Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Nature's Express

So a few weeks ago, I blogged about the reopening of Kung Food under the new name Nature's Express, and I've eaten there a few times since then! I am so happy they're back. Some things are the same and some are different. Here's a few examples:

You now serve yourself from the buffet. I love this because I like to try small amounts of many things without bugging anyone about it.

The price is determined by plate size rather than weight. I like this too. A small plate is $6.50 and a large plate is just under $10. A friend I was with didn't love this because sometimes she wants just one or two little things, but as for myself, I never got out of there with less than $6.50's worth anyway. Guess I'm a piggy!

There are many familiar food items and some new ones too. Some of my old favorites are the Chicken Parmesan (which tastes better this time around) and the Essential Greens. For new favorites, there was a Tempeh Chicken Salad and the Guacamole, which come to think of it, probably isn't new, but it's new to me! I didn't like the Sea Veggies Salad because it tasted too "fishy" to me, but I've always been picky about sea vegetables for that reason. I'm sure some people would like it.

The atmosphere is not quite as warm and inviting as before but I think this is the fault of the restaurant that took the space over beforehand. They've torn down all the lovely shrubs that used to hide the outdoor seating area from the street and it feels naked now. The interior also feels a little empty and plain, although we sat at a nice booth the one time we were there. Hopefully the look and feel is still in progress and will improve as time goes on.

The drive-thru is still there and the Spicy Chicken sandwich is as good as ever!

Alright, now it's your turn to go try it and tell me what you think. I'm all ears!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Fashion with Compassion

So, I was reading an email newsletter from one of my favorite fashion mags, Nylon, earlier this week, and, much to my delight, I noticed that they mentioned their turkey was vegan. I sent them an email complimenting them on their choice, and included a photo of our Thanksgiving tofurkey and guess what? They published it in their blog, which you can read here. Isn't it nice to know that the staff over at Nylon is as compassionate as they are stylish? Kudos to them for spreading the love!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Local San Diegans, Rejoice!

Guess what? Remember how sad it was, when Kung Food, everyone's favorite vegan buffet style restaurant and drive through, closed? In case you don't, I still remember it vividly, like a bad dream: March 31, 2007 was their last day open, and I remember the date specifically because I was hoping it was all an April Fool's joke. Sadly, the cashier assured me it was not, and I swear I was dismayed for weeks. Besides the great, all-vegan food, which included numerous raw options, I also loved that there was outdoor seating, which meant that Juno, our beloved Great Dane, could accompany us. Add that to the fact that it was mere blocks from Nate's Point, Balboa park's leash-free dog area, and you can see why we were so disappointed to see its doors close.

However, the reason I bring up this past trauma is because this weekend they reopen their doors! Same place (Quince and Fifth Streets), same people, new name: Nature's Express. We've already planned a meal there for this Sunday with some vegan friends (well, one vegan, one veg-friendly to be exact) and I can't wait to try out their new dishes and savor old favorites. Look out for a review soon, and be sure to try it yourself and let us know what you think!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

San Francisco Treats!

So, we spent a weekend in San Fran, celebrating Marc's (belated) birthday with friends, and one of the many highlights of our trip was all the good eats! I did a search before we left so I had a pretty good idea of some of the places I wanted to try before we even got there. San Fran has so many great options for vegans that we couldn't try all of them in our short little trip, but here are some brief reviews on the ones we did try.

The first place we tried for dinner with friends was Cafe Gratitude. There are actually two of them in the city (and three more outside San Fran), so we tried the one on Harrison St. this time since we hadn't been there yet. Besides being vegan, everything at Cafe Gratitude is raw, so it's perfect for a meal before stepping out, when you don't want to be weighed down by heavy, processed fare.

Cafe Gratitude is a different eating experience in a few ways. Besides the fact that everything on the menu is named with affirmations such as "I am precious" and "I am whole," the tables are community tables, meaning that my friends and I sat at a table with another guy who was already enjoying his meal, and when he was finished, another couple sat down. It wasn't as uncomfortable as it might sound, at least not for us.

For the appetizers, we shared the "I am abundant," a nice dish of assorted spreads and flatbreads. I had a lasagna dish made with zucchini, which was very good, and two of the others had the "I am elated," which is a mexican style dish with great guacamole. Another friend was "whole" with a macrobiotic bowl, that was quite good, and we all had various elixirs, which left us "effervescent," "enlightened," and so forth. But my very favorite thing there, indeed the best thing I ate all weekend, was the tiramisu. I have probably missed this dessert more than any other non-vegan food, and I can't remember the assigned affirmation, but the way it made me feel was "I am deserving of an absolutely sinfully delicious dessert in spite of (or perhaps due to) the fact that I am vegan."

The next day, we had lunch at a vegetarian (and mostly vegan) Chinese place called The Golden Era. The menu was quite extensive, and all but about two things (out of approximately 50 - 75 items) were vegan (the two exceptions were vegetarian). We started with the Vegetable Fu Young, which was even better than I had hoped for! There were three good-sized patties, perfect for our table of three. My friend had a yummy eggplant dish, I had a mock chicken and ginger dish, and Marc had a fried mock chicken dish, all of which were good, although I preferred mine the most. The prices were very reasonable, and even more so the next day (Monday), when Marc and I went back and tried the budget-friendly lunch specials. Again, I was blown away by the appetizer Marc ordered, which I didn't think I would like. It was a vegetable "bun," in the style of dim sum, which is usually too gooey for me. Much to my surprise, this one was perfect; the bun part was soft and sweet, but not too gooey, and the veggie filling was excellent.

We did go out for a fancy schmancy dinner while we were in town too—and Millenium was just the place for it. I had been wanting to try this place since it got voted #1 vegan restaurant in Veg News, and I was not disappointed! I had told Marc we were going to an all vegan restaurant, but once we sat down, as he looked at the menu, I heard him mention that he thought he could find something vegan in the appetizers. I questioned him, reminding him that everything was vegan, and the look on his face was pure shock and delight! As it turned out, once he saw the opulent atmosphere, he assumed it wasn't a vegan restaurant, but he was thrilled that it was. I must say, it was so nice to eat a vegan meal in an atmosphere with an upscale ambiance.

I had the Pumpkin Pupusa (pictured above), and others in our party had the Creole Spiced Portobello & Root Vegetable Gratin (which I ended up enjoying even more than my entree). We shared the Butternut Squash Raw-violi to start with, and also tried the Seared Brussels Sprouts (which were amazing!) and the Huckleberry Potato Flatbread. The latter, as well as being very tasty, is a great value for those watching the budget (and who isn't these days?). The serving was very large for a starter and it was quite filling for only $9.95. So although the entrees are all in the low $20's range, you could easily have a delicious upscale meal for a little less by getting the Flatbread and one of the small plates or sides, all of which are $6 or less. As well as great food, service and atmosphere, Millenium is involved in philanthropic efforts benefiting various local organizations, and their food is organic and free of genetically modified ingredients.

If anyone has any other recommendations for great Bay Area vegan restaurants, feel free to share them in your comments, and we'll try them next visit! Ciao for now...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Doomie's Home Cookin'

So a few weeks ago, my friends and I were staying at a hotel in LA's Chinatown, and after a long night out were looking for a place we could grab lunch before the drive back to SD. After a quick search on, I found a vegan eatery a mere two blocks away from our hotel. How convenient!

The place is called
Doomie's Home Cookin' Veggie-Vegan, and it's located on the second floor deck of what seems to be a nightclub. We were a little confused at first, but Doomie himself came out and greeted us and sheepishly explained that it was their first day of business and he had to quickly print out menus for us. Now I've worked at enough restaurants to know that opening weekend is no time to judge service, so I'll just say that it was friendly, but chaotic and leave it at that. I'm sure all the little kinks have been worked out, and if anything, the number of times the server and Doomie had to come back to our table to clarify things was amusing.

But as for the food—amazing! I had the fried chicken and it was unbelievably good, as well as being a very decent size portion (I brought some home for Marc, which he eagerly devoured). I was eating with two omnivores, who managed to find and order one of the only non-vegan (but still vegetarian) things on the menu—the BLT. Actually, there is vegan bacon available, but Doomie explained that the reason he offered a vegetarian version is because he felt the taste was better than the vegan version. Fair enough; I was just happy to have a whole menu of delicious-sounding dishes to choose from! These range from Shrimp Scampi to Chicken Alfredo to Philly Cheesesteak, with all sorts of diner-y comfort food selections in between.

I will definitely be eating at Doomie's again next time I'm in the area, and I recommend you check it out for yourself. Bon appetit!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thoughts on Prop 2

Well, as most of you Californians (and many non-locals as well) probably know, Prop 2 passes by an overwhelming majority of votes yesterday. While my first reaction was a very happy one, I have had mixed feelings about this proposition, even though I did vote yes on it. Here are some of those feelings.

When I first read the actual proposition, I was disappointed and even a little angry about how little it actual improves the lives of farm animals. As I mentioned to a friend, it's almost like putting a bandaid on a heart attack. It doesn't go into effect until 2015, there's lots of loopholes, and the bottom line is, it's not a big difference in each animal's life. As a matter of fact, those who belong to the animal abolitionist movement (a movement considered rather extreme by many, but whose views I support for the most part), were even more angered than I, and some were against the proposition because they felt like it would make people feel guilt-free about indulging in animal products, regardless of the fact that the animals would still live a miserable tortured life and die a horrible death.

However, I still stand behind it based on the following reasons: for one thing, it got people thinking about farm animals, some of whom have probably never thought of them before. It publicized the animal rights movement and the torture the farm animals go through, by getting footage of factory farms on mainstream TV programming, such as the Oprah show. After all, some people who saw that footage, including a student of mine, may go veg or vegan as a result. Perhaps it will convince some vegetarians that eggs and dairy are no more humane than animal flesh and motivate them to go vegan. It proved that today's public is concerned with animal welfare, at least a little bit, when it passed. It opened the door for stronger legislature to eventually get passed. And last but not least, perhaps it will allow a tiny bit more breathing room for the poor animals who suffer needlessly for the gluttonous appetites of the masses.

So to end on a more positive note, thanks to all who voted yes on Prop 2 and encouraged their family and friends and even strangers to do the same. This is a victory, no matter how small! Baby steps, right?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Notes on Dr. Gregor's Presentation

Well, Marc and I barely made it on time to Dr. Gregor's talk on Monday (we had a pseudo emergency when our cat bit his tongue so bad that there was blood everywhere!), but we did and I'm so glad. It was extremely educational and entertaining—educataining?

Anyway, he presented his facts in the style of a game show: he would have everyone stand up, ask a multiple-choice question, and everyone who got the answer wrong would sit down. He did this with a series of questions each round, until only one or two winners were left, each of whom would receive his CD with the presentation on it.

Here are some of the interesting facts I learned, all of which he showed the scientific data for:

A handful of nuts a day cuts the risk of hear attacks by half. Worried about the fat and calories? Don't be; studies showed that, amazingly, the addition of a handful of nuts did not cause any weight gain at all. The most healthy nuts are pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, and almonds, in that order, which I was happy to hear since pecans are my favorite and I love walnuts, pistachios and almonds too! Surprisingly, roasted nuts are more healthy than raw.

Supplementing vitamins E, A, and beta carotene increase all cases of mortality! Luckily I don't do any of those. However, vegans, vegetarians and even most meat-eaters need to supplement vitamin D (although many San Diegans may get enough from the sun, you would need 15-30 minutes a day, between the hours of 10a-2p without sunscreen). If you don't get that (I don't), you should take 4000 I.U. of vitamin D a day. I will be getting some on my next grocery store trip.

As most of you probably (hopefully) know, B12 is a must supplement vitamin for vegans. What you may not know is that even meat-eaters need to supplement this since animal products are not a good reliable source of B12.

Alfalfa sprouts are better left at the grocery store, because of the risk of salmonella. Although they only caused 100 cases of salmonella in the U.S. last year (as compared to 182,000 caused by eggs), it was also found that 1 in every 67 containers of alfalfa sprouts had E Coli (as do 1 in every 91 burgers), so skip them and go for the broccoli sprouts instead. Interesting fact about broccoli sprouts: they provide strong levels of UV protection when rubbed on the skin. So strong, in fact, that after they were rubbed on an arm, washed off, and then the arm was exposed to high levels of radiation a week later, they still protected it! This makes me want to rub broccoli sprouts all over my face, tee hee. You can read more about it here:

Not only is coffee not bad for you, but two cups a day are helpful. However black tea is much healthier, green tea is even better than that, and white tea (a certain processing of green tea) is best. Roiboos and honeybush are also good, and chamomile tea fights cancer, but yerba mate is NOT good. It contains high levels of carcinogens similar to that of fried chicken—yuck!

Here's some news about soy I was happy to learn: tofu cuts diabetes risk in half, helps with weight loss, and cuts cholesterol. Worried about a possible link between soy and breast cancer? Not only does soy cut the risk of getting breast cancer, but when a study was done on women with breast cancer, it cut their risk of dying in half. Yay, soy! I was very relieved to hear of this after some of the bad press soy has gotten lately. I still limit myself to only two or three meals containing tofu per week, but at least I don't have to feel guilty about that. Another surprising fact: tempeh is even healthier than edamame beans in their natural state, due to something that occurs during the fermenting process. So what about the bad press soy has been getting? Dr. Gregor explained that a lot of those tests are done on rats and other unfortunate animals, and are therefore irrelevant to its effect on humans (for instance, cow's milk was found to be healthier than soy milk for mice in one study but that was because soy milk lacks something needed to help them grow fur; since we don't grow fur, we're better off with soy). All the studies he presented as evidence were conducted on humans.

For those of you who are not yet vegan or concerned with the health of a non-vegan family member or friend: dairy is extremely harmful to human's health. It's the number one source of saturated fat and cholesterol, and additionally has a high concentration of pus and manure, which the dairy industry thinks is ok since they pasteurize it. Personally, I don't care for cooked pus and manure any more than the raw kind, so that's not acceptable to me! Dairy also is linked to an increased risk of Parkinson's disease.

Some other interesting facts for the non-veggies: pregnant women who eat meat reduce the fertility of their baby boys. The breast milk of veggie moms has only 1-2% of the toxins meat-eating moms' milk has. (I am so thankful that my mom, who was not vegetarian, refrained from eating meat while pregnant with me.)

There are high levels of fire retardants found in beef, dairy, bacon, fish and chicken (chicken having the highest levels by far). Don't ask me how they got there!

Once and for all, there is no such thing as healthy fish. This concerns me as I have so many friends who don't eat red meat or poultry but continue to eat fish. It actually is more harmful to the human body than other meats for the following reasons:

One can of tuna has the same amount of mercury as 100 vaccines, and methyl mercury increases the risk of heart attack among other things.

Think you're safe because you only eat sushi grade fish? Think again. The average (not highest) amount of fecal bacteria found on sushi is 90,000 mg (30,000 is the maximum allowable, although I can't remember who allows it).

Factory farmed fish are much higher than wild caught fish in PCBs, DDT, dieldrin and other cancer-causing chemicals. But all fish, farmed or wild, are dangerous in levels of mercury.

Dioxin, one of the most harmful chemicals known to science (and yes, it causes cancer), is rampant in fish. I'm going to quote here to put it in perspective:

The major sources of dioxin are in our diet. Since dioxin is fat-soluble, it bioaccumulates, climbing up the food chain. A North American eating a typical North American diet will receive 93% of their dioxin exposure from meat and dairy products (23% is from milk and dairy alone; the other large sources of exposure are beef, fish, pork, poultry and eggs). In fish, these toxins bioaccumulate up the food chain so that dioxin levels in fish are 100,000 times that of the surrounding environment. The best way to avoid dioxin exposure is to reduce or eliminate your consumption of meat and dairy products by adopting a vegan diet. According to a May 2001 study of dioxin in foods, "The category with the lowest [dioxin] level was a simulated vegan diet, with 0.09 ppt.... Blood dioxin levels in pure vegans have also been found to be very low in comparison with the general population, indicating a lower contribution of these foods to human dioxin body burden."

You can see some great charts and read more here:

Alright, enough bad news! Let's assume you're already vegan (or about to go vegan after reading the facts above). There is nothing beneficial in fish that we can't get from other sources without the toxins. Golden algae (which is grown in a pristine environment) is a great source of Omega 3s and DHA and it's more sustainable and of course, bloodless. Compassion for the animals really pays off! There are lots of good brands that offer this supplement.

Moving on to antioxidants: Walnuts, cloves and oregano are great sources of these. Here are the top 12 on the antioxidant list:

1. Acai berries
2. Goji berries
3. Artichockes
4. Cinnamon
5. Apples
6. Cranberries
7. Pears
8. Pecans
9. Black Plums
10. Pomengrantes
11. Blueberries
12. Cocoa powder

Dried fruit is healthier than juice, and golden raisins are healthier than regular.

Red onions are way healthier than yellow or white. I used to only use them for salads, but now I'm going to switch to them for cooking too.

Beans are great antioxidants. The top three are:
1. Black beans
2. Lentils
3. Red Kidney beans

The healthiest mushrooms are porcini and button in that order. And did you know that portabella mushrooms are just button mushrooms, all grown up? I didn't!

Apples are great, readily available and affordable antioxidants. Red Delicious are the best, with Granny Smiths a close second.

Steamed broccoli is healthier than raw! I was so happy to learn this as I much prefer it that way. Apparently the steaming boosts the absorption of the nutrients. Someone asked if enzymes of veggies are lost in the cooking process. Dr. Gregor said, yes, they are, but we have our own enzymes and we don't need the enzymes of vegetables. Interesting...

Similarly, tomato sauce is healthier than raw tomatoes, another happy fact for me since I love the former and can't stand the latter.

And to conclude, my favorite fact from the whole presentation: as we age, our DNA get breaks in their structure. Eating plants protects DNA and meat breaks it. A recently concluded study showed that vegetarians at age 65 have the DNA of meat-eaters at the age of 25!

Special thanks to Dr. Gregor for a fabulous presentation. Happy halloween to all! (By the way, pumpkin is also a great antioxidant...)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Vegan Nutrition Lecture this Monday

I'll keep this one short but sweet—just wanted to let you all know that there is an event on Monday evening (October 27th) called "The Latest in Human Nutrition 2008." Michael Greger, M.D. will be speaking at the Health Services Complex, in the Coronado Room from 7:00p until 8:30p, with vegan refreshments being served at 6:30p. The event is free, although donations will be accepted. The address is 3851 Rosecrans St., San Diego 92110 and you can call 619-583-9522 if you need more info. You can also find out more about Dr. Greger here: and the event is sponsored by Last Chance for Animals.

OK, that's it for now but hope to see you there, and in case you can't make it, I'm sure I'll be blogging about what I learn there. Ciao!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Vegan Feather Earrings

So I've been loving the beautiful feather earrings I've been seeing a lot lately, but I was concerned about getting any; after all, how would I know that the feathers came from a cruelty-free source? I decided to check one of my favorite jewelry shopping sites,, and found some gorgeous feather earrings by an artist named Heather (her shop is Smoobage's shop). I emailed her to see if she knew whether or not the feathers she used were indeed vegan.

Not only did she reply quickly and honestly, saying that she wasn't sure where the main source of her feathers got them, but she went to the trouble of ordering some gathered, moulted feathers and made a whole line of vegan earrings! She gave me first dibs on a pair that I fell in love with (although it was very hard to decide, as they were all so beautiful), but there are many others to choose from (the ones pictured above are available here). Once again, I am amazed by the willingness of others to cater to my strict ethical code. Who says style can't be compassionate?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Vegan on the run...

Well, as always, I've been busy. Although I'm done with school, I went to Philly for a visit during my short one-week break, and then classes started (the ones I teach), and here we are again. However, I do have some veg news to share with everyone.

I have a new favorite vegan restaurant: Horizons in Philly. I went there with my friends Wendi, Susannah and Josh and we had a delicious meal. The service, atmosphere and pacing of the courses were also excellent. Too bad it's so far away! But if you happen to be in the vicinity, you must check it out.

Sometimes it's not easy finding good eats when you're traveling. But I had the great luck of staying at Susannah and Josh's for a couple nights and experiencing their amazing vegan and mainly raw cuisine. Josh made the best miso soup I've ever had (no exaggeration!) and Susannah made a yummy pesto that we used in wraps. They even make their own almond milk, and I will be trying to make it myself soon. I'll let you all know how it goes... 'til then, bon appetit and thanks for thinking of the critters!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Back in the Saddle

Well, I know it's been a long time, and I apologize. I'll just make one excuse and be done with it: thesis. Enough said. But, guess what? I passed and it's over! So I'm back.

I don't have any new recipes to post just now as I've been living on quick fixes for the last couple months, but I did make some yummy date bars for a party I attended on Sunday. The recipe comes from this really sweet little dessert book a friend gave me called "Lickin' the Beaters: Low-fat Vegan Desserts" by Siue Moffat. It was easy to make and the book has the cutest illustrations all throughout it by various illustrators.

I was also impressed that there were various vegan options for me at the party, including some delicious cupcakes, veg meatballs, and veggies and guacamole, of course. Come to think of it, I've noticed that non-vegan friends of mine have been really conscious of making sure there's something for me to eat at gatherings, even when I'm the only vegan. This seems so different from the experiences of many other vegans and vegetarians that I've heard about. Sometimes they claim that they're grilled about why they eat the way they do and even attacked for their choices or made fun of. Personally, I always welcome honest questions, but just as I would never go up to someone eating a burger and ask them why they're eating it, I would expect the same respect extended to me. Luckily, it almost always is, even by strangers. However, I do want to take the opportunity to thank all the lovely people in my life who go a step further and cater to me even though I'm difficult by normal American standards! Non-vegan friends invite Marc and I to homemade dinners, and never complain about having to figure out a vegan menu for us. Indeed, they seem to enjoy the challenge, and I'm very grateful to be surrounded by such thoughtful and caring people.

In other news, there is the possibility of an opportunity for me to teach vegan nutrition classes in 2009, so I'll let you know when I have more definite information on this, for those of you who are local and curious. Hopefully, it will work out and I'm sure if it does, I'll learn a lot myself in prepping for it and share my most important findings with all of you. Ciao!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lazy Lentil Soup

I'm not even going to make any excuses for the reason this has become more of a monthly blog than a weekly blog, but I will say I've been very busy. And one thing that's quick and easy to make when you have a busy lifestyle such as my own, is what I call Lazy Lentil Soup. This is actually Marc's recipe, but since he's even busier than me (or seems to think he is, ha ha), I'll share it.

For ingredients, you'll need:

1 can of lentils (I prefer organic)
1/3 onion, chopped (more or less for taste)
1 or 2 cloves of minced garlic (according to taste)
2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
1 teaspoon or 1/2 cube of vegan bouillon (check back to our post of March 17th for some brand suggestions)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil and add the onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute for a minute or two, then add garlic (which cooks much faster than onions, hence the delay). Add the can of lentils and stir until almost to boiling point. Next, add the bouillon and stir until dissolved in the lentils. You can add some water if you like it soupier or leave it as is for a heartier stew-like version. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Voila! You have a quick, easy, healthy, vegan and affordable meal. What else could you ask for?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Vegan eats in the larger SoCal area

So, I haven't written in a while because as it turns out, June has been an even busier travel month for us than May was! OK, we only went to LA and Palm Springs, but as a SD based blog, I figured I may as well suggest some good veg restaurants in the surrounding areas.

The first place we went to eat in LA was our favorite standby, Real Food Daily. The food here is always good (albeit quite filling so watch out if you're going dancing later), the atmosphere is really nice, they offer outdoor seating (meaning our dog Juno gets to go too, although he actually has to sit outside the seating area on the sidewalk), and they are entirely vegan (and I believe all or mostly organic as well). They don't take reservations, but I've never had to wait for a table, even though there's always some customers, as it is a popular restaurant.

We also tried a great place that's new to us, called the Vegan Joint. I had a delicious mock fish dish (the Fish Dinner) and really yummy vegetable soup. They also have outdoor seating and brought water for Juno (as did RFD). Their menu is extensive and affordable: check it out here. We will definitely be eating there again!

We grabbed some food to go at Vegan Glory, which while we love the fact that it's all vegan, is more of a fast food type atmosphere and quality of food than either of the aforementioned places. I was disappointed that the seaweed salad consisted only of the dark green seaweed and not the bright lime green stuff that I adore. This is one of many Thai vegan restaurant options in LA. I wish we had even half as many options in San Diego! But trends eventually trickle down here, so hopefully it won't take too long.

Next we went to Palm Springs. Much slimmer pickings here but we did manage quite well. Our new fav restaurant, Native Foods, is in a shopping center here. Even though that may not sound like the ideal location, they had lovely misters outside and shade that made it quite bearable and even pleasant to eat there (with Juno of course). Now this place has five different SoCal locations (alas, none in San Diego), so check out the site for exact addresses. We ate there twice and every single item we got was delicious. We especially loved the "Save the Chicken" Wings. The service was good as well.

We also ate at Pepper's Thai in Palm Springs after not being able to find another vegan only (or even veg only) restaurant. I'm kind of glad we didn't find another one, because I am not exaggerating when I say this is one of the best Thai restaurants I've ever eaten at! And I love Thai, so I've been to a few. The service was excellent and they cater to vegans (at least they catered to us), so please don't let the fact that they're not all-vegan stop you from trying them. They do have a vegetarian section on the menu, but you can also pretty much order anything on the menu and just have them make it vegan for you, which is what we did. I had the Ginger Chicken (with mock chicken of course; I checked to be sure it was vegan and it is), as well as a delectable house salad, the Tofu Fresh Rolls, and their Coconut Pineapple Ice Cream, which is vegan as well. It was amazing! It's made mostly with coconut milk and pineapple chunks and a little added sugar but most of the sweetness tasted as though it were from the coconut itself. The service was also excellent; our server after catering to our vegan ways, bringing water for Juno, and suggesting additional vegan options (such as that amazing ice cream), also brought us hand-picked apricots from their own tree! They were sweet and delicious.

Well, I'm signing off until next month, and I'll be back with more veg choices and news then!

Monday, June 9, 2008

So you want to go vegan?

Today, I got an email from a classmate, telling me that he and his wife want to try going vegan, and asking for any tips and advice on how to do it. So I thought I'd share these here, in case they can help others as well. Because this is a transcription of an actual email to my friend, you will probably see some things I've mentioned already in earlier posts. I'll always remember the advice my vegan friend Jessica gave me that gave me the confidence to try it: "It's not as hard as you think." If anyone else out there has tips they'd like to share, please add them in the comments.

The only supplement you will def. need (although you may need others based on individual needs), and which you cannot get from an animal-free diet, is B12. Marc and I like to get ours through taking Emergen-C, which are powder packets that make fizzy drinks with plenty of B12 and lots of other good stuff, such as Vit C, etc. They come in many flavors, and we take one a day (I like mine in the AM). This, coupled with the fact that I consume no dairy, has basically eliminated the common cold in our household (I've only gotten 2 in almost 5 years of eating vegan and taking this).

Earth Balance
is a delicious butter substitute, which bakes, fries, cooks, spreads and in all ways acts like real butter. It is GMO-free and non-hydrogenized. It comes in tubs, both regular and whipped, and the same company also makes a version called Soy Garden. All are vegan, but Smart Balance is not, just similar name, so be careful. Even many of my non-vegan friends use this because it's so good and so much healthier for you than butter or margarine.

Silk Soy creamer is great for coffee and tea, and we like rice milk for cereal. It's good to mix it up because you don't want to overdo it on the soy. For this same reason, although in the beginning you may find yourself eating a lot of tofu, try to go easy on it; it's a processed food and too much soy is not the best thing, although far less dangerous than meat.

Tofutti cheese slices are one of the only good vegan cheeses I've found; they melt and taste better melted than cold. I like the mozzarella flavored slices best. My craving for real cheese disappeared in about a month, and that was my last animal food craving. Also, after about a month of eating vegan, I found myself feeling more naturally full and satisfied after meals, whereas for the first few weeks I felt a little hungry, but it passed.

Wondering what to eat? Almost any recipe can be made vegan by leaving out the meat (perhaps substitute portabello mushrooms, seitan, or tofu), using Earth Balance where butter is called for, soy, rice or coconut milk instead of cow's milk, and EnerG egg replacer, which is a potato starch based powder that comes in a box and makes baking vegan a cinch. If you crave eggs, try scrambled tofu instead.

The best vegan mayonnaise is Vegenaise, by Follow Your Heart. Even when you lick the knife, it tastes just like regular mayo, but a little better (to me anyway).

Wondering where to eat out and what to get? Apart from actual veg or vegan restaurants, most of which can be found for any area on, Asian restaurants are the easiest, especially Japanese and Thai places. But you must always make it clear to your server that you're vegan and what that means as sometimes things that you wouldn't think have any animal products in them do (many places put a fish base in their miso soup for instance). Most pizza places will be happy to make you a pie sans cheese and load up the veggies, Italian food is a cinch due to the many pasta dishes and marinara or garlic and oil. Many places will be happy to accommodate you by leaving out or substituting the offending ingredient; after all, even Oprah is trying vegan now.

Avocados are filling, delicious and nutritious and great on sandwiches, salads or dips. Rice has been one of our staples; brown is best and wild rice is yummy, although I must admit, we eat far too much white rice. Just about all veggies are great, but go easy on the fruits, most of which are high in sugar and should not be eaten with other foods, since they can rot in the stomach (or so I've heard). They are fine as a treat, just don't go crazy with them. Juices are good too, but the same rule applies: heavy on the veggies, light on the fruits, and to get the full nutritional value, must be drank right after being made. Cucumbers, celery, beets, kale, and parsley are all great for juicing. Raw ginger is a nice addition. Nuts and nut butters are good, with almonds being one of the healthiest, and peanuts one of the least healthy.

There are many internet resources available; here are just a few:

Many of these offer free vegan start-up guides online or by mail. Good luck, let me know how it goes, and feel free to comment w/questions!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Living Foods Lecture

This past Monday night, I attended a lecture about raw, living foods at Rancho's, an all-vegan market on 30th, just past University St. The speaker was Dr. Brian Clement of Hippocrates Health Institute. At first, I was worried that it would just be a long boring sales talk, but my worries were unfounded. Dr. Clement was a good speaker and quite generous with information, and although he told us a little about HHI, it wasn't the whole focus of the lecture.

He spoke about so many things that I will just touch on a few that stood out to me the most. He mentioned the connection of eating animal products (yes, that means dairy and eggs too, not just meat) and greenhouse gas emissions. Now I already knew all about this, having done research for a school project on it, but in case you didn't already know, the UN put out a report a year or two ago showing that eating animal products is the biggest cause of global warming, and far more impactful than the kind of car you drive. But I will not go too far into that, since as Brian would say, I'd probably be preaching to the choir!

However, although he does live and teach about an all vegan lifestyle, he takes it a step further and insists upon all raw, living food. This is a step I have not taken, but am curious about. He mentioned that sprouts are the most nutritious food, veggie juices are great as long as you drink them fresh from the juicer, and blenders kill nutrients—yes, you heard that right! Something about the oxygenation that occurs when blending and spinning the food. Damn, it's so much harder to clean my juicer than my blender, but I suppose I shouldn't be lazy anymore...

He made a lot of strong statements (such as Ritalin is cocaine - I'll buy that) but backed them up by saying "check every word I say" and I did check a few, although most I believed by instinct anyway. One of which is his statement that laptops cause ovarian and testicular cancer; weird, but I never felt comfortable working on a laptop and as a designer, I spend a lot of time on the computer, so you'd think I'd have one by now. He spoke about studies from Russia and Sweden that showed the relation between cell phone use and brain tumors; those of you who know me, know that I refused to get a cell phone until about a year ago and hate to speak on it even now. You can learn more about it here:,410111.shtml.

But I digress. Let's get back to nutrition. Brian also talked about distilled water, mentioning we get 2/3 of our oxygen intake from water and that it should be as pure as possible. He said the other alternative to distillation is molecular organization, which can be achieved with a living water system. He mentioned that many people have a vitamin D deficiency and shitake mushrooms dried in the sun are a good source of vitamin D. He is a big proponent of wheat grass and says optimally we should have 2 ounces in the AM and PM. He touched on the importance of hormones, oxygen and enzymes for optimal health. And he must know what he's talking about because his institute is famous for curing catastrophic illnesses such as cancer.

The other thing the institute's well known for is anti-aging; now, when I first got to the lecture, I checked Brian out to see if he looked extra healthy or "glowed" from eating raw foods. Unfair, I know, but we tend to do this when judging whether or not a person's lifestyle is truly worth emulating. I will admit he looked very healthy, but not in an unusual way. He looked good for a 40-year old, which is about what I assumed his age was. Then, later in the lecture, he mentioned something about going to college in the 60s. What?!? By my calculations, he would've been born in the 60s. He was a good 30 or so years older than I thought by his appearance! And I was not sitting very far away from him. Wow...

Dr. Clement also mentioned that agave syrup is really not much better than corn syrup in the way it affects the body—damn again! I had a feeling it might be too good to be true. I'll have to look into this one more, but he mentioned that the whole low-glycemic/high-glycemic thing is more marketing than anything else. He also mentioned fruit is so high in sugar and almost always picked unripened (and does not ripen once picked—bananas being the only exception), which when eaten, robs the body of nutrients. Another think I've instinctively felt. I eat very little fruit for being a vegan, which surprises people, but now I have a reason...

During the question/answer session, many individuals asked him about things that this scientist or that nutritionist had written about. Now, Brian approaches things from a very scientific and factual viewpoint (he works with many scientists for his studies and institute), but he was also able to disprove some things that scientists and doctors have stated. My friend Jessica once pointed out that if you add the phrase "God bless him/her" to a sentence, you can say almost anything negative about them and not come off as being critical. Well, Brian must know this trick, because he used it all the time when discounting other people's theories!

There are so many other things he spoke about, but I could go on forever. So I must stop here, but if you go to his website, you can sign up for a free quarterly magazine subscription, which I did after browsing through an issue I got at the lecture. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Where has May gone?

Well, I'm not sure where May has gone, but I have gone to LA and NYC and entertained a couple house guests, one right after another, so the month has been fun but in a whirlwind kind of way! So hopefully that will serve as my excuse for not posting the last couple weeks as well; if not, what can I say? My apologies!

So I have come across a few items of interest this month while I was enjoying the beautiful spring weather in the company of friends and family. My fellow veg friend Rachel brought to my attention that Oprah is trying out vegan while on a 21-day detox! This is quite a coupe for us, as she is so well-known and respected that it seems like everything she touches turns to gold. Even if this doesn't get many other people trying vegan across the US (and I'd be surprised if it doesn't), at least maybe now I won't have to explain what vegan means to anyone now. I applaud Oprah on her valiant effort and for helping to raise the awareness of many others to the plight of animals who are born to die for meals. You can read about her experience on her blog here:

I had a few good vegan meals in NYC, which is home to more veg and vegan restaurants than anywhere else I've been. I know I can always count on eating well when I go there! This past visit, I had delicious plantains fried with garlic and sprinkled with large sea salt crystals from Esperanza's (not a veg or vegan restaurant, mind you) in East Village at 9th and C. I also ate at one of my favorite standby's: Angelica Kitchen, an all vegan and organic restaurant on east 12th St. It easily met both my and my dinner date's requirements, as I of course insist on vegan and she wanted to eat somewhere that was byob. The service and food were delicious: I ate the special which incorporated beets, tempeh, asparagus, mushrooms and wild rice on a bed of arugula. It was filling but not heavy, and I certainly was hungry for it after walking around the city for hours earlier! It gave me enough energy to go out dancing into the late night.

The next day before my flight, I grabbed a bite at Jubb's Longevity, a small raw food deli, also in East Village on east 12th St. The staff were very friendly, but perhaps a little high from the pure raw food energy, as I had to place my order a couple times for it to register and even then, it took a while to get it, considering it didn't have to be cooked. However, it was quite yummy and worth the wait. We had the pesto pizza and open faced onion and cheese sandwich. A word to the wise though: when I went in, I asked about something in the case and was told "everything's vegan." However, when I asked what was in a desert I was given a taste of, I was told honey—oops! Additionally, this place is pretty pricey, even by organic raw food standards.

Anyway, hope you've had a good month and I'll write more in June!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Vegan Sushi

When I sat down to think about what to write this week, I decided to think over what I had eaten this week. Actually, it had been such a busy and productive week that I hadn't eaten much; I even fasted for almost two days. But on both Sunday and Friday, I had one of my favorite foods—sushi!

Sunday, we went to Sipz (see the archives for a full review). If you go for dinner, the sushi bar is open. There is a huge selection and I have certainly not tried them all, possibly in part because I am still in love with their Aloha rolls.

But last night, I went with a friend to Aubergine's in the Gaslamp. Many people are familiar with Aubergine's as a night club, but they are also known for having some of the best sushi in San Diego. They have a standard vegan roll called the "Marc roll" (that's right—named after our Marc!) that changes in its contents from time to time but is always tasty. The seaweed salad is very good, but be sure to let them know you're vegan and to do the dressing vegan for you (otherwise it has some egg in it). The agedashi tofu is also really good, but again, you must let them know you're vegan so they don't give it to you with fish sauce. If you ask, it should be no problem as they are very accommodating. The atmosphere is fun, and here's the best part: on Friday's they have a sushi happy hour with rolls for $2! These are full size orders of freshly prepared rolls; there is no catch here. My friend and I had a great time and were treated fantastically as always by the staff there. Be sure to make reservations, as they get booked in advance most of the time.

Alright, that's it for this week—enjoy!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A vegan Nutella substitute?

Well, last week I posted early in anticipation of my weekend away, and this week I'm posting late, with no better excuse than the fact that I spent much of my weekend hanging out with friends and my nuclear family (Marc and Juno, our great dane, and Moony, the cat—can a cat really ever be owned? I don't think so).

As I am drowning in work to do for my thesis (don't even ask), this will be a short post. Years ago, while traveling in the middle east, Marc and I discovered Nutella, a delicious spread with a chocolate and hazelnut flavor. Much to our dismay, we had to abandon it when we became vegans due to what appears to be a very small amount of milk in the ingredients list (makers of Nutella, if you're reading this, please revise the recipe so we can enjoy it again!). However, Marc came home from the grocery store the other night with an adorable container of a product called "Simple Soynut Butter." The charming illustration on the label is created by Nina Frenkel, and the food company that makes the spread is called Simple Food.

We could barely wait until after dinner to try it. Marc lightly toasted a slice of bread and slathered the chocolate spread on top (it also comes in different flavors, including Cinnamon Sugar). Now, it's no Nutella, but it is quite yummy. It's a little bit drier than Nutella, and unfortunately doesn't have that distinct hazelnut flavoring, but we intend to try doctoring it up a bit with some hazelnut liqueur to see if that won't address both (minor) issues. Definitely it's good qualities outweigh the bad; as well as being vegan, it's also certified organic and gluten free, and it's even peanut and tree nut free for those of you with allergies. All in all, I'd give it four stars. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Custom Vegan Belts

So, I'm writing early this week as I'm off to Santa Cruz this weekend to visit a dear friend of mine. Earlier this week, while shopping with a friend, we discovered this great shop in Normal Heights called Eco-Boutique. Now, I have been looking for a good cruelty-free belt for a while, and the great thing about this place is that they have leather-free straps of all different colors and a huge selection of beautiful buckles, many of which are antiques. You can pick the strap you like and the buckle you like and they measure your waist and custom make it for you while you wait. I chose a turquoise micro-fiber belt, which at first I was reluctant to settle on because turquoise does not necessarily go with everything. However, here's the best part: each strap is reversible! So on the other side of my turquoise belt is a light beige color that will go with just about anything. It's like getting two belts for the price of one. There's a brown/black strap that would be perfect for most people (I somehow do not own any brown shows; probably because I don't do real leather, but I know there are fake leather brown shoes out there...).

We chatted with the proprietor, Richard Fredrick, who in addition to being really nice and sweet is also a vegetarian of many years. The boutique also carries a large and very reasonably priced collection of Mat & Nat bags, but don't wait to snatch them up—they will go quickly at those prices. In addition, there are many organic cotton tees, jeans, and tops. Also, they're having an art show featuring the work of Jear Dean and celebrating the grand opening of their new organic tea patio and garden on Saturday, April 19th at 5p. Check them out for yourself at 3316 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116 for some guilt-free shopping!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

So, lately Marc has been bugging me to make his favorite kind of cookies: oatmeal raisin. I'm kind of a chocolate chip girl myself, but sometimes you just have to accommodate your love. This weekend seemed like a good time to try; I had planned on going to a veg picnic on Sunday, but due to a combination of cloudy, chilly weather and a thesis presentation that needed to be put together, I didn't go. However, I had already gotten raisins and oats at the store, so later in the day after I had finished my presentation, I searched online for some recipes. I chose one that used only ingredients I already had around the house, and went to work!

These are a quick and easy to make treat. The whole deal should take only about 1/2 an hour and all the mixing can be (and should be) done by hand. I made a couple alterations to the ingredients, and, after making the first batch, a few changes to the amounts, but this recipe is loosely based on one posted here: No author's name appears, but thanks to whoever developed this recipe! Here's my version:
1 and 1/4 cups Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Coconut Oil (lightly warmed until it's liquid)
2 tablespoons Soy Creamer (I like Silk, great for coffee or tea too)
1 and 1/3 cups organic Confectioner's Sugar (This is just what I had around the house; I'm sure any sugar would work fine, but be careful. Some refined sugars, such as C&H, are not vegan.)
1/4 cup Agave (You can probably increase this amount and skip the sugar altogether.)
2 egg substitutes (I use Ener-G egg replacer.)
1 and 1/2 tablespoons Vanilla Extract
2 cups Oatmeal
3 handfuls (I have large hands!) Raisins (I also did a batch with pecans for those who don't like raisins. Lucky thing I did, as one of our guests last night hates them!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and put aside. In a large bowl, mix the coconut oil and sugar together. In a separate bowl, mix up your egg replacer until it's light and fluffy, and slowly work into the oil and sugar mix. Then add the soy creamer and vanilla extract and stir. Mix in the agave syrup and then the oats. Add the raisins last and stir once more. Drop spoonfuls onto a greased cookie pan (you can use the coconut oil to grease it), and pop it in the oven for about 15 minutes (check after 10 minutes and keep checking until they have spread out a little and are still soft but not gooey to the touch). Enjoy!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Recommended Reading: "Committed" by Dan Mathews

I read this book about a year ago (thanks to a loan from my vegan friend Susannah!) and loved it so much that I immediately bought one for my vegan friend Jessica's birthday. She loved it too, so three out of three vegans give it a thumbs up! (That's pretty good statistically...)

So why am I only writing about it now? Well, because Dan Mathews came to San Diego and spoke at the Borders in Mission Valley last Monday night. Of course I went to see him (with Jessica), and finally bought my own copy of the book, which he graciously signed.

One of the things I loved about this book was that it spoke about a very serious topic in a light-hearted way. Sometimes it's easy to let the world get you down when you're an animal-lover, but Dan's memoirs are laugh-out-loud funny! As a matter of fact, I would recommend it even (or perhaps especially) to non-veg friends. It's also a great inside look at some of the workings of PETA, since he is the vice-president of the famous (and in some circles, infamous) organization.

Dan was just as charming and entertaining in person. He read from the book and then did a question/answer session, addressing each concern in a straight-forward way. He pointed out that the reason it may seem as though PETA goes overboard in some cases is this: for a non-profit organization to fight against huge corporations who won't stop at anything to save a buck (and have tons of money and power backing them), they have to really push to get things done for the sake of the animals.

Thanks to Dan and PETA for doing what they do! And to each of you for doing what you can ;)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Eco and Vegan Jewelry by Christy Robinson

So I went on a little jewelry shopping spree on Etsy last week, and I found "Julep115," which is a shop that showcases the beautiful and compassionate jewelry of Christy Robinson. As well as being very stylish and reasonably priced, the jewelry helps out a great cause. This month 10% of all sales goes to Vegan Outreach. Now you have a very good excuse to treat yourself or a friend!

I ordered the "clever fox" bracelet, and the craftsmanship looked even better on the real thing than it did on the site. It was elegantly wrapped, and being the eco-conscious consumer that I try to be, I will certainly be reusing the ribbon and box it came in. I wore it to a vegan potluck/canasta game night last night, and got compliments on it.

As if that wasn't enough, it came very quickly (I ordered it on a Tuesday and it arrived on Saturday), and Christy included some fun extras (I won't ruin the surprise). Also included was a coupon for my next purchase (which I will try to make this month to help out Vegan Outreach). You can check it out at: Viva la vegan!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Vegan Fast Food

Well, it's finals time for me and Marc, as well as thousands of others. Who has time to cook? So I thought I'd share some suggestions for quick and easy snacks and mini-meals.

Tonight Marc made us a tasty soup, using just vegetable bouillon, a few bow-tie pasta pieces, one sliced carrot, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. It was easy, but better than from a can! If you don't even have time for that, Health Valley makes a few vegan vegetable soups that are good and readily available. Read the ingredients carefully though; not every flavor is vegan.

Rice cakes are great for all sorts of toppings, especially if you try to avoid bread like me. I like them with Vegenaise and any of Tofurkey's sliced deli "meats" (all of which are vegan) or with tomato sauce and Tofutti mozzarella cheese slices (I put these in the broiler for about 30-60 seconds and voila! Pizza rice cake). Tofutti's cheese slices are great; not only are they one of the few "non-dairy" cheeses that are actually vegan (many contain casein or whey), but they melt like real cheese and taste realistic too. If you've got a sweet tooth, they're also good with peanut butter and jelly (I like almond or cashew butter, and fruit preserves with no added sugar). They're also good with hummus and sliced cucumbers.

Odwalla bars are portable and vegan, as well as Luna bars and Clif bars (check the ingredients, but I believe all varieties of each of those brands are vegan). Trail mixes are good too, and many of the kind that come with semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips are vegan (but as always, read the ingredients). Watch out for carob chips; in my experience they are usually NOT vegan.

On another note, for those of you who are veg-curious or who have friends who are veg-curious, this Thursday, March 20th is Meatout day. Why not invite your non-veg friends over for dinner (as well as your veg friends of course) and show them how we do it? Everyone can commit to one day of a meat-free lifestyle.

Well, I must get back to my school work, but good luck on your finals, and don't forget to eat!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Easy-bake Spice Muffins

Hello, my fellow vegans! Well, I know this is a little late, but what can I say, it's been a busy week. Tonight, however, I am going to a vegan potluck, and while I had all intentions of making something new and exciting, after a good but hectic week, I decided to go with an old standby that's easy and fast. These muffins are wheat-free as well as vegan, but even the carnivores eat them right up, so they're a crowd pleaser. Here's what you'll need:

1 Bag Namaste Foods Spice Cake Mix (see? I told you it would be easy)
4.5 tablespoons Ener-G egg replacer
2/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 cup water
3-4 tablespoons agave syrup to taste
2 tablespoons apple sauce
1/2 cup crushed pecans (put them in a plastic bag and crush with your fists—it's fun!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Get a big mixing bowl and dump the cake mix and egg replacer powder in, and mix together with a spoon. (This is from a tip of Marc's; the egg replacer works better when you mix it in the dry ingredients first and then add the water to the whole thing, so the egg replacer doesn't get clumpy.) Then put the oil and water together in the measuring cup, give them a quick stir, and mix in with the dry ingredients until smooth. Add the agave syrup until it tastes sweet enough for you. The nice thing about these muffins is you can do them just lightly sweet or really sweet, depending on your mood. Next, mix in the apple sauce, and finally, the pecans.

Lightly oil a muffin pan (I like spray oils for this purpose; grapeseed oil is my current favorite, but the veggie or canola oil will work too). Pour them in, leaving a little room for rising and pop them in the oven for 20–30 minutes (start checking them around the 20 minute mark; you can stick a knife in them and see if it comes out clean—when it does, they're ready). If you want to get fancy, you can even make an icing for them (I use Tofutti cream cheese and agave syrup), but they're still yummy plain as well. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

"Uncanned" Veggie Soup

This is a very simple and easy vegetable soup to make yourself. It is "uncanned" because it contains many of the same ingredients you would find in a can of vegetable soup, but will taste much fresher and heartier. When the soup is done, it will resemble a vegetable stew that is chock full of vegetables. It's a flexible recipe, so you can customize the ingredients by adding more or less of what you want, or substitute one vegetable for another, depending on what's in season (or in your fridge). If you love mushrooms, add plenty more! With this soup, you can truly have it your way. Another great thing about this recipe is that you will have easy-to-reheat leftovers for the week.

1 Large Red or White Onion
1 Small to Medium Garlic
16oz White Mushrooms
4 Carrots
2 Zucchini
4 Red or 2 White Potatoes
1 Cup Frozen Corn
1 Can Red Kidney Beans
1 Can Crushed Tomatoes
3 Vegetable Bouillon Cubes
Olive or Vegetable Oil
Red Pepper Flakes
Salt and Pepper

Start off by sauteing 1 large chopped onion in the olive oil with salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes in a large stock pot. Once the onions are translucent, add the garlic and continue sauteing over a low flame. The next step is to add the sliced carrots and saute over a medium flame. The goal is to "sweat" the vegetables, which gets the flavor out of the veggies and into the pot. Next, saute the sliced mushrooms along with the zuchini and cilantro. Be sure not to saute the mushrooms for too long, so they don't get mushy. It's now time to make the broth by adding three vegetable bouillon cubes along with three cups of water and one large can of crushed tomatoes (basil or Italian herb flavor works best). Next, add the cubed potatoes and bring the soup to a boil over a medium to high heat. Once the soup has reached a boiling point reduce the flame to a medium to low heat and slowly simmer the soup while stirring frequently. Finally, add the frozen corn and season the soup once again if necessary. Give it one last taste to check the seasoning, serve and enjoy with bread or crackers. You'll never want Campbell's again!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Stephanie's Bakery

Well, it's been a busy week and we didn't get a chance to go to our normal Sunday night dinner (we had two going away parties and then Marc had to work), nor to even make anything new, so I thought I'd write about Stephanie's Bakery, the place I mentioned in last week's blog.

Stephanie's Bakery is an all-vegan bakeshop located in Ocean Beach, San Diego. As well as being cruelty-free, they use almost all organic ingredients. Marc and I tried the Pesto Pizza there a couple months ago and we both agreed that not only was it the best vegan pizza we've had, but quite possibly the best pizza regardless (with perhaps the exception of New York pizza)! You must try it.

My vegetarian friend Elizabeth and I visited Stephanie's a few weeks ago, and enjoyed another delicious meal. I had the Caesar salad and a savory strudel (I believe it was broccoli and cheese) and both were very tasty. Elizabeth had the Classic Deli sandwich (which I had a bite of; it didn't taste like meat at all, but was still good, as long as you're not a meat-eater expecting that taste). I also had a sugar-sensitive (good for people with blood sugar issues) desert with a chocolate icing and cupcake-like bottom, which was sweet even without oodles of added sugar. I've tried their sweet Pumpkin Strudel as well, which was just the right amount of sweetness.

The service is very friendly both to humans and dogs (we each had our dog with us, so we sat at a table outside). Marc and I were happy to see some of Kung Food's former employees there when we went (oh, how we miss Kung Food!). As a matter of fact, all this talk about Stephanie's Bakery has made us crave their pizza, but unfortunately, they're closed today; be sure to check the site for hours and days before you go, because they change frequently and are limited to mostly daytime hours. As much as I wish they were open more often, I understand, as I believe they are more of a catering operation (great for wedding cakes!) than a traditional restaurant. However, with veg dining choices few and far between in SD, I would love to see them expand. Enjoy and tell them hello for us!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Vegan Zone

Last night, Marc and I went out to eat at Vegan Zone, a relatively new all vegan eatery in Pacific Beach. The place is small but comfortable and the decor is simple and modern with a Buddhism-inspired flair.

We started with our favorite appetizer, the Crispy Wontons. Even a non-vegetarian friend of mine fell in love with these when we went together. They have an imitation cream cheese inside and are served with a light sweet brown sauce. We also had the Sate, which consists of soy chicken served on skewers with a peanut sauce and some cucumber salad, as well as the Miso Soup, which tastes authentic.

Although I usually order the Spicy Fried Rice (which is delicious and includes fresh basil leaves fried until crispy), this time I decided to have the Rice Baked with Mushroom. I was not disappointed! The brown rice for all the dishes at Vegan Zone is the best I've ever tasted. It's hearty and flavorful, and when I asked about it I was told that it's a brown jasmine rice (which I can't find anywhere in it's uncooked form unfortunately). My dish also had pineapple chunks, peas, and soy chicken.

Marc has his favorite standby, the Katsu Bowl. This dish has crispy fried soy chicken cutlets, served on a bed of brown rice with katsu sauce and cabbage salad. I tried some too and it was quite good.

Although we didn't order it this time, their house special salad is refreshing and large, with alfalfa sprouts, avocado, onions, sunflower seeds, cucumbers and pine nuts. I like it best with the Peanut dressing, although the Italian dressing is good too. I've also enjoyed their side of Soy Fish, which while it may not taste like fish, has a nice light flavor and delicate texture that makes a good addition to the Spicy Fried Rice.

If I had to say anything was lacking at Vegan Zone, I would choose their desert selection. Although the rest of the menu is extensive, with sandwiches, wraps, pancakes, burritos, burgers and scrambles in addition to their Thai-inspired main courses, they only offer frozen sorbets and lychee for desert. It would be great if they added some vegan cakes and/or pastries, perhaps from Stephanie's Bakery (an all vegan bake shop in Ocean Beach).

Everything else about this place is great, including the service! The food is filling and flavorful enough to bring meat-eating friends as well, so check it out if you haven't yet, and enjoy your meal.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Party Pate

Macoe recently hosted her Book Club Meeting at our home and I volunteered to do the catering for her. The club meets to discuss the books they have read while snacking on hors d'ourves and sipping tea, coffee, or champagne. It's fun to cater these types of events because you can make all sorts of different things. I thought it would be great to make a vegan pate to serve along with the champagne. Here's the recipe I came up with:

Party Pate

16 ounces white mushrooms
1 cup walnuts
1/4 pound tofu
1 small onion
6 cloves of garlic
4 tablespoons soy sauce
Red pepper flakes
Salt and Pepper
Spike All Natural Seasoning
Vegetable Oil

Start off by slicing the mushrooms and chopping the onions and garlic. Saute the onions until they are translucent over a medium flame. Next, add the garlic and continue sauteing the onions and garlic together, making sure not to brown the garlic. The next step is to add the sliced mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms, onions and garlic over a medium/high flame and season to taste with the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Once the mushrooms are nicely browned, turn off the flame and let the mixture cool.

Once the mushrooms have cooled, add them along with the tofu, walnuts and soy sauce to a food processor. Season the mixture with Spike to taste and blend until the mixture is a smooth, firm paste. Spoon the mixture to a ramekin and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Serve the Party Pate along with your favorite crackers, toast or croustinis. The pate is also great served with condiments such as; relish, horseradish, pickles, gherkins, and/or olives. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Better Bathing

Probably the last thing that Marc gave up for his vegan lifestyle was Ivory soap. I was never that big a fan, but he had used it all his life and was resistant to using anything else until I pointed out that it is made of animal fat - yuck! Does that sound very clean to you?

Now, I must admit that I am not perfect when it comes to choosing vegan products, but I have started to become much more conscious about what I buy for the outside of my body as well as the inside. PETA has a great little brochure with a list of safe companies for toiletries and cosmetics that I just always have in my purse now (you can order your own here:

Recently, Marc has switched over to using my favorite shower gel, Shikai, and it's become his favorite too. It comes in many great scents (we like the lavender mint one right now), and is completely animal- testing and product free. At first it seemed extravagant to buy shower gel instead of soap but it didn't take long to realize that it's actually more cost-effective because of how long it lasts and how little waste there is compared to soaps that melt away. Try it out and you can bathe with a clean conscious as well as body!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Perfect Pancakes

Well, it's Sunday again, and I was trying to decide what to write about, when I realized I was hungry and wanted some of Marc's Perfect Pancakes. Even though we just had them for dinner Wednesday night (yes, dinner!), I was craving them again. This is a wheat-free recipe as well as vegan, but I can honestly say that they are the best pancakes I've ever had. Here's what you'll need:

1 cup pancake mix (we use Arrowhead's Gluten-free Pancake and Baking mix which uses organic rice flower and a touch of cinnamon)
2 tablespoons Ener-G egg replacer
2 tablespoons agave syrup
1 cup rice or soy milk
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil for the pan

Mix all the ingredients (except for the oil), slowly mixing in the soy milk until you have a pour-able consistency (not too thin; you may not need the whole cup of soy milk).

Heat oil in pan on medium. Pour mix into pan. Once the edges of the pancakes are crispy and you see bubbles in the middle of them, flip the cakes and finish the other sides. We enjoy ours with organic maple syrup and Earth Balance spread (the best butter substitute we've found; it fries, bakes, spreads, and melts). You can also garnish it with a teaspoon of your favorite jelly (make sure it's vegan, of course).

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Great bag by Astrosatchel

So, it's that time of week again, and today I'm going to feature a great vegan bag that a close friend gave me for Christmas. It's created by Janna Hurtzig of Astrosatchel and I love it. Mine is an olivey green with a mustard colored bird. It's the perfect size to carry your normal necessities such as wallet, phone, camera, vegan lip balm, etc. and also throw in a journal or sketchbook, scarf or even a shirt. I've already gotten numerous compliments on it. The bag itself is made of vinyl and the strap is nylon. The appliqué is also vinyl with some nice stitching. If you're in the San Diego area, you can purchase one like it at All Vegan, a cute little shop in University Heights. Even non-vegans can enjoy some guilt-free shopping there! They also carry shoes, chocolates and other vegan goodies. Happy shopping!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Sipz review

So Marc and I went out to eat at Sipz Vegetarian Fuzion Cafe last night, compliments of his great co-workers who gave him a gift certificate for his birthday. For those of you not familiar with Sipz, it's a mainly vegan restaurant in Clairemont Mesa. Actually, out of their rather extensive menu, there are only two or three items that aren't vegan (everything's vegetarian), which makes us wonder why they don't take the plunge and just make it fully vegan. Regardless, it's still got a huge vegan selection.

We ordered the Aloha Rollz and the Vegan Miso Soup to start with (although they brought the Vege BBQ Chicken first, even though Marc asked for it with his meal—we just laugh, because they always do that). The Aloha Rollz were delicious and the presentation was great too ("Aloha" was written in ceviche on the plate). The miso soup was chock full of seaweed and tofu and yummy, although not spectacular. Still, it's nice to go to a place that doesn't put fish stock in the miso soup! The Vege BBQ Chicken was good as always. It uses more of a sweet bbq sauce than a smoky one.

For our main meals, Marc got the Spicy Thai Fried Rice, his old standby. I do agree that this is one of the best dishes on the menu. I was torn, but ended up getting the Spicy Basil bowl with tofu, as I'm trying to cut down on wheat products and I'm sure the "chicken" is made with wheat gluten (although I didn't ask). I've decided that I really prefer the Cashew Chicken bowl, as there's something about the sauce in the Spicy Basil bowl that I don't love. Next time I'm going to try the new Teriyaki Tofu, which sounds really good.

I should have stopped there, but Marc ordered the chocolate chip cookies (which are very soft and sweet) and I wanted something sweet too, so I ordered a Refreshing Green Tea Boba with soy milk (you do have to specify as they carry real milk for the tea drinks). For those who may not know, Sipz actually started out as a small coffee/boba tea shop and then expanded to carry food. It was really uniquely tasty, as it had a very floral taste due to the jasmine tea used. I loved it, but unfortunately it made me so full, I couldn't even eat my complimentary fortune cookie!

The prices are quite reasonable and the service is efficient. Our food came really fast, and that is often the case there, even though it is usually fairly busy (it's a good thing they expanded the space a year or so ago). The lights are a little brighter than they need to be, but that's a minor point I suppose. All in all, it was a very enjoyable meal.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

"Happy Chicken" Salad

We call this our "happy chicken" salad, because the chicken is happy it didn't have to die for it! It's a very easy, no-cook recipe that anyone can make in about 5-10 minutes. Here are the ingredients:

One 8 oz. package of tempeh (we like Lightlife's organic soy tempeh)
1/4 of a small red onion, diced
One small stalk celery, chopped
One tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup vegan mayo (our favorite is Follow Your Heart's Vegenaise, either the grapeseed oil or regular)
A pinch of red pepper flakes
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Break the tempeh up into very small pieces and then combine all ingredients and stir with a spoon. That's it, you're done! I told you it was easy. It's delicious on a sandwich with lettuce, avacado, and sprouts. If you're trying to avoid wheat products, like I am, you can have it in lettuce cups. Form cups from lettuce leaves, spread hummus in the center of the cups and add chicken salad. Enjoy!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Great vegan boots on sale!

This will be short and sweet because I have a bunch of other things I should be doing, but I didn't want to wait too long to post this in case the sale ends soon or they run out. I got these boots back when they weren't on sale and I love them. They're leather and wool-free and made by Charles Albert. Come to think of it, it's the second pair of his boots I have, so he seems to have a few vegan options, but this pair is much more comfortable to wear. They have a nice amount of heel and they're surprisingly easy to walk in. I've even danced in them comfortably! They're on sale for only $19.99 at

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Welcome to Vegan Weekly!

So, my husband and I were sharing a delicious seaweed salad (vegan of course) the other day and I mentioned how I think it's the best seaweed salad in San Diego. We got to talking about how tricky it can be to find quality vegan food if you don't know where to look or if you're new to eating vegan. We thought we'd share what we've found and learned since we've been vegan for a little while now (4.5 years for me and 2 for him). Vegan weekly will also be a place where we will share recipes (Marc is an amazing vegan chef!) and shopping tips for vegan products, such as shoes, bags and other cruelty-free goodies.

So, by now you're probably wondering "Where is the best vegan seaweed salad in San Diego?" It's at Chow Noodle House, where the old Celadon used to be, on University between 5th and 6th in Hillcrest. For only $5, you can try it and the place has a really nice ambiance as well. It's a noodle house and although it doesn't have as many vegan choices as Celadon (which is now a few blocks south on 5th), you can still enjoy a full vegan meal there with a few questions and adjustments. By the way, if you haven't tried Celadon yet, you're missing out on the most delicious Thai food, with numerous vegan options. Enjoy and check back weekly for more vegan love! Oh, and happy new year—for those of you who are thinking of becoming vegan, I can't think of a better time to start than now (hint, hint). I'll always remember what a vegan friend said to me while I was still vegetarian that gave me the confidence to try it: "It's not as hard as you think it is."