The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Join Other Veggie Families on The Vegetarian Resource Group’s Online Yahoo Parent’s Group

Posted on January 22, 2015 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

KID Are you or someone you know raising a vegetarian or vegan child? If so, you may want to join a network of parents interested in exchanging ideas on various vegetarian/vegan topics including: finding a vegan summer camp, vegan dining options at theme parks, what can I pack in my child’s lunchbox, how have you and your child dealt with the dissection issue in school, can you recommend a veggie-friendly pediatrician or dietitian, is there a veggie children’s group in my area, etc.

For more information on this online Yahoo Group see:


Posted on January 21, 2015 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

For those of us who are experiencing cold winter months right now, warm beverages are a must early in the morning. Below are two hot drinks you can prepare quickly in your microwave. These recipe are from Vegan Microwave Cookbook, by Chef Nancy Berkoff. You can purchase this creative cookbook from The Vegetarian Resource Group here:

Cinnamon Hot Chocolate
(Serves 4)

1 quart soy or rice milk
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate powder (about 4 Tablespoons)
¼ cup organic sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Place all the ingredients in a 2-quart container or bowl and stir.
Microwave on HIGH for 5 minutes or until hot. Stir and serve.

Mowcow Tea
(Serves 3)

1 teaspoon orange juice concentrate
½ teaspoon organic sugar
2 Tablespoons instant tea (powdered)
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups water

In a small cup mix together all the ingredients except the water.
Stir well to combine and set aside.
Place water in a large container or 2-quart casserole and boil. (This should take 3-4 minutes, depending on your microwave.)
Stir tea mixture into water until well blended. Pour into individual cups.


Posted on January 21, 2015 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Our friends at Field Roast have created a parody of a fast food commercial. Enjoy!


Posted on January 20, 2015 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Join for 2 years and receive a FREE copy of Vegans Know How to Party!


Vegans Know How to Party is a 384-page book that teaches you how to put on a soiree for vegans and all who enjoy great food! It features over 465 recipes including appetizers, soups, salads, ethnic cuisine, sandwiches, and — of course — desserts like pies, cakes, and cookies! Also has color photos.

Are You Looking for a Senior Independent or Assisted Living Establishment that is Veg-Friendly?

Posted on January 20, 2015 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Below is a new addition to our ongoing list for Vegetarian and Vegan Options in Senior Independent Living, Assisted Living, Nursing Home, and Other Senior Facilities.

To see the complete list for establishment throughout the USA visit:

Kaur Ashram Assisted Living, LLC
4538 North 183rd Ave.
Goodyear, AZ 85395
248-310-6052 (cell)

Assisted Living.
Strictly vegetarian and vegan facility. Can provide raw food diet as needed.
Facility is non-smoking. Located in very serene environment with mountain view, gated community. Semi private and private rooms available. Can accommodate 10 or less residents, with high quality compassionate care.
Please call and arrange facility tour.

New Vegan Restaurants Added to VRG’s Online Restaurant Guide

Posted on January 16, 2015 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

The Vegetarian Resource Group has an online guide to veggie restaurants in the USA and Canada on their website. To view the full guide, see:

Below are some recent vegan restaurant additions.

Apura Juicery & Coffeehouse
22191 Powerline Rd.
Boca Raton, FL 33433
Apura’s name comes from the Greek philosophy of eating unprocessed foods for a sharp mind and healthy body. This plant-based café successfully does this through their use of organic fruits and vegetables while pressing their juice and raw ingredients in their homemade cuisine. Their motto “made with intention” is evident in every product, hand crafted and fresh for each customer. They offer a wide variety of juices like Pear Mojito, cold brewed coffees with unique flavors like Banana Walnut, and plant-based food like their Spinach and Vegan Goat Cheese Salad. Dine in or choose from a variety of take out options!

The Blissful Juice
715 N Fern Creek Ave. Ste D
Orlando, FL 32803
This eclectic café and juice bar offers a raw twist on vegan favorites like falafel, veggie wraps, pasta, and soups. The juices and smoothies are made from organic and local fruits and vegetables. They seek to inspire others to be more conscious about where their food comes from and how it is grown. They implement these same ideals when making their raw vegan cuisine. The Blissful Juice also serves desserts like chocolate chip cookies and truffles.

DF Mavens
113 2nd Ave.
New York, NY 10016
Located near the corner of 2nd Ave and St. Marks Place, DF Mavens features a wide variety of dairy free ice creams. Their specialty flavors are either soy, coconut, or almond based. Choices include Key Lime Creme, Shot of Java, or the more classic Madagascar Vanilla Bean. Many gluten free items available. Also on the menu are various juices, sweets, and baked goods. Enjoy any of the grab-and-go items, or sit back and relax with hot soup.

Green Elephant Juicery
150 East Beaver Creek Blvd.
Avon, CO 81620
616 West Lionshead Circle
Vail, Co 81657
This organic juice bar offers cold pressed juices, smoothies, and vegan organic food including Kale Avocado Salad, Quinoa Bowl, Collard Enchilada Wrap, soups, and oatmeal.

Khan’s Desserts
733 Porter Rd.
Nashville, TN 37206
Khan’s Desserts is a bakery that offers a breakfast and lunch menu, as well as a juice bar. Their products do not contain any animal products, artificial flavors and coloring or bleached flour. On the dessert menu, you will find several yummy treats like cakes, cookies, and brownies. One item on the menu that you should try is the cactus burrito. It is prepared with black beans, poblano peppers, cactus, avocado, mixed greens, salsa, cashew cheese, and seitan chorizo on a whole wheat wrap.

Porter House
1321 Dundas St. West
Toronto, ON M6J 1X8 Canada
Located in Little Portugal. Porter House features a wide variety of vegan beer, wine, and pub food. Be sure to try a plate of the Beer Battered Potato Dumplings (with beer gravy). Or go for some of the main dishes like the Quinoa Polenta or the BBQ Jackfruit Sandwich. Note that the kitchen closes at 11 pm, but drinks are available until 2 am. Outdoor seating available.

“Vegan Menu for People with Diabetes” is live in the Kindle Store

Posted on January 15, 2015 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Vegan Menu for People with Diabetes, by Registered Dietitian and Chef Nancy Berkoff, EdD, RD and published by The Vegetarian Resource Group is now available in the Kindle Store.

This book includes:

  • Exchanges and their equivalents
  • List of “free” foods
  • Four-week vegan meal plan
  • Exchange listings for meat substitutes, soymilk, soy ice cream, and other vegan foods
  • Menus which require less preparation time on working days than on weekends

You’ll also find recipes such as:

  • Asian Noodle Bowl
  • Better than Beef Stew
  • Lentil Stew
  • Creamy Carrot Soup
  • Gazpacho
  • Tangy Tofu Salad
  • Baked Beans Quesadillas
  • Pasta in Paradise
  • Vegan French Toast and Pancakes

To purchase the Kindle version of Vegan Menu for People with Diabetes see:
You can also purchase the print version of this book here:

Cultured Dextrose: Dairy-Derived?

Posted on January 14, 2015 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

By Jeanne Yacoubo, MS

A long-time VRG volunteer recently asked us about an online discussion he had been following related to Glutenfreeda Foods’® Gluten-free Vegetarian Dairy Free Burrito™ and specifically the cultured dextrose listed on its ingredient label. There was a question whether the burrito could be correctly labeled “dairy free” if the cultured dextrose was sourced from a dairy-derived bacterial culture.

Here is the ingredient statement of Glutenfreeda Foods’ Gluten-free Vegetarian Dairy Free Burrito:

Gluten-free flour tortilla (white corn masa flour and a trace of lime, water, pregelatinized rice flour, potato flour, high oleic safflower oil, corn starch, xanthan gum and cultured dextrose), refried beans (beans, water, canola oil, salt), rice, salsa (tomatoes, tomato juice, (water, tomato concentrate, salt, vitamin C), onions, bell peppers, peppers, parsley, garlic, cilantro, apple cider vinegar, spices, sea salt, herbs), tofu (water, soybeans, calcium sulfate), GMO free corn, garlic salt (garlic, salt, garlic oil)(Source).

The VRG contacted GlutenFreeda Foods in October 2014 and spoke with the quality manager about the cultured dextrose in their burrito. We were told that the cultured dextrose in their burrito “…is a sugar-based food, produced through natural fermentation of traditional starter cultures.”

When we asked for further clarification we learned that cultured dextrose is “not sugar, not a sweetener; it increases shelf life [as a] natural preservative.”

In fact, companies interested in a “clean” label using only “natural” ingredients prefer cultured dextrose as an antimicrobial produced by bacterial fermentation over its chemically synthesized counterparts such as potassium sorbate or sodium benzoate derived from petrochemicals. More information on this subject can be found here:

In response to our questions, follow-up discussions with GlutenFreeda Foods revealed that their cultured dextrose supplier had responded with this information:

“Corn is the fermented sugar source in our cultured dextrose. The starter culture has not been derived from a dairy culture. No animal-derived enzymes are used in the production of our cultured dextrose.”

GlutenFreeda’s quality manager also told The VRG that:

“The product description states ‘Maltodextrin is used in the formulation of this product and has been tested and results show that no genetically modified DNA was detected. All other formulation ingredients are non-GMO. This product is kosher pareve. ‘”

(Notes: For interested readers, the Orthodox Union (OU) a leading kosher certification agency notes on its website that

“’Pareve’ means that the food is ‘neutral,’ [containing] neither dairy nor meat…Only a truly kosher pareve classification can guarantee that absolutely no dairy ingredients, no dairy residue and no contact with dairy equipment were used in preparation of the food designated as OU pareve.”

As commercially produced today maltodextrin is a corn-derived ingredient which may be used as a powder carrier, bulking agent, sweetener or texturizer in foods and beverages.) (For example, see:

Starter Cultures

While researching this topic, The VRG contacted DuPont®-Danisco® and Mezzoni Foods® manufacturers of cultured dextrose and Gillco Ingredients® a cultured dextrose distributor.

A quality supervisor at DuPont returned our call in December 2014 and told us that “there are several cultured dextrose MicroGARD™ lines, some from dextrose*, some from milk, and some from both.” She said that although “Microgard” would probably not appear on a food product label, she “…can’t advise clients how to label products but we declare all allergens to customers.” For example, if a milk product were in the cultured dextrose, it would be labeled as containing milk before it left the manufacturing plant. It would then be the responsibility of the purchasing food or beverage company to declare it on the final product’s label.

The VRG asked the DuPont quality supervisor if the starter cultures for the cultured dextrose were originally from dairy sources. She stated that cultures historically could be dairy-derived but “are not taken directly from milk today” to produce the cultured dextrose. For more information on Microgard see: Readers may note from this page that Danisco describes some of its cultured dextrose as “cultured skim milk-based” but other forms do not have this designation.

A microbiologist from Mezzoni Foods also said that “originally the starter cultures used to make cultured dextrose were derived from milk” but today many bacterial generations later they are not considered to be dairy-derived (Source).

Gillco Ingredients a cultured dextrose distributor described Microgard products as having two lines: cultured dextrose made with no dairy starter cultures and one made with skim milk. “Dairy is more expensive so not used as often…a label would read ‘cultured skim milk.’ If non-dairy cultured dextrose were in a product the label would read ‘cultured dextrose’”(Source).


Dupont told us that dextrose “is mostly derived from corn.” Mezzoni Foods and Gillco Ingredients stated that dextrose could be made from cane sugar, but they did not know if any companies were using cane sugar to make dextrose, especially when inexpensive and plentiful corn was available.

For more ingredient information see:

To support VRG research, donate at

Or join at:

The contents of this posting, our website and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.


Posted on January 14, 2015 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

A note from Izzy Pezzulo, a 2014 VRG Scholarship winner:

I’ll never forget how the VRG Scholarship continues to change my life.
I’m now attending the University of Richmond, where I’m currently rocking
the vegan lifestyle and looking to promote it by baking my peers vegan
cookies, and potentially starting a vegetarian society on campus.
Without VRG, all of this might not have been possible, and I am truly
grateful. Over the holiday I’ve had time to reflect on the parts of my
life that are so influential to who I am today. I owe VRG a huge thanks
for making me successful in my switch to veganism, and now my education
as well.


To see Izzy’s past work, go to:

Deadline for the 2015 scholarship contest is February 20, 2015. For
details, go to:

If you would like to apply for a needs based paid internship, go to:

If you would like to donate towards scholarships, internships, or other
VRG outreach, go to:

Morningstar Farms Issued an Allergy Alert and Voluntary, Precautionary Recall of Spicy Black Bean Burgers and Chipotle Black Bean Burgers in The U.S. due to Undeclared Peanut Allergen

Posted on January 13, 2015 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

MorningStar Farms was notified by a third party supplier that one of the spice ingredients used in Spicy Black Bean Burgers and Chipotle Black Bean Burgers may inadvertently contain peanut, an allergen that is not declared on the products’ ingredient statements.


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