We’re back in the vegan kitchen with Jenni Kayne and rip+tan! Just in time for Labor Day, we decided to team up with sisters Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg who, together, are Spork Foods, Hollywood’s most popular vegan cooking duo (Emily and Zooey Deschanel are big fans). The sisters showed us how to easily create a spread of vegan lunch recipes worthy of any kind of weekend gathering – the ‘queso’ dip alone will have vegans and non-vegans alike doing some double-dipping!

Gathering once again inside Jenni Kayne’s lovely kitchen, guests such as edible gardener Laurie Kranz, Leanne Citrone and (Guest Editor past) Shiva Rose followed along with the sisters through the ins-and-outs of five vegan recipes – including one of the best sangrias we’ve ever tasted! In signature Spork style, Jenny and Heather had us convinced both that vegan meals are far easier than they seem and that they are truly worth the effort! Get the recipes below, plus the coleslaw and sangria recipes here!

Here are a few tips from the girls who are walking encyclopedias of vegan-friendly knowledge! Get more vegan tips from Spork Online where you’ll find their online cookbook and information on their upcoming Hollywood cooking classes!

Heather on Coconuts: Coconuts contain a healthy type of fatty acid that your body quickly burns for energy, and can boost thyroid function to increase metabolism and endurance.  A cool fact: because they are so buoyant, they can travel great distances on the currents of the ocean, eventually taking root in sandy soil.

Jenny on Kombu: If using canned beans, be sure to buy Eden Foods cans, which contain kombu, an edible kelp that extracts the gasses out of the beans.  If boiling your own, do so with a piece of kombu.

Heather on Vanilla: This wonderfully flavorful bean actually comes from an Orchid native to Mexico!

Love to style hunt these kinds of stories? So do we! Here are the details: ceramic plates and bowls by Heath Ceramics, flower arrangements by Moon Canyon Design, Jenny’s outdoor table by Estee Stanley, table runners from Creative Women, glasses and pitchers from Acme Party Box Company.

Cheesy Queso Dip with Chips
Serves 4-6


3 cloves roasted garlic *directions below
1 1/4 cup cashews
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbsp non-hydrogenated buttery spread (Earth Balance)
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1 fresh jalapeño, seeded and finely diced
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp finely ground cumin 
1 can organic black beans, drained and rinsed (Eden brand)
1 organic tomato, seeded and diced
1/2 cup shredded vegan Mexican Style cheese (GO Veggie! Brand)
1 small bag organic corn tortilla chips


Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

To roast garlic, place bulb, with top sliced off, in a heat proof ramekin with a dash of high-heat oil. Roast for about 30 minutes until cloves are soft. Set aside.

In a large blender, blend cashews and almond milk to create a smooth cashew crème. Set aside.

Heat a large pot over medium heat and add buttery spread, onion, 3 cloves mashed roasted garlic and jalapeño. Cook for about 3 minutes to soften onion. 

Add cashew cream, nutritional yeast, lime juice. Stir until uniform.  

Add sea salt, pepper, cumin, black beans, and tomato and cook for about 5 more minutes over medium heat. Add shredded vegan cheese. If too thick, add 1/2 cup almond milk.  

Cook for an additional minute, or until creamy and smooth. Remove from heat. Serve warm with tortilla chips. 

© Spork Foods, 2012

Baja Battered Avocado Tacos
Yields 8 tacos


1/2 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour blend (Pure Pantry)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne powder
1/2 tsp dried minced onion
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup, plus 2 Tbsp, almond milk or soymilk
2 tsp neutral-tasting oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 large Hass avocado
3 Tbsp high-heat oil, for cooking (refined coconut preferred)

8 organic corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups finely shredded green or purple cabbage, (1/4 head cabbage)
1 tomato, diced

Lime Crema Topping:
1 Tbsp lime juice, plus zest of 1/2 lime
1/3 cup original soy yogurt (Original Whole Soy, not unsweetened)
1/3 cup reduced-fat vegan mayonnaise (Veganaise)
Dash sea salt and finely ground black pepper


In a large bowl, add gluten-free flour, baking powder, sea salt, garlic powder, chili powder, minced onion, cumin, almond or soymilk, 2 tsp oil, and lemon juice. Whisk until uniform. Set aside.

Pre-heat a small sauté pan over medium-high heat and add 3 Tbsp oil.  

Slice avocado in half, and divide into 8 pieces. Dip sliced avocado into batter. Add battered avocado to pan and cook for about 3 minutes per side, until golden. 

Meanwhile in a mixing bowl, combine lime juice, zest, yogurt, mayonnaise, sea salt and pepper in a bowl, and set aside. 

Heat tortillas on a warm skillet until pliable. Fill with 1 piece battered avocado and garnish with shredded cabbage, diced tomatoes, and lime crema. Serve immediately. 

© Spork Foods, 2012

Vanilla Bean Coconut Rice Pudding
Serves 4-6


1 cup short grain organic arborio rice, plus 2 cups water
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 cinnamon sticks
2 slices lemon peel, 1-inch thick
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 cans (14 oz) organic coconut milk
1/2 cup organic evaporated cane sugar
dash sea salt
1/4 cup raisins or currants (optional)

2 Tbsp cinnamon sugar, for topping


Add water to a large pot and bring to a simmer. Add rice and stir gently. Add vanilla bean, cinnamon sticks, lemon peel and ground cloves to rice. Cook at a simmer over low heat until rice is tender and liquid is almost absorbed, about 12-15 minutes. 

Stir in coconut milk, organic cane sugar, sea salt, and raisins (if using). Cook for an additional 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently.  

Remove from heat and place in small glasses or cups. Top with cinnamon sugar. Serve warm or chilled. 

© Spork Foods, 2010

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