Monday, January 09, 2017

Christmas Deliciousness & Cookbooklette Winners!!

Happy New Year, everyone! I took the week off between Christmas and New Years, and even though I should have used that time to post my Christmas eats, I was too busy enjoying my down time. I did some sleeping in, some home yoga practice, some reading, some painting (!!), some reflecting, lots of pet snuggling, and all around relaxing. It was pretty right on. 

So, now I'm back in action at the keyboard - and ready to share a massive post-holiday round-up with you -- featuring my delicious culinary Christmas time creations! 

me lounging, doing crossword puzzles, cuddling pets... not blogging!

Cookies for my Yoga Classes
yum yum yum

Every year I pick one week in December and I bring cookies to every single class that week. It's a fun tradition and I love baking for my students. I try to make some different varieties throughout the week, and I also always like to have some GF options for the gluten-freebies of the world. This year I made veganized Gingerbread Tiles from Tartine Bakery, GF Snickerdoodles from Oh She Glows, and Butterscotch Amaretti from Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats. They are all great recipes and were all appreciated! 

Pre-Christmas Dinner Parties
I usually have a Christmas party every year - but this year I just wasn't feeling it. I'm feeling pretty post-election subdued (ugh!), and was more in the mood for a few small dinner parties and gatherings. I had a few special people over for festive and intimate fun, which was just what the doctor ordered. 

Dinner with Mom and Dad

My parents came over to see our Christmas decor and make paper snowflakes and just be together. I always love spending time with them, and I know that makes me super super lucky. For our dinner, I made a batch of the African Peanut Soup from The Oh She Glows Cookbook (one of our all-time favorite recipes!), Kale Salad from Eat Like You Give A Damn (that is such a great recipe!), and a fresh loaf of francese bread from the bakery down the street. It was a cold and wintry night, and this meal completely hit the spot. 

I had some cookies left over from cookie week (safely stashed in the freezer!), so we enjoyed those for dessert. Mmmm! Delicious and easy too! ha ha

enchiladas, guacamole, salad, enchilada sauce, romano beans

My excellent friends Sophia and Max came over for dinner - and I made the Potato Kale Enchiladas from Veganomicon. I had been thinking about that recipe for quite a while! They were just as amazing as I remembered them! In fact, they were so amazing that when my friends Jane and JP came over the following weekend, I made them again! ha ha. No regrets. Just thinking about them makes me want to make them again and again and again. Damn that is a fine recipe. They're also great in the winter time - so warming and hearty and cozy.

cookie decorating, phase 1

After dinner, we engaged in our annual tradition of decorating gingerbread cookies! I use the recipe for Lower Fat Gingerbread Men from The Joy of Cooking (easily veganized) - I love this recipe, it's easy, reliable, and the flavor is just wonderful. I have made this recipe many, many times over the years and it's always a winner. We had a great time decorating cookies and nibbling on cookies and laughing and catching up. I made some special cookies for each of my nieces and nephews to go along with their holiday gifties. 
cookie decorating is fun! 

cookie fun, part two! 

Just a couple days before Xmas, my special bestie JJTWH and her awesome daughter came down to spend the day with us. It was SO fun. I just love spending time with them!! We had a lovely time, listened to holiday music, ate lunch, made paper snowflakes, and then decorated cookies. My little pal did a lot better with the paper snowflakes this year, compared to last year - and it was just so fun to share in the joy and enthusiasm of holiday festivities with a kiddo! Since I don't have kids of my own, it's really special for me to have a kid in my life who I love so much and who loves me back. It really means a lot to me, and I especially love doing holiday funzies with her! I also love watching kids decorate cookies - they always go ALL IN on the frosting and sprinkles. ha ha.

Italian Christmas for Christmas Eve Dinner! 

antipasto plate

This year, for the second year in a row, my family had "Italian Christmas" for our Christmas Eve Dinner. It's so fun and delicious and pretty much everyone likes Italian food, so you can't go wrong! 

My mom was in charge of the antipasti, and of course she did an amazing job! First up was this huge and glorious platter of marinated and roasted veggies. Holy moly, these were just so delicious. She has the magic touch! 
cani di natale

good for your heart!

She also made a very simple and delicious dish of huge white beans and olives and herbs and some sort of tasty dressing. My momsie makes super amazing salad dressings - I know this looks plain, but it was quite lovely!

straight outta Trader Joes

Right before Christmas, I was at Trader Joes and I saw a big attractive jar of Tuscan Antipasto and just couldn't resist it. It had olives and sundried tomatoes and artichoke hearts - it was very good indeed, but definitely not as good as the antipasti that my mom made! Mom wins every time! 

my antipasti

There was also some vegan cheese (I bought Treeline cheese), fresh breads, and a fancy date-fig-dried fruit block to go with the cheeses. There were some non-vegan things too, but we just won't talk about that, okay? 

Christmas Lasagnas - pre-baking!

I love love love lasagna so much! It is one of my favorite foods in the whole world, and I am quite pleased with my own vegan lasagna recipe. I thought about making a butternut squash / bechemel variation this year... but the thought of straying away from an established favorite seemed too risky. So I stuck with old faithful. My aunt and her partner are also vegans, but they follow a no-salt no-oil diet (unlike me), so I made them their very own personalized lasagna -- just like mine but with no added salt or oil. 

all baked ~ toasty! and with bad lighting!

As it turns out, I pretty much made myself a personal lasagna too! Just a couple people besides me even tried my lasagna on Xmas Eve, since there was also my mom's non-vegan lasagna. FINE by me! Mwahahahaha! This meant that we actually had a huge wonderful lasagna to eat for several days, and that is like a Christmas present I made just for myself. 

amey-santa is a great gift-giver!

Just look inside at all that goodness: 
layers of veggies, sauce, noodles, and tofu ricotta. Man, I love lasagna so much.

contorno: green beans! 

My aunt made a huge dish of green beans with a nice sauce and toasted sliced almonds on top. The green beans weren't a big hit with the teenagers, but I loved them. Green beans are one of my favorite veggies. 

array-of-desserts platter

I was inspired by Cara's "dessert charcuterie platter" over at her blog Fork and Beans, so I took that idea and made it my own. I made a huge abundant platter of Christmas desserts -- homemade panfortemostaccioli cookies (veganized and halved from this recipe), peppermint chocolate squares from Chauo Chocolatiernuts (pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts, and almonds), and fresh fruit (clementines, fuyu persimmons, and pomegranate arils). 

I loved the way this looked -- and tasted! With all the different dietaries needs and preferences in our family, this was a fun way to provide something for everyone and make it feel more cohesive and less divisive. We just passed the platter around (several times!) and people could nab whatever goodies their heart desired. And I loved the look of all the colors and textures and abundance!  

Christmas Day Dinner
Xmas, Take Two!

The very next night, we had another family dinner over at my brother and his gal's house. This time around was a much more traditional American Christmas meal, with plenty of non-vegan options -- but my family took such loving care of me. My sister-in-law made me my very own side dish of vegan mashed potatoes (she is really good at mashed potatoes!) and another of vegan stuffing. All for meeeeee. Yum! The roasted Brussels Sprouts were veegs, and so was the salad (there was cheese on the side for those people). Ha ha. I was so happy! As you can see, I also brought along some excellent "Breast of Tofu" -- it's an old and delicious recipe from Bryanna Clark Grogan, plus the name is just so funny. It's lightly dredged in seasoned flour, and I cooked them in my new air fryer which was a totally excellent idea, if I do say so myself. 

Mini-Mince Pies

I was in charge of dessert, so I made a batch of mini-mince pies, using a batch of mince that I had been "marinating" for about a month in my fridge: quince, apples, raisins, figs, spices, and brandy. Mmmmm. I love mince pies, and I don't make them very often -- it's been several years! So it was fun to have them again.

mince eyes!

Cosmo's Apple Pie

I also made an apple pie, and I used the pastry recipe from Joy of Cooking (just using half Earth Balance and half refined Coconut Oil instead of shortening), and I used the apple filling recipe from Vegan Pie in the Sky. This pie was SO GOOD. I was immensely proud of it! 

My crazy family isn't really into dessert, and so I think only my parents and I tried the mince pies, and only about 4-5 of us tried the apple pie. That's just wacky! So, I sent some home with various people, and we popped several mini mincies in the freezer for future enjoyment. 

pure glory.

We also had leftover apple pie for a few days after Christmas, which was yet another excellent gift I had prepared for myself. I really know what to get for myself. Ha! Look at that wonderful crust! And that apple-y filling! So scrumptious. Would eat again.

Food Gifts Made by Me! 
100% classic fruitcake!

Last but not least, I wanted to share a few of the homemade edible gifts that I made this year! I didn't want to post them before xmas - for obvious reasons! Several people on my gift list also read my blog and I didn't want to ruin the surprise. I know fruitcake gets a bad name, but I actually really love it. A couple years ago I made some, and it was pretty good -- but it wasn't the classic fruitcake. Then my instagram friend Tish posted some pictures of her fruitcake and I was all "WHOA DUDE. Tell me about that fruitcake!" (her instagram is @tpat35, such a great feed!)

She very graciously sent me a collection of old fruitcake recipes from a magazine, which she had gotten from her mom I think. I was stoked! I sorta combined two of them... and I'm sorry to say I don't really have a recipe to share. I did take some notes - hopefully they are sufficient to make this again because my mini-fruitcakes turned out amazingly well! I was so happy with them - I made six minis, and of course we kept one for ourselves. 

hot sauces & mustard!

from left to right:
(red) Roman Sambal Fermented Hot Sauce
(orange) Homemade Hot Sauce
(yellow) Caribbean Habanero Hot Sauce
(green) Jalepeno Hot Sauce
(little) Beer Mustard) 

I love giving home made gifts -- especially culinary gifts that people can use and enjoy and then be done with! I've been trying to do more than just make cookies every year. I mean, obviously I love cookies, but there is already so much sugar at the holidays, and I've been trying to think of things I could make that aren't a part of that whole scene.

So this year, my friend Sophia and I had a super fun culinary craft day and made Hot Sauces and Beer Mustard! How cool is that!? We used this super helpful website for our hot sauce recipes. As you can see we made several of them, and they are all wonderful - and also all quite different!!! I think my top two favorites are the Roman Sambal and the Homemade Hot Sauce. We used peppers from the farmers market and we chose to leave all the seeds in for maximum punch - mission accomplished! 

I mostly made these for my brother, who LOVES hot sauce - and I gave him a complete rainbow set. But I have some other hot-sauce-loving friends and family who got a jar or two. And I made a batch of the green jalepeno sauce with no salt for my aunt who doesn't eat salt, and that was a big hit too! In fact, it turns out that a lot of my friends like hot sauce, so I've already made a couple of emergency secondary hot sauce batches to share with my nephew and a couple friends. Christmas in January!

We used this recipe for the Beer Mustard - and we soaked our mustard seeds in a nice (vegan) dark beer from a local brewery here in town. My friend Sophia was in charge of that part! You guys - it turns out that mustard is super easy to make. I would like to experiment more with new flavors and varieties. We tweaked the recipe a little bit to our tastes - and pureed it until it was a consistency that we wanted. Also, if you try this at home - watch out for the highly potent mustard fumes that will emanate from your blender!!! It actually compelled us to do a wikipedia search on mustard gas! ha ha. But the result is a strong and delicious mustard. What a fun thing to make!!

Cookbooklette Winners! 
Last but not least - I have ten lucky winners of this year's homemade Cookbooklette!
Congrats to:
Erin / Andrea / Diana / Tess R / Choirqueer
Michelle P / Elizabeth / Anonymous / Heather / CCarter

Happy New Year!
Thanks to everyone who entered! 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Food I've Been Gifted & Annual Cookbooklette Giveaway!

The last month or so has been full of wonderful food gifts - the abundance of late autumn harvest. Now it's (almost!) officially winter, but there are still fruits on a few trees and goodies to be shared.  

just a few of the avocados I've enjoyed!

One of my lovely yoga students has several huge avocado trees on his property and for the last month or two he has been bringing in giant baskets full of avocados to class -- sometimes twice a week! Right this moment I have two giant avo beauties all ripened up and ready to enjoy! It really has been a wonderful bonanza, and I will be a bit sad when it comes to an end... but I hear there are more on their way next week, so no need to be sad just yet. 


That same student also brought me a lovely bowl of delicious sungold cherry tomatoes -- most of which I ate before I remembered to take a picture... because they are irresistible! These little autumn beauties are so sweet and tasty - little bursts of sunshine in every bite. It's been a while since I enjoyed these buddies, and these days the tomato plants have all been plowed under... but I still have my happy tomato memories. 

perfect almonds

My friend JenJenTheWitchesHen came to visit and brought me some lovely, perfect, delicious almonds: roasted and unsalted. I just love a perfectly roasted almond and these were positively munchable. She got these from a farmer at the farmers market that we goes to regularly. We are both farmers market junkies and it's so fun to give each other gifts from our respective markets. 


Can you even believe it??? My very dear family friends (and yoga students!) recently went to New York City... and they brought me home a *personally selected* box of chocolates and caramels from none other than Lagusta's Luscious!! Squee!!  Can you even believe it??? I was over the moon with joy! I slowly savored each and every one -- each one was different and delicious. This was such a special treat, I felt so super lucky.  

golden orbs of gloriousness

Oh man, I really, really love fuyu persimmons. Around here, a lot of people have persimmon trees covered with a serious abundance of fruit... but usually they are the acorn-shaped persimmons called "Hachiya." Those fruits are much more mushy and I don't care for them. It's a little harder - but not impossible! - to find the people with fuyu trees! Lucky me, I've had a few sources this year for my favorite late-autumn/early-winter fruit. Right now I have a big bowl of these that my aunt and her partner gave to me, AND  a bag of them from our neighbor! Whooo! My favorite breakfast lately has been a big scoop of my homemade yogurt, a handful of rolled oats, and a chopped up persimmon... so good. Now I am already looking forward to going to bed so that I can wake up and eat this again tomorrow. 

More recently, I've been able to return the favor... as our lime tree is finally busting out fruits left and right! I've given away a few huge boxes full of limes, and we're just getting started! What goes around comes around! I've also been busy in the kitchen cooking up holiday presents -- but I can't say anything more than that, because several people on my gift list also read my blog! I promise pictures and details after Xmas!!  

While we're on the subject of gifts... guess what? It's time for my
  Annual Holiday Cookbooklette Giveaway! 
Every year I make a hand-drawn mini cookbook zine featuring some of my favorite recipes from that year. This year I will give away 10 copies -- to readers anywhere in the world! Please just leave a comment and tell me about a foodie gift that you've given or received recently! And make sure to leave your email address or a way to reach you, or I will just pick a different winner. 

p.s. Congratulations to Gabrielle Pope 
for winning a copy of "But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan!

Monday, December 05, 2016

Book Review & Giveaway: But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan!

 This excellent cartoon by the brilliant Ms. Roz Chast, from The New Yorker, is a family favorite, because it almost literally sums up our family. My mom keeps a copy of it in her kitchen. Cooking for our family is half hilarious, and mostly just impossible. I used to try, but I gave up a long time ago. These days we tend toward more of a pot luck approach, or at least a "several dishes" approach, so everyone will find something they will eat. We've got super picky, vegan, no-oil and no-salt vegan, standard American diet, gluten-free, soy-free, generally skeptical, and at least one person who is happy to eat anything tasty (Hi Mom!). 

For all of these reasons, I absolutely love the title of my friend Kristy Turner's new book: "But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan!" Ha ha, obviously, this is the book for me! If you enjoy cooking for loved ones, but experience vegan-resistance, picky kiddos, varying tastes, difficulty planning holiday menus, this might be the book for you, too! Kristy blogs at Keepin' It Kind and has written another cookbook called "But I Could Never Go Vegan." 

a book the whole family can enjoy! 

This new book is chock full of recipes for all different occasions with a huge variety of recipes, and each recipe is clearly marked with icons to indicate things like "gluten-free" "gluten-free option" "soy free" "nut free" "plan ahead" and so on. The vast majority of the book is gluten-free, and that should be inviting and welcome for those of you who are GF or who cook for GFers. 

minestrone rules the world

There aren't many foods that I love as much as I love minestrone soup. I have my own recipe, which I am quite pleased with, but I am also always interested in other people's minestrone recipes. Kristy's recipe for Tempeh Sausage Minestrone has all sorts of excellent veggies that I don't usually include in my minestrone: broccoli florets, mushrooms, fennel, and peas! We especially loved the broccoli and mushrooms. I might have to add those to my own recipe next time. I also loved the chewy Tempeh Sausage Crumbles and the flavor, texture, and protein that they contributed to the soup. The seasoning was also quite different from my recipe - this recipe includes paprika! Paprika certainly isn't very Italian, but the end result of the soup was still delicious. Because of the paprika, Mr. VE&T nicknamed this soup "Hungarian Minestrone" - he loves Hungarian flavors, so this is definitely a compliment in his eyes. 

The recipe is from the chapter titled: 
"But this recipe has been passed down for generations! 
Classic Family Recipes (Veganized) That Even Grandma Will Approve Of! "

Hummus night for dinner!

I can be a bit of a hummus traditionalist (no red pepper hummus for me, thank you very much!), but something about this Artichoke Kale Hummus caught my eye and I had to make it. It's full of artichoke hearts and 3 cups of kale! The end result was really good - sort of a hybrid between spinach artichoke dip and hummus. It was different enough and familiar enough to be delicious and interesting! This recipe also make a metric tonne of hummus, so unless I'm making it for a party, next time I'll probably make a half-batch. One night we had a big hummus + pita bread + veggies platter. Another night we had pita pockets with this hummus mixed with some tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, parsley, and cooked quinoa. It was great! 

This recipe is from the chapter called: 
"There's no way vegan food can make everyone happy at once:
Adaptable Meals That Even The Pickiest Eaters Can Enjoy With The Rest Of You"

a great way to kick off the morning! 

I always wake up with a ready-to-eat appetite, and I especially love mornings where I have my breakfast plan all figured out ahead of time, so that I can get straight to work eating. As soon as I saw the recipe for the Savory Breakfast Casserole, my eyes lit up! This recipe is packed full with protein and flavor: tofu, chickpea flour, tempeh crumbles, excellent seasoning, bell pepper - and even hash browns! So yummy and unlike anything I've ever made before! 

As you can see, it really made a lot. I cut it into 10 pieces and had it for breakfast for 10 days. It was rad! It also reheated really well in the microwave. Mine turned out a little bit drier than I would have liked, so I had it with salsa, which was great.  I think this happened because I used my special super absorbent chickpea flour, but next time I will probably use either softer tofu or a little more milk, just to be sure.  Either way, I'll probably still enjoy it with salsa though, because that was a good combo.

This recipe is from the chapter called:
"My family demands bacon and eggs for breakfast:
Vegan Dishes to Get Everyone's Day Off To A Good Start"

Quick Bacon Crumbles
(also Quick Sausage Crumbles, by altering the seasoning)

Both the minestrone and the savory breakfast casserole called for these Quick Bacon Crumbles (in the minestrone, the seasoning is changed, and they become Quick Sausage Crumbles). This recipe really is quick, as promised, and in both cases these tempeh crumbles added a lot to the final dish. 

This recipe is from the chapter titled:
"Vegan Pantry Staples That Your Family Will Be Willing To Use" 

morning delights.

Here's my morning slice of breakfast casserole, with mandatory seasonal Fuyu persimmon, and the beauty of low, winter light and long shadows. Not pictured: morning coffee, crossword puzzle, bowl of salsa. I'm going to have to make another batch of this, because I miss having this delicious and satisfying breakfast waiting for me every morning!

enjoying my breakfast casserole very much,
complete with my sidekick Yummers

totally delicious and perfect

My fella, Mr. VE&T, has a deep and abiding love for tomato soup. I think he would be happy if I made tomato soup every night for dinner. So, whenever I find a new tomato soup recipe, I'll give it a go. Kristy's recipe for Creamy Roasted Garlic-Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons especially caught my attention because I love garlic, and the idea of grilled cheese croutons pretty much made my head explode! 

This soup uses 4 pounds of fresh tomatoes (I LOVE a recipe that actually calls for fresh tomatoes!!!!), and a whole head of roasted garlic. Mmm. This recipe results in a rich, simple, classic tomato soup that leaves nothing to be desired. I appreciate all the creative spins on tomato soup over the years, but I also appreciate a solid, reliable recipe, and this is just that. For the grilled cheese croutons, there is a recipe for homemade cashew cheese, but I had some Field Roast Chao Cheese open in the fridge, so I used that in the interest of weeknight laziness. I loved this dinner, and I loved the joy of grilled cheese croutons as much as I thought I would. Seriously, who thinks of that? What a good idea.

This recipe is from a chapter called:
"There's no way vegan food can make everyone happy at once:
Adaptable Meals That Even The Pickiest Eaters Can Enjoy With The Rest Of You"

spicy balls of yum

I don't mean to be a complainer, but these days it seems like a lot of vegan cookbooks include a lot of very similar recipes. It's always fun to find recipes for flavors or combinations that look new or like something I don't eat very often. These Jalepeño Popper Bites (with leftover tomato soup in the background!) were just like that - definitely felt like something new and interesting to make and to eat! Instead of these jalepeno peppers having filling stuffed into a jalepeno pepper, Kristy's recipe calls for all the ingredients to be mixed together into a hush-puppy-like popper! They've got quinoa, corn flour, minced jalepeno, spices, vegan cream cheese... all mixed up and baked or fried in little balls. I chose to bake mine, which was easy and the results were great. The recipe calls for 3-4 jalepenos, and I went the conservative route... but next time I will go big and use 4 for extra jalepeno flavor and heat! They were especially good served with a generous dollop of salsa! She says they are best the day they're made, but I enjoyed mine leftover the next day just fine! 

This recipe is from a chapter titled:
 "What can I serve at the big game day party that won't get pushed to the side? 
Decadent Snackage That Nobody Will Guess is Vegan"

sparkly holiday cookies 

 Did you really think that I was going to review this book and not cook something from the desserts chapter? Not a chance! I made the Gingerbread Cookies for our recent Friendsgiving gathering. They are so good: great flavor and great chewy texture. You can't tell from this picture, but they are also rolled in a little bowl of cinnamon sugar before getting pressed and baked. It's such a nice touch! 
They're made with oat flour, almond flour, molasses, coconut oil, great spices, fresh and dried ginger, and coconut sugar. I have a wonderful gingerbread cookie recipe that I love to make, which isn't GF, and I've been wanting a GF recipe to make alongside it - I've finally found my recipe! 

This recipe is from the chapter titled:
 "It's just not the holidays without Aunt Betty's pumpkin pie: 
Vegan Dishes That Will Start New Holiday Traditions" 

golden bars of yumtown

I also made the Salted Vanilla Maple Blondies! I made these for my good friend who came over and spent the day with our pets so that Mr VE&T and I could go up to San Francisco for the evening. These treats are gluten-free, moist but not dense, have a lovely fluffy crumb without being crumbly, and have a great light vanilla flavor! Such a delicious treat and yet another great GF treat to have up my sleeve. I also really appreciate the relatively healthy approach of these cookies: sweetened with less-processed coconut sugar and maple syrup, the fat comes almost entirely from cashew butter (and she tells you how to turn your cashews into cashew butter!), and the flours are oat flour and sweet white rice flour. So delicious and not heavy or post-sweetie-crash-inducing either! 

This recipe is from the chapter called:
"My sister things vegan baking is something only hippies do: 
Vegan Baked Goods That You Don't Have To Be A Hippie To Love"

This book also has some of the best chapter titles ever. They are accurate, fun, and funny. In addition to the ones I've already shared, here are a few more good ones - just to give you a sense of how many things Kristy has taken into account with this book:
* "My teenagers just want to 'fit in' with their friends when it comes to what they eat: 
Vegan Food Cool Enough for Sports Games, Sleepovers, and Just Hanging Out." 
* "What will I bring to potlucks and summer barbecues? 
Vegan Recipes Big Enough to Feed A Crowd"
* "The In-Laws will just add this to their list of my faults:
Impressive Meals That Will Leave Them With Only Good Things To Say About You"

In addition to the great things I've already made, 
here are a handful of other recipes that caught my eye: 
Cauliflower Parmigiana
Cabbage Casserole 
Lasagna Soup
Pumpkin Chai Scones
Grandma's Famous Date Nut Bread
Mushroom and Lentil Soup Mix
(from the Homemade Edible Gifts chapter -!! )

Kristy and her publishers at The Experiment (have you noticed that they publish such great and beautiful vegan cookbooks?!) are letting me offer a copy of BMFWNEV to one lucky reader (US & Canada only). To enter, leave a comment on this post and tell me about your best success feeding vegan food to your family, or your biggest disaster! ha ha. Please make sure to include your email or an easy way for me to contact you, or I will just pick a different winner. Good luck! 


** GoMacro Thrive Bar Giveaway Winner! **
Congratulations to Karen Hardin (randomly chosen, comment #3) 
for winning a case of assorted Thrive bars by GoMacro!
Karen, send me your mailing info and I will arrange to have the bars sent to you!
ameyfm at yahoo dot com 

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Product Review & Giveaway: GoMacro Thrive Bars

New Thrive Bars by GoMacro

I have a very sweet yoga student who comes to class somewhat irregularly, but when he does come, he often brings me a snack. He's brought me several great bars recently, and even a bag of that delicious curry popcorn from Trader Joes. He was the one who introduced me to the bars by GoMacro. He brought me one to class, and I loved it! The original GoMacro bars come in a bunch of flavors - my favorite flavors are always the ones with chocolate. Those bars run from 240-290 calories a bar, with anywhere from 4-12 grams of protein.

Recently GoMacro reached out to me and offered me the opportunity to review their newest offering - a line of "superfood seeds & nuts" bars based with less-processed ingredients called Thrive Bars. All of these bars are Vegan, Organic, Non-GMO, and Gluten-free. The base of all six flavors is a blend of organic sprouted flax seeds, hemp seeds, and puffed quinoa - sweetened with organic brown rice syrup and organic coconut sugar. They each also have organic sprouted brown rice protein. From that starting point, each bar has a different range of ingredients depending on the flavor. The ingredients really are pretty impressive - organic, wholesome, plain english. I really like that . The wrappers have a tag line on them that says "ingredients grown not made," which seems completely accurate. I don't mind an occasional bar full of processed soy protein, but it's nice to have some tasty less-processed options around. These bars are all 190 calories, and depending on the flavor, have anywhere from 5-8 grams of protein per bar.

all those bars lined up in their wrappers made me think of a slumber party.
sleep tight! 

My 3 Favorite Flavors

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip - Any time a bar comes in chocolate peanut butter flavor, that is always going to be my favorite! This bar is extra peanutty with big chocolate chips, and didn't let me down. I also appreciated the cocoa powder in the base, which gives the bar an extra level of chocolatey-ness, especially for such a wholesome and whole-foods bar.

Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt - This bar has some nice nutty chunks in it, which give a good crunch, along with full-size chocolate chips, and a bright touch to the flavor from the salt. 

Caramel Coconut - This flavor surprised me, I wouldn't have expected to like it as much as I did since it doesn't even have chocolate in it (ha ha). In both flavor and texture, it's very coconutty! All of these bars are chewy and substantial, but I especially loved the texture of this bar.

*I was also happy to see that GoMacro is on the FEP Approved Chocolate list - meaning that their chocolate sources don't use childhood slave labor. yes!

Almond Apricot - I love apricots, but I felt like the apricot flavor didn't come through much in this bar. I felt like I was mostly tasting the base ingredients. Perhaps if I wasn't expecting or hoping for more apricot-ness, I wouldn't have noticed. There are definitely lots of almonds though, and this bar has a good nutty crunch to it. 

Ginger Lemon - This bar was another one that really surprised me - the nice ginger flavor really comes through right away - both in aroma and flavor. This bar is more chewy than crunchy, which I enjoyed. The lemony hit is not upfront or overwhelming at all, but it's there. I really liked this flavor more than I expected to, since I usually think of myself as a chocolate+peanut butter gal! 

Blueberry Lavender - This was probably my least favorite of the three, but I could have predicted that from the get-go since I am not really a fan of lavender in my food. That said, I wished the blueberry flavor presence was stronger, and honestly I didn't even pick up that much on the lavender. 

You can have sack races with your thrive bar friends!

such beautiful packaging!

Here is something else that I would really like to salute GoMacro for: gorgeous, aesthetically pleasing, environmentally-friendly packaging. This case of twelve bars came in such a lovely box of unbleached cardboard, with their elegant embossed graphics on it. So beautiful and such a minimal waste. I frequently receive products for review and often the shipping packaging is overflowing with plastic and styrofoam and layers upon layers of packaging. This was such a pretty and sensible packaging presentation, I was so impressed.

** Giveaway! ** 
Guess what else is impressive? In addition to sending me a case of Thrive Bars to review, GoMacro is happy to offer a case of assorted flavors to one lucky blog reader (US only). To enter, please leave a comment on this post and tell me what your favorite bar is so far. Also, check out GoMacro on Facebook and on Instagram.

Guess what else!! Even if you don't win, GoMacro has a 30% coupon code good for their Thrive bars if you'd like to give them a try. The code will work once per customer and is Thrive30 - use it at their site,