Posts Tagged dining out

Nature’s Express

In all my excitement about the 31 before 31 wrap up, I forgot to tell you about my super excellent post-hike meal.  I took a picnic and snack with me on the mountain, but quickly realized when I was driving home that I was famished, almost to the point of being sick.  I decided that a giant meal at Nature’s Express in Berkeley was exactly what I needed!  I had only been to Nature’s Express once just after they opened, so it was high time I tried it again.

Apple, kale and cucumber juice.  I was hoping for a green juice with a hint of apple, but this was quite the other way around.  Still tasty and hydrating!

I chose the Mushroom Cheese Burger with the Chik-Un patty, and air-baked sweet potato fries.  They make their own ketchup and mayo, which is pretty cool.

I know this picture isn’t very appetizing, but you can trust me that the burger was great.  Oddly, I didn’t really like the first few bites, but once I got into it I was very happy.  They grilled the chik-un patty well, so that some parts were charred and a little crispy.

I was definitely full enough that I didn’t need dessert, but…vegan soft serve!  And, the flavor of the day was vanilla-almond, which is right up my alley.  The flavor and texture of this soft serve was fantastic, and the ice cream headache was well worth it.

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Mendocino Birthday

My birthday was this weekend, and I asked Dave to take me to Mendocino as my present.  We only went for one day and one night, so we didn’t have a whole lot of time to sight see, but we had a great time and ate some excellent food.  Despite living in the bay area for over two years now, I haven’t spent much time in the north bay, which is really something I should remedy!

Mendocino is a good three and a half hour drive from home, on quite possibly the windiest road I have ever driven.  By the time we arrived, we were starving.  Thanks to a timely post on Vegansaurus, I knew just where to go.  We pulled into the tiny town of Mendocino and parked right in front of The Mendocino Cafe.

I took it as a good sign that they had my favorite flower, alstroemeria, on the table.

As suggested in the Vegansaurus post, I ordered the Thai Burrito with tofu.  I thought the whole bush of cilantro on top was an interesting touch!  This didn’t taste authentically Thai per say, but maybe “California Thai”, by which I mean the blend of flavors suggested Thai food.  The inside was stuffed with onion, zucchini, red pepper, celery, brown rice, sauteed tofu and peanut sauce, and it was served with the most delicious chili sauce.  I also had a glass of malbec, because when it’s your birthday and you’re in Mendocino, you can have wine with lunch.  This was a tasty and filling lunch, and the service was very friendly, and I would definitely return to the Mendocino Cafe.

After lunch we wandered around a bit, and came across this health food store, Corners of the Mouth, which appears to inhabit what used to be a church.  The store was small, but had a good bulk section and lots of healthy staples, including plenty of vegan stuff.

I bought both powdered and flaked dulse from Mendocino Sea Vegetable Company.  I love dulse!

We settled in to Patterson’s Pub for a while to watch the end of the A’s game.

I believe this was Dave’s favorite part of the trip…

After checking in to our room and resting for a bit, we headed for the main attraction – dinner at Raven’s Restaurant.  Raven’s was the reason I chose Mendocino; it’s a fully vegan, gourmet restaurant in the Stanford Inn, about two minutes south of Mendocino.  If we could’ve afforded it, we would’ve just stayed at the inn, but…the rooms are a little pricey.

The Stanford Inn grounds have a wonderful garden, with lots of vegetables and edible flowers and other pretty plants.

giant fennel!

giant chard!

There was also a llama and two horses, which sadly I did not get close enough to pet.  I think the llama might have spit at me, anyway.

We arrived a bit early and enjoyed a local beer by the fireplace.  The restaurant is fully vegan, and not afraid to show it!  They had a host of vegan books on sale in the lobby, including some health-related books.

local wines

The Stanford Inn is very dog-friendly.  I watched this little guy while we waited for our table.

Amuse bouche (so fancy!) –  sweet rice balls with some sort of tamari sauce.  These were delicious, and tasted of charred onion in a good way.  Dave was abhorred when I ate the leaf underneath.  I’m pretty sure it was just a shiso leaf!

The wine list tells you what is vegan!  This is a very cool feature that I’ve never seen anywhere else.

I chose the Meyer Family Cellars Syrah, and liked it a lot.  I’m a sucker for a good shiraz.

Appetizer #1 – Spicy King “Crab” Roll, made of mushrooms, with spicy sauce and cucumber salad.  The bigger pieces without sauce were okay, but the pieces with spicy sauce were outstanding.  Before I went vegan, I would order veggie sushi just to have something to dip in spicy sauce, and it had been a long time since I had it!  Dave was again abhorred when I ate the little flower on the plate.  I told him they wouldn’t put anything on the plate that wasn’t edible, but I guess he’s not into the idea of eating flowers.  It tasted nice!  Tasted like you would expect a flower to taste.

Appetizer #2 – Crab(less) cake with some sort of tangy sauce, fried capers and arugula.  (The menu changes seasonally, so I don’t remember exactly what the sauce was, but it was delicious!)  There were whole oyster mushrooms in the cakes, which gave it an interesting texture.  The only small thing I would change for this dish would be to lightly dress the arugula, since it was a little dry.  Very minor complaint!

My entree – potato gratin with maple-glazed vegetables and oyster mushrooms.  Dave was flabbergasted that carrots come in a color other than orange!  Damned if I don’t know what the sauce on top of the potatoes was, but I could’ve dove into a pool of it and eaten my way out.  There was a green puree under the potatoes that you can’t really see, which was a nice counterpoint to the potatoes and sauce.

Dave’s entree – house-made ravioli with some sort of squash filling, cashew alfredo sauce, kale, leek and mushrooms.  This sauce was really amazing too!  Raven’s really knows what they’re doing with those creamy sauces.

For dessert, we chose the bananas foster, which came with house-made chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice creams.  The chocolate and strawberry ice creams were outstanding.

I would highly recommend Raven’s Restaurant.  Even Dave, who doesn’t always love vegan food, said he really enjoyed the meal, and was stuffed by the end of it.  The food was fantastic, the setting was beautiful and relaxing, and the service was impeccable.  I can only hope that some day I get to choose from the breakfast menu!  And pet the llama.

After a good night’s sleep, we headed south, stopping at The Little River Inn for brunch.

More alstroemeria!

I ordered the Vegan Rancheros, which is corn tortillas with black beans, spinach, green onion, peppers, chiles, pico de gallo and avocado.  There’s another corn tortilla under that pile of green.  This was very, very tasty, but unfortunately not as filling as I had hoped.  Regardless, I never complain about finding a vegan menu item at a non-vegan restaurant, and they had soy milk for the coffee, which is always a bonus.

I’ll leave you with a few pictures of the scenery.  By the way, I haven’t forgotten about my 31 by 31.  I’ll post a roundup soon, then get to working on 32 by 32!

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Heading To The Cabin

I haven’t heard from the second winner of the Appetite For Reduction giveaway, so I’m hoping the third time’s a charm!

The new winner is number eight, Autumn Tao.  I’ve e-mailed you!

The day after Christmas, I flew to the east coast to spend time with my family at “the cabin”.  A few years back, my parents bought a cute little cabin in Clayton, Georgia, so now they head up whenever they can, and I was happy to be able to join them as well as my brother and sister-in-law.  I didn’t anticipate when planning my trip that Atlanta and northern Georgia would experience a big snow storm beginning on Christmas day!  I’ve got lots of pictures, so I’ll try to keep the text short.

For comparison, the same tree in October.

We didnt spend much time out here on this trip!

death icicles

I was a little concerned about finding vegan food in small-town back-country northern Georgia, but my mom assured me that I would find enough to eat.  The Ingles grocery store there was pretty well stocked, and downright pleasant!  Between what my parents brought, stuff we bought and local restaurants, I was plenty well fed.

Oatmeal with bananas, Back To Nature Harvest Blend trail mix (good stuff!) and agave nectar.

cute little kitchen set up

Possibly my favorite sandwich:  hickory smoked tofurkey, hummus, mustard, pickles and mixed greens, with baked chips and my mom’s veganized ginger cookie.

We found this really delicious, locally made bread at Ingles.  It even said “vegan” on the label!

My sis-in-law had never seen snow (I know!), so upon arrival she immediately jumped out of the car and made a snow angel.

bustling downtown Clayton

bookstore kitty!

For dinner, we went to Mama G’s.  The pizza crust was confirmed as vegan, so I ordered this delicious personal pizza with broccoli, garlic, artichokes and sundried tomatoes.  It was really tasty!

my family at Mama Gs

Yay for beer that I can’t get at home!  Ingles lets you build a six pack from single bottles, so I got to try a variety.

Tofu scramble breakfast made with onion, mushrooms and what I could find at the cabin – salsa, garlic salt, mustard and dried cilantro if I remember correctly.  My parents had some for breakfast too, although my dad wanted a swipe of Miracle Whip on his 🙂

Brother and SIL in Franklin, NC

On the way back to town, we stopped at Fatz Cafe, a local chain, for lunch.  I knew there wouldn’t be much for me on the menu, but what I did end up ordering was pretty tasty.

house salad (minus cheese, bacon and croutons) with raspberry walnut vinaigrette

baked sweet potato, loaded up with salt and black pepper

We stayed in for dinner that night – spaghetti, focaccia and roasted veggies.  I started to feel under the weather this night, but I wasn’t going to miss…

Our day trip to Asheville, NC, and lunch at Laughing Seed Cafe!

Before we left, I fueled up with peanut butter and banana on cinnamon raisin toast.

While we waited for our table at Laughing Seed, we walked around and checked out some shops, my favorite of which was The Spice & Tea Exchange.

I bought little packets of ras el hanout, zahtar and spicy cocoa mix, but I wish I could have bought a lot more!

When we finally sat down at Laughing Seed, we shared two appetizers.

pakoras - tri-pepper and squash-onion

crispy wontons with delicious sesame-ginger dressing

Moms plate - roasted veggies and sauce over toast, and a salad (their menu changes seasonally and this meal isnt listed any more...)

Dads "Lumberjack" - seitan with spinach and gravy over toast, and mashed potatoes

My Havana Cuban, with vegan cheese spread instead of swiss, and carrot soup. Didnt really taste like a Cuban, but it was good!

coconut cream pie; I dont love coconut usually, but this was nice!

Vegetarian food isn’t always my family’s favorite (I’m looking at you, brother!), but everyone found something on the menu that they liked well enough.  I thought the Laughing Seed Cafe’s food was really nice, and I’d love to go back sometime.

We passed by a gingerbread house contest - Dr. Suess house!

This house had its own garden, adorable!

last breakfast at the cabin - pita with peanut butter, soy yogurt with trail mix, and coffee

We said goodbye to the cabin (and the snow) and drove down to Florida, where my parents dropped me off in Gainesville, where my friends were getting married on New Year’s Eve.  I was pretty sick with a head cold by this time, but I only had two nights in Gainesville so I tried to make the best of it!

I met my friend Jackie for lunch at Boca Fiesta, which opened up soon after I moved away and now seems to be all the rage.

herbivore menu section!

Vegan queso! You could tell that it had been thickened with flour, but the flavor was good. I dont complain about vegan queso, ever.

I got a giant burrito, salad and collards. This was so much food, but I managed somehow.

That night, my wonderful friends Janeen and Mark got married!  I won’t post many pictures for privacy’s sake, but here’s one – look how pretty!

A few of the other guests were vegan, so there was a vegan-only food table.  Sadly, not everyone got the memo, and there wasn’t much left by the time I got there!

I had some vegan drumsticks, pakoras, mac n cheese, and vegan cheese and crackers, which was plenty enough for my sick head and tummy.

The cupcakes on the table were vegan!

We held sparklers instead of throwing rice, which was only slightly terrifying.

Despite catching a death-cold that ended up lasting three weeks, and having the worst flight home ever (my ear didn’t pop on the way down from my first flight, and I had to walk around the airport basically deaf and miserable), my trip was so fantastic!  I only wish that I could have spent more time with my friends and family.

On a side note, check out xgfx.org, a new vegan and gluten free website run by three lovely ladies – Allyson of Manifest Vegan, Kittee of Cake Maker to the Stars, and Jessy, my favorite happy-faced vegan!

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The Bun Burner

First, I haven’t heard from the first winner of the Appetite For Reduction giveaway, so the new winner is…

Number 27, Squeak!  Squeak, I don’t have an e-mail address for you either, so please contact me at veganhomemade AT gmail DOT com.  I am determined to give this cookbook away!

We visited Reno again in January, and there’s not much to report except that Freeman’s Natural Hotdogs is still awesome.

A brownie – vegan AND gluten free, and a Blue Sky Free Root Beer.  I didn’t notice when I grabbed the soda out of the cooler that it was stevia-sweetened and calorie-free, so I was extra happy when I realized it.  Have to negate that brownie somehow!

Asian Slaw, which comes with housemade miso-sesame dressing.  I was surprised that the raw cabbage was tossed with the dressing just before serving, as normally I would expect the slaw to be marinated.  It worked though, the super-crunchy cabbage was really nice and the dressing was just sweet enough.

And this is the Bun Burner – vegan chorizo, jalapenos, chipotle-lime aioli and salsa, on a poppyseed bun.  This was one spicy hotdog, and I loved every bite!

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Saturdays = Donuts, and Other Delicious Foods

A few weeks before Christmas I found myself with a free Saturday, so I decided to head out to San Francisco and get in the holiday spirit by checking out Union Square.  I had a different destination in mind for my first stop though.

It was delightfully foggy that morning at the Ferry Building Farmers Market.  I spent a while walking around looking at all the amazing produce I couldn’t buy because I didn’t want to carry it around all day.

But I wasn’t there just to ogle the fennel.  I was there for donuts.  Pepple’s Donuts has a kiosk in the Ferry Building that I wouldn’t have even noticed had I not known it was there!

Trying the blueberry donut was a given, as it’s always been one of my faves.  I was stumped on what other flavor to try, so the girl working there suggested the candy cap flavor, which is actually made with mushrooms purchased from their Ferry Building neighbors, Far West Fungi.  I don’t know exactly how it works, but candy cap mushrooms are sweet – I would describe the flavor as something between caramel and maple syrup.

The blueberry flavor had flecks of blueberry in the donut, which was nice, but the blueberry flavor wasn’t quite as strong as I had hoped.  Regardless, it was delicious, as was the candy cap donut.  After two of these bad boys, I had a MAJOR sugar rush!  I headed out to Union Square to check out the holiday going-ons and do some window shopping.

Walking up to the giant Macy’s, I was looking forward to seeing their window displays, but I wasn’t sure what was going on in the window with a large crowd around it.

Kitties and puppies!  It turns out Macy’s teamed up with the SFSPCA to promote animal adoption, and you could go inside the store to see more available animals.

The volunteer outside said that so many people wanted these little guys that they were collecting names for a lottery-style drawing.

After walking around the square and trying very hard to hold onto my money, I headed to my dinner destination, in the Westfield Mall food court.

It was really awesome to see an all vegan restaurant in a busy food court!  They had some really nice looking hot dishes on their line, but I was in need of some serious fuel and decided on a sandwich.

This is The Queen Sandwich:  marinated soy protein with house caramelized sauce, vegan mayo, cucumber, cilantro and lettuce.  I also got some Thai Iced Tea, which I had never had before.  It kind of tasted like chocolate milk.  This was a good meal, but I think next time I’ll get an appetizer and a hot dish to see what Loving Hut is really all about.

A more recent Saturday started in Oakland.  Dave woke me, needing a ride from the repair shop, and his penance was to accompany me to Oakland to try brunch from the Donut Farm, Pepple’s storefront in North Oakland.

In addition to a multitude of donut choices, Donut Farm offers a tofu scramble with seasonal veggies and/or pancakes.  I really wanted to try some pancakes, but couldn’t justify getting both pancakes and a donut.

The scramble of the day had collards, eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes, scallions and probably some other things I’m forgetting.  The hash browns were a wacky orangey color, purportedly from cooking them in palm oil.  The meal came with my choice of Dave’s Killer sourdough or wheat toast, with Donut Farm’s housemade “fake butter”.  The scramble was good, and the hash browns were good, but the real show stealer here was the toast!  This was my first time trying Dave’s Killer Bread, and it lives up to the name.  If I could get this stuff anywhere near here, I’d be buying it constantly.

Of course, I got a donut too.  (I’m feeling really spoiled all of the sudden…)  This is the salted caramel flavor, a plain cake donut with caramel frosting and big flecks of salt.  Incredible!  You can definitely taste the salt, but it blends so nicely with the sweet frosting.  The donut alone is not very sweet, so it really allows the frosting to stand out.

I was attending a birthday get together later that day, which seemed like a perfect excuse to gift a box of donuts.

Chili-mango, coffee, green tea matcha, salted caramel, coconut, and a candy cap underneath.  The guy at Donut Farm commented that I was getting all the exotic flavors…why not?

After drinking some excellent rum drinks at Smuggler’s Cove, which is like Pirates of the Caribbean for grown ups (in a good way), we were ready for some dinner.  Luckily, the birthday boy had done his homework, and new that Patxi’s was in the neighborhood.

Patxi’s (pronounced Patchy’s?) will gladly use Daiya mozzarella instead of cow’s cheese at no extra cost, and while I’m sure this cell phone picture doesn’t do it justice, please believe me when I tell you that the pizza was AWESOME.  Our toppings were spinach, artichoke and olives.  The pizza was hot, the cheese was melted but not messy, and the flavor was fantastic.  I would highly recommend giving Patxi’s a try if you ever get the chance!

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VeganMoFo: Impromptu Trips – Disneyland and Reno

Scene:  late July, at a Saturday afternoon Oakland A’s game.

Dave:  “If I paid for everything, would you guys leave right now to go to Disneyland tomorrow?”

Me:  “Uh, hell yes?”

And that is how we found ourselves heading down I-5 on that Saturday night, already exhausted, with dreams of Disney dancing in our heads.  (Note – I know a lot of people don’t like Disney because they’re an evil corporation and all that, but I like Disney and I’m not apologizing for it.  I even worked at Disney World for a little while and managed not to become disenfranchised by seeing Cinderella taking a smoke break and Chip ‘n Dale walking around with their heads off.)

Dave’s sister lives near LA, so we stayed at her place, going to bed after midnight and getting up bright and early at 6AM.  We were only going to be there for one day, so we wanted to maximize our time at the parks.

This accurately reflects how we felt most of the morning.  We were excited to be there, but boy were we dragging!

I had eaten a banana and a Luna bar for breakfast, so after a few hours I had this Mickey pretzel for fuel.  I felt kinda bad about eating his face.

For lunch, we headed to the ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney, which is one of Dave’s favorite places on earth.  I ordered the portobello mushroom sandwiches, which I had confirmed on a previous visit was vegan if you take off the dressing and cheese.  I asked for a side of vinaigrette to add some flavor, and ordered fruit instead of fries, which in retrospect was a bad idea because I really could’ve used more heft to the meal.

Walking around the hotel area looking for a place to stay that night, I ran into Goofy!  Horrible picture of me, but…Goofy!

(True story:  On the way to the ESPN Zone, I was singing along to “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid, which was playing over the speakers.  Dave and Matt were laughing at me until we passed a middle-aged gentleman (not an employee or a dad) also singing along loudly, and then they laughed even harder.)

Scariest ride EVER.  When I go on the Tower of Terror I don’t scream because I’m having fun, I scream because I think I actually might die.

I became a little ill that evening, possibly from letting my blood sugar get too low and/or exhaustion, so Dave was kind enough to stand in line and get me this Vegetarian Gumbo from the stand next to the Haunted Mansion.  Truth be told, it wasn’t that great, but it was gentle on my tummy and stabilized me enough to go on a few more rides before passing out.  Sorry about the awful photo…

Verdict:  I still love Disneyland, and I’m glad that they have veggie options in the park.  From what I remember, the veggie burgers that you find around the park are vegan (ask for no butter on the bun), and I’ve heard that some ice cream shops have soy ice cream on request.  One day just isn’t enough to do everything!

Onto our last trip to Reno, which falls into the impromptu category because we had decided to go about two days prior.  As I mentioned in my last Reno post, we’ve gotten into the habit of going to Reno every few months, so this will probably be my last Reno post for a while, as there just aren’t that many vegan options there to show you.  Unless I go to Freeman’s again, which obviously would be very exciting.

We left work a little early on Friday to make the four hour drive.  After checking in, we decided on Brew Brothers for dinner.  I asked our waiter if he knew what brand their veggie burger was, or if it was house-made.  He said he didn’t know, and didn’t offer to try to find out.  Come on, guy.  I was highly irritated by this.  If you are a server and you don’t know the answer to a question regarding ingredients, at least offer to try to find out.  Maybe I’ll be nice and say never mind, but probably I am asking for a reason and would actually like to know.  I try not to be an annoying restaurant customer – I had one question, and if the veggie burger turned out not to be vegan, I had a back up plan.

Which was the veggie pizza with no cheese.  It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but it was warm and filling and perfectly spicy.

I was feeling a little spunky and indecisive about what I wanted in the beer department, so I ordered the full sampler.  It was $1 for one 4 oz sample, or $7 for all eight 4 oz samples.  That’s 32 ounces of craft beer, people!  And it came in this awesome wheel!  Don’t worry, I didn’t drink it all – I needed help to finish.  Some of their beers are really good, and some are okay but not a stand-out.  Overall, I really like Brew Brothers except for the mean waiter who won’t answer my questions.  (To be fair, we’ve had good service there before, and the waiter wasn’t that mean…but he wasn’t that nice either.)

The next morning the boys went to the buffet, and I slept in and enjoyed this hotel room breakfast.

…and then this happened.  Sports book, football and baseball lines, bloody Mary.  When in Rome…

When I couldn’t stand being inside one minute longer, I stepped onto the street to check out the Great Italian Festival, which just so happened to be going on that weekend.

The concept was pretty neat, actually.  Each booth was for a family or region, and they had big vats of hot pasta sauce.  Most booths had little slices of bread they would scoop some sauce onto for sampling.

Or, you could buy a bowl of spaghetti for them to put the sauce on.  All the sauce samples were free, which I thought was really nice considering how much festival food usually costs.

There was a grape stomping (?) contest, of which I only saw the before and after.  This guy was pitchforking grapes into the buckets in preparation for their stomping.

There were fresh artichokes, but sadly they were all going in that giant pan with sausage.

I did pick up a bellini to try, made with fresh peaches, and it was lovely.  I don’t think I had ever had a bellini before.

There was one vendor that caught my eye, pastamore.  They had a large variety of their vinegars and oils for sampling, and every single one that I tried was outstanding.  They don’t currently sell in any retail shops, but you can find their products on their website.  I bought two of their balsamic vinegars to take home.

Upon coming back inside from the festival, I was in dire need of lunch.  I headed over to the Silver Legacy food court, which has one or two veggie options, and they were closed!  In the middle of the day at 3PM!  What’s the point of a casino food court if they’re closed in the middle of the day on a Saturday???

Luckily, I’ve been to the area enough times now that I know what my other options are, because I was getting hangry.  I headed back outside and across the street to the taqueria.

Okay, so burritos don’t photograph very well, but my god do I love burritos the size of my head!

Dave and I celebrating 10:10 10/10/10.

I also celebrated winning my first sports parlay!  I turned $10 into $90.  Or rather, I recouped the money I had lost playing craps and buying vinegar.

Since I had eaten such a late, large lunch, I wasn’t hungry again till it was basically time to retire.  I went to the food court again, and AGAIN it was closed!  How is a casino food court to make any money if they’re closed at 3PM and midnight on a Saturday?  I don’t get it.

Instead, I went to Cafe Sedona, which I don’t really care for but is open 24 hours, so they win.  The only real option was the veggie burger.  The fries were pretty good and the burger came with sprouts, so it was decent for midnight eats with limited options.

We checked out relatively early the next morning and decided to take the long way home, since neither Matt nor I had ever been to Lake Tahoe.  We weren’t in a hurry, so we stopped for brunch at the Black Bear Diner.  They have a few vegetarian menu items but nothing that’s vegan without being modified, and they are happy to accept special requests.  In spite of my limited options, I really do like the Black Bear Diner.

I wasn’t in the mood for another veggie burger AT ALL since I’d just had one 10 hours prior, but it was the best full-meal option, so I went for it.  I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised when my plate arrived!  For vegan diner food in a non-vegan diner, it was good stuff.

It was a long drive to Tahoe.  A very long and sometimes scary, mountainous drive.  The first view of the lake was worth it though.

We descended to the city of Lake Tahoe, and drove around about half the lake.  Tahoe is a lovely area with plenty to see and do, and we definitely want to go back and spend some time there on one of our next trips.

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VeganMoFo: Vegan in Reno, Take Three

We’ve gotten in the habit of going to Reno every few months or so, for better or for worse.  (For the record, I do really enjoy going…but my wallet doesn’t always agree!)  We usually hunker down at Silver Legacy and don’t really leave, but during this weekend trip in July I ventured out into Reno to see what I could see.

(My first trip to Reno is documented here, and during our second trip I was on a cleanse.)

For breakfasts, I took a tip from my cleanse in March and brought smoothies, keeping them in the cooler.

The “Great International Chicken Wing Society Cookoff” happened to be going on right outside the hotel while we were there.

While I wasn’t interested in any wings for obvious reasons, I did find this roasted corn, which I sprinkled with Cajun seasoning and lime juice and ate while I walked to my next destination.

Freeman’s Natural Hot Dogs!!!  This cute little restaurant was recommended to me after my first trip to Reno, and I was finally able to make the 15 minute walk to the shop.

I ordered a regular veggie dog with chili and cheese on a sprouted wheat bun, and a Boont Amber Ale.  The hot dog was fantastic, and so worth the extra effort of leaving the casino.  They serve both veggie and regular options, so it’s a great place for mixed company.  Next time I can make it to Freeman’s I want to try one of their specialties, perhaps the Bun Burner?

On a side note, I was impressed with downtown Reno.  The casino area is kind of run down and sad, so this view was welcomed.

A weird/cute fish-shaped bike rack.

And a whitewater park right in the middle of the city!

That night, I may have played my favorite nickel slots game, Kitty Glitter!  I love how the cat on top looks at you with disdain while you play.

Also, we gave each other A’s tattoos while watching the baseball game.  This is Dave’s arm, because nobody needs to see a close-up of my pale, white shoulder!

I started the next morning with another smoothie.

And a soy latte.  Actually, I start every morning in Reno with this soy latte from the coffee shop in the hotel.

And then we decided to go to the brunch buffet before leaving town.  Luckily for me, there were more than just brunch foods available.

Plate 1:  salad, marinated mushrooms, corn salad, broccoli and fruit

Plate 2:  nopales salad, pinto beans and rice, spring rolls, stir fry and tots.  Can’t resist the tots.

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March Cleanse: Days 8 – 14

I’m more than halfway through my cleanse, and so far I’ve done pretty well.  I slipped up one time, but other than that my self-control and preparation have been good.  And, I’ve lost a few pounds!

Day 8:

water with lemon and chia seeds
breakfast juice:  sweet potato, celery, apple, chard and cinnamon
snack smoothie:  banana, pear, kiwi, udo’s oil, almond milk, hemp protein powder and Amazing Grass
lunch salad:  romaine leaves with broccoli-tahini pate from Raw Food Revolution Diet and buckwheat sprouts, two clementines


snack:  carrot sticks and hummus
dinner:  citrus-braised butternut squash and red cabbage with quinoa, chamamile tea

The broccoli-tahini was tasty, although it just kinda tasted like…broccoli and tahini.  I like the technique of pouring hot water over broccoli to “cook” it.  However, Dave said the pate smelled “like farts”, so I may or may not make it again!

Day 9:

water with lemon and chia seeds
breakfast juice:  sweet potato, celery, apple, swiss chard and ginger.  This juice combo was extremely tasty!  Also had earl grey tea.
snack smoothie:  same as day 8
lunch:  same as day 8, but with tangerines instead of clementines
snack:  same as day 8
dinner:  same as day 8, detox tea

Lots of repetition that day…Makes it easier to follow such a strict plan.

Day 10:

water with lemon and chia seeds
breakfast juice:  carrot, celery, apple and ginger, lemon tea
snack smoothie:  banana, kiwi, almond butter, almond milk and flax seed.  This was a surprisingly good combination.
lunch:  chef salad from Smart Alec’s (lettuce, cabbage, chickpeas, corn, carrot, tomato, sprouts, tofu and sesame dressing)
The salad kept me full for a while, so no afternoon snack.
For dinner, I met up with some PPK compatriots at Gracias Madre, a new vegan organic Mexican restaurant in San Francisco.  I had tangerine agua fresca (which tasted like tangerine juice without any agua), and the enchiladas mole rojo, which came with mushrooms, cashew cheese sauce, kale and refried beans.  Muy delicioso!

I got home from the restaurant pretty late, so I didn’t have time to prep much food for the next day.

Day 11:

water with lemon and chia seeds
breakfast:  I was out of good juicing ingredients, so I had fruit salad with apple, pear, oranges and flax seed
smoothie:  Mango Cogo by Columbia Gorge Organic.  There was no added sugar, but it was almost too sweet.

lunch:  raw red pepper soup with avocado and the raw sampler from Cafe Muse.  For the sampler I chose the raw sushi, miso-coconut caesar salad and pad thai,which turned out to be a salad.  The dressing was really delicious on the pad thai salad, and the whole meal was under $12 with tax, so I will definitely go back and try more next time I don’t have a lunch to bring.

snack:  romaine leaves with broccoli-tahini pate
dinner:  same as day 9, wild sweet orange tea

Day 12:

water with lemon and chia seeds
juice:  carrot, celery, romaine, red apple, green apple
snack:  two tangerines, peanut butter, lemon green tea
lunch:  massaged kale salad with balsamic vinaigrette, dried cranberries and flax seed

I sorely underestimated how much food I would need that day, so I was still hungry after this salad and I ate some tortilla chips that were in the office.  They were soooo salty!
snack:  cranberry trail mix, sweet & spicy herbal tea
dinner:  white chili with potatoes.  This soup was really good, but I want to make it again to make it even better before I post a recipe.  I also had some hibiscus flavored kombucha.

Day 13:

water with lemon and chia seeds
breakfast juice:  cucumber, carrot, apple and ginger, mango black tea
smoothie:  banana, strawberries, hemp protein, amazing grass, udo’s oil, almond milk
lunch:  massaged kale salad with balsamic vinaigrette, cranberry trail mix and nutritional yeast, two pickles

snack:  popcorn, apple juice with sparkling water
Then, I caved in and had a few beers.  I was trying really hard to exercise self-control, but we were playing music and I caved!  Alcohol does aid the creative process…just sayin’…
dinner:  white chili with potatoes

Day 14:

I woke up late this morning, plus it was the start of daylight savings, so I skipped right to my smoothie.
smoothie:  same as day 13, lemon ginger green tea
lunch:  raw sprouted chickpea hummus, carrot sticks, broccoli, asian pear, cranberry kombucha.  In case you’re wondering, asian pear and hummus go together really well.

snack:  apple with peanut butter, mango black tea
dinner:  I was planning to have more chili, but Dave came home and wanted to go out, so we had Mexican.  I ordered veggie fajitas with corn tortillas, which wasn’t too bad, but I ate too many chips and salsa, as I always do.  I can’t help myself around chips and salsa.

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March Cleanse: Days 4 – 7

I got through our weekend in Reno just fine!  I haven’t lost much weight on this cleanse so far, but between our weekend activities and the fact that I haven’t been able to exercise as much as I wanted to, I’m not surprised.  It’s been nice that I haven’t really craved coffee much, and relatively easy to forgo gluten.

Day 4:

water with lemon
breakfast juice:  cucumber, parsley, kale and green apple.  It was very green and very tasty!  I also had cinnamon black tea.

snack smoothie:  banana, kiwi, strawberries, udo’s oil, almond milk, hemp protein and amazing grass.  This is one of my favorite smoothie combinations, ever.
lunch salad:  spinach, mixed greens, arugula, chickpeas, broccoli, Organicville goddess dressing and buckwheat sprouts (added after I took the picture).  I was going to use Annie’s goddess dressing but it isn’t gluten free, so I gave the Organicville a shot.  It’s different from Annie’s but still good.

The salad didn’t really fill me up, so I ate my snack of trail mix right afterwards.  I get more hungry during, ahem, certain times of the month and forgot to bring more food on account of it.  After a few hours I caved in and grabbed an Odwalla chocolate chip peanut butter bar from a little store near my office.  It’s cleanse approved except for the dehydrated cane juice in the chocolate chips, so I didn’t feel too bad.
dinner:  same as day 3, detox tea

Day 5:

water with lemon and chia seeds
breakfast juice:  fennel, kale, carrot, celery and green apple, earl grey tea
snack smoothie:  same as day 4
lunch:  same as day 4
snack:  trail mix
We left for Reno right after work, so I brought along some food and drinks.  For dinner I had a packaged Indian meal of dal, tofu-spinach curry and rice that I had bought from Whole Foods.  It was fine, but it was cold and didn’t really satisfy me, so I caved in and got some french fries from In N’ Out Burger, where the boys were getting food.  I had a few beers after we arrived and was getting hungry again and craving something crunchy like crackers or chips.  I exercised self control though, and snacked on cucumber sticks and this Amazing Grass bar.

It was pretty good…tasted like berries.  I’m not a huge “bar” fan, especially when everythings been pulverized into one texture, but it did the trick for taking the edge off my hunger.

Day 6:

breakfast juice:  Odwalla Superfood, which was mostly fruit juice.  I also had green tea.

snack smoothie:  Amazake Hazelnut shake, naturally sweetened and very filling!

I couldn’t find a decent salad in our hotel (Silver Legacy), so for lunch I ordered tofu and vegetables with rice from the “food court”.  The veggies were nicely cooked, but there were all of three pieces of tofu.

I was full for a long time, so I didn’t eat again until dinner.  We were tossing around the idea of going to the buffet, but some of us didn’t want to pay that much so we scoped out a taqueria across the street, Los Gallos Taqueria.  The girl at the counter knew right away that their refried beans weren’t vegetarian but their whole beans were, so I got a taco (corn tortillas, beans, lettuce, guac and tomato), rice and more beans.  We also had chips with pico de gallo and spicy avocado sauce.  It was extremely tasty and filling, but I noticed after sitting down that they had a big picture of a cock fight on the wall, which made me sad.

I stayed hydrated throughout the day with this kombucha – raspberry, ginger and lemon flavored.

Day 7:

breakfast juice:  all manner of veggies.  This blend actually had some beet juice in it, which made me wary, but I drank it with no problems.  So, I think my beet juice issue last week was maybe because it was so MUCH beet juice in one glass.

The boys wanted to get breakfast before we left for home, and I was getting hungry so I ordered some oatmeal with sliced banana, and drank some pekoe tea.  That only held me for a few hours before I wanted solid food again, and the best I could find on the road was a burrito bowl from Chipotle with rice, beans, salsa, guacamole and hot sauce.  I enjoyed an Odwalla Red Rhapsody smoothie during the rest of the car ride, and also munched on a Jocolat mint chocolate bar.

dinner:  After arriving home I wasn’t very hungry, but I knew I needed to eat some form of dinner so I had some carrot stucks, hummus and a pickle.

Then suddenly, just before bed I became ravenous and the best thing I could find in the pantry was some oil-free popcorn, so that was my snack along with detox tea.

And today, I’m back to my raw veggie and sprout eating ways!  I didn’t look too hard for vegan options in Reno since I brought some of my own food, but I did notice a veggie burger on three separate menus, so maybe Reno is coming along a little in the veggie-food department.

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Merry Christmas!

My Christmas tree

…and my parent’s Christmas tree.

Happy Holidays!  I  traveled from California to Florida a few days ago visit my family.  I have a two week break from both work and school, and it has been so nice to completely relax.

On my first first full day here, Christmas Eve, I went to Gainesville to have lunch with some friends.  We chose Reggae Shack, as they had recently expanded the restaurant.  It’s so good!  Their menu specifically states that all their vegetarian items and sides are vegan.  I ordered way too much food, starting with the Veggie Patty and Festivals.  (Sorry for the horrible quality – I forgot my camera and used my phone instead.)

The veggie patty was good but not nearly the best thing I’ve had there, it was kind of like a hot pocket with a seasoned seitan filling.  The crust was quite sturdy.  The festivals, on the other hand, are always amazing.  They’re fried sweet corn dough goodness, with a hint of coconut milk.

My entree choice was the “vegan steak”.

It doesn’t look like much in this picture, but the vegan steak is so good!  It’s seitan in a sweet and spicy sauce, served with rice and peas, cabbage and plantains.  I’m sure their other veggie entrees are all really good too, but I almost always go for this one.

We also went to Ward’s (my favorite Gainesville grocery store) and Gator Beverage (my favorite Gainesville beer store) and hung out at the dog park for a while.  I was quite the nice time.

We kept Christmas Eve dinner simple, as we were heading out the door for church.  My mom made baked spaghetti, with a separate one for me including some FYH cheddar she had bought.

Mom was planning a breakfast casserole for Christmas morning for the rest of the family with very non-vegan ingredients, so she found this recipe on vegweb for a vegan overnight breakfast casserole and bought the ingredients for it.  I added tofu and tempeh bacon to the layers for more substance.

Mom also made vegan pumpkin muffins!  She’s the best.  The casserole turned out fine – it was certainly edible.  I’d like to make it again sometime, tweaking the ingredients and pumping up the flavor.

The rest of Christmas Day was spent opening presents and playing with the Wii my brother and his fiancee got.  I am abnormally sore today from too much  Wii’ing.

Today, we had our extended family Christmas gathering and made a feast.  I handled the veggie items while mom cookied the ham, bread and pie.

Roasted potatoes.

Green Bean Casserole

 

Stuffing from an organic mix

Fresh butter beans with greens from my friend Janeen’s garden

Mom’s beer bread

Mom’s gigantic apple pie

I hope everyone else had a great holiday!  My plans for my last few days here are lunch with high school friends, possible shopping, probably more Wii and definitely as much relaxation as possible.

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