Thursday, June 27, 2013

Here I go Again! (A Call for Testers)

Because I absolutely don't have enough on my plate already, I've done and started writing another book. Yeah, I know Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen hasn't even been released yet!  But, if I am not crazy busy, I get myself into trouble.

What is this new book?  Well, I am taking a step back, way back, and writing a book geared specifically towards non-vegans looking to take the plunge into a plant based way of life.  I have partnered up with, food scientist and nutrition expert Gerrie Lynn Adams (You guys are really going to love her!)  and the ever amazing and wonderful Celine Steen to take the photos.

The tentatively titled,  Going Vegan, will be a guidebook on how and why you should, well, go vegan!  With chapters on nutrition, animal rights, environmentalism, and, of course, mouthwatering recipes.

A few things about this book:
  • This book is geared towards non-vegans looking to make a switch to plant based diet and lifestyle
  • There will be more text than recipes
  • The recipes will be basic, easy to create, and tasty recipes that focus on vegetables.
  • There will be very little (if any) faux products used in these recipes (ie, no store bought fake cheese or fake meat) however there will be recipes for creating home made versions of these items.
Don't worry, testing won't be that hard!
We are looking for a few testers!  You do not need to be vegan to be a tester.  In fact, this is a perfect opportunity to get friends, family, or anyone you know who has been tinkering with idea of converting to veganism, involved to show them how easy and delicious vegan food can be!

How does the testing process work?  We will post a recipe.  You make the recipe, and post your feedback in the comments section. Be honest. If it is a fail, tell us so. If you don't like it, tell us. Maybe it just wasn't your thing, or maybe the actual recipe didn't work. Let us know either way. Everyone has different tastes, and we understand that.  We will review all of the feedback and make adjustments to the recipes as needed.  If you test at least 10 recipes, you will get your name in the book and a free copy of the book when it comes out.

If you, or anyone you know, is interested in testing, please email me at:

We've got enough for now!  Thanks to everyone who contacted me.  I'll be in touch shortly...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Vida Vegan Con Wrap Up (and a Giveaway!)

The Vida Vegan Conference is a life changing experience.  No two ways about it.  When I was packing to head out for this year's event, I couldn't help but think to myself that there was no way it could live up to the experience I had the first time.  I mean, on the first go round there were hundreds of vegans all in one place. People from all over coming together to talk about blogging about veganism. Was this for real?  And the food, don't even get me started on the food. I was proved wrong.  Very wrong.  This year not only reached the level of the inaugural event, but in many ways, blew the roof off of it.  My only regret is that I didn't take enough of my own pictures.  Thanks goodness that other people did, and I can live vicariously through theirs!  In order to make any sense at all, I am going to have to break this post down into sections.  This post is pretty long, but there's a prize at the end, so hang in there!

The Place
Portland, Oregon is a pretty mystical place to begin with.  I mean, it is really surreal.  Whenever I am there I really do feel like I am in an amusement park, and I can't for the life of me figure out how anyone could live there permanently and not simply become overwhelmed with the constant overstimulation.  Don't get me wrong, this place is magical, and I absolutely love to visit at least once a year.  In fact I have a new little place I now call my "vacation home" above the BarBar on Mississippi. It did, however, rain almost the entire time we were there.

You can take the girl out of California...
I think most cities in the US could take a few cues from Portland.  The public transportation is super easy to use and pretty cheap to boot.  The city is broken up into quadrants, making navigating pretty easy.  The out of this world food scene is pretty fantastic as well.  In addition to the many all vegan establishmnets (Yes, there really is a Vegan Strip Club in Portland!)  almost every restaurant had some sort of vegan menu.  But most impressive was the lack of big box superstores, fast food establishments, and unattractive strip malls.  It seems as though this town thrives on indie business and entrepreneurialism.  And I really like that.

The conference itself, was held at the Portland Art Museum, which was gorgeous. Located downtown, it was easy to get to from our apartment on the bus, and close by to shopping, restaraunts and other fun stuff.

Photo Credit: the Vida Vegan Con website
The BarBar
The BarBar is a bar adjacent to the Mississippi Studios music venue. The vibe is hip, the music is good, the cocktails are made with fresh fruit and quality ingredients, and they have a vegan burger and fries on the menu.  Outside is a giant patio and fire pit, but the real gem is tucked up above the bar behind a barely noticeable door.

The BarBar on 3943 Mississippi in North Portland, adjacent to the Mississippi Studios music venue.
The apartment.  Yep, the owners of the venue rent out the apartment above the BarBar through Airbnb.  I had stayed there with my sisters before, and thought this would be an awesome place to stay for the conference.  And it was.  Located so close to everything we needed.  Walking distance to tons of vegan food, and did I mention it was above a bar?  Perfect.  This was our home for the week.  And I will personally stay there everytime I visit Portland.  Even if I go there by myself.  Ha!

Why, yes, there is a ginormous painting on the wall of our dwelling!
The People
The power of the internet brought together a pretty fab five. Jackie of VeganYack Attack, Michelle of Vegan Cooking with Love, Kelly of The Vegan Cookie Connoiseseur, Lou of Louzilla Lovegood Letters, and I all stayed in the apartment together. To be honest, I was a little nervous about it.  I had already met Lou and Kelly at the last VVC, but Michelle and Jackie I only knew through facebook and their blogs.  (And we all know that bloggers don't always do so well in real life social situations.)  I couldn't have been more excited once I finally met these ladies, because they are all pretty awesome.  And, Jackie, well she only lives less than an hour from me, so I now have a new friend at home too!  We also were lucky enough to have Joanna of move in for the last few nights of her stay.

The M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I Apartment Crew (L-R) Jackie, Michelle, Lou, Kelly, Joanna, and me!
And there are about 300 other people, some I was fortunate enough to meet, others I was unfortunately unable to.  But let me just drop a few names of some of the amazing folks I got to spend time with over the trip.  Isa Chandra Moskowitz, JL Fields, Jared Bigman, Terry Hope Romero, Laura Beck, Demetrius Bagely, Amey Matthews, Erika Larson (who blogged extensively about the VVC on her blog Sews Before Bros, and I highly recommend having a look), Amber Shea Crawley, Dawn Quinn, Bianca Phillips, Sayward Rebhal, Christy Morgan, Julie Hasson, Kittee Berns, Melisser Elliott, Chelsea Lincoln, Gena Hamshaw, Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan, and of course the amazing trio who put the whole thing together...Jess, Michelle, and Janessa.  I know I met so many more of you, and I am sorry if I didn't mention you here, please know I still love you.

The Conference
So what is the VVC?  In a nutshell, the Vida Vegan Conference was three full days of workshops, classes, mingling, and eating with like minded vegan bloggers from all over the world.  Seriously, all over the world.  There were bloggers from as far as Australia and England making appearances this year.  The impressive trio of Jess, Michelle and Janessa are responsible for making it all happen.  And this year was amazing.  The conference took place in the Portland Art Museum, and the space was simply divine.  The gorgeous ball room was the main meeting spot for the conference, and inside was the sponsor showcase, which featured about 25 different vendors showcasing their vegan products and keeping our bellies full of delicious sample goodness in between classes and meals.

The Workshops
This year's conference was packed with amazing classes and workshops.  I was honored to be selected as a speaker, and I was on three separate panels. You can see the full agenda and read full class descriptions here.  There was something for everybody.  From how to classes on everything from food styling to creating your own 'zine,  to in depth discussions on ethics, sensitivity, and body image.

This is an amazing illustration (page 16) of my three girls from the "Official-Unofficial Vida Vegan Con 2013 Cookbooklette" which was hand drawn and put together by the amazing Amey Mathews of Vegan Eats and Treats.  Each of the giveaway packs contains a copy of this cookbooklette.

I participated in 3 panel discussions:  Path to Cookbook Author (with Julie Hasson, and Bianca Phillips), Publishing Avenues (with Nava Atlas, and Ryan Patey, moderated by Michelle Truty), and Interdietary Cohabitation (with Dawn Quinn and Bianca Phillips).

Of all of the classes I attended, there were three that really left me talking and thinking about them for days on end.  I am truly living the lessons I was taught in these classes, and I will continue to deliver the messages that I learned from them from now until the end of time:

Why and How to Expand Your Message to Include Animal Rights (with Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan)
This workshop was like listening to the Our Hen House podcast live...but even better.  Jasmin and Mariann really hit it home by reminding me about why I do what I do, and that just because I am writing this blog mostly about vegan recipes, there is absolutely no reason why I cannot add in some animal rights messages as well.  They both gave us plenty of easy ways to slip in messages with out alienating my readership.  And these ladies really know what they are talking about!

Sensitivity and Trigger Words (with Gena Hamshaw, Chelsea Lincoln, and Gabrielle Pope)
I probably got the most emotional during this class when the topic of "diet" came up and led to a full on therapy session about how the words we choose to write can influence the feelings of others and trigger negative feelings about body image and health.

Body Image Acceptance & Veganism (Chelsea Lincoln, Gabrielle Pope, Nicole Sopko, Michelle Truty, and moderated by Laura Beck)
This class focused on all the different shapes and sizes that a vegan body comes in.  Fat shaming, skinny shaming, the use of the word "healthy", and many other things were discussed.  The expanding void between "ethical vegans" and "vegans for health" was discussed.  We were also given tools that we were able to use immediately (as in right after class wen we walked into the ballroom for lunch!) to improve our own self accepatnce as well as impart a sense of confidence in those around us.

I attended many more amazing workshops:  Food Styling: Keeping it Real (with Hannah Kaminsky), Monetizing your Blog (with Nava Atlas and Susan Voisin), Ethics Beyond the Plate (with Laura Beck, Jamie Hagen, Leigh-Chantelle, Erika Larson, John McDevitt and moderated by Jason Das), Privacy Lines & Oversharing (with Dreena Burton, Joanna Vaught, Susan Voisin, and moderated by Sayward Rebhal), Restaraunt Reviews with Authority (with Grant Butler), The Other Side: A Reader's Perspective (with Maeve Connor, Gabrielle Pope, and Jess Scone), and finally Artful Food Photography (with Kelly Peloza).

The Food
I was in town for a whole week, and I barely scratched the surface on all the amazing vegan eats in Portland.  The first day I was in town, Wednesday, Jackie, Michelle and I walked down to the Mississippi Marketplace to get our first meal in PDX.  And no trip to Portland would be complete without a food cart experience.  Native Bowl and Homegrown Smoker are both 100% vegan carts that make up the "vegan corner" in the marketplace.  I got myself a Mississippi Bowl from Native Bowl and a side of Mac'no'cheese from Homegrown.  I cannot think of a better way to start my trip.  Bellies full we checked in to our apartment.

The Mississippi Bowl from Native Bowl (Photo Courtesy of TahiniToo)
Later on we ventured out to grab some apartment essentials from Food Fight! and then got ourselves delicious bowls from Canteen.  The next morning, Friday, we couldn't help ourselves.  We had to get "Dutch Tacos" from the Flavour Spot which was walking distance from our apartment.  I didn't snag a photo, (Click here to see Jackie's) but let me tell you, it was a delicious giant waffle folded in half filled with maple cream and pecans.  Normally they are filled with veggie sausage, but too many vegans were in town (haha) and they ran out of the sausage.

The Portland Bowl from Canteen 
Then we headed to Herbivore (in the vegan mini mall) to do a little shopping, then to Hungry Tiger Too for lunch and drinks.  Being the social media mavens that we are, we noticed on Instagram that Joanna was across the street at Sweetpea, so we naturally told her to join us!

Tempeh BLT with Avocado from the Hungry Tiger Too.
And by this time it was time to head over to the White Owl Social Club for the Official Unofficial Meet and Greet for the conference goers.  Still full from lunch I had to wait until Monday before I could enjoy their famous Mac and Cheese Burger.  After that, we headed to a screening of the pilot for the Intrepid Herbivores International Vegan Travel Show.

Photo Courtesy of Bianca Phillips
Then we headed over to Back to Eden where I picked up a piece of delicious Peanut Butter Fudge and had a nice cozy cup of Hazelnut Milk Hot Cocoa, which really hit the spot, because it had been raining all day, and I was soaking wet from walking around without an umbrella. After that, it was over to the Bye and Bye for drinks and bar food.  In my case it was a big bowl of chips, hummus, and the Chili Pie (Fritos and chili with sour cream and cheese!) and of course, their signature drink, the Bye and Bye.

Cocoa and fudge from Back to Eden
The next morning, Friday, we checked in for the conference then headed for a quick bite before the conference officially began at 12.  We walked over to Veggie Grill.   We have veggie grill here, but three of the five women I was with did not have one in their area, so I didn't feel too guilty. The evening was wrapped up with a quick reception with appetizer sized portions of goodies from Veggie Grill.  After the first day of conferencing was over, many of us headed back over to Food Fight! for the Uptons Natural's Gordita Pop-Up.  This was epic.  A crunchy vegan taco, filled with Upton's taco meat, of course, wrapped in a soft white tortilla glued together with Food for Lovers Queso.  Think Taco Bell Double Decker Tacos...but VEGAN!  Whoa.  Not to be filled by one taco, Joanna and I joined up with a few others, and we walked around the block to Red and Black Cafe for Reubens.  And they were delicious!   I stopped in to the Sweet Hereafter for a drink with an old friend, and then called it quits for the night.

Vegan Double Decker Taco from Upton's Naturals and Food For Lovers
(Photo Courtesy of Food Fight!'s Facebook Feed)

But we weren't done eating yet!  Saturday started with breakfast provided to us by the conference itself.  the Portland Vegan Breakfast Showcase, in which nine different restaurants brought sample sized portions of delicious foods.  From pizza to quiche to gluten free donuts to bagels, we certainly were not left wanting for more!  And after the morning session of classes was over, it was back to the ballroom for lunch, which was a Portland Style Build-a-Bowl buffet.  So good.  Saturday Night was the Galarama.  A fancy-ish social gathering which also happened to be a fundraiser for the Chimpanzee Sanctuary.  There were two food carts serving up dinner, I chose the Hot Dog Cart, and got myself a hot dog and nachos.  I also got myself a vodka root beer float at the bar.  Ha!  After the Galarama, a bunch of us headed over to Karaoke.  I watched as other VVC attendees rocked out.  And some of them were really, really good!

Sunday started with breakfast served up by the conference.  Hot cereal with toppings really hit the spot and I was feeling good and ready to tackle the day.  Lunch was also provided by the conference.  Build your own sandwiches with a seemingly unlimited supply of fake meaty and cheesy goodness to pile up on bread.  So very good.

The conference was now over, but the food was still flowing.  After the conference, the ladies and I, along with the help of the amazingly wonderfully friendly Demetrius Bagely, got the apartment ready for a "VIP" post party.  With four vegan pizzas and 2 orders of vegan cheesy garlic bread from Mississippi Pizza, tons of beer, chips, dips, and a super duper delicious tray of brownies courtesy of Capital City Bakery, we were set for an evening of drinking dancing, and hanging out without having to worry about getting up early for classes the next morning!  Click here to read Kelly's breakdown of the VVC and the party.

Monday was my last full day in Portland, and I decided to spend it all with my sister.  We started out at Junior's Cafe for breakfast, and then walked to Anatomy Tattoo to get sort-of-matching sister tattoos.  After that, we headed to White Owl for drinks and so that I could finally get my hands on one of those above mentioned Mac and Cheese Burgers, which was amazing.

Big Sis, Lil Sis Love
The Swag (and the Giveaway!)
Let me just say that I had to check an entire extra suitcase on my flight home in order to bring back all of the swag I brought home from the conference.  Not to mention the stuff I also bought.  Way too much stuff.  Full size samples of Teese, a whole box of cereal, kombucha starters, Lara bars, So Delicious coconut milk, not to mention all of the coupons cook booklets and other stuff.  Seriously there is just too much to mention.  Which leads me to the giveaway.

Swag Bag Giveawy Pack #1 
Swag Bag Giveaway Pack #2
There is so much stuff that I am feeling just a tad guilty.  So much so that I have put together two huge swag bags to giveaway to two lucky readers of this blog.  And these bags are huge.  Unfortuantely, due to the contents (food, liquid) this giveaway is limited to those within the United States only.  So sorry to my international readers.  To enter, please leave a comment below stating what type of things you would want to learn about if you attended a vegan conference.  I will choose two of your responses, at random, and send you some swag.  I will make those choices on Sunday, June 16, 2013, at 10:00 am PST.  So check back to see if you won!

CONTEST NOW OVER!  Congrats to #49, Dana, and #52, Kaycee, you guys are the chosen winners to receive the two huge swag packs!  Please send me an email with your snail mail addy to joni AT justthefood DOT com so I can send you your swag!

2012 Copyright/Permissions/Disclaimers

All recipes written by me, Joni Marie Newman, unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to refer to or link back to any of my recipes, but please ask for permission, and remember to give credit when reprinting recipes in their entirety. I do provide links to affiliate programs (such as Amazon) in which I receive a small commission for items purchased. I do not provide paid reviews. All reviews done on products or books are of my own unsolicited opinion. On occasion I may receive a book or product to review. I will note when this is the case, but rest assured, it will not affect the authenticity of my review. Thanks!--Joni