Vegan Food Swap Reveal: June 2012

June is the third month I've hosted the monthly US Vegan Food Swap, and it's rolling right along!

The Vegan Food Swap is a program where bloggers and readers alike sign-up to be matched with two people: one person to send a box to, and one person to receive a box from. We all collect items specific to our recipient's tastes and dietary restrictions, and ship the goods around the middle of the month. At the end of each month, the bloggers in the group post a reveal to show you what they scored that month. This is mine.

This month, I was matched up to receive a box of goodies from Cobi Kim of Veggietorials, who is all the way out in Hawaii. Cobi's blog is always entertaining - chok full of bright and amazing photos of her island adventures, her cute pug, and of course, tons of food. She also makes cute video recipe blogs (like this one for Not Yo Mama's Meatloaf).

Cobi sent me a Vegan Food Swap box packed with tasty treats.

Cobi says the vegetable chips above are her favorite. I loved the sweet potato chips!

A full selection of sample-sized sweeteners from Wholesome Sweeteners.
Cobi uses this Kona Coffee rub in her veggie burgers. I'm excited to try it!
If you want to get in on the Vegan Food Swap madness, sign up by July 5 to be included in the July swap.

For a look back on past Vegan Food Swap reveal posts, check here and here.

June participants: Please link up your reveal posts below.


It's Just a Salad

When summer comes, the temperatures soar, and I begin to yearn for a nocturnal lifestyle more than ever, one other important shift occurs in my daily habits. I lose my appetite.

I blame the heat, primarily, for this wicked punishment. These days, I'm still dreaming of freshly baked bread, hearty casseroles, and savory warm dishes. I just don't really feel like eating them. So, naturally, I will turn to salads for most of my meals from, say, now until the scorching summer heat begins to wane.

But I'll never relegate myself to having "just a salad." I'm far too interesting for that, of course. Creative salads are one of my specialties, and I'm working on a series of blog posts to share with you, dear readers, my secrets for turning anyone (really!) into a salad lover.

In the meantime, I just wanted to share this snapshot of a recent thrown-together salad I snarfed during a working lunch. It consisted of baby spinach, mixed fruit (blueberries, strawberries, and fresh apricots), hemp seeds, tempeh cubes, and a simple maple-cider dressing (recipe to come soon!). I constructed this fresh treat from items on hand in my fridge, with essentially no prior planning. It was easy, delicious, and (best of all) required no cooking. Perfect for hot summer days!

Stay tuned for my salad series starting next week!


Sweet, Sour, Whiskey

I think the word you're looking for right now is "yes."

But wait! Even if you're already a fan of the whiskey sour, you may want to hear more before you belly up to my bar.

This here concoction is no ordinary whiskey sour. This is a grapefruit sour, made with intense juicy ruby red grapefruit. I juiced the grapefruit myself with my citrus juicer, and found that 1 grapefruit yields roughly 1/2 cup juice. You could substitute store-bought juice but, if you must, at least make sure that it's not from concentrate.

Now, the words you're looking for are "heck yes."

I adapted this simple cocktail recipe for a refreshing take on an old favorite. In flavor, it's not wildly different than the traditional whiskey sour, except that it's slightly fruity. And, since grapefruit brings all the sour to the party, there's no need to mess around with any nasty, fluorescent-hued sour mix. A small amount of agave syrup (or other liquid sweetener of your choice) balances the sour grapefruit juice perfectly, and doesn't overpower the best part of the beverage: the whiskey, of course!

Grapefruit Sour 
Yield: 1 drink

1 oz ruby red grapefruit juice
1/2 oz agave nectar
2 oz Irish whiskey

Combine all ingredients in a shaker and, well, shake. Serve on the rocks, or neat if you prefer.

I'm looking forward to making this drink a summer staple, and already dreaming about fancying it up with herbs and spices. You could also use flavored agave syrups to make things more interesting. Vanilla Grapefruit Sour, anyone? I'm game.

Now, if you'll excuse me, my ice cubes are melting...


Guest Post: Hungry Vegan Traveler at the Airport

Amanda Just
(photo by Sonal Creates Photography)
Let’s face it: traveling can really mess up your appetite. This is 
especially true for air travel, where there are more rules to follow. Still, in my experience of schlepping from one airport to another (why are one-way flights so hard to find?!), I’ve picked up a few helpful tips.

Pack what you can. Being a budget traveler myself, I cannot remember the last time I checked a bag. This means my carry-on bag is stuffed and weighs a ton. Still, it’s possible to wedge a few goodies into your 80-pound duffel or your feed bag of a purse. Fresh fruit is great (and allowed!): no packaging, wash it before you leave (if necessary – no need to scrub the bananas), and it’s a no-fuss, whole food. Peanut Butter & Co. and Barney Butter both makes little squeeze packets of nut butters in various flavors, if you want to get fancy. And as always, there’s Larabars to the rescue! (Or whatever your favorite vegan bar may be.)

Bring an empty water bottle. You cannot bring a bottle of water with you through the security check, but you can bring an empty, reusable bottle. After you’ve redressed yourself, put your shoes back on, and collected all of your stuff, stop by the water fountain and fill ‘er up. It’ll save you a few bucks.

Scope out the airport in advance, if you want.  I can’t say I’ve ever done this (I’m just not that organized), but you can look up the food offerings at your airport in advance. This could be helpful if you’re bouncing back and forth between multiple airports or you have a lot of long layovers. Just Google the airport you’ll be stuck at and the food courts should be visible on their website. You may stumble upon some blogs that tell you what’s up at an airport, too. (I’ve been known to blog about such things on Hungry Vegan Traveler.)

Take a walk. This is what I usually end up doing, time permitting. If there’s enough of a gap between my connecting flights, I walk a few laps around the concourse, or walk from one to the next, and maybe even the one after that. It gets the blood flowing and stretches my legs, I get to scope out the food offerings and other little shops, and I usually catch what sets that particular airport apart from the others (the popular row of rocking chairs in Charlotte, NC; the trippy lightshow in Detroit, MI, etc.).

The old reliables. As popular and more widely accepted as veganism has become in the last few years, there will come times when you just can’t find a hot meal in an airport. (Atlanta, I’m looking at you!) If your personal stash of fruit and Larabars are wiped out, you may find yourself in a sorry situation of eating plain potato chips and a bag of nuts. If that won’t cut it for a few hours, there are some things you can find at just about any airport. Smoothies or juices (look for Jamba Juice or Starbucks) and overpriced boring salads (look for a grab-and-go case or one of the fancier, sit-down eateries) are the reliables. Chinese places are hit-or-miss because many of them cook their tofu and veggies in chicken stock, so you’ll have to ask. Same goes for beans and rice at the lone Mexican joint, as they might have lard in the beans. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, though, especially if you’re starving or starting to feel woozy from a blood sugar crash. (I speak from experience here!) And don’t be fearful. I’ve eaten pretty darn well at many an airport, as well. Sushi, taco salads, hummus-and-veggie wraps… You may be surprised! I did a happy dance when I found Justin’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups in NYC. (Not that that’s a healthy meal, but I love all things PB + chocolate.)

Bottom line.  Make like a Girl Scout and BE PREPARED. Pack whatever snacks or little meals you can wedge into your carry-on bags. Don’t forget the empty water bottle (otherwise you’ll be paying $3-4 for Aquafina). Scope out the airport before you leave and/or take a stroll through the concourses while you’re there. Ask questions. And above all: Don’t starve. 

Amanda Just has been blogging over at Hungry Vegan Traveler since 2010. While she has not completed her Round The World trip yet, she enjoys exploring her home state of  Florida, checking out the cheesiest roadside attractions around, and working through her To-Visit and To-Eat lists. When not exploring, she can be found teaching a vegan cooking class, hula hooping in the park, and petting nearby dogs. 


Vegan Food Swap Reveal - Month #2!

I can't believe that my little side project, Vegan Food Swap, is rolling along into its third month already. I love all the positive feedback I'm hearing from people who are enjoying shopping for new local vegan treats as much as they love receiving their swap boxes. Vegan food love all around!

May was the second month of the swap, and as the organizer, I'm still very much cutting my teeth. When I launched the Vegan Food Swap at the end of March, I thought it was such a simple concept: just collect a bunch of names and pair them up. As time went on, however, I learned what a silly assumption that was. I'm learning on the job, though, and thankfully, most of my participants have been incredibly understanding of the "behind the scenes" work I have to do to get this thing to run.

Because of one of my organizational flubs in May, I ended up taking on two swap partners for the month. I sent out two boxes and received two back, so it all worked out to be fair.

My first swap box arrived from Adriana Pope of Vegan Corner. Adriana sent me a diverse box including both sweet and savory treats. She even included a copy of her vegan zine Hungry Monkey, which I really enjoyed reading.

My favorite item in her collection were these raw vegan macaroons. As a diehard lover of coconut-meets-chocolate treats (evidenced here and here), these babies didn't stand a chance in my house. Although one package only contains 4 servings (2 macaroons each), I did manage to stretch these treats out over 5-6 days. I'm dying to have them again, but also nervous about having such a deliciously decadent treat on hand!

My second swap box came from Kiley at Coconut Bliss. It may surprise you to learn that there wasn't a shred of coconut to be found! Kiley and I originally met at Vida Vegan Con and subsequently bonded over beer, dogs at the beach, and all things salted. Kiley gifted me a set of seasoned salts from one of my favorite companies, Mountain Rose Herbs. She also sent a masala chai tea mix that has officially made all other chais in my life completely useless. Thanks, Kiley. :)

If you're interested in joining the Vegan Food Swap for June, there's still time. I'm accepting new registrations until Monday, June 4, so sign up now!

May participants: please link up your reveal posts below.

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