It’s been a long time … Since I left you …

Without a dope treat to step to, step to step to…

Okay dear readers: I think MIA is an understatement re: my blogging. Woof.

These are the cliff notes of why …

I went to culinary school! Not just any culinary school, but my dream of all dream culinary school: The Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in New York Citaaaaay!!!

Mi Escuela

My Chef’s Training Program! Holllahhhhh!

Rigorous, time consuming (like I never imagined or experienced), amazing, informative, incredibly difficult (I think I finally get why they call New York the City That Never Sleeps … because no one ever sleeps), inspiring, so much fun, eye-opening, my life teacher and soon to be one of my greatest accomplishments. That alone could not even come close to summing up my experience/ongoing journey not only at the Chef’s Training Program, but in taking the risk of  moving to New York, living alone , having no friends or family in a foreign city, and somehow making my way through these past eight months a more grown-up, capable, educated, and dare I say worldly vegan girlfriend ….. and in a month, a CHEF!!!!

My program is ending in May and I PROMISE I will be back. Expect a huge revamp times 235.75 (I’m great at math) plus better than ever nutritional info, recipes and health insights I truly believe in. Wow have my beliefs changed. I have learned SOOOOO much and I can’t wait to share it all with you fantastic readers!

For now keep checking back, subscribe, and don’t mind the rando adds some creepster (who somehow high jacked my website) continues to post on my blog. Trust me, all to be remedied ASAP.

While all of you kind and patient readers wait for your brand spankin’ new, vastly more informed, utterly more delicious cookin’ and generally badass vegan girlfriend, here’s some embarrassing pics (and more importantly food I’ve made), to hopefully give you a sense of what my sad but wonderful bloggie absence has been like:)

 

Chef Vegan GF, in Full Force

my thuper sexy uniform

Tempeh Piccata

Tempeh Piccata

BBQ Tofu Skewers

BBQ Tofu Skewers

Sea palm salad - beyond gorgeous, I know (modest horn sound now)

Sea palm salad – beyond gorgeous, I know (modest horn sound now). But sea veggies are my new obsession … posts on posts on that in May:)

Composed Beet Salad

Composed Beet Salad

COOKIES!!!!

COOKIES!!!!

Kabocha Tiramisu with candied pistachios

Kabocha Pumpkin Napoleon, Candied Orange Peel, Green Tea Pistachios. Un-Effing-Real.

Cake day .. bahhhh

Cake day .. nuff’ said

308735_10151118617282172_267563083_n

Anything on a skewer, pop or the like I die for. DIE! Fruit, coconut balls, micro greens and wittle sticks (YESSS)

Chocolate cake (vegan of course) ... guess I took a lot of pictures of dessert week, whoops

Chocolate cake (vegan of course) … guess I took a lot of pictures of dessert week. Typical.

I ain't know challah back girl (snap)

I ain’t know challah back girl (but, um, I am)

?

Carrots, kale, Chickpeas and Veggie Tart .. OH MY!

Cooking Indian spiced coconut curried green beans a la minute (made to order) for 110 people

And finally … Here I am cooking Indian spiced coconut curried green beans, a la minute (that’s a shamcy way of saying “made to order”) for 110 people! I’m a BOSS!

Can’t wait to blog on the reg again!!!

Until then …

vegan wishes and gluten-free dreams

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

Lemonade

OMGGGGGGGGGGG guys I just discovered the  SPOT for vegan and vegetarian lunches on le Westside. I actually “discovered” it a while ago but have never made my way to eat there until lunch last week. LA peeps you are prob up on this more than me, but Lemonade on Abbot Kinney (which also has locations in Brentwood, West Hollywood, Pasadena, Downtown, and more) is like a veggie-lovers utopia. Not to mention their lemonade is best I’ve ever had good. If you haven’t been, go. If you have been, go again. BEST LUNCH SPOT EVERRRRRRRRRRRR.

 

Lemonade

1661 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90291
Neighborhood: Venice

(310) 452-6200

Hours: Mon-Sun 11 am – 9 pm

Corner of Venice and Abbot Kinney - LEMONADE!

Recently renovated and newly furnished, Lemonade is a great place to grab a quick and supah healthy bite if you happen to be on the artsy Abbot Kinney street on the Westside of Los Angeles.

A cafeteria deli style atmosphere with an interior design that says industrial meets yellow, Lemonade is great for lunch and great for families and youngsters alike.

The dining area when you enter (there are two)

Super casual but still nice enough to not feel like you are in an actual cafeteria (gross), Lemonade is a warm, cute, colorful and happiness inducing spot due to the sheer color scheme alone.

There's my mom walking to dining area number two, and where all the ordering action happens. PS - look at the sunflowers!:)

FYI, steer clear of going to Lemonade for romantic diners or a business meeting as the acoustics makes it noisy during the lunch and dinner rush. Def more of a to-go place or casual mid-day food spot with friends.

Dining area number two!

In the tradition of M Cafe or Native Foods, Lemonade has an order at the counter type deal, but takes it a step further as you get your food before you pay. Chic Cafeteria Chow Down. Into it.

Mom waiting in line ... hehehehe.

You can order from their menu, which features veggie friendly soups, salads, sandwiches, braises (yes vegetable braise with rice!), and plenty of meat options for your omnivorous friends. o
You can also choose to pick from their Marketplace selection of pre-made veggies, grains, and the like in their “salad bar/deli case” section, which I decided to do. You can get a portion of three or that same portion, with each selection half sized – so six small portions from the deli case in one order. If you know ho much I love little tastes of everything than you KNOW this is my jammer jam.

So pretty!

This is my ideal version of window shopping, legit. A healthy, colorful medley of vegetable and salad dishes are here for you to oogle and ready to be devoured by guests who pick the most tempting ones. Oh, and you can even taste-test them before deciding what you gon’ order – Vegan Girlfriend heaven!
There are definitely more vegetarian options than vegan ones, as a lot of their selections include some sort of cheese, but on my visit there were at least 8 100% vegan options in the deli case, not to mention the salads you can easily all make vegan as well.

Salad station

Lemonade is becoming known for their delectable salads: Watermelon Radish, Tomato Avocado, Kale Mushroom, Quinoa Pumpkin with Truffle Oil—all fantastic! And rumor has it Lemonade has the world’s best truffle mac and cheese, period.

Truffle Mac - if you are vegetarian, order this, bam.

In the drink department, Lemonade has a plethora of uniquely flavored lemonades, which they will be happy to let you sample as well. Eeeeeeeee, happiest little vegan girlfriend evah!

Lemonade menu - they all looked so good!

I tried the blueberry mint, watermelon rosemary and blood orange: all three 10/10 incred.

lemonades

I settled on the blueberry mint, which was out of this world bananas incredible. Def a MUST ORDER.
In the dessert world, Lemonade also has mad game, but sadly only for vegetarians and not vegans.

Dessert case ... droooooool (but get some vegan options yo!)

They offer bars, cookies, cakes, cupcakes, macaroons and more.
For gluten-free vegetarians, their macaroons are totally gf and safe to be devoured with no worries of wheat rearing its ugly head.

Gluten-free macaroons

 If you are more a carb over sugar kinda gal or guy, they have a huge selection of freshly baked breads as well.

Carboholics - it's on

After a bunch of tasting of salads, grains and lemonades alike, I finally settled on my order, paid and took my food to go!

Lunch!

The Venice location is a know Lemonade favorite, and I can absolutely see why. The staff is kind, super knowledgable about vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free options, they care about the food they are serving, and are very passionate about providing exceptional “beyond the call of duty” service. Not to mention, it actually seems like they LOVE what they do and LOVE working there. Yellow sunshine lemonade all around.

I left to rush home to devour my awesome meal but not before I snuck a huge sip of my obscenely amazing Blueberry Lemonade!

Your Vegan GF - in all her lemonade glory

 

As soon as my mom and I got home we ripped into our lunches, trying and trading the crazy good abundant veggies we got.

 

Lunch for 2!

 

My favorites were the red quinoa, the broccoli and the brussel sprouts. All of which are MUST ORDERS. Everything was good though so you really can’t go wrong espec when you can try before you buy!

 

 

Lemonade is now my new fav lunch spot evah, and I cannot wait to go back. For omnis, flexis, veggies, and vegans alike, Lemonade provides healthy, affordable, fresh, and crazy delicious food made with love. BEYOND OBSESSED. Today, I see an arnold palmer in my future:)

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

Hugo’s Tacos

Yo yo yo! It’s taco time! Finding good vegan Mexican food in LA can sadly be a challenge, but have no fear Hugo’s is here!

One way to taco town...

Last week I went to Hugo’s Tacos in Studio City for the first time ever (whaaaa?!), which is an off-shoot of the Hugo’s Restaurant you all know I LOVEEEEEEEEE and am currently obsessed with the ridic donk Happy Hour they got going on. I went to Hugo’s Tacos for the vegan Mexican food, but left with my newly deemed spot for THE BEST VEGAN FROYO IN LA hands-down, period amen, praise soft serve.

Hugo’s Tacos

4749 Coldwater Canyon
Studio City, CA 91604

(818) 762-7771

Hours: Mon-Sun 10 am – 10 pm

 

Taco time!

Hugo’s Tacos, a small taco stand located right off the freeway in Studio City, and a block away from Hugo’s Restaurant, is kinda hard to spot, but once you do, delight in the amble parking provided in their lot.

I’m sure it will come as no shock that I went with my blog’s co-star Bess, and we eagerly reviewed our options to share and indulge in for a late lunch with our lovely mamas.

menu!

Much like Hugo’s Restaurant, Hugo’s Tacos has clearly labeled vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options on their menu, making life a million times easier for those of us who don’t eat meat, dairy, eggs, gluten or all of the above!

 

 

We got in line (supah short for 1:30 pm on a Thursday) and ordered at the window from the friendly staff working behind the counter.

We decided on a taco, a burrito, a tostada, a quesadilla and lots and lots of their delicious freshly baked chips! But not before we made a pact to get all of the dessert options, since rumor had it Hugo’s soft-serve froyo is the epitome of vegan froyo done right.

YOU'RE MIIIIIIINEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

Within legit 5 minutes our food arrived piping hot  and demanding me to devour its vegan veggie goodness.

 

I first tried the taco I ordered, a vegan and gluten-free version I opted to get both grilled veggies and soy chorizo on.

) ( [Can be Gluten-Free] ) Soft or crispy shell (I got soft). Served with onions & cilantro, choice of salsa. Choice of Mixed veggies or Soy Chorizo (I got both)”]When you order a taco there is a choice of sauce that you get on the taco itself, and OF COURSE I chose my obsession, Hugo’s Honey Chipotle Sauce I’ve obsessively raved about in previous posts.  Compared to the rest of the bombness that would come, this taco was my least fav item, BUT a good taco none the less. Loved the veggies, loved the fresh and hot corn tortilla, and loved the always outstanding daiya cheese.

 

Next I tried the veggie quesadilla.

) Choice of filling, flour tortilla. Choice of filling, flour tortilla with Oaxaca cheese (can be subbed for daiya). Choice of salsa on the side. Choice of filling: I got Mixed veggies”]This quesadilla was BOMB!!!!! First let me say how pleased I was with the very generous helping of guac cause these dillas dipped in ’em are whole notha level good. I loved the mixed veggies in this and LOVE the soft warm flour tortilla the cheese grilled veggie medley came in. Tortillas make or break a taco/quesadilla game, and Hugo’s nailed it.

 

I tried Bess’ main order the tostada.

) ( [Can be Gluten-Free] ) Choice of filling, choice of salsa on two crispy corn tortillas with organic white beans, lettuce, Cotija cheese (or sub for daiya), guacamole. Choice of mixed veggies or soy chorizo.”]This was basically a better version (because it was fried, obviously and more substantial version of my taco. All mixed up this was almost like the most amazing nacho experience ever, since each bite had the crispiness of the corn tortillas and all the beans, lettuce, cheese, guac and veggies mixed in. Def a thumbs up… a big one.

My last main I tasted was the burrito …. and it was without a doubt my favorite of all four things we ordered.

) ( [Can be Vegetarian] ) Choice of filling, onions & cilantro, choice of salsa, flour tortilla with organic Spanish rice, organic white beans. Enchilada style $1.37 extra. Choice of Mixed veggies or Soy Chorizo”]OMG was this good. The Spanish rice and white beans were whole notha level amazing and made this monster wrap stand out significantly from the other entrees we ordered. Since all Mexican food is basically the same stuff in a different shell (ie: corn or flour tortilla fried or not and cut and grilled a certain way) finding variation can be, well, difficult at best. But when you throw in options like daiya, soy chorizo and some off the best rice and beans on this earth, you know you’re in for a treat. This is an absolute MUST ORDER and next time, you bet yo bottom dollah I will be getting it enchilada style. Mmmmmmmm.

 

Let it be noted that Hugo’s Tacos also has some of the best freshly baked chips I have ever tasted.

Chips and more chips

I was so excited about these chips, in fact, I demanded my picture taken with them.

YVG the chip crusader

Warning, don’t fill up on chips pre-meal cause when chips are as good as these (and free!) you probably will.

 

Now here is when the delightful meal took a turn for the BEST. Dessert time. Now I’m not a huge dessert person, def like savory over sweet, but I ave heard about Hugo’s Tacos legendary vegan froyo for years and could not wait to try it myself. There are only two dessert menu items, so naturally, got em both.

Let’s save the best for last shall we?

 

I tried their vegan rice pudding (I love rice pudding!) which came in a little plastic pre-packed “to-go” box. Ripped the top off and in my mouth it went.

[Vegetarian] [Gluten-Free] – Organic basmati rice, Saigon cinnamon, Tahitian vanilla, organic cane sugar, organic rice milk and organic soy milk."]”]This was good but not amazing. I liked the cinnamony vanilla combo a play here, but it wasn’t “pudding-y” enough for my particular rice pud preference. If you like a less “custard” like rice pudding though, I’m sure this will be your jam.

 

And now ladies and gentleman, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…. I present to you, Hugo’s Tacos’ vegan frozen yogurt!!!!!!!!!

Frozato – [Vegan] [Vegetarian] [Gluten-Free] Deliciously creamy, house-made, non-dairy soft serve-like frozen dessert. Cup or cone; chocolate, vanilla or swirl. (Contains nuts & soy)

The game has just been changed my friend. THE ENTIRE FROZEN YOGURT GAME. Not only is this by far and away the best vegan froyo I have ever tasted (chocolate is def the winning flavor of the two if they had to battle it out in the ring celebrity death match style) but the BEST FROZEN YOGURT PERIOD I have ever tasted. Better than any yogurtland, menchie’s self-serve bs we all love (or hate). I don’t know what else to say other than this frozen yogurt will change your life. You could cure cancer, stop global warming, make out with Ryan Gosling, and win the lottery all on the same day, and this would still be better. THAT GOOD.

Is yogurt/human marriage legal in the South? If so, bye ya'll!

Clearly this is a MUST MUST MUST ORDER and you should make the trip no matter where you live just for this.

 

So in love with everything about my Hugo’s Taco experience and hope to be continuously awed by the Hugo’s franchise. I would come back and get the burrito the froyo (obvi and maybe try the salsa burger since they offer a vegan cheesed up version of that dope sounding offering too.

 

Hugo’s Tacos, thanks for existing, thanks for the dope vegan and gluten-free options, and thanks for the insane insatiability for chocolate frozato you have forever instilled in me. Love you honey (chipotle) boo boo.

 

 

xoox

Your Veganish/Vegetarian Girlfriend (better?):)

A Very Vegan Valentine’s Day

Ahhhh Valentine’s. A time for flowers. A time for chocolates. A time for Hallmark to make a killing in its sappy card sales. And if you’re single, a time for listening to David Grey, eating an entire pint of ice cream and crying yourself to sleep (just me?).

 

For those of you looking to incorporate a fantastic V-day feast into your February 14th festivities, look no further. Because I love you all so much, I complied a list of the best vegan dinner offerings in the LA area so you and your honey can get down with love, vegan style.

 

Real Food Daily will be offering a four-course prix fixe menu from 5 pm to 10 pm, for $65 a person, that includes several options in each course.

This is my personal pick, but let’s explore some more.

Shojin is also offering a special V-day schedule starting tonight, and lasting all the way to the 14th. The schedule is:
Friday, 10th 5:30pm – 12am
Saturday, 11th 12pm – 12am
Sunday, 12th 12pm – 10pm
Monday, 13th 3pm – 10pm (Course menu ONLY)
Valentine’s Day, 14th 3pm – 10pm (Course menu ONLY)

The V-day specials for Fri – Sun are:

And the prix fixe four course menu for the 13th and 14th is:

Another option is at Sun Cafe, where they are offering both raw and cooked prix fixe menu on the 14th from 5:30 – 11:00 pm.

 

5-Course, 11-Item Valentine’s Day Dinner for 2

SunCafe is offering both a Raw & Vegan Prix Fixe Menu – Both are Gluten-Free and live guitar entertainment will be rovided which will surely add some romantic ambiance to your inevitably amazing V-day meal. Price per couple, $109, and individual meals are $60.

Raw Menu
Amuse Bouche + Elixir – Herbed-Rolled Truffled Cashew Cheese on Flax Cracker
Strawberry Kombucha Martini
Sushi + Salad – Triple Sushi Sampler, Micro Greens & Jicama Slaw with Orange Ginger-Miso Dressing
Soup + Tea – Cucumber Gazpacho w/heirloom tomatoes and yellow peppers
Raw Pear-Juice infused SunTea
Entrée – Savory Eggplant “Roulade” – thin-sliced eggplant rolled with marinated portobello mushrooms, truffled cashew ricotta, dehydrated onion strings, creamy sun-dried tomato puree, sweet kale crisps, herb-infused virgin olive oil, with “stir-fry” seasonal vegetables
Dessert Sampler – Strawberry Four-Ways
Strawberry Hand-Dipped in Raw Chocolate
Tart of Raw Dark Chocolate Mousse & Fresh-sliced strawberry
Bite of Chocolate Cookie Dough Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce
Raw Strawberry Shake Shooter
Non-strawberry option available

Cooked Vegan – Prix Fixe Menu
Amuse Bouche + Elixir – Chia Seed Faux Caviar,Crème Fraîche on Blini Crepe
Strawberry Kombucha Martini
Sushi + Salad – Triple Sushi Sampler, Micro Greens & Jicama Slaw with Orange Ginger-Miso Dressing
Soup + Tea – Creamy Roasted Butternut Squash, herb-infused olive oil drizzle, sun-dried tomato puree, with roasted spicy pepitas
Raw Pear-Juice infused SunTea
Entrée – Pecan & Mushroom Crusted Tofu, roasted portobello mushrooms, garlic cauliflower puree, sautéed asparagus, truffle oil, port wine vegetable au jus, micro greens & pomegranate, sweet kale crisps
Dessert Sampler – Strawberry Four-Ways
Strawberry Hand-Dipped in Raw Chocolate
Tart of Raw Dark Chocolate Mousse & Fresh-sliced strawberry
Bite of Chocolate Cookie Dough Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce
Raw Strawberry Shake Shooter
Non-strawberry option available

 

Sounds so yum!

 

Inn Of The Seventh Ray (which I have never been to but am DYING to and have heard AMAZING things about … ps: any male suitors free on Tuesday? You’ll pay.) is offering a regular and vegan/vegetarian prix fixe menu for $90 a person with an optional wine pairing for an extra $40. If I had money to burn I would make this my pick in a hot second.

Another pricey but sure to be mind-blowing option is at Madeleine Bistro, one of the best vegan restaurants in LA (Tarzana actually, so I rarely go, but when I have it’s been like best thing I’ve ever had good). Madeleine’s is offering a Valentine’s Day Chef’s Tasting Menu Tuesday, February 14, 2012, for $125 a person.

 

MENU:

“Looking through a glass onion…” – “Butter”-poached white asparagus, truffled kaesespaetzle, green herb pudding

Creamy sorrel soup – Wild mushroom fricassee, red pepper espuma, frizzled leeks

Heirloom beet salad – Asian pear, walnut brittle, wild arugula, smoked cashew cheese coulis, beet watercolors

Pan-seared portobella “scallops” – Artichokes barigoule, caramelized garlic, sun-dried tomato tapenade

Korean barbecue-style seitan “short ribs” – Braised pistachios and their puree, sunchoke rosti, pickled Tokyo turnips

Tuesday night ice creme social… – White chocolate-raspberry swirl, butterfinger crunch, bananas foster, blood orange-pomegranate sorbet “Savoy Truffle”

“Creme tangerine and montelimar, a ginger sling with a pineapple heart…”

 

CHRIST I think this is the only time in my life I wished I lived in Tarzana. I’d roll solo, that’s how good this sounds, and Chef David is one of the best in the city. (Official Madeleine Bistro post coming soon).

 

Akasha has a Vegetarian prix fixe menu for $60 a person, BUT will make a completely vegan menu for you upon request! Obviously do this in advance, but here is the one with the vegetarian options.

Valentine’s Day
Tuesday, February 14th, 2012
Prix Fixe

** = vegetarian

amuse bouche
cros­tini / goat cheese / pre­served fig / truf­fle honey **

starters – choose one
hamachi crudo
blood orange / avo­cado / bali sea salt

saf­fron risotto
lob­ster but­ter / shrimp / scallops

red leaf let­tuce & dates **
mid­night moon sheep cheese / red walnuts

main – choose one
niman ranch NY strip steak
aspara­gus / chanterelle & wild mush­rooms / roque­fort & cognac butter

tan­doori lamb chops
spinach puree / egg­plant with tomato masala / raita

mar­ket fish / blood orange gas­trique
cau­li­flower & candy striped beet puree / pea tendrils

wild mush­room & sheep ricotta ravi­oli **
spelt pasta / ore­gon truffles

sup­ple­ments
grilled baby broc­coli / meyer lemon / chile flakes / parme­san 9 **
but­ter­nut squash gratin / goat cheese / leeks / hazel­nuts 10
cur­ried cau­li­flower / greek yogurt raita 9 **
grilled cole­man farms radic­chio / pro­sciutto / bur­rata / pome­gran­ate vine­gar 12

dessert — choose one
chocolate-hazelnut creme brûlée / bis­cotti **
flour­less trif­fle / pas­sion fruit curd / pud­will berries / vanilla bean whipped cream **
dark choco­late tart / dark cherry sauce / rose scented whipped cream **

choco­late truf­fles for the table **

Vegan Menu & Dessert Available by Request

Seed Bistro is also offering an amazing looking six-course prix fixe menu for $65 a person
Here’s a peak at some of the items on this very special V-day menu!

Faux foie gras, blackberries preserve, sourdough crostini

Seitan bourguignon stew, twice baked potato fries

 

And those are my picks. I will continue to update until D-day, I mean V-day, with any new options.

 

In addition M Cafe is offering some special Valentine’s Day Sweets from now until the 14th if you feel like taking home some sugar bombs to drown your single sorrows (again, just me?)

These limited time only sweets include Chocolate Petit Fours, Linzer Cookies, Strawberry Shortcake, Sacher Valentine Torte, and whole cakes are also available. Make sure to order 24 hours in advance.

 

Hope everyone has a very happy February 14th, single, coupled, or otherwise! Any excuse to eat a delicious multiple course meal made by some of the best vegan chefs in LA makes this a holiday one to remember:)

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

 

 

Vegan Buffalo Wings!!!! Now at The Veggie Grill.

This week is/was midterms (in class now … whoops) which gave me a free pass to eat out every single night for dinner. Getting sick of the WFM hot bar, I decided to treat myself to one of my all time favorite vegan restaurants, The Veggie Grill! I’ve always been a HUGE Veggie Grill fan, and have seriously tried almost everything on their menu, but this week my super-fandom went to an all time high. I hit VG up for dinner THREE DAYS IN A ROW … maybe gonna have to change my name to “Your Veggie Girlfriend” (hint hint):)

 

During my first trip (of the 3) to my beloved burger, fries and kale mecca, in Santa Monica, I spotted a sign for The Veggie Grill’s new  vegan buffalo wings:

Obviously I knew what I was ordering for dinner (and then some).

And as a side note may I just say that the staff at ALL of The Veggie Grill locations, but especially the one in Santa Monica, are simply delightful. They all seem so happy to be doing their job, are so knowledgeable and sweet, and make me feel like my food is actually being made with happiness and vegan love.

 

Ok so now on to de winggggs.

Chill Out Wings/Buffalo Wings - Chillin' Chickin' tossed in our house-made Buffalo sauce and served with our new creamy ranch dressing ... $6.25

I don’t know if I was more excited to try those incredible looking bright orange buffalo wings or dip them in their brand new ranch!!!!

Survey says? Ding ding ding! Vegans, we have a winner! These wings are hella spicy, like super duper spicy, so spice whimps beware! However, once dipped in the cooling ranch dressing, the hot kick to creamy cool ratio is in blissful harmony and even spice-a-phobes will be able to handle the heat.  The wings themselves are made out of soy, pea and wheat protein, so sadly they are not gluten-free. (I wonder if they could ever make these with tempeh … hmmmm …. at home experiment?) The wings tasted lightly battered and fried, which gave a nice crispy contrast to the heavy helping of buffalo sauce the strips were smothered in. And the ranch, ohhh the ranch. The Veggie Grill just does dips and dressings better than any other restaurant on this planet, and this ranch added to their crazy good arsenal of such saucy supernovas.

Dip Dip, Hooray!

If you like spicy and you like buffalo sauce and you consequently love buffalo wings (or hopefully, used to) than RUN on over to the closest VG and order this app pronto. This is the perfect “watching sports and drinking beer” kinda thing to pick up for a Sunday. TWO THUMBS UP!

 

Along with these wings I had….

DINNER - wings, all hail kale salad, sweet heart fries, tortilla soup and an INSANE amount of chipotle mayo (not pictured)

 

To quickly speak on the rest of this meal, it was euphoric. Kale salad is the best in town, sweet potato fries are always crispy and perfectly seasonsed (and when dipped heavily in my boyfriend, chipotle mayo, you might just have a mouth-gasm), the tortilla soup of the day was BOMB and then, I couldn’t breathe I was so full. FML or LML?

 

The Veggie Grill continues to be one of my all time favorite vegan restaurants and plain ole’ restaurants in general in LA. Never have I ever had anything I have not been obsessed with. With locations all over LA (Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Farmer’s Market, and more) there is absolutely no reason every single Angeleno should not hit this magical spot up. Peace, Love, and Chipotle Mayo.

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

 

 

 

Cutie Pie That – Customizable Mini Pies that will change your life

I’m not what you would call a pie person. During Thanksgiving I always avoided the pie buffet and went straight for the ice cream (or let’s be real more sweet potatoes). Pumpkin aint so bad but I would never order it on a menu.  As you may remember, fruit in general is not my jam, but fruit in pies makes me think of a Fear Factor eating  experience (force me to eat a traditional cherry pie and watch the panick attack rapidly commence). In short, pie just aint my thing.

 

This all changed yesterday when I tasted the pies from Cutie Pie That, a LA based micro-bakery specializing in individual sized four-inch pies you can custom order to fit any dietary preference.  Believe when I say, these aren’t your grandma’s pies (though not knocking mee-maws cause they are rad).  With organic and locally grown ingredients, rotating seasonal flavors, and of course vegan and gluten-free options, these are the perfect delight for a party of one.

All of Cutie Pie That’s pies are hand baked by avid home baker turned professional Tonya Dooley, and she doesn’t stop there.  She also offers Lolli-pies (because cake pops are so 2011) and even Muttloaf Paw Pies for the beloved doggie in your life. Umm, okay, my obsession and my hunger overload is seriously at an all time high.

 

This morning I got an order of three different pies delivered to my house by the lovely Lara who works for Cutie Pie That. I got two-gluten-free, vegan pies, and one vegan but not gluten free pie to sample.

Freshly baked pies delivered right to my door!

 

The flavors were Nutty Winter Apple, Vegan Strawberry Lemonade (gf), and Sweet Vegan Strawberry (gf).

 

Nutty Apple Pie, Strawberry Lemonade Pie, Sweet Strawberry Pie

Well Cutie Pie That!, you have officially turned my pie game upside-down. I don’t even know how to put into words how obsessed I am with every single flavor of Cutie Pie pies I ate this evening – maybe – CERTIFIABLE SUPER FAN. Too much? (Picture YVGF with Cutie Pie face-paint and a pig cutie pie thumb on at a pie bowl … just do it!)

The Nutty Apple flavor, which was vegan but not gluten-free, was better than any other apple dessert I have ever tasted. (Cause weirdly, sometimes I get a craving for apple crisp mainly for the topping but, anyways, this is 1000000 times better).

Nutty Winter Apple Pie (vegan)

This pie straight up shocked me. Like I said before, fruit in pies give me the willies, and I normally do not enjoy apples in any form, be it baked, raw, candied, chipped or otherwise. However, this apple pie was, not only the best apple pie I’ve ever tasted in my LIFE, but pretty much converted me into a flag waving fruit in de pie lover. (What are you trying to do with my brain here CPT????? I thought I knew myself!!!) The apples were so tender and eerily orchard fresh, as if I (or I guess the chef) had picked each apple from some fantasy garden where apple picking actually exists and then fresh cider is made all day, and then instantly used it to make this pie and delivered it to me all in the same few hours … basically the freshness was unprecedented. The apples were also seasoned impeccably (no nutmeg YESSSSSS) and had the perfect mix of cinnamony goodness and sweet apple compote to round off the dreamy filling. The different nuts adorning the top of the pie brought the flawless amount of crunch and richness to what I know deem, the epitome of apple pie. MUST ORDERRRRRR, obviously.

 

The next pie I tasted was the Vegan and Gluten-Free Strawberry Lemonade Pie.

Strawberry Lemonade Pie (vegan & gluten-free)

OMFGFGFGFGFG!!!!!!!!!! I was expecting this to be my least fav since strawberry lemonade makes me think of gross Crystal Light, but WOW was I dead wrong. Not only was this pie my favorite of the three, I would encourage lemon and strawberry haters to try it because it could and would change your minds about not only fruit but life. The gluten-free crust was better than ANY gluten-free baked good I have ever tasted; I legit would just eat that alone as a dessert and be good to go. The pie filling itself tasted exactly like the ripest, juiciest and freshest strawberries were picked (again from a magical vegan fairy garden), and then carefully muddled with equally as seasonal, tart, and refreshing, freshly squeezed lemonade and then immediately put into my mouth.

A. Have you ever heard of a more inventive pie flavor?

B. Have you ever seen a prettier, more perfect Valentines Day/bachelorette/bday/Gigi or her beast of an owner from the Real Housewives of Beverly Hill’s celebratory dinner/TGI-Sunny, present in your life?

And

C. HOLY SWEET GODS OF VEGAN GLORY YUM OH YUM OH YUM. If I could start a shrine for this pie I would. I need to stop writing about it now cause I’m boderlining creepy (per usu), but seriously YOU MUST ORDER THIS NOW. MUST MUST MUST MUST ORDERRRRRRRRRRRR. Bucket list good. Thanks.

 

The last pie I tried (tear, Girlfriend want more pie rarrrrrr), was the Gluten-Free Sweet Vegan Strawberry Pie.

Vegan Sweet Strawberry Pie (vegan & gluten-free)

This pie was obviously amazing too. The strawberries were so, again, fresh to death, and the sweetness of the pie was a great contrast to the tartness of the Strawberry Lemonade one.  For a “fruit stand alone” pie I think this was the tops, but plain plain fruit pies are still not my order of choice, so I would personally go with one of the other two. If you do like fruit pies, on the other hand, than surely there is no better embodiment of a fruit pie done right than this baby right hurrr. Fresh, juicy, sweet, with a buttery cookie-like crust to die for. So.Im.Pressed.

Cutie Pie That! has truly made brilliant and unique artisanal pies that are perfect for us Angelenos: we all fancy ourselves foodies who crave true comfort food but want something more elegant and imaginative.  These pies, that look rustic, yet feel so chic and modern, clearly fit the bill.


All of Cutie Pie That’s pies are hand baked by avid home baker turned professional Tonya Dooley, and she doesn’t stop there.  She also offers Lolli-pies (because cake pops are so 2011) and even Muttloaf Paw Pies for the beloved doggie in your life. Umm, okay, my obsession and my hunger overload is seriously at an all time high.

HERE IS HOW TO GET YO HANDS ON THESE RIDIC DONK PIES!
Cutie Pie That! can currently be found at three Los Angeles area farmers markets:  Sierra Madre Farmers Market on Wednesdays, La Canada Flintridge Farmers Market on Saturdays and Larchmont Village Farmers Market on Sundays (the only one of these I even no how to find on a map).  They’re also available at Café Livre et Le Marche in Culver City. BUT for those interested in vegan and gluten-free versions you gotta custom order.

Yes, sadly, at present Tonya isn’t offering vegan pies in her market selections, but she does make them all the time for custom orders big and small!  And, of course, this may change if their popularity grows, so get on it people!!!

ALSO:

Tonya will deliver a pie order of $25 or more free of charge in the LA area. SO basically no need to change out of your Forever Lazy and Tonya will also bring custom orders to the markets on advance order so like done and done.

Even better, personal deliveries can be made in the Los Angeles area. Cost will be determined at time of order based on exact location and day/time needed. Many of our pies can be shipped anywhere in the U.S. – and boy oh boy are these the perfect way to say “I Love You.”

So basically you have a million and one options to get these mind-blowingly-delicious, unique, vegan and gluten-free (or not) pies.

Cutie Pie That! has completely turned my pie game upside-down and, pie lover or not, yours will be too.

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

 

Alternative Baking Company – regular, wheat-free, and gluten-free cookies to DIE FOR

I’ve been a fan of Alternative Baking Company‘s crazy delicious vegan cookies since time immemorial, but since going gluten-free, my love affair came to a tearful halt.  That was until last week when I discovered Alternative’s brand new wheat-free snicker doodle cookie.

Snicker Doodle (yeesh I need a manicure)

Although this is not entirely gluten-free, I don’t have an issue with the barley flour it contains, so for me this is the ish, but def take note if you are full celiac.

Nutritional Info

This cookie is not what I would call a health food, but for a treat, it doesn’t get much better than this. The cafe next to my school sells these which is a very very dangerous discovery. Somebody stop me.

 

And for those of you who don’t have any issues with wheat, Alternative Baking Company’s classic cookies made with wheat flour are stooopid good. My favorite flavors are peanut butter persuasion and outrageous oatmeal raisin.

Peanut Butter Persuasian

Outrageous Oatmeal Raisin

 

Although I haven’t seen these in stores yet, Alternative also apparently makes three new gluten-free flavors: fudge indulgence, lemon dream, and pumpkin delight. Holy yum.

Fudge Indulgence

Lemon Dream

Pumpkin Delight

Regardless of your flour preference, all of these cookies are sweetened with fruit juice and organic unrefined cane sugar, and contain zero dairy, eggs, hydrogenated oils, or artificial ingredients. Supah huge win.

 

You can find these cookies at pretty much every WFM and health food store, but you can also purchase them from their website.

 

Vegan cookie heaven ovah here. Get down on it.

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

Bossa Nova

I have midterms week coming up which means locking myself in my room all weekend to get work done. FML. On Saturday night, I peeled myself away from studying just long enough to glance at the clock.  It was around 9 pm and I hadn’t eaten dinner yet (I did manage to down an entire bag of veggie chips in the previous hours but that doesn’t count), so I turned to grubhub to get something delivered ASAP. I wasn’t in the mood for vegan Thai, or Italian, so I decided to go with Bossa Nova, that appeared to have some great veggie friendly options. I have eaten at Bossa Nova in West Hollywood before and remember being a little underwhelmed but decided to roll the dice cause I had a hankering for rice and beans.

 

Bossa Nova Brazilian Cusinie

10982 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Neighborhood: West Los Angeles

(310) 441-0404

I’ve never actually eaten at this location so I can’t comment on the dining experience at the actual restaurant, so let’s just move on to the food.
I ordered what I thought was a normal amount for dinner, but it turned out to be a full on veggie feast.

Dinner for one

I got the vegetable platter, which comes with seasonal vegetables, white rice, salsa, yucca flour, a side of black beans and with the choice of fries or plantains. I couldn’t decide so I got both. Typical. I also ordered a side salad to try to offset the fried fiesta I intended on consuming. Keepin’ it healthy guys.

 

The veggie platter itself was just okay.

Steamed Vegetable Platter - Seasonal vegetables marinated in Brazilian herbs and spices. Served with your choice of side (I chose Rice, Black Beans, Salsa, Yucca Flour, and French Fries).

The veggies themselves were super underseasoned, but after a healthy dosing of Himalayan salt, not so bad. The salsa was super yummy and tasted great mixed in with the rice and veggies. I wasn’t really sure what to do with the yucca flour though, so I tried dipping the broccoli in it. I still don’t know if I liked it or not, but it wasn’t a repeat performance. I was mostly just puzzled. I think it was good? Sometimes food is weird like that. The rice was fine, nothing spec but tasty when mixed with the black beans.

Black beans

The beans were also just okay. Good but not amazing. I prefer the black beans at Versailles.

The french fries were supah good, but sadly a little cold due to delivery time I’m sure.

French Fries

I love french fries, so this part of the meal was clearly a win. They actually cooked them pretty perfectly too, which is surprisingly a rarity in this city. French fries are never a bad call.

The plantains were by far the best part of the meal.

Plantains

These were perfection! I love me some good plantains and these golden brown caramelized bananas satisfied both sweet and savory taste cravings. This is the only must order of the bunch.

 

The salad was meh too and I was a little disappointed the “mixed greens” turned out to be mostly iceberg lettuce.

Side salad

Not much else to say here.

 

I don’t think I will be eating at/ordering from Bossa Nova again anytime soon, but I do appreciate the veggie options and late night delivery (til 2 am!). I think it’s a good bet if you want something delivered post 10 pm and don’t feel like calling 1-800-Dominoes. Plantains could be worth the delivery fee.

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

Enjoy Life Chewy Bars!

I’ve been helping my dear friend Marjan switch to a gluten-free diet after her doctor told her gluten containing items were negatively effecting her hormone levels. I’ve told her all about the best gluten-free cereal, my favorite gluten-free products and my all time favorite gluten-free indulgence I concocted, and that all my recipes are gluten-free! I know, I’m the best. But today Marj one upped me by turning me on to my new obsession: Enjoy Life‘s vegan and gluten-free Chewy Bars. At school around the 11:00 am mark I hit a wall, and needed a pre-lunch nosh like woah. After eating my standard freezer-sized bag full of gluten-free cereal I was still pretty hangry, and luckily Marj was sitting next to me and pulled out this incredible vegan snack bar I had no idea existed!

Enjoy Life Carmel Apple Chewy Bars

After carefully reading the nutrition facts (like a good Jew/veggie loving/gluten-free/generally neurotic girlfriend should) I stuffed an inappropriate sized bite into my mouth and was instantly amazed.

The goods

Guys, this bar is shockingly delicious, and at only 120 calories and 7 g a sugar a serving, I may have just found my new go-to for a mid-morning pick me up. The crisp apple flavor hit me instantly (it actually kind of reminded me of apple cinnamon instant oatmeal, yummm) and the texture was amazingly cohesive and chewy as so many gluten-free products fail to achieve.  The caramel flavor was more subtle, but I loved that. It was sweet, but not too sweet, and extremely natural, simple, and carby tasting, which I am always am a huge fan of. The carby-er the better. I had to sit on my hands to keep from stealing the rest of the bar…

 

After school I raced over to Whole Foods to stock up on the Chewy Bars to have at home, and to try the three other vegan and gluten-free flavors Enjoy Life offers.

All four flavors of the Enjoy Life Chewy Bars in Very Berry, Carmel Apple, Sunbutter Crunch and Cocoa Loco.

Although I haven’t gotten around to tasting the other flavors yet (and when I do I will report back ASAP) I have a feeling they all will be equally as delish as the one I ate this morning. The Sunbutter Crunch variety is definitely next on my list to destroy (y’all know how much I love sunbutter).

Here today, in my mouth tomorrow.

Not only are all of the Enjoy Life Chewy Bars completely allergen free (wheat, gluten, nut, soy, dairy, lactose, and casein), they are crazy delicious, healthy, and come in the perfect portion controlled 1 oz size! Thus far, I have loved every Enjoy Life product I have tried (oh hi chocolate chips), but I think I just found my new Enjoy Life favorite:) Now there’s no excuse to eat any gluten, dairy or egg containing snack/energy bar again! (FYI: Clif, Luna, Kashi, ThinkThin, Zone, South Beach, Atkins, Power Bars and even some KIND bars all have non-vegan or non-gluten-free ingredients, and in most cases, both).

I already packed my lunch for school tomorrow (don’t judge me) and you better believe I have some Chewy Bars in my little brown bag:) Can’t wait to try the other flavors!

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

 

Hugo’s Brand New In-Ter-Mis-Sion Happy Hour Menu

You all know my intense love of Hugo’s Restaurant and all of their amazing vegan and gluten-free options. Well Hugo’s just added a brand new Happy Hour menu with almost exclusively vegan items and it is absolutely insane!!!!

I was lucky enough to get to taste every single item on the new In-Ter-Mis-Sion Menu, and boy oh boy do we all have something to get happy about!

Boasting an impressive list of appetizers and cocktails none of which is priced over $5, Hugo’s has recently begun rolling out their “In-ter-mis-sion Menu” from 4 pm to 7pm M-F at their West Hollywood location and from 3 to 6pm in their newer Agoura Hills location. After last night I am officially declaring this THE BEST VEGAN HAPPY HOUR IN ALL OF LA. Bam!

Let’s go down the list item by item so we can talk about just how good every single thing was!

 

Asian Spring Rolls (vegan and gluten-free)

Asian Spring Rolls (vegan, gluten-free) - Vietnamese style spring rolls with dipping sauce

These light and healthy spring rolls were so fresh, crisp and delicious. The rolls were filled with sunflower sprouts, carrots, cucumbers, avocado, kelp noodles and fresh herbs and served with a mild sesame-chili dipping sauce. The sauce was stooooopid good and gave this tasty Asian inspired finger food the perfect kick.

 

Mac & Cheese (vegetarian and vegan option, both gluten-free)

Mac and Cheese (traditional or vegan) - Fusili pasta with 4 cheese or vegan cheese sauce

We ordered the vegan option and it came with garlic, sliced mushrooms and sweet peas in a creamy cashew and sunflower cheese sauce all topped with crispy fried onions. I loved the crispy onions on top! What a wonderful addition to this veganized classic comfort dish. The cheese sauce was creamy and just perfect with the peas and mushrooms mixed in with the gluten-free pasta!

 

Green Tamales (vegan and vegetarian option, gluten-free)

Green Tamales - infused with spinach on a bed of tomatillo salsa topped with an avocado-tomato salsa (and a dab of sour cream if you get the vegetarian version).

These are a Hugo’s classic and one of my favorite starters on their regular menu. I love that they are now offered for 5 bucks! The sauce is everything a verde sauce should be. This is one of the heartier options on the Happy Hour menu, so if you are feeling hungrier this is a great pick.

 

Los Nachos Con Queso (vegan and gluten-free)

Los Nachos Con Queso - Crispy corn tortilla chips over a bed of tomato-chipotle black beans, zesty vegan queso sauce, pico de gallo, diced grilled green chilies, avocado and chopped cilantro.

I’ve raved about these nachos before and enjoyed them just as much as ever.  Chef Nabor’s nacho cheese sauce is off the hook amazing and the beans are just phenomenal.  I love these nachos and so does everyone who tastes them.

 

Hugo’s Sliders (vegetarian and vegan option) – Veggie ball sliders on wheat rolls topped with choice of mozzarella or vegan cheese. Select one sauce as a topping from these great options: Honey Chipotle, Sweet & Spicy BBQ Sauce, Marinara Sauce, Tikka Masala & Cilantro Mint Chutney

Hugo's Sliders - Veggie ball sliders on wheat rolls topped with Sweet & Spicy BBQ Sauce and vegan cheese

Hugo's Sliders - Veggie ball sliders on wheat rolls topped with Tikka Masala & Cilantro Mint Chutney and vegan cheese

Hugo's Sliders - Veggie ball sliders on wheat rolls topped with Honey Chipotle Sauce and vegan cheese

Sorry for not snapping a pic of the marinara but I think you get the idea!

Since wheat bread isn’t my jam I only ate the inside of each slider, but each one was seriously better than the next. The marinara tasted like an amazing vegan version of chick-un parmesan, the sweet bbq sauce was finker lickin’ good and made me feel like I was having southern style “ribs”, the tikka masala was very different and the chutney added a tangy and refreshing contrast, and the HONEY CHIPOTLE, ohhhhhhhh the honey chipotle. I legit order this straight up and eat it plain, take shots of it while my friends look on in horror, and get it to go to eat on legit anything and everything in my room… err I mean kitchen. Clearly the sliders with the Honey Chipotle sauce was my fav, but BBQ and Marinara tied for a close second. These are such a fun happy hour mini burgers and would be a great vegan app for watching a game with an ice cold beer. (Oh hi Super Bowl).

 

Flatbread Pizzas (vegan and vegetarian option, gluten-free)

These incredible gluten-free pizzas are made with either mozzarella or daiya cheese (the best!) and come in two different varieties, Mung Beans and Rice with Pesto Drizzle and Italian Vegetable.

Mung Beans and Rice with Pesto Drizzle Flat Bread Pizza - topped with vegan cheese

This was BY FAR my fav item of the night! It is so inventive and an absolute MUST ORDER!!!!!

Hugo’s makes the most delicious organic mung beans and basmati rice they cook slowly in a blend of vegetables, herbs and spices. The gluten-free flat bread it came on was like the best thin pizza crust I have ever had. It was crispy, buttery, crunchy, and cooked lightly to perfection, providing the ultimate base for the rest of the toppings. If you want to be WOWED by a dish, get this. It’s a huge portion, incredibly original, vegan, gluten-free, and only 5 dollars. Pretty sure that spells amazing.

Italian Vegetable Flat Bread Pizza - Marinara, Tomatoes, Artichokes, Red Peppers, Spinach, Onions and Basil topped with vegan cheese

This pizza was also great. I loved the variety of veggie toppings and it was nice to have traditional marinara sauce on this pizza in contrast to the sauceless mung bean option. For some reason the crust was a little soggy of this one though. I think the amazing crispy and buttery flat bread gets saturated really fast, so just something to be aware of. Solution: eat this right away! Regardless of over sauce-uation, this was super tasty, huge and bursting with flavor.

 

The cocktail menu, which features Cosmos, Margs, Martinis, Mojitos and Well Drinks in a variety of flavors, are all 5 dollars Monday – Friday as well. So one app and one drink costs you max 10 bucks. Basically it’s the best deal ever.

I just had water but Bess had the Mango Marg and loved it.

Mango Margarita

 

I can’t rave enough about legit EVERY SINGLE ITEM on Hugo’s new Happy Hour menu. I absolutely LOVED everything on the In-Ter-Mis-Sion menu, but with that gluten-free and vegan mung bean and rice situation for only 5 bucks, I might need to make gettin’ happy a daily endeavor.

 

Hugo’s be more awesome (oh wait you can’t).

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

 

Imagine Soups – my vegan go to in this “winter” season

I haven’t cooked in ages. (I’m sorry I’m not sorry). I actually miss it so much and hopefully will be able to make some time this week to whip up at least a homemade salad, but it’s been nice to grab something quick or order in during the week and then go out for fun dinners with my girlfriends on the weekends. It gives me something to look forward to and there have been many an exciting vegan dish at some crazy good non-vegan restaurants I will post about soon!

 

I have a crazy intense course load this quarter and that means weekdays have been spent studying rather than cooking awesome meals. My weekday meals usually include trips to the Whole Foods hot bar, Amy’s Frozen Dinners, and most recently, lots of Imagine brand soups.

Imagine makes crazy delicious creamy tasting vegan soups that you can eat right out of the box or spruce up with some of your favorite toppings or veggies.

 

Recently, I’ve been loving Imagine’s Creamy Broccoli Soup, and add some vegan parm or daiya cheese on top. This is the perfect side to any meal and takes about 2 minutes to heat up.

You could also add some non-dairy cheese of your choice and pour it over a baked potato for a full dinner idea! Yum!

 

Other great vegan flavors in Imagine’s “creamy” variety, include tomato, portabello mushroom, butternut squash, corn and lemon grass, potato leek, sweet pea, sweet potato, and tomato basil. All of these are delicious, healthy, and 100% vegan!

 

On a different note, I was overwhelmed with the response to my last post regarding labels and being an imperfect vegan. I appreciate everyone’s feedback, positive and negative alike. I think there is a lot of valid conversation taking place on both ends of the debate, so I encourage all of my readers to post a comment with their views and contribute to the discussion. I hope to continue to elicit a dialogue between vegans, vegetarians, and eaters of all preferences through my writing, and my last post, if nothing else, was a great start on that path. For those of you who have contacted me on a more intimate level, I really appreciate your support. Some of the harsher criticism was difficult for me to read, but when you put yourself “out there” and make yourself transparent, I think it comes with the territoriy. I love vegan food, I love my readers and I love writing this blog. Thank you to all who continue to read!

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

 

 

 

Your Vegetarian Girlfriend?

I hate labels. Because I am of mixed-ethnicity, I always got asked growing up (and still do) “what are you??” Any of my other “ambiguous” looking friends will surely relate. To end the line of questioning as quickly as possible, my standard response is “Jewrican” (half Jewish and half Puerto Rican) which is true, but what I really want to say is, “why does it matter!” I’m a person. I’m a woman. I’m a daughter. I’m a student. I’m a thinking, feeling, caring and ever evolving human being, and I don’t want to be judged by any label society coerces us into believing we need to define and explain each other.

I don’t fit into a neat little box. I never have and I never want to.

And now here is where the vegan thing comes in.

I eat mostly vegan. I love eating vegan. I love the health benefits and ethical freedom and the community I feel apart of as a result of calling myself vegan. And now here is where I might lose some of you: calling myself vegan is a lie. The truth is, sometimes I eat vegetarian and not fully vegan. Do I still eat mostly vegan? Yes. Do I still absolutely understand/am committed to/embrace/promote a meat-free agenda? Absolutely. But when I go out to eat, sometimes I eat cheese. And sometimes I eat a dessert that has dairy in it. And sometimes I don’t. And I don’t think that makes me a bad person. A bad vegan? Maybe. Which is why I am writing this post to “come clean” so to speak on the truth about my choices when it comes to food.

In my humble view, being flexible about the vegan/vegetarian continuum makes it appear that much more accessible and possible for those who could not even fathom giving up meat, which is sadly the majority of the American population.

In a 2008 “Vegetarianism in America” study, published by Vegetarian Times (vegetariantimes.com), it showed that 3.2 percent of U.S. adults, or 7.3 million people, follow a vegetarian-based diet. Approximately 0.5 percent, or 1 million, of those are vegans, who consume no animal products at all. In addition, 10 percent of U.S., adults, or 22.8 million people, say they largely follow a vegetarian-inclined diet.

According to the statistics above, if I include options on my site for both vegans and vegetarians, I can reach a greater audience than I would if I just offered vegan options. I want to reach people all over the world. I want to help people learn the joys and simplicity of cooking and dining out without feeling that meat must appear on their plates at every meal. I want everyone who stumbles upon my site to leave saying, “hey, I could do this thing, it’s not so hard!” In my wildest dreams, I would love to one day have the first vegetarian/vegan cooking show on mainstream television. In expanding my scope and my brand, and most importantly in being honest about my food choices, I think I am being authentic, and hopefully for that I will still have most of my readers’ support.

Of course I am aware of the cruelty cows face as a result of our consumption of dairy products, and the horrible conditions chickens are subjected to as a result of our egg consumption. This is not an easy pill for me to swallow nor something I wish to forget or ignore. Of course I feel guilty that my own palate outweighs my commitment to animal welfare at times, but sometimes it does, and that is the just the truth. It’s not all of the time. It’s some of the time, and I still think even in eating vegetarian at times, I am doing a lot for animal welfare, my health, and hopefully the education and inspiration of others. I want to enjoy an authentic and truthful life and not feel like a label and/or the backlash from a community that embraces a vegan lifestyle would ever stop me from that.

I don’t buy dairy or eggs to eat at home. I eat dairy products maybe once a week when I’m at dinner with friends usually in the form of cheese or dessert. So I’m 90% vegan? 95% vegan? Sometimes 100% vegan or vegetarian if you count meal by meal? 100% flexible? 100% honest? Who knows, and I hope after reading this you will agree, who cares. Labels aren’t fair. They feel militant and rigid and leave no space for deviation from a set norm. I would rather be transparent than feel like I have to hide the times when I do eat vegetarian and not vegan. I am imperfect, at times selfish, impulsive, and hedonistic, but I refuse to be a liar, keep secrets, or feel I need to hide a part of myself in fear of being judged.

I had a nightmare last night about this “coming out,” no lie. I was at some benefit or big banquet dinner where I made a speech to my fellow vegan community that I ate cheese and the like and how incredibly guilty I felt for somehow betraying those more committed than I. I was received by this dream audience with ridicule and some compassion and harsh judgement and some love. I actually woke up crying. I don’t doubt the same will be true of the waking version of this scene.

And so, I’m writing not only in hopes of reaching and inspiring a wider audience, but to liberate myself from labels: the vegan label, the vegetarian label, the flexitarian label or any other label that makes change/growth/evolution feel wrong, shameful, scary or embarrassing. We already live in a society that has a love/hate, and in my opinion, very unhealthy relationship with food. I don’t want to be a part of that discourse. Change, grow, make mistakes, care about the world, care about animals, care about others and care about yourself. Food should be celebrated and enjoyed; the source of joy and pride not shame and fear.

I promise all of my future posts, recipes and reviews will be clearly labeled as to what is vegan and what is vegetarian and all of them will ALWAYS include vegan options. I hope to make each post useful for those who are vegan, vegetarian, vegetarian inclined, flexitarian, or just curious about a healthier and more compassionate lifestyle. Or even better, those who don’t choose to label themselves by the food they consume. This site is evolving and will continue to evolve, just like I am, just as we all are.

Lastly, as far as the “your vegan girlfriend” title is concerned, I still love it and own it. I think it’s cute and catchy and I don’t have plans on changing it anytime in the near future. I hope my friends and readers are cool will that. I do however have plans on revamping my site, with clearer categories, layouts, search options and more, and surely a new about me/site description to appropriately inform readers of what I am/this site is all about. I can’t wait!

I feel blessed to have a forum to share my personal journey with food and my passion to inspire others on theirs. Thank you so much for reading. I hope you still will!

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

Taj Indian Palace

A recent discovery of mine is my ALL TIME fave Indian restaurant that delivers to West LA/Santa Monica/Culver City (til 10:30 pm mind you) even though they are located in the LAX area (random). Not only am I obsessed with all of their amazing veggie dishes but this is some of the best Indian food I have ever eaten delivery or not. I discovered this gem while perusing Grubhub, one of my fav ways to order delivery. Ever since my first meal arrived piping hot at my door and I shortly inhaled it, I’ve been hooked and legit order it once a week for my Indian fix! Contributing to my laziness? Maybe. Let’s just chalk it up to my love of naan.

 

 

Taj Indian Palace

8320 Lincoln Blvd
Westchester, CA 90045
Neighborhood: Westchester / LAX

(310) 337-1423

Hours: Mon-Sun 11 am – 10:30 pm
I’ve never actually been to the restaurant (obvi) but for some reason they deliver to me in West LA/Santa Monica (and prob Venice and more) so I ‘aint complaining.
Most recently I ordered a variety of veggie dishes and had left overs for days. Warning: their portions are HUGE so be prepared to do some splitting and or microwaving action for days to come.
Grubhub was having a special where if you ordered 25 dollars or more you got a free app, so I chose the pakoras.

Vegetable Pakora: Freshly cut vegetables, spiced, battered and deep fried. Served with hot mint sauce & sweet tamarind sauce

Fried vegetable nuggets. Hell to the yes. Obviously, these were fantastic. Don’t think I need to elaborate here.
One of my other orders was their saag mushroom dish, which is hearty and spicy flavorful, not spicy hot, as perfect as perfect can be.

Saag Mushroom - Fresh mushroom sauteed with spinach, onion and ground Indian spices

I was so into digging around for their big juicy chunks of mushrooms like hidden gems in a thick sea of thick spinach and lentils. I felt like I was eating cookie dough ice cream digging for the hunks of cookie dough liek I always do … cept this was msuhrooms in saag. Whatever, I’m extremely weird, don’t judge me. Anyways this is my fav dish I order here and highly reccomend it. Huge thumbs up.
I also have eaten their veggie curry which I liked a lot but didn’t love quite as much as the saag.

Mixed Vegetable Curry - Cooked with spices, ginger, onions, garlic & curry sauce

A little heavy on the potatoes but the over all flavor is super good. This mixed in with a side of their basmati rice is kind of the bomb.
A vegetarian but not vegan dish that is amazing here is the tofu tikka masala. (At least I assume it’s not vegan cause tikka masala is usually cream based …)

Tofu masala - Tofu sliced and cooked in onion sauce and home-made creamy tomato sauce

I have never seen tofu as a tikka masala option so that is pretty rad! Something about creamy tomato sauce just does it for me and this dish does not disappoint. The tofu is super soft and is the perfect protein for this Indian staple. So for all my vegetarian readers out there def get this!
In the past I have ordered the veggie combo plate which I also loved!

Vegetarian Combo: Saag Paneer (you can ask for a different saag sub if you don't feel like eating around the cheese), Dal, vegetable of the day, rice, naan, raita (which is vegetarian not vegan) or salad.

I love having tastes of everything, so any sort of combo plate I am always super on board with. Everything was amazing but their veggie of the day which I’m pretty sure was just their curried vegetables was my fav of that night.
Their naan is also insanely good.

Naan - yummmmmmm

The combo plate is two thumbs up, and a great option if you are eating solo.
There are also plenty of other veggie dishes to try so I will keep you all abreast of any new killer finds at my newly deemed staple delivery spot. Is it Sunday yet? Cause I got a hankering for some naan…
xoxo
Your Vegan Girlfriend

Castle Gourmet’s January Dinner Event!

Guess what? Castle Gourmet is having another amazing dinner event this Sunday January 29th and there are still seats available! Last month I had the pleasure of eating the amazing four-course meal chef Anne Lee created for her holiday dinner event, which was truly one of the most amazing dining experiences I have ever had in my life.

scenes from last month's dinner event

the insanely delicious entrée from last month's event

You can read my full post on the December menu here, but to briefly summarize what the dealio is, about 12 guests are served a four-course meal hosted in Anne’s gorgeous Los Feliz home complete with optional wine pairing and wait service. I still fantasize about the menu Anne served up in December. It is the stuff vegan dreams are made of people.

Your Vegan Girlfriend caught red-handed destroying dessert from last month's event

Now, you can have these drool worthy dreams too!

 

This month’s Castle Gourmet menu is inspired by local, seasonal produce, as well as Anne’s lust for the return of warmer days. She also decided to give it a bit of a Mediterranean flair (my favorite yay)!

Here is the REEEEEEDIC sounding menu… check it out!

 

Castle Gourmet January Menu, Sunday Jan 29, 2012

Salad: Crisp Chicory and Winter Vegetable Salad ~  Sunchoke, Blueberry and Sweet Pea, Candied Hazelnut Crunches, Poached Apple Vinaigrette  

Start: Mediterranean Tart Trio ~ Spicy Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Matbucha, Caramelized Onion and Olive Tapenade Tartlets

Main: Eggplant Parmesan Timbale, Celery Root and Sweet Potato Gratin, Seared King Oyster Mushroom Scallops

Dessert:  Lemon Olive Oil Cake, Rosemary sorbet

 

All dishes are organic, and obviously 100% vegan. Bahh this menu sounds absolutely INSANE!!!!!!

Last month there was an optional wine pairing by Silverlake Wines offered for only ten dollars more so I am sure you can take advantage of that again (I know I will be).

Wine from Silverlake Wines

If you are interested in attending this or future Castle Gourmet Dinner event, which you would be crazy not to be, give chef Anne a shout. You can email her at castlegourmet@castlegourmetdining.com. Spaces are super limited so jump on this fast! Just email Anne and she will give you all the info and set you up for Sunday.

Anne preparing our feast!

Trust me, you do NOT want to miss this. It’s going to be epically yummy and super fun.

 

Eeeeeeeeee, I cannot wait for Sunday!! I hope to see some of you lovely readers there!!!

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

Hugo’s January Specials and a very vegan birthday

Happy belated birthday to Bess!

This weekend Bess celebrated her birthday at Hugo’s in West Hollywood, one of my all time favorite vegan restaurants. I was thrilled when Bess told me she wanted to celebrate her bday at Hugo’s because I already had my eye on their amazing sounding vegan specials of the month. True to form, Bess and I shared several dishes each better than the next!

 

We got the vegan food party started with the nacho appetizer to share with the table.

Los Nachos Con Queso - Crispy corn tortilla chips over a bed of tomato-chipotle black beans. Topped with Chef Nabor’s zesty vegan queso sauce. Accented with pico de gallo, diced grilled green chilies, avocado and chopped cilantro.

I’ve had the vegan nachos at Hugo’s once before but I don’t remember them being this insanely good. The nacho cheese sauce the chips come smothered in is absolutely incredible; I could seriously eat a vat of just that.  Every component of these nachos is great and we all gobbled them up in a blink of an eye. Two huge thumbs up for this amazing app that’s perfect for sharing with all your friends! Weeeee.

Next Bess and I shared one of Hugo’s monthly specials, the polenta and portabello ragout appetizer.

Grilled Polenta & Portabello Ragout - Grilled polenta topped with sautéed diced portabello mushrooms, artichoke hearts, broccolini, and sun dried tomato, in a cashew-cream marsala-tomato sauce. Sprinkled with fresh chopped basil.

Um OMFG this was BOMBBBBBBBBB. My favorite dish of the night, this seasonal app sums up everything I love about vegan food. The cashew cream marsala sauce was “I can’t believe this is vegan” good. So so creamy and rich and lightly spiced with Italian flavors, the rich sauce paired perfectly with the big chunks of the “meaty” portabellos. The grilled polenta was golden and buttery, hearty and comforting. The other veggies in the ragout were also amazing especially the broccolini, which I normally am not the hugest fan of because it can be bitter. Not in this dish. Everything was 11 out of 10 good. Run out of your door and go to Hugo’s and order this because it will only be on the menu until the end of the month. MUST MUST MUST order. So damn good and entirely vegan and gluten-free!

For our entrée, Bess and I decided to do splitsies yet again, and we decided on another stellar January special, the oyster mushroom tacos (yes oyster mushrooms are vegan!)

Oyster Mushroom Tacos - Warm corn tortillas filled with breaded crispy fried oyster mushrooms. Topped with shredded lettuce, jalapeno-marinated vegetables, fire-roasted-tomato salsa and cilantro. Served with chopped romaine salad and Caesar dressing.

All I can say is yes yes yes. So much yes going on on this plate. The piping hot mushrooms inside of the hot corn tortillas were fried to a crisp golden brown and contrasted so nicely with the cool crunch of the shredded lettuce and salsa. I think these tacos were a play on Ensenada style fish tacos, a California favorite of my meat-eating friends. I love that Hugo’s veganized and improved upon classic fish tacos and more importantly that they tasted so freakin’ good! The “meaty” quality of the shrooms was simply the perfect filling for a perfect taco. Yum yum yumeroooo.

A better shot of the crispy fried mushroom filling.

Although the polenta ragout was still my favorite order of the night (cause it was on anotha level good) these tacos are a def must order and I highly recommend getting them before they go off of the menu. (PS – why is vegan Mexican food always SO good). The caesar salad the tacos were served with, as always, was great too. The vegan caesar dressing at Hugo’s is def the best in town. Go get this special now! You can’t go wrong.

For dessert Bess’ birthday guests and I decided to surprise her with two seasonal desserts, the vegan pumpkin pie and the vegan chocolate brownie torte, both totally vegan and totally gluten-free!

Pumpkin Pie - Smooth, pumpkin pie spiced with ground clove, cinnamon, ginger & cardamom in a coconut and pecan crust. Topped with pumpkin seed brittle and served with whipped cream (not vegan) upon request.

Okay so this wasn’t my jam but I am weird and hate nutmeg, which the pie was heavily seasoned with, so that conclusion was inevitable. The other guests really enjoyed it though so don’t let my potpourri spice hating taste buds dissuade you. That being said, I think everyone agreed the torte was the clear dessert winner.

Brownie Tort - A wonderful chewy chocolate pecan brownie topped with a fudge frosting and a ripe strawberry. They are so full of whole ingredients we consider them a more nutritious food source than any ordinary dessert.

Don’t even know where to begin. I normally don’t go crazy for super rich chocolate desserts in general but oh my vegan stars was this thing delicious. I normally don’t like fruit either, but the strawberries paired with the fudgey gooey brownie like torte were the most insane and perfect flavor combo ever. How in the world this is both vegan and more astonishingly gluten-free I don’t know. I do know, however, that is was blowing my damn mind. This dessert is seriously DANGEROUS. I am so glad I had other people to share it with (errr or fight over it with) because lord only knows I could eat the whole thing myself in a heart beat. And then another. This torte is heaven on a plate people, pure vegan heaven on a plate. MUST MUST MUST ORDERRRRRRRRRRR.

 

Every month Hugo’s never ceases to amaze me with the inventiveness, creativity and execution of their specials. January proved to feature one of my favorite menus yet and I give my full endorsement for every delicious item I tried. All gluten-free and all vegan lose your mind apps, entrées and desserts at an omnivorous restaurant? Is this real life? Yes, yes it is. It’s Hugo’s.

 

My one complaint was regarding the service. The dinner service at Hugo’s West Hollywood is always a little, err, shall we say, lacking. Our waitress was kinda hard to flag down and def had a ‘tude. However, the hostess (possibly manager?) at the front totally picked up her slack and is always amazing to all the customers whenever I eat there. Regardless of service gripes, Hugo’s continues to be one of my favorite vegan friendly restaurants in LA. I think Bess had a great birthday and that’s all that really matters. I will def be hitting Hugo’s up again in January before those rockin specials disappear!

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

Akasha Revistited

This past Thursday night I dined at Akasha for my second time ever, and holy vegan guacamole was it perfection. This visit I was seated in the dining room (thank you reservations) which is much fancier and swank than its casual cafe counterpart.

A view of the dining room in the day light (photo credit: eater la)

Akasha was alive and bustling. The expansive bar area was completely full, as was every table in the house. My waitress was very attentive and sweet and despite a packed dining room the service was surprisingly prompt.
Akasha’s onion rings were featured on The Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate (one of my all time favorite shows), a fact I was not aware of on my first visit. Now with “insider” foodie knowledge, you bettah believe I ordered these right off the  bat.

HOUSE MADE ONION RINGS - rice flour crusted, served with smoked paprika aioli and ketchup

Holy fried orbs of yum were these good. Since they are made with rice flour instead of white or wheat, these onion rings are entirely gluten-free too (oh bye-bye portion control hello gluttony). Crispy, chewy and not overly oily, this app was surprisingly “light” for something deep-fried. I liked that the onions really shone through and were not overpowered with the breading or seasoning. They were delightful dipped in the ketchup but fyi the aioli is vegetarian not vegan. All and all these totally lived up to the hype and I was super happy I ordered them. Must order numbah one of the night. Feelin’ good.

Next up I decided to go with the mung beans and rice entrée, since on my last visit I was a wee tad underwhelmed with the quinoa and tofu main. This entrée is entirely vegan sans the vegetarian raita it comes with (which can easily be omitted) and is gluten-free sans the flatbread. Again, the food came up shockingly fast, and I happily dug in.

PUNJABI MUNG BEANS & RICE - grilled corn & zucchini, (but actually seasonal veggies) tandoori flatbread, coleman farms greens, tomato chutney & raita (which is vegetarian but not vegan)

OMFG was this good. The mung beans and rice were covered with seasonal veggies including charred cauliflower, purple carrots, regular carrots and onions. Although the dish was listed with corn and zucchini I was thrilled that these seasonal subs were made which I think really took this to the next level. The mung beans/rice combo reminded me a little bit of super thick pea soup and was mildly seasoned, hearty and filling. The flatbread was also incredible and had bits of caramelized onion baked on top. I loved the contrast of the flatbread dipped into the very sweet tomato chutney (perhaps a little too sweet), and the freshness of the local greens was able to shine through the modest oil and salt salad dressing. Every component of this dish was seriously perfect and I can’t recommend it highly enough. This is the vegan jam right hurr. MUST ORDERRRRRRR.

Even though my full level was pretty much off the odometer I could not leave without trying the vegan peanut chocolate dessert that came with vegan gelato. Dessert/peanut butter/chocolate/delicious lovers beware, this is about to change your life.

SALTY CHOCOLATE PEANUT BAR - candied peanuts, sea salt, caramel, peanut butter chocolate chunk gelato

Ummmmmmm OMFG OMFG OMFGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG was this good. Like pretty much one of the best vegan desserts I have ever had in my life. The salty chocolate peanut bar was reminiscent of a gourmet snickers bar covered with decadent caramel drizzle and chunks of roasted peanuts.  It was rich and fudgey and decadent and most importantly salty!!!! Sweet and salty is the ultimate combo and this dessert married the two flavors to perfection. The darkness of the chocolate bar contrasted the light, creamy and oh so peanut buttery gelato so perfectly I lost my damn mind. Like I seriously might have gone into a vegan peanut butter chocolate induced delirium because every bite was legit better than the one before. That gelato is the stuff vegan dreams are made of people. I could actually eat like 5 full orders of just the gelato on my own. I seriously could not believe this was vegan. Have I said OMFG yet? Cause OMFG. Um, so, like, go get this right now before I buy out their entire supply, thanks.

Oh and MUST ORDER times infinity.

And with that Akasha just won the game for one of my top picks for a date night on the Westside. I loved every aspect of my dining experience here and absolutely everything I ate was pure heaven. SO what are you waiting for, go here now!!!! I cannot wait to go back:)

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

 

New Vegan Products for the New Year!

Oh heyyy everyone! It’s January and January is one of my favorite times of the year. It’s the month of resolutions. The month of new beginnings. The month of juice cleanses.

For me that translates to trying new things and getting out of my recent food rut (which basically consists of Amy’s frozen dinners and peanut butter). There are tons of amazing new vegan products that I am dying to try, so many in fact that I thought I would compile a list of my top new vegan picks for the new year. And here we go!

Your Vegan Girlfriend’s Top Vegan Products To Try for January 2012

1. Better Than Ricotta Cheese by Tofutti

Vegan lasagna is no longer such a production thanks to the first vegan ricotta cheese alternative, crafted by the wizards of dairy alternative Tofutti! It’s also gluten-free, which clearly is a huge win for me. Anyone who has tasted Tofutti’s cream cheese alternative knows the wonder of this brand and I am sure this ricotta is no different. Mama mia! Italian food is on the menu:)

2. Sophie’s Vegan Calamari

Sophie’s Kitchen makes exclusively vegan “seafood” products (strange niche, but totally awesome at the same time) and this is at the top of my to try list. These vegan calamari are breaded and fully cooked, which you deep fry or pan fry for a crispy crust and serve with your favorite dipping sauce. Some siracha or chipotle aoli sounds amazing with these pups. It’s not gluten-free but Sophie’s Kitchen makes vegan shrimp, prawns and squid rings that are. Do I dare to go under the vegan sea? Methinks so.

3. Organic Vegetarian Pho Soup Base

Inspired by the traditional Vietnamese Pho, this organic soup base makes it simple to prepare a delicious, healthy authentic vegan pho at home quickly and easily. I love all of Pacific’s soups and eat them often so I can attest to the overall quality of this brand. This fat-free and gluten-free soup base just needs rice noodles, tofu and/or your favorite condiments added in order to make an amazing vegan meal in minutes. So rad. I’m going to try adding fresh basil, hot chili sauce and green onions when I make this at home. Pho-real.

4. Quron Vegan Burgers

A vegetarian favorite of many with their chick’n and other vegetarian burgers, Quorn has long been off of the vegan radar, as most Quron products contain eggs and/or dairy. Not any more burger babes! Now vegans can experience this raved about brand and rumor has it these veggie burgers rival any frozen variety available. What good vegan doesn’t love a veggie burger (period, amen). Vegan burgers till I dieeeeeeeee.

5. Bee-Free Honee

I eat honey, but for those vegans who do not there is an amazing honey substitute I recently discovered called Bee Free Honee. It is “apple honey” in that it is made from apples rather than by bees and has a slightly tart flavor. Only three all natural ingredients are in this product: apples, vegan quality sugar, and lemon juice. There is nothing artificial, no added color and no corn syrup, hoorah! Even if you eat honey this product would be a great sub for agave and great for baking.

There you have it! I will report back on how these adventurous vegan pursuits go and hopefully will have rave reviews to shortly share. Stay tuned!

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

Native Foods

Hi friends! The new year is off to a great start and I am way past due for a post! I started school last week and have been non-stop since, sadly with little time for exciting cooking or eating adventures. And so, I bring to you another flash back review of a restaurant I haven’t eaten at in a while but have been to many a time and as a result know exactly what to order. This time around its Culver City’s very own Native Foods!

Native Foods

9343 Culver Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232
Neighborhood: Culver City

(310) 559-3601

Native Foods is an entirely vegan restaurant with several locations in California.  The chain has recently expanded to Chicago which is huge news for vegan mainstream dining.

A peek inside NF in Culver City (photo credit: quarrygirl)

The Culver City location was formerly an M Cafe, but Native Foods took over the space in late 2010 and it has been poppin’ ever since. Native Foods has a Westwood location as well, but the Culver City restaurant is so so much better. The space is big, bright and casual, with an “order at the counter and take a number” system that we all know and love. There are a few large communal tables but mostly regular seating and a huge outdoor patio perfect for the warmer weather afternoons we have been having lately here in LA!
I want to start with a little disclaimer: I don’t eat at Native Foods that much anymore. Since I try to avoid gluten, and almost all of their fake meat and delicious burgers are made with seitan (aka satan since I have a hellish reaction) and/or wheat products, the options for me are extremely limited. That being said there are a few gluten-less gems on the menu and I can absolutely attest to the deliciousness of the menu items I can no longer enjoy, because back in the day I used to get diggity down with several of their gluten-filled burgers. So for those of you who don’t have any issues with wheat NF is absolutely awesome!
Here are my favorite menu items and recommendations that you gotta order on your next Native Foods trip!
Let’s start with the first stop you need to make on your Native Foods journey. The drink machines:

Agua Fresca, Iced Tea, Lavender Lemonade

The drinks here are off the chain amazing. The lavender lemonade is the biggest must order I have on the menu, no joke, so do not miss it on your next visit! A lot of people go bonkers for their agua fresca too, so make sure you sneak a taste before you fill up with the lemonade.
My top menu picks are as follows.
Chilli Cheese Fries:

Chili Cheese Fries - Seasoned potato fries smothered in homemade Native Chili. Topped with Native Cheese and diced red onions.

My excitement about these fries follows a pretty simple a + b = c model. I absolutely love french fries. I also love vegan cheesy chilli. Ergo, I love this app, and ergo you will too. I do wish they would add more cheese though… Can’t have enough vegan cheese!
Taco Salad:

Yo Amigo Taco Salad - A blend of romaine, cabbage, Native Taco Meat, and salsa fresca. Topped with corn, green onion, cilantro, and tortilla chip croutons. Served with original creamy chipotle dressing on the side. Yo, good with avocado (duh).

Love the chipotle ranch dressing on this salad!!! This larger than life salad is seriously good, and the “optional” avocado addition is the icing on a crunchy Mexican fiesta party … in my pants. I mean … in my bowl. Seriously, order this.
Chicken Run The Ranch Burger:

Chicken Run Ranch Burger - Crispy battered Native Chicken, ranch dressing, romaine, carrots, and onions. What everyone would eat if chickens ran the ranch!

Fried chicken and ranch dressing. On a bun. And it’s vegan. Nuff’ said. Make sure to upgrade this with a side of their sweet potato fries.
Gluten-Free option slash my fav thing on the menu:

Sesame Kale Macro Bowl - Chef Tanya’s Tempeh atop steamed kale, brown rice, creamy ginger sesame sauce, tangy sauerkraut, gomasio and toasted sesame seeds. Green onion garnish and crunchy cucumber seaweed salad on the side.

Simple and straightforward, well cooked, well seasoned food. That’s what I’m talkin’ about bay-beeee. I LOVE the saurkraut on top and the creamy tahini sauce is to die for.This bowl just makes my heart sing.
Not a huge list but those are my favorite Native Foods items and one safe for the wheat free meat free friends too! I still feel like if I want to do the whole fake meat burger thing I would head to The Veggie Grill, but Native Foods is a great all vegan creative and affordable restaurant doin’ big things in the plant-based world, and for that I applaud them. I just wish Chef Tanya would add some more gluten-free options and/or a couple of dishes that aren’t trying to imitate meat products. Just a thought. Regardless, Native Foods is a great vegan option on the Westside and especially great to bring your meat loving friends to since so many hearty and delicious entrées are on the menu. If you’ve never been, go!
xoxo
Your Vegan Girlfriend

Mohawk Bend

This past Friday bloggie friend Lauren of The Jolly Fox celebrated her birthday at Mohawk Bend in Echo Park.  I’ve heard amazing things about the vegan option Mohawk Bend offers, so celebrating Lauren’s birthday was the perfect excuse to treck to the Eastside to try this restaurant/brewery.  Not only did I like Mohawk, but I discovered one of the best vegan menu items I have ever indulged in at a restaurant. Do not read this post hungry or you will inevitable lick your screen.

 

Mohawk Bend

2141 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Neighborhood: Echo Park

(213) 483-2337

Hours: Mon-Thu 12 pm – 11:30 pm, Fri 12 pm – 1:30 am, Sat 9:30 am – 1:30 am, Sun 9:30 am – 11:30 pm
Since I’m not too familiar with the Echo Park area I can’t speak too much to Mohawk’s locale, but since Mohawk doubles as a bar/beer wonderland I’d say it’s a safe one stop shop bet for your night.  Lauren had a table on the beautiful patio which features a modern outdoor fireplace and both table and booth seating where you can watch all the neighborhood action while enjoying a drink.

A view of the front patio and its abundent seating( photo credit: quarrygirl)

Quarrygirl summed up the vegan-friendly back-story better than I can so here is a quote from her about the crazy amazing vegan options: From its inception, the menu at Mohawk was designed to be extremely vegan-friendly. It’s a collaboration between two chefs—one of whom is a vegan herself, so as you can imagine, we’re well looked after. They’ve taken care of every last detail, down to separate fryers, utensils, and cooking preparation areas. The restaurant has succeeded in creating classic pub fare that everyone loves, with a vegan twist that’s extremely impressive.” How awesome is that!
The vegan menu options are abundant and luckily Bess was also one of of the birthday goers that night, so per usu we split a bunch of things. 

Me and Bess about to eat the night away!

We started with a few apps, a veggie side and ordered a salad with their vegan veggie burger on top (custom go-to order) for our main.
The first app that arrived was their herbed flatbread which we ordered with the eggplant spread.

Herbed Flatbread with Spiced Roast Eggplant

Compared to what was to come this app was kind of meh. The eggplant dip was actually amazing but the supposed “herbed” flatbread had not a single herb in sight and pretty much tasted like bland pita bread. We devoured the dip but we ended up eating only like half of the bread.
Next up were the brussel sprouts, an app from Mowhawk’s small plates menu section.

Brussels - roasted with apples and almonds

I actually straight up hated these but Bess really liked them and birthday girl Lauren LOVED them. To me they tasted exactly like apple pie which was just too weird for me.  I think they were flavored with nutmeg, which I absolutely detest, as well as cinnamon and other typical pie spices. I couldn’t get behind the strange flavor combo but since Lauren was wild about it so it could def just be me, I dunno. Whatever the case may be re: spice situation, the brussels were cooked perfectly, caramelized and not too oily, so for those who get down with pie on their cabbage, go for it.

Then the stars of the show arrived. The couple next to us ordered two huge vegan sausage pizzas which I had a huge piece of and holy smokes was it amazing.

Vegan sausage pizza with daiya and red and green peppers and onions

I didn’t see this on the menu so this may be a special order but I know Mohawk has tons of vegan/veganizable pizzas which is always a huge win. The sausage on this daiya loaded pie of joy was fantastic and the crust was the perfect thin:thick ratio. Highly rec ordering a Mohawk pizza pie, highly.

Our kale salad came warm and our veggie burger with onions was served on the side.

JJ Kale - wilted salad of kale seared with garlic and chili, topped with julienned jicama.

The kale salad was superb. Hot kale is the best, and the salty, umami heavy dressing paired perfectly with the tender and not at all bitter greens.  I LOVEDDDDDDD this salad and wished the order was bigger. This is a must order and I will never not order it when in Mohawk attendance.

The burger was meh but I assume that was due to not getting it burger style and just cheese stands alone on a plate. Lauren ordered it as it comes, bun and all, and raved so I’m gonna reserve judgement.

V is for Vegan house made quinoa and lentil patty

I also appreciate the use of quinoa over brown rice, they typical veggie burger binder I see on menus.

 

Okay now onto the winner of the night/month/life. The vegan poutine. Yes, that’s right, vegan poutine!!!!!!!!!!!

Vegan Poutine - fries smothered in vegan gravy and daiya cheese (note: this is not on Mohawk's menu online so it may have been a special? I hope not.)

OMG OMG OMFGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG. No words can describe the awesomeness that was going on here. The fries were perfect, the cheese abundant and the gravy – holy gosh the gravy – it was so “real” tasting I seriously couldn’t believe my taste buds. I don’t say “I can’t believe this is vegan” that much since I know how amazing vegan food can be, but I legit couldn’t believe this was vegan. Guys this is like run out your front door right this second to get every order in Mohawk’s kitchen good. This is top of my 2011 vegan bucket list good. This is sell your first-born on the black-market for poutine money good. This is my own personal version of vegan heaven.
GET THIS NOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW.
Okay, taking a deep breath. Sorry…. moving on….
For dessert our waiter surprised Lauren with a vegan version of a pizookie (a deep-dish cookie cake) and a huge scoop of coconut vanilla ice cream on the side.

Happy birthday to Lauren!

Cast Iron Cookie from the stone oven. ”A La Gelato.”

Cast Iron Cookie from the stone oven. ”A La Gelato.”

Holy mother of chocolate chip heaven.  The fact that there was a vegan pizookie alone is beyond mayjah but then the fact that it was out of this world blow your damn mind amazing is another (a whole notha level).  MUST ORDERRRRRRRRRRRRRRR and the perfect end to an incredible vegan indulgent Friday night of celebrating!!!!!!

Oh and let us not forget that there are over 70 beers on tap, a nice wine list and dozens of signature cocktails at this epic Echo Park establishment. I can’t say enough about how amazing my experience was at Mohawk Bend. I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend it and can’t wait to come back. I will happily travel to Echo Park when kale, poutine and pizookies are on the menu. This is among some of the most exciting and delicious vegan food I have ever had the pleasure of eating and now is right on up there with my favorite restaurants for vegan eats in LA.
Mohawk you send me …. right into a food coma. Love you guys!!!!!!!!!!!
xoxo
Your Vegan Girlfriend

M Street Kitchen

This past week Bess (my bloggie bestie) and I tried M Street Kitchen in Santa Monica, a veggie friendly upscale Main Street newcomer.  Lettuce Entertain You, the Chicago-based hospitality firm which has been part of LGO Santa Monica since its inception, took over full ownership of the venue, and changed the restaurant’s name from La Grande Orange Cafe to M Street Kitchen on April 14. M Street actually serves a similar to LGO menu with many of the restaurant’s most popular eats (Brussels Sprout Salad, the Green Chili Burger) but added several new items as well, including a daily vegetarian special, sushi and buzzed about desserts. They serve brunch, lunch and dinner and have a dope happy hour menu to boot. Our interest was piqued.

Bess arrived before me around 6:30 on Thursday evening and was able to grab a table without much wait, but within minutes everything got super packed.  I would suggest making a rez if you know you will be eating at M Street to avoid waiting around for a table. There is free underground parking, a huge plus since Main Street can be a nightmare to find meters on (especially during prime dining hours). Now let’s talk food!

 

 

M Street Kitchen

2000 N Main St
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Neighborhood: Santa Monica

(310) 396-9145

Hours: Mon-Thu, Sun 8 am – 10 pm, Fri-Sat 8 am – 11 pm

(photo credit: la.eater)

night-time view

M Street has a great vibe – upscale, romantic, and hip.  Sleek and modern looking inside, there’s an intimate candlelit mood at M Street, and in the future I would love to take advantage of the comfy and refreshing outdoor patio dining they have as well. However, Thursday night was especially chilly, so Bess and I were pretty content with our prime table in the front of the restaurant.

(photo credit: la dine club)

M Street has a huge bar and a massive cocktail and wine list.

The bar area and some more views of the seating (photo credit: eddible skinny blog)

After reviewing the menu Bess and I decided to do some splitsies (not surprisingly) since not only do we have the exact same palate and food likes/dislikes, but we both love tasting a little bit of everything. God I love eating with my food twin.
After checking with the waiter to make sure the items we ordered were entirely vegan (or could be made that way) we decided to share an app, a salad and a main.  Our waiter was incredibly accommodating and sweet, contrasting rumors that M Street was sporting some sub-par staff. Def not my experience at all.
All of our food came out at the same time (which we thought was kind of strange to be honest) but Bess and I were pretty hungry so we shrugged it off and dug in. We first tried the Brussel Sprout Salad we ordered, but both of us were overwhelmed by the orange and citrus flavor of the dressing, especially since the dish advertised a honey-mustard dressing not a citrus one.

Brussel Sprouts Salad - (no cheese) almonds, dried berries, honey-mustard vinaigrette

Bess and I tried to eat a couple bites but the dressing proved to be too intense and overpowering for our palates. Our waiter graciously let us exchange this for the spinach salad which came out in minutes.  If you like citrus you might like it but for me this was a huge thumbs down not to mention false advertising.

Meanwhile we tore into our delicious looking sushi app – The Sweet Potato Tempura Roll.

Sweet Potato Roll - japanese barbecue sauce

This roll was bomb! Loved the sweetness of the japanese bbq sauce paired with the vegan tempura battered sweet potato chunks and creamy avocado. Big thumbs up to this unique sushi roll which I would gladly order again.  I love when vegan sushi doesn’t suck!

 

Our new salad was absolutely delish as well.

Heirloom Spinach Salad - (no cheese) tomatoes, almonds, migas, herb-avocado vinagrette

In fact, this salad was my favorite order of the night, so thank goodness we didn’t end up settling with the brussel situ.  The heirloom spinach was almost kale like (yum!) and seemed to be massaged with the dressing creating a nice wilted texture.  The dressing itself was absolutely to die for – super creamy, a little salty and definitely lick the fork worthy.  Two huge thumbs up for this salad – def a must order at M Street.

 

For our entrée we split the vegetarian tacos.

Vegetarian Tacos - grilled farmers market vegetables, corn tortillas, guacamole, salsa, and black beans and rice

I loved loved these tacos EXCEPT for one small issue Bess and I now fondly refer to as “the ghost pepper incident.”  Let me preface this by saying Bess and I are NOT spice wimps. In fact I like spicy food a lot. k, keep that in mind. On the plate was one grilled pepper, which we assumed was a mild jalapeno or something like that. We both put our designated half in our self-made tacos. I took a bite and Bess nonchalantly popped the entire pepper/taco roll up in her mouth.  Within seconds we were gasping for air, chugging water, fanning ourselves and stuffing as many corn tortillas as possible in our mouths just to try to combat the hellishly hot fire going on on our tounges. 20 minutes later Bess’ eyes were still watering uncontrollably. WTFFFFFFF. For two people who are self-proclaimed spice lovers, this pepper situation was inedibley spicy.  It was downright hellish.  Other than that (minor inconvenience really ha!) these tacos were bomb.  The veggies were charred and nicely seasoned, the tortillas were hot and fresh and the rice and beans were delish. I would order this again but request that whatever that evil pepper was come nowhere near my dish. Highly suggest you do the same, unless you enjoy not feeling your face.
Overall I really did enjoy my meal at M Street Kitchen.  The service, ambiance and food were all above average and I thoroughly enjoyed all of the dishes we ordered (minus brussels and ghost pepper).  Since there are not many vegan items on the menu other than the ones we tried, I don’t know if I will be rushing back, but M Street is def worth checking out especially if you plan to do a night out on Main Street. 
xoxo
Your Vegan Girlfriend

Castle Gourmet Dining

This Monday I turned 26. My dear friend Elizabeth (check out her amazing company Closet Rich for the best vintage designer duds here) invited me to a chef prepared 4 course vegan meal with an optional wine pairing at the chef’s home in Los Feliz, a night I knew would be a perfect way to celebrate turning another year older.

Happy bday to me and apparently I'm thanking the vegan gods for this meal...

 

Anne Lee, a vegan chef and graduate of The Natural Gourmet Institute, created Castle Gourmet Dining as a pop-up dining experience, a prepares a festive and unique all vegan menu each month for 12 lucky diners.  Here’s a little more from her website:

“For each meal, Chef Anne Lee combines gourmet techniques and presentation with locally sourced organic fruits and vegetables, focused on health but sparing no expense for taste. Menus are carefully selected using the freshest available ingredients, so each menu will be unique based on what fruits and vegetables are in season and bursting with flavor. The dinners are crowd funded, prix fixe, and vegan by design, with seasonal or internationally inspired themes. Invite only dinners ensure each diner is cared for and given five-star treatment in an intimate setting. Dinners are designed not to imitate traditional meat-based dishes but to create new menageries of tastes based on palates of flavor to create familiar but new sensations.”

The theme for her December menu was “A Holiday Winter Feast,” and  feast it was. Here is the menu I had the pleasure of devouring on Monday night:

First: Duo of  Haricot Verte and Cream of Mushroom Soup, layered and topped with Crispy Onions ~ A play on the traditional holiday favorite “Green Bean Casserole.”


 

Second: Market Fresh Maple Roasted Squash and Winter Vegetable Salad ~  Warm maple roasted squash tossed with the seasonal best from the local farmers market.


Main: Hearty Vegetable Wellington, Sweet Potato Puree, Crunchy Lentils, Reductions of Persimmon and Balsamic.


Dessert: Spiced Apple and Cranberry Crème Brulee, Gingerbread Crisps, Vanilla Crème Fraîche

 

And wine pairings (aka one red and one white) by Silverlake wines!

 

I can’t possibly tell you how amazing this dinner experience was because there are not enough words to describe.  I could go on and on about how creamy and playful her soup was, how I begged for the recipe, how perfectly frizzled the brussels were in the salad and how everyone talked about her dressing for days, how beautiful and hearty her puff pastry was, and how decadent and creamy her brulee was and how that gingerbread man got eaten faster than anything on my plate – but it would take a lifetime. Instead I will just say that I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend the Castle Gourmet Dining experience. Anne and her husband are lovely as is their home, the other diners were really cool (although brining a bunch of your friends would be the best!), and the food was on a whole notha level good. If Anne had a restaurant in LA I would eat there every day. That good.

 

Check out more about Castle Gourmet on Anne’s website and sign-up for her news letter! Her next dining experience is prospectively scheduled for the end of January and you KNOW I will be there.  Thanks so much to Anne and Co. for making my bday so special!

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

 

 

 

(Note: All photos courtesy of fellow diner Erin Burrell – thanks so much for the great pics!)

 

Stuff I Eat

I have been hearing about Stuff I Eat for years.  I have many a vegan friend who claims Stuff I Eat is one of the best vegan restaurants they have been to, and vegan ex-blogger quarrygirl (RIP) put it on her “best vegan restaurants in LA” list two years in a row.  Yesterday I finally tried this famous 100% vegan soul food restaurant and boy oh boy did it live up to the hype. When food is this good, it’s worth making the trip for.

 

Stuff I Eat

114 N Market St
Inglewood, CA 90301

(310) 671-0115

Hours: Tue-Sat 12 pm – 8 pm, Sun 12 pm – 6 pm
Located on a quiet street in Inglewood (super close to LAX), Stuff I Eat is a quiet neighborhood cafe that was pretty empty at 12:30 on a Wednesday.  The decor is casual with a flair: huge funky art pieces adorn the yellow walls and a plush lounge area is nestled the back, creating a relaxed and inviting ambiance.  It sort of feels like you are in your cool friends living room that just happens to have a huge cafeteria like open kitchen attached. 

The view when you walk in

The lounge like area

 

The staff is SO friendly and accommodating. They let me taste the mock-chicken salad (ummmm it’s absolutely incredible), the carrot un-tuna salad (like nothing I have ever had – so freakin’ delicious I wanted to take some home) and the tofu/wild rice mix (winner, obviously). You guys know how much I love samples so I was already in heaven. After much deliberation, my mom and I decided two share to entrées, half of the soul food platter and half of the enchilada pie. We almost got a third entrée but I heard from friends that portions are HUGE so we decided to wait and see once our food came. (Spoiler: we DEF didn’t need a third entrée. Portions are HUGE!!!!)

 

Our meal came out pretty quickly and I literally gasped when I saw so much beautiful food arrive at our table.  There was SO much food, bahhhhh!

 

Organic Soul Food Platter (half platter): Yams, mac 'n cheese, BBQ tofu, kale greens, black eyed pea soup, a cornbread muffin, and your choice of potato salad or coleslaw.

 

Where to start with this …. let’s start with a OMG and an mmmmmmmmmm. Every single thing on the plate was fantastic. The yams have a cinnamon nutmeg kick and are whipped smooth and served piping hot. The bbq sauce on the tofu is the perfect mix of sweet and savory and the tofu has just the right amount of sauce.  The cornbread muffin is fluffy and just a little sweet – just the way I like it. The kale collard greens were AMAZING and had a little vinegary kick that I loved. The black-eyed peas had a smoky flavor and I ended up drinking the broth – ’nuff said. The potato salad was excellent and I wish there was more – that says a lot considering I hate potato salad and was fighting my mom for the last bite. And the mac and cheese – oh the mac and cheese! This was my favorite thing on the whole plate! No idea what they make their cheese sauce out of but sweet lord I want to bathe in it, I want to swim in it, I want to baptize my unborn children with it. Even though it wasn’t gluten-free I ate the entire thing (my mom hates mac n cheese wtf) and have been thinking about eating it non-stop since. 5 stars, must order OMG go here now.

 

The woman helping me at the counter kindly allowed me to taste the potato salad and coleslaw even though the dish comes with a choice of either or, and oh my gosh am I glad that she did. The coleslaw is, you guessed it, amazing. Some of the best I’ve had AND it’s purple!

 

Side of coleslaw - yummmmmm!

 

The enchilada pie was incredible as well.

 

Enchilada Pie: corn tortillas layered with a special blend of red tomato sauce, organic corn, vegan cheddar cheese, and organic yellow polenta topped with salsa and organic guacamole. served with organic wild rice and black beans, a mixed green salad, and chips.

The cheesy, melty, bowl of corn in every form all mixed up with a sweet tomato based sauce and Stuff I Eat’s mystery special sauce was pure indulgence. I loved this and mixed my bites with combo forkfuls of rice and beans to create the ultimate flavor-packed bite. The beans and rice were very mild which was a nice contrast to the more seasoned items on the soul food platter. The dressing on the salad was also super-duper good, like lick the fork good. Huge thumbs up.
Despite the larger than life portions, somehow my mom and I managed to eat everything on our plates.  Clearly it was a good idea we didn’t get a third entrée.  Though we didn’t have room for dessert, Stuff I Eat has plenty of both regular and raw vegan options for those who do.  Next time I am so getting the sweet potato pie!
Can’t recommend Stuff I Eat highly enough.  Excellent service, ridiculously amazing food and inventive and unique dishes, SIE doles up some of the best vegan food I have ever had in my life. Believe the hype, Stuff I Eat delivers.
xoxo
Your Vegan Girlfriend

Vegan Christmas in LA 2011

Now that quarrygirl is gone, someone had to do it, right???

 

Here are the restaurants offering dope vegan meals on xmas eve and/or xmas day:

 

Sohjin: (open on xmas and xmas eve)

A Special Christmas Course!!
December 24th and 25th 12pm – 10pm
Click here to see more info!

A Christmas five course dinner for two for $88

This sounds amazing! Click the link to see the full menu …

Follow Your Heart: (xmas eve only)

They have a crazy amazing special xmas menu, check it out:

Gosh I love FYH.

 

Madeline’s Bistro: (open for Brunch xmas eve)

More info as soon as they put it out! Madeline’s is super far but home of some of the best vegan food I have ever had in my life. Beet Tartare and Bigger Mac fo life! And their brunches are always epic too…. make the donuts!

 

M Cafe: (take-out for pre-order)

If you wanna take your dinner home, M Cafe is offering a special holiday menu including a special soup, salad, entree and lots of yummy sides.   Check out the full menu here. Orders have to be in by the 22nd at 5 pm so hurry!

 

Native Foods: (take-out for pre-order)

You can order their Native Totes filled with a full on holiday meal that only requires you to eat and serve. Awesome! Celiacs beware basically everything at Native Foods has gluten, but if you are not, then I would def try their take home Wellington! In each tote you get:

 

The Native Wellington*

Mushroom Gravy

Coconut Mashed Yams

Fresh Green Bean Casserole

Wheatberry Waldorf Salad

Gingerbread Cheesecake

Pick up is on the 23rd or 24th. More info is here.

 

Planet Raw: (open xmas eve and xmas)

Planet Raw is open every single day even on holidays so for all you raw foodies out there, hit them up!

 

Hugo’s: (not sure if they are open but get stuff to go before!)

They have a crazy amazing dinner for 6 take-home box that’s vegan and gluten-free!!! Check out the menu here.

 

And for all my Jews out there, Follow Your Heart is where it’s at!!! Check out their special menu:

 

Yum!!!

 

I will update this with more info as soon as I have it! Keep checkin back!!!

 

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

 

 

 

Lares Restaurant

I LOVE Mexican food. Love it. I get a serious hankering for Mexican food every few weeks and last night the vegan Mexi craving struck me once again.  LA doesn’t really have any strictly vegetarian/vegan Mexican restaurants (when are we getting a Gracias Madre, huh?!) but there are plenty of good Mexican restaurants that serve vegetarian/vegan menu items.  My favorite Mexican restaurant by far is Lares, a cute and moderately priced restaurant on the Westside.  Lares has been in business since 1968 and doles up some of the best veggie Mexican options around!  My parents and I had a wonderful meal at Lares last night and I left a very happy vegan camper, per usu. Good vegan Mexican food puts a huge smile on my face, or maybe that’s just the wonder that is Lares.  I wore sweat pants to prepare…

 

 

Lares Restaurant

2909 Pico Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Neighborhood: Santa Monica

(310) 829-4550

Hours: Mon-Sun 8 am – 1 am

Street view of Lares (photo credit: local research)

Located on Pico Blvd in Santa Monica near the 10 freeway, Lares is a family owned restaurant that has been in business for over 40 years.  There is valet parking right in front, but I always manage to find metered parking without much effort.
There is a less formal downstairs dining area, and a nicer more romantic upstairs dining area which I always prefer. 

Downstairs with a huge full bar (photo credit: buy local market)

Upstairs with lots of booths, tables for large parties and mood lighting (photo credit: buy local market)

The upstairs is absolutely beautiful right now! It’s outfitted with tons of Christmas lights, decorations and a huge sparkly tree. I forgot to snap a pic but trust me it’s magical!
At around 8 pm on Sunday night, my parents and I made our way upstairs and were seated within seconds without a reservation.  Multiple singers and guitar players provided live entertainment which made for the perfect soundtrack for the epic meal we had in store.  Our waiter took our drink orders right away. I stuck with sparkling water but my dad ordered a Pina Colada which Lares makes superbly. Careful, they are strong!
Freshly baked chips  arrived at our table within minutes which they serve with their delicious salsa. If you are a spicy freak you can ask for their hot salsa too – but this one is plenty spicy for me.

Complementary chips and salsa.

We ordered guac to enjoy with the chips before our entrées came which my family gobbled right up.

Guacamole Dip

Lares makes excellent guacamole and last night it did not disappoint! I have to be careful around Lares’ guac, because I could easily eat the entire bowl no problem. I’m like that with all things avocado though, what can I say. Guac is amazing!
For my entrée I ordered the vegetable tostada, which you can get made vegan by simply asking for no cheese. My parents ordered vegetarian entrées – my mom got cheese and onion quesadillas and my dad got cheese and onion red enchiladas. Other vegan menu items include their incredible vegan potato taquitos or tacos, and the vegetable option of tacos, enchiladas, burritos and fajitas – score! The veggie options here are crazy, score!
Our food came out super fast and we all dug in.

Vegetable Tostada - a crispy flour tortilla topped with refried beans, grilled mixed vegetables, shredded lettuce, salsa and guacamole.

This was absolutely to die for! The grilled veggies featured lots of broccoli (my fav!), red and green peppers, onions, zucchini and yellow squash. The beans were amazing and god knows I love that guac! I gobbled this up savoring every vegan bite. I would 100% get this again and highly recommend it.

Another tostada shot - mmmmm mmmmm mmmmmmm.

I def stole some enchilada sauce and rice from my dad and almost all of my mom’s beans. Sorry guys. Their rice and beans are just too delicious here I couldn’t resist!
I’m not the biggest fan of Mexican desserts in general but I don’t think there are any strictly vegan options here. Not to worry, you will be so full from stuffing your face full of vegan goodies you won’t have room.
Another great meal at Lares in the books. If you are looking for authentic Mexican cuisine that doesn’t break the bank and has tons of veggie options, Lares in the place to be!  Vegan Mexican jonesin’ needs to be fed and fed right and for me, needs to be fed by Lares.  Muchos garcias Lares. Hasta pronto!
xoxo
Your Vegan Girlfriend

Follow Your Heart

Hi! I have been so mia lately and for that I am sorry! I want to do a series of restaurant posts/reviews on amazing vegan spots I have been to in the past but pre-blog days, and am dying to go back to.  Although I haven’t been in a bit, these are some restaurants all vegans MUST hit up at some point in their LA food careers, so it’s about time I give them some blog love!

Let’s kick this party off with a spotlight on an absolutely incredible cafe that has some of the greatest vegan food in all of Los Angeles: Follow Your Heart Cafe.  Follow Your Heart is an all vegetarian/vegan restaurant and full service market in Canoga Park. That’s right folks, a completely vegetarian grocery store. How cool is that!  The amazing cafe that’s attached serves up some of the greatest vegan sandwiches I have ever tasted in my life and absolutely kills it with their food in general. I need to make the trip to Canoga and get my fix asap!

FYH cafe! (photo credit: city-data)

 

Follow Your Heart Natural Foods Market & Cafe

21825 Sherman Way
Canoga Park, CA 91303

(818) 348-3240

So why is Follow Your Heart so amazing? Well first of all they are home to the world’s best vegan ruben sandwich. Seriously, it’s the most amazing thing I have ever tasted  in my life, and if you haven’t experienced the wonder that is FYH’s ruben then put this on the top of your to do list and do it fast!

The Ruben - Thinly sliced wheatmeat, sauerkraut, mustard and Vegenaise, Thousand Island dressing on oversized rye bread. Offered with Follow Your Heart non-dairy cheese or “cottage-style tofu.” (photo credit: to live and eat in la)

All vegan, absolutely massive, and about as close to bliss in a deli style vegan sandwich form as you’ll ever get. Make sure to order it with the cottage-style tofu FOR SURE – makes all the diff and takes the ruben to a whole notha level.  Eating this ruben with the cottage-tofu (which tastes nothing like tofu mind you) is sort of a religious experience. Trust me when I tell you, you have not lived until you have tried this wonder sandwich.  This thing is absolutely massive, I mean HUGE, so unless you are Man Vs Food-ing it up, be prepared to take half home. This should make any vegan eater in LA’s bucket list.
You can order “The Love Plate” and get half of this beast (a much more manageable portion) with a cup of the vegan soup and your choice of coffee, hot or cold tea, soda or small juice.

more ruben goodness!

In my pre-gluten-free days I used to eat this a lot more, but this is a heavily gluten containing meal, so celiacs beware. I say it’s totally worth the stomach ache to try this once though – sometimes you just gotta live a little. However, there are plenty of gf items at FYH too, so gluten-free eaters fear not!
My other favorite FYH menu item, which is totally gluten-free, is the tempeh tacos.

Organic Tempeh Tacos: Two organically grown, stone ground corn tortilla shells, filled with seasoned, grilled organic tempeh, vegan cheese, tomatoes and fresh cilantro. Served with Spanish rice, black beans guacamole and lime wedges. (photo credit: yelp)

This plate is also huge and extremely filling. Great for when you get a vegan Mexican hankering (which I do and need to have satiated often) and tastes absolutely fantastic. The tempeh is so so good and mildly seasoned and I love their guac! Ole!
Another must order is FYH’s vegan version of the fresh date shake. No clue how it tastes so good but it’s prob the best shake I’ve had in my life.

Fresh Date Shake (photo credit: yelp)

Mmmmmmmm how can vegan ice cream and dates taste this good? Oh wait, no, how can vegan ice cream and dates NOT taste this good. Gah I love this. Super indulgent Tuesdays anyone?
So there you have it! Three of my all time favorite vegan food items I have ever tasted in my life and that I must must make the shlep back to Canoga Park for. Anyone else have favorites from FYH? GOSH I WANT THAT RUBEN!!!!
xoxo
Your Vegan Girlfriend

Hanukkah Recipe Round Up

Is everyone as excited as me about the two mayjah holidays coming up?!? I grew up celebrating both Christmas and Hanukkah which meant double the presents, double the fun (menorahs and Santa Clause!) and most importantly, double the food (some things will never change).  My family still gathers each year to celebrate the holidays (this year we are doing a Christmukah feast/celebration combining both holidays) with a huge buffet style dinner spread.  I seriously look forward to this all year. Although my extended family is not vegan, I know with the right recipes I can make believers out of them yet! Hanukkah is a holiday that doesn’t get as much love food wise as it’s Christian counterpart (trust me, I spent hours scouring the web, yikes) but it should! Traditional Jewish recipes are typically carb heavy, usually cheesey and always delish.  My Hanukkah’s past have always included latkes, tons of sour cream and applesauce, kugel, brisket and a whole lotta cheese… oh and I can’t forget the Hanukkah gelt (and resultant Hanukkah guilt from the pounds of food I consume)! Clearly there are a lot of non-vegan ingredients in Hanukkah recipes, but below you can find some great vegan versions of everyone’s favorite dishes! After reading this round-up, you can have a glorious vegan buffet of yumminess from morning to night! Let’s get started!

 

Enjoy a Hanukkah breakfast or brunch with blintzes and matzo brei:

The Vegan Venus’ Cheese Blintzes with Blueberry Sauce

Chef Chloe’s Matzo Brei

 

Wow guests with vegan cheese logs:

Tofu-N-Sproutz’ Holiday Cashew Cheese Log

Epicurean Vegan’s Orange Almond Cheese Log

and serve it with some of Ashley and Stephen from (never home) maker’s Vegan Challah

 

Nosh on some apps while you wait for the main event like:

Ricki from Diet Dessert and Dogs’ Mock Chopped Liver Pate

 

 

 

Make sure to make a latke or two or three with some of these amazing latke recipes:

Isa Chandra from The Post Punk Kitchen’s Potato Latkes

Sugar Plum Vegan’s Gluten Free Potato Latkes

Meet The Shannon’s Baked Latkes

The Copy Cat Cook’s Gluten-Free Potato and Sweet Potato Latkes

Betsy DiJulio’s Sweet Potato Latkes with Chutney Sour Cream and Curried Onion-Apple-White Bean Topping

The Vegan Workshop’s Parsnip and Pear Latkes

Naturally Savvy’s Sweet Potato & Porcini Mushroom Latkes

 

Make sure to make a vegan kugel:

Cybele Pascal’s Potato Leek “Cheddar” Kugel

Joshua from The Discerning Brute’s Noodle Kugel

Beans, Figs and Katz’ Gluten-Free Coconut Spiced Kugel

Joel from Vegan Good Eat’s Spinach Mushroom Quinoa Quiche/Kugel

Ricki from Diet Dessert and Dogs’ Vegetable Bread Kugel

 

Get fancy with some vegan brisket:

Jenn from Veganize It Don’t Criticize It’s Vegan Red Wine and Peppercorn Braised Brisket

Leah Koenig’s Seitan Brisket

 

And for goodness sake, have some Hannukah dessert!

Don’t Fear The Vegan’s White Chocolate Rugelach

Vegan Start’s Sufganiot (aka Jelly Doughnuts)

Food.com’s Aprioct Chanukah Gelt

The Vegan Brute’s Chocolate and Cinnamon Rugelach

Vegetarian Times’ Miniature Jelly Donuts

Chabad.org’s Chocolate Mint Chanukah Coins

 

The Chubby Vegan does Veganomicon’s Jelly Filled Cupcakes

Good Housekeeping’s Surprise Hanukkah Gelt

 

ANDDDDDD, to finish the feast off right, drink some of Jamie Oliver’s Mulled Wine

The end!

 

Happy Hanukkah! I can’t wait to listen to Adam Sandler and gorge myself on vegan latkes with my entire fam. Hooray for vegan Jewish eats!

 

Look for a Christmas recipe round-up next week – cause smiling is my favorite:)

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

 

My Favorite Recipe … EVER

Hello everyone!!!!!!

I finally finished my fall quarter and now I have free time until January 2nd … hooooray! As soon as I finished all of my work and final papers, the very first thing I did was make my all time favorite recipe in the world. My super simple roasted kabocha squash – which I make in bulk now because when I have time to make it, I eat it every day. I posted a version of this recipe way back when (you can see the original post here), but have since perfected the already simple instructions. This recipe isn’t fancy, time-consuming, gourmet or involved, and other than cutting the kabocha, it takes like 2 minutes to prepare.  My kinda recipe.  So why am I so obsessed with this recipe/kabocha squash/eating said squash every day? I have no idea.  But I do know that this is the best thing I have ever tasted and I haven’t gotten sick of it yet.

For those who are not familiar with the kabocha squash yet (and believe me if you are not you NEED to be!) it is an absolutely delicious Japanese root vegetable in the pumpkin family.  This winter squash had a strong naturally sweet flavor and fluffy texture.  It reminds me of a cross between a pumpkin and sweet potato – but way better, obviously.  The average kabocha weighs about 2 to 3 pounds – so make sure you bring a strong bag when you buy these at your local grocer.

(photo credit: world crops)

Now on to the recipe! This sweet and simple kabocha squash recipe tastes like sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie’s love child.  It’s pure heaven.

 

The Best Recipe Ever (aka Sweet and Simple Kabocha Squash)

  • Kabocha squash (I usually use two to make this in “bulk”)
  • Coconut oil spray
  • Himalayan pink salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Stevia powder
  • Maple Syrup

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Scrub the outside of the squash well, cut your kabocha in half and scoop out the pulp and seeds.

Cut the squash into wedges in the size of your liking. I like to make mine into long and skinny wedges because they are more bite sized and portable that way (kabocha on the go anyone?).

Spray a parchment paper lined cookie sheet with a generous amount of coconut oil spray.  Place your kabocha slices carefully on the cookie sheet, making sure not to overlap.  Generously spray the kabocha with coconut oil spray. Lightly sprinkle the squash with the salt, then cinnamon, then stevia powder.

Bake at 400 degrees for approx 20-25 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven, flip each piece, and bake for 20-25 miuntes longer until edges are brown and squash is caramelized.

Transfer to a plate, drizzle with maple syrup and serve!

Or put some maple syrup in a small bowl and individually dip each kabocha slice into the syrup and eat … that’s what I do, whoopsies.

Store non-mapled leftover squash in an air tight container in the fridge for up to a week  (but I almost guaranteed they will be gone in a day).

BEST RECIPE EVER. I am such a kabochavore it’s weird. I can polish off an entire squash in a day and ate almost a whole one for dinner tonight. After you make this recipe, you’ll know why. Enjoy everybody!!

 

Any other kabocha addicts out there?? Try this recipe and I know you’ll join the kabocha-obsessed club:)

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

Akasha

I’m alive!!! I’ve been in finals hell for a week now but the madness stops Friday and I will be back to my bubbly bloggin self!

 

This past Saturday night I managed to escape my never-ending work load for a dinner at Akasha, an organic and seasonal restaurant in that’s been on my “to try” list forevah.  Although Akasha is by no means a strictly veggie establishment, this swanky farmer’s market style New American restaurant/bar/bakery has a menu packed with vegan items, as well as items that the kitchen has no problem “veganizing.”  At 9 pm, with a guest in tow, I sauntered into Akasha prepared to indulge in a much-needed vegan feast.

Akasha

9543 Culver Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232

(310) 845-1700

FYI, there is parking lot right around the corner, which is free for 2 hours, wee!

The gorgeous dining room (photo credit: la eater)

Located on a happenin stretch of Culver Blvd, Akasha’s dark, brick exterior and massive wooden doors appropriately introduce its sexy rustic vibe.  Inside, artfully hung light fixtures and a large bar, complete with a huge chalk-board touting the wine list, dazzle, and low lighting and up-tempo music give this place a modern vibe. Akasha takes its name from Chef-owner Akasha Richmond, who was formerly a caterer and private chef to a celebrity clientele such as Michael Jackson and Barbra Streisand, and is the author of “Hollywood Dish.”

The bar area (photo credit: in style)

Despite not having a rezzie on a Saturday night, my friend and I were seated in the more casual bakery side of the restaurant instantaneously.  Our table was next to the bar, which was lined with a plethora of house-made jams and preserves as well as adorned festive Christmas decorations – swoon.  A waiter immediately came to our table, and the service continued spectacularly throughout our meal.  The kitchen was just as fast as our waiter, sending out our dishes swifter than we could eat them.  This is seriously unheard of and warrants some serious points.

 

After examining their large menu, I literally wanted to try every single item on the “Sides” section, but somehow managed to pick just a few.  My friend and I started with the artichoke frites, a vegan app from the small plates section.

Artichoke Frites - mint raita, tomato chutney, grilled lemon

This app was basically deep-fried pieces of artichoke.  Due to the crispy fried exterior, this dish was reminiscent of your vegan girlfriend’s all time favorite go-to comfort food – french fries. Even though the fried and browned pieces of oiled artichoke didn’t need a thing in terms of dippage, the tomato chutney it was served with tasted like really really good ketchup and was a lovely accompaniment.

 

Next up I tried a salad, which ended up being my least favorite dish of the night.

COLEMAN FARMS Lettuce - easter radish, toasted almonds, lemon vinaigrette

This salad was pretty abysmal.  A meager handful of greens with a skimpy helping of mild lemon dressing just wasn’t doin it for me. And I’m sorry but I see narry an almond, narry! Regrets Akasha, I was not into it.  Moving on.

 

Next up I ordered the brussel sprouts (an apparent theme of mine lately) which the waiter happily veganized for me, omitting the normally occurring bacon.

Brussels Sprouts - cippolini onions, made vegan

Love love loved these!  Totally simple and totally perfect, this clean and mild vegetable dish was sautéed to perfection.  The sprouts had the perfect char to them as well, a key factor to brussels done right.  This winner is now my second favorite brussel sprout dish, with the number one spot going to the veganized brussel sprouts from Primitivo Wine Bistro in Venice (but that’s a separate post).  Huge thumbs up!

 

For my entrée, I ordered one of the two vegan options on Akasha’s big plate menu section, the quinoa.

QUINOA - market vegetables with tamari grilled tofu

Let me start by expressing how ecstatic I am to see quinoa as a main course on an omnivorous menu.  Yes.  My favorite part of this entrée was unshockingly, the squash.  I also loved all of the roasted vegetables generously incorporated in the red and white quinoa mix, with a special guest appearance my the illusive purple carrot!

A better view of a purple carrot right under the huge hunk of tofu!

I could have eaten this filling dish sans tofu and been totally satisfied and stuffed to the gillz.  The tofu was actually my least favorite part of the dish, but it should be notated that I am not one to eat tofu straight up, like, ever, so please take that into account.  My friend, who is a huge meat lover, adored this dish and happily gobbled up my leftover tofu.  Whaaaa?? A steak lover relishing quinoa and tofu with not an ounce of meat in sight?? Um, well done Akasha, well done.

 

Sadly, I was far to full to partake in dessert, but let it be notated that Akasha has vegan ice cream as well as a vegan salted chocolate peanut bar that looks like heaven.

Vegan Salty Chocolate Peanut Bar - served with candied peanuts, sea salt, vegan caramel, and vegan peanut butter gelato (photo credit: my vegan blog). Droooool.

Overall I really enjoyed my meal at Akasha.  I don’t think it will be making my best of 2011 list, but it’s certainly a plentiful and diverse vegan dining option when in the area.  Akasha is an excellent choice for upscale dining for a group of diverse eaters.

 

Post dining experience, I learned that Akasha’s vegan and gluten-free onion rings were featured on a recent episode of my favorite Food Network show, The Best Thing I Ever Ate.  Oh-em-geeeeeeeee, why did I not do my research before eating there?!?! Guess round two is happening for your vegan girlfriend sooner than latah.

 

Has anyone else tried one of the many vegan options at Akasha? Or the onion rings? Let me live vicariously and fill me in!!!

 

Countdown to collegiate freedom in t-minus 4 days and counting.

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

 

Dutch Apple Cranberry Streusel Pie

Tonight I want to share with you an amazing holiday recipe I adapted from the pie class I took at The Natural Gourmet Institute I promised you all yesterday!  This seasonal and festive holiday pie is an absolute perfect addition to any holiday spread you have planed this December (ahh it’s December!). Don’t worry, like all of my recipes this deceptively decadent pie is free of gluten and refined-sugar, some of the usual culprits found in most pie recipes.  This Dutch Apple Cranberry Streusel Pie is so freakin good it’s scary, and I’m not even usually a big apple pie fan. Good thing your vegan girlfriend’s birthday, Christmas and Hanukkah are all in December; three perfectly good excuses to eat holiday inspired strussel pie like an absolute vegan pig and get away with it:)

Dutch Apple Cranberry Strussel Pie (yields 1 pie)

(adapted from a recipe by Rebecca Reilly)

Ingredients:

1 recipe classic gluten-free pastry crust (recipe here) or pie crust of your choice

Apple Filling:

5 cups apples, cored and sliced (about 5 small) – Granny Smith work great

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/2 cup maple sugar or date sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

Topping:

1 cup Hi Protein Blend (recipe here) or you could try another xanthan gum containing gf flour blend

1/2 cup maple sugar

1/4 teaspoon xantham gum

1/3 cup gluten-free oats

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup Earth Balance buttery spread (preferably in stick form – 1 stick), chilled and cut into small pieces

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and set Earth Balance out so it will be at room temp.

2. Line a 9″ pie pan with unbaked crust.

3. Sprinkle the apples with the lemon juice.

4. Mix the maple sugar and cinnamon together.

5. Toss the apples and cranberries with the cinnamon-sugar and fill the pie shell with apple mixture.

6. To make the streusel topping, mix Hi Protein blend, maple sugar, xanthan gum, oats, cinnamon and salt together in a medium bowl.

7. Add butter, rub n with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. This can also be made ahead of time fyi.

8. Sprinkle streusel topping over pie.

9. Bake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temp to 350 degrees F and bake until crumb topping is browned and apples are soft, approximately another 50 minutes.

10. Cool on rack completely and enjoy!

Serve this unbelievably good pie with some So Delicious dairy free vanilla ice cream and call it a night!!!

Hope everyone enjoys this pie recipe as much as I do! Let me know what your favorite holiday desserts are and if you’d like to see my “vegan girlfriend-ize” any classic holiday recipe for the blog!!

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

Classic Buttery Pie Crust

Last weekend I took a class at The Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City all about the art of gluten-free pie, tart and quiche making. It was absolutely incredible and I had so much fun creating several pies and tarts in NGI’s gorgeous and state-of-the-art facilities. What a treat it was so get such individual hands-on instruction and have such an amazing bounty of vegan ingredients at my finger tips!

 

The ingredient table!

Today I want to share with you what will surely be the base for several pie recipes to come: a delicious, vegan and gluten-free buttery pie crust recipe! You will 100% never know this pie crust isn’t loaded with butter and wheat – typical ingredients in your average pie. This crust is easy to make, oh-so-flaky, and perfect for any sweet or savory pie, tart or quiche creation you come up with. When gluten-free baking is this simple, you can have your pie and eat it too (or two… or three… whoopsies).

 

 

 

Classic Buttery Pie Crust

(yields 1 crust)

adapted from a class taught by Rebecca Reilly

  • 1 cup Hi Protein Blend (see recipe below)
  • 2 Tablespoons sweet rice flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 6 tablespoons cold Earth Balance buttery spread
  • 1/4 cup flax gel or 1 teaspoon agar
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar

 

Hi Protein Flour Blend (yields 4 1/4 cups):

  • 1 1/4 cups bean flour or chickpea flour
  • 1 cup arrowroot starch, cornstarch or potato starch
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 cup brown or white rice flour

Flour Blend Directions: Mix all flours together and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

 

Pie Crust Directions:

1. Mix the Hi Protein Blend, sweet rice flour, salt and xanthan gum together.

2. Using your finger tips, work the Earth Balance into the dry ingredients to form a coarse meal.

3. Make a well in the center and put the flax gel/egg replacer and vinegar in.  Mix together and incorporate the dry ingredients. Gather into a flat cake.

4. If the pastry is too soft to roll refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer.

5. Roll out pastry between 2 pieces cut from a large heavy-duty zip-lock bag or parchment paper. Use earth balance to butter a 9-inch removable bottom tart pan. Line the pan with the rolled pastry dough. Trim the edges or leave them rough if you are making a more rustic pie.

 

For blind-baking:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake dough for 12 minutes on the bottom rack. Cool slightly.

For baking with filling:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Placed the filled pie on the bottom rack and bake for 12 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 degrees F, raise the pie to the middle rack and continue baking for another 30 minutes or until done.

What I eventually filled my crust with.... recipe tomorrow!

This crust is so buttery and rich and makes an absolutely perfect canvas for all of your holiday pie creations! I could literally eat it straight up (and did).  I have some great recipes using this crust to share with you all soon, so stay tuned for some drool worth vegan and gluten-free treats later this week!

Hope everyone is having a great start to their final week in November! I have two and a half weeks left of school which will inevitably be insane (finals!) but then I will be free free free for two whole glorious weeks, to bake and cook to my vegan heart’s content! Weeeeeeeeeeee!! Looking forward to whipping up some vegan holiday cheer this December (where did the time go?!) as well as sharing some new fab vegan food and restaurant finds with you all. In the meantime, living off of Whole Foods hot bar dishes and homemade pie sounds incredible.

 

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

Chop’t

I had one of my favorite salads ever last weekend in mid-town New York City. Healthy restaurant chain, Chop’t, is a NYC eatery serving up create-your-own salads and sandwiches, as well as on the menu classic varieties. After an exhilarating afternoon at Bloomie’s, aka your vegan girlfriend’s wonderland, I stopped in for a quick bite to eat, and was absolutely wowed by the amazingly fresh, healthy and delicious meal I ate. Straight up salad heaven ovah here.

 

photo via chop't's website

 

Chop’t

165 E 52nd St
(between 3rd Ave & Lexington Ave)
New York, NY 10022

(212) 421-2300

The plethora of salad options! (photo credit: suzy says)

Chop’t has a Subway style counter and ordering protocol, and after careful review I decided I would create my own salad with their abundance of fresh vegetable options. I picked out my lettuce (romaine) and “choppings,” which included broccoli, corn, tomatoes, cucumber, hearts of palm, tofu, and oil marinated tomatoes. I eagerly watched the counter dude and “chef” add all my hand-picked ingredients one by one to an enormous salad bowl and then he got to chopping. Not just any knife is used to chop up these salads. No, a huge rounded handled cleaver gets quickly oscilated over your mound of greens. It was so cool to see my salad turn into a chopped masterpiece right before my eyes! There are a huge amount of salad dressings to choose from as well, and I went for the classic balsamic. I paid and dug in!

My custom salad and the complimentary pita bread

Bah was this good! The salad was HUGE and initially I thought “no way can I eat all of this.”  Not so surprisingly, I did. Oh yeah. And loved every single bite.

Salad sans pita - isn't she a beaut!

Love love love this quick, healthy and affordable chain in New York! I wish LA had these – they would do so well!

Another NYC meal success! Can’t wait to share some more!!

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

Recharge Healthy Kitchen

As I’ve said before, one of my favorite things about New York is the abundant delivery options available at pretty much all hours of the day and night. Last Thursday I decided to get lunch delivered (jeez it was cold!), browsing Seamless Web for some healthy options. I decided on, what looked like, a very promising eatery called Recharge Healthy Kitchen on the Upper East Side. I used my Seamless iPhone app, placed an order and patiently awaited what I hoped would be a great start to my weekend culinary crusade. About an hour later, the door bell rang, and I was ready to get my single lady lunch party started.

 

 

Recharge Healthy Kitchen

1452 2nd Ave
(between 75th St & 76th St)
New York, NY 10021

(212) 288-2533

 

 

With plenty of vegan, vegetarian and generally healthy menu options, I had an array of goodies to choose from. I decided on one of my favorite “can’t mess up” meals: a veggie burger over a salad. I also ordered a giant side of hummus because it’s amazing.

Veggie Burger Salad

The veggie burger patty itself was utterly delicious! It had chunks of carrots, peas, and edamame, and an encouragingly green tint.  The house salad it was served over wasn’t anything too special – the cucumbers were especially watery but the balsamic dressing was tasty and when I smothered the greens with the two large servings of dressing my order came with, this entrée turned out to be a big thumbs up.

 

The hummus was also a winner and I all too generously smothered it on my salad as well – double the dressing, double the fun. The salad also came with whole wheat pita great for extra hummus dipping!

Hummus

The hummus was heavy on the tahini, light on the oil, and felt like a guilt free indulgence perfect for lunch.  This thicker than normal version was uber filling as well; I definitely had leftovers.

 

Lunch was a definite win and required nothing more than an iPhone click to fulfill my vegan foodie needs. With Seamless Web co-signing my laziness, I enjoyed the perfect Fall lunch in the city: indoors, with the heat blasting and stuffing my face with vegan goodness. You can take the girlfriend out of LA, but you can’t take the LA out of your vegan girlfriend:)

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

Candle 79

Here is the review you have all been waiting for! My epic weekend in NYC would not have been complete without a trip to famed vegan eatery, Candle 79, and I am thrilled to report that it did not disappoint. Candle 79’s philosophy is “To share our passion of vegan, organic, and seasonal cuisine, while eliminating dependence on animals as a food source and minimizing our carbon footprint” – a mission I was happy to support with my huge appetite.

photo credit: ny times

Candle 79

154 E 79th St
New York, NY 10075

(212) 537-7179

Candle 79’s interior reminded me of an intimate dinner party, with its bi-leveled seating and dim and romantic lighting setting the mood for a perfect date night. There is a relaxing and laid back energy that hits you as soon as you step in the door, with a full service bar serving an interesting variety of organic spirits. My date and I were seated in an intimate nook by the floor to ceiling windows, which gave me an added opportunity to take in the New York City landscape.

photo credit: planet eye traveler

Although the service was a little slow our waiter was knowledgable and attentive.
The chef brought my date and me a little amuse bouche of quinoa, sprinkled with shredded carrots and topped with what I think was an avocado cream.

Off the menu quinoa amuse bouche

I loved this mildly flavored mini-app. This treat set the pace for the delicious items I was about to experience.
When it came time to order we started with some apps: the polenta fries and brussel sprouts.

Polenta fries served with ketchup and my special requested side of chipotle aoli

These fries (and we all know my sick obsession with any and every kind of fry) were absolutely marvelous and some of the most delicious and inventive kind of fries I have ever eaten. Hearty, crisp and perfectly greased, I would eat this whole order as a meal and be perfectly satisfied.

Herb-roasted brussel sprouts

Although brussel sprouts have many a hater, I absolutely love this vegetable and order it whenever I can. Candle 79’s take on classically roasted brussel sprouts was clean and modest, allowing the vegetable and not the seasoning to really shine through. Sometimes the simplest take on vegetable prep is the best and this dish was a homage to that philosophy. Not too greasy and perfectly charred, I had to force myself not to pop all of these in my mouth before my date could take a bite. Yummmm.
For our entrees we decided to split two menu items that looked especially promising: the Seitan Picata and the Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Cake.

Seitan Piccata: creamed spinach, grilled potato cake, oyster mushrooms, lemon-caper sauce

Although I normally stay away from seitan due to the fact that it’s pure wheat gluten, I had heard too many amazing things about this dish not to try it and risk the stomach-ache. Okay how do I even begin? This was UNREAL. Like maybe one of the best vegan dishes I have ever had in my life ever ever. Not only is it an absolute MUST ORDER but it would top my vegan bucket list if I lived in NYC. Seriously, numbah one. And I did not get a stomach-ache! Winning!!

Guys, this is seriously perfect. Melt in your mouth buttery and tender seitan, a crispy a delicate potato cake, luscious and rich creamed spinach, and the salty and tangy piccata sauce all dance together on your taste buds to create the perfect merriment of flavor, texture and heaven. Can we talk about how good this is for four more hours, because I literally could. Just order it. Trust me.

The chickpea cake was also excellent and a lovely textural juxtaposition to the creaminess of the piccata.

Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Cake - seasonal vegetables, red pepper-coconut curry, date spiced ginger chutney, toasted almonds

The gluten-free chickpea cake had a crispy fried crust that encased its tender and delicate center. The broccoli and cauliflower nestled underneath the golden patty were lightly steamed and tasted divine when dipped in the flavorful red pepper-coconut curry sauce surrounding the dish. I sincerely enjoyed this entrée but my heart forever belongs to that piccata. Swoon.

My dining companion for the night loved this dish which was so exciting because he is so far from vegan it’s almost frightening (he may or may not have had a mc rib earlier in the day – yeesh). He actually loved both of our entrees so much he left saying, “This vegan thing isn’t so bad after all…” WIN! I love when self-proclaimed “never could be vegan”s see how flavorful and hearty vegan meals can be!

Sadly we were both so incredibly stuffed we did not order dessert, but the new friends we made sitting next to us did and raved about the chocolate peanut butter bliss – the item I plan on beginning my meal with next time I have the pleasure of dining at Candle 79.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Bliss - chocolate mousse, peanut butter mousse, chocolate shell, berry coulis

I had such a lovely evening at Candle 79 this past weekend. It lived up to all my foodie expectations, and then exceeded them. I can’t recommend this restaurant highly enough for vegan and meat-eaters alike! This is a great place to take anyone who enjoys fresh, organic, seasonal and inventive cuisine regardless of their dietary preferences. I can’t wait to go back and try more!!  The seitan piccata will be in my dreams until then.

Hope everyone is enjoying the start to their Thanksgiving holiday! Can’t wait to share more NYC eats with you all soon!

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

Epic Eats in NYC

Hello long lost readers!

I am back from my New York City trip and have so many amazing dining experiences and a bounty of gluten-free pie and tart recipes to share! Before I dive into each experience I wanted to give you all a teaser of my weekend in pictures to get a taste (literally) of what’s to come!

HIGHLIGHTS include…..

This amazing handmade veggie burger in a salad delivered to me in the comfort of my temporary digs for the weekend:

The famed seitan Picata at Candle 79:

An epic gluten-free cranberry apple pie with strussel topping I made all by myself care of The Natural Gourmet Institute:

An incredible “create my own” salad I had before a crazy fun Soul Cycle spinning class:

And the best cold sesame noodles I have ever had from Tang’s Garden on the Upper East Side:

Anddd I’m hungry again just looking at my pics, bah!

 

Can’t wait to share these wonderful food experiences in-depth and tell you all about my NGI class. Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend; it’s good to be back!!

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

Cranberry Recipe Round Up

It’s that time of the week again where I bring you the most delectable themed recipes from around the web! This week I chose cranberries for the honorary “secret ingredient.”. Cranberries are perfect for the holidays and one of the only fruits I actually like (probably due to the tart not sweet quality). This seasonal berry is so versatile and nutrient rich it’s a must use for cooks of every kind. Let’s get started!

 

The Jolly Fox’s Cranberry Bars

Meet The Shannon’s Vegan Venison with Cranberry and Red Wine Sauce

Angela from Oh She Glow’s Cranberry, Apricot and Pecan Wild Rice Pilaf

Allyson from Manifest Vegan’s Cranberry Cupcakes with Clementine Frosting

Susan from Fat Free Vegan’s Fresh Cranberry Sorbet

Isa Chandra from Post Punk Kitchen’s Orange Cranberry Muffins

Kathy from Lunch Box Bunch’s Cranberry Soy Sauce Tofu Steaks

Cathe from Veg Family’s Cranberry-Sweet Potato Cookies

Veganizzm’s Sweet and Savory Apple Cranberry Almond Quinoa

Addicted to Veggie’s Raw Vegan Cranberry Sauce and Cheesecake Bites

Julia from Julia’s Vegan Kitchen’s Deep Fried Stuffing Balls and Cranberry Ginger Sauce (oh my am I drooling)

Sunny Vegan’s Cranberry and Lemon Scones of Love

Hannah from Bittersweet’s Cranberry and Cornmeal Pancakes

It Aint Meat Babe’s Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins

Vegan Yum Yum’s traditional Jellied Cranberry Sauce

The Cake Dutchess’ Maple Apple-Cranberry Crisp

Miriam from Sometime I Veg’s Fig and Cranberry Tart

Brittany from Real Sustenance’s Gluten Free Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake with a Chocolate Oreo Crust (um making this now)

Vegetarian Times’ Brussel Sprouts with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts

Whole Foods Market’s Wild Rice-Cranberry Stuffing with Walnuts

Susan from Rawmazing’s Pumpkin Cranberry Ginger Parfaits

Ricki from Diet Dessert and Dogs’ Butterscotch Blondies with Chocolate Chip and Dried Cranberries

Elana from Elana’s Pantry Creamy Cranberry Dressing

Hannah from Wayfaring Chocolate’s Jewelled Maple, Cranberry and Coconut Granola

Vegalicious’ Cranberry Orange Biscuits

 

The end!

 

Hope this helps everyone is gear up for a very vegan Tofurkey day! Have a great rest of the week!

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

Current Obsession: WFM Venice’s Sweet Potato Wedges

I think at this point I’m pretty confident that I have fervently established my sick obsession with french fries, sweet potato fries and any kind of fried stick in general. When it comes to indulgences, I’m the kind of girl who would rather have a huge plate of cheese fries than a piece of chocolate cake. Always on the hunt for the perfect fry, I’ve tried french fries at almost every restaurant offering them as well as experimented with making my own baked versions.

WFM Vence wedges > any version I've ever made

If you live in LA and/or don’t feel like making your own fries (which is usually the case ovah here) drive on over to the Whole Foods Market in Venice, where almost every single day and evening they shovel out piping hot sweet potato wedges better than any sweet potato fry I have ever savored in my life. I consider WFM Venice trips a liability at this point, because I can no longer go there without getting a cart-full of these out of the hot bar.

I don't have a good picture but these are exactly what they look like - can't miss em!

Sooooo good SOOOOO! Hands down best sweet potato fries I have ever eaten in my life! Thick cut, golden and not too greasy, WFM Venice’s sweet potato wedges are the empitome of fried perfection.

TWO HUGE (not grease covered) THUMBS UP! Can we pretend these are healthy?? Thanks.

 

Hope everyone has an indulgent Monday care of these babies!!

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

Cooks County

(photo cred: la times)

Whenever my girlfriends and I try new restaurants I always feel a little dread.  Will they have vegan options? Will my order sound annoying? Can they make me something off the menu? Ugh. I wish every restaurant was as accommodating as Hugo’s but sadly they are not. Luckily more and more regular ole’ restaurants are offering veggie centric dishes these days so even your vegan girlfriend can eat pretty much anywhere. Last night my best friends and I tried the newly opened Cooks County, a farmer’s market and very Californian inspired bistro on Beverly.

Cooks County

8009 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Neighborhoods: Mid-City West, West Hollywood

(323) 653-8009

Hours: Mon-Fri 12 pm – 2:30 pm. Mon-Wed 5:30 pm – 12 am, Thu 5:30 pm – 1 am, Fri-Sat 5:30 pm – 2 am. Sat-Sun 11 am – 3 pm, Sun 5:30 pm – 12:30 am

(photo cred: la times)

The space is intimate treading the fine line of small even, but I didn’t feel at all cramped and love the cozy atmosphere. We made a rezzie and were seated immediately right beside their sprawling open kitchen. Romantic lighting and exposed wood gave the interior a rustic feel yet still managed to be enticing enough for a date night or fancy evening with a group. 

(photo credit: la grove living)

As far as vegan options went their menu didn’t have a ton, which made ordering pretty easy.  All of their salads can be made without cheese to make them vegan, as well as their vegetable sides. The only entrée that could be made vegan was their chickpea and squash pancake, a delicious sounding creation I enthusiastically ordered from our attentive waitress.

Chickpea and squash pancake, purslane salad - made vegan

This was simply fantastic.  Not too heavy but bursting with flavor, the pancake itself was golden brown and savory.  When eaten as a “full bite” shall we say, with the purslane salad and chickpeas that garnished the pancake, my mouth was in vegan heaven.  The purslane salad was a tiny bit bitter and had some lemony notes as well, a beautiful and refreshing compliment to the heavier sweetness of the pancake.  It was such an unusual and creative concept and presentation and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
I also got a side of the grilled sprouting broccoli sautéed in chili oil.

Grilled sprouting broccoli, garlic and chili

I really loved this, also. The slight spiciness of the chili gave my all time favorite vegetable an even heartier feel. My only qualm is that perhaps the chef was a little heavy-handed with the oil, but that seems to be pretty standard in all restaurants (ie: the more oil the better). However, I would absolutely recommend this side as a lovely addition to your vegan meal.
I had a wonderful experience at Cooks County and would absolutely return. New and trendy restaurants that cater to vegans and meat eaters alike? Please and thank you:)
xoxo
Your Vegan Girlfriend

Restaurant Recreations: La Scala’s Chopped Salad

If you are an Angeleno then you know all about the wonder that is the chopped salad from La Scala. I literally grew up on this thing, making trips with my girlfriends almost weekly in high school to either Brentwood or Beverly Hills to devour the world’s greatest chopped salad ever created. It’s a tall order I know, but anyone who’s had it will undoubtedly agree (even my beloved Gwyneth is a fan).

La Scala's famous, and very un-vegan, Chopped Salad (care of the Goop newsletter)

I stopped eating pig (they are smarter than dogs!) years and years ago, which unfortunately is a key ingredient in this brilliant chopped. Since going fully vegan I haven’t indulged in La Scala’s chopped, as eating mainly oiled ice burg lettuce does not sound very appetizing, but I fondly relish my memories of salad days past. Well last night I decided to reminisce no longer and take this monster of a chopped into my own vegan hands. The results? The world’s best vegan chopped salad EVER. Seriously. So good I could cry. And for those of us who have had the La Scala chopped, my version has an uncanny and almost creepy likeness to the meat and dairy-filled version. This healthful and cruelty free version of the restaurant classic will fool even your meat-eating friends and leave you asking yourself how you could possibly eat the same salad every single day for the rest of your life and be happy. And I would. And plan to. Thanks.

 

Chopped Salad ala La Scala

(serves 2)

  • 1 package pre-washed romaine lettuce
  • 1 roma tomato
  • 4 large sprigs of basil
  • 1/2 cup garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup daiya mozzarella style shreds
  • 4 slice Yves vegan salami
  • 3 Tablespoons Annie’s Lite Italian Dressing (or make your own by mixing 2 parts oil, 1 part red wine vinegar and 1/4 part dijon mustard to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste

The ingredients!

Finely chop the lettuce, tomato, basil and vegan salami and add to a large bowl.

Add the cheese and garbanzo beans, toss with the dressing, garnish with an olive if desired, and serve!

Nutrition Facts: 241 calories, 9.2 g fat, 6 g fiber, 5.5 g sugar, 14.1 g protein.

If you want to make this even “lighter” cut back on the daiya and the dressing. I made sure I added lots of “cheese” to make it as authentically La Scala-esque as possible (plus daiya is so unbelievably delicious so the more daiya the merrier your vegan girlfriend tends to be).

Your new favorite lunch has arrived.

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

Chips and Dip Cookies!

Football season is upon us my friends and that means game day themed snacks are gonna be happening in my kitch.   I was inspired by game day snacks and made cookies that encompassed a few of the typical “watching football drinking a beer” snack food. I combined peanut butter cookies, potato chips, salted nuts and chocolate to create the ultimate chip and dip cookie! It’s a lot … in a really good way.  The salty and sweet in this crunchy cookie dynamo beautifully compliment each other leaving your palate fully satiated and you licking your fingers. Warning: this is NOT a “healthy” recipe.  I finished midterms and felt like indulging and figured any game day calls for a little decadence, no? G-men would approve.

Chips and Dip Cookies

(yields 15)

(adapted from my Sunbutter Cookie recipe here and inspired by Betty Crocker’s recipe here)

  • 1 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup light agave nectar
  • 2 Tablespoons Earth Balance
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • scant 1 cup potato chips, crushed
  • heaping 1/3 cup dry roasted and salted peanuts or mixed nuts, chopped
  • 3/4 cups vegan chocolate chips
  • 2 Tablespoons So Delicious coconut milk
  • coconut oil spray

Some of the ingredients (sans chips, coconut milk and cooking spray – whoopsies) but you get the idea

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl combine almond flour, salt and baking soda.
In a medium bowl mix together peanut butter, agave, earth balance and vanilla with a hand mixer.
Blend dry ingredients into wet with hand mixer until well combined.
Gently fold in crushed potato chips and combine.
Form dough into golf ball sized balls one at a time and place onto a coconut oil sprayed parchment lined baking sheet.
Flatten using the back of a fork.  It may help to spray your fork with cooking spray or wet it with water since the cookies are very very sticky!
Bake at 350° for 6-8 minutes (6 in my oven) until golden around the edges.
Let cool for 3 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Chop your nuts and set aside.
In a small bowl melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in 30 second increments, for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes (or do this over low heat on the stove if you are opposed to using the microwave). Once melted, stir in 2 tablespoons of the So Delicious coconut milk to form a more workable chocolate consistency.
Set up your assembly line of cookies, chocolate and chopped nuts and get to dippin!
I tried several different methods of “dipping” the cookies, and because they are so delicate, I found the best way is to use a small spoon to “paint” on the chocolate, set the coated cookie  on a sheet of wax paper and then sprinkle the nuts on top. It’s quite effective and will ensure your cookies do not fall apart!

The finished product!

Assemble your cookies and enjoy!
Serve these decadent treats as part of your next tailgate, game day, or make ’em just cause you feel like having the most unique and mouth-watering cookie of your life!

Cookie to the face!

Nutritional Facts (per cookie): 258 calories, 18.4 g fat, 2.8 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 6.1 g protein.
Bring these cookies to your next game day party and promise you’ll score a touch down with all the guys … heyyyyyy!!!!

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

Sunday Brunch at RFD

Brunch is one of the best inventions ever. Any excuse to eat breakfast foods at all hours of the day and I’m there. Breakfast foods are the ultimate comfort foods but finding them veganized can be tricky when dining out. This weekend my parents and I went to brunch at Real Food Daily in Santa Monica – one of my fav vegan restaurants in general but my #1 destination for vegan brunch in LA. My absolute favorite order here is The Weekender – a crazy combo plate of pancakes or french toast, tofu scrambled and smothered in cashew cheese, tempeh bacon, hash browns or fruit. Woah.

The Weekender - Scrambled tofu, onions, tomatoes, cashew cheese, tempeh bacon, half order french toast OR two pancakes with hash browns or fruit (pancakes here)

Switch it up and get the french toast which is the better option in my opinion, although both the pancakes and french toast are solid and never disappoint. RFD actually has some of the best french toast I’ve ever had, and the Weekender with said french toast is an absolute must order. Holy yum.

The Weekender - Scrambled tofu, onions, tomatoes, cashew cheese, tempeh bacon, half order french toast OR two pancakes with hash browns or fruit (with french toast!)

Or, if you are feeling like committing carbocide, do as my father does and get the full order of french toast on its own!

FRENCH TOAST - Rustic bread soaked in vanilla soy flaxseed batter

If you’re in the mood for some greens I highly suggest starting your meal with RFD’s delicious Sweet Green Juice! It’s so nutrient dense and satisfying and makes me feel a little less guilty about the no-joke brunch plate I’m about to take to the face.

Sweet Green – cucumber, celery, kale, parsley, spinach, apple

RFD is where it’s at for vegan brunch period amen. If you haven’t been there for it you must must must go this weekend! No time to waste when it comes to vegan brunch! Seriously you will thank me…. and I will prob see you there. They serve brunch on Sundays until 3 pm! Weeeeeee!

Anyone else have a favorite vegan brunch spot. Hugo’s is up there for me too…. mmmmm Hugo’s.

And I PROMISEEEEEE I will have a recipe or two for you all this week! Midterms are almost over and I will be able to breathe/bake again! Can’t wait!!!!!

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

Sweet Potato Recipe Round Up

Hi friends!!

 

Last week I failed to bring you a recipe round up, so I thought I’d start the week by delivering the goods. This week I wanted to focus on sweet potatoes because they are wonderful year round but super in season this holiday, a huge incentive to get cookin! I love sweet potatoes (read: sweet potato fries) so now I bring to you the sweet potato recipe round up! Enjoy!

 

Let’s start with my two favorite Sweet Potato recipes I have made:

Here’s my almost oil free skinny version of Sweet Potato Hummus

and these incredible Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers care of Ashley at The Edible Perspective

Allyson from Manifest Vegan’s Sweet Potato Tart with Maple Icing

The most insane concoction I’ve ever seen: Sweet Potato and Kale Gratin with vegan Gruyère cheese and vegan Béchamel sauce

Isa Chandra from The Post Punk Kitchen’s Chipotle Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts

Angela from Oh She Glows’ Sweet Potato Falafel Balls

Gena from Choosing Raw’s Sweet Potato and Beet Nori Rolls

Susan from Fat Free Vegan’s Shiitake, Sweet Potato and Zucchini Foo Young

AND her classic Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping perfect for the Holidays

Mama Pea from Peas And Thank You’s Curried Sweet Tater Tot Casserole (gotta love the tots)

Leanne from Healthful Pursuit’s Sweet Potato Carob Chip Cookies

Miriam from Sometimes I Veg’s Sweet Potato Stew

Kathy from Lunch Box Bunch’s Sweet Potato Tofu Hash

Lindsay from The Happy Herbivore’s Whole Wheat and Sweet Potato Biscuits

Allie of Live Laugh Eat’s Sweet Potato Breakfast Cookies

Carolyn from The Healthy Voyager’s Sweet Potato Pancakes with Cinnamon Maple Sage Butter

Joel from Vegan Good Eats’ Picarones or Squash Sweet Potato Fritters

Vegan Soul Power’s Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Isa Chandra’s Sweet Potato Blondies care of 6 Bittersweets

Izzy from Veganizzm’s Sweet Potato Black Bean Empanadas

Veggie Grettie’s Sweet Potato Ice Cream

Nannette from Nannette In The Raw’s Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Donuts

Sala from Veggie Belly’s super creative Sweet Potato Samosa Pops

Meet The Shannons’ Creole Spiced Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Soup with Vegan Parmesan Croutons

Caroline from The G-Spot Revolution’s Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Cupcakes (great tag line btdubs)

The Chubby Vegan’s Sweet Potato Lasagna

Tina from Your Vegan Mom’s Sweet Potato Pecan Muffins

Vanilla and Spice’s Coconut Sweet Potato Pie

Vaishail from Holy Cow Vegan’s Savory Sweet Potato Quiche

Ashley and Stephen from (never home)maker’s Sweet Potato Ravioli with Tofu Ricotta

The Vegan Cook Book Aficionado’s Curried Sweet Potato Soup with Yogurt Biscuits

Abby from Eat Drink and Beware’s Sweet Potato and Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

Delish Your Dish’s Coconut Curry Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Crusts (how redic does that sound!)

 

The end!!

Hope everyone has a great start to the week and I PROMISE to have recipes this week. Gosh I’ve missed cooking! When life gets hectic, make cookies!!!! (hint hint hint)

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

 

 

Good Health Cafe

It’s 8:30 pm on a Sunday night in New York City. I’m on the Upper East Side, famished and without much guidance as far as delivery options go. I need food and I need it now. So what’s your vegan girlfriend to do? I hit up Seamless Web – an amazing resource for New Yorkers that displays all the delivery options available in your neighborhood that you can sort by rating, cuisine, currently delivering and more. The first hit under vegan is Good Health Cafe. The name fits the bill, I take my chances and place an order.

 

Good Health Cafe

1435 1st Ave
(between 74th St & 75th St)
New York, NY 10021

(212) 517-9898

With a wide range of vegan options I had a little trouble choosing what to order, but after my super indulgent weekend, I knew I better keep it healthy.

 

I ordered a taco app (what is it with me and Mexican food in NY???) and a veggie and tofu salad. The delivery took about 45 minutes, I unwrapped my goodies and I dug in!

 

First I tried the tacos which came stuffed with vegan chili, cheese, guac and salsa.

Soft Taco Supreme - Meatless chili, dairy-free sour cream, Cheddar cheese, pico de gallo and guacamole.

Uh-oh. The chili reminded me a little too much of Chef Boyardee … or what I think spaghetti-o’s sauce tastes like. What was this generic tomato pastey like substance masquerading as vegan chilli??? Past the chilli, overall this taco wasn’t bad, but I certainly won’t be racing back to NY to order it again. Edible not incredible.

Next I dug into my salad: a medley of grilled veggies and baked tofu over romaine.

Grilled Vegetable Salad with Baked Tofu: Tossed grilled vegetables and spiced tofu served over greens.

Okay so this was a lot smaller than I had anticipated. For a supposed entrée salad this was really more of an app. It was pretty standard and had really good carrot ginger dressing. The tofu was good but it was a little bland and reminded me of the Wildwood prepackaged tofu I buy at whole foods. In fact, it very well could have been. Again, nothing to get too excited about and not something I’m dying to eat again, but hit the hungry vegan girlfriend spot.

The one saving grace of my dinner was the few pieces of kabocha squash hiding in my salad.

My dear friend kabocha.

Kabocha = life.

I don’t love writing less than stellar reviews for restaurants. It makes me feel guilty and kind of mean. That being said, I am dedicated to honestly reviewing and tasting as much vegan food out there as possible so that other plant-based peeps don’t have to, or in the good cases, race to! So if that means giving some restaurants thumbs down so be it.

I love that there was a place that offered both vegan and non-vegan healthy options right near where I was staying and I applaud them for putting so many vegan options on their menu. Sadly, vegan options does not a happy vegan make. Hopefully Good Health will revamp their dishes and please this picky vegan girlfriend’s palate the next time I decide to roll the dice at Good Health Cafe. And hey, if not, there are only about 1938298354738942578923 other restaurants for me to try in New York:)

On a blog note, apologies for the lack of recipes lately. With traveling, mid-terms and BIG LIFE CHANGES (that I promise to spill soon) I haven’t been able to whip up any treats. But you all know when I go on a cooking hiatus it usually means something extra crazy, extra decadent and extra fattening is right around the corner. Hooray! Stay tuned ya’ll my news is crazy and I can’t wait to share!!

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

Brand New Vegan Menu at The Four Seasons’ Windows Lounge

The Four Seasons is a real class act. They recently had a private event for a select few vegan super stars if you will, and by some crazy fluke they asked me to be one of their guests. This event was basically a who’s who in the vegan world with such amazing diners as John Salley of Pistons fame, celebrity chefs and my bloggie bff Bess from I Dream Of Greenie!

Executive chef Ashley with John!

We all gathered at The Windows Lounge, located inside the hotel, to sample chef Ashley’s brand new VEGAN STREAT menu items inspired by his favorite street foods.

Here’s what we had!

Jicama tostadas:

Jicama tostadas: crispy corn tostada, roasted tomatillo salsa, jicama cilantro slaw, avocado 8

I came late due to class so this was actually the only menu item I didn’t get to taste. Looks bomb though….

Morelian Gazpacho salad:

In the far right --- Morelian Gazpacho salad: jicama, watermelon, papaya, pineapple, cucumber, orange juice, chilli salt 9

I thought this soup/salad take on gazpacho was so unique! It was super fruity and refreshing and made for a great palate cleanser in between the other dishes.

Young Hollywood salad:

Young Hollywood salad: Farmers market greens, strawberries, blueberries, avocado, cucumbers, tomatoes, hemp seeds, Napa wine vinaigrette.

I’m not a big fruit in my salad type of girlfriend so this wasn’t necessarily my jam, but when I picked around the blueberries and strawberries it soon became it. I loved the dressing and the hemp seeds that smothered this light and fresh starter. The avocado, cucumber and tomato chunks gave it a bit of a Greek feel too!

French Fries!!!:

Real fries: the best fries in the City, Chef Ashley’s house made ketchup 9 (sorry for the blurry cell phone pic!)

We all know how I feel about french fries, and these suckers were no exception. Super crispy and thickly cut steak style fries totally delivered on flavor, especially with the awesome addition of larger than usual salt flakes. Yum.

Hand made quesadillas with corn and mushrooms:

Hand made quesadilla with corn and mushrooms: corn tortilla, soy cheese, charred corn, mushrooms, onion, cilantro, salsa Molcajete 12

This quesadilla was BOMBBBBBBBB. Love love loved it and would say it’s absolutely a must order especially with those dope house made tortillas!

Eggplant coconut curry:

Eggplant coconut curry: crispy pappadums 12 (again sorry for the blurry cell pic!)

This was by far my favorite dish of the night. This curry was simply to die for and probably the best curry I have ever tasted. MUST MUST MUST order. This could be a bucket list maker…

For dessert the chef served us two little tastes of potential dishes to add to the menu which, after the great response, have officially been added!

Mini vegan chocolate chip cookie with chocolate pot de creme from the Four Seasons' Pastry Chef Federico Fernandez

The pot de creme was a little too rich for my taste but the cookie was simply marvelous. In fact, when dipped into the chocolate mini mousse, this kind of became the best dessert evah. Cookie monstah.

All and all this was a lovely evening with an incredibly diverse and sophisticated menu. This is a great place to come with your girls or a date for drinks and apps before a night out and I will absolutely be a repeat customer. Thanks Four Seasons for creating such a wonderful vegan tasting menu!

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

Blockheads Burritos

NYC and Mexican food don’t exactly correlate in my mind. We are seriously spoiled in LA with all the amazing Mexican options and as a result I tend to think of myself as a bit of a Mexican snob. This weekend when my friend gushed about the burritos at Blockheads I was enthusiastically skeptical: love Mexican, love burritos, don’t love being underwhelmed. Well let me tell you guys I might just up and move to NYC to eat this burrito again (hey wait a minute…)

 

Blockheads Burritos

1563 2nd Ave
(between 81st St & 82nd St)
New York, NY 10028

(212) 879-1999

I can’t comment on the ambiance since I got delivery from this little burrito wonder spot, which let me say, New York really has going for them. If I had a burrito this good that I could conceivably eat without lifting a finger at all times of the night/day here in LA, your vegan girlfriend would probably gain 100 plus pounds of pure burrito. Just sayin. Blockheads also has six NYC locations so really anywhere you are in the city you can get one of these euphoric bad boys.
Blockheads offers several vegan options of their colossus burritos, which are literally the size of a small baby. My friend ordered a regular sized one (which I was literally floored to see the size of) and I ordered their “mini burrito” special (thank goodness): half of a burrito of your choice and a fresh salad. So obvious.
I picked a grilled tofu burrito with vegan cheese that cames stuffed with black beans, brown rice, salsa and veggies. OMFGGGGGGGG was this incredible. The vegan cheese was so melty and the burrito was piping hot just the way I like it. Guys I seriously died and went to burrito heaven. Two huge enthusiastic salsa covered thumbs up. MUST MUST MUST order like fly to NYC right now must order. That good.
They also offer spinach burritos, grilled veggie burritos, three bean chili, bean and rice burritos and more, so you can really rotate your burrito fillings as to not get sick of one combo since you will now be eating here every day.
Still in a NYC/burrito state of mind…
xoxo
Your Vegan Girlfriend

World Vegan Day!

Today is offically World Vegan Day!

Here is a little history about how World Vegan Day came to be:

In 1944, in the UK, Donald Watson took the first and last letters of the word “vegetarian,” and created the word “vegan” to indicate being vegetarian from beginning to end – (not only not eating any animals, but also not eating any products that come from animals, not using any products that come from animals, and simply not using animals for our human purposes – true Ahimsa, “dynamic harmlessness”).
Certainly there were those who had such beliefs and lived by such committed values long before 1944, but, up until that time, there was not a single word with such meaning.

Watson entered the word into the lexicon and also registered the first Vegan Society, in Britain, on November 1, 1944.
Thus, World Vegan Day, a special annual holiday celebrating vegan living, is celebrated on November 1st each year.
It is celebrated with festivals around the country and all around the world.

For all my LA peeps, today there is a celebration in Encino from 6:30 to 9:30 pm with yummy vegan vendors, activities, silent auctions and vendors! Check out all the deets here.

I have class tonight and then I have my own special plans to celebrate this amazing “holiday” which I will gladly spill all about later this week!

And hey, even if you can’t make it, your vegan girlfriend thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to make every day world vegan day:) Enjoy!

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

Healthy Eats at the Airport

I”M BACK!!!!!!!!!!

As you all know I went to NYC for the weekend and I will have fun posts to share about that in the next couple of days. Today I wanted to highlight how to eat healthy whilst traveling, especially for those flying across country. Eating healthy on the go can be a challenge in general but when you are traveling and starving at the airport it’s even easier to make unhealthy food choices. I got to the airport this morning at 6 am. I was starving and knew I had a long long flight ahead of me so I went into one of the grocery-esque shops at JFK in my terminal to check out the goods.

 

There were lots of vegan friendly snack/energy bars which is always a solid choice in a pinch.

There was also vegan friendly granola and plantain chips, yum!

I finally settled on a bit of a vegan shmorges board if you will, which included some veggies, a Kind Bar, vegan friendly granola and a cultured almond milk yogurt.

With airport options like these there’s no reason to reach for the cookies or unhealthy and non-vegan snacks!

 

What are everyone’s favorite snacks on the go?

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

 

 

Impromptu trip to NYC!

This is a quick post to let everyone know I am in NYC this weekend! I wasn’t planning on going until next month, which I still am, but last minute I decided to make a trip…. So today through Monday morning I will be in the Big Apple livin’ it up! Due to access issues (read: not tryin’ to spend vacay typing on the laptop) your vegan girlfriend is gonna take a four day hiatus. Not to fear readers, I will be back with lots of eats and adventures Monday and hopefully some Halloween pictures as well!

 

Here are some fun ones from Halloween’s past:

Army Chick -- not my finest in the creativity department

 

Poisin Ivy! I made this costume recycling the one above by hot-gluing leaves all over it. Took forever but I felt super creative and it turned out great. Win.

I love Halloween! Tinkerbell is def gonna use those little green shorts again for her outfit. Love recycling. Can.Not.Wait.

 

So while I’m gone, make sure to check out vegan mofo for all the latest in vegan eats from around the web! Bon Voyage! (Or wait maybe that’s what you are supposed to say to me ….)

 

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend

 

 

Halloween Recipe Round Up

Another Wednesday another recipe round up! In honor of Halloween festivities this weekend which may include parties for you all, I decided to do a Halloween themed round up post! Here we go!

Manifest Vegan’s Rolled Sugar Cookie Eyeballs

Hannah from Bitter Sweet’s Perfect Pumpkins

Chef Chloe’s Witches Fingers

VegSpinz’s Homemade Lemon Flavored Candy Corn

Vegan Mischief’s Pumpkin Pie with a Spider Web Crust

Fork And Beans’ Graveyard Salad

Isa Chandra from The Post Punk Kitchen’s Peanut Butter Carmel Apples

Weekly Vegan Menu’s Halloween Stuffed Biscuts

Wing-It Vegan’s Happy Vegan Ghosts

Fresh 4 Five’s Pumpkin Crispy Balls

Hardcore Herbivore’s Spider Web Pizza

Novel Eat’s Candy Corn Parfait

Vegan Calling’s Creepy Critter Cupcakes

Chef Chloe’s Haunted Halloween Layer Cake

Lexie’s Kitchen’s Banana Mummy Bites

Happy Go Lucky Vegan’s Spooky Pumpkin Buscuits

Kathy from Lunch Box Bunch’s (via The Family Kitchen) Halloween Cupcakes

Fork and Bean’s Creepy Crudites

VegSPinz’s Fried Wonton Ghosts

G Living’s Raw Vegan Halloween Cookies

Susan from Fat Free Vegan’s Spooky Black Bean Hummus

Go Vegan Meow’s Chocolate Spider Cupcakes

The Spooky Vegan’s Jack-o-lantern Sandwich Cookies

The Girly Girl Army’s Dracula Bite Halloween Cupcakes

Gourmeted’s Mummified Spanakopita

Leane from Healthful Pursuit’s Sugar-Free Frozen Boo-nana Pops

And check out Veg New’s official guide to Vegan Halloween Candy!

 

Hope everyone is as excited for the one day we all dress up in public as I am! I am going as Tinkerbell this year – putting a little vegan magic into the atmosphere with muh wand. And now everyone has plenty of vegan tricks-n-treats to make!

 

xoxo

Your Vegan Girlfriend