January's Vegan Food Swap: A Taste of Asia & Alaska

It’s a new year, so I’m mixing things up a bit.  A long-time participant in The Lean Green Bean’s Foodie Pen-Pals, I decided to start the year off by trying a different Food Swap – an All Vegan Food swap hosted by Cat of The Verdant Life.  I had a fantastic experience with Foodie Pen-Pals and my partners always honored my dietary preferences, but I believe the Vegan Food Swap will allow me connect with & learn from more of the Vegan community, which I’m very excited about.

 

This month, the Vegan Food Swap far exceeded my expectations!  I sent a box to Kathy in the Austin, Texas area and received a jaw-dropping box from Laura of Anchorage, Alaska in return.  From the moment I picked up the super heavy box, I knew it was going to be an awesome package. (Flat-Rate Shipping for the win!)

I had mentioned in my email to Laura that I really enjoy trying Ethnic Foods and she picked out some fantastic products for me – some that I’ve been very eager to try, and other’s that I’d never even heard of before.

I’m most excited to try the Young Green Jackfruit, the newest meat-substitute to gain popularity.  While it’s essentially just a canned & brined fruit, it’s said to have the texture of meat.  Unlike other popular vegetarian meat-substitutes, it’s soy-free, and gluten-free too.  I’ve been so eager to try my hand at cooking with it ever since I first read about it in Vegetarian Times last March (check out this great Jackfruit Gyros recipe).  

Not only did Laura read my mind and send me something I was extremely eager to try, she also sent me not one, but TWO Jackfruit recipes to try and some of the key spices I’d need for the recipes.

One of the recipes is for “Larb” – a salad traditionally made of minced meat that is the national dish of Laos.  For this recipe she sent me a packet of Roasted Rice Powder which I had never heard of before.  The recipe also calls for Shallots for which I can use the Dried Shallots she included.  Shallots are one of Mike’s all time favorite ingredients and I love that having them dried will make them an easy addition to any recipe.

The other recipe is for “BBQ Pulled Jackfruit” which is sure to be amazing thanks to theBBQ spice blend she sent me for it.  As soon as I opened the box I could smell the smoked paprika in the mix – yum!

  

I also received a bag of Taro Chips from Thailand and a bottle of Ume Plum Vinegar.  Laura said that the vinegar is one of her favorites and that she especially loves it on salads.

Even though it’s winter here, I can’t wait to freeze & eat this Smooze! Coconut & Guava Fruit Ice, which is blend of pink guava juice, coconut milk, cane sugar and pectin.  A taste of summer sounds so amazing right about now.

This weekend, I will definitely be spending plenty of time cozying up with mugs of Zen Chai’s Indian Tea Concentrate which was locally made in Alaska.  A blend of cane sugar, black tea, ginger, cardamom, and spices, this sounds like the perfect addition to a mug of warm soy milk.

She also sent me some beautiful Fresh Chestnuts along with instructions for roasting them.  I’ve actually never roasted chestnuts before, so I’m especially excited about these too.

And there’s still more! … a colorful array of fruity goodies.  I’ll be bringing the Stretch Island Fruit Leathers to work or keeping them in my purse for a light bite when I need just a little something more to hold me over until my next meal (a different Laura, one of my best ‘blends’ and an RD2be, told me fruit leathers are great for this!).  

The That’s It bar is perfect for the same use when I need something a little more substantial – and the Apricot + Apple is my favorite flavor.

Plus I am a total Tea addict – I drink at least 5 cups a day at work.  If you asked me my favorite flavors of Tazo Tea, the Chai, Passion, and Wild Sweet Orange would be my trifecta, so Laura completely nailed it.  I’m also really excited to try the Honeybush which is a new-to-me flavor.

The package from Laura was so perfect, right down to the materials she used for packing – She included this old issue of Spirituality & Health Magazine merely as cushioning for the box, but I’m actually very interested in reading it.  I love the idea of this new-to-me magazine.  The Spirituality & Health twitter profile describes the magazine as one that is dedicated to the soul/body connection and exploring the health of body, mind, and spirit.  How beautiful does that sounds?

I am so appreciative of the thoughtful, generous, and oh so exciting package I received from Laura and I am looking forward to next month’s Vegan Food Swap!

The Vegan Food Swap is open to bloggers and non-bloggers, so if you’re interested in joining us in February, just click here to sign up by Feb 5th!

I’d love to hear from you!

Have you tried any of these products before?

Which would you most like to try?