Tumeric Latte

Me and my tumeric latte are watching the first snow fall on Philly today. Tumeric is so great for helping reduce inflammation. Research has linked its benefits to reducing symptoms of Lupus, Ulcerative Colitis, and others (check out nutritionfacts.org for more information).

I try to have some tumeric each day and am more successful on some days than others. I don’t beat myself up about it, but try again the next day. When I can have a tumeric latte, I’m golden (pun intended)!

Warning, revealing something personal: I’m allergic to cinnamon. There, I said it. It gives me a rash, which is a real bummer since it’s delicious.

What you need:

2 cups non-dairy milk, I have been using sweetened soy

1 Tablespoon tumeric powder

1 teaspoon maple syrup (more if using an unsweetened non-dairy milk)

If not allergic, a couple shakes of cinnamon.

Heat milk (don’t boil), stir in maple syrup and tumeric (cinnamon if you want). Whisk all together to get a froth or blend in the blender. Yummers!

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White Dog Cafe in Philly

University City in West Philadelphia is teeming with students, faculty, staff, and community members seeking sustenance for lunch each day. Granted, many bring their lunch. I decided to try the White Dog Cafe yesterday and the best thing going for it are all the fun dog paintings.

They have a vegetarian menu to ask for and many options can be made vegan.

We ordered the sweet potatoes, fries, arepas, and Udon noodle salad. I enjoyed the sweet potatoes, but the arepas came with cheese, despite saying vegan three times when ordering, and the entrees were VERY salty.

Don’t let the pretty presentation fool you. On top of this our reception was lackluster and server clearly wanted to be elsewhere. We did get plenty of water. I guess they know their food is very salty?

One vegan cupcake out of five. Food and service not good, especially at these prices.

My Vegan Dog

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Happy world vegan day!

This is my Shiva. She is named after Vandana Shiva, the ecofeminist. Shiva is a rescue and was homeless before the shelter picked her up. Being homeless led her to eat everything. I am serious when I say everything. At one point, I thought I should start playing the lottery because she would poop out paper with numbers on it! Shiva is 16 pounds of loyal cuddling. She is wary of strangers, I think also due to being homeless, but a huge love bug once she decides she loves you. Shiva loves me best despite the reason we got her was because hubby wanted a dog. As a rescue, we are unsure of her breed and would rather spend the money it would take to find out on treats and toys. We think Shiva is part Shiba Inu and part Fox Terrier.

We knew we wanted our dog to be vegan before Shiva picked us at the shelter. We had read enough information about happy and healthy vegan dogs. Shortly after bringing her home we noticed that she would eat anything, cigarette butts, rabbit poop, rotting anything. Bleck. It continues to be frustrating. Due to this terrible habit, no matter our diligence, Shiva developed pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas. We didn’t even know what this was or that it could be very deadly. Twice she has been hospitalized for pancreatitis and other times we have been able to catch it early enough to treat at home. One time I even induced vomiting to make sure she didn’t get sick again.

After the first time, and as we were transitioning her to a vegan diet, our veterinarian recommended she have a very low fat diet to help prevent reoccurrence. Great! A vegan diet is very low in fat. However, every veterinarian has questioned this decision. Really? It’s so frustrating. Shiva is now approximately 14 years old, a senior dog by any standards. She is still happy to go on a long walk every day and gets antsy if the weather prevents a long walk outside for too many days in a row. She shows no signs of arthritis, but has glassy eyes and is losing her hearing. Other than this and continued flair-ups of pancreatitis, she is in great health. Once a dog has pancreatitis, the dog retains a high likelihood of continued problems with the condition. Especially a dog like Shiva that eats everything.

The bonus of her eating everything is that treats are as simple as raw carrots or peanut butter. She runs around our home with excitement when we pull a Kong filled with peanut butter out of the freezer.

Shiva eats V-dog and adores it. I didn’t want to worry about making sure she was getting all the right proportions of nutrients and decided a formulated diet would be easiest. For skeptic veterinarians, this has been a smart choice as I can easily share the nutrition facts and when there have been additional questions, V-dog staff have been great about supplying additional information.

Choosing what to feed everyone in your family is very personal. Some dogs seem to absolutely refuse vegan options. Veterinarians that support vegan dogs feel that a very slow transition is possible for all dogs. For Shiva, she eats everything. A mixed blessing. I hope your fur babies are healthy and bring you lots of joy. I consider my vegan dog another form of activism through everyday choices and she doesn’t mind.

Vegan Family Vacations

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We all need vacations! Especially parents. And vegan vacations are fantastic. Lots of time focusing on relaxing and not on where to find the next vegan meal. Some cities are better at this than others and sometimes a fully vegan experience is possible (and amazing). I previously wrote about Deer Run B&B in the Florida Keys. Such an incredible trip that included an amazing vegan breakfast each morning. There are other vegan getaways in the United States and across the world. Happy Cow is a great resource for finding such gems. The Stanford Inn by the Sea is on my bucket list!

I was recently approached to talk about family friendly vegan vacations. In general, family holidays that are also vegan can be that much more challenging because when a new layer of sorting is added, fewer choices become available. Luckily, sometimes others have been kind enough to share their research. Here are what look to be six great options.

Sometimes we seek alternatives to family gatherings that normally involve eating animals. For example, this year I am going to Thanksliving at Indraloka animal sanctuary and can’t wait to spend a day with rescued animals, vegans, and great food! Sometimes there are even resorts that meet all these desires; vegan, family friendly, and over a holiday. Really? You bet! I just learned about La Maravilla in Costa Rica. It looks like a wonderful way to be thankful for our vegan lifestyles with our families.

Let me know what vegan holidays you have experienced so I can add them to my bucket list. The photo above is from a trip to Maui many years ago.

Sloppy Joes

I recently found vegan challah. Gasp! Yes! It’s a thing for a future post. Anyway, thinking about what I wanted to do with the yummers challah I decided Sloppy Joe’s. Mmm…

I’ve written before how I don’t usually go for meat substitutes, but this recipe could easily use TVP (textured vegetable protein) with less simmer time to make a more traditional meaty Joe. I opted to play with lentils.

What you will need:

1 cup green lentils (sort out any non-lentils and rinse well)

2 cups water + 2 Tablespoons

1 not-beef bouillon cube

1/2 red onion, diced

2 large cloves of garlic, minced

1 whole red bell pepper, seeds removed and diced

15 ounce can tomato sauce

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

2 Tablespoons vegan Worcestershire Sauce

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

Place the 2 cups of water, rinsed lentils, and bouillon cube in a medium pot. Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer uncovered until soft, about 20 minutes. There should not be any water left, but drain any remaining once the lentils are soft.

In a pot or pan with a lid, place 2 Tablespoons of water at the bottom and add onion, garlic, and bell pepper. Cover and let cook over medium heat until soft, stiring frequently. Add a little more water if needed. Add everything to the vegetables and mix well and let heat up. Taste to make sure you do or don’t want any additional salt or pepper.

Serve warm on buns with sliced onion and lettuce or as a stew with crusty bread. Yummers!

Philly Vegan Restaurant Week

Last week I was lucky enough to pig out at six different restaurants offering special menu items for Philly Vegan Restaurant Week. I remember when we lived in Dallas there was one restaurant during restaurant week that offered a vegan meal and we jumped on it. I remember enjoying it, but it was nothing like the smorgasbord I enjoyed last week.

The first night I participated was Monday and it was the kickoff event at Tattooed Mom’s. Luckily we arrived at 6:00 to eat before a vegan bake sale because they ran out of the special sandwich! A picnic fried chick’n sammy.

At the bake sale we scored air-fried Oreos and a piece of cake. Yummers!

Tuesday evening we arrived at Miss Rachel’s Pantry at 4:50, it opens at 5:00, and we were one of the last people that got her BBQ plate! She made 110 and we ate about 5:45.

Wednesday we had dinner with one of the organizers at Soy Cafe. It was amazeballs with bruschetta over dried sweet potato, stuffed shells, and tiramisu. I’m drooling while remembering!

Thursday we made it to Front Street Cafe and were overwhelmed by the options. Many were from their regular menu, but we had never been, so all was new to us. I can’t remember everything, but we started with heirloom tomato focaccia, shared a giant kale Cesar salad and Mac n Cheese, then I had spaghetti squash with black bean balls and hubby had a noodle dish. The meal ended with mango flan and carrot cake.

Friday was one of the best meals experienced and was at Pumpkin. This restaurant does not normally have a vegan option, but they saw the event advertising and wanted to be part of the week. Wow am I glad they were. So Yummers!

The last night we made our way to Avenue Cup Cafe for baked ziti. Again, no disappointments.

What an incredible week. This was the first time Philly had a vegan restaurant week and I’m already excited for next year. Even the mission is beautiful.

In addition to a couple pop-up dinners, 31 restaurants participated and most are not fully vegan places. If coming to Philly for a visit, this is the week to make it happen.

Açaí Bowl

I adore açaí bowls. So yummy that I decided to figure out more on what it means to make and eat one.

Açaí is similar to other berries in that it has lots of antioxidants. But if really wanting high antioxidants, go for the wild blueberry. Açaí can be found in a powder or as a pulp in the freezer section.

The other thing I learned is that many bowls have quite a bit of sweetener added. It makes the experience taste like ice cream, but be mindful of the sweetener. An açaí bowl that is more true to the flavor of the açaí fruit will be more tart.

I picked a tart approach and this is what you will need:

2 sleeves of frozen açaí pulp

1 ripe banana divided in half

1/4 cup milk alternative, I used soy

Toppings, I used a 1/2 Tablespoon of chia and 1/4 cup of my oil free granola

Blend half the banana with the açaí from 2 sleeves of frozen pulp and 1/4 cup soy milk until smooth. Pour blended açaí into bowl and slice the other half of banana onto the top. I made a row of banana slices down the middle of the bowl. To one side of the banana I added a row of chia and the opposite side got a 1/4 cup of oil free granola.

There is lots of room to be creative with the toppings of an açaí bowl. All kinds of fresh and dried fruit, nuts, and chocolate can be added to the top. Have some fun with it. Yummers!

Oil Free Blueberry Chia Granola

I’m trying to cut oil out of my diet to see what happens. It gets me closer to a Whole Foods Plant Based diet and has so far been a fun journey. I’m not an extremes person, so it’s just a fun personal challenge.

Hubby really enjoys granola for breakfast and I adore it on an açaí bowl. But most granola has oil and the few I have tried that didn’t, were not very tasty. I thought maybe I could figure this out myself. It’s yummers!

What you need:

1 and 3/4 to two cups rolled oats, uncooked

1 cup puffed rice cereal

1 Tablespoon chia seeds

1/4 cup freeze dried blueberries, any dried fruit will work

1/2 cup quality dark maple syrup

If you want cinnamon, I didn’t, then a 1/2 teaspoon will work

Preheat oven to 375. Mix everything together in a large bowl so there is plenty of room to get maple syrup on everything.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and pile on the granola. Try to get about a 1/4 inch layer. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Until the edges begin to brown.

Remove from oven and let cool completely. Break up everything with fingers and move to an airtight container.

As with most things, the longer you take to eat it, the more stale it will get. Especially since there are no preservatives or oil.

Yummers!

Julia’s in South Haven, Michigan

I have wonderful family in South Haven, Michigan and visited briefly in January. South Haven, right on Lake Michigan, is a vacation town and thus has much less hustle in the winter. But funerals happen all year round and I got to be there in the snow.

One afternoon my brother and I were hungry for lunch and Happy Cow indicated Julia’s had vegan options. My aunt had shared it was one of her favorite places in all the other seasons, but had not been in winter. So we tried it and I’m glad we did.

Upon entering I quickly noticed that vegan chili was the soup du jour. Hallelujah! A cold day needed warm chili.

In addition, there were several clearly labeled vegan bakery items.

I was so happy. It can be very challenging to eat out in small towns and previous visits to South Haven had not had as much to choose from.

I got the vegan chili and a blueberry almond power cookie.

Yummers! My brother also got something he enjoyed, but it wasn’t vegan and so I don’t remember the details.

The space was clean and I was so thankful during a cold and sad day. I probably came off as a weirdo to the staff, but they took it in stride and just smiled at my enthusiasm. Julia’s gets four out of five vegan cupcakes for being there when I needed them. If ever in South Haven, Michigan, a very cute town, stop by Julia’s and experience for yourself.

Delicieux in Montreal

Our last day in Montreal we headed to the Mile End neighborhood to explore. It is not known as a tourist area and we wanted to experience a bit of what life in Montreal is like for residents. In addition to a coffeehouse that has live music almost every hour, we stopped at Delicieux for lunch.

I hadn’t done any research to know what we were in for, but the food was wonderful. Everyone orders inside and then the food is brought to you if the place is slow or you pick up from a counter when busy. It was slow during our visit and we sat outside.

We decided to begin with elaborate smoothies.

They were yummers! Next we each picked out a signature bowl.

Again, yummers! We were very pleasantly surprised by the food, which was our consistent response to the food in Montreal. Everything was incredible.

Delicieux gets four out of five vegan cupcakes. The food was wonderful, if a bit challenging to know what we were ordering. For example, the “smoothies” are not exactly smoothies, so we were not sure what we were getting. They are more like bowls in elaborate glasses. But the place is worth visiting if ever in Mile End Montreal.