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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gluten-Free Walken & A Vegan Ditty

I'm still getting over what (little) remains of my sickness and looking forward to feeling healthy again. Between that and organizing a few different projects in my "spare" time, I'm a busy bee! I have heaps of goodies to share with you soon soon soon, but in the meantime, check out these videos that I've enjoyed in the last week.

Glutenfree Goddess shared this video and I thought it was pretty cute. Who doesn't love a good Christopher Walken impersonation? I especially love the way he says 'pear.'

I'm pretty sure that every vegan and their grandmother has seen this video by now, but I feel I ought to share it anyway, just in case. This guy has a song-a-day project (he writes a song every single day!) and last week he wrote this little vegan ditty. Vegans across the interwebs posted this link everywhere and chanted along: Plants! Plants! Plants!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Healthy Herbivore's Virtual Book Tour

Well folks, I'm down with the sickness again. Unlike last time, this sickness required a visit to a clinic (an awful clinic at that - two big, sick thumbs down for Walgreens Take Care Clinic!) and because there ain't no rest for the sick-ed, this is my first day to actually rest, despite the sickness starting over the weekend. So, I'm taking it easy and sharing a little guest post with veg-blogger, Lindsay Nixon of Happy Herbivore. In celebration of the release of her first cookbook, she's embarking on a "virtual book tour," via - where else? - the blogosphere. I loved that idea and was happy to have her make a stop here.

When did you go vegan? What is your vegan story?
I went vegan in Dec 2006 while on vacation in San Fran. I'd been
vegetarian for a while and had been toying with the idea of going
vegan. I'd heard that it could help with weight loss, acne, digestive
issues (and it did!); but it seemed so restrictive. I figured being in
a vegan-friendly city was probably the easiest way to try it out. I
felt so good that I stuck with it when I went home and after reading a
number of books (like Skinny Bitch) I knew it was a lifelong

What is your favorite thing about being vegan?
I wake up every morning with a sense of happiness knowing that I'm
making a difference (and so effortlessly!) Being vegan is like having
a constant warm fuzzy, you're making so many positive impacts -- you
are benefiting your health, the environment, farm animals, humanity...

When and how did you come to start your blog?
I started my blog in Oct 2007. I was in law school at the time so it
was a great "outlet" but the real purpose was to share information and
connect with other vegans. Blogs were still so new back then (it's
amazing to see how much the blog world has grown!), veganism wasn't as
mainstream as it is now, and there weren't many vegan cookbooks,
either, so I wanted to put recipes and information out there -- to
share what I'd learned on my journey.

What are your main motivators for your blog?
Happy Herbivore has changed a lot over the years -- in the beginning
it was mostly a food diary, and then it morphed into a recipe website;
but the mission has always been the same: to bring healthy, but
delicious food to others. To show that eating vegan can be easy,
affordable, approachable and really tasty.

Describe the best vegan meal you've had thus far.
When I was in England I had this sort of veganized "Bangers and Mash"
dish: vegan homemade sausages with mashed potatoes and gravy (I love
mashed potatoes and gravy!!) except the potatoes had cabbage in them.
It sounds weird b[ut] my goodness, it was amazing.

What are your Top 5 favorite recipes in your new cookbook?
I'm guessing you mean my current cookbook and not the cookbook I'm
currently writing =)

I really love the nacho cheese, queso, cornbread, chili sans carne and
portobello steaks.

What are your vegan travel tips?
Research ahead -- check online sites to see where the health food
stores are, where vegan-friendly options exist at restaurants and
bring snacks with you, particularly for plane rides.

In your opinion, what is your favorite veg-friendly city?
LA. Even though New York City has this great reputation because it has
so many vegan restaurants, what I love about LA is in addition to
having tons of amazing vegan restaurants, almost every restaurant has
vegan options. My favorite place to eat in LA (Swingers) was actually
a non-vegan restaurant, but their vegan menu was incredible! Now I'm

Lindsay S. Nixon is a rising star in the culinary world, praised for her ability to use everyday ingredients to create healthy, low fat recipes that taste just as delicious as they are nutritious. Lindsay's recipes have been featured in Vegetarian Times, Women's Health Magazine and on The Huffington Post. Lindsay is also a consulting chef at La Samanna, a luxury resort and four-star restaurant in the French West Indies. You can learn more about Lindsay and sample some of her recipes at

Here's a recipe from Lindsay's new book, shared with permission from the author.
Quick Queso (makes 1 cup) - It's okay to go at this sauce with a spoon. I won't judge.

1 cup non-dairy milk (such as fat-free soymilk)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 tsp granulated onion powder
1/2 tsp granulated garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder or cayenne (optional)
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste

Whisk all ingredients together in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often until thick. Serve immediately.

Note: Gluten-free flours or blends may be substituted, such as chickpea flour. Also, add a 1 10-ounce can of Rotel tomatoes with green chilies for a Mexican Queso twist.

So, in true book tour form, shall we open up the floor for Q&A? Got any questions for the Happy Herbivore?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

March 20th is Meatout Day!

On (or around) March 20, thousands of caring people in all 50 U.S. states and two dozen other countries get active to host educational events for Meatout- the world's largest grassroots diet education campaign. Activists distribute free food, educate their communities, and ask their friends, families, and neighbors to "kick the meat habit” and explore a wholesome, compassionate diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Are there any Meatout events happening near you? Click HERE to find out.

I've been meat-free since 1995 and vegan since 2004. I'm definitely a vegan-for-lifer; I can't imagine NOT being vegan! You can read my vegan story HERE.

If you're new to veg*nism, look for a Meatout event near you. It's a great way to get information and connect with other veg*ns, and learn that there's plenty to eat without choosing meat! This is true even while traveling: click HERE to see my most memorable meals of 2010.

Other great vegan resources:
* The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine - the next 21-Day Vegan Kickstart is coming up on April 4th!
* Vegweb, Vegetarian Times, and the Post-Punk Kitchen pretty much cover all of your vegan recipe needs
* Having trouble finding certain special vegan items? Check Pangea, Vegan Essentials, and Food Fight!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Irish-ish Eats

The night before St. Patrick's Day, a friend and I got together to make some festive foods for the occasion. On the menu: Irish soda bread, green salad with homemade green goddess dressing, and potato-leek soup.

For the Irish soda bread, we followed the recipe in The Joy of Vegan Baking, but split it in half, using regular flour for one mini loaf and Bob's Red Mill's All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour for the other. Neither of us had ever used this gluten-free flour before, so we weren't entirely sure what to expect.

Immediately upon opening the bag, A remarked that it smelled like hay. I sniffed and confirmed this statement. With trepidation, we mixed our separate batches and plopped the batters into the mini pans and cut our Xes on top.

Regular flour loaf (Before)

gluten-free flour loaf (Before)

Regular flour loaf (After)

Gluten-free loaf (After)

The gluten-free loaf was DISGUSTING, and I think the GF flour is to blame. It smelled weird, and it tasted way too earthy: like grass and dirt and who knows what else. It's made with garbanzo, potato starch, tapioca, sorghum, and fava bean flours. This blend of flours is not a good fit for such a simple recipe, and I'm hesitant to use it in sweeter baked goods (cakes or cookies) because I feel that the earthy flavor will overpower it. I don't plan on using this flour in the future.

I tasted the regular loaf, and it was okay. Nothing spectacular, but that's kind of what Irish soda bread is all about. A didn't like it at all, though.

Moving on to the salad -- we used this FatFree Vegan Kitchen recipe for the dressing. (This dressing is not actually fat free, but it's much lower in fat and calories than the Annie's version.) This was a breeze to make. We upped the garlic content a bit, so that plus the green onion made for quite a tangy dressing. (Personally, I feel that two whole green onions was too much for my tastes, but I have issues with onions to begin with.)

Salads were a success! On to the soup!

We followed another Colleen recipe for the potato-leek soup, this one coming from The Vegan Table (which is an absolutely GORGEOUS cookbook). This is only my second time (knowingly) eating leeks, so I was pretty excited to cook with them. (Yes, they are related to onions, but they're quite mild and don't bother me.) We pureed most of the soup, which made it velvety smooth. A had some Follow Your Heart cheddar and some Bac-Uns on hand for toppings, which I tried, but really, the soup is just perfect as is.

So there you have it: one failure overshadowed by two successes! Sounds like good luck to me.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Vegan Bucket List

When I read that VegNews had compiled a vegan Bucket List, I was eager to read it. (I'm very much a goal-oriented person. My Life's To-Do List is many miles long.) Lucky for me, the list is available online! I was happy to discover that I have already accomplished some of the things on the list and, in true internet meme fashion, I am going to post the list here and bold what I have accomplished thus far. You can enjoy my thoughts in the [brackets].

1. Swim in the greenhouse pool then dine at the Ravens' Restaurant at the Stanford Inn in Mendocino, Calif.

2. Join the cookie/brownie/fudge-of-the-month club at Allison's Gourmet. [My birthday is several months from now, but you know, start planning this now, folks.]

3. Ask your (non-vegan) family or friends to try a vegan meal, day, or week.[My non-veg friends are totally veg-friendly, and that's part of what makes them so awesome.]

4. Hear former cattle rancher-turned-vegan, Howard Lyman, speak.

5. Eat a veggie dog from a street cart in Vancouver, BC. [There are two veggie dog carts in Tampa Bay!]

6. Write a letter to a vegan activist who is in prison.

7. Visit Portland, Ore.’s vegan mini-mall. Leave with a tattoo, cookie, message t-shirt, and a few snacks for the road. [Let me refresh your memory.]

8. Perfect a signature tofu scramble. [I just accomplished this in the last couple of months!]

9. Meet your vegan superhero. Whether it’s Gene Baur, John Salley, Kathy Freston, Wayne Pacelle, or Tal Ronnen, go to one of your favorite star’s public events and thank them for their work. [I've met one so far!]

10. Accept that your veganism is bigger than you and your circumstances. Don’t get bummed about it. [I don't. I'm a joyful vegan overall.]

11. Devour a cowvin cookie at Sticky Fingers Bakery in Washington, DC. [Well, it wasn't a cowvin cookie, but I have enjoyed tasty treats from Sticky Fingers, during my pre-blog days.]

12. Splurge on a beautiful Matt & Nat bag that you can carry with pride for many years to come. [Honestly, this doesn't seem Bucket List-worthy to me. It's a BAG.]

13. Take a VegNews Vacation to India. Or Thailand. Or… [I was SO CLOSE to being very irresponsible and putting myself into debt by singing up for the VegVacation to India last year, but luckily, it sold out before I could go any further. One of these days, though...]

14. Be vegan until 6pm, and then stay vegan until the following day. Repeat. [Been doing this for 7 years now!]

15. Have a pizza bake-off with every vegan cheese to discover your favorite.

16. Design your perfect custom cinnamon roll at Cinnaholic in Berkeley, Calif. [*drooooool*]

17. Rub a pig’s belly at Los Angeles’ Animal Acres or New York’s Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.

18. Work with local businesses to add more vegan options to their menus. [Always working on this!]

19. Veganize your grandmother’s favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. Then share with everyone. [It's not cookies, but my mom and I veganized the family pierogi recipe.]

20. Host a cruelty-free Halloween party with caramel apples, spiced (and spiked) apple cider, and pumpkin carving.

21. Dine at Candle 79 in New York and Millennium in San Francisco, not on the same night. Go with people whom you truly adore, and feast on appetizers, salads, entrees, drinks, and desserts (multiples of each). Share everything so you get to taste it all!

22. Become a vegan myth-busting machine—even if you never need to bust vegan myths. [I'm not sure -- am I doing this?]

23. Attempt to work out as hard as Brendan Brazier, Kenneth Williams, Tonya Kay, Robert Cheeke, or Scott Jurek. [HA! No.]

24. Read The Face on Your Plate when you need a little extra information about animals and why they are too amazing to eat.

25. Order a Vegan Treats’ Peanut Butter Bomb cake to celebrate your birthday.

25. Give fun vegan gifts such as cookbooks, baked goods, Vegan Etsy jewelry, and wine every chance you get. [I'm all about the baked goods.]

26. Take a vegan tour of Los Angeles stopping at Eko Zone, Pure Luck, Shojin, Real Food Daily, Native Foods Café, Veggie Grill, to start.

27. Sail the Caribbean, practice morning yoga, and visit exciting ports of call on the all-vegan Holistic Holiday at Sea.

28. Try vegan ethnic food, such as Filipino, Korean, or Sri Lankan.

29. Inspire at least one person to become vegan.

30. Trek to Toronto in September for the annual Vegetarian Food Fair.

31. Devour the Portobello Stack with red potatoes and cauliflower mash at Sublime in Ft. Lauderdale. [I can accomplish this soon!]

32. Purchase 1,000 Vegan Recipes by Robin Robertson and never have to buy another vegan cookbook again. [I'll never NOT purchase cookbooks. I'm addicted to them!]

33. Volunteer for Food Not Bombs. It doesn’t get much better than providing hungry people with free vegan food. [I went to a meeting once. Does that count?]

34. Make the VegNews Mac & Cheese. It changes lives. [That's what I hear!]

35. Hold a Vegan Bake Sale for your favorite animal charity. [SOON!]

36. Grab the ‘D’s BBQ Joint wrap at Seattle’s Hillside Quickie and have a picnic at nearby Volunteer Park.

37. Don’t judge meat-eaters. They’ll just stop listening to you.

38. Eat kale daily. [Every damn day?! That's just crazy-talk!]

39. Join Twitter and Facebook, follow or friend a bunch of your non-vegan acquaintances, and send along great recipes, videos of cute farm animals, and timely vegan news. [This sounds preachy. I mean, I post about vegan stuff pretty frequently, but not to rub it in anyone's face.]

40. Attend the North American Vegetarian Society’s Vegetarian Summerfest conference. [I think this sounds like so much fun. One year, I hope to attend.]

41. Help the environment by opting for a bicycle or running shoes over a car. [I have yet to live in a city that allows me to do this.]

42. Savor the four-course open-to-the-public Friday night dinner at NYC’s Natural Gourmet Institute.

43. Remind your non-vegan loved ones that if it’s good enough for President Clinton, it’s good enough for them. [This sounds cocky. Pun intended?]

44. Cook an entirely vegan holiday dinner for your friends and family.

45. Start a balcony herb garden. [Well, it wasn't a balcony, but I did plant an herb garden in MO. I WISH I had a balcony!]

46. Visit MooShoes in The Big Apple and purchase a truly fabulous pair of vegan footwear, then march in the annual Veggie Pride Parade. [I visited, but didn't buy shoes. I did buy a "cranky vegan asshole" button from there, though.]

47. Order a custom-made birthday cake from San Francisco’s MaggieMudd ice cream shop.

48. Rekindle your childhood love of PB&J.

49. Create something that helps humans feel compassion for animals: a video game, children’s book, ‘zine, novel, movie, or blog will do! [Woo! Go blog!]

50. Vacation at the all-vegan The Lodge in Grenada.

51. Get caught up on your veg-friendly reads by joining the VegNews Book Club.

52. Eat at both Native Bowl and Homegrown Smoker vegan food carts in Portland, Ore.

53. Donate all your non-vegan clothes to charity. [If I had non-vegan clothes, I would do this. I've been veg*n since 1995, though.]

54. Try Chicago Soydairy’s mozzarella sticks. Recover blown mind.

55. Read or re-read John Robbins’ timeless classic, Diet for a New America. [Started it, but never finished it.]

56. Go on a Vegas-style bender at Ronald’s Donuts. Bring on the bear claws, old-fashioned, and chocolate-dipped doughnuts!

57. Adopt a turkey in November, then savor Native Foods Café’s Wellington for Thanksgiving.

58. Host movie nights and show Bold Native, Forks Over Knives, and Babe.

59. Attend a volunteer night at the PETA headquarters in Norfolk, Va.

60. Eat a huge vegan sundae at Lula’s Sweet Apothecary in New York City. [Sounds like a dream come true!]

61. Send a vegan care package.

62. Make your own seitan sausages, in every flavor you can imagine. [This sounds gross.]

63. Become a vegan hostess extraordinaire by throwing holiday parties, brunches, bonfires, barbecues, fondue nights, and so on. [Traveling Dinner Parties! I miss those.]

64. Take a Wanderbird Cruise to Alaska or the Caribbean.

65. Spend an afternoon handing out Vegan Outreach’s “Why Vegan?” brochures. [I feel like I may have done this once, a long, long time ago.]

66. Attend the Texas State Veggie Fair, then head to Spiral Diner for amazing vegan eats, deep in the heart of Texas. [I haven't yet messed with Texas...]

67. Spend a week at The Gentle Gourmet B&B in Paris.

68. Read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.

69. Memorize five quick comebacks to the question “Where do you get your protein?”

70. Read Crazy Sexy Diet, and see if you don’t turn into a green-juice drinker. We dare you.

71. Devour soft-serve ice cream from New England’s Like No Udder, the world’s first vegan ice cream truck. [I want to work for these people!]

72. Write a well-thought-out letter to the editor promoting veganism.

73. Have your vitamin D and B12 levels tested.

74. Start a Vegan Drinks meet-up in your hometown and get to know your local vegans, boozily.

75. Demolish the garlic fries at San Francisco’s AT&T Park. Brush teeth.

76. Take a cooking class at Spork Foods in West Hollywood.

77. Attend a Farm Sanctuary Hoe Down, then book a few extra nights at the sanctuary’s B&B.

78. Own at least one cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, and Ani Phyo.

79. Visit the Chicago Diner and feast on the tempeh Reuben, mashed potatoes, and cookie dough peanut butter milkshake. [It's a damn good shake.]

80. Find a vegan restaurant in every city you visit, no matter how remote! [I consider this a hobby of mine!]

81. Study the history of the women’s, civil rights’, gay rights’, or any other social-justice movement that has bettered the lives of beings who were once treated as property. Learn from them!

82. Watch Earthlings at least once. Then, if you feel yourself getting burned out or losing your drive for veganism, watch it again.

83. Eat beignets and the chocolate soufflé at Madeline Bistro in Los Angeles.

84. Write to Food Network and request more vegan content.
[Do Facebook comments count? I say yes.]

85. Make soup in five minutes flat using a Vita-Mix blender. [It was actually a Blendtec.]

86. Rescue a companion animal.

87. Keep warm in a winter coat from Vaute Couture.

88. Donate money to your favorite animal charities.
89. Try Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter. Then try not to put it on every single thing you eat. [I've read about this stuff, and it sounds dangerous!]

89. Volunteer to muck out stalls at the Catskill Animal Sanctuary or Animal Place.

90. Attend (or, even better yet, have!) a vegan wedding. [Kara & Brad's wedding was vegan! And maybe someday I'll have one, too!]

91. Read every issue of VegNews ever published.

92. Attend the Genesis Awards. It’s swanky, fun, and you can actually see a difference being made—not to mention rub elbows with fancy Hollywood types.

93. Admire the work of your favorite vegan artist. (Don’t have one yet? Check out Gretchen Ryan, Peter Max, or Sunaura Taylor.)

94. Study T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study as if your life depended on it.

95. Make your own dim sum! It’s stupendously satisfying, not to mention delicious. [Does this count?]

96. Pen your own vegan manifesto. Keep it in a place that’s easy to see, just in case you need at reminder. [This blog is my manifesto!]

99. Stay at the Vegetarian Country House Hotel in England’s Lake District.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Kaleisia Tea Lounge: It's Boba-licious!

There are a few different places to get bubble tea in Tampa, and so far, Kaleisia Tea Lounge is my favorite. They have an excellent selection of teas, all brewed and sweetened to your liking, as well as smoothies (soy milk available). They also have a small, all-vegan menu. Add to that some comfy couches and board games and what more do you need?! I recently recruited a few hungry vegan friends to meet up at Kaleisia to drink tea, scarf vegan food, and talk and laugh way too loudly.

Iced hibiscus tea with boba in an old glass jar? Why, YES PLEASE!

I highly recommend the taro smoothie with boba (purple one on the left)

Asian Noodles with perfect tofu

Avocado Wrap

Pumpkin Coconut Soup - creamy and comforting

Hummus - a classic

Spring Rolls - simply delicious

The only menu items NOT ordered that night were the edamame and the cranberry-walnut salad. Everything we ordered was pretty great, though, with the Asian Noodles and Pumpkin Coconut Soup being the unanimous favorites. Another great thing about Kaleisia is that all of their delicious drinks and food items are reasonably priced.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Don't Burst My Chocolate Bubble

As I mentioned in I Like Lakeland: Part One, my friend A and I checked out Chamberlin's Natural Foods store and scored some sweet vegan treats. Now that I've had time to taste them, it's time to share my findings with the masses. And as you'll soon find out, reviewing one particular chocolate bar was much more difficult than anticipated.

Chamberlin's had a selection of vegan and gluten-free cookies made by Everyday Gourmet Vegan Bakery. They had me at "vegan," "gluten-free," and "cookie." It was really hard to choose which ones to try, but I narrowed it down to three. The first one, the fudge stripe cookie, made me think of those crispy Keebler cookies of a similar name. I used to like them as a kid, and it's kind of fun to try veganized versions of things we used to like in our pre-veg days, right?

Well, the Keebler elves may as well pack up the treehouse and find new jobs, because Everyday Gourmet's Fudge Stripe cookie knocks their version out of the forest. Thick, soft, chewy, perfect amount of chocolate and cookie-sweetness. I never would have expected such a moist cookie out of a package off a shelf.

Next up: their brownie with walnuts.

Again, this brownie is amazingly moist and fudgy. The walnuts add texture and flavor. What a perfect brownie. It's huge, too.

The Italian Almond cookie also intrigued me (and made me think of my friend, Kate. Hi Kate!).

This is a much lighter cookie due to the absence of chocolate, but still perfectly-sweet and with excellent almond flavor. This would go well with coffee or tea in the morning. And, like the other Everyday Gourmet cookies, this cookie is ultra-moist.

Needless to say, I'm a big fan of Everyday Gourmet. If you find their products in your city, check them out!

Now, let me tell you a little story about this next product. It's called Bubble Chocolate and it just seemed like a silly novelty to try. A and I both bought a bar and we sampled some of mine that night. I was expecting it to have a sort of Pop Rocks or Rice Krispies effect, but it ended up being rather... quiet. The texture is kind of fluffy and airy (duh - bubbles).

I returned home with most of the chocolate bar (we only sampled a few squares) and I had the bar in my bag, ready to photograph it over the weekend for the blog. Well, long story short, my cousin's dog sniffed out the chocolate and ate the whole thing. Don't worry -- the dog was fine, just bouncing off the walls (literally) for the entire day and evening. The dog ate the wrapper, too, so I didn't have anything left to photograph (except maybe the dog...). A gave me what was left of her bar for the blog, which was mighty kind.

But then I forgot about it and left the bar in the car for a day or two.

You know I'm in Florida, right?

So, in case you were wondering, this is what Bubble Chocolate looks like after it sits in a warm car for a day or two - it turns extra bubbly. (Good thing it isn't summer yet.)

The inside (actually-bubbly part) of the chocolate looks about the same.

So basically, my thoughts on Bubble Chocolate are:
1. Not as fun as you might think
2. Not suitable for dogs
3. Not heat-resistant

Just skip this one.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I Like Lakeland: Part Two

My nerdy interest in health food stores brought me to Anthony's Health Hut, the other health food store in Lakeland. This is not my kind of health food store: too many supplements, not enough food. They have a teeny, tiny cafe that makes a couple of soups, a couple of sandwiches, and a couple of smoothies and juices. I will say that their smoothie prices are reasonable; much cheaper than your average Smoothie King or Tropical Smoothie Cafe. Still, unless you're looking for every vitamin on the market, skip Anthony's. (I didn't have my camera with me for this visit, but there wasn't much to photograph, anyway.)

I stopped at another roadside produce stand on this camera-less visit and loaded up on cheap veggies and blueberries for the week. They offered hot boiled peanuts, but they were out of a Crock Pot! Authenticity Fail!

With my camera back in hand, I visited Hollis Garden, a small colorful botanic garden on the lake that is popular for weddings and photo shoots. There were many photographers roaming the gardens while I was there.

Oh, hey! They're vegan-friendly!

Strolling along the lake

Found this bad-ass family park

I'm also interested in libraries (SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY!), so I headed back over to the Lake Morton (Swan Lake) area to check out the Lakeland Public Library, where I was incredibly impressed and pleased to find three shelves of veg*n cookbooks in the cooking section! Go Lakeland!

The library is currently undergoing renovations inside, but it's still a nice set-up with a sitting area by giant windows that overlook Lake Morton. How could anyone read with a perfect view of swans, geese, ducks, and other seabirds romping around right in front of them?!

Time for another piece of fun Lakeland trivia! Does this look familiar to any of you? (Especially Johnny Depp fans.)

There's plenty to like in Lakeland, Florida, and I really enjoyed exploring the city over the weekend. Because there's only so much eating one can do in a short visit, I plan on returning and scouring the area for hidden vegan treasures. Until then, I hope you enjoyed learning about The City of Swans.

Monday, March 7, 2011

I Like Lakeland: Part One

Until this past weekend, all I had really experienced of Lakeland, Florida, was their Moe's. This past weekend, with help from a lovely friend/tour guide, I gave Lakeland a proper gander, and I liked what I saw.

My tour of Lakeland kicked off with a trip to BD's Mongolian Grill. Now, long time readers will know that one of my favorite restaurants in Kansas City is Genghis Khan, so my expectations for a Mongolian grill place are mighty high. And I'm going to be honest, BD's doesn't even stack up to Genghis Khan, BUT - since I'm many, many miles away from my beloved Genghis Khan - BD's is a decent substitute. I appreciate that they advertise their veg-friendliness (this was especially comforting after a disgusting experience at a different Mongolian grill place in South Dakota).

My friend and I also got there at 3 in the afternoon, so there was no line, so the grill was all ours, no need for partitions. (Mwa ha ha ha!)

A's plate


BD's has a variety of spices and sauces to add to your plate (pre-grilling) and a nice selection of veggies, as well as the oh-so-necessary tofu. They also offer brown rice, and any restaurant that offers brown rice gets a gold star for that. A and I did the one bowl deal, but if you decided to go for multiple bowls (at a higher price), soup and salad is included (but I'm not sure if any of the soup offerings are vegan).

From BD's, we went to one of Lakeland's many lakes, and clearly the best one, Lake Morton. Lake Morton is officially one of my favorite places in the world, and you'll see why in the following pictures.

Birds everywhere!

Lakeland is called The City of Swans for a reason! You can read about how the swans came to Lakeland HERE. (You never know -- this may be a trivia question some day.)

From Swan Lake (tee hee!), A and I moseyed on over to Chamberlin's Natural Foods, because I have a nerdy interest in all health food stores.

Chamberlin's is small, but carries some of the essentials, as well as a nice selection of chocolates. A and I picked up some goodies, and you can look forward to a review of those products soon.

Our headliner for the evening was downtown Lakeland's First Friday art crawl. There were tons of people filling the streets. We surveyed a little art, strolled past some antique cars, glimpsed a fire juggler, and then headed down to another lake for the hot air balloon launch, which ended up being canceled due to the wind. We were sucked into an antique shop for a little while, then popped into Mitchell's Coffee Shop and discovered there was an improv comedy show about to start. Hey, why not? We stuck around and watched the Improv Addicts get silly.

All in all, a good full afternoon and evening in Lakeland! More Lakeland coverage coming soon.