A Search for Great Vegan Food in San Diego

Tag Archives: saffron

Ann Payne’s Caveman Foods

Never heard of water kefir?  Neither had I, until I ran into Caveman Foods at a food expo in Los Angeles.  Caveman’s booth was a shining beacon of health cutting through the fog of cheese dips and pulled pork sandwiches.  And after I sampled the water kefir, I was hooked.


[caption id="attachment_1050" align="alignnone" width="640"]Caveman Foods Water Kefir Drinks Lined Up Caveman Foods Water Kefir Drinks Lined Up[/caption]

What Is Water Kefir?

Water kefir is a fermented drink – naturally fizzy – that is full of probiotics and beneficial enzymes.  You might be saying to yourself, “I’ve heard of probiotics, but I don’t really know what they are.”  Good question . . .


What are Probiotics And Why Are They Good For Me?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines probiotics as “living microorganisms that provide a health benefit to the host when ingested in adequate amounts.”  More simply, probiotics are beneficial bacteria.  In fact, they are an important part of a healthy digestive tract.  Probiotics have a wide range of health benefits including: managing weight, lowering “bad” cholesterol, decreasing allergies, managing Type 2 diabetes, combating anxiety and depression, and more!  To learn more about probiotics, check out the following links:



Despite the comfort of statements like “probiotics are good for you,” many of us crave the data, details, and specifics.  The following link presents a doctor’s article outlining how probiotics improved the health of individual patients:



How Is Kefir Made?

Water kefir is made by placing kefir grains, also known as ticos, in sugar water.  It turns out kefir grains stand apart from traditional grains (like wheat or barley), because kefir grains are gelatinous structures consisting of bacteria and yeast.  In the fermentation world, this structure is referred to as a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts, or a SCOBY.

Once placed in sugar water, the bacteria present in the kefir grains metabolize the sugar and create enzymes, B vitamins, and additional beneficial bacteria and acids.  It takes anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to complete the fermentation process.




Alcohol Content

All fermented foods contain a small amount of naturally occurring alcohol.  On average, the level of alcohol in water kefir ranges from 0.5% – 0.75%.  To put this in context, overripe fruit has an alcohol percentage around 0.9% – 1.0%.



Caveman Foods

Caveman believes that it is possible for people – like the cavemen before us – to “survive and thrive in the modern world” while consuming simple and unprocessed foods.


Caveman offers its probiotic water kefir in five flavors, each with only 40 calories and 5 grams of sugar in a 10-ounce bottle.  No guilt!  Especially when you compare it to a 12-ounce Coke – 140 calories brimming with 39 grams of sugar!


(1) Rose/Original Flavor

Caveman Foods original flavor is subtly flavored with wild harvested, organic rose buds. I love this flavor.  It is has a nice naturally occurring fizz, without being overpowering, and has a hint of a floral aftertaste from the roses.


[caption id="attachment_1051" align="alignnone" width="640"]Caveman Foods Original Flavor Water Kefir Drink Caveman Foods Original Flavor Water Kefir Drink[/caption]


(2) Vanilla

Caveman’s vanilla flavor is made with organic vanilla beans.  The vanilla makes the water kefir a little smoother and sweeter.  This is a great flavor for a kefir water newbie!


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(3) Tarragon

The organic tarragon gives this water kefir a decidedly herbal taste with hints of licorice, pine, and pepper.  This is the flavor to choose when you are hankering for a not-too-sweet thirst quencher.


[caption id="attachment_1053" align="alignnone" width="640"]Caveman Foods Vanilla  Flavor Water Kefir Drink Caveman Foods Vanilla Flavor Water Kefir Drink[/caption]


(4) Saffron

Caveman uses organic saffron, a bright yellow spice, to give this drink its slightly earthy flavor.  Saffron, like its Tarragon counterpart, is another option for the not-too-sweet category.


[caption id="attachment_1054" align="alignnone" width="640"]Caveman Foods Saffron  Flavor Water Kefir Drink Caveman Foods Saffron Flavor Water Kefir Drink[/caption]


(5) Black Pepper

Caveman’s Black Pepper flavor is made using organic black peppercorns.  The drink has a distinct flavor of pepper without being spicy.  In a beverage landscape filled with herbal and fruit flavors, Caveman’s Black Pepper flavor is a truly unique concept.


[caption id="attachment_1055" align="alignnone" width="515"]Caveman Foods Side View of Water Kefir Drink Caveman Foods Side View of Water Kefir Drink[/caption]


No matter the flavor, Caveman delivers a tasty, organic, low sugar, low calorie, probiotic beverage.  I hope you are able to enjoy one soon!




Saffron Noodles and Sate: Vegan Friendly

Saffron Sign


MISSION HILLS.  The Saffron dynasty began in 1985 when Su-Mei Yu opened Saffron Thai Grilled Chicken, a restaurant focusing on . . . you guessed it . . . chicken.  In 2002, Yu opened Saffron Noodles and Sate next door.  A welcome addition, as it offers a plethora of vegan options.

The first time I went to Saffron (thanks to a tip from my aunt and uncle who used to live in San Diego!), the host told me that Saffron can make almost any dish vegan by substituting rice noodles for egg noodles, or tofu for meat.  The power to “veganize” a menu?  Yes, please.

First up, we tried the Salad Roll with tofu.  The rice paper rolls up rice noodles, lettuce, cucumber, daikon, mint, and cilantro.  It is fresh and light.  And when dipped in a side of peanut sauce, delicious.  A great way to start the meal.


Tofu Salad Roll


Next, I tried the Noodle Soup with Vegetables and added tofu.  I chose the wide rice noodles.  (There is also a thin noodle option.)  The soup has a broth flavored with star anise and features zucchini, broccoli, green beans, carrots, and mushrooms.  I made my soup spicy, which involves a paste of chiles, Lao ginger, lemongrass, salt, and pepper.  Chunks of tofu floated with fresh vegetables in the flavorful broth, above a generous layer of rice noodles.  It was a bowl of warm comfort on a cloudy and cool San Diego day.


Vegetable Soup


Wingman Pablo ordered the Stir Fried Vegetables and Jasmine Rice and added tofu.  (Yes, we went nuts on tofu that day.)  Through vigorous nodding and raised eyebrows, he gave the dish high marks.  Note: Saffron offers red, organic rice for an additional 80 cents.


Stir Fried Vegetables


Finally, Saffron offers four desserts, all of which are vegan: (1) Sticky Rice with Banana, (2) Tapioca with Coconut Pumpkin Sauce, (3) Sweet Sticky Rice with Mango, and (4) Banana Sticky Rice.  The last three desserts are seasonal and are not always available.  I tried the Sticky Rice with Banana.  The dessert arrived in a banana leaf, and once I peeled back its protective layer, I was left with what looked like a sticky rice burrito.  Cutting it open revealed a banana filling.  Sweet sticky rice + sweet chewy banana = sweet way to end the meal.


Sticky Banana Rice


Saffron provides a friendly and casual atmosphere.  Orders are taken at the counter and assigned a number.  Customers are responsible for picking up a tray with their order.


Interior Saffron



The artwork on the wall is eclectic and colorful.  Additionally, customers with a keen eye can enjoy beautiful blown glass creations on the upper shelves of the restaurant.

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There are also a variety of outdoor tables for those who want to enjoy the weather or eat with their pet!


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Saffron offers a program aimed at reducing waste.  If you bring in your own dish and utensils or carryout container you will receive a 10% discount off of your purchase.

The restaurant also recognizes that you might be in a rush to pick up food.  So they offer “curbside service” — if you order by phone, then call again when you are in front of the restaurant, they will come outside to swipe your credit card curbside!


3731 India St

San Diego, CA 92103