Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Trip to Portland for Vida Vegan Con

Over the past weekend I traveled to Portland, Oregon to attend Vida Vegan Con (VVC), a vegan lifestyle blogger conference.  It was a 3 day conference held at the beautiful Portland Art Museum.  I've never visited Portland, but I'd heard that it was the "vegan capitol" of America because of the incredible amount of vegan businesses and vegans.  Knowing all this, I was definitely looking forward to not only attending the conference but also experiencing the Portland vegan culture and supporting the businesses. I had such an amazing time and I'm so happy I got the chance to go.

The conference was on Friday, May 24 - Sunday, May 26.  I flew in early Friday morning and met up with my friend Jen (Wholly Vegan) at the Portland Airport (PDX).  For $2.50 we took the MAX light rail from PDX to downtown where the hotel was located, way cheaper than taking a cab.  Downtown Portland city blocks are small compared to San Francisco or New York so it was fairly easy to walk around downtown.  I loved the ease of getting around by foot or public transportation.
The Paramount Hotel was a beautiful hotel centrally located downtown and was just 2 blocks from the Portland Art Museum.  I was able to check in early and was lucky enough to get a corner room with great views of the city.

My Corner Room on 10th Floor at Paramount Hotel

After checking into the hotel we walked a few blocks and arrived at the conference.   We registered and got our swag bag - it was huge and heavy!  We got all sorts of vegan goodies from snacks, to recipes, to coupons, even condoms. Ha!

Swag Bag from VVC

At the conference I got the chance to mingle with like-minded people from all over the world and attend workshops hosted by famous cookbook authors and bloggers.  I wanted to attend the workshops that were about food blogging such as recipe creation, photography, food styling, restaurant reviews, etc.  Since I'm just getting starting with my blog, a few important things that I learned was be consistent with updating your blog, know who your audience is and be yourself.

  One of my favorite cookbook authors Terry Hope Romero and I

Throughout the weekend we spent most of day at the conference but at night we were able to explore Portland.  Our first stop on Friday evening was the Vegan Mini Mall.  We visited Herbivore Clothing and checked out their cute animal rights clothing and large wall of books.  We also visited Food Fight! Grocery and I loved walking up and down the aisles to see if there was any products that I couldn't get back home. 

One of the restaurants we tried for breakfast was Prasad, which was situated inside a yoga studio.  I ordered the Chili Scramble which was a delicious and satisfying bowl that had roasted garlic chili, chipotle tempeh, kale, avocado, pepitas, quinoa, scallions, cilantro and jalapeno cashew cheese sauce.  I also ordered the Herbtonic juice which was made with apple, basil, cilantro, cucumber, and ginger, it was the perfect drink to go along with my breakfast.

Breakfast at Prasad - Chili Scramble & Herbtonic

Another restaurant we tried was Canteen, which was a neighborhood cafe serving macro bowls along with juices and smoothies.   I had a delicious Bangkok bowl with avocado curry and red curry peanut sauce with brown rice, broccoli, kale, sesame seeds, adzuki beans and kimchi. 

 Bangkok Bowl at Canteen 

Jen and me at Canteen

We also went to the famous Voodoo Doughnuts and waited in line for almost an hour!  After taking a bite of the cream filled donut I say it was totally worth the wait!

Waiting in line at Voodoo

Maple and chocolate donuts filled with Bavarian cream, Voodoo doll filled with jelly and glazed raised donuts from the vegan selection.

We also visited Powell's Books, a huge independent bookstore with a great selection of used books.  I bought a few books to add to my vegan cookbook collection.  The best part was no sales tax in Oregon!

Another restaurant Jen and I tried was Blossoming Lotus.   We shared the Pesto and White Bean Dip appetizer and the Live Sampler and paired them with glasses of wine.  I enjoyed the flavorful bean dip with the toasted bread.  The live sampler was also pretty good; it contained an assortment of raw food such as nut cheese pate with fruit, live pizza, live falafel wrap and kale and seaweed salad.  

Pesto and White Bean Dip Appetizer

Live Sampler

The weekend was definitely a memorable one due in large part to the awesome vegan culture in Portland.  It was fun taking public transportation and exploring the residential area and downtown.  I had an amazing time at the conference connecting with compassionate people, learning new things, and eating delicious vegan food. I'm glad I got the chance to go and I'm looking forward to the next one!

 Saw this on the sidewalk downtown.  Go vegan!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Gluten Free Vegan Ube (Purple Yam) Oatmeal Cookies

 Ube or purple yam is very popular in Filipino desserts.  Growing up my favorite desserts were ube ice cream and ube cake.  While searching for ube recipes online I noticed that many recipes often call for artificial food coloring and flavoring to achieve the deep purple color and strong ube flavor.  This made me want to create an ube dessert that was all natural and healthy.  I decided to create a vegan gluten free ube oatmeal cookie.  I've heard that sometimes it may turn out blue or green after you bake it.  In my case, the cookies turned out blue-green but they still tasted good!

Makes about 26 cookies
  • 1 cup cooked ube cut in pieces (boiled or roasted, I roasted mine in oven at 375℉ for 1 hour and peeled)
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flax seeds mixed with 5 tbsp water)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (I used light coconut milk)
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 6 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup oat flour (ground gluten free oats)
  • 1/2 cup almond meal (ground raw almonds, I used my leftover almond milk pulp)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350℉
  2. Mix the ground flax seeds with water and let sit until it thickens (about 10 minutes)
  3. Mix wet ingredients in food processor.  Process cooked ube, flax eggs, coconut milk, coconut oil, and maple syrup until smooth.
  4. In separate bowl mix dry ingredients.  Mix gluten free rolled oats, oat flour, almond meal, baking powder and pinch of sea salt.
  5. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir until combined
  6. Drop spoonfuls of batter onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper or sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  You may want to flatten them with your palm.  The cookies won't expand much.
  7. Bake for 15-17 minutes until edges are slightly golden brown.
  8. Let rest on baking sheet for a few minutes before moving to cooling rack.