V(egan)B Spoiled

Greetings! I hope a delectable weekend was had by all, and your week of classes (college students out there) or work (the sad working folk…jk) starts splendidly.

I just returned earlier this evening from an extended weekend trip to the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area to firstly, drop off my brother for his freshman year of college, and secondly, to visit my good friend Melanie, a native to the area.

Melanie and I have been attempting to coordinate for what seems like the entire summer for my visit to her neck of the woods. Being the overachiever that she is, she had our weekend planned to a tee. She had been researching all the best vegan spots in the area all along to ensure I had the best vegan-fied Virginia Beach experience. Everyone I would excitedly tell about my planned VB trip and the vegan adventures it would probably entail would naturally ask if Melanie was vegan too. My response: Nope. She’s just a really good friend that cares a lot. 🙂 These are the type of people you want to keep around, folks.

My family and I left Thursday morning for Norfolk and headed straight to my brother’s university.

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The little bro is all grown-up in his dorm room!

We moved him in Thursday evening, finished settling him in Friday during the day, and I met up with Melanie Friday night for dinner and the start of our V(egan)B weekend together.

Friday night’s dinner was at Luna Maya, an AMAZING very vegan friendly Mexican restaurant in Norfolk right off Colley Ave., the street of restaurants.

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Yes, Mexican restaurants are usually pretty easy to order a vegan meal, but this place sets itself above the rest. It offered vegan quesadillas, multiple vegan burritos, vegan enchiladas, etc. We ended up ordering their chips, guac and mojitos to start, as we heard rave reviews on both. After a highly difficult decision, I chose the vegan enchiladas as my entree. Everything was to die for (but cruelty free of course!). Luna Maya is hands down one of the best Mexican restaurants I have ever been to, and that’s saying a lot coming from this Mexican lover.

The next amazing meal of my trip was Saturday’s breakfast, spread out through out the morning. Our first stop was Bad Ass Coffee, a Hawaiian themed coffee shop right next to the Old Beach Farmer’s Market, a favorite of Melanie’s and equipped with vegan, gluten-free, and paleo goodies galore. I ended up getting an almond milk iced latte. Amazing.

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We then made our way over to the farmer’s market, and discovered My Vegan Sweet Tooth. This is an all vegan bakery that began online by two sisters local to the area. My Vegan Sweet Tooth has everything from cookies to cakes to donuts to sweet breads and any other bakery good you could imagine. They have recently expanded to a store front, but are still consistent farmers market vendors. Although I’m usually not one to be about high fat, high sugar foods, Melanie highly encouraged I splurge on this treat weekend. I picked up some of their Apple Cider Donut Holes, and they were highly enjoyed by myself and all who I shared with.

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One of the sisters, Renee, manning the booth was extremely helpful as we asked for suggestions on other vegan places in the area to go, perhaps even for dinner that night. She gave us an array of options, and ones that Melanie somehow didn’t even seem to catch on the internet during her time of intense researching. It’s undoubtedly refreshing to meet other vegans. It just makes my heart happy.

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Next on our morning breakfast time venture, we headed to Zekes Beans & Bowls.

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This place is a local favorite, known for their acai bowls. Melanie is well aware of my obsession with smoothie bowls, and how they serve as my latest and greatest breakfast staple, so she figured this spot was ideal. She was very right. We both got the PB&J bowl fixed with whatever toppings we liked. The base is acai, banana and soy milk, and my toppings consisted of coconut, almonds, and granola. Melanie also added strawberry and banana.

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After our tummies were stuffed with deliciousness, our next venture of the day was the beach! We crossed the street from Melanie’s big girl apartment complex to Chick’s Beach, a rather low-key, local beach area. It was a bit overcast, but we still enjoyed our time in the sun, sand and waves. It’s so crazy to me still that this is Melanie’s normal. I always associate beach with vacation, but I love the switch up of lifestyle there. The way of living is a lot more laid-back, slower-paced and seemingly overall happier. The D.C. area peeps could take some pointers from the Virginia Beach residents.

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Next on the agenda was Saturday evening dinner. After taking into consideration Renee’s vegan suggestions, we headed to Yard House. YH is apparently a chain, and may even be in the Northern VA area (have not met with my good friend Google quite yet). Regardless, it was fabulous! We were drawn to this place because of their Gardein menu.

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Like I’ved mentioned on many occasions, I’m not really one to base my diet around processed faux or high fat vegan foods in general, as health is my #1 priority. BUT every once in a while I think its okay to splurge and try something new. I had never actually had vegan chicken before, so this was my chance! Melanie and I split vegan firecracker chicken wings. Is she not the best? I then ordered a vegan chicken rice bowl for my entree. SO much food.

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I haven’t had actual chicken/any meat in over two years, so to me, this tasted pretty darn close. Melanie agreed it was very tasty. Gardein chicken is definitely not something I plan on adding to my diet, but I’m happy I got the chance to try it. It’s so fun to experiment with all the vegan foods out there. There really is a vegan parallel to any non-vegan food. There’s no saying it’s good for you, but definitely a lesser evil than the animal-based version.

Our last vegan foodie stop of the trip was Sunday morning’s breakfast. This is the meal I had been anticipating the most all weekend — Yorgo’s Bageldashery.

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This Norfolk based New York style bagelry is well-known for their abundant vegan options. There were vegan breakfast sandwiches, all other vegan sandwiches, daiya cheeses, non-dairy milks and vegan baked goods galore. After another painstakingly difficult decision, I decided on The Peterman breakfast sandwich.

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Wow. Never would I have thought I would be eating a breakfast item so closely resembling non-vegan breakfast staples of my past with such impeccable flavor and consistency. I enjoyed it with a delicious soy latte. I was a VERY happy camper.

After our breakfast, Melanie and I met up with my parents, who had been staying in a hotel in Virginia Beach as a little mini vacation. Before my parents and I (minus the little bro…tear, tear) began our trek back to Northern VA, I had to take them back to Zekes! My mom and I got acai bowls and my dad got their famous watermelon juice and a greek pita sandwich.

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All were left quite satisfied. Thank goodness too, because our road trip back was much less fulfilling. Our 3.5 hour trip turned into a 7 hour adventure. Thank you 64 and 95 traffic!

All in all, this weekend was totally vegan-mazing. Big shout out to my fabulous friend Melanie, the self acclaimed Vegan Whisperer ;). She says she “did it for the blog post,” but I think that secretly that big heart of hers wants to go vegan. Only time will tell (mwahaha?)!

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Chow for now.

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All Around the World: Vegan Style

Happy Monday, everyone!

I was recently asked in an interview what type of food my home town area is known for. So for those of you from Northern Virginia/Washington D.C. metro area, what would you say?

If you said global cuisine, then I think you’re spot on. Having grown up in an area so culturally diverse, smack dab in the nation’s capital, I never actually realized how fortunate I am to have this exposure until I moved elsewhere (thanks college!).

With the booming Northern VA population boasting nationalities from quite literally all over the world, you better believe the international cuisine in our area is pretty darn authentic.

I am constantly inspired to incorporate different spices and types of food into my own dishes. Whether it be from dining out at local Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, African, Mediterranean, South American, and so on restaurants, or being hosted at the homes of my friends, I always seem to find something new and exciting to spice up my own life.

Today I have decided to share with you some of my own worldly concoctions. Each dish has a whole food plant-based vegan spin on it of course!

Avocado Pesto Chickpeas, Quinoa & Veggies

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Ingredients: — 2 servings

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • Handful of fresh spinach
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 round slice of white onion
  • Fresh basil
  • 3 gloves of garlic
  • Lemon juice
  • Black pepper
  • Pine nuts
  • Nooch (nutritional yeast)
  1. Cook quinoa — boil 2 cups of water and quinoa until soft (or to your preference consistency).
  2. Rinse and drain chickpeas. Place chickpeas in boiling water for 5-7 minutes.
  3. Chop fresh spinach, tomatoes and onion and set aside.
  4. Avocado Pesto: Blend basil, garlic, lemon juice, pine nuts, nutritional yeast, black pepper and nooch in a high-speed blender. Add water as needed.
  5. Lay all veggies, chickpeas and quinoa out on plate, and place dollop of pesto on top. Mix all elements to best capture all flavors and textures before eating.

Black Bean Quinoa Taco Soup

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Ingredients: — many servings (leftover heaven)!

  • 2 cups of quinoa
  • 2 cans of black beans
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3/4 cup white onion, chopped
  • 1 cup yellow & red cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 container veggie broth (reduced sodium)
  • 1 tb taco seasoning
  • Fresh squeezed lime juice
  1. Add quinoa and veggie broth to large pot on medium heat and let cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Add in black beans, garlic, white onion, and taco seasoning and let cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add in cilantro, tomatoes and lime juice, and let cook for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool. Enjoy!

Cauliflower Tikka Masala (adapted from Women’s Health Mag)

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Ingredients: — 2 servings

  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 2 tb canola oil, divided
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 fresh serrano pepper, minced
  • 1 tb curry powder
  • 1 tb tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves, divided
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss cauliflower florets with 1 tablespoon oil and spread on a baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Heat remaining oil over medium heat and cook onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Add ginger, serrano pepper, curry powder, and tomato paste, and cook 1 minute. Add salt and tomatoes and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and half the cilantro.
  3. Divide sauce among 4 bowls, top with cauliflower, and sprinkle with remaining cilantro.

Sweet Curry Zoodles (Fully Raw Kristina)

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Ingredients:

  • 3-5 large zucchini (depending on how hungry you are!)
  • 3-4 small navel oranges (I used clementines)
  • 1-2 cups of red/orange cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tb to 1/2 cup of raw, unhealed sesame seeds
  • Fresh herbs of basil, sage and rosemary
  • 3 gloves of garlic (my special touch!)
  • 1 tb of tumeric
  • 1 tb curry powder
  • A pinch of cumin
  1. Spiralize zucchini into zoodles.
  2. Blend the rest of ingredients in high-speed blender (I used my Ninja!).
  3. Pour sweet curry sauce on top of zoodles, and enjoy!

With all this said, keep in mind that the most important thing to remember no matter what type of cuisine you are eating is to…

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To put this in nicer terms, care about yourself, care about the animals, care about the environment and this world as a whole!

Go vegan, all around the world, for the whole world.

Chow for now 🙂