COOKBOOK CONTEST AND GIVEAWAY: Win a Copy of “Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats” by Allyson Kramer of ManifestVegan.com

Update! Contest extended until August 1, 2012! 

The much-anticipated cookbook by ManifestVegan.com‘s Allyson Kramer, Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats, is here in it’s full-color, delicious glory. And I’m giving away a copy!

WOOOOHOOO, now this is exciting!

CONTEST RULES

1. Head over to the Save the Kales! facebook page

2. Leave a comment with the title and author of a cookbook that means a lot to you. Then explain why it’s meaningful. Maybe it was your first one, maybe it taught you how to cook the meal your family loves most, maybe it helped you change your diet. You decide!

3.  Contest closes on  June 22, 2012 August 1, 2012. Winner will be announced within a week.

 Note: The cookbook you submit as meaningful does not have to be vegan or gluten-free. (Though we’d all love to know about it, if it is!) We can find inspiration all around us, and you’ll find that many recipes in this book are inspired by non-vegan, non-gluten free versions from Allyson’s childhood.

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There are just SOME of the recipes in this book:

  • Olive and tofu feta tartlets
  • Walnut ravioli with vodka sauce
  • Stuffed cabbage rolls (from one Polish girl to another, this is awesome!)
  • Apricot risotto
  • Pumpkin chickpea chili
… Do I need to go on? Um, yes. You want this book.
AND Not only will you win a copy of this book, I’m throwing in a super comfy, ultra-soft Save the Kales! tee shirt. Shirts are gray with black ink, printed by a local (and vegan!) screenprinter Bird Apartment, and have a nice fitted v-neck style without coming from a company with questionable ethics.

Win a Save the Kales! shirt

Okay, we have a little time ’til the contest is over, but it starts NOW! 

Go go go!

COOKBOOKS AND HAPPINESS

Woo, what a week! This week I’ll get to see the FULL episode of the show, and it’ll air by the weekend, I do believe! Dates and times to come! We’re also going to be taping some of Episode 2. Man, this is just too much fun.

But let me point you to some things:

The first is a wonderful project that YOU can be a part of: A Cookbook Fundraiser for Bethlehem Food Co-op. The Co-op folks are working on putting together a professional, color-photo cookbook as a fundraiser. They are collecting recipes now! Send one in and get it published! We will even borrow the talents of professional food photographers to make your dish look like a fancy supermodel.

Surely your recipes will be better than the ol' sandwich loaf.

Recipes do not have to be veg*n, but in a fun twist, the cookbook is striving to include adjustments for all recipes with tips on how to make them vegan or vegetarian wherever possible.

You (yup, you, the readers!) have proved time and again that you are creative little geniuses in the kitchen, so don’t be shy – send in your work!

GO HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BETHLEHEM FOOD CO-OP COOKBOOK!

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  The second thing I want you to take a few moments and read is this post by Allyson of Manifest Vegan. She posted this a couple weeks ago and I keep returning to it when the mood strikes. It’s inspirational, it’s 100% true, and it’s done in that cheerful oh-so-darling Allyson way.

Please head over to her blog and read TEN SIMPLE STEPS TO HAPPINESS.

Excerpt:

…I discovered a really fascinating way of approaching life through the study of Buddhism and Hinduism: simply to live compassionately. I tossed a lot of what I didn’t feel applied to me and kept that one notion. And, it really does go a long way.

That is why I’m vegan. I’m not in it for denser bones, healthier eyes, stronger muscles, or smoother digestion–although these things are very nice perks. I guess you could say I do it for my mental health. I do it because it makes me happy. I do it because I want to be a compassionate person, both to others and to myself. For me, veganism just fits right in with everything so very nicely.

Ten Simple Steps to Happiness by Allyson Kramer of Manifest Vegan

  • 1) Say thank you, and mean it.
  • 2) Take change as an opportunity to act.
  • 3) Have no expectations. 
  • 4) Smile.
  • 5) Let the important people in your life know how much they mean to you.
  • 6) Don’t get bogged down with toxic emotions like jealousy, anger, fear and self-loathing.
  • 7) Love your body.
  • 8) Help others.
  • 9) Surround yourself with positive people, and let the one’s who don’t bring you positive energy (and especially those with downright negative energy) fall to the wayside.
  • 10) Be the change.

*Note that all of these topics are expanded upon in the actual post, so head over there to read it, learn it, live it.

Marcel the Shell: A modern day prophet

LADIES IN THE KITCHEN: Cooking video with The Blissful Chef, Manifest Vegan and Save the Kales!

By the end of this post, you’ll see a video and the recipe for these tasty goodies: Popeye Cakes with Avocado Dipping Sauce. But I need to tell you about some great girls first…

Popeye Cakes, photo by Allyson Kramer

Popeye Cakes, photo by Allyson Kramer

Last week I went to Philly to meet in person (finally!) Allyson Kramer of Manifest vegan, now a Philly resident, and Christy Morgan, “The Blissful Chef” on her Blissful Bites book tour as she was traveling around from Texas.

This day meant an awful lot to me. Both of these brilliant women have played a rather large role in my own cooking knowledge and inspiration on a very basic level, but I have always admired them for being awesome vegan role models in their own right. (Yeah, I said role models, ladies!)

Allyson and Dot

Two summers ago when this blog went under a bit of an attack (to be fair, it needed to happen and that   instance taught me a lot), Allyson found my email address and wrote the most beautiful, supportive email. It      meant so much to me at the time that someone reached out to share her own story of a similar issue, how to deal with it, to remember not everyone thinks about things the same way, and NOT to be deterred from moving forward. I had just read about her and her work in VegNews magazine and she was somewhat of a celebrity in my eyes, and she was writing to little ol’ me?

It’s been nearly two years since that first email, and Allyson has been around since then to be my sounding board and a point of graceful insight when things in “the vegan community” can get confusing or disillusioning. Many times I’ve hastily written to her, a knot in my stomach, and an email 18 paragraphs long of rambling and spelling errors, and she always comes back with incredible insight, even if it’s just to say she’s felt the same way.

None of that even begins to touch on her work. I have an older interview with her HERE, though some information is different now, she’s had much more recognition for her work, and her book Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats is coming out in June. You’ll be buying it, riiighhht?

Christy Morgan cooking demo

Christy Morgan is a powerhouse. I was surprised when I met her to see how tiny she is (I’m taller than someone, what?!) because she operates on this go-go-go level. She is a trained macrobiotic chef and has participated in countless cooking demonstrations on TV, at Vegfests, and most recently at the super-big-deal IACP NYC event.  She teaches cooking classes and can do nutrition consultations over the phone, so if you’re looking to work with a true professional, give her a call.

Blissful Bites is a gorgeous full-color book that teaches basics like knife skills, to the simple “what’s the difference between vegetarian and vegan?”, and each recipe has notes to let you know if it’s low oil, gluten free (most are), can be made in less than 45 minutes, etc… It’s broken down by season, THEN by type of dish within the season. So… it’s Spring, and you’re hungry for lunch– Boom. A ton of recipe ideas. How cool is that?

Brunette Vegan Cooks with Glasses club, first meeting.

Christy offered so much insight on book deals, touring, working with clients and people of all backgrounds and skill levels, and “a typical day in the business”. I don’t know if this girl ever stops working! She’s a great example of how hard work pays off.

OKAY, I’M DONE GUSHING FOR NOW! On to the recipe!

When I got to Allyson’s house I had just got done hugging everyone and we had a few rounds of “Oh my gosh, we’re all hanging out together!”, we immediately got to work on making some lunch. Allyson had a well-stocked fridge with every vegetable you could think of, so we started throwing things together and came up with what Christy has dubbed: Popeye Cakes!  (They are green and kind of tasted like spinach, despite not using any spinach!)

Here’s a video and the recipe (taken from The Blissful Chef Blog):

Popeye Cakes with Curry Avocado Sauce
(makes about 14 cakes with 2 cups sauce)

Popeye Cakes

Toasted sesame oil
1 bunch chard, chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 zucchini, grated
4 baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon coriander
1 29oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoon flax meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown rice flour

Preparation

Heat up a medium skillet with sesame oil then saute veggies with spices for a few minutes. Cover with lid and stir occasionally. In the food processor, blend chickpeas with mustard, vinegar, flax, and salt until no big chunks remain. Add sauteed veggies and pulse those into the chickpeas until well combined. Place mixture in a large bowl then mix in flour until well combined.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with SIlpat or parchment paper. Wet your hands and form cakes about 2 inches in diameter. Place on cookie sheet and continue until all mixture is made into cakes. Bake for 30 minutes, then flip and bake for 20 more minutes. Meanwhile make your sauce!

Curry Avocado Sauce

1 small bunch kale, steamed
2 avocado, pitted
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 lime, juiced
1 lemon, juiced
1/3 cup fresh dill
1 teaspoon white miso
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)

Preparation

Place all ingredients in a food processor, and blend until smooth and creamy, about a minute. Scrap the edges of the bowl a few times to incorporate all the ingredients. Serve on top of Popeye Cakes or as a dip with corn chips!

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Thank you so much, Allyson and Christy, for being friends and inspirations. I’m on a path that has no clear direction but forward, and there aren’t a lot of people I can turn to for personal experience and advice, but you have filled that void and I’m thankful and proud of you both.

Thanks to Kate for taping the video and taking photos so we can always remember this day!

The only still photo of the three of us, haha.

Allyson’s blog Manifest Vegan, and Christy Morgan’s website The Blissful Chef.

MANIFEST VEGAN: An interview with Allyson about her Beautiful Blog!

One of my favorite vegan food bloggers has agreed to talk to us for a super-inspiring interview! The wonderful Allyson Kramer of Manifest Vegan tells us about using food as activism, raising a vegan family and building community through the internet.

One glance at Manifest Vegan and you’ll see why this lady is such an inspiration! And it’s nice to know the woman behind the blog is every bit as sweet and friendly as her food is beautiful and delicious. Allyson’s recipes are her own and she is also the talented photographer behind the photos that help us look at our computer screens and begin to imagine the tastiness on her end.

Please enjoy this interview, and keep an eye out for the cookbook Allyson is working on. We should all be so lucky to invite her into our homes! Thank you, Allyson!

You started Manifest Vegan in 2009. Did some event happen that got you to finally start the project? Was it a long time in the making? What influenced your decision to write the blog?

Well, it was sort of a series of events…. I studied art in college (painting and sculpture).  And although I loved making art, I didn’t love the scene that came along with it. I was a homebody, and not much of a face to face people person.  I also was working various art related jobs, heading to a career in museum work, and I just became burnt out. At that point I knew I was using my creativity incorrectly.

I was always making art about subjects that mattered the most to me- mostly sexism and in a strange, and nowhere near as defined way, animal rights ( because they are completely connected, although I didn’t realize it at the time). I wanted to share my experiences through my art, and talk about the issues that were always on my mind.  And even though I was immersed in the art scene and actively showed my work- I never felt like I ever had an audience with my art.  Even if there was literally an audience, I was not convinced my message was getting through to anyone. So, I stopped pursuing traditional “art” in a sense, and converted my energy to advocating veganism.

I thought the web would be a nice gallery space where I would have an easier time getting my work seen, although my subject matter and message became a little more direct.  Now my medium of choice is photography, and my message is “go vegan! ” or at least “hey, try this cookie!”

How would you briefly sum up your blog and its mission?

I want to share recipes of delicious vegan food so people will make it, eat it, and enjoy it – with no animals being harmed along the way. I’d like to think I am helping to debunk the “vegans eat only salads myth” by handing out free info about how much youcan eat while being vegan. It’s my own version of vegan activism. Some people hand out pamphlets, I hand out recipes.

(Sticky Buns!  Vegan and AWESOME.)

When did you first become aware of veganism? Did something in particular trigger your decision to delve into this lifestyle?

I first became a vegan back when I was 15 years old. At the time, there was limited internet access, and “being vegan” was not too common. There was very little information out there, and I had only been exposed to the more glamorous side (the health benefits) of becoming vegan. I had checked out a small book from the library about vegetarianism, and in the very back of the book there was a section encouraging you to take one step further and go vegan.

I listened, and went vegan for about two years. Unfortunately High School got the better of me.  I fell off of the vegan wagon and jumped back on again about 5 times until I finally bucked down and watched “meet your meat” and “earthlings”.  I forced myself into a very needed wake-up call and immediately turned vegan… again… for good.

How do you hope to illustrate the idea of veganism to people who aren’t familiar with it, or may have preconceived notions of what it is?

I hope to illustrate it colorfully, deliciously, and simply… exactly as veganism really is!

(A throwback to comfort food. Creamy NO-Chicken and Rice)

For you, is a vegan diet about health, the animals, the environment? All of the above?

I definitely do it because I believe (above most other things) in leading a non-violent life.  The health benefits of eliminating animal products and the environmental benefits of a vegan diet are also very good indicators for me that I am doing the right thing.

How has blogging impacted and maybe even changed your life?

It has really opened up many doors for me. For a long time I was only exposed to people and ideas relating to art. Now, I feel like the people I can have conversations with about my work are from all types of backgrounds and experiences.  My blog keeps me focused on constantly upping my knowledge and connecting with people who have similar goals- very much like I have always done with art. Blogging has changed my perspective on art and communication in general, though. I see the potential of art everywhere now -not just in a gallery or museum.

(Fig and Walnut Ravioli Dolci. Clearly made by someone who studied art.)

I also have made advancements in my recipe development, and food photography skills which is enabling me to write my very first cookbook.  I never saw myself as a cookbook author until I began blogging, but now I am excited to be on such a path.

What sort of feedback do you get from people about your blog and your recipes? How does that encourage and inspire you, or perhaps cause you to reassess what you do?

I love my readers. Hands down, I couldn’t ask for a more supportive group of people! It seems like readers are really enjoying my work, and actually look forward to new stuff- which is amazing. My readers give me confidence about my work, fuel new ideas, and I take their feedback (whether it be comments, emails, or links from other bloggers) as a critique. I like that a lot, and I learn from it  constantly.

One big thing that I was afraid of doing with my blog was going gluten free- I thought everyone would freak out and unsubscribe. But, seeing as I had celiac disease, I really had no choice. The amount of positive reaction I received after the change was incredible! I not only didn’t lose my original subscribers, I gained more who were looking for gluten free recipes. I feel really grateful for having such open minded and loyal readers.

(This one seals the deal for me. PIEROGIES. Oh yes she did. Somehow, Allyson crawled into my dreamland of Polish dumplings raining from the sky and growing from the earth like cabbages. Well, at the very least anyone who includes pierogies in their recipes is a true friend of mine.)

Do you have any cooking inspiration? Do you watch cooking shows, read certain books or blogs, get inspired by certain cuisines, etc? Is cooking a personal or meditative experience for you?

My mom taught me how to cook without actually teaching me. She would cook for hours in the kitchen and I would lurk around, secretly noting every move she made and every ingredient added. When I was just 8 years old, I dove into her humongous recipe file and whipped up my first batch of cookies. They turned out really well!  I have been hooked on making my own food ever since.

We don’t own a television set so I never see any cooking shows, and to be honest, I really try and NOT read other people’s recipes unless the idea of what I am trying to make is totally foreign to me.  I feel like too much exposure may influence my originality. Again, it’s a lot like making art. You have to see a lot of it and talk about it often to understand it, and appreciate it, and to get a better perspective… but making your own stuff (all the time) is really the only thing that will make you better at it. At least that’s true for me.

(Mushroom and Asparagus Tart. Showstopper. Make your dinner guests salivate.)

And, cooking is definitely both personal and meditative for me. My favorite place to be is in the kitchen, I could spend all day in there! I even enjoy washing the dishes, and will just start doing them to get a break from all of the hustle and bustle on the weekends!   You can easily find me cooking something up three times a day. It’s kind of an addiction, I’d say. Now that I have a family, the rewards of sharing my cooking creations make spending time in the kitchen even better.

When I contacted you about doing this interview, you made a very positive comment on fellow bloggers supporting each other and not getting too competitive. What is your take in the community aspects of blogging?

Community is everything! I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the support that is bountiful in the blog-o-sphere.  I have met so many wonderful people through blogging, who have honestly become better friends of mine than many of my friends in the “real world”.

It is incredible the amount of good that can happen when people connect with each other, rather than segregate themselves. No matter what our core differences, I think ultimately we all [vegan bloggers] want to communicate the same message “stop eating animals”, and having a community of likeminded individuals makes it all the easier to spread that message loud and clear.

(Pumpkin Apple Ginger Soup. The Fall season in a bowl.)

You have a friendly and welcoming approach to your blog, which I personally love and also strive to do. Do you think that approach to vegan cooking makes it easier for people new to the idea to get involved with cooking healthier and perhaps changing more aspects of their life?

Thanks Jaime! I think setting a friendly & positive example (not too far from home) is exactly the attitude that needs to be presented to folks unfamiliar with veganism, or any new idea, really.

I personally have never been happier since I committed myself to veganism, and I think many folks would feel the same if they made the switch too. I like to be honest and upbeat, because veganism is not just a lifestyle for me, it’s a cause I truly and wholeheartedly believe in.  I’d like to set a positive example for people, and show them how fun “being vegan” really is- and that I am not at all deprived. I know I am more fulfilled as a vegan than I was as an omnivore, and I‘d like to invite people to investigate that idea.

(When life hands you weeds…. change your perspective and make Dandelion Fritters!)

Is veganism something your whole family shares in? Does it set an example of values for your family? (Tell us about your family, too! Include photos if you’d like.) Is your child vegan?

My husband and I are blessed to share very similar ideas and values (we met and fell head over heels for each other in art school), so we made the vegan switch together.  Since we believe that eating a vegan diet is the very least we can all do to try and lead good lives, our children are definitely being raised vegan. We have an 8 year old boy Landen, who made the switch with us and he really enjoys it. He fully understands that people’s hamburgers contain dead cows, and he was never very excited about that… so it wasn’t a strain to convert him. He has always been a wonderful eater- requesting dark leafy greens, whole grain pastas and fruit over most other foods.

Our daughter, Olive (pictured above), is just a year and a half old, so she has been vegan since conception. She has a voracious appetite for vegan cookies, hummus, kale and tempeh!

Our kids eat far more diverse and whole foods (and dare I say healthier) than any omnivore children I know.  I take pride in that. Someday, I hope they will too.

If years from now you can look back on your blog as having left some sort of impact or legacy, what would that ideally be?

It would be wonderful to look back and say “My blog was a small part of a big movement that helped veganism become as common as it is today”.

And of course, by then, at least half of the world’s population will have adopted a vegan diet.  It could happen…

(Wine AND chocolate? Get the heck out of here. Lucky we’re at the end because my head just blew up. Shiraz Ganache Glazed Brownies.)

Clearly, Allyson and her blog are beacons for anyone that wonders “What can you eat if you’re a vegan?” Try and find a single thing on that blog that doesn’t look appetizing and delicious. (I’ll save you some time- you won’t find anything that doesn’t meet those descriptions.)

I’m also so thrilled to announce that Manifest Vegan can be found in the July-August issue of VegNews Magazine as one of their Top 10 Picks for Veg Blogs! WOW, what an honor! Get yourself to a bookstore and rejoice.

Now get yourself over to Manifest Vegan, and don’t forget to find her on FACEBOOK too.