Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Couscous Mania

The Chef: Hilary
The Menu: My favorite couscous with mushrooms, broccoli, baked tofu, carrots, rosemary, and thyme. 
The Goods: Things are a little quiet in at the VegNews HQ with Managing Editor Elizabeth Castoria and Associate Publisher Colleen Holland on the VegNews Vegan Yoga Retreat in sunny Mexico, but the rest of the staff is keeping it cool between yesterday's Thanksgiving—Round 2 and a taste-test of Genuto vegan gelato. I made my favorite couscous to nosh away the early winter blues, since we're too busy for a hot-toddy break. Gear up for the holidays by entering your favorite recipe in the VN Holiday Cookie Contest. Peppermint-stick sugar cookies? Butterscotch gingerbread bars? The sky's the limit! We can't wait to read—and eat—what you come up with. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving—Round 2

The Chefs: Jennifer and Native Foods
The Menu: A slice of vegan Wellington from Native Foods, mashed potatoes with gravy, and cornbread stuffing 
The Goods: It's Thanksgiving, round 2. Thanks to leftovers from Publisher Joseph Connelly, the VN staff had yet another lunch eating the amazing Native Foods' Wellington. Personally, I'm a Tofurky gal, but now that I've tried this stuffed Wellington (kale! turkey seitan! sweet potatoes!), I know there's room for more on my Thanksgiving plate next year. Now that Thanksgiving is over, I can't wait for the holidays. Specifically, Christmas cookies. My mother-in-law and I bake up a batch together every year, and if I could enter the VN Holiday Cookie Contest, I would veganize her almond and raspberry jam thumbprint cookies. But since I can't enter (hello, KitchenAid mixer), I hope you will. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Peanut Butter (and) Jelly Time

The Chef: Anna

The Menu: The classic PB&J and a big-as-your-fist orange to go with it

The Goods: After an entire weekend of stuffing my face with delicious, rich food (Do I restrict my gluttony solely for Thanksgiving? Goodness, no!), it's time to get back to basics. This sandwich-and-fruit combo has weaved itself throughout my entire dietary life, and I was happy to once again dig in today. As happy as I am to have a respite from stuffing and pie, I can't wait until its time to head back to my family in Denver for Christmas cookies, soy nog, and a whole lot of baking. Do you have a stellar vegan holiday cookie recipe that wows taste buds year after year? Enter the VegNews Holiday Cookie Contest for your chance to win a KitchenAid stand mixer! And in case you already have one, I have that very mixer on my Christmas list. Just saying.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pesto Pasta and a Leafy Green Salad

The Chef: Joni and Valencia Whole Foods 

The Dish: A healthy green salad and pesto pasta with sun-dried tomatoes 

The Goods: See that pesto pasta? I’m obsessed—as my go-to lunch, it costs less than $4 and really showcases the earthy flavor of basil. After yesterday’s amazing feast, I wanted a light lunch so that I’ll have plenty of room for feasting this weekend! If you still don’t have Thanksgiving plans, check out this handy guide for event ideas across the country, and don’t forget to save some time to come up with the perfect recipe for our first annual Holiday Cookie Contest! Have a great weekend (also, isn't it great to be able to say that on a Wednesday?)!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

VegNews Thanksgiving Feast 2011!

The Chefs: Hilary, Colleen, Jen, Elizabeth, Lyndsay, and Native Foods
The Menu: A feast fit for a voraciously hungry staff: a vegan Wellington and mushroom gravy from Native Foods, Elizabeth's mashed potatoes, Colleen's brussels sprouts and signature winter salad, Lyndsay's biscuits, nog, cider, and three kinds of pie from Sidesaddle Kitchen!

The Goods: It's not easy to write this right now. My intelligence has plummeted since lunch due to a rush of blood to my digestive system. The VegNews Thanksgiving feast was truly scrumptious this year, tickling my tastebuds with every seasonal flavor imaginable and subsequently rendering me immobile. Our talented staff pulled together an array of amazing holiday dishes—from Colleen's winter salad with spiced pecans, sliced apples, and tangy dressing to Lyndsay's perfectly flaky, buttery biscuits. Behold the spread.

And why didn't anybody ever tell me that the Native Foods vegan Wellington is life-changing? Oh wait, they did, and they were right. Come Thursday, I'm going to be consulting the VegNews Holiday Cookbook to dazzle anyone (mostly myself) with all of the mouthwatering Thanksgiving recipes contained therein. Pumpkin Cake with Vanilla Buttercream and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes are just the beginning. Think your recipes will impress us? Enter the first-ever VegNews Holiday Cookie Contest now!  

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pre-Thanksgiving Greens

The Chef: Anna and Herbivore

The Menu: The ever-constant, ever-tasty green salad, topped with beets, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, carrots, avocado, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, mint, and a healthy dose of grilled soy chicken.

The Goods: I'm not sure about you, but I always think about Mondays as a fresh start to both the work week and to healthy eating: hence, the salad. This healthy week, however, is to be short-lived, and by that I mean will end today. Why, you ask? Tomorrow marks VN's annual Thanksgiving luncheon, where we will be stuffing ourselves with Native Wellington, mashed potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts, apple pie from Babycakes, and tons of other stuff that I'm so excited to eat, I will most likely wake up three hours early tomorrow morning, à la a kid at Christmas. Speaking of the holidays: Do you have a holiday cookie recipe that blows people's minds? Then enter our first-ever Holiday Cookie Contest for your chance to win a KitchenAid Stand Mixer!

Many thanks to Lyndsay for this photo—I was too distracted by hunger to capture my lunch! 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Plain Ol' Soup & Salad

The Chefs: Lyndsay

The Menu: Some homemade tomato soup, salad greens, and a persimmon

The Goods: I've gone out to lunch almost everyday this week, so today I decided to keep it simple and cheap. The tomato soup is
courtesy of VN contributor Jesse Miner, and the salad and persimmon is courtesy of my Farm Fresh To You produce box. I've never tried a persimmon before, so I am grateful to my produce box for sharing such a delicious, natural treat with me. At first, I wanted to do something really fancy with them, but my busy life got in the way, so I decided to eat them just as is, and I'm happy did. Here at the VNHQ, we're gearing up for the Thanksgiving holiday next week, about which we're very excited. Hours remain for you to win your own feast in our Thanksgiving giveaway, so get on it!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fantastic Falafel & Protein Shake

The Chefs: Jennifer and Ali Baba's Cave

The Menu: A giant falafel wrap filled with roasted eggplant and potatoes, tahini, hummus, hot sauce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onions, and a Svelte chocolate-chai shake.

The Goods: This $6 falafel wrap is huge so I asked for it to be cut if half so I could make two lunches out of it. I love that they add roasted potatoes and eggplant right into the wrap. All my favorite foods in one bite! I made myself a Svelte protein shake combining the chocolate and chai flavor. Yum. I admit this is a decadent lunch, especially when Thanksgiving is right around the corner and a Native Foods' Wellington is in my future (and could be in yours too if you enter our giveaway). I'm excited that we just launched our first-ever Holiday Cookie Contest, so if you're a baker, submit a recipe and VN editors will choose finalists and one winner. I look forward to all of the decadent cookie recipes (hint: how about a cookie within a cookie?!).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Grilled Chicken Sandwich

The Chefs: Elizabeth and Herbivore

The Menu: A half-homemade, half-take-out lunch! Herbivore's grilled chicken sandwich with added avocado and seasoned potatoes perfectly complimented my salad of romaine, fennel, hearts of palm, and tomato.

The Goods: Sometimes salad just doesn't cut it, and today was one of those times for me. When Assistant Editor Anna Peraino offered to go halfsies on one of my all-time favorite sandwiches, my lunching fate was sealed. Though today's meal totally hit the spot, I'd be lying if I said it was my favorite food fate. The Native Foods Cafe Wellingtons arrived today (both for our giveaway, and for the annual VN Thanksgiving Feast), and I could pretty much not be more excited about next week's party. Wellington, I'll see you next Tuesday.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Burrito—Round Two

The Chefs: Joni and Taqueria Cancun

The Dish: A super veggie burrito with rice, avocado, black beans, tomato, and onions, complete with a side of chips and salsa.

The Goods: This photo may look familiar to you because I literally had this exact same meal less than two weeks ago. Hey, for $5, there’s no better place to grab a cheap, quick, and filling lunch. You know what’s even cheaper than burritos? A free vegan Thanksgiving feast, which could be at your door next week! As part of our holiday giveaway series, we’re ready to ship an amazing Thanksgiving dinner package, complete with a Native Foods Wellington and a luscious apple pie from Babycakes NYC, to one lucky participant. All you have to do is tell us your favorite Thanksgiving dessert. Woot! Free food!

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Little of Everything

The Chefs: Hilary and Valencia Whole Foods

The Menu: A conglomo-salad of mixed greens, Kalamata olives, beets, couscous, hummus, white beans with sun-dried tomatoes, kale, and tofu. 

The Goods: After a highly nutritious (...) breakfast of a So Delicious coconut-milk ice cream sandwich, greenery was in order for lunch. My salad-bar strategy is to take a scoop of every single vegan thing and then throw some lettuce on top in attempts to aesthetically homogenize everything. The result is a salad that's like seven salads in one. Yippee! I've also got to start saving up my eating mojo for our holiday Thanksgiving table—if it's half as mouthwatering as the VegNews Holiday eCookbook, I'm going to be full for a week. Salad today, Pumpkin Cake with Vanilla Buttercream next week. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Deadline Day Tacos

The Chef: Colleen and Taqueria Cancún

The Menu: Warm corn tortillas filled with black beans, rice, avocado, and chopped tomatoes, onions, and cilantro—plus some chips and spicy salsa on the side

The Goods: It's no secret that we love Mexican food at the VNHQ, especially the very-affordable (and delicious) south-of-the-border fare from nearby Taqueria Cancun. There is so much great vegan food in the Mission District (we've actually devoted a whole piece to our 'hood in the January+February 2012 issue), but sometimes we need something fast. Given today was our deadline for going to press (we can't wait to reveal our new cover!) and time was of the essence, a quick run to TC was in order. Heading to the San Francisco Green Festival this weekend? I'll be on the Earth Balance panel discussing a plant-based lifestyle on Saturday morning. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Comforting Curry

The Chefs: Hilary and Udupi Palace

The Menu: Aloo matar (the vegan version!) with potatoes, peas, and curry spices, enjoyed with rice and fluffy poori (a flatbread)

The Goods: When a craving strikes for Indian food, nothing will suffice but the warm, spicy flavor of curry. Fortunately, vegetarian South Indian restaurant Udupi Palace and it's awesome aloo matar are only a block and a half away from the VNHQ. Between finishing our January+February issue cover earlier this week (!) and looking ahead to the holidays, there is a lot to be happy about this Thursday afternoon. Even better, VN contributor Jasmin Singer of Our Hen House dropped by the office today and brought us all smiles with her bright wit and infectious sense of humor. More reasons to grin: this week's giveaway of Sticky Fingers Cowvin cookies! Only a few days are left to enter, so tell us your favorite holiday cookie now for a chance to win, and indulge, in a dozen of these decadent treats. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pizza, Pasta, and Salad

The Chefs: Elizabeth, Valencia Whole Foods, and Amy's Kitchen

The Menu: Amy's new vegan margherita pizza, plus a big spinach salad from the corner store topped with pasta salad, mixed veggies, and hummus.

The Goods: You know how there are days on which you really just can't decide what to eat for lunch? (Yes, this is definitely a #firstworldproblem.) Today, I answered the question of what to eat with: everything in sight. Who can resist a freshly baked pizza (thanks to Editorial Assistant Hilary Pollack!), or a big gorgeous salad, or tangy pasta salad, or the world's best hummus? Not this gal, and especially not today.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Roasted Stuffed Squash

The Chef: Joni

The Menu: Roasted acorn squash baked with a wild rice & apple stuffing

The Dish: If this dish looks familiar to you, it’s because I got the idea from this week’s Recipe Club. If you don’t recognize it, it’s probably because it’s a not-so-pretty (yet totally delicious!) leftover from the Recipe Club photoshoot my boyfriend and I held over the weekend. If it’s because you haven’t yet signed up for the Recipe Club, you totally should! I swear, while this photo doesn’t do it justice, this meal would make for a gorgeous Thanksgiving centerpiece. If you need more Thanksgiving recipe ideas to complete your menu, check out these 12 mashed potato recipes or whip up some Stuffed Maple Tofu. Or, be smart and just head to one of these amazing cruelty-free Thanksgiving events and call it a day!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tacos, Part Deux

The Chefs: Anna and Taqueria Cancun

The Menu: Rice and bean tacos (one black, one pinto) topped with salsa and avocado, plus a heaping handful of tortilla chips

The Dish: I've been craving tacos ever since since last week's taco-filled celebration of the 1,000th Café VegNews post, and I'm happy to have caved into my craving. These tacos are totally delicious and super cheap to boot—I got everything for less than $5! After a weekend of rain and temps in the 40s, the sunny 60s have returned to the City by the Bay, so I enjoyed my delicious, cheap meal on the deck with my coworkers, where we discussed ways to make our dollars stretch at our favorite neighborhood lunch spots. Want more money-saving tips from the VN editors? Check out Savvy Vegan, our blog for smart vegan penny pinchers.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Marinated Kale Salad

The Chefs: Jennifer and Herbivore

The Menu: A marinated kale salad with grilled soy chicken, tomatoes, cucumbers, and avocado.

The Dish: I have eaten my weight in Sticky Fingers treats, which they sent us early this week. So Herbivore's marinated kale salad was exactly what I needed. One kale salad erases the pumpkin whoopie pies I ate, right? Great! Last night, I went to a book party for Bust's new book, The Bust DIY Guide to Life, at one of my favorite local craft shops, Serendipity. Surrounded by yarn, I realized it had been a long time since I picked up a pair of knitting needles. If you've been itching to learn how to knit (trust me, it's easy!), join VN correspondent Jasmin Singer who shows you how in our VegNews TV Vegan Knitting 101 video. And don't forget to enter our holiday giveaway! This week we're giving away one Tofurky feast, perfect for making leftover faux turkey, cranberry, and mashed potato sandwiches. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Vegan Burrito!

The Chef: Joni and Taqueria Cancun

The Dish: Veggie burrito stuffed with rice, black beans, avocado, salsa, and more

The Goods: The best part about living in California is the vast abundance of inexpensive, fresh, and delicious Mexican food, found on nearly every city block. The Mexican restaurants in my home state of NY pale in comparison, and I’m not sure I can stomach another flat, boring quesadilla when I go back to visit my friends and family in December. If you’re like me and can’t head back home in time for Thanksgiving, consider checking out one of dozens of other cruelty-free celebrations occurring all over the country this month. From feeding rescued turkeys at farm sanctuaries to veganizing a classic dish for a community potluck, it’s easy to feel right at home for this holiday, no matter where you actually are.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Symphony of Salads

The Chef: Hilary and Valencia Whole Foods

The Menu: A big ol' salad with kale, grilled tofu, white beans, onions, peppers, sundried tomatoes, and pasta.

The Dish: Following up our 1000th (!!!) Café VegNews post yesterday, I went back to basics with a heaping salad from our favorite corner store, Valencia Whole Foods. It's been an exciting week with meetings, decisions, and holiday content-making  galore, so I opted for brain food. I'm also still in recovery mode from a Halloween weekend that may have bordered on (okay, dove right into) in excessive candy snacking. I've got to start making room for all of the undoubtedly amazing Thanksgiving cuisine heading our way in the coming weeks. I've already started getting pumped by fawning over Turkey Tuesdays! Be sure to check out our homepage every day this month for more of the season's best dishes, events, and activities. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Café VegNews' 1,000th Post!

The Chef: Colleen and Taqueria Cancun

The Menu: Soft tacos with black beans, rice, onions, cilantro, and avocado—plus a healthy side of chips and salsa

The Dish: It was Taco Tuesdays here at VegNews, complete with melon aguas frescas and streaming salsa tunes. And why the festive celebration? IT'S THE 1,000TH POST OF CAFE VEGNEWS! Yes, we're excited, as that's a lot of posts, a lot of lunches, and a lot of delicious vegan food. Café VegNews debuted on October 27, 2007, when Managing Editor Elizabeth Castoria decided it was time VegNews had a blog. And, back then, we were still in our old offices where we served a staff lunch every day to the VN team, so a blog chronicling our meals was the perfect foray into the world of blogging. Over the years, we've featured every type of cuisine imaginable, entertained guests from around the world, ate very healthfully (kale salad!) and very unhealthfully (deep-dish Chicago pizza), and enjoyed many a memorable moment with fellow VN staffers. And we've blogged about it every single (business) day since that October day four years ago. We hope you'll help us toast this milestone for VegNews, and cheers to all of our wonderful Café VegNews readers who've made penning this blog so gratifying. Here's to 1,000 more posts!

The full Mexican spread at Casa VegNews to celebrate Café VegNews' 1,000th post