Mellow Minded Cafe, Linglestown, PA

As I am still finding my "home" back in central PA, I signed myself and my twin sister, up for a holistic wellness dinner hosted by Mellow Minded Café. I had never been to the venue, but you know how I am – a bit apprehensive about eating out unless needed. The food is usually not Nicole-Friendly, it's costly and typically flavorless. But I do need to get out and assimilated with resources in the area. My sister and her husband have actually encouraged my attendance at mellow Minded Café before, but I just couldn't be bothered to deal with the necessary steps I take to ensure a safe meal.
My first impression was directed towards space itself. The big plus for having parking available! The second plus for having successfully created a warm, yet hip space. You will find modern art displayed throughout the space, a large chalkboard wall menu, metal stools, and a couple family-style tables set up as well.
Prior to attending, I spoke with Amanda on my needs (gluten-free, …

Review: The Vegetable Hunter, Harrisburg, PA

The former Crave & Co. now known as The Vegetable Hunter, offers vegetarian and vegan fare to our capital area. This is amazing because the Harrisburg food scene is expanding but still not even close to the “Philly” scene and the vegan options are rather limited (although doable).

We (the locals) need to continue to encourage local restaurants to embrace funky cool menus, seasonal dishes, and vegan and gluten-free options. And why wouldn’t we?  The area boasts a good bit of visitors to our capital building and there are plenty of individuals working right in the downtown area that would favor good food.

The Vegetable Hunter is, as far as I can tell, the only 100% vegetarian restaurant in the Harrisburg restaurant row. Might I also add, they have kombucha flights available and oh... if a brewery is your thing, they’ve got you covered.

Okay, so I discover the only vegetarian establishment in the area- how well can they accommodate “Nicole”?

Like always, I called the restaurant direc…

Moong Dal Savory Casserole (Gluten-Free & Vegan)

Back when I started my Ayurvedic journey, it was recommended I begin eating Moong dal. It was noted I could use it in Kitchari, porridge’s, I’m replace of rice, oats, etc. I did find it available for purcHae at my local indian grocery store and from there, started to explore ways in which to cook to my liking.

Since I have been on a rice cooker frenzy, why not give it a try? I like my Moong Dal to be on the creamy side so I added a boatload of water- when all said and done, probably a 1cup to 20cup liquid ratio.

I added simple spices (turmeric, ginger and garlic) and allowed almos a full 24-hours to cook.

When complete, I added in some stewed eggplant, onions and mushrooms and then topped with fresh cilantro and a bit of hot sauce.

Simple meals, meals that nourish, dishes that appeal to my senses.


Sri Lankan Milk Rice & Onion Sambol (Gluten-Free and Vegan)

When traveling through Sri Lanka, it was actually rare to find milk rice out and about with the locals. Mainly because it is a recipe used typically for holidays rather than an every morning treat.

However, being gluten-free and loving carbs, I was on a hunt for this delicacy and found a couple spots that would cater to my requests.  Boy am I spoiled!

I enjoyed eating milk rice with either the Sri Lankan tiny-bananas and fresh local honey or with a spicy Sambol. I can't say I had a preference, as we all know I love honey and bananas but also enjoy a bit of spice to my food as well.

Upon returning home, I knew I would have to research a quick recipe and enjoy this dish more often at home, share with those I love, and dream about it at night (okay, that might be taking it a bit far, but you get my drift).

I did a little research and found a recipe that seemed to encompass most of my research.

Milk Rice:
- 2 Cups rinsed (and not precooked)
- 1 Can Full Fat Coconut Milk
- 4 1/2 Cups W…

Harrisburg, PA Gluten-Free and Vegan Finds

The new job has been requiring a good bit of eating out, or catered in, lunches and I had to not only become very comfortable with expressing my eating habits with others and enhancing my ability to convey my needs with those preparing, but I also needed to find some go-to safe spots and ASAP.

Vrai, Leymone, PA - known as the true food kitchen has been on my radar for some time, so when a coworker suggested lunch, I was all for it. I was fortunate enough to have some advance notice to be able to pre-call the restaurant and discuss my needs.

Vrai was amazing and more than willing to make something off-menu to accommodate. After reviewing their menu, together, we came up with a Moroccan sauce over zoodles with steamed vegetables and a Thai slaw on the side.

It was heavenly! The presentation was elegant and my tummy didn’t hate me!

Cafe Fresco, Harrisburg, PA  did a catered lunch for us and because I was lucky enough to have time to prep for this meal. I reached out to the head day chef an…

Frankie V’s, Gluten-Free & Vegan Award Winning Hot Sauces

My addiction to hot sauce never seems to end and when I stumbled across Frankie V’s gluten-free, vegan, organic, and locally sourced (Texas area) hot sauces, my inner child started jumping for joy. Probably in comparison to how “normal” inner-children feel while in candy stores.

For me, I take excitement in searching for “healthy” (no added preservatives, sugar, oils, and garbage) hot sauce or even marinades.

And what are the odds that I would find a gluten-free and vegan option?

Frankie V’s is located in the Texas area - offering soups, dressings/condiments, salsas, spreads, hot sauces and gift baskets.

I had the honor of trying the mentioned hot sauces below. At this point,  I’m ready to further investigate their other product lines because OH MY YUMMINESS!

Orange Label Habanero
Jalapeño Lime
Creamy Ghost
Spooky White
Creamy Hatch

I really enjoyed the creamy sauces because it is a rarity to find one that meets “Nicole” standards.

And Frankie V does a great job offering a flav…

Grateful Plate Philly, Special Giveaway!

Winter brings with it, shorter days, colder nights, and the need to adjust our eating habits.

For example, it is very difficult for our bodies to digest cold salads during the winter months. Instead, try making hearty grain salads with warming spices (turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger...).
While the Ayurvedic winter guide provides a number of suggestions and “rules” for winter eating, it really breaks down into this, eat seasonally. Eat mindfully. Eat a variety of colors and textures. 
And what better way to reset your body than to order from Grateful Plate Philly Meal Delivery
I know, it’s odd for me to promote a company to make your meals for you, BUT I truly love and believe in what Grateful Plate is doing. 1) Our lives are jammed packed and it’s hard enough to find “you” time, let alone always prepare fresh with-love meals. 2) Grateful Plate provides seasonal dishes. 3) They cater to allergies as best as they can. 4) It delivers right to your door in preportioned microwave-fr…

Rice Congee (porridge) Gluten-Free & Vegan

Javentri Spice. The one and only spice that while in Sri Lanka, our Ayurvedic cooking instructor was unable to translate into its English meaning.He tried different pronunciations and I tried to Google Search as best as I could and still no luck.
I had no idea what was going into my freshly ground tea but I had been educated on its renowned health benefits.
A recent trip to my local Indian Market, I found myself in a discussion (about Sri Lanka cuisine) with one of the owners and long story short, showed him a quick photo of the spice I had been in search of and it just so happens that he knew exactly what it was and had it in stock. Which, apparently is a rarity as it is considered a specialty spice.
I, of course, purchased it without reservations. I got home and started researching some more. Javentri or "javitri" or Mace (the whole form) has a number of health benefits for us.
What I found is that Javentri is the outer covering of a nutmeg. Benefits range from: -Keepin…

Gluten-Free & Vegan in the Least Likely Places

I found myself at a work related lunch with ZERO control of where we would be eating. 

We walking into The Federal Taphouse and the lunch menu largely consisted of pizza and sandwhich options, instead of either freaking out, refusing to eat, or hiding my eating needs / preferences, I waited for the waitress to come around. Once she asked if our table had any questions, I jumped in, "Could you help me navigate your menu, as I am both gluten-free and vegan?". To my surprise, she had a quick reply. They would be happy to modify some of the salads (remove crutons and cheese) or create a gluten-free vegan pizza, sanscheese. 

Lesson of the day, never be ashamed of who you are. Embrace your imperfections, your beauty. Allow others to know the genuine you.

Not really sure what I was feeling, I asked the waitress to surprise me, bring out anything that is both gluten-free and vegan please. A couple minutes later, I was served a beautiful kale and beet salad that they are currently testi…

Gift Ideas

I was fortunate this year that I was given an abundance of wonderful and very thoughtful gifts.

I really didn't ask for much, actually, I asked for one nice black cardigan to wear to my new job, but I found myself gifted a number of life-long cherishing pieces.

Talk to Animals made a powerful blue lace agate necklace that was gifted to me.

As the crow flies is another terrific necklace that I treasure. I have one other of their works (also gifted to me by my sister) and I have always gone back and admired their pieces, just never seemed to have the extra money for myself - so this particular gift was very near and dear to my heart! If you are not yet familiar with As the crow flies, check them out. They repurpose old ceramics into stunning pieces of jewlery.

Lastly, I received an inspirational bracelet that will forever remind me to "have faith", made by If only pretty shop.

“Trust the wait. Embrace the uncertainty. Enjoy the beauty of becoming. When nothing is certain, ev…