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Friday, December 31, 2010

Most Memorable Meals of 2010

Who doesn't love a good recap post, eh? While going through all of my pictures from 2010, it should be no surprise to you that I found a LOT of food pics in the mix. Here are the most memorable meals of the last year for me.

Those two dishes probably look familiar to many of you. They are the dishes from the trip that brought me to start this blog. The first photo is of a bowl of "sip" at Food Fa Life in Salem, Jamaica. "Sip" is what differentiates vegetarian soup from meat-based "soup." (How clever, right?!) The second photo is of the meal we were served following the sip. I fell in love with this little eatery, that was basically a mobile home on the side of the road, run by one beautiful woman, using one tiny stove, covered in big steamy pots. The owner sat with us while we ate and we had a lovely conversation about religion, politics, vegetarianism, the environment, and just the way of the world. I regret not taking that woman's picture.

The most hilarious meal of the trip - and of the year! - was this "veggie wrap" that was served while at the resort.

It was filled with nothing but shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes. Thankfully, the rest of my meals were quite nice while I was staying at the resort. I couldn't help but laugh when this came to the table, though.

In 2010, I had vegan dim sum for the first time at Bo Ling's in Kansas City, which was a really interesting experience, though quite expensive. The dishes to choose from were hit or miss. Here are the ones I liked the most.
lotus root

cucumber salad


spongy seaweed-turnip cakes

The opening of Fud in Kansas City was definitely a highlight of the year, and I know I wasn't the only one anticipating the opening of its doors. I had experienced owner Heidi's culinary magic a few times before through her raw "cooking" classes and home dinners. I knew amazing things were in store at her restaurant! Because her restaurant's hours weren't quite compatible with my schedule for most of the year, I was only able to eat there a couple of times. Here's what I greatly enjoyed.
raw blueberry cheezecake with agave drizzle

chocolate chip cookie with cashew soft serve

NACHOS! In my opinion, the BEST item on their menu.

raw taco


Switching gears to the sweeter side, let's talk about frozen desserts, starting with overly-trendy Glace' near the Kansas City Plaza. How could anyone say no to pineapple-cilantro or lemon-basil sorbets?

Glace' always had a line winding out the door and down the sidewalk, so I did not frequent this place often in 2010. However, when a Yogurtini opened nearby and I discovered they always offer at least one sorbet, I knew I had found my back-up plan.

Yogurtini offers PLENTY of vegan toppings: various nuts, various fruits, coconut, graham cracker crumbs, cereals (if you have a super-sweet tooth), and a couple of sauces, including agave nectar.

Malay Cafe in North Kansas City was probably my favorite (Kansas City) restaurant of 2010. I'm still dreaming about their gado gado (hold the eggs, though).

During my Pacific Northwest Road Trip, I ended up at a seafood restaurant with my (not-veg*n) companions. I wasn't able to phone ahead, so I kept my expectations low. The staff I spoke with were very friendly, though, so when I was told I'd be getting "jasmine rice cakes and grilled veggies," I was expecting a little more than this.

Oh well! Luckily, my meal at Sky City, on top of the Space Needle, surpassed ALL of my expectations and quickly became the best meal of the trip. I still dream of this heirloom tomato salad.

The rest of the meal paled in comparison to it, but was still excellent.

Other memorable Washington meals:
black bean balls at Darby's Cafe in beautiful Olympia

The Bloom Burrito at Bloom Organic Cafe in adorable Bellingham

I also had a taste of their lentil nachos, which were superb.

I ate hominy for the first time at Pepper Sisters and enjoyed it

The award for Best Fried Tofu of 2010 goes to...

Nimbus, located on the top floor of Bellingham's tallest building

Visiting Portland, Oregon - the Vegan Mecca - was such a treat. Unfortunately, a few days isn't enough time to try it all. (I'd probably need a month.) Still, I ate well during those few days. You better believe I'm already planning my To-Eat List when I return in 2011.
The Vegan Voo Doo Doughnut

cozy seitan stew at Vita Cafe on a cold and rainy Portland night

vegan poutine at Potato Champion

At the Boise Fry Company in, you guessed it, Boise, I ate some unforgettable Okinawa sweet potato fries with blueberry ketchup and vanilla salt. I'll probably be talking about these fries for years to come.

Not the most enticing picture, I realize, but just take my word for it and board the next flight out of your nearest airport to Boise right now.

My favorite meal of my South By Southeast Road Trip/Move was at Wild Cow in Nashville. I just love everything about this place.

A close second (and third) of the move would be my stops at Flaco and Reggae Shack, both in Gainesville, FL.

An impromptu road trip to the new Babycakes location in Orlando was a sweet little venture.

My Vegan Thanksgiving in Tampa was certainly the most memorable Thanksgiving I've ever had.

2010 was a year rich in travel and excellent food. I didn't realize how much traveling I had done until I started recapping my year through pictures. I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for all the amazing opportunities to travel that came my way this past year. Going through all of my pictures also put things in perspective for me. 2010 was a stressful year for me; I had a lot of negative things happen to me and weigh on my mind. In going back through my pictures from the year, I realize that 2010 is one of the most amazing years of my life. I'm so thankful for everything that happened to me: the good and the not-so-good.

This has filled me with great excitement for 2011, which is already bound to be a year full of surprises. I can't wait to share it with you, my readers.

I wish you health and happiness and adventure in 2011. See you next year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

21-Day Vegan Kickstart

The time of year where people start making resolutions is here. It is also time for another round of the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart by the Physicians Committee of Responsible Medicine.

There are so many reasons to take on a vegan diet. You can go vegan for the animals, for the environment, or for your health, or for all of the above! This free program is a great way to help you get started, whether you've been vegan for awhile, you're interested in incorporating more vegan meals into your regular diet, or this whole vegan thing is brand new to you. The Vegan Kickstart program will assist you with daily meal plans, community forums, nutritional resources, and videos. If you're interested in pledging, go to and register today to begin on the first of January. Check out the site now to get an idea of all the goodness to come!

However you ring in the new year, I hope that 2011 is full of health and happiness for all of you. I, for one, am very excited about what the new year will bring, and you'd better believe I'll be sharing a lot the adventure here on the blog.

Have you done the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart in the past? Will you be pledging in 2011?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Semi-Recent Eats Post

The last couple of weeks have been madness for me. I slacked off on the food photography a bit because I was too busy/rushed/preoccupied/forgetful, but I do have a few meals to share with you. Some of them date back a couple of weeks, which is why this is a "semi-recent" eats post.

Chickpea Noodle Soup (unfortunately watered down because I didn't realize how low I was on vegetable broth. Still decent, though.)

I had a coupon to try a free WayFare oat-based "cheese" product and picked up the Mexican-style spread to use in nachos. It's reminiscent of Play Food (cashew-based cheese sauce that was made and distributed just in the Kansas City area for a limited time). Though not as good as Play Food, this was still a nice addition to nachos.

It reads, "It Melts!" on the container, which I thought was strange, because it's already a spread. Then I glopped it on top of nachos before sticking the whole pan in the oven and why, yes, it really does melt!

I needed a fast dinner one night and decided to give this little carton of soup a whirl.

It has a beautiful color!

However, just a few bites in and I was done. I'm not sure what it was about it, but a few spoonfuls was more than enough for me. It is cashew-based, so it's kind of rich. The flavors are great, but overwhelming (for me) in large doses.

I finally tried a Tofurky pizza! I went with the fire roasted vegetable variety.

It tastes very much like a frozen pizza, especially the vegetables. The crust was pretty bland and I felt the pizza was too light on the sauce (I'm a saucy kind of gal). Otherwise, it was a decent pizza. I think in the future, should I decide to get another one, I'd get a plain "cheese" one and top it myself with fresher, better ingredients.

I had read a few reviews of Mary's Gone Crackers around the blogosphere, so when I saw them on sale at a nearby health food store, I decided to give them a whirl. (And I also happened to have some "smoked cheddar" variety of WayFare spreads.)

I picked up the "original" flavor of crackers (seemed like a good place to start). The crackers are wheat-free and gluten-free, with ingredients including brown rice, whole quinoa, flax seeds, and sesame seeds.

The crackers are very thin and crispy. They just barely held up to the WayFare spread. I could taste every single grain that was used in the cracker, which was pretty cool. No weird fillers -- you can taste it all! I wouldn't pay full price for these, but if they're on sale, I would certainly be inclined to purchase them again.

I hate coffee. The only thing I'll order at a coffee shop, typically, is an iced soy chai tea (and it has to be iced because I always burn my tongue on coffee shop hot beverages. I'm such a wimp). Anyway, those things are expensive, and I prefer to keep some chai concentrate on hand and make my own. I gave this brand a try and found it overwhelmingly clove-y. If you really like the taste of cloves, this would be the brand for you. It gave me a bit of a flashback of the clove cigarettes of my high school years. Blech.

While house- and dog-sitting over the holidays, I made a big batch of black bean-veggie stew. I'm very pleased with how it came out.

I kind of hate corn, but it was included in an otherwise-awesome blend of veggies from Publix, so I made an exception.

Some Mary's Gone Crackers went well with this, too.

The new year is around the corner and this year, I am determined to make something with black-eye peas "for luck," since I've never done that before. Hopefully I can find the time and energy to make it happen. If I do, you'll see it here!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Holiday Highlights

(I thought the swirling hurricane symbols were cute.)

I didn't take many pictures because Christmas eve was busy from start to finish, and Christmas Day was full of rushing around. Still, I had a nice holiday and I'm ready to ring in a new year, which is bound to be full of surprises.