28 July 2014

Fresh Canada

28 July 2014 0
Finally I found the time to return to Canada for another visit! I was determined to revisit FRESH! This was my favorite place last visit! 

This time around we were dragging the boyfriends with us, who are NOT vegetarian eaters in any way shape or form. Poor kids ;)

The girls started with the fresh platter taster. It consisted of sikil pak, cashew scallion pate, dukkah & olive oil, green pea and tarragon spread, flax hummus with za'atar, marinated olives, cucumber and heirloom grape tomatoes. We just asked that the bread come separately so that I could still enjoy the dish gluten free and my aunt and sister could still enjoy their bread. 


The boys started with the french fries and "cheese" sauce. 

I was surprised by their reaction. I don't think they understood that it was a vegan restaurant - I had to inform them after they ordered that the "cheese" sauce was not really cheese! To my dismay, the boys LOVED IT! They even let me try a quick bite! The sauce was "cheesy" and full of flavor! 

I made the mistake of ordering the exact same thing I did last time, the green goddess bowl - but I say it's a mistake because I truly did enjoy this meal on my last visit. I enjoyed it so much, that I went home and recreated it myself and I have to say, I preferred my version.  So I was a bit disappointed and felt that the flavor was lacking.

Another dish from the table was the buddha bowl. Everyone tolerated their choices but I could tell that everyone felt this was not as enjoyable as last time! Maybe a new chef?

Overall we enjoyed our tasters and this time around, we learned we only needed the baby sizes! 

24 July 2014

Milestones, Toronto Canada can do Vegan and GF

24 July 2014 0
It was a hot summer day and we were looking for a quick bite and a nice cold refreshing drink! My aunt suggested we try Milestone Restaurant for their great city views.

While I had no problem finding a drink, I did struggle to find something of interest on their menu. I ended up going with the waitress's recommendation of the Tomato Basil Penne. Honestly, I was hungry so it was something to eat - but the flavor was lacking! I did enjoy the GF bread that was served with the dish and I thought the allergy toothpick was cute.

In my opinion, Milestones is great for views and a quick drink - but their food is lacking any authenticity or flavor!


Vitamix Obbsession

I have owned my Vitamix for about a month now and it has been utilized far more than I thought possible! I use it on almost a daily basis.

Check out some of my creations:

If you have yet to make soup, you need to! It's so simple - just toss everything in, put the Vitamix on high and let it run for approximately 5 minutes. Soup is pipping hot and nice and creamy!

For this vegetable soup I literally went into the fridge and just started tossing in whatever I could find (squash, zucchini, carrots, onions, celery, etc). I mixed in some black pepper, garlic, turmeric, and red pepper.

This was my first go at the soup and I was nervous on how well it would blend - but this was a big hit and I have made a number of soups following!

Pickle Martini. 
I know this sounds weird, BUT the Vitamix was new and I was trying everything and anything I could!

It was a simple recipe, pickle juice, ice, and Vodka. The taste on the other hand was a bit too rough to actually enjoy!

Complements on the presentation though. The Vitamix literally "whipped" the pickle juice into a nice foam!





Strawberry Banana Smoothie




 
Orange and Amaretto Drink



17 June 2014

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Muffins

17 June 2014 0
Recently, I have been in a baking mood and while my current living conditions are not conducive for a gf and vegan baking environment, I decided I would make some gf baked goods to share with my coworkers. They have been trying to eat healthier and this way if the gf food was slightly contaminated, no one would have an allergic reaction.

These chocolate chip muffins are beyond easy.

1. Preheat your oven to 350
2. Get your blender out
3. Put 1 egg, 1/2 cup of nut butter, 2 teaspoons of flaxseeds, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 2 ripe bananas, 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and some vanilla extract.
4. Completely mix your ingredients together
5.Add chocolate chips
6. Bake for about 10 minutes in a greased muffin tin.

NOTE: The recipe makes about 9 muffins.

Enjoy!

02 June 2014

Down To Earth Cafe, Perkasie, PA

02 June 2014 0
While my initial thought when I found myself unexpectedly spending the night in Perkasie, PA was, where am I going to find food here? I'm much more comfortable when I am in locations that are more "city-like". I tend to find more vegan and gluten free options. Regardless, I found myself in Perkasie so I was determined to find something to eat because I was rather hungry at this point.

I searched my trusty app - Find Me GF - and found Down To Earth Cafe. Nick, being so easy-going, said we should go, check it out and if you do not feel comfortable, we move on.

Upon arrival, I quickly started asking the staff for assistance - what can you provide that is both gluten free and vegan? Should I be worried about contamination? While I was a bit worried, as their menu did include a number of gluten-filled foods and their prep area appeared rather small, the staff seamed pretty confident that they could deliver a non-contaminated gluten free and vegan meal.

I was given the option to have either a gf bagel with nutella (which I do not care for) or a fig jam or a quinoa and sweet potato vegan burger. I opted for the vegan burger with everything on it.

Nick and I moved outdoors to enjoy the great sunshine! The wait time was so-so, but than again, maybe it was because at this point I was starving! When the plates arrived, my dish was served with a side of pasta salad and I quickly asked, "is this also gluten free?". Of course it was not, but it gave the server the time to get me a clean dish with a side of potato salad, which was not vegan - so there was two mess ups that made me a bit nervous on how I would be feeling after this meal.

Again, at this point, I was so hungry I was going to eat it no matter what.

The verdict, presentation was ok. The burger it's self was too difficult to it in it's entire form, I resorted to deconstructing the meal. The burger was decent, full of flavor - but left me looking for more condiments, in particular more of the "humus" - which ultimately looked like smashed avocado to me. Anyhow, the food was alright the pricing was high and I am still nervous on how cautious they are on not contaminating gluten free meals.

Will I return? Perhaps. Maybe next time I should stick with a smoothie to be a bit more cautious.

I also found their food to be a bit on the expensive side and not worth the 20.00+ we spent.

14 May 2014

Gluten Free & Vegan Visit to Thai Kuu, Chestnut Hill PA

14 May 2014 0
With mixed reviews, Thai Kuu has been on my mind. Craig LaaBan slashed Thai Kuu with a one bell rating - while Thai Kuu's customers are rating their experiences on average a 4 out of 5 stars review. You can find these reviews on places like: opentable.com, Yelp!, and so forth. I couldn't help but want to take a peak for myself.

Which on one hand, I kept thinking to myself, I am going to go here tonight, spend too much money and be 100% disappointed, as Craig LaBan and I, are usually on the same page as far as food goes. Still, there was that other half of me that wanted to go see for myself - I mean, the owner is from Thailand so how badly can the food be?

I made my reservations on opentable.com and was sure to add notes that I was both gluten free and vegan. In addition, just to be on the safe side, I also called the restaurant to not only confirm the reservations but to discuss my gluten free and vegan options.

The vegan topics was an easy one for Thai Kuu, like many Thai restaurants, you have the option to pick your protein - tofu and vegetables being one of the options. As for the gluten free options, I was given choices of a curry or pad thai dish.

I arrived a tad bit late for my reservations, thank you Philadelphia traffic, but the other half of my party had arrived and was waiting for us. When I arrived, I walked in with my green apple bottle of wine, and the waiter immediately showed us to our table and got us an ice bucket and wine glasses. P.S there is a $1 charge for BYOB service - which is very reasonable.

The waiter gave us some time to settle in and then stopped by to let us know what the specials of the day were. What I found interesting was, the waiter actually used an ipad to show us the specials and then to describe them verbally - obviously visuals sell! Unfortunately, none where vegan so I opted to stick with the curry or pad thai choices.

We all placed our orders- the waiter was extra careful and even asked if we should try to make each plate at the table gluten free!

All dishes are made to order, so I anticipated a bit of wait time. In the meantime, we enjoyed our discussions, our green apple wine, and the atmosphere. While I can see how on busy weekends the atmosphere would get a bit too tight, it is no different than any other romantic byob in the Philadelphia area. So if you are not down for the crowds and tight spaces, just be sure to check out Thai Kuu on a week night.

After some time, our food arrived. My dish coming out first. I ordered the green curry ( as it was noted to be the spiciest) and I couldn't help but have asked for the Thai Kuu Hot Sauce on side - I like to spice everything up!

My first bite in and I knew already, this was not the spice level that I would like it to be at, but it was edible. The curry was the creaminess that I yearn for in a curry dish and the vegetables where not overcooked. The rice was rice, I don't typically eat rice, but I was lathering it with the Thai Kuu hot sauce. Which, again, in my opinion, was a very mild sauce.

Going back, I think I would stress the spice level that I prefer and see if they can't heighten the level - I mean every dish is made to order, no?


Nick, as always, ordered the Pad Thai. This time around he ordered it without eggs - as we have been noticing an egg allergy that he is just not willing to suffer through the aftermath for the satisfaction of eating an egg.

Nick's beginning to realize that most food is better when you make it yourself. While Thai Kuu's pad thai was not awful, it was missing flavor - it was a bit on the bland side.

However, the presentation was beautiful and even came with an edible orchid.

Another guest of ours decided to try the pinapple himmaparn - which is a stir-fry with chasews, chili pasta, pineapples, scallions, and onions. The protein of choice was chicken.

Platting was on par - what a beauty!

The guest seemed to enjoy the dish and found the sweetness of the pineapple to match perfectly with his expectations.

I don't recall him being brave enough to try the orchid though.

Lastly, the table ordered the teriyaki chicken. Being a rather "picky" eater, Cory seemed to enjoy the dish. She made note that the sauce was full of flavor and she almost cleaned her dish!

Overall, the service that we received was perfect - very attentive. The atmosphere was calm and romantic, but it was a weeknight.... The food, was alright. In my opinion, all the dishes needed more flavor!

Would I return, perhaps, but it is not going on my favorites list!

Gluten Free & Vegan Easy Rice Noodles with Peanut Sauce

Ingredients:
- 1 Pkg of rice noodles
- 1/2 cup of Peanut Butter
- 1/4 cup water
- Some honey
- Red Pepper Flakes
- A teaspoon of gluten free soy sauce
- Crushed Peanuts
- Garlic

Directions:
- Cook the rice noodles accordingly to the package
- In a blender mix the remaining ingredients. 
- Pour over the rice noodles right before serving. 
- Sprinkle the crushed peanuts on top

12 May 2014

Miso Fermented Red Cabbage

12 May 2014 0
I'm madly in love with my kimchi and decided this time around I would do things a bit differently.

I purchased two smaller heads of purple cabbage - I shredded the cabbage into long strips

Then I put an entire bag of baby carrots, some fresh ginger, of course some garlic into the food processor.

I combined all of the ingredients together.

I switched out the food processor and swamped in the blender. I added 2 cups of water, turmeric, and 1 large tablespoon of brown rice miso.

I mixed the miso mixture into my red cabbage slaw and waited a good 30 minutes before transferring into the jars to sit for a good 5 day minimum. With the warmer weather, the ferment should actually excel.




08 May 2014

How Does A Gluten Free Vegan Travel?!

08 May 2014 0
The big question, what does one do when traveling with a gluten free vegan diet?
The simplest answer I can give, prepare! Anytime I travel, I am sure to bring enough food that I will not go hungry, especially when I am traveling with others.

I have come to find that my traveling fridge is a huge help. I purchased one a couple years ago and then I added a converter to it so that I can take it from the car to the indoors.

Planning a quick weekend getaway to the beach with my boyfriend's family, I decided my best option was to prepare every meal in a to-go container with no additional preparation needed.

Breakfast was an easy option, just make my Glowing Green Smoothie and pack some additional fruit. I put together strawberry and banana packets to add with my smoothies. 

For my lunches and dinners I decided to go with salads and a raw pasta dish. 


 For two of my meals I put together an amazing salad!

Ingredients For Salad: 
- Greens of your choice
- Sprouts
- Celery
- Cucumber
- Peppers
- Tomatoes 
- Dried Seaweed
- Cilantro
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Turmeric
- Red Pepper
- Snap Peas
- Radish
- Broccoli
- Sunflower Seeds 
- Avocado 
- Lemon Juice
- Grated Ginger
- Dressing of your choice

Ingredients for Celery Dressing:
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Water
- Celery
- Ginger
- Pepper

Ingredients for Tahini Dressing:
- Homemade Tahini (or store bought)
- Tumeric
- Honey 
- Water
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Hot Sauce

For an additional food option, I choose to make a small side salad and rainbow carrot pasta dish. 
Ingredients for Rainbow Carrot Pasta:
- Rainbow Carrots
- Almond Butter
- Honey
- Turmeric
- Water
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Snap Peas
- Broccoli
- Tomatoes
- Peppers
- Black Pepper
- Hot Sauce

Simply mix everything together and let sit for a full 24 hours. This will allow the carrots to soften and for the sauce to soak in some flavor. 

07 May 2014

Double Tree by Hilton, King of Prussia Accommodating Food Allergies

07 May 2014 0
Gearing up for a full two-day forum at the Double Tree by Hilton in King of Pussia, PA - I choose to call the venue and see what they could provide for those of us with allergies. While they made note that there would plenty of gluten free and vegan options, there was slim to no gluten free and vegan options -nor, was there anything not coated in oil.

The executive chef, Owen, took details of all of my food allergies and preferences and said to simply not worry, they would prepare something tasty and safe for me to eat.

The first day of the forum, I went and found the restaurant manager to point me in the right direction to Owen. Once found, I waited a god twenty minutes before my food was ready - but it finally did come out and it was a warm plate of steamed vegetables.

Problem here - the serving size was just way too small. I left feeling very hungry. The dish was served with a small bowl of rice, but I don't care for rice...


The second day of the forum came and I thought I would give it a second try. I requested some additional vegetables this time around.

I picked at the rice and was disappointed that the vegetables had been coated in oil this time around.

What is my overall thought on the Double Tree? While their portions are significantly too small, they do go above and beyond to accommodate and the day snacks always had the option of fresh fruit!



05 May 2014

HoneyGrow, Philadelphia PA

05 May 2014 0
Recently, I was blessed with the opportunity to host a Global Women's Leadership Forum. Knowing that for once, I was hosting for a women-dominated group, I wanted to cater something out of the usual and more healthy. Also, there was a selfish part of me that actually wanted to be able to eat this forum food.

I did some research and noticed that HoneyGrow is moving rather close to our headquarters so why not allow them the opportunity to pitch their offerings to us and provide them some marketing to their new neighborhood as well. 

For breakfast, we went with the Honeybar. Which is basically a build your own parfait bar. We offered our guest fresh cut fruit (which is what I indulged on) with their choice of toppings (maple yogurt, granola, honey, sunflower seeds, chocolate chips, etc). This  option was received rather well by the attendees and was even noted as fulfilling. 

For our morning break we choose to offer the Kale'atta (kale, bananas, pineapple, and mint) smoothie. With the unwelcoming green color, we had to do some encouraging for taste tests, but once your attendees tried the smoothie, they were hooked. Everyone was asking for more!

Lunch was a choice of lemon miso or red curry stir fry dishes. Again, a huge hit - as many of our guests went back for seconds. 


Lastly, our afternoon snack was a pear and cucumber smoothie. This smoothie was the least favorite of the day, but still people enjoyed it. 

Overall, while I took a risk offering this healthier alternative to our normal every day forum food, the audience seemed grateful for the change and the opportunity to explore. 

HoneyGrow was rather easy to work with and staff was knowledgeable. I will likely consider HoneyGrow for future events. 

07 April 2014

Gluten Free Veggie Burger

07 April 2014 0
As always, I was trying to plan ahead and think of a meal that I could easily travel with for a family affair. Food allergies really do add to pretty much anything you want to do in life and some days I am just plain over it! However, I sucked it up and tried to create something that I could take for a family dinner celebrating my cousin's confirmation.

Thoughts that ran through my mind - the weather was getting nicer and I was sort of craving summer-like food. My aunt would likely make something on the grill to take advantage of the extra "kitchen space" and the nicer weather. I needed something easy to make and not too time consuming as well as something that would travel well.

I decided to try and make my first ever veggie burger without GRAINS!I steamed some cauliflower and sweet potatoes. While waiting for those I grated some carrots, ginger, celery, and garlic. I added some seasonings - pretty much whatever I could find within the house (cumin, pepper, fennel, curry, cinnamon, red pepper, etc.). I mixed in some honey and called it a day. I mashed in the steamed cauliflower and sweet potato. Letting the mixture cool before trying to make patties and then dividing the patties into my to-go ware. fingers are crossed that these burgers work out.

I packed some greens, cilantro, kimchii, hot sauce, mustard, and nori sheets for the burgers to be complete.

The smell was making me a little nervous but I do love nori and my kimchii so I figured they would save me even if the burger wasn't a winner.
I took out a sheet of nori, carefully placed the veggie burger on and then piled up the toppings! The rolling of the wrap was the difficult part, but I made it work.

The taste was much better than the smell and the texture held up just fine! I was actually really grateful to have some of these leftover for the week's lunches! God knows how much I hate getting up an extra 20-30 minutes a day just to make my breakfast and lunch to go!!





01 April 2014

Cozy Thai, State College PA Offers Gluten Free and Vegan Options

01 April 2014 0
This past weekend,  Nick (the boyfriend) and I headed to the middle of the state. While the weather is starting to get a bit more spring-like here in Philadelphia, we dared to head to the cold winter-like, State College, PA.

Good thing we love my little sister - or this trip would have never been worth it! That night, during our 4 hour trek to State College, we could feel the winter weather creeping back in - getting colder and colder every mile we drove.

I was exhausted and ready for bed by the time we got in. I crashed after we made plans to wake up early the next morning and head down town for some exploring.

We started our journey at the Berkey Creamery. I opted to not cheat on the vegan diet - but it did look like the creamery was well aware of a gluten allergy and that they would do their best to accommodate. I just did not find it worth the risk, especially this early on in the trip.

After leaving the creamery, we just walked around downtown - jetting into random stores here and there. Partially to get warm and then partially to just goof off and have fun sightseeing.

All this walking in the wind and rain, worked up an appetite. I began to crave some thick, creamy, curry. Thanks to some great research on my part, I found Cozy Thai Bistro. I found that Cozy Thai was suppose to be able to accommodate gluten free guests rather easily and was top-rated for some of the best, most authentic, Thai in State College, PA.

We arrived at Cozy Thai, just as they were opening. I informed the hostess that I was gluten free and she informed me, no need for a separate menu - as most of the dishes could be modified to be gluten free.

I searched through the menu and after a debate between a noodle dish and curry, I went with the Green Curry and I substituted white rice for some additional steamed vegetables.

We were initially served a house salad with a Thai peanut dressing.

The salad was alright. Nothing special. The salad was clearly a bagged mixed salad and was lacking freshness. The dressing was a bit on the sweet side and the table unanimously did not love it, but we did not hate it either.

The serving was also a bit on the midget size, but maybe that was for the best since we were not loving it.



I selected the Green Curry in hopes for a thick spicy bowl of heaven.

I suppose I should have paid more attention to the fact that this curry dish was made with a light coconut milk - making it a little more watery.

The spiciness was, well, lacking. The dish was bland and not substantial. It was alright, but again, not what I was craving. It left me unsatisfied. Not to mention, my side dish of steamed vegetables was on the skinny-side and almost stone-cold.

In my mind, all I could think was - all these great reviews, did I get the wrong dish or does the food in State College really rate this low on the scale?

Nick of course went with the Pad Thai. Everywhere we go, Nick orders his Pad Thai, comparing them as we go along!

By the looks of the dish, I could already tell you this was not going to be one of Nick's favorite Pad Thai dishes. It was lacking the water chestnuts and it was skim on the crushed peanuts. The look of the dish just did not scream PAD THAI!

Obviously, since I did not eat the dish, I can't critique it, but Nick did say the dish was good. This was not one of his favorite Pad Thai dishes, but he would eat it again and we do appreciate Cozy Thai offering so many gluten free options.


The little sister decided to go with a lunch special.

Cory substituted the white rice for brown rice.

She decided to be a bit adventurous for herself and order the Red Curry. She made note of the pineapple adding a needed acidity to it!

The second part of her lunch special was the Thai-Style Grilled Chicken with a sweet & sour dipping sauce.  Cory did not love the dipping sauce (it contained cilantro) but she did seem to enjoy the remainder of her lunch special.

Over all, we appreciate that Cozy Thai Bistro is able to accommodate those of us that are gluten free and vegan. Perhaps next time I will select a noodle dish for a more satisfying and filling dish...



18 March 2014

Crocodile Catering Accommodating for Gluten Free Vegan

18 March 2014 0
I am a woman. I am a career woman. I am a goal-driven career woman. I want to continue to grow and work my way to the top. I truly believe that with a strong dedication, plenty of hard work, and a good support system, that this goal will one day become reality.

In the meantime, I am networking and learning as much as I possibly can. That's right ladies, I said networking - which should be an ongoing duty in our daily careers. Networking is not only good for ourselves, but for the organization as a whole. Assuming you are representing your company in a professional manner, it is additional publicity for the organization. Not to mention, the connections you make typically become connections available to your organization. Recently, my organization's women's business resource group decided to join the Global Women's Leadership Forum. 

For me, this is so meaningful! The company has chosen to promote women in the workforce and supports additional, outside, resources to Empower, Engage, and Educate women. 

I have taken a leadership role in our membership / engagement with the Global Women's Leadership Forum. Part of my duties included providing an on-site lunch for the team. Let's be real, I have no idea what "normal" people eat these days. I typically look at my coworkers lunches and want to be sick.
It's greasy.
It's fried. 
It's fat-lathered.

It's nothing that I have interest in. With that being said, having to order for a group of ten, one vegan, and one gluten free vegan (myself), where was I going to order a meal that would deliver and was a reasonable price?

I called around, I actually called around to way too many places and wasted a good bit of my time. Either the catering company was too expensive or they could not accommodate all of our food preferences / allergies. 

I came to my last resort, Crocodile Catering. Our company actually uses Crocodile Catering often, but in review of their rather heavy gluten-filled menu items, I was wearying of their abilities to accommodate. At this point, I figured I would just pack my own lunch and bring it to the meeting, at least the rest of the group would have nice lunch. 

I called Crocodile Catering and legit said, "I used to be great at this.... Actually it was my job, but a few years out and having changed my eating habits, I am at a loss and am unsure what to order and how much". The Crocodile representative, with an almost annoying passion (was not yet sure if it was a true passion or a memorized line) said, "Great! We here at Crocodile Catering are here for you . We will help you plan for the perfect event."

I went into my speech of what time the event was and what is for....blah blah blah. The Crocodile representative started with selections for the food allergies. I was up first, we decided on a salad with fresh vegetables and a house-made Pico De Gallo. Up next was the vegan. Easy fix, we went with the vegan wrap. Now, the hard job, what to get for a long lunch meeting for a group of 10 women? Why not mix both a cold and a warm offering?

Perfect. A sandwich tray, a healthy salad, beverages, chips for those that want the munchies, and the soup of the dail - which was a vegan and gluten free tomato basil soup!!! 

The Crocodile informed me that ingredients were fresh, as local as could be, and seasonal. Most menu items are made in-house, which makes it easier for them to accommodate food allergies and food preferences. The representative I was speaking with, assured me that she would personally make sure my dish would not be cross-contaminated and that it would be a satisfying meal. We left our conversation at that and I crossed my fingers for a successful meeting.

The meeting was in progress as the Crocodile Catering team  professionally setup for our lunch. Once everything was all said and done, we walked over to our lunch station and I could see an adorable bag all bundled up with my name on it and the vegan wrap clearly labeled and to the side. I grabbed a spoonful of soup before anyone else did, on the chance it might become cross-contaminated.

Not really sure what to expect, I opened my bundle. I had my own hand sanitizing wipe, sealed silverware, an apple, a bag of chips, a small fruit salad (aka dessert) and my main salad with the Pico De Gallo. 

First I tried the tomato basil soup. Ah! This couldn't have been on a better day! As I am fighting a nasty sinus infection, so it was soothing to my throat. The taste was full of flavor and clearly freshly made.

I am always amazed at what people can do with fresh vegetables. The plating, for a picnic-style entree was adorable and again, ingredients were clearly fresh and flavorful! The remainder of the group was a bit jealous of my dish. 

The entire group was left satisfied with the food offerings.

Thanks Crocodile! Now I know, moving forward, I too can participate in business lunches! I also know that you really do love your job at Crocodile Catering and that you really can take care of all the hard parts for me!



17 March 2014

Making Fermented Vegetables Just Got Easier

17 March 2014 0
I typically ferment my vegetables using miso. However, I ran out and I did not have time to get some more before wanting to make more fermented cabbage. You know the problem, you really want to get this task off of your to-do list but you really do not want to have to run to the store for this single item. I personally, run into the store for a single item, and more often then not come back with a pile of crap I did not need. 
In avoidance of the grocery store today, I found one last jar of homemade kimchi in the back of the fridge. I prepared my vegetables as I normally would - cutting them into small pieces and then I dumped all the remaining liquid from the current kimchi into my blender. I added some additional seasonings and water. 

That was it! I dumped that mixture over the vegetables. Let the mixture sit for a good 30 minutes and then stuffed them into their jars, capping them with a couple outer leaves from the cabbage. In 5 days we will see how well or not so well this idea of mine, or some may call, laziness, turns out. 

 

14 March 2014

Trying to Heal Through Soup

14 March 2014 0
I have come a long way since my food allergies where diagnosed - but I still struggle with digestion. In an effort to begin to heal, I have decided to focus on a good bit of smoothies and soups.

I get tired of the same-old-same old so I figured I would try and use my basic stock and add whatever I had in the fridge.

Recipe is as follows:
-Fresh grated ginger
-Fresh chopped garlic
-Leeks
-Water
-Ground Pepper
-Lemon Thyme
-Rosemary
-Brussel Sprouts

I put everything into one pot and let it come to a boil. Once it boiled I reduced the heat to low and let it simmer.

13 March 2014

Taproom on 19th Gluten Free & Vegan Availability

13 March 2014 0
Having read an article that the Taproom on 19th would be celebrating every Monday in March with half-off their Taproom Burger - I figured I owed my partner-in-crime from the Vedge outing, a good manly-meal.



I quickly did an internet search for the Taproom on 19th and their burgers looked amazing! The real question, can they accommodate someone that is gluten free and vegan? I saw a couple of vegan options on the menu, but could that be adapted to also meet my gluten free needs?

While Taproom on 19th does not have an actual website, they do have a pretty up to date Facebook page, so I figured, heck, why not try and send a quick FB message?! One of the owners was very quick to respond and was eager to inform me they most definitely could accommodate my needs and that they would be more than willing to create an off-menu item if given an advance 24-hour notice.

It being a burger place, I was a bit skeptical but did request they make a large plate of steamed veggies - thinking how much more safe can I get? Steaming vegetables would reduce any risk of cross-contamination.

When we arrived late on a Monday evening, the owner was there. The bartender was aware that I was coming in and that I had a number of food allergies and that they were to make an off-menu veggie platter for me. My guest quickly dove into the menu and selected the cheese curds and the Taproom burger.

The staff was efficient in taking our order and rather quickly returned with the ordered appetizer.

Having never tried cheese curds before, my guest went through these pretty fast! The sauce was the perfect consistency and full of flavor.

This is something to be ordered again! Crispy outside, cheesy inside!




Not too much longer and our main dishes were served.

The burger was ordered with bacon, America cheese, and an egg.

The burger had that nice grilled char on the outside, but was still a medium-rare inside. Again, one of my biggest pet peeves is an overcooked piece of meat. When eating out, a number of establishments choose to purposefully overcook meat, just to weigh on the cautionary side of things. Taproom on 19th - when you order medium rare, it is pretty darn close to medium rare!

My guest typically likes food to be "simple" (few ingredients and not too many flavors all in one dish). However, with this dish, he loved the the complex flavors and various textures between the sauce, the runny egg, and the crunchy bacon.

My steamed vegetables came out looking very enticing! Vegetables were cooked to perfection - still holding their crunch yet warmed all the way through!

Thank you Taproom for going out of your way to create a safe gluten free and vegan option for me.

I must say, now that I have been to the establishment, I can see that you are well educated on food allergies and can accommodate more than just the steamed vegetables. I am looking forward to returning to try the roasted brussel sprout salad!

I have already begun to encourage everyone I know to visit Taproom on 19th. If you can, get there on a Monday in March to take advantage of their half-off burger deal! Or, better yet, their brunch menu looks very appealing!





11 March 2014

Vedge, Philadelphia, PA does Gluten Free

11 March 2014 0

Since my move here to the Philadelphia area, about three years ago, I have literally been dying to try Vedge and what it offers to its gluten free patrons. The problem was finding someone to go with me. My family and friends either heard the word "vegan", "city" or maybe it was the expense, but either way, no one wanted to explore this so-called "gem" with me.

There is really no need to even bother going through the number of awards Vedge has earned. Therefore, skipping over all the halla-bullo, I finally found a partner in crime to at least entertain the menu for the night. 

Upon arrival, the hostess was pre-educated about my gluten allergy and kindly asked if both guests wanted to refrain from gluten or just myself. I was actually caught off-guard, I had never had anyone even consider that I might not be the only one choosing to be gluten free. As we were escorted to our table, the interior of the restaurant appeared to expand right before our eyes. What a gorgeous establishment- hardwood floors, high ceilings, and massive windows! 

We were seated in the corner, which I actually preferred - right next to the full sized fireplace. What a lovely evening this was shaping up to be. 

I asked the waitress for her recommendations on dishes and pretty much closed my eyes and went in blinded. We started with the smoked carrots. 

First of, presentation is impeccable! I almost did not recognize the carrots. I actually initially thought they were beef jerky, thinking to myself, "wait, is this not a vegan restaurant?" The carrots were situated right on top of a white bean purée mixed with sauerkraut.

Delicious! The carrots were cooked to perfection and the white bean purée was creamy and luscious! I would say this was unanimously the favorite dish of the evening. 

Next, the chef sent out a roasted Brussel Sprout and spicy mustard dish.

Intense! The smoked sprouts - again cooked to perfection and the mustard sauce was pungent! 


Moving to our first warm dish of the evening...the eggplant braciole with salsa verde. 


Eggplant being on of my favorite foods, I was a tad disappointed in the dish, it was lacking real flavor. To me, the dish was bland and a bit on the mushy side. 

The next dish was ordered only because of the number of online reviews and recommendations stating the best dish of the entire menu would have to be the fingerling potatoes.

These little potatoes turned out to be my guest's (a non vegan) favorite dish of the evening.  I personally, typically prefer sweet potatoes over the basic potato, but I must say these guys were crispy and delicious. I won't lie - I went back for seconds.

One of the last dishes we tried was really the experimental dish of the night. I was trying hearts of the palm for, what memory serves me, to be the first time. 

The hearts of palm was resting on top of a saffron sunchoke purée. This dish was not a fan favorite. The taste I got from the dish was more like a burnt taste than a satisfying taste. 


Onto the salt-roasted golden beets. This dish tasted nothing like it's component ingredients,  but rather, it reminded me of my mother's tuna salad. I liked this dish, but I did not love it. 

 

The last dish of the evening was the most disappointing. The dirt list for the evening included a spicy sweet potatoes (as mentioned above, my favorite). I was expecting a spicy dish, especially since the staff warned us it would have a kick to it and instead, I found the sweet potatoes to be a bit on the sweeter side of things.


By the end of theses dishes, I was feeling dissatisfied and opted out of experimenting with the dessert menu. 


Will I return to Vedge? Perhaps, because I'm just not sure how I was left so unsatisfied but everyone else raves about this place. Personally, I think I could have made it better, and in fact have made better dishes that are less costly in my own kitchen. Sorry Vedge, you have not lived up to my expectations. My heart has not been won over and I will not be adding Vedge to one of my go-to-places. 
 
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