Where do I want to eat when I want someone else to cook for me?
The answer for this post didn't come easily at all, but if I had to pick...
I would absolutely have to pick The Tasty. Debuting earlier this year as a highly anticipated Philly vegan diner, The Tasty has gained momentum and is now traveling at warp speed into the realms of plant based deliciousness. They've expanded their already amazing offerings to specialty coffee drinks, baked goods, and seasonal specials. Everything on their menu echoes what one would find at a regular diner in and around the area: sandwiches, waffles, omelets, breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, salads and appetizers. It's immensely satisfying to be able to go eat brunch or breakfast somewhere when, as a vegan, eating those meals out is very difficult at mainstream restaurants.
I can only picture my sad breakfast options at other diners: fruit cups, dry toast, bagels, and maybe oatmeal if it's made without milk or butter. I guess you can technically count hash browns, but they are so often contaminated by shared cooking surfaces that they don't really appeal to me anymore. 😥
So when I visit The Tasty (pretty often), I usually go for veganized omelets or tofu scrambles of delicious veggies, non-dairy cheese and vegan meat subs. These aren't items I use at home very often, so I figure why not go all out if I'm not cooking? 😏
I snapped a photo for you of their spinach and soysauge omelet. It's absolutely to die for if you like savory spices, caramelized onions, and fresh spinach glued together by vegan mozzarella and pillowed by the most soft and fluffy egg-free omelet you've ever dreamed of. I think it's a mixture of chickpea flour and tofu judging by the texture, but I could be wrong! 😜
If the omelet isn't enough food, they pile home fries on the other half of the plate for good measure. They're crispy and soft at the same time, just the way I like them. They're also seasoned with something wonderful, so every bite you take is going to be a good one. There are many more amazing dishes on the menu that I've had before. Here are a few of them to tempt you: vegan mozzarella sticks, Caesar salad, breakfast burrito, PB&J french toast, biscuits and gravy, tater tots...you get the idea.
Heading over to Philly yet? I'll be back next week. 😉🐷
I had to give you some close ups...mmmm.
The second photo shows a huge glorious piece of caramelized onion. 😍👄
There are also lots of awesome things to look at inside and outside of The Tasty. Their sandwich board is always on point, which you can see from the first photo I featured. They also have a parade of dogs walking outside when it's nice out. You can't beat that.
Inside, there are whimsical decorations that seem to be things that you may find in either your grandmother's house or your friendly punk's house. There are also some cute handmade art pieces like this adorable clock.
The winking toast is everywhere, too. I like to think that they're congratulating me on my meal decision. 🍞😉
They also serve coffee in mismatched mugs that you might find in your own cupboard, which is a nice homey touch. The staff and owners are very friendly too, so make sure you say hi and ask for their recommendations! This place is just about as comfortable as going to a friend's place for brunch (or whatever meal you choose).
Next time you're in Philly, make sure to give The Tasty a try. Try not to order the whole menu at once. 😜
I've made tofu scramble countless times since becoming vegan and I've had the satisfaction of making an egg-like meal with delicious ingredients and scrumptious flavors. This, however, was the very first time since 2011 that I felt as if I was cooking actual eggs again. It was a very strange feeling.
That looks straight up like scrambled eggs, doesn't it? Weird.
Making the VeganEgg was a simple process today. I wanted to make the product as the instructions said to so that I could taste it as it was without fancy additions or techniques getting in the way. This was tough to do, though. I always want to tinker! ^_^
The VeganEgg is fairly simple to make. All you need is some cold water to mix with the provided powder and voila! The resulting mixture almost seems like pancake batter in consistency. In fact, once I poured the batter into my pan, I felt as if I was going to make a pancake.
Once I started to move the mixture around a bit, though, I noticed what all the fuss was about. EGGS!
The VeganEgg cooks just like regular eggs do for the most part. It slightly sticks to the sides of the pan, it becomes spongey and fluffy as it firms up, and starts to become fragrant. Boy, does this stuff smell like eggs.
What I loved most about the product is that it doesn't overcook easily like real eggs do. Whenever I would cook real eggs, I would always err on under cooking them (which in hindsight was a terrible idea!) so they would not become rubbery and hard. The VeganEgg takes a little longer to cook, maybe about 4-5 minutes on medium-low heat.
I added only about 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil in my pan to cook the VeganEgg with and it was perfect. I seasoned with salt and pepper only in order to keep the flavor integrity of the product. I felt the flavor was nice but not over-powering. It was also not overly-eggy, which I think would've been a turn off. I did experience illness several times after eating real eggs and ever since the smell has somewhat deterred me.
I love how the VeganEgg cooks. It "browns" a little to add texture to the scramble but does not greatly alter the color. My scramble was fluffy and light yet slightly drier than normal eggs. Although, i suppose this is a good thing since real eggs are full of cholesterol.
I liked the plain preparation of the VeganEggs, but I'm itching to do more with them. Since they retained their shape very well, I think they would be perfect for making omelettes. When I flipped the VeganEggs initially while cooking, they stayed in a very perfect circle until I broke them up intentionally. I would love nothing more than to stuff them with mushrooms, spinach and onions next time! Mmmm...
I had a fun time eating these VeganEggs with a nutritious vegan breakfast of a baked sweet potato, sauteed baby kale, and two slices of toast slathered with vegan butter and persimmon jam. Oh, I made some coffee too in my V60! ;)
Since I don't eat a full breakfast too often, I like to go a little nuts when I make it at home. I figured this was a special occasion, so why not?
In short, I absolutely recommend the VeganEgg. I haven't used it for any other purpose except scrambling, but that was enough to sell me! Don't be surprised to see new posts coming soon of baked goods, quiche, frittatas, omelettes, or anything else you could possibly do with eggs. I'm headed deep into vegan egg land and I don't expect to come back until I've explored every corner of it!
Happy breakfasting, everyone! If you have any suggestions as to what I should make next with the VeganEgg, let me know! I'm down for it all.
My next holiday baking post is one that could be enjoyed all year round, either as a breakfast accompaniment, a snack or a simple dessert.
I absolutely love coffee cake. When I grew up, I only knew what coffee cake was because of Entenmann's crumb cake. This isn't vegan, of course. It's also highly processed and loaded with stuff I would never eat now.
It did taste good, though!
When I began to bake for myself, I made crumb cakes a few times. They were always delicious, but they got a little ho-hum. So, I tried to spice up my recipes with berries, chocolate and other types of ingredients. I realize now that I haven't made a "special" crumb cake in a long time. I'm well overdue. When I began to think of a cool combination of flavors, I stumbled upon the idea of a carrot coffee cake. Not that unique, right?
Then, I thought, what if I put peanut butter with it?!
I know, it seems like a strange combination. But, if you think about it, eating carrots and peanut butter for a snack is kinda delicious. I actually love peanut butter and carrots together! Why not bake with them and make it interesting?
This coffee cake is moist, slightly sweet, warm and spicy with cinnamon, bright and earthy with carrots and super nutty! It's great as a snack or a quick breakfast. It's also great with...you guessed it. Coffee.
You can also feel good about snacking on this cake because it is made with mostly whole grain flours. Feel free to substitute your own flour blends, but be aware that the texture may change. You may also need to alter the amount of non-dairy milk you add.
I'm definitely suggesting you make this either as a full cake or as individual cupcakes for any holiday breakfasts you might be having. This recipe is quick enough to whip up on the weekend and save for the rest of the week too. Grab 'em and go. Sit and stay. Whatever you want to do, these guys will be there for you. Enjoy! <3
Carrot Coffee Cake with Peanut Butter Streusel
Yield: 10 individual cupcakes or 1 - 9x9 cake
Free from: Soy, Gluten, Nuts*
Preheat oven to 345 F.
I wasn't going to do another pumpkin post, but I feel kind of obligated to. I should get it out of my system while it's still autumn, right?!
Truth be told, I hate the amount of things that are pumpkin spice "flavored" these days. It's a bit over-kill. The problem is, I have always loved pumpkin! When I was younger, the only things I could get pumpkin flavored were cookies and pie during the holidays. It was such a treat. Now, you can get pumpkin spice coffee literally everywhere from about August to January. It's pumpkin everything.
I still have a love for pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread and pumpkin cookies. I think spiced baked goods with the earthy sweetness of pumpkin are irresistible. I don't like to get these things out, though. I love baking them so much more. The smell of the spices wafting throughout the house is almost as enjoyable as eating whatever is cooking.
If you're like me and love pumpkin but want it quicker than 15-20 minutes, make this recipe! I knew I wanted to make griddle cakes for my next post, but I wasn't sure what flavors to go with. I just knew I wanted something delicious and spicy quickly.
These griddle cakes are minimally sweet so the whipped cream gives a nice sweetness to the entire dish. If you don't want or don't have coconut cream on hand, try maple syrup, agave, vegan honee, coconut sugar or any other sweet thing to drizzle/shake on top. If you prefer nothing on top, that's fine too! You may want to up the amount of coconut sugar you add to the batter, though. Like i said, these are minimally sweet (but still delicious!).
* The batter itself is also oil-free. I did, however, cook mine in extra virgin coconut oil. If you are avoiding oil, I would suggest baking these in the oven on some parchment paper. They may turn out like whoopie pies. I don't know...I didn't try it. But maybe they do? That would be cool. ;)
Pumpkin Espresso Griddle Cakes
Recipe Adapted from: Vegan Dorayaki
Yield: about 5 griddle cakes (double recipe for more than 1-2 people
Free from: gluten, soy, nuts
*Oil-free option (see above)
Whipped coconut cream recipe is here. I simply added some vegan powdered sugar and cinnamon to taste. It was so divine! <3 Save a little extra for topping dessert later. ;)
I also sprinkled some more espresso powder and cinnamon on top. =P
Surprise! My favorite cookbook is NOT vegan!
I absolutely love love love my mom's Better Homes & Gardens cookbook from the late 80's-early 90's. It's the cookbook that I grew up using for all my baked goods, especially around the holidays.
This cookbook has a chapter for everything and separates foods by categories that make sense (cake, pies, candy, etc.). I've used this cookbook for my foundations for baking just about anything. They have recipes for everything you could want (or not want!) to bake. I love that they take a from-scratch approach to most of their recipes. Some recipes are simplified for the busy cook, but most are left as complicated or uncomplicated as they should be.
The recipe that I used for my shortbread cookies came from this book! It's such a simple, foolproof recipe! Ever since I've gone vegan, I've managed to get frustrated with this book because of recipes that are not easy to veganize. On the flip side of that, however, I love the challenge! Making any of the cookies in this book is nostalgic for me and brings me right back to my childhood. My favorite recipe from here is the snickerdoodle recipe. I've attempted to recreate them here in my first ever blog post.
There's also that other post from last year that features another BHG recipe: ranger cookies! I remade them to be semi-healthy for Father's Day. I absolutely love the recipes in this cookbook. They are all meant to share with your favorite people...that's the entire reason that I love food! (Well, eating it is pretty rad, too...but I wouldn't enjoy it nearly as much if I had to eat it alone!) =)
For this cookbook celebration, I made one of the easiest and most simple recipes of all: muffins! These muffins come out more like a cross between a scone and muffin rather than a breakfast cake like most would eat nowadays. These muffins are dry and crunchy on top, which is quite satisfying. They are less sweet than commercial muffins and I made them with raspberries studded on top for tartness.
I never underestimate our power as cooks to be able to transform any recipe into whatever we want to. I don't like to confine myself to just vegan cookbooks or vegan recipes. Vegan is a parameter for cooking that should be factored in just as dietary restrictions should. Sometimes, I still want a simple baked good from my childhood and this cookbook still holds solid recipes for me to use. With a few tweaks, I can still enjoy food that I love, just in a different way. ;)
Basic Raspberry Muffins
Yield: 6 Muffins
Free of: Gluten, Nuts
Adapted from: Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook
Preheat oven 400 F.
Today's prompt is "something blue"!
What a perfect day for blue shortbread cookies...it's been raining all day by me!
I knew I wanted to use blue cornmeal again for this recipe. I made some cornbread with it last year and loved it. There's something fun about the color blue when it comes to natural cooking, because blue is so rare in fruits and vegetables.
I took the only other accessible blue food I could get, blueberries, and paired them with both my cornbread and my cookies. I love berries and corn together, so it really works out! Blueberries are also a nice fruit to bake with. I almost prefer them baked or cooked sometimes. Their flavor develops nicely and they create a wonderful syrup all by themselves. They're also very healthy for you!
If yesterday's cookie post was oil-free, this one is its antithesis. This recipe makes only about 12-15 round shortbread cookies and it has an entire cup of oil in it!
Before you shake your head though, give me some credit for using only unrefined coconut oil! I actually love that the coconut oil gives a very subtle flavor to these cookies because I didn't want to overwhelm them with butter flavor from a vegan butter substitute.
Don't get me wrong, I still use Earth Balance and Melt sometimes, but I like to use them sparingly. For certain things, butter flavor isn't necessary. I think these cookies really have a wonderful flavor. If you change up your sweetener, you will be able to taste the different facets of flavor each one has to offer. I used Bee Free Honee in mine because it has a mild apple flavor that I love. The consistency of the vegan honee also helps to keep these shortbreads moist but not overly oily.
The recipe is very easy and you can use only one bowl for it! You don't have to roll out the dough if you don't want to get all messy. You can always do hand-rolled cookies (roll the dough into about 1 Tb amounts between your palms and flatten onto your cookie sheet).
Have fun with this recipe! Change up the berry you put on top, use jam instead, add citrus zest to the dough, make an icing for them, add nuts, whatever you feel!
For a serving tip: pair with a nice fruity black coffee. I did just that and it was sublime!
Blue Corn Sandies
Yield: about 12-15 round cookies
Free of: gluten, nuts, refined sugar
Preheat oven 325 F.
MoFo Day 2: recreate a meal from childhood
So, this prompt was pretty easy for me to figure out. I was a very picky eater as a kid, which I'm sure many people can sympathize with. I was very wary of new flavors and new foods. I had a huge sweet tooth. I also loved carbs.
The two things that haven't changed about my tastes from childhood are my love for carbs and my distaste/indifference towards meat. I was never a big meat-eater. I merely ate meat because it was served to me. It was the only real option for a sit-down meal.
I always preferred carb-heavy options, however. I loved baked goods, rice, pasta, crackers, pretzels, etc. I also loved cinnamon on everything. Okay, so that hasn't changed either... Put cinnamon on it, and I'll probably approve.
The one thing that my grandma would make for my dad, his siblings, and my sister and I for breakfast was something she called "Ichiban Cinnamon Toast". My grandma is from Japan, and she never really ate bread growing up. Bread in Japan is very rich, buttery, and flaky like a pastry. Japanese bread, like most of their baked goods, has an abundance of egg and dairy in it to give it a very airy texture with a rich, buttery flavor that is pretty much to-die-for.
My grandma would take a slice of white bread, toast it lightly, and spread some butter on top while it was still warm. Then, she would lightly sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar over the toast. This is a very common thing to do, I'm sure...but, when she made it, it was so much better than anything I'd ever had! The bread was crispy, light, savory and lightly sweet with a hint of warmth from the cinnamon. It's the most amazing breakfast I've ever had. I make it to this day when I'm feeling under the weather or down in the dumps. It's wonderful with hot tea or coffee.
Ever since I pretty much stopped buying bread on a regular basis due to my growing bread snobbery, I haven't eaten cinnamon toast often at all. I reserve the pleasures of cinnamon toast for times when I have an excellent bread to toast. I decided, since I made my very first successful gluten-free and vegan bread last year, that I would make a loaf of bread and make an excellent slice of cinnamon toast from it. So, I've revisited the bread recipe that I used from Cara Reed's blog Fork & Beans and I've altered it to be more buttery and airy than my last loaf. I used the same ratios from Cara's recipe, but changed some ingredients around a bit. I snuck in some aquafaba, non-dairy butter, and Ener-G egg replacement powder among other things to yield a gluten-free bread that rises like a champ and is tough enough to knead like regular gluten-filled dough. Thanks to Cara, this bread recipe is gum-free for anyone who doesn't like to use xanthan or guar gums. I usually don't mind using these products, but it's nice for those who don't feel like buying them for just one recipe or who cannot eat them for dietary or health reasons.
Here is my bread recipe and below that are instructions for my favorite cinnamon toast! Have fun! B)
Gluten-Free Vegan Bread
Yield: 1- 8x4 loaf
Gluten & Gum-free/Can be: Soy & Nut-free
Source/Adapted from: Fork & Beans
All you need for this (it isn't really a recipe) is some non-dairy buttery spread (like Earth Balance or Melt) or coconut oil + sea salt for a less processed option. If you use coconut oil and salt, I'll suggest on adding a sprinkle of nutritional yeast on your toast as well. I find this combination together gives a slight buttery taste. It's pretty delicious!
After you spread as much of your "butter" of choice as you would like on your sliced, toasted homemade bread (OMG I'm hungry!), sprinkle on some dry sweetener of choice. I used coconut sugar because I'm obsessed with it and I love its flavor. You can always substitute sugar with stevia or any other natural vegan sweetener you like.
Then, the kicker: add a dash of organic cinnamon on top. I always try to buy organic spices and dried herbs so I can control the quality of my dishes. I also like to get the best quality that I can for ingredients that will last me a long time.
Enjoy your ichiban cinnamon toast with a piping hot cup of something and relax. You've earned it after all that effort it took to bake bread from scratch. ;)
About a month ago, my boyfriend and I took an amazing trip to Colorado and Utah. We only dabbled in Utah for a short while and mostly stayed in Colorado. Most of our trip consisted of driving which is why my photos are landscapes, landscapes and more landscapes! Since it was my first time exploring the inland part of the Western U.S., I was a bit in awe of the drastic differences in climate that I experienced. I remember experiencing some form of snow at least once a day during the week that we were traveling. Some days would drop 20 degrees and then spike back up again. Rain followed us through the mountains and often turned to snow or sleet. The desert was the most interesting, as it was dry, sunny, and hot with a cold breeze. I loved it!
I also ate some pretty interesting food while on the road. We stayed in a different place for each night, which gave us plenty of opportunity to explore local food options (or, eat Asian fusion for 3 nights in a row because that was the best vegan option in town). Luckily, we found some awesome markets (and the ever-faithful Whole Foods) on the road that supplied us with breakfast, snacks, etc. I'm glad I can highlight some of the food gems that we found on our trip for you. Hopefully this will entice you to visit the area one day...it's amazingly beautiful. It's definitely somewhere I'd love to go again.
Vegan Adventures in Colorado & Utah
The Beet Box Bakery & Cafe
The Beet Box is such an amazing cafe which quite an unassuming appearance. When I first found their menu online, I freaked out. "This is what I would make for my own cafe!" Boy, was I totally right.
The pastries the Beet Box keeps in their case are different from day to day. They always make everything fresh and in house, including their breads. The first thing I got was a sandwich as I was famished from not eating on the plane ride (yes, this was our first stop after getting off the plane!).
Yes, I was quite pleased with my decision. This is a delicious sandwich that I wish I had created. Gluten-free bread, hummus, onion, radish, apple, cucumber and butter lettuce. My God.
Among the other delicious things we ate there (a total of two trips, I promise!) were cinnamon scones, a strawberry fruit tart, roasted beet sandwich, curry cauliflower croissant, and a cashew cheese mushroom panini. Definitely a spot I would hit up any time of day if you're in Denver looking for vegan eats.
Happy Leaf Kombucha
Up next is a small kombucha bar and cafe in Denver called Happy Leaf Kombucha. Their cafe was amazing in its aesthetic. Their bar and tables were all rustic woods. The art on the walls was the most impressive that I've seen for sale locally in a long time. We stopped in here to get a light snack and some kombucha, since I'm a big kombucha fan. I'm used to drinking GT Dave's , which is delicious, but it isn't on tap!
I must say I was a huge fan of Happy Leaf's product. The kombucha was totally clear and very easy to drink. It didn't sting as much as any other bottled kombucha I've had before. The flavor was subtle as well without too much sweetness.
We ate some homemade hummus while we were there, which was delicious and fresh. They had a soup on special that day as well. It was spicy, smooth, and not too overpowering. A great find.
City O' City
One of the most impressive vegetarian restaurants I've ever been to, hands down, is this wonderful place. City O' City had a great vibe. It was hip, casual yet smart, modern yet comfortable, and inventive yet accessible in their food and beverage offerings.
We went here for dinner the very first night we spent in the city after coming in on the plane that morning. We had received a recommendation for this place and we were so hungry that we went over immediately. After dark, the restaurant dims the lights for a very private sensual feel. This place is kind of magical; I just don't know what else to say.
The first time I ate at City O' City, I got a savory waffle for dinner because why not?! Waffles are things that I seldom make for myself, but I really do love them. I was definitely not disappointed. This waffle was insane. It was a dense, almost cornbread-like batter with thinly peeled spring vegetables on top that had been sauteed lightly. To top the whole thing off, they poured a vegan cheese fondue over everything. The cheese was thin in texture so it didn't overwhelm the dish at all. Genius.
The second time (yes, we went here twice as well) we went to City O' City was the very last day on our trip. We stayed in Denver for the entire day because our flight was overnight, so we took our time with breakfast. Always a treat.
I couldn't help myself. I got a waffle again! This waffle was the WoW (waffle of the week!!!). It was a cinnamon raisin waffle topped with granola, vegan cream cheese, and orange peel. Absolutely to die for. Oh, and we also found Sasquatch. This place has everything you could ever want, so just go and enjoy. <3
During our travels through the mountains and desert, we had to eat on the go a lot. I'm sure you all know how tricky this can be for plant based eaters and those with dietary restrictions. We had a surprisingly easy time finding things! There were an abundance of Asian restaurants in every major town we drove through, which always had at least a few vegetarian options. Some places were better than others. These summer rolls were one of the better things we found. ^_^
We also had to make some stops while driving for snacks. We were so lucky to find small and big businesses that offered vegan options for quick food. Oddly enough, we consumed a lot of freshly pressed juices on our trip. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to eat many vegetables while on the road. What a worry wort.
I also grabbed a fair amount of kombucha from the store in addition to those that I got on tap. What can I say? I'm addicted to it.
My boyfriend is kind of a barista (like, kind of). ;)
So, while we traveled, we tried different coffee shops in search of delicious espresso and coffee to keep us energized. Just like with the Asian restaurants, some of the coffee shops were better than others. We found some surprisingly good cups of coffee while on the road, though. It was such an exciting moment to find one that really hit the spot. Some of the notable shops we found were Corvus Coffee and Deja Brew among others.
About a year ago, I visited my very fist Voodoo Doughnuts location in Portland. I am certianly a lucky gal to have the pleasure of visiting another location a year later. The Voodoo in Denver seemed to have a slightly larger selection of vegan doughnuts, although it could have just been the time of day that we dropped by. My boyfriend got a fruit loops doughnut (I mean, genius again) and I got a maple cream filled doughnut. I was a bit overwhelmed so I didn't finish the whole thing, but man did I enjoy it!
Overall, I'd say my first experience in Colorado was a success. I got to eat a lot of amazing food, spend time with an amazing guy, and see some amazing natural sights. I climbed stuff, soaked in a hot spring, met some buffalo and horses, met up with some friends, and generally had one of the greatest trips of my life. I'd do it again in a heartbeat!
Here's until the next time that I travel! I won't keep you out of the loop, I promise! In the meantime, go to Denver. It's a rad place. ;D
This is my very first food blog! I post revised conventional recipes of foods that I hold near and dear to my heart. My cooking here is all gluten-free and cruelty-free, but full of flavor and comfort.