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Phoenix Vegan Food Festival – Review

Saturday, February 25, started out with a bit of crispness in the air with the sun shining. A beautiful day for a vegan food festival, most of which was outdoors.

The location was the Phoenix Theater, an absolutely perfect place for the festival.

I arrived for the VIP opening, excited for the day to begin. I was greeted by the friendly staff, who handed me my Swag bag, which included some valuable coupons from Daiya Foods and Tofurky, along with many others. Samples included Follow Your Heart’s Vegan Egg, and bars from several companys, such as Raw Revolution Organic Bars, Go Macro Bars, and Kind Bars. Sir Kensington’s even included a small bottle of ketchup.

I had my plan of attack laid out….first, check out all the vendors; and second, get into the auditorium where the speakers would be early so I could get a center seat towards the front of the room (yes, I am one of those people who like to sit in the front of the classroom 🙂 .

Upon perusing the vendors, I have to admit that my wallet was also a frequent visitor. Thankfully, I had my swag bag to assist as storage compartment for my acquisitions as I meandered through the vendor aisles. So many wonderful items to choose from, from conscious clothing and accessories to the most mouth-watering vegan food. One of my favorite scores was from Grape Cat Vegan Clothing and Accessories, a matching wallet and coin purse, which are richly-colored in a dark fuchsia with a black cat on them. The wallet even came with a shoulder strap, so it could double as a purse. Oh, and vegan, of course! I really did damage at the stand, also purchasing two birthday presents for loved ones. But, shhhh! Please don’t tell, they are a surprise.

I adore anything Picasso, and at Davisson Studio, I scored a serving tray that I will use this upcoming Monday during my cooking demonstration. Isn’t is lovely?!

Ah, the food! It was absolutely everywhere…from nestled between the non-food vendors to an entire row of nothing but vegan food trucks! It was a vegan’s sensory overload with fragrant aromas coming from every nook and cranny. The list is far too long to include here; but suffice to say that it included area favs such as, 24 Carrots, Café Lalibela, Green New American Vegetarian, Pomegrante Café, Udupi Café. Food Truck Row, as I like to refer to it, included Affogato Truck, Loca Popa, Mustache Pretzrels, Pho King Kitchen, Mi Vegana Madre, to name a few. Oh my! Throughout the day, there were lines at all the stands and trucks, and rightfully so, for sure.

Knowing that I couldn’t eat my way through the festival (it would have been nice to do so; but I knew I wanted to hear the speakers, so off I went to the auditorium).

The speakers opened with Chef Madelyn Pryor, from The Vegan Taste. In addition to her amazing cooking prowess, she has an astounding sense of humor. What a delight! She prepared two raw blender soups that were flavorful, quick, and easy. When she realized she had forgotten the top to her VitaMix, she didn’t skip a beat. She grabbed a paper plate, and improvised.

Will Tucker, vegan body builder, owner of Will Tucker Fitness (WTF!) and contributor to Vegan Health & Fitness Magazine was electric. He talked about how his shifting to a plant-based, mostly fruit, diet transformed his professional body building competing into a winning run.

Jason Wyrick, from the Vegan Taste, was up next. What can I say about our local vegan chef hero! He is the author of two wonderful cookbooks (Vegan Tacos: Authentic and Inspired Recipes for Mexico’s Favorite Street Food and Vegan Mexico: Soul-Satisfying Regional Recipes from Tamales to Tostadas).   But more importantly, he tells his personal story of triumph from a life-threatening diagnosis to wellness as a result of shifting to a healthy, plant-based diet. For me personally, I LOVE, yes LOVE, his recipes! One of my biggest gripes with most vegan restaurants is their lack of seasonings, thus resulting in boring, bland food that I find rather unappealing. Not with Jason’s recipes! He is neither shy nor bashful about how he heightens and enhances the flavor profile of his creations. Brilliant is definitely an understatement. If you haven’t checked out his website or his cookbooks, you absolutely must!

So, several years ago I remember hearing about this young woman who was traipsing around the U.S. in a van in search of the quintessential meal at vegan restaurants. I remember thinking how much I envied her gumption, first of all, to even think about, then embark on such a journey. Then, being the food brat that I am, how I wished I could have the courage to leave my everyday life behind in search of vegan meals. I couldn’t wait to hear her speak. Her name — Kristin Lajeunesse. Her blog that chronicled her two-year expedition – Will Travel for Vegan Food. Her story was inspiring, not only because of her actually pulling it off but also because of her effervescent tenacity and down-to-earth approach to life. It was a real treat hearing her story.

Last, but certain not least, was Tess Challis, author, wellness coach, and vegan chef. She prepared a caramel corn that was easy, healthful, and would satisfy all urges for a sweet treat.

It was a full and glorious day of community, conversation, impulse purchases, great food, amazing speakers, and music.  Oh, I seem to have forgotten to tell you that live music abounded everywhere.  Outdoors, there were three different music venues.

I am already looking forward to my next Vegan Food Festival, wherever it takes me.

Community Building

Me – at the Sedona VegFest

This past weekend, I had the incredible privilege of participating in Sedona’s (Arizona) first VegFest, hosted by Healthy World Sedona. While so many ‘responsibilities’ called to me, both before and during the event, I almost immediately realized what an outstanding opportunity it was for building community. Continue reading Community Building

Cookbook Review: JL Field’s “Vegan Pressure Cooking”

“Vegan Pressure Cooking” by JL Fields

So, yes, I have to admit that I am one of those people that have been terrified, and I do mean terrified, for years at the sight of a pressure cooker. Visions of it exploding on the stove, dousing ceiling to floor with the pressurized contents gone awry abound aplenty.

It wasn’t until about ten years ago, when a dear friend introduced me to using a pressure cooker to make Daal, Indian lentils, that one of those contraptions made its arrival into my kitchen arsenal. What a score! I embarked on my journey of using my pressure cooker, albeit still somewhat trepidatiously, cooking a variety of beans. But, alas, my journey pretty much stalled at that point….well, that is, until JL Fields’ “Vegan Pressure Cooking”. A whole new world of culinary skills and delights entered my gastronomic sphere. Continue reading Cookbook Review: JL Field’s “Vegan Pressure Cooking”

Carrot-Apple Sugar-Free Muffins & The Giving Plate

Carrot-Apple Sugar-Free Muffins
The Giving Plate

I am fortunate to have whom I consider to be the absolute best neighbors in the world. They live across the street from me. For the first six years, I did not reside in my home, but rather, visited several times each year. During the first six years, we became friendly with one particular couple. And then finally, on September 1, 2015, it happened! I was able to semi-retire and move to my dream house in my fantasy world, although it was neither a dream nor a fantasy. It was real life. Ah, so much to be grateful for today. Since then, we (my partner, Richard, and I) have become endearing friends with Skip and Cynthia. But, I am digressing here just a bit. Back to being on point….

If you’ve been following this blog, you might have realized by now that I not only love to cook, but also have a real passion for baking as well. Coupled with that, it positively feeds my soul to gift my baked treats to those I love.

Skip is diabetic, so I tweaked my original carrot muffin recipe (which was not vegan) into a delicious (and quick and easy) sugar-free carrot-apple muffin in his honor.

I just finished baking these muffins as part of my Holiday gift to Skip and Cynthia. I will be presenting these baked goodies to them on “The Giving Plate”. The giving plate reads: This special plate is yours today. Its purpose is very clear. It comes to tell you that you’re loved and someone holds you dear! Savor all the plate contains and fill it full again. Then send it on renewed with love to family and friends.

Muffins Almost Ready for gifting – Just have to close the box

So, here’s my new, veganized recipe. At the very end, I will include my former original non-vegan recipe, since after all, this blog is “veganification”, celebrating the journey of becoming and being vegan. That includes recipes in addition to us sentient beings. Continue reading Carrot-Apple Sugar-Free Muffins & The Giving Plate

Think Summer Roll & Spring Roll – Now There’s a Winter Roll and Fall Roll

Winter Roll
Winter Roll

I recently had the extreme pleasure of presenting a cooking demonstration at Verde Valley Olive Oil Traders in Cottonwood, Arizona, a town located just outside of Sedona, Arizona. The class was entitled, “Holiday Hor D’oeurves” and was presented to twenty mostly-omnivores. I knew I needed to step up my game and be creative and inventive with what I was preparing.

I absolutely LOVE Thai summer rolls and got my inspiration from that absolutely yummy delight. However, it’s not summer, it’s winter (or at least it will be when the holiday actually arrives). So, it got me thinking….how could I transform a summer roll into what I will now call a “winter roll”? Continue reading Think Summer Roll & Spring Roll – Now There’s a Winter Roll and Fall Roll

Vegan T-Shirt Advocacy Series – #1

T-shirts Can Be A Form Of Vegan Advocacy and Education
T-shirts Can Be A Form Of Vegan Advocacy and Education

vegan-t-shirt-modeling-back-view

I love how I can literally wear the message of my lifestyle “on my sleeve”, so to speak, without having to say anything. I am sort of a t-shirt queen, so having the opportunity to wear one with a vegan message becomes a form of education and advocacy for me. Continue reading Vegan T-Shirt Advocacy Series – #1

Vegan Black Friday

black-friday-hand-lettering

With today being the official kickoff of the Holiday Shopping Madness (oops, I meant Season), we are presented with an outstanding opportunity to use our dollars as our voice, letting others know that we will not use our dollars to contribute to the suffering of other sentient beings, to the expansion of global warming, and to the negative health consequences of friends and loved ones.

Each dollar we spend, each gift we give, is a chance to practice dynamic harmlessness. Continue reading Vegan Black Friday