Monday, December 28, 2015

Thai Peanut Rolls

Rick and I hosted a little party at our place on Christmas night. It was supposed to be simple, but of course I kept expanding the menu, and as always, ended up making way too much food. We made a huge pot of green coconut curry with vegetables and sticky brown rice, guacamole, spicy adobo chile-laced queso, garlic truffle popcorn, mini rum balls, and threw in some good spreads and bread from Trader Joe's.

The favorite nibble of the night though was the big platter of Thai Peanut Rolls, which were inspired by a killer peanut butter sandwich I had at a food cart. Make these for your New Year's Eve festivities, or for no special reason at all. They're a great little appetizer when sliced into rounds, and also good simply cut in half and munched for lunch.

Thai Peanut Rolls

flour tortillas, any color
vegan cream cheese (I like Tofutti)
peanut butter
orange marmalade
fresh basil, chopped
grated carrots
Sriracha sauce
curry powder
red bell peppers, thinly sliced
baby spinach leaves

For each roll, spread cream cheese on about two thirds of a tortilla, going all the way to the edges. Spread a stripe of peanut butter, and one of marmalade onto the remaining third of the tortilla. Sprinkle basil over most of the spreads, leaving about two inches of the cream cheese bare. Add a thin layer of grated carrots over the basil. Drizzle lightly with Sriracha, and sprinkle with curry powder. Lay several bell pepper strips across the center of the tortilla. Top with a single layer of spinach leaves covering the half with the peanut butter on it. With the peanut butter end closest to you, roll it all up as tightly as you can, and let the plain cream cheese bit on the far side act as the glue to hold the roll together. Repeat the process to make as many rolls as you'll need. Slice them into bite-size rounds, and arrange on a platter. These don't really need a dipping sauce, but I like a little extra Sriracha on the side.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Dining Out at New Taste of India

Dinner with friends is even more fun when we get to try someplace new to us. We're lucky to have friends here who have lived in Portland a long time, and know lots of vegan-friendly places to take us. New Taste of India, not too far from us, on Macadam, was a great surprise. They also have two downtown food cart locations, one of which turns out to be right across the street from where we live. Who knew!

The family-friendly restaurant is in strip mall, but don't let that trouble you. Once inside, you'll be comfortable, well taken care of, and the food is just amazing. There are lots of vegan options to choose from, most of them clearly marked on the printed menu, under the vegetable section, plus a few others under the appetizers, which our server pointed out to us.

We started with two plates of Vegetable Pakora (crispy fried veggies in garbanzo batter) for the table, which vanished almost instantly.

Rick and I shared two dishes - the Mixed Vegetables, and the Saag Channa (chickpeas and spinach). Both were cooked beautifully, spiced to our liking, and served with fluffy basmati rice.

The other vegan dish on the table was the Aloo Gobi, made with potatoes and cauliflower, and seasoned more tamely for our 8-year-old friend, who loves adventurous food, but can't take much spice. And although we didn't need it, we couldn't resist an order of Garlic Naan, fresh from the tandoor oven.

Do I even have to say how good everything was? So, so good! And we all commented on how those small looking serving bowls held a lot more food than we thought. We all took home leftovers to enjoy for lunch, which is exactly what I'm doing as I write this.

I'll be popping over to the New Taste of India food cart soon, and will look forward to the next time we visit their restaurant for another relaxing, delicious evening.

Monday, November 30, 2015

I Heart Keenwah Review

The nice folks at I Heart Keenwah asked me to check out their snack products and tell you what I think. I'm always up for a snack! And if it leans over to the healthier side of snacking, I'm all in. As you probably know, quinoa, the adorable little super pseudo-grain (it's actually a seed) is packed with complete protein. As a base for a snack, it's really much better for you than a lot of the other crunchy-salty things we love to munch on. One serving of the savory flavors has 5 grams of protein, and the sweets have 3 grams. That's pretty good.

First of all, I think it's brilliant of them to spell the name phonetically, so people can learn how to say it. KEEN-Wah! Now we got it!

On to the taste test! There are 5 varieties of the "sweet and crunchy" snacks, and 4 varieties of "savory and airy," which turned out to be my favorites.

Rick helped me sample 3 of the savories - Herbes de Provence, Sea Salt Truffle, and Sweet Chili. All 3 were great! They're a lot crunchier than your typical old school cheese puff, and smaller than they look on the package, which is not a bad thing at all. They're munchable!

The flavors are pronounced and real and identifiable. Rick liked the Sweet Chili the best, because he goes for a sweet slant, even in savory foods. They were spicy too! My favorite flavor was the Sea Salt Truffle. These tasted sort of... elegant. I like that right out of a bag! And we both agreed that the Herbes de Provence tasted a lot like Thanksgiving, and thought they'd be really good used as croutons on a salad or soup. Any of them would, really.

The 2 sweet flavors we sampled were The Chocolate Sea Salt and the Cashew Cranberry. We loved them both, but as usual, I preferred the saltier one, while Rick reached more for the sweeter fruity one. It all works out so perfectly.
Bottom line is, would I buy these? Yes! And you can too. Get I Heart Keenwah snacks online, or check their Stores page for a store that carries them near you!

A Happy Cow Look at Portland VegFest 2015

Check out this video link from the folks at Happy Cow! It's a fun look at VegFest, and doubles as a mini tourist guide to some of Portland's vegan highlights. You're going to want to visit us!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Easy Meatless Monday Recipe - Winter Lentil Soup

Living in Portland, I don't cook as much as I used to. There's so much great, affordable vegan food here, and I have such a crummy little kitchen, I'm just not feeling the recipe-inventing love. However,  a lot of you ask me for easy vegan recipes to either help you get started on a plant-based path, or add variety to your already-vegan diet. I'm happy to help with that! A little research turns up hundreds of great, simple plant-based recipes. I know you don't have a lot of time to filter through all that, so I'll dig around for recipes that look like something I'd like to try in my minimal kitchen, and share them with you here. Hope it helps! Enjoy!

Thank you for the lovely photo and recipe!
With Thanksgiving coming up this Thursday, it's nice to have some easy recipes to float us through the early part of the week with minimal effort. Make a big pot of this, and eat it for days!

Winter Lentil Soup

Here's what's in it:

olive oil
canned whole tomatoes
sweet potatoes
brown lentils
fresh thyme
salt and black pepper
grated [vegan] Parmesan (optional)

Look good? Get the whole recipe at!

Monday, November 16, 2015

It's the Post-VegFest Post!

Portland VegFest was this past weekend. I was there for almost all of it, and I have lots to share. It was a terrific event, bursting with food, fun, and information for vegans and veg-curious folks of all kinds. My focus was on the Fashion and Beauty Stage, since that's what I was invited to cover.

There was so much there. Too much to share it all here. I mean really, the idea is for you to go and experience the whole glorious thing for yourself. If you missed it, well, I'm sorry. Don't let that happen again, OK? Highlights for me this year were, in no particular order of preference:

100% Pure offers beautiful, natural, organic skin care and fruit-pigmented makeup. The company was a major sponsor of VegFest, and also quietly partners with various animal welfare organizations. They gave me some delicious lotion and hair care samples, and asked me to extend a 20% online discount to you! Use the code VEGFEST2015 until December 20th. You're welcome!

CompassionateCloset is an online purveyor of women's and men's clothing, shoes, and accessories from a wide range of vegan manufacturers. They carry super cool things like sunglasses made from recycled skateboard decks, and gorgeous shoes and boots.

Herbivore Clothing, a dandy Portland store, carries all sorts of animal-friendly items, like t-shirts, books, bags, stickers, housewares, and tons of accessories. They brought a bunch of great stuff with them, and had a happy buzz around their booth all weekend.

dōTERRA + Mind Body Spirit shared an amazingly scented mini-spa space filled with the very best in essential oils, and absolutely lovely, caring, sharing people. I followed my nose in, and was whisked into a comfy chair for a free hand massage that left me smelling like a sunny orange grove, and feeling refreshed and somehow "lighter."

V Apparel makes super soft, organic, fair trade, ethical T's in gorgeous, thoughtful designs. 10% goes to the animals. Sweet!

Vanessa Huntley offers hair styling, skin care, and massage in her all-vegan salon. She showed us how to do a simple, pretty up-do using safe, natural products that smelled so good her model went through the audience letting us sniff her hair. I also learned the correct way to use a bobby pin, which should be bumpy side down. Who knew!

Deja Bags are made of actual mylar film from used movie theater reels. They're super strong and stylish, and you can even tell what movie your bag is made from. Some are x-rated! Oh my!

Arbonne is a large, multi-national, botanically-based, all vegan company that makes an extensive line of skin and hair care products, as well as cosmetics, fragrance, and nutritional supplements. Even if you're not in the US, I'll bet you can order from them!

Compassion Co "provides shirts that allow people to announce their cruelty free lifestyle to the world." They're all about setting a positive example while creating connection and conversation between the wearer and others. Their clothing is organic, sustainable, and eco-friendly.

Kat Mendenhall is a lifelong cowgirl who went vegan a few years ago, and realized she needed an alternative to her usual leather boots. Finding nobody who was already making them, she set out to create her own company. Her "Kick Butt Boots" are absolutely gorgeous, and yes, I want a pair very much. She also offers belts, and soon there will be bags and wallets too.

North Coast Organics specializes in deodorants and bath and body care. The founder wanted a natural deodorant that would stand up to his 50 mile bike rides. Finding nothing on the market that suited him, he came up with it himself. The scents are wonderful. I bought the one called "Creativity," and so far, I smell sweet and fresh, even though I have no intention of ever getting on a bike.

Schmidt's Deodorant is an all-natural, cruelty-free product I'd sampled in the cream form a few years ago. I liked it a lot, but was wishing for a stick, which they now offer. Yay! I got my favorite, the Bergamot-Lime scent. It works great!

Cykochic offers creative, custom handbags in a variety of designs and colors, using Peta-approved, super soft vegan (polyurethane) leather, as well as "linen" made from recycled plastic bottles. They're adorable.

Vegan Beauty Review tells you more than you thought you wanted to know about cruelty-free and vegan beauty brands. Check this site before you shop. You'll find some real treasures, as well as a lot of good information.

Driftwood Magazine is brand new on the scene. Leaving the food, nutrition, and recipes to other fine publications out there, Driftwood offers "stories of vegan travel adventures, profiles on people, and advancements in our global community." It's seriously, playfully beautiful, and you'll keep each issue around long after you've read it.

Although most of my time was spent at the Fashion and Beauty Stage, I did manage to sneak off to other parts of the festival to sample some amazing food (free samples everywhere!), and listen to some expert speakers.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau shared some really useful insights regarding the excuses so many of us make for not going vegan, and debunking some of the myths surrounding a plant-based diet.  She also  responded thoughtfully and helpfully to audience questions about difficulties conveying our vegan values to our non-veg family and friends. Benefit from Colleen's gentle wisdom via her website, books, videos, and podcast.

Michael Klaper, MD gave us the lowdown on salt, sugar, and oils. I eat better than almost anyone I know, but I still have some improvements to make! There's a lot of great information on his website. Explore and thrive.

My friend Deb Kay, whom I met at Vegan Fusion teacher training, did a fun and tasty cooking demo, and shared some simple dessert recipes, just in time for the holidays. With permission, here's her incredible recipe for Lemon Pudding, made with cauliflower!!! To make it into a pie, just add 1 tablespoon of agar powder to the blender mixture, and then pour it into your favorite pie crust. Top with coconut whipped cream and enjoy some lemon heaven!

Lemon Pudding
Recipe from Deb Kay
Vegan and Gluten Free

3 cups roughly chopped cauliflower
1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
2 tablespoons sugar, agave, or maple syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
zest from 1 large lemon
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Place cauliflower, milk, sugar, vanilla, and zest into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, uncovered. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer and cook uncovered for 5-7 minutes, until cauliflower is very soft. Remove from heat.

Add lemon juice (and agar if using) and pour into food processor or blender. Blend on high for 1 minute, or until very smooth. Pour into a clean bowl (or pie crust) and allow to cool at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight, for at least 18 hours. Refrigeration helps the bold lemon flavor subside and really transforms this pudding. Do not skip this step!

Thanks Deb!

And there you have it. Two days of vegan fun, fashion, beauty, and then some. I hope you'll check out the websites I've linked for you. Every single one of them has something special to offer. I know I'll be supporting these super vegan businesses, and maybe I'll become even more fashionable and beautiful in the process!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Portland VegFest - November 14-15, 2015

I finally got the lineup for my special assigned area of Portland VegFest - the Fashion and Beauty Stage! This is going to be so much fun, and so busy, busy, busy! I'll be there both days, so I'll have time to see it all, as well as check out all the great food and health gurus who will be there too.

Read the full (very full) schedule here - Program.

Right off the top, I'm particularly interested in hearing what Vanessa Huntley has to share about vegan hair and skin care (my hair needs help!) The organic, fair trade clothing from V Apparel is super cute, and "boots that kick butt" from Kat Mendenhall, just knock me out. Must meet them in person. Yep, they're vegan. Wow!!!

The list goes on and on, and I know there will be lots of surprises. Of course I'll tell you all about it after it's over. But hey, wouldn't it be better if you met me there and saw (and tasted and touched and listened and learned) for yourself? Yes of course it would!

VegFest covers the entire range of life in the veg lane. There will be experts on everything from food and health to animal rights and environmental issues, and of course, fashion and beauty! This is the best one-stop event for anyone who's interested in learning more about going vegan, and how to love being there.

You can get your tickets online or at the door. Be sure to use the $1 off code or coupon!
See you there!

Thanksgiving at Sullivan Street Press

For the next couple of weeks, Deborah Emin, publisher at Sullivan Street Press, where my friend Paul Graham's book, Eating Vegan in Vegas "lives," is doing a series of special blog posts devoted to helping us plan our vegan Thanksgiving festivities. She's sharing recipes and restaurant suggestions from across the country, along with thoughts on how it's so easy and fun to celebrate the holidays in a vegan way. Follow Deborah's blog here, where today she shares my recent post on the wondrous Portobello Vegan Trattoria here in Portland.

Who knows... someday there might be another book - Eating Vegan in Portland!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Vegan Thanksgiving in Portland - Portobello Vegan Trattoria

When asked to suggest a great place to enjoy a fabulous vegan Thanksgiving dinner in Portland, I instantly thought of Portobello Vegan Trattoria. This well known and popular Portland restaurant will be offering a four course prix fixe Thanksgiving feast for $45 per person.

I was also told that you can call ahead to order take-home dinners for just $25. What a thoughtful way for non-vegan hosts to dazzle the "vegan at the table" with a beautiful meal, without having to fuss or puzzle over what to make. Now there's something to be thankful for!

The Thanksgiving Menu has just appeared on their website, and I'm hungry just looking at it. Start with Corn Bread with Maple Butter, Warm Olives with Citrus, Roast Pepper Stuffed Mushrooms, and then make your choices from the elegant options created just for this meal. 

Soup isn't just soup. It's Heirloom Squash Soup with Fried Parsnip and Pumpkin Seed Cracker. If you prefer salad, choose the Warm Roast Beet and Carrot with Hazelnuts, Maple Mustard Vinaigrette, Mixed Baby Greens, and Crouton.

The main course offerings are Confit Delicata Squash with Chanterelles, Roast Chestnut, and Cannellini Cassoulet, or Roast Portobello with Fried Shallots, Savory Stuffing, Brussel Sprouts with Trumpet Mushroom Bacon and Cranberry Chutney. 

And then for dessert... Pumpkin Cheesecake with Chocolate Chili Crust, Candied Pepitas, and Chocolate Chili Sauce, or Apple Pie Crostada with Bourbon Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Salted Caramel Sauce and Candied Rosemary.

Pardon me while I dap the drool off my chin. It all sounds amazing, and fortunately, if at least two people are dining together, you can order everything and sample all of it. They also serve beer, wine, and cocktails, and offer wine pairing, which I really appreciate. I love wine, but know nothing about it.
As I've written about Portobello in the past, it's absolutely one of my favorite places in Portland (or anywhere) for a truly extraordinary meal. If you can't make it for Thanksgiving, visit them any time you get the chance, for dinner or Sunday Brunch. The vibe is special without being stuffy, and the food is always incredible. The menu changes seasonally, so there will be surprises every time you go. What I've sampled at other times of the year has always been truly inspired.

Roasted Portobello Mushroom with Polenta

Asparagus and Beet Salad
Be sure to make your reservations well ahead of time, either by calling the number below, or online. No matter when you dine at Portobello, you'll walk away well fed, happy, and no doubt grateful to have found a new favorite place to share a memorable meal whenever you're lucky enough to be in Portland.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Tart
Portobello Vegan Trattoria
1125 SE Division Street
Portland, OR

Friday, November 6, 2015

Portland Vegfest is Right Around the Corner!

Portland VegFest, "Oregon's premier plant-based food and lifestyle event," is coming to the Oregon Convention Center November 14th and 15th. By my calculations, this will be the 7th Vegfest to be held here. And from what I saw last year, the good people at Northwest VEG are experts at putting together an event of this size.

Just look at the lineup of speakers! Big names like Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, Michael Klaper, MD, Miyoko Schinner (say vegan cheese!), Dan Piraro, the funny guy behind the Bizarro comic, and many others, are joined by talented, informative locals like my friend Deb Kay, who's presentation, "Making Common Treats From Uncommon Ingredients," promises to be in perfect sync with the holiday season.

Dan Piraro
Do you have your tickets yet? They're offering a $1 off coupon, so get going!

I have the particularly fun assignment of covering the Fashion and Beauty Stage, which is sponsored by 100% Pure, a natural, cruelty-free skin care and cosmetics company I'm looking forward to getting familiar with. While I don't have the complete F and B lineup yet, I do know that the gorgeous Gunas vegan handbags will be there. A new purse? Filled with makeup? And it's all vegan and pretty? We're off to a good start!

One more time, got tickets? See you at Portland VegFest!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Meatless Monday - Winner's Gumbo

I've shared a lot of great recipes with you here over the years. Now and then I like to go back and spotlight some of my favorites, so they don't get forgotten, and so new readers will find them. This recipe for Winner's Gumbo is my own version of one they make at Disneyland. It's easy to make, great in chilly weather, and makes enough to serve a crowd, if you're so inclined.

Find the whole story, and the recipe, in the original post. I can't wait to make this again. Glad I found it!

Friday, October 30, 2015

You Don't Know Jackfruit

Can I say "freaking" here, you know, in that way, without offending anyone too terribly much? I hope so, because I'm going to. I recently had lunch at The Happy Hooligans (formerly Happy Bamboo) in San Jose. This all-vegan sit-down-or-take-out restaurant is practically hidden in a strip mall on Branham and Ross, across from a big Safeway. But once you find it, the comfort food they advertise really delivers. In fact, you can also get your food delivered through at least a couple of services, including DoorDash.

After looking over the extensive menu, trying to narrow it down to the one thing that would make my vegan heart sing that day, I finally settled on the Jackfruit Carnitas Enchiladas. I was the only customer in sight when I walked in, just a little bit before noon, but tables started to fill up quickly, and the one adorable server kept up with grace and a smile that rivaled her shiny silver jewelry.

Before I go any further, I just want to cut to the chase and tell you that these enchiladas were... here it comes... freaking amazing.

Look! Are you feeling it? These were real enchiladas, willing and able to satisfy your Mexican food cravings in a way most other vegan enchiladas can only dream of. While I'm grateful that more and more places offer sort of "accidentally" vegan menu items, by simply leaving out the non-veg ingredients, I'm always ecstatic when I find a restaurant that dedicates itself to beautiful intentional vegan fare. That's what I found at The Happy Hooligans.

The tortillas were soft and fresh, the sauce rich with chile and spice and flavor, and the cheese was melty and creamy. But the superstar here was the jackfruit, marinated in an authentic carnitas style that tastes like the Mexican food I used to love in my pre-veg days.

I've mentioned before that I'm not the biggest fan of fake meats, although I do see a clear and expanding place for them in the world. I prefer minimally processed, expertly prepared foods. And jackfruit is one of those things that, when done right, is practically perfect in every way. It's just one thing, from one plant, but it absorbs the flavors in sauces and marinades beautifully, while still holding it's texture. Jackfruit knows who it is, and it plays well with others. I think we can all learn from that.

What could have made my lunch even better? Well, not much, honestly. The fluffy, richly-flavored rice was delicious mixed with a little bit of the avocado (a generous half an avo), some whole black beans, and a smidge of the enchilada sauce. (I'm a bite mixer.) I never once reached for the extra sauce bottles on the table, or for the salt. The only thing I did ask for was a side of salad dressing for the crisp lettuce-and-tomato "garnish" that was really a side salad in itself. (Their ranch dressing is fabulous.)

I'm hoping for one more visit to The Happy Hooligans before I go back to Portland. If not this trip, for sure next time, and on many visits to come, to try some of the Asian dishes (like the Pho, Pad Thai, and Lemongrass Chick'n), the salads, burgers, mac and cheese, and of course a dessert or two (hello, dear cheesecake). I have a feeling though, that I'll always wander back to my first love in this wonderfully inconspicuous vegan comfort food haven.

Until we meet again, I'll be dreaming of those freaking amazing enchiladas.

I did go back the next day, and I had another delightful meal. This time I ordered the Chick'n Curry, packed with vegetables and and swimming in thick, spicy yellow curry gravy that was splendid with the nutty brown rice served alongside.

The guy sitting at the table next to me went for some of the breakfast items that aren't on the regular menu, but are sometimes served on weekends. I hopped right up and said, Ooh! Can I take a picture of that? What was he going to say? No? Haha!

I didn't go so far as to ask him for a bite, but he told me that The Happy Hooligans is his favorite restaurant, and he eats there all the time. Good enough.

Then... I ordered dessert. To go. And to share...

I know some folks think of cinnamon rolls as a breakfast item, but not me. I prefer to save my delectable white flour and sugar bombs for later in the day, maybe with an afternoon coffee. And the cheesecake, even later, with a sip or two of wine, made my mouth very, very happy. I gave most of it to my dad, because he loves cheesecake. I wasn't sneaky. I told him it was vegan, half expecting him to take one bite and say something like, Well, it's not like your mom used to make...

But no! He ate the whole slice, and said, This is really good. If you didn't tell me, I'd never know it was vegan. How about that?

Finally, I knew I was going to need some travel food for my trip back to Portland, so I ordered a jackfruit burrito for the road. Oh yeah, I got it bad for the jackfruit.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Easy Meatless Monday Recipe - Spicy Vegan Sloppy Joes

Living in Portland, I don't cook as much as I used to. There's so much great, affordable vegan food here, and I have such a crummy little kitchen, I'm just not feeling the recipe-inventing love. However,  a lot of you ask me for easy vegan recipes to either help you get started on a plant-based path, or add variety to your already-vegan diet. I'm happy to help with that! A little research turns up hundreds of great, simple plant-based recipes. I know you don't have a lot of time to filter through all that, so I'll dig around for recipes that look like something I'd like to try in my minimal kitchen, and share them with you here. Hope it helps! Enjoy!

This recipe comes from, and it looks like the perfect thing to toss together in a hurry, or to serve at a party. How about fancy little sliders instead of big ol' burgers? Looks like game day food to me!

Photo courtesy of
Spicy Vegan Sloppy Joes

cremini mushrooms
extra-virgin olive oil
large sweet onion
1 3/4 cups light beer (drink what's left in the bottle)
chopped walnuts
green bell pepper
black pepper
chipotle chile powder
tomato paste
whole grain hamburger buns
Shredded red cabbage or lettuce, pickled jalapeno and scallions, for serving, optional

Find the whole recipe at

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Eating Vegan (Pizza!) in San Jose

If you've been with me for a while here, you know that I often come to my old home town of San Jose (yes, I do know the way), to visit family. I'm the only vegan in the clan, so I usually end up eating a lot of salad, as nobody else is interested in finding vegan places with me.

On my most recent visit, I called a few old friends together for lunch, one of them Paul Graham, who wrote the groundbreaking blog and book entitled, Eating Vegan In Vegas. Paul recently moved back to San Jose, after several years in Las Vegas, and has now turned his attention to finding all the great vegan food in the Bay Area, and sharing it on his new blog, Eating Vegan Around the Bay. Lucky me to have such a friend to be my personal vegan food guide when I'm in town!

Our little group of four high school pals met up at Plant Based Pizza, on Meridian and Willow in the Willow Glen area of San Jose. It just happens to be very close to my dad's house, and that makes me very happy. I now have a good vegan pizza place to zip over to any time the rest of the family is having... something else.

The location is small and inconspicuous, tucked in around the corner from busy Meridian Avenue, and across the street from a Starbucks. It's funky and hip on the inside, with a few tables, a counter to order at, and a couple of picnic tables outside. Nothing fancy to look at, but as I started asking around the neighborhood later, I found that they're making quite a name for themselves, and for good reason. The pizza is great. Not just passable-for-vegan-pizza, but, in my Pizza Queen Opinion (Rick and I once owned and operated a killer pizza shop in Seattle), far better than most mainstream pies out there.

Each table displayed one of these little signs, telling people who might not know, about some of the virtues of eating vegan food, even if it's just for one meal. This is the kind of positive food talk I favor.

We ordered three different "personal" pizzas, which were generously sized at 10 inches, plus a pesto "steak" sandwich that I didn't get a good picture of. But check out these little beauties! All of them were just super, with nice chewy crusts that deserve to be eaten all up, and Daiya* cheese to hold all the goodness together.

This is the Greek Style, with white sauce, spinach, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, and olives. This one was on the gluten free crust, which was a good, real pizza crust, not a creepy sawdust cracker imposter. 
This is the Indian Style - a garam masala and curry delight that was totally delicious, although it could have been a lot spicier for some of us.
And saving the best for last, the Texan BBQ takes me happily back in time to a similar version we used to make in Seattle. This wonderful, alternatively flavored pizza features vegan chick'n that's been marinated in a zippy-sweet BBQ sauce, along with green onions and fresh cilantro. Maybe I liked it best because I ordered it. Or maybe I just have a knack for ordering the best!
Good pizza + good friends = a happy afternoon. Thank you, my friends, and thank you Plant Based Pizza!


* Most people pronounce "Daiya" wrong. Wanna be the smart kid? Here you go, from the Daiya website, because these things are important to me...

How do you pronounce Daiya?

We pronounce Daiya as “day-ah” as in “have a nice Daiya!” The name arose from a play on the words ‘dairy’ and ‘Dayaa’ which is Sanskrit for “loving, kindness, and compassion”.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Easy Meatless Monday Recipe - Sugar Snap Pea and Carrot Soba Noodles

Living in Portland, I don't cook as much as I used to. There's so much great, affordable vegan food here, and I have such a crummy little kitchen, I'm just not feeling the recipe-inventing love. However,  a lot of you ask me for easy vegan recipes to either help you get started on a plant-based path, or add variety to your already-vegan diet. I'm happy to help with that! A little research turns up hundreds of great, simple plant-based recipes. I know you don't have a lot of time to filter through all that, so I'll dig around for recipes that look like something I'd like to try in my minimal kitchen, and share them with you here. Hope it helps! Enjoy!

Pretty photo and recipe from Thank you!
This looks just beautiful, and simple to make. I know it's fall, but this recipe holds onto summer just a little bit longer...

Sugar Snap Pea and Carrot Soba Noodles

Here's what's in it:

soba noodles
frozen organic edamame
sugar snap peas or snow peas
fresh cilantro
sesame seeds
Ginger-sesame sauce:
tamari or soy sauce
quality peanut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
lime, juiced
toasted sesame oil
agave nectar
white miso
freshly grated ginger
chili garlic sauce or sriracha

Look good? Find the whole recipe at!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Vtopia is the New Happy Place for Vegan Cheese Lovers

We. Love. Cheese.
And yes, vegans have pretty much had to do without (good) cheese up until just the last few years.

Things have changed though, and chefs have gotten more and more creative and skillful with their plant based cheese alchemy. There are lots of great vegan cheeses on the market now, as well as recipe books for the at home cheesemakers among us. I dabble in cheesemaking myself, but you know what? It's a lot of work, and really good cheese is not an instant thing.

As with dairy cheese, plant based cheese done well is a days (or weeks) long process that allows the cheese to culture and develop all that wonderful cheesy flavor that can't be faked with and amount of nooch, vinegar or lemon juice. So when someone comes along who does it really well, and is willing to sell it, I'm an automatic fan.

Welcome to Portland, Vtopia Cheese Shop and Deli! This new venture ("the 2nd all-vegan cheese shop in the country and the first in the PNW"), by the folks at Eugene, OR based Vtopian Artisan Cheeses is a vegan cheese-lover's dream come true. It's also a safe haven for anyone who can't eat dairy, whether they're vegan or not. There's not a drop of animal anything in the entire place, and everything is incredibly delicious.

I went to the grand opening a while back, and was dazzled by a long table filled with over 40 different types of vegan cheese, plus breads, crackers, and fruits to accompany them. I fell in love with every cheese I tasted, and wanted to sneak off into a corner to be alone with some of them. Yeah. Love.

I think the main focus of the shop right now is the large cheese display case, where there's always a great variety of cheeses ready to jump into your car and go home with you. The deli menu is small but growing, and I see great things for this cozy little place in Portland's Goose Hollow neighborhood, on Jefferson, near 17th.

If you have time, stick around and order a panini or other melty grilled sandwich. Rick and I have been back twice for lunch. The basic grilled cheese panini is wonderful, and the tempeh reuben is one of my favorite sandwiches ever, made with creamy, melty cheese, and delicious purple house-made sauerkraut on organic bread from New Seasons Market.

When you go, step inside and go straight to what I think of as the Vegan Dream Cheese Case. Peruse your options for take-home, and then look up above the opening to the kitchen and see what the food options for the day are. Order something. Anything. Then choose a nice table either inside, or out on the patio, next to a most amazing old bent tree. And if you have any questions, do ask. The friendly owners and their small staff are happy to chat and eager to please. Want a slice of tomato in that panini? Done deal!

And soon you'll be able to order an adult beverage to sip while you wait. I saw an application for a liquor license in the window. Wine and cheese? Oh, yes, please! Bring your skeptical non-vegan friends and share the cheesy love. They'll soon begin to understand that vegan cheese, actually is real cheese, and they'll stop thinking you live a sad and deprived existence. Cheers to that!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Easy Meatless Monday Recipe - Cauliflower and Chickpea Stew with Couscous

Living in Portland, I don't cook as much as I used to. There's so much great, affordable vegan food here, and I have such a crummy little kitchen, I'm just not feeling the recipe-inventing love. However,  a lot of you ask me for easy vegan recipes to either help you get started on a plant-based path, or add variety to your already-vegan diet. I'm happy to help with that! A little research turns up hundreds of great, simple plant-based recipes. I know you don't have a lot of time to filter through all that, so I'll dig around for recipes that look like something I'd like to try in my own itsy-bitsy kitchen, and share them with you here. Hope it helps! Enjoy!

Photo and recipe from Thanks!

Cauliflower and Chickpea Stew with Couscous

Here's what's in it:

olive oil
ground cumin
ground ginger
salt and black pepper
canned whole tomatoes
canned chickpeas
baby spinach
couscous (I'd substitute quinoa)

Look good? I think so, especially as I look outside on this foggy fall morning, and wonder what to make for dinner tonight. Find the whole recipe at!