NuGo Nutrition and the New Vegan

Standard

nugo

Five years ago this month I started working for Woodhouse, a timberframe company, as their Vice President of Marketing and Communications. This point in time, and its significance in my life, appears throughout my forthcoming book, The Skeptical Vegan.

It was my first week of being vegan.

During my initial meeting and interview with the company president we had a lunch meeting that would be the very first time I ate out as a vegan (see Chapter Two for more details). Also, an ill-fated trip as a new vegan to a Minneapolis steakhouse with a group of burly builders made for some interesting off-menu ordering (see Chapter Three) and it was during my hour and a half commute to my office in Pennsylvania when I first made “the connection” while staring down a hillside of cows (see Chapter Four).

January 2012 was when it all began.

In case you’re looking for product placement in this blog post, you might think it’s my forthcoming book, The Skeptical Vegan, which is available for preorder NOW (comes out in July) and which I keep mentioning. However, the real product placement for this chapter of my vegan journey belongs to: NuGo.

img_7734

NuGo Nutrition is an Oakmont, PA-based protein bar manufacturer whose “Chocolate Pretzel with Sea Salt” pretty much kept me alive for that first year of being an on-the-road vegan, driving to and from Woodhouse.

As a new vegan I was struggling to find something I could grab quick on the road (after dropping our foster twins off at daycare) that was nutritious, delicious, filling, and satisfying (and available at 7:30 am on my way out of town).

My regular stop took me to Wegmans (on the way) and for the first two weeks I would buy a soy vanilla latte and a couple bananas. Then I would expand into more fruits with the latte but it never felt like I was eating a “meal.” I craved more. A few failed attempts at finding a vegan AND gluten-free protein bar finally led me to NuGo. And I’ve been a fan of all their products ever since (still most in love with the pretzel, FWIW).

They have Mint Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Coconut, Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Mocha, Peanut Butter Cup and more! Getting hungry? Then don’t click here.

Each delicious bar features:

  • REAL dark chocolate for vegans with a sweet tooth
  • High protein for vegans who think about things like protein
  • Low fat for vegans who want to lose some weight
  • Vegan for vegans
  • Pareve for vegans who look for this kind of thing
  • Certified gluten-free for GF/Vs
  • Certified Kosher for Jewish vegans
  • Antioxidant rich for vegans who need more antioxidants!
  • … and their bars are non-GMO-certified!

Every morning I would buy two bars (pretzel) and my latte and listen to satellite talk radio, trying to make all three last me an hour as I drove into northern Pennsylvania to my office. Since I currently live just an hour from the Pennsylvania border, I recently mapped to see how long it would take to get to the NuGo factory so I could stop in and act like Charlie at the chocolate factory but, alas, it’s 5 1/2 hours from home.

Next time I am in the Pittsburgh area … I will hopefully have a chance to stop in and thank the good people of Nugo for helping me become (and stay) vegan.

#GoVegan.

14370085_10157488552745451_2078957272791608009_n

LOOK for The Skeptical Vegan from Skyhorse Publishing this July and PREORDER now at Amazon or Barnes and Noble!

Healthier BeyondMeat Meets GlutenFree Vegan Risotto all Day Long

Standard

risotto with spinach

For the new year Jen and I decided to kick up our vegan diet a notch and go full-on, whole-food plant-based (WFPB). Being vegan was just becoming too easy (also, I had to wean myself from french fries somehow and this seemed like a great time). We’re sticking to this every day of the year with the exception of the first of the month and special events (potlucks) and holidays (Groundhog Day, Arbor Day, etc.).

So far, we’ve successfully made it through Day One with the help of this delicious and very simple risotto. This creamy recipe is 100% WFPB (until you add the optional, but totally worth it, BeyondMeat chicken strips at the very end).

You’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice (risotto rice)
  • One 38 oz. container of vegan vegetable stock
  • 1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • One 6 oz. package of triple washed organic baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (nooch)
  • One package of BeyondMeat grilled “chicken” strips (defrosted)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large non-stick cooking pan add 1/4 cup of the vegetable stock and bring to a boil (you can also use a tablespoon of EEOV here but that’s not on our diet … damn it). Add the chopped onions, garlic, and mushrooms and sautĂ© until soft (about five minutes, stirring). Stir in the arborio rice and cook for an additional five minutes over medium-high heat, coating the rice (you’ll start to hear popping sounds … since this recipe is poppin’).

Pour in one cup of the vegetable stock and lower the heat to medium. Stir constantly and with purpose. From here on out you’re going to be feeding the rice the vegetable stock and stirring (adding ingredients along the way). It’s an excellent arm workout.

Once the first cup of liquid has been absorbed, add a second cup (see what I mean?). After the third cup, add the chopped basil and the spinach (the spinach is going to look huge in the pan but will cook down as you introduce it to the rice and stock). See what I mean?

spinach

Once the spinach has been completely incorporated, add another cup of vegetable stock. This entire “feed the risotto vegetable stock” process will take approximately 40 minutes (and you will end up using the entire carton of stock). After the final drops of vegetable stock have been added, stir in the nooch until full incorporated (you should have a creamy, cheesy texture at this point). If it seems like it needs more liquid, add a little water or squeeze a half a lemon into it (citrus gives any dish a burst of flavor and freshness).

Test the texture of the rice (perfect, isn’t it?) and finish off by stirring in the whole package of torn BeyondMeat chicken strips into the finished risotto. Heat for an additional five minutes until the BeyondMeat has warmed up. Salt and pepper to taste. If you want … top with some vegan parmesan and a sprig of basil. Your friends are going to be so impressed by you: 1) You made a delicious gluten-free vegan risotto; 2) You topped it with a sprig of basil which is called “garnish” and you’ve never done that before.

They’re all impressed and, after dining on this dish, they’ll all want to #GoVegan.

14370085_10157488552745451_2078957272791608009_n

LOVE this recipe? Want more like it? Pre-order The Skeptical Vegan NOW! Available at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble! More than 25 of my favorite meaty dishes … veganized and made simple!