Vida Vegan Tech Seminar Series + Giveaway

As I mentioned here a few months back, Helen of Vegtastic! and I will be presenting a class at the inaugural Vida Vegan Tech Seminar Series (a part of Vida Vegan Con) happening Saturday, Nov. 3 at the beautiful downtown Seattle library.  And we’re quite pumped about it.

Our class is titled “Next-Level Social Media.” We’ll discuss how to cultivate your blog’s identity, to establish community, and we’ll breakdown a few emerging networks and give advice on how to stay on top of social media trends and decide whether or not they’re best for you and your blog. We’re also allotting a good amount of Q&A time.

This is the stuff I LOVE to talk about, geek out on and constantly learn more about. Helen and I are excited to present, and I think that all of the panels will be incredibly valuable. Check out the rundown of all the classes. Together, they all dive deeper into advanced aspects of social media and blogging, and will equip attendees with skills that can immediately be integrated into their blogs.

I am personally amped for the podcasting and video classes, as those are two things I want to delve into more in the future.

The class size is limited to 50 people, which is great in terms of everyone who registers being guaranteed a seat and having it feel more like a class and less like a con. But that also means that this event is going to sell out fast and if you’re not quick, you might be the left behind in a cloud of Myspace and Friendster dust.

The Vida Vegan Tech Seminar Series planners and I don’t want that to happen to you, and they generously gave me a ticket to give away to one lucky reader! Digital media is up there with veganism on my list of things I’m impassioned about and I know Helen feels the exact same way. We’d love to have a reader attend the seminar to learn more about these topics, and this is a way that you can attend (and get a delicious lunch from Veggie Grill!) for free.

To enter the contest, leave a comment below about the one tech-related topic you’d like to learn about most at the Tech Seminar Series. It could be ours (flattery will get you everywhere…but won’t guarantee your win) or maybe you too want to podcast one day. Or maybe you really want to learn some CSS. Whatever it is, let me know! I’ll pick a comment number at random on Wednesday, September 26th at noon, PST, and that individual will be the winner. I’ll also email you, in case you’re actually eating lunch or something. Non-vegans and non-Seattleites are also eligible to enter, too.

I hope to see you many of you there!

PS: Helen is also giving away a ticket to the Tech Seminar Series on her blog. Hop on over and enter there to double your chances of winning!

Homemade Tempeh Chili Tales + My Sweet Vegan Giveaway Winner

Do you guys also get an idea for a meal stuck in your head for days that just doesn’t seem to go away until you make and devour it? If not, maybe I’m just strange. But this weekend I got the idea in my head that I HAD to make some homemade chili.

See, chili’s something I usually make from a can, (cue Trader Joe’s stellar vegetarian canned chili – a lazy dinner staple of mine since college). I’m generally fine with that, but for some reason I was craving a rich, thick and chunky-style chili that cans just can’t provide. So I started researching.

I’ve never really found a great chili recipe, which could probably explain why I’ve only made one homemade batch of (vegan) chili in my life. And it wasn’t that great. So I took to the Internet and asked on the VM FB page about any great recipes people knew of. My friend Roxanne told me that she had a great tempeh chili recipe that she wanted to send me, and though there were some great ideas posted (that I will try in the future!) I knew right away that it was going to be the winner. I’ve been on a major tempeh kick since we made the scramble this weekend, and since I’ve seen a lot of other creative/enticing looking uses for it on the blogs this week.

Roxanne informed me that the recipe came out of the book David’s Pure Vegetarian Kitchen. David appears to be from Portland, but I know he’s taught cooking classes here in Tacoma in the past. I think it’s awesome that I made a chili from a friendly-looking NW vegan dude. And guess what? My friend wasn’t kidding around – the chili was fantastic! I was skeptical of a few things (adding salsa into a recipe for anything other than chips and salsa always makes me wary), but the spice level was kicking and the depth of flavor and various textures that came from the tempeh, two kinds of beans, carrots and tomatoes were exactly what I was looking for.We served it over brown rice and I added some Mozzarella Daiya and some crumbled tortilla chips on top. We have lots of leftovers.

I can’t say I’m a complete convert, because I will still rely on the ease and convenience that is my beloved canned chili (when strapped for time or getting home after a long day’s work/workout/meetings/etc.), but I will say that I am going to stretch myself more in the future and try new chili recipes more often than once every four years. That’s a claim I can back.

And now for the winner of the My Sweet Vegan cookbook giveaway!

The randomly generated winner is: Melody! Melody’s choice of baked goods to give to her non-vegan friends?

“I love vegan chocolate chip cookies :)

Me too, girl! They win over the hearts of omnis every time. Congrats! Check your email soon.

Thanks everyone for entering, and be on the lookout for another giveaway in the near future!

Nut Case Cookies + My Sweet Vegan cookbook giveaway

After reading everyone’s MoFo posts and reveling in the fall weather we’ve had this week, I knew I felt like baking last night. Sometimes I bake to de-stress (a tactic I picked up in high school, that got me through college and that I still use today) and sometimes I do it out of sheer pleasure, which was the case last night. I’m someone who grew up baking way before I learned to cook, so I feel like that’s where my true strength lies. I have so many memories of helping my mom bake about 10 different types of cookies and baked goods for the holidays, and I feel like my love of baking has only gotten stronger since I went vegan.

I couldn’t really pinpoint what I wanted to bake last night, (I’ve been using a LOT of pumpkin) so I scanned my cookbook shelf and came across Hannah Kaminsky’s My Sweet Vegan. I’ve been reading Hannah’s beautiful blog Bittersweet for years, and have always been amazed at all the gorgeous, creative and delicious desserts and foods she thinks up. I know her creations are delicious because I bought her book soon after it came out, and have used it to create goods for so many parties and potlucks over the years.

I came across her recipe for Nut Case Cookies, and it immediately jumped out at me, (mostly because of the awesome pun). It’s one of her recipes that I hadn’t tried yet, and it seemed incredibly customizable. Desiring something a little less sweet but still dessert, I sought out my ingredients.

The recipe urges the baker to use whatever nuts they had on hand, and I appreciated that. Usually I’ll make do with what I have anyway, but I like being told that trading out ingredients won’t totally screw up a recipe. In lieu of the suggested almonds and pistachios with cashews, I subbed in walnuts and pecans.

Whenever a recipe asks me to put ingredients into a stand mixer, I laugh, because I haven’t used one since I left for college. I’m holding out for a KitchenAid, but until then, I beat my butter and sugar by hand, (it’s possible people, but a definite arm workout).

Added the nuts, and dropped onto the cookie sheet.

This guy was excited for cookies, too. He was a little bummed when I informed him that cats can’t eat cookies.

And success! The recipe yielded 3 dozen cookies, but the boyfriend has already decreased that number significantly. The cookies came out perfectly: soft, buttery and rich. I had a few more today as an afternoon snack.

Don’t you just want to reach through your screen and grab one right now? I don’t blame you, so I’m giving a copy of the cookbook away!

I bought my copy of My Sweet Vegan at Herbivore on a trip to Portland one year and it came signed, (sweet, huh?). But at Vida Vegan Con, I was also lucky to receive another copy in my swag bag. As soon as I saw it, I knew I’d definitely have to have a giveaway for it on the blog as it’s one of my favorites. I also met and had breakfast with Hannah and her lovely mom the Sunday of VVC, and I can affirm that she’s just as sweet in person as you’d ever imagine.

For a chance to win a copy of My Sweet Vegan, leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite vegan baked item to give to your non-vegan friends is. If you linkback to this post on your own blog or follow me on Twitter (@veganmoxie) and tweet about it, you’ll get extra entries to win.

You can enter by any of these methods until Thursday, Oct. 20 at 9 p.m. PST. This contest is open to anyone, anywhere! I’ll pick a winner at random and announce it here on that day/time. Good luck, baked good lovers!

Forks Over Knives review, giveaway + vegan inspiration

Rooted in science, figures and replete with information gained from decades long health studies in various countries, “Forks Over Knives” isn’t a movie that people can argue with about facts. With interviews from T. Colin Campbell, Cornell University Nutrition professor and co-author of “The China Study,” Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, former surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic and author of “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease,” the film zeros in the work of these two men who believe that nutrition – not the next set of new and improved disease medications – is what can help rid America and other developing countries of their crippling diseases of affluence.

The fact that most American adults do not realize how awful their health is should come as no surprise to anyone. Most schools don’t require students to take nutrition courses to graduate, and medical schools require only one nutrition class (taken in the first year of doctorate programs) as part of their curriculum. With fast food restaurants on every corner, food deserts in many cities and neighborhoods and the educational aspect of what is actually necessary in the human diet being provided to the public by the USDA (a government organization funded by agricultural business subsidies), people are not only inundated daily by food they are told is delicious, they’re also told it’s healthy for them, too. This confusion leads to allowance for certain foods in the diet by adults and parents to their children. What can be done to change this vicious cycle of eating nutritionally-deficient food and the onset of rampant illnesses in us and in our loved ones?

The answer is repeated often and rings clearly in “Forks Over Knives”: diets that are composed of solely whole, plant-based foods and that are void of animal products.

Interspersed among Campbell’s and Esselstyn’s interviews are the stories of three very sick individuals, one with a list of 20-some ailments, ranging from shortness of breath, to fatigue to depression. Each, under the supervision and care of their doctors, take on the challenge of eating a vegan diet for months and each sees great improvements in their diseases and in their overall dispositions towards life. You may wonder, if we know all of this and some doctors are prescribing this form of treatment rather than medications and/or giving in to eventual death (as one doctor told an individual in the film to do as a result of her heart conditions), why don’t all doctors prescribe this alternative?

T. Colin Campbell (left) with Dr. Junshi Chen, Senior Research Professor at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Beijing. Photo courtesy: “Forks Over Knives.”

It’s because agribusiness control the lobbyists in Washington, which give funding to universities where your doctors study. They also subsidize the USDA, which chooses which kinds of foods your kids and family eat and who decides what the food pyramid should be filled with.

This is one of many reasons why I urge you to see this film, take a friend, take your family, and basically anyone that you love and care about. Sometimes you can talk to a person until you’re blue in the face about health or ways that people can change habits for the better and it won’t sink in. But then there are other times watching films and hearing other individuals (especially scientists and doctors) affirm the same may get those people to listen again, and perhaps try a different approach. This is what I feel is going to be the end result for some watching “Forks Over Knives.”

For those who have not read the book “The China Study,” (in your defense, it is dense and quite mammoth, but still worth it), “Forks Over Knives” successfully compiles much of the information discussed in the book into a 90 minute, entertaining (while still remaining informative) documentary. In the theater, I saw people of all ages – 20 somethings like me, young kids and older adults – in attendance. I heard people audibly reacting to what they were seeing onscreen and what they were learning, which affirmed to me that it wasn’t all vegans in the audience, and that this screening wasn’t just preaching to the choir, so to speak. People stood up and clapped at the end, and I was honestly just feeling thankful that it was made in the first place.

You’ll notice that you don’t hear the word “vegan” being mentioned much in the movie, save for  UFC fighter Mac Danzig a couple of times. Upon further contemplation, this makes sense, as the film isn’t necessarily promoting an entire vegan lifestyle (no animal products in your toiletries, cleaning supplies, clothes, etc.), but rather simply a plant-based diet, which in the end still saves tons of lives. It was nice to see a bit about the going vegan for the animals aspect of veganism portrayed in the movie with an interview of Gene Baur, founder of Farm Sanctuary. While it was a very small portion of the film, having it be discussed was appreciated.

Conclusion: Though not all vegans transitioned to the lifestyle for health, doing so still does save so many animals from slaughter every year.  Plain, simple. It’s also important for people to learn that diet IS a viable, proven alternative to medicine, because most doctors, media and the government will not be knocking you over the head with this information anytime soon. It’s up to us to do the research and spread the word, and one of the simplest ways of doing this is by telling people you know and care about to see “Forks Over Knives.”

For those who are local, I have an opportunity for you to see the film with a friend for free this Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Varsity Theater in Seattle.

A friend and animal rights/vegan activist Jennifer very generously donated a pair of tickets to be given away on the blog, and to win them you simply have to:

Leave a comment telling me why you want to see “Forks Over Knives.” That’s it, pretty simple, huh?

Note: As with all of my contests (and thus this will be the last time I mention it!) you do not have to be vegan to enter! But you do have to be local-ish as these tickets are specifically for the Varsity in the U District in Seattle.

This contest has a bit faster of a turnaround and you can enter until 9 p.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, May 18, and I’ll pick a winner at random and announce it at that time. Good luck, and I hope that even if you don’t win, you get out and see “Forks Over Knives” soon.

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And now I’ll leave you all with something that my friend Joy shared on Facebook, and that I’ve since watched and fell in love with. Marielle the Vegan Superstar is a spritely Canadian 8-year-old who decided early in her young life that she was going to adopt a vegan lifestyle. For being so young, she’s already clearly incredibly passionate and knowledgeable on the  diet, health and animal rights implications of adopting this way of life. She has four short “plays” on YouTube, but this was my favorite. Enjoy!

Update 5/18, 9:15 p.m.: And the randomly generated winner of the Forks Over Knives giveaway is…#1, Joy! Congrats, Joy! Thanks so much for entering. I’ll contact you to let you know that you’ve won. Enjoy the film and I hope your dad appreciates it!

Winner winner, chili’s for dinner

It’s Wednesday, and that means we’re halfway through the week, and the Great Seattle Vegan Chili Cook-Off happening Sunday is nearing closer.

For my first giveaway, I’m extremely pleased with all the entries, and I was happy to read that some your chilis came from random places, but most were homemade with love, (aw). Thanks all for participating, and if you aren’t the winner, I definitely suggest buying your tickets asap so that you don’t miss out on all the fun Sunday eve.

And now for the winner, (which was found via the widget at random.org, so y’all know it is random) – comment number 2, Leah!

Congratulations, Leah! Please email dawn[at]veganmoxie.com to claim your prize. I hope you and a friend enjoy yourself at the cook-off!

This is just my first giveaway, but I’ve already got a few others in the works, (including one next week) so be on the look out for those in the very near future.

 

The Great Seattle Vegan Chili Cook-Off Q&A and giveaway!

As some of you here in the South Sound may or may not have heard by now, one week from today a really rad fundraising event will be taking place in Seattle. The Inaugural Great Seattle Vegan Chili Cook-Off is a feeder fundraiser that will help Seattle hold its first ever Vegan Iron Chef competition in late 2012, in addition to helping the city compete in regional Vegan Iron Chef competitions down the line.

We here in Washington know that Seattle is teeming with both amazing vegan and vegetarian restaurants and non-vegan restaurants that are incredibly kind to our diets and lifestyles. For this reason, I feel fairly confident that all of the wonderful chefs who make these great meals and experiences possible are definitely prime and ready to show off their skills in a competitive (yet fun and supportive) local event.

The idea to hold a Vegan Iron Chef originated in Portland in June of 2010 and was started as a way to support excellent vegan cooking in the community, and to start a spark to hold similar events in other vegan communities. From the event’s website:

The vision of the Vegan Iron Chef organization is to celebrate creative culinary achievements, unite the ever-expanding vegan community, and encourage and support regional Vegan Iron Chef competitions in cities across the globe. We are a Portland-based nonprofit network utilizing an arts–entertainment platform to bring awareness and respect to the vegan lifestyle and cruelty-free cuisine.

The inaugural event was a great success and is coming back for its second installment on July 10, 2011. In the spirit of supporting fellow vegans and the Northwest vegan community, Vegan Iron Chef organizers Liz Miller, Michele Truty and the lovely Jess Scone will all be in attendance at the Great Seattle Vegan Chili Cook-Off, and will be tabling for their event as well as enjoying some fine chili. I caught up with Anika Lehde of Seattle Vegan Score to chat a bit about the chili cook-off one week out.

Vegan Moxie: What was the catalyst for deciding to hold the Great Seattle Vegan Chili Cook-Off this year?

Anike Lehde: Through writing Vegan Score and volunteering at Sidecar, I discovered how huge and diverse the vegan community is here in the NW. I wanted to do something that would bring the entire vegan community together for something fun and social plus invite lots of non-vegans too.  A Chili Cook-Off seemed like just the right type of event. Then when Derrick Hachey was inspired by Portland to put on a Vegan Iron Chef event in Seattle, I realized that a chili cook-off would be a perfect fundraising event.

VM: Tell me a little more about Vegan Iron Chef, (who, where, what, when) and why you’re helping to bring it north to Seattle.

AL: The Seattle Vegan Iron Chef will be modeled on the event in Portland with local vegan chefs competing, a live audience and then live streaming online for remote viewing parties. The event date and location are still to be determined, but the “who” is hopefully lots of folks in our area. This event will take even more volunteers than the Chili Cook-Off! There are a lot of terrible myths about vegan food and putting on an event that celebrates the fantastic vegan culinary world is a perfect fit for Seattle’s foodie scene. You can be passionate about food and flavor and cooking – and still follow your conscience. You don’t have to choose one over the other.

VM:  Will the Seattle Vegan Iron Chef event be pretty similar to the original Portland event, or will there be some intriguing changes that people who went to the first in Portland (or who have read about it) be curious to know about?

AL: The Seattle event won’t be exactly the same, namely because we don’t have quite the same environment, event space, etc., and because we have the benefit of learning from Portland on what worked best and what could be improved. At the core it will be the same, though. Amazing vegan chefs competing across multiple courses with a “mystery ingredient.”

VM:  I read your interview with Jess highlighting her (and other Portlanders’) support of the cook-off and Vegan Iron Chef, and they’re even coming! In what other ways can you foresee Seattle, Portland, (maybe even Tacoma?) converging to support each other, and maybe in ways other than events?

AL: Right now, there are already other ways that the NW is coming together, especially on the political side. It isn’t strange to see Portland Animal Defense League up here protesting with the Seattle Chapter, or folks from B.C. coming into town for fundraisers, etc. I know people road trip from Seattle up and down the coast for our NW Community. Seattle, Bellevue and Tacoma are extremely supportive with each other, sharing information via community blogs and twitter, visiting each other’s towns, and I think that the Vida Vegan Con blogger conference will give folks another great opportunity to meet and think of ways to “converge,” as you put it. Plus there are lots of opportunities to support those just interested in veganism through events and NARN’s Vegan Mentor program.

VM: Who is helping you put on the cook-off?

AL: Oh man, so many vegans and non-vegans alike! Susie Cagle (vegan cartoonist in SF http://www.thisiswhatconcernsme.com/about-susie/) designed the logo and Julia MacCracken designed the poster.  Stephanie Lefaive, Amber Tegantvoort, Mo Wyse, Julia MacCracken, and Sara Beth Russert are baking cornbread for everyone. Helen Pitlick and Derrick Hachey helped post and distribute flyers around town. Peter Keller will be DJing during the event and Shawn McClung will be the official photographer. Brittany Leimbach, Maré Odomo,  Kirby Johnson, Emily Spahn, Jeff Morrison, Simar Tate, Tyler Shannon, Michelle Shannon, (and you!) will be helping set up, take down, decorate, make signs, count votes, pick up prizes and more.

VM: What are you looking forward to most about the cook-off?

AL: The chili of course! But I also can’t wait to hang out with folks I rarely get to see, meet new people and share information about our local animal advocacy groups. (Plus, if you’ve not had the pleasure of hearing DJ Pelvis, you are in for a treat!).

VM:  Tell us about the awards/prizes the winners will receive, (we all know they’re not that important, but cred’s awesome to have!).

AL: Each will get a little assortment of goodies such as gift certificates to local vegan restaurants, music by local vegan musicians, cookbooks and even some handmade vegan pottery chili bowls. One of the winners will get a hand stamped chili spoon too!

VM:  I’ve read the list of chili contenders and their descriptions of their recipes and it seems like there will be a great variety. (Editor’s note: see all of the entries and read about the entrants here). Did you see a few trends in chili forming as the recipes came in, or do you think every recipe is a standout and holds its own?

AL: No trends. I was actually truly surprised by the variety of ingredients, spice level and inspiration for the dishes. No two chilis will be alike.

VM: Okay, that’s all my questions! Thanks for answering them, and is there anything else you’d like to let people know?

AL: Three other things to note: 1. This isn’t an event just for vegans. Everyone is invited and welcome. We encourage folks to bring their friends and family. The chili will be fabulous! It isn’t about being exclusive. 2. The event is also supported by our local animal advocacy groups: NARN, Seattle ADL, Green Vegans, Earth Residents United and Action for Animals. There will information on each of these groups so folks in our community can get to know them better and see if they want to get involved.  3. There will be beer available by donation, too!

Beer and chili are pretty much a match made in heaven. I also saw Anika today for a volunteer meeting for the event and she let me know that if you are planning to go, you should definitely get your tickets in advance! They are going fast and there is limited capacity at the venue. You do not want to miss this sweet vegan event!

Here are the deets:

Date/time: Sunday, May 15, 2011, 6-8 p.m.
Location: Mount Baker Club House, 2811 Mount Rainier Drive South, Seattle WA 98144
Cost: only $10, $7 for students, free for kids under 12. Buy your tickets here, (tickets are also available Sidecar in the U-District).

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So, you want to enjoy some chili and cornbread in good company too, huh? Well, here’s your chance to score entrance for you and a friend for free.

Anika graciously offered up two tickets to the cook-off to give away here on the blog, and all you have to do to win them is:

Leave a comment telling me about the best vegan chili you’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. Was it super spicy? Mild? Was it from a can, homemade or from a random, non-vegan restaurant that just happened to have this great vegan offering? Whatever and wherever it came from, I want to know about it! Note: You don’t have to be vegan to enter, but the chili you tell me about has to be!

You can enter until 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 10, and I’ll pick a winner at random and announce it on Wednesday morning. Good luck, and I hope to see you at the cook-off!