Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Music in the Meadow Fundraiser Benefits Neglected Farm Animals

The folks at Animal Place, a sanctuary for neglected farm animals, have asked me to let Sacramento Vegan readers know about the Music in the Meadow fundraiser that will be held on September 22nd in Grass Valley.

The day-long event will feature the music of Runnin 4 Cover, the Hiwatters, the Flower Furnace, Melissa Olsen, and Joan Hall. Vegan food and other vegan products will be available for sale, and there will be a silent auction offering an array of items that any vegan would love.

The highlight of the event will be an appearance by author John Robbins, who will be discussing the impact factory farming has on sustainability and the earth. According to the Animal Place website, "John’s life is dedicated to creating an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling and socially just human presence on this planet."

John Robbins is the author of the vegan classic, Diet for a New America, and The Food Revolution, a thought-provoking book that brought about my decision to switch to a vegan diet nearly ten years ago.

Music in the Meadow will be held at the Animal Place Sanctuary at 17314 McCourtney Road in Grass Valley on Saturday, September 22nd, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tickets, which can be purchased online, cost $25 for adults and $12 for children under the age of 12. More information about this event is available at

Monday, August 27, 2012

Crocker Cafe by Supper Club

Last week, I visited the Crocker Art Museum to check out the fabulous contemporary glass and Mel Ramos exhibitions. After salivating over the artwork for awhile, I had worked up a serious appetite, so I took the elevator back down to the main floor and headed for the Crocker Cafe by Supper Club.

Since I arrived at the cafe after 2:00, I was too late for the hot food, but there was a nice variety of salads available, several of which were clearly marked as vegan. I decided to order a Salad Trio, and the three vegan salads I chose were the Thai noodle salad, the Napa cabbage slaw, and the seasonal fresh fruit salad. The Thai noodle salad was spicy and the slaw was even spicier, so the fruit salad was a refreshing contrast.

The salad selection at Crocker Cafe changes regularly, as does the soup selection. The day I was there, the menu included both a cold vegan soup (watermelon gazpacho) and a hot vegan soup (roasted red pepper, fennel, and saffron).

The Crocker Cafe is located inside the Crocker Art Museum at 216 O Street. Their telephone number is 916-808-1865 and their website address is The cafe is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. You do not need to buy a ticket to the museum in order to eat in the cafe.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Health Education Council Wants You to Rethink Your Drink!

Health Education Council (HEC), a nonprofit organization committed to eliminating preventable causes of death resulting from the use of tobacco, poor nutrition, and lack of physical activity, has launched a "Rethink Your Drink" campaign to encourage people to drink water and other healthy drinks instead of sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks. According to HEC, "[s]ugary drinks are the single largest contributor to added sugars in our diets, accounting for 22 percent of the empty calories consumed by children and teens."

To raise awareness of this issue, HEC is asking people to take the "Rethink Your Drink" pledge to drink water instead of sugary drinks for the next 30 days. They are hoping to collect 8,000 signatures by September 1st. Anyone signing the pledge will receive e-mails containing healthy beverage tips, recipes, and information to help keep them motivated. Anyone signing the pledge by August 31st will also be entered in a drawing for a $250 AMEX gift card.

So, what's the downside of cutting back on your soda intake and drinking water instead for the next 30 days? I can't think of one, and I'll bet you can't either. You can sign the "Rethink Your Drink" pledge by following this link: Who knows? You may feel so much better by the end of the 30 days that you'll decide to keep the pledge going for another 30!

More information about Health Education Council is available at

Monday, August 20, 2012

Emma's Tamales

Before Never Felt Better Vegan Shop closed a few months ago, I used to stop in from time to time to buy the vegan tamales made by Mother Earth's Baked Goods. This past weekend, I had a craving for those delicious tamales, so I decided to go right to the source and buy some for lunch. Fortunately, Emma's Tamales, which is where they are made, is right here in Sacramento.

For my lunch, I ordered a Chipotle Tofu Veggie tamale and an Original Savory half-pound tamale. The Chipotle Tofu Veggie tamale was spicy and very good, filled with corn, onions, chipotle sauce, and chunks of organic tofu made locally by Sacramento Tofu Co. Even better, though, was the Original Savory tamale, filled with a mixture of pinto beans, peanut butter, tomato sauce, green chiles, and various herbs and spices. It was outstanding! And since it seems like the number one question that vegans hear from non-vegans is "Where do you get your protein?", let me just point out that this baby contains eighteen grams of protein. I liked it so much that I bought a package of four to take home with me for future lunches.

Emma's Tamales also offers a delicious vegan tamale filled with pineapple, raisins, and coconut, which is perfect for breakfast or dessert. They used to make wonderful vegan pumpkin tamales for Never Felt Better Vegan Shop, but apparently the pumpkin tamales currently on their menu contain egg white.

Located in South Sacramento at 8101 Elder Creek Road, Unit P, at the corner of Power Inn Road and Elder Creek Road, Emma's Tamales is described on its menu as a "Tamale Factory Outlet and Omnivorous Eatery by the producers of Mother Earth's Natural Foods." It occupies a small space in a large warehouse building, and you can either buy your tamales to go or eat them at one of the tables set up on the premises. Their phone number is 916-387-6324, and their website address is They are open Monday through Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. They are closed on Sunday.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Alchemist CDC: Bringing Fresh Local Produce to Low-income Families

Today's mid-week article is one in an occasional series of posts about local non-profit organizations with programs that should appeal to my fellow vegans.

Alchemist Community Development Corporation is dedicated to making locally-grown produce available to families who may have difficulty obtaining fresh fruits and vegetables otherwise, either because of the cost or because of a lack of availability in their neighborhoods. Currently, they are offering the Market Match program to CalFresh (formerly known as food stamps) customers at farmers' markets. Market Match is a wonderful incentive that gives CalFresh customers extra purchasing power. CalFresh customers who spend at least $10 at the farmers’ market receive an extra $5 in Market Match to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Not only does this support our local farmers, but it also provides a great marketing and motivational tool to attract new CalFresh customers to farmers’ markets, which, in turn, helps build healthier shopping habits and the enjoyment of eating fresh, healthy produce.

Although Alchemist CDC has received a few generous donations to help keep the program going through these busy summer months, Market Match has been so successful that all funds have been expended, and the program will have to end soon, losing out on the opportunity to further build the CalFresh customer base during the peak growing season.

Alchemist CDC is reaching out to the community to ask for support to carry the Market Match program through their target date of September 15th. They estimate that they will need another $4,000 to make this happen. Every donation counts, big or small. Your tax-deductible donation can be made securely by clicking on the “donate” button on their web site. Be sure to put “Market Match” in the notes field. 100% of your Market Match donation goes directly toward healthy food purchases for low-income households.

Please share this with your Facebook friends, and feel free to spread the word via e-mail and other social media circles. Remember, every little bit helps!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Road Trip! Samba Brazilian Steakhouse at Universal Studios in Hollywood

My family and I took a trip down the California coast last week, beginning in beautiful Half Moon Bay and ending in high-energy Los Angeles. During most of the trip, I endured daily helpings of my last resort vegan meals of pasta with tomato sauce or veggie burgers. By the time we finished our day at Universal Studios and checked out the restaurants on the Universal City Walk, I was desperate for something fun and exciting to eat.

Which is how we ended up at Samba Brazilian Steakhouse, of all places. While the guys in my family ate themselves into a meat coma, I feasted on a variety of fabulous salads from the best salad bar ever. There were probably at least ten to twelve vegan salads available, but the five I tried were:

• Beets and asparagus with walnuts
• Green beans, red bell pepper, and onion
• Couscous with peas, corn, and onion
• Tomatoes with basil
• Wild rice with pineapple, red bell pepper, and red onion

Other salads that appeared to be vegan included a penne pasta salad with parsley and olives; fresh melon salad; kidney bean salad; garbanzo bean salad; and mushroom salad.

I guess the moral of the story is that if you're going to eat in a steakhouse, pick one where the staff takes as much care with their vegetables as they do with their meat. It's safe to say that this was absolutely my best meal of the trip.

Samba Brazilian Steakhouse is located at 1000 Universal City Walk, #101H in Universal City. Their phone number is 818-763-0101, and their website address is The restaurant is open Sunday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. until midnight.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Extreme Pizza

My son Zack and I stopped in at Extreme Pizza recently because I had read that they offered cheeseless pizza and I wanted to check it out. What I discovered when I read their menu is that Extreme Pizza actually offers several different vegetarian pizzas, many of which can be made without cheese.

But since I was there to try the cheeseless pizza, I ordered the White Out, which is pizza spread with tomato sauce and topped with mushrooms, carmelized onions, broccoli, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, basil, and oregano. It was tasty, and I liked the not-too-thick, not-too-thin pizza crust. However, I'm not really a fan of broccoli on pizza, even though I love it in stir-frys. So the next time I visit Extreme Pizza, I intend to try the Peace in the Middle East pizza (without the feta and mozzarella), which is spread with hummus and topped with tomatoes, black olives, carmelized onions, basil, and pepperoncini.

Other vegetarian pizzas at Extreme Pizza that could easily be made without the cheese include:

• Pandora's Box, if ordered without feta and mozzarella, is topped with spinach, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, basil, and oregano. It can also be spread with tomato sauce at no extra cost.

• Drag It Through the Garden, if ordered without mozzarella and cheddar, is spread with tomato sauce and topped with mushrooms, green peppers, red onions, artichoke hearts, broccoli, tomatoes, and basil.

• The Screamin' Tomato, if ordered without mozzarella and cheddar, is topped with tomatoes, garlic, and basil. Tomato sauce can be added at no extra cost.

Extreme Pizza also offers some salads that could be made vegan if the cheese, and probably the croutons, were omitted. I generally omit the croutons wherever I go, as they usually contain Parmesan cheese or some other type of dairy product.

Extreme Pizza is a national chain with restaurants in thirteen states. There used to be six Extreme Pizza restaurants in the Sacramento area, but the only one remaining is located at 1140 Exposition Blvd., Suite 200, near Costco and REI. Their phone number is 916-925-8859, and their website address is They are open Monday through Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and on Sunday from noon to 9:00 p.m.