January 1, 2016

Happy New Year! I’m kicking off the new year by reviving the food sketches. I’ve been thinking about doing them again for fun and drawing practice, and a friend told me she enjoyed them. More than anything, it gives some insight for those wanting to eat a plant-based diet some idea of what they could actually eat.

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Updated Portland Vegan restaurant list

Portland Bowl, Canteen. Photo: Kinfolk
Portland Bowl, Canteen. Photo: Kinfolk

It has been over 2 years since I posted restaurant recommendations and there have been many new additions. Here is an updated list of some of my favorites (and only one that I haven’t tried). I know I am missing a lot because I keep sticking to my favorites. Please let me know which ones you like and I can add them to the list!

AND Café– This small restaurant on Burnside boasts a great brunch menu! It has always been busy. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get their website menu to work (maybe they could use my design services!) but it is definitely worth visiting.

Blossoming Lotus– This tiny little restaurant off Broadway on 15th in Irvington has fresh, delicious vegan food (both raw and cooked) beautifully presented. Lunch is the best. Can get crowded, put your name on the list and get there early. My favorite: The bibimbap bowl! I really like their nachos and pizza, and beet salad. If you want an introduction to “raw” food, this will make you love it.

Canteen– LOVE! This casual little boxy place on 28th and Stark has amazing juices and bowls. My favorite is the Portland Bowl. Their quinoa confetti salad is amazing too. If I could just figure out their sauces, I might start cooking again. My mom likes me to take her here and she gets the Southern Bowl which I believe could fool most meat-eaters, and she marvels at the plethora of tattoos of all the clientele and staff.

Farm Spirit– I have not been here yet, but it is prix fixé 14 course vegan menu, with top chefs. I will report back once I have tried it, but it also has been chosen a top new restaurant. This is quite a feat in meat-loving Portland with so many new restaurants.

Harlow– This is a sister restaurant to Prasad. It has a great location on Hawthorne Avenue. At first I was a little put off by the long line to order and that the tables could be rather scarce at busy times. But, then I tried their food. It was so good! I just make sure to go at either a slower time, or just be patient. I have heard their brunch is amazing. My favorite is the Adobe Bowl. I am sure I would have more favorites, but I keep ordering that one. If only I could learn the secret of their delicious smoky tempeh.

Harvest at the Bindery– This is a cool new “rustic chic” restaurant on Sandy in NE with delicious vegan menu that everyone will love. In fact, it was a 2015 Best New Restaurant pick from Travel Portland (along with my next pick). I’ve eaten there at least three times, each time was delicious. My favorite is the Trumpet Mushroom platter. The cornbread with hazelnut butter that they give you before your meal would also qualify as my favorite.

Next Level Burger– I have already written a whole post on them. I was that excited about a vegan fast food restaurant. The kids LOVE this place. Next time I go, I am definitely trying a salad. Last time we went, my daughter had their grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup, there is more than just burgers here.

Paradox Café– This place (and logo) looks like it has been around since the 70s. Located on funky Belmont Street, it has a diner feel. My daughter always gets their special Mac n’ Cheese with garlic, and I usually get the tempeh sandwich or Belmont Bundle. This would be a good place to get a Vegan Benedict. The kids are really into their food but it is not my top choice. Last time I went, they did not take credit cards.

Portabello– Only have been here once, but it was pretty divine. A little spot on Division near 11th that you really should make reservations for. Otherwise, get there early to get a table or it will be an hour wait. There is a beer place next door, so you could hang out. We went there for date night and I can’t remember specifically what we ordered, but it was amazing. Seeing how busy these places are, I am surprised there aren’t more of them!

Sweet Hereafter– This funky bar on Belmont is worth going to strictly for their signature cocktail served in a mason jar. They have some yummy bistro food like a tofu bahn mi, and really good buffalo “chicken” sandwich made of soy curls. If you want to go the healthy route, there are bowls too. It is a mix of hipsters and not-so-hipsters (like myself). It’s not a romantic, talking type of bar- the music is really loud and you’ve got table mates, but I do like their drinks! You can’t beat their signature drink served in a big mason jar.

The Sudra– Indian food always has great vegan options., but this place is ALL vegan. They have a great Happy Hour where we were able to try a wide variety of their dishes. All of them were very good, with an inventive drink menu. Patio seating on 23rd and Glisan.

Veggie Grill– So, I don’t actually eat in downtown Portland much. I like staying on the Eastside. I’ve been to the Veggie Grill a few times, and have found it to be a good fast-food chain restaurant. It wouldn’t be a good choice for a date night, but it has a lot of plant-meat options for those craving burgers, as well as huge, yummy kale salads.

Vita Café– This is a great, inexpensive place to go when you are in a mixed group with omnivores. They have mostly veg options and kids eat free from 5-7pm for only $1. They have a nice drink menu, and serve a lot of comfort foods like “chicken-fried steak” made with tempeh. It has a nice location on Alberta Street.

 


My new signature fudge recipe

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So, I haven’t posted for awhile since we were in Hawaii for about a week, and then the holidays. A lot to catch up on.

But first, I need to post a recipe. We went to an after-holiday party tonight (such a great concept), and I needed to bring something to share. We haven’t done a lot of grocery shopping since our trip, and family was in town, so there wasn’t time to plan and cook anything elaborate. Pinterest to the rescue. I found this delicious recipe that only needed a few ingredients and was very easy.

I got more compliments on this dessert than I ever have before. A few people asked for the recipe, so here it is:

Perfect Raw Vegan Fudge Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

You do need to freeze it, so don’t eat it straight out of the Vitamix like you will think about doing. I wasn’t sure about just freezing it on a plate, but it worked out pretty well on parchment paper. My fudge looked a lot different than the photo- a very dark black color (and I left out the nuts). I used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa which is the change that makes it my signature recipe. (-;

The recipe mentions adding dried fruit, peppermint extract, or coconut so you can play around with this and make it your own.

Hope you enjoy it!

 


Give veg a try for 2016!

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We’re already into the first week of December, and in just a few weeks, 2015 will be over. Even if you don’t agree with the idea of making resolutions, January 1, 2016 is a great time to start some new habits or just have a clean slate to start the next half of this decade.

I would like to propose doing a 22 or 30 day veg challenge to kick off the new year!

After being open to the ideas of changing my diet from my daughter and watching Forks over Knives, I decided to try eating a plant-based diet for 30 days in February 2012. I went back and looked to see if I could find a blog post about it, but it happened while I was focusing on doing daily food sketches. Beginning February 1, my sketches show that I stopped eating meat.

After my 30 day trial period, I just kept going. And the reason I kept going was because it wasn’t that hard, and I felt really good. I did this without any support from having vegan friends or being in a vegan community (although I was fortunate that my husband and kids were open to this). For the longest time, I worried that I would just slip off the wagon as so many do. However, I now consider myself vegan since February 2012, despite some small vegetarian slips, since my definition is having intention, philosophy and doing one’s best.

The reason I think it worked for me are these things:

1) I educated myself about how to eat plant-based. Watching Forks over Knives helped, and then I followed it up with a trip to Herbivore and chose the 30 day Vegan Challenge by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. This became my guide. It is too easy to get lost without having information about nutrition, recipe ideas, and suggestions for eating out, etc. Being vegan isn’t easy, and it isn’t hard… it is a change and requires some thought. When we first got our electric car I felt the same way about having to think about it differently to make sure it stayed charged. I am so used to gas cars and how that works. Now, I don’t have to think about it, I’m used to it. I take an iron and B12 supplement, and am thriving.

2) I had more than one reason to keep going. If I had only been following the diet for health reasons, it would have been easy to slip in animal products here and there, or worry I wasn’t getting enough nutrients. I finally allowed myself to see the cruelty animals have long-suffered once I stopped eating them. From there, it was easy to see the effect animal agriculture has on our planet, and my children’s future. That is not something I am going to forget.

3) I didn’t focus on perfection. If I had worried that I had eaten one cookie that may have had some egg in it, the challenge would have been too daunting. Do your best, always, to make good choices and have the least impact. I haven’t always even been comfortable calling myself vegan because I am not perfect and also wanted to avoid being stereotyped. Don’t get hung up on labels.

4) My palate changed. Taste buds change after 2 weeks, you have to try it to see. Vegetables and fruits taste even more amazing! I use less salt, sugar and fat and have found so many new foods I had never tried such as tempeh and seitan. Animal meat and eggs no longer look or taste appealing, and I have found some “clean protein” plant meats that I enjoy. I never thought I could give up cheese or milk (luckily dark chocolate is vegan). I now love my soy milk. As for cheese… that may be the hardest one for some people, but the new nut cheeses are amazing. Don’t think of the plant-based foods as needing to be exactly the same as animal-based foods and they can be delicious in their own right- try a coconut milk shake and you will see what I mean.

5) I tried to keep things in perspective. I didn’t come to these ideas overnight or by someone preaching to me. Although people know where I stand, I don’t create controversy with my friends and family. I want people to feel comfortable coming to me if they have questions and not feel judged. I stay vegan because it was my decision, and it resonates with what I believe in. That has been the best part of changing what I eat. Feeling in alignment with what I have always valued: peace and compassion.

It has been an interesting and life-changing experience over the last few years. I have had some strange Matrix-like moments, where it felt like I was seeing the world with new eyes. There have been centuries of cultural and historical meaning woven into what we eat, let alone billions of advertising dollars. It sometimes felt like swimming against a school of fish, which is not a role I relish. We don’t live in a world of around 3.7 billion people as we did when I was born, population has already doubled in my lifetime! Doesn’t it only make sense that we can’t continue to live as if our resources are unlimited? I absolutely believe that we can have a better future for our children, cleaner air, fight against wildlife extinction, less drought, less wars, less starvation (as we use our land and water more efficiently to feed people instead of farm animals), less cruelty to animals and better health if we make some changes. We can’t afford to look away any longer.

I hope you will give veg a try. And, I would be happy to help in whatever way that I can if you need a veg buddy. There are so many resources online, and great local communities with support like our Portland-based NW Veg. We all have the power to make this change three times every day, and honestly it has never been easier to find delicious plant-based food.

Instead of resolutions, try a New Year’s Revolution!


Plant-based meats and milks are the future!

Every day gets us better vegan options to replace animal products. I mean, if we can put a man on the moon it seems like we could make a plant-based product that tastes like animal meat!

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There are so many positives that can happen. We end all the suffering the animals endure- not just shortened and miserable lives, but also the need for all the environmental resources to breed these animals (land and water used), the methane and carbon dioxide they emit, the pollution to our water and land from their waste. We can eliminate giving animals 80% of all antibiotics because of their conditions, which is in turn causing superbugs that can’t be treated for humans. And on top of all of that, we can reduce the artery-hardening cholesterol and other negative health aspects.

If you could replace your eggs, butter, milk, cheese and meat with options that tasted just as good and weren’t more expensive, would you do it? There is now a burger that even “bleeds” like real meat, but skips the cruel treatment for those who enjoy that type of thing. The prices will come down. We’ve all heard of lab-grown meat. If that seems disgusting to you, please watch a video of how the meat industry operates.

Veggie-Burger

New jobs will be created to replace old jobs. Large companies will get behind it if that is what consumers want, or more importantly, if they can make more profits.

Just in the last few years I’ve seen a huge increase in vegan options- especially in the variety of milks. From hemp to cashew to soy to almond, there are so many choices in pretty much every store. Some of that is from vegans/vegetarians, some from meat-reducers, and I believe even some from the popularity of paleo diet. Although paleo diets increase the amount of animals eaten, they also don’t eat dairy and eat a lot of produce. I think it also has raised awareness of factory farming vs grass fed or wild-caught. I’m definitely not agreeing with this diet, but pointing out that the balance is tipping.

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I’m sure that people will have hesitations about moving away from their traditional foods. But, things have changed and we need to change. There are now too many people eating too much meat and animal products for a sustainable world. And that is not fear-mongering, it is just science. I have another post about why I am erring on the side of caution, rather than just continue as if our population and our resources are not intrinsically linked.

Amazon rain forest, Brazil
Amazon rain forest, Brazil

Some people prefer to just skip anything that resembles animal products. However, most people want to transition to similar types of foods at first, or maybe just enjoy them. When you consider the alternatives: drought, fish-less oceans, deforestation, carbon levels… plant-based meat starts to sound a whole lot better.


Next Level Burger lives up to it’s name

I’ve been eagerly anticipating the arrival of Next Level Burger for months. This is their second store- the first is in Bend, Oregon.

What is so special about them? They are completely plant-based fast food. Not only that, all their produce is 100% organic. Their signature burger has 26 grams of protein, 330 calories and only 8 grams of fat. Healthy fast food with no animal products… wrap your head around it for a minute.

outside

Finally, opening day arrived and we headed off to nlb. It is located in a great prime location in SE Portland, across the street from New Seasons. The graphics and design look great. The orange script lettering on the outside window proudly proclaims “Love thy Burger”, and there is a full orange wall with text and illustrations. In fact, every little aspect is nicely done, which I appreciate as a designer. It almost reminds me a bit of Japan, with their attention to detail and aesthetics from their little tiny unique plate designs, tiny wooden branded toothpicks in burgers and special reusable cups with compost-able matching straws. The employees seem happy and friendly- like unusually nice. I think they choose to work here for a reason and support the concept fully, or maybe they are just good employers. Anyway, no surly staff ever surfaced on any of my visits.

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Okay, but what about the food? Well, there is a huge variety of choices there, which made me decide to wait until I had been there a few times (like a food critic) before my review.

The first visit we each had a different burger, I tried the SoCal which is a tofu-based patty. My husband had the Spicy Bean Burger. We shared delicious sweet potato fries and a Caramel Shake that was made with coconut milk ice cream (you can ask for either that or soy milk ice cream).

1stvisit

It was really good, especially the shake and fries! I don’t think I even got a taste of the bean burger, but I really wanted to try the other options.

The next chance I got, my husband and son brought a “to go” order home. My boy LOVED the hot dog he got, and I had the tempeh burger which was really good! I was also very hungry from helping out at the farm, so I needed to have another visit to make sure I wasn’t biased. In all the excitement, no photos were taken.

Today I got my third chance to review nlb. This time, I went for the All-American Burger which is a plant-based patty, with smokey tempeh bacon, and delicious cheddar cheese (their own plant-based version). Wow, that one was really good- probably tied with tempeh.

detail

My friends ordered different burgers which they really liked as well, tater tots, side of fresh fruit and a generous side of sautéed kale with lemon. Now that’s original- and delicious. The burger on the left is on a gluten-free bun, which is great that they offer that option.

trioofburgers

I almost held off writing this review because I need to try the quinoa burger, and I saw someone order a salad that looked AMAZING. It was huge! I am getting one of those next time, bringing a kid, and stealing bites of their burgers. They have a seasonal pumpkin and white bean burger right now too. The kids are actually wild about tempeh (which is funny, but true), so maybe a BLT sandwich for them.

It is going to take me several more visits to work through their menu. A place omnivores, vegetarians and vegans can all enjoy together. Other restaurants better take note, this place is really taking it to the next level.

 


Carrot Dogs! Why haven’t I heard of this before?

It is time for carrots to become a fast food treat, so move over tater tots.

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This seems so strange, but I am definitely bringing them to my next BBQ. Basically, a steamed, marinated carrot replaces a hot dog. It tastes remarkably similar somehow, and you get to skip all the nitrates and unknown ground-up animal bits.

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Found this Carrot Dog recipe on Clean Eating Veggie Girl. It was super easy, except you have to plan ahead since they marinate overnight.

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It was a big hit. Give it a try… the only thing I would do differently is use thicker carrots next time.

 


Thanksgiving taste tests- part 2, the classic Tofurky roast

It sounded like a great idea to try out a lot of vegan meats at the time. However, after eating the first one… I didn’t feel like eating a lot more. Not only was that one very good, but it completely filled whatever vegan meat roast desire I may have been wanting to satisfy.

How many meat eaters really feel like eating a turkey every week? Anyway, if you are interested in different options: here is a list I found. It includes my choices, but with better photos.

I have tried two from the list, and was planning to try the Field Roast version too. However, it costs $19.99 at Whole Foods- on sale. At this same store, they are selling young heritage turkeys for that same price. Making this animal’s life worth so little, and make the vegan option so expensive is just out of whack. I think this will change in the future as demand for veg options continues to rise.

So, here is my review on Tofurky roast. Aesthetically, it was not as appealing looking at first, but I put it in my fancy roasting dish basted in olive oil and soy sauce and baked it for 1 hour, 20 minutes. It came out looking better with a few grill marks. It didn’t slice that well, but everyone said they liked it. Was it bad? No. I just preferred the Trader Joe’s version with the crust, with delicious gravy included.

For our actual Thanksgiving, I might try making my own or will bring the TJ one. Will keep you posted.

tofurky

 


Portland Veg Fest 2015 highlights

Last weekend I attended Portland VegFest for the 3rd time. This time, as an exhibitor. We were promoting our design business, as we would love to work with the types of businesses there. In fact, it turned out that we met a lot more people from the general public who were interested in talking to us.

VegFestlogo

We’ve worked with NW Veg for years. Our design firm created their logo, ads, posters and different logos for their other events. I was so impressed once again with the quality of the speakers, and how organized they are.

I popped out of our booth several times to try some samplings and there were a lot of new products, as well as some favorites from last year. So many people who attend aren’t vegan or vegetarian, and this event gives them the chance to see how delicious vegan food is, and feel confident buying it at stores.

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Since we were going to be there two days, we had the kids there for part of the days. I asked them to volunteer on Sunday, and they did really well! They do much better with helping when they are not with me. The rest of the time, they read “Persimmon takes on Humanity” the new young adult fiction book I bought there, and played on the phone, and ate samples.

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ClioVeg

My highlights were meeting Colleen Patrick Goudreau and Sid Garza-Hillman. Sometimes you think you know quite a bit about a topic, but I learned a lot and had very interesting insights that will affect my activism and advocacy. Enjoyed Free from Harm’s Robert Grillo’s talk as well.

It was gratifying to see how well the different vegan businesses were doing- Herbivore Clothing always had a crowd of people around them, Christoper Locke (the book author) sold out of his copies, and I saw a lot of people sporting the NW Veg membership bags as new members. I went back to Miyoko’s cheese table on Sunday afternoon and they had sold out completely. That made me both happy and sad.

We bought a lot of food from the vendors, nut butter, renewed our membership and had a great time. I wish I had taken more photos!

At the end of Sunday, I couldn’t resist popping up for a bit to see Dan Pirraro give his comedic talk “Food is Funny”. Then, ended up being late to return to our booth where my teenager was playing on my phone to discover the freight doors were open letting in cold air. Besides that moment of feeling like the worst parent ever, it was very good. We ended the evening across the street at Pixie Project where we volunteer and gave love to the kittens there.

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Whether it brings in new business or not, it was well-worth it! Thank you NW Veg for creating this great event! We’ll be back next year.

 


Thanksgiving taste tests- part 1! Trader Joe’s Turkey-less roast

This year my parents surprised me with the news that there won’t be a turkey on the table this year.

I’m thrilled that they decided this on their own. My mom told me she read the last blog post and agreed with it, but she had also been just going along with a turkey for years just as tradition. I think it was kind of a pain for her to deal with as well.

She has an amazing repertoire of side dishes that I really can’t replicate (or don’t want to try), so I was thinking of making or bringing something to replace the turkey portion.

I definitely don’t want to bring something that is not tasty, so we are doing some advance taste tests. Ideally, I would like to do the taste test with omnivores since I think our taste buds have changed from not eating meat for a few years.

Tonight I made the Trader Joe’s Turkey-less roast which I picked up for $10. It includes gravy and has a nice breadcrumb coating with stuffing inside. On the photo, the turkey meat looks pretty realistic.

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First of all my son wouldn’t stop tasting the gravy it came with. It was very savory with herbs, quite good. I baked the roast covered for 25 minutes, then uncovered for 20 more minutes. It came out with crust nice and crispy and browned.

I served it with some boiled potatoes and carrots.

Now for the reviews: The kids freaked out! This might mean that we haven’t been making amazing dinners recently, but even the picky girl was crazy about it. It was supposed to serve 6, but there wasn’t a morsel left. The kids went over the top with their praise, “Tastes like angels made it!” “Mom, can we have this every night? Will you buy 1,000 of these”. I think you can sense the adoration in how G is tenderly cradling the box.

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Jonathan and I really liked it too, and I think it would be a worthwhile investment to have for your vegetarian friends. It tastes really good hot, never had a chance to see how it would taste cold. I think this one will be a tough one to beat!