Wednesday, November 30, 2016

List of 2017 Vegan Festivals (VegFests)

Image result for tri state vegfest vendors

I know there are several lists out there already, but of the ones I've found, a lot of the links don't work.  Or they're links to old last year old.  I'm basing this off of my 2016 list and assuming they'll have another one this year.  If not, I'll delete and update as the year goes on.

Most of these VegFests are FREE!

Most events that are selling tickets are offering discounted tickets if bought in advance. I'll do my best to post ticket prices as well as event dates and locations.

Can you believe they're already listing VegFests for 2017? 

If I missed something, feel free to shoot me a comment and let me know!

  • n/a
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District of Colombia

  • n/a
  • n/a
  • n/a
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  • n/a
  • n/a
New Hampshire
  • NH VegFest - Manchester Community College, April 22, 2017
New Jersey
  • Tri-State VegFest - June 17, 2017, $15 Tickets, NJ Convention & Expo Center, Edison (I already bought our tickets!) (Check for specials on Groupon)
  • VegStock Sept. 9, 2017, Millville, NJ
  • NJ VegFest - Oct. 7-8, 2017, Meadowlands Expo Center, up to $35 per Ticket (I begrudgingly bought tickets, $35 for an adult ticket is expensive!  But, it's local and while I still have to pay tolls to get there, I don't have to drive 3 hours like I do for most other VegFests.  For this price, it better be astronomically better than the other VegFests we go to...just saying.)
New Mexico
New York
 North Carolina
North Dakota
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  • Pittsburgh Vegan Festival - May 6, 2017, 12-7, $5 adults, kids free
  • Bethlehem VegFest - Aug. 26, 2017
  • Erie VegFest - TBD
  • Philly SEED Fest - August 13, 2017
  • Philadelphia VegFest - As per their Facebook page, "Plans for a 2017 VegFest have been postponed due to the death of one of the organizing partners. Prudently, we have taken a step back to focus on team-building and development of the organization so that we may move forward with the needed resources to properly facilitate the return of Philadelphia VegFest. Updates will be provided as we progress and notice will be given far in advance of the next scheduled VegFest so vendors may plan accordingly. We, like you, have missed Philadelphia VegFest and are dedicated to its proper return."
  • Scranton VegFest - August 13, 2017
  • Lancaster VegFest - June 3, 2017
  • NEPA Vegfest - Sept 16, 2017, Scranton, PA
Rhode Island
  • n/a
South Carolina
South Dakota
  • n/a
  • SLC VegFest - Sept. 9, 2017 (not on their site, but on their Facebook page as a response to a comment.)
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West Virginia
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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Easy Homemade Vegan Butter

This recipe is based off of Miyoko Schinner's vegan butter recipe from her amazing book, The Homemade Vegan Pantry.  If you don't own it, you should.

Yes, you can buy vegan butter.  Every grocery store I've been to carries at least one vegan butter.  Apparently, not true in Kuwait, as per my ex-military friend Mike, who is still there now.  So this recipe is for him.  The whole process takes me less than five minutes from start to finish.

I don't have a mini blender, so I use mason jars with my old Osterizer blender.  
Use a pint-sized one with the ounce markings on the side.

Add 3/4 cup of coconut oil.

Add 1/4 cup of non-dairy milk.

Add 1/8 of a cup of a neutral oil like canola or grapeseed.

Add 1 teaspoon of liquid soy lecithin.  

(I bought this huge bottle at the Vitamin Shoppe for $10. If you don't have one near you, you can order it on Amazon.  It's not just an emulsifier, it's also good for you. As per WedMD, "lecithin is used for treating memory disorders such as dementia...It is also used for treating gallbladder disease, liver disease, certain types of depression, high cholesterol, anxiety...[and] eczema.")

Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  

(I would use more if you want it to taste more like commercially made butter, but if you're going to use it for baking, then keep it to 1/2 teaspoon or less.)

If you want it to taste more like movie theater butter, add McCormick Butter Flavor.  It is vegan.  I don't normally add it, but if I am popping popcorn, I'll add it for that extra buttery kick.

Once everything is in the jar, blend away.

Once the lecithin is mixed in, it will look less orange, and more like a soft yellow.
I set my blender to "whip" and let it run for 60 seconds.

If you want it more yellow in color, add a pinch of turmeric.  I don't, but you can.

And voila!  Vegan butter.  

If I'm making mash potatoes or anything that involves melted butter, 
I'll just whip up a batch and use it right away.

Otherwise, I make tablespoon squares of butter using a silicone mold.  I think I picked up this mold at Bed, Bath & Beyond, but they're also on Amazon.  Sometimes this recipe fills it perfectly, sometimes it's a little less, sometimes it's a little more.  It all depends on how aerated it gets in the blender.  

Leave it in the refrigerator until they solidify then pop them out and store them in a container.

Why vegan butter?  Because dairy is bad for you.  Dairy is bad for cows and their babies.  And for anyone who thinks they're lactose intolerant, you're not.  You're just not a baby cow.  Stop buying into the bs of the dairy industry.  Most of the information about dairy being good for you comes from studies put out by the dairy industry!  Read real studies.  Do your own research.  The evidence is overwhelming.  Ditch dairy.  Lecture over.  Sorry, I can't help myself.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Vegan Mac n' Cheese

I have a friend, Pam.  I've known her for what feels like five million years.  She writes an amazing blog called The Mental Confessional and posts equally amazing photos on Instagram.

If you know Pam, you'd know she has these amazing sparkling eyes and the most contagious laugh.  You'd never know that Pam suffers from bipolar disorder and postpartum depression.  I know from her blog posts, that there are times that feel really dark to her.  But I also know, that through her writing she has become a beacon of light amidst the darkness for others with her honest and heartfelt writing.  I am proud of her every day for working hard at advocating for others, for trying to manage her illness and for always being the best mom to her boys.

So what does vegan mac n' cheese have to do with mental illness?  Well, dairy has been linked to depression, bipolar disorder, cancer, and even dementia.  Pam has taken steps to cut out some meat from her diet (see, I can be a good influence!) but I would love for her to stop with the dairy, especially if there's a chance it's a part of what's making her feel crappy.  So in honor of my dear inspirational friend Pam, I'd like to offer her my favorite vegan mac n' cheese recipe.  This cheese sauce is amazing.  We use it on chips, over baked potatoes, and it will be the sauce I use to make the Hubby's favorite broccoli cheese casserole with Ritz cracker topping for Thanksgiving.

I hope you try it and like it as much as we do.

All you need is pasta (obviously) potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, cashews, water, butter, lemon, mustard, salt and pepper.  Now, don't go calling shenanigans already.  I promise you, this will all come together into a cheese sauce thanks to some vegan magic!

After you boil the veggies and nuts, dump it all in the blender with the rest of the ingredients.  Don't strain the veggies and nuts, add that water too.

You wind up with this amazingly, warm, lucious, thick, creamy cheese sauce.

Pour it onto your cooked pasta.


Ta da!  Vegan Mac n' Cheese!

I did not come up with this recipe all by myself.  I took my inspiration from VegNews Vegan Macaroni & Cheese.  When I found this recipe, it was life changing!  I made a few changes in the ingredients and cooking directions, but I'd still recommend checking their version out.  I'd also consider subscribing to their magazine.  I do and I love it!  We use this cheese sauce for all sorts of things.  Once refrigerated, it becomes spreadable.


1 pound of cooked elbow macaroni

2 cups of water
2 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 cup carrots, peeled and diced
2/3 cup onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of cashews

3-4 tsp of salt (I use kosher, but use what you like)
5 TBS of vegan butter (I use homemade, but use what you like)
1/2 tsp mustard (whatever you have will be fine)
2 TBS lemon juice (fresh or from a bottle)
black pepper to taste (I crank my pepper grinder 10-20 times)
1/2 tsp paprika

  1. Take a medium sized pot (if it's too big, the water won't cover the vegetables) and put in the water, potatoes, carrots, onions, and cashews.
  2. Bring it to a boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Put into your blender, the salt, butter, mustard, lemon juice, pepper and paprika.  Add the cooked vegetables along with the cooking water to the blender.
  4. Blend until smooth.  I have a high-speed blender, but I can't imagine this would be hard to do in a regular blender.  Just try it.
  5. Dump in onto your macaroni and stir.  I add peas for color, but since your sauce is all vegetables, you don't really have to feel bad for eating a big bowl of pasta.
  •       NOTE:  The measurements of the potatoes, carrots and onions are not exact.  I often add more or less depending on how many I peeled.  So if you have 2 1/2 cups of potatoes or 3/4 cups of carrots, don't freak out.  It's not a big deal.  But do try to dice the potatoes and carrots the same-ish size so they cook at the same rate.  Also, I buy roasted cashews because they're cheaper, and have noticed no difference in taste.
  •       DISCLAIMER: This does not taste like Kraft Mac n' Cheese.  Because nostalgia makes that crap taste good, not your actual taste buds.  This tastes more like real mac n' cheese.  The kind where you make a roux and then add milk and freshly grated cheddar.  I say freshly grated, because no one should buy pregrated as it has wood pulp.  Yuck.  Just saying...

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Vegan Product Review: Beyond Meat The Beyond Burger

I finally managed to pick up a package of Beyond Meat The Beyond Burger.  My local Whole Foods in Marlboro, NJ did not have them, because they suck and have a super limited amount of vegan products unlike the Whole Foods in Cherry Hill, Princeton, or even out in Philly.  Do I sound annoyed by that?  Yes, just a little.

They're packed like a standard beef burger.

Here's a close up.  They look real, right?

I used a little coconut oil, but it didn't need it.  It leached out a lot of its own oil.

Wowza, does it smell like I'm cooking a regular beef burger.  Don't know that I like that, but if you were an omnivore, that's probably a good thing. After a few minutes, flip them over.

And voila!  A meatless burger that tastes like meat.  (Served with Alexa onion rings.)

Does it Taste Like Meat?:  It really does taste like meat.  From the look to the smell to the texture. Now, if you ate this alongside a beef burger, you wouldn't have a hard time figuring out which was which.  But if you needed a burger option that's not a veggie burger, but won't contribute to you having a heart attack, then this is the way to go.
Will Meat-Eaters Eat it?:  Absolutely.  I think it's smart that this product is being marketed for meat eaters.  Even if they don't want to go vegan, for people with high cholesterol or other health issues, this is an easy swap for something they already eat. 

Is it Healthier for You?:  Clearly, it is.  For the record, to the people who say, you shouldn't eat things with ingredients you can't pronounce....there are no weird ingredients in here.  If you look at the list of drugs pumped into cattle, and the weird crap they use to preserve that meat...I'm sure you can't pronounce much of that.  Furthermore, if you're eating fast food burgers, then please, go educate yourself a bit on what they're putting in those. They're barely meat.  That's not a laughing matter, it's a disgusting level of filler and grossness because they know they're consumers will eat anything they put in there, no matter how bad.  You should want better.  You should demand better.

Image result for beyond burger vs beef burger

Would I Buy It Again?:  My husband and daughter liked them a lot, but it's not for me.  The whole time I was eating it, my brain was spinning out of control, like this internal barrage of lights and sirens, screaming, "Danger Will Robinson! Danger!"  My brain just couldn't reconcile the fact that even though I knew it was plant based, it just didn't taste plant based and that weirded me out.  I'm going to keep buying myself veggie burgers, but I'll pick these up for my family on special occasions. I think burgers like this are going to be the wave of the future.  I'd imagine it's significantly cheaper to produce this plant-based burger, than it is to raise cattle and kill it.  Fingers crossed. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Don't Eat a Turkey (YUCK), Sponsor One Instead!

If you wouldn't eat a puppy, why would you eat a turkey?  Much like puppies, they are sweet, curious, like to snuggle and all have their own personalities.  No one really likes eating turkey anyway.  It's the gravy.  It's the sides.  Be honest, almost your whole plate is covered with sides.  And for those of us who have not bought into the lameass marketing ploy of the dairy and pork industry, we know everything is not better with butter or bacon.  Plus, there are easy substitutions for everything that are healthier, cruelty-free and doesn't leave you feeling like crap afterward.

Thanksgiving is really a very vegan holiday, people just don't realize that.  The sides are the best part and they're all veggies!

What do you eat in place of turkey?  Easy, go pick up a vegan roast from Trader Joe's for $9.99, that's what I buy.  Or try your local grocery store, we have a slew of vegan holiday roasts available here in Jersey, from Gardein's basic stuffing filled roll one to by Vegetarian Plus that looks like a turkey!  And of course the old school Tofurky.  The internet is full of DIY vegan roasts, but I'm happy to buy one of these.  Don't feel like cooking at all? Get an prepared Vegan Dinner from Whole Foods! 

No turkey, means more room for pie!

We sponsored turkeys at Farm Sanctuary and at the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary.
Start a new tradition of your own, and sponsor a turkey this year!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Where Can You Buy Non-GMO Corn?

You can buy non-GMO canned corn at Trader Joe's.  It's not listed as non-GMO on the can, but it is on their site.  They are also not non-GMO verified, but I am hopeful that they are telling the truth because I miss eating corn.  I think they only have this out around the holidays, so don't wait to pick them up.  I bought...I forgot...ten maybe twenty cans.  Thank goodness for pantry cabinets.  It's my favorite vegetable side at Thanksgiving. I know boring, but whatever.

As per their site: 

"Trader Joe's Whole Kernel Canned Corn contains only the finest, non-genetically modified, Midwest-grown, whole kernel supersweet corn, a unique variety that is naturally crisp and sweet. We never add sugar or any artificial ingredients or preservatives. And we work closely with longtime suppliers to negotiate great prices, which we hold as long as possible (not the easiest feat for such a fickle commodity). First introduced in 1982, our iconic yellow can of corn has become a beloved Trader Joe's tradition. And we all know that traditions are right at home at the Thanksgiving table. We're selling each 15.25 ounce can for 89¢."

You can read about their food labeling policies on their Product Information page.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

I'm Brewing Kombucha!

I have been waxing poetic about brewing kombucha forever.  This stuff is expensive as all get out, and you all know how cheap I am.  I used to brew ginger beer, but I fell out of the habit.  I felt like maybe this would be easier to maintain.  Yet, I continued to hem and haw for three reasons:

1.  Do I really want to add another thing to my already too long to-do list?
2.  It sounds like it can be labor intensive and possibly require special equipment, do I want to put that time and money into something that may not work?
3.  Will a $25 SCOBY really work better than $5 one you can buy on Craigslist?

As it turns out, my concerns were unfounded.

1.  It only adds a minimal amount of time to my to-do list.
2.  It's not any more labor intensive than to make a pot of tea.
3.  If you're going to do it, spend the extra.  The more expensive SCOBY is worth it.

Why did I decide on the more expensive SCOBY?  My husband's work friend bought a $5 Craigslist SCOBY and it was moldy within days.  So, I bit the bullet and bought the SCOBY from Kombucha Kamp which had the best reviews everywhere.  It's fresh, not dehydrated, full-sized, and raised on an organic, fair trade diet.  I thought, for the one-time investment, just buy the good one.  (FYI This is not a sponsored post, but there are affiliate links in this post.  I did my research, and it seemed the Kombucha Kamp sells the most fail-proof SCOBY you can buy.)

As you can see, it's a fairly large, thick, very healthy-looking SCOBY.

They even included a cotton muslin reusable tea bag and a small bag of Hannah's Special Premium 5 tea blend.  It is enough to start your first one gallon batch of Kombucha.  That was a nice surprise!
(Sorry for the blurry picture)

This is not a sponsored post, but I'm so happy with my SCOBY and resulting kombucha that I'm happy to post a picture of their business card and link them up.  Hannah Crum, a.k.a. Kombucha Mamma, is very well-known in the Kombucha brewing community, so I went ahead and bought her book too, The Big Book of Kombucha: Brewing, Flavoring, and Enjoying the Health Benefits of Fermented Tea.  I've gone back to it over and over to make sure I was doing things right.  Yes, there's the internet, but I felt like there was more in depth information in the book.  As a novice to kombucha brewing, the pictures are very helpful to determine if your SCOBY is healthy or growing mold.  I would highly recommend this book if you're going to start brewing kombucha.

I got an amazing deal on this New Wave Enviro blue-striped porcelain 2 1/2 gallon vessel from Puritan's Pride, but it is also on Amazon.  I wasn't initially planning on doing a continuous brew, but the more I read, the more it made sense.  Plus, I didn't like the idea of trying to handle gallon or half gallon jars of kombucha.  I knew I wanted to do a second fermentation with fruit, and I felt like this would be the easiest way to fill up the bottles.

The whole process couldn't be easier.  To start your continuous brew, boil a quart of water.

Steep six bags of tea (I use Prince of Peace Organic Tea, Oolong, 100 Tea Bags.  I am impressed with this companies dedication to helping orphans and people in need.).  You can buy them online, but I found them at my local Asian store for $1.99 for a box of 20.

Add 1 cup of sugar.  I use pure evaporated cane juice sugar because it's vegan.

Add the tea to your vessel with 3 more quarts of filtered water, for a total of 1 gallon of liquid.
(I did feel like the liquid was too cool, and in later batches, boiled more water so the finished product was a little warmer than room temperature.)

Add your SCOBY.

I know, it looks bizarre.

Then I covered the top with a random piece of t-shirt square I happened to find when I did my laundry.  No clue where it came from, but obviously it was kismet.  Do not use cheesecloth unless you want to invite a party of fruit flies to your kombucha brewing.  Then I topped it with the ring that came with the vessel.  The sweater is another kismet find.  It's some sort of neck cover my mother knitted.  I randomly found it as I was cleaning, and it turned out to be the perfect size for the vessel.

My kitchen is on the colder side, so I moved the vessel to a TV table next the nightstand in my bedroom.  It's right over my heating vent.  Since I keep my house in the low 70's, it seems to be keeping my SCOBY happy and warm because it's been surviving so far (knock on wood).  If it seems extra cold, I wrap it in a blanket.  The whole thing looks a little bizarre, but whatever.  It works.

Is it weird to keep it in my bedroom?  I thought so until I read a story from Kombucha Revolution by Kombucha Wonder Drink founder Stephen Lee.  He was in St. Petersburg visiting a friend, when he discovered the magic of kombucha, "There, on the nightstand next to Mrs. Lisovski's bed, was a one-gallon jug of brownish liquid with cheesecloth stretched over the top.  I felt ridiculously guilty peering into the bedroom of an eighty-year-old woman, but I couldn't resist taking a closer look at that jar.  Straining my eyes in the dim light, I saw something really odd.  There was a pancake-sized gelatinous blob floating on top of the fluid.  When I returned to the kitchen, I admitted to Peter that I had looked into his mother's bedroom, and then rather sheepishly asked what was in the glass jar.  He laughed and then reached into the refrigerator.  He pulled out a pitcher and poured us both a glass.  'It's kombucha.  My mother calls it mushroom tea,' he told me."  Mrs. Lisovski had inherited her SCOBY from her great aunt from Serbia back in 1939.

My thought was, if this woman, who apparently survived a litany of stressful events with a never-dampening positive outlook in life, brewed her kombucha next to her on a nightstand, then why the heck shouldn't I?  So far I'm still working through the kinks of getting a fizzy second carbonation.  Once I get the hang of it, I'll post more about my adventures in brewing.