Friday, December 23, 2011

Final Salad of the Year

The Chefs: Elizabeth and Herbivore

The Menu: A big, gorgeous  green salad.

The Goods: You guys. You GUYS. It's pretty danged near impossible to describe the incredible day that we're having here at the VNHQ. Our staff is what you might call extra-double-super excited about our upcoming holiday break (this is our last day in the office until Jan. 2, 2012!), and the presents have been coming fast and furious. It's intense. The day started with Assistant Editor Anna Peraino bringing in cookies within cookies for Associate Editor Jennifer Chen, then progressed to a couple dozen candy cane brownies from Sticky Fingers for the staff from our publishers. If ever there was a day to feast on salad, it's today. We've had holiday music blasting all day, and things just basically couldn't be more festive. Here's to an amazing holiday season for everyone! We'll be back next year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Roasted Vegetable Tamales & Black Beans

The Chefs: Colleen and Hella Vegan Eats

The Menu: Roasted vegetable tamales with a verde salsa, black beans with vegan sour cream, and an organic salad with lettuce, carrots, olives, and cucumber

The Goods: A few weeks ago, I went to a holiday party which had the most amazing vegan spread. An array of dips and appetizers, vegan tamales with 10 different fillings, and a beverage bar that only vegans could appreciate (think hot rum-spiked soy nog with all-you-can-top vegan whipped cream). It was a good night, let's just say that. And what made it even better was that the fabulous hostess (VN Editor-at-Large Laura Beck) sent me home with a bag of Hella Vegan Eats' tamales. Today, I steamed up a batch for myself and a few of my colleagues and served them with a spicy tomatillo-avocado salsa. Delicious! This savory meal provided a nice antidote to all the sweets we've been inhaling this month. There's been chocolate, cupcakes, peppermint bark, truffles, soy nog, soy nog cheesecake, cookies, bars, and the lists goes on. Here's to a happy, healthy New Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Roasted Tomato Soup & Giant Kale Salad

The Chef: Jennifer 

The Menu: Roasted tomato soup and a kale salad.

The Goods: Yes, my co-workers (they shall remain nameless) teased me about the size of my kale salad. The leaves were literally falling off the plate. But I have a good reason for eating half of a bunch of kale. After baking/eating the top cookie in our Holiday Cookie Contest—chocolate sugar cookies with peppermint candy cane frosting—I needed to eat my weight in greens. The tomato soup, my friends, is one of the best I've ever had and it's the Veganize It! recipe from the January+February  VegNews. As Managing Editor Elizabeth Castoria aptly described it, "This soup is a great grilled cheese dipper." I'm lucky that my husband is the king of vegan grilled cheese sandwiches. Thanks, Daiya! If you're running low on your favorite vegan pantry items, enter our $100 Pangea shopping spree giveaway. Now, I'm off to finish the rest of my salad.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Soup and Spring Rolls

The Chef: Hilary and Whole Foods Market

The Menu: Savory, comforting mushroom-barley soup and fresh, crunchy tofu spring rolls. 

The Goods: Between last week's cookiepalooza and the final push of holiday parties that inevitably strikes the week before Christmas, I've had my fair share of crazy-heavy meals in the past few days. It's soup and salad or bust for the next few days, until I am reunited with my family and inevitably dive headfirst into Cake-and-Mashed-Potatoesville, USA. Not pictured above: the Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe-Joe's that I might have scarfed in the kitchen post-soup and spring rolls. They taste just like the scent of the Scent of Scandal candle that is This Week's Must Have! My obsession is boundless. Speaking of obsession, to see the other events of 2011 that had us full-blown captivated, don't miss VegNews' 10 Biggest Trends in Veganism for 2011, which rounds up all of the year's hottest stories that had us as buzzed as the sugar high I'm working through as we speak. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Oatmeal and Fruit

The Chef: Anna

The Menu: Oatmeal with blueberries and an orange on the side

The Goods: The holidays are the best—dinner parties, soy nog, so many cookies you can't count—but all those parties and treats can also wreak havoc on your stomach. Case in point: moi. After a week filled with four holiday parties and taste-testing for the VegNews Holiday Cookie Contest, I woke up over the weekend feeling less than ideal. Enter: oatmeal. Simple, tasty, and filled with fiber, this meal, while boring, will hopefully get me ready for round two of holiday eating, i.e., my parents' house. But until then, it's oatmeal time!

Friday, December 16, 2011

South Indian Staff Lunch

The Chefs: Colleen and Udupi Palace

The Menu: The amazing Spinach Masala Dosa with a bowl of sambar soup and trio of housemade chutneys (coconut, ginger, and spicy tomato)

The Goods: There isn't a single person at the VNHQ who doesn't love South Indian food. Heck, we could probably eat it every day if we had to. And the best South Indian restaurant in the city is just around the corner from our offices, so our entire team ventured over for a delicious lunch of dosas, uthappams, idlis, and curries. The occasion, however, was bittersweet, as today marked the final day of our wonderful Editorial Assistant Joni Sweet's internship with VegNews. Joni actually studied abroad in India during college and can often be found diving into a dosa during the noon hour, so it was a fitting place to toast her amazing contribution to VegNews. Immediately following lunch, we headed back to the VNHQ for the official judging of our 2011 VegNews Holiday Cookie Contest (hundreds of entries! 10 finalists! incredible vegan cookies!), for which we'll be announcing our three prize winners on Monday (hello, KitchenAid mixer). We were all in a bit of a food coma due to the excessive sugar intake, but we need to shake it in time for tomorrow night's annual VegNews Staff Holiday Bash. We'll be shakin' up this town if you need us!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pesto Pasta

The Chefs: Jennifer and Valencia Whole Foods

The Menu: Savvy Savories Vegan Pesto Pasta with sun-dried tomatoes

The Goods: I blame Editorial Assistant Hilary Pollack for my addiction to this pesto pasta. She bought it all the time, and she made me try it to understand her obsession. Now, I'm hooked. The roasted cashews add a nice cheese-like taste to this pesto. I could eat it every day. Stop me. Immediately after eating this savory dish, all I really want is something sweet. So it's a good thing I'm baking up the Chocolate Sugar Cookies Iced with Crushed Candy Cane Topping recipe from our Holiday Cookie Contest. I'm not the world's best baker so I'm glad I'm chatting with some of the best vegan bakers tonight at 6pm PT during our VegNews Twitter Chat to get some help.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Spicy Peanut Noodles

The Chefs: Elizabeth and Valencia Whole Foods

The Menu: What started out as just a salad, but turned into a salad of mixed greens, olives, carrots, tofu, kale, and sunflower seeds, served with a side of Savvy Savories Spicy Peanut Noodles.

The Goods: Who can resist the siren song of awesome pasta tossed in a spicy peanut-butter sauce? Not this gal, and not today. As someone who's been stricken with the freaking stupid cold that everyone I know seems to currently have, today marked the first time in more than a week that I was actually hungry for lunch, which made these two yummy dishes even more enticing. I'm just hoping that my appetite returns full-force before Friday, when we'll be testing the 10 finalists in our first-ever Holiday Cookie Contest!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

South Asian Leftover Mash-up

The Chef: Joni

The Menu: A mishmash of leftover Thai, Burmese, and Indian foods—spicy tofu, glazed eggplant, yellow veggie curry, and coconut rice

The Dish: I had family in town recently, which means lots of dining out (no complaints here!). I’m pretty sure we ate at every South Asian restaurant in San Francisco, hence the assortment of leftovers for lunch today. While South Asian cuisine occupies a large portion of my love for food, so does dessert, and I’m ready for some cookies! We spent much of yesterday sorting through the myriad of recipe entries to the VegNews Holiday Cookie Contest and our top 10 finalists sound amazing. We’ll be having a bake-off on Friday to determine the winners and I can’t wait to bake the Peanut Butter Blossoms. It will surely be the perfect end to the week.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Kale Can't Fail

The Chef: Hilary and Herbivore

The Dish: A generously sized kale salad with cucumbers, carrots, onions, tomatoes, avocado, and soy chicken. 

The Goods:  After a week (and weekend) of holiday indulgence, a kale salad with hearty soy chicken and buttery avocado was the perfect Monday-lunch antidote. Even better, after a rousing game of Bananagrams, we got to review the amazing recipes submitted by readers for the VegNews Holiday Cookie Contest. I wish that I could offer a sneak peek, but the deliberation was top secret. Keep a close eye on early next week for the results of our difficult (and delicious) decision-making process! 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Baked Potato with Vegan Cheddar & Guacamole

The Chef: Colleen

The Dish: Baked Russet potato topped with WayFare Hickory Cheddar cheese, homemade guacamole, and sliced scallions—plus organic greens and cherry tomatoes tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sea salt

The Goods: After a week of mind-blowing food on the VegNews Vegan Yoga Retreat to Mexico (seriously, it was amazing), I focused on really simple lunches this week. This meant lots of salads, rice bowls, and, today, a baked potato with a few key toppings. And since the WayFare fairies dropped by our offices on Wednesday with a cooler full of vegan cheese, pudding, and sour cream, a smear of the cheddar spread made the perfect condiment to my Friday meal. It was delish! But I am already fantasizing about the 10 recipes we'll be testing next week for the first annual VegNews Holiday Cookie Contest. It's going to get crazy here at the VNHQ, I can promise you that. Still haven't entered your favorite cookie? The deadline is tomorrow at 5pm PT, so enter as many recipes as you'd like for a chance to win a KitchenAid mixer, a cupcake kit, and two dozen cookies from Allison's Gourmet. In other great news, we just announced our Holiday Gift Subscription Sale, where subs are now just $15. Stock up while it lasts!

A close-up of my baked potato with WayFare Hickory Cheddar cheese, guacamole, and fresh veggies

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cozy Cheesy Farfalle and An Apple a Day

The Chef: Hilary

The Dish: Bow-tie pasta smothered in mozzarella Daiya and marinara sauce with shallots, broccoli, and cherry tomatoes, plus a delightfully crunchy and sweet Honeycrisp apple. 

The Goods: With temperatures dropping, I find my urge growing to crawl into a cave with a barrel of hot cocoa and knitted things to hide for the remainder of winter. Due to various social obligations and physical logistics, my dream scenario is unfortunately not feasible. However, I find that a hearty, Daiya-laden pasta dish here and there provides a sufficient dose of cozy to help me beat the winter blues. Now all I need is the aroma of fresh-baked cookies from the VegNews Holiday Cookbook to keep me feeling toasty. Submit your best cookie recipe to the VegNews Holiday Cookie Contest today! The deadline is Friday for showing us how brightly your baking skills shine. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Vegan Avocado Rolls

The Chefs: Elizabeth and Valencia Whole Foods

The Menu: Delightfully avocado-filled spring rolls with extra avocado, cucumber, shredded carrot, and romaine.

The Goods: After spending last week in Mexico for the utterly phenomenal VegNews Vegan Yoga Retreat to Mexico, I am just beginning to come to terms with the fact that I can no longer just show up at the retreat's gorgeous restaurant at meal times and wait for a stunning plate to magically appear. The readjustment has been trying, at best. Thankfully, our trusty corner store came to my rescue by putting even more avocado in the fresh spring rolls. Extra avocado perks up any day, but today was made even brighter by the fact that it's Bestie Day, and I was the extremely lucky recipient of these awesome flowers from my very own bestie. Gah! So many great things are happening all at once! It's almost enough to make a gal forget to mention that entries for the VegNews Holiday Cookie Contest are due by Saturday. Almost!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


The Chef: Joni

The Dish: A bolani—traditional Afghan flatbread—stuffed with potatoes and a side of pesto for dipping

The Goods: When I saw this Afghan specialty at the grocery store, I knew I needed to try it—I’m always on a quest to incorporate international flavor into every meal I eat. Adding worldy pizzazz to food would definitely be a good tactic if you’re considering entering the VegNews Holiday Cookie Contest. We’re looking for the most inventive and delicious cookie recipes known to the holiday season, so send them our way for a chance to win fabulous prizes, like a KitchenAid stand mixer.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Peanut Butter and Jelly, Part Deux

The Chef: Anna

The Menu: A peanut butter and jelly sandwich on Ezekiel bread, an apple, and a peppermint patty from Allison's Gourmet

The Goods: It's a little déjà vu all over again: As you might have noticed, a week ago I essentially ate the same lunch. What can I say? I can never get sick of a good ol' PB&J. And, well, I didn't feel like cooking last night and didn't have time to make a salad this morning. But really, I can't get sick of a PB&J! Some might call it boring, but I like to think of it as classic. If you need ideas for classic—and not in any way boring—holiday meals (you know, like Seitan Roulade with Oyster Mushroom Stuffing), be sure to buy our Holiday Cookbook, available for instant download in the VegNews Store!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Vegetable Platter at Gracias Madre

The Chef: Joni and Gracias Madre
The Menu: A yummy veggie platter with refried black beans, rice, warm kale salad, and fried plantains.

The Dish: Most of the VN staff is saddened by the fact that Gracias Madre is currently for sale, so we’ve been heading there for lunch this week to say our goodbyes to this beloved establishment. This is probably one of the last meals I’ll have here, as I’ll soon be heading back to Upstate NY to spend the holidays with my family. Right now, the VN team is currently working on web stories for the month of December. Get ready for the hottest articles to revive your holiday spirit, starting next week on Happy Friday!

**Thanks for the photo, Lyndsay! I was way to ravenous for lunch and forgot the camera. While I didn't have exactly that meal, it is a great representation of Gracias Madre's amazing hearty Mexican food.** 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Triple Tacos

The Chefs: Jennifer and Gracias Madre

The Menu: The stellar taco plate, with black beans, fresh tortillas, sautéed greens, plantains, summer squash, and extra cashew cheese.

The Goods: As Café VegNews readers know, the VN staff are regulars at Gracias Madre. In fact, counting today, we've blogged about our lunches there at least 30 times. With the news that Gracias Madre is up for sale, I met VN columnist Jesse Miner ( the High-Tech Chef) there who graciously took me out to lunch. I always love the taco platter because the fresh veggies are delicious, and the mashed black beans are my favorite. Jesse and I chatted about his regular columns and his recent trip to Hawaii. If you're dreaming about vacation like I am right now, let us know where you'd like to go and you'll be entered in our $100 shopping spree to Alternative Outfitters, a vegan boutique, so you can buy flip flops for your impending trip to Hawaii. A girl can fantasize, right? Thanks to Managing Editor Elizabeth Castoria for this photo. I was too saddened by the news of GM's possible closing to remember to take one.