Nov 27, 2016

"the essential vegan travel guide" + giveaway

Happy Cyber Monday everyone!

I am so excited to share with you a book that is all about traveling as a vegan and surviving the whole vacation, well fed and happy.

The Essential Vegan Travel Guide [AMAZON]  is written by Caitlin Galer-Unti, the publisher of the popular site The Vegan Word. Caitlin has traveled extensively world-wide and I strongly recommend checking out her site for some amazing content.

My girls went to visit family in Hungary this summer and this book was a huge lifesaver for them. Even though the family knew what the girls would eat and wouldn't eat, something was lost in translation and they had to fend for themselves more than a few times.

And when they went off to Italy by themselves for a few days, the book, again, came in immeasurable service.

The travel guide is more than just a list of resources and instead delves into how to stay vegan while traveling. The guide walks you through the many ways to take food, find food, cook food in a hotel room and even goes into where you can stay and how to figure that out. Caitlin covers it all. She leaves no stone un-turned.

Of course, research is your best friend when making travel plans, and that is where Caitlin starts: she shows you how to do your research, where to research and what to research. She walks you through it all step by step.

After all the research is done, Caitlin shows you how to apply your new-found information to find the best places to stay and where to eat when you are there.

This is a full-length book (about 130 pages) packed with loads of information and insight. In addition, Caitlin has a wonderful sense of humor, making the reading of the book not just educational, but fun, too.

If you are planning on taking a trip, whether local or foreign, whether you are staying at a hostel, with family or couchsurf, Caitlin has you covered. Although this is the 2016 edition, I see no reason why you need to wait for a possible 2017 edition since all the information is relevant and useful for the next few years, possibly. In fact, the only amendments might be updates of website addresses or adding new ones.

Since this is the giving season, I want to remind you that Caitlin has published a post of 101+ Vegan Gift Ideas, a very extensive list of wonderful gifts that you can use yourself or pass to a loved one.

 I am not exempt from the gift-giving season and therefore I am giving away a print copy of this book to a US winner AND a Kindle copy to a winner outside the US. Please leave a comment about where you would like to travel and let me know if you are a US resident or an International one. Good luck! Contest ends December 19, my daughter's birthday.

IMPORTANT: If it isn't obvious how to contact you via your comment, send me an email with the name your comment is under, the content of your comment (what you said) and a way to contact you (the email itself will be fine).  zsu [at] zsusveganantry [dot] com

And I am not done with the gift giving! I am announcing the winner of Vegan Mexico [AMAZON] by Jason Wyrick. The winner is The Peace Patch! Congratulations!! Contact me at zsu [at] zsusveganpantry [dot] com. 

Nov 19, 2016

cranberry bliss bars

Starbuck's, the coffee shop, has a treat called Cranberry Bliss Bars. Although I've never had it (was Starbuck's even around 16 years ago?) because it isn't vegan, I can attest that this vegan version is most certainly delicious.

The original version uses white chocolate chips, and while you are more than welcome to, I find that bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips are much easier to find vegan. But if you have them, use them!

The batter is very simple - flour, baking powder, ginger, salt, aquafaba, vegan butter, sugar, chocolate chips and dried cranberries.

Once creamed together, fold in the chocolate and cranberries and press into a 12X12-inch pan, or a 1/4 sheet pan. The size is really inconsequential as long as the batter is about 1/2-inch thick.

While the cookies bake and cool make the cream cheese frosting. If you really don't like it too sweet you can cut the frosting ingredients in half and frost the base very lightly.

After they bake and cool, trim the sides and cut the bars into triangles. Once frosted the bars will soften up a little and the frosting will harden a bit, making stacking possible. If they last that long, these bars are good for up to a week. Enjoy with tea or coffee.



Cranberry Bliss Bars
Makes about 12 bars

1/2 cup vegan butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
5 tablespoons aquafaba**

2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

4 ounces nondairy cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch salt
2 teaspoons orange juice (zest orange first)
2 cups confectioner sugar, sifted after measuring
2 teaspoons orange zest
3/4 cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat the oven to 325-degrees F. Add the butter, sugar, ginger and salt to a large bowl. Use a hand mixer to cream well. Add the aquafaba a tablespoon at a time to help achieve a homogeneous mixture. Combine the flour and baking powder in a small bowl. Mix well and add to the butter mixture. Mix well using the hand mixer.
2. Add the 1 cup of cranberries and the chocolate chips. Mix well using a wooden spoon. Line a 12x12 baking sheet (or a 1/4 sheet pan) with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Add the dough and press into the pan. The dough should be about 1/2 -inch thick. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes; do not over bake. Remove and set aside for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool on a cooling rack.
3. Frosting: Combine the cream cheese, salt and juice in a medium bowl. Mix well using a hand mixer. Add the sifted confectioner sugar and mix again. Add half of the zest.
4. When completely cool, frost the bars, reserving about 1/4 cup of the frosting. Add the 3/4 cup cranberries on top of the frosting and drizzle the remaining frosting over the cranberries. Add the rest of the orange zest. 
5. Using a sharp knife, trim the edges of the large rectangle. Cut in half and cut each half into 3 rectangles. Cut each rectangle in half diagonally. Allow the frosting to set overnight. If the bars are too crunchy allow to sit uncovered until they soften a bit. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

** Although aquafaba is best if homemade using the recipe provided in the book, you can use aquafaba from canned chickpeas. Use the organic, low-sodium, canned chickpeas and strain off the liquid into a measuring cup using a fine mesh strainer. Note the amount of liquid you acquired, then add it to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the liquid reduces by 1/3. Cool the aquafaba completely before using.

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