• Restaurants

    OC Weekly Vegan Pop Up

    This past weekend, we went to check out this new weekly pop happening in Santa Ana, CA. It is hosted by Vegan By El Zamorano, the vegan offshoot of Taqueria El Zamorano.

    The set up is small but cozy. The event takes place in the parking lot. There is a rotating list of vendors, usually about 4-6 vendors, each week. They pretty much cover all your favorites: tacos, tamales and desserts. They have a small covered patio with picnic benches to enjoy while you fill your bellies.

    This weekend, in addition to El Zamorano, the other vendors were: Eat Yiju, Bianca’s Tamales, Sweet Vegan Delights and Nieves Exquisitas.

    Taco Plate from Vegan By El Zamorano

    Our first stop was obviously El Zamorano because tacos. We ordered a couple of each tacos and a taco plate with rice and beans. Our fave taco was the carne asada! Just the right texture and marinade, topped with delicious salsa and fresh cilantro and onion. Street taco heaven! And the beans and rice were fantastic! The beans were perfectly cooked and the rice was nice and fluffy.

     

    Next up was Eat Yiju for these gorgeous dumplings! I loved hearing about Susan’s story and how she is carrying on her families legacy through her love of dumplings. She is super rad. And her dumplings are out of this world. The dough was tender with a slight chew. And the filling was made of veggies and soyrizo which was served with red pickled cabbage. I should have ordered more. SO MANY MORE. Days later, I am still craving them!

    Yo-Soy-Rizo dumplings. OMG.

    We also checked out the tamales from Bianca’s..and totally forgot to take pictures while stuffing our faces! My fave was the Rajas tamal. Filled with chilies and cheeze, enveloped in flavorful masa, this was the clear winner! All tamales are served topped with salsa verde, a drizzle of crema and a dusting of parmesan.

    And, we ended the day with a few scoops of ice cream from Nieves Exquisitas. Technically, its is sorbet as they puree fruit, add some sugar and water and freeze. But what results is a creamy, decadent, ice cream! I kid you not. The coconut was pure and creamy and contained little flecks of coconut. My second favorite was peach-it was just like biting into a fresh peach! Nothing artificial here! I am looking forward to seeing more of them around town as they don’t have a storefront. So get them when you can!

    Peach Perfection
    Creamy Coconut

    And I can’t believe it..but we left without getting cookies. Though our friends that we were with really raved about the shortbread thumbprint cookies from Sweet Vegan Delights! They even have dog treats for your pups. Cookies all around..yay!

    We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out with friends that trickled into the event. It was a gorgeous SoCal day and this event was a perfect way to spend the day. I loved that there was a great selection of foods and that the event was low key enough that you felt you could stay a while and hang out with friends. And hopefully hit up the vendors for round #2.

    For more info on this week’s pop up and schedule of vendors, be sure to follow Vegan by El Zamorano on IG!

    See ya there….

     

  • Meal Ideas

    Southwest Chick’n Salad

    The usual punchline is that all vegans eat are salads. Don’t get me wrong, we enjoy a great salad but that’s not all we eat! And when we do eat salads-WE GO ALL OUT! We make GIANT salads loaded with all kinds of good stuff. Delicious, fresh and filling, this is one of our favorite salads and will leave you so satisfied on your hungriest of days!

    Southwest Chick’n Salad

    For 1 salad, you’ll need…

    Salad greens-I use bagged Romaine but feel free to use whatever you’d like! I’ve even used a lettuce mix with cabbage and carrots because that’s all I could find at the store.

    Boca Chicken Nuggets cooked per directions and sliced. I use 3 nuggets per salad. (PS. I throw these in my airfryer. If you don’t have one, I HIGHLY suggest adding one to your kitchen!)

    1/2 cup Black Beans, drained and rinsed.

    1/2 cup corn, drained and rinsed. I use fresh frozen that can be thawed quickly!

    Cherry tomatoes, quartered.

    Avocado, chopped.

    Tortilla Strips. These are vegan friendly!

    Buffalo Sauce

    Ranch dressing

     

    Here’s how you do it..

    Layer everything into your dish…

    Greens.

    Black beans

    Corn

    Sliced Chick’n Nuggets

    Avocado

    Cherry tomatoes

    Tortilla strips

    Drizzle of Buffalo sauce

    Drizzle of Ranch dressing

    Enjoy!!!

     

    And there you have it, a super delicious salad that comes together in just a matter of minutes! Let me know if you try this out!

     

  • Meal Ideas

    Potato Patty Perfection!

    When I was a kid, my mom used to make potato patties on the regular. These little pillows were a mix of my favorite things-soft, fluffy potatoes and cheesy goodness-fried to perfection. I’ve tried to veganize these in the past but failed-miserably. Thanks to the VeganEgg by Follow Your Heart, I was able to enjoy these once again!

    Look at that golden potato goodness!

    If you want to try these at home, here’s how you do it:

    You’ll need…

    5-6 Yukon gold potatoes (this will yield about 14 patties depending on size)

    FYH’s VeganEgg-prepare the equivalent of  HALF of one vegan egg prepared with water.

    1/2c or so of your fave vegan cheese. I used Daiya‘s mozzarella cheese.

    Salt and Pepper

    Flour for dredging+1 teaspoon

    Cast Iron pan

    Saucepan

    Potato Masher

    Oil for frying

    Toppings-Sour cream and fresh Pico de Gallo salsa!

    And here’s how you do it:

    1. Chop potatoes into cubes and add to saucepan. Boil until cooked through. Drain and set aside until potatoes are cooled.
    2. Once potatoes are cooled, mash potatoes until creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
    3. Heat frying pan and oil over medium heat. Oil should be about an inch deep.
    4. While oil is heating, add cheese to potatoes and 1 tsp of flour to potatoes. Mix well.
    5. Add vegan egg and stir until combined well. The potato dough should stick together well enough to form potato balls (about golf ball size)
    6. GENTLY flatten the potato balls. Don’t make them too thin, you’ll want them to puffy little pillows. If you make them too thin, they’ll fall apart.
    7. Just before adding patties to hot oil, dredge them in flour on both sides. You want to get a nice coating on them!
    8. Fry until brown on one side. While cooking, you can use a spoon to put some of the oil on the exposed size of the patty. Flip carefully and cook on the other side. You’ll want a nice dark brown on them.
    9. Place cooked patties on paper towel lined dish and repeat until all patties are cooked.
    10. Serve immediately with your fave toppings. Rice is also a great side dish for these!

    Give it a try and let me know what you think!

  • Meal Ideas

    Monte Cristo, please!

    Feeling a little inspired by my love for all things Disneyland, a local pop up restaurant and at the urging of the hubs, I whipped up some Monte Cristo sandwiches for dinner last night! And let me tell you…THEY WERE HEAVEN.

    They came together fairly easily and quickly which would make this a great recipe to keep on hand. And the sweet and savory combo is great for when you just can’t decide what you’re in the mood for! I served this along side some beer battered fries but feel free to serve this along side anything-from fresh fruit to salads. It’s all amazing.

    Now, I am no perfect recipe writer but I’ll try to walk you through what I did so you can recreate this classic at home.

    You’ll need:

    Texas Toast sliced bread-I buy the Rainbo brand at Von’s. If you can’t find Rainbo in your area, look for a THICK SLICED fluffy bread.

    Tofurky Ham style deli slices. You can also add some Turkey style slices as well. I used 2 slices of each variety for each sandwich.

    Follow Your Heart Gouda slices. I used 2 slices of cheese per sandwich.

    Follow Your Heart VeganEgg prepared with your fave plant based milk. I used soy milk and I only needed to prepare the equivalent of one egg for 2 sandwiches! This may be a little thick if you want to dunk your ENTIRE sandwich into the batter. You’ll need to thin it out a bit. Otherwise, its perfect for dipping like you do french toast. If you don’t have VeganEgg, you can use your fave french toast batter.

    Mustard

    Mayo

    Butter or oil for frying. I used Earth Balance.

    Cast Iron Pan or griddle

    Powdered sugar

    Preserves-Strawberry is fantastic!

    Maple Syrup

    And here is how it all came together:

    1. Heat pan over medium heat until hot.
    2. While pan is heating, prepare your batter and set aside. Make sure to use a bowl that is deep enough for dipping your sandwich.
    3. Assemble your sandwiches! Spread mayo and mustard on each slice of bread. You don’t need a lot. Just like you’re making a regular lunch sandwich. Then layer a slice of cheese, add your deli slices (alternate if using more than one variety) add another slice of cheese and add your top slice of bread.
    4. Add butter (or oil) to your hot pan and allow to melt.
    5. Dip your assembled sandwich into your batter and place dipped sandwich in the pan.
    6. Cook until nice and brown on the first side and then flip your sandwich over to cook on the other side.
    7. Remove cooked sandwich from pan and set aside.
    8. Repeat with remaining sandwiches.

    Allow your sandwich to cool for a minute before trying to handle it. Slice your sandwich in half and dust lightly with powdered sugar. Serve with strawberry preserves and maple syrup!

    Enjoy!

     

     

  • Product Reviews

    BEYOND SAUSAGE ROLLS OUT NATIONWIDE!

    If you haven’t gotten to try out the new Beyond Sausage at select Veggie Grill‘s, no worries! Beyond Sausage is headed to your nearest Whole Foods!  Just announced this morning, you can now find it in the meat section.

    I was able to try this new product at ExpoWest and let me tell you, it was just like pork based sausage! It had a snap and sizzle to it unlike any other vegan sausage product. I can’t wait to recreate all my fave dishes with this tasty item! It comes in 3 different flavors: Original, Spicy and Sweet. Gluten, Soy and GMO free with 16 grams of plant based protein per serving. HOLY SMOKES! This is a game changer and I am here for it!

    Have you tried it yet? What did you think!? Let me know!

    My taste at ExpoWest! HOOKED!

     

  • Meal Ideas

    Spinach & Tofu Tacos

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    Spinach & Tofu tacos topped with salsa verde and chopped cilantro.

    A local restaurant that we go to has weekly specials. One of their specials was called “Popeye’s Tacos” and my hubby loves them! There is nothing fancy about them but the flavors are so good. I decided to try to replicate these at home and they were a success! Here is what you’ll need to make them at home:

    1 Package Extra Firm Tofu, drained and pressed

    8oz Baby Spinach leaves (I used a small clamshell package but you can adjust more or less depending on your love of spinach)

    1 TBSP oil

    1 TBSP Earth Balance

    Salt

    Pepper

    Corn tortillas for serving

    Your favorite salsa (I used a salsa verde I had on hand but a red salsa would also do lovely here)

    Fresh chopped cilantro for sprinkling.

    1. Shred the tofu using a box grater. You can use a handheld grater but make sure the holes are big. Don’t attempt to use a zester, that won’t work.

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    2. Heat cast iron pan over medium high heat until hot. Once the pan is hot, add in oil and Earth Balance butter. Allow oil and butter to get to temperature.

    3. Once oil and Earth Balance are hot, drop in shredded tofu. Season with salt and pepper and give it a stir.

    4. Let the tofu cook on one side, without stirring, until you see a nice golden color and crisp form. Once you see the golden color, flip using a thin spatula. Allow to cook on second side using the same method.

    5. Once tofu is cooked, add in spinach and stir to wilt down the spinach and heat through.

    6. Fill your tortillas with the spinach and tofu mix, top with salsa and any other toppings and enjoy!

    These tacos would pair well with breakfast potatoes or rice and beans for an easy dinner!

  • Product Reviews

    Sun & Earth

     

    I love their packaging, too!
    I love their packaging, too!

    I discovered this brand at ExpoWest earlier this spring and had the opportunity to try some of their products in my home.  I was given a bottle of dish soap, multipurpose cleaner, laundry detergent and a canister of multipurpose cleaning wipes. I immediately put these products to work to see how they fared and here is the breakdown:

    Fresh Lavender Liquid Dish Soap-First, this soap smells amazing. It has a nice fresh, light lavender scent. Honestly, I didn’t mind doing the dishes because the soap smelled so amazing. Also, I am a firm believer that if the soap isn’t bubbly, it isn’t cleaning. And, this soap passed the bubble test. It foamed wonderfully and didn’t take much to get the same amount of suds that it would take from my existing cleaner. This soap got even the dirtiest of dishes squeaky clean! It also did a wonderful job cleaning plastic storage containers. I always feel like other cleaners leave behind a film, especially on plastic, and this soap didn’t!

    All Purpose Spray Cleaner-As with the rest of the products, this has a light citrus scent. I love that these products didn’t have a chemical smell to them and the citrus scent was a mood lifter when I was stuck doing chores. I used this cleaner for cleaning my wood cutting board and wiping down my counters. The cleaner easily picked up any messes and left my tile counters sparkling!

    Natural Laundry Detergent-I admit I was hesitant to try this because the hubby has really sensitive skin and most products leave him itchy. This detergent was so gentle, it has not caused any issues for him. Our clothes are left feeling soft and smelling wonderfully! I have used this detergent to wash our pets bedding and had great results. The smelly dog odor was gone and a light citrus scent was all that remained.

    Natural All Surface Wipes-These are wonderful wipes to have handy for quick cleanup! The towelette holds up nicely to light scrubbing, too. These are perfect to keep on hand for emergencies when you are out and about as well!

    Overall, I really enjoyed these Sun & Earth products! And I love the fact that all of their products are vegan, cruelty free and made in the USA. I was a big fan of another brand, who shall remain nameless, but Sun & Earth has gained a new loyal customer.

    You can find out more about their product lineup or to shop online, visit their website at www.sunandearth.com.

    I hope you love their products as much as I do!

  • Meal Ideas

    Spicy Quesadillas!

    Sometimes, you just throw something together and it winds up being one of the best things ever. I just happened to go to Trader Joe’s that day and saw their awesome Chile and Onion tortillas. And I quickly realized they would make the best quesadillas. So, I picked up some soyrizo (their vegan soyrizo is back, FYI!) and headed home.

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    Spicy quesadillas served with tots.

    Here’s how I did it:

    Ingredients

    • Trader Joe’s Chile and Onion Tortillas (2 per quesadilla)
    • Soyrizo
    • your favorite vegan cheese (I used Daiya cheddar shreds)
    • Any garnishments you’d like

    Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
    2. While oven is heating, brown soyrizo in a small pan. This should take about 5 minutes. Remove soyrizo from heat once it’s browned to your liking.
    3. Take one tortilla and place it on the cookie sheet. Sprinkle your cheese all over the tortilla. Then do the same with the soyrizo. Then top with a second tortilla.
    4. Place the assembled quesadillas in the oven and about about 7-10 minutes. You want the tortilla to be crispy and the cheese melted.
    5. Remove from oven and slice into wedges. Pizza cutters work wonders here!
    6. Serve alongside garnishments and your favorite sides. Since these quesadillas are spicy, cool garnishments like non-dairy sour cream, guacamole or fresh salsa would work best.

    Enjoy!

  • Uncategorized

    The Oil Cleansing Method

    I’ve heard of this for a while now but have put off trying it because I was afraid of it. I mean, cleaning your face with oil to get clear skin? It sounds so counter-intuitive, right? But, as I get a little older, I’ve noticed changes in my skin that my regular skin care routine just didn’t seem to address. Enter, The Oil Cleansing Method.

    After much research about the method (I found this site to be the most helpful http://www.theoilcleansingmethod.com/) and different oils and blends, I finally decided to give it a go.

    Since my skin tends to be really sensitive, susceptible to breakouts and redness, I chose to use grapeseed oil in my blend. I found these oils at my local Sprouts grocery store. I also picked up a glass amber bottle with dropper to make life a bit easier.

    20141129_150751

    I decided to go with a 30/70 blend, 30% Castor Oil and 70% grapeseed oil. The first few days, I mixed it up each time in a small bowl until I was sure that percentage blend would work for me. Once I knew that was the blend for me, I went ahead a mixed a bigger batch that I put into my glass bottle.

    Every night, I apply my oil blend to my face. The oils work to remove my makeup (even mascara!) effortlessly. Make sure that you spend plenty of time working on areas that are prone to blemishes. If you feel any developing, spend some extra time massaging that particular area. Also, spend extra time in areas prone to blackheads. You can actually feel them being lifted out of your pores. I then take a washcloth and run it under warm water. I let that sit on my face for a few minutes, then use the cloth to wipe my face. I do this about 4 times to make sure I get everything wiped away. I use a small amount of my blend, about 3 small drops, to massage into my face after my cleansing. This helps hydrate your skin and allows for the cleansing properties of the castor oil to soak into your pores. In the morning, I wipe my face with a warm washcloth followed by 3 small drops of my oil.

    I have been using this method for about 3 weeks now and I have noticed huge improvements in my skin. Just in one use, I noticed that my skin was super soft. But since then, I have noticed that some of my dark spots have lightened or completely disappeared. Any blemishes that might be under the surface don’t seem to fully develop. In addition to the increasing softness of my skin, I finally have the nice “dewy” glow that my skin never seemed to have. I highly suggest using this method for your daily skin care regimen. It gives great results without those expensive cleansers!

    Try it out and let me know what you think!

     

     

  • Meal Ideas

    Taquitos featuring Beyond Meat

    I love that there are so many vegan meat alternatives! Everyone has their own personal favorites, too. Most of the time I cook with Gardein at home because I have found Beyond Meat a bit difficult to work with. It’s tasty when I have prepared for me but I just can’t seem to cook it right at home…until now. After a few attempts, I have found the best way to prepare it, especially for taquitos, though the possibilities are endless. Here is how I did it:

    Ingredients

    • 1 Package Beyond Meat Chicken Strips (any variety)
    • 1 Poblano chile
    • 4 cups veggie broth
    • 1/4 onion
    • 1 medium tomato
    • 1 Serrano chile
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • Juice from 1/2 lime
    • Cilantro (about a handful)
    • Corn tortillas
    • Oil for frying
    • Garnishes i.e. guacamole, salsa verde, pico de gallo salsa, non dairy sour cream, etc.

    Directions

    1. Roast the Poblano chile on the stove top until blackened on all side. Once it’s fully blackened, wrap the chile in a cloth towel or plastic bag and allow it to sweat for 5-10 minutes. Then, peel the charred skin off the chile, remove the stem and cut a slit in the side to remove the seeds. Set aside.
    2. In a medium pot, add Beyond Meat strips, broth, tomato, onion and Serrano chile. Bring to boil. Boil until the strips are swollen and are very tender.
    3. Once the strips are ready, use a slotted spoon to remove the strips. Shred the strips using two forks until all the strips are finely shredded. Put the shredded strips into a large bowl. Set aside.
    4. Using the slotted spoon, remove the tomato, onion and serrano chile from the pot and put them in your blender jar. Add the Poblano chile, cilantro, salt and lime juice. Puree until almost smooth.
    5. Add the salsa to the shredded meat and mix thoroughly.
    6. Add oil (about an inch) to pan and heat over medium heat. While this is heating, warm up your tortillas.
    7. When tortillas are warmed, fill with meat and roll up. You’ll want to work in batches here. I usually put about 5 taquitos in my pan at once. Place the taquitos, seam side down, in the hot oil. Cook until crispy on all sides (be sure to turn them to get a uniform crisp.)
    8. Remove cooked taquitos from pan and place on paper towel to drain while you cook the rest of the taquitos.
    9. Top with your favorite garnishments and enjoy!

    This filling would work well with various recipes like tamales, enchiladas or use it as a base for other fillings.

    Enjoy!

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