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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014: Deer Run B&B (vegan, organic nirvana), Liebster Award Nomination, and Farewell MoFo til next year

Here's my last video for Vegan MoFo 2014. This was shot tonight after sunset, the ocean was like glass. Look at the reflection of the sky in the ocean! The beauty in our world moves me to tears at times



Here, we strive to nurture and protect the gift that is called Earth, as well as all that depends upon it. We believe being vegan is integral to the survival of humanity as a species, and to be blunt, we see no reason for the cruelty that humans inflict on animals in this world. As usual, there's so much I could say, and my video tonight just scratches the surface of what we are at Deer Run, what we stand for, and what our goals are. If I were to die tomorrow, I would be very ok with Deer Run as my legacy. I've never wanted anything as badly in my life as I did when I initially had my vision of what we would be creating here. To look back and study what we've done, I feel immense pride. This is my "happy place," this is where I live, where I love, where I belong. It is the culmination of a lot of sacrifice, hard work, time, money, and sometimes even blood (so far I still haven't lost a digit in the kitchen, although there was one REALLY close call!) Not everyone who comes through here is vegan, but for those who are not, it's often an eye-opening food-for-thought experience.  For those who ARE vegan, it's a safe haven where you don't have to ask if anything is vegan, because EVERYTHING is vegan. Our linens are organic and vegan, we don't have feather pillows, we don't use products that have been tested on animals. We do support organic food, we do immerse ourselves in the community, we do our best to put ourselves "out there" to the world by teaching, mentoring, and not sitting back doing nothing in the face of violence. If that's not your thing, then don't come here.

I am grateful to be here, and both of us will continue to strive very hard to always do our best. As a point of fact, we work harder now than we did when we started, how is that possible I don't know, but my point is, we continue to strive to do more, and do better.

Hey there…. LIEBSTER NOMINATION!

Thank you Tiffany of the blog AJourneywithTiffany.com for nominating me for a Liebster Award! I am honored, and also grateful for the opportunity you have given me for more people to find my blog. You can find Tiffany's blog at www.ajourneywithtiffany.com. I read quite a few posts from her… good recipes, Southern-style. Also, she's juicing right now, which I'm doing way more of, and I'll be experimenting with her combos. Here's the Rules on the Liebster nominations:

Once nominated, you receive a list of 10 questions from she/he who has placed the nomination, which the nominee must answer. Then, the nominee must nominate 8 other blogs, let them know you have nominated them, and put a link to their blog in your post (no tag backs). Nominees must have under 200 followers. You must tell the blogs that you nominate them.

These are the 10 questions I received, with my answers:

Q: What is your all-time favorite meal that you could eat every day without fail?
A: Tempeh Reuben!

Q: What is your favorite holiday?
A: Summer Solstice.

Q: Since going vegan, is there a dish that you would love to make vegan?
A: Angel food cake.

Q: Why did you decide to become vegan?
A: Ethical reasons. I opened my eyes to the reality of animal suffering.

Q: Do you like coffee or tea?
A: I drink coffee, but I am MAD for tea!

Q: What do you like to do for fun?
A: Nothing gives me peace and comfort like spending time with my companion animals, or in nature with wild animals.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you travel and why?
A: Thailand. I've seen so many beautiful photos, and met so many people who have been there who shared their experiences with me. The beaches look gorgeous, vegan food seems abundant, and as a licensed massage therapist (you didn't know that about me, did you?) I want to experience authentic Thai massage where it originated.

Q: What do you like to do on rainy days?
A: Retreat to my bed, pile in with all the kitties, worship them and watch TV.

Q: Do you have a speciality dish? If so, what is it?
A: I own a vegan bed and breakfast, and honestly we have become known for our vegan organic flax pancakes. A really close runner up is my organic vegan frittata.

I'm not as tech savvy as so many bloggers, this you know. I have provided accurate links to all the blogs, these are the ones I nominate. For some reason, they won't highlight as I type in, so PLEASE cut and paste them, these are great bloggers! I nominate:

www.madhatterspantry.co.uk
www.thesilverthreadsofaliceb.blogspot.com
www.downrightvegan.blogspot.com
www.good-good-things.com
www.ayearofgoingvegan.com
www.afruitylife.com
www.brandnewvegan.com
www.detroit-made.blogspot.com

I spent a lot of time looking at blogs for this, and I made every effort not to be duplicitous with a nomination. Also, I made great efforts to see that followers were under 200, why is it so hard to find this information on so many blogs I don't know, but it is and I do hope I got that part right too. On the above blogs, I read posts from you new and older, thank you for the great content, and your hard work.

Now, bloggers above, here's your questions:

1. How long have you been vegan?
2. Have you ever "fallen off the vegan" wagon, why, and what brought you back to being vegan?
3. Do you have many vegan family/friends?
4. What kind of music do you like to cook and bake to?
5. Have you ever been to a VegFest, and if so, which one… did you have a favorite?
6. What one piece of advice would you give to someone who wants to go vegan, but cannot find their way?
7. Do you share your life with any companion animals, if so, who are they?
8. Where you live, is it relatively easy to get a nutritious, creative vegan meal while eating out?
9. Sweet or savory?
10. What would your "dream job" be?

I'd like to have a fancy gadget here, showing Liebster Award graphics, but heck, you know better than that from me…. I still haven't even gotten my MoFo gadgets up yet, um…. oops.

Thank you for reading my blog, for watching my videos, and for doing your part to bring compassion into your life and the lives of others. Big love from me here at Deer Run. Vegan MoFo 2015 countdown is on! xo

Monday, September 29, 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014: VEGAN BLACK METAL CHEF EVENT!

Scroll down for video.

Vegan. Black. Metal. Chef. HERE AT DEER RUN!

This video is the first we're announcing this for March 2015. It's on, it is SO on.


xo

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014: The Floridian, St. Augustine & a Quick Update

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First allow me to say Vegan MoFo 2014 is going so fast my head is spinning. I have about five products I've yet to review, a few videos from vacation I've yet to post, and I've already got an important video planned that will be the finale for the event. There's no way I'm going to get this all in, considering there's 3 days left. The only days I missed were 2, maybe 3, in the beginning when all the hospital stuff was starting. On top of all that, while we were away, a couple of the videos got messed up, and I mean messed up BIG. The biggest "oops" is the night we ate at Sublime, and the video got deleted. I have no idea how that happened, but it vanished. I'm still upset about that. I'll do a post about Sublime after MoFo, you will still be my friend after this is all over, won't you?

While we were in St. Augustine, we ate dinner at a place called The Floridian. It was exceptionally casual, and exceptionally busy. When we called to see if we needed a reservation, we were told no because they weren't busy. By the time we got there, we waited 40 minutes for a table. We didn't know where else to go, I believe this was just an hour or 2 after we'd rolled into town. We were both tired and didn't really feel like driving. This place was within walking distance to where we were staying, and I found through the wonder of the internet that they had tempeh and tofu on the menu, hooray.

As we sat by the door waiting, I watched the kitchen and waitstaff work. They worked their butts off, and really seemed to be working very well together. There was laughter in the kitchen, and they all seemed to be helping each other out, as I said this place was BUSY. I actually didn't video the dinners. It was really dark because we were sitting outside (it was truly a glorious late summer evening), and it was late by the time we got there. Actually, we closed the place out, being last, or second to last, to leave for the night, yikes. I had a summer salad which was absolutely huge, with quinoa, veggies, lettuce, I think it also had chick peas, maybe lentils, and blackened tempeh (which was absolutely excellent, and made by a local tempeh shop!) The other happy vegan had a house made vegan black bean burger, he loved it.

I have very few suggestions for a place like this, beyond first and foremost always saying please take it ALL vegan. Beyond that, I'd simply have liked a little more salad dressing (only because the salad I ordered was HUGE and what they supplied was so tiny for all those veggies and tempeh), and I would have liked to see a non-dairy milk choice available so I could've had coffee or tea. Beyond that, this place seems to be a neighborhood place with pretty decent food, modest prices, very attentive service, kind people working through the place, and also happens to be vegan friendly.  All that, and it was a beautiful night for a walk through the city of St. Augustine. I'm in love with the city, I really am.

Enjoy the video, see you tomorrow!


xo

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014: Roadside Happenings

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More road trip fun. Video #1:


There's always a downside to a road trip at some point, no? At one destination, we ended up in an area which had virtually no vegan food. We found a small market where we were able to purchase some organic carrots, organic strawberries, and some hummus. We tried 3 times to get into the local health food store/juice bar, but it was closed every time we were there. EVERY TIME! That includes 10:30am one morning. Seriously?!! At one of the lunch places in town we stopped (the worst food of the trip), we were given an option of a wrap with lettuce, tomatoes, and cider vinegar, which I was so desperate I actually would have gone for, but…. the wrap was flavored, and when I asked if the wraps themselves were vegan, our waitperson responded with "I have no idea" and then walked away. So much for customer service.

We were lucky to find this teensy pizza place which had a decent selection of veggie toppings so we ordered a pizza without cheese, just sauce and veggies. Also, the fact they had soy milk carried the moment so I could get a cup of coffee. We'd just come in from a super long day at the beach. I was covered in sand and salt, and exhausted. Why does the sun drain us so much after beautiful days like that I have no idea. Regardless, it did, so pizza would have to suffice, which it did. We tried to get smoothies there too (pretty progressive, the pizza place said they had smoothies…) but when I asked about that, the gal pulled out these horrible mixes they use, which she allowed me to read the labels before mixing… and I swear I read propylene glycol as an ingredient. I thought I must be reading that wrong, so I simply returned the bottles to her and declined. Odd, I thought smoothies were made with things like fruit, juices, non-dairy milks and such. No one told me I'm supposed to put anti-freeze in them, hm, I must've missed the memo. We had some leftovers in the room to carry us through breakfast and lunch the next day. As beautiful as that place was, it's unlikely we'd go back. Such a pity.

Video #2:


See ya next time!

xo

Friday, September 26, 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014: Rhapsodic Bakery, Orlando

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Forgive me dear hearts but Orlando is not for me. Too much "mouse" (no we didn't go there), too many Sea World signs (the air felt so heavy, sad and tragic as we passed the general area for that atrocity), and it rained rained rained RAINED the whole time there. Roads were ridiculously flooded, traffic was making people angry, and I was missing my animals something fierce. One of the few bright spots was stumbling upon this sweet vegan bakery. In fact, this was one of the only moments while we were in town that it was not raining, so this was definitely meant to be. There was no way we weren't gonna visit this place... Before rolling into town, we had never heard of them. Sweet people in there who really care about animals, planet and people (first thing that happened when we walked in was get props for our Sea Shepherd garb, as one of the gals behind the counter pushed aside her apron to reveal her own Sea Shepherd attire, yay!)

Thanks Rhapsodic Bakery. Activism through food is one of the most powerful ways to reach the masses. Stop by for coffee and a scone, you won't be sorry!



See you soon! xo




Thursday, September 25, 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014: Robert Is Here, Vegan Wine & A Song

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Road trips rules for vegans... Always pack food. Stay flexible. It's a vacation, don't take things too serious, ok?

The road trip continues as follows:

Robert was not there, sadness.

I find a vegan fruit winery, happiness.

I sing, look out world.

Good thing I packed snacks.



See you tomorrow! xo


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014: Present Moment Cafe, St. Augustine

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As I said in my last post, I loved St. Augustine so very much. We walked everywhere. I learned so much about Florida history during our short time there, it was far too short a visit. We are going back again in the future, no doubt. As far as food, there were great choices, and even many mainstream places have non dairy milks on their menus, and will make a nice, healthy vegan meal. We had heard about Present Moment Cafe, and it was on the "must visit" list. It is almost entirely raw, but has a couple of cooked items. It's a small restaurant, with community and planet in mind. Both of us happy vegans LOVED this place, and would have gone back many more times if we were in town longer. They get exceptionally high marks from us both, the food was so well prepared, beautiful, and for both of us totally out of the ordinary in a wonderful way. Here's the video, I hope you enjoy it.





xo til next time.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014: Manatee Cafe, St. Augustine, Parts 1 & 2

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So, as you see, we got around. I loved St. Augustine so much. It's steeped in history, has ocean, beautiful architecture, parks, tons of trees, ancient cemeteries, and was pretty vegan friendly. I got all happy when I saw a squirrel running around in a park. The people were so friendly. It's an area that I could imagine myself living if it didn't get as cold in the winter. I'm already making plans to go back, and stay longer too.

One of the hidden gems we found was a small cafe called The Manatee Cafe. It is exceptionally vegan friendly. We ate breakfast there twice(!!!) and also got a "to go" order for lunch one day as we knew we were driving to a non veg friendly area of the State. Here's my videos, I hope you enjoy them!





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See you tomorrow! xo




Monday, September 22, 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014: Darbster! I Looooooooooove You!

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Finally we made it to Darbster. If there was such a thing as food Heaven, it is here. Not only is it 100% vegan but they run this place as a non-profit, for animals. This place is wonderful, the food is delicious... Did someone say QUICHE?!!! Yeah baby, now THAT'S a quiche!

Darbster, I love you!

This video was one of the best MoFo experiences for me. My advice? Go. Go now. Go often. Tell your friends. Better yet BRING your friends!

See you next time, I'm bringing the MoFo love. xo


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014 Day 21: A recipe and 2 product reviews (Tofurky Quiche & Organic Hot Sauce)

Scroll down for video and recipe.

I never really know what to think when other people review products. It's not often I see people doing anything other than raving about whatever it is they're reviewing.

Tofurky how I do love you. I love your vegan company, your ethics, the funny things you post and write about, that you support charity, and that you are all about veganism. To show my love, I support you by purchasing your products. But this quiche…. this quiche…. um…. no. Just no.

As far as the hot sauce goes, I think things went way better. Not spicy enough, but I'll purchase it in the future. The flavor is great, and it's organic. I can spice it up with a little cayenne on my own.

There's a little place in Key West called "Peppers of Key West." It's a hot sauce bar. Seriously, you go in there, and you can get a "shot" of anything they sell. The carry from the meekest mild sauce to the absolute hottest you'd never want to imagine. Something for everyone. I've been in there several times, and never walked out empty handed.

We love us our hot sauce here at Deer Run.

Enjoy the video, recipe below. It's a good recipe. I'm keeping it, and will make it again, absolutely.


Cauliflower Buffalo Bites
Courtesy of: The Lean Clean Eating Machine

1 head organic cauliflower, washed and and cut into bite size pieces
1/2 cup brown rice flour (I used organic spelt, I wasn't concerned whether mine was gluten free or not)
1/2 cup water
pinch sea salt
pinch of organic garlic powder (I used 1/2 tsp)
Non-stick spray (um, yeah…. use the spray, you'll see why)

Sauce:

1 tsp. organic vegan non-dairy butter of choice, melted
1/2 cup hot sauce (recipe says "Frank's" I used Organicville, but splashed a generous amount of Sriracha hot sauce over it to make it hotter)

Preheat oven to 450 (I did mine at 350). In a small bowl, combine flour, water, garlic powder and salt. Mix with whisk. Batter the cauliflower pieces, and lay them out flat on a sprayed baking sheet (or at least spray your parchment…) Bake 10 minutes, or til the batter hardens. Then flip with a spatula and bake another 5 minutes.

Whisk the hot sauce & non-dairy butter in a small bowl. When the cauliflower is finished, brush the pieces with the hot sauce. I tossed the piece a bit on the tray to cover completely both sides. Bake coated cauliflower for an additional 8-10 minutes (mine took a smidge longer probably because I roasted at a lower temp)… until crispy and sauce looks absorbed.

Remove from oven. Let stand about 20 minutes before serving.

Even though I'm late to the buffalo bites craze, I'm here now. They're great. Make 'em.

xo

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014: MoFo Interruptus…. International Coastal CleanUp Day

Today was the annual International Coastal Cleanup Day. If you know us, you know we participate every year. This year it was a little bit different, as the "Mule" vehicle we use to help transport trash back and forth, and more importantly we use to haul out heavy items like pallets and huge balls of rope, was unavailable. Presently it has no brakes, so it was not safe to use for the cleanup. This slowed us down a little bit because we had to manually haul the heavy bags to the curb, and also we couldn't get out some of the larger debris that we wanted to (numerous pallets, and a few other items).

This is why we clean. For the ocean. For the animals.
Look at all the beautiful teensy shorebirds hanging out on the flats!
Yay for teensy shorebirds!
Regardless, we did it. Once again, we got out there. Alone. Just us. There's clean ups all over the world, and a really big clean up at the East End of the beach. But the West End never gets any cleaning love from groups, just us and from the turtle walkers who walk every day patrolling for nests. All the more reason for us to clean this section today.

A couple weeks ago, we had really strong winds pushing onshore for days on end. Tides were extra high, and the seaweed kept coming and piling up. Areas where the seaweed packs down can be deceptive as far as stability for walking. It seems like these cleanups never occur at low tide. With a high tide, that means its always me who goes out on the flats to retrieve what I can that's floating, or trapped in deep wrack because I have boots. Those boots…. they're never high enough, and I mean it. Within minutes of getting out onto the flats on deep heavy packed seaweed I sank. And I sank bad. I was trapped, couldn't get out without sacrificing my boots and that was NOT gonna happen. The other happy vegan searched and found me a long piece of wood which he tossed my way, and with a little work, I was able to break suction and get my feet loose. This took me at least 5 minutes. You'd think I'd learn after this many years, but I never do. And, it didn't happen once today… not twice… it happened no less than half a dozen times. Admittedly after that first really bad incident I didn't put myself in quite as risky a situation, but every time I get stuck I lose time on trash collecting, which translates to adding time at the end.

Something that upset met today (other than the sight of trash on a beautiful beach) was being at a property where children had been playing. I venture an educated guess these children were with at least one of their parents. I do believe I know who they are… not yet living here, but coming to look at their place, make plans etc. Well, the kids made a makeshift checkers-type game. Quite a little haul of plastic caps and other plastic pieces. They played their game, then they left. All the trash was just left there. What are those children learning? The trash on the property was copious. Instead of coming to the beautiful oceanfront property and cleaning it, nurturing it, respecting it and protecting it, trash was played with then simply left. And that seemed to be a-ok with the parents.

Plastic caps have this horrible legacy of killing many birds and other animals. They are the perfect size to get lodged in throats of birds and other animals who think they're food, and go for them. It's heartbreaking to see, and yup I've seen it. They starve to death. Listen to me all you grownups…. teach your children and teach them well. Please leave areas better than you found them. Don't litter. Don't leave litter behind like this. There's no reason for that. Don't worry new homeowner, we picked up all the trash that was there, and quite a bit more. And we'd do it again, and we will I'm so sure.

This year for International Coastal Cleanup Day 2014, we covered about .6 of a mile, and hauled out about 600 pounds of trash. This doesn't include hazardous material we found including a car battery, fuel or oil in a container, and some other items that are of hazmat concern.

For your viewing displeasure, here's some pictures.

No idea what this is, but it was a pain to dig out.
The rope and line on it was entangled around other things.
We used our little cart to stack the trash on.
We hauled out numerous cartloads.
I really missed the "Mule" vehicle this year, big time.

That is a protected mangrove that has died.
It died because of illegal shoreline hardening.
Things like this happen down here,
 and some authorities seem to turn a blind eye,
no matter who you report things to.
Allegedly.
This is the remains of a sea plant that has really pointy stickers on the stems.
Its' "perfect" for capturing improperly disposed of monofilament line.
Can you see that line? In the water, it's virtually invisible.
It's designed to be that way so the fishes don't see it.
Monofilament is virtually impossible to break.
It causes many choke deaths in animals, as well as entanglements
resulting in loss of limbs and loss of life.
Bad. Very bad.
A fraction of the rope we collected today.
Tumbling in the ocean, rope finds rope.
The piles seem to grow and grow.
If they eventually wash ashore and we find them,
we pull them out. It's NASTY, slick, slimy covered
in goo from being buried in the wrack.
If they don't wash ashore?
Most likely a sea turtle or other innocent will
become a victim of entanglement.
They'll either lose a limb, or more often than not, die
a horrible slow painful death.
These are 2 rings I found.
On the left is a plastic ring
 on the right is aluminum (the bottom of a beer can or something).
These are disasters waiting to happen.
Animals can get them stuck around their bills,
 can't get them off, and they starve.
Mammals get them stuck on their hooves (i.e.: Key deer),
they cannot remove them, and they become embedded in their limbs.
Then infection sets in, sepsis happens often, and a slow painful
death ensues.
Bad. Very bad.

So, would anyone like to venture a guess how this is allowed to happen?
That's a protected mangrove you see in this photo.
It is entrapped in concrete.
Yes, essentially someone shot concrete into the ocean to extend their property
then the added sand on top of it, and finished the whole shebang off
with illegal shoreline hardening.
There's the little mangrove.
Where life begins in the Keys….
it's trapped in concrete.
Apparently, it's all "who ya know"…
Allegedly…

Oh, ironically when we first started PLANTING mangroves,
 someone called to report us.
Various officials came out here expecting to "catch" us doing something illegal.
Seems like people don't plant mangroves too often.
At least, based upon their surprise
 when they came to investigate it would seem that way.
Yay! Beauty! Look at all those beautiful mangrove seeds waiting
to fall and grow!!!!
This is my sea bean haul for today.
Not as many in years past.
Sea hearts, a sea purse, I think a nickerbean
and I have no idea what that flat thing on the left is.
I've yet to identify it.
I sacrifice 1 pair of socks to the flats every year on
International Coastal Cleanup Day.
It's a tradition.
These boots were made for cleaning.
They take a beating, for sure.
They've served me well over the last year.
I hope to get at least 1 more year out of them.
They look pretty good considering what happened to them today.
Look closely.
Can you see all the new mangrove trees sprouting through the wrack?
We hope they make it!
Black coral.
Hello Kevin.
We remember you.
See you next year, same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014 Day 19: Oh Balls!

Scroll down for video, and recipe.

If you look on the internet, it seems like there's billions of recipes for vegan raw (and almost raw) energy balls. Snow balls. Bliss balls. Budda Balls. Yoga Balls. Whatever ya call 'em, they're of the same family. I have some recipes that are a little more complex which I use for people who guest here, but for my own preferences, I'm a simple gal. After the basics of organic nuts, dates, organic unsweetened flaked coconut and cocoa powder, it's free-for-all and ends up as a "what do I have in the pantry" party in my food processor. You can add cacao nibs, seeds of choice, Matcha green tea powder, vegan protein powder of choice (especially nice for people who workout if you want to amp up the protein a bit more), peanut butter, almond butter, tahini, or anything else you think might work. The recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, I don't typically omit that tiny bit of oil, coconut oil is a wonder food (in my opinion). Sea salt is optional, but I never use that in any of the energy ball recipes I make. Ever. Simply unnecessary.

If you're looking to keep the fat content lower, you can choose organic powdered peanut butter (here I use Just Great Stuff organic), which is just like PB2, but organic. If cocoa isn't your thing, try carob. If carob isn't your thing, make them vanilla…. no cocoa at all. Switch up the nuts (walnuts? hazelnuts? almonds?) If you're allergic to nuts, how about substituting seeds instead of nuts as the base (mmmm., pumpkin seeds and tahini sounds great about now!) Also, if you run low on dates, raisins will work as a substitute just fine, probably a few other dried fruits would be nice mix ins…. cranberries come to mind. I tried to make versions of these commercially available down here in the Keys under my own label, but it's cost prohibitive for me to do so, even buying the materials wholesale. Organic nuts are a pricey item, but they are NOT a luxury in my opinion. Pecans (conventional) are one of the most heavily sprayed crops around, ugh. You can find energy balls in almost every health food store, and yes I do buy them pre-made from time to time. I don't always have time to make every single thing around here from scratch, so I'll reach for the pre made ones in a pinch. Mostly, if I just plan ahead, I can have a stash in my freezer all year round, they freeze so well (up to a month or more) and certainly keep in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. They won't last that long, trust me.

This is a short video. Drag out your food processor and get going.


Recipe (my variations)

1 cup organic pecans
2 cups dates (unpitted!)
1 cup organic unsweetened dried coconut flakes
1 tablespoon organic coconut oil
1/4-1/3 cup raw organic cocoa powder or carob powder (raw, if you want them  "officially" raw)
1/2 tsp organic vanilla extract or some scraped organic vanilla bean (optional, but nice)--try other extracts to if you'd like
sea salt (optional, I never use)
optional spice to try: cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg (not all of them, just 1, if any)
water

Optional mix ins: tahini, powdered peanut butter, cacao nibs, vegan protein powder, Spirulina, super greens powder, Matcha green tea powder, chia, flax, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds… you are getting the drift….)

Place all ingredients into food processor (except water). Pulse or run the processor for just a moment, it will crumble very fast, add water to get the mix to bind… start with 1 tablespoon, and add more 1 tablespoon at a time, I find I usually eyeball this at about 3-4 tablespoons. Don't overdo the water, just enough to make the hold together. Form into balls, roll into topping of choice (coconut, cocoa powder, seeds, blah blah). Eat or hold in fridge til ready. These freeze nicely.

Mad vegan love til next time.

xo

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014 Day 18: Pumpkin Gnocchi, Recipe

Scroll down for video, and recipe.

It's pumpkin time. The world goes mad for pumpkin every year come September. Not me, I'm not a fan, but you already knew that anyway.

Today I share a recipe for vegan pumpkin gnocchi. I took an order for vegan pumpkin cookies, and had leftover pumpkin. What to do … what to do. Then I remembered I have a recipe for vegan pumpkin gnocchi that's super simple. It's not traditional, obviously. It's also not my recipe, but I cannot give credit where credit is due as when I took this recipe off the internet so long ago, I did not preserve the source. My apologies to the writer of the recipe.

This is a more delicate dough than regular gnocchi. Be gentle with your dough. Do not over mix, you do not want to develop the gluten because then you'll end up with tough gnocchi. I see no reason why you could not make this recipe gluten free, by using your gluten free flour (or flour blend) of choice. Omit the xanthan gum or guar gum (if you use it), doubt you'll need it here with all that pumpkin anyway. This recipe is, I think, easy to "personalize" if you'd like. Maybe mix in some fresh basil? Some red pepper flakes? Any type of sauce preference will do… the original recipe had some kind of vegan butter sage sauce, which I remember as being really awful, I didn't save that part. Then again, if that's your thing, go for it.

I talk a bit about my Italian grandparents. Grandpa was a chef, but only cooked at restaurants… grandma cooked at home, I clearly remember this, as cooking at home was "women's work." They didn't speak a word of English when they arrived in America, and worked hard to learn English very quickly. They actually forbade my dad from speaking Italian in public while he was growing up. I wish I had more memories of them. Hard to believe I had a professional chef in the family, and I never, ever, nope not once, discussed food, recipes, nor do I even have a single recollection of any family food traditions with either of them. They passed when I was quite young. I have a rolling pin that was either his or my grandmother's; that rolling pin is HUGE, I'd say about 4 feet long. What in the world did they ever do with a rolling pin that size I cannot help but wonder. I do like that I have this rolling pin though. Even though I have no idea what to do with it, I have this connection, sort of like the missing link from them to me. Maybe.

Here's the video, and then the recipe.


Vegan Pumpkin Gnocchi
Credit: I do not know. Sincere apologies, I took this off the internet a long time ago, and did not preserve the author. This is not my recipe, I am not claiming it as my own.

1.5 cups organic pure pumpkin (or other squash)
1 cup all purpose flour (organic here)
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp spices (I used 1/4 tsp allspice and 1/4 tsp nutmeg)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, stir til mixed. Once combined, knead til smooth, about 3 minutes. Don't over handle the dough, otherwise you're gnocchi will be tough.

Roll into tubes on floured surface. Cut into little pieces, coax the little pillow pieces into curly curved pillow pieces.

Get a pot of water on a rolling boil. Then add a few gnocchi at a time (don't want them to stick together, and you want them to have lots of room to fly around in the water). They'll float to the top when ready (2-3 minutes). Remove gnocchi from water with slotted spoon, place on plate and either keep warm til ready to serve, or serve immediately with sauce of choice.

Get your pumpkin on, if you must.

xo


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014 Day 17: New Product Review (Luke's Crackers) a FANTASTIC recipe and…. apparently I'm angry again

Scroll down for video, and recipe.

Ut oh… it happened again. I got angry. My lovely black wig must be jinxed. Last time I wore this hair on MoFo was the day Annie's Homegrown announced it was acquired by General Mills. Today? White Wave gobbled up So Delicious Dairy Free. All I could do when I heard the news was cry "nooooooooooooo!"

Sadly, it's all true. Here we did purchase some products of the So Delicious line, a few were for use at the inn, and a few were for my personal consumption (how will my life move forward without So Delicious french vanilla coffee creamer?!!! HOW???????)

Does this mean that the Purely Decadent line is next in the cross hairs? Does this mean I'll never again allow myself the luxury of Purely Decadent's pomegranate chip non-dairy ice cream? That stuff is my Kryptonite…. absolutely my most favorite ice cream EVER. EVER EVER EVER! So…. will that be on the chopping block too? Time will tell.

I am hopping mad (hopping?) over this, really saddened that my choices dwindled again, really getting scared about how many BIG companies are gobbling up these small(ish) companies. I'm not against progress! I'm all for companies doing well, for employees furthering their careers and blah blah. However…. White Wave threw massive amounts of money against Prop 37 in California. Obviously White Wave has a hardcore stance that labeling GMOs should not happen. So…. if I buy So Delicious, technically my very hard earned money is going directly to fund a campaign I'm so desperate to fight against. Which equals the obvious conclusion that here, we must also dump the So Delicious line.

Parent's cover the kiddies eyes…. my shirt drops the "f" bomb (thanks Compassion Company, 2 thumbs up on this shirt, perfect for my angry hair!)

Buh-Bye So Delicious.

On the up side of things, while we were at Food for Thought, Ellin suggested I try a new line of crackers she's now carrying, by a company called "Luke's" This company is made in the USA, non-GMO, organic, vegan, soy free, dairy free, nut free, gluten free. Hm…. ok, I'm in.

While I was surfing the net, somehow I came across an onion dip recipe from Hannah Kaminsky (oh Hannah, you don't even know how much I adore you…) who has a blog (bittersweetblog.com) and also has authored several vegan sweets books (I have none of her books…. the horror, the shame, how is this possible?!!)  Her recipe for caramelized vegan onion dip is absolute perfection. DO NOT CHANGE A THING! The dip has a mellow flavor, and rich depth, that I really love. The crackers? Delicious! I'm actually surprised how much I really like them. I'm not one to grab many processed foods, however these seem to be a pretty good choice is a sea of very bad choices. The sodium content is actually manageable, and even the carbs (I'm not anti-carb! I merely mention this for those who look at carbs with concerns for their sugars…) aren't bad for a boxed food. As I said, these are gluten free, organic & vegan. They are small crisps… actually flips would be a better description. As for the flavor (I tried the garden vegetable variety) they remind me of a cracker my mother was mad for when I was growing up call "Sociables." Anyone else remember them? No idea if they even exist anymore, and if they did I wouldn't buy them as I'm sure they're made by some evil GMO food company. These Luke's crackers are really good, and definitely something I will pick up and have on hand when company is expected. And you can bet your a** I'll be serving them with some of Hannah's caramelized onion dip. Her recipe is an absolute keeper… going into my personal "go to" collection. I also think this recipe would be fantastic as a spread on sandwiches with some shredded veggies and lettuce, or stuffed in a pita pocket with your choice of veggies as well (plus kalamata olives anyone?!!!)

Here's the video. Enjoy. Recipe below.


Caramelized Onion Dip
Courtesy of Hannah Kaminsky
www.bittersweetblog.com

3 medium onions, diced
3T vegan butter of choice
1T canola (I used olive, this was the ONLY modification I made)
1/4 tsp cayenne
1tsp sea salt
black pepper to taste (I used just a pinch)
1 box ORGANIC Mori-Nu silken tofu
1tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup nutritional yeast

Preheat a large skillet on low heat, melt the vegan butter, add the olive oil, and then add the onions, toss to coat. Keep heat low, continue to cook, gently 40-45 minute (mine were ready in exactly 44 minutes!), stirring occasionally. Incorporate the spices and salt when caramelized, cook gently another 10 minutes or so until amber brown/nicely caramelized (take your time, this is the key step to this recipe!)

Allow onions to cool.

Drag out your big ol' food processor…. puree the tofu completely, NO LUMPS, scrape down as needed. Blend in the mustard, garlic powder and nutritional yeast.

Finally, add the caramelized onions, pulse to combine, don't over do things, you want to have some texture with nice chunks of onion.

Transfer to container. Best to allow to set in the fridge overnight for the flavor to fully develop, but it's delicious straight from the food processor.

Serve at room temperature.

This is a GREAT recipe!

See ya next time!

xo

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014 Day 16: Food for Thought! Marathon, Florida … Wowza!

Scroll down for video.

Today I'm showing you video of a fantastic health food store and cafe' in the Florida Keys (Marathon to be precise) called Food for Thought. Last Year during MoFo I blogged about them, but this time we've got video!

There's so much I can say about Food for Thought, I LOVE them! Marathon was a desert for healthy food options until Ellin (owner) took the place over a few years ago, installed a commercial kitchen, scrubbed the place upside down, and breathed new life in. Now the place sparkles and shines like new, even though it's been up and running for years. Food for Thought specializes in organic (yay!) and gluten free (the REAL deal, yay!), plus they have a small thoughtful selection of books, some gift items (especially salt lamps, really beautiful salt lamps at such wonderful price points), and of course brings us the goods on organic fresh produce.

Of special note, which I really wish I mentioned in this video, is that they carry CBD Hemp Oil. Food for Thought has had many health focused presentations and guest speakers through the years, and we've been fortunate enough to attend several. Their most recent presentation just weeks ago was on CBD Hemp Oil, which of course we attended. I'm not sure that anyone else is even offering the CBD Hemp Oil in the Keys yet. 

During the shoot I also forgot to mention some of the eco-initiatives that are in place, including reusable silverware and dishes for those of us who choose to dine in ("to go" items are packed in bioboxes), recycling is on site, water is offered free from a dispenser in the cafe with reusable glasses, and most customers that I observe anytime I'm in there bring their own bags. Food for Thought also sells a really nice selection of reusable bags, including Chico Bags and string bags, all of which withstand MANY years of use (I can personally attest to that!)

My favorite thing at Food for Thought (other than the people… always the people…. they are ALL gems in there, trust me!) is the smell of food when I walk in. Their cafe menu is small, and excellent. It's almost 100% gluten free, all organic, and vegan. The store offers some non-vegan items, but honestly vegan items far outnumber non-veg based upon my observations and shopping experiences. There are some items I can't get anywhere else in the Keys except at Food for Thought. In small towns like where we live down here, cultivating a relationship with others in the community is the key to a happier life experience. Sue, who works at FFT, has transformed into a true animal advocate, and is one of the only people that I feel is a kindred spirit when it comes to animals, animal rights, and activism. In fact, Sue is doing the Farm Sanctuary's South Florida Walk for Animals this year (in October!) and Anna, who also works at Food for Thought, is now joining Sue on the walk. It makes me VERY happy to know there are advocates such as them in my backyard too, I can share thoughts and feelings with them that I wouldn't normally share with others…. basically a safety zone, but you already knew what I meant, right?

Ellin isn't on the video, I'm sorry to say! I wish she was. After we did the shoot, she magically appeared and sat in the cafe with us as we ate our lunches. We talked about Vegan MoFo, Thai cabbage salad that she's presently making by the mountainfuls to feed her addiction to same, and also touched on the health care industry (as far as the scary situation with the food offered when we get sucked into the vortex of medical care, yikes yikes yikes!)

Lunch was divine, I had a panini which I've been known to drive up and over that gosh darn bridge just for their paninis (if that's not devotion, then I don't know WHAT is!) Here's the video, I hope you love it. 


I'm sorry I couldn't take you with me up and down all the aisles. We tried… we actually shot a video that way for you, but it was painful on the eyes to watch, the aisles are a little skinny (so much product for us covering the space!) and there were too many people in the store to make it anything other than so jumpy (too many customers, LOL?!! happy problems!!!)

Thank you Food for Thought for having faith in this community…. for putting your money where your mouth is (literally!) and for bringing us some of the best stuff in the entire Florida Keys. We're fans for life, and look forward to every day with you in the heart of Marathon! Veg on, gluten free style!

See ya next time! xo


Monday, September 15, 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014 Day 15: Food Delivery, and a Community Action Hero/Activist

Scroll down for video.

Today our bulk food delivery arrived. Here in the Keys, we don't have too many options for natural food suppliers, and as a very small business Deer Run has even less options for wholesale delivery than larger businesses. I refuse to purchase from Sysco. Down throughout the Keys, Sysco trucks are a common sight. I practically cringe when I see them; it's doubtful they carry many (if any) organic options. Deer Run is fortunate to be included on an independent bulk route that comes through the Keys once a week. Included in their offerings are case lots of packaged organic and natural foods, as well as fresh organic produce. The sheets come through once a week for the fresh stuff, and I can decide if I need anything or not. Most everything is identified on the advance sheets with a country of origin (important to me, and I'm sure many others too), but if they're not identified, a simple email or phone call and secure that information. The route is currently being driven by a local community activist hero by the name of Patrick Garvey. Patrick is the CEO of the Growing Hope Initiative, which currently has a massive project right here on Big Pine Key of restoring something called the Grimal Grove. Later this week we're going to make a visit to Grimal Grove and shoot a MoFo video for you.

Today's video introduces you to Patrick Garvey. I cannot stress enough how important Patrick is for this community down here. He truly has a "what it takes" attitude and drive to accomplish his mission. He's got a very long road in front of him, but he knows this and is doing everything possible to get the job done in the bigger scheme of things… including driving a truck to make deliveries.

It's with a great amount of blood, sweat and tears that Patrick is revitalizing the Grimal Grove. Growing Hope is a non-profit, and accepts donations; you can read all about his project at www.growinghopeinitiative.org

This is the face of a local community activist, and hero……



See you next time with more MoFo love!

xo

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014 Day 14: Two GREAT Recipes and…. some REALLY bad bagels

Scroll down for video and recipes.

This video pretty much speaks for itself.




The fruits of my labors. NOM!

Recipe #1

Marinated Kale Salad
(from: www.katherinemartinelli.com)

Ooooo, this is soooooooo good……

Make ahead at least 1 hour to allow the kale to relax and absorb the great flavors

Juice of 2 lemons
1/3 cup olive oil (I reduce mine greatly, you do as you please)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (whole grain preferred, but not necessary)
salt and pepper (add as you please… for lower sodium people, omit the salt, you really won't miss it)
1 bunch kale (original recipe calls for laminate kale, however I prefer curly kale) … roughly chopped
1/4 cup Veggie Parm (Parma! or whatever brand you please) 

Whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, and mustard in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the kale, toss with your hands, and massage the vinaigrette into the kale.

Add the vegan Parm. This is optional, but it does make the recipe "pop." I typically do reduce the amount, but do as you please.

If possible (if you can stand waiting!) allow 1 hour prior to serving. Keep leftover (LEFTOVER?!! YOU KIDDING ME?) in a container in the fridge. Marinates well.

Recipe #2
Mustard Crusted Tofu w/kale and sweet potatoes
(from www.Food52.com)

So, when I made the video, we hadn't eaten this yet. As soon as the video was done, we got to business of eating… holy heck, this recipe is delicious.

1 pound extra firm tofu (pressed or drained; here I used my Tofu Xpress)
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
4T oil
1/2 onion, sliced
1T garlic (I used 3 large pieces)
1 bunch kale, chopped (I used curly)
1 small sweet potato (I doubled… I really like sweet potatoes, plus I had a giant head of kale)
2T lime juice (locals… use Key lime. I like lemon juice, so I used that)

Press and drain tofu. Cut into 8 slices. Spread with mustard. Heat 2 T olive oil in large skillet over medium heat, add onion and ginger, sauté 1 minute (note: the ingredients do not list ginger… but its in the text of the recipe. I didn't use ginger, I don't think I'd like the flavor with these ingredients…)  Add the sweet potato, kale and lime juice. Cover, lower heat, and cook about 10-12 minutes, til wilted.

NOTE: I did things differently… I heated the oil, then added the sweet potatoes because they take longer to cook. Then, when they were almost ready, I added the onion, sweated that out, and then added the kale and garlic, which I pressed. When it was almost all ready, I added the lemon juice.

Meanwhile, in another skillet, heat the remaining 2T oil (I used water). Add tofu, and cook a few minutes on each side til brown. Note: the recipe also says "mustard seeds" although that's not in the ingredient list. Don't worry, that's just another extra you don't need/won't miss. I didn't use them, and wouldn't want to anyway. So, as the tofu browned, I did brush a little bit more mustard on the tofu.

Arrange the kale/sweet potatoes on your plate, and place tofu slice on top.

Feast!

xo




Saturday, September 13, 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014 Day 13: Easy Peasy

Scroll down for video, and recipe.

I like to stay in bed and breakfasts as much as possible when I travel. Being that I'll be traveling, I reached out to a few inns to see if they would be able to accommodate vegans. I was exceptionally disappointed with the responses I received; they were so bad that so far we haven't found ANY conventional bed and breakfasts that we're willing to stay in. As a fellow hotelier, I feel food is part of the experience. I've been at this game a while now, and I've accommodated hundreds, if not thousands, of people with special needs. And, quite frankly I do NOT consider "vegan" a special need.

Today I was aggravated enough to google a few key words and see what came up on the internet for easy vegan items. To really prove my point, I picked one of the very first muffin recipes that popped up and decided to make it exactly as written, and see how it came out. I chose this recipe (given below) because other than a muffin pan, measuring spoons and the ingredients, the only other thing I needed to make the recipe was 1 fork and 1 bowl. The recipe had enough options to substitute that other than chia as maybe an "odd" ingredient (which really isn't that odd an ingredient, but regardless the comments had enough substitutions noted for chia if someone didn't have if, you could use applesauce for crap's sake) the stuff was probably things that most people would have lurking in their pantry. The muffins puffed up nicely, have a decent crumb, and aren't too cloying sweet. Totally do-able!

To put it bluntly: innkeepers if you cannot spend 5 minutes googling a recipe, and then another 10 minutes mixing ingredients you don't deserve my business.

I'll be staying in places that either have small kitchens or are located within striking distance for vegan cafes and restaurants. It's really a shame, and pretty pathetic in the hospitality industry, that this is where things stand as of right now on the vegan food issue.

Once I stayed at a bed and breakfast on the Jersey shore that was conventional. The innkeeper knew I was vegan, and said she could accommodate me. She completely blew me away with her grace and hospitality. She thought outside the box and served foods that were more "brunch" style, including Mediterranean plates. Things like tabbouleh, hummus, red peppers (that she roasted herself!), were plated with nuts, seeds and fruits alongside non-dairy milk. She also bought some of the most divine sugared olive oil Italian crispy flatbreads I've EVER had in my life. The effort she made has earned her MANY referrals from me since then.

How dare someone in the hospitality industry who is about to charge me several hundred dollars a night to stay in their beautiful inn think that unwrapping a banana and opening a box of orange juice will be acceptable. It's not, it's REALLY not. One of the points of Vegan MoFo (in my opinion) is to share with vegans and non-vegans the joy of vegan food. The joy of vegan living. The joy of living with compassion for our fellow creatures… unwrapping a banana and opening a box of juice is something I got used to at the hospital…. but I will not pay for that on vacation as part of an alleged upscale lodging experience.

Here's a video that all conventional innkeepers should watch. It's also pretty good if you're not vegan because you get a simple recipe, AND you find quite a nice assortment of things you can serve for breakfast when vegans (oh the horror!) stay with you. And, trust me, someday someway you WILL find yourself with a vegan in the house. Bake these muffins, and toast up a sprouted English muffin with a (non-dairy) schmear.  Kiss kiss, hug hug…. we'll love you forever darling!



Easy Peasy Banana Muffins
(recipe credit: www.sugarandcinnamon.com)

2 bananas, mashed
1/3 cup BREWED black coffee (yup)
3 tablespoons chia seeds mixed with 6 tablespoons water
1/2 cup vegan "butter" (i.e.: Earth Balance) OR 1/2 cup MINUS 1 TABLESPOON vegetable oil of choice (i.e.: canola, coconut, safflower, blah blah…)
1/2 cup maple syrup OR 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup white flour
1 cup wholemeal flour (or do as I did just use all white flour)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp each cinnamon and allspice (I didn't have allspice)

You can also add in mix-ins of choice: nuts, coconut flakes, vegan chocolate chips, blueberries, shredded apple, chopped pumpkin seeds, whatever rocks your world…)

Preheat oven to 325. Line muffin tin with liners OR spray with non-stick spray (don't use butter flavor, likely NOT VEGAN). You can use a stand mixer, but I used a fork and a bowl: mash vegan butter/oil with sugar til combined. Add in the chia mixture. Stir in the coffee and bananas. Add in the dry ingredients, and mix til combined. Add your mix-ins if using. Spoon into prepared tin, and bake about 25 minutes.

The original author used this recipe as a banana bread recipe. You can do that, obviously, simply prepare a loaf pan, spoon the batter in, and double the baking time. I'm partial to muffins, so much quicker!

xo



Friday, September 12, 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014 Day 12: Thrift Shops and Yes I Love Wigs

Scroll down for video.

Today was rainy and gloomy. I managed a run between the deluges, but spent the better part of the day in the kitchen playing with recipes. I hoped to post a recipe for a lentil loaf here, but it really sucked. I'm choking some down now smothered in ketchup (one of the last bottles of Annie's I'll ever use).

I like poking around in thrift shops, ya really never know what you'll find. I'm partial to kitchen items. I like to purchase items in good condition, and only things I have a purpose for. There are some items, as a vegan, I'd never consider (for example a deep fryer… not that I'd want one anyway since I do not fry things, but I'm pretty sure I'd never get the stink of death out of it enough for me to feel good enough to use it even if I wanted one). Over the years I've made some really great purchases for my kitchen, and this short video opens up my cabinets for you to see some of my favorite thrift shop kitchen buys. I do not look for "commercial grade" when I buy stuff… I want "commercial." I look for the NSF stamp. I am also very partial to stainless steel, and things that are exceptionally durable since I put almost everything through my superheated dishwasher which will melt many plastics. If I purchase something and I'm not happy with it, I simply donate it back to a thrift shop, no biggie. At this point in my life, there are very few occasions when I sell an item, instead I'm much more about donating. Here in the Keys, I've got a "pecking" order of what I will donate where. Someone is always in need, and for me it's better to donate an item than for me to have those few extra dollars in my pocket. This is my personal choice, and I'm happy to be as fortunate as I am to be able to do things this way. There was a time in my life when things were not that way, so I'm kinda paying it forward in my later years.



By the way…. the wig? Thrift shop (yes, I washed it!) The glasses? Vintage. Thrift shop. Earrings? Ditto. The apron is from Herbivore Clothing, that is one of my most favorite purchases (perhaps THE favorite item) I've ever gotten from them. I don't buy everything at thrift shops, of course not. I've invested in some very high end items for my kitchen, so it makes me smile a little bit when I find something like a $3 stainless steel hand pump foamer (vegan foam!) I'm sure you "get" that, right?

Happy shopping, and see ya next time right here for MoFo!

xo


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Vegan MoFo 2014 Day 11: Key West - Help Yourself Cafe & Grocery

Video below.

Tonight I made vegan chili with leftover organic black beans that were dying in my relatively empty fridge. I added carrot coins to it; chili purists please don't hold it against me.

Let's get going on today's MoFo video, shall we?

Believe it or not, we had to be back in Key West today, this time for business. We scraped up what we could to look "official" since we were going to a place where togs from the free box just won't cut it, combed our hair, and did our best to look presentable (that explains what I'm wearing in this video, plus you can't see them, but I'm actually wearing heels, holy organic bananas). Once the official business was over, we were hungry so we headed over to Help Yourself on Fleming Street for something good to eat. We both had the same thing, my absolute favorite smoothie there is called a Chocolate Buzz. It has banana, cacao powder, cacao nibs, coconut milk and coconut palm sugar. This place is straight up fabulous, meaning they're all organic, they make stuff on site from their scratch kitchen, and that translates to a merchant who can accommodate many special requests. Whenever I get a Chocolate Buzz, I always leave out the coconut palm sugar.  Today I asked for some organic kale to be tossed in; their reply? "no problem!" My kinda place!

We drank our smoothies, roamed around to see what was new, saw a few familiar faces, and did a quick video tour for MoFo of the wonderful and fabulous Help Yourself. What we love so much about them (besides the great people there!) is the mission of this place, which is to bring nutritious organic food to our community. There is mindful thought in every aspect of this business: they will not use plastic bags (bring your own please!), they have compostable/degradable utensils and "to go" packaging;  recycling is essentially mandatory (a big deal in Key West as the City of Key West has actually and unbelievably EXEMPTED businesses from recycling!-- why? well, anecdotal evidence supports my opinion that it's because 1 or 2 of the City Commissioners own tourist attractions in Key West, including bars, which produce A LOT of waste that could be recycled, but either they find it too expensive, or too inconvenient, to comply with the "request for recycling" that has been put in place for the residents…. and no, I'm not kidding about any of this). But, on top of all this, they're ORGANIC!!! The items offered for sale in the store are of the best quality. Many fairly traded and ethically traded items are available. Although this is not a vegan grocery or cafe, this is a place where it's easy to find and abundant selection of wonderful vegan products and food. People who have special considerations for eating are well taken care of in here as well. I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that they do carry my own professional line of baked goods as well, which to me is a huge compliment in that they feel confident enough in the quality and consistency of my products to offer them side by side with the best of the best.

Help Yourself also likes to try new things (OMG…. the watermelon lemonade I had there once I still pine for, same can be said for the grape lemonade I had once, just once) That's another thing about Help Yourself and the special food items they make and offer… if you see something you like while you're there, grab it as it may never come around again. They work with what they have available, what's fresh, and what's seasonal. It's imperative, in my opinion, for communities like mine to support businesses like this. They are exactly what this world needs, what my community needs, and I cannot imagine being here without them. The cost of running a business like Help Yourself I am sure is quite high. The cost of not supporting a business like this…. even higher.

Enjoy the video, and when in town make Help Yourself a "must visit" during your stay!


See you next time, you bet with more MoFo love! xo