Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Violife Blueberry After Dinner Cheese Review

Pockets of teeny tiny blueberries are packed tight into a block of creamy mild vegan cheese.
Remember that time so long ago that I visited the all vegan grocery in Paris, Une Vegan Monde?
Well, I finished the cheese off weeks ago and find myself craving this unique treasure. I didn't believe that fruit in a cheese would taste as amazing as Violife crafted. This is a soy, nut, and palm free cheese, which is great considering that most vegan cheeses do have palm oil.
Months prior, I had tried Violife's original block, a purchase from Vegan Marks the Shop. Violife's Blueberry After Dinner Cheese combines a burst of sweet, irresistible berries with the original recipe, letting flavors mingle along, not making it a sugared, unruly mess. This is an exceptionally delicious creation, definitely in my top favorites. I wish that I could have more. Sadly, through my research of various online vegan stores, the Violife Blueberry After Dinner Cheese is seemingly impossible to get shipped to the states-- only available in the UK.
For now, I have the pleasant memories, still sharp in mind and tongue, dreaming that one sweet, kind friend will mail me a package or two in a care package.
Or maybe, I'll find some yummy Violife Blueberry Goodness in Berlin....  

I had packed cheese, Dave's Killer Thin-Sliced Bread in 21 Whole Grains and Seeds with Clearbrook Farms Blueberry Preserves. The banana, although good and super brown spotted, has nothing to do with the sandwiches. 

On one side of bread, I generously spread on the blueberry preserves.

Sweet, sophisticated sandwiches.

Perfect. (with banana).

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Hyperpigmentation, Big Pores, And Other "Flaws" To Accept This Year

Big pores among other broad facial features.
In high school, a school comprised of mostly black students, I was constantly picked apart, savagely crucified as if my very existence were a running gamut for the cruelest jokes. If it wasn't the gap between my teeth, it was my facial structure, my broad nose, giant lips, and ugly glasses. Plus, I admit my style was downright horrible.

Are You My Family: Finding Kinship in the Africa Section of the Art Museum, pencil on Strathmore Smooth Bristol (animal free) Paper, 9" x 12," 2018.
Growing up, one of my biggest problems was hyperpigmentation-- the reason I couldn't wear open toed sandals or dresses that exposed elbows and knee caps. I wasn't one brown color. My skin ranges from medium brown to Ebony. I often wore hip hugging pants that slid downward, exposing the darker flesh of my back and mapped out stretch mark coordinates. Menacing peers would be quick to tell me, "hey! Pull that up! Nobody wants to see that!" Meanwhile, the girl ahead of me is exposing the same amount of flesh-- save for the flaws. She was smooth and even toned, no blemishes.
During this rough time, my depression continued gradually climbing. I experimented with over-the-counter bleaching creams to lighten up "my problems," not knowing what these harmful chemicals were creating within my cellular structure (likely damaging my whole teen life inside as well as out). I cannot be positive on my eventual realization that other people's problems with my body had nothing to do with me.
It happened along a painful, many years passing road.
Months ago, I was especially pleased to discover that an Afropunk highlighted artist featured "imperfect" models. Their hyperpigmentation, freckles, and stretch marks were documented as quite beautiful captures that we rarely see put on pedestals. I wish I could find out that artist, having not saved the information, but those photographs reenergized my self love.

The First Time I Saw Myself Was in the Africa Section of the Art Museum, pencil on Strathmore Smooth Bristol (animal free) Paper, 9" x 12," 2018.
Isn't it also funny that a person can Google search "big pore love" and a thousand articles for "How to Minimize Your Large Pores" come up?
I was never a huge fan of foundation. Sure, I played around with it in those dreadful teenage days whilst paying close attention to application instructions from Seventeen and Teen Vogue. I had better luck with a few free makeovers at the mall. Still, it was bad enough finding my shade for the shade that I started growing fond of. I began asking myself, "what exactly am I trying to cover up?" I like the shade. I no longer cared about callous people saying, "you're too dark for this" or "you're too dark for that." I had the defining Penelope moment, loving my face as it is. I wear eye shadow every now and then. Blush sometimes. I love lip glosses and lip sticks. But by gosh, I love washing my face, blotting on moisturizer, and coconut oil, leaving the home just like that-- giant pores, pimples, hyperpigmentation, and all.

As January draws to a close, my confidence continues to build as I drift further away from societal beauty testaments.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

gardein Fish Filet Tacos

Warm corn tortillas filled with fresh ingredients like Almond Ricotta, cilantro, juice of lime, avocado, and gardein's ever popular Fish Filets.
Although I don't purchase artificial veggie meats often, love for gardein cannot ever fade. They create the most incredible frozen foods via pea protein science. My fond highlights are: the Chik'in Sliders, the Turk'y Cutlets, and these incredible Fish Filets. Now I have poured out my love for their Fish Filets since they came to being. They're amazingly similar to the triangular pieces of battered death from childhood-- except cruelty free and downright delicious in whatever "fishy" thing a vegan wants to make. I didn't have fish tacos in my previous pre-vegan, pre-vegetarian life and always wanted to try it. I recommend warming the corn tortillas in an oven for a few seconds, layering with mayo (or traditional tartar sauce), optional Almond Ricotta, cilantro, avocados, and lime juice.
For my next experiment, I would love to try adding fresh, crispy slaw and red onions.

I definitely recommend putting mayo on the bottom of the fish. Just Mayo's Chipotle Mayo is the best (well, in my humble opinion).

Taco heaven.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Raw Almond Ricotta

A dollop of raw ricotta over my lunch time meal prep this week.  
I am super happy to share that the almond ricotta experiment turned out wonderful, especially in the three factors that matter-- taste, texture, and look. Usually, tofu is my go-to when the ricotta craving hits. It's definitely cheaper to make almond ricotta with tofu, just a few dollars less, but the almonds make for a lighter, fluffier concoction, a step closer to my memories of ricotta. I packed a tub of this newfound treasure and gladly sprinkled some cheer for the remainder of work week, the first full work week of the year (a few snow days and Martin Luther King Jr. holiday). Thus, it added an upscale gourmet feel to my packed lunches and thoughts on a future delicious lasagna.

Almond Ricotta Ingredients and Preparation

1 8oz package blanched and slivered almonds
1 1/2 cup water
2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of lemon juice

Soak almonds in water overnight.
Without draining the water, add nutritional yeast, garlic, salt, and lemon juice and blend together.
Keep refrigerated in an air tight container.

A close up of the almond-y goodness.

Atop of zucchini noodles and diced tomatoes with extra nooch and cilantro.

Goodbye tofu, hello almonds!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Raw Zucchini Noodles For Meal Prep

Last night's scrumptious dinner filled me straight up.
This will be a simple, cost effective week, trying to focus on saving money (leaving for Toronto in exactly one month), and implementing more veggies and pure ingredients into my eating habits. It is good to know what you're putting in. Although tomorrow, the forecast calls for Taco Tuesdays with gardein fish filets with cilantro and mayo.....
I prepped a menu for the week and the first to share is zucchini pasta. Alongside these lovely spiraled strands of green zoodles, I added herbed new potatoes as a side dish-- a cheat sheet purchase from Whole Foods Market, surprisingly delicious served at room temperature, and a whole avocado with nutritional yeast.

Raw Zucchini Noodles With Diced Tomatoes and Avocado

3 zucchini, spiraled
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes (used 365 Brands Organic Italian Styled Diced Tomatoes)
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 avocado, ripened
2 tablespoon nutritional yeast

Toss zoodles with diced tomatoes, garlic, salt, and black pepper.
Top with ripened avocado and nooch.

Scene of a delicious night time dinner.

This is the third avocado in a row that has come out epically perfect. I pray that this will continue.

My Monday lunch.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Mashed Chickpea Salad With Roasted Tomatoes And Avocado

Mashed chickpeas makes everything all right, especially with tomatoes and avocado.
Last Saturday, I had such a horrid moment, having missed my Greyhound bus to New York City to attend the Sixth Annual Black Comic Con at Schomburg Center for Black Research. I had in mind to see Toyin Ojin Odujah's latest works at the Whitney Museum, visit the Studio Museum of Harlem in its current space for the last time, and eat at Beyond Sushi.

At Mom's Organic Market, they sell roasted tomatoes by the pound.

I left the Greyhound Station miserably. There were no other morning tickets. Well, quite honestly, I didn't want to spend another twenty dollars on a ticket, then spend more money on getting a new NYC MetroCard, and plus spend more on comic books and food-- this would be breaking the budget set for myself.
Thankfully, Mom's Organic Market was near the sad, pathetic walk down the street, dismayed by my tardiness. At the grocery store, I picked up chocolate, chips, and roasted tomatoes-- comfort food and ingredients to make comfort food.
One of my primary goals for the year is to lower my soy intake and chickpeas are a grand replacement for the things that I love-- tofu scramble, "cold cut" tofu sandwiches, and tofu ricotta. I probably can't make chickpea into cold cuts or ricotta just yet, but I've been perfecting the chickpea scramble and this salad is a cold version of my usual recipe. All the ingredients come together so beautifully despite the simple ingredients and blending-- great in a sandwich or as a stand alone. 

Mashed Chickpea Salad With Roasted Tomatoes And Avocado Ingredients and Preparation

1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed thoroughly
3 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup roasted tomatoes
1 avocado, ripened

Pulse chickpeas, water, cumin, turmeric, salt, onion powder, and crushed red pepper together in food processor or blender. Make sure it's at a creamy yet chunky texture-- do not make hummus.
Mix in red roasted tomatoes. Serve at room temperature with avocado.

Salad is also good with a few slices of Dave's Killer Bread in Thin Sliced Good Seed.

Very colorful, pretty, simple, and scrumptious.

The perfect yum after a trying day.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day: A Day of Service and an Evening At Uncle Bobbie's Coffee & Books

This lovely meal gifted to me once we discovered all the vegan pizza was eaten (only meat/cheese pizzas and leafy salad were left). I thought the gesture of this Awesome Foods Chickpea Salad with Kaiser Roll too kind an offering, especially since the giver was another vegan. I would have gladly ventured out to Tattooed Mom's or Hip City Veg after volunteering today, but someone said, "stay, have this meal, and eat with us."
Today was another wonderful tribute to the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

For Day of Service, on what would have been the slain leader's 89th birthday, I headed to Uhuru Furniture to hear about their visions and bask in the glowing "uhuru" spirit (Swahili for freedom, independence). They shared videos about the civil rights movement, featured spoken word poetry, a remarkable keynote by Ticharwa Masimba from ADEDF St. Louis on the Black Power Blueprint Project, allowed volunteers to discuss why they came out via an open mic segment, and took a group photo of us outside. We then broke down into various groups (some walking others driving), each participant carrying 200 door fliers to hang in various neighborhoods to let people know about Uhuru Furniture-- an organization as well as furniture store.

At lunch, they announced handing out 4,000+ fliers (almost reaching their goal of 5,000), raised over $600, and handed out prizes like gift certificates, posters, and artworks via raffle drawing.
This place was packed and hopping.
I finally stopped by Marc Lamont Hill owned Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee and Books Shop in Germantown, blocks away from the Nile Café. It was a lovely dedication to the written word that contained some of the most conscious authors/activists/biographies of past and present from Coretta Scott King, Angela Davis, Malcolm X, and Ta-Nehisi Coates to fictional greats Zora Neale Hurston, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and so much more. There are t-shirts that ask people to “read more and talk less.” There is one that says “writer.” Poetry by Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, Ntozake Shange, and Tyhembia Jess. Theory by bell hooks. Economics, history, gender and queer studies, cookbooks, art, and relationship advice are other topics that fill the laid back space. Eyes will water on the displays about Emmitt Till and prison culture.
The décor is straight up vintage-- sewing machines and irons that entail seamstresses and domestic employ, Mammy figures of disturbing principles, globes, trunks, and suitcases of migrant travels from South to North, typewriters that make one think of James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry.

This is near the entrance of the coffee shop, giving a taste of what readers can find on the shelves.

I picked up a copy of Nalo Hopkinson's short sci-fi tales called, "Falling In Love With Hominds" and a Sabiir Bakery's Vegan-Ish pudding cake (the only vegan food option available right now).

It's definitely a quieter place to write and read as opposed to other places. The music isn't loud or intrusive.

The laminated, coned pages floating down like bright lights were very creative touch.  

Shameless bathroom selfie with Alice Walker tee.

The cake is dense and moist, almost too moist and just a little salty (or was that baking soda?), but overall satisfactory if you're a vegan in need for a treat at this spot.

Monday, January 1, 2018

AfroVeganChick Turns Six With Raw Cacao, Cherry, And Peanut Butter Oat Bars

Happy New Year! Starting another it off right with yummy treats! 
Goodbye 2017! Hello 2018!
Six years has passed already. The time has flown by with so much happening in between the posting of recipes, personal experiences (family and friends still making those uncomfortable, unfunny animal jokes), the glorious, ever changing art world, adventure traveling across the globe, eating out vegan, and other miscellaneous entertainments that my writing has come to on this blog.
I will always be grateful for the countless visits, comments, and shares. I wouldn't have thought anyone cared, especially in the beginning when post views were so few. It was discouraging that one could open up a social media account at the same time as someone else and their numbers blow up considerably while the other barely peaks. Giving up is a lot easier than staying on the path. I got bitten by a friendly bug, often super excited over a new recipe that turned out better than hoped. Sure, my photography skills lacked and were likely the cause of little word-of-mouth buzz, but still, I was loving vegan creating in a way that my prior thirteen years of vegetarianism hadn't revealed.
Today, I share a raw vegan recipe that sort of commemorates the road I have been venturing at home. In case you haven't noticed, I use less oils more and more, relying on other fats. These simple cacao, cherry, and peanut butter oat bars have the oils of peanut butter helping to hold bars together as well as delicious sticky cacao and cherry mixture that acts as a sweet glue. They have an irresistibly, chewy peanut butter and jelly taste with a chocolaty edge.

Raw Cacao, Cherry, and Peanut Butter Oat Bars Ingredients and Preparation

2 cup dried cherries, soaked
3 tablespoon cacao powder
2 1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup salted peanut butter (I used crunchy but creamy is okay)
1/4 cup slivered almonds

Soak cherries overnight. Drain a little of the water. Add in cacao powder and pulse cherries and cacao together until creating a thick, even mixture.

In a large bowl, combine the cacao-cherry pulp with oats, peanut butter, and almonds.

Mix well. 
Press into a rectangular container. This one pictured is 4 1/2" x 8" x 1 1/2." Refrigerate for four to six hours. Cut into bars.
Serve. Try not to eat all the bars in one sitting.