the awesome snackiness of the vegan cuts snack box.

Vegan Cuts Snack Box

Instagram shot of my Vegan Cuts Snack Box (follow me @madcapcupcake)

Behold the awesome snackiness of my Vegan Cuts Snack Box, of which I was the fortunate recipient for review. The Snack Box is available as a monthly subscription ($19.95 in the USA, $27.95 in Canada, shipping included) from the good folks at Vegan Cuts—a fab company that offers many more innovative cruelty-free products for sale, from food to clothing, make-up and accessories.

If you subscribe to a Snack Box, each month you will be presented with a selection of 7-10 vegan snacks and samples, often gluten-free, from an array of well chosen cruelty-free companies. My Snack Box consisted of the following treats:

  • Meow Meow Tweet’s Moisturizing Lip Balm, which glides on smooth, without any sticky, waxy residue. Mine was cocoa flavoured. I’m a devoted lip balm fan. Very nice.
  • Oloves, deli-style, snackable olives with only 50 calories per bag and no preservatives. I enjoyed my package of Lemony Lover Oloves at the airport during a recent trip and they were the perfect snack on the go, as well as a welcome departure from the regular snacking carb-fest.
  • Milas Food’s Savoury Bruschetta Blend. I made bruschetta of course, enjoying mine on a thick slab of crusty sourdough bread. Delicious.
  • 22 Days Protein Powder, which is non-GMO, organic, dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free, and perfect for a quick breakfast when you’re short on time and great for traveling. Mine was chocolate. Good stuff.
  • Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips, a delicious baked twist on sweet potato chips. They were gone in a flash. I felt like I was enjoying chips without being bad.
  • Teeccino, herbal coffee in a tea bag. Awesome idea, no? Full-bodied and robust. I’m a big Teeccino fan. Love them.
  • Skinny Pop, guilt-free, incredibly tasty all natural, fibre-rich popcorn with zero trans fat. I saved mine for the plane and savoured every last bite.
  • Chicago Vegan Foods Teese, a stretchable, meltable line of non-dairy cheeses free from GMOs, soy, gluten, and palm oil. I received the nacho cheese sauce, which is the best Teese I’ve tried yet. These are the same folks behind Dandies vegan marshmallows. Love them.
  • Beyond Meat coupons, thanks—I’ll be on the lookout for some! So curious.
  • Parmela Parmesan Style Aged Nut Cheese. The perfect way to top off to a steaming bowl of pasta, and I did. Excellent. Seriously though—how do they do that? It’s so much like Parmesan I did a double-take.

If you like tasty snacks, trying new products and getting packages in the mail, this sweet setup is right up your alley. Very fun. Many of the companies I received samples from weren’t even on my vegan radar, so discovering them was awesome. A big ‘thank you’ to the generous folks at Vegan Cuts for sending me a Snack Box of my very own to try out.

Highly recommended. Check them out and get snackified. Enjoy.

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hugs to allison’s gourmet

Artisan Vegan Caramels from Allison's Gourmet

Artisan Vegan Caramels from Allison’s Gourmet

Are you familiar with Allison’s Gourmet? You should be. Allison, maven of mmmm, is all about chocolate. Award-winning, artisan, organic, dairy-free, fair-trade chocolate. Oh, and it’s out of this world delicious too. Do yourself a favour and get acquainted. May I suggest the pure vanilla caramels? I’m a fan. Take a look at Allison’s site and feast your eyes. You can’t go wrong with any of the choices there—with cookies, brownies, toffee, brittle, fudge, chocolates, caramels, tea, coffee, and hot chocolate—there are endless gift-giving possibilities. Why not include yourself s a recipient?

A longtime admirer,  I had the pleasure of meeting Allison in person at last summer’s VVC in Portland–so when she recently asked if she could interview me for the Friday With Friends series on her blog, I was chuffed. Check it out here, blush. It’s short and sweet and focuses on my enthusiasm for vegan baking and my massive sweet tooth.

*photo used with permission from Allison’s Gourmet

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old-fashioned montreal-style bagels.

Old-Fashioned Montreal-Style Bagels

An homage to the famed Montreal bagel, and not unlike the traditional New York variety, these cruelty-free bagels are boiled before they are baked. The boiling step is what makes these bagels truly authentic: locking in the moisture, adding the beloved chewiness, and enhancing the flavor by allowing the yeast to develop more complexity over the full length of cooking (as compared to the faster turnaround of just baking). Without that crucial boiling step, these bagels would simply be bread. Luckily for our waistlines, these bagels are smaller than their gargantuan grocery store counterparts – because you won’t want to stop at just one! With a delightfully chewy interior and a characteristic hint of sweetness, they’re a little irresistible.

They can be dressed up or down with great success: heavenly simply toasted with a pat of non-dairy butter or hummus – resplendent as the foundation for a delicious sandwich (see below). Or enjoy them fresh, all by themselves. Whichever way they are enjoyed, these bagels are much loved in my household – and their popularity grows exponentially with each fragrant batch shared.

Old-Fashioned Montreal-Style Bagels

(vegan, yield: 18 bagels)

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp flax meal
3 Tbsp water
1 1/2 cups water
2 packages + 1/2 tsp quick-rising, instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup plain, unsweetened soy yogurt
1/4 cup canola oil (or other neutral tasting oil)
1/2 cup agave syrup
5 1/2 cups bread flour, plus extra for dusting
3 quarts water for boiling (I filled my large pot with 4-5 inches of water)
1/3 cup malted barley syrup (for the boiling water)
Sesame or poppy seeds (for sprinkling on top)

Preparation:

1. In a small bowl, add the flax meal and 3 Tbsp water, beat together vigorously until very frothy and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk 1 1/2 cups water, yeast, sugar and salt together. Stir in the oil and agave syrup, add the flax mixture, and mix well.

3. Add 5 cups of the bread flour and mix with a big wooden spoon until the dough is too stiff to mix by hand. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead to form a soft, pliable dough. Measure the remaining 1/2 cup of bread flour and add as needed to prevent the dough from getting too sticky. If needed, add a little more flour – don’t add too much or your dough will be tough and dry (add just what you need in order to handle the dough cleanly, without it sticking to your hands or your work surface). When the dough is smooth and elastic, place it in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap placed loosely over the top (leaving room for the dough to rise). Let the dough rest for approximately 20 minutes.

4. While your dough is resting, pour water into your pot and start heating to a boil. Add the barley malt syrup and stir until dissolved. Keep your pot covered and reduce heat to a medium simmer while you prepare the bagels for boiling.

5. Once the dough has rested for 20 minutes, punch it down and divide into 18 equal portions. If some portions seem excessively large or small, now is the time to pinch a bit off the big ones to augment the small ones.

6. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. You will be placing 9 bagels on each sheet.

7. Shape the dough portions into rings by elongating each piece into 8 to 10-inch lengths that are about 3/4-inch thick. Then, fold the ends over each other and pinch together. Holding the ring on its side with one hand, place two or three fingers from your other hand through the hole and roll the ring gently back and forth over the seal to join it well. A good seal prevents the ends from opening up when boiled. As you form each bagel, place it on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once all the bagels are formed, let them rest on the sheets for 15 minutes.

8. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 400°F, bring the water back to a boil. Have bowls of poppy seeds and/or sesame seeds near the stove.

9. Once the bagels have rested and the water is boiling (and starting with the sheet of bagels that was prepared first) use a slotted spoon to add three bagels to the water. As they rise to the surface, turn them over and let them boil for an additional minute before removing them (allowing them to drip for a few moments) and dipping them in either bowl of the seeds. Note: If they seem to float immediately, let them cook for 1 minute before flipping them and cooking for an additional minute on the other side.

10. Once they’ve been dipped in the seeds, place the bagels back in place on the baking sheets. Since they don’t increase in size during baking, you can place them fairly closely together if necessary, but not touching (depending on the size of your baking sheets). Note: Use two forks to transfer the bagels from the bowl of seeds to the baking sheet – one to flip and both to carry.

11. Continue boiling and dipping the bagels in batches of three until the first sheet is ready for the oven. Place that sheet in the oven on the middle rack, and set your oven timer for 25 minutes. While the first batch is baking, continue boiling and dipping the second batch of bagels.

12. The bagels should bake until they are medium brown. After 25 minutes of baking, check them. If necessary, add 5 minutes (or more) until they are brown enough for your liking.

13. Once they have baked, remove them from the oven and place them on a cooling rack. Once cooled, they freeze well if desired – if they last that long.

Tofurkey, kale & mustard on a Montreal-style bagel = LUNCH

I originally shared this recipe with One Green Planet, for whom I am a happy contributor.