Tag Archives: vegetarian

Blossom Du Jour: Fast Food Vegan Style

For my last post of the semester, I wanted to find something a little different from the other vegan restaurants I had been going to. Most vegan restaurants are sit-down restaurants, whether they are fancy or more on the casual side, but Blossom Du Jour is a healthier and vegan version of a fast food restaurant. They have five locations, one of which is not too far from Columbia, located at 449 Amsterdam Avenue between 81st and 82nd Street.

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The restaurant was very small inside with a decent amount of counter space. A lot of people get take-out, but many also sit at the counter to eat. If you sit at the counter, there is a nice view of Amsterdam Avenue through the windows. It is a nice spot to eat alone, but you can also bring a couple of friends to enjoy the food with.

I decided to try the Strawberry Banana Burst smoothie and it was truly amazing. It was made with strawberries, bananas, and apple cider. I couldn’t even tell that there were no diary products used to make the smoothie!

Strawberry Banana Burst Smoothie
Strawberry Banana Burst Smoothie

I also tried the Midtown Melt sandwich, which is made with cajun spiced seitan, vegan cheese, agave, guacamole, lettuce, and chipotle aïoli. I could not even tell that the cheese used in the sandwich was vegan! Also the guacamole and chipotle aïoli tasted great together, along with the other ingredients in the sandwich. I would have to say the best part was that my food was all made in under five minutes and it tasted like food that I would order at a restaurant, which would take more than quadruple the amount of time to make.

Midtown Melt
Midtown Melt

I really enjoyed going to Blossom Du Jour, and I will definitely be going back sometime soon! I have never been to a vegan fast food restaurant before, and I’d have to say that it was a great experience. I recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for a quick and delicious meal in a casual and comfortable atmosphere.

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A Vegan’s Heaven in the Village

This time when I chose a vegan restaurant to visit, I decided to stray a little further from campus and I found Red Bamboo on 140 W 4th Street in the Village.

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The restaurant has a very calming and cozy feel, making it a very nice place to go if you are stressed. I decided to get take-out from the restaurant and it only took them 10 minutes to make my food! So, if you are very hungry after making the trek from Morningside Heights, luckily, you will not have to wait long! And my trek was truly worth it!!

Popcorn shrimp
Popcorn Shrimp

I decided to start off my meal with an appetizer. I chose the popcorn shrimp because one of the things that I miss the most after becoming a vegetarian is shrimp. The vegan popcorn shrimp were absolutely amazing! The shrimp I got had the same texture and taste of real shrimp! The shrimp were fried perfectly and the sauce that came with them complimented them very well. I will definitely be going back to get more!!

Classic blt
Classic B.L.T.

I got the classic BLT for my entrée because I was really interested in trying Red Bamboo’s version of bacon. The tempeh bacon was also really good and it  had a very similar taste to real bacon. The sandwich also included whole wheat bread, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and vegan mayonnaise. The mayonnaise didn’t taste exactly like real mayonnaise, but in some ways it was actually better. It was a little less thick than real mayonnaise and had a little bit of a different taste, which actually went better with my sandwich than real mayonnaise would have. I definitely will have to get this sandwich again!

I loved everything about Red Bamboo and I will definitely be going back sometime very soon. Everything I tried tasted absolutely amazing and now I know that there is a place that makes great substitutes for the food that any vegan or vegetarian misses. I will definitely be recommending this restaurant to everyone I know, whether or not they are vegan or vegetarian!

Peacefood Cafe: Any Vegan or Non-Vegan’s Paradise

Everyone loves dessert, and luckily, Manhattan is home to numerous bakeries for all of us dessert lovers in the city. The problem is that it is almost impossible to find a good vegan bakery, even in Manhattan. I made it my mission to find a good vegan bakery and I found the Peacefood Cafe, which is both a vegan restaurant and vegan bakery.

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The cafe is a nice, casual, and cozy spot to have a meal with a friend, while enjoying their many vegan options. It is definitely a stress-free atmosphere! It is located in the Upper West Side on Amsterdam and 82nd, so it isn’t too far from campus. They also have another location in the Village.

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The bakery part of the restaurant had many vegan desserts, which all look like they must be made with diary products. Upon walking in, I even wondered if their desserts were actually vegan! In place of the dairy products normally found in these desserts, the Peacefood Cafe uses healthier options, such as avocados. Not only are these desserts vegan, but also many of them are even gluten free.

From left to right: chocolate chip cookie sandwich and raw chocolate mousse pie
From left to right: chocolate chip cookie sandwich and raw chocolate mousse pie

I had a chocolate chip cookie sandwich and a slice of the raw chocolate mousse pie. The chocolate chip cookie sandwich was two large cookies with chocolate inside, which made them stick together. Without the chocolate inside, the cookies were some of the best I have ever had. The chocolate inside was so rich in flavor that it made the cookies taste even  better. The mousse pie was made with avocado, which made me a little nervous to try it, but it was amazing! The taste of the avocado was undetectable and if anything, it made the chocolate taste even richer in flavor. I will definitely be going back to the cafe to get both of these desserts again!

Mango Lassi
Mango lassi

I also had a mango lassi while I was at the cafe, which I was a little nervous about because it is a yogurt-based drink. The mango lassi was pretty good considering it was vegan, but it wasn’t as good as the non-vegan ones I have had in the past. The yogurt used in the drink tasted like regular yogurt, but the lassi tasted too much like yogurt and did not have enough of a mango taste. Overall, it was good, but I think I will try a different drink next time.

I look forward to going back to the Peacefood Cafe to try more of their vegan options! I definitely would recommend this cafe to anyone looking for a nice to spot to eat and hang out with friends or anyone looking for a good take-out place. This cafe is great for both vegans and non-vegans, alike!

Everyone’s Favorite Foods, Veganized

For my first attempt at finding a vegan restaurant in Manhattan, I decided to begin with a place fairly close to campus. With a quick Google search, I found numerous vegan restaurants, but the Seasoned Vegan on St. Nicholas Avenue caught my eye. After I saw their catch phrase: “The food you love, veganized,” I got really excited.

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The restaurant is really cozy inside and it is definitely a relaxing atmosphere. The waiters and waitresses are so nice and really make you feel at home. One waiter I met is taking classes at Columbia and tried to give me advice on what classes to take!

The best part about this restaurant is that they have both vegan versions of a lot of comfort food and also vegan versions of more upscale entrées. Any vegan or anyone just going vegan for the night, can find something they want to eat.

The problem with a lot of comfort food is that it normally contains either dairy products or meat products. As a result, a vegan cannot easily find comfort food options at home, but at the Seasoned Vegan, they have variations of numerous comfort foods that any vegan would be nostalgic for. I’d have to say that one of my favorite comfort foods is macaroni and cheese and the Seasoned Vegan has it! As a vegetarian, I have always told my friends, “I could never go vegan. There is no way I could give up cheese!” Although, if I could eat this whenever I wanted, I could definitely do it. The “cheese” tastes very similar to regular cheese, but it does have a little bit of a different taste and texture to it.

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After having the macaroni and “cheese,” I was very excited to try my entrée because I ordered a “tuna” melt, and being a vegetarian, I haven’t had tuna in a long time. The “tuna” was a really good substitute for real tuna. It had a really similar taste and texture, and the seasoning was amazing. The salad that came with it went really well with my sandwich.

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I would definitely recommend this restaurant to any vegans looking for a good vegan restaurant to go to, as well as anyone looking for a healthier option to the food they know and love.

Veggie “Hand Roll” with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

Hello again everyone!

This week we’re going to move out of the realm of dinner and explore a lighter, and usually more rushed, meal: lunch! The goal is to show you all that lunch doesn’t need to be a rush job. Instead, it should be the mid-day break that you look forward to. So here’s your challenge: pick a day next week that you’re going to forgo to protein bar and on-the-go yogurt and make lunch in the morning. If you need some help deciding what to make, I can help!

Today I’m sharing with you Veggie Wrap “Hand Rolls” with a Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce. This recipe is an obvious play on sushi. We’re going to put a ton of fresh, crunchy veggies and hummus in a crisp seaweed wrap. Our “soy sauce and wasabi” is going to be a deliciously sweet and savory honey mustard. It’s fast, it’s easy, it’s so good.

Here’s what you’re going to need to…

Wrap/Hand Roll

1 Raw Nori Seaweed Sheet

1 Red Bell Pepper

2 Carrots

2 Leaves of Kale

A heavy dollop of your favorite hummus

 

Dipping Sauce/Soy Sauce

1 tsp. Dijion Mustard

1 tsp. Honey

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FIRST… Wash your veggies well. Julienne the pepper and carrots (cut them into long, thing strips as seen below.) Cut the tough, center core out of the kale. Then, just rip the kale into bite-sized chunks.

When all is said and done, your cutting board should look like this…

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TO MAKE THE SAUCE…Put your teaspoon of both dijon mustard and honey into a small bowl. Mix it up. (How easy is that?!) You can use another kind of mustard if you have no other choice, but I strongly encourage the dijon. The difference in flavor is really noticeable.  The dijon has a kick that plays off the honey brilliantly. It’s borderline magic.

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NEXT… Toast your seaweed. You can do this several different ways. If you have a convection oven, that’s the easiest. Pop the sheet in there and toast it for about 30 seconds, or until it turns green and is flexible to the touch. The change from toasted to burnt happens really quickly, so keep your eye on it. Other ways you can do this is holding the seaweed in tongs over an open flame or in a dry pan on your stove top.

TO ASSEMBLE… Do this quickly while the seaweed is still malleable. First spread a generous heap of hummus into the middle of the wrap on the diagonal (because thats the direction you’re going to roll it.) Then, add your cut vegetables. You can put as many as you feel comfortable with. I like to really load it up. If you have extra, just make another wrap, or dip it in more hummus!

Roll it all up on the diagonal, using your fingers to scrunch in the veggies and keep the roll tight. Channel your inner Chipotle worker. Then, slice it down the middle and you’re ready to eat!

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Happy lunching everyone! Let me know how this works for you in the comment section below. I would love to hear from you!

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Peacefood Cafe: Raw Food For The Soul

After being a non-vegan for two months, I have decided to return to practicing the non-animal product lifestyle. In result, I have to do some hunting for NYC eats for vegans that are highly acclaimed but of course may be overhyped. For my first destination of checking out NYC vegan restaurants, I headed not too far from campus to The Peacefood Café on Amsterdam and 82nd Street (there is also one located at E11th Street and University Place).

I went to the Peacefood Café on a Sunday night at around six in the evening, where there was dim lighting and an earthy smell which created a warm and homey vibe. One can choose to stay and dine, order to go, or deliver as well. The waiting area, which consists of three seats, is filled with pamphlets of vegan recipes. Depending on what one orders the wait may range of 2 minutes to 10.

The menu consists of sides, entrees, desserts, with indicators of what is gluten-free, somewhat gluten-free, and what is raw (meaning nothing was cooked, but still safe to eat). There is also a special menu that is available for order from 5pm-10pm daily, which includes “cheeseburgers”, a vegan version of chicken parmesan, thai curry, among other items. A special breakfast menu, which includes granola, tofu scramble, quinoa porridge, etc., is available to order after 10am until the items are sold out.

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Both times I’ve gone, I’ve ordered to go and have only tried the raw items. The first time I tried The Peacefood Café, I had the raw sushi roll, and this time I ordered the raw lasagna which came with “the other Caesar” which is a vegan interpretation of the typical Caesar salad. The sushi roll, which is walnut pate and veggies, is delicious with lots of flavor. It is topped with avo, and on the side are jicama and carrots. The lasagna was pesto and marinara separating layers of zucchini. The taste in both were extremely rich, and while raw, both were extremely filling and satisfying, this goes for “the other caesar” as well!

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As a vegan, finding satisfying desserts that don’t taste “vegan” are hard to find. Both times I’ve gone to The Peacefood Café I’ve gotten a dessert. The first time I tried out the raw key-lime pie, which was full of flavor, tasted like a key-lime pie, and as I had the last bite I wished for another slice to appear so I could finish that one off too. The next time I went I tried the raw cacao mousse pie, thinking that no other raw vegan dessert could live up to the standard set by the key-lime pie. No disappoint whatsoever. The cacao mousse pie was to die for and lived up to all my expectations. It was rich, and creamy, and did not taste “vegan” at all, but rather tasted like any other cacao mousse pie.

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Overall, I would highly recommend The Peacefood Café for everyone, vegan and non-vegans. Definitely a good place to go to try something new; the desserts are a must and highly recommended for all.

Time to change your mind about Brussels Sprouts

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From the blog, The Neurotic Kitchen, http://www.neurotickitchen.com/2012/10/restaurant-inspiration-ilili-brussels.html

Brussels sprouts. My mother never really cooked them when I was a kid. The first time I heard of them, I also heard that they tasted like rotten socks. And so I avoided at all cost for the majority of my life until I had them as a mezze at Ilili, a modern Lebanese restaurant in Flatiron. They were bitter, salty, sweet, and tangy all at the same time. Recently, I’ve decided to try my hand at making them. I looked up the recipe online and made them for myself and I was so surprised at how easy they were to make. There really aren’t any measurements involved, and so I’m not going to give quantities in this recipe.

All you need are brussels sprouts, a good quality fig preserve, yoghurt, and fresh, finely chopped mint.

First, blanche the vegetables by cooking them in salted boiling water for 3 minutes.

Then, on high heat, shallow fry the sprouts in vegetable oil until they become very golden brown and crispy.

Next, make a mint-yoghurt by adding the amount of mint that you’d like to the yoghurt. Mix equal parts fig preserve and water, and heat them in the microwave until you get a nice smooth mixture.

Finally, assemble your dish by layering the mint-yoghurt, and fig jam over the fried sprouts. Optional but delicious toppings are fresh grapes, cut in half, and toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped. This is a really easy recipe to make, and I hope that it changes your mind about brussels sprouts the same way it did for me!

Image taken from the blog, Marisa's Healthy Kitchen, http://marisashealthykitchen.com/2011/06/05/figgy-brussel-sprouts-with-grapes-and-walnuts/
Image taken from the blog, Marisa’s Healthy Kitchen, http://marisashealthykitchen.com/2011/06/05/figgy-brussel-sprouts-with-grapes-and-walnuts/

 

Quick n Easy Salad

Today was one of those dark, grey days that really feel like the worst of winter. Definitely not a day to go to the grocery store. So, when lunch time hit, I had to make do with what was left in the fridge. That meant onions, micro greens, and tomatoes. And not just any micro greens: micro arugula, sunflower sprouts, and baby beet leaves. Just so everyone is on the same page, baby beet greens are bitter. Really, really bitter. So eating a salad of really small greens wasn’t gonna cut it, flavor wise. I was rescued by the on the vine tomatoes, which would be sweet and warm, and the yellow onions, which would be even sweeter. It ended up feeling like the perfect Saturday afternoon snack, and was super easy to make but still felt pretty gourmet. I think it was the micro greens. Those little leaves feel fancy.

For this recipe, get some sprouts or other small greens. If you can’t find the ones mentioned above, go for kale or raw spinach and chop it up really fine so it looks like ribbons. You’re going to need two onions, about ten small to medium sized tomatoes, and enough green to fit in a salad bowl. That’s usually one to two bunches.

First, plop the tomatoes onto a baking sheet, put a little bit of salt  and a drizzle of olive oil on them, and put them in the oven. Leave them for about twenty minutes. Ten minutes in, start the onions. Saute them with a little bit of olive oil for about ten minutes, so that they start to caramelize. Basically chop the onions, push them around the pan when they start to stick, and take them out when they begin to brown. Put the onions on the bottom of a bowl. Pile whatever greens you want on top, and season to your liking. When you can smell the tomatoes – or they look like an oozing mess – they’re done! Take them out put them right on top of the salad, and viola! If you’re feeling like it needs something else to really beef it up, then cut tofu into squares and bake them at 350 degrees for about twenty five minutes, and throw those in there too. The tofu will add texture and turn it from mid day snack to full on meal.

 

 

So Cal Cooking: Mushroom Pancit

I’ve actually only eaten pancit in my friends’ homes, usually cooked by their mothers or fathers. The recipe itself is relatively easy, since the staple ingredients of thin rice noodles, soy sauce, and citrus are the only things one really needs. Everything else is subject up change: you can add shrimp, vegetables, or beef. It’s super easy, and a perfect dish to make a huge batch of and then reheat leftovers. It can be a main dish or a side dish, and you can jazz it up by serving it with lumpia!

 

Ingredients:

1 15oz pack of chinese noodles

1 head of green cabbage

1 onion, sliced

3 green onions

1 large carrot

3 tablespoons of soy sauce

2 tablespoons of oyster sauce

4 cups of sliced mushrooms

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 cans of vegetable broth

3 teaspoons cumin

A dash of curry

1 teaspoon of lemon juice

Mushroom Pancit

Directions:

1. Chop the garlic and the onions.

2. Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a medium sized skillet on medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and mushrooms and cumin.

3. Cook the onions and garlic for 3-5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent

4. Add the chopped carrots and cabbage, and continue to cook on high heat. Reduce the heat once the cabbage and carrots have softened.

5. In a separate medium sized pot, add the vegetable broth, oyster sauce, and soy sauce. Heat on medium.

6. Once the sauce mixture is boiling, add the noodles. Cook the noodles for 5-8 minutes, or until they are soft.

7. Add the noodles to the vegetable mixture. Turn up the heat to high, and fry for about 8-10 minutes, frequently stirring the noodles.

8. Remove heat, and let the pancit sit for a few minutes. Serve when ready!

 

 

Voracious Vegan: Tofu 101: Three Recipes to Get You Started

Tofu has a bad rap for being a flavorless, almost alien-like vegetarian food–but it’s so much more! Tofu, also known as bean curd when used in Chinese cuisine, is made from soy milk that is fermented and pressed into small, white cubes that come in a variety of textures–extra firm, firm, soft, and silken. Tofu isn’t overly processed, but always try to buy non-GMO and organic (pro-tip: you can easily find it at Trader Joe’s)! Because it doesn’t have much of a flavor on its own, it is often marinated or sautéed with a variety of spices. Tofu can seem pretty intimidating at first, but it’s so versatile and easy to make once you learn how. Here are three of my favorite tofu recipes to get you going! Once you get the hang of it, try testing our your own recipe with different spices and seasonings.

1. Basic Baked Tofu (4 servings)

This is the tofu I grew up with. Simple, savory, and not too much prep. If you’re a newbie to tofu, this is your starting point. Ingredients: 1 block extra firm tofu, 2 tbsp Tamari or soy sauce of choice, juice of 1 lemon, 1 tsp sage, and 2 cups water

Directions: Set oven to “broil.” Slice tofu into rectangles, approximately 1/4 inch each. Lay out slices on a baking sheet and place in oven for 10 minutes, until tofu browns. Flip each piece and broil for another 10 minutes. In a Tupperware container (or a tall plastic container from takeout), combine lemon juice, Tamari, and sage. Place tofu slices, stacked, in the container and pour 2 cups of water over them. They should be completely submerged. Marinate for 1 hour. Set oven to 350 degrees and bake tofu for 5 minutes, until warm. Serve.

2. Scrambled Tofu with Spinach and Mushrooms (1 big serving or 2 moderate servings)

Having trouble giving up your morning eggs? This breakfast tofu will make you forget all about them. Silken tofu gives these faux huevos a soft texture and turmeric gives them the yellow coloring that may just make you forget that what you’re eating is completely vegan.Ingredients: oil of choice (I went for grapeseed), 1 package silken tofu, 2 handfuls spinach, 1 cup chopped mushrooms, 1/4 tsp turmeric, sprinkle himalayan salt, sprinkle nutritional yeast, pepper

Directions: Heat oil in a pan, letting it spread out evenly. Chop mushrooms and sauté until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Gently crumble the tofu into large chunks. You don’t want them to be too small, because they will break apart further as you cook them. Add tofu to pan, stirring occasionally. Add spices and nutritional yeast. Once becomes a bit more composed (think scrambled egg texture), add the spinach. Allow the spinach to wilt, stirring frequently. Serve.

3. Maple-Cider Seared Tofu (serves 4)

This tofu is my most recent soy creation. Using seasonal maple syrup and farmers’ market apple cider, I whipped up this delightfully autumnal protein source.Ingredients: 1 block firm or extra firm tofu, oil of choice, 1/4 cup apple cider, 2 tbsp maple syrup, 2 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp Tamari or soy sauce of choice, 1/8 tsp ginger,

Directions: Press your tofu for at least 30 minutes or longer to get as much water out as possible. Heat oil in a skillet. Slice tofu into rectangles that are about 1/4 inch thick. Place slices (as many that fit) in the pan and allow to brown, flipping so that each side is browned. Apple cider, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, Tamari, and ginger. Once all slices of tofu are seared, add them back to the pan and pour the cider mixture over them. Allow the mixture to bubble and flip the slices a few times to ensure they are wholly covered. Repeat with all the slices and serve.

Try out these recipes and you’ll be a tofu expert in no time!