Posts Tagged: vegan

VegFest 2014 Vol. 1

Good day everyone,

I must admit, I am currently under the influence of one heaping scoop of cocoa powder in my morning smoothie, and ready to talk about Veg Fests!  This coming April 5th, here in Austin, TX, we will have our very own Texas Veg Fest (year 3), and I know it’s going to be even bigger and better than the last two years.  The first year I just attended, but last year I was a volunteer with the information booth and this year I’m volunteering with the AV team, and I’m excited!

Let’s start with a little about Vegfest.  Vegfest is just that, a festival that focuses on vegetarian cuisine and more specifically, 100% plant-based, not animal product cuisine and oftentimes sustainability through lifestyle choices and animal rights.  It occurs annually in different cities and in different formats in each city.

Texas Vegfest of Austin, occurs by the beautiful Lady Bird Lake and is loaded with over a hundred vendors, cooking demos and lectures, music performers, speakers and tastings galore!  I don’t suggest attending this festival while doing a ‘cleanse’ as there will be far too many temptations.


I am looking forward to Saturday where I’ll get to help out, meet people, try new things and mingle with veggie thoughts.  I hope you’ll join me and many others!  Be sure to stay tuned next week for ‘Veg Fest Vol.2’, where I will discuss post-fest topics and what went down.

Short and sweet to the sole today–love you Dandies.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

Rachel Manning

Splendid Springtime Spaghetti with Toasted Seeds


Good Day Everyone,

Happy Vernal Equinox !

Springtime represents so many things in our society, that it’s hard to overlook this major transitional period–and subsequently positive alteration to the environment–by way of beautiful blooms, pollination and the beginning of a new growing season.  Spring washes over us all and makes way for sweet morning reads by a window and fresh spring salads to compliment the change of weather.


As March settles in, I am finding my time being stretched in different directions and all I can think about lately is savory goodness to satisfy my longing to stay nourished through the busy days of work and creative projects. This recipe revealed itself one late afternoon while I was alone in the kitchen and peeking into our refrigerator for what we had “in stock” at the time.  These are the moments I enjoy most in the culinary experience because my imagination stands a chance.  Have you ever heard that we all like a range of options, but if you present too many, we’re less likely to come to a solidified choice?  Well on this particular afternoon, we were just scant enough in the produce department that is our kitchen, that I felt a happy inclination towards this vibrant and delicious spaghetti dish.

I  knew I wanted pasta, but mother time had not gifted enough to me in this instance to warrant making it from scratch.  However, I was able to use Tinkyada spaghetti noodles and they were just what I had in mind.  I wanted a noodle I could wrap my fork around and spaghetti, along with farfalle, remind me of Spring!  Also, I wanted to–as I’m sure most of you know about me–balance color, but I did lean on the green end for this dish.

I wanted to balance the semi-soft nature of the dish with something crunchy, and after cutting open the butternut squash, I was in luck; seeds!  I decided to combine the butternut squash seeds with the other three you’ll see listed below to make a nice crunchy medley.  Honestly, I initially wanted these roasted, but I went with toasted and I was pleased with the results, however I recommend trying both ways.  Additionally, I did not hull the butternut squash seeds but ate them as they are.

The peas and the butternut squash balanced their sweetness and semi-savory nature perfectly and will dance on your palette with divine texture and pleasure.

Take a moment this spring to appreciate the colors nature offers, appreciate the remainder of veggies nestled in your fridge and prepare yourself a happy Spring sketti!


 Splendid Springtime Spaghetti (gluten-free)


  • 1 package gluten-free spaghetti (I used the Tinkyada brown rice kind, but the quinoa pasta is great too!)
  • 1/2 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 5 or 6 sun dried tomatoes (cut into strips and re-hydrated if purchased dried–boil water and place dried tomatoes in hot water after removing from heat; soak for 10 min.)
  • 7 or 8 thin slices of purple onion (cut in half, and separate into slivers)
  • 4 white mushrooms (cut into thin slices)
  • 1 bundle of flat leaf parsley(leaves and majority of stems minced)
  • 1 1/4 cup red kidney beans (cooked and drained)
  • 6 or 7 glugs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt to taste

Ingredients (toppings)

  • 1/2 medium to large butternut squash (roasted strips)
  • A couple of glugs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • A few shakes or cranks black pepper
  • All butternut squash seeds from cut squash (rinsed well and partially dried–either toss pulp or use for compost)
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds (raw; optional)
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds (raw; optional)
  • 1/2 avocado (per person, thin slices)

Instructions  (butternut squash)

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF
  2. Rinse and peel squash and chop off bottom and top
  3. Slice in half through the vertical perimeter and then use seed scooper or large spoon to scoop out seeds  and pulp
  4. Place seeds into a bowl reserving them for the seed mixture topping (see above)
  5. Cut  squash into 1/2 inch thick strips, about an inch and a half long
  6. Place squash strips in medium bowl and cover with a couple of glugs olive oil, salt and pepper
  7. Toss squash with hands until it is lightly coated with oil, salt and pepper
  8. Distribute squash evenly on baking sheet and bake for 30 to 35 minutes (flip half-way)
  9. Once baking is complete, place aside

Instructions (pasta dish)

  1. Begin by prepping all veggies
  2. Boil enough water to be able to submerge entire pasta amount (I break pasta in half); salt pasta once pasta is added.  Cook 10 – 15 minutes or until pasta is al dente.  Gluten-free pasta can get mushy very easily, that’s why you want it to be slightly undercooked or perhaps this is your taste
  3. Drain, rinse and place pasta back into sauce pan or pot
  4. Add olive oil and all spices and marjoram to cooked pasta
  5. Add all veggies except butternut squash
  6. Mix well, but gently so as to not tear apart the spaghetti
  7. Add lemon juice and salt to taste and stir
  8. Keep over a very low heat to warm until the next step is complete
  9. In a bowl, mix together all seeds, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper (lightly coating seeds)
  10. In a dry skillet, over medium heat, add seeds and toast until golden brown (note:  add the sesame seeds toward the end of the toasting process as they will brown much faster than the other seeds)
  11. Serve pasta in bowls and place butternut squash slices on top, then fan out avocado slices and finally sprinkle with seed mixture
  12. Serves:  Approx. 4 people
  13. Enjoy out on the patio, your front steps or in whatever immediate outdoors area you have and I recommend following this meal (15-30 minutes later of course :p) with a kombucha!

splendidspringtimespaghetti5I hope you all enjoy this meal and please let me know your thoughts and experiences welcoming Spring.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,


Kitchen Letters #4: Brunch Brings a Choco Nana Oatmeal “Shuffle” Bake

Dear World,

I am full of thoughts lately, always really, b u t e v e n m o r e l a t e l y ! !  In Austin, brunch is kind of a big deal, as if there weren’t enough social events occurring on a regular basis, brunch is thrown into the mix to add more fringe to already tethered t-shirt that is traffic in Austin.  My thought, STAY HOME!  Too often today we tie ourselves to the social obligations and financial obligations of going out and about on the town nary appreciating what we have in our home, whatever ‘home’ means to you.  In an effort to be both practical but not distress the abstract, I want to bring the conversation back to basics.  That’s why, I decided there’s nothing better than a little sassy  shuffle at home to go with your homemade noms–I’m still polishing my running man, it’s a mess…chachahca!  Although I’m normally more of a savory tooth when it comes to any food item before dinner, I couldn’t resist the idea of an oatmeal bake nuzzled in a gooey chocolate sauce.  May I introduce the Choco Nana Oatmeal “Shuffle” Bake…all rights reserved.  :p

So, let’s say a blissful brunch “bottoms-up” to this delicious treat, and be grateful for the leftovers.

Here’s my long awaited second video.  If you’ve forgotten the first video, you could turn your first at home brunch-bunch gathering into an all day culinary affair and make some homemade gluten-free pasta.  Delightful.

Videos are also streaming on the Connect a Bite YouTube channel, subscribe and never miss one!




 Choco Nana Oatmeal “Shuffle” Bake


  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats (gluten-free, Bob’s Red Mill is what I use)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 very ripe banana (peeled)
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 1 3/4 vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup walnut & pecan mixture (I like to break them up a little)
  • 3 tbsp chocolate chips (I used these Enjoy Life)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup (heaping) peaches (cut into slices)

Ingredients (toppings)

  • 1 ripe banana (peeled)
  • 1/3 cup walnut & pecan mixture (broken into pieces)
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao
  • 1 1/2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • Alteration to video:  added 1 to 2 tbsp water to make the sauce more fluid
  • 2 tbsp coconut flakes


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF
  2. Have a 8 or 9” baking dish ready (or whatever deep dish you have handy)
  3. Plop and pour water, almond milk, coconut oil, banana, coconut sugar, maple syrup, ground flax seed, vanilla extract, and salt into blender container and blend until mixed, but some minor chunks remaind.
  4. Now, mix oats, chocolate chips, cinnamon and nut mixture (I use my hands)
  5. Now, in the baking dish, line the bottom with peach slices in rows (in a spiral if using a round dish).  Then sprinkle the blueberries on top.
  6. Over the fruit, distribute dry oats mixture evenly
  7. Pour the liquid mixture over oats evenly
  8. Place dish in the oven & bake for 40 minutes or until the dish is no longer runny and golden brown on the top
  9. While the oats bake, prepare coconut flake/nut mixture and chocolate drizzle
  10. In dry skillet, spread coconut flakes out with nuts over low to medium heat and toast until flakes are golden brown (careful not to burn)
  11. In a small sauce pan or skillet, combine coconut oil, maple syrup and raw cacao (from ‘toppings’ list) and stir with spoon until well mixed and chocolate has melted.  Additionally, I amended what I did in the video and added a couple tbsp of water
  12. After taking out the bake, scoop out a portion onto a plate or bowl
  13. Top with coconut flake, nut mixture, then chocolate drizzle, then cut chunks of banana on top
  14. Apprécier avec le thé ou le café ! 😀



I hope this is just as delightful for all of you as it was for us.  Let me know what you think and if you made any alterations.  I end up tweaking this recipe each time I make it.  Also, I want to say a ‘web’ thanks to my love for putting so much thought and care into this video and my first–if you’re interested, Film Fringe, is his podcast with a close friend and also avid film lover!  We make a great production team, and I’m thankful he honored me with his talents. Love.

Alright all of you, be well and remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy and tasty regards,


Check out more Kitchen letters here!

New York Food Retrospective

Hello Everyone,

It has been FAR, FAR too long since I have written a piece or posted photos.  Whirlwind life!  I suppose as John Lennon once said–please excuse the over-quote–“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans”.  Thanks for your patience and still coming to my blog, despite my absence.  I hope for a revitalization, and I would like to kick it off with some photos from our–my love and I–trip to New York in  October.  I didn’t get as many pics of food as I would have liked mostly because I was so entranced in the experience–many scrumptious things will be left out in the photo bomb below–so hopefully you all will understand.  Also, the photo quality is not quite where I would prefer it to be, but when you are ready to chow down on something delicious, spending too much time taking photos takes away from the experience.

We had an incredible time to say the very least and woah did we ever gormandize the hell out of some food.  New York definitely lends itself as a food conscious city, as does Brooklyn.  We experienced many delicious meals, enticing desserts, enchanting teas, and some that didn’t really shoot us over the moon.

Welcome to a little taste of our New York dining experience.


We stayed in a sweet neighborhood in Harlem–in a brownstone that was over 100 years old–and a just around the corner was the most amazing tea and spice shop.  This was, besides dropping off our bags, the first place we visited and one of the last.  As soon as you pass under the threshold of the shop, you’re transported to another world.  The baristas were serving mainly tea–you can see the selection of just SOME of the teas behind the young woman below–but my love ordered coffee all THREE times we went, and said it was the best coffee he had ever tasted.  Not only do the workers in this shop put great care into every drink they prepare, they have the most open, and caring dispositions.  We sat at their bar and chatted with them about New York, and a myriad of other things, their product knowledge was impressively extensive.  They offered numerous samples and challenged our pallets with things we had never tried before.  Oh, Serengeti, I miss you so!  If you’re ever in New York, hop on the sub-way over to this shop, you won’t regret it!


Italian press of a rooibos blend tea. My lovely Barista, our very first day in New York.


Me, enjoying some of the crisp and open rooibos. I tried it iced the first day, as when we arrived it was pretty sticky outside.



I knew while on our vacation, I would let loose a bit with food (I ate some gluten, sugar, and some un-fermented soy…woah! :p), so I decided to supplement my gut with some New York local raw slaw. It was fantastic and definitely helped out!

Champs Family Bakery

On our wedding anniversary, I was happily surprised with an entire day planned out of wonderful excursions and yummy eats.  This was where we had lunch, and it was delectable!  All vegan menu, and  I added biscuits to my order both times we went–yes, we went twice– because I adore biscuits.  The meals we ordered were ‘breakfast’ in theme and I love that they placed water on the table–in large glass bottles with clamping lids–so you could serve yourself when you got thirsty.  Below is my love, chowin’ down!  I would recommend this place to anyone visiting New York, and in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn.  Many of the menu items can be altered to food intolerances, sensitivities, allergies or personal choices.  This neighborhood has such eccentric character and beautiful architecture, a dreamy scene for sure.


 Candle 79

On the evening of our anniversary, we dined in a plant-based, elegant dining restaurant in upper-east Manhattan.  Candle 79’s menu displayed a range of items that are locally sourced and sustainably made with attention to organic fare, and doesn’t bock at ingredient opt outs, like soy and wheat.  There is also a Candle 79 cookbook , that is highly rated and I’m looking forward to scouring through it.  Back to our experience.  We were able to get to know the manager of Candle 79, and chat with her about the restaurant and spots in New York to check out, and our server was very pleasant and helpful.  After an appetizer and delicious entree–which we ended up trading–we moved onto an astronomical dessert, that left little want for MORE chocolate.  We are very fortunate and happy to have experienced such a divine dining experience.


Our appetizer: cornmeal poppers on ancho chili aioli. These were crisp!


entrée: Crusted seitan with brussels sprouts, shallots, mashed potatoes and more all delightfully hidden.


entrée: Live zucchini enchiladas with toasted pumpkin seeds, jicima salad and more!

Dunwell Doughnuts

A doughnut shop that teleports you to another time.  All I can say is I am not a doughnut person, but these were pretty yummy.  Beautifully presented, creative venue with a decent tea selection–earned points for presentation of tea display and in the cup–and had mini cake doughnuts we could take to-go.  Williamsburg, Brooklyn has another gem in their midst.




We wrestled up a very hedonistic meal one afternoon, very bumpin’ place.


Alice’s Tea Cup

As with any trip or outing, I must partake in tea time and this trip was filled with tea stops galore.  While at Alice’s Tea Cup–a cute and eclectic stop in the upper east side–we had yummy scones and I enjoyed a cleansing herbal tea.





Enlightening plant-based menu, happy lunch stop on a museum day.


Babycakes NYC

Tiny shop in Brooklyn, how you stole my heart.  I anticipated this bakery for quite sometime before our departure to New York, and my expectations were exonerated with happy smiles and pleased taste buds.  This was easily, one of the tastiest doughnuts I’ve ever had, and my love felt the same way, and he’s a doughnut guru.  We ordered the nomnoms you see below, with a couple of things to-go because we couldn’t resist.  Babycakes represents another food-sensitivity conscious bakery that are becoming ever so popular, and to my happy surprise, they were flourishing with business.  If you’re in the lower-east side near China town, don’t miss this place!


Interior of Babycakes from the window bench seat.


Some of our tantilizing, edible loot.

Caffe Reggio

Known for serving the first cappuccino in all the US, this dark and broody caffè was a wonderful place to write a postcard or letter–which I did!  While sipping on some hot apple cider, and a pumpkin latte for the mr., we enjoyed the sounds and chatter of Greenwich village in a place that felt timeless.  Our energetic and Italian barista was a joy to be around and took some very lovely photos of us–with what seemed to be a family member–before we departed.  Ciao!


Cafe Viva Natural Pizza

Located in East Village, this was our kind of New York Pizza, covered in mushrooms, onions, garlic and so much more, my eyes were bigger than my stomach.  Wonderful variety of pizza, mostly plant-based, some with diary, and a couple of gluten-free.  Fantastic!


Couldn’t leave New York without having some pizza, one of our favorite things to chow down on.


Bhatti Indian Grill

This exquisite Indian restaurant was an accidental find on our way to a planned-out dinner excursion.  I’m glad we stumbled upon this place amongst the other fine Indian cuisine restaurants in this neighborhood.  We enjoyed a range of items from the menu and left not surprisingly stuffed, which I normally would never recommend, but in this place, you can’t resist!


Bhatti’s ceiling decor.

No. Sleep. Till Brooklyn


Lively and captivating graffiti fruit near Fine and Raw chocolatiere in Brooklyn.

Beyond Sushi

Before Beyond Sushi , I can’t remember the last time I had a beautiful, fresh and yummy sushi roll.  These were completely plant-based and out of this world, delicious.  Very aesthetically pleasing and packed with veggie sauces and pastes that help boost their nutrient content.  Although this place is like many eateries in New York, small and intimate, the service was wonderful and we lucked out with a table.  A must try place!


Pure Food and Wine

My husband and I shared our last meal at Pure Food and Wine and I’m so pleased we did.  Masterfully put together raw dishes, fresh, on-tap kombucha, and a tower of chocolate–literally.  This is another extension restaurant–which seems to be very popular in New York–and Pure Food and Wine is represented by two books.


A kind hostess took this photo for us after our dessert.

There are a number of other amazing plant-based places to get your gormandize on while in New York, but I won’t list them all.  Send me an email or comment below if you’d like more insight on the places I’ve talked about in this post or want more ideas for other places to check-out.  Our list is pretty extensive. ^____^

Overall, our New York consumption was incredible.  When I was in doubt, I turned to my kombuchas, raw slaw, and power snacks by Navitas.  This trip taught me so much about the inner-connections of the food community and the awareness of some and necessity of others to challenge their daily thoughts about what they’re eating and how we really can make a difference if we have the resources.  How did this trip teach me this?  While in New York, I was able to come in close contact with many individuals in the food realm that showed genuine and true passion for what they were doing.  They were well versed on their trade or a topic of their trade and most swelled with a deep since of pride.  It was contagious and electrifying!  Upon departure from New York, I am more inspired than ever to continue down my path of becoming more connected to the food world in whatever way I’m able to.  I gained a confidence in my abilities to communicate with others either in writing, service to the community or in the preparation of meals.  And best of all, my husband and best friend has been by my side to charge my mind and heart with positivity. <3

Looking back through all of our many photos and videos, I realized how this trip not only taught me to open up my mind even more, but it implored an even deeper feeling of humility and graciousness in my heart.

On that note, I would like to come to a close by thanking all of those working hard in the food world or trying to get their feet wet in the food world.  None of us would be here without you, and we certainly wouldn’t be as well-informed or well nourished.  You all are phenomenal.

And remember…bite responsibly!

With love, gratitude and in health,


Cinema Cuisine: Italy – L’eclisse [1st Video]



Hello Everyone,

My experience with preparing and cooking the assorted dishes for Cinema Cuisine, Italy, was that much more care, devotion, patience and love had to go into each dish.  What do I mean?  Oftentimes in the kitchen, as much as possible, I try to be efficient and quick in my approach to making a meal.  I embrace delicate measures when necessary, but otherwise, I’m multitasking and moving from one dish to the next, incorporating one spice or ingredient after the next. After much sweat and heart, the meal is complete.  Shortly after, I either feel one of two things: a strong sense of accomplishment and elation or a mild sense of disappointment and anxiety.   These feelings are common because I’m either pleased with my creations or I’m displeased with–by my standards–an unsatisfactory outcome.  Either way, I’m able to enjoy my creations with a loved one and, being the critic that I am, dissect the many facets of the meal.  With this in mind, for my Italian meal I allowed self and outside critique, but I channeled a level of love into the process of making the dishes that I rarely do.  It was one of my most enjoyable cooking experiences yet.

Before the big meal, my love and I knew we needed to begin the process of making the homemade pasta for a few reasons, but mostly because we had never used a pasta maker before.  For the winter holiday of 2012, we received an authentic, Italian press (with some extra attachments) and a bamboo wooden drying rack for the pasta.  Up until the end of June, we had yet to crack open the box, and this lack of attention to this thoughtful pasta making gift set in motion my idea of choosing Italy as our next film and cuisine exploration.

Below you’ll find many recipes and my FIRST VIDEO that you too could incorporate into a day or days of Italian themed dishes.  Most of them are my own creations and ideas, but some are inspired by wonderful chefs I’ve discovered.  I hope you enjoy every bite and appreciate the process of making this meal or meals as much as I did.  What is more, as the Italians do, enjoy this meal with a group of people and even encourage a potluck. Making all of these delicious recipes and more could turn into an all day affair.  For me, there’s nothing more rewarding and satisfying.

A quick note on L’eclisse.  Why–before the viewing of this film–I had yet to see an Antonioni film, escapes me, but I can say these dishes couple consummately as their simplicity matches the contemplative and confident manner of this movie.  Please, enjoy every bite and every frame.

Keep a look out for our podcast where you’ll hear much more depth into L’eclisse. I’ll post it in a few days!  Please let me know what you think of the recipes and the tweaks you made to your own creations.  And remember…bite responsibly!



Raw Cacao, Avocado Pudding/Spread w/ Apple slices & Italian Press Coffee


  • 2 ripe medium avocados
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 to 3 tbsp unsweetened almond (or coconut) milk to taste
  • 1 to 2 tbsp pure maple syrup to taste
  • 1 or 2 drops of liquid stevia to taste (slightly more liberal w/ powder version)
  • 6 tbsp raw cacao
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 large apple of your choice (pear)
  • fresh coffee beans
  • coffee press
  • water



For Pudding/Spread

  1. Slice the avocado lengthwise to break past the outter skin barrier, remove the pit and spoon out contents into high powered blender/food processor
  2. Add vanilla, maple syrup, raw cacao, cinnamon and the first tbsp of almond milk
  3. Blend until a smooth, creamy texture is reached (note:  Add remaining tbsp of milk if mixture is too dry. Additionally if not sweet enough, add in stevia–take care to not add too much initially as excessive amounts could make the pudding/spread too bitter.)
  4. Slice apple with skin on and enjoy it with liberal amounts of this delicious pudding

For Coffee Press

  1. Coarsely grind two tbsp of coffee for ever 6 oz of water
  2. Begin to heat water, don’t boil
  3. Place ground coffee beans at the bottom of your press
  4. Pour VERY hot water (not boiling) over beans and immediately cover with coffee press lid, but do NOT press down filtration piece yet; let sit for 3-5 minutes
  5. Press down filtration press piece and pour into your favorite mug
  6. ENJOY!



This dish could also be made with soft and soaked medjool dates (6 to 8). I happened to not have any on hand. Raisins would also be a nice substitute.

Also, Italians often enjoy their chocolate spread with bread or toast.

For a more dense protein treat, add some pre-soaked raw pecans (you’ll get a flavor closer to Nutella but without the hazlenuts).

Should store, refrigerated for up to two days.  After two days I’d smell it/taste it.


Flavorful and full-bodied coffee beans from


Italian Summer Salad

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 large portions or 6 smaller portions)

  • 1 head romaine lettuce (chopped)
  • 1/2 large cucumber (sliced thinly into half moons)
  • colorful sweet peppers of your choices (I chose:  1 purple, 1 red, 1 green, 1 banana; thinly sliced rings)


  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar (if you’re watching alkalinity, nix this and add an extra 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar)
  • salt to taste
  • course, freshly ground pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp & 1 tsp dried Italian herb mixture (my mixture is:  thyme, basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, marjoram; if you have fresh herbs available, curve the amount; also, the dressing cannot be kept as long)



For Salad

  1. After cleaning, chopping and drying lettuce, place it in a large bowl
  2. Add pepper rings and cucumber slices
  3. Toss with clean hands until vegetables are all mixed

For Dressing

  1. Pour liquids into a jar and then add remainder of ingredients
  2. Place lid on the top of jar and shake until mixture combines
  3. Before mixture separates, conservatively pour over salad
  4. Enjoy salad soon, or lettuce will wilt.  If only enjoying in single portions, plate salad portion and drizzle dressing over individually.  Secure remaining dressing with lid, store at room temperature

summa cucumber

summa salad

Beet Balls


  • Please see my previous post for the beet ball recipe HERE.
  • Some tweaks: I adjusted the herb mixture, type of mushroom and nut when I made these recently, and unlike my old post, I find that golden beets do bring out a more savory nature to these balls.


Sauteed Summer Squash


  • 3 summer squash (yellow & zucchini, mixture of your choosing; thinly sliced into half strips)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp grapeseed oil/coconut oil
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste



  1. After slicing squash and mincing garlic, heat skillet over medium heat and add oil
  2. Once oil is hot–should move like water in the pan–gently place squash slices into skillet and gently toss until every piece is covered with oil
  3. After beginning to brown, add garlic
  4. Cook until gentle (to fork) and garlic is fragrant, lightly browned, but not burnt; about 7 minutes
  5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss, serve and enjoy ^_^


Homemade Pasta (gluten-free, soy-free, vegan)

Recipe by:  Cassie


  • 2 tbsp flax (ground)
  • 6 tbsp warm water
  • 1 3/4 cup chickpea flour (additional amount for rolling out and pressing)


Check out my very first instructional video (also streaming on YouTube) on how to make homemade pasta!



  • I made farfalle and fettuccine noodles (both of which fell apart to some degree). I’ll need to do my own personal tweaking to the recipe for the future. Don’t overcook!
  • SALT the water!
  • Make sure you have plenty of flour for rolling out and putting dough through pasta press, otherwise you’ll have a sticky mess.
  • I also recommend keeping a small bowl of cool water nearby wherever your hands are when rolling out the dough. This works much better with moist hands (the dough will not cling to your fingers in such large clumps with a little water).
  • Have a partner! Though you could make this pasta alone, I think it would be more fun and easier with a buddy.
  • Give yourself plenty of time and space. Don’t let the ingredients deceive you, this recipe is relatively time consuming, especially if you’re in a moderately cramped space.
  • Please do not get discouraged if you are in a one butt kitchen or don’t have a pasta press, this is completely doable without both, but it will be more challenging.  Respect your space and the amount of time it will take to make.
  • Kick back and enjoy the experience, otherwise you’ll botch the recipe and process and find yourself very frustrated.
  • Stick to the instructions in the video. Although I’m an advocate of going with the flow in recipes, skipping or rushing a step could lead to problems. :(


Walnut Basil Pesto


  • 1/2 to 1 cup raw walnuts–depending on how ‘nutty’ you want your pesto (soaked w/ apple cider vinegar for 6 hours, rinsed)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups loosely pressed basil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (more or less to your desired consistency)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (more or less to your desired consistency, taste)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste



  1. Place nuts, oil and all other ingredients in high-powered blender or food processor
  2. Begin to blend and slowly increase speed to high
  3. Use bowl scraper to wipe sides of container and blend once more to catch the rest of the ingredients that may have splattered
  4. Depending on the consistency you want (either chunky or smooth), pace your blending
  5. Serve mixed into pasta (specifically for this recipe) and freeze the remainder in an ice-cube tray covered in plastic wrap


  • This will make a sizable amount. Try freezing the remainder in ice-cube trays and cover with plastic wrap.  Later, you have a quick meal as all you’ll have to do is pop a pesto cube onto your dish and heat it up or thaw it out.


Italian Creamy White Sauce w/ Parsley and Grape Tomatoes

Follow directions HERE for dressing then do the following:


  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1 garlic clove (yes, more garlic)
  • 3 tsp dried Italian herb mixture
  • water to desired consistency (unsweetened almond milk for a thicker consistency)
  • 6 grape tomatoes (quartered)
  • handful of fresh flat leaf parsley (gently minced; lucky me, this go round I had some from my herb garden!)


  1. Follow instructions for dressing FIRST
  2. Next, add cashews, garlic, Italian herb mixture and water
  3. Blend once more
  4. Serve mixed into pasta (add in parsley and quartered grape tomatoes), or over your favorite, homemade gluten-free pizza crust (without the added parsley, just the tomatoes)!


  • Italians typically serve a plain or ‘pasta blanco’ for ease of digestion as a more minimal dish. I dressed up the idea but created a vegan, high protein/omega-3 cream sauce, free of soy and other additives.





Healthy Regards,




Italian Breakfast

Italy Food Culture

Primer – Italian Food Culture

Peruvian Chili Lime Stir-Fry w/ Vermecilli Noodles

Peruvian Chili Lime Stir-Fry w/ Vermicelli Noodles

Peruvian Chili Lime Stir-Fry w/ Vermicelli Noodles

Hi everyone!  Another recipe awaits!

A friend recently received his Master’s degree and in celebration I made an on the spot stir-fry.  Recently he asked me for the recipe and it occurred to me I did not write down the creation. Since then, I have mulled over what I could have possibly used and what follows is the recipe–as close as I can recall–and a few pics that my love happened to take that night.

Friendships and Food

Our friend is of Latino descent and his lovely girlfriend (also a close friend) is very involved and interested in Mexican culture.  Additionally, they are both vegetarian, which worked out well for the ideas I had for the dish because I didn’t have to hold back on any of the veggies I wanted to include.  I decided on an Asian themed dish but with a Latino (South American) twist.  I wanted to make something that the two of them had never tried and it turns out I did!

When I think about eating and preparing food, I immediately think about sharing.  In many ways, I feel like food is one of the most wonderful and full-hearted gifts you could ever give someone.  A well prepared, home-cooked meal is full of dedication, trust, and creativity.  Food, as a gift, polishes the idea of friendship because it’s sharing a part of yourself with the people in your life that mean the most to you.  Preparing a meal, or giving the gift of food (especially if personally prepared, picked, sought out) is a way of leaving your mark on the world. Sadly, in some opinions, it’s much less permanent and much more easy to forget.  I say let us remember these acts and appreciate every bite!  Even when you’re sharing a meal with friends at a restaurant, take the time to truly appreciate the flavors, the environment and where the food came from. If it’s possible, you could even take the time to thank or compliment those who helped make the meal for you.  Take a picnic with your friends and enjoy nature while enjoying your basket or bag full of wonders.  Essentially, imbue the thought.  I hope all of you enjoy preparing this meal and are able to share it with someone extra special.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Peruvian Chili Lime Stir-Fry w/ Vermicelli Noodles

Peruvian Chili Lime Stir-Fry w/ Vermicelli Noodles

Peruvian Chili Lime Stir-Fry w/ Vermicelli Noodles

Ingredients / Utensils

  • 1 crown of broccoli (cut into small pieces, I even used 3/4 of the stalk and sliced it into very thin julienned pieces; waste not!)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (sliced into thin strips)
  • 1 large carrot or 2 medium carrots (or whatever amount seems right to you, julienned)
  • 1/2 large zucchini or 1 small (skin on, julienned)
  • small sweet peppers or 1 bell pepper (thinly sliced into rings)
  • 3 garlic cloves (more if you’re a garlic freak like me, minced)
  • 3 small Yukon potatoes (1/8 inch thinly sliced)
  • 4 or 5 white or baby bella mushrooms (thin, long vertical strips)
  • 1 lime (quartered)
  • 1 medium to large avocado (cut into strips)
  • dried vermicelli noodles (gluten-free, vegan; whatever amount suits the party you’re serving)
  • 1 package tempeh (cut into long, medium-sized strips or you can crumble it)
  • sesame seeds w/ dulse (used to garnish the dish at the end)
  • coconut oil or grape seed oil for sauté
  • drizzle of sesame oil for noodles
  • 1/4 tsp onion granules
  • 1/8 tsp garlic granules (more if you cut back on the garlic cloves)
  • pinch or two of cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1/8 tsp ginger powder (1 tsp minced if you have it fresh)
  • 1 tsp (or more to taste) Peruvian chili lime spice
  • 3 tbsp gluten-free, low-sodium tamari (or to taste, I normally just poor :/) (this is fermented soy sauce, better for your digestive system and shouldn’t wreak havoc on your hormones)
  • bamboo spoon or large bamboo chopsticks for mixing
  • sharp chefs knife
  • chopping board(s)
  • bowls (if you want to portion out your veggies)
  • measuring spoons
  • A wok is preferable for heating this meal, but if you have a large skillet this should do.


  1. Prepare all veggies first!  (I like to keep mine separated in bowls or on separate chopping boards organized by cooking order, but I’m a big dork.  :p )
  2. Once all veggies are cut, begin heating water for noodles.  Add noodles once water is boiling and cook for just a few minutes until tender.  Do not over cook, or they will become gummy!  At this point, line up your herbs, spices, and Tamari for easy access.  If you want to be especially tidy, you could allocate all of your spices into a small glass ramekin and then set the remainder of your bottles away, for less clean up time later.
  3. Begin by sautéing the garlic and onions until fragrant, then add in the tempeh and cook until tempeh turns a light golden color but before onions are caramelized.
  4. Next, add in the broccoli, carrots and potatoes. Cover and toss until just before tender.  Then, add in the remainder of the vegetables, cook until mushrooms produce an ever so slight broth.
  5. Follow-up by sprinkling in your herbs and spices and mix everything together gently.  Now, add the tamari to taste.
  6. As you’re cooking the vegetables, keep on eye your noodles (as mentioned above) and once prepared, drain and rinse with cool water.  Drizzle sesame oil over noodles once back in the pot.
  7. Plate the noodles and serve prepared stir-fry over and to the side of the noodles.
  8. Place slices of avocado on the side and sprinkle with sesame seeds and dulse.
  9. Set a quarter of a lime on the plate and squeeze over dish just before consuming.
  10. Eat up, happily, and with friends!
Peruvian Chili Lime Stir-Fry w/ Vermicelli Noodles

Peruvian Chili Lime Stir-Fry w/ Vermicelli Noodles


Notes:  I focused on the style in the cut of the vegetables.  I wanted them to seem slightly uniform for a more aesthetic, pleasing look to the eye.  I was going for a slender, matchstick or even julienne look to pattern with the small, delicate noodles.  On my choice of noodle; I was inspired by Vietnamese dishes that frequently have vermicelli, thus I was hooked!  I over-cooked the noodles just slightly that night, and they became a little gummy, but adding the slightest amount of sesame oil helped loosen them up.  Also, I’m still perfecting the science of presenting a recipe because personally, I pour and shake my spices and liquids, thus it’s difficult for me to portion out measurements for others to use.  I just go by taste.  Patience, please! 😀














Podcast # 1: Cinema Cuisine: England – Withnail and I

Gif Courtesy of:

Gif Courtesy of:

Hello Everyone,

About two years ago (although I think in the pc we said one, but it has been almost two) my husband and I began a fun ritual on Fridays called ‘Foreign Film Fridays’, wherein we would choose a country, a film to represent that country–whichever one of us was in charge of picking the country and film, would prepare a meal representative of that country.  It was such a blast, but as our schedules grew busier, Foreign Film Friday sadly fell by the wayside.  You all will be happy to know, it has been reincarnated, but on Sundays!  So, we lost some lovely alliteration, but we gained a more relaxing day, with more time to prepare.  Also, I do the cooking/preparing and we are going to alternate picking the country/film.  One of Matthew and I’s biggest passions in life is film, and we both have a deep connection and fondness for food.  This podcast has allowed me another way to connect food to all of you out there.

I’m very happy to introduce my very first podcast and even more pleased that I’m launching it in conjunction with connectabite.  Please, be forgiving when you listen to it as this is our first ever time to attempt this, and though we’re both avid podcast listeners ourselves, there is certainly a separation in action of something you love.  Needless to say, here it is!  I hope you enjoy and I’d really like to start a dialogue about what you hear.  Tell me what you don’t like, what you do like, was it funny, was it awkward, could you understand what we’re saying, did you appreciate our commentary, etc…

CLICK HERE: –> (right click here) Cinema Cuisine Ep.1 – England

Below you’ll find the recipes to the meals I created, plus sources to some of them.  I hope you will join us in foreign film connecting and food and share with me  your experiences, recipes, ideas and so forth.  I’d love to chat about it all!  Maybe some of you have recommendations?  Enjoy both listening to the podcast and preparing these recipes, and remember…bite responsibly!

Gluten-Free Orange Pecan Scones

               Recipe inspired by Alex Jamieson


  • 1 1/2 cups of almond flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp of sea salt
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 egg replacer (could also substitute ground flax or chia seeds)
  • 2 tbsp of maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Zest from one organic orange
  • 1/2 cup & 2 tbsp unsweetened almond, coconut, rice or other plant-based milk ( I used almond)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (I broke them into pieces with my hands rather than processing them in any way)
  • ½ cup raisins (you could also substitute another dried fruit)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients: almond flour, coconut flour, sea salt, and baking soda.  Take special care with the coconut flour as it will want to clump together.  Use a fork and sift through large bulges.)
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg replacer, maple syrup, orange juice, zest, and milk.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until blended thoroughly. If the dough seems too dry and isn’t sticking together, use another tablespoon or two of milk.  Dough should feel almost spongy.
  5. Dump in the pecans and raisins.  Then wet your hands to evenly distribute the nuts and dried fruit through the dough.
  6. Use an ice cream scooper to scoop out evenly sized scones and place scones on a parchment lined baking sheet and gently press down to flatten to 1/2 in thick with palm.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes or until the tops are golden brown, and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.


  • These are slightly crumbly scones but have a nice density.  They aren’t as heavy and thick as I was used to, but they are gluten-free, thus for what they are, fantastic!  I was so fretful the entire time I was making them/they were baking, that they would turn out flat and fall apart because there is no fat, and for must scones that a key ingredient, but these were only slightly crumbly as I mentioned and had the most divine flavor.
  • We enjoyed these with a hot cup of English Breakfast tea and the combination was superb!
  • I have a few ideas on how to improve/perk up the recipe and someday I’ll post my newest re-creation.
Orange Pecan Scones (gluten-free, vegan) © ConnectaBite 2013

Orange Pecan Scones (gluten-free, vegan) © ConnectaBite 2013

British Beetroot Salad


For Salad

  • romaine lettuce (cleaned and chopped)
  • two medium beets (washed, peeled, and cut into small triangular wedges then cooked until tender, yet firm to form)
  • green peas (portion size is up to you, I’m a sprinkler/dumper)
  • two green onion (diced at an angle into 1/4 inch pieces)

For Dressing

  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds (previously soaked-about 6-8 hours, and rinsed)
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 tbsp dulse
  • 3 to 4 tbsp (or more depending on your taste buds) Organic horseradish mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or more depending on your taste buds)
  • freshly crushed black pepper to taste
  • onion granules to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves (peeled)


  1. For Salad:  layer as follows – lettuce on the bottom, followed by green onion, peas, and top with whatever amount of beets sound yummy to you
  2. For Dressing:  in a high powered blender, add to blender all ingredients starting with water, seeds, lemon juice, then horseradish mustard, and so forth.  Blend on low and increase to high until a thick, white creamy sauce is before your eyes.  Do a few taste tests to make sure it’s just right for you.  The dressing should resemble the ubiquitous ‘Ranch’ dressing that so many love.  Drizzle dressing over salad. Enjoy before main entrée.


  • You’ll have plenty of leftovers if you’re making this for just two, enjoy this delicious salad for a few days.  Store the dressing in a clean glass jar.
British Beetroot Salad w/ Raw Sunflower Seed Horseradish Dressing © ConnecaBite 2013

British Beetroot Salad w/ Raw Sunflower Seed Horseradish Dressing © ConnecaBite 2013

Lentil & Mushroom Shepherds Pie

               Recipe inspired by Susan Voisin (via Nava Atlas)


  • 8 medium golden yukon potatoes
  • olive oil to taste (for potatoes)
  • 1/2 cup rice milk (rice/quinoa blend-unsweetened)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons grape seed oil or coconut oil*
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped (I used white)
  • 2  large cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 ounces baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 cup cooked brown lentils (creates about 3  to 31/2 cups cooked lentils with a little of their cooking liquid)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoon reduced-sodium, gluten-free tamari (fermented soy sauce)*
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 to a 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons arrowroot
  • 8 to 10 ounces baby kale leaves
  • cooked millet, maybe a day or two old


  1. Dice the potatoes. Place in a large saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a small mixing bowl.
  2. Mix together olive oil, potatoes and some salt (to taste) then add the milk and mash until fluffy. Cover and set aside until needed.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  4. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a medium skillet. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and mushrooms and continue to sauté until the onion is golden.
  5. Add the lentils and their liquid and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir in the tamari (optional) herbs and spices. Cook for 5 minutes while stirring gently, then letting the mixture rest to disperse flavors. Combine the arrowroot with just enough water to dissolve in a small container. Stir into the lentil mixture.
  6. Add the kale in small handfuls, cooking just until it’s all wilted down. Remove from the heat; taste to adjust seasonings to your liking.
  7. Lightly oil a 2-quart casserole dish.  Distribute the millet on the bottom of the dish. Pour in the lentil mixture evenly, then spread the potatoes evenly over the top.  The potatoes should spread almost as if they were thick frosting.  Spread with a spatula/bowl scraper.
  8. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to turn golden and slightly crusty. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes–to set–then serve.


  • This would be especially tasty with a British inspired onion gravy–vegan and gluten-free of course, but I didn’t make one this time.
  • Also, I was so anxious to try this dish, I didn’t let it set for the 5 minutes initially, but the next day when we had leftovers, oh, so yummy!


English Mushroom Lentil Shepherd’s Pie © ConnecaBite 2013


Also, I thought you’d want to know we did indeed record this on a Sunday, but editing and the like took a bit longer.  :p

“Isn’t it stimulating, getting back to a basic sort of life for awhile?  Surrounded by trees and nature, one feels a glorious stirring of the senses, a rejection of poisonous inhibition, and a fecund motion of the soul” – Monty, Withnail and I








Texas VegFest Re-Cap

Rachel Anne Manning © 2013 | Texas VegFest

Rachel Anne Manning © 2013 | Texas VegFest

Good Afternoon Everyone,

As this post is a little delayed from the actual festival, forgive me if my commentaries seem a little moot at this point, but I still feel they are relevant thoughts.  This year, my husband and I volunteered at the West End Info. Booth for Texas VegFest, and we were able to see the festival from the inside out, to some degree.  We were not entrenched in the workings and foundation of all the hard work that initially went into making VegFest a success in 2013, but we did see the love, motivation and dedication that was displayed by all of the hard-working volunteers, vendors, groups, companies, and farmers.


Rachel Anne Manning © 2013 | Texas VegFest

Let’s get down to it then. Here’s the breakdown about Texas VegFest:

  • Location & Arrangement:  The festival is located in Fiesta Gardens, a park in East Austin that overlooks Lady Bird Lake. There are lovely palm trees and green life all around, not to mention graduated seating areas and plenty of lovely hills and trees to rest under.  The area is spread out and doesn’t lend itself to excessive noise from surrounding streets or road projects, which for me, adds to the ambiance of what this festival is supposed to be about.  Additionally, each tent–whether this act was purposeful or not–seemed cleverly placed to its accentuating counterpart. This helped make the flow and ease of walking around the fest all the more enjoyable.  However, it did occasionally feel like another festival with white-topped tents and a kettle corn vendor in the sense that there was little theme or thought put into the aesthetic of the festival. That for me is BIG.  I’m not generally a carnival, state fair kind of gal, so ‘veggie’ themed or not, I need more incentive than what’s in the title to rouse my interest in walking around for an hour+.  That being said, there was lively music and kind faces. I’ll be patient in the hopes that in years to come, ambiance will be so carefully intertwined into the festival that I won’t even have to give it a second thought.
  • Participation:  If you’re not attuned to the vegetarian/vegan/plant-based diet world,TexasVegFest is certainly a way to get accustomed, in a non-intimidating environment (like many natural foodsstorescan be for some ‘beginners’ or converts), to the manyalternativesthere are out there for people
    Rachel Anne Manning © 2013 | Texas VegFest

    Rachel Anne Manning © 2013 | Texas VegFest

    who want to attempt a cruelty-minimized life.  There were numerous vendors, companies, shops, and groups (like action groups) that were on display, full of lively volunteers ready to inform the VegFest attendees from the communities far-and-wide about their cause, products, etc. There was a tremendous amount of dedication and vigilance given to their specified field, topic, product or company, that once you walked away from their table, you’d be satisfied with full knowledge.  On the downside of this, the crowds of attendees did get thicker, and wading through groups of people on what turned out to be a windy, sun-stricken day didn’t always cater itself to ‘stop and chat a bit with the owner, creator, vendor, what have you’.  Additionally, I would have liked to have seen MORE action groups and informative booths.  Texas VegFest is a blanket of lifestyle choices so you could easily be a passive attendee and still really enjoy the fest, but for those who want to get a full experience, I fear this year would not have given them that.  I did speak to some very informative and pleasant action/information groups, and I hope next year the word gets out to even more groups so participation is even greater.

  • Samples & Variety:  Coupled with ideas from above, I hesitate not when Isaythat that Saturday wasasampletastic event, but unfortunately I think the vendors were holding backalittle bit.  My husband and I leftwithnumerous raw bars and delicious treats that we’re still enjoying, butthesnackage was definitely limited in quantityandportion sizing.  Maybe we were a little spoiled from the first year, whereinwewere overloaded with goodies to take home or eat there on the spot.Thismay be true, but generally, I think the vendors were being alittlestingier this year.  All of this being said,the quality of the hand-outs was superb, the variety was tremendous and helpful allergy labeling
    Rachel Anne Manning © 2013 | Texas VegFest

    Rachel Anne Manning © 2013 | Texas VegFest

    was never lacking.  We’re both pretty seasoned in the ‘veggie-world’, but even we found items at VegFest we had never heard about.  On the flip side, I was highly disappointed this  year, much like last year, that there were so few farmers.  Most of the samples were not of actual vegetable dishes nor were they whole food based.  Perhaps I just have the wrong idea of what a festival is supposed to be, but I didn’t even see a tent for SFC (Sustainable Food Center), and I think farmers (and non-profits that support farmers) should be represented more than ever these days, trying to spread the word about local, fresh-sourced foods.  Even if local and fresh-source is not something you’re remotely concerned with, it should have been represented more.  Johnson’s Backyard Garden was there, which pleased me, but they weren’t sampling any of their produce.  Sigh.  I hope for more actual vegetables in festivals to come.

  • Demos, Speakers & Interactive Kid Zone:   As I didn’t have the privilege to attend any of the cooking demos or speaking events this year, I cannot comment on them directly, but I can say that this is one absolute plus that Texas VegFest has working in its favor.  Interaction and education is a great way to help the public (and that includes me) understand and appreciate what it means to expose yourself and others to a vegetable-friendly diet and lifestyle.  Also, there was an interactive kid zone with many fun activities for kids to get acquainted with vegetables and an alternative lifestyle in a way they maybe never had before.  There was kids yoga and coloring games to name just a couple.

What more can I say?  Texas VegFest increased both in community attendance and in vendor participation this year, far exceeding last year’s numbers. As someone who volunteered, the festival certainly helps to uplift and bring a positive message to the city of Austin.  I hope for more years of success in this festival, and I look forward to helping make this possible.

What are your thoughts on Texas VegFest, or a VegFest in your city or state?  I’d love to hear any feedback.  Thanks for reading and have a lovely Sunday afternoon. And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,


Rachel Anne Manning © 2013 | Texas VegFest

Rachel Anne Manning © 2013 | Texas VegFest | Sweet Ritual vegan ice cream w/ sprinkles!!!

Texas Veg Fest


photo by: RAM – ConnectaBite March 2012 | Lady Bird Lake

Good Afternoon Everyone,

I hope you’re all faring well.  Today, I’d like to highlight the Texas Veg Fest, soon to be in Austin, TX for its second year running.  After attending last year’s first Texas Veg Fest, I’m anxious to see what changes there will be.  Last year, I was able to sample a tremendous amount of food, I scored tons of great coupons and freebies and chatted with some helpful and informative companies/vendors.  I would say if you’re into trying new, funky vegetarian/vegan variations of foods like faux migas, faux cheese (that melts :p ), and some of the best dairy-free ice-creams out there, this festival is for you!  You will also get connected to businesses that are in the holistic and naturopathic vein, which is incredibly beneficial if you’re new to a plant-based diet.  Having a support system is incredibly important during any transition and there were numerous outlets of info last year and many more to come, this year.  My hope is that there will be more of an abundance of veggies and whole foods this year, but only time will tell.


photo by: RAM – ConnectaBite March 2012 | Lady Bird Lake

Here’s a breakdown of  Texas Veg Fest, straight from the source:  

Texas VegFest is a family-friendly festival celebrating plant-based foods, with a focus on health, physical fitness, the environment, and compassionate living. For this year’s event, more than five thousand attendees will gather at beautiful Fiesta Gardens on Town Lake on Saturday, April 6th from 11am – 6pm. With engaging activities, vendors, speakers, demos, and, of course, great food and live music, you won’t want to miss Texas VegFest!

Our Fabulous Speakers and Cooking Demonstrations

Come see best-selling cookbook author Isa Chandra Moskowitz cook delicious cashew-based meals like Caesar salad, Creamy Chickpea and Rice Soup, and cheesecake. Executive Chef Ayinde Howell, the entrepreneur behind Hillside Quickies in Seattle, will be serving up some amazing vegan soul food including Broccoli Cheddar Soup, Texas BBQ Rubbed Seitan, and Mini Sloppy Joes. The Blissful Chef Christy Morgan will demonstrate easy protein-packed snacks that everyone will love.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, the author of five books and frequent guest on Food Network and PBS, will captivate you with her presentation “From Excusitarian to Vegan.” Champion boxer Omowale Adewale is coming all the way from New York to share his presentation on how to incorporate positive habits into your life. His presentation will be interactive, so come prepared to learn a few moves. Dr. Baxter Montgomery, the founder of Montgomery Heart and Wellness, a cardiology practice and wellness center in Houston, will speak about all the health benefits of going plant-based.

Fantastic Activities for Families

In our kids’ area, enjoy youth yoga and face painting by Austin Bhakti Yoga, Austin’s premier nonprofit yoga center, or watch Austin’s healthy cooking school, The Natural Epicurean, demo recipes for kids and teens. Food is Free Project will share their model of simultaneously growing food and community through seed planting and seed ball-making activities. The captivating Brooke Chavez of Sunny Day Farms will be speaking to kids and teens about animal compassion and awareness. Sunny Day Farms is the largest farm animal sanctuary in the Central United States. For some quiet time to balance all this activity, has donated fantastic kids’ books for our reading and coloring zone.

Hungry for Food and Knowledge?

photo by:  Heather Schramm

photo by: Heather Schramm

Hungry attendees can feast on a variety of food such as curry, Tex-Mex, funnel cake, fresh juices, cupcakes, falafel, and veggie burgers from some of Austin’s most-loved restaurants. Or sample delicious treats and great products from companies across the nation. It’s all delicious, and it’s all vegan!

Premier Sponsor Wheatsville Co-op, opening their new store off South Lamar in June 2013, will have a booth representing their cooperative shopping model.

Explore local produce, tempeh, earth-friendly cleaning products, agave nectar, plant protein mixes, an electric car, blenders, baked goods, and other items showcased by Texas VegFest sponsors Plant Fusion, South Point Nissan, Natural Epicurean, and Wholesome Sweeteners, Vitamix, Clif Bar, Health Force Nutritionals, Dr. Lucy’s, Greenling, Johnson’s Backyard Gardening, The Hearty Vegan, Veggietopia, Way Better Snacks, Ecos Earth Friendly Products.

Nonprofits like Mercy For Animals and Vegans Rock Austin will be there to answer all your questions about how you can help protect animals. And people of all ages can enjoy a few moments of guided mediation by the Isha foundation on the shore of Town Lake.

Talented Music Line-up

It wouldn’t be an Austin festival without live music, and Texas VegFest doesn’t disappoint! Musical backdrop for Texas VegFest 2013 includes:

·         Edison Chair

·         Ray Prim

·         Mighty Mountain

·         Silver Ships

·         The Asteroid Shop

·         Technicolor Hearts


More information at Email us at, find us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter!


Official TVF 2013 Poster

Official TVF 2013 Poster


Keep an eye out sometime next week for my follow-up post on the festival, where I will give a ’round-two, Veg Fest breakdown’.  My thoughts, exciting new discoveries, critiques and more.  I’ll break it down for you!

Thanks for reading, tell all of your friends, and I hope to see you there.  And remember…bite responsibly!


Healthy Regards,



Austin: Natural and Alternative Food Purchases


Maggie Cooks

Maggie Cooks

Hello Everyone!

I’ve been talking so much lately about daily eating habits, I thought I’d give a little perspective on some helpful resources to enable said habits within the city of Austin, in case you happen to live here and don’t know where to go, or in case you’re dropping in for a visit.  Either way, I know when I go traveling, I need to know where I can pick up my kind of shopping purchases without having to drive all over to find the best sources and the best prices.  Also, I very frequently emphasize the farmers’ market, but this post will focus more on stops outside of the fresh market arena.

Places to Check Out (Please note, this list is not exhaustive):

(Categories:  selection, prices, environment, energy, location, service)

Wheatsville Co-op:


  •  Location:  3101 Guadalupe St  Austin, TX 78705 (new location to open soon)
  • Some items of note:  If you’re looking for a store that brings both value, and top alternative merchandise with a wonderful and welcoming environment, this is the place for you.  Their production section is fantastic yet minimal.  They don’t overstock produce, but I’ve never NOT found what I was looking for.  They place emphasis, as I’m sure you could guess, on local produce and organic produce.  There are the regular exotic fruits like bananas and a pretty regular selection of junior coconuts.  The produce staff will assist you in sizing down heavy weighted items like cabbage, if you’re not interested in buying the entire thing.  Their deli has a tremendous amount of vegan and gluten-free options, though I will say their pre-made dishes are a little canola oil/soy heavy for my taste, but generally,  I feel their options are a nice range of both healthy and “craving” foods to meet our many food moods.  They have consistent items behind the counter like their breakfast tacos and the very popular vegan ‘po’ boy’ sandwich, yet they offer seasonal dishes to suit your pallet, such as roasted acorn squash slices.  Just adjacent to the deli, is the baked goods/pastry section where you’ll find Red Rabbit Cooperative Bakery’s vegan doughnuts, fair-trade coffee, and a wide variety of other goods in stock everyday.  If you have a wheat intolerance/allergy stop by on Wednesday’s for their wheat-free items.

Natural Grocers:


  • Locations:  3901 Guadalupe St. Austin, TX & 10515 N. Mopac Expressway, Bldg L
  • Some items of note:  Best Austin bargains for natural and alternative foods, overall.  I always pick up my kombuchas here as they have a variety of brands and the best deal.  Also, they have an extensive tea selection (boxed mainly), but if you’re into Tulsi tea at all, they have the biggest selection I’ve ever seen.  There is not a deli/meat counter of any sort, but they do frequently have new items sampled at the front of the store, typically with their creator or a proxy.  Within the produce section, they will discount their bananas once they are overly ripe, which is great because I LOVE ripe bananas (remember my brown buddy rule)!  Also, they have a wide range of raw nuts and seeds kept fresh by refrigeration.  Natural Grocers subtly stresses strength in health via diet (nutrition) and supplementation.  They have a myriad of sources within their store, ranging from in-store nutritional assistance to books/magazines galore!

The Daily Juice & Juiceland:



  • Location: Multiple locations for each shop
  • If you’re in the mood for fresh juice and freshly prepared sandwiches, salads and other alternative goodies (even vegan soft serve and the works), these are definitely places you should stop into at some point.  Immunity boosting shots and incredibly healing foods in their purest form…how could I leave these two shops off of my list?  If you’re interested in raw foods, such as protein powders, bars, drinks, treats, granolas, supplements and more, each of these places are very concentrated and will not only have special and unique items you may not be able to find anywhere else, but they will also have a helpful staff to school you on all you’d like to know.  




Mr. Natural:  


  • Locations:  1901 E. Cesar Chavez  &  2414 – A South Lamar  &  205 E. Rundberg Ln.
  • Not only can you reach out to Mr. Natural for a quick prepared bite, but you can also stop in for alternative, and some Mexican-inspired, pastries and baked goods, that range from vegan to gluten-free.  Alongside their restaurant you’ll find a wide range of vitamins, supplements and an assortment of foodstuffs that are certainly not in the mainstream’s eye.  Check out their radio spots too, if you’re into connecting even more!

As there are a multitude of stops in Austin for natural foods and alternative products, what you’ll see listed below are places I frequent less for an assortment of reasons, but none-the-less are ultimately good spots to check-out if you’re looking for the non-standard grocery visit.  I’ve listed their locations throughout Austin, in case you’re not interested in checking out their website.

People’s Pharmacy

  • Locations:  13860 US 183 N, Ste C (at 620)  &  4018 North Lamar  &  3801 South Lamar  &  4201 Westbank Drive
  • How it stands out:  Often goes the extra step, and will often have staff on hand to chat with you about healthful food purchases.  If they (the staff) are not able to find what your’e looking for, they will direct you to the best spots in town to pick them up in case they’re out.

Central Market

  • Locations: 4001 N. Lamar Blvd.  &  4477 S. Lamar Blvd. 
  • How it stands out:  They offer an amazing array of mushrooms that you can’t find anywhere else, and they often have very exotic fruits if you’re living on the edge that particular day.   :p

Whole Foods

  •  Locations:  525 N Lamar Blvd.  &  4301 W. William Cannon Bldg B, Ste 800  &  9607 Research Blvd.  &  
  • How it stands out:  It’s the first Whole Foods, huge, and often offers young coconuts with holes drilled in them with a straw, screaming “DRINK ME!”


  • 10225 Research Blvd.  &  6920 Manchaca Rd.  &  4006 S. Lamar Blvd..
  • How it stands out:  It has an incredible bulk section and often has great sales, you just have to be around to catch them.

Austin is the kind of city that caters to the palates of the counter-culture and droves of foodies that settle and pass through.  I hope this list is of some assistance to you in your travels through or settlement of our tasty city.  And remember…bite responsibly!


Healthy Regards,