Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian’

After I went vegan, a little over a year ago, I dramatically cut down on my sweet intake, mostly because it was a lot more difficult to find cookies, cakes, and other dessert-type items that weren’t made with eggs and milk. In recent months, I have been expanding my baking horizons. I purchased Kelly Peloza’s Vegan Cookie Connoisseur and had a great time trying out the recipes.

For Easter, though, even though there were only three of us, Alan, myself, and my son, David, I felt that we needed something a little more than cookies, something more special.

Did I plan for this? No, I did not. I decided on Easter Sunday, at lunch time, that it would be nice to have something for dessert. What to do?

I don’t have a lot of vegan cookbooks. I have Tanya’s cookbook, of course, Native Foods being our only vegan restaurant in the desert I had to show support. I also have Viva Vegan and Vegan with a Vengeance on my Ipad. I skimmed through the desserts in those books, my main requirement being that I needed to have the ingredients (or at least most of them) on hand.

I finally found the recipe I wanted in the American Vegan Kitchen, “Pineapple Upside Down Cake.” I had all the important ingredients, like flour, baking powder, and well, pineapple. I substituted the flaxseed with EnerG Egg Replacer, the dried cherries with raisins, and the soy milk with almond milk, and added pecans to the topping. All reasonable substitutions. My big problem was when the instructions said, “using an 8″ round cake pan.”

Uh oh. The last time I baked a cake, well, I’d guess Ronald Reagan was president. Even though I have many older items in my kitchen (I just recently replaced my original, mustard colored crock pot), there was no cake pan to be found. My choices were few, but I settled on a 8″ish glass baking dish. Not too different, right?

Well, the directions said to bake for a half hour. At that time, I slid a knife into the cake to check if it was done. Nope. Actually, it was so gooey I worried that the outside would burn before the inside was cooked through. It ended up taking about 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes, my cake looked ready.

I'm proud!

Now, all you cake bakers may scoff at my results. The texture wasn’t perfect, the outside was just a little overcooked, and it wasn’t as pretty as it should have been, but, well, it tasted pretty damn good. My husband and son loved it. And that was good enough for me.

Looks satisfied, doesn't he?

I was inspired by my success. A few days later, I purchased both a round and a square cake pan. I’m ready for the next holiday!

Now I'm ready!


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Yes, I know my title sounds overly dramatic, but I needed to finally finish out our weekend in La Jolla (since it was already more than a week ago!). I promised I’d post about eating in Encinitas (following up my post about eating vegan in La Jolla).

After the race, we cleaned up, checked out, then headed up the coast toward Encinitas. North County San Diego has been our hang out for a long time. I went to high school in Fallbrook, so ‘going to the beach’ meant the Leucadia/Encinitas area. Early in our relationship (which just hit the 15 year mark this month!), Alan and I would spend a couple weekends a month during the summer. We’d run, go to the beach, enjoy the cool weather, then when we started cycling, we’d bring our bikes and ride. I even have a favorite spa that I visit occasionally in Leucadia.

Because we love the area so much, we were very happy when we went vegetarian that there were many ‘veggie-friendly’ restaurants there, like the Roxy, Swami’s, and even my favorite Italian restaurant when I ate meat, Gusto’s. So, when we headed north last weekend, I had a destination in mind, the Lotus Cafe.

Although they serve meat, they are still very veggie/vegan friendly. Their menu explicitly designates what is vegetarian, what is vegan or can be made vegan, or what is vegan with the exception of containing honey. It is a very useful tool.

By the time we arrived, I was really hungry. After running the half marathon, I had nibbled on a banana, but I hadn’t felt very good, so that was all that I ate. Fortunately, I was feeling better and my appetite had returned. Unfortunately, the line (one orders at the counter, then they bring it to your table) was out the front door. We contemplated going somewhere else, but figured we’d spend the same amount of time looking for another place that might be just as busy. We grabbed a couple menus and settled in to wait.

The line moved quickly and we soon made our way to the counter. The young lady who took our order was very friendly and helpful. I wanted food right away, so I ordered the lentil soup that was on special, plus the ‘Tempting Tamale.’ Alan ordered the “Avocado Heaven” sandwich, was was billed as honey vegan because the bread contained honey.

My soup came quickly and I dug in. It came with a slice of whole grain bread, which I verified with our server that was vegan. She assured me that it was. The soup was tasty, but not hot enough. I was way too hungry to wait any longer, so I started eating it anyway. Our entrees were served quickly, before I finished the soup. Usually, that annoys me, but I was hungry enough to just be happy to see more food.

Because our main courses came so quickly, I was able to compare my slice of bread with the bread that Alan’s sandwich was on (I didn’t take a picture). They looked exactly the same! Mine was supposed to be vegan, and his had honey in it. Hmmm. Not being in the mood for that kind of discussion, I just let it go and did not eat the bread.

My tamale was indeed tempting. It was served with rice, beans, a small salad, and a sauce that could have been a little spicier. It was still very good and hit the spot.

Our meal, including the soup, came to about $20. Not cheap, but not too bad for a tasty, healthy lunch. I would recommend the Lotus Cafe, but make sure that you ask questions (just like you would at any non-vegan restaurant) to make sure you are getting what you want. The service was fast and friendly and the food was good. There is a pleasant ambiance and lot of patio seating. I’ll be back.

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Yes, it is possible to eat vegan at a La Jolla restaurant. And I don’t mean visiting a random, omnivoric (is that a word?) restaurant, asking a million questions, only to be served something that either has bits of chicken in it (yes, that has happened to me), or to settle on a salad and hope that someone in the kitchen doesn’t think it would be ‘better’ with cheese shredded over the top.

For our visit to the area last weekend, we really only had one meal to deal with, dinner. We left a little later than normal, so lunch was home cooked. Since I was running the half marathon in the morning, and Alan was announcing the 5k, breakfast would consist of fruit and Clif Bars. After the event, we would be checking out and heading up to Encinitas for lunch. Encinitas is much, um, friendlier for vegans (more on that later).

Of course, we had gone through this last year, my first as a vegan. Fortunately, for us and for the veggie community as a whole, there is HappyCow.net, and their mobile app for Android. Thanks to Happy Cow, I had discovered that there were no vegan restaurants within walking distance (or anywhere actually in La Jolla). Fortunately, the app also lists veggie-friendly restaurants, and yes, there was one in town.

Now, La Jolla is a high end town, with a lot of high end restaurants. Don Carlos Taco Shop, reviewed on Happy Cow as ‘just a taco stand,’ is not. It is a tiny place, with four tables, a menu posted on the wall, where you order at the counter. Although they serve meat, and the standard, cheese-laden fare, they do have a vegetarian menu (also full of diary). They also have, both on their online menu and on their wall, a welcome sign: “If you are vegan, let us know.”

They also state that they use no lard or stock in any of their food. I ordered the mushroom tofu burrito. It was huge and delicious! And it was only $4.85! Alan had the Vegi Burrito, also huge, for the same price. The ambiance may leave something to be desired, but the food definitely does not. It is excellent Mexican food, healthy, huge and all at a very reasonable price.

Coming up in my next post: Lunch at the Lotus Cafe in Encinitas.

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