20 January 2015

Homemade Almond Butter Made In A Vitamix

20 January 2015 0
Every time I go into a store and pickup a nut/seed butter and begin to read all the added ingredients, I grow sick.

Those that are pure nut/seed butters can cost you an arm-and-a-leg - which is worth it, as you do get what you pay for.

Rather than purchase overly-processed store bought items, I try to make as much as I can at home. This is where my homemade almond butter journey begins.

I first started this journey with a hunt to find almonds in bulk.

 Check. Almonds, in shell, purchased at a local farmers market and at a decent price.

Now, to crack open all these almonds.....

Check. The family pitched in and we made it a nice bonding experience. There was only one nut cracker causality. :(

Now, this is where the process gets fun. I took my Vitamix, dumped in all of my almonds, and turned the Vitamix on full-blast. I let it run for a couple seconds, using the tamper to push the nuts down and then I added a touch of honey and cinnamon. I continued to let the Vitamix blend for an additional minute and then I scooped out the fresh almond butter and added it to my oatmeal! YUM!!!

06 January 2015

Finding ones self

06 January 2015 0

05 January 2015

Han Dynasty is a gluten free safe heaven!!

05 January 2015 0
I have been wanting to try the hyped-up Han Dynasty for some time now and I found the perfect opportunity, New Year's Eve.

I had my twin and younger sister coming in with their significant others and we already determined that we would be enjoying the 2015 countdown to some salsa dancing at Cuba Libre  I didn't feel like forking out a $100+ just to enjoy a New Year's dinner and I didn't want to be too far from Cuba Libre - so I went with good-old reliable Han Dynasty. I made my reservation for 6 rather easily and we found front row parking as well!

Even though the restaurant was busy (which is expected for New Year's Eve), we were seated on time and waited on with attention and care. There was not one moment where we felt rushed.

Now, because I was eating with a group and we decided we wanted to try a little bit of everything, I had to go non-vegan this night... but honestly, it was worth it and some of my favorite dishes were the fish and meat ones.

Note, their tasting menu (typically for a party of 8 or more) can be ordered from a price range of $20-30. We choose to go with the $25.00 price range and get the mid-range quality of meats and fish.

The dinner started with the famous spicy cucumbers. The first bite was not too overwhelmingly spicy, but as you continue to nibble on these little guys, you do get the pockets of heat!

The cucumbers actually ended up on pretty much everyone's favorite list, but no worries, there was no need to fight over them, as we were given two huge portions to share with the group!

Next we started getting an array of dishes and to be honest, I have to guess on what was which menu item, as I found myself at one point in time ignoring the server and just drooling over the dishes!

We tried the Beef and Tripe in Chili Oil - not a huge table favorite. The girls did not care for it and two out of the three boys enjoyed it, but never marked it as one of their favorites.

I was a little afraid that being gluten free and requesting an entire tasting menu be gluten free, that we would miss out on the famous noodle dishes, but Han did not fail me - we were brought the Dan Dan noodles modified with rice noodles and pork tidbits on the side so that I could enjoy the gluten free Dan Dan noodles.

Our tables was given two jumbo bowls of Dan Dan noodles and there was almost a fight over who got to finish them, the fight was settled by the fact that some of the participants had filled up on everything else, that there was just not enough room to enjoy anymore food.

The Dan Dan noodles are full or flavor with a bit of heat. The heat rating is a 6 and that is probably accurate.. because some bites are a bit more spicier than others.

We had the Dry Pot Style Chicken, with a heat rating of 10. I did not agree that this was our spiciest dish, but it was enjoyed! It was a sweet spicy!

Next we tried the Chicken as a Dry Pepper Style. This dish had a heat rating of 8. It was good and flavor was decent, but the table agreed, there was too many dry peppers - we either wanted them to remove some of the peppers or crush them up more so you were not biting into mouthfuls of dry peppers.

Additionally we had the Cumin Style Chicken with a heat rating of 7. Funny enough, I found this to be one of the more spicier dishes. So maybe the heat ratings are just guidelines? Or perhaps the waiter was being kind to our participants that couldn't handle the heat. I on the other hand, I welcome to heat! I love when you bite into something and the spice level makes you teary-eyed.

We enjoyed some sort of Lamb dish, it was suppose to be the spiciest but we found other dishes to have a heavier spice level. This was 2 out of the 6 guests favorite...I wish I could remember which dish it was!!

For the fish dishes we enjoyed a Salt and Pepper Style Shrimp with a heat rating of  1. While this dish did not pack a punch, for some it was too spicy, but for the majority of the table, it was listed as one of the favorites and did not make it to the leftovers bag.  We had the Hot Sauce Style Fish, with a heat rating of 7. This one, I am pretty sure this was on everyone's favorite list!

Lastly we had a side of white rice, cooked to perfection and a great combat for the heat as well as the green beans. I didn't LOVE the green beans but the remainder of the table enjoyed them!

The night was enjoyed and everyone walked away satisfied and planning their next visit!

Thanks HAN!! I am looking forward to coming back and trying a 100% gluten free and VEGAN dinner!

04 January 2015

Raw Can Roll, Wayne PA Adding Cooked Foods

04 January 2015 0
I have been to Raw Can Roll a handful of times - but this time I went to see what all the new buzz was about - that's right, the RAW, vegan restaurant has added cooked meals to their menu. We all know their raw food is good, but can the raw foodists cook?

We started with the famous hummus and guacamole. The hummus is always enjoyable - smooth and filling - I just wish they would offer flavor varieties (maybe roasted red pepper, I mean, just a suggestion... wink, wink.).

The guacamole, was fresh as always and full of flavor. Nick never cares for guacamole and the good sport that he is, he gave it a try and said...well, it is fresh and it is one of the better guacamole dishes I have had. This might not seem like it, but this is a true compliment for Raw Can Roll.

You can see Nick had some fun with his food and started to create "sandwiches" with the raw crackers and hummus.

For our cooked dishes, Nick went with the BBQ Bowl. He really enjoyed everything about this dish - NOTE THIS IS COMING FOR A PICKY MEAT EATER! Additionally, he noted that the portion sizes are large, filling, and fresh. The only complaints from this food-critic is that there was not enough of the BBQ sauce and he, remind you is a picky eater, does not care for sweet potatoes.

I went with the Macrobiotic bowl - What called me to this dish? Without a doubt, the sweet potatoes and seaweed. First bite in, I could taste the coconut oil on the sweet potatoes, the rice was cooked to perfection - but I felt like the dish was lacking the flavor I had hoped for. Maybe we need a hot-sauce and tahnini dressing for this dish?! Furthermore, I was a bit disappointed that the seaweed was more of an accent piece than actually incorporated into the dish. All in all, the dish was not bad - I did finish my plate - I just don't think I would order it again...

For our juice portion, because let's be real, you can't go into Raw Can Roll and not get a juice or smoothie! Nick choose the Tutti Fruitti (Strawberry, Banana, and Apple juice) - which he quickly became in love with. I am pretty sure, I would be safe to say that the Tutti Frutti was Nick's favorite part of the meal.

I asked to try the most popular shake, the Peanut Butter Cup. I have to say, it was filling and delicious! Maybe too filling to try after the appetizer and the full meal - but heck, you only live once!

My recap of Raw Can Roll is as follows - their juices and smoothies are great! A little expensive, but let me remind you this food is local, fresh, and made to order! The price is worth it!

The raw food is good - I mean obviously, because they seem to have a strong clientele. The cooked food, I would like to see them expand on the options and have a bit more sauce and flavor to their dishes. BUT if you are that person that typically likes their food a bit more on the mild side, then Raw Can Roll has you covered!



29 October 2014

Gluten Free & Vegan Pumpkin Soup

29 October 2014 0
With fall approaching very quickly, my love for soup is shinning ever-so-brightly.

While I debated stealing my decorative pumpkins, I figured it well worth the cause to make some homemade vegan and gluten free pumpkin soup.

This recipe is one of my simplest recipes yet!

  • Roasted Pumpkin
  • Vegetable Broth
  • Roasted Onion
  • Garlic
  • Tumeric
  • Cumin
  • Cayenne Pepper
Simply place everything in the Vitamix, turn it on high and let it do all the work for you!

This recipe provides a very filling and creamy treat! You could try and add some nut butter or almond milk for a more diverse taste!

20 October 2014

Addiction to Banana Whips

20 October 2014 0
I'm beginning to adopt an unhealthy addiction to Banana Whips! I just tell myself that everyone deserves a treat now-and-then and banana whips are mine! Listen, I could be addicted to worse things...

 This particular recipe is two frozen bananas, a handful of frozen cranberries, a handful of frozen blueberries, one overripe banana, and some cinnamon -oh and can't forget the carob powder!

I literally just toss all of these ingredients into my beloved Vitamix and smash everything into a nice ice cream consistency and then wallah!

Despite the weather starting to get a bit chilly - I still find myself craving this treat on a daily basis!

03 September 2014

Le Virtu, Gluten Free Italian

03 September 2014 0
The boyfriend and I decided we could use a nice night out on the town to celebrate our 1-year anniversary.

I went through my hand-dandy list of gluten free restaurants that I would like to try. I had a hard time picking just what I wanted. A couple of the locations I was hopeful for had decided to close an extra day for the Labor Day Holiday.

For some reason or another, I knew I was craving some good old-fashioned Italian pasta. It had to have been a good year or so since I have had some authentic Italian food, and being 50% Italian, it was imperative that I correct this as soon as possible. I had already been to Giorgio's so I decided to try something new. Le Virtu has been getting a lot of attention recently, so I decided why not see what all the hype was about.

We arrived much earlier into the city than we had anticipated - you really can't time traffic! Thankfully, Le Virtu was able to accommodate and take us in early with no problem at all. As we walked into the restaurant I wanted to desperately sit outside, but Nick pleaded that it was still 90 degrees at 6:30 at night. He won the battle and we sat inside in the cozy, somewhat romantic dinning area.

The hostess provided us with some menus and when the server arrived, I quickly notified him of my allergies. The server was great throughout the entire night, constantly remembering the gluten allergy and making every accommodation possible.

Nick and I decided to share the Lamb Skewers with the Mint Pesto - which we really couldn't decided between that and the lamb sausage but with the waiters recommendation, which I always enjoy getting, we went with the skewers.

I found the skewers to have a bit too much fat on them and the pesto was lacking that "BAM" basil pesto flavor. I did use the decorative lemon to flavor the meat. Would I get again, probably not - but they were not horrible.

Next up, I couldn't decided between two dishes so I order both in an appetizer portion. While the portions where not much smaller than Nick's full size portion, my price was pretty much full price - so I should have just selected one item and enjoyed it. Oh well, this way I got to try even more!

I went with the lamb shoulder ragu - because of classic Italian red sauce and I do LOVE lamb! To be honest, the dish was okay, the pasta was cooked al-dente so win-win there. The sauce was a bit on the sweeter side and the meat was a bit dry.

The more enjoyed dish of the evening was the house-made sausage and truffle sauce. This dish was so creamy and flavorful - I could have ate it all night long! I promised Nick that I would save him a bite of each to try and I had a hard time saving some for him - whoops!

Nick ordered the hand-pulled pasta with extra virgin olive oil and pecorino. I was surprised that he actually enjoyed it. He did comment on how small the portion size was for the price - but the pasta was home-made.

All-in-all, the night was enjoyed. The food was okay, the service was great would we go back? Yes, but it is not on our "favorites" list.

Much appreciated that Le Virtu does offer gluten free pasta to their guests!

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.


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

- 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

- 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...

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