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Monday, January 16, 2012

Guest Post: Plant-Based Pharmacist Gets Zen

My buddy, Dustin of Pursue A Healthy You gives food blogging a try! Check out his birthday meal at Zen Forrest Pan Asian Restaurant in New Port Richey, Florida.

Birthday At The Zen

Reaching the ripe old age of 34 calls for a celebration! Now, making it to 34 isn’t all that special or even some sort of grand milestone but it’s a birthday none the less, and birthdays are always a great excuse to celebrate. After all, what else could be better than making someone else slave away preparing and cooking a fabulous meal while you sit and enjoy time with a great friend. Aww yes… a delightful meal and no dirty dishes for once, a little slice of heaven.

This birthday would be spent at Zen Forrest cafe in New Port Richey, FL. Zen Forrest is a hidden gem tucked away in a small strip mall but don’t let that fool you. It’s a perfect mix of classy and trendy with moderate prices, excellent service, and delectable cuisine. The earth tone colors and scaled down lighting make for a very peaceful yet spirited environment as you can see.

Zen Forrest is the place to be if you’re looking for Asian food. They serve dishes from numerous countries including Japan, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, and even Malaysia. While not a vegan cafe, they do have a few options on the menu that can be made vegan if you ask. They also pride themselves in being MSG and trans-fat free.

My friend and I started off our dinner with a succulent plate of Japanese edamame lightly flavored with ginger, spice, and course sea salt. This appetizer really hit the spot and kept us asking for more.

House salad topped with sprouts and red cabbage was next on the menu. The black sesame seed dressing was amazing and really made the salad stand out.

My friend choose the popular Tofu Zen for her dinner selection. This dish was comprised of tofu steaks lightly dusted with rice flour and pan fried. In addition, the steaks were served with a variety of fresh vegetables (sprouts, red bell pepper, baby corn, shitake and straw mushrooms, and cilantro) and a bed of steamed jasmine rice. I stole a bit of the tofu steak and was glad I did. It tasted delicious!

For my birthday entree I chose the Zen Forrest fried rice dish. This entree certainly didn’t disappoint either. Since I’m not only vegan but also very health conscious, this was the perfect dish for me. It included a mountain (literally!) of fresh herbs and vegetables served on a bed of jasmine and red rice. I really enjoyed the red rice as this gave the dish a little extra something to set it apart from most rice based dishes I’ve eaten at other establishments.

The best part about this entree was the amount of fresh vegetables it contained. For every one cup of rice there were three cups of vegetables included. I was in heaven as my taste buds soaked up nature’s ultimate confetti of crisp sprouts, shredded carrots, baby corn, red & green onions, sweet peas, and a handful of other vegetables/herbs incorporated into “Mt. Veggilicious” as I called it. This dish made my day. What a perfect birthday meal!

Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better dining experience. The company of my friend made it all the better. I’d highly recommend a trip to the Zen for anyone celebrating a birthday or just needing an excuse to get out of the house and enjoy a fantastic meal. I guarantee you won’t regret it!

Dustin Rudolph, also better known as The Plant-Based Pharmacist, prefers produce over pills when it comes to helping his patients prevent and reverse their chronic diseases. He is currently writing a book on how to achieve optimal health by using plant-based nutrition and a vegan diet. He also maintains a website ( and a health blog ( in his spare time.


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