The Many Flavors of Sweet Aha!

Sweet Aha! Infographic

Remember when I made a resolution to try every single Sweet Aha! flavor?

Well, I did it!

It took a little over a year, but any worthwhile endeavor takes time. Needless to say, I enjoyed each and every bite. To keep track of all of those vegan cupcake, scone, muffin and cookie flavors, I made an infographic (no need to strain your eyes, click on the infographic to view a larger version).

Even though there’s a lot of flavors, Sweet Aha! only has a few select ones available each week at the farmer’s market. Which is probably a good thing, fewer options makes it a little easier to decide. Of course, if you’re ordering a dozen or more, you can choose whatever flavor your heart desires.

Vegan Coffee Cupcake with Vanilla Frosting

Perhaps a Coffee Cupcake with Vanilla Frosting, topped with salted caramel. It has a hint of a coffee taste, the perfect amount for me as I’m not a big coffee drinker. The caramel topping adds a bit more sweetness and flavor just like one of those fancy coffee drinks.

Vegan Coconut Cranberry Scone

Coconut Cranberry Scone, one of my favorites with its light, fluffy texture and plumb cranberries.

The nice thing about Sweet Aha! scones is that they keep for a long time, at least a week. Although I’ve never been able to keep any that long. No matter how hard I try to ignore it and pretend it’s not sitting on the counter, staring me down, I’m incapable of saving it for later. It’s gone by the next morning.

Vegan Classic Butter Scone

Compared to some of the other scone flavors with their added-in extras, you might think the Classic Butter Scone to be rather plain. It is in fact anything but.

Vegan Classic Butter Scone

There’s a reason why it’s called “classic”. It’s buttery and fluffy, with a sprinkle of sugar on top.

Vegan Lemon Cupcake with Lemon Drizzle

If you love lemons, then this is the cupcake for you – Lemon Cupcake with Classic Frosting and Lemon Drizzle.

Vegan Butterscotch Cookie with Pecans

Butterscotch Cookie with Pecans. I don’t know how they get the butterscotch taste into these cookies but they do.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie

Chocolate Chip Cookie. You might have notice by now, I like to have a nice glass of dairy-free milk with my cookies, muffins and cupcakes. Because, in Chow Vegan land, that’s what makes it a complete snack.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcake

Chocolate Cupcake with Chocolate Frosting and Coconut, Pecan, Caramel Drizzle. So light! And fluffy! And chocolatey! And with just the right amount of sweet (unlike other cupcakes with their overly sweet frosting).

Alright, I’ll stop gushing now and just sit here quietly drooling while you look at the remaining photos.

Vegan Coconut Raisin Muffin

Coconut Raisin Muffin

Vegan Ginger Spice Muffin

Ginger Spice Muffin

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Cupcake with Maple Frosting

Pumpkin Spice Cupcake with Vanilla Frosting

After trying all of their flavors, I can say unequivocally it’s been an awesome and tasty experience. You really can’t go wrong with anything from Sweet Aha! Their commitment to using only the best, freshest, all-natural, mostly organic, minimally processed ingredients shines through in every single item.

Related Posts
Sweet Aha Vegan Cupcakes
My Sweet Mid-year Status Report

Vegan Irish Mashed Potatoes (Colcannon)

Vegan Irish Mashed Potatoes (Colcannon)

Every St. Patrick’s Day for as long as I can remember, I’ve always eaten corned beef and cabbage. Regular meaty version as a kid and now a vegan seitan version. It’s the only remotely St. Patty kind of a thing I do all day (this is what happens when you don’t look good in green and you don’t drink).

This year I’m expanding my repertoire and made Irish mashed potatoes. Also known as colcannon, it’s a classic Irish dish of mashed potatoes with cabbage or kale. And cream. And butter, lots and lots of butter.

But instead of cabbage, I’m using brussels sprouts which to me, are just like super small cabbages. And instead of cream and butter, I’m cooking the potatoes in full fat coconut milk. Rich and creamy with savory bits of green, comfort food doesn’t get any better than this.

Vegan Irish Mashed Potatoes (Colcannon)
Serves 4

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 cups full fat coconut milk
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon vegan butter
1/2 small white onion, minced
1 cup sliced brussels sprouts
1 small leek, white part only, sliced
1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium pot, add the potatoes, coconut milk, half of the garlic, butter and salt to taste. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil. Give the potatoes a stir and turn down to simmer and cook for about 25 minutes or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.

While the potatoes are cooking, cook the brussels sprouts mixture. Heat a cast iron skillet or sauté pan to hot. Add the coconut oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the onions, leeks, and the remaining garlic. Sauté until translucent. Add the brussels sprouts, mix to combine well. Stirring frequently, continue to cook the brussels sprouts until soft but still bright green. Set aside.

Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the potatoes into a ricer and rice, saving the cooking liquid in the pot. Then pour the liquid a little bit at a time into the riced potatoes, folding in each time to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the brussels sprouts mixture to the mashed potatoes, gently stir to combine. Serve immediately.

Related Posts
Vegan “Corned Beef” and Cabbage

Are You Vegiterranean?

Quinoa Belila

Could you be Vegiterranean?

Yes. Yes, I can. You can too. It’s easy with the latest book in for review, The Vegiterranean Diet by Julieanna Hever. It’s like the Mediterranean diet but better; it’s a whole foods, plant base update to the long-standing Med diet.

The beginning sections of the book covers the history, science and nutrition (complete with tables, charts and references), the myths and benefits of the Mediterranean diet and how it can be improved upon, thus becoming the Vegiterranean Diet. Primarily by debunking the myth that it’s olive oil, red wine and fish that’s the main benefit of the Med diet when it’s actually the whole food way of eating that’s truly beneficial.

The next part covers tips, strategies and meal plans for eating healthy and well. And lastly, a selection of Mediterranean-style recipes demonstrating just how tasty eating Vegiterranean can be.

Middle Eastern Tofu Scramble

Starting off with Belila (page 222) pictured at the very top, a traditional Egyptian breakfast of wheat cereal with warm milk. I’ve never tried belila before but I loved this updated gluten-free version with quinoa. And if you already have cooked quinoa in the fridge, it takes less than 5 minutes to whip up this warm, filling breakfast.

No stranger to tofu scrambles, the Shakshuka (Middle Eastern Tofu Scramble, page 223) is one of the better ones that I’ve had, with its many herbs and spices. I’m just bummed it isn’t tomato season yet, I had to leave them out as there’s no way, no how, I’m using store-bought tomatoes.

White Bean and Rosemary Dip

The White Bean and Rosemary Dip (page 194) came out a little chunky, I blame my super ancient blender. The flavors are all there though, with the lemon and rosemary brightening up the white beans. Very easy to make with canned beans and just simply served with Mary’s Gone Crackers.

Cheesy Smoky Butternut Squash Pasta

The Cheesy Smoky Butternut Squash Pasta reminds me of a lighter, healthier version of mac n’ cheese. I don’t know where the smoky flavor comes from, there’s no liquid smoke or anything like that in the ingredients. Perhaps it’s the roasting of the butternut squash. Once again, it came out a little chunky. Dang blender.

The Vegiterranean Diet Book

A refreshing Brain-Boosting Blue Smoothie (page 189) to enjoy while reading (sciencey things is not my strong point, even if it is written in an easy and straightforward manner, I need all the brain boosting I can get).

Whether you’re just starting out or been at it for awhile, The Vegiterranean Diet is a helpful guide to making sure you’re eating healthy on a plant-based diet. To download a 5-day sample meal plan and three recipes click over to Julieanna Hever’s site, The Plant Based Dietitian.

Cheesy Smoky Butternut Squash Pasta
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 1/2 cups chopped butternut squash, raw
1 (12-ounce) package dry pasta (e.g., rigatoni, penne, macaroni, and spirals)
1 1/2 cups raw broccoli florets
3/4 cup unsweetened almond, soy, or other plant milk
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked and drained, or hempseeds
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice with zest
1 tablespoon tamari
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon ground chipotle powder

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. On a baking pan, roast the squash until dark brown and bubbling, 20 minutes.
3. Fill a large pot 3/4 full of cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add pasta and return to a boil. Then, reduce heat and simmer over medium heat until pasta is soft, 20 to 30 minutes. Before draining, add fresh broccoli florets and allow to wilt, 2 to 4 minutes. Drain and return to pot.
4. Meanwhile, puree the squash, almond milk, cashews, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and zest, tamari, and chipotle powder in the blender until smooth, 10 to 20 seconds. Pour the squash sauce over the pasta and the broccoli, and stir to combine. Serve warm.

From The Vegiterranean Diet by Julieanna Hever. Reprinted with permission from Da Capo Lifelong, © 2014

Disclosure: I received the book free of charge from the publisher to review. The opinions and experience with the book expressed herein are my own. There was no pay to say.

This post also contains Amazon links, I get a few coins tossed my way if you click on any of the links and make a purchase of anything.

Nakd Here

Nakd Bars Sampler

Why, hello there.

Today, I’m reviewing a sampler box of Nakd bars from Natural Balance Foods. If like me, you’re clueless about them, you’re in for a delightful surprise. If you haven’t heard of them before, it’s probably because they’re an UK company that’s been making its way across the pond to the US.

Back of Nakd Bars

The best thing about Nakd bars is that each is made with just a few ingredients, basically fruit and nut. That and being gluten, wheat and dairy free and vegan. It’s easy to see the breakdown of each ingredient with the percentages printed on the back.

Nakd Ginger Bread Bar

First up is the Nakd Ginger Bread: 48% dates, 32% almonds, 18% pecans and ginger, cloves and cinnamon. I really like the texture, it’s not too chewy and it’s not too soft either. Combined with the nice gingerbread flavor, it’s one of my favorites.

Nakd Banana Crunch Bar

Next is the Nakd Banana Crunch. As soon as I torn open the package, the smell of bananas wafts out. For being just 6% banana, it had a nice banana flavor with a slight crunch from the soya crunchies (the crunchies add extra protein).

Nakd Cocoa Mint Bar

Nakd Cocoa Mint, another favorite as it tasted exactly like a chocolate mint candy and it’s just dates, cashews, raisins, cocoa and a hint of natural mint and chocolate flavouring.

Not pictured are the other cocoa flavors, all were good. From the Nakd Cocoa Orange (tasted like chocolate with orange) to Nakd Cocoa Delight to Nakd Cocoa Crunch, it’s hard to go wrong with chocolate anything.

Nakd Pecan Pie Bar

With ingredients of just dates, pecans and almonds, Nakd Pecan Pie didn’t exactly taste like pecan pie. It tasted fine, just not like pie but maybe that’s expecting a little too much from a 3-ingredient bar.

Nakd Crunch Bars

I’m taking a little break from trying the rest of the sampler box. Even though there’s no added sugars or syrups, there’s still plenty of natural sugar and sweetness from all the dates and raisins. Overall, I really like the minimal ingredients in the Natural Balance Foods cereal bars. It’s a way better alternative to a candy bar when the munchies hit.

Disclosure: I received the products free of charge from the company to review. The opinions and experience with the product expressed herein are my own. There was no pay to say.

This post also contains an Amazon link, I get a few coins tossed my way if you click on the link and make a purchase of anything.

Sticky Rice Ball (Ci Fun Tuan)

Sticky Rice Ball Ingredients

Happy Lunar New Year!

Traditionally, a vegetarian dish called jai, also known as Buddhist’s delight, is eaten on the first day of the new year. I’m not actually breaking with tradition as one doesn’t eat jai all the livelong day (I guess you could but I’m not going to). For breakfast, I made a sticky rice ball.

In Chinese, it’s called ci fun tuan, a sticky rice ball/roll made of steamed glutinous rice with a savory filling. While it’s a popular Chinese breakfast item for those on the go, I didn’t grow up eating it on a regular basis.

The one time I vividly remember my mom making something like it was when my sister was still studying at the library around dinnertime. So mom made a rice ball with meat inside of it and made me take it to my sister where it was surreptitiously eaten after a bit of giggling.*

Sticky Rice Ball

As you can see, I need to work on my technique as I had a few thin spots. I was trying to make the rice a thinner layer so it’s not this giant carb bomb.

Originally, the shape was to be a roll. But I had to really squish to get it to stick together and a ball shape was just easier to make. Ci fun tuan from a store have a thick cellophane wrapper, I only had flimsy plastic wrap, so I used parchment paper to shape and wrap up for on the go eating.

Sticky Rice Ball Inside View

The pretty pink color is from sautéed beet greens. I also subbed in Hodo Five-Spice Tofu Nuggets, and fried seitan (found at the Asian supermarket) for the more traditional ingredients of pork floss, pickled mustard greens, cruller, and sichuan vegetable. Other possible veggie fillings: seitan sausage, sautéed mushrooms, really anything that’s not too saucy otherwise it’ll just drip all over. And no one wants that.

* I’m neither advocating nor endorsing eating in a public library.

Sticky Rice Ball (Ci Fun Tuan)
Makes about 4-6 balls depending on size

1 3/4 cup glutinous rice (using the measuring cup that came with the rice cooker)
1/4 cup jasmine rice
A variety of strongly flavored fillings such as baked tofu, seitan sausage, sautéed greens and/or Chinese dried mushrooms

Cooking directions is for use with a rice cooker with a 5.5 cups capacity. Using the inner pot of the rice cooker, rinse the rice in several changes of water until the water is clear. Add enough water to cook the sweet rice as indicated on the inner pot. Let the rice soak in the water for 2 hours before cooking.

Cook the rice according to the rice cooker directions. Allow the rice to cool enough to handle. It’s easier to shape the rice when it’s warm. Lay a piece of parchment paper or heavy duty cellophane in your hand or on a flat surface if that’s easier. Place a scoop of rice on it and spread out, add whatever fillings. Add another layer of rice on top. Using the paper, shape into a ball or tube, pressing firmly until it’s tight and compact.

Make it as big or small as you like. I like mine with a minimal amount of rice, I don’t mind eating carbs but I don’t want to eat a lot of it at one go so I try to use the least amount of rice I can get away with.

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Miyoko’s Creamery

Miyoko's Creamery Classic Double Cream Chive

I never thought I would be swooning over vegan cheese. I remember a time when non-dairy cheese was disgusting to put it mildly. But now thankfully, we live in the era of artisanal vegan cheese.

Ever since I heard about Miyoko’s Creamery, I’ve been anxious to try their cultured nut-based cheese. I had read through Miyoko Schinner’s vegan cheese making cookbook, Artisan Vegan Cheese. But deep down I knew I’m much too lazy and impatient to make my own nut cheese.

I finally spotted the white boxes in the refrigerated section at the Whole Foods near me (Redwood City and San Mateo). There’s only a few flavors available on the store shelves, compared to the many flavors seen on their website.

Miyoko's Creamery Packaging

Actually, it’s probably for the best that the selection was limited otherwise I would still be standing there trying to decide on a flavor. I settled on the Classic Double Cream Chive and Aged English Smoked Farmhouse. The first one I tried is the chive cheese and it’s my favorite. It’s creamy and totally spreadable on a cracker with a great chive taste (pictured at the very top).

Miyoko's Creamery Aged English Smoked Farmhouse

As for the smoked farmhouse, just unwrapping it, you can smell the smokiness. It’s a harder cheese and it crumbled much more easily and wasn’t quite as spreadable compared to the chive cheese. At first, I thought I didn’t care for it but I’ve since come around and appreciate the sharp, rich taste.

Depending on the flavor, prices range from $9.99 to $11.99 for 6.5 oz, it may seem a little pricey but really it’s no different than the cost of a nice, high end dairy cheese. As an occasional treat, my wallet and taste buds have no problem leaving the nut-cheese-making to the experts.

Now & Zen Package Labels

Fun Tidbit:
Anyone else remember Now & Zen? Way back when, they made vegan meaty seitan things like UnTurkey, UnSteak and BBQ UnRibs. I never got around to trying the UnTurkey but I loved the other two (I even saved the packaging labels, I’m such a nerd). I was so sad when the company went out of business. The talent and brains behind Now & Zen was none other than Miyoko Schinner herself. So happy she’s back in business with Miyoko’s Creamery.

This post contains an Amazon link, I get a few coins tossed my way if you click on the link and make a purchase of anything.

5 Easy Vegan Snacks for the Big Game Day

Buffalo Style Roasted Tofu

With Super Bowl weekend right around the corner, lazy me just wants to plop down on the couch with a big bag of potato chips and be done with it. If you’re like me, and the thought of putting out a lavish spread has you feeling deflated, here’s five easy vegan snacks for the big game day.

Buffalo Style Roasted Tofu: A vegan version of buffalo wings. It’s like bar food but you eat it at home. And on game day, you’re allowed to eat in front of the tv in the living room.

Amy's Spicy Chili Fries

Amy’s Spicy Chili Fries: This is for the laziest of the lazy (that would be me), it’s just a can of Amy’s Kitchen Spicy Chili over homemade fries. If you’re super lazy, you could use frozen fries.

Baked King Oyster Mushroom Calamari

Baked King Oyster Mushroom Calamari: Just like fried but better because it’s baked. And it’s not at all fishy (can’t be stinking up the house before kick off), it’s really king oyster mushrooms also know as trumpet mushrooms, sliced into rounds, breaded and baked.

Mini Sloppy Joes

Mini Sloppy Joes: With a mix of smoky maple bacon tempeh and soy chorizo, there’s plenty of flavor packed into these pint-sized sandwiches. Serve with sweet potato fries for a full-sized meal.

Animal Style Taters

Animal Style Taters: At my dream stadium, I would be able to order this, crispy tater tots with melted Daiya cheddar cheese, a drizzle of Thousand Island dressing with vegan mayo, ketchup and sweet relish and topped with caramelized onions.

As simple as everything is to make, lazy me is reserving the right to serve said bag of potato chips on Sunday.

Graze Kitchen Pismo Beach

Graze Kitchen Chef's Vegan Stack Sandwich

So happy to have found another place to eat when visiting family down south along the central California coast. While everyone else was busy scarfing down breakfast at Old West Cinnamon Rolls in Pismo Beach, I spied a bunch of vegan options on the menu next door at the recently opened Graze Kitchen.

Since they don’t open until 10:00am on the weekends, I headed back over to pick up lunch after hanging out at the beach. I got the Chef’s Vegan Stack – grilled zucchini, eggplant, roasted red bell pepper with sun-dried tomato pesto, black olives and pepperoncini on fresh sourdough bread.

So good, the freshness of the veggies really shines through. I’ve dined out on plenty of faux meat sandwiches which I like but an all-veggie sandwich when done really well like this, is just as filling and satisfying, perhaps even more so.

I also got the Graze Quinoa and Kale Salad – marinated artichoke hearts, olives, pepperoncini, red onion, toasted almonds, tossed in an Italian vinaigrette. Expertly seasoned and dressed, with the perfect balance of kale to quinoa. And like the sandwich, you can taste all of the ingredients.

Graze Kitchen Vegan Cowboy Cookie

For dessert, a vegan cowboy cookie. Having never tried a cowboy cookie before, I had assumed it was just a chocolate chip cookie with a fancy name. Taking a bite, it’s a lot harder than I expected, maybe because it’s packed full of chocolate chips and walnuts.

Graze Kitchen is all about being healthy and delicious, as well as local, organic and sustainable. They’re super friendly too. With their varied menu items, there’s something for omnivores, vegetarians, vegans and the gluten-free. I’m hoping to convince the whole family to eat there next time we’re all in town.

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