Tag Archives: vegan

Picking oranges and other food, in California

Picking Oranges in near Santa Barbara, CA

So Kim and I, who live in Michigan, visited our friend Satpreet, in Southern California, this past weekend. There was nothing good at the cinema, so we thought, why not? (kidding)

One of our main goals was to try loads of good food – and that we did. In addition to the burritos from the Mexican food truck, the amazing Indian food our friend’s mom made and the oranges fresh from the tree, we picked spectacular places to eat. If any of you makes it out to SoCal, and you’re not the Bubba Gump type, then you might just absolutely adore these places.

Cafe Gratitude – Los Angeles

Our first day in L.A. we ate at Cafe Gratitude, near West Hollywood (around the corner from Paramount Studios!). Cafe Gratitude was, in short, simply and subtly magnificent.

Kim and Satpreet at Cafe Gratitude, LA

Everything on the menu is titled I AM HAPPY, I AM THRIVING, I AM GLORIOUS and so on. That weekend was one of the rare few days that it rained (and snowed and hailed…), and they had a chalkboard asking “What do you like most about the rain?” Dancing in it, the smell, the rainbow that follows. I came up with the somewhat lame, but truthful, answer of “just the rain.”

We ordered 3 dishes to split: I AM FESTIVE, I AM COMFORTED and I AM HEARTY (Taco salad with walnut chorizo & cashew cheese, roasted rosemary yams with spicy nacho cheese, and pesto pizza on onion crust with cashew ricotta & topped with brazil nut parmesan, respectively.)

The food was fresh, healthy, unique, and most importantly, delicious. Normally, “vacation-food” insists on being greasy, heavy and over-eaten. But aside from our grilled cheese from In-N-Out, I felt good and healthy at the end of the weekend – no guilty conscience and resolution to jog every day. These were 3 dishes, and 3 words, that easily sum up our feelings of being together again.

I’m sad I have little hope of returning to it very soon. For a full day and a half, I named Cafe Gratitude my favorite restaurant, but our later food ventures forced me to push it to 2nd place.

Backyard Bowls – Santa Barbara

In Santa Barbara we ate at Backyard Bowls, no doubt one of the most unique eateries and so perfect for our palettes. We split two bowls, the Green Bowl (Acaí, Banana, Broccoli, Spinach, Ginger, Lime Juice & Apple Juice with Strawberries, Blueberries, Granola & Honey) and Diego’s Power Bowl (Acaí, Banana, Strawberry, Hemp Protein, Peanut Butter, & Hemp Milk with Banana, Hemp Seeds, Granola & Honey). The pictures don’t do them justice – I couldn’t imagine their delicious-ness from the website’s photos. You just have to taste them for yourself.

I desperately wish we had a Backyard Bowls near where I live – It’s worth the $8 bucks, and the serving is fairly big anyway. Kim and I have both tried to more closely imitate these bowls (though unique yogurt concoctions are far from foreign in our kitchens), but nothing compares to the flavors they’ve put together.

Until next time!



Vegan Orange Muffins & Applesauce-Spice Muffins

My roommate’s senior show reception (for fine art) was last night, and as the genius she is, she decided to serve breakfast for dinner. Waffles, eggs, bagels, milk and orange juice were all served. Her mom doesn’t eat eggs and when I was thinking about what I could make to contribute, I immediately thought – Caron’s Questionable Vegan Pancakes recipe. As much as I really wanted to make one of Caron’s recipes, I thought, after pulling out all the ingredients, that muffins really were much easier to carry around a gallery setting. So I researched egg-less and vegan muffin recipes and ended up taking a few different things from a few different recipes.

I’ve mentioned before that vegan baking is amazing, which I feel most people don’t realize (and I can eat all the batter I want and not get sick! At least not from salmonella). They hear the word vegan and think it’ll be weird. Well, I can tell you, I didn’t tell anybody the muffins were vegan and everybody loved them! I have two different flavors – orange and applesauce-spice.

Vegan Orange Muffins
2 cups Jiffy baking mix (Michigan-made!)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup orange juice
zest from one large orange, (at least 2 tsp)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the wet ingredients on one bowl, and dry ingredients in another. Pour dry ingredients into the wet and stir until just combined. Try not over stir, or the muffins’ texture will change. Place in oven.
It will make 12 muffins.

Applesauce-spice Muffins
2 cups Jiffy baking mix (Michigan-made!)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the wet ingredients on one bowl, and dry ingredients, except walnuts) in another. Pour dry ingredients into the wet and stir until just combined. Add the walnuts. Try not over stir, or the muffins’ texture will change. Place in oven.
It should make 12 muffins, but for some reason I could only manage 11. Perhaps I had eaten too much of the batter in the making?

These muffins were delicious! The spices in the Applesauce-Spice really held the muffin together, and the orange-flavor was so unique and fresh! A great spring-time muffin! Plus, vegan muffins feel lighter to eat (depending on how you make them of course!).


Rye Spinach pancakes

Beth and I agreed to post every single day of spring break. We made a verbal agreement to our acquaintance Karen (not Caron from Vegan Monster) that we would. Spring Break was not last week, but the week before, and needless to say (if you follow our blog regularly), we failed. I believe I posted once, maybe twice, and same with Beth.

So to Karen, we apologize. We cooked, we simply neglected to post. Perhaps the next few posts will have those recipes.

But for now I have a recipe I made this morning! I was going to have friends over for pancakes, but when I called them they decided it was still too early in the morning. That’s fine because I realized we didn’t have any Bisquick, and I really wanted to make one of the pancake recipes from Vegan Monster. When I went to her site I realized she had a new oatmeal pancake! It looked amazing, but I really wasn’t in the mood for anything sweet (shocking!). So I scrolled down until I found her spinach griddle cakes recipe. I love baking vegan because I eat a lot of eggs, and vegan baking means I have more for later!

I changed the recipe a little (who doesn’t?) and here’s what I had.

1 1/2 cup milk (or soy milk for vegans)
1/2 cup spinach
1 tbsp molasses
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1 tsp baking powder

Purée the spinach with some of the milk in a food processor. Then combine all ingredients. Butter the top of a griddle and set it to medium high. Cook pancakes until browned, just like any other pancake.

This recipe should only be eaten by those who a) are not scared to try something new and b) like somewhat bland foods. I didn’t necessarily think it was bland, but I tried to imagine it from someone else’s point of view and then I decided perhaps they were a little bland. I put Meijer brand authentic Mexican cheese on top and they tasted amazing! I also mixed vanilla protein powder with pumpkin purée as a dressing, and that also tasted very delicious.


Chocolate Molasses Drop Cookies

In my experience, vegan cooking is incredibly underestimated. Beth’s and my good friend Caron over at Vegan Monster makes delicious vegan dishes and baked goods – especially baked goods. Vegan baking won me over last year when my professor at Michigan State, Adam Brown, created the best (the BEST) vegan chocolate cake. I asked for the recipe, but alas, I forgot to add baking powder, and even then I’m sure Adam neglected to mention the tablespoon of magic that undoubtedly goes in it. Caron made it and you can find the recipe here.

But this cookie recipe was not inspired by that cake, it was inspired by Caron’s amazing chocolate chip cookies. However, I changed a few of the ingredients. My version is not vegan, but simply because I did not have the vegan alternatives.

2 cups flour
2 tsps baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbps cinnamon (I like cinnamon)
chocolate chips (or carob chips) – as many as you like.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup butter (or vegetable oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup milk (or soy milk or water)

Set oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add the chocolate chips. In another bowl mix sugar, oil, and molasses. Add the vanilla and milk. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined.

Spoon onto baking sheet and bake for 8-9 minutes.