Potato and Carrot Cheese Sauce

Hi guys! It’s been a while. My apologies. 

Today I have a recipe for you that I am OBSESSED with. 

  
I’ve always been picky about cheese, but I LOVE macaroni and cheese. Seriously. In my pre vegan days I used to scarf the macaroni from KFC. Now that I’m vegan, it’s been difficult to find a macaroni that meets my high picky standards. I’m not a fan at all of Daiya, Earth Balance box macaroni tastes too sweet for me, and I’m not the kind of vegan who can just put some vegan butter and nooch on noodles and be satisfied. Then I joined this group on facebook called “What Fat Vegans Eat”, and came across a recipe for cheese sauce made with potatoes and carrots. So I made it as queso dip for Memorial Day, and really liked it. But I only like queso dip… I LOVE macaroni. So I took the recipe, made a bunch of changes and VOILA! I finally found vegan Mac that I’m happy with. 

  
You can use this to make queso dip, macaroni, cheese sauce for enchiladas or nachos, etc. It’s versatile. If you’re making it as queso, I recommend adding a tablespoon of cayenne pepper. Chipotle chili peppers in adobo would also be a good addition for if you’re making it as queso dip. Ah, possibilities. 

Ingredients:

2 cups skinned potatoes, diced 

1 cup skinned carrots, diced 

1 cup unsweetened plain dairy-free milk

1/8 cup oil (grapeseed, olive, coconut, avocado)

2 tsp. salt

4 Tablespoons lemon juice 

3/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes (buy it here)

2 teaspoons onion powder 

2 teaspoons garlic powder 

A pinch of ground cumin

Instructions:

Gather all ingredients. Skin and dice the potatoes and carrots. Boil the potatoes and carrots until soft. Then add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. If it seems too dry, add a splash more non-dairy milk until you get the right consistency. Serve with chips or pour over pasta. Enjoy!

Tip: if reheating, add a few tablespoons of non-dairy milk to it to get it smooth. Makes all the difference!

  

Chickpea, Mushroom & Wild Rice Soup

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I love soup in the winter. I also love it in spring or summer. I’m a huge soup fan. I used to eat at panera bread really often and order the “you pick two” with a bacon turkey bravo and a bowl of the chicken and wild rice soup. Then I moved to Okinawa, went vegan, and making a veganized version has been on my to-do list. So the other day when my husband offered to make dinner, I have him a list of instructions and ingredients and sent him off to do the dirty work. The end result? Magic. In my opinion this is better than the panera bread soup. It certainly has more nutritional value, and no animals were harmed! Take notes, Panera Bread!

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Ingredients
4 cups of vegetable broth
1 large yellow or white onion, diced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 &1/2 cups mushrooms, halved
1 tablespoon olive or grapeseed oil

3/4 cup of cashews
1 cup of water (seperate from boiling water)

1 14 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup of cooked wild rice

Instructions:
Firstly, cook your rice according to the package instructions. I personally used Bobs red mill wild & brown rice mix.

Next, lightly sauté the carrots and celery in the oil for about five minutes. Then add the broth, seasonings and the rest of the veggies. Leave it to cook on medium heat.

While the soup is cooking, add your cashews to a small pot full of water and boil for about 20 minutes. After the time is up, strain the nuts and add them to a blender with 1 cup of water. Once the mixture is smooth, add it to the soup.

Add the rice and chickpeas to the soup and heat through. Serve immediately. I recommend eating this with some garlic bread. Enjoy!

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Vegan Thai green curry

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You ever cook something and think “wow, this is terrible!” And consider never cooking again? Alternatively, have you ever made something in the kitchen and said to yourself “wow, I am awesome!” ? Well, both of those things happened to me this week.

This week I attempted to make vegan pho, the same kind Kiwa from Dechibica makes. It didn’t go well. I had to throw the whole thing away. I ended up eating one of those pre-packaged vegan soups by Dr. McDougall. Don’t get me wrong, I like those. But I prefer a home cooked meal. I’ve never had a dish that I love more than Kiwa’s pho. So when I tried to recreate it and failed miserably, I almost thought I’d quit cooking. Then I decided I needed a good dish. Just one good dish. If I could make up a dish from scratch using what I know, I could continue cooking.

So that’s when I decided to use a little jar of green curry, combine it with what I know about making curry, add some rice noodles and create something I would be proud of. And you know what? It worked! When I asked my husband to rate it out of 1-10, he gave it a 10.5.

It’s easy to make, it’s insanely delicious, and it’s perfect for a cold winters night.

Ingredients
2 Tbs green curry paste
1 can coconut milk (top cream part only, not the water)
1 & 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 sliced white or yellow onion
1 & 1/2 Tbs coconut oil 3 cups veggie broth
5 kafir lime leaves
2 tablespoons soy sauce

8 oz rice noodles or rice, for serving

Instructions
In a large pot, sauté the onions in the coconut oil for about two minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms, sauté for two more minutes. Add the curry paste and sauté for a minute, then add the two cups of veggie broth and the kafir lime leaves. Bring soup to a simmer. Once it’s fragrant and the lime leaves have released their flavors, remove them and discard. Add the coconut milk and soy sauce, then bring to a simmer and let it cook for about five minutes. Remove from the heat and serve with rice noodles or rice. You can do a different kind of noodles if you want, sometimes I use somebody noodles instead of rice noodles. You could also add some carrots, spinach, or bok choy. It’s easy to make it your own.   I hope you enjoy this as much as we did! 🙂

Vegan Oktoberfest 2014

Hi there. It’s been a while. I wrote an apology, but it’s at the bottom of the post. Let’s get down to business and talk about something incredible I just experienced – Vegan Oktoberfest in Los Angeles.

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We found out last minute about this event. We went online and bought two tickets, and suddenly we had made a plan to drive seven hours to Santa Monica to attend. Turns out my sister had to be at a conference for work in SoCal, and was able to meet us there!

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We got into Santa Monica around 12:30. We were able to park fairly close to the event. We were able to walk to the beach, check out the area for a few minutes and then line up. We stood in line for about ten minutes and the event opened promptly at 1 PM. We showed our name tags, got our wrist bands and mini beer mugs, and headed straight for the Dogtown Dog food truck (website here).

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We ordered the California dog. It was the best frickin hot dog I’ve ever had, vegan or not. My husband wanted to go back and make sure it was vegan, that’s how convinced we were.

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There were so many types of beer, but my husbands favorites were the hemp brown ale from Venica Duck Brewery and the coconut amber ale from Four Sons Brewing.

I’m not a beer person, but luckily for me there was a company handing out free energy drinks!

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Marquis Beverages makes three energy drinks that are organic, calorie free and sugar free. They’re made with organic stevia. We tried all three kinds: Citrus, mango ginger, and super berry. My favorite was the super berry, and my husband liked the mango ginger. It was awesome to find an energy drink with ingredients I actually recognized. We are considering ordering cases of the mango ginger to transition my husband away from monster. You can read more about Marquis by clicking here.

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We got a little hungry after a while so decided to snack on some ice cream by Divine Dips. They’re a dairy-free ice cream food truck with some delicious flavors.

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We ordered the mint chocolate chip, key lime pie, and the cafe no-lait. All three were magical. Great texture, phenomenal flavors. I was so impressed! I wish they sold their products at whole foods in Sacramento! You can read more about Divine Dips by clicking here.

One booth at the event was run by Sparky Firepants, they were selling tshirts that also offered printing, you could have “vegan Oktoberfest 2014” stamped on your own shirt for 5$ or buy one of the shirts available for 20$ and have that stamped. My husband picked up a “tofu strong man” shirt. You can visit their website by clicking here. I was sporting my shirt from The Tree Kisser, which you can find more info about by clicking here.

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After a while of my husband beer testing, me people watching, and us both walking around we noticed the food lines were getting crazy so we separated and got in line to pick up different kinds of food before my sister met us there. My husband went to go get more food from Dogtown Dogs, while I got in line at Sage. I ordered the “fish” and chips, a pretzel, a German chocolate cupcake, apple fritters, and a lemonade. All of which were spectacular, especially the pretzel. Later my sister ordered some of their chocolate ice cream, which was marvelous. You can check out Sage’s website by clicking here.

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I wanted to buy some cheese from Nary Dary after sampling their spreads at the event, but completely forgot to go back to their booth. I was getting exhausted and very sunburnt towards the end. Next time I come across their product, I’m buying it. Best cashew cheese on the planet. You can read more about them by clicking here.

After that huge feast, my sister picked up some Black Forest cookies from life is sweet bake shop. Normally I don’t love Black Forest cookies but these were delicious! You can check out Life Is Sweet by clicking here.

Part of the proceeds from Vegan Oktoberfest went to Expand Animal Rights Now, an organization dedicated to using the legal system to help and get justice for animals. I visited their booth and bought a tshirt. I plan on looking into how I can volunteer with them while I’m living in California. You can visit their website and learn more about them by clicking here.

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I didn’t get a chance to try all of the vendors there this year. I particularly wanted to try the grilled cheese truck, but I didn’t have time or any room left in my stomach.

All in all, an awesome event. I hope to go again next year. A big shout out to all of the vendors, volunteers and to the people who put this together. I had a fabulous time, as did my husband and sister. The beers were incredible, the food was delicious, and the experience was unforgettable. See you at Vegan Oktoberfest 2015.

Before I go I have to say, I’m sorry for not posting these past few weeks. The past six weeks have been insane. We left Okinawa, visited home in Florida, and then drove a total of 48 hours from Florida to Northern California. It’s been crazy. I’ll write all about it soon, I have lots of restaurants to tell you guys about and pictures to share. So stay tuned for a Vegan Roadtrip post, a post about our super vegan friendly going away party at dechibica, and a post about me eating vegan while I was home! Some amazing food has been eaten in the past six weeks by me, and I have had some incredible experiences I’ll never forget. I’m excited to share them with you.

Thanks for reading!

Breakfast Cafe Niffera – Okinawa

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I love butterflies. I actually have a rather large one tattooed on me. Here in Okinawa I’ve been to two places where butterflies roam freely and you can interact with them. It’s really beautiful. Last year for my birthday my husband took me to the butterfly garden up north. It was gorgeous, and the butterflies fly all over you. But by far the best place to interact with butterflies in Okinawa is Cafe Niffera in the Tsuboya pottery district part of Naha. Because not only are there butterflies, there’s food. Amazing, nutritious, beautiful food.

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Breakfast Cafe Niffera is run by Naoko Takakura, a vegan who is one of the loveliest people I have ever met. She runs the hotel Tsuboya Garden House, to which the breakfast cafe is attached.

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Naoko has a great menu at the cafe with vegetarian and vegan dishes. Acai bowls, Eggs Benedict, and a vegan plate are some of your food options. She also has kombucha, smoothies, and the best cup of water you’ll ever drink in your life. It’s blue! I tried the vegan plate and the green smoothie, and was not disappointed at all. It was the best plate of breakfast I’ve had in a while!

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Avocado, potatoes, tofu, bean salad, sweet potato, greens, eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes, toast, hummus, and green beans. It was so fresh and delicious! I highly recommend her food. Cafe Niffera is the perfect place to stop for breakfast while in the Tsuboya pottery district. I’m planning on going soon while I’m in the area to pick up some pottery for my mom!

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Outside the cafe Naoko has a table set up just for the caterpillars. You can see tons of them climbing all over, and lots of cocoons. In the garden the butterflies fly all over! It’s so beautiful!

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I recommend checking out Cafe Niffera and trying her breakfast food. If it’s sunny, sit in the garden and be surrounded by butterflies! Naoko will tell you all about them, she is so nice! After we ate at her breakfast cafe she showed Carola and I many places with vegan options around Naha, cute little shops on Kokusai street, and took us to a festival where we tried lots of great vegan food. She was a wonderful tour guide!

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Breakfast Cafe Niffera in Tsuboya Garden House info
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday; open 8 AM, last order 10 AM.
Phone:098-863-8636
TGH Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/tsuboya.garden.house
Website: http://niffera.ti-da.net
Or http://tsuboya-garden.com/

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Plenty of Joy Cafe – Okinawa

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Something magical happened in okinawa last Saturday. In the form of food. Months ago I asked on the Vegans of Okinawa Facebook page about a flier I had seen for a sandwich shop called Plenty of Joy. The flier had a menu which was all in Japanese. Thankfully, someone translated for me. And the place was a vegan food gold mine. Fast forward to last Friday. I had attempted three times to go to Plenty of Joy. My bad restaurant luck caused them to always be closed when I attempted to go. Then Saturday happened. Glorious, amazing Saturday.

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I wasn’t even hungry when we went. Naoko runs a hotel with a breakfast cafe and I ate there beforehand, and then we stopped at another smoothie place afterwards. It was an entirely food filled day. So at Naoko’s recommendation I ordered their banana cacao smoothie. I kept hearing from Naoko that the banana cacao smoothie at POJ was her favorite. I assumed it would be on par with the banana chocolate drink from Green Leaf, which is like thick chocolate milk. It’s delicious. But the smoothie at POJ… It was better. Have you ever been to Wendy’s? That truly terrible for you fast food place with the logo of a red head in pig tails? That place was right next to my High School. And Wendy’s has something called a frosty that everyone and their mother was obsessed with. Well, POJ has duplicated the Wendy’s frosty. Except it’s made with bananas and cacao so there’s actual nutritional value. The flavor and texture were spot on, and it almost brought me to tears. Almost. And if that wasn’t enough deliciousness, there were sandwiches that blew me away.

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Carola ordered their veggie burger. She let me try a bite. A glorious, magical bite. It isn’t shaped like a burger and it doesn’t taste like a burger. It’s better. It tastes like a chicken Parmesan sandwich, and it’s covered in the best tomato sauce I’ve ever had.

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Naoko also let me try her sandwich. A veggie sandwich with home made soy mayo. The mayo was more flavorful than any mayonnaise I’ve ever had, vegan or not.

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This place is amazing. The bread is fresh from local bakeries nearby, and it was some of the softest bread I’ve ever had. Both sandwiches came with dates rolled in cacao. Ah dates, natures candy. What a genius idea to serve with sandwiches, right? The perfect ending to the perfect meal.

Plenty of Joy is a great place to eat while in Naha. It’s a great food option for when you are shopping around kokusai street, or in the Tsuboya pottery district. There’s a park right across the street, which is perfect if you’re with kiddos. Or if you’re a kid at heart, like myself.

I highly recommend checking them out. Order the banana cacao smoothie, you will not be disappointed!

Plenty of Joy info –
Address: 1 Chome-2-15 Makishi, Naha, Okinawa Prefecture 900-0013
Phone: 080-5066-0202
Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=608271169193116&_rdr
Hours: 11:30-7:30 Wednesday – Sunday

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

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Vegan fudge. What a concept! I remember looking at the different kinds of overpriced fudge at Disney and begging my mom to buy it for me. There were so many different kinds! My favorite was always chocolate peanut butter. So since going vegan it’s been my mission to recreate things I loved in my non-veg days into cruelty free treats that make me both fat and nostalgic.

Ingredients
1 cup canned coconut milk, chilled
3 cups carob or vegan chocolate chips. I used a mix of both.
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons sea salt
Kosher salt for topping (optional)

Instructions
In a sauce pan bring the coconut milk to a low boil on medium heat. Add the carob/chocolate chips one cup at a time. Stir in peanut butter, sea salt and vanilla. Turn off the heat and stir until the mixture is smooth.

Sift your powdered sugar into a bowl. Pour in the chocolate mixture and mix together using a hand mixer.

Once smooth, pour the mixture into a 8×8 dish coated with wax paper or tin foil. Sprinkle with kosher salt if desired. Refrigerate for 24 hours.

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