On Valentines Day, many of us dream of being given a box of delicious luxury chocolates by someone close to us. They’re seen as a special indulgence that we may save for a treat on just such special occasions, but we also want to stay true to our values, so we hope for vegan chocolates, fairly-traded if possible.
Many dark chocolate bars readily available in the grocery stores are naturally vegan, and there are several brands which use fair-trade chocolate. But it can be harder to find luxury vegan chocolates. Local fancy chocolate suppliers still don’t offer any vegan options, but fortunately new companies are springing up online to fill the gap, and some may even be found in local grocery stores.
- Enjoy Life Foods has a selection of dairy-free chocolate minis, including some made with rice milk to give that milk chocolate sensation.
- Rawkin Raw Chocolate offers special organic truffles packed with antioxidants, and sweetened with dates and spices to provide the best nutrition.
- No Whey Foods offers luxury vegan chocolate boxes, such as their signature truffles, with many fancy flavors to entice every taste bud.
- Rose City Chocolates also offers a good selection of vegan luxury chocolates.
- Lake Champlain Chocolates has dark chocolate hearts in a gift bag.
- Lärabar also offers several flavors of chocolate truffles in a resealable pouch.
Look out for some of these and other vegan chocolate companies at Vegfest on March 30 & 31.
Learn more about the health benefits of chocolate.
We are delighted to have Chef Ramses Bravo back with us at Vegfest this year. Chef Ramses is the chef at the TrueNorth Health Center in Santa Rosa, CA. He will be giving a cooking demonstration at Vegfest on both Saturday March 30th and Sunday March 31st.
As a special treat for us, he shared a couple of recipes from his new book Bravo Express where he demonstrates how a healthy, whole-foods diet can be not only delicious but also quick and easy:
- Yellow Curry Lentils
- Quinoa and Arugula Salad
We were curious how an organic farm is run here in the Pacific Northwest, so we asked Andrew Stout, founder and general manager of Full Circle Farm, a few questions.
How did you become interested in farming?
I started farming with my wife Wendy and my good friend John in the mid 90’s. We all felt drawn to the noble occupation of growing good honest food for our community in an environmentally responsible way. We were only a few years out of college and were looking for a meaningful career that challenged us mentally and physically while allowing our entrepreneurial spirit to thrive. If farming didn’t work out, I wanted to be a teacher. As it turned out I have the privilege of doing both – educating young and old, about the merits of organic farming, the importance of good food, the satisfaction of a hard day’s work and best of all the delights of a delicious shared meal. Read more
As a green leafy vegetable, collard greens are among the best available for your health. They’re actually a member of the cruciferous family, along with broccoli and cabbage, and as such they’re packed with vitamin C, soluble fiber, and numerous cancer-fighting phytonutrients.
Collards are available year round, but they are actually tastier and more nutritious in the cold months, after the first frost. For the best texture, they should be picked before they reach their full maturity.
Popular in southern cooking, they are usually stewed with meat for a long period of time, losing much of the nutritional benefit, but there’s many healthier ways to incorporate them into your diet. They hold up to cooking much better than other greens, so they can be added toward the end of preparing soups and stews and still keep their texture. Sliced thinly, they can be lightly steamed and tossed with a vinegar dressing. Steamed whole, they are strong enough to be used as wraps for a burrito alternative.
Portobellos with Collards and Cannellini Beans
Collard Greens with Almonds
Tempeh Collard Wraps Read more
Vegan burger at McDonalds! Yes, you heard me right. We said “Vegan burger at McDonald’s.” Some of us thought we’d never see the day when McDonald’s would serve up a vegan burger. But, the fact that that day has come shows just how much the plant-based diet is catching on.
The new vegan burger is debuting at their headquarters in Chicago Illinois. They’ve put it front and center. The new burger is called the McAloo Tikki and consists of a toasted bun filled with a veggie patty made with potatoes, pea, and seasoning reminiscent of samosas; topped with fresh red onions, tomato slices, and an eggless creamy tomato mayo (this still has some dairy though). Read more
Some see algae as “the food of the future”. This vegan food product is protein rich, requires no fresh water to produce, and releases oxygen into the atmosphere, unlike most the world’s protein today that is derived from animals. The new “micro algae” being used is a far cry from some of the algae used in the past. The taste is good and it can be used in a variety of different kinds of foods. It also works well in cooked and baked foods.
Around 70 percent of the world’s available fresh water is currently used to rear livestock and to cultivate crops to feed livestock. Algae, however, can flourish without the presence of fresh water. It can grow anywhere from deserts to oceans and ponds. This poses an overwhelmingly positive effect on food production because algae bloom quickly, are nutrient dense, and require next to nothing to grow.
Algae are comprised of 40 percent protein and, when comparing land usage, make seven times more protein than soybeans. Scientists claim that 50 percent of the world’s oxygen is accredited to algae, contrary to raising livestock which emits greenhouse gases into the planet’s atmosphere, ultimately leading to global warming.
Companies have sprung up both here and in Europe to get the algae to market. Marketed under the name AlgaVia, the powder is starting to show up as an ingredient in grocery store items. Look for microalgae in your favorite food products as algae continue to catch on.
The walnut is the nut of a deciduous tree. It has a hard, wrinkled shell and an oily, two-lobed kernel. Nuts in general are extremely healthy for you, and walnuts in particular are packed with several valuable nutrients. Just one quarter cup of walnuts will give you over 90% of the recommended daily amount of Omega 3 fatty acids, so there’s no need to resort to fish for these important fats. Omega 3 fatty acids give us all kinds of health benefits from better cognitive function to relief from inflammatory diseases such as asthma and eczema. In addition, walnuts contain an antioxidant compound called ellagic acid that supports the immune system and appears to have several anticancer properties.
Choose fresh shelled walnuts which don’t look rubbery or shriveled. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
Walnuts are great raw or toasted. They can be served chopped in salads or on fruit or yogurt as a topping. They’re delicious in baked goods such as muffins, zucchini bread or pancakes.
Mushroom Walnut Roast
Walnut and Pomegranate Spread (Mukamarra)