Category Archives: Happenings

Two New Changes on the Blog

new announcements

I’ve made two important changes on my blog. One, I updated the page, “Astig Vegan Recipes”  which now features a menu list of my recipes. 

The recipes are neatly organized by courses: Appetizers, Entrees, Breads, Snacks, and Dessert. I’ll keep adding to this list as I feature new recipes.

With the recipe list, you don’t have to feel lost searching for a particular dish or recipe. Just look to the top left of this blog to find the page. This brilliant idea came from a blog subscriber. I don’t know why I never thought of it before but I’m glad someone did!

The second blog update is the page next to the recipe list, “YouTube Show“, which now shows my video recipes. Each video has a title and a short description for your viewing pleasure. Not all my recipes have videos but for those that do, you could find them on this page.

That’s it! If you have more ideas on how to make this blog more user-friendly, just let me know. Thanks so much and have a great rest of the week!

 

expo west taza chocolates

Most Intriguing and Top Vegan Snacks at Expo West 2015

Out of all the food categories at Expo West, I’d say snacks reigned supreme. Everywhere I looked, I spotted a snacks company handing out samples. The demand must be high for natural and organic snacks. Personally, I’m not a fan of processed food but if I need a ready-made snack, I would go for the natural, organic, and vegan versions. Expo West definitely had plenty of them.

In case you’re reading about Expo West for the first time, it’s an annual natural and organic food expo. This year, it was held at the Anaheim Convention Center March 6-8. For more information about it, feel free to visit my earlier post.

Learning about all the products at the expo was a daunting task. To make things easier, I’ve compiled lists of my favorite vegan finds under these categories: Drinks, Vegan Cheese, Vegan MeatsVegan Snacks, and The Most Intriguing

So what do I mean by “The Most Intriguing”? I found some products at the expo that I had never seen before nor I had expected to exist!  These products threw me off, but in a good way. If there’s an award for being clever, creative, and intriguing, they would take home the trophy. Feel free to scroll down below my vegan snacks list for my “intriguing” list.

 

 

My Top Vegan Snacks at Expo West 2015

top faves nutiva snack

 1. Nutiva O’Coconut. I’m a sucker for coconut macaroons; they’re sweet, a bit crunchy, a bit chewy, and a bit nutty. Nutiva’s O’Coconut was one of these delicious macaroons I couldn’t get enough of. It comes in two flavors: “Classic” and “Hemp and Chia”. 

 

top faves pistachio chew

 2. Setton Farms Pistachio Chewy Bites. I love food companies that don’t skimp on their ingredients. Pistachio Chewy Bites is packed with delicious, California grown pistachios. I looove pistachios so I’m currently obsessed with this product. The company gets bonus points for being environmentally conscious. It recycles water and uses solar energy. Learn more about it on my video highlight below, featuring the adorable Spork Foods sisters.

 

top faves fava chips

3. Enlightened Roasted Broad Beans. Growing up in the Philippines, I used to snack on fried broad beans all the time. Now I could relive those moments with Enlightened Roasted Broad Beans. It’s good to note that Enlightened broad beans are roasted and not as oily as the ones I used to eat as a kid. If you haven’t tried broad beans for snacking yet, you’re missing out. I highly recommend to give it a shot. They’re crunchy, savory, and highly nutritious.

 

top faves avocado oil potato chips

3. Boulder Canyon Avocado Oil Canyon Cut Potato Chips. Avocado Oil? Fancy Schmancy! I love avocados and I love potatoes so putting those two together is a match made in heaven. Granted it is avocado oil and not actual avocados, these potato chips have some good avocado essence. It’s an upgrade from my regular potato chips.

 

expo west taza chocolates

4. Taza Chocolate. I’ve been familiar with Taza Chocolate disks but I had never seen its flavored chocolate bars until I went to the expo. Taza chocolates are stone-ground which gives an interesting, rustic texture compared to other chocolate bars.

Taza is organic, unrefined, and minimally processed. Perhaps what topped it for me was that Taza ethically sources its cacaos through its “Direct Trade Certified Cacao program“. I bet these chocolates would go well with my chocolate rice porridge or Filipino Champurado.

 

The Most Intriguing Vegan Products at Expo West 2015

top faves color garden

1. Color Garden Food Colors. What?! You mean I could play around with different icing and glazes? I never had any luck finding food coloring that’s 100% plant-based so I was stoked to see Color Garden in my press swag bag. I’m going to have too much fun with this one. 

 

top faves brads raw broccoli

 2. Brad’s Raw Broccoli Chips. At first glance, I thought it was weed! Doesn’t it look like it? My friends were joking about it when they handed me a sample, which is the one pictured above. The broccoli chips tasted delicious just like the kale chips version. It was crunchier than kale chips, had a mild spicy kick, and tasted “cheesy” which I’m assuming comes from a blend of nutritional yeast and nuts.

 

top faves munkijo coco nectar

 3. Munkijo Organic Coconut Nectar. I’ve had coconut nectars before but this one from Munkijo blew me away. It’s rich, sweet, and complex. There’s nothing like it. I’m just waiting to finish my agave and maple syrups and I would replace them both with Munkijo’s coconut nectar. I’m looking forward to use it in my pancakes, waffles, and pastries. 

I love that Munkijo sources its products from the Philippines, home to abundant coconut trees. I’ve also tried Munkijo’s coconut water and I included it in my top vegan drinks list. You could also watch the video below which talks about Munkijo products.

 

top fave pure pb4. Crazy Richard’s Pure PB. I don’t understand why peanuts have to be powdered but I am completely intrigued. I would usually grind peanuts in my high-speed blender or food processor but I usually end up with a peanut butter. Perhaps powdered peanuts would create a better texture in pastries and stews. I guess there’s only one way to find out. I’ll probably try this product in my Kare-kare dish and see how it will go.

 

And there you have it, my complete recap of my favorite vegan finds at Expo West 2015 starting from Vegan Drinks, Vegan Cheese, Vegan Meats, Vegan Snacks, and The Most Intriguing

 

On top of those lists, I’ve also shot and edited a short video montage of my trip. 

I hope my recap gave you an idea about what vegan products to look out for at the stores. If you think I’ve missed something or if you agree or disagree with any of my choices, feel free to leave a feedback. 

Thanks for following my Expo West series!

 

SEE ALSO:

PART 1: MY TOP VEGAN DRINKS AT EXPO WEST 2015

PART 2: MY TOP VEGAN CHEESES AT EXPO WEST 2015

PART 3: MY TOP VEGAN MEAT ALTERNATIVES AT EXPO WEST 2015 

 

vegan meats at expo west hodo soy

Part 3: My Top Vegan Meats at Expo West 2015

I don’t usually cook with mock meats but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy having them in my meal. I see mock meats as great convenient food when I’m on the go or when I’m eating out at vegan restaurants.

Below is my list of top vegan meats I found at Expo West, a natural and organic food expo. Unfortunately, the expo wasn’t open to the public and it wasn’t all vegan either. I went as press and covered only the vegan products I saw there. To read more about it, feel free to visit my earlier post here.

 

MY TOP VEGAN MEATS AT THE EXPO WEST 2015

expo west hodo soy burgers

1. Hodo Soy Tofu Veggie Burger Patty. I’m so excited that this product will be available to the public soon! I once had it during a tour of the Hodo Soy facility. The veggie burger was so good I could eat it by itself. I wouldn’t even need to cook it. The patty was juicy, savory, and flavorful. Hands down, my favorite veggie burger.

 

gardein at expo west2.  Gardein. To me, Gardein has the most resemblance to meat flavor and texture. I love that Gardein is non-GMO. In the video below, Chef Hiram Camillo shares a cool recipe idea for these Gardein bites.

 

field roast hand formed burger3. Field Roast Hand-Formed Burger. Field Roast is not kidding around with its hand-formed burger which has the same amount of fat as the regular meat burger -minus the animal cholesterol. This burger was juicy and flavorful, and yes fatty too. 

 

Have you  had any of these vegan meats before? What do you think of them? 

Please stay tuned for the rest of my lists: Vegan Drinks, Vegan Cheese, Vegan Snacks and The Most Intriguing -products that threw me off but in a good way.

In the mean time, feel free to check out this short video highlighting the vendors at Expo West, including vegan Filipino products!

 

 

SEE ALSO:

Part 1: My Top Vegan Drinks at Expo West 2015

Part 2: My Top Vegan Cheeses at Expo West 2015

 

 

follow your heart vegan cheese

Part 2: My Top Vegan Cheeses at Expo West 2015

Before going to Expo West, I had promised myself I was only going there to network and find companies to collaborate with. I told myself, I will NOT get distracted nor post about vegan products that were not related to my theme, vegan Filipino recipes. But after three days of exploring the expo, I realized I cannot not share what I found -especially my favorites. So pardon me if I’m going off topic from vegan Filipino recipes here. I think that my lists would help you especially if you’re looking for recommendations.

Expo West is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) natural and food expos in the nation. This year, it has shattered its record of having the most number of attendees -more than 71,000! To read more about Expo West, feel free to check my earlier post: Part 1: My Top 5 Vegan Drinks at Expo West 2015.

The expo was massive and overwhelming. To spare you the same overwhelming feeling I got when I was there, I narrowed down my favorites and divided them into categories: Drinks, Snacks, Vegan Cheese, Vegan Meats, and the Most Intriguing -the ones that threw me off but in a good way.

 

MY TOP VEGAN CHEESES AT EXPO WEST 2015  

miyoko cheese1. Miyoko’s Creamery. If you’ve had Miyoko’s Creamery vegan cheese before, then I think you would agree that it’s a no-brainer I have it on my list. Miyoko’s cheeses have the best flavor and texture out of all the vegan cheeses in the market. Miyoko’s cheeses are artisanal so they are a bit pricey at the stores. Still, if you’re looking for the best quality cheese the vegan industry has to offer, look no further than Miyoko’s.

 

follow your heart vegan cheese2. Follow Your Heart Vegan Cheese. This is my go-to brand if I just want a regular but delicious vegan cheese I could munch on. By munch on, I mean I could eat Follow Your Heart cheddar straight from the package. No bread needed, no other ingredients needed, just the vegan cheese. Mmm, shoot now I want one. Anyway! I spotted their booth which was giving away grilled vegan sandwiches and cubed vegan cheeses like the one pictured above.

 

daiya vegan cheesecake

 3. Daiya Vegan Cream Cheese. Going further from the usual pizza topping, Daiya sampled out mini cheesecakes made with their cream cheeses. The cheesecakes had three flavors: regular, strawberry, and key lime. All were delicious. I believe Daiya vegan cheesecakes will be available in stores April/May.

 

Please stay tuned for the rest of my list: Top Vegan Meats, Snacks, and the Most Intriguing.

In the meantime, feel free to watch this video highlight. I hope you enjoy! 


 

SEE ALSO: 

PART 1: My Top 5 Vegan Drinks at Expo West 2015.

top faves drinks

My Top 5 Vegan Drinks at Expo West 2015

Here in California and on social media, Expo West is all the buzz. Expo West is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) natural and organic food expos in the country. It’s not open to the public, only to the press and industry members. Still, it has shattered a record-breaking more than 71,000 attendees this year.

I remember when I first heard about it; My friend Cobi told me I should go because I’ll discover the newest vegan products launching in the market. Not to mention, I could get a ridiculous amount of free samples. And by ridiculous, I mean at least three bags full of samples by the end of the trip. Free samples you say? I’m there! Never tease a Filipino with free samples haha! 

My friends, Rosie, Jasmine, and Yvonne, and I went to the event full of high expectations and I was so glad that Expo West did not disappoint us. In fact the expo exceeded them. Not only I was able to find and sample new vegan products, I also made new friends and possible Astig Vegan collaborators. I was also able to meet some of the biggest vegan personalities and all of them were very nice and gracious.

expo west anaheim convention center

I didn’t keep all the free samples to myself. Some I gave to my family, friends, and the homeless. Not all products in my press “swag bag” were vegan so I donated those to the less fortunate.

To keep this post less overwhelming for you (or at least less than the expo was for me when I was there), I’ll put my top favorite products on a list. The categories include: Top Drinks Products, Top Vegan Meats, Top Vegan Cheese, Top Vegan Snacks, and The Most intriguing -the wild cards that threw me off but in a good way.

For Part 1, let’s start with my favorite vegan drinks.

expo west wide shot 

MY TOP 5 VEGAN DRINKS AT EXPO WEST 2015

top faves drinks


1. Harmless Harvest Coconut Water with CoffeeI’ve been a big fan of Harmless Harvest Coconut Water for a while now. It’s a bit of a splurge because it’s expensive but I buy one when I want a special treat. At the expo, I found out they’re also launching new flavors such as Coconut Water with Fair trade Coffee!

I wasn’t too crazy about the “Apple and Clove” but the “Coconut Water with Fair Trade Coffee” was delicious! The coffee flavor is not out yet in stores but it will be in three months so be on the lookout for it.

top fave harmless harvest

harmless harvest wide shot

2. Suja Juice. Another note-worthy drink is Suja Juice. Also a little to the pricey side but very worth it especially if you couldn’t make yourself a juice or smoothie let’s say because you’re on the go or traveling. That’s what happened to me and my friends. We were in Anaheim and couldn’t make ourselves green smoothies so we bought Suja juices at Whole Foods. I got the “Glow” and “Fuel” flavors. Both were delicious and super healthy. 

top faves suja

Lo and behold Suja was also at the Expo so needless to say I grabbed some more to energize myself throughout the expo.

3. Rebel Kitchen Mylk.  Rebel Kitchen is a brand new company that sells flavored coconut milk -or should I say “mylk”. What I like about this product is that it has no stabilizers and other weird ingredients. I especially like the chocolate flavor.

rebel kitchen mylk

top faves rebel kitchen

 3. Kevita Master Brew Kombucha. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical with Kevita. I was not a  fan of their probiotic drink but the guy at the booth convinced me to try their other product called “Master Brew” which has no coconut water like their Kevita drink. 

 I was pleasantly surprised about the master brew. I especially like the flavor, lavender melon. In fact, I’m drinking one now as I type this post.

top faves master kombucha

4. Munkijo Coconut WaterMunkijo coconut water tastes less sweet and more pure like water than the sweet Thai coconut water in the market. Munkijo coconut water is from the coconuts of the Philippines so I love that the flavor of this drink reminded me of the coconut water I used to drink back home -from the husk and sold by a coconut street vendor.

munkijo at expo west

top fave munkijo

5. Little Miracles. I barely drink iced teas, probably because I have a lot of loose leaf teas at home that I could make into iced teas myself. So what is this iced tea drink doing on my list? Just like the Kevita Master Brew, I was pleasantly surprised by Little Miracles. Instead of using cane sugar, Little Miracles uses agave -still not the healthiest but a good way to break away from cane sugar. It also has ginseng which has health benefits on its own. Aside from being organic and healthier than other conventional drinks, I love that Little Miracles iced tea tastes delicious. It’s so good that I drank it all before I was able to take a photo of it.

top fave little miracles

What do you think of my list? Have you tried any of these products before? 

Please stay tuned for the rest of my list including: Top Vegan Snacks, Top Vegan Meats, Top Vegan Cheese, and The Most Intriguing -products that threw me off but in a good way.

Plus, a bonus post on who I met at the expo including some of the biggest personalities in the vegan world.

In the mean time, I’ve also put together a video highlight of Expo West. I hope you enjoy!

 

vegan rocky road cake

Rocky Road Chocolate Cake for my Sister’s Birthday

My little sister is all grown up. Today, she’s celebrating her 31st birthday. Now that I’ve come to think of it, she has been more grown up than me! My sister is very wise, head strong, and independent. The kind that you don’t want to mess with. She also has the kindest heart, always lending a hand when I need someone to be there for me. 

For her birthday, I wanted to make something that pays homage to her childhood favorite, rocky road ice cream flavor. I used the same flavor but made a cake instead of an ice cream because it’s not a birthday celebration without a cake, right?
vegan rocky road cake medium shot

The process of baking it was surprisingly simple and easy. I got the recipe from the cookbook, “Ms. Cupcake’s Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town“. I won the cookbook from a giveaway at Vegan Miam’s website (Thanks Rika!). It took me awhile to use this book but now I got a good reason to finally put it to use.

The original recipe was for rocky road bars and not for a cake. I followed the directions for making the rocky road frosting but used another recipe in the book for the actual chocolate cake. The cake turned out to be moist and dense, which is something unexpected but still delectable and delicious.

vegan rocky road cake cu

The frosting was a yummy combination of chocolate ganache (melted chocolate, maple syrup, agave syrup, vegetable shortening), roasted almonds, raw walnuts, and vegan marshmallows. I got the vegan marshmallows from a neighborhood store, Rainbow Grocery. One of the ingredients in the marshmallows was carageenan, not the healthiest option. But I don’t really use carageenan alot so using a bit from time to time should be fine.

The top was too bare so I added more almonds and marshmallows to create some design. I used the cake stand I got from the Home Goods store in Napa, so happy with this buy!vegan rocky road cake 2

Now that I’ve baked my first elaborate cake, I couldn’t wait to bake more cakes. I have been observing and studying cake decorations online and at bakeries and grocery stores. I’m realizing how truly pretty the cakes look! It must take some serious skills and practice to create something that pretty on a cake. I’m looking forward to learn all about it.vegan rocky road cake

 

I hope my sister likes this cake. I’m a true believer that homemade gifts are the best because they’re made with meaningful intention and effort. May she continue being her awesome self and I hope she knows that I’m always there for her as much as she has always been for me.

 

adobo nation guesting

Astig Vegan featured on a TV show

I’m still pinching myself. Astig Vegan has made it on television! Last Thursday I was on the television cable station, The Filipino Channel, to feature my vegan Filipino dishes.
 
The show is called “Adobo Nation“, a magazine television show that features food, entertainment, fashion, and other hot topics in the Filipino American community.
 
The show’s associate producer emailed me several weeks ago saying she was interested in my work. Of course, I said yes! Granted I did know her in the past when I was freelancing for the station ten years ago (on a different show called “Balitang America”), I was still pretty amazed that they haven’t forgotten about me and that they were interested in what I’ve been up to.
adobo nation set
adobo nation behind the camera
I was asked to bring my vegan shrimp paste and some of my cooked dishes. I researched and reviewed past segments on Adobo Nation’s Youtube channel and realized others had brought in massive spread of food. And by massive, I mean at least 15 dishes! I almost fainted when I saw just how much food they had brought in to the show. The guests were restaurant owners and chefs so of course they had a team to whip up their food in no time.  Good thing my mom and my sister were able to volunteer a bit of their time to help me. They were life savers.
 
Two days before the studio taping, I was cooking like a mad woman. I made vegan Sisig, vegan Menudo Stew, vegan Munggo Stew, vegan Dinuguan, vegan shrimp paste or Bagoong, vegan Bicol Express, vegan Pinakbet, grilled eggplant, and sliced mangoes and jicama. Yes, I was on a roll. Why did I torture myself, I had no clue. The producers had made it clear I didn’t have to bring the same number of dishes the past guests did because the producers understood I don’t have a restaurant. Yet, I challenged myself to step it up and bring it on. 
Minced Mushroom and Tofu Sisig. One of the dishes I featured on the tv show, Adobo Nation (Filipino cable station, TFC). Airing March 8.

Minced Mushroom and Tofu Sisig. One of the dishes I featured on the tv show, Adobo Nation (Filipino cable station, TFC). Airing March 8.

As hectic as everything was, I finished cooking on time.  I also finished getting ready on time – quite rare! Lucky me, my sister who is into make up (actually two of my sisters are), was able to doll me up. She was also able to go with me to the studio and help out with plating and presentation. She was also able to take photos during the show. I don’t know what I would have done without her help.

 
Here are some of the photos she took during the segment:
adobo nation guesting adobo nation food tasting adobo nation tv screen
 
The segment will air on The Filipino Channel via cable subscription on March 8. I believe I will also get a digital copy so I could upload it on my YouTube channel. I’m looking forward to share the episode with you and hear your reaction. Crossing fingers that I didn’t make a fool out of myself. I guess we’ll find out soon!