Cookbook Review: Salad Samurai

Fiery Fruit and Quinoa

Is it just me or are salads sometimes a double-edged sword for vegans? On one hand, you’ve got the restaurant where the only vegan option is a very basic garden salad and those unfamiliar with veganism assume that you only eat salads. On the other hand, you have Terry Hope Romero’s Salad Samurai: 100 Cutting-Edge, Ultra-Healthy Easy-To-Make Salads You Don’t Have To Be Vegan To Love, in which flavor, texture, and visual appeal meld in delicious dishes like Fiery Fruit & Quinoa Salad or my personal favorite, the Tempeh Reubenesque Salad. Romero hits a home run with her newest cookbook, which offers a hundred recipes that can be mixed and matched to make countless meals that will make even the most reluctant a fan of salads.

Salad Samurai offers recipes by season and supplies the basic building blocks for you to choose-your-own-adventure with dressings, proteins, and salad toppers. (Homemade croutons are the way to go!) She encourages you to pick a day of the week to prep a bunch of options to have at the ready for salads all week long. Throughout the book, beautiful, full-color photos of the dishes will make your mouth water. While the salads certainly have you covered for lunch and dinner, the final chapter includes sweet and savory breakfast options like Overnight Oats with Mexican Chocolate Creme and Avocado & Tofu Breakfast Bowl with Carrot Ginger Dressing.

With most recipes, Romero includes cooking tips under the heading “The Spin” and variations labeled as “Samurai Stylings.” Of the seven variations for the loyal standby ranch dressing, my favorites included maple “bacon” and creamy sriracha. Romero also does a great job of labeling recipes as raw or gluten-free for those looking for those options.

Herbed Pea Ricotta on Garden Fresh Tomatoes with Basil is summer-on-a-plate.
Herbed Pea Ricotta on Garden Fresh Tomatoes with Basil is summer-on-a-plate.

Romero is an expert with flavor and technique, but she shows restraint with her gourmet prowess and provides recipes that even novices in the kitchen can execute. I tried the Relaxed Shredded Kale, a simple side salad recipe. I gobbled it up and made a mental note to add it to the weekly rotation. Following her recipe guidance and using a standard blender, I whipped up an ultra-creamy Herbed Pea Ricotta and served it on a bed of sliced tomatoes. (Try the leftover ricotta on pasta — so good!) I made the tangy, creamy Galapagos Island Dressing with the smoky-sweet Tempeh Bacon Bites and rye Classic Croutons and had a dinner party of omnivores raving for the Reubenesque Salad. What a clever take on the classic Reuben! The dressings and salad toppers often made more than needed for a recipe, but I didn’t mind. I could use the leftover ingredients to create quick salads while on the go, and I would enjoy the intensely tasty 5-spice Tamari Almonds on their own as a protein-packed snack.

If you love flavor and want some help creating healthy, mostly non-processed meals that will satisfy your taste buds and fill your tummy, check out Salad Samurai.

Veganize It! Chocolate Chip Cookies

Veganize verb to modify a recipe by substituting plant-based foods for animals products. “I’m going to veganize these chocolate chip cookies!”

You can veganize just about anything. Start with Nestle’s classic Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. Simply replace the egg with Ener-G Egg Replacer and the butter with a nondairy buttery spread. Use nondairy semisweet chocolate chips, and you’re good to go. Easy, yummy, and cruelty-free. Who can go wrong with that?

Try your hand at our recipe for Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies and share them with all of the world.

Vegan Main Dish Competition at the Minnesota State Fair

The Minnesota State Fair is having a vegan main dish competition for the third year in a row. The judges are looking for tasty, easy-to-prepare dishes that supply a complete protein. Consider entering one of your favorite original vegan recipes. Your goodies will be on display in the Creative Activities Building, and the winner will receive a ribbon, a check, and vegan cookbook.

The category is listed as lot #1110 on page 19 of the Creative Activities booklet. Register to enter the competition by August 5th and take this opportunity to show everyone at the State Fair how delicious vegan food can be.

Get Active for Animals in August

The summer of animal advocacy continues. Just yesterday, we helped distribute 13,000 leaflets at the Warped Tour’s most recent stop in Shakopee, Minnesota. Thirteen thousand leaflets! That’s a lot of people receiving a message of compassion for animals such as Kevin, a chicken bred by the egg industry. Like all male chicks who can’t lay eggs, Kevin was likely to be killed by being tossed alive into a grinding machine. Fortunately, Kevin was rescued from this fate and is now living out his days in a farm animal sanctuary.

Everyone who receives a leaflet is learning about Kevin and hopefully making changes in their diet accordingly. These changes have a ripple effect, saving more animals like Kevin and inspiring others to adopt a more compassionate way of life.

August brings new opportunities for powerful outreach on behalf of animals. Leafleting and tabling are both excellent ways to advocate for animals. We reach many people in a short amount of time and have great conversations while doing it.

CAA volunteers gather after leafleting for the Warped Tour.

Saturday, August 2nd. Leaflet after the Paul McCartney concert

Saturday, August 16th. Table at Indiafest

Sunday, August 17th. Leaflet at Franklin Open Streets

For more information or if you would like to volunteer at any of these outreach events, email grace.vansusteren@exploreveg.org.

Vegan Potluck Picnic in the Park

Here’s your opportunity to cavort in the summer breezes with other like-minded folks who care about animals. Compassionate Action for Animals is hosting a potluck picnic in Washburn Fair Oaks Park in Minneapolis on Sunday, July 27th at noon. We’ll be meeting on the southwest corner of the park, near the intersection of East 24th Street and Stevens Avenue.

Every dish at the potluck will be vegan. You can always bring something simple like watermelon, or you can try your hand at preparing a new vegan dish. Maybe Sweet Potato and Kale Patties or a batch of vegan Thin Mint Cookies. Or something exotic like a Curried Chickpea Salad or traditional like a Creamy Potato Salad. The options are endless.

Feel free to bring a friend. Not only do events like this fortify our existing community, but they show our omnivorous friends how varied and delicious a plant-based diet can be and how fun and welcoming our animal-friendly community can be.

RSVP on the Facebook event page or email justin@exploreveg.org.


Creamy Potato Salad for Your Summer Picnic

potato salad

Why show up to summer gatherings empty-handed when the world of vegan food abounds with delicious options? This recipe for Creamy Potato Salad is sure to wow your friends and family. They won’t know the difference once they bite into this creamy classic gone vegan.

Most recipes for potato salad call for an egg-based mayonnaise. The only difference here is that an egg-free mayonnaise is used. Try Vegenaise. Many people enjoy this particular brand even more than the common non-vegan versions.

Everyday, hundreds of millions of egg-laying chickens experience agregious abuse on modern factory farms. If you want to help alleviate this suffering, consider alternatives to eggs and those things made from eggs like mayonnaise. With options such as this vegan Creamy Potato Salad, we can still participate in our fun summer outings, enjoying familiar foods in the company of our loved ones, but we can choose to make those foods in ways that reflect our compassion for animals.

Summer Picnic Cooking Class with AmyLeo


CAA volunteer and vegan powerhouse AmyLeo Barankovich is teaching a picnic-themed cooking class at Valley Natural Foods on Tuesday, July 23rd. AmyLeo will teach you how to prepare a traditional summer picnic meal minus the animal products. You’ll have lots of vegan recipes to explore and scrumptious samples to take home: Juicy Lucy with Daiya nondairy cheese shreds, New Potato Potato Salad with a hint of cilantro, and Chocolate American Flag Brownie with fruit stars. You won’t leave hungry!

Summer Fun Picnic Eats and Treats

Tuesday, July 23rd

6:00 – 8:00 pm

Valley Natural Foods

13750 County Road 11

Burnsville, MN 55337


$10 (co-op member-owners) and for $15 (for non-members)

Register in advance!



Just 1 day left to support our Indiegogo campaign! Give today!

Twin Cities Veg Fest in action

BREAKING NEWS: An anonymous donor will match the next $100 of funding for the Twin Cities Veg Fest campaign. Give now to our Indiegogo campaign and see your contribution doubled! The campaign expires tomorrow on Tuesday, July 1st at 11:59 PT. Only 1 day left! We’re not far from our goal, but we need your support to make it the rest of the way.

Your support helps fund a festival that celebrates compassion and welcomes everyone, whether vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore. Twin Cities Veg Fest brings the community together and shows how fun and delicious a compassionate lifestyle can be. It’s both powerful form of outreach and a fun way to spend the day.

Our third annual Twin Cities Veg Fest 2014 will happen on Sunday, September 28th, 2014, 10am – 4pm at Coffman Memorial Union on the Minneapolis campus of the University of Minnesota. Our previous festivals were great successes, and we anticipate continued growth. With your support, we can reach new audiences, provide more tasty vegan food, and bring cooking demos to the festival.

To learn more about Twin Cities Veg Fest, listen to our most recent Exploring Veg, the Compassionate Action for Animals podcast. In this first podcast of a four-part series devoted to all things Veg Fest, we give an overview of the upcoming festival. CAA Executive Director Unny Nambudiripad talks with Twin Cities Veg Fest organizer Dave Rolsky about what the Veg Fest is, how it came to be, and what it offers the general public.

Twin Cities Veg Fest is free to attend. Your generous support is what makes this event possible.

Visit our Indiegogo campaign page, and check out the range of perks for different levels of contribution. We have everything from a cute CAA button to a homemade vegan cake delivered straight to your door.

Contribute today and become a Twin Cities Veg Fest Funder!

Book Review: Becoming Vegan, Express Edition

book cover

Did you know that “vegetarian” was first coined in 1842 and has more to do with its Latin root, vegetus, which means “lively, fresh, and vigorous,” than with vegetables?

More and more people are wanting to lead “lively, fresh, and vigorous” lives as vegetarians or vegans out of compassion or for health reasons. Becoming Vegan, Express Edition: The Everyday Guide to Plant-based Nutrition by Brenda Davis, RD and Vesanto Melina, MS, RD is a helpful resource to combat common nutritional misconceptions and to ensure proper nutrition. This book could be helpful resource for anyone, whether or not they consider themselves to be “becoming vegan” and no matter where they fall on the spectrum of plant-based eating,

As registered dieticians, Davis and Melina offer a wealth of knowledge on how to get enough protein, where to find key minerals like B12 and iron, and what good fats to include in your diet. Last year, I wasn’t able to be a blood donor because my iron level was on the low end of normal, and since then I’ve been looking for ways to get more iron into my diet. Becoming Vegan taught me that cutting back on caffeine and including vitamin C in my meals will increase my iron absorption. In other words, an iron-rich breakfast of oatmeal with raisins and nuts is even more iron-rich when I add a serving of citrus fruit or strawberries to it. Don’t worry if that meal idea doesn’t sound good to you; the book includes a chart of vegan foods and their general mineral content to help you plan nutritious meals to suit your tastes.

In addition, Becoming Vegan offers nutritional advice for those with special dietary needs, including pregnant women, children, and the elderly. I’ve often heard that folate is important for pregnant women. I was relieved to read that vegans and vegetarians who eat beans, greens, and oranges can easily meet their folate needs. Another helpful table lists foods that provide 15 grams of protein per serving and also have high levels of iron, zinc, and folate. You can use this table to help you to maximize the nutrition in your diet. The next time you’re sitting down to watch a movie, swap out the popcorn for a couple cups of fresh pea pods and get a major boost of protein, iron, and folate. These kinds of strategies and sample menus that you’ll find in the book will help you to feel confident that, no matter what your life stage, you’re getting the nutrition that you need to thrive.

Chapter Eight overviews the strengths and weaknesses of ten different vegan diets and in the process reveals the variety of food choices that vegans have. Davis and Melina include tips on how to make those diets work for your nutritional needs. Additional chapters focus on dietary modifications for those who are overweight, underweight, or athletes.

One of my favorite resources in Becoming Vegan is “The Vegan Plate,” a diagram accompanied by a table of suggested servings and tips. I recommend making a photocopy of this diagram and sticking it on your fridge as an easy reference guide. I also appreciate the recipe for “Liquid Gold Dressing,” a whole foods alternative to a vitamin supplement. Each serving contains your daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids and half your daily B12 requirement.

I recommend Becoming Vegan, Express Edition to anyone looking for a comprehensive guide to plant-based diets or for those who want to be well-versed in addressing misconceptions about vegan nutrition and current dietary controversies, like whether or not soy is good for you. I learned a lot of valuable information about being healthy on a plant-based diet that will benefit me for years to come, allowing me to be the most “lively, fresh, and vigorous” vegetarian or vegan I can be.


Volunteer Story: The Power of Pay-Per-View

David Smith volunteering

“It was life-changing!” “I’ll never eat meat again.”  “Thank you so much for showing me this.”  “I had no idea!”

As a volunteer for Compassionate Action for Animals, I often hear these comments from people who’ve just watched “Farm to Fridge,” a five-minute video revealing the ugly side of factory farming. Facilitating pay-per-view outreach, I invite passersby to watch the short movie in exchange for a dollar. I’m always gratified to see how they are moved by the video and then consider making changes in their own lives to help animals in need.

I’ve always had a soft spot for those in need, but it wasn’t until college that I learned what happens to animals on factory farms. I was assigned to give an “informative and persuasive” speech, and I chose factory farming as the subject. Though the topic was difficult to research and deliver, I felt a compelled to let people know about the plight of these animals. Ultimately, the process of giving an “informative and persuasive” speech served to inform and persuade, of all people, myself. I instantly began eating more ethically. Since then, I’ve been vegetarian or vegan, or what I like to call “Plant Strong.”

In the years following my college experience, I didn’t feel like I was able to be an effective advocate for animals through conversation alone. When discussing the topic with others, I often felt discouraged, like my words didn’t have an impact. Then, I was introduced to pay-per-view.

Using this type of outreach, I saw people change before my eyes. People who seemed indifferent to the lives of farmed animals suddenly showed deep concern for these animals in the film. Some people were disgusted, angry, or saddened by the cruelties exposed. Most viewers were speechless, unable to make another excuse for eating animals. They realized the undeniable truth that eating animals causes unnecessary suffering and that each one of us can choose not to contribute to that suffering. Often after seeing the film, viewers wanted to know how to help and were open to the idea of eating a more plant-based diet. They happily accepted the “Guide to Cruelty-Free Eating,” a free brochure that shows how healthy and delicious a plant-based diet can be.

Seeing this transformation, I felt a surge of enthusiasm and hope. I thought of how research has reported that ninety-four percent of Americans believe that animals on farms should not suffer. The pay-per-view experience helps people confront that suffering. They begin to understand how their daily actions do or don’t reflect their values. Then, with the right resources and positive encouragement, they can take steps to align their choices with their values.

If you are interested in volunteering with pay-per-view but are feeling unsure, don’t worry. You’ll work beside experienced volunteers. After a little pay-per-view experience, you too will see the value of this form of outreach advocacy and you’ll feel confident in your ability to make a positive change for animals.

The next pay-per-view tabling event is happening at the Pride Festival in Loring Park on Saturday, June 18 and Sunday, June 29, 2014. If you’d like to volunteer for this or another outreach event, contact outreach coordinator Grace Van Susteren at grace.vansusteren@exploreveg.org.

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Friday, March 30, 2018

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Saturday, March 31, 2018

2018 Annual Banquet

Friday, April 6, 2018

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Saturday, April 14, 2018

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