A Search for Great Vegan Food in San Diego

Tag Archives: dessert

Sweet Petite Confections

Sweet Petite Confections Sign

Sweet Petite Confections Sign

 

I recently had the chance to visit Sweet Petite Confections and speak with founder, Michelle Lomelin and taste some of her amazing chocolates.  The first thing I noticed after walking through the door was the wonderful aroma of chocolate hanging in the air.  The second thing I noticed was how delicate and beautiful all of the chocolates looked.  I couldn’t wait to dive in!

Cherry Bomb Bark:

Michelle’s creations don’t just look beautiful.  They are melt in your mouth good with creative, unique ingredients.  For example, the Cherry Bomb Bark is 64% dark chocolate blended with organic freeze dried cherries and popping rocks!  For me, this chocolate brought back the nostalgia of popping rocks I enjoyed as a child with an adult twist.

 

[caption id="attachment_3246" align="alignnone" width="640"]Cherry Bomb Bark Cherry Bomb Bark[/caption]

 

Seaside Bark:

Next up, was the Seaside Bark, made with dark chocolate, crisped rice, and Hawaiian salt.  I could have eaten this for days.  The sweet and salty combination was perfectly executed.  And I loved the palm trees, shells, and starfish pattern on the chocolates!

 

[caption id="attachment_3247" align="alignnone" width="640"]Seaside Bark Seaside Bark[/caption]

 

Sunrise Bark:

Daisies happen to be my favorite flower, so I couldn’t help but be pulled to this chocolate, the Sunrise.  This chocolate has freeze dried strawberries and corn flakes mixed in.  Michelle said that her son originally came up with the combination and has been a hit ever since.

 

[caption id="attachment_3248" align="alignnone" width="640"]Sunrise Sunrise[/caption]

 

Tuscan Sun Bark:

 

Although I enjoyed all of the chocolate, the Tuscan Sun bark was my favorite.  Made with candied basil, sun dried tomato, Hawaiian sea salt, and toasted almonds, this bark kept my taste buds engaged.  The candied basil was aromatic and the salty flavor of the sun dried tomatoes played perfectly with the sweetness of the chocolate.  It was a savory experience that I would like to repeat!

 

[caption id="attachment_3249" align="alignnone" width="640"]Tuscan Sun Tuscan Sun[/caption]

 

Mint Meltaways:

If you’re looking for a tasty dessert to cap off a dinner or just a snack to get you through the day, you needn’t look further.  The Mint Meltaways are a vegan chocolate lovers dream.  Organic coconut oil and organic peppermint essential oils are wrapped up in these dark chocolates.  And as the name suggests, they really do melt in your mouth.

 

[caption id="attachment_3244" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Mint Meltaways Vegan Mint Meltaways[/caption]

 

Sweet Petite Confections embraces holidays.  Currently, they are gearing up for Mother’s Day and graduation.  Below is a Mother’s Day lollipop that you won’t want to miss!

 

[caption id="attachment_3245" align="alignnone" width="425"]Mother's Day Lollipop Mother’s Day Lollipop[/caption]

 

Sweet Petite Confections is warm and inviting.  There are plenty of options out on display and you can always taste a few to see which chocolate matches your mood!

 

IMG_3918

 

Sweet Petite Confections also offers chocolate making classes.  This is now occupying the number one spot on my list for my next birthday activity!

 

3582 Mt. Acadia Blvd.

San Diego, CA 92111

858.688.0210

Trilogy Sanctuary

Trilogy Sign

Trilogy Sign

 

LA JOLLA.  I wandered off of Girard Avenue, wound my way through a hallway, and found the elevator.  After a short ride, I found myself on a roof deck set up for a yoga class with palm trees framing the horizon line against the ocean.  I instantly knew I had found a special place.  Trilogy Sanctuary serves a 100% organic, vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO menu, and they strive to source their ingredients as locally as possible.  Chef Scott’s Steele’s attention to detail is evident in the quality of the food served — all of the dishes are thoughtfully assembled and their flavors are in harmony.

 

During my first visit to Trilogy, I was sitting next to a group of girls who ordered the Vega-Nachos, a mix of gluten free veggie chips smothered in cheesy sauce with quinoa chorizo, avocado, and pico.  They raved about the dish the entire time they were eating them.  I decided I needed to try them … after all, how often does a vegan get to eat nachos?  On my next visit, they were the first thing I ordered.  I loved that the “chips” were made from dehydrated sweet potatoes –a healthy alternative to the normally fried nacho base.  The best part? The quinoa chorizo.  It gave each bite a bit of a kick.  I will DEFINITELY be ordering these again.

 

[caption id="attachment_2942" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vega-Nachos Vega-Nachos[/caption]

 

Another amazing Trilogy menu option is the Wrap of Zen.  The wrap (which by the way is vegan, raw, and paleo!) is filled with sprouted homemade hummus, butternut squash, beets, avocado, and cucumber and topped with almond love sauce.  The wrap is bursting with fresh veggies.  I don’t know what is in the almond love sauce, but it is special.  This wrap far surpasses the tired veggie sandwich and is a truly unique dish.

 

[caption id="attachment_2943" align="alignnone" width="640"]The Wrap of Zen The Wrap of Zen[/caption]

 

The “Two Perfect Tacos” dish is aptly named.  The tacos are comprised of house made corn tortillas stuffed with quinoa chorizo, roasted sweet potatoes, eggplant bacon, avocado, pico, and spicy almond love sauce.  The roasted sweet potatoes acted as an excellent anchor for these tacos and contrasted deliciously with the salty taste of the eggplant bacon.  Yum!

 

[caption id="attachment_2944" align="alignnone" width="640"]Two Perfect Tacos Two Perfect Tacos[/caption]

 

Trilogy also offers a delicious Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash entree made from  warm spaghetti squash tossed in home made pesto mixed with roasted portobello mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, olives, and toasted pine nuts.  Personally, I’m predisposed to enjoy any dish with pesto and sun dried tomatoes and this dish did not disappoint!

 

[caption id="attachment_2946" align="alignnone" width="640"]Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash[/caption]

 

Trilogy offers a wide array of fresh smoothies.  I finally decided on the Lust Smoothie: a mix of almond miilk, cacao, banana, avocado, date, maca, vanilla, cayenne, and cinnamon.  And yes, it tasted as good as it sounds! Chocolatey goodness with a little bit of a kick.

 

[caption id="attachment_2945" align="alignnone" width="410"]Lust Super Smoothie Lust Super Smoothie[/caption]

 

Trilogy also offers a wide variety of scrumptious sounding desserts.  Think chocolate mousse, cheesecake, and raw carrot cake just to name a few.  I confess I haven’t yet tried one of the desserts, because I always fill up on appetizers and entrees!!  I’m excited to try one (or more!) soon!

 

The interior of Trilogy is cozy and made up predominantly of earth tones.  I love the open kitchen concept so that curious customers (like me!) can watch the food preparation.

 

[caption id="attachment_2950" align="alignnone" width="640"]Interior Trilogy Sanctuary Interior Trilogy Sanctuary[/caption]

 

Trilogy also offers a beautiful outdoor patio space — tables and umbrellas make it the perfect place to relax and enjoy the rooftop view.

 

[caption id="attachment_2951" align="alignnone" width="640"]Rooftop Outdoor Trilogy Seating Rooftop Outdoor Trilogy Seating[/caption]

 

7650 Girard Avenue, #4

La Jolla, CA 92037

858.633.3893

Donut Panic

[caption id="attachment_2893" align="alignnone" width="640"]Donut Panic Sign Donut Panic Sign[/caption]

 

MISSION VALLEY/MISSION GORGE.  Donut Panic proves that vegan donuts can absolutely compete with their non-vegan counterparts.  Located on Mission Gorge Road off of the 8, Donut Panic provides inventive and tasty vegan donuts flavors like Maple “Bacon” and Earl Grey.  Although Donut Panic also offers traditional donuts, it’s obvious that Donut Panic puts considerable time and energy into their vegan offerings.

Who are the masterminds behind these delectable vegan donuts?  Linda Dami — a former baker at Sipz — and her father.  They recently found themselves unemployed at the same time, saw a listing for a donut shop for sale on Craigslist, and decided to dive head first into the donut making business!  And I’m so glad they did!!

I pulled into the parking lot and saw the sign below advertising for Sunshine Donut Bakery.  I was a little confused but figured it must be the right place.  Once inside, I spoke with Linda who let me know that she is planning on changing the sign to the black Donut Panic one depicted above but was still waiting for her landlord’s approval.  SO, if you make a trip for some donuts soon, be on the look out for either sign.

 

[caption id="attachment_2885" align="alignnone" width="640"]Old Donut Panic Sign Old Donut Panic Sign[/caption]

 

For donut novices, there are two main types of donuts (1) cake and (2) yeast.  Linda specializes in making yeast donuts which are generally lighter and fluffier than cake donuts.  If you would like to know even more about the differences between the two donut varieties, check out this blog post!

The first vegan donut that grabbed my attention was the Maple “Bacon” — after all, it doesn’t sound like it could possibly be vegan!!  The donut icing was sweet with a distinctive maple flavor and somehow the coconut shavings did taste like bacon!  A delicious sweet and salty combination.

 

 

[caption id="attachment_2886" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Maple Bacon Donut Vegan Maple Bacon Donut[/caption]

 

Then, because I am in love with all things chocolate, I tried the chocolate and coconut donut.  I don’t want to play favorites, but this donut was GOOD!  It might not have been the fanciest of all of the flavors, but the sweet chocolate paired with the light coconut shavings was a winner!

 

[caption id="attachment_2887" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Chocolate with Coconut Donut Vegan Chocolate with Coconut Donut[/caption]

 

I was also intrigued by the donut topped with cardamom icing and almond pieces.  As previously noted, I am drawn to chocolate.  Even I have to admit that this donut was something special.  The creamy icing had a delicious dash of spice mixed in, and I enjoyed the crunch from the almonds.  It made me think of fall — which was quite a feat since I was eating this donut in the San Diego 91 degree heat wave!  I think this donut would make a perfect breakfast when paired with a cup of tea and a brisk morning!

 

[caption id="attachment_2888" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Cardamom with Almond Donut Vegan Cardamom with Almond Donut[/caption]

 

I then moved on to the Earl Grey Tea donut.  This is a must try for anyone who loves drinking the tea.  The frosting had the distinctive Early Grey taste, but it was like someone had already added milk and sugar for you!  A subtle flavor that again, in my opinion, would be great paired with a hot tea!

 

[caption id="attachment_2891" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Earl Gray Donut Vegan Earl Gray Donut[/caption]

 

Vegan donuts are currently available at Donut Panic on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays after 9am.  On Fridays, vegan cupcakes are available (this will definitely be a future blog post!).  Also, Donut Panic is looking to expand to some area farmer’s markets.  If you’re lucky, it might be one near you!

For more information on Donut Panic, check out their website.  Or take a look at their frequently updated Facebook page — this is where you can find mouth-watering donut pictures and updates on their current flavor offerings.

 

 

Assortment of Vegan Donuts

 

6171 Mission Gorge Road, #113

San Diego, CA 92120

619.280.1894

Vegan Chocolate Mousse

I’m always on the lookout for a new chocolatey dessert.  And what’s a better dessert than mousse?!  This Vegan Chocolate Mousse caught my eye because it relies on avocado to create its smooth, creamy texture.  Oh, and it’s incredibly easy to make!  In fact, I like to make a double batch and store half in my freezer for when my sweet tooth craves its next chocolate fix!!

First, place the avocado in the food processor.

 

[caption id="attachment_2873" align="alignnone" width="640"]Avocado in Food Processor Avocado in Food Processor[/caption]

 

Then add in the maple syrup, coconut butter, coconut sugar, vanilla extract, and balsamic vinegar.  I was surprised this recipe called for balsamic vinegar, but I think it helps it from  being overly sweet and makes the flavor more complex.  In other words, it gives the mousse a little extra something special!

 

[caption id="attachment_2874" align="alignnone" width="640"]Avocado with maple syrup, coconut butter, coconut butter, vanilla extract, and balsamic vinegar Avocado with maple syrup, coconut butter, coconut butter, vanilla extract, and balsamic vinegar[/caption]

 

Then combine the ingredients in the food processor.

 

[caption id="attachment_2875" align="alignnone" width="640"]Pureed Ingredients Pureed Ingredients[/caption]

 

And last but not least, add the cocoa powder to give the dessert its delicious chocolate taste!

 

[caption id="attachment_2876" align="alignnone" width="640"]Mixing in Cocoa Powder Mixing in Cocoa Powder[/caption]

 

The end result is a heavenly looking chocolate dessert.

 

[caption id="attachment_2877" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Chocolate Mousse Vegan Chocolate Mousse[/caption]

 

Simply spoon in out into a container and enjoy!!

 

[caption id="attachment_2878" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Chocolate Mousse Vegan Chocolate Mousse[/caption]

 

 

 

Vegan Chocolate Mousse
 
Ingredients
  • 1.5 cups avocados
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • ½ tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1.25 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
Instructions
  1. Mix avocados, maple syrup, coconut sugar, vanilla extract, and balsamic vinegar in food processor and process until smooth.
  2. Slowly add coca powder and process until completely combined.
  3. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator for up to one week. It can also be stored in the freezer for longer.

 

Vegan Raw Balls

One of my all time favorite cookbooks is Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet.  It is a wonderful vegan resource full of appetizer, breakfast, soup, salad, and dessert recipes.  The recipes are truly unique and always delicious.  My mouth always begins watering when I get to the dessert section of the cookbook.  And the Raw Balls with their chocolately nut base are no exception — they are a rich and decadent treat!

[caption id="attachment_2708" align="alignnone" width="640"]Pair of Vegan Raw Balls Pair of Vegan Raw Balls[/caption]

 

First, gather up the ingredients for the Raw Balls.  I always enjoy seeing the natural and fresh ingredients laid out on my kitchen counter.  No refined sugar here!

 

[caption id="attachment_2699" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Raw Balls Ingredients Vegan Raw Balls Ingredients[/caption]

 

The first step is to grind the walnuts in the food processor.

 

[caption id="attachment_2700" align="alignnone" width="640"]Almonds in Food Processor Almonds in Food Processor[/caption]

 

Then add the dates…

 

[caption id="attachment_2701" align="alignnone" width="640"]Adding Dates to Food Processor Adding Dates to Food Processor[/caption]

 

And mix together!

 

[caption id="attachment_2702" align="alignnone" width="640"]Dates and Almonds Mixed Together Dates and Almonds Mixed Together[/caption]

 

Then add the carob powder and the almond butter to the mixture.

 

[caption id="attachment_2703" align="alignnone" width="640"]Mixing in Almond Butter and Cacao Powder Mixing in Almond Butter and Cacao Powder[/caption]

 

Finally, add in the almonds.

 

[caption id="attachment_2704" align="alignnone" width="640"]Adding in Almonds Adding in Almonds[/caption]

 

Make sure not to over process the almonds!  These balls taste great when there are small almond chunks mixed in for added texture.

 

[caption id="attachment_2705" align="alignnone" width="640"]Raw Ball Dough with Almond Chunks Raw Ball Dough with Almond Chunks[/caption]

 

Next, it’s time to roll the mixture into small balls.  It helps if you wet your hands before trying to do this as the mixture is sticky.  Spread out the coconut flakes on a flat surface and lightly roll the balls until covered in a snowy white layer.

 

[caption id="attachment_2706" align="alignnone" width="640"]Coating Raw Balls in Coconut Flakes Coating Raw Balls in Coconut Flakes[/caption]

 

Store the Raw Balls in the freezer, and enjoy!

 

[caption id="attachment_2707" align="alignnone" width="640"]Pile of Vegan Raw Balls Pile of Vegan Raw Balls[/caption]

 

Raw Balls
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ½ cup pitted dates
  • ½ cup carob powder
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ sea salt
  • ½ cup almonds
  • 2 cups shredded coconut
Instructions
  1. Process walnuts in food processor until coarsely ground.
  2. Add dates and process until combined.
  3. Add carob powder, syrup, almond butter, vanilla extract, and salt and process until the mixture is thick and smooth.
  4. Add almonds and pulse a few times -- there should still be pieces of almonds mixed in
  5. Form mixture into golf sized balls with hands and roll in shredded coconut.
  6. Place in sealed container and freeze until hardened.

 

Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

I’ve been having a real sweet tooth lately.  Maybe that’s what happens when you’re 5 months pregnant? I have been trying to at least divert my cravings to things that are somewhat healthy.  When my latest desire hit, I went to what has quickly become my favorite dessert cookbook: BabyCakes: Vegan, (Mostly) Gluten-Free, and (Mostly) Sugar-Free Recipes from New York’s Most Talked-About Bakery.  Normally, I’m a chocolate person.  However, there was something about the lemon/poppy seed combination that made me want to try it out.  And I am GLAD I did!!  I will be making this lemon poppy seed cake soon 🙂

 

[caption id="attachment_2667" align="alignnone" width="640"]Baked Loaves of Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Bread Baked Loaves of Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Bread[/caption]

 

First, it’s time to round up the Lemon Poppy Seed Cake ingredients.

 

[caption id="attachment_2661" align="alignnone" width="640"]Lemon Poppy Seed Bread Ingredients Lemon Poppy Seed Bread Ingredients[/caption]

 

Place the rice milk, apple cider vinegar, and poppy seeds in a bowl without stirring, and set the bowl aside.

 

[caption id="attachment_2662" align="alignnone" width="640"]Lemon Poppy Seed Bread Wet Ingredients Lemon Poppy Seed Bread Wet Ingredients[/caption]

 

Measure out and mix together the lemon poppy seed cake dry ingredients — the gluten-free flour, brown rice flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt.

 

[caption id="attachment_2663" align="alignnone" width="640"]Lemon Poppy Seed Wet Ingredients Lemon Poppy Seed Wet Ingredients[/caption]

 

Then it’s time to add the wet ingredients — coconut oil, agave nectar, apple sauce, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and lemon peel.

 

[caption id="attachment_2664" align="alignnone" width="640"]Lemon Poppy Seed Bread Wet Ingredients Lemon Poppy Seed Bread Wet Ingredients[/caption]

 

Finally, add in the poppy seed mixture and combine.

 

[caption id="attachment_2665" align="alignnone" width="640"]Lemon Poppy Seed Wet Ingredients Mixed Together Lemon Poppy Seed Wet Ingredients Mixed Together[/caption]

 

Grease the loaf pan (I decided to make mini loafs!) with coconut oil, and pour the batter in.  My batter was runnier than other loaf and cake batter I have made in the past.  But don’t worry!

 

[caption id="attachment_2666" align="alignnone" width="640"]Lemon Poppy Seed Batter in MIni Loaf Pan Lemon Poppy Seed Batter in MIni Loaf Pan[/caption]

 

My mini lemon poppy seed cake loaves turned out very well — they were super moist and a delightful contrast of sweet and tangy flavors.

 

[caption id="attachment_2668" align="alignnone" width="640"]Baked Lemon Poppy Seed Loaves in Pan Baked Lemon Poppy Seed Loaves in Pan[/caption]

 

I will for sure be making this lemon poppy seed cake again soon!!

 

[caption id="attachment_2671" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Bread Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Bread[/caption]

Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
 
Ingredients
  • ⅔ cup rice milk
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup poppy seeds
  • ¾ cup gluten-free flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
  • ½ cup brown rice flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup coconut oil, plus extra to grease loaf pan
  • ¾ cup agave nectar
  • ⅓ cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • t tablespoons lemon extract
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Put rice milk, apple cider vinegar, and poppy seeds in bowl. Do NOT stir and set aside
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the gluten-free flour, the brown rice flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt
  4. Then add the coconut oil, agave nectar, applesauce, vanilla, lemon extract, lemon zest, and mix together.
  5. Stir in the rice milk, apple cider vinegar, and poppy seed mixture.
  6. Grease loaf pan with coconut oil.
  7. Pour batter into loaf pan and cook for 35 minutes. Rotate pan in oven 180 degrees after 18 minutes.
  8. Allow cake to cool for at least 20 minutes. Then use a knife to run around the edge of the loaf. Gently flip the loaf pan upside down and allow loaf to fall out into your hand. Place on a plate.
  9. Serve immediately or wait until completely cool to store in airtight container.

 

Healthy Creations: Vegan Friendly

[caption id="attachment_2638" align="alignnone" width="640"]Healthy Creations Healthy Creations[/caption]

 

ENCINITAS.  I love, love, love Healthy Creations.  I stop in every time I am up in Encinitas.  They don’t have a particularly fancy menu or crazy interior decor.  So what makes Healthy Creations so great?  Every menu item is created with careful thought and made with quality ingredients.  Quite simply, everything tastes amazing.

 

Soups:

 

Healthy Creations always has two home made soups, one of which is usually vegan.  And believe me, they are worth sampling.  The butternut squash soup has become one of my favorites.  It is thick with an almost pumpkin flavor and reminds me of fall.

 

[caption id="attachment_2639" align="alignnone" width="640"]Butternut Squash Soup Butternut Squash Soup[/caption]

 

Another great option is the Vegetable Soup.  This is not the bland veggie soup out of a can, I grew up eating.  It is full of fresh vegetables and seasoned with just the right mix of herbs.

 

[caption id="attachment_2640" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegetable Soup Vegetable Soup[/caption]

 

Sandwiches and Burgers:

 

The Sunshine Veggie Burger is one of my staple orders.  The gluten free and soy free burger is topped with spring greens, tomatoes, sprouts, chipotle aioli, and avocado.  Just remember to ask for vegan bread as the burger is usually served on a bun that is NOT vegan.

 

[caption id="attachment_2641" align="alignnone" width="640"]Veggie Burger Veggie Burger[/caption]

 

Healthy Creations has recently added a vegan BLT to their menu.  House made coconut bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado are sandwiched between two pieces of vegan bread.  The vegan BLT’s I’ve tried in the past use tempeh bacon, so I was intrigued to try the coconut bacon.  I really enjoyed the taste, and  the fact that the coconut bacon isn’t a processed product like tempeh bacon!

 

[caption id="attachment_2642" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan BLT Vegan BLT[/caption]

 

And if you fall in love with the coconut bacon, it is available for purchase at Healthy Creations!

 

[caption id="attachment_2648" align="alignnone" width="493"]Coconut Bacon Coconut Bacon[/caption]

 

Desserts:

 

Healthy Creations doesn’t forget about dessert.  One item that shouldn’t be missed is the mini-cream sandwich.  The cookies are soft and chewy and the frosting inside is smooth and creamy.  I also love their size — they’re the perfect way to satisfy a sweet tooth without going overboard.

 

[caption id="attachment_2643" align="alignnone" width="640"]Mini Cream Sandwich Mini Cream Sandwich[/caption]

 

And then there is the Raw Lemon Bar.  Each bar has two layers: a sticky, cakey bottom and a tangy, lemony topping.  This is a refreshing dessert and a great choice if you  are looking for something sweet and light.

 

[caption id="attachment_2646" align="alignnone" width="640"]Raw Lemon Bar Raw Lemon Bar[/caption]

 

Drinks and Smoothies:

 

The drinks at Healthy Creations also should also not be overlooked.  My favorite? The Chocolate Malted Almond Milk.  This is the drink for anyone who has fond memories of chocolate malts from childhood.  Somehow when maca is combined with chocolate almond milk, the result is a rich and satisfying, malty flavored drink.  Mine always disappears before the food arrives!

 

[caption id="attachment_2644" align="alignnone" width="490"]Malted Chocolate Drink Malted Chocolate Drink[/caption]

 

If you’re feeling like something cool and fresh, I recommend ordering the Gogi Berry Bliss Smoothie.  This bright pink smoothie is made from strawberries, house made almond or coconut milk, goji berries, and dates, and is then topped with hemp seeds.  The fruit and house made milk combine to make a creamy and irresistible smoothie.

 

[caption id="attachment_2645" align="alignnone" width="511"]Strawberry Smoothie Strawberry Smoothie[/caption]

 

Healthy Creations has a cozy interior.  A perfect place to relax and enjoy a snack or a meal.  Customers order at the front and wait until food is brought out to their table.  Healthy Creations also has a “to-go” case with juices and pre-made, frozen meals.

 

[caption id="attachment_2649" align="alignnone" width="640"]Interior Healthy Creations Interior Healthy Creations[/caption]

 

Recently, Healthy Creations has created a separate menu listing their vegan options.  Now you don’t have to examine the ingredient lists to determine whether an item is vegan!  So thank you Healthy Creations! I can’t wait to visit again soon.

 

[caption id="attachment_2651" align="alignnone" width="640"]Healthy Creations Vegan Menu Healthy Creations Vegan Menu[/caption]

 

376 North El Camino Real

Encinitas, CA 92024

760.479.0500

Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Strawberries and rhubarb might be the most perfect food combination — the sweetness of the strawberries paired with the tart rhubarb creates sublime results.  This crisp is based off of a recipe from Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life.  That’s right, the author that used to appear on your school reading list (think the Poisonwood Bible and Animal Dreams), has written her first non-fiction narrative describing her adventures in mindful consumption.  She and her family vowed for a year to buy food raised in their neighborhood, grow the food themselves, or to live without for a year.  Although the book’s focus is not on the vegan diet, it is an interesting read that describes one family’s attempts to to bridge the gap between food production and consumption.

Now for the delicious crisp recipe!!

 

[caption id="attachment_2561" align="alignnone" width="640"]Piece of Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler on Plate Piece of Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler on Plate[/caption]

 

First, gather your ingredients.  One of the best things about this recipe is its simplicity.  Chances are, you have many of the necessary items already sitting in your kitchen!

 

[caption id="attachment_2549" align="alignnone" width="640"]Ingredients for Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Ingredients for Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp[/caption]

 

Chop the strawberries and…

 

[caption id="attachment_2550" align="alignnone" width="640"]Freshly Cut Strawberries Freshly Cut Strawberries[/caption]

 

the rhubarb into small pieces.

 

[caption id="attachment_2551" align="alignnone" width="640"]Freshly Cut Rhubarb Freshly Cut Rhubarb[/caption]

 

Place the fruit in a bowl, add the agave, and combine.

 

[caption id="attachment_2552" align="alignnone" width="640"]Chopped Strawberries and Rhubarb Mixed with Agave Chopped Strawberries and Rhubarb Mixed with Agave[/caption]

 

Now it’s time for the topping (ie everyone’s favorite part!).  Add the oats, brown sugar, spices, and non-dairy butter to a bowl…

 

[caption id="attachment_2553" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Topping Ingredients Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Topping Ingredients[/caption]

 

And combine!

 

[caption id="attachment_2554" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Topping Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Topping[/caption]

 

Add the fruit layer to the pan.

 

[caption id="attachment_2556" align="alignnone" width="640"]Strawberry Rhubarb Layer Strawberry Rhubarb Layer[/caption]

 

Then sprinkle on the crisp’s topping.  After a short time in the oven, your crisp is ready to eat!

 

[caption id="attachment_2563" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp in Pan Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp in Pan[/caption]

 

Since finding this recipe, I have made it twice.  The first time, I put the crisp in an 8 X 8 baking dish, and achieved excellent results.  On my second go around, I divided the fruit and the topping mixtures into 4 ramekins and was equally as thrilled.  I have a feeling this dessert will be making an appearance at my next dinner party!

 

[caption id="attachment_2559" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler in Ramekin Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler in Ramekin[/caption]

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
 
Ingredients
  • 3 cups strawberries, sliced
  • 3 cups rhubarb, chopped
  • ¼ – ½ cup agave nectar, depending on the sweetness of the berries
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ⅓ cup non-dairy butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Slice strawberries and chop rhubarb.
  3. Place fruit into bowl, add agave, and stir well.
  4. In a separate bowl add flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and non-dairy butter and combine.
  5. Transfer fruit mixture to an 8 X 8 (un-greased) pan
  6. Sprinkle topping over fruit mixture
  7. Bake for 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown
  8. Enjoy immediately or allow to cool and store in an airtight container.

 

 

Native Foods: 100% Vegan

[caption id="attachment_2533" align="alignnone" width="652"]Native Foods Cafe Sign Native Foods Cafe Sign[/caption]

 

POINT LOMA and ENCINITAS.  If you have never been to Native Foods, you are missing out.  It is a haven for vegans and is guaranteed to impress even habitual meat eaters.  The menu boasts an array of starters, salads, bowls, burgers, and desserts that will leave you feeling satiated, happy, and planning your return trip!

On my most recent trip to the new Point Loma location, I started with the chili — white beans and Native chili meat simmered with tomatoes and special spices — and cornbread.  I thoroughly enjoyed this starter.  It has a great flavor thanks to the spices, and I enjoyed dunking my generous piece of cornbread in it!  We’ll just say that it disappeared (with the help of my lunch partner!).  Quickly.

 

[caption id="attachment_2534" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Chili and Cornbread Vegan Chili and Cornbread[/caption]

 

You can’t go wrong when ordering one of the bowls from Native Foods.  The Rockin’ Morrocan is a satisfying mix of grilled veggies and quinoa mixed with tofu or Native Chicken and topped with homemade Moroccan sauce, currants, and toasted almonds.  There is a lot going on in this bowl, but it is all good!  I love the crunch from the toasted almonds mixed with the sweetness from the currants.  Plus, you end up eating a good number of veggies without even realizing it!

 

[caption id="attachment_2535" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Rockin' Moroccan Bowl Vegan Rockin’ Moroccan Bowl[/caption]

 

I have fond memories of inhaling fish tacos on San Diego’s pervasive “Taco Tuesdays.”  Since becoming vegan, I’ve looked for a replacement.  And I finally found it in Native Food’s Baja Blackened Tacos.  These tacos are comprised of two grilled soft corn tortillas stuffed with blackened Native Tempeh and topped with creamy chipotle sauce, salsa fresca, shredded cabbage, and guacamole.  Delightful!!    Native Foods completely transforms the tempeh, so it is soft and tender to bite.  The best part?  The creamy chipotle sauce and guacamole give these plant-based tacos a rich, full flavor and ensures they are not dry.

 

[caption id="attachment_2536" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Baja Blackened Tacos Vegan Baja Blackened Tacos[/caption]

 

Native Foods doesn’t rely on typical offerings to prop up the burger section of their menu.  Instead, you will find unique items like the Portobello and Sausage Burger.  Juicy grilled portobellos and home made Native Sausage Seitan make up the base of this burger.  It’s then topped with caramelized onions, salsa pomodoro, sweet roasted garlic, creamy pumpkin seed pesto and mayo.  The full-bodied sausage seitan contrasted nicely with the mellow portobello flavor.  Plus, the caramelized onions were cooked to perfection.  And who can say no to pumpkin seed pesto?  This is a choice that is sure to please everyone.

 

[caption id="attachment_2537" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Portobello and Sausage Burger Vegan Portobello and Sausage Burger[/caption]

 

Native Foods has some great home made beverage options that are great alternatives to soda.  Pick from Lavender Lemonade, Watermelon Fresca, or home brewed iced teas.  The Hibiscus iced tea pictured below was a refreshing option.  Particularly, if you are visiting Native Foods during part of a heat wave like I was!  And did I mention that you get unlimited re-fills?  That means you can rotate among the drinks if you want to try them all!

 

[caption id="attachment_2540" align="alignnone" width="460"]Hibiscus Tea Hibiscus Tea[/caption]

 

Of course, I couldn’t get out of Native Foods without a dessert.  They are too good.  And for a chocoholic like me, the chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting was the perfect choice.  The desserts are all made in house, and you can tell.  Each chocolately bite was well worth the indulgence.

 

[caption id="attachment_2538" align="alignnone" width="523"]Vegan Chocolate Cupcake Vegan Chocolate Cupcake[/caption]

 

Native Foods has a friendly, bright interior.  It’s perfect place to pick up a “to go” lunch when you’re in a hurry or to sit and linger with friends and family.  The staff is also extremely helpful in offering suggestions whether it’s your first time visiting or you just want to try something new.

 

[caption id="attachment_2539" align="alignnone" width="640"]Interior Native Foods Interior Native Foods[/caption]

 

Native Foods also provides outdoor patio seating with umbrellas.  A perfect spot to enjoy warm weather and relax.

 

[caption id="attachment_2541" align="alignnone" width="640"]Native Foods Interior Native Foods Interior[/caption]

 

Native Foods is also a great to place if you have any additional dietary restrictions or preferences.  The restaurant offers gluten-free, soy free, and nut free menus for customers’ convenience (check out the links below).  So enjoy!

 

 

Point Loma:

3369 Rosecrans Street

San Diego, CA 92110

619.225.1155

 

Encinitas:

127 N. El Camino Real

Encinitas, CA 92024

760.634.7607

 

Vegan Maple Walnut Cookies

Usually, I am a fiend for chocolate.  A dessert missing this magic ingredient has to be pretty special.  But that’s what these Vegan Maple Walnut Cookies are.  Special.  They are soft, sweet, with a delicious crunch.  The only issue you’ll have, is how to stop eating them!

 

[caption id="attachment_2388" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Maple Cookies Vegan Maple Cookies[/caption]

 

Gather up your ingredients…

 

[caption id="attachment_2390" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Maple Walnut Cookie Ingredients Vegan Maple Walnut Cookie Ingredients[/caption]

 

First, place the dry ingredients in a bowl.

 

[caption id="attachment_2378" align="alignnone" width="564"]Dry Ingredients for Maple Cookies Dry Ingredients for Maple Cookies[/caption]

 

Then add the wet ingredients.

 

[caption id="attachment_2379" align="alignnone" width="640"]Mixing in Wet Ingredients Mixing in Wet Ingredients[/caption]

 

Mix everything together, and the dough for the Maple Walnut Cookies is ready!  Don’t worry if it seems a little more runny than typical cookie dough.  The cookies will firm up in the oven.

 

[caption id="attachment_2382" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Maple Cookie Dough Vegan Maple Cookie Dough[/caption]

 

Scoop out cookie dough from the bowl with a spoon!  If you want, place a whole walnut on top of each cookie for added decoration 🙂

 

[caption id="attachment_2385" align="alignnone" width="640"]Maple Cookie Dough on Sheets Maple Cookie Dough on Sheets[/caption]

 

For an extra special treat, enjoy a warm cookie fresh from the oven.

 

[caption id="attachment_2386" align="alignnone" width="640"]Maple Cookies on Cookie Sheet Maple Cookies on Cookie Sheet[/caption]

 

I love making Maple Walnut Cookies all year round.  The walnut and maple flavors blend together perfectly to create an unbeatable treat.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

 

[caption id="attachment_2387" align="alignnone" width="640"]Maple Cookies Maple Cookies[/caption]

 

Vegan Maple Walnut Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1.5 cups + 6 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 6 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mix the rolled oats, whole wheat pastry flour, chopped walnuts, and salt together.
  3. Then mix in the syrup, sunflower oil, and vanilla.
  4. Place spoonfuls of dough on cookie sheet and bake for 14 minutes

 

Vegan Chocolate Beet Cake

Should veggies really have a place in dessert recipes?  I say yes!  We use carrots to make delectable cakes, so why not use beets to enhance the flavor of a chocolate cake!  Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s Beet Bundt Cake recipe from her cookbook, The Vegan Table: 200 Unforgettable Recipes for Entertaining Every Guest at Every Occasion, ensures that all you will taste is a dense, chocolate treat that is sure to leave you wanting seconds!

 

[caption id="attachment_2262" align="alignnone" width="640"]Bundt Cake with Piece Missing Bundt Cake with Piece Missing[/caption]

 

Gather your ingredients.  For me, there’s nothing worse than getting halfway through a recipe before realizing I’m missing something!

 

[caption id="attachment_2250" align="alignnone" width="640"]Chocolate Beet Cake Chocolate Beet Cake[/caption]

 

First, place the beets in a pot of boiling water — the water will likely turn red but that’s ok!  It takes a while to soften the beets, so I recommend starting with this step.

Did you know that beets have crazy health benefits?   They help lower blood pressure, boost stamina, fight inflammation, have anti-cancer properties, are rich in nutrients and fiber, and help with detoxification.  That’s pretty impressive for a vegetable! If you want to learn more about the benefits of beets, click here!

 

[caption id="attachment_2251" align="alignnone" width="640"]Boiling Beets Boiling Beets[/caption]

 

Once the beets are ready, place them in the food processor…

 

[caption id="attachment_2253" align="alignnone" width="640"]Beets in Food Processor Beets in Food Processor[/caption]

 

And pulse until pureed!

 

[caption id="attachment_2254" align="alignnone" width="640"]Pureed Beets in Food Processor Pureed Beets in Food Processor[/caption]

 

Next, melt the chocolate chips.

 

[caption id="attachment_2255" align="alignnone" width="640"]Melting Chocolate Chips Melting Chocolate Chips[/caption]

 

Place the canola oil, brown sugar, pureed beets, melted chocolate chips, and vanilla into a bowl.  I also like to throw in some extra chocolate chips (and no I don’t think an extra 1/2 cup is too much!), so that my cake will have small bursts of chocolatey flavor!

 

[caption id="attachment_2256" align="alignnone" width="640"]Wet Ingredients in Chocolate Beet Cake Wet Ingredients in Chocolate Beet Cake[/caption]

 

Mix the wet ingredients together and admire the beautiful dark red batter!

 

[caption id="attachment_2257" align="alignnone" width="640"]Mixed Wet Ingredients Mixed Wet Ingredients[/caption]

 

Mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) in a separate bowl.

 

[caption id="attachment_2289" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Chocolate Beet Cake Dry Ingredients Vegan Chocolate Beet Cake Dry Ingredients[/caption]

 

And add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in small batches.

 

[caption id="attachment_2258" align="alignnone" width="640"]Mixing Dry and Wet Ingredients Mixing Dry and Wet Ingredients[/caption]

 

Once combined, it’s time to pour the batter into the bundt cake pan.  As you can see from my picture, the batter did NOT fill up my bundt cake pan.  If that’s the case for you, remember that your cooking time will be less.  Or you can always double the recipe for a full bundt pan and even more cake 🙂

 

[caption id="attachment_2259" align="alignnone" width="640"]Batter in Bundt Pan Batter in Bundt Pan[/caption]

 

And after a short stay in the oven, you’ll have a delicious looking cake!

 

[caption id="attachment_2260" align="alignnone" width="640"]Baked Cake in Bundt Pan Baked Cake in Bundt Pan[/caption]

 

Wait for the cake to cool a little before removing the it from the pan.  Then sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar!

 

[caption id="attachment_2261" align="alignnone" width="640"]Aerial View of Bundt Cake Aerial View of Bundt Cake[/caption]

 

Personally, I love the subtle chocolate flavor and thickness of this cake.  However, there are some easy and tasty substitutions you can also implement according to personal taste like…

– adding extra chocolate chips for extra bursts of chocolate flavor

– adding some cocoa powder for an overall bolder chocolate taste

– topping the cake with a vegan frosting or glaze

– making the batter into cupcakes

 

Vegan Chocolate Beet Cake
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1.5 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups pureed beets
  • 1 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ⅓ teaspoon salt
  • powdered sugar for dusting cake
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease bundt pan.
  2. Mix canola oil, brown sugar, pureed beets, chocolate chips, and vanilla together.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. Add to wet ingredients and mix until combined.
  5. Pour cake batter into bundt cake pan and bake for 30-40 minutes.
  6. Allow cake to cook at least 10 minutes before trying to remove from bundt pan.
  7. Decorate with powdered sugar and any other toppings.
  8. Serve immediately or allow cake to cool completely and store in airtight container.

 

 

Vegan Brownies

I am a brownie lover.  I am a brownie lover who has (until recently!) shied away from making vegan brownies.  Why?  They final results are often dry, tasteless, and crumbly.

So, when I walked into my vegan cooking class and my teacher, Liz Gary, announced the group of recipes for the day would include vegan brownies (which were also gluten-free), I knew I had to be assigned to the brownie group.  We used the recipe from BabyCakes: Vegan, (Mostly) Gluten-Free, and (Mostly) Sugar-Free Recipes from New York’s Most Talked-About Bakery by Erin McKenna.  This was my first time using a recipe from the BabyCakes cookbook.  After making these brownies, it is high on my list to purchase!

 

 

First, we gathered the ingredients…

 

[caption id="attachment_1213" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Brownie Ingredients Vegan Brownie Ingredients[/caption]

 

Including the apple sauce that would ensure the brownies were moist!

 

[caption id="attachment_1819" align="alignnone" width="300"]Apple Sauce Apple Sauce[/caption]

 

The dry ingredients went in the bowl first.  I would recommend taking a moment to smell the cocoa powder! YUM!

 

[caption id="attachment_1212" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Brownie Dry Ingredients Vegan Brownie Dry Ingredients[/caption]

 

Then add the wet ingredients.

 

[caption id="attachment_1820" align="alignnone" width="640"]Mixing Vegan Brownie Ingredients Together Mixing Vegan Brownie Ingredients Together[/caption]

 

And mix together.  Looking at this picture of the vegan brownie batter is making my mouth water right now!

 

[caption id="attachment_1824" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Brownie Batter Vegan Brownie Batter[/caption]

 

The only thing better than brownies? Brownies with chocolate chips!

 

[caption id="attachment_1830" align="alignnone" width="640"]Brownie Batter with Chocolate Chips Brownie Batter with Chocolate Chips[/caption]

 

Once the chocolate chips were mixed in, it was time to pour the batter into the pan.

 

[caption id="attachment_1825" align="alignnone" width="640"]Pouring Vegan Brownie Batter into Pan Pouring Vegan Brownie Batter into Pan[/caption]

 

Spread the batter evenly.  I was happy my class made a double batch of these brownies, because I had a feeling they were going to go fast!

 

[caption id="attachment_1826" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Brownie Batter in Pan Vegan Brownie Batter in Pan[/caption]

 

The brownies went in the oven, and soon aromas of baked chocolate were wafting through the kitchen.  Heavenly.

 

[caption id="attachment_1827" align="alignnone" width="640"]Baked Vegan Brownies Baked Vegan Brownies[/caption]

 

The brownies were soft, moist, melt in your mouth, chocolate bombs.  I’m thrilled that I have a “go to” recipe for vegan brownies.  They will definitely be in my rotation for potlucks and dinner parties.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! Happy baking!

 

[caption id="attachment_1828" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Brownie Topped with Cashew Cream Vegan Brownie Topped with Cashew Cream[/caption]

 

Vegan Brownies
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup garbonzo/fava bean flour
  • ¼ cup potato starch
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
  • ½ cup coffee
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Grease pan with coconut oil.
  3. In bowl mix together garbonzo/fava bean flour, potato starch, arrowroot, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt.
  4. Mix in chocolate chips.
  5. Pour batter into 9 x 13 pan.
  6. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Brownies are done when toothpick in center comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool. Serve immediately or store in airtight container.

 

Vegan Date Bars

It would be impossible for me to overstate my feelings about dates.  Quite simply, I love them.  I tried my first fresh date three years a go when I arrived in California.  I was hooked, after my first bite into this sweet fruit.  They tasted so good – almost like a caramel candy!  So you can imagine how happy I was when I found out that dates not only are tasty but also are healthy!  Dates are good sources of fiber, potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants.  Click on the link below to find out more about the benefits of eating dates.

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-eating-dates-4386.html

 

One of my favorite recipes using dates comes from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s The Joy of Vegan Baking: The Compassionate Cooks’ Traditional Treats and Sinful Sweets.

 

 

I have been very happy with all of the recipes I have made from The Joy of Vegan Baking.  The Date Bars – a sweet date filling sandwiched between delicious, oat layers – are no exception.

 

[caption id="attachment_1786" align="alignnone" width="640"]Date Bars on Table Date Bars on Table[/caption]

 

To get started, gather up your ingredients!

 

[caption id="attachment_1766" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Date Bar Ingredients Vegan Date Bar Ingredients[/caption]

 

Remove the pits from the dates.  I suggest wetting your hands during the “de-pitting” process, as it makes the dates easier to handle.  I like to use either Medjool or Barhi dates, but I’m sure there are other types that would work as well!

 

[caption id="attachment_1767" align="alignnone" width="640"]Pitted Dates Pitted Dates[/caption]

 

Next, chop up the dates.

 

[caption id="attachment_1768" align="alignnone" width="640"]Chopped Dates Chopped Dates[/caption]

 

Add the dates, vanilla, and salt to the boiling water.  This is when delicious aromas will begin to fill your kitchen.  This date mixture tastes good on its own.  I highly recommend taking a time out for a taste test!

 

[caption id="attachment_1769" align="alignnone" width="640"]Filling Ingredients on Stove Filling Ingredients on Stove[/caption]

 

Assemble all of the ingredients for the oat layers in a bowl…

 

[caption id="attachment_1770" align="alignnone" width="640"]Topping Ingredients in Bowl Topping Ingredients in Bowl[/caption]

 

And combine!

 

[caption id="attachment_1771" align="alignnone" width="640"]Topping Ingredients Mixed Together Topping Ingredients Mixed Together[/caption]

 

Take half of the oat layer mixture, and press it into the greased baking pan.

 

[caption id="attachment_1772" align="alignnone" width="640"]1st Layer: Date Bars 1st Layer: Date Bars[/caption]

 

Then add the date mixture…

 

[caption id="attachment_1773" align="alignnone" width="640"]Date Filling Date Filling[/caption]

 

And spread evenly.

 

[caption id="attachment_1774" align="alignnone" width="640"]2nd Layer: Date Filling 2nd Layer: Date Filling[/caption]

 

Add the second oat layer on top of the date mixture, and press it down gently with your hands.

 

[caption id="attachment_1775" align="alignnone" width="640"]3rd Layer: Topping 3rd Layer: Topping[/caption]

 

It’s now ready for the oven!

 

[caption id="attachment_1776" align="alignnone" width="640"]Side View Date Bars Side View Date Bars[/caption]

 

Keep in mind that it is best to allow the bars to cool before cutting.

 

[caption id="attachment_1777" align="alignnone" width="640"]Date Bars with Corner Cut Out Date Bars with Corner Cut Out[/caption]

 

The Date Bars are perfect for any time of the day.  Their coffee cake like consistency make them a great breakfast or brunch treat, and they work well as a mid-day snack or as a dessert at the end of a meal.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

 

[caption id="attachment_1783" align="alignnone" width="640"]Stack of Date Bars Stack of Date Bars[/caption]

Vegan Date Bars
 
Ingredients
  • Filling
  • 1.25 cups water
  • 16-18 dates Medjool dates or 32-36 Barhi dates, roughly chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Oat Layer
  • 3 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ cup non-dairy butter (like Earth Balance), melted
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup water (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Grease an 8 x 8 pan
  3. To make filling, bring water to boil and add chopped dates, vanilla, and salt.
  4. Allow to simmer until dates are soft
  5. To make the oat layer, mix oats, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, non-dairy butter, and canola oil
  6. Stir until combined. Add additional water if necessary. Mixture should be moist but not wet.
  7. Press half of the oat layer into the greased pan.
  8. Spread date mixture over crust.
  9. Press other half of the oat layer over date layer.
  10. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes.
  11. Allow to cool, and cut into bars.
  12. Enjoy immediately, or store in airtight container.

 

Vegan Whipped Cream

December is the season for desserts.  And isn’t every dessert made better with a dollop of whipped cream?  I recently attended Veg-Appeal’s vegan holiday cooking class and was blown away by their 3-ingredient Whipped Cashew Cream recipe (the link for the Veg-Appeal class is at: www.thefussyfork.com/veg-appeal/).  So much so that I had to share it with you!

 

[caption id="attachment_1662" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Whipped Cream on Brownie Vegan Whipped Cream on Brownie[/caption]

 

First, it’s time to gather the ingredients.  It won’t take much time!

 

[caption id="attachment_1658" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Whipped Cream Ingredients Vegan Whipped Cream Ingredients[/caption]

 

Next, soak the cashews.  Simply, place the cashews in a bowl and pour water on top.

 

[caption id="attachment_1667" align="alignnone" width="640"]Soaking Cashews Soaking Cashews[/caption]

 

Once the cashews have soaked for a few hours, drain the water.

 

[caption id="attachment_1659" align="alignnone" width="640"]Cashews in Strainer Cashews in Strainer[/caption]

 

Place all of the ingredients in the blender…

 

[caption id="attachment_1660" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Whipped Cream in Blender Vegan Whipped Cream in Blender[/caption]

 

And combine until smooth and fluffy!

 

[caption id="attachment_1661" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Whipped Cream in Blender Vegan Whipped Cream in Blender[/caption]

 

The cashew cream will taste light, sweet, and creamy.

 

[caption id="attachment_1665" align="alignnone" width="640"]Cashew Cream in Bowl Cashew Cream in Bowl[/caption]

 

So good, you won’t want to go back to traditional whipped cream!

 

[caption id="attachment_1668" align="alignnone" width="640"]Aerial View of Brownie and Vegan Whipped Cream Aerial View of Brownie and Vegan Whipped Cream[/caption]

 

 

Vegan Whipped Cream
 
Ingredients
  • 1.5 cups soaked cashews
  • ¼ - ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
Instructions
  1. Soak cashews in water for 2-8 hours
  2. Drain cashews
  3. Place all ingredients in blender and pulse until smooth and fluffy
  4. For best results, refrigerate for a new hours before serving

 

Vegan Pumpkin Butter Cookies

I don’t know of a better fall activity than getting cozy in my apartment and baking a pumpkin treat.  So once I had whipped up pumpkin butter (see previous post: www.thefussyfork.com/vegan-pumpkin-butter), I knew I had to make Pumpkin Butter Cookies.  Why? Because nothing welcomes the holiday season like pumpkin shaped cookies!

 

[caption id="attachment_1371" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Pumpkin Butter Cookies on Tray Vegan Pumpkin Butter Cookies on Tray[/caption]

 

The recipe for the cookies (like the pumpkin butter) can be found in the cookbook, Vegan Desserts: Sumptuous Sweets for Every Season by Hannah Kiminsky.

 

 

First, I gathered my ingredients.

 

[caption id="attachment_1248" align="alignnone" width="640"]Pumpkin Butter Cookie Ingredients Pumpkin Butter Cookie Ingredients[/caption]

 

Ideally, you want the vegan butter you are mixing in to be room temperature.  If this is not possible, be extra vigilant for hidden lumps!

 

[caption id="attachment_1249" align="alignnone" width="640"]Pumpkin Butter and Butter in Bowl Pumpkin Butter and Butter in Bowl[/caption]

 

Soon, I had creamed together the vegan butter and pumpkin butter.

 

[caption id="attachment_1250" align="alignnone" width="640"]Pumpkin Butter and Butter Creamed Together Pumpkin Butter and Butter Creamed Together[/caption]

 

It was then time for the dry ingredients.  Remember to add the dry ingredients in increments, so they don’t puff up into a cloud once the mixer is turned on!

 

[caption id="attachment_1251" align="alignnone" width="640"]Adding Dry Ingredients to Pumpkin Butter Cookies Adding Dry Ingredients to Pumpkin Butter Cookies[/caption]

 

After blending the ingredients together, I ended up with a crumbly, dry mixture.  I was worried I had done something wrong.  However, I found that when I used my hands to knead the dough, it stuck together!

 

[caption id="attachment_1252" align="alignnone" width="536"]Forming Dough Ball for Pumpkin Butter Cookies Forming Dough Ball for Pumpkin Butter Cookies[/caption]

 

I kept going, until I had created one big ball of dough.

 

[caption id="attachment_1253" align="alignnone" width="640"]Pumpkin Butter Cookie Dough Ball Pumpkin Butter Cookie Dough Ball[/caption]

 

After the dough spent 30 minutes in the refrigerator, it was the moment of truth.  Would I be able to create anything that even closely resembled a pumpkin?

I took a small piece of dough, a little smaller than the size of a doughnut hole, and formed it into a ball.  I then gently flattened the top and bottom of the ball and used the side of a toothpick to create vertical lines like those found on a pumpkin.  Finally, I placed a pumpkin seed in the top of the cookie to act as a stem.  The end result was a cookie that actually looked like a pumpkin!

 

[caption id="attachment_1254" align="alignnone" width="640"]Pumpkin Butter Dough Formed into Pumpkins Pumpkin Butter Dough Formed into Pumpkins[/caption]

 

The cookies went on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and into the oven!

 

[caption id="attachment_1255" align="alignnone" width="640"]Pumpkin Cookie Dough on Cookie Sheet Pumpkin Cookie Dough on Cookie Sheet[/caption]

 

20 minutes later, I had warm, pumpkin butter, pumpkin shaped cookies!

 

[caption id="attachment_1256" align="alignnone" width="640"]Pumpkin Butter Cookies on Cookie Sheet Pumpkin Butter Cookies on Cookie Sheet[/caption]

 

These cookies aren’t just for looks – they are dense, soft, and rich.  They pair well with a cup of tea or non-dairy milk!

 

[caption id="attachment_1257" align="alignnone" width="320"]Pumpkin Butter Cookies in Basket Pumpkin Butter Cookies in Basket[/caption]

 

 

Vegan Pumpkin Butter Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup pumpkin butter (see recipe at www.thefussyfork.com/vegan-pumpkin-butter)
  • ½ cup non-dairy butter (like Earth Balance)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 and ⅔ cup flour
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • pumpkin seeds
Instructions
  1. Mix pumpkin butter and non-dairy butter together until completely combined
  2. Mix in sugar, flour, cornstarch, spices, and salt
  3. The dough might seem dry but do not add extra liquid
  4. Use hands to form dough into a ball
  5. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
  6. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  7. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper
  8. Form the dough into small balls (a little smaller than a doughnut hole) and flatten the top and bottom slightly
  9. Use the side of a toothpick to create the lines of the pumpkin
  10. Then place a pumpkin seed in the top of the pumpkin
  11. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes

 

Melinda’s Maca Balls

Chocolate treats that are good for you?  Count me in!  Melinda’s Maca Balls are an organic, vegan, raw, snack bursting with rich, chocolate flavor.  And there is one teaspoon of maca in each ball!

 

What is Maca and Why is it Good for Me?

 

Maca has been around for a long time.  Legend has it that Incan warriors used to ingest large amounts of maca for strength before heading into battle.

http://www.thewellnesswarrior.com.au/2011/03/superfood-profile-maca/

 

David Wolf, a vegan who is well known for his dedication to raw foods, superfoods, and longevity, summarizes some of maca’s benefits in the following YouTube Video.  (Mr. Wolf will be familiar to you, if you have seen the documentary “Hungry for Change.”)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJd49HdMDn0

 

Mr. Wolf notes that maca supports healthy hormones, is rich in fatty acids, and contains important trace minerals and amino acids.  Maca is also important, because it helps the body adapt to stress.

Maca’s other possible benefits include increased libido, decreased cholesterol, increased stamina, reduction in post-menopausal symptoms, regulation of hormones, and reduction in migraine headaches.  For additional information on these topics, click on:

http://www.naturalnews.com/maca.html

 

Melinda’s Maca Balls:

 

Melinda’s Maca Balls are made from whole, organic ingredients and come in 3 flavors: (1) Chocolate Walnut, (2) Double Chocolate Chip, and (3) Chocolate Mint Chip.  Agave nectar, cacao, maca, coconut oil, cacao butter, vanilla bean, and Himalayan pink salt make up the base of each ball.

The Chocolate Walnut Maca Ball with its dense, chocolate center is coated with walnut pieces.  It is my favorite — in my opinion, chocolate and walnuts can and should be mixed together as often as possible!

 

[caption id="attachment_1199" align="alignnone" width="640"]Chocolate Walnut Maca Balls Chocolate Walnut Maca Balls[/caption]

 

[caption id="attachment_1203" align="alignnone" width="640"]Chocolate Walnut Maca Ball Container Chocolate Walnut Maca Ball Container[/caption]

 

The Double Chocolate Chip Maca Ball has the same dense, chocolate center but is covered with cacao pieces.  It’s chocolate on chocolate – perfect for those who are looking for their next sumptuous treat!

 

[caption id="attachment_1201" align="alignnone" width="640"]Double Chocolate Maca Balls Double Chocolate Maca Balls[/caption]

 

[caption id="attachment_1200" align="alignnone" width="640"]Double Chocolate Maca Ball Cut in Half Double Chocolate Maca Ball Cut in Half[/caption]

 

So far, I have not been able to find the Chocolate Mint Chip Maca Balls in a store.  However, if the other flavors are a barometer for the Chocolate Mint Chip flavor, I am in for a treat!

 

Melinda’s Maca Balls are a decadent maca delivery device.  I recommend enjoying them sooner rather than later!

 

 

More information on Melinda’s Maca Balls can be found at:

http://www.macaballs.com/home.html

 

For a list of stores where Melinda’s Maca Balls can be purchased, check out:

http://www.macaballs.com/stores.html

 

 

Casa de Luz: 100% Vegan

[caption id="attachment_941" align="alignnone" width="640"]Casa de Luz Sign Casa de Luz Sign[/caption]

 
UPDATE: AS OF 12/9/2013 CASA DE LUZ IS CLOSED.  THEY WILL BE MISSED 

 

NORTH PARK.  Casa de Luz is a 100% vegan, 100% macrobiotic, 100% organic, and 100% gluten free restaurant in North Park.  Further, Casa de Luz offers itself as an educational community center.  This is what makes it special.  Casa transcends the common boundaries of a restaurant to focus on events, classes, and bringing the community together.

What is Macrobiotic Food?

 

For most folks walking into Casa for the first time, the question immediately becomes:  “What is macrobiotic food?”  Turns out, however, that this is a challenging question to answer.

The word “macrobiotic” derives from Greek and means “long life.”  But the diet originated in Japan, then spread across borders of nationality and culture.  Today, many advocates of the macrobiotic diet embrace both principles of East Asian philosophy and the objectives of the western vegan diet.  And for many, it is a lifestyle choice.

Whether a diet or a lifestyle, macrobiotics promotes eating local, seasonal foods that are “balanced.”  Specifically, this targeted balance is a function of (1) each food’s inherent acidity versus alkalinity, and (2) the dueling energies of yin and yang.  First, because most people in modern society consume highly acidic foods – which yield a lower pH level in the blood – macrobiotics recommends more alkaline food and drink.   The list of highly acidic foods is long and surprising.  For example, both milk and sugar are highly acidic.  If you want to see where other foods land on the spectrum of alkalinity and acidity, here is a good website:

http://landsofwisdom.com/?p=3820

Second, and much more mystifying to me, is the pursuit of a balance between the energies of yin (the expanding, outward force) and yang (the contracting inward force).  The good news:  the body seems to crave a balance between the two.  The bad news:  it often craves the extremes, paired together.  Wine (yin) and cheese (yang).  Beer (yin) and burgers (yang).  Unfortunately, each of these foods is highly acidic and – huge surprise – not so good for you.  As a result, macrobiotics relies on foods that are inherently balanced – even on their own – such as certain grains and most of the plant kingdom.  Here is a more robust listing:

http://macrobiotic.about.com/od/gettingstarted/a/YinYang.htm

Bottom line, with macrobiotics, it feels like you need at least a Masters degree just to put together a single meal.  But this is where Casa de Luz comes in!  Casa has the experts who do all the thinking, all the planning, and all the cooking for us simple folk.  All we have to do is show up!

 

Meals at Casa de Luz:

 

The menu at Casa de Luz changes daily.  If you don’t like surprises, simply check Casa’s website for the daily menu!  You can also consult the schedule outlining which cuisines (Asian, Italian, etc.) are served on certain days.  Except for Friday and Saturday, because those days are Chef’s Choice!

 

[caption id="attachment_942" align="alignnone" width="680"]Casa Theme Nights Schedule Casa Theme Nights Schedule[/caption]

 

Lunch: 11:00am – 5:00pm

Dinner: 5:00pm – 9:00pm

 

For both Lunch and Dinner, Casa offers two options: (1) Plate or (2) Seasonal Bowl.

 

1. Plate:

The Plate consistently offers the same building blocks for a true macrobiotic meal: leafy green + grain + bean + veggie + pickle.  The Plate also comes with soup, salad, AND tea.   In fact, you pick up your soup and salad immediately after ordering and paying at the front desk.  Then, later, a Casa staff member will bring the main Plate to your table.

 

[caption id="attachment_943" align="alignnone" width="640"]Sample of Casa Lunch and Dinner Menu Sample of Casa Lunch and Dinner Menu[/caption]

 

On my most recent visit, the soup was Wild Rice and Veggie.   The veggies, celery, zucchini, onions, and carrots, were perfectly tender (but not overly soft).  The flavor, sublime and wonderful, is an excellent example of how macrobiotic food stands apart.  It is not salty, not spicy, and not infused with other flavors seeking to dominate the taste buds.  This soup relies on the quality of its vegetables.  And this soup disappears quickly.

 

[caption id="attachment_944" align="alignnone" width="640"]Casas Wild Rice and Veggie Soup Casas Wild Rice and Veggie Soup[/caption]

 

Next up was the salad: mixed greens, carrots, and cabbage with a nutty fig balsamic dressing.  Casa’s salads never disappoint.  The greens and veggies are always fresh, and the salad dressings are unique and home made.  The nutty, fig, balsamic dressing was a special treat.

 

[caption id="attachment_945" align="alignnone" width="640"]Casas Salad Casas Salad[/caption]

 

The Plate showcased how simple, sturdy blocks can build something wonderful.  The leafy green was kale with a walnut-dill sauce.  The grain was a blend of coconut quinoa and brown rice.  The bean of the night was the reliable black bean, and the vegetable was lemon-herbed broccoli.  Finally, the pickle was not a single stick of cucumber but, rather, a fun medley of unexpected veggies.

The delight is in the details.  The walnut-dill sauce brings the kale alive, and the grains are cooked to the point of perfection – not beyond.  Also, pickled vegetables inject the plate with acute flavor that somehow ends up on the alkaline end of the spectrum.  It is a weird science, but delicious.

 

[caption id="attachment_946" align="alignnone" width="640"]Sample of Casas Entree Sample of Casas Entree[/caption]

 

2. Seasonal Bowls:

Your second option when ordering lunch or dinner is one of two Seasonal Bowls.  These bowls are a recent (and welcome!) addition to Casa’s menu.  They are great for those times when you are not hungry enough to eat a soup, salad, AND entree plate (or when you don’t have a lot of time to eat).

 

[caption id="attachment_947" align="alignnone" width="380"]Casas Bowl Sign Casas Bowl Sign[/caption]

 

The two Seasonal Bowls available right now are the: (i) Tempeh Chili with Tofu Crema and Cornbread and (ii) Grilled Pineapple Curry with Brown Rice.  I recently tried the Tempeh Chili.  Wow.  The chili was warm with a hint of spice.  The tofu crema was creamy (move over, sour cream) and the cornbread was soft, moist, and full of actual kernels of corn.  Always real food.  Always amazing.

 

[caption id="attachment_949" align="alignnone" width="640"]Casas Tempeh Chili with Tofu Crema and Cornbread Casas Tempeh Chili with Tofu Crema and Cornbread[/caption]

 

Weekend Brunch

 

Casa de Luz has recently stopped serving breakfast on the weekdays.  However, rumor on the street is that Casa will begin a weekend Champagne/Kombucha brunch in November.  This is one brunch I don’t want to miss.  Stay tuned for a follow up post!

 

Dessert:

If you have room for dessert after your meal, take a look at Casa’s display case to the left of the cashier.  Cookies, puddings, maple bars, cheesecake, and more!  How are they vegan?  Casa magic.

Most recently, I tried the Mexican Chocolate Mousse.  To say it exceeded my expectations would be a gross understatement.  This was the richest, most intensely chocolate mousse I have tasted.  Ever.   The type of rich where you close your eyes each time you take a bite.

 

[caption id="attachment_950" align="alignnone" width="640"]Casas Mexican Chocolate Mousse Casas Mexican Chocolate Mousse[/caption]

 

Smoothies and Juices:

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the special smoothies and juices offered at Casa de Luz.  Casa offers four smoothies or you can create your own juice!  Because the ingredients are of the highest quality, each smoothie and juice is a standout.

 

[caption id="attachment_951" align="alignnone" width="640"]Casas Smoothie Board Casas Smoothie Board[/caption]

 

I enjoy the Leafy Green Smoothie.  Made from kale, green, apple, cucumber, Vitamineral Green, almond yogurt, almond milk and dates, it is smooth and creamy.  You would never know by its taste that it’s full of veggies!

 

[caption id="attachment_953" align="alignnone" width="547"]Casas Leafy Green Smoothie Casas Leafy Green Smoothie[/caption]

 

Drinks 

Water: 

Even Casa’s water is special, as it is somehow filtered and transformed to an alkaline friendly pH level of 9.5.  Drink it straight up, or infused with cucumber.

 

[caption id="attachment_954" align="alignnone" width="400"]Casas Alkaline Water Dispenser Casas Alkaline Water Dispensers[/caption]

 

Tea and Coffee:

I have mentioned that the lunch and dinner plates come with complimentary tea.  Customers are able to fill (and re-fill!) their glasses with Kukicha Tea.

Before Casa de Luz, I had never heard of Kukicha Tea.  It is made from the twigs of the same plant that produces green tea.  Because they come from the same plant, Kukicha Tea shares the same antioxidant properties as green tea.  It has a smoky flavor and has 90% less caffeine than coffee (green tea has 60% less caffeine than coffee).

http://www.oprah.com/food/Superfoods-List-2012-Sunchokes-Adzuki-Beans-Chia-Seed/5

If Kukicha tea doesn’t sound appealing, Casa also has a variety of herbal, green, and black teas available by the pot.

I don’t drink coffee but if I did, Casa de Luz would be my first stop.  I often see individuals sitting with a blissful look on their faces as they wrap their hands around their Guatemalan French Press Coffee.  And don’t worry, Casa has non-dairy creamers and sweeteners if you don’t like your coffee black!

 

[caption id="attachment_955" align="alignnone" width="640"]Casas Tea and Coffee Board Casas Tea and Coffee Board[/caption]

 

Seating:

 

Casa’s space is the product of the owner’s passion for community.  The main floor has beautiful dark wood tables of all shapes and sizes, including large community style seating.  The outdoor patio offers a sunny spot for those with dogs.  And the upstairs features an educational utopia, complete with extensive seating, state-of-the-art kitchen, and vast counter space for demonstrations.  Casa is ground zero for food and cooking enthusiasts.

 

[caption id="attachment_956" align="alignnone" width="400"]Casa Interior Casa Interior[/caption]

 

[caption id="attachment_957" align="alignnone" width="400"]Casa Outdoor Patio Seating Casa Outdoor Patio Seating[/caption]

 

[caption id="attachment_960" align="alignnone" width="400"]Upstairs Learning Space at Casa Upstairs Learning Space at Casa[/caption]

 

Events:

 

As I mentioned earlier, Casa de Luz is more than a place to eat.  Casa’s online calendar shows the upcoming community events to be hosted in house – check it out at: http://sandiego.casadeluz.org/events–classes.html

 

[caption id="attachment_958" align="alignnone" width="640"]Casa de Luz Calendar of Events Casa de Luz Calendar of Events[/caption]

 

I could never list all of the events Casa offers, but I will take the time to highlight a few!

 

Test Kitchen Tuesdays:

Test Kitchen Tuesdays is a series of vegan cooking classes, taught by Liz Gary, that are held every Tuesday morning from 9:30am – 11:30am.  The class is a donation based, hands on cooking class – attendees break up into groups to make the recipes in Casa’s amazing upstairs educational space.  I attend almost every week.  Our creations range from vegan doughnuts to quiche!

 

[caption id="attachment_959" align="alignnone" width="377"]Casa Test KItchen Tuesday  Doughnut Casa Test KItchen Tuesday Doughnut[/caption]

 

Casa de Luna:

Casa de Luz holds its donation based “Casa de Luna” celebration on the first Saturday night of every month beginning at 9:30pm.  The event features activities like partner yoga, meditation, and an art show.  And no event would be complete without delicious food and drink: Casa offers organic wine and sake, juice, tea, and desserts to attendees!

 

Kale University:

On many Wednesdays at 6:30pm (check the Casa calendar for an detailed list!), Casa de Luz is home to the Kale University Meetup group.  Kale University advocates a whole-food plant-based diet and is open to individuals who are interested in taking health into their own hands.  Kale University uses Wednesday evenings to bring in speakers and to provide classes for its members.  To learn more check out Kale University’s Meetup page at:

http://www.meetup.com/KaleUniversity/

 

In sum, life at Casa de Luz is always evolving.  Although breakfast will be missed, I expect that the upcoming brunch program will be something special.  Hope to see you there!

 

UPDATE: AS OF 12/9/2013 CASA DE LUZ IS CLOSED.  THEY WILL BE MISSED

http://sandiego.casadeluz.org/

 

2920 University Ave

San Diego, CA 92104

619.550.1857

 

 

 

 

 

Ranchos Cocina: Vegan Friendly

[caption id="attachment_913" align="alignnone" width="600"]Ranchos Sign Ranchos Sign[/caption]

 

NORTH PARK AND OCEAN BEACH.  Long-time San Diego vegans know Ranchos.  Both locations feature a multitude of vegan options, including vegan pancakes, burritos, tortas, soups, salads, enchiladas, tacos, and desserts.  YUM!!

First, no Mexican restaurant would be complete without chips and salsa.   Here, we have a hand-crafted, mild salsa that disappears almost immediately.

 

[caption id="attachment_907" align="alignnone" width="600"]Chips and Salsa from Ranchos Chips and Salsa from Ranchos[/caption]

 

Second, I love that Ranchos serves breakfast all day, because sometimes dinner is the perfect time for breakfast.  On my most recent visit, I ordered the Vegan Breakfast Burrito, a mix of tofu scramble, house made tempeh sausage, potatoes, and beans and wrapped in a tortilla.  The tempeh sausage is spicy, which compliments the light scramble and hearty potatoes and beans.  This is a well-rounded burrito, a personal favorite, and something that I would recommend to vegans and non-vegans alike.

 

[caption id="attachment_909" align="alignnone" width="600"]Vegan Breakfast Burrito from Ranchos Vegan Breakfast Burrito from Ranchos[/caption]

 

Next up was the Grilled Tofu and Black Bean Torta.  Recently, I learned that a torta is really just a sandwich!  And this particular torta comes stacked with hearty tofu slices, black beans, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, and onions.  The tangy guacamole is excellent.  Another great dish.

 

[caption id="attachment_910" align="alignnone" width="600"]Grilled Tofu and Black Bean Torta from Ranchos Grilled Tofu and Black Bean Torta from Ranchos[/caption]

 

If you are craving a burrito, but aren’t in the mood for breakfast, the Chipotle Seitan Burrito is a great option.  You might be thinking, “What the heck is seitan?”  Seitan is made from wheat.  It has a firm texture, making it a popular meat substitute.  If you want to know more about seitan, click on the link below!

http://vegetarian.about.com/od/glossary/g/Seitan.htm

Back to the burrito in question.  The chipotle seitan in the burrito gives the burrito a smoky flavor.  The guacamole helps to temper the spice of the seitan, resulting in a tempting burrito.   I planned to eat only half, so imagine my surprise when when I looked down and saw a clean plate!

 

[caption id="attachment_911" align="alignnone" width="600"]Chipotle Seitan Burrito from Ranchos Chipotle Seitan Burrito from Ranchos[/caption]

 

Even though I don’t drink dairy, I still enjoy creamy beverages.  So I was excited when I saw that Ranchos had a vegan Horchata drink made from soymilk, cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla.  This drink can definitely pass as a dessert.  It tastes like a sumptuous, vanilla, cinnamon milkshake.

 

[caption id="attachment_908" align="alignnone" width="301"]Vegan Horchata from Ranchos Vegan Horchata from Ranchos[/caption]

 

Things to know about Ranchos.  Although there is some overlap, Ranchos North Park and Ranchos Ocean beach have DIFFERENT menus.  My blog post is based my most recent trip to the North Park location.  However, both locations offer numerous vegan options!

Ranchos Ocean Beach is also known for their salad bar.  Aside from having the usual fresh produce and veggies, the salad bar also boasts a wide variety of raw, vegan options and salad dressings.  (For an explanation on raw food, see my post on Go Raw L.I.F.E. Center: www.thefussyfork.com/go-raw-life-center)

Both locations have a relaxed and inviting interior with wooden tables and chairs.  But, again, the following photo depicts the North Park location.  Both also have a few tables outside for outdoor dining.  This option is particularly popular with dog owners!

 

[caption id="attachment_912" align="alignnone" width="600"]Interior of Ranchos Interior Ranchos[/caption]

 

North Park

3910 30th Street

San Diego 92104

619.574.1288

 

Ocean Beach

1830 Sunset Cliffs Blvd.

San Diego, CA 92107

619.226.7619