Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Native Foods Cafe

Native Nachos

Native Foods Cafe is one of my favorite vegan restaurants (after Sage and Flore). It's a great place for vegan comfort food. In addition to their comfort fare, they do offer healthier options like veggie bowls and salads. We usually don't order those because we eat healthy enough at home. Native Foods gives us a chance to splurge a little, perhaps a little too much.
There are several locations in Southern California, but my favorite one is in Culver City. The staff is so nice and helpful and there is a very pleasant ambience and a sweet breeze always flowing through there. I haven't tried everything here, but my favorite dishes thus far are the Native Nachos, Baja Surf Tacos, and the Portabello Seitan Sausage Burger. Some of the dishes imitate meat a little too much for my taste, so I don't order those, (i.e.: Twister Wrap and Chicken Run Ranch Burger) but hey, you just might like them. The Chili Cheese Fries are also killer, as is their Chai Tea (free refills by the way) and Boogie Bar. The Good Luck cupcakes are sinful. Really. So it's only a once in a while treat. The Lavender Lemonade is also a must on a hot day when you need something cool and refreshing.
If you are near one of their locations, it is definitely worth trying. Even meat-lovers will be thrilled with the flavors. Who knows, this place may just convince you that plant-based is the way to go! (If you're not already convinced.)
Just as a forewarning, when you go to Native Foods you may be tempted to try an appetizer and an entree and a dessert. That's a bit much. Yes, it's that good, but don't overindulge. My suggestion is to share an entree so you can try an appetizer too and then share a dessert. Balance is the key.

Scorpion Burger

Sweet Potato Taquitos

Baja Surf Tacos

Portabello and Sausage Burger

Twister Wrap

Chili Cheese Fries

Chocolate Love Pie

Cardamom Rose Good Luck Cupcake

Chocolate Good Luck Cupcake and Chai
Chocolate Good Luck Cupcake

Himal Chuli

Tarkari and Rice

This evening we dined at a Nepalese restaurant in Wisconsin called Himal Chuli. It was our first time having Nepali cuisine. It was delicious. The homemade meal was filled with exotic and flavorful spices and tasted very wholesome. We tried a dish called Katahar Kabab which is green jackfruit marinated with a special blend of Nepali spices, sauteed with onion, tomatoes, and cilantro and served with brown rice. My husband had the Rice, Tarkari and Dal (a mixed-bean soup). The dish includes rice served with a blend of vegetables simmered in turmeric, coriander, cumin, fresh garlic and ginger. Both dishes were full of spicy and robust. If you love flavor and spice, this is a cuisine you'll want to try. So if you're ever in Wisconsin and want some vegan fare, here's a great place to dine.


Katahar Kabab

Real Food Daily

Faux-stess Cupcake

Real Food Daily is another great vegan restaurant. The food always tastes fresh and wholesome. There are two locations, one in West Hollywood and another in Santa Monica. We've had brunch and dinner here and have never been disappointed. So far my favorite entrees have been the enchiladas (El Bandito Rojo) and the Supreme Burrito. Oh, and you can never go wrong with the Dark Fudge Brownie and "ice cream" for dessert. Just make sure you ask for extra spoons for that one. Here are some of the meals my family and I have enjoyed at RFD.

Vegetable Tamales with Mole (This was a special)

El Bandito Rojo

Tac-o' the Town

Supreme Burrito-Wet

RFD Burger

Dark Fudge Brownie with Chocolate Chips
(order it with vanilla ice "cream")

Gluten-Free Chocolate Strawberry Cupcake

Flore Vegan Cuisine

Here is another one of my favorite vegan restaurants in Southern, California: Flore Vegan Cuisine. I must admit that the first time I dinned here I was a bit skeptical. The place is very tiny and didn't seem very clean. After about a year I went back to give it a second try. Why did I wait so long! This place is amazing! Don't let the small, clutter-y feeling of the place discourage you from eating here. It's a great place and what I love about it is that they use very clean and fresh ingredients. This is truly a whole foods, plant-based restaurant. No vegan junk food here. Except maybe the desserts, but they taste so wholesome. So far we've tried the Burrito Flore, which is amazing, the Tacos de Papas which are delish, Eastsider Tacos (my husband loves these), the Raw Chocolate Shake, and of course, their cupcakes. The Chocolate with Vanilla is to die for. The Lemon Poppy Seed is also good. They also serve a vegan Strawberry Shortcake which they purchase from another bakery. Wow! It's divine!

Here are a few pictures of what I've had. Sorry, I forgot to take pictures of some of the items above. We were hungry.

Tacos de Papas

Chocolate Vanilla Cupcake 

Candle Cafe

While in New York we also stopped by the famous Candle Cafe. While we were there we noticed Anne Hathaway dining next to us. This place was not my favorite. I think I might have just ordered the wrong thing. I ordered the Cajun Seitan Sandwich. It was good, but it wasn't what I expected and it was too greasy for my taste. I should have just stuck with a salad. I'd give it another try, but would stick to the healthier entrees like the salads. Here's what we ordered for lunch...





Blossom NYC Dinner

Here's the meal we enjoyed at Blossom NYC when we went for dinner. It was amazing! I enjoyed it even more than lunch. It was truly an exquisite treat for our taste buds. Make sure you make reservations if you are going to dine there for lunch or dinner. It's a pretty popular place.

Seitan Empanadas 

Pistachio and Pepper Dusted Tofu


Chocolate Ganache

Blossom NYC Lunch

While visiting New York this past spring we hit a few vegan restaurants that were just amazing. My favorite one was Blossom in New York City. It was so delicious we made time to dine there a second time just before our flight back home. The food presentation was beautiful and the flavors were so gourmet and exquisite. I felt like Remy in Ratatouille when I ate here. A true explosion of flavors in your mouth. If you are ever in NYC around the Chelsea district, I highly recommend this restaurant. Below are some pictures and descriptions of what we had.

The first time we went to Blossom we had lunch. Here's what we all ordered:

Black-eyed Pea Cake

Phyllo Roulade

Blossom Burrito

Soy Bacon Cheeseburger

Lavender Creme Brulee

Vietnamese Salad

In case you can't already tell, Sage Vegan Bistro is my new favorite spot. This is what I ordered the first time I dinned there. It is their Vietnamese Salad. It's served with thin strips of spicy seitan, red pepper, carrot, crimini mushrooms, lemon mint, and thai basil topped with cucumbers on baby greens and served with a ginger sesame dressing and tahini. If that does not make your mouth water then your taste buds must be flavor impaired. The spicy seitan is the best I've had thus far. You may want to ask them to go a little easy on the ginger sesame dressing. It's just another great meal from Sage.

Bacon Chili Cheeseburger

Okay, so lately I have been hitting Sage Vegan Bistro often. That's what happens when you get injured and can't cook for yourself. Anyway, I came upon this amazing vegan creation by accident. This is the last thing I would have ever ordered on the Sage menu. I am not a big fan of foods that imitate the very foods I no longer eat. Even when I used to eat meat, I would rarely be tempted to order a bacon chili cheeseburger. Well, the waiter at Sage gave me the wrong order. I had ordered their Chipotle Burger and got this instead. As I was eating it I wondered why it tasted so much like a Tommy's Chili Cheeseburger. It did not taste like chipotle at all. I was so hungry that I didn't really think about it much longer until I got the check and realized I had eaten a Bacon Chili Cheeseburger, vegan of course. Well, it was a good thing the waiter made this mistake because I would have probably never ordered this. It was one great meal, like a Tommy's Chili Cheeseburger minus the bloating, acid reflux, flatulence, saturated fat, salt, and guilt.

Here's what's in the burger: tempeh bacon, homemade black bean chili, harissa, and sundried tomato cashew cheese, white bean and roasted pepper patty, homemade spicy dill pickles, lettuce, heirloom tomato, red onion, and garlic aioli.

Vegan Spaghetti & Meatballs

I found this recipe on one of my favorite blogs. It is a delicious, easy-to-prepare meal. The "meatballs" have a great texture and are full of flavor. You'll definitely want seconds with this meal. Click here for the recipe.

Jackfruit Chorizo Burrito

Brunch at Sage Vegan Bistro is quite a treat. Last week we enjoyed their Jackfruit Chorizo Burrito. Talk about a celebration of flavors in your mouth. The burrito is served with a side of black beans and rice and an exquisite spicy salsa to drizzle onto your burrito. You must try it! Mexican cuisine has never tasted better! If you like spicy and you like burritos you'll love this entree. Keep in mind Sage only serves brunch on Saturday and Sunday until 4 p.m.

Jackfruit Street Tacos

These Street Tacos are from Sage Vegan Bistro in Echo Park, California. They are amazing! Who needs carne asada or carnitas when you have this?! The tacos are made with jackfruit, a fruit native to parts of Southern and Southeast Asia and the national fruit of Bangladesh. Sage Vegan Bistro did it right when they made these tacos. They are an explosion of flavor in your mouth. They have a great spicy kick to them. I highly recommend you stop by Sage and give them a try. Trust me, you'll be hooked.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Indian Samosa Wraps

These Indian Samosa Wraps are incredibly easy to prepare and taste wonderful! Click on the link below for the recipe. To make this an even easier recipe, just buy whole wheat tortillas.

Indian Samosa Wraps
Serves 4

Quickie Quesadillas

     These little guys are great! They are so easy to make. For those of you who still eat dairy, you won't even miss the cheese (yes, it is possible to make a quesadilla without cheese).  Find the recipe by clicking on the link below. We topped ours with avocado and salsa. Yum!

Quickie Quesadillas
Serves 4

Pasta with Roasted Vegetables

     This is a delicious pasta recipe from Dr. Neal Barnard's website www.pcrm.org. It is very tasty and easy to prepare. It makes great leftovers and still tastes wonderful when eaten cold. Find the ingredients and recipe by clicking on the link below.

Pasta with Roasted Vegetables
Serves 4

Thai Noodles

This is a delicious recipe I found on another blog that I like to get recipes from: http://www.thehealthseekerskitchen.blogspot.com/. It's a very easy, fresh tasting recipe. Click on the link below to find the ingredients and recipe. 

Thai Noodles
Serves 4

Crispy "Fish" Tacos with Tomatillo Dressing

Here is another easy and delicious recipe from www.littlehouseofveggies.blogspot.com. They make the perfect fresh summer meal. Click on the link below to find the recipe for both the tacos and the salsa.

Crispy "Fish" Tacos with Tomatillo Dressing
Serves 4

Falafel Pitas

     This is one of our favorite entrees. It is incredibly easy to make. You do need a large food processor though, otherwise it will be a disaster and will take a lot longer to prepare. If you do not have one, I would invest in one just to make this recipe. It's that good! Plus, you can use the food processor for many other things such as slicing and shredding vegetables. This can save you loads of time. I got this particular recipe from one of my favorite blogs,
Click on the link after the image to get the recipe.

Falafel Pitas
Serves 4

Note: Just a heads up, when you make the falafel mixture, put in all the ingredients except the garbanzo beans in the processor first and mix, then add in the garbanzo beans after. If you do it the other way around the garbanzo beans get stuck underneath the blade and it makes it hard to mix everything thoroughly.

Lentil Vegetable Soup

     Okay, so this is not the greatest picture. My sous chef and loyal helper in the kitchen does not always pay attention to presentation. This recipe was adapted from Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin's Skinny B**** in the Kitch. It is a very tasty, healthy, and hearty soup that also makes great leftovers. We added more vegetables than the original recipe outlined and it lasted us three days. It still tasted great on the third day and we didn't have to worry about cooking.

Lentil Vegetable Soup
Serves 6 to 8

1 TBS olive oil, or less
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into a 1/2-inch dice
1/2 onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 yellow squash, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch slices
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
8 cups low sodium vegetable stock (2 32-ounce cartons)
1 1/2 cups lentils
1 TBS soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes (with juices)

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the red bell peppers, yellow bell peppers, and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the zucchini, yellow squash, garlic, salt, pepper, marjoram, thyme, and cayenne. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute.
  4. Stir in the stock, lentils, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos. 
  5. Increase the heat to high, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer.
  6. Cook until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
  7. Add the tomatoes and stir until the tomatoes are heated through. 
This recipe was adapted from Skinny B**** in the Kitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, page 56.