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Vegan Simplified

The Vegan lifestyle is not boring, complicated, or expensive. This blog was designed in the hopes to simplify the process of healthy eating. I welcome everyone, not just vegans.

eLOVate

rating-5

About: It’s not that often that I give a restaurant a five-star rating, but this place was so perfect! We stopped here on a beautiful Saturday afternoon while taking a stroll around Santa Monica. It’s located just one block south of the Santa Monica Pier, which is a really great location. Right when I walked in, I immediately fell in love with the ambience. Our server, Miguel, was so friendly and gave us a quick overview of the menu. Everything on their menu consists of Local, Organic, and Vegan ingredients. That’s what the “LOV” in eLOVate stands for, just in case you were wondering. ;) Chef Roberto Martin, who is also the personal chef of Ellen DeGeneres, creates the most flavorful dishes. This isn’t just a place for vegans, even non-vegans would love the food here! This restaurant is such a great representation of how plant-based ingredients can be used to develop some really creative and delicious flavors!

What to Order: The Arugula Pesto Linguine was my absolute favorite! My partner also raved about the veggie sandwich he had, so you can’t go wrong with either one.

Overall Rating: I’m so in love with this place! Great food, service, and ambiance! I’m dying to go back!!

Times visited: 1

Location: Santa Monica, CA

For more info: http://www.elovatekitchen.com/

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(Arugula Pesto Linguine: cashew cream, sun dried tomato, parm with blackened tofu)
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(Grilled Veggie Sandwich: grilled ciabatta, portabella, eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, tomato, pickled onion, hempseed pesto… with a side of Kennebec fries!)
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(Juice Flight: Ginger Apple Sour, Chillax, Evergreen, Alive on Fire. This was pretty fun to try out, but I really only liked the Evergreen juice.)

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Vegan Nirvana

rating-4_5 (3)

About: Vegan Nirvana is the newest vegan restaurant in Huntington Beach, CA. This place has a really unique ambience and some cool artwork on the walls to go along with that. Their menu consists of plant-based ingredients, with bold and delicious flavors that make the food really enjoyable to eat.

What to Order: The fish tacos were unbelievable! The “fish” fillets were crunchy in texture, and they were topped with cabbage, pico de gallo, and a creamy chipotle sauce drizzled on top. Best fish tacos I’ve ever had!

Overall Rating: I was really impressed with how flavorful their dishes were. I was even more impressed with their fake meats- great texture and taste. I’m really excited to try out some other foods from their menu. Overall, this restaurant has a really great vibe!

Times visited: 1

Location: Huntington Beach, CA

For more info: https://www.facebook.com/Vegan-Nirvana-804444262942216/

 

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(“Kingdom of God“: poultry-free bites, tofu, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, red onion, red bell peppers, and jalapeno wok-flamed in “Wisdom” sauce along with multi-grain rice with sesame seeds)
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(Strawberry Mint Limeade… yum!)
(“Ultimate Liberation“: crispy fish-free fillet topped with fresh cabbage, pico de gallo, cilantro, and Omnipotent sauce. Served on grilled soft corn tortillas with lime.)

Conscious Culture Cafe

rating-4 (3)

About: Conscious Culture Cafe is located on the Hilo side of the Big Island of Hawaii. We had lunch here after stopping at a beautiful waterfall called Rainbow Falls. I did some research beforehand and decided to stop by here as it is a highly rated restaurant for vegans and vegetarians. This is definitely a great place for vegans to stop and dine. They use fresh, local, and organic ingredients, and they have plenty of vegan and gluten-free options. They’re also known for their kombucha, which is a tea-based beverage made by fermenting tea and sugar with yeast and bacteria. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to try any.

What to Order: The falafel burger is a must-try! We loved it so much that we ordered an extra one to take with us on our drive back.

Overall Rating: This cafe has a very laidback and friendly vibe. We really enjoyed both the experience and the food. I would definitely come back here!

Times visited: 1

Location: Hilo, Hawaii

For more info: http://www.bigislandbooch.org/#ccc

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(Falafel Burger: House-made garbanzo and flax patty, greens, tomato, avocado, and garlic sunflower dressing.)
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(Roasted Veggie tacos: Herb-roasted, portabella mushrooms, zucchini, sweet onions, bell peppers, and carrots, with basil-kale-mac nut pesto, sprouted garbanzo and mac nut hummus, and sprouts)

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Easy Lavash Bread Pizza

If you’re looking for a super quick and easy way to make pizza, this is the perfect recipe for you! I recently discovered lavash bread at my local health food store. Not only is it a healthier alternative to traditional tortillas, but it also makes for a perfect flat-bread pizza crust!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lavash bread
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, diced
  • 1 cup broccoli, sliced
  • 1 roma tomato, diced
  • 1/2 medium squash, diced
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • vegan cheese (optional)
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce

Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large nonstick pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook for 1 minute. Then add the rest of the veggies and stir for another 5 minutes. Add the rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 2 minutes and remove from the heat.
  3. Place the lavash on a baking sheet, drizzle the remaining olive oil and make sure to spread it evenly. Top with tomato sauce, cooked veggies, and vegan cheese (optional).
  4. Place the pizza in the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until crispy or until vegan cheese is melted. Remove from heat, cut into squares and serve. Enjoy!

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Arroz con Leche

As I was enjoying this delicious arroz con leche, I decided to post the recipe for it on my blog. So, this is a Mexican-style rice pudding recipe using only vegan ingredients. I’ve been wanting to make this for a while now because it was one of my favorite dishes growing up. It turned out so good that I wanted to share it right away :)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 4 cups vegan milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Place rice, water, cinnamon, and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and lower the heat.
  2. After most of the water has been absorbed, stir in milk, sugar, and vanilla extract. Lower the heat and stir continuously for about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat. Garnish with ground cinnamon and/or raisins if you’d like!

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Seabirds Kitchen

rating-4_5 (3)

About: Seabirds Kitchen is an organic, plant-based restaurant located in Costa Mesa, California. It has been around for almost 6 years and has grown from a food truck into their current restaurant. Their menu consists of locally grown fruits and vegetables, home-made sauces and condiments, and unique flavors.

What to Order: Their chaffle (churro waffle) is definitely a must-try! I’ve been craving a vegan churro for so long and had never found one until this one. Words cannot describe how delicious this is. It’s crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, and the vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and pecans just takes it to a whole new level of deliciousness! I also enjoyed their grilled cheese sandwich. The cheese and basil sauce combination is so perfect, you won’t even believe it’s vegan!

Overall Rating: I’m so happy I discovered this place. I’m really impressed with how creative and delicious their dishes are. The atmosphere is very laidback and I always have a great experience. This is definitely one of my favorite vegan spots.

Times visited: 4

Location: Costa Mesa, CA

For more info: http://www.seabirdskitchen.com/

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(Chaffle: a churro waffle topped with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, and chopped pecans. Super delish!)
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(Flax Jax: three fluffy flax pancakes served with butter and maple syrup)
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(Porque Maria: smoked sliced tofu, cashew, “gruyere” cheese, rocket arugula, toasted sourdough, with powdered sugar and fresh fruit)
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(Old Town Grilled Cheese: sourdough grilled cheese melt with sharp cashew “gruyere” spread, basil avocado sauce and provolone cheese)
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(BBQ Jack Sliders: whole wheat buns with shredded bbq jackfruit, Seabirds slaw, caramelized onion and dill pickles)
(Natural Cut Fries)
(Natural Cut Fries: house seasoning salt, served with ketchup and Seabirds sauce)
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(Jack Asada Taco: marinated and grilled jackfruit, Seabirds cabbage slaw, pickled red onion; Beer Battered Avo Taco: fried avocado, Seabirds sauce, cabbage, red onion, lime)
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(Butternut Enchiladas: butternut squash, spinach, black bean and mushroom enchiladas with roasted pasilla pepper sauce, almond feta, Seabirds sauce and cilantro, served with arugula salad and sliced avocado. Tasty but a little spicy!)

Jumbo Stuffed Shells

rating-4_5 (3)

This was such a fun recipe to make and a great learning experience for me as well. This was my first time experimenting with tofu and before this, I wasn’t really a big fan of it. But after making this recipe, I was really impressed by its versatility. You can really do so much with it! In this pasta dish, it was used as a substitute for cheese. The outcome was a tofu ricotta filling that was super tasty.

Experience: So, one thing about tofu that I didn’t know prior to making this is that you have to drain all the water out of it before you can use it. This is done by pressing the tofu by using a cutting board or plate. Making the tofu ricotta filling was very easy, but stuffing the shells was a little tricky. Overall, I was really amazed at how delicious this dish turned out. The only thing I would do differently next time, is either add less cayenne pepper or completely skip it since it was optional. It was just a little too spicy for my taste. Anyway, just looking at this picture is making me drool so I definitely have to make this again soon!

Find the recipe here: http://ohsheglows.com/2013/03/13/jumbo-stuffed-shells/

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Blossom Vegan

rating-3_5 (3)

About: Blossom Vegan is a plant-based restaurant that is located in the San Francisco Bay Area. They pride themselves on their ability to prepare everything from scratch daily and use only the freshest ingredients.

What to Order: The Golden Rolls and the Stir-fried Broccoli were my favorite. The taste and texture of the soy “beef” in the broccoli dish were great!

Overall Rating: I was really pleased with the flavors in each dish. The only thing I didn’t like were the noodles in the chow mein dish. I thought they were a bit undercooked. Other than that, the service and ambience were both good.

Times visited: 1

Location: Pleasanton, California

For more info: http://blossomvegans.com/

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(Organic Vietnamese Ice Coffee: So yummy!)
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(Golden Rolls: Traditional fried eggless rolls, filled w/ taro, cabbage, carrot, and tofu.)
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(Stir Fried Vegetable Chow Mein: Wheat noodles, mixed vegetables, organic tofu, soy protein and mushroom, stir-fried in garlic sauce.)
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(Stir-fried Broccoli: Broccoli, soy “beef”, onion, and carrot, stir-fried w/ garlic sauce.)

Tomato Rice

This is one of my favorite go-to dishes. It’s very simple to make and transforms plain rice into a dish that’s much more flavorful!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 cups rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 2 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. On medium heat, add oil to pan then add garlic and onion. Stirring continuously for 1 minute. Add rice, cook for about 8 minutes.
  2. In a blender, make the sauce by adding 2 cups of water and tomatoes.
  3. Add sauce to rice then bring to a boil. Add salt.
  4. When boiling, reduce heat & cover for 20 minutes. Enjoy!


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