5 Must-Try Vegan Options in Orange County »
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.
Thoughts on Making My New Vegan Cookbook, by Molly Patrick »
[This post is from Molly Patrick, co-author of the new cookbook, Bold Vegan - Food for the Body and Soul]
Did you know that New Mexico was part of the United States before you watched Breaking Bad? (It’s okay. I grew up there and sometimes even I got confused. It’s not really new, it’s not really Mexico. What to think…)
Breaking Bad didn’t lie on two accounts: 1) New Mexico really is full of meth; and 2) there is nothing like the New Mexico sky.
I grew up in a teepee on a bunch of land in asscrack nowhere New Mexico (you guys, I swear I’m not lying. A teepee!!). I had no running water, no electricity and no plumbing for the first part of my life. I was a teenager when we got our first TV and it was (I kid you not) a black and white 10 inch (dear god, why would I make this shit up).
We had an outhouse until I was ready to graduate high school and I grew up without ever eating meat (to this day I have not tried the stuff).
Actually, that’s not entirely true. When I was six, my Godfather bribed me to eat a bite of turkey on Thanksgiving for $5. At six years old, $5 is like $500 so I totally did it. I also tried Chicken McNuggets once in high school. I gagged a little, kept the sweet and sour sauce and trashed the nuggets.
My unusual and socially awkward upbringing was the root of some of my disgruntled teenage years but as soon as I decided that being mad wasn’t a cool trend anymore I got over it. When I got a little older and discovered how (some) people of privilege operate, I had a whole new appreciation for the way I was raised.
It may not have been fancy but it was full of love, honesty, humbleness, grace and compassion.
Last year, I wanted to share a piece of my upbringing with my girlfriend, Luanne so we quit our jobs and headed South from the Bay Area to asscrack nowhere land. We were on a mission to write a follow-up to our first cookbook, Bold Vegan - Food of South East Asia.
Luanne is from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (kind of like New York but in South East Asia) so naturally, she was excited to go to New Mexico to see the aliens.
We were in New Mexico for seven months.
We wrote a cookbook, saw no aliens, tried no meth, saw countless jaw dropping sunsets and sunrises (see pics), soaked our bodies in natural hot springs, played in the snow and drank beer in the sun. We also ate lots of green chili (another one of New Mexico’s little secrets).
I created the recipes, Luanne tasted them, Luanne styled the photographs and I took the pictures. We had an awesome fucking time. I highly recommend quitting your job and doing something bat-shit crazy that makes no sense at all at some point in your life (but don’t go to New Mexico in winter. That shiz is cold. We’re talking high desert @ 6,000 feet, people. Bur).
Here are two recipes from our new cookbook, Bold Vegan, Food for the Body and Soul. There is a discount for Vegansaurus readers! The promo code is: vegansaurus and it will allow your guys to buy the instant download version of our new book for $10 (usually $14.99). [Ed.: YES!!!]
It is filled with 90 Western and Asian classic comfort food dishes. From Vietnamese Pho to Pot Pie and Creamy Alfredo Pasta to Green Onion Pancakes.
Brought to you from New Mexico, with love.
But first, some sample recipes:
Fiery Garlic Tofu
(gluten free if using gluten free soy sauce / nut free)
- 1 14 oz. box (397g) firm tofu tofu, cut into 1 inch squares
- 6 tablespoons organic cornstarch (45g)
- 1/4 cup grapeseed oil plus 3 tablespoons, divided (105ml)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided (3g)
- 20 turns fresh black pepper
- 10 large garlic cloves, minced
- 3 - 5 dried red chilies, cut in half (add more if you like more spice)
- 1 heaping tablespoon peeled and minced ginger (12g)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (15ml)
- 6 tablespoons water (90ml)
- 1 red onion, sliced into rounds (140g)
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil (2.5ml)
- Sugar Glaze (1 tablespoon (15g) brown sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon (15ml) water)
- 1 green onion, cut into 2 inch strips for garnish
Evenly spread out cornstarch on a plate.
Cut tofu and dredge evenly in cornstarch. Set aside.
Heat 1/4 cup (60ml) of the grapeseed oil in a nonstick pan.
Place 1/2 of the tofu in oil. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 10 turns of black pepper.
Cook for 9-10 minutes, turning so that all sides get brown.
Take out of pan and place on a brown paper bag (placed on a plate) to soak up the oil.
Place 3 more tablespoons (45ml) of oil in the pan and add the remaining tofu.
Add another 1/4 teaspoon salt and 10 turns black pepper and cook for 9-10 minutes.
Take out and place on paper bag.
Use the same oil and pan and add the garlic, chili and ginger.
Cook for 1 minute and then add 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 6 tablespoons water.
Add red onions and sesame oil and cook for 3 minutes.
Add the tofu back to the pan, stir to combine and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the glaze and cook for an additional minute.
Garnish with green onions.
Do not serve the red chilies, they are added for flavor, not to eat directly.
If you don’t like spicy then leave the red chilies whole.
Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
(gluten free / nut free / soy free if using soy free Earth Balance buttery spread)
First, the Cheese Sauce
- 1 russet potato, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces (1 1/2 cups / 240g)
- 1 cup carrot, cut into 1/2 inch rounds (130g)
- 1/4 yellow onion, diced (1/2 cup / 65g)
- 2 cups water (475 ml)
- 1/2 cup Earth Balance buttery spread (70g)
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (40g)
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt (6g)
- 3 tablespoons coconut milk (45 ml)
- 3 turns fresh black pepper
Place potato, carrot and onion in a pan with 2 cups of water and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on.
After 20 minutes, turn off heat and add Earth Balance, nutritional yeast, turmeric and salt. Stir to combine.
Pour mixture into a blender and blend until creamy, about one minute on medium. You may need to scrape the sides down from the blender a couple of times for everything to get incorporated.
Add coconut milk to the blender and continue to blend until mixture is creamy throughout.
Place into a bowl and add fresh black pepper.
Now, assemble the whole dish:
- 1 recipe cheese sauce (above)
- 4 cups thinly sliced potatoes, 1/4 inch thick (4 potatoes / 625g)
- 3 tablespoons Earth Balance buttery spread (45g)
- 1 onion diced (1 cup / 120g)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk creamer (120ml)
- 1/3 cup parsley, chopped (8g)
- 1 tablespoons rice flour (30g)
- 1 teaspoon salt (6g)
- 3 cups of chard, chopped (175g)
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C)
Slice potatoes and set aside.
Heat Earth Balance in a skillet and add the onions, garlic and parsley.
Saute for 5 minutes on medium heat.
Add the flour and salt and stir for 30 seconds.
Slowly pour in the creamer and stir until mixture thickens, 1-2 minutes.
Turn off heat and set aside.
Evenly spread 1/4 cup (60g) of cheese sauce on the bottom of a 8x11 baking dish.
Place a third of the potatoes over the sauce, covering the bottom of the pan.
Place half of the chard over the potatoes.
Place a third of cheese sauce over the chard (about 1 cup / 230g).
Repeat (another third of potatoes, the rest of the chard, another third of the cheese sauce).
Add the last layer of potatoes and then pour over the remaining cheese sauce.
With a spoon, evenly dollop the onion/garlic mixture on top of the cheese sauce and sprinkle with paprika.
Place in the oven and baked uncovered for 1 hour.
You can use any leafy green in place of the chard.
(I’m writing my bio in first person because I think writing about myself in third person is creepy)
If I’m not in my kitchen you will find me behind my camera, in front of my computer, on my meditation pillow, in a yoga class or watching Parks and Rec (I promise I’m not snobby – I’m not even good at yoga. It has been my lifelong dream to touch even my fingers to the mat in a forward bend. It still boggles me that I can’t do it given that my arms are disproportionately long).
I have helped open restaurants in New Mexico, California, Texas and Arizona (including Nature’s Express in Berkeley, CA). Before I wrote cookbooks and opened restaurants I was a personal chef.
You can buy my cookbooks on my website, boldvegan.com. While you’re there you can drool over lots of free recipes, check out my guide to getting healthy, 21 Days to Awesome and, sign up for my emails where I share even more recipes and charming banter.
(oh, and I’m always accepting recipe development, food styling and photography work. Check my online portfolio here)
Five Feel-Good Stories Prove That Everyday Heroes Are Everywhere »
This feel-good message is brought to you by PETA blog writer, Chrissy Matthies.
I’m the first to admit that even though PETA saves animals every day, I sometimes falter under the weight of knowing that I can’t end dog chaining, factory farming, and bullfighting right now. But then I hear that a firefighter saved a kitten’s life with a little oxygen—and, let’s face it, a whole lot of sexiness—and my faith that one person can make a difference is restored. Add a school that serves kids vegetarian lunches and a businessperson who leads a group of ducklings safely to a lake, and I feel like I’ve hit the faith-in-humanity jackpot.
Here are five other everyday heroes who made it their business to make a big difference in the lives of animals:
- Andi Davis carried an injured 47-pound dog half a mile down a steep mountainside after spotting him during her morning hike. She rushed him to an animal hospital, where he was treated for gunshot-related injuries. Doggie Elijah has recovered nicely and now lives with Davis and her family.
- After responding to a fire at a California apartment building, members of the Santa Monica Fire Department found an unconscious dog hidden behind a mattress in one of the units. The firefighters rushed the dog, named Stella, from the burning building and immediately began giving her oxygen using a mask specially designed for dogs and cats. Stella soon regained consciousness and was taken to an animal hospital to recover. I’m sure the firefighters got a few doggie smooches for their efforts!
- After Cristina Fernandez spotted a Lobster Zone “game” at a restaurant, she persuaded the owner to get rid of the cruel tank, which allows customers to use a mechanical claw to terrorize and capture the lobsters they want the kitchen to boil alive. Lobster Zone tanks are hideous—the claw can injure lobsters who are already tormented by not being fed while awaiting their deaths. Christina proved that no animal is too small—or antennae-y—to fight for.
- Ginger Frey contacted PETA after she spotted ducklings who were trapped in a storm drain in Lombard, Illinois. Although she had managed to get two of the birds out on her own, the others were too far down for her to reach, so PETA contacted the Lombard Fire Department, which came to the rescue. Firefighters were able to reach the remaining two ducklings, and all of them were taken to a wildlife rehabilitator.
- TatorTot proves that animals can be everyday heroes, too! Christi Smith had just adopted the pit bull when he started whining and barking and running between her and her 4-year-old son, Peyton. When Smith checked on Peyton, she found that he was barely breathing, so she rushed him to the emergency room, where doctors determined that his blood sugar had dropped to dangerously low levels. Because of dogs’ keen sense of smell, TatorTot had probably detected the presence of ketones, which are associated with low blood sugar. He was rewarded with hugs from his mom and a thank-you goody basket from PETA.
TatorTot isn’t the only one to receive a PETA award! Although the aforementioned human heroes didn’t get dog biscuits, they received special recognition from PETA for donning their capes and helped animals in need.
Santa Monica Compassionate Fire Dept Award Ceremony; Credit: PETA
A Very Late, but Very Delicious Homemade Thanksgiving »
The hubby and I celebrated Thanksgiving with my Dad at my sister’s house this Tuesday after a weekend of fighting a flu. This homemade vegan Thanksgiving was the perfect medicine. (L to R) Green Beans, Mashed Potatoes, Cranberry Sauce, Sweet Potato Mash, Bean and Rice Tamale, Stuffing, and Fresh Corn.
I also made an Easy Vegan Pumpkin Pie!
- Veggie Angie
The Germans don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but funnily enough, they have a word for it: Erntedankfest (literally “Harvest gratitude festival”). For the past three years I have been sharing one of my favorite holidays with a few American friends also in Berlin, as well as bringing the Germans (and other foreigners) in on this tasty (vegan) secret.
This year’s menu consisted of:
Seitan Roast Stuffed with Shiitakes and Leeks
Caramelized Onion-Butternut Roast with Chestnuts
Mashed Spiced Sweet Potatoes
Apple, Sausage, and Sage Sourdough Stuffing
Baby Bok Choy with Crispy Shallots and Sesame Seeds
Pumpkin Coconut Soup
Crustless Pumpkin Pie
She’s My Cherry Pie
Moar Vegan Thanksgiving »
Our vegan Thanksgiving spread! This is my 17th meatless year, and 6th totally vegan. My husband is vegetarian, and the rest of our family is omni, to quote my uncle mid-meal last night, “You’ll make a vegan of me yet!”
Roasted Brussels sprouts, Roasted Cauliflower & Red Skinned Garlic Potato Mash (cauliflower roasted with extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt, and pepper, roasted garlic, and boiled red-skinned potatoes, mashed with earth balance, a little soy milk, lots of nooch, sea salt, and pepper), and my husband’s favorite - Tofurky! Marinated with olive oil, soy sauce, rosemary, and thyme, and surrounded by roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, and sweet onions.
Happy cruelty-free Thanksgiving everyone!!!
Happy Thanxvegan from Midcoast Maine! »
For the past two years my husband and I lived in San Francisco and attended a “Thanxvegan” dinner that our friend held for 30 to 40 guests. This year, after a cross-country move to Maine, we made our own holiday vegan dinner … for just us two. We had Trader Joe’s Turkey-less Stuffed Roast (http://www.pinterest.com/pin/34832597089695343/), homemade cranberry sauce, and garlic mashed potatoes made with nutritional yeast and Tofutti Sour Cream (http://www.tofutti.com/dairy-free-cheeses/sour-cream). My favorite dish was the sausage, sage, and apple stuffing made with Tofurky Italian links (http://www.tofurky.com/tofurkyproducts/sausages.html). We enjoyed vegan pumpkin pie and coconut whipped cream for dessert. Happy Thanxvegan, Sadie & Jeremy Roberts
Vegan Thanksgiving in Columbus, OH »
Potato bread rolls, carmelized sweet potatoes, cheesy potatoes, mashed potatoes with gravy, Gardein holiday roast (one with Gardein gravy & one with homemade chickpea gravy), stuffing in the middle. We also had 2 pumpkin pies and a peanut butter ice cream pie with chocolate on top.
Vegan Thanksgiving for Two in San Francisco »
Gardein Holiday Roast with sides and Panil Barriquée sour ale
Everything on a plate. The cranberry sauce and rolls are homemade and the potatoes are loaded with Earth Balance, TJ’s soy creamer, and Just Mayo vegan mayonnaise.
After dinner we made some hot wassail with Madeira, baked apples with brown sugar, California brown ale and winter spices. This glass features some bonus vegan marshmallows.
[AMAZING - Ed.]
My First Tofurkey!!! <3 <3 <3 »
My first tofurkey!! Ive been a Proud Vegan for just about 5-6 years and Ive never made tofurkey. It came out delicious, my non-vegan family member and boyfriend absolutely loved it. Its a pleasure to see enjoy my plant-based creations.