Sunday, December 15, 2013

Books for the Vegans on Your Holiday Shopping List

For my last blog post of the year, I thought I'd recommend a few books to give your vegan or vegan-curious friends this holiday season. For the sake of convenience, these links lead to Amazon's website, but you can probably order these books from your local independent bookseller, which will help to keep your money working in your own community.

One of the most talked about vegan-interest books over the last couple of years has been Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health. With advice from long-time vegan advocates T. Colin Campbell, Caldwell Esselstyn, John MacDougall, and others, Forks Over Knives not only explains why a plant-based diet is good for you, it also provides a plan for getting started and dozens of healthy recipes. A Forks Over Knives DVD is also available. Check out the Forks Over Knives website at

Fans of Lindsay Nixon's Happy Herbivore cookbooks will be happy to know that a new one came out earlier this month. Happy Herbivore Light & Lean: Over 150 Low-Calorie Recipes with Workout Plans for Looking Great and Feeling Great may be just the remedy needed for anyone on your shopping list who's been indulging in holiday treats all month. Additional recipes, as well as complete meal plans, are available at

Post Punk Kitchen maven Isa Chandra Moskowitz also has a new cookbook out just in time for the holidays. In addition to dozens and dozens of mouth-watering recipes, Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week includes helpful tips about how to equip your kitchen and stock your pantry, shortcuts to make cooking a little less time-consuming, and a list of ingredients that can be substituted for various allergens.

If you have a friend who keeps talking about going vegan but just hasn't taken the plunge, Dr. Neal Barnard's 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart: Boost Metabolism, Lower Cholesterol, and Dramatically Improve Your Health may provide the incentive he or she needs. Dr. Barnard provides a wealth of information in this book about the benefits of a plant-based diet and offers suggestions on how to develop healthy eating habits. More information about Dr. Barnard and his Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is available at

I always love to hear about vegan athletes, since the conventional wisdom seems to be that an athlete can't get enough protein to be competitive without eating meat. In No Meat Athlete: Run on Plants and Discover Your Fittest, Fastest, Happiest Self, marathoner Matt Frazier shares his story about how switching to a vegan diet not only did nothing to hinder his running, but made it possible for him to run longer and faster. Learn more about No Meat Athlete at

I'll be taking a break from this blog until after the first of the year. Best wishes to you and your families for a happy holiday season!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Kasbah Lounge

My husband Phil and I had dinner at Kasbah Lounge on J Street over the weekend. Kasbah is next door to Tapa the World, and both restaurants have the same owners. They also share the same vegan menu. When I went to Tapa the World a couple of weeks ago, I ordered a Spanish entrée. This time, I ordered a Middle Eastern entrée.

First, though, Phil and I ordered the Aceitunas (olives) to share. They appeared to be the same type of olives that were served at Tapa the World, but the olives at Kasbah were seasoned with chilies and other spices. The plate in the picture below looks a little messy, but that's because we had already dug into the olives before remembering to take a picture.

Next, I had the Mixta Salad, mixed greens served with an oil and vinegar dressing. Adding pear slices to the salad was a nice touch.

My entrée was the Vegetable Tagine, which is vegan if ordered without the rice or lebne (yogurt). I asked the server what non-vegan ingredient was in the rice, but she didn't know. At any rate, the tagine itself consisted of beets, peas, garbanzo beans, zucchini, and onions in a tomato-based sauce. I don't think I've ever had beets in a Middle Eastern dish before, but I really liked them in the tagine.

The only vegan dessert was sorbet, so I ended the meal with a tasty dish of banana sorbet. The other flavor option that night was guava.

I really enjoyed my evening at Kasbah, and hope to revisit the restaurant many times. I'm so glad the brother and sister team that owns Kasbah and Tapa the World has created a menu especially for their vegan diners.

Kasbah is located at 2115 J Street, and their phone number is 916-442-4388. Their website address is The restaurant is open daily from 5:00 p.m.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Sacatomatoes Food Truck

First, there was 'Wich on Wheels. Then followed Broderick Roadhouse and Wicked 'Wich at the Downtown Plaza. Now comes the newest culinary venture from Chris Jarosz, the Sacatomatoes food truck. According to the Sacatomatoes Facebook page, the constantly evolving menu will focus on locally-sourced foods.

I found the Sacatomatoes truck in the REI parking lot this past weekend and ordered the vegan soy tacos, with a side of fries. The filling for the tacos is described on the menu board as "textured soy deliciousness," and it really was very tasty. The tacos are topped with a pico de gallo that includes chopped cabbage, tomato, apple, green onions, and ginger. A dollop of vegan sour cream is the crowning touch. I ordered two, but these are big tacos. Since I was getting fries too, one taco would have been plenty for me.

The sole purpose of the frying oil on the Sacatomatoes food truck is to cook the fries, so you don't need to worry about whether something non-vegan has been cooked in the same oil. The fries were delicious.

A vegan special was also on the menu the day I was there: a black bean curry burger. I hope to try that on a future visit to Sacatomatoes.

With no fixed location, the best way to find out where you can catch up with the Sacatomatoes truck is to follow them on Facebook and Twitter (@Sacatomatoes). Definitely worth the trip!