Powered by Squarespace
Custom Bumper Stickers
Personalized Bumper Stickers



PortionMate™ Portion Control Tools. See my review here.




Entries in vegan (16)


Treat: A Cupcakery Standing Strong

I'd never thought much about cupcakes until one day about five years ago when I walked past a bright, extremely cheerful new storefront in Needham Center. I had just finished a visit with former coworkers at a medical journal on Pickering Street that I'd worked at for several years, and was seeking an afternoon snack. The minute I stepped in, I knew I'd found something special. Treat Cupcake Bar opened its doors in July 2010, and I wrote a review in August Getting Tipsy at the Bar. At that time until now, I marvel how their vegan gluten-free cupcakes (made with flaxseed and chick pea flour) taste moister and more delicious than their regular cupcakes. Their build-your-own cupcake remains a popular choice for cupcake lovers of all ages.

So what's new? For one, it has survived the invasion of cupcakeriesmore than a dozen in the Boston area—to open a second location at The Street Chestnut Hill. In addition, the original Needham location has expanded by purchasing the adjacent space (previously Swizzles frozen yogurt), preserving the froyo concept but renaming it The Dessert Workshop.

When you first enter the expanded store in Needham, you have the choice to go right or left...

Left takes you to The Dessert Workshop where you can customize a frozen dessert with dozens of flavor options

Right takes you to cupcake heavenLast week I chatted with Sarah Waters, the marketing and events manager at Treat. She shared an update on this successful community-centered business. 

Q: Since you opened in July 2010, how is business?

A: Business is an adventure. Running three storefronts is an interesting way to connect with the community and to learn the pulse of a neighborhood. What makes it fun is meeting the families and being a very sweet part of their milestones. We have had the honor of having first dates and proposals, as well as creating custom wedding cupcakes and then baby shower cupcakes for the same families!

Q: It seems that so many cupcakeries have opened in the Boston area...do you feel this is a very competitive business? What makes Treat unique from other cupcake stores?

A: Having a cupcakery is a competitive business to be in for sure. What makes us unique is we care deeply about our community so we listen closely to what are customers want from us. This is what helps us evolve and stay present. 

Q: What is your top selling cupcake flavor?

A: Love this question but sometimes it is hard to answer! If I had to really choose I have to choose the Sprinkle Me Silly cupcake, which is a confetti cake with our classic buttercream and sprinkles. But, my cupcake of choice is the Chocolate Surprise...a gold cupcake filled with fudge and swirled with cream cheese frosting.

Q: Some of my friends especially love Treat because they serve allergen-free cupcakes. Are these a big seller for you? 

A: Our Gluten Free / Dairy Free / Egg Free / Vegan options are absolutely flying! They are the fastest growing part of our business. And we have expanded our Gluten Free options to include muffins, loaves and meringue cookies!

Q: It was a bold move to add a frozen yogurt shop to the mix (especially when the previous owners were struggling). But it looks fantastic! Has it enhanced the cupcake store?

A: Thanks for asking about The Dessert Workshop. The addition of the shop gives our customers the option to have soft-serve ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt or even vegan sorbets in a cup or added to a cupcake. It's a way to increase the creativity at Treat and we are enjoying the new addition. 

Q: How about offering a frequent cupcake buyer card (say, buy 12 get 1 free) for cupcake fanatics like me? 

A: Great idea! We'll have to give this some thought!

Ice Cream Sundae Cupcake

Hazel-nutty CupcakeTreat Cupcake Bar is located at 1450 Highland Avenue, Needham, and at 40 Boylston Street, THE STREET, Chestnut Hill, MA.


Healthy Cooking Tips for Summer Meals

I love the foods and meals special to summer, like juicy sweet fruits, corn, cucumbers, whole grain salads, grilled vegetables and of course ice cream! I sought the advice of Julie Hersey, MS, RD, LDN, the nutritionist for Stop & Shop New England for summer cooking tips, since she has ready access to Stop & Shop's Buy Local program that incorporates a wide variety of produce from New England farms. Below she shares some great ideas, and further down check out a dish I made, Sweet and Sour Pineapple Tofu, inspired by a recipe I found in Stop & Shop's Savory Magazine (free to customers!).

Q: In the summer, do you find that your eating habits or types of meals change? If so, how?

A: With the abundant summer harvest I reach for more fresh fruits, veggies and herbs. Not only do they keep me feeling light and energized but naturally hydrated from the inside out. I add fresh berries to my Greek yogurt, mix grilled veggies into salad or quinoa at lunch and snack on stone fruit like cherries and nectarines. For the beach I pack belly-friendly snacks like watermelon, grapes, cheese, and almonds. We love to spend time outside and that means more grilling. When the coals are lit, it's the perfect chance to cook up any veggie that I have like squash, peppers, onions, mushrooms, corn and even potatoes.

It is not likely you will find me without a reusable water bottle in hand. In the summer, I infuse my water with sliced citrus and herbs. My favorite is a few mint leaves and a slice of lemon.   

Q: What are some of your favorite summer ingredients to cook with?

A: I was fortunate enough to spend summers on Cape Cod as a child. So this time of year I can’t get enough fresh seafood. Shrimp cocktail, grilled scallops, steamed clams or foil pouches of fish filets on the grill. When I am in a hurry I reach for salt-free seasoning blends to add bold flavor. Otherwise I keep flavors light and simple using fresh garlic, lemon slices, parsley or basil. Try your favorite seafood in this recipe for a one-pouch meal on the grill.

Q: On very hot days when you don't want to turn on the stove or oven, what are some ideas for a quick nutritious meal? 

A: For breakfast I make overnight oats or a fruit and yogurt parfait with plain Greek yogurt, fresh mixed berries, chia seeds and chopped walnuts.

For filling weekday lunches I make double batches of bean salads. Beans keep me feeling satisfied without feeling stuffed. They also help me avoid the mid-afternoon crash. I alternate between a Mediterranean and Mexican version. The Mediterranean version has chickpeas, red onion, cucumber, red bell pepper and feta cheese, and a Mexican version has black beans, green pepper, cherry tomatoes, cilantro and avocado. For similar flavors try this Tomato, Avocado, Black Bean Salad.

A perfect way to beat the heat is with a gazpacho, or chilled Spanish soup. The recipes from our June/July issue of our Savory magazine feature three colorful recipes that pack in servings of raw veggies. Try this Green Gazpacho with Avocado & Shrimp!

Q: There are a lot of BBQs and summer parties to attend. What is your favorite healthful dish to share when attending these?

A: You’re sure to please any crowd with a lighter version of traditional potato or pasta salad. For more volume and nutrition, mix non-starchy veggies (leafy greens, tomatoes, onions, peppers) into homemade or prepared starchy sides. Also try using plain Greek yogurt as a lighter base for a mayonnaise dressing. The recipe below for Green Bean & Potato Salad can be served alongside almost any choice of grilled protein. Click on the image to see the full recipe:

I especially love Julie's last tip of mixing non-starchy vegetables with starches, to cut the calorie content and add more nutrients! Below is my vegetarian twist on a recipe in Savory magazine that originally used meatballs. Instead I used tofu to create Sweet and Sour Pineapple Tofu with Bell Peppers. I took extra firm tofu and drained it well to release excess water. After chopping the tofu into cubes, I stir-fried it for a few minutes on medium-high heat with some olive oil to brown, then added a sauce of 2 T ketchup, 2.5 T soy sauce, and 2 T rice wine vinegar. After the sauce was incorporated with the tofu, I added pineapple chunks (you can use fresh or canned) and cooked rice, although below you'll see Israeli couscous because I ran out of rice! There are also stir-fried strips of bell pepper for more nutrients and crunch. It's really easy and delicious and not a lot of cook time over a hot stove.

…AND it tastes great as reheated leftovers!

Disclosure: I received Stop & Shop gift cards to purchase ingredients to facilitate this post. The thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.


Orange Glazed Tempeh with Veetee Rice 

I love how whole grains like rice, quinoa and steel cuts oats are now available fully cooked and frozen, so you can microwave for a few minutes and eat. I also cook grains the old-fashioned way on the stove, but on chaotic days I appreciate having these packages in the freezer.

Veetee, a company originally from the U.K., has created a line of precooked rices that are shelf-stable without artificial additives. You either microwave for two minutes or add the rice directly to a cooked dish like a stir-fry. Veetee sent me a case of various flavors to try out. They offer plain versions of jasmine, basmati, and brown as well as low fat savory flavors of Chicken, Golden Vegetable, and Thai Lime & Herb. All the varieties of Veetee tasted fluffy and soft after heating up. The only downside is that they're high in sodium, a common trait in packaged flavored rices. At least Uncle Ben's Ready Rice offers a sodium-free whole grain brown rice. Even Veetee's "plain" brown rice has 290 mg per 3/4 cup serving (each package provides two servings). The Golden Vegetable version has 780 mg per serving, though keep in mind it's not hard to eat the whole package of 1 1/2 cups of rice so the sodium doubles.

Still, I find flavored rices useful because I don't have to add extra seasonings. To lower the sodium content I'll blend half flavored rice with half plain brown rice. This was the case when I cooked up the tempeh recipe below.

I've been meaning to tackle tempeh now that I'm pretty comfortable with tofu. Per serving, tempeh is higher in protein and fiber than tofu. However it's got an odd, offputting flavor out of the package that definitely needs enhancement! I found a simple yet very flavorful recipe by KathEats for tempeh with an orange marmalade glaze. You sear tempeh in some oil for a few minutes until browned, then pour on a mixture of orange marmalade, olive oil, soy sauce and crushed garlic, cooking for a few more minutes until the glaze thickens. I added a half cup of Veetee Golden Vegetable Rice blended with a cup of my plain brown rice, carrot, chopped kale and sesame seeds. 

I don't know what magical thing happened when I poured that orange mixture onto the tempeh but the savory aroma was amazing. My son Jake asked if I'd gotten Chinese takeout. The tempeh tasted like a rich Chinese meat dish. The recipe was fast, made even quicker and tastier with the precooked Veetee rice. Super filling, super nutritious!

Check out Veetee rice soon! They're now available at Hannaford supermarkets and Amazon.com.

Disclosure: I received free samples of Veetee Rices to help facilitate this post. The recipe, thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.