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Counter Culture Resturant Review

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While in Austin Texas a couple weeks ago,  I made it a plan to stop into the Vegan restaurant Counter Culture. The restaurant is located just east of down town at 2337 E Cesar Chavez St Austin, TX 78702  If you are looking for James Beard award-winning fine dining, this is not your place.  But if you want down home comfort food that will knock your socks off (and your cowboy boots), this place is for you. (The food looked much better in person than in the pictures below, lighting for pictures was not the best for my camera phone)

The restaurant is in an old brick building, the owner has done a nice job of creating a comfortable diner restaurant feel with an option of eating outside on the patio if you like.

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We were greeted immediately upon entrance by a very pleasant young lady. All the staff there are friendly and make you feel at home. Up front they have the daily specials nicely scribed on a chalkboard. They also have a board that continually thanks the customers.

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All their food I was told is made from scratch. They even make their own faux meats and all their own sauces and dips, even the ketchup. Also, most of their desserts are sweetened with dates, not sugar.

Their menu is a comfort food extravaganza as it would be in any diner. Also, every item on the menu if applicable, is marked with a designator indicating a special dietary needs category. An (R) means it is at least 95% Raw. A (GF) indicates it is gluten free. A (SF) means it is soy free and a (E2) indicates it is Engine 2 diet friendly. This makes eating here on a special diet easy.

The first day I visited. (Yes, it was so good I came back for breakfast the next day.) I ordered the Philly Seitan Sandwich with a side of Curry Quinoa Salad. The bread was soft and fresh, the cheeze sauce was warm and had a nice cheesy flavor everything on this plate was great.

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Philly Seitan Sandwich with a side of Curry Quinoa Salad (You get your choice of one side)

My companion ordered the Mac & Cheeze. I was told it was their best seller on the menu and one day I was there they sold out of it. It was also cheesy and had a great flavor. It was topped with a bread crumb topping. I was told by my companion that it was one of the best vegan Mac & Cheeses she had ever eaten. My other companion ordered the Sausage Sauerkraut Sandwich. She was also very very happy with her meal. The sausage is made in-house.

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Mac & Cheeze with a Ceaser salad and potato salad (You get your choice of two sides)

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Sausage Sauerkraut Sandwich with a Ceasar salad. (Your choice of one side)

We ended that day’s lunch with desert. I had the Brownie Sundae. it was out of this world good. The brownie was soft but not too soft. I am not a big sweets fan and the brownie was not real sickening sweet like brownies can be. I believe that this is because they use dates to sweeten their desserts, it was outstanding. We also had their Coconut Cream Pie, OMG another home run!

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Brownie Sundae

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Coconut Cream Pie

The next morning we arrived just before they opened to try their breakfast/brunch. We enjoyed a nice conversation with a local gentleman that was waiting to pick up his pre-ordered Christmas Dinner.

We ordered the East Side Quesadilla, Breakfast Burrito, and Seasonal Omelet.We also ordered two sides just so we could taste. A side of potatoes and one Egg Nog pancake.

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East Side Quesadilla and Roasted Potatoes with homemade ketchup

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Breakfast Burrito and Orange, Kale and Ginger juice.

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The Seasonal Omelet and Egg Nog Pancake with Cranberry Drizzle

All the food we had was outstanding!

The flavors were right on and presented well. The fruit was fresh and full of flavor. The breakfast burrito was huge and just as big on taste.

I was told by my companion that the Quesadilla was the best breakfast she had ever eaten, including non-vegan breakfast.

The omelet was light and fluffy full of fresh vegetables. Everything was so good that there was talk about driving up from San Antonio where we were staying later in the week just to get some more of the Counter Culture fare.

In a state that is known for and runs on Texas BBQ, Counter Culture is a breath of fresh air and a mouth of fresh food.

If you are ever in Austin Texas and in need of some good old Vegan comfort food then Counter Culture is a must eat at destination.

Counter Culture on Yelp

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Vegan Gourmand’s Vegan Biscotti Recipe

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With the weather getting colder and the coffee getting stronger I thought we needed something to sweeten our mornings the Italian way. So I though to would share with you my Biscotti recipe. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (you could also put 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon of pumpkin spice into the mix as well)
  • egg replacer, the amount equivalent to 3 eggs (I use Energ brand)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon real vanilla extract

 

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 bag of Dark Chocolate chips for dunking (I sometimes add the zest of one orange into the chocolate as it is melting to  give it a citrus note) (or maybe some crushed candy canes to give it that peppermint kick)

NOTE: Get creative with this. If you don’t like a certain flavor, add the one you like. Don’t like dark chocolate maybe white chocolate is more to your fancy or none at all. Like almonds? Use almond extract instead of vanilla and add slivered almonds into the dough. It’s up to you!

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat together the oil, prepared egg replacer, water, sugar and vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, baking powder and cinnamon, stir into the wet mixture to form a heavy dough. Divide dough into two pieces. Form each piece into a roll almost as long as your cookie sheet. Place roll onto the prepared cookie sheet, and press down and flatten until its about 1/2 inch thick.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown. Remove from the baking sheet to cool on a wire rack. When The Biscotti logs are cool, slice each one crosswise into 1/2 inch slices. Place the slices cut side up back onto the baking sheet. Bake for an additional 6 to 8 minutes on each side for a total of 12 to 16 minutes. Slices should be lightly toasted and golden brown on edges.
  4. Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler and dip the flat bottoms of the biscotti to cover the bottoms.  Let cool until the chocolate hardens and enjoy!

Bom Bistro Resturant Review

This new restaurant, the Bom Bistro is not Vegan or even Vegetarian but they are very friendly to both. You can be sure that you can get plenty to eat here, I eat there at least once a week.

It’s Hanoi street food. They are quoted in part as saying on their website  “Our unique house recipes protect the authentic flavors and simplicity of Hanoi street food while elevating them with high quality ingredients.”

“Our mission is to bring a taste of Vietnamese soul food to our guests.”

They are located at 12910 SE Kent-Kangley Rd Kent, WA 98030 Phone: (253) 277-8405   They are open 7 days a week. 11am-9pm

Yelp at the time of this post has it rated at 4 1/2 stars with 52 reviews and they have only been open months.

The restaurant is always very clean and the servers are friendly and prompt to take your order.

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The food is fresh and always cooked to order, not sitting around in warming pan or under a light. This makes it easy to ask to have things left out or substitute ingredients. The owner goes to the market in Seattle every three days to get fresh ingredients for all his creations. Oh, and did I mention that it is cheap eats!!

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Here is a sample of what I order when I go. (This is what I order for two people, its a lot of food)                                                                   Menu Link

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Mango Salad with fried tofu. $7.50 To keep it vegan order with the soy sauce dressing instead of the fish sauce dressing.  This is a must-have favorite of mine. It’s so fresh and refreshing to eat.

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Classic Fried Rice with fried tofu ordered with no egg.  $8.00 Not much more to say here but yumm.

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Tofu Banh Mi Sandwich $5.00 This is a great Banh Mi! The bread on this sandwich is so fresh and soft. I tried to find out where they buy their bread and all I could get out of them was that it was in Seattle. They are not telling us any of their secrets.

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NOTE: Vegetarian Spring Rolls $6.00 are new on the menu and I have only tried them once. (I am not sure at this time if they are 100% Vegan more investigation is needed) but they are very tasty. They are done a bit different that your normal Viet spring rolls. The filling is a filling rather than veggies rolled up inside and the wrapper is lighter.

(They have fresh rolls as well, just ask to leave out the shrimp)

They also have Pho that is made with a vegetarian broth that is vegan. I have not tried it yet because I can’t pull myself away from the offerings shown above. I will someday give it a try.

Its refreshing to see someone take such pride in the food they prepare. And it’s great when they have Vegan and Vegetarian options or, will work with you to make a dish fit your dietary needs.

So if you are ever in Kent Washington and enjoy fresh Vietnamese soul food the Bom Bistro is the place to eat. You could say, it’s the Bomb!!

Sorry, I could not resist!

 

Vegan Tater Tot Casserole

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Mom’s old tater tot casserole is a comfort food icon and a dish that will warm the recesses of your heart. It was sure good tasting and full of love but not all that good for you.

Well, now you can enjoy this all-time favorite without the unhealthy side effects. Here is a recipe that hits all the taste buds as well as the texture and mouth feel. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Ingredients:

1 32oz bag Tater Tots
2 tablespoons Vegan Butter (Earth Balance is the brand I use)
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups plain almond milk or other vegan milk (I use almond milk)
1 cup vegetable broth
1 teaspoon salt (optional) (I use seasoned salt)
3 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 portobello mushroom, diced
1/2 sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups ground crumbles
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables

Process:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter and add flour, stirring until a paste then cook for 1-2 minutes, don’t let it brown.

On medium-high heat; slowly add broth and then the milk a little at a time constantly whisking.

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Mix corn starch with cold water in a small bowl until it becomes a slurry. Add in cornstarch 1 tablespoon at a time, while heating to a boil, stirring constantly. Once it starts to boil, reduce heat to low, then taste. Depending on the saltiness of the broth you used, you can add 1 teaspoon salt and some black pepper to your taste.

In a skillet, saute the diced mushroom in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until soft.

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Add cooked mushrooms to the soup mixture.

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Then, saute onions and garlic in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, till onions are clear. Be sure not to scorch or burn the garlic because they will become bitter.

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Brown ground crumbles in a little oil then combine it with the onion & garlic mixture, also add the frozen vegetables to this mixture at this time.

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In lightly oiled 12″ x 8″ casserole dish, layer with the crumble mixture on the bottom, then the mushroom soup on top of that, and then completely cover top with frozen tater tots.

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Bake uncovered for about 55-60 mins. At the very end you can broil the top to brown the tater tots a bit more if you like them more crispy. Serve warm!

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2016 VegNews Veggie Awards, its time to vote!

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That’s right folks its that time of year again where you get to vote for your favorite Vegan products, restaurants, people and organizations.

It only takes a few minutes and its a great way to pay homage to your favorites, not to mention the opportunity to win some great prizes.

Click on the banner above to get started or click here.

Portobello Vegan Trattoria Review

This last 4th of July weekend I traveled to the most Vegan friendly city in America, Portland, Oregon. While I was there I was determined to sample some of that cities great Vegan fare.

I ended up at the Portobello Vegan Trattoria, an Italian Vegan restaurant. It is located at: 1125 SE Division ST Portland OR 97202

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When we arrived with no reservations on a Friday night around 6pm. We asked for a table and were told that they were all booked up and the wait would be about an hour and a half unless we wanted to dine at the bar. My party and I where hungry and so we agreed to sit at the bar.

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The menu offered a limited amount of plates but this is a Trattoria which in Italy is larger than a cafe but smaller than a full restaurant and so the menu reflected that nicely.  The offerings hit some of the traditional Italian fare. Gnocchi, ravioli, manicotti and much more.

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They have a tasting menu, for $38, where you choose any three items from the menu and one desert. What else would any self respecting food blogger do than to order the tasting menu while reviewing a restaurant? I was there with two other people, so we all ordered the tasting menu and snuck tastes from each others plates, you know… so I could review a wide variety of their offerings.

We started with a basic kale caesar and an order of roasted rainbow carrots. Both were very good. The ceasar salad dressing was outstanding, they sell it there by the bottle. We were told that the portion sizes where a little smaller because it was the tasting menu size.

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In my Italian family gnocchi is the king, the dish of all dishes, served only with pesto and not red sauce, so one of the first things I look for on a menu at an Italian restaurant is the gnocchi and if its served with pesto or red sauce. Portobello serves a gnocchi that is the best I have had this side of my grandmother’s homemade gnocchi. They add a few wonderful twists by first pan crisping the gnocchi leaving it a bit caramelized and crispy on one side as well as adding some finely chopped broccolini and a few cherry tomatoes, wow! It was so good I ate half of it before remembering to snap a photo. (This happens way too often to me it seems).

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Seeing manicotti on the menu was a surprise to me because manicotti is mostly cheese and in my opinion is hard to make Vegan and still have that rustic Italian flavor and mouth feel. Well Portobello has done it well. Filled with spinach creamed cauliflower topped in marinara sauce and sprinkled with walnut parmesan.

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I also ordered the breaded abalone mushroom with potato celeriac gratin, wilted spinach and dill lemon dressing. It was good but reminded all of us of a piece of English style fish & purple potato chips.

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On to the desert.

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One of us had the salted caramel sundae. It was salted caramel ice cream, caramels sauce, hot fudge, coconut whipped cream and candied walnuts. It was so good. All the flavors worked so well together and was not too sweet as to make you want to put down the spoon for a break.

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We also enjoyed a s’more baked alaska.  It was a meringue (made from aquafaba) covered chocolate ice cream with a graham cracker bottom. (It is not on the website menu pic above). Again, another outstanding desert. Spot on!

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My understanding is that they change their menu items occasionally. While on Yelp looking at the reviews for Portobello I saw photos (290 of them) of plates that some of which were not offered the day we were there. All in all I will be back again. It was high quality food with friendly service and the only all Vegan Italian restaurant I have seen. 4 and a half stars out of 5.

New Vegan Show to Debut in July On A&E

A new Vegan life style series is debuting on the A&E channel July 27th @ 7:30am EST. The star and host of the show will be Nafsika Antypas. The show will be called PlantBased by Nafsika.

The show will have cooking demos, interactive segments, interviews with celebrity guests, nutritional experts and more, all while exploring the life style and living healthy.

I say its about time. Lets hope it does well and can continue on for years to come.

Below you will see the A&E show info.

TELEVISION SHOW: Plant-based, by Nafsika
RUN TIME: 30 Min
GENRE: Lifestyle / Food / Health & Wellness
AIRING DATES: July 27th, 2016 – August 31st, 2016
AIRING TIME: 7:30am – 8am
RECURRING DAY: Wednesday
WEEKS AIRING: 6

TOTAL ORIGINAL EPISODES: 12
REACH: 70 Million Households
REGIONS: National, United States

LISTINGS Cable / Satellite / IPTV
DIRECTV 266
DISH NETWORK 119
C-BAND AMC 18 Channel 201
AT&T U-VERSE 1272 / 272 (SD)
SOUTHERN FIBER NET: 1215 / 215 (SD)
(Available on most cable providers)

The Impossible Burger – 100% Vegan

Impossible Food’s has made a 100% Vegan burger that looks, cooks, tastes and smells like ground beef and even bleeds like a real burger.

It is rumored that it will be offered in selected restaurants in New York, Los Angels and San Francisco first. Then eventually it will be sold like ground beef in the stores and on the menu in other restaurants in the U.S.

From what I have seen it may be too realistic in flavor, look and taste for some Vegetarians and Vegans to stomach. It is so realistic it even bleeds juices when it cooks.

Google tried to buy this company for 200-300 million but was unable to come to an agreement on price. While Microsoft’s Bill Gates has invested in the company.

The possibilities for the use of this product are endless and I can hardly wait to try some as a burger, meat balls, or meatloaf.

Check out the companies website.  I am sure they will be creating even more impossible foods very soon!

 

5th Annual Food Revolution Summit 2016 April 30th – May 8th Its FREE!!

The 5th Annual 2016 Food Revolution Summit is just two days away! If you want to be informed and empowered and if you want to find out how you can prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes, fatigue, poor sleep and other heath issues with food as well as improve your over all life then the Food Revolution Summit is for you. The best part is that it is completely FREE!!!! And you don’t have to leave your home to take advantage of it!!

Listen, watch and learn right in front of your home computer!

Click Here To Go To The Website And Register

You will learn from 24 speakers and topics:

  • Dr. Dean Ornish, M.D. – The Four Pillars Of Lasting Health
  • Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D. – How to Eat And Live
  • Dr. Neal Barnard, M.D. – How to kickstart Your Health
  • Dr. Dan amen, M.D. – The Brain Warriors way
  • Dr. Jane Goodall, Ph.D., DBE – Sowing The Seeds Of Hope
  • Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D. – Foods That Harm & Foods That Heal
  • Senator Cory Booker – Sane Food Policy: We Can Do it!!
  • Vani Hari – Protect Your Family From Toxic Food
  • Andrew Kimbrell – The Truth About Genetically Engineered Food
  • Ritamarie Loscalzo, DC, CCN – Healthy Digestion for a Healthy Life
  • Dr. Michael Greger, M.D. – Affordable Super Foods For Lasting Super Health
  • Dr. Susan Peirce, Ph.D. – How To Achieve Permanent Weight Loss
  • Dr. David Perlmutter, M.D. – The Gut-Brain Connection
  • Gene Baur – How Compassion Can Change Your Life
  • Dr. David Katz, M.D. – The Optimal Diet For Human Beings
  • Ron Finley – Growing Healthy Food & Communities
  • Chris Wark – Use Nutrition To Fight Cancer
  • Ronnie Cummins – Cook Organic, Not The Planet
  • Marion Nestle – Taking On Big Soda (And Winning!)
  • Dr. Vandana Shiva, Ph.D – Stand Up For Your Planet
  • Dr. Mimi Guarneri, M.D. – Putting Integrative Heath To Work For You
  • Dr. Michael Klaper, M.D. – Our Best Hope For A livable World
  • Robyn O’Brien – Food Safety: What You Need To Know
  • Dr. Christiane Northrup, M.D. – Goddesses Never Age

Take advantage of these great minds in health, I know I am!

Click Here To Go To The Website And Register

 

 

 

 

Food Choices Documentary – Watch Free For a Limited Time Only!

You will never look at your food the same way again!

 

Do yourself and your body a favor and check out this outstanding new documentary “Food Choices”.  This film is chalked full of the latest health information from the leading scientist and experts in the field of health and nutrition.

You can watch this outstanding documentary for free during the world wide free viewing event that ends in just 14 hours from the time of this post. So get to the site and give the movie a watch you will be so glad you did!

Click on the link below and then click the “Watch the film NOW!” box. 

http://www.foodchoicesmovie.com/

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