Vegan Father’s Day BBQ

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When I think of Father’s Day, I think of my father’s famous BBQ’s. He loves grilling meat on a grill, but ever since I’ve been vegan he’s been more open to grilling veggies as well. In fact, he has perfected the art of grilled broccoli, so much so that even my teenage step-brothers beg for seconds of his home-made barbecued broccoli. So, keep reading to discover his amazing recipe as well as find out how easy it is to put together a vegan barbecue for your father this Father’s Day.

BeyondMeat1

The classic staple in any barbecue is the burger. And trust me, vegan burgers do not disappoint. In the words of my husband, the best vegan burger is by Beyond Meat. With 20 grams of protein, 25% of your daily intake of iron, zero cholesterol, and only 5 grams of saturated fat, this burger is beyond healthy but without all the fattiness and cholesterol of a normal beef burger. Beyond Meat keeps the whole experience of cooking burger as similar as possible, so they’ve worked very hard to create a burger that changes color as you cook it just like animal protein by using beets as one of the primary ingredients for the color and for its ability to “bleed”. The beets give the patty a red-meat appearance and provides the juice for it to cook just like a normal burger would normally cook in its own juices and fat. And, while your dad is cooking up these amazing burgers, you can easily prepare the toppings like lettuce, onions, tomatoes, pickles, etc.

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Another thing you can easily throw on the grill are veggie kebabs. You can make these yourself, or you can buy them in the deli section at your local grocery store. Most kebabs come with pieces of meat stuck between pieces of bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, and onions. However, you can ask the deli to prepare kebabs with only the veggies if they don’t have any prepared. You can just simply place them on the grill plain, or you can dress it up in a vinaigrette-based marinade. My two favorite marinades are by Lawry’s, which are cheap and found in most grocery stores, are Lawry’s Lemon Pepper Marinade and Lawry’s Teriyaki Marinade with Pineapple Juice.

VeggieKebab

Another delicious grilled veggie is corn. Grilled corn is one of my favorite barbeque essentials, plus corn is super affordable and in season during the summer. I like to top my grilled corn with vegan butter, sea salt, pepper, cilantro, lime, and a hint of cayenne. For non-vegans, you can even top it off with a little sour cream and shredded cheese.

GrilledCorn

Ingredients

1-2 large heads of broccoli

Worcestershire Sauce

Soy Sauce

Brown Sugar

Directions

  1. Set oven to broil.
  2. Cut off broccoli florets from the stem and rinse under clean water.
  3. Make a little bowl out of tin foil and prepare sauce by mixing 1-part Worcestershire sauce, 1-part soy sauce, and 2 parts brown sugar in it.
  4. Place sauce on top shelf of oven and broil until the brown sugar begins to bubble.
  5. Take sauce out of oven and place broccoli florets into the tin foil bowl. Cover the bowl with more tin foil to have it fully encapsulated so the sauce can steam into the broccoli.
  6. Place broccoli on the grill for about 15-20 minutes.
  7. Take off the grill and enjoy.

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I hope that this Father’s Day you can share and enjoy a vegan barbeque with your dad, grandpa, or any person who’s been a father figure in your life.

7 Vegan Side Dishes for Easter Brunch

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With Easter right around the corner, there is easily a maddening rush to get to the grocery store and cook some homemade dishes. But if you don’t have a lot of time to make Easter dinner then no worries because I’ll show you readily available options that you can most likely pick up at your local grocery store. Whether you’re making Easter dinner and you want to try to include vegan sides for your vegan guests or you are vegan and will be attending as a guest to an Easter dinner then keep reading to find seven vegan side dishes for your Easter brunch or dinner. Try one, two, three dishes or try them all, I guarantee you’ll be very happy and satisfied this Easter.

Deli Options

At your local grocery store there is usually a deli that offers fresh options such as salads. Here are three recommendations that you can most likely find at your local grocery store (specifically in the deli/fresh-made section).

Three-Bean-Salad

  1. 3 Bean Salad – This salad is very hearty and full of protein and most of the time is made vegan. But do be careful because some variations include mayo or adds bacon bits into it, so if you aren’t sure about the ingredients just ask the deli counter. A 3-bean salad typically comprises of three different types of beans, celery, onion, parsley, rosemary, vinegar, sugar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. So simple, yet so delicious.

Kale-Cranberry-Salad

2. Kale and Cranberry Salad – This delicious salad is in a lot of delis now thanks to the popularity of kale. The only thing to look out for in this dish is the addition of cheese. Some, not all, do include goat cheese, however the last few times I’ve seen this salad in the deli they didn’t include the cheese, but instead offered it after you ordered, so the batch is made vegan with the option of adding cheese. This tasty salad is made of kale, dried cranberries, toasted almonds, vinegar, orange juice, mustard, shallot, and garlic dressing.

tabboulehSalad

3. Tabbouleh Salad – This Mediterranean dish is a vegetarian salad made of tomatoes, finely chopped parsley, mint, bulgur, and onion, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. This is simple enough to make at home, but I often find it in the deli sections in most grocery stores. So, it can be one less thing you have to make on Easter day.

Frozen Options

This next section covers options that are available in the frozen aisle in your local grocery store. My suggestions cover frozen foods available at Trader Joe’s, however you can find similar frozen food options at other grocery stores.

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  1. Zucchini Fries – Trader Joe’s offers a lightly battered zucchini in their frozen aisle. Luckily, its batter doesn’t include any dairy, making these bad boys completely vegan. You can have these as a side or serve them as an appetizer. These are great for making at home (it takes a short time with no fuss) and bring over to a lunch gathering.

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5. Vegetable Pakoras – This isn’t the typical side dish you’ll see at Easter brunch, but it’s a fun option to offer a different flavor to the meal. These vegetables ae delectable and if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you, alternative versions of these can easily be found in your local grocery store.

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6. Aloo Chaat – This is a potato snack originating as street food from northern India. It’s typically made of potatoes, spices, and oil served with chutney. Again, this dish isn’t a traditional Easter dish, but it will provide a hearty yet delicious palette to your meal.

Homemade Recipe

If you want to try making a simple side dish at home, then let me introduce you to my vegan Macaroni salad recipe. It’s simple enough to not take too much time, yet it’s so delicious that I often have my friends praising it.

macaroni-salad

7. Macaroni Salad

Ingredients

1 Bag of Macaroni Pasta

1 Large pot of Water

1 Red Bell Pepper

¼ Large Red Onion

2-3 Stalks of Celery (If you don’t like celery, then just replace this with carrots)

1 Large Pickle

6-8 Tablespoons of Vegan Mayo

4-6 Tablespoons of White Vinegar

2-3 Tablespoons of Yellow Mustard

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Once water is boiling, add the bag of macaroni pasta. This will cook for about 10-12 minutes, make sure to continuously stir to avoid the pasta sticking to each other and the bottom of the pot.
  2. While pasta is boiling in pot, chop up red bell pepper, red onion, celery (or carrots), and pickle. Place all chopped vegetables in a large mixing bowl.
  3. After pasta is cooked, drain the macaroni into a colander. Rinse with cold water, and after pasta is fully drained add pasta to the large mixing bowl with the vegetables.
  4. Mix in Mayo, Vinegar, and Mustard and stir until everything is evenly mixed in. Feel free to add more of anything you want to get desired taste and/or texture. I usually skip seasoning with salt and pepper but feel free to add those if you want.

I hope these great vegan finds will make your Easter brunch or dinner taste even more delicious. And I wish you a wonderful Easter filled with family, friends, and delicious vegan food.

EasterLamb

Here is a cute little Easter lamb just for you for reading until the very end 🙂

Easy Vegan Easter Dinner

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Easter is a holiday spent in the comfort of your home with friends and family. A big component of this holiday is the Easter brunch or Easter dinner. I remember as a kid the excitement of finding Easter eggs followed by a delicious lunch with some of my favorite foods. This Easter I hope to recreate my childhood Easter dinner but with vegan options instead. If you are planning on making your own Easter dinner, then keep reading to see how easy it can be to pull off a vegan Easter dinner.

TofurkyHam

When I think of Easter, I think of the traditional Easter ham. I don’t know how I would make a a vegan ham from scratch, but luckily, I won’t have to. Tofurky makes a delicious Vegetarian Ham Style Roast. It comes with a delicious beer glaze that adds a nice sweetness on top. The great thing about this ham is how super easy it is, you just pop it in the oven and about 15 minutes before it’s done cooking you add the glaze on top. And for about $10, it’s a great buy that can easily 4-5 people. If ham isn’t your thing, then I recommend trying Tofurky’s Holiday Roast, which is another great option to affordably feed about 4-6 people.

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A great side dish to go with the vegan ham or vegan roast is gravy. Finding vegan gravy can be difficult, but I found a couple of options that can make your ham or mashed potatoes even more delectable. The easiest one to find in a grocery store near will be Campbell’s Mushroom Gravy. If you prefer organic, then I recommend Simply Organic Vegetarian Brown Gravy, or Imagine’s Vegetarian Wild Mushroom Gravy or, Pacific’s Vegan Mushroom Gravy.

And one of my favorite childhood foods that was always made with our Easter dinner are Pillsbury’s Crescent Rolls. Believe it or not, these crescent rolls are accidently vegan with no dairy, butter, or milk in them, yet they are still amazingly delicious. So, make sure to get your hands on these delicious dinner rolls for your table this Easter.

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Now that you have your main staples for dinner, here are a few of my favorite side dishes that are easy to pick up from the store and add to your dinner. I absolutely love the Zucchini fries from Trader Joe’s. You can either serve them as an appetizer or they make a great side dish to your meal.

zucchinifries

Another one of my favorite side dishes that you can find at Trader Joe’s or at your local grocery store is Tabbouleh Salad. This Mediterranean dish is a vegetarian salad made of tomatoes, finely chopped parsley, mint, bulgur, and onion, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. This is simple enough to make at home, but I often find it in the deli sections in most grocery stores. So, it can be one less thing you have to make on Easter day.

tabboulehSalad

If you want to whip up a side dish, then I recommend trying this vegan potato salad.

VeganPotatoSalad

Ingredients

5 to 6 red, white or Russet potatoes

1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise (I like the Trader Joe’s brand best)

3 tbsp. vinegar

1 medium redonion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1/3 cup dried cranberries (optional)

Top and mix in 2 teaspoons of paprika for a smoky taste addition

Add 1/2 cup of yellow mustard to add some extra tang to the dish

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes.
  2. Drain the water from the pot and cool the potatoes completely, about 15 minutes.
  3. Peel the potatoes completely and chop into bite-sized pieces. Set aside (Alternatively, you can leave the peels on some potatoes for more texture)
  4. Gently toss together all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, add the potatoes gradually and cover with the ingredients until evenly distributed.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Chill for at least one hour before serving, if you have enough time. The flavors would be best after an overnight refrigeration.

And to make your easy vegan Easter dinner complete, don’t forget about dessert! When I was a kid, it was my favorite thing to frost the sugar cookies at Easter. My mom would bake sugar cookies in the shapes of Easter eggs and us kids would get to decorate them with icing and sprinkles. For this easy Easter dessert, I recommend using Annie’s Sugar Cookie Box Mix. The mix calls for milk and eggs, but you can simply replace these. For milk, you can use soy, almond, or coconut milk. And for every egg you need you can replace it with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. This dessert will be fun for both adults and kids alike.

AnniesSugarCookieMix

If you are attending an Easter dinner this year, make sure to stay tuned for my next article where I’ll share some easy vegan side dishes you can bring to dinner.

This Easter, you won’t have to fret or worry about compiling a vegan meal. Instead, you will see that there are many options available to you to make this Easter dinner your easiest one yet.

EasterBunny

Here is a cute little Easter bunny just for you for reading until the very end 🙂

Vegan Eats: Las Vegas

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You would think in a city nicknamed “Sin City” that your odds of finding vegan food would be as low as your odds of beating the house. When I think of Vegas, the last thing I think of is vegan food. But my assumptions were wrong because it turned out that this devilish city found a way to make vegan food delectably sinful.

Las Vegas is a very accommodating place to people from different backgrounds, including dietary backgrounds. People from all over the world come to Vegas, so it makes sense that this city would be accommodating to all sorts of customs. But one custom that Vegas is known for is their buffets. That’s right, Vegas even has a buffet with vegan food.

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My first recommendation is The Buffet at Wynn Las Vegas. This buffet is known for being very luxurious with only the best and freshest food. This buffet has captured the attention of many meat-lovers, but the reason it has captured my attention is because it’s the only buffet with a vegan menu. As you enter The Buffet, you are immediately transported in a colorful, playful room where flowers float from the ceiling and tea kettles and other kitchen objects are ornately arranged with flowers in bouquets. It feels a lot like stepping into the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Alice in Wonderland. And after being seating, your server will take you to the buffet, which spans over 4 rooms, where you will be introduced to the head chef. The head chef will then give you a personal guided tour of the buffet pointing out what is vegan, since many items that are vegan have to be requested at stations since they are not displayed. My favorite thing was the vegan cranberry muffins, which had these airy, delicious rice-Krispy-like cereal bits in it. I also had the vegan blueberry pancakes, which were amazing. But, you can customize the pancakes to be whatever you wish, I just happened to order blueberries in mine. I tried the vegan matcha chia pudding which was very interesting and different from anything I had before. And if you are a juice or smoothie enthusiast, then you’ll love all the concoctions they make here. I think I must’ve had four of them. This buffet has any and everything you could possibly ask for.

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So, for my second plate back at the buffet, I had the vegan sushi which I customized with cucumbers, carrots, avocado, and pickled cabbage with a side of veggie spring rolls. And for dessert I had the chocolate and raspberry sorbet with a vegan chocolate chip cookie. As you can see, I made sure to get my money’s worth out of this dining experience. Eating here for breakfast will set you back at about $25 per person, but if you are a big eater like me, then you’ll get a lot of tasty food to fill you up for the day.

Vegas Fun Fact: Steve Wynn (owner of the Wynn and Encore Las Vegas) is a vegan, which is why all the restaurants in his hotels have a vegan menu in addition to their regular menus. All you have to do is tell the hostess that you would like a vegan menu. Make sure to check out these restaurants menus online to see what might interest you. I’ve heard the steakhouse at the Wynn has an amazing truffle risotto and a delicious Portobello “steak.”

grandcanals

My next recommendation is a place that is more suitable if you are with a group that might not eat vegan, but you do. In the Grand Canals at The Venetian, there is a great restaurant called Black Tap Burgers. It’s a great spot to grab a good burger and beer, but what’s surprising is that they offer a lot of vegan options as well. I ordered the Vegan Burger which comes with a black bean patty, vegan mayo, pickled onions, salsa verde, and cilantro with a side of fries. And, if you are gluten-intolerant, then you can also order your burger with a gluten-free bun. This burger was surprisingly juicy for a black bean patty and the salsa added a fun twist to an old classic. Although fries are a classic side to the burger, I decided to try some of their other snacks and sides that also happened to be vegan. I shared the teriyaki broccoli which is seasoned with ginger, garlic, sesame, and scallion. And, because I couldn’t resist one more side, I also had the crispy brussels sprouts which came with a sesame-tahini dipping sauce. These sides were just as amazing as the burger, so make sure not to skip these extras. They also have other vegan options like their burger bowl served with quinoa and a black bean patty, but I think I had some of their best vegan options here. The really nice thing about this place, is I could comfortably get what I wanted while my non-vegan husband ordered a regular burger. And since it’s in the Grand Canals, you get to see one of the coolest and unique place in Las Vegas.

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My trip to Vegas was short and sweet, so I didn’t get a chance to try every vegan restaurant, however, listed below is a list of other restaurants in Las Vegas that have vegan menus that I’ll definitely be trying next time I visit.

  1. Fine Dining Vegan Restaurants at the Wynn Las Vegas include: Costa Di Mare (Seafood), Lakeside (Seafood), Mizumi (Japanese/Sushi), Tableau (American), SW Steakhouse, Wing Lei (Chinese/Michelin Star Restaurant)
  2. Fine Dining Vegan Restaurants at the Encore Las Vegas include: Andrea’s (Asian-inspired cuisine), Sinatra (Italian)
  3. Casual Dining Vegan Restaurants at the Wynn Las Vegas include: Allegro (American-Italian), The Buffet, Charlie’s Bar + Grill (Sports Bar), Le Cave (wine pairings with food), Red 8 (Chinese/Thai/Korean/Vietnamese), Terrace Pointe Cafe (Breakfast/Brunch)
  4. Casual Dining Vegan Restaurants at the Encore Las Vegas include: Jardin (American cuisine), Wazuzu (Pan-Asian)
  5. VegeNation – Located downtown Las Vegas, this place offers a wide-ranging variety of vegan options from Vietnamese Pho to African Yam Stew to veggie burgers all at an affordable price.
  6. Yard House – Located on The Strip, this American burger joint offers vegan options with Gardein meat-substitutes in their burgers and street tacos at a cheap price.
  7. Pancho’s Vegan Tacos – Located on the Eastside, this place offers up vegan tacos for all those taco lovers out there.
  8. Panevino – This Italian restaurant offers a plant-based menu for both lunch and dinner. Located in Southeast Las Vegas, the restaurant offers cool views of the Vegas skyline.

Easy Vegan Valentine’s Day Dinner

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Valentine’s Day can put a lot of pressure to do something extremely nice for your beloved partner. With commercialism pushing materialistic goods onto customers, it can be easy to lose sight of what this day is truly about. Valentine’s Day is about celebrating romance and being with the person you love. A great way to spend one-on-one time with your partner can be having a nice romantic dinner. But trying to get a dinner reservation on Valentine’s Day? Forget about it, I have a better option for you that’ll be way more heart-felt and lighter on your wallet. This Valentine’s Day, give the gift of food by making a beautiful dinner for your loved one. And don’t worry, this won’t be a crazy difficult 5-course French meal. This easy vegan Valentine’s Day dinner will make you be impressed with yourself for putting together a fancy-looking home-made meal with little effort.

Vegan_Orange_Chicken

If you’re like me, then you might be disappointed that Valentine’s Day falls on a Wednesday. Who has time to cook a delicious home-made meal in the middle of week? I know I don’t. Here’s where your new best friend, Gardein, saves the day. Gardein has a tasty orange “chicken” that can be made in less then 20 minutes. And if Gardein isn’t in your local grocery store, you can buy it online, or if you live near a Trader Joe’s then you can see if they carry their own brand of vegan orange chicken.

And the meal itself is seriously easy to put together. All you’ll need to do is cook 1 cup of rice in a pot on the stove. For 1 cup of rice, use 1 ½ to 2 cups of water. About 1 minutes in, start cooking the orange chicken and voila the rice and the orange chicken will be done about the same time. I like to top my orange chicken with sesame seeds, but this is optional.

SpringRolls

And if you want to be extra fancy, I recommend serving spring rolls (which are vegan) as an appetizer. You can find spring rolls in the frozen section of your grocery store. If they are spring rolls, not egg rolls, then they are usually vegan. My favorite spring rolls are from Trader Joe’s, but there are many cheap selections from Safeway that are just as tasty.

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Now, if you can’t find the Gardein orange chicken, or you prefer to make a simple dish then let me recommend this amazing Pineapple Fried Rice recipe that is super easy to make and super impressive for any date.

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Pineapple Fried Rice

Prep: 15 minutes Cook: 30 minutes Ready in 45 minutes

Ingredients

3 cups of water

1 ½ cups of rice

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (Peanut oil if you prefer)

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1 cup of frozen peas and carrots from a frozen bag mixture

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 green onions, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons soy sauce

½ can of pineapple chunks

¼ cup roasted peanuts

Directions

  1. In a saucepan bring water to a boil. Stir in rice. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat peanut or vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, pineapple chunks and pepper flakes, to taste. Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Increase heat to medium-high and stir in cooked rice, green onions and soy sauce. Stir-fry for 1 minute. Add frozen peas and carrots and cook 1 minute more. Remove from heat. Mix well. Garnish with peanuts, if desired.

Now, if you want to add a nice dessert to your Valentine’s Day dinner, then we might need to revisit that 5-course French meal again. Just kidding, we won’t be needing all 5 courses, however, let’s revisit everyone’s favorite part of the meal – dessert. My favorite vegan dessert of all time is Pepperidge Farm’s Raspberry’s Turnovers. And yes, they are fluffy, flakey French dessert that is 100% vegan. And best of all, it’s readily available in the dessert section of your local grocery store. They also have them in apple and peach flavors too, if that suits your fancy.

Italian_Soda

I know champagne is the typical go-to for a romantic dinner, but champagne can be pretty pricey. I love to pair a home-made dinner with Italian Sodas, especially the Grapefruit and Blood Orange flavors. It’s different enough to make the occasion special, and tasty enough to add a fun element to your dinner. If you are interested in making your own, try the recipe below to taste a tropical version of an Italian Soda.

Tropical Italian Soda (Non-alcoholic Blue Hawaii)

Ingredients

3 parts Club Soda

½ part Orange Juice

½ part Pineapple Juice

Mix all parts into a container. Serve over ice and enjoy.

Make this Valentine’s Day extra special by trying some of these dishes and/or recipes and I wish you a wonderful, romantic day spent with loved ones.

Vegan Eats: Sonoma, California

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Sonoma County is mostly known for its rolling hills covered with rows of vineyards. However, it’s becoming one of the biggest hubs for vegan and vegetarian restaurants in the Bay Area, second to San Francisco. For this post, I am covering three different cities that are within Sonoma County. So, wherever your wine tasting adventures may take you, I’ve got you covered. Let’s dive into the tastiest vegan eats Nor Cal has to offer.

First up is a vegan restaurant in the quaint town of Sebastopol called Slice of Life. It’s nestled next to Whole Foods, so it can easily be missed or overlooked. But this is a place you surely don’t want to miss. There is a wide range from which you can you can order here. Some of the local favorites include: Tofu Rancheros, Kale Caesar Salad, Mushroom Stroganoff, California Tempeh Reuben, Queso Dip (made from cashews) with blue corn tortilla ships, Nachos, Vegan Pizza, and the Nut Burger served with sweet potato fries. I ordered the AvoFresco Sandwich which was jammed full of two layers of avocado mash, carrots, pickled red cabbage, sprouts, and lettuce. This was a very filling yet healthy lunch option also served with a vegan coleslaw. I love a good sandwich and this one is packed full of veggies, so if you are a garden salad lover then this is the sandwich for you. I also had the sprout salad topped with an avocado dressing. As you can see, avocados are a main staple in a Northern Californian’s diet. And for dessert, I had the raw blueberry cheesecake, which this place is known for. There are gluten-free and oil-free options on the menu as well. The dishes range from $5-$12 and since they only use fresh local organic ingredients that means you are getting a good deal to eat healthy.

My next suggestion is a vegan drive-thru in Rohnert Park called Amy’s Drive-Thru. If you miss those days of eating at In N Out or other fast-food chains, then Amy’s is a great option for you. Amy’s might sound familiar to you because this is the same company as Amy’s Frozen Food which is headquartered in Sonoma County. Most of Amy’s frozen food products are vegetarian, but what’s cool about Amy’s Drive-Thru is that there is a whole menu dedicated to vegan options. Just be prepared for a long line, this place can get busy. But the staff does a wonderful job of keeping the line moving and getting the food out fast. They are mostly known for their burgers, chili (vegan) cheese fries, non-dairy shakes, vegan mac n cheese, and vegan pizza. So, since I was craving my non-vegan days at In N Out, I ordered The Amy Burger (with vegan cheese), fries, and a non-dairy chocolate shake. This place does not disappoint. It satisfied all those fast-food cravings I had. The pricing is comparable to other burger joints and that’s impressive since they only use local organic ingredients.

And for my last recommendation, I suggest an Ethiopian restaurant located in Santa Rosa called Abyssinia Restaurant. I first came here many years ago with my husband and his parents. This place is great for vegan and meat-eaters alike since they have options for both. While my husband and his parents ordered the beef combo, I ordered the vegetarian combo. Served on a traditional ingera bread (a thin flat bread) are beans, lentils, a garden salad, and sauces seasoned with spices and flavors that made this dish taste very rich and complex. To eat this dish, you simply tear the ingera bread and scoop it up using your hands. I loved the experience of eating with my hands and the dining experience I shared with my family tasting this culture new to me. For about $15 a person (meal and drink included), you get a great deal on traditional African food.

Places to Eat

  • Slice of Life

6970 McKinley St, Sebastopol, CA 95472

  • Amy’s Drive-Thru

58 Golf Course Dr W, Rohnert Park, CA 94928

  • Abyssinia Restaurant

913 4th St, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Closed Sundays

New Year, New Goals

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In my last post, I referred to new year’s resolutions as a reason for many people changing their diets this time of year. Weight loss is the number one new year’s resolution, but it’s a hard one to keep since true weight loss requires you to change a lifetime of poor habits.

I’ve never been a big fan of the concept of new year’s resolutions, mainly because I’ve always associated them with failure. I don’t know anyone who’s ever stuck to their new year’s resolutions. So, I prefer the term goals. By its definition, the word goal means to have an end or a desired result. So, for the new year, I’m creating new goals for what I want to get out of 2018.

Keep reading to see how I plan my new goals for 2018 and how I’m going to accomplish them.

Goal 1: Eat Healthier

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This is a goal most people try to accomplish with the start of a new year. I’m not trying to lose any weight, but I am trying to reduce how much processed food I eat and to decrease my overall sugar intake. I already eat a vegan diet which helps me get my fruit and veggies in, but I’ve noticed that I’ve relied a lot more on vegan junk food that is highly processed and usually high in sugar. The way that I am achieving this goal is to just cut out what I know is bad for me. No more vegan junk food like potato chips, vegan desserts, and sodas. Instead, I’m replacing them with fruit. If I crave chips, I’ll make myself baked potatoes with seasonings. Same thing, way healthier option. If I crave vegan chocolate chip cookies or vegan desserts, I’ll have fresh fruit like strawberries. And if I crave sodas, then I’ll make a fruit smoothie. The key essential things to do with changing your food habits is to reduce the amount you eat out (so you don’t cheat) and you stock up your fridge. These two things will help you stay focused and not get distracted with other, lesser, food options.

Goal 2: Save Up For A Car

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Believe it or not, my eating healthier will actually save me a lot of money. By staying in, instead of eating out, I will eat out less which means I’ll be saving more money. And this helps with my next goal because my husband and I want to purchase a new car by the time our insurance expires at the end of June. This gives a time line of when we need to buy a car, which motivates us to start saving immediately. In fact, we started saving last month in December. The best way to make a new goal work is to just start it, no need to wait or procrastinate, just start it today. And make sure you plan out how much you can realistically save up each month. My husband and I looked at our last paychecks for the month of December and budgeted how much bills, rent, etc. are for the month and how much we have remaining. So, our goal is to save $2,000 per month. And last month, we did extra good and doubled that and saved almost $4,000. So, we are already at a great start which is good because it propels us forward. And while we are saving, we are researching and researching like crazy for our next car, which constantly reminds us why we are working so hard to save money.

Future Goal Ideas

Those two are the only goals that I have made my definite goals for 2018, but I plan to add a few more as the year goes on. However, I know that things change and so may my plans. As long as you are open-minded and flexible you can add as many new goals for the new year as you want. Here are some ideas that I have (which aren’t set in stone) that I hope to implement in 2018.

  1. Go to my mom’s for Christmas.
  2. Save up to go to Bahamas with my mom and siblings next year for Christmas break vacation.
  3. Plan weekend get-away’s with my husband
  4. Visit my grandparents in California (in February)

And I’ll add things to the list as the year goes on, but for now this is all I want for the new year. I hope you have a great start to a new year and that you get to achieve your new goals too.

Top 10 Things You Need in Your Vegan Kitchen

Fruits And Vegetables

With the new year comes new resolutions. And after the feast of delectable eats the holidays had brought, many people’s New Year’s resolution revolve around diet changes. If you are looking for a new diet to transform your health than I recommend a vegan diet. Some people believe it’s hard to transition to a no-meat and no-dairy diet, but keep reading to find out how easy it can be for you to make this dietary change by following this list of top ten essential items you need in your vegan kitchen.

milk_alternatives

  1. Milk Alternatives

Instead of using regular dairy milk, you have the option to keep soy, cashew, or almond milk in stock. All these milks have less fat than dairy milk. Soy and cashew milk have twice as much as calcium as dairy milk, and almond milk has a lot of protein in it if that’s what you’re looking for. These milk alternatives are great on their own or can easily be used as an ingredient for cooking and baking.

  1. Margarine or Vegan Butter

My favorite brand of vegan butter is Earth Balance, but I also like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter as well because it’s tasty and more affordable. The great thing about vegan butter is that it cooks and tastes just like dairy butter. You can easily use this is in your cooking and everything will taste the same old buttery goodness.

  1. Vegan Bread

Before going vegan, I used to love to eat whole wheat bread but after going vegan I was sad to learn that most whole wheat breads have either or both honey and milk in it. In fact, it can be rather difficult to find vegan bread in general. But there definitely are vegan breads out there. You’ll have to check the ingredients, but locally baked bread is frequently vegan. Oddly, these local breads are often kept in a different aisle than the national brands in supermarkets. If you are interested in national brands, then I recommend Ezekiel or Dave’s Bread.

vegetable_oil

  1. Vegetable Oil/Olive Oil

Not only is this great for cooking up some veggies on the stove-top, this is also great to use in baking as well. If you like baking cookies, cakes, or other pastries you can use veggie oil to use as an egg substitute. You just need to use two tablespoons for one egg.

hummus

  1. Hummus

If you aren’t used to snacking on veggies, then I highly recommend getting hummus to dip your veggies in. This delicious snack can be homemade by simply grinding garbanzo beans and adding lemon juice and seasonings to taste. I like to dip bell peppers, cucumbers, and carrots in hummus as a light, delicious snack. But you can also use crackers and other vegetables to dip in it as well.

  1. Rice & Beans

These are probably the most essential thing to add as a staple in your kitchen. If you season it right, you can have a variety of different tasting rice and beans all depending on the seasonings you use. I like making Mexican-inspired rice and beans, but I also try my hand at Indian-inspired rice and Chinese stir-fried rice.

seasonings

  1. Seasonings

Speaking of spices, that brings me to my next must-have item you need in your vegan kitchen. You can make any vegetable taste delicious if you know how to just season it. And you don’t have to stick just to seasonings, you can also use sauces. My dad makes the best roasted broccoli by roasting the broccoli in a mixture of brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. But having a good selection of seasonings can help you adjust to incorporating and eating more vegetables in your diet. Seasonings can be pretty pricey, but if you are new to cooking then I recommend buying a pack of selected seasonings so you can get your money’s worth.

potatoes

  1. Potatoes

Did you know that potatoes contain all your daily vitamins and minerals except for Vitamin D and calcium? Potatoes in my book are the best things ever. You can cook them whole, slice them and bake them, or fry them up. Any way you cook them they are simply amazing. My favorite way of cooking them is cutting them up, toss them with garlic salt, pepper, paprika, and crushed pepper flakes and bake for twenty-five minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

fruits

  1. Fruits

My daily eats for fruits are bananas, cuties, and grapes. For bananas you can freeze them and put them into smoothies later. And speaking of smoothies, this is a great breakfast idea that makes it easy to pack in your fruits for the day. I buy frozen fruit (the tropical mix) in the frozen section at the Dollar Store. So, it is possible to find frozen fruit for cheap.

vegetables

  1. Vegetables

If you’re not fond of eating your vegetables then try seasoning them and experimenting with cooking recipes. I often find that it’s easier to start with the ones you like and slowly incorporate new finds into your diet.

I hope this list can help you start a new lifestyle in the new year, and if you want more vegan foods to add to your grocery list just keep reading below to see the best vegan alternatives to some of your already favorite foods.

Extra Items for Your Vegan Kitchen

If you are completely new to not eating any meat or dairy, then here are some extra recommendations to help you for when you do have cravings for meat and cheese.

chao_cheese

  1. Chao Cheese

This is the best vegan cheese I have ever tried. I like the original flavor best. This is pretty pricey, so I buy it sparingly when I do crave some cheese in my sandwich. It’s mostly made from potato, corn, and soy tofu, but it tastes exactly like processed slices cheese.

tofurky

  1. Tofurky Sandwich Meat

I love sandwiches, so when I went vegan it was hard for me to give up turkey. However, Tofurky makes a great tofu based “turkey” substitute. The best price I’ve found this for is at Trader Joes at only $2.50 per pack, which is a great price for sandwich meat.

vegan_mayo

  1. Veganaise (Vegan Mayo)

I love putting mayo on my sandwiches, burgers, and basically everything else. And vegan mayo is just the exact same thing as regular mayo except for the eggs. Vegannaise is a bit pricey, so I recommend buying Best Foods Vegan Mayo. For a large jar I bought it at Safeway for only $3.50, which is half the price of Vegannaise.

  1. Gardein “Meat” Products

I absolutely love Gardein! They have a huge range of awesome “meat” options. My favorites are their “Chicken” Strips, Orange “Chicken,” and their Pork-less Buns. The pork buns are to die for, my non-vegan husband can’t even taste the difference that’s how tasty they are.

daiyayogurts

  1. Daiya Soy/Coconut Yogurt

This is a great yogurt substitute if you need one. My non-vegan husband loves to have one of these with his breakfast.

tofutti_cream_cheese

  1. Tofutti Cream Cheese

My last recommendation is this cream cheese. I prefer it to Daiya’s vegan cream cheese, and it’s usually half the price of Daiya’s too. This cream cheese also works well in cooking too. I made vegan jalapeno poppers using this and it tasted amazing.

Thanksgiving Finds at Whole Foods

City Investors, INC- Vulcan- 2200 Westlake

I can’t get enough of this holiday season and the amazing food options available in the grocery stores. If you’ve been like me lately, you’ve been checking out your local grocery store to see what festive foods are available this year. And for vegans, we are always on the hunt for new vegan creations or discovering old favorites that have been made vegan. So far, I have not been disappointed in what I’ve found in Trader Joe’s and Safeway. But this past weekend, I went to Whole Foods and found some of the best vegan food for the upcoming holidays. So, here are some amazing festive food to add to your table this Thanksgiving and/or Christmas dinner.

gardein_holidayroast

My first suggestion is from one of my go-to vegan brands Gardein. They have this wonderful Stuffed Turk’y that is stuffed with veggie stuffing and comes with a delicious gravy. It serves two roasts in a bag, one per person. But they also have a larger roast they can serve a larger family.

TofurkyHam

One of my favorite finds this year, is this holiday ham by Tofurky. I’m curious to try this but I know that I already love their regular Tofurky sandwich “meat.” So, I imagine this will taste just as tasty. I love how it even comes with a beer glaze just to make it extra special.

If you want to see which sides to add with these dishes, make sure to check my last post Vegan Thanksgiving Made Easy to see which foods are readily available in a local grocery store near you and/or available on online services such as Amazon. There are many great finds that might surprise you to discover they are vegan.

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But, if you’re like me and you want to skip straight to dessert then let me introduce you to this festive and seasonal dessert. Daiya has introduced a Pumpkin Spice Cheezecake. Nothing says more fall and winter than pumpkin spice, and this dessert is in the form of a cheesecake. Whether you’re vegan or not, I’d recommend this dessert.

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However, if pumpkin spice or cheesecake isn’t your thing, then you need to try Pepperidge Farm’s Raspberry Turnovers. Bet you didn’t know that these goodies were accidentally vegan. Not only are they vegan, they are amazingly delicious and they make an easy dessert to pop into the oven and serve.

Try some of these vegan finds at Thanksgiving and/or Christmas this holiday season and share veganism at the dinner table.

Vegan Thanksgiving Made Easy

vegan thanksgiving made easy

Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday in my family since it’s one of the few times during the year where we can all get together and share delicious food, stories, and memories. And this year, I hope to share veganism with my non-vegan family members. A couple years ago on my first vegan thanksgiving I was surprised to see how easy it is to create a vegan version of the traditional thanksgiving food on the table. And this year, I am even more surprised to see many food options that are pre-made and readily available as vegan. So, without further ado, let’s look at what traditional vegan thanksgiving feast options are available in your local grocery store (and even available online, for those who don’t have too much free time to make a trip to the grocery store).

The first thing you think of when you think of Thanksgiving is the main roast, which in most households is a huge turkey and maybe even a ham. But for those of us who are vegan or vegetarian, it’s hard to find a good replacement for this. Luckily, there are good replacements out there.turkey-less-stuffed-roast-gravy-label

I’ve tried Trader Joe’s Breaded Turkey-less Stuffed Roast with Gravy. This delicious roast is made of a soy-based tofu and stuffed with a cranberry stuffing mix and covered in crumbly breadcrumbs. This serves two people generously, or four people conservatively.

tofurky-holiday-roast-gravy-packageBut if you want a larger roast then I recommend Tofurky’s Holiday Vegetarian Roast and Gravy. I found this at my local Safeway for $12, but you can also find it online in case none of the stores near you carry this.

Another classic thanksgiving dish is stuffing. And if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands to make this from scratch then here are a few options that are happily accidentally vegan.

pepperidge farm herb seasoned stuffingPepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing contains no animal products, but be careful because a lot of their other flavors do contain chicken and/or chicken broth. And the Cornbread Stuffing Mix at Trader Joe’s is also vegan.

trader-joes-stuffing

The directions on both these boxes do suggest mixing butter and water into the stuffing, but if you use vegan butter then this will make the whole thing vegan. The Pepperidge Farm stuffing is available on Amazon, and if you have Amazon Prime take advantage of that free overnight shipping. Also, another helpful hint, make sure to check out your local grocery chain’s brand of herb seasoned boxed stuffing because often they are accidentally vegan, like the grocery chain Kroger on the East coast has their own brand of stuffing that’s vegan.

If you do want to try your hand at making your own vegan cornbread stuffing, click here to find a great recipe at Trendeing.com.

And what family dinner doesn’t include dinner rolls?

pillsbury_Crescent_Rolls

I don’t know if you know, but Pillsbury’s Crescent Rolls are accidentally vegan. Just pop them out of the can, roll them up, and bake. It’s as simple as that! Plus, if you aren’t hosting thanksgiving dinner, offer to bring these over to thanksgiving dinner. It’s a nice gesture and no one will believe you when you say they are vegan.

Another side dish you can offer to make and bring to thanksgiving dinner are roasted vegetables.

At my local Safeway, in the vegetable section, there are pre-made butternut squash with thyme, carrots with dill, or fingerling potatoes with rosemary. You can either make these a little sweet or savory. For example, with the carrots and dill you can drizzle maple syrup and brown sugar on top and roast for 15-20 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Or if you want them to be savory, you can drizzle olive oil, salt, and black pepper on top of the potatoes and roast for 15-20 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s a simple dish that elevates any meal and is easily shareable.

Another Thanksgiving side dish that is always included is the cranberry sauce.

cranberry_SauceIn most grocery stores you can find this sauce in a can. My go-to is Ocean Spray Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce. But beware of any of the jellied cranberry sauces since they may contain gelatin, which is mostly not vegan. You can find a lot of variety online that ranges from homemade jars of it to organic.

The only thing I had a very hard time finding a vegan substitute for are Boxed Mashed Potatoes. These packages of instant mash potatoes usually have butter, milk, and eggs in their ingredients. However, I do know a great and easy recipe to whip up some mash potatoes if you want to make a vegan version for the table. Click here to make garlic mash potatoes with shiitake mushroom gravy.

My absolute favorite finds this thanksgiving are the desserts I discovered that are accidentally vegan.

Both Sara Lee and Marie Calendar’s Cherry and Apple Pies are completely vegan. I couldn’t believe it at first, but after re-reading the ingredient list I could confirm that there are no animal products in these pies. And what goes best with pie?

SoDelicious_vanilla_icecream.png

How about some vanilla ice-cream? So Delicious soymilk vanilla ice-cream is a great option I found at Safeway. It’s the best price for the amount you get.

These products can be made for your own vegan Thanksgiving dinner, or if you are having thanksgiving dinner at someone else’s home you can offer to make and bring these vegan options. I recommend bringing your favorite vegan dish, whatever that may be, so in case there aren’t too many options you at least have your favorite food there. But feel free to make one, two, three, or as many dishes as you want. I think thanksgiving is all about sharing, and what better day to share your love of food and veganism than on a day that celebrates sharing thanks with friends and family.

This Thanksgiving, I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with love, compassion, and delicious vegan eats.