recipe! I served it with chopped scallions and my homemade fermented hot sauce. It was quick and simple, and easy to throw together with with simple pantry basics. Instead of using actual cooked chickpeas, this scramble used chickpea flour, which I always have on hand. In the interest of making this a lower-calorie meal, I reduced the oil by a lot, and used lite coconut milk instead of full-fat coconut milk. So quick to prepare and such a lovely result: this scramble feels like a mix of tofu scramble, socca, soft polenta, grits... simple and very filling and satisfying!

I made this on a day when I came home from a day of teaching, a long practice, and then a bunch of errands and I was desperate for a satisfying lunch at 4 pm. This came together so quickly and totally hit the spot -- along with a big pile of broccolini and a huge orange. Obviously I like to eat breakfast at non-breakfast times of day.

speedy yum-creations! 


This was a fantastic and quick dinner - based on SE Asian flavors, it came together quickly but had complex flavors! It's full of umami, with a lovely balance between super savory filling and the fresh and crispy lettuce cups. I added a bit extra lime juice and tamari for extra zing. And of course I added a few good drizzles of sriracha, though the recipe itself already has a pretty good dose of heat (entirely manageable by adding more or less red hot pepper flakes). Mr VE&T had a true inspiration and created a relish with cucumber, white onion, and Thai sweet and sour sauce. It was a great addition, but the leftovers were still great without it. This was especially fun because it's not a flavor profile or the kind of dish that I usually make, so it was novel and exciting!


Overall, this book really does live up to its title - the recipes I made felt high in the "food" quotient, and extremely low in the "processed" department. All of the meals I made also came together quickly and without drama or difficulty. What a great combo. There are still so many great recipes that I'd like to try from this book... here are a few:

Seitan Bulgogi
Wasabi Pea Fritters
Millionaire's Kale Salad
French Onion Soup
Tamarind Rasama 
Sweet Potato Cacio e Pepe
Speculoos Panforte (!!!!)
Cheesecake Stuffed Berries
Grilled Banana Kabobs

OMG! Obviously I have a lot of eating to do! 

I'm sorry I don't have a copy for a giveaway, in fact, I only have an ebook copy myself! If you're a ebook cookbook person, you can nab this book right away - otherwise you can find one in your local bookshop, or order it online and wait for the second printing to be complete ( I think that's in May). What a great book, I look forward to getting a hard copy for myself, since I am an old school believer in actual cookbooks!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Jambu Jackie Too Shoes: Super Shoes!

I thought this barrel cactus needed some bunny ears! ha ha.
This picture is from a hike we took at Joshua Tree National Park. What an incredible place! 

Wow! I am so in love with my new Jackie Too sneakers from JambuThe more I wear them, the more I love them! I took them with me on a trip down to the desert last week - I wore them on a couple super hot days, and also on a day when the weather got pretty cool. I brought several pairs of shoes with me on my trip, but in the morning, I'd try them all on and I almost always picked my Jackie Toos because they are just so comfortable! 

I chose the Jackie Too shoes in Charcoal/Mint. They mostly appear a nice deep grey color, but as the knit exterior stretches, you can see little bits of minty green peeking through from underneath. And there's also a minty green stripe along the bottom. 

It's the super cool knit exterior that really makes these shoes. It's airy and breathable and very comfortable. It's also more reinforced around the toe area, so the shoes feel durable. The Jackie Too sneakers have memory foam insoles, like many styles from Jambu. I love the memory foam insoles because they feel so good.

High Fives!
Sometimes Dottie gets overly excited about "high fives" and just wants to bonk me with her nose instead. I love how Snoopy is completely airborne in this picture! What joie de vivre!

The knit fabric of these sneakers makes them cozy and breathable at the same time. This is a nice combo, because they're comfortable to wear for a cool sunset beach walk with my puffer on, and on a hot day with shorts and a tee -- from the sea to the desert! So versatile!

My happy feet and a Jumping Cholla cactus in Joshua Tree National Park
I really love cactus plants so much. They are so resilient and creative in their adaptations. And they are oddly beautiful. I was careful not to get too close - I didn't want to snag my beloved sneakers! 

They don't have laces, but instead the Jackie Too shoes are adjustable with the little pull tab in front.  It's easy to get them on and off, and it's easy to get them as snug as I want. It's so great to just pull them on and go when I'm heading out the door to teach -- particularly since I am almost inevitably running a few minutes late! 

When we were walking our dogs at the beach, we scrambled up on to a big rock to watch the final pastel glimpses of the sunset. It always feels special to be at the beach late when there are so few other people or dogs there.

I was stoked at how safe I felt scrambling up the rocks at the beach and on our hike in Joshua Tree National Park - the Jackie Too sneakers have pretty grippy soles, and even though the knit fabric is so comfortably stretchy, my feet also feel really secure and snug in the shoe, so I felt quite sure-footed.

These shoes are more athleisure than designed for any specific athletic pursuits, but they are obviously super comfy and great for kicking around town, long walks, easy hikes, and having fun! Highly recommended!!

Jump for Joy! 
** Save 20%! **

Happily, I have a coupon to share with you from my pals at Jambu! Use the coupon code VEGAN18 to get 20% off any purchase at Note that not all the shoes Jambu makes are vegan, but they have a really great selection of vegan shoes for women - everything from sporty sandals, dressy shoes, sneakers, boots, and more. So many great choices for vegans who like cute and comfy vegan shoes!

Let me know if you get some - maybe we can be shoe-twinsies!!

Joshua Tree is a truly incredible place! 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Biennial Olympics Party Fun!

Ice Dance Routine
Footie and Mr. VE&T are quite a skating team! 

special name tags:
which country are you representing?
what is your favorite winter Olympic sport? 

Are you an Olympics fan? I know there are all sorts of logistical reasons to be on a bummer with the Olympics, but I am a die-hard fan. I just love seeing people and faces from all around the world, all that training and discipline and perseverance, upsets and surprises, the whole biz! Every two years we throw a silly and festive Olympics party.

This is a party with rules (we know how to have fun, ha ha!). The rules are: 
 - Everyone who comes has to adopt a country to represent
and then bring a dish from that country's cuisine to the potluck
Bonus points of recognition are awarded for wearing national colors or traditional attire
Silly games will be played, so you must be up for silliness! 

doggie snowboard cross!

My dad, representing Ghana, came up with an amazing dish - Ghanaian street food called Kelewele. These are plantains tossed with spices, fried, and served with peanuts. They were unlike anything I've had before and they were very good!! 

As you can see, my dad also got Bonus Points for wearing a Ghanaian shirt! My mom's parents lived in Ghana for a couple years while serving in the Peace Corps, back in the 1970s. My grandma was a very gifted seamstress and brought home loads of gorgeous fabrics. I don't know for sure, but I suspect she must have made this shirt for my grandpa. The fabric is so amazing! 

Mr VE&T always likes to represent Croatia (his heritage), so he brought two delicious Croatian spreads: Ajvar and Pinjur. They both have a roasted red pepper base, but the pinjur also has eggplant in it. If you have an international market near you, you should be able to find these. We ate SO much of this stuff when we were in Croatia many years ago. Eating again always brings back happy memories!

One of Mr VE&T's tennis pals came and it was really fun to spend some time with him. He represented China and brought a huge container of take out Chinese food - an excellent solution after a long work week! The main dish he brought along wasn't vegan, so I didn't take a picture of it, but happily, all the fortune cookies that came with it were vegan! How fun. I got a hilarious fortune:
"You are very interested in sports, gambling, and horses, but not to excess." What on earth???

Yummers and I both love Ski Jumping
As you can see, he is very good at it

My aunt L and her partner came representing Brazil and brought a huge pot of vegan Feijoada, with accompanying limes and cilantro. Wow this was so good. Happily there was a ton of it, so I got to keep some for lunch the next day too. The sweet potato was so perfect and added a nice touch of sweet to such a savory dish.

Pasta alla Vodka

J, A, and E came representing Italy (always a good bet!), and they brought two amazing dishes: Pasta alla Vodka, and Caponata (picture below). Oh man. Italian food is definitely one of my all-time favorite cuisines. How did they think of so many amazing dishes?? The Pasta alla Vodka was wonderful - she used cashew cream for the cream in the sauce. This dish is a "pink sauce" - half creamy sauce and half red sauce - and it's so good. Not as heavy as some cream sauces and not as acidic as some red sauces. It was great! 


I'm sorry for this dark picture, especially because this dish is sooo delicious: eggplant, grilled artichoke hearts, green olives, bell peppers and tomatoes... I don't know what else is in there, but it is so flavorful and rich.  We got to keep a little container after the party was over and we savored it for a couple days. This stuff here is pretty much Mr. VE&T's dream food. He was seriously grooving on it. 

My aunt's friend E. was representing Mexico and he made a wonderful platter of vegan enchiladas. What a special contribution! I love enchiladas, but I almost never make them since they seem like so much work. Kinda like lasagana! So, it's a super special treat to have someone else make a bunch of enchiladas and bring them to our party. They were delicious! 

My aunt was representing Guatemala and brought copious chips, salsa, and guacamole. A perfect addition to the party! You pretty much can't go wrong with that combo.

Not pictured! 
My friend Connie had to be a little bit late, and actually she arrived right when we were sitting down to eat. Perfect timing! But in all my frenzy to eat my plate of yummy food, I forgot to take a picture of her contribution. She was representing Ethiopia, and brought some really fantastic Ethiopian tomatoey lentils called Misr Wot. Her dish was such a hit! I think she said this was from a vegan pressure cooker cookbook. I also got to keep a couple scoops of her lentils for leftovers and I think maybe they were even better the next day. 

As the host of the party, I also always represent the host country, so this time I was representing Korea, and I made Ddeok (using this fantastic recipe that my friend A gave me a while ago). I used tofu, ddeok (Korean rice-wheat cakes), onion, and broccolini. I also made a lot of extra sauce because I wanted it to be more saucy. This dish is so perfect - savory, a touch of sweet, a touch of spicy, veggies, protein, starchy fun -- it's got it all! I made a 1.5 batch, thinking I might have some leftovers... but no! This giant bowl of goodness was all gone by the end of the evening. Yeah! 

here is our whole spread of international dishes
ready to be enjoyed! 

"But what about drinks?" you might ask. Don't worry, we gotcha covered. I went to Bevmo, and loaded up on all sorts of sodas, fizzy waters, and beers from all around the world. So fun! J & A also brought some really nice Korean Toasted Barley Tea - you really could taste the toasted barley, and it was very nice. I haven't had tea like that before! 

Please forgive me, I didn't take any pictures of Dessert!!

My mom came representing England and brought her amazing Christmas Pudding, which she doused with brandy and lit on fire. Oh my gosh, it is so delicious and so beautiful and I couldn't find my camera anywhere, and by the time I found it, the flames had burnt out. My mom usually makes this for New Year's Eve every year, but this year we were sick and didn't get to celebrate together. So, it was so great to finally indulge! 

Mr VE&T brought some Croatian wafer cookies called Napolitanke. When we were in Croatia, we really ate a lot of these. Ha ha. Most of the flavors aren't vegan, unfortunately, but the Hazelnut ones in the red box are - and they are a fun little treat! Croatians are *serious* about wafer cookies. You know how American grocery stores have a huge long aisle full of cereal choices? In Croatia, they have that same long aisle, but it's full of wafer cookies. FOR REALZ. 

For our silly games, I made some Olympic medals of our own... I always find a high-res photo of the actual medals, and use that to create my own medals. Maximum authenticity! 

Staring Contest! 

One of our favorite Olympic games is the time-honored Staring Contest. It's completely low-skill and yet delightful! We have single elimination, so if you out stare someone, you have to find another person who has also beat one person. And so on... until we arrive at the finals - competing for the silver and gold. If I recall correctly, I think J (on the left here) was our gold medalist! 

Also, you can see my most excellent and never-ending banner of flags of the world that we draped all around the whole living room. I bought it online last year, but I hadn't opened it yet and I was amazed at how super super long it was and how many flags there were. So festive! 

Our second silly game was our version of Biathlon, one of my Olympic favorites.
In our version, each "athlete" had to spin around super fast five times, pick up a pen and draw a perfect circle, then spin around the other direction five times, pick up a pen with the other hand and draw a perfect circle. It was silly madness and was totally fun! The final scores were based on a combination of timed execution and the judges' appraisal of how well drawn the circles were. 

Snoopy sporting a silver medal, but I think you all know he has the gold medal in my heart. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

JSport Joy vegan shoes: A Rave Review

Joy shoes from JSport (by Jambu)

You probably know that I am an enthusiastic brand ambassador for Jambu Footwear, and I have some reviews coming up for four of their new spring styles for this year. Not all Jambu shoes are vegan, but they do have a lot of great vegan shoes for women - from sandals to sneakers to heels to boots! So many great choices!

The first pair of shoes I am reviewing this spring are these amazingly comfortable, stylish, and playful Joy shoes by Jambu's JSport line. I am just loving these shoes, I really can't stop wearing them. Joy is a great name for these shoes, because they will make your feet so happy! 

These shoes are great - the fabric is so pretty and comfortable and unique. The grey and white part is a stretchy sweater-knit fabric, and then the black part is a super cool stretchy weave pattern... with a not-too-snug black band around the ankle. Even though the fabric is so elastic, my feet feel very stable and snug in these shoes. They comfortably flex and follow the shape of my feet, it feels so good. 

The soles have a good sporty grip on the bottom, which really makes them feel stable whether I'm walking around town or scampering around over the rocks in my garden. And they're substantial enough that you don't feel every rock and pebble underfoot. The soles are also made partially with recycled rubber, which is great. More recycled materials being put to use, please! 

The Joy shoes have memory foam insoles, like many Jambu shoes do. I love the way these insoles feel - they're so comfortable, it's like walking with cozy clouds under my feet. 

 Oh, Joy!

I was all alone on my walk, so I had to get creative with taking selfies with my beloved shoes!

I brought these shoes with me on a recent trip to Berkeley. I was there for a 5-day yoga philosophy and asana course, which was absolutely amazing. Our course was very time consuming, but one day we got out earlier at 4pm, and I had time for a nice long walk in the Berkeley hills in the late afternoon sun. The Berkeley hills are so beautiful - gorgeous homes, blossoms absolutely everywhere, secret hidden staircases, tiny little streets to explore... it was such a great walk. My JSport Joy shoes were a delight - even as I was trekking up and down hills and staircases. For a brand new pair of shoes to be that comfortable on a long walk with no blistered or chafing is pretty fantastic! 

In fact, the first two times I wore these shoes, I did wear them with some black socks, just to break them in a bit. But I think they look extra super cute without socks. They also look cute with my yoga tights, which I am so grateful for, since I spend so much of my life wearing yoga tights!

The Joy shoes are a cool mix comfy, sporty and stylish. They don't look like sneakers, but they feel like sneakers. You can wear them with yoga tights and look sporty, or wear them with nice pants and look stylish and put-together. So versatile! I really like the creative knit look of these shoes. I got mine in Black, but they also come in a beautiful deep red color and a deep royal blue (can you believe I didn't get blue? I was brave and decided to try something new. Ha ha). 

very cute shoes and a very cool secret staircase

Whee! Cute and comfy vegan shoes! 

20% off all of Jambu's vegan shoes for women

The folks at Jambu have given me a coupon code to share with you:
Use the code VEGAN18 to get 20% off any purchase at - good until June 30th. 
(Psst! The Joy shoes by JSport are super awesome!)