I am living in a place where I don’t think vegan brunches are served; probably not the vegan-friendly ones I’m accustomed to. I don’t think granola and a fruit plate is much fun, but I do get a kick out of making food at home! Breakfast is served!*
I love breakfast food, it is my favorite kind of meal! It has always felt special to me to go out to breakfast with friends or prepare an elegant one at home (move over, fancy dinners, breakfast is back). I have come to really enjoy going out to brunch because that’s when restaurants make the most splendid of morning food! The array of beverages is fantastic: juices, coffee and sometimes bubbly! I, however, am my father’s child in that I’ll do anything to avoid a crowd, and sadly, weekend brunches on the town are no exception. That’s okay though, because thanks to both The Vegg, and a new-to-me hollandaise sauce from The Comforting Vegan, breakfast at home is now both chill and exciting! Friends, we’re doing brunch at my place this weekend!
The hollandaise sauce calls for The Vegg, which we’ve discussed here before, but I hadn’t tried myself until very recently. I’m super stoked by it. I had forgotten how much I loved the taste of “yolks” and ketchup together! The Vegg atop fried tofu is delicious, but I was feeling adventurous in the kitchen. I’ve been curious about vegan hollandaise, yet unsure about how it could be pulled off. This in turn lead to concerns about complete and utter disappointment as home cooking experiments failing to meet personal expectations can be so frustrating! Now, I’m going to admit to you that I was at first resistant to this recipe, possibly because I initially judge recipes by the amount of ingredients they call for. I was hesitant about the Vegenaise factor, yet something kept bringing me back. It was the comments section! How could I not give it a shot when everyone had great things to say and I, for once, had everything on hand?
The result? HOT DANG! My parents used to make hollandaise sauce once a year, on Christmas day for the family, and this recipe brought me right back there! I don’t think Amy could’ve picked a better name for her blog.
I can’t wait to make more of The Comforting Vegan’s recipes. She knows her flavors and textures! Plus she sells vegan Toaster’s Strudels on Etsy. Basically, she’s my new internet hero.
You can get The Vegg shipped to you on Vegan Cuts, Vegan Essentials and their website (I bought mine at Viva La Vegan in Rancho Cucamonga).
The most important meal of the day!
*Pro-tip: Hollandaise and Daiya together is a bit much, so you can totally nix the vegan cheese! I think vegan bacon (in whatever form: bits, seitan, coconut) and sautéed spinach go together splendidly; believe me when I say that it is an absolute dream pairing with this recipe!
"People need to switch to a diet where only around nine or ten percent of their calories come from protein, and the ideal sources are plant-based."
-Valter Longo, director of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California. (via the Guardian)
A study published in Cell Metabolism (my new favorite scholarly journal) is making waves today!* After studying 6,000+ people, their data suggests that (at least for people under 65), a diet high in animal-derived protein can be as harmful as smoking, in terms of mortality. I’m sure you can see why that statement would make waves! People do not like when you speak ill of their precious meat and dairy. And we could say comparing it to smoking is a ploy for attention. But, we could alternatively say that the comparison makes the data easily digestible for people (ew, pun!). Plus, it totally deserves attention, so ploy away!
Check out these two “highlights” from the study abstract:
Some critics are saying it’s harmful to compare smoking to dairy and meat because it will make smoking seem less detrimental than it is. I say those people are completely unclear on just how detrimental meat and dairy are.
My favorite thing about this study coming out is that hopefully it’ll shake up the blind faith in protein. I mean, we already knew meat and dairy are bad for you (“we” as in us vegans), there are plenty of studies that have suggested that long ago. But this is a hard attack on the ever-venerated animal protein! The next time you see an omni, you should totally be like: "Where do YOU get your protein?" Booyah!
*Warning! Besides the data they have from studying people, they use data from studies done on mice as well. We don’t have to condone it to learn from it though.
I’ve seen Kittee Berns post multiple photos of her delicious-looking king cakes, so I knew it was time for me to get in my kitchen and try making one myself. She has recipes for both gluten-full and gluten-free versions, so I opted to make the XGXFX Peanut Butter Cup King Cake (because there’s nothing better than the magical combination of peanut butter and chocolate [Ed. note: I think that’s widely acknowledged as a fact now]). She even has a King Cake Primer for us folks who have no clue where this delectable treat originated from, along with very clear instructions on how to assemble and decorate one. So, what are you waiting for? Get to baking (and eating)! And happy Mardi Gras!
First attempt at baking a King Cake (gluten-free, nonetheless) was a (somewhat messy) success! And delicious!
Isn’t weird when you are a tourist in a city you spent so much time living your day-to-day life in? Do you know what I’m talking about here? You move away, you come back to visit friends and go to some show or something, and you plan everything out according to where you’ll be all day and where you are staying! The thing I get all up in arms about when I’m visiting a locale I used to live is the food! I want to go to all my favorite places, even if it overrides everything else on the trip (fun for everyone hanging out with me, I can assure you). I’ve been thinking about my fave haunts in the Bay Area; specifically the places I would be most disappointed if I didn’t get to hit up while visiting. Okay, I told myself I couldn’t over think this, so top-of-my-head, 15 seconds to write-it-out-list includes:
Hella Vegan Eats
Their Lusty Lover’s tacos, with cornflakes, seitan and mac’n cheese, are what my dreams are made of! I haven’t met a menu item I’m not enamored by, including their chicken and waffles brunch sandwich and the beet burger on a donut bun! You can find where Sylvee and Tiff are set-up for the day on their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts (@hellaveganeats).
Flaco’s in Berkeley is so flavorful, fresh and affordable! My favorite menu item is the soyrizo soft tacos! Word of warning, they are not playing with their hot sauce! I can take my spice, but I went into a semi-panic halfway through my first meal there. Now I play it safe and go with mild because I am terrified. Also, Flaco’s is closed on Mondays, which I forgot on my last visit which left me sad.
Timeless Coffee Roasters
Timeless in Oakland has an array of both savory and sweet treats, including cheesecake, danishes, bacon and cheddar scones, and “chicken” pot pies!
The bakers at Timeless are so incredibly talented. Coming from someone in the same trade, every time I go in I’m both inspired and I want to just throw in the towel! Timeless has raised the bar tremendously when it comes to vegan pastries and desserts; if you’ve been there before you know what I’m talking about! Their blueberry cheesecake is now the only cheesecake that exists to me, and worth two trips on my last visit!
Donut Farm in Oakland, baby! Lay your pretty eyes upon the most glorious of feasts, including cold-pressed coffee, mushroom gravy smothered biscuits, tempeh bacon and sautéed southern greens!
Best brunch and donuts in the Bay, hands DOWN. I never went there for the weekday lunch menu because I was in the city, doing city things (you know how it goes when you live in San Francisco). I also only ever ordered the biscuits and gravy because vegan biscuits and gravy are so special! I love Donut Farm so much. I love the feeling I get when I walk inside, I love how friendly everyone is, how happy the customers are and I also REALLY SUPER DUPER ENJOY that even when it’s very busy, I never feel stressed out there. There was something about going to brunch in the city, and everyone’s energy being insane with every thing so crowded. Did I mention I work in restaurants? I notice the craziest things when I go out to eat! Anyway, I WILL LOVE DONUT FARM UNTIL THE END OF TIME! (They have a choice of soy or coconut creamer for your coffee; it’s the little things that count!)
Thai Idea’s Firecracker Balls sans mayo, crispy spring rolls and Volcanic “beef” entree!
I’ve lived a life that has included devouring Thai Idea’s Firecracker Balls, and now I don’t want to be without! I know this joint may seem like the wild-card here, but I just loved going to eat at Thai Idea. Everyone in my parties always enjoyed their food, the staff didn’t get cranky about large groups and they offer vegan shrimp. Plus there is that BYOB policy, which is everywhere in Chicago but I never see in California! I think the food is creative and flavorful, and the plating is beautiful! Recently their health score fell pretty low, so I hope they can get that back up because I would hate for them to close down! The score doesn’t faze me too much because I’ve worked in a lot of kitchens and some places get caught while others, for some reason, do not.
So that’s my list. I generally like comfort foods that are easy on the budget and casual, yet innovative, satisfying and tasty. Tell me your Bay Area faves so that when people google where to eat when visiting, they’ll see all of our ideas! Did you know you can upload photos in Disqus? Do it! I want to see a plates of your most highly-regarded vegan restaurant meals! I also want to give a shout-out to Weird Fish, Mission burritos, the chocolate Heaven Dogs I used to make at Source, Benders, the oyster mushrooms at Millennium and From the Garden Greenhouse brunches!
I’m gonna let you in on a little secret: while LA is undoubtedly the vegan Mecca in Southern California, Orange County isn’t far behind. Orange County is located between Los Angeles and San Diego, roughly an hour from each, and has amassed quite a collection of excellent vegan restaurants that are definitely worth the visit.
Since it would probably take at least a few dozen paragraphs to tell you about all the vegan options in Orange County, I’ve decided to spare you a wall of text and instead recommend restaurants based on meal-times throughout the day, from brunch to a late night snack [Ed. note: can we organize everything like this always?]. A lot of people will be coming to town this upcoming weekend to attend the Natural Products Expo, not to mention those who visit for the beaches or Disneyland on a regular basis, so now is the perfect time to recommend the best vegan options for those on a tight schedule or for those that may only be visiting Orange County for a day or two. I’ve only included restaurants that are unique to Orange County so you can maximize your time and try new things!
Pictured above: The vegan Huevos Rancheros at Seabirds Kitchen
Brunch: Seabirds Kitchen in Costa Mesa, CA
There used to be limited options for breakfast or brunch for vegans in Orange County, but no more! Though there are several options for vegan brunch, my number one go-to is Seabirds Kitchen. Seabirds started off as a vegan food truck in Orange County (you probably saw them on Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race), but recently opened a brick and mortar location in Costa Mesa. I am a big fan of all their menu items at any time of the day, but you can usually find me there for their weekend brunches, which feature seasonal mouth-watering creations like huevos rancheros, waffles, breakfast quesadillas, breakfast bowls and the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever tasted (bonus points: it is served with fried pickles as garnish!). If you have room, make sure to try their chaffle, a decadent half waffle, half churro creation topped with coconut sorbet [Ed. note: HOLD THE PHONE! I NEED A CHAFFLE STAT!]. Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 1 pm.
Pictured above: The vegan torta with Soyrizo at Tacos Cancun
Lunch: Tacos Cancun in Costa Mesa, CA
Tacos Cancun is a tiny hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant that has a whole separate vegan menu. Not only that, but they also have a separate grill for preparing vegan food. They actually get it, guys!! They have all sorts of vegan dishes you can order with soy “beef”, Soyrizo or even vegan “chicken.” My favorite is the torta, which I order with Soyrizo, and is kinda like a Sloppy Joe (dare I say Sloppy José?). I’m also a fan of the vegan nachos, which are HUGE, and topped with vegan cheese, vegan sour cream, beans, and all sorts of other goodies. You also HAVE to get the vegan horchata, which is served in a fancy wine goblet so you feel all fancy. If you happen to be there on a Mondays, also ask them about their vegan special, which in the past has included homemade tamales or chile rellenos. Don’t forget to order their vegan fried ice cream, too! A quick tip: you need to specifically ask for the vegan option when ordering since they aren’t a strictly all-vegan restaurant.
Pictured above: A snack of vegan chili cheese fries and vegan corn dog from Vegan Pizza
Mid-Afternoon Snack: Vegan Pizza in Garden Grove, CA
The perfect place to grab a mid-afternoon snack to tide you over until dinner is located in Garden Grove, about 10 minutes away from Disneyland. And the perfect snack? Vegan corn dogs! Though the restaurant name is Vegan Pizza (and their pizzas are delectably delicious), my favorite item on the menu is the corn dog, made with a veggie dog that’s dipped in some kind of magical batter that gets deep fried to glorious perfection!
Pictured above: Au Lac’s spring rolls served with peanut sauce
Dinner: Au Lac in Fountain Valley, CA
If you are looking for a memorable dinner, look no further than Au Lac in Fountain Valley (just outside of Huntington Beach). It may not look like much from the outside since it is situated in a strip mall, but once you step inside you are transported to an opulent dining room with deep red walls. The menu is all vegan and offers an array of Asian-inspired cooked vegan dishes as well as a full raw menu. While there are many Asian-inspired vegan restaurants in Orange County, Au Lac’s flavorful and elegant dishes make them stand out big time.
Pictured above: A variety of vegan donuts from The Donuttery
Late Night Snack: The Donuttery in Huntington Beach, CA
Have a hankering for vegan donuts at 3 AM? The Donuttery in Huntington Beach has you covered! They are open 24-hours and though they aren’t an exclusively vegan eatery, they have quite a selection of vegan donuts that keeps growing and growing! Their newest vegan flavor is blueberry, but they have plain, glazed, chocolate, maple, lemon and so many more. This is the perfect pit-stop after a late night on the town, an early morning treat or anytime you want vegan donuts (which is pretty much any and all the time for me!).
I hope to see you at one of these fine vegan or vegan-friendly establishments soon!
Sarah Jahier is The Spooky Vegan, an Orange County-based blogger who wanders the night in search of vegan options. She writes about the vegan lifestyle and her other two obsessions, Halloween and horror, on her site, The Spooky Vegan. You can follow her daily esoteric ramblings on Twitter.
I just made Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s New England Glam Chowder from the PPK, and it is PHENOM! Have you made it yet?
It’s been a pretty chilly 67 degrees in SoCal, so I needed a little something to warm up! AHAHAHAHA, just kidding, I wear tank tops everywhere, only to be met with a concerned, “Aren’t you cold?” NO WAY! I JUST MOVED HERE FROM SAN FRANCISCO! (And before that Chicago! And before that, Humboldt County! This is the eternal summer phase of my life! But yeah, actually, I could’ve used a light sweater, I just didn’t bring one, me having so many assumptions about southern California and everything.)
The truth is, I’ve been eating out with my family at a bunch of restaurants that serve clam chowder and it’s left me with a hankering for a vegan version. So thank you, Isa! This Glam Chowder, as with all of your recipes, is awesome. Plus, I’m super into it being soy and gluten-free to boot! My pal Amanda texted me awhile back, letting me know this recipe was bomb; I just want to say “Thanks, girl! You were right! Hey, can you send me some of your future-award-winning jalapeño mac’n cheese? It would be so greatly appreciated! XoXo.”
Chipotle announced fantastic news this week, stating that its popular Sofritas option will be going nationwide. CEO Steve Ells commented, “Many of our customers, we’ve realized, are vegetarian or vegan, or generally meat-reducers or concerned about their diet and questioning about how the animals are raised and how much meat they should be eating.”
The ag-gag battles continued this week, with the Idaho legislature sending a dairy industry-backed bill to the governor that, if signed, would make it a crime to take a video of animal abuse on a factory farm. Some Idaho newspapers are editorializing against the bill and even yogurt brand Chobani is urging a veto. The governor’s office indicates that it’s received well over 11,000 phone calls in opposition, and very few in support. You can take action here.
In Arizona, the PR battle on ag-gag continued, with op-eds and more.
Finally, wondering why vegetarians live longer? TIME offers seven reasons this week.
Vice President, Farm Animal Protection
The Humane Society of the United States
Follow at http://twitter.com/pshapiro
P.S. Video of the week: Goats just wanna have fun…
P.P.S. Photo of the week: New HSUS ads in action!
Chickpea & Olive was the food vender for February’s Vegan Drinks last night and boy did they have their act together! The menu was pretty fun because they had polenta bowls and you got to pick from a bunch of toppings. I got slow roasted chickpeas and roasted Brussels. I also got a half of a beet parmesan hero—delish!
And I got one of the cannolis! I’ve never had a cannoli, which everyone thought was absurd, but I just never had one ok! But according to Deb, Vegan Drinks founder, this cannoli was good but a little different as the “shell” (thanks Abby Bean! It’s not called a “cookie thing” guys!) was thicker than it usually is I guess. And the cream had amaretto flavor the girls said—which I thought was just almond extract and very yum as I love almond extract. The chocolate chips were a nice touch too! And I thought cannolis were stuffed with whipped cream but it’s more like custard and I like that much better.
As you can see, there was a nice turnout! And this was an early pic. And yes that is Deb on the lower left. And yes that is Party Girl on the screen. And yes that movie RULES. So does Deb. And thanks to Jess Davis for organizing and bringing Wild Bird Fund in! I hope they sold some shirts and got some new volunteers. If you want to volunteer (you actually get to handle the birds! Like, for their own good! OMG!), check out their site. You can donate there as well.
Come to the next Vegan Drinks! They are the last Thursday of every month! Follow their FB for reminders.
BONUS: Cute goslings at the Wild Bird Fund sanctuary! Pic from their blog:
Breaking news from Death and Taxes:
Wednesday, after spending a year on select menus throughout the country to gauge public interest, Chipotle is officially adding the mother-effing delicious vegan and GMO-free Sofritas to their menu in all 44 states where Chipotle is available.
I’m sure you are all feeling exactly how I am right now: OMG coworkers are THE WORST! But forget about that for a moment because Hodo Soy is coming to a Chipotle near you starting March 3rd!
This Sunday all your vegan chili eating dreams could come true at Tony’s Darts Away in Burbank, CA! It’s time for their annual chili cook-off! $10 gets you FIVE 3-ounce tastes of chili and one voting ballot for the Peoples’ Choice Award!! FIVE TYPES OF CHILI!
Amazing local chefs participating are:
Chef Erick Simmons (Tony’s Darts Away/ Mohawk Bend)
Randy Clemens (author of @The Veggie-Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook)
Greg Daniels (Haven Collective)
Zel and Reuben Allen (VegParadise.com)
Alec Loguercio (Chili John’s)
Chef Tal Ronnen (Crossroads Executive Chef, author of The Conscious Cook)
Cathy Chaplin (Gastronomyblog.com, author of Food Lover’s Guide to Los Angeles)
Caroline Pardilla (CarolineOnCrack.com)
Watch this KTLA video to see Zel and Rueben Allen (perhaps THE cutest vegan couple EVER) demoing how to make vegan chili! They run Vegetarians in Paradise, and have been vegan for 25 years. Vegans on local tv!! I LOVE L.A.! (Yes, I know, this is technically in Burbank.) Also, local news reporters crack me up! (More exclamation points!!)
It’s supposed to rain this weekend (finally!), so it will be PERFECT chili eating weather. Don’t miss it! RSVP on their Facebook Event Page.