Guest Blogger: Vegan Unite – Interview with Vegan shop Soutache owner Dorota Nocun

23 Jul

There’s a new vegan company around called Vegan Unite, oddly enough. In their own words, “Vegan Unite is a community that believes in ethical consumerism and eco-friendly products. We are a community that sells and buys to support each other. Every little change that we make in our daily habits makes a difference and supporting someone that is like-minded makes a greater impact.”

Vegan Unite has merchant interviews and here’s with the owner of Soutache Shop. Check out their links on their site, facebook, twitter, instagram, and tumblr. Welcome Vegan Unite!

We got an interview vegan Dorota Nocun the owner of Soutache Shop on Vegan Unite.


What is the story behind your company/product?

My Mum has been a fan of soutache jewelry for a long time. However, she discovered that the majority of soutache  jewelry is made with silk, leather and other animal-derived products.

We’ve put our heads together to come up with something that is both beautiful and doesn’t cause unnecessary suffering. We managed to find non-silk braids, non-wool felt and eco/vegan friendly fake leather. We also asked our friends and relatives to give us their old/unused jewelry so we could recycle the beads and we combed through second-hand shops looking for vintage buttons. All set up and ready to go we started working on our first designs. It took me months to create anything worth showing, but my Mum made a stunning necklace on the first try! She is extremely talented and makes the majority of our designs. Some of the more intricate pieces take weeks to finish. I admire her patience.

The first soutache necklace she made was bought within days and a few months later we decided to open a store online. As far as I’m aware we are the only completely vegan shop that sells soutache jewelry. I am currently living in the UK and my Mum is back in Poland, but we make it work. I mostly manage and promote the store, Beata (my mum) spends every free minute working on the jewelry (she also has a full time job)

We are a tiny company, but we have sold to people all over the world: France, Germany, Holland, Australia, USA, UK and others. We’ve also have been featured twice in WILDFIRE – an Australian all-vegan magazine, which we are very proud of. We try to support a variety of charities whenever possible. Currently we are donating some of our jewelry to help Roxie and her 11 puppies. Please search for ‘Roxy And Her 11 Puppies Need You’ on Facebook to read her story.


Do you offer custom work?

Yes we do. Send us your idea/design and we can make it happen!


When did you start your company?

We opened our first online shop two years ago, but my Mum has been making different kinds of jewelry for years.

Where does the inspiration come from?

We both get inspired by nature, music, other cultures and the world around us. I’ve been to Poland last week and put together a few ideas. Can’t wait to see them come to life! :)

Where are you located and where do you ship to?

I am in the UK and my Mum is in Poland. We ship worldwide.


(Dorota Nocun & Her Mum)

When did you choose the cruelty-free lifestyle and why?

I stopped eating meat when I was 13 after I’ve seen footage from a slaughter house. Even though I was the only vegetarian I knew, and most of my relatives panicked I would die a quick and gruesome death by starvation, my parents were supportive. My Mum adapted our kitchen to my new lifestyle choices and since I became vegan two years ago she found and mastered tons of vegan recipes to cook whenever we see each other. Her vegan cheesecake is to die for! She’s been introducing her friends and our family to vegan food and lifestyle and thanks to her a number of people including my Dad and Grandma are eating less and less meat. I am very proud of her. Vegan diet is still very unusual in Poland.

I live in a 100% vegan household in Liverpool, UK, with my vegan boyfriend and our dog, Boo.

What is your favourite Vegan Snack?

There is far too many! But if I had to name one it would probably be Booja-Booja truffles. Thankfully they are quite expensive so I can’t eat them all the time, because trust me I would if I could afford it! lol

If you could have any animal as a pet, what would you pick? And why?

I share my life with a doggie, called Boo, and I wouldn’t trade him for anything. Not even for a unicorn! I love him SO very much. (Boo has been fed vegan food since he was a tiny puppy and he is in perfect health BTW)

Our Vegan Unite shop:

Our Facebook page:

Pinterest board:




Guest Blogger: Cheeky-vegan – VLT Open Sandwich: Seitan ‘Bacon’, Lettuce & Tomato with a Sicilian Tomato & White Bean Purée

22 Jul

Welcome back Sian! Sian White is from the UK and author of The Cheeky Vegan. Last time Sian was on VBU! she contributed her Thai-Style Squash and Tofu Curry recipe. Do give it a try and let her know VBU! sent you. Welcome back Sian!

Seitan Bacon. Or what I like to call ‘Beican’.

Vegan BLT open sandwich on homemade wholemeal bread with a Sicilian inspired tomato and white bean purée.


Ok, I feel the need to justify this slightly, as I stated very bluntly in my about page that I don’t miss the taste of bacon. It’s true, I don’t. I never find myself thinking ‘I could murder a bacon bap’, and just last week a colleague of mine stank out the office with the smell of bacon, and it didn’t affect me. Naturally many other colleagues developed food envy and an entire conversation about how great bacon is followed (with yours truly keeping very quiet).

I’m not fussed about the taste of bacon, but I know a lot of people who are. You cannot deny that there are a lot of vegan ‘bacon’ recipes out there, ranging from aubergine (eggplant) to dried coconut flakes. Clearly some vegans are craving a crispy, salty sandwich filling.

What I am interested in is seitan – I find it fascinating. It’s so easy to make from scratch and it’s extremely versatile in terms of flavour and cooking method. Simmered and sliced, it makes a perfect, juicy centrepiece for a traditional roast dinner. Baked, it takes on a chewy and dense texture which makes an amazing sandwich filling. Obviously it has many more uses, but I’m not going to list them here. Instead I’m going to tell you how to make seitan that tastes and feels like bacon.

[A note to UK readers – seitan isn’t as well known here as it is overseas, so don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of it. It’s a meat substitute made with Vital Wheat Gluten, which is basically flour with the starch washed out of it. Unless you live in an area with a large whole foods shop nearby, VWG is easier to buy online, and I get mine from Honest to Goodness, where it is reasonably priced and delivered very promptly.]

If you’re planning on making this whole thing from scratch, you’ll need a little forward planning, as baking bread and seitan at the same time is a little hardcore. Make the seitan on one evening and the bread the following day. If you have a bread maker, you could get away with making them both at the same time, it’s entirely up to you. If you have a short attention span like me, and have a tendency to get distracted by video games and Adventure Time, it’s probably wise to spread this over a couple of days.

Of course, using shop-bought bread is perfectly acceptable. I won’t judge.

CHEAT ALERT: If you have a bread maker, you can definitely afford to be lazy with this – seitan made in a bread maker comes out just as good and simply involves pressing a button and having the afternoon off. Bread maker recipe adapted below.



Seitan Bacon

  • 1.5 cups Vital Wheat Gluten
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp liquid smoke
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp BBQ sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1-3 garlic cloves, crushed


Please note I’m not going to provide a recipe for the bread, as there are a million of them out there, and I just whipped this up quickly in the bread maker. This post is really all about the ‘beican’ and I want to keep it that way.


Pre-heat oven to 160° C. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly to create a dough. It will feel slightly greasy to the touch. Knead for about 5-10 minutes (depending on your kneading skills) until gluten strings develop and the dough starts to feel quite tough. Try to keep it in a slightly flat ‘slab’, to ensure thin bacon-like slices at the end. Wrap in foil and bake for an hour.

Important note: When the seitan comes out of the oven it will only be partially cooked. If you don’t wish to fry it afterwards, then bake for about 90 minutes in total. However bear in mind that you won’t get the crispy exterior that comes with frying. I take it out after an hour while it’s still slightly doughy in the middle, slice it thinly and then fry it over a high heat in some olive oil. This makes it go lovely and crispy on the outside, while remaining chewy on the inside. Make sure the oil and pan are very hot before you add the seitan, and only fry it for about 30 seconds to a minute on each side. Keep an eye on it, as once it burns it’s not very nice!

Only fry what you need at the time – the rest can be wrapped in cling film and will keep in the fridge for about a week.

If you’re using a bread maker, start by adding all the wet ingredients. Then add the VWG and sprinkle other dry ingredients on top of this. Set to a manual cycle with about 5-10 minutes of kneading and 60 minutes of baking. If your machine doesn’t allow you to cut rise sequences, just reduce to the minimum time allowed. It won’t affect the seitan.

Once the seitan is ready, construct your VLT by spreading the Sicilian purée on your bread, piling on some shredded lettuce, a couple of slices of tomato and then layering on some lovely beican. Enjoy with hash browns. Gobble while it’s hot.



Guest Blogger: New Vegan Age – Elizabeth Castoria interview

2 Jul

Please welcome back the ever wonderful Tom from New Vegan Age. Tom has been a guest blogger on VBU! a few times: Vegan CreedHarvey Diamond InterviewVegans are good for your restaurant’s business (Kim Stahler)World Vegan DayA Perfect Time to Stop eating AnimalsSupport vegan business and organizations. Please follow on New Vegan Age on the blog. Welcome back Tom!


Interview by Tom Epler Elizabeth Castoria is not yet a mononymic vegan like Isa or Victoria, Gene or Wayne, but with last month’s publication of How to be Vegan (Artisan, 2014), the former Editorial Director of VegNews is well on her way. The well-written, beautifully-designed handbook makes a great gift for vegan-curious friends and colleagues, since it’s fun, conversational, and informative without being preachy or pretentious.

This week, Elizabeth answered a few questions about her vegan journey, her tenure at VegNews, and the publication of her colorful, fact-filled new book. I recommend ordering a copy for yourself, friends, and family—even though I don’t normally encounter words like “zillion” or “nohow,” I loved How to be Vegan, because reading it felt like a conversation with a fun, enthusiastic friend.New Vegan Age: Why, when, and how did you become vegan? Did you have any close vegan friends or family members who modeled or encouraged veganism?
Elizabeth Castoria: I went vegan when I was about 17. I had already been a vegetarian for a few years before that, and then made the switch after learning more about the issues. (And, yes, I did this learning by way of the cute vegan skater dude whom I was dating at the time!) There was actually a small group of friends in my hometown who were vegan, so that definitely eased the transition.
NVA: How did your daily work as Editorial Director at VegNews help develop your ability to engage readers in the book’s chapters and capsules?
EC: Through my work at the magazine, I definitely got to develop both my writing and the ability to represent ideas visually, like the little charts and graphs in the book. It’s really fun to add another layer of content that helps convey ideas in a different way.
NVA: What was glamorous about your time at VegNews? Travel? Parties? What might people be surprised to learn made it difficult?
EC: Ha! I don’t know that I’d use the word “glamorous” necessarily. I did have the chance to meet and work with so many wonderful, amazing people in the vegan world, and report on all the completely inspiring work that they were doing. That was such a rewarding part of the job!
NVA: Your book tackles some difficult and serious topics (animal cruelty, nutrition, and factory farming) in an informative, yet non-accusatory and non-judgmental way. Did you ever have trouble striking that balance?
EC: When I first went vegan, I definitely had a different approach than I do now (admittedly, this was when I was a teenager, so I was a little bit more brash in general!). The older I get, the more I realize that people are dealing with different things in their lives—sometimes even depending on the day!—so it’s really important to just meet people where they are and provide information so that people can make their own choices. Nobody likes being yelled at or talked down to (least of all me!).
NVA: Well, we hope the response since publication last month has been great. Your audience for this book is non-vegans; it introduces them to our world. Since you’ve been vegan for so many years, was it ever difficult to keep that newness in mind? Did you keep a particular non-vegan friend or family member in mind as you were writing?
EC: That was one of the really fun challenges of writing the book—going back and re-thinking through all those questions that someone who is new to veganism would have to ask themselves. I have a number of non-vegan friends and family members, and over the years the questions they’ve asked me about how I live this way definitely all bubbled up when I was writing the book.
NVA: The book is fun and well-written, and the charts, flowcharts, and Venn diagrams were unusually informative and useful. (The “Food or Not Food?” pop quiz neatly summarizes what it takes many other writers—including this one—entire blogs to develop). Do you think, or even doodle, in graphic representations?
EC: Thank you! I really enjoyed getting to come up with the concepts for the sidebars. Making graphic elements is definitely something that I learned working on the magazine content, and I always love seeing how other publications (in print and online) use graphics to tell stories, so it does seem like an ingrained part of storytelling now. (Though, I have to say, I’m immensely grateful for the amazing job that the design team did on the graphics, because the sketches I sent over were these horribly drawn little stick figures!)
NVA: They’re sophisticated, with lots of great info, but somehow simple—condensed, clean, and inviting. I also really liked your meal-planning encouragement to enjoy beans, fruits, and vegetables for their own sake, and not to always seek out processed replacements for things we were accustomed to eating as omnivores. Has that appreciation come for you in time?
EC: You know, I love eating a variety of things—including vegan meats and ice creams and that sort of thing—but one of the main things I wanted to convey in that section was just that there are so incredibly many varieties of fruits, veggies, beans, and grains that people might not be familiar with or not be in the routine of eating. For anyone, vegan or otherwise, it’s important to try new things!
NVA: Agreed! Have you ever successfully introduced a friend, family member, or reader (through VegNews or this book) to veganism? How does it feel to know that, with this book, you’ll likely be doing that for strangers for years and decades to come?
EC: I love your vision of the future! (And I really hope you’re right—I’d love to be helpful for decades!!) All the feedback so far on the book has been really positive, which is incredibly satisfying, and it sounds as though people are finding it useful. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that even folks who have been vegan for years are getting handy tidbits out of the book. It’s all been such a fantastic experience!
NVA: It must be something to “cross over,” from covering authors to being covered as one. What else are you up to these days? Any interesting plans or projects on the horizon?
EC: I’ve been developing a new project, but it’s still very nascent, so I won’t go into it too much. The newest thing so far has been that I’ve started blogging on my website (, which has been a fun challenge! I’ve been creating content in the framework of other organizations for a long time, so it’s really fun to think of the kind of content that I want to create on my own. 
NVA: Thank you, Elizabeth! Please let us know when the new project is ready.

Guest Blogger: Ordinary Vegan – A World Without Fish & Stir-Fried Vegan Chicken in Coconut Buns

19 Jun

Looks like Nancy M – author of Ordinary Vegan is back. Click here for Nancy’s first contribution, a fantastic recipe for a No Bake Vegan Ricotta Lasagna. Doesn’t that sound delicious?

You can find Nancy on her blogFacebook, and Twitter.  Let’s welcome back Nancy to VBU!

A World Without Fish & Stir-Fried Vegan Chicken in Coconut Buns

Vegan Stir-Fry in Coconut Buns

Last week I was very honored to have an article published in T. Colin Campbell’s Center for Nutrition Studies. Since today is Earth Day, I am sharing that article about the environment and how we can help to protect it.

A World Without Fish: The Link Between Personal Action and The Environment

Last year I received my Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s online course at eCornell. I was very excited to learn more about Dr. Campbell’s philosophy on food and the connection between food and disease. One thing I wasn’t expecting was an eye-opening lecture from Bruce Monger, PhD about the environmental impact of food production on the ocean. Bruce Monger, PhD teaches oceanography in the department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Cornell University. He is also involved in numerous projects and studies involving whales and our ocean’s ecosystem.

One of the most enlightening details I learned from Dr. Monger was how nutrient runoff from agriculture, specifically fertilizer, which is primarily nitrogen, stimulates exceptionally strong growth of algae. So what is wrong with algae you might ask? When algae dies, bacteria consumes the dead algae for food, but that’s not all it consumes. It also consumes all the oxygen in the water. Simply put, the more nutrients you dump in the ocean, the more algae it produces which increases the amount of bacteria that eats the algae, and the oxygen in the water. This reduces the oxygen to zero and any fish you can think of needs oxygen to live. When a region’s oxygen is down to zero, the ocean floor is completely uninhabitable by any organism that requires oxygen for growth. This is called a “dead zone.” With the increasing use of fertilizer for factory farms, the more dead zones we have popping up around the globe suffocating our marine life.

Sadly, the agriculture industry in the USA is about to become larger. China is the world’s top dairy importer and American dairy farmers are seizing the opportunity to hawk their dairy products to Chinese consumers. According to the U.S. Dairy Export Council, shipments to China alone grew to $706 million last year, up from $137 million in 2009. Unfortunately, it gets worse. China’s largest meat producer has just acquired US pork giant Smithfield which is the globe’s largest hog producer. The deal is to send the USA made pork to China to meet their increasing demands for meat, relegating us to be one big factory farm for China.

The quickest solution to this imminent threat is to eliminate our own consumption of factory farmed products including meat and dairy. We are the solution the world is waiting for. We can take care of this problem. We have the power and what would be the downside? Our health would improve, our skin would glow, we would lose weight and reduce the risk of suffering from a chronic disease in our lifetime. It is that simple. Your personal actions can save yourself, marine life and the ocean. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Now on to delicious plant-based vegan food. I am always on the look-out for healthy meatless family dinners. I think this vegan chicken stir fry fits the bill. The kids will love the soft, sweet coconut buns and the stir fry is a great way to sneak lots of vegetables into your family’s diet. I used a product called Beyond Meat Seasoned Vegan Chicken. All Beyond Meat products have non-gmo ingredients, are gluten-free and kosher. The chicken is made with pea protein and amaranth and should satisfy your meat eaters. Hope you enjoy this plant-based vegan recipe as much as I did. Always remember, every plant-based meal you serve has a positive impact on the environment and the future of our children. Happy Earth Day!

Stir-Fried Vegan Chicken in Coconut Buns
Recipe Type: Main
Author: Ordinary Vegan
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 2-3
I used a two-tier bamboo steamer basket to steam my buns but you could use any kind of steamer over a pan of medium heat boiling water. Also, get creative with those vegetables. Anything goes in a stir-fry.
  • Coconut Buns
  • 1 14-ounce can of light coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cup of self-raising flour (If you don’t have self-raising flour – make your own by combining 1 3/4 cups regular flour with 3 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon of salt)
  • Chicken stir-fry
  • 6 ounces of vegan chicken (or tofu)
  • 1 teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 mushrooms, any kind, sliced
  • 1 small red fresno chili, chopped (optional)
  • 1 small bunch broccolini, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce (and extra for dipping)
  • 2 tablespoons of lightly toasted sesame seeds
  • Lime wedges to serve
Coconut buns
  1. Put the flour, maple syrup and coconut milk into a food processor and process until a dough forms. Remove and lightly knead the dough on a lightly foured surface. You may need a little four because it is a wet dough. Roll out 4 to 5 balls of dough. Place the balls into paper muffin holders and place into the steamer basket with lid, in a single layer. I like to use a bamboo steamer. Place the covered steamer over a pan of boiling water and steam for 10 minutes.
  1. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken, mushrooms and chili with the hoisin sauce. Set aside.
  2. Heat a medium non-stick pan and lightly toast the sesame seeds. Set aside.
  3. Place the broccolini in a steamer and steam for 3-5 minutes or until bright green and still has some firmness. You could also place in a microwave-safe container and microwave for 1 minute.
  4. Heat the oil in the pan you used for sesame seeds. When hot, add the vegan chicken mixture and saute for 5 minutes. Add the broccolini and saute another minute or two.
  5. Place the chicken and vegetables onto a plate. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Serve with some hoisin sauce on the side and lime wedges.
  6. Cut hot coconut buns in half and spoon vegan chicken mixture in, squeeze a lime wedge over it, a little extra hoisin sauce and eat.

Guest Blogger: Gormandize – Fennel & Cabbage Tahini Slaw with Chickpeas and Cashews

29 May

Always a pleasure to welcome back a returning contributor to VBU! Please raise a fork to Keely, author of Gormandize. Her previous recipes have been lovely, please do check them out: Turnovers (Paifala)Vegan Bean and Mushroom Jambalaya, and Chai Banana Loaf,

Connect with her on: FacebookTwitterPinterest and of course her blog Gormandize. Welcome back Keely!

I call this little creation a ‘tahini slaw’ – it’s essentially a coleslaw but the bulk of the creamy dressing is made from delicious nutritious tahini rather than lots of gluggy and nutritionally deficient mayonnaise. It’s versatile, of course, so feel free to make your own adaptations. In this recipe I’ve used not just cabbage but thinly sliced fennel which gives it a wonderful crisp flavour and I’ve added a can of chickpeas to bulk it up a bit and turn it into a main event dish rather than a side. If you’re just bringing it along to a bbq then you can choose to omit the chickpeas.

This recipe makes enough for 2-3 people to have a big bowl of it for lunch or dinner, or for 4-6 people to have as a side salad.

Fennel & Cabbage Tahini Slaw with Chickpeas and Cashews

1/4 medium green cabbage (you can substitute purple cabbage or a mixture of both)
1/2 large fennel bulb
1 small Spanish onion
1 small granny smith apple
1 400g can of chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup roasted cashews
2 tbsp unhulled tahini
1 tsp vegan mayonniase
1 tsp soy sauce
Juice of small 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
Cracked pepper, to taste
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, washed and halved.

To Make
1. Very thinly slice the cabbage, fennel bulb and Spanish onion and toss together in a bowl. Cut the core out of the apple and cut into thin matchsticks. Add to the salad along with the chickpeas. Once you’ve added the apple, sprinkle a bit of the lemon juice over the salad to stop the apple going brown while you make the dressing.
2. Combine the tahini, mayonnaise, soy sauce, remaining lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl or jar. Mix well to combine. It may be very thick at this stage, but don’t worry it will thin out as you mix it through the salad. Season to taste with cracked pepper.
3. Add the tahini dressing to the salad and mix thoroughly until the salad is evenly coated with the dressing. Break up the cashews a bit with your hands and toss them in along with the halved cherry tomatoes. Mix well and serve garnished with extra cashews (optional).

Notes: You can use the cherry tomatoes to decorate the top instead of mixing them through if you like. 

Serves 2-3 as a main or 4-6 as a side salad.

Guest Blogger: Lizz Delicious – Beer Banana Cake with Whisky Cream Cheese Icing

27 May

Our newest VBU! contributor is Lizz, author of Lizz Delicious. I am incredibly curious about Lizz’s recipe contribution as it really sound decadent and interesting – in a good way! Great way to start off a day with an alcohol dessert. Here’s Lizz in her own words, “My name is Lizz and I started my vegan food blog in 2011. Lizz Delicious shares my love of vegan food through original recipes, restaurant features, personal stories, and more with a Texas twist.” Find Lizz Delicious on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Twitter. Welcome Lizz!


After dinner Wednesday I was sitting on the couch thinking to myself, “I want to make cupcakes. But I also want to make bread. And, hey, I have some super ripe bananas, too. I should make banana bread as well.” But that sounded like way too much work for a weeknight (I think you’ll agree) and as I sat and pondered which of these things I would like more, Chris mentioned that the growler she had filled with beer from the Drafthouse wasn’t getting used enough and would soon go flat, something more awesome and even more wonderful sounding sprang into my mind.

I’ve never seen beer and bananas combined, but the idea sounded amazing to me that night. And I already had purchased vegan cream cheese to make frosting for cupcakes. So far, this all sounded intriguing, but there was another element I felt it needed. After a few moments, I sat upright on the sofa, turned to Chris and exclaimed, “beer banana sheet cake with whisky cream cheese frosting!”

And in a flash, I was kitchen bound. Not a minute too soon, either, as I didn’t find myself enjoying a piece until 9:30 that night. Phew!

I based this recipe on the one for Best-Ever Banana Bread found in my cookbook, Vegan Glass Jar Goodies, which includes nine other fantastic and tasty recipes for vegan baked goods and other delicacies which can be prepared by oneself or given to others as gifts, in jars of course. I decreased the liquid in my original recipe somewhat and added 1/2 cup of Chris’s beer. The frosting made just enough, and I’m so pleased with it I might use the recipe for any and every other type of cake I make in the future. I love me some whisky. Neither flavor is overwhelming. I would say, it tastes very similar to their original versions- just BETTER. I think you should try it out and see what you think. So, here you go.


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cups turbinado sugar

2 very ripe mashed bananas

1/4 cup soymilk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup beer

Walnut or pecan pieces, optional


In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. Add the soymilk, vegetable oil, and beer and whisk together. Add the dry ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon. Pour the batter into a lightly oiled 8×8 baking dish and place in a 350 degree preheated oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for at least five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Don’t frost the cake if warm!


3 tablespoons plain vegan cream cheese

1 tablespoon vegan butter

2 tablespoons whisky

1 1/2 cups organic powdered sugar


Add the cream cheese substitute and vegan butter to a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 30-45 seconds until they begin to soften, then whisk until smooth and creamy. Add the whisky and mix again. Slowly add your powdered sugar, sifting as you do, to ensure your frosting is not clumpy. Mix with a handheld mixer until sugar is incorporated. If desired, you can microwave the whisky with the cream cheese sub and butter, to bake off some of the alcoholic content. Pour the frosting onto the center of the cooled cake and then smooth over the top with a silicon or rubber spatula. Cut into pieces and enjoy!

Makes 12 square sized servings.


Guest Blogger: Ordinary Vegan – No Bake Vegan Ricotta Lasagna

26 May

Hurray for new VBU! contributors! Please meet Nancy M – author of Ordinary Vegan. Nancy has a fantastic recipe for a No Bake Vegan Ricotta Lasagna. Doesn’t that sound delicious? I’m also digging the ‘no bake part’. Here is Nancy in her own words, “I’m Nancy M – A free-spirited music loving girl who just wants everyone to get along. The movie, “Forks Over Knives” inspired me to live a vegan life. My hope is to inspire others by sharing my experiences, tips and recipes to make it as easy as possible for you to choose a a plant-based diet. Be forewarned – becoming vegan will change your life forever! Welcome to Ordinary Vegan.”

You can find Nancy on her blog, Facebook, and Twitter. Let’s welcome Nancy to VBU!



no bake vegan ricotta lasagna 680

“The steeper the climb, the greater the view”
Vegan Actor, Musician, Jared Leto

This week I was thinking about my hard won epiphany. It was the moment I realized that I can survive and be happy without something I always thought I needed to exist. I could never have experienced that spiritual awakening had I not changed my diet three years ago. Before I became vegan, I always felt like I was walking around a jungle with a machete in my hand, carving my path one underbrush at a time. After I became vegan, I didn’t need that machete anymore. The jungle dissolved and I could see everything I needed to know about the world. I wasn’t alone anymore. My existence was interconnected to everything around me.

It all began when I started to feel my energy change. It was probably about 3 or 4 months into my vegan diet. My first inkling of things to come was when I started to get rid of that scared part of myself. That part of me that used to hold me back. But that wasn’t the only thing. My diet provided me with energy, peace, contentment and more love for all sentient beings. It took me awhile to understand how it all tied into veganism, but when you ditch eating animals, not only does your health improve, but you are making a powerful connection to the world by saving animals and the planet. You can’t help but become more evolved.

I believe no matter where you are in your vegan journey, full-time or part-time, you can experience this same spiritual growth. Every plant based meal you consume or serve to your family is cultivating compassion for the world. The more plant based meals you eat, the more powerful the results.

Now on to food. Oh my goodness! This no bake ricotta lasagna was so clean, fresh and yummy. You can use whatever vegetables you desire, and cook them (or not) in whatever way you want. There are certain vegetables I like to blanch and certain vegetables I like grilled. So these are personal choices. You can also make your own vegan ricotta or do what I did. I used a commercial (no oil) vegan ricotta provided to me by those two awesome young women, Susana and Marika, from Avellena who were trying to raise money for their cheese through Indigogo. The good news is they raised enough money and met their goal so hopefully we will see this yummy cheese on store shelves soon. My assistant and I shared this vegan ricotta lasagna for lunch and her quote was:

“If all vegan cheese tasted like this, I could definitely go vegan”

Hands down, Avellena is winning the #vegancheesewars so far. Hope you enjoy this plant based recipe as much as we did. Wishing you a compassionate week and thanks for being part of our plant based community.


No Bake Ricotta Lasagna with Zucchini, Spinach, Asparagus & Tomatoes
Recipe Type: Main
Author: Ordinary Vegan
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Serves: 4
I used vegetable broth instead of oil to saute the garlic and tomatoes. If necessary, keep adding more to keep the vegetables from sticking.
  • 8 Asparagus, trimmed
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh spinach
  • 2 zucchini, thinly sliced (preferably on a mandoline)
  • 3 cups mixed red & yellow cherry tomatoes, halved (approximately 2 pints)
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth plus 2/3 cup divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 fresh ground black pepper
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 cup vegan ricotta cheese
  • 2/3 cup fresh basil, chopped (& some for garnish)
  1. Fill a large non-stick skillet with water half way up. Bring to boil and add asparagus. Cook for 3-5 minutes making sure you don’t overcook and it still has a bite. Remove from simmering water.
  2. Add spinach and blanch for one minute. Set aside.
  3. Heat a non-stick small grill pan. When it is very hot add the zucchini and grill on each side for one minute or two. Just until it has some good grill marks. (Or you can just blanch or eat raw if you don’t want to go through the trouble of grilling.)
  4. Pour out the water in the large non-stick skillet, wipe dry and heat the 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth. Add the garlic and cook until soft about 1-2 minutes. Add 2 cups tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook until soft. About 5 minutes. Add vegetable stock. Simmer about 1-2 minutes. Add remaining cup of tomatoes and cook until warm, another 2 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook lasagna according to package instructions until it is al dente. Drain
  6. Toss pasta in skillet to coat. Stir in the basil, reserving some for garnish.
  7. Divide pasta among 4 plates. Add a teaspoon or two of ricotta and some spinach leaves onto each lasagna sheet. Roll up each lasagna sheet. Top each plate evenly with the asparagus, zucchini and cherry tomato mixture. Sprinkle each plate with fresh basil and fresh ground black pepper. Serve. Don’t worry if it cools down, this dish tastes great at room temperature.


Guest Blogger: The Cheeky Vegan – Thai-Style Squash and Tofu Curry

22 May

Our newest VBU! contributor is Sian White, from the UK and author of The Cheeky Vegan. She is an animal-loving, seitan-simmering vegan with a passion for good food and a penchant for general geekery. Plays well with others. In her About Me section, she writes, “This blog is a space dedicated to that thing I love: food. I’m beginning to develop my own recipes, and there are a few cookbook ideas floating around my brain. All in good time.I realised that I have a passion for cooking. Going vegan was a pivotal moment for me, because it forced me to address what foods I was eating, and I began to cook everything from scratch. There is an amazing variety of readymade products these days, but the real fun has come from learning what my body needs to survive, alternative sources for these nutrients, and therefore the discovery of ingredients I never knew existed. I’ve always been a foodie, but I’ve never enjoyed food so much as I do now.”

Such a lovely way to say what we all feel. Please find Sian on her blog. Welcome Sian!


As I mentioned here, my journey to veganism began in Thailand when I spent two weeks travelling with a vegan called Nic. Whilst in Chiang Mai we signed up for a cookery class which, of course, had to allow for Nic’s diet. She found an adorable vegetarian restaurant called Taste of Heaven which did just that. For 950B (£19) we did a morning class where we learned to cook 9 different vegan Thai dishes. I think I can safely speak for both of us when I say that this dish in particular stood out among the rest.

The Pumpkin Curry was absolutely to die for; sweet and soft pumpkin flesh, crispy and chewy tofu, combined with spicy red curry paste perfectly balanced with cooling coconut milk. This dish can be made in so many ways and each will be tastier than the last!

This is an incredibly easy dish to recreate and adapt. I tend to use squash rather than pumpkin, as it’s much more readily available in the UK all year round, and every time I make it I use different vegetables, depending upon what’s in season and what takes my fancy. Red curry paste can be bought almost anywhere, but I would say if you’re not making it from scratch (which I rarely do due to time constraints), get it from an Asian supermarket if you can – just be sure to check the ingredients carefully, as some brands contain shrimp paste and others don’t. As a general rule, use a slightly heaped dessertspoonful per person. This will result in a warming curry with a slight kick, but won’t burn the roof of your mouth. If you can’t take much spice, use about a teaspoonful per person and taste after you’ve incorporated the coconut milk. It should be really mild, so if it’s not warm enough you can add small amounts until it’s right. If it’s still too hot for you at this point, well, I’m surprised you can taste food at all.

Think of this dish as having a skeletal structure: at the very least you’ll need a pumpkin or squash (I use butternut squash), extra firm tofu, red curry paste and coconut milk. Once you’ve got the base ingredients in your hands you can make it any way you like.

A note on the tofu: this recipe works with deep or shallow fried tofu, depending on what facilities you have available to you. If, like me, you’re lucky enough to have access to a deep fat fryer (god bless my boyfriend’s penchant for fried food), chuck it straight in until it’s lovely and crispy, then add to the dish when the recipe calls for it. If not, or if you’re in a healthier habit than I am, be sure to press the hell out of it to remove any excess water from the tofu before frying, otherwise it will disintegrate in the pan.


Like my Luigi-style getup?


  • ½ a medium sized Butternut Squash, Pumpkin or any other type of squash available (cubed)
  • Extra Firm Tofu, pressed (cubed)
  • Red Curry Paste (roughly 1 level dessert spoon per person, adjust for spice preferences)
  • 1 tin Coconut Milk
  • a couple of Spring Onions (sliced)
  • a couple of Garlic cloves (minced)
  • small nugget of Fresh Root Ginger (peeled & sliced thinly)
  • Large Red Chilli Pepper (sliced into rings)
  • Dried Kaffir Lime Leaves (3 large or 5 small – generally a small palmful)
  • Vegetable or Mushroom Stock
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Plain or Jasmine Rice (to serve)



First things first, fry your cubed tofu until it is crispy on the edges. Set aside, and try not to snack on it while you prepare the rest of the curry.

In a wok (or deep frying pan) over a medium heat, fry spring onion slices in a little vegetable oil until softened, then add a couple of finely chopped garlic cloves and thin slices of fresh root ginger and cook until soft.

Add desired amount of curry paste – if you’re cautious, it’s better to use too little than too much at this point, as it can be rectified later when you add the coconut milk. Fry gently. You’ll know if it’s too hot because it’ll hit the back of your throat and you’ll be coughing and spluttering all over the place.

Add the coconut milk. Just start by adding half the tin and after tasting, continue to add in small amounts until you’re happy with it. Mix, taste, judge for yourself. Once you’ve got the balance right, add a little stock (about a cup) and incorporate into the mixture.

Reintroduce your tofu into the dish, along with the cubed squash and a handful of kaffir lime leaves. Ensure everything is completely submerged in the liquid and simmer for about 30 minutes until the squash is tender and you can no longer resist scoffing the lot.

Serve with boiled or steamed rice.

Variations: I like to play around with adding different vegetables into the mix, and frequently use mushrooms, pak choi, peppers, beansprouts and sweet potato.



Guest Blogger: AfroVeganChick – Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Coconut Ice Cream

21 May

What a great recipe in time for the warmer months!

So glad to have Janyce from Afro Vegan Chick back. Janyce has contributed multiple times: Raw Crustless Beet & Avocado “Cheesecake”Acorn Squash Stuffed With Maple Brown Rice And Green PeasWarm Brussel Sprouts Spinach Chickpea. Follow Janyce on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram,  blog and Twitter. Welcome back Janyce!


Despite the rain, summer is still coming and it will get hot and ice cream will become necessary.

There’s nothing like making your own ice cream, especially if living with horrid housemates. The other day discovered that my So Delicious Almond Milk Cookies And Cream Ice Cream had been opened and eaten with greedy relish. An expensive celebratory treat stolen and vandalized. It’s difficult when living with people who want to spoil life’s little victories. However, when crafting my own ice cream no one seems to want any, even if it’s pretty. I’m happy that this latest creation, eaten solely by me, wasn’t compromised in any way. Califia Farms brand vegan milks are on sale this week at Whole Foods 2 for $7. I decided to give the Toasted Coconut Almond Milk a try.

Dress up Nature’s Path Flax Plus Flakes with shredded coconut, diced apples, slivered almonds, cinnamon, and Califia Farms amazingly delicious Toasted Coconut Almond Milk- a real satisfying breakfast treat!

Simple to make ice cream. No powerful kitchen appliances required. Three near blackened bananas provide both fantastic fruity flavor and sweetness (no extra sugar needed) for a chocoholic treat. Mashed to smithereens- chunky bits saved of course, mixed with the incredibly yummy coconut almond blended milk, chocolate goodness, and extra coconut. I covered plain white bowl with a small black bag, making it look utterly unattractive and voila! A few hours later, ice cream readied and untouched, I satisfied craving hitch free! Just a great treat! Sure it’s raining right now, but tomorrow the sun is coming out and so is more ice cream.
Recipe serves two vegan ice cream lovers. Or one ravenous fiend.
Oh and FY: It’s May 16th. Janet Jackson Day. Let’s break out the Rhythm Nation and Control and everything else Damito Jo! Dance everybody! And grab a bowl for the ice cream….

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Coconut Ice Cream Ingredients and Preparation

3 ripened bananas
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup Califia Farms Toasted Coconut Almond Milk Blend
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/4 cup slivered almonds (optional)

Mash bananas together with cocoa powder, coconut almond milk, shredded coconut, and chocolate chips. Cover and freeze for 5-6 hours.
Use an ice cream scooper to scoop out bowl contents and enjoy.
Delicious, simple yum. No ice cream maker or blender needed.

Guest Blogger: Walk The Earth Vegan – The Importance of Vegan Support

20 May

Our newest guest blogger to join the VBU! family is Maggie Farquhar, author of Walk The Earth Vegan. The blog is a vegan lifestyle guide for everything; from the best food & beauty products to interviews with leading activists & business owners, in the veg community. The mission is to provide you with the resources and knowledge to live a healthy, beautiful & conscious lifestyle. Excellent! Find Maggie on social media: blog, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

When an individual thinks about going vegan, often a first question would be about convenience. “Will I be able to still eat out with my friends?” “Won’t I starve?” “What about my favorite foods?” Of course you can still eat out with your friends, but it may be a bit different now. They’ll probably tell you how bad they feel that you “can’t” eat “normal” food [And that’s okay.] Depending on where you want to eat, and on where they want to eat, you can usually find something in between. Being vegan isn’t all that hard. Also, if happen to call ahead, or look online and have no luck, perhaps you can suggest a vegan friendly restaurant. If not, then bring a smoothie, juice or snacks with you. Hopefully your friends will see how much you care for them, and next time they might be more flexible. Regardless, most of the time, you can find at least something. Even if it’s as simple as french fries or a garden salad. Be patient and try to explain to your friends why veganism is important to you. Don’t give excuses such as “i’m not really hungry” continuously. It’s not healthy for you to go without eating like that all the time. As determined as I may seem, being vegan isn’t about being perfect. It’s about living a life that is as cruelty free as possible. There’s no need to beat yourself up, and while most of us may do it for the animals, we need to take care of ourselves, as well. Even if that may mean not going out to eat as much with omni-friends.

Thus, the importance of having a vegan support group. It could contain merely one person or thousands. I encourage you to join a local meetup or facebook page. I know for me it can be tough to find good vegan support [of the same religion], but luckily with technology, I’m able to connect with people via facebook, with people of similar values. And I believe that it can be very helpful in your vegan lifestyle. Even joining a vegan humor group, and seeing something funny & relatable in your feed can brighten your day, greatly. It reminds you that you’re not alone, and that there are vegans like us out there. I know it has for me.

There are many type of groups that can help you be accountable as a compassionate being such as; a religious group you identify with, humor/comedy groups, local based groups, interest based groups etc.

Don’t hesitate to find group(s) that will support you. Of course you may not be on the same page about every single things, but you’ll have something.

As always, feel free to email me with any questions you have. As I would love to help a fellow vegan (or anyone!) out! or at


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