Pom Wonderful – Thanks Dudes!

Pom Wonderful sent me some FREE pomegranate juice in the mail; obviously because they are huge fans of this Santa Clarita vegan blog. Well, perhaps “huge fans” is a bit of an overstatement, but I did receive an e-mail saying that they liked what my blog was about and wanted to send me some of their juice. Hey, who am I to turn down free stuff?

Not even two weeks later I had a box of juice waiting for me, along with some cold packs keeping them cool and an envelope of health information on the benefits of drinking pomegranate juice. Not to give the impression that I have something special going on, as Pom Wonderful has sent some of their juice to other bloggers as well; albeit some were more grateful than others. Though, it is worth noting that Pom Wonderful did not ask me for a blog posting, I was only told that they like what my blog is about and that they would like to send me some of their juice. Pretty nice I think, thanks Pom Wonderful! Oh, and I also want to thank Molly from Pom Wonderful for sending me that first e-mail.

Now the question is what should I do with all of this pomegranate juice? I know I could just drink it, but where is the fun in that? On Pom’s website they have a recipe section, so I am thinking creativity is encouraged. Any thoughts? I notice that they have a category for mixed drinks and cocktails, but no beer. Right now I am heavily leaning towards a Pom Wheat Beer, or maybe a Pom infused (Reddish) Blonde Ale. Other beer-syle suggestions are welcome!

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Happy Birthday SCVegan.com!

One year ago, today I made that first official post to Santa Clarita’s vegan blog. For those first several months hardly any hits made their way to this site, but things eventually picked up; everything included I am averaging about 1,000 hits a month. It’s a nice start, don’t you think?

Through this blog I have made some great discoveries that I otherwise would have never known about. From great places to eat, events to attend, blogs to read, even other vegans are making themselves known in our valley. Thanks to everyone that reads this blog, and especially to those of you that have left comments and sent e-mails to me. Your kind words and helpful suggestions have been greatly appreciated and encouraging. Also, a big thanks to the businesses of Santa Clarita that are kind enough to cater to vegans and the select few that go above and beyond by offering vegan-labeled menu items. Without you, I would hardly have anything to write about. While I have to say that I still don’t know exactly how many vegans are in the SCV, it’s certainly a lot more than I expected; new names are showing up all the time!

Next year, we should have a proper birthday party with local vegan catering and entertainment. I even know where to get the birthday cake.

If you missed the Vegan Cooking Class…

Afghanstani-Vegan Goodness

Afghanistani-Vegan Goodness

25 people signed up for the class, with a full waiting list of people sitting idle though we only had about 15 people that actually showed up. Still, I consider it a pretty good turnout for a vegan cooking event in Santa Clarita. I found out that the Valencia Library actually paid and sponsored the event themselves with some grant money they received. I would like to give a big thanks to them for funding a great event, as well as a big thanks to Zel and Reuben Allen for supplying the recipes, ingredients, cookware and creating a fun learning environment.

I must say that the class was more fun and comprehensive than I expected. The class consisted of several different stations with everyone in the class broken into groups  and working on a different recipe. At the end we put all of the different dishes together and had a neat vegan buffet, Afghan style!

I spoke with the Library Manager after the class and told her how much fun it was, urging her to have more events like this. We definitely had room for more people, so next time something like this comes along and the class if supposedly “full”, just crash it and hang out. Free vegan food is reason enough to show up anywhere.

The Vegan Thanksgiving Post

***UPDATED BELOW***

Thanksgiving is this week; for vegans this holiday of feast, family and football can be both joyous and awkward. Sure, this holiday is about giving thanks but really it’s about eating delicious and rich foods with reckless abandon. In the typical household, Thanksgiving spreads contain few if any items free of meat and dairy. This wouldn’t be a problem for vegan homes but for many families, Thanksgiving tends to involve traveling. For young vegans especially this can be a difficult juggling act as your Tía Martha’s house will surely not have a single vegan item on that dinner table. Cream in the mashed potatoes, butter drenching the vegetables, bacon-wrapped dinner rolls, etc. Even more awkward is when the family tries to accommodate you by making a salad, covered in ranch dressing of course.

Truly, if you want a real Thanksgiving feast you have to do it yourself, or have some really cool vegan friends that will invite you over for their own feast. My personal vegan experiences with Thanksgiving began with me dreading the holiday for the reasons mentioned above. Now I look forward to it, as some simple kitchen skills and the availability of vegan holiday foods makes Thanksgiving special again.

For Tofurky shoppers in Santa Clarita, Whole Foods would be the likely place to pick one up; but hang on just a minute. A better deal can be had at Trader Joe’s down the street as they sell the Tofurky & Gravy combo for just $9.99. Whole Foods sells the Tofurky by itself for $11.99 and over $4 for the gravy. Unless you really like those apple dumplings then I suggest you get your Tofurky (or two) from Trader Joe’s. However, if you need extra gravy or most other specialty items then Whole Foods and Lassens would be better choices.

Whole Foods does carry a new vegan “Turkey” that caught my eye.

The Vegetarian Plus Vegan Whole Turkey is made by a company called VegeUSA. Last year these were only available as “vegetarian” containing both whey protein and eggs. This year they made a vegan version that comes with a barley&rice blend as well as a side of gravy. Since we lost the Unturkey I have been looking for something larger than the tiny Tofurky. One thing that kept me from buying it was an ingredient in the gravy that sounded suspicious; something called “Natural Creamer”. I called VegeUSA and they gave me the personal cell phone of their sales manager. He told me that everything in the box is vegan though he wasn’t sure specifically what the “Natural Creamer” was made of. He promised to get back to me and did a few hours later. The “Natural Creamer” is not dairy cream, but a “creaming agent”. He said he will call me again tomorrow with ingredients for that once he has it. Also, he agreed the wording is misleading and said they will correct it when they print new boxes.

UPDATE: I received an e-mail from John at VegeUSA and he supplied the ingredients for the “natural creamer” which I will list.

Natural Creamer: White bean flour, carrageenan (made from sea weed) tapioca modified starch, Xanthan gum (binder).

So, in case you were confused like I was, you can now rest easy and know that the Vegan Whole Turkey and all of its contents are vegan. Also, I want to note that John from VegeUSA told me that everything goes through lab testing for any kind of animal ingredients before they will label something as vegan. VegeUSA knew the gravy was vegan but just didn’t know exactly what was used in the creaming agent.  Because it makes up such a small percentage of the ingredients, it was not listed on the packaging. I want to thank John and VegeUSA for taking the time to get back to me and answering my questions.

During our conversation I was told that their vegan turkey is not stuffed, but had a space inside so you could stuff it yourself. You could use their provided barley & rice stuffing or make your own, which is a neat idea. Also, the price is supposed to be coming down. As you can see in the picture above, $50 is pretty expensive. I was told they were supposed to go on sale for about $35 or so which would be more reasonable. The turkey part is supposed to be around four inches thick, so I was told it’s actually a lot of food meant to serve 10 to 16 people; the Vegan Turkey itself weighs in at about four pounds.

Vote YES on Prop 2

Election day is approaching, and while here in Santa Clarita it seems Prop 8 is the only thing getting any press I want to bring your attention to another proposition to be voted on this November; the Prevention of Farm Cruelty Act, also known as Prop 2.

By voting YES on Prop 2 we are making sure that animals are no longer confined to cages and crates barely large enough for their bodies. Simply put, Prop 2 would ensure that certain farm animals have enough room to stand up, lay down, stretch their limbs or wings and be able to completely turn around without being obstructed by the cage or another animal.

By giving the animals more room, we can improve health and food safety because the animals will not have to stand in their own feces and will be less likely to spread illness because they will not be cramped so close together. Prop 2 will also help smaller, family farms that use humane practices compete in business with the large, corner-cutting factory farms by making sure at least some animal welfare and consumer health is put ahead of their profit margin. Also, the environment will benefit by stopping some of the practices that contaminate our water, soil, air and surrounding communities with untreated waste.

I feel Prop 2 is reasonable and a needed reform that shows consumers are concerned with how the animals are treated before they end up on supermarket shelves and the dinner plates Californians. Please, join me and vote Yes on Prop 2.

SCVegan Haiku

I was reading through some blog forums where someone mentioned writing haiku poems. Right there and then, one popped into my head and I wanted to write it out before I forgot it. Here it goes:

Santa Clarita
How many vegans live here?
Let’s have a pot luck!

Feel free to comment with your own “SCVegan” themed haiku.

First!

I’m surprised that you managed to find your way here since I haven’t advertised this blog yet, but welcome and I’m glad you found it. I’m still working on the site but we should be up and running soon.

I am a vegan living in Southern California’s beautiful Santa Clarita Valley. I often wonder how many vegans are actually in the SCV; perhaps this little blog project will give us a clue. The purpose of this blog is to initiate some kind of discussion and awareness among SCV’s vegan population. Any related news, vegan-friendly eateries and events will be posted here.

I’m new to the blog scene so any suggestions or criticisms are greatly appreciated. I also have a web forum so please check it out and let your voice be heard.

In kale we trust,

nolan