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48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

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I’m very lucky to live in Denver, a really vegan-friendly city, but when I travel I love love LOVE eating my way through the vegan options in other cities. This week I had a quick work trip to DC, 48 hours exactly, and wow did I eat well!

Sunday afternoon:

First stop (after checking into my Alexandria hotel) was Sticky Fingers,  the famous all-vegan bakery and cafe Doron Petersan opened after winning Cupcake Wars with her delicious vegan cupcakes. Their menu is full of tempting foods, but I narrowed it down to the Loaded Sweet Potato Fries (with chili, house-made cashew cheddar & salsa, avocado, and a side of soy sour cream) and a cup of Cheesy Mac, with a coconut water to drink. And of course the book I was reading- American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst.

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

I went with two appetizers, rather than an entree, so that I could try more. I knew I’d likely only eat here this one time, so it made sense to me. It was still too much food though, I wasn’t able to finish everything. 

The Cheesy Mac was my favorite- so hot and creamy and flavorful! You could tell it was made with their own house-blend of cheesy goodness, and would have been perfect on its own, in the larger bowl portion!

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

I had expected the loaded fries to be my fave, because I love me some sweet taters, and nachos are always on my wish list, but sadly… they didn’t live up to my expectations. I mean, they were good- and I think if they had been prepared the way they were meant to be, they would’ve been fantastic! But while the fries themselves were hot, the toppings were all barely room temperature, even the chili. Oh well. They were still good, and I’d definitely recommend them, when made right. And of course, I could’ve complained and had them remade, but I just didn’t feel like it. 

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

I’ll try Sticky Fingers again the next time I’m in DC. I think it just wasn’t what I wanted that afternoon. I wanted a comfy place to sit and read my book and enjoy a glass of wine with my meal, which just isn’t Sticky Fingers. Which is okay! I think it would be the most fun place to have brunch with a group of friends, or to stuff my face with cupcakes. I’m sorry I didn’t order a boozy milkshake on my way out, but I was just too full. 

So I got back on the metro, stopped at the mall to see cherry blossoms, and then headed back to my hotel, with visions of sugarplums sparkling rosé dancing in my head. Unfortunately, our hotel (while close to the King St. station) wasn’t in Old Town. It was in a very business-park like area which not much in the way of restaurants or bars, so I ended up in my hotel bar, The Trademark. It was nice, but a little pricey and didn’t have a ton of options (although they did offer a Vegan Mushroom Ravioli entree for $24). I was still full, so I just had a glass of rosé (not sparkling, which made me sad).

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

In hindsight, I really wish I had saved Sticky Fingers for another day. I was tired from the flight and really wanted wine. Knowing myself I would’ve been happier finding a restaurant with both booze AND vegan options (like Busboys and Poets, my DC fave!). Lesson learned!

Monday afternoon:

I just had coffee for breakfast, and didn’t take a picture, but lunch was at the Census Bureau cafeteria, which isn’t actually that bad! I saw they offer a veggie burger, although I didn’t want to stand in line to ask if it was vegan. There were a lot of prepared foods, some of which looked like they might be good, but I settled on the salad bar, where I loaded up with baby greens, roasted beets, chickpeas, bulgar wheat, carrots, celery, tomatoes, edamame, sesame sticks and a little balsamic vinaigrette, with a side of prepared Asian veggie noodle salad. Because I’m an introvert, I shunned all my colleagues from the conference and ate by myself with my book, which made me happy 🙂

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

Monday evening:

When the conference ended at 5, I was back on the metro… this time headed to the Gallery Pl/Chinatown station. Destination? Busboys and Poets, of course! Of all the amazing restaurants I’ve tried in DC over the years, this is my favorite. I love the vibe (inclusiveness, political awareness, acceptance) and of course I love the food. Each time I’ve been, I’ve sat at the bar with my book and each time have ended up with the book down, chatting with the people next to me. 

And, each time, I’ve ordered something different from the menu… and there’s still so much to try! This time I went with the Coconut Tofu Bites, served with a plum-red pepper sauce. In my pregan days I was a big fan of coconut shrimp, and that’s EXACTLY what these tasted like, minus the cruelty! The sweet coconut they were fried in, along with that sauce!? Amazing. The best thing I ate on this trip for sure.

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

There were 10 or 12 of them on that plate, all hot and crispy and calling my name. But I’m proud to say I didn’t eat all of them myself! I started chatting with Ron, the guy sitting next to me. He was in his young 20’s and had been vegetarian for a few years, which I found very cool. I love meeting young veggies because they are totally the future of our movement. I also liked that he had lots of tattoos, just like me 🙂  Not all vegans and vegetarians are that stereotypical old hippies, you know!? And it didn’t hurt that he was cute af, haha. His friend wasn’t vegetarian, but had tried to go vegetarian in middle school after learning about the cruelties of using animals for food, which I thought was great, even though it didn’t stick. Anyway, I forced them to each try a coconut bite, because these things were just too good not to share! 

Anyway, I knew I needed some veggies, so I also ordered a side salad:

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

This was a side-sized portion of the Busboys House salad, a mix of baby kale, tomatoes, carrots, jicama, tons of sesame seeds, and an amazing yuzu vinaigrette. It was citrusy and a little sweet, just perfect. Other than worrying about the sesame seeds stuck in my teeth, I really enjoyed this salad.  And all this great food was washed down by a two pints of Devil’s Backbone Vienna Lager, a local beer from Virginia. Darker than what I usually like, but really good!

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

Oh, and then there was dessert! I really wasn’t hungry but after skipping sweets the day before, I was ready. Plus Busboys and Poets has a great vegan dessert menu:

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

So many options, but I went with the cheesecake, which happened to be raspberry swirl, and I’m glad I did. And I didn’t share a single bite of it!

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

Tuesday afternoon:

Coffee for breakfast again, before the final morning of our conference. When it ended at noon, I was back on the metro, this time headed to &Pizza, whose menu I had been drooling over all week! They’re a great company who pays a living wage to their employees- who in turn apparently love them so much, lots of them have &Pizza tattoos! 

It’s a casual place where you stand in a line choosing what you want on you ‘za, it goes through an oven and comes out by the cash register, all in the time it’s taken the line to move you that far along. Their menu includes vegan cheese and vegan “beef” crumbles, as well as a ton of veggies. Everything is clearly marked whether or not it is vegan AND as soon as you order vegan cheese, they ask “Is this a vegan pizza, or just dairy free?” So then, when I specified that it was vegan, it was marked as such through the rest of the process so that it wouldn’t come in contact with stuff I don’t wanna eat. They even had a special vegan pizza cutter at the very end, as they boxed it up!

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

I went with a build-your-own, with traditional dough, classic tomato sauce, and vegan mozzarella…. Then I had them add spinach, tomatoes, and vegan beef. After it was cooked, they offer what they call “Finishes”, and I chose fresh basil and a light drizzle of olive oil. It was so good! I ate the whole thing, and I don’t even feel bad about that!

Look how gooey and delicious!

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

&Pizza is a chain, so if you live in DC, Maryland, NY, Pennsylvania or Virginia, I recommend you get your butt there and order a pizza. I wish they’d come to Denver!

After stuffing myself with all that pizza, it was time to head back to the airport. I had a little time before boarding, so my trusty book and I found a bar near my gate, so I could have a glass of wine… but then I saw their taps:

48 Hours in DC: Vegan Food Adventures | www.thatwasvegan.com

Allagash Brewing is from Maine, named after a river there. It was also the name of my dad’s dog, who was totally his favorite child. Allie as we call her is still going strong, and we both miss my dad, so I just had to order a pint of their white, and it was really good.

Here’s a really cute shot of me and Allie, a few days after my dad’s funeral as I was about to leave for Colorado. Isn’t she cute? 

So that’s it! 48 hours and enough for for probably twice that, but who cares? I go to DC about once a year for work, so if you have any favorite spots there to recommend, let me know!

 

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When I first decided to travel to Puerto Rico, at least three different people immediately started talking trash about how I wouldn’t find anything to eat there, but like most people who trash-talk, they were so wrong. I ate so many delicious meals in San Juan, all vegan, all easy to find, and all well-priced. So please believe me when I say: There are a lot of vegan food options in San Juan! 

And I’m going to share them with you, along with everything else. 

This trip really had a lot to do with my 40 Before 40 goals. It was about pushing my boundaries, trying new things, and learning more about myself. Of course, this is what travel should always be about (plus relaxation, of course), but this was also my first solo trip. I haven’t decided if it’s going to count towards the “travel alone internationally” goal because PR is a US territory, but taking this trip was still a big step for me. I traveled alone, didn’t know a single person on the island before I arrived, and it was also my first time staying in a hostel! 

But let’s start at the beginning…

I arrived early Friday afternoon after taking the red-eye from Denver. Part of my badass plan was to take the bus whenever possible. Uber isn’t allowed to pickup at the airport in San Juan, so it was down to a $25 cab or a .75 cent bus ride. The bus was fine, and air-conditioned, which was the only thing I cared about at that point! I made it to the hostel (I stayed at Villa Eshta– 2 blocks from the beach!), changed and immediately hit the beach. BTW, Walid, who owns the hostel, was very impressed that I took the bus- apparently most people aren’t able to find it at the airport. Guess those Spanish lessons are paying off 😉 

I spent Friday afternoon sitting in the shade on the beach with my kindle, watching dogs play and enjoying the atmosphere. It seemed like everyone in PR had at least one well-loved dog, and they loved playing at the beach. Seriously, dogs everywhere. Buenos perros en todas partes! This big boy came running right up to me with his ball, begging me to throw it. Of course I obliged!

When I got too hot, I wandered over to Calle Loiza, the main street through that part of the city, where all the restaurants and bars and shops are. I wasn’t hungry and never looked at a menu, and don’t even remember the name of the place. All I wanted was AC and a cuba libre. Well, I started with one. Una mas, por favor!

I wandered back to the hostel where I met the other woman staying in my dorm, Jami from Toronto! We immediately became friends and decided to meet up later that evening for a drink. I cleaned up and headed out to find dinner, stopping at the beach one more time. I love the beach after sunset, but before it’s dark. It’s moody and colorful and special that time of day. 

Then I walked a few blocks to Ocean Park Cafe. I haven’t reviewed any of the places I’ve eaten on Yelp or Happy Cow yet, but I need to. They were all wonderful, but OPC is tied for first place. That first night I had Beefless Nachos which were made with a heavenly, spicy quinoa mix and served with chips made from a local root vegetable. I can’t remember what the veggie was called, but it was something I had never heard of, and tasted great. And healthier than tortilla chips! There were more chips than topping, so also got a small side of bean dip to go with it. Vegan food in Puerto Rico FTW!

The wonderful thing about OPC was that nearly half the menu was marked Vegetarian, and most of that was vegan or could be made vegan. And the staff spoke perfect English and completely understood what was and wasn’t vegan. They made it so easy for me that first night. Oh, and they also have a full bar which is important because you’re gonna want to drink some rum in Puerto Rico!

After dinner I met back up with Jami and we drank made our way up Calle Loiza. We were intending to meet a friend of hers in a more touristy area of the city, but ended up asking two guys on the street for directions (any excuse to practice mi español), and ended up spending the rest of the evening with them. They were locals, both so nice. Frank, the one in the glasses, also spoke English which helped. 

We hit a few more bars and then got very local- the entire city is apparently open container, so we bought a few beers to drink as we walked. When in Rome, right?

The second day I boarded the bus for Old San Juan. This is the part of the city that’s most photographed, and probably what people think of when they think of San Juan.

The buildings are full of amazing architectural detail, are painted soft Caribbean colors, and are beautifully decayed. Many of the streets are cobblestone, and even the alleyways are beautiful.

That last shot is of La Capilla Franciscana, a church built for St. Francis in 1756. Here’s a shot of the inside. Amazing.

Speaking of churches, I also stopped into the Cathedral Basilica San Juan Bautista, which was breathtaking. Also a bit overwhelming for a non Catholic. I sat in the pews for a while, just taking it all in. The church was built in 1521 and according to Wikipedia is the 2nd oldest cathedral in the Americas, which is mind-boggling to me. 1521 is mind-boggling to me! (Although, not as mind-boggling as when I was in Germany and visited a structure that dated back to BC times!)

I didn’t take a lot of pictures because it felt disrespectful. I just sat there in the cool(ish) shade and looked around and watched the people dabbing on the holy water, and looked at all the murals. It was peaceful.

But then it was time for Ben & Jerry’s. I purposefully avoided American chains (except for Walgreens- the only pharmacy near my hostel), but I feel like B&J’s deserves a pass because they’re awesome and definitely do not represent what America has become lately. So I got a milkshake made with almond milk, their dairy free PB and Cookies ice cream, and was very happy. 

I found a shady park nearby with a bunch of great, crazy art and drank that whole thing. And yes, it was a large. But hey, vacation, right? 

Is that a kitty cat dragon?

Sitting on a shady bench in that park, sipping my milkshake and people-watching was the first time I truly felt on vacation. You know that feeling, usually the second day or so, when it actually sets in that you’re in another city or another country and you don’t have any of those regular responsibilities on your shoulders and you can relax? This was that moment for me. It was also the first time I knew for sure that I really like solo travel. Being on my own schedule suits me, and not having to deal with other people when I don’t want to really suits me. 

Dinner that night was at my other favorite spot- Cafe Berlin. A fried tofu sandwich with plantains, hummus, lettuce, carrots, cukes, tomatoes, olives, and vegan cheese. A side of chips and a Medalla Light, my favorite PR local beer and a really good respite from rum. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian traveling to Puerto Rico, I really recommend this restaurant- they have some of the best vegan food in San Juan!

I’ve decided that I love plantains and plan to cook with them a lot more now that I’m back. I have a few recipe ideas in mind…  

The next day, Sunday, was The Beach Day. And it was The Best. 

I rented a lounge chair and an umbrella, and spent nearly 7 hours sprawled out in paradise. I had pre-loaded a few good beach reads on the kindle before I left, so I alternated between reading, bobbing around in the waves, and drinking ice cold Medalla Lights that a few nice men were selling from their coolers as they walked up and down the beach. Cerveza fría, por favor! It was an absolutely gorgeous PR day- 85 degrees, a few scattered clouds, and humid- but at the beach that doesn’t matter. With my beer and a book, I was in heaven. This was the second time on this trip when it really hit me how enjoyable solo travel can be. When you’re lying next to someone, you have to listen when they talk. Sometimes you have to get up and get something for them. And you probably had to wait for them (or be rushed by them) getting to the beach in the first place. But not me. I was on my own schedule. I was thirsty? $3 for a beer. I was hot? I’d jump in the ocean. I wanted to ignore all the other humans and focus on my book? Easy. 

I did end up a little pink after too much time in the sun, but that had an unexpected bonus- I spent the rest of that evening feeling a little chilly, something I had definitely not felt up until that point! 

I went back to Ocean Park Cafe for dinner and another cerveza, and this time I had the veggie spring rolls with a pineapple mango dipping sauce. They were full of cabbage and (I think) plantains, and they were crisp and flavorful and just what I needed. 

Later that evening I Ubered over to the part of the city where Jami was now staying in an Airbnb, the very American part of the city. As in, we ended up at one of the only bars that wasn’t a Chili’s or similar. It was still fun though, and I had my first and only frozen drink of the trip, a Miami Vice, which is half pina colada and half strawberry margarita. I was tired from all the sun though, so it was an early night. Well, early for a vacation night!

I spent the next morning walking along the beach, taking in the sights and sounds and smells. It’s so beautiful, but there are also these pockets of abandoned properties that are quite surprising. This was a house on the beach, and judging from the signage (and my limited Spanish) it has been purchased recently by a developer, but it obviously sat vacant for a very long time. There’s something creepy about such an abandoned place, surrounded by life. 

Monday afternoon was spent back in Old San Juan shopping for souvenirs with Jami. It was nice- we’d visit a shop or two, then pop into a bar for a drink. A shop or two, then a drink. And of course, a snack.

At Cafe Berlin (again), I had a Medalla Light and the hummus plate:

More Medalla and fried plantains at Hecho En Casa, while Jami had rum punch and guacamole (she’s pescatarian!)-

Happy hour with a random kitty cat…

And another trip to Ben & Jerry’s!

After a final look at the beautiful views…

… we headed back towards the hostel for a final dinner, which funny enough, was at the most “American-ish” restaurant I ate at the whole trip. Which made sense, because it was in the touristy area near all the nicer hotels. Silk Restaurant, which had a generic mix of Asian foods, plus some sushi. And wine. Is anything more refreshing than a really cold glass of pinot grigio? 

And that’s pretty much it! I visited the beach one last time before heading back to the airport Tuesday around lunchtime. It was a short trip, but a fun one. And an important one, too. I learned a lot about myself, most notably that:

  1. I love solo travel, and am looking forward to another trip on my own.
  2. Without someone there to nudge me, I do get a bit lazy and wont go out of my way to do things like rent a car so I can hike in the rain forest (something I really wanted to do, but just didn’t find time for).
  3. Hostels are okay for saving money, but 2 nights is probably my limit.

And with that, I’m ready to plan my next trip! 

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Hello friends! A quickie update on some of the progress I’ve made on my 40 Before 40 list, and some oversharing of the foodstuffs I’ve eaten when I’m not creating recipes for the blog. 

Here we go…!

  1. Take Spanish Lessons. Check! I started last month on my first class, and it finishes right before I leave for… Puerto Rico! This was intentional and planned from the get- I knew having a trip would keep me motivated to learn, and would also be great practice using my new words. I’m going to continue taking classes, but I’m calling this one donezo. And if you happen to live in Denver and are interested, I’m taking the classes at Colorado Free University
  1. Organize all 7 closets at home. Dudes. In one afternoon I tackled the two closets that were bothering me the most- the coat closet (that I also use for storing extra kitchen gear) and the utility/storage closet that’s off the downstairs bathroom. The floor of the coat closet was cluttered with my tool chest, this huge duffel bag of additional tools that I recently inherited from my stepfather, dog food, dog leashes, dog hair,  and a bunch of other crap. The utility closet is pretty big, but half of it is taken up by the water heater. The other half was being taken up by 487 gallons of old paint left by previous owners and some other stuff they apparently didn’t want to take with them when they left. So I brought the paint to one of those nifty places that accepts paint (you can’t just put it in your trash, you know), organized beautifully the paint that I chose and is still in use, and moved the tools (neatly!) in there as well. Nothing makes me calmer than a neat and spare closet, and these two are an absolute joy to me now! 2 down, 5 to go.
  1. Create a more aggressive financial independence plan. Oh hell yes, I have kicked some serious butt on this one. I’ve increased my savings rate, am close to doubling my emergency fund, and figure to be fully financially independent about 17 years ahead of schedule. My dream is to be able to take a job doing marketing and communications for a non-profit that I love without worrying about the salary. Based on my calculations, I should be able to do that sometime around 45… which isn’t that far off, haha. I also have to recommend this Networthify tool- it’s a lot of fun (especially if you’re a PF nerd like myself). Plug in your current savings, your savings rate, and find out when you’ll be financially independent too! Done.

It feels so freaking good to be crossing things off that list! I’m truly a listy person, and I’ve made peace with that. Embraced it, really! I enjoy it, it keeps me happy and organized, so why not? And now, some of the many delicious things I’ve eaten and drank over the last few weeks… 

My mom and I went shopping for her birthday earlier this month. We started at this adorable place called The Barn– it’s antiques and handmade crafts, and clothing and jewelry and really just a bit of everything, all housed in a nearly 100 year old barn. Very chic. Then we had lunch at Blue Nectar: I wouldn’t call them the most vegan-friendly restaurant, but they had a couple options. I had the Veggie Fajitas minus the cheese and sour cream. The veggies were hearty pieces of squash and zucchini and carrots instead of just peppers and onions (although there were some of those too). And wine, because lunch with mom. 

Also because it was my mom’s birthday, I baked her a cake brownies. We live in Colorado, so I’ll leave the recipe up to your imagination 😉 And they actually didn’t turn out so well- We didn’t have vegetable oil (I was using an accidentally vegan boxed mix) so I melted Earth Balance. They ended up a bit… goopy. #BloggerFail

This next one should probably be a little embarrassing, but blogging is all about over-sharing right? I found these adorable vegan dog treats at Homegoods (they were only $4.99!), they’re made by Three Dog Bakery, and they’re basically Doggie Oreos. And I tried one. They were pretty good! The cookie part tasted like regular golden oreos, and the filling tasted like peanut butter. Please tell me I’m not the only one who has ever tried one of their dog treats!?

I’ve been ridiculously sick lately. I know I mentioned having a cold… and then that cold morphed into bronchitis, and then I think I got another cold. I missed 3 days of work the first week, then 2 the second week. I basically slept for five days straight BUT did wake up long enough to meet two of my fave girls (Happy birthday Chelsea and Denise!) for a Bottomless Margarita Brunch last Sunday:

I went with Strawberry on the rocks (no salt!), and had the Veggie Street Tacos, minus the cheese. They were so flavorful, full of mushrooms, squash, and corn. This was at La Sandia in Park Meadows. 

Then of course we had to shop off the margaritas, and there’s nothing sillier and three drunk girls at the mall, right? 

Is there anything better than great girlfriends??

 

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I Heart Keenwah Giveaway

Happy Valentines day, if you’re a person who cares about Valentines Day 💕 Personally, I could care less but! There is something that I do care a great deal about and that, my friends, is snacktime.

Snacktime is the most important time(s) of the day, and when you add a little peanut butter & chocolate, or chocolate and sea salt to the mix… it only gets better. I was lucky enough to get some of that chocolate-peanut butter-sea salt amazingness in the mail from a great company called I Heart Keenwah and you’re lucky too because they were kind enough to host this giveaway so that one lucky reader will win two bags of their Chocolate Puffs- Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Himalayan Pink Salt!   

You’re probably asking yourself was these even are, so let me tell you: They’re chocolate covered quinoa puffs. Yes, quinoa. Imagine puffed rice… only quinoa. It’s a new concept, but I promise it’s a good one! 

They’re also a “healthy indulgence”, with only 140 calories and 6 grams of sugar per serving, plus 3-4 grams of protein. They’re also made with organic fair trade certified dark chocolate, and of course, they’re vegan. They’re also gluten-free. 

They come in two flavors, and Dark Chocolate Himalayan Pink Salt was by far my favorite. I’m not the biggest chocoholic, and I loved the way the salt made these taste so sweet. Not overly sweet, but sweet in that way salt does with chocolate. You know what I mean. 

I Heart Keenwah Giveaway

The Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter puffs were delicious too, although they didn’t have that hint of sweet. If you’re one of those death by chocolate people, I predict these ones will be your favorite. 

I Heart Keenwah Giveaway


The Giveaway

One lucky reader will win Two Bags of Chocolate Puffs from I Heart Keenwah, one in each flavor! To enter, leave a comment below telling us how much you love chocolate, and if you save it for treats or eat it for breakfast!  Contest ends Sunday, February 19th at midnight (mountain time). One winner will be chosen at random and announced the following day. Be sure and log your comment into the Rafflecopter to make it count! Open to residents of US only, good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

*I was provided free product to review but the opinions are 100% mine!

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BBQ Chick’n Pizza. Easy. Vegan.

Delicious and easy vegan BBQ Chick'n Pizza from thatwasvegan.com

It’s been a shockingly long time since I’ve shared a pizza recipe! It’s not that I haven’t been eating pizza… I’ve just been ordering it from Uncle Maddio’s, my fave vegan-friendly spot. But sometimes the pizza craving is so specific, so precise, that there’s nothing on the menu that will satisfy it. Hence my BBQ Chick’n Pizza. Lots of flavor from my homemade chick’n seitan, sweet n’ spicy bbq sauce, and the bite of red onion and cilantro! 

I actually made this a couple weekends ago, the same day I made the Spicy Sweet Potato Hash with Roasted Poblano Peppers. It was this pizza (and my need for the seitan) that necessitated using tofu in the hash, which turned out to be brilliant, if I do say so myself! 

Delicious and easy vegan BBQ Chick'n Pizza from thatwasvegan.com

You know what’s not brilliant though? Having a cold. I’m currently fighting a whopper of one right now, and actually missed two days of work because of it. I currently have the upper hand though (after two days of non-stop napping and Gilmore Girls, which is apparently the best cold remedy around!?), and fingers crossed it wont turn into anything nasty like bronchitis. 

But it’s Thursday, the week is almost over, and I’m looking forward to a lot more sleeping this weekend. And maybe some pizza? 

Delicious and easy vegan BBQ Chick'n Pizza from thatwasvegan.com


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Gather: Organic, vegan pet food

My dogs aren’t fully vegan (especially not Teddy after that squirrel incident, yikes!) but the food I buy for them definitely is. I don’t want to contribute to the suffering of animals in factory farms, and that goes into all the purchase decisions I make- both for myself and my pets. 

There are actually quite a few vegan pet food options on the market right now, which is both a little surprising and awesome! Whether you’re shopping at a fancy boutique or the Petsmart in your local strip mall, you have options, which I think is fantastic. And now… you have another option as well: Gather Endless Valley, from Petcurean! I (or, rather, Sally and Teddy) agreed to test out a bag of the vegan kibble, which is full of all the good stuff:

  • Certified organic & sustainably grown peas
  • Omega 3 & 6 for healthy skin and radiant coats
  • Complex carbohydrates for quick energy, and 
  • Antioxidants for increased immunity

They also skip the bad stuff, so there are no GMOs, no by-products, no antibiotics, and no artificial colors or preservatives.  

Gather: Organic, vegan pet food

This is very clearly *not* one of my dogs, but I wanted to show how small the kibbles are. Sally is just a little cocker girl, and they weren’t too big for her at all. And while I can’t give any firsthand opinions on the flavor, I can tell you that my dogs gobbled it all up! Of course, I started by mixing it in with their previous food to avoid any upset tummies (there weren’t any!) but within a few days they were eating 100% Gather. 

I also think Petcurean is very responsible and forward-thinking for including a vegan recipe in their product lineup, and I appreciate that. They have a great article on their website about dogs and vegan diets that will probably answer all your questions, if you’re thinking about having Fido go vegan for the first time. You can also find local retailers and even score a $5 coupon

*I was provided free product to review but the opinions are 100% mine!

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(Not My Mom’s) Corn Chowder: A Redo

 

Thick, creamy, delicious corn chowder from www.thatwasvegan.com

In case you’re all “Huh!? What’s a redo?” it’s like this: I revisit an old recipe from my early days of blogging, see if the recipe needs any sprucing up, and take some better pictures.  This chowder, based on my absolute favorite meal my mom used to make, originally appeared in February 2012. Meaning it was in my first few months of blogging, and the picture appears to have been taken in a dark closet. With a flash. 

The version my mom always made had some questionable (to me, now) ingredients such as ham and velveeta cheeze, but back in the day I just couldn’t get enough. And now I can’t get enough of this version! I made it on Sunday afternoon and immediately devoured two bowls of it. Along with some french bread. 

It was just one of those days. If you live in Denver, you know the weather Sunday was fantastic! I took Teddy for a run, then spent at least an hour sitting outside in the sun with a book. It was glorious. Then I moved the party inside, traded the book for a few glugs of pinot grigio, and got to cooking. 

Thick, creamy, delicious corn chowder from www.thatwasvegan.com

I did make quite a few changes to the recipe this time around. First, I noticed a glaring mistake in the first edition which resulted in not nearly enough corn. In the corn chowder. Crazy right? I also added the roux back in. I was on some sort of health kick when I created the first version and wanted to cut out the white flour. I also added a few slices of Daiya cheddar to mine. Totally optional, but it gave it a little more… richness. The good news is that this version is WAY thicker and WAY creamier and WAY more decadent than the last! 

So head on over to the original post to check out the recipe, and make yourself some chowdah before winter is over! 

 

 

 

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Spicy Sweet Potato Hash with Roasted Poblanos

Spicy Sweet Potato Hash with Roasted Poblano- And easy breakfast or brunch that's full of flavor! www.thatwasvegan.com

It never occurred to me to even wonder if my dogs read my blog, because obviously they have more important things to do with their days. Plus I’ve never told them the wifi password. But then I whined to you guys about how Teddy was trying my nerves by eating everything he’s not supposed to… and then all of a sudden he seems to have smartened up! He’s warming up to me and hasn’t been bad in weeks days.

The only possible explanation is that he read the post about himself and realized it was time to shape up, right? Well, regardless of the reason, I’m happy to report that my big boy is acting more like a pet dog and less like a feral cat, which is wonderful and makes me so happy.

I’m allowed to love on him way more than I used to be, and most of the time when I’m petting him now he remains standing and wagging his tail, rather than flattening himself out on the floor. And he lets me rub his ears! Oh how I love his ears. They’re so soft. One of his nicknames is “Wolfie ears” and I’d rub those little things 24/7 if I could. Sally is “Poodle butt”, by the way. I don’t even remember why.

Spicy Sweet Potato Hash with Roasted Poblano- And easy breakfast or brunch that's full of flavor! www.thatwasvegan.com

The other big news is that I’ve been cooking more. It was as though I lost the joy of cooking for a while there. It felt like a chore… and blogging about it felt like a prison sentence. But I’ve slowly been getting back into it which is good because recommitting myself to TWV? is one of my 40 Before 40.

This past weekend I was craving something brunchy. Something filling and healthy but disguised as many not all that healthy, if that makes sense? So I came up with Sweet Potato Hash with Roasted Poblanos. It really didn’t take all that long, and came out so delicious. I’ve been eating leftovers all week (for lunch, not breakfast, for some reason) and will be sad to see them go.

A lot of hashes, especially of the non-vegan variety, are topped with an egg. You could easily recreate that with a FYH egg or vegan egg yolk, but I chose to keep it simple. Hashes also tend to contain some sort of crumbled meat mixed in, and you could use a vegan sausage crumble if that’s your jam. I was planning to crumble up a loaf of my chick’n-style seitan and use that, but there was only one loaf left in the freezer and I also wanted to make a BBQ Chick’n Pizza that afternoon (I’ll be sharing that deliciousness next week!) so needed to save it. Long story (slightly) short, I decided to run a block of tofu through the food processor, and brown it up a little in a pan with some oil and a ton of spices. It wasn’t meant to be a scramble, I was thinking of it as a meat replacement. And it worked!

You roast the poblano yourself in your oven while the taters are cooking, and it adds such a deep almost smoky flavor, without being that spicy. You can easily up the spice factor, though, but adding some chili powder to the tofu!

Spicy Sweet Potato Hash with Roasted Poblano- And easy breakfast or brunch that's full of flavor! www.thatwasvegan.com


 

Spicy Sweet Potato Hash with Roasted Poblanos
Serves 4
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 14oz block extra firm tofu
  2. 2 medium sweet potatoes
  3. 1 large poblano pepper
  4. 2 generous tablespoons of olive oil, plus 1-2 teaspoons
  5. Salt & pepper
  6. Smoked bbq salt
  7. 1.5+ teaspoon montreal chicken seasoning
Instructions
  1. Put the tofu in your presser, and set aside.
  2. Wash and dice the potatoes, and place them on a baking sheet. Top with the olive oil and stir until they're all coated. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Stick the pepper on the baking sheet as well - no oil or seasoning.
  3. Turn broiler on high, place tray on 2nd to top shelf and leave for 5-7 minutes. Flip your pepper and stir the potatoes, then put back in for another 5-7 minutes. Remove the pepper and set aside, under and overturn bowl, and put the potatoes back in for another 3-5 minutes.
  4. Crumble to tofu in a food processor. You want little crumbles. Heat 1-2 teaspoons oil in a frying pan and add the tofu, montreal seasoning, and smoked salt. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until hot. Taste and add more seasoning as needed.
  5. Peel your poblano, removing all the burnt pepper skin, and remove the seeds. Run under water if needed. Dice and add to the tofu, along with the potatoes. Stir everything together, taste for seasoning, and serve hot!
Notes
  1. The smoked bbq salt is very important, it really gives the tofu a ton of flavor! And if you want this spicier, add some chili powder to the tofu as well.
That Was Vegan? http://www.thatwasvegan.com/
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Sari Nutritional Yeast Giveaway!

Sari Nutritional Yeast Giveaway | www.thatwasvegan.com

Nutritional yeast (or as we vegans lovingly refer to it, Nooch) is one of those amazing foods I likely never would have discovered if I never gave up animal products. And that’s really one of my favorite things about being vegan (other than, you know, saving animals and all that), the way it challenges you to test your limits and try new things! And nooch is such a wonderful thing! It tastes like cheese and can be added to nearly any recipe, soup, salad… you name it!

The Nooch I’m sharing with you today is from Sari Foods, a company committed to “empowering conscious consumers to return to high nutrient, plant-based and pure foods as our source of life and sustenance – just as nature intended.” Who can argue with that? 

You may notice the packaging reads “Non-Fortified”. This means it doesn’t contain vitamin B-12. Sari believes non-fortified is a healthier option because nooch is rich in other naturally occurring B vitamins such as B1, B2, B5, and B6 as well as 18 amino acids and 15 minerals. I have to admit a bit of ignorance on my part here, because I’m certainly *not* a whole foods, clean eating expert… but check out their website, they have a ton of great information on the topic! 

So now you’re thinking- Okay, I win (or buy) this huge bag of nooch, how will I use it all? The thing about nooch is you can sprinkle it on anything, but here are a few specific ideas for you:

Make a batch of my insanely delicious Chick’n Style Seitan:

My Favorite ("Chicken-style") Seitan Recipe | www.thatwasvegan.com

Mix it in with these Breakfast Stuffed Sweet Potatoes for an extra bit of cheesy flavor:

Vegan Breakfast Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Sprinkle it over these Beer Cheese Nachos

Vegan Daiya Beer Cheese Nachos

Top your favorite soups! Any would do, like my Cauliflower Corn Chowder

Cauliflower Corn Chowder | www.thatwasvegan.com

Or my Baked Potato Soup!

Vegan Baked Potato Soup

Or use it to add another layer of flavor to this Lemon Butter Quinoa!

Lemon Butter Quinoa | www.thatwasvegan.com

Just a few ideas to get you started! Okay, now for the good stuff… 


 The Giveaway

One lucky reader will win an 8oz bag of 100% Natural Non-Fortified Nutritional Yeast from Sari Foods! To enter, leave a comment below telling us about the craziest food you’ve ever put nooch on!  Contest ends Sunday, January 29th at midnight (mountain time). One winner will be chosen at random and announced the following day. Be sure and log your comment into the Rafflecopter to make it count! Open to residents of US only, good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I was provided free product to review but the opinions are 100% mine!

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Red’s All Natural Bean & Rice Burrito

I love burritos. Breakfast, lunch… all burritos, really. If I’m being honest, I’m a huge fan of any handheld food, but now I’m getting off track. Burritos! They’re a total comfort food that’s perfect for any meal, and if you’re like me and are always hungry appreciate an occasional convenience food, then I bet you love having burritos in your freezer, just waiting to be warmed and eaten. 

I guess my biggest complaint with frozen burritos is finding ones that are vegan, and if you’re concerned about eating organic that can be a problem too. So when Red’s All Natural contacted me and said they have a vegan option with their Bean & Rice Burrito I was pretty excited to try it. The burrito is vegan, USDA certified organic, and has 9 grams of protein at just 270 calories. My favorite part is the ingredients list- it’s all real foods and seasonings that you’ll recognize – things like long grain brown rice and anaheim peppers and garlic. At first glance the ingredients list seems too long, but that’s only because they had to include the word ‘organic’ before each item. 

I’ve eaten three of them so far. They’re not huge, but they are filling which is nice. My first one I heated in the oven, which is the ‘preferred method’ listed on the packaging, and added a little salsa and a slice of Field Roast cheese:

They don’t photograph so great because beans and rice and tortillas are all kinda the same color but I promise they were quite tasty. They weren’t spicy-hot, but spicy-flavorful. And when cooked in the oven, the tortilla was nice and crisp at the corners, the way I like it. 

The other two I brought to work for quick n’ easy lunches. This one I enjoyed much more than the super sad book I was reading…

Even in the microwave, they still reheat well. The tortilla was softer and bit chewier than when I baked it, which is what happens in the microwave and not a big deal at all. Still delicious! 

I’ll be buying a few more of these to keep on hand, the next time I’m at Sprouts. Here’s the locator so you can find them near you- in my experience not all stores carry the vegan one (they have a ton of non-vegan options as well), just an FYI. 

 

*I was provided free product to review, but the opinions are 100% mine!

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