Monday, December 8, 2014

The Naked Advice has a new home!

Subscribe to my dating advice blog, to read up on questions about sex, dating, and relationships!

Thanks to everyone who followed this blog. I will no longer be updating this blog, and will be focused on The Naked Advice.

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Liz LaPoint

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday, June 7, 2013

New Gig!

New ad campaign for Summer 2013. Check out soon to see the ads shot by my husband, Terry! Here are a few photos that may or may not end up in the campaign.

Many thanks to Vance Reusch for giving me and Terry the opportunity to promote your fabulous business!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Vegan Pumpkin Muffins with Cardamom Crumb Topping

My husband and I love Indian food. We recently got a bunch of exotic spices from the natural foods store and I felt like whipping up something sweet with the fresh cardamom pods we had sitting in our spice drawer.

These muffins are great because they aren't too sweet and are super moist. If you aren't familiar with cardamom, the best way to describe it is to say it's like a cross between star anise and clove. The aroma reminds me of a hot cup of chai tea. It smells divine, especially when freshly ground, which is what I did for this recipe. If you do buy the whole pods, just smash the shells in a bowl to release the inside seeds and discard the shells. Then grind the seeds in a spice or coffee grinder. About a tablespoon of pods should make about 2 teaspoons of ground cardamom.

Another great thing about this recipe is it doesn't require eggs or an egg substitute; the pumpkin and oil are enough to bind and create a superbly moist muffin. The crumb topping adds another dimension that elevates these muffins to superstardom ;-)

For Topping:
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil

For Muffins:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vanilla soy or almond milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1) Preheat oven to 400F. Place paper muffin cups in a 12-muffin pan.

2) Make topping in a small bowl by mixing all ingredients together well. Set aside.

3) In medium bowl, stir together the pumpkin, oil, milk, and brown sugar. Make sure to smash any big sugar lumps. Place a sifter over the bowl and sift the dry ingredients over the wet mixture. Stir just until mixed well.

4) Use a small ice cream scooper to get a uniform amount of batter into each muffin cup, then drizzle with crumb topping. Bake 20 minutes, or until tops just start to crack and look browned.

Makes 12-16 muffins.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Soft Vegan Ginger Spice Cookies with Molasses Icing

If you don't already own the cookbook Vegan With a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, you simply must add it to your collection. The recipe I made below was adapted from her recipe for "Sparkled Ginger Cookies". If you are in one of those moods for a soft cookie that's easy to make, look no further.

You will need:

4 T vegan white sugar
2 C all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 C vegetable oil
1/4 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 C light brown sugar

3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup hot water
2 T molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1) Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease or line with parchment paper 2 cookie sheets. Pour the white sugar onto a small plate and set aside.

2) Sift together the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt over a bowl. In a separate medium-sized bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, soy milk, oil, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring just until well incorporated.

3) Roll dough into 1" balls, place onto cookie sheet about 2" apart. Use a fork dipped into the white sugar to flatten the balls slightly. Bake 10-12 minutes. Let the cookies sit for a couple of minutes after you pull them from the oven before transferring them to a cooling rack.

4) To make the icing, whisk the powdered sugar with the hot water (add more water if it's too dry, but be careful to not make the icing too runny), then whisk in the molasses and vanilla. Use a spoon to drizzle onto cookies.

This recipe makes about 24 cookies.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Vegan Cookbook Review

I know I'm a little late to the party, as this cookbook hit the shelves back in '09, but my husband just got  The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen and we have been having a blast whipping up Tal's masterpieces! His recipes contain no dairy, meat, or eggs but do contain lots of flavor. Any of the recipes in this book would be sure to impress your (meat-eating) guests at the next dinner party. I suggest you don't even mention the "v" word to your guests and they may not notice the delicious meal and dessert they just wolfed down was devoid of animal products.

My husband and I ambitiously made one of the more complicated entrees first, but the work is so worth it. Wow was it delicious! We made the Peppercorn-Encrusted Portobello Fillets with Yellow Tomato Bearnaise Sauce and Mashed Potatoes, as seen below.

Next, we created the Cajun Portobello Sandwich with Avocado and Remoulade, except we used regular Vegenaise instead of the remoulade and didn't have anymore avocado in the house, so we just layered on juicy tomato slices and crisp lettuce and holy moly it was soooooo good! We decided this sandwich needs to be a regular item on our weekly menu. It's not too spicy and the marinade makes the mushrooms so juicy.

Chef Tal proves with The Conscious Cook that dining on vegan food doesn't mean sacrificing flavor or substance. Anyone who thinks vegans only eat salads should check this cookbook out. I wouldn't recommend this cookbook to people who don't enjoy cooking though, as it is mostly geared for those who enjoy the process of actually creating their entire meal. Most of the recipes are more for fine dining, like special occasions, but there are a few for everyday cooking as well.

In his own words, taken from the introduction: "There are no sprouts in this book, or in my refrigerator. I don't like them. I like rich, hearty meals, and I love cooking. I love being in the kitchen, alone or with friends. And this book is for people who feel the same--people who love to cook....if you like hollandaise sauce, rich wine reductions, and meat-like textures, you'll love these recipes."

There is more to the book than recipes, as he also includes interviews with other culinary geniuses, a list of his favorite vegan restaurants in the U.S., and a list of items to stock your kitchen with for the best cooking experience you can have.

My husband and I can't wait to make every recipe in the book. Thanks, Chef Tal!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Read the Fine Print

I've always been a label reader. Always. When I was a little girl, as soon as I learned to read I was putting my new found skills to good use, reading not just books, but everything that was written in English. Toothpaste tubes, cereal boxes, even the pamphlet detailing the rules to the game Clue. I took the time to read everything because I enjoyed learning and felt it was imperative to know these things. I noticed I was alone on this quickly when my friends would joke that I was a "nerd" when they would catch me reading the ingredients on our box of cookies. I was puzzled at why they thought it was weird. Isn't the information there for a reason?

So when I started eating a vegetarian diet in 2001, it was already second nature to read the labels of foods, and making sure something was free of gelatin, carmine color (the guts of squished red beetles, used to enhance the red or purple colors of some food products-yuck), chicken or beef broth, to name a few, was easy for me. But many people don't habitually read food labels, which can be disastrous.

Case in point, my husband and I bought some tomato paste last time we went shopping, but forgot we already had some at home. So we ended up with two different brands, one store brand and the other a major brand. The major brand, Contadina, is labeled "Tomato Paste" in large white letters and "Product" underneath in much smaller letters. This tomato paste was made "with Italian Herbs". The generic brand is just labeled "Tomato Paste".

What do you think the tomato paste "product" is made with? Do you think someone with a gluten intolerance, someone following a vegan diet, or someone allergic to soy or corn would think they have to check that their tomato paste would include any offenders? Check it out:

The Tomato Paste Product contains ingredients most of us would never expect, like high fructose corn syrup (second on the list!), Romano cheese, yeast, soy and wheat gluten proteins, and partially hydrogenated soybean oil. Notice the generic brand on the right contains just tomatoes and citric acid. Sure, it's not a perfect comparison, but I showed them side-by-side to prove that all the other ingredients are unnecessary, with or without herbs.

I think it's a reasonable expectation that your tomato paste with Italian herbs would not need all the other ingredients that force the company to include the word "product" on the label. Most of us would understandably just expect tomatoes and herbs. It is not unreasonable for a person who excludes dairy or gluten from their diet to think their tomato paste would be free of these items. We've got to read the labels of everything to be safe.

Especially in restaurants, where the ingredients are not listed for every menu item, you've got to ask questions. I waited tables at a popular pizza chain in California and their spinach and artichoke dip included chicken broth. Totally unnecessary, as was proven when they changed the recipe and omitted the chicken broth and nobody noticed any difference in taste. But who would think that would be in the spinach dip? Don't feel silly about asking--you never know.

I made the mistake once of ordering the minestrone soup at some hole in the wall Italian place without asking any questions about it. It's minestrone, which is a classic vegetarian soup, so of course I just ordered it. It arrived with bacon in it. Bacon, are you kidding me? Leave it to meat-obsessed Americans to ruin a perfectly healthy dish by adding fatty pig flesh. I explained to the server when I sent it back that it isn't labeled on the menu as having bacon in it so I didn't think it wouldn't be vegetarian. Restaurant owners should be wiser about how they describe their dishes on their menus.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? I'd like to hear your stories!