Author: jess sconé

Holiday Blogging Ideas!

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It’s that special time of year, where it seems like every other blog popping up on your reader is showing off the latest holiday gift guide. If not that, it’s talking about what cookies they love to make this holiday season, links of tried-and-true recipes in tow. These are both great ideas for seasonal blog posts, but there’s plenty more to talk about, and to make your own.

Here at Vida Vegan Headquarters, we’ve put together a list of 15 holiday-themed blogging suggestions to inspire you to inspire others, this winter:

15 Ideas to Get You Blogging This Holiday Season

  1. Veganize family favorites and share the recipe and the memories.
  2. Homemade gifts ideas. That’s right, go get fabulously lost on the DIY Xmas Gifts-land that is Pinterest this morning.
  3. Holiday meal planning: the classics and the brave new dishes.
    Gooey vegan cardamom-cinnamon rolls, Vegan Eats & Treats
  4. Kindness. Spread the cheer & pay it forward.
  5. DIY decorating: Hello, Snowman fridge.
  6. Winter picnics with chocolate chip cookies and mugs of mulled cider or peppermint candy cane vodka-infused hot cocoa.
    The Vida Vegan Hot Toddy kit: cinnamon, star anise, Stash tea, dried lemon peel and raw sugar, ready for whiskey & hot water. Image via @janessapk
  7. Speaking of mugs…… ‘Tis the season for warm drinks.Winter picnics with chocolate chip cookies and mugs of mulled cider or peppermint candy cane vodka-infused hot cocoa.
  8. A new round-up of the  best soups in town.
  9. Tips on throwing a themed holiday party…Festivus, anyone?
  10. Wool-less winter looks.
    Vegan Rapunzel Braid Hooded Scarf via ShopCheni on Etsy
  11. Sharing New Year’s resolutions that will seriously  help the world: organize a sanctuary work party; join in the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale; vow to compost, etc.
  12. Vegan nog-off (or hot chocolate-off) It’s a tough job, but…
  13. Eco-wrapping. One more intense round of Pinterest to explore.
  14. Talk about your favorite nonprofits (Holiday season is also tax write-off season — find out who’s got fund-matching!)
  15. Life lessons: share your vegan-through-the-family-holidays survival guide.

Or….Screw the seasons! Keep doing what you do!

Got something great in the works? Instagram it in-progress, giving a nice behind-the-scenes, authentic look at what you’ve got in store. If you’ve been posting about the holidays, we’d love to read about it. Leave a comment with a link and share your plans in the comments!

Vegan Thanksgiving at Vida Vegan Headquarters: Feast Ideas & Portland Dining Options

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Like every other friend we talk to lately, we’ve got homemade holidays on the collective brain at Vida Vegan Headquarters, and brainstorming and recipe testing for our upcoming Holiday Hors D’oeuvres & How-Tos! (aka our holiday entertaining class & cocktail shindig) is only making it that much more difficult to contemplate meals without grated nutmeg and cranberry.

Here are some last-minute, vegan Thanksgiving recipes and ideas catching your friendly organizers’ eyes, and some from our own archives and memories, for the fast-approaching Thanksgiving….Thanksliving…..Thanksgivukkah…..Thursday eats, whatever you’d like to call it.

Image via

Janessa’s favorite picks:

  • Chive Mashed Potatoes I’ve made this recipe from Tal Ronnen the past three years. The secret is the cashew cream that adds an unbelievably rich creaminess.

  • Green Bean Casserole This recipe from Susan at the excellent Fat Free Vegan blog is an excellent base for that Thanksgiving classic. I usually fatten it up by adding those awful & delicious canned fried onions and cooking with lots of wine.

  • Artisan Bread Grant Butler recently posted this recipe on Oregon Live. It’s so easy and turns out the most delicious golden loaves of bread I’ve seen.

  • Parsnip Ribbons Vegetarian Times published this recipe in its November issue. They’re simple, tasty, and add an elegant touch to your mashed potatoes. I omitted the paprika and added dried sage for an even more Thanksgiving-y flavor.

  • Lava Lamp The Lava Lamp is my favorite seasonal bubbly drink.

1 bottle sparkling wine

1-2 pomegranates’ worth of seeds

12 oz pomegranate juice

Pour bubbles into a tall champagne flute. Add half dozen to a dozen pomegranate seeds, and top with a splash of pomegranate juice. The seeds bounce up and down in the bubbles, creating a Lava Lamp-esque effect.*Makes 4-6 Lava Lamps.

Jess’ tried-and-true picks:

  • Bryanna Clark Grogan’s definitive vegan pumpkin pie

    • For a twist, I made a last minute,  straw-decorated, Thai Iced Tea version a couple of T-days ago that I just fell in love with (which can happen with pie, of course).

  • Pumpkin Cheddar Biscuits, Vegan Crunk via Panda with Cookie
  • My mom’s Sweet Potato Pie Casserole via New York Newsday. My late mother had a clipping of this recipe from the newspaper, and the aroma of it coming out of the oven is my oldest and fondest culinary memory.  Besides the mashed potatoes, it was the one dish at holiday gatherings I can actually remember eating, and looking forward to, year after year. (Coincidentally, I have bourbon infusing for this very flavor right now).

  •  Chickpea Cutlets, The PPK. New classics. It’s no gravy, but I sure like these with a smokey BBQ sauce.

  • Cranberry Kir Royale, The Chew…because yes, I often watch The Chew, happened to soak fresh cranberries in cherry brandy and ginger the other day, and really, really want to make these this holiday season (or tomorrow).
  • Savoury Turkey Seitan Roast from Brian P. McCarthy via Everyday Dish. A few years ago, I slept through most of a Thanksgiving feast and having missed out, decided to make this baked seitan first thing the next day, and it was a brilliant, delicious decision.

    • And if you’re doing a classic Tofurky or seitan roast, I would like to recommend using sparkling apple cider or a hoppy beer, along with sliced garlic, shallots and fresh herbs, in that marinade. It’s where it’s at.
  • If you’re looking for something different or simply finger food-orientated, perhaps the first-ever documented Totsgiving can inspire.
Sweet Potato Pie….casserole

Michele’s cozy picks:

While I’m just as likely to make pizza or pasta, here are some more traditional holiday dishes:

Some of my favorites for which I’ve never had recipes are stuffin’ muffins (stuffing made in muffin tins), crispy baked chickpeas, roasted sweet potatoes, and any ol’ hunk of bread with roasted elephant garlic and parsley butter.

Vegan Thanksgiving in Portland & Beyond

And if you’re staying in, how about mixing things up and putting together a special Korean dolsot bibimap, Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian spread (from Vida Vegan Con alumnae Kittee Berns) or even picking up take-out from a vegan-friendly restaurant, grocery store or caterer open in your neighborhood? There’s often something extra fun about breaking tradition, and most importantly, creating your own.

Homemade Vegan Ethiopian Platter at Jess’, last Thanksgiving

If you’re in the Portland area like us, here are some suggestions:

The incredibly well-attended, 10th Annual NorthwestVeg Compassionate Thanksgiving Potluck is also happening on November 24th at Benson High School. Registration here.

Outside of Portland?

We’d love to hear about your own very special, traditional or otherwise, American Thanksgiving plans (or Canada’s earlier this year!) and tried and true recipes.

Do feel free to let us know of any other spots open in your neighborhood.

Happy Feasting!

Stay tuned for more from our Vida Vegan holiday guides & news on our holiday events.

holiday party revised

The early bird discount for our upcoming holiday celebration ends next week!

Eventbrite - Holiday Hors D'oeuvres & How-Tos

Catching up with Vida Vegan Alumni: Q & A with Leigh-Chantelle

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My, how time flies! We started this Q & A series at Vida Vegan Headquarters heading into September’s VeganMoFo, and since we received such great feedback and responses from our alumni, we’re excited to continue with a few more final installments. These special interviews offer a glimpse into our past alumni’s upcoming projects, summer shenanigans and reveal what they really learned at VVC2013. They’re sharing which class sticks out in their minds so many months later, and just what they’d like to see more and less of in vegan blogging, a question that’s always on our own minds.  

Our next interview is with one of our furthest traveling guests for Vida Vegan Con, (mostly) Australian-based author, international speaker, activist and blogger, Leigh-Chantelle of Viva La Vegan! and the Green Earth Group.

Leigh-Chantelle, Viva La Vegan!
Leigh-Chantelle, Viva La Vegan!

What were you up to this Summer? I travelled to the USA for my Australian Winter. I spent 9 weeks in America, travelling all over the country for vegan/Animal Rights events, visiting friends and, one of my favourite things – road trips. When I was in the USA I had an interview with CHRY105.5FM in Toronto, Canada and had a lovely article written about me in the Examiner.

Talks, Panels & Workshop Videos:

LC’s USA Adventures & photos
LC’s USA Adventures & photos

I then spent a month in Cambodia, specifically Phnom Pehn, Battambang and Siem Reap before coming to Indonesia. I spent the last few weeks in Magelang, Central Java and then Surabaya, East Java before returning to my beloved Ubud, Bali where I’ll be until the beginning of October when I return home to Brisbane, Australia for aunty duties. I did a lot of media interviews when I was in Java – you can view the articles on my blog, FaceBook or Google+. One of the articles is online – use Google Translate for English. (see the photo attached – Focus Jateng) I’ve just launched 3 new vegan dessert e-books and 1 raw recipe e-book. I’ve completed the text for my upcoming recipe book due out the end of the year and am now compiling my vegan athletes interview book. As always, I have many different projects going.

Why did you decide to attend Vida Vegan Con II?

VVC is my favourite vegan event – and I’ve been to a great deal of vegan/AR events. I was asked to speak again for the second year, immediately accepted and was excited about the new topics I’d be speaking about.

Looking back, what was the most memorable class? I really enjoyed being a part of the Ethics Beyond the Plate panel and had a lot of great feedback about it. I thought 5 people on the panel was too many, but Jason did a great job of directing questions and keeping the topics on track. It’s biased, but I always love hearing my close friends Jasmin and Mariann from Our Hen House as well as Ryan Patey from TOFU Magazine speak.

What would you like to see more or less of in (vegan) blogging? One of the things I say in just about every talk I give – especially here in SE Asia – is that veganism is not a diet and it’s not a religion. Diet in particular seems to be the main focus for a lot of blogs. I’d like to see more people write about the fact that veganism isn’t the first and last step towards compassion and living ethically. We are here on this earth to learn and there’s just so much to absorb. I also don’t like reading about how veganism is a “cure all” for all of the diseases and environmental catastrophes we are experiencing – it’s a massive help, but it’s not the be all and end all.

You can follow along with Leigh-Chantelle’s travels and vegan journey by following her  Youtube channel, VivaLaVeganDotNet, Twitters, @VivaLVegan & @leighchantelle and Pintetest page, Viva La Vegan.

Stay tuned for the final installments of our Q & A series and some vegan-friendly entertaining tips for the holiday season here at Vida Vegan Headquarters.

What a Month!

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It’s been swell looking back on what we’ve all been up to since the workings of the very fist Vida Vegan Con in 2011 during our Month of Memories for VeganMoFo, and catching up with alumni, speakers and sharing some behind the scenes secrets.

Mighty-O Doughnuts. Just cause.
Mighty-O Doughnuts. Just cause we all deserve it.

Our Q & A series will continue into Autumn as all three VVC organizers begin, continue and end their separate travels, gathering inspiration for their own endeavors and Vida Vegan-land, alike.

Thank you all for being a part of the Vida Vegan family, and we hope to see you at our next happening, whatever neck of the woods it may be in!

Month of Memories presents: Q & A with Jojo! (aka dear

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Greetings! Welcome to the latest edition of our ongoing Q & A series at Vida Vegan Headquarters. These special interviews offer a glimpse into our past alumni’s upcoming projects, summer shenanigans and reveal what they really learned at VVC2013. They’re sharing which class sticks out in their minds so many months later, and just what they’d like to see more and less of in vegan blogging, a question that’s always on our own minds. 

It’s now time to catch up with first time, wonderfully enthusiastic Vida Vegan alumnae, Jojo Huxster, better known to vegan bloggers (and readers!) around the globe as the longtime blogger behind ““. Jojo’s currently across the pond once again, exploring and documenting even more of what the United States has to offer vegan visitors.


Hi JoJo! Just what have you been up to this summer? 
After Vida Vegan Con I travelled around the Pacific Northwest a little more and then popped home and quickly turned around for Spain where I celebrated my 30th birthday with my besties. After that I popped to Zagreb to hang with some more wonderful vegan friends.
Since I’ve been back in Brighton I’ve been eating all of the gelato, planning my next trip (see ya soon San Francisco!) and baking cupcakes for Operation Icing, my not-for-profit bakery.
Why did you decide to attend Vida Vegan Con II? 
After reading everyone’s write ups of the first conference in 2011 how could I not? The speaker line up was amazing and it was a perfect opportunity to meet up with online friends from all over the globe. I finally got to meet Mandee from Cupcake Kitteh and we had a ridiculously fun time sharing a room together for a whole week.
Looking back, what was the most memorable class? 
This is a tough one but I’d have to say Isa’s iPhone photography class, she’s completely hilarious and awesome and I have been using many swatches in my photographs ever since!
How has your blog changed since the three-day conference? 
I am making a concerted effort to take better photographs whenever I can, but, y’know, sometimes I’m just hungry so don’t hold me to it!
Who were you really excited to meet? 
Wow, so many people. I’ve been talking to so many PPKers and bloggers for years and years without ever having a chance to meet them in person so it was a total whirlwind and I loved meeting everyone.
So, have you started reading any new blogs? 
Yes! I have two new favorite blog discoveries, one was Bonzai Aphrodite, I’d never heard of this beautiful vegan lifestyle blog before and I love it. I had also never realised that VVC organizer Janessa had a blog, I know right, duh, and I’m loving following her on her travels around Eastern Europe and SE Asia.
Lastly, what was your favorite meal in Portland, outside of the conference? 
Can I have more than one favourite meal in Portland? (Note: Duh) I was there for almost two weeks – I seriously had to keep extending my stay because I didn’t want to leave! I loved everything I ate at Back to Eden and if I could I would smuggle Ms Panda with Cookie across the ocean (y’know, if she wants to) to come and live with me so that she can cook me her famous biscuits and gravy every day.
Another meal I keep thinking back to is the Mac ‘n Cheese burger at White Owl Social Club, I ate that thing four times in a week – no regrets!
White Owl’s Mac & Cheese Burger with shoestring fries. Photo via

In short, Jojo rules and all of us at Vida Vegan Headquarters are in awe of her Mac ‘n Cheese dedication. Come back this way soon — they’re calling your name!

You can read more about Jojo’s take on VVC2013 right here on her recap and stay tuned to her blog updates & travels (she’s recently been spotted in Las Vegas) over at Instagram, and ditto on twitter

Our Month of Memories Q & A series at Vida Vegan Headquarters will continue far into the end VeganMoFo and beyond.

Talking Big Changes & Mad Men MoFo: More Q & A with Kelly Peloza of Seitan Beats Your Meat

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Hey there! Welcome to the latest edition of our ongoing Q & A series at Vida Vegan Headquarters. These special interviews give a glimpse into our past alumni’s upcoming projects, summer shenanigans and reveal what they really learned at VVC2013. They’re sharing which class sticks out in their minds so many months later, and just what they’d like to see more and less of in vegan blogging, a question that’s always on our own minds. 

This time around, we’re getting serious about VeganMoFo thematics and talking how to survive big, bloggy changes with two-time Vida Vegan Con speaker, ‘artful’ food photographer and soon to be two-time cookbook author Kelly Peloza, who can now be found blogging exclusively at the amazingly titled Seitan Beats Your Meat.

Instagram Noir Self-Portrait. Photo via @KellyPeloza on Instagram

So Kelly, just what have you been up to this summer?
Working, blogging, and working on/planning projects (including Vegan MoFo)!

Why did you decide to attend Vida Vegan Con II?
I had an amazing time at Vida Vegan Con I!

Kelly & Jess in some strange filter at Native Foods in Chicago in 2012

Looking back, what was the most memorable class?
The body image class was one of the most memorable.

How has your blog changed since the three-day conference?
It no longer exists (sort of)!

I found myself with tons of extra time and inspiration after the conference, so I started a brand new blog with a new focus and image to put my time and energy toward. I now blog at Seitan Beats Your Meat and the archives of my old blog, The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, exist elsewhere.

How did VVC2013 affect your culinary style and home cooking?
The contents of the swag bag have been going strong! I’ve just been really into summer foods, fresh fruit and and vegetables. And pesto and bacon for some reason.

Who were you really excited to meet?
New friends! My VVCII roommates were fantastic!

Any nice surprises you’d like to share? Special memories?
I’m really excited for Vegan MoFo (can you tell?), where I’ll be doing Mad Men MoFo this year (Note, which she’s getting all retro right now!)! Then I have a new cookbook coming out in October called Cheers to Vegan Sweets.
My favorite memories from VVC2013 are the classes, VooDoo doughnuts, karaoke night, and our apartment!

So, have you started reading any new blogs?
Yes, I started reading some fellow attendees’ blogs. And the death of Google Reader made me take a look at my feeds and cut out some blogs that I don’t read anymore or haven’t been updated in years.

What would you like to see more or less of in (vegan) blogging?
It’s the best when people have a “thing” or a style that’s unique to them and their blog, whether it’s their photos, drawings, stories, or a special theme. It makes blogs so genuine and entertaining.

What would you like to see the organizers incorporate into the next VVC?
Keep the breakfast showcases coming!

What other vegan events put together by VVHQ would you like to attend?
I would love to see webinars* put on by speakers to keep the conversations going between conferences, especially since not everyone lives near the same city (or continent).

Lastly, what was your favorite meal in Portland, outside of the conference?
I keep thinking about FlavourSpot.

Maple cream & pecan waffle from Flavourspot. Image credit: Panda with Cookie and Waffle

*Special Note from Vida Vegan Headquarters: Seriously, has she been reading our minds?! Something of the sorts is very much in the works (and then again, what isn’t?) because we love the notions of staying in touch and letting folks around the world tune in while keeping their pajamas on. And….now I’m craving maple, preferably in a retro cocktail.

Congrats on the upcoming cookbook, Kelly! 

To keep up with Kelly’s latest, be sure to catch her on Instagram @kellypeloza and likewise on Twitter.

Our Month of Memories Q & A series at Vida Vegan Headquarters will continue far into the end VeganMoFo and beyond.