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Vegan Food, Family & Travel

Special Edition: Vegans on Valentine’s Day – Episode V

Vegan Pozole Verde
Vegan Pozole Verde

Everyone warns you that romance evaporates when you have a baby. They caution you to keep the spark alive in your marriage and to not let the baby darn you of that will to live. Seems a little dramatic to us but then again that hasn’t been close to our experience. Yes, we can’t dote on each other like we used to when it was just the two of us but that doesn’t mean we’re skipping St. Valentine’s Day this year. In fact we’re actually planning a whole Valentine’s Week of sorts that starts on Saturday morning with a trip to Dunwell’s Doughnuts after baby swim class or maybe a visit to the new vegan cafe Little Choc Apothecary for spiced hot cocoa and peanut butter banana crepes. Then we’re taking a drive to Montauk to show our baby the ocean for the first time. There will be presents of course of TBA later, I’m making a special vegan cheesecake (Recipe being posted this Friday) and a collection of Madeline books* for the littlest Shannon.

We’re making some of our favorite dinners like Vegano Pozole Verde (pictured above), Kale & Lemon Pesto Pasta with Heirloom Tomatoes and Belgium Vegan Sweet Potato Stoemp with Sausages. We’re experimenting with some new smoothie ideas and we plan on posting the best ones. We’re treating ourselves to a marathon of new Face Off episodes because well – it’s awesome.

But you guys hear about us all the time… this post is all about getting some hints, tips and ideas from some of the coolest vegans around like cookbook author and vegan baking revolutionary Julie Hasson,  The adorable couple behind Upton’s Naturals Seitan Dan Staackmann and Nicole Sopko, Vegan Mos Ethan Ciment and Michael Suchman and introducing the new honorary Shannon/our 1st ever assistant – Danielle Legg!

There’s a lot of great ideas here for treating your sweetie right this Valentine’s Day but this is our 5th year doing this feature and you can always click here to check out past editions to see what other superstar vegans like Isa MoskowitzColleen Patrick Goudreau, The Herbivore Clothing Company’s Josh Hooten and Michelle Schwegmann ,  Vaute Couture‘s Leanne Mai-ly HilgartTerry Hope RomeroOur Hen House‘s Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan and so many more!

It’s always a win for the animals and basically the world when a well established and respected cookbook author uses their talents to help animals! Julie Hasson is one of those super heroes! With 9 titles to her name, Julie’s cookbooks have lived in kitchens all the world for years but her last 3 being completely vegan (like Julie) are the ones we obviously cherish the most! Julie has mainstreamed veganism even further by creating a line of animal friendly, gluten-free, non-gmo baking mixes called Julie’s Original that even the most intimidated kitchen novice can use. We had the pleasure of meeting and shooting a few videos with Julie during out Betty Goes Vegan book tour and look forward to hanging out with her and funny husband Jay again when revisit Portland this spring for the next one!


I love Valentine’s Day. I know that it can be a little over-the-top, but it’s also a nice reminder to celebrate each other and do something special with the one you love. And since my husband and I have been married for 25 years, sometimes we need that little reminder to stop working and do something special.
We usually keep it pretty simple and go out for dinner, or cook a nice dinner at home, and play cards by the fire with a bottle of wine.
Since we have to work on Valentine’s Day this year, we’ll probably go out for a delicious vegan dinner, and bring home a yummy dessert to enjoy by the fire.
There are so many excellent vegan places to eat in Portland, from restaurants like Portobello and Blossoming Lotus, to food carts (Native Bowl, Homegrown Smoker and Earth Burgers) and even vegan-friendly bars (hello Bye and Bye, Sweet Hereafter and White Owl Social Club). We are totally spoiled with great food in Portland, and Valentine’s Day is no exception.


Dan & Nicole UptonsEver since meeting Dan & Nicole, the adorable couple behind Upton’s Naturals seitan, at NY Vegfest – we’ve been falling in love with their products one mock meaty meal at a time. These two not only share a sincere passion for compassionate living, dog rescue and being generally awesome – they also work super hard to offer a delicious product that can convince anyone eating animals unnecessary.  As their products begin to pop up more and more around the country we are sure new vegans are being made everyday thanks to an Upton’s! We actually had the privilege of testing our their newest product a vegan chick seitan and will be posting a recipe using it on Monday!


Despite almost never being apart due to working and living together, my partner Dan and I will actually be away from each other this year on Valentine’s Day. I will be spending some solo time in India in the month of February while Dan holds down the fort at home and at our business, Upton’s Naturals. On the 14th I will be in the beautiful village of Vrindavan, a holy place with hundreds of Hindu temples. I expect to fill my day with relaxation, temple visits, and many many gorgeous cows before returning to my temporary residence at The Jiva Institute, a center for the preservation of Vedic teachings. There is a nearby Goshalla (Cow Sanctuary) there called Care for Cows where I sponsor a bull named Hanuman who I hope to visit on this trip. The residents at Care for Cows are all rescued from neglect, injury, or other situations, but are gentle, loving, and forgiving creatures. When you arrive and pick up a brush, you are instantly mobbed for attention. I can’t recommend time among cows enough, either near or far! Back at home, Dan will likely enjoy a meal or two from our restaurant, Upton’s Breakroom, and spend the day with our sweet German Shepherd, Greta. A great reward for all the hard work of sharing meat alternatives with the world!



I feel like it was just yesterday we were posting about how much we love Ethan Ciment and Michael Suchman from Vegan Mosactually it was back in December when they wrote a guest post for us! These two guys are taking on the commendable mission of encouraging people to expand their circles of compassion to include issues concerning gay rights and animals. Talk about a force for good in the world! Plus they love each other and have some pretty awesome Valentine’s day plans to celebrate that!

We are both romantics at heart, so we love doing something special together for Valentine’s Day. Michael loves giving cards, so through out the day, Ethan will find cards left for him. Ethan loves surprising Michael with things he would not do for himself, so that cannot be revealed yet.

This Valentine’s Day will be our 10th one together. We will find ourselves on the last full day of a week-long gay cruise with dear friends, with whom we meet up for an annual mid-winter vacation. To celebrate the day, we will treat one another to couples’ spa treatments on the ship. Following our spa treatments, we’ll enjoy the relaxation room with a bottle of champagne, and we’ve arranged with the ship’s head chef to have a gourmet vegan dinner for two at one of the ship’s specialty restaurants. Then, we will dance our way into the evening in the open air, under the moonlight at sea in the final party of the week which has a Valentine’s Day theme.

For us, Valentine’s Day is not so much about what we do, but that we do it together with the intention of celebrating the love we share for one another.




What can I say about our new assistant/honorary Shannon Danielle Legg? Well as many of you know this blog had humble beginnings as a personal blog to talk about vegan food with friends… since then there have TV spots, book deals, magazine features and all kinds of crazy awesomeness that’s brought us to nearly 100,000 readers worldwide in the just the past 2 years since we moved over from the original  But throughout all that we’ve struggled (A LOT) to keep up the literally 1,000s of emails of emails we get and media requests etc. Here enters our hero – Danielle! Now some you might know her from her animal rights activism, her work with Our Hen House or her volunteering at various Vegfests. To us she’s the woman who helps us keep this ship afloat now that we have a little Shannon, is putting together the best contest we’ve ever had (to be announced in 2 weeks!!!) and my friend who patiently listens to me dissect the motivations of the people on Vanderpump Rules.  We hope she’s the first of more Meet The Shannon employees to come but for now we’re lucky to have found such a dedicated, kind, smart and funny lady!

I’m not currently partnered, but I don’t think that means Valentine’s Day can’t be a hoot, I mean, who doesn’t love an excuse to over indulge a little? Valentine’s Day falling on a Saturday is really pretty perfect because it means being roused from my slumber by my favorite little man’s nose, jammed hard into my closed eye. There’s no sweeter alarm, though I know it doesn’t sound sweet. If it’s not his nose in my eye, it’s my cat Pekoe’s hand, her belly has a specific schedule, and I really must stick to it. Basically, Saturday mornings are for parts in my eye that don’t go there, regardless if said Saturday is a holiday. After a walk around the block with Arcot, and a stop to get coffee at Dun-Well Doughnuts, Arcot, Peke and I will watch Glee, and I’ll probably sing along. Arcot will tap his tail on the sofa, that’s how I know he loves it. Pekoe will look at me, judge me, then yawn and go back to sleep.

After all that fun, I’ll meet my friend Kaitlin at (you guessed it) Dun-Well Doughnuts, because obviously I forgot my doughnut when I grabbed my coffee. Here’s where the day gets seriously fun. Our friend Kelsey has to work, so while we wait for her day to be done, we’ll be trying our luck with the Broadway Lottery. I’ve lived here in NYC for a year now, I’ve only just now heard that such a thing exists. We’re hoping to catch If/Then, because I hear Idena Menzel’s voice a lot, and what I’d love is to NOT hear her singing “Let it Go,” not that I don’t love that song. Once you’ve won, you’ve got two hours to lollygag, and we’re definitely using it wisely, grabbing a manicure at one of the many nail salons that offers totally cruelty free Gel Manicures. After the show we’ll meet up with Kelsey and Pepper, her dog, at MooShoes, maybe I’ll gift myself the sneaks I’ve had my eye on. Then we’re off to Chipotle for dinner, you heard about their brilliant BOGO Sofritas?! I trudged through the snowpocalypse to get my Sofrita, and what better time to cash in on my free Sofrita?! Hello free dinner! You can’t have dinner without dessert, so obviously we’re all three, and Pep, heading to Blythe Anne’s, formerly Lula’s, for the best ice-cream, the ice-cream of dreams. I’ll get a brownie sundae because I don’t know how to order anything but that, and I don’t’ think I ever want to. One scoop will be Cake Batter (I’m drooling, brilliant!) the other a surprise. I’ll have to get caramel and chocolate syrup because I always do. After we’ve had our fill of ice-cream, its home to my place for the three of us to share cuddle with Arcot, Pepper, and Pekoe, and to watch Magic Mike. Yes I said it. We’re watching Magic Mike, it’s the kind of movie that you hate to watch, but… Channing Tatum… so…

Valentine’s Day this year is absolutely going to trump last years, and to be honest, I think it’ll trump a lot of my past Valentine’s Days. It’s a “Holiday” about love, and why not spend it with the people who make you smile most?! My loves Arcot and Peke, My dear friends Kaitlin, Kelsey, and sweet Pepper; I’d say they’re the ingredients for a damn fine day!


* Which we may have to read with commentary since I’m pretty sure in one she goes to a zoo but I have fond memories of these books nonetheless from my childhood.

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