VegFest Michigan 2013

Guess who went to Veg Fest…


We did!

Last Sunday, my friend Ellen and I went to Veg Fest Michigan.

The event was held in Novi, Michigan, which is about a two hour drive one-way for us, but worth it! We got there around 11:30 and spent the next few hours fighting the crowd enjoying the company of thousands of other vegans and vegan wanna-be’s as we all wandered from vendor to vendor, sampling their tasty goodies and learning about their vegan-friendly businesses.


Aside from the vendors, there were five guest speakers and three recipe demonstrations.


We were too busy sampling the goods to make it to Scott Jurek‘s talk (darn it!), but Ellen got to listen to Carol Leifer – and get her autograph- while I visited a few more vendors. Then, I joined Ellen for the John Salley presentation and the…wait for it…Dr. Barnard presentation! Woohoo!


Among the too many to mention foods we ate, Ellen noshed on a giant plant of vegan nachos. They were really, really good. I had a couple, but I made myself a giant plate of nachos the night before, so I didn’t really have a taste for them. And, I was stuffed from my sampling 😉

Sweet Magnolia Vegan Cupcakes had a table, and Ellen and I both bought cupcakes, which were ah-mah-zing! Seriously delicious. And, they were on Cupcake Wars that same night! They didn’t win, but at least they lost to another vegan cupcake business. Sweet Magnolia ships all over the country. Check them out!

I did end up purchasing a big ol’ smoothie from Crushed Healthy Smoothies before I headed into the presentations. They were kind enough to customize one of the recipe options for me and even asked if I was allergic to the bananas I requested be left out of my smoothie. Nope, just a preference; no need to clean the blender. Wasn’t that nice? If you saw the endless line of thirsty patrons behind me, you’d agree 😉

Ok, onto the presenters.


First up, John Salley (former NBA star for the Detroit Pistons and nearly 20 year vegetarian/vegan) entertained the crowd for about an hour by sharing an analogy relating the human body to a Ferrari car engine with the idea being you wouldn’t put junky fuel in a Ferrari, so don’t put junky fuel in your own engine/body. I thought it was a pretty decent analogy, especially for new vegans or flexitarians. John also talked about his involvement in the restaurant chain What Crepe?, which apparently has quite a few vegan options on the menu. He is also working on a line of vegan wines called The Vegan Vine. I don’t drink alcohol, but for those of you who do, you’ll definitely want to keep an eye out for this. Many traditional wines aren’t vegan because they are often clarified with fish bladder or have other non-vegan additives.

I took a few notes on what John Salley had to say:

  • There’s no need for oil to be added to food. Eat the whole food, not the oil.
  • If you’re new to the vegan way of life, or if you’re trying to help someone transition, don’t be afraid to use substitute foods like Beyond Meet and Daiya cheese.
  • You don’t have to give up your favorite family foods to become vegan. Figure out ways to veganize them. It’s easy!
  • Consider taking digestive enzymes to help with your vegan transition or if you’re having digestive issues.
  • There’s no need to salt food. John says he takes about a 1/4 tsp of Celtic sea salt as as supplement daily by letting it dissolve on his tongue. That way, his body knows it’s getting the sodium it needs without craving it throughout the day.
  • Eat raw whenever possible. John eats a high-raw, vegan diet. (High five!)

After John Salley, Dr. Barnard spoke to a packed house. He was, of course, promoting his newest book, Power Foods for the Brain, but he also spoke about plant-based diets in general. It was really interesting to see and hear Dr. Barnard in person. I’ve seen him speak on YouTube and on PBS, and, I must admit, I was surprised by how small he is; he’s not a little dude, but he certainly doesn’t have a commanding presence. (The complete opposite of John Salley!)


Both Ellen and I took some notes on what Dr. Barnard had to say. This is what we came up with:

  • As humans, we have very little need for iron. We get plenty in the foods we eat, and we should not be taking iron supplements.
  • Additionally, we should not be using cast iron pans on a regular basis to cook our food. The added iron/metal can eventually lead to swelling of the hypothalamus, which can lead to memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • If we choose to take multivitamins, we should look for a formula that does not contain minerals because we also get plenty of copper and zink in our food and (municipal) water supple.
  • Saturated fat intake has a direct correlation to memory loss. Anything over 13g a day is thought to lead to memory loss and associated afflictions. (The average person following the SAD likely consumes at least 25g of saturated fat a day.)
  • People need very little protein for optimal health. A whole-foods, plant-based diet with adequate calories will meet all of your protein needs.
  • Vitamin E, B12, B6 and Folate are great dietary additions to help thwart memory loss, but they should come from whole food sources, not supplements.
  • We should not be using aluminum. Cadaver brain exploration shows traces of aluminum in the brains of those suffer extreme memory loss. This includes cooking in aluminum pots and pans, using tin-foil, and use of aluminum storage and drinking containers.
  • The sterhols in grapes helps improve memory.
  • Lipitor may lead to memory loss. Dr. Barnard gave a statistic about a number of nursing home patients who have experienced Alzheimer’s like memory loss while taking Lipitor; the memory loss reversed itself after discontinuation of the medication.
  • Dr. Barnard suggests treating food related illness with food first and medicine second. Treat medication as the alternative treatment. (Amen!)

After the presenters, we wandered back through the vendor area where  I noticed John was still meeting and greeting the crowd. The line was basically non-existent, so I hung out for a few minutes and got to meet him 😀 I told him I wanted a picture for my blog, and that I, too, was a high-raw vegan. He was interested, and asked me to send him this picture, which I did!


Ellen took the picture, and she said she had trouble getting all of both of us in the same shot because John is so tall – ha ha!

Phew! That’s quite a few notes, but both speakers were just so darn entertaining! I loved the crowd’s excitement, too. The MC spoke of the increased popularity of the event, siting just a few years ago, VegMichigan could barely fill a high school auditorium, and this year, they packed a giant convention center.

Overall, VegFest was an awesome event! If we’re still living in the area, I’m hoping to make it to VegFest Cleveland on June 1. If not, I might be able to make it to VegFest Chicago. Fingers crossed I make it to at least one more VegFest this summer 😉 And, fingers crossed, you make it to a veggie celebration near you, too!

Spring Into Healthier Eating: Crazy About Kale Book Review

Are you crazy about kale? I am! And so is blogger and cookbook author Hallie Klecker from Daily Bites. Hallie’s newest creating, Crazy About Kale, is a super affordable ebook that highlights 40 gluten-free, dairy-free kale recipes, including smoothies and juices, salads, side dishes, main dishes, and snacks and sweet treats. And while not all of the recipes are vegan, most are, and the ones that are not, are easily veganized. You should definitely check this out!


After picking up some red Russian kale a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t wait to dig into this book and whip up some tasty new dishes. Red Russian kale is new to me; although we grew some last summer, it didn’t quite grow enough to eat. I wasn’t sure how I’d like it, but after ready Hallie’s review of each of the different varieties of kale (curly, lacinato, and red Russian), and spying some yummy recipes featuring my new find (Although, as Hallie pointed out, the varieties are interchangeable and are really a matter of preference.), I was ready to get creative in the kitchen.

The New Fashioned Potato Salad was super yum (I didn’t include the raisins or currents because sweet and savor together doesn’t do it for me.); the Spanish Style Braised Kale is beckoning to be made, and I can’t wait to whip up a batch of Kale in Almond Cream Sauce. And, the next time I break out the juicer, the Lean & Green Lemonade is at the top of my to-make list!

There are lots more recipes I can’t wait to dig into in Crazy About Kale, and if all of the kale plants we have started actually grow this year, I’ll be able to eat my way through this cookbook 4 our 5 times this summer 😀 I can’t wait!

Disclosure: Hallie provided a copy of Crazy About Kale for my review, but the opinions expressed are all mine 😉


Spring into Healthier Eating: Peace Salad Party!

First things first…The winner of the Plant Powered 15 by Dreena Burton is Bex of How to Feed a Vegan. Congratulations, Bex!

Now, onto my  next Spring into Healthier Eating review…Peace Salad. Have you heard of this yet? I hadn’t either until I received an email from my only real-life vegan friend (as opposed to my virtual vegan friends – ha!) asking if I wanted to have a Peace Salad party. Um…sure?

Peace Salad is the newest brainchild of raw-food, vegan blogger, Sandy Henson Corso, the owner of  Peaceful Daily and Sandy’s Salad.

In the book, Sandy lists 100 tips for peace. Practiced together, they’re like a salad 🙂


To celebrate the book, people are hosting Peace Salad parties all over, so we did, too!

Last Saturday night, we gathered a few friends and enjoyed some lively conversation over an abundance of vegan eats and treats. Ok, there were also some vegetarian cupcake there, but they were from a small business down the street, so at least we were supporting local business 😉

Check out this spread!


Ellen, the hostess of the party, made some of her favorite party foods, including this macaroni salad (from the Forks Over Knives cookbook (I gave her that book as a Christmas gift ;-))) and those crispy apple muffins in the background (from the Everyday Happy Herbivore cookbook).


Ellen also made her famous bruchetta (with a pesto recipe from The Kind Diet) and this super delicious cheeze dip (made with Teeze, soy cherizo, and spicy tomatoes). We couldn’t stop eating this stuff!

Someone else brought giant vegan cupcakes from a local restaurant, and someone else brought hummus and tabouli from a local artisan.

There was also lots of wine!

I brought a giant pan of raw vegan brownies, using my Brown Batter Bites recipes, and frosted them with chocolate cashew cream (made by blending cashews, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and a little date soaking water – left over from the date paste I used in the Brownie Batter Bites).


And a bunch of Gabby’s Pizza Bites.


The mixture was so massive, I had to bust out the beast – my 13 cup Kitchen Aid food processor.


And I made this giant bowl of Asian Rice Noodle Salad, which got rave reviews!


Here’s the recipe!

Asian Noodle Salad

1 pkg rice noodles, cooked according to package directions (I used Brown Rice Noodles)

1 sm pkg shelled edamame (about 1 1/2 cups)

1/2 c shredded carrot

1 small bunch scallions, diced on the diagonal (white and green parts)

2-3 TBSP toasted sesame oil (more or less to taste)

1/4  c tamari (more or less to taste)

Cook noodles according to package directions, and allow to cool. Mix noodles, edamame, carrots, and scallions in a bowl. Add sesame oil and tamari and toss to combine. Add more sesame oil and tamari to taste, or after noodle salad sits for a while. (My suggestion is to make this salad ahead, and let it sit in the refrigerator to allow flavors to meld.)

So easy, and soooo good!

I hope you decide to have a Peace Salad party, too. It’s a great excuse to gather your friends and family and share your ideas on peace and happiness while you enjoy some peaceful, vegan goodies. Enjoy!


Spring into Healthier Eating: Plant Powered 15 (Review & Give-a-Way!)

And the winner is…Erica Wollman! Congrats to Erica who won the contest for Happy Herbivore Abroad. Woohoo!

Guess what…It’s time for another give-a-way!

Today, we’re reviewing the newest ebook of long-time plant-based powerhouse, Dreena Burton. Dreena’s new collection of recipes is titled Plant Powered 15, and includes 15 delicious plant-based recipes, which includes breakfast, dips and dressings, soups, main courses, and desserts. So far, I’ve tried the Green Goddess Dressing and the Almond Blondies, and holy kale! Soooo good! My favorite part about the Green Goddess Dressing is it’s secret ingredient…beans! And, big bonus, it contains only a tiny bit of overt fat (a smidge of tahini)! No oil, no avocado – just beany, herby goodness. Mmmm…!

Not to be outdone, the Almond Blondies pack a powerful, healthy, sweet punch with dates, almond meal, maple syrup and coconut sugar. Throw in a healthy does of Omega 3’s with some chia seeds (They’re a great binder!), and you’ll be sneaking healthy goodness into dessert time by tonight!

Sticky Almond Blondies

These are positively delicious. They have the dense, sticky, decadent texture and
quality of a traditional blondie, yet are made with wholesome ingredients – and no flour
or oil!

1 tbsp ground white chia
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla
1/2 tsp black-strap molasses
1/2 cup pitted dates, lightly packed
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 + 1/8 tsp sea salt
few pinches freshly grated nutmeg
2 1/2 cups almond meal
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2-3 tbsp nondairy chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 325°F. In mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add ground chia,
maple syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, molasses, and dates. Process on low speed to first
incorporate, and then increase speed slightly to fully pulverize and smooth dates. Once
smooth, turn off mixer and add baking soda, salt, and nutmeg – mix just briefly and then
add almond meal, and coconut sugar. Process on low speed until mixer just comes
together (do not over-mix). Transfer mixture to an 8” x 8” brownie pan, and press in with
a spatula. If using chocolate chips, lightly press into top of batter. Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove, let cool completely, and cut into squares. Squares can be refrigerated for a
week or more (as if they’ll last)! Makes 16 blondies.

Chocolate Note: I usually make these without chocolate chips, and sometimes I’ll simply
sprinkle a few chips over top of half the batch – either way, these are crazy-good!

Recipe from “Plant-Powered 15” by Dreena Burton. For more recipes and information,
visit Photo credit: Nicole Axworthy

Almond Blondie

Dreena has graciously offered to share a copy of Plant Powered 15 with one lucky reader – open to anyone in the world! That’s right folks; we’ve got ourselves an international give-a-way! Woot!

To enter, leave a comment for each of the following activities (You must leave a comment for each for the additional entries.):

  • Leave a comment sharing your favorite plant-based dish (Recipes are not necessary, but feel free to share a link, if you’d like)
  • Sign-up to receive Veggie V blog updates by email, and let me know you did (or do).
  • Follow Veggie V on Facebook, and let me know you did (or do).
  • Follow Veggie V on Twitter, and let me know you did (or do).
  • Tweet the following: Enter to win #PlantPowered15 by @dreenaburton at! Visit blog and retweet to win!   (and let me know you did).
  • Follow Veggie V on Pinterest, and let me know you did (or do).
  • Follow Dreena on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, and let me know you did (or do).

Contest open now through Wednesday, April 17 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Good luck!!

Disclosure: I received a copy of Plant Powered 15 in exchange for this blog review. And I’m glad  I did 😉

Spring into Healthier Eating: Happy Herbivore Aborad Review & GIVE-A-WAY

It’s that time of year again. The snow is melting; the grass is growing; the flowers are blooming (Hello, daphadills!), and your shorts, tank tops and bikinis are waiting for their seasonal debuts. Wait. What?! Shorts, tank tops, and bikinis?! How did that happen already?!

If you’re still clinging to the over sized sweatshirts and elastic waits of winter, you’re in good company. And, I’ve got great news; I’ve got some secret weapons to help get us off the couch and back on the beach. It’s book review time!

For the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing one or two posts reviewing cookbooks, eBooks, and DVD’s that will inspire you to shake off the winter blues and eat something other winter fruit. (A girl can only eat so many apples and oranges!)

The first book review includes a give-a-way! Woohoo!

Happy Herbivore Abroad is Lindsay Nixon’s third book…so far. Just last week, Lindsay announced the pre-order of new book, Happy Herbivore Light & Lean. (Here other two are The Happy Herbivore Cookbook and Everyday Happy Herbivore. I’m a big fan of all of Lindsay’s cookbooks so far, and I can’t wait for the new one to come out 🙂 In the meantime, however, we can all enjoy the flavorful yet still low-fat and always vegan recipes in Happy Herbivore Abroad, which features over 135 from around the world. And, big bonus, all of the recipes are made with easy-to-find everyday ingredients!

I have to admit, I was a little reluctant to jump on the international recipe bandwagon. Even though I consider myself pretty open-minded when it comes to ingredients, the combinations of some ingredients doesn’t always appeal to me. But, page after page, this cookbook keeps sending me back to the kitchen. One of my favorite recipes so far is the “Cheater” Pad Thai. I especially love the idea for the lower calorie version replacing some (or all – like I did!) of the noodles with thinly sliced cabbage. Yum! I think this recipe would be great with zucchini noodles, too, or a mix of any veggie noodle, kelp noodle, or tofu noodle of your liking.

Here’s the original recipe (which can be found on page 179 in HHA):

“Cheater” Pad Thai

(serves 2)

1/4 lb thick rice noodles

2 TBSP low sodium soy sauce

1 TBSP smooth peanut butter

1 TBSP sweet chili sauce

1/4 tsp granulated garlic powder

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp hot sauce

3 oz bean sprouts

chopped raw peanuts (optional garnish)

lime wedge (optional garnish)

Prepare rice noodles according to package ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk 2 TBSP warm water, soy sauce, peanut butter, chili sauce, garlic powder, ginger, and hot sauce together until combined. It may appear too runny at first, but it’s not. Taste, adding more hot sauce if desired. Using tongs, toss prepared noodles with sauce until all noodles are evenly coated. Plate and top with bean sprouts. Garnish with chopped, raw peanuts and a lime wedge, if desired.

As written, each serving is less than 300 calories and has just over 4 grams of fat. But, if you’re a volume eater (like me!), you can save yourself some calories by using the Lower Calorie Pad Thai suggestion on page 179 and gobble up the whole recipe 🙂 Or, if you want more veggies in your meal, try the Vegetable Pad Thai suggestion, also on page 179. (Double the sauce and add a bag of your favorite frozen veggies to the recipe.) Delish! (Find some more suggestions for sauce uses here.)

Thanks to publishers of HHA, you have the chance to win your own copy of Happy Herbivore Abroad 🙂 Woohoo! Give-a-way time!

To enter the give-a-way,  do any (or all!) of the following:

  • Leave a comment below with your favorite low-fat or fat-free recipe tip/s and/or trick/s
  • [Administrative Edit]
  • Follow Veggie V (@veggie_v) on Twitter and post a separate comment

And, don’t forget to like Happy Herbivore on Facebook and Follow HH on Twitter, too!

The contest will be open all week, until Friday, April 12, at 11:55 p.m. EST. Good luck!

Contest open to US and Canadian residents only.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Happy Herbivore Abroad to review.