Monday, April 7, 2014

Massachusetts Vegfests

(me at the Worcester Vegfest yesterday!)

The first ever Valley Vegfest was held last weekend in Northampton, MA. It was small, but nice. I'm used to much bigger events, but I'm sure in time this will become much bigger.

Admission was free but there was a donation box. It was held in what looked like the cafeteria of a middle school. Not a huge place. We got there on the later side so we missed most of the speakers. 

The few free samples they had were excellent.  A company I didn't know about, Nuttin Ordinary, had delicious raw, vegan nut cheeses. They were from New Hampshire! There were kale chips to sample and some cool stuff from a local pickling company: Real Pickles.

Some of my favorite restaurants were there: Cafe Evolution and Christine's Bean Sprout. Purchased my favorite cupcakes but didn't see any "real food". I think Cafe Evolution may have had some earlier in the day but we got there too late.

It was a nice first ever vegfest out here and I look forward to a bigger one next year!

 (the cool tote bag I bought at Valley Vegfest)

 (Valley Vegfest stash)

(the school where Valley Vegfest was held)

Yesterday was the Worcester Vegfest!

It was huge. I mean, almost too crowded. We got there just after 11 am, when it started, and there was a huge line out the door all the way down the block. That's a bit much. Lots and lots of vendors, activists, animal sanctuaries, etc. We were starving when we got there, so we got some lunch at one of the vendors right in the front: Loving Hut. Tasty stuff. We continued on down each the time we were ready to leave, it was pretty tough walking....squeezing between all the people. It was so crowded, I couldn't even see what some of the tables were selling/advertising! 

We got to taste some pretty good stuff: Treeline nut cheeses, Late July and Way Better chips, Eat Well Embrace Life hummus, Upton's Naturals, some kettle corn, vegan Shakeology, and Posha Green post workout smoothies. 

 (Eat Well Embrace Life hummus stand)

(awesome Treeline nut cheese vendor)

Some amazing vegan baked goods we came across:

....and yes, I purchased one from each (a chocolate donut, brownie, and raspberry filled cake)!

And guess who I saw??? Robert Cheeke!! I was too chik'n to ask for a photo with him :(

Some cool T's:

Vegfest Stash:

My baked good and cheese stash that I purchased at Vegfest:

 (Treeline Nut cheese: scallion and garlic soft cheese)

We had a good time at both Vegfests! Hopefully we'll go again next year! 

Have you been to any vegetarian food festivals recently?

Eat smart,

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Restaurant Review: Superfresh Organic Cafe

There's a new vegan restaurant in town.....well, not in my town, but close enough.....called Superfresh Organic Cafe. To be honest, they're not exactly new, but they were much smaller and in a different location before. So I'm going to pretend it's completely new! It is 100% vegan, though they do use some honey.

It has very nice decor inside.....albeit not a huge place. Tall ceilings, wood floors, nice calming colors. They didn't have a sign outside, so it's not obvious that it's there. I did see a hanger for a sign, so perhaps the sign is coming shortly! It's in a great location, right in downtown Brattleboro, VT, near the river, and next to the Food Co-Op.  There's a wonderful view of the big brook out the back windows. It's not a huge place and it only has 2 tables that seat more than 2 people, so plan accordingly.

We walked in and ordered at the counter. They had a limited menu for opening day, but online they've got a pretty extensive menu! To me, it looks like this place is about 80% raw. But they do have some cooked grains, beans, soups, etc. It looks like a super small kitchen there, but I think they've prepared some of the foods (nut cheeses, sauces, etc.) ahead of time, so there's not much to "cook".

I ordered a Green Goddess juice and it was awesome! Cucumber, celery, apple, kale, lemon, and ginger:

Then I got the raw pesto pizza made with a dehydrated crust, pesto, cashew cheeze, greens, tomato, fresh herbs, and brazil-nut parm:


S ordered a basic wrap in a brown rice tortilla, with a chipotle dipping sauce that was excellent:

My dad ordered the Butternut Squash Bisque, along with a bowl of brown rice, black beans, and veggies, also quite tasty:

My mom ordered a quesadilla, made with Daiya cheese. I think I'll get that next time!

So as you can see, it was all delicious. It's not cheap, but most raw places are not cheap. There were a few desserts on the counter, but I opted out this time. I'm waiting for some vegan and gluten free cupcakes!!

If you live anywhere near Brattleboro, VT, this is definitely worth the trip! I'll be going back, even though I live an hour from there (a great place to meet up with my parents!)

(entry/order area, overlooking the brook)

They also have a facebook page!

Eat smart,

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Minestrone Soup on a Cold Autumn Day

(this is NOT my photo, photo can be found here)

Ok, it's not really that cold was 60! But it WILL be!

I forgot to take a picture of my minestrone, so I found one that looked similar online. 

The other day I was at Whole Foods and I bought their Tomato Basil Soup (in a container) and then I thought...."Hmmm, I could really add to this!"  And I did. 

Minestrone Soup
serves 3-4

1 container (24 oz) of Whole Foods Roasted Tomato Basil soup (or other roasted tomato soup)
~10-15 oz of pureed tomatoes (depending how liquidy you like it)
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2-3 large kale leaves, chopped
1 cup dry small pasta shells (I used corn pasta)
1 15-oz can canellini beans
Red pepper flakes
Creole Seasoning

In a medium soup pot, add about 1/4 cup water, along with the celery, onions, and carrots. Cook on medium until onion is almost translucent, about 5-8 minutes. While that's cooking, cook the pasta al dente (it will cook a little more in the soup). Drain. 

Add the soup, pureed tomatoes, kale, pasta, and beans to the pot. Bring to boil, and then cook on medium (covered) for about 6-8 minutes until completely heated through. Add seasoning to taste. 

Optional: serve garnished with shredded vegan mozzarella. 

Enjoy! We both thought this was an excellent soup! I will definitely make it again. 

And with winter coming, this is a great addition to your recipe box! What's your favorite winter soup?

Eat smart,

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Vegetarian Cafe in Easthampton

(Fall in Easthampton, MA)

We've been in Western Massachusetts for almost 1 1/2 years now. (wow, has it been that long?) We love it here....lots of delicious vegan food to be found, great local breweries, Fall colors, friendly people, and little traffic.

Recently, we started teaching at the Williston Northampton school in Easthampton, MA and we discovered a cute little place right in town. We drove by it every time we went there, so we finally stopped in to try it. It's called Christine's Bean Sprout Juice Bar and Cafe. The first time I went in, I was by myself and picked up a delicious juice: the Green Monsta!

 (the Specials Board)

Next time, I brought S with me. On the specials board they had the "Ecstatic Vegan", which is brown rice and sauteed greens, topped with grilled marinated tofu and housemade peanut sauce. It was absolutely amazing!! I thought they could have added some other vegetables like broccoli and carrots or something, but it was great as it was.  S had the Green Goddess Salad and that was really delicious too.

(The Ecstatic Vegan, the 2nd time I got it)

(the Green Goddess salad)

I think we've been there 2 more times since. I've gotten the exact same thing each time. I noticed that each subsequent time we went in, the amount of greens were fewer (though they added a little red cabbage). Last time, though still good, there weren't too many greens and there wasn't even a teaspoon of sauce on top of the whole thing. Now, I probably could have asked for more sauce and I bet they would have given it to me, so maybe it was my fault. The owners are super nice so I'm sure that would not have been a problem. On the other hand, I hope they pile on the greens again and add a bit more sauce for next time! Still delicious though :)

They had a new special last time and S got the Fake Philee Sandwich (which we split). It was very tasty. All vegan. There wasn't too much filling in the sandwich  (seitan, onions, peppers, cheese sauce), but it was quite tasty! The side of coleslaw was good too (no mayo, yay!).

(the Fake Philee sandwich)

They do specify what is Gluten Free and/or Vegan on the Specials board and on their menu. I think that's great! Some items, like the Fake Philee can be made vegan upon request. I still have yet to try one of the soups.

They seem to have a lot of baked goods behind the counter. Unfortunately, I don't think they are vegan, but they do specify that they are Gluten Free.

I'm glad to see that there are many people coming in and out of there. It's a relatively new business and the restaurant business is a risky one. I hope it's here to stay! We're definitely going to keep going for lunches every so often. Haven't tried their coffee yet...perhaps that's next.

Visit their Facebook page, as their home website seems to be empty still. You can see their regular menu there and they post their specials as well.

I give this place a 4 out of 5 stars....if you are near Easthampton, it's definitely worth a visit.

Do you have any favorite eateries in New England?

Eat smart,

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

My first real vegetable garden

So I've planted my first REAL garden!! I did, however, cave and purchase a garden bed kit, which I put together easily. I used a sort of "lasagna" style gardening method. As you can see in the following pictures, I've layered the garden bed with wet newspaper, peat moss, old dead leaves, cow manure, and soil.

(a view of the empty bed with my composter, from the back patio)

This is what I direct sowed from seed into my garden bed: carrots, kale, mizuna, spinach, and lettuce. Only 2 lettuce seedlings ever emerged and a bird ate most of one, so I don't have much in there. The mizuna is doing awesome, and so are the carrots. The kale is doing pretty well, I think. A lot of the lettuce seeds didn't germinate, because I think maybe I sowed them too deep. I've made new plantings of those and they've already emerged. 

Then I bought some tomato plants (Jet Star, Green Zebra, San Marzano, and Celebrity), broccoli, and pepper plants and transplanted those into the garden bed. I also bought some green and yellow squashes, both are in pots (no room in my garden bed). 

 (summer squash)

 (Celebrity tomato and the chives my mom gave me)

 (the whole garden bed, with bird netting)

 (closeup of my kale!!)

 (closeup of my mizuna)

 (transplanted broccoli on left and transplanted peppers on right)

(my carrots, purple and orange ones)

(super closeup of my Russian Kale!)

So how does it look?? Hopefully the lettuce will really fill in the left side of the bed, in front of the tomatoes. I've been taking the bird netting off every other day to pick the weeds out, or should I say, the maple seedlings. Yes, the maple seeds have blown everywhere! They are all over my garden and they are sprouting like wildfire, especially with all the rain we've had. 

Ok, now where's my harvest??? Hahahaha......I may pick off some of the Mizuna leaves soon, for some salads. I think our apple trees (Empire and Liberty) have some sort of Cedar Apple Rust disease.....raised yellow spots all over the leaves. The apples are growing really hopefully they will be ok. Anyone know about apple trees?

What are you growing in YOUR garden?

Eat smart,