Go Vegan for Lent!

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For vegan-curious Catholic readers, just a link to a great article PETA has on their home page about the benefits of going vegan and why now is the perfect time. You may be reading this post with a blackened smudged forehead! It’s Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Not a particular joyous day… but a perfect day to begin a new journey in compassion, good health, and faith. You can even sign a pledge with me here on PETA’s website and get a free vegan starter kit.

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The Handy Vegan,
Jax

 

The Frugal Vegan?

After browsing VegNews, I’m tempted to shove out the $5 for the Plant-Based on a Budget Meal Plan by Michelle Cehn and Toni Okamoto. For about a month now, I’ve been experimenting in ways to trim down our grocery receipt but still be well-fed in a house with 3.5 mouths to feed. I really begin to loathe myself every time I need to throw out a soggy cucumber or brown carrot found way at the bottom of my fridge’s crisper drawer. I really want to reduce my waste these days and I haven’t found what works best for us yet.

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Anyone wanna try with me?

The Handy Vegan,
Jax

Vegan Chef Highlight: Jeong Kwan

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The other night Mr. V and I were tuning into Chef’s Table on Netflix, a show that I haven’t watched too much since fully transitioning to vegan. It is a beautifully cinematic view of world-renowned chefs from all over the globe. There are chefs with rags to riches stories of changing motherland cuisines to the scorn of their elders and there are quirky innovators of cuisine who make balloons and visual art with their food. Well, season 3 was added quite a while ago and I haven’t tuned in until this week and boy am I glad I did!

The first episode of the newest season is about a South Korean Monk Nun who makes vegan, organically-grown temple food that has hit the world food scene without her actually ever taking cooking classes, working in a restaurant, recording a cooking show, or writing a cookbook.

The intro to her episode ends with two lines: “I am not a chef. I am a monk.”

Netflix has masterfully given us a look into the temple at Jeong Kwan’s garden, kitchen, and lifestyle. The simplicity of Zen Buddhist temple life is so breathtaking. She calls the garden her playground, the sounds of nature an orchestra, and food a place  to share and communicate your emotions.

Every line out of Jeong Kwan’s mouth is so inspiring and spoken with such wisdom. She is at such peace. This is so appealing to me as a busy L.A. mommy. I am in love with the idea of a simpler life sometimes. Not having to deal with 45 minutes of traffic to travel less than 15 miles. I crave more nature around me than the park for one hour, every other day with my son. I’m tired of the clutter and the noise! I’m not even in the big city! I’m a San Fernando Valley girl!

The first dish you see her prepare is pickled lotus root three ways and the lotus is my vegan spirit-flower! Kinda like spirit animal but flower, symbolizing transformation from muddy waters toward the sunlight.

She has lit a fire in me about vegan cooking, organic farming, compassion for all, respect and mindfulness, and simplicity. It was truly an enlightening experience to peer into Jeong Kwan’s life. I really can’t put it much better than Netflix or the New York Times.

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(All photos from Jeong Kwan, the Philosopher Chef by Jeff Gordinier in the NY Times)

So please, watch it, read about her, and comment back how she made you feel!

The Handy Vegan,
Jax

Upcoming Posts

I am a major work in progress. I’m not finished and won’t ever be done improving myself.

With that said, I didn’t think I’d feel comfortable posting about my personal vegan and health journey until I hit my goal weight, or past at least 5 years being vegan, or blah blah blah. I’m getting enough questions about my own journey that I feel it’s time to share.

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There’s no time like the present, or in this case next week! I will be sharing my personal vegan and health journey with you very, very soon. Thank you for reading!

The Handy Vegan,
Jax

Quick Post: Vegan Target Finds!

I thought I’d report a few vegan finds from Target on my last shopping adventure.

Silk started to produce almond, dairy-free yogurt alternatives. They are tasty and labelled vegan. I topped my dark chocolate coconut with cashews and toasted coconut chips tonight. So good! Vegan yogurt tends to be pricey for me and I don’t usually buy yogurt as much these days. But thought I’d report in!

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OCHO coconut candy bars are so yummy! They have the certified vegan seal and are ocho-so-tasty! They also come in peanut butter flavored but this flavor has milk chocolate and isn’t vegan, so beware!

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I plan to do a full ‘Vegan at Target’ post ala VegNews and  PETA of my local Target in the near future. Stay tuned friends!

The Handy Vegan,
Jax

Produce Delivery Review – Farm Fresh to You

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I’ve been trying to find a produce co-op and trying to research co-ops in general the last couple months. I really want to live more communally and intentionally. I have been offered Blue Apron by my sister-in-law and plan to try it in the near future. I came across Farm Fresh to You after Green Saturday L.A. and decided to let my family try it out.

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Farm Fresh lets you pick from six different options of boxes in regular and large sizes: fruit only, mixed fruit and veggie, no cooking, organic snack pack, traditional CSA, and veggie only. You can also customize your box by removing and adding items for the next delivery and even put items in the ‘Never Send’ or ‘Recurring Items’ lists. Deliveries are made every 1-4 weeks based on your selection between 8 pm- 8 am to keep the produce fresh.

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We are barely on our second week and we are enjoying the different vegetables and fruits that have been coming into our kitchen. I can’t really find organic Romanesco Broccoli or Rainbow Chard at Ralphs. The pieces are beautiful and very fresh. My rainbow carrots came with actual soft, wet mud on the stems last week!

I’m still torn about promoting this particular company of produce delivery because they do offer dairy products from other farms. It’s a new development that I wasn’t aware of when I ordered. I may still continue trying for at least two more weeks without altering the box and by keeping my regular grocery store produce purchases to a minimum just to practice having a smaller produce list. But I’m very torn about this and looking for other suggestions of produce services from locally sourced, organic farms. I’m not very interested in recipe and ingredient services like Blue Apron and Purple Carrot at the moment. But will be open to trying in the future.

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Got any services you suggest? I’m also looking into Farmers Markets. Got a favorite market you shop? Comment me your suggestions and thanks for reading!

The Handy Vegan,
Jax

Restaurant Review – Groundwork Coffee & Co.

Hello Herbivores! Took a bit of a family break there to go out and live a little life so I have more to blog about!

Don’t forget to check out our Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook accounts too and show a little love for my baby vegan blog here. Thanks and … resuming post.

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Last Sunday, a friend of mine invited me out to Groundwork in North Hollywood near the Metro Station. This is an omnivore menu with a few vegan options – 99:1 in support of omnivores. I needed the challenge and did my menu research and decided to attend this outing. They do offer organic teas and single origin coffee and have a Community Outreach page on their website which is a nod towards social and environmental awareness. Thumbs up there!

The place is a little tough to find and even tougher to figure out where to park because it’s really more for someone about to board a Metro train. After figuring it out, the cafe has beautiful antique wood everywhere and a natural feel in terms of decor. They also have a varied hot and cold drink menu from Mexican Mocha and Vietnamese Iced Coffee to classic Iced Chai and several tea options. They offer their own brand of coffee beans and teas in simple but pretty packaging. Service was quick and friendly and the shop was tidy enough. I did have a problem with how uneven the wooden floorboards were, especially for a place that serves drinks. A little TOO antique for me!

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My REAL agenda was to try the Vegan Affogato (hot espresso + ice cream) – of course when I get there they are out of vegan ice cream. They had two vegan menu options, and I didn’t bother to ask about if other orders could be made vegan. It was two orders of basically the same thing – either a tofu scramble burrito or taco with a side salad. Happily they had alternative milks beside their organic dairy; almond, hemp, soy, and house-made cashew milk. I find burritos tidier than tacos so I ordered that and a delicious Mexican Hot Chocolate with Hemp Milk. (Hemp milk is my son’s favorite!)

My hot chocolate was delicious. It was packed with different, complex tastes and spices. It also wasn’t too sweet as some hot chocolates tend to be. The hemp milk and alt-milk options were great to see. The burrito was okay. Again, most places serve up a burrito with veggies just to shut up the vegans and vegetarians. Not too impressed there.

My omnivore friend enjoyed her Umami Bowl and Iced Mango Tea very much. So great place to bring your omni-pals!

Inspite of it’s vegan shortcomings, I would still keep this place on my list for a coffee spot. I do still have to try the affogato after all! It’s also a lamb’s ear away from my house so convenience is great. Good conversation and a cup of coffee made my afternoon that day. Thanks to my friend Gerry for the invite and Groundwork Coffee!  

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(Above: I gave this milk bottle dirty looks.)

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The Handy Vegan,
Jax

Green Saturday L.A. Recap

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Hello herbivores! Last Saturday I had the opportunity to bring my family to the Green Saturday L.A. event in Torrance at the Steinhaus restaurant in Alpine Village. It’s the quaint little smorgasbord of German shops selling cute kitschy Christmas ornaments, babushkas, and other trinkets. I was so excited about it that my family arrived early. We watched the vendors bring their bins, banners, and other booth items into the event.

For starters, entry was a donation to the Whiskers and Tails Foundation. They had some adorable blue-eyed kitties and sweet mutts outside of the festival. I received a grab bag of all kinds of coupons for vegan snack items when I paid for entry too. It was a bit dark inside but the place was loaded with so many different vegan vendors. There were artists, clothing and accessories, beauty products, more vegan food than I have stomachs for — unless I were a cow! It was glorious! This was my first vegan event and I was beyond excited to be there. I was able to meet so many kind individuals who were perpetuating a cruelty-free lifestyle.

For links to my favorites of that day go to my IG account and find the vendors from my slideshow down there! Awesome, awesome group of highly talented folks. 

There were some phenomenal vendors at this event. I hope to see them again at the Vegan Street Fair on March 26th! What a great experience for my very first vegan event! I’m inspired by all of you.

The Handy Vegan,
Jax

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This Saturday is Green Saturday in Torrance!

Oops, so I missed an event this Saturday! Planning on making it though it’s a pinch on our family schedule. 

2/11 – Green Saturday LA, Torrance – $5 or dog/cat food or toy donation – Website | Tickets

Featuring: Cruelty-free gifts, vegan food & snacks, conscious clothing, companion animal accessories, jewelry, arts, crafts, and more. 

*A portion of proceeds will be donated to the Whiskers and Tails Foundation