Friday, May 28, 2010

Birthday Wellington

The Chef: Native Foods, Colleen, and Frankie

The Menu: In honor of Chas' birthday, we dined on the new Spring Wellington from Native Foods. This delicious, seasonal spin on Native Foods' autumn standard was packed with mushrooms, mashed potatoes, kale, peas, asparagus, and carrots all wrapped in a flaky, crunchy puff pastry and topped with rich, smooth Hollandaise sauce. Colleen balanced our hearty main course with a splendid, veggie-filled side salad, and Frankie added color to our plates with punchy, pickled cauliflower.

The Goods: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHAS! We couldn't be more thrilled to celebrate this special occasion with Chas, who is truly a member of the VN family. After toasting to Chas and enjoying a lovely, hearty meal we indulged in the requisite birthday dessert: cake! Colleen made a celebratory strawberry cheesecake with a chocolate-cookie crust and sweet strawberry jam on top. Unfortunately, our gluttony prevented us from photographing said cake before devouring it, but below we're including a picture of Chas with a different cake, mostly because he's the best.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Miso Soup with Tofu Steak

The Chef: Chas

The Menu: A refreshing, nourishing miso soup filled with halved carrots, wakame, tofu squares, onion, and garlic paired with a generous helping of green salad chockfull of lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, onion, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, halved olives, and shredded carrots all tossed in a zesty, tangy avocado dressing. Oh, and those little squares of tofu covered in bell pepper and mushroom slices? Those would be Tofu Steaks from Helen's Kitchen, which Chas grilled and dressed up with oil and veggies.

The Goods: This lovely, balanced meal brimming with greens was exactly what we needed after attending Millennium Restaurant's Southern Comfort Dinner last evening, and to prepare for SF Vegan Drinks tonight. Yes, this week is a busy, vegan event-filled good time, and what tonight's event will lack in miso soup it will more than make up for in veggie hot dogs and root beer float martinis—that's root beer vodka mixed with cream soda, if you're curious. If you're local and in-need of a drink to unwind before the long weekend ahead, stop by Martuni's to meet the VN staff, make new friends, and, well, down a few martinis.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

White Soup and Crackers

The Chef: Chas

The Menu: A light, refreshing white soup filled with cannellini beans, snap peas, kale, Yukon gold potatoes, onions, garlic, zucchini, taragon, thyme, and oregano served with stone ground crackers for complementary soup dipping. Chas paired this satisfying soup and crackers combo with a super green salad made of mixed greens, celery, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, shredded carrot, chickpeas, onion, and avocado tossed in a rice vinegar dressing. 

The Goods: Having Chas volunteer as VN Chef Extraordinaire is a little bit like living inside a soup and salad bistro—except legal and 10 times better. We're big fans of soups of all stripes, and this wholesome, hearty white soup was no exception. We're also big fans of dipping crackers into soup, making this all around perfect lunch as fun as it was tasty. In addition to sharing a fun, tasty lunch together, the entire VN staff also gets to indulge in a gourmet, five-course themed dinner tonight. Every spring Millennium Restaurant in downtown San Francisco hosts its annual Southern Comfort Dinner, a celebration of deep-fried, stick-to-your-ribs standards including everything from corn dogs to buckets of beer and mint juleps. Don't worry, we'll report back with full details for those of you who can't make it to this sumptuous shindig. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Crispy Tofu and Birthday Cake

The Chef: Chas 

The Menu: A splendid spread complete with crispy breaded tofu and seasoned brown rice made up the bulk of this hearty, rainy day lunch. Chas balanced out the meal with a bounty of greens: steamed kale and a salad overflowing with cabbage, broccoli, shredded carrot, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, and mixed greens topped with a delicious avocado, lemon, and tofu salad dressing, to be exact. 

The Goods: We're officially adding crispy, crunchy, perfectly breaded tofu and tangy, zesty avocado dressing to the ever-growing list of Chas' lunchtime specialties. We followed this tasty feast with a strawberries-and-cream cake—vegan, of course—to celebrate Lyndsay and Laura's recent birthdays. Colleen whipped up this decadent, rich delight from scratch, and expertly topped it with fresh strawberries covered in chocolate and sprinkled with sugar. Were we complaining about it? No. Were there leftovers? Are you new here? Happy Birthday, Lyndsay and Laura!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rice and Beans

The Chef: Chas

The Menu: "Peasant food" was how Chas described today's awesome meal. Rice, black beans, tomatoes, steamed broccoli, and one of Chas' signature salads filled us up, and we couldn't have been happier about it. Seriously, even the steamed broccoli. (Chas coats it in olive oil and nutritional yeast, and it's freaking killer.)

The Goods: We all agree that we could eat rice and beans pretty much every day, especially if one Mr. Chas Chiodo is cooking them. Also, it's beginning to be a bit ridiculous how much we look forward to the salad portion of lunch. We're just saying the man is a professional: he has us stoked about salad. Salad. Even though we're vegan, that's pretty stinking impressive if you ask us.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Feast

The Chef: Chas

The Menu: A little Friday roundup of on-hand veggies. Chas provided us with the delicious leftovers from his chili yesterday, along with a signature Chas salad, bread, and a stir-fried eggplant-carrots-chickpea mixture. As per always, everything was fantastic.

The Goods: In case you couldn't join us for the Lyman v. Niman debate last night, there's a little recap on Press Pass. If you happen to be in Chicago this weekend, come by our booth at the Green Festival, and say hello to our very own Savvy Abby! Oh, and if you need a little something sweet to kick off your weekend, we are giving away a huge collection of goodies from some of the country's best bakeries over on Facebook. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Veggie Chili, Flavorful Kale

The Chef: Chas

The Menu: Hearty, flavorful veggie chili chockfull of carrots, black beans, kidney beans, onion, green beans, and crispy squares of spicy tofu comprised the majority of today's lunch, and man, are we happy about it. Chas also marinated kale, our favorite dark leafy green, with olive oil, braggs, and rice vinegar and served it steamed alongside one of his signature salads—halved olives included.

The Goods: One of the many reasons we love Chas is that he is king of salads. Don't get us wrong, we've adored every dish he's ever prepared, but there is nothing on par with a Chas Chiodo salad, dressed to perfection with just the right balance of olive oil, Braggs Liquid Aminos, and nutritional yeast. In other news, tonight marks the much anticipated, VN-sponsored Lyman v. Niman debate in Berkeley, Calif. The VN staff will be reporting live at this can't miss, edge-of-your-seat event, and we'll be covering all the details, as well as tweeting updates during the event to keep everyone up to speed.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pea Soup, Quinoa, and Salad

The Chef: Chas

The Menu: A scrumptious bowl of tangy, savory pea soup replete with carrots, potatoes, and celery paired with perfectly cooked quinoa, pinto beans, and kale comprised the bulk of this fantastic lunch. Chas also provided us with slightly warmed slices of bread to dip into our soup, and busted out one of his delicious, expertly dressed salads filled with avocado, black olive, grated carrot, broccoli slaw, and chickpeas. Oh, and that sushi roll? That would be courtesy of our lunch guest David Smugar, who was kind enough to bring us a delicious veggie nori roll.

The Goods: Yes, it's just another day in lunchtime paradise here at the VNHQ, thanks to VN's all-star chef, Chas. We were doubly lucky today, as aside from our splendid meal, we were able to dine with our new friend, David Smugar, from Loving Hut. The international vegan restaurant chain recently opened a new location in Westfield Mall in downtown San Francisco, and we couldn't be more excited about tasty vegan eats available in a mall food court. The store celebrates its official grand opening party tomorrow afternoon, so locals should be sure to stop by, say hi, and chow down on everything from crispy tofu to sweet potato fries.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lentil Soup and Salad

The Chef: Chas

The Menu: A splendidly balanced, tasty soup and salad lunch. Chas anchored our healthful meal with a hearty bowl of green lentil soup teaming with potatoes, carrots, kale, onion, garlic, and a delightful mixture of herbs and spices. Chas also prepared one of his famous, fantastic salads complete with mixed greens, tomatoes, chickpeas, avocado, broccoli slaw, grated carrot, and cucumber marinated in Braggs Liquid Aminos, tarragon, olive oil, and rice vinegar. A side of marinated and steamed snap peas, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli added an extra dose of greens, and yes, Chas made sure we also had slices of bread to dip into our soup bowls.

The Goods: We're not sure how we survived before Chef Chas arrived at the VNHQ, and frankly, we're not asking questions. From plentiful pots of coffee to superstar lunches, we're pretty much the luckiest vegan magazine in town. Our fantastic, fresh lunch was made that much better by dining al fresco with our favorite weekly guest, VegWebmisstress Laura Beck. Over lunch Lyndsay regaled us with stories about her weekend trip to The Worldfest 2010 Earth Day Festival, an annual, veg-friendly event held in Lake Balboa, Calif. We were all delighted—and a little jealous—to hear about Lyndsay's celebrity sightings and opinion of new vegan desserts. Speaking of celebrities, subscribe now to receive our fabulous, star-studded July+August Anniversary Issue! To celebrate our 10th anniversary edition, world-famous artist Peter Max will be designing the cover of this collector's edition, which will be packed full of the most incredible vegan stories, personalities, and travel destinations.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Saucy Peanut Pasta

The Chef: Chas

The Menu: Splendid brown rice spaghetti mixed with pinto beans and covered in a savory peanut sauce made up the bulk of this tasty meal. Chas also prepared a side of perfectly steamed broccoli marinated in his simple, signature sauce: olive oil, Braggs Liquid Aminos, and nutritional yeast. A wonderful green salad filled with chickpeas, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, broccoli slaw, avocado, and mixed greens completed this well-balanced, satisfying meal.

The Goods: As you may have already noticed, our VN's Chef Chas has returned! In March, Joseph's friend Chas spent a week at the VNHQ, cooking lunch, helping out around the office, and generally winning our hearts forever. We were all incredibly sad to see him go, and we begged daily for his return. No, this is in no way an exaggeration, and yes, we realize it sounds sort of creepy. Being the kind, generous soul that he is, Chas agreed to return to our offices for a three-week stay. Today marked his first day back as VN chef, and we couldn't be more thrilled. If you need proof, don't take our word for it: We believe the amazing meal pictured above says it all.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Signature Mac and Cheese

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: Heaping helpings of the absolute best freaking mac 'n' cheese in the world. But you know, no big deal. Colleen perfectly paired her signature dish with a light, fresh dose of greens. Yes, we weren't at all mad that Colleen decided to bust out a casserole dish of VN's favorite Macaroni and Cheese, complete with veggie-filled, homemade cheese sauce—no nutritional yeast required. This mouthwatering main course is guaranteed crowd pleaser, so lets just say that everybody had seconds. Then thirds. Also maybe fifths. To round out our hearty lunch Colleen prepared a lovely salad of spinach, mixed greens, avocado, and halved cherry tomatoes marinated in a lemon and olive oil vinaigrette.

The Goods: In addition to an excellent meal, we were also lucky enough to have an excellent lunch guest, Jason Mark, the editor of Earth Island Journal. We couldn't have been more delighted to dine with Jason and discuss the upcoming Lyman vs. Niman debate happening Thursday, May 20, at The David Brower Center in Berkley, Calif., sponsored by VN and Earth Island Institute. The sold-out event brings together former cattle rancher turned vegan Howard Lyman and Marin rancher Nicolette Niman for a discussion about the environmental impact and sustainability of eating meat. We can't wait to report back on what promises to be a spirited, stirring conversation about the politics of food.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Quinoa and Greens

The Chef: Abby

The Menu: Seasoned, slow-cooked black beans and onions served atop tasty, fluffy quinoa comprised the bulk of this well-balanced lunch. Abby also prepared a delicious, leafy green salad complete with halved cherry tomatoes, shredded carrot, avocado, dinosaur kale, and mixed greens. Oh, and that little square of flatbread wedged between the grains and greens? That would be a slice of chickpea-filled naanwich. Yep, Abby is pretty much our favorite.

The Goods: While the frigid temperatures outside are currently less than delightful, we're still having a wonderful time here at the VNHQ. After enjoying a tasty, healthful lunch, we dived into delicious dairy-free desserts à la Raw IceCream Company and double chocolate wheat-free brownies from Allison's Gourmet. We were completely blown away by this scrumptious pairing of sweet treats, and have decided it would be best to probably end every meal this way. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Crunchy Cakes, Packed Peppers

The Chef: Barry Jones Horton

The Menu: An amazing spread of savory comfort foods freshly prepared by our superstar guest chef. Barry delighted us with perfectly cooked red bell peppers stuffed with sunflower seed risotto accompanied by crunchy, pan-fried white bean rosemary cakes. Our lovely gourmet lunch was rounded out with a spicy carrot purée, which made the perfect dipping sauce for, well, everything—including our spoons.

The Goods: We absolutely love it when Barry joins us for lunch; not only because of his phenomenal food, but because he is such delightful company. Also, he brought dessert. That's right, Barry not only prepared us a fantastically satisfying main course, he also served us the best bananas foster we've ever had. The bowls pictured below were emptied almost immediately, and maybe some of the staff members licked theirs clean—okay, so it was actually all of us. If endless bowls of bananas foster sound like something you need in your life (and trust us, you do), give Barry's catering company Local Love a call and set up a dinner party asap.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Garden Variety

The Chef: Liz

The Menu: A heaping helping of roasted veggies including broccoli, sweet potatoes, green bell pepper, eggplant, onion, and garlic, marinated in vegetable broth, rosemary, and oregano made up our hearty, herbivorous main. Liz served these perfectly cooked veggies over a savory mixture of brown rice and brown basmati rice with a fresh green salad brimming with mushrooms, avocado, spinach, and kale on the side. Yep, this lunch couldn't have been more chock-full of whole foods goodness if it tried.

The Goods: Today's lunch was satisfying and tasty, but our favorite part may have been the inclusion of kale. Yes, everyone in our office is pretty much a die-hard kale fan, so we were equally excited to read about Savvy Abby's latest entry detailing the fine art of making homemade kale chips on the cheap. If your appetite for salty snacks is anything like ours, we're sure that this recipe will become a fast favorite. Need some new reading material to keep your brain busy during snack time? Be sure to check out our May newsletter between bites, jam packed with fabulous news, eats, and events.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Cruzer's VegNews Pizza!

The Chef: Joseph, Frankie, and Cruzer Pizza & Pasta

The Menu: Mouthwatering slices of white pizza topped with artichoke hearts, basil, fresh tomatoes, roasted garlic, vegan pesto, and Daiya mozzarella cheese, courtesy of Cruzer Pizza & Pasta, comprised the bulk of this hearty lunch. Joseph prepared a lovely side salad with celery, avocado, and mixed greens to accompany our satisfying slices of pizza, and Frankie generously brought us homemade pickled papaya, lotus root, and sunchokes—oh yeah, we're spoiled.

The Goods: Here at the VNHQ we usually assume that every vegan pizza has our name on it, and now one actually does! Yes, our friends over at Cruzer Pizza & Pasta will soon be adding the VegNews Besto Pesto Pizza to its menu, so of course, it was only fitting that we all try a slice or two. We couldn't be more thrilled about having our own pizza, and believe us when we say that it is incredibly delicious. Even those of us who are red sauce loyalists couldn't get enough of this delicious white pizza. The consensus in the office is that we move the magazine to Los Feliz, Calif., to be closer to our pizza. That's what the pizza would want, right? It hasn't officially been added to the menu yet, but that shouldn't deter anyone from eating pizza at Cruzer's every day until it makes its debut.

Fantastic Frittata

The Chef: Abby

The Menu: Just about the best Friday spread we've ever seen. Abby busted out a lovely rosemary frittata, a very colorful salad, steamed broccoli, and sautéed greens with tomatoes and spices. Yes, everything was just as tasty as it looks!

The Goods: With a meal this colorful to kick off the weekend, we're pretty sure that good things are in store.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Vegan Beef Macaroni

The Chef: Liz

The Menu: A new dish that Liz dubbed "Herbivore Helper." Yes, this hearty main course was reminiscent of a certain other "helper," but far more cruelty-free and delicious. Liz used our standby, stellar mac 'n' cheese recipe as a start for this yummy dish, and added a beefy bonus using Harmony Valley Vegetarian Hamburger Mix. With sides of ketchup and actual vegetables in the form of salad, our plates were complete.

The Goods: We'll cut right to the chase: the winner of a bran-spankin' new copy of Viva Vegan from yesterday's giveaway is Ashley! Congrats to one of our favorite gals from Fat Bottom Bakery; it's always nice when a random number generator selects someone who happens to be awesome for a prize! (Though, to be fair, we typically assume that anyone who comments on this blog is fantastic.) Ashley, send us an email, and we'll get your book shipped right out!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinco de Mayo Vegan Fiesta!

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: Some very highly delicious Chorizo-Spinach Sopes, recipe courtesy of VN columnist Terry Hope Romero's latest book, Viva Vegan! While the recipe itself calls for handmade, fat tortillas, we were a little crunched for time and so substituted blue corn ones. The sizzling SoyRizo and spinach combination were completely wonderful, and the added bonus of shredded cabbage and fresh guacamole made us feel highly celebratory. Also there was salad. Woot, salad.

The Goods: Since this isn't the type of blog where we keep all the goodies to ourselves, we'll be giving away one copy of Viva Vegan! Does anything say "Happy Cinco de Mayo" better than 200 recipes for Latin-food lovers? Nope, didn't think so. To enter to win this stellar cookbook, tell us in the comments: What is your favorite variety of Latin food? We'll pick a winner before tomorrow's post!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sukhi's Smorgasbord!

The Chef: Sukhi's Gourmet Indian Foods

The Menu: Do you know what a naanwich is? We'll tell you what it is: It's delicious! The very lovely Francesca came over from Sukhi's today with an assortment of their vegan offerings, which we happily devoured. The enormous spread included both the Spinach and Tofu and Channa Masala Naanwiches (naan folded over with incredible fillings), Vegetable Biryani, a Roti Roll with mixed vegetables, Mint-Apple Chutney Dip, and Cilantro-Lemon Chutney Dip. Yes, we thoroughly enjoyed all of it!

The Goods: We absolutely love getting to try new food, especially when it means that someone else is doing the cooking! You know what else we love? Giving stuff away! Congratulations to PB and Jess from yesterday's comments, who's won our coveted copy of Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness! Jess, send us an email, and we'll mail your prize right out!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Feast with Fitness Guru

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: A splendidly simple and satisfying classic Italian lunch. Colleen pulled out all the stops, with perfectly cooked gluten-free pasta mixed with mushrooms, spinach, and chickpeas all covered in spicy marinara sauce. Alongside our marvelous main was a light, fresh salad made with avocado and mixed greens, and a hearty slice of slightly warmed bread rounded out our delicious meal.

The Goods: It was a big day here at the VNHQ, as we were lucky enough to enjoy our al fresco Monday lunch with three wonderful guests! Eco Vegan Gal Whitney Lauritsen, author and renowned vegan bodybuilder Robert Cheeke, and their close hometown friend Josh all joined us for a lovely afternoon of lunching and chatting—and okay, yes, maybe some marshmallow taste testing. We loved hearing all about Robert's fabulous new book, Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness: The Complete Guide to Building Your Body on a Plant-Based Diet, and can't wait to read all about his inspiring journey to becoming one of the first vegan bodybuilders. It turns out that Robert loves us too, because he kindly gifted VN with a signed copy of his rockin' new book to give away to one lucky reader. Want to enter for your chance to win? Simply tell us in the comments: What springtime outdoor activity gets you the most pumped up?

The VN staff with Robert Cheeke and Whitney Lauritsen